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Saturday, October 4, 2008

Diet? What Diet?!?

Let's face it, once you enter the world of autism, nothing is sacred. Not even that yummy slice of cake or bowl of ice cream you secretly yearn for every day. With our children, diet can mean everything and in some cases, diet can mean nothing (although you still want it to be healthy). In the case of my son, we worked on diet for 2 years with no results so I stopped trying. Some would say that I shouldn't have but I have limited resources and I'd rather put those resources where I'll get the most bang for my buck. But I do suggest that everyone at least try because many children do so much better just working on diet alone. Give it 6 months to a year because it can take that long just to get it right.

GFCF (Gluten Free, Casein Free)

The Gluten Free/Casein Free diet is generally the most popular. This is hard one to implement because gluten and casein is in just about everything. You must read labels carefully and know all the "code words" for them. Hidden sources are everywhere.

Why is it helpful, you ask? Well, there are several reasons. First, many of our kids are allergic (IgE allergies) or have food sensitivities (IgG allergies). If they have them, it's toxic and places a great deal of strain on the immune system. In many cases, more than gfcf needs to be implemented such as removal or corn and soy. A poorly functioning immune system equals a not so great functioning brain and body. Gluten and casein can also have an opioid effect where it creates a "high". Hyper, brain fog, aggression, etc. In some cases, it may also be that the gut simply can't break it down and metabolize it and causes/contributes to leaky gut.

10 Weeks To GFCF

SCD (Specific Carbohydrate Diet)

Also a difficult diet but again, another one in which many people find success. This involves exactly what the name implies and was originally developed for ulcerative colitis and IBD. It's very restrictive but many kids with severe gut issues find help with this diet.

Breaking the Vicious Cycle

Feingold Diet

This is much simpler but some kids may find it too lenient. Still, it can be effective and there are some that do just fine with this diet alone. Especially used in ADHD.

Feingold Association of the United States

Other diets?
Yes, of course there are other diets to choose from but I mention these because these are the most prominent. And yes, in some cases, diet isn't needed. Each child is so different and has such individual needs that it's hard to say if a diet will be effective. The only way to know is to try. As I said earlier, we did diet for a couple years before we dropped diet altogether. We never saw any changes, good or bad and these diets can be costly. So we chose to place our money where it was actually being effective. We still avoid the basics - artificial dyes, artificial sugar, preservatives and processed foods. We try to eat as much organic food as possible and basically do our best to keep food as healthy as possible. But my suggestion is to always try dealing with diet first. You don't know if it's going to work until you do. There's no test more accurate than just starting and watching. You need to give diets time to work, too. Give it at least 6 months and some say 1 year. We went over 2 years with diets so we definitely put in the effort and the time and I always recommend others do the same before giving up. They can be hard to implement and for the first few months, mistakes will be made as you discover all the many words for gluten, casein, etc. Reading and understanding labels is essential and you have to take your time figuring it all out.

Good luck!

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