Monday, 2 April 2012

The Diet


    Life without bread, cheese, pasta, pastries and butter......
Up until this point in my life I would have said that this is not a life worth living.

    That is until we got a diagnosis for autism for our toddler in January of this year. After three years of trying to figure things out and wondering what we were doing wrong, we finally had our answer. It wasn't any one's fault, it wasn't "bad" behaviour, it was a blessing. We now had a direction to head in. Our "whys" were being answered. There are resources available for support. So... Great! We've got this beat. Let's deal with it and move on. Right?................Wrong.

    Upon receiving a diagnosis and spending oh let me just take a guess, hmm, about 4 billion hours of research. At least. I sadly came to the same realization that every other parent of an autistic child does... There is no cure. No medication, no therapy, no programs, nothing that would help make my little man's very difficult life easier.

    Now I am not a cure monger. Wishing for my child to be different, wishing he would change. I do however, wish for a life of pleasure for him. As it stands now, pleasure is not the emotion displayed most often, frustration is.

   Who wants their child to go through life frustrated? Screaming and yelling and thrashing and hitting. Not being able to communicate the simplest of needs to feel the slightest bit of semblance in a very chaotic world. I know I don't. I love my son. I love that he is autistic. I love his quirks, I love that his autism is just like the unique icing on the many layers of cake that make up who he is.

    OK, so where does that leave us? I would like his life to be easier and less frustrating while maintaining all the wonderful things about him. Hmmmm, tall order, especially when they can't even tell you why it is that children are autistic in the first place. Why it is that rates have climbed at an insurmountable rate and now 1 in every 88 children is diagnosed with autism. It's a bloody worldwide epidemic and no one can even tell us why!

    In my, what did I say 3 billion hours, or was it 4, of research, I did notice a trend. Many parents have noticed the trend in fact. Turns out, autistic behaviour is amplified when certain foods are in the body. Common foods. Foods that autistic children tend to lean towards. Coincidence? I think not. Turns out that the proteins in milk (casein) and the proteins that make up gluten are like drugs to our little bundles of joy. Children with autism (ADHD as well) on the whole suffer from many gastrointestinal (GI) issues due to the inability to properly break down both of these proteins.

    OK, so what does that mean? It means that while I thought bread and cheese were bad for ME because they went straight to my hips, I was unaware that the danger was real for my son. These proteins have an opiate like effect in the body for autistic children. Yep, you heard me, might as well be shooting them up with heroin.

    This certainly explains why autistic children are infamous for their bread and cheese only diets, and why they all crave it like it's a glass of iced tea in the Sahara.  Our babies are junkies, and we are the suppliers.

    So now what? It stands to reason that if something is doing harm, then you don't do it any more. "OK son, now I know that you have very rigid guidelines to what and how you like to eat. Too Bad though." (pfft) I also know that i do not have them money to continuously stock our pantry with practically inedible products that sometimes cost up to 12X as much. (Have you ever tried an $8 loaf of gluten free bread? Can't even get it down, and I've eaten stuff that would make your head spin) Well, I guess that means that I'll be baking.

    Now it is a bloody good thing that I am a chef by trade, and have a love for food that runs deep. Unfortunately, watching a regular gluten laden loaf of bread rise with all of it's gorgeous glory after I worked it with my hands into a smooth ball promising to be delicious dragged through olive oil later (sorry I'm getting carried away), it is not the same as the sticky thick batter and 15 or so ingredients that make up gluten free bread. It doesn't even smell like food.

    So I am out on my own, weeding through uncharted territory and taking abuse from one bad recipe after another. All the while trying to keep my son fed. Spending countless dollars on ingredients that I only used once and feeling quite defeated. I took a break. Stopped baking yet kept on reading. Reading about every gluten free, dairy free cooking method and replacement product under the sun. Finally feeling it was worth another try, I began for a second time, armed with knowledge. And Success!

    Now I am still very much in the trial and error stage of this new cooking adventure that I am on, but there is definite progress. My son can now have the peanut butter and jam sandwich that he oh so desperately wants, and follow it up with a delicious buttery cookie. Works for me.

    Hopefully to save even one person the amount of grief that I went through I have decided to post some of my favorite recipes. I have read like a million blogs with people stating that they have figured it all out, and then been quite let down with my experience with their recipes. I hope to give other parents of children with autism and ADHD a valuable resource to turn to. One that is worth turning to.

    Oh and just for the record... My little man is improving by the day since we have started the diet. His world seems just a touch less frustrating, but he's still his fabulous quirky self.


  1. So wonderfully written, Jenna!!! Each time I read your posts I'm totally drawn in. I admire your attitude and courage and hope that you're able to find more edible recipes!!

  2. Why thank you Jenny. We're getting there. Slowly but surely :)

  3. Have you come across the One Minute Muffin Recipe? There are several versions out there but these are the two I have played around with and like. If you Google there will be tons of variations that pop up.


    1/4 cup flax meal (26 grams)
    1/4 tsp baking powder
    1 tsp sugar
    1 tsp cinnamon
    1 egg
    1-1/2 tsp oil
    Mix and microwave for 1 minute.