Reply To: Newly diagnosed 7 year old with angry, out of control behavior

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Hi, there,

I’m sorry for the delayed response! Yes, you can absolutely see the behavior happen same day and into next day. My daughter, who is 17 and has known for a long time that she needs to avoid dairy and eggs, stole the last of my dinner, which had lots of dairy and one or two eggs in it. Later that evening she came unglued about her brother using the computer to do his homework when she needed to use it for hers (normally they both have school-issued computers, but tech had taken them back and they had to share the home computer). Frustrated, shouting, crying, you name it. And it starts because it makes her brain foggy, so she just couldn’t think her way through anything.

If you try an elimination diet, you’ll really need to give it a few weeks to see the symptoms subside, because your child has probably had the reactive food in his system for so long it will take time to clear it out and feel better. Usually they recommend 6 weeks before reintroducing foods. Ideally, you would want to eliminate the big ones: Dairy, eggs, gluten, soy, corn, and food additives. Stick to whole, nutritious foods like fresh vegetables, fruits, fish (really good for ADHD brains!). If you see improvements, and are ready to try reintroducing foods, do it one at a time and take note of behaviors, and ask teachers to give you feedback on behaviors at school. Elimination diets are definitely the harder way to go, but it’s free.

Alternately, most insurances are now covering a food sensitivity panel. It’s different from an allergy panel. If you can get that done, it will do part of your work for you by identifying the foods your child reacts to, and you can eliminate those and observe.

You may not have any choice but to try an elimination diet, unless you are working with a physician who understands how foods and diet specifically affect ADHD and Autism spectrum people. Conventional allergists won’t do it, they don’t believe in it. The science is finally beginning to catch up on this with the discovery of the gut-brain connection. ADHD/AS tend to have more porous guts, so larger molecules “leak” through the porous gut into the bloodstream and can cause reactions. Sometimes physical, like diarrhea or loose bowels, sometimes behavioral, like rage or out of control impulsivity.

A word about dairy: After having done a lot of reading over the years, we learned that ADHD and autism spectrum can be reactive to casein, which is the protein in milk. Then we learned about the difference between A1 cattle and A2 cattle (it’s a genetic divergence that happened thousands of years ago, and affects the casein. Jerseys and Guernseys are A2 cows, and Holsteins are A1. Most of the dairy cattle in the US are A1 (Holsteins and others) because of high yield. A2 cows are lower producers, but the milk is creamier. This is now becoming more mainstream, and you can find A2/A2 milk and dairy in regular grocery stores, and more products in Whole Foods. Most people tolerate the A2/A2 (which just means that it’s not a hybrid cow, but both parents of the cow are A2). We were able to really test this the first time when we went to Iceland on a family vacation. Their entire herd is A2/A2, and the country has laws about introducing any other genetics. My husband and daughter ate butter, skyr, drank milk, ate cheese, and even ice cream–with no negative effects, whatsoever!! It’s been a revelation! And now we can easily buy A2 milk, cream, cheese here in the US, we make our own yogurt with it, and I buy imported Icelandic butter for not much more than local butter. And it doesn’t bother them!

Give it a try. In general a whole food diet without the big offenders (dairy, eggs, corn, soy, gluten) is the best diet for ADHD/AS, so you really have nothing to lose!

Good luck!!