A Place to Start Without Sugar or Starch

A Place to Start Without Sugar or Starch

Disclaimer

All recipes, ideas or thoughts about digestive health posted to this site are to be used at your own risk. I am simply sharing my journey to bring hope and encouragement to parents and individuals who are unsure about where to begin. I am still learning along with the rest of you!

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Possible Allergic Reaction From Handling Offensive Foods

Last night, a thought occurred to me regarding Parker's tendency to acquire a fever for a day without any other obvious symptoms. This has happened twice in the past few months.

Yesterday, he participated in holiday gingerbread making and homemade play dough at school. I instructed him not to eat anything, but his hands were in contact with the foods he is allergic to (milk, wheat, candy coated with food dye and full of sugar) for several hours. Although he did wake up with a headache, by the time he came home from school he was talkative and did not complain. However, at about 9pm, he spiked a fever of 101 degrees F, and was complaining of a headache again.

This morning, he had no fever, but was complaining of a headache and leg pain again.

I will note that the past couple of weeks have been tough on him. He has not had consistent sleep schedule and just finished as the star of the church Christmas Play. This is amazing given his history the past two years, and I didn't want a few compromises to his diet to hold him back. After all, his skin looks amazing and he has been in good spirits. However, his intake of "fast food" (aka--canned beans and pre-packaged gluten-free breads) has also increased.

All of this could have slowly worn down his immune system, thus leading to a "reaction" of sorts to the handling of flour, sugar, and milk throughout the day.

This is all conjecture, of course, but I thought I would put the idea out there in case anyone else has experienced strange symptoms that may be related to handling (but not ingesting) offensive foods.

NOTE: To be safe, I did take Parker to the doctor to cancel out infection such as strep throat. The nurse practitioner diagnosed an ear infection, though his other symptoms of neck ache, sore throat, and leg pain do not seem to coincide.


Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Maintaining Health Using a Combo of Paleo and Limited Starch/Gluten-Free Alternatives

We've gotten into a good routine since school began in August. Parker is doing awesome, is full of energy and his skin looks great. He is ounces away from hitting 60 pounds and his teachers say he is a great student who contributes and interacts regularly.

I am so thankful for the many resources out there that have helped me in this journey. Recently, a few readers have contacted me asking for my interpretation of enzyme levels for themselves or others. Somewhere in the blog archives I think I addressed this, but I will explain my perspective on the issue to be clear.

I am not a scientist or a doctor. However, since my family has personally found success in modifying our diet with a primary focus on individual symptoms rather than enzyme levels, I am encouraging my audience to do the same. Yes, enzyme levels may indicate overall tolerance levels, but it seems each person has many other factors aside from digestive enzymes that can play a part. The goal is to reduce digestive stress, strengthen the digestive process by minimizing toxins and processed foods and including support-based supplements, and to monitor each person for symptoms.

Here is a look back to how the current challenge in our CSID journey began.

May 2013: Parker, age 9 had been suffering from severe eczema since December despite the modified diet I had created (see A Place to Start without Sugar or Starch). Unknown factors surfaced at this time including a lack of Parker taking his digestive supplements with cafeteria-based school lunches. I took Parker to the doctor for the 4th or 5th time and requested an allergy panel to determine if he was reacting to additional foods. The allergy panel came back showing he was now allergic to MILK, WHEAT, EGG WHITES, SHRIMP, COCKROACHES, CEDAR and GRASS POLLEN, CAT and DOG HAIR and DANDER, and PENICILLIN. A previous allergy test when he was six had come back negative for allergies to all of these so this was a new development.

My whole approach had to change. Not only did I need to now eliminate several more foods (milk and eggs had been a staple in his diet up to this point), I also had to find ways to bring healing to his body. Over the years I had learned about conditions such as "leaky gut" that could cause temporary food allergies as well as autoimmune conditions. Not one to simply cover-up symptoms, I was determined to bring my son--once again--into a state of health and well-being by getting to the root of the cause.

REVIEW 2013 POSTS for details on the process and how I ultimately found the best combination for healing Parker's condition. Time alone was a major factor, but I want to encourage anyone if they stay the course, and keep trying various means, there is hope of healing in the end!

Over the past couple of months, Parker's symptoms have remained under control event though I have made some exceptions and compromises to his once strict diet. To give hope, I want to summarize his current diet, but please know that EACH PERSON IS DIFFERENT. There are too many factors involved to know these particular foods can all be okay for your individual case. However, know that it is possible to expand the diet once symptoms are under control and methods for curbing mild outbreaks or digestive distress are at hand.

In a typical week, Parker's normal diet currently includes one of the following for each meal:

BREAKFAST:

  • My homemade NUT CEREAL (raw almonds, cashews, pecans, walnuts plus dates, raw unsweetened coconut, spoonful of honey and cinnamon, and coconut oil pulsed in food processor until it looks like granola) with unsweetened almond milk.
  • Nature's Path Organic PUMPKIN FLAX GRANOLA with unsweetened almond milk plus VITAL-ZYMES.
  • APPLEGATE FARMS NATURAL SUNDAY BACON, white sweet potato peeled, shredded, and fried in bacon fat, omelet-style eggs yolks with a drizzle of pure maple syrup PLUS vital-zymes
  • SMOOTHIE with frozen blueberries, banana, whole-fat coconut milk (organic Thai Kitchen in a can), half avocado and a handful of greens such as kale or spinach.
  • Occasionally Van's Gluten-Free pancake or waffles. (NOTE: No more than 2x per week or he begins to show symptoms.)
LUNCH: (Vital-Zymes with every meal containing sugar or starch alternatives)
  • Minimum of 3 non-starchy vegetables (cucumber, spinach, carrots, bell pepper, avocado, tomato)
  • 1 semi-sweet fruit (fruit leather, strawberries, applesauce, pear, apple or grape juice)
  • 1 starch substitute (Schar gluten-free classic rolls, brown rice tortilla, left-over brown rice pasta)
  • Nuts in either a snack-bar form or loose. (Almonds, cashews, walnuts)
  • Occasional exception of organic peanut butter for use with celery or apple slices.
  • Sweet Potato chips, Veggie Sticks
  • APPLEGATE farms deli meats either loose or in a sandwich roll or wrap. Salami, roasted turkey and roast beef are his favorite. He uses mashed avocado as a "mayonnaise substitute". I am trying to get him to try mustard, but he won't.
  • Left-over chicken, hamburgers, steak, etc. from previous nights dinner with tossed salad and lemon juice dressing.
  • Wild canned salmon, trout, or tuna with only water or oil (no soy or broth.)
DINNER:
  • Variety of baked or cooked chicken, turkey breast, salmon, sirloin beef burgers, Applegate farms beef hot dogs, pork, ground turkey or grass fed beef.
  • Rice pasta, baked or fried (in olive oil or meat fat) potatoes (white sweet, white regular, red), brown rice or no starch.
  • steamed non-starchy vegetables--green beans, broccoli, carrots, cauliflower, winter or summer squash
  • fresh tossed salad with leafy greens, lettuce and a variety of other vegetables
We have tried corn-based products a few times but Parker seems to break out in a rash within a day or so. Some of the above products have traces of corn and don't seem to present a problem. We also avoid soy products for various reasons but as more of a preference than an necessity.

If Parker begins showing signs of distress (rashes, excess gas, sleeping late, difficulty concentrating) the first thing I do is reduce or eliminate the starchy substitutes (gluten-free foods, grains, potatoes). Then I add a few cups of herbal healing teas (Dandelion tea, Traditional Medicines "Throat Coat", peppermint and/or chamomile teas) through the week for internal assistance, and apply a thin layer of his prescription eczema cream to inflamed patches of skin. Within 48 hours, these techniques have reversed any symptoms and Parker returns to normal.

Frequent showers and applying protective lotions have also been important in reducing external irritating factors.

I hope this update will help you! I am not sure when I will be back again, as I am in the process of final edits for my fiction book set to release in April of 2015. Eventually, I plan to pull A Place to Start Without Sugar or Starch, complete a full-revision and republish with our updated story, recipes, and resources. It will eventually be less of a "recipe book" and more of an encouraging guide for parents to know they are not alone and to point them in the direction of the many resources I have found helpful and healing in our own journey.





Thursday, April 17, 2014

What My Son's Eczema Has Taught Me About Parenting a Child with Unique Needs

(NOTE: This is a duplicate blog post originally published on www.SacramentoParent.com in October 2013. I am sharing it here to reach a broader audience.)

My nine-year old has faced many health challenges in his life, including failure-to-thrive as an infant, seizures through age 4, and food intolerance. However, more recently he has acquired chronic and severe eczema. The last flare-up lasted over six-months due to unknown environmental and food allergies.

My husband and I often ask ourselves why Parker--with the heart and attitude of an angel--must suffer so much. He just wants to be a normal kid and do the things normal kids do.

When his rash began to spread up his neck and onto his face, he also had to endure stares from his classmates and constant comments from strangers such as "Ooo...bad sunburn!" or "What'd he get into?" I even caught a grocery bagger coming up behind us to "sanitize the aisle" after a shopping trip where he was particularly irritated and scratching non-stop as we stood in line.

Thankfully, I was able to pinpoint a few major triggers and after a lot of research, discovered the perfect and individualized combination of natural and prescription remedies to help him heal both inside and out.

After making the difficult and challenging choice to homeschool him for the remainder of the school year, we began finally seeing his condition improve. Today, I am happy to announce my 9-year-old looks great and is back to his old goofy self. He sings and dances in the bathroom as I apply all his creams and ointments post-shower. He can't wait to be Hawkeye for Halloween and told me earlier this week, "Mom, I do NOT want to be that house that doesn't give out candy just because I can't have any!" As soon as he is up for a break from his schoolwork, he is running around the house practicing shooting his arrows.

So what I have learned from all of this?

1. Maybe it's obvious, but children are resilient. No matter how awful he felt or looked, Parker would still tag along with me on errands, and even to work when needed. Sure, there was a point where he watched a lot of T.V. and didn't do much. But as soon as his energy returned he was up and ready to face the world. A day doesn't pass without several hugs and smiles. He knows intuitively I have done all I have in my power to help him get better.

2. People will stare but we don't have to care. Parker seemed completely oblivious to the looks he got when we were out in public. He didn't try to "hide" himself and on his good days, actually drew attention singing along to the radio, or making sure I understood exactly which sports car he liked in the parking lot.

3. There is only so much we can do as parents; the rest we have to let go. There is a part of me that wants Parker to get better for good. I am tired of micro-managing every piece of food that touches his mouth and being concerned about his exposure to dust or hair or chemicals in the air. But stressing about all of it just puts everyone in a bad mood. I have my arsenal of remedies at hand, and have resolved to take action as soon as I see a problem arise--instead of going crazy trying to prevent a flare-up in the first place.

4. Normal is a state of mind. What is "normal" anyway? Normal isn't always a good thing, or even a great thing. As parents of children with unique needs, our normal may look different, but it is still normal to us. So what if we can't participate in gorging all the Halloween candy next week. At this point, Parker is too excited about trading in his candy for tickets to see Thor to care!