86 – 18 Feeding Tips for the “Picky” Eater!

86 – 18 Feeding Tips for the “Picky” Eater!

So you want a magic bullet to solve your child’s picky eating so it is gone tomorrow. I am good with that. But you know that’s unlikely to happen in one day right? The good news is there are many many things you an do. The good news is also that supporting Picky Eating has to be teamwork – but let’s get a few basics out-of-the-way first!

Welcome to Functional Nutrition and Learning for Kids, your podcast for all things gut health, gut-brain axis, functional medicine and functional education.

This is also the podcast that brings to you the only blend of nutrition and education that I know of.

I am your host Vaish, I am a Chemist, TedX speaker and mom to a child with multiple disabilities including Down syndrome and Autism.

It wasn’t too long ago that HE was a picky eater, he was disorganized, disregulated, unhappy, bloated and fatigued all the time. Through years of lessons learnt together – about the gut, the brain, and the value of Presuming Intelligence, he is now 14, non-speaking and a published poet!

Join me as we explore the worlds of potential hidden in your child …

But if only he/she would eat … right?

Some studies indicate that up to 50% of preschool aged kids might be considered picky eaters. YOU know if your child is picky. A quick internet search reveals what we already know – that parents are worried sick about their kids’ eating habits.

It also reveals, on a more subtle level that parents of kids who are NOT picky eaters consider picky eating to be the result of poor parenting, and just not enough discipline. It is no wonder that behavioral strategies abound!!

If you are listening to this podcast, I have no doubt that you have done your share of internet searching. When you ask people / experts / therapists about picky eating, chances are that you are going to get a rehash of the same behavioral strategies.

You know where I stand – I have seen that most behavior is communication, what is viewed as negative behavior is an expression of pain / discomfort / frustration or even a lack of security or safety.

Yes, sometimes children do push limits and see where they can get. And while sometimes parenting strategies that focus on behavior are valid for sure, the fact that biochemistry / digestion / trauma are never mentioned in the talk about picky eating is quite stunning if you ask me!

Do check out my picky eating toolkit – this is a functional nutrition perspective.

We are going to review the 18 most suggested tips for picky eaters and see what’s common between them, what works and what does NOT work! These are not MY tips, I agree with some of them, I actually don’t agree with some of them, but this is what people hear the most, and I was alternately fascinated, appalled and sometimes just thought “meh”….

1. Model eating new foods – that is, you the parent should model eating new foods. There is nothing wrong with this piece of advice – you are probably going to find it everywhere. This is actually a pretty sound piece of advice. But let us talk about what it really is saying. If your child is seeing you be a sugar addict, eating the same few tired vegetables day in and out, live on coffee, do you really think they are going to try new foods? Children, as you know, do not do as you say, but do as you do. When someone says model eating new foods what they are really saying is that show your child that you can go outside your comfort zone to eat that TARO, that RUTABAGA, that squid (if you are not vegetarian, of course).

2. Combine a disliked food with a liked food (UofM) – this is a cool psych trick that doesn’t work at all on kids tending towards ARFID by the way. You might end up making both disliked. But it could totally work on kids on the milder end of the picky eating spectrum. I haven’t seen this tip that often, but I am glad it was mentioned.I think you’d have to combine it in such a way that the liked and disliked foods aren’t easily separated. Like peas baked into a fry, or peas baked into a nugget or burger?You have to try to see if this works for you. Even if your child pulls out the peas and puts it aside, this is may still build tolerance – sensory and visual tolerance – toward said disliked food.My guest in the last episode, 85, – Laura Fuentes -talks about how she does this with one-pot meals that the whole family eats.

3. Verbal Praise for good choices – This is parenting 101, pretty standard stuff. I am not sure how I feel about this- because it can get overused, but praising your child sincerely, with true emotion, is always a good idea. In the end, we are trying to make food fun, and less stressful.

4. Limit exposure to unhealthy food – What is unhealthy food? Unless you have an answer to this question, this advice is pretty useless. But having said that, often picky eaters will feel hungry and will fill themselves up with the safest option. In my world, anything that is not real food – is unhealthy – if it has preservatives, colors, added sugar, artificial sweeteners or bad fats – this includes a bag of chips, cake, sweets, candy, etc. Access to these foods is severely limited or non-existent in my household when I want to encourage healthy choices.

5. Give them a variety of options – We are still firmly in the behavioral arena. But this does make sense to me. This does not mean cook a lot of food. This means among the foods on the table, they are free to choose what they like. If you have only cooked one dish, there might be fruits on the table as well. Your child gets to choose what they want to eat in what combination.

6. Don’t hide or disguise food – In my 3 step model to address picky eating, the first step is Trust – and this includes Open and Honest Communication. Hiding and disguising foods almost never works, and it is disrespectful. Full disclosure – I have done this, I have recommended that people try this.But if you are going to try this, please tell your child what you are trying. Their reactions to certain textures may be beyond their control, and often, if they can, children ARE willing to try. Yes, EVEN if your child is non-speaking, which is the term we use, NOT non-verbal.Because the chances are that your child has language and receptive capacity, probably 100% whether they speak or not.I would say that it is basic courtesy that we dispense with the tricks and just talk to them.

7. Get your child to help – this one is from Mayo Clinic, and again, it is a useful one. Children that are engaged in food preparation and cooking, and going to be interested in food. But this goes beyond that. Children that do food prep have already started with the cephalic phase of digestion, the combination of the textures and aromas have already triggered the body into expecting food. This might be the MOST important technique to slowly sensitize against trauma and to increase tolerance AND appetite.

8. Stay calm, don’t fight, be Ok with any outcome. When we realize that behavior IS communication, not of angst towards you, not because your food isn’t good, but because they are simply unable to eat it for some reason, then we can simply accept the outcome of any situation. Letting go of expectation helps us not be disappointed and be OK with any outcome. This is important, simply for your peace of mind and the peace of the home.The less picky eating becomes a struggle, the more likely you are going to see results.

9. Understand the root of picky eating – how often have you heard this? If you heard this before, have you given it a thought? Often therapists / doctors might mention anxiety (which is a very valid reason), but what is the root cause of anxiety? Choking is mentioned, why is choking an issue? Is it poor oral motor skills, or inflammation in the food tract or difficulty swallowing that particular food?Genetics might be mentioned as a root cause – but I find that this is not particularly helpful.The root of picky eating can be trauma – physical, emotional or biochemical. It can be inflammation or infection. Biochemical causes of Picky eating- like inflammation and nutrient deficiency- are at the most often neglected. And are usually only addressed by seeing a Functional Medicine Doctor or Nutritionist

10. Be patient (the 5 to 10 times trial thing) – For sure don’t expect miraculous results and be patient, but I often find that when biochemical root causes are addressed, transformation is quite rapid. However, the parenting approaches need to be slow and consistent and require patience.

11. Don’t offer dessert as a reward This is from Mayo Clinic, and is a no-brainer in my book. Dessert contributes to several root causes of Picky Eating, including pathogen overgrowth, inflammation and nutrient deficiency, let alone the psychology of offering dessert as a reward, and the addictive effects of sugar.

12. Be creative with the recipes I don’t know about this one. It would be nice to shape apple into rabbits, but I can tell you that’s not happening in my home. And if I have to dance around food with carving knives just so my kid can eat a bite, this would be a bandaid solution, not something that is lasting.

13. Don’t be a short-order cook You don’t say. In direct contrast to the previous instruction, I think. Your job as a parent is to nourish, not please. Enough said. Don’t be a short order cook.

14. Have family meal times – self explanatory – I think this works more on the modeling piece and taking away from the idea that food is scary. Not many of us still have family meal times, so it is a great thing to schedule and implement.

15. Don’t distract or offer distractions While we are on the behavioral realm, let me point out the utter futility of feeding a child while the TV runs. Disconnecting the food from the mind further is so not the aim of feeding. A picky eater is a child who experiences a form of disconnection already. But when we think it is a good idea to feed the child when they are momentarily distracted, it breaks trust, it breaks connection, and can only make the next mealtime that much worse!

16. Prepare one-meal for everyone. If you can, this would be ideal. Laura Fuentes talks about this in detail in our last podcast, episode 85

17. Limit liquid calories I often advise families to ditch the milk, juice or anything but water between foods if they can. Milk with food is a concept I really struggle with, simply because it is a very alien concept to most traditional eating. Ayurveda actually strongly recommends to NOT combine milk and savory foods. Milk is never drunk cold in traditional eastern food cultures. Today, milk is the most inflammatory food after white sugar, and if you can replace it with homemade almond milk or pure coconut milk or hemp milk, or any good nut milk (home made pref), I would.Juice, unless freshly squeezed is usually just at best empty calories, and at worst junk.

18. Have fun with food. I think this is mostly misinterpreted to mean carving rabbits out of mozzarella cheese. Make food non-threatening. Don’t add to the trauma behind food by adding threats to finish your plate or else… Make it easy to deal with, and easy to eat, and easy to waste if needed. 

And with that mildly controversial ending, we have summarized 18 most commonly prescribed behavior-based interventions for “picky” eating.

Just like many Syndromes and labels, Picky eating is also a spectrum. From kids who are mildly fussy to a pathological condition called ARFID – or Avoidant Restrictive Food Intake Disorder. How much to focus on Behavior vs. Biochemistry is a balance everyone has to make, but without Biochemistry, behavior can really not be addressed very well.

And without Trust, neither Behavior nor Biochemistry mean a thing.

And that is why, while I think you do need a team of professionals working to support a child’s selective eating, I think the primary steps should be:

  2. Infection and Inflammation – analysis and support, especially Gut Inflammation / Chronic Infectious triggers such as Yeast / PANS and PANDAS based conditions
  3. Nutrition Deficiencies – looking for these and supporting nutrition

You can find my quick guide to supporting picky eating from a Functional Nutrition Perspective here.



85 When your child doesn’t like your Food! with Laura Fuentes

85 When your child doesn’t like your Food! with Laura Fuentes

Laura Fuentes, Author of my favorite cookbook Taco Tuesdays, mom, CEO and Instagram Star talks to us in very clear wisdom about what it takes to work with food struggles, dining table power struggles and mom fatigue.

If you think that in your home, picky eating may be more of a communication – mis-communication issue or a struggle that has less biochemistry and more behavior, this is the podcast for you!

Laura shares 3 tips about how you can manage your mindset right away:

Cook One Meal

  • Stop micromanaging the eating process
  • Look at nutrition as a big picture – instead of meal to meal
  • I especially liked the last point. But there is a lot more wisdom here. Please listen on….

You can find Laura at www.momables.com

Find your Free Picky Eating Toolkit at www.functionalnutritionforkids.com/eatwell



Audio Transcription:

Do you have power struggles with your child over food every day? If you think that in your home picky eating may be more of a communication, or miscommunication issue, or even a struggle that has less biochemistry and more behavior, this might be the podcast for you. Welcome back to functional nutrition and learning for kids, your podcast for all things learning, gut health, brain health, and education, especially for kids with disabilities, whether visible or invisible. I’m your host, Dr. Vaish Sarathy. And without further ado, actually, with one further ado, we will jump into the podcast since I like making sure that you always have a toolkit with you as you navigate this incredibly complex field of picky eating. Make sure you download your free guide at this link. www.functionalnutritionforkids.com/eatwell. And now with no further ado, I presenter is phenomenal guest My guest today is lot of pointers.

And she is the creator of mama balls, where she’s helped 1000s of families improve their health and wellness by establishing healthier eating habits as a family with their family Kickstart program, and her weekly meal plan. She’s the author of five cookbooks. And by the way, Laura, I was really excited. I did not know that you are the author of taco Tuesday until today. And it’s actually one of my favorite books. So I’m, I’m even more excited to meet you. Thank you. And she’s a successful entrepreneur, public speaker spokesperson, she makes regular television appearances like on today and Good Morning America.

She’s competed on Food Network and 100k plus YouTube subscribers make her an official YouTuber, at least according to her nine year old. Right. So she is bilingual. She’s born. She was born and raised in Spain and currently lives outside of New Orleans with her husband and three kids. In our spare time Laura reads, sleeps and works out and what she loves most is taking her family on travel adventures. Well welcome, Laura.

I always like so excited to be here. Me too. And like I said, my excitement definitely doubled when I when I was, I mean, I was looking forward because I really like your Instagram channel, and I follow you on Instagram. But when I learned you are the author of taco Tuesday, I love tacos. I’d been looking for a good book. And then I actually when I found Taco Tuesday, I think I still have it on my shelf for occasional looking up. Whenever we come to tacos, but I’m so happy you’re here.

Tell us a little bit more about yourself and what it is. So I was born and raised in Spain, and I came to United States in my teens. And I really experienced that food culture shock from you know, coming from, from Europe and living with my grandparents where everything was pretty much like homemade. The food that we ate was, that’s what we had, and to America with so many choices and options. And, you know, I came, my mom and I and my mom was a single parent. So she really taught me how to just be present and stretch. You know, she worked a lot. So when we were together at mealtimes at night, usually every night, we didn’t miss a meal together. That was just something that she always established with me. It’s almost like our Spanish culture, but it was just us two. And then I, I feel like I’ve carried that into a lot of my work at today, which that’s why I share that with you.

now I live outside of New Orleans, long road trip to brought me here for my master’s degree. And that’s where I met my husband 20 years ago, and I have three kids. And when you have three kids, they’re all very different. I always share with my audience that, you know, my family does not look like that Instagram perfect foodie family where we have access to, you know, farmers markets and my eat my kids eat a rainbow of food and all these things like I live outside of a city in the suburbs, I have to drive 20 minutes to a grocery store. So I really have to be very calculated in thought I’d have to think about what it is I’m going to feed my family every week. And you know, I also have struggled with three different kids with a lot of picky eating at home. And so much so that, you know, it really brought out the worst in me as a parent. So when parents email me in my community that they’re struggling with picky eating, and we all feel so alone and like this is I’m the only one with this problem or this in particular.

I always am really reassuring to tell them that picky eating and feeding our families is really like a journey because there is no handbook to do this the right way because we’re all human and different techniques and different approaches work differently for every person, every family and every child right? And so when I was really in thick and thin have a really hard picky eating issues with my middle son who also happened to have, you know, other like, he was underweight pediatrician continuously asked like, we this is what we need to do now thinking yeah, sure, but how do I get him to actually eat that right? So I really, it was really a tough period of time in his growing years because every time I did a doctor visit, I was reminded, or at least I felt like I really wasn’t doing a good job because my child wouldn’t eat, right.

And she would assure me that it was a phase. And it was not a phase. Because four years later, I was like I struggling. So I that began my journey of working with specialists and going to weekly therapy, to be a better parent, and learn how to communicate and create a positive environment at the table with my family, because I was not very positive. And I had a lot to learn. And so now all that, like I said, that journey to things are not perfect. My kids still don’t eat everything. But it is such a better mealtime environment, there are no fights, yes, there are a little older, but there are no fights, nobody complains out loud, because I have expressed that when they complain about the food that I make the efforts that I do, it doesn’t make me feel good. So we’re all it has been a journey that I’m so happy to share some of those tips and the things that we’ve tried that have been most successful with your audience, because I can really empathize with wanting to eat healthier, and your family not being on board all the time.

Well said, and one of the things that you reminded me of right now is that I don’t often talk about how stressful you know, being the parent of a child who’s a picky eater is because, you know, I think it might be one of the most intense stresses, I mean, I, we, we have children that have various degrees of disabilities, and oftentimes that we under, we underestimate as a society. Just the fact that I mean, we just think all children are picky eaters. But when children are actually kind of a little bit far along on that spectrum of picky eating, it can be one of the most stressful events for the person that is preparing the food.

I know that even when one dish of mine gets rejected, I feel it. So personally, I you know, I’m I’m close and personally close to a tantrum to tears to everything. Can you can you share a little bit more if you feel comfortable about how you know about the about the actual process of when you discovered your child was a picky eater? And what you did to address that?

Yes, so like I mentioned a little bit each time I went for, you know, when our kids are young, we go to the pediatrician quite often. And so, and the weigh ins and the heights, you know, genetically my children are in the lean side, his dad was very lean when he was a child, like, you know, it’s just how they’re built. But so I would remind that the pediatrician just like, yes, but he’s still in the five to 10 percentile. So I really need you to like feed them fruits and vegetables and, and I’m thinking to myself, I am really trying, right, and that’s easy to say, right?

Yeah, it’s really easy to say and I know they’re doing their job and in a caring way, right? It was no means like, Hey, you’re not doing a good job. It was like well, you know, I’m really worried because he hasn’t grown or you know, just or the acid reflux wouldn’t stop or and I would express like he really only he’s very picky. Well, how many foods are see eat. So that’s really important when we get to distinguish the my child’s a picky eater or their selective eater. So because I have one kid who is a selective eater, he likes a certain types of foods, but he eats a variety, you know, he’s list 30 things 40 Things when he was younger, okay, and I thought he was these selective, but the pickier eater he really only ate about nine to 10 foods, right? And, and if you think well, I guess that’s really not a lot, right.

So what that really tells me is that my child was not only being really picky, right? But then I paid attention to the types of foods that he was eating, and we were also struggling with digestive issues. So he was constantly constipated constantly. He would say My stomach hurts. I’m full and I will look at it. I’m like, you ate two bites, how can you be full? Right? So it wasn’t a beat intuitive. You know? Like, there’s a thing about we are supposed to allow our kids to just discover when they’re full and learn their state when they’re satiated.

They’ve had enough but when your child really you’ve observed all day that has not been enough and they’re eating only two bites, that the only thing that he could say at three, three and a half was on full weigh in, because that’s what he knew, but really What he was really saying is non verbally as my stomach hurts, you know, when our kids are really young, they don’t know how to express it. So it’s really important to observe those physical cues, what’s happening with their bowel movements. And then little by little, I kind of puzzled it together. And I said it to my pediatrician, Hey, these are the things that are happening. I would read a lot because this is before the internet and like, that we have today.

So this is 2008. So I read a lot of books I, I sought, professional help. And little by little we discovered you know what, it’s not just a number of foods. He’s really he didn’t like certain textures. He a no meat, no protein, because he didn’t like how he said as I choose funny, right? So that’s another cue that I, but it really was about paying attention. But of course, I’m being very kind as I explained this to you, but I was very frustrated in the process, right? Like, how can my child not eat like, what am I doing wrong? I had like mixed feelings, like dinner was really frustrating. And the more I pushed, the more he cried, the worse I became, right, I fought with my husband about this. Because, like, I it all came down to I felt inadequate, because like, How can I don’t know how to feed my child, but it was really about observing the cues. And then the last straw really was, you know, he, when I went to a birthday party, and he had to go to the bathroom.

Since he was always constipated, I noticed once like, a lot of blood in his stool. And I’m not talking about like, the stool was red. It’s just like, so I nearly just passed, he almost passed out just from looking at it. And he was three and a half. But I was like scared to death, right? I’m at a birthday party. And I’m like, What do I do now. So that really was the tipping point of observation going like, okay, it could not be more clear that something is happening. And at the end of the day, my child was chronically constipated for because he ate the same foods all the time, right? It was like a lot of dairy, a lot of grain. So like pasta, a lot of white foods, which is very typical, right, but it was the foods that he had deemed safe. So that really was a tipping point in our journey. And when that happens to you with an almost four year old, that really scares you as a parent. So really, you just take action, and I was like, I could not do this alone. I have to get help to learn how to transition my child from the nine things into more. Right?

Like you said, that’s a vicious cycle, right? If you don’t feel you’re eating very less food so that you’re not feeling good. And you’re when there’s inflammation in your stomach. When there’s constipation, you can’t really eat anything. And I think you brought in one really important point that picky eating is often viewed in our culture as a behavioral issue when it’s really a very biochemical issue. But it just kind of manifests it looks like it’s a child deciding not to eat, which is, which is as far away from the case as possible. Eating is uncomfortable process. Right.

So like my case is sort of extreme, but I share it with you because a lot of parents when they think their child is picky, they’re just being very selective about the food is the age where kids are really just establishing that independence. They want to say no to things they want, like mealtimes is the only time that our kids get to decide about anything, right? We we buy the food, we buy their clothes, we buy their toys, we take them to playdates, right? Like we are making all the decisions for them. We tell them when it’s bedtime, we tell them when it’s bad time. So when they sit at the table, and they have food in front of them, this is the time where they can go hey, no, I’m gonna say no. And that and you’re going to I’m not going to do it.So a lot of it is like a power struggle that is happening or they’re just asserting yes and knows. Right.

I think that the although they’re not I honestly like after speaking with professionals is like really 90% of the what we think is picky eating his children really saying I don’t like that, right? Or this is this is this looks scary. They don’t know how to communicate it. So broccoli looks scary. It looks really intimidating. I don’t like the texture, or but they don’t. They’re not telling us all of these things are just saying no, they’re saying no to the color green, white because they’ve learned that things are green. They they feel funny, right? Or maybe it’s not cooked the right way. But they can just all it’s easier for them to say no, I don’t like that. So we are constantly fighting with the how do I introduce new foods when they don’t like green or they don’t like vegetables are they don’t like XY and Z right? So it’s there’s the 10% of kids who and parents of us who are struggling with the clinical side, you know, there’s an underlying issue and Then there’s a 90%, who is really just we need to learn how like my therapist told me, Laura, you need to parent and be the parent at the table. And I was like, what? But I am, you know. But that’s a lot about the behavior at the table as opposed to the physical underlying issue.

How long did it take before there’s a few questions, I want to ask you about how you bring nutrition to, you know, how you make sure that family meals, what are the tips that you have to make sure the entire family can eat together? But before that, there’s a question that I often get that how long does it take? So I’m specifically talking about about your kid who was a, you know, an extremely, I generally don’t like to use the term picky eater, because when some of the older people, the adults that I’ve worked with have said that they were never picky, it was just that there was there were self restricting their food to kind of it was an avoidance tactic to kind of save themselves the trauma of whatever the eating process was. So I’m going to put picky in quotes. We’ll use that term anyway. Because that’s a term that’s familiar to most people piggy or self selected eating. How long did it take for for you to get over the hump to a place that you were comfortable with?

Yeah, so I will tell you that it took a few weeks and a few months. So the reason I say that is because it took a few weeks for me to learn to translate the visual cues into action. And then it took a really a few months for it to become automatic, right? Where I was no, like, even I was programmed to jump on, like, What do you mean, you don’t like that, but I made it the way you like it, right. So it really took a couple of months to unprogrammed the behavior that we had been doing at the table for a while. And it took a lot, mostly on my part, right? Because I can’t control a four year old, or a five year old, it’s a lot easier to control us as adults. So it really took a while for me to go. Okay, once I make the food, I That’s it. Like I did my job, I’m going to put up a table, it also instead of focusing on the food, I shifted to focusing on conversation, or everything else other than the food, right? So it also took a little bit of planning on my part, right? Like, beforehand, I in order to not fight and avoid that discomfort for my child, I would make him something else, right. But now it took a bit of planning for me to go, Okay, I’m only going to make one meal one recipe for the whole family.

It has to be one element that every person will eat, right? So it’s easy when you only have one, but it’s a lot tougher when you have three kids. But now the rule of thumb in my family is I make one meal, and you can pick from what’s served or what’s out there. And that’s it. Right? Because I’m not cooking something else. We’re not heating up, like a different food option. We’re not cooking anything. And so now I’ve put the responsibility on them to pick from what’s at the table, right. So when they’re younger, you pretty much says, This is what we have to eat. And you can pick whatever you like. There were days that my son would only eat rice. And that I had to learn that that was okay. Right? There were days. So a lot of it was me not. But what about the protein? what about this? what about that? It was a lot like I was so like, you just have to look at nutrition as the big picture. Because if you look at it from a meal to meal, you’ll run yourself crazy. Right? Right, your your kid will have more protein in the morning with their milk, probably. And then they’ll have more carbs in the middle of the day when they’re running around and playing.

Like I really had to trust that process. And stop micromanaging the meals, I had to take a step back and go okay, I’m going to look at this from a bigger picture, like the whole week. And that was really framed for me, and I’m pretty sure it was also really framed for my child. So absolutely. It was in a few weeks, I learned those very essential, the mindset that I had to have, but then it really took a couple of months to really, you know, be more chill about the whole situation because I had to unprogrammed my entire family. Hmm, can you give us I find that really interesting that just one meal and that’s fabulous. Right? That’s great. That’s exactly how it should be. Can you give us an example of a meal that would normally work for your family? Or not works but right.

Yeah, so a lot of for example, and I will go back to tell you about the texture situation but like last night, but I’m just gonna bring last nice example. I made for dinner was I filmed a recipe that was a chicken stew. And the chicken stew is all in one pot. This is for many family like the one pot meals or the everything’s mixed. This is like the biggest obstacle to the one meal situation. We parents that are cooking, we love the one pot things because it’s like, okay, less to clean and everything is in one thing. But actually, it’s for food averse kids, it is their worst nightmare. Including my three, right? So I know that my two sons cannot handle peas. They just detest them. But you know, I had already made this recipe. Normally if I make it for my family, I may omit it. But I was filming. So I did not omit I follow the recipe to a tee and just stuck with it. And so when I served and when I serve my sons, I said, Hey, I tried to not put peas on your bowl. But if one snuck in there, you’re just going to have to take it out or leave it on the side.

So you just scoop out the part of the stupid out or when I when now my teenager he served this my problematic my extreme God boy, right? Like he’s now 1314. So I said to him, hey, when you serve yourself, the peas are in there. Sorry, but but like, just leave out what you don’t like, most of the time. Now, I don’t even have to verbally say that. Right? But they know that they have permission to just not pick what they want, right? Like the food is made. Now I have another one that has the severe texture issues still. And funny thing is he does not like soft potatoes. He likes them. Like in this too. The potatoes are just not. It’s not a thing, right? Like it just feels mushy. Mashed potatoes are not good for him either. Like there’s a like that kind of texture. And so now that I know about using texture as a way of introduction of nutrition, I basically scooped out the potatoes from the soup bowl, and then I put them in the blender real quick, and mixed it back in.

So that now the soup was the stew was really thick. It had the nutrition. He knew that were in there, he saw me do it. But he knows he doesn’t like it. So it’s a place of meeting him halfway. And so it takes took, you know, one extra step. But he I do know that he eats potatoes in different forms, right? We can tell our kids that French fries are potatoes until there’s no tomorrow but for them it’s like that’s mashed potatoes and French fries are two different foods. Right? So um, so the experience really goes is like, Hey guys, I made this is what we’re having for dinner. There may be things in it you don’t like you’re free to leave them out. And so what do you know, actually, my youngest, who is very averse like the potato kid, he ate a couple of hate the peas in the soup.

He was like, You know what? You know what, when they’re in here, they’re not so bad. I do not like them on the side. But they’re not so bad in here. Right. So that is my cue that he will take some of the things that I think he doesn’t like cooked differently. Right. So when I talk to the parents in my community, I tell them hey, I know your child may not like peas, but they may What is it about peas they don’t like is for us to find out. And then how can we change the texture or the look or the flavor? What it’s cooked in, right? So now all of a sudden, they’re not really peas, right? They’re just in the soup, they’re part of the soup? Or maybe they do like them on the side? Or maybe they like them roasted. But we often fail to try because we’re so emotionally invested in the food we don’t want to be let down. Right? So the one pot things is an example of things that do not go over well at my house at all. Okay, I like the soup last night but there’s a lot because it’s harder to pick things out and it’s it’s harder to separate what you like and what you don’t like.

yeah, but like skillet dishes, anything that has like rice on the side or even you know, you will put rice at the bottom and then like chicken and vegetables or whatnot. Even if the chicken and vegetables are mixed like a sotae in the same pan that gives them the opportunity to just leave the vegetables they don’t like right? I’m in my house with one of my kids steamed goes over better than roasted she says that things that are roasted don’t they taste charcoal, they taste funny to her so she doesn’t eat roasted vegetables but she’ll eat vegetables in fried rice in on the side on the earth with with you know beef and broccoli but she won’t eat roasted broccoli. And so that’s just something that I know through cooking it in different ways and this is one of trial and error,  and the key here if you’re listening is cook the recipes cook what you love Like, cook what you and your spouse or your partner likes at home and allow your kids to say yes or no to what you cooked in, if they don’t like it, that’s okay. Because when we go out to eat, we don’t always like everything that the restaurant has to offer. So just cook it.

I think we, a lot of the moms, or the dads that are listening to the podcast, at least right now probably come from a generation where food was held in a very different light. So it’s it’s very traumatic to waste food to to have food not like because when I was growing up, there was obviously no such thing, right? My my parents won’t let me waste one grain of rice. I mean, that that that wasn’t, I wasn’t even an option. It was, it was terrible shame to rice. It’s like, How many kids do you think are starving in the world? Right? So that kind of thing. Many of us have grown up with that thing. And we realize that the world is very different now. And what you’re telling me is that in order to not be not step into the trauma yourself, you need to be in a state of like a detective. So you you are a food detective that’s constantly trying to not figure out but experimenting, perhaps in a state of hopefully in a state of dispassion, joy, whatever you may call it, but not feverishly.

Yeah, just, it’s really about paying attention, right. And I’m not saying that parents don’t pay attention, but because by the time we get to the this is the most problematic thing. Of course, kids can be very selective on what they like for lunch, and what they do, you know, but the most, we all have heard, I’m sure you too, that like dinner time is just so problematic. And the reason is, is because it’s the end, we have to give ourselves a little bit more grace, we have to give our kids a little bit more grace, because it is the end of a long day for everybody. Right? And so and we just have such high expectations, right? We place begin oftentimes, it’s because it’s the only meal that we really get to have together. And so we wanted to have a vegetable, we wanted to have like the perfect food plate or the pyramid like no, like, it’s okay that it doesn’t have all the elements.

if we just take a step back and look at it for big picture, right. But we put so much pressure on dinner, both on ourselves to make something that our family will eat, and on our children, right. And so it really is a lose lose for everybody. So my biggest thing is I the one of the reasons meal planning works so well for families is that, you know, you can just say, This is what the plan has for today, let’s give it a go. Right? It helps it actually defers the, the responsibility of like, I picked it as a parent, I chose the foods and all this stuff into, you know, some of the parents, my community say that when they use our meal plans, for example, they’re like, Miss Laura, pick this up. This is what she picked, and we’re going to give it a go. And I have a couple families that they’ve been subscribed for years. And they send me emails once a week, their kids, here’s, here’s Mary, Kate’s feedback, she said next time, please Like she’ll take note or they’ll send me messages, right saying like, because it takes the pressure out of the parent, or you or when you write a plan, you know, this is what the plan, it’s now it’s a third person.

It’s not this is what I just decided tonight. It’s this is the plan for the week. So it it removes it from internalizing the mom pick this or dad decided to this is what’s been decided, right? It’s just right there in the pandemic. We have to wear masks now because mom said so but because, you know, it was mandated. And so we just we complied. So we’re not it’s just kind of like that with food. You can do that, to release that pressure of mom. Well, now it’s a battle against mom. No, I tell parents blame it on me or blame it on the plan, right like read a plan for five minutes. And then when you create a plan, it also helps you look at it big picture, as opposed to a meal to meal. If you’re struggling with picky eating, or even or eating healthier, really creating a plan that goes okay, well maybe this night is not super veggie heavy, but it really is protein rich. And look, it’s lean and whatever. I’m going to try this in tomorrow.

Look at this, I’m actually trying this chili recipe where the veggies are chopped up, they’re real small. And so that kind of gives the opportunity to try and incorporate more veggies in this method. And then the next time maybe we’ll try it roasted and then so when you create a plan or subscribe to a plan, you really look at things from a bigger like week to week as opposed to meal by meal and so and it’s really really freeing so be there if you are struggling. That will be my biggest piece of advice is to step back from the meal to meal fight to take 10 minutes or use one of the marbles meal plans to kind of take a look at nutrition as a as a whole Right.

And I was going to ask you is how can families incorporate more nutrition into the into the entire family’s meal plan? And I think you’ve already given us a few answers. Is there anything else that we haven’t talked about? What what is the first thing that comes to your mind when we talk about making your family’s meal more nutritious? Yes. So if you’re just starting out and you find yourself buying the same groceries every week, I would actually look at my family and go, no matter how old your family is, and say, Hey, I need two different vegetables to buy this week. So let them tell you what veggies they want for the week, right? And then we’re going to I said, I promise you, I’m not going to steam them, I’m going to figure out a way that you’re going to, to make these tastes good, right? Or, if last week you bought apples, we just get in such a rut of buying the same things.

So one way is like, hey, last week, we bought apples, apple slices and grapes for snack times. Or for afternoons. If you put something new in the afternoon, I’m like my family. What should I buy this week? For afternoon? Fruit? Oh, Apple, the apples are fine. No, no, we had that last week. I need another one. Right? It’s almost like, I don’t know. Okay, that’s Yes, I know. Of course, we might have some apples, of course. But like, what is the thing that we can try this week? Right. So I asked them for feedback. And that’s really been helpful.

The other thing is outside of dinner, the last thing is lunch, right. So we also make the same lunches often because that’s what our kids will eat. And so that’s what the that’s with a mentality of, I just want them to eat something anything. I’m going to make what they will eat. So I’m going to dictate what it is, right? So what I was told to do is ask my child, hey, what kinds of things are your friends eating at school? What kinds of lunches are they bringing? What? So they would tell me like, oh, so and so brought this. And so like, instead of asking my child, like, what do you think about the food I pack for you everyday? Or did you eat your lunch? That’s kind of like very pointing a finger. Because, you know, as I open the lunch, and if it was uneaten, I’d be like, Hey, I see that there’s some leftover that it Ah, did your friends have something that was more appetizing? Right? Like, did you not eat because you stole a bite of somebody? But no, like? Or did you know I was I just chatted most of the lunch.

I’m like, Okay, well, what, what did you like, when you ask what their friends are eating it, they start, maybe they didn’t notice the first couple of times, but they start telling you because then you’re like, oh, maybe I should buy that for you. Maybe I should make that for you. Right? Like, I have gotten my kids to try vegetables and fruits that they would never try at home. Just because their friend had that. And I’m like, so a lot of it is just asking, and honestly, it’s not.

It’s just having a conversation, right? Instead of asking about how was your day, ask about their friend. What did they pack? Was they talk about? Was there something exciting? What was the conversation at the lunch table like that they get to go play? Because a lot of the those are like those who will tell you cues are they going to be more hungry, right? Like if they barely, I barely had time to eat because I went to the bathroom. So I only had five minutes at the lunch table. And then I went straight to recess. I’m like, oh, that tells me my kid was very active, right? And he didn’t have time to eat. So he’s definitely gonna need a bigger snack when we get home. Right? Without asking them? Are you hungry? Do you want this? So ask questions and ask what their friends are eating. So you can say hell, maybe I could make that for you.

What I’m hearing is that with, with everything you’ve been sharing, you’re building more mindfulness and intentionality, not just in yourself, but in your kids too. So now they’re looking at food, regardless of what if they’re eating or not. They’re curious about food, they’re making decisions about food. And, and hopefully, they’re expanding their repertoire of food whenever that happens, right? So but it’s about making them observe that the 10 foods that they eat are not the only foods that the world eats, right? It’s about because kids really do learn through social pressure through observation, through they’re less hesitant to try things if their friends are doing. We all know this about teenagers but with younger kids, it also applies to food, right? And so when we and most importantly, when we ask them questions, like there are open ended about their friends and what’s happening, it’s it no longer becomes questions that are judgy.

Like, how was your day? Oh, my days are late, or why didn’t you eat your lunch? Like that’s really, that puts some shame or blame as if they did something wrong. Instead of like, oh, How was lunch that did you guys get to play? Did you talk to somebody interesting. And then it shows your kids it builds that relationship where they also there’s a lot of things I learned in therapy, but it’s It also takes the pressure out of the food, and why they didn’t eat into an interest in their day and interest. And kids, our kids just want to know, they want to know that we’re interested in them. when they’re really young. That’s how they call attention at the table. And as they grow, and they can communicate, they, they given the opportunity, they’ll share some of those things, but it takes open ended questions in taking the shame and blame out of food to discover those things.

Absolutely. Well said, thank you for all your, you know, wonderful tips and want to also thank you for Taco Tuesday, but your books, I came out of necessity because okay, I wanted Tacos. Tacos are a great vessel of building a meal for kids. Absolutely, so I was like, people are like, Oh, you must be taco obsessed. I’m like, No, but tacos are something that you build. It’s an interactive food. And if you saw in the book, there’s 52 recipes, one for every day, over to sale them of the year. But it’s similar ingredients in different ways, combined differently, and they can build it, they can leave out something they don’t like they can choose just the meat. So that was a lot of trial and error. And it’s a fun book. But there’s also some thought into Hey, this is why because my kids really enjoyed building their meal.

That’s interesting to know. Where can where can parents find you or work with you? Yeah, so the big the best hub for you is to go to mama bulls.com to put this on the show notes. And that really, if you’re just wanting to start, get letting somebody plan your food to help you introduce family friendly meals in a different light, or the Bible’s meal plans can help you do that we, you know, work with the same 50 ingredients, we face them differently, you’ll never notice. But that’s our way of the reintroduction in a different way of ingredients, adding variety. So Mama was calm, and the meal plans are really a great start for that. And then of course, on social media ad mama balls or Laura Fuentes is you can find me there. Wonderful. Thank you so much for your time. Lord, I was wonderful talking to you. Thank you.

I really enjoyed Laura’s focus on awareness and observation of food. And a couple of quotes from my favorite teacher, take no time come to mind. I quote, spend time with your food. Every minute of your meal should be happy. Not many people have the time and the opportunity to sit down and enjoy me like that. We are very fortunate. Another quote goes eating is not only nourishing for the body, but also for the mind. Coming back to Laura’s talk. I also love how Laura brings the focus back not just to the child but also to the parent when she talks about stress free meal prep, keeping this idea of being stress free. I hope you find value in the picky eating toolkit that is free at www.functionalnutritionforkids.com/eatwell. Well, and I hope you and your family eat very well for the rest of this year and beyond. I can’t wait to meet you again next week with a brand new podcast. Bye.

84 Functional Labs and Micronutrient Analysis with Nichole Herms

84 Functional Labs and Micronutrient Analysis with Nichole Herms

For the first time, I explore the fascinating world of  Functional Labs. Nichole Herms – a fellow Chemist who is a researcher at Spectra cell Labs.

In this podcast we explore how Lymphocyte Proliferation Assays (which is the technology Spectra cell uses) can go beyond testing your child’s current blood levels of nutrients to truly understanding:

– Bioavailability of the nutrient

– Accessibility (can your child use it)

– Functional Need for the nutrient

This means two people that eat the same diet and have similar lifestyles – may now show up with completely *functional need* values.

This discussion is phenomenal in its detail. You might just go running out to order a Spectra cell test.  www.spectracell.com



Audio Transcription:

Hi friends welcome to this exciting episode of functional nutrition and learning for kids. This new year, I believe for the first time we are exploring functional labs. Functional labs are different from the regular labs that you will talk to my trend. And by that I mean your PCP, for example, CBC CMP, thyroid labs and even iron status, and so on. In functional labs, what we’re doing is testing to see if your body which is your child’s body is sufficient in nutrients, oxidative status, etc, to actually function. That word again, to actually function in optimal health, you could say, to be comfortable and stable.

We’re not necessarily testing a disease state. We’re testing to see if you are balanced. Now, this lack of balance might not quite show up in your doctor’s lab, but still can cause impulsivity, anger, lack of focus, moodiness, and so much more. So functional labs are what help in this area. Now, a side note, please do excuse my audio in this podcast. Frankly, it really sucks. I heard myself do a double-take. And it’s now hopefully better now. But I do want to give you a very warm welcome in this new year of functional nutrition and learning for kids.

How exciting to still have a podcast in 2022. If you’re here, you’re probably seeking answers for your child’s health and learning. And I am there every step of the way with you. Whether your child has Down syndrome is autistic has ADHD symptoms or is diagnosed with a learning disability you are in the right place. Because here we believe every child can learn and every child should learn. It is a human right. Sound nutrition and equal education and the rested mind are the birthrights of every child. Now I’ve been there I’ve walked your path. And I continue to do so with my son and my students. And I can’t wait to discover more along this journey. If you’re one of the people have been waiting for nonlinear education to launch which is the course where we teach science and math to children of all abilities, but specifically children with disability, you are in luck. Right now it’s only available as a bonus with my other course.

My other course is called the roadmap to attention and regulation and enrollment is open for the next 10 days. You can sign up at functional nutrition for kids.com/roar. That’s R.O.A.R  functionalnutritionforkids.com/roar. Enrollment stops in 10 days. I am really excited to hear from Nicole Hearns today, let’s give her a warm welcome. My guest today Nicole Holmes is an avid proponent of functional nutrition testing since she began working at Spectra cell labs in 2005. In the new sense, she has developed training materials for practitioners who wish to integrate functional nutrition diagnostics into their practice, with special emphasis on the role of micronutrient deficiencies in various diseases. She has a bachelor’s degree in chemistry and a master’s in business. And she understands both the scientific and practical aspects of lab testing in today’s shifting paradigm of healthcare. Nicole lives in beautiful northern Colorado with her husband and three sons. Welcome, Nicole. It’s always a pleasure to have a fellow chemist. Thank you glad to be here. Yeah. And, you know, obviously, when anyone thinks about Spectra cell, the first thing that comes into mind is micronutrient testing. And micronutrient testing itself comes into prominence with ADHD, because there are so many studies that correlate symptoms of impulsivity, attention, hyperactivity with specific micronutrient deficiencies. But can you tell us a little bit more about the Spectra cell itself and what micronutrients you test for? Well, the Spectra cell.

The Spectra cell test is at its heart is a lymphocyte proliferation assay that measures the functional status of 31 nutrients, plus four unique metabolic tests. So I know that’s kind of a mouthful, but basically, it’s a blood test that is done on lymphocytes. And it actually, we actually take whole blood, we isolate lymphocytes, grow them in a perfect nutritional environment. And that’s kind of the heart of our test, we have this. This was developed 30 years ago, at the University of Texas at Austin, and we grow the lymphocytes in the perfect nutritional environment. And then we assess each nutrient individually to see that like, for example, we are testing for vitamin b1. We grow the lymphocytes in the perfect environment and then we grow them in an environment that does not have b1. So when we expose them to a culture that doesn’t have b1, then the cells have to use their intracellular reserves of vitamin b1 In order to, you know, perform all the metabolic functions necessary to replicate, and grow and do what a cell is supposed to do.

If the cell is deficient in B one or can’t use the B one that it has, it will be functionally deficient in the growth will be compromised. And so we compare that growth to growth of the lymphocyte in the perfect environment and the difference, if there is a significant difference, then the cell is deficient. If the growth rate does not significantly different, then the cell is not deficient in that nutrient because it had the nutrient the reserves of that nutrient in order to proliferate. And so, that’s the heart of their test. It’s it really is a very advanced test, but simple in its sort of clinical utility, it basically measures how well the cell is utilizing the 31 nutrients that we test. In a nutshell. I really like Danny, it’s such a very controlled test. But can you tell me why lymphocytes specifically? Um, it’s a good question, um, one of the biggest reasons is that lymphocytes lymphocyte, health and we do this on T lymphocytes. So, T lymphocytes, which are our white blood cells that basically, you know, the kind of the general of the immune system, and lymphocyte health or the ability of lymphocytes to respond to their environment is very, very connected to systemic health. And this is, there are 1000s, probably 10s of 1000s of papers in the medical literature that tie lymphocytes that tie, limp, lymphocyte proliferation assays to general health. And so, so, number one, it’s a good cell to correlate to the cells of other tissue, I mean, to the health of other tissues into the general health.

Another big reason, though, is that it’s a nucleated cell. So because it’s a nucleated cell, anything that would affect growth, from a genetic perspective, or, you know, whatever, or an epigenetic perspective, would affect the lymphocyte growth, because it’s a nucleated cell, as opposed to if we were looking at red blood cells that don’t have Nicholas, it’s not going to tell us really anything about how nutritionally replete those cells are. So because it’s nucleated, that takes into account the whole genetic component, which is huge of cell health. And then it’s the third reason is that a lymphocyte proliferation assay is like I had mentioned before, it’s very established in the literature as a method for stimulating cell growth. In other words, it’s not a lymphocyte proliferation assay is not a test that Spectra cell invented, we invented a way to measure nutritional status using this method, but the lymphocyte proliferation assay is has been used in, you know, cancer research immune research for decades. So it’s a well-established marker for measuring cell growth. And then, you know, finally, they’re, you know, relatively easy to collect. I mean, if we, you know, you know, brain tissue might be a really good marker of systemic health as well, but you can’t do you know, you can collect brains, you know, obviously, blood cells are relatively easy to collect.

Right? And this, this doesn’t involve a full blood draw, correct? It does, it’s, it has to be its peripheral lymphocytes that we use and it has to be collected via venipuncture. So we have to get the blood of the vein and we get that we have that question a lot of you know, why can’t we just do a finger prick test? You know, that would be convenient but the thing is, it’s although it presents a logistical hurdle that we have to do phlebotomy blood draw the reason why our test is so great is that we are looking at live lymphocytes. So we actually, we have the blood drawn in our lab is based in Texas, so any, you know, we have to anywhere in the United States, we can get blood within 24 hours but basically, we need to have the blood in our lab within 24 hours of being drawn because we’re taking the whole blood removing the lymphocytes and growing the lymphocytes This is a very you know, in-depth test and so because we’re using whole lymphocytes, I mean whole blood and growing lymphocytes we need to have fresh blood if you will, and we need to have enough to culture it so we do need venipuncture blood that’s why we can’t do it.

You can’t do a finger prick test because it’s more advanced to test the net product. So, so far I’m just to drive a couple of reasons that, you know, testing lymphocytes is so useful is because they are particularly sensitive to representing micronutrient deficiencies. And secondly, it’s because the cell is mediated. So it gives a good reflection of what the effects of genetics epigenetics might be. Would that be right?

That is absolutely correct. Yes. Right. So I had a few other questions. But I think that because we’re going in this direction. Let me talk to you about the questions that I have with respect to the testing. Now, you’ve already told us what makes Spectra cell different from other tests, but I am kind of curious to know a little bit more because often when, when I want to measure my son’s zinc status or magnesium status I suppose I go to his PCP, what I’m hearing about is serum zinc, sometimes.

Sometimes we hear about plasma measurements. What is the IV know that Spectra cell measures lymphocytes? Can you tell us a little bit more about the actual difference we’re seeing between all of these different words, serum plasma lymphocytes, yes? Um, so when you go, if you go to the hospital or your primary care physician, you’ll usually you know, a lot of people intuitively understand when they get a serum, magnesium, for example, or a serum vitamin D, because you’re drawing blood and you’re looking at the amount of vitamin D that is floating around in your bloodstream, people understand that. And consequently, your vitamin D or serum measurements will always be measured in like nanograms per milliliter or a mass per unit volume, because you’re just looking at what is existing there at the time of the blood drop, right? So the sectional test is really fundamentally very, very different.

We, first of all, it’s not measuring what’s present in the blood, like floating around your blood, we’re measuring how well the cell can use what is there. So in the case of vitamin D, for example, we’re measuring how well your cell can use the vitamin D that is available to it. In other words, maybe you have a lot of vitamin D, a very, you know, a lot of vitamin D in your blood, but it can’t be it’s, you’re not effectively transporting it across the cell membrane to get into the cell, well, then it doesn’t matter, the cell can’t use it, it’s you’re going to be deficient in it. Or maybe for some reason, magnesium is a good example. Because you might be ingesting a lot of magnesium, but maybe you’re not absorbing it through your gut. And so it wouldn’t make it to the sale. Or maybe you’re taking a medication that depletes you of magnesium, so you have more of a need than maybe someone else. So even though you have you might be ingesting a lot. It’s not, your cells are still needing more or their cells cannot use it. So basically specter cells measure how well your cells use, what is there, regardless of how much is there, whether it’s a lot or a little. And a serum test is simply measuring what is present from a ball in a mass, just mass per unit volume. And as a result that the Spectra cell test, we report it in percent, which a lot of that’s a common question we have is why zoom report, say, you know, my magnesium is reported in percent we report it qualitatively as deficient or borderline or normal.

Then quantitatively, we measure we report it in percent. And that is because we are measuring the growth rate of the cell when in an environment that doesn’t have the nutrient and then carrying that to the growth rate of the cell in the perfect environment. And because it’s a ratio of cell growth, it’s measured in percent. And so I want that nickel. Yeah. Yeah. And I love that we’re talking units because I’m feeling really happy about that. But, yes, so the unit of measurement. But yeah, that actually makes sense. It’s the percentage of an ideal growth rate. Right. So yeah, so and so you’re seeing that the difference as trying to I, one of the ways that I understand things is by classifying and categorizing. So as trying to categorize the ways in which you were talking about how a lymphocyte test or a Spectra cell test is different from the serum test, and the three things I got for one of them is the accessibility of the cell to the nutrient how well it can use it. One is bioavailability. How well I suppose that’s the right word, how well it gets into the cell. And the third one is maybe the actual need itself,, which could be greater or more depending on your individual biochemical situation.

That’s exactly right. And it’s, that’s the beauty of the spec shell test is it will tell you if your cells are deficient in a nutrient regardless of the reasons, you know, the reason could be something, it could be a genetic, it could be, you know, you could have an eight-year-old, you know, two-pack a day smoker and a 25-year-old elite athlete, and they’re both deficient in the same nutrient for obviously very different reasons. You know it doesn’t, it doesn’t. It’s not like an algorithm where you’re plugging in, this is what I’m eating, this is the medications I’m taking, this is my lifestyle, it really is assessing your personal cell nutritional status. At in the truest sense of the word, it is truly taking your biochemical individual individuality into account. And I did want to mention one other thing about lymphocytes, I forgot to mention, which is really important. We use peripheral lymphocytes, which have a lifespan of about four to six months. So the Spectra cell test is actually a long-term marker. Because we’re taking, we’re taking cells that can be anywhere from four to six months old. In other words, if you eat a bunch of something, or you take a bunch of supplements a few days before, it’s not gonna affect the spectrum because it takes a while to drive those nutrients into the cell for functional utilization.

Conversely, if you do serum testing, if you just do testing on, you know, day one, and you take a ton of supplements, you know, a couple of days later, your serum tests can fluctuate wildly, because it’s really a very transient measure. It totally is subject to, you know, short term pores, short term, you know, differences in what you eat, and that kind of thing. And another thing that complicates serum testing is that if a person has inflammation, for whatever reason, whether it’s they ran a marathon, or they just got COVID, if you have inflammation, your steering testing may be misleading, because what happens is, when your body’s inflamed, particularly with minerals, your body will tell will pull the minerals from their cellular stores and move them into the blood so they can go where they’re supposed to go to, like, do what they’re supposed to do. And so, a lot of times, you know, doctors, like a buffering of the blood, maybe?

That’s exactly right. Yes, it’s, it’s so it’s misleading, because you might have very high during a very highly inflammatory state, sometimes you have high minerals on a serum test, which seems like that doesn’t make sense. But really, your body’s pulling those minerals to try to, you know, move them throughout the body, the special test isn’t affected by that directly, or at least in the short term, because we’re looking at cell growth, not how much is present in the blood, it’s a very fundamental, because I have  been studying that blood, you know, has this tendency to stay in homeostasis. So which makes me sad, it’s really not going to get that much we still don’t see deficiencies known then. But that makes a lot of sense. So Spectra cell is more of an average measure, maybe like the analogy that I’m thinking of is your fasting glucose with, as opposed to your hemoglobin evens kind of thing? That’s exactly it’s a good analogy, where hemoglobin m and c is a little bit more of a long term, it is a longer-term marker, and fasting glucose can fluctuate wildly. That’s the same with serum versus a functional growth test. And, you know, it’s not to say that serum isn’t useful. But it’s, it can be misleading, you know, and there’s a lot of literature that, that, you know, shows for, for example, magnesium, if you do, if you look at intracellular levels of magnesium versus serum levels, in many cases, the intracellular levels will correlate with clinical conditions, but serum levels may be in the normal range, the quote-unquote, normal range for the population, where that there’s still a functional magnesium deficiency because this there might be enough in the serum that makes you fall into the normal range, but the cells either need more or can’t use it, or aren’t getting it transported for whatever reason, the cells are still deficient. And so the special test is like, what is a much deeper look into cell health.

The beauty is, it’s if you correct those deficiencies, the results can be great, you know, really, really amazing. Whereas serum it’s, it’s not as it’s, it’s, you for subclinical deficiencies, the serum is not going to be as useful when you have a massive gross deficiency than serum will, you know, may show that, but we’re talking about, you know, like, for example, scurvy, you know, Scurvy is a gross deficiency of vitamin C. But before you get to scurvy, there’s going to be a long time of years where you may have a subclinical deficiency and that’s Respect still comes in Spectra cell is a deeper look at what’s going on before these sort of acute deficiencies manifest.

That makes sense. That makes sense. I mean, I think and a lot of times in functional lab testing, we’re actually that is our goal. We’re looking at functional deficiencies that were not. I mean, if at all, there were a serious clinical deficiency at that point, it would probably go beyond the function and doctor’s office already. Yeah, so I do have a, which brings me to a question about I think you mentioned vitamin D in the beginning, what is the deal with vitamin D? How come everyone’s deficient in vitamin D, because I thought that the markers of I took it for a structural self-test, this might be different because you’re not, you’re not basing it 100%. When your idea levels are not based on other people coming into the labs, but serum levels are often based on aren’t your upper and lower limits of sufficiency based on you know, kind of an average of the number of people it’s like a box and whisker plot of the number of people coming into for testing. And I just, it oftentimes kind of stumps me as to how we’re seeing this level of vitamin deficiency.

I don’t know that I’ve met many people that actually have one remember that? Yes, I vitamin D, I sort of call it the nutrients that are getting all the glory, because there are so many studies on it. But well, first of all, it’s interesting. When we look at all of the results of the, you know, 1000s and 10 1000s, of spectra cells that we’ve done, Vitamin D is a common deficiency we see as well, not. Some of the other really common ones would be zinc. Zinc is very commonly deficient on the Spectra cell test. But vitamin D is I mean, it’s, you know, common, probably, you know, around 20% of the results probably have a vitamin D deficiency or a borderline vitamin D deficiency. So the question is, why is the population so deficient? You know, it’s a, that’s a broader question. But one thing about vitamin D, that’s unique is its vitamin D is a little unusual, and that it’s not really a vitamin, it’s more like a hormone. And so it, there’s many tissues of the body have vitamin D receptors, I don’t, I mean, like, you know, dozens of tissues have vitamin D receptors. So it’s a very systemically utilized nutrient, not that other nutrients aren’t but so many of our tissues are using vitamin D, and Vitamin D has such broad functions from you know, the conventionally studied bone health to inflammation, which is huge.

It moderates regulate inflammation, to immunity, and even mood, that type of thing. And so I think, honestly, I think because so many people are, you know, chronically inflamed, I mean, I think that, that in the US, there’s, you know, a lot of people have chronic inflammation. This makes sense because a lot of people are vitamin D deficient, I don’t know, it’s the chicken or the egg. Which ones first Are you inflamed? Because you don’t have enough vitamin D? Or do you not have enough vitamin D, because your body’s inflamed and sort of, like using up the resources or needs more? i We don’t know. But because, you know, I would say that we, we haven’t, I don’t want to say an epidemic of inflammation, but we are, you know, many people are inflamed, they don’t know it, you know, because people think of inflammation like you’re you have a cut and it’s painful. But if you think really, anybody who has chronic pain is probably inflamed. And so that’s a lot of the population or anybody who has any type of kind of chronic problem, you know, you know, diabetes, or, you know, even headaches or things that you don’t really tend to link right away with inflammation, you know, we our bodies are designed to basically be pain-free and healthy. And so if, if you have any kind of pain, I mean, that that is a signal, you know, which can be, you know, related to inflammation, but, you know, I think because, I guess in a nutshell because vitamin D is such a broad nutrient from the, from a body standpoint, from a tissue standpoint, that it’s just easier to be deficient. I feel like even though magnesium is not a hormone, you could probably argue similarly for magnesium, right? Because we see such a spectral self-testing as well, but there’s a lot of magnesium deficiency around.

Yeah, and I think it’s, you know, it’s interesting because, um, you know, there are certain nutrients on the special test that you don’t quite see as often that are deficient in. But magnesium, zinc, and vitamin D are certainly common deficiencies. It also just might be, you know, magnesium and zinc are used in over 100. They’re cofactors to over 100 enzymatic reactions in the body. So because they’re so widely used, there are so many ways they could be, you know, used up, or there’s if there’s such a high need for them in the body, whereas some of the other nutrients maybe are a little bit more specific to tissues, if you will. So they don’t show up as systemic deficiencies quite as much. But I think it’s just because they’re so like I said, they can magnesium are used in so many different reactions. There’s a lot of places they can be used up, if you will. That makes sense.

Yeah, you recommend follow-up testing to see if the nutritional status is back up? And how long does it usually take? I’m guessing when people repeat themselves? They’re usually using micronutrient supplementation of some sort. Hopefully, they’re also using diet. Right? Yeah. Yeah. I mean, of course, you know, hopefully, they’re using diet because you can’t, you know, eat a junk food diet, and then supplement your way to help, you know, but yeah, the thing is, the beauty of the cell is this, this test is appropriate for, you know, acutely ill, or healthy, because if you think about micronutrients are so fundamental, that it’s a very fundamental test. And it’s, it’s, and so, okay, so if you get a Spectra cell test, you’ll see, you know, deficiencies or it’ll, it’ll show you deficiencies, and usually, we recommend, six months, is the soonest you would probably retest because the cells have done on, you know, live four to six months. So to change your cell health, it takes a while, it’s, it’s unlike serum, like, if serum, if you were deficient, you could just take a bunch of that nutrients, and your serum levels would change pretty quickly within a matter of days or weeks. But driving that into the cell, from a functional standpoint, takes longer in, you know, the good news is that if it is true can be curative. In some cases, you know, this is it’s, it’s your cells are lacking in nutrients, or cannot use a nutrient you correcting that can completely change the health of the cell permanently. But because the cells are four to six months old, six months is probably the soonest, but a yearly test would be ideal this isn’t something you would get every month or whatever, but a yearly test would be ideal.

You could supplement accordingly, you get the test, you look at what your deficiencies are, supplement, or change your lifestyle accordingly. Or just, you know, I mean, that’s a big, big picture when you look at your test, because a lot of times, you know, some of the deficiencies are caused by medications. And so it’s a, it’s a very broad picture. But when you’re just looking at your deficiencies, and you want to correct those, you supplement accordingly. And then you would see if you did target your supplementation, you should see a change in about six months. There are a few analytes that maybe are a little bit quicker, but it’s about six months to replete a cell A lymphocyte. That’s six months, what you said about the about a being an average representation of what’s going on in that. Yeah, that makes sense. What are other conditions that Spectra cell testing has been used for in kids? And we talked about ADHD? Yeah. Well, we there’s you know, we’ve some pediatricians that have used it for children with autism. But and those are probably the most because because, you know, kids don’t present with chronic diseases like heart disease and diabetes and hypertension and that kind of thing. Sometimes, like headaches and stuff. But, and then a big one is immune health, you know, kids that have chronic infections and they really have you know, get a lot of, you know, pathogen whatever colds and flus and stuff. Well, this test is perfectly appropriate for that, I mean, it’s done on a lymphocyte. But all of that our whole immune system is dependent on micronutrients to function.

There’s a lot of cellular communication and feedback that makes your immune system effective. And the thing about the immune system is ideally your lymphocytes. You want them to respond to their environment, and then settle back down when the thread is, you know, taken care of, or whatever. And that’s, that’s the thing is a lymphocyte, we’re measuring how well the lymphocyte responds to its environment. Meaning you want, like I said, you, you don’t want just the immune system to just, you know, be in high gear forever, obviously, that, you know, will start coming into autoimmunity, and then you have these, you know, your immune system is hasn’t settled down. And so we are looking at really your lymphocyte response to a stimulant, a growth, a growth stimulant, not just the lymphocyte, like being turned on and not being turned off. And so that’s important. In that translates to the pediatric population, you know, we want them to have a, an immune system that is sensitive to ramp up and to ramp down, it needs to be sensitive to outside cues. In both directions, that makes sense. And so this test is appropriate for that because it’s, it’s, you know, lymphocytes are micronutrient dependent, for all of their functions. And if you if you are deficient in a nutrient, your lymphocyte can, you know, not work like it’s supposed to work? And that is fundamental, obviously, to our immune system. But, yeah, no, that makes sense.

Now, we know that like common deficiencies and supplementation that works for ADHD symptoms, omega threes, and though technically not a micronutrient, is omega threes measured in any way by the Spectra cell tests. Wait, no, they’re not. It’s and that’s a big, you know, Omega three, status is huge. There’s other tests that are really good for omega, but the Spectra cell does not measure any omega three fatty acids. It just it’s I mean, we measure 31 nutrients plus for metabolic tests, that just happens to be not one of them, we don’t measure everything on that, you know, every measure everything. And the reason is, like adding a nutrient to our panel, it’s a very, very big investment of like research, and you’re really you have to this, this test was developed, you know, in, in the University of Texas, and it really was the culmination of like decades of research, it was based on you know, Roger Williams, the father of biochemistries, in the 50s, a lot of his research kind of, was, was used in this test, which was developed in the in the 80s, in the early 90s.

The heart of our test is this culture medium that we grow the lymphocytes in, it’s patented, it’s it’s in the thing is that we add nutrients, we have to invest in changing that. And so it’s, it’s a, it’s a very, very big deal. We’ve added nutrients over the past 30 years, but there, it’s it’s a lot of investment to do that. And there are other tests that are really good for omega-three fatty acids. So our test isn’t measuring, but I definitely for the, you know, ADHD and autistic population. I think measuring omega three fatty acids is absolutely important. Good idea, right? Yeah, yeah, absolutely. Yeah. No, but I mean, it’s still a thank you for this, you know, fantastic information. I did learn a lot of stuff that I didn’t know. And I think it’s one of the four metabolic factors that it measures.

And it’s one of them is called a spectra rocks, and it measures your cell’s ability to resist oxidative stress. So we measure in individual interactions in the panel, you know, like vitamin C, vitamin D, selenium, coenzyme, q 10, these antioxidants, but we also do a test that just basically we subject the cell to oxidative stress and see how well it fares. So it’s a total inactive budget, which is really important, especially in ADHD, see a lot of low spec drugs, basically, the cells cannot handle oxidative stress. So that’s one of them. This another one is called the immune index. Naming index is a very special sort of, it’s very underrated because it’s not quite as intuitively understood. But it is a measure of your total immune function. It’s basically the first step of every m&t where we take the lymphocytes and grow them in the perfect environment. And so that measure we put on a report that is called the immune index, it’s basically the best your lymphocytes can grow. And that’s really important because it’s very, closely tied to systemic health. So Total Immune Function is the second one and then the other two are metabolic tests that assess carbohydrate metabolism. One of them is called the glucose-insulin test. It’s not a measure of insulin deficiency, it’s a measure of the cell’s ability to use insulin. So it’s more like an insulin sensitivity assessment, which is a very valuable test.

They’re all they’re like for superstar kind of tests. And they, they’re there. It’s almost like we don’t even talk about those because nutrients are so much more like intuitively understood. But anyway, the fourth one is called fructose sensitivity. And fructose sensitivity is measuring not fructose deficiency, it’s measuring a deficiency in the ability to metabolize fructose in yourself, which is manifests, you know, with fatigue, sometimes. attention disorder, that kind of thing. Fructose sensitivity can be very clinically problematic. So yeah, so one of them antioxidant punch, and one of them immune function. And then one of them is, how will your cells use insulin, and one of them is how well your cells can metabolize fructose, those are the four metabolic tests.
Got it? And I can already see a lot of, I’m not going to say full overlap, but I can already see a lot of areas that I was depending on an organic acid test, which I probably look at Spectra cell going forward. And especially because it’s like you said it’s more of an average measure than urine metabolites as well. Right? Yeah. Well, thank you so much for this information.

Before we wrap up this podcast, how could clients order these tests? Well, we, you can order them directly through our website, you can actually just go on and order the micronutrient test, and you get what you, you get like a kit shipped to you. And so you’ll have to take that kit and go get your blood drawn. Now, we have a thing on our website that lets you find a phlebotomist basically. So you can’t, you know, you can’t just get this kit at home and send it back, you get the kit. And then you take it to a phlebotomist or anywhere a draw site, we call them and so you find a draw site and get your blood drawn. And then all of the shipping instructions, because it has to be overnighted to our lab, is all of that is included in the kit, like the overnight FedEx thing and everything. So you give it to the phlebotomist, they return it to our lab. So you can order directly in or, you know, a lot of people order through their doctors, we used to just sell to doctors, you know, for like 25 years, but the you know, things are changing in healthcare where people want to order their own labs, they want to be able to get their own testing and not have to go through a doctor. So we do now offer the test directly to the public, which makes it a lot you know, easier for some people who don’t, because a lot of people don’t go to a functional doctor, or their you know, their doctor isn’t familiar with the Spectra cell test or whatever. And so they, but they still want to get it done. You can just go to the website, get a kit, go get your blood drawn and send it back to us.

I see. Okay, that’s easy enough. Yeah. Yes. Thank you so much, Nicole for joining us. I think this was a this was a really nice conversation I’m really grateful for your time today. My pleasure. This was a beautifully detailed discussion. Anyone that discusses units with numbers is my best friend already. I always tell my chemistry students no numbers without units, and Nicole had me at nanogram per deciliter. Now remember, enrollment to roll stop soon. So if you want to learn more about the floor and get an LE as a bonus, nonlinear education as bonus Sign up today at functional nutrition for kids.com/store Talk soon. I hope you have a fun time exploring functional labs checking out Spectra cell bye.

83 “Fracking Fossilized Minds” with Imane Boukaila [Autistic Voices]

83 “Fracking Fossilized Minds” with Imane Boukaila [Autistic Voices]

Imane uses a speech generating device – and sometimes the audio isn’t completely clear – even though Imane’s thoughts are beyond Crystal Clear. So do check out the VIDEO version of this podcast, so you can soak in Imane’s beautiful language completely. [I would have uploaded the video here, but have a data limit]

In this last episode of 2021, non-speaking Autistic poet Imane Boukaila shares her strong, beautifully framed thoughts.

Imane comes to language in a very unique way and to listen (and in our case also read) her thoughts is a deep insight and I now understand why she says “Shallow thinkers would drown in the depths of Autistic Minds” ~ Happy Listening!



Audio Transcription:


In today’s podcast you get to meet a moving nomad. She specializes in extracting the essence of true artistic nonspeaking poetry. manvel Kala in a Twitter bio Eman says that shallow thinkers would drown in the depths of artistic minds. I’m honored to bring you such a deep true and resonating mind. In the 83rd podcast of functional nutrition and learning for kids. It is the last of the year and it’s fitting that it ends with the resounding note of artistic voices in a man’s words, fracking fossilized minds, high advice, chemistry and functional nutrition consultant and science educator. I’m also mom to apply to Down Syndrome and Autism who is also nonspeaking. And if you have followed me before, you know that we’ve been through years of bodily healing through dietary modifications and gut support and mental freedom through assuming intelligence.

I present this podcast functional nutrition and learning for kids in order to bring to you the lessons that have changed my life. I’m also concurrently working on two courses that reflect this very, these very lessons. One of them is called roadmap to attention and regulation and the other is called nonlinear education. And if you want to get a sample of what they feel like, check out my free Ebook at www.functionalnutritionforkids.com/learning. The course itself releases on the 28th of January. And this is both of them because nonlinear education is actually a free bonus with when you buy roadmap to attention and regulation. You can sign up for both of them together if you like at functional nutrition for kids.com/roar. That’s R.O.A.R like the line right now coming back to today’s podcast, as you listen to a man’s words today because of their unusual depth. And also because I want to give listeners a second to pause, read and reread if possible. This podcast comes in a visual mode, where you can see the subtitles transcribed over audio onto the podcast. Today’s guest is my favorite part a man  is a 15 year old minimally speaking artistic poet whose chapbook truth OMG has just been released. She’s a mind in my mind. She is a mind breaking wordsmith. And he man I just read the short poem on Chris Martin’s website and I’m just going to read that out just three lines. I’m a moving Nomad thinker, thoroughly fracking fossil ideas extracting the essence of truth. Now want to say that every time I hear your words, I feel like someone’s breaking in open my fossilized mind. So I’m so grateful to have you here. Thank you for being here.

Hi, so nice to see treasuring being your guests. And our listeners are mostly parents of kids with autism Down syndrome or ADHD. How would you introduce yourself to them and mature sneaker searching for valuing ways to be stressed, free and enjoy mostly mastering being the best version of my artistic self. I’m a true seeker searching titrating ways to be and enjoy mostly mastering being the best version of Autistics. And I think truth seeker describes you in so many ways you man, thank you for that. Thank you for spelling that out. You know in this podcast, we’re talking about three things. We’re talking about respect, access to communication, but also diet. Now wanted to ask you before we get into diets at all, what has been the biggest agent of change in your life what has been the one thing that you feel has really changed your life? A remarkable fashion. Sampling so many therapies stressed me out nothing motions to be helpful.

Sampling so many therapies stressed me out Messy emotions to be hopeful. Dreams only became true with lower finessing hesitation. So dreams only became true with molds. Messing hesitation vilifying me instead, allow us to home and share our thoughts truly hurt but in a rival going forward with my reasons to change opinion are less believers. So vilifying means allow us to home and share our thoughts truly hurts. But I’m a rebel, going forward with my reasons to change opinionated disbelievers. in mind, I wanted to ask you about diet if you have like so this is more of a very specific question in terms Is there anything you want to share? I know that you talked about therapies being more disturbing than useful going to multiple therapies being a little disturbing if I got that right. But specifically changing diets has there. Has there been a diet that has helped you feel better? Already Is there anything you want to share about that?

Yeah, I truly think that gets helped me clear hammock disturbing the mind motions amplifying anxiety stuck on the presently preventing motivation to trough I was able to find my way out. So she said yes, I truly think the diets helped me clear have to disturbing the mind motions amplifying anxiety stuck on the presidency, preventing motivation to trust, I was able to find that was to trust that I was able to fund Thank you, man. That’s good to know. And that’s generally been something that I’ve heard from, from everybody from, from all the artistic non-speakers that I have interviewed that, that some restrictions have actually helped them be more free. A lot of times, one of the questions I was going to ask you were that do you think restrictions add to your life quality or take away? But I think you answered that well, in that, in that you talked about that died did help you clear your mind? I have a question.

If you could change one thing about your bodily comfort or bodily experience, what what would it be? What would you like to feel better in your body about? Mostly free my mind is clouded stress, and Trupti mastered imposing habits that have just mostly free my mind of plaudits stress and interrupting, mastered impulsive habits that hack trust, attack, trust. Thank you, anxiety, anxiety, and you know, just learned, like she said, learned impulsive. Because that was her way to communicate back then. Right. So now it’s just automatic. And it’s very hard to strong motor loop kind of thing.
And she does ask me, how do we, you know, how do we break habits? How how can I, you know, I said, you know, we have to learn new habits. Because once they’re myelinated, that’s it. They’re there. So we just have to learn new ones slowly.

My next question is a little bit of a loaded one. Autism is often viewed as a social or a medical model. And depending on where you stand, people feel very strongly about this one way or the other. And I’ve had some surprising insights from some of the people I’ve interviewed, that I did not expect them to answer one way or the other. What are your thoughts in viewing autism as a medical model, or as a social model?

I don’t know if she answered your question. But she said breathing, really leading minds very reshaping the potential of individual’s truth is autism is portrayed as a medical model, implying troubled brain streaming, low functioning cognition, that we have free motions, expanding our perceptions, minds novel ways of thinking.

I think she did I think that that is a clear statement against a medical model. It is yes. All right, Eman. My final question to you and thank you for being so patient with me is  do you have a message for parents, you know, entering their journey with their child with any disability? Yes, incremental motives. To heal speech is imposed mostly by herd mentality, grieving the average child. mess your ingrained doubts and trust the very uniqueness embodied by your child stress troubles treasuring streams of freedom to savor meaningful. Well said. Thank you. I think that’s a great message for parents. Thank you. Thank you, both of you. Thank you so much. Congratulations on your Chapbook Thank you.

Thank you for listening. In this podcast imagine makes a strong statement. Truth is autism is portrayed as a medical model implying trouble brains. Strain In low functioning cognition, but we have three motions expanding our perceptions, trusting minds novel ways of thinking. You can find more speakers and non-speakers different voices and toolkits at functional nutrition for kids.com. And with that profound statement of demand against the medical model of autism, I wish you a very, very happy holiday season. See you next year signing off. I’m your host Weisz and I hope you have a wonderful new year. Talk to you soon.

82 The Scientific Process of Figuring out Food Allergies with Kathlena, the Allergy Chef

82 The Scientific Process of Figuring out Food Allergies with Kathlena, the Allergy Chef

Kathlena, the Allergy Chef, has over 200 food allergies and intolerances, so many more than others can even imagine. And having been through this complex and hard journey, brings a uniquely empowered and scientific mindset to working with food restrictions.

I can truly say that talking to Kathlena changed my perspective on how to work with foods. If you want to understand how to make cooking a precise science – done with the passion of an art – look no farther.

Episode notes at www.functionalnutritionforkids.com/2021/82

Use code functional50 for 50% off your first month of membership at RAISE (Kathlena’s Recipe Finder) https://goraise.net/ That code is good for 1 year.

Free Ebook on gut health at www.functionalnutritionforkids.com/guthealth



Audio Transcription: 

Hello, I’m Vaish and welcome to Functional Nutrition and Learning for kids: the podcast that takes you from frustration to empowerment, empowerment in your child’s health, in your child’s calm and your child’s learning. I’m a chemist, a TEDx speaker, functional nutrition practitioner, math and chemistry teacher, and also mom to a nonspeaking teen poet with Down syndrome and Autism. This podcast was born from a desire to share with the world of families, families with kids with disabilities, and without disabilities. That intelligence is a core human trait. It is not isolated to kids that are talented and gifted.

I wanted to share that gut health impacts brain health, the gut, brain access is real. that food is medicine. And really that there is a lot you can do for your child if they’re struggling with their mood, struggling with their food focus or regulation. So whether you have a child with Down syndrome, autism, ADHD or any other disability, you may find that this is the right place for you. If you do like this podcast, take a minute and leave us a rating wherever you’re listening. And if you don’t like this podcast, take a minute to write to us at support at functional nutrition for kids.com. And tell us what we can do better. On Kathlena. I’m really excited to interview today’s guest Kathlena, the allergy chef has over 200 food allergies and intolerances. Several of her allergies are life threatening. She has a handful of safe foods to eat and one source of safe water. Additionally, most of the members of her household also have food allergies and special diets. None of them the same.

After being given 30 days to live, she made it her mission to help the food allergy and special diet communities thrive. And although she can eat the food, she helps people find safe and delicious options. Three years from her lowest point she and her team have published several cookbooks started a bakery done local and nationwide outreach, developed hundreds of free recipes and resources and much more. You can learn all about their mentors at the allergy chef.com That’s one word, the allergy chef.com Kathlena Welcome to functional nutrition and learning for kids. I’m so excited just from our brief conversation until now I’m really excited to chat with you. I mean, you already come across as a very fun person. Thank you for being so glad Thank you for having me. I’m actually really excited because I love these topics. Right? They’re, they’re so important. And I feel like there’s so much education that we’ve kind of lost as a society, you know, like you rewind 50 years, and I think they taught a lot more about nutrition and food and just different things in schools. And now it’s like vanished. Right? And I think it’s these are important conversations to just have.

I was reading your story on your website. And you know, you’re probably used to hearing this a lot that your story is remarkable. I really love your resilience, your attitude, your, your comeback from the different adversities that you’ve faced. And I don’t know, just the incredible resources that you have brought up in your resourcefulness. So if you don’t mind sharing, how do you keep yourself motivated in the face of these hurdles that others might find an insurmountable? Um, I don’t know. I think if I were to give an honest answer, I don’t know it. I think that’s why the people who are closest to me, we all agree like, this is like a God given thing, right? Like, there I don’t, because I don’t have an explanation for it. It’s just to me, you can sit there and feel sorry for yourself, or you can do something about it. Right. Like, that’s kind of always been my mentality since I was a child.

And, you know, it also helps that I hate being told what to do in the sense of, like, I don’t mind it in some areas. But if someone tells me I can’t do something, as in, it’s not possible. I take so much joy in proving them wrong. Right. And so, when we have a world that is not designed for people with restricted diets, a world that says, oh, you can’t have delicious Italian food without onion and garlic, I’m like, oh, yeah, watch me, you know, and, and that’s my thing, right? I just, I love kind of shoving it in people’s faces in a polite way. And just being like, ha, look at this, you know, and look at that, and, and then of course, inspiring the next generation and just saying to people like, Wait, why are you sad that you can’t have these things? You can have all these other things over here, you know, like, yeah, I don’t know if people have these strong connections to food, which is totally understandable. I think you know, I’ve said this before, I think my personal life is just the perfect storm of awful to be something that can create something new for other people and
In the sense of, I don’t have food connections the way people do, right, like all these people like, Oh, my grandma’s cookies, and my this and my like, you know, when food has caused you pain since as long as you can remember, there is no connection, right? There’s no positive food memory to be had.

Therefore, for me, it’s like, it’s easy to separate myself from it all right, and just look at it from a completely different lens. And I think, you know, that’s part of what’s allowed me to create, like, for example, our advanced recipe search, where you’ve got 85 different combinations. And actually, it’s more than that now, but all these different allergens and special diets and all these things, and I think it’s because, you know, because I’m allergic to so much I see the overlap, right? To me, it’s clear as day. But with other people, they just don’t see it.

They’re so narrowly focused, you know, or you have a blogger that’s only gluten free. You’re only keto, only paleo. Only this, only that. And I’m like, you guys realize you could all sit together in a room and with three modifications eat the same food, right? Like, people just don’t see it. Where I do. And I think, you know, even sometimes it frustrates me like, there was there was a group lobbying for some gluten free labeling of medication. I’m like, timing the heck out? Why did they only say gluten free? Why didn’t they help the whole community? Why didn’t they say gluten free and top eight? And let’s throw in like two more things? Like, let’s just roll it all up into one bill? Like, why are we making everybody work so hard for it? When they already had their foot in the door? Right. I don’t mean it in a negative way.

I honestly think they just didn’t think about it, right? Because if you take a group of people who were only gluten free, they’re only going to think about people who are gluten free. Right. And, and that’s my thing. Like, I think I see a much, much, much bigger picture. And I don’t know that many people do. You know, I don’t know that many people do either. I certainly don’t. I think just having this conversation is very eye-opening in many ways. So that’s really cool. Like, I can see that you see a bigger picture. Now just thinking about what you said that you don’t like to be told what to do. I think that that attitude might be the mother of so many people just kind of finding a completely new way of doing things you’re I don’t know have you ever done that personality test where you’re rebel or question Are you a rebel?

I’ve actually not done the test but I imagine I’m all over the place like I don’t know. Yeah, it’s Gretchen Reubens personality test out but anyway, so
I think your story is obviously a great you know, lunch for those of us that are having difficulty giving up even one food and coming up with you know, so many reasons why that can’t happen. And dairy, we know that they can cause you know, neurological problems autoimmunity, all that stuff. And yet, those are the foods that you know, there’s so many emotional, probably even addictive connections to to them not saying that everybody has to go off. But just since we’re talking about an allergy-friendly diets, what is your biggest advice to those? Those questions have to give up gluten and dairy for these for therapeutic reasons? Maybe no have an actual allergy to them? But a sensitivity? Yeah. Alright.

So there’s three things I normally tell people, at least when they’re diagnosed with an allergy when you have an intolerance or a medical necessity, then there’s like an additional thing I have to tell you. But the first three things, I always tell people, number one, feel sorry for yourself, take the time to acknowledge the loss, right and actually grieve that loss. First, not everybody has to like, you know, put on their black mourning dress or anything. But for some people, this is a big deal. Like, their whole identity is rooted in food. And every gathering they go to as with food, and like they feel like the whole world is upside down, you need to acknowledge that. If you sit there and try to pretend that everything’s peachy, it is not peachy, and you’re going to hurt yourself more in the long run. And then the second thing to do, whether you have a sweet tooth or a saber tooth, most people it’s a sweet tooth. Eat something sweet. Like right away. It can be as basic as a date. I don’t care what it is. But eat something sweet to trigger your brain into recognizing, don’t worry, you didn’t lose everything. Like there’s hope.

There’s something on the horizon. Like just give yourself that little kick and be like, oh, yeah, I can still have this. This is good, right? The third thing to do, pull yourself up by your bootstraps and get busy. Because if you sit and mope around, nothing’s going to get done. There won’t be anything to eat, you’re going to fall into eating foods, you know, you should not be eating, you’re going to cause more damage. Right. So get busy doing. I think that’s the hardest part for most people. Most people just want to buy something. They’re just like, just tell me what to buy. Like you don’t get it? You can’t. Right. Depending on your diagnosis and level of sensitivity. You might be able to buy things, but sometimes, right. And I’ve talked about this in the past. For some people, if you’re going gluten free, especially for medical reasons, you absolutely should not rush out to buy every gluten free food you can find. Right? It’s kind of the unspoken truth within the community that probably about 50% of gluten-free foods are worse than the gluten-filled counterpart. Right? People don’t realize gluten is amazing. It’s got these great properties, you can stretch, you can do the window pain tests, like, it’s really cool, right on pain tests. So the windowpane test is when you’re, especially in breadmaking, you can take your dough, and then you kind of stretch it out like this with your hands, and it won’t break.

It’ll just keep stretching thinner, thinner and thinner, and it creates like a windowpane. And you can start to see through it a little bit, but it doesn’t break. And so when your dough reaches the windowpane test, and you can pass the test, you’re ready to do the next step breadmaking. Right. And with gluten free, number one, you can never pass windowpane test, it doesn’t work that way. But the cool thing is, is with gluten free, you don’t have to do the windowpane test, right? It’s just you just keep moving forward. So the next thing I would tell people, and this is kind of item number four, when you have this restriction for a nonlife threatening reason. Remember, sometimes it’s not going to hurt to the point where it stops you from eating the food. But you’ve got to retrain yourself to just avoid and you know, have that self discipline because obviously, something is going on under the hood, right. And if you continue to injure yourself, you’re going to end up with a domino effect of other health effects that honestly down the road are going to cost you way more than that sandwich was worth, right or that ice cream was worth, you’re better off creating a different solution. And going that route, you know, and sometimes what you have to do is ask yourself, what is it that I like about dairy? Right? I think dairy is a great example.

Most people would say, I love ice cream. Okay, what is it about ice cream? Is it the texture, the temperature, the taste, right? determine which of the three it is? Or is it a combo. And let’s say you say I love the temperature, because it’s so cool going down my throat. And I love how creamy it is great, I can work with that. Now all we have to do is find you a dairy free substitute that’s really creamy. That also works out really well when cold, and not full of a bunch of crazy ingredients, right? And so it’s it’s a matter of just kind of honing that in because I find that when you meet the SAT, like when you can satisfy those cravings, and you don’t actually miss the food. Things are way better. Like it just it gets easier to be free from if you’re meeting those basic needs. I find for myself, it always boils down to temperature and texture, right? It’s usually never anything else because I’m already so hyper-restricted. So it’s just like, don’t want something crunchy or don’t want something. So that’s what it’s like for me. And I think when you start kind of disconnecting from certain things and think about it that way, it just it gets easier.

So that actually led me to a different question. So I like that a lot of what you say is about mindset, right? So it’s, it’s less about the food and more about the mindset. And you’ve clearly mastered that. What do you do when you’re working with a kid because this podcast, most everyone listening to it are parents or practitioners that work with kids with autism Down syndrome or ADHD. And they’re using diets as therapeutic tools to improve certain function, whatever that may be. And let’s say the kid is, if your child is not speaking, or we haven’t developed a means of communication here, ideally, we’d work towards that. But then this whole trust issue comes into place. Right? So how do you then the mindset is yours, not the kids? Yeah. So I can actually speak to this from personal experience, right, we’ve got two kids where we had to change their diet for medical reasons. And the biggest piece of advice I can give you, especially for children who are verbal, or who have deep connections to food, you have to make it fun, number one, number two, you have to satisfy their cravings, period, hard stop.

Sometimes that means choosing ingredients that we know are not the best. So for example, Kid two, I mean, technically we changed it for three kids, but Well, technically all four but that’s a whole different story. But with Kid two, when he was diagnosed with a wheat allergy, he was about six or seven. No, I think he was like six, six going on seven. And his love languages food, that kid is a foodie at heart. And like we’re sitting in the car post diagnosis. And he’s like, Well, what about pancakes? No, you can’t have that pizza. No, you can’t have that. Like he literally starts going down the list of every food that meant something to him. And the answer was no. And this poor child is sitting crying in the backseat of a car, like from a wheat allergy diagnosis. And I’m just like, Yeah, I got to fix this right. And so of course that same night, I had their dad take them off. He took all the kids out to play and I went to the store and I spent like two hours reading labels finding every food that was to me comfort food that was gluten dairy free because he was born with a dairy allergy like severe anaphylaxis.

So that was like heartless Keep, we just we can’t risk that in terms of getting other things. And so find all this stuff. And we don’t say anything I get in the car. And there’s loads and loads bags, I spent way too much money, by the way, way too much. And the kids are playing. So I set out in the kitchen. Like every new food I had, I literally find the entire kitchen countertops was really great. And then we call him and we’re like, we have something to show you and he walks in the kitchen. And I swear to you, until this very day, this is this is like more than 15 years ago at this point, that child has never hugged me so hard. And I mean, it speaks volumes to his connection to food. Because when he saw firsthand, everything he could still have, all of a sudden, nothing was so bad, right. And that’s the key when you’re dealing with take essentially taking away something from a child, right, they almost view it as a form of punishment. But we know they didn’t do anything wrong. And we know that we’re trying to help them improve. And so like with Kid three, he sought his punishment, when he had to lose his sugar and all that sort of stuff.

I had to reinvent every wheel under the sun, I had to figure out sugar-free ice cream and sugar-free this and sure I had to figure out sugar free candies and like everything under the sun so that this kid would not feel restricted, he would not feel like that temptation to essentially cheat even though he would when nobody was watching. You know, he’s gotten so much better about it, as you know, since he’s older, but as a child, that was really hard for him. And so making it fun. And getting them involved is an absolute must, you know, and have sample parties. I tell people this all the time, when you have to have a child do something new. Like let’s say your kid is going egg free for whatever. And you’re looking at egg free muffins, and maybe there’s six brands at the store, buy all six, I don’t care what it costs, just buy them, then what you’re going to do is sit down, you’re gonna have a little tea party, you’re gonna make like a serious thing. You’re like, Okay, well, you really get your kid involved.

Who What are you about this like, and go out of your way to describe it? Like, are you picking up those notes of mint? Oh, man, like, really? Get into the food. I love this idea, right? You’re distracting them from what you’ve taken away. And now you’re giving them something new. You’re giving them this really fun experience number one, because, heck, maybe you can get dressed up and pretend to be food critics, right? Like, if you’re kidding, I want to do that for myself, but take selfies and really just make fun experiences. I mean, that’s what I did for years, right? I made everything a fun experience. And, you know, and then of course, you have to teach them how to cook, because that’s a huge thing. One thing I used to do with them is have them help make pasta sauce.

I would actually have them sample every single step. Like they would sample just the tomatoes. Like oh, that’s kind of gross. Like I know, right? Isn’t that’s in the mood to talk about why it was kind of gross. And then, you know, add the salt and then they look Oh, that’s so interesting, you know, and add every you know, smell this one. What do you think and, you know, you make it a whole sensory experience. And all of a sudden, the world’s okay, you know, and, and kids are just okay, at that point. There, they’re coping, you’re giving them the tools to cope and that’s a huge part of it. I love it. I There are a lot of things that I’m going to take away from this conversation. But, but, but I love it and my daughter is a big foodie, too. So it’s been it’s been a tough road, but she’s not super sensitive. But she definitely it builds up over a few days. So it’s Yeah, as with a lot of kids talking about dairy, which is one of the things that is surprisingly more than gluten that people have trouble with. Right. So I don’t know if you’ve noticed the same, but it seems to be the cheese. That’s the biggest thing that I mean, somehow people figure out gluten-free foods that they can tolerate but dairy feed never seems to hit the spot. Have you found not food to be found? Maybe easiest to recreate and the hardest to recreate? Um, legitimate Well, okay. Because we, when we develop recipes, we keep them not free on purpose. I would say cheese, but for those who can have nuts, I wouldn’t say cheese. That’s an easy one.

There’s so many brands that do good dairy-free cheese that I don’t think that’s the real issue. If you can’t do shared equipment with dairy, dairy free ice cream is really hard. The real trick to that one is to use fat so like a low flavor oil. And it helps recreate the creaminess but you have to be really careful or else you end up with really cold shortening and it’s really gross. So there’s a real balance to be had there. Um, frosting is easy cakes are easy pate like, maybe a croissant. That would be hard. Yeah, it’s that one’s hard. I haven’t even attempted it. One time I did make a butter book. I convinced myself I was going to do it and then I got busy with something else. I guess maybe, that but I mean, maybe like a true pastry cream, we make Faux pastry creams that are pretty close. Get the right mouthfeel. And we get the right. Taste generally, but texture is always going to be a little bit off. But if you don’t have a point of comparison, or if you’re young enough, you can write it off pretty easily. Right?

I would say. I mean, this is up for individual interpretation, but maybe drinkable milk around here. We don’t drink milk straight. I don’t know. I don’t know if it’s like a preference. Or we just don’t have one that we love. But nobody drinks dairy-free milk is pretty much the same in my home too. So nobody drinks milk upstream. Yeah, like we all bake with it or cook with it a lot. But none of us just grab a cup of milk. So maybe like the flavor that the closest thing. So when I make a chai or coffee or something like that, like a latte ish thing, oat milk has come the closest but what do you think? Yeah, we so we don’t do coffee, or anything like that. But I’ve heard a lot of good things about oat milk and soy milk in terms of hot beverages. And after try it out, I mean, we make fresh milk and only have a neutral milk. And I like it because it’s free from equipment which we need. But also because you know, you can make whatever you want with it.

I mean, plus with oat milk. A lot of people don’t know this, but oat milk has a secret talent. If you boil oat milk, it will naturally thicken. Yeah, like you if you just stand in stir boiling oatmeal for several minutes, it gets thick, like weird pudding, and then you can then use it in other stuff without having to add, you know, a weird, long list of chemicals or anything to thicken. Right? I have kind of the same question about about eggs. So pardon my repetitive questions, but because x sensitivities, at least in the kids that I see seem to have skyrocketed over the last few years. Or maybe nobody knew about it earlier. But and I find that if for example, I used to eat an egg every day for the most of my life. And right now if I have two to three days in a row, I get joint pains. So just kind of a delayed sensitivity reaction. And I, you know, have been able to, I’m not really sensitive to gluten and dairy, but I’ve tried periods of giving them up because my son is and just to see if I can sustain that. And those have been okay for me. But giving up eggs was the hardest, because when you’re already gluten and dairy free, you rely on eggs for doing everything in between. So the binding the flavor, the textures, it seems like, especially if you’re not a very good cook like me, but then. And then when you take them off, everything tastes like cardboard.

So what do you know, it’s so funny about that. So a kid too has an egg intolerance, right? And he hasn’t eaten eggs and years and years and years. So recently, and I always say to him, you know, if everyone tried to just let me know, on a big deal. So recently, he decided he would do a baked egg. So we made a muffin. And everybody agreed it was pretty gross. Like, yeah, like nobody liked it. And I mean, like nobody was upset about the taste. It was all about the texture. Like nobody was into it. And I said, You know what’s really funny, you guys, you would prefer a top eight free muffin over the woman’s eggs. And they were all like, yeah, you make free stuff, right? And that’s the thing. Apparently, I have mastered gluten, dairy egg-free so well, that if you bring an allergen back, it’s like, hard pass. Right?

I think when I you know, when I think about eggs, the only thing I think is difficult to replace would obviously be like an egg free souffle, you’re not going to get that even without magic in the world. Angel Food Cake is a really hard push. Especially if you want that height, you might be able to get like a short stack, almost like pancake, but you won’t get a tall angel food cake. And then of course scrambled eggs. Unless of course you’re willing to eat the ones that are like, heavy in the ingredients that honestly I don’t know that people should really be indulging in like, maybe once a month or something. But I look at those labels and I just kind of go Yeah, no, thank you. Yeah. And so sometimes like shredded things can help. You know, I find like if you
cut Turkey lunch meat, and then cook it like with turmeric and a couple of other seasonings. So it sort of looks like eggs scrambled just a smidge and you mix it with rice.

It takes on this very interesting texture and it tricks your brain a little bit. I don’t know if you’re familiar what’s called egg drop soup. They serve it at some Asian restaurants. I think I’ve had it once. But yeah, yeah, my kids love it. Turns out I accidentally invented an egg-free egg drop soup, and they think it’s the coolest thing ever. I still don’t understand how I did it because I’ve never had it. They were like, This is a drop soup. And I’m like, Okay, if you say oh, yeah, so, um, I think for me, anytime I think of, you know what’s hard to replace, I think just if you’re eating it straight, like egg is a binder easy egg as an emulsifier easy egg as a moistening agent, easy, you know egg for lift easy, those are all easily replaceable. You know, you can as long as you do the ratios, right? You bring in the acid, you bring in the leavening agents, you taking it out what are the different chemical agents that are actually causing it to property right, so when you go egg free, it’s like let’s look at egg free baking, because that’s really where this matters the most.

Egg free baking is truly science. And on raise the really cool thing is like every recipes egg free, there’s a free cake free muffins, egg free, everything is really cool. The key is, first off your gluten free flour blend has to be a good blend, if you have a bad like, I tell people if you’re gluten-free only or egg-free only, I think you’ll be okay. But once you go both, you have to follow the rules. Like please do not go and try to tweak these recipes just follow the rules I’ve given you. And you’re gonna love it right. Because with gluten free flour, you have lightweight heavyweight and medium-weight flowers. And what we really literally mean is the weight of the flour. One cup of almond flour is almost half the weight of one cup of superfine sorghum flour, which is also why we always tell you in grams, we don’t say use a cup we say use 50 grams, right? And when you say this, this is in your cookbooks. Yeah, it’s in our recipes online and stuff.

You know, if I’m say a cup, Domina leveled cup, a packed cup, right? Like which flat like how’s it gonna play out. But if I say Graham’s, then we’re all on the same page, right? equalize the playing field. So first you got to get your flour blend, right, you need that lightweight starch to help bring in that lightness of baked goods that people are missing. Right. And then of course, you need flavorful flowers. If you don’t like beans, and beanie taste, please don’t use bean flowers, right? Like there are certain things you should not use. There are some flowers that I don’t necessarily mix together because they start to clash. Buckwheat has a very strong flavor. So know how to use it appropriately. Or start off with like 20 grams, right starch super tiny, or else you’re not going to like what you get. It’s all these little nuance things just about your flour. First and foremost, they’re gonna make a huge impact. Then we look at the egg free portion. Okay, so for lift, we’re going to use like a baking powder plus baking soda. If you use both you get more power, you get more bang for your buck, right? But then if you add an acid, so we’re talking lemon juice, apple cider vinegar, not I’m not even talking like crazy chemicals. You’re just regular everyday ingredients. Now you’ve just like magnified your lift, right? We’ve gone from a little bit of lift, like at 30% to like 85% Lift, this is a huge difference. Okay?

Then we look at the ability to bind, okay? An easy bind would be Chia plus water, or flax plus water. But here’s what’s really interesting. If you do Chia plus water, you get a lumpy texture, which not everybody hates. It’s more muffin-like, but you also get this funky taste. And it’s a little bit gummy, right? Like on a scale of one to five. My kids say it’s a one, like if you use the chia binding agent, whereas if you use a flax bind, and now I’m not talking to standard flax egg, people are like, oh, yeah, one tablespoon of flax with three tablespoons. I’m like, no, no, no, that’s way too loose. You want to bind, right? We want to be like, suck it in. Okay, so now we’ve got our lift, we’ve got our bind. And to make sure that we get moistening, we add in oil. I know it sounds weird. And that’s okay. You don’t have to like, agree with me.

Just follow the rules. Trust me, you’ll appreciate it. We add the oil. Why? What is an egg yolk? And egg yolk is this creamy, fatty? Goodness, right? You ever hear people back in the day when they’d say, Oh, yeah, just add a cup of mayo to your cake. It’ll be great. Well, they would say that because it was creamy, fatty goodness, or what is oil, fatty goodness, it’s not creamy, necessarily, but sure as much fat. And so we’re going to add that in. Okay. And because we’re going to use the right tools, like a good hand mixer or whatever, we’re going to naturally emulsify. And we’re not going to let our batter sit around and separate or anything. Okay, so we’ve, we’ve created all these solutions, we’ve wrapped them all up into one recipe. And when you bake it, boom, you get perfection. And it’s, it’s soft, it’s delicate. It’s not like cardboard it it tastes great. It’s everything you want from your food. Without all the allergens I promise it’s totally possible.

There’s so many things I like about that, especially the fact that you’ve broken this down into such a precise and a very your understanding of what’s actually going on with your food when you’re baking. I think, you know, that itself is a very inviting process to me. I want to do this because I want to understand how to replace these ingredients. So if you’re building a plate for a child that has more than three allergies or three foods that they can’t eat, you have any rules for building that plate and we’re just talking about a meal because we also want to make sure that they’re hitting, you know, they’re getting some protein and you know all their macronutrients, basically. But yeah, I mean, number one, I like to look at the whole day or the whole week, rather than a singular meal, because let’s be honest, kids are all over the place when it comes to appetite, especially during growth spurts and things like that. I love suggesting smoothies at least once a day. Or you know, if nothing else, maybe popsicles make a batch of like nutrient-dense smoothies, put it into popsicle molds, if they’re really fun molds, that way. Your kids like, Oh, I got a sore, boom, boom, you know, and they have fun with it, and they actually eat the popsicle.

I even like our youngest is 17 now and I bought these popsicle molds for a photo and she’s like, I want that one. I’m laughing she’s like, What are you, you’re 17 years old, telling me which animal shape you want. I think that’s hilarious. And you, you’ve proven my point, right? I guess you’re never too old for a popsicle shape. So I think nutrient dense popsicles are great. Don’t overlook the power of basic products, you know, people forget that onions have a load of nutrition, and they’re great prebiotic. Dark leafy greens are easily hidden away in a great pasta sauce, you can shift knob them, dice them up really tiny mix men, they sort of look like parsley at that point. And quite frankly, nobody even knows they’re there. And you’ve just added this extra layer of nutrition. In fact, we have a whole series on the website, because that’s, that’s kids for his biggest problem is she needs nutrient-dense foods.
And so I show you over a course of like five weeks how to make incredibly nutrient dense meals every day. Right? And it’s, it’s easier than you think, right? And don’t forget to that there’s nutrients in your spice cabinet, right? Like it’s everywhere if we just stop and look for it. So I would say build up food combinations that number one, you know, they’re going to like, always include at least one food that they love. But then show them how to incorporate new foods as well.

Like, one easy way to do this is with a muffin tin. You can put like, you don’t even have to fill it up. But you could put 12 foods in it, you know, some diced ham and one and you know, some blueberries in one and you can put different things in it and just kind of put it out and kids can pick out it and try different things. And you know, I’m really big into food play as well. I think it’s important. Even up until like age seven or eight, you know, I think it’s, it can still have a place at the table. Because the more exposures we’re doing, the easier it is to build that played out. When the time comes. Make sure you’re hitting the textures that speak to your child, right. I’m not saying don’t expose them to extra textures, which we absolutely should. But especially if you’re dealing with a child with sensory issues, let’s say if you’re going to serve, let’s take beef, for example. Let’s say you want to teach your child different textures with beef. I would either present two textures at a time, or do like the whole tea party.

Let’s experiment with different textures of beef type of thing, right? But maybe do a ground beef and then do like little beef cubes of stew or something and just kind of have it like, you know, in two spots on the plate for them to try. Definitely I’m big into no-pressure eating. I don’t think it’s right to ever force child to eat something not even the one bite rule. I think that’s outrageous. Because especially if you’re dealing with a nonverbal child, you don’t know why they’re saying no. So to kind of shove that in their face, it’s like, that’s a bad idea. You’re just asking for trouble. And so it’s kind of hitting all these things. But on your average day, I like to make sure the kids are getting, you know, at least several servings of produce. And definitely some protein and some starches. But what’s interesting is one of our kids does better with less starch.

They’re fine with like starchy vegetables, but even with pseudo grains, they don’t do as well. So they have like a muffin-a-day kind of thing. And, you know, maybe some rice with dinner, but not a truck ton of starches throughout the day. Whereas one of our other kids is like a carb Holic. Right? He’ll eat potatoes and rice for breakfast kind of thing. Like that kid is like, he’s a carbohydrate. And that’s fine. Right? Every, every person is different. I think that’s, I think that’s really the underlying question is, how do I properly nourish my child? Right? And that’s really going to be the answer because I could say to you, yeah, put like five grams of protein and five grams of this and like I could say all those things. But at the end of the day, if that doesn’t nourish your child, who cares, right? It’s really about what does your child need? Not only for nutrition, but for quality of life.

If your kid is addicted to Snickers, and you took away their Snickers, I demand on behalf of your child that you reinvent the snicker right? Make them a better for you Snickers bar, get them involved, teach them how it’s made. Help them decide like is that crunchy enough? Do you think we should add more of this? What happens if we add some finishing salt on top right, take them through the process of making a fake Snickers bar. And make sure that those fake Snicker bars are available. 24/7. Right, if you’re going to take away something that important, I demand that you replace it with a safe version. And that that’s really what this is all about. It’s about serving up foods that nourish and comfort. And that’s really how you build up the plate. You’ve made this such a thorough scientific process, right? So you’re talking about investigation, you’re talking about communication with the child and you know, this constant, you know, you experiment with the recipe, come back, maybe compare it with another recipe.

Okay, if I have to stretch it all the way make a hypothesis on what works and so on. Right? So yeah, but it’s such a, and that’s why I love it, because it’s such a rounded. I’m also a science teacher, by the way. So I just giving a lesson. So are you okay? To see, you know, I’m a scientist at heart. I’ve loved science since I was a child like I am. So I, you’re saying this? And I’m thinking she’s right. I have done that, haven’t I? Is your right, that I could really describe everything that he says reading your website, and the way that you figured out the different allergies that you have, and for your kids as well. It’s it’s really the scientific method in action. And absolutely, very systematically. And I think when you do that, you automatically take the emotion out of the picture, because who has tampered emotion in the scientific method? Right. So I agree with you so much. And I think early to my earlier point, it’s like when you don’t have that emotional connection, I think it’s way easier, right? Like, I think, you know, one thing too, that I would say to parents who are listening is give yourself the grace to mess up. I promise you’re going to mess up. And I promise it’s going to be okay.

Like I’ve messed up before, right? I’ve given our kid who’s allergic to dairy twice in his life, without meaning to write. And of course, both times it was a disaster. What was interesting is he did it to himself once. And we had to, like he said, with science, we had to analyze like, so why on earth would you eat that? And he’s like, I thought it was mine. And I’m like, why would you think it’s yours? It clearly says, right? And he goes, Well, you bought me one before that look just like it. And I was like, really. And so of course, then we go and we start comparing packages. And sure enough, there’s a version of dairy free ice cream, that looks 95% identical to I’ve set to the same thing as a dairy free product. And I’m like, no wonder you ate that they literally look identical at this point, right? Especially if you’re not paying attention. And that’s actually when we invested. And we made all these crazy rules in our house. Like, if it’s this, it can never be in the kitchen, it has to go on this outside refrigerator. And so now we basically have like three kitchens at this point, it’s it’s kind of crazy. But we’ve had to set up all the kitchens, essentially, we’ve got our kitchen. And then we’ve got our front room, which has all these kitchen II things. And then we have all sorts of cooking appliances outside as well.

It’s like three separate kitchen spaces, essentially. But we had to put all these protocols in place because that was the only way to guarantee safety. Right? You know, we’ve got color-coding, we’ve got so separate sponge like we already had so much in place. But then that incident made us have to get more stuff in place, you know, and that’s why I say to people, like, Don’t set yourself up to be emotionally invested in the sense of when you fail. Do not sit there and beat yourself up. It’s okay to be like Kathlena never do that again. And promise yourself you won’t. But don’t sit there and be like, Oh, you worthless parent. What were you thinking? Because I think people do that. Like they beat themselves up to the point of like a depression. It’s like, hold on, just stop. It wasn’t malicious. Everything’s okay. Now, like we’ve recovered, and you got to get busy living again, this child is depending on you to function so they can function. We don’t have time to feel sorry for ourselves like this right now. Let’s keep moving. You made the mistake. Let’s correct what caused the mistake. Let’s fix it. What’s the solution? You know, and it you’re right, it takes you back to Science because I think that’s important.

I think everybody who’s busy getting their children ready for advanced science programs testing their IQ should just stop and and do this, you know? I’m actually you can actually like you’re developing it from the inside out, aren’t you like otherwise everything says I feel like a lot of people study science and they’re in advanced science degrees but they can’t for the life of them implement the scientific method when they’re doing this for their child or for themselves, but you’re doing this so naturally and if you actually do what you did and separate the emotion from it and just do it as rigorous inquiry, right. That’s the word. Yeah, like scientific inquiry. So then, when you got it, right, yeah, I like that angle a lot. I just I just came to me as you’ve been talking and been reading your website, and I think that’s the answer. I, you know, I’d never put it in those words before, but you’re absolutely right. I mean, I had to experiment on myself for years. Right to get it. I mean, that’s, and I do love science. I love the pursuit of the answer, right. It’s, it’s why? Why did the pursuit of the answer right? Isn’t that so much more interesting than the answer itself? Yeah. Yeah. Well, it’s way more interesting than just sitting around and feeling sorry for yourself. Like, absolutely. I mean, at least keep yourself busy doing something. So I think pursuing the answer, I think that’s kind of fun in its own little way.

I’m thinking of a podcast title as we speak, like the science of some scientific process of figuring out elimination diets or something like that. Speaking of which, do you have a sensitivity test that you like? Or do you just use this method you like? Um, I, I think the all cats pretty awesome. I love it. They have like the advanced ones, pretty pricey, but I think it’s worth every penny. But I also think it’s still a guide. I think even, you know, blood tests and test, intolerance, testing, I think all forms of testing are an amazing guide. Even stool testing, I think advanced stool tests are important in the whole grand scheme of things. Because you get to then see, like amino acids. And I think it’s way more, especially when you’re not dealing with a life-threatening, clear and straightforward food allergy, right? I think everybody else’s stuff is so so critical. I mean, it’s critical for the other group as well, but in a different way. Because let’s say you’re dealing with a child, who does better with certain foods for cognitive function. Okay.

I’ll agree with you that they do better with those foods. But now we have to ask why? Is it because of what’s in the foods you’ve taken out? Or is it because of what their diet is lacking? Maybe by switching, you’ve now naturally added something more that they were deficient in without realizing it more, you’ve taken out something so critical that just does not gel with your child? What is the answer? Well, if we start testing everything, we might learn that your child is deficient in three essential amino acids, and Omega has you? Well, that’s kind of a big deal. And if we look at what we took out, turns out those foods naturally clash with the, you know, bioavailability of omega, like, whatever it is, clearly, something we’ve done has cleared up a pathway for your child to absorb the nutrition better. How do we do it? Why what happened like to me, when you have all these tests, and how all these bits of data, you have the better ability, in my opinion, to nourish the child, right? You know, it’s like the GAPS diet, the GAPS diet is not designed to be forever.

It’s, you know, originally was designed to be like a three-year stint, because the idea is that if you can heal these different things, and correct these different things, after three years, you should be able to start reintroducing foods because everything’s working properly. I think that’s part of the thing, right? I think it’s a two part approach. Number one, I do think that American food has declined in quality over the past 65 years, you know, we look at quality of soil quality of food, you cannot tell me beyond a shadow of a doubt that the peaches we eat today or the peaches are grandparents ate? It’s not right. It’s just not the same nutrition profile. I wish it were, but it’s not.

We look at GMOs, right? Never in the history of humans. Have we ever experimented on people like this before? Like, hey, let’s just completely change people’s diet, the actual DNA of the food, we’ve never done this. And now we’re seeing the results, right? We look at all these different medical interventions. We’ve never, no one’s actually required to study the combined effect. There was this really cool documentary in the UK a few years ago. And some scientists said, there is no way that wasn’t your grocery stores as bad for you, as you guys think it is, in fact, we’re gonna prove you all wrong. So they were like, okay, cool. I mean, I’m just paraphrasing at this point. But they, they tested several things for something really specific. Individually, they were like, see, check it out individually, it’s fine.

Then they did the combined effect. And they were like, we were not expecting these results. I guess you guys are onto something. And that’s really the key, right? We look at like grass foods generally regarded as safe. Nobody’s actually tested these things. If they are generally regarded as safe. Nobody said, Hey, what happens when, let’s take a child who, since before they were born, has been exposed to these 15 environmental issues. Because in the placenta, in the womb, in the umbilical cord, we know that these things are present now, like it’s been proven, we know it’s there. So let’s do that to this kid. And let’s have them exposed to these other things via breast milk. And as soon as they can start eating, Let’s expose them to all these other things.

Let’s expose and and and and and nobody’s ever studied it before, nobody, but instead we’re going to say one in five has this one in 10 has this one and 12 has this one and 42 has this one, you know, we used to have a rate of, you know, one and 100 with this disease, but now it’s down to one and 50 everybody’s willing to sit back and say, Okay, I accept that. And I’m like, am I the only one here seeing this, like, hello, wake up, it’s the and, and, and, and, and, and, and it’s all these combined effects that were just like, just we keep taking it on. And I’m like, if we could just maybe take a step back, eat real food. You know, like, let’s, let’s clean up how we’re living a little bit, you know, what, something like 80% of cancers are preventable through diet and lifestyle changes. That should be the wake-up call, right? We have some control over these things. If we just look at the building blocks, and I think we’ve ignored the building blocks for so long. Like, like I said earlier, like that education has been lost.

Now I’m like, we need to get this education back, we need to get it back into the hands of the people because one in five, one in 10, one in 13. This is too much like this has to change that is like that should be scaring people. But I feel like it’s not. And I’m not sure why. But that’s the scientist, I think you’re definitely onto something there. Because that’s the flip side of scientific research is that in the name of controlling for variables, all we can do is change one thing at a time and look for its effects. At some point, we need to put it all together and then see what happens. And then hopefully, that will happen soon. We’re living in this in this kind of scary matrix of everything feeding into us.

Exactly. Yeah. And I think I honestly feel like, you know, like, for example, the FDA is supposed to be that, you know, the buck stops here. And I, I don’t think they’ve served us very well. I think they could have hurt us better. I, you know, and I also think, though, that there was some of the responsibility falls on the people in the sense of we, as consumers should be demanding better. You know, when you look at some of these ingredients, I understand that they’re there for shelf life. But I also understand that there’s an alternative solution. And I think that some corporations have just gotten so greedy, and we just allow it, that we’re literally just inviting these people to poison our kids. Like, I don’t care what you think about soda, but I’m sorry, five and six year olds should not be drinking copious amounts of soda. We should not have vending machines in schools yet. There they are. You know, I don’t know if you ever saw that study with, there was a high school for delinquent kids in the Pacific Northwest. And I think this was like 10 years ago or something. But they decided that they were going to do organic, like farm to table type foods for these kids. And grades improved, attendance improved, fights went down, everything got better.

All they changed was food at school. Nobody, they didn’t change food at home, they didn’t change, like, you know, are these kids in gang areas, anything like that, he changed nothing. But school served food. That small change made a huge impact. And so, you know, when I’m looking at these pockets of impact, I’m saying, why aren’t we doing this at a greater scale? And obviously, it all comes back to money, right? You’ve got companies that want to make money, and you’ve got things where, well, if we make this better for you, it’s gonna cost us more it’s like, okay, well, did you really need $55 billion of profit this year, when 35 billion have been fine, you know, it’s like, there comes a point where we get so greedy, that we’re just hurting people. And it’s, it’s just wrong, you know, like, I’m all for capitalism, but I think we’ve capitalism that cares or something like we just, we just need to do better, you know, and we know it can be done better. Like, it should be done better. And we as consumers need to demand better as well.

Now, thank you for this conversation, I think I came up with a lot of ideas. And I know, mine, hopefully, I’ll also come up with an idea for the title of the person. But I it’s one of the most honestly, it’s one of the most remarkable, illuminating conversations I’ve had. And I really like that, like, I like to distill things down to what like, you know, very simple ideas that I get from people and from you. I If I had to distill one would be that everything you’ve said is about mindset. And the second is, is we already discussed the scientific method and I think I think both of them go together because we already talked about it, but each of them feeds into the other because keeping a scientific method what should I say refines your mindset, maybe or makes it conducive to doing it at least so that so then it’s just fun and then you’re you’re just it frees your mindset? I think to like, right like it, it gives you the freedom for creativity. And I think the freedom to ask the questions, because without that scientific method backing you up, it’s almost like you’re afraid to take action. Yeah. Whereas in science, you’re, you’re encouraged, ask the questions, and encouraged to make mistakes that gets bad data is still data, right. So yeah, exactly. Yeah.

That’s a lot of fun. Thank you for being here. Kathlena. It was my pleasure. Thank you for having me. Okay, that was fun. Thanks for listening. If you have questions for me, I can cleaner drop them at supported functional nutrition for kids.com. You know you can reach Kathlena on w and me a doctor Sarathy that just to Dr. Vaish. Now if you love this podcast like I did, do drop it really helps us reach more people. It helps more people find us. Bye.

81 Experiencing Food Reactions with Sofi Ghassaei (Autistic Voices)

81 Experiencing Food Reactions with Sofi Ghassaei (Autistic Voices)

Synsthete and Writer Sofi Ghassaei is a minimally speaking Autistic teen with a very fierce voice.

In this podcast, Sofi shares her world view, her experience with food, reactions, sensitivities, friendship and joy.

She ends with “We are here to make you learn and find love, so pay attention.”

Please do pay attention to this SHORT but RICH podcast – heavy with experience, rich with meaning, and loaded with wisdom for you!



Audio Transcription: 

Hi and welcome to the 81st episode of functional nutrition and learning for kids. It is my honor to interview Sophie Ghassaei. Today, Sophie, as I mentioned soon is minimally speaking and use spelling to communicate. It’s been really interesting to talk with Sophie because Sophie has been on a restricted diet for a while, due to allergies and histamine sensitivity issues. Now, in the functional medicine community this insight, that is water minimally speaking, and non-speaking, Autistics really think about dietary restriction. This insight is rare. What do they think about the different models described by society whether that be a medical model of autism, social model, and so on? This insight is really only obtained when you speak to people with disability.

Now, we live in a world where many kids and adults with a disability who were previously thought to be incapable of communication or thought to be cognitively delayed, have started expressing the beautifully complex intervals through spelling and other alternative means of communication. They really want to encourage more practitioners parents to check out alternative communication methods and also to speak to autistic speak to people with Down syndrome speak to people with disability when you can onto surfing.

I’m really excited to be interviewing Sophie today’s Sophie CASA is a minimally speaking young woman in Washington state who loves crushing her goals. Her favorite cuisines are Persian and Thai. And her comfort foods or lamb still with rice and blueberries not mixed. Obviously. She says one food she would never try is meat from a bear. Today’s Sophie voice is going to be her sister Alia. Welcome Alia as well, can Sophie Can you start by telling us a little bit about yourself?

I’m Sophie really nice to be here today. I’m 18 and love reading music, writing poetry and writing my tandem bike like Ethan and said I use a letter board to communicate. My five-year speller bursary is coming up in November. My mom was my primary CRP, but my sister Leah is my voice today because she understands food issues. Wonderful to talking about food what role does diet or food play in your life? I have a love-hate relationship with food. I love to try new foods. Most of my friends mine textures, tastes and smells which makes them picky guys regarding food. I like most textures. I have no problem trying new flavors or ethnic food.

I have had issues with allergies since I was very young. Mine are wheat milk and nuts. I’m sad about my new mango allergy. I really miss mango but it gives me a painful burn on my face and inside my mouth. Microsoft was toxic. My allergies keep me from enjoying food like I would wish meals made by mom and dad or home cooked love meals outside are dicey chances and sometimes I lose. I haven’t eaten milk or wheat for 17 years. So gastrous symptoms are long out of my notice. I don’t perceive major effects after having sugar. I know that it’s not all that healthy and I don’t eat that much junk or candy.

Some do well with meat. Others thrive on lots of fish. under ideal circumstances, all people learn which are the foods that suit them and have access to those healthy foods. Socially, I only have concerns with allergies, not if my diet is cool. I can’t imagine happiness with friends who would make a big deal about my food. Dating someone also on a special diet make some things easier, but it’s not a good reason to fall in love. Having values in common seems more important than the kinds of snacks you like. I love that. I love that. Thank you, Sophie. And since you’re talking about I liked what you said about mango I’m also sad because I love mangoes too. And I’m sorry that you have a mango allergy. So this might be a really good time to talk about histamine. I know you’ve spoken about pots before which is a new term for most of our listeners. So can you tell us about your experience with histamine and pots?

It took me years to get a diagnosis of pots, Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome. I can’t quite explain pots. It really makes one dizzy when standing. It happens more to women. So doctors say it’s all on their heads. I can speak and spell. However, I couldn’t do either one very well back then. The doctors were dismissive because I didn’t have the ability to say my symptoms and feelings. We had so many doctors. I also have history and problems. It started when I was 13. I would fall asleep and feel faint after most meals. Really I lost the ability to move but I could still hear everything around me. I happily make an effort spelling now, but it was tricky to learn when I always felt awful. Elizabeth understood that I couldn’t spell being passed out on the table. I’m glad that doesn’t happen now.

I craved high histamine foods like a drug. Even though I felt bad after tomatoes, strawberries, shrimp, fish, pickles, chocolate bacon, our chai, till CTU really helps mitigate most histamine. When enough low histamine stuff has lowered the bucket that month. Vice can tell about lowering the histamine bucket. I will do that I will definitely mention more about histamine packet later. Besides making me pass out histamine gives me headaches and makes my heart race leading to anxiety. That makes me very dysregulated and also craving more vicious cycle. Anxiety affects me every day. I feel like my body doesn’t really settle.

Food always plays a part but it’s never the only factor. Realizing my future will not be easy also makes me anxious. Not sure if low histamine diet or salt helps my anxiety in pots most or both together. Pink Himalayan salt rocks. I even gave it to someone for his birthday. But I don’t know if you realize that looking at is like heaven. Thank you for sharing about your health journey. I have a question for you. How has your health journey parallel your communication journey. They’re both fraught with extreme problems and missteps. But we never lose hope and never give up. I love that. And I really want to learn more about your journey. So my next question will be what is your biggest learning in your journey so far?

My motto is try till you die. It’s never too late to learn. I love that also. Now, when we talk about autism or related motor, other motor conditions, whether that be Down syndrome or society, we’re always trying to figure out especially for autism, whether to describe it with a medical model, or a social model. How would you like this to happen? Some might not like this, but I think it’s mostly medical, at least for me. I remember my life before I got sick. I also acquired skills then as my body failed me. Last skill stayed in my mind only. I still deserve a community respect, education and love. You absolutely do. What is your message to functional medicine practitioners or other medical practitioners?

Please treat all of us respectfully. Listen to others if the patient is not speaking. They’re not giving up on their children. Absolutely. And how about a message now I want to hear all your messages. What is your message to families of autistic kids? Start spelling when they’re young, even if they have some spoken language. And remember to laugh every day. Finally, Sophie, thank you for taking all of this time to share your medical journey in so much detail. Like a lot of it was very illuminating for me. What is your message to the world. We are here to make you learn and find love. So pay attention.

I’m sure everybody’s paying keen attention to you. Thank you again, for everything you’ve said and chaired. By Sophie, I’m sure it’s as illuminating to you as it is to me to talk to an autistic person. I checked with Sophie and she identifies as a synesthete. And a writer. Sophie is asked if I could expand on the idea of histamine packet. Now, unlike food allergies, where intake of a certain food can cause immediate immune reactions

Sometimes severe reactions or even food sensitivities. Were a minor exposure, for example, to say gluten can cause delayed but severe reactions like headaches, dysregulation, neurological issues, and so on. So unlike these two cases, histamine builds up when your body’s unable to process it for any reason. So we’re not looking at an immediate allergic reaction or even a delayed sensitivity reaction. In that sense, we’re looking at something that we might call a bucket. Now this buildup of histamine can come from the food that you eat.

If it’s high in histamine, it can come from lack of histamine breakdown in your body due to various reasons, from immune response to food allergens, or environmental allergens that produce histamine and even from microbial activity in your gut. Now, think of this histamine as filling a bucket and your many detoxification reactions break down reactions within your body as emptying that bucket.

Often managing histamine sensitivity for people is simply managing the bucket. In other words, making sure that it doesn’t fill faster than it empties. And the thought I have been thinking about this was that if you’ve done related rates and calculus, based if you’re doing a P fit kid is doing AP, this could be AP Calc A, B, or just call one, you’ve done problems like this rate of filling rate of emptying, what is the net rate? And so on, right? Anyway, coming back, when the bucket overflows, when this bucket overflows is when symptoms like rashes behaviors headaches, flushing difficulty breathing anxiety, you know, really severe reactions in some people, these can show up.

In this podcast, Sophie is talking about managing this pocket. A lot of people know that gut health is really important to various things downstream. And this includes immune reactions and therefore, can manage symptoms of histamine sensitivities to mean overload. But most people aren’t very clear what gut health means. For a lot of people. This means taking a probiotic once in a while. And if that is confusing to you, as well, what is gut health? How do you deal with it? Check out my free ebook describing in detail what gut health is and how to treat it at functional nutrition for kids.com/gut health. Again, that’s www.functionalnutritionforkids.com/guthealth. Such a pleasure this podcast. Until next time, bye.