When thinking about implementing a diet, it can be overwhelming. There are so many out there, and which does one choose? HOW does one choose? There is the gluten and casein free diet, the elimination diet, low fodmap, low salicylate, low oxalate, GAPS, SCD, Body Ecology, Vegan, Vegetarian, Fruitarian (don’t do that), Paleo/Primal (my personal favorite!), etc. Well, this is what I would recommend first and foremost. “Remove the Junk” diet.
Yep! None of the above. Now for Autism and Down Syndrome, I WOULD suggest gluten and casein free to start. However, what ALL kids with special needs require most is real food. They need to have food free of chemicals, food that is not processed and full of sugar. So instead of looking first at which protocol to follow, pulling out the junk would be a great first step. Then add in lots of nutrient dense foods.
So for example, if you usually serve cereal for breakfast, maybe make your own granola using honey as the sweetener. Or better yet, cook up some scrambled eggs and nitrate free bacon. For lunch, instead of a lunchable, send veggies with hummus, some of last night’s dinner, raw goat’s milk cheese (full fat), or other fruits and veggies. When making peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, go for the sugar free versions. For dinner, just do a quick stir fry or make up a simple meat, veg, starch combo. If your child likes juices, try to slowly water them down. The juice without the fiber of the fruit can spike your child’s blood sugar, so we want to wean them off of those juice boxes. Other ideas for drinks are kefir, coconut water, and kombucha. Eliminate the sodas and power drinks as those are mostly chemical concoctions laden with sugars.
Meanwhile, there are homemade options for protein bars, jello, and desserts. I found a delicious recipe to make sunflower seed butter cups that taste a whole heck of a lot like reeses peanut butter cups, but they only involve a few ingredients and are frankly amaaaaaaazing! A great way to find these healthy options is by googling Paleo desserts. These tend to be very clean recipes with only minimal junk. A few very good sites for healthy recipes are the following:
A great resource for how to eat in general (with dietary protocol tweaks to be made later if need be, i.e. gluten free, GAPS, SCD, etc.) is the Weston A. Price Foundation. The book Nourishing Traditions tells you how to properly prepare the foods that need to be processed before eating, (like grains, beans, nuts and seeds) and it educates on what foods are the most nourishing for the human body. It is one to purchase and keep in your library.
After you remove these items, you may find that your child’s health visibly improves. Of course, it is a first step towards healing. But the journey to health begins with that first step.