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Me and my very good friend, Terri Hirning. She was initially my client (as a go-getter autism parent), became one of my most trusted mom friends, and now she’s an amazing practitioner helping families. I’m blessed to have met her.

Today’s my birthday!

As I reflect on my 48 years on this planet, I want to share what’s in my heart.

I’m so grateful for all of my autism parents.

My life is so significantly enriched with you in it.

You are brave.

You are real.

You are aware and open-minded.

You are loving.

You are strong.

You inspire me every day.

What could be better than spending my days supporting you… and learning from you.

I’m grateful.

Life isn’t always easy. We all have our struggles. We all have our wounding. And if you knew mine, you would realize that in many ways we are alike, just with a different set of struggles.

I have methylation issues and anxiety, as many of my autism families. I’m emotionally sensitive and sometimes (fortunately, not too often) I’m blindsided by depression.

Most are surprised to find I struggle as I do. (Life looks so perfect with the “sizzle reel” of Facebook. Doesn’t it?)

Sometimes I find life hard. As I know many of you do.

I’m not comparing my situation to an autism family’s, I’m just saying there is so much we can gain from each other…

Learning about healing. Compassion. Unconditional love.

And I have learned strength from you.

And helping your children and families has given my life meaning and purpose, and strength in my darkest days.

Last week when my husband and I were in Sedona, we came across Robert, the flute player, at Boynton Canyon Vortex.

He gave us hearts made from the red rock, and he played 7 songs. I wish I remembered all of them. The three I remember are LOVE and JOY… along with this one on LETTING IT GO.

I have struggled with this, as I tend to worry a lot.

So on my birthday, I’m going to set a prayer for releasing everything negative that does not serve me. To trust and have faith.

And if it feels good to you, I invite you to too.

Here is Robert perched on top of the red rocks, playing his flute, while I dance poi (a fire dancing, flow art form, that I use as meditation) as Martin, my husband, films.

Letting it Go at the Boynton Canyon VORTEX in Sedona - YouTube

Stay the course. There are people who love you and support you.

You’ve enriched my 48 years on this planet. Sending you love on this special day.

Love,

Julie

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Now that summer has arrived, I’d like to share some tips for traveling on a special diet.

Traveling with children can be challenging enough.  If you or your child is on a special diet, the idea of taking a trip can make any mother think twice and consider just staying home.

You cannot simply rely on stopping into any convenience store or airport deli to pick up food to eat. While some places may carry gluten-free and casein-free options, I’ve been to places that do not have a single choice in the store. You don’t want to be caught without any choices, as it puts you in danger of breaking your special diet.  But also, don’t let a special diet stop you from having fun!

Whether you’re taking a daytrip or overnight vacation, learning a few simple strategies can help families eat well, while sticking to a special diet.

I often travel while speaking at autism and nutrition conferences (sometimes even bringing my family along), and have gathered some personal tips and tricks over the years for gluten-free and special diet living.

The most important thing is to plan ahead.  Research online the restaurants, hotels, and markets near your destination.  Locate gluten-free and allergy-friendly restaurants that understand your special dietary needs.  Book a hotel that has a kitchenette or refrigerator, depending on whether you prefer to cook your own meals or not.  See if there are any natural food stores near where you are staying.  Addressing these queries in advance will help greatly.

For example, if I’m flying and will not have a car, I determine whether there is a market close to my hotel or on the cab ride from the airport.  If so, I typically go and get the bulk of my food needs when I arrive.  However, if there are none, I’ll have to bring more food with me.

For families considering a destination vacation like a theme park or cruise, some companies really go the extra mile to serve people with food allergies.  Disney Land, Disney World, and Disney Cruises all have delicious gluten-free and allergen-free food (see previous post). Fortunately, most cruises offer plenty of allergy-free choices – so you can always eat well on a cruise, even when you have food allergies.  Check your destination for their food policy as some parks and zoos do not allow you to bring food in from the outside (silly, I know).  You’ll want to learn their exemption process so you can be prepared.

Pack a Cooler

Whether you are going by plane, train, or car you’ll want to pack a cooler.  You’ll want to bring at least enough food to get you to your destination, plus one extra emergency “layover” day in case you get stuck while in transit.  If you are going by car, you can take food for the trip.  If you are traveling by plane, you can check an extra cooler of food, ship food to your destination, and handle food once you’ve arrived.  Use dry ice if you want it to stay fully frozen for a couple days.

Consider which food you’re bringing.  Apple are great because they are hard and don’t bruise easily. If you bring bananas, make sure they’re not too ripe or they will smash all over your bag (not fun at all).  My three staple foods for all traveling are: hardboiled eggs, apples, and almond butter (single serve squeeze packets).  Here are more.

Gluten-free and dairy-free foods to pack in your cooler:

  • Hardboiled eggs
  • Cooked bacon
  • Non-dairy yogurt, either homemade or store bought
  • Roasted chicken drumstick
  • Nut butter (Put on celery, apple, or crackers)
  • Hummus (Dip celery or GF bread)
  • Celery
  • Sauerkraut
  • Kale Salad
  • GF Bread
  • Home baked gluten-free healthy banana bread

Foods that do not require cold storage:

  • Sardines (with oil and bones for added calcium)
  • Canned salmon or tuna and avocado for easy tuna salad
  • Beef or salmon jerky
  • Apples
  • Kale or carrot chips
  • GF crackers like Glutino
  • Snack bars like Lara Bars or Macro Bars

Hot Thermos (for cold weather days)

  • Chicken broth
  • Soup
  • Tea
  • Stew
  • Hot lunch

Meal ideas

With your cooler packed with these staples there are many wonderful meals you can throw together quickly and easily while on the road.

Most of these foods are “ready to eat,” requiring no preparation while out and about: Hardboiled eggs, bacon, yogurt, drumsticks, beef jerky, apples, carrot chips and snack bars.  Others are simple parings: nut butter on apple or crackers, hummus with celery, tuna salad made simply with avocado, and sardines with crackers.   Bringing foods that are mix-and-match provides lots of options for the family so each member can find something they like, without mom having to plan and prepare snack and meals for four people.

Sauerkraut makes a wonderful “salad”—while not a true salad, I often eat it in place of the common side dish because it requires no preparation on the night before and provides easy vegetables for the trip.  Kale salad is also great because it’s hearty and holds up to travel well—all you need to do is substitute lettuce with kale leaves (de-stem and rip into pieces).

Salmon-Avocado Salad

This is a great recipe on the road because neither the canned fish nor avocado need refrigeration.  You can carry the food without a cooler, and prepare it onsite for perfectly fresh salmon salad.  It is also a wonderful egg-free alternative.

If you are traveling, you do need to remember to bring a knife for the avocado, something to mix it with like a fork, and a bowl.

  • 1 can of salmon or “lower-mercury” tuna (such as Vital Choice)
  • 1 avocado
  • Smash tuna and avocado together and serve!  It’s that easy!

Storing Food

The cooler you choose is vital.  We learned the hard way that a couple of our soft-sided coolers were not waterproof, so melting ice leaked to the outside of the cooler and soaked things near it—in one case the contents of the backpack it was in, and in the other the hotel floor where it was left overnight.  Test things ahead of time to avoid surprises and inconveniences.  Ice packs work much better than ice cubes.

Remember to bring a plastic utensil set or two, plenty of napkins, extra Ziplock bags, and a bowl with a lid that can be used for mixing, serving, and storing food like the tuna salad. For a bowl, I like the Pyrex/Rubbermaid bowls with a lid, prepare and store the extra.  I’ve never had security stop me for traveling with glass.

If you find it easier, pack an individual lunch for the kids, rather than “family-style” meals.  A few of my favorite containers are: PlanetBox, Laptop Lunches, Eco Lunchboxes, and LifeFactory glass water bottles.

Hotel Rooms –Refrigerators and Kitchenettes

Since you will have food with you, you’ll want to plan ahead for a refrigerator in your own.  Even in standard hotels that do not have kitchenettes, most hotels can accommodate a mini refrigerator in room.  Even a freezer is possible—if the room refrigerator does not have a freezer, you are often able to use the hotel kitchen freezer by checking your frozen items in with them through the front desk.

Always call ahead to reserve a refrigerator.  Some hotels will reserve refrigerators, while others will not.  If the hotel has a first-come first-serve policy on refrigerators, bring your food in a cooler.  If you keep your food fully covered in ice, it will stay good for at least 5 days, or until the food would normally perish.

Some hotels charge for a refrigerator, typically $10-25 per day, while others offer it for no charge.  I love when hotels don’t charge, but even when they do, it’s still worth it because of the flexibility it gives.  And even with the added expense you save much more money than you spend in bringing your own food versus eating out.

You can tell your story to the manager and see if you may be bumped to the top of the list because your child needs a special diet.  You can also ask for a “medical refrigerator.”  Sometimes they are even free in this case.  Now this choice depends on your conscience—if you have medications or supplements that need refrigeration, this request is honest, and many of us feel food is a “medical” necessity.

Motels/Residence Inns with a kitchen

Depending on the duration of your stay and locale, you can find motels, condos, and privately owned properties with kitchens and kitchenettes.  Here are some popular chains with kitchenettes (you can Google others):

  • Residence Inn
  • Motel 6 Extended Stay
  • Extended Stay Studio Suites
  • Homestead Studio Suites
  • Hyatt Summerfield Suites now Hyatt House
  • Homewood Suites by Hilton
  • Staybridge Suites

Restaurants

Eating out can be a tricky thing, but with a few pointers and practice you’ll navigate it smoothly.

For breakfast, skip the buffet—cross-contamination is almost guaranteed with buffet food.  Tell your waiter you’ll need your entire meal cooked fresh for you.  Especially with eggs, do not let them give you the buffet trough scrambled eggs (they might contain dairy!).  Make sure the chef is using a clean pan, olive oil (no sprays or margarine or butter), and fresh utensils.  Remind them of the importance of a clean work area free of flour, crumbs, and other sources of cross-contamination.

Hand them a card, like my GFCF Travel Card that they can take to the back to check with the chef or manager.  If they seem confused or uncertain, ask to speak with the manager.

When you ask about whether their fries are gluten-free, remember to ask them if they cook flour-breaded items in the same fryer

Nationwide Restaurants with Gluten-Free Menus

Sonic Drive-In, Five Guys, and In-N-Out Burger (west coast only) are great burger joints that offer gluten-free hamburger patties wrapped in lettuce and gluten-free fries

The following restaurant chains have gluten-free menus (Google more):

  • Applebee’s
  • Bonefish Grill
  • Chili’s
  • Old Sausage Factory
  • Olive Garden
  • Outback Steakhouse
  • PF Chang’s
  • Red Robin
  • UNO’s Chicago Grill
  • California Pizza Kitchen
  • Il Fornaio Restaurant – a high-end Italian restaurant with 20 locations on the West Coast

When you eat out at restaurants make sure your server understands what gluten is and what foods might contain gluten or dairy.  Consider handing them a card that they can take to the manager or chef to ensure your meal does not contain any problematic ingredients. (see the one I created at our website).

GFCF Travel Card

CLICK HERE or the CARD to the right and Download our GFCF Travel card that you can use at restaurants to help communicate your GFCF needs to your server.

Trip Ups when You’re on a Trip

Most families have a safe routine when they eat at home; they know all the products and their ingredients. When traveling and eating out, you don’t have control over the kitchen, the ingredients, or cross-contamination.  Here are some common slip ups when eating out:

  • Sauces and gravies thickened with flour
  • Demi-glaze on roasted chicken can contains flour
  • Salad dressings can be thickened with flour
  • Soy sauce and teriyaki sauce contain gluten
  • Worcestershire sauce has gluten
  • Malt vinegar and malt sweetener are made with barley
  • Some ketchups, BBQ sauces, and mustards have a gluten grain-based vinegar or gluten-based flavoring
  • Frozen and pre-packaged French fries at restaurants are often dusted with flour before packaging to keep potatoes from sticking.
  • Even gluten-free potatoes may be fried in fryer that also cooks battered (floured) foods
  • Many bolognas and hot dogs contain gluten

“Flavorings,” “spices,” and spice blends may contain gluten.  It’s best if the restaurant prepares all of the dishes with fresh ingredients

Consider Digestive Enzymes

To help support accidental infractions when traveling, digestive enzymes containing DPPIV (Dipeptidyl peptidase-4) help breakdown gluten, casein and soy.  While they are not for those with celiac disease, many families find them helpful for gluten and casein sensitivity, and supporting infractions or cross-contamination that occur when they are away from home.

Accidental food infractions for people with food allergies can ruin a vacation.  However, with some trip planning and preparation, you can and your family can eat well when you’re out. No more stress of finding a restaurant while the kids are have a “starving” meltdown, what to eat, or concerns over food allergens.

With a little forethought, you can have a wonderful time, enjoy the sights, relax, and rejuvenate.

Happy travels!

Julie

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Anchored by a new scientific study by Arizona State University, 25 experts will convene over five days to empower families and healthcare practitioners to use food and nutrition to heal Autism

San Francisco, CA – June 30, 2018 – Nourishing Hope, a world leading authority on nutrition and dietary intervention for the healing of Autism and other neurodevelopmental disorders, today announced that the organization is hosting The Nourishing Hope for Autism Summit, a free online event taking place July 30 – August 3, 2018. Please visit http://nourishinghopesummit.com/ for information and to register for this life-changing event.

“For many children, factors such as nutrient deficiencies, imbalanced biochemistry, and digestive problems play a significant role in causing or exacerbating Autism symptoms,” says Julie Matthews, Co-Founder of Nourishing Hope and a Certified Nutrition Consultant and Educator. “Nutrition can affect underlying biochemistry and physiological functioning to improve behavior and the symptoms associated with Autism.”

With Autism now affecting 1 in 59 children, Nourishing Hope wants families to know that natural, safe, and proven effective solutions can provide relief.

“The summit is about healing kids and nourishing hope in families through nutrition-based strategies,” continues Matthews.

The summit is groundbreaking because the Nourishing Hope process of healing from Autism is backed by a recent scientific study by Dr. James Adams, Director of the Autism/Asperger’s Research Program at Arizona State University. The study, co-authored Matthews, definitively proves that nutrition and dietary intervention do, in fact, significantly reduce the symptoms and behaviors associated with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).

Matthews concludes, “We’re bringing together leading researchers, medical doctors, and nutrition professionals to present the science, their clinical results, and steps parents can take at home to help their children with Autism. Over five days, five experts will discuss effective strategies and tactics, including simple changes in nutrition that can dramatically improve the lives of their children and/or patients living with autism. “I think of our summit as ‘Hope with An Action Plan.’”

The Nourishing Hope for Autism Summit is a free online event taking place July 30 – Aug 3, 2018. Please visit http://nourishinghopesummit.com/ for more information and to register for this one-of-a-kind event

About Nourishing Hope

For 16 years Nourishing Hope has provided scientifically based nutrition strategies that heal the symptoms and behaviors associated with Autism, ADHD, and other developmental delays. The organization’s proven methodology is practiced by families and healthcare providers around the world and is producing breakthrough results.

Contact

Peter Nilsson
peter@performpr.com
858-880-5466

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Contrary to historical medical beliefs and public education and perception, new controlled twelve-month study shows that diet and nutritional intervention significantly improves the symptoms, cognition, digestive health, and behavior in individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).

San Francisco, CA – May 30, 2018 – Nourishing Hope, a world leading authority on nutrition and dietary intervention for the healing of Autism and other neurodevelopmental disorders, today announced that a recent study by Dr. James Adams, Director of the Autism/Asperger’s Research Program at Arizona State University, co-authored by Julie Matthews of Nourishing Hope, definitively proves that nutrition and dietary intervention do, in fact, significantly reduce the symptoms and behaviors associated with individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).

Dr. Adams’ study, published in a peer-reviewed journal, Comprehensive Nutritional and Dietary Intervention for Autism Spectrum Disorder (download study here), A Randomized, Controlled 12-Month Trial, shows a direct and irrefutable correlation between nutrition and improvements in autism symptoms. Dr. Adams has published dozens of research papers over 15 years of investigating nutrition and autism, showing similar outcomes.

“The positive results of this study confirm that a comprehensive nutritional and dietary intervention is proven and effective in improving non-verbal IQ, Autism behaviors, developmental age, and other symptoms in most individuals with ASD,” says Dr. Adams. “For 16 years Nourishing Hope has provided scientifically based nutrition strategies that help children and adults with autism around the world. Now, their founder Julie Matthews has contributed to this “gold standard” research study that substantiates their approach.”

The comprehensive nutrition approach significantly improved:

  • Cognitive function, 6.7 point increase in IQ
  • Developmental age increased by 18 months in the treatment group vs. 4 months in the non-treatment group
  • Gastrointestinal symptoms
  • Speech, sociability, irritability, hyperactivity, and more

Matthews adds, “The study also shows that no matter the age of the individual with autism, diet and nutrition intervention can help. It’s never too late to be nourishing hope!”

The study was a randomized controlled trial. A total of 117 individuals, aged 3 to 58, were enrolled in the study. 67 of the participants had been previously diagnosed with ASD; the remaining 50 participants were neuro-typical. Those with ASD were randomly assigned to a treatment group (37 participants) or a control group (30 participants) after having been physically examined by the study physician.

The study measured the effects of six nutritional interventions introduced over the course of a year, including supplementation and a healthy allergen-free diet.

Each of the interventions had already been studied individually, and demonstrated to be effective at improving autism symptoms. Researchers anticipated a synergistic effect from this comprehensive approach, and the results were substantial.

1 in 59 children are affected, and $137 Billion is being spent annually to support those with autism. It’s time for mainstream medicine and media to embrace Nourishing Hope’s proven and effective solutions and help every family living with Autism and related healthcare issues. The process is safe, natural, and provides what the human body requires most; quality food and individualized nutrition.

The organization is hosting a free online educational event titled Nourishing Hope for Autism Summit on July 30 – August 3. For more information and to register, visit www.NourishingHopeSummit.com.

About Nourishing Hope

For 16 years Nourishing Hope has provided scientifically based nutrition strategies that heal the symptoms and behaviors associated with Autism, ADHD, and other developmental delays. The organization’s proven methodology is practiced by families and healthcare providers around the world and is producing breakthrough results.

Contact

Peter Nilsson
peter@performpr.com
858-880-5466

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After 16 years espousing the science and clinical efficacy of diet and nutrition for autism, I have become a published researcher!

I was part of a study that was just published last weekend, led by Dr. Jim Adams, that researched the benefits (and synergistic effects) of six diet and nutrition interventions for autism, over the course of a year. The results are astounding!

It states, “The positive results of this study suggest that a comprehensive nutritional and dietary intervention is effective at improving nutritional status, non-verbal IQ, autism symptoms, and other symptoms in most individuals with ASD.”

This study validates nutritional intervention for autism, and paves the way for ALL families to receive nutrition support!!

It’s titled “Comprehensive Nutritional and Dietary Intervention for Autism Spectrum Disorder – A Randomized, Controlled 12-Month Trial” and was published in the esteemed journal, Nutrients. It’s an open access journal so you can download and read the whole paper here.

The study showed a 4.5x increase in developmental age over the non-treatment group and a 7 point rise in IQ!!

There were improvements in:

  • Speech/communication
  • Sociability
  • Hyperactivity
  • Behavior
  • Autism symptoms
  • Sensory issues
  • Gastrointestinal symptoms.

We studied a comprehensive diet and nutrition intervention for autism – which consisted of 6 nutrient and diet interventions. My role was to help participants understand and follow a healthy gluten-free, casein-free, soy-free diet. I worked alongside my colleague, Dana Laake. Together we created and delivered an educational presentation and conducted one-on-one nutrition consultations.

The study measured the effects of six interventions over the course of a year. Here’s when each were introduced:

  • Day 0: Vitamin/Mineral supplementation
  • Day 30: Essential Fatty Acid supplementation
  • Day 60: Epsom salt baths
  • Day 90: Carnitine supplementation
  • Day 180: Digestive Enzyme supplementation
  • Day 210: Healthy, gluten-free, casein-free diet
  • Day 365 – Final assessment

These interventions were chosen because each of them had already been studied individually, and found to be effective. And “the goal of this study is to investigate a comprehensive nutritional and dietary intervention to treat children and adults with ASD”… and “to investigate the effect of the combination of those treatments in a long-term study.”

Researchers expected their effects to be synergistic. And it appears they were, given the outstanding results of the study! Some of which I shared yesterday around increases in developmental age, IQ, autism and digestive symptoms.

Here are three very interesting cases from the study that deserved additional mention because the results were incredible!

  • 7-year-old boy with pica was cured entirely within one week of starting the HGCSF (healthy gluten-free casein-free soy-free) diet.
  • 27-year-old male with severe ASD and a history of severe urinary retention requiring daily catheterization was able to urinate on his own about 4 days after eliminating dairy products. By the end of the study, the young man no longer needed catheterization and had zero episodes of kidney stones, urinary tract or bladder infections.
  • One 9-year-old girl with severe ASD had poor strength, endurance, and energy levels at the beginning of the study. Four months after the treatment, she no longer needed her wheelchair. We found out that her pre-treatment diet was deficient in carnitine due to total avoidance of beef products.

The study had a wide age range, from 3-58 and measured improvements in all ages – showing diet and nutrition is helpful regardless of age or gender! It’s never too late to be nourishing hope!

According to parents, the interventions that were most effective were:

  • Multivitamin/mineral formula
  • Essential fatty acid supplement
  • Healthy GFCFSF diet

And 85% or more planned to continue with the vitamin/mineral formula and the essential fatty acid supplement. And a majority planned to continue with the gluten-free, casein-free and soy-free diet and the epsom salt baths, as they found these nutritional interventions to be helpful and worthwhile.

This study validates using a comprehensive diet and nutrition strategy to support improvements in health, learning, and behavior in those with autism, I call this approach “nourishing hope.”

The most frustrating thing I hear from parents at conferences is “no one told me.” They were never informed that diet and nutrition matter, that their daily choices could make such a difference. In fact, they may have been erroneously told that “diet doesn’t help” or “there’s no science to it.”

Truth is, there IS science behind it. Hundreds of studies support an overall scientific rationale for using food and nutrition to be help improve symptoms. This has been my message to families for years…

Autism can be improved, and food matters.

I love my autism families. I know nutrition makes a positive difference. And I want to help. That’s why I’ve committed my career to knowing as much as I can about the underlying biochemistry of autism and how to make strategic diet and nutrition choices that help – and teaching what I know to you – parents and practitioners alike – so that you can make the most from this approach.

Thanks for being on this journey with me.

Sincerely, Julie

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Dear Friends and Colleagues,

Did you hear the exciting news? A huge dream of mine has come true!

After 16 years espousing the science and clinical efficacy of diet and nutrition for autism, I have become a published researcher!

I was part of a study that was just published last weekend, led by Dr. Jim Adams, that researched the benefits (and synergistic effects) of six diet and nutrition interventions for autism, over the course of a year. The results are astounding!

It states, “The positive results of this study suggest that a comprehensive nutritional and dietary intervention is effective at improving nutritional status, non-verbal IQ, autism symptoms, and other symptoms in most individuals with ASD.”

This study validates nutritional intervention for autism, and paves the way for ALL families to receive nutrition support!!

It’s titled “Comprehensive Nutritional and Dietary Intervention for Autism Spectrum Disorder – A Randomized, Controlled 12-Month Trial” and was published in the esteemed journal, Nutrients. It’s an open access journal so you can download and read the whole paper here.

The study showed a 4.5x increase in developmental age over the non-treatment group and a 7 point rise in IQ!!

There were improvements in:

  • Speech/communication
  • Sociability
  • Hyperactivity
  • Behavior
  • Autism symptoms
  • Sensory issues
  • Gastrointestinal symptoms.

We studied a comprehensive diet and nutrition intervention for autism – which consisted of 6 nutrient and diet interventions. My role was to help participants understand and follow a healthy gluten-free, casein-free, soy-free diet. I worked alongside my colleague, Dana Laake. Together we created and delivered an educational presentation and conducted one-on-one nutrition consultations.

The study measured the effects of six interventions over the course of a year. Here’s when each were introduced:

  • Day 0: Vitamin/Mineral supplementation
  • Day 30: Essential Fatty Acid supplementation
  • Day 60: Epsom salt baths
  • Day 90: Carnitine supplementation
  • Day 180: Digestive Enzyme supplementation
  • Day 210: Healthy, gluten-free, casein-free diet
  • Day 365 – Final assessment

These interventions were chosen because each of them had already been studied individually, and found to be effective. And “the goal of this study is to investigate a comprehensive nutritional and dietary intervention to treat children and adults with ASD”… and “to investigate the effect of the combination of those treatments in a long-term study.”

Researchers expected their effects to be synergistic. And it appears they were, given the outstanding results of the study! Some of which I shared yesterday around increases in developmental age, IQ, autism and digestive symptoms.

Here are three very interesting cases from the study that deserved additional mention because the results were incredible!

  • 7-year-old boy with pica was cured entirely within one week of starting the HGCSF (healthy gluten-free casein-free soy-free) diet.
  • 27-year-old male with severe ASD and a history of severe urinary retention requiring daily catheterization was able to urinate on his own about 4 days after eliminating dairy products. By the end of the study, the young man no longer needed catheterization and had zero episodes of kidney stones, urinary tract or bladder infections.
  • One 9-year-old girl with severe ASD had poor strength, endurance, and energy levels at the beginning of the study. Four months after the treatment, she no longer needed her wheelchair. We found out that her pre-treatment diet was deficient in carnitine due to total avoidance of beef products.

The study had a wide age range, from 3-58 and measured improvements in all ages – showing diet and nutrition is helpful regardless of age or gender! It’s never too late to be nourishing hope!

According to parents, the interventions that were most effective were:

  • Multivitamin/mineral formula
  • Essential fatty acid supplement
  • Healthy GFCFSF diet

And 85% or more planned to continue with the vitamin/mineral formula and the essential fatty acid supplement. And a majority planned to continue with the gluten-free, casein-free and soy-free diet and the epsom salt baths, as they found these nutritional interventions to be helpful and worthwhile.

This study validates using a comprehensive diet and nutrition strategy to support improvements in health, learning, and behavior in those with autism, I call this approach “nourishing hope.”

The most frustrating thing I hear from parents at conferences is “no one told me.” They were never informed that diet and nutrition matter, that their daily choices could make such a difference. In fact, they may have been erroneously told that “diet doesn’t help” or “there’s no science to it.”

Truth is, there IS science behind it. Hundreds of studies support an overall scientific rationale for using food and nutrition to be help improve symptoms. This has been my message to families for years…

Autism can be improved, and food matters.

I love my autism families. I know nutrition makes a positive difference. And I want to help. That’s why I’ve committed my career to knowing as much as I can about the underlying biochemistry of autism and how to make strategic diet and nutrition choices that help – and teaching what I know to you – parents and practitioners alike – so that you can make the most from this approach.

Thanks for being on this journey with me.

Sincerely, Julie

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Dear Friends and Colleagues, 

Did you hear the exciting news? A huge dream of mine has come true!

After 16 years espousing the science and clinical efficacy of diet and nutrition for autism, I have become a published researcher!

I was part of a study that was just published last weekend, led by Dr. Jim Adams, that researched the benefits (and synergistic effects) of six diet and nutrition interventions for autism, over the course of a year. The results are astounding!

It states, “The positive results of this study suggest that a comprehensive nutritional and dietary intervention is effective at improving nutritional statusnon-verbal IQautism symptoms, and other symptoms in most individuals with ASD.”

This study validates nutritional intervention for autism, and paves the way for ALL families to receive nutrition support!!

It’s titled “Comprehensive Nutritional and Dietary Intervention for Autism Spectrum Disorder – A Randomized, Controlled 12-Month Trial” and was published in the esteemed journal, Nutrients. It’s an open access journal so you can download and read the whole paper here.

The study showed a 4.5x increase in developmental age over the non-treatment group and a 7 point rise in IQ!!

There were improvements in:Speech/communication

  • Sociability
  • Hyperactivity
  • Behavior
  • Autism symptoms
  • Sensory issues
  • Gastrointestinal symptoms.

The study had a wide age range, from 3-58 and measured improvements in all ages – showing diet and nutrition is helpful regardless of age or gender! It’s never too late to be nourishing hope! 

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Now, don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against Christmas or Christmas trees.  But the pine tree, might be a problem.

Before you run out and buy a fresh, new Christmas tree or holiday wreath, you’ll want to read my client’s experience at Christmas last year, when her son severely regressed.

During this lovely holiday season, her son (and therefore the whole family) was miserable for several weeks.  After removing the Christmas tree, the improvements were dramatic.

Here’s what happened – from my client Stephanie in Montreal, about her 10 year old son with autism, in her own words:

“During the Holidays our son regressed severely.  He became anxious, aggressive, and self-abusive.  He cried and had tantrums regularly throughout the day. He couldn’t sleep anymore and was up for hours at a time, night after night. He was hand-flapping like crazy.  We have a swing in the house for him and he now wanted to swing all day long, constantly, and do nothing else.  He lost eye contact and he stopped responding to his name.

I had made a few minor changes to both his diet and his supplement regimen.  When I spoke with Julie Matthews at our nutrition appointment, I explained what was going on and she agreed that these minor changes couldn’t possibly be causing this kind of setback.  Julie started asking me questions and going down “the list” of possible culprits.  Finally she asked me about our environment.  Did we change anything?  Buy anything new?

I said no but I casually mentioned the Christmas tree, not thinking for a second that it was even relevant.  “Christmas tree?  Do you guys have a real tree?” Julie asked.  Almost immediately, I realized that the timing of our son’s behaviours coincided with the arrival of the Christmas tree and that there was a real possibility that this could be the cause.

The decorations came off and the tree was put out that same night.  I didn’t tell anyone at home about our discussion.  I wanted to see if they would comment on my son’s behavior after the tree was gone.   The next day, he was much calmer.  He seemed to have “exhaled.”  Within 48 hours, our son was completely back to normal.  His improvement was blatantly obvious. And, everyone commented on it.”

This experience of my client and her son with the Christmas tree were dramatic.  The Christmas tree, more specifically the aromatic oils, the phenols, were very likely the cause of his behavior, mood, and sleeping issues.

Pine trees contain strong smelling oils – these aromatic oils are phenols.  Phenolic compounds come in many forms including artificial petroleum-based food additives, and salicylates found in plant and foods like strawberries and spices, as well pine trees.

When phenols are not able to be broken-down and detoxified (by a process called sulfation, which is low in many children with autism and ADHD), they can cause many symptoms including irritability, red cheeks and ears, hyperactivity, aggression toward self and others, “stimming,” sleeping challenges and many more.

If you know your child is sensitive to salicylates or other phenols (see our salicylate post from the summer), you’ll likely want to avoid the tree.  If you are unsure about their sensitivity to salicylates: you might ask yourself if your child is often hyper, irritable, or has red cheeks, and other common salicylate symptoms, or whether they crave salicylate-rich foods such as berries, grapes, apples, and ketchup.  If so, explore salicylates further.

In fact, since so many children with autism and ADHD react to salicylates (in my nutrition practice I find an overwhelming majority react negatively), I’d suggest a cautious approach to holiday decorating for all families of a child with autism, ADHD, and related symptoms: Simply avoid the pine Christmas tree.

Just because you avoid a fresh pine tree, does not mean you need to miss out on any holiday cheer or decorations.  Browse Pinterest or your search engine for “Christmas tree alternatives” and you will find many wonderful ideas: Using dropped and dried tree branches or other wood to build a “tree” to hang ornaments and decorate. It can be a fun new holiday project to design a creative tree.  Try a wreath made of dried hydrangea flowers or other materials; however, be careful and avoid dried herbs and plants with a strong smell – they are also very high in phenols.  There are also many other ways to make your home festive for the holidays too: candles (unscented) or lights, wrapped gifts, ornaments, or stockings.

Happy holidays to all!

Julie

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I like to have lots of veggies on hand throughout the year, and we love beets! Beets are excellent for our digestive health. Beets help the liver and gallbladder by thinning the bile, making it much easier to digest and assimilate healthy fats in our diet. Beets are rich in betaine, which is involved in and supports methylation. They are also a great starchy vegetable, containing 4 grams of fiber per serving.

These are “refrigerator pickled beets” rather than fermented in a brine. So there are different benefits. This recipe actually uses raw apple cider vinegar (ACV) and not cooked like most. ACV is excellent for getting our digestive juices flowing, so we can get more of the nutrients from our food. And while not fermented (fermented beets also have amazing benefits), this recipe is great for stocking up on veggies in the refrigerator to last a couple months throughout the winter. Or if you make a small batch, you can have a couple weeks of ready-to-eat vegetables in your refrigerator that can be added to salads or have as a quick side dish.  And they taste amazing!

Recipe: 

2 lb beets
1 cup of the raw Apple Cider Vinegar
1 cup of water
2 TBS maple syrup or honey (optional)
3 coin-sized slices of fresh ginger
1 tsp grated orange peel
1 cinnamon stick
1/4 tsp whole cardamom (decorticated, i.e. outer pod removed)
1/4 tsp whole clove
5 allspice berries
(1) pinch red pepper flakes (optional)

Remove beet greens (the greens are great to saute’, and serve as a veggie side).

Leave skin on the beets and scrub them. Put beets in an instant pot on top of the steamer at the bottom. Place on Steam setting (for pressure steaming) with lid on for:

15 minutes for small/average sized beets
20-25 minutes for large beets

**Texture of cooked beets should be tender (better to be a bit firmer than softer).

Release steam naturally for about 5 minutes. Rub the skin off the beets (comes off easily once steamed).

Cut beets into small cubes or slices, and place in mason jars.

Mix all ingredients, and pour liquid over cooked beets.

Refrigerate, and enjoy!!

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[This is part of our series: Getting Your Hopes Up: Stories of Healing Thru Diet and Nutrition – stories directly from mothers and fathers, on their experience using food and nutrition to help heal their child with autism, ADHD, and other developmental delays.]

Tara’s daughter’s success story of hope and healing demonstrates the power of a multi-faceted approach which encompasses a therapeutic diet, biomedical intervention, developmental therapies and functional neurology-based rehabilitation. Her daughter is now thriving!

The journey begins….Red Flags at 9 months

By the time our daughter was nine months, we noticed that she seemed to be lagging behind her developmental milestones, but by the time she was 12 months it became apparent that she lagged behind in speech and gross motor movements. As in most cases, our general practitioner expressed some mild concern but continued with the wait-and-see approach until she was almost two and her expressive speech was less than five words, at which point we received a referral to public health for a speech assessment. She also refused to stand or walk on her own, requesting to hold onto one finger of an adult (even though she was clearly capable) until she was 21 months old. We now know that this was because her vestibular and proprioceptive signals, which help her understand how her body moves in space, were being misinterpreted by her brain.

Sensory Overload and meltdowns

Our daughter often melted down and clung to me in public places or during a gathering, seemingly overwhelmed by all the sensory inputs around her. This made it difficult to attend parties or go to loud events without having to disappear from the crowds to give her some relief. I remember once having to abandon a full shopping cart at the grocery store because a false fire alarm went off and she couldn’t cope with the noise.

Incredibly Bright – Exceptional Memory – Learning Disability – Dyspraxia – Delayed Speech

My daughter is incredibly bright with an exceptional memory. Intelligence testing showed her to be of “average to above average” intelligence. (IQ tests are skewed to those who can read, and she scored high enough despite not being able to, which is why they felt she was in the above average range.) She fit the classic definition of a learning disability, and was also diagnosed with dyspraxia, but she didn’t fit the diagnostic criteria for most conditions. We constantly sat on the fringes of many different diagnoses. She couldn’t seem to learn to read or do math, and her speech was significantly delayed. Everything that required her brain to do any kind of sequential processing (like most everything we do), needed to be taught step by step, right down to how to use scissors and how to go down stairs one foot after the other.

Developmental Pediatrician – Occupational and Speech Therapy at School

We took all the traditional approaches possible recommended to us after pushing to see a developmental pediatrician, getting a psychoeducational assessment, having her hearing and vision assessed, and engaging speech and occupational therapists. We moved into the city so she could attend a school that taught in the instructional style best suited to her by the recommendation of the psychoeducational assessment, and where she could have both occupational and speech therapy delivered in school daily.

Slow Progress – Mom’s Gut Sense More Could be Done

Although we most definitely saw progress in some areas of her learning and gross and fine motor skills, the progress was slow, which meant she continued to fall further behind her peers. We were pleased to see her progress in these areas, but I still was looking for more ways to help her. I knew in my gut there had to be more.

Gut and Psychology Syndrome (GAPS) Diet

I had always been an avid reader of all things nutrition, but I now know it was a superficial understanding of what I now refer to as mainstream nutrition—“healthy eating” books and magazines focused on the weight loss and fitness industries. It wasn’t until I did a random Google search on my daughter’s diagnosis of dyspraxia that I found the book by Natasha Campbell McBride, Gut and Psychology Syndrome, that our journey to true healing began. I confess that it was two years from the time I first found this book to the time we implemented the GAPS diet. My initial reaction when I read it was probably similar to the perception of many parents of picky eaters: “My child will never eat that.”

GAPS Success + MRT Food and Sensitivity Panel – Significant Progress

During the two-year period between first discovering the book and implementing the diet, I dove head first into the research. Eventually the reasons for taking action far outweighed my fears of how I would pull it off. We implemented the GAPS diet and saw many significant improvements in her overall health (allergic shiners disappeared, eye contact improved, speech clarity improved, digestion improved), however after two years on the GAPS diet, I felt we needed to take it to the next level with functional tests to better assess gut health and MRT food and chemical sensitivity testing to identify offending foods. We launched into a three-month intensive gut healing protocol (on top of the GAPS diet protocol) to great success. We had finally made significant progress on some of her nagging digestive issues (such as slow transit time) and resolved other symptoms of leaky gut.

Methylation Support/Methyl B-12 Injections – Improved Emotional Regulation

Around this time we also added methylation support in the form of subcutaneous methyl B-12 injections and additional dietary and supplemental changes. We noticed improvements in her emotional regulation at this time. She “felt better” overall with the methylation support.

Functional Neurology-Based Rehabilitation – Big Jumps in Cognitive Functioning & Speech

In addition to nutritional and biomedical interventions, adding functional neurology-based rehabilitation in the last couple of years has made a major impact on her progress. This multifaceted therapy works to retrain the neural pathways. Since introducing this, along with diet and biomed interventions, we have seen big jumps in her cognitive functioning and improvements in her speech. We continue to make tweaks and changes every few months to optimize her healing and recovery.

Big Takeaways

If I were to do it all over again, I would not have hesitated to start a dietary intervention from day one. In addition, I would have started the methylation support and neuro-rehab with the help of a functional neurologist as early as possible to address the integration of primitive reflexes and then would have continued the neuro-rehab from there.

The Journey Continues …

Through the years, my research led me to enroll and complete my certification as a Nutritional Therapy Practitioner through the Nutritional Therapy Association, and to travel to London, England to train with Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride to become a Certified GAPS Practitioner.  Even after all these years I continue to learn about new interventions that can help our children. I am currently continuing my education with the Bioindividual Nutrition Institute, Medical Academy of Pediatric Special Needs and with Dr. Melillo’s course on Childhood Learning Disabilities and Behavioral Disorders. I started an online community to help parents like me who are trying to make sense of the many therapies and interventions available for our children. My Child Will Thrive is a place for parents like us to connect with and learn from each other.

Do you have a success story that you would like us to share? Please send a message at our Facebook Page: Nourishing Hope for Autism
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