This is my standard welcome-to-our-GFCF-world introduction. I hope it helps you. It took me hundreds of hours to figure all of this out. Good luck to you and your family, we are all in the same boat!
The bad news:
This diet, for the first month or two, will make you crazy. This will pass however, and it will become second nature in your life. Everywhere you will travel with your child in tow, you will have a small cooler with all of the foods you need. (We even call ahead to restaurants and present the pre-prepared food to the restaurant manager to heat up and serve with our meals! Even attending family functions is a breeze. This all includes careful instructions to wash hands and to not mix with any other restaurant foods.)
The good news:
It will make your child healthier than ever before and will not hurt your child. You cannot lose!
What is GFCFSF?
Gluten is more than just wheat – it’s grains like wheat, barley, oats and rye. Casein is the protein found in all things dairy – more specifically, anything juiced from a mammal – including cow’s milk, sheep, goat and human breast milk. Soy needs to be removed too. Labels that say “wheat-free” do not necessarily mean gluten-free and certainly not GFCF. Dairy-free isn’t casein-free. Lactose is milk sugar. Lactose-free isn’t casein-free either. Organic doesn’t mean GFCF. Organic milk still comes from a cow and organic wheat is still wheat. Reading labels and understanding the difference is crucial. Gluten-free also includes things that do not have gluten in them but are either grown near them or processed in a facility with them, contaminating them, such as millet and oats.
Here are some steps to help organize your life around the very complex and worthwhile hurdle of the GFCF diet.
1. Keep in mind: the GFCF diet helps 91% of the children out there in improving everything about their learning disabilities and overall well-being. This includes better speech, better bowel movements than before, better sleep patterns, less cranky behaviors, less stimmy behaviors (stimmy is short for “self-stimulation” and is a term used to describe self-stimulating behaviors such as rocking, spinning, hand-flapping, etc.), less foggy/dazed looks, and more ready to learn than ever before. (Wow, how nice all these items are!)
2. Read these four books in the order presented: (Study them! There will be a quiz later!)
- Unraveling the Mystery of Autism, by Karyn Seroussi (great story with good recipes)
- Changing the Course of Autism: A Scientific Approach for Parents and Physicians, by Bryan Jepson, Katie Wright, and Jane Johnson
- Special Diets for Special Kids, by Lisa Lewis (great recipes; some recipes use soy, so be mindful of your child’s allergies)
- Special Foods for Special Kids, by Todd Edelson (great recipes)
3. Get your child’s allergies tested with a blood test called the IgG and IgE (IgG and IgE are two different types of antibodies, also called immunoglobulins, that react and protect again foreign substances like pollen or bacteria in the body). You need to find a pediatrician that will perform the tests or an allergist to perform both of these tests. Both tests are NECESSARY.
4. Try the peptides test from the Great Plains Laboratory. This test can help tell you what are some of your child’s health problems. For example, these problems may include high yeast growth, intolerance to GFCF foods, insufficient calcium or zinc, and/or other vitamin/mineral deficiencies. This can help you plan what supplements your child may need and what is internally going on with your child. Another testing lab is Genova Diagnostics, (previously known as Great Smokies Diagnostic Laboratory; same company, different name). Both labs do great jobs and can be very helpful.
5. When you remove casein from your child’s diet, it also removes one very important mineral: CALCIUM. However, the good news is that supplemental calcium is widely available in many forms such as a powder, a pill, a chewable, or as a liquid. Get the supplements you require to “balance” your child’s GFCF diet. My family supplements our son with daily doses of: Cod Liver Oil, Magnesium, Calcium, Zinc, TMG or SuperNuThera (the best new and improved formulas have no dyes or added flavors), and ProBioGold, a type of probiotic supplement (also known as acidophilous, a term describing probiotic supplements that have helpful bacteria that aid digestion in the body). All of these supplements are available from Kirkman Labs. The Kirkman folks are patient, will try to answer all your questions, and are a GOD SEND.
Special note: Ask for their catalog. Their catalog contains information about all of their products and what each product is meant to do, and is a great resource to browse.
6. Live the diet. Ninety-five percent of families see results in two to three months. Unfortunately, some folks may have to wait a year. Remember that each child is unique. Typically, the first month is the hardest due to the child rebelling against the new foods. Some kids like my son Jeff, may not eat at first, in rebellion, but will eventually change their ways to include healthier eating and better symptoms. Do not give up on the diet! When you are frustrated, call or email us at TACA and we will talk you away from the ledge!
I know this sounds like a lot. Do not go crazy! Take one day, one week, and then, one month at a time. How my family got started was just starting the diet, period! We tried each change to the diet one at a time, slowly. Typically, we would try one new diet change each week.
- Keep a food-and-behaviors journal. Track all intake and yes, also outtakes. (Did he/she have good “poops” today or were they runny and icky?)
- Do not introduce too many changes all at once! Go slowly! Add/change one item per week. It is also easier to track down the source of a diet-caused problem when they are introduced slowly, one at a time.
- Read all food labels. When in doubt, make it yourself. Any questionable ingredients are probably not good for your child, so err on the side of caution .
- Watch for face and bottom rashes. These are definite signs telling you, “this new food change is not working.”
- Read the GFCF foodlist
Again… take the process slowly. Know you are in the same boat with HUNDREDS of other families working through the same process and that it will ALL come together.
TAKE ONE DAY AT A TIME AND YOU CAN ACHIEVE ANYTHING!