6.27.2014

One Healthier Autistic Dude

Last year at this time, Leo met with an endocrinologist to assess his health. Partially due to the medication he takes to help him manage his anxiety, he had elevated blood sugar and triglycerides. The first put him at risk for diabetes, the second for pancreatitis. Both of those conditions, in case there are any doubts, are best avoided if possible. The endocrinologist recommended eliminating sugar from his diet, increasing exercise,
Leo walking the new Devil's Slide trail.
[Description: teenage boy with a blue &
orange jacket and gray shorts, seen from
behind, walking the dashed yellow line on a
black asphalt bike lane, with bushes, hills, &
fog in the background.]
increasing his daily dosage of cod liver oil, and meeting back in a year to see how he was doing.

We did all of those things. Yes, more fish oil (he didn't mind). We removed juice from our house, eliminated sweets except for special occasions and even then reduced portions (bringing along substitutes like apple slices), and stepped up his exercise program with track running and stretching, soccer, swimming, and more hiking.

And guess what? It worked.

His blood sugar is now within acceptable limits. His triglyceride level was halved. His height/weight ratio (as a side effect) improved significantly, by medical standards anyhow. So that's good. Diet and exercise really do matter. Who knew.

Leo still has room to improve. He still needs less sugar and more fiber/whole grains. His morning yogurt -- practically his only calcium source -- is quite sugary. So we'll try cutting that with plain yogurt. He eats bagels for breakfast a few times each week; we can swap the plain version for whole wheat. And there is always portion control -- lately we've been bringing thinly sliced apples everywhere -- increasing the crunching/chewing to volume ratio seems to satisfy him.

But I'm proud of him, and relieved. (And hoping to follow his example as two days ago my own doctor read me my own medical riot act re: cholesterol & triglycerides, damn it all.)

4 comments:

  1. I don't know if this went through the first time, iPad is being snarky.

    My husband was also read the riot act regarding cholesterol and triglycerides, several times, however his doctor also told him a good portion of it is most likely genetic. Rather than giving him meds, he tried fish oil and niacin, which did decreased the triglycerides pretty significantly. For him. Not a suggestion, just an observation. ;) awesome job Leo!

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  2. We don't have access to specialists in public system but our psychiatrist (who supervises meds for anxiety) monitors bloods for Liam & Grace for the same issues. Liam takes Metformin to prevent diabetes as he was getting heavy too. I was so proud to find he had dropped 3 kilos last visit due to stricter management of diet. I find that free runs work best. I've 2 local parks where I can take both kids and let them run wild, whooping, flapping and scripting without fear of cars or hazards. One park is more genteel but I have no inhibitions about letting my kids be who they are and explaining later. I read somewhere that fresh air and trees can really help with Anxiety & hyperactivity symptoms. Holding hands and walking carefully up a sidewalk or in the mall doesn't have the same benefit. Coincidentally both parks have water! We feed ducks in the city park and run beside a stream in the other. We are descended from Mermaids so this is important to us. xx

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  3. If he likes the sweetness, you could try adding some stevia into the plain yogurt that you mix in. It's an all natural, zero calorie sweetener.

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  4. If your son likes fruit, he could try a thing I do: Plain yoghurt with sweet fruit or berries mixed in. If it's a texture issue, pop it in a food processor (I hate chunky yoghurt). Similar flavor to fruit-flavored yoghurts, not as much sugar.

    As well, consider meeting with a registered dietician if you haven't already. I did when I had some dietary-related health issues (hypoglycemia - basically I have to follow a diet similar to that used by people with diabetes even though I don't have diabetes because my pancreas releases too much insulin if I eat too much sugar) arise and it really was worth the time and money. The dietician will have some suggestions for ways to make other food substitutions

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