Walking The Walk

I am a Foodie. Big time. I love to cook. I’m addicted to food porn in any form…Food TV, cookbooks, blogs, magazines, food throughout my Facebook newsfeed…however I can get it. In what seems like a past life (or 5), I was co-owner of a restaurant and would spend evenings after the kids went to sleep cooking specials and baking desserts for upcoming events and catered gigs. People loved my food, and I loved preparing it for them. I really enjoyed what I was doing.

Then Autism hit us like a freight train. Not only was the restaurant out the window, but I never looked at food the same way again. Having kids with food sensitivities changes all your life. Ummmm…what do you mean they can’t have wheat and milk?? How can you live!!?? How will WE live?? Reading labels became a science. I hunted supermarkets for GFCF substitutes. We become “that” table when we went out to eat. The bread was hard, cookies sucked, and the pizza was atrocious. All of it was horrible. HORRIBLE. As a food lover, I was heartbroken. The kids and I couldn’t eat the same things. When I changed their diets, I would find myself hiding in the kitchen, shoving “real” food down my throat. I have my own food issues, and that crap was fake food. I hated that I had to do it, but I did because it was making them better.

Over the next 2 ½ years, I drowned myself in GFCF cooking. I would scour the web following allergy-friendly food blogs, sharing recipes with friends in the same boat. I started a Facebook group for parents like me who were looking for ideas about how to cook this stuff. All the while, never eating a morsel of it. Not.A.Bite. I told you I’ve got issues 😉

This past Ash Wednesday (Feb 22, 2012) I was sitting at the computer with my morning coffee and all through the feed were stories of friends giving up something for Lent. Some gave up caffeine. Others gave up alcohol. Some logged off from social media. All these people giving up something they enjoy. Although I was raised Roman Catholic, I am not a religious person. In an instant, I said to myself, “I’m going gluten free for Lent.” I realized I hadn’t had any so far that day, so I figured I would give it a shot. I didn’t give up casein because I am a dairy slave and will cut you for a really good brie or a bowl of homemade ice cream (kidding!). I am a big meat and veggie gal anyway, so this shouldn’t be too hard, right?? Forty days will be a piece of cake….so I thought…

I started to track what I was eating. It was all healthy and delicious. Meat, veggies, fruit, rice and nuts. First few days were no problem…..but then it started. I became an irritable disaster. I was crawling in my skin. My bones ached. My hair hurt. My cuticles became sore and bled. I wanted to scratch my eyes out of my head….literally. My stomach was a disaster. I couldn’t concentrate. I would find myself having to stop what I was doing just to pull my head together. I craved things that I never really ate before because it was gluten-laden garbage. I needed that chew of a good baguette…the sweet spoonful of the cold milk/crunch combo you get from a bowl of cereal. I would LITERALLY salivate at the sight or thought of food I couldn’t have. I was truly kicking junk. I realized this was a tiny glimpse of what people detoxing from drugs must feel like…..physically sick, withdrawing and craving. Then I thought about my boys feeling this way at the start. Knowing what I now know about the experience, I’m surprised it wasn’t worse. I think they dealt with it better than I did.

The saying “It gets worse before it gets better” really is true.

I could have caved, had a brownie and called it a day but I played through. I started tweaking my own supplement regimen. I got a prescription for MB12 shots, kept eating GF and really started monitoring the way I was feeling. And I was feeling good. REALLY good!! Better than I have in years. The cravings subsided. I didn’t have that 4pm crash I used to get. The aches went away. I dropped a few jean sizes. My skin is better. Easter came and went and I never looked back. I had a few cheats and really felt them. Lesson learned. No more for me, thanks. That stuff is garbage.

For the past three years, I have spent all my energy, time, and money on my boys and their health and recovery. We all do it. Kids first, of course! But I realized I needed to start taking better care of myself as I am no spring chicken. I was starting to feel old at 40. I need to be around for these guys….to help them become the best they can be.

I started walking the biomed walk, and it feels fantastic.

Try gluten free. Give it a shot….I dare you. I challenge you to go 30 days without any gluten. If you don’t feel better, go back. If you want to stop mid challenge and eat an Oreo…do it. This isn’t to prove anything to anyone but yourself. It WILL be rough….but anything that’s worth it usually is <3 ~ Poppy

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23 Responses to Walking The Walk

  1. Pingback: Thai Grilled Beef Salad | The Thinking Moms' Revolution

  2. Saint says:

    I just had to come back and read this again. THIS blog will keep me going. Thank you for being so inspiring. Love you Poppy <3

  3. Betsy says:

    We waited until my kids were on the diet for almost 7 years before we took the plunge. My husband had serious stomach issues so we decided to join our kids on the diet. Wow, what a life changing experience for both of us! We have never looked back and feel every infraction we get. Hopefully in a few years our guts will be more healed like our kids. It has made my life so much easier too! No more cooking two separate meals! It is also way cheaper since now I make more simple home-cooked meals.

    For those of you who have never tried it, go ahead and take the plunge. I imagine most of you will feel much better!

  4. Happy says:

    I went GF/CF and a whole bunch of other “frees” with my 2 boys when they had to. I felt I didn’t have a choice as I was still breast feeding the younger one (he was 6 months old). With the adrenaline of those first days after diagnosis, it was the least of my worries. Now I’m really thankful and can’t imagine ever going back.
    I like that we three share our food and when I have to, I say “WE can’t have that”, and not “YOU can’t have that”.
    P.S. that coconut milk ice cream is to die for!

  5. Jenn says:

    Great read 😉 helpful & motivating – thank you

  6. Carolyn S. says:

    You seriously must be reading my mind. I want to go corn free and GF, but just too worn out to make the effort while cranking out GFCF food for my kids. I know I need to try it, thanks for the inspiration. The funny part is, I can do GFCF in my sleep, but for me.. I never make the effort for anything.

    @ Becky – there are GFCF versions of all of those foods, fries are the easiest. Nuggets are best if you can make your own or get some Bell and Evans black box at Whole Foods. You can do it when failure is not an option!!


  7. Diana Gonzales says:

    Just starting and its AWFUL! HORRIBLE AGONIZING TORTURE!! Once again you post something relevant to my experience and offer me hope! Thank you

  8. I went gfcf when my son started the diet 2 years ago. Gluten was the unknown cause of SO many of my health issues…which almost all have been rectified over the past 2 years…

    I started to add back in raw, organic dairy without trouble, but I notice that goat/sheep dairy is easy for me…cow can be problematic.

    Autism can suck in many ways, but I am ever grateful for the change in diet.

  9. Becky Rubens says:

    I enjoyed this article. I really want to try gluten free for my autistic son, but he ha HUGE HUGE sensory problems and will literally eat only chicken nuggets, French fries, spaghetti, and sometimes pizza. He will not even allow utensils to go in his mouth, so he eats strictly with his hands. Is it still beneficial to not cut out the casein? He loves milk and it’s the only thing I can put supplements in. Did you notice a dramatic change? Any ideas of some basic things to start with, keeping I mind my son has huge oral aversions, I thought we were going to have to get a feeding tube for him at one point. Thank you for this info, Becky Rubens

    • Sara says:

      I promise you this is what EVERYONE said at one point or another when they were worried about starting the diet. You must take it very seriously and give it a fair shot. Your child’s health depends on it!

      My son also would only eat chickent nuggets, meatballs, and some fruits. He also loved milk more than anything in this world. It was worth all the effort to move him over to GFCF. (Other restrictions too, but those were the big hard ones).

      I slowwwwly weaned his milk from regular milk to vanilla almond milk. I did it so slowly (tablespoon by tablespoon) that he never even noticed. Then it was easy to wean him to unsweetened almond to cut out some of that sugar in the vanilla flavor. Turns out in the end that he needs to avoid almonds, so now he’s on unsweetened coconut milk and still loves it just as much as the old milk. He has no idea anything changed. 🙂 And like you, his milk is where I put all his supplements.

      Same with meatballs and chicken nuggets. I found GFCF brands (yes, expensive but worth it for the transition), and slowly mixed in some of his old favorites with a few pieces of the new ones. They looked almost identical and taste mostly the same, and eventually he was fully on the new ones and never knew any different. Now for our next transition we’re working our way off processed foods so I’m slowly putting in pieces of homemade chicken nuggets and meatballs without any weird ingredients, and no soy.

      NOTHING is too hard for me when it comes to helping my son get better. I would go to the ends of the earth. Changing a picky eater’s diet is super difficult, but no one promised parenting would be easy!

      You can do it!!

  10. B.K. says:

    Starting back today. I’ve done it before, and knew I felt better, but fell off the wagon. AGAIN. Thanks for giving me the kick in the booty I needed this morning. xoxo

  11. Melisa McNabb says:

    I too went gluten free on January 2, 2012. I can honestly tell you that I no longer feel bloated, tired, CRANKY, and everything else! I have been told numerous times to try it as my two kids have been gf/cf for 5 years – like you I was in my basement eating “real pizza!” I had one cheat about two weeks ago and literally could not make it into the bathroom quick enough! My husband said I was a royal b%^ch for about a week! I’m not going back! After you do it for about a month – you also become a more thoughtful eater! You can’t just shove something in your mouth from the vending machine! Meals are meant to be thought of and savored! It forces you to eat more naturally – something we all should be doing!!!!

  12. Sue says:

    Have recently gone gd/cf as part of a wieght loss plan. Feeling not so bloated, less indigestion, my IBS is much better

  13. Tanya says:

    I’m with Saint. I think I hate you. I’ve been tinkering with the idea of going GF for a few weeks now, and here you are giving me the push! Perhaps this is my first day of Lent? Thanks for the encouragement!

  14. Taximom5 says:

    I can’t help wondering how much better you might feel (yes, even better!) if you gave up dairy as well.

    Interestingly, both DS and I had obvious issues with dairy as well as gluten–but both of us were able to introduce it back into our diets after several months off gluten. That certainly isn’t the case with gluten!

    One theory is that, because gluten damages the intestinal villi, and the villi are what produce lactase (the enzyme needed to digest lactose), continuing to ingest dairy irritates the gluten-damaged villi and prevents them from healing properly.

    I do notice that I do MUCH MUCH MUCH MUCH MUCH better on grass-fed, organic, minimally pasteurized milk (can’t get raw here any more) than on “regular” milk.

    But I gave DS ONLY organic milk, and he still had difficulty with it.

    My own theory is that the adjuvants in the vaccines make the immune system react more strongly to EVERYTHING it’s exposed to that day–and that they trigger autoimmune activity in conjunction with the most common allergenic proteins that happen to be in our bodies the day we’re vaccinated, like gluten and casein. Not an allergic response, but an autoimmune response. I think asthma and environmental allergies may also be triggered directly because of those adjuvants.

    Why don’t the scientists see that, yes, they CAN trigger a stronger immune response with those adjuvants–but they CAN’T control WHAT the immune system decides to respond so strongly to?

    Arrgh. Preaching to the choir, I know…

  15. Cheryl says:

    Back in the day 16 years ago, there were no gluten free premade foods to go buy. I found myself with boxes of different kind of flours starting a new life. I ordered food out of France just to have gf cookies. Slowly by surly I mastered gf cooking. Today if we cheat, and yes there are times, I feel it and hurt like made the next few days. I am so thankful for my son and all he taught me. I wonder how much sicker we all would be as a family had John not forced us all to look at food for what it is. For anyone who had not gotten off an offending food….take the plunge…you will not be sorry!

  16. I gave up grains for weight loss. On occasion having quinoa but that was it.. no rice or potatoes either. I also gave up processed foods –mainly to cut out sugar. Doing this makes you gluten free. It makes you feel ten feet tall and bullet proof… and some days when I am seriously jonesing and I reach way back in the cupboard for the box of regular wheat angel hair and make up a batch … and eat it… I end up feeling like total SH*T. It really is as strong as a drug… carbs.. sugar… you definitely feeling like a junkie wanting it –always.
    This morning the scales had a number on it I haven’t seen since the year 2000.
    –and this is after having two cheat days… lol yeah I feel like crap this morning.
    Normally I drink as much fresh veggie juice as I want.
    I will also eat two GINORMOUS salads everyday with avocado, some meat, olive oil and apple cider vinegar.
    –and I can’t give up dairy either. For one, I justify it to keep the kidney stones at bay… I tend to eat higher oxalate, add no dairy = bad bad bad. SO I use half and half in my coffee and I can’t give up cheese! One vice at a time.
    I do NOT count calories and I have lost 45 pounds so far.

  17. Andrea says:

    Thanks for this Poppy! I like you am a foodie. I cried when we were told GF/CF for my six year old. I had the entire family do it though because I remember my dad telling me when I was younger that I needed to have a salad due to my weight while the rest of my family chowed down on pizza. I remember how horrible it was and was not putting her through that. I had a reaction like you and I wasn’t told this would happen. It was awful! We are on week 5 and although mentally I’m feeling better and a lot of my issues have gone away, I’m still itching like a madwoman. I’m hoping that subsides. If it is okay, I’d like to share you post as some people think I’m crazy that gluten can “detox” from your body. Again, thank you for sharing!

  18. Saint says:

    I think I hate you <3. You just may make me do this. Just so you know though, it will entail me moving in with you so you can cook for me and keep me on the straight and narrow. Great, and VERY MOTIVATING post. Love you Poppy <3

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