As school is right around the corner, we're trying to figure out what to send with my son for school lunches.
I'm going to send him with cooked chicken in salads, or hamburgers on bread made with almond butter. I make homemade ketchup and I have found mustards that don't have added sugars or mystery spice blends. If he were at a school where almond butter was not allowed, I would send his sandwich with a bread I can make with eggs. It holds together well. He also liked hard boiled eggs.
Now, this is not your typical gluten free, casein free fare (although most of his meals would fall under this guideline). My son has autism, and he is on the Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SCD), 100 percent of the time. What that means is that he eats no grains, no potatoes, no soy, no cow dairy (as per the autistic recommendations on the Pecanbread site), and no corn.
It's easier to talk in terms of what he CAN eat, which is most meats (with no broths/flavorings), eggs, goat cheddar, almond butter, and small amounts of honey and fruit juices (usually diluted and made into gelatin).
I wanted to take this opportunity to talk a little bit about GFCF diets, and why they don't create huge, wonderful results for some autistic kids.
We went on the GFCF diet first with Clark, before SCD. I had a leg up in this area; I had already been avoiding gluten for about a year before Clark was diagnosed. So I already knew about the link.
Many, many parents have found that going off gluten and casein (the protein found in dairy) has helped their autistic kids.
But for many of those kids, after going GFCF, they've traded one addiction for another.
Picky eating habits are often demonstrated by autistic kids to an extreme. They simply will not eat more than a few foods. Almost universally those foods are high in simple starches, sugars, wheat, and/or dairy.
It is not uncommon to find an autistic child who eats nothing but potato chips, for example.
When parents realize that their child's eating habits resemble that of a drug addict (the drug being food), many times they switch over to a gluten free, casein free diet. There is usually some improvement.
But then, as time goes on, the child just replaces the old addictive foods with new ones -- and their diet is still starch plus sugar. Gluten free diets are often very high in refined starches.
Now, my son has never been as picky as some other autistic kids. I've never been a picky eater either. However, I can't deny that eating my son's gluten free bread made me extremely irritable. I personally did not see that many changes in my son when he went GFCF either. It took a test -- a plate of wheat pasta -- to see what a huge change had actually occurred. The week following that plate of pasta was one of the saddest of our lives, because "new" Clark was gone, and "old" Clark was back in business.
But still, I did not see the huge improvements that other parents had seen. Yes, my son was better -- but was there something I was missing?
I started researching diets, and I came across the SCD. This was where I found my answers.
Most gluten free breads are filled with easily digestible starches. They hit your bloodstream much like pure sugar.
In autistic kids, the parent may misinterpret this to mean the GFCF diet will not work for their child when in fact their child likely needs MORE than just a restriction in gluten and casein to see real results.
To break this cycle, my son and I went on the SCD. It is very much in line with Paleo diets. Humans did not evolve to eat grains, nor did they evolve to eat corn and starchy potatoes morning, noon, and night.
The difference in my son was remarkable once we eliminated all of those simple sugars and starches. Many other autistic children have had similar success, especially with correcting bowel problems which plague many autistic children. As the SCD was originally only used to treat colitis and Crohn's, this makes a lot of sense.
But the best part is that suddenly, in many cases, these children who would NEVER even think about trying a food outside of their sugar and starch-soaked world -- they start to try new foods!
And they start to like them.
If you would like more information on the Specific Carbohydrate Diet, I have some links in my sidebar to the Pecanbread site and Yahoo! group.
It has been used to treat autism as well as IBD, colitis, Crohn's, and rheumatoid arthritis in my case. Paleo-style diets have a high rate of success in treating a number of conditions. Many people suffer from undiagnosed food intolerances, and since Paleo diets eliminate many of the top food allergens, they help restore balance to the body.
If you have digestive healing to do, you may need to go through "the stages" and I urge you to check out Pecanbread.com for advice.
So take a moment to REALLY think about food, if you're gluten free, or GFCF. Just because it's labeled "gluten free" does not mean it's healthy. Whole, real foods are the way to go.