Category Archives: Food

How far is too far?

When you have a child who needs help, you will do anything for your child. This applies to all children. If your kid shows potential as an artist, parents will provide supplies, enroll the child in classes, or contact a friend who owns a gallery for advice. Parents of children with developmental delays are no different. Well, maybe a little different. We will really go the distance…and sometimes that distance may be too far.

Is it too far when we drive our children to appointments with therapists that take 3 hours round-trip — even when there a great therapists in our towns? We do this because our children have a better rapport with the 3-hour-drive therapist. Is it too far when have our entire family eliminate gluten from the diet because we have been told that our child has a drug-like response to gluten? We do this because we believe our dietitian and because the whole family goes on stand-by together.

In this vein of perhaps going too far, I took Isabella for her virgin neurofeedback session. The drive was not taxing (except for the traffic on the way home) and I do not plan on asking any other family members to use neurofeedback. Here’s why I’m not certain if I’ve gone too far. Among the forms that I was asked to complete about Isabella was a symptom check list. I hesitantly checked hyperphagia. It’s something that I know a bit about as a dietitian — it’s an inability to know when to stop eating. I also checked impulsivity, not hesitantly. Combined, hyperphagia and impulsivity are a bad combination. The result:  grabbing 7 cookies from a tray after eating a large meal and proceeding to eat all of them within minutes.

So, the MD who administered the neurofeedback informed me that its impact would last a few hours following this first session. Next time, the positive effects would last longer. We got home, I went upstairs for about 2 minutes or less. I came down to find Isabella surreptitiously stuffing a box into recycling. As I came closer, I realized that she had eaten all 3 (as in 3 children) of the chocolate treats…in that 2 minutes or less. Her coat and backpack were still on. I guess we’ll wait until a few sessions to see if the positive fall-out of neurofeedback lasts for more than the car ride home. After all, we did sit in traffic.

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School planing meeting

We just had a planning meeting for Isabella’s eduction with her school and caseworker. These are the meetings that I dreaded. In the past, I was known to break down sobbing or run out the meeting or both. I have not done that in a very long time. This meeting was about testing. Okay, for those of you who have taken standardized tests, these tests are much worse. Think about how many people who you know say, “Iam not a good standardized test tester.” Well, no kid with a learning disability is a good standardized test taker. They completely suck. These tests are developed to measure our kids’ weaknesses, not strengths. They are so demeaning.

Because Isabella has made such fabulous progress this school year, we can postpone that dreadful testing. She’s doing homework nightly for the first time. She’s answering comprehension questions correctly. She’s generalizing. This is perhaps the most thing to happen. Generalizing is a term that special ed teachers love to throw around. It means: taking what you learn in school and applying it to real life. Reading in class to reading street signs. Doing math in school to setting a table. She wants to read at home and does. And like many tweens, she knows how to do stuff on the computer and the Wii that her parents do not!

It’s all good! Could it be the diet?

Making gluten-free cupcakes

It’s the annual Feast at Isabella’s school and she thought it would be a good idea to have a gluten-free treat for her class. Well, probably really for her, but she’s a generous soul. So we embarked upon the baking. Per usual, my kitchen does not have all the necessary ingredients. No butter. Isabella offered to go around the corner to buy the butter. She has never gone to the store. It involved crossing a street.

She asked how much butter cost. Do not know, but it must be less than five bucks. Off she went. I looked at the clock. And she was back. With the butter. She ran into Rose. She told me that she spoke to Rose, but not for too long because she didn’t want me to think that she didn’t remember the way home. Good job. I can now put away the vodka.

We are making gluten-free lemon cupcakes that uses chestnut flour. They will be topped with coconut icing. Remember the lemon coconut cake from Entenmann’s? I do. (That was from my childhood, way before my gluten-free living.) The cupcakes are from a mix. Not my usual way of baking. But these are really, really good. I’m sure all the kids will love them.

Isabella did a great job creaming the butter and sugar. It can take a while with a hand mixer. I didn’t feel like lugging out my Kitchen Aide. The box lists water to make the batter, but doesn’t include water in the instructions. I added it, of course, because the batter was like cement without it. We used silicone cupcake holders. I love these. No more paper. Saving the planet one cupcake at a time. Oh, that would be a nice tagline.

Throughout the baking process, we have tuned into Glee on hulu. Thanks to my 15-year-old musical-lover (how did that happen with a mother who is a die hard Pink Floyd fan?), I am now addicted to this show. High school was never this interesting and fun. I find myself laughing out load…alone. That is always a good thing. Does anyone else else notice the uncanny resemblance between Mr. Shuester and Justin Timberlake? The hair, the moves, the voice, the bod. They’re the same. Reminds of Michael Jackson and Diana Ross. Did you ever see them in the same room together?

Okay, the coconut icing smells like dirty socks. It’s too old and unappetizing. Are the cupcakes okay without icing? Kids usually want the super sugary part. What to do? We found a box of Cherrybrook Kitchen icing. Fabulous! Success!

School & nutrition

Finally, a parent-teacher conference where the teacher didn’t recount all of Isabella’s shortcomings. How they have tried every math program available, including the one that I insisted on, and have had zero success. How her inability to stay on topic hinders all of her attempts at class participation. How reading, well, reading — Orton-Gilingham should be working; it works with every other child with dyslexia. I dreaded those meetings. Truth be told, I avoided them. I let the teachers phone me, so they couldn’t see my stricken face. This year, however, I filled out the form to attend the conference and remembered (rather than conveniently forgot) to attend. And, I’m glad I did.

Here’s what I heard. We are so proud of Isabella. She asks pertinent questions during current events. She answers all the comprehension questions about the book the class is reading correctly. She completes the telling time sheets correctly. She wrote in her journal. What? She wrote in her journal? She has a journal? That she writes in. Last entry: “My favorite thing about Halloween is giving the candy to the kids. I saw all the costumes.” Whatever you’re doing at home is working. Um, what’s different at home? Nothing concerning teaching. We’re a normal, disorganized family with two other kids at home. As part of Isabella’s nutritional healing, she’s taking a sort of power drink every morning. It has coconut milk, eggs, primrose, flax, and safflower oils, and phosphatidylcholine. She drinks it, along with a bevy of supplements, with no problem. In fact, she asks it.

Nutrition can change a child’s ability to learn, focus, and behave.

“Power” Drink (from Body Bio & Patricia Kane)

Mix everything together:

2 organic eggs

8 ounces coconut milk

1 tablespoon primrose oil

1 tablespoon 4:1 sunflower:flax oil*

E-lyte electrolyte drink*

liquid stevia to taste

1 tablespoon phospatidylcholine*

*available from BodyBio through a health professioanl

For more information about this potentially behavior-changing drink and nutrition counseling for children with ADHD, contact me at http://www.lauralagano.com.

Food & Mood

Halloween marks the anniversary of a bad scene. Many years ago Isabella apparently ate a ton of candy while trick or treating. I had sent her with her sister who was as diligent as an older sister can be on Halloween. The next morning Isabella had one of those outer body experiences akin to the Exorcist. This was not your normal tantrum. I made an emergency phone call on a Sunday to her neurologist. Though he is open minded, he is not particularly cutting edge. His estimation: it’s not necessarily the sugar in the candy, it’s the chemicals. I started googling. A lecture was upcoming for the Feingold Association. Ben Feingold was the reason I went into nutrition in the first place. Wasn’t it probable, not just possible, that food affected mood, behavior, and learning. My daughter’s conventional neurologist thought so. Where had I been those first years of Isabella’s diagnosis (more on that another time)?

So this Halloween and every Halloween following that one, Isabella still does some trick or treating, but not too much. She makes sure that we have candy for her without artificial colors and flavors and mostly dark chocolate. She sits on the stoop in her witch costume — mostly borrowed items for my and her sister’s wardrobes — happily giving out candy to the children in our town and their guests. She still has the occasional outburst, but not at the intensity of the one many Halloweens ago.