First of all, I want to introduce you to my friend, Deanna! She's going to be contributing to some of the nutrition posts and sharing some recipes! Deanna and I met while she and her husband were adopting their adorable little guy Aleck (during our adoption of Sofia). I love the post she just wrote called "Food Revolution." Just like she says, we must be long lost sisters! Our views on nutrition, along with our lifestyle and how we carry out our nutritional hopes in day to day life are very similar! Please check out her recent post here! I find myself nodding in agreement with her with many of the posts she writes, this one especially! I like how she described her family as not being over the top nutritional foodies (LOL), but just trying to make good decisions and balancing all of that with the time we need for other aspects of our lives! I completely agree! We aren't the family who never lets out kids eat ice cream or have a special treat in moderation, but we do pay very close attention to what our children eat!
Secondly, if you're looking at making some lifestyle changes, I suggest reading "Nourishing Traditions: The Cookbook that Challenges Politically Correct Nutrition and the Diet Dictocrats" by Sally Fallon. This book is a great resource to help people move back toward eating God-made foods...foods that were meant to heal and nourish our bodies!
I won’t go into all the details here, but this is a great article to read that tells how nutritional needs of people with Down Syndrome differ from others. http://einstein-syndrome.com/health_medical/feeding_an_infant/
I have learned a lot from this blog as well! It is an AWESOME resources for parents of kiddos with Down Syndrome who are interested in how nutrition can affect our children!! http://dsdaytoday.blogspot.com/ Remember all the new information can be overwhelming so don't try to tackle everything at once. Pick one change for your family and try it out...little by little!
Foods we avoid:
Cow’s Milk: We decided right off the bat with Zoya to avoid cow’s milk. I had done a lot of research on cow’s milk in general and also found that there is a higher incidence of people with Down Syndrome being intolerant to cow’s milk. There are connections between cow’s milk and a higher rate of ear infections in the general population. Kids with Down Syndrome typically have much smaller ear canals, thus making it even easier to get ear infections and have Eustachian tube dysfunction causing fluid in the ears. This blog post THIS BLOG POST (click) explains the connection pretty well and gives some more information on some of the reasons we cut out cow’s milk. Cow’s milk is one of the foods I cut out of my diet during my “recovery” as well and this helped me to make the same decision for Zoya. Since Zoya was nearly 2 when she came home, we put her right on almond milk. I wish I would have known then what I know now, but thankfully Zoya was healthy enough that my lack of knowledge didn’t make a huge difference! They do eat some foods with milk as an ingredient in moderation (they are not 100% dairy free), but they never drink cow’s milk. We try to substitute things such as almond yogurt for regular yogurt and goat milk, almond milk or coconut milk for cow’s milk (for both drinking and recipes). I can tell you that none of my girls has ever had an ear infection (knock on wood!)
Gluten: Celiac’s Disease is also more prevalent in the Down Syndrome population. Zoya’s blood test came back negative. However, she was having many bowel issues and at the suggestion of our Nutritional Response Tester, we did a gluten free trial to see if it would clear up her bowel issues. Not only did her bowel issues completely disappear, but her behavior DRASTICALLY improved with the elimination of gluten! Some people will swear that food does not affect behavior, but we are living proof that for SOME KIDS food REALLY affects behavior! Many people mentioned to us how Zoya's behavior had really started improving as soon as we cut gluten out of her diet (these people didn't know we had made that diet change for her either!). I can tell a huge difference between "food behaviors" and "defiant/purposeful behaviors" which is also important. When I see food related behaviors it's almost as if she just can't control her impulses (more so than normal!).
A neat little sign that some people who are gluten intolerant will have is called BRALY'S sign. Zoya has the tiniest little shortest pinkies ever! I will have to take a picture of them! I thought maybe it was connected to Down Syndrome, but Mila and Sofia both have normal length pinkies! We decided to follow the same guidelines with Mila and Sofia, anyways, because we know the overall benefits are great. Lots of packaged foods contain gluten, so by eliminating it, we also eliminate many processed foods which contain other less-than-desirable ingredients as well.
Here is a great article on gluten: HERE IS A GREAT ARTICLE ON GLUTEN (I am about 90% gluten free as well. I just eliminated gluten completely for 30 days and I did feel as if I had more energy! The only times I do eat gluten are really only on special occasions, at gatherings, or just here and there if there is something I wish to indulge in-in moderation of course. When I started my food journey I cut out a lot of carbohydrates, sugars, and a large percentage of gluten-containing-foods and I attribute that diet change, in part, to my health improving so greatly).
Our girls are rarely sick with colds/viruses/bacterial infections and I truly believe that their clean eating contributes greatly to this (and the immune systems of steal they inherited from Ukraine don’t hurt either!).
That is what they don’t eat….and in the next post I’ll talk more about what they do eat and what supplements we use! If you're thinking about making a change, start small...experiment with almond milk or coconut milk (if your child is not an infant), try out a recipe with a gluten free flour. It's really hard when you dive in 100%...when people do this, it tends to not last as a lifestyle change because it seems so overwhelming, so I really suggest making very small changes over time!
Please feel free to leave any questions in the comments section! I'd love to hear from other mama's who are thinking about making, or have made similar food eliminations and hear how your kids have been affected!