Thursday, October 27, 2011

Tales of an Intro Past

At this point I have watched, assisted, and supported a number of mothers putting children through a formal "intro" for SCD / GAPS. There are a few consistencies between all the stories and they, strangely enough, match up pretty closely to an addict going through detox. I had never put that together until I was on the phone with a mom listening to her daughter scream, "I want pizza! I want pizza!" in the background. Her mother had a spine of steel and told me that she and her husband were both familiar with the cycle of addiction (from the professional assistance standpoint) and that she considered her daughter's behavior to be that of an addict.

Her comment really opened my eyes. I started thinking of the kids on intro a little differently than I had previously. Of COURSE their stubborn holding out for the old foods was addict behavior. Also, many of the kids got sick and vomited on intro and the reasons given were always: detox, yeast/bacteria die-off, or low blood sugar. I had previously assumed that low blood sugar was the biggest issue but what if it was more frequently toxins / detox?

So I started thinking back to some of the kids who had been on dietary "upgrade" journeys. The most severe detox reaction came from a beautiful young child with autism. Her journey toward GAPS was a long and slow one and there were many steps in between her previous diet and getting to 100% "Full GAPS" (she has yet to do a formal intro). One of the first phases of her journey was when her mother removed additives and preservatives from her diet. She screamed all day and all night for a week. She was nonverbal at the time and was unable to tell her mother how she was feeling but obviously she was not feeling okay. The detox from simply removing additive / preservative chemicals was intense. Today, when this same child has an infraction on "Full GAPS" she writhes on the floor in pain or is "off" for a few days while the offending substance clears her body.

My girls threw major tantrums when we first went on the diet. OK, OK, me too with my knife throwing incident. Our issue was the toxins from yeast/bacteria die off. Luckily for us we had been on a very clean diet for awhile before starting SCD and there wasn't any vomiting. For Stacylee the intro period was very, very difficult. The most severe I had witnessed up to that point. She was lethargic, pale, losing weight, and vomiting. Her mother was very scared. Stacylee came to our home on day three when she was vomiting and again on day six. On day three her presentation didn't seem too bad but by day six she needed some FOOD. She did start eating that day, but what parent thinks it is "OK" or "normal" for their child to vomit for days on end before being ready for food?

Because the intro is SO tough, scary, and lonely many people advise going onto the full diet first and then going back to the introductory stages after awhile. The double bonus is that whomever is doing all the cooking can get used to the new ingredients list / ways of cooking and stock up on ferments, broths, and veggie puree before beginning intro. The other thing they can stock up on is love, patience, and support. They have time to educate those around them and get them used to the changes.

Other parents feel pressed for time or are just "dive right in" kind of people. With no stock or ferments in their pantry and with family/friends who have no idea of the big changes ahead, they just get started. Those who find out what is "going on" may question whether it is necessary or healthy. Hopefully these chefs are doing intro hunkered down for two weeks or so behind closed doors because if their child is one of the kids who needs it the worst their child will go through detox the worst.

It is a long, soul crushing road but well worth the results achieved and the chef is generally rewarded very, very quickly. Here is a Facebook post from today - the little boy has been on intro for only two weeks:

[Name removed] has stopped 99% of his head-shaking... this is a form of self-stimulation done by people with "high-functioning" Autism. He's also stopped spinning and running around in circles and obsessively throwing himself against the glass sliding door whenever we get done singing the song he likes from "Wee Sing."

That is quite a change for just two weeks. Healing and sealing. Heal the gut, seal the gut, heal the brain. Soul crushing road, but worth it.

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