Why dark circles should make you look at your children’s diet

In the olden days, allergies used to be rare and no one knew about food intolerances. But these days, I’d be inclined to say the majority of children are intolerant to at least one food and most little bodies don’t handle food additives and chemicals from their environment.

DARK CIRCLES UNDER THE EYES indicate a sensitivity to a food or chemical.
From my study, I have heard many professionals state that blood tests are not the most reliable method of testing for FOOD INTOLERANCES. They use a simple elimination test (OR this with a blood test, testing for IgG antibodies, not to be confused with IgE antibodies associated with allergies).

The definition of a food intolerance is : if you feel worse when you eat it and better when you don’t, then you have a sensitivity.  For kids, you’ll be looking out for physical and behavioural symptoms rather than relying on them telling you how they feel.  Fedup.com can you give an idea of the types of symptoms you might see.

Some have recommended a 7 day elimination test whilst others have recommended 3 weeks, before reintroducing the food.  I would personally say, the longer the elimination diet, the more the body will give you a clear answer when you reintroduce it.
Can you fathom an elimination diet to work towards better health for your child?

Trust your gut!  What do you think would be impacting on your child the most?  Food additives should be a definite first (ie all numbers, but see fedup.com.au for a list of the nasty nasty ones).  Gluten and/or dairy are also good ones to consider removing.

Some can rip the bandaid off and eliminate many food types at once. Others will need to go slow and steady.  Do what works best for you, to avoid too much stress.  It does not have to be too hard!

FIRST TIPS
Pick a food group to eliminate.
Look through your pantry/fridge to identify ALL the foods that contain this food group.
Brainstorm a list of alternatives.
Let yourself sit with this idea and new list of foods, so you can get your head around the change.
Be positive that what you are doing is worthwhile for your child!  When you believe in it, your child will too.

More to come..

🙂 Heidi

What your doctor DOESN’T tell you about eczema

Eczema is one of the body’s last cries for help.  It is desperately trying to expel toxins from the body, that it has not been able to do so through other means.  It is related to chronic inflammation of the gut and liver and has much less to do with dry weather and ‘thin skin’ than most fact sheets let on.

So what could be causing it?  A food that the body does not digest well will certainly have the body in turmoil.  A food sensitivity will tend to produce inflammation inside the body and may present as either an allergic reaction or simply nothing external, at first glance. The body may try to cope with this inflammation via eczema, particularly if the liver is functioning poorly.

Chemicals are another cause of eczema.  This may be from external contact such as soaps, chlorine and detergents and also sunscreen.  It may also be from chemicals that the digestive system is exposed to, such as non-organic foods, food additives and even overuse of medications such as steroid creams and antibiotics.  Yes, the very products doctors are prescribing to ‘bandaid’ the effects of eczema!

Besides food and chemicals, stress can be another cause.  Elevated cortisol in the body can literally produce holes in the intestinal lining, allowing undigested food, yeast and other toxins through, again producing inflammation in the body.

What can I do about eczema?  If you aim to get to the root of the problem, try not to turn immediately to steroid creams and ‘dry skin’ products like QV bath oil or Alpha Keri Wash.  These ‘dry skin’ products are still made by pharmaceutical companies, with less-than-natural ingredients such as paraffin, petroleum jelly and parabens (known carcinogens), sodium lauryl sulphate (SLS – a dangerous chemical), triclosan (a pesticide) and a host of other chemicals.

The more detoxifying your child’s body has to do, the more their liver is overloaded and the more likely their body will be forced to excrete these wastes through the skin, as eczema.

To be proactive, you will need to consider either first removing potential culprit foods, at least for an elimination test or turning to natural products, to reduce the body’s toxic load from chemicals.  In the meantime, consuming Omega 3 and 6 oils, in the form of say fish/krill oil, flaxseed/linseed oil, avocado, cold-pressed olive oil and organic nuts such as walnuts are extremely important for those suffering from eczema.  Probiotics, to support gut health, have also shown great improvement.

What are the best natural skin products?  Coconut oil is the best product you can use!  It can be used as a soap, a moisturiser, an antifungal/viral/microbial first aid cream and a bath oil.  It is even an ideal toothpaste (Natural toothpaste recipe) as it kills off the germs and remineralises teeth at the same time.

image : coconutoilbenefits.com.au

image : coconutoilbenefits.com.au

Natural sunscreens do exist.  You just need to visit your local health food store to find them.  Interestingly, studies have shown how sunlight can improve eczema.

How do I determine the culprit food?  This is a tricky one as eczema may not show up immediately after consuming an inflaming food.  Go with your gut.  What foods do you think are the worst offenders for your child?  Start by doing a 3 week elimination test of this food group and then watching closely as you introduce it back in.  Once the body has had a break from this irritating food, it will gain strength and give a much clearer signal of distress when you add it back in.

For those wanting less guesswork, you can seek out an IgG blood test to determine foods your child may be intolerant to, an IgE skin prick test to look at allergies, or using kinesiology to test how the body copes with the main allergens, with simple, pain-free muscle testing.

Is it easier to just ‘bandaid’ the cause?  Initially, it definitely seems easier to ignore eczema by using creams and dry skin products.  It is easy to blame the weather or put it down to ‘no known cause’.  However, eczema visible to our eyes means chronic inflammation on the inside of the body.  Research is showing chronic inflammation is the start of all diseases and even cancer, later in life.  It is linked to auto-immune disorders such as asthma, ADHD, autism, Alzheimer’s, neurological diseases, arthritis and also linked to obesity, diabetes and heart disease.

Eczema will come back to bite harder later in life.  A few simple steps such as adding in Omega 3 oils, probiotics and replacing coconut oil with many chemicals, will significantly reduce your child’s chances of living with eczema.  Looking into removing culprit foods will improve their chances even more.  And chances are, you’ll improve your whole family’s health at the same time.

🙂 Heidi

Eliminating the elimination diet…with kinesiology

When it becomes obvious that your child is reacting to something, be it a food or an allergen or even an emotional issue, it can be overwhelming to know what to do and where to start.  You might be worried about your child’s skin, their inability to sleep well or a recurring redness in their genitals, their behaviour or a low immunity or many other symptoms that just aren’t ‘quite right’.  Most people will visit their doctor to begin with but others may be in need of further answers.  Many don’t know about the benefits of kinesiology in achieving balance in the body, particularly for children.

What is kinesiology?

Kinesiology, the study of movement, is an alternative and holistic therapy, combining both Eastern and Western medicine.  It is holistic in that it looks at health as a whole and addresses the physical body as well as the environment and psychological state of each individual.  By monitoring muscle movements or biofeedback, kinesiologists can determine where there is a block in energy be it structural, chemical or emotional, within the body.  This allows kinesiology to address stress, allergies and food sensitivities, nervous disorders, muscle, bone and joint pain, headaches, hormonal imbalances, fatigue, insomnia, and emotional issues.

And so kinesiology becomes extremely useful in determining exactly what is giving your child a reaction.

Benefits of kinesiology

  • It is non-invasive.  It can be done through a ‘surrogate’ and thus your child may not even need to visit the kinesiologist with you.  But otherwise, testing of food sensitivities or emotional issues is all done whilst the child may be sitting, holding their parent’s hand.  The kinesiologist pushes downward on your extended arm to reveal a strong or weak response with your child’s biofeedback.
  • Anything and everything can be tested for sensitivity.  This means you can see for yourself how different brands of food may react differently for your child.  You will also be able to see the difference between organic and non-organic foods.  You can test everything from children’s medicines to sunscreens to allergens such as latex (and whether this differs between balloons, bandaids and bananas – yes it is quite common for those with sensitivity to latex to have a banana sensitivity too).
  • It can save wiping out a whole food group if it is only some products that are the issue.  For example, organic corn thins and corn chips giving a strong response but organic corn cobs and tinned corn giving a weak response.
  • It is less mentally, emotionally and physically exhausting than starting an elimination diet from scratch.  The kinesiologist can test your child with a large range of food groups straight up and from there can hone in on different products and items involving chemicals in your child’s environment.
  • It can shed light on emotional issues impacting your child’s system and thus how their body reacts to different foods when under different emotional stress.  This may involve emotional clearing and allowing parents to become aware of the stressors in their child’s life.
  • It helps parents to question what is in the food they are serving their children and to use their own resources in determining the culprits.
  • You can claim it through private health insurance or make it more reasonable by accessing a kinesiologist who is also a chiropractor.  Chiropractors tend to do shorter sessions, so whilst it may not be as thorough, you won’t be paying for longer sessions (but you will get a chiropractic check up for your child too, making it even more holistic).

So yes, kinesiology is controversial as it is not visible to the naked eye as to exactly how it works and it is not under the medical profession however, it can be a very helpful way to achieve balance in your child.  The only difficult thing is… you will have to be prepared to eliminate foods and chemicals or discuss any emotional issues with your child, to help them achieve balance.

If you need answers for your child but are unsure, why not give it a go and see it for yourself.  Alternatively, you can access an IgG blood test through an alternative medicine practitioner which will test your child for intolerances to many foods.  But not to be confused with an IgE blood/prick test which will test for allergic reactions.

Please let me know if kinesiology has helped your family.  🙂 Heidi

Food Allergy Awareness week – facing eczema and food intolerances

Timing in with Food Allergy Awareness Week this week, I have decided to cut a LONG story short and share some of the things I have learnt and some of the experiences I have had being a mum of two children with food allergies and intolerances.

Master 3 first got eczema some time after his birth and we started the GP shopping.  We had ‘experts’ who recommended parrafin wax (a known carcinogen) which played up even worse with my son’s skin, we had others who diagnosed school sores/dermatitis/psoriasis, you name it, only to find out it was and still is eczema and we have GPs who have sworn there is no link between food and behaviour and food and eczema!  We have spent a small fortune at the chemist on creams from natural to steroids and back again.  I am sad to say we did take their advice and I have thinned my son’s skin out with steroids, put parrafin wax on him, and more and nothing really worked anyway.

It was when Master 3’s eczema got so bad and he was so beside himself, the mother guilt really set in.  GPs threw anti-biotics, prednisone and more steroids at him and nothing worked.  I turned to naturopathy in desperation.  Master 3 ended up on a gluten and dairy-free diet and 6 weeks later, the behavioural changes in him were INCREDIBLE.  I had always said it was like he had ADHD but all of a sudden he ‘turned a corner’ – following directions, thoughtful, agreeable, calm, and no ‘naughty’ behaviour, just playing by himself for ages.  We didn’t pair the diet with his behaviour and were questioning whether the diet was doing much for him.  So we let him have a piece of cake – the next day he was back to ADHD and the eczema was back, clear as day.

In the meantime, from other parent reports, I heard about allergy prick tests.  So we got that done.  Master 3 reacted to everything yet we were told none were significant except dust mites.  It didn’t sit well as I knew he had issues with gluten at least but the doctor didn’t want to know about it and I could tell he didn’t know much about intolerances.

IMG_3340

Unfortunately, the eczema still didn’t clear properly and one day Master 3 was just looking so ‘unhealthy’ (see picture) so I decided it might be best to go to the dietitian to see if they could shed any more light and also to look at his diet since we were definitely staying off gluten.  We started an elimination diet to go back to basics and then start adding in foods with salicylates, amines, glutamates and finally dairy.  Four months later, and we have still not gotten to dairy as we are STILL trying to work out which foods Master 3 cannot tolerate.  The trouble is, sometimes eczema is caused by a build-up of one food or a group of foods (eg. amines), so you don’t see it for a long time.  But other times, it does appear straight away, which is so helpful!  It all seems so simple yet when you’re actually doing it, it is so so confusing.  People ask why I haven’t kept a food diary – mostly because I haven’t had time between appointments, cooking, checking skin, dealing with the ADHD behaviour, let alone day to day life!

In between all of this, I started realising Master 1, then about 6 months old, also had eczema on his cheeks.  He also had a prick test and of course that revealed ‘no allergies!’.  But as soon as I took the gluten away, the eczema went away.  We added it back in, the eczema came straight back.

Master 3 had another flare up and after a couple of weeks of eczema and ADHD behaviour, I finally realised we had finished his bottle of fish oil a while back and hadn’t bought a new one.  The next day, calm, gentle Master 3 was back and the day after, his eczema was all gone!  So we had another win!

I got confident after that, thinking maybe it was not so much the food chemicals (ie salicylates/amines/glutamates), but the fish oil! Oh the speculating!!  I had done a lot of reading by this stage which talks about some children having a ‘leaky gut’, where food chemicals slip into the bloodstream and head straight to the brain, giving them the ADHD behaviour.  It is very common with the children with autism whom I work with and I have now seen it for myself!

The next professional was a kinesiologist.  I had high hopes and we were trying a different angle, first dealing with Master 3’s ‘psycho-emotional’ issues which can affect how the body works, which lastly affects the skin.  We ‘cleared’ some energy and I swear Master 3 was a different boy.  We also had chinese herbs and ‘thuja’ to help his thyroid hormones but no improvements with his skin.

In fact it got worse, as we introduced glutamates – corn, sultanas, peas.  A big no!  Hello eczema and ADHD again.  It was pretty upsetting as a gluten-free diet includes a lot of corn.  Over a month later, and we have not been able to get rid of the eczema or behaviour.  I have contemplated steroid cream again, I’ve contemplated throwing in the diet and I have contemplated the most ridiculous things causing it all!

We had run out of private health benefits for further kinesiology (which I do believe would probably help in the end), but  without any idea of a timeline (and the kinesiologist did not ring me back or return my email), I feel like we are out on our own.

It is a very unfinished story!  But on the positive, I have since found a facebook page and blog – Feeding two growing boys which links in thousands of parents of children with food allergies and intolerances whilst providing up-to-date research on the real link between eczema and food.

Finally in Food Allergy Awareness Week, I thought I’d list some of the costs, a food intolerance or allergy can have.

Emotional toll

  • Coming home from the naturopath fathoming how to break the news – ‘doesn’t deal with change well’ Master 3 (just 2 then) was about to start a gluten and dairy-free diet, let alone a pile of concoctions and elixirs was pretty hard.  All in the week I was due to start back at work and was busy trying to keep up with baby food supplies for Master 1! It was almost too much to think about.
  • Dealing with a two-year-old for over a year who was impulsive, rough, couldn’t listen/follow directions/look you in the eye, could only roll around on the couch and couldn’t get his brain together to do anything more, yet after 5 minutes alone, he would rip up his favourite books and toys, smear poo, put soap all through the bath, rip down the washing etc etc!
  • The disappointment seeing Master 3 with his ‘ADHD’ behaviour again after his gluten trial and having to put up with the tearing up of the house and all of the other ADHD issues without knowing how long it would take to clear the gluten from his system.
  • Coming home from the dietitian thinking about breaking the news of an ‘elimination diet’ – egg, cashew, pear, green beans, meat, rice, quinoa, legumes and carob.  All right before his upcoming birthday and Easter.
  • Wrapping my head around creating breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks and treats out of the above foods, week after week.
  • Going from having a ‘party piglet’ who used to love trying all the new ‘party foods’ to dealing with birthday parties and seeing Master 3’s eyes immediately check out the food table.  Not to mention any other meeting around mealtimes with other kids and knowing he was wishing he could have some.  And currently seeing Master 1 eating some foods or the ‘just a little bit?’, tearing at your heartstrings!
  • The confusion for Master 3 as we chopped and changed what he could and couldn’t eat only JUST managing to always have some treat that he could have.
  • The highs and lows – professionals telling us they can help Master 3, finding gluten-free and fish oil worked to the frustration of yet more money spent, the sinking feeling of seeing eczema or Master 3 ‘acting up’.
  • Master 3 getting upset with himself ripping his favourite books up, getting into trouble for his crazy behaviour at home and at daycare when he does not want to be like that.
  • Constantly thinking about food and Master 3’s psychological well-being and health.

The financial cost

  • The appointments
  • The food – $7.50 a loaf of bread, expensive rice milk, quinoa etc makes you think twice about serving up extra food when it might end up on the floor

The effort

  • Spending hours in the kitchen as it is the easiest way to deal with the elimination diet is to cook it ALL yourself – cashew butter (no usual spreads allowed), pear chutney (no nuts allowed at daycare), hummous, pesto, mayonnaise, cake.
  • The mental energy in thinking about who is the next best professional to see about this, where can I get better information from if the medical world doesn’t know, dealing with the ‘he’ll probably just grow out of it’ comments, writing a menu for the week (including the rest of the family’s dietary issues and Master 1’s sensory pickiness) and basically serving 3 different meals at every mealtime.
  • Constantly thinking about making sure we have enough food in the fridge for 2 hungry boys as I can’t just go to the pantry and find something else.
  • The cleaning up from Master 3’s ADHD behaviours, having to have lightning quick reflexes, getting so nervous taking him out in public, constantly managing his behaviour but trying to have ‘understanding’.
  • Taking Master 3 (and a new baby) to sit in waiting rooms for hours for all of the appointments, whilst trying to keep him behaving appropriately.

I’m sure there is more!

Thankyou to everyone who has taken the time to read this.  Please pass this onto anyone that may be interested or also looking for answers.