The ADHD Debate and Whole Foods

I’ve mentioned on here before that we are pretty sure that Jonah has ADHD. We’ve discussed it with his pediatrician who agreed that it sounds like he has all the symptoms (is always moving, jumping, skipping, fidgeting, etc, he has almost 0 impulse control, he has no idea of personal boundaries or space, he is easily distractable, he has a hard time focusing on one thing for very long, and the list goes on.) He did say that if we became very concerned about it and it seemed to be giving him serious problems at school we could look at getting an official diagnosis. My only thing though is that I would like to keep him off of medications for as long as possible. I don’t exactly like the idea of having my 6 year old on psychotropic drugs. Disclaimer here to say that I have no problems with people who choose to do things differently. My brother was on ADHD medications for years and did great with them. It’s just that as I’ve researched I have found other things that I would like to try first. I don’t want anyone to think I’m looking down on them if they choose to go with the drugs first. They work and if you’re life has become insane dealing with a child with ADHD and you feel like all your time is spent yelling and redirecting and critiquing then yes, the drugs may be your best option. We aren’t there yet so I feel we have time to try other things. OK, moving on!
One of the things that I have found as I’ve done some research is that there are a lot of things in our food these days that are less than good. And some of these things have been proven to cause behavioral problems in kids. These problems can be found in the form of hyperactivity and attention issues. So I think it goes to say that if you can cut out as many of these things as possible you stand a good chance at correcting some of these issues. Some of the culprits include artificial colors (did you know these are made from petroleum? Yup, the same stuff that is used to make the gas for your cars!?! YUCK!!!), artificial flavors (including our little friend MSG), artificial sweeteners (think aspartame and it’s friends and the biggest culprit of all HFCS), and artificial preservatives (nitrates and nitrites, often found in lunch meats and BHT and BHA). There are also links to pesticides that are used on our foods as they are grown, which also have been linked to cancer and other diseases. 
As you can see, that’s a lot to keep track of. I have gotten things that I thought were perfectly safe and then later on have found out that they had yellow #5 in them (like Heinz sweet pickle relish! Why? Why does pickle relish need yellow #5 in it?!?!) Did you know that there is only 1 ketchup on the market that does not use HFCS and that is Hunt’s. I’ve learned to like it but I have to admit I miss my Heinz ketchup sometimes. Actually, Heinz does make a ketchup without HFCS, it’s called Simply Heinz but I can’t find it in my market anymore, so Hunt’s is my only option. 
I got so frustrated the other night. I had made a really yummy chicken and rice casserole with the chicken my mom had gotten me for my birthday (I know it sounds funny but I was super excited for my case of chicken! lol) I seasoned the chicken with this:

I thought it was harmless, although to me honest it’s been in our pantry for ages so I’ve never really investigated it that deeply. I mean, the front says it’s 60% less sodium than salt. That can’t be all that bad right?!! Then I turn it around to see the ingredients: 
If you can’t read that very well it says Monosodium Glutamate (MSG). Really!?!? We’re trying to cut out MSG and I basically have pure MSG sitting in my pantry! I was so frustrated! After I went downstairs to vent to my mom I went up and threw it in the trash can. I’m pretty sure that is something we don’t need in our kitchen!
But that’s what I mean! It’s hard to make these changes. These little buggers hide in EVERYTHING!! I think I understand why more people don’t do it! As I’ve continued to do research into what we can and cannot eat the obvious solution has been to make more from scratch and use less prepackaged processed foods. And that’s great. But what about the things like pickle relish that don’t need yellow #5 but the manufacturer’s put them in there anyway!?!
Enter Whole Foods Market. I’ve been to Whole Foods a few times and I love it! I love the look of the store. I love that things are organic. I love that a lot of the products are non-GMO certified (and in 2014 everything sold in their stores will have to be non-GMO certified!!) And I discovered their list of all the ingredients that aren’t allowed in their products if they want to be sold at Whole Foods. You can find the entire list of unacceptable ingredients here but in case you’re wondering some of the things on the list: artificial colors, artificial flavors, artificial sweeteners, BHT, BHA, HFCS, MSG, nitrates and nitrites, Yup. Everything on our list, and then some. They also have high standards for body care products. You can see that list here. Their body care products also do not have artificial colors. Why is that important? Well, artificial colors can be absorbed through the skin. So for a child (or adult) with ADHD, washing your body or brushing your teeth with a product that contains artificial colors is just as bad as ingesting it orally. And it’s almost impossible to find toothpaste or body wash or shampoo for kids that isn’t artificially colored.
So, now I know that almost everything that I could buy at Whole Foods would be safe for Jonah to eat. Even snacks. Even ice cream. You wouldn’t believe how disappointed I was to buy vanilla ice cream one day (Velvet brand if you’re curious) only to turn it around and see that it had yellow #5. Vanilla ice cream is white (or should be!). Why is yellow #5 necessary?!?! GRRRR!!!! 
The only question now is: Is it possible to shop for our family of 6 at Whole Foods and not kill our budget?? I know that a lot of people joke about Whole Foods and call it Whole Paycheck. Yes, it is expensive but food costs are rising everywhere. Wouldn’t it make more sense to buy organic, safe foods if we’re going to spend more money on food to begin with? I think so.
 I know there are ways I can keep the costs down. Whole Foods accepts manufacturers coupons. They also put out their own store coupons. Some Whole Foods will let you stack a MFC with a SC so you can save even more. I would continue to make our own baked goods, especially our bread. I would continue to make our own laundry detergent (post on that coming soon.) We have cut back on sodas since we got our Soda Stream for Christmas but I think we might cut back even more buy using 100% fruit juice with carbonated water to make “soda” (like Switch brand. If you’ve never had it, it’s amazing!!) and making fruit infused waters. We don’t drink Kool-Aid or Country Time anymore since they both contain artificial colors so we buy the Simply line. Making lemonades from scratch would save money too. 
Meats are going to be considerably more expensive at Whole Foods, but I think I can continue to shop meats by watching for Manager markdowns or buying in bulk from Zaycon (Just to give you an example, the chicken my mom got me for my birthday ended up being about $1.78 a pound for boneless, skinless chicken breasts that actually tastes like chicken. That’s a great price! And the pieces are so huge I literally used 1 chicken breast for my chicken and rice casserole the other night. 1 chicken breast that I pounded and diced fed all 6 eaters in this family with leftovers. Not too shabby! That 40 pound box is gonna last a while!!) If you take a look at Zaycon and decide you want to give them a try let me know. I’d be happy to email you a referral!
 And apparently the Whole Foods store brand, Brand 365 is very affordable (a 16 oz bottle of shampoo is $1.99. I can’t get Pantene for that and it’s probably full of all kinds of crap!!) so buying store brand will help save some money.
I also don’t feel like I have to get everything at Whole Foods. There may be weeks that the Natural Foods section at Kroger or the organic produce at Remke might be cheaper. So continuing to shop around is going to be key. I just feel like Whole Foods would make my life a whole lot easier. It’s going to take the guess work out of the equation for me. And I don’t have time for guess work!  Plus, once I shop there and figure out what brands are acceptable, watching for sales of the same brands at Kroger or Remke (or even Walmart-some Walmarts are jumping on the organic train too!) will be easier!
So that’s where my brain is at the moment. Trying to figure out how I can feed my family the healthiest diet possible without breaking the bank. Do you shop at Whole Foods? Any advice that you could give me? I could really use it. I want to find a way to make this work! Because it’s all about giving our son the best advantage possible to help him through his ADHD. And I think he’s worth it!
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5 thoughts on “The ADHD Debate and Whole Foods

  1. Kari,both of my sons have ADHD along with being bipolar and having oppositional defiant disorder. I can tell a big difference in their behavior if they avoid dyes and caffeine. In fact caffeine can wind both of them up (they are 25 and 16) with a few minutes of drinking a caffenated drink. I never thought to check for MSG as a trigger. We don't have a Whole Foods down here but I will start shopping with an eye on ingredients. You have really given me some useful information so thank you!Debbie

  2. Debbie,I'm so glad you got something out of this post! That makes me feel great! As a rule we usually don't allow our kids to have caffeinated beverages just because I don't think kids have any business drinking caffeine. (It boils me when I see a parent hand a kid a Mountain Dew! OMG!) Jonah likes sweet tea (my southern boy!!), luckily I can make that with decaf tea. Thanks for making me think about that! I hadn't thought of that one. I'm sure it'll be much harder to deal with once I'm dealing with a teenager like your 16 year old! Thanks for stopping by!

  3. A friend of mine cut out red food dye and noticed a big difference in her son's behavior. Did you know red dye is in store bought vanilla frosting? She also has to ask for dye free medications from the pharmacy. Good luck!

  4. The whole MSG thing makes me sick. We are newer to avoiding foods. We too are cutting out dyes and MSG and certain preservatives. (BHT, BHA, TBHQ, and Sodium Benzoate -this is petroleum based like dyes)Any how this stuff is in everything. I find myself putting back everything on the shelves. I also avoid Anatto, and nitrites and nitrates. They put a whole foods near my house within the last year or so which is nice. But it is so expensive and my husband won't eat things that are healthy. So I make different dinners which is a pain and costly. He wants his MSG though. Anyhow… I wanted to tell you that MSG is actually in "natural products" It is a natural flavoring and it hides under other names. You will get sick when you read this list. http://www.realfoodwholehealth.com/2011/05/excitotoxins-msg-and-hidden-names/and this onehttp://www.naturalnews.com/036308_natural_flavors_MSG_aspartame.htmlThe big one it hides under is yeast extract. I see this on everything… and most stocks and all boullions. As for natural flavorings… I try to a void it but it is in almost every thing that is left. another helpful site is diefooddye.com has lots of tips and resources.It would be nice if they just sold the real food everywhere and didn't feed us chemicals to begin with. Good luck in your endevour. And God Bless!

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