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Behaviour and gluten

post #1 of 12
Thread Starter 
My 7 year old son has some quite explosive behaviour and I'm thinking he may be sensitive to gluten. Just wondered if anyone has any experience of cutting out gluten and seeing significant changes. We had a terrible bedtime today when he really lost it and I realised that he had a really gluten-packed day. He also has a constantly runny nose that no doctor has ever found a reason for, so I'm thinking it may be diet related. He is otherwise very healthy and bright. He just seems to lose it a lot and becomes very hard to communicate with.
post #2 of 12

No personal experience, but your post made me think of this blog post:  http://www.jamieglowacki.com/transitioning-to-gluten-free/

(No affilitation with the site, though I do think she rocks.)

post #3 of 12

definitely there COULD be a dietary component to his behaviour.


a constant runny nose makes me think of dairy though.


could you eliminate both of them? keep a food journal and see what happens. if not complete elimination - then reduce the amount. i tried different things with dd. she is gluten sensitive today to the point she cant eat it anymore. but before the type of gluten made a difference. fresh bread from the bakery without preservatives helped. or sprouted grain was better. she could handle a little bit. same with dairy. 


however also know it could be part of a growth spurt too. 


but its never too late to try. i kick myself these days. it took me 10 years to put things together and realise dd had dairy allergy from when we started yoghurt. its amazing how all her symptoms flew away when we stopped dairy. 

post #4 of 12

It isn't necessarily gluten, but could be another allergy like dairy or wheat for example.  My daughter had explosive rages and deep moods until a wheat allergy was diagnosed and we eliminated it.  It was her most obvious symptom, and it didn't take more than just a tiny bit of wheat to produce it.  Thankfully, it seems to be a "simple" wheat allergy.  


Because it is so difficult to follow, I would not recommend going gluten-free until you can assess that it isn't something else.  Unless, of course, he also has painful GI issues along with the symptoms you've described, a classic symptom of gluten intolerance.

post #5 of 12
Sugar is in most wheat foods, and could also be causing behavior issues. That's not a popular statement, I know. My son has issues with sugar, and we've been sugar free for more than a decade.

It is entirely possible that there is a link between what is eaten and behavior. Do more testing to see if you can pinpoint the cause or causes. Keeping a log or diary may help that process.

I think it's great that you are willing to try diet changes to see if there's improvement!
post #6 of 12

sugar is a huge trigger for us too. we have not eliminated it completely but we eat very little of it.


for us sugar in the form of starch and fruit is STILL sugar. and still causes mood swings.


dd went crazy the other day after she ate 5 oranges. 


because of the impact on her friends dd will drink maybe 2 oz of soda or maybe 4 oz of fruit juice. in other words she watches her sugar intake. 


before we discovered her 'intolerances' she was sensitive. and we found gluten/grain + sugar was a potent combination. so a big bowl of rice and veggies and then a giant cookie - woah!!! nope. or even 2 oranges. NOPE!!!


for us food is a philosophy. a life change. not a pick and choose thing if you know what i mean. 


that means we have eliminated instead of substituting. our breakfast looks waaaay different than it did a few months ago. 

post #7 of 12
Thread Starter 

Thanks for all your replies. We've been eating super-healthy (no gluten and v little sugar) for the last three days now and I feel like he is less anxious and "foggy". Today particularly he seemed much brighter-eyed. I'm going to see how to go about testing for sensitivities. I'm enjoying the gluten-free myself as it drives me to make healthier food (can't keep falling back on sandwiches and pasta when I'm lazy), so I think the whole family is getting some good benefits. So, I think I'll keep with it for a month anyway and see if it really does make a difference.

post #8 of 12

When the month is up and you are ready to challenge, I suggest you try adding back gluten but not wheat for a few days, then try adding the wheat back.  Because if it is a wheat allergy or sensitivity and not a gluten allergy, life is so much simpler (and if it's neither, even better).  I do often look for "gluten free" for my wheat-allergic dd1 because it simplifies guesses about certain ingredients that can be either wheat or corn or soy.  But we don't generally need oats that are "gluten-free", which are usually not organic.  I do make sure the bulk items we buy from the co-op are not likely to be contaminated, for example, the wheat flour should not be right next to the oats.  


Personally, when I was exploring allergies on my own (tiredness, moodiness), I almost went gluten-free.  Good thing I backed out before then because it turns out that I was allergic to every cereal grain except wheat.  So, I'm glad that people are discovering "gluten-free" can help them feel better but 1) I wonder if it isn't something that was eliminated that gave the good results and not the gluten per se and 2) like my case, "gluten-free" can lead you in precisely the wrong direction.  Part of me thinks this is a fad, part of me knows there is some truth in it for many people.  Kids can give you some fairly accurate results, though, since they are less aware that a trial is happening.  Testing yourself, you can be aware that you can sometimes initiate a response without there being any real catalyst and it's trickier ferreting the real from the placebo.

post #9 of 12

I eliminated gluten from my sons diet and his problematic behaviors improved enormously-sugar addiction, craving bready products, saying he was constantly hungry, hyperactivity,  extreme oppositional behavior, always grumpy-waking up gumpy, picking fights,-all gone without gluten

post #10 of 12

My 9-yr-old has celiac, so he has to be gluten-free.  From what I hear from other parents of celiacs, changes in behavior from removing gluten can be very noticeable and happen pretty quickly.  A lot of celiac kids were originally tested because of behavior issues, not GI issues.  So yes, gluten can certainly influence behavior. 

post #11 of 12

My son is also 7 and we had challenging behaviors. A friend's daughter has issues with both gluten and dairy. Out of sheer desperation we decided to stop both gluten and milk. )I couldn't see any way to stop the cheese without his fighting it.) We knew if we told our son we were going to try eliminating them that it would be a HUGE scene, so we decided to do it without him knowing.  In our case it was actually quite easy since his (adopted) sister can't eat gluten, dairy, or cane sugar. I just stopped buying the special treats I used to get him--gnocchi, frozen wheat pizza, etc. I started buying gluten free cookies, pizza etc. Very quickly we noticed a difference. Twice he got gluten (once it was an energy bar with malted barley.) Both times his behavior escalated then was much better in a few days.


We just told him he's gluten free. He's not happy about it but his responses are so mild compared to what they would have been. After i told him, I asked him if he wanted some oreos (I'd got some gluten free ones on sale and hidden them away.) For lunch I told him I found a frozen pizza in the back of the freezer (I'd also gotten it on sale. Each kid gets one frozen food a week so they didn't know I had a stash of these.)


I am now able to enjoy my kids. I couldn't before. I was so constantly grumpy from the moment he woke up until he finally went to sleep. Now we have fun with just a bit of normal kid emotions thrown in.


My friend whose kids are diagnosed celiacs said he rarely sees GI issues when his kids get gluten, mainly he sees challenging behaviors.


Our daughter had GI issues and speech delays. When we stopped the gluten her speech improved greatly. When we got rid of the rest of her allergenic foods she finally stopped having diarrhea. The pediatric gastroenterologist said she had "toddler diarrhea" and would outgrow it by 5 or so. (What a waste of time that was.) I explored food issues and our pediatrician ordered bloodwork for allergies. She was only going to order the 12 most common allergies but I insisted on the full panel of 96 (I told the lab to only draw the absolute minimum amount of blood needed.) I'm glad I did as her cane sugar allergy would not have come up otherwise. She did not show blood sensitivities to dairy. I stopped the dairy at the suggestion of several moms. So, once we had the gluten, cane sugar, and finally dairy out of her diet she had solid poops for the first time in her 3 years of life. She's 4 1/2 now and I'm still tickled every time she has a solid poop.

post #12 of 12

We never noticed a behavioral reaction with gluten, but there was a physical one for my ds.  We DID notice behavior differences with dairy, soy & corn.  And blood sugar.  My ds is like meemee's child and we are very much in the same boat.  It doesn't need to be actual sugar--it just needs to resolve to simple sugars in the bloodstream.  So fruits do us in.  We are mostly grain free but when we do have it, we have to be VERY careful to pair it with fats to slow down the absorption of the sugar/starch.


Glad you are seeing positive changes with your child; but I will warn you that the testing is not always accurate.  You may do better just trying it on your own and keeping a log to guide you if needed.  I have one that I give my clients--you can pm me if you want a copy (it's Excel-based and you can print it to a single page/day) and free.

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