Thursday, May 1, 2008
The GFCF diet
I started reading books by moms who had recovered their sons by using "the diet". I loved the book by Karyn Seroussi. She was so inspirational and down to earth. She talked about her search to cure her son and how she found the science behind the diet. I knew this diet would help Connor. Her son sounded so much like my son. Her story was so similiar to my story that I knew this was something I needed to try. Again, with the mindset that if it won't hurt him and might help him, why not?
At first the diet seemed so daunting. What is gluten? Is it as simple as not giving him bread? The more I learned about gluten and casein (milk protein) the more I felt udderly overwhelmed. Gluten is in EVERYTHING! Not only is it a hidden ingredient in almost everything, you also have to worry about the contamination issue. Contamination is actually a bigger issue than most people realize. When moms tell me that they tried the diet and they didn't see any change in their child, I always ask if their house is a gluten and casein free zone. Do they use the same pizza wheel to cut gluten and non gluten pizzas? Do they cut a piece of cheese and then cut something for their child with the same knife or on the same cutting board? Also, did they call the manufacturers of the packaged food they are giving their kids to make sure there is not a hidden gluten ingredient (like misc spices) or if the manufacturer uses dedicated gluten and casein free assembly lines?
When you are first starting this diet there are a lot of things you have to look into, but once you have done a bit of research (thank god for the internet) you can feed your family with confidence.
I believe you have to find fun things that taste good and are healthy for our kids, especially in the beginning. Our kids only eat chicken nuggets and milk for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Many parents believe their child would starve to death if they even attempt to put them on this diet. The question you have to ask yourself is, would you allow your child to eat poison if that is all they wanted to eat? It is hard in the beginning, but it only takes a couple of days before you start to trust your decision.
What do I feed my child? That is the first question I get with new parents. The answer is, whatever he/she will eat (in the beginning). I gave Connor Rice Dream icecream for breakfast the first week we started the diet. I knew he would eat it and I knew it was a safe food. We don't need to do everything at once. The important thing is to have a plan. Don't get discouraged when your child won't eat what you made (or bought at the store) in the beginning. Children in general are fickle about food. They like certain textures and spices more than others. I spent a fortune in the beginning finding out what Connor liked.
I made a lot of mistakes the first six months. I didn't know that Rice Dream milk had gluten. I didn't know that some french fries have gluten. I didn't know that wheat free doesn't mean gluten free. I also used soy as a replacement for a lot of his favorite things. I don't know if this was a mistake, but it is not the best way you can do it. Soy is like a cousin to gluten and casein. It isn't tolerated by our kids. I didn't take soy away from Connor's diet for at least a year. Luckily he didn't mind not having it.
I think that this diet was the first thing we did that really made a difference for Connor. His mind cleared. He stopped the weird giggle. He didn't stim as much. He really seemed like he was taking in more of his world. It was not a miracle pill for Connor like it is for so many other kids. It was a piece of the puzzle.
I would like to share some ideas for what to feed your kids (and yourselves). It is hard to come up with new ideas that don't have all of the no-no foods in them. I use to make homemade flour tortillas every day and homemade pizza dough. Now I don't allow gluten flour in my house. I hardly allow gluten or dairy in my house at all. Now we have taco night with crunchy shells and spaghetti night with rice pasta. It is different than before, not worse, just different.
My best friend and godmother to Connor is an amazing cook and pastry chef. She has offered to share some recipes and dinner ideas that your whole family will love. She is busy with her little boy (cute little blonde handful) but she will post ideas whenever she has time. Thank you Aran.
Please take time to think about the diet for your child. Remember, it is only food! There are so many things you can make or buy that your child will love if you just allow them the opportunity.