Monday, March 8, 2010

Nitrates, Nitrates, and Preservatives - Oh My!

Since learning that Doodle had autism, I have been on a quest to educate myself on how food plays a role in her autistic symptoms. To that end, I have also explored how chemicals in our daily environment contribute to her food sensitivities. Here's what I have adapted in our environment to help reduce the toll that toxins take on her fragile systems.

After stabilizing Doodle's diet, I felt like she was not continuing to progress as much as I had hoped. So, I started to look around my house to see if there were additional items I could eliminate to help alleviate toxins that could enter her body. First thing I noticed were the counter wipes that I frequently used to clean my kitchen counter - you know the kind from Lysol or Clorox that claim to kill 99.9% of the germs on your counter. I'm all for a clean house, but felt like maybe the harsh chemicals in these wipes were contributing to the lack of progress. So I eliminated them. I now use cleaners that are made only from natural ingredients - like those from Seventh Generation.

Once upon a time I would have thought using all natural cleaners was going overboard and a little bit crazy. What's wrong with off the shelf cleaners? Well, when your little body is sensitive - like Doodle's - every toxin matters. Some kids can handle it just fine, but many Autistic children can't handle the overload of toxins on their system, so it's best to eliminate as much as possible. Once I eliminated these toxins, I noticed a visible difference in her verbal ability. She was increasing her speech at the same time.

Next, I looked at some of Doodle's favorite foods - bacon, ham, hot dogs. All were packed full of preservatives. Common preservatives in these foods are Nitrites and Nitrates. Once upon a time bacon and ham would have been preserved with salt, but somewhere around the turn of the 20th century, someone decided that they liked the pink color that nitrates and nitrites provided to these products and began curing with these preservatives instead. I am so thankful that many food companies are now starting to go away from these chemicals and revert to using sea salt instead. Hormel has started an all natural line which is nitrate and nitrite free. Doodle eats this bacon almost every morning. Check out their Natural Choice meat selection - tastes great without all of the harmful chemicals!

What prompted this whole post was the amazing Nitrate Free Ham my family ate this weekend. I picked one up at Trader Joe's and warmed it in the over at 325 degrees in a large roasting pan for 2 hours. I placed some Coca-Cola in the bottom of the roasting pan and tented the ham with aluminum foil to trap in the moisture. The result was a ham dinner that the whole family raved about! Plus, I have plenty left over to make some of my Wild Rice Soup later in the week!

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