Caregiver’s Guide to the Raw Vegan Child

Part 1: Raw for Recovery

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My son Dougie craves green. He and his digestive system are huge fans of vegetable based smoothies, seaweed, algae and fermented foods. These foods helped pull him out of a toxic slump that resulted in a diagnosis of autism, so as his mom I can understand why he loves them so much. But, I figured maybe you could use a little better explanation.

You see, although Dougie developed “normally” and learned to walk, talk and play the way most kids do – he began to lose these skills when he was about 18 months old. But that’s not all. After receiving his 18 month vaccinations, he developed a horrible series of infections that lead our doctors to prescribe five rounds of antibiotics. By the time he was two and a half — my son was physically weak, chronically ill with bacterial and fungal infections, and socially and mentally no longer the little boy we knew before all of the medicine. He lost eye contact. He lost words. He lost desire to connect physically and show emotion. He cried incessantly, and he craved pizza. Pizza was the only thing he would eat for almost a month before I caught on.

We discovered that dairy and wheat posed a huge problem for many children with autism because the proteins gluten (found in wheat, rye, barley, spelt and oats) and casein (found in dairy) cannot be digested properly. These proteins produce an opiate affect in their bodies. We removed these from his diet right away.

He was still taking an antibiotic when I was introduced to Body Ecology. Body Ecology explained the gut/brain connection and how candida yeast is often responsible for many of the symptoms my son was experiencing. I learned that by fermenting young coconut water I could create a probiotic beverage that was far more powerful than all of the store-bought probiotics I’d tried. Probiotics are full of good bacteria that can fight infection, release toxins and help relieve problems with yeast. I made him the drink, called coconut kefir, and he began making eye contact and responding to his name within a month. Now, his body craves this food because instinctively his body wants to continue to heal.

All of our bodies want to heal. Often, we just don’t understand the signals. Dougie was craving pizza because the yeast in his gut wanted to be fed. After having success with the coconut kefir, I dove further into studying Body Ecology and learned what foods can really do to heal us. We spent about nine months doing strict Body Ecology, which included giving up sweet fruits, not combining grains with protein, eating lots of cooked foods, and even eating chicken and fish quite often.

We saw great progress. But we were still fatigued, and Dougie was very frustrated and tantrummy all the time. Going raw was the next natural step for our family. Fruit, veggies, nuts, seeds, berries, fats and grains are far more nutritious in their raw state (not heated above 115 degrees). Blending, sprouting or fermenting these foods makes digestion a breeze and helps add enzymes and pro-bugs to digest other foods and eliminate waste.

He was in the fast lane to recovery after a few days on an all raw diet.

So, when you see him drinking a jar of “green sludge,” as many of you call it – it may be a cucumber, cilantro, lime, kefir concoction with vitamin C and algae, to help rid him body of the heavy metal toxins that he tested positive for. When he has his morning smoothie or juice he is calm, focused, and happy.

When you smell a jar of sour veggies and wonder how a tiny man like Dougie begs for the stuff, take comfort in knowing that these are cultured vegetables. An ancient traditional food amongst many cultures. They are also probiotic and have helped reduce Dougie’s yeast problem and assist with his digestion of proteins. When he eats his cultured veggies, we do not have to worry about him getting a swollen belly after meals.

His autism came along with nutrient deficiencies and the inability to absorb those nutrients. A double-edged sword. Our doctor prescribed supplements that would’ve cost us hundreds each week. But, by feeding him those vitamins and minerals through his food and keeping them highly digestible, he is able to absorb them. How do I know? Because he gets better each day. He hasn’t even had the sniffles since we embraced this lifestyle.

He gets algae for focus; phytoplankton for EFAs and minerals; tons of greens for calcium and magnesium; and quinoa, hemp, almonds, spirulina, chia seeds avocados and coconuts for healthy fats and proteins. He eats sea veggies for their high mineral content, coconut oil for brain loving fat and so many fermented dips and drinks to help keep him clean and build an inner eco system that continues to heal.

We are raw for recovery. Dougie no longer has autism. Dougie is in recovery.

So, no – he doesn’t eat meat. And, he doesn’t eat food from boxes, bags, cans, vacuum packs or out of the microwave. In fact, we prefer that you don’t cook his food at all. We have plenty of absolutely delicious recipes that include marinating, blending, dehydrating, sprouting, fermenting, freezing, and warming these foods to keep him satisfied and healthy. In fact, since Dougie eats most things that grow on the land and in the sea, we don’t think of his diet as limiting at all.

We make breads from gluten-free grains and great tasting milks and ice creams from nuts, seeds, coconut and grains. Dougie can have milk shakes, casseroles, cakes, sandwiches, nut-cheese and crackers, noodles, soups, cereals, and anything else he wants. It is a lot of kitchen work though, I will admit.

We understand that it’s strange for many people to contemplate not being able to eat a Snicker’s bar or a cookie now and then. I make Dougie yummy raw treats from soaked nuts, grains, low glycemic sweeteners and spices that taste even better to us. It’s a transition for sure. But, since we’ve chosen this lifestyle we have found friends, restaurants and stores that have helped us tremendously. Yeah, they do have restaurants that serve this stuff!

Dougie eats differently than most of his friends and family. But, Dougie is healthy enough now to enjoy their company. He knows which foods make him feel good and which ones make him sick. It’s important that you show respect for his food and join him in eating, even if you have something different on your plate. We eat like him because we are his parents. As he grows, we’d like him to feel at home in your care, so please pose your questions about his diet in a positive tone. He loves to talk about what he’s eating.

We’ve gotten many harsh comments from family and friends in the past because of our decision to feed our family in this manner. I hope you understand now, that as parents we have to do what’s right by our son. And we are so overjoyed that we discovered this way of eating. Dougie has inspired better health in our household and many others.

His progress really speaks for itself.

But, I will definitely continue to post more information that can help you understand the way he eats and what you can offer him when he’s in your care.

Thanks for listening

6 responses to “Caregiver’s Guide to the Raw Vegan Child

  1. Beautiful story Gina! My family and I are on a similar quest. We discoverd the damage of MSG in foods, and went organic and fresh as possible. My son who is very sensitve to MSG had a hard time in his first years of life. Today he is healthy happy child. He turns down food other kids are feeding on with a smile and say “No Thanks, I have my own food”. It is amaizing when your eyes are open to what poison is out there in the food chain.
    I will be doing some more research on this lifestyle, becasue I would like to take what we are doing further.

    Dougie has wonderful parents!

    Patrick

  2. How very profound! It is a constant struggle for me to explain the reasons why I have chosen to go all organic; especially now that I am a mom. People tend to believe that she is being denied something, before they are ready to embrace the healing elements. As for our experience, my daughter is much healthier and way less finicky than other children her age. She craves raw fruits and veggies, and she has even turned down a cookie for a slice of raw tomato. I will always be happy about my decision to start her off on this path. I haven’t gone raw as of yet, but this post is definitley inspiring.

  3. Thank you so much for your comments, Stephanie and Patrick! I’m writing to you form super bowl party where my son and I shared a collard and mixed green salad with nuts, sprouts and garbanzo beans. everyone else is eating bbq’d meatballs from a bag So, its good to make that connection with people who are attempting to make healthier changes. Thanks a bunch for reading. There’s lot more to come

  4. Gina – great story, I have such sympathy for your situation. I have asperger’s syndrome, a “lite” version of autism, tho the jury is really out on all that. I’m skeptical of curing autism with diet, but I know from my own switch to mostly raw about a year ago, I feel much clearer, & my 8 year old son is noticeably more even tempered when he eats high raw. I was a child of a very straight mom in the 60s. She did everything her dr said, including stopping breastfeeding at about a week. Also I was on ABs from 6 months to 6 years. She fed me as she was told to – lots of clever processed foods. I have a nice IQ, like many on the spectrum, but am socially deficient. Who can say if I was brought low by her choices? Yet she was being as responsible as possible, following all professional advice. I’m so glad the climate has shifted & we are able to even think of doing our own research, making our own decisions.

    I chose to have my son at home, a choice not popular with everyone. And now I feed him a lot of raw, & also meat in the form of homemade jerky. Again, I get some looks from my mother. But life is more complex than ever in our medical & diet choices. It is up to each of us to be aggressive consumers & find the right path for ourselves & our families. Even tho I admit I don’t totally see that cure is possible thru diet, your site & story contains many ideas & thoughts that invite readers to research further, to see that they might be able to affect change beyond the detached & mainstreamed opinions of the medical community..

    • Susan,

      Good to hear that raw is helping your family. I home school my son as well and find it so liberating. We can learn anywhere we want to and connect with others who are doing the same. He is really flourishing. I hope that we will have more resources for that soon. If you are in Chicago, I’m forming a group for home schoolers which includes the Sensory Expressions Workshop (beginning at the end of March). Let me know if you are interested.

      I don’t say that I am curing autism.. I say that I am undoing it.. or recovering it because that is what we are doing here. Cure seems so easy, huh? its a complicated heavy subject. But we are unraveling the painful side effects of it and we are doing it mostly with diet. But of course, we are doing MANY other things to compliment this lfestyle: sensory learning, EFT, Reiki, exercise, yoga, time in nature, son-rise program, waldorf school…..it began with diet and diet continues to be the key ingredient. I only know my son, and those whom I have worked with, so of course I do not speak for everyone.

      Again, thanks for your insight! Great to hear from you!
      Gina

  5. How wonderful that your son is doing better! Raw foods can really learn to miracles, I see it almost everyday. Thanks for sharing,
    Joanna.

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