Our Food Story

Yesterday, I touched upon this subject when I wrote about maintaining our health as part of why we homeschool.  About 8 years ago, I read the book Is This Your Child? by Doris Rapp M.D..   Reading that book began a journey I am thrilled to be on and can only hope that in sharing our story, it may lead someone else to begin that same incredible journey in leaving some sort of illness behind in the dust.

Dr. Rapp only briefly spoke of the dangers of MSG and other neurotoxins in her book, but following her protocol for an elimination diet led us to much research into MSG and other neurotoxins as well as other artificial ingredients in our Standard American Diet (SAD).

When my son began demonstrating the typical signs of ADHD, I felt I had the qualifications to parent and educate my child without medical intervention.  Not only was I a former special education teacher (retired early  - very early), but I also was aware because of previous research, that the wrong medication could ignite a gene for Bipolar Disorder should he happen to be carrying that gene, inherited through me, as my daughter had and I had from my biological mother.  My daughter's gene was already ignited and traveling full speed ahead (part of that personal part of our decision to homeschool - see previous post).  I did not want this for my son.  Of course, I didn't want it for my daughter or myself either but I thought perhaps I could do something to 'save' my son while I could not, or so I thought, do anything for my daughter and I.  Little did I know -  I could do something for us all!

Reading on natural methods of treating ADHD and my knowledge of how food dyes and sugar can affect this disorder led me to Dr. Rapp's book.  I insisted the entire family, husband included, do the elimination diet together out of empathy for my son.  I simply could not expect him to do it alone.

What we discovered upon adding things, one day at a time, back into our diet was alarming!  Honestly, all I had expected to find was that sugar and red food dye would most likely increase his hyperactivity and inattentiveness to mundane (school) activities.  We never even got around to trying red food dye!

In reality, Dr. Rapp's elimination diet is short.  I know now that most elimination diets actually suggest a longer period of elimination to adequately determine an 'allergens' effect. With Dr. Rapp's elimination diet, foods listed were only avoided in totality for one week and then slowly, one day at a time,  added back:  milk, wheat, sugar, egg, cocoa, food coloring, corn, preservatives, citrus and peanut butter.

Without boring you with all the details, our biggest reactions were with sugar (especially my son), food coloring and preservatives.   Note I said "our" reactions!  While we never anticipated it, we all (I, my husband, son and daughter) all exhibited major reactions including rashes, red skin, hives, nausea, vomiting, headaches and major mood disturbances - just to name the most obvious ones!

This discovery led to intense research on my part - on the internet, in books and by talking to LOTS of people!  One person in particular that I feel helped us the most at that time was a homeschool mom I met at my children's homeschool soccer practice.  Becky actually came to my house and helped me clean out my cupboards and refrigerator!  She told me all kinds of things about artificial ingredients and helped me figure out healthier substitutes and suggested some further sources of reference.  I am so incredibly grateful to Becky!

Through the years, we have learned more and more and continue to learn more.  My son and husband still tend to be a bit distractable (though NOT as much as before) as we did not eliminate sugar from our diet as well as we have eliminated the artificial ingredients.  However, my daughter and I have not had any (That's right.  ANY) symptoms of our previous Bipolar/Anxiety Disorders in over 7 years.  We do not take ANY medications and have no reason to do so.  Simply avoiding the additives that our FDA says is completely safe and allows to be added to processed food products has eliminated these diseases and other health problems from our family members!

Currently, our family (other than my daughter as she is away attending college)is further dabbling with the Paleo diet and researching the effects of grains, legumes and sugar on our bodies.

I hope that in writing on this blog about our food choices (among other topics) to further share things I have learned about health and food related issues will help others to learn the same.  I hope you will benefit.

In the meantime, if you wish to learn more about MSG and it's many hidden names (Yes, it's even in products that say "No MSG" on the label!), Truthinlabeling.com is a wonderful source for these hidden names and other information.

I end by saying THANK YOU to Dr. Rapp, thank you to Becky, thank you to all the sources that have brought me to the understanding, knowledge, and HEALTH that I have today.  I will continue writing about all of our adventure and what we have learned and provide these sources to others. And thank you to my husband for supporting my research and being open-minded enough to know that conventional medicine does NOT have all the answers and for wanting the best health for our family right along with me.  I am very grateful to you all.


ADDENDUM:  Today, January 31, 2014 - this post is linked onto FIGHT BACK FRIDAYS on Food Renegade.com  🙂  

13 thoughts on “Our Food Story

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  3. themeetingwell

    Wow, thank you for sharing your story with food. I like researching food issues, too. It is really scary once you get into the information! I am still a bit overwhelmed by it, but I am starting to learn now, because once I have children (God willing), I want to feed them as well as I possibly can.

    I see you were experimenting with the paleo diet. What are your feelings about it? I recently found out I have a wheat allergy, and so I am debating eliminating grains from my diet in addition to wheat. I'd love to hear your thoughts!

    1. orthodoxmom3

      You are very welcome! I am happy to share so that others have a chance to learn and improve their health as well. I've come to the conclusion that disease really is caused by what we put into our bodies! Once you have children, (God willing!) I'd be happy to help you with how to prepare homemade babyfoods - but there are lots of good books out there on that too!

      We are experimenting and I'm really leaning towards sticking with it! I feel so good on it!! I'm really noticing a lot of differences but wasn't going to blog much more about it until we have given it a couple more months to make sure we really are going to do that. I do not have a 'allergy' per se, but have really noticed a lot of digestion issues clearing up following this 'diet'. And my husband, who has struggles with his weight most of his life, is losing it and feeling really good! You might want to read It Starts With Food! AMAZING!!!

      1. themeetingwell

        I would love for you to teach me about homemade babyfood! I smile just thinking about it!

        I picked up It Starts With Food over the weekend. I can't wait to start reading it, but it will have to wait until I get past all these final projects this semester. I will have to let you know how it goes. I am seriously considering adopting a more paleo approach to food.

  4. orthodoxmom3

    Thank you... that's a good idea for a future post! I will write it down! Do you have an immediate need? I could give you the name of the baby food books I bought- I think they are still around here-.
    It's a good book! I love that they give good quality scientific information without going over the layperson's head!

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  10. Deidre

    This is amazing and yet it shouldn't be. I have heard time and time again, the stories of diet elimination literally curing children and adults of neurological disorders, I am picky about what I allow my kids to eat, even when it comes to junk food/treats. I am more tolerant of red food dye since I've not seen any hyperactivity, but I absolutely do not do blue of any kind. With daughters, purple is hard to get them to move past when it comes to going to the local bakery. At home I use natural food dyes and various crazy things when I make playdough. Blue is the one dye that is absorbed through the skin.

    We have not eliminated sugar as a whole. We just don't have refined sugar in any form in our home and my kids seldom eat candy. I know other Mom's think I'm a tyrant, but honestly, my kid's favorite snack over anything is banana and milk. So at least their bodies know what is good for them. We use dried organic cane for our home baked goods and we simply didn't even notice a difference when we made the switch, other than it doesn't make us loud followed by cranky.

    We have contemplated gluten free time and time again. Giving up bread would really be a non issue. When I buy a loaf of bread and it stays in the freezer for over a month before we finish it. But...my husband is Italian, pasta is a staple. We do have a selection of gluten free pasta and some if prepared right, you wouldn't know the difference, but for lighter sauces, I've yet to find a gluten free pasta that feels normal. Plus we use organic whole wheat pasta and we really got used to the heartier quality and gluten free just doesn't have that.

    But, MSG is one of those things I don't think about, because we seldom use anything processed. But as I was reading this I took a gander at my condiments, oh boy, they are loaded.

    As for dairy and eggs, I have no research to back this up, it is only my assumption based of personal stories, but I think the problem has more do with where the product is coming from, what it was fed, injected with and if it was cooked. I was not an "advocate" for raw milk. I didn't think it was as dangerous as people would have us believe, given it comes from your own well cared for animal and is handled properly, but after we started consuming fresh milk I changed my attitude. My husband has required daily meds and an inhaler to control his asthma his whole life. Even with this regime it landed him in the hospital. My oldest daughter required a twice daily smearing of cream who's ingredients and side affects still make me squeamish to control her eczema and even then she still had red bumps. It also burned her, she screamed every time. In less than 2 months of fresh milk they both are gone. My daughter has not had a single incident of eczema in 2 years, my husband is completely off meds and no longer has asthma symptoms. I can not say for certain, but both of them consumed large amounts of Organic pasteurized milk and I think that is what they were allergic to. Pasteurizing kills an enzyme that allows the body to break down the milk proteins, as well as killing any healthy bacteria. There is also something to the A1 vs A2 milk discussion as America drinks A1 milk exclusively. Again, I am not a doctor, stay on your medication until you talk to a doctor, yadda, yadda, yadda. Both my husband and daughter were cleared by their doctors as having been cured. We are fortunate to have a doctor who wanted to know the when, how, where and whats behind our milk, but some are not that curious.

    But I have to say, if my only resource of milk was dairy milk, I would not give it to my children. I would do my best to source someone I knew and trusted with a cow, before I would buy even organic. I think it would also take a lot of trust to buy raw milk from a dairy farm. I have to admit, we found out one of our nurse calves got big enough to get our milk cow pregnant. As surprised and excited as we were, I was petrified. That means for at least 2 months we would be without her milk. So, we got a goat. Actually just put her in the pasture this morning. We are hoping goat milk gives us the same benefits. We will see.

    1. orthodoxmom3

      I wouldn't say we've eliminated sugar either...but we have certainly decreased the enormous amounts we used to consume (inhale is more like it). I have been currently been experimenting with the whole milk thing. I have not had any pasteurized dairy in quite some time now but have allowed myself, in small amounts - a bit in a bowl of oatmeal once a week, raw cheese on the taco salad we've had once every week or two and a sip of my daughter's latte.... and I'm totally fine. No sign of digestive issues or sinus congestion which are the main problems I've experienced before.
      Yes, I understand the I'm not a doctor thing.... but sometimes it's we mothers who put more time into research over the health of our kids than the conventional doctors do...and we find the cure before conventional medicine ever will. I'm so glad I did that...and so glad to know there are many many more moms out there doing the same 🙂 Let me know how the goat does.... have always toyed with the idea of goats and chickens but just can't get myself to make yet another time commitment...but I do love goats. 😉

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