Recently I attended a day-long conference about GMO foods called Seeds of Doubt. There was an erudite line up of speakers from several disciplines, and continents: Among those at the lectern were a medical doctor, a molecular biologist, a soil scientist, an executive from a major grocery chain, a medical molecular geneticist, a certified crop advisor/ former USDA agronomist, an attorney who sued the FDA (successfully), plus two powerful moms who have broken barriers for the health and safety of kids nationwide: Robyn O’Brien, author and former financial analyst; and Zen Honeycutt, founder of Moms Across America. The gathering included a lecture Skyped in from France, a speaker flown in from England, and a moderator just off a plane from India, not to mention others from far flung US locales.
GMO food is an issue that crosses every continent and several disciplines, from health to economics. Colorado votes next week on proposition 105 to require GMO labeling on foods, and I will be voting in favor of this measure. GMO foods have been in the US food supply for twenty years, unfettered by regulation. Read on to see why this was a really bad move, and what the average American consumer probably doesn’t know.
• At least twenty-six other nations ban or heavily regulate GMO crops and foods. The US is alone in the industrialized world in so freely permitting their use and release into the environment (you can’t take a gene back, once it’s loosed). Shipments of wheat, corn, and soy from the US have been rejected around the world repeatedly. Other nations recognize that there are unanswered questions about the safety of GMO foods.
• Based solely on a Monsanto attorney’s input, in 1992, the FDA classified genetically modified foods the same as conventionally raised crops – even though GMO crops are transgenic, which means that they have genes from other species artificially inserted into them. While genes between plants have been shared for centuries, mixing genetic material across plants, animals, and microbes is recent, unconventional, and unstudied in terms of health effects.
• Because the FDA declared GMO foods to be the same as conventionally raised foods, this permitted GMO foods a loophole: They thus acquired “presumptively GRAS” (generally recognized as safe) status. GRAS status exempts products from pre-market approval requirements like safety studies. With the stroke of a pen, GMO foods freely poured into the US food supply – with no safety data, and no awareness for consumers.
• GMO food crops are modified to tolerate double or even triple the amounts of Monsanto’s patented herbicide RoundUp, and are thus called “RoundUp Ready.” They are also modified to produce a pesticide called Bt toxin, inside the plant’s own tissues. While Monsanto touted that this technology would reduce pesticide use, it has had the opposite effect, with a dramatic rise in global pesticide use reported. This makes GMO crops even more toxic than non-GMO crops. The American Academy of Pediatrics has published findings that agricultural chemicals are linked to ADHD in children.
• Bt toxin, meanwhile, kills pests by perforating their stomachs. Whether this can also cause leaky gut in humans remains unresolved. While Monsanto claims that this can’t happen because the human gut is too acidic, they overlook the fact that US infants are prescribed reflux medications at record rates – a strategy that buffers the gut dramatically. And, several of the top thirty prescriptions for US children are antibiotics, which can also buffer the gut environment. Evidence that Bt toxin genes may migrate to human gut bacteria has already been published – thus transferring the ability to produce this toxin directly in our own intestines. More on transfer of GMOs into the human gut can be found here.
• The overuse of herbicide has also created super weeds that now threaten food crop production, as the herbicide-resistant genes spliced into food crops have spread to weeds nationwide.
• RoundUp’s active ingredient, glyphosate, appears to be linked to multiple health problems in emerging research. Monsanto claims that glyphosate is harmless to humans, because we do not have the metabolic pathway that it targets to kill plants. But, the beneficial bacteria in our intestines do have this pathway, and glyphosate can markedly disrupt our beneficial gut bacteria in the same way that it kills its target plants. The human biome is a rapidly emerging area of research, and we already know that this biome is crucial to our health. Glyphosate, an endocrine disruptor, is easily absorbed from the gut. It also binds essential nutrient minerals like iron or manganese, making them less available to the host. Some research correlates the advent of GMO foods in the US with the alarming rate of new autism and celiac diagnoses (click either graph to enlarge):
One of the first places where GMO foods popped up was in infant formula and processed foods marketed to children. Corn and soy, the first major GMO crops in the US, are found in most any processed food. They appear as soybean oil, corn oil, high fructose corn syrup, modified food starch, corn starch, lecithin, soy protein, or textured vegetable protein. This means that since 1992, infants in the US have been drinking GMO formula. Humans are born with a leaky gut, which healthy gut bacteria gradually tone toward normal digestion. But does this process break down when eating GMO formula? Does it explain the explosive rise in allergies, Crohn’s disease, celiac disease, and other gut and immune problems in children, since the 1990s? At least one researcher, Stephanie Seneff PhD of MIT, believes there is a link. Click here to watch an interview with her.
If I haven’t swayed you yet, there is plenty more about GMO foods that does not add up to a green light for our kids – who are now more saddled with more chronic disease and disability than ever before (more than half of US kids have one or the other). At the very least, consumers need to know if genetically modified organisms are in their food, and have the right to not buy them. You know this is here to stay when General Mills decides to pull the GMOs out of Cheerios, and when McDonald’s is looking at organic foods. If there is one thing you can manage for your family’s health, avoid GMO foods as much as possible.
Look for this on food labels to avoid GMO ingredients & foods
Late August… and hopefully, your garden is producing all that you imagined it would. Great! Unless you notice neighbors and friends avoiding you so you don’t unload those enormous and not-so-tasty vegetables… Like zucchinis that would have tasted better if they were picked a week or two ago. Big giant zucchinis are fun to marvel at but not so good to eat as younger more tender ones.
No worries. Here’s one way to handle giant zucchini: Make fritters. These are delicious, fast, savory, and a good side with many dishes. We enjoyed ours with a homemade chicken vegetable soup for a satisfying dinner. Try them with a white fish if you’re lucky enough to have access to something fresh and local, a light and simple chicken dish, or even for breakfast (no maple syrup needed). A food processor makes this much easier and faster. This recipe makes enough to serve four as a side dish.
Sure, you can bake zucchini bread, chocolate zucchini cake, and all sorts of zucchini sweets.. but this is easy and it keeps you out of too-much-sugar territory.
6 cups shredded zucchini
1 TBSP minced scallion (optional)
3 teaspoons sea salt
1/2 cup gluten free flour of choice (try half coconut flour + half almond flour, or half almond flour + half Hagman Blend)
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 TBSP ghee + 1 TBSP coconut oil
Overgrown zucchini work well. Slice in half lengthwise and use an ice cream scoop or melon scoop to remove seeds. Trim off ends, stems, or blemishes. Cut into chunks that can fit into a food processor, using the shredder blade. You can also use a box grater but this will take a good bit longer. Grate/shred the zucchini and set in a large bowl. Add the salt and mix thoroughly. Cover the bowl with a kitchen towel and set aside for ten minutes.
Whisk the eggs, then add the flour and whisk together until smooth with the cayenne. Set aside.
Use a strainer or cheesecloth to press the water out of the zucchini after ten minutes have passed. Return to bowl. Add the egg and flour mixture, and stir in the minced scallion if you are including it. Mix thoroughly.
Heat skillet to medium high and add the ghee and coconut oil. Drop about 1/4 cup of fritter batter onto the skillet, at about 1/2 inch thick. Brown on both sides, serve warm.
Can you redirect ADHD and learning disabilities without prescription drugs? Such a big topic, so I split it into three parts. Short answer: Yes, you can. Bonus: Your child will be healthier over all from these efforts too.
Parts 1 and 2 covered the hard and crusty bits first: The right food, the right fats, and fungus (yup, I said fungus.. read part 2). Those may be the most important nutrition steps you can take to redirect a child struggling to learn, focus, pay attention, understand what h/she is reading, write, or even socialize more happily. I have seen these steps reduce or eliminate the need for prescription stimulants in kids, and make for happier, healthier, more functional children.
But there’s still more you can do. Part 3 is a finishing touch: Adding some minerals. You can skip the more labor intensive fixes for food, fats, and fungus if you wish. But, your child is less likely to enjoy as much success in tackling ADHD naturally.
Why is this true? Because no matter what you eat, your gut is full of microbes – that’s your gut biome. You need it. With a sterile gut, you would die. Microbes do a lot for us. They “teach” the immune system, regulate inflammatory responses, keep pathogens out by killing them for us, impact neurotransmitter balance, and make extra nutrients for us. They can even exchange genetic material with stuff that you eat (which is one reason why GMO foods are scary – human gut microbes have been found to produce the same pesticide that GMO foods are engineered to make, after volunteers ate a diet of GMO foods.)
Junky, starchy, processed, sugary diets promote a lousy gut biome. That means more toxins and trash for your brain and body, because those microbes produce their own waste, and then you absorb it. These toxins can be agitating, irritating, and measurable with a urine microbial organic acid test, in case you’re wondering how to find them. Some of the toxins that gut microbes produce have been linked to autism and seizure disorders.
With a healthy biome, which you develop from eating whole unprocessed un-sugary food, “waste” is the good stuff: some B vitamins, acids to kill pathogens and regulate gut pH, clearance of toxins, completion of digestion so nutrients are more available to you.
Long short? Your gut bugs eat what you eat, and they eat first. So, clean house (see parts 1 and 2) before you begin a supplement protocol for ADHD or attention and focus. Otherwise, you’ll just be feeding those expensive supplements to the garbage gang. This is one reason why children can react or regress dramatically when given a new supplement, before cleaning up the diet or without first directly treating gut microbes that shouldn’t be there. You might just be fertilizing the weeds, so to speak; they bloom, and create an explosion of toxins that can be systemically absorbed. No good. It’s also why you might see a supplement do nothing in particular, when all signs indicate it should really help. Things can really change once that gut microflora environment is in good shape. Even prescription medications for ADHD can work better (or not be needed at all), once these pieces are optimized.
Once you’re ready to supplement, pay attention to minerals. These are critical for the brain to focus and learn. Iron, zinc, copper, magnesium, calcium, selenium, and chromium all have tiny but crucial roles to play, in helping the brain smoothly produce neurotransmitters – as well as dismantle neurotransmitters as needed, to keep things balanced. Serotonin, dopamine, GABA (gamma amino butyric acid), and dozens of other neurotransmitters let us do what we need at the right moments: Sleep, relax, be alert, concentrate, read, remember, process, react, stay calm, and so on. These amazing chemicals do all sorts of things in our brains. Too much serotonin can build up and create more anxiety, or even a deadly state called serotonin syndrome, but too little can leave you depressed, or paradoxically, too anxious. Too little dopamine can mean you can’t focus or learn very well; too much can mean you have obsessive compulsive behaviors. Too little GABA may mean you have seizures; too much can leave you lethargic. It’s all in the balance, and the body uses a steady supply of several nutrients to maintain that balance: Glucose, iron, B vitamins, protein, magnesium and more.
Pumpkin seeds have it all: Minerals, essential fats, fiber, protein
Most kids I encounter with ADHD are eating diets low in minerals. They tend to eat starchy, sugary diets that are marginal for healthy brain fats, low for good proteins, and nearly nil for minerals. If your child isn’t eating a lot of fresh vegetables, leafy greens, seeds, or nuts /nut butters, and fresh meats or eggs, then they aren’t eating a lot of minerals. This describes most kids I’ve met in my practice.
First on my list of minerals to check is iron. It has a history when it comes to attention deficits. Kids can need anywhere from 5 to 15 to as much as 50 mg per day, depending on their iron status. This one is a deal breaker for turning tyrosine, an amino acid that we get from protein we eat, into dopamine in the brain, which allows us to pay attention. Children with poor iron status will have attention problems; they may also be quite hyperactive as they languish in a weakened status known as pre-anemia. Before medicating, ask your pediatrician to do an iron study. Because iron is so complex in its many roles in the body, your doctor will have to do more than look at just serum iron (which means little all by itself) or hemoglobin and hematocrit (which many pediatricians like to check with a quick fingerprick and blood drop). Before iron is supplemented, do this careful footwork first with your pediatrician.
An iron study, a tool I use often in my practice, should include a blood draw for serum iron, transferrin, ferritin, iron binding capacity, and a blood count to show how red blood cells look. Ferritin levels (in my experience) should be at a robust 40 or better for kids to have optimal functionality from iron status, even though the reference range drops to 10 or even 6 from some labs. Low ferritin means low levels of iron are available for the body to use. Whether or not a child is being placed on a medication for attention, iron status should be solid; otherwise, it will interfere.
Iron rich foods? The usual suspects include red meats and eggs, but I also like to suggest pumpkin seeds or sunflower seeds, sunflower seed butter, dark leafy greens (chard, kale, spinach), cashews, molasses, quinoa, and of course, legumes like lentils and all sorts of beans. Eating iron rich foods with citrus or vitamin C will help the gut absorb more iron. Even using iron cookware can help.
Pallor, shiners at eyes, insomnia, and fatigue should trigger an iron assessment.
If you and your doctor find that your child needs an iron supplement, consider easier to absorb forms like ferrous bis-glycinate rather than ferrous sulfate, which can be harder for some to tolerate. Iron supplements in the correct form and dose do not usually trigger constipation. Iron is one nutrient that most microbes really, really like. For that reason, I hesitate to enrich iron in kids without first knowing status for bowel microbes or other infections. If a child reacts especially badly to efforts to reverse iron depletion, it may be because gut microbes are enjoying that iron and creating a toxic bloom. Clear those out, and things can go better.
Next on my list is magnesium. This mineral is needed for smooth nerve impulse transmission and can be quite calming when used correctly. It works with B vitamins to allow the brain to have a steady supply of glucose, which is its preferred fuel. Skip the blood work, because this is a safer mineral to supplement (iron can quickly become toxic). You can go directly to magnesium rich foods: Banana, dark leafy greens, unsweetened cocoa powder (omit the sugar by using the powder in smoothies with some stevia), avocado, lentils, chick peas (hummus), pumpkin seeds, and nuts. Another trick: Let your child soak in a tub near bedtime with a cup of Epsom salt in it. This is magnesium sulfate, which handily absorbs through skin to enrich pathways needing this mineral. The sulfur helps too, as it is needed to run liver and digestive enzymes. This can help your child fall and stay asleep easier.
If supplements are easier, there are many that give magnesium, in powders, capsules, and liquids. Know this: Magnesium citrate and magnesium oxide are particularly effective laxatives, so if you don’t want that result, dose carefully or use a different form (magnesium glycinate for example). And, the body carefully balances magnesium relative to other minerals, especially calcium. Many products include both in a 2:1 ratio (twice as much calcium as magnesium). Kids need about 300 mg magnesium daily. Some in my practice with constipation and neurological challenges safely use up to 700 mg. Don’t do this without professional guidance. Magnesium can reach toxic levels, where it will impact cardiac, nerve, and muscle function.
Next stop: Zinc. When I hear a child is wiggly, chewing shirts or sleeves, gnawing on pencils, paper, or fingers, bothered by tags and fabric, and just all around distractible, I will look at zinc. It’s not imperative to do blood work here because clinical signs for weak zinc status are easy to spot (white dots on nails, penchant for chewing fabric, picky appetite, sluggish growth pattern and appetite), but blood work can give you a concrete idea of what is needed. Zinc levels should be squarely in the middle of the reference range, not toward the bottom. Blood work can also reveal levels of zinc relative to copper in the body. An upside down ratio (too little zinc, too high copper) is often present with aggressive, impulsive, inattentive, or combative behavior. Correcting this ratio with careful supplementation can lessen these behaviors.
Most of our zinc is found in the brain, and in the hippocampus in particular, which is pivotal for memory and mood. Marginal zinc status has many impacts on the brain and how it balances things like GABA (which gives a calmed, attentive state) and glutamate (excitatory and unable to remember or learn). Less zinc will tilt that balance away from GABA.
Zinc is found in foods already mentioned here – nuts, seeds, meats, pork, chocolate, eggs, tahini, chick peas, legumes – and in others like salmon, scallops, flax seeds, or garlic. It needs a properly acid stomach to initiate its absorption, like any minerals. Supplements abound, from liquid (tasteless to those needing zinc, metallic tasting to those in good zinc status) to lozenges to capsules. I often place children on 25-40 mg of zinc daily, when warranted.
Scallops are full of minerals, protein, and healthy fats.. if you can get them
Chromium, selenium, iodine, and calcium all have parts to play in optimizing attention and focus as well. You’ll find these in the same foods – seeds, nuts, meats or pork, fish, dark greens, or deep colored fruits like blueberries or cranberries. You can choose from multivitamins that provide a strong complement of these minerals, but whole food sources deliver additional benefits: Good energy sources, fiber, proteins, healthy fats and oils, and in some cases, phytochemicals not classified as nutrients but noted for other benefits (anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant, or neuroprotective).
Nothing ever exists in a vacuum when it comes to nutrients. A lot of one mineral may mean displacing another – so monitoring the whole child, the whole diet, and the whole complement of supplements, if you use them, is important. Approaching your child’s ADHD as a nutrient balancing act rather than a stimulant shortage can not only resolve the attention piece, but can create better health over all for your child in the end.
Whatever your kid eats is all that his/her brain has to work with, to build neurotransmitter balance, keep nerve impulses flowing calmly and consistently, and grow tissue.
In part 1 of this 3 part blog, I covered the hardest thing first: Food. It is the most important, and the hardest to do. It’s what many parents I meet put off until things get really desperate (as in, your child is about to lose a school placement due to impulsive, disruptive behavior). It means asking yourself how far you are willing or able to go, to improve your child’s well being and ability for learning. Changing up your kitchen, revamping all your meal prep routines, learning to cook more and prepare new dishes, and changing what you spend or how you shop for food is probably lower than root canal on your list of least favorite things ever (you’re not alone). True, it can be hard.
If you’ve found some peace with those questions, and know your “I-can-do-this” zone, dive in! Small changes count, there’s no right or wrong. You’ll find that the new habits just grow, and you’ll know which ones are so worthwhile, you’ll wonder why they didn’t start sooner.
High on my list, after restoring good food and good fats, is fungal. Huh?
This mycelial form of fungus takes over when Candida is present to excess, and disrupts a human gut
Candida, fungal overgrowth, intestinal candidiasis, yeast infection or sensitivity all refer to the same thing: Fungal microbes in your child’s body (gut, bladder, urinary tract, lungs, brain, lymph, you name it). While western medicine today doesn’t consider that an issue unless you have immune collapse, many of us in the functional medicine and functional nutrition realm see that it’s more complicated than that. Yes, fungal microbes are “normal” in a human body. But:
• Some of us may have way too much of this, to the point where it functionally interferes.
• Others may have genes that leave our immune response to fungal overload dead in the water – that is, we do nothing about it, and fungal (mold) toxins overload our bodies as a result.
• Still others may have an immune response to it that is highly irritating.
Any one of these three scenarios means that your child’s ADHD may be linked to fungal overgrowth! The good news is, this is easy to redirect. And you may be amazed at how differently your child functions as a result.
Why is this even on the map nowadays? Because in the last thirty years, children have received many more antibiotics than at any time before, and they receive them earlier (even in utero, or at delivery, if mom needs a C-section or has Group B Strep infection). We also use more and more antibiotics in feed animals, too. Antibiotics don’t kill fungal species, just bacteria – including bacteria humans need (especially babies) for normal immune function, digestion, and neurotransmitter balance (did you know there is more serotonin in your gut than in your brain, thanks to healthy bacteria?). In effect, antibiotics are like fertilizer for fungal overgrowth. So if antibiotics featured prominently, early, or both in your child’s life, sugar and carb cravings are strong, and ADHD is now an issue, odds favor Candida or other fungal strains as component you can work with. Fungal microbes make lots of toxins (alcohol, dermorphin, deltorphin, acetylaldehyde), which readily reach the brain, where they disrupt sleep, behavior, and learning. This tenet of the GAPS approach to psychiatric conditions has a pedigree in scientific review that you can delve into here.
So, what do you do about it? Clear that fungal load to gear up a healthier gut and whole body biome. Real food, less sugar and starch, and less processed food can do that gradually. But especially for kids whose appetites are fiercely rigid for starchy low protein foods, intervene with strong herbal anti fungal (drops or capsules) to clear this out. This changes appetites fast, and avoids a lot of conflict when new foods are presented.
What herbs? There are many to choose from, and they can have an impact as strong as or stronger than prescription drugs, in
Available as capsules also, a strong anti fungal blend.
my clinical experience. I have great respect for these potent tools: caprylic acid, undecylenic acid, olive leaf extract, grapefruit seed extract, berberine, allicin (from garlic) are just a few of the options. Single herb extracts or blends are widely available and I guide my clients on the use of these in my practice. Which ones may be most effective can be discerned with a functional stool test that cultures yeast strains and then tests which agents killed the found strains. In some cases, it may be that the fungal piece warrants a medication. Both Nystatin and Diflucan are FDA approved for use in infants and children. Meanwhile, I have found that the herbs can be as if not sometimes more effective, gentler to use long term, and easier to administer.
Along with the anti fungal support, probiotics help as well, to populate the gut with those friendly bacteria directly. These will ultimately keep Candida overgrowth in check on their own. It’s important while doing these things to work on better food (see part 1), because those gut bugs eat first, and they eat whatever your child eats. Give the food that the good stuff likes to eat for more success; Candida loves empty sugary food while a healthy biome likes a variety of foods that have fiber, varied carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals.
Which probiotic? Choose one with guaranteed potency, without the worthless fillers found in most over the counter probiotics sold at the supermarket or your local pharmacy. Certain circumstances will make probiotics hard to tolerate, so if you have trouble or no success with this piece, get help.
Some products are abysmal for potency – as low as a few million CFUs. Others don’t even specify dose, beyond something like “200 milligrams” of probiotic, which means nothing. I’m reaching for 25 to 250 billion CFUs (colony forming units) per dose, depending on the child’s situation. Which strains to choose matters too; some kids do well with one product that will go badly for the next, and vice versa. Buy refrigerated probiotics and store them there; do not microwave, boil or heat past “wrist” temperature, or put through vigorous blending or mixing. Tip: If purchasing probiotics through my client interface, defer the costly chill pack shipping. A small chilled brick pack is always included; the extra cost buys you foam insulation and even more chilled bricks, for about $60. Just buy usual ship method, and store the product in refrigerator immediately on arrival.
Probiotics are available as capsules, chewables or loose powder. Begin with whatever format your child will accept, at low dose (a quarter usual dose), and work up slowly. Going too fast may mean stomach aches or diarrhea for your child. Expect to see gradual, comfortable shift toward a soft formed bowel movement every day or every other day at the least. Not sure what that means? Check out the Bristol scale.
What else should you expect from working on the fungal part of naturally supporting ADHD, focus, and learning? Besides normalized bowel habits (a “4” on the Bristol scale, daily), look for less belly bloat, fewer sugar and carb cravings, more calm, more “okay, mom” from your child instead of the oppositional tantrum, longer stretches of effort at homework instead of “I can’t do this” after seven minutes, more ability to socialize with peers, and even some surprisingly positive reports from teachers.
Next up, Part 3 of my series on natural supports for ADHD, ADD, learning, focus, and attention: Minerals, and Beware Magic Bullets!
Sensory problems get in the way of learning, sleeping, eating, and even playing for a lot of kids. Did you know that many of these are linked to nutrition deficits, and may be relatively easy to fix? Use this checklist to get started! Sign up for my newsletter below and the checklist will be in your in box right away.
If you add a supplement to address a symptom, give it time – you are replenishing and restoring tissues and cells that may have needed that support for a long time, even years in some cases. Some nutrients can work quickly to drop sensory symptoms (minerals or B vitamins) while others take may weeks or months (fish oils, the right protein, or gut biome restoration).You may want to chart changes, as they can emerge gradually rather than abruptly, though that does sometimes happen too. If nothing seems to work, it’s likely that your child has a number of needy areas for nutrition support. Work with me to figure out what to do first, or browse my books, webinars, and blog for more info. Where lab testing might be indicated, talk to your child’s doctor or schedule a nutrition consult with me here.
It’s just a few days away. Your kids are already bouncing around with excitement. School activities are over-the-top Halloween focused. This will sound old and farty: Nobody had costume parades, Halloween parties, or spooky treats in my 1960s elementary school days. Sure, our pumpkin art projects got pasted around the classroom, but nobody wore costumes to school. That was verboten. No cupcakes, no candy at school. You just had to wait until after school. School was not the place for all the classroom merry making that it is today (no cupcake wars). Waiting like this definitely made Halloween afternoon and evening all the more exciting!
And, nobody worried too much about eating Halloween candy. The main candy dilemma was managing squabbles between sibs or friends about candy trades. Food allergies were unheard of, literally. Try that on: No one had a peanut allergy. No one had an anything food allergy. And, candy was not so ubiquitous. It just wasn’t in your face every day like it is now. Candy wasn’t eaten on a regular basis.
We didn’t have GMO corn syrup (possibly more allergenic), high fructose corn syrup (a reliable mercury source), trans fats (nasty for young brains), or a bunch of other oddities now in food. The amount of weird processed stuff marketed so relentlessly to moms and kids now didn’t exist. No squeeze tube yogurts (this is essentially candy), many fewer processed soft drink or soda options (candy), no Goldfish Colors (is that food?), power bars (many are sugared oats with vitamins sprinkled in, so… candy). Halloween candy was an actual treat, not a daily, disguised-as-food lunchbox item.
So now what? Twenty-first century Halloween candy is rife with all sorts of chemicals that nobody should eat, especially kids, who are smaller and have lesser capacity to process toxins that us adults. But, it’s Halloween!
If it works for your family to entirely defer the candy frenzy, of course that’s healthier physically, but it will probably make your kids miserable to be left out. Your options depend on your kids, and your intuition as a parent. Kids on special diets who avoid colors, additives, or allergens obviously have to be especially careful: Feingold diet followers will go bonkers if they get some Haribo gummy candies. Luckily, there’s an enzyme for that!
If your kids do eat a color, additive, or food that they don’t tolerate, you can give various enzymes to help process the offending food. It may not eliminate your child’s reaction, but it may mitigate it. This won’t work for serious food allergens, so keep the Epi-pen handy! Options:
• Use a DPP-IV enzyme for a wheat/dairy transgression. Two chewable or capsules for a single serving of the “wrong” food, up to four enzymes at once is fine.
• Use a broad spectrum enzyme like Tri-Enza if you’re not sure which foods were eaten or to help digest creepy sugars and corn syrup along with some wheat or dairy. Same dosing as above.
• Use a phenol enzyme like No-Fenol to help manage those colors and dyes. Chewable versions of these are available.
• If your child can swallow capsules, encapsulated charcoal will bind whatever your child just ate, in case they really ate something they should not. Charcoal will grab and carry whatever is in the gut with it out in stool. Check with your doctor first – it will also bind and carry any medications present in the gut at the same time.
• Buy candy made with organic cane sugar, colorings from vegetable extracts, and
unprocessed fats or oils, rather than high fructose corn syrup, fake food dyes, and artificially manipulated fats, which, undesirable as all this sugary fatty stuff is, is actually easier for a human liver to manage. Yup, it’s more expensive. How much do you value stuff like… sleep? Kids may sleep better (and hence you as well) and have fewer meltdowns after eating candy that is made of naturally occurring substances rather than Rubric’s-cube-for-your-liver type chemicals.
• Don’t demonize candy. A neutral attitude works wonders.
There is a whole universe of organic Halloween candy out there, awaiting your perusal. This may lower your children’s toxic load and reactions to some degree. If you are feeding your family healthy whole foods most the time, barring any dangerous reactions to known trigger items, a day or two of candy should not tumble your child for long. If it does, some nutritional support and clean up is in order.
Here’s to a fun, safe Halloween for our kids. Make the memories good, not stressful. A little candy is fun and lets your kids have adventures with peers. Whether or not you use Switch Witch trickery at your house, these candy tricks can make it a little easier to enjoy the treats.