Thursday, October 23, 2008

This has gone too far...

I guess I like to experience the best a place has to offer. In England, their forte was history and scenery and milk fat. There were just so many kinds of wonderful cream and butter to explore! So little time!

In Boulder it is fitness and alternative medicine. Certainly these can be healthy pursuits to explore. So the family has launched into what can only be described as a diet odyssey.

It started about a year and a half ago when Rees began throwing up at night. About once every other week he would wake up, say he felt bad, then throw up, then feel better. The first couple of times we thought he was coming down with a stomach bug, but he was a new person in the morning, completely recovered. Then we thought it might be something he ate, but it would happen even on nights when his diet remained as monotonous as ever. It was a mystery.

I thought about going to the doctor, but what would they do? They could do blood tests and allergy tests and put him on an elimination diet, but that all seemed very intrusive and exhausting to me. It was likely to be expensive and possible they wouldn’t come up with anything.

Instead, I thought I’d take him to this chiropractor/naturopath I had heard about to see what she thought. She might at least point us in the right direction based on her intuition. If it worked, great, if not, there was no harm done.

She looked Rees over and did some adjustments, tested him a bit and said that he needed to avoid five foods: banana, pepper, tomato, egg, and soy. I was surprised. I had been thinking wheat and dairy were the culprits, and since he is a vegetarian, I was concerned about his protein intake. To avoid wheat and dairy, I had been slipping egg and soy into anything I could get him to eat. I slipped it right out again and he stopped throwing up.

One day he absentmindedly grabbed a big fresh tomato Greg had used to make a sandwich and ate a few bites. That night, he threw up. Another time, after a morning bike ride and breakfast outing with some friends, he threw up again. When asked what he had for breakfast: French toast.

He hasn’t thrown up since.

At the same time, Kadin had some eczema on the inside of his elbows. I thought I’d see what this chiropractor/naturopath had to say. She said he needed to avoid peanuts and soy. He had been having peanut butter on a rice cake every morning. When he switched to almond butter, the eczema went away. A few months later, when it recurred, it turned out he had been having peanut butter and jelly sandwiches at school for lunch. When he stopped, it went away again.

Easy! Well, easy except for the soy. I started reading labels and we’re not talking just avoid the tofu and the edamamé here, we’re talking soybean oil, soy lechithin, hydrolyzed soy protein, it's in everything. It’s cheap! It’s available! It’s widely used: salad dressing, chocolate, crackers, deli meats, even some frozen fruit.

Given the success with Rees and Kadin's health, I thought I’d give it a go too. Driving to my appointment, I felt I could eat anything, that I had an iron digestion. I was going to be pleased to find out that I was as solid as a rock. But I was the worst of all: no dairy, no soy, no wheat, no peanuts. What???

Well, it couldn’t hurt to avoid these foods for a time, so I launched into a new diet. I felt much better. After a month or so, I felt things were shifting so I returned to the practitioner. Now she said dairy was okay, but gluten wasn’t, soy wasn’t, corn wasn’t. So it was no wheat, oats, rye, or barley for me. Soy, too, was difficult to avoid. But when I stuck to the diet I really did feel better: my skin cleared up, my digestion moved smoothly, I had more energy.

About the same time, the cats started seeing a new vet who made house calls. Whenever I took Rex to the vet he would suddenly transform from lovable goof and sweetie pie into attack cat. The vet hated him and wouldn’t even examine him, so what was the point? With the home-visit vet, appointments went from stressful and useless to gentle love-fests on the couch. Much better. She is also a wholistic vet and so gave me some information about a more natural diet for the cats. They too needed to eat better food and she left me with a handout of helpful suggestions that I put on the fridge.

When Greg came home one day and found a list on the fridge labeled "diet suggestions" that included things like "raw meat," he thought I'd gone off the deep. “This has gone too far!” he declared. I reassured him that it was for the cats. Well, okay then. Just shows you how far the diet odyssey had gone at that point.

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