Tag Archives: GAPS and kids

Dairy Causes Some Kids to Have Constipation

It's the picture of Italian ice-cream in a sho...

It’s the picture of Italian ice-cream in a shop of Rome, Italy (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Tonight I found a site by Dr. John Briffa with a fairly recent post on cow’s milk and pediatric constipation:  Could dairy products be the cause of some children’s constipation?

I nearly wanted to explode “YES!” because I just can’t get this information out there loud enough!  Dairy causes constipation in (some) kids.  We saw this one year ago in my (then 6-year-old) daughter when we completely removed dairy several times and added it back in several times.  And what do you suppose happens to those constipated kids if dairy is never removed?  Well, maybe they turn into adults like me with severe, severe constipation.  I am not sure why (or if) dairy causes the initial constipation yet, but I do know that lifelong gut immotility has led me to have some issues with bloating, probably SIBO (small intestinal bowel overgrowth)–which makes sense because I was not getting the sweeping motion forward to keep the bacteria from creeping upwards.  I also have lots of food sensitivities (non-IgE) that I can’t help but wonder if they didn’t form through the years with the continued insult on the GI (gastrointestinal) tract.

It may be encouraging to know that my 7-year-old daughter was exceptionally sensitive to ALL dairy one year ago.   Even as a solely nursing infant, she would have longer than normal periods of no bowel movements, and I speculate it was due to my dairy intake.  She can now tolerate an occasional ice cream cone with no stalls in peristalsis.  We overhauled our diet in a big way, taking out “bads” and putting in “goods”, and maybe, just maybe, she can continue her dairy dalliances at times with exceptional nutrition otherwise.

The research article that Dr. Briffa was referring to was “The Role of Cow’s Milk Allergy in Pediatric Chronic Constipation: A Randomized Clinical Trial.”

For those who are following along regarding my GI progress, I am currently “taking my diet down” to I guess what would be considered Autoimmune Paleo, although I still adhere to GAPS.  I’ll let you know how it goes for my gut.  I’ve done it for four days now, and the last two days I’ve skipped my magnesium with success.  I believe any endeavor must have a goal.  By “taking my diet down,” I’m hoping to see improved bowel movements with either less magnesium or preferably none at all, less bloating, no irritable bowel symptoms, and no headaches.  I’m putting diet to the test.  We’ll see how much that honey, almond flour, egg, and fruit actually affect things here.

Other constipation related posts:

Slow and Steady Constipation Improvement (April 17, 2013)

Cow’s Milk and Refractory Constipation ((January 2, 2013)

A Doctor Visits the Doctor (December 5, 2012)

Whats’ Working (A Constipation Post) (November 3, 2012)

Is it Eggs (October 21, 2012)

Jordan and Steve (A Constipation Post) (October 17, 2012)

Bowels of Steel (October 8, 2012)

How to Promote Real Food to Kids

Dear Reader,

Yesterday after leaving church I was so disgusted that I’m still about ready to pop.  By 10:15 in the morning my daughters had been given Skittles and Goldfish crackers and had free access to bowls and jars of Jolly Ranchers, Dum Dum suckers, Tootsie Rolls, and bubble gum balls in the foyer.  Since Sunday school was such a disaster, I couldn’t stomach to see what food massacre was going to be offered in children’s church, so I took my anger and my family home with me.  (Update 9/3/13:  Our church has a new snack policy!  Yippee!)

I figure I’m allowed my anger if it keeps me motivated to responsible action.  My reason for going to medical school:  “I love people.”   Upon threat of hanging, drawing, and quartering, my husband strictly prohibited me from saying that in my medical school  admission’s interview.  But I do care.  And thus this silly blog.  I have seen first-hand the difference appropriate nutrition makes in my family’s health.  It is a sorely neglected facet of medical care.

Even though my mom is a great cook, I was raised on strawberry frosted Pop Tarts, Kraft Cheese and Macaroni, and Snickers candy bars.  I’m no food saint.  My kids gave me hate stares over food when we changed our eating a year ago.  They begged.  And whined.  Fussed.  I wanted so to turn back.  However, turn back to what?  The potential of boobs on my eight year old child from the high circulating insulin levels and hormonal disruptors in our foods?  Chronic sinusitis in my husband requiring three antibiotics in 6 weeks?  Bowel movements twice a month in myself?  Seven allergy prescriptions among my three daughters who were still having uncontrolled allergy symptoms?

I feel the frustration and difficulty of navigating nutritional change.  But please, let’s keep on.  I am going to tell you what your pediatrician or family doctor doesn’t.  Processed foods are bad for you.  The goal:  Keep them to a bare minimum.  Even whole wheat ones.  Even Campbell’s canned tomato soup.  Particularly Campbell’s cream of mushroom soup.  Too many flour, sugar, and dairy products are bad for you.  Nutrition counts.  Nutrition counts.  Please, keep changing.  Find ways in your busy schedule.  Your tight budget.  Your denials and rationalizations.  Make it happen.  I’m telling you as a medical doctor, it matters.

With heartfelt support,


Ten (Plus) Tips on Getting Kids to Eat Healthy Foods

1.  wpid-IMAG0326.jpg wpid-IMAG0488.jpgPick a few things to serve and arrange silly faces on the plate with them.  Don’t just do it for snack.  Also arrange supper this way if you can.  Or breakfast.  Or lunch.

2.  wpid-IMAG1507-1-1.jpgMake them eat a vegetable BEFORE they’re allowed to eat another kind of food/snack.  No ifs, ands, or buts.  Sometimes it works out that they forget about that other snack after the achy jaw from crunchy celery and carrots.

3.  wpid-IMAG0234.jpgTake advantage of aesthetics.  Presentation is everything.  Try serving snacks, or even an occasional dinner, on beautiful serving ware.

4. wpid-IMAG2341.jpgChoose colorful foods and cut them into small pieces.  Smaller is better for easy munching.  Caveat:  kids love to eat long carrots like Bugs Bunny does.  That is, if they know who Bugs Bunny is.

5.  wpid-IMAG0482.jpgAssemble the snacks into animals.  Shown here are blueberries, apricots, and currants.

6.  Accessorize:

wpid-IMAG2324.jpg  Daquairi umbrellas

wpid-IMAG0264.jpg  Skewers

wpid-IMAG1233-1.jpg  Ribbons

Green beans on a stick  Toothpicks with “frills”

W is for watermelon wands!  As above with the "honeydew", I used spinach on the bottom for "leaves" and to work in vegetable exposure.  Stickers are on the top (we are approaching Valentines' Day), but you need to use one on the back, too, or else the sticker doesn't want to cling to the skinny stick.  I cheated and used the store's precut melon.  Stickers

7.  wpid-IMAG0486.jpgStarve them–by American terms.  Kids don’t need to eat all day.  It drives the insulin levels up and keeps them up all day.  A CARDIOVASCULAR DISASTER.  They’ll eat that healthy cut apple or carrot if they’re really hungry.  They’ll be really hungry to eat “honest food” if you stick to breakfast, lunch, dinner, and a whole food type snack or two!  And if they don’t like lunch, well, they’re more likely to be desperate enough to eat supper.  If they didn’t like lunch and supper, finally maybe they’ll eat that “healthy”  evening snack.  Don’t you remember your parents line…”If you’re hungry you’ll eat it.”

Sometimes I hear a parent say, “…but he won’t eat anything!”  Seriously?  I look at the child again.  I can clearly see that the kid is eating something.  The kid may most certainly be nutrient deprived, but that kid ain’t even close to being calorie deprived.  Who buys the groceries?  The kid?

8.  wpid-IMAG2064.jpg wpid-IMAG0236.jpgPlace a lonely plate of cut vegetables or cleaned fruit on a very clean, uncluttered kitchen counter or table. Something about a lonely plate just sitting there with colorful food that promotes snacking.  Worst case scenario, you eat them.

9.  wpid-IMAG2113-1.jpg  wpid-IMAG0128.jpgMake it look like food they understand.  For example, the first photo looks like donuts, but they’re made from coconut flour muffin batter poured into “donut” pans.  The second photo is our “sausage McMuffin.”  An almond flour biscuit with grass fed, uncured, no sugar sausage patty.

10. wpid-IMAG2148-1.jpgRemove processed foods and food snacks from your home entirely.  Just do it.  They are not nutrient dense.  Any nutrients in there are enriched.  I call them flour products on Botox.  Remove the unfair, dishonest processed foods.  Level the playing field for better food choices.  Steer toward keeping fruits, vegetables, nuts, and dairy products with no sugar and colorings added around for snacks and meals.  Eventually, your child will eat whole food type snacks and dinners if that’s all they’re offered.  Sure, at church they’ll dive into the donuts, cookies, and candy.  It can be a little embarrassing at a friend’s home when your kids eat all the coffee cake, but otherwise, not so much harm done if they’re getting “the good stuff” at home.

I don’t know.  Maybe these things we’ve done will help you, too.   Other, more broad ideas and also odds and ends I keep in my head include:

  • Reasonable yet firm.  If they feel I’m inflexible, it may just be a battle for control.  Yet, if they feel I’ll let them off the hook every time, I’ll lose every time.  Find the balance.  Be consistent.
  • Wheat is a treat.  Keep it that way.
  • Repetition is the key to success.  Repeated exposure to each particular food, maybe even 10-15 times over, may be the key to success.  Yes, 10-15 times over.  Really.  Keep at it.  Don’t give up.
  • Model good eating behaviours.
  • Small serving sizes, a bite or two, may be the most I can expect for awhile.
  • Reverse psychology:  Tell them to save it for you because it’s so yummy and one of your favorites.  Don’t eat it and don’t snitch.”  A bite or two may disappear.
  • I’ve seen places recommend to not do this, but honestly, it works for us:  No seconds on a desired meal item until a couple of bites (or more) of the least desired food item (zucchini, squash, meat, etc) has been taken.  After the bite or two, have at whatever you wish.  Same goes for dessert if there is any.  There are times my kids choose not to have dessert because they really won’t eat something.  I take note.  They really don’t like it!
  • Educate them on food choices so they see it’s for their health, not a control issue or weight issue.
  • During the early transitions, add some extras–a little extra vanilla, a little extra honey, a little extra cocoa–and taper them down over the year.
  • Kick Dad out of the house if he won’t eat vegetables.  No.  Just kidding.

Good luck!  May success come your way!

Related post:  Be a Vegetable Cheerleader


Holy Crap (Fifteen Pounds of Candy)

Question of the Day:   I would like to try GAPS for my child.  She complains of stomach aches, has poor attention at school, and has a strange tic that she can’t really control (and my doctor does not have any recommendations for me to try)–but will it throw everything off if my kids are offered candy, graham crackers, Goldfish, etc at school and at church, this multiple times a week if not every day?

I want to say, “No.  Of course not.  It will be okay.”  Because I detest fanaticism and obsessiveness.  Never have been to a concert.  Didn’t hang garish posters on my bedroom walls.  Smirk at People Magazine.  Still don’t think GAPS in and of itself is “THE DIET”–just a good starting point as it suggests an elimination diet introduction, nutrient-dense foods, probiotic foods, caution with dairy (a substance with particularly pesky proteins for people), elimination of glutens (besides just wheat gluten), and an overall inspection of lifestyle with regard to promotion of health.

But in this instance, when you’re sorting out food intolerances and trying to remove offending foods to allow the GI tract to regain good probiotic balance, regain a good mucosal barrier, and regain improved villous function, repeated exposure is like picking off a scab, over and over again.  It takes days for certain substances to be eliminated from the body.  Some take weeks.  Some take months.

Daily infringements will not affect too much if you are looking for improved eating habits, improved nutrient-ingestion profiles, or less obesity, but I wouldn’t bother with the headache of a dietary change like GAPS or SCD for that!  I’d just choose a whole foods approach.  If you are looking to figure out if food is the source of stomach aches, headaches, hyperactivity, poor focus, strange tics, constipation, diarrhea, eczema, chronic cough, severe seasonal allergies, or dry eyes (among multiple other problems), then outside food contributions will sabotage your intentions.  And if you’re looking to see if GAPS really can help improve food tolerance, you’ll never really know.  I’m sorry, Goldfish are my 4 year old’s favorite snack, too!

Don’t get me wrong.  I am not ashamed to say I use a little Stevia here and there.  Baking soda in my baked goods.  Today my kids will get Good Life chocolate chips.  Maple syrup makes it onto our pancakes.  Organic mostly graces our table, but there is no paranoia about buying the in-season mangoes on sale for a penny.  However, there have been long stints of time  as we sorted through the GAPS diet and our food sensitivities where we had to be fanatically strict.  And when things are not going well (allergic, snotty noses or constipation come back or lots of complaints about stomach aches or headaches), we drop back to that as much as we can, excluding things we have found to be trouble foods for us on GAPS:  nuts, eggs, and coconut (and dairy is already excluded).  That is not to say we never eat them, we just cut them back and add in more soups and fermented foods.

But if somehow, for at least a month or two, you can be very firm, you can pinpoint if foods contribute to certain symptoms in your kids.  Then you can continue on your merry full GAPS way with some cheats here and there (if you can tolerate the symptoms) and keep wondering if you can “really heal the gut” and “Does the gut really need healing?”.  Full GAPS isn’t too bad, as you get fruits, vegetables, nuts, meats, honey, and coconut products.  Using almond flour and coconut flour, you can make all the baked goods you can eat.  But that’s not good for you.  But you can.

On a positive note, we saw changes within a week in our children that kept us motivated to keep going.  Bowel function improved within 3 days.  Concentration, focus, and mood swings improved within a week.  That strange rooster-like tic went away.  Constant stuffy nose resolved in about a week.  Constant, daily runny nose resolved within about 7-10 days.

And if you’re still reading, check this out!  It is hilarious if you find yourself obsessing and over thinking all this nutrition stuff!  Please note, however, it does contain some expletives:  http://www.nwedible.com/2012/08/tragedy-healthy-eater.html  A real good laugh!

Food is a drug, take only what you need and that which benefits you.

I am not a GAPS provider.  I am not a practicing MD.  I am not offering you medical advice.  I am relaying my thoughts and observations based on our experience of the GAPS diet and modifying our diet to deal with nuisance health issues.  Make sure you’ve ruled out anything serious with you doctor.  If you make a lot of nutritional changes, make sure you’re getting all the nutrients your body (or child’s body )needs.  But I do want to get the word out that food can make a difference in a lot of things that your doctor may not know about or talk about.