Monday, January 14, 2013

Molly Monday

I have mentioned, more than once, that we follow a pretty strict diet because of Molly. I have had many people request details, which I have avoided giving publicly because I get angsty about sharing too much of my kids' lives. After, all, their privacy belongs to them and I have to respect that I am raising adults, and hopefully not narcissistic ones. But time and time again I run up against this need from other people to know where to start. So, on Mondays that I post, I will dedicate space for Molly's special needs, since diet isn't all that private and embarrassing.

A little background...
Molly was a very hard baby, though I didn't really feel put-upon by her because I had a very good routine. She did not take a bottle for 7 months, was difficult to feed solids and had a "cold" since she was 3 weeks old. When she started solids she got eczema, mostly behind her knees, on her feet and on her hands where she sucked her thumb. She would not keep socks on because they bothered her feet so badly. At one point I sat down with the doctor and pretty much ranted about the fact that, no, my baby hasn't had a cold since birth, and you need to tell me why she is so snotty all the time. The answer she gave was reflux, and the zantac did work, so I went on my merry way.

But the eczema was so bad that I again asked the doctor for help. Her response was cortizone cream. I am not opposed to medication. I am grateful for modern medicine. It saves many lives every day. However, I, in my limited understanding of medicine, knew that steroid cream for a baby might not be a good idea as the first line of defense, especially when said baby has a chronic condition. But I tried the cream, and she broke out with hives. So she was diagnosed with "contact dermatitis".

From Wikipedia: Contact dermatitis is a term for a skin reaction (dermatitis) resulting from exposure to allergens (allergic contact dermatitis) or irritants (irritant contact dermatitis). Phototoxic dermatitis occurs when the allergen or irritant is activated by sunlight.

This was the tipping point. I have not gone into great detail about my discussions with the pediatrician, but believe me when I tell you that I felt utterly disgusted with the doctor by the time Molly was one. We did our best, but it was a lot of trial and a whole lot of error. I knew, in that sixth sense sort-of way, that Molly's problem was dietary. She hated all formula, and when she abruptly stopped nursing at 8 months, we had to give her goat's milk. To this day I cannot stand the smell or taste of any goat or sheep food product because of the smell of Molly's spit up and diapers.

We did elimination diets, vegetarian diets, organic diets. Sometime during that second year Paul was born and Scott lost his job. Molly's issues were put on the back burner, but we did do the best we could with the little we understood. It was a chiropractor that I was seeing for my shoulder who finally pointed us in the right direction. He wasn't 100% correct, but he did say that she had an low functioning adrenal glad and to put her on a low Omega 6 diet while upping her Omega 3s. Through that advice we cut out all grains including corn. We began to care about where our food comes from. We learned to decode labels and find out what the animals we ate were eating themselves. Corn, as it turns out, was the biggest offender. Corn is in seemingly every thing. Chickens and cows are fed corn, and that mattered to Molly.

Oh, and we tried to be "balanced", which is code for not diligent. We'd tell family members not to worry about what Molly needed. She could have an "off" day as long as she at mostly good foods. We would go out to eat and feed Molly the best we could, and sometimes we'd let her have a cookie or "unsafe" ice cream. And Molly would whine about being achy or that her tummy hurt or she was tired. We'd roll our eyes because Molly's always been a bit whiny and lazy.

But then something rather miraculous happened. My sister called me. (No, that isn't a miracle!) She complained about her daughter's skin irritations and belly aches and she just needed to know what to do, not a big long list of "NO". M began to change the way they ate, and she discovered her daughter didn't have belly aches or as many episodes of asthma. She also discovered E was far more friendly and outgoing than before and a lot more compliant. Once E didn't feel like crap every day, her lovely personality shone so brightly almost everyone remarked on it. But the miracle for Molly was something M discovered through E. One day they were running and E complained about feeling tired and slow. M, stupidly, but not really because it worked out okay, Googled E's symptoms. She found a vitamin B deficiency accounted for all of E's complaints and started her one one immediately. The description E gave sounded like Molly's whole personality, so I started Molly on a supplement. Wouldn't you know it, Molly blossomed. She is far more active than ever, far more compliant than ever, and she is learning so well at school. We've really been blessed with finding more people who are experiencing all sorts of wonderful results with changing the family diet. They are all a huge resources for us.

We also did a modified GAPS elimination with her. Because she didn't exhibit any autistic or ADHD symptoms, I was concerned about jumping full into a fasting type of program. What we have found is "cheating" cheats Molly. So we are now totally corn and gluten free. The other kids eat rice, but we don't go crazy with it. Our food comes from reputable sources and our animal products are from pastured animals who get exercise. Healthy animals = healthy food. We also do meatless Fridays, and I've noticed I feel a lot better after starting that.

So I will try to build on this post with recipes and experiences and I will also be open to answering any questions about dietary needs. I'm not an expert, but I do have a lot of experience. If you wonder where to start, I'd go with Real Food Freaks and GAPS and Wellness Mama. I'd also go with your observations and be merciful with yourself. It'll go a long way in keeping you sane!

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