The BIGGEST step you can take in getting control over your child’s PFAPA episodes and condition is changing to REAL FOOD only. Ditch all those packages, boxes, and bags of items that are filled with empty non-nutritious calories and chemicals! (Hint: THESE are THE TRIGGERS to your child’s condition).
There are a few challenges with this I see frequently with clients, so here are a few tips to deal with those today!
Challenge 1: The perception that real food takes too much time
Most people believe themselves to be too busy to eat real food. They have been buying packaged pre-cooked “foods” for a long time – perhaps even their whole life depending on their age when we start working together. The notion is that we do not have time to do anything other than what we are already doing.
The unfortunate part about this is multifold.
You are just shifting your time. You are reallocating time you already spent shopping and organizing these non-nutritious foods for prepping ahead to make them easy during the week. Rather than spending all the time at the store getting these foods, you will be home more prepping just ONE DAY for a few hours for the whole week. You then have everything ready to grab and go for the week.
In fact, I often recommend a delivery service for the ingredients you need. Many can be purchased on Amazon, but you can also use organic services like Thrive Market. You then take the time you would have spent at the store, and driving back and forth (masked mind you) to cook in your home for the week (without your mask!).
What is really crazy is that for a whole week of lunch meat (a whole chicken!), breakfast muffins, biscuits, homemade bread, and other miscellaneous food prep for meals is only a few hours on a Sunday at MAX. When you first start out you will be doing simple things and simple steps so even 30 minutes to one hour on a Sunday can get you set for the week.
Add these new things to an already existing routine!
Challenge 2: Changing habits takes time and small steps
This is one that is the HARDEST for clients to understand. We are living in an “instant” world. The world information (good or bad) is literally at our fingertips every second daily. We have lost touch with the fact that behavior change and body change takes time. The number one thing I repeat to clients, at every single visit even over time is that progress is being made it just takes time. Your body needs time to balance itself out. It needs time to detox all of the foods and chemicals. It doesn’t work at a moment’s notice. They are feeling better, and seeing slow progress and just want it FASTER! Remember, you didn’t just wake up one day eat one piece of processed food and feel like crap (or maybe you did)… it generally takes years of eating that way to really start to feel terrible (with some exceptions related to food allergies of course).
But what holds people back THE MOST is their inability to let go of the processed and packaged items for swaps. It is all about SWAPPING things out. You do this slowly, a little at a time so you aren’t overwhelmed and frustrated. I see many people push to swap (which I commend) but after a few weeks, they fall right back to those old processed foods.
There are a number of reasons why this happens. People get tired. People liked their old habits (except how they felt after eating that food). People are addicted to the chemicals and qualities in those foods making it hard to break that habit.
What are food swaps?
Pretzels as a snack – small chopped carrots, cucumbers, peppers with a side of hummus. Instead of grabbing that bag – you instead grab a bag or whole item listed above. You pack that right into baggies for the week when you get home. Making homemade hummus takes minutes, or you can find a clean version (read the ingredients to be sure it’s only whole foods) and package it with your veggies.
Frozen waffles/breakfast items – these are some of the worst items to buy. They have so many fillers, bad oils, as well as poor empty carbs. It is easy to make waffles/pancakes from whole food ingredients right in your kitchen for an entire 1-2 weeks. You can freeze the batch in wrapped portions. Grab them in the morning, pop them in the toaster oven and serve (just like the frozen ones but healthier!).
Deli counter meat – cook a whole chicken in a slow cooker on Sunday and portion out for the week. Do not toss that broth. Strain and save for cooking, or drinking all week! Bone broth is a great digestive balancer and it’s delicious and soothing! If you don’t like chicken, when you cook your Sunday evening dinner, toss on a few more fish fillet for the week and portion them out for salad toppers, or quick re-heats on busy days. We do this OFTEN! My son is picky with his protein – I often think ahead, cook ahead, and then reheat that day as he picks and chooses daily what he will and will not eat.
The key here is to think about what you will ALREADY be doing and add these little things to that time so you aren’t making NEW additional times to cook and prep. Dinner is being cooked nightly – so at the same time you also prep for the week. Or you are making a great lunch that day – so you add in the other baked or prepped goods you need at that time. The key is to add it into an already existing routine. No need to make MORE things to do. Of course if you never make any food ever, and you have been relying on take out and frozen dinner for all meals, you will need to routine shift. I recommend starting with just one meal. Choose an easier time of day and meal for yourself and swap it out. Get the routine down and move to the next meal.
Challenge 3: You think your child is a picky eater
Parents are afraid their child may starve! Shockingly enough when a child is presented with other foods, with no other options they EAT THOSE NEW FOODS. They rarely complain either. You may have an older child (above 7) who would know the difference, and that might take some change time. But it will be fine. They will NOT starve themselves and eventually will give in as long as you do not allow them to have the items that are processed.
The other part of “picky eating” is related to biome problems and gut imbalance. It is proven that children (and adults) with “picky eating” habits have altered mouth flora, and gut flora. This creates issues with taste and digestion. Thus they refuse to eat many things and often go back to THE THINGS that are causing that imbalance to begin with.
The fact of the matter is this – if you get rid of those packages your child will get better. Yes – there are additional pieces to this -proper nutrient balance, finding the gaps, and finding the SPECIFIC imbalances of your child – whether it be the liver needing detox, to major gut and biome imbalance, and more. HOWEVER, THE FIRST STEP in healing is eating whole foods.
My job when I work with a client is to find what is causing their symptoms and go at that with nutrition changes and lifestyle changes until it isn’t a problem anymore. With the right support and guidance, you can make those changes, and feel better than ever.