21
Aug

Book Tour Update, Paleo and Autism

BookCannon

 

Cannon : “Mommy why are you crying at your new cookbook?”

Cannon’s mom : “Because there’s just so many things in here that you can eat.”

 

After starting my blog and subsequently writing my book, I started hearing more and more of the benefits of a grain and dairy free diet for children diagnosed with autism or Aspergers.  I received a lot of emails from families that transitioned their children to a grain/dairy free diet and start seeing results, but I didn’t know just how many families were using my recipes to help heal their children, while introducing joy back into their lives through food again. Cannon exhibits behaviors associated with autism and his mom is healing his body one day at a time with a Paleo-type diet.

She came out to one of my signings and asked me to sign the book to Cannon, not her, because he is the one that loves my recipes. She, like many other families along my tour, told me stories of how he refused to eat most foods prior to my recipes, and how she wept with joy when she flipped through the pages and saw a plethora of grain and dairy foods that she could make and he could enjoy. His mom was brave enough to share a bit more on their story to figuring out his food sensitivities and how the change has affected them. Find it at the bottom of this post.

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So many families told me of how their kids refused to switch their diets and had food aversions, until they tried my recipes and are now managing their symptoms and willingly eating my creations! Nothing hurts worse than seeing your children suffering, and nothing brings more delight to a parent than seeing their children joyful!

These stories were positively the most impactful of the many I heard throughout my trip. So often, in the Paleo community, treats and recreations of “SAD” diet foods are scoffed at and looked down upon. Understandably so for those that come to the Paleo lifestyle looking to lose weight or break unhealthy food addictions. But unfairly for those that eat this way out of necessity.

But unfairly for those that eat this way out of necessity.

To me, a Paleo ‘treat’ is a way for me to cope with the changes I have been forced to make and eat from time to time when I would otherwise have possibly cheated and taken a bite of a gluten-filled baked good. That baked good would have had severe impact on my body for weeks if not months, so a nut and honey based treat is perfectly acceptable in my opinion! Those baked goods were the things that made the diet sustainable for me when I was in despair about being diagnosed with a lifelong disease and having to radically change my diet on top of everything else. Over time, I’ve found that I need less and less, and also found that I cannot tolerate eating them every day, but it’s comforting to know that they are there when I need them. After this tour, even more than before,  I will stand behind those fun foods that I included in my book. Even if 1 single child can experience joy through my food and not feel ostracized, then my job is done!

even more than before,  I will stand behind those fun foods that I included in my book.

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I plan to start digging in over the next couple of months and researching the connection between diet and these brain disorders. I want to try to keep creating recipes that will help nourish and heal these sweet children and help to guide any families that happen to stumble on my website. So thank you to all of you who shared your personal stories of struggle and success with me along my tour route. It blessed me beyond measure to hear the love, concern, and overall hope you had for your children.

Check out the rest of the tour schedule and some new dates

that I recently added! And be on the lookout for another tour that will start in the Fall!

 

Cannon

photo used with permission from Cannon’s mom

Cannon’s Story

A little over a year ago, my husband and I noticed that our defiant, strong willed and usually difficult six year old was probably struggling with behavior challenges beyond our ability to cope with them on our own. After a few months of therapy, we were advised to have him evaluated further for neurological and behavior conditions. He exhibited behaviors typically associated with autism, including sensory processing disorder, oppositional defiant disorder, bipolar mood disorder, and ADHD.

 

During our evaluation and therapy process, we took nutrition matters into our own hands separately. I was interested in the observations and anecdotal evidence from parents in the autism community, and in their experiences managing behaviors with nutrition.

 

We started simply with a food journal, and involved my son in the entire process. Within two weeks, we isolated gluten, dairy, soy, high fructose corn syrup, dyes, artificial preservatives and nitrates as probable trigger foods by observing instances of:

 

  • mood (i.e.: hyperactive, sad, overwhelmed, anxious, frustrated);
  • behavior (i.e.: aggressive, demanding, oppositional, combative, explosive), and;
  • health (i.e.: stomach ache, itchy, headache, fever, nausea, red cheeks, dizzy).

 

We eliminated our suspected triggers from his diet and immediately saw behavior and focus improvements. (We drank a LOT of smoothies back then!) In the last eight months, we’ve experimented with adding trigger foods back in to test our observations and have became increasingly confident that my son is unable to tolerate overly processed foods. He reacts behaviorally (severe) within a few hours of consumption. We also observed that the same triggers caused terrible eczema in one of our other sons. During my research, a friend suggested I find recipes on Danielle’s blog. In reading about her health journey, I was inspired to not just manage behavior with food, but to explore healing my son with food. We are admittedly new to “elimination” diets, but excited at the possibilities. Two of my four sons are now exclusively gluten, dairy, soy, refined sugar, dye, and nitrate/preservative free, but the entire family enthusiastically devours recipes from Danielle’s book.

 

Barbecue Bacon Burgers is a favorite, as are the Chicken Cobb Salad and Waffles! Our journey is really just beginning, but through Danielle’s book (which is packed with information) we are finding the confidence and resources to eliminate other grains and to cook good food that isn’t loaded with overly processed and artificial ingredients.

 

Because my son has been involved every step of the way, he gets excited to find recipes that he can eat. When Against All Grain arrived in the mail, he noticed me flipping through it and crying. He asked why I was crying about my new book and I told him, “there are just so many things in here you can eat.” He rolled his eyes a bit, but I later caught him flipping through it on his own. I asked him to be gentle with my book and he said, “don’t you mean my book.” He’s staked his claim on it ever since, and was thrilled about the waffle recipe! When I explain my sons’ diet, people usually sympathetically sigh and remark about how hard it must be. I honestly reply that having those foods in their diets is much harder! He’s seven now, and we no longer have to take him to therapy twice a week, he’s never been medicated, and he is seriously happier and better adjusted than he was a year ago.
  • Roxanne

    My son was diagnosed with Autism when he was 6 years old. We knew, though, by the time he was 3 and I finally noticed he flapped (among many other issues including tactile and sensory sensitivities and food tolerance issues). He was hospitalized after a serious peanut allergic reaction and his sensitivities seemed to multiply. By the time he was 6 we were told to cut gluten and dairy from his diet…no easy feat when your son will only eat chicken, fries and hotdogs. We’ve struggled for years…until I found Against all Grain. My husband is a trained chef and enthusiastically makes the recipes (and recreates them in a different way sometimes) for our whole family. Our son is now 10 and more foods are open to him thanks to Danielle first and formost. He has never been medicated (a personal choice) and he thrives. Thanks Danielle!

  • http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/430205 Tracy Haughton

    Dear Danielle: Cannon’s story is moving and I agree with you that: ‘Nothing hurts worse than seeing your children suffering, and nothing brings more delight to a parent than seeing their children joyful! ‘

    We would love your help in reaching parents who are interested in learning more about the link between food and behavior and health for their children and themselves. We are a SF Bay Area group sponsoring the talk: IS TODAY’S FOOD DAMAGING OUR KIDS’ MENTAL AND PHYSICAL HEALTH? with Yale-trained pediatrician, Michelle Perro, MD on Sept. 17.

    Dr Perro says;“For the first time in modern history our children will not be as healthy as their parents. We are seeing an epidemic of digestive, immunologic, and neurologic abnormalities that is changing the face of families, schools and society.”

    Please see our website for more details. We would love to see you and your followers there.

    Best wishes for the success of your tour and your book.

  • Carol

    Cannon’s story sounds so much like me son. We eliminated corn, gluten and peanuts at age 10 and saw a huge improvement in behavior, aggression, frustration, sadness, and difficulty in school. He is 112 now and doing great except he still has texture issues with food but we are working on that too. I want to encourage all parents to consider nutrition for healing your children. I walk through school and wonder how many kids have difficulties simply due to their diets.

  • Karlie C

    Cannon’s story is so encouraging (btw how cute is he?!?). I have just ordered the book and I am very excited to give it a try. I have a son who has had extreme food aversions since we first tried to introduce solids. Do to his lack of weight gain (and my own fear and lack of knowledge as a new mom), the doctors and nutritionist put him on Pediasure. On one hand, it provided him the calories he needed to sustain himself at a very young age. On the other hand, it is made in a laboratory with a ton of sugar and artificial ingredients. Now, 3 years later, he is totally addicted to it. He eats some foods (and I make sure those are high quality) but is not open to trying new things. His behavior and now his skin suffers from the gross Pediasure and while it is going to be heartbreakingly hard I am ready to take it away. He is a wonderful kid who turns into a nightmare when his blood sugar drops. If any of you experienced mamas have advice on trying to get him to try the food in this cookbook, I would really appreciate it. How are some of you, particularly mom’s with food-challenged kiddos, moving them toward these grain-free options when they are so averse to change? Help ! :)

  • Heidi

    Danielle, my whole family now has your cookbook and is loving everything coming out of it! We did have one question for you though…How on earth is your Famous Sandwich Bread WHITE inside?? We have made it half a dozen times now and it is always brown. What is the secret??