2

votes

4 year old with major digestive problems

Answered on September 12, 2014
Created February 03, 2011 at 3:11 AM

So I discovered Paleo around Christmas and I've been trying to find the right balance for myself. It's working pretty well (after a few bumps) and I've decided it might be a really good choice for my 4 year old son Caleb who has had digestive issues his whole life. A little background:

1) He's a twin, they were born 30 weeks premature

2) He was in hospital for 4 months with lots of breathing issues and lots of feeding issues. He was mainly fed expressed breast milk through a feeding tube, but the doctor's insisted he aslo have a dairy based "fortifier" because of his slow weight gain.

3) Since being home he has had ongoing issues with digestion (bloating, diarrhea, stomach cramps) and he is super, super skinny (other than his huge bloated belly).

4) He has been tested for celiac, allergies (allergic to milk), he's had a gastrointestinal scope. He's had way too many doctors appointment - but he's a great sport and has decided he's going to be a doctor when he grows up :)

I recently switched him to a paleo elimination diet - no dairy (he actually hasn't had dairy for years), no grains, no sugar (except a tiny amount of maple syrup sometimes) and no processed food. I've also excluded eggs, nuts, tomatoes, potatoes and peppers. I give him kids digeestive enzymes, probiotics and a gluten free multivitamin.

It's only been about 4 days and he was seeming to be a bit better (slightly less digestive problems), but today he got really sick again and his belly got all bloated. We've been keeping a food diary and I can't see what might have caused it so I'm wondering:

1) Could fruit be a problem? I am not at all worried about him gaining weight (in fact I would jump with joy if he gained a pound - it has taken him a year to gain the last pound and he only weighs 29 pounds). I've been letting him have almost as much fruit as he wants as long as he eats his meat first.

2) Should I eliminate coconut? He really likes it but I'm worried it could be an irritant. We've been giving him lots of coconut milk, coconut oil, avocado, bacon - any other ideas for kid-friendly high calorie food?

3) How long before we really see a change? Should we expect him to have belly problems as he heals or should we tighten his diet even more when he has these outbreaks (maybe exclude fruit)?

Any ideas, thoughts, criticisms would be really appreciated. I would do anything to see him as healthy and thriving as his twin (fraternal not identical).

Thanks for reading this long ass question :)

518bce04b12cd77741237e1f61075194

(11577)

on February 14, 2012
at 08:57 PM

Light waves are electromagnetic waves though (400-700 nm)? They are the same thing. I tend to baulk when people talk about energies (his reflexology mention) that don't exist and coffee enemas. Science circles the drain when those topics come up. He might just trying to be "rounded" which can be a fault if the "rounding" takes away from the mesage.

2006ccb2b60f9cc5ba5e8eff8a7abc46

(1533)

on February 10, 2012
at 12:50 PM

some of hs social critisisms are really silly. electromagnetic and light waves are not they same though! his ideas about fluid loss stem from orthomolecular science and basically when you lose too many important fluids it necessitates a rebalancing in minerals and fluids in the body which is what the body will then focus on instead of repairs. its kind of like dont give blood too often and dont drink too much water or you will pee out all your body salts.he just tends to focus on areas where people have addictive behaviors etc.his science is really good though, as well as his dietary advice

E36cb992cf0a5eba8b97a359c15f38b3

(4347)

on February 10, 2012
at 12:49 AM

So glad to hear it. I came to this one late, but my five year old daughter can't deal with certain fruits at all. (Horrible bloating, diarrhea, etc.) We went through all the allergy testing, etc., and did a full elimination diet. Sometimes, even beyond the fructose, acid can be a problem with fruits. Hang in there. I hope your son feels relief soon.

518bce04b12cd77741237e1f61075194

(11577)

on February 09, 2012
at 10:53 PM

Also, "Minimize electromagnetic pollution". Does he know what light rays are?

518bce04b12cd77741237e1f61075194

(11577)

on February 09, 2012
at 10:52 PM

..kind of weird though.. "Abstain altogether from sexual fluid loss, or minimize it. This means try not to ejaculate, men, and for women it means to limit orgasms and sexual fluid loss." --is this a big problem when people are sick?? Too much sexual fluid loss?? Really odd bit.

518bce04b12cd77741237e1f61075194

(11577)

on February 09, 2012
at 10:39 PM

My boyfriends mom packed him with garlic when he was a kid too, to be honest it didn't help at all. There is no real mechanism for why it should work. I would be careful with relying on this as a method to treat a child who is underweight.

24fcc21452ebe39c032be6801d6bbadd

(9812)

on September 28, 2011
at 04:20 PM

http://www.hacres.com/hallelujah-diet/typical-day This looks awfully complicated! I don't know what BarleyMax is, or why we need four servings of it a day :/

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on September 27, 2011
at 08:20 PM

Vegetarian diet for kid ? Nonsense.

Eecc48184707bc26bce631485b5b7e34

(4764)

on June 07, 2011
at 06:38 PM

I have one too. 9 years old, 50 lbs. She looks normal-ish now but when she was 7 and weighed 38 lbs, she looked like a starving refugee. For her, vlc is vvb (very very bad). She does great on a high-ish starch paleo diet with potato/sweet potato and butter at pretty much every meal (in addition to bone broth/fat/meat etc). Coconut milk, banana egg, egg yolk smoothies are another favorite. Potatoes (any kind) are quick and easy when wrapped in a wet towel and microwaved for 4-5 minutes (or more if they're large). Under cold running water, the potato can be easily peeled by hand.

Eecc48184707bc26bce631485b5b7e34

(4764)

on June 07, 2011
at 06:33 PM

Paul Jaminet makes a convincing case for starches (including rice syrup). If they are tolerated, it would be a beneficial addition to his diet not only for growth but also for mucous production as this will be critical for gut health.

Eecc48184707bc26bce631485b5b7e34

(4764)

on June 07, 2011
at 06:31 PM

I wouldn't recommend SCD - it's really just a lax version of GAPS. Bone broths, because of the high glycine content, will be very beneficial. Fwiw, it took me months to adapt to coconut products and in sufficient amounts can still cause major gut discomfort for me. Do look into fructose malabsorption - it's very common.

5740abb0fa033403978dd988b0609dfd

(2633)

on February 05, 2011
at 07:27 AM

Awesome! Glad to hear it. Do keep us updated over time.

5d0283f9cf2480374a0b7df56b7f3d9b

(418)

on February 05, 2011
at 03:43 AM

Does she have bloating issues? Caleb seems a lot better the last two days and I'm feeling hopeful that the Paleo way will be the answer.

Bd6450474c7df5ecc3bbe1369a9a9abe

(80)

on February 04, 2011
at 02:30 AM

Great point!! We try to eat fruit before anything else simply because it breaks down faster (aka rots) when there is additional food in the stomach.

4b97e3bb2ee4a9588783f5d56d687da1

(22913)

on February 03, 2011
at 10:26 PM

brown rice syrup is bad, and MSG... YUCK.

5d0283f9cf2480374a0b7df56b7f3d9b

(418)

on February 03, 2011
at 10:25 PM

Thanks! We are going to go with limiting fruit (stick with only berries) but still allowing coconut for now (he loves it and since there isn't much he's eating I don't want to take it away).

5d0283f9cf2480374a0b7df56b7f3d9b

(418)

on February 03, 2011
at 09:17 PM

Thanks for the kudos :) it is tough on him. I feel so glad to have found this community. I've been really alone on this - I knew it was his diet just didn't know what direction to go in.

5d0283f9cf2480374a0b7df56b7f3d9b

(418)

on February 03, 2011
at 09:16 PM

I am thinking the fruit has to go for awhile. I am just off the grocery store to see if I can find some meat to temp him with.

5d0283f9cf2480374a0b7df56b7f3d9b

(418)

on February 03, 2011
at 09:14 PM

Thanks for those two suggestions - I'm going to see if my library has some books on GAPS or SCD. As for the diary we couldn't see anything that stood out other than more fruit than usual. I'm really leaning towards taking out the fruit - it's just so hard cause it's almost the only thing he like to eat right now...

07ad8e05f734cb1deec5479dc0e4a194

(315)

on February 03, 2011
at 08:29 PM

Breaking the VICIOUS Cycle--sorry for the misspelling!

05055dcbf12c81f1cce777ec365870af

(1791)

on February 03, 2011
at 07:55 PM

rather than very low carb, just be specific carb - eat sweet potatoes, yams: resistant starches with raw butter, and some brown rice syrup. fermented foods (just ferment everything really), bone broths/stocks, fat and protein. eat no toxins.

E2b9c679315c7c9c7265783dde89f350

(1303)

on February 03, 2011
at 07:34 PM

Have you looked into GAPS or SCD? It's not that different from what you're doing already, but specifically designed to heal.

04293f705870e1837b8670d3c1cd5f67

(2261)

on February 03, 2011
at 04:39 PM

I agree with Stephen on this one.

5740abb0fa033403978dd988b0609dfd

(2633)

on February 03, 2011
at 04:59 AM

Also what's in the diary? Last 4 days where he seemed to be doing better vs. today?

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14 Answers

7
5d0283f9cf2480374a0b7df56b7f3d9b

(418)

on February 05, 2011
at 05:22 AM

Thanks everyone for all you input. Just to let you know Caleb seems to be doing much better in the past two days - as the fructose intolerance wikipedia entry suggested we cut out the highest fructose fruits (apples and pears which he was eating lots of) and it does seem to have helped. His bloated belly has gone from 25inches to 20inches and his poops are better. I'm really hopeful that we may have found a way to control this for him so he can gain some weight and grow big and strong :)

I'll keep you all posted - thanks again for your comments and suggestions. Feels so nice to meet people who are willing to help.

5740abb0fa033403978dd988b0609dfd

(2633)

on February 05, 2011
at 07:27 AM

Awesome! Glad to hear it. Do keep us updated over time.

E36cb992cf0a5eba8b97a359c15f38b3

(4347)

on February 10, 2012
at 12:49 AM

So glad to hear it. I came to this one late, but my five year old daughter can't deal with certain fruits at all. (Horrible bloating, diarrhea, etc.) We went through all the allergy testing, etc., and did a full elimination diet. Sometimes, even beyond the fructose, acid can be a problem with fruits. Hang in there. I hope your son feels relief soon.

5
4b97e3bb2ee4a9588783f5d56d687da1

on February 03, 2011
at 02:29 PM

Want him to gain? Grassfed Beef, lots of it. Whole Eggs are great growth food too.

Drop the Fruit, you're feeding bad bacteria in a gut that's clearly suffering from Bacteria issues. Once he's FULLY healed you Might consider adding it back in.

VLC is best for resetting gut bacteria. Tho if you can introduce naturally fermented foods, they do wonders.

Your kid is very lucky to have you.

05055dcbf12c81f1cce777ec365870af

(1791)

on February 03, 2011
at 07:55 PM

rather than very low carb, just be specific carb - eat sweet potatoes, yams: resistant starches with raw butter, and some brown rice syrup. fermented foods (just ferment everything really), bone broths/stocks, fat and protein. eat no toxins.

4b97e3bb2ee4a9588783f5d56d687da1

(22913)

on February 03, 2011
at 10:26 PM

brown rice syrup is bad, and MSG... YUCK.

04293f705870e1837b8670d3c1cd5f67

(2261)

on February 03, 2011
at 04:39 PM

I agree with Stephen on this one.

Eecc48184707bc26bce631485b5b7e34

(4764)

on June 07, 2011
at 06:33 PM

Paul Jaminet makes a convincing case for starches (including rice syrup). If they are tolerated, it would be a beneficial addition to his diet not only for growth but also for mucous production as this will be critical for gut health.

5
5740abb0fa033403978dd988b0609dfd

on February 03, 2011
at 04:46 AM

Um, wow, the timing of your question is remarkable. Did you see Kurt Harris' recent blog post?

"5) When there is fructose in excess of glucose, or even when there is a large amount of fructose with glucose, there is often malabsorption in the small bowel ??? this can lead to rapid fermentation by bacteria in the colon, or abnormal overgrowth of bacteria in the distal small bowel. I speculate that fructose malabsorption is actually a defense mechanism to keep the liver from being overwhelmed by this metabolic poison, and the fact that we have not evolved a mechanism to handle big-gulp doses of fructose to the small bowel indicates modern quantities are likely outside of our evolutionary experience ??? the EM2."

...just don't send him an email asking medical advice. He hates that. :-)

Good luck. I can't imagine there's much in life more difficult than helping a child through a chronic medical condition.

5d0283f9cf2480374a0b7df56b7f3d9b

(418)

on February 03, 2011
at 09:16 PM

I am thinking the fruit has to go for awhile. I am just off the grocery store to see if I can find some meat to temp him with.

2
5acbbd91eb31408902bac98a1397f380

(200)

on February 03, 2011
at 03:41 AM

Boy, I must give you kudos...sounds like you have done a ton of great testing and work. With a 4 yr old I can only imagine what it is like doing so many food changes.

My only thought, have you done any candida elimination diets?...essentially low sugar in all forms with natural antifungals (combined with everything else you are already doing...probiotics, eliminating known allergens).

Some items like coconut oil which are anti fungals can cause a large die off which can cause bloating and discomfort/fatigue....so those might need to be added slowly. After a period of very low sugar, slowly add back in some carbs (like potatoes rather then fructose) to aid in weight gain. Use ghee, avo, eggs, and fatty meats in the meantime to keep calories up.

Seriously, best of luck, hate seeing kids uncomfortable.

5d0283f9cf2480374a0b7df56b7f3d9b

(418)

on February 03, 2011
at 09:17 PM

Thanks for the kudos :) it is tough on him. I feel so glad to have found this community. I've been really alone on this - I knew it was his diet just didn't know what direction to go in.

2
Medium avatar

on February 03, 2011
at 03:24 AM

I would suspect that fruit/fructose would be the problem. This would be present in the sweetener and in any fruit. Switch him to something like potato instead for a while and see how he does.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fructose_malabsorption

1
26b7615ef542394102785a67a2786867

on September 28, 2011
at 04:02 PM

He sounds like me, poor baby. It's very probable I have fructose malabsorption, I am also highly sensitive to gluten and most grains. You've gotten excellent advice already. I'll just echo to ADD LOTS OF CLEAN STARCHES (potatoes, sweet potatoes, squash, roots, white rice). High calorie, high fat, plenty of starch, lots of seafood/meat/eggs, low toxins.

1
24fcc21452ebe39c032be6801d6bbadd

(9812)

on February 03, 2011
at 02:05 PM

Poor little guy! I hope he feels better soon; he is lucky to have a paleo-mom! I have heard that eating fruit on top of other foods can cause bloating; food timing and combining might be something to play around with- maybe just let him have fruit in the morning?

Bd6450474c7df5ecc3bbe1369a9a9abe

(80)

on February 04, 2011
at 02:30 AM

Great point!! We try to eat fruit before anything else simply because it breaks down faster (aka rots) when there is additional food in the stomach.

1
62ed65f3596aa2f62fa1d58a0c09f8c3

(20807)

on February 03, 2011
at 05:33 AM

Poor thing! That's terrible. He must be really tough. I can only think you will need to try eliminating what you think is the most likely culprit and go one thing at a time and monitor very closely. However, it's only been 4 days on paleo so it's probably too early to really know for sure what direction it is going. Keep up with the food diary of course. You can probably let him have sweet potatoes as they are not nightshades and are not usually a prob. They should be no worse than fruit. What I might do if I were you is moderate fruit intake, allow some sweet potato, keep up with the rest of the paleo, and just wait a bit more and see how it goes. I know there is a strong instinct to fix it immediately, but sometimes/often rapid switching things around just creates more problems than it solves and doesn't give you enough data to really figure out what is working. Another thing might be to just try to keep everything in balance. Too much fruit at once can even cause the trots in many adults, so don't let him tank up all at once. Instead, a bit of sweat potato would be easy on the stomach. Also consider feeding more bland easy to digest food like banana and applesauce as the fruits. And the sweet potato is also easy to digest and easy on the stomach. If that doesn't work, then you will have to try eliminating more things. But I'd say just give it a bit of time and also, might want to make changes gradually for him so as not to shock his system too much. LIke if you decide to cut down fruit intake, might not want to do it suddenly but slowly instead. If you are just eliminating one food, it's not so hard, bu tif you are eliminating a whole food GROUP, it could be much harder for him to adapt quickly.

Also, another clue here that was not much talked about is you said he is a twin. Is he an identical twin? If so, interesting the other did not get this same prob. It would point to it not being entirely genetic but also very environmental. I keep thinking about how your doc said that you HAD to give a diary fortifier and then later he tested as allergic to diary. Good way to really mess up the gut flora and intestines of the poor kid. Makes me really wonder what was in that fortifier. Other supposedly 'nutritious' supplements I have seen seem to consist mostly of corn oil. Ick.

0
518bce04b12cd77741237e1f61075194

(11577)

on February 09, 2012
at 10:49 PM

My boyfriend had an awful time as a kid- he is the main reason I got into this diet, trying to find a solution for him! First, has he been tested for allergies yet? Testing for allergens with an allergist could show definitively what to avoid like the plague in your diet (and eradicate from your household environment entirely) and any things in the environment that might not be helping his immune system. The period of time my boyfriend was in the best health as a kid was when he was eating lots of lamb, veal, beef, and some vegetables. Fruits gave him eczema and rashes, so he never had any fruit in his diet. If calories are a problem, getting him to drink beef broth, covering veg in coconut oil, olive oil, and ghee would be helpful.

Another thing- if it gets bad and he isn't gaining weight, it probably is obvious, but don't mess around trying all the alternatives. If he has a parasite or a bacterial infection, it can do much less damage in the long run to have a short course of antibiotics, then be able to start from scratch with a healthy, bacteria and parasite free system. It would be worth it if things don't improve in a reasonable time period to get an analysis for parasites or infection. Our current doctor figures my boyfriend had a parasite for some time during childhood, and because it was never treated my boyfriends height was significantly stunted due to such a low weight. Try to get all those calories in there with as much good food as possible, but don't be afraid to treat a parasite or bacterial infection properly, then move on.

Another thing- if your son has a hard time eating things when he has a stomach ache, one of the easiest things I find to eat when I have a stomach ache is white rice cooked in bone broth. Great, bland way to get a little energy and nutrients in the body when it doesn't feel like eating, might work for him too!

0
2006ccb2b60f9cc5ba5e8eff8a7abc46

on February 09, 2012
at 10:02 PM

518bce04b12cd77741237e1f61075194

(11577)

on February 09, 2012
at 10:53 PM

Also, "Minimize electromagnetic pollution". Does he know what light rays are?

518bce04b12cd77741237e1f61075194

(11577)

on February 09, 2012
at 10:52 PM

..kind of weird though.. "Abstain altogether from sexual fluid loss, or minimize it. This means try not to ejaculate, men, and for women it means to limit orgasms and sexual fluid loss." --is this a big problem when people are sick?? Too much sexual fluid loss?? Really odd bit.

2006ccb2b60f9cc5ba5e8eff8a7abc46

(1533)

on February 10, 2012
at 12:50 PM

some of hs social critisisms are really silly. electromagnetic and light waves are not they same though! his ideas about fluid loss stem from orthomolecular science and basically when you lose too many important fluids it necessitates a rebalancing in minerals and fluids in the body which is what the body will then focus on instead of repairs. its kind of like dont give blood too often and dont drink too much water or you will pee out all your body salts.he just tends to focus on areas where people have addictive behaviors etc.his science is really good though, as well as his dietary advice

518bce04b12cd77741237e1f61075194

(11577)

on February 14, 2012
at 08:57 PM

Light waves are electromagnetic waves though (400-700 nm)? They are the same thing. I tend to baulk when people talk about energies (his reflexology mention) that don't exist and coffee enemas. Science circles the drain when those topics come up. He might just trying to be "rounded" which can be a fault if the "rounding" takes away from the mesage.

0
9a5e2da94ad63ea3186dfa494e16a8d1

on September 28, 2011
at 12:52 AM

A good friend of mine had a kid with serious digestive issues -- bloating, diarrhea, nausea, etc. They went down the "elimination diet" and "leaky gut" roads on and off for years, with some success, but did not get to the bottom of it.

What finally fixed it for them was discovering the kid had fungal overgrowth in his gut, though it is possible that he actually had several issues and they solved the others and the fungal isssue was the last one. The solution for this was, of all things, to eat lots of garlic. The kid was around 4 at this time and they just packed garlic into everything -- roasted, with potatoes, pureed with vegetables, etc. This treatment was recommended by a naturapath, and there are other options too, but I thought this was a particularly fun and natural solution.

Not suggesting that this exactly or the only thing your kid has, but I would include it in the list of possibilities. Good luck.

518bce04b12cd77741237e1f61075194

(11577)

on February 09, 2012
at 10:39 PM

My boyfriends mom packed him with garlic when he was a kid too, to be honest it didn't help at all. There is no real mechanism for why it should work. I would be careful with relying on this as a method to treat a child who is underweight.

0
Bd6450474c7df5ecc3bbe1369a9a9abe

on February 04, 2011
at 02:35 AM

Cooking with lots of Coconut Oil will help add fat to the diet (assuming you keep the coconut for a while). We have a scrawny 5 year old (also premature at birth, w' gluten & dairy issues), while her height is above average she is a complete stringbean... lol We are trying this ourselves... Good Luck!!

5d0283f9cf2480374a0b7df56b7f3d9b

(418)

on February 05, 2011
at 03:43 AM

Does she have bloating issues? Caleb seems a lot better the last two days and I'm feeling hopeful that the Paleo way will be the answer.

Eecc48184707bc26bce631485b5b7e34

(4764)

on June 07, 2011
at 06:38 PM

I have one too. 9 years old, 50 lbs. She looks normal-ish now but when she was 7 and weighed 38 lbs, she looked like a starving refugee. For her, vlc is vvb (very very bad). She does great on a high-ish starch paleo diet with potato/sweet potato and butter at pretty much every meal (in addition to bone broth/fat/meat etc). Coconut milk, banana egg, egg yolk smoothies are another favorite. Potatoes (any kind) are quick and easy when wrapped in a wet towel and microwaved for 4-5 minutes (or more if they're large). Under cold running water, the potato can be easily peeled by hand.

0
0c0c5c65612425e497b7231c21516943

(1354)

on February 03, 2011
at 08:30 PM

You are an awesome mom! Coconut can sometimes be a tree nut allergy, due to it being a tree nut. It was recently classified as a tree nut. My daughter has a tree nut allergy, but isn't alleric to coconut, but HATES it. I agree with the fructose issue, maybe some lower sugar fruits just to let him have some (berries). Your son is very lucky to have you!

5d0283f9cf2480374a0b7df56b7f3d9b

(418)

on February 03, 2011
at 10:25 PM

Thanks! We are going to go with limiting fruit (stick with only berries) but still allowing coconut for now (he loves it and since there isn't much he's eating I don't want to take it away).

0
07ad8e05f734cb1deec5479dc0e4a194

(315)

on February 03, 2011
at 08:27 PM

pecanbread.com is a helpful site for families with kids who have gut issues; the nutritional approach is the specific carbohydrate diet, with a special focus on special kids. Perhaps this, along with all the wonderful work you are doing, will be what works. Elaine Gottshcall's book, Breaking the Vicious Cycle, explains her specific carbohydrate approach. There are certain carbohydrates that cause problems; very compatible it seems to me with a paleo approach.

07ad8e05f734cb1deec5479dc0e4a194

(315)

on February 03, 2011
at 08:29 PM

Breaking the VICIOUS Cycle--sorry for the misspelling!

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