A Gluten-free, Dairy-free & Reduced Refined Sugar Hamper for a Friend
My friend Aimee is attempting a Gluten-free, Dairy-free & Reduced Refined Sugar diet with her son, so when she looked after all three of my girls one evening last week, so I could have an evening out with Crevette, I made a hamper full of goodies for her.
Aimee has had a really tough year in so many ways, with bereavement, a difficult job she had to leave and a truly awful time trying to juggle it all with her son not coping at school. Daniel is one of the sweetest, nicest little boys I know. He has been one of Jumpy’s closest friends since they were 2 years old and they get on like a house on fire. Look at his little face!
Dan is not doing as well as he could do at school. He cannot concentrate. He is not fully accessing the curriculum and his progress is slow. Add in a lot of misunderstandings with other children that lead him to appear violent and you’re in for a disastrous situation. Staff at the school and doctors suggested Daniel could be on the autistic spectrum or have ADHD, but getting some form of assessment and guidance on the NHS takes ages and ages and ages.
Aimee is in limbo, trying everything she possibly can, and goodness know this mama on a mission is trying everything she can. Aimee was getting daily (or near enough) phone calls from school when she was at work and she has now left her job to concentrate on Daniel. Dan has a chart with very tight schedule to ensure he completes all vital tasks like eating, self-care, getting dressed and school work. It all has to be regimented so Dan doesn’t get upset or thrown off guard. He takes a lot longer than most to complete very simple tasks (eating an average portion of food takes him about an hour, writing about 5 sentences with a lot of support can take an hour as well), and I have no idea on earth how Aimee copes and keeps her cool.
I love Daniel to bits. He’s the most loveable, cuddly little boy I know. When he has sleepovers at home, he gives me the best cuddles and it feels like that little man is part of my family. He has never ever been violent towards any of my children. How come he is so different at school and struggling so much to behave appropriately with his classmates, hitting them, kicking off, shouting? Aimee and I had a long chat on Friday and it seems like ‘home’ and ‘school’ are the two key environments in Daniel’s life. If he manages to be 100% ‘good’ in one of the environment, it takes him so much effort and hard work to repress anger, stress and anxiety that he simply cannot control his behaviour in the other.
Sorry, that was a lot of oversharing but I love this little boy like he’s my own and I needed to write this. Anyhoo… Aimee has done a lot of reading about children on the autistic spectrum, and a lot of what she read mentioned going on a diet that would be free form gluten, dairy and reduced refined sugar. What could she lose by trying it? I am not going to say it is a miracle diet that solved all of Daniel’s issues overnight, but so far, it has helped. Daniel is less impulsive. He can focus on what he is being told and he ‘kicks off’ a lot less.
If you are in a similar situation to Aimee, you might like this blog post my friend Reneé wrote recently.
Going Gluten, Dairy & Reduced Refined Sugar
Going ‘free from’ with my baby is one of the hardest thing I have ever done (I know, I know, first world problem and all that) and I really feel for Aimee. With hindsight, when I started Jumpy on an exclusion diet, it was so so much easier than what Aimee is going through. Jumpy was a baby and she was at the weaning stage. As my friend Cé would say, “She’s not going to miss what she’s never tried!” True!
It is a different story for Aimee: at 6 and a half years of age, Daniel has tried it all. The gorgeous glutinous bread, the sweets, the thick, frothy milkshakes. If he was 16, it would be easy to explain to him that trying a new diet might help him. Try explaining that to a 6-year-old! There have been successes and there have been disasters. Aimee cooks a lot and she often ends up eating her ‘free from’ treats herself, simply because Dan won’t touch most of the gluten-free, dairy-free & reduced refined sugar goodies offered to him. I don’t blame him. ‘Free from’ stuff can be so plain and ‘blah’ compared to the real stuff! why does it often taste like cardboard half of the time?
Gluten-free, Dairy-free & Refined Sugar Free Cooking Session
Last week, Aimee and I had a cooking session together. We made baguettes and chocolate muffins that were free from Gluten, Dairy & reduced refined sugar. It was good to do that together! Aimee was looking after my three girls that night so she deserved a real treat. Enter this pretty hamper full of Gluten, Dairy & reduced refined sugar goodies (I didn’t actually give her the hamper – she went home with a plastic bag, ha ha!)
If you are after more gluten, dairy and reduced refined sugar recipes, check these two websites: Our Autism Diet and The Free From Fairy.
I also have a fair few recipes on here that are suitable for a diet that avoids dairy, gluten and refined sugar. Check these:
- Banana Pancakes
- Chocolate Ice cream
- Quick & Easy Rainbow Snacks
- Dairy & Gluten-free Lunchboxes
- Healthy Brownies
- Creamy Carrot Soup
- Brined Chicken
Gluten-free, Dairy-free & (Mostly) Reduced Refined Sugar Free Favourites
The things in this hamper are the ones the ‘free from’ I like the most, despite my being a ‘free from’ food sceptic.
Here are our favourite Gluten, Dairy & reduced refined sugar essentials, in no particular order. I did not manage to grab all of our favourites on the day, but I still listed them below. Please always check the labels as some of those products might have a ‘may contain’ warning.
Schär Pretzels & Grissini
Aduna Super-Cacao Powder
Marks & Spencer Gluten-free, Lightly Salted Tortilla chips
The Free From Fairy Flour: self-raising & plain
Lazy Day Foods Treats
Please note that these are not free from refined sugar, but they are so so good, and vegan too!
Sweet Freedom Choc Shot
It is our favourite way to sweeten treats naturally.
Moo Free Chocolate
Although it is not free from refined sugar, this chocolate is perfect as the occasional treat and it is hands down the best gluten-free, dairy-free milk chocolate we have ever tried.
nākd Bars & Nibbles
‘Free From’ Pasta
Jumpy’s fabsolute favourite is Tesco Free From Spaghetti.
Schwartz Gluten-free Flavour Packs
These little packs are cheap, and they are perfect for fuss-free meals. Not all of them are dairy-free, so check the labels.
Are you on a Gluten-free, Dairy-free & Reduced Refined Sugar Diet? Are there any other products you swear by and love?
It so happens that the Free From Awards 2017 took place last week, so if you fancy a look at what’s hot at the moment, check the winners here.
I have just booked my tickets for the Allergy & ‘Free From’ Show on 7-9th July in London (Olympia). Click here if you want free tickets too.
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Disclosure: This blog post includes a few links to Amazon products. As I am an affiliate, if you click on these products and make a purchase, I may get a small commission.
Please note that I have no medical knowledge whatsoever and I have not read any in-depth research papers about the validity of going gluten, dairy and refined-sugar free when you are on the spectrum. I asked Aimee whether she was happy for me to share her story and a photo I took of Daniel as I find it all heart-wrenching, and I am pretty sure she is not the only one in this kind of situation.
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