Please note that the following is not medical advice but simply information to use as a matter of discussion with your licensed physician. We suggest seeking the care of an integrative pediatrician.
What is the Situation?
The first thing to do is to gain a grasp on the situation with your child. You can do this in several ways. Some cost more money than others. I always start with the free options, and usually, they bring a lot of answers. Start with the one that works best for you.
Observation is crucial. Make a daily log of what your child eats, drinks, how they sleep and how often they go to the bathroom if that is an issue. Also jot down the behavioral and health problems and see if they are correlated with the food. Frequently, you will be able to figure out the offending foods or drinks just by doing this. This step is the first thing an integrative doctor will ask you about, so it’s better to do this for a week or two before taking them to the doctor unless you feel going to the doctor is urgent. One father noticed that his son went ballistic, punched holes in walls, etc., after eating red food dyes in strawberry ice cream and resolved much of his child’s behavioral issues by removing food dyes from his diet. Observing is key.
Testing. If you can afford blood, stool and urine tests, which can cost anywhere from hundreds to thousands of dollars even with insurance, they are the most accurate way for any doctor to diagnose your child’s condition or ailment. A thorough doctor will order tests such as allergy tests (IGG, IGE), stool tests for determining microbial imbalances or infection in the gastrointestinal tract, blood tests for mineral and vitamin deficiencies, hormone levels, bacteria levels in the urine and feces, and heavy metal presence. Many also suggest genetic testing. Check with your insurance to find out what they cover first, but even if they don’t cover these tests, we recommend them. It may seem too costly to pay out of pocket, keep in mind that if you make a decision and pay for other treatments or therapies without this foundational information, those methods may be futile if you don’t know what you are dealing with. For instance, many children with autism have a Vitamin B deficiency or an imbalance of copper and zinc. Or detoxing heavy metals may be crucial for your child. One could spend thousands of dollars on ineffective therapies or useless medications with harmful side effects without knowing that a better diet and a vitamin supplement and/or detox process could resolve much of the issue.
- Communication. Depending on the child’s age, communication could be transformative. Ask your child how they feel. Do they notice that they feel better or worse after eating certain foods? Will they keep a log and write down how they feel? They could be detectives in solving their problems. Often children do not feel heard and assume their feelings don’t matter, so they don’t express how they feel. Once a child feels that a parent cares about how they feel, will listen, and is in partnership with them to recover, they will notice their bodily reactions, understand that they are important, and take on partnership and be more proactive in healing themselves. I asked my son if he would be my partner in his health when he was 9. I asked him if he would drink green drinks, eat different foods, and try alternative remedies. He said yes to all. He owned his recovery and is one of the healthiest people I know today.
Once you understand the reality of your child’s situation, you can begin to take action. Most of our supporters with children with chronic illness, constipation, learning/behavioral issues report, and doctors concur that their child has gut dysbiosis, an imbalance of the gut bacteria and/or holes in the small intestine, a condition called leaky gut. My child’s doctor told me, “Because of the toxins our children are exposed to, most children in America have leaky gut today, your children are just lucky that they have a mother who is taking steps to find out about this and do something about it.”
What Actions Can We Take?
To be clear, we are not doctors, and we urge you to seek the advice of an integrative pediatrician, holistic or naturopathic doctor, but these are the steps we have found to be helpful and should be used as a matter of conversation with your doctor.
Food is medicine. The right foods create health. The wrong foods, like medicine with bad side effects or the wrong prescription, can cause great harm and even kill. Figure out what foods are right for your child. After allergy and mineral testing, you will know. If you could not afford those tests, it would be safe to try the following. Many see amazing results in days or weeks that last a lifetime.
Purge your pantry. It is far more difficult to avoid certain foods and eat to heal if the hurtful foods are still in your house. Ask for partnership from family members and, for a certain amount of time, usually six weeks to six months, agree not to allow those foods in the house at all. Usually, those foods are wheat, sugar, and dairy. Food dyes, preservatives and fillers in highly processed snacks, soda, and junk foods can cause inflammation too. Going cold turkey 100% is important for the body to heal. Pouring a teaspoon of gasoline on a fire still stokes a fire. Stop stoking the inflammation in your child’s body by purging the fuel from the house.
Switch to organic. Many who drink raw milk and eat ancient organic grains like kamut, einkorn and spelt are proponents for, instead of purging your pantry of those items, simply switch to organic raw milk and organic ancient grains instead. No matter what your child eats, it should be organic. This is because most conventional, non-organic foods, especially grains (including wheat and oats), soy, dairy, eggs, and beans, have glyphosate residues. Glyphosate is a chemical in Roundup and other glyphosate herbicides, which are the most widely used herbicide. It has been proven to destroy beneficial gut bacteria and promote the growth of pathogenic gut bacteria. This can lead to gut dysbiosis, a weakened immune system, chronic illness, inflammation of the brain, and erratic behavior such as autism symptoms. Thousands of food tests have been conducted, and they show glyphosate residues on most non-organic grains and previously mentioned foods. Even non-organic orange juice, wine, and breastmilk have been shown to contain glyphosate. Choosing organic means choosing health.
Eliminate sugar and foods craved by your picky eater. Sugar feeds the pathogenic bacteria. So do the foods your child is most likely craving. Top food cravings we hear about are sweet foods, cheese, milk, pizza, hot dogs, macaroni and cheese, chicken nuggets fried in wheat, and other low nutrition, highly processed foods. The craving for certain foods is coming from the bacteria in your child’s gut that thrive on those foods. Those foods feed the bad bacteria and perpetuate the problem. When a child is having a tantrum for a certain food, it may not just be bad behavior; it could be a withdrawal symptom from the food that the gut bacteria needs in order to grow. To break this cycle, one must remove those foods from the child’s diet. This could be very difficult. Many people say, “But my child will just NOT eat anything else but these four foods!” But doctors across the country assure us, your child may refuse to eat for a while but will eventually get hungry enough to eat. Again, Step 2, purging the pantry, is crucial to this process to avoid caving into your child. Don’t forget that being a good parent often means giving your child what they NEED, not what they want.
Find the diet that works best for your child. Again, Step 1 is crucial to this determination. Many children are fine with organic raw dairy but do poorly with conventional dairy. Others need to avoid gluten altogether for a year but then find they can eat organic wheat just fine after that. Others must avoid all corn or soy ingredients (meaning reading the fine print and learning about all the sneaky product names that contain soy or corn, which is a lot), or food dyes, or certain preservatives. Most importantly, reduce or eliminate highly processed foods, increase consumption of organic whole foods and add in fermented foods like organic Kefir, yogurt (dairy or non-dairy), Kombucha, and sauerkraut that contains trillions of good bacteria to balance the gut microbiome. Don’t get overwhelmed. Just try one thing at a time by eliminating it for two weeks to see if there is a change in symptoms and behavior.
Supplement. It takes 70 cups of today’s spinach to equal the same amount of iron a cup of spinach provided in the 1950s. Although our main goal is for all of our children’s nutrition to come from food, because our modern food supply is so depleted of nutrients, supplementation is currently very important to restore the body's functions. Most of us, including our children, are depleted of vitamins and minerals that are necessary for our health and over 2000 bodily functions. Most of us have gut damage/weakened immune systems that need addressing. To support gut health and overall health, Moms Across America has carefully vetted several supplements to transition your family to having bodies that heal themselves.
- Purge your pantry. It is far more difficult to avoid certain foods and eat to heal if the hurtful foods are still in your house. Ask for partnership from family members and, for a certain amount of time, usually six weeks to six months, agree not to allow those foods in the house at all. Usually, those foods are wheat, sugar, and dairy. Food dyes, preservatives and fillers in highly processed snacks, soda, and junk foods can cause inflammation too. Going cold turkey 100% is important for the body to heal. Pouring a teaspoon of gasoline on a fire still stokes a fire. Stop stoking the inflammation in your child’s body by purging the fuel from the house.
- Your Body Can Heal Itself! Take actions for healthy habits With support, your body can do amazing things! Guide your child daily. We encourage:
- Get outside daily and exercise, play, walk, explore in nature for at least 1 hour every day, 2-4 hours best.
- Children should get 10+ hours of sleep! Sleep before midnight is the most healing.
- Have quiet moments reading, drawing, praying or meditating, listening to or playing music....NOT in front of a screen!
- Get consistent chiropractic care to maintain a healthy nervous system which supports millions of bodily functions every minute
Food is not the only thing that impacts your child’s health. The following factors may also be playing a role and should be, one at a time, reviewed and considered.
Vaccines. Most vaccines today contain ingredients that were not in the vaccines that we had as children. The ingredients have changed. Aluminum, Poly Sorbate 80, Formaldehyde, Squalene, and in some cases, Mercury and glyphosate weedkiller contamination are in today’s vaccines. These toxins can seriously impact a child’s immune system and have been connected to gut dysbiosis. Children with an MTHFR mutation have difficulty detoxing these ingredients, and the build-up could lead to autism symptoms, allergies, and autoimmune issues. In addition, as children, we adults probably only received three vaccines, with boosters, maybe seven doses. Today’s children are receiving 72 doses by age 18 if the parents follow the recommended CDC schedule. The number of vaccines is unprecedented, and so too are our children’s skyrocketing health issues. Studies show that unvaccinated children are actually healthier, and this is something we hope every parent seriously considers.
Environmental pesticides and herbicides. We already addressed the ingestion of pesticides and herbicides in the first phase by going organic. The next step is to research pesticides and herbicides are being used in or around your home. Is your landlord exterminating every month with toxic insecticides? Is your husband or neighbor using Roundup or other toxic weed killers on your driveway, patio, or sidewalk? Is your Homeowners Association spraying Ranger Pro or other glyphosate-based herbicide in your community on the sidewalks or community green? Other toxins like 2,4-D, Dicamba, Parquet, Atrazine, and Imazapic should also be queried for use. Oftentimes I would notice an asthmatic event in my child only to realize that the landlord had the landscaper spray chemicals earlier that day or the city sprayed herbicide on the hillside by my son’s schoolyard. As frustrating as it is to put in additional hours of time to address this with the decision-makers, it is worth it, not just for your child but for hundreds of others. Hundreds of school districts, cities, counties, and even countries have banned glyphosate and other toxins. You can do it! You can find the steps to take on our Action and Toxin Free Town page.
- Household and personal care products. The EPA has allowed over 80,000 chemicals in our society since the 1940s, and only a few have been banned. Most are not thoroughly tested, and thousands of them cause endocrine disruption (hormone imbalance), neurotoxicity, cancer, reproductive damage, and other kinds of harm. We suggest using products to clean your home and bath your children that are as natural as possible, with only a few simple ingredients. MADE SAFE is an organization that we trust to certify household products. Making your own is also fun and satisfying! Check Pinterest for easy recipes.
Although this list may seem daunting, we urge you not to get overwhelmed but to simply take one step at a time in addressing them as best you can. We know about moms because they are unstoppable in caring for their children because their love for their children never ends. We don’t give up; we don’t stop. We keep taking actions to protect and care for them no matter what.
Please let us know what solutions worked for you and how we can improve this article’s content. Thank you!