Time to just get started already!

I have been talking about starting this blog for quite a long time, and I truly (and naively) thought that being home with the kids would allow me the time to jump right in and blog frequently.  Ha.  Apparently in my years working full time, I lost sight of how busy stay at home moms (SAHMs) are!

Let me back up a tiny bit with a Coles Notes overview of how we got to this point.  As a baby, Berrik met his milestones on time for the most part.  As he reached the age of 2, he was clearly well behind in speech development.  Pediatrician, hearing tests (negative), speech assessment, PUF funding with speech, OT, and PT support, 2 years of kindergarten, ADHD and developmental coordination disorder diagnosis, and a very challenging grade 1 year, and here we are.

Last fall, after discussing with our family doc and deciding that medication for Berrik’s ADHD wasn’t something either of us was comfortable with at that point, I took Berrik to our naturopath to see if there was anything else I could do to support him naturally – to help him feel better, focus better, manage school more easily.  For us at home, Berrik was fine.  He is who he is and he managed just fine within the context of our family.  We didn’t find him disruptive or challenging.  However those words were being used to describe him at school.  His teacher was supportive, but with 27 kids in his class, there was only so much that could be done.  The way our education system is set up, is not an optimal learning environment for my busy just turned 7 year old.  Berrik’s speech is still delayed a bit, and he is slower than most kids to process information.  His writing is slow.  So you can imagine how challenging it was for him to find success in a typical classroom.  But I digress….

We had done a food sensitivity test a couple of years prior that showed nothing too significant, so the naturopath suggested a urine test called an Organic Acids Test .  The results came back and in simple terms suggested a massive yeast overgrowth in Berrik’s gut, and because of this, he was unable to absorb the amino acids necessary for neurotransmitter creation in his body. (Google ‘Leaky Gut Syndrome’ for more information).  Neurotransmitters such as dopamine, norepinephrine, serotonin etc. are related to focus, attention, mood and more, ergo, no absorption of amino acids leads to inappropriate levels of neurotransmitters and therefore attention, focus and mood issues.  Please note that I am giving a pretty high level overview of the gist of what was happening for Berrik, however, I read pages and pages of literature on the topic and for us, it made a lot of sense.

So what does one do when their child has a massive yeast overgrowth in his gut?  We were advised to put Berrik on a very strict anti-candida diet, along with probiotics and a few other supplements to support his neurotransmitters while his gut was healing.  January 7, 2016 we began.  No grains, no sugar, no yeast, no honey, no maple syrup and limited fruit.  Essentially anything that was sugar or acted like sugar in the body was off limits, with the exception of 3 pieces of fruit per day because he is a growing boy and my naturopath felt it was important to ensure he was getting the nutrients that fruit provides.

Berrik was an absolute hero on this diet.  He ate what I gave him and almost never complained about it.  After about 10 days, it seemed as though Berrik was worse.  Emotional, wiggly, and really struggling.  Our naturopath was thrilled.  (Are you kidding me!?!?, we are losing our minds!).  Yeast die off apparently causes an exacerbation of symptoms initially, so the fact that he was a disaster on 2 legs was a good sign.  Naturopath was thrilled on a Saturday.  On Monday evening I was doing our nightly homework with Berrik (which incidentally could have been very effectively used by the Americans as a technique for torturing spies for information).  But this day was different.  He blew through his sight words and spelling list.  Without getting off his chair.  Without telling me a story about a ninja or a starwars character. Tuesday, same thing.  I had not told Berrik’s teacher what we were up to, because for me, the ultimate test would be whether she noticed a difference in him at school.  Wednesday evening an email from the teacher came through confirming what we were seeing at home.  She said Berrik was more focused and doing his work, and volunteering for classroom duties!  I cried.  I’m not a crier about much.  But this made me cry.

So with this as our motivation, we pushed on.  Most evenings, I experimented with almond flour baking and other recipes to make Berrik’s life easier but still be compliant to the diet.  Kevin picked up the slack with Berrik, helping him with homework and taking him to activities, and I spent hours in the kitchen.  It was an overwhelming and exhausting time, but so worth it.  In March I noticed the focus and mood taking a downturn again. I was beyond  exhausted and wondering what the heck was going on.  We did another OAT (as was planned after 3 months of the diet).  Stay tuned to find out the results…..

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