Monday, April 23, 2012

A Preview

We are on the verge of some changes around here, changes which I anticipate will be challenging but will hopefully result in the improved health and well-being of our whole family. 
 It is becoming more and more evident to me that my family doesn't digest grains well, and I find this both limiting and challenging my cooking skills.  I feel a lot of gratitude for the timeline of events which has led to the gradual eradication of grains from my pantry, because too much change all at once is overwhelming.  I'm also grateful that we met success early on, completely healing first Jack's skin and now his chronic migraines by removing wheat from his diet.  I know this stuff works.  I believe that what we put in our bodies matters, that it is not magically and invisibly transformed into our skin, our hair, our blood pressure, our energy levels.  I have experienced first-hand that changing your food can change your life, and so it is with a lot of optimism and a healthy dose of determination that we embark on the next phase of what my friend Josh calls a 'crazy hippie diet.'
Josh was my best friend growing up.  We were both eleven years old when his family moved into the house next door, and we saw each other almost every day.  He would come home from school and play basketball in his backyard, and as soon as I heard the familiar thud-and-swish of his playing I would drape myself over the back fence and we'd talk.  One of our fantasies was to become millionaires by inventing something genius, something that would revolutionize the way an ordinary task was done because then everyone would want it.  Our plan was to get rich and then move to Polynesia, where we imagined we could be free of the stresses of school and parents and adolescence.

In high school, Josh was diagnosed with Crohn's disease.  At first, his doctors tried to manage his disease through medication and for a number of years it kind of worked, but more recently Josh and his wife have changed the way they eat in order to heal Josh's body from the inside.  As fate would have it, Josh's style of eating overlaps with a lot of the changes I've already begun implementing.  Through the blogging world I was introduced to Roost, and was affirmed in my belief that healthy, healing eating doesn't have to feel like restricted eating. 

Now I'm going to take things a bit further, as Jack and I are about to embark on an elimination diet.  Jack suffers from periodic tummy trouble, and I've recently begun to suspect that he has Cyclic Vomiting Syndrome.  I feel kind of devastated by this possibility, as we've only recently experienced what life can be like without five migraines a week; however, I also feel quietly determined.  The last time my first-born suffered debilitating symptoms, the remedy was in my kitchen.  I feel hopeful about trying again, making more changes, finding some answers. 

Over the next few weeks, Jack and I will be eliminating all grains, dairy, eggs, yeast, citrus, corn, soy, caffeine, and alcohol(more me than Jack) from what we eat.  After two weeks of eliminating those foods, we will then re-introduce one food at a time in large doses(three servings a day for three days in a row) in the hopes that there will be some kind of reaction.  I say that I'm hopeful for a reaction because that would give me a way to control Jack's discomfort through food, which is my favorite way to fix everything.  More importantly, it would give me a way to control Jack's discomfort, period.  The last time I tried working with doctors about his migraines, the discussion involved putting Jack on anti-depressants.  Not satisfied with that 'solution,' I turned to food and chiropractic care with great success.

While healing my own child is incentive enough, I couldn't help but remember my thirteen year-old ambitions to come up with a genius invention that would make me and Josh rich and famous.  My ambitions are a little different now, fame and fortune having been replaced by the desire to feed the ones I love well.  I bought a blank recipe book and will be taking careful notes about everything Jack and I eat, and my hope is that this little experiment will evolve into something that might benefit people beyond my own kitchen table.  I know how daunting it feels to consider making radical changes in the way we eat, and I remember feeling that for all of my experience, suddenly I no longer knew how to cook.  I know now that there is a way through that, and that there are two ways to see this: I can see it as something being taken away from me, or I can see it as an opportunity to get to know food in ways I have not yet imagined.  I know there will be times when it will feel like both.

Jack and I are both in the thick of nasty colds, so we won't be starting just yet.  I'm thinking the first of May seems like an appropriate day, and in the meantime I'm collecting ideas and testing new ingredients.  Those waffles up there?  Grain-free.  They do, however, contain eggs and there is quite obviously whipped cream on top, but I'm already coming up with ways around that.  I've been sneaking more honey and less sugar into the boys' meals to acclimate their taste buds, and so far it's going well.  Poor Jack is motivated to try anything if it will give him some relief.  I'll write more on the science behind the changes we're making, but right now my head is so full of congested nastiness that a discussion on monosaccharides vs. polysaccharides seems totally incomprehensible.  I just wanted to write an introduction of sorts by way of a preview of things to come, and also to get back into the habit of blogging which I hope will provide both accountability and community. 

Stay tuned.