When I became a parent, specifically a parent of an all-consuming eating machine, I realized that certain eating habits of mine needed to change. What I didn’t realize was just how much that change would actually be. From the moment that my son started eating solids, I made a conscious effort to incorporate a varied diet that was well-rounded and healthy. Luckily, he developed fantastic eating habits. While I made an effort to always have fresh fruits and vegetables, lean meats, and healthy snacks, I didn’t give much thought to the processes our foods went through. That is, until my son was diagnosed with ADHD.
Elimination and Triggers
At almost 5 years old, my son was diagnosed with ADHD. I found myself searching for answers and solutions to avoid medication. There were books upon books geared towards elimination diets that were said to contribute towards the hyperactivity and impulsivity of ADHD such as gluten, casein, hormones, and preservatives. I’m not opposed to an elimination diet, but in public school and with play dates it was difficult to remove so many different elements while maintaining a level of “normalcy” for the kids. To make it even more difficult, I discovered that one of my son’s biggest triggers was manufactured food dyes, specifically red dye #40.
Creating Our Family Plan
What I discovered was that by eliminating elements that were inherently manufactured and chemically enhanced, I was able to change our diets towards something that helped my son with his hyperactivity and impulsivity with just a few modifications. I realized that in our family gluten and dairy are star players. We are a milk and cookie family to a fault. I also learned that most kid snacks have an organic version meaning fruit snacks and certain candies were back on the table. The biggest thing I learned was where the food dyes and preservatives were sneaking in – our meats. Most of the fresh meats and seafood that I was purchasing daily were in fact enhanced with food dyes to keep them looking fresh, preservatives for shelf life, and hormones for size. In fact, once I discovered how to eliminate the hormones, preservatives, and dyes it became clear that our eating habits as a family could greatly benefit from this overhaul.
I created our own nutrition plan that starts with organic and all natural meats – no extra pink salmon or pumped up chicken breast. This was the biggest change. I began swapping sugary colored cookies for simple cookies like vanilla wafers, organic of course. I swapped the gummy candies for organic, naturally colored fruit snacks. I grew my own organic vegetables and fruits, with my son’s help of course to encourage eating fruits and vegetables at their peak of freshness.
Eating Cleaner and Healthier
Over time it became clear that my whole family was benefiting from the change to a cleaner nutritional foundation. We were enjoying the taste of our foods differently and felt better. Since we have eliminated preservatives, hormones, and food dyes from our diets we have not only found more balance with my son’s ADHD but we have seen benefits like clearer skin, more energy, and more substantial weight maintenance. This health change was not only good for my son and his ADHD, but it was also extremely beneficial to my whole family in our quest to live fuller, healthier lives.