Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Chew On This

This is a "I'm on my soapbox post".  You've been warned.

Something that has bothered me for quite some time has come to a head this basketball season.  With kids' sports seems to come a special "snack" (what we would call a treat at our house) at the end of each game.  It has bothered me, but I don't like to make a {big} ruckus, so I've kept my head down and just participated.  No more.

I read an article a few months ago...I don't remember where.  A magazine?  Facebook post?  Another blog?  Can't remember.  Anyway, it was written by a concerned mom who was trying to get her child's sports association to ban junky treats and instead give the kids nutritious fare.  (remember when one mom was chosen to bring oranges to soccer?  I do).  The problem is, everyone has a different idea of "nutritious".  I don't buy all organic produce, and for some people, that is one step away from insanity. I'm practically killing my kids.   However, my kids don't drink juice, pop, or eat much candy.  Many people we know think we are one step away from child abusers-kill-joys at best.

I know everyone will be completely thrown off guard to find out that LMM has diagnosis of ADHD.  Quite a shocker.  Not.  Anyway, it doesn't define him, just like his sensory processing disorder doesn't define him.  It is who he is, and it just means we need to find other avenues to help him function in situations other children don't find hard.  I share this because maybe some of the things I've found can help other parents.  Although it doesn't define him, we felt like finding out for sure would help us decide how to best help him be in control of himself and be able to focus.  I'm not going to take this particular opportunity to discuss the pros and cons of medicating.  I have some strong opinion on this (another HUGE shock) but that's not what this is about.  It is about diet.

After doing some research and working with a psychologist, we have decided to modify his diet and give him a natural supplement.  We have seen some great changes!  In fact, he has been so much better focused that he has started kindergarten!  One thing we kept seeing over and over was that food dyes, sugars, processed foods, high starch foods, and fruits can all trigger ADHD symptoms.  They are not what is best for the brain and they can really affect these kids.  Another interesting thing was that a lot of dairy can also aggravate the system.

We switched to whole milk, absolutely nothing low-fat, and no hydrogenated oils within the last year.  This is also way better for his brain.  High protein diets (but not peanut butter) work well for many ADHD kids.

LMM now has very limited dairy, very very few processed foods or white starches, a reduced amount of fruit, more veggies, and more meat/eggs/tree nuts.  He also drinks as much water as he can consume.  We've seen a great change in him just from that.  So much so, in fact, he doesn't take his supplement unless he is going to church or preschool (he's finishing out the year along with doing kindergarten at home).

But then basketball season started.  We pay $8/kid to the concession stand for the season and after each game they get to pick out $1.00 worth of garbage, I mean "snacks", before they go home.  I didn't think much of it till the first game when I saw what the choices were.  HOLY COW.  They have a choice of about 20 kinds of candy like Snickers, M&Ms, sour gummy candies, fruit snacks (which are very often even worse for kids than candy), and there are about 10 kinds of chips.  Along with that they get a juice box.  Most of them are kool-aid type things.  Some are the Roarin' Waters that have "less sugars".  I CRINGE every time someone tells me those are better for kids.  That or something sugar-free.  If they are going to stick it in packaging of any kind and call it sugar-free or less sugar means they put some HORRID chemical in there to make it taste better.  They don't encourage the kids to have pop.  Well, that is at least a good thing.

At the first game I realized we never should have paid the money, I'm not sure why we did.  I guess because the coaches said "bring $8" and I blindly agreed.  But there was a silver lining.  There was some fruit and I asked if they could have that instead.  I guess I grew a third eye, but the lady said "um...I guess so".  That was for LMM's 8:30 game-I think looking back now they have it there in case someone didn't have breakfast.  It sits next to the Pop Tarts.  When it came time for Snug to go up, there was still fruit and when he asked for that HE had a third eye, but the lady (different one for each game) then said "Wow.  Yes."  I was a happy mama.  I felt my $1/per game could have bought WAY more fruit than they were getting, but for LMM who now has his fruit consumption limited this was a big treat, and for either boy they like to walk up with the rest of the team and get something.  Who wouldn't?

Second game rolls around, and I have to say after doing that Saturday alone (#1 had SWAT) AND it being picture day which meant and extra 2 hours there and super cranky kids, I wasn't feeling my most gracious.  LMM had his game, got his fruit, and we were good.  Snug had his game, and there was no more fruit.  I could see him standing there getting really red in the face so I went over.  He had asked for fruit and they said "no, pick something else".  They were annoyed he was taking so long, so I tried to explain he didn't eat any of the other food choices they had.  She said "how about just 2 juice boxes.  All kids drink those".  I asked if he could just have his dollar back for this week and they denied that flat out.  Finally the lady there said "well, what DOES he eat?".  Well, the mama bear in me got all riled, up.  I'm not proud of it, but I, being very tired, very human, and very sinful replied "Eggs.  Milk.  Water. Veggies.  Fruit.  Real food".  The lady then looks at my 7 year old and snarkily says "want a bottle of water?"  He then had tears in his eyes.  I felt SO BAD.  I wanted to just give in and let him have whatever.  But he had 3 sibling standing there, one of whom REALLY shouldn't be eating that stuff.  They have a popcorn machine and they let him have a bag of that, which I felt was a fair compromise.

Next year, we are NOT sending in the money.  I'll have little carrots and hummus, cut up fruit (maybe even something special and off-season we don't get in the winter), or mixed nuts.  When it comes to baseball in the spring, same deal.  We won't be on the list to bring "snack" and we won't be taking any from other families when they bring it.  We'll bring our own.

Here's the deal.  That junk is SO bad for their bodies.  Do they get it sometimes?  Yes.  Usually when I'm too tired to fight or afraid of ruining a relationship with someone.  I hate it.  Do my kids ever eat chips?  Yes, once in awhile.  Certainly not once a week.  Do they get juice boxes?  They have in the past, but I won't be buying any.  At a birthday party they might get some (really watered down) lemonade.  We see birthdays as special occasions and know that they will get more junk than normal.  But that is part of the fun, something to look forward to.  If they have a steady diet of junk, then they just absent-mindedly eating it.  Sometimes they get a little (again, WATERED down) hot chocolate after playing out in the snow, but more often than not it is hot tea.

And we're not perfect and I try not to look down on parents who daily fill their kids with sugars and preservatives.  But sugars are literally cancer foods.  Preservatives do NOTHING good for the GI tract, brain, or bowel.  Artificial colors are terrible for you.  I'd rather they enjoy a little on their birthday cake than have it all the time.

Lest you think our kids hate us for this, they don't.  Snug said he was trying not to cry because "I know mom that that stuff is bad for kids and can make them sick.  I wanted you to be proud of me".  Oh buddy, I am.

Here's another thing.  Maybe you don't see those things as bad.  I've heard so many parents say "oh, but they need to refuel after the game."  They're not playing varsity here people.  Here's an example.  You can calculate for your own kid/sport here:  http://www.self.com/calculatorsprograms/calculators/caloriesburned/basketball/result?weightPounds=&duration=&activity=&met=8.0&submit=
(on the far left near the bottom you can pick your sport, if the link doesn't work, let me know)

I put in LMM's weight, sport, and duration (he is on the floor about 18minutes).  In his game he burns, an average, of 45.72 calories.  A juice box alone averages 90 calories!!!  That includes the 100% juice kind.  I found my calorie counter on http://caloriecount.about.com/
That doesn't even take into account the snack he'd get with it.  Lets say he picks fruit snacks.  That would be 70.  So now he has burned 45.72 and consumed 160.  That really doesn't make sense.  Also, there are ZERO nutritional benefits to either of those foods.

If I give him a banana it is 110 calories, but it is also full of vitamins, fiber, and not processed.  Switch it up to almonds and the serving size I give him is 90 calories...and almonds are a GREAT brain food for him.  They help him settle down and we've added those and walnuts to his daily diet.

Stepping off my soapbox.  I know I'm "that mom" but my kids are worth it.


cclauson said...
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cclauson said...

When I think back to my own childhood, my mom was you. Albeit we did not have as many organized activities or available "junk foods" back then, and my mom was very much out of the mainstream and there was a lot of stuff we did not eat: pop, candy, chips, ice cream. Those things were treats and were treated as such. My own kids got more goodies than I ever did as a child, but none of them had any dietary or behavioral issues. Still! I tried to hold the line on the junk food. Stand your ground. Take your own snacks.