Is anyone else wondering where Summer went? I’ve spent the last week in denial, but now it’s time to get back to reality. School starts in just 2 days! This year, my son will be in kindergarten and my daughter will be in third grade.
Below is a story of some challenges we’ve recently gone through with my son Ben. I feel nothing but love and gratitude for this journey he has taken us on and as a celebration we’ll be posting 30 days of lunchboxes starting Monday.
My son entering kindergarten gives us a lot to celebrate. There were times when I thought he would not be able to go to a regular school or handle a regular classroom. A year and a half ago, my son suddenly started rolling his eyes uncontrollably – he was also suddenly tired and clingy, unable to balance or concentrate like before, and he was hungry all the time. We took him to the pediatrician and then a neurologist who diagnosed my son’s condition as a motor tic disorder. The cause of these disorders are unknown. It is related to Tourette Syndrome and the prognosis was: it could get worse or he could just grow out of it. I was told he would have OCD tendencies. He could go on medication to mask the symptoms or we could do nothing. The neurologist told me his own son has the same thing and we will probably want to put him on medication when he gets older because of all the teasing he will no doubt endure. I was told many times (because I asked many times) that food was not related to this problem and not to bother changing his diet because it’s completely unrelated. He went about 2 months with constant eye rolling and other associated facial tics. I spent sleepless nights researching and trying to find an answer or something that might help him. What I found online was other worried parents with similar stories, cause unknown, but they were trying things and reporting their results.
About 2 months into this, I took my son to my daughter’s open house at school. The room was crowded with a lot of kids running around a small cramped classroom. The walls of the class were covered in art and the kids writings – it was a lot for Ben to take in. After about 10 minutes in that environment, my son started having the worst tic episode I had seen yet. He was unable to see straight and was in agony. I immediately removed him from the class and we found a quiet place outside to calm down. My heart was breaking because in that moment, I saw his future as a normal kid vanish. If this was his fate, he would never be able to handle a normal classroom. He would never attend school in a typical classroom.
So, I did what I’ve always done when I’m told no–I took matters into my own hands. We immediately started eliminating certain foods from his diet that may cause inflammation or had known connections to neurological conditions. Here’s a list of what we eliminated:
- processed foods
- ingredients with strange chemical sounding names
- fluoride toothpaste
- MSG and foods with the mysterious “natural flavor” ingredient, that usually means MSG
- food-lot raised meats, eggs and butter
- canola and other processed oils
- food dyes
Here’s what I added:
- more variety of organic vegetables
- sea vegetables
- magnesium rich foods and magnesium baths
- fermented cod liver oil
- pasture-raised meats (including organ meats) and eggs
- grass-fed butter and ghee
- coconut oil
- homemade bone broth
- probiotics in the form of fermented foods, kombucha or supplement
And then there is the sugar – we limit it or eliminate it entirely when we can. Honey, maple syrup or dates are preferred. I do use organic sugar in some of my jams. These are guidelines, that can’t always be met, but we do our best.
I basically ignored the doctors and followed my heart that was telling me he probably wasn’t getting the proper nutrition he needed. Why was he so hungry all the time? Perhaps he wasn’t absorbing the nutrients in the food like he should. It didn’t feel completely off base to look to food, given his sister has life-threatening food allergies. I found the Paleo Diet, which led to the Weston A. Price Foundation and a whole new view about ancestral diets and best of all it was backed up by science. I’m still learning, but what I’ve settled upon finally after months of trial and error is in my mind, a healthy, natural way of eating with nutrient dense foods.
It’s been a year and a half of ups and downs. His tics come and go and tend to cycle with growth spurts and times of physical and mental stress. He has been doing really great lately, but with the stress of leaving his beloved preschool behind and starting kindergarten, I’ve been expecting the tics to return any minute. Yesterday, my son had his kindergarten orientation, met the teachers and kids, and checked out his classroom and I’m happy to say – I did not see him even roll his eyes once! I’m still not convinced he is completely healed or that we’ve seen the last of it, but I’m going to celebrate this great day anyway.
This is a huge victory for our family. I’m so proud of my little man!
For 30 days starting Monday, I will be posting pictures of the kid’s lunchboxes on Instagram. I’ll post a roundup of lunches at the end of each week here on the blog, but if you want to see the daily fun and probably many more than 30 boxes, you can find us at http://instagram.com/autumnslunchbox.
My daughter’s lunches will be free of eggs, dairy, soy, tree-nuts and peanuts.
My son’s lunches will be free of dairy, soy, gluten and most grains.
You will see that they do have some bread from time to time – my daughter will have a traditionally prepared sourdough and my son will have gluten-free bread. They will also have popcorn or corn chips. For the most part though, we limit grains and legumes quite a bit. My kids just don’t digest them well. They get really gassy with rice, quinoa and corn products, but seem to tolerate a little popcorn. Once in a while they will have some rice that has been pre-soaked and fermented with a culture, but with all the extra work that goes into traditionally preparing grains, I mostly don’t bother.
Have a great start of school everyone! I’ve already started writing up a post all about my daughter’s start as well – informing everyone about food allergies at the start of school is not always fun, but it has to be done.
Until next time,