Posted 5/22/2006 8:26 AM (GMT -7)
Most people on here will recommend that you do a food diary. Basically you write down everything he eats and then what kind of reactions he has that day--sleepiness, diarrhea, constipation, gas pains, etc. Eventually you may begin to see a pattern of what bothers him and what does not. Don't forget to look at artificial sugars and preservatives as culprits. When you suspect a food, eliminate it and see if he gets better.
Processed foods are full of all sorts of things. You'll find milk protiens (casein and, I think, lechtin) in foods you wouldn't think have any milk in them. Wheat also hides in pretty much everything that's processed, under a variety of names, including gluten. And sugar is in EVERYTHING!!! My suggestion to you would be to make all of his food from scratch so you know EXACTLY what's in it (including bread--commercial kinds are a bad offender). It will make it easier to see a connection between what he's eating and how he reacts. If you can afford it, you may even want to try organic foods. Some people are so sensitive to chemicals that they can only tolerate completely organic items. But since organic can be really pricey unless you raise your own meat and vegetables, and most people are not that sensitive, cooking from scratch should do. That will at least eliminate the preservatives and artificial sugars and dyes. As the author of one book I read says (The French Don't Diet): if it doesn't have a mommy and daddy or grew out of the ground, then it's not real food.
If you find that your son seems to react to certain things, like all types of dairy or all types of grains, then you might want to take him to an allergist and see if he has an intolerance or allergy to these items. It may just be that his guts don't process them well, but it could also be that he has an allergy and should definitely look to avoid all forms of these foods.
By my estimate, only about half of us here have a problem with dairy, so I don't think there is any reason for your son to quit dairy all together unless you find that there is indeed a link between dairy and his problems. I mean, why miss out if you don't have to? And if he does have a problem, is it just a lactose intolerance or an actual allergy? If it's just lactose intolerance, then he should be able to drink Lactaid milk without a problem and eat most yogurts (the bacteria in it consumes most of the lactose). If it's a true dairy intolerance or allergy, then he would need to avoid all forms of dairy, including those proteins that get hidden in processed foods.
I'm not sure why your doctor said no red meat; I don't know that a lot of IBSers have a problem with that (some do, though). However, red meat is harder to digest than other meats (and non-meats, of course), so it's probably not a bad idea to limit him to small portions of red meat. At 12 years old, I'm betting he's not a steak-a-day eater anways, but then our portion sizes are WAY out of control in the U.S. (and rapidly Britain as well). If you look to see what weight a hamburger patty should be, you'll find in more in line with a McDonald's plain hamburger flat patty than the huge ones most people make at home (we'll not even get into Big Macs, Whoppers and Hardee's Monster burgers). Unless you notice that red meat in particular messes him up, I would let him have red meat once a week at the recommended portion size. That's enough red meat for anyone, really. Fish is better for you and chicken's not bad. I think pork, though, is just one step down from red meat, so maybe that only once or twice a week too.
Some other things that mess IBSers up that you will want to try eliminating at some point: artificial sugars--including the worst of the worst, sugar alcohols (sugar-free products); raw apples and apple juice (and for some, cooked apples as well); acidic foods, like citirus fruits, coffee and tomatoes; caffeine; if he has gas pains, carbonation and beans; raw vegetables and some cooked vegetable that are very tough (cauliflower, broccoli, bell peppers); pre-cut lettuce from a bag or salad bar (washed in chemicals that cause a lot of people diarrhea); sugar (including honey, molasses, cane sugar and high fructose corn syrup--although of those, honey and molasses are the least likely to cause problems and the most likely to be tolerable in small doses).
Did the doctor give your son something for the migraines? They can certainly get so bad that they can cause bowel problems (may even be the source of them). Both of you should definitely try and go preservative, chemical and dye free with your foods as I have heard that is sometimes a culprit of migraines. You may also need to go organic as you may be one of those really sensitive people; I have heard of people who cured their migraines by doing that. They also have to be careful of artificial scents from candles, plug-ins, perfume, and even deodorant. You may both want to go to an allergist.