Saturday, August 29, 2009
This is how Ally used to sleep. For her first 2 years, she literally never slept without my hand on her body. That drifting off/waking screaming pattern literally lasted all night for several months before I finally eliminated dairy from her diet (she was around 20 months old). I was so tired from taking care of her in the middle of the night that I could barely function.
The brain is a wonderful thing, the way it protects us from prior unpleasantness. I had literally blanked out much of her sleeplessness until I saw it in her brother last night. I didn't recognize it for what it was right away, but when I looked at Walker this morning and saw his face, I knew immediately. I couldn't even call them allergic shiners--it was more like dark caverns running down his face. And a few hours later, he had diarrhea.
This is the rotation diet working: his overall allergic response has been toned down enough that we can see the things that are bothering him more clearly. It's how I identified Ally's problem with soy and citrus. Now the detective work begins. The major suspects from yesterday are chicken and corn. Corn is a common allergen and there is a history of meat allergies in Peter's family, so it could be either.
I'm praying that it's corn, because that's easy for us to cut out. We could live without chicken, too, though homemade chicken bone broth is a major source of bone-building minerals in our diet, which would make losing it a big issue in our dairy-free household.
Friday, August 28, 2009
I was so wiped out by the time Peter came home, I left the room for half an hour to decompress while he juggled the fussy children. Unfortunately, I had both of them at bedtime, which was a two hour long hailstorm of screaming, thrashing, and otherwise not sleeping. They both finally passed out around 9, when I hit the kitchen for an hour and a half of cooking to prepare for tomorrow. Ah, the joy of the rotation diet.
I've always been intrigued by the idea that food allergies cause autism or worsen its symptoms. Because when my kids come into contact with something that bothers them--or when they're getting over too much exposure--their brains quit working. I'd love to share some now amusing anecdote from earlier today to illustrate, but I'm too exhausted from all the stupid crap my kids did all day long to think. Sorry.
Hopefully in a few days it will be a distant memory. In the meantime, tomorrow we're rotating in garbanzo beans, lentils, sesame seeds, quinoa, coconut, and eggs. A vegetarian day with fried eggs (Ally's favorite) for breakfast; a falafel and watermelon picnic lunch at the zoo; and leftover curried lentil stew for dinner.
Today was chicken, hempseed, and corn: soup, chicken salad, grilled chicken and corn on the cob. Sunday will be millet, pork, and almonds, including an attempt at a greatly modified bread from my usual standby. Bacon or sausage in the am, hopefully almond butter and jelly sandwiches for lunch, and pork roast with mashed sweet potatoes for dinner. And, of course, all the fruits and veggies (except nightshades) the kids and I care to eat.
Saturday, August 22, 2009
In our family, we already eliminate (except for occasional cheating) the gluten, dairy, and soy that I know is harmful to me and my children. Many people with food allergies also find that it's helpful to rotate other common allergens (or, for some people, all of the foods that they eat): if you eat a food one day, you don't eat that food again for the following 3 days. The idea is to lower the overall allergic response in your body by not allowing problematic foods to continuously irritate your system.
Ally and I used a rotation diet for two months in 2007, and it was the best I have felt in years. I lost major weight and had energy to spare. Ally's allergy symptoms, which persisted despite a strict elimination, were almost entirely healed by the rotation, and we identified several other allergies that I didn't know about before. I felt so good that I got pregnant again, almost two years ago from today.
Unfortunately, I also have vivid memories of standing in my kitchen and crying almost every day of that diet. It was so hard. Having to restrict our intake so severely, making everything that we eat every day from scratch, not being able to rely on leftovers for the next day's meal . . . it is hard, hard, hard! So I've been resisting, for months now.
But I can't anymore. Ally's been having headaches (one of my most acute allergy symptoms) off and on all summer. Walker's allergic shiners just won't clear up, he's dealing with bowel discomfort, and the quality and consistency of his sleep is really deteriorating. And I feel like total crap. All day every day, sort of a cross between having the flu and being sore after a hard workout--even though neither is true. So now I'm going to stop writing, go sit in a hot Epsom salt bath, and do some menu planning. And sigh--I just sighed out loud. Luckily, I know this time the work is worth it.
Monday, August 17, 2009
I wasn't planning to go in this direction so soon, but Walker gave me such a great opening this weekend I had to take it.
About a month ago, I took Walker (who is almost 15 mos) to the doctor with his third respiratory infection in the last 6 months. (Man, how many prepositional phrases can I get into one sentence? Jeez!) We had a chat about the likelihood that he may be developing asthma, how an increase in the histamine response in his gut (due to untreated food allergies) could increase his histamine response elsewhere, like in his lungs.
That was the final straw. I had been resisting the idea that he was food allergic, but this conversation, combined with the all-day crank-a-thon that had been our lives for several months, continual runny bowel movements, and poor eating just pushed me over the edge. We took him off dairy and became more vigilant about abstaining from gluten. Within a week, the daylong “waaahhhh” that had been grating on me all day every day for months had stopped. He’s eating more and stopped gagging on his food (which he had been doing several times per day). What an improvement!
This picture doesn’t quite do justice to what his face looked like Saturday morning, as though someone punched him in both eyes. No, nobody’s hitting kids around here. That’s what he looks like after the aforementioned junk food eating extravaganza. And he only had little bites of stuff here and there! This is one of the amazing blessings about having food-allergic children: their sensitive bodies so easily betray that which is malfunctioning inside of them.
Saturday, August 15, 2009
You may be inclined to wonder why, knowing that eating these things causes me to feel like I’ve sucked face with an infected swine, I engage in such behavior. Like living, the reasons are many, varied, complicated. The short and totally unenlightening answer is that my sister, whom I love dearly, is in town and sharing bodily punishment seems to be one of our favorite pastimes. Potentially requiring no less explanation is this one word: addiction. Not to mention things like convenience, belonging/inclusion, fun.
A woman with whom I went to elementary school recently mused on her Facebook status that she crash diets because she crash eats. No kidding. Right now, I’m doing the latter because, for the past month and a half, I’ve been doing the former. And, though I’m too appalled by myself to get on the scale, I’m sure that the hard-fought 10 lbs that I lost have yo-yoed back in the other direction. So sad, I cluck my tongue and shake my head.
And tomorrow I’m getting back on the wagon. Or maybe the next day; my sis leaves Sunday morning. But definitely back on the wagon, though this time with the goal of doing more nourishing and less starving. Is this familiar to anyone: “I’m eating only fruits, vegetables, and meats!” and then managing to eat so little throughout the day that by the end of it you could eat an elephant and still want more? And then, feeling like an elephant, you’re so demoralized that you quit trying before you’ve even begun?
So let’s begin.