Curse of the Zebra Cake: Diet and SPD

I want to start off by saying that I am not a Doctor and I am not a Nutritionist.  The information I share here is just from my own research and experience.  So make sure that you inform your doctor before any major diet changes.  You really don’t need approval to remove foods but be sure that your child is still receiving the right caloric intake for their size.  That is when it gets tricky and you may need the help of a nutritionist or doctor.  Now onto the blog post….

The day was April 19th.  A clear blue sky with fluffy white clouds hung overhead.  The field was green and lush from days of rain.  My son had played a great game of soccer following all the rules not pretending to be any kind of animal (real or imaginary) and we had enjoyed being just like everyone else.  And then it happened.  The game was over and as little hands clapped past each other in the age old rite of a game well played the after game snack appeared.

Here I was across the field holding a baby and trying to keep a 3 year old from running onto the field.  But I knew, I just knew that I could not wait.  I tossed our baby to my husband and took off running at full speed.  I was just in time to slap shot half a zebra cake out of my son’s hand, but not fast enough to stop the other half from being greedily devoured.  And not fast enough to keep myself looking from the crazy mom who uses NBA style moves to keep her kids on a diet.  I tried to save face by looking around at shocked faces and explaining, he has allergies, he can’t eat that…but the damage had been done.  Forget Tiger Moms I was a Zebra Mom.

You may be asking yourself, what is the big deal about 1 little zebra cake?  Well for a child with, sensory disorder, adhd, add, autism, tourette, or any other neurological issues, that one little cake can cause a weeks worth of set backs, emotions, and temper tantrums.  It is a complicated process going on in our bodies and when things aren’t quite working right.  Just a little bit can go a long long long way.

Diet is an issue that many health practitioners are now looking into.  Time and again they have seen children miraculously change just based on the foods they eat.  What was once just a suspicion is now becoming hard science.  So how does the diet effect a child?  It all starts with your gut!  Many children suffering from neurological conditions have leaky gut.  This means that rather than the food going through the digestive system it is passing into the blood stream instead and sometimes going straight to the brain.  That is a very easy way to explain a very complicated process, but this may help:

Leaky gut can cause a chain reaction of auto immune disease as the body begins to react to things that are not where they are supposed to be.  This is why sometimes when given an allergy test people will show an allergy to almost everything.  They are not actually allergic to everything but their body has created antibodies to the things that have slipped past their leaky gut.

The number one way to stop that leaky gut is to stop eating gluten.  It is also recommended to stop eating soy, dairy, potatoes, and corn as well.  Those foods are cross contaminators of gluten and if you are having gluten trouble you likely have issues with those foods too.  You may not have to be gluten free forever, but you do need to take this diet seriously.  Your child’s well being depends on it.

Ways to Heal a Leaky Gut:

1. Remove food irritants

2. Introduce Probiotics

3. Stick to the Plan

4. Slowly introduce foods back in after at least 6 months (if you have an issue then shelf it for another 6 months)

As their gut begins to heal their behavior will change and symptoms will start to disappear.  When we first went gluten free my son would have horrible reactions to the least bit of gluten.  It wasn’t just behavior either, he would have digestive issues, eczema flare ups on his hands and feet, and have trouble sleeping.  We have been gfree almost a year now (also all natural no dye) and he is thriving.  I also noticed that the zebra cake incident only made him a bit emotional and it only lasted a day.  I am hopeful that one day he won’t have to be on a special diet (we will always be dye and artificial free) and he can just relax a little.  Until then I will be packing lunches, packing snacks, and making sure I am always prepared.  It isn’t easy, but it is so worth it.  Even if I have to slap shot a few Zebra cakes along the way.

There is soooo much more about diet that I am going to have to write several posts, my next one will be about food dye and artificial flavors.


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