Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free, But Never Guilt-Free

It's been about 4 1/2 months since starting Theo on a gluten-free dairy-free diet, also removing soy, corn syrup, preservatives and most other junk from his diet.

Sharon and school have complied, and most importantly, Theo has been great about it. He learned to ask if a food was gluten or dairy free before he ate it. I learned to cook and bake this way and he had no problems eating this way. I learned all about rice flours, bean flours, quinoa flours...butter and milk many ways I became a more healthful cook.

The diet has been known to have a huge impact on autistic kids, particularly ones with a leaky gut (a nice way of saying chronic diarreah). Luckily, Theo never had that issue. We did it to improve his behavior, speech, and focus.

Theo's vocabulary continued to increase, but his stimming didn't decrease. (Stimming is a word in the autism world for erratic, involuntary behaviors like spinning or random gibberish or yelling, etc). I can't attribute the improved speech and vocab to the diet, because he was improving before we started, and any infractions he's had (accidental consumption of wheat or dairy) have had no impact on his speech.

After months of spending a ton of money at health food stores, being unable to eat out or order in, and having to bring food Theo could eat wherever we went, we've decided it's not worth a diet that isn't working. Theo snuck cheese the other day and there was no change. I started giving him dairy again and he's the same kid. I'll wait a bit longer before reintroducing gluten, since I've read that gluten can take 6 months to leave the body and the gut can start healing. But frankly, most accounts of moms who have seen results have seen the results in a matter of days, and with children much younger than Theo.

There lies my guilt. I don't know if this diet would have worked if I started it when he was 2. That's something I'll have to live with. And maybe I didn't do the diet to the best of my ability. I still allowed gluten in the home, which could have contaminated his foods. I'm not the mama warrior some moms are. There, I said it.

This diet won't have been for nothing. Like I said, I've learned a healthier way of cooking for my family. I know how to cook for friends with celiac and am more aware of food allergies now when cooking for other kids. I've baked with Theo more than I ever have, since it was much cheaper to bake the stuff myself than pay $7 for a box of 12 cookies. I will continue to cook with awesome grains like quinoa and hide vegetables in sauces and pancake batters. But soon enough, we'll have our life back, and Theo won't be deprived of fitting in and eating the pizza and cupcakes his friends are eating, that Melody's eating.

When Theo is old enough, maybe he'll decide to try the diet again, when he can evaluate whether it's making a difference in his body in a way that I can't. As for me, I'll ease my guilt a little hopefully the Christmas lasagna puts a smile on that handsome face.

There's still other stuff to try--zinc and other vitamin supplements, yeast testing, other DAN doctor protocol (DAN doctor means Defeat Autism Now doctor and costs about $1,000 for a visit) and there's eep--medications--which is still unexplored territory for us. But in the end, it's going to come down to a great support system of family, therapists and friends in Theo's life. And if you're reading this--that's you!

1 comment:

sharon said...

=) love you guys