Sunday, February 21, 2016

In Which I Turn A New Leaf And Begin A New Series

We seemed to hopscotch right through winter and into spring.

Unless it is all a trick and we take two giant leaps back into the frozen tundra.  I never put anything past Oklahoma.

I've been keeping my head down, leaning into the wind, trying to get my bearings.  I feel like everything I have ever learned about cooking and nutrition have been dumped on the floor and stomped upon.

It began with a "chance encounter" with some old friends at a Mexican restaurant over the Christmas holidays.  Robert and I were out on a rare date when we simultaneously spied and were spotted by our good friends, Bro. Dan and Sis Janet Roten.  It was remarkable because they live about 200 miles away!  It was Providential because Robert and I had every intention of leaving the house hours earlier than we did and there were several other places we had intended to eat and Los Cabos was totally a last moment decision.  But there they were and here we were!  We had a wonderful evening of fellowship, sharing salsa and memories.  As was inevitable, the men turned to their theological and ministry discussions while we ladies gabbed about family and health.  Janet began explaining the new diet lifestyle that she had embarked upon, Corn Tummy or something like that.  Oh, yeah.  Wheat Belly!  That's what it was.  It sounded weird and slightly radical.  But it also sounded like something I needed to look into more closely.

You see, my oldest son has a number of food allergies as well as environmental allergies.  This has been the roughest six month stretch with his asthma we have ever encountered.  He just had his tonsils removed in hopes of improving his sleep.  Somehow my hyper action figure toddler has morphed into an overweight teddy bear that has joint pain and is always tired.  He has random stomach aches and breaks out into unexplained rashes with dark circles under his eyes and a chronically stuffed up nose.  He is only ten.  My world was rocked 18 months ago when he was diagnosed as allergic to corn, rice, peas, almonds (among other nuts) and oats.  The day that I unwittingly served him oatmeal for breakfast and a southwestern soup with corn and rice in it with peanut flavored chocolate chips for dessert was the first day he broke out into hives the size of dinner plates.  I called the allergy clinic right then.  Ever since I have thanked God that Cy was not gluten sensitive because all the gluten free foods were made with corn, rice, pea and almond flour.  There would not be any safe grains left!  And that is exactly the point of the Wheat Belly lifestyle.  There are no safe grains.

That might seem a little over the top.  And for a healthy person, it probably is.  But when I thought about it, it makes sense.  Cy is already sensitive to most grains.  He feels ill after eating pasta of any sort.  He has random rashes and a forever stuffed nose.  Maybe it's all the grains that are at fault?  I determined to give the grain free lifestyle a try after the holidays.

In the middle of all this, Ana has been struggling with chronic diarrhea, scalded red cheeks and scalded red arms and legs.  These symptoms began around Thanksgiving and have waxed worse and worse.  I took her to the doctor as a precaution.  She prescribed her a round of antibiotics in case it was e. coli.  That didn't help. I put her on cashew milk and used lactose free milk to cook with.  That didn't help.  I switched to coconut milk to cook with.  That helped slightly.  We reduced her cheese intake and switched to drinking coconut milk and eschewing all nuts.  That helped a little more.  By this time I could tell when something was bothering her because her face and arms would turn lobster red while eating and she would complain in a most pitiful manner of it hurting.  The next day would bring blistering bad diapers. 

Last Wednesday I texted Miss 'Manda to discern what the night's menu at church would be.  Cy has really struggled with my new grain free mania that has thwarted him from indulging in our fellowship meals.  He just wants to be a normal kid and eat what everyone else is eating.  Being the kind and caring momma that I am, I tried to accomplish just that.  But in a grain free, nut free and dairy free manner.  So, what was our Wednesday night feast to be?  Biscuits and gravy with cheesy eggs and french toast.  Alright, I got this.  I googled Paleo biscuits and gravy.  Sweet potato biscuits with bacon?  Yes indeedy!  Coconut gravy with coconut milk and coconut flour and sausage?  This is going to be the best grain free, dairy free, nut free biscuit and gravy dinner ever!

Fast forward three hours and I am the proud creator of soggy orange biscuits and glumpy gravy that exudes an exotic tropical fragrance.  Yay.

But I made it and it's safe and by golly gum Ana and Cy are going to eat it!  And myself of course.  I told Cy at the beginning of the year that I was going to do this diet with him.  I'll be right there every step of the way, supporting and encouraging and yes, even suffering alongside. 

As Cy glummed his way through the most bizarre biscuit and gravy dinner of his short life, ever so often he looked my way with puzzled hurt in his blue jean eyes.  "I'm not even allergic to wheat." he would mutter under his breath. 

"I know son, not officially.  But you see, this guy that I have never met wrote in this book I have never actually read about how modern wheat is just Frankenstein unnatural and it does something bad with your gliadins, whatever those may be, and it makes you unhealthy and your joints ache and well, it's called Wheat Belly so I'm guessing if you don't eat wheat, you lose your belly.  And I want you to know, I'm right here with you.  I'm eating the exact same things you are."  He never actually said, "Whatever, I think you've lost your mind, mom."  But he was clearly thinking it.  He moped out the door to join the other kids.  As soon as the door to the fellowship hall slammed shut, I sprinted to the empty french toast pan to graze on syrup glazed crumbs of joy.  Did I feel ashamed?  Only a little.   It didn't last long.  Okay, actually I hate myself for it.  Doggone it!  Those sweet potato biscuits lied to me!  And the tropical coconut gravy with sausage?  Humph!  Not what this Okie gal craves!  I understand how hard this is on poor Cy.  It's killing me!  In the meantime, Ana is sitting in her highchair with blooming red cheeks.

It's the eggs.  It has to be the eggs in the stinkin' flourless biscuits.

The next day my fears were confirmed.  We were eating made from scratch Chinese BBQ ribs, Cauli-fried "rice", grain free cabbage rolls and egg drop soup.

"Owwweeee!", Ana wailed from her seat as she held up her scarlet wrists.

I am now searching for grain free, dairy free, nut free, egg free recipes.  Ana has official testing scheduled in March.  Cy is slogging through lettuce subs for lunch and eggplant pizza for dinner.  I am doing my best to be faithful to the diet even when Cy isn't looking.  I really don't mind trying new recipes.  I feel much better not eating carbs.  I love getting rid of processed food.  I know that my family is going to be much healthier as a result.  But, it's very confusing.  Every week I am at a loss what to plan and what to buy and how to rehabilitate the flops without wasting expensive ingredients.  But, I am encouraged.  This is a fantastic opportunity, not to be missed!

 I have a chance to help reign in Cy's weight before he's a teenager.  Now is the time to turn the tide and give him an opportunity to experience life at a healthy weight, not at risk of diabetes and heart disease,not to mention bullying and low self esteem.  I fully expect his allergy symptoms and asthma attacks will lessen as we eliminate processed foods and chemicals and gradually move to an organic, whole foods lifestyle.  I expect to see reduced inflammation in both him and myself.  I hope to lose the last10 pounds of baby fat that are stubbornly hanging on.  I hope to see benefits in my husband and other children, even if they continue to eat wheat.  Their refined carb consumption has already drastically declined.  I hope to see better attention in Dee.  He shows signs of an attention disorder, but has never been diagnosed.  Eliminating processed foods is a must for anyone with attention disorders.  As for Ana, she is my mini Cy.  She has the same fair skin and blue jean eyes.  She has wavy strawberry brunette hair and a wild streak a mile wide.  She never sits still unless she wants a "snuggie".  And those snuggies are anything but quiet and peaceful!  She has boundless energy, just like Cy at two years old.  But I can see that she also has his silent struggle against the invisible invaders that attack her immune system every day.  I hope to change her path, to keep her from developing asthma and hives and joint pain and never feeling rested.

2016 is going to be a year of discovery and change.  I'm excited but scared out of my skull!  I hope to start a new series of posts chronicling the flops and successes.  The discoveries and setbacks.  I'll share my favorite recipe of the week and give brutally funny reviews from the family.  Maybe I'll gain a new audience of folks trying to feed their large family for cheap on a restricted diet.  Maybe I'll just spark gratitude in those of you who can still indulge in your Fritos and Little Caeser's Pizza.  I just have one request, slip me a fabulous flour biscuit with full dairy gravy every once in awhile, will ya?