Community Spotlight: Joyce Rosenblum
by Linda SechristThroughout her childhood, Joyce Rosenblum dreamed of being a teacher. Her dream came true in 1979 when she graduated from college and began her career as a special education teacher. Other than the few years that she took off to be a new mom, Rosenblum dedicated 18 years to teaching children with special needs, which may be why she recognized that her second child had special needs of his own.
From her years of classroom experience, Rosenblum learned to recognize the link between a child’s health and behavior and the foods they did or didn’t eat. “Children that ate a breakfast loaded with sugar were all over the classroom, whereas those who had no food in their stomach couldn’t focus; it was the same scenario after lunch,” recalls the co-owner of the Natural Kitchen Cooking School.
When Rosenblum’s then five-year-old son was diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD), asthma and a bi-polar disorder, he was put on medication. Rosenblum knew the medication was the only conventional option in order to keep her son in school, but after extensive research, she began contemplating a less conventional alternative, the Feingold Diet of proven dietary techniques for better behavior, learning and health.
The Feingold Diet, created by Ben F. Feingold, MD, author of Why Your Child is Hyperactive, is an elimination diet that excludes foods believed to contain salicylate compounds, as well as synthetic colorings and flavorings. Rosenblum put her whole family on the diet, and when she saw her son’s moods stabilize after removing synthetic colorings, she knew she was on to something.
After talking to a neighbor who followed a macrobiotic diet that excluded meat and dairy products and included vegetables such as kale, collards and Bok Choy—unfamiliar foods for Rosenblum—she knew she would be taking her family’s diet to a different level of nutrition.
A trip to the Fresh Fields Market, which is now Whole Foods, left Rosenblum absolutely certain that she didn’t know what to buy or how to prepare it. Fortune smiled as she was exiting the store. “I saw a Thyme Savor brochure on the community bulletin board, grabbed it, went home, called Barry Cohen (a food consultant and personal chef), told him my story and asked if he could come the next day to help me,” she recalls.
Although Cohen could not, he offered an excellent substitute: Christina Pirello, an authority on whole foods who had a TV show on how to cook tasty meals using them. Rosenblum taped the show and watched later. Astonished by what she saw, she sat wide-eyed in front of the TV, notebook in hand, and jotted down notes about the many nutrient-dense foods that Pirello recommended for meals. “Thereafter, I took every class and lecture she offered,” notes Rosenblum.
Recalling her joy at working with Cohen for several months, Rosenblum says, “The first time he came to my house and went through my refrigerator and pantry to identify ingredients such as high-fructose corn syrup and partially hydrogenated oil, I had only six things left to cook with.”
Today, Rosenblum’s son is no longer on medication and his ADHD and bi-polar symptoms have improved considerably. Her own problem with endometriosis, a gynecological condition in which endometrial-like cells appear and flourish in areas outside the uterine cavity, disappeared after she removed dairy products from her diet. Her husband, whose allergies led to regular shots, also no longer suffered with excess mucus, congestion and occasional bronchitis.
An ancient Jewish proverb—“Who dares to teach must never cease to learn”—describes Rosenblum’s life in and out of the classroom. A believer in education and the power of food, Rosenblum added to her self-acquired education on natural foods by becoming a graduate of the Institute of Integrative Nutrition and studying for eight months with the Natural Kitchen Cooking School to become a Certified Natural Foods Chef.
Rosenblum’s life experience and hands-on time spent working with Pirello, in addition to a six-month internship with Marilyn Waxman, a holistic living teacher, more than prepares her to teach others what she has already learned. With compassion and a true love for empowering others with knowledge, Rosenblum is still a special needs teacher at heart. “This time, it’s for adults, and the education is really about prevention—a special health need in today’s world,” she says.