Nearly 30 years ago, when I was first diagnosed with hypothyroidism and adrenal failure, my naturopathic doctor explained that the systems in my body were being worn down by stress and the toxic overload of products I had brought into my home.
Say what? I was in my early twenties and trying to take care of myself, or so I thought. Wasn’t I too young to be worn down? It was an eye-opening and sobering revelation.
About a decade later, when our now nearly 19-year-old son was a little over a year old, he started exhibiting a few unusual symptoms over a period of several weeks. Luke had gone from a generally happy, contented, breastfed baby to being prone to outbursts of extreme sadness and tantrums. He also had some noticeable digestive upsets, but the most prominent symptom appeared to be emotional.
It broke my heart to see my little buddy suffering. He would sit in his high chair and cry uncontrollably after a meal. I’d wrap my arms around his head to comfort him and quietly sob myself. What was happening to make him so miserable?
When we went to his pediatrician to rule out anything obvious, I mentioned the possibility of it being a reaction to food. But I was met with a familiar blank stare I had seen from doctors when they’d considered my own weird symptoms.
Again, I was grateful my naturopathic doctor had encouraged me to consider the food we eat and the products we bring into our home as potential triggers for health symptoms. Armed with that possibility in my son’s situation, I knew where to start. While no answers were coming from my pediatrician’s office, I wasn’t going to take “there’s nothing wrong” for an answer. Without question I would be Luke’s wellness advocate and do everything and anything I could to find a solution.
Tears are flowing again as I write this, just remembering how I felt to be a mama with a hurting child. It was one thing for me to suffer mysterious ailments as an adult, and another for my baby! My heart hurts for mamas who go through difficulties with a baby’s health when, after the all-important first steps of prayer and exercising faith, there doesn’t seem to be a clear or obvious next step they can take.
Because the connection to food felt so possible in my son’s situation, I started to diligently scour books, study labels, and eliminate anything from his diet that seemed to stir up symptoms. Sugar, cow’s milk (including casein), synthetic dyes, and preservatives were clearly connected. I even tossed out items labeled “natural” or “recommended for a healthy diet” if they didn’t agree with him.
I was astonished to find that by simply altering Luke’s diet, we saw results as different as night is from day. It was truly remarkable. He was a completely different kid when we carefully monitored his diet.
It’s not rocket science to find ways to eat better or kick out the toxins, but it’s a lifelong battle. We have to stay diligent. We might feel as if we have it all figured out one year, and then the next year we’re under attack again. Awareness changes everything.
Luke is an adult now (cue a few more mama tears), but I have continued to point him in the direction of staying aware of the food-health-emotion connection throughout his life.
One decision to kick out garbage and toxins in our diet and home today can have an impact on generations!
Melissa Michaels is the creator of The Inspired Room, twice voted Better Homes and Gardens Readers’ Favorite Decorating Blog. With creative ideas for decorating and organizing the home, she inspires more than half a million women each month. Melissa is also the author of the New York Times bestseller Love the Home You Have, Make Room for What You Love, and The Inspired Room coffee table book. Her latest release, Dwelling, explores the simple ways you can nourish your home, body, and soul. She and her husband live in Washington and have three adult children.