My son, Ronan was no longer a baby and it was time to wean him off “baby food” and introduce him into the family meals, he was a fussy eater but being a working mom, the sooner I introduced him to the commercial foods that we as a family ate, the better. Things didn’t go quite according to plan though, as during this transition period I began to notice a change in my son’s personality.
As the weeks passed, Ronan started having terrible anxiety attacks, these began to happen more frequently and the extreme tantrums would sometimes last up to 30 minutes. I used every possible disciplining technique I knew, but he would appear to be in a “trance” like state and I was unable to sooth or calm him down. As I was an experienced teacher at a school for learners with disabilities, I was coming to terms with the fact that my son could have ADHD, ADD or a behavioural disorder.
Then one night, whilst he was asleep he had one of his “fits”, he was crying, kicking and rolling around but I was unable to wake him. We were both experiencing a terrible nightmare and all I could do was hold him tight and pray that he wouldn’t hurt himself. The next morning I made an appointment at the paediatrician and after a full examination, it appeared that nothing seemed wrong, other than a mention of possible iron deficiency and a recommended allergy test, to which I agreed.
I was horrified when the blood tests came back positive, this meant he could be allergic to any or all of the 6 hit list foods of which they tested: fish, nuts, eggs, milk, soy, wheat. The advice I was then given (over the phone) was to try everything out to see what works and what doesn’t. I was lost for words, I didn’t know where to start!
I was referred to Marlene Gilfillan, a dietician specialising in allergies and who was wonderful in explaining in detail how the allergy system functions. We worked out an elimination diet, cutting out every possible thing that could cause an allergic reaction. This “diet” would allow the immune system a rest period so when re-introducing foods one by one the allergies could easily be detected.
For me, cooking became a nightmare! I had to learn to cook without dairy, eggs, wheat, soy and also had to cut preservatives and all artificial colours and additives. I had to start reading the labels and I suddenly became aware of how much “junk” is put into our food and we don’t’ even realise it!
I followed the elimination diet strictly, and by doing this I could establish that of the 6 possible problem foods it was only dairy causing Ronan the discomfort. Ronan stopped getting sick and his sleeping pattern improved, he was now only waking up once, maybe twice a night.
As things started to settle, I felt that as we were eating so healthily and we had pretty much eliminated all the allergenic foods, I could bring in cool drinks, a packet of chips and the occasional sweet every now and again. Boy oh boy was I wrong! Almost immediately Ronan’s behaviour got worse, anxiety reared its ugly head again and he would cry about everything. This was when I decided, this is IT!!! I cleaned out the pantry, no sauces, no chips, no sweets, no cookies, no more junk!
Within only 3 days of a preservative free diet, I couldn’t believe the change in my son, he was like a different child. Ronan was no longer the aggressive, anxious and tearful little boy, he was happy, he had energy, the tantrums had stopped and he was sleeping through for 8 hours solidly!
A year later we returned to do the blood tests, they came back negative. He has no allergies to food, but giving him the wrong foods can still have the same profound effects.
The reason behind this is he shows intolerance towards certain foods and not an allergy. Research shows that many young children are intolerant to food colours and preservatives and this influences their behaviour and moods intensively. Only as little as 3% of children are allergic to certain foods and this is why so many moms let these symptoms slip and we blame ourselves for doing something wrong as parents.
When I heard about Bumbles™, I attended one of Bumbles™ talks and workshop. What an amazing concept and experience. Not only did I have such fun, but I left empowered with knowledge and confident in setting my family on the right path to healthy eating.
by Annette De Beer #bumblesmom
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