We’ve run the gauntlet on diet and nutrition at our house. From low glycemic, candida, vegetarian, sugar free, gluten free, casein free-there’s been a lot of frees…
And you know what? Most of that didn’t help.
It all started 3 years ago with my fuzzy brain, chronic fatigue, a never ending headache (6 mo. +), and nausea hitting by 5:00 every night. After giving up on my Dr. and turning to google, I eventually found my way to good health. Man that was a good 2 months! Having clawed my way uphill I thought I’d never let go of my new way of life.
Then I found out my son had autism…
I let my good habits slip…
and I spiraled down, down, down.
Now it’s no longer about helping mommy, it’s all about helping our son. Now it’s all about autism.
After a year of swimming in this quicksand, researching like crazy, and tweaking our diet to match, I’ve come to a definitive conclusion:
Special diets do NOT cure autism
(or any other neurological issues).
They don’t. Whether it’s depression, MS, Autism, or purple smurfitus-a new diet can’t cure it.
The reason people swear by diet is because it was the last change they made before seeing a major improvement. It’s an easy assumption to make. When I changed to a low glycemic and dairy free diet last year, I saw dramatic improvement in my mental health. I was telling so many people about it and attributing all the success to diet.
But I completely disregarded all the other things I was doing intuitively.
Until I read about neuroplasticity, a few months ago, I didn’t realize that diet was only one piece of the puzzle. That piece being: the prevention of inflammation. Chronic inflammation inhibits healing (while conversely acute inflammation is essential for healing), getting rid of it doesn’t cause healing to happen-it just allows healing to happen.
*Lowering inflammation also helps sleep and autoimmune disorders-double win!
That’s why some people see improvement with diet and others don’t. It depends on how many other steps of neurological healing you already have in place. In my brain scenario, I was already exercising, meditating, and changing my breathing. Putting a low inflammation diet on top of that, created a combination that led to my clear head and energetic body. After enough time I was able to eat pizza and ice cream again. Yay!
Unfortunately that good time ended far too soon. I stopped taking care of myself as I searched for answers. I felt guilty to take time for myself when Sir Bounce a lot was in the middle of crucial milestones, he needed help-NOW!
I hesitated putting him on my intuition based diet. He couldn’t tell me if peanut butter made him nauseous, or if black beans hurt his stomach, or if milk made him fuzzy headed. I had no clue how food was affecting him on those levels.
Then I had friends mentioning candida-it made a lot of sense with my fuzzy brain issues and google brought up a lot of links with autism. This had a plan to follow-it was very similar to my made up diet- and it didn’t rely on slight changes in vitality that I couldn’t gauge for my son. Besides these nutritionists online had a degree, they of course knew more than me-right? So I went whole hog-sugar, gluten, and casein free.
And we got worse and worse.
What the Candida ‘experts’ over look
I’ll let you on a little secret-sugar is one of our bodies main fuels. If you quit eating your main fuel source you will die. That’s why our body’s crave it, sugar means life.
Crazy how that works.
Turns out if you cut all sugars (including natural sugars-like bananas) your body will break down your muscle to get fuel. Not fat-your muscle!
The real issue is how fast the sugar comes in. You don’t want to flood your engine with fuel or cut it out completely. Sugar needs to come in at the right amount in a consistent manner.
So this second time around on a special diet, we didn’t see any improvement. None, Nada, zilch-for him or myself. My magical diet wasn’t working. We only kept it up because I knew diet was the answer for my fuzzy brain before.
Then Christmas came, we did a ton of walking, cooking, decorating-and we saw a TON of improvement. The diet cleared out some of the inflammation preparing our bodies for healing. Although without our learning to relax stress creates too much inflammation for a change of diet to make a lasting difference (I’ll talk about this more in the next few weeks). Add in exercise and presto-developmental progress unfolds!
The diet didn’t work for us the second time because I was so overwhelmed and didn’t make the time for us to run or meditate.
Full disclosure: I still haven’t made it to running, but we walk as a family quite often. I’ve also started up my personal meditation.
After Christmas I ditched Stevia and added in fruit and raw honey. We’re feeling much better. I no longer worry about candida, I care much more about its cause-chronic stress and inflammation.
But we’re doing one any way
It’s all just part of a puzzle. Eat in a way to lower inflammation and support cells against stress. Avoid foods that hurt a damaged gut. Walk to create brain growth hormone, aerobic exercise to bring more oxygen to your brain, find ways to relax, sleep deeply, and use therapy to train your brain to think in a new way.
This is why we are on our crazy diet even though we know it doesn’t cure. Diet is the gate keeper for neurological healing, either allowing healing in or locking it out. I prefer in.
If you are struggling with a neurological illness (not injury), I highly recommend your looking into a low inflammatory diet. That diet will be different for each person. Even if you’ve tried it before-the problem might have been a lack of the other therapeutic steps, our bodies work together with the mind. With this knowledge we can use items we touch (food) to affect the abstraction of our minds. We can use our body as a direct conduit to our brain’s health! I find that dang exciting!
I’ll be posting what our diet looks like soon, along with recipes! So be sure to check back!