Monday, June 6, 2011

Lunch Box Chronicles: Day One-Hundred and Twenty-Five (Let Food Be Thy Medicine)

MONDAY, JUNE 6, 2011

Let Food Be Thy Medicine: Guest-post by Beth George of Spelt Right Baking Company

In today’s guest-post, Beth George, co-founder and owner of Spelt Right Baking, tells the story of how one mother's desire to help her son grew into a new business that helps many. 

*This is a story Beth has told many times, and much of this article appears word-for-word on the Spelt Right Baking's "About" page. We are happy to re-publish the origin of Spelt Right here, at The MotherHood, because we believe in Beth and Tim's mission to raise awareness along with the bread they bake.

Photo courtesy of Bates College and Beth George.

Transformative is the best way to describe the diet change in our family. 

We certainly are not perfect. It's tough to find all-organic foods, especially in Maine where we live, but the changes we've made are significant: we don't buy foods made with industrial wheat and other industrial grains, or artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives. We've also eliminatedhydrogenated oils, MSG (monosodium glutamate), HFCS (high-fructose corn syrup), and anything that reeks of highly refined or altered foods. 

It has improved our lives beyond expectation.

As stated by the great philosopher Hippocrates in 460 BC, “Let Food Be Thy Medicine; Let Medicine Be Thy Food.”

Our son, who is now 13, use to experience significant health and behavioral problems, and was diagnosed between the ages of four and seven, with ADHD, Asperger’s, Pervasive Developmental Disorder and a host of other disorders. He also had frequent ear infections and a compromised immune system. Sometimes he would flap his hands, moan, and get red-hot ears; he might rock, become extremely agitated or hyperactive. At times, though, he was quite calm, introspective and manageable.

At the time he was diagnosed, I was practicing law as a child advocate attorney representing hundreds of children in the system—in juvenile courts, in state custody, and in special education. I witnessed a misdirected, overburdened, over-budgeted, and ineffective system. The kids had tons of resources thrown at them but things were not improving. I was shocked by the number of kids being diagnosed with various disorders and systematically placed on drugs, with no quantifiable improvement. Most were recidivists in the juvenile system and many, within a few years, made their way into the adult criminal system.

I witnessed a system that was/is broken and I wanted to change it—the problem being that systems are hard to change. The issue hit home when my son, our middle child, was being diagnosed similarly to the kids for whom I advocated. I knew that I had to stop the train with him or my child could become embroiled in the same, ineffective system.

I was not convinced of the accuracy of the diagnoses, and was skeptical about the recommendation to test psychotropic drugs on our son. We wanted to find out what was triggering the physical and emotional reactions in him and resisted the proposed drug therapy. I started out by reading the current research and talking to other parents, which led me to consider my son's problems as possibly a reaction to specific foods.

One doctor we had consulted recommended that we try non-wheat breads. I had seen a loaf of spelt bread at my nanny's apartment and asked why she was eating it.  She told me that it was wheat-free bread, and that she felt better eating it compared to 'regular' bread. (This was pre-2006 when the FDA had not yet required that all spelt products contain the phrase "Contains: wheat".Spelt is not a wheat-free food.*)

I thought I would buy some for my son. It was good and he had no adverse reactions to it, but it fell apart easily—which made him cry at school. So, I decided to try and make my own spelt bread that tasted good and would not fall apart.

By the time my son was nine, we moved beyond bread and had completely changed his diet, eliminating all artificial additives, preservatives and colors.

The results were profound. 

After implementing a regulated, but very satisfying diet, my son's life was completely turned around. He is now free of any diagnoses and is in the gifted program in middle school. He is one of the nicest, most creative and grounded thirteen-year old boys I know. Additionally, he is a budding chef and baker, and can make just about anything from scratch.

This is nothing short of remarkable given that he could barely sit at a desk just a few years before.

In the process of helping my son, I have helped myself, and have learned how to help others. 

In 2007, as a result of the need to find better food for our son, I and my husband, Tim Kane (vice president of a local college) created an all-natural baking company,Spelt Right Baking.  pizza dough—ever! (Currently all our products are available online.)

Also since 2007, I have been writing, talking, and baking my way to get attention for this very important issue: to educate others on the critical importance of healthy, nutritious foods for our mental and emotional well-being.

In the course of growing our business, we have heard from so many of our customers about their own health challenges, including diabetes, insulin resistance, Lyme Disease, arthritis, migraines, heart and artery disease, skin issues, obesity, behavior problems, and how they have been able to improve their health through diet change, including a switch from industrial grains to heirloom grains like spelt.

We have come to the conclusion that America does not face a health crisis, but rather a nutrition crisis.

I think about the money that the government could save (just in the educational system alone) if people simply fed their kids better foods. I am convinced that the special education and juvenile justice systems would become less burdened, not to mention the health care costs of the general public.

We would love to hear the stories of other families that have found health and sanity through diet change.

You can post on our blog: or email me directly

Thank you and be well!

Beth George, co-founder and owner, Spelt Right Baking



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