I’m not going to complain. First of all it’s not me and my diet that is being influenced but my 2 year old’s…..which actually makes it so much worse!
It seems as though my skinny little baby, who has always been on the rather small side, is really starting to eat! A lot! He loves bread, pasta, pizza, gnocco fritto, tigelle, piadine and all of the other specialty foods that this area is known for. For the longest time he was such a picky eater, and then, all of a sudden in the last 8 months, his appetite developed and we can get him to eat most anything! Cotolette di pesce or pollo (fish or chicken cutlets), fried calamari, tomatoe gratin….anything really.
So why is he so skinny? Well, we just got back from our incredible vacation at the Adriatic Sea side on Sunday night, and Monday (yesterday) we had our checkup with our pediatrician who thinks he probably has a gluten sensitivity.
A What? a GLUTEN SENSITIVITY!
He was tested for Celiac’s disease and according to the test he does not have it, however, the pediatrician explained to us that there are also gluten intolerance and gluten sensitivity and both conditions cause absorption problems of nutrients in the small intestine but neither condition have a direct test associated with them. The best test is an elimination diet and then the evaluation of results.
It seems as though the more pasta, pizza, and bread he consumes the slower he grows, so there is a very good chance that he has a gluten sensitivity.
So what do we do?
Well, the first thing is to remove all gluten from his diet, for at least 2 months but possibly 6 so that we can evaluate how the removal of gluten affects his growth. Our response is “not a problem”. Until we realized, of course, exactly WHICH foods contain gluten!
Which foods contain Gluten?
For some reason I thought by just removing pasta, pizza and bread and replacing them with their gluten free counterparts that was enough….but OH NO. You have to be careful of cross-contamination, of TRACES of gluten – all of which, if ingested could wreak havoc on his small intestine. Even a single consumption could cause a flare up of the “infection” that is preventing his stomach lining from properly absorbing nutrients. So now we’re talking a whole new ball game:
If we order him french fries in a restaurant were they cooked in the same oil that breaded chicken strips were cooked in?
Was the grill used to grill fish, also used to heat flat bread?
Did they use the same boiling water for pasta and then for the potatoes we ordered him?
All of these cases of “contamination” could cause him to have a flare up, bringing us back to an inability to GROW. So we need to be 100% careful.
All of a sudden life in the bel paese just got WAY more complicated! Plus, we’re going to Portugal for a week in July and Copenhagen for two in August,,,,how do you say “gluten free” in Portuguese or Danish?
Instead of blogging yesterday, we went to the grocery store as a family on a new gluten free journey. I was surprised at the amount of items available for Celiac’s. Gluten free pasta, bread, hotdogs (which also contain gluten!) and TORTELLINI. My son LIVES for tortellini. I hadn’t even THOUGHT about the fact that Tortellini are made with pasta and therefore contain gluten.
We spent a cool 160 EURO on gluten free food of all sorts to give him the chance to test run a few different products. Oh, and it should be said, that since he is only TWO it means that all three of us have to go on a gluten free diet. How do you explain to a toddler, while you are chomping down on a delicious ice cream cone that he can’t have one?
How do we eat in a pizzeria, and have a pizza right in front of his face while he eats grilled fish?
Oh no. We’re all in this together. Last night was our first gluten free meal, and I can assure you it wasn’t like eating “normal” bread, but it wasn’t that bad either. I’m not saying everything was good because it wasn’t, it just wasn’t that bad.
I am so happy to say that Italians, despite what I thought about these carb lovers, are VERY forward thinking about the issue. The grocery store has SEVERAL sections dedicated to gluten free products, there are specialty grocery stores that have an even wider selection and, even in a small city like Modena there are restaurants and a caffe that are Gluten Free!!
I’m a little behind on blogging, I have SO MANY things to share, but I also find myself at a point where I really have to dedicate to my family (gluten free means a LOT more prep-work when cooking and no last minute pizzas if I do’t have time), and laundry!!!
I hope you’ll join me on our new gluten free adventure. I’ll be blogging about where to find gluten free products and how to find gluten free restaurants in Italy. I’ll also do a post about gluten free vocabulary if you are visiting Italy and you have Celiac’s disease or a gluten intolerance.
Wish us luck!! Day 2 of gluten free begins today!
****** A side note about fear *******
I’m trying to stay really positive about this. But I can’t deny that having a gluten sensitivity royally sucks! Especailly in Italy. Now, it’s not confirmed yet, so I don’t want to get too ahead of myself…but let’s just think about this. If my son accidentally consumes gluten and there is a chance HE WILL NOT GROW.
Well that’s just dandy. I can’t be with him 100% of the time when he goes to kindergarden. What if he really wants to taste another student’s yummy snack? A snack he’s never seen before because he can’t eat it….a snack that is INFITINALY tastier than anything he’s ever had (oh apparently gluten is the thing that makes things yummy, which is why they add it to everything!). Yesterday I opened a package of gluten-free taralli, a round cracker like bread snack from Puglia.
As my husband lovingly described them “it is like eating little plastic disks”. I could ONLY eat ONE, and my son ate 1/2 of one. Well, he’s not going to gain much weight if we feed him gross things that’s for sure.
I don’t even know if the pigeons in Modena would have eaten these taralli.
What about birthday parties? I’l have to bring his own mini cake.
What about dinner’s at friends houses? I’ìll have to explain cross-contamination to the other parent, and be absolutely obsessive compulsive, overly involved and interfering.
“So did you add breadcrumbs to the hamburger mixture? Were the breadcrumbs gluten free? Did you wash your hands before giving my son his gluten free bread, just incase there was contamination from you handing your son normal bread? Did you lay out snacks on the table like prezel sticks, did you ensure they were out of my son’s reach?
Ok. I’m going to stay calm. This really does blow though. I LOVE eating locally, and now eating out seems like an impossible feat AND WORSE then that, this isn’t about MY DIET, but about my sweet innocent little baby’s diet. Local cookies, Christmas panettone, LASAGNA – we are in the land of carbs for God’s sake!!!
Everything is going to be fine. If you eat gluten free please feel free to leave me some encouraging words!!! If you have nothing encouraging to say I really don’t want to hear it!!!
VIVA GLUTEN FREE !!
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