Monday, May 7, 2012

Of Diet and Dyslexia - Part Six

So where have we come since October of 2011 in our diet and dyslexia adventure? An extremely long way since January of that same year upon diagnosing her vision difficulties, and an amazing journey since going gluten-free in August and finding the key to her joint pains, attention issues, processing skills, and reading ability. H-Bob will be coming up on almost nine months of eating gluten-free here soon. So here's where we are...

May 2012

H-Bob has completed all necessary vision therapy. Her therapist has helped her complete all physical changes that were needed as well as activate those vision processing areas that had been on vacation for so long. This is in itself is remarkable in taking her reading level from a kindergarten level to reading books in the 850 Lexile range which is almost on track for grade level for her within that one year period. Although her therapist did not official endorse dietary changes as part of her protocol, she could only acknowledge that massive gains were made once H-Bob dropped the gluten and sugar. By the end of her sessions, she noticed things that I had not specifically picked up on as much...much more eye contact, confidence, the willingness to stick to a task, ambition, and general happiness. I couldn't agree more.

As far as her charter school studies are concerned, she was required to take our state reading and math testing this past spring as usual. The previous year she was quite a ways off from meeting state standards in third grade and had to complete her reading assessment in four or five sessions. This year she came closer to meeting those standards but had closed the gap considerably. I fully expect that by her fifth grade testing, she will be able to meet those standards. The fact that she did her testing in those subject areas in one or two sessions was a major accomplishment from last year. Again, diet definitely played a part in allowing her attention and determination to see her through those tests in larger chunks of concentrated time.

At home she is still the ever creative right-brained child excelling at sculpture and creative pursuits. She's so amazing at having a vision of something she would like to produce but is sometimes stymied by her abilities and supplies. However, we're excited to see that her frustration levels have evened out. It's hard to be a little person trying to accomplish great things. We're still working on getting her reading level up a little. She's got great comprehension for things heard orally but are working on this skill for that which she reads silently. She seems to have a flair for writing cursive...probably the artistic value of it...and her printed writing is so much more legible than it was. She is definitely more able to produce a written paragraph compared to the agony of her previously eking out a sentence or two. Her mathematical abilities took a great jump with her diet change, but anticipating struggles with Saxon when long division was introduced, we opted for Math-U-See for this year. But we still found out that this still became a stumbling block. It wasn't until discovering double division that we jumped this hurdle. I have a feeling that spelling will always be a bugger for her, but we are making progress there as well.

Overall, there is no doubt that our diet change and supplements for H-Bob are here to stay. Especially, as there have been secondary results there too.  About three months after eating gluten-free with H-Bob, I noticed that I was feeling more and more light headed. Just before Thanksgiving it became particularly bad, and I decided to check my blood pressure as I had been on two medications for the past year after a dentist discovered that my pressure was through the roof. Low and behold, my blood pressure was in the 115/60 range...way too low...apparently due to the fact that dietary changes I had embraced along with H-Bob combined with my medication were keeping the levels too low. My doctor told me to drop my dose to half, and then finally had to admit that it needed to be completely taken away. He had to eat his previous words that blood pressure never comes down in an older person. Surprise...surprise...I say. 

Realizing that H-Bob cannot go back to her old ways of eating for the remainder of her life and that it was currently my job to figure out how she was to accomplish that, I begin to investigate more thoroughly the gluten-free diet.  I didn't like the idea of pumping sugar-laden, processed, refined-flour products, although gluten-free, into our diets on a long-term basis. Leads here and there took me to recommendations to go vegan, vegetarian, raw, or paleo/primal. I dabbled in the raw food diet for about thirty days but saw that H-Bob lost too much weight. I had more energy and woke up feeling incredible every morning but developed insomnia...later learning that I was probably became deficient in the amino acids from animal protein that promote sleep. Since that eliminated vegan, vegetarian and raw, I decided to see what paleo/primal was all about. 

So since that time, we as a family began a 30-day paleo/primal food challenge in which our food choices included animal protein, vegetables, fruit, and healthy fats which included olive oil and coconut oil and other coconut products, along with avocados and some nuts. Sounds pretty good, right? Oh and did I mention what wasn't on the menu? All dairy, gluten, grains, legumes, seed oils and not a drop of sugar or artifical sweeteners. That was a pretty tough sale to the entire family I admit. But you know what? By the end of those 30 days, all of us realized that our abdominal fat just melted away...literally. DH lost 15 pounds or so without even batting an eye. No one ever went hungry. We embraced the idea that healthy fat is not bad nor is plenty of animal products. We filled up to the brim on veggies and fruit smoothies and ate enough protein and fat to feel satiated at every meal and just watched our health change before our eyes. Co-workers mentioned how great DH looked and noticed how much more energy he had. Our teen son's acne cleared. I could wake in the morning without feeling as if I'd run a marathon during the night. And H-Bob began to put some meat on her bones. I begin to notice that Goat Princess no longer had trouble falling asleep at night and did not drop off to sleep randomly during the day. Once everyone was over their carb-cravings, constant need to feel the need to eat every few hours, and sugar addiction so-to-speak, eating in a paleo manner was definitely a win-win situation.

Today Goat Princess still eats a pretty strict primal diet although she's beginning to allow herself a couple of cheat meals a week. She'll notice right away the carb crash that happens following those meals.  I too follow a primal diet, allowing myself some dairy products such as butter and buttermilk and the occasional cheese garnish. But milk in the latte is a thing so the past...welcome my new friend, coconut milk.  H-Bob still struggles with sugar and wanting the occasional gluten item. She'll have her treat but always pays the price of mood, attention, and leg pains. She's gradually learning that it isn't always worth it. DH eats out so much at work that he really tries to stay primal, but once going back to way too many cheat meals, he finds he doesn't have the resolve to stick with it. Looks like he needs another thirty-day challenge to clear him out again. Our teen athlete eats a pretty primal diet although he has no trouble dining out with friends on the weekend. You can tell when he's really overdone it as his acne will flare up and gets that total way-too-tired couch-potato syndrome again. But overall, it is a pretty win-win situation.

You know the silver lining they talk about? Well H-Bob's dyslexia has been that for us. Not only have we learned how to support her needs, but as a family our health and well-being have been affected in such positive ways that we can only be truly grateful.

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