the end of forbidden fruit

Summer is in full swing, and two baby boys are still cooking and ready to enter this world in just a couple of short months! (And not before then, please. Keep growing boys, and stay in there!) Summer is so much better than the school year, and a large part of that is the “no school” part (for me). I felt so much pressure all year to have the girls reading “better”, writing “better”, and constantly living up to some outside standard. So many outside standards, in fact, it was making my head spin! The standard at summer camp is pretty simple… respect others, respect property, for god’s sake eat at least part of your lunch/don’t whine about how hungry you are later when you didn’t eat any lunch, and have fun!!!

I see so much growth in M, already. The freedom from being locked up in a classroom full of academic expectations has allowed so much of the best of who she is to come out. I’m not saying she’s a little angel suddenly, or that her special needs went away. We’re just not constantly shoving her square peg into anyone’s round hole! Another area of growth we’ve discovered (and discussed as parents, ad nauseam) is her ability to eat “junk food” without staying up for 36 hours on end, jumping off walls with glazed-over eyes. And thank god, because at 6 years old, away at summer camps, I just can’t micromanage what she eats. And my intensely social child wants to eat what everyone else is eating, which happens to be red koolaid and goldfish.

So we are allowing her to control what she eats outside of our home, with the understanding that our family does not buy or cook with or serve artificial dye, but these foods may be available at events. She has basically done what any hyper-controlled kid does when they are allowed to eat something forbidden… stuffed her face with as many ice-pops, cookies, and goldfish as she can get her hands on. And honestly, I’ve been waiting for the axe to fall… for freaking out, long restless nights, tantrums out of the ordinary. But nothing. She’s eaten it. Boldly stated she’s eaten it, to see what we’d do. Then we’ve gone about our business pretty much as usual.

So, apparently I no longer have to be the ultra-uncool uptight parent at every party and festival guarding my child against food dyes like my full-night’s sleep depends on it! Hooray! (In case it isn’t clear, though, I thoroughly disapprove of artificial dyes in any type of food or drink, and will continue to support brands and companies that use natural ingredients with all my dollars and words.) But if you didn’t know, schools and camps do a terrible job of guarding kids with food allergies from said foods, and I’m super glad that I don’t need to go ape-shit every time I find out my kid put a piece of candy in her mouth!

My hope is that, in time, this forbidden stuff will no longer seem so great to her, and she will internalize our family’s overall values of healthy, clean foods. Right now, though, I just have to squeeze my eyes shut and be a model through example. It’s the best way with the least immediate results!


split peas are not a win

I made such a delicious split pea soup last night, with a side of honey/butter GF cornbread. I was so disappointed that it was pretty much gone after the family had eaten, I was hoping for leftovers! Today, however, I’m so bloated and gassy it’s gross. I guess legumes are not my friend, at least not in heaping bowlfuls.

Another thing that has not been my friend recently is my Instant Pot. It leaks steam, doesn’t seem to seal correctly, and when it finally does seal, the additional warming time is causing things to dry out. Quite possibly I need to replace the rubber ring on the lid, I think it may be stretched out.

I’m going to make a batch of my favorite almond butter Flour-less Chocolate Chip Cookies to take to work I think. I’m hoping to share my new love of healthier food options with more people, and I brought up these cookies with co-workers and the result was a great interest. These are absolutely my favorite “healthy” baked good alternatives so far, really satisfying my sweet-tooth!

I’m still hovering at 9 lb weight loss, with fluctuations bringing me to that 10 lb mark sometimes. I have fallen off the wagon with the work outs… somebody pull me back on!

birthday bashes

My only “cheat” during the week of my six-year-old’s birthday celebrations was a few pieces of gluten-free pizza, and a taste of the birthday cake (not worth a whole piece, since learning about my horrible sugar crash tendencies). It all went off just fine, and my dye-sensitive child even did pretty well eating mostly her GF cake, dye-free frostings, chocolates, and a few pieces that did have dye (she guiltily admitted to me). She held it all together even though her first/birth mom surprised her (this could’ve been a recipe for an understandable fit of anxiety) with a limo and spent the party with her. It ended up making her super happy! There may still be some emotional fall-out, but it hasn’t occurred yet, and she had a super fun party at her horse stables, with her favorite friends from school and horseback riding, and of course, her big sister.

The only awkward moment was when, after she had asked birth mom about her bio dad (whose whereabouts are unknown), she thought that the limo driver was the dad in question, and burst into the party room exclaiming to me, “Mom! I have a daddy, I do!” I said calmly, “well let’s talk about that in a little while, first we need to have your cake” and she was sufficiently distracted from the topic in front of all 20 something guests! #adoption

Last week I had a lot of potato broccoli soup  (recipe in link), and tried out a different local grocery store to see what they had by way of organic stuff. Not much, honestly. We took the only two organic broccoli heads they had, and I was completely unable to find organic rbst-free greek yogurt. The soup was great, though, and if you’re going to follow the recipe above, I’ll just note that I used 4 cups of broth and 4 cups of water (as opposed to bouillon) and there’s no need to blanch some of the broccoli ahead of the soup if you’re ok with the soup just being blended or creamy, as opposed to having solid broccoli pieces. I feel like it just adds an extra step, and I sure don’t have time for that!


down ten pounds!

Today I hit 152, down ten pounds from my starting weight of 162! That’s two pounds away from the “obese” BMI category, for whatever that’s worth. In any case, I’m happy that 5 weeks and 2 days after changing the way I eat to eliminate ALL non-natural ingredients, the weight is falling off. I do some workouts on fitness blender, but honestly not as often as I should. This is all diet, right now. If I was more committed to working out no doubt the weight loss would be more. What’s important is my commitment to this as a way of life. I had my first “cheat” last night, on my daughter’s 6th birthday, when I ate some GF pizza. It wasn’t organic, and it wasn’t homemade. God knows what was in it. At least it didn’t have sugar! I avoided the ice cream, knowing that a sugar crash can really do me in. My daughter chose to go to an all-natural gelato shop, meaning no artificial dyes or preservatives in the ice cream. I was super happy about that, organic or not, and they even had gluten free waffle cones. It may not be 100%, but it was 50%. So we’ll take it! Robyn O’brien says, “Don’t make the perfect the enemy of the good.” So her birthday was that much healthier, and I’m proud of it. For her actual party on Saturday, her birthday cake will at least be dairy and artificial dye-free. (I say dairy because at least we then know it won’t have non-organic dairy, meaning antibiotic and hormones in it.)

But back to the fact that, hey, I have a six-year-old! I can hardly believe it. She stayed up til bedtime putting together her new lego set. On her own! I seriously didn’t know she could do that without help. Gosh. I’m full of pride for her growth, and nostalgia for that cute baby I snuggled for years.

urban remedy to the rescue

I was saved from hunger pains last night as I left work by Urban Remedy, an all-natural organic brand of convenience foods. I almost always get hungry when I’m finishing a shift and walking out of work, and I used to remedy this with something from the cafeteria. Sometimes a grilled cheese, usually a healthier option like baked chicken or stuffed peppers and a side of vegetables. My workplace actually offers very healthy fare. Even so, the oils they use to cook it are probably canola/vegetable oil (and thus, GMO) and the vegetables aren’t organic, let alone the meat. So that was not an option. I thought I’d probably just have to starve all the way home (my commute is sometimes over an hour long), but I thought I’d peek in there and see if just by any chance there would be something organic, anything at all. And there it was, the Urban Remedy kiosk! Pad thai, burrito bowl, lots of salads, drinks, and snacks… every single one of them certified USDA organic, GMO free, and not a single unrecognizable or unnatural ingredient to be seen. I went with the burrito bowl (fresh salad and half an avocado, sprouted brown rice, black beans, pico de gallo, and a delicious vegan “nacho cheese” made of cashews that I could eat like soup!). The price tag, well, was $11. I thought about all the money I have saved, though, not buying my morning coffee there ($2.50) or my evening meal there (usually upwards of $10). This was the same price as the food and red bull I was buying there before! And way way way better for me.


Today the cleaners came (yes, we are precious like that and have house cleaners, which is something I never, ever thought I’d be able to say), and one of them asked me if I’ve lost weight! I’m thrilled to be looking noticeably different to someone who sees me for maybe 5 minutes twice per month. Although I haven’t lost a single pound more since the first 10 days, neither have I gained, nor has my heartburn returned. I think the 2nd week weight plateau is definitely a thing, and I’m pushing on. It’s not all about weight… my body feels a bit rearranged. Clothing fits better, my face seems thinner. I have done some weight training as part of my fitness blender, too, so my arms and legs are feeling stronger. I’m definitely more flexible!

My headaches, though, they continue. I was put on topamax as a migraine prophylactic, and that coincided with my first week of eating clean. I wasn’t sure if it was the detox/candida die off, or the new med, making me so drowsy, so I stopped the med. I think it was the former, not the latter, so I’m starting the med again. I’m still very tired at bedtime, and in the morning (this is probably just who I’m gonna be for life), but I’ve noticed much more alertness and wakefulness during the day!

Except when I drank a smoothie the other day… my daughter begged me for a smoothie, so she got her fruit smoothie at Jamba Juice, and I had my first indulgence since starting this food thing. A peanut butter moo’d smoothie, my old favorite. Well, there was enough sugar in that thing that I couldn’t even finish it. About 30 minutes after I stopped drinking it, I felt drunk, my eyelids heavy, drowsy as fuck. I had to lie down and close my eyes for an hour! Talk about a sugar crash. Going from almost no sugar (except for what’s in fruit/honey) to that smoothie was waaaay too much for my system. And I think that may be a good thing!

I’m back!

It’s been a while, blogging world! For years I was a foster parent blogger, a baby loss blogger, an adoptive mom blogger, a mom blogging about parenting a child with attachment disorder and hyperactivity (she’s doing amazing, by the way). I last left you with a happy post about meeting my destiny in the city by the sea. In that time we’ve settled down into life, and I’ve returned to my passion for healthy eating, respectful parenting, exploring and adventuring with kids, and being a critical care nurse in yet another top ten hospital. Can you believe in a matter of years my life changed so completely, and yet here I am still pursuing these same passions, this time as a happily married mom of two and hopefully more down the road!

Let’s just jump right in: I’m on day 21 of the most radical eating change I’ve ever undertaken. I’m avoiding all foods that contain artificial, GMO, or chemical ingredients. And I haven’t cheated once! I’m also drinking teaspoon of apple cider vinegar each morning, not eating after 8pm, and have even cut out even organic added sugar in most things, including my morning coffee! I experienced the Candida die-off from hell the first ten or so days, and honestly I was wondering how eating such a healthy diet could possibly be making me feel so sick. But here I am three weeks later with several ongoing health issues that have disappeared (heartburn, bloating, itchy skin, recurrent yeast infections) and a burning desire to share all of the fascinating (and gross) things I’ve been learning about what’s in our food!

Today Vani Hari’s new book Feeding You Lies came out, but before starting in on that, I have finished reading her first book “The Food Babe Way”, as well as Robyn O’Brien‘s book “The Unhealthy Truth”. The information in those books alone is enough to make you want to join an organic food co-op for life, and adding documentaries like “Food, Inc” will turn you off of most processed foods for life. But we do live in the USA, and we are surrounded by processed food all the time, so I’m also trying to figure out how to incorporate what I’m learning with what we eat as a family. Every time I cook dinner made with 100% naturally derived foods and one or both kids eats it, I think “Victory!” Every time I bring the pure maple syrup and homemade pancakes to the Mom’s group parties as an alternative, I feel the warm glow of satisfaction that I’ve done right by them, but they didn’t miss out on the party. Even just knowing that their macaroni and cheese does not contain yellow dye, or knowing that every vegetable they were encouraged to put into their mouth was grown without pesticides or GMO seeds, makes up for the fact that hey, sometimes they get candy, or drink chocolate milk, or eat something with a preservative in it. We don’t want to suck the joy out of all of life by being too militarized. Robyn O’Brien says over and over: Do not make the perfect the enemy of the good. For a perfectionist like me, those are words to truly take home and use as a mantra!

More thoughts I’ve been having recently:

-Today I learned about how tomatoes, and some other fruits, are ripened by using gases during transport. Yuck. I really want to start going to the local farmer’s market more often. Support local anyway, right?

-I feel I’m in a rut with the kids’ lunch boxes. Carrots, cucumbers, and celery for vegetables. Berries, apple or pear, oranges for fruit. Maybe it’s ok to eat the same thing most times? I like to feel a little more creative in this area, though. I’m making a mental note to scroll through the pinterest “lunch box” ideas I have pinned again.

-Eating well has not been a mental challenge for me. But exercising totally has. I had a long stretch of doing fitness blender every day, and now I’ve gotten off track again. My weight loss has plateaued and I know I need to get back on it. 20 minutes of my life on my days off really should not be too much to ask! But god, do I drag my feet with it.

-My clothes are fitting better for the first time in a year and a half. The sleeves aren’t as tight, nor are the buttons. Even my jackets/coats are not feeling as tight. Hurray!

-Now that the detox/Candida die-off has passed, it’s time to see if I can get back on the prophy drug I was given for my migraines. I wasn’t sure if the fatigue I was feeling was related to that, but now I’m thinking not.

how’s the low-carb going?

I’ve lost a total of 0 pounds.

That’s a zero, not the letter O.

I have stuck to the low carbs the entire time, even over vacation. I had two cheats on vacation: hot dog buns one night, and ice cream one day. I have been in the 50-100g of carbohydrates solidly (including vegetables and fruit) and actually under 50g the vast majority of the time. I have easily stayed below 1300 calories for the day, by 100-200. I have drank more water than ever. I have walked instead of taking the bus.

And nothing. Nada. Talk about discouraging, as this is the diet in which you supposedly see early results, at least on the scale. I’m more concerned with percentage of body fat than numbers, but a couple of numbers would’ve helped my morale.


worst 24 hours

My daughter found a pill that had been dropped, and ate it. We are doing everything possible to make sure this never happens again, obviously (like having my mom keep hers in her car when she’s watching M, so none can even be accidentally dropped, cause M pops them in her mouth in a second). It was bad. Terrible. The side effects were ataxia (loss of balance and control of motor movements) which alerted me to the problem, followed by loss of bladder control, and then even worse, extreme agitation and aggression, even combativeness. It was so extremely terrible. It went on and on and on. We’re past the 24 hour mark now and things have gotten better, but the drug has a long half-life so we’re still in it. Luckily, the doctor felt it was safe to stay home and let it wear off, but we were very close to going to the hospital for the IV antidote. The most dangerous part of it was that she was throwing her head forcefully into hard objects, walls, and the floor. I was terrified she’d get a concussion. I was in tears by morning, and nearly burst into tears at the doctor’s several times.

She finally fell asleep at 11:30am for a few hours and then again at 5pm. She’s calmer but it doesn’t take much to push her into a rage right now. It reminds me of her behavioral issues this summer except 50 times worse.

In more normal, less terrifying, but also troubling news, I got the lab results back from her blood draws. Her histamine level is off the chart… the 2nd highest this physician has ever seen in a child. The normal range is 30-60 mg/ml, and hers was like 188. Aside from increased mucous production and asthma-like symptoms, the following describes high-histamine children:

The High Histamine Child

Most histadelic children are very self-motivated and achievement-oriented. However, some are so self-directed that they resent giving up their control to a parent or teacher. They can’t stand being told what to do by adults. These youngsters become disruptive within their families and classrooms. Physical discipline only causes their behavior to intensify. They may not easily make friends with their peers, preferring much younger children or adults. If counseling is pushed, it typically will be a failure. A diagnosis of “oppositional defiant disorder” often results. These children tend to get obsessively hooked on activities. This can be advantageous to the child who pursues learning or sports, but will present problems if the focus is on negative activities like playing video games excessively.

Drug use among histadelic (high histamine) teens is five times as likely as with histapenic (low histamine) young people. These drugs steadily worsen their nervous system imbalances. If they start cigarettes, they may become chain-smokers. It is important to channel their compulsive-obsessive tendencies into productive activities.

If you suspect your own child fits this category, a blood test will be able to pinpoint their histamine levels. Usually no drugs are required to lower histamine, as you will see from the formula a the end of this section. To have high-normal histamine levels is a real blessing. The natural energy and drive to succeed in life gives this type a competitive edge. The danger lies in letting histamine rise to such high levels that there is suicidal depression or impulsive sexual addiction or obsessions that are uncontrollable.

-Joan Mathews Larson

The treatment is methionine, which re-methylates and detoxifies histamine (providing it with a methylating ring), as well as magnesium, vitamins B6 and B12, and lithium (also helping to re-methylate, extremely small dose compared to what those with bipolar take). Her copper level is also low (as most undermethylators are) so she gets a supplement of that, too. We are doing them one at a time, so we started the magnesium today, and will add the lithium in 4 days. And so on. Luckily, she loves pills (she’s high high risk to ingest any she comes across), so she’s thrilled that she gets to take some.

The thyroid improved but only slightly, but that was expected as that can take a year or more to show improvement. So she still gets the iodine drops. And the probiotics. You better believe I’ve googled the shit out of all this stuff, everything from wikipedia to published scholarly articles in medical journals. It’s real and it’s legit. I guess I should just be very grateful that we have such a great and thorough pediatrician.

In case you’ve lost count, at the end of the next few months she’ll be taking the following every day:
Lugol’s iodine drop (x1)
Vitamin B6
Vitamin B12

Luckily she doesn’t seem to be histamine intolerant, meaning she doesn’t have allergic reactions to histamine, she just has too much of it in her system. So here are the high histamine foods (and histamine liberator foods) we have to avoid:
Strawberries and citrus fruits like pineapple, kiwi, lemon
Aged cheeses, including sharp cheddar and parmesan
Tomatoes, including sauces like spaghetti and pizza sauce
Nuts, including peanuts
Chickpeas and other beans
Vinegar including vinegar-based salad dressings
Smoked meats and sausages
Anything pickled
Wheat germ (um so no wheat breads???)
All preservatives, food additives, and artificial dyes
Canned meat or vegetables

Of course she already can’t have artificial coloring, especially red dye 40, and I have already limited the preservatives as much as possible. She isn’t supposed to have bromides in her breads or pastas so we buy organic or unbromated. The pediatrician really wants her on the Feingold diet, but really other than eliminating salicylate-containing foods (like apples, grapes, cucumbers) I believe I pretty much am doing the Feingold diet with her (no preservatives or dyes), except that I’m not slowly rotating foods in and out to see which one in particular affects her. I can’t handle that level of elimination and craziness, and if that means I just take most of this stuff away most of the time… as long as she’s ok and happy, that’s what I’ll do first.

more effing diet modifications coming

These days it feels like there’s a problem with every food. Too much sugar, dyes, chemicals, carbs. Has to be fresh, local, or raw. Gluten-free and dairy-free. Has to be unbromated and organic. Now it’s histamine: can’t have chocolate, tomatoes, strawberries, citrus fruit, or yeast. OMG. I can’t deal with the pressures of motherhood, I swear.

Apparently the lab results for my daughter came back with an elevated histamine. She has a constant runny nose and sometimes a wheeze when she exerts herself, so it makes sense. Instead of giving me an antihistamine for her and calling it a day, I was given a book about how high blood levels of histamine is an indicator that my child is an undermethylator. Apparently (upon reading the book), many types of mental illnesses and physical afflictions affect those who are either over or under-methylated. (Methylation referring to the coating on your nerves or synapses which affects how much serotonin or dopamine or whatnot you are getting or absorbing). Therefore, my little undermethylator is highly prone to not only asthma-like symptoms and allergy symptoms year-round, she’s also at high risk for depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, behavioral disorders like oppositional defiance disorder, and an extremely high sex drive in adolescence. (What??? Nooooo…)

And how do you think we make this better? Some supplements, and diet changes. Avoiding foods that unbind histamine (like citrus fruits) and foods high in histamine (like tomatoes and sauces, strawberries, and yeast, which means bread). I had a hard enough time switching types of bread, how the hell am I going to go without bread? Our go-to fruits are oranges and strawberries, now those are out as well as bananas??? And as she can’t have dyes, I gave her chocolate for special treats. Now she isn’t supposed to have that either! Legumes? No. Nuts? No. Hard cheese and pickles? No. Beans? No.

Is there anything besides lettuce in this world that is safe and healthy for this child???

It’s getting to the point where what she can eat is a lot less than what she can’t.

a weekend without dairy

We are surviving. M does occasionally ask for “milk!” when sleepy, and likes the almond milk better than coconut milk, but only drinks about 1/4th a bottle of it (with real milk, she would drink the whole bottle then ask for another one!). She has also asked for “cheese”, and I gave her some daiya (both the block and the slices) but it is SO disgusting. I put it in a sandwich and she ate most of the sandwich, but I could tell she was thinking, “something’s not right about this cheese”. I even tried it in a quesadilla at a very good vegan restaurant and still… GAG. She had a vegan hot dog, but it wasn’t MorningStar brand and I thought it tasted kinda yuck. She ate part of it. We used to eat turkey dogs but now I’m not doing processed meat at all so… we may do Morning Star again from time to time, because she loves hot dogs.

I thought the doc told me to do her iodine drops in two cups of liquid. Turns out it only has to be diluted in two ounces of liquid, which makes a significant difference when it comes to making sure she’s getting a full dose. After researching all of this as thoroughly as I can (internet, books, etc) I’ve decided to start the iodine protocol myself with sea salt and iodoral. (Here’s a good article: Bromines: Avoid This If You Want to Keep Your Thyroid Healthy, and if you’re further interested, you can google the iodine protocol or read any of Dr. Brownstein’s books.)

I have done a lot of cooking (well, a lot for me), but after eating organic homemade sweet potato fries (delicious), roasted asparagus (ohmygod so good), kale chips, etc etc I started to crave processed food so bad it hurt. I’ve also felt woozy and thick-headed, sluggish, and just generally fatigued. Not a good feeling but I hope it’s because I’m detoxing off of the usual amounts of crap in our normal foods (and we didn’t even eat fast food or frozen!).

I haven’t noticed any discernible changes in M’s sleeping, toileting, or behavior after a few days off of dairy. I hope that continues through the two week period so we can eat some cheese and regular yogurt again! We won’t be going back to milk no matter what, and it will be organic and local dairy products as much as possible. I would just like to be able to cook something with cheese in it, once in a while.