31 May 2010

Can ADHD be cured with a smoothie?

Many years ago I used to coach a Jr. select volleyball team. I remember one girl being a very talented player, when she wanted to be. She would show up to practice some days with her “game face” on and yet other days it would be all I could do simply to get her to pay attention long enough for me to explain the next drill. One day while sitting and eating between games during an all day tournament her mother mentioned to me that this little girl couldn’t tolerate red food dye. Having suffered from food allergies myself I assumed she meant she had a physical reaction to an allergen. No. To quote her mother “Kristen goes all ADD on me if she even has the tiniest bit of red food dye.” I’m quite certain my confusion was plastered on my face.

At this point in my young life (I was in my early twenties) I had not heard anything about food dyes effecting behavior. I was still a firm believer in the Standard American Diet and was fad dieting with the best of ‘em. I took this mother’s word for it and began to watch Kristen a little more closely. Having been diagnosed with ADD in college and gone on Ritalin (and subsequently asked, frequently, “are you medicated today?”), I was careful not to point out to Kristen when she was not her usual focused self, but I did take note.

I haven’t thought about Kristen in a long time. In my nutrition research lately, I’ve stumbled upon several articles detailing the belief that food additives, preservatives and the lack of omega 3 fats can significantly alter the behavior of our children. I found it interesting but still, never gave it much thought.

Fast forward to this weekend. My littlest guy took a tumble Saturday afternoon & ended up breaking his arm. He’s fine, but it was quite a stressful weekend for Mommy. Even as it was happening, I recognized my regression immediately. I reached for the junk food. I knew what was happening and I was still powerless over my old habits. On the way home from the ER we stopped at a major box store so my little guy could pick out a few new videos. Pulling into our driveway, we had not only new videos but a box of ice cream treats and a bag of Doritoes as well. We’d called to order pizza on the way home and the kids and I basically buried ourselves in the S.A.D for the weekend. I kept up with my smoothies, but it didn’t really help my tummy (or my cloudy brain) feel any better. I kept telling myself I was too stressed out to cook. The kitchen was a mess and I didn’t want to take any snuggle time away from the boys in order to tidy it up enough to fix a proper meal. I had all kinds of excuses, but the truth was I didn’t really need them. I didn’t even believe them. I knew what was happening. While the habits are still strong, I can happily report that they aren’t nearly as strong as they once were. I may have bought all of that junk food, but we didn’t even put a dent in most of it, at least not to the extent that we would have last year at this time. It’s the little successes that add up, ya know?

By Sunday afternoon I began to notice that my oldest son was extra fidgety, his focus was off and he was an emotional wreck. Some of this can be attributed to his sensitive nature and he was truly, from the bottom of his heart, worried about his little brother. But I know. I know it’s the S.A.D diet he ate this weekend (S.A.D is such an appropriate acronym, isn’t it?). I could see it in his eyes. I saw the look of frustration when I had to correct his behavior for the umpteenth time. I could feel the desperation in his heart when he was trying, oh so very hard, to control his emotions when he didn’t get to play the Wii game of his choice. I could see the hurt on his face when I lost my patience with him (also attributed to the SAD diet).

I remembered Kristen and how she struggled some days and how everything seemed to flow so effortlessly on others. It made me wonder, with the state of school lunches these days, how many children are walking around with inaccurate labels, misdiagnosis, & needless medications? If we offered our children whole foods instead of the processed edible (?) “food like” substances we’re trying to pass off as food, would a lot of these behavioral problems disappear?

How many children out there came out of the womb, were placed on (processed) formula, graduated to (processed) jarred baby food and then eagerly started on (processed) canned veggies & boxed pasta meals? These kids don't stand a chance. We're setting them up for failure even before they take their first bite. I'm raising one. This diet describes my oldest son. Up until several months ago he ate nearly all processed foods. I can see the difference in him. I'll fight my battles. I'll fix my child. I never want to see that look again. That look that says "I know I'm being bad Mommy, but I don't know why and I can't stop."

28 May 2010

**tap tap** Is this thing on?!?

Oh where oh where do I begin? I did not mean to disappear on you guys. I truly didn’t. I needed a hiatus. I’ve hit rock bottom. I always thought, when reading about others hitting rock bottom, that it’s a single moment, a single event. As it turns out, rock bottom is a bit of an accumulation of things.

I’ve posted before about my history with food. The funny thing about history is that it never stops. Today’s present is tomorrow’s history. My history with food didn’t end when I discovered green smoothies. It didn’t end with the revelations brought on by my first attempt at a green smoothie cleanse. It keeps evolving. It’s adding new chapters daily.

About a month ago I looked around myself and realized that even though I had been consuming my green smoothies my body and my health were still a bit of a mess. I looked deep within and saw that my thoughts were a mess. I looked beyond myself and realized my house was a mess. It wasn’t a big leap before I finally admitted to myself that my life was a mess. I was a mess. It wasn’t a “moment”. It was a feeling that crept up on me, a little bit at a time. I finally realized I had to make some changes.

Don’t get me wrong. I have an amazing life. I’m married to my best friend and we have two wonderful, healthy children. There is food on the table every night and a roof over our heads each morning as the sun awakens us. I didn’t appreciate the blessings in my life. I was taking for granted the wonderful life in front of me. I’ve been selfish.

It’s time to change this pattern. I got off my bum and started cleaning and purging. Oh it feels good to purge! My house is (ever so slowly) looking less like a hazardous waste dump and more like a home. Carrying tangible items out of my house and blessing others with them (or, in some instances, just letting it go and carrying it off to the dump) has such a cleansing effect on the soul. However, it’s not enough. Purging the physical is one thing, but purging the emotional and psychological is a whole ‘nother ball game. I’m a work in progress.

There is one other place that I need to purge, something that scares me. It terrifies me to the core of my soul, but it’s time. I’m in a different place now and I know I’m strong enough. I need to purge some pounds. I’ve sworn off diets for life and I’m not going back on that, but it’s time. I’m ready.

I will not count calories, or fat grams, or points or anything else. I will eat when I’m hungry and what I eat will nourish my body and satisfy my soul. Nothing is off limits, but before every bite, before every food decision I will ask myself a few simple questions “How will I feel (physically) after eating this?” “Does this food provide nutritional value to my body?” There will be no right or wrong answers. If I want to eat something that will make me feel like crap and not add a single nutrient to my body, that is ok. I will not feel guilt. Asking these questions, however, will help me recognize my motivations. Am I eating this because I’m hungry and my body needs fuel? Am I eating this because I’m bored or upset? Am I eating this simply because its in front of me?

For anyone questioning exactly how I plan to eat, I will tell you this: in about six month's time I've switched from a fairly typical Standard American Diet (S.A.D) to a more Weston A. Price type of diet. I've made some big changes, but I still have a lot of work to do. I'll be talking about this more over time.

I’m not even sure if anyone still reads this blog, but I will post my progress, my thoughts, my recipes & maybe even some pictures (oiy!) here. I know this isn’t exactly green smoothie related, but what started as a simple challenge to myself has taken me down an emotional path to a healthier lifestyle. This blog will be my journal. I’m humbled if you chose to follow along with me. I’m elated if you should want to cheer me on and I’m honored if you’d like to join me.

Also, don’t’ forget to become a fan on Facebook, as I plan to start posting quite a bit more frequently there and not everything will make it onto the blog.

02 May 2010

A new smoothie and a new fan

KIDS!! How do you get your kids to eat their veggies? Me? I have them drink them! Since the weather has been starting to turn, we've been making it out to more park days with our local Moms group. I've gotten into the habit of taking pitchers of green smoothies with me. All of my friends are curious about them, but a little hesitant to try them at home. Who can blame them? I'm sure they are thinking, "am I going to even like this?" "will my kids even look at it, much less drink it?" "will I be out all of the money for the ingredients and just end up pouring it down the drain?"
By taking smoothies with me I can show the Moms that drinking them isn't so bad and I can also introduce them to the other kids. Afterall, kids don't always trust their moms when it comes to "something you'll like, just try it" but when they see my kids eagerly drinking it, they want to find out what this amazing treat is!
So this weekend, when I was participating in a multi family yard sale with some friends I decided to take some smoothie with us. Our hostess politely asked if I could make it not so "brownish green" in color (the last one she tried I had used lots of spinach and strawberries which does, unfortunately, produce a less than appealing color!). I set out to make a beautiful pink smoothie. I didn't have all of the ingredients on hand for my Neon Pink Smoothie and I wanted to include some spinach as her middle child, like my oldest, has not voluntarily eaten a vegetable in years. I grabbed what I had on hand and off I went to the yard sale.
  • 1.5 cups Viovi Blood Orange Juice
  • 1/4 of a beet, frozen
  • handful of spinach
  • 2 bananas
  • handful of frozen peaches
  • handful of frozen strawberries

Can I just tell you the reaction from this little boy? He's my new best friend!! At least 15 times he showed up under my elbow and said "Miss Jessica can I have more smoothie?" All. Day. He was so cute about it and I was so excited for him. I left the remainder of the smoothie at his house and the next morning his mother told me that he finished it off for breakfast! I had asked him if I brought a "funky green ~ green like your grass ~ smoothie" would he try it for me? He got a huge smile and YES!! So the next day (it was a two day sale) I made my kids' favorite standby. I pulled into his driveway at 8am and he rode his little firetruck right over to my van and said "did you bring more smoothie?!" I did and this little boy drank nearly all of this one, too! I have a new fan. He's a four year old little boy and those are the best ones!