Why We Eat the Way We Eat
Since I’ve been talking a lot about the various food issues my family has, I thought I’d define it all in one place so that you all can make sense of some of my ramblings. This will help you to understand my meal plans and recipes much better.
Real Foods, Traditionally
First and foremost, we are a Real Foods family. We value the importance of eating food the way God created it and avoiding man-made “foods” as much as possible. I get a lot of inspiration from the Weston A. Price Foundation and all the information it puts out to inform and educate the public about health through a traditional diet. You will find much of “pop culture wisdom” challenged and many popular myths about health foods debunked. When I first encountered this information I was offended and appalled. At the time I was a “well-educated” vegan, or so I thought, and much of the nutrition information I encountered through WAP and it’s founder’s book Nourishing Traditions was totally counter to what I had ever learned. Eight years ago, when my health and my infant daughter’s health started failing due to malnutrition caused by my long term veganism, I revisited the Weston A Price Foundation’s website, located some Real Food resources in my area, and began a much healthier way of eating.
As a family, we follow the Feingold Program which is basically an elimination diet for people with many types of behavioral/neurological, learning and health issues. I’ve written about our family’s experience and why I am concerned about what we feed our children here. The Feingold diet eliminates all petroleum based food additives, like artificial colors, flavors and several preservatives. It also eliminates natural foods that contain natural chemicals called salicylates which can cause reactions in people who have a sensitivity.
One of our children, who had been diagnosed with ADHD, Sensory Processing Disorder and Oppositional Defiant Disorder, is now thriving on the Feingold diet. She has not had to have any medication for her issues because the symptoms that led to these diagnoses are GONE as long as we are being careful to keep her on the diet. That’s right, she is totally and completely normal with only dietary intervention. This is something to be excited about!
While only one of our children has had problems severe enough to cause disruption in normal functions, we have chosen to follow the Feingold Program as a family for the most part and have had great success.
After years of depression, chronic fatigue, general unwellness, and a bit of craziness, I have been on a healing journey. It started when I went to a specialist in natural hormone balancing thinking my problems were hormone related. After some testing we discovered that I am severely gluten intolerant…me, the one who bought wheat berries by the bucketful and ground all my own flour and made delicious whole wheat baked goods multiple times a week. Ugh! That was a hard pill to swallow. I was also diagnosed with hypoglycemia and adrenal fatigue, but my hormones seemed to check out fine.
So I set out on eating a gluten free diet, cutting out all forms of caffeine, eating on a 2 hour schedule and taking a boatload of supplements. I felt really good for a couple of months, but then crashed lower than I had been before. I couldn’t understand what had happened. I had been doing everything “right.”
Although the depression did not come back much, the fatigue did and with a vengence. Being a mommy to 4 young children is very hard for someone who can’t make it past lunchtime without crashing on the couch and taking a 4 hour nap in the middle of the afternoon. I fell back into the caffeine habit in order to stay even minimally functional and was soon depending on several cups of coffee in the morning and several more cups in the afternoon just to have the energy to make it through a day.
Through a set of circumstances that only God could have coordinated, what we thought was a growth on my thyroid (ended up being inflammed thyroid) was discovered that led to lots of blood tests, scans and a biopsy. The final diagnosis was chronic lymphocytic thyroiditis (Hashimoto’s disease) which is an autoimmune inflammatory thyroid disorder. My thyroid was already half way destroyed, actually atrophied away, and my doctor’s suggestion was to wait until it the destruction was complete and then go on thyroid meds for the rest of my life.
Needless to say, I found a new doctor as soon as I could. I found a doctor who believes that nothing in the body happens in isolation, everything is connected. Her take on how to treat my thyroid and return me to a normal state of wellness was to do a major liver detoxification to get my body working properly and then follow an anti-inflammation diet to reduce all inflammation in my body, including thyroid inflammation.
It has been 9 months since the first day of that liver detox and I look at that day as a new beginning of my physical life. At only a few weeks into the detox I finally felt alive for the first time in over 2 years. After the 6 week detox, I continued on the anti-inflammation diet with amazing results and continue on the diet, for the most part, to this day. Through some trial and error, I have added a few things back in with no detrimental results to my well-being. But I am still pretty restricted.
Here is my list of foods I avoid at this point to maintain my health: gluten (wheat, barley, rye, oats), dairy, soy, corn, peanuts, almonds and strawberries…as well as all foods that may contain traces of these.
Plans for the Future
I’ve been reading a lot about the GAPS diet the past several months and am very intrigued by the claims of complete and long term healing. Through reading the literature I see that most members of my family can benefit in some way from the GAPS diet. I’m still reading, planning, praying about it. Putting my family and myself on even more food restrictions is not at all appealing to me. But it is only temporary, whereas the elimination diets we are on right now are permanent. And the hope that by doing this very restrictive but only temporary diet we can all one day eat whatever we want with no ill effects is making GAPS look better and better to me every day. Many bloggers have gone on a GAPS challenge recently and I am keeping up with great interest. Quite possibly I’ll be blogging about our GAPS journey too sometime in the future.
So, there you have it. All of the above is why we eat the way we eat. Probably more than you wanted to know about me, but now you’ve got the whole picture of why I only use certain ingredients in my recipes and serve many of the same foods over and over again. I try to always make things that the whole family can enjoy together, but there are times when I’ll make something special that my kids love, like homemade pizza or homemade mac & cheese, and I find something else to eat.