Let’s Do This…

It’s been a long journey to get to a place of believing that sharing our family struggles openly, honestly, and on a social media forum could actually be beneficial. Our family has had a dramatic change in the way we approach life, from the way we eat, to how we live. The underlying theme of our story isn’t about weight loss or size, it’s about our battle for optimal health. We have made decisions to look for the root cause and work at fixing those issues from a natural stance versus submitting to the traditional medical options.

The story starts with me and my love for food. I enjoy cooking, entertaining, and serving others with food as a show of love. Cooking is my love language! I’ve never had a real knowledge or appreciation for nutrition though. I just wanted to eat and serve food that tasted good not really understanding all the implications of what we put in our body. For the majority of my life that has worked, but after having our first child, Parker, my body changed very drastically. I delved into learning about nutrition, and the way I cook now has dramatically changed because of this. As I was learning about how to eat whole unprocessed foods, I thought was doing the right things, but yet I never felt all that great. And after we experienced multiple miscarriages while trying for a second child, I knew something wasn’t right. Through the help of an Integrative Doctor as well as the help of my OBGYN, I found that I had several food allergies, the start of an underlying autoimmune disease, and genetic mutation that plays a huge part in how my body works. Through trial and error, I have found that I feel and function best when focusing on an anti-inflammatory/modified paleo diet.

For a while I was just focusing on doing an anti-inflammatory diet for myself, but then my son, who was 4 at the time, started having tummy issues. He complained of his tummy hurting all the time and wasn’t eating as much because of this. I was giving him real whole foods but I wasn’t avoiding any anti-inflammatory foods with him. He also had bad eczema that he’s battled since a baby. But at this point in time it had flared to a point that I couldn’t control it. His legs were inflamed, his toes were cracked and bleeding, and his skin started to loose pigmentation (see pictures at end of post). Although he was too young to be embarrassed by his skin, it was hard to see him hurt. Because of my history, we took him to be food allergy tested. Sure enough, gluten and dairy were his big triggers. For an entire year we have been gluten free and mostly dairy free with the exception of occasional cheese. At first his skin improved so much. I was ecstatic and optimistic that this was our new norm for him. But slowly over time he had a few flare ups, some which were unknown and others from accidental gluten exposure via cross-contamination. He also started to become so sensitive to cross-contamination on gluten free foods, we could barely even go out to eat without him having a flare up. I did more research on what was going on and how we could help him. It was out of the question to have him tested for celiac disease. Because he had been gluten free the only way to accurately test was through a biopsy of his small intestines. I didn’t need the test done to know how sensitive he was to gluten. I just wanted to know what to do to help him. We were challenged on what was the right thing to do. Theoretically we could just deal with the problems sticking to a gluten free dairy free diet forever. However, we were slowly taking him off of other gluten free foods because one day corn would bother him and the next it would be something else. We were always confused and I didn’t know when it would end?! How many foods would he slowly keep responding negatively to? And what kind of life would that be if things kept getting worse and he’s only 5 now. I am worried about his future and what if things get worse or other problems start. I also worry about his ability to be included in social functions. We already bring substitutes every where we go. What may seem manageable now because we are mostly in control, won’t always be the case in the future.

After lots of prayer, research, and personal experience, we believe that doing an anti-inflammatory and modified Paleo type of diet will give our son the proper nutrition to thrive. However, we have decided to first go a step further to help heal his system by doing the GAPS diet. It’s a diet that focuses on healing the gut by removing inflammatory foods, killing off the bad bacteria while reinoculating the gut with good bacteria and gut healing properties. This is mainly achieved by 1) properly preparing food by soaking and sprouting nuts and beans 2) through natural probiotics and fermented foods like yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, kombucha, kimchi 3) healing the damaged gut through meat stocks, bone broth, and gelatin. It’s more in depth then that, there is a very methodical process to it all, but that’s the basic gist. The goal in doing this is to heal the damage and repair his gut back to a normal healthy state. The end result will be for us to reduce his sensitivities allowing us a more “normal” quality of life with more manageable dietary restrictions.

I chose GAPS (Gut and Psychology Syndrome) protocol based on the notion of countless success stories in children as well as the fact that I could hire an experienced practitioner to help me through it. Theoretically, I could do the plan on my own as there are so many resources available. But honestly, because this is going to be so hard, I want someone to hold my hand and advise through their expertise versus figuring it out on my own.

For those who are reading this thinking we are completely crazy, that is okay. It’s easy to feel that way and assume we have lost our minds. But the reality is that there is an immense amount of scientific data supporting the reduction of inflammatory foods because of the havoc it can wreak on our systems. Even the best of fitness enthusiast can have a hard time believing that a simple elimination of dairy or gluten can make a difference. I definitely can understand the skepticism. But how can you truly know if you have never tried? The hottest fad health program on the market right now is proof at what that can do. The Whole30 Program is designed to remove inflammatory foods for 30 days, give your body time to reset, and then slowly reintroduce those foods to see how it responds. People are so changed they didn’t even realize some issues they had until they took problematic foods away. I have first hand experience with how food affects my body and I’m also a Whole30 Alumni. I highly recommend it to anyone!

And maybe at that you might say okay, well I might could see how removing dairy or gluten or processed oils might be beneficial but what about the people who remove all that and still have problems? And that’s where I say it’s more complicated for some.. like us, who with just removing wasn’t enough. We have had to go steps further for help. As in we removed the gas off the fire, but never put the fire to rest. We can question, debate, and cry about why and how these things happen. But the truth is that they do, and we are still trying to learn how to prevent or intervene to help circumvent further problems. There is so much research on the immune system and gut brain connection. You won’t find the answers in most traditional medical practices, but those who practice by working on the root issue. Check out my List of Resources tab on my page for more information.

So at the end of the day, I had a decision to make. To accept the reality of our circumstances or give it a good fight with everything we have. Our whole family committed to doing the GAPS protocol. I just couldn’t ask my son to do something I wasn’t willing to do. And honestly, we could all benefit from gut healing. The only exception is that due to my husband’s extensive business meetings and travel, he will be on a modified plan. And thankfully for Mommy and Daddy, there are some approved alcoholic beverages on occasion! At the end of the day, I know this is going to be incredibly hard. And I have no idea what will happen or how much healing will take place. But I have to give this a try, because nothing else has worked. And truly, if there’s a chance, even a glimpse of a chance that this will help, then why wouldn’t I try? Better to try then always wonder what if?

I hesitantly share this journey knowing there will be critics. But if one person reads this who is desperate for help, realizes they can do this, or if one person learns enough to make small changes, or if any of the allergy friendly recipes help a family with a fresh idea, or even if this support is just what someone needed… well then sharing our journey will be worth it. This is my purpose and without question, I will go to the ends of the earth to help my son. I know that the only way we will get through this is by the strength of our good Lord. He will provide the way, He will provide our strength and discipline. And I believe He will be glorified through our story.

We appreciate any support and prayers as we start this journey.

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. ~ 2 Corinthians 12:9

Here is a picture of my sweet Parker (5) and Bailey (2.5). The really do melt me!

Here is a picture of Parker’s flare ups. When his skin flares up it takes 2-3 weeks to get it calmed back down. I wanted everyone reading this to see a visual and understand why it is imperative we get him help.