We are two weeks into our new food plan, for Big Brother but for all of us too.
This whole process started out as a shapeless knowledge we needed to be eating better, teaching the boys better eating. As a family we needed to start taking a hard look at our common diet and food choices and how “it” was effecting all of us and out health. We realized that all of us would benefit health wise from a better family diet and that we as parent are responsible for the eating habits and behaviors the boys will have the rest of their lives.
We are very concerned about bad eating habits, too much junk, lack of good foods and (especially) the long term effects of eating habits learned now on the rest of their lives; this is a discussion Hubby and I have had several times. For a long time we were doing well (home made veggie baby food, delayed solids, and so on); but now that we stop and look at what we all commonly eat — uh ho.
Personally we have decided two things. First that our whole family needs a diet “Clean up”. To get out the junk, extra sugar and to get IN more veggies and whole foods. Also that we need to try a fairly strict ‘food plan” with Big Brother to see if it changes any of his impulsive or emotional behaviors, and it the changes can show a benefit in his learning challenges.
The natural outcome of these two decisions is that Momma needs to cook more, and cook more from scratch. Also that cooked or not we have to find new foods to eat, new alternatives to old favorites and new options for the family to eat. (this ties in to another theme I want to bring in to this blog later, a return to true homemaking, a dedication to home and family and faith that is uniquely the domain of the Mother, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves yet)
More and more research strongly shows that how the boys learn to eat, what they learn to choose, NOW will effect them for the rest of their lives and their long term health also. We have been doing some reading (one example: The N.D.D. Book: How Nutrition Deficit Disorder Affects Your Child’s Learning, Behavior, and Health, and What You Can Do About It–Without Drugs. The reading we’ve done has re-enforced what we have known about the importance of food choices and eating habits and also our parental duty to set them on the right path.
We have started this food plan shift by talked with several families we know well and seeking advice about the best ideas. This is going to be a total over-haul and when we are done the family food plan (FFP) should bare little if any resemblance to what it looks like now. We will start by following the Feingold Diet which you may have heard of, it is not diet per-se as a new way of eating.
The main site is: http://www.feingold.org. there is a lot of good information if you are interested in reading more about the links between diet and behaviors and learning challenges in children, and about the effects of many food additives on general health for all people 2, or 92.
It is very interesting to me, the changes now from 30 years ago when I and all my close friends were young. I know that we were not, in general, exposed to all thing my boys are (pollution, food additives, vaccines) I feel there has to be, to some extent, a cumulative effect. Any one aspect of the boys’ life, I don’t feel, personally, is THAT dangerous – but when you add it all together that is, when I feel, the problems develop. It is impossible for any of us to avoid everything, so I feel the responsible and reasonable things is to avoid as much as one can so the unavoidable things are less damaging.
In researching children’s eating and its effect on behavior and school abilities I have talked to several moms I know personally with children with different needs and challenges; some like Big Brother and some vastly different. I am blesses to have three awesome mentors as I re-vamp our family’s eating; a reconstruction this vast is pretty over-whelming, and I could no be wading in to this massive project with out such great guides and sister-mother’s.
This blog: http://chickiepea.wordpress.com/about/ is the blog of a dear dear sister-mother and her AWSOME family and AMAZING 2 girls. She is walking the path I seek to follow boldly and with success. I trail after her in awww.
We have discussed this as a family — because this IS a long term family change and the fact “we are just cleaning up our food choices as a family and getting the junk out”; as an over all life improvement for all of us. We have already been talking about GREEN LIGHT foods and RED LIGHT foods (thanks Dr Sears Eat Healthy, Feel Great (Sears Children Library)). The biggest goal we have is to establishing good eating habits in the boys that will last them a life time.
Here are a few scary facts that were a good kick in the butt for us:
- As long ago as 1985, Pediatrics – the journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics – described the following side effects of Yellow #5: allergies, thyroid tumors, lymphomas (cancer), chromosomal damage, asthma, and urticaria (hives). The connection between this dye and asthma was the reason the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) first required it to be listed by name on ingredient labels.
- Those pretty colors that make the “fruit punch” red, the gelatin green and the oatmeal blue are made from petroleum (crude oil) which is also the source for gasoline.
- One source for imitation vanilla flavoring (called “vanillin”) is the waste product of paper mills. Some companies built factories next to the pulp mills to turn the undesirable by-product into imitation flavoring, widely used in many cookies, candies and other foods
- What are artificial flavorings? They are combinations of many chemicals, both natural and synthetic. An artificial flavoring may be composed of hundreds of separate chemicals, and there is no restriction on what a company can use to flavor food.
- You will find them on the ingredient labels, listed as “Yellow No. 5,” “Red 40,” “Blue #1,” etc. The label may say “FD&C” before the number. That means “Food, Drug & Cosmetics.” When you see a number listed as “D&C” in a product, such as “D&C Red #33” it means that this coloring is considered safe for medicine (drugs) and cosmetics, but not for food.
- Consider lead. That is a big subject, well covered by the Mayo Clinic’s website on lead poisoning, and the FDA tells us to avoid it because it damages the brain of both children and adults. Yet it is an interesting bit of trivia that while the synthetic food colorings are allowed to have no more than 10 ppm (parts per million) of lead, many of the “D&C” colors used in medications and given multiple times a day to sick people are allowed to have double that amount.
I won’t put you to sleep with all my research (only most of it *wink*). This has been a long time coming, we’ve talked about it in general terms many times before now when we have finally decided it is time for rubber to meet the road. In the future you can look forward to new recipes in this blog, and also progress notes and observations, as well as more research I come across :).
Ok, OK 🙂 I hear you: “what are you DOING” — enough theory, where is the practical?
Simply put we are we are removing all artificial colors and flavors and preservatives. We will also be removing as much processed food as we can and seeking to eat “real food”. We will be reading a lot of labels, learning about new foods. Momma will be cooking more and learning to cook more. I am planning a unit on this for Big Brother for this fall.
Artificial (synthetic) coloring (any color #__)
Artificial (synthetic) flavoring
Aspartame (Nutrasweet, an artificial sweetener)
Artificial (synthetic) preservatives BHA, BHT, TBHQ
All artificial sweeteners
There is also a list on fruits that we are avoiding for now — apples, berries and a few others — because they naturally produce chemicals — salicylates — that have shown to effect behavior in children. (more about this below). Our intent here is to set a base line, then add back in all the “real foods” (apples, berries) that we can based on Big Brother’s behavior. While the other “removals” will be permanent.
The biggest goal we have is to establishing good eating habits in the boys that will last them a life time and to make changes to the family “diet” for the better health of all of us.
If you would like to read more;
The idea that a better more healthy diet can help a child’s health, behavior and learning is well accepted at this point. See this trusted publication http://www.businessweek.com/magazine/co … _mz025.htm. Business Week “Eat Well Behave Better”. There are specifically a lot of publications addressing eating habits in children and behavior / performance in schools.
Also look at: http://www.askdrsears.com/html/4/t042800.asp (I love Dr Sears)
CBS News: http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2003/05/13/eveningnews/main553728.shtml
Here is a collection of more popular and scientific publications about how artificial colors and sweeteners and flavors can effect health and behavior:
More about salicylate:
Willow bark, which has long been used to ease pain and fever, contains salcylate which is the basis for aspirin. Some plants make salicylates to protect themselves from insects and disease.
While salicylate-containing medicines such as aspirin can offer benefits, and plants that contain salicylates can be very nourishing, they are not well tolerated by everyone.