Something was very different about this afternoon. For the first time I was able to sit back and just watch as my daughter jumped happily and carefree on the trampoline with her brother without the stress that would normally be associated with this activity at our house.
Today she was happier than I’ve ever seen her. Yet just a few short years ago, I could never have believed that this would be the case. My daughter has an autoimmune condition that affects the joints in her body and her ankles are the biggest concern so you can imagine why jumping on a trampoline in the past has been cause for much anxiety!
We spent the first few years taking a traditional medical approach to her treatment but as time went on, I began to see things differently. I became convinced that her medical team were only one small piece of a very complicated puzzle and found myself researching alternatives to conventional treatment plans. Diet was the recurring theme.
With some help from a few key professionals, we came up with a plan:
- No ‘numbers’ meaning no preservatives, artificial colours or flavours
- Dairy only in the form of goats milk or goats cheese
- No gluten
- A good probiotic
My initial reaction to these changes was overwhelming. I couldn’t even begin to know how I was going to get my fussy and particular three and half year old to try new things, eliminate old favourites and throw out almost everything in my pantry but with an honest conversation about good foods and bad foods, my daughter slowly embraced these changes with minimal protest. The whole family went along with the change and every time she asked for a treat, I simply explained that we no longer ate these foods and offered a better alternative.
Making the adjustment to her diet was primarily to help her autoimmune condition but I wasn’t prepared for the transformation that followed. Not only was I seeing recovery in her ankles but also indescribable improvement in her behaviour. This came as an unexpected and welcome surprise.
As the days passed, I watched as my daughter began to thrive and develop into a delightful young person. My impulsive and unpredictable daughter became calm and relaxed, she had incredible amounts of energy, she slept better and no longer had bad dreams, her appetite increased steadily until what she would normally eat in a day was consumed by morning tea and best of all, she became incredibly affectionate and thankful to us for the changes that we had implemented. Instead of complaining about the differences she started to ask ‘is this food good or bad for me?’
Furthermore, as the whole family began eating differently, my two year old son who was still waking numerous times during the night for milk started sleeping through and greeting the morning happy and rested. We were also having trouble with his hitting and pushing which has all but stopped after making the dietary change. Within six short weeks, my children were almost unrecognizable and everyone who knew them could not help but comment on the noticeable differences.
The changes that our family has made are quite dramatic and specific to our own story but if you are having trouble with your children’s behaviour and all traditional methods of behaviour management aren’t working, it is possible that diet might be the key to unlocking the answers. Rather than dealing with the symptoms of behaviour, try to determine the cause and eliminate it. Simply starting small by taking away ‘numbers’ can have effective and lasting results. Had I not trusted my instinct and sought other viewpoints I would not have had the pleasure of getting to know this new even-tempered version of my children that I didn’t realise I was missing.
I am no expert on diet but what I can say is that the unexpected improvement in my children’s behaviour is substantial. I never considered my children naughty but I also never realised just how much their diets were affecting their temperament.
The moral of this story is to never underestimate the way in which diet can effect all of us. If you feel you need to seek alternative options then do so as you have nothing to lose and everything to gain.
About Amy Dyer
An enlightening account of motherhood from the perspective of a teacher. Amy provides practical resources and advice to everyday parents who are looking for simple, actionable ideas and strategies to manage young children.
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