The Evils Of Fruits And Veggies

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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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{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Jeannie August 23, 2011 at 12:40 pm

Hi, Alison–wow, can I relate to this post. I have a grandson (4 yrs old) and we have realized that apples and some other fruits have a seriously negative effect on his behavior. My daughter has begun investigating the Feingold diet for him, but it is so difficult to make such a huge change in one’s eating and lifestyle. I have begun following a Paleo/Primal way of eating, taking those baby steps, and have been encouraging her to do so also. I think she needs to keep a record of everything he eats and comes into contact with, esp when things aren’t going well for him. Do you do this? I’ll be suggesting that she checks out your blog. In the meantime, thanks for the reminder to check out everything!

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Alison Golden August 25, 2011 at 8:15 pm

You are very welcome, Jeannie. It is so awful to see a child going through this. Feingold is a great start, but we found it didn’t go far enough for our child (Feingold died before his research was complete and was carried on by the allergy unit of the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital in Sydney who gave more detailed info on salicylates.) It is hard to change eating behaviors especially in a child. However, I found it was my commitment to the process that really made the difference. I didn’t buy the fruits/veggies or the processed food, cooked more, changed how I shopped, took snacks to playdates, asked other mothers to respect the situation and so on. I think keeping a record is a great start. I noticed how certain foods caused a personality change. Usually they were fruits that he binge-ed on like grapes. OMG, grapes were the worst. And yet we think they are so innocuous and healthy.

However, remember the bucket process – I explain about it in another post linked to above about chemical overload. If a person’s body is slow to process these chemicals out of the body and is taking them in faster than he’s expelling them, like a bucket he will overflow. It may take a very small amount of something to overflow and this is why we don’t always think there is a connection – a apple one day might cause a problem and not the next depending how many chemicals are stuck in his body. If you notice a problem, I would remove the offender and keep removing items until you get to a baseline. I belonged to Feingold Association for several years and they have some useful resources about how to go through the change process. But again, it may not go far enough (check out Failsafe, if so) so don’t give up!

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kathy May 22, 2012 at 2:41 pm

After about 4 years of experimenting with my diet, I finally cleared up my eczema. I settled on a paleo diet with grassfed butter as the only dairy, eggs only about once a week, maybe 1 beer a week as the only gluten…. I also think I’m sensitive to tomato sauce and strawberries…. And now my 6 month old daughter has eczema all over her torso. She developed it while exclusively breast-feeding. I quit my daily super dark chocolate habit and it hasn’t seemed to make a difference. The only other things I can think of are the butter, nuts, completely giving up eggs and beer. I do eat apples bananas and sweet potatoes regularly… its so frustrating and seems nearly impossible to figure out. I guess I’m just writing for moral support. Thanks for sharing your story.

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Alison Golden May 22, 2012 at 5:06 pm

Hi Kathy:

Tomatoes, strawberries, apples are *very* high in salicylates. Bananas are also high in amines, another natural chemical. Have you tried the paleo autoimmune protocol? That would remove all fruit, nuts and dairy. You can read more about it here: http://paleononpaleo.com/paleo-autoimmune-protocol/
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Kathy May 22, 2012 at 10:25 pm

Thanks for the info. I’ll check it out. I realized I also eat the peals of my older daughter’s apples (since she doesn’t and I don’t want to waste them.) Probably not so good. This is the first time of heard of any of this.
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