Day 107: Law-Mom’s Health Status Update

The other day I posted a guest blog post on our Facebook page because I was getting an error message every time I tried to link it here. Apparently, there was just an internal glitch happening with our WordPress because it is now working. If you have not had the opportunity to read it, yet, I recommend it: “What am I sacrificing for convenience?”

The author of this blog has been one of my inspirations going gluten-free (GF) since moving to our new community, and I am grateful that she has shared her story with me (and now with you). But, to give credit where credit is due, I’ve had a number of inspirations along the way, while I clung to eating whatever I wanted, when I wanted it. My former neighbor was one of the first people to tell me she was going GF to eradicate joint pain. Indeed, another friend from my former community suggested I try GF to help SC1 with some of her health issues. And a prior health practitioner told me going GF “would probably help” SC1. I had a lot of clues.

But I just wasn’t ready. I couldn’t battle that monster, yet. As I’ve written about in other blog posts, dealing with SC1’s true food allergies was too much for me. I couldn’t fathom trying to go GF with her sunflower and pea allergies. (So many prepared GF foods contain these things.) And I didn’t have the bandwidth to start cooking from scratch for every meal while working full-time and commuting. I wish I had…but I just didn’t.

Fast forward to today. It’s been 107 days since I first decided to cut gluten and sugar out of my diet. I cheated a little bit on the gluten and sugar over Thanksgiving and Christmas. And I’ve recently cheated a LOT on the sugar with GF Girl Scout cookies. Nevertheless, I have lost 10 pounds and have no joint pain, and I feel the best I have felt in a decade. It is so worth it! I only wish I had done it sooner! I wouldn’t have spent so much time feeling bloated and miserable (and being at least 10 pounds overweight).

As for SC1 — I really think going GF will help her inflammation which will hopefully help with her allergies and possibly some other issues. So, I am slowly switching our family over to GF. Fortunately, she likes GF pasta and “Caulipower” brand pizza. The girls both like hemp seed, sugar free granola in yogurt for breakfast, as well as hemp seed, sugar free breakfast porridge I’ve been making. (See cookbook link, infra.) Meanwhile, SC2 and I have been having a blast together in the kitchen making recipes from said cookbook, which I cannot recommend enough! (Thanks also to my friend who recommended it to me.) It seems daunting, but it’s an adventure. A fun adventure in the kitchen! 🙂

I am grateful for my new mind set. I am grateful for all my friends who provided inspiration along the way to get here. And I am grateful for the slow but steady changes our new diets are making in our lives.

P.S. As someone who suffered severe preeclampsia in both pregnancies, I wonder if any research or studies have been done regarding the connection between gluten intolerance (inflammation) and preeclampsia. I have had bloating my whole life (I was always jealous of my college boyfriend who could eat a big bowl of pasta and still have a flat stomach) and I wonder if my internal inflammation caused or contributed to the horrific gestational swelling I experienced. Just a thought.

Econ-Mom: This sounds like a lot of work, but if you are feeling better then I’m sure it’s worth it! I’ve heard many people say they have more energy on a low- or no-gluten diet, which would definitely be a good thing!! (However, I also have more energy if I don’t have to cook 24/7!) I know that a lot of people in the autism community swear by GFCF diets, so I briefly considered trying it out but basically decided to pick my battles. I think it makes the most sense when kids (or adults!) show any signs of GI issues, e.g. constipation, etc. Anyway, congrats on making this big switch, and I hope you keep enjoying the kitchen adventures!

Law-Mom: I fully get you on having more energy if you don’t have to cook 24/7. Lol!! But we pretty much just eat at home, anyway, with SC1’s allergies. So, while the switch has been semi-challenging, it has not been as challenging as it would be if I still commuted and still had young kids–as you do!

Kids and Food

How children eat and/or should be fed is a hot button issue for me because of the many challenging experiences I have had feeding my own children. Econ-Mom’s recent Facebook post was triggering for me, so now I have to write about it. And if you missed it, here was the post:

I guess the internet already responded pretty well to this tweet, but here are my favorite responses:

Ketchup was definitely a food group for SC2. Hysterical. Favorite moments: SC2 dipping chocolate Easter eggs in ketchup and drinking ketchup out of a straw.

Truth.

SC2 was also like this. She was my “good eater” as a baby and then turned into the ketchup-eater later in life. Now, she loves to cook, but she still won’t eat half her creations. Fascinating.

Yes, parenting for me has come with a very heavy dose of humility. I was definitely in the “I will never” parenting camp. Before I had kids, I never ate at McDonalds. I had watched the movies and read the books about how horrible all that food is for you, etc….I was educated, people. I KNEW!

Then, I had SC1. By the time she was one year old, we knew she was allergic to eggs, sesame, tree nuts, peanuts and shellfish. (So, don’t give me any of that stuff about making sure you give your kids food early enough.) Thereafter, we found out she was allergic to sunflower and green peas. (She had an anaphylatic reaction to homemade split pea soup when she was 15 months old.)

When she was 4 months old, I started out by making all her organic, pureed baby food. She wouldn’t eat it. Guess what she would eat? The jarred GMO crap.

You really cannot force a child to eat food (and if you do, you’re going to be in for some serious therapy down the road). But empty bellies lead to long sleepless nights. And I can promise you that after you’ve already been through the long sleepless nights of infancy, once they are eating solid food you will do anything – ANYTHING – to get five hours of chopped up sleep. Especially if you are now breastfeeding another infant.

So, sure, you can never order off the kids menu and force them to eat whatever you put on their plate. But you may not sleep. (As I child, I ate everything, and I remember ordering chicken kiev at restaurants when I was like five or six. If you get a kid like me: 1)You are lucky. 2) You had nothing to with it. 3) Do not give yourself credit for being an amazing parent.)

When SC1 was a toddler/preschooler, she had a harder-than-usual time separating, and my mom was a preschool teacher about 30 minutes from our house. Because I knew that SC1 would be happy near her grandmother, we opted to attend that preschool in her early years rather than one closer to our house. I’m not saying this was a mistake, but in retrospect I think I might have done things differently. Here’s why:

A thirty minute drive doesn’t sound like a very long car ride to an adult. But to an inarticulate 2/3-year old who is prone to fits, it is. Driving to and from preschool two or three days a week became its own special form of torture. And, since school also would end right around lunch time, and SC2 would fall asleep in the car during that time, guess what I resorted to?

That’s right! Drive-through McDonald’s! Wooohoooo!! McDonald’s proved to be safe for all of SC1’s allergies. So, between the allergy factor, and the baby-sleeping-in-the-car factor, McDonald’s became our go-to lunch on those days driving to and from preschool.

I wasn’t proud of it. In fact, it made me cringe. I often told people that if there were other *safe* drive-throughs, I would have by all means chosen those over McDonald’s. But find me a safe drive-through restaurant when your kid is allergic to sesame, sunflower, and green pea!

Last story: When SC1 was about 4 or 5, she was attending gymnastics. After gymnastics was over, she very loudly said to me so everyone in the vicinity could hear: “Mom, can we go to McDonald’s?” My face flushed, while another mom and her daughter looked at each other like: “What poor, pitiful souls, eating that unhealthy, fattening, barely edible food.” And then the other mother said to her daughter, in a knowing, superior voice: “That’s right, honey. WE don’t eat at McDonald’s.”

I’m probably explaining all this to you now because I so badly wanted to explain to that woman why my kid was familiar with McDonald’s and wanted to go there. However, I think it also highlights a very important point and aspect of parenting: It’s unpredictability. Sometimes that unpredictability takes you to places–physically, mentally, and emotionally–that you’ve never been to before. And that might include ordering off the kids menu or taking your kids to McDonald’s. (The horror!)

Econ-Mom: Sorry for bringing up all those emotions with that post–honestly it is a bit triggering for me, too. Of course, I’m not dealing with allergies, but we ended up at McDonald’s sometimes in Seattle just because it’s a place (nay, THE ONLY PLACE) we could eat without me having to cook and without any expectation that my children sit quietly and draw. TONS of people in Seattle don’t go to McDonald’s….Obviously, they’re health conscious and there are many vegetarians/vegans, so I get it. Just don’t judge those of us who do go! And yes, Law-Mom, I’m 100% with you that if they made a healthy/vegetarian/etc. option that had a drive-through and/or play place, I would be there ALL THE TIME. Why isn’t someone doing this?!??! I legit sometimes consider quitting my job and starting a gofundme (or kickstarter?) to make this happen.

Law-Mom: Word. Why don’t we do this? Why doesn’t anyone??? It just seems like such an obviously needed market.

Day 43: Health Journey Status Update

Hello, MOE Readers. I found the time on my lunch break the other day to write this. It was an overcast day, and I chose to skip my daily walk because I have turned into a Weather Wimp. And no, I have not actually kept track of the number of days since I decided to cut sugar and gluten out of my diet. I just Googled how many days have passed since I first posted about my decision. 🙂

Progress: I have lost 6 pounds, and my pain continues to remain minimal. I have been doing 10-15 minutes of yoga 2-3 times per week, and walking 30-60 minutes almost every day. I saw my new doctor last month, and he thinks I may have an under-performing thyroid. (Interesting.) I still need to get the blood work done since my appointment; but once I do, I should get some answers. I’ll keep you posted.

Those of you who keep up on our Facebook page (and if you don’t, please consider liking the page) may have seen my more regular updates since Day 1 and know that, save for one minor slip-up, I did stick to the no (low) sugar and no gluten for the three weeks before my doctor appointment. Since then, I have cheated a few times here and there — particularly the week of Thanksgiving — but for the most part, I have been keeping at it. (Okay, I may have binged on some Halloween candy one night when I was PMS’ing.) However, the continued results keep me motivated. And for the most part, I don’t even miss pasta or pizza. 🙂

What I’ve been eating to avoid sugar and gluten: I think the key to my success is that I have been eating less almost effortlessly because most of what I eat is high in protein or fat and keeps me full. I eat a lot of nuts, fruit, and low or no sugar yogurt for breakfast and lunch. I am now obsessed with dates. They are nature’s candy. And, I’ve been practically living on curry carrot soup for the past few weeks. I’ll have a bowl or two at lunch and a bowl or two with dinner. This is a great base that you can play around with. I’ve discovered you can add practically anything to it, including canned pumpkin, corn, and/or roasted peppers.

I got this recipe from a friend, but I have tweaked it in enough ways now that I think I can call it my own.

Curry Carrot Soup:

3 tablespoons coconut oil (olive oil works, too)

6 cups veggie stock or bone broth or a combo thereof  (I usually use up whatever is open, and then do the remainder of the other)

8 medium/large carrots chopped (or 8 handfuls of baby carrots)

4 medium celery sticks (if you are out, fear not; it will still turn out well) chopped

1 medium onion, chopped

3 teaspoons curry powder

3 teaspoons salt

lemon or lime juice, to taste

black pepper, to taste

You could sautee the onions in the oil first, but it is not necessary. Except for the lemon/lime juice and pepper, bring all the ingredients to a boil and let simmer until the carrots are totally soft. (I usually just leave it simmering for a couple hours). Use an immersion blender to blend it until smooth and then add your lemon or lime juice and pepper to taste.

Enjoy a healthy, low-fat, no sugar, gluten free meal all week long! (And, this is fairly obvious, but if you are vegetarian or vegan, you can make it so by just using the veggie broth.)  I have been adding bone broth to everything I can these days for the collagen.

Cheers! And happy holidays!