This is Part 11 of my 12-Part Series on Leaky Gut and Family Health. Part 1: Leaky Gut: What Is it, And Do You and Your Child Have It? Part 2: Leaky Gut According to Chinese Medicine Part 3: The 4 R’s to Gut Healing: Removal (Step 1) Part 4: The Feingold Diet for Behavioral Problems Part 5: Real Food 101 Part 6: Autoimmune Paleo Protocol for Leaky Gut Part 7: The 4 R’s to Gut Healing: Replacement (Step 2) Part 8: Reinoculation Phase for Healing Leaky Gut Part 9: Repair Phase for Healing Leaky Gut Part 10: Healing Leaky Gut: Challenges of Going Through Dietary Changes and How to Succeed and Part 12: Leaky Gut: Tying It All Together
Many common childhood health conditions can be prevented or alleviated simply by taking an appropriate dietary approach. For instance, frequent earaches, stuffy sinuses, and runny noses can be prevented by eliminating fruit juices and added sugars in the diet. Then, replace those calories with a sufficient amount of protein from “clean” sources such as wild or grass-fed meats, bone broths, and wild-caught fish. Epileptic seizures can be controlled by adhering to a ketogenic (high fat, low carb) diet consisting of approximately 80% calories from healthy fats such as coconut oil, MCT oil, ghee, butter, lard, and olive oil. Certain types of attention deficit disorder (ADD) and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) can be remedied or significantly moderated by avoiding all preservatives, food colorings, added sugars, other food additives, and gluten, and instead opting for a nutrient-dense whole foods diet. Children are also prone to developing food sensitivities and allergies (especially during times of chronic stress that might occur during the school year) that may bring on angry outbursts, headaches, obesity, or other chronic issues.
Significantly changing your child’s diet is easier said than done. Depending on the age of your child and how long he or she has been eating a Standard American Diet, withholding that favorite snack item could lead to a total meltdown. However, there are ways to ease the transition and even make it fun for your child, even for a “picky” child.
First, it’s important for the whole family to make the transition together. If your child is no longer going to be allowed to eat Pop-Tarts for breakfast, Wonder bread and cookies for lunch, and Spaghetti-O’s for dinner, you need to get these items out of the house. Do NOT put “off limits” foods in a hidden drawer or pantry for everyone else to eat when the craving strikes. Just do not allow these foods in the house, period. Do NOT cook “special” meals for one family member, while everyone else eats the standard meal. Be an example for your child by eating the same foods you want the child to eat, and by not eating the foods that are not on the healing diet menu.
Keep in mind that sugar is more addictive than cocaine. The first few weeks of sugar elimination may not be comfortable. Intense cravings for sweets could bring about mood swings, temper tantrums, and defiant behavior. These symptoms can be kept in check by increasing the amount of healthy fats in your meals. It may seem counterintuitive, but baking the sugar free versions of treat items (like cookies, cakes, and pies) may not alleviate the sugar withdrawal symptoms. Instead, try some pan-fried brussels sprouts with ghee, scrambled eggs made at the ratio of four yolks for every two egg whites, and soups made with bone broth and cream. (I’ll include some recipes in the next article in this series.)
Sugar withdrawal symptoms usually subside after the first 1 – 2 weeks, and when you emerge through the end of that tunnel, the results are usually quite rewarding. Your child will begin to develop healthy cravings for veggies, whole fruits, and meats. If you can teach your child to notice how she feels after eating a meal or snack, she may begin to notice that a treat obtained at school or a friend’s house brings on unpleasant symptoms. Children are often more in tune with their bodies than adults, so this process may come more easily for your child than you might expect.
Need some recipe ideas and swaps for healthy meals and snacks? Check out the next article in this series which will be the last article for this series. It will be packed with sample meal ideas, simple swaps and recommended grab-and-go products, so be on the look out!