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Allergies/Intolerances causing bad behavior? Help!

post #1 of 15
Thread Starter 

My son is four years old and has a handful of true food allergies, as well as a definite intolerance to milk.  Shortly before his second birthday we went GFCF and he stopped eating the foods he was allergic too. I noticed a huge improvement in his mood and behavior with cutting dairy, though didn't notice too much change with the other foods although one particular intolerance that we found out about a few months into it improved his digestion a lot.  I was no longer seeing tons of undigested food in his stools and his development overall took a huge leap.  (Suspecting an ASD was part of why we started GFCF).  We've stuck with this diet for all this time because it was seeming to help.


Fast forward and the past several months, his behavior has been getting more and more out of control.  His mood is terrible.  He cries and tantrums off and on all. day. long.  He's driving me nuts.   Its pretty much exactly how it was before we figured out dairy was such a problem, except that his development is more on track than it was (though still delayed).  We started Feingold a few weeks ago with no improvement (though I know they don't really cut all sals completely.)  His poop is all undigested again too.


I received such great advice here last time around, and I am hoping this will sound familiar to someone and hopefully we can get some ideas for how to help him.  I really have a strong feeling his mood and behavior are related to his diet.   I am wondering how to proceed.  IgE testing? Failsafe diet?  Vitamins/minerals? Other ideas...?  I am going crazy walking around on eggshells and listening to him scream all day long and I know this is no fun for him either.  TIA!


x-posting in special needs

post #2 of 15

Hi.  You're a good mommy.  You already know that what he's going through is NO fun for him!  That's what I try to remember on my toughest days when mood swings and tantrums are filling the day and I'm walking on egg shells.


We've done wonders with the diet changes as well.  I see a HUGE difference even if he visits grandparents for a day and they slip up and give him something he's intolerant to.  He has severe food allergies which we completely avoid.  He also has food intolerances which we completely avoid at home ... but we haven't even began to try to explain those to grandparents.  We just pack his food so it cuts down on what they give him.  I encourage them to give him fresh fruit and vegetables.


My sons are also developmentally delayed.  One has the developmental assessment at the end of this month. 


We've added as much "raw" fruits and vegetables as possible.  I feel it helps him.  We also only use rice syrup, maple syrup or honey as sweeteners.  No sugar.  No processed foods.


It makes for a lot of kitchen time and more costly grocery shopping but it is worth it. 


I would start logging food first and see if you can see any correspondence with behavior and food.  I would also call and try to get testing which if you're doctors are anything like mine, that'll take a little while.  Do you think he gets enough protein?  I know we struggle with that and if he doesn't have enough protein, he's very MOODY! 


I think you are on the right track ... checking out to see if the behaviors are food related.


Good luck!


I've heard that allergies can change.  They can get better, worse or new ones.  I don't know if it is true or not, but that's what I've had more than one person tell me.  So, I agree with you, I wonder if there's something else in his diet that his body isn't accepting. 

post #3 of 15

I have to get going, and I'll be back, but.....


short answer to the title of your thread.....




Will elaborate more later.

post #4 of 15
Thread Starter 
Thank you embracelife. I'll look forward to hearing back from you sweet silver!
post #5 of 15

For my daughter, it was the addition of new food allergies that were clear on her skin prick test 2 yrs earlier.  We discovered by accident that her awful moods (exactly as you've described) were linked to a wheat allergy.  She had bursts of energy, meltdown, back on the couch.  Terrible, non-verbal meltdowns, hitting, biting.  I was overwhelmed by her moods and neediness.  Everyone said "intense but age appropriate" but deep in my heart I didn't believe it.


I honestly didn't know she had any new allergies, but a skin reaction to almond Bronner's soap made me connect that she had the same reaction to almond butter and to cetaphil (bitter almond oil).  So, I scheduled an overdue follow-up with her allergist.  They did a more extensive skin prick test, including, at my request, individual nuts instead of a nut mix.  Her allergies were far worse, and now wheat was as big as dairy, just by the numbers.  I was kind of surprised.  But we eliminated wheat for 5 days, then blasted her with it on the 6th.


Oh.  My.  God.  She became a devil on the 7th day.  It was right before the holidays, we were pretty lax and her allergist even admitted that going cold turkey right before Christmas might be stressful.  But we slowly eliminated wheat permanently.  Every time we caved, or fed her wheat by accident (first out of habit, then due to oversight, like soy sauce) the next day she was a monster.  That's also when I started noticing the swelling of her lips when she ate "tamari" (actually not always wheat-free apparently!) and I remembered the redness of her hands when she played with playdough.  I had missed all these signs, but the moods and the nastiness and all that were her most overt signs.


Wheat gone..... bam!  Better.  Just like that.  Hard to believe allergies, especially such intense allergies, just pop up out of a hat like that, but for her, somewhere around 3yo, they did.


So, I'm pretty quick to support parents when they wonder just what you are wondering, or if they think their child's moodiness is NOT age appropriate.  Everyone ultimately thought it was age appropriate, except me.  In the end, I was right--  I just didn't connect the dots.

post #6 of 15
Thread Starter 
Wow that is really interesting SweetSilver. Thank you for such a detailed response. I actually just scheduled another round of allergy testing after reading this since it's been two plus years and they didn't test a few things I'm suspicious about.

Did you not notice any symptoms besides behavior when eating wheat? Thank you again!
post #7 of 15
Originally Posted by APToddlerMama View Post

Did you not notice any symptoms besides behavior when eating wheat? Thank you again!

Afterward I pieced together other clues.  I was really that thick.  They were reddened skin on contact, swelling lips, itchy mouth.  Lots of mucous in her stool (which disappeared once we eliminated.)  Really, the moods/behavior was *the* major, overwhelming symptom.


I don't think that this means your son is allergic to *wheat* specifically.  DD's symptoms can be typical of other allergies (she is not celiac, which does has its specific symptoms.)   

post #8 of 15
Thread Starter 
Originally Posted by SweetSilver View Post

Afterward I pieced together other clues.  I was really that thick.  They were reddened skin on contact, swelling lips, itchy mouth.  Lots of mucous in her stool (which disappeared once we eliminated.)  Really, the moods/behavior was *the* major, overwhelming symptom.


I don't think that this means your son is allergic to *wheat* specifically.  DD's symptoms can be typical of other allergies (she is not celiac, which does has its specific symptoms.)   

Right...that was why I was wondering if there was swelling/itchy mouth etc.  I guess I am wondering if this is more likely an allergy or an intolerance and of course diagnosing an allergy is soooo much easier so I was hoping that I could be missing signs but he definitely isn't having an itchy mouth with any of the foods he's eating now that he's not allergic too.  Thanks for your help! 

post #9 of 15
We have also started the gf!cf diet for our dd who is being evaluated for ASD. While we were hoping for a drastic speech improvement (didn't happen) things that we didn't really consider to be problems improved with the diet. In addition to her digestive problems (diarrhea, vomitting) and weight loss (she has put on a nice amount of healthy weight and is stronger overall) two things we never expected to improve did_ excessive sweating and keratosis pilaris. By sweating I mean this kid would go for a nap in the dead of winter and wake up drenched, pillow cases needed to be changed, hair soaked, shirt... Within a week of the diet (during a heatwave no less) she wakes up dry or barely damp and no odour. Her skin was covered with KP arms, legs, face. 80 percent cleared now. Also she had very bad cradle cap which went away too. I thought I would post these as these are symptoms we didn't really consider to be "allergy related" and probably would have never really bother to treat if they didn't resolve on their own after starting the diet. And us going "hmm, so those were food allergies!"

So I guess I'm saying look outside the allergy symptom box smile.gif
post #10 of 15

Allergies don't always result in the symptoms that my daughter experienced.  You can get some very unpleasant reactions even without the swelling, etc.  Oats are really brutal to me, and leave my heart racing and pounding within 10 minutes of eating them.  I've ingested oat flour accidentally in cakes, etc, so I have confirmed that it isn't just a figment of my imagination.  My test for oats was off the charts (mine anyway) but clearly I am not having an life threatening reaction to them, but it is unpleasant in the extreme and it makes it difficult, nay, impossible to think straight.  Before I knew I had allergies, I had no idea what this reaction was, I though it was blood sugar.  If I were a kid, any reaction that included symptoms like mine would leave me so entirely discombobulated I would be having tantrums, too.


So, I wouldn't entirely dismiss allergies as a possibility.  I would be inclined to retest.

post #11 of 15
Thread Starter 
Thank you both! I'm doing the failsafe diet right now and he will be retested by our allergist as well. I'm wondering if digestive enzymes might help. Anyone know?
post #12 of 15
I would start logging food first and see if you can see any correspondence with behavior and food.


I like this idea. I think I'll try it. My kids, all 3, are wheat allergic and have been wheat free for over a year but have been so moody and mean lately. I'd been using Bobs Red Mill flours

but I'm switching soon to see if I can tell a difference and I'm going to cut back on sugar. They're already dye free/corn free/wheat free/get organic dairy. My youngest turned into a terror when he turned 2. We eliminated corn and wheat as well as other foods hes allergic to but hes not growing anymore/is acting up.

post #13 of 15

How is the diet going?


We had something similar happen and it was both that a couple new food issues developed AND that my daughter grew more sensitive.


The sensitivity has been the most problematic, because it takes SO much research. :-( Dairy and gluten are both my daughter's issues as well, but with gluten, oh goodness is she sensitive. She didn't start out that way, but about 6 months into the diet she started having emotional and physical problems again.


So now? Gluten free food? Forget it. She reacts to the concentration allowed in GF foods 0.0 We had to do tons of research to even find out that was possible. Turns out, in all the studies done, there are almost always at least a few gluten intolerants who react to lower gluten than what is allowed in GF food. It's the minority of gluten sensitive people, but it happens. My daughter can tolerate about half of what's allowed, but anything that is gluten free certified by the GFCO has half the allowed gluten, so she can eat products with that certification. Anything else that says gluten free but isn't certified tends to make her very ill, typically.


And we find gluten and dairy in weird places. Like a local 'pure' maple syrup that added dairy as a defoamer and didn't put it on the label, or the dairy (and soy) that can be added to organic wax on organic apples, pears, or citrus. It's been a big research project.


If you aren't finding anything new, might be worth doing a research project on some of your common products, too, possibly. :-)

post #14 of 15
I am so glad I looked at this thread!!! Dairy and soy in apple wax? I never would have thought it! Now I know why I cannot eat apples!
post #15 of 15
Thread Starter 
Shauna--sorry I didn't realize this thread was active again. The diet is going well as are the enzymes. Thank you for all your helpful information smile.gif.
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