My dear friend Jane attended a class for her son who had issues such as ADHD and Asperger's Syndrome, and at this class, she learned of the Feingold Association, an organization that educates people about the ill-effects of petroleum-based additives such as Red Dye #40, Yellow #5, and BHT, to name a few. She learned that these artificial food colorings, flavors, and preservatives have been proven to cause the symptoms found in ADD and ADHD, and other developmental and learning delays. I found this to be fascinating, and enjoyed hearing about her findings as she eliminated these additives from her son's diet.
One day, Tessa wanted a treat, so I opened a pouch of red princess-shaped fruit snacks, and poured them into a little snack cup. She ate her snack, and afterward, she went into the living room to watch a video. While sitting on our cream-colored sofa, I heard that sound that makes the the stomach of every parent sink. The contents of her tummy soaked into our sofa. Remember, she had just eaten red fruit snacks. I removed her from the scene, got her cleaned up, and then went after the task of scrubbing my sofa, and removing the red dye. I remember thinking, "Why does it always have to be red?" My thought stunned me, and I froze. Red. As in dye. I think I blinked a few times, then I got up and started checking the pantry. The first thing I grabbed was a box of macaroni and cheese. Yellow #5. Then the red fruit snacks. Red #40 (duh). I thought about children's antibiotics. Almost always pink...obtained by using dye. I called Jane, told her what I figured out, I joined the Feingold Association, and we began a life change that would impact our lives forever.
Tessa has Asperger's Syndrome, and I learned through the Feingold Association, and the many doctors they hooked me up with, that for reasons that continue to baffle them, there seems to be a high level of people with disorders within the Autistic Spectrum, who can't properly metabolize these petroleum-based additives. Hence, the vomit.
Tessa had been experiencing significant delays at that point, and within 6 months of having these additives removed from her diet, she began to blossom. Where she had previously scribbled with black, purple, or dark blue crayons, she began coloring appropriately, and even showing evidence of artistic talent when she drew pictures. Many of her Autistic-like symptoms disappeared, and her teachers and therapists were able to make progress they hadn't been able to achieve prior to her dietary changes. She even began to develop at an accelerated rate, reading at a 4th grade level in Kindergarten. And the throwing up ended.
Making Tessa's transition less stressful for her was easy, since I just decided to make the changes as a family, learning how to make her favorite foods from scratch, using pure ingredients. I traded my inexpensive imitation vanilla flavoring for pure vanilla, I tossed out margarine in exchange for butter, and I found with all of our changes that our more natural ingredients made everything I cooked taste hundreds of times better. There was not one thing we eliminated that we couldn't reproduce, and even improve upon, by using all-natural products. And, it made me a better cook, as I began really cooking at that point, discovering that I had a passion for it.
As an adult, she's able to articulate how she feels when she eats foods that contain artificial ingredients. She is able to veer a little, if she wants to, but she has found that if she strays too far, she can really feel it. So much so, that she is committed to maintaining an all-natural diet.
Last year, she discovered that she has an intolerance for gluten, something the doctors with whom I consulted through the Feingold Association, told me she may need to avoid. They told me years ago that there has been a connection with gastro-intestinal problems and gluten intolerance, and Autism, for some reason. She had been having stomach problems, and linking her stomach upset with breads, she decided to take a stab at the gluten issue the doctors had warned against all those years ago. She experienced such dramatic improvement, that she has certified herself a gluten-free person with only an occasional slip.
Who would have thought, huh? All this continues to baffle me, but the thing that shocks me the most, is how she experiences such improvement by the elimination of these things. Whatever it takes to keep her healthy and happy, right?
If you know of anyone with ADD, ADHD, bronchial problems, chronic ear infections, or any of the disorders within the Autistic Spectrum, including Asperger's Syndrome, give the Feingold Association a look. They have soooooo much information, and they go out of their way to hold your hand, as you seek the dietary changes they recommend. Like, they gave me a book of foods we could eat, rather than a list of the things we couldn't. Brilliant. It was my grocery shopping bible. It made our transition bearable.