Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Success in San Diego

Our trip to San Diego was an unbelievable success! I was very apprehensive about taking a trip at all, let alone a trip where we'd be without a kitchen, but it went incredibly smoothly. Ellie woke up once a night to nurse, but didn't complain once of a tummy ache and didn't have any reflux or tummy cramping. She pooped three times on the trip and two of those were formed, which was hugely exciting (you poopologist mamas know what I'm talkin' about).

It's amazing how travel can change your perspective and help you see things in new ways. This is why I love traveling and perhaps a piece of why the past two years - where travel has been either impossible or miserable - have been so difficult for me. Shifting perspective helped me see our situation in a new way, helped me see Ellie in a new light and helped me approach our days differently.

Since going on SCD/GAPS my days have revolved around meals. As soon as I get breakfast made I'm thinking about what to do for lunch and then I get Ellie down for her nap and start worrying about dinner. It was an unhealthy setup and I didn't know how to get out of the rut. But having my kitchen taken away from me was a great gift. Meals had to be pared down to the simplest incarnation or they had to be eaten out, leaving me with entire days to spend with my family. Our days revolved around pool time or beach time or free time or play time. The first afternoon I gave Ellie her afternoon snack and found myself wondering what to do with myself. I usually use that time to do some dishes or chop some vegetables. It was actually challenging to sit still and just enjoy her company, but it got easier every day. And now that we're back home I'm trying to hang onto those lessons about being present and being flexible.

I find it a miracle that we did not run into trouble eating out - eating out has frequently caused problems for Ellie. The key to our success was 1) ordering extremely simple foods and 2) being extremely clear about what foods we especially couldn't have. I chose to focus on gluten, dairy and citrus to highlight to servers, rather than go into a whole speech about our situation, figuring those three were the most likely to sneak into dishes. We pretty much only ordered grilled chicken on salad (olive oil and vinegar on the side for dressing) or grilled fish with steamed veggies. Our best meals of the trip were dinner at Rhinoceros Cafe & Grille on Coronado Island and lunch at The Range on University Avenue (in case someone who finds this post someday is headed to San Diego). Our worst experience by far was - surprisingly - at the San Diego Zoo. We ordered lunch at two different cafes inside the zoo - being assured that the chicken we ordered was gluten-free only for it to arrive obviously breaded - before we had to leave the zoo early to go find food. It was a really unfortunate situation and especially frustrating because we paid $80 (!!!) to spend only about an hour at the zoo. I called the zoo after we got home to complain about the situation and they weren't very nice - double boo.

In case anyone is curious how to manage a limited diet with a toddler without a kitchen, here's a rough sketch of what I did:

Breakfast: green smoothie (I packed my blender) - cucumber, red leaf lettuce, avocado, cilantro, flax seeds, frozen blueberries

Morning snack: raw crackers (you can make your own, I bought my trip's worth from the People's Co-op here in Portland)

Lunch: simple salad of tomato, cucumber, avocado and canned salmon with apple cider vinegar for dressing

Afternoon snack: peeled green apple with nut butter

Dinner: out at a restaurant, we were limited to chicken or seafood and veggies

One thing I learned on this trip is that you can ask if your hotel offers fridges in the room. Our hotel didn't as a rule, but we informed them of our situation ahead of time and we got a mini fridge for "medical reasons". It was super helpful for keeping veggies and probiotics cool.

There have been many moments in the past two years where I've felt like the experience of mothering this amazing child was passing me by while I researched health conditions, mastered new diets, cooked countless meals and talked with numerous doctors. And so it was a revelation to spend five days solely focused on floating my daughter in the pool, watching her run into the waves with her dad, see her eyes light up at the sight of a real live gorilla, cracking up at her fledgling attempts to tell a joke and just sitting beside her with nowhere to go and no pressing problems to fix.


  1. That brought tears to my eyes. I am so happy for you! :)

  2. Annie, when Ellie gets a rash, what does it look like? How long before it goes away? Do you treat it with anything? J has been having a mysterious rash on her face for a while :( Thank you!

  3. Jana - Thanks!

    When Ellie gets a rash it looks like a bunch of teeny tiny red pimples. The skin overall doesn't change color, just the bumps are red. She usually gets it under her eyes and across the bridge of her nose or over her torso.

    She gets a rash with high saturated fat foods like ghee and coconut oil - our current theory is that the high fat clogs her liver and makes it difficult for her body to detox, so it tries to send stuff out through her skin. Also strawberries give her this same rash. Rashes are really hard to figure out and it's taken two years to figure out what her triggers are.

    I would say it usually takes about 48 hours to clear IF we can figure out the trigger food and eliminate it right away. Of course there have been times I had no clue what was causing it and the rash lasted for weeks. I never did treat her rashes with anything - they weren't itchy or bothersome to her.

    With the diet we're on now she's totally rash-free - yay!