I am in the process of writing a book on Foods and your Liver. This was a decision I made due to the challenge of trying to help my 15 year old daughter deal with her diagnosis of Non Alcholic Fatty Liver Disease in 2008. Looking back to her childhood I know how she was made vulnerable to the disease.
I was a full time working mother of 2 children. Balancing the demands of commuting, ballet, soccer, doctors appointments and all of the other things that keep parents busy. That resulted in quick decisions for meals. We did not have time to chop veggies, wait for them to cook or think through a complex recipe.
Add to that the picky nature of children , the demands for junk foods that they saw on the TV or saw in their friends lunch box were always in my ear.
My parents did not pay any attention to healthy eating, my ex husbands parents did not either. My kids were destined to be a product of that.
My kids loved chicken nuggets, kraft dinner, hotdogs, pizza, hamburgers, dunkaroos, fruit roll ups, granola bars, yogurt tubes. I loved the convenience of liptons side dishes and uncle bens quick rice side dishes. They could be ready in 10 minutes, I could microwave chicken with shake n bake and boil up some frozen veggies and have dinner on the table in 15 minutes! Chocolate Milk, Fruitopia, Sunny Delight, Koolaid, Gatorade, were the beverages of choice.
This was perfection or it certainly seemed to be. My kids were not super fond of fruit, my daughter loved salads so i would make them , she would cover in ranch dressing but hey at least the veggies were getting in.
My son ate olives a ton of them, he would eat the meat on his plate and if we were lucky we would get a few bites of veggies in him. He loved Rice.
This quick and convenient cooking was mainstay. On weekends we would try to cook sheppards pie, fajitas, tacos, things they loved that were a bit more substantial.
They would take sandwiches for lunch and lots of snacks from the cupboard. They loved eating the Mr. Noodles packages raw!
What I know now is that all of those foods that they had as mainstays were filled with Sodium, MSG, High Fructose Corn Syrup and all of the other inventions that companies have added to products to make them cheaper to manufacture, more addictive to the consumer and easier on the pocket book have trapped families into a vicious cycle.
What I did know was that I was a heavier woman and if I didn;t get things under control I would be at risk for diabetes, high blood pressure as I aged. What I did not consider was that my children could be at risk before they reached adulthood. In my mind this was something to worry about after you turned 40. Not at 10.
My daughter always had stomach aches…I always guessed she just wasn’t pooping enough. In reality her liver was likely complaining and telling her not to eat these foods from an early age. She was clearly vulnerable and her weight started to be above the normal levels by age 8. I guessed early puberty, I had gained a lot of weight for that and I developed early too.
In 2007 her health at age 11 started to go downhill fast. She got pneumonia was on 3 doses of antibiotics to clear that, she never really recovered from that and it was followed by MonoNeucleosis. In Winter 2008 she was diagnosed with Non Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease. Life has been full of health problems for her since then.
In Early 2009 she started her first period and bled for 9 months solidly every day no breaks, very heavy bleeding. She became anemic and we started giving her iron supplements not knowing the iron was hurting her liver. Doctors put her on Birth control pills and it slowed the bleeding down in Summer 2009. She was then hit with extreme vertigo that put her in a wheelchair for 10 months. That ended in June 2010. Since that time she has been more stable.
There are ups and downs but you will never find the foods from her childhood in our home now. We eat fresh fruit, and veggies, brown rices, rice pasta, organic sauces rye breads ,and ocassionally we still eat poorly. But its not every day anymore, its not every meal. My daughter reads every label of every product we buy. Its put back on the shelf if we find the additives or chemicals that hurt her liver on it.
If this could happen to my daughter so easily, could it happen to your kids? Please take the time to read labels, try to eat fresh and local fruits and veggies. Buy organic whenever you can. Avoid the processed yogurts, granola bars, fruit rollups, the aisles and aisles of tempation. Stick to the outer aisles and only travel inside aisles for spices, or organics.
I hope you never have to tell your child she has liver disease. My daughter will always have to be careful. Her liver was compromised as a child and every alcoholic beverage in her future will damage it further. Taking those chances as a teenager is normal…for her it will cause pain and have long term impacts. I do not know what the future holds in research or for her, but I do know what parents have to watch for and I will not stop until everyone knows about this disease!
Protect yourself and your kids, do not let companies compromise your liver with their addictive products!