Saturday, January 31, 2015

When choices become actions

Monday is the big day.  Monday I begin the comprehensive elimination diet. There has been quite a bit of preparation that has gone into this process and more preparation to come.

The first thing I decided to do was search for recipes on the internet and Pinterest . When I began, I could hardly find anything that would work without a lot of substitutions, but as I kept looking, I found more than I thought I would. I've compiled them onto a Pinterest board elimination-diet-recipes.

The second thing was to make a grocery list. Usually we make a menu before a shopping list, but as I tried to figure out what to buy and where to buy it (looking at local ads) the anxiety of what I was about to do started to overwhelm me. That's when my DH reminded me that it wouldn't be that complicated since I've been gluten and dairy free for more than 2.5 years. There would be some changes to my diet, but we could keep making some of the same recipes we already have ingredients for with just a few changes. So, going on the idea that what we really need are "staples" (free range chicken breasts, salmon, ground turkey, frozen fruit and veggies), my DH went shopping. I wanted to go with him (and he wanted me to go too), but with four kids who would not be amused to go shopping for hours, he went by himself. 

The shopping left me happy and a bit shocked. DH was able to get many items at our local Costco. He bought cold pressed olive oil, cases of coconut milk and rice milk, and even found canned tuna without soy! I was most surprised at what he couldn't find, free range chicken! Organic grain fed chicken was available, but since the idea is to be 100% gluten free, grain fed chicken isn't going to work; even if it is organic.) After spending hours at Costco (checking labels, lots of labels) we decided for him to come back home and possibly go to the grocery store tomorrow.

Since I have gluten and dairy free for so long, we figured that many of the "staples
 we've used for years would still work; unfortunately we were wrong. When looking through our own pantry, we found that some of our "staple" items (quinoa with brown rice, Food Should Taste Good Chips, gluten free pasta and flour mixes) won't work for this diet due to the oil that is added or nut and bean flours. On this diet, it is imperative to check labels. So many foods have soy and unhealthy oils in them. I had no idea! 

Tomorrow, I'm planning on cutting up a lot of the fresh produce we've purchased and putting it into quart size freezer bags so that when it comes time to making lunch and dinner, it won't be quite so time consuming and labor intensive. I'm also planning to make smoothies, pour about a cup into quart size freezer bags that can easily thaw overnight for a nice easy breakfast in the morning. 

I still need to work out the menu for the week so I know what I'm making when, but at least now I have many recipes to choose from and know what ingredients we have that I can put together. :-)

I'm pretty excited to start this new chapter. I've heard great things about this diet, and I'm really hoping that I can get my old self back.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Choices, choices, choices: We choose health

So my DH and I came to the decision that we're going to try the comprehensive elimination diet to see if that will ease my symptoms and possibly take away whatever the illness is that I have. We know that there are other diets (GAPS and BED to name two), and if this one doesn't work, I might try one of those.

So my kind and loving DH doesn't want me to go through this diet alone, so he's going to do it with me. :-) We'll probably make some of the meals for the entire family, so the kids will get to try some new foods and recipes. (At this point, they won't be doing the diet. If we find it helpful for me, we may try it with them too.)

This next week, the plan is to put together recipes and a menu. I'll be keeping my eyes out for specials on produce, fish, seafood and other diet options to help us stick to our budget. Then we'll go buy the necessary foods and start the diet in couple of weeks.

If that seems like a while to wait, let me explain how difficult it can be to find recipes on the exclusion diet. First of all, there are many exclusion diets out there; although they are similar, they simply aren't the same. Frequently, there are ingredients in those recipes that I can't have on this diet. Some of them are probably easy to modify, others not so much. There aren't a lot of recipes out there that fit this particular diet, so it could take some time and digging to find what I need. So I'll be going through different cookbooks and recipes online this next week to make a grocery list and menu. I'm also looking at trying to grow some vegetables and herbs at home to help make this diet more affordable for our family.

This is a daunting task, and because of that I thought I would take my readers through the process with us. If you're interested in the diet, new recipes, tips on making meals more affordable, or just want to see if it works for me; I'd love to have you join us on this journey.

I'm really hoping this diet works. It would be a huge blessing and relief to our family if I was healthy again.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Choices, choices, choices: Getting healthy vs. getting by

In case I haven't shared this before, I am a disabled mom to four terrific kids who each have a chronic illness and 3/4 have special needs. (The youngest is still very young and the special needs that run in our family tend to rear their heads when kids are a bit older.) I homeschool and have the priveledge to see the strides our kids make every day.

For the past four to five years my hubby and I have been in many doctors' offices, and I have had many tests run to figure out what is causing my disability; but no one has been able to figure it out. I even tried to be seen by the Mayo Clinic, but they refused to see me. So yesterday, my husband and I tried a new route; functional medicine. These doctors are medical doctors (MDs or DOs), but look at medicine from a different point of view. They look at the body as a whole instead of different parts, and they tend to work from a nutritional point instead of a pharmaceutical point.

After sharing my "story" with the doctor, she shared with us that my story is different than any other she has heard and my symptoms we quite different too. She gave us the names of supplements I should add to my diet (fish oil, a special kind of B vitamin, vitamin D (which I've been taking for a few years)) and wants me to start with the comprehensive elimination diet. Since I've already been gluten and dairy free for about three years, she's not sure how well the diet will work for me; but our decision was that I wasn't strict enough with the gluten free diet and that I need to be more vigilant.

The elimination diet is scary for me. Lots of fresh fruits and vegetables, some lean meats, and absolutely NO gluten, dairy (which for me means cutting out the butter) and eggs. It is definitely healthier than I've ever eaten before, but it's also way more expensive. That's where my fear comes in, if we spend all this money on buying the supplements and produce, what if we can't pay our bills or buy the kids the clothes they need, or get the kids into activities they should/need to participate in!!!!! My momma heart is having trouble to thinking about all this, let alone actually giving it a try.

Granted, the elimination diet itself is only about four weeks, before you start adding food (one food at a time) back into the diet. The diet has been successful for many, including a friend of mine. The part that gets me is the whole, you are probably sensitive to some kind of gluten and need to be strictly gluten free for at least six months to know. No cheating at all, even accidentally, or the six months, starts over.

There are some tests she would like to run, but she's not sure if my insurance will pay for them. (Insurance makes way more money off of sick people than they do healthy!) She'll be calling me soon to let me know.

So my hubby and I are up in the air with this. We both want and need for me to get better, but is it going to be financially responsible to our family to spend even more money on food. I don't know, but I guess it's something we have to figure out.

What would you do?

(By the way, the elimination diet is because of the belief and research that has been done that shows many times our health starts in our gut. If we can get our gut healthy, we will be healthy. That goes for all body systems and even mental disorders.)

This is a copy of the comprehensive elimination diet that is identical to the one my doctor gave me. Comprehensive Elimination Diet

Want to know more about functional medicine.