At a family party this weekend, Ryan nibbled on someone’s wheat hot dog bun. A whole roomful of relatives who know he is allergic to wheat watched him do it. When Stu turned around and realized what had just happened, he yelled at one of the relatives and asked why the hell she hadn’t stopped Ryan from eating someone else’s bread, she calmly replied, “It was just a little bit.”
There’s no such thing as “just a little bit” of a food allergen.
Ryan’s reaction to wheat doesn’t look like a typical “allergic reaction” – there are no rashes, no blisters, no sudden loss of the ability to breathe. You could look at him right after he has eaten wheat and think he was perfectly fine.
Here’s the problem: Ryan’s body does not break down wheat proteins completely, and his brain interprets the partially-processed amino acids as an opiate.
About two days after wheat exposure, he gets stoned.
And while he’s stoned, he is less able to function. His language skills disappear. His social skills disappear. His bladder control disappears. His concentration is shot. The meltdowns come rapid-fire.
It’s a freaking mess.
And then his body goes through withdrawal. Remember when I tried cutting gluten from my diet, and I wanted to cut people? Yeah, it’s like that, but without the rational understanding that this awful feeling shall pass.
The whole reaction event, from exposure through withdrawal, takes two weeks.
So if you see my kid eating someone else’s food, stop him, because 1) it’s rude; and 2) an allergy is a big deal, even if the bite he takes is small.
(Today is Day 2 – behavior has been a little off, but I’m not ready to conclude that’s because of wheat exposure. We have to wait and see.)