I have learned a lot of lessons from raising kids with food sensitivities and I try to post these lessons on my blog. This week, it’s a little 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.
Eating Well: Changing Your Food Habits
Some years back, we started on the “autism diet” journey. I hate calling it that because I only have one child on the autism spectrum and yet we nearly all eat like this. To start, it’s simple: first, remove caseins (proteins from cow milk). That pretty much means any and all dairy products except ghee.
Next, eliminate glutens, then soy, then anything else you think affects your kids. We just thought it would be easier to put both children on the diet, even though Amelia does not have autism.
We followed that process. 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 all gluten, and it’s taken years to refine that process. We experimented with different things like low phenols or the GAPS Diet. We removed toxic cookware & containers. We switched to ONLY organic and/or grass-fed meat. We dropped MSG, GMOs, corn, soy, dyes, preservatives, most sugar, we nearly eliminated rice.
It turns out that autism is related to gut health. In fact, research backs up the idea that poor gut health may be a contributing factor to developing autism.
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 and olive for 90% of my cooking. I baked a ton, and then less, and then more again, experimenting with everything from gluten-free flour to coconut flour.
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 fluoridated 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!