Written by local mom, Lisa Collins
After six weeks of off and on flu-like symptoms, and no concrete answer from our family doctor, we took it upon ourselves to seek out a naturopath for a second opinion on our son’s condition. Sure enough, one month before his third birthday we learned that our little guy’s guts were riddled with bad bacteria. It was a result of being on an anti-bacterial medication he was prescribed for hand foot and mouth disease and impetigo. While he needed the medication at the time, it unfortunately also wiped out his good gut bacteria. The cure: a very strict, limited diet… and absolutely NO sugar.
Family gatherings, birthday parties, trick or treating, chocolate calendars, Easter egg hunts, snack time during organized sports, play dates with friends – there is one thing all of these events have in common… SUGAR!
No sugar for a three year old can seem like the end of the world. For a parent, this poses a few obstacles; especially when all of the other children are enjoying juice boxes, mounds and mounds of fruit, and all of the cleverly marketed snack foods for pre-school and school-aged children.
We learned many things along this journey of healing our son’s guts. We had to exercise a long list of creative ways to present otherwise boring food (raw vegetables) and drinks (water) to him. Much to our surprise, he was quite on board with almost all of our unique ideas! Drinking water and infusing it with lemons (“lemonade!”), berries and other approved items really became something that our son looked forward to! We took advantage of the opportunity we had to educate our son on all the great things water can do for his body. We taught him how it regulates the temperature of his body, how it carries air (oxygen) to the cells that make up his body, that it protects his vital organs and joints (acting like cushion), and how it also helps him to digest his food and even remove waste! We talked about dehydration and what he would feel like if he didn’t drink water – tired, weak and without enough energy to be able to run and play with his buds all day.
One of the biggest testaments to our sugar-less, water-full diet plan was a trip to a new dentist. After examining our son’s teeth, the dentist asked how old my son was when he had his cavities filled. When I replied that he had never had a cavity – the dentist was astonished. What the dentist had observed was how flat and smooth our son’s teeth were. We know that most tap water is fluoridated, which helps teeth stay strong and protects against cavities, so if that’s not a demonstration of water doing wonders, I don’t know what is!?
It has been almost 6 months since our son received his clean bill of health and slowly but surely we have been able to introduce foods (that he has gone without) back in to his diet. To this day, our son carries a water bottle around almost everywhere he goes. He is allowed to have a juice box every now and then, but recognizes what all that sugar does to his body after consumption.
It truly is amazing the timing of life events sometimes. Just when we thought we were going down an impossible path for the sake of our sons’ health, doesn’t the Healthy Kids Community Challenge roll out in Waterloo Region. Moreover, wouldn’t you know that drinking water is cool all of a sudden and all of the children our son spends time with are learning about the benefits of water too! It was not an easy 18+ months of recovery, but we found so much strength and support in the efforts and exercises introduced by the Healthy Kids Community Challenge. Water is healthy, delicious and FREE; a natural way to stay hydrated. We choose water!
Lisa Collins works for the City of Kitchener and was a dedicated member of the City’s Healthy Kids Community Challenge Committee during the campaign.
Visit childrenandyouthplanningtable.ca/healthy-kids-community-challenge/ for more information about how water can do wonders for your family. While you are there, be sure to check out our feature educational film A Superhero’s Guide to Health as well as other fun and FREE educational resources!