Saturday, January 1, 2011

Autumn's Diet

One of the first things I needed to figure out when Autumn came to live with us was what was causing all of her rashes.  Because her face would sometimes break out while she was eating, it was obvious that certain foods were bothering her.  I came to the conclusion that corn seemed to be one of the culprits.  I started removing anything that included corn as an ingredient, and things started to improve.  The problem is that SO many foods contain corn, and it does not have to be clearly labeled.  Actually, most preservatives are derived from corn.  Every time something would break her out, I would call the company, and sure enough, it would contain corn.  I even had a problem when she swapped from whole milk to reduced fat milk.  At first, I could not figure out what had happened.  Every morning after breakfast, she would start coughing terribly.  When I called the company that made the milk she was drinking, sure enough – it contained corn.  I found out that when they reduce the fat in the milk, they have to add back several things.  One of these things is the Vitamin A Palmitate.  They said that this Vitamin A is very unstable, and corn is added to stabilize it.  Who would have known?  Even the citric and/or ascorbic acid they add to preserve packaged fruits gives her a rash.  The preservatives/anti-caking agents in regular table salt also bother her.

For those who want more info on avoiding corn:
·         Things to Avoid
o   List 2
·         Forum for people who are avoiding corn

Besides food, other environmental factors contribute to her skin problems.  I often bought her diapers and/or pull-ups from the health food store because all of the dyes in the “regular” ones were irritating her skin – especially when she moved to the pull-ups that these days all have a fading design on the front.  (For those of you who have not been lucky enough to experience potty training J, nearly all pull-ups have a design on the front that fades away when the kid pees on them.  It’s supposed to help motivate them to stay dry.)  When she got wet, the dyes would fade into the pull-up and onto her skin.  Soaps, conditioners, lotions, etc. can all be a problem as well.

While blood work and skin testing never found any true food allergies, a test her GI doctor ran in the spring of 2007 indicated a problem with gluten.  (An endoscopy did not show any signs of small intestine damage, so it did not appear to be Celiac Disease.)  The doctor said to try removing gluten for a while and see what happened.  All I can say is WOW!!!  There is great controversy out there about whether or not food intolerances, etc. can make that big of a difference in children’s overall health and behavior.  Let me tell you from first-hand experience – it can.

I mentioned several posts back about the sensory processing issues Autumn was having.  It was always bad, but some days it was REALLY bad.  She had strong aversions to touch and noise.  Just dressing her, bathing her, and combing her hair were extremely difficult, as she screamed and fought the entire time.  These problems did not go away completely, but they were much more bearable.  Even when we weren’t touching her, she cried and was upset most of the day, and this also improved with the gluten-free diet.  Another benefit was that some of the rashes that I just couldn’t get rid of finally disappeared (especially a rash she had on her little butt cheek that wouldn’t go away, but has not returned since).  I wish all of you could have seen her before and after.

For more info on gluten-free eating:
·         Info on Celiac Disease and gluten-free eating
·         Gluten Intolerance Group – 253-833-6655.  I’ve called this number before, and they could tell me whether or not a product contained gluten.
·         Gluten-Free InfoWeb
·         Gluten-free Drugs
·         The Pratt Family…Resources

I haven’t gotten to Silas yet, but between the two of them, I’ve done so much research on food intolerances and various diets.  Between my research on food and medical issues, I must be on a list somewhere as one of the top Google searchers in the country.  J  I’m hoping this blog can be a resource for others who are looking for answers.

Early on several of Autumn’s therapists mentioned that kids with sensory problems who have problems with gluten often have problems with milk as well.  When removing gluten, I had seen improvements within just a few days.  I tried removing milk for a few days but did not see any difference.  However, the more I read, I realized I needed to give it another try because it can sometimes take a full month to know for sure.  Also, kids tend to overly crave the foods that are bothering them the most, and Autumn had become absolutely obsessed with milk.  In October of 2008, I decided to give it one last try – for a full month this time.

At the end of one week, it was obvious – no more milk.  Before the trial, she had gotten to the point that she could hardly play with Silas again.  Everything was so out of proportion in her mind.  I know you’ll think I’m exaggerating, but I’m not.  All he had to do was just look at her, and she thought he was attacking her.  One day they were playing about 20 yards from each other in the yard.  Silas picked up a stick and was playing with it.  He did not come towards Autumn or ever look at her.  She ran to me screaming and terrified that he was going to hit her with it.  After she’d been off milk for a week, she could suddenly play happily again for the first time in MONTHS.  Besides this, several other things took place.  Autumn’s stomach hurt all the time, she had terrible problems with constipation, and she would randomly throw up.  This improved as well.  Although she can still have problems with being constipated, it is so much better, and she doesn’t throw up now unless she actually has a stomach virus.  Also, she used to have terrible problems with nose bleeds.  That suddenly went away as well.

So, Autumn is corn-free, gluten-free, and milk-free.  It’s not an easy task, but it is SO worth it.  I will end with a list of some of the foods Autumn DOES eat in case there’s anyone else trying to avoid gluten, milk, and corn out there.

·         Millet Special Yeast Free Bread from DeLand Bakery – The company is based in Florida, and I order it online.  It’s very rare to find a health food store that sells it.  I believe you have to buy in bulk – maybe 20-25 at a time.  I always order 32 at a time because that gives me the best price on shipping.  (Exactly 32 fit in a large box.  I use UPS Ground, and it usually gets from FL to AL in about a week.  I put the box in my mom’s large freezer, and get it from her as we need it.  Both my kids eat it, and the large box of 32 lasts us 1-2 months.)  DeLand has many other products you may want to look into.  We have also tried the plain bagels and the hamburger buns.  Because wheat-containing products are also produced in their facility, their labels have a warning that the products can contain gluten.  However, Autumn had never had any problems.
·         Namaste Foods Products – I have tried the bread mix but liked DeLand’s a lot more.  I avoid the pasta mixes as I’ve had problems with them giving Autumn rashes (probably contain corn).  Here are some of our favorites:
o   Waffle & Pancake Mix
o   Muffin Mix – Regular and No Sugar Added
o   Vanilla Cake Mix – There’s a chocolate too, but we didn’t like the taste.
o   Cookie Mix
o   Brownie Mix
o   Perfect Flour Blend
·         Arrowhead Mills Puffed Rice Cereal
·         Lundberg Brown Rice Organic Rice Cakes, Salt Free
·         Minute Brand White Rice (it’s instant J)
·         Kettle Brand Potato Chips, Unsalted
·         Nana’s Cookie Bars – Berry Vanilla, Nana Banana, Chocolate Munch, there’s also a new fudge bar.  I know these say “no corn.”  I need to check on some of their other items.  I buy several boxes of these and send them to school.  Since they’re individually wrapped, they can sit there a while.  This gives Autumn something special to eat at parties, etc.
·         Besides the things listed above, Autumn can eat a lot of “natural” foods:  fresh fruit, fresh vegetables (some of the frozen are okay too), fresh meats, nuts, seeds, etc.
·         I also had difficulty finding a multivitamin she could take.  We are using Flintstones Complete, and it’s working well so far.  I used Poly-Vi-Sol for a while when she was younger; it’s a liquid.  I need to find a calcium supplement soon.
·         Autumn also takes ThreeLac, a probiotic.  I have found the best price through Amazon, as you can have it shipped for free.

If anyone reading this page knows of any other products or resources, I hope you will post them in the comments.

“If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who give generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.”  James 1:5


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