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Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Dietary Concerns

This past week we had some “fun” with behavioral issues. Saturday evening we went to the grocery store, and of course took Aidan with us (normally Jeremy goes after work so that Aidan isn't with us – it cuts down on cost some and allows us to more closely examine labels because there isn't a 7 year old needing our immediate attention). He wanted some cheese puffs so without really considering whether they might adversely affect his behavior, we said sure, it would be a nice treat since he really was acting great at the store and had been great at dinner. The next couple of days were a wonderful mess of aggression, hyperactivity, attitude, and inattention. We removed the cheese puffs from the equation and last night and today Aidan has been great. We've seen this kind of thing happen before. In Rockford, on our trip to visit family, Aidan had ice cream twice in one day. It could have been the sugar, but much more likely was the milk since he has sugar in other things without adverse affects. Aidan was impossible for the next 24 hours. At school last year we didn't realize they were letting him have strawberry milk at lunch and for two weeks he was having major behavioral issues at school. Ms. Annie found out and we removed the milk and again, withing approximately 24 hours, his behavior was much more normal for Aidan. Similar situations have happened with both milk as well as artificial sweeteners. How many other issues that we didn't attribute to anything in particular have been caused by similar sources or by artificial colors or flavors or who knows what else?

Milk also causes tummy issues for Aidan – a couple of years ago we took him to the ER for what we thought was appendicitis and turned out to be an impacted bowel. We soon switched him to soy milk and started giving him Activia yogurt (I know, it's dairy and I think we'll look for a pro-biotic soy yogurt) to help with the tummy. I don't know if the milk directly causes the behavioral issues, or if it's actually the discomfort it causes in his tummy that maybe he can't communicate to us, but it seems like a pretty easy solution to remove it.

Should we try just a casein, artificial free diet? Should we do gluten free too? What does the research say? What other diet options are there – Feingold, Paleo?

We know dairy affects Aidan's tummy and his behavior – that's number one to remove. That means all casein/lactose products.

Casein has a wide variety of uses, from being a major component of cheese, to use as a food additive, to a binder for safety matches, paint, glue, plastics and fiber, medical and dental. (wikipedia)

Bad Ingredients:
  • milk solids ("curds")
  • whey
  • casein (sodium caseinate, most commonly)
  • lactose (sodium lactylate, frequently)
  • lactalbumin and other names that begin with lact
  • galactose (a lactose by-product) Most people with milk allergies will have no trouble with galactose, but you should be aware that it may cause problems in some people.
  • protein (often "high protein" or "protein enriched" version of another ingredient, such as wheat) The added protein in foods (particularly "high energy" foods) is often milk protein.
  • caramel coloring. Many kinds of caramel coloring use lactose, a milk sugar, to help get that rich color. When in doubt, do without.
  • Recaldent. This ingredient, found in some Trident brand chewing gums, is milk-derived.
  • Fruit flavored Tums contain undisclosed dairy. The original, white Tums are fine.
  • "natural ingredients". Some of these may contain dairy products or byproducts. Call the manufacturer (an 800 number is usually listed on the packaging) for further information.
  • and the obvious:
  • milk,
  • butter,
  • cheese,
  • yogurt...
  • canned tunafish. Many brands contain "hydrolized caseinate". However, the low sodium ones in spring water (such as Star Kist), and all of Trader Joe brand tunafish, appear to be milk free.
  • chicken broth: Any form, including canned and bouillion. Many brands contain milk solids.
  • sour mix, such as what is used to make margaritas, or other artifically "sour" items such as some candies.
  • Coconut milk powder (dried; not to be confused with canned coconut milk in liquid form). Every brand I've found to date contains casein, milk or cream.
Gluten (from Latin gluten "glue") is a protein composite found in foods processed from wheat and related species, including barley and rye

It is used as a food additive in the form of a flavoring, stabilizing or thickening agent, often as "dextrin". Several grains and starch sources are considered acceptable for a gluten-free diet. The most frequently used are corn, potatoes, rice, and tapioca (derived from cassava). Gluten is also used in foods in some unexpected ways, for example as a stabilizing agent or thickener in products like ice-cream and ketchup. The standard gluten-free diet does not meet the recommended intake for fiber, thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, folate, iron, or calcium The GF-CF (gluten free, casein free) Diet is a popular autism diet not shown to demonstrate behavioral improvement. (wikipedia)

The Feingold diet is a food elimination program developed by Ben F. Feingold, MD to treat hyperactivity. It eliminates a number of artificial colors and artificial flavors, aspartame, three petroleum-based preservatives, and (at least initially) certain salicylates
During the initial weeks of the program, certain foods containing salicylates are removed and may later be reintroduced and tested for tolerance, one at a time. Most of the problematic salicylate-rich foods are common temperate-zone fruits, as well as a few vegetables, spices, and one tree nut. During this early period, foods like pears, cashews and bananas are used instead of foods like apples, almonds and grapes. (wikipedia)

Do I need to really be aware of all of these? How much casein/milk product or relative is too much? Obviously Aidan isn't ALLERGIC to milk or any of the things listed. He doesn't get hives or have difficulty breathing or any major symptoms. But if it affects his behavior it still seems like a good idea to remove it from his diet if it can help him to function better at home and school.

Things Aidan loves that would have to be removed or altered with the casein free diet and the removal of artificial colors and whatnot:
  • Pizza,
  • ketchup
  • ranch dressing
  • yogurt
  • pop tarts
  • certain cereals
  • macaroni and cheese/shells and cheese
If we did gluten free it would become even more complicated so I think that would be a last resort. In fact, mom pointed out that some studies show that a gluten free diet could be harmful to someone without celiac disease or a wheat allergy.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Summer Vacation Trip

We went to Rockford this past week and Aidan had a blast! He got to:

  • Ride a trolley
  • Blow the trolley whistle and ring its bell
  • Climb on and around trains at the Illinois Railway Museum
  • Visit his Great Grandparents
  • Drive Great Grandma's scooter
  • Ride an airplane
  • FLY an airplane
  • Ride on a boat
  • Jump off a boat and swim in the middle of the lake
  • Drive a boat
  • Ride a four wheeler
  • Ride in a canoe
  • Paddle a canoe
  • Light fireworks
  • Roast marshmallows

Wow! What a week! It was a wonderful visit with Poppa, Grandma Holly, Auntie Arian, Auntie Mimi, Uncle Chris, and his many cousins (Autumn, Cody, Dani & Addy). He was super great for the 11 hour ride up and the 11 hour ride back, plus all the in between trips here and there.

We did have a couple of close calls as far as his autism. At the train museum he got super hungry and overstimulated and tired, and almost had a meltdown before we were able to get him food. Also, he had ice cream twice in one day and the dairy affected his behavior quite a bit – have to plan better next time! The only other really close call was the last day, visiting Great Grandma and Great Grandpa at their apartment. Aidan was at the end of his rope, tired and overstimulated and homesick. He started pushing and pulling and spinning Poppa's chair and after many times of being asked to stop, I asked him to come with me to the hall so we could talk. Aidan ran away and went in Great Grandpa's office where he proceeded to have a mini-meltdown (aggressive, stiff, arching his back, growling, nonverbal). We got him calmed down, gave hugs and left. Otherwise, it was an all in all awesome trip! Hopefully we can do it again soon. I know Aidan had a blast!