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      Depression, Mental Health and Crisis Support   06/04/2017

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Rob's mum

Artificial Colourings and Preservatives

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Hi,

 

Was reading a column the other day saying that if you cut out artificial colourings and preservatives from your child's diet it dramatically reduces behavioural problems. Also in a different column people have put there children on dairy and gluten free diets to help with all sorts of problems. Anything from bowel trouble, digestion to help with sleeping.

 

Are these statements true?

 

I have a 5 year old son with ASD. He goes into hypo's a lot. So was wondering if these diet changes would help.

 

Looking forward to your views.

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cmuir   

Hi,

 

Was reading a column the other day saying that if you cut out artificial colourings and preservatives from your child's diet it dramatically reduces behavioural problems. Also in a different column people have put there children on dairy and gluten free diets to help with all sorts of problems. Anything from bowel trouble, digestion to help with sleeping.

 

Are these statements true?

 

I have a 5 year old son with ASD. He goes into hypo's a lot. So was wondering if these diet changes would help.

 

Looking forward to your views.

 

 

 

Hi

 

I think you only have to read the press to note that scientists/doctors says X, Y and Z and then the following day there's something else is reported a day or so later which turns that on it's head. It's very difficult to know one way or another what will reduce behavioural problems, but I think the key is a balanced diet which includes fruit, vegetables, meat, fish, etc. That can be very difficult for a child on the spectrum. I won't lie and say 'my son doesn't get sweets, fizzy juice, etc', but what I will say is that he doesn't get those things on a regular basis, in fact, he loves fruit and drinks mainly water. Within the locality where I work there are a number of grocer shops which sell some of less common fruit – I've found R is more than happy to try starfruit, dragon fruit, rambatans, etc. Going back to your question, I think it's very difficult to avoid artificial colourings and preservatives, etc, but cutting down or out can only be a good thing.

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baddad   

Hi rob's mum -

 

Firstly, not sure what you mean by 'hypos'?

 

There's an awful lot of controversy surrounding food additives, colourings etc, but IMO it's really hard to tell the wood from the trees these days because most of the evidence is anecdotal rather than scientific. That doesn't mean it's not right (or right in some cases), but there's also a lot of 'woo' in the mix, and of course there's a lot of truth in the old addage that people see what they want or expect to see...

 

One of the chief additives you'll read about is MSG (monosodium glutamate), and in a recent tv programme there was an experiment where a dozen people (adults) who absolutely believed themselves to be affected by MSG were taken out in separate weeks for firstly a chinese resturant meal and then a 'healthy eating' meal (i.e. all fresh produce/salads/veg etc). All of them anticipated problems with the chinese food (MSG is a traditional chinese spice in the form of 'Ve Tsin' seasoning), and reported side effects - some of them chronic - after eating it. The following week they had no symptoms whatsoever with the 'healthy eating' menu. What they didn't know was that the chinese food had all been cooked without any MSG whatsoever, while the 'healthy' food was absolutely loaded with the stuff. Similar experiments have been conducted on kids whose parents believe them to suffer 'sugar highs' - where parents were asked to score their children's bahaviour after two days out, one where they believed the children to have eaten lots of sugary foods and one where they believed the children had eaten healthy options. Again, they pretty much all said behaviour got worse on what they thought were sugar days and improved on non-sugar days, when in fact the days were 'reversed'. :whistle:

 

Having said that, I avoid MSG in my son's diet wherever possible, because there are other issues associated with it (it's a bit 'moreish' to say the least), and all artificial sweeteners like Aspartame. My rule of thumb is if I can buy or make something with fewer or no additives, then that's got to be the bettter option...

 

Gluten and dairy... This is a huge lifestyle change, though now, thanks to women who think that farting is a sign of wheat or lactose intolerance far less difficlt than it used to be to cater for. There's an advert on at the moment for a product called 'Lactofree' milk, and the wording of that is really interesting... they say '90% of women who think they are lactose intolerant find out they can drink Lactofree'... If even the people marketing the products acknowledge it's likely to be a 'think' rather than 'are' that really says it all... :whistle:

 

HOWEVER: For children who have stomach problems (leaky gut, diahhorea, vomiting, constipation etc) that aren't caused by other factors (lots of children 'retain' causing what effectively amounts to constipation and diahhorea (or constant 'soiling'), but that's medically a different thing), and specifically kids on the autistic spectrum, there's some pretty convincing theories and research put out by Paul Shattock and the team at the Autism Research Unit in Sunderland... If you contact them (look in the forums resources section - I'm sure there's a link there) you can arrange a very simple urine test (by post) which will tell you if gluten/dairy related intolerances are likely to be affecting your child. It would be absolutely pointless, IMO, 'jumping in' to a gluten/dairy free diet without getting this test done first, and if the diets are introduced they have to be absolutely 100% Gluten and/or Dairy free, which even allowing from 'free from' ranges really demands lots of planning and careful shopping.

 

I would add that my son was Gluten & Dairy free from about the age of three onwards, with leaky gut, diahhorea and vomiting problems etc. The lesions in his gut were confirmed by an endoscopy... Now, at 14 (in two days) we've been 'challenging' the diet for about a year and the problems seem to be resolved. I still cook with Gluten free flours (except on the odd occasion we have pastry) and he has gluten free bread/cereals etc and dairy free milk/butter, purely and simply 'cos there's no need to change those things and gluten/dairy ain't exactly healthy options anyway, but we don't need to worry about it like we used to.

 

HUGE answer, but still loads more you'll need to read up on... have a look in the 'diets and medication' section of the forum you'll find TONS of info on this kind of stuff. Hope the above was a good starter, though, otherwise i've just wasted a good hour typing it!

 

L&P

 

BD

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justine1   

Hi

 

I agree with Baddad. I would say unless there is an obvious medical reason to change a childs diet then why do it? I personally do not see any change in any of my boys' behaviour after eating certain foods.What has worked for their behaviour is clear boundaries, consistency, consequences for negative behaviour and rewards for the positive behaviour.

 

I grew up on a restricted diet, dairy free etc but from age 10 I ate anything really. It was believed my asthma and other health problems were worsened by certain foods.I believe it was my fathers smoking as my parents separated around the time my health improved. Saying that they have dramatically reduced certain e numbers, indeed some are now banned, since I was growing up.

 

 

If he is going hypo, in the true medical sense, this could mean he is better off having smaller meals so he has time to breakdown sugars. Make sure he is not having too much sugary foods. If you have not mentioned he goes hypo to your GP I would do so, especially if there is a history of diabetes.

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Thank you for your replies. I do understand the whole gluten diet as my mum is a coeliac. My son has suffered with bowel trouble since birth and has been on movicol since he was 18 months. He is now nearly 6 and i am wondering weather his bowel trouble is to do with his diet. When i speak to the professionals about this i just get told to keep giving him the movicol and he will grow out of it. I will get in touch with the people in Sunderland and see about a urine test,even if it is just to ease my mind.

 

Hypo's as i call them. When he is running around the house being as naughty as he can be, tantruming and generally just isn't in his normal mind and cannot do a thing with him until he has come out of it. My husband seems to believe it is to do with his sugar levels. There is no diabetes in our family other than my mum's brother who got it much later in life.

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baddad   

Well worth contacting Sunderland, but the movicol could be because he's 'retaining'... what tends to happen is it breaks up the outer layer of the ball (causing soiling probs with the outer, now liquid, layer), but doesn't really move the blockage at all. :( It has become more common for kids with AS and NT, but no-one seems to know why (?). Maybe it's something to do with disposable rather than terry nappies!

 

The highs.. wouldn't be too quick to jump to the assumption of 'sugar rush' (see above re tv show experiments), but it could be food related in other ways or even related to his bowel issues (if he is retaining he would be putting considerable effort into that at times and it could possibly be quite painful). Wouldn't rule out stuff like plain old tiredness and boundary testing either - how are his sleep routines and does he visit 'the naughty step' as a consequence for these naughty tantrums? :lol::whistle:

 

The test via sunderland cost about £30 the last time i looked, but it is well worth it. Not all kids - even those testing positive -are helped by the diet, but if the test is negative at least you know it's not even worth going through the motions (a potential 9 months worth of hard work for nowt).

 

HTH

 

L&P

 

BD

 

Oh an afterthought... lots of kids with AS 'tippy-toe' walk, but so do kids who retain (buttock clenching and stiff legs are easier to maintain on tipy-toe!). So if he tippy-toes it could be AS or it could be an indicator of retaining, esp if it seems quite sporadic (i.e. only when he's fighting his stomach's natural urge to take a dump!)

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Lynden   

My son needed movicol for constipation from around 18 months old - he was in and out of hospital for weight loss and he would vomit each time he needed to go to the loo he had to strain that badly (low tone issues too). Prior to that he always had really bad reflux and projectile vomitting - he struggled with solid foods due to a sensitive gag reflex. He started refusing milk himself and as soon as he was off dairy his constipation settled down.

 

He's not dairy free, because he will have chocolate, or occasionally cream cheese but if he ever had too much dairy again, pure milk/cheese etc then he becomes really constipated. We do have calcium supplements though.

 

Lynne

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