All of us have heard the phrase ‘you are what you eat’ at some point in our lives. Mostly, this has been an admonition against eating loads of junk-food, but there is a little bit of credence to the phrase itself on some level.
And of course, as most parents are aware of, kids are a bit less self-regulating on this account.
I’m not going to lie and say that I didn’t look at what the Monster was eating when the diagnosis came down that he was on the spectrum. We’d been through a few of the precursor discussions at various points about things that were seen as ’causes’ of autism. For example, when we were picking a pediatrician before the Monster was born, the doctor spoke to us sternly (but briefly) about being ‘crazy anti-vaccination parents’ (in her defense – my phrase, not hers), which neither of us was inclined to be anyway. As we were well aware when we were expecting, there’s no credible research that links vaccination to autism.
And then we ended up with a child on the spectrum. This hasn’t changed our opinion – the baby’s also still getting his vaccinations.
But with a diagnosis, you somewhat have to re-evaluate what you’re doing and look at the various treatments that are available, even if you’re looking at what might be considered cutting-edge research. Being internet-savvy, one of the first things we ran into that was touted as a ‘treatment’ was GFCF – Gluten-free, Casein-free diets.
For those of you who have not met the Monster in person, the child is a carb inhalation machine. He doesn’t eat a very diverse diet, but what he does eat, he eats in quantity. No one’s going to accuse him of being underfed. I would, though, also be the first to admit that a great deal of what he’s sucking down has gluten or casein in it. He eats breads, pastries, cookies and cheese in decent enough quantities that changing to another diet would be upsetting what he eats.
So of course, I started looking. As I’ve referred to previously, I was trained as a scientist, so the first thing that I did was do some research on the matter.
The biggest problem is that there’s just not a lot of research into GFCF diets. The research that does exist doesn’t show it to have any positive effect save for when the children have other GI issues. While there are a lot of parental surveys that show that parents have felt it helps, there’s nothing proven from the medical community that verifies these claims… and I’m not going to subject the Monster to a change in his diet without medical proof that it works.
Now, if I could at least get him to eat his hot dogs on the bun rather than the dog then the bun, it would be an improvement….
Some links to back it up:
- A story from ABC News in 2010
- The same 2010 research report, from the University of Rochester
Well, you could always try a couple of substitutions, and see how he likes things. A lot of Pamela’s Products gluten free items are really good, including the bread mix, the amazingly delicious brownie mix (which can also be made into cookies), and some pre-made gluten free cookies, like these: http://www.wegmans.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/ProductDisplay?langId=-1&storeId=10052&catalogId=10002&productId=387405
Nothing wrong with a little less gluten. I also know a couple friends of mine overseas who have two children on the spectrum (1 boy and 1 girl) have often found that various food colorings can have an effect on their kids’ behaviors, more so than other children.
I’m not going to argue that it’s not true that there’s nothing wrong with trying to switch things up. I just don’t see a need to jump off the deep end into wholesale changes in his diet – which are bound to start fights – without having something scientific to back it up. 🙂