I'm sitting here this morning with bags under my eyes, emotionally exhausted, and my body and soul feeling like I got ran over by a freight train. Yes, I did sleep enough, 7.5 hours to be exact, and no, I'm not coming down with anything.
You see, I was planning on writing a post last night and share with you our Valentines day. It was going to have a few pics of the crafts we made, talk about the wonderful time I had volunteering in my daughter's classroom, and show you the awesome homemade, raw chocolate lollipops I made especially with my son in mind.
But last night's events made me feel the need to concentrate a little more of my post on these lollipops. The ones that are "healthy", made with raw cacao, no dairy or processed sugar, so my son could have it without triggering a reaction with his food sensitivities.
He deals quite well with his food sensitivities and allergies on a day to day basis. But holidays are a bit harder, which is understandable, especially for a 7 year old who goes to school. Many people give little treats with the Valentine's cards and distribute them to everyone in the class. The thought is nice, but boy does it make it harder for him. Luckily, I have some super thoughtful friends who's kids are also in his class, and these amazing moms go out of their way to find alternatives or omit the candy for my boy and I am immensely grateful for their support. I never expected anyone to go out of their way for our food issues but I sure do appreciate it more than I could ever explain.
As I've mentioned in my last post, my mom was always thoughtful on these little holidays, and I wanted to do the same for my own kids. I've been wanting to make raw chocolate for quite sometime and had all the ingredients on hand, including heart lollipop moulds, so I thought this occasion was perfect for making some.
They turned out quite well actually, dark chocolate tasting, but I cut some of the bitterness with a touch of extra agave and even added some mango extract, which gave it a subtle flavour that tricked my taste buds into thinking it was even a bit sweeter than reality (aka not too bitter for kids).
I wrapped them up and hid them in the fridge (I made them the night before) until they came back from school yesterday.
They got home and saw them on the table within a couple minutes. They were so excited and to my amazement, they loved them! It always makes me happy seeing my kids loving something that I've made, but even better when I know it's healthy and pure.
Shortly after, a meltdown happened. They both seemed a bit tired, so I didn't think anything of it. Then another meltdown, then another, then a full blown tantrum. All had by my 7 year old boy. I mean, picture a nasty tantrum a 2 year old can throw, and translate that into a 7 year old. He was dropping himself on the floor continuously, he even ran and threw himself against the wall at one point. He was screaming to the top of his lungs, crying uncontrollably, was completely unable to calm down or even hear me. His heart was pounding so hard, I could feel it just by putting my hand on his chest.
It was exhausting for everyone. It was off and on, over a 3 hour period, but the last episode lasting over half an hour. I kept asking him if he ate any treats from school, but he was insisting he didn't. That's one thing he's always been so honest about and he really seemed to be telling the truth. But my mom instinct was telling me it was food related.
By 7 he was a bit calmer (but barely) so I sent him to bed early, hoping he'd sleep it off. I was racking my brain trying to figure out what he could have had to trigger this. This is exactly what happens when he eats food dye, too much processed sugar, dairy or sodium benzoate (in some Ibuprofen medicine and other processed foods).
Then suddenly, it hit me. I remembered something I read a few years ago, when I was researching about nutrition and reading up lots on raw foods. The raw cacao.
I looked it up and was overwhelmed with many similar stories of adverse effects of cacao.
Raw cacao is said being a superfood. It's raw, so it's healthy. Well, it's not processed, no. But it's highly addictive (which we already know), but there's more.
Here's a sample of one of the articles I read last night (but there are many, many other articles out there about both scientific information, and personal experiences on the potential adverse effects of cacao):
"Raw cacao contains over 300 naturally occurring chemicals and many of them are detrimental to the human body and mind when consumed on a regular basis. Many of them could be considered toxins. Some of the most potent, harmful and disconcerting include theobromind, theophylline and caffeine. These chemicals have a devastating effect on the central nervous system, gastrointestinal system, cardiovascular and endocrine system and can result in depression, anxiety, nervousness, insomnia, gastrointestinal disorders, adrenal fatigue, chronic fatigue, nausea, nervous disorders, osteoporosis, heart and circulation disorders and many more. The chemicals in raw cacao are actually much more potent than processed chocolate, because they are presented to us in raw form."
Now, I can tell you, I have two kinds of cocoa in my cupboards, raw cacao, and pure (but not raw) cocoa powder. He's had the cocoa powder many times, as it's what I use to make hot cocoa with almond or rice milk and it's never been an issue, but it was his first time having raw cacao though.
So why would it have affected one child and not the other? Well, my daughter doesn't have sensitivities (that we know of) or allergies. He, on the other hand, has been dealing with these food related issues since he was about 2 (didn't realize until he was 3-4 though). He is much more sensitive to chemicals, foods and such that she ever will be, and his immune has always been weaker than hers.
I'm am not telling you to avoid chocolate all together, that it's poison for you. I am simply sharing my experiences to make you aware that food has a huge impact on us all, one way or another. I am writing this to remind parents out there, to trust their instincts. We really do know our kids best. His reaction to raw cacao was no different than if he ate a gold fish cracker (orange dye), had a chunk of cheese or too many sugar cookies.
I will still be making hot cocoa once in a while, using regular cocoa powder, but if I make something like brownies or chocolate cake, I am probably going to use carob powder instead, in case large quantities of cocoa powder produce the same effect.
I love this kid to the moon and back, and love these dark happy eyes and his adorable smile and the dimples on his cheeks. But my heart felt broken last night, at the sight of him loosing control of his emotions and actions. A mother's heart sinks in those situations.
(clearly all happy before eating the lollipop)
You live, you learn, you grow and you move on.
And you hug them tight and keep telling and showing them how much you love them, because you were once again reminded to be extra grateful for what you have and for the all good moments.