The little boy featured in this article was lucky on two counts. Lucky to have such a caring and intelligent mum and lucky to have a very good pediatrician.
Without these, it could all have gone so differently as it has, sadly, for many children:
- The child exhibits abnormal behaviour.
- Distraught parents take child to doctor or psychiatrist.
- Doctor or psychiatrist diagnoses “ADHD” or some other “mental illness”. No examination is done to find the underlying nutritional or health issue.
- Prescribes Ritalin or some other drug. Child is now being poisoned by the drug ON TOP OF the undetected and un-handled food allergy, nutritional deficiency, glandular disorder, infection or whatever it happens to be.
- Child’s life (and parents’ life) is ruined.
The moral of this story, one that every parent and teacher should digest is this:
Your child does not have a diseased brain. But he’s almost certainly eating crap.
He doesn’t need a drug. He needs proper poison-free nutrition.
Food is far better medicine for your child than drugs.
The truth is out there. – Steve
How I discovered that some foods were messing with my son’s brain.
His cheeks told me.
We’d already known my son had a dairy sensitivity as a baby, but we thought he had outgrown it. His original infant symptoms had disappeared.
But by age 3 we were having a very tough time with him behaviorally. (That is putting it quite mildly — I was losing my marbles and my husband was happiest not-at-home.) There were tantrums, constant meltdowns, severe hypoglycemia, and severe anxiety.
Our pediatrician recommended we try eliminating foods to see if that helped. We were surprised. At that point we simply had no idea that food could be affecting his brain and causing these behavioral symptoms. We were clueless about the food-brain connection, but desperate to try anything. So we gave it a go.
It can be tricky business identifying the culprits of food sensitivities. Dairy and gluten are the big ones, so I wanted to start there. But I had reason to believe they weren’t the full answer for us. One big reason, actually — my son’s cheeks.
That, and yoghurt and jam.
You see, every time we gave him dairy-free yoghurt his cheeks would get red and blotchy. Same thing with raspberry jam. Our nanny at the time kept telling me in Spanish, The jam does not like him. She noticed his cheeks right away, too.
I’m certain there were other foods that also did it. But for whatever reason I never isolated them as clearly. Just the dairy-free yogurt and raspberry jam. Such random, unrelated foods.
I felt like his cheeks were talking to me. If only I could figure out what they were saying.
Organic Coconut Milk (Water, Organic Coconut Cream), Organic Dried Cane Syrup, Chicory Root Extract (Inulin), Pectin, Tapioca Dextrose, Natural Flavors, Algin (Kelp Extract), Magnesium Phosphate, Tricalcium Phosphate, Locust Bean Gum, Rice Starch, Live Cultures, Citric Acid, Carrageenan, Guar Gum, Dipotassium Phosphate, Vitamin B12
And the raspberry jam seemed even less offensive. How, on earth, could he react to jam that has only 5 ingredients? Here they are:
Raspberries, Sugar, Cane Sugar, Concentrated Lemon Juice, Fruit Pectin
O.K., I realize there is lots of sugar in jam. But I did not see sugar in other foods cause this same reaction in his cheeks.
But pectin is in both. But…pectin?
I wish I could say that I immediately made the connection and solved our mystery. But I couldn’t see it yet. I was too overwhelmed, too stuck on the biggies like gluten/dairy/soy/etc. And truthfully, I had always glazed over at ingredient lists. I couldn’t fathom becoming literate in so many random ingredients, though I really wanted to be an informed consumer.
Fast forward a few months — a few excruciating months filled with some of our family’s lowest lows — and my friend sent me a Ted talk that changed everything.
In the Ted talk, a mom of 5 and biochemist named Dr. Katherine Reid describes how she has completely managed her daughter’s autism symptoms through diet — with a special emphasis on removing MSG from her diet. The before and after videos of her daughter are absolutely incredible. I highlyrecommend it.
In my subsequent research I learned that MSG — also called free-glutamate — isn’t just about Asian food. More importantly, it hasn’t been removed from our food like we’ve been led to believe. In fact, I learned that MSG has been sneakily renamed 80+ different things and is in many foods found even in top health food stores.
And that pectin is one of them. Yes, pectin contains MSG. So do Dextrose, Natural Flavors, Citric Acid, and Carrageenan. All ingredients in my healthy, dairy-free yogurt I had been feeding my son.
They are excitotoxins, and they were making my son’s brain feel crazy. The complete list of these MSG ingredients is long and may surprise you.
Five days after removing MSG from my son’s diet I started observing changes. He sat calmly with me at the library for the first time in his whole life. A week later he began sleeping an average of an hour longer each night. He snored less. His anxieties gradually lessened. He could cope better. His hypoglycemia began receding. And 6 months into the diet, when he ate an off-diet food, his and our world did not come crashing down: he was more resilient.
Two and a half years later, we are still on the diet. It is an ongoing journey, for sure. There have been plenty of cheats, we’ve made plenty of progress, and there is progress yet to be made. We are constantly learning about food and making adjustments when we discover what works best for our family. It is not always easy, nor is it cheap. But the rewards are great — we are all so much healthier for it.
I thank God for those cheeks.
I am an ambassador for Documenting Hope, an organization that is documenting —scientifically and on film — how kids can recover from illnesses like ADHD, asthma, allergies, autism, anxiety, and more.
Sign up for our e-book to learn how 6 moms healed their kids and to follow our project.
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