Monday, October 1, 2012

Tricky treat. How do you do Halloween without artificial dyes??

I LOVE Halloween. It's my second favorite holiday after Christmas. Just ask Maggie's teacher, since she's been in Halloween festive garb every day this month.

But since starting Feingold, Halloween has gotten a little tricky. A little tricky-or-treaty. Ha ha.

How does a mom avoid artificial dyes and flavors during a holiday that seems dedicated to them? 

I'm still a rookie but here are a few tricks. Or treats. Ha ha.

First off, I have to recognize and prepare for the fact that regardless of my efforts, some junk is going to sneak past Ike and he may have a reaction. That's just life. I will have lots of vitamin C and Epsom salt for baths on hand (my de-toxers) and hope he fades into the background at school since most of the other kindergartners will also be bouncing off the walls from their doses of sugar, dye and sleep deprivation. Heck, compared to them, Ike may shine.

What about trick or treat candy?

The fun of Halloween is going door to door and amassing your hoard, not necessarily in the consuming of it. I know that my kids don't care much about candy by November 1 because after it goes on top of the fridge, it is soon ignored by everyone but their increasingly rounder parents. Within a couple of weeks I will have thrown out the lame, daddy-picked-over stuff that's left.

So what to do with the candy from tonight? In our house, I offer to buy it back from them. Last year I went to Whole Foods and spent a small fortune on natural candy. At the end of the evening, I let them have a little of their not-so-bad loot, and then they traded in the rest for a natural alternative.

This year, I told them they could choose that option, trading me for UnReal Candy, new at Target (THANK YOU TARGET), or they could choose $10 to spend on Amazon. All of them but Ike chose Amazon.

What do to about the kids who come to our doors? I wish I could just buy them regular candy and go on with my life, but I just can't. I believe so strongly that artificial dyes and flavors are toxic that I can't serve them to any children, whether I do their laundry or not. 

So tomorrow (yes, Halloween day, because every year, the night before Halloween, I go oh! Shoot! Trick or treaters are coming! What am I gonna give the trick or treaters?!) I am headed to the dollar store to see what I can find to substitute for candy - playdoh, stickers, what not. Throw in some peppermint LifeSavers and we're good to go.

So what about parties? 

We will be going to a neighborhood party tomorrow and I will hover over him like I always do, encouraging him to make healthier choices, and reminding myself it's not the end of the world if he doesn't.

What about classroom parties?

Ike and Maggie are both having parties in their classes tomorrow where they will decorate cookies. I volunteered to bring the icing and the toppings so that I could exert some control of this.

Here are the toppings I'm taking to Ike's room. Not all of these are Feingold approved, but they are all natural. Notice the big bag of natural chocolate chips that  Costco just began carrying. THANK YOU COSTCO. I also found the only Wilton sprinkles that had no food coloring so that the babies can do the sprinkle shake.

I think they'll be okay with these, don't you? Gummy worms, y'all. Nuff said?

For the icing, Maggie's room mom requested white frosting. I wanted to just buy the cans, I really did. But look at what's in plain "white" frosting.

Titatanium dioxide, yellow 5 and red 40 scare me way more than Dracula, Frankenstein and the Wolfman. {shudder}

So I made the icing for Maggie's class at home

by mixing cream cheese and powdered sugar, which is as easy a recipe as you can imagine and tastes like a big fat glob of heaven.  Emphasis on the word fat. It took five minutes and cost about a dollar more than a can of the chemicals - even with organic cream cheese.

I really wanted Ike's to be orange though. Guess what's orange and not made from petroleum products?

I wish you could see this orange frosting, it was just gorgeous.

And no, it did not taste like carrots. These two goblins promise.

That's how we're handling Halloween this year. What about you? Got any more tricks? Or treats? Ha ha.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Questions about the Feingold Diet for ADHD part 2

Aw man! Coal tar for breakfast again?!?

Q: I'm wondering about my own boys and if I should start some special diet for them? How soon after he eats something with the dye, or bad chemicals do you notice the bad behavior? Is it immediate? Does it make a difference in how much he eats? I often find myself thinking it can't really be that small piece of chocolate he had??

A:  I know it is hard to think that just one small piece of candy can affect a child so quickly. Think of it this way: if I drink a glass of wine, especially if I am stressed out or my stomach is empty, I can be tipsy before half the glass is gone. Alcohol is a chemical, and sometimes affects me instantly upon hitting my bloodstream. Dyes and artificial flavorings are chemicals, and they affect some children very quickly. You know how kids get all hyped up at birthday parties and everyone blames the sugar? It ain't the sugar, y'all. It's the red Elmo cake or the blue Thomas cookies or the pink lemonade (have you ever seen a pink lemon? Me neither.)

I read a blog once where the mom had realized that red dye affected her too, because every time she had a strawberry margarita at a restaurant, she ended up aggressive and cranky and inevitably picked a fight with her husband. Another mom's children pointed out to her that the flavored creamer she was treating herself to with her morning coffee made her instantly irritated at them. To a little 30 or 40 pound kid, one little peppermint can equal to one mom's very strong strawberry rita.

The good news is that once we got Ike detoxed, if he eats something now, the effects are there but bearable. At church last week they gave him a blue dumdum and he was fine. Who knows why? Before, that would have made for a hellish few days. It took him a full 36 hours to detox from the pickle incident.

Often when he is being annoying Eva Rose will come to me, hands on her hips, "Ike must have eaten something. He is ON MY NERVES." Usually, he's just got a case of peskybrotheritis.

But a couple of weeks ago, I noticed that Ikey was especially manic. His eyes were wide, he repeated things over and over, flapped his arms almost as though he were stimming, and very hyperactive. I thought, what on earth has he eaten? I couldn't think of any culprit I'd given him?

Our new next door neighbors have boys the same age as my boys so they go back and forth all day.  The next day the mom said to me, "I hope it's okay, Ike was over here yesterday and he said he was hungry, so I gave him a hot dog and some Doritos." AHA!!!! She didn't know it, but she'd served him a double strawberry margarita!

When he does get in some contraband, it seems to wear off now within about 24 hours. Epsom salt baths are a great way to expedite the detox, as well as Vitamin C (speaking of, check your children's vitamins for artificial dyes and flavors. Many have them, an irony that blows me away.)

Q: I'm wondering if you could give some examples of "good food" that might be negatively affecting kids without parents realizing it.

A: Now we come to the most depressing part of the Feingold Diet: salicylates.

Once I learned the nasty truth about artificial dyes, flavors, and preservatives such as TBHQ and BHT and BHA, and read the many many many studies that have proven that they can cause all sorts of behavioral problems in kids, I was sold. Easily. Don't want to give my money to companies who want to poison my babies for a buck.

Salicylates, though, make me very sad.

Salicylates are natural pesticides found in some fruits and vegetables. Read all about them here. For some reason, some people are sensitive to them and they cause the same negative behaviors, sleep issues, asthma, rashes, and learning disorders as petroleum products do.


The good news is that just because your kid reacts to, for instance, the salicylates in grapes, that doesn't mean that the salicylates in apples will phase her. And there are tons of fruits and veggies that are completely safe. For instance, apples are banned, but pears are okay, as are all melons and the staple of every toddler diet: bananas (whew.)

You must eliminate all the the fruits and veggies that Feingold lists in the beginning of the diet. Then, you add one back, and see what happens. I was OVER THE MOON to see that Ike could tolerate cooked tomatoes because I use them in half my recipes and y'all - salsa. But we had some bad reactions to apples, strawberries, and possibly oranges.

I told you this was the sad part of the story.

The good news is, after keeping away from them for months, I have just begun reintroducing berries this summer and he seems to do okay with them. And the other day I gave him an apple - held my breath, and - he was fine. Hallelujah!!

 I just read this on the website: "Salicylate sensitivity can change; frequently a person who avoids them for a year or so can later tolerate moderate amounts of them."  Maybe that's what's going on with him.

Today when I was putting sunscreen on Maggie I noticed a big eczema patch behind her knee. And she's been eating lots of berries lately. Hmmmmmm.

Q: I'm curious if the teacher and school have noticed this difference, and if they've noticed it enough to suggest it to other parents facing the same issues.

A: Yes, they noticed a difference. No, they never believed it was due to his diet change. Amazingly, no. The boy went from getting a bad report every stinking day to being (mostly) NORMAL. And yet, I could tell his teacher thought I was talking some crazy voodoo hippie language. She would never recommend it to other parents and, when I discussed his food with her, she still blamed "the sugar."

I look back now at the kids I used to teach and I know it could have helped them. In PreK I had a super bright kid named Justin, who just couldn't control his impulses. He was spazzy, occasionally aggressive, and would constantly get in trouble for it.

One time Justin called me into the bathroom, saying I had to see his poop! It was blue! Y'all, there in the toilet, was a big bright blue turd. Blue as the blue applesauce in his lunchbox. I used to think this story was funny, but now it just makes me sad.
Q. Do pediatricians and GP doctors ever recommend diet change to parents?

A: No pediatrician I've mentioned it to has acted even mildly interested, even though in 2008 the American Academy of Pediatrics stated that they 'must admit' that food dyes can lead to ADHD, and turns out the mommies actually weren't making it up! What? The moms knew better than the doctors?? Well I declare.

I wonder if my same pediatrician who didn't believe this mommy would prescribe ADD medication to Ike if I wanted her to?

Probably. But if thousands of kids could be helped by simply eating real food, then Big Pharma wouldn't make millions and billions of dollars from drugging them, and that would be just tragic, wouldn't it?

I am not blaming the doctors here, well not entirely. I'm blaming the medical schools that require the bare minimum in nutritional studies when everybody knows that we are what we eat. And I'm blaming the entire medical/pharmaceutical system that is fueled as much by money as it is by science. There is lots of money in drugs. There is very little money in diet change.

Q: How do I get my skeptical husband on board???

A: I suggest tears. And I don't mean it manipulatively. I just know that when you tell your husband how you are so at the end of your rope, you're so frustrated, you're even finding it hard to love your child, every day you feel like a failure as a mother and you lie awake at night wracked with guilt for losing your temper again and worried sick about your baby's future, and there is a possibility that something as simple as removing the FOOD MADE WITH COAL TAR from your diet might help, I know the tears are going to come naturally.

Tell him you'll let him have his Cheetos, he just has to hide them and wait till the kids are in bed. Ask him for three months. Just three months. If y'all have not seen any changes after three months, then fine.

If he'll read it, show him the article above from the AAP or any of the ones on the Feingold page. This isn't junk science, it's been proven. Plus it makes common sense that little brains just don't process coal tar so well. Tell him my wine analogy. Use your Wife Tricks, girlfriend, you know exactly what I'm talkin about. Whatever it takes!

Walker knew I was at my wit's end and he's pretty laid back anyway, he'll eat whatever I make him. But he still buys Gatorade sometimes. ORANGE, PURPLE, or TURQUOISE GATORADE. It irritates the heck out of me. What can I do?

Ike never knew he was even on a diet but Shep and Eva Rose were old enough to know that Things Had Changed. All it took for Eva Rose to become a Junior Feingold Spokeswoman was to show her a few nasty youtubes about processed foods and read her tidbits from the Feingold website.

Recently she and I were alone on a long stretch of I-10 and she was starving and there were no restaurants for miles. I found an old Quaker Oats granola bar in the bottom of a bag and gave it to her. Girl looked at the ingredients, said, "Mom! This has BHT in it! I'm not eating this!" and threw it down in disgust. I was so proud.

Shepherd has been a harder sell. Our biggest problem is cereal. I have yet to find any unorganic cereal he likes that doesn't contain food color or BHT, and the organic cereals have not impressed him. It's a constant whine. My mom's trying not to poison me! Wah!

Today the kids were offered a Starburst and I made them turn it down, but I let them have a Hershey's Kiss. I have to pick my battles.

Any more questions?

Part 1 here

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Questions Part 1

Click here for Part 2

A long time ago when I used to blog, I told you the story of Ike, our rascal of a four year old, who had a severe speech delay, serious defiance issues, and had already been 'perhaps-this-isn't-the-best-environment'-ed at two preschools and then, after (gobs of ) Halloween (candy), had started getting in trouble at his third school.

I told y'all about how, after a Hawaiian Punch binge, we had a moment at Kinko's where seriously, I had to pray not to beat him. He was climbing the furniture. I was mortified and frustrated and at my wit's end. A few times in my parenting career I've had a this-is-how-child-abuse-happens moment; this was probably my biggest.

After the Kinkos Episode, the lightbulb went off that maybe it's the food. I recalled my friend Linsey mentioning something or other about food making her girls crazy with ADD, and how the Feingold Diet had changed their lives. I wasn't sure, I had my doubts plus it seemed too good to be true - but I ordered the materials and we went full on Feingold last December.

So, it's been eight months since we radically changed the way that we eat.

How's the Ikester, you ask?

The short answer:  Great. He's a different kid than he was before we started the Feingold Diet

The long answer: Don't get me wrong, the kid is still a pistol. He has not spouted a unicorn horn and started tooting all naturally colored rainbows. He's still mischievous, strong willed and, um, you know, a little spoiled. But the difference is now Ike responds to discipline.

And I think that was the clue for me that something was wrong with my kid. He was my fourth four year old. I used to get paid to teach four year olds. I have a degree in four year olds! But no discipline I tried worked with this kid, until I changed the way I fed him.

Now, at five and a half, eight months on the diet: his speech has increased dramatically (on target in vocab, still some problems with articulation.) He only tantrums if it's way past bedtime, like all my kids do. He colors in the lines instead of scribbling. He doesn't wet his pants. He makes cool things with Legos. He can play normally with other kids. He's pre-reading and writing on track. He is - hallelujah - ready for kindergarten. 

The other kids have not shown huge improvements, but Shep was having headaches almost daily, and those have turned into rarities. Both Walker and I suffer from migraines so all our kids are kinda toast but Feingold does help prevent migraines. I learned this the hard way when I was at the Created for Care conference and thought "Muhaha! No children around!" and indulged in Cheetos and Doritos for lunch. Within twenty minutes, I had a pounding headache. Hm, which petroleum product might have triggered that? Was it the yellow #5, the yellow #6, the red #40, or the mysterious "artificial flavoring"? Or perhaps the MSG? I don't know, but I refuse to be Frito Lay's science project any more.

Many of you were intrigued and had many questions about the diet, and I still get emails a couple of times a month. So let's get to some of them:

Q: Do you have to order the materials in order to do the Diet?

A: Yeah. Sorry. It is kind of expensive, but when you get desperate, it seems like quite the bargain. Now that we are on the flip side, I consider it the best $80 I ever spent. Feingold also has scholarships and is determined that every child who needs this program should have access to it, so if you need financial aid, email them at fausmem @

When I got the big package of materials in the mail, I realized how much blood sweat and tears went into producing them and I understood the price. They try and research the ingredients of every item in your grocery store, then keep up with the products when they change them. Would you do that job for $80? Pshaw. I wouldn't/couldn't/wouldn't know where to begin.

Feingold is not some wealthy doctor (Dr. Feingold died in 1982) nor corporate conglomerate; it is basically a bunch of moms who saw big changes in their own children and now want to help other moms, and getting the materials to us costs money.

Q: Can you do the Diet without ordering the materials?

A: In order for the program to work, you have to completely detox your child of un-natural foods and some natural foods that cause reactions in some kids, and then re-introduce some foods to see if you see a reaction. You can't detox without the list of approved foods.  You can try and wing it on your own, but you'll never be sure if you eliminated the problem food, which defeats the point, and y'all, seriously, we just don't have time for that. Go big or go home.

Plus when you buy the program you can email the Feingold people whenever you need hand-holding. Which you might need.

Q: Did you do the Diet with just your target child, or the whole family?

A: The whole family. For two reasons.

First, I couldn't handle having food in the house that Ike could not eat, but everyone else could. That just seemed mean. (We can do that a little bit now - I'll get to that later. But not at first.) And I didn't want to risk him finding it and eating it and ruining all my efforts.

Second, y'all, once you find out the crap that is in the food that makes your target child wacko, trust me, you won't want to buy it anymore. I get offended when I walk down the chip aisle at the grocery store. I see it as poison now. I fantasize about sticking Mr. Yuck stickers on every stupid bag.

Q: Is it expensive?

A: Yes and no. At first, I had to throw out or give away a lot of food, because I had a big ole pantry and four kids and Hello, my name is Missy and I'm a food hoarder. So that was painful. But then we had The Horrible Pickle Incident and his behavior backslid so dramatically that I just wanted that crap out out of my house. Now.

The good news is, organic and natural foods have gotten so much more ubiquitous and less expensive that it is doable. My Kroger (oh, I miss Kroger so much) had developed a fantastic selection. Plus I had been making small changes for years, ie skipping the dirty dozen, so a lot did not change, I just became more committed.

In the beginning, it will cost a little more. Be prepared for that. Just remember the adage pay the farmer now or the doctor later. Van's frozen waffles are a little more expensive than Eggos. But ADHD medicine is more expensive than Van's, as are doctor visits, therapy appointments, and the unknown problems our son may have had in the future had he not learned to control his impulses and submit to authority. I shudder to think. I'll pay a dollar more for the Van's, thankyouverymuch. Can you put a price on your child's health or your sanity?

My mindset has changed so much since we started this. If a processed food is really cheap, you know why that is? BECAUSE IT'S NOT FOOD. It's a bunch of chemicals that will never spoil. Real food spoils, and costs money. Chemicals are cheap. And poisonous to little bodies.

The hardest thing in the beginning for me was the bread. We can easily go through a loaf a day and Rudi's organic bread was the only Feingold approved bread that I had access to, at almost five dollars a loaf (insert retching noise.)  Now we have found a cheaper bread that says it has no preservatives or artificial junk and it does not seem to affect him. But in the beginning, you have to do the program 100%. But you can make your own, so dust off the breadmaker, my friend.

If you have a Trader Joe's nearby, you'll be just fine. Say a prayer for the majority of us Texans who don't. Sniff.

Remember, almost anything homemade is going to be fine. You'll be cooking more. You'll lose weight. It's all good.

Q: Can you eat out at restaurants on the Diet?

A: Not in the beginning. In the beginning, Walker and I did some take-out/Netflix dates after the kids were in bed. But we tried to keep them away from restaurants. This was impossible since it was Christmas and birthday season at our house when we started, but we limited it as much as possible.

Our beautiful discovery was that restaurant food does not seem to affect Ike, because hello, it's fresh and homemade. And in your Feingold materials you will get a Fast Food Restaurant Guide.

But in the beginning, no eating out for the first month or so. The money you would have spent on restaurants will go towards groceries. You'll lose weight. It's all good.

Q: from the blog: What do you do about school snacks? Parents provide snacks at his preschool so I wouldn't have control over what is being brought in. Do you just send something special with him?

Ike's school provided snacks too. I made the teachers aware that he was to have no food that wasn't from home and I sent him snack. He was fine with this because there are plenty of good snacks on the Diet. Ike would rather have his special bag of Natural Cheetos over boring ole animal crackers any day. Other approved snacks he liked were Saltines, Fritos, and Annie's cheddar bunnies. Yes, all of those are approved. It's not as hard as you're fearing, I promise.


More questions next time. Please feel free to leave any questions you have in the comments! And remember you can read our whole story at my other blog, Coal Mine Canaries.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Proof in the piano

A friend of mine just sent this email:

"Today is piano day and our teacher comes to our house (with 4 kids, it
works just as well for her). My primary target child always goes first. I
told her about Feingold last week but we weren't really on it yet since I
hadn't received the program yet. (I had just taken out the main offenders.)
She was interested in it for her own family, so I sent her some info and

During the target child's lesson, she stopped at one point and said
'I am just going to cry, you are doing so well.' Then she told me after he
got down that it was like having a new child and if that isn't a testimony
she didn't know what is.

So thankful for Feingold!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

I asked the moms on the Feingold yahoo board about the salicylites, like, do differenat apples make a difference? Can cooked tomatoes be okay but not raw?

Several moms said that Granny Smith apples made them speed dial the exorcist, but other apples were fine. That's encouraging. I am 99% sure that the apples I gave him were Grannies.

Please, Lord, don't take away our apples...

Holy tomato, we're juicing

Because Feingold wasn't complicated enough, my husband and I decided to go on a 10 day juice fast.

You can follow along here:

It's Almost Naptime

boo to salicylites

The two salicylates foods that I have been the most worried about were apples and tomatoes, because those are the ones we eat the most.

Saturday night Ike had a raw tomato at dinner. Sunday he kicked Shep in the face, laughed, and called him stupid.

Yesterday he ate a granny smith apple. Just now he threw a tantrum when I wouldn't let him play my iPhone. A trantrum that was short and distractible, but a tantrum none-the-less.

I'm hoping these are coincidences...further testing will ensue. Also gonna try cooked tomatoes and different kinds of apples see if I see the same effects.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Questions about the Feingold Diet?

Since we began the Feingold Diet, Ike's behavior is so, so different from what it was this time last month. I still have a nervous feeling in my stomach every time I go to pick him up from preschool, afraid that the teacher is going to give me 'the look' and explain how he clobbered another kid or refused to obey her.

But every day I get two little words that make my heart sing: "Good day!"

At home, he is sweeter and more patient. His relationship with his siblings has improved so much, especially with Shepherd. Before he was the bratty baby brother. The other day, Shep said, "Mom! Ike is so funny now! And cute! And fun! I love having a brother!"

Perhaps my favorite part is how well his language has improved. He can express himself so much more than he could. His expressive language is almost normal. The worst part about having a child with a speech delay (I've had two) is that it stunts your relationship. Maybe that is the greatest blessing from Feingold - Ike can talk now, and Shep is right, he is funny!

I've had several emails from friends who are considering doing Feingold. They have lots of questions like, How hard is it? Are you doing the whole family or just one kid? Is it costing you a fortune?

I am wondering if y'all have questions too?

If you do, please leave them in the comments and I will do a Q&A soon.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

God bless the coal mine canaries

I've changed the title of this blog to Coal Mine Canaries.

Okay, random title. Why?

You've probably heard the phrase "a canary in the coal mine," which refers to the practice of sending a canary into a coal mine to see if there were noxious gasses inside. If the canary died, voila, there was your answer.

The clear message was don't follow that bird.

A few years ago, one of my dear friends became very sick. She had been exposed to some mold in an apartment air conditioner, and it caused her system to go totally ballistic. We all desperately prayed for her as she went from being one of the most vibrant people I knew to a fatigued girl who felt like crap all the time. By God's grace, she got better.

She ended up with an extreme chemical sensitivity, and from my friendship with her and her sister, my awareness of all the chemicals in our environment has been increasingly raised over the years. Which is why in our house I buy natural cleaning products, get a headache from my husband's scented deodorant, don't burn candles, and I don't use perfume.

(I'm a little bitter about that one, I confess. I love perfume. But now, I can't bring myself to spray it. I just imagine the chemicals seeping into my cells and I sadly walk out of the bathroom.)

I always said that my friend was a canary in a coal mine. Meaning that, she is exposed to chemicals like PineSol or pesticides on her salad, and she drops like a canary. (Not literally, of course. She doesn't die. But she definitely drops.)

But her body is no different from mine - it's just hypersensitive. Those chemicals are affecting my body too, just not quite as obviously.

For the rest of us, I think the effect is often just as powerful, only much slower. We don't get sick immediately. Instead, one day, we get a brain tumor. Or breast cancer. Or fibromyalgia. Or lupus. Or we can't get pregnant. Or we start menopause at age 35.

My friend is actually one of the more blessed ones - she was forced into a very quick wake up.

My son is a canary.

If I ingest red dye #40, I might get a headache or get crabby, but I won't associate it with that peppermint I grabbed on my way out of Pappasitos. Same for the rest of my kids.

But little four year old, 35 pound Ike has results that are instantaneous. He eats a pickle, he spits, pinches, pushes and hits the other kids at school. He eats a Nutella sandwich, and his language instantly declines and he stares at you blankly when you ask him a question. He swipes some Doritos, and he wets his pants and sobs uncontrollably when his train track won't connect.

Ike is my precious little canary. He's made all of us aware, so aware, of all the junk that I was feeding my family when I thought I was being a healthy mom. He's made it very clear that a tiny bit of poison is far, far too much.

God used Ike to save my family, I'm convinced of it. We may never know the devastating effects he prevented by forcing me to find answers.

The canaries in our lives are our greatest blessings.


Food LIARS! was the byline of the email my sister-in-law Laurel just sent me and I thought it was a good one!

What's in that OJ? Tropicana is sued

It just makes me sad that you can't trust anything you read on a label. I mean, I don't really trust PepsiCo, they've made no attempt to ever put health first.

But what about other food? I hope my organic stuff is really and truly organic, but is it? There is no way  to know.

Let's just all move to a farm and buy some cows and grow our own food!!!!