Dear Food I Love You,
I have always loved to cook and loved to eat. Even as a little girl, I thought cooking was fun and magical. I was never a picky eater, and neither was my husband, because of this we assumed that our children would be fantastic eaters…boy were we wrong.
We are the lucky and proud parents of two great little boys. I guess God thought we were up for a challenge, because they are spaced a whopping year and ten days apart! :) When I was pregnant with my oldest I registered for a homemade baby food maker. I pictured making healthy, fresh food that my baby would love. Both of my children were born with immature digestive systems, severe reflux and a myriad of gastrointestinal issues. They had to be given a special soy formula in small increments every three hours for the first year…around the clock. My homemade baby food became nothing more than a projectile that my children used to decorate the kitchen walls and floor. Slowly but surely, they each put on weight, and while neither still registered on the dreaded height or weight charts, our pediatrician at the time assured me that all was well.
Fast forward a couple of years, and my little family of four became products of the Standard American Diet (SAD)..lovely acronym is it not?? My husband was working long hours, my kids were busy being boys, and I was busy being a wife, mommy and preschool teacher. Trips to the grocery store no longer required much thought. I could mindlessly walk the aisles, kids in tow, buying with the following criteria in mind: was it on sale, was it quick, was it easy.
I started noticing that my youngest was once again having gastrointestinal issues. Our pediatrician prescribed some acid reducers, and told us it would take a little time. We came back to her office and upon further review she mis-diagnosed my son with Ulcerative Colitis, but said it could possibly be Crone’s Disease. She prescribed steroids and told us to give it time. My mother’s intuition told me that something wasn’t right, so we sought a second opinion. Our new doctor asked if our son had been tested for Celiac. The day our doctor called me and told me that yes, Cody had tested positive for Celiac Disease, was one of the scariest days of my life. Once again, something as basic as feeding my child was scary to me. I went to the local bookstore and bought several books on eating a strict gluten-free diet. I educated myself on both what foods we needed to avoid, as well as how to prevent cross contamination, that is preventing his food from becoming “gluttened” by using separate cookware and utensils. My biggest fear was that my baby would miss out on being a kid, and I was determined not to let that happen. I make a mean gluten-free pizza and a darn good chocolate coconut flour cupcake! :) Celiac Disease is a genetic disorder, so the entire family was tested. We discovered that my husband had been “silent” Celiac all his life. My older son, Andy, we discovered carries the gene, but does not have the disease, however he did test positive for a non life-threatening peanut allergy, and an off-the-charts, very life-threatening shellfish allergy. Back to the bookstore for me.
Overnight I became a short-order cook. I would cook a kid-friendly gluten-free meal for Cody, a non-peanut, non-shellfish, gluten-allowed kid-friendly meal for Andy and then an adult gluten-free meal for my husband and me. I began to DREAD the kitchen, what once was magical now was just a chore.
I started to really wonder why so many kids were suddenly being diagnosed with Celiac Disease and various food allergies. Why is diabetes, heart disease and cancer becoming more and more prevalent every day? I started researching online. A friend suggested that I read a novel by Michael Pollan called In Defense Of Food. I also read his book The Food Rules and any other novel about whole food living that I could get my hands on. I also watched the documentary “Food, Inc.” (oh boy and I still have nightmares)! It only makes sense to me that a lot of our health issues are directly related to the food choices we make. My husband and I discussed with our kids that things were about to change! We told them that they would still get “kid food” once in a while, but from now on Mommy was cooking one healthy meal the entire family could eat and that was it! I began going to my local farmers’ market for organic, grass-fed and grass-finished meat and eggs. We buy local produce, as much organic as possible. We buy organic whole milk and full fat cheese and butter. We use coconut oil, grapeseed oil, and olive oil. We no longer buy any low-fat or fat-free products, because we have learned that they contain chemicals. We use sweeteners sparingly, and only use raw honey, pure maple syrup and real sugar. A great website that I found along the way is 100 Days of Real Food. Sticking to a new way of eating brought about some changes. My husband lost 12 pounds seemingly overnight. We all have more energy, and even my little guys are finding they like real food. My kids are finally thriving! They are both happier, healthier and becoming stronger little men each day. I have had life-long migraine headaches, among other health issues, and honestly I have never felt better. My headaches have gone from daily events, to few and far between.
The kitchen has once again become “my happy place.” I feel good serving my family healthy food, and I love to watch them enjoy it. It didn’t happen for us overnight, and I am no food expert, but for my family learning to eat healthy was one of the best things we have ever done. I know many people say that eating healthy is too expensive, and they are right it is not easy, but we would rather spend our money on delicious, healthy food than numerous doctors’ visits and prescription pills.