Why after all these years is the role of diet in your symptoms still controversial?
I wrote this article nearly 30 years ago when ADHD was the most noticed symptom, but all the other food sensitive symptoms were responding to diet in many people.
You can decide if much has changed since then!
There is still strong emotion surrounding the issue of diet and ADHD, ASD and all other symptoms.
The following ideas show how the range of thinking with regard to:
the doctors, dietitians, and alternative practitioners
the diet itself,
and you, the patient, including any child.
If you put any of the following possible combinations together you can see why views about your diet treatment can be controversial.
1. The doctors, dietitians, and alternative practitioners – with variations in each from caring to arrogant people
Those who believe that diet is too difficult a treatment, and there is no evidence that satisfies them as to its usefulness for all;
Those who believe that there is some evidence, but this diet is too difficult especially in families with many problems;
Those who believe excluding main additives is possible, but we know this will not give good results;
Those who believe the Low Chemical Diet is a good starting point; they often work in the area and have more familiarity with the research;
Those who believe an elimination diet excluding additives and most common allergens will really clarify problem foods. They know the research particularly on allergy;
Those who are very enthusiastic about the idea of food exclusion. They may also recommend organically grown food, and use vitamin and mineral supplements;
Gurus who write books with apparently easy diet solutions. They often give lecture tours and are loved by the media.
2. The diet, there is a range –
The normal unrestricted diet;
The low additive diet, excludes most obvious additives;
The Low Chemical Diet [minimal additives, amine, salicylate or glutamates, or smells];
The organically grown version of the these diets;
The strict few foods elimination diet (allowing two meats, two carbohydrates, two fruits, two veggies);
The use of vitamin or minerals as supplements, with any of the above diets;
The Rotation diet with foods eaten only every fourth day;
The liquid formula diet designed for highly allergic babies and adults;
The diet begun with a fast with foods added one at a time.
3. The people thinking about trying diet
Those who do not want to use diet as a treatment option, regardless of indications of usefulness;
Those who find diet difficult as they would find any change difficult to incorporate into their particular lifestyle;
Those who find being consistent with a diet difficult, some foods may be very important to them;
Those who will decrease obvious additives;
Those who are prepared to use diet if there is a chance it may be a useful treatment;
Those like a diet with very clear allowed and excluded foods;
Those who like a detective approach where they watch and decide much themselves;
Those who are prepared to put much time and effort into clarifying the role of food.
4. Parents whose children may be food sensitive
Those who have noticed their children’s behaviour, sleep or symptoms such as eczema change after particular foods;
Those who like to collect information from a variety of sources and decide what is wrong, and what diet, vitamins or treatment they will try, with or without professional help;
Those who are very enthusiastic about diet. Some feel all ‘chemicals’ in food should be banned for everyone. Some hope that if this was done then the child’s problem would go away;
Those who become overenthusiastic. Diet and environment becomes the most important aspects of life and everything is related to it. They often see both conventional and alternative practitioners, read related books;
Parents who would dedicate their lives to solving their child’s problem;
Parents who care sensibly;
Parents who hope the child will manage school and grow out of problem areas;
Parents whose lives include problems of their own to deal with, and have an ADHD or ASD child too;
Life is not easy for any of them. They may need to make use of a variety of helps. These can include counselling for themselves or the child, medical investigation, necessary medication, physio-, speech, or diet therapies, plus all the avenues for those with learning problems;
Parents usefully use on-line support groups. The self-help groups were very important from the 1970s until 2000.
The child, again a range –
Those in whom food is no problem and who are in the normal range of behaviour, activity, and development;
Those who have few problems, and the effect of a few foods (usually red cordial, tomato sauce or chocolate) is clearly seen. They are usually under five years of age;
Those with many problems, both behavioural and allergic (usually asthma or eczema), in a coping family;
Those who are young with many problems (can include epilepsy or ASD) with many problems in the family;
Those with many problems affecting self esteem and social relations at school age;
Those school age children in families with other problems to cope with;
Children who need remedial classes, needing medication or treatment for other problems, seeing the physiotherapist, occupational therapist, speech pathologist, or dietitian.
The strength of sensitivity to food –
From those with clear reactions to few additives in large doses,
through those where diet is necessary but not sufficient treatment, to
those “brittle” children who have big reactions to small infractions.
The interaction between food sensitivity and the child needing understanding and tough love management
No wonder you don’t always feel understood!
If we put together any combination of the above pictures to get a result that can occur in any family, or in those discussing the role of diet and behaviour, the reason for heightened emotions becomes clear.
It also shows the complexity of researching the area. It is difficult to obtain a neat group with one symptom or need for one level of strictness of diet.
However that should not blind us to the possibility that diet therapy, using a dietitian, can be investigated as a real research exercise in one person using diet and conducting challenges. Do keep looking at the Articles on this site, and its books to keep your self confidence up!
Another interesting article that shows how the thinking changed as more information became available is Development of thinking in Food Chemical Intolerance