Dietary Infractions: How to Prevent Them & What To Do When They Occur

FacebookTwitter

Full adherence to the gluten, casein, and soy-free (GFCFSF) diet is essential to its success.  But, the reality is, your child is likely to experience a dietary infraction at some point.  While some kids may be fine when this happens, many kids react with even the tiniest of infractions.  In fact, one bite of bread or one tiny Goldfish cracker can cause severe reactions, such as GI pain, challenging behaviors, rashes, or trouble sleeping. This article will discuss how to avoid dietary infractions and what to do if one occurs.

Preventing Dietary Infractions from Occurring

Like many things, when it comes to dietary infractions, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Therefore, let's begin with some tips on how to prevent dietary infractions from occurring:

  • When starting the diet, it can be easier to say, "My child only eats food from home. No exceptions."
  • Allow no one to feed your child without your approval.
  • Tell family and friends about the special diet.
  • Watch your child closely at family gatherings, parties, or events.
    • Bring your own GFCFSF foods for your child to ensure the safety of the food.
    • Share your GFCFSF foods with other party-goers, so your child does not feel left out.
  • Write all special dietary requirements in your child's IEP (Individualized Education Plan).
    • Make sure teachers and therapists know not to feed your child without your approval.
    • Keep a stash of safe snacks and treats for them at school.
    • Provide GFCFSF school supplies for the staff to use with your child.
  • Know what's really in your food:
    • Manufacturers change ingredients, so periodically check the items that you frequently buy.
Empower Your Child to Make Safe Choices for Themselves

Ultimately, the best way to prevent dietary infractions from occurring is to help your child understand why they are on the GFCFSF diet and how to self-advocate.  After all, you can't be there to protect them every second of every day.

The following are suggestions of ways you can teach your child to make safe choices for themselves:

  • First and foremost, when your child has a dietary infraction, help them recognize that they are experiencing adverse symptoms because they ate something with gluten, casein, or soy in it.
    • Understanding this cause and effect relationship is the foundation for self-managing the diet!
  • Teach your child what they can and can't eat.
    • Begin by simply telling them, "You can't eat gluten, casein, or soy because it hurts your body."
    • Then, when appropriate, work on teaching your child how to read labels.
      • Even if your child can't read, model this behavior when they are grocery shopping with you.
    • Include your child in discussions with their doctor and encourage them to ask questions to understand why the diet is essential.
  • Make sure your child has a way to communicate to others that they can only eat certain things.
  • Regularly role-play with your child, so they know how to:
    • Respond when someone offers them food.
    • Order food at a restaurant.

Minimizing the Effects of Dietary Infractions

No matter how diligent you are with prevention strategies, accidents are going to happen.  While it's true that dietary infractions impact all kids differently, many kids suffer from GI pain or regress for a few days until the food's effects clear their system.

However, there are products that you can buy that may ease some of the symptoms your child is experiencing. They do this by binding, neutralizing, or helping the body break down proteins from the offending food more quickly.

Digestive Enzymes

If given immediately after your child consumes an offending food, an enzyme that includes DPP-IV will help the body break down the proteins found in gluten and casein.

  • Digestive enzymes are available in prescription or over-the-counter.
  • Tri-Enza, a product made by Houston Enzymes, can help break down the protein from both gluten and casein. It is available in multiple forms: powder, chewable tablets, and capsules.
Activated Charcoal

Activated charcoal is a binder that will mop up the contents of the GI tract.  In other words, it will prevent the stomach from absorbing the offending food. Because your body does not absorb charcoal, whatever it binds to will be passed through the stool.

  • Give within 45-60 minutes after your child ingests the offending food.
  • While activated charcoal looks gross, it is odorless and tasteless. 
  • It will absorb supplements or medications; therefore, you should give it two hours away from these things.
  • Activated charcoal can be constipating, so give with lots of water, and follow up with magnesium.
  • You can purchase activated charcoal at your local health food store.
Alka-Seltzer Gold

Alka-Seltzer Gold is a neutralizer that can help settle upset or sensitive stomachs.

  • Try to give within 45-60 minutes of the infraction.
  • You can buy Alka Seltzer Gold at most drug stores or on Amazon.
  • Please note, you must use Alka-Seltzer Gold as regular Alka-Seltzer is not sufficient.
  • Alka-Seltzer Gold has a taste that many consider unpleasant.
Tri-Salts

Tri-Salts are neutralizing electrolytes that also help stop mast cell reactions.

  • You can purchase Tri-Salts at your local health food store or on Amazon.
  • Give within 45-60 minutes after your child ingests the offending food.
Baking Soda

If you don't have Alka-Seltzer Gold or Tri-Salts on hand, a bit of baking soda in water can help neutralize the effects of offending foods.

Benadryl

Because we have a lot of mast cells in our GI tract, it is not uncommon for a dietary infraction to trigger a mast cell reaction.  If this occurs, taking Benadryl may be helpful.

  • Target and Walgreens carry dye-free children's Benadryl.
  • Check with your doctor for instructions and dosing information before administering it.
  • As mentioned above, Tri-Salts can also help alleviate symptoms from mast cell activation.
Epsom Salt Baths

Epsom salts are magnesium sulfate.  The magnesium component of Epsom salt helps with calming, while the sulfate component aids the detoxification process.

  • You can buy Epsom salts at any drug store.
  • The typical dose is one (1) cup per bath in warm water up to the belly button.

Conclusion

In summary, there are many strategies you can take to prevent dietary infractions from occurring.  However, no matter how diligent you are with prevention strategies, accidents happen.  For this reason, we strongly recommend that parents keep a few of the items we mentioned above to help your child's body process offending foods and ease symptoms.

Additional Reading:


*All content in this article is for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of a qualified health provider with any questions or concerns you may have.