Wednesday, November 26, 2014

MTHFR and salicylate sensitivity

A few months ago our whole family (minus the toddler) got tested for MTHFR mutations. Before that, I had never heard of MTHFR and knew nothing about how genetic polymorphism could affect our health. It has turned out to be absolutely crucial to understanding Ellie's health and her struggle with food sensitivities.

Initially we did the test for Ellie and myself. I tested positive for one mutation, and she tested positive for the other. Later, we tested my husband and he was positive for Ellie's, which means he passed it on to her. Now I know who to blame ;)

My mutation is quite minor, but hers can be more serious. The testing results showed that her enzymatic activity is only 60% of a normal person. What does that all mean? It took me a lot of reading and absorbing to sort out not just the basic science of it, but also, what this means specifically for Ellie.

Friday, July 18, 2014

My imperfect love

Six months ago - when Ellie was four and a half - I decided to make her a doll for her fifth birthday. I didn’t know how to sew and I had certainly never made a doll before. But turning five felt like such a big milestone and I wanted to give her something really special.

I started researching doll making and looking at patterns online and even emailed a total stranger who had blogged about making her daughter a doll. I quickly realized not knowing how to sew a stitch was going to be an impediment, so I sought out a teacher who specialized in making Waldorf dolls.

During my first lesson I felt silly as I struggled to thread the needle and tie a knot. I really should have taken home economics, instead of skipping it to be the yearbook editor, I thought. I thought by this age I would be the editor of a newspaper, not sewing dolls. Funny the paths our children lead us down.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

If you are a nursing mama with Hashimoto's - don't drink this tea

I am transitioning off the Autoimmune Protocol. It was an amazing and very healing experience. I saw all of my Hashimoto's symptoms fall away and felt my energy return, my emotions stabilize and my resiliency improve. In an ideal world, maybe I would have stayed on the protocol longer, but as our summer started ramping up and we are spending more time away from the house, it became a serious stress to prep AIP-approved foods for outings.

The first time I ventured off the AIP I actually didn't mean to. I was stuck in some massive afternoon traffic and hadn't eaten for hours and was feeling my blood sugar start to crash. All I had in my bag was a container of almonds and suprisingly I felt totally fine after eating them. After that I gave myself a little leeway and have generally been feeling quite good. It's possible I've overdone it in the chocolate department, which always impacts my sleep quality and then my energy the next day.

I am not following the re-introduction of foods as recommended in The Paleo Approach because it makes me nervous to introduce egg yolks as the first food, since I know clearly that eggs are a problem for me. It's possible the yolks are fine - I just didn't want my first try to be a fail. So I've added back in limited nuts and chocolate and that alone makes the diet work for my needs at the moment. Some people are able to follow an 80/20 rule when doing the Paleo diet - meaning 80% of the food they eat is Paleo-approved and for 20% of the time they give themselves a little flexiblity to eat standard American food. Well I am taking the same approach for AIP - about 80% of the time or more I'm eating AIP-approved foods and 20% of the time I'm eating just Paleo food (like nuts). It's working for right now.

Anyway, all of that was a very long-winded lead up to what happened today.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Hashimoto's during the postpartum time, and tackling the Autoimmune Paleo Protocol

A few weeks ago it became apparent that I needed to make some big changes. Somewhere around 9 or 10 months after August's birth I started having a major Hashimoto's flare. I was exhausted. Bone-deep exhaustion that just wasn't explainable by having to get up and nurse a couple of times in the night. Foods that had felt fine a couple of months earlier were suddenly not fine at all.

Ian and I were discussing the book "Grain Brain," which makes the case that consuming grains (even "healthy" whole grains) can cause myriad problems like dementia, anxiety, depression and ADHD. I asked Ian if he thought I was depressed.

"Yes, of course you're depressed," he said.

"How long do you think I've been depressed for?" I asked.

"Since you got pregnant," he answered.

Sometimes it takes someone who has known you forever, who is walking the path with you, to see what's right in front of you. I needed to make a change, and I needed to make it yesterday.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Lemon Ice Cream (Paleo, Vegan, Sugar-Free)

I spent some time this morning making these lemon cups (amaaaazing!) and had the idea for some lemon ice cream. I Googled vegan lemon ice cream and all the recipes I found contained cornstarch, which wouldn't work since I've gone grain-free again. The recipes I found also used a lot more natural sweetener then I can tolerate. So I tweaked the recipes I found and came up with this one. It is SO good!

 I have no idea how to photograph food :)

  • Zest and juice of two lemons
  • Two cans full-fat coconut milk (I use Native Forest - the cans are BPA-free)
  • 1/3 cup maple syrup
  • 1/4 tsp. vanilla stevia
  • 1/2 tsp. guar gum
The guar gum makes the ice cream creamy. I got this idea from Kelly Brozyna's cookbook Dairy Free Ice Cream, which is wonderful. Her lemon-lime ice cream called for homemade dairy-free yogurt, which I didn't have, so I had to improvise.

Blend in a blender and pour into an ice cream maker. Run until ice cream is frozen and transfer to freezer (or eat right away!)

So yummy.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Allergy-friendly Easter basket

I always struggle with how to handle food during the holidays. It wasn't until I had Ellie and we struggled so much with food intolerances and allergies that I realized how holidays really revolve around food. Like if you subtracted food, there's really no scaffolding to hold up a holiday.

When you don't eat gluten, dairy, sugar, or eggs holidays get tricky.  When you add in a salicylate sensitivity and Oral Allergy Syndrome, things get darn near impossible.

Over the years I feel like I've found a good balance of choosing one big food to highlight and celebrate, and then really focusing on the non-food aspects of the holiday, like family, tradition, connection, stories, faith, etc. At Thanksgiving Ellie and I made two pies together. At Christmastime we made cut-out cookies.

When Ellie was younger I could get away with skipping the food entirely. We've had treat-free Easters for several years in a row and it was no problem - Ellie didn't know any different and had lots of fun with her Easter baskets filled with new toys and books. But Ellie is almost five (what?!?) and is much more aware these days of how things work in the world and I knew she would be delighted to find some treats in her Easter basket this year.

And so that question comes up every year: what to put in the Easter basket? When I grew up I ate so. much. candy. on Easter. Obscene. Chocolate bunnies. Chocolate eggs. Those chocolate malt ball thingies. So much sugar. Whatever else came in the basket was secondary to the chocolate.

I wanted to echo those experiences - fun chocolate in Easter-y shapes, but avoid the sugar, the dairy and the chocolate itself, because chocolate is high in salicylates. I lucked upon a fantastic recipe for white chocolates on the Whole Life Nutrition blog (this site and their cookbooks are such great resources). Then I lucked upon these adorable chocolate molds on Amazon. Here's how they turned out:

Ellie was so delighted to find a bowlful of chocolates in her Easter basket in the morning. It was so worth the work of making them (at the 11th hour the night before, of course). And I was especially glad we made them when we were at an Easter brunch later in the day and Ellie couldn't eat the candy hidden in the eggs at the Easter egg hunt, but she could eat the candies I had brought along.

The rest of Ellie's Easter basket was a sweet collection of springtime finds I just have to share because they have been loved so much:

The Story of the Root Children by Sibylle Von Olfers 
Spring by Gerda Muller 
Little Butterflies Stained Glass Coloring Book

I also have started needle felting, so I made Ellie this sweet bunny egg:

It was so great to make an Easter basket that felt like a celebration and a special treat. I want to create warm memories for her and for holidays to feel like they are bursting full with love and happiness, not times where our dietary differences stand out more than anything else.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Our homeschooling life

I've never written about the fact that we've chosen to be a homeschooling family here because it didn't seem particularly relevant to the focus of the blog, which is about our journey with food and allergies. But I had the opportunity to write about homeschooling for a blog being organized by my awesome homeschooling group here in Portland. I thought it would be fun to share a link.

Ellie has taken me on all kinds of unexpected journeys since she was born. Homeschooling is just the latest example of that :)

Check it out here:

Our morning walk