Alison’s story of motherhood is one I can identify with – with my children, and my own journey with wellness. Food has been the key for us – it can literally be the line between sanity and insanity in our household. I’ve watched my son turn from calm happiness into a violent rage on a store-bought gingerbread man with blue Smartie buttons! For myself I well know how irrational I become after I have consumed preservatives. I know many readers of Lavendilly have been drawn here on their own food/wellness journeys too, and you may find some support in Alison’s story. Transforming behaviour through diet is a huge commitment, and one that we need our family and friends to make with us, which is often quite a challenge in itself. Alison’s journey has spurred her on to offer inspiration and support to others through the Angel Maker Challenge. Read on to find out more.
My name is Alison, and I have a wonderful partner and two beautiful daughters, Miss K (5) and Miss S (2). My parenting story begins with friends whispering in my ear the Grimm’s fairy tales of parenting – children’s tantrums which shatter the walls, torture by sleep deprivation and death by confinement to the kitchen. Never, ever did I imagine that these stories would take on a life of their own – my life!
Fortunately, my story became the Hero’s Journey of how we transformed Miss K’s behavioural issues to create the joyous family life we’d always imagined.
For the first 8 months of Miss K’s life she was a dream baby. She slept well, would go to anyone and I wondered what all the fuss was about. Well I sure found out. Around the time she started eating a lot of solids, her behaviour became more and more physical and hyperactive. She would pull, scratch, hit, kick and not sit still for even 20 seconds. She also head banged until lumps appeared on her forehead. At age two, I stopped taking Miss K to playgroup, or the park because she hurt other children. She also hurt her baby sister and my mother. My days were spent trying to be proactive – having a rhythm, engaging in creative play but the reality for me was the moment to moment behaviour monitoring.
I tried behaviour management Super Nanny style – Miss K just escalated and no consequences were able to curb her behaviour. Time outs were a nightmare. I tried energetic healing, homeopathy, osteopathy and gluten-free diets. I know these modalities can work wonders for others, but the results for us weren’t lasting. I was desperate!
The funny thing was she never had any problems at daycare or kindy. They didn’t know what I was talking about. It was hard to think that it didn’t have something to do with my parenting.
A friend said, ‘Maybe that’s just who she is’. I immediately replied, ‘I refuse to believe that. I refuse to believe that a child could be naturally this unhappy’. By this time, every step in our day set off a major tantrum. I had to find a solution, so I searched frantically on the internet.
I ordered six parenting books and implemented as many of their strategies I thought would work. Then, as I researched yet another behaviour management book on Amazon, a reviewer said to take a different approach and buy ‘Fed Up with Children’s Behaviour’ by Sue Dengate which eliminates harmful food additives and natural food chemicals.
I looked at her website and ordered ‘Fed Up’ and ‘The Failsafe Cookbook’ immediately. These books are based on the RPAH elimination diet. I didn’t think that food additives would have been a problem as Miss K had never eaten chocolate, McDonalds or pretty much any junk food. We began the diet and it was surprisingly easy, despite resistance from family members who thought that healthy foods such as fruit and veggies should not be limited. I didn’t care, I was doing it anyway. We eliminated all harmful food additives and reduced natural food chemicals such as salycilates, amines, sulphites and glutamates.
And the improvements were immediate. Her tantrums became less and less and she could stop herself hurting people. We continued the elimination phase for 4 weeks and by the end of it she was the best version of herself I could imagine. I cannot describe how wonderful it is for me to see her happy, calm and comfortable in her own skin. It is like the food intolerance was crawling around inside her body, trying to get out and driving her insane. The bed time routine became easy, meals weren’t a battle ground and she got in and out of the car by herself, happily. She also became so much more creative. Before the diet, she hardly ever drew or focussed on an activity. All of a sudden, she was happy to get out her crayons and draw or make up stories. She started to spend time playing by herself. Her eczema also cleared up.
It was amazing to me that the seemingly healthy food I had been giving her still contained numerous harmful additives that had such a drastic effect on her behaviour. In particular, non organic dried fruit which contains sulphites, nitrates in ham and unlisted synthetic antioxidants in vegetable oils affect Miss K. Fortunately she does not react to natural food chemicals, apart from excessive amounts of naturally occurring glutamates in processed tomatoes.
I don’t know what I would have done without this information. We now have a 90/10 ratio of parenting joy to parenting mayhem, not the other way around. Sue Dengate says that you don’t know how good your kids can be until you try it.
I am so passionate about empowering other families to have a transformation in health and behaviour that I have created the Angel Maker Challenge, a free online resource for families to trial additive free eating for two weeks. The website is www.angelmakerchallenge.com. We are doing the School and Child Care Angel Maker Challenge in September 2013 so if you would like to get your education provider on board please see the website or contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The two common things that people say about additive free eating is 1) We already eat additive free and 2) My child isn’t that bad, I don’t think we need to do it. As you have seen from my story, unless you eat totally organic and don’t buy any packaged products from the supermarket, you are likely eating harmful food additives regularly. Also, it is not just extreme cases which experience a transformation after two weeks. Intolerance to food additives can cause learning difficulties, bed wetting, skin conditions, social withdrawal, low frustration or any other behaviour you are concerned with along with more severe conditions such as ADHD, Aspergers, ODD and Autism.
This diet created the possibility of an amazing future for Miss K and our family. I am eternally grateful for finding this information and I am committed to transforming the lives of all families who are affected by food additives.