Note from The Grain Girl: Today’s post is written by my dear friend Cindy, who has poured out her heart and soul to share the story of her and her sons’ journey toward health – and healing – by simply eating “God’s food.” Cindy’s testimony is powerful and I pray that everyone who reads it will be encouraged and motivated. I tell everyone who feels they don’t have time, money, or motivation to change their lifestyle that if my friend Cindy can do it, anyone can. She has endured an intensely difficult struggle, and won. Praise God for her courage and faith in him!
Be sure to read through to the end so you don’t miss a word of her amazing journey.
Thank you, Cindy, for sharing your story, and for being an example, so that others may also find health and healing through God’s perfect provision.
A TESTIMONY OF FAITH, HEALING, AND HEALTH
Last night I had the opportunity to help a lady whom I had never met, but had spoken to on the phone, to try and show her some ways she could make a difference in her family by changing how they eat. It made me think back to my journey in this area over the past 3 years.
During 2006, I was trying to figure out how to help my son who was having trouble at school. I knew he had behavior issues before he started Kindergarten, but it eventually came to a head in 3rd grade. Teachers would say things like, “He has a wonderful heart but he has sudden outbursts that go against his normal personality.” These outbursts would sometimes involve pushing other kids. They would just happen. I had tried multiple different things trying to help him. The school system even had him tested/evaluated for various things and were recommending I put him on prescription medications even though he was not diagnosed with anything –for this particular teacher her only solution was to give him a pill and it would make her life easier here at school.
November of 2006 was when I went to my knees in prayer (yet again) and cried out to the Lord to please help me know what to do for this precious boy.
I distinctly remember what I can only say was the Holy Spirit saying it’s the food. I “Googled” diet and behavior and was amazed that one of the leading hits was a website that specialized in helping people take the “bad” stuff out of their food to positively impact children with ADHD and ADD (neither of which my son has by the way). I learned that research has shown that the shift in America to processed food tracks consistently with lots of health problems, but very clearly tracks with the sky rocketing of behavior based health issues – ADD and ADHD to name a couple.
A few days ago when I mentioned to my son that I had been asked by a teacher at school to help a mom with a son having behavior problems similar to what my son used to have my son said, “Well you are the one to do that.” The next day he asked if he could share his story with this mom when she came by. He has never spoken to others about this journey we have been on; he likes to just say, “Mom has gone organic.” My son is now 11 years old and a 6th grader at our local public middle school. He shared with this mom the following thoughts:
· How he was in the principal’s office 3 times in the first half of 3rd grade year when all he was trying to do was get along with everyone
· He felt yucky inside all the time
· Nobody wanted to play with him
· He would get angry and frustrated very easy
· He never felt like doing anything but video games (which I had been limiting trying to help him)
He then proceeded to say that his mom, “decided to take out artificial stuff, ingredients we cannot pronounce, and things other people make in factories.” He shared how it took about a year but then he had lots of people who would play with him at recess, he never went back to the principal’s office (except to give hugs), now feels good, ran on the middle school cross country team and, his quote “it’s all because we eat what God made.”
My precious son has Sensory Integration Disorder – basically his nervous system would not process input from the 5 senses at the same rate most others do. This input would build up in his body and he was continually in a constant state of “on edge” – like you feel when you are under tremendous stress and it doesn’t take much to push you over the edge – which would happen routinely at school. We hope and pray that this disorder is something he will out grow but it has been obvious it has not. When I say obvious what I mean is I can tell he still has it when the following situation occurs: well meaning people give him a bag of M&M’s as a treat, if he doesn’t have the willpower and decides to eat them then he has significant physical/emotional symptoms that are from the Sensory Integration Disorder. Every time this happens, it reaffirms that what I am doing with our diet is critical to his health and wellbeing.
So my journey started November of 2006 by taking out all preservatives, artificial colors/flavorings and even some natural foods that could cause this behavior. We had 6 weeks of “detoxification” while all of our bodies rid itself of these bad things. After the 6 weeks, I could add back in things like apples/strawberries one at time and see if anything happened with him. Today he (and we) eats anything made by God as close to that natural state that I can realistically make it.
Just so you know, I am a single working mom of 2 boys – age 11 and 8 — and yes, I make everything we eat. This is just how our family eats – not because of my son’s behavior but because I have been convinced that God knows our bodies best and we should eat what God provides.
“How do I do it” is a question I frequently get. You know when something is a priority its amazing how you can find time to fit in the activity – that is how I look at feeding my family naturally without processed food. It’s just how we have to eat.
One of my goals was to not have my children feel “deprived” so I promised them and myself I would learn how to make all their favorite things with “good” ingredients. My children do not miss out – instead of those yuckily processed Cosmic Brownies that they used to eat, I make brownies from scratch. By making everything I can control the ingredients. Every once in a while the boys will say something like I wish I could have “x” and I will say okay let’s find a recipe and make it and we do.
My key kitchen tools are: bread machine, grain mill, deep freezer, crock pot and my Kitchen Aid mixer. I make all of our bread (using a mill to grind wheat – it’s as easy as pour in the grain, turn on the mill and get freshly ground flour -MAGIC). I love to make bread with my mixer and hand knead it but reality due to time constraints is that usually I rely on my bread machine – I can put in all the ingredients, press start and in 3 hours 45 minutes we have freshly made bread or I can set the timer and its ready for breakfast.
My crock-pot is a great friend so that the meat portion of dinner is ready – I have meat ready, bread ready and then all I have to do each night is come up with the healthy side dishes. We eat rice a couple of times a week, fresh veggies, sautéed veggies and salads. I also participate in a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) which is a program with a local farmer where I receive a box of locally grown vegetables every other week which keeps me well stocked with fresh veggies, helps us try new things and adds a ton of nutrition into our regular meals. I minimize the use of veggies from a can since so much nutrition is lost in the processing process – trust me I know, my work takes me inside of manufacturing plants!
I make waffles, pancakes, tortillas, bread, and rolls; every time I make some I bag a few for the freezer. That allows me to have some in the moments when I fail to plan for a meal. I don’t write out a plan for the week but I have a general plan in my mind and I always know what tomorrow’s menu will be so I can plan ahead. Not planning is the one thing that could cause me to feel like we have to go out to eat or drive thru somewhere. I even take coolers of food to their soccer/flag football games so that we are not tempted to buy snacks there – I think every time I can provide healthy alternatives to nachos and hot dogs we are better off.
A few tips that work for me are:
· Each Sunday the boys and I create a veggie tray that stays in the fridge all week
· I keep apples, pears and strawberries in the fridge at all times
· I make granola bars, cut them and put them in lunch baggies for those quick need to grab something as your go out the door
· I make muffins once or twice a week for after school snacks and freeze the leftovers
· I buy fresh lettuce from the local farmers market and keep it in the fridge in a large plastic bowl (lined with paper towels to minimize spoilage) for a quick salad
· I have taught my boys if you cannot pronounce an ingredient we cannot eat it – they also know of a few other things we don’t ever eat even if they can pronounce it!
· I keep the healthiest tortilla chips I can find so that they can take “chips” in their lunch for school (once again so they don’t feel deprived)
· Each week I cook at least one new and different food to keep them trying new things – our latest favorite that yes 2 boys asked for as part of Christmas dinner is drum roll please brussel sprouts (I didn’t think I even liked them but we do)
· I make bulk chicken stock and freeze it both in quart freezer bags and ice trays so that I can pop a cube of chicken stock into rice and other things to intensify the nutritional impact
Another question I get frequently is “Why don’t you just do this for your older son and let your younger son eat whatever he wants” – well the answer to that is my conviction that God designed us and designed our food and no matter what our physical make-up says what God made is what is best for us all. But my younger son has experienced benefits too. He used to require daily breathing treatments, but hasn’t had one in two years! My younger son loves to eat – 5-6 times a day he is asking for fresh fruit, raw veggies, and healthy snacks like that as well as eating large servings at each meal. His body craves the nutritional impact from our food and it shows in his growth, health and energy level.
It’s been a 3-year process but I wouldn’t trade it for the world. For those of you who do not know me, I did not grow up eating this way. We ate lots of “easy cooking” and comfort foods so this has been a big change for me as well. It has been amazing how much better I feel physically and I really do not feel deprived myself. I’ve just found ways to have these things in a more natural God provided way. Those times when I find myself eating some of the “old” foods I can always tell the difference later that day and the next day how I feel. What we feed ourselves truly impacts our physical bodies.
My older son had been encouraging me for a long time to break one bad habit I had – my diet cokes. I had changed everything in how we ate except I didn’t think I could give up my addiction to diet coke – I was drinking 6-8 cans a day. This past summer I quit buying and drinking these (the local Sonic happy hour is wondering where I am!) It was amazing in hindsight that an 11 year old could so clearly see the importance of this one item and not give up until he convinced me to quit.
As you can tell I am passionate about this lifestyle because I have seen so much good come from switching my family to a God-planned, nutritionally dense diet lifestyle. My children have not been on antibiotics in 2 ½ years and my 8 year old 2nd grader hasn’t missed a day of school since starting at elementary school (2 ½ years now). My 6th grader did miss the day after Thanksgiving break with a fever that lasted six hours, but I truly think it was because we were out of town for a week eating things we do not normally eat.
It’s interesting, but as Amy and I discussed this article, I realized how much I had forgotten about the difficulty I had those years before our lifestyle diet change. The Sensory Integration symptoms began showing when my older son had just turned 2; it took two years after that to get a diagnosis and then the trial of a variety of methods to help him – reflux medication since he gagged and threw up regularly (which he actually started taking at age 2 ½ before the diagnosis), occupation therapy to calm his nervous system, physical exercise programs (because this also manifests itself with loss of gross muscle control/lack of coordination), behavior modification programs to just name a few things – all of this took place for 6 long and arduous years in one form or another before I changed what we put in our bodies. By the way, the divorce occurred about 3 years into this 6 years of sensory integration running rampant with him – I think that is important to know since it wasn’t just the emotional impact of divorce manifesting itself thru these symptoms, it was much bigger than that. I also thought you might like to know he now runs cross country for his school and plays flag football and basketball – all are things that come much easier to him these days without a drop of prescription medication. At the same time all of these issues were occurring with my older son, my younger son was dealing with constant asthmatic and upper respiratory attacks which, as I mentioned earlier, required daily breathing treatments. My life was consumed with doctor appointments, meetings, tests, medications, and stress. Today, my life is consumed with simply loving on and enjoying my healthy, joyful boys.
Another benefit that has occurred is that I also am off of a long term medication that my insurance did not cover. I had been on anti-depressants since my younger son was born – between post–partum depression and the intense emotional situation of a divorce I thought prescription medication was the only way to manage life. About a year into this way of eating, God put on my heart to trust him and trust the food I was putting in my body and quit taking the medication. I quit and have been off of it for 2 years now. God’s way really worked for me.
All of these health improvements are an important benefit, but the biggest benefit is seeing the 180 degree change in my son and to hear him say “Just do everything my mom says about food and life becomes great.”
How excellent is thy lovingkindness, O God! therefore the children of men put their trust under the shadow of thy wings. They shall be abundantly satisfied with the fatness of thy house…