My “Nutrition” Story
I used to know very little about nutrition. I mean, I knew veggies were healthy and sugar was bad, but I didn’t care that much about what I ate or realize how it was affecting my body and brain. I tried to eat healthy when I was pregnant, but I really screwed that up. I ate a lot of apples (“an apple a day” I thought) and drank a lot of milk (so my baby would be strong and healthy). So, I really gave my baby-to-be massive doses of pesticides and hormones – ugh!
It was only as I began my journey to heal my son Christopher’s autism that I started learning about food. Almost all kids on the spectrum have digestive issues, and almost parents trying to heal said digestive issues start out doing the Gluten-Free, Casein-Free diet. We were no exception, and (like almost everyone else) we started out doing it wrong. We tried to do it all at once and instead of replacing unhealthy snacks and cereals with healthier options, we replaced them with gluten-free crap. It wasn’t long until Christopher wouldn’t eat anything except potato chips and rice cakes. I was juicing every single day just to get something healthy into him and a lot of it was going to waste. And we weren’t even really seeing gains from it – his red cheeks and ears went away when we took out dairy, but we never saw the “brain-fog lift” that so many parents report when eliminating gluten. My breaking point came one night after I spent about 6 hours trying to get Christopher to eat a sliver of chicken smaller than my littlest fingernail. We were both exhausted and frustrated, and I knew I needed to try something different.
The GAPS Diet
I started researching the best diets for gut healing, and decided that the GAPS diet would be our best option. I realized that we would need to eliminate all grains and other starchy foods, which are very difficult to digest. I read the book about 3 times before we implemented it, and made sure that I had about a month’s worth of food on hand before we got started. We signed up for a feeding clinic (I’ve heard a lot of feeding clinic horror stories, but I did a lot of research and I loved the one we went to) and implemented the GAPS diet in conjunction with that. Our results were nothing short of amazing. If you would have told me a few years ago that my child who would not eat a bite of a vegetable would be polishing off 6 bags of homemade kale chips and asking for more, I would have thought you were insane. We saw improvements in appetite, digestion, eye contact, learning, and behavior. The GAPS diet was hands-down one of the best interventions we’ve done (and I’ve done A LOT of stuff).
Where are we now?
Christopher has been on the GAPS diet for over 3 years. We didn’t go through the stages exactly as outlined, we didn’t do all of the suggested foods (no fermented fish for us, I couldn’t get him to eat raw egg yolks, and I never mastered whey) and I kept dairy out of his diet. But, everything Christopher did eat was GAPS-legal. After about 3 years, we added in some additional (not GAPS-legal) foods like black bean pasta, pure maple syrup, sweet potatoes – but only every now and then. He remains strictly grain-free and dairy-free (with the occasional exception of raw sheep cheese). He continues to be a really good eater and we are so thankful for the GAPS diet.
So what about the rest of the family?
I went on Christopher’s diet for awhile and was amazed and how good I felt. For the first time EVER I woke up not tired (like at all). My daughter was about 5 months old and I dropped the rest of the baby weight like that (cue snapping fingers) and I fit into pants I hadn’t worn since college. My hair and nails were super-thick and growing faster than ever. I had a ton of energy. When I tried to add gluten and other foods I had been avoiding back into my diet, I felt awful. I was drained and weak, I had dark circles under my eyes, and I felt really stressed and anxious. So, now I am grain-free too, and mostly dairy-free. And our dinners are always foods that all of us can enjoy, so they are free of all the things Christopher can’t eat.
What is our diet anyway?
So, we don’t really conform exactly to a specific diet. We focus on eating whole foods that are organic and grass-fed. We eat meat, though we try to limit red meat and pork, which (because pork is known to contain lots of parasites – ewww!) I always freeze for at least two days and then cook it really well. We avoid grains, most dairy, corn, soy, sugar, and artificial dyes. We are sort of GAPS without dairy, and sort of PALEO with a lot of healthy fats and natural sea salt. we eat fruit and lots of veggies (my husband can make almost any veggie taste amazing with ghee and garlic salt). Additionally, Christopher is specifically allergic to tomatoes and red berries.
So, MOST of the recipes here will be like that:
- Free of grains, dairy, soy, sugar, corn, and artificial colors, flavors, and dyes
- GAPS/PALEO/Primal-legal (or at least adaptable – like subbing pure maple syrup for raw honey and vice versa)
- Free of tomatoes and red berries and anything else that I can’t make for my family, so feel free to throw those in (just keep in mind that a LOT of people are sensitive to the acid in tomatoes and don’t realize it)
- Focused on healthy and nutritious whole foods (so lots of veggies, good fats, quality meats, and organic fruit)
Thank you for sharing our nutrition journey. I hope you enjoy the recipes on HolisticallyWhole.com (see some of our recent dishes below). Wishing you health and happiness.
It can be difficult to find snacks to make for our kiddos who are on special diets. I haven't had the urge to bake in awhile, but Trader Joe's was all out of Christopher's beloved dried mangoes (one of the clerks there told us that our local TJ's sells the most...
Like most kids with autism, my son Christopher had gastrointestinal issues. For years and years we strictly adhered to the GAPS diet (and by we, I mainly mean my poor kiddo), which helps to heal the gut. Today, his diet has changed a little (kind of a dairy-free PALEO...
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