Thursday, August 28, 2014

The Special Diet

I am not a dietician but in my years of working with special needs kids, I have come to realize the impact of food in the general well being of the child. I will share some examples below.

1. Zeezee
Zeezee is autistic and she has been on a strict diet (casein and gluten free) for sometime now.
We noticed recently that she had suddenly become very hyperactive. There was a lot of biting, incessant screaming which up until then, we had been able to keep to a minimum. 

We kept wondering what could have happened. We started the investigation by asking her family some questions, slowly crossing off any food she may have started eating recently and checking her vitamins to know what she was reacting to.
We discovered that her dad just developed the habit of taking Zeezee and her brothers out to the cinema on Saturdays where they eat lots of popcorn, soda and then pizza and ice cream. When we put a stop to all the fast food and sweet drinks, Zeezee became calmer after just 3 days.

2. Timon
Timon has spastic Cerebral Palsy and his mum insists that he won't take pap or tea without sugar or milk and his therapist has noticed he is very stiff and has increased spasms.

Most parents find it very difficult to do the various diets and to an extent it can be challenging. It is not easy to get rice milk and almond milk (some diary alternatives) or stevia (natural sweeteners) or organic cubes in supermarkets or the market places and when you get them, they are usually very expensive.


Getting the child to comply is another challenge. I know a parent who spent a lot of money to buy rice milk, gluten free flour, pasta and so on, only to be disappointed when the child refused to smell the food. It was so bad that the mere sight of any of the packages caused him to throw terrible tantrums. As a result, they had to hide everything deep inside the store house and later on threw everything away when they expired.

When parents ask for suggestions,I ask them to start gradually by first cutting out processed food or junk food as much as possible especially sugar and cook more farm fresh fruits and vegetables as its safer and cheaper.

Please any dieticians or parents who are experienced about nutrition could give us more advice on dieting or what has been working for them.

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