Ending the Food Rut

October 1, 2010 at 4:28 pm | Posted in Recipes, Staples, YUM | Leave a comment
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By Shannon Penrod

I’m a big fan of eating seasonally.  I starting eating seasonally out of financial necessity as a college student.  Food is expensive, but I learned as a college sophomore that I could go to the local farmer’s market and get more food than I  could carry for under $15.  I bought what the farmer’s had in bulk, because it was cheap.  At the time I didn’t understand or appreciate that it was also what was in season and what was going to packed with the most nutrients.  Now as a mom I have a greater appreciation for the nutritional facts of eating seasonally.  But beyond the nutrition there is also an emotional element.  When you eat seasonally you end the food rut.

I don’t know about you but as much as I love food sometimes I get in a food rut, and my child definitely gets in a food rut.  When something tastes good and I know he will eat it I tend to give it to him over and over again.  We all know that eating the same thing day in and day out is not ideal.  Even my son now says to me, “Mom, we need to eat the rainbow!”  Isn’t it nice when they parrot back the lessons that you have tried to instill in them as if they invented it!  Eating the same thing over and over can create food sensitivities or even food allergies.  So it is important to eat a variety of foods.  Eating seasonally helps you to automatically rotate your food.

Our bodies often tell us it’s time to change foods, but our brains don’t always listen.  Last week my son informed me that he wanted pumpkin pie for dinner!  I totally shut him down at the time and then started thinking about it but he’s right it is pumpkin time!  His body is asking for beta carotene and a more carbs because it’s fall and that’s what it should be asking for.  My husband asked for pea soup the other day.  At the time I thought he was crazy!  It was a 113 degrees, record breaking heat for Los Angeles at the end of September, so my head was saying, “Summer!” and thinking about gazpacho, but in reality my husband’s stomach was right, it’s fall! 

Fall seasonal foods happen to be yummy, so now is a great time to take advantage and eat seasonally.  The colors tend towards more red and orange, but there are still some great greens at this time of year.  Our family loves to enjoy red and orange peppers this time of year – make every attempt to eat these organically.  Pumpkins and fall squashes like acorn, butternut and even spaghetti squash are great right now.  If you are buying pumpkins to eat make sure you get “cooking” pumpkins rather than a “carving” pumpkin!  Some pumpkin patches will carry both and stores like Whole Foods Market will clearly mark cooking pumpkins.  If you’ve only ever eaten canned pumpkin treat yourself to the real deal, you won’t believe the difference.

I love to cook acorn squash in the oven by simply slicing it in half and throwing it on a baking sheet face down and baking at 350 until I can easily pierce it with a fork.  I let the squash cool and then flip it to scoop out the seeds.  I sprinkle a little salt, a little olive oil and I have an easy, nutritious, inexpensive, seasonal side dish.  Did I mention it tastes good? It’s serious comfort food, and kids love being able to scoop the squash out to create a boat on their plate.

This week my son and I have big plans to cook a squash stew inside a pumpkin.  We will throw all of the fresh, seasonal veggies we get from the farmer’s market into a pumpkin and bake the whole thing on low heat until it’s bubbly.  Yum.  Eat seasonally it’s a worthwile adventure.

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Yeast, Autism and Sugar, Connecting the Dots

May 6, 2010 at 9:30 pm | Posted in Birthday Parties, GFCF, Yeast | 2 Comments
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By Shannon Penrod

I’m very fond of saying, “I’m not an Autism expert but I’m an expert in my kid.”  One thing I know for sure, my child’s Autism is related to yeast.  I don’t need to argue it, you don’t have to believe me, but I know it’s true for my child.  I don’t know what’s true for your child.  I know that my child was a normally developing child until he had his first infection and took his first antibiotic.  Then he began to lose language like water running through a sieve.  As a parent it was like watching a car accident in slow motion.  We have been putting the pieces back together ever since. 

We have been extremely lucky; we have a luscious little boy who is a social butterfly, is academically on target and has a divine sense of humor.  However, our son’s ability to connect with the world came at a cost.  There have been countless hours of ABA therapy which have made all the difference in the world, but I can tell you honestly that when my son’s diet isn’t right there is no amount of therapy that can reach him.  At first I thought “diet” just meant GFCF.  Then I realised that I needed to remove potatoes, then corn, that’s when I read about the Specific Carbohydrate Diet.  Since then a lot of foods have been sidelined from my child’s diet.  Here’s the bottom line, anything that can convert to sugar in my child’s system leads to erratic, compulsive, crazy behavior.  Give my kid an orange and one hour later he’s like a drunk who stayed at the party way too long.  Sometimes he is the happy drunk, other times maudlin, or aggressive, or simply “checked out”. 

Sugar feeds yeast.  Yeast is a living thing, it grows when fed.  Here is sucky part, if you don’t feed it, it grows too.  If you starve yeast it grows in an attempt to save it’s self.  This is known as “die off”.  It’s why when you pull sugar out of your kid’s diet they are even more miserable for a while.  It’s hard enough to make the decision to limit your child’s diet and to prevent them from having all the “fun” crap (this is the appropriate technical term for non nutritive, colorful, sugar laden food) that we all enjoyed as kids, it is even harder to stick to the decision when your child’s behavior worsens as a result.  I know for me it was the seventh ring of hell.  Fortunately when I was at the end of my rope, a friend explained die off to me and told me to hang on a little longer.  Four days later I was able to have my first conversation with my child.  I can tell you that there is nothing better than being able to converse with my child.  Sure there is always a moment at birthday parties when they haul out the cake and I have a twinge of regret that my child doesn’t get to participate in the fun.  But then I thank God for the fact that it isn’t a peanut allergy and I remind myself that he can have his cake or he can be a part of the world around him.  That’s when I hand him a gluten free, sugar free cookie with no artificial sweeteners or colors and I watch him talk to his friends. 

It took me a long time to connect the dots but I’m glad I did.  If yeast is an issue for you, I strongly urge you to look at the sugars (natural and otherwise) in your child’s diet.

Shannon Penrod is the host of Everyday Autism Miracles on the HerInsight Network.  She is an author, speaker and coach and most importantly the mother of a six year old recovering from Autism.  You can subscribe to the free podcast of Everyday Autism miracles on iTunes or download it here.

The Never Ending Yeast Issue

May 14, 2009 at 4:30 am | Posted in Yeast | 2 Comments
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By Shannon Penrod

Some days it seems like my life revolves around yeast.  To someone outside the Autism community that probably conjures up visions of fresh baked bread.  Sometimes my home yeastsmells like fresh baked bread but it is because of the smell of my son’s head –not some fluffy concoction baking in the oven.  People think I’m crazy when I first tell them that my kid smells like bread, and then they smell it.  Of course some days he smells like brandy, but usually you can see it on him before you even smell him.  He acts like he’s drunk.  Imagine hanging out with a drunken kindergartener, and trying to teach them how to hold a pencil!  That’s just 68 kinds of fun!

There are lots of theories on controlling yeast, I am a huge fan of attacking and maintaining yeast through diet.  Last summer when we had reached a plateau I agreed to put Jem on Diflucan.  I’m not a fan of putting more things into his body. I personally have a hard time taking even Tylenol, so putting my kid on medicine that has some potentially harmful effects…not my favorite thing.  Still, sometimes you get to a point where you give a little.  I’m glad we did.  It took two courses of Diflucan (along with an antibiotic) and Jem was a different child.  The entire summer was one long die off hell, but about a week before Kindergarten started my child was returned to me in a way that he never had been before.

We have coasted most of the year on the benefits of that de-yeasting, maintaining with a really restricted diet and probiotics.  Now as the summer approaches I am looking at digestive enzymes and it’s making sense, for my entire family.  I don’t know where the money for that will come, but I know that it will. 

I have to remind myself that Jem is doing remarkably well.  I attribute a lot of it to diet and to his ABA therapies from CARD.  But there are sometimes when the Biomedical aspect is also important, I’m trying to find peace with that.  My friends who are into the Biomedical stuff shake their heads at me, I’m an anomaly, I am willing to do whatever I have to diet wise, but I struggle with the supplements.  I guess we all have our comfort zones.  Where yeast is concerned, mine continues to grow – pun intended.

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