Most mothers will struggle at some point with at least one of the following scenarios, all of which involve food:
- the child who, after eating a bowl of breakfast cereal, either becomes argumentative or hyperactive, only to crash into depression or fatigue after an hour.
- the adult who develops a headache after lunch, especially fast food.
- a toddler with recurrent ear infections and nonstop congestion year-round
Reading labels on foods can help to identify additives that may be a problem, like high fructose corn syrup causing a “sugar high,” or synthetic ingredients triggering headaches. But often that isn’t enough; finding conclusive patterns of what causes an issue is nearly impossible with the extensive and often vague ingredient lists for most foods. Whole, unprocessed foods are simpler and limit the variables, but this, too, is often inconclusive.
Keeping a food journal is an effective way to spot patterns. With my own son, I found about a dozen suspect foods but eliminating them wasn’t resolving his issues. Tests revealed he was sensitive to more than 50 common food items and many neighborhood trees.
We can’t just eliminate 50 common food items for a child; he still has to eat.
Enter what I call the “wheelbarrow concept.” On any building site, workers haul loads of rocks, dirt, and bricks. No load is particularly heavy, and the workers continue all day until the work is finished. While it’s tempting to want to just make one heavy load of everything, that load overwhelms the tools and strength available. Essentially, what the wheelbarrow concept explains is that no worker can haul rocks, bricks, and dirt together in his wheelbarrow without it tipping over or breaking.
It translates to food this way: many people, adults and children alike, don’t handle milk products well, but they can have them in moderation. Sugar is a burden but not normally a problem. Corn products are unnoticeable in nearly everything. However, combine those ingredients in a bowl of Frosted Flakes, and the food sensitive person’s wheelbarrow tips over. Hyperactivity and emotions become nearly uncontrollable. The very predictable crash happens about an hour later, with apathy and sometimes severe depression lasting for several hours. The reaction is totally out of proportion to the ingredients and not always obviously related. Add a cheeseburger and a soda for the next meal (more corn syrup and milk products along with the related beef proteins), and the body begins protecting itself by producing mucus which plugs the ears and inflames the gut.
Essentially, this is negative synergy at work. Several items that aren’t significant stressors on their own combine together to make a big reaction.
Now think about the ramifications. To a person with grass allergies, eating wheat bread during hayfever season could be life threatening. Recognizing that it may not be one ingredient, but a combination of seemingly benign ones, helps to understand why that person’s wheelbarrow has tipped over. It also leads us to the solution.
The only way to strengthen a weak muscle, organ or system is to give it a rest. Problem foods and exposures must be separated. Rotation allows an overactive immune system to heal while still eating.
Since the body takes approximately four days to completely clear a meal from its system, nothing is eaten more than once every 4 days. Different grains go onto separate days, as do meats, vegetables and fruits. Sweeteners are separated out into different types. The idea is to give the body time to clear small problems singly and not overload it with troublesome combinations. It also ensures eating a varied diet, which begins building the immune system to handle food more effectively.
This requires a plan to administer, and the discipline that goes into actually accomplishing it is admittedly huge. But the benefits are worth the investment. The longer you can maintain it the better the results. Beginning after a few weeks, inflammation and congestion begin to disappear, excess weight drops off, learning difficulties can clear up, and seasonal allergies lessen or go away. The food budget has probably gone up, but the medical line item goes dramatically down.
“Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.”
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