Thursday, 16 September 2010

Food Sensitivities

I don't profess to know the technical reasons behind them, but I do know that upset stomachs are a part of having Down's Syndrome. My daughter has always had problems either with being constipated for days on end or the complete opposite.

It took her years at a special unit when she was a teenager to find out what lay behind the abnormal workings of her digestive system. I noticed that when she was eating what the school prepared for her, she had the worst effects. During school holidays when I was cooking everything from scratch and avoiding processed food as much as possible, it all calmed down markedly.

The teacher of the unit would not let me supply my daughter with packed lunches (I had a lot of issues with this lady, it was not a happy time for my daughter or myself) yet seemed to think feeding the teenagers in her care baked beans and the like for four days a weeks was OK. I could go on about this, but that's not the point of this post!

During school holidays I tried excluding various foodstuffs from my daughter's diet as well as reading up on the effects of certain ingredients. I managed to narrow the causes down to a) chocolate - or anything with too much processed sugar in, and b) aspartame, which is a sweetener often found in sugar-free yoghurts, drinks etc. The effects of the aspartame are quite spectacular - within an hour of eating one of these yoghurts, my daughter would have to make the mad dash to the loo. This was not much fun for either of us.....

Since leaving this unit (hooray!) and having her meals managed properly, my daughter rarely has these upsets, which is a great relief. Meals are generally home-cooked from fresh ingredients and packed lunches made from 'safe' food. We both know when a certain food has the possibility to cause trouble and she is very sensible in avoiding them, although occasionally (birthday cake, special meals out, etc.) sometimes it's worth the consequences - my daughter is able to accept the risk.

So if your child is having unexplained stomach upsets, check first they are not eating something that may be triggering the problem. Try a few days of an exclusion diet and see if this alleviates it. Obviously, if the problem persists then you should check with your doctor that there is not some other underlying condition, but it is worth making a few changes in your food preparation if it means a life free of 'runny poo'!

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