I’ve been having conversations with mums over the last few months that have prompted a big thinky eye-opening epiphany. It’s a really simple one, but something that the mothers of the first world are not being encouraged to think about enough.
I’ll separate the mums I’m refering to into two groups:
1) Those that have realised that all these chronic health concerns that our kids are suffering from to various degrees are NOT normal and are taking action, and
2) those that have not realised this yet
One thing I can guarantee is that every one of us has been in the second group, but not all of us have yet opened the door to the first group.
The moment that really got me thinking was when a mum was talking to me about her child, who at that moment was screaming and kicking his father in the shins at a party about 6 months ago. Whenever I see kids a bit out of control like this, I automatically find myself looking at their physical symptoms. This habit has started since I saw my own kids transform before my eyes.
This particular child is pale, with dark rings under his eyes, and he’s also quite small and thin (his parents are not small or thin). And I don’t mean pale as in European, but pale as in ghostly; see- through. I was listening to what his mum was telling me about her child, and it was something that I am hearing more and more from mums with kids who struggle with various issues including emotional control: “Oh dear, he’s just a bit over-stimulated at this party. There’s too much going on. He needs a time out.”
I had seen this particular child melt down at every party we’d ever attended with him, so I asked her if she thought that maybe it happened when he ate certain foods. I made the mistake of pointing out that he has a really bloated stomach, and perhaps it’s a ‘food thing’.
She turned to me and said, quite sharply, “No, Mary, come on. He’s perfectly normal. All kids have bloated tummies like that, it’s perfectly normal.”
I apologised and changed the subject, but her words really bothered me. Since then, I have heard that phrase SO many times: “Aren’t all kids like that? It’s normal for children to melt down. All kids do it. It’s normal for kids to have eczema. It’s normal for kids to have dark rings under their eyes and to be too thin or too heavy, or pale. Allergies are just a part of life these days, totally normal.”
And I hate to be the one to break it to you, if you of this belief, but it is absolutely NOT normal.
It is COMMON, yes, but not NORMAL.
Those are two VERY different things, but we do ourselves and our kids a huge disservice when we treat them as equal.
This is tough for people to hear, because until you have seen your child at their very healthiest, you cannot really absorb that they might not be running at 100%. This is because kids are like energiser bunnies, they just go and go, even when there is discomfort or irritation, or exhaustion. But one of the number one indicators of a child in discomfort is BAD BEHAVIOUR. Grumpiness, frustration, and lashing out; what we refer to as ‘over-stimulated’ or ‘tired’.
This post might sound like a judgement, and I apologise if it does. My kid was born sick. He was ghostly pale for much of his first 5 years, with weird sensory processing issues. The dark rings under his eyes were just part of who he was; we didn’t notice them until a really knowledgeable food advocate pointed them out. We didn’t have a CLUE that it could be fixed. Once he started to heal his gut, his skin colour changed to OLIVE tanned colour, rather than his ‘Casper the friendly ghost’ look we had become accustomed to! I have olive skin, so this was incredible for me to see that my son had inherited my skin, and the first time anyone knew about it was when he was 5 years old! As pale as he was, he had never burned easily in the sun, and now I understood why.
My youngest, I thought, was the healthy one, until we had her on a nourishing real food diet. It was then that I realised what her body was SUPPOSED to look like: Chubby, peachy, round, with bright blue eyes and rosy cheeks. Not thin, pale, and eternally distracted.
For those of you who are wondering, these are some of the things that are NOT normal, but are EXTREMELY common these days:
Reflux (An indication of candida pathogens in the stomach, which should be sterile, means low stomach acid. Candida paralyses the pyloric sphincter, allowing stomach acid to drift up into the oesophagus when they lie flat. That’s why they want to be held upright all the time)
Poor sleep in babies (waking regularly at night still after 3 months for no good reason is actually a sign of too much adrenalin, a symptom of a leaky gut)
‘Milk spots’ that don’t clear up after the first 3 months of life
Poor feeding, rejecting food, vomiting after every feed
Bloated little bellies, that aren’t soft and pliant to the touch, but feel hard like a ball
Cradle cap (this is actually a yeast infection, and if it’s coming out on the skin, then the gut is leaking its yeast infection into the bloodstream, and the body is trying to push it out through the skin)
Eczema (as above)
In Children: all of the above, plus:
Behavioural disorders, including speech issues and slow speech development that require speech therapy; ADHD; sensory processing disorder; anxiety; autism; regular meltdowns; irrational emotional responses that don’t resolve after the ‘terrible twos’ etc (if you find yourself using the term ‘threenager’, then you need to think about using diet to help your child to feel more stable!)
The onset of asthma
Food fussiness, including a refusal to eat foods with certain types of texture, or colour (our gut bacteria is the same in our mouths, and can fundamentally change the way food feels and tastes. Kids that reject foods are symptomatic of gut bacteria in their oral cavity that is making the food taste weird. They have done tests that show that in the severe cases, kids feel like certain foods are burning them, like acid. Once the bacteria changes, they start to eat all sorts of foods. I can attest to this: my son would clamp his mouth shut for all food except rice and corn. He now eats every type of food, texture, colour, but only since his gut started healing.)
Excessive clumsiness, falling over a lot, bumping into things
Habits like nail-biting, hair-sucking and toe-walking, as well as grinding teeth at night, sleep walking, sleep talking are all signs of parasites in the gut lining
Chronic Bedwetting is a sign of imbalanced gut bacteria, particularly candida paralysing the urinary sphincter
Itchy privates, red and stinging urethra, yeast infections and urinary tract infections are all symptoms of candida overgrowth in the gut
It’s quite a list. And as a westernised, convenient-seeking human race, we have forgotten what healthy kids are supposed to look like. Here is a Weston A. Price Foundation article I read the other day that totally blew me away: http://www.westonaprice.org/uncategorized/healthy-baby-photo-gallery-2013-2014/.
It is a photo collection of babies born to mums who have nourished themselves properly before conception, as well as during pregnancy, and then have nourished their babies with breastmilk (where possible), and the WAPF formula for first foods, which includes not rice cereal and fruit (all yeast feeders), but meat stocks and broths, and fats, and marrow and vegies cooked in broth, and just yummy, nutritionally dense foods. I saw these photos and I got goose bumps, because it looked like photos out of a 1940s baby catalogue, and I felt like crying, because our babies do not look like this these days. These photos are unusual. The healthy glow of these babies is NOT common. My children did not look like these babies when they were born.
How did we forget how healthy babies were supposed to look?
When you are come to terms with the idea that you might have been dismissing symptoms indicating that your kids are not 100% well, just apply the COMMON vs NORMAL rule. If it’s common, but listed above, then consider how you might start to take steps to heal your kids issues, whether they are mild or serious. One of the most wonderful gifts you can give your kids is great health, because it is only when they are healthy that they are FREE. Free to be who God made them to be, free from the prison of discomfort and irritation and fatigue. And it is a joyful thing for a mothers heart to see better health and the energy that comes with it, flood into their bodies.
It is the mothers of the world that will be the ones to change the world, and to move us out of this weird headspace we have found ourselves living in: where we are accepting less health than is due to us.
Photo credit: Black and white photos taken from www.westonaprice.org