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The Boy’s Very Bad Day: Our Journey Away from Artificial Everything!

May 10, 2013

The Boys Very Bad Day

The Boys Very Bad Day

Our youngest has various challenges in his life. We’ve learned a great deal thanks to this young man. (I have LOADS of links to share from our frazzled adventures with him!) When he was in first grade, he had what we call “His Very Bad Day.” We were coming off of a holiday, class parties, a visit to Grandma’s and heading back to school. As a “treat”, Grandma sent home sugary cereal and other holiday goodies. That next morning, I let him fill his bowl with that sugary, artificially colored and flavored cereal and offered him some strawberry mix to add to his milk. AND he drank strawberry milk at school. Not to mention it was a “Red” Holiday where he’d had red candies. We don’t serve lots of sweets and treats. I don’t usually have sugary cereal or serve strawberry milk. But over the course of the week, he accumulated a great deal of it in his little system.

I usually received daily reports from his teacher just to touch base and make sure things were going along ok… to see if we needed to tweak the routine or sensory diet or work on anything in particular. This day, he’d been unusually wired (you have to understand, he USUALLY was wired!). He’d jumped from unreasonably high places on the playground, had less self control in class, and my husband noticed our son shaking uncontrollably as he laid on the floor that evening after his shower.

When the children were in bed, Greg and I reviewed the day and what led up to this very bad day. We noted a holiday, a big weekend at Grandma and Papa’s, and took a look at his diet over the past few days. We recalled all the red foods on the menu and remembered a classmate of our youngest daughter who avoided red dyes. (His mom told me that even vanilla frosting and marshmallows could have red dye! Whodathunk?!) Greg “googled” “red dye” and discovered Feingold Association.

We discovered that many children with ADD/ ADHD symptoms sometimes have sensitivities to artificial colors and other petroleum-based ingredients in foods. That includes synthetic food dyes (i.e., red dye 40, Yellow No. 5), artificial vanilla – also called vanillin, other artificial flavors, sweeteners, and preservatives, like BHA, BHT, TBHQ and more. I went to the cabinet and found these lovely ingredients in my cereals, all the Valentine’s Candies, the strawberry milk mix, artificial vanilla flavoring, chocolate milk mix, and more, unlikely, sources. The tossing began. Talk about a frazzled mom! What was I going to feed my family?!

One day as we were transitioning to the “Feingold Diet”, Grandparents took the kids out to eat. When we met them at the restaurant, the boy seemed like he was on drugs (uncontrolled laughing, not able to carry on a conversation, unable to regulate his own behavior). I discovered “vanillin” on the list of ingredients on the cookie wrapper. Got my attention!

Then the Feingold list came in the mail. It didn’t stop at foods! It included artificial fragrances in soaps, lotions, detergents, scented candles, other cleaning and health care items. If my kiddo was sensitive to this stuff, he had a steady dose of it everywhere he went. My eyes were open… wide… deer-in-headlights wide! I was beyond frazzled!

Feingold Association has a list of acceptable foods and items for its members. And I believe it’s well worth supporting. It was my first step in discovering how synthetic our food and health supply has become. They helped me realize I cannot simply rely on an “organic” sticker to stay away from things like BPA linings in cans or MSG. Feingold does a great deal of research with individual companies to confirm that it is ok for their members to partake. Feingold Association helps get rid of the biggest triggers for many children. They have amazing success stories of parents “getting their children back” after eliminating these ingredients from their children’s lives. And many parents discover personal health symptoms went away as well!

When I started, I spent A LOT of money on so-called “natural” cleaners, shampoos, lotions and soaps that were approved on my Feingold list, only to find questionable ingredients lingering. The fewer the ingredients on the list, the more expensive the items seemed to get (due to lack of shelf life and low demand). So, over time, I have found I can make my own for much less! (I will share some of those recipes with you on another frazzled day!)

Our lives improved. A fog seemed to lift from our son’s little brain. But we discovered a new problem in our food system in GMOs (genetically modified organisms) that would change our habits and help the fog clear even more! (That’s another frazzled story for another day!)

We were never under the illusion that there would be one single miracle change that would bring about the healing our son needs. For him, some occupational therapy and a “diet” of sensory activities scheduled throughout the day help him to focus, each new year of living in the same place with the same family (even if it is frazzled!), other helpful people and resources in his life, and removing artificial flavors, colors, preservatives, and fragrances all work together to help our little guy learn and grow in ways no one could have predicted!

It was frazzling to throw out most of our foods and search for acceptable replacements, switching brands a number of times. It was hard on our oldest kiddos. It was challenging for me to find recipes that everyone would eat. But I told one of our daughters that since I tend to be a “canary” (foods, environment, chemicals tend to affect me before others), this change might very well save my life. I’m thankful for this frazzling journey. I’m grateful to the Feingold Association and others who have helped this frazzled mama make significant changes for the life and well being of one special young man and the rest of my family.

Life often will be a challenge for our little guy. But even if you proved to me that the foods contribute NOTHING to his behavior (which I believe they DO, significantly), I still would not put those artificial ingredients back into our bodies. I look forward to sharing more resources that we have discovered along this frazzled journey.

You show me the path of life.
In your presence there is fullness of joy;
in your right hand are pleasures forevermore.

Psalm 16:11


From → About Me, Foods

  1. I can totally relate…sounds so similar. Our “bad kid” led us to Feingold and beyond (into the world of GMO avoidance as well). We’re now somewhere between Feingold and Real Food.
    I look forward to reading more.

    • I’m so thankful for many people who have already been down this path to help us through our amazing kid’s very bad day! Thanks! It’s always nice to have others to try to figure all this out with!

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  1. Why I Am “Frazzled Mom” | Diary of a Frazzled Mom

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