The Cunningham Regimen

A Personal Autism Diet

I’m not a doctor, nutritionist, or an expert on autism.  None of this is prescriptive, only sharing what’s helped me so far, everyone is different.  Never change any medication or add supplements without talking to a doctor first. Don’t die a slow and painful death because of something you read on the Internet.

Here’s where I’m at after a few years of researching diet and supplements to try to be more healthy and ease things like anxiety, irritability, depression, and nerve pain. This article is best read while listening to Tchaikovsky.

General Diet and Exercise

Intermittent Fasting – 2-3+ days a week. It has many proven benefits. Consider making “snake juice” to replace electrolytes when fasting, especially for longer term fasts. Low-carb, high healthy fats, grass-fed beef, etc… (basically keto).  Cut out most processed foods and lower sugars. Casein free/Gluten free (within reason, make sure you are getting enough calcium from other sources). I’ll still have cheat meals where I eat whatever I want. I’d like a milkshake right now actually…

Sunlight – If you aren’t able to get outside in the mornings, consider a therapy lamp 15-20 minutes to help with your circadian rhythm for a healthy mood and sleep cycle. Consider starting a small garden outside. I love growing plants from seed, it’s therapeutic and rewarding.  I have plants all over the inside and outside of my house.

Exercise – Take baby steps and be encouraged by small improvements.  This is much better than setting up a program too difficult you likely will fail.  Walking 15 minutes when it’s sunny outside is a good step from nothing. I like kettlebells when I’m inside.  Push ups are great, so is a stabilizer ball. Stretching is more beneficial than you might think.  Check out this video on fixing your posture.

Gut Health – Your gut is like your second brain. Much of my anxiety and depression was eased when I addressed these issues.  Much of the food and supplements I take are related to this.

Avoid Synthetics, Pesticides, Heavy Metals, and Parabens – I’ve done much better overall after researching the ingredients of everything I put on me and in me, avoiding environmental toxins when possible. I usually don’t even drink out of aluminum cans anymore. I realized for years as a child with ASD, I didn’t want to take a shower from anxiety. Much of that panic stopped when I switched to natural soap and shampoo.  Some of course was the sensory overload from the water drops and noise. Dr. Bronner’s hemp and peppermint castile soap I’ve enjoyed.

Natural/Organic Ingredients I use a lot of baking soda, vinegar, and coconut oil. Recipes are available for making your own natural deodorant.  Bonus Tip: Soaking your feet in hot water with half a cup of Epsom salts and 1 cup of apple cider vinegar 15-20 minutes twice a week will help your feet not smell like feet.

Water  I mostly drink water, carbonated water, or green tea.  Maybe a little 100% juice for some vitamin C or adding to my blender shake.  Avoid soft drinks. Try and avoid caffeine/coffee after noon-3pm. I have cheat days with this also, especially if I’m eating out.

Daily Blender Shake

I don’t enjoy eating vegetables so I like to blend them all up drink it in a smoothie. I start to feel tired and depressed when I go a full day without this. Many would be surprised how vital these whole food sourced nutrients and amino acids actually are.   After intermittent fasting and drinking this shake, I have most of the vitamins I need and then can eat whatever I want at night. I toss this all in, add water, blend it, then chug it down in 5 seconds. Get as many different colors (phytonutrients!) as possible.

Ingredients:

Spinach

Baby Carrots – A great source for beta-carotene (converts to Vitamin A). Regular carrots also work but not nearly as adorable!

Walnuts/Almonds – Also keep on hand for snacking, great fat/protein.

Chia or Flax Seeds – Or both.

Blueberries

Sunflower lecithinCholine source.

Whey Protein Powder – Grass fed, clean ingredients.

(Sometimes I’ll add a little coconut oil depending on my olive/MCT oil intake. Maybe a few mushrooms for selenium, tomato for lycopene, and I eat/cook with a lot of garlic.)

Vitamins, Minerals, Supplements

Always try and get nutrients from healthy, whole foods before looking to supplements in pill/capsule form.

AM

Magnesium – Calming, good for muscle cramps. It’s difficult to get enough magnesium, even with a healthy diet. Studies have shown 68%-80% of American’s are magnesium deficient. Much of this is due to deficiencies in our soil. Parents have reported up to 46% of children improve with B6 and Magnesium added to their diets (not mega-doses).

Vitamin D3/K2 – Many are deficient, always take K2 with D3.

CBD OilSuccessful in helping 80% of autistic children.  Always look for 3rd party lab reports when buying CBD oil.  Many “CBD” products on the market aren’t what they say they are since the FDA isn’t regulating this yet.  I use Lazarus Naturals, they have great discounts for the Disabled and Veterans. 10mg under the tongue is a good starter dose; after tolerance I take around 30mg, 3x a day.  It’s been the most beneficial thing I’ve ever taken and wrote more about endocannabinoid deficiencies and the plant in general here. I also find Flowerchild’s CBG oil helpful for social anxiety.

NACAn amino acid that helps with many mental and physical issues.

MCT oil, 1Tbsp – (I replace this with extra virgin olive oil on day’s I’m not intermittent fasting). This is also helping with absorption of the other supplements.

PM

Omega 3 – (I look for high DHA) from fish/krill oil.  Some with autism do well with fish oil, others may not.  Only try one new supplement at a time so if something doesn’t work, so you know which one is helping or causing an issue.

NAC – Often take this a bit earlier in the afternoon when the AM one stops working.

Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO) – 1Tbsp. I also cook with this rather than vegetable oils.

Zinc/B6 – Some use Mag/Zinc/B6 all together in a supplement called ZMA for sleep and muscle growth. I was already taking magnesium so I simply added a zinc/b6 supplement. I’d lean towards a lower dose like 15mg rather than the 50mg options and get most of the zinc in food (again, not a doctor).

Magnesium – Sleep.

Lemon Balm – Helps you stay asleep.  Passion flower, valerian, and chamomile also can help.  If you take melatonin, look for a small dose like .3mg (300mcg); I wouldn’t go above 1mg to avoid daytime drowsiness.  Less is more with melatonin (also see black seed oil below).

Miscellaneous

Turmeric Tea – I drink Turmeric “Golden milk” tea most evenings.  It has many health benefits like reducing inflammation, so I can use it over ibuprofen in most cases.  If I’m lazy I’ll just quickly mix the turmeric, cinnamon, ginger, and black pepper together in water and drink it quick; maybe along a little olive or MCT oil for better absorption.  If I have more time I’ll heat it up in almond milk and add a little honey.

Milk Thistle – Liver support.

Caffeine Tablets – Easier on the teeth and stomach than coffee.

Panax Ginseng – As needed for mood energy.  Needs to be cycled, 2-3 days max or loses effectiveness.  Other adaptogens like ashwagandha or rhodiola help many but they didn’t for me.  Rhodiola is often good for people who work long hours or labor jobs.

L-Tyrosine – Can also be cycled 2-3 days for mood/energy.

CreatineBeneficial in many ways, not just for exercise.

Psyllium Husk – A great fiber.  Saves you a fortune on toilet paper and prevents mud-butt.

Inulin – A good prebiotic fiber.  Some do well with probiotics also. These can be found in pill/powder form or from natural food sources.

Apple Cider Vinegar – 1tsp to 1tbsp.  This helps my heartburn, got me off the prilosec.  Mix it in water to avoid throat irritation.

IodineMany are deficient in iodine leading to health problems, even with the iodine added to some forms of salt. I take one single drop of J. Crows Lugol’s 2% in a glass of water (equals 1mg iodine/2mg potassium iodine).

Black Seed OilPhytochemicals are pretty cool. Helps with pain, relaxation, and mood. Really starting to like this one. Many use it for sleep.

Alpha-GPC – As needed if you want more choline crossing the blood/brain barrier for exercise or greater focus when studying.

I also supplement plenty of Vivaldi.


2 comments on “The Cunningham Regimen

  1. Rhonda King

    Wow brother, I am truly impressed! I am encouraged to be more proactive with my health❤️️🙌👏

    Liked by 1 person

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