I've written occasionally about how Luke has been dealing with chronic constipation since he was about 18 months old. He's had several xrays to confirm that he's constipated and over the years we've seen two pediatricians and Beth's pediatric GI specialist to try to get him some help. It's a very common issue for little kids- especially boys for some reason- and the general protocol for this is a daily dose of miralax. So, he was on miralax for several months.
Ryan and I were always concerned with having him on daily miralax... It's supposed to be harmless, but our thought was that it's not curing the actual cause of the problem, just covering up the fact that there is a problem. We decided to turn to a naturopathic doctor; it was a big decision because she's not on our insurance but we decided Luke's health was worth it!
For the first time as a parent visiting a doctor, I felt validated by a doctor. Yes, she's an MD, but naturopaths can't be licensed in the state of Texas so she's licensed elsewhere but practicing here. She listened to everything I was concerned about- how I wondered if some of Luke's misbehavior was caused by his discomfort of being constipated, if there could be an underlying health issue that was causing the constipation, wondering if his behavior is typical for a 3.5 year-old-boy...
Don't get me wrong, we know Luke is a very well-behaved, well-mannered young man! But I can't help but wonder...What if he could be physically better? What sort of change would happen to his attitude, his behavior, his mind, if his gut were healed? These are things that our naturopath takes into consideration, and it's so nice for me, as a mother, to have a doctor actually actively listen to me!
Luke and I met with her for over an hour at his first appointment, and she made a number of recommendations in order for us first heal his gut. We put Luke on an anti-inflammatory elimination diet, removing all gluten, dairy, corn, fruit juices, refined sugars, citrus fruits, pork and beef, and peanuts from his diet. We added lots of foods that promote his body to heal from within, including probiotics and hopefully a fish oil supplement. It's not an easy diet but we absolutely have Luke's best interests in mind and we want his body to recover from whatever it is that's causing him to always be constipated.
He'd also been scared of going to the bathroom, and we're working on that by taking him to the bathroom after every meal and asking him to sit down. This has helped tremendously- he's gone every day, without yelling and crying! He is also rewarded with a bit of dairy-free chocolate after each time he sits on the potty, which has been a greater reward for sitting than the reward of the relief from the actually going!
We are 8 weeks into this diet, and so far we've seen a few changes. First off, he goes to the bathroom every day without any issue at all. This is a huge accomplishment. Second, I have learned that he isn't getting enough protein in his diet, and without enough protein his brain can't work the way it's meant to work, so we're making sure he's getting lots of healthy protein, especially first thing in the morning! Third, Ryan and I have had to closely examine our motives and attitudes, and it's helped open a line of communication between us that was there but it's allowed us to dig a little deeper, and that's been good not only for us but for all of the kids. We've learned that Luke thrives on rewards and praise, but criticism absolutely breaks him. I think his love language is words of affirmation and touch, because this is what really helps him to calm down when he is upset. When you compliment him, he beams with pride. :-) Finally, while we haven't narrowed down (yet) if he is intolerant to one of these foods, the process has helped me understand even moreso how our gut is truly connected to our brain's function!
I am writing this post not to embarrass Luke (because I don't think he'd care at this point in his life!) but because I want to let people know of our experience. I can't tell you how many parents I know have kids with constipation issues, or skin issues, or some other bodily function, and how I've gotten to the point where I firmly believe so much could be resolved with a diet change. It's not easy... I've broken down several times over the past few weeks because it's HARD. Cheese substitutes are gross, but luckily Luke has taken to almond milk just fine. But corn is in everything- we've had to give up so many of our standby gluten-free items because of added cornstarch or cornmeal. We've eaten a lot of chicken and rice! But, while it's hard, I know it's temporary (hopefully!) and we hope it will yield big results in Luke's life. He's an amazing little boy, I don't have to tell you that I love him to pieces. <3