Advice please - am I doing right by my children?


Nicola-la

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Hi - I've been feeding my children (girls, aged 3 and 7) the same food as me. They tend to have a little more fruit than me.

 

I follow the same principles, palm sized protein, added fat, lots of veggies. A little fruit (always eaten with meals and not as a snack)

 

A little background - I have tried to make the healthiest choices for them throughout their whole lives. I breast fed for as long as possible and have limited "treats" etc. I thought I was feeding them well.  Until recently I cooked mainly with (all organic) brown rice, whole grains, legumes, veggies, lots of tinned tomatoes. Sometimes fish. I cooked with meat occasionally and because of the price I would make one piece last for several meals. They did eat sweets (candy) and chips (fries) but only as a treat once a week or at birthday parties.  I can see now that it was very carb heavy, but I thought that it was healthy. We are considered by friends to have the 'healthiest' diet around. So, why is my 7 year old daughter fatigued often. Why do her joints ache in the morning. Why does she look pale and drawn with dark rings round her eyes? Why does she continue to get eczema (mild) when I don't use harsh chemicals in the house or bathroom? (I have now stopped using "pure organic oils" on their skin (which contained seed oils) and have switched to coconut oil and to wash with.) Why does she have sudden rageful tantrums followed by tears and deep sadness where she feels "bad" and then lacks energy all day (or the next)? (She is generally a very well behaved, respectful, interested, helpful, happy girl)
 

Anyway - this has been an amazing learning curve.  When I decided to quit sugar (end of March) she was so interested in my experiment that she chose to do it with me asking if sugar was making her tired too. However as a child, she has occasionally been in environments when sugary "treats" are on offer. I have said to her that I want her to learn to make the best choices. I've told her what I would prefer her choices to be but that I wouldn't be cross if she chose to have the ice lolly or bright coloured drink that day (birthday parties mainly).

Now and then she has either become suddenly very fatigued, or has had a difficult to control tantrum where she feels like she can't stop and she scares herself. She has RAGE and becomes aggressive. Then she gets a 'downer' where she feels really sad and tearful and generally 'bad' for how she behaved and the next day - no energy, headache, fatigue. I wish I had been writing it down so I could know for sure if this always happened after a 'treat'. But Mama's instincts tell me that it is the sugar and/or additives causing it.

She has food allergies (ige measurable) to Dairy & Egg (discovered at 6 months old when trying for the first time) and Peanut (Epipen) (discovered at 2years old)

 

My 3 year old has asthma, and is often 'under the weather' with colds and other viruses. She is allergic to pineapple and kiwi evidenced by a rash when eating. I also suspect dairy has caused her to have eczema so I have kept her off it most of the time. I also keep her off eggs because the eldest is allergic but am going to reintroduce those now.

 

So we gave up sugar (the 3 year old has no choice but to comply!) and we now limit fruit. Then after experimenting I noticed I was ill after eating wheat which lead me to research it, discover that grains in general might be bad and when I found Whole30, I stopped eating them all straight away. 

 

My 7 year old seems to be taking to it like a duck to water. She is used to having to eat differently from her friends. She loves experimenting and trying new food. She loves our cooked dinners for breakfast!

My 3 year old is getting used to it all and has even stopped moaning 'but mummy that isn't breakfast, it's dinner'.

 

My concern is this. My 3 year old (always stubborn, difficult and with a tendency to whinge, always insisting she is hungry and demanding food or trying to sneak some from the kitchen - this resulted in me installing the longest baby gate in the world last summer to keep her out of the kitchen part of my open plan family room!) has been getting more and more grumpy. She whinges constantly and is as usual always demanding more food. The thing is, when I was filling them up with loads of whole grains I knew she wasn't hungry and could ignore her pleas in confidence. Now though she seems tired and even grumpier and angrier than ever. I have been hungry so perhaps she is. She has seemed to have a cold this week. She is now crying when going to pre-school (she's never done that) but they say she is fine all day. Then when I pick her up she starts whinging again. Is she hungry? Is she detoxing?

 

This morning they had pan griddled steak with onions and brocoli. Lemon in hot water. Added fats in the way of coconut oil and olive oil. Roasted vegetable sauce. I gave the 3 year old a spoonful of almond butter and some frozen roast root veg (she ate like icepops) on the way to preschool just in case she was hungry. She seems weak. Doesn't want to walk so much and is becoming clingy. Very out of character.

 

Sorry this is so long. I just don't want to make my kids suffer just because I want to experiment.

 

My motivation for doing this is life long ill health (me), allergies and asthma etc (them) and a myriad of ill health in my immediate family including type1 diabetes, type 2 diabetes, lymphoma, ulcerative colitis, connective tissue disorders. I desperately want to avoid the same health problems in my children and of course would like to finally feel well myself.

 

I would love to hear from people in a similar situation or from moderators who can reassure me that this is safe for my kids. 

 

Although I have been cutting stuff out since end of march, I am officially on day 6 of the whole30.

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I have a daughter that often claims "I'm STARVING!" but it's usually after she has eaten quite a bit of food.  So I give her the 'apple' test.  If she's hungry, she's allowed to eat as much apples, bananas or carrots she wants.  Usually when she claims she is starving, she won't want an apple.  She usually wants a corn tortilla.  I think it's junk carb cravings.  Her tummy is full, but she still wants something (sugar dragon?)  Maybe offer your kids that?  Or have some roasted sweet potatoes or plantains on hand in case they are still hungry.  I think they should be allowed to eat when hungry, just as long as it isn't junk.  When they have free choice of healthy food, they seem to regulate themselves.

 

Anyways, I understand your concern about your kids not having energy.  My daughter doesn't seem to have that problem.  They might be detoxing, but depending on what they eat at school, they may not be going through a full scale whole 30 detox (unless you are packing their lunch as well?)  I hope someone else responds with some suggestions.  Good luck.

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Thanks AllyB.

 

Of course I pack their lunches too! I don't trust anyone else! Today they have salad with olive oil and lemon dressing. Roast beef slices and "sushi" (savoy cabbage leaves - we can't stand nori). Olives. Slices of apple and pear. Slices of green banana.

 

The apple test will never work! My kids would always say yes to fruit. But I do use the same principle and if she says no to what I offer, then I know she isn't that hungry. I just felt more sure they weren't hungry when they had eaten loads of brown rice and as much fruit as they wanted!

 

I know it's an adjustment but I want to make sure I don't make them suffer unnecessarily or worse, do anything harmful for them. 

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It does sound like a food sensitivity or intolerance is going on here, so I would do as AllyB suggests and be rigorous about eliminating all of the culprits completely and doing a real whole30 with them. This means no off-plan foods at school or at birthday parties for 30 days, otherwise the irritants won't have a chance to get out of their systems to really see what is going on. I see you are packing their lunches. good.

 

On hunger, if you offer foods you want them to eat and they turn them down yet still claim hunger, that's a good clue that they are not starving. That said, do make sure you offer plenty, and include both protein and fat along with carbs (think mini-meal) when you do. Don't get caught up in an adult idea of what is the right amount of food. Kids generally go through spurts and shifts where they may eat A TON OF FOOD for a few days, then bird-like portions after. Thats ok. Just make sure they know healthy food in generous portions is always available when they need it. you are doing the right thing by these kids. keep it up!

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My youngest two had a really hard time with the detox - my 4.5 year old daughter spent day 3 (I think) laying on the floor most of the day, and it took a full 2 weeks for her to stop crying about the foods I made. She has now adjusted pretty well, and while my kids do still have regular snacks, they aren't constantly hungry like they were in the beginning. If they are hungry immediately after a meal, I offer more veggies (like yours, they would always eat fruit!).

My oldest (6.5yo girl) is, for the first time in her life, self-regulating. She is one to eat until she is sick, so this is HUGE for her (we haven't made a big deal of it or said anything to her, but my hubby and I have both noticed)

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It does sound like a food sensitivity or intolerance is going on here, so I would do as AllyB suggests and be rigorous about eliminating all of the culprits completely and doing a real whole30 with them. This means no off-plan foods at school or at birthday parties for 30 days, otherwise the irritants won't have a chance to get out of their systems to really see what is going on. I see you are packing their lunches. good.

 

On hunger, if you offer foods you want them to eat and they turn them down yet still claim hunger, that's a good clue that they are not starving. That said, do make sure you offer plenty, and include both protein and fat along with carbs (think mini-meal) when you do. Don't get caught up in an adult idea of what is the right amount of food. Kids generally go through spurts and shifts where they may eat A TON OF FOOD for a few days, then bird-like portions after. Thats ok. Just make sure they know healthy food in generous portions is always available when they need it. you are doing the right thing by these kids. keep it up!

Thank you for your advice. They have been doing the whole30 100% with me for a week now. I had in mind that I would let them eat white potatoes but I haven't yet. I have ordered extra sweet potatoes in my veg box this week. I do make sure I add fat an protein to everything they eat even if it's a slice of apple. So I think I just need to persevere with it and hope her weariness eases soon. (It has certainly hit me sideways - I feel like I have flu)

I think I will make sure I cook more root veggies with each meal just to be sure they can fill up nicely. Does that sound ok?

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My youngest two had a really hard time with the detox - my 4.5 year old daughter spent day 3 (I think) laying on the floor most of the day, and it took a full 2 weeks for her to stop crying about the foods I made. She has now adjusted pretty well, and while my kids do still have regular snacks, they aren't constantly hungry like they were in the beginning. If they are hungry immediately after a meal, I offer more veggies (like yours, they would always eat fruit!).

My oldest (6.5yo girl) is, for the first time in her life, self-regulating. She is one to eat until she is sick, so this is HUGE for her (we haven't made a big deal of it or said anything to her, but my hubby and I have both noticed)

Thank you Haren for your post. It's good to know it passes and we are already a week through. Are you still doing the Whole30?

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We are on day 25, so almost done! I'm looking forward to some reintros, because our grocery bills this month have been crazy! Hoping peanut butter makes it through ;)

I should have added that my oldest was already gluten and dairy free (non-IgE allergic) so part of my motivation in doing this was to see if the other kids also need to be DF and GF. I think that's why my oldest didn't have as hard of a time with the detox.

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Ooh, How are you feeling?

Better today than yesterday :) I posted my pity party rant, but actually woke up today feeling pretty good!

My biggest struggle is not snacking after lunch. I'm not usually hungry per-se, but I want to eat. It's frustrating and I'm focusing my last week of whole30 on breaking that habit! Might have to go longer than 30 days, but I'm ok with that.

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Better today than yesterday :) I posted my pity party rant, but actually woke up today feeling pretty good!

My biggest struggle is not snacking after lunch. I'm not usually hungry per-se, but I want to eat. It's frustrating and I'm focusing my last week of whole30 on breaking that habit! Might have to go longer than 30 days, but I'm ok with that.

 

Good to hear you are feeling good. I always want something like a slice of fruit after eating such rich protein meals. So I allow myself a few berries or a slice or two of apple. As long as it is with a meal I think that's ok. To be honest I am loving eating fruit again even in such small quantities. I was always a "there's no such thing as too much fruit" kind of person believing it to be ultimately good for you. Then I learned about the harmful effects of fructose so I quit all sugar including fruit. So when I started Whole30 I hadn't eaten any fruit for more than three weeks (from someone who ate fruit all day long). Now it is a wonderful treat.

Another good "dessert" for me is slices of cucumber spread with cashew butter - yum yum soooooo sweet.

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My kids beg for food all the time, regardless of how much they have eaten.  My daycare providers think I don't feed my kids.  What they are begging for, of course, is noncompliant foods from naive individuals.  I tell my after school babysitter to take a look in my kids' lunch boxes next time they beg - she will see a lunch box full of uneaten lunch which she can then tell them to eat.  If they are still hungry after that, I will let them have a paleo treat or two.  Hungry beyond that means sit down for a real compliant meals.

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Update. 3 year old still whinging constantly. Always asking for food. Always has. I was worried that I was forcing her to do something that was making her uncomfortable but I realise now that she's just 3. I've been asking other mother's of toddlers and they are all acting the same way. You'd think I'd know by now seeing as this is the 4th toddler in less than 9 years! If I wasn't doing the Whole30 I wouldn't even be questioning it. I doubted myself for a bit cos I was feeling so rough. I'm starting to feel a bit better so hopefully the good stuff will kick in for all of us soon.

 

7 year old went to birthday party and sleepover on Friday. The mum was very good and kept Millie compliant even though I think she thinks I am mad. They were making their own pizzas (putting toppings on shop bought bases) so I made a base with potato, cauliflower and coconut flour, bound with some chicken fat (she can't eat eggs). I know that for us that would be a SWYPO food and is not compliant but M doesn't have 42 years of bad habits and associations to break!

The mum texted and asked if M could have chips (fries). I said not technically but if she seems upset then just this once. M knows they are off limits but I didn't want to distress her if her resolve crumbled (this has always been her choice to follow the plan with me). Anyway the mum quickly texted back and said M didn't want any chips (wahoo, she's a determined little 7 year old)

 

The mum still put sweets in her party bag...??? They are in the cupboard. Love that gal!! She said to me yesterday that she has started to not miss cereal and she prefers having cooked meals for breakfast now!

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