Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Trying not to be a broken record

As 2013 winds to a close, I'm sitting here staring at a blank screen.  A blog, full of triumphs and tribulations, and mostly frustrations.  As I look back at the year, I'm not seeing anything particularly new or exciting to share.  We survived.  The economy is still impacting us, both actively and residually.  Diets are nothing radically different, and bumblebee is still in the throws of putting one foot in front of the other.  (Sometimes fighting the act quite valiantly.)

And I'm still depressed that I can not find safe chocolate chips in my price range.  Perhaps ever again!

On the other hand, we have an amazing garden growing at my wonderful green-thumbed mom's house.  Carrots, beets, arugula and kale...does it get any better than that?  (Oh, yes it does!)

While we are still ironing out a few kinks (our cantaloupe froze) the kids dined on roasted pumpkin tonight.  We've enjoyed zucchini soup.  Kale chips.  Beet green pilaf.  And lots and lots of tomatoes over the past year.  We're eagerly planning and looking forward to next year's crops!  (And maybe some better preservation so the bounty lasts!)

The dog is kicking me into shape.  Maybe I should say he's barking me into shape.  We take nice long walks together, and he won't let me laze out of them.  It's his job.  His passion in life.  His true purpose.  Get me moving.  Walking.  Running.  Whatever.  He just likes to go.  And he hates to go without me, because, you see...It's not him that needs the walk.  It's me, really.

My daughters...the eldest makes me proud and bittersweet happy as she grows into a lovely young woman with her own thoughts and ideas and plans that I can no longer help sway one way or the other.  She will be a force to reckon with in the world, once she's ready to be unleashed upon it.  Meanwhile, she soaks up learning like a sponge, she sharpens her skills and looks up in disbelief as the world stares at her talents in awe.
The younger makes a practice of breaking my heart.  She, too, will do great things...move mountains and raise armies and make a real difference in the world, if we can just get all of her energy focused forward and away from the anxieties that overtake her.

Someday perhaps we'll find all the answers we need for every last one of us, but in the meantime, maybe our goal isn't just to find those answers but to live without them.

Happy 2014 everyone.  May this be the year that we all find the answers we need, or the patience we need as we wait for them.

Monday, December 30, 2013

Eating Wrong

The trouble with following a specific dietary plan is that someone, everyone, has advice.  Usually, they want to make sure you know...you're doing it wrong.

We're gluten free.  At least, 2 of us are 100% gluten free.  The other 2 are somewhere between partially and mostly gluten free.

Now, I must explain to you that there are multiple ways of following a gluten free diet.  My way involves replacing traditional wheat based foods with whole grains and vegetables.  Spaghetti squash, for example, might take the place of flour-based noodles.

I'll admit that it's easy to slip into a habit of using rice everywhere.  Mostly because there are still a few digestive issues going on, and rice is cheap...and easy.  But I use brown rice, or a blend of white and brown rice products to increase the fiber content.  And both fruits and veggies are staples in our diet alongside beans and nut butter.

Our diet is relatively balanced.  Except for my daughter who has anxiety issues surrounding food.  Major, massive, heart pounding, scene stopping, "are you going to let her get away with that?" kind of anxiety issues surrounding food.  In fact, she's managed to starve herself for days on end to avoid eating something that looks the least bit...not right.  She needs help.  And we're trying, so, so hard to get it.  Oddly, our relatively healthy diet keeps getting in the way.

I want to share a recent conversation.  I called, again, to talk, again, to an advice nurse about her tummy aches...again.  Her doctor had prescribed a new dietary regimen, and her tummy aches changed in severity so I wanted to document it.

I got a spiel about fiber.  Fine.  I agree.  Fiber is important.  Then the nurse started in on an explanation about whole wheat and a list of specific brand names to look for.  By this time, my daughter was whimpering again and I was frustrated (this isn't the first time I've ever called for a tummy ache issue.  It isn't the first spiel on fiber, vegetables, the evils of soda, the woes of the Standard American Diet yadayadayada, and frankly...they're preaching to the choir.) so I cut her off and said "We're actually gluten free, but I'll keep an eye on her fiber intake.  We usually are good about it, but with the recent changes and her picky eating I don't know exactly how much she's had lately."

The response was interesting.  And infuriating.

"Why are you gluten free?"
"Some of us have Celiac and it's just easier to keep the house gluten free."
"Well, there's the problem!  Ma'am, I'm not your doctor, but really, your daughter needs more wheat.  There are very few people who really have Celiac Disease, and they suffer a lot, but most people are misdiagnosed.  You know, the rest of your family might really benefit from adding wheat back to your diet.  I just can't stress enough how important whole wheat is for good health."

At first, I was speechless.  And then, as words began to form in my head...I had to bite my tongue.  Take a deep breath.  Count to ten.

There is nothing inherently necessary in anyone's diet.  No one item is inherently vital to our health, except perhaps water.  Wheat...wheat is a grain which happens to be dominant in our current food supply.  It might be a source of fiber.  But so are oats.  Quinoa.  Raisins.  Brown rice.  Buckwheat.  And a thousand fruits and vegetables that may or may not end up on our plates at any given meal.

Wheat is not a necessary component of a healthy diet.  In fact, some dieticians (the ones who do their research and keep up to date on actual studies and current understandings) might say that a truly healthy diet is a balance of a variety of foods including starch, proteins, plants and fats.  Calcium rich foods should be included.  No item should be used to the exclusion of other items.

Wheat?  It's just convenient.  Too convenient in most standard diets.

When I got to 10...and back down to 0...I interrupted her litany on the virtues of this single grain to ask exactly how much dietary fiber an 11 year old girl should be ingesting each day.  She sputtered to a stop.  "There isn't an exact number we just know that she isn't getting enough..."   and then "...Well, ma'am, more whole wheat would really help her feel better..."
What minerals and nutrients, exactly, is she lacking that including wheat in her diet would improve?
"Well, I don't know, exactly, that's not the point.  The point is that she really needs more wheat..."

She admitted she wasn't our doctor and didn't have the authority to diagnose us as being misdiagnosed...and then I cut her off as she began to defend her advice with speculations regarding the overdiagnosis of a condition that most estimates claim is grossly under diagnosed.
In the end, I made an office appointment and spoke to an actual medical professional.  Who did not try to talk me out of a gluten free diet, but couldn't give me much advice either.

The problem, you see, is that we're eating wrong.  I don't buy fast food or soda.  The kids lack essential snack cakes, sprinkles and candy.  Idiotically, I serve up glasses of water and encourage them to drink from a handy waterbottle instead of purchasing soda on our outings.
Clearly, if I were to feed them like their peers...at least we could sheepishly admit that we have things to work on.  We'd have something to blame.  The good old usual suspects.
When you don't have the usual suspects, and you're already gluten free, I think the medical community must feel a little lost.  But don't quote me...I'm the one eating wrong.
And thriving.
(I just wish I could find the right wrong diet for my daughter.)

Wednesday, December 04, 2013

Thanksgiving, a little late

I've been having trouble feeling grateful lately.  My daughter is still struggling.  She has Anxiety Disorder, and it's not very well controlled at the moment. And to make matters worse, it sounds like something went wrong in her school records.  So not only are we dealing with the repercussions of misunderstandings leading to contradictory therapy, there's no record of any of her issues to begin with.
But, this is a season of Thanksgiving.  Not just Thanksgiving, but of miracles too.  (It is, after all, Hanukkah)
So, I'm trying to think of all the things I have to be thankful for.  And I've hit on one in particular.
It's hard to deal with anxiety as a kid.  It's hard to have panic attacks where you can't breathe and your tummy hurts.  And then, you can't help but snap at your friends.
When kids are in middle school, it's hard just to be different.  Different kids get picked on.  It's not okay to cry.  It's not cool to be seen with your mom.  In other words, anxiety disorders and middle school kids really don't mix.  They're like water and oil.
But some kids in middle school struggle.  Some struggle openly.
Today, I'm grateful for the parents who take the time to try to help their kids understand how hard it is to be different.  The ones who help their kids continue to be a friend to mine, even when she's not able to reciprocate very well.
I'm thankful for the continued birthday invitations, and playdate offers.  The understanding waves.  The heartfelt notes that invite my child over, and preface understanding that she may back out at the last minute.
I'm grateful for the look of concern, followed by confident voices because adults we know have learned the best way to react for her sake.

I suppose, in short, I'm grateful for true friends.