It’s a bold title. One I wouldn’t write if I weren’t sure.
Cole is a wonderful kid. He’s social and funny while still being caring, thoughtful and very much an abider-of-rules. For that, he’s socially successful with friends in class while also making the authority figures adore him. But, we all have our vices, and for a while Cole’s ability to control his own body (i.e. playing rough with others in an imaginative and non-aggressive way) was becoming an issue.
One of the reasons our family decided to implement Paleo was because I had read a lot about a gluten-free, dairy (casein) -free (GFCF) diet being helpful to a variety of behavior issues in children. I knew Cole had the best of intentions, but it was his focus that kept going astray – causing him to do things he normally wouldn’t. When we cleaned out the pantry and stopped giving our children boxed food filled with chemicals, rather than nutrients, I immediately noticed a difference.
Over the past year we have become more adapted to the lifestyle, and thus the children’s diet has become more and more clean. Where we once allowed Cole to buy lunch 1 or 2x per week, as his own choice, he now no longer has any interest and refuses to buy lunch (short on time one day Matt asked him to buy a salad and Cole said he’d rather be tardy since it comes with yogurt and a pretzel). He has become the biggest Paleo pusher in the family, “Does this have wheat? Does it have dairy? What animal is this from? Does it have protein?”!
Because of this gradual change in our diet and lifestyle, I’ve been able to see Cole’s behavior gradually improve as well. I’ve had his Kindergarten teacher tell me, “Despite him being the youngest age of the class, he is the most socially prepared – he’s such a wonderful boy and a great friend!” She also tells me that he’s not only a wonderful student but that he always is focused and tries hard to do well. This passed week, at an evening activity night at the school I was gifted with the news that “If there was any child in the class that I’d happily take home with me, it’s Cole. We just love him!”
Apart from the beaming pride I had, I couldn’t help but blame the diet. I was literally thinking to myself what a difference eating right has made, bringing out the very best in him, when she moved into what she considered a different topic. “And his snacks! I mean, he’s happily eating carrots and guacamole while other children are pulling out Cheetos.” Me: I’m glad his snacks being different aren’t an issue. Her: “Oh no. The kids are often jealous. And me, I want to eat his snacks!”
I realized as we chatted that she didn’t realize the magnitude of correlation between his food and behavior. I tried to broach the subject of, “We try to focus on a lunch and snack filled with lots of healthy proteins and fat, that way he’s not carb crashing in the afternoon” and I watched her brain put the correlation together and then heard the magic words we all want to hear, “Well you and your husband are such wonderful parents; we’re so happy to have Cole!”
I just can’t imagine that eating gluten or processed foods would be worth giving any part of that up.