“Mom, can I have a salad with carrots and celery” yelled, the tiny girl from the backyard to her mother. Yes, that tiny girl was me. I’m a natural born health nut with a lifetime of knowledge, research, and experience under my belt. I love food. I love healthy food. However, food and I have a past that has truly in some ways become my future. I can often be found saying “food is going to be the death of me” and the truth is it’s likely to be the death of all of us if we don’t get it together.
I’ve learned a lot through my years of reading medical textbooks, journals, but it holds nothing in comparison to my experiences. The little girl who loved salads and would choose an apple over a cookie eventually turned food obsessed. You know that time in your life called adolescents when you go to middle / high school and well, you “think” you know it all. Oh yeah, and you “think” you are “cool” but simultaneously you feel totally out of place. We can all agree that it is an awkward stage of life, right? It was around this same time that my life in school was a bit difficult having gone from a a public to private school and my home life was well, a bit messy too. I longed for control and I tried to control the one thing I knew “food“. There I was counting calories [even though I didn’t need too] and obsessing over everything that entered my mouth; there I was, teetering on the edge of anorexia and bulimia. How in the world did I get to this place?
I have never shared that story until now; not because I am ashamed or embarrassed but I have thought it held little meaning to the rest of my life until now. Luckily, as much as I was “out of control” I was still very much “aware“ and pulled out of my food hell in the blink of an eye. However, oddly enough little did I know food would come back to haunt me again but this time it would be different…
We welcomed our first daughter the Fall of 2005; just 17 quick months after we were wed. Shortly followed by our second daughter the Summer of 2008. This time our parenting outlook was different. Our first was a bit of a surprise and like any new parents we were a bit all thumbs learning to balance a new baby, a home, a job, and a marriage. However, with the second tiny beauty we were more experienced; we had a handle on this parenting thing, and we were “in control“. Ummm, not so much. This little blessing only wanted her mom, wanted to be held constantly, was a terrible sleeper, hated food, and only wanted to nurse. As time passed her sleep was still terrible, her tantrums started to become more frequent and severe, and it soon became clear we were not “in control“. She was; or was she not? Is it really, possible for a such a tiny being to have that much power and did she really like waking out of a dead sleep to scream for hours?
Children, were not entirely new business to me. Having “raised” a small army of kids I babysat, mentored, and taught over the years. I did know a thing or two about children; and developmental stages. Not to mention, I do have a degree in Behavioral Science. I have worked countless hours with special needs ranging from severe mental/physical disabled to in home therapy with those diagnosed with various spectrum disorders, including autism. Why is it so hard for me to figure out what is wrong with my daughter then?
Then, there was “the tantrum“; the one she never really recovered from. A three hour full blown fit over animal crackers. I remember the day like it was yesterday. This, was not in fact normal and this was clearly her being “out of control“. I cried and I searched for answers; you know where everyone looks Dr.Google. Here’s the difference, I had experienced tantrums like this before working with my Autistic patients. I had the knowledge to know that sometimes diet can play a leading roll in our behavior, perception, understanding, and comprehension. What we consume does have the power to transform us. We are what we eat. It was then that it became clear as day the problem was food. There I was faced with the realization that the same food that fuels our bodies is the same food that has the ability poison our state of living. Food can in fact control you; it had after all controlled me so many years ago.
I had my answer; she was gluten and dairy intolerant. It has since been three years since that dreadful discovery of needing to go gluten and dairy free. Knowing what I do now; I also venture to say my sweet girl is in fact suffering from Celiac Disease [more on that later], but more importantly the lesson I learned is “knowledge” is in fact power, gain back control of your life and learn how to read a label.
Coming soon; see how I transformed our kitchen in 24 hours; and how you can take the necessary steps to transforming yours.
The story doesn’t end there, we welcomed another beautiful blessing into the world in 2010 this time a son. I knew his chance of having gluten related issues was approximately 1 in 30 oppose to the normal 1 in 133 since having an immediate family member diagnosed as having a gluten related issue. The statistics holding true, my oldest son is in fact gluten, dairy, dye, and corn sensitive.
Bringing me to my final and fourth food allergic/sensitive child. This bouncing boy born in 2012 came into the world smiling but he has remained the biggest mystery of all. Another awful sleeper, more eczema, more belly aches, more gastrointestinal issues, more everything. I don’t get it. How? He is already gluten and dairy free. We monitor his corn in take already. What is it? Never sleeping more than 2 hours at a stretch. Ugh, I’m going to lose it. There I was staring Dr. Google in the face; again! With every type of the keyboard I prayed for wisdom and if I know one thing it’s when we lean hard God is there to catch us. I was leaning; 19 months is a long time to go without sleep. BAM! It’s potato, tomato’s, peppers; he has a night-shade intolerance /sensitivity. There it was the wisdom and light I prayed so hard for; and, with that has come rest, lots of rest.
Here is the thing, I hate labels with a passion. Years of working with special needs will do that to to you. I especially don’t like labeling kids but the truth is it’s what the label say’s that matters most. We go through life with labels, reading them, judging them, and ignoring them. If you don’t know what, how, or why the label is there I encourage you to learn. Learn how to read a label. Live a healthy life. Lead/ advocate for those who need you most.
Every label has a story. Every story has a person behind it.