Broadly speaking, there are two ways to go about this: cold turkey or gradual. What you choose depends on your child and your circumstances. However, regardless of what you decide, here are some tips that can make the transition a smooth one.
- Attitude is key. Kids pick up on our lack of confidence, our nervousness, our uncertainty. Before beginning the diet, take a moment to get excited about what you are about to do. Believe, without question, that it will reap all the great rewards you have been hearing about. Do not think about how you are "depriving" your child, instead become enthusiastic for how you will be giving your child the gift of health. Accept that it might be hard at first, that your child might resist, but that you will stand firm and confident that this is the right road for you to take.
- In most cases children adjust and accept the diet more easily if the whole house is SCD and there are no illegals to be had. In addition to eliminating the the risk of infraction, without any illegals available there is less chance that the child will go on a hunger strike hoping you will cave in.
- Don't be surprised and alarmed if behaviours and stools get worse before they get better. Usually this is die-off, an indication that the diet is helping your child. If the stools and behaviours continue beyond 10 days consider possibilities other than die-off such as too much fruit.
Link to initial temporary symptoms.
- Transitions and changes in routine are difficult for many ASD children. It could help to spend a few days (or a week, whatever is appropriate for your child) explaining the changes you will be making in their food choices beginning on a specified day. Again, convey a positive attitude about this. When that day comes, you should have the food selection look as enticing as possible.
- During the intro diet, many kids will crave forbidden foods
Try to find activities that will distract the children from thinking about food. Buy a new video game or home movies. Let the kids spend the whole day on the computer or watching TV. Parents have reported that going on outings has helped. Pack lunch boxes and thermos bottles.
- There are special techniques to help picky children start the diet.
Click here to view these techniques.
- For some children, it could help to explain why you are doing SCD. If he/she has overt diarhea, mushy stools, or constipation, a simple explanation could be that this diet helps people's bellies feel better, or makes their poops healthy. For those without overt digestive problems, an explanation could be that the SCD is a healthy diet that the family is going to follow.
- While many parents ultimately decide to keep their child on SCD indefinitely,
some children, when starting the diet, feel better if they know that they won't
be giving up their beloved foods forever. You could explain that you are going
to try this diet for X amount of time (3 months, 3 years etc.) and then you'll
decide about whether or not to continue. (At which point many kids feel better
and won't mind staying on it.) One mother made a 100-year timeline, assuming
a 100-year lifespan, and showed what 2 years looks like. Then she explained
that if they followed the diet for that tiny period of time, her son would
gradually be able to eat more and more different foods. If they didn't do the
diet, he would likely remain intolerant to many foods and would spend the rest
of his life having to go everywhere with special foods.
- Some parents have reported that, for hunger strikers, it helps to have as wide a variety of legal foods readily available. Eventually the child will choose something. The one thing to be careful of with this approach is that you don't keep offering your child a new food everytime he rejects something. This pattern might lead a child to believe that he can continue to hold out until you start offering illegals. It is best to, physically or verbally, lay out all their choices at one time.
- Those familiar with ABA techniques have reported using a social or toy-based rewards system for encouraging their child to eat legal foods.
- Those who have been previously using food-based rewards systems in ABA programs should phase those out prior to starting SCD in favor of non-food rewards.
- It is well-known that there are few pre-manufactured legal foods. Consult
the Pecanbread list or the recipe section of this website to find a good substitute
for any pre-manufactured foods that your child will be giving up. For example,
legal sausage can often be made up by a butcher or by following the recipe
in Lucy's Cookbook. However, some kids initially find these substituted foods
to be unacceptable. Attempting the switch only makes them upset or angry at
the diet. For these children, it is best, obviously, to find entirely new foods
that they will like.
- Avoiding a strong die off reaction
When the pathogenic E coli bacteria die they may release a toxin. Most pathogenic bacteria have a toxin in their cell wall that gets released when they die. When many bacteria die at once, there will be an increase of bacterial toxin. Gradually decrease the amount of starches and sugar at least a week before starting, this will result in a smoother transition to SCD.
When you see negative symptoms during the first days of SCD, you should rejoice: the bad bacteria that have destroyed your child are being eliminated!
- From Elaine:
So often those first weeks are so very perplexing and worrisome. But
you think that you are giving the child what is probably the most nutritious
diet in the world - the kind of food to which man's biological machinery is
truly compatible with, and when you think that the entire world of trillions
of microorganisms (bacteria and yeast) are undergoing dramatic
transformations, hang in there, try not to worry (you are doing only good)
and you will see the light at the end of the tunnel.
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