Why beginning your Grain Free Diet works best in the summer…
The summer before my son began Grade 1, we had a setback; he swam in a small lake that was loaded with some nasty bacteria and as a result, he (along with my daughter and husband) ended up with a horrible ear infection. Our only choice was a round of strong antibiotics.
Having a child on the spectrum, we fear the use of antibiotics. We worked SO hard to get his gut healthy; the idea of giving him a round of antibiotics was terrifying. But we did. It didn’t take long, and our worse fears were realized.
Grade 1 was a tough year for him. We had seen SO much success up to this point with biomedical. My son had thrived in school, his language progressed so successfully, his behavior had significantly improved – life was great. Then, by the time he returned to school, he began to regress. His behavior deteriorated – to the point where we were getting notes home from school, weekly phone calls from his teacher and even “pink slips” from the bus driver. He started chewing EVERYTHING – from his clothing to cables and wires. Even physical symptoms occurred; his belly was very distended and he was constantly passing gas.
After several months of this regression (along with many sleepless nights on my part), I took him back to see Dr. Sonya. We discovered that many of my concerns regarding my son’s behavior and physical symptoms were clear signs of yeast issues. She recommended we do an OAT (Organic Acid Test). We did. And, as usual, Dr. Sonya was bang on. His yeast and clostridia levels were exceptionally high. We now had an explanation – next step, how can we fix it??
Dr. Sonya put my son on a strict Grain Free diet for 18 months. STRICT is the key word here. Much like other diet protocols, if you want it to work, YOU CAN’T CHEAT.
I felt overwhelmed. He was already doing Gluten and Dairy free… how can I remove even more foods that he loves? I wasn’t sure where to start or when to start. My husband and I decided that we would all do this diet – and we would start in the summer. This way, we have full control over everything he eats and it is easier to gauge his progress when we are home with him.
And so it began…. Our kitchen was transformed in to a grain free zone. No more gluten free breads. No more gluten free crackers. No more gluten free pancake mixes. We swapped our Gluten free flour mix for coconut and almond flour. Our corn chips became veggie slices. Our popcorn was traded for roasted pepitas.
As expected, there was a bit of a learning curve, but it only took us about a week and we had a great handle on things.
What we discovered was that doing this in the summer had other benefits too:
- Fresh fruits and veggies are not only in season – but also in abundance!
- Farmers markets are everywhere and filled with many food items we were looking for: fresh meats and organic produce
- Summertime bbq recipes are the best
- When kids are off school, there is more time to spend making fun recipes
We had a fantastic summer testing new recipes and monitoring the amazing success we were seeing with my son. It goes without saying that when you see results – the motivation is there to continue. Before long, my son’s behavior had significantly improved. He no longer chewed on things. His belly “deflated” – along with that, the gas was under control too. He even started eating – AND ENJOYING – new foods! He was eating vegetables and meats he would have never even tried before.
The true test came that September. He was beginning Grade 2, and had the same teacher as in Grade 1. Nothing in life could have made me any happier – or more proud – then when I had the first conversation with his teacher, a mere 2 weeks into the school year. Her first question to me: “What have you done to your son??”. She reported a huge improvement in his attention span. His ability to focus and participate was significantly better than it had been the year before. He was less “silly” all the time and far more attentive. His ability to work independently had also improved. Throughout the school year, these amazing reports continued. Even his social skills were so much better than they had been in previous years. We were elated.
I see so much value behind the old adage: “you are what you eat”. We eat a clean diet. We avoid anything processed and anything that contains ingredients we are not able to pronounce. Our diet is predominantly Meat, Vegetables, Fruits, Nuts and Seeds. We have ALL improved on this diet – not just my son.
If dietary changes can significantly improve the quality of life for my son, and our whole family, why wouldn’t we stick to it?? My best advice for families wanting change would be to eat clean. Eat whole foods. Pay attention to what you are feeding your family. And one of the easiest times to start making these changes – is RIGHT NOW. Especially because it is summer time!
Lizanne Rowe, Natural Care Clinic, Family Food Coach