Families with children which deal with anxiety, hyperactivity, sensory processing or motor control disorders can find benefit in changing the foods they eat, said a Powell River based occupational therapist.
Last year inclusion Powell River occupational therapist Michelle Riddle helped institute a whole foods-based hot lunch pilot program at Assumption School. She said that noticeable improvements could be seen in children who battle these symptoms when they start eating a diet of unadulterated food.
In addition to her work as an occupational therapist, Riddle is studying to become a nutritionist. She also works with families to help teach them how to incorporate new approaches to producing their own food and eating locally.
Riddle said that cleaning up the diet of a child who deals with sensory difficulties can have a significant impact. During the last 20 years with increasing numbers of children being diagnosed with anxiety, hyperactivity, sensory processing or motor control disorders, there has been increasing amount of attention focused on why some kids have developed these symptoms, she explained. “There have been lots of theories over the years, but over the last 10 in particular it has become very clear that these kids can not excrete toxins properly,” she said.
Riddle cites a 2013 study from the Environmental Defence Canada which looked at the cord blood of newborns. With 137 chemicals identified, 132 of them were acknowledged carcinogens, 110 are considered toxic to the brain and nervous system and 130 can cause development and reproductive problems in mammals.
“So this is even before the child is born,” she said.
The children who deal with difficulties processing sensory information, she explained, have difficulty understanding the sensations that come into their bodies and difficulty telling their bodies how to move in relation to the
world around them.
Riddle added that when scientists look at which chemicals they are finding and what those chemicals’ effects are, there seems to be a correlation with the symptoms children are displaying.
“The lovely part of this discovery is when you start to take away the chemicals, these kids get better,” she said.
American Autism Research Institute has conducted a number of studies over a period of years. What they have found is on average between 63 to 65 per cent of the kids identified with autism make improvements with a clean, chemical-free, gluten-free, casein-free diet, Riddle added.
“The getting better isn’t necessarily a magic wand. It depends on how old they are when the families start to clean things up. It depends on how exposed they have been to particular toxins in their lifetime. In my work in Powell River now, consistently I’ve found that the families which are able to help their kids eat a diet of just real food diet, are finding the changes are life changing.”