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    Tics: There and Back Again {Part V}

    February 16, 2008 by Brandy Vencel

    I know you all think I’m a baby for crying about this, but I was simply overwhelmed. I had spent a lot of time {as in years} figuring out a way for us to eat nutritious food as inexpensively as possible. To find out that most of my cooking was {1} contributing to the problem and {2} not going to work anymore sent me over the edge.

    Like I always do when I hit a breaking point, I cry off and on for about 24 hours, and then I am fine. Si is always bewildered by this behavior, but it works for me.

    After this, I became Mama On A Mission. And I’ve been on a mission ever since.

    First, I experimented. Was it really wheat? Um…most emphatically yes. Feed him a slice a bread, and watch him lose control. Take him back off, and again he is fine. Of course, he was still off of all artificial flavors, colors and preservatives. He was still off of all cow’s milk products, though he does fine with goat, sheep, etc. This kid’s food is the epitome of pure. On a given day, if he is having tics, I can trace it to some food he was fed that had a label I wasn’t completely confident about.

    I don’t know if this is permanent. Will he outgrow it? Or will he need to watch his food for the rest of his life? I don’t know, but my hunch is that I need to pray he finds a wife that loves cooking and isn’t afraid of alternative grains.

    One of the best books I have read during this time is a cookbook, actually, and yet so much more than a cookbook. It is, in fact, my new best friend and we spend a lot of time together throughout the week. Care to meet her?

    Nourishing Traditions:
    The Cookbook that Challenges Politically Correct Nutrition
    and the Diet Dictocrats

    The first quarter or so of this “cookbook” is actually more of a primer on nutrition based on research done on native diets, long-lived people groups, etc. It was fascinating, to say the least. This book was a great match for me because I learned a few tricks to enhance the nutrition of foods we already eat. It also has a quick reference page that teaches a person how to use alternative grains in almost any recipe within the book.

    My son doesn’t eat wheat. Actually, none of us really do because I cook the same thing for all of us. But he is learning to eat teff, amaranth, buckwheat, corn, tapioca, and arrowroot.

    I have also determined that this situation is not a simple wheat allergy, but all gluten. This means barley, rye, and most oats are also off-limits. While testing E. for gluten issues, I also tested A. Turns out, A.’s tummy trouble, compulsive thumb sucking, and certain other strange behaviors also quickly evaporated on a gluten-free, casein-free diet!

    While on our trip to Nashville, it became clear that both E. and A. are also quite sensitive to soy {which is one of the major allergens in this world}. I had been watching for it thanks to this book:

    Unraveling the Mystery of Autism and Pervasive Developmental Disorder

    It’s inspiring, and it also has helped our own family. Now my nephew, who was born with birth defects and has had need for ABA therapy due to serious behavior issues is a different person! My sister says that going GFCF has given her family their life back.

    So, this is now our life. We eat at home, I cook from scratch, and E. is completely free of tics. And, as and aside, I thought I’d mention that E. and A. both had mysterious mild yet chronic tummy aches that have also disappeared.

    All of this was done…

    Without drugs.

    Without expensive tests.

    Without preschool.

    So I have some final thoughts for parents whose children have strange problems. I am not anti-medicine. I believe doctoring, like other trades, has its place. If I break my arm, I want to see a doctor, not a nutritionist. However, modern medicine has a view of the person that is, in my opinion, quite myopic. This is why parents must read and learn and think through a child’s problem. No one knows that child better than you.

    Also, don’t be afraid of finding a different venue for checking out your child. For instance, if the doctor wants to put the child under to perform an EEG, sometimes a similar test can be done while awake by a biofeedback technician. If you are concerned about a brain tumor, talk with your optometrist first. Ours dilated our son’s eyes and checked for a number of signs of tumors and neurological distress.

    Get creative. A nutritionist, an optometrist, a dentist {teeth can reveal a lot about a person’s general health}–all have a different perspective and can help you develop a picture of the whole child and where various problems or contributing factors might lie.

    All of this began, for us, in a single day. Here we are now, a year and a half later, and we are practically normal {except for our eating habits}, and so much wiser.

    God has answered our prayers. Our son is healthy, strong, functioning, and growing.

    Read Part I
    Read Part II
    Read Part III
    Read Part IV

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  • Reply Brandy September 9, 2008 at 1:41 am

    Emily, I don’t have the time I usually do to help you really get started, but I do have a moment to offer encouragement! 🙂 I will honestly say that I don’t know if eating this way will help you. It just depends on whether allergies and food reactions are the source of the problem or not. For us, they definitely were.

    We loved dairy and gluten. (I still do! Sometimes Si and I order pizza after the kids go to bed…he he he.) But the change has been worth it. E.’s tics were so bad that he was unable to live life as a normal child. This was a huge motivation to do what it took.

    And actually our daughter A. has the same allergies (though not tics–different responses), and she, too, had amazing results.

    I would say a three-week trial will tell you what you need to know. You could try looking at my GFCF meals plans to get ideas on what to cook. Becoming best friends with potatoes and rice is key. 🙂

    The hardest part is giving up fast food. We didn’t eat out a whole lot because we couldn’t afford it, but every Friday we either had a frozen pizza or ordered out. It was SO hard for me to give up that break. I’ve since learned to make a big meal on Thursday and eat leftovers on Friday, but it took a while to get in that groove.

    I will be praying for you. In a few weeks, I’ll be able to help you if you still need it! Just let me know.

  • Reply Lift Up Your Hearts September 8, 2008 at 11:25 pm

    I realize you have a newborn (!!) and don’t have time to answer questions about this right now. The reason Lynette actually first mentioned your blog to me is that one of my sons has issues with tics. So do I (have since childhood). I am so curious whether this would help us as well. I’m also very *afraid* of taking on such a HUGE dietary change. We eat gluten. We eat dairy. We eat artificial flavorings and colors. We eat fast food. We are well-acquainted, I’m afraid, with the SAD. I will need to be in much prayer and probably research and planning.

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