Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Toddler-approved egg-free, nut-free GAPS pancakes

We are currently out of duck eggs so for breakfast this morning I had to rely on the tricks I developed in our egg-free days. I whipped up these pancakes, which were a huge hit with Ellie. I genuinely enjoyed them too!

A recipe like this is great because not only is it egg-free and nut-free, it's also dairy-free, sugar-free and a great way to sneak liver into your little one's diet. This could be made with a lot of different vegetables, like pureed butternut squash or cauliflower.  When I bring these over to Ellie's highchair she shouts: "Pancakes!"

Monday, May 30, 2011

Doing what it takes to stay sane

Day 40

Since having a major crisis of confidence in GAPS, I've really relaxed my attempt to do GAPS Intro as close to the letter as possible. I found that I just had to let go in order to keep my sanity.

Yesterday we included a chopped tomato in a soup and introduced avocado. We also ate chicken livers for the first time. Three new things in one day - I would have considered that reckless a couple of weeks ago. The avocado was absolutely delicious - creamy and fresh tasting - mmmm. Aside from a reflux wakeup at 9:30 p.m., Ellie slept through the night til 5:30. This is remarkable because last time Ellie ate avocado she was up for hours in the night screaming with an ouchie tummy. Today she had a fairly bad face rash, so the jury's out on whether the additions were a very good idea. I don't really care, though. Honestly I feel like if something isn't causing an allergic reaction, we're going to keep it in the diet. I'm so tired of how restricted our diet has been.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Contemplating our way forward

Day 38

It's been a roller coaster ride lately. On Wednesday - optimistic from our recent addition of fish - I fed Ellie green beans and roasted duck (both new additions). She was up in the night with terrible reflux and I felt so discouraged. Then, on Thursday, we had a playdate and I spontaneously decided to feed Ellie (and me) 1/2 a banana with nut butter. I didn't have any food prepared and the kids had brought snacks and I just couldn't bear to let her watch them eat their granola bars and raisins with nothing to eat herself. And - surprisingly - nothing horrible happened. Feeling incredibly restless by dinner that night we decided to make something with red peppers and spices - also new additions - and Ellie did absolutely fine. Yesterday we tried scrambled duck eggs and again they made us both sick. Adding on to all of this - we have been introducing commercial probiotics and S. Boulardii and Ellie has shown zero signs of die off.

All of these things put together have raised some serious questions about the GAPS diet. First it's important to say that I have no doubt that going through Intro has been a helpful and healing experience for us. There's no doubt that GAPS has a lot to offer. But.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Trying to find a doctor who gets it

Day 35

First the good news: fish is totally OK! Yippee! We had trout again for breakfast this morning and it was delicious.

On to other things...

I've been putting a lot of time and effort over the past couple weeks to find a doctor (Western or naturopathic) who can help guide us through this process. To say it's been a frustrating experience would be a major understatement.

First, I contacted Ellie's pediatrician and told her I was interested in seeing a developmental pediatrician at the same practice. I explained that since developmental peds work with autism - and GAPS is used to treat autism - I thought that would be my best chance of finding a doc who understood GAPS and was covered by our insurance. What a waste of time. Our pediatrician questioned me about Ellie's development. I told her it was fine. She checked with the developmental ped - who had never heard of GAPS and said seeing that specialist didn't make sense.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Fish is in! (I think)

Day 34

Despite the fact that Ellie didn’t have a great night last night, this morning I felt ready to forge ahead. When I opened the fridge this morning to contemplate breakfast options, our neighbor’s trout peered out at me from inside the clear meat drawer. Alright, I thought. Let’s give you guys a try. I rinsed of the six small fish and lined them up on a foil-lined cookie sheet. I let Ellie take a look (she was very intrigued!) and put them under the broiler for 5 minutes on each side.

I served the fish alongside pureed cauliflower soup with raw egg yolk and man we were both excited! Fish! I never knew I could feel so grateful for fish! I carefully pulled the meat away from the tiny bones and plopped bites on Ellie’s highchair tray. I could not keep up with her! And every time I feel behind she pleaded, “more fish!” I know that when you’re trialing a new food you’re supposed to start with a small amount, but for some reason Ellie and I struggle with that rule. So between the two of us we ate two entire (small) fish. Ooops. 

Monday, May 23, 2011

Pondering fish

Day 33

Even though Stage 2 includes fermented fish, we skipped that step. Ellie has gotten sick after eating fish the times she's tried it, though it was never a very controlled experiment because we didn't have her food allergies/sensitivities nailed down at all. So fish is scary. Add to that fermented fish, and I've been beyond intimidated. The idea of letting fish sit out on my counter for a few days really grosses me out.

Still, fish keeps popping up in my head. Every time Ian and I talk about what to trial next, I suggest fish. I suppose my body is craving a non-meat source of protein. We are definitely in a food rut. But we keep coming back to weighing the risks vs. advantages and decide fish is too risky right now.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Day 31: Looking back at the first month

Despite the fact that Ellie, Ian and I are all down and out with minor colds, I've been reflecting the past couple days over all we have gained over our first 31 days on GAPS Intro. Some changes worth noting:
  • Ellie and I haven't had a drop of honey or fruit for 31 days. After asking for bananas or apples daily for the first week or so, Ellie's stopped asking for fruit and my cravings for sweet things have also gone away. I no longer feel like I need something sweet every day to feel "normal." I've found my ability to distinguish real food from junk has become more accurate. At the grocery store yesterday, I had no desire whatsoever for Oreos or granola bars or other sweets, which looked a lot more like products and packaging than food. Yet at the checkout stand I saw a magazine cover photo of strawberry shortcake with glistening berries piled high with whipped cream and that sure did make my mouth water. 

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Day 29: An unlikely menace

Spinach. Go figure.

So two nights ago Ellie slept through the night. Yesterday I fed her some soup with well-cooked spinach pureed into it. The spinach gave me a terrible stomach ache, which was the second time that had happened for me. Then, this happened (from my food/symptoms journal):

Ellie wouldn't go to sleep at bedtime - needed extra patting and singing. Up crying at 10:30 - reflux - nursed and went back to sleep. Up again 15 minutes later crying - Ian held in rocking chair for 45 minutes then back to sleep in crib. Up again shortly after that - I went in and not very kindly told her to go to sleep. Slept til 5:20 - tummy hurt - nursed and back to sleep in crib. Up at 6:40 - nursed/slept in bed until 9:30. 

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Day 28: Slowly but surely

Last night Ellie slept through the night for the second time since going on Intro. Yay! She did wake up at 5:30 a.m., but that's really common for her to do the first night of sleeping through. If the trend continues, she gradually sleeps a little later each day. My response to this wonderful development is to not change anything.

I am on my second day of probiotics and S. Boulardii and doing fine besides increased tiredness. Maybe weariness is a better word. Ellie has seemed fine, except she's had a runny nose and lots of sneezing, which is unusual for her. No idea if that's related or not. If tonight goes well we may give Ellie a tiny bit tomorrow before her bedtime.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Days 26 & 27: A new game plan

The past few days I've been contemplating our GAPS journey thus far and looking for what's been working and what hasn't. I've come to terms with the fact that I need to let dairy go for now. After I ate goat yogurt two days in a row, Ellie was up for hours that third night with a tummy ache. So I'm letting it go. It's hard. Yogurt would be a great source of probiotics and calories for us, but it's not in the cards. I'm tabling all dairy for 3-4 weeks and then will try again, this time strictly following the protocol for starting whey on Intro, rather than jumping into eating amounts of yogurt that had been fine for us pre-Intro.

If I could go back and do things over again, I would not have trialed ghee. Ellie was showing a lot of progress just before that and we have still not recovered from the setback. It is a big lesson: be patient. Be OK with just hunkering down even in the middle of Intro for a little while if things are going well. I am feeling a lot more cautious with risky foods now. For example, one of the next things we should introduce is avocado and Ellie reacts to avocado (I think it is somehow related to her citrus allergy) so we're skipping it for now. 

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Day 25: Mysteries and theories

I think perhaps the most challenging part of this diet is that it is impossible to know what is going on 100% of the time (or 75% of the time, for that matter!). Is a symptom caused by die-off, meaning the bad bacteria are dying and healing is happening? Or is it a food reaction, meaning your body can't handle the food you just ate and you should back off of it for a while? Or is some other factor that you haven't even considered causing trouble? It's nearly impossible to know and I am struggling with embracing the not knowing. I was a newspaper reporter for a living so I thrive on finding answers and piecing together disparate information into a logical narrative. But this is simply not possible with GAPS - especially with the added complication of doing GAPS with a nursling. I need to work on embracing the not-knowing and find some peace.

Today I had two more attacks of the strange stomach pain I described in yesterday's post. The first was shortly after brunch and the second shortly after dinner. Both were much milder than yesterday's, but still unpleasant for sure. I have lots of theories bouncing around in my head - that I'm struggling tolerating eggs is one. I had soft-boiled eggs with brunch and a raw yolk with dinner. This theory doesn't totally resonate with me because I've been eating eggs for nearly two weeks now, mostly without these pains.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Days 23 & 24: Soup strike and sautes

Ellie has not eaten soup since she threw some up three nights ago. She's had a bite here and there, but is mostly refusing it. This is a problem. The majority of one's diet in the early stages of Intro is soups and stews and Ellie is just not eating it. Mama's in a bit of a panic.

At dinner tonight Ian asked Ellie why she wouldn't eat her soup and she answered, "eating soup feels ouchie." Oh great. Now I'm pondering whether she's created that association because that's what she threw up Wednesday night, or because that's the vehicle her probiotics are delivered in and those are upsetting her tummy or if perhaps she's made the connection that the liquidy soup will only painfully come back up as reflux overnight.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Day 22: The expert has spoken

Day 3 of our ghee trial went down like this:

  • Ellie woke up at 5:30 a.m. This was her M.O. during the bad old days and is always a bad sign. Just the other day she woke at 4:55 and let me nurse her and put her back down for another stretch of sleep, but today she was up. Not good. 
  • For breakfast I decided to have ghee myself but not give Ellie any and see how the day played out, thinking I’d likely give her some ghee after her nap. 
  • Over the course of the morning Ellie became obsessed with nursing. I’d guess she nursed close to a dozen times between waking up in the morning and going down for her nap. And she asked to nurse at least twice that many times. Frequent nursing and getting obsessed with nursing is always a sign of a food reaction for her. When she’s doing great she can go from her morning wake-up nursing session to her going down for nap session without needing anything in between. 
  • At lunch she hardly touched her food. This was a big warning sign for me because she has been eating enthusiastically ever since starting Intro.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Day 21 - Vindicated!

My suspicions were right! (I'm pretty sure!)

After Ellie suddenly did worse last night and I studied our food journal I came to the conclusion that beef had been causing her problems. This conclusion didn't make a ton of sense, since I had introduced ghee yesterday and it made much more sense to suspect the ghee. But my food journal and my mama's instinct told me to pull the beef. Whenever Ellie gets sick and there are several foods in question, I pull the food I'm most suspicious of out of her diet and keep everything else the same. This is critical. If you make any other variations it will be impossible to know what's what.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Days 17-20 - Eggs, beef and ghee

Our "staycation" is over already! It went by in a whirl. We didn't get around to doing much of anything. I think it was good for Ian to stay home and see how all-consuming this diet is right now and how needy Ellie is when she is not feeling well. (Not that he doesn't see that on weekends, but four days straight is another matter.) I'd calculate how many days straight I've been doing it but that would probably make my head hurt.

On Saturday we were indeed feeling bold and served up soft-boiled duck eggs with our breakfast soup. Ellie was very excited! Eggies! Having the egg white in addition to the raw yolk was much more satisfying and helped me stay fuller through the morning. That night Ellie slept through the night for the first time since starting Intro. Horray!!! Last time we trialed whole chicken eggs she was up with stomach cramps for hours. Since then she's just been doing great. I am so, SO happy to have eggs back. It's been 9 months since we've been able to eat eggs and it opens up so many possibilities, especially when we get further into the diet and can do some baking. Mmmm. Plus soon we'll be able to eat scrambled eggs, which are the world's best (nutritious) "I don't feel like cooking" food.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Day 16: Holding steady

Today was a largely uneventful day. Yay! I increased Ellie's sauerkraut from 3 drops per bowl to 4 with no ill effects. I was hit with an unexpected wave of die-off nausea late this afternoon, but she seems to be doing fine. I am wiped out from a really challenging week and am looking forward to a four-day "staycation" we are having starting now! I'm off to put on some jammies and watch a movie. Tomorrow (if we're feeling bold) we will trial soft-boiled eggs.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Day 15: Operation Kraut Drop is in effect

As I wrote yesterday, we are working under a new theory, which is that even 1/2 tsp. of sauerkraut juice was way too much for Ellie. So today I literally started dosing out sauerkraut juice with a dropper. It's kind of ridiculous. BUT! It also worked.

This morning I went to drop the kraut juice in Ellie soup and she refused to eat anymore soup! So that told me she too has made the connection that the juice is making her sick. So at lunch I had to be sneaky about it and got two drops on a spoonful without her looking and which she happily ate. At dinner I was really bold and put three drops on her food. Results? Her face rash (which I'm pretty sure is due to excessive detox) has completely cleared, she took a longer nap than usual and woke up from that nap crying, but not hysterical. Hey, I'll take progress in whatever form it wants to come in. Then tonight at bedtime she went down without a fuss. Over the past week she's been crying for at least 30 minutes each night at bedtime and tonight she did great.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Day 14: Another recovery day

Ellie had another bad night last night so we just took it easy today and focused on Stage 1 soups with raw egg yolks mixed in. I think I am having a really hard time figuring out the probiotic piece of things - both in terms of what types of probiotics Ellie can handle and how much.

After discovering the hard way that it was way too soon for yogurt, I focused exclusively on sauerkraut juice and since she's still been doing poorly I've been wondering if I'm even doing the kraut juice wrong. I had been giving Ellie 1 tsp. per bowl of soup. Today I backed off that dosing. I skipped kraut juice entirely at breakfast (for her) and she had a great morning. I was able to take her out for a stroller walk in this gorgeous spring weather and she did not protest being in the stroller once. Very unusual! At lunch I tried just 1/2 tsp. of kraut juice with her soup. Within 20 minutes the face rash that had been fading away all morning was back with a vengeance, she was incredibly fussy and complaining that her tummy hurt. Aha! So even 1/2 tsp. is too much.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Day 13: A recovery day

Ellie and I spent today recovering from whatever threw us off course the past couple of days. I strongly suspect the carrot juice, but really it's anybody's guess. My hope is that tonight will go well so we can go ahead and trial ghee tomorrow. Because I am deeply afraid of cow's milk at this point, I've made ghee out of goat milk butter, which is not going to be sustainable because that stuff is expensive!

If it really was the carrot juice, I feel like I have more to learn about candida. I have always had a suspicion that both of us or at least I have some candida issues because lots of sweet foods have been problems in the past, including SCD/GAPS legal foods like pear sauce and apple cider. Actually one of the reasons I was so happy to discover GAPS was I felt like the SCD community (hope I'm not hurting any feelings here!) could be overly focused on sweet foods and on using SCD ingredients to make Standard American Diet foods, thus not really learning a new way of eating. So as much as I've come to hate broth and soup, I'm also kind of loving it because we're learning a whole new way of eating.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Day 12: What a mess

Ellie and I were both a wreck again today. It's frustrating when it takes me days to figure out where something went wrong. I think in this case it's probably the carrot juice we introduced yesterday. I'm not sure if it was "too detoxifying" or if it was simply too much sugar too soon. But Ellie was a cranky, needy mess all day today - telling me her tummy hurt over and over - and is now refusing to go to sleep once again. (Ian took over baby duty - thank God for that.)

Last night bedtime took 2.5 hours and before I rip all my hair out and run away from home I have to remind myself that it used to be like that every single night of the week and that overall, things have been better than those bad old days lately. I lost my temper with Ellie this morning (yelling at a young child who is hurting makes me feel like a serious jerk) - which is an indication to me that the juice is a problem because of the sugar.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Day 11 - So, so confused

Today was a rollercoaster of a day. Ellie has been struggling with constipation since starting Intro so I decided to try introducing carrot juice this morning per Dr. Natasha's suggestion to start juice early when constipation is present. I had no idea a little bit of carrot juice was going to completely knock us on our asses. I knew that carrot juice was detoxifying, but jeesh!

I felt profoundly tired all day. The closest thing I can compare the feeling to is the tremendous physical exhaustion I felt during the first trimester of my pregnancy. Ellie experiences die-off differently. She gets super fussy and clingy and impossible to please. She wants to nurse constantly, which is always rough when I am feeling terrible too and all I want is to lay on the couch alone.