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There’s a fair amount of controversy right now about what the most optimal diet is for people in general.  Paleo.  Ketogenic.  Whole 30.  What’s the right one?
Start asking about diets that are best for special needs and your head may start hurting.  While there is good quality research for certain conditions such as a Ketogenic diet for seizures and a diet rich in Zinc and Magnesium to minimize risk for depression, the data for other conditions can be mixed.
Take Autism for example, while Gluten free or Gluten free Casein free diets are popular with a fair amount of anecdotal evidence, some main stream research trials report little benefit.  Omega 3 fatty acids for a variety of cognitive concerns is thought to be very helpful, but the best form to take them in still raises questions.  Let’s be honest, are you or your kids really going to consume the recommended amount of krill, mackerel, or salmon every single day?
So, what’s the best diet for you or your child?   Well, I actually have an answer for you.  It’s what works best for your individual situation.  If you have a child who subsists off breaded chicken nuggets and fries only, and struggles to eat just about anything else because of their restrictive eating pattern, I wish you the best with a sudden change to Gluten free or Ketogenic (can you say tantrum with a capital T?)  What about those with multiple allergies or other medical problems that further complicate the picture?
When I was in school I was taught anytime we were starting with a new medication, we had to start low and go slow.  Then we had to be patient, both with the patient (pun intended) and the medicine.   When we’re talking about diet and nutrition changes, this is just as true.  Three months is the typical time for any nutrition trial to take optimal effect due to number of cascades and downstream changes that take place in the brain.
Resist the urge to go with every new food fad.  It may be popular this year but with three to five more years of research, it’s likely to change.  That’s because studies take time and we are learning new things all the time – that’s a good thing.  But don’t be discouraged when you hear that what was helpful five years ago is no longer being tauted as helpful now.  I tend to stick with things that have been around for centuries that are known to be helpful to the entire body.  Things that are closest to the natural source are usually best.   If natural substances used for thousands of years have been good enough to maintain the health of entire civilizations, it’s probably going to be pretty good for you and your child – if you can get them to eat it.
(More on helping your picky eater tomorrow 🙂

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