Sunday, February 6, 2011

Overwhelmed but determined

I've known for a long time that we need to try a GFCF diet but it was simply too overwhelming for me to take the plunge. No more procrastinating. And no plunge. We're dipping our toes in first and easing into this pool.

Before I write about our first steps, I need to write about WHY we are doing this. I may need to come back and read this when I need encouragement.

We adopted our youngest two children from the foster care system, Java is 8 years old and Bean is 13 (*not their real names.) They are half siblings, sharing the same birthmom but with different biological fathers, and both were prenatally exposed to alcohol and other drugs. Java and Bean are both are diagnosed with FASD (Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders) and PANDAS (Pediatric Autoimmune Neuropsychiatric Disorders Associated with Streptococcal Infections) and they have significant sensory processing disorders. We've collected a handful of mental health diagnoses over the years as well, including Disruptive Behavior Disorder and ADHD.

Bean is 13 years old and has ARND (Alcohol Related Neurodevelopmental Disorder). He's had repeated strep infections resulting in episodes of PANDAS from the age of 6 years until the present. He's had rages in school that have required police intervention. He perseverates, locks into refusal mode when frustrated, and has a strong fight or flight response to stress. He is also an amazing, wonderful, kind young man. He has a great sense of humor and shows empathy and remorse after behavior episodes. Bean's favorite foods are PB & J sandwiches, pizza and milk.

Java is 8 years old and has pFAS (partial Fetal Alcohol Syndrome). We discovered her PANDAS this past summer and were shocked at the level of regression she experienced. Her behaviors resembled those of a very anxious, obsessive two year old. We cleared the strep infection and the PANDAS symptoms eased only to be followed by another strep infection a few months later. The antibiotics from the strep treatment set off some re-occurring stomach issues and it was then that I talked to my husband (StarBUCK) about trying a diet change. Java's paternal family has a strong history of digestive and, like her maternal side, mental health disorders. Her paternal grandmother will be a resource for me as we go GFCF. Despite the challenges, Java is generous, she has a lot of energy and she is very creative and artistic. She wants so badly to have friends but her behaviors can be difficult for her peers to tolerate. We hope to help her with that. Java's favorite foods are fruits, vegetables and french fries. This change may be a little easier for her than for Bean.

We have a 15 year old son (Venti) who will probably not follow this diet outside of our house but our family meals will be prepared GFCF. Three of our children are grown and no longer at home but I know that this will affect them, too. I often cook big meals for the whole family.

Going GFCF is probably going to affect me most. However, coffee is an approved item on the GFCF lists so I think I can do this.

Last night we took our first steps. As was recommended in several GFCF resources, we are going casein free first so we tried alternatives to milk. We may eventually go soy free but for now we'll use it...and I'm excited about that because I LOVED the Silk Very Vanilla drink! I was truly surprised at how good it was. StarBUCK liked it, too. Java didn't really make a decision about her favorite but Bean liked the Almond Dream. (Venti wasn't home for supper.)

We actually had a total GFCF supper last night. I wanted the kids (and myself) to see that it was do-able. Bean helped me make chicken nuggets, coated with smashed and seasoned Rice Chex cereal, accompanied by roasted potato slices and grapes. Java asked where I found gluten free grapes and was surprised to learn that God made all fresh fruits and veggies GFCF!

So it's on. I am reading books and blogs and climbing this very steep learning curve one step at a time, but I'm not alone. StarBUCK researched some of the material and is 100% behind me on this one. We're overwhelmed, but determined.


  1. So awesome that Starbuck is on board! Good luck and I hope you get some good results!!

  2. Wow Kari,
    I'm impressed. You are brave. I am thinking of doing something similar because of some adverse reactions I have to half and half, but I really don't know how I'm going to live without half and half in my coffee and tea. Those videos you posted were amazing. Wow. I also have one student in particular that is always sick and has a little brother on the autism scale. Hmmm. And other students that seem sicker than they should be. It's the American way, I guess! Eat junk, feel sick. Eat more junk. I like to eat junk too. I was eating M&Ms and feeling guilty about it while watching those videos.
    Anyway, thanks for posting about your dietary journey. I'm excited to learn how it goes.

  3. Stephanie at is GF, so you can also find some easy recipes there. :)

    Good luck on your journey!

  4. YAY Very Vanilla! I'm lactose-intolerant, so I had to learn to like soy milk very quickly when that was discovered...

    I really hope you have a Trader Joe's near you; they're awesome with labeling stuff and with having GF foods in general.

  5. I"m so excited, both for your family and for me. Because you are the second of the blog authors this week who publically went gluten free, and then my closest friend IRL just told me this week she is too! I think I should do the same, so will be reading everything you write with great interest! Thank you for sharing this part of your journey. : )

  6. Since you love to bake, try Pamela's mixes - excellent. I am not much of a baker, but am gluten free and the kids love the things I make with the pancake mix and the chocolate cake is excellent. I think Bisquick is actually gluten free as well (heard that somewhere, so you'll want to verify). And I second crockpot365 - I even have her cookbook.

  7. For me training myself to think "can't eat" vs. "shouldn't eat" has really helped.

  8. I know this adds to your burden somewhat, but there is concern (and controversy) about whether the use of soy products can create thyroid problems.

    Here's an article from that talks about The Controversy Over Soy and Thyroid Health which you should probably read.



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