13

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  🙂  

2

Our story is a personal story.  Why anyone chooses to homeschool always is.  There could be a single or mixture of reasons given:  religion, health, curriculum choice, academic failure in the public schools, and school violence just to name a few I hear the most often.  But each  makes a decision that is personal to them.

We pulled my daughter out of the public schools in her 5th grade year. (We kept our son in public school for the rest of that year, despite his yearning to be home with us to try to meet our daughter's needs at that time.  The following year, we were glad to keep him home with us as well.) She desperately wanted to be homeschooled at that time for various reasons.  It was a decision that changed our family....  little did I know at that time how much it would and that I would be truly grateful for God leading us to do that.

Our family is closer.  We talk often. Not just at meal times, though our family dinner hour is always sacred, but here and there throughout the day.  It's an advantage most families don't have. And we spend lots of quality time together - time we simply wouldn't have if we had to obey the public school schedule and our children were whisked away by a bus early in the morning and not brought home until late afternoon with their backpacks full of homework for their evenings.

We have flexible schedules.  While my years of teaching in the public schools have lent their dent on me in still trying to maintain a bit of a 'typical school day schedule for academics', my kids don't have to get up in the morning until the public school kids have already been on the bus allowing them more sleeping time and they are typically finished with their work before these kids get back on the bus!   And if we are sick.  or want to go somewhere?  We just don't have school. (Yes, we DO fill the 180 days required by law, but we do it according to OUR schedule, not someone else's.) And if we want to take a full week off for PASCHA?  We do!  We can attend more church services, more field trips that are of interest to us (not another entity) and visit family a little more leisurely.   Now this flexibility IS harder in the higher grades with more inflexible choices we make such as volleyball, piano lessons, gym classes with the local homeschool co-op, online classes, etc. but it still remains more flexible than the public schools schedule.

Flexible Curriculum/Classes: Naturally we teach reading, writing and math but we are not held to the rigidity of particular curriculums or particular classes for particular years.  If my child would rather study zoology in 8th grade rather than general science, he can.  If he wants to take Russian rather than the typical French or Spanish, he can.  If he wants to do two histories in one year, he can.  If he wants to take an online class or even an online college course or a college course at a local university, he could!

We teach our children according to OUR beliefs. We teach them God is first, ALWAYS.  We are human, of course, and sometimes fail in demonstrating this.  I have. in the past, missed attending a feast day at church or other event because we are behind in academics.  But in this too, we are teaching God forgives.  But we must always, ALWAYS strive to do better.  This year I blocked out the feast days first on the calendar when I planned school days. So we teach them our faith.  We teach them the teachings of the Orthodox Christian Church.  And we teach them to love and forgive.

We maintain our HEALTH. My family has completely eradicated illnesses that conventional medicine claims there is not a cure for through eliminating MSG, other neurotoxins, and artificial additives and preservatives from our diet.  Because of homeschooling, my children were an integral part of our conversion from the Standard American Diet (SAD) to a more whole foods approach and eliminating dangerous toxins from our daily consumption in food products and other sources.  They enjoyed finding new recipes and trying new foods.  They learned to read labels and make determinations on what to consume and realized the detriment these food products had been causing us.  Because of homeschooling, my children were able to delve deeply into our learning process and do not need to be fed nonsensical information in a public school health class.  Nor do they need to fight school policies on school cafeteria food that is full of the very toxins we avoid.  (More on our food habits and our food choices in posts to come!)

These are the highlights of why we homeschool.  I wrote this, I have realized, as though I'm still homeschooling both my older children.  It's a hard habit to break.  My daughter is actually not at home this year because she is attending college at Indiana University of Pennsylvania. (Yes, homeschoolers CAN go to college - this in answer to an actual question my husband received recently from a well-educated man.)  Currently, it is only my older son that is being homeschooled.  Of course, while he's only 3 1/2, my youngest is also being educated...but in a much more relaxed, fun approach and not really 'school'.  We are enjoying just exploring his world and teaching the concepts that come up as they come up.  He actually has learned a few words already!  Nothing like GOOD BOOKS to captivate a child and give the desire to find out what those letters on the page are doing!

My older son is in 9th grade... his first year of 'high school' and keeping track of credits.  It's a challenging year but he's keeping up well and still active in Scouts and got a doe while hunting the other day (while public school kids were confined in a brick building).

So again, these are the highlights.  I'm looking forward to sharing more about what we do and what we have learned.  There's so much to tell!  🙂