Thursday, June 7, 2012

Digestive disorders

I always worry about posting too close together, but I've got a number of blog posts that I just had to write all ready to go and not posting until Monday is going to be a chore. So I'll give in. :)

I went blog hopping this morning (in a sense). I wanted to check on Life With My Aspie to see if she had gotten my message. Blogs aren't good for passing messages when you really want to talk to someone. But she got the message! Thanks!

Then I checked out the others who had followed the blog and found another friend--small world--and found that she has Celiacs, which means (in short) she can't have wheat products.

Have you ever looked at the ingredients list for anything you buy from the store? Flour (i.e., gluten) and dairy. Flour and dairy. Even in the cat food, which is disgusting. They're not vegetarians, people!

But the point is that digestive problems are rampant. We had an interview for WritingSnippets last week with a lady who has Celiacs. And of course I brought chocolate, which usually has flour in it. If I'd known in advance I could have brought something else, but I read the e-mail as I was rushing out the door.

And the hostess made a salad but used a commercial dressing. It's not easy.

I know several other people who have Celiacs and (here's the thing that brings it all together) several of them also have Autism.

People with Autism (which is a spectrum disorder and includes those with Asbergers) often have digestive problems. Celiacs disease is one of the most common. Another is a diary alergy. Put those together, you have vomiting, cramps, running at both ends, and doctors don't think to diagnose it. It's just "the way it is."

Dealing with an autistic child can be challenging enough without having to comfort one who's always sick.

You learn to adjust. One mother took her son entirely off dairy, and noticed a measurable improvement. The mother of another child has him on a "predigested" diet, which means everything is not only in small pieces but actually ground up. Without wheat or dairy. Since his digestive problems have started to clear up, he's improving. (He turned and looked at me the other day when I said his name. Actually looked AT me, met my eyes!) A third is strongly Celiacs and even the tiniest hint of gluten ties his stomach in knots. His parents carry gluten-free snacks for him so he can have his treat when the other children do.

It leads to another question. The sudden increase in digestive disorders has popped up in the last fifty years or so. Prior to that we were eating a diet of mainly organic foods--lots of greens, preserves, freshly slaughtered meats, kitchen garden produce when available. Most people didn't eat huge amounts of dairy simply because it wasn't available. Wheat was important, but only a small part of the overall diet.

Since they started putting preservatives in the food (a particular pet-peeve of mine) lots of things have started cropping up that just weren't serious problems three generations ago.

So here's a list:

Chew your food very small. That's what your teeth are for.
If you have digestive problems, try removing one thing from your diet at a time for at least a week. Preferably a month. Keep a food journal and write down whether there are fewer "incidents" in a day. This is going to be a challenge if the person in question is autistic because they need stability. So take it slow.
Eat more from the produce aisle
Grow a garden if it's possible. You have no idea how much better something tastes picked fresh.
Use substitutions. Sliced zuccinni can be used in place of noodles in lasagna or pizza.
If cheese is a staple (as it is in my family) consider going to goat cheese if you can.
Remember that soy is also a common alergen.

And last, do NOT ever assume that stomach pain is inevitable. It's usually a symptom. Find out what your body is trying to tell you, rather than telling it to shut up.

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