Thursday, 22 March 2012

Big Spender....

I've mentioned before that both of the boys are on special diets.  One word for this---- expensive!!!  Jack is currently on a gluten and casein free diet (he showed sensitivities to both) and has been since September.  We have definitely seen some improvement in his over all behavior and concentration.  This diet is not easy, that's for sure.  Think of almost everything convenient that you feed your kids, and take it away.  Then for about 50% of those items, double the price and make them available only at a grocery store 30 minutes from your home.  Exit yogurt, cheese, milk, anything breaded, regular bread, most cereals, ICE CREAM.  Oh, and family occasions?  Be prepared to make separate holiday dinners for your kids, unless of course you can find a way to work their stuff into the repertoire- see photo from Christmas.  Who knew you could make a gluten and dairy free yule log? 

Birthday parties?  Bring your own cake!  Oh, and pizza, or whatever else they might be having.  How about school parties?  Christmas stockings?  Easter baskets?  Valentine's day?  I may sound like I am complaining, but really I'm just trying to help everyone understand the implications of "simple" dietary changes.  There is no doubt that we are very lucky to be doing this now and not 10 years ago.  The variety and availability of products has increased exponentially and some of the stuff is really good!  Not that I eat it, I can't afford it, haha.  That's the main issue for us....cost.  There are ways to is my friend.  You can buy in bulk AND schedule the items to be shipped every so many months.  Convenient for those things you know your kid likes and will want again.  Other than that.....Whole Foods, and our local organic market.  My sister calls it Whole-Paycheck Foods.  Word. 

Nate's diet was initially the same as Jack's but we weren't really seeing the same improvement despite the fact that his sensitivities were more severe than Jack's.  Look out, a little science lesson coming.....not appetizing. Just sayin'.  One of the tests our pediatrician did on Nate was to check for yeast in his GI tract.  Will not explain this "process", will just say that daddy is very glad that mommy is a nurse, ha.  So his results showed an unusually high amount of yeast in his GI tract, the same organism that causes things like thrush.  This can effect digestion greatly, particularly the body's ability to properly break down nutrients.   The other issue is that yeast feeds on SUGAR.  Not gluten, not dairy, but sugar.  If sugar is not broken down in digestion, it remains in the gut, creating a "happy home" for yeast.  A self-perpetuating problem.  The first intervention we tried was medication- Nystatin to kill the yeast, and multiple probiotics.  3 times a day.  For 8 WEEKS.  I did see some brief improvement, but the symptoms came back rapidly when we stopped treatment AND Nate hated this medication so much that I could not get him to take any other oral meds for months after this.   The diet that we decided to try with Nathan is the specific carbohydrate diet....basic theory is to cut out all sugars other than the most simple, easily digestible sugars.  See the very basic explanation by following this link:

So now not only was Nate eliminating gluten and dairy, but all complex carbohydrates as well. One of the symptoms of yeast overgrowth and food sensitivity is the child exhibiting cravings for the things that they should not have.  Nathan was text book, and it all started when I weaned him from breastfeeding.  Not just the cravings, but the autistic behaviors.  It corresponds perfectly in my opinion.  First, Nathan would have bathed in cow's milk if I let him.  When I started giving him milk in his bottles he would drink 14 oz at a time.  And table foods.....carbs, carbs, carbs.  Now I know all little kids are like that to a certain extent, but Nate was extreme.  Think BREAD!  When we removed gluten it didn't matter, the gluten free bread was just as alluring to him.  When I started this diet, Nate was like a child possessed.  He boycotted eating almost everything for the first few days, and had horrible GI upset.  Here is what he could have- chicken (boiled), eggs, ground beef, white grape juice, homemade gelatin (he never accepted this).  For 5 days....this is the intro diet.  Sounds kinda like Atkins right?  After the first 5 days, I slowly added other foods in, cooked fruit, ripe banana, squash, then slowly other fruits and vegetables and nuts and nut products.  He can never have grain on this diet, corn, potatoes, table sugar, etc. 
Here are the stages:

So this was really really hard!  Nate didn't understand why everything basically tasted like crap all of the sudden, poor baby.  The first time I gave him homemade apple sauce after the intro, you would have thought it was crack.  He has adjusted to a certain extent although he is still very selective about what he will eat and getting vegetables into him is a challenge every day.  He is on so many supplements that I don't worry too much about his actual nutrition, but I do want him to eat a variety.  The average amount of time on this diet is about a year.  Once the yeast have "starved" due to lack of sugar, the GI tract can repair itself and the issues can basically be "fixed".  Not that it couldn't happen again.  Simple things in early childhood for sensitive kids, such as multiple rounds of antibiotics can wipe out the normal flora of the gut and predispose the child to these conditions.  Some say vaccines can also effect the balance.  Many theories swirling around out there.  Right now Nate's favorite food is chicken nuggets.  What, you ask?  They are organic chicken breasts dipped in egg and rolled in almond flour (very finely ground almonds) and spices and sauteed in coconut oil.  I made 4 pounds of them last night and froze them.  This will last about 2 weeks.  Requires a pound of almond flour.....guess how much???  $15 for a pound!!  Ouch.  He loves his applesauce, which I make in the slow-cooker, and the infamous banana pancakes (who woulda thought that mixing 4 eggs and two bananas would yield actual pancake looking and tasting food?), and almond flour "flatbread".  And some fruits and veggies.  And  beef or fish, if he would eat it.  Oh, and almond butter.  Something amazing?  About 3 weeks ago I decided to introduce peanut butter.  He has no sensitivity to peanuts and it was next on the list, so....let me tell you, within about 24 hours, both his father and I were noticing more self-stimulating activity, lack of concentration, etc.  And guess what?  His sitter and teachers did not know we introduced this and THEY mentioned it too!  So I removed it, he wasn't ready, problem solved. 

Has this diet "fixed" the problem?  Not by a long shot.  My feeling on the matter is that it certainly is not doing any harm to the boys.  Other treatments are much more invasive and have side effects, etc.  So why not try this?  What's a little time and money when their health is at stake, right?

1 comment:

  1. I have read research about this (as I have to read articles related to autism). The autism diagnosis can cost over a few million dollars over the lifespan for an average person with it. Because you have two, so you can imagine around $5-6 million over the lifespan. That number can go nowhere but up, unfortunately, if you account for inflation as they grow up. :(