Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Going through "the CHANGE"....

Don't worry. This isn't "the change" you might think of that usually begins to torment women somewhere around 50 years of age. Hopefully, that is still way off in my future.
But I have been doing a lot of thinking lately, along with a ton of reading online, about the nutritional benefit of changing the way my children are eating. Though Grant is still doing pretty well on his 3mg. daily dose of intuniv, he still struggles in a lot of areas. We still have emotional meltdowns (though they don't last nearly as long or are as frequent as they were before intuniv), and he still can be very touchy and very disrespectful to my husband and I. I'm not looking for a magic cure here, but I know we still can see more positive changes that do not require medication. I'm beginning to see that managing the hyperactivity, the volatile anger, the impulsiveness, the ugly side of ADHD has to come from a multi-faceted approach. We have experienced the benefits of changing up several things in our family dynamic, but we still have more progress to make. Some of the things we have done include:
**Getting an official diagnosis from a trained physician who knows what he's looking at when he sees a child with multiple issues challenging him/her.
** Completely ditching the homeschooling curriculum we used for several years, and going with something totally new to all of us. We were using ACE (which is a nightmare for the ADHD child) and have loved every minute of Math-U-See, and Shurley English.
**My husband made a concerted effort to move from a night shift to a day shift. This has allowed much more interaction with Dad as well as setting aside his day off (Monday) as our "Funday" where we incorporate a lot of field trips and just plain fun without a schedule. This has done a lot (and I believe will continue in the future) to build a great rapport with our children when many days we are correcting, and correcting, and correcting.
**Modifying the way we discipline our children. We've learned that spanking our ADHD son only causes him to escalate in his emotions. It has lost much of its effectiveness and only causes him deep, deep anxiety. Not just the normal "I don't want a spanking" kind of thing, but throwing chairs, screaming, mouthy disrespect that only escalated. We've learned what his "currency" is and that calming down in his room before having something of value (i.e. Xbox time or computer time) taken away for a time speaks so much louder to him than spanking ever did. Plus, we've found that reminding him of what we expect of him BEFORE we get in a public situation really helps him behave better.....especially if we express to him that we noticed his good behavior and especially if there is an unexpected award to go along with the praise!!! WOW!!
**Being willing to try some medication for him to see if it would help him gain some inner control and take that edge off of his anxiety so that he was calm enough to LEARN when we tried working with him. We needed him to be able to listen to US and not have his brain going crazy wild. He has had no side effects except for feeling sleepy some days in the afternoon. No loss of appetite, no crazy mood swings, no head or stomach aches. He has been taking intuniv now since January.
**I've noticed that he does indeed do pretty well on a rigid schedule. He gets bored when we let things slide and relax, and then he starts bugging people. He is constantly looking for something to be moving or playing with. If I have it all laid out for him, it seems to help him know what the next thing is and how long before it is coming.
We have noticed a tremendous change in our son since implementing all these changes, but I know there is still more that we need to try. I've been hearing on the ADHD forum, that has been a tremendous support to me, that some people have found unexpected, surprising benefits of making some changes to their diets. Here are some of the things I've been reading that have gotten me to thinking:

The fact of the matter is what we put in our bodies affects our mental state. Our bodies and minds are bio-chemical machines running on the fuel given to them. Diet is not a cause of ADHD, but diet can and does affect our child's mental state, and they have enough going on up there that they don't need to try thinking through dairy and sugar clouds.
My son starts getting distracted from lack of fuel and begins to become more emotional about 3 hours after his last meal. The longer he goes from that point, the worse it gets, and nothing is going to help him when he's at that state. There are a number of arguments about whether medication is the way to go with ADHD children. I leave that between you and your doctor. What I will say is if his meals are not regular and balanced, and if they are absent of foods that are nutritious but more difficult to prepare, medications are not going to matter.

New scientific research proves children with Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) function better if they spend part of their day outdoors in nature.

The research results were very specific. In order to improve ADHD symptoms, the children in the study had to be outdoors in a natural setting.

Finding Out if it is ADD ADHD or Food Allergies

What NOT to eat for TWO WEEKS: the first step in this ADHD Diet

First, let's find out if there are food allergies causing the ADHD symptoms or behaviors. Eliminate these foods for two weeks, then get ready to add them back in to the ADHD diet...

  • NO DAIRY PRODUCTS, especially cow's milk.

    This is the single most important restriction. The American Pediatric Association estimates that a significant percentage of all children are allergic to milk. Instead try Almond milk, Rice milk, or Better Than Milk. And drink lots of water instead of milk for two weeks.

  • NO YELLOW FOODS. Especially Corn or Squash. Bananas are white, but don't eat the peel. About 1/1000 people have problems with the stuff that makes these foods yellow in color.
  • NO JUNK FOODS. If it comes in a cellophane wrapper, don't eat it. Stop eating junk food and your brain will work better. Junk foods tend to be very high in sugars and carbohydrates, and our brains get fuzzy and our kids get more hyperactive when sugars and carbohydrates are eaten together.
  • NO FRUIT JUICES. They have too much sugar. One small glass of apple juice has the sugar content of eight apples. Later on you can have juice, but for now if you have to have any juice just dilute it with water 50/50.
  • CUT SUGAR INTAKE BY 90%. If you can, cut it down to zero. Sugar is in just about everything, but give it a try. Do your best to reduce your sugar intake without going crazy.
  • CUT CHOCOLATE BY 90%. No more than a single piece, once a week.
  • NO NUTRASWEET. None. Period. Never. It's bad for you. It is bad for your brain.
  • NO PROCESSED MEATS and NO MSG. Only get meats with labels that say, “Turkey and Water,” etc. If the meat has chemicals listed that you can't pronounce, don't buy it and don't eat it.
  • AVOID FOOD COLORINGS WHENEVER POSSIBLE. See if your child is sensitive to any particular colors, such as Reds, Yellows, etc. For now, though, avoid all if possible.
  • AVOID FISH. We hate to say this, as there used to be so many benefits to eating fish, especially the Essential Fatty Acids (EFAs) or Omega Oils. But the problem these days is that the mercury levels in most fish is simply too high to be either safe or healthy. Mercury is the second most toxic metal on earth, and is a terrible neuro-toxin. Until we clean up the oceans and the rivers of mercury, just don't eat it. Sorry.

SUMMARY: Just eat foods that God made for a while. Eat like people did in the 1940's, or the 1840's. Go to a used book store and get some good old cook books for recipe ideas. There really are about 10,000 meals that you CAN eat. Just not much in the way of “fast foods” or “convenience” foods.

Here are some more links also:,8599,1659835,00.html

So, I've begun to wonder how in the world I should go about experimenting with a different approach to the foods we eat. Where do I start? I certainly agree that our bodies are very chemically based. Our bodies were designed by the amazing Creator God to chemically transform the food we eat into energy that keeps every system in our bodies functioning. So it makes sense that the better and more nutritionally sound the food, the better our bodies can work the way it was designed to.

I also am learning that the ADHD brain operates and responds to stimulus differently than what is usually considered "normal". Sometimes I wish Americans would really think through what "normal" is and if that's really how we want to box everyone in, but that's another soapbox discussion for another time. The Lord God created all species of every living thing as well as non-living with great complexity and variety. What would this world be like if we all looked the same or thought the same or reacted the same or behaved the same? Anyway, because we are looking for a more focused, clear, sharp, fully functioning brain in our children which facilitates better interpretation of their environment as well as the ability to control impulsive behaviors, I'm researching what others have found to be the most helpful in achieving these goals in the areas of smarter nutrition.

This week I'll be talking name brand food items that we have eliminated as well as things we have added in their place. Come on back tomorrow!!!

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