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Today’s product recommendation is a book about healing autism through natural methods. It’s titled, Healing and Preventing Autism: A Complete Guide, and is co-authored by Jenny McCarthy and Dr. Jerry Kartzinel.  This book contains quite a bit of information about the GFCF Diet as well as other nutritional therapies and supplements. It is not light reading, and if you are squeamish about detailed information about poop, you may have a tough time getting through at least one chapter! However, the reality is that for many people with autoimmune disorders, including those on the Autism Spectrum, poop is something we usually have to correct (either there is not enough or there is too much, to be polite). In addition to this information, there is also a great deal of information on environmental toxins, allergy testing, and dietary intervention.

I realize that if you are not a big Jenny McCarthy fan it may be tough to take this book seriously. However, while Jenny provides the human, humorous touch to the subject, the “meat” of the information comes from Dr. Jerry Kartzinel, a well-respected pediatrician specializing in the biomedical treatment of autism and autoimmune issues.  (To learn more about Dr. Kartzinel, go here.) I found that the combination of their voices helped to make a difficult and potentially boring subject quite readable. The book is set up in a Q & A format and is packed full of resources. My copy is dog-eared and I’ve probably re-read it about 4 times because it is such a good source of information.

I’d love to hear from you if you’ve read this book and what you thought of it. Please comment below!

elisa_test

ELISA is an acronym for Enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. The ELISA can be used for food allergies, like dairy or gluten intolerance. It can also tell you whether you are allergic to other things, like watermelon or garlic. Many people with autoimmune diseases, like Aspergers/Autism, have what is called a “delayed food reaction” which causes them to experience bowel issues, general stomach discomfort, or even behavioral reactions. The ELISA is a screening tool to determine what foods are causing problems and is often recommended to be done before starting any type of specialized diet, such as the GFCF Diet.

However, it is difficult to walk in to your typical doctor’s office and request an ELISA test because many doctors considered this to be “fake science.” (I would bet they don’t have someone in their household that has seen dramatic results from eliminating certain foods, though!) In order to get an ELISA test done, the best route is to either work with a physician who is considered an advocate of biomedical treatment of autism and other autoimmune diseases, formerly referred to as DAN! Doctors. You can submit all the samples and pay for testing on your own through various companies (see below), but by working with a physician, you will be able to discuss your testing results and then devise a plan for better health based on your ELISA test results.

When my son did his ELISA test, we found that he tested very high for garlic and yeast, but lower for other things like nuts. Through the advice of his biomedical specialist, we have eliminated garlic and yeast from his diet, but he does eat nuts sometimes. Some doctors will even have you eliminate anything that showed a reaction and then slowly rotate these foods in to see how the person will react.

Here are several well-known companies that offer ELISA tests for food allergies/intolerances. The only one I have personally used is the Great Plains Laboratory and they were very thorough. (Please use the following links, at your own risk; I am not a physician and cannot recommend any testing protocols specifically for you!)

Great Plains Laboratory   (need a physician to authorize testing if you live in the U.S.)

Accesa Labs (claim that you don’t need a doctor’s authorization)

Complete Nutrition & Wellness  (require a physician to authorize testing)

Discussion Questions (please add your comments below) –

Have you done food allergy testing and did you find it helpful?

What food(s) did you eliminate from your diet as a result of the testing?

Do you recommend a specific doctor and/or lab?

Yes, I really did get to go see Ms. Temple Grandin speak live last night, here in the Orange County area.  She spoke to a packed gymnasium about a variety of topics related to autism and aspergers. For those who may be a bit fuzzy on who Ms. Grandin is, she is one of the “more famous people on the spectrum” right now thanks to a movie that was made a few years ago about her life that starred the immensely talented Claire Danes. (Ms. Danes even won a Golden Globe for her performance.) But, as Ms. Grandin so eloquently reminded us all last night – she is not autism only, she is a college professor at Colorado State University and a respected authority in her field of industrial design.

I found it interesting to see the marked difference in the audience members watching her speak. There were those of us who “live” with someone on the spectrum everyday and were soaking in as much knowledge and advice as we could from Ms. Grandin.  And, there were those who seemed to be expecting her to entertain them or do tricks, or maybe they were even expecting Claire Danes to come? I’m not sure, exactly.  For those of us who were looking for insight into the autistic mind, we certainly had our cups filled to overflowing last night.

Ms. Grandin, although she has clearly worked hard to improve this, has a lot of marked autistic mannerisms. I’m sure that for the uninitiated, she would come off as “abrasive” or “eccentric” perhaps. She was wearing her trademark fancy Western-style shirt that one would expect a cowgirl to be wearing, complete with silk tie. But, she was clearly comfortable in her own skin and so excited to share her insight with us, it was impossible not to enjoy her speech.  She also has a very dry wit and cracked us all up many times.

I was also chosen to get my book signed by Ms. Grandin, so that made the night even more special. I had the opportunity to quickly thank her personally for all that she has done and is doing for the autism community.  She did not make eye contact and very uncomfortably thanked me; just as my son, who is on the spectrum, probably would.  I was not offended in the least.

If you ever have the opportunity to hear Ms. Grandin speak live, I highly recommend it. It was a wonderful evening and I’m so glad that I was able to go.

We switched our whole family (my son, myself, and my husband) to eating the GFCF diet in November 2011. I was dedicated to doing this to help our son, who is on the Autism Spectrum, so that he could “heal his gut” and feel better.  I didn’t expect that I, too, would benefit so dramatically from the diet.  At first, I thought perhaps it was because I’ve always thought of myself as “lactose intolerant” and therefore I must be feeling better by not having any dairy.  But, the changes were definitely significant – better energy, better “bowel regularity”, general feeling of good health, etc. I was finding that not only did I not mind eating GFCF, I really wanted to eat this way.

Flash forward a couple of months – I was at the park with my son and had to break up a scuffle between him and another child. In the melee, my son stepped (very hard) on my left foot near my big toe.  I went to Urgent Care and was treated over the next month for a suspected stress fracture of the foot.  (I’m a little more “fragile” than most because I have osteopenia, the precurser to osteoporosis.)  Listening to some podcasts about osteoporosis, I heard one naturopathic doctor discussing the connection between osteopenia in young women (aka: premenopausal, like me) and celiac disease.  A light bulb went off in my head! Could I have celiac disease? Is this why I felt so much better on the GFCF diet?

After reading more about celiac disease online, I noticed that I had many of the symptoms and also the family history associated with celiac disease. I decided to find out if I had celiac disease and requested that my doctor check me for it. One problem – I’d been off gluten for over three months! This meant the blood test probably would not be very accurate unless I “gluten-loaded” for at least 1-2 weeks.  I begrudgingly agreed to this; I must say, the mere thought of having to eat breads and gluten-filled products again really grosses me out!

So, here I sit, on day two of my “gluten-loading” and I’m miserable again.  I haven’t even really eaten that much gluten yet, but I feel like I’ve been on a 30-day fast food binge or something! I hope I can manage to do this for another 10 days or so.  I think that the blood tests will be most likely be confirming what I already know….I’ve got celiac disease.  I’ll post my results when I know them; in the meantime, I will still be cooking GFCF for my family, so stay tuned for more recipes!

When I mention Asperger’s Syndrome, many people may nod and smile at me, but they often aren’t sure what the diagnosis really entails. I thought it might be helpful to give a short description of what Asperger’s Syndrome is to clear up the mystery. At this time, Asperger’s Syndrome is still considered to be part of the Autism Spectrum, although there is a possibility it will be separated into its own category in the very near future.

Asperger’s Syndrome is a developmental disorder that was first “discovered” in 1944 by Austrian pediatrician Hans Asperger (thus the name). It usually is characterized by the following symptoms –

  • limited interests or an unusual preoccupation with a particular subject to the exclusion of other activities
  • repetitive routines or rituals
  • peculiarities in speech and language, such as speaking in an overly formal manner or in a monotone, or taking figures of speech literally
  • socially and emotionally inappropriate behavior and the inability to interact successfully with peers
  • problems with non-verbal communication, including the restricted use of gestures, limited or inappropriate facial expressions, or a peculiar, stiff gaze
  • clumsy and uncoordinated motor movements
Most “aspies”, as we affectionately refer to them, are boys although more and more girls are being diagnosed now.  As with most disorders, Asperger’s has a multitude of variations, so no two Aspies are exactly alike. I’ve sat at a table with a group of mothers of Aspies and we’ve been amazed at the variety of symptomology among are children despite having the same diagnosis. This, of course, is what makes it so frustrating to treat the disorder.
The GFCF diet can be helpful with Aspies because, just like with other autism spectrum disorders, it is believed they have a great deal of yeast and bacterial overgrowth in their gut that needs to be healed. The best way to begin is by eliminating dairy and gluten and seeing a biomedical doctor for ELISA testing to find out what other foods the child may be allergic to and what can be eliminated to help them feel better.
Like my son, many Aspies aren’t diagnosed until elementary school, or they are initially diagnosed as ADHD. If you suspect that your child may be “on the spectrum,” you may want to visit the following websites to read more and ask your pediatrician or school psychologist for a screening –

I was talking with my son, Nick, about how I was going to write this blog about my recipes.  He’s a second-grader and has Aspergers.  We’ve been on the GFCF diet since November 2011, so it is still fairly new to all of us.  I will admit that some of my attempts at cooking GFCF have been great, while others have been pretty awful!

I asked Nick how we should let the readers know whether he approved of the recipes on the blog, so that other moms (and children) might be interested in trying the recipes.  He suggested we do a “thumbs up” rating system.  So, now, when I make a new recipe, I ask Nick to tell me, “How many thumbs up would you give this one?” He responds according to the following scale –

Thumbs down – terrible, please don’t ever make this again!

One Thumb up – not bad, but not too great; you can make it again

Two Thumbs up – really good; please make this a lot!

Four Thumbs up – (“Wait, Mom, I don’t have that many thumbs!”) this is the best thing you’ve ever made; please keep making it all the time!

So, as you are checking out the recipes, please look for the “thumbs up” ratings from Nick right next to the recipe titles. And, please, be sure to tell us in the comments how many thumbs your family members give the recipes too!

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Your Guide to Success with the GFCF Diet

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