I had the pleasure of speaking with Kiran Ram on the Food Mood Project, which launches November 6, 2017 with my interview, which is titled “Food Ain’t Like It Used To Be!”
Kiran especially wanted to hear what I had to say about kid’s diets and I had the perfect story to tell about a client of mine and her two sons. It’s a story of a single mother who made the decision to take charge of her kid’s health and to do it with diet. It’s a long story but it’s an inspiring one that you could send to any young parents you know who are struggling with unhealthy children.
In the spring of 2006 my youngest son was eight months old and was diagnosed with Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV). The week before, my older son, who was then 2 ½ had been sick. I’m fairly certain he also had RSV though he was never officially diagnosed. Before the doctor confirmed that my son had RSV, he prescribed antibiotics and we started using them. When he got the results he called me and told me that there was no need to continue the antibiotics because they would not help with the RSV.
Over the next two and a half years both boys had recurrent bouts of both bronchiolitis and walking pneumonia. They were given Zithromax (an antibiotic) and Albuterol breathing treatments over and over. Whenever they got any kind of sickness, flu, croup, a cold, whatever, it went straight to their lungs and turned into either bronchiolitis or pneumonia and would get worse and worse. It seemed as though they never got over anything on their own without drugs.
In January of 2008 they got sick one week after they started back to school. I decided to take them out of school/daycare so they could have some time where they weren’t sick. This entailed hiring a full-time nanny. Being at home seemed to help some, however they still got sick, just not quite as often. They did not return to school until August that year. And again, they got sick only one week after school started. I was devastated. I thought for sure the break would have helped them be stronger.
In October after they had again been on antibiotics two more times in three months I took them to the doctor because they were once again sick and it was in their lungs and bronchial tubes. He told me that he wanted to put them on steroids for the entire winter. I broke down in tears. I could not imagine putting my three and five-year-old boys on steroids. It felt so wrong.
He gave me the prescription and I filled it and started giving it to them. But I felt horrible. I knew somewhere deep down that it was not the answer. And after about three days I refused to give it to them anymore. I said to myself, “There must be a better way.”
The next morning I called a medical doctor who is also a naturopathic, Dr. Carolyn Dean MD ND. After a two-hour consultation with her about my children and myself she said, “They pretty much no longer have their own immune systems. About 60-70% of your immune system is in your gut. If you take antibiotics over and over, your body cannot replenish the good flora that is in your gut and you will have yeast overgrowth. This yeast overgrowth keeps your body from being able to fight off colds, diseases, whatever. The fact that they had RSV means that whatever is fighting against their little bodies goes to the weakest spot, which is their lungs or bronchial tubes, and settles there.
It was like I was waking from a long dark sleep. There was an actual reason for all of this! However as she was talking I got very scared. I was hoping there was a way to fix the problem but thought maybe I’d really hurt my kids for the long term by doing what their doctor had suggested for those three years.
And then she said, “It won’t be easy, but it is fixable. The first thing you have to do is to change your diet. You have to get rid of the yeast so that your kids immune systems will begin to replenish and they will be able to fight off whatever they come across.”
I let out a sigh of relief. Change our diet? That would be easy, compared to the lack of sleep from late night breathing treatments and the time and money we’d spent on doctor visits and medicine over the last three years.
Then she said, “You will need to go on an anti-candida diet. That means you are going to starve the yeast. Yeast eats sugar, wheat, dairy, yeast and fungus.” And my thoughts came to a screeching halt. How in the world would we eat? What would we eat? Was there enough foods that had none of those things in it to get meals on the table for kids?
She said, “I’ll send you a list of foods you can eat and foods to avoid. In addition I think it would be best for you to avoid gluten. That means that you should only eat certain grains. I’ll include them on the list. ”
I thanked her and said, “You know my youngest, who is three, almost only eats wheat and dairy. He will eat macaroni and cheese, pizza, quesadillas and grilled cheese sandwiches all the time. It’s hard for me to get him to eat much of anything else. And my older son eats tons of fruit. This is not going to be easy.”
She said, “Unfortunately those are both accurate signs of them having yeast overgrowth. The yeast is literally controlling their appetites. It is starving for those things and makes your kids crave them. And fruit is not good, it is full of sugar, the body doesn’t recognize sugar in fruit any different than white sugar as far as yeast is concerned.”
I was starting to get a little worried that I wasn’t going to be able to feed my kids. She sent me the list and I scanned down it. As I did I realized there wasn’t much on it that we ate very often. I’d thought we ate pretty well, we hardly ever ate candy, always used whole wheat bread, ate lots of fruits, some veggies and had a variety of foods. And none of us was over weight. But this list was not at all the majority of our food. And, as I scanned through the ‘not so good list’ I realized we ate a LOT of sugar, wheat and dairy.
There were meats listed but it said that they could not be cured. That meant no bacon, and no lunchmeat or hot dogs. Oh boy. There were grains and vegetables I’d never heard of. I was more than a little worried I could pull the diet off. However, the alternative didn’t feel right either. There was no way I was going to put the boys on steroids without even trying to make this alternate solution work
While I was pushing my shopping cart down the aisle of the grocery story the reality of the change hit hard. I could only figure out meat and vegetables. It seemed like EVERY food that was packaged had sugar wheat and dairy in it. So, for the next two weeks my kids cried and screamed at the table when it came time for meals. And I felt like I was starving them.
During that time I made a commitment to my family to make this diet work. When I did, I knew I was going to have to learn a lot about food and what was in most prepared products. I spent hours, weeks, months reading labels, going to health food stores and putting together these recipes. My greatest joy is that the boys will now willingly eat and actually ask for many of these truly nutritious meals.
The first three months we followed the diet 100% of the time. I think that it was important to flush the yeast out of our systems as much as possible in the beginning. We even took our own food to birthday parties and hardly ever ate out in restaurants. The results were quick and strong, the boys did not get sick anymore, not one time. In addition, after five days I started sleeping through the night. I hadn’t done that in over five years. I also lost about 8 or 10 pounds and we all became more regular. Which was a relief because my older son had had an extreme case of constipation with a 103 degree fever, where he went to the emergency room twice, the month before we started the diet.
After those first three months I started to add in a few of the things that were borderline. Such as peeled granny smith apples, blueberries, and grapefruit. Dr. Dean had told me these fruits had the least amount of sugar in them and would have the lowest effect of yeast growth. I also started adding in a very small amount of corn products, though I was careful to only buy things that were organic and non-gmo as so much of the corn produced in the U.S. is genetically modified
After six months or so we started eating out some and even going off the diet completely for a meal or two each week. But for the most part when we did that we would still be selective about our choices. We would order whole wheat buns on our hamburgers, whole wheat crust on our pizza’s and ask for less cheese. At this point I really began to feel that I could make knowledgeable choices about food and keep the kids healthy.
In the three years since we started this diet, both boys have been healthier than they ever were in their lives. Each has only been on antibiotics only one time, each has missed only one day of school. (And they go year round.) And even though they do get colds and other sicknesses they fight them off, and the symptoms seem to be milder than what other kids are experiencing. And finally they very rarely get sick. So, it was all worth it. And now, the diet is just a habit. It is not any more difficult than the way we were eating before. So, thank you Carolyn for changing our lives permanently.
Please join me on the Food Mood Project, it’s a free Summit with lots of exciting guests and I’m sure you won’t want to miss it.
Carolyn Dean MD ND
The Doctor of the Future®
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