Monday, November 2, 2009

Feeling Defeated

Well after our weekend of fun… we have spent the last week and a half not following our eating guidelines diligently. We have had Pizza twice, Chinese, Wendy’s, Burger King, and another place or to. Geese! But they all tasted sooooo good! Once you have goofed up a little bit does it matter if you do it again?  Then again, and again, and… Now we are back to square one. Our first month and we didn’t even finish it out.

Dad is fed up with having to find and make special foods, and he is not seeing enough of a difference. I understand his frustration. I truly do, and I also know that it takes a long time to possibly see a difference. I had begun to worry when we would see that difference. Or maybe it would be gradual and one day we just realize things had changed? Now that these children have had regular preservative and additive laden food I think I see a difference. There seems to be more sibling fighting, more upset tears, more of our youngest blow-ups and frustrations. I may be seeing more into this but I really do think that it was beginning to make a difference.

I console myself by stating that Halloween is this weekend and we decided the kids had to be able to trick-or-treat. They were going to make a deal with us and get only some of their candy (more later). They are going to be eating candy and treats so a few more days off then we will start again. But this is October, next month is November with Thanksgiving and then we have Christmas. UGHHH!!!! I think we just picked a very hard time to start thinking about this diet. It is a hard time to find replacements and make adjustments for us and those around us. How can we convince our families that we need to keep up this special way of eating if they cannot see a difference.

My husband wants to stop the diet. In fact he bought regular bread and groceries last night at the store. I was at the Dr’s (GP) office today and brought it up with him. He said that he didn’t know if it would make a difference but try it and see. He also said something to the effect of… You never know some things that we didn’t think were big nor had an impact in the past are now turning out to be big. Diets can have a large impact. But he did bring up that no one in our family has been diagnosed with Celiac Disease so he didn’t think it would be his first choice of action. And he said to make sure they stayed on a good multivitamin.

We are all taking a good multivitamin with no artificial ingredients or additives. The kids also take an Omega 3 supplement and a Calcium & Vitamin D supplement. So maybe we have a good start to this and we will take some time off. As much as I hate to think of it, maybe we are going to have to only be half on the diet till after Christmas.  No results will be seen soon!

So I sign of today… Frustrated, disappointed, and deliberating.

First Outing

We bought a new travel trailer and decided to go camping before the weather turned cold. Along with my parents, the adoring Papa Jerry and Gamma Jane, we headed to Nebraska National Forest (4 1/2 hours away) for a long weekend on October 15th. We planned meals, and thought out what we would bring. We brought frozen waffles by Van’s (which are great by the way) oatmeal, trusty cereal, and lots of eggs for breakfast. We packed lots of vegetables and fruit, and meats for each meal. We brought one loaf of bread and premixed flour with fix’ns for another loaf. We packed drinks, and rice milk, coffee, and Mimiccreme for mommy’s coffee. You have to roast marshmallows and I couldn’t find any non-high fructose corn syrup ones, so we just used the old back up. We brought some chocolate (non-milk kind) and S’moreables graham cracker substitute to make smores. Again we felt very prepared when we left home with all of our food stocked. Or so we thought.

We left the house late on Thursday night, after packing clothing and odd tidbits at the last minute. Ran a few errands and it was 8:00 before we knew it. We wanted to get on the road and still needed to eat something. We went to Burger King with my parents. Everyone wanted to get their old favorites, but nothing was acceptable on our new diet… Chicken sandwich, whopper, cheeseburger, french fries… A comment from mom ‘that’s not on our diet” and a quick look of disgust from dad… they all got their old favorites. One time, could it really hurt?

On the four and a half hour drive out there they watched a movie and fell asleep. It was not too bad for eating sake. The campsite set up nicely especially for our first time and doing it in the dark. The next few days were well… food wise… we had cross contamination from my parents regular bread, but otherwise pretty good. The behavior and the accidents were another story all together.

I cut my finger on Friday morning opening a bag of cereal. Note – put scissors in camper! A few hours later our eight year old daughter scratched her cornea. We ended up at the ER in a Broken Bow, over an hour away. Friday ended alright with a card game and snack food session for the parents. Poor kids we didn’t let them have BBQ chips or Nut Rolls. It didn’t seem too bad for them.

On Saturday we baked meatloaf and bread in the oven. Note – must bake bread in full oven!

After lunch my husband and I went for a ride on the 4-wheelers. We got lost! Four hours later, just after sun set, we made it to the campsite with gas tanks that should have run out of gas long before we made it back. That night our daughter came down with a fever and her eye was bothering her terribly.

But the worst was the ride home. We are used to getting snacks and drinks at the gas station. We had to stop twice and all the kids, including Dad, were winning that they wanted something to eat. We ended up spending $2 on a little bottle of apple juice for each child as this was the only item with no additives. Snacks? Well we ended up getting some peanuts for them, but they wanted some of Mom and Dad’s chocolate covered peanuts. Not a good situation. They were acting up something awful all the way home.

This post is not about the diet as much as it is about frustrations. It was our first adventure away from home. Sticking to the specialty foods was difficult but I consider us still in the learning phase of this diet. For me the most difficult thing was the calamity of errors or accidents or whatever you want to call them. In general things that went wrong. When you get to your wits end with all those little things you don’t have the energy to fight for anything else.  All in all not horrible for our first weekend away from home.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

The First Few Days

I backed homemade bread the night before. It was Gluten Free Pantry’s White sandwich bread (or something similar to that). I noticed in the store that it said contained some milk, but I thought that would be from adding the butter. When I called the company they said it already had a small amount in it from production. Too bad, because this bread was delicious! I made some peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, packed some Glutino vanilla wafer cookies (containing milk), an apple, and a bottle of water.

Our oldest was up before almost everyone and out the door to high school before we could say anything. Which is really not uncommon, she is up and out so early. As a general rule our house is a group of six late sleepers.

The three grade schoolers’ were excited to try the Ian’s French Toast sticks. So I put them in the oven and soon we smelled a delightful aroma of cinnamon. They didn’t look as things we had eaten in the past, so I was a bit worried about the reaction I would receive. The loved them! No joke, they really really liked them. I made little portions of maple syrup for them to dip in and they went fast. With three children eating four each we used almost the whole box.

I sent them off with strict instructions not to eat snacks at school, the school lunch, or snacks aster school. They all agreed and then were out the door. I continued to get ready for my new part time job. What a way to start something like this; I must be crazy!

Later that night everyone came home and Dad I went to the store for some things. I took him to the Gluten free section of the health market. The second thing out of his mouth was “Gods that’s expensive!” I showed him some of the things I had purchased for the kids and some other items I thought would be good to have. He was not too impressed. We bought lots of fresh fruit, some fresh ground peanut butter, and some hamburger.

We ended up being out for a few hours. Tired and not feeling up to cooking I talked him into getting Chinese food. Not something on the diet! Soy sauce, breading on chicken, red sweet and sour sauce, crab Rangoon… but it was amazingly wonderful! Must be because I knew we could not have it again. I thought “one last time, one last slip-up, what could it hurt, they don’t put MSG in their food”.

The second day wasn’t much better. Cereal on the go out the door, homemade lunches again, and then a dinner of leftovers that was from before we started the diet. I didn’t want to waste the food.

The Third day was Saturday. The 16 year old had Homcoming and dinner out with friends.  She wasn't really to happy when i told to watch what she was eating; how possible was that going to be?  Dad had the kids until after lunch while I worked. He told me later how frustrated he was. They took our eight year old girl to dance class. While she was there he wanted to follow our old routine and get some pizza upstairs from the studio at Lanskeys. He said “I felt like I couldn’t do anything because of the diet!” I understand what he was feeling. In fact I can feel the same way at times. We have so much to learn and so much to try out still; after all we are just beginning. I did take the kids to Whole Foods and we had some sorbet. They were terribly unruly in the store, and it made me remember why I wanted to try this diet. If it improves the uncontrolled behaviors, the fits, the repeating words (for the youngest), or the obnoxious things that get under my skin I will be a much happier mum! We have tried so many behavioral things, and currently we are working hard at catching them being good, and positive comments. It seems that sometimes no matter what you do – there is no control! Especially with our youngest who may have Aspergers; I am always reminding myself that his brain processes the information differently. Again I am off to rant-ville…

Today, Sunday, seemed to go a little better. Breakfast was easy, cereal for each as they got up. The kids all snacked for lunch while Mom and Dad were shopping for things at three different stores. We bought some containers to store the new flours, and flour blends in the fridge. Dad was frustrated with me about their purchase “is it really necessary?” Then again at the grocery store Dad was frustrated. The diet takes the cost of food up, and we can’t buy so many things that we have wanted in the past. It is a new way to look at things. I was very proud of him when he had a conversation with our seven year old son regarding our new eating habits. Our son said something to the effect of, when the diet is over we can have something. Dad replied with, “this is a change of life, in the way we are eating for a long time it will make us healthier and happier”. I was so amazed! At times I feel like I don’t have the support and this is really upsetting him, and then he does something like this.

We still have so many things in the house that either have gluten, trace amounts of soy, or dairy in them. I have spices that I haven’t had time to call about. In general I feel so unprepared. I know that I took over a month to get ready, reading, buying, taste testing, and organizing. I also think that we have not been as diligent as we should be. I feel that for the most part we can strive to get rid of these things, but I don’t want to waste all the things that we still have. I’m sure that this will make it longer till we see the benefits from the changes in what we eat. Eventually we will be totally GFCFSF and artificial everything free.

Preparing to begin

We decided the last week of August that we were going to try this special (GFCF) diet. I read you should start cold turkey so…

My journey began on September 2nd. I cleaned out our cupboards and made a list of what we had left that had gluten, casein or any dairy, soy, or artificial ingredients. I was amazed what I found. I am a person that cleans out the fridge often, almost weekly, but I never thought to clean out the cupboards. I was more amazed to find the expired items. I had Jello that had expired in 2001 and it was 2009, “What the ….!”. I had canned goods that were expired, and countless items that I am sure we should not have been eating to begin with. Mostly boxed, comfort, generally often used foods by most people. We had been eliminating high fructose corn sugar (HFCS) for a long time and I found several old items in the cupboards. Needless to say I was quite taken back. Believe me I told all my friends to get support; I was expecting a response along the lines of… “I never thought o f that”, I’m sure I have those things to”, “I’m going to look through my cupboards”. No what I heard was that two of my friends went through their cupboards every so often. Another maintained almost permanently bare cupboards, shopping market style for most meals that day or a few days in advance. It is actually kind of funny now that I look back on it.

That night I had many things, okay almost all of my cupboards, out on the counter. Well, aside from the two garbage bags I had filled from the expired or unacceptable to keep foods. I made phone calls to three food manufactures; Kraft was one call for many, many items. I rearranged my cupboards so that all the food we needed to finish up was on three shelves, and the stuff we could keep on our new diet in other areas. I made a list late that night of all these things we had to finish up before we could be GFCF. I decided how to make things into meals for the family. I would need to get a few things of course to make the meals complete. I calculated that it would be a little over two weeks and then all the gluten, casein, and soy food would be gone.

I didn’t get to the spice collection; it was going to have to wait for another time. I am still scared to tackle this one. Most labels don’t tell you exactly what is in them and I have always struggled with this, but I am officially scared to call each manufacturer. We have one cupboard shelf with spices, food flavorings, and backing additives. I love to bake and make wonderful meals and the idea of giving this pleasure up is a hard thing for me.

Side note- I have to be honest. I love it! Love it!!! When I make something and my family devours the dish. When they make the comments about how good it is, and that no one makes it this good. I love my Mother-in-law dearly, but it is awesome when my husband says “this is better than my mom’s”!! I will still want to get these comments while we explore these new foods.

A few days later I mentioned the new diet to some teachers at school and the principle. I wanted to let everyone, all that I could think of at the moment, know about what we would be embarking on. I wanted to find some options for the kids and pull it all together. I went so far as talking to the lunch lady and looking at their recipes for school lunches. Most of which were not bad, but they would be off limits for my children. The full ramifications were starting to set-in. This is not something that a lot of people are doing, in fact only a few in the area have a medically documented necessity The principal, who is incredible, said I could prepare some cupcakes and bring them to school to store for birthday or holiday parties. Teachers agreed to store and dispense snacks sent from home for the three younger grade school children. My teenager was slowly coming around to the idea of watching what she eats and bringing things from home. A few days into my planning I was feeling really good and really excited about what we might gain. I started this blog and then as usual we started getting busy!

We ate out for “our last time” several times. We had a few birthday parties, a football game (Go Huskers!!), and nights that we were so far behind that we hit Wendy’s or McDonalds. Then Dad got the idea that we should start on a date; October 1st. We agreed and it was set one and a half weeks to go.

Now here we are on October 1st and we didn’t ever finish all of that food (two and a half weeks worth). But I digress, this is for our first day blog, I did do some other things to prepare.

I was determined to find replacements for all the foods that we were going to be giving up. I wanted this to be a positive experience for the kids. I wanted them to see this as something that was good for them and not as a punishment.

We finished our cereal, so I bought GFCF cereals. The kids had had some before, Gorilla Munch and others from Envirokidz brand. The kids do love them. We bought Ian’s French toast sticks (mostly for my son Ian), and some snack foods. After we all fell in love with our Glutino snacks we discovered that they had a small amount of milk in them. We still ate the rest and got a few more boxes; they are so delicious.

I bought Rice Dream because it was on sale ($1.49 off), only to learn that it has a small amount of soy. Fortunately the grocery store let me return all eight of them.

I found MimicCreme, a nut derived substitute for crème. I bought several of these from Amazon. I have only tried it in my coffee so far. I thought it was pretty good as it added a bit of a nutty flavor. I have heard that it is great in recipes so I am anxious to try it.

I’m not quite sure what to do about our toaster. I have read that other people buy a new one to prevent cross contamination. We have a really nice toaster that fits four slices, but the slices are in two long lines instead of four slots next to each other. I would like to figure out some way to sterilize it rather than throw it away.

Lunches? We need to figure out more things for lunch as well. My 16 year old is complaining to me right now!

I am still reading other peoples blogs because I’m sure they have more experience. Let me know if you have any good insight.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Research, Redesign, and Research Some More

Research, research, research and more research! Read, read, and more reading! I feel as if that is all that I have been doing for about a month now. I don’t know if anyone has prepared more for something like this. Maybe I really am as anal as I accuse my husband of being.
It all started with a magazine article on Jenny McCarthy and a conversation with a friend. “I have thought about a gluten free diet before” I said as I tried to hide the embarrassment I felt. Good friends always have a way of putting you in the corner, when you need to be sent there. I didn’t have any good reasons why I didn’t know certain answers, or why I hadn’t tried to look more things up. I went home and begun my research the next morning; really at my first opportunity.

A simple Google search for “Jenny McCarthy” and “gluten free” gave me so many options. Two days later I had a lot to think about. I spoke with my husband, we read some things together, and then he said “Well, let’s give it a try.” “The whole family?” I asked. “Let’s do it for a month and if it doesn’t work then we are back to normal”. That was all I needed… my mind was off running. Was he as fed up with the behavior and dead ends as I was? I started reading some more, sent some emails out asking for guidance, and began preparing our home. If we only had one month I wanted to give it the best try I could muster.

After much debate, mostly in my head, we decided to try the GFCF diet (gluten free casein free). We are also going to continue to eliminate the High Fructose Corn Syrup and artificial preservatives and dyes in the food. As I began to realize how much this was going to change our eating habits I also started worrying. What would be able to eat? This was going to change everything!

Months ago I spoke with a nutritionist at a local grocery store regarding what we would need to change to eliminate gluten only. So this time I went deeper into the research. I have spent countless hours reading other blogs on the net, I have had a few email discussions, called manufacturers, and have read one book all about this new diet. I have purchased two new cookbooks and a few new food items. I have come across some interesting ideas and solutions from other people, but still have so much to learn. I decided to add Soy to our avoid list, after reading how some children may have reactions to it as well. I also noted that many people stated three months to be the optimum trial period, so we will be shooting for three whole months. I am sure that more things will change as I begin our preparations.

We have talked about this as a family and my oldest daughter (16) asked "So Mom, what can we eat?"  I quickly said "Lots of fruits and vegetables, and homemade things."  They really didn't like it when I told them we would not be eating out at all.  Slowly they are all five, father included, coming around to the idea of changing what we eat.

I am getting excited! I have ordered a few things online and I get so excited when they come. Opening my most recent shipment, MimicCreme, I felt like a kid in the candy store.

So now I’m off to research and prepare some more…

Monday, September 14, 2009

Why do we need to restrict what we eat?

I have been thinking about going Gluten free for over a year. While researching options for our youngest son I came across the idea. We have two children with diagnosed ADHD, our 16yr old girl and 7yr old boy. We are not sure what a final diagnosis will be in our youngest son who just turned five. A few weeks ago he was evaluated, in a short visit, and we were told he has OCD, ADHD, is socially immature, possible langue delay, and... Sounded like they confirmed my suspicion of Asperger's Syndrome, but didn't want to give him this formal diagnosis. It was recommended that he receive intensive therapy, 3 hours of therapy everyday for 52 sessions. There is a long wait list so we are waiting and looking into other options.

I have read from multiple sources that a Gluten Free Casein Free diet may be a great option for autistic and ADHD children. It may eliminate some of the behaviors that three of our kids have; it may increase concentration and impulse control. Any improvement would really help! The specific things we are working on with our youngest boy are numerous and frustrating. Most of which is his inability to realize when he is in trouble and we become extremely frustrated with him. He just doesn't get it, most of the time.

My husband and I have talked about it numerous times, but now he is willing to do this with me. You never know what is affecting all six of us, so we are going to do this as a family and see what happens. About a year and a half ago we eliminated high fructose corn syrup from almost everything we ate. We have worked a small amount on eliminating artificial food coloring and flavorings. But this is going to be a complete and total change, changing everything that we ingest. We will begin with no gluten (meaning none of the normal grains, bagels, breads, cereal, crackers…), no dairy, no soy, and absolutely no artificial food colorings or flavorings. After one to three months we will reevaluate.

I am getting excited. At first I thought we are not going to be able to eat anything. But… I am researching options for us to use as substitutes for the things we love to eat. I have been slowly telling all our friends and relatives about the journey we are embarking on.

Please follow as I post our trials and errors, and maybe a frustration or two.