You’re familiar with my youngest child, right? He’s darn cute, with that twinkle in his eye. And he’s lucky, because his cuteness helps everyone to tolerate his antics. I’ve described him when he’s in rare form before, and I’ve gotten emails from some of you who identify with this a bit too much. What I haven’t yet told you is that two weeks ago, I got totally fed up.
I just couldn’t take it anymore, and in a flash I remembered some things I’d done before.
We’re no stranger to strict diets. We used GFCF diets to turn around Tourette’s, Asperger’s, and inattentive-ADD symptoms starting back in 2008 when it was super hard to do because no one knew what it was and ingredients were hard to come by. And, of course, the paleo diet hadn’t really taken off yet, so I didn’t really understand that it was possible to cut grains out altogether. That was the era when I spent far too much time making stuff that looked like bread, but never tasted like it.
And then there was the time in 2012 that we went on the GAPS diet. I had thought it would clear up some problems in my oldest child. He ended up showing no change, but his sister, who had struggled with reading for a long time (looking back, I think it was more of a memory issue than anything) could read within three weeks of starting the diet and showed improvement in every academic area.
Why it didn’t dawn on me earlier to try a dietary approach, considering our history, is beyond me, but suffice it to say that it didn’t.
The week before, I mentioned to my husband that I thought I noticed a pattern. One morning, our son was given half a pastry with breakfast, and the rest of the day he was intolerable, in trouble, and unable to do his kindergarten lessons. A different day, he seemed totally fine until we went to the park and I gave him a granola bar with chocolate chips in it. After that, he was crazy. Even the dog didn’t want to play with him.
Strict diets are difficult for a family, I know, but being married to a holistic nutritionist means that we eat pretty clean already. We’re not purists, and so our children eat sugar from time to time. But the way that we eat — with me cooking everything from scratch — means that cutting certain ingredients isn’t really that big of a deal.
Plus, I was totally frustrated. I had had it, if you know what I mean. I knew that there was a sweet little boy inside there somewhere, and I wanted him back.
No-Sugar? Low Starch?
So let’s define what I mean by “no-sugar” and “low starch.” No sugar means that he’s not eating anything with added sugar. I don’t just mean the white stuff. No syrup or honey, either. Starch easily turns to sugar in your blood. So he’s eating less of it. For example, when we had sandwiches the other day, he only got one piece of bread, rather than two. He can’t fill up on potatoes. That sort of thing.
I do plan to eventually try him on syrup and honey. A friend of mine says that her child is only sensitive to sugars from sugar cane, and not from other sources (such as maple), so I’m open to trying it.
This Really Works
It’s been over two weeks now, and all I can say is that it’s working. In fact, that’s why I’m blogging about it. Because maybe one of you has had it with a child, too. And maybe the solution could be this simple. I don’t pretend this will solve all problems for all children, but it’s made a remarkable change in mine. In other words, if you’re at the end of your rope, something like this might be worth trying.
We often forget that our children are embodied souls. We get annoyed at their lack of self-control or what have you, and we fail to remember that sometimes there are physical causes — or at least physical components — to these issues. I have far less patience when I am hungry and/or tired. I don’t know why it took me so long to realize that, in the same way, my little guy has the ability to control himself when he’s completely abstinent from sugar. Even a tiny bit of it causes him to lose it.
On Wednesday, Q-Age-Eight needed to make a clinic visit because of an infected bug bite. When O-Age-Six came wandering into the room from the waiting area, I got nervous. He never behaves in these situations, at least not without threats and scoldings, and I wanted to be able to focus on Daughter Q. But he just sat in a chair and watched. For all thirty minutes, laser treatments and all! I almost forgot he was there.
I couldn’t believe it. He has never, ever done this before.
When we were leaving, the doctor offered him some Manna Bears, and I said he could have some. I couldn’t remember how much sugar was in them, but I was thinking it wasn’t much.
Oh. my. word.
The result was horrible!
When we returned home, I had school lessons to do with the girls, and yet I kept having to go outside to scold him. Why did you turn the water on? You know you aren’t to turn on the water without asking. Why are you banging that metal thing against the house? Did you seriously just take the stucco off the wall? Why did you take that thing of Dad’s outside when it isn’t yours? How did you break it?
That was just the first 15 minutes.
It was then that I realized how remarkable a difference cutting the sugar and carbs was making for him. He had gone from sitting and watching peacefully in a chair, to acting like a little monster with no self-control.
He’s still him, of course. He still plays tricks on people and fights too much. But he’s calmer, and he has more self-control. He can even be reasoned with.
I’m thrilled to have my sweet little boy back, so much so that this diet is going to continue indefinitely.
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