I was teaching pediatric nutrition at CSNN and one of my students shared an incredible story with our class about helping a girl with Autism. It involved vitamin-infused popsicles. I asked him to share his story with you.
My name is Pedi Mirdamadi. One of my clients is an 11 year old autistic girl. Initially, what started off as an effort to help her lose weight has progressed into a loving bond and special relationship that I truly cherish. Seeing this child on a regular basis allows me to see the effects of food on her behaviour. Some days she is engaged with me the entire time and we can carry on a conversation. Other days, she gets off track quite often. I can see that what she eats is clearly affecting her behaviour; clear indications of food allergies and sensitivities.
After learning how well read my blog was on the role of nutritionists, I thought you might be interested in learning more! It is incredible to watch the rapidly increasing interest in nutrition, as more and more people are having health challenges and not finding the help they need through conventional means.
I remember being asked to go to a couple’s home to teach the father about feeding his children healthily (I have actually done this a few times!). He didn’t know that I was there for him, so when I arrived, he tried to excuse himself from the meeting! I asked him if he could stay, reminding him that the way in which we feed our children for optimal health was as important for him to understand, as it was for his wife. He reluctantly stayed. A little while into our meeting, he said “You nutritionists have just found a new way to make money.” Here was my response: “I wish that there was absolutely no need for nutritionists. Our ancestors didn’t need nutritionists or people to research food and its effects because their food was unadulterated, pure and nutrient rich. The problem is that the almighty dollar and the general increased toxicity in the world has created a whole pile of unhealthy food in this world and as a result of consuming it, we are the most sick of any generation in the history of mankind. This crisis has demanded that we research food and its effects and find healthy food for ourselves because it is no longer omnipresent. And I can tell you that very few nutritionists are in this business for the money.” I then proceeded to tell him how much money I was charging him to come out to his home and that I would only be meeting with him once. I explained that we would set goals for implementing my recommendations and follow up via email, if he so desired. We talked for an hour and a half and at the end of the meeting, the father said “So what you are saying is that if I were to stop feeding my boys all of this packaged stuff, filled with chemicals, and instead fed my children from an organic garden in my backyard (preserving for the winter) and got my eggs and meat from my brother’s natural farm, my children’s ADD will improve?” “That’s exactly what I am saying” I replied.
Some of you may think about the work involved and the increased time needed to make a meal with your little one but when you read about the 13 benefits to having your child join you in the kitchen, you may wonder why you ever doubted asking them to join you! Here are the benefits:
One of the most common questions I am asked by parents is “How do I help my child eat better?” Their question is usually followed by the sharing of a litany of fears that they hold for their child’s wellbeing. My heart goes out to these parents. Most of you know that I only came to understand the importance of nutrition when my eldest became so sick; otherwise I know I would have been in the same boat. Below are the top 4 ways to help your child embrace better nutrition.
Proper nutrition affects the way we feel, the way we look, how we do at school and at work, our energy levels, our moods and whether we age gracefully or not.
1. Be a shining example
The number one way is for you, the parent, to be your child’s shining example. If the whole family is eating healthily, chances of your children eating healthily significantly increase. Even if you were to start making healthier choices now, the whole idea is far better accepted when no one family member is singled out.
On Sat July 13th, The Observer announced that British child death rates are ‘a major crisis,’ stating that five children are dying a day due to lack of pediatric skills and a shortage of pediatric consultants. It also stated that the World Health Organization (WHO) announced that there are 6,198 preventable deaths a year among children up to 14 across 14 European countries, which could be avoided if they tackled children’s health. Generations ago, children did not need access to pediatric consultants, did they? So what has changed? What is causing today’s children to be malnourished? And unfortunately, malnutrition is rampant.
When the majority of the world has more access to healthy food than ever before, why are today’s children suffering so much and even dying? The majority of adults do not understand the importance of feeding themselves and their children healthy food. Generations ago, we did not need to understand the importance of healthy eating. Our fruits and vegetables were made in nutrient rich soil, which contained more vitamins and minerals than even our organic fruits and vegetables do today. We didn’t have drugs that deplete our bodies of good bacteria needed to prevent all symptoms, conditions and disease. Chemicals did not exist in our food, water or air. Flours, sugars and cow’s milk were not refined or pasteurized, depleting them of necessary nutrients and digestive enzymes. Electro-magnetic radiation did not exist because there were no computers, televisions or cell phones. Even alcohol and cigarettes were more pure as they didn’t have added chemicals (For more information on the toxicity of today’s world, please see my prior post: Why are the children of today so sick?).
On July 4th, a Fussy Foodie seminar was held at Nature’s Emporium by Andrew Muto (chef extraordinaire) and Nanny Robino (who used to star on The Mom’s Show and now works for Slice Television). I will endeavour to summarize the numerous, excellent ideas that were shared at the seminar. Here are 4 important tips for picky eaters:
1. When parents make an issue out of food, food becomes an issue for their child. If a child knows that their parent wants them to eat a certain food or more of a food, more times than not, that child will refuse to cooperate; this is simply one area of their lives where they have control – let’s face it, there aren’t many. Therefore, it is paramount that parents say nothing when their children refuse a food or refuse more food.
A lot of us don’t understand why some people are moving to gluten-free diets. Here is a real life case study to show you the positive benefits of a gluten-free diet for a teenage girl.
Ashley is a 16 year old girl who used to consider herself overweight, unattractive, and an outcast in her peer group at school. She moved to a new high school in grade 9 and found it difficult to make new friends. She had always struggled in school and found it even more difficult after the move, as the curriculum was different. Her complexion broke out, and she found herself hibernating at home most of the time when she wasn’t at school. Although she was a good athlete when she was younger, her extra few pounds made her fearful of participating in any of the teams or activities at her new school.
With the support of her parents, Ashley realizes that her diet is contributing to her health, weight and emotional issues. She has decided to remove all the gluten-containing bread, buns, and cookies she was eating from her diet to see if it will help. Within a few short days, Ashley has begun to feel better. Her mood is improving, she has lost a few pounds, and her complexion is now improving. She is elated and committed to remaining on this diet.
Over 200 physical symptoms, conditions and diseases that you wouldn’t think are related to food can actually be caused or worsened by food. We eat food every few hours, all day long; it is the main substance that we ingest yet many of us refuse to believe its impact on the body. “The incidence of diet-related problems is greater than the incidence of any other type of illness affecting mankind.” James Breneman. What are 6 of these diet-related problems?
Bedwetting – When children pass the age of 5 and they are still wetting the bed, they are usually reacting to a food. The most common culprits are dairy, wheat and sugar. What happens is that the bladder becomes inflamed from any of these foods and swells to such a degree that it cannot hold as much urine and therefore needs to be emptied more frequently.
As a Pediatric Nutritionist, I often counsel parents on ways they can raise a healthy child. It isn’t just about how we feed our children but how we help them cleanse their bodies and eliminate toxins as well.
The 4 most important ways in which to raise a healthy child are to:
Remove the foods to which your child is reacting adversely.
Provide your child with good bacteria (probiotics).
Feed your child healthy, good quality, clean and alive food.
Ensure that your child is eliminating the toxins from their body.
Simply complying with steps 1-3 listed above, helps keep your child’s body free of toxins. But there are additional ways for cleansing your child’s body of toxins. The body is most supportive of cleanses in the springtime because the body naturally wants to lighten its load once the warmer weather comes.
Being a parent is hands down the toughest job that exists on the planet but it also has the potential to be the most rewarding job one could perform. It is when we open our hearts to meeting our children’s needs and see the innocence and goodness in them, no matter what happens, that makes our job so rewarding.
I remember doing a nutrition seminar for a group of grade 5 students. There was a boy in the class that was not allowed to sit with the rest of the children because he had misbehaved too many times. I wanted to share samples of healthy chocolate bars, called Twilight, with the class. The boy asked me if he could distribute the chocolates to his classmates. Out of the corner of my eye, I could see his teacher start walking towards him, as if to prevent this from happening. The boy knew she was coming and looked at me with fear in his eyes. Before she could arrive at the boy’s desk, I held the tray of chocolates in front of him, looked him right in the eye and told him “I trust that you will take this around to each of your fellow students carefully and quietly, ensuring that every child takes only one sample and that you will return the tray to me.” He did exactly that. I could feel his gratitude for my trust in him and his pleasure at being given this responsibility. And because I believed in him, he believed in himself. Now, imagine if this boy was parented in this way each and every day. How different would his life be? How much would he come to love himself?