Friday, January 24, 2014

GAPS intro diet days 1-4!

So after putting it off and putting it off and preparing and preparing, we FINALLY started the introduction GAPS diet.  Man have I been dreading this.  The idea of making my almost 4 year old eat nothing but homemade meat broth for 3 days literally gave me nightmares.

But after two months of Claire going back to her old ways of waking up 4 hours into sleep and staying up all night, all day, and still having trouble going to bed, her lack of speech, and her swollen belly, we finally decided that it was time to bite the bullet and do this!

When we first went to visit the GAPS specialist/nutritionist, she recommended we start the full GAPS diet since Claire had been doing so well already with just the gluten and dairy free diet.  But if after a few months she stopped progressing, that would be a clear indicator that we needed to do the introduction diet.

First of all, please understand that this GAPS diet is not your typical "diet".  I am not putting Claire through this (or myself for that matter since I too am currently on this diet) to help her lose weight or anything like that.  It's not one of "those" diets!  So please don't think I'm neglecting my child or malnourishing her.  I am, in fact, doing the complete opposite!!  

To be honest, 150 years ago this diet wouldn't have been considered a diet at all! It would have been the normal diet that people consume day to day!  Homemade meat broth made from the bones of their own organically grown cows that ate only rich green grass, fresh raw veggies grown straight from the garden they had plowed and planted in their own back yard, and eggs that were raised from cage-free, antibiotic-free, free range chickens.

If you take a look back into history you will see how very few cases of cancer, diabetes, autism, and even obesity there were when people ate like this.  

So, I hope you can understand how much thought and studying I have put into my decision to start my darling daughter on this diet.

Now, onto the progress!!!

Pre-diet, we had been dealing with Claire's inability to sleep through the night, swollen tummy, digestive issues, and her autism characteristics starting to come back a little strong.

Needless to say, Dietrich, Claire, and Me were exhausted.   At first it was once a week.  Claire would wake up 3-5 hours after falling asleep wide awake laughing and singing.  She was exhausted but it was like her brain wouldn't shut off.  She would keep us awake all night.   This quickly escalated to twice a week, then, every other day, and some weeks, EVERY NIGHT she would wake up and stay up all night and then all day.  We couldn't understand why this girl was able to function on so little sleep.  Her dark circles under her eyes also returned.     This had to stop.

Day 1:  Claire begs me for fruit.  But I am determined to get this girl healthy one way or another.  I fix her and myself a nice big bowl of homemade chicken broth that I had made the day before.  It's full of carrots, cauliflower, onion, and garlic.  The smell is heavenly. But of course, Claire hates it.  I refuse to let her refuse and use a turkey baster to feed her.  After fighting me for the first few basters full, she is happy to drink the broth realizing how delicious it is.  She even eats the veggies by herself with a spoon.  We drink our freshly made ginger root/honey tea between broth.  Claire enjoys that part and so do I.  That night, we gave her a very warm bath with epsom salt and put her into bed, fully expecting her to wake up around 2 am.  She did.  But only because her diaper was full and she wanted it changed (you would be surprised how much you go pee when your diet consists only of fluids!).  We changed her, put her back to bed, and waited for her to come back into our room (which is what she does every night over and over again until we finally give up and get up with her).  To our surprise, she went right back to sleep and slept until 8:15 the next morning.

This is a mid-song picture I got of Claire singing one of her favorite songs "Love Song" by Sara Bareilles.  In just the last few days alone, we have noticed Claire's enunciation improving, especially when she sings. 

Reading happily on Day 2

Day 2:  Claire still begs me for fruit.  This day was harder on both of us.  I was starving for something that I could chew but still managed to stay strong for claire.  We drank our broth and then had our ginger honey tea. The tea helped more than I expected it to.  We gave her a long warm bath with baking soda mixed in. This night, Claire fell asleep quickly and slept all night without waking up once.

Day 3:  Broth for breakfast.  I remembered that my homemade sauerkraut was finished and put a few tablespoons in our broth. Claire and I both liked the taste.  Once again, Claire slept ALL night.  This was a 3 night streak for her.  The first streak in more than a month.

Listening to music through headphones.  She's never been able to do this before!
Day 4 (present):  Broth for breakfast, but now we are entering into stage II of the diet! So, we got to add one raw egg yolk into each of our bowls of broth along with two tablespoons each of sauerkraut juice.  This is probably my favorite flavor yet.  Tonight, I will add another yolk to our bowl and tomorrow also.

TOMORROW:  We continue the broth and get to add some meat casseroles!  Claire will be so happy!! Hopefully she will continue to make progress and not go back.  If she starts regressing after the meat, it just means her body will need to go back to the broth only and heal a little more, which I'm prepared for just in case.

Supplements:  I absentmindedly forgot about the supplements that I was supposed to put Claire on once I started this diet.  The first was BioKult probiotics and the second is Cod Liver Oil.  I should be getting them both in the mail today (thanks to our always helpful parents Sanna and Don).  These supplements are not cheap but are top of the line quality and Claire deserves nothing but the best.  I am anticipating many more amazing things to occur in Claire's little body once we start the supplements.  We are also applying topical Lugol's iodine every day on her skin and that too has helped her tremendously!

As for me, well, since starting this introduction diet, I've lost 8 lbs (most probably water retention), my kidney pain is completely gone (not even any residual tenderness at all), my stomach is no longer bloated, and my stomach issues have abated.  

Will update after stage II is over!  For now, gotta get back to making broth!!!  

Saturday, October 26, 2013

GAPS Introduction Diet here we come!

After months of being on the full GAPS diet, I can no longer put off the inevitable.  It's time to dive deeper into this healthy gut journey and put Claire on the introduction diet.

What does this introduction diet consist of?  Well, for the first stage of this diet (5-7 days or less depending on how she tolerates it), Claire will be eating nothing but homemade meat broth (with a probiotic juice in each bowl of broth).  This is going to be tough! But! We seem to be at a stand-still with Claire since the "cookie incident" and I want this girl to be healed!   I am going to Fresh to buy some organic cabbage and carrots in order to make homemade sauerkraut for her probiotic juice.  Hope it turns out good!!!   Will blog about how that goes.

After we get through this first stage (so help us God!), the second stage will consist of the same broth for every meal with the addition of ginger tea between meals (homemade of course) more fermented vegetables and organic raw egg yolks added to the broth.  As gross as this stuff sounds, these things are so beneficial to your stomach and digestive system.  Just do the research and you will see!!!!

Also, I will be making Claire GAPS friendly casseroles and stews to add during this stage and I'm praying she will be happy to eat them since she will have been eating nothing but broth up until this point.  These stews and casseroles will be filled with organic vegetables and lots and lots of healthy meat fats (which are also SOOO healthy for your gut!).  I need to get my hands on a recipe for homemade ghee.  Ghee is also beneficial to healing Claire's gut and adds some amazing flavor to her casseroles, stews, etc.

On to the next stage, which carries on with the same things mentioned above, plus adding a mashed ripe organic avocado to the soups, homemade nut butter pancakes with ghee, scrambled eggs in ghee, cooked onions, and full on fermented sauerkraut (not just the juice).

On to the fourth stage!

At this point, I will be adding roasted or grilled meats and veggies in addition to the fermented foods and broths.  She will be able to have foods cooked in cold pressed olive oil and freshly pressed juices.

She also will be able to have homemade almond bread, winter squash, coconut oil, and any nuts or seeds she desires!  This will be the fun part!

5th stage:  IF all the previous foods are being well tolerated at this point, I will be able to cook an apple or puree an apple, and make a sort of apple/ghee, honey, casserole if you will, and give that to claire.  If this is tolerated well, we will definitely be on the right track! Raw veggies will be added along with more fruit juices (minus any citrus juices as they will be too harsh on her gut at this point).  During this time, I will be writing about Claire's behavioral patterns and if certain issues are getting better or worse. I'm expecting her to regress, but this will be a necessary part of her healing since she will be having a gut cleansing!!

The sixth and final stage!!!!!  If all the previously introduced foods are being tolerated well, peeled raw apple (Claire's current favorite snack) will be introduced along with more raw peeled fruits (and raw honey).  Then, I will start making homemade GAPS friendly baked goods (using dried fruit or raw honey as a sweetener).

If all goes well, Claire will be stimming less, pooping more regularly, sleeping better, and have a much broader appetite!

We will then go back to the Full GAPS diet, which is what we are doing right now and have been for about 8 months.

Prayers and positive thoughts will be so appreciated during this time.  I know it's going to be such a tough journey, but from everything I have heard and researched about this diet, I know it's going to help Claire out so much!!!!!!  I will keep a diary/journal of Claire's progress and will update my blog as soon as I have time.  For now, on to making broth and homemade sauerkraut!

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Regression and a minor setback

In my last post, I had only good things to say about Claire Bear and our first family trip.  After getting back, Claire seemed to adjust very well and we went back into our routine without any problems whatsoever.  Now, with this GAPS diet, we were expecting episodes of regression, but we never know when.

A couple of weeks ago, Claire started waking up in the middle of the night talking in gibberish and staying awake for 4-6 hours in the middle of the night.   She also starting doing some of her weird stimming things that she hadn't been doing in awhile.  BUT! This only lasted about a week.  She had about 6 bowel movements in one day.  That one day was rough.  She was screaming a lot when ethan would get upset (something she hasn't done in awhile), and was also obsessed with her blankets and pacifier.   But she also had 6 pretty nasty poops and also was passing a lot of gas.  That night, she slept all night.  The next morning, she was back to her normal bright eyed self.  She was willing to go through her flash cards with me and she was even snuggling with her baby brother on her princess couch.  That's when I began to see how much of a change this diet has done for her.  I now know the regression is necessary for her to get better!!!   Though that week was tough for us all, Claire came out of it even better and more focused than she was before! She started saying "Please" in the sweetest voice for everything hahahhaha.  I found it almost irresistible.  Her eye contact was better than before also and she was noticing and acknowledging when someone would walk into the house or room and saying hello or hi.  She also started saying "Bye Bye" and waving when she was ready to leave (without me having to ask her to say it).  She pretends to feed her baby doll water from her sippy cup and also gives us drinks and feeds us too (she thinks its hilarious).

Well, Dietrich's work was having a potluck and he asked me to make my chocolate chip cookies.  So I made 3 dozen and had a few extra left out on the counter for Dietrich to eat.  During Ethan's bath, Claire took it upon herself to grab a cookie off of the counter top and took a couple of bites before finding dietrich and handing him the cookie (to share).  That night, it took her almost 3 hours to go to sleep.   But that's not the worst part.  The next day, she woke up with a pretty bad rash on her face.  It looked like a bunch of insect bites, but it wasn't.  It was a rash that covered her entire face.  She also was exhibiting signs of regression again, but this time it was much worse.  Since it had been 8 months since she has had anything containing sugar, gluten, or dairy, all of her pre-diet change symptoms had come back full force.  She wasn't making eye contact, she wasn't speaking words (only gibberish), and she was flapping her hands again.  She also was very constipated (and she hasn't had any trouble with constipation since December of last year).  After 3 very bad days and a lot of strange symptoms (scratching her face, legs, and arms, extreme clumsiness, restlessness), she pooped.  and a lot of it.  It was the worst smelling stuff I have ever smelled.  So here we are, 6 days later, and she slept 12 hours straight.  She still seems a little fuzzy when we go over her alphabet, but she is definitely better than she was than the day after she ate the cookie.

While trying as this time was, I can't help but thank God that it did happen because it only reaffirms that what we are doing here with Claire is working.  So, for this minor setback, I am truly grateful.  :) That's all for now!

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Update! Our first ever vacation!

RECAP for anyone new to the blog.   In October of 2012, we realized that Claire was not reaching the normal milestones for kids her age. She wasn't talking at all, she wouldn't make eye contact, she didn't sleep all night and often woke up with horrible night terrors, she only ate specific foods (anything sweet, cheese, cheerios, bread, raisins, turkey loaf, and that's about it!!), she pulled awful tantrums that lasted hours on end, and she had a horrible immune system.  So, I decided to do as much research about this as possible.  I read tons and tons of books, forums, blogs, you name it!   We immediately cut out all bread and dairy.  Within two weeks, we noticed immediate results.  So we kept it up.  Then we started the GAPS diet (Gut And Psychology Syndrome).

Here we are 7 months and one day later!!!!  At the beginning of this month, Dietrich, Claire, Ethan, and I flew from Dallas to San Francisco for a family reunion.   Considering the circumstances of the trip alone (Waking up early, our flight being delayed 4 hours, riding the shuttle during rush hour), Claire did AMAZING.  She was sleepy, but up until the day we flew home, she was calm, pleasant, and overall a happy little girl.  She enjoyed seeing the beach for the first time, loved the walks, the scenery, and most of all, the fresh food!! She even visited with everyone in the house telling them "hi" and "bye" appropriately.  I was sooo proud of her.  She took a special liking to her Great Uncle Mark who she met for the first time that week.  She played with him and showed him her flash cards.   God is definitely healing her!  Since my last blog post, Claire has started spelling words out loud  enunciating her ABC'S (The letters don't sound as scrambled as they did when she first started saying them), she can recognize a square, circle, triangle, and rectangle.  She openly gives affection to her Oma, Opa, Pa Pa Hut, Grammy, GiGi, and Uncle Jonny.

She fights over toys with her brother, but is learning to share here and there.  Aside from her vocabulary (which is steadily improving every day), and her sensitivity to Ethan's loud screaming, she is almost unrecognizable amongst her peers as being behind developmentally and socially.  She laughs when she should, shows emotion and recognizes emotion, and is eating more and more new (healthy) foods every week.  She wakes me up every morning with a smile on her face and a sweet little " Hi" or "hello".  She hugs me tightly before pulling me to the kitchen to make her breakfast.  I love my little girl so much.  I am taking her to see her very first movie this week! I will blog about the experience (even though I know it's going to be a good one!!).

Here are some pictures from our trip:

Sleeping on the plane

Strutting across the yard

Enjoying the view with her Auntie Gretchen

Her first time to see the ocean

Picking flowers in the garden at the house we were staying at

She got soaked when the tide came up!

Friday, April 5, 2013

GAPS diet, here we come!!!

Here we are, 4 months and 1 week post gluten-free, dairy-free, and sugar-free diet.   When we first started this diet, I expected to see immediate results.  Little did I know that cutting out those foods would cause Claire to be even worse! At first!   Looking back, it seems like it was just yesterday that I was trying to persuade Claire to eat her peas and she screamed at me for bread and cheese or cheerios.  Lots of tears and prayers happened those first few weeks, but here we are, four months later, and wow! What a turnaround my sweet baby Claire has made!!!!!

First, it's been well over 3 months since she's had a horrible temper tantrum breakdown like the ones she was having daily pre-diet.  She knows when she's doing something wrong now and often responds like a normal toddler would when being told no (with a look to see if mama or daddy are looking to see if the coast is clear to do it again anyways).  She will sometimes squeal or yell to show her anger at being thwarted, but quickly goes on to play with something else.  This is a HUGE deal for Claire because before, it was like she had no control over emotions and would scream before I even attempted to explain to her why she wasn't allowed to do what she was doing.

Okay, next!!!  (and be prepared because this list is a long one!!! Thank you God!!!)

Claire's noise sensitivity has improved SOOOO much that we are actually taking a road trip to visit my sister-in-law in San Antonio to meet our new baby niece!   In November, we were supposed to make the drive there to have dinner with our family for Thanksgiving but cancelled because of Claire's horrible tantrums and noise sensitivity to Ethan's cries.  I honestly thought we would never be able to leave our house again with both kids in the car because of how badly Claire would freak out and hit herself in the face.  Now, if he starts fussing in the car, she will quietly play with her books occasionally glancing over at him and sometimes even handing him a toy to hopefully quiet him down.  Praise God for this!!!!!   We are also flying out to California in June for a family reunion and this also is something I never imagined doing with Claire 5 months ago.

Next, Claire rarely EVER wakes up in the middle of the night anymore.  A few weeks ago,  she did get a hold of some sugar and/or chocolate by accident at a family gathering and woke up that night with what we can only describe as a night terror.  She was crying and screaming and did this for 45 minutes.  But in light of this disastrous night, I realized that this diet is definitely working for Claire and that I know I'm doing the right thing by eliminating those foods. People often say things like " aww, but she's missing out on snacks and candies and can't she just have one or two pieces of this or that?"  My answer is NO she can't.  It physically HURTS her to have this stuff!!!!!   That night was my proof and if I would have been able to, I would have gotten it on camera just to show people what it does to her.

Anyway, back on the topic of sleep.  Claire sleeps a good 10-12 hours straight through at night now.  She wakes up happy and plays with her toys as soon as she wakes up.  Before this diet, she would cry when she woke up for me to get her out of bed because she was scared.  But not anymore!!!

Okay, this one is a big update!  Claire will now give me and Dietrich both hugs without us making her! She likes showing affection to us and will also give me a hug after me only asking her to!  She runs to me and hugs me for as long as I want.  SHe used to push away from me hugging her and didn't like anyone showing her affection.  Now, she lets just about anyone hug on her.  She also let my mom play with her and hug and throw her up in the air. Claire has also made a friend with my friend Katelynd's daughter Brynleigh!  They play together, share toys, share snacks, and watch cartoons together.  Claire laughs at her and I even find her just staring at her and just being fascinated with her.  She's becoming social and making friends!!!!   She even plays with Ethan and I often see her giving him a toy :)

Our next step in this journey is to start the GAPS diet.  We found a wonderful GAPS specialist in Mineola who owns and runs her own organic farm.  This woman is amazing and gave us the GAPS book and workbook and is teaching us so many things that will help Claire and us become even healthier!   I will definitely post updates once we start the GAPS diet along with some of the new foods we are going to try.  Pray for us as we start this new diet.  I know it will be tough at first, but it's going to be so good for Claire!!!!

Here's a video of her laughing and playing with her friend Brynleigh:

Here are some pictures of her
Letting GiGi throw her in the air 

Playing with her GiGi

Jumping with Brynleigh
Laughing Girls!

Hugging Daddy while Ethan tickles her

Playing guitar with Daddy

Playing with her brother and sharing 

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

It's been awhile...

We have had an eventful last few months.  For one, Claire caught the flu.  She was sick for over two weeks and came down with a double ear infection.  Ethan also broke his first two teeth.  Needless to say, we didn't get much sleep!   But alas!  Good news and positive updates!

First of all, Claire's stimming behavior has reduced DRAMATICALLY!  She can easily play with a toy now like a normal kid would and not just line the toys up or flap her hands at it.

She has also started laughing when something funny happens on a cartoon.  She has her bad days during a yeast die-off but always comes out of the bad days with an even better day.

Okay, before November 29th, Claire's vocabulary was NOTHING.  She couldn't play catch, slide on a slide, make eye contact, say hello or goodbye, sleep in her toddler bed, handle ethan so much as whimpering without erupting in a horrible never ending tantrum, or do hardly anything for herself.  I'm going to try and list all of her improvements but there are so many that I may not list them all.

First, a list of words she has learned to say:

thank you
momma (hoorayyy!!!!)
move back

Now, this may not seem like much, but to us (and Claire), this is HUGE!

She has also learned to slide down the big slides at the park all by herself, get onto and jump on the trampoline, see-saw, ride around in her truck, play basketball and actually shoot the ball towards and sometimes into the goal, play catch, point at things in her book and try to repeat what we tell her they are, and as of yesterday she can COUNT TO 10!!!  Yes! MY darling Claire can count to 10.  I never thought she would learn this much so quickly, but after only two days of watching a cartoon by Leap Frog, she has learned to count to 10.  Of course,  I can hardly get her to do it on command, but nevertheless  she's able to count to 10 on her own.

She can say "Hi" to her daddy when he gets home from work, "Bye" when leaving anyone's house or when anyone leaves our house, she sometimes says thank you without having to be asked to say thank you, and she plays with her cell phone up to her ear talking (before, she would never know that's what it was for, but she has learned that's what it is--she's had this toy for 2 years).

Also! After her bout with the flu, she had spent an entire week sick in our bed.  We decided to try letting her sleep in her toddler bed.  She has done GREAT sleeping in it!! We even got her her first big girl comforter and sheet set for her big girl bed.  THis milestone was one that I didn't see happening for a long time since up until this point, we didn't think she would mind us and stay in her bed.  But, she has done been sleeping in her big girl bed since December!!!!!

As of now, she's still taking the digestive enzyme before every meal, she's taking 500-1000 mg of vitamin C per day, and when I remember to give it to her, probiotics once a day to help her with yeast.  She's also still on the GFCF diet.  Her eye contact has gotten SOOOOO much better.  I know we still have a long ways to go, but I recently started reading a book called "Healing the New Childhood Epidemics Autism, ADHD, Asthma, and Allergies by DR. Kenneth Bock and these recovery stories I'm reading are soo very encouraging.  They made me realize that this is going to take time and patience but when I put it down in writing, I can see that Claire has already improved so much!!

We have had a couple of setbacks in that we learned we have been giving her milk and toothpaste containing a thickening ingredient called carrageenan, which can cause the digestive tract to be inflamed and damage the immune system by not allowing the stomach to properly absorb nutrients.  We immediately cut everything out that contained this and we are hoping this will help her too.  I'm learning in the books i'm reading of new therapies and supplementation that can help too.  The information I'm taking in has been a blessing and a bit overwhelming.  A lot of people don't agree with what I'm doing here and think that Claire was simply born this way and the only thing that can be done for her is to accept her the way she is and love her the best we can, and that the stuff I'm doing won't help.  But obviously from the amazing improvements she has made in such a short period of time with nothing but diet change is PROOF and NOT coincidence that she is getting better and I have all the faith in the world in her and the things that I'm learning and applying that she will come out of the fog and one day be unrecognizable as having autism.  This is my vow to her that I will do everything in my power to help her out of the fog in her mind and help restore the good things in her mind and body that will help her to feel better.  

And on that note, here's a short video of Claire speaking a couple of words after she brought me her shoes and told me "outside"

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Simply Well

Today was yet another good day.  We made a trip to Flower Mound to see a woman who does muscle testing.  I was very nervous about not only the trip, but about how we were going to get Claire to sit through the testing.

The drive down there took longer than expected because of TONS of road work.  But, both kids were pretty cooperative!!!!

Once we got there and inside, everything just fell into place.  The woman who performed the muscle testing for allergies was SOOO nice, mellow, and very good with Claire.  Now usually, when we go to a new place for the first time, Claire gets extremely over-excited, hyper, and talks a LOT of jibberish.  But, not today!  She was calm, quiet, and walked right into this woman's house without a fuss!!!

Once we got into the room where the test was going to be performed, Melanie (the founder of Simply Well) had a DVD player ready for us to put a movie in for Claire and a cute little comfy kid-sized chair for Claire to sit in.  Claire sat in the chair and hardly moved at all the entire time we were there (which was over an hour!!).  Claire let her hold her hand and do the test without a single fuss.  We had such a lovely time and I was SOO impressed with Claire's behavior!!   I honestly don't think she would have behaved this way a month ago.

Some amazing things are happening to Claire.  Here are a couple of pictures of the kids from their very first "trip" :-)  Will blog the results of Claire's test as soon as I get them!