Thursday, January 24, 2013

Avoiding dairy. Harder than it sounds!!

Since my son was diagnosed with a dairy allergy I went into full-blown research mode (as I tend to do with everything that is new to me). I read medical journals, went into dairy-free forums, blogs, books, and even some Facebook pages that talked specifically about this topic.

One website with tons of good info is

I liked the info on the website so much that I bought the book “Go Dairy Free: The Guide and Cookbook for Milk Allergies, Lactose Intolerance, and Casein-Free Living”. 

That had tons of good recipes but also information. 

My husband wanted even more information about dairy allergies and ADHD, so he purchased for us “The Kid-Friendly ADHD & Autism Cookbook, Updated and Revised: The Ultimate Guide to the Gluten-Free, Casein-Free Diet”. 

That is another good book as well. It also shared some very appealing recipes. All fine and good, but my son is a picky eater, and I searched far and wide for recipes that besides being dairy free could be appealing to him….visually and taste wise….so I hit the jackpot with “Cooking for Isaiah: Gluten-Free & Dairy-Free Recipes for Easy, Delicious Meals”. 

The author of this book, Silvana Nardone, also has a website , a Facebook page , and is the Editor –in-Chief of “Easy Eats” . This last one is more of a gluten free site, but many times gluten free recipes are dairy free and a good source. My son has seen all the pictures in the book and is excited every time I tell him I am trying out one of the recipes there. So far so good. Anecdotally I can say he is doing much better, both with his allergies and with his ADHD. I can even say all four of us (Mom, Dad, Daughter, Son) are all doing much better health wise, so much so that even if his allergy goes away we will continue to do our best to be dairy free.

It is a pain to be dairy free though. My focus is more on dairy and I was surprised how many thinks use dairy or even casein. The strangest to me was to find out my kids’ multi-vitamin had milk

I have become an expert food label reader. And it is exhausting.

We have decided to do our best to go organic, free of most preservatives, and thus mainly fresh products. We have also decided to do our best to avoid gluten and artificial colors, like Red 40. Red 40 is another one that surprised me how many things contain it. I expected it in my son’s bag of skittles, but then it turned up in a Duncan Hines icing, and again in that multivitamin I already discarded because of the milk. Jeshhhhh!!!

So as I am about to hit the “purchase” button on a vegan multivitamin that is milk free and red 40 free I am hopeful that my whole family will benefit from leading a more simple way of life. 

Don’t get me wrong, because I still am enrolling my son in a study to slowly increase his tolerance to milk, but that is only so he can partake in pizza and cake at birthday parties at some point. Hopefully starting this journey so early in his life will make him a life-long healthy-lifestyle convert. Time will tell.

What healthy life-style changes are you making lately?

Rossana G-A

FTC Disclaimer: I am not compensated to write this post.

Friday, January 4, 2013

How we got through the holidays.

I had been giving this a lot of thought when in reality that is exactly the opposite of what I needed to do. How we got through the holidays is by simply enjoying them. And don’t think that was an easy task either, not with 3 ADHDers and one very worrisome Mom. Going to see family has always been a bit stressful, beginning with the fact that we have very limited amount of time to spend with them since we live far away, and then splitting up our time between his family, and my family, and making it all count. Then you add the fact that my kids are very rambunctious, Dad is very strict, and a lot of the Holiday events are somewhat formal…this equals some more tension.

So I had a conversation with my husband before taking off on our trip. We chose to drive given the high prices of flights and the need for our own transportation once there. We also decided we would break up the long trip into 3 shorter more digestible drives, making our first stop a bit over 6 hours into it at a hotel, our second stop the next day at a bit over 7 hours at my brother-in-law’s house with his wife and kids where we spent the rest of the day, and the last stop in less than 5 hours with my in-law’s.

We also decided we needed to take enough for the kids to be entertained both on the drive there and during our stay, so we got them their Christmas presents early, which where 2 mini iPads, loaded plenty of movies, books, and games. We also brought along some regular books and toys.

One key factor for us at least was planning some time for the kids to decompress, which meant making time for them to be just with us (Mom and Dad), and not having the pressure to “behave”. Don’t get me wrong, my kids behave pretty well with us, Mom and Dad, but they can get a little out of hand with all the excitement of seeing relatives that they can forget their manners in an attempt to be funny. Coincidentally we had the opportunity to stay at my sister-in-law’s house while she was at her in-law’s, and that made that decompression time a bit easier. If we had not been at a different house alone we would probably had made pockets of time for the kids to be alone with us, like we did on our last day when we did spend the night with my in-law’s and chose to take the kids to a movie. The movie was a way for them to let their hair down, besides the fact that my kiddos crave entertainment on a regular basis.

Another part of my conversation with my husband was to have a mutual understanding that we would somewhat disconnect. What I mean by that is that precisely because our kiddos are so rambunctious we tend to need to supervise them constantly to make sure they are not setting the curtains on fire or sticking a fork in anything electric (I say this in jest….a bit….but not really) . Needing so much supervision, and a lot of it being repetitive given their ADHD, can make any parent a bit irritable, but a Dad with ADHD even more so. So we both agreed to not supervise them so much. We would have to roll with the punches. Hopefully one of their cousins would tell on them if they decided to juggle knives.

We were also traveling with a newly discovered constraint, which is my son’s milk allergy. Although his allergy is not life threatening and could very well continue to eat dairy with some antihistamines, we have seen improvements in his ADHD symptoms and also my daughter’s ADHD symptoms (who doesn’t show any milk allergy symptoms) since we decided to lead a dairy free life to the best of our abilities. With that in mind we decided to take a few measures to continue this diet as much as possible on our trip, but to also break a few rules and let them eat some dairy if it was right in front of their face, like Christmas cookies, or some other yummy treat.

I am happy to report that with much of the dairy products evaded during this trip, and since we were on vacation and let our hair down, we actually went a few days without ADHD medication without many complaints. I believe their ADHD symptoms were very reduce (including Dad), but pair that up with our “vacation” attitude, and we faired really well.

We knew we were asking a lot out of them during this trip, both for being in a car for so long and with behaving with relatives, that we also planned a tiny reward for them at the end of the long journey. Our second to last stop back home was Universal Studios. We ate out, walked the park, rode the rides, saw the attractions, walked away with 2 very cool transformers’ T-shirts for the kiddos, and stayed 2 nights at the nearest Hilton (one to rest up before the day at the park, and another to rest up for the last bit of driving).

It was a total of 10 days, and although I did do some laundry in the middle, I came home to do a ton of laundry on the 31st. We were all so tired, but so happy to be home too. One very excellent way to tie 2012 in a perfect little bow. So Perf!!

How did you get through the holidays?

Rossana G-A