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Diet Changes Are Hard

A couple days ago I started this post about frustrations with food and family. It was kind of a difficult afternoon around here! I don’t remember what started it off, but somehow there were frustrations boiling to the surface about the changes in our diet that I’ve made this year, some specifics of which I’ve documented here.

I haven’t given much background on these diet changes, but my New Years’ resolution this year was to become a GMO-free house. That came from some article I read about finding correlations between Round-Up and food allergies, cases of ADD and ADHD, autism spectrum, and rises in infertility. I don’t have the original source, but the graphs showing the nearly 1-for-1 relationship between use of GMOs/Monsanto pesticides and these new human conditions are shocking. What are we putting into our children? What is it doing to them? I’m not saying I totally agree that GMOs are to blame for all these ills. Correlation does not equal causation. But when in doubt, I avoid.

In my quest to rid my pantry of GMOs, I stumbled upon a whole bunch of other bad shit about food. Even if food isn’t genetically modified, there are still lots of Round-Up pesticides that can be used on it. I don’t like those pictures of people wearing haz-mat suits and spraying chemicals on food. So now we eat organic fruits and veggies. Not just whenever possible, but always. If it isn’t available in organic, then we don’t get it. Period. Not only is this because organic food is less likely to have pesticides (I don’t believe anything is 100% free of any other thing) but organic food is also more nutrient-dense. If I have to fight to get the family to eat veggies, then at least the bites they do take should be full of nutrients. Full of them I say!

My final point about organic fruits and veggies is the social impact. By buying organic, I’m telling the market that pesticides and non-organic practices are not okay with me. I’m voting with my dollars and I’m supporting a farmer rather than a corporation. I don’t know who the farmer is yet (getting there!), and I’m sure that depending on where I get my food I’m still supporting a corporation, but at least there is one more person telling them that organic is the way to go. Okay, end organic rant.

Then I started reading about how foods affect our bodies and how food is our first line of defense against sickness. I want to print out one of those sayings about food is healthcare and hang it on my fridge as a motivator. I was interested in this because Kiddo1 has always had stomach problems. I’ll spare you the details, but it is not fun. We have done all kinds of things to help him, but nothing has worked. Changing our diet is the one thing we haven’t really tried too much that I think can really help. My son’s gut health is not good, and after reading about how some foods can affect our bodies, I think he needs some drastic changes in order to start feeling better.

Grain is difficult for some people to process. I hate jumping on the grain-blame-train, I really do. I love bread and pasta. I swore I would never give them up. I was raised in the Midwest, where corn and grain are king! I laughed at Atkins in the early 00’s and questioned why anyone would be dumb enough to give up grains. In this life of suffering, at least give us the pleasure of donuts, lasagna, and toast!

But then those grains went and fucked with my kid, and know my tune has changed.

He exhibits all the classic signs of having trouble with grains (not intolerance, but sensitivity – there is a huge difference). Again, I will spare you the details, but a quick Google search of grain sensitivity symptoms reads like an observatory journal of my son. Even if grains turn out not to be the culprit, I can’t look at this list of symptoms and ignore it. If eliminating grains could be the key to my son’s health, I have to try. I’ll try anything.

And that, dear blog, is where the struggles come in. Kiddo1 understands that he is not healthy, but he is not standing ready and willing to do something about it, especially when that something involves him giving up the comforts of bread. Also, Mr. Handsome and I have a delicate balancing act between getting him to eat the right things versus just getting him to eat, period! He does not have a strong appetite (my gut tells me this is a deeper symptom of the grain intolerance, and it is often listed as a symptom of grain sensitivity). Sometimes I can’t justify taking away bread when bread is all he’ll eat!

So there we are – feed him the “right things” and fight to get him to eat it OR just feed him something he’ll eat and avoid the fight. It’s a struggle that is on my mind all the time.

This is how I’m dealing (this, and WINE).

  • Offer the good stuff first. I know that 9 times out of 10 (or 10 times out of 10!) he’ll reject what I offer and want something else. But I offer and sometimes he takes it. I don’t give up. This has started to pay off if you can believe it. Details below.
  • Take the food to him. I don’t like this one, but I don’t know what else to do. This kid is 11 years old and I would like more than anything for him to just make his own damn food already! Not every meal, but a snack, breakfast, some lunches… these are not hard things to make. He is perfectly capable of making these meals BUT he’s not willing to make them with the things I want him to eat. Yet. In the meantime, I will bring things to him. And, now that he is getting used to some things, he’s making them for himself again. We’re also going to work on learning a few meals that he can cook himself. That is one of our summer goals. Eventually we will get back to the point where he’s making more of his food, but I feel like he needs a little hand-holding or a little guiding to get him through this transition. I know it sounds like babying, but in practice it is really me forcing him to eat what I want! So it’s messed up all around, really. But I find it easier to “force” him if he thinks he’s getting away with being lazy.
  • If When he doesn’t like the food I offer, he has to make something that he will eat and he has to actually eat it. And no one can decide they don’t like something until they taste it – even if it’s the millionth time it is served.
  • Stay positive about the changes. It’s really easy to say, nevermind, this is too hard. I have wanted to say it and give up several times! But as discouraged as I am by my son’s rejection, I’m motivated by him. He is my catalyst for change, he always has been. It is because I want him to be healthy that I started down this road in the first place. We have been “giving up” his whole life and that is changing. I tell Mr. Handsome – WE are the adults. We are the only force for change here. He will not change himself, and it should not be up to him to be the change! He’s a kid! We are the ones who need to take that burden for him. When he is ready, when we are ready, he can take on more responsibility, but we aren’t there yet.

Last night for dinner we had an amazing meal – pasture-based pork medallions with fingerling potatoes and caramelized onions alongside a romaine salad cut from the garden moments before serving. The potatoes were the “worst” thing on the table as far as nutrition goes! I cooked everything in my cast iron skillet with ghee made from grass-fed butter, otherwise no added dairy, no processed anything (the pork was the closest thing to processed, and only because it had to be butchered), no grains, no GMOs. A nearly perfect meal. So of course I knew Kiddo1 would reject it. BUT, I offered it first. I placed a medallion on his plate with some potatoes.

To my surprise, he ate the pork. To my utter shock and amazement he said he liked it! He said I could make it AGAIN! He ate the WHOLE THING!!! Not the potatoes or onions or salad, but whatever! I am clinging to my one success, no matter how small. It is really hard to get this kid to eat pork. It’s hard to get him to eat any meat but chicken, and even THAT is hard sometimes. (Side note: Part of my victory with the pork, I think, is that I finally learned how to cook pasture-based pork, which is different from conventional meat. More on that in another post; it will be a book review of “Long Way on a Little” by Shannon Hayes.)

Kiddo1 has also started eating a leaf of romaine with his sandwiches, which is the only thing keeping him in sandwiches right now. He tried some spelt flour tortillas and actually liked those, too, so I’m trying to encourage more wraps rather than sandwiches. He goes for it most of the time if you can believe it! More encouragement for me.

When I started this post a couple days ago, it was not on a good day. But since then there have been just enough small victories that I’ve managed to keep my head up. It is important to stay positive! If, after the frustrations a few days ago, I had relented, then I wouldn’t have had the victory last night. And it won’t be the only victory. Fueled by my love for my son and my desire to get him healthy, I will make it through the next disturbance about food and I will continue to cook 3 meals a day (even though it’s exhausting!) and offer him wholesome goodness at every meal. Someday it will be less of a struggle.

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