When I look at old photos now I wince. I can see the gluten and food issues in my daughter's face so clearly now.
At the time I never noticed.
Her father is blond - so blond he was bald as a baby. My daughter is blonde. So of course she has pale skin, right? It wasn't until after we got her off gluten that I realized she wasn't pale - she was pallid. And the dark circles were not because she had pale skin, but because she was suffering from food intolerances. Dark circles are a sure sign.
Here are more photos of my daughter to show you "before" and "after" we got her off gluten. I'm so familiar with these symptoms now I can spot food issues a mile away when I look at children in person or in the pictures their parents post on Facebook.
Below is my daughter holding her new baby cousin. There it is again, the pallid color and dark circles and pale lips. Puffiness in the face and around the eyes is another sign of food intolerances.
Here it is again, pictured below.
This photo also shows something I hope we have caught in time - her underdeveloped jaw. Gluten intolerance causes mineral deficiency which means your jaw cannot grow big enough, fast enough, to accommodate your teeth. That is why so many kids these days need braces for overcrowding and why the shape of our faces is changing as a species with the bottom third being more narrow than it used to be. It is also a cause of cavities.
I went gluten-free for myself in Feb 2011 as an experiment to see if I could stop being so cranky and tired. I never dreamed my children had a gluten problem or a food problem. They were never sick, not beyond the normal colds kids get every year. (Although now that we are Paleo I can't remember the last time they were sick, not even after a long trip, having visitors, or experiencing a change in the season.)
It was this photo, taken just a month after we cut out gluten, that made me stop in my tracks. Who was this kid?! Where did this color come from? We were still eating sugar and dairy and, frankly, junk, just no gluten.
Not only did the color come back to her face, but her entire personality changed. Perhaps you call it "temperament". She used to be a very, very difficult child. Couldn't handle change. Never slept well. Threw temper tantrums. Was demanding. Frankly, she sucked to live with. Without gluten she became so... happy. And easy-going. After almost two years off gluten I still pinch myself I feel so blessed. :)
Here she is the summer after we got off gluten that February.
It wasn't just the gluten.
We ended up off dairy, and then soy. After seven or eight months of goofing around with what we couldn't eat, I found Paleo and started focusing on what we could eat. Taking all of the grains out of our diet (corn, rice, oats, etc.) made another huge difference and her stuffy nose disappeared. Removing processed sugar created incredible relief from ups and down and cravings. At the age of 7, she declared she was "Paleo for life".
Sometimes I catch myself staring at photos of her now, almost tearing up I'm so happy to see that shining, healthy face, and to live with the girl who goes with it.
This photo is from this past Halloween, a year after going Paleo. Did we trick or treat? Nah. The kids wanted to eat organic grass-fed steak and then go for a walk just to look at the lights. We had a blast.
Signs A Child Might Have A Food Intolerance
Wow, that's a long list.
I'm sure there's more I've missed.
Frankly, I am so convinced of the power of diet that if you are dealing with anything, anything in your child, start with the food. It's a difficult transition, but in the long run it's way, way easier than managing and living with the symptoms.
Honestly, it's a relief to be done with them.
Not only that but the greatest reward as a parent is to see that healthy, happy face smiling at you from those photos, knowing that your child is not only looking well but feeling well. It really is worth it. :)
I like the easy Paleo stuff.