Update on family food plan …by request: 🙂
As many of you remember, at the end of April, we decided to start a new eating plan for our family. We chose not to call it a diet. While technically a diet is defined by our old friend Webster as: food and drink regularly provided or consumed. It has much more of a limiting contention or a feel of restriction or denial. That is, to an extent, true about our new family Food Plan, but we do not want to “color” the experience with commonly negative terms or expectations. Also the term diet has a connotation of being time limited, to being a tool to achieve a purpose, a tool that will be discarded once the goal is achieved. We felt and still feel that this is a life change for our family and as such the term Plan more closely conveyed our feelings.
Read more about this decision in this blog post.
In short we decide that we were slacking on an important aspect of parenting – the boys’ over all diet and long term eating habits. We decided to clean things up not only to maybe help things here and now but mainly to set them on a path to a healthy relationship with food. I have to say, when Big Brother vas born we were so careful, no solids till after a year, I made all our own baby food and so on – but at some point when he self-limited food so much, in a effort to get him to eat we (I) got rather lazy.
The habits the start now, good or bad, they will love or fight the rest of their lives (their wives too). So it is time to get back on track. We have always maintained that food is not a fight issue; we will not get into power battles over it. Also that food is not emotional; it is not a reward or a punishment. Sure we stop for treats, but they boys do not earn candy, cookies or other food. They also do not loose it; if the family has dessert or goes for a treat everyone get it. We both make a real effort to keep in mind the long term learning associated with food in all our choices. The stage we are setting now will in a very real way effect how the boys eat for the rest of their lives and indeed how they handle food with their children. Food may be part of a family fun event (roasting marshmallows or stopping for ice cream on a long road trip) but it is not a comfort in and of it self.
With all that in mind, and tons of research on how diet and nutrition effects children’s behavior and learning we decided that a change as in order. I am still doing more reading, and we are still learning a lot. I am finding new options, and *gasp* learning to cook. I still have a list of books I want to get read. I am also planning to do a nutrition unit with Big Brother this fall. I find nutrition mind numbly boring; but I do see how it is vital. I hope by making it more fun for the boys, and by taking about it outside a hot dreary high school classroom, I can help them be more knowledgeable than I am; and have a better understand of how food effects our lives.
I have had several requests so I am here today to review and discuss what we have learned – our success and failures.
First and foremost – we have seen improvement!!
No magic bullet, but the over the top silliness is much much less frequent. I can not express how happy this makes momma or how much less drained I am at the end of the day. The excessive emotional sensitivity is improved also. I know it is Big Brother’s personality to be silly and goophy (I can only hope for the money Jim Carey makes for my boy’s family someday), so that is never going to be gone. Both my boys are “all boy” boys – climbing, jumping, tackling and going going going; that is their very personalities the who of who they both are, and thus, not going to change either. Also Big Brother is a sensitive soul and his emotions are big and they are raw so that aspect of him is not going to change completely ever; the goals is to make them controllable and give him skills and tools as he grows to manage who God made him to be. Big Brother is always going to be emotionally sensitive and a bit silly; and I truly look forward to seeing how God will use those personally quirks in the future. I can honestly say that things are more calm here than before we traveled and started the new food plan. I see a real difference.
The difference is notable when he does get some of the old foods. One day at church in GA he got an apple juice juice-box. 100% juice, no added sugar, no colors, no nothing. He was bouncing off the walls and over the top silly for the rest of the day and night; the difference was clear. When Big Brother gets the wrong food (the apple juice at church for example) the over-the-top aspect is clearly different from his typical God given personality.
Secondly I can also tell you we are not perfect at Food Plan, or I should say we are not perfect at the Feingold Program diet that we are loosely following. We are very careful about artificial colors and also about fake sweetners and perspectives (the “Big Three”) and about apples (we’ve seen a reaction).
But, for example: I will freely admit to allowing raspberry lemonade (real lemonade) when there is no plain real lemonade at the c-store I may have stopped at, in place of denying him lemonade (a fav cold drink treat) or in place of a plain lemonade with artificial color or preservative. He is not supposed to have any berries at all, but given he has not really reacted to raspberry lemonade (“pink lemonade”) and given I’d rather allow berry than article color that is found in all the non-natural lemonades; it works for me / us. It is a constant evaluation process: I run a mental hierarchy and make compromises when I have to. He has been allowed peach and strawberry on occasion – in frozen treats – so he didn’t have to be excluded and go with out; but again none of the Big Three. Another example: paprika is used in a lot of “no artificial color” foods to give a color (Annie’s bunnies for example – the natural substitute for goldfish). On Stage One he should not have paprika, but again we do allow it as it is the lesser of the evils, and gives me the wiggle room to be more militant about artificial colors and so on. So while we are very “hard core” on the Big Three we do bend the rules on some of the real foods (that he has not shown a reaction to) as a token to functioning in reality (or a lazy push over momma, if you see it that way).
So far we’ve have not allowed grapes / raisins or anything orange (juice or the whole fruit) but I plan to test both of these soon. It would be very nice to have a different juice option for making frozen treats; there are not a lot of available juices out there they boys can have and they do not like pineapple (Daddy does though). Even the pear juice I found in the organic section of the big grocery store has apple in it; so frustrating. We don’t drink juice save as a rare treat when traveling and Big Brother won’t drink orange juice anyway, but it would be a nice base for the frozen pops ve make, and again just another safe option when out or traveling. Also it would be nice to eat oranges as a family again – a nice easy snack. Raisins would also be a good thing to have back, at least for the van snack box for long road trips!! However, I haven’t tried either of them yet.
Other things I have learned:
• BHT is in everything!! The reason he can’t have most run-of-the-mill cereals (dry cereals are a well loved food) is the BHT, frequently it is the ONLY thing in the food he can not have.
• Way too many foods have artificial colors in them, foods that do not need them. If you compare corn cereal with yellow dye in it to corn cereal that is artificial color free – they look the same. A dear friend and I did this when we stayed at her house, I should have taken photos. If you compare organic fruit-loops with “real” fruit loops – the ONLY color that is not virtually the same is the red. My deaf friend and I are of the opinion that manufactures add the fake colors as a matter or course without actually stopping to think if the colors are necessary and without trying the product first to see what it looks like before adding fake ingredients. More of less it is simply a matter of habit, out of laziness.
• Tyson chicken nuggets (and dinosaurs 🙂 ) are “free” as we call things – free of artificial colors and perspectives. This is good or my child would really be lacking protein.
• I do not take Big Brother food shopping any more. It is that simple. If we are grabbing milk, ok. But not for shopping. It is too hard on both of us. It is hard if not impossible for me to read labels correctly and it is so emotional for him to be denied not only so much of what he sees (a good amount he never would have been allowed) but so much of what we used to buy. He understands, to some extent, the changes we have made and will ask “it is on my food plan” when I do pick up a food item with him, or bring something home. He will also bring me foods – with Buzz Light Year on it or something – and say “read it momma, read it and see if it is on my plan”. Good, right? But when it is NOT on the plan his response is “add it to the list momma I like it, put it on the plan”. So he doesn’t fully understand yet.
• We generally do not do any juice boxes any more – the only ones he can have are so pricy and hard to find. But both boys like lemonade and I make it by the gallon. I am amazed how difficult it is to fine lemon juice that has no preservatives. This boggles my mind as citric acid (vit C, found in lemon juice) IS used as a preservative. I finally found one, but I have to get it at the health food store in the city, and that is a 45 minutes one-way. When I get there I do stock up, but there are times when I have to buy the much cheaper lemon juice at the local IGA – it doesn’t have BHT in it but does have perspectives.
So stay tuned … as I learn to cook more…as we hope Big Brother expand his self-limited group of acceptable foods … as I read more books … there will be more posts. :0)