Grace announced a few weeks ago that has been having stomach cramps and gas shortly after meals. She thinks she might be lactose intolerant. Himself's first question was "are any of your friends lactose intolerant?" The answer to this was yes. Of course, yes! This is America in the 21st century. So Himself chalked it down to an attention thing. Or a 'fitting in' thing. But not a digestive thing.
I wasn't so sure. Grace has known this other girl for years and her lactose intolerance had been a source of pity rather than awe. After all, what kid is envious of a girl who can't eat icecream?
So we cut out dairy and made a doctor's appointment. Cutting out dairy helped ...somewhat, but not as much as I'd hoped. I figured maybe there was hidden dairy in some of the foods to which she reacted.
Then -after weeks (hoilday season)- the doctor finally called back with the results of her celiac panel. "All clear except one test. I'd like you to try her without gluten for awhile and see how she does"
Like it's that easy.
I broke the news to Grace. She was OK with no bread. She could live with no pasta. However the prosptct of losing cookies, banana bread and brownies made her face fall. We concentrated on stuff she can have (remember we are still holding off on dairy for now): rice, corn, beans, meat, fish eggs, chicken, salads; all fruits and vegetables. "Oh!" she said. "Thats' a very healthy diet."
Indeed it is.
I would have liked more time to plan. I am a decent cook, but a lot of my fearlessness in the kitchen comes from always having a plan B. If my latest experiment is inedible to one or both kids, I can throw together a noodle bowl or defrost one of my more edible creations in just a few minutes. Or if all else fails, we can run to Wendys.
So I would have liked time to build up a few solid dishes that I can make with my eyes closed; to find a few alternative culinary safety nets and to explore some of the substitutions/sites. I had found that an oil-based roux worked almost as happily as a butter based one, but now I have to cook without a roux to bail me out. Little things like that.
On Monday, Grace came home complaining that her stomach has hurt after both breakfast and lunch. I know what she had for breakfast. I had cooked it. There had been no dairy, but she had eaten bread. And her lunch was the same: dairy-free but on a hamburger bun.
So I decided right then to just go gluten free and wing it. Pulled a stew out of the freezer for dinner and changed plans for the rest of the week. We've been eating a lot of rice. Paella and risotto were on the menu so far this week. I already found a refrigerator standby for Grace: an Italian white-bean salad. So if she doesn't like my dinner, she won't starve. I found soem gluten-free bread to keep in the freezer too, but I plan to make my own.
I choose to look at this as an opportunity to explore new food horizons, rather than whine about stuff we can't eat. There will be plenty of Indian food in our future, too. And tasty Thai rice noodles. Lots of people live just fine without eating lasagna. Not Garfield, of course.
...but he's a cartoon.
I'l try adding dairy back into Grace's diet soon. If she doesn't react that will be a great thing. Ice cream and yogurt will be back on the menu for her.
The baking thing, though: I'll have to figure that one out. But it's an adventure, not a challenge, Right?