What You Can Do About School Food

by Dr. Susan Rubin

The struggle to improve school food was a lonely one until now. For many years, concerned parents felt marginalized when they took a public stand against the excessive amounts of sugar and processed foods that are served in schools. Now that the rest of the population has caught up to this issue, the conversation has changed. Discussions around healthcare reform now routinely include addressing our nation’s consumption of food, and especially school food, to help reduce our skyrocketing healthcare costs.

Josh Viertel is a Westchester County native and the president of Slow Food USA. He says that the way we feed our kids is a reflection of our values. “We cannot, in good conscience, continue to make our kids sick by feeding them cheap by-products of an industrial food system,” Viertel says. “It is time to give kids real food—food that tastes good, is good for them, is good for the people who grow and prepare it, and is good for the planet.”

Slow Food USA has launched an innovative plan to raise the bar on school lunches. Their campaign, called Time for Lunch, includes 3 action steps.

1. Sign the Time for Lunch petition online at slowfoodusa.org/timeforlunch and pass it on to your friends and fellow eaters.

2. Contact your legislators by phone or letter. Telling your legislators what’s important to you is one of the most powerful ways you can participate in our democracy.

3. Organize an Eat In and participate in a national day of Action on Labor Day, September 7, 2009.

An Eat In is a combination of peaceful protest and pot-luck that sends a powerful message to local school boards and federal legislators that school food is important to our nation’s health. The national Eat-In on September 7 will tell Congress that it’s time to provide America’s children with real food at school.

Eat Ins are starting to spring up all over Westchester and Rockland counties. For more information on these issues and actions, visit slowfoodusa.org/timeforlunch.

Dr. Susan Rubin is a dentist, holistic nutritionist, mother, and 20-year Chappaqua resident. Susan has been involved with school food advocacy in Westchester and on a national level for over a decade. For more information about her work with school food programs, visit betterschoolfood.org.

Natural Approaches for ADD/ADHD from Local Experts

The problem of ADD/ADHD in children is a major one today, and the experts we’ve gathered look at it from uniquely different angles. One of the approaches they share, however, is a trust and reliance on natural remedies: the scientifically sensible, the noninvasive and the creative.

Dr. Henry Sobo: Nutrition, Sensitivities, and a Simple Machine
Henry Sobo, M.D., says he focuses on three areas in dealing with ADD/ADHD in children. First is the issue of nutritional imbalances. Amino acids are among the important nutrients that impact the balance of the brain’s neurotransmitters, such as serotonin, dopamine, epinephrine and norepinephrine, providing a guide for the replenishment of brain chemistry. Amino acids such as tryptophan, tyrosine, lysine, phenylalanine, cysteine and GABA all play a role, and impact stress/ anxiety and the ADD/ ADHD spectrum. Other nutrients that may play a role include the essential fatty acids, choline, and the minerals zinc and magnesium.

Second is the question of food sensitivities. Dr. Sobo: “It may not be apparent that children suffer from food sensitivities because they may not react with any clear physical or emotional reaction right after ingestion of the food. However it does affect their mental state and contribute to difficulties such as ADD.”

Third, Dr. Sobo suggests an exciting, simple and entirely safe technology, Cranial Electric Stimulation. An at-home treatment, it involves a small machine hooked up with pads that fit onto a patient’s earlobes, creating relaxation and mental focus by generating a minute stimulus that changes brain wave patterns. Twenty minutes daily is all that’s needed.”

Tracy King: First, Help Kids Understand
First, says Tracy King of Healing Steps, one of the most important healing steps is to help children understand what ADD/ADHD is, and why they act as they do. “Most of these children deal with daily negative feedback, having along-lasting impact on their developing self-image. They need help to see that they are so much more than their struggles,” says Tracy.

That’s why it’s so important for parents not to lose hope. “Don’t let anger, frustration or despair color your feelings or relationship with your child,” she suggests.  “Look at past treatment failures as stepping stones towards more positive solid ground.” Tracy adds, “Most parents overestimate their ability to put on a good front for their children. Deal with your feelings directly, professionally. You can alter the outcome of treatment and your child’s lives immeasurably.”

There’s a caveat: “Be careful about accepting any diagnosis of ADD/ADHD or autism as the definitive truth. Even when assessments and evaluations support certain symptom patterns, it is critical to always be assessing the needs of your child in the here and now.” Parents can act proactively by addressing developmental concerns early. “Often we hope that the child will outgrow a difficult phase. But don’t lose valuable time,” she says. “A child’s strong foundation is based on a number of things: his or her self-awareness and self-acceptance, validation and understanding from parents and, most critically, consistent support.”

Despite a lack of comprehensive treatment support networks in many areas, there are many excellent clinicians and resources tucked away in different locations. Tracy King suggests exploring all avenues of treatment, in addition to the traditional medications. This would include nutritional interventions, social skills groups, neuro-biofeedback, and massage therapy. For instance, Native Earth Body Works in Katonah, New York (914.248.6583) offers massage therapy to children with mental health and physical challenges.

Nancy Boyd: Healing Straight from the Soul
“I coach highly sensitive children, teens, and parents to reorient around what I call a soul-based operating system,” says Nancy Boyd. “We focus on why you’re here, what you are learning as a family, and how you can support each other in growing and developing in joy.” Through her Flower Essence practice she offers safe, effective and affordable solutions for stress, ADD/ADHD, concentration, self-esteem, and much more. Sometimes a one-hour consultation is as healing as anything. She has more than 2500 flower essences, recommending this form of treatment, since it connects the children’s most challenged circuits. More can be seen at www.danceswithflowers.com/pure-focus.

Nancy Boyd highly recommends seeking the support of parents and families with similar needs, searching out integrative medical care providers, alternatives to vaccines, and organic and fresh foods—greenmarkets, locavores and the slow food movement are places to start. She advises the elimination of processed foods, since supersensitive kids “cannot tolerate junk food. Also, irradiation kills the life force in foods, and make such children ill.”

For energy management, she says, “Get your kids outside! Give them unstructured time when they can empower themselves. Our children are not so much experiencing a deficit of attention as an overload of stimulation.” Search out alternatives to public schools, such as the Waldorf Schools or home schooling. Make friends with teachers who can get your kids’ needs met. Learn to coach your children instead of being the authority.

Echoing Tracy King, “Do not allow anyone you consider ‘an authority figure’ to pressure you into making choices you are not comfortable with. There always are better alternatives. Many are being inappropriately diagnosed and drugged out of convenience.” Warns Nancy Boyd: “Beware of nano-technology embedded in clothing, because supersensitive kids can’t tolerate it. It will wreak havoc with their electrical systems. Use natural fibers.”

Dr. Ingrid Bacci: Powerfully Gentle Craniosacral Therapy
Ingrid Bacci, PhD, CST, practices and has taught craniosacral therapy professionally for many years. Craniosacral therapy addresses subtle tensions, distortions, imbalances and lesions in the connective tissue, spine and cranium and brain, all of which can be caused through the birthing process, or have begun earlier in the womb. All of these can sometimes, though not always, manifest as sensori-motor problems, learning disabilities, delayed development and so on. These subtle tensions also sometimes get reflected in emotional disorders such as hyperactivity or aggression, in part because physical tensions and imbalances create a physically uncomfortable environment that make it harder for the child to thrive. The child is not aware of it, because it is his or her given background environment, and for that reason, among others, the child cannot articulate what is going on, but expresses the physical discomfort through emotional imbalances. To give an analogy, if you are put in a tight box, you might want to scream at some point!

If you treat children early, says Dr. Bacci, imbalances that can rigidify and cause much more severe problems over the years can be corrected, positively altering the whole course of a person’s life. Craniosacral therapy should be made a priority where any complications in birthing process, including Caesareans, vacuum extractions, prolonged labor, breech birth, problems with the umbilical chord and so on, have occurred, and also if the child manifests colic, which can be a direct result of irritation of the Vagus nerve during the birthing process and thereafter.

Dr. Henry Sobo can be reached at optimalhealth@optonline.net, and at 203.348.8805.

Tracy A King, LCSW-R of Healing Steps can be reached at 914.589.6755 or by email at Tracyaking14@msn.com.

Nancy Boyd’s company, Bright Wings, Inc., “serves people who are up to something good.” Visit brightwings.com or call her voicemail at 888.833.1725.

Ingrid Bacci, Craniosacral therapy and movement specialist, can be reached at ingrid@ingridbacci.com and 914.293.0898.

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