Since you guys proposed SO MANY awesome topics yesterday Tuesday, I shall continue to mine them for awhile, or at least until something actually important happens in real life that requires a veryimportantblogupdate!, and no, I'm not counting last night's Tuesday night's all-night preschooler-puke-a-thon. (He's just fine now, of course, which is good because we are plum out of clean sheets.)
I have been reading The Unhealthy Truth and seem to remember you mentioning it on one of your Advice columns. The book is blowing me away and I am shocked at how few folks realize how food can really affect us - say, Red #40 for example.
I was wondering your thoughts on this and if you have seen whether certain things affect Noah. For example, artificial colorings are the devil now in our house because my son flips his lid every time he has them. And this is the same kid who can eat ice cream and go right to bed! For him, Red #40 is like main-lining a bit heroin.
Yep. I did write about this book, mere HOURS after I'd finished reading it, while I was freshly seething with rage. I have since gone back and re-read sections and pondered it some more and guess what! I AM STILL ANGRY.
(Hold on, 'cuz it's about to get screedy and caps-locky up in here.)
(I mean, more so than usual. And about other things besides an overflowing coffeemaker, or something.)
For the record, I am not a big conspiracy theorist. I am more of skeptic than a believer, and while I certainly gotten crunchier in recent years with the cloth diapers and homemade baby food and all, I still am a BIGFAN! of things like modern medicine and scientific advancements. I'm allergic to most antibiotics -- HIGHLY SO -- thus personally have always had to depend on alternative treatments for myself, and I'm not trigger-happy with the prescriptions when it comes to the kids. But both of the boys have gotten both seasonal and H1N1 flu shots this year and I would jab 'em in the arm again in a heartbeat. We fully vaccinate, falling on the "debunked" side of the vaccine/autism fence, although I think the chicken pox one is bullshit. (I never had it, and have to depend on the half-assed, temporary protection of the vaccine myself. Glad it exists; disagree that it belongs on the childhood schedule; worry about kids not getting their boosters and getting sick as adults.) I've seen the Feingolding gone amok at Noah's school, am a bit weary of suddenly every problem in the world being blamed on yeast and gluten, though I have nothing but sympathy for parents and child dealing with honest-to-God allergies and am extremely careful about sending Noah to school with clean peanut-butter-residue-free hands and non-triggering snacks, and would hope others would do the same for us. So basically, I was expecting to agree with some of what this book has to say...but also to roll my eyes at a lot of it too.
My eyes bugged out of my head, but they sure didn't roll. I'm not going to get into all of it -- the genetic engineering and corn refiners and the FDA's refusal to protect us from stuff that's long since been banned or flagged as dangerous overseas (soy baby formula, anyone?) -- but seriously, IS GAH HEAD EXPLODING TIME NOW.
Anyway, the whole artificial coloring thing. Yes, they affect Noah big time. They are banned in our home. Red 40 and Yellow 5 are just like...I don't know. Tiny seismic earthquakes through his neurological system. Artificial flavorings, too. He gets hopped up and agitated...while also weirdly shutting down at the same time. Loss of eye contact, anxiety, tantrums. He defaults back to echolaic speech or just goes silent. Anecdotal? Coincidental? Totally, sure, maybe. But it's so fucking scary, you guys. So why even argue, when it's a pretty safe assumption that Red 40 and Yellow 5 are two little things that we can all live without just fine?
And they are in EVERYTHING. It doesn't have to be garishly candy-coated. It's stuff that should technically, be healthy. Yogurts. Granola bars. Fruit snacks. Boxed cake mixes (seriously, why the FUCK does a CHOCOLATE CAKE need both red and yellow food dyes?). Toothpastes, kiddie vitamins and cold medicines. It's BULLSHIT, trying to shop at a "regular" grocery store when you need to avoid this stuff, even more so when (like us) you've also cut out high-fructose corn syrup and partially hydrogenated oils for various other Frankenfood reasons.
We're lucky that we live in an area where Whole Foods is about as common as any grocery store, along with Trader Joe's and several year-round farmer's markets where we buy pretty much everything from produce to grains to meats and fish. (Up where my parents live, you either live on one fancy organic aisle at the Acme or drive close to an hour to the nearest Whole Foods in New Jersey.) We're also very lucky that we can afford to shun the processed foods and eat organic, local, humane, sustainable and all those other hippie food buzzwords. I'll sacrifice plenty of other columns in our budget before I cut food corners, particularly for the kids. (She says while wondering if it's too early to switch from coffee to Coke. And fun-sized Snickers.)
And it took us a long time to get fully here, by the way. Hell, we potty-trained with M&Ms, fed Noah Flintstones vitamins, brushed his teeth with sparkly blue Disney-branded toothpaste. It really wasn't until we stopped giving him anything artificial that we really saw how little it takes to really affect him, be it candy or fast food chocolate milk or a fruit-flavored Triaminic strip. We don't deny him the occasional treat or get hysterical if friends or family offer him something we wouldn't necessarily feed him at home...we just sort of know what we're in for and up our focus on the rest of his diet for a day or two.
If you are unsure of how or where to start, The Unhealthy Truth is a great book for this as well -- at least after scaring the pants off you the author devotes a chapter on how to prioritize your grocery list and budget, taking baby steps to avoid the "worst" things and slowly get your kids to accept healthier versions without feeling like you've just ripped the rug out from under them and clobbered them with a Deprivation Hippie Stick.
Anyway. I actually wrote the bulk of this entry yesterday, right before my parent-teacher conference at the public school program. And finally, OH GOD FINALLY, I got to sit there in front of a team of teachers who had nothing but lovely, wonderful things to say about my child. What a delight and a joy he is, how smart and funny he is, and how much progress he's already making. I'm certainly not all, "OH, IT'S ALL BECAUSE WE THREW OUT HALF OF HIS HALLOWEEN CANDY. ARE BEST PARENTS EVER."
In the grand scheme of things, it's admittedly a tiny part of the puzzle. Though WOW, did I ever have a lot to say about it.
In other news, Noah is kicking ass at school. And I'm committing that phrase to published type: NOAH IS KICKING ASS AT SCHOOL. We celebrated by not coming right home so I could sit around and finish this entry. I hope you understand. It's been a long time coming.