we are what we eat: food and its effects on Autism

we are what we eat food and its effects on Autism
*Please be sure to read the note at the end regarding the words “managing” Autism before making any assumptions about my stand on this issue. Heck, just go read the note no matter what, it’s a point we all need to consider.

Katherine Reid of Unblind My Mind says, “We are what we eat, but most of us don’t know what we’re eating.”

Katherine’s daughter was diagnosed with Autism, and she says, “She was a child in her own world. There was no eye contact, no interaction with others, no bonding…playing with other children.” Katherine’s family tried several interventions including Applied Behavior Analysis (you can see my thoughts on that here), play therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, and Auditory Integration Therapy, but nothing seemed to be making a difference.

Using her background in biochemistry, with a focus on nutrition, Katherine began changing her daughter’s diet in three phases (including adding supplements and removing foods and additives). Each phase created a change in her daughter, which she talks about in the video below.

The transformation in her daughter is astonishing after Katherine made these dietary changes. I only say this because, if you watch the video, there were some intense feelings her daughter was struggling with before the modifications.

We’ve made dietary changes with our son, Jeremiah, and we’ve noticed a remarkable difference in his behavior, attention, eye contact, and ability to follow simple directions. Here are some of the adjustments we’ve made:

  1. ProEFA Nordic Naturals (specialized fish oil)
    A friend of mine has a grandson who takes this formula that blends EPA and DHA from cold water fish [from Norway] with GLA from borage oil. The omega-rich blend supports…brain function, positive mood,,,and supports a healthy immune system.”
    This ProEFA oil has been shown to help children talk. My friends grandson has Autism and was nonverbal. Within two weeks of taking the supplement he began to make an effort to approximate words for anything and everything. Within a month, he could say all words for things he needed or played with. Language began to explode once he was able to verbalize and realized the power his words had. Within about six months he knew and used all words needed. His ability to communicate led to less meltdowns and behavior issues.
    Because of the testimony from my friend about ProEFA, we began giving it to Jeremiah every day (we do two capsules a day) and we saw marked improvement. When he’s taking the ProEFA, his eye contact, behavior, and ability to calm or stay calm are better, he is less irritated and he’s happier.
    When we don’t give Jeremiah his ProEFA it’s obvious. He hasn’t started talking (although we’ve heard words here and there and a few short sentences, but nothing sticks), but the other benefits are worth the expense.
    People with Autism can be particular when it comes to food, so you may wonder how to get this oil in your child. First, this oil don’t have the strong fishy taste of other fish oils, the flavor is lemon, but it’s not an overpowering flavor either. When you mix it into food or stronger drinks you can’t even taste it.
    We poke a small hole in the capsule and squeeze it into whatever Jeremiah’s eating or drinking at the time (apple juice, pancakes). The one we purchase is the 180 count on the top left of the screen I gave the link to, you can begin with the 90 count to try it out (it’s the one on the top left).
    *I am not a doctor and I’m not prescribing anything.
  2. Removal of casein (milk) proteins
    We had Applied Kinesiology and a detox (sounds odd, but I swear by it) done on Jeremiah and the doctor found he’s allergic to dairy. The night of the detox Jeremiah was crabby, but the following day we saw him do things he’d NEVER done, like wave bye and say, “ai” (bye) to his teachers. That day in class they noticed a marked difference in him. That month he started responding to his name for the first time.
    Since then he’s been able to eat eggs, but no cheese, and didn’t like milk anyways. We add a high quality Calcium Lactate powder to his gluten-free pancakes to give him the calcium he’s missing out on.
    When Jeremiah eats cheese it’s obvious and it’s not good. His hands break out red and extremely itchy, and more impactful than that is how it affects his brain. When he eats cheese, he is unable to follow directions that he knows and follows every day. Normally when we tell Jeremiah to sit down, he does, but if he’s eaten cheese he ignores or isn’t able to process directions given. He’s much more hyper and unsettled too.
  3. Partial removal of gluten and switching to organic foods.
    We haven’t been able to go completely gluten-free because of what a picky eater Jeremiah is. We do as much as we can and continue to move toward that goal of gluten-free.
    We also try to purchase almost all organic foods. I’ve read so much about pesticides, antibiotics in our meat and produce, growth hormones, and more and do not want my family ingesting it, Autistic or not.
    If you are interested in learning more about how pesticides, antibiotics, and GMO’s that are in our food affect us, www.mercola.com is a great website.

 

Beginning a new way of eating can be overwhelming, especially when your life is already full taking care of a child who has Autism. Your child may be a picky eater (for good reason), and you think a diet change is virtually impossible. I encourage you to at least look into it.

Some people stand firmly in their opinion that you have to remove all gluten and casein all at once if you’re going to do this diet change, but I disagree. For some, it sounds like a daunting task to jump in and make such changes, for some families this is a lifestyle adjustment, so I think it can be accomplished one. step. at. a. time.

On Katherine’s website, Unblind My Mind, she doesn’t just tell you what you shouldn’t eat, but gives many options of what TO eat. She gives recipes and brands of foods that taste good (because if you’ve tried this before, you know that not all gluten-free, dairy-free foods are created equal).

*All of the changes (including detox, which was a big one) we’ve made with Jeremiah make a difference.

*Please note the word “manage” is used by Katherine. I, in no way want to cure my son’s Autism or make it go away. It seems odd to say this, I don’t want it completely managed either. I love who Jeremiah is and his personality which is largely formed by his Autism. I feel that if I were to take away his Autism he would be an entirely different person, and that’s not what I want. However, I do want to help him alleviate some effects of Autism that make his life difficult e.g., self-injurious behaviors, sensory sensitivities when they become overwhelming, I would love for him to be able to focus better, calm, listen better, and communicate (I’ll take any type of communication).

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2 responses to “we are what we eat: food and its effects on Autism

  1. You really make it seem so easy with your presentation but I find
    this matter to be actually something that I think I
    would never understand. It seems too complex and extremely broad for me.

    I am looking forward for your next post, I’ll try to get the hang of it!

    • If you want to make diet changes with your child or yourself, just take one step at a time. That’s the important key. It’s very overwhelming when considering the whole picture, but doing one food at a time makes it much simpler.
      Since writing this post, my son, who has Autism, broadened his food intake to oranges, almonds, eggs, and kept the gold-fish crackers in there despite his mother’s aversion to them. During the time he was eating those foods we saw a drastic improvement in several areas of his development. He is not longer eating the oranges, almonds are once in a while, and eggs are off and on, he is still doing well, but not as good as when he was eating all of those healthier (non gluten) foods.
      It can be extremely difficult and sometimes impossible to get an Autistic child to eat a variety of foods.

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