Saturday, March 31, 2012
Things are mostly the same here. The big changes:
1.We've eliminated dairy from Max's diet.
2. We've noticed that Max reacts unfavorably to chocolate and other oxylates. We're working on that to see if they need to be removed or limited.
1. Max has gone about 3 weeks without a major meltdown. His issues at school continue, but he has been using his chewie necklace and some other self-soothing tactics.
2. Max has been happy, overall. We've seen a behavioral specialist twice now and I think she sees most of his behavioral issues as minor and correctable.
1. From the slips we've had over the course of the last six weeks, I'm pretty sure it will be a long time before Max can eat salicylites again. It makes me sad -- there are things he misses, like berries and peppers. And we will try them -- but I'm going to wait until I can pick them myself from a garden or orchard. Then I'll know exactly what Max is reacting to.
2. Max is still having behavioral issues. I think Matt and my parents think I'm being too hard on him -- that I expect too much of a four year-old. But I'm around other four year-olds and I know what they're like -- Max still has a long way to go.
Our next step is to start probiotics to help heal Max's gut -- this is a Austism Spectrum treatment that many use for ADHD and other diagnoses. Taking a probiotic, like FG diet itself, can't really hurt -- so we'll see. After we see some success from that, we plan on adding in a digestive enzyme.
We have hope -- we continue to see improvements. There are steps forward and back. It's challenging and somewhat disheartening at times. We just keep on keeping on.
Sunday, March 18, 2012
After our incredibly difficult beginning of last week, we were able to even Max out and have a good weekend. We hiked with my parents, aunt, and cousins yesterday, which Max loved. Anything that gets him out in the wild where he can run and jump and play is great. The bridge in the picture below was his favorite part.
We were pretty worried about Saturday's behavior. On Friday, for St. Patrick's Day, Max had a icing/sprinkle covered animal cookie and a chocolate gold coin. We held our breath for 24 hours, waiting for the fall-out and it never came. That makes me think two things: 1, Max is more sensitive to salicylites than to dyes/preservatives and, 2, Max's difficulties last week might have just been a detox reaction, which apparently happens to a lot of kids.
So now it's Sunday morning. We had a perfect day yesterday, which was wonderful. But it makes me really nervous about tomorrow. We had such a great weekend last weekend -- but then a terrible Monday and Tuesday. I just have my fingers crossed that we won't see a repeat.
We did, however, make cookies -- which are probably the most delicious thing I've ever cooked and they are chock full of health.
Wednesday, March 14, 2012
As is the FG procedure, we took Epsom salt baths to cleanse his system. They also recommend you drink some baking soda, but I couldn't do that to him -- I always taste his juice before I give it to him, and with 1/2 tsp. of Baking Soda in it, it was unbearable.
Now, 48 hours later, it seems like we've weathered the storm, but it was a doozy. I'm hesitant to say that, but things are much calmer today and he had a good day at school. So, now, since an infraction occurred, we have to start again -- we go back the number of days from the infraction and start from there.
If I'm being honest, we really weren't following the diet to the letter. I was trusting my instinct and intelligence to choose FG products that weren't in the approved manual -- just stuff I was "sure" couldn't be a problem. We've put so much money into this already, I hate the idea of wasting food. But seeing now what an unapproved food can do, especially one with hidden salicylates, I've made the decision that I'd rather waste food than experience this again.
So now, we're sticklers. Only stuff from the manual. No diversions. And, hopefully, we'll see the results we were starting to see -- except this time, they'll stick...
I'm not really going to talk about the specifics. Really, I don't feel like airing our dirty laundry. Instead, I'll just say that we are all the more committed to and driven by the Feingold Program and it's potential success. We plan on continuing the program, full steam, and moving forward from here.
I might not blog for a few days until I get my wits about me. Just know we're all still fighting the good fight.
Sunday, March 11, 2012
And this adventure, this experiment, was magical. It was a perfect, beautiful day. The weather was lovely. Max was happy and bubbly and sweet. But the events of the day weren't without some bumps and obstacles. The traffic getting into DC was heavy and it took forever to find a parking spot. Then, walking to the bakery, Max got hit with gastrointestinal issues. He made it to the bathroom, but it wasn't pretty.
Yet, through all of this -- through an unfortunate seagull incident on the pier and lots of travel -- Max remained calm, happy, sweet, funny, friendly, and attentive. He listened to us. He didn't fight. The only time we started to see some negative behavior was around 3 pm at Ben and Jerrys, where the line was long and Max had yet to take a nap. He became impatient and a little whiny -- but it was NOTHING compared to the last few times we went to DC.
As we drove home, with Max asleep in the back, Matt and I ruminated on our trip to the Monster Truck show last month and the DC car show a week after that. Both of those trips weren't positive experiences -- the Monster Jam being the worst. Max hated the loud noise from the trucks -- and I mean LOUD. We were totally unprepared, unlike so many other parents and kids with huge headphone things they have at Nascar races. Shows you how much experience I have with Monster Trucks.
Anyway, aside from that, his behavior became progressively worse and worse all day. I remember him running up and down escalators, despite my telling him not to. He revolted against holding hands as we walked. The only time he sat still was when I played a show for him on my phone.
When I think back on that day, I consider the foods he ate -- I remember distinctly giving him Cars gummis, Mini M&M's, and trail mix (with M&M's and raisins.) At lunch, he ate a chocolate milkshake and french fries. Knowing what I know now, no freaking wonder he was such a mess. I'd basically provided a Rx for bad behavior.
So, of course, Max fell asleep on the way home and slept until about 6:45 pm, which I hate. I dreaded him waking up -- he's always so grumpy after a late nap. And you know what? He wasn't thrilled when I nudged him awake, but he didn't argue or fight me either. Instead, he dawdled a bit before coming to eat his dinner - and devoured a slice of bacon and a 1/2 cup of spinach, which thrilled me to no end. He didn't like his rice -- I think I put on way too much soy sauce - so I'm making some plain white rice now. I'm hoping he eats some of that, too.
All in all, this has been the best day since starting the Feingold Program, simply because we were able to live a life off the scheduled grid and sort of wing it. I brought "Max food" with me, of course, but also gave him half a coconut macaroon at the bakery and a small vanilla ice cream cone at Ben and Jerry's. We had a beautiful, fabulous family day -- the kind I've always dreamed of having. It makes all of the cost and inconvenience of this diet completely worth it!
Lunch for 3.12
Saturday, March 10, 2012
So, despite Max's under-the-weatherness today, he and I were both very excited when the box came from www.indiecandy.com. One of the biggest struggles has been fruit snacks -- finding some without apple juice, grape juice, berries, apple pectin, and of course the obvious "baddies" - BHT, Dye, etc.
But Indie Candy has an entire Feingold Section, for both Stage One and Stage Two. And as you can see from the picture above, we took full advantage of it. This is actually only about half of our order. I put some in the bag to go to Max's school Monday and some in a box for his Easter basket (which I'm so excited about -- I can't wait to post it when I put it together!)
Anyway, the stash above was a "Back to School Bucket" that included the bucket pictured, as well as: Bunny Gummies in Mango, Key Lime, Pineapple, and Watermelon; Animal Lollis in the same flavors; Chocolate Lollis; Chocolate Covered Cookies; and (not pictured) FG-Friendly Marshmallows and Egg-Shaped Lollis.
Finally, FINALLY, I feel like we've reached the "equipped" point in this diet. We've got all the foods, drinks (finally found pear juice boxes!!!), soaps and detergents, and now treats. We're set.
Aw, crap. Strep.
So, off to the Pediatric Center we went. Isn't great that there are doctors with Saturday sick hours? They're open Sunday too. LOVE IT.
Anyway, as luck would have it, it isn't strep. Negative cultures and no fever or any real symptoms. His neck/throat glands are swollen, but that's it. And now he is in a much happier mood. Although, That might just be the result of his new Silly Putty, which he's now been playing with for five hours straight.
Friday, March 9, 2012
Thursday, March 8, 2012
Max's lunch for 3.9
Wednesday, March 7, 2012
Well, I figured I'd give watermelon one more chance. It wasn't a positive experience.
Since there are so many fruits eliminated for the first six weeks of the Feingold Program, I've really been struggling with finding enough fruit for Max to eat without getting bored or unwilling to eat it. Bananas have lost their luster. Pears were never a favorite. Mangos are a no go. Even the canned pineapple sits lonely on the shelf. But melon has always been one of Max's preferred fruits. And since his go-to berries and raisins are banned for the moment, melon has been a good alternative.
Now, of course, it's March - early March - so there are no local melons agrowin' round these here parts. So, like any good capitalistic consumer, I've taken to buying chunks in plastic containers at the grocery store. I've cringed every time I see that the melon is all the way from Mexico, but what can you do? I buy everything local that I can this time of year -- but sometimes, you just need to get stuff from Mexico.
Anyway, the cantaloupe and honeydew haven't been a problem. But the watermelon. Oh, the watermelon. I've yet to see such a sure-fire trigger for Max. He eats it and, like clockwork, three hours go by and he has a melt down. This happened a few weeks ago -- the day we really decided to go hardcore with FG. Watermelon contributed to a little boy pretending to shoot guns and scream and kick -- and just as soon as it came, it went. Max became contrite, apologetic, even regretful.
So, because watermelon is one of the FG Stage One fruits, I decided to try one more time. It was a big mistake. He had a similar instance in school as a few weeks ag0 - this time he was told to sit down and he yelled, screamed, tossed aside a chair, and tried to hit a teacher.
The experiment was both a blessing and a curse. It was a blessing because it was a lesson - I've learned that Watermelon is a trigger and needs to be avoided. It was a curse because every behavioral set back makes me feel like a failure.
So, right now, Max is taking a nice long bath in a tub full of warm water and two cups of Epson Salt, which is said to help detoxify the body after an exposure to a trigger. To be fair, Max managed to stay "pulled together" after his incident at school. I could tell by his mood that the effects from the melon were still with him, but he had a pretty good handle on his behavior. I really think that he's learning how to control his impulses. While I truly believe much of his behavior is food-driven, I think there's something to be said for learning good habits.
Tuesday, March 6, 2012
Monday, March 5, 2012
However, I rock -- and therefore, I packed his lunch and didn't pass the buck.
Sunday, March 4, 2012
Saturday, March 3, 2012
Max and I headed out to the Leesburg Farmer's Market this morning. Leesburg is my favorite NOVA town -- mostly because it's close and I know my way around. But also because the downtown area is really cute, it's got great restaurants, and it's the gateway to much of NOVA wine country - which I also love.
Anyway, the Leesburg winter market is as good as a small town summer market -- I mean, it's still seasonal, obviously, so we're talking root veggies and green leafy varietals. But there are dairies, wineries, LOTS of meat suppliers (butchers/farmers), coffee roasters, etc. So Max and I picked up a nice loaf of cheddar and black pepper bread from Staff of Life bakers, some fresh Mozzerella from Blue Ridge Dairy, and various greens from Quarter Branch farms. Wondering what they looked like? I was hoping so...
Since we were so close to a wine-carrying Wegmans, I figured there would be no harm in swinging by. And, for the most part, there wasn't. It wasn't until we got home that things took a turn for the Crayola.
I should mention that Max, at this point, had eaten a breadstick from the market (whose ingredients I reviewed and cleared), a bag of FG-approved gummies, some homemade soymilk smoothie, and PF Whole Grain Goldfish.
We got home and, within the first ten minutes, Max was running around like a maniac. In general, he was happy, so I wasn't particularly concerned. It wasn't until I was sitting and chatting with my brother in law that I noticed the marker in Max's hand. I thought it was a Matchbox car and that he'd been driving around the room.
No. Not driving. Drawing.
Drawing a road.
With a red marker.
ON MY WHITE CARPET.
Now, to be fair, my reaction sucked. I believe I screamed, "Oh my god, Max, are you crazy???" which, in general, is probably not the best way to address my child. From then on, things just spiralled down. He was upset and yelling and crying and running around. We finally got him upstairs in his room for a while while we worked on the carpet. Then I talked to him, handed him a wash cloth, and made him come down and participate:
No matter. What's important is:
a. We're replacing that carpet anyway.
b. We saw what reintroducing a trigger really looks like. (i.e. crack.)
c. We got him involved in the cleaning and talked to him about the incident.
What I want to believe is that a four year-old should know better. That a good boy would never draw red marker on carpet. But, when he explained the (Lowes) commercial he'd seen with paint flying out of the bucket and all over the house and instantly transforming the house into a beautiful place, how can I fault him? I mean, really? I have a literal little boy. And this commercial told him drawing on the carpet wasn't what bad boys do -- it's what artists do. Click on the link below to see what commerical I'm talking about.
(Minus the Mater in the Background)
Friday, March 2, 2012
For the first 6 weeks of the FG (Feingold) diet, you eliminate foods that are high in salicylates. These are a natural pesticide a food makes to protect itself; it's also the active ingredient in aspirin. These products include: almonds, apples/apple juice/apple cider vinegar, raisins, all berries, currents, cucumbers, peppers, paprika, tomatoes, and others.
Now, if you know Max, you know that EVERY DAY he was eating at least 5-6 servings of these foods. He had almonds and raisins in his trail mix. He had berries with lunch and sometimes with dinner. He had cucumber and peppers all day long. Eliminating these foods has been more than challenging -- it's been all-consuming. Reading every label of salad dressing to find the one without apple cider vinegar, picking out the clear organic gummy bears because he can't have the ones with natural black currant juice -- this is my life right now.
The good news? It's temporary. This is literally an elimination diet, getting all the salicylates out of the body and bloodstream. After six weeks, we introduce all these foods back in one by one. We find which ones are behavior triggers and which are okay to eat any time. The other good news is that, for the most part, most of these things are a 1 to 1 swap: almonds for cashews, berries for kiwi or banana or mango or melon, etc.
But I've had a really hard time with this one because SO MUCH of our current pantry and fridge are chock full of these (not-so-inexpensive) items. Also, Max eats them and loves them. Up until now, I haven't really felt like I'm punishing him. But when he asks for an apple or an orange or blueberries, and I have to say no, it's terrible. It's far harder to say no to the good foods than to that food-dye-laden Flavor Ice from yesterday.
Thursday, March 1, 2012
Max's Lunch for 3.1
Cantaloupe, String Cheese, Dried Pineapple and Banana Chips, Homemade Vanilla pudding, and Homemade Lemonade (not pictured)
First, I should mention that we had a bit of a disaster yesterday when Max was given a Flavor Ice at school that I wouldn't let him eat. I've never, ever felt so bad in my life. The poor thing was absolutely devastated - you'd think I'd told him he could never play cars again. But, we made a beeline to the Common Market and picked out some cookies, crackers, Popsicles, and other treats, like new soap and Glee gum. He was happily munching on his Coconut Popsicle by the time we got home.
Okay, back to the doctor.
We saw a nice, young female doctor, which made me happy. Not to be biased, but I find that when you're doing something considered a little more "earthy/crunchy," it's better to have someone from a younger generation. Dr. Lee was very on-board with a diet modification and believes, like we do, that food is our first line of defense. However, there were still some other clues to Max's behavior that she picked up on -- more specifically, his quantity of sleep. Apparently, kids need 10-12 hours of sleep. Max gets about 9-10, but he may very well be one of those kids that needs 12+ to function at his optimal level. For the last few days, Max has napped at school and had a great day. While we still believe the diet is the right route for us right now, it's nice to know that there is something else that we can do to help Max -- something that's FREE, since I'm spending an absolutely insane amount of money on food right now.
Max is also in the 95% for height, which he always has been, but because he's tall for his age, the doctor suggested that people might have higher expectations of him. Make sense, too.
And we heard some of the same suggestions we already know, but it never hurts to get a reminder -- less TV, more transitional time between activities, don't give choices if there isn't actually a choice (i.e. do you want to get dressed for school? What if the answer is no -- then what?)
So, today is Parent/Teacher conference day, so I'm not home to feed Max and Matt gets to do it on his own. He's ordered him a small white pizza from our local brick-oven pizza place (no tomatoes...) and I made homemade onion rings, ready to be baked in the oven. Plus my delivery from www.naturalcandystore.com came today, so there are bags of lemon lollipops and Sundrops for him to eat, too.
I'm excited to hear about how they do -- it's good for me to let go of the reins a little bit.