Monday, October 29, 2007

Three dinners

One current drawback of this transition to a gfcf diet is that we're frequently eating three different meals. I know that, with some planning, this doesn't need to be the case. But I'm currently in triage mode with school and the move, so I also know that this won't change until we have a chance to settle into our new house and I can give myself a little freedom to slack on the school work for a month or so.

Nonetheless, I was actually quite pleased with the look of our dinners tonight. Scooter, who is super picky, actually had a balanced meal. I am full enough that I should be able to avoid the worst of the late-night munchies. And Trillian ate something healthy, even if she avoided adding a vegetable side.

Scooter's dinner:
  • A couple fish sticks (shaped like fish). They're gluten-free because they use potato flakes in the breading. He ate these with ketchup.*
  • Half an apple. He may not like veggies, but I can always get the kid to eat apple.
  • A few bites of gfcf toast, spread with an acceptable butter substitute (that is also trans fat free).
  • 2 glasses of orange juice. Ever since this study, I worry less about him drinking juice instead of water. I figure that it ups the number of vitamins and minerals he gets. Not as much fiber as if he ate the actual fruit, but he dislikes the feel of oranges in non-juice form.
  • Some soy ice cream and gfcf chocolate chip cookies for dessert.
My dinner:
  • The other half of Scooter's apple as appetizer.
  • The remainder of the gfcf loaf, toasted, with ham from our local butcher. Their meat is generally organic and minimally, if at all, processed.
  • A medium-sized salad of baby greens, dried cherries, pumpkin seeds, and dijon tarragon dressing.
  • Spearmint tea for my sore throat.
Trillian's dinner:
  • Large glass of milk.
  • A salmon fillet with panko crumbs and pecans.
  • Dark chocolate.
To be fair, Trillian may have had something else that I'm not aware of, but I can pretty much guarantee it wasn't a green vegetable. Both the milk and the panko crumbs are no-gos for me. I actually don't miss the milk since rice milk works fine for me, but I am mighty jealous of the salmon. Scooter, of course, wouldn't have been willing to try even a bite if Trillian had offered.

* The ketchup is suspect; it does not specify what kind of vinegar is in it, and vinegar is sometimes filtered through (if not made from) wheat. I plan on being more careful about this once we're in Springfield, but decided not to mess with it during out transition period.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Switching out carbs

When Trillian and I decided to switch Scooter's diet, we knew that the hardest thing by far was going to be getting him away from his favorite snacks. The boy could survive of of Cheerios and/or Goldfish crackers. Sure we needed to find acceptable substitutes for chicken nuggets and grilled cheese sandwiches, but there were a few protein sources we could turn to until we hit upon child-approved brands. But it was not uncommon for Scooter to snack from bowls of fishies and Cheerios throughout the day. Whenever we left the house, we brought a baggie of snacks along with us.

I could justify this snack since Cheerios are made from oats, and we would sneak in the whole-wheat cheddar Goldfish when we could find them. But both oats and wheat are sources of gluten, so they would have to go.

We actually managed to start getting Scooter off of Cheerios before we'd even made the decision to try the new diet. And that was by accident. One time, as I was shopping at Whole Foods, I remembered that we were almost out of Cheerios. The regular ones were sold out, so I thought I'd take the opportunity to try out an organic version. Not acceptable! And I have to agree with Scooter that the texture was all wrong. They were really rough and sharp.

So he became a little gun-shy about Cheerios. Which was only confirmed for him when I tried PerkyOs, a gluten-free 'equivalent' to Cheerios. While the texture was better, though not the same, as the previous attempt, not even the frosted ones could cover up the difference in taste.

Goldfish crackers have been a bit harder to give up, and I'm not entirely proud of how we helped him forget them. Because we offered sweets. Cookies and brownies made from gluten-free, dairy-free mixes.* That certainly has made it easier for him to forget about the crackers.

To be sure, we're also pushing fruit a little harder and have been experimenting with other options. He'll sometimes eat the "Corn Balls" (similar to Kix cereal) I brought home, though not with the same love as Cheerios. He has rejected the rice crackers I love so dearly. Recently, I tried baking a loaf of bread from a mix,* and it turned out much better than the ready-made loaves of rice bread we've had before. But he has also upped his protein intake, rediscovering his enjoyment of bacon and eggs--and the kid is so skinny that we're not too worried about the increased fat right now.

I don't think I would necessarily recommend our method (or even consider it an organized approach). We had no intention of getting him to think that Cheerios had suddenly gone bad, but that does seem to be his thought. And cookies, cake, and (soy) ice cream can't be the answer to everything. But so far--knock on wood--we seem to be headed in a promising direction.

* I've mainly used Bob's Red Mill gluten-free mixes so far. They also don't contain dairy and are designed so that you can use dairy substitutes in place of milk and butter.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

The tipping point

Not that I'll get to everything tonight, but here's a little background to how Trillian and I finally decided to give the gluten-free, casein-free diet a try.

The GFCF diet is one of those things we keep coming across in our readings and discussions. And intuitively, the reasoning behind it makes sense to me--and also explain why it works for some people but not others. I'll do a fully researched and linked post at some point, but the short version is that some people who are especially sensitive to certain components of wheat and dairy (ie, gluten and casein) crave it more than just about anything else. Yet, they cannot process the food efficiently--it even causes them general digestive problems--and they end up with a bit of a brain fog.

I have long suspected that I should cut back on wheat and dairy. I have been aware that it affects my stomach. But, when I eat based on my cravings, I almost always go after carbs and cheese or milk. So once I read about this sort of sensitivity and also noticed that Scooter follows a similar pattern in food choices, I realized that he might have some similar issues.

Scooter has suffered from eczema pretty much since he was born. Some of the things I read suggested a link between (cow's) milk allergies and eczema, although this was dismissed by our pediatrician. A couple years ago, we tried to go wheat and dairy free as part of an elimination diet to figure out these allergy/sensitivity issues. But it was too hard for us to stick to for the time required to make the determination.

GFCF keeps coming up in the various things we're reading. And then there are the other parents I've talked to who have tried it, generally with some sort of anecdotal success. So we've hemmed and hawed over it, always pulling away because of how hard it would be to implement. Then Trillian spoke with an acquaintance of her parents who has two autistic sons. She's very no-nonsense and believes that a lot of treatments that are out there are worthless and benefit only the people who have come up with them. She researches things extensively and will only do those things that have a solid scientific basis. And she had done the GFCF diet with (I think--Trillian can correct my details) her second son. Who began speaking in sentences within 48 hours of their start. He made many great strides in the 2 years she had him on it, and now he also eats moderate amounts of wheat and dairy again.

So we're making the switch. Gradually. At home, we've got him entirely off gluten and are switching over to rice milk (currently at about 50% milk, 50% substitute). We're learning to bring snacks with us to those places where he'll expect them and have started to find substitutes that keep him from begging for his old standbys.

I am also trying to follow along on this diet, though I gave myself far more passes in the early days than we gave to Scooter. This is not so much an instance of providing Scooter with company--he's used to eating different things than we do anyway. Rather, this is also my recognition that I am likely to benefit in the same way he does from some changes.

As for any changes? It's hard to quantify improvement. And it's also hard to know when something is the result of a change and when it was just time for it to happen. Plus, we haven't made a complete switch yet. But, Trillian and I do think we're seeing improvements. Little things, like increasing complexity of sentences and conversation (though I also wonder if the omega-3s have anything to do with that). He's also been pushing boundaries, intently and unrelentingly. It feels like he's making up for lost time, covering all of those behaviors and developments that got shoved to the side before.

And so our plan is to continue and, once we move to Springfield, to complete the switch over to an entirely GFCF diet.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Welcome to my kitchen

The Nest was feeling a little crowded, so I knocked out a wall and added on.

I have written about food on occasion over at the nest, but it usually feels just a little out of place for me. I sense that I'll be writing more about food-issues too, given that Trillian and I are transitioning Scooter over to a gluten-free, casein-free diet. And so this space will serve as a place where I can document some of my experiments in adapting recipes to those requirements. Think "test kitchen."

And in that vein, I will also use this space to review any products I feel deserve a write up.

I probably won't update here as often as I do over at the Nest, but feel free to drop by for a cup of coffee or a slice of cake (wheat and dairy free, of course).