So you have a picky eater! What to do, what to do….

If you read our story in the About page you will understand how hard it was to get food into my little guy since we started him on solid foods when he was 6 months old.  Our challenges began after we started swimming lessons with him.  During a wellness check up with our pediatrician, she suspected he had an ear infections.  Just from her suspicion she prescribed 2 rounds of the antibiotic Augmentin in the course of a month.  She told me it was really in my son’s best interest because it was going to keep him comfortable since ear infections can be so painful.  Well, my son didn’t react too well to that antibiotic and comfort was the last thing we saw.  I reported that to the nurse, but she told me extreme watery diarrhea, blistery diaper rash and a full body rash were common reactions and proceeded to instruct me to finish medicating him as prescribed, which of course I did.  After those two rounds meal time was just short of a nightmare.

He was almost 7 months old at that time.  It would take several hours to attempt feeding this kid.  So back we went to the pediatrician (she wasn’t available, so we spoked to a different one).  She told me it would be ok for our son to breast feed solely until he was 1 year old as long as he was growing and gaining weight which he was.  I relaxed and didn’t try to introduce any more food until he turned 1.  His watery diarrhea had subsided and we were back to normal.  My “super star” pediatrician then told me to start introducing cow’s milk (and in milk I say, “dead milk”, because organic ultra pasteurized milk is dead food for those that don’t know) and a high-fiber low fat diet.  Chronic diarrhea took place and sensory issues started.  Little did I know that my son was allergic to milk and his gut was in serious trouble.  Little did I know that the brain thrives on a fat-rich low carbohydrate diet.  I mean, breast milk contains 54% saturated fat.  How can a low fat diet be good for my kid?  The things I wish I knew and I didn’t…  The high fiber diet only made things worse.  I remember my son shaking his head “no” during feeding time, a skill he later lost to Autism.  He could neither digest nor tolerate any of the foods I was basically “pushing down his throat”.  But he had to eat something, right?  So I stuck with the “dead” milk, sugary yogurt (from Organic Valley) and Gold fish crackers.  I was pregnant at the time and there was no breast milk left.  His only source of fairly good nutrition was gone.  Eventually those “foods”(if you can call it that) were the only foods he would accept.

It was at that time that my child started to disconnect, having all kinds of sensory problems the pediatrician couldn’t explain.  I think at that point I just gave up.  People kept telling me eventually he would eat.  The pediatrician didn’t really see any reason for concern.  A few months later I was searching for “speech delay” online and Autism came up.  A month later we got his diagnosis and I finally started “waking up”.  It is sad it took such a drastic wake up call for me to realize I was sort of poisoning my own child.  We stopped seeing pediatrician and went to an allergist.  He tested my child for 90 foods and he was allergic to most of them.  The interesting thing was that this little boy was full of energy, growing normally, with beautiful eyes and beautiful skin.  Besides his chronic diarrhea an the obvious speech delay nobody really suspected he was malnourished, vitamin and mineral deficient.  He never got sick because his immune system got to a state that it had no energy to fight anymore.

A lot of parents that receive an Autism, ADD, ADHD or Sensory Processing Disorder diagnosis for their kids have no idea that their children’s bodies are suffering.  This is because mainstream medicine sees those diagnosis as a mental health problem.  They see the body as compartmentalized and only treat the symptoms instead of the body as a whole.  Most of the time these parents are sent to a neurologist that prescribes behavior therapy and medication, never once asking about diet or digestive problems that are so common in these kids.  Sadly most of these kids don’t get the healing their bodies so desperately need because the medical community decides they are disabled and behavior therapy and drugs is the best that can be done for them.  I have been extremely blessed to have found so many knowledgeable mothers that have walked the same path I have.  From my experience I can say that a fellow mom can tell you what is wrong with my child and how to help him faster than 99% of the doctors out there!

But why am I even writing all this?  To say that food has been my child’s medicine.  He has been an extremely difficult picky eater since he was 6 months old.  And for some time I had the “my child had to eat something” mentality.  Thinking back I wish somebody had asked me this question: “So, if there was no other choice of food and there was a bottle of poison in your kitchen, would you feed it to your kid?”  Probably not.  But that is what I was basically doing: feeding my “poison” disguised as food.  I had to take out the junk food off our diet all at once not being sure what we were going to eat.  There was no other option for us.  I had conviction that the food he was being given was poisoning him.  I remember that first day I spent 6 hours at the grocery store just to realize there was not much there I could feed him.  I left exhausted and in tears.  But I persisted trying different things, changing his diet a million times, starting over a million times.  I read every food label and several different books about diet and nutrition.  We brought our own food to birthday parties, family dinners, the park, school…  Most people thought I was overreacting.  But I knew that was what was necessary to help his body get to a better place.

Food therapy was not going to cut it for his sensory issues and food aversion.  I realized very quickly food therapists usually know very little about nutrition and what is going on with these kids’ bodies.  Their goal is to get kids to eat something (no matter what it is) to produce “results”.  It took sometime but eventually I subscribed to that life style.  I have to confess that people have looked at me funny, or judge me as extreme.  Sometimes I catch a look of pity toward my kids.  Maybe because he can’t have the regular food served at most social gatherings or restaurants.  I find that particularly interesting, especially when studies show that for the first time in history our children’s generation is going to live less than our own generation.  What about the record rates of obesity, diabetes, cancer, auto-immune diseases, Autism, ADD, ADHD, Chronic Fatigue, Alzheimer (just to name a few…)?  Could the food most of us eat be part of the problem?  Absolutely!

But the good news is, there is a task force of moms out there that are not standing for that.  They are going above and beyond to heal their kids bodies by sharing their stories and supporting other moms.  A lot of the time they are viewed as extreme, obsessive and even conspiracy theorists.  But the truth is, they will do anything to protect their children from the harm our life style and our environment has posed to our kids.  I have learned a lot and continue to lean from these moms.  They give me so much strength and courage to keep going.  I finally say my son is no longer a picky eater!  No longer experiencing gag reflex or sensory issues to the simplest things, like the spoon we tried to feed him with.

We started the GAPS diet a little over a year ago and I witnessed him accepting foods I would never dream he would want to eat or even ask for.  Foods like, vegetables, fruit, eggs and even beef liver!  Who would have ever thought that day would come so quickly?!  Not me.  I mean, it took me 3 years to have the courage to tell him “Buddy, this is what you are eating and if you don’t eat it now, it will come back later!” Really, all it took was faith and conviction that my child would not starve himself and that his body knows what good food is once it is introduced to him.  It took hours of cooking, a lot of persistence, a lot of bribery, sweat and tears.  In the end has all been worth it!  I read once the following quote “We would die for our children but we won’t cook for them.”  I didn’t use to be a fan of cooking at that time, but when those words really got me going.  They are so true in this day and age when fast food and convenience rules because we all work hard and sometimes 24 hours in a day just doesn’t seem enough.   I learned that although eating a clean diet is not easy, it’s is really very simple;  All we need to know is how to read, believe we know what is best for our child, and have the courage to deliver!  Yeah, it has been a little more work than going to a restaurant or popping something in a microwave, but my kid’s healing has been worth every minute and every penny.  And who would have though?  I found my passion for cooking in the process!

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