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March 2010 - Page 2 of 12 - Shivaya Naturals — Page 2

March 2010

A Spoonful of Sugar

March 29, 2010

The song states, “A spoonful of sugar makes the medicine go down”.

I tend to disagree.

I have been thinking a lot on this subject lately, especially in light of some recent knowledge about our older son’s health. Many of you have asked me some wonderful questions about my children and their food allergies and autoimmune illnesses, so I thought I would share a little of our story in hopes of just passing on what has made a difference for us.

As many of you know, my two sons have both been diagnosed with celiac disease in the past three years. Since their diagnosis, a lot has been learned, both by us and by their doctors, and in the past few months we have gained better understanding about not just celiac disease, but other illnesses that have similar symptoms.

Many people ask us how we came to the diagnosis of celiac, and it is a rather bizarre story. Jacob had been in pain since he was born, and his first word was “Ow”. For a little over two years, he was tested for everything (except what he actually had), and put through the ringer to figure out what was wrong. His blood tests always showed problems, but they were leading in the wrong direction. Frighteningly, it was our dentist who figured it all out, when at three years old Jacob had 8 cavities, and had never had refined sugar a day in his life (celiac disease prevents nutrients from absorbing into the system, and can cause tooth decay).

I remember when we first went to the pediatric gastroenterologist, and it seemed so easy to simply remove the gluten, and watch our little one thrive like anyone else. While Jacob’s health is about 70% improved, simply not having gluten in the house is not enough. School, supermarkets, friend’s homes, they all have made him sick at one time or another, and it is a constant struggle to keep his diet as clean as possible.

OK, so now having said that, this post is not really about the gluten, as much as the sugar. When I had Jacob, I was a crazy naturalist. I had no caffeine, refined or processed foods, I breastfed my children late into their childhood, they drink fish oil, straight, etc. You get the drift here, we have done all that we can to be as careful with their food choices as possible. Apparently, that has not been enough.

I do love to bake, and I make fresh gluten free cookies, muffins and cakes with the kiddos at least once a week. It was through my cooking that I recently realized that we might have another issue on our hands with our children. Now, this is pretty personal information, and I hope that one day Jacob does not hate me for sharing this with you, but I feel that it is actually important enough to divulge. Three months ago, Jake was diagnosed with Tourettes Syndrome.

It was a heartbreaking diagnosis, but my husband and I originally took it at face value, because Jacob was having very strong tic issues that fit almost all of the prerequisites for Tourettes. The tics began a year ago, and had waxed and waned pretty consistently, until about October of this past year. Right around that time, they got progressively worse. It finally came to a head 5 days before Christmas, when we took him into the doctor and she recommended we see a child psychologist right away.

So, I lugged my poor kid all around town for 4 straight days, getting one opinion after another. Most of the doctor’s agreed that it looked like early Tourettes, except the last doctor that we saw. While he couldn’t pin point why, he just felt like there was something else causing the severe tics, and he encouraged us to see a neurologist at Children’s Hospital.

Christmas Day came, and with it, a new round of baked goods. Of course, the kids had been having more sugar than at almost any other time of year, with their birthdays in October, and then the holidays starting, etc. By the time Christmas dinner was over, Jacob was on his third straight day of 6 or more nose bleeds. I was so lost, and so stumped, that I just sat in the corner and cried until the next morning. I had spent every waking minute of this kid’s life trying to protect him, and this was not something that I was able to control.

Somewhere in that night, I realized a pattern. The year before, around Thanksgiving, was when we first really started noticing his tics getting severe. Then, after the holidays receded, we saw them begin to dissipate again. I woke my husband up at about 4 am, and we talked it through, and realized that he was possibly reacting to sugar. Now, we don’t cook with refined sugar, mainly only honey or brown rice syrup, but we knew it was having an effect none the less.

Within three weeks of eliminating all sweets from his diet, the tics were nearly 80% gone, and when we saw the neurologist at Children’s Hospital, Jacob was cleared of any diagnosis of Tourettes Syndrome.

OK, so why am I telling you all of this, in what can only be described as the longest food allergy related blog post ever? Because the neurologist told me very bluntly that there are so many symptoms out there that look like Jacobs, that can be helped with dietary changes. Even though my children eat incredibly well, and only ever had a small amount of sweetener in their bodies, the build up at one particular time a year was causing disastrous consequences. I mean, if you really think about it, my child looked like he had an illness that at present time, only effects just slightly over 1% of the population.

The neurologist had us further the dietary changes by removing all dairy and casein from his system, and even more reduction of the tics occurred. It is wild. We could have medicated him, given him tons of therapy, etc, but all we did was change two parts of his diet, and everything shifted.

I know that dietary changes alone do not account for every auto immune disease out there, but I also know that food related exacerbation of symptoms is a common problem.

I am just a mother who found her self so baffled by how to help her child, it was becoming overwhelming. If we had not found the celiac, or the sensitivity to sugar and dairy, then let’s face it, Jacob would have spent his childhood being labeled with every bad name you can think of, both from his teachers and his peers. His symptoms are not 100% gone, and I assume that they may never be, but he is so different now compared to just a few months ago.

There really isn’t a moral to this story, except to say that sometimes there are answers for things, even though they may not fit a model for what an illness or problem supposedly looks like. In the past three months, I have spoken to so many families who have experienced a similar situation, and I am beginning to wonder if food sensitivities/allergies, are beginning to account for more than we really understand.

I know that many people have to deal with problems like ADD/ADHD, sensory integration disorder, chronic illness and autism every day with their children. While I can only speak for my child and my family, I can say that there is something to be taken seriously about the role that food can play, even really organic, “healthy” food, in regards to these issues.

Keeping my children healthy has been a much crazier road than I ever expected, and I can not tell you how much I appreciate other parents who have opened up about their experiences, especially in the blog world, because it has helped immensely.

While I would have loved to have gone more in-depth about this subject here, I think that I have used my blog time up for today. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to leave a comment, or email me, and I would be happy to discuss further.

Happy Monday


What looks like the last of our winter snow arrived in force this week, getting us out skiing, sledding and snow ball fighting. As the temperatures move into the 70’s beginning tomorrow, we are ready to enjoy all that Spring has to offer.

Bernadette and I are very excited that Rhythm of The Home has a sponsorship giveaway at Soulemama this morning. Three of our amazing contributors to the magazine generously donated a prize, and you can find a short interview on the magazine as well.

We hope that you enjoy!

One of my closest friends surprised me with a visit over the weekend, and I have not sat at the computer since Friday. Sunday Serenity will return next weekend with something special 🙂