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Book Review: What’s Eating Your Child?

We have been so blessed to receive this Q&A session with Kelly Dorfman, MS, LND, author of WHAT’S EATING YOUR CHILD? The Hidden Connections Between Food and Childhood Ailments. This book provides great insight to connections you wouldn’t think of between food and childhood ailments including anxiety, stomachaches, picky eating and much, much more. Kelly really captures the reader with her knowledge and passion on this topic. This is a great book for any parent to keep in their home. Please enjoy the following Q&A designed just for my Gluten Free Frenzy readers!

Gluten Free Frenzy Q&A with Kelly Dorfman, MS, LND, author of WHAT’S EATING YOUR CHILD? The Hidden Connections Between Food and Childhood Ailments

1. How do you suggest parents with celiac disease go about feeding their children once solids are introduced?
Introducing solids to a toddler with celiac disease is pretty much the same as introducing healthy food to any toddler. Concentrate on fresh fruits, vegetables, meats, legumes, rice, potatoes, gluten-free grains and dairy products. The closer food is to the way it comes from the earth, the better. No need to spend extra money on gluten free crackers and treats which quickly fill up little tummies so there is no room for dinner. One of the biggest weaknesses in children’s diets is the excessive use of empty calorie grain based snacks and desserts. Eggs and potatoes or yogurt and fruit are easy breakfasts, for example.

2. How and when do you suggest parents with celiac disease get their children tested?
Talk with your doctor but before age two the blood screening tests are not accurate and have many false negatives because the child’s immune system is underdeveloped. (A false negative means the test says the child does not have markers when they actually have a problem.) You can run the test and if it is positive, you know for sure but a negative test does not rule out the disease. Gene tests are also iffy because they can find the presence of the celiac gene but cannot tell if it is being expressed and therefore, significant. Before age 2, the best way to find celiac disease if blood screening tests are negative is to be a detective and look for symptoms of gluten intolerance. These could include (but are not limited to), excessive gas, diarrhea, poor appetite, reflux, stomach pain, poor growth/weight gain, headaches, joint pain, unexplained anemia, rashes, pancreatitis, and severe mood swings. Try removing gluten and see if the symptoms improve. If so, after age 2, you can repeat the tests if you still need confirmation. The child needs to be back on gluten for at least 6 weeks to assure accuracy and some families cannot tolerate the symptoms for that long and the doctor will give the diagnosis based on symptoms even though an endoscopy is the gold standard for proving the presence of celiac disease. No test, including an endoscopy, is perfect so follow your instincts if test results do not agree with your experience.

3. What are some signs & Symptoms of celiac disease and gluten intolerance to watch for in little ones?
See above.

4. How can parents of children with celiac disease and gluten intolerance keep things as normal as possible while also adhering to the gluten free lifestyle?
When the gluten free diet is started early, most kids adjust without problems. People eat what they are accustomed to and if that is gluten free noodles, that is what they learn to like. Many children in my practice with siblings on gluten free diets prefer gluten free alternatives anyway as that is what they eat at home. Eating is an emotional experience so if the parents present gluten free living as normal and no big deal, that is what the child will believe also. The potential problem is when the sensitivity is found in late childhood and the diet changes drastically. But even in this case, I have found a vast majority of kids adapt better than their parents! They often feel so much better when the irritant is removed that they regulate themselves. All transitions are difficult but the idea of the diet is worse than the reality.

5. What future endeavors do you have planned to continue your great work in the celiac community?
I would like to expand awareness and recognition of neurological celiac. This condition is mostly underdiagnosed or misdiagnosed. In neurological celiac (or gluten sensitivity) the symptoms are mostly neurological or psychological. There may be few or no classic digestive complaints. The children and teenagers I have identified are often on a cocktail of drugs and suffer for years with what looks like mood disorder but is actually a problem with gluten. About once a month one of these kids comes through my office and their stories are all heartbreaking. It tears families apart and I would like to help prevent some of that suffering.

From WHAT’S EATING YOUR CHILD? The Hidden Connections Between Food and Childhood Ailments by Kelly Dorfman, MS, LND, Workman Publishing

What exactly is gluten anyway, and why is it so hard to avoid?

Gluten is a nonspecific term derived from the Latin word for “glue.” Glue to gluten—no big surprises there. Most cookbooks describe gluten as the protein that makes the dough in bread and other baked goods stretchy and yummy. Gluten is not one protein but a type of protein. In wheat, the specific gluten is gliadin. Rye has secalin, and barley, hordein. There are loads of gluten substances and cousins. Hordein, gliadin, and secalin sound more like a group of cute Southern belles, but they are closely related, and all have to be avoided by those with celiac disease and gluten sensitivity. Oats, on the other hand, also contain a gluten called avenin, but this particular gluten rarely bothers people with celiac disease. So, even though oats technically contain gluten, most gluten-sensitive people can tolerate it.

No wonder food labeling has been mired in confusion. Are oats labeled “gluten-free” really without gluten? They cannot be, because oats contain gluten. They would be more accurately labeled “wheat-gluten–free.” Some oat companies use flour or other starch in the processing, and that is a problem for celiacs. Long, consistent lobbying efforts have attempted to clarify labeling with only mixed success.

Label reading gets worse when vague terms such as modified food starch are used. The source could be corn, tapioca, potato, wheat, or some laboratory-derived mystery starch (with the exception of wheat, all safe for the gluten-free). If it is not specified, the consumer is forced to err on the side of avoidance or spend long hours on the phone with pleasant but generally unhelpful food company representatives.

What You Can Eat on a Gluten-Free Diet

· good old grains: rice, corn

· fun new grains: millet, amaranth,
wild rice, quinoa

· potatoes

· any meat, vegetable, fruit, nut, seed, dairy product (although liquid milk and ice cream bothers many people intolerant to gluten)

· legumes (kidney beans, black beans, pinto beans, etc.)

Website URL: and

Publisher: Workman Publishing

Publication Date: April 28, 2011

Press Contact: Rebecca Carlisle

Biographical Information for the Author:

Name: Kelly Dorfman, MS, LND

Short Bio: Kelly Dorfman is a nutritionist who specializes in difficult cases. She has written dozens of articles, has been featured in several books and quoted in publications such as The Washington Post. Kelly lectures and speaks across the country. She lives outside Washington, D.C.

**Workman Publishing and Kelly Dorfman provided me with the product mentioned above for review purposes on this website. I was not paid or compensated in any other way for my reviews. They are my opinions and my opinions alone.

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