This is a topic I am very passionate about. Here is the first post about the subject of behaviour and food. I will be incuding my family and friends personal experiences and links to helpful information about this topic in this post and future posts.
As a child I was a very bright and active little girl.
In grades 1 to 3, I was in advanced reading and math as I was a year ahead of the class.
In grade 4 it all went down hill fast. My parents enrolled me in French Immersion so I could have an advantage on the competition when I was an adult and went searching for a job.
I went from being a grade ahead of my peers in math and language to failing all my subjects.
By grade 8 the teacher told my parents to put me in basic classes in high-school and not to expect me to graduate.
In grade 10 I was tested and it was determined that my spelling was at a grade 4 level and my math was at a grade 5 level, no wonder I couldn’t keep up or understand the work.
What changed over that summer from grade 3 to 4?
Was it being in french immersion and learning a new language?
It would take almost 20 years for me to find the answer.
When my daughter was a new-born I nursed her. She ate all the time but wouldn’t gain much weight yet she was unusually strong, healthy and alert.
Under the supervision of a lactation consultant and dietician I started supplementing her feedings with formula. I would nurse her for an hour, every other hour, 24 hours a day then “top her up” with formula. My daughter still didn’t gain much weight.
At 4 months old the dietician recommended that I continue to nurse her but also to start her on solid food. I made all my own baby food (except the yogurt) Again my daughter ate 10 times more than infants her age but still gained very little weight. At this time she started to have temper tantrums and fits of rage.
Physically she was like a super human infant. She could hold her head up unassisted as a day old infant, bouncing in a jolly jumper at 2 months old and standing on top of tables at 7 months old. However emotionally she was developing anxiety and other traits I knew from my years of working with children that were not normal.
At 9 months old under the recommendation of the lactation consultant (who had seen my daughter on a bi weekly basis from the time she was 6 weeks old until she was 14 months old) we consulted a child development agency. After checklists, home visits and forms it was confirmed that my daughter had sensory integration dysfunction. I knew that this was the beginning of a very long road since that diagnosis always goes hand in hand with another diagnosis.
As my daughter became a toddler her rages turned violent towards me and this was happening multiple times a day. These were not normal 2-year-old temper tantrums in fact at the age of 3 my daughter put her fist through her bedroom door during one episode.
I didn’t know what to do. I took exceptional care of my self when I was pregnant. I nursed her, grew my own vegetables to make my own baby food, she rarely had junk food or candy.
Where did I go wrong?
One day I was discussing my daughters aggressive behaviour with her worker. She asked what my daughter had eaten prior to her latest violent outburst. My daughter had been behaving wonderfully at the ice rink so I decided to reward her with a blue slushy and all hell broke loose. That’s when we realized that perhaps a lot of her behaviour was related to food, especially food colouring or dyes.
I tested the theory multiplue times and made sure she didn’t consume anything with food colouring for a week. I introduced food colouring and she went from angel to devil. It turns out that food colouring was in almost everything on the shelf including the “healthy yogurt” and children’s “healthy” snacks that I was feeding my daughter as a young baby when her rages began.
After many years of experimenting and seeing an integrative medical doctor for allergy testing I know what my daughter can and cannot eat. These foods affect her in many ways. Her behaviour is one way but it also causes leg pains at night (what used to be called growing pains) stomach aches, eczema, migraines and it affects her academically.
When she consumes food with food colouring she writes backwards! She will write full paragraphs backwards and not even notice she is doing it! She also cannot concentrate, focus and retain any new information making her ADHD so much worse.
That’s when it hit me like a ton of bricks almost 20 years later! When I started in French Immersion I couldn’t concentrate, understand what was being taught and had a hard time sitting still . I would be up all night with leg pains, headaches, anxiety and stomach aches.
Did the new language cause this?
Not even close. I now know what caused this was the big bag of RED penny candy I would buy at the corner store every morning and eat while waiting for the bus to take me to my new school.
For more info on food sensitivities, what food colouring is actually made of (YUCK!) and ADHD please check out these links: