Every Tuesday, I try to write something I learn or take away from raising kids with disabilities. This week, it’s a little more closer to home, in that I’m thinking about how raising my children has directly changed my life.
In fact, it’s directly changed every single item that lines my pantry and fridge.
About 2 years ago, we started on this so-called “autism diet” journey. I hate calling it that, because I only have one child with autism and yet we nearly all eat like this. To start, it’s simple: first remove caseins, which pretty much means any and all dairy products, then glutens, then soy, then anything else you think affect your kids. We just thought it would be easier to put both children on the diet, even though Amelia does not have autism.
We did that, and within a week or two, Zoe, who at age 5 had not slept through a solid night since birth, was peacefully sleeping 8 or more hours in a row. And bonus: my OTHER daughter’s focus, attention, and academic success improved. I know this because about 3 or so weeks later, I started getting comments like, “Wow! Amelia’s doing better than ever on (INSERT SKILL HERE)” from her teachers, without any prompting or questions from me.
Eventually we removed gluten, and it’s taken years to refine that removal. We experimented with different things like low phenols or Failsafe Diet. We removed toxic cookware & containers. We switched to ONLY organic meat. We dropped MSG, GMOs, corn, soy, dyes, preservatives, sugar, we nearly eliminated rice. We changed brands and eventually dropped just about everything that comes in a package except bread and the occasion bags of chips or cookies. I switched to coconut oil for 90% of my cooking, sunflower oil for most else, and occasionally use olive oil. I baked a ton, and then less, and then more again, experimenting with everything from gluten-free flour to coconut flour. We permanently switched from peanut butter to SunButter.
AND we did almost all of this for the kids exclusively, focusing on making the “autism diet” part of our life.
But a funny thing happened on the way to the kitchen, lol…
I can’t eat things that I used to anymore. It’s not just that soda tastes weird now, it actually tastes like poison. Chinese food? Ugh. My husband brought me home a burger against my wishes last week from a fast food change that features a clown, it tasted and felt like LEAD. My water is now flouridated and tastes horrible. I can tell when the meat’s not organic and grass fed, and it sucks. Deep frying gives me the willies – this from the girl who adores fried mushrooms in horseradish. It would probably make me sick now.
Last week, I tried a slice of deli cheese. I ALMOST BARFED. I was shocked that I can’t even eat that anymore.
Far from upsetting me, though, I feel like I’ve finally reached a “good place to be.” At the ripe old age of 47, I’ve discovered healthy eating, thanks to the autism diet. I don’t always buy organic produce, but I take what I do know and avoid the worst of the worst while still getting my fruits and veggies in daily, if possible. I’ve officially divorced pizza, and yes, it was exactly like a bad break up. I actually feel bad if I haven’t done my fruits and veggies, and drinking water is something I’m trying to increase.
So a great big thank to you my children, for your food sensitivities have made me a champion of healthy, clean food, and that has slimmed me, made me feel better, boosted my energy, regulated my body, and sharpened my brain. Not only THAT, but I’m far more schooled in what’s healthy, how my body works and processes things, and which nutrients and food choices trump others.
And best of all, know what I learned? That food that is GOOD for you really tastes good. The closer to nature you can get it, the better it feels, the more savory it is, the nicer it cooks. Yes, it’s more difficult to find and getting these foods at a good price is a challenge – but a worthy one that made me feel good when I realized that cooking more cuts your budget by quite a lot! I wouldn’t go back for the world, and I honestly believe that eating like this will reduce my chances of getting a nasty disease or aging ungraciously.
Thanks, girls, you’ve made me smarter!
Image courtesy of Grant Cochrane / FreeDigitalPhotos.net