Archive for February, 2012

Life with Allergies

Food Sources

It can be very frustrating going to the grocery store to buy groceries when you have multiple food allergies, and expensive.  We have one with milk, soy and fish; one with peanut and fish; and another with wheat, egg whites, and fish.  The fish is the only commonality.  My two girls so far have not been diagnosed with any food allergies, only environmental so that makes it a little easier I guess.

When you live on a budget it can be really difficult to buy a weeks worth of groceries when you are avoiding ingredients that are in ALMOST EVERYTHING!  For those of you out there who have kids with allergies, you know what I mean.  Every little ingredient has to be checked so you don’t end up with some hidden source.

Of course, living on a diet of whole foods would seem to eliminate the necessity, right?  Sometimes, I say thank God for Aldi’s since I can usually get fruits and veggies there for much cheaper than in the regular grocery stores.  Did you know that you have to be careful of meats containing hidden gluten, etc.?  I have had a difficult time finding employees who know what types of meats they have in the meat department, or in the Deli.  Not that deli meats are recommended for children with ADHD, etc. due to the nitrates, nitrites, etc. in them.  Buying whole foods (fresh fruits, vegetables, etc) can also be more costly when you are feeding a large family than those processed foods that are quick and easy to grab.

When looking at non-whole foods, the only bread I can buy that my little man can have is a brand that costs over $4 for a small loaf but it is the most natural I have found with only the basic ingredients.  We are not entirely gluten free but we still try to avoid it as much as possible and true 100% wheat bread has less gluten in it than breads with regular wheat(white)flour.  Of course I have tried to make my own bread.  I have had a few successful loaves, but I am not a good bread baker apparently. lol!  I can bake a mean cake from scratch.  Gluten, dairy, soy free chocolate chip cookies too!  Bread, not good!

Non-Food Sources

Well, it seems to make a lot of sense that when you are dealing with food allergies you would check all the ingredients in your foods, but what about other products you use ON your body?  For instance, my four-year old daughter was giving me a “salon experience” which involved a pedicure.  Mostly lotion, lots of it, rubbed on my feet.  Well, she put so much lotion on my lower leg that I took some off and used it on my arms and still had too much left over.  So, my son was sitting close by, so I asked if I could put some of the lotion on him.  It was Vaseline Total Moisture lotion.  Within five minutes he was breaking out and itchy.  I immediately got him in the shower and looked at the ingredients, the seventh ingredient is soybean sterol.  The ninth ingredient is soybean oil.  Well, I guess that explains it!  I never would have thought to look for that and I should have.

I have read articles talking about hidden sources.  One of the most mentioned non-food sources I have found outside of medicines (which are ingested) is chap stick.  Even multi-vitamins can be a source of hidden allergens or even preservatives and food colorings.  We do l’il-critters Gummy Vites.  They are pretty allergy friendly.  The omega-3’s do have soy in them though.   Along these lines, my four-year old got a Tinkerbell bath and lotion kit for Christmas and I checked the ingredients and found it contained FD&C red 40 among other colorings.  I am not sure, but I would think it would be reasonable to suspect that since a lotion goes on your skin that it would be absorbed into your cells and possibly cause adverse reactions for those that are sensitive to food colorings.

Things to look for

Here are some ingredients found in products that can be hazardous to our health:

Benzalkonium chloride, cetrimonium chloride and lauryl dimonium hydrolysed collagen  Found in hair  treatment products.  Both are toxic and allergenic.

Aspartame   Genetically Modified, synthetic sugar substitute. People report dizziness, headaches and even seizures. Scientists believe it can alter behavior due to altered brain function. Long term effects of this genetically modified organism on human health has not been studied or tested. Found as a sweetener in foods and some body products, such as shaving gel

Benzoic / Benzyl / Benzene   Contains carcinogens, endocrine disruptor, may cause birth defects. Found in shower gels, shampoos, bubble bath.

Coal Tar Dyes – (includes D&C Blue 1, Green 3, Yellow 5, Yellow 6, Red 33, etc.)   Even though their carcinogenicity has recently been proven, the 1938 Act includes a specific exemption for them. Severe allergic reactions, asthma attacks, headaches, nausea, fatigue, lack of concentration, nervousness, increased risk of Hodgkin’s disease, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and multiple myeloma. Found in bubble bath, hair dye, dandruff shampoo, toothpaste and foods

For a more complete list you can go here:  Purezing

If you think you have been missing possible hidden sources for your childs food allergens I found this great website which has lists of uncommon names of common foods used on packaging.  It has been helpful for me and I hope it can be helpful to others as well:  CommonFoodAllergens 

Enjoy Life and never give up hope!


Enjoy Life Products

Enjoy life products are very yummy and are now becoming available in our local grocery stores.  I have found that I can get candy molds and melt their chocolate chips pr chocolate bars down to make my own chocolate candy.  You can get dark chocolate bars or rice milk bars for those who enjoy a lighter chocolate.  Fun Fact:  Real chocolate is naturally dairy free, companies add cows milk and other ingredients.

My take on Nutrition-Based Therapy

            When faced with mental illness most people do not know how to react or what to do.  In many cases they feel helpless themselves. For example what would you do if your five year old was running around with a knife chasing his older brother due to an argument they had just had?  This was not in any way playful; there was a very real unconscious intent to cause injury.  As hard as it is to face mental illness in an adult loved one imagine the difficulty in trying to understand and cope with mental illness in your five year old child.  Scientifically, it has been shown that most mental illness is due to a chemical imbalance for which psychiatrists and doctors prescribe heavy pharmaceuticals, most with the risk of serious side effects, as the normal course of treatment and completely overlook a more natural approach, with no side effects, based on nutrition and food based vitamins that can in some cases correct the underlying chemical imbalance.

In a society that subscribes to a “take something” approach as a cure all for almost anything, the idea of a fast remedy is far more appealing than a course of treatment with a delayed result even if it could almost completely eradicate the underlying cause of the symptoms.  When an individual enters a doctor’s office for anxiety or depression the first course of action taken by the physician is the prescription pad with almost no testing. While if the same individual entered a doctor’s office with the symptoms of diabetes the first action taken by the physician would be a battery of tests most likely followed by a treatment plan consisting of diet control and exercise.  Part of the reason for the disparity in the initial treatment plans could be that mental illness is less understood by the medical community than most other illnesses.  Most medication regimens for mental illness are based on a trial and error approach to correct the chemical imbalances.

When discussing diabetes, we know this is an imbalance with sugar and insulin.  To gain a further understanding of mental illness we must first take a look at some of the chemicals involved.  There are a number of chemicals or neurotransmitters that can contribute to a chemical imbalance resulting in mental illness but for our purposes we will focus on one.  If you have heard anything about mental illness and depression you may have heard of serotonin.  This is a chemical produced naturally by our bodies just like insulin.  Serotonin is a neurotransmitter which is found in the intestines, blood and central nervous system.  It helps regulate pain, affects mood, learning and social behavior, etc.  One class of medications prescribed for mental illness is selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs).  Essentially this means the drug affects the reabsorption of serotonin into synaptic vesicles where it is usually stored for later use.  These vesicles are tiny storage sacs.  When the storage is blocked by an SSRI, the serotonin remains free floating in the bloodstream.

One of the most common medications currently prescribed for a chemical imbalance involving serotonin is Lexapro.  Lexapro is an SSRI commonly used to treat adults and adolescents (ages 12-17) for both major depressive disorder (MDD) and generalized anxiety disorder (GAD). It has been found to be very effective but comes with the risk of side effects including but not limited to: fatigue, worsening depression, decreased libido, nausea and insomnia, just to name a few (Laboratories).

Well, if the medication does not introduce serotonin into the system but is merely designed to keep serotonin in the bloodstream, wouldn’t it stand to reason that eating foods which help produce serotonin could increase the serotonin levels so that a larger amount would stay free floating in the bloodstream naturally.  To naturally increase serotonin levels you could eat low-fat dairy products, legumes, soy, chicken, white fish and high-carbohydrate vegetables.

In 1968, Linus Pauling coined the phrase Orthomolecular Medicine (Pauling). Orthomolecular Medicine is based on megavitamin therapy which simply means that certain vitamins are given in high doses, most specifically B vitamins which help with brain functions. This form of treatment has been steadily gaining in popularity but has yet to be accepted by the professional medical and psychiatric communities (Theories).  With orthomolecular therapy the chemical imbalance can be addressed through nutrition and diet coupled with increased vitamin B intake. There are 11 B vitamins and the following few are especially important for mental health:

  1. Niacin amide (B3)
  • At 50-100 mg helps increase energy and is needed for DNA repair
  1. Pyridoxine (B6)
  • 10-15 mg is needed for neurotransmitters such as serotonin.
  1. Cyanocobalamin (B12)
  •  May improve memory and reverse mental fogginess at 20-1000 mcg
  1.  Choline
  • 50-200 mg is needed for normal brain and memory function
  1. Inositol
  •  50-200 mg is helpful for depression and anxiety attacks

Foods that are rich in B-vitamins consist of dark green vegetables, protein from animal sources, and whole grains (Living).   You can also find these in natural supplements such as vitamin-B complex.

The 5 year old mentioned earlier is my son who is now 9.  He was diagnosed with ADHD and mood disorder otherwise unspecified and he was put on medication.  We didn’t know what else to do and of course you try to have faith in your doctors.  After still struggling with the effects of the disorders and side effects, we started to do more of our own research and decided to take a different approach.  We had him allergy tested and discovered that he is allergic to milk, soy, and a few other things.  After modifying his diet, we have seen a notable difference and are in the process of eliminating medication.

Our bodies are chemistry based machines.  Each is individualized and works differently.  Taking a medication which treats a broad spectrum of symptoms treats only those symptoms with the possibility of unpleasant side effects.  It does nothing to eliminate the underlying problem causing those symptoms.  If these medications actually “fixed” the problem there would be no need for continuous use.  It’s similar to going to the doctors and saying, “My feet are swollen,” and the doctor prescribing a diuretic to relieve the swelling but doing no other testing.  A diuretic will not help the possible heart condition that may be causing the swelling of the feet.  You don’t have to be a doctor or dietitian to develop a healthy eating plan.  The internet is filled with food journals and calculators and some even tell you about different foods and their benefits such as the one at  Check it out and start living healthier and happier.  Remember, side effects or no side effects, our bodies already NEED food!

Resources Used

Laboratories, Forest. Lexapro. 10 July 2011 <;.

Living, Whole. Whole 2011. 12 July 2011 <;.

Pauling, Linus. Foundation For Alternative Medicine. 05 November 2010. 12 July 2011 <;.

Theories, Elsevier’s Dictionary of Psychological. Credo reference. 14 July 2011 <;.

Another study about Mercury and Autism.

I remember when my one girlfriend’s son was diagnosed with Asperger syndrome.  One of the things everyone was talking about was how a form of mercury which as being used in immunizations was responsible for the rise in cases of autism.

While searching my twitter today I came across an interesting article which suggests that mercury may not be responsible after all.  Here is a link to the article which actually reports studys done to reach this conclusion.

Natural Candy Store

This store/site has been a life-saver for me for allergy-friendly Holiday candies!

A sad but inspiring story!

I mentioned the PLACE method in a previous post and I wanted to share a real life story about the power it can have.  This is a heart wrending story so if you are a cryer, you may want a box of tissues at hand! =)  Real names are not used to protect identity.

Micheal was a foster parent.  He took in mostly children from abusive backgrounds who had issues with incontinence, obesity, etc.  He related this story about one child of nine years he had in his care who we will call Shawn.  One day while he was going through the house collecting laundry from the bed rooms for his trip to the laundromat he walked into Shawns bedroom and was immediately overwhelmed by the smell of urine.  Michael felt a little frustrated, it was not the first time he had come into Shawns room to find this smell. 

Micheal continued to collect laundry and put his mind to the task of figuring out what exactly was going on that Shawn would feel the need to do this.  Was he hiding his underwear that he had an accident in because he was afraid he would get into trouble for the accident?  Micheal did not believe this was the case since they had talked about it before and Micheal had assured Shawn that he would not be in trouble but they did need to work on resolving his issues with having accidents.  Michael realized what he had to do and resolved to do it that evening.

When Shawn arrived home from school, Micheal stopped him before he walked upstairs.  He stood by the counter and had on a sad countenance.  ” Shawn, I would like to talk to you for a minute please.”

Shawns eyes traveled to the laundry bags and he he stiffened.  Micheal could see he was obviously scared.  Shawn had lived with him for almost half a year at this point and he wondered when that haunted look would ever leave this childs eyes.   Micheal turned so he was more facing Shawn and quietly said in a voice that he hoped was soothing,” Shawn.  I want you to know you are not in trouble.  I just need some help.”

Shawn was surprised and taken a  little off guard by this,” Help?  With what?”

” I just need to be able to understand it.  Can you please help me to understand why?  Please, I have to know!”

Shawns lip trembled.  This was a child who in the time he had been with Micheal had showed little emotion except for the occasional fear that crossed his countenance when he couldn’t stop it.  Shawn sat at the bottom of the stairs he had been standing near and his story spilled from his lips.  Micheal had heard most of it already from the case workers but this was Shawns moment.  His turn to relate his experience as only he could.

”  When I lived with my Mom, I had problems making it to the bathroom.  I would be afraid and want to hide it but she would know.  She would always know and she would make me..” he cleared his throat as tears streamed down his face. ” She would take me out in front of the house and make me sit on the little chair there.  She would put my wet underwear on my head.  I would sit there smelling the smell and hear her calling to people walking by to look at her son.  Her little sissy pissy pants!  I still have problems making it sometimes.  I get this knot in my stomach and I don’t know what to do.  So I smell the underwear and it makes the knot go away.”

Micheal went to the know sobbing Shawn with tears in his own eyes hoping he could make it through the next part without them spilling.  This was such a critical moment for the two of them but especially for Shawn.  In his hand he had a bag.  Just a plain plastic shopping bag which he held out to Shawn.  ”  I want you to take this.  I want you to gather up the underwear you have in your room and put it in here.” Shawn looked like he might protest but Micheal continued,”  I want you to to put it in a safe place in your room.”

Confused,” Wait!  I can keep them?”

Micheal nodded.  ”  The only request I make of you is when you feel the need to take out the bag, please come get me.  I want to be there with you.  Noone should ever have to feel that way especially alone.  You don’t have to talk to me or anything.  I just want to sit with you so you know you aren’t alone and if you want, I will hold your hand!”

Shawn did as he was asked.  Over the course of the next few months Shawn had fewer and fewer accidents and he started being able to express other emotions.  Just through that act of empathy and understanding he recevied he moved down the road to recovery.

There is great power in empathy, compassion and understanding.  I hope you came away from this story with the magic of a little hope in your hearts.

Some More Links

Some research suggests that children with ADHD/ADD are lacking essential B vitamins.  Here is a link which gives information about sources of b vitamins and their beneficial effects:

“Serotonin affects mood, thermoregulation, learning, sex drive, sleep, eating patterns, pain regulation and social behavior.”
Read more: How to Raise Seratonin Naturally |

 I have mentioned orthomolecular medicine and I just mentioned above about b vitamin deficiency, check this out:
Here is another website which talks about the possible harmful effects of b vitamins if taken unnecessarily!  It’s always good to examine all sides of every theory right?!
I hope these prove useful for some!