Nothing is worse than when the kids are home for the holidays and pitching fits for no logical reason, know what I mean? Yesterday was so challenging I poured a glass of wine before bed. The kids were at each other’s throats all day, but worse than that, Zoe was crying over every little thing most of the day. My nerves were on edge and I didn’t know why this sudden regression in behavior was happening – until I found an empty box of gluten, dairy and soy filled cookies.
Great. My daughter had glutened herself.
How to Know If Your Child Has Had a Food Infraction
Anytime you know that it’s possible your child has been around food that she is sensitive to and you see behaviors that you either thought you’d conquered or are out of character, your child may have cheated on her special diet. Here are some things we’ve noticed over the years with our children when that made us suspect dietary infractions:
- crying all the time
- extreme, concentrated aggression
- the return runny stools or diarrhea (with accompanying diaper rash when they were still wearing them)
- inappropriate laughter (or what I call “drunk symptoms”)
- extra stimming (almost nonstop)
Now, it’s important to remember that you’re looking for things that are out of place, excessive and maybe even extreme and have followed a possible food infraction. If you are detoxing your child, you may also see these symptoms. This is why it’s so important to gage your child’s habits and keep a watchful eye on them. You should know when the reaction is from the normal course of detox or is from eating a restricted food item.
NOTE: I am not a medical professional. Please check with your doctor, practitioner or healthcare provider to ensure that you can use supplements or Epsom salt baths, especially if your child is reactive to changes, you have never tried a treatment before or you are on a specific protocol.
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How to Detox Your Child from Holiday Food Cheats
Here are some steps that you can start right now to help you detox your child:
1. Give them a probiotic.
The things we eat the most during the holidays, sugar and yeast, build up bad gut bacteria and knock out the good. That overgrowth of bad bacteria can have a negative impact on everything from healthy stools to proper speech. Probiotics can help restore the balance. There are many to choose from, but I recommend a high quality one brand like Garden of Life – and watch for dairy in them, if you are dairy free! If you are worried about giving your child a probiotic, try using chicken stock made from roasting a whole, organic chicken (bones in). It’s not exactly bone broth, which is cooked from bones & meat over a much longer period of time and can help balance your gut. Bone broth can be too strong for some. (And please, do not substitute bouillon, which will not have the same health impact.)
2. Plan your menus for those weeks to be low in sugar and yeast.
This means, plan for the WHOLE day, not just for the “big” meal or party. Make sure that everything else they are eating that day strictly conforms to the diet they are following AND is low in sugar. Let’s face it, sugar is usually the biggest holiday culprit and bread, grains and other yeast-containing products are a close second. Make something filling for breakfast (pastured organic eggs, gluten free certified plain oatmeal with fruit and cinnamon, etc.), and go very simple for lunch (salad with a protein, peanut butter on pears, etc.)
3. Keep an activated charcoal on hand.
Activated charcoal is what EMT’s give people who have been poisoned or have overdosed on drugs. Activated charcoal helps process the bad stuff out of or your system and has been used to treat GI issues like diarrhea or constipation. While it’s not know to be toxic, it does have a few known side effects. It’s important to keep in mind that activated charcoal is not treated like a regular supplement. Here, I am only recommending it to process out the foods that your child is sensitive to for a short period if you suspect she has been exposed to it. As usual, check with your health practitioner if you feel unsure.
4. Use digestive enzymes.
Digestive enzymes help ease digestion issues and are especially helpful if your child has food sensitivities or conditions that are linked to GI issues and these sensitivities, like autism and ADHD. If you are looking for a specific enzyme that breaks down gluten and/or casein, you’ll need to find one with DPP-IV. Research does support this but do not use these as a substitute for eating gluten, particularly if your child has Celiac disease! As usual, check with your health practitioner if you feel unsure.
5. Epsom salt baths.
Everyone should have a big bag of high quality Epsom salt around the house. We are constantly running out, but nothing detoxes better – even stress goes away so be sure you have enough for yourself. The last time Zoe had a major rash, Chris put her in an Epsom salt bath. This made her rash spread to her entire body, but in between freaking out, I called my homeopath. She explained that the salt was drawing out the toxins from her reaction and to give it a few more hours. Sure enough, within an hour of that call, the rash receded and didn’t flare up again – even to previous levels – the whole night. By morning, she was perfectly fine.
One word on consulting with your health practitioner. Not every pediatrician is up to snuff on the nutrition and good gut health. I personally believe that gut health is at the root of many behaviors and disabilities, which is why we use practitioners that understand that and support our children’s gut health. Here are my tips on how to choose a doctor you can trust to support your child.
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