Monday, October 3, 2011

The Feingold Diet: One Year Later, part 2

Part one can be read here: The Feingold Diet: One Year Later, part 1

After reading about the effects that artificial colors can have on some people, I still didn't get it. I told Brad we should write down everything Lissie ate and keep track to see if we noticed any trends. The next day, I took the girls to Taco Bell on the way home from school.

I know, I know! Is anybody surprised to learn that Taco Bell uses artificial colors in their "food"? I was spending 2+ hours per day in the car getting the girls to/from school, while taking care of a 6 month old and still unpacking, painting and shopping for furniture for our new house.  It wasn't an easy time, and our food consumption was definitely not up to our usual standards. Actually, in retrospect, it may have been a blessing in disguise because it really brought Lissie's issues to our attention sooner than it otherwise might have happened. But still, Taco Bell!

So we ate Taco Bell, and I dutifully recorded it in the notebook we had designated for that purpose while Brad and the girls played outside. And then I heard the screaming. And I knew.

A little Googling yielded an ingredient list, and the nacho cheese sauce looked like the culprit. I know, duh, right? We successfully avoided artificial colors for a few weeks after that, and her behavior was so much better. It was amazing, really. Then I ran to the store one day while my oldest daughter, Ariana, stayed home with Lissie. I wasn't gone long, but when I got out of the car I could hear the screaming coming from Lissie's bedroom. My heart sank, and I thought "oh no, maybe it's not colors?" because we hadn't had anything like that since we stopped eating them. I went inside and Ariana told me she'd been fine until the very end when she flipped out over nothing. I asked if she had eaten anything, and at first Ariana said she hadn't, but then she remembered that she had given her a cookie. An M&M cookie.

After that, we were really sure that artificial colors were the problem, and we were very careful about avoiding them. I did more research and discovered that artificial flavors are also a problem for sensitive people because both are made from petroleum byproducts. Yes, I said petroleum. In your food. Let that sink in for a moment.

So, artificial colors were a problem, but they were not the problem. We noticed an improvement, but there was still something not quite right. In my research, I learned about the Feingold diet and we decided to try it. Now, here is where I go on and on, sounding like a shill for Feingold, but of course they haven't paid me anything; I'm just a happy customer.

The Feingold diet eliminates artificial colors, artificial flavors, preservatives, MSG, salicylates, and a few other things I can't think of right now. I was 100% on board with everything except the salicylates  The chemical additives, I figured, are completely unnecessary, and any food that contains them is unnecessary as well. Salicylates, however, are a substance that is naturally found in plain old fruits and veggies. I wanted to do things right though, so we did eliminate them. It seemed overwhelming at the time, because you start by eliminating everything for six weeks. Six weeks without tomatoes or apples?  It was tough, but we did it. And it turns out, that she is very sensitive to both of those--which explains a lot, because we used to eat them on a near daily basis. There are a lot of other fruits to avoid as well, but those two were the hardest for us. We have since been able to add some back in: grapes, strawberries and oranges. Others we haven't tried yet, simply because the reactions are so stressful for us.

As I learned more, I felt like I had opened a Pandora's Box of sorts. Now that I know what I know, there is no going back. We've eliminated a lot of items from our diet, and the whole family feels better because of it. Once Brad and I stopped eating "artificials" (as we have taken to calling them), we both noticed that we reacted to them as well. I become angry and snappish and Brad gets fidgety. He'll taptaptaptaptaptaptaptap his foot. The best I can describe it, for both of us, is just a sort of nervous energy. Nothing as severe as when Lissie reacts, but definitely noticeable.

To be continued...

Photos licensed under Creative Commons
candy - Curt Smith
pelican - Louisiana Sierra Club

No comments:

Post a Comment