Sunday, June 22, 2014

Meet the Hobbits

I'm Mama Hobbit. Before I had the Most Important Job In The World I was an environmental engineer. My favorite things are books, hiking, and avoiding housework.

The Gaffer is our resident tech genius, in addition to being a wonderful husband and father. He decided that working on top secret anti-missile radar systems was too boring and taught himself how to do amazing things with mobile phone apps. This career change ended up moving the family 2,000 miles north to the magical land of Seattle, where we love the weather and the landscapes but hate being so far from family. Gaffer's favorite things are video games and fun new gadgets.

Merry, Pippin and Bella* are the little hobbits. Merry is starting kindergarten this year (2016), Pip is tackling preschool at full tilt as he approaches 3 years, and Bella is the baby (literally for the moment, but we all know it's always going to be the case in some way). 

This blog originally started out as a way to process Merry's autism diagnosis. But while that's always going to be A Thing, it's only one of many things, and now I'm using Adventures as a way to keep myself writing until I have the mental space and time to attempt something more ambitious. This is a bare bones place; I'm not tech savvy and don't intend to spend much time worrying over format and why that font/spacing/photo looks weird. But welcome to those who wander through this little corner of the internet. Feel free to stay for awhile, put up your feet, and sip your beverage of choice. 

*Belladonna Took was Bilbo's mother, if anyone's wondering where the Tolkien reference is on that one

Saturday, June 14, 2014

GFCF Fears

When we first considered putting Sam on a GFCF diet, I was terrified. Not just anxious or uncertain, but gut-wrenching, weak-kneed, "I can't do this" terrified at the very thought.

There was the initial fear of change--a special diet means extra work, more expensive food, and I was already feeling overwhelmed. But it was more than that. 

Because we hadn't had much luck getting Sam to eat meat, at least 50% of his protein came from dairy. How could I get him enough protein to grow and develop properly if we cut it out? And calcium, and all of the nutrients that he usually got from whole wheat products, would we be able to replace those?

Nutrition aside, I also worried about the long-term effects of removing gluten and dairy from Sam's diet. Would he loose the ability to digest lactose? Would I be inducing lactose intolerance in my son, on the off chance that this scientifically questionable diet might help? And I've heard stories from non-celiac moms who'd gone gluten free and claimed that they became more and more sensitive to the occasional slip-up or splurge the longer they were off gluten. What if just trying the experiment caused long term damage?

Some of it was a social fear. (and social anxieties run far too deep in my awkward psyche anyway) I didn't want to be "that mom", the one that insisted on special treatment, that threw a wrench in the smooth workings of snack time and lunch, making life more complicated for everyone. This is terrible, and I was ashamed to feel this way. For one thing, the bitchy entitled "no gluten, dairy, eggs, soy, meat, processed sugar, or the color red for my little darling" mom is pretty much an internet strawman as far as I know. Every woman I've met who had special dietary needs for herself or her kids has been wonderful about it, very helpful and accommodating, not to mention being unusually kind and helpful ladies overall. And for the kids with life-threatening allergies? Yeah, some things are more important than playing nice all the time. But it would be hard for me, personally. So, more fear.

However, I seemed to be the only one with these kind of deep-seated reservations. Sam's pediatrician gave us the green light, half the moms at school seemed to be doing it, and the Gaffer pointed out that if there was a possibility of improvement, how could we not at least try? What if part of Sam's problem was pain and discomfort that he had no ability to communicate? So I put the various fears into perspective and we jumped in.

So far, GFCF does seem to be helping. Sam's digestion is better, his behavior is better, and the switch turned out to be way less difficult than I expected. I'm not ignoring all my reservations; some are definitely worth considering and I'll write more about them later. But as with many things in life, the fear was far worse than the thing itself. 

Tuesday, June 10, 2014


Starting another blog. Maybe a good idea? I'm having a hard time finding the information I want about GFCF diets for kids on the autism spectrum, (well, hard for the digital age where I'm spoiled by instant information on everything) so maybe blogging about our experiences with Autism Spectrum Disorder will help. Help with the diet, the whole experience, maybe my limited sanity? 

So many difficult things about The Diet. Sam has a pretty limited range of foods as it is, so taking out an entire food group and our main staple from a second complicates things even more. Before the question was "is he getting enough nutrition?" Now it's "is he avoiding this loooong list of forbidden foods and getting enough nutrition? And is this huge, heavy burden of a special diet making enough difference to be worth it?"

On top of that, there's the questionable science of the whole idea. A recent review of the research showed no good evidence of improvement from a GFCF diet (, but simultaneously concluded that there hasn't been much good research on the question yet. So we tried it just in case and (spoiler alert!) we're pretty sure that it is improving things. Placebo effect? On one level I don't care if it's placebo or real, anything for the desperate, but on another level I have to investigate and examine.