Frequently Asked Questions
How do I know if my child is (or I am) a good candidate for this Protocol?
If your child is displaying associated symptoms and/or has been diagnosed anywhere along the Autistic Spectrum (ADD, ADHD, Aspergers, Sensory Integration Disorder, Autism, etc.), then it’s worth a look, especially if your child displays any of these particular symptoms:
Oversensitivity to sensory input
This is first and foremost, and I have rarely seen anyone in our program who didn’t display at least some of this. Sometimes it can be an overreaction to a single sensory source such as light, noise or certain sounds, but it’s often from combinations of input. This can manifest in ways such as not wanting to be around other people (especially in a classroom, restaurant or shopping mall), flinching, squinting or watering eyes in bright light, intensely smelling everything from fabrics to foods (sometimes getting very offended by strong smells), to always complaining that they are “being yelled at”. It can also induce claustrophobia and a tendency to physically strike out at anyone who gets too close. On the “touch” end, I’ve seen kids who refuse haircuts because they can’t stand the way the little cut hairs “hurt” them, who can’t stand wearing bedclothes, or who keep tearing off their clothes because of the little tags in the neck of a shirt. If your child hates going to the mall, doesn’t like to go to the movies, constantly sniffs all his/her food or hates all the shirts with tags on them, you’re probably looking at a case of sensory overload. Although it shows up in varying degrees, this is the most common of the issues and reflects the basis of the problem
Frequent, horribly frightening and very realistic Technicolor nightmares that they have difficulty waking up from are quite common. Others might just dream very frequently and in extreme detail. Children often times don’t voluntarily tell their parents about these dreams, but it will manifest in a kid who always wants to sleep with Mom and Dad, or at the very least can’t sleep without a nightlight. Others tell long very-involved stories about the vivid dream they had the night before. At least 90% of the time these affected people tell me that the worst part of the dreams are that objects, people or quite commonly “demons” or other scary beasts, are “coming at them from everywhere”, or that they are being “pounced on” or otherwise attacked. Another strange aspect of these dreams is that for some reason in many people, the syndrome seems to invoke some of the darker areas of the subconscious resulting in dreams that the person is actually ashamed of for even thinking
Impulsivity and/or “Blurting”
This can range from saying inappropriate things or acting out, all the way to violence – sometimes even extreme violence. A common statement to look for from older vocal children and adults is, “I know I shouldn’t be doing that, but I just can’t stop myself”, which is often accompanied by tears of frustration or recriminations that they are “a bad person”. It took me a long time to stop being shocked at some of the things children said to their parents or siblings, or sometimes even to me during office visits. These things range from the odd or inappropriate to incredibly sarcastic, cruel or lewd. I’ve had everything from kids who tell me how horrible their parents are, to those who started screaming and cursing at, or even hitting, their parent who was with them
“Scenario Building”, or hearing voices in their head
So common that it is nearly universal, is this “scenario building”. It involves hearing your own voice (or sometimes someone else’s) in your head making up wild stories and primarily-negative fantasies. In children (especially the younger ones) this manifests most often in fear and particularly in paranoia. They very often are afraid of other children, teachers, normally harmless animals, or of what they project someone may do to them – even their own parents! Some of the scenarios related to me by children have been absolutely chilling, and there have been some very shocked expressions on the faces of Moms who find out that their own beloved kids are afraid of them or their Fathers. It also shows up regularly as the “tall story teller” with a child who either wildly exaggerates or just commonly lies altogether. The thing to remember is that because of the high sensory input, this “tall tale” stuff is quite often not an exaggeration in their mind, but rather exactly as they remember it happening
Related Physical Symptoms and Especially Digestive Complaints
Not always, but with enough regularity to definitely mention, I see that kids who fall into this category also have chronic stomach pains, diarrhea, rashes, eczema, allergies or asthma. Presenting with these symptoms alone I would not necessarily first consider our syndrome, but these often accompany the other more-recognizable ones
How difficult is this diet to follow? Can we still eat in restaurants?
The diet is actually relatively simple: No measuring or worrying about specific portions, or searching for foods and ingredients you’ve never heard of, and as long as you’re eating in restaurants that offer decent quality food, you’re usually going to be okay. And the best part is that the diet will be healthy, nutritious and delicious for the whole family – no reason to have to make more than one meal for the whole gang. A real plus for busy parents
How do I get my picky-eater kid to eat healthier food and go without some of his/her favorites?
Actually, it’s probably much easier than you think. Unlike adults who are set in their ways, once you show kids a better way to go, they generally grab onto the changed lifestyle with gusto. I have seen two-year-olds (and older) who walk around with open bags of raw spinach eating from it like another kid might with a bag of potato chips. Besides, it’s not essential that you serve a large variety in order for this process to start working. If the child initially only seems to like a limited number of food items on the diet, then let them eat just those for a little while. Truthfully, that hasn’t really happened as yet with the clients who have come to see me, but that would be my general answer. Many of our most beneficial foods can also be blended into “smoothies” that most kids don’t have much problem with. Purees that mix meat and vegetables, or fruit and vegetables (not fruit with meat), can be very effective. I know some of this may sound a little far-fetched at first look, but trust me – the kids usually do just fine. It’s generally harder to change the habits of the parents, than of the kids!
Do I have to eat the same foods as my child?
The best results we are witnessing here in Durangoand hearing back from many of our home-based programs are consistently from the families that have all family members eating by the SBP Diet guidelines. We can’t stress the importance of this enough. Trying to make different meals for various kids and adults in the same household is not only overly complicated, but produces feelings of exclusion for those who are made to feel that they are being singled out for special treatment. If a child is to properly appreciate that this represents “healthier” eating choices for them, then how are they able to understand that their foods are somehow not good enough for the rest of the family? And maybe most importantly; if you have junk food in your house – whether it’s under your bed or on top of the fridge – your kids will find it. Set a good example for your children and eat by the diet along with them. Your attitude that the changes are “no big deal” will go a long way with your kids.Trust us here; Dad, Mom and everyone else will most likely see that they feel better on SBP as well!
What about food items that are not listed in any column of the SBP Diet?
The SBP Golden Rule: If a food item isn’t listed, don’t eat it! Usually missing foods simply means that we have not yet been able to locate the nutritional information we need in order to properly classify it to our satisfaction. There are TONS of whole food items in the diet now, so please do your best with these for the time being. Currently there are too many ingredients and unknowns in packaged foods to attempt to accurately rank them, so eating processed food items and especially during Phase 1 & 2, may greatly compromise your results with the program
How long will it take to see any results?
That’s hard to predict with any consistency as every case is different, although I need to reinforce that the people who adhere most strictly to this Protocol will always see the fastest results. As a general rule, the younger (and smaller) the child, the quicker the parents usually see some results. In general – let me stress that – IN GENERAL, we are seeing the first significant changes beginning within the first 15-30 days
Is this program expensive to take on?
In a word…no. Even with those clients who are able to come see us, we usually only recommend limited supplements, and the necessary food items can all be easily included on your family’s usual shopping list. If you’re not accustomed to eating anything beyond junk-food, then this will probably be somewhat more expensive for you. If you usually eat good quality foods, then you probably won’t notice a difference in your budget as the diet is mostly based on avoidance and substitution
We’re having some difficulties getting starting or staying in strict compliance with the food recommendations. Is there a reason that this can’t be made easier?
We hear and acknowledge frustration from many that the dietary suggestions seem for various reasons to be difficult to adopt, and we can understand their hopes that the process can somehow be made simpler. One of the initial observations and comments that we commonly hear is that “There’s no way that my child will be able to eat this way because all of his/her favorite foods are on your Don’t Eat at All for Now lists.” It’s very important for those who feel that way to try to understand that there’s an extremely good and self-evident reason for that predicament. Our poor eating habits and processed foods have really fallen off a cliff over the last few decades and we have to immediately reassemble our knowledge and reprioritize the importance of proper nutritional choices; especially for those very early in life. Be sure to read the explanations presented in the Science section of this website to try to appreciate how important strict compliance is to your ability to rapidly assess the value and potential of this program with your family
Is it normal to experience ups & downs, good & bad days and other inconsistencies while on this diet?
Absolutely. As much as we would like to say that everyone sees progress in some uniform, cumulative and predictable manner, the majority of people see ups and downs that if not anticipated, may seem like setbacks or regression. The process can be very different for many due to individual sensitivities to the Menefe Syndrome and the particular severity and duration of the condition and unwanted symptoms. Setbacks almost always settle down within a couple of days, so stay with it!
My child is eating plenty of the recommended foods, but still seems to be hungry after meals – especially breakfast. Is that normal?
Many people quickly recognize that the SBP Diet reduces many of the carbohydrate foods that have become large parts of the modern diet of many, and especially at the breakfast meal. The abrupt reduction of these foods is often associated with cravings and feelings of less fullness until your body efficiently adjusts to using higher percentages of protein and healthy fats as fuel and to alternate sources of fiber, in preference to all the breads, cereals and other low-value carbs that provide those accustomed feelings of “fullness”, but may also promote weight issues, blood sugar irregularities and in the case of some foods, the specific nutritional imbalance that we have identified. A quick counting of calorie intakes at meal times will remind you that you’re certainly not starving anyone. Most people tell us that this adjustment usually only takes 2-4 weeks, so just try to be a little patient. You can always try adding in larger quantities of Best Choice carbs such as sweet potatoes and allowed fruits to help with the transition period
How do I know when to transition between the three “Phases” of the Protocol?
Transition from using only the Best Choices lists to more foods in the Moderation lists should ALWAYS be based on behavior and NEVER just on the length of time on the Protocol. You cannot say, “I’ve been on Phase 1 for (X) number of weeks, so it’s time to move to Phase 2”. Nope – when your child is behaving, learning and reacting the way you would like them to, then and only then is the time to move on to the next Phase. Everyone is different so you’ll need to exercise your own judgment with this
If my or my child’s behavior or symptoms actually seem to get “worse”, either immediately after starting the diet or several weeks into the diet, does that mean that the process is not working correctly?
We like to say that any resulting changes in symptoms and behavior are indications that you’re making positive progress. It is important to understand that all we’re doing here is substituting some foods for other foods, so here’s our logic regarding the process that I think will make sense to you:
* Obviously the best and most desirable reaction and outcome will be rapid, progressive and cumulative improvements
* But another positive indicator and reaction may actually be a temporary worsening of some symptoms – If the Menefe Syndrome were not indeed present, then it would be more likely to notice absolutely nothing from the dietary changes
* Therefore, the WORST outcome we could expect would be to notice absolutely no changes, good or bad, over the entire process
At what point can we or should we go back to our “usual” way of eating?
Although we have seen many cases where only short term use of the SBP Diet has produced great results that have lasted for years beyond strict compliance, we also want people to know that returning to poor dietary patterns may promote a return of unwanted symptoms – especially in those children and adults who may be particularly susceptible to the Menefe Syndrome imbalance. You just need to rely on your own education, judgment and observations when planning for the long term nutritional needs of you and your family. So although we continue to refer to the SBP Diet, especially with regard to Phase 1 and Phase 2 recommendations, as representing a “temporary” strict modification in the way that your child and family eats their meals, this nearly two year experiment in Internet circulation of the diet and having you all report back to us has only strengthened our opinion exponentially that continuing to comply with no less than the Phase 3 diet will represent a positive lifestyle practice for a great portion of the entire population. Many families tell us that now they wouldn’t go off the diet for anything, and a good number of them even choose to remain with the more limited Phase 1 eating. You will need to make that type of choice
What is NoHarm’s position on the use of medications and nutritional supplements along with the SBP Diet?
We are frequently asked whether we commonly recommend or not recommend the continued use or new use of medications and supplements. First and foremost, our goal is always to have the dietary changes do most of the work whenever possible. Throwing too many variables into the mix at the same time may be counterproductive at worst and confusing to the assessment of your positive results at best. Try to keep the process as simple as possible in the beginning. However we know that often there are other medical issues children and adults are experiencing that the diet alone can not be expected to completely address. Please understand that as we are not medical doctors, we can in no way legally or even ethically advise you about the use or dosage of any prescription drugs. You will need to consult with your prescribing physicians for all such guidance. With so many nutritional supplements available, yet with unpredictable availability (especially with international considerations), it’s rarely practical or even responsible for us to try to recommend generic supplementation for people to try to locate in their markets or even health food stores. There are superior and inferior brands and many other variables in your choices out there, and Dr. Shauna always prefers to keep supplementation minimized and fairly customized to the individual case at any rate. Customized advice from experienced practitioners is always preferred to attempting to recommend the same products to everyone, or suggesting that you just experiment with the latest and greatest supplements before you can see how you or your child responds to the dietary changes alone
Are there participating therapists and other practitioners in my area that you could refer me to?
We are doing our very best at assembling a referral network to help you locate those practitioners in your area who could assist and coach you with this program, but this is going to take a little more time. We’re making plans to provide training for those professionals who wish to participate, and we know that there are many already out there who are recommending and supporting people with their SBP programs, but haven’t yet supplied us with that information. We strongly encourage all those currently working with this Protocol, or who would like to do so, to contact and communicate that to us
I’d love to be able to have my family come to consult personally with Shauna Young at the Assertive Wellness Center in Colorado, but it’s not possible at this time. What other help is available to us?
Many people have told us that they have gained a lot of help and good suggestions in speaking with Shauna by phone in 30 minute phone consultations. These appointments can be scheduled Tuesday through Saturday, and there is only a $50 charge for this valuable service. This can be very effective and affordable help for those who do not currently have the ability to travel to Durango,CO or to another trained practitioner