I was already on my pathway to becoming a dietitian when my 6 year old daughter at the time began to exhibit a variety of symptoms , including motor tics (involuntary movements such as body jolts, eye blinking and leg stretching), vocal tics (throat clearing), erratic behaviour, strange 'habits' and she was very oppositional. Looking back to the early years there were already signs such as severe colic as a breastfed infant, problems sleeping (difficulty winding down), highly emotional outbursts, days of intense hyperactivity where she looked like she'd taken some serious party drugs, to days of anger, aggression and reclusion, clearly evident by her suddenly pale skin and dark circles around her eyes. Our beautiful little girl suddenly had no control over her body and was also suffering from anxiety.
I searched the internet desperately trying to find a solution. We tried a sugar free diet, but there was minimal improvement, the candida diet, controversially dangerous, and then I discovered SUE DENGATE and the RPAH Elimination Diet which explained how intolerances to food and environmental chemicals can have an effect, especially on the hypersensitive child. This made sense as our children have always been hypersensitive to the temperature (if I was cold, they would be freezing, or if I was hot, they would be boiling), smell (my daughter would be aware of her surroundings just by the familiar smell), noise (despite her loud voice, she hated any loud noises, particularly in a closed room) and touch (we had to remove all clothing tags, woollen garments and anything that clinged to her).
So we started the strict elimination diet on both our children and within three days we noticed an improvement. Our little girl whose name we'd call repeatedly, but she wouldn't hear us (called 'foggy brain'), would suddenly turn around and say 'Yes Mum?', her tics were less severe, her behaviour improved 200%, the night terrors and night sweats stopped and she was tolerating her environment much better. For our son, the leg pains stopped and he became less restless. We sought professional guidance from a dietitian familiar with the RPAH diet to help us through the challenges and in the end found that both children were intolerant to all additives, moderate to high amines and glutamates, high salicylates and our son was also dairy and egg intolerant. Under the recommendation from our paediatrician, we sought professional assistance to help our daughter manage her anxiety and learn some behavioural strategies. An all encompassing approach is critical to supporting the sensitive child, especially if they have a number of cognitive issues, diet is imperative, however, it needs to be implemented in conjunction with therapy, plenty of physical activity, minimal screen time and if necessary, medication. In food sensitive children who are medicated for inattentive ADHD, the chemicals in the food interfere with the neurotransmitters preventing the medication from working, so these children require both diet and medication.
10 years later we still follow the elimination diet, our children (3 now) now tolerate all salicylates and we only cut out the 'very high' amines and glutamates. Dairy is also an issue for 2 of them and i have just joined that group. Our youngest has always been on the elimination diet and has never had the array of confectionary most of her peers have, but this does not faze her at all. She is the sweetest, calmest, most confident child and I only wish my other 2 children could have experienced this from the birth too. My 16 year old has improved dramatically and is now leading a less 'stressed' life and achieving her goals, thriving academically and in her drama. We've learnt over the years, sometimes intentionally, at times not, what food/s set her off. She knows when she's eaten too much of one of the chemical groups (usually glutamates) as she doesn't 'feel right' and is usually on the toilet within 30 minutes with severe diarrhoea 'dumping syndrome', her body's way of saying, get rid of that NOW.
It is also worth mentioning that the diet was also beneficial to my husband and I, our stress levels reduced, we were less temperamental, his rosacea gone and my gut function had improved (less diarrhoea and less illnesses). Looking further into our family history lies anxiety, depression, hyperactivity, ADHD, severe gut reactions to pork (especially the crackling), uninhibited behaviour and ongoing IBS. Our children copped it from both sides of the family, so really, they didn't have much choice.
Over the years I have often been approached by mothers who have heard of our success with our daughter and I have helped guide them through the RPAH elimination diet with the support of Sue Dengate's website fedup.com.au. When I finally graduated in my Master of Nutrition and Dietetics and became an Accredited Practising Dietitian I felt drawn to start my own practice specialising in food intolerances so that I could help other families who are struggling with their child's behaviour, anxiety, OCD tendencies, involuntary movements, or irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). In fact, i often end up treating the whole family as food intolerance often runs in families, it certainly does in ours!
Thank you for listening to my story......life experiences are invaluable.
My aim is to help as many families as possible discover the NUTRITIONAL LINK to what is causing adverse reactions in their children's and their own body and brain. We are all different and often our genetic predisposition strongly influences the food our bodies can metabolise.
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