Getting Healthy for Good: Yes, that IS my child

By Laurie Marshall

I knew that altering my son’s eating habits would be challenging. It’s not just that there are few takeout choices to turn to on nights when I’m too busy to cook. Okay, yes, that has been tough, but the hardest part has been planning lunches. However, I’m happy to report that it’s proven to be worth the effort.

At first I was focused only on removing wheat from his daily intake. It’s one of the culprits that is most often referred to in online forums, and my husband has some friends who found it to be a source of behavior issues with their son. It was hard to cut out, but not impossible. Due to the number of gluten-free options on store shelves I was able to make a good go of it.

Instead of peanut butter sandwiches I started sending peanut butter with apple slices. I sent gluten-free snacks to his teacher to use in the afternoon as well. But after a couple of weeks gluten-free we just weren’t seeing the results that we were expecting.

After a solid week of unacceptable behavior at school, and a loooooong visit with his teacher and assistant principal, I decided it was time to pull out the big guns. I cut out all of the things recommended in the book I’m reading about food sensitivities. For five days my son was not able to eat any of the following:

  • Milk products
  • Wheat and its by-products like malt and maltodextrin (which is in EVERYTHING!)
  • Peanuts
  • Corn and its by-products like corn syrup (also in everything), corn meal and corn starch
  • Citrus fruits or juices
  • Eggs
  • Food coloring
  • Additives… this is an extensive list

So, now you see my challenge. What do you give a child for lunch who can’t eat bread, peanut butter, boiled eggs, or corn? We started the diet several times, and kept experiencing missteps. One day he accidentally bought milk to go with the lunch I packed. Another day his dad cooked chicken strips for dinner not realizing that the breading on them was off-limits. A mom brought snacks to school and his teacher forgot to check the label…Out of desperation, I started joining him at lunch every day. That finally did the trick.

During the five days his diet was restricted the behavior challenges we were seeing at school practically disappeared. Suddenly, instead of getting notes home or phone calls about hitting or yelling or not doing his work, if a note was made about his day in his behavior notebook it said things like “wouldn’t stay on his mat during rest” or “didn’t get in line after recess”. I can deal with those!! He has become the friendly, respectful, funny kid I thought he was. It’s kind of amazing.

In my own diet efforts I’m still stuck at “If it’s a diet, can I eat more?” stage. I’ve not gained, but I quit losing when I stopped tracking my daily food intake on the Weight Watchers website. The good news is that the work we’ve been doing with the boy-child has led to a decision to de-additive the family’s pantry. Surely that, plus some after-dinner walks now that it’s light until 9pm will get me back on track, right? The hubby will even join me, now that he’s bought some of those weird toe-jam Vibram shoes. I’ll stick with my New Balance.

Look for Laurie’s fitness tips and updates on her personal health-focused journey every other Friday on nwaMotherlode in Mom Blogs. Send questions or input to her at Or click on the comment button below and share your thoughts right now! To see previous installments of Getting Healthy for Good, click HERE.