crunchimomma- Heather Spergel

Author, Mom, and Creative Nut!

Allergy and Food Sensitivities RANT- YES, take me seriously! (Free To Be… Gluten-Free!)


Do you or your child(ren) have food allergies/sensitivities?  I want to hear from you!  Tell me your story!  Tell me all about it… because believe me, we can bond over it.  Whatever level of sensitivity or allergy you have in your house, we have our own.  How do people support or NOT support you and your family?

I never thought my children or myself even, would have issues like this.  Allergies or sensitivities cause us to think before we eat anywhere.   We bake before any party.  We call ahead to any place, and we feel a burden to everyone because we MUST be careful, and people need to help us if we eat at their house.  (Even in a house with a child with multiple allergies, where they KNEW we had food issues, served us what they hoped was a safe meal, and guess what?  Nope- as I discovered after).

But my BIGGEST GRIPE, are people that say, “Well what if he eats this just this one time?  Will it really hurt that bad??”  ARE YOU F-ING KIDDING ME?  Ok, people, we all can understand each other, but I do not live in your house, nor do you live in mine. So if you go ahead and feed that to my child, you do not have to pick up the pieces of my child for days after you decided to experiment with that ONE meal.

Here’s a SHORT-term look at what corn and gluten do to my children- this is a short list of reactions.

1.  My son is developing an allergy to gluten- so immediate reaction from contamination could be the itchy tongue, roof of mouth, and itchiness.

2.  If there is food coloring in something my son eats, expect a complete emotional meltdown within 30 min.  Let me give you an example, before we knew what was going on, we let Nate have a rocket pop (from hell) at the pool  A treat once in awhile despite us never serving this at home seemed ok.  He broke down crying and screaming and my husband carried him over his shoulder out of the pool (to the critical and scornful look of a crowd of parents and single people who have no freakin’ clue!).  In hindsight, he has a sensitivity to the corn, so that with the dye made for a disaster beyond disasters.

3.  My daughter develops hives.  Why would you want to risk if THIS meal combo, whether it be corn or wheat will create that annoyingly itchy and painful condition that takes days or a week to go away?!  No thanks.

4.  If you would like to experiment with ME, gluten creates a raging, depressed, sleepless mom and that reaction lasts 2 days.  Want to feed me and then try to have an intelligent conversation with me in a day?  Maybe don’t attempt it unless you would like to have your head served on a platter, because that’s how ANGRY gluten gets me!

We do NOT have epi pens, and I know there are many out there with them for themselves and their children- I am certainly NOT downplaying the dangerous and scary nature of ALLERGIES in children.  However, I know food sensitivities are under-discussed.

Let’s review the LONG-term consequences of IGNORING the symptoms of gluten/corn sensitivity in our family.  If you can get past the initial reaction, this is what you will find in our house!

1. tush rashes on both kids as the food moves through their guts.

2.  delayed reaction to 48 hours after or 24 hours after, oppositional behavior in my children that will make your head SPIN!  Think of all those possible undiagnosed kids out there being disciplined when it’s their FOOD causing the issues!  If I wasn’t educated on this, my kids would be in a perpetual completely anti-attachment parenting time-out 24/7 because the behavior change is unmanageable.  Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde in the flesh and blood, reincarnated in MY children!

3.  BRAIN FOG. Focus focus focus!  They don’t when they eat these foods.  Don’t offer ADD meds and don’t blame them.  It’s not their fault in Mom or Dad missed a suspect food.  Once the inflammation in their bodies subsides, they will be back on track again.

4.  Mood swings- closely related to item 2, however, this is chronic when eating these foods. Constant up and down with the whining.  OH but ALL kids whine, you say.  Well there IS a certain amount of testing in many kids, and that is fine and dandy.  This level of mood swings and such, will leave YOU wanting an antidepressant to cope.

5.  RASHES.  My son had these nasty eczema-like rashes on his stomach and leg.  We were clueless.  “Oh put some cream on that!  Many kids have that.” WHAT?  Is that really acceptable? NOPE.  There is a CAUSE for that!  Dairy, wheat, ect.  LOOK into it.  My son’s gut was so imbalanced by the time we saw the writing on the wall, we needed to put in some good supplements, remove those offensive foods, add coconut oil, and wait.  The lining in the gut becomes permeable or cells pull apart as the gut becomes a mess.  I’m not a doctor, you can look up the details, but clearly, a changed needed to happen and FAST.

6.  In myself, 38 years of my life, I suffered.  YES, I suffered.  Depression, anxiety, mood swings, rage, stomach pains, and brain fog.  How did I make it this far without knowing?!  Why didn’t someone see this?  People didn’t talk about this as much or have as much awareness as they have today.  NO, it isn’t a FAD.  NO it isn’t a CRAZE.  This is an important issue!  I learned because I went gf with my son to support him and Tada!  Mommy felt better! Not just better, but ALIVE!

After removing ALL gluten and corn from my son’s diet, he became energized (no he wasn’t iron deficient, he had food sensitivities!), happy and stable (no he DIDN’T need medication or a spanking for God’s sake), and his skin fully healed (he shouldn’t need cream to treat some condition caused by his gut- fix the gut, fix the skin).  My daughter began to emotionally CONNECT with people.  Eye contact, attachment to other people and not just me.  My daughter’s teacher said she is the happiest kid she has seen.  Yes, she IS happy- now that we fixed this issue!  … but he screaming in the mornings wasn’t just sadness at leaving Mommy, she was a moody little one!  … (back to oppositional- I don’t believe in calling a 2 or 3 yr old oppositional, but someone called my daughter that before we figured out these issues.  I use the word above to give you a picture).

Holistic Mom’s Network Founder, Nancy, recommended I try Dr. Loren Marks as an assessment tool- SMART MOVE!  Here’s his link.  He was so amazing, my husband learned his technique!  In hindsight, I wish I had him tested for celiac (and myself) at the time before removing gluten- but we can’t go back now.

So I wrote “Free to be… Gluten-Free” with my son in mind (my daughter wasn’t born yet).  He experienced all these symptoms, but after pushing away gluten, was FREE and filled with GLEE!  Foreword by Loren Marks, DC, DACBN.  Beautifully illustrated by Anita Martino.

We changed the cover (again) so it will look different when you get yours.  Order ahead- you are guaranteed the lowest price upon release in June 2013.  I resisted putting ANY recipes in this book, after all, I’m not a chef.  With encouragement, I picked some to include- then we deleted half of them to shorten the book.  I’ve read several gluten-free books for kids.  Here’s my critique- TOO LONG and wordy, not simple enough, the size of the book is hard to hold when cuddling in bed, emphasis on junk food just because it’s safe in order to make a child not feel left out.  WHAT?!  Yes, that gf child can eat a jelly bean, but is THAT really a common treat you want your child to eat?


This is the cover image (above) we now use on the front of the book- it looks slightly different, but I wanted to share the art.


Here is our silly gluten-free boy mixing with his mom’s spoon!  Making healthy and safe creations!  See the gluten monster on the fridge behind him?  Caged so he can be FREE and full of GLEE!

This book is a TOOL for parents/teachers/librarians/nutritionists/nurses/and many more, to use in discussions about food sensitivities and allergies in children and for their friends- to help them be supportive and understanding!

So you ask, “Is it ok to give him this just this once?” HECK NO!  Unless you want to torture my child, and I doubt you want that.  If you DO, take him home with YOU, and GOOD LUCK!  (I would never do that, but it was fun to say anyway!).


Also, on Amazon (and of course Barnes & Noble)!


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