Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Cleanse Complete

It has been about 1 1/2 weeks since I finished my cleanse. I've struggled with how to put my thoughts and results into words.

Let's start with my habits before the cleanse. I try to cook food from scratch. I can count the number of times I eat out each month on one hand. I don't have any major (or minor, really) health problems. I'm not trying to brag. I do plenty that I shouldn't. My point is that I don't feel like I saw dramatic results, but I didn't really have dramatic potential. Here's what I did see:
  • I lost 5 pounds (I lost another 2 the couple weeks before the cleanse when I gave up dairy so I'm going with 7 altogether).
  • My muffin top is not gone, but it is definitely smaller. Perhaps closer to a mini-muffin than the jumbo it resembled previously.
  • I don't know how to best articulate this, but when I breathe it feels "clean," like there's nothing obstructing my passageways.
  • One of my little blemishes started flaking away. It's still there, but barely. I have another spot on my nose that has been flaking for at least 6 months and I was planning to have the dermatologist look at it. The spot is still there, but the flaking was gone until this morning when it reappeared.
  • My varicose veins, located in an unmentionable area are not gone, but I haven't had any flare-ups (which previously happened when I ran).
My expectations were that I would feel really tired & bad week 1 and possibly week 2. Week 3, I was supposed to feel like a million bucks. The reality: Day 1 I felt horrible. The rest of that week I was mostly exhausted and didn't have much energy, a sure sign that my body was working and healing. Week 2 I didn't feel bad and I started regaining my energy. Week 3: did I feel like a million bucks? I'd say it was more like I felt like myself again, but that's where I wonder if this is because I didn't have the potential to see these astonishing results.  

Perhaps the biggest reminder for me is that everything we put into our bodies contains good and bad effects. I mostly think of the nutrients. We've gotten so accustomed to the nutrition labels that are sorely lacking that we forget (or we don't know) the wonderful nutrients they do contain and aren't listed. I feel like I'm putting wonderful vitamins and nutrients into my body with every bite! During the cleanse, I was sometimes surprised by the basic-ness of the ingredients that were aimed at keeping me nourished. I also sometimes feel like "why bother" with the foods that I know to be bad. I'm definitely not craving them.

Since the cleanse and moving forward, here are some of the steps I am taking:

  • I'm having a shake every morning for breakfast (liquid meals speed up your digestion process and allow the body more time to focus on healing or staying in balance).
  • Wednesday night is liquid dinner night.
  • Monday night is fish night (we were not eating enough fish previously). 
  • I'm trying to ensure I eat some sort of green leafy vegetable everyday.
  • No dairy.
  • Not much gluten.
  • Organic when possible, trying to avoid the "dirty dozen" unless they are organic.
  • Avoiding the 2 top genetically modified foods (soy and corn) unless they are organic (non-GMO).
  • No eating after dinner, which is normally finished by 6 (8PM has been a long-standing rule for me).
You may recall that I LOVE sweet tea! I had 2-3 glasses everyday. I made it myself so I know exactly how much sugar is in it and that makes me feel better about it. I was really looking forward to my first glass, but I forgot to make it that morning. I forgot again the second day. By day three I decided maybe I don't really need it. So, I have been sweet-tea free since the cleanse started, but I'm not promising anything.

During the cleanse, I also realized how little (or how much) I really do need to eat. Previously I felt like there wasn't much opportunity for me to cut-back in the food department. I didn't want my metabolism to slow down. I couldn't figure out why I couldn't lose weight no matter how hard I worked out. Truth is, I was eating more than I should. Exercise helps, but for me, I need to watch what and how much I eat. The cleanse really helped me get in tune with the amount I require. 

Dr. Junger recommends you do what you can to help your body along the way, but strive for a 3-week cleanse once a year. Right now I'm not sure I will do it again. If I can keep up with my new steps indefinitely, I probably won't. But like many things, I imagine life will catch up to me and I'll fall into some of my old habits. If so, the cleanse may be the only way for me to get back into eating the way and the amount that I should. I will keep you posted!

It is also worth noting that so far I have kept off the 7 total pounds!

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Cleansing Goes Beyond Food

For those counting, I'm on day 16 of my 21-day cleanse. Still going (though I will admit to having 3 homemade mini, dairy & gluten-free blueberry muffins yesterday, which would've been ok sans the sugar and egg they contain. We went to The Berry Patch and picked blueberries that morning and I had to taste my creation, right?)

The cleanse has probably gotten easier. My energy level is back to where it was when I started. I am bored with the dinner shakes. I feel like, "why bother," though often this is when I get my leafy greens and that's important. My hubby is pretty much done. He's feeling starved and has been planning his next steak for at least a week. Tomorrow is the 4th of July and he's decided he's done with the cleanse. We'll see if I make it the next 5 days without him. I may have to take a little break tomorrow in celebration! He can have his steak. I really want a glass of wine. He (and we) do have plans to make changes following the cleanse though, which I'll discuss in a later post.

I do want to mention some of the things I'm doing outside of food in order to help my body get rid of the toxins. The skin absorbs things directly into your blood stream, so it's important to consider those potential pollutants as well. Also, the air we breathe. Here are some of the additional measures I took outside of food:

Lotion: Except for my facial lotion and sunscreen (if I was going to be out for a long period of time), I managed to avoid it. I wasn't sure I could, but now I'm not sure I'll go back. In Clean, Dr. Junger recommends a little coconut oil instead. I tried that. Once. I put it on in the shower after shaving my legs thinking I could rinse some of it off so I wouldn't be greasy. I forgot about the shower floor getting slick. I almost fell. Also I smelled like suntan oil the rest of the day. Gross! Later I remembered when I learned infant massage, the instructor gave us grapeseed oil to use. Not only does it not have a smell, it is high in vitamin E which I know is good for the skin. I tried it and it works for me. Not everyday, but every other day. Just remember a little goes a long way. Too much and you'll be greasy!

Soap: I'm trying to remember when it was no longer good enough to just use "soap" and I had to start buying fancy, great-smelling stuff at Bath and Body Works. What happened to plain soap and what's wrong with it? As a child, I started life with Ivory. It made my skin too dry and my mom started buying me Dove (it's got that 1/4 cup moisturizer) so that's what I went back to during the cleanse. It's nothing to get excited about, but I'm clean and I probably spared my body a few perfumey-toxins.

Make-Up: I skipped it on days I wasn't going anywhere (also deodorant). On days I was going somewhere, I took the "oh well" attitude. No one wants to see me without it! A few years ago I did switch to mineral-based powder and eye shadow. My foundation has SPF in it, but it is made from Amazonian clay so it surely must be a little better than most.

Cleaning: I also avoided this whenever possible, but ok, that's not so possible with 2 small kids! I use Norwex for almost everything, which consists of a special rag or mop made of silver (a natural anti-bacterial agent) that you just wet and go. If you want to learn more about Norwex, I raved about it in another post.

My next test is paint. I promised both of my boys dinosaur rooms and I've procrastinated long enough. I found through Debras List that Benjamin Moore makes a VOC-free paint. I'm going to try it.

Bottom line is I've switched soap and lotion and the cleanse has reinforced some of what I was already doing. That's about as granola as I get.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Gluten & Dairy-Free Banana-Choc Chip Pancakes & Muffins

We are still working to figure out our kids' food allergies, which isn't easy. It has been a month of dairy-free and 2 weeks since they have been gluten-free (minus the donut they had at church last Sunday) and things are still not perfect. I was racking my brain and it hit me to check the vitamins I've been giving them (more likely the grace of God!). Sure enough, the multi-vitamin contains milk. The frustrating thing is that I was previously not that consistent about giving them vitamins, but since we gave up dairy, I've been on it! I even took the vitamins on vacation! So, my kids are now on new vitamins and are once again dairy free (I hope). I'm hoping and praying we meet normal in the next few days and I do feel like we are headed that direction!

My kids are not on the cleanse so we've been cooking separately for them. It has worked best for me to make them something for dinner that we can also eat and then we eat it the next day for lunch (since lunch is our solid meal). It has been very hard for me to make them food and refrain from taking a little bite here and there. Also, I have been altering recipes to provide dairy and gluten-free items and I haven't been able to taste test. How much or how fast they eat something is of course always the sure sign of how good it really is! I've come across 2 recipes worth sharing. I took the muffins to a birthday party last week and all the kids (even the ones not on a dairy or gluten-free diet) devoured them!

Banana-Chocolate Chip Muffins

1/4 C Vanilla Almond Milk (originally sour cream)
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 C applesauce
1/4 C Earth's Balance buttery spread
1/2 C sugar
1 egg
1 C mashed bananas
1 1/2 C gluten-free all-purpose flour (originally 3/4 C white & 3/4 C whole wheat flour)
2/3 C flaxseed meal (originally 1/4 C flax meal or wheat germ)
1/2 tsp salt
1 C chocolate chips (you can find dairy-free, vegan at Whole Foods)

Stir the almond milk and baking soda together and set aside. Cream the applesauce, butter and sugar with electric mixer. Add the egg & beat well. Beat in the milk-baking soda mixture and the bananas. Stir in the remaining ingredients. Bake at 350 for 18 minutes. Makes 36 mini-muffins.

*If you want the dairy & gluten version, note my parenthesis above. Also, add 1 tsp vanilla and originally it was 1/2 C butter instead of the applesauce and "buttery spread".

Banana-Chocolate Chip Pancakes

3 1/4 C vanilla flavored almond milk (if unsweet, add 2 Tbsp sugar to the dry mix)
3 tsp apple cider vinegar
2 C gluten-free all-purpose flour
3/4 C almond meal
1/4 C flaxseed meal
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 Tbsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
3 eggs
1/2 C applesauce
1/4 C coconut oil
1 mashed banana
Chocolate Chips (you can buy dairy free, vegan at Whole Foods)

Heat up your griddle so its nice & hot. Mix the vinegar and milk together and let sit for about 20 minutes (I let mine sit while I mix up everything else). Whisk all the dry ingredients together in a large bowl. Mix all the wet ingredients separately and then add. Add the banana. I throw a few chocolate chips into each pancake after I pour the batter on the griddle. You can freeze the left-overs by putting wax paper between them and then putting them in a Ziploc.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Week 2: The Meal Plan

You know I'm a planner. My planned menu for week 1 didn't really go that well. I tried, but I wasn't completely sure what I was going to like and how it was all going to work together. You can buy shakes and supplements for the program and that might make things easier to manage for some people, but I like to make my own. I do work from home and this has made things a little easier for me, but my hubby is doing it too and he doesn't work from home so again, we must plan ahead. We came up with this menu over the weekend and so far it has served us well. Since I'm cooking separately for my kids (and since they are gluten & dairy-free, we are not going through a drive-thru anytime soon), it has worked smoothly when I make something for them for dinner that we can also eat.  Therefore I'm making most of these lunch items the night before: kids eat 'em for dinner and we eat 'em the next day for lunch (remember: liquid dinner for us). Here's the plan:

Lunch: I ate left-over Asian-style Fish & the hubby at the left-over Lamb Stew
Dinner: Creamy Blueberry Shake

Lunch: Chicken Curry over brown rice (and grapes)
Dinner: Green Coco Shake

Lunch: Cuban Chicken with black bean & avocado quinoa
Dinner: Chilled Cucumber Soup with Mint

Lunch: Lamb burger with herbs and qunioa
Dinner: Spinach Avocado Soup

Lunch: left-over Chicken Curry
Dinner: Spinach & Dulse Soup

Lunch: some sort of fish dish
Dinner: Pineapple Avocado Gazpacho

The lunch recipes are mostly my own that we already had, with the exception of the Asian-style Fish, which was in the Clean book. The dinner recipes have all come from the Clean book. The Clean Program website (where you can also find shakes & supplements) has a wealth of information, recipes and an online community for support. Here's the link directly to a PDF with some of their recipes. For breakfast, I have determined that Becky's Morning Shake (pg. 3 in the PDF. I add 2 tsp. flaxseed meal & a scoop of Raw Protein) works best for me. Since I work out in the morning, the protein content serves me well.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Cleanse: Week 1 Complete. Are you hungry?

The most common question I have gotten since I started this cleanse is, "are you hungry?"I once heard that lions have a natural desire to hunt and attack their pray and that if you take that away, the lion loses its spirit and essentially becomes depressed. Zoos and other unnatural habitats have to be careful to not make the feeding too easy. I'm wondering if we are somewhat this way with our food. Dinner might be a different matter, but for breakfast I look at everything that's in the blender and think, "that's more than I normally eat". Yet I don't really feel full after drinking it. Is this something to do with our natural desire to chew? Or by forcing the little workers within our stomach to work so hard for so many years, are they having a tough time adjusting to this idea that we've just made it easier for them to digest? I have no idea, but I do feel like my body is getting a little more content with the idea of a liquid breakfast. Dinner is still a different matter!

Also, Dr. Junger accurately points out in his book "Clean" that most of us don't really know hunger. I've been feeling very sluggish after lunch. Typically when I feel like I've been zapped of energy, I eat something to refuel. Is that really hunger? And, I'm still allowed snacks during the cleanse. They just can't be chips or candy bars. My go-to snack has actually long been cashews though I did sometimes have a mini candy bar or something small and sweet in the afternoons, along with my sweet tea which is probably what I am missing most right now. Often when I feel like I'm starting to get hungry, I drink a big glass of water. Lots of water is a must during the cleanse and I'm sure this goes a long way in making the body feel full. Bottom line, I certainly don't feel full. I don't really feel "hungry" either. Mostly I feel sluggish and its mostly after lunch, which makes me want to eat for refuel. This also reminds me of Michael Pollan's book "Food Rules". One of the rules that has stuck with me is: eat until you no longer have hunger vs. eat until you are full.

Friday, June 21, 2013

4 Days done and still exercising

I'm still into week 1 of the cleanse, which is supposed to be the hardest week. Truth is, by the end of the day I'm more tired than normal, but outside of day 1, it hasn't been horrible. I do get really tired after lunch, but seem to somewhat rebound before dinner, after which I hit the exhausted stage again. I do think it helped that I gave up all dairy about a month ago and gluten a week before I started. The hubby feels worse than I do, but he's also seeing results. His stomach is almost flat again and he's already lost 5 pounds. I've lost 1. I have long observed that guys tend to lose weight easier than girls so perhaps this is fitting.

This cleanse is not as extreme as some others that are out there and I have continued to work out every morning. About a year ago I determined that my body feels best when I do a short run combined with weight-bearing exercises so I typically run 2 miles and then lift weights for 20-30 minutes. I mix it up some with yoga and core exercises. I have P90X and typically modify or shorten the sessions from that program in my mix. Here's what I've done this week since starting the cleanse:

Monday: Ran 2 miles then did chest, shoulders & tris, & some abs (this was the day I started & my body had no idea what was coming!)
Tuesday: I was tired. I did 45 min of yoga, which felt amazing! As mentioned, this was the day we went to the botanical garden so I walked a bunch during the day as well.
Wednesday: Again, tired. I ran 2 miles then came home and did stretches for 10-15 minutes.
Thursday: I did Core Synergistics for 45 minutes.

Today I plan to mow the lawn and although I'm regaining my energy, I decided that that combined with vacuuming is enough. Tomorrow I plan to run 2 miles then do legs and back. I mainly want to communicate that it's still possible to work-out if this is something that's important to you and you are considering a cleanse. I think it helps to sweat and I am no fan of the sauna!

Yesterday I ate:
Breakfast: Becky's Morning Shake (I'm liking this one best so far).
Lunch: Pecan chicken, quinoa, and watermelon.
Snack: Organic carrots from the CSA that were incredible! And a handful of cashews.
Dinner: A mushroom-zuchini soup that was pureed.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Cleanse: Day 2 includes Lamb Stew

Day 2 was better than day 1 for me. I did not get the raging headache, but I was zonked. My cousin was in town so we went to see her and I took the boys to the botanical garden after. Botanical garden = BIG with lots of walking. They outlasted me for certain, but I managed to make it through. Here's what I ate:

Breakfast: berry smoothie with blueberries, avocado, cinnamon & coconut milk
Lunch: lamb stew (this is one of my favorite meals & I'm fortunate it fits in the perimeters! Recipe below.)
Snack: apple
Dinner: broccoli soup & a little of the blueberry, spinach, apple shake the hubby had.

Allowed and Not-Allowed List of Foods for the Cleanse

Not-Allowed (Some of them surprised me.)
Dairy & eggs (including all butter & mayo), wheat, corn, oats, white rice, oranges, grapefruit, bananas, strawberries, tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, potatoes, pork, beef, sausage (should've read that one a little closer), shellfish, any raw meats including fish, soybean products, peanuts, processed oils, canola oil, alcohol, caffeine, all sweetening agents except stevia.

Hemp, rice and nut milks, coconut milk & oil, non-gluten grains (brown, red, black & wild rice, millet, amaranth, teff, tapioca, buckwheat, quinoa), fruits & veggies minus those mentioned above, seaweeds, fresh or water-packed cold water fish, wild game, lamb, duck, free-range chicken, turkey, split peas, lentils, legumes, bee pollen, spirulina, blue-green algae, pretty much all nuts except peanuts, filtered water (and lots of it!), decaffeinated herbal teas.

Lamb Stew

2 lb bonless lamb shoulder or leg cut into 1 inch cubes
1/2 Cup all-purpose flour (can use gluten-free)
3 Tbsp olive oil
2 cloves garlic
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp ground coriander
pinch of cayenne pepper
1 bay leaf
1 1/2 Cups chicken stock
2 leeks
5 medium carrots, thinly sliced
1 1/2 Cups yellow raisins
1 tsp salt
ground black pepper
1/2 lemon

Toss the lamb in the flour, coating it lightly after removing the excess fat. In a large, heavy pot warm the oil over medium-high. When hot, add the lamb cubes in batches until lightly browned on all sides, 5-6 minutes. Set aside.

Add the garlic to the same pan (I put it through a press, but you can also chop it) over low heat and stir in the cinnamon, cumin, coriander & cayenne. Cook for 1-2 minutes. Add the chicken stock and bay leaf and scrape up any browned bits. Return the meat to the pan and simmer, stirring, until the liquid thickens, about 2 minutes. Cover & simmer over low stirring occasionally for 1 hour.

Meanwhile, slice the carrots and leeks. For the leeks: cut lengthwise and wash any dirt out of the layers. Cut into slices, using a bit of the green tops to about 2 inches from the root end.

After an hour, add the carrots, raisins, salt & pepper to taste. Simmer until the meat is tender, about 40-50 more minutes. Add the juice from the lemon before serving. Serve over brown rice.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Cleanse: Day 1 Down

I should start with the basics, like what this cleanse entails. It is meant to be a somewhat gradual cleanse. I understand week 1 is going to be very hard. Week 2 will be better and I'm going to feel so awesome by week 3 that I'll never want to go back to my old ways! We'll see. Honestly, I'm sure I will make some permanent changes. I'm just not completely sure what they will be (after day 1!). I've already given up dairy and plan to stick to that one.

The Plan
A liquid breakfast (shake, smoothie or homemade juice)
Snack (anything on the approved list)
Regular lunch, so long as it falls within the perimeters
Another snack if needed
Liquid dinner (soup or shake)

It's also very important to give your body at least 12 hours between dinner and breakfast the next day. The liquid meals make it easier to digest food so your body can spend more time repairing and getting rid of the toxins.

Day 1 I had the following:
Breakfast: "Becky's Morning Shake"(you can find this on the Clean Program website, but it consists of almond butter, coconut milk, flaxseed meal, avocado, protein powder and I added a scoop of stevia)
Snack: cashews
Lunch: The hubby made a bean soup that also had chicken and buffalo sausage (I'm not sure sausage of any kind is ok, but I ate it anyway) and watermelon
Snack: (Here is where I started to lose it. Headache kicked in & I didn't feel so great) handful of cashews and leftover roasted beets and parsnips (I'm not sure beets and parsnips are normally a snack, but they were staring at me from the fridge and they are good for you.)
Dinner: "Green Smoothie" which was made up of kale, coconut water, mango, avocado and coconut milk

I expected the first few days to go relatively smoothly for me. I gave up dairy almost a month ago and I've been off gluten for a week. I'm prepared, or so I think. However, I wasn't prepared for the caffeine withdrawal. I was so tired after lunch and then the headache set in. After dinner I was also feeling extremely bloated. Turns out bean soup on day 1 was not a good idea. I referenced the book and ended up slicing up a garlic clove and eating it between 2 slices of apple. I wasn't supposed to eat anything solid after dinner, but I did eat it early enough that my body will still have 13+ hours before I eat again. Beyond that: did you read that I just ate a garlic clove? I think this is supposed to have all kinds of health benefits, but it was not pleasant. I've never done this before. I had a Skype appointment with the hubby following this action and he clearly was trying to move as far away from me as he could. In the end, I do think it worked. Also the unpleasantness erupting in my mouth from the garlic clove made me entirely forget about the headache! Bring on day 2 (note that I still have garlic breath)!!! Next I will post some of the things that make or do not make the list of things to eat.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Never too late for a Spring Clean!

I've been reading "Clean" by Dr. Alejandro Junger, M.D. and it has motivated me to do a 21-day cleanse. It seems like cleanses have become extremely popular over the past few years and until I read this book I thought it was essentially an extreme diet. It's not. At least this one isn't. You will likely lose weight, but the purpose of the cleanse is to get your body operating the way it was intended. Our bodies are amazing! The Almighty created them in a way in which they would heal themselves in many situations. It all works together. However, due to the processed food that we eat and the toxins in our environment, our bodies have gotten out of whack and they've stopped working properly or they are focused on the short-term fix (getting the latest toxin out) and aren't able to do some of their other important functions. Specialists are trained to treat a particular area or function of our body, but they often fail to look at the whole and consider how it all works together. Dr. Junger wrote this book for the average person (like me) who has a few issues, but nothing major, with the intent of getting our bodies back to operating as they were intended. I am starting this cleanse today and will document my journey along the way.

He mentions that it is important to document the reasons you are doing the cleanse in advance. This will serve as a reminder and perhaps as motivation in the moments that you feel like quitting. Below are my reasons.

Why I am doing the cleanse
It would probably be too easy to sum this up in 2 words, but that's mostly why I'm doing it. Here they are: MUFFIN TOP. I can't say for certain when this thing first reared its ugly head. Maybe after child #2, but it seems to be here to stay. I work-out 5-6 days a week. I've changed up these work outs over the past number of years. Each time it seems to make a bit of a difference, but never does the muffin top go away. I cut out soda years ago. I engaged in a 21-day ab strengthening challenge with my girlfriends and have kept up with ab exercises since. A couple weeks before giving up dairy, I gave up sweets (though I did not give up my sweet tea). I don't eat after 8 PM. I don't eat a lot of processed foods. I don't eat out much. Through all this, the muffin top remains. It is my most loyal companion.

If the cleanse also did something about any or all of the following, I would be a happy camper:

I intend to be around for my kids for a long time
I could stand to lose about 10 pounds
My skin is doing weird things: specifically blemishes I don't particularly like
The older I get, the uglier my legs get with veins & I actually have knee fat!
I have varicose veins that appeared in an unmentionable area when I was prego with #2

So begins my cleanse. My next post will include what all this entails. I am fortunate in that my hubby is doing it with me. He is really the cook in the family and his support, along with his creative culinary skills will be of great value!

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Update on the Dairy-Free Experiment

I am reminded of when my child was an infant and we first discovered he had food allergies (or hyper-sensitivities). We cut out all milk (aka dairy). He was clearly better, but he was still screaming more than what's normal. The next thing on the list per the GI Specialist was soy so we cut that out. About this time I started keeping a food diary, documenting what I ate and when he had a bad moment. I was able to make a clear correlation with wheat. Once we got all three things out of his diet, he became the happy little bouncing baby that everyone dreams of having. I was never truly sure he had an allergy to soy.

After 3 weeks of giving up all dairy products during our recent experiment, there was no denying that he was much better, but he was still coughing and snuffing more than he should. I mentioned to my husband that maybe we should cut out gluten again and see if that helps. "I was just thinking the same thing," he said. Oh boy! Here we go again! We've been doing this for one week now. On day 5 we both commented once again that it appears to be helping. This is good and bad. I'm happy that we've figured out the potential problem and we can help him get better. But, I will admit I'm a bit bummed that this is going to require big lifestyle changes on our part. You can't just pop in a pizza or swing through the drive-thru in those busy moments. It requires planning and thinking. We will adjust. And we will all be healthier for it.

I have given up these things with him. And so long as I'm putting things out there, why hold back? I do not really drink milk, but I do like cheese and I love having a parfait for breakfast. So most every morning I was eating blueberries or strawberries with plain yogurt and granola. Yum! I figure I'm getting my probiotics this way too. For about the last 6 months or so (its hard to remember when things start), I've been really gassy. It's embarrassing. I even considered taking something for it. After about a week of giving up all dairy, the gas is gone. Also, about a year ago I started breaking-out every month, right before I "started". I've never done this, not even as a teenager. I bought new facial cleaning products. Nothing helps. I finally decided its hormonal, perhaps I'm pre-menoposal and this is just going to be part of it. Until...I did not break-out this month! I've never thought I'd be anxious for my time of the month, but now I'm curious to see if this was a total fluke or if it has to do with the milk in my diet.

To summarize our update: we are officially a milk-free family and have the potential to be gluten-free as well. I will continue to post about our journey and provide recipes and other helpful items we learn along the way. Already I've been reading a few new books which are about to lead us down new paths that I will share. Let the journey continue!

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

My Duh Moment

My oldest suffers from seasonal allergies. Or, at least I think he does. He gets colds that don't go away and don't appear to be contagious. I've tried all of the over-the-counter allergy medicines and nothing seems to make any difference. When I asked one doctor about whether or not he has allergies she said, "give him allergy medication and if it goes away, it's allergies". So I continue to try different brands. I'll freely admit: I'm not a fan of taking medication every day. So, I'll give him something for a number of days, it doesn't make a difference, so I stop and there's probably a possibility I'm not giving it to him long enough. Said child also wears glasses. At his last eye doctor appointment, the eye doctor said something along the lines of "I see you have seasonal allergies". At least now I have confirmation that the relentless colds are truly allergies. He gave me some eye drops for allergies. In my mind, these won't have side effects so I'm pretty happy with this 'treat the allergies with eye drops' idea. Enter the 6-year-old whose only experience with eye drops was for pink eye and they stung. Fail!

Sometime in March his allergies kicked in again and this Spring has been the worst so far. All the crap gets stuck in his throat/sinuses. And, it is GROSS! He is constantly making this clear the throat/snotty/mucusy/coughy sound and I'm about to lose my mind! Now I'm yelling at him to blow his nose constantly. I'm harassing him for not blowing the junk out. I can't help it. It's like nails on the chalkboard. He already doesn't feel great and now I'm yelling at him. Splendid. Then, due to the stuck junk, he gets a double ear infection. In addition to the antibiotics, the doctor tells me to keep up with the Allegra indefinitely (which was the thing I was currently trying...again) and give him Mucinex for 2 days to clear the junk. I followed orders. Ear infection is gone, but other than that there is no change, not after 2 days, not after 2 weeks, not after a month. I took him off the Allegra and there is no difference. He's still hacking with the best of them...on it or off.

In life we sometimes have "a-ha" moments. You know, those moments when something profound hits you and in some cases, alters your thinking or changes your life. I feel like I had a "duh" moment in this instance.  During a playdate a good friend was talking about a new book she's reading and how all illness stems from the gut. I've written before about said child's food allergies when he was an infant. The biggest issue for him was milk, aka all dairy products. I began to make connections between the "allergies" and milk products. For instance, the allergies started around the same time his school started allowing string cheese as a school snack. He's eating 3-4 cheese sticks a day! He also eats a turkey and cheese sandwich most lunches and has a glass of milk at dinner. This poor kid has already displayed a propensity for a milk sensitivity and he's eating it like there's no tomorrow! DUH!

Reality check: I don't want to be too inconvenienced by taking him off milk. We have an upcoming vacation and this will force us to be very conscientious of where and how we eat. Also, school is almost out and it will be much easier to do this over the summer. So my plan was to wait a few weeks before diving in. It takes 2 weeks to get things out of your system, but I can limit things and then really go full-force when its more convenient. However, he woke up the next morning with that cough that sounds like a seal bark and immediately I found myself buying almond milk in the grocery store at 6 AM! It has been 5 days since I have eliminated milk (this includes cheese, whey and butter) from his diet. He is not clearing his throat as often and it doesn't sound as nasty as it did. My husband, who is somewhat skeptical, even commented on it last night. But time will tell for certain. So far as I can tell, pollen and other causes of seasonal allergies are still rampant so if he is truly clear after the 2 weeks, we will know.

I'm also giving up the dairy. In support of him, so that he's not the only one in the house not allowed to eat certain things, and also because I have this oh-so-lovely muffin top that I cannot seem to get rid of no matter how hard I work out. When said child was an infant and I had to cut all the allergens out of my diet, I was skinnier than I've ever been. I want to figure out if milk is the big contributing factor to my weight issue for my particular body type. I will keep you posted!