Many of you have properly have heard of gluten and dairy free diets. You may have tried cutting these foods out of your diet or wondered if it is just another fad. Gluten and dairy foods consist of proteins that maybe reactive in the digestive track. These reactions vary from person to person, but may include sluggishness, bloating, and cramping. We recommended patients, young and old, to eliminate these foods to improve their overall healing and ability to function better in their environments.
Dietary changes have the tendency to cause high levels of undo stress. It is my goal with this post to simplify and de-stress the process, so you and your family can make healthful lifestyle changes.
The best place to start is with a diet diary to evaluate how toxic and inflammatory the diet is. A diet diary consists of writing down everything that you eat, drink, medications or supplements taken, as well as reactions to meals for 7 days. Whether the diet diary consist of missed meals, minimal veggies and fruits, or full of sugar it provides a starting place for change. When working with sensory kids it is especially important to pay attention to their dietary reactions, whether they complain of belly aches or you notice behavioral changes.
Many people consume the Standard American Diet (SAD), which consists of a high intake of meat, dairy, fat, and refined sugar, as well as low intake of vegetables and fruits. As you may guess the SAD is not a very healthy diet, which correlates with the overall increase in inflammatory conditions and diseases – acne, behavioral issues, cancer, digestive issues, etc.
Gluten and dairy make up a large portion of the SAD, and are very reactive in our bodies. The proteins, gluten and casein, found in wheat and dairy products, respectively, are broken down by dipeptidyl peptidase-4 (DPP4) enzyme. However, many people have DPP4 insufficiency or deficiency. This causes the proteins to not be broken down fully, which creates peptides (smaller proteins): gluteo-morphine and caseo-morphine that mimic opiods. Opioids are substances that bind to receptors in the brain that produce morphine effects. Morphine has addictive properties. Therefore, people who lack DPP4 are more prone to having addictive responses to gluten and casein. Both gluteo-morphine and caseo-morphine peptides frequently cause feelings of spaciness, intoxication, high pain tolerance, repetitive behaviors, and contentment. This intoxication may result in craving and strong attachment to foods.
Sensory kids like to eat SAD foods, especially mac and cheese, chicken nuggets, pizza, and French fries. These foods share texture in common, as they break down in the mouth without chewing. Many sensory kids have low muscle tone in their mouth muscles and decreased sense of smell and taste, which makes the texture of these foods appealing.
When you have decided that going gluten and/or dairy free is right for you and your family – where should you start? I would recommend picking one, gluten or dairy, and do a transitional elimination diet. This form of an elimination diet focuses on transitioning from the current to gluten and/or dairy free diet, as the palate and brain evolve, and body detoxes.
- Detox Timing:
- Casein = 3 weeks
- Gluten = 3 months
Due to the body’s ability to detox from dairy quicker, many parents prefer to restrict dairy first and then move on to gluten after their kids begin to feel better. Detoxes are difficult no matter the age. So, start small by picking and transiting with your child’s favorite food.
- I.e. Mac and cheese
- Buy Kraft Mac and cheese and organic, gluten free macaroni pasta (Bionaturae) w/ diary free cheese (Daiya)
- Make both
- Serve ¾ Kraft and ¼ gluten/dairy free
- Work up from ½ Kraft and ½ gluten/dairy free, ¼ Kraft and ¾ gluten/dairy free, until your child tolerates full gluten/dairy free over a few weeks
- If your child pays attention to you making them meals be sure to keep the Kraft box out on the counter-top while you are preparing the meal as long as it takes for the transition
After the transition phase, it is important to have an action plan to introduce nutritious foods.
- Restrict all dairy (casein) foods for 3 weeks
- Restrict all gluten foods for 3 months
- Monitor your child for symptoms during the restriction (i.e. food diary)
- Get nutritious foods into your child
- Juicing and smoothies – a great way to introduce them to fruits and veggies
- Carrot apple juice is where I would recommend starting. If you kiddo is resistant about drinking it, try making juice popsicles.
- Sample Recipes:
- Use substitutes for gluten and/or dairy food substitutes as needed. Most of these can be found at your local co-op or in the health food section of your grocery store.
- Gluten Free Food List
- Udi’s – bread, muffins, bagels
- Lara and Clif – bars
- Barbara’s, Glutino, Annie’s – crackers, cookies, cereal
- Amy’s – pizza, mac and cheese, frozen entrees
- Bionaturae - pastas
- Dairy Free Food List
- Silk – soy, almond, cashew based milk and yogurt
- So Delicious Diary Free – coconut based milk, creamer, yogurt, ice cream
- Daiya – plant based cheese
- Rice Dream – ice cream
- Earth Balance – butter and mayo
Some parents choose to reintroduce gluten and/or dairy after they have cleared from their child's system "just to see." It is important to wait until positive changes have been made before reintroducing (3+ months). Typically, parents notice a rapid increase in behavioral and digestive issues after gluten and/or dairy reintroduction. When ready to eliminate these foods again you can choose to follow the same steps as before or pick up where your left off, all of which depends on your child's needs.
These changes that you are making in your family’s life are more than just a diet, they are lifestyle changes that will allow them to think, function, and live at their fullest potential. Check out Blue Hills Chiropractic Pinterest board https://www.pinterest.com/bluehillschiropractic/ for kid’s healthy meal ideas.