Friday, July 29, 2011

GFCF update

We are now at 2 months of gluten-free, casein-free eating for Little Bean, so I wanted to give a bit of an update.

Just after I wrote my last post about our diet, Little Bean took a turn for the worse. Many of the new skills he had gained regressed, and his aggression increased. It got to the point where we were basically worse off than before we started. I was so crushed and disappointed that week. But it was only a week.

We discovered that he may have some sensitivity to berries, almonds and apples as well. So we them out for a bit, and that did seem to help. Also, through my research I found that some children will go through "withdrawals" as the left over gluten leaves the system. It can make behavior worse for a while, so that may have been where that was coming from as well. We were also concerned it may have been a cross-contamination issue with Miss O, since she was not following the diet. We decided to put her on it as well, and that has made things much more simple when it comes to food preparation (btw, we also saw the withdrawal symptoms in her around the same time frame as we saw them with Little Bean, however we have not seen extreme positive changes in her so far). We really still don't know what of these things was the contributing factor, or if all of them are, but I am grateful it was only a week and now we seem to be making progress.

Each day we are seeing new skills emerge, it's really quite mind-boggling to me. Besides those I talked about in my last post, the most recent one is a bit of imaginative play.

When Little Bean plays with toy figures, he dictates the story. He'll say, "And then, Buzz climbed up the tree and said, 'Get over here!' Woody replied, 'No!', so Buzz stated, 'Alright, I'm coming to get you'. It literally sounds like he is reading off a page, including descriptive words and saying, 'replied' and 'said'. For all I know, he may be reading off a page that he has memorized from his books. He never becomes a character. Usually when you hear a kid play, you hear, "I'm going to get you!" as they move a character across the floor. Etc, etc. Not so with Little Bean...

until this week that it is! This week I have seen little snippets of him pretending (in the first person!), a skill that usually emerges closer to age 3. It's kind of exciting!

We are also noticing more empathy and ability to understand cause and effect. Example: if I don't clean up my room when mom asks, it's possible she may not see a toy and it will get sucked up by the vacuum, AND that is not anyone's fault but my own (real story here!).

We are still dealing with some anxiety and anger, but it's toned down significantly since we started this diet. My husband asked me the other day, "Do you think he is just growing up and getting more mature and that's why the changes?" No way, do I think that. Why would it coincide so well with the dietary changes, and why would it happen so quickly in so many areas? I really believe the dietary changes are the reason why we are seeing progress like this. I guess the only way to truly test that would be to let him cheat on his diet and see what happens. At this point, I'm nowhere near allowing that to happen though!

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Lea said...

I have been thinking about this so much since you first posted about your positive results. Can you share how you went about making such significant changes in what you all eat? Are your children picky eaters or are they open to trying new foods? Did you buy a special kind of cook book? Are you making your bread or buying it at a whole foods store or not eating bread at all?

I find your results so interesting but I can't imagine being able to successfully make such huge changes. How did you do it?

Jennifer said...

Lea--thanks for the comment! I would love to give you a more lengthy reply via email, but I could not find a way to contact you on your blog. So I'll just do it here! Feel free to contact me if you want more info.

First, I will say that I am lucky in that my kids are not picky. We've worked really hard to get them to try new foods, so that has really helped in this new endeavor.

I think it's essential to have at least a book or two when you start this diet, unless you have a really knowledgible friend who can guide you every step of the way. I purchased these ones:

Eating for Autism by Strickland, this one is great because it's written by a nutritionist and she goes over all the steps to get your child on this diet, even if they are a picky eater.

The Autism and ADHD diet by Silbert. This one is great because she lists specific brands for all the replacement products you will buy. I take this one to the store with me to make purchases based on her opinions of safe brands. And yes, I do shop for them mostly at the health food store. We don't have a Whole Foods or Trader Joes, so we go to a local health food store. They have everything we need. I get meats and fruits at Sams as well as some naturally gluten free items that they can eat.

Getting Your Kid on a GFCF Diet by Susan Lord. This one is a really snappy overview. It's great for a general idea, but you will want more if you decide to proceed.

The Kid Friendly ADHD and Autism Cookbook. This one is mostly recipes. I do use it sometimes, but usually I adapt my regular recipes for them.

The first two I would totally say you would benefit from if you want more information. :)

As for bread, we do eat alot less bread and more rice and potatoes instead like for dinners. But they do eat GF bread, tortilla, etc. It's not the best, but it works.

The way I made the changes was that I started with casein because it's fairly simple to find a milk substitute and gluten is alot more complex to remove. My kids have a dairy allergy anyway, so they were on rice milk. They still ate butter though (Earths Balance I think it's called), so we switched that out and found a cheese replacement (Daiya). Once they were off dairy, I started replacing our gluten products, such as pasta with GF varieties.

I go to the store and look for brands from that book and read labels. Right now I am still using our gluten containing products on my dh and I and the kids have their own. Like if I make spaghetti I use our pasta and cook theirs in a separate pot. But alot of meals I make I try to avoid gluten so that i only have to cook one thing. If I cook both, I make sure to label everything. Gluten free items have a white piece of masking tape on them, gluten containing don't. So I have two serving spoons, two pots going, and two containers for leftovers.

I store all their GF food in a separate cupboard. The hardest part is not being able to eat out due to worry of cross contamination (using the same spoon on gluten containing foods, etc) and the cost. Our grocery bill has gone up, but it is worth it!

Hope that helps!

Lea said...

This is very helpful, thanks so much. I really appreciate the information. I'm not sure if we will give it a try or not yet but I'm thinking about it. Our issue is more of an explosive anger issue with one of our sons but I still wonder if eliminating some of these things from his diet might have an impact.

Thanks again and I'm looking forward to reading your coming series.

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