Thursday, May 15, 2008

Our Vegetarian Gluten Free Dairy Free Diet

It doesn't get much more restrictive than that...

About 8 weeks ago Rich was diagnosed with Celiac disease. It runs in his family and is a complete intolerance to wheat gluten. So after a hard goodbye to Olive Garden we have embarked as a family to eradicate wheat from our diets. We also figured that as long as we had to make such major changes, that we would also cut dairy from Lily's diet. We have been coming across lots of information that for kids on the Autism spectrum that they are very sensitive to the combination of the protein in wheat, gluten, and the protein in dairy, casein. It has been a challenge and we are learning as we go, but for the last month we have been completely gluten free and Lily has been dairy free. I already know we are doing the right thing and I am amazed at the positive changes we have seen for Lily and Rich. In Lily's case we have seen major changes in her behavior and mood. She is a much happier little girl. I spoke with her teacher last week and she told me that she has also seen allot of improvement in the classroom. This is such an answer to prayer for us and is so encouraging. We really need to stick with this and be a strict as possible about it. But this is also a hard time for us. Rich and Lily are really mourning the loss of so many things that they enjoyed eating. We have been trying to explain to Lily why we are making these changes and she has been pretty understanding. She asks me, "Mom does that have wheat in it?", but the other day she began to realize what no 'wheat' means. She cried when we told her that meant pizza and veggie burgers. She has been a trooper, but it is really hard and that's why I don't want her to have to be around the things that she misses and will be tempted by. Interestingly one of the most beneficial changes we have been seeing is that both Lily and Rich have felt so much relief from their anxiety. Lily is much more relaxed and can more easily deal with upsets that used to send us into a tailspin.

Everywhere I go now we meet people who for various reasons need to follow a GF diet. I thought I would use this blog to share resources that we come across for doing this. It is so frustrating to need to eat a diet that is so counter to everything that is "normal" and easily available in our culture. We have found that eating out is almost impossible with the kids along (with the exception of Noodles, which serves a few rice noodle dishes and Qdoba. They both have good allergy information available too.) and we certainly can't just go in the grocery store and quickly grab some food. I think the most difficult thing right now is eating with other people and social gatherings where food is involved. This is very important to us though, so I know that we need to find creative solutions.

So if your out there reading this and you are GF let me know. What have you learned? Let's share resources!


King Amani Nesta said...

Your blog is weblicious. Really it's cool. You are very multi-talented. I like the photos.

Mama K said...

I don't HAVE to eliminate wheat entirely, but I prefer to. I feel better and end up not having all those junky processed foods that come with it. I find it helps to focus on vegetables (and fruits), eating as many different kinds as possible. "Eat the rainbow", sort of idea. Lots of colors and variety. Then if I do have any grain in a day, it is intentional, and I can choose the healthiest grain I can find. Whole grain is good, but I just try to focus on the other stuff and then the grains take a distant second place instead of being the main thing. As for dairy, I use soy milk. I don't eat cheese most of the time (though there is soy cheese for once in a rare while). I do have a weakness for sour cream, but not every day. You can do this. I'm glad you are seeing the good results already! That's cool. Makes it worth it, doesn't it? Oh, and I don't focus on what I go without, I think about the good stuff I get. I hope to hit the farmer's market tomorrow and get some good, local, fresh veggies! Love it! Then I go home and cook. I am learning to have fun with that.
Yeah, I have cheat days. But at least now I know what I am doing.

The VanderBears said...

Jen - What a great idea! I haven't done a blog with anyone else, so you will be my first. So glad to hear the dairy free diet is having a positive effect on Lily. She is such a smart little girl. Her memory still amazes me! When I worked in the group homes, we had a few residents with sensory integration challenges (in addition to other DX), and they had us use a soft brush to brush their hair, shoulders, backs and arms for 20min in AM and PM. It was supposed to help with that as well as using a weighted blanket on their beds. We also had one resident who really benefited from going snowshoe-ing in the winter...but I'm sure you have your own strategies for now. Just some additional ideas. Good luck in the garden! Jenn VVeen