In 2009, I was on a speaking tour that took me through several stops in and near Austin, TX. My tour sponsor and very special friend, Dr. Laurence Becker, suggested that we try to fit in a visit to see Chef Alain Braux at the People’s Rx. This amazing pharmacy is much more than the everyday pharmacy, apparently, and seeing Chef Braux would have been a highlight in my tour.
Unfortunately, m schedule didn’t coincide with his and I didn’t get to meet him then.
I learned that Chef Braux had taught a class on how to make gluten and dairy-free crème brûlée (a personal favorite) earlier that year, however, so I read about him and intended to get his book. Good intentions, as we all know, don’t always fall into place and I forgot.
Recently, Chef Braux contacted me to inquire if I would like to review his book. Would I? My goodness… that was like asking Santa himself if he would like to sample cookies. I was thrilled and honored to be given this opportunity.
I am reading Chef Braux’s wonderful book, Living Gluten and Dairy free with French Gourmet Food and I’m happy to share that his very unique crème brûlée recipe is on page 272! I haven’t made it yet but I will soon! And, I’m delighted to share that this well written book is almost as good as meeting Chef Braux in person! I will share the review of this book in January, 2013.
1. When and how did you first become aware of autism?
I have never been personally affected by Autism nor has anyone in my family – although suspect (not confirmed) that I might be ADD. No big deal. My exposure to Autism happened through my nutrition therapy work for moms with autistic children at their wits’ end and not knowing how to feed their children gluten, dairy and soy-free food.
2. How would you describe autism?
Not being a doctor, I cannot offer a clinical explanation for it. My understanding from direct moms’ explanations is that (most of the time) they noticed that after their child’s vaccination, they started to behave completely different than before they had their vaccine. They became asocial, could not function in “normal” social environment, no eye contact, very short tempers, temper tantrums, refused to eat normal food or focused exclusively on certain foods – typically bad food that would affect their brain negatively.
3. You are a Nutritherapist. Can you elaborate on this please?
I have found from personal experience with my clients’ children that a diet void of gluten, dairy and soy improved their behavior tremendously.
It appears that through the child’s leaky gut, the damaged villi lining its small intestine, allows incompletely digested proteins (also called peptides) like gluten, casein and soy protein to pass through the intestinal wall into their bloodstream. It was observed that to these affected children, these proteins turn into opioid peptides called gliadomorphin (also known as gluteomorphin) and casomorphin. After passing through the leaky gut, these opioid peptides move through the bloodstream and into their brain where they attach themselves to opiate receptors, creating an assortment of sometimes extreme sensory reactions and behaviors, similar to how a normal person might behave under the influence of opiate drugs. Removing these peptides from your child’s diet will most likely improve their social behavior.
I will never claim that diet alone can help an autistic child but it sure makes a big difference. I also found that taking the child off of any processed food loaded with chemicals, preservatives, artificial colors, excitotoxins like MSG and artificial sweeteners improved their health.
In a lot of the cases, I have had to do detective work to find out what other foods might affect these children and construct a finely tuned custom diet for that child only since no other child had the exact same food allergies. I also have to take into account what the child will and will not eat. It does not matter how good a food might be to a child, if he/she refuses to eat it, it will not help him/her. That is why my interaction with their mom is most important. They’re on the front line and deal with their child on a daily basis. Moms do know best and they indeed know their child better than anyone else, including a doctor or me.
4. As a Nutritherapist, what would you say to a person with autism?
So far, I have worked with the moms of autistic children because they are the ones cooking the food for their child. Because I am not clinically trained in how to interact with these children, I rarely meet the child directly, although I have had the opportunity on occasions. If I was talking to an autistic adult, I would offer similar advices than I offer to the moms of smaller children and construct a diet around their specific needs, likes and dislikes.
5. Is it possible for a person on a specialized diet to eat for less than $10 a day?
I will not lie to you. It will not be easy but it is very possible if you know what, where and how to buy your food.
A lot of moms are fooled into eating processed and packaged gluten and dairy-free foods. Junk food is junk food no matter how it’s packaged.
Most of the time it’s loaded with sugar which is another potent drug affecting your child’s brain. Stay away from it as much as possible. Besides, it costs a lot more money to buy packaged GFCF food. Stick to home-made, mom-made fresh food. That will save your food budget from a deep funk.
In my book “Healthy French Cuisine on Less Than $10/Day”, I offer a lot of shopping and cooking advice to help you keep your specialized diet within a reasonable food budget. All the recipes in that book also are gluten and dairy-free. Of course, I realize than some moms do not have the ability to stay at home to cook fresh meals for their children. But with the right guidance, it can be done.
6. What has been the most challenging with regards to you helping others to eat healthy?
I hate to say it but it has been my experience that dealing with adults’ diet changes is very difficult. Why? Because their food habits, likes and dislikes are already formed and deeply ingrained. Unless they are very sick, it’s very difficult for them to appreciate the benefits of a healthy diet and to change their lifestyle accordingly.
For example, I had a sweet lady that had all sorts of health issue. Despite my guiding her, I could not get her to eat ONE apple or one fresh salad a day, not one. How distressing is that? I tried to help her, she knew it, yet she could not change her behavior to a healthier lifestyle. That is why I prefer to work with children. With them, I feel I can help them grow up to live a life that is as normal as possible. Teach them right while they’re still young and they will be self-sufficient the rest of their life.
Another problem I see sometimes is that the mom does not know how to cook and despairs when she sees a menu loaded with freshly cooked food and from scratch cooking. If they can afford it, I suggest the services of a private chef but it’s not always financially possible. If the mom is willing to learn, I suggest she takes basic cooking classes at a local store and I try my best to offer her simple recipes. I also offer private cooking classes but that could also turn out expensive. In Austin, there are a few catering business that will work with my guidance and specific menu and cook them for these clients but again this would cost a lot more than $10/per person/day.
7. Do you have a success story related specifically to someone with a form of autism?
So far, I have dealt with autistic children mostly on the lower autistic scale. I haven’t had an opportunity to work in a clinical environment with more complicated cases. These establishments typically do not consider diet change as a viable healing medium. I disagree with them of course, but what can I do? I just keep on preaching the best I can.
8. What are you the most proud of accomplishing?
It’s a very satisfying experience to be able to see a child’s health and behavioral improvements through diet. The clients’ best experiences I had were with children. It’s a miracle to see their changes and see them turn into a perfectly functioning, happier little guys/girls.
I have witnessed some children reduce half of their drug intake through the use of the proper diet.
9. What is the #1 tool you would like to give to people who have autism or who are helping others with autism?
Being a Nutritherapist chef, I can only address the diet aspect of their treatment. Not being affected myself, it is hard for me to answer this question. I would suggest that they use my food and diet suggestions above and in my books.
10. What is the greatest lesson in life that you ever learned? *How did this change your outlook?
Wow! That’s a big one. In my previous professional life as a pastry chef, all I was concerned with was how tasty and how good my cakes were. Until about 15 years ago, I never concerned myself with the effects – good or bad – of food on one’s health. Then, while I still had my French Café and Bakery in Austin, a vegetarian assistant of mine asked me why there were no vegetarian dishes on my menu. Being raise and trained in the traditional French cooking and baking, it never crossed my mind before. That started a chain of events that led me to this day. It made me wonder, “How can I combine my experience as a chef and my newfound interest in nutrition to help people live a healthier and happier life?”
I first created a few vegetarian dishes then started to wonder about how food affected peoples’ health. Then I decided to study the macrobiotic lifestyle and diet. After that, feeling a little limited by that Japanese way of life, I extended my nutrition studies to holistic nutrition. That helped me a lot and brought me back to my original diet: the Mediterranean diet. It turned out that the diet I grew up on was considered one of the healthiest diets ever. So I went back to that diet to help lower my cholesterol through diet and it worked.
I wanting to share my experience with other people needing to lower without the use of chemical drugs, I wrote my fist book “How to Lower Your Cholesterol with French Gourmet Food”. By then I had found employment at Peoples Pharmacy in Austin, an alternative pharmacy using – among many other alternative health modalities – quality food as a potential healing medium. My boss suggested using my knowledge in food and nutrition to help people with gluten and dairy allergies. That brought about “Living Gluten and Dairy-free with French Gourmet Food” and it helped quite a few people. After that, a few of my clients challenged me, “How can I eat healthy on a tight budget?” Loving a challenge, I wrote “Healthy French Cuisine for Less Than 10/Day” and Voila! Years later, I am a full fledge nutrition therapist or Nutritherapist.
• – To that I say Félicitations! For my review on Chef Alain Braux’ book Living Gluten and Dairy-free with French Gourmet Food, please visit my Reviews section here: <a href=”http://autismwithrhonda.com/category/rhondas-reviews/“>http://autismwithrhonda.com/category/rhondas-reviews
Your comments, questions and suggestions are welcomed and appreciated. Ill-willed comments of any kind are not allowed here. Please be kind. The law of attraction is always at work: that which you sow, so shall you grow. Thank you and have an incredibly blessed day!
Proud to be the mom of two incredibly awesome boys! One just happens to have Asperger’s Syndrome. Both teach me how to be grateful for life every day.
By Rhonda Spellman, Founder of The Creative Cranium Concept®
Creator of The HINT Game®, The Write Story® and more for children!
Reaching, Teaching and Inspiring Those with Special Abilities