The catalyst for change in our life was finding the Feingold Diet (http://www.feingold.org/) in 2011. It is a diet tailored towards people who have sensitivity to or specific known allergies to the chemicals used in artificial food colors, artificial flavorings, artificial fragrances, preservatives (BHA, BHT, TBHQ), synthetic sweeteners, and surprisingly natural salicylates (includes a big list of fruits and vegetables along with Aspirin).
People who have these sensitivities, and are eating foods or using products which contain them, can exhibit behaviors typically labeled as Hyperactive, ADD, ADHD or they could have chronic headaches, migraines, rashes, sleeping issues (just to name a few). In the simplest explanation I can think of, the Feingold Diet is a natural route to removing the triggers of these behaviors or symptoms, with their motto being “Nutrition is a Better Way.”
Here is a list of the symptoms this simple diet can help.
My son, J, was born 5-weeks premature, and with that came a never ending guest list of doctors and on-going appointments. From early 2008 to late 2010, he was pumped full of at least 5 different daily lung and allergy medications.
As is typical with preemies, and more specifically boy-preemies, his sensory system didn’t get a chance to fully develop. What little he had, was overwhelmed with pokes, probes, procedures, evaluations, and tests… to name a few. So in addition to us being 1st time parents, when we reached the “terrible two’s” it was very hard for us to decipher the difference between unwanted behaviors that where typical for a two year old, behaviors amplified by steroids, or possibly just a poor parenting style.
As noted above, we suspected that he had some sensory integration issues, but we didn’t know exactly how much or how little those factors played into his behavior or his ability to control his own actions.
I’m really trying to keep this short.
In 2011, while we’d been trying to get him off of any unnecessary meds, we had some fantastic (super sarcastic here) experiences with multiple long-term allergy medications (which usually turned him into a really angry little guy). The last one we tried… hoping it would be a double-whammy of Allergy + Asthma relief had the most amazing side effects…crazy/angry to the extreme!! This was the 1st med that was a dis-solvable red pill. After taking him off of this little pill he returned to “our normal” very busy, unpredictable, super smart little guy.
I started doing a bunch of research after my friend saw me the Monday after that amazing weekend. I looked so overwhelmed. I felt lost and defeated. My friend told me that her son had responded the same way to the allergy medicine and he was also sensitive to dye used in so many foods, Red-40. This research led me to http://www.feingold.org, and our life changed.
We cleaned out our house of any offending products, worked with our daycare to allow us to bring in his food each day. We, and his teachers, monitored the before and after behaviors.
Within 3 to 4 days, we saw a difference… a level of calm we hadn’t experienced before… or we were hallucinating, wanting to see a change. Fortunately, his teachers also confirmed they saw changes too.
At school he was able to focus on activities a little bit longer he also started joining the group activities instead of sitting away from them. At home he was calmer, less angry, and recovered more quickly.
The results have been amazing!
Our whole family (and any guests) eat the same way. We eat better, healthier, less processed food. Think back to the farm… the way our grandparents probably ate… I believe it’s called Real Food :).
J, has been off of all medications since he was 4. We’ve identified a Natural Allergy Medicine that doesn’t turn him into Jekyll and Hyde, and rarely have to use it. We use essential oils as our first line of defense for illnesses and injuries.
Between 2011 and 2014, J completed Occupational Therapy and Physical Therapy, focused on sensory integration issues. He completed a sensory learning program through SIRRI which focused on retraining his brain to process incoming information (visual, auditory, and vestibular). Finally, he’s completed a program called Motor 2 Cognition which focuses on improving motor skills, mental organization, and visualization skills.
We’ve found the most amazing school with a self-contained gifted program. He loves the teachers, the routine, P.E. every day (to get those wiggles out) and most importantly, he tells us that he feels safe and enjoys school.
I truly believe that the diet changes we made allowed J to get the most out of all these therapies. I can’t imagine he’d have been able to accomplish as much as he has if his little body was still fighting with artificial influences.
I obviously failed at keeping this short, thanks for sticking with me.
I am thankful every day, that this little boy was able to influence so much positive change in our life. I have learned so much.
While everyone may not need to make this big of a change in their lifestyle. I have no doubt that everyone’s health would improve by eating more real whole foods and less processed foods.
Best to you and your family.