While we may hear often that children’s behavioral problems are caused by genetic factors, that is far from the whole story. In the process of parenting and healing my child with multiple behavioral disorders, I have learned and can definitively say that there are further causes behind these disorders, which means they can be healed.
That’s right: autism can be healed, and so can ADD/ADHD, ODD, OCD, dyslexia, and a number of other childhood behavioral and developmental disorders.
If you have decided to seek out natural alternatives to medication for your child, you will find many, many suggestions, but before you can begin “treating” your child, you have to accomplish a few things: reduce inflammation, eliminate toxins, and strengthen the immune system. The good news is these can all begin with some simple changes you can make in your child’s diet.
Below, I’ll give you five ingredients to cut out of your child’s diet NOW, which will not only begin the path to healing, but will likely result in improved behavior almost immediately.
#1- Food dyes
Artificial food coloring is responsible for a host of behavioral and learning problems in children, including symptoms of Attention Deficit Disorder, hyperactivity, autism, aggression, and much more. Because they are a neurotoxin, food dyes can cause headaches and migraines, as well as mood imbalances. Removing food coloring is one of the main components of the Feingold diet, a popular diet used to treat behavioral disorders and learning problems.
Food dyes, unlike many other ingredients, are easy to spot and are often found in foods marketed to children. Besides the obvious baked goods and candies, artificial coloring is often found in juices, pudding, and even in vitamins. Look for them under the following labels:
- blue, red, yellow or green (any combination, sometimes followed by numbers)
- FD & C lakes
- citrus red 2
- artificial color
#2- Monosodium glutamate (MSG)
It’s what makes Chinese takeout so tasty, bland foods not taste like cardboard, and is the reason you can’t stop at just one chip or cracker.
Monosodium glutamate is a common flavoring additive in many packaged foods, especially soups and flavor packets, and can be linked to a number of health problems, including migraines, as well as behavioral problems in children, because, like food dyes, it is a neurotoxin.
The very tricky part about MSG is that it can be hidden under a number of names, so you need to be familiar with its aliases, which include:
- Any ingredient containing the words “glutamate” or “glutamic”
- Yeast extract and other yeast ingredients
- Anything hydrolyzed or autolyzed
- Calcium or sodium caseinate
- Some gelatins
- Textured protein or protein isolates
MSG is responsible for making you crave junk food. It is formulated to make foods taste irresistible, causing you to eat more and more and still remain unsatisfied. As you crave these fake, artificially-flavored foods, real, whole foods are less appealing.
MSG can totally change the way you eat and what your body yearns for.
Tip: make your own homemade taco seasoning to avoid MSG!
#3- Artificial sweeteners
Like artificial colors, artificial sweeteners affect brain health, and can contribute to behavioral problems in children.
Additionally, they can retrain our taste buds to prefer the intensely-sweet flavor of fake foods over the natural sweetness of healthy, whole foods like fruit. And like MSG, they cause us to crave more sweetness than we were ever supposed to, because the unnatural sweetness is like nothing found in nature. There are many artificial sweeteners, under a number of brand names.
Watch out for these:
Artificial sweeteners are most commonly found in “diet” or “sugar-free” foods.
#4- High fructose corn syrup (HFCS)
You may recall several years ago when the Corn Refiners Association put out an ad that insisted that high fructose corn syrup was not harmful, but simply “natural, and, like sugar, fine in moderation.”
This unfortunate half-truth has perpetuated the idea that HFCS, also known as isolated fructose, high fructose syrup and corn sugar, is somehow part of a healthy, balanced diet. This simply isn’t true.
High fructose corn syrup contributes to hyperactivity in children and other behavioral problems. Because it is chemically-derived from corn starch, it has a much higher sugar content than sugar itself. The high-fructose makeup of this syrup means that instead of our bodies processing it slowly, as with regular table sugar, it goes straight to the blood stream.
#5- White bread (and other refined grains)
After eliminating the above ingredients from our diet, the next thing we did was to remove refined, white flour. This was a bit of an adjustment, and at first, it just meant that we didn’t eat bread at restaurants. From there, I started using whole grain flours in my home baking.
I will always remember early in our real-food journey, we were eating at a restaurant with family and my dad offered a roll to our son. I said no, but he blew me off and went ahead and gave it to him. Within minutes of finishing the roll, our son had gone from being fairly calm to running around and under the table, shouting, and being overall crazy! My dad believed me then and has never offered our son bread again!
While this may seem like a tough step, it was necessary for us to take on our way to better eating and better health. If you are eating white bread right now, switch to a whole grain or gluten-free version as a baby step to eating better.
Don’t be complacent
It might seem like making these changes aren’t worth it, and you might want to quit before you even try. Don’t.
Once you remove these ingredients, one by one, you will start seeing changes in your child and you will be motivated to learn more and do more- I promise! When I interviewed Gordon’s mom, Tracee, she told me that eliminating red dye for her autistic son’s diet completely eliminated his tantrums, practically overnight. She went on to completely heal him from autism. You have to start somewhere, so choose an ingredient and get it out!
It’s important you learn the truth about these toxic ingredients because, as Dr. Mark Hyman says, “Doubt and confusion are the currency of deception, and they sow the seeds of complacency.”
It’s up to you to learn all you can about these ingredients and make healthy choices for your family. Food manufacturers will do everything they can to convince you that eating these things is fine “in moderation.” If they can confuse you, they win; if you feel overwhelmed by sorting through information and are uninformed, you will have little will to make changes.
Make the changes your child needs and experience health and freedom for your entire family!