Friday, April 13, 2012

Autism Awareness Month - diet concerns

New statistics in the United States say that 1 out of 88 children are on the autism spectrum. Seems overwhelming. Wow.

Then I think about friends and myself. Many of us don't 'look' different. We might be quirky or a little hyper (more than average). But then snack or lunch time comes...

See, my behaviors are affected by the foods I eat. Mom discovered early on that I had milk intolerance. This was one that had to be taken care of quickly as I was nursing and also recovering from closed heart surgery. The doctors wanted her to nurse as long as possible so mom had to change her diet for me. No more cow's milk for her!

In the last seven years we have discovered a few things that I drastically react to. I share because they could be things for you to look into with yourself or your child.

My body does not process unnatural sugar. I can not eat things with high fructose corn syrup, corn syrup, Equal, Nutrasweet, Splenda, etc in them because my body does not recognize them as sweeteners.  For me this is dangerous because I am hypoglycemic, my sugar drops low. In addition, these chemicals cause me to not be able to focus and they also affect my sensory issues.

The most harmful group of chemicals we have found that cause the most disruption for me so far, are the AZO compounds. You might recognize some of them: red 40, yellow 5, yellow 6, azodicarbonamide.  Red 40 I have the worst reaction to. It increases my heart rate and I am unable to calm down for HOURS. The last time I had some I didn't stop for 12 hours and then I passed out, when I woke up the next morning my head hurt really bad, my eyes had dark circles under them and I didn't want to be talked to or touched.

In order to avoid these problem chemicals in the foods, we eat a more natural diet. When mom and dad go grocery shopping they buy things that are not processed as much so that the chemicals are not there. We avoid most food coloring just to be safe and the same with sweeteners. Whenever possible, we rely on non-processed sugars which would be fruit, honey, and natural sugar. Although for the most part we try to avoid too much sugar anyway and focus on a diet with fruit and vegetables that is supplemented with meat and beans.

My opinion is our food is one of the reasons behind so many kids having spectrum diagnosis. Mom and Dad are no where near done with seeing which foods I react to. Every summer its a new adventure. The bottom line is the less processing and the more natural, the better.
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