Saturday, February 8, 2014

Our Feingold, Gluten-Free Diet Plan... AKA: Are there actual foods we can still eat?

    It's been evident for some time that P has more energy and sleeps way less than the average toddler. Literally, every--single--time we go out with him, he's tearing around at full speed and someone comments, "Wow! He's sure gonna' sleep well tonight!"... and he almost never does. He just goes and goes. That alone wouldn't have convinced me to change our diets so drastically, but more recently this was also accompanied by steep mood swings beyond normal Terrible Twos. He's gotten out of control crying, or sometimes raging, to the point that he almost seems scared. Another red flag: he can lie awake for 2 or 3 hours in his bed without going to sleep. Just crying, tossing, turning, calling out for a million things. Then when he wakes up, he's a wreck--more crying and screaming, often for upwards of 30  minutes.

     His pediatrician brought up going gluten free, but only after trying a few other things. The other things fell flat, i.e., I didn't notice a difference. So after toying with the idea of diet change for a while, I bit the bullet and dove in. I hit Trader Joe's and thought I'd find all these great gluten-free (GF) foods. I was a little overwhelmed and asked an employee for help, at which point I told him what the GF diet was for. He alerted me to the Feingold Diet, originally called the Kaiser Permanente Diet or KP Diet. It's intended to address ADHD behaviors (which the TJ employee said all but disappeared in his 7 year-old son on the diet), but can also help with sleep issues, perseverating, and some other things I saw happening with P that time-outs and patience hadn't done boo to remedy.

     The nuts and bolts of the Feingold Diet are to cut out artificial dyes, artificial flavors, and certain artificial preservatives, and foods containing salicylates (a compound that occurs naturally in certain foods) like apples, grapes, fresh pineapple, berries, tomatoes, peppers, oranges, tangerines, cucumbers, almonds, apricots, pickles... you really need to look up the comprehensive list. There are different stages. During Stage 1, you eliminate all of the foods on the list, then after a period of one to two weeks you integrate the foods back one at a time and hopefully get some of them back into your diet if there are no adverse reactions.

     So after some research on that, I decided that I would rather try both diets (GF and Feingold) at once just in case there were multiple food factors affecting him. Then after a few weeks I could try integrating some of the foods back into his diet. The learning curve is STEEP, which is why I'm going to keep a record of the things I'm feeding P on this diet. So stay tuned as I post those soon!

     Disclaimer: I'm not an expert. I'm not a nutritionist. I'm probably not doing this 100% correctly. If you are an expert at going gluten free or using the Feingold Diet, and you notice that I list some food that's not in line with those diets, go ahead and let me know! Also, before you try any diet change for your own child, consult with your child's pediatrician.

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