Now that we have returned from a magical trip to Disney World (a little longer than expected, thanks to the Nemo blizzard) we are putting new dietary restrictions in place for Cad. After much searching we have found a neurological reorganization therapist who is going to help him to heal some neuro pathways that weren't working to the best of their ability. That's a whole bunch of mumma jargon that basically means that while Cad's brain was developing it may have skipped a few steps (but not to the detriment of his intelligence) and so now we're going back and helping his brain to fix itself so that some of the symptoms (like ADHD and Sensory Processing Disorder) will improve and maybe even fade away.
Back to those dietary restrictions...our family has been paleo since June, but we haven't been quite as strict about what Cad eats as my hubby and I have been with ourselves. Lately I've been noticing that he is really affected by grains, not just gluten. He gets hyper, then totally morose and hard to deal with. We knew we would need to tighten our food rules, but figured we would wait until we returned from Disney since it's the land of sugar and trans fats.
Let me tell you that when I know that my son's behavior is affected by the foods he eats there was no greater example then when we were in Disney. I mean he was a total maniac about a half hour after every meal. We smartened up after a few days and ate a lot less treats, but he still was affected everytime we made a food choice outside of our normal lifestyle. We were on the Disney Dining Plan, so we worked with what we had, but it was totally apparent that when we came home it was time to fully make the switch for Cad.
The new plan for Cad is now posted in our kitchen and all of our babysitters have a copy and have read it through. Here's the basics (condensed for space):
Food Rules for Cad
YES Cad can eat:
Meats including (but not limited to) Pork, Beef, Chicken, Turkey, Fish. Ideally meats should be nitrate free.
Vegetables and Fruit of all kinds except for White Potatoes, Corn, Beans, and Peas which should be very limited. Cad loves Apples, Broccoli, Carrots, Squash, Pineapple, and Berries.
Nuts and Seeds are all great except for Peanuts.
Healthy Fats like Olive Oil, Avocado, Palm Oil, Ghee, and Coconut Oil are good for Cad, but he must avoid Vegetable Oil, Seed Oils (like grapeseed), and any other processed, or manufactured oils.
Foods sweetened with Coconut Nectar, Honey, Maple Syrup, Dates, and Palm Sugar
Ideal foods for Cad to eat at a restaurant are Grilled Chicken, Beef, or Pork with Steamed Veggies. He should drink Water, Coconut or Almond Milk, or Coconut Water.
NO Cad cannot eat:
Dairy Products (including Milk, Cheese, Yogurt, Ice Cream, etc.)
Grains of any kind. This includes but is not limited to: Rice, Wheat, Millet, Rye, Oats, and Corn
Beans and Legumes This includes Soy and Soy Products and Peanuts.
Food Cooked in the Microwave
Food with Additives, Food Coloring, or Hydrogenated Ingredients
We've shared this information with all the people who might give Cad food, except for his school. I pack his snack so 99.5% of the time the food he eats at school is 100% paleo and falls within these restrictions. Once in awhile, around Halloween, at the Winter Solstice, and a few other special occasions they have had little celebrations at school and they give the kids popcorn and sometimes apple cider. The cider I am okay with. I'd prefer it was organic and/or local, but 3/4 of a cup of cider is not a dealbreaker for me. The problem I have is with the popcorn. Corn is a grain and we do not eat it. We do not eat anything that has corn in it. For a long time I put it aside in my mind and decided it wasn't worth the effort. But Cad's a little more loopy than usual on the ride home (which is a half hour) from school on days when he's had popcorn.
Then I thought about the other parents who have kids with allergies and diet restrictions. For example, Cad's school is nut free. This sucks for us because we eat a ton of nuts, Cad especially. We have worked around it using sunflower seed butter instead of almond butter and coconut flour instead of almond flour, but it's not without effort. I certainly would never ever want someone else's child to have a reaction because we love our nuts in this house. So if Cad has a reaction when he eats grains (like corn) that includes mood swings and hyperactivity, that should put me in the same category as those parents of kids with a "real allergy", right? I feel bad telling the school because popcorn appears to be the one occasional treat they can give to the kids that is safe for all of the kids (except Cad). I even thought about not telling them and letting him have it the few times a year, but that's a situation where we take one step forward and two steps back. I am a little nervous that I will tell them and they will continue to use it as a treat for the kids because then Cad will be knowingly not included. I doubt that would happen, it's a wonderful school.
So I debated this over the last few weeks knowing that the answer would have to be that I tell the school that Cad can't have the items above, he just can't. Then, as if in response to my nervousness I came upon a great article about how parents need to tell the other adults in their child's life about what foods are allowed and what are not. You can read it here: Parents Must Take Responsibility for What Their Kids Eat The whole article makes a lot of sense since there's more than just you giving food to your child, but here's a part that really stood out for me, "Parents are ultimately responsible for what their children eat and only have themselves to blame if their wishes aren't made known." In order for me to continue to be a parent worthy of the awesomeness that is Cad I need to do something that makes me slightly uncomfortable. It's not the first time, and I'm 100% sure it won't be the last.