By Becky Mccully
We’ve been on the journey of feeling that our child is “different” from other kids for about one and a half years. He’s now seven. As we started reading up on autism, Asperger’s, ADD, ADHD, sensory processing disorder (all those names are overwhelming enough!!), we heard over and over about diet. XYZ can affect your child’s mood, behavior, learning, attention. My husband and I didn’t know where to start.
Finally, I chose to start by eliminating high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) from our diet. Why did I choose to start there? Because it’s in SO MANY foods: bread, ketchup, sweet pickles, canned baked beans, juice boxes, frozen juice, bottled juice, soda, candy, yogurt, pre-made baked goods, graham crackers, cereal. The list goes on and on. Our kitchen was full of the stuff. I was feeding it to my kids.
So I stopped.
While at the grocery store, I had to read every label, making grocery shopping much more time consuming and tedious. However, eliminating HFCS was a great choice and a profitable starting point. My son began to calm down, show better self control, and a broader range of emotions. Amazing!! We were thrilled.
One day our family decided to go hiking. It was a beautiful fall day. The leaves were changing, and the air was crisp. What a wonderful family morning that was!! Our son was happy and content. However, that all changed soon after we got into the car. Mom (me) had forgotten to pack snacks. Where was my brain? The only food in the car was dried papaya. I carefully read the label. No HFCS. I breathed a sigh of relief and fed it to my children. By the time we got home ten minutes later, my son was starting to become hyper. The kids were starving, so I gave them another snack. Within another ten minutes, my son was out of control with wild boyness, but he absolutely could not stop himself.
I ran to the packages…no HFCS. But they did have one ingredient in common…yellow 6.
“Yellow 6? That’s a food dye. How can we eliminate food dyes?” I thought to myself. I literally ran to the computer and looked up yellow 6 and Asperger’s. Oh, the plethora of articles and blog posts that popped up. Then I messaged some fellow parents whose children have Asperger’s.
“Yes,” they said, “food dyes are horrible. Have your son do lots of heavy work (running, bicycling, exercise, playing with play dough). The effects of food dyes can last two or three days.” Sure enough, two or three days later, my son calmed down. Amazing.
We have now eliminated all HFCS, food dyes, artificial flavors, and artificial preservatives. I have learned a ton about the food industry. I’ve found brands of foods that my kids like and am starting to make snack foods and yogurt at home. Yes, buying organic and natural foods is expensive. However, making yogurt and other snacks at home balances out the budget.
And my son? He is much happier. He understands how his behavior changes when he eats HFCS and dyes. He is now reading the labels himself. I am thankful!!
And I may be ready to tackle gluten free. Gulp.