Monday, February 27, 2012

What's for dinner?

I've been living in limbo this week as we await test results both for myself and Ellie which will help us determine what our next steps will be. After going back and forth about whether to test Ellie for fructose intolerance or small intestine bacteria overgrowth, we decided last week to test for SIBO since it can cause problems with fructose, along with other things Ellie is struggling with (tolerating any fermented foods, for example). And this week I will get news on a stool test and a food intolerance test. I'm not great at waiting, so I've been going a little crazy.

So over the weekend I turned my attention to taking some practical steps to make living with this diet a little easier. I find that I can work myself up every single day trying to figure out what to make for dinner. You would think when the main ingredient options were just meat and vegetables, it would be easy to keep things simple. But somehow that actually causes me to make things more complicated. I think because the ingredients are so simple, I feel compelled to keep our meals very varied so keep boredom at bay. But trying a new recipe every night is not practical, and I realized I needed to create some structure around dinnertime.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Cinnamon Allergy - AHA!

Ellie is allergic to cinnamon. I just figured this out. Here's how it happened.

During our coconut trial this winter Ellie was having a snack - pumpkin "cheesecake" - that she loved. Everytime she ate it, though, she got a red rash around her mouth. And if some cheesecake got on her cheek, a red rash would appear there too. This struck me as odd, and I started to wonder if it was a sign that coconut was not going well. When we pulled the coconut back out of her diet, and therefor pulled the cheesecake - I stopped noticing the rash.

That was until one morning when I gave her a breakfast "porridge" I make her sometimes. It's a mix of ground pumpkin seeds, walnuts, chia seeds, flax seeds, stevia and cinnamon that you pour hot water over and it turns into a yummy, goopy porridge. Well she was eating it and suddenly I noticed that same red rash on her face. How odd. So I compared the two recipes and looked for what they had in common. I decided stevia was the prime suspect, since I had recently read that people with fructose intolerance often can't have stevia and decided to pull that out of her diet.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Reflux explained

In the 2.5 years Ellie has struggled with reflux (among many other digestive symptoms) I've been uniquely perplexed by this symptom. Many nights I wonder - why reflux tonight, and not another night? What was different about today's food?

Western medicine has a very mixed-up understanding of reflux, believing it is caused by too much acidity in the stomach. This explains why we had Ellie on acid-reducing medication for months when she was younger. But it never did any good. And I've talked with lots of other parents with similar stories. I remember a good friend telling me about his little boy who had horrible reflux and was put on medication. "How's the medicine working?" the doctor asked a few weeks later. "Well," my friend cheerfully replied, "at least the vomit smells like bubble gum now!"

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Fructose intolerance

The other day I fed Ellie a banana.

We have been eating very limited fruits and when we do have them we primarily eat low-sugar choices like blueberries and apples. But there was a banana lying around the house and Ellie asked for it and I thought, “why not?”

She ate the whole thing up enthusiastically – along with some almond butter – while we were at the park and a warm feeling swelled inside me. I have been really struggling with feeling like Ellie’s diet is far more restricted than necessary right now, and I wanted to believe in my heart that the banana was going to be OK. We had our snack in the park and afterward I pushed Ellie in the swing and then we watched our dog Pepe run around the field. About 30 minutes later, suddenly, Ellie practically doubled over. She looked up at me and said, “Mama, I have a tummy ache.”

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Heading back to safe territory

Oh, if only I could learn a lesson in a day, or a week – life would be grand. But sometimes life has to unfold for months or years before I can look back and see the big picture and – if necessary – see where I lost my way.

Over the course of the past couple months we’ve moved away from GAPS and toward the Body Ecology Diet, meaning we added quinoa and buckwheat to the rotation. We also did a coconut trial that went down in flames. My family went through a lot of stress this winter and overall we’ve been on a downward slide since the fall. Ellie’s been complaining of stomachaches on a regular basis (which has frustratingly not been resolved by removing coconut, though she is much improved).

And the last straw was that this past week blood work showed that I am well on my way to being diagnosed with Hashimoto’s.