Peace In Your Home Co-Founder Jeff Everage shares his personal journey as a parent trying to find the answer to his son’s medical condition. The answer didn’t lie with medications, but with nutrition. Read on to see how he learned how to use food as medicine.
Childhood Benign Seizures
“Childhood Benign Seizures” my wife reports over the phone from the doctor’s office. I was out of town, and she had just finished getting our oldest son evaluated by a specialist. He had two of these seizures so far. They were gut-retching, full-body, five minute long episodes happening in the early morning. “He will likely grow out of them by adolescence and they don’t cause any brain damage.”
My first thought is how a doctor can put the words “seizure” and “benign” in the same prognosis. Clearly the medical community was not looking at this from the larger picture. Sure, maybe in the long run the seizures will end, and we’ll never truly know if there was any damage done. Regardless, though, these seizures are not benign. He is wiped out for the whole morning after he has one and misses school. His mother goes on an unconscious nightly vigil, losing sleep and peace of mind, trying to be ready for the next seizure. His younger brother is woken up. I am less effective at work. The impact is real, measurable and far from benign.
“There is a drug that we can give him, it controls the seizures about 50% of the time, but is likely to cause a loss in IQ.” She continues over the phone. We want the seizures to stop, but not that bad. Now what do we do?
A Magical Helper Arrives
Joseph Campbell, in his study of mythology, writes about how every hero’s journey includes walking into the unknown and getting the help of a “magical helper” to speed the hero on his way to the treasure. We were certainly sitting squarely in the abyss and needed help to find the way to a solution. We found out that a mom (who was also a medical doctor) at school had been having seizures ever since the birth of their third child, so I met with her husband, Simon. Simon had been on an odyssey of his own, using sensors to measure her night time brain activity, speaking with and seeing the top specialists around the country and using crowdsourcing techniques to do research that was so ground breaking that he was featured in mainstream magazines. Her seizures were “benign” as well and they wanted to avoid the drugs. He had done a lot of research on the drugs and had nothing good to say.
“These drugs are toxic and their impact is still not totally understood. What is known is that have a high likelihood of impacting the brain negatively. We decided we were better off with the seizures.” He said. “When we insisted on not using the drugs, one doctor mentioned that some people treat seizures with diet and we’ve been doing that with some success.”
Food as Medicine
100 years ago, before modern medicine, seizures and most every health issue was treated by diet alone. The diet found to work with seizures was a no sugar, low carbohydrate, no dairy, and no glutton diet with some special rules around food combinations. Many modern day diets such as Paleo, Body Ecology, and Gaps follow similar rules and guidelines. I had already read The Body Ecology Diet by Donna Gates and had a consult with one of the nutritionist at www.thewholejourney.com for myself so I was familiar these concepts. Now we had to put them into action with a real sense of urgency.
We were already eating very healthy, or at least we thought we were. We eat a lot of veggies, choose organic when possible, and do a lot of cooking from scratch. This was different though. We didn’t want this strict a diet. Culturally, it is a really hard diet to follow. Dairy, sugar, and gluten is MOST ALL processed foods. No child wants to give up cake and ice cream for his birthday. It is so far off the mainstream that it transformed how we shop for food dramatically limited the restaurants we can go to, and changed how we approach birthday parties and other events.
I knew that we had to do the diet as a family to model for our son and not just force him to make the changes alone, so we embarked on the new diet together. While it hasn’t been easy, we have seen a lot of benefits from this style of eating. The seizures are down from a weekly ordeal to only a few a year with less severity. Our longest run without one was 6 months and we routinely go 3 months.
Reduced seizures are not the only benefit though. Other benefits include:
- Both my sons act out less, have less tantrums, and generally are calmer (for boys)
- We eat WAY more nutritious food and feel more healthy for it
- We cook more, saving a LOT of money in food costs
- We spend more time together because we are taking more time to eat at home
- I lost weight and my sleep improved
If you are interested in learning more about healthy shopping and cooking, check out the new course from The Whole Journey’s Christa Orecchio. This online class teaches you how to transform how you shop for food based on her popular grocery store tours. Having all your nutrition information in one place and available 24/7 is a HUGE benefit, and much easier than learning like we did.
Writing this article I’m realizing that there is so much more to write on this topic from a parenting perspective. Over the next few weeks I’ll share with you more detail about what we’ve learned including:
- The anthropological and biological basis for the diet including why gluten, dairy and other foods are a problem
- How to remove the most addictive food on the planet, sugar, from a child’s diet.
- Techniques for dealing with mainstream culture including birthday parties and restaurants
- Using food as medicine with your family
- Growing food with children