My son has been looking tired for a few days now.
He bursts into tears when I pick him up from school, he has headaches, he can’t get to sleep and yet he wakes up early, he falls out with his friends at school.
These are all signs that he is suffering from chemical overload.
This is something we have been working on for 4 years now when he started having massive behavioral problems at school at the age of 6.
At the time, his favorite foods were tangerines and cherry tomatoes.
In desperation, I, like most of us these days (how did we survive before?) went on the Internet and learned about salicylates, chemicals found naturally in plants, fruits and veggies, the Feingold diet and eventually a more extensive version of a low chemical diet, the Failsafe program.
No-one goes on a major diet like this for no reason.
You have to be desperate but it still saddens me how looking seriously at our diet is the last place we look for solutions.
It needs to be the first, yet we put ourselves and our children through behavioral programs, on medication, while experiencing poor relationships and great anxiety before we will consider it.
Working with diet does take effort, it does require a fascist-like extremism for a while but the benefits are enormous, and there is no other long-term, reasonable solution, IMO.
Educating ourselves about chemical intolerance has been life-transforming for our family.
Our diets have changed, not always in ways my kids would like but until they make their own decisions about what they eat, it is the way it will be.
I have learned to cook, lost weight.
I learned that eating part of a bag of grapes has the same effect on several members of my family as does drinking a bottle of vodka.
And that’s not a pretty sight – especially in an 8 year old.
An aggressive drunk is not a happy person and yet who would have thought those strawberries on sale would have the same effect?
And then, of course, when you think all is stable, something comes out of nowhere.
Like today, when my son woke up looking dreadful.
Then the anxiety and confusion raise their heads again.
It’s only very minor compared to a few years ago when I lived in a state of alternating terror at the impending likelihood of a major rage and utter despair that it was ever going to get better, but it’s still there to remind me of how tenuous stability can be in children who are sensitive to chemicals.
The questions start.
What have I given him to eat?
Has he eaten someone else’s lunch a couple of days in a row?
Has he been anywhere for a playdate and ingested a significant amount of junk?
And then I realized.
I picked up a packet of plantar wart remover; I had given him several of these this week to treat some on his foot. There on the box, it said, in innocent, bold, blue: “Salicylic acid.”
Mystery solved; guilty as charged; calm and stability restored.
Have you ever had your child experiencing unpredictable extreme emotions? Have you ever suspected naturally occurring chemicals in food? Let me know in the comments!
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