08 Jul Case Study – How to Identify Food Intolerances
Five year old Alice was bought to my clinic by her concerned mother Sally. Alice was constantly complaining that her tummy was always sore and she often felt sick. Sally also noticed her daughter’s skin was getting itchy and blotchy and her hair had stopped growing and hadn’t been cut in a long time.
Her stomach was bloated and tight to touch which raised questions about Alice’s diet. This revealed she didn’t eat a lot of fruit and vegetables but instead craved milk, yoghurt, cheese and spaghetti. I thought she could have an underlying food intolerance to dairy products. I also noted she was missing out on fibre needed for normal shaped poop. When I asked questions about bowel movements, both Alice and her mother assured me she was going to the toilet once or twice a day for number twos.
To see if food intolerances were an underlying factor:
- After writing up a full history and taking into account Alice’s symptoms I asked her mother to keep a Food and Symptom Diary (download a free copy from the Resources section on website) to record what Alice eats and document her symptoms.
- I also asked her to note how often her daughter was having a bowel movement and if possible to ask Alice to show her what they looked like.
- We removed dairy from her diet because milk and cheese featured quite heavily at most meal-times. Food intolerances to these foods can affect gut motility to cause ‘Irritable Bowel Syndrome’ symptoms including nausea, bloating and pain.
- I suggested following my Healthy Eating Plan (available in the shop) with a focus of balancing out the important food groups in Alice’s diet.
Treating the underlying cause
Over the course of the subsequent two weeks, our main aim was to firstly identify if dairy products were the cause of the tummy pains and secondly to achieve improved bowel function with well-formed stools resembling the shape of a sausage.
Over the next fortnight Alice’s mother diligently recorded everything I asked and removed dairy from her diet. The biggest surprise was Alice’s daily bowel movements, they looked like pellets or rabbit poop, so even though she was having a daily poop she was constipated.
While Alice was initially a little coy to show her poop, she quickly got on board when shown pictures of how we wanted her poop to look and what we were working toward. Sally was happy to gently massage her daughter’s tummy to help get things moving in the right direction. Because the stool was hard and compacted we opted for stool softeners so not to cause pain and distress. She also increased water intake to help loosen the stools, established a regular toilet routine and used a foot stool to position Alice’s knees above her hips to help the passage of poop.
By following the Elimination Program (available from the shop section on the website) and removing dairy products from Alice’s diet for 2 weeks, her tummy pains disappeared and this is a good indication that dairy products are a problematic good group for Alice. The next stage of the Elimination Diet involves reintroducing dairy products into Alice’s diet to see if her symptoms return, which they did.
Over the ensuing 4 weeks, Alice reported significant improvements in her bowel movements and was beginning to pass increasing amounts of poop every morning. Her distended tummy was returning to normal size and her skin was beginning to glow. To prevent constipation from recurring, Sally increased the fibre content in her daughter’s diet, made sure she was properly hydrated and had plenty of time in the mornings to sit on the toilet. They also discovered through trial and error that Alice could tolerate eating small amounts of dairy without enduring the painful symptoms.
Not long after, Sally contacted me to say new hair was starting to grow. Although we hadn’t specifically targeted the immune system, Sally was also pleasantly surprised that when Alice caught a cold she recovered twice as quickly and the symptoms weren’t as severe. This illustrates the systemic benefits that can be achieved by effectively addressing long-standing food intolerances and constipation and the disturbance it can cause to overall health and wellbeing.
FIONA STOCK | THE CHILDREN’S NATUROPATH | MELBOURNE NATUROPATH
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