Thursday, April 26, 2012
Our Food Journey - part 3
Our precious son Joel Peter was born in 2007. For the most part he was an easy baby. He did suffer from mild acid reflux which caused him some problems. Not knowing any better, or what else to do, I got him on medication for it. Then right before his first birthday the real problems began. Joel got his first major cold and with it came a lot of wheezing. As the year progressed so did his health problems. He got a terrible ear infection in the spring that we simply could not get rid of. Again, not really knowing any better, I took the doctor's advice and put him on antibiotics. But they didn't work. He was sick for over two months with almost no break. Over the span of that year I think he was on antibiotics a total of 8 times! I was at my wits end, not knowing what to do or how to help my little guy. So many nights I would be on the floor of his room, after attending to him crying in pain from an ear infection, praying and crying out to God for wisdom for our situation.
Well, God provided the wisdom I was crying out for. I had a good friend who recommended looking into food sensitivities. She had a son with similar issues that were caused by a sensitivity to dairy. I took out dairy out of his diet, somewhat, but it didn't help. (I have learned since that it can take a couple months of complete elimination before getting something completely out of your system). Finally we went to a naturopath and had him tested for food sensitivities (different than allergies). He tested as EXTREMELY sensitive to all dairy, most gluten, and all citrus. WOW!
Thankfully I was already familiar with eating dairy free. I had also dabbled in the gluten-free world, so it wasn't too daunting to take that out of our diet. The citrus was actually the hardest to remove because citric acid or lemon juice is in a lot of food! But we figured it out and got in a new groove. Joel has only had one ear infection since (it's been three years), and it was actually after letting him have some onion rings which had a wheat batter. As you can see from the picture above, before we changed his diet, Joel had big puffy bags under his eyes. I never noticed that he looked sick until afterwards. Here is a picture of him the following year (about two months after changing his diet) and also one of what he looks like now. Big difference!
Going gluten, dairy and citrus free was actually quite a blessing in disguise. It has meant many challenges for our family, yet as a result I have been introduced to the big wide world of foods. There are so many different delicious foods to eat! But I also quickly learned that gluten and dairy free eating DOES NOT mean healthy eating. Many store bought prepared foods, and recipes, still use white starches and grains, and many use a lot of sugar to make up for what is lacking with the other ingredients. Maybe a year or so into our new diet I began to try to take out all refined sugars which required me making most of our foods from scratch. This brought me back to the Maker's Diet, only this time I made a bigger leap in sticking to the guidelines of the diet. I turned to the cookbook Nourishing Traditions for help. Raw vegan cuisine also caught my attention because it is a dairy and gluten free way of eating and I began trying some recipes in that genre. Our goal was to eat whole foods that had been properly prepared and to get out anything that was "processed". Last year we enjoyed our healthiest year yet!
We still are very much so on a journey. Last fall for example, with the birth of our fourth child, was challenging for several reasons and I was very limited in time. As a result I wasn't able to make many of the foods I had been cooking nor put the same effort into our nutrition in general. While I wouldn't say we were eating poorly, we felt the effects of it for sure. However, this is a journey. I have learned that we do the best we can given whatever stage we are at,and that has to be good enough. I have come to love health and nutrition though and am passionately pursuing research and implementation of what I learn to whatever extent I am able. This blog documents our journey and the many hours of thought and research that have gone into where we are at and where we are going.
For those of you who are curious or interested, I will be posting in the next few days what we currently eat for meals and snacks in our home...