Once upon a time, my middle child was diagnosed with food sensitivities (not true allergies, mind you. . . the allergist told me it was all in my head) and a few short months later, she was diagnosed with Celiac. This started a wave of change in our diet. The first things we removed (pre-Celiac diagnosis) was artificial ingredients of all kinds. We noticed that this darling middle child reacted especially to red and yellow food colorants and preservatives. Thus began our journey into a “natural” diet.
For a few months, we plugged along reading labels and avoiding all artificial ingredients. We still ate boxed foods (“natural” pasta mixes and snack bars). We opted for organic as often as possible, but still ate organic junk food. I started reading Nourishing Traditions and learned to make kefir and started baking our whole wheat bread.
Then came the Celiac diagnosis. . . and our diet evolved again. Now, I looked for alternatives to the familiar wheat based foods. We tried every gluten free bread under the sun (both home made and store bought. I started baking a plethora of gluten free treats. We bought gluten free frozen waffles, snack bars, donuts, whatever we could find that would make our darling middle daughter feel “normal” in her transition away from gluten.
I read some more. . . and a lot more. . . I learned about Paleo, SCD, and GAPs but rejected them because of the exclusion of complete food groups. I moved toward a more natural and organic diet and away from all processed foods. We continued to learn about nourishing traditional food preparation. We got chickens. I searched for raw milk and grassfed beef, but never stuck to it. I learned to culture sourdough and made bread for our non gluten free family members. I started using almond and coconut flours to supplement the standard gluten free flours. I dreamed of an Excalibur dehydrator and a yogurt maker.
I got divorced. Among other things, my husband was not open to my “crazy ideas” about nutrition and lifestyle. He decided we were too much work and kicked us out. Life went on despite my feeling like the world had stopped spinning.
Eventually all three of my darling biological daughters had a Celiac diagnosis as did I (stress of divorce does wonders for setting off the condition), and we learned that I am a double gene carrier of the condition (so surprise surprise that all three of my girls developed the disease).
I married a wonderful man who loves my children as his own and is accepting of my “crazy ideas” and is considerate and helpful of our dietary restrictions. Our new combined family included 10 people under one roof. . . Myself and my three biological daughters, DH and his two biological sons, my teen sister (fka TeenGirl), and DH’s parents (?!?!). My teen sister knows how we roll with food, she’s used to it since she has lived with me for many years. DH’s parents were less than supportive (and even downright unkind) about the seriousness of this disease called Celiac. Thankfully, seeing my oldest daughter get sicker and sicker in our first couple months living together and then seeing her health improve once she was GF has helped, but there is still a lot of contamination concerns in our household. We created a single “gluten” counter for those who “need” to eat bread and other gluten grains. We have separate pans for preparing my families food and the in laws meals. These things have helped. For a while, I was still buying the healthiest whole grain breads I could find for DH and the boys and they were consuming toast at breakfast as well as sandwiches for lunch (the USDA would be proud of their whole grain consumption). We had lots of gluten free pasta (non gmo corn based) and brown rice dishes for dinner. Our meats were the highest quality we could get, our produce was organic, at least half our eggs were free range and local, our dairy was full fat, hormone free and non homogenized whenever I could get it. I continued to make kefir (smoothies, yum!) and started brewing kombucha. . . But we were still far from healthy.
Over the last year, I’ve played with the concept of going GAPs (at least for a year or two). Our oldest son as major mood disorders requiring daily medication and ongoing therapy. Our middle daughter still deals with anger issues. Our youngest daughter is a walking tornado and a very difficult child to say the least. GAPs seemed too restrictive. I couldn’t (and still can’t) imagine our oldest son adhering to the GAPs regimen. If he had his way, he would eat only fruit, toast, & cereal with a bit of meat tossed in.
After reading up on the Paleo Parents and getting their book, Eat Like a Dinosaur, I was convinced that grain free would be a good option for us. Since then, I’ve read a ton more on the Paleo/Evolutionary lifestyle and feel that it fits pretty well with what I know works best for our bodies. I don’t buy into the theory of evolution (humans did not evolve from apes, if we did, why are apes not still evolving? It makes zero sense. The theory of evolution is a continuum so if it were true, we’d still see evolution occurring). I do believe that we evolve and adapt to our environment over time. I also believe that all the modifications that are happening in food production (or should we say, food science?) cannot possibly be promoting optimal health for any human. So, other than the ape becoming human thing, I truly do believe that getting back to nature for our food is the best way to achieve optimum health.
I also believe in physical activity for good health. Humans were not created for the sedentary lifestyle so many enjoy today. We live in a food plentiful culture coupled with lack of physical activity and we are getting FAT. It makes sense to me that we would gain fat stores to use during lean times in early days of hunting and gathering for our food. Today, we have no use for those fat stores so they hang around and we add more fat stores with our Standard American Diet (SAD).
I will NEVER (and yes, I will emphasize, NEVER) be a muscle girl. . . you won’t ever find me in a fitness competition. I believe that women are meant to be a bit on the soft side in order to be fertile and nourish our young. I don’t believe for one minute that women had six pack abs and a single digit fat percentage EVER or our kind would have died out a long time ago. I do participate in a full circuit of resistance training four times each week and I move about 15,000 steps each day (the pedometer tells me so). I know that movement and strength is important to my overall health, but I’m not extreme. I like my curves and will be keeping them, thank you very much.
The children are adapting well to our grain free life. I bake them bread, muffins, crackers, and even cookies sometimes with almond or coconut flours and plenty of healthy fats (I have a couple of skinny kids!). No one is looking worse for the diet changes. . . my oldest daughter (and most recent Celiac dx) gained weight (like her Mama) when Celiac reared its ugly head. . . her tummy has remained bloated even with a gluten free diet. Since going grain free we are noticing a big difference and many of her clothes are getting too big (mind you, she was never obese, just bloated and a bit puffy from gluten)! Our thin children are healthy and lean. My skin is WONDERFUL. . . no mid cycle or end of cycle break outs. I’ve also noticed a difference in body odor. . . as in, I could shower every couple of days if I wanted to (I’m still stuck in the mind set of frequent showers, they relax me).
Gone are the days of gluten free pasta and bread. . . we are eating lots of meat (grassfed and I’m on the wait list for a half cow!), tons of organic veggies (the kids are eating plenty of fruit as well), we are enjoying nuts and unsweetened coconut. I bake with coconut and almond flours, real butter, coconut oil, dates, honey, coconut milk, and 73% Dagoba dark chocolate. We feel better. . . if I make the choice to have something with refined sugar or gf grains in it I feel pretty crummy the next day (carb hangover), so that’s telling me my body really doesn’t like this kind of “food”. Who knows, maybe these changes will help us get pregnant.