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Mom on a Mission

I’m a mom on a mission. That mission is fueled by my child who, although diagnosed with three psychiatric/neurological disorders, is completely and totally normal and without symptoms as long as we keep her on a specific diet.  In our journey to get where we are today, I have learned a lot.  I want to share what I’ve learned, and what I’m still learning, to help other parents help their children.

When I tell people that our family follows a special diet, I am typically vague and say we have “multiple food sensitivities” or “food allergies” in our family.  But we don’t worry about hives, or sinus problems or an anaphylactic reaction…the things people expect when they hear of an allergy to food.  We deal with behavioral and neurological reactions to foods.  We avoid certain foods to prevent our child from losing self control.

Huh?  Insert blank stare here.

Because our reactions are not the typical reactions people think of when hearing of food allergies/sensitivities, it is often difficult for people to understand or accept.  It is not common knowledge that food and behavior are so intimately linked.  No, we do not have to carry an epi-pen.  Popping a benedryl doesn’t help.  But our child’s food sensitivities are indeed serious.  Even a small amount of an offending food can cause a “Dr. Jeckyl/Mr. Hyde” effect, wreaking havoc on our entire family for days on end.  Our best line of defense is to avoid triggers (offending foods) as much as possible.

Our child is sensitive to petroleum based chemical additives and a natural chemical, called salicylate, found in some foods.  When these foods are consumed our normally mild mannered child experiences a loss of control in the form of rages, temper tantrums, neurological tics, aggression, violence, terrible language, extreme sensitivity and inability to focus.  Other parents who have children with the same sensitivities report inability to concentrate, difficulty in writing neatly, hyperactivity, bedwetting, autism-like behaviors, sleep problems, obsessive-compulsive behaviors.  (For complete list of symptoms click here).

Okay, I’m sure some of you are thinking that I’m a little off my rocker.  That’s okay, I get that quite a bit.  This is not in the typical mainstream line of thinking, despite the fact that the connection between food additives and behavior has been well researched at least since the 1970’s.  Unfortunately the majority of people, medical professionals included, do not recognize the connection between what someone eats and how it contributes to how they feel and act.  But it is true, what we put in our bodies does have a profound effect on our bodily functions, brain included.

People with petroleum and salicylate sensitivities can exhibit the very same symptoms as someone with ADHD, OCD, Tourette Syndrome, Autism Spectrum Disorder, learning disabilities, sensory issues and more.  I can confidently say that my child does NOT have Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder-inattentive.  She does NOT have Oppositional Defiant Disorder.  She does NOT have Sensory Processing Disorder.  She has, however, been diagnosed with all these things by medical professionals.  When she is not exposed petroleum derived additives (in food, scents, skin products) or salicylate foods, she is completely normal, loving, sweet child.  With exposure to these things, she exhibits all of the symptoms of her “diagnoses” to the fullest degree and thensome.

The tragedy is that some children, like my own, might not truly have the psychiatric or neurological disorder they have been diagnosed with.  They are living with these labels, believing they are “disordered” and abnormal.   They are being treated unnecessarily with medications that often come with undesirable and sometimes dangerous side effects.  And to top it off, they are continuing to be exposed to the very things that are causing their symptoms, the additives and/or salicylates in their food.

My mission is to let parents know that their “disordered” children could possibly be helped by simply modifying their diet.  It’s true!  There are decades worth of research, but most importantly, in my opinion, are the stories of families, mine included, who have seen firsthand the profound changes brought on by diet change.  How is a parent to know if their child can be helped by dietary modification?  You don’t know until you try.  It does take effort and some know-how, but aren’t your children worth it?  Of course they are!  You can start here with The Feingold Association of the United States, an organization dedicated to improving the lives of people with these type of sensitivities.

Natural and Nourishing Family is here to help you navigate what might be new territory to you.  Every child deserves a chance at being well and whole.  If a whole-hearted effort at dietary change doesn’t effect changes in your “problem” child, you can be assured that you explored the most obvious path and further intervention just might be what is needed.  You can also be assured that getting rid of fake, health-robbing “food” will only have good consequences for the health of everyone.  What have you got to lose?


9 Responses to Mom on a Mission

  1. […] follows the Feingold diet for the sake of one of my daughters.  You can read more of our story here.   This week we are going back to Stage 1 in the Feingold diet which means we are going back to […]

  2. Hi Carmen,
    I came over to check out your blog and learned tons of new stuff already! We just switched to “real” food last December and I have discovered that I am very sensitive to MSG and food coloring. Not only do I feel awful when I eat them, but my mind feels “fuzzy” and I feel… cranky. 😉 I really hadn’t read anything about the food and mind connection, but I know it to be true from experience. Thanks so much for sharing your experience with us. I’ll be sure to send anybody with a similar situation with their child your way!

    • Oh, and I get hives if I put any petroleum-based substance on my skin, so I’m betting putting them in my mouth is doing things, too. I just didn’t realize about the “anti-oxidants” on the labels could be from petroleum. Nasty!!

    • Thanks! I think it is so important for people to know that there is a connection. I have seen diet alone make life-changing differences in several children’s lives that I know personally. My daughter would be heavily medicated and in all kinds of therapies right now if it weren’t for someone telling me about the connection.

  3. […] though I prided myself on only buying “natural” foods (we were, and still are, on the Feingold diet as a family)…I bought a lot of “natural” […]

  4. Hi,
    I found your post doing a search for feingold diet and essential oils. I have been using dottera oils for about a year now. I have noticed that one of my children breaks out with a rash on his face whenever I use the oils on him. This happens often with foods. We are now thinking he has a salicylate sensitivity. Are you able to use the oils at all on your daughter that is on the feingold diet?

    • There are some oils that should be avoided by people who are sensitive to salicylates. Clove, Wintergreen, Birch all contain the constituent methyl salicylate. Any blends that contain these oils should be avoided as well…like doTERRA’s On Guard, Past Tense, Deep Blue and Zendocrine.

      None of the other oils have methyl salicylate in their chemical make-up, so should be fine for someone sensitive to salicylates.

      Are you diluting the oils or using them neat (undiluted)? For children, and some adults, some oils may be too potent on the skin. doTERRA’s oils are very powerful. I almost always dilute in a carrier oil for my children.

      As far as my child on Feingold. She has not had any problems with the oils. She used to be extremely salicylate-sensitive, but we’ve seen huge improvements in this past half a year or so. She uses On Guard with no problems topically and aromatically. I haven’t used any of the other salicylate containing oils on her. But we use many of the other oils on a daily basis in our home and she has had no reactions.

  5. You are describing my child diagnosed with Sensory Processing Disorder. We are currently trialling GF/DF diet with limited success – even worsening of sensitivities …. but, I realise her Salicylate intake has increased with the elimination of Gluten and Dairy. We see the dietician with a detailed food diary very soon.

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