Sunday, November 21, 2010

Hope, Disappointment, and Renewal

A couple of weeks ago, I got a blood test done to test my ratio of Omega 3s versus Omega 6s, with an eye to taking fish oil to help with many of the issues I've been dealing with, but especially depression and inflammation.  I had heard so much about the benefits of fish oil, how it is supposed to be a miracle cure, and I was so hopeful about it.  Of course my test results showed an unhealthy ratio, so I was advised to take 8 capsules of highly purified fish oil per day.  My doc testified of his own drastic improvement in health since he started, and I was so excited to begin.

I hope that fish oil can really help others.  As for myself, it instantly gave me a sore and scratchy throat, nausea, a cold sweat, and fishy reflux.  Talk about disappointment.  I so wanted it to work!  I get tired of having to think so much about diet and food and symptoms.  I guess I was just hoping for a cure-all so I could avoid the stress and hard work.

Ahhh, such is life.  I gave the pills to my husband, and he is taking them without any side effects.  As it turns out, I may be allergic to all those fish I reacted to on my food sensitivity (IGG) test after all.  I made salmon for the first time since I started this diet a few days ago, and I had the same reaction as I had to fish oil.  

The IGG test seems to be a little worthless.  It was right on some things (salmon--high test sensitivity, high real life reaction), but wrong on most others.  I had a low test sensitivity for dairy, but every time I drink milk or eat cheese (or ice cream, heaven forbid!) my ears stop up, my throat gets sore, and post nasal drip begins.   I tested highly reactive to rice, almonds, lettuce, olives.  I have had no noticeable real life reaction to these things.

It's frustrating and disappointing when things don't work the way they are supposed to.  Test results unreliable.  Miracle cure works for everyone but you.  So where is the renewal?

Well, every time something doesn't work, another opportunity avails itself.  Today I am starting a class on stress and the mind-body relationship.  I am trying not to get too hopeful, because I know things are not going to change overnight, but it's a step in the right direction.  Gaining the skills to get rid of some of the stress in my life will be a valuable thing.

Somehow, life stopped being fun when it was supposed to be.  The things I have chosen to spend my time on have become stressful obligations instead of enjoyable projects.

So my short-term goal is to actually enjoy the holidays.  Novel idea, right?  I'm still trying to think of ways to make that happen.  Any ideas?  Hopefully the stress reduction class will help lighten things up a little.  Long-term, well, I'm still thinking about that.  But I do, once again, have hope.  As my dad used to say, what's the alternative?

Monday, November 15, 2010

Healing body, new symptoms

Things are starting to get interesting over here on the old rotation.  Lately I've noticed that my symptoms seem more immediate and more specific.  I've been at it long enough that I've tried things a couple of times before ruling them out, and the results are...well, interesting.

In the beginning, I felt everything in my mouth.  Different parts of my tongue would hurt depending on which foods were being eaten and which taste buds were being used.  After I ate whole foods for a few weeks, the sensations changed.  Everything went backwards and down.  It was my throat that started to hurt if I ate something I was sensitive to, and my ears would be a little sore and itchy.  Post-nasal drip, swollen glands, sore throat, all that.  For a couple of weeks, I was just plain sick.  I think I might have had a pretty bad case of bronchitis, but I thought it was just food sensitivity, or else my body would just fight it out with time.  So I didn't check it out.

But now, everything has moved down into my chest.  If a food doesn't agree with me, I start coughing almost immediately.  Or else I feel heartburn/reflux.  For instance, tonight I made bulgur wheat for the second time this week.  The first time, I felt an immediate tickle in my chest.  My vocal chords and windpipe began to coat with mucus and the coughing began.  I wasn't sure what it was at first, but then I remembered that I had tried a wheat beer a few days before and started coughing then, too.  So now I have a wheat issue.  Same thing happened again tonight.  BOO!  I wasn't noticing a wheat sensitivity before last week.  My theory is that as the toxins are leaving my body, it is healing and able to respond in different ways.  I do know that I cannot tolerate any type of crackers

I have noticed issues with dairy, too.  The mucus production and sore/swollen throat is worse with dairy than wheat, but it doesn't make me cough.  Weird.  I tried grass-fed, organic, fat-free milk with some organic spelt flakes for an emergency breakfast this week and didn't have nearly as much of a reaction as I have to, say, cheese.

Another interesting factor seems to be dosage.  I have been eating carrots without reaction for weeks, but I ate half a bag of baby carrots this week and my mouth was sore.  Then again, I also ate a lot of hummus at the same time, so which was it?  I have noticed the amount of one food I'm eating making a noticeable difference in my reaction.

The body is really fascinating.  I was so overwhelmed at first because I couldn't tell what I was reacting to, but slowly, things are starting to make a little sense.  Does anyone else notice their symptoms changing over time?  I hope this means that my gut is starting to heal and can tell the difference between healthy foods, foods I'm sensitive to, and foreign objects.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Good food is good (Pork tenderloin with pears)

The last few weeks have been so crazy busy that the diet has really suffered.  Yesterday, the book fair committee spent the day at school setting up, and we open this morning.  It's a really fun project, probably the least stressful because I have a lot of help and I get to spend my days around two of my favorite things--kids and books.

But the diet suffers.  Over the weekend, my son's birthday party once again had hot dogs (two ways--mummy dogs, and beans and franks), cookie cake, ice cream, chips, the works.  Luckily I had the presence of mind to boil some eggs and defrost a pork tenderloin so it would be ready last night because by then, I needed it!

While we set up yesterday, I pretty much forgot to eat.  I had brought community snacks, but mostly stuff leftover from the party that I wasn't supposed to eat--chips and salsa, crackers and hummus, grapes, trail mix (with m&ms) etc.  Salsa and hummus I can usually handle, but not the bread products and not grapes.  Trail mix is healthy without chocolate, but only palatable with it!  So I snacked all day.  I did start with my 2 boiled eggs, so at least there was a decent protein foundation.  But eventually I was so hungry I gorged on crackers and hummus and grapes.

By the time I got home, my throat was hurting and I was run down.  The pork tenderloin had cooked all day in the slow cooker and smelled so good and wholesome I wanted to cry:

2 small pork tenderloins
2 pears
Salt (generous amount)
1/4 cup of water

I was in such a hurry the morning that I didn't have time to brine the pork, but it was still very good.  Just put the tenderloins in the slow cooker and salt them generously.  Slice two pears and sprinkle them on and around the pork.  Put about 1/4 cup of water in the pot (or less).  Drizzle a little olive oil over the whole mix and cook on low for about 8-9 hours, or on high for 5-6.

When I got home, I sliced and boiled a couple of potatoes, sauteed some spinach in olive oil with garlic powder, salt and lemon juice.  Great meal.  I felt so good afterward knowing I had put good things in my body.

Now what is the plan for today??? Take some leftovers with me.  Have a decent breakfast before I leave the house.  Take some healthy snacks this time!  Carrots work with hummus just as well as crackers, and there are other fruits besides grapes!  And I can come home to eat if I need to.  We do have some breaks in the day.  Tonight...fish, I think!

If anyone is reading this, how do you manage to eat healthy during a really busy week?  Does bad food make you feel run down?  How do you know when you need a cleansing meal?  What is your favorite cleansing, yet filling and tasty, meal?

Friday, November 5, 2010

Perfection

Is there really such a thing?  Of course not!  So why do I try SO HARD???

I am a stay at home mom.  I made the choice several years ago when I was a teacher.  I loved teaching--high school English--too much, really.  Having two children of my own made me take a good look at what I was putting my time into.  I think I had the potential to be a really good teacher, and I had the potential to be a good parent, but my perfectionism got in the way of both pursuits.  Many an afternoon was spent trying to make the perfect test or plan the perfect lesson, and by the time I picked up my children from aftercare and got home I was so mentally exhausted that I could not really be available.  And that just depressed me.  But being a parent also kept me from perfection as a teacher.  I just didn't have the time to spend grading and regrading paper after paper to give the students the writing experience I thought they needed.

Ugh.  Just thinking about it tires me out.  The choice was obvious:  my 2 kids over 150 other kids.  But am I the perfect parent now?  What does that even mean?

Progress, not perfection.  That's the mantra, right?  And I have made progress.  Going into my fourth year, I still have trouble structuring my time and feeling like what I do is valuable because it is not quantifiable.  I'm around more.  I serve lunch at school.  I go to all the parties.  I plan really elaborate birthday parties.  I lead the Brownie Troop for my daughter.  I'm really good at helping with homework.  I run the Book Fair at the school.  I do a lot of dishes, but it's never really enough.  I plan our family vacations (down to the second if I can!).  I'm not particularly good at organization or cleaning or having any control over a group of 15 second graders, so more often than not I feel like a failure even after I have worked my heart out.

It's not all intellectually stimulating, but emotionally, on the whole, rewarding.  If you ask my kids, they would probably not hesitate to say I'm a great mom.  But they are not teenagers yet, so take that for what it is worth.  They have been so patient and understanding with my health issues.  They keep saying, "Mom, when is this diet going to be over?"--mainly because they really want to share their Halloween candy with me.

And just when I should be slowing down for my health, I have been trying ever harder to prove myself to them because I really don't want to disappoint them.  I just threw a huge Halloween birthday party for my daughter, complete with a haunted house and treasure hunt, and it just about gave me a nervous breakdown!  It's an 8 year old's birthday party!  Thank goodness my husband didn't obsess over it the way I did and helped me see it from a different perspective.  I saw the party through on Saturday, and on Sunday basically collapsed.

The whole perfectionism issue was gnawing on me all weekend, though.  When the kids came in to ask me to do yet another project, I finally just said, I'm tired.  I'm not supermom.  And I think they are adjusting to the idea.  For the first time, Mom is admitting that she can't do everything.  And isn't that a healthy thing to teach them in the long run?  I'm not perfect, they are not perfect, and expectations need to be appropriate and healthy.  Compassion is key.

I'm certainly not doing this diet perfectly!  Mummy dogs and cauldron cookies are not on the non-processed whole foods list, I'm pretty sure.  I need to get back on the wagon, but in the meantime, compassion with myself is really important.  I'm good enough, I'm smart enough, and doggone it, people like me!  Thank you Stuart Smalley!

Have an imperfect day, and revel in it!