Tag Archives: kids

A Letter To My Kids About Food

Dear Kids,

I love you so much. I see all the amazing things you are going to do and all the amazing people that you, as amazing people, are going to touch. I see all the brilliant, creative, and even practical ideas that you daily produce and will continue to produce for yourselves and the world. You are each precious to my heart. I often wonder how God can love each one of us human beings as special entities–and yet none more special than the next–and here, in my heart, I feel a meager bit of that bottomless capability. When compared to each other, you are each so different, but in my heart, you are loved with the same love.

What I want for you is to live boldly and freely, living up to your potential. Over the last four years, I have learned that for me to do so I must eat a real, whole food diet adjusted for some food sensitivities I have picked up (or maybe I was born with, I don’t know). You know how persistent I have been in keeping our diets clean, real, and whole. I do this because I see the effects it has on our allergies, our headaches, our stomach aches, our bowel control, our joint aches, our asthma, our skin rashes, our immune systems, and even our moods and concentration.

In essence, I persevere because I know now that what we all eat contributes to how well we can participate in life. And I want you all in.

Dear daughters, I want to tell you what I have told myself as I feed you to go do your work in life. Maybe it will help you when you have your own kids. Maybe it will help you now.

 

    Encourage and provide tons of vegetables and fruits.

Pay attention to which ones the kids like and how they like them prepared, making sure to keep those in the food line-up, while introducing new ones to stretch the taste buds.

Make it a goal to not buy pre-packaged foods. Give extra effort to buy whole foods without labels.  

I’ll admit we almost never reach our goal of “no labels,” but having this goal makes us very aware of our purchases and motivates us all to read labels. I love it when you pick up something packaged, and then put it down, saying, “Oh, we can make this. We don’t need to buy it.”

Don’t keep a lot of snack foods on hand other than nuts, vegetables, and fruit (seaweed is fun too), but respect kids’ needs for snacks.

I know the human liver was designed to certainly give three to four hours’ worth of glucose streaming in with no trouble. Perpetual snacks are not necessary in a healthy individual doing regular activities. However, sometimes, lunch was too small. Or supper not to the liking. Or volleyball camp consumed extra energy. Or friends are over. You name it. A well-placed snack is a good snack. But constant, mindless snacking is no good for the body.

Most kids like sweet stuff.

I’ve noticed you eat much better overall when you don’t feel deprived. I’ve also noticed you love a good smelling kitchen. Keeping you on track is easier when I prepare a dessert or sweet every now and then. How often? I honestly can’t say. I watch cues, and I know.

On vacations and certain occasions, step out of the way, letting kids enjoy the moment and the time with family and friends with abandon.

Sure, in the long haul, if a kid never ate ice cream or birthday cake or drank a soda pop, it’d be healthier. And there are probably some kids who will strike that path because of their parents’ rules. Then, there are kids who will just sneak it. Eat it with guilt and shame. Or break free at 18 from all the confinements. You can lie to your parents, but you can’t lie to the body. So eat some, then let it rest. For most people (not all), the body can handle an occasional gluttonous feast.

Do not equate food with body size or self-image. At the most basic level, food is eaten for the body to work right. (Most of the people we love most aren’t skinny.)

It seems like no matter what, somehow, everyone wants to bring it back to size and fat and how you look. I’d be lying if I said society doesn’t care about that. I try not to lie to you. But think about it. Most of the people we love the most aren’t skinny, so love and skinny can’t be equated. (It’s okay, you skinny friends. We adore you too!) Function is the most important, and whole, real food provides nutrition to keep those we love hiking and walking with us—and the processed foods keep them from doing exactly that.

Model real, whole food eating as a parent.

     Sometimes, you just have to say no.

One pediatrician I trained with always told parents, “If they’re told ‘no’ at 2, they’ll accept it at 16.”

I’ll tell you, once Halloween hits, the sugar bliss doesn’t want to stop until after Easter. I’ve seen the effects of all that stuff on your skin, stomachs, and noses. Sometimes, I have to be the meanie and say no.

Realize that even “healthy” things aren’t healthy for all people.

Food sensitivities are everywhere. For some, dairy is very health-promoting; for others, it flares up asthma. For some, whole grains lead to great energy; for others, grains, including whole grains, lead to listlessness and headaches. Sometimes, a parent will tend to think that how they eat is best, which may not actually be best for everyone, including their children. You know that I have a daughter who thrives on meat. I have another who doesn’t. Forcing one into one pattern and the other into another pattern could be highly detrimental to your lifelong eating patterns and health. Best to encourage you all to keep it real, not processed, and as fresh as possible, with awareness of food sensitivities.

     Teach what you know in the kitchen about cooking and actually talk about nutrition.

Life is not about food. It’s about living with your whole heart.

Love,

Mom

 

What Role Could Constipation Be Playing in Your Child’s Bed Wetting and Bowel Habits?

Miralax (polyethylene glycol)Someone sent me a link, “What Every Parent Should Know About Bedwetting, Accidents, and Potty Training,” relating constipation to bedwetting, and I found it a good read.  Constipation is prevalent in our society, and kids are not exempt.  The author of the article is a physician, specifically a pediatric urologist, who deals with urinary issues in children day in and day out.  He feels that constipation–which can be difficult to diagnose in children because they leak liquid stool around hard, large impeding stools in the rectum, appearing to have diarrhea instead–is a leading cause of urinary problems in kids.  He also, like me, is frustrated at the medical community’s blasé “just take Miralax and eat fiber” treatment of constipation.

“Constipation is a distasteful subject. No one wants to talk about it.”

As distasteful as it is, constipation is a health condition that needs talked about.  Headaches.  Back aches.  Tooth aches.  Poop aches.

I had a child who used Miralax daily and still had constipation issues.  She would sit on the toilet screaming and crying for her “poop medicine” as I stood there trying to decide whether or not to torture her further with a suppository.  Traumatized by constipation issues, we decided to figure out what was causing constipation problems.  We eventually found that complete dairy elimination cured her constipation.   We next undertook a complete overhaul of our family’s diet, providing foods to help her GI tract recover a good barrier so the foods she ate wouldn’t cause her problems anymore.  Luckily we succeeded, and on the way we learned the importance of proper fuel and the devastation caused by improper fuels–and how each body is unique.

I believe, unlike my conventional medicine colleagues, that bowel habits are a good indicator of health.  Band-Aids won’t help a festering wound, and Miralax won’t really change chronic constipation.  Causes and good treatments for constipation and urinary issues should be sought.  Sometimes it’s as simple as feeding your kids real food. Or identifying a sensitivity to gluten or dairy, even minute quantities.  Or incorporating probiotics or probiotic foods.  Treatment may require more diligence with a bowel retraining program or an elimination diet.  But I am confident that constipation can be improved, especially in young children.

I encourage you to check out “What Every Parent Should Know About Bedwetting, Accidents, and Potty Training” written by Dr. Steve Hodges. Click on the blue texted excerpts below to go there.:

 

“Reality: Most children wet the bed because their rectums are clogged with poop. The hard, bulging poop mass presses against the bladder, compromising its capacity and irritating the nerves feeding it… The most rigorous studies ever conducted on childhood wetting were led by Sean O’Regan, a kidney specialist drawn to the topic because his 5-year-old son wet the bed every night. A test called anal manometry showed his son’s rectum was so stretched by stool that the boy couldn’t detect a tangerine-sized air balloon inflated in his bottom…

Ultimately, O’Regan’s Canadian research team tested several hundred children with enuresis, encopresis, and recurrent UTIs. Virtually all were, like O’Regan’s son, stuffed with poop. When their rectums were cleaned out with enemas, the wetting, soiling, and infections stopped… A couple years back, I tracked down Dr. O’Regan, now retired and living in Arizona. I asked him why he thought his research, compelling as it was, never made a splash.

He told me: ‘Constipation is a distasteful subject. No one wants to talk about it.'”

If you have kids who have urinary issues or constipation, check it out.

Nothing on my blog should be construed and used as medical advice.  But I do hope it makes you think and start asking questions.

Health to you and yours–

Terri

Snack Policy Changed

“It sounds so harsh when it’s in writing like that,” I said to my husband.

“Well, sometimes you get what you ask for, don’t you?”

♦♦♦♦♦♦♦

Sometimes you get what you ask for.  Several months ago, I wrote a letter to our church requesting a change in our children’s snack policy.  There are a lot of issues facing our children, but here is one you can take control of.  Don’t bury your head in the sand thinking you can’t make a difference.  Food colorings, sugar, preservatives, and refined flour products are not good for us and our children.

They may whine and fuss, but we bring home the groceries.  I’m sorry, if you were a parent who washed (maybe you sterilized) the pacifier off when it fell on the floor, you are so accountable now.  (Mine just got the dirt popped back in, especially the first one.  She was so noisy.)

♦♦♦♦♦♦♦

The church’s reply to my letter:

Terri, first of all, thanks for bringing this concern to our attention.
We want to do whatever we can to make sure that our kids are safe.
 
Here is what has been approved for Sunday School & Children’s Church. 
The nursery will have its own policy.
 
Sunday AM Food Policy:
Due to an increase of many food allergies among young people, we are requiring that no food/snacks be served during Sunday morning children’s ministries for children age 3 through the 6th Grade. (effective September 1, 2013) .
 
Thanks again for sharing this concern with us.
Pastor

♦♦♦♦♦♦♦

As a fun-loving mom, I feel horrible about being the movement behind this decision.  As a doctor who is aware of our skyrocketing childhood obesity, food allergy, and inflammatory problems, I feel at peace.  As a God-fearing woman, I know we are to take care of this fragile, yet hardy (or is it hardy, yet fragile), vessel of ours.

Thank you church, for responding.

It’s not about low-fat.  Low-calorie.  Vitamin C.  Fiber.  It’s about whole foods.  Real foods. And watching for food intolerances.

I would be happy if you took my letter and made it your own to implement change for your child.

Sincerely with my whole heart,

Terri

cropped-hsd-line-drawing_edited-1.jpg

Related posts:

Don’t Make Me Sick:  Raising Food Allergy Awareness
Poisoned at Church (Frustration with all the candy at church)
Poisoned at Church, Sequel (A letter requesting change)
The Sunday Scoop, Asking for Change in Church’s Snack Policy (6/30/13) (First response to letter)

Posts in the Draft Bin:  How I try to stay on the wagon and a great zucchini recipe.

“Milk and Cookie Disease”

wpid-IMAG1990.jpgThe Mr. Homeschooling Doctor loves to find articles for me.

Today’s article was:  ‘Milk and Cookie Disease’: The new childhood health condition caused by diet.

It’s a nice, vague little article in which Julie Wei, MD, pediatric otolaryngology, suggests that too much dairy and sugar, particularly before bedtime contributes to chronic sore throats, runny noses, stuffy noses, constipation, and tiredness in the pediatric population.

Conversation tonight then centered in our home around how “us doctors are gettin’ there.”

S-o…

S-l-o-w-l-y…It’s embarrassing at how slowly, really.

We have two issues.  First, food intolerances to things like wheat and dairy are significant in the population, yet unrecognized.  Second, most children are eating way too many dairy, wheat, and sugar products at the expense of vegetables, fruits, and meats.

Our children are suffering (obesity, poor concentration, allergic rhinitis, constipation, reflux), and we adults, who are struggling too, continue to feed them food items they do not need, at the expense of their health.  Why?  Because it tastes good?  They beg for it?  It’s a part of childhood?  A kid almost has to have diabetes before we’ll consider it okay to not feed him a cracker, juice, soda, cookie, cupcake, or ice cream snack.

I’m asking you to stop.  Take the high road.  The road less traveled.  The hard road.  If you’ve read this, you’ve heard it from a doctor.  I’ll stand on doctor ground tonight.  After seeing the changes in our home, I’m that concerned and passionate about this topic.

Our kids need us to reign in their soda, snacking, and poor food habits.  Maybe it’ll get us to thinking about what we eat, too.  A very good thing.

“Wei (MD) recommended her patients eliminate all dairy and sugar before bedtime, and  their symptoms improved significantly…Five-year-old Jonathan Giambrone is one of these children. A heavy snorer since  he was a baby, his enlarged tonsils and adenoids made it difficult to sleep…he would pick foods that were easy to swallow, like yogurt, smoothies,  applesauce and cottage cheese. And every night he would drink chocolate milk  before going to sleep…

After learning about Wei, Giambrone cut down on  Jonathan’s nighttime snacking and allowed him to drink only water before  bedtime.  ‘In a three week period, we noticed a substantial difference,’  she said. Jonathan also had his tonsils and adenoids removed two weeks ago,  which Giambrone hopes will make even more of a difference.”

Why not try a dairy elimination for two weeks, not just nighttime elimination?  And how about trying to take out dairy BEFORE the surgery?  What if…

At the end, the article makes a stab at constipation, a problem we found to be directly cured by dairy elimination in our home.

It’s nice to see articles relating symptoms to food, but we still have a long way to go.  I understand that gluten and dairy are staples, but if we can’t tolerate them, there are PLENTY of other very nutritious food sources.  If we’re concerned about vitamin D, calcium, B vitamins, and fiber, let’s enlist the help of a nutritionist for patients.  Even if patients are tolerant, most of them could benefit by leaning a lot less on grains and dairy.

By the way, not that it matters, and it’s probably quite evident by my simple operation here, I do this on my own.  I have no sponsor.  I have no web programmer.  I don’t get money for any of this, from any source.

Food matters.  Like a drug, foods treat us each differently.  Take only what you need, and watch for side effects.

Terri

Read full Milk and Cookie Disease article:  http://www.foxnews.com/health/2013/07/14/milk-and-cookie-disease-new-childhood-health-condition-caused-by-diet/#ixzz2Z4QoeRdi

Don’t Make Me Sick

Question of the Day: 

“Will you please post an article about allergy awareness?  My son has severe food allergies, and the food culture in America is such that there HAS to be food EVERYWHERE. 

People without food allergies have a difficult time respecting the seriousness of this issue.  They think if my child can’t eat pizza or a cupcake, he’s suffering a deprived childhood; I must be a controlling, freaky mother. 

Even your family thinks that about you, until your mother-in-law decides to feed your son a crumb of chocolate cake and his skin starts getting red and splotchy within 5 minutes as you frantically dig for the Benadryl and EpiPen in your bag.”

Some people choose not to eat pizza.  You can call them crazy if you want.  Some people don’t eat it because the eggs and cheese give them a rash and diarrhea.  You can certainly say that’s “too bad,” and it is!

Some people can’t eat pizza because they really would just die.  Silence.

A very special little boy I know has multiple food allergies.  He’s a cute, tiny, little thing.  It took him awhile to grow.  He wouldn’t eat.  He was either allergic or intolerant to just about all staple foods in the American diet:  wheat, milk, eggs, and nuts.  About the only time I’d let him and his mom come play at our house was on the day the best cleaning lady in the world had just finished working in the kitchen (and it wasn’t me).

The boy has two older brothers, each with varying degrees of allergies, and I talked with this mom about food allergies.  It is a constant, daily struggle in her life.  Just last summer, a fun family drive on the Appalachian Trail turned into a family nightmare as her son suffered one of the worst asthma attacks of his life from a new, supposedly safe snack.

Whether we like it or not, food allergies and intolerances are increasing.  I want to be a part of the solution, not the problem.  So I listened up, and here’s what my friend helped me to understand.

Tell Us the Dangers You Face

Definitely waiting rooms.  Crumbs of Cheerios and Goldfish litter the crevices, floors, and toys of dentist, doctors, and therapists’ offices.  After I wipe down a chair as much as I can, I have my son sit right next to me there.  He can’t play with any of those toys unless I wipe them down with disinfectant wipes.  I carry wipes everywhere I go.

Movie theaters.  Those chairs and floors are ticking hive and asthma-attacks.

Schools.  They can’t eliminate everything.  I listen with horror to those stories of kids finding nuts on the playground at school and dying.

Vacation.  Hotels and condos and even homes of family we visit and stay with.  I make sure everything is inspected before my son wanders freely, particularly under couches, under couch cushions, on the floors, and in the bedrooms.  But what can I do at Auntie’s house without offending her too much?  Not much.

Well-meaning friends, acquaintances, and store employees offering ANY food product to my children.  Sure, I can catch them and stop them, but then I have a crying, pouty child because he can’t eat the darn treat.  Why?  Why do they have to offer food at all?  Now that my son is getting old enough to communicate it’s getting a little easier; when offered a treat the other day, he asked the person, “Is it ‘itchy’ food?”

Changes in the ingredients of products we normally buy.  Read EVERY label EVERY time.  Don’t just trust the bold allergy label screaming “Dairy-Free, Gluten-Free” at the bottom.  The manufacturer can change the ingredients of something we’ve been using for years, and it’s not labeled on the front of the package.  Formulations change all the time.  Even the same item can have different ingredients.

ABC Analysis: 400+ Food Allergen Recalls Since March 2009

Decoding Labels: McCormick Pure Vanilla Extract

Restaurants are nearly non-navigable.  There are crumbs all over.  Nothing is prepared as whole foods, so the French fries have dairy protein in them and the hamburger has gluten.  Workers don’t understand how to read labels, either.  To them, milk is milk;  whey protein, well, it’s not milk to them.

Lotions, shampoos, and other skin care items can often contain allergens, like milk and wheat protein.  Nobody thinks about this, but my son’s skin breaks out horribly when exposed to some of these products.  Labels on anything used that comes in contact with my son must be read.

How Do Food Allergies Limit Your Family? 

All the playdates are usually at my house.

I homeschool.

The kids don’t go out much without me since most people don’t understand cross-contamination, crumbs lurking on floors, and how complex processed food ingredients are.

Overnight stays, even to grandparents’ homes, are a very big deal.

Family dinners require lots of extra work on my part.

Last Words

…We do the best we can to “do normal things,”  but in a world where EVERYTHING revolves around food, it is very hard.  I wish just for once we could have a get together with family that didn’t involve food.  There’s never anything my son can eat.

…And, although I haven’t mentioned it yet, perfume can also set off asthma in our family…sometimes I think people bathe in it.  I wish people would think about this a lot.

…I think teachers and coaches need to come up with an approved snack list and hold everybody to it.

…”Don’t feed other people’s kids ANYTHING.”

So there you have it, folks.  Don’t feed the animals-er–children.