How a change in diet can transform a child (and make the parents feel amazing)!
We got through the terrible 2’s. They were just that!! Of course with some amazing moments but WOW! Then came the Terrifying 3’s… and yes.. they terrified me. I tried to embrace every moment but something in me just felt like there was something wrong. My son has always been a hyper and fidgety kid. Long ago I looked up
symptoms of ADHD and he did not fit the bill so I dismissed it. I knew that anything chocolate was a no no as I could watch him bounce off the walls within minutes. These are things I noted and things that I tried to limit all while chalking it up to him being a normal 3 year old kid. Aren’t they all wild and crazy???? (yes we all know of the exception of the kid that sits and reads for hours!!!)
A few months ago it hit an all time high. I had gone away on a trip in may and when i came home my son was an animal. Not a cute loveable animal, but a wild animal. My parents (who live around the corner) were always the ones I could count on for help (or a
break). But my mom had enough and said to me “Sabrina, he’s too much. I can’t watch him. Its too hard”. I knew what she meant. My son was getting to the point that you couldn’t talk to him. We couldn’t reason with him. I had to ask for help. My mother in law was the only one who could tame him. All it felt like i was doing was yelling time and time again. "Son, can you please pick up
your toys and take them out of the kitchen so mommy doesn’t fall?” NO!! followed by running away wildly and laughing. Ask again and he throws something. Ask again a bit more firm now as he runs into his sister. By the 4th time my patience is gone and the yelling begins. I hate that I’m a yeller… but I am. I can blame the Italian/Portuguese in me but still I don’t like it and that's no excuse. This became and ordeal. Every 15 minutes to an hour. over and over and over. We couldn’t go to the grocery store and I didn’t want to leave the house. Even a walk around the block was causing me stress. (note i have 2 kids my son is 3.5 and my daughter just turned 2). I kept leaning on the hope that school was coming up and he was just a busy kid. ALWAYS needing stimulation and to be around other kids all the time. OR that i was a horrible mom and he couldn’t stand me. (Yes, i cried believing this was true many times).
I spoke to my close friends who assured me it was all going to be ok. I held onto that hope but seeing myself spiral into a feeling of pure failure.
One afternoon we went to the doctor as i needed a follow up for an injury i had to my shoulder from my job in EMS. I brought my son along with me. As a treat we stopped at Tim Horton's and got him 2 birthday cake timbits. He was so happy and listening because he got his treat. As soon as we got into the office he was back at it.
Bouncing off the walls, touching everything, not sitting still, yelling. I was so embarrassed. My Doctor looked at me clearly stressed out. I broke down and told him. “I can’t keep up. I'm yelling all the time and he deserves better then that. I don’t want him looking back at me one day and only remember me yelling.
I know you said there's nothing I can do to help him and its just an age thing. But my nerves are shot my anxiety is through the roof. So please, medicate me! I need something for my nerves” my doctor (whom I highly respect) looked at me and asked “what was the last thing he ate?” I told him “2 timbits and pasta at lunch. He won’t eat vegetables” Just like that he recommended that i cut his
carbs. Cut them out. Take out his milk and if i had to give him a carb to give him gluten free. He wrote me a script for my anxiety INCASE i needed it and asked for a follow up in 2 weeks. I felt a hope. Something all of a sudden clicked.
I went to work the next day and my husband took over. He did just that and cut anything that had sugars. No milk for breakfast. Unsweetened almond milk instead with a dash of chocolate almond milk and eggs. Chicken for lunch with cucumber (which my son previously hated but they were on his plate and he needed to try them) fruit for desert. Dinner was steak and a sweet potato (again, not a Fan) but sprinkled with some cinnamon he ate them. All day my husband said there was something different. I came home but noticed nothing. About 3 days later we spent the whole day together and when I went to kiss him good night he wrapped
his arms around me and hugged me so tight. He looked me right in the face and asked me “Mommy, are you proud of me?” (insert heart tug here) of course I replied “Yes buddy, I am. I had a great day with you today” He said “ Daddy told me the sugars turn my listening ears off”. I looked at him straight on and
apologized for yelling and that mommy, daddy and his sister are not eating any sugars either so that our listening ears stay on too. Mommy and daddy want to throw their yelling voice away”. It was a moment i realized there was going to be a huge huge change for us. Something was already happening.
In all of this I had contacted a natural path as I did want another opinion. Especially incase I was missing out on something from a nutrition standpoint for him. She was amazed that the doctor said to cut his carbs and said that its rare that a family doctor will pinpoint that. Most go straight for drug therapy for the child
(which i never would have entertained). She agreed with his suggestions and explained to me that now a days sugars are so micro refined that they are processed so fast and into the bloodstream. Little bodies and brains cannot keep up with how much sugar we consume in a day. Its hidden everywhere. The gut
is known as the second brain. She actually suggested that we cut ALL grains and dairy totally and put my son on a paleo diet. The amount of information i took in in that 45 minutes caused a huge stressful brain overload. Definitely needed time to digest it all but somewhat relieved that there really was more to what was happening in my sons behavior. I had a huge meltdown in the car. Paleo is a huge huge commitment and after some thought it just was too much for me to take on. I knew I could commit to gluten free, low dairy and low carb but I felt that Paleo was too big of a jump. So I made a commitment. We purchased a few supplements i.e. Methylcobalamin (b12), probiotics, digestive enzymes and a
daily vitamin formulated by the natural path for hyper kids
and kids who have ADHD.
We threw everything out that we couldn’t eat and put our game faces on. Now I have to tell you. Things felt like a dream. My son was night and day. In literally a week the change was unexplainable. He had his moments but they were just that. A moment. My mom got back from a trip and I asked her to watch my kids for an hour while I ran out. I told her about the plan we chose as a family and what she could give my kids. She threw out all the cookies right there with the kids. 45 minutes after I left my phone rang. It was my mom “Sabrina, I don’t know what you have done but he’s a different child.” all I could really say was “I know!” my heart was bursting. My aunt watched him a few days later and followed my guidelines as well she also commented on what a change she saw in him.
One day we went to a children’s birthday party at a play place. Our first real outing that I didn’t think about meal planning ahead. When we got there I realized that there really was only pizza and cupcakes. (Sorry Sylvia!!.. they were delicious and look, you became part of my story!!) What was I to do? The kid was hungry. He played hard for the first hour but when I asked him to come sit down, he did. There was no argument he just came and took his place. I gave him a piece of pizza and a vanilla cupcake with most of the icing taken off against his request. He ran off to play again. When I went to look for him he was DRENCHED in sweat. He was playing no harder then he was before he ate. He was running
around yelling and was pitch red. People were commenting on how sweaty he was. Of course now it was time to go and it literally felt like Jekyll and Hyde. Kicking. Screaming. Taking off in other directions. Not listening. Running off through the parking lot. It was that moment I realized 100% that this was a long term change for us.
We are now about 2 months on our new eating plan. It takes some preparation, meal planning on the go and creativity for sure. But the changes we are seeing as a family are incredible. My anxiety is gone (no meds were needed). His attentiveness has changed and the personality that he is expressing is priceless. Its what keeps me committed. He’s changed. I don’t even know how to explain it because it makes my heart burst. We went up north on a family trip and he was running through the village like a little kid would. He had a moment where I had to ask him a few times not to do something. The last time I asked him i got down to his level and told him calmly that “mommy doesn't want to get upset. i asked you not to run into your sister so please listen with your ears” He looked at me straight in the eyes and gave me a kiss on the lips. “I love you mom. I’ll turn my listening ears on”. I cried on the spot.
I can tell within 10 minutes if something he ate doesn’t sit well with him and if the sugar content in it is higher then he can handle. We can pinpoint it. He starts to sweat and there's no reasoning with him. Its kind of scary really because sometimes its something you wouldn’t even imagine i.e. a soy based ice cream from Kelly’s bake shop (note i called and it is sweetened with cane sugar) but it effects him more then coconut milk ice cream.
We are trying to keep things as normal as we can. He is starting to turn down foods or ask if he can have them. I'm not sure he understands but we do point out when his “listening ears" are working or not. I’ve been told that they really can’t test for ADHD
properly till the age of 6. My son did have a few mild symptoms. Honest.. don’t bother googling them. They are so common for most kids at ages under 4 so it will just freak you out for no reason.
Its been an amazing change and I’m so proud of all of us. Some people do not understand why we are “treating him different”. I really don’t care that much because they aren’t his parents. We are and this is what is working for our family. We do everything out of love for our kids. They transform our lives and we can help shape
A link to some info sent to me after we made this choice that is really amazing. Food is our fuel. Shop on the outside of the grocery store and not in the middle.
Follow Sabrina, one of our sleep consultants, as she blogs about her experience with her new baby!