What, Exactly, Is In Your Food?

I think that what’s in our food and how it’s labeled is beyond important.  This isn’t a question of fussy foodies whining about the food industry and big agri.  Some people, particularly kids, are suffering horrible side effects from additives and food colorings, many of which are banned outside the USA.

What we’re putting into our bodies goes way beyond taste, as the following true story confirms.

Ben, Darrin, Dina & Lia

Dina and Darrin had the perfect son, Ben.  As Dina says “He was content to play by himself, slept great, ate whatever we put in front of him and we could take him anywhere.  When he was two, his baby sister was born.  And when he was two and a half, he turned into the exorcist.”

At first, Dina and Darrin thought Ben’s problems were about the terrible twos, a new sister and new daycare.  At three they put him into a preschool, only to remove him before the school could kick him out.  He was wild, misbehaved, loud, obnoxious, impulsive and couldn’t keep his hands to himself.  His daycare provider had no idea how to discipline him.  She’d look him in the eyes, make sure he understood the direction she provided, and then he’d turn around and do the opposite.

Darrin swore he would never go to baseball practice with Ben again because their son ignored the coach and what should have been fun and instructive became a nightmare.

“No amount of consequence seemed to do any good – at home, at daycare or at school,” says Dina.  “Then my mother suggested I research the link between diet and behavior.”

The family ate a home-cooked meal around the dinner table most nights.  The kids got all their vegetables, protein and dairy and Dina believed that if the FDA approved it, it must be good to eat.  Organic was for Granola People but, following up on her mother’s suggestion, Dina discovered the non-profit Feingold organization (www.feingold.org/), saw the strange range of processed foods’ ingredients and the effects they have on children’s behavior.  Dina cried as she read the testimonials of mothers just like her, who had struggled with their children’s conduct and had then turned it all around with simple diet changes.

Dina paid to purchase the Feingold materials got started immediately removing from her kitchen everything with artificial colors, flavors or preservatives.

“In the very first week we saw incredible results.  Where Ben used to play with his large duplo legos for five minutes and throw tantrums because he couldn’t build what he envisioned, now he was playing with his small legos for hours making buildings, cars, boats and more.  In fact, his small legos were the only toy he played with that entire week.” At baseball, the coach asked Darrin if he had been practicing with Ben, because it was as if the boy had suddenly woken up and decided to listen to his coach; to play.

Over the next couple of months Ben learned to grasp concepts he was struggling with before: reading and writing, riding a two wheel bike without training wheels, swimming without floaties, and more.  He now had the patience to do challenging things without getting frustrated and giving up.  It was amazing to watch.  And even more amazing to realize how little time he was now spending on time out or screaming at his parents.

Dina and Darrin had their son back simply because, via Feingold, they paid close attention to what they were putting into their bodies.

I have a personal interest in this story.  Dina and Darrin are close family friends.  We saw them struggle with Ben and now we’re seeing them richly rewarded for their new approach to food.  I know this is just one personal anecdote; that one person’s additive is another person’s poison; that we’re all different.  But I pass this on because it’s an inspiring story about one family that took control of their own food lives.

And, by the way, Dina’s cooking tastes great, too.