An unexpected and welcome surprise

by Katrina - The Organised Housewife

This is a guest post by Amy, from The Parent Patch

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

no-preservatives-4803My 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.


IMG_4039About 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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Life Living January 16, 2014 - 7:39 AM

We have made similar changes to our childrens diet and I agree the difference in their behaviour is amazing. I cannot believe they are the same children. Simply the best thing we ever did. Certainly a big and sometimes overwhelming change, but worth every difficulty. Thanks for sharing this story. xx

Nay January 16, 2014 - 7:58 AM

Have you tried A2 milk. It has the old protein rather than the now common A1. It made a world if difference to our boy with ASD. There something to be said for unprocessed food.

Sally Lane January 16, 2014 - 8:07 AM

Wow, I have just recently started thinking about food” being the cause of so many problems in kids. These days kids each so much prepackaged and processed food that there must be a link between that and all of the behaviour problems that occur these days. Well done on taking the leap!!

26 Years & Counting January 16, 2014 - 10:52 AM

I don’t like ‘diets’ and fads – food should just be eaten as closely as it come out of the ground (or off a tree, or off an animal) and that’s pretty much my philosophy on food. And it makes a HUGE difference – my husband has had many medical misdiagnosis’ in the past few years and most things are gone just by eating real food – and I never knew we ate ‘bad’ to begin with.

Joy January 16, 2014 - 11:23 AM

My three children have food allergies that are extensive and we always say ‘if you cannot pronounce the ingredient… then you cannot eat the product’ you would be horrified by what is in some products that appear good for you… things like how come when I cut an apple it goes brown and yet the bags of apples at McDonalds do not go brown……. they don’t add anything to the apple they spray the inside of the bag…. it is a horrific mine field of yucky stuff and chemicals for so much food these days …..

Fiona Jenkins January 17, 2014 - 8:31 AM

Interesting read ..I’m sure there HAS to be a link between the amount of preservatives/additives/colours in prepackaged foods & behaviour or medical conditions in kids.

I still remember an assay I did many years ago when working for AgResearch with field crickets & orange ‘food’ dyes used in foods, snacks & packaged meals.

Depending on the dose of dye in the coating on the maize kernel, they either ‘twitched’ themselves to death or refused to eat until they starved & died.
My girls weren’t allowed anything ‘orange’ (Rashuns, burger rings, twisties) for many many years after that!

Katie January 19, 2014 - 9:26 PM

Hi Kat. I certainly wouldn’t disagree a diet low in preservatives is healthier than one full of preservatives, and I’m really glad this family has had such success with eliminating them. However I am wondering: should an article like this come with a disclaimer? I’m not clear if the author has any training in nutrition and as such sweeping statement about avoiding gluten and dairy or dietary changes fixing medical problems is getting a bit close to medical advice from someone who shouldn’t be dispensing it. Otherwise I love your blog!


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