I wonder what you thought of when you read this title? I’m sure it means many things to many people, maybe dependent on how close a relationship you have to a person with autism. Anymore, we all know someone. Current CDC numbers are that 1 in 88 children were diagnosed with autism in 2008. I’m sure it’s more than that now. For us, it is our son. You can read a short “ode to autism” I wrote a couple years back here. I just reread that myself, and sadly have to say that I would not be able to add much to that in terms of development. He has progressed, but not in huge and noteworthy ways. And so here I am, standing in the gaps of Autism. In the space of what can be, but is not yet. In a place of hope and waiting and praying and trying and loving. Sometimes exhausted loving, but loving nonetheless! We want so much for him, and we have some wonderful therapy in place for him now. I am so happy with that piece of the puzzle. But we finally are back to the issue of diet and how that plays a part in his ability to progress. I recently bought the book “GAPS Gut and Psychology Syndrome” by Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride. It says it’s a “natural treatment for Dyspraxia, Autism, ADD, Dyslexia, ADHD, Depression, and Schizophrenia” and focuses on the use of food to heal the gut. Hippocrates said, “all diseases begin in the gut.” He also said, “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.” This used to be the way we healed, but we’ve moved to looking for drugs to fix everything. So as I was reading her book, I just found myself nodding my head. It all makes sense! How can his brain develop and process higher thought if his gut is so out of whack that he is unable to get any nutrition from the limited diet he eats?! And so the book walks you through how to heal the gut through nutrition. We had tried dietary intervention before by following the gluten free/casein free diet. We cut out wheat and dairy (and the hundreds of products that include them) but just replaced it with rice and sugar. At least that’s what almost every boxed GFCF product has in it, and it didn’t produce the gains in health we were looking for. Dr. Campbell-McBride explains that some children do very well on a GFCF diet, but others do not, because there are many more proteins that aren’t broken down properly than just those 2. The better plan is to cut out many foods, nourish the gut to increase the beneficial bacterial so they can do their job to block out the bad bacteria. Then, the body can break down all the food properly. The GAPS diet is not a forever diet. It is meant to be temporary, though how long does depend on how sick the patient is. It may be several years for our son Seth, but by the end of it he should be able to concentrate and learn so much easier, and also to eat normally. You may be wondering, like my husband, what CAN and CAN’T we eat? We’re avoiding all grains and anything made from them; cutting out starchy vegetables; cutting out sugar, beans, peas, and all lactose containing foods. We can eat all meat, poultry, and fish; eggs; meat broths; all non-starchy vegetables; all fruit and berries; nuts and seeds (if soaked and dehydrated); a few kinds of beans (if soaked and fermented); honey; meat fats, butter, and coconut oil (in fact the more meat fats, the better!). It’s really not too complicated of a diet, but there is a learning curve for me. There is a big component of the diet utilizing fermented foods. This is very new for me! I heard the word fermented and my first thought was “eww!” I’m a very picky eater myself, but the book explains that that may be because I need some healing as well. I am plunging in to this diet, and we’re all following it. There is no processed foods allowed, so I have dropped my bad habit of buying many boxes of cereal each week. This has probably been the hardest thing for me to do. It means actually cooking in the morning, and that’s not what I jump out of bed wanting to do. Maybe I will as I get used to it. The kids have not stopped asking me if I bought cereal, though. We’re all experiencing some learning curves, but I am happy to say that Seth is doing wonderful! He is even eating his broth I make for him! It took a few times, but he finally got on board with it. He’s visibly lost weight (which is wonderful! He was 95 lbs in August at age 9!) He’s progressing on his potty training! Those two things are enough to keep me going at this point, but I’m hopeful that we will see much more improvement in the weeks and months to come. Stay around and I’ll keep you updated on his/our diet, but also the other gaps in our lives. The gaps between where we are and where we want to be. As we grow, we’ll share it with you.
If you have someone close to you who is affected by autism, what kind of diet are they following? How successful has it been?
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