Trials and Eliminations

February 24, 2011

Seeing as I get so many questions from other ADHD parents about food allergies and sensitivities, it seems like a good time to share what I have learned so far on this issue.

So many parents are now having to ask themselves some difficult questions when it comes to feeding their children. Food allergies and sensitivities are becoming more prevalent than ever…or are they? The debate rages on about whether food allergies and sensitivities are becoming more common or whether we are simply armed with more information now to recognize that our children’s symptoms are affected by what they eat.

This is not a debate I wish to enter into. What I do know is that within J’s family and mine, there are many factors that increase the chances of Baby Q having food allergies and sensitivities like his big brother D.

It is an incredibly difficult situation when a small child is sick and you need to suspect foods that you have carefully chosen for their vibrant colours and nutritional value. Suddenly the comforting cup of milk your 4-year-old is drinking could be the culprit in your baby’s recurrent ear infections. The delicious whole grains that you chose for your little one may in fact be causing their immature guts great discomfort. It’s all very overwhelming and most parents feel like they no longer know what to feed their children.

I have been there and I am still there. Nearly 9 years ago, I changed D’s diet based on MANY MONTHS of trials and eliminations and now I have a baby that I hope to protect from a similar fate.

With D, I eliminated nearly everything except rice and then slowly and carefully reintroduced the different foods, while watching for symptoms of a Type I, Type II or Type III allergy. I also watched for signs of suspected sensitivities to extras like colourings and additives. It was a LONG and difficult road and we were both exhausted (and hungry) by the time it was over.

In the end, D and I switched to a dairy-free diet consisting of only natural foods and basic recipes. And though I believed that we were eating a healthy diet before this all happened, this new lifestyle was drastically different from the traditional North American diet.

No food pyramids here and I wasn’t giving D any big glasses of milk to accompany his cheese sandwiches, like the moms in the commercials were. Actually, I frequently had to answer questions about why the kids in the commercials got to drink milk all the time or why they got cheese on their broccoli and he didn’t. I still have to answer these questions when talking to parents, teachers or D’s friends because they don’t understand why I feel the way I do, when society tells them I am wrong. I’ve grown accustomed to the reactions and cynicism and I don’t let it get to me anymore.

I felt so alone and depressed back then, trying to manage the situation without any support from my family (whose notions of parenting were simple – “If it didn’t kill you, it won’t kill your kid either”). Can’t argue with that flawless logic, now can I? Even our doctors were sceptical (ok that’s generous) of what I was trying, until they witnessed the results for themselves. Then I had their attention but they still had very little data and resources to recommend to me. I had to spend hours searching databases, libraries and websites to find what I needed. Then I had to cross reference the information I had found to ensure I was making the best possible decisions, backed with the best science available. I wouldn’t wish that experience on my least favorite person. It was, and still is, exhausting.

Even after we removed the culprits from our diet and earned the support of our doctors, it was no easy road from there. I had little to work with in terms of substitutes. The little that was out there was expensive, only available in health food stores and often tasted questionable. So I started reading labels, buying fresh foods, going to the local markets and just avoiding anything in a can or box. It worked but left us with little to choose from if we got bored.

It ALL paid off in the end. The recurring ear infections and bouts of tonsillitis and strep stopped. The colds and sinus infections stopped. His asthma attacks significantly decreased and became manageable without medication. His stomach upsets stopped. More importantly though, his behavior improved significantly within 3-4 weeks and consistently over time. It made the many bowls of rice worth it.

I am happy to say that we’ve come a long way since then and there are much better resources, more support and better alternatives to ensure we can still prepare and enjoy delicious foods at home and when we’re out.

This is great news for parents facing this issue today.

Our little guy, Baby Q, is nearly a year old now and still on a very restrictive diet, closely based on what Canadian expert Dr. Joneja’s suggests (see resources below). We have successfully avoided dairy, gluten, egg, nuts, citrus, all berries (except blueberries), spinach, tomatoes, etc. Slowly and over time, we will continue to introduce new foods and we will carefully monitor any possible reactions. With any luck, we can prevent many of these allergies from occurring. Regardless, we are better prepared to deal with whatever comes our way. I hope the same will be true for any parent out there, whether their child has ADHD or not, because there are options and we do have choices.

To help you get started on your quest for information, I wanted to share a few resources that have helped me with Baby Q’s diet this past year. So if you have a baby and want to prevent sensitizing your child to allergy inducing foods (and you can!), the resource below may be helpful for you too.

Introducing Solids to Your Baby

If you already suspect an allergy, the resource below may be helpful in understanding the different types of testing and their accuracy.

Diagnosis of Food Allergy

If you would like more information, I would  highly recommend picking up a copy of Dr. Joneja’s book, Dealing with Allergies in Babies and Children. I found this book TREMENDOUSLY helpful when planning for our second child’s introduction to solid foods. It allowed me to not only recognize the foods to avoid but also to understand the science behind each decision I was making.

PS – Want to learn more about the author and why she cares so much about this work?

Read Her Story

Good luck to all the loving parents out there dealing with this stuff everyday! You are not alone. 🙂


The Naughty Step

October 16, 2010

For those of you with young children (with or without ADHD), you know that discipline can be a challenge. However, there are some techniques out there that can help.

One that worked for me when D was little was ‘The Naughty Step’. This technique has been seen by many on the popular parenting show ‘Supernanny’, where Nanny Jo Frost teaches it to parents struggling with children who have been lacking the necessary discipline.

There are also variations on the theme such as ‘The Naughty Stool’ and my personal favorite ‘The Naughty Mat’ – for those who like to discipline on the go. 😉

Watch the clip below to see Nanny Frost explain how this technique should be implemented.

You can find out more about Supernanny’s technique by clicking HERE.

Fear not, your little ones may test you to see how serious you are about this new approach. Just keep at it though and you’ll see results. Like any technique, the key to success is consistency.

Though it may be tough now, your children will thank you for it later. Ok, MUCH later. Maybe… 😛

If you have a tenacious child between the ages of 2-12, this book might be just what you’ve been looking for. I used it years ago during the “terrible twos/meltdown mania” stage and loved it!

It isn’t only for children with ADHD either. It is full of insightful information to help any parent establish a little structure and discipline. Not every idea is going to work for every child, so I was grateful that this book had lots of options. 🙂

Having used the book successfully, my advice would be to read it cover to cover before you start implementing any of the strategies and techniques. You’ll need to be ready for the possible push back if you have a very determined and clever child. They can change tactics very quickly and you’ll need to stand your ground and be consistent, so that they can understand the boundaries you are putting in place to keep them safe, healthy and happy.

It also helps if the child has the same boundaries, regardless of where they are or who they’re with. You may want to enlist the help of those closest to the child and talk with them about any possible changes you would like to make and your expectations. That way, regardless of whether they are with mom, dad, grandma, granddad or their childcare provider, they’ll feel safe and secure knowing what is expected of them at all times.

In an ideal world, parents would talk about these things together and implement them as a team. However, we know that this isn’t always the case, so just do your best to present this new strategy and new materials as a positive and healthy step towards teaching your child right from wrong. Hopefully, family members will come around once they see the results.

It’s always good to be open to the ideas of others and often family can be a wonderful resource. However you also need to trust in your ability as a parent and know that YOU know your child best. As long as you are acting responsibly and in a way that encourages, supports and nurtures your child’s development, you should stay positive and move forward. Keep trying things until you find what works.

Even if you are struggling with the issue of discipline on your own, this book will still empower you with the tips and tools you’ll need to affect positive changes in your home.

Good luck! 🙂

I still remember exactly how I felt, nearly 9 years ago, sitting in the psychologist’s office after she told me that my son had ADHD. I was afraid and relieved, all at the same time. I finally had a name and a diagnosis that made sense and that I could sink my teeth into, but I was terrified of what was to come. I needed more information and answers to my questions. I needed a place to start and resources that were supportive and encouraging to read. I needed someone who had been through it all and would understand.

I didn’t really have anyone like that then and I know there are still many people out there who are dealing with this diagnosis alone. It can be overwhelming at the best of times and you’re going to need a strong support system in place to help you be at your best as a parent, so that the sweet little person who tugs at your heartstrings everyday gets the support and love they need to thrive.

Though my family didn’t understand D’s diagnosis (and still may not quite frankly), I was able to find the information and answers I needed, from someone who understood. Instead of sitting down over to coffee to talk about things though, I curled up in bed every night and found the answers I needed to get started, within the pages of some great books.

The books I curled up with in those early days are the same books I refer back to whenever I need to shift my thinking or reflect on what’s working and what isn’t. Driven to Distraction and Delivered from Distraction were my ‘bibles’ 9 years ago and they remain the top books I recommend to others learning to manage ADHD in their family. I used to lend them out, but they were SO good, I rarely ever got them back. 😛 In the last few years, we have also purchased Superparenting for ADD, which we love!

(Editor’s Note: There are many other authors and resources I have since discovered and LOVE! I’ll be sharing some of my favorites over the next few months, so stay tuned.)

The link below will take you to Dr. Hallowell’s website, to a favorite section of mine, where you can find a message to parents who are looking for a place to start their search for information and empowerment. Dr. Hallowell’s website has a variety of resources to help you or someone you love with ADHD. His website (like his books) is exceptional – supportive and uplifting, with strategies and techniques to improve your whole family’s experience with ADHD.

Help! I Just Found Out My Child Has ADHD!

Good luck with your next steps! 🙂 Remember you are not alone.

It’s Tuesday and as promised, I am sharing another tip that works for me. 🙂

About a month ago, I popped into my local library and signed up for a free membership. I figured at the time that I would be using my new library card to borrow books/DVDs/CDs for Baby Q and D. I had also hoped that on rainy days, we would enjoy participating in their children’s programming. Who doesn’t love a puppet show now and then, right?

Despite my love affair with reading and the fact that I am in two book clubs, it had never occurred to me to visit the library to find what I was looking for. After all, what parent has the time to browse the bookshelves in their library, hoping to discover a resource they would find helpful? Who wants to have to keep checking to see if the book they want has been returned? And who has the energy to drive an hour out of town, with two kids in the backseat, to pick up the ONE remaining copy of Oprah’s book club pick of the month?

A fellow Mommy and friend overheard me asking these questions at a playdate a few weeks ago and set me straight. (Turns out I am not the first person to have realized that these inconveniences deter us all from the full benefits our libraries have to offer.) A lot has changed since I was a nerdy little girl waiting for the mobile library to come to town. (I’m not nearly as old as that statement just made me sound, I swear.) 🙂

Many libraries (including mine) are now branching out and offering the option to browse their online catalogues from your home computer as well as downloading digital media as a way to make resources more accessible. (Digital media includes content you can download onto your MP3 players, smart phones and computers and can be either reading material formatted for these devices or audio files you can listen to.) I have an iPod Touch, so this seemed like an excellent option for me to explore further.

Before I could get started, I had to download a few small software programs for my iPod Touch and laptop. The library’s site told me exactly what I needed to do and it was all free. It did take a little time the first night I decided to investigate this new way of ‘going’ to the library, but most of that time was spent browsing the many books I wanted to add to my wish list. It really is a geek’s paradise on there…and I am fully qualified to say so. 😀

And have I mentioned the holds? Oh, the convenience! Let’s say you get browsing and find that the library only has 1 copy of your favorite ADHD resource – ‘Driven to Distraction’ by Edward Hallowell, M.D. – and it’s checked out at the moment. Before sighing loudly and thinking how unfair the universe is (it’s ok, I’ve been there on a bad day), remember you can place a hold on the book and choose a library for it to be delivered to when it becomes available. A few days (or weeks) later, you’ll get a call from the library saying it is ready to be picked up. Easy, right?

This also works wonders if your child is having a bouncing-off-the-walls kind of day. Turn on your computer, get a cup of coffee and start browsing from the comfort of your home for whatever will bring you or your little ones some reading pleasure.

I am still learning how to navigate the online services, but I must admit that so far I am impressed! Using the library to find resources and research ADD/ADHD has allowed me to save money while checking out resources before deciding whether to buy  a copy for my ADHD bookshelf. It has also allowed me to find a few great summer reads to help me unwind after some tense and tiring days in the parenting trenches.

Will you try it? 🙂

This message was not paid for or brought to you by the libraries. 😛

It’s Tip Tuesday! 🙂

For those of you on a dairy-free diet, you may often wonder how much calcium you need and where you can find sources of calcium in foods other than milk products. I know it’s been a concern for me, ever since I started D on a dairy-free diet 8 years ago.

So when I came across this resource online, I found it helpful and wanted to share. Please check out the links below for more information from the original source,

How Much Calcium Do I Really Need?

Dairy-free Calcium Chart

Do you have any tips, tools or resources to share? Send them to me at or post them as a comment below.

Research. If you or someone you love has ADD/ADHD, you’re going to want to find out more about the condition and what options there are for treatment.

Your doctor is a great place to start, but no doctor has the time required to walk you through every possible study, cause, treatment option, challenge and strength of this condition. There are just too many possibilities and too much information to sift through. You are going to have to take the bull by the horns and inform yourself! You can do it!

Whether you’re looking for more info for yourself or for someone else, a great place to start your search is Google. (It may even have been how you found this blog.) Now, I know what you’re thinking. “Really? Google?! That’s your big insightful tip of the week?!”

Many of you are very familiar with this tool and will be annoyed that I decided to choose it as a topic. Deal with it. It’s my blog. 😛

Seriously though, many of you use this tool everyday and still couldn’t tell me what site you were looking at when you read that really depressing and unhelpful tidbit of parenting advice you felt it necessary to pass on earlier. And yet, you quote it to me as though it were gospel. Interesting, non?

To use Google effectively, you need to do more than just type the word correctly and click on the first three search results. What I am suggesting is a little more work, but will likely give you better results.

S’s Google Tips:

  • Hitting ‘Google gold’ (AKA: relevant information from credible sources) may take anywhere from 3-10 searches. Be patient and pay attention to words that keep popping up in your search results. (This is how I stumbled across a connection between ADHD and food allergies nearly 10 years ago. I kept seeing words like allergies, sensitivities, milk, etc. So on my third or fourth search I tried combining ‘allergies+ADHD’ and what came up in my search results was the start of my journey exploring the effects of diet and exercise on a child with ADHD.
  • A typical Google result has a title at the top, an excerpt of the page’s text in the middle and the website address at the bottom. Many of the titles will look and sound the same but will have vastly different content on them. Everything from pharmaceutical propaganda and mommy blogs to news stories and celebrity gossip magazines may come up when you search for ADD/ADHD information.

Case in point: A few weeks ago I was looking up medications to see what side effects to watch out for and which ones came highly recommended by moms and I searched among others for Adderall information. I had everything from online pharmacies to Wikipedia definitions to pictures of Lindsay Lohan and Paris Hilton pop up. None of which I found helpful. It was like search spam.

That’s why the website address can be a huge help in distinguishing which of these sites you may want to visit. I would prefer to collect my information from government health websites or credible medical establishments like the Mayo Clinic or the Hallowell Centers, then I would from an online pharmacy or celebrity gossip website.

  • Cross reference! I can’t say this enough. Read lots of information from different sources. Look for patterns or trends. Ask yourself good questions. Challenge yourself to read the thoughts and ideas of those you disagree with. (Think medication is evil? Read message boards from moms who have tried it.) Think the link between diet and ADHD is just a way to avoid dealing with the real problem? Read more on the subject to understand the science behind it. It may not change your mind, but it may help you to understand the choices you have and the choices others have made. It may give you food for thought for later in your child’s life when you need a new idea or change of pace. Ideas are power. Store as many as you can for later.

Hope this tip helps you find good quality information on the internet. Good luck on your future searches. 🙂

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