Yesterday we took Elijah to see a naturopathic doctor to discuss how his diet may be impacting his behavior. I am ashamed to admit that someone who knows as much about nutrition as I do has a child who eats so poorly (he pretty much lives off of boxed mac and cheese and processed meat in stick and nugget form), but it’s a hard thing to change. First off, sometimes I eat that junky kid food, just because it’s easy, and if it’s just every now and then I don’t believe that it’s going to hurt you. But when you have a child, who can be finicky and have a sensitive palate, they tend to get pretty hooked on those kinds of foods, and programmed to expect the bland, fatty, salty, sweet flavors that dominate processed foods. And when you’re tired after a day of work/school/housekeeping or a combination of two or all three of these, the simplicity of these foods is really, really appealing. So I’ve ended up eating them more often than I would have before I got pregnant, and Elijah ends up getting a double dose of poor diet enabling.
Second, our families offer us a lot of support in raising Elijah. I lived with my mother from about 6 weeks of pregnancy with Elijah until he was almost 4 years old. She still keeps him over night practically every weekend. And during the week, when Jeremy is at work and I am at school, Elijah stays with Jeremy’s mom. Both of them want the opportunity to be Grandma, they’ve spent their time as moms, and now it’s their time to be the fun Grandma, and I agree. But there has to be limits. Jeremy and I have discussed this with our parents and they have agreed with us (maybe somewhat reluctantly at times), but the issue is how to explain what those limits should be. Its a more difficult task than Food Rules makes it out to be, especially when trying to convey the information to people who believe that “foods” like sugary breakfast cereal, premixed chocolate milk, and chicken nuggets are pure and wholesome. Not that they haven’t made awesome efforts (such as buying chocolate milk made with real sugar rather than high fructose corn syrup, and getting fruit flavored Cheerios rather than Fruit Loops because the Cheerios have half the sugar), but the fact is that Elijah’s diet is still far from well balanced.
So I went to a naturopath to formulate an action plan that will be gentle to implement and easy for our family to understand the parameters of. Naturopaths are doctors, they go to medical school and choose a specialty, ours specialized in pediatrics and midwifery. She listened to Elijah’s symptoms and thought about his diet, and gave us these basic steps to take.
First, we are to eliminate all artificial colorings from his diet. This is a primary principal of the Feingold Diet, the diet plan that claims to improve or cure ADHD and other behavioral/learning disorders.
Second, we are to reduce his sweets intake to one serving a day, after a meal. The naturopath specified that sugary drinks, such as juice and chocolate milk, count as a sweet treat. She said to implement this one a few weeks after implementing the first step, so as not to make too many shocking changes at once, but the fact is that by eliminating artificial colors will greatly reduce the amount of sweets he eats anyhow.
Third, we are to start omega 3 and b-vitamin supplementation right away.
Fourth, we need to reduce screen time to 2 hours a day or less (this is going to be the most difficult, I’m afraid, but we’ll work on it gradually over time – hopefully sending Elijah to school will make this easier).
So today is the first day of implementing the artificial coloring free diet, and to keep myself accountable, I’m going to be blogging about every day. I’ll share with you the recipes of all the foods I make, in case you’d like to mimic any of this.
For breakfast, Elijah had the same thing he has every morning. Plain oatmeal, cooked in milk, flavored with butter (home made), a touch of salt, and organic brown sugar.
Lunch has always been my toughest meal, I never know what to make since Elijah will eat neither sandwiches (he won’t touch bread, literally, he won’t even touch it with his fingers, it appears to gross him out), nor salads, the foods I tend to eat for lunches. This is where chicken nuggets and boxed mac and cheese are most likely to make an appearance. But since both of those tend to have artificial coloring in it, both of those standards have been a no go, so I came up with something else. I just made a meal that looks like dinner.
We had Lemon Butter Salmon and Cheesy Wild Rice and Broccoli. Elijah had sides of plain steamed broccoli (because he loves it) and a small tangerine. I had a side of sliced cucumbers.
Lemon Butter Salmon
- Two single portion slabs of wild caught salmon
- Sea Salt
- Lemon Juice
Place the salmon on a baking sheet. Put a tablespoon or so of butter on each slab of salmon. Sprinkle some lemon juice on top. Sprinkle some sea salt on top. Cook at 350 degrees for 20 minutes or so (if you start with frozen salmon, like I did) or until the salmon easily flakes apart when poked with a fork.
Cheesy Wild Rice and Broccoli
- Uncooked wild rice
- Cream Cheese
- Shredded Cheddar Cheese
- Frozen Broccoli
- Sea Salt
- Garlic Powder
Steam the wild rice in the water (I cooked mine in my pressure cooker, and it took about 20 minutes). I made one cup of rice, uncooked. Once rice is cooked, put in a generous spoonful of butter. Then about a quarter of a block of cream cheese. Then a handful of shredded cheddar, and as much frozen broccoli as you would like. Add salt and garlic powder to taste. Stir over medium heat until all the cheese is melted and the broccoli is warm.
Because I had night classes, I wanted to make sure there was something simple Jeremy could cook Elijah for dinner. I checked the chicken nuggets in our freezer and to my surprise they didn’t have any artificial colors in them. So I recommended he feed Elijah some chicken nuggets, some leftover buttered noodles, and some canned corn. He skipped the corn.
All in all, day one wasn’t so bad. We’ll see how day two goes.