Back in November Emery had a very severe reaction to our real Christmas tree. We determined it was a sensitivity to salicylates. Based on a recommendation from Emery's therapist, we decided to start her on the Feingold Diet. This diet basically eliminates all foods and products with natural salicylates as well as all food and products with preservatives and artificial colors, flavors and scents.
After completely eliminating these items for 6 weeks, you can add the natural salicylate items back one at a time to determine whether or not you have a sensitivity to that particular item. The idea is to pinpoint which items you are sensitive to and then avoid those items in the future.
Salicylate sensitivity can result in any or all of host of symptoms. The symptoms are broken down into 3 categories: Behavioral, Developmental and Physical. There are many symptoms under each category. A person can have any number of symptoms in any or all categories. The sensitivity can be hereditary. Emery exhibits many symptoms. Blake exhibits some symptoms. We decided to try the diet out for both of them.
It took a couple weeks to get prepared for the diet. Between reviewing and planning what foods they could eat and buying personal products that they could use, it was extremely time consuming. It did get easier once I became more familiar with everything. So our big Feingold start day was January 22nd. We planned to be very strict with Emery. With Blake, we decided to allow him to have occasional items outside of the diet to accomodate birthday and other special treats at school.
Living with the diet has been fairly easy with Emery. She doesn't see other kids eating different things and we try to be aware of what we eat in front of her at home. With Blake, it has been a bit harder. He complains once in awhile about the diet, but, overall he has been a real trooper. The entire family mainly follows the diet for dinner. For breakfast, lunch and snacks, only the twins follow the diet. Although we are all eating less processed foods because some of the items I am buying for the twins are enjoyed by all of us. I think consuming less chemicals is beneficial to all of us.
What changes have we noticed since beginning the Feingold diet? We haven't seen any sudden major over the top improvements like some of the testimonials I have read about. But, we have definitely noticed some changes. With Blake, we have noticed an improvement in his ability to focus on school work. We are having less difficult homework sessions and more pleasant ones. He appears to be understanding his work better and learning concepts a little quicker and with less frustration. We have also noticed an improvement in his ability to control anger. If he disagrees with us, he is able to just give us a deep sigh and move on. As opposed to arguing and back talking. We have always had a difficult time with Blake being mouthy and argumentive. He would be sent to his room for a 10 minute break quite frequently. Since the diet began, he has only had to go to his room a handful of times. He really seems to be in control of his emotions and is accepting that rules are rules and arguing about them is not acceptable. This improved behavior has been noticed at school as well. We really were not sure we would see any effect with Blake on this diet. I am happy we gave it a try because we definitely have seen some positive changes.
Noting Emery's changes has not been easy due to her dealing with the PANDAS issues throughout January, February, and well into March. Since mid-March when she began getting back to her normal self, I have noted some new changes with her that were not present prior to her illness. One definite change is that she is using "mama" for a purpose. She has always been able to repeat "mama" or say it when I walk into the room. But, now she is saying it when she wants my attention for a reason. This is huge for Emery. She has always communicated her needs by showing us. She is still showing me what she wants, but she is saying "mama" first and then trying to use additional words while showing me.
Another change I have noticed is Emery saying "I love you" back when someone says it to her. She also has been watching short Mickey Mouse shows on the Ipad and giggling while watching them. She really has never been interested in watching tv except to listen to the beginning song. So her ability to sit and focus on something seems to have improved. She is also very interested in doing her own self-care activities. She insists on getting her own toothbrush ready and brushing her own teeth. She literally pushes me away and says "no" if I try to help. She is washing and rinsing her own hair and brushing it as well. Emery has really never had much interest in doing these things on her own, so this is definitely a positive change. She has also completed all of the first part of her apraxia therapy by learning all of the hand signals for her sounds. We are now moving into learning consonant-vowel sounds.
So even though we haven't seen any instant earth moving changes, I am happy with the results of the Feingold diet thus far. I am now in the process of adding back specific items into their diet to pinpoint what items they are sensitive to. This will be a long process. I am starting with things that are inconvenient and/or expensive to purchase and then I will try some things that I know they miss.
Last week I forgot to write my weekly dose of amusement. So here it is this week.
I caught Blake being a little rough with Emery and I asked him what he was doing. He said he was trying to make her play with him. The conversation continued:
Me: "it doesn't look like she wants to play".
Blake: "she lied. she told me she would play with me."
Me: "she lied? what exactly did she say?"
Blake: "she said..... (instant realization that his sister doesn't talk).... uh uh, never mind mom."
Ha ha. Kids are too funny! Have a good week!