Sunday, May 15, 2011

A New Adventure - Welcome to the World of Nutritional Healing

My sister-in-law recently asked my brother if I was ok.  Why?  Because I was not blogging anymore more.  There are many reasons why I haven't been blogging as much.  I actually had been blogging quite a bit but it was on my book blog.  I was really enjoying book blogging until one of my children got sick about 3 months ago.  Then all my time and energy went to him and trying to figure out how to help him.  There were just not enough hours in the day and something had to go... reading for pleasure and blogging went.

What exactly was wrong with my son ... no one really knows.  He has not slept well in a really long time.  At least a year and a half and probably closer to two years.  Personally I believe lack of sleep brought on his recent health issues.  When you don't get enough sleep, especially as a growing teenager it can cause a lot of problems.  But what was causing the lack of sleep? medical illness, mental illness, a combination of both?  What brought on those conditions?

What do you do when medical doctors don't have the answers and their only solution is to put your child on medication, medication that doesn't cure but just treats the symptoms.  Medication that has horrible side effects and when one medication isn't doing the job they add another one. Medications that costs $1600 a month that we have to pay 25% of making out portion $400 a month. Oh and by the way we should tell you that the medication is known to cause diabetes and often causes uncontrollable weight gain no matter how healthy you eat and a host of other symptoms as well but sorry your child needs to be on this medication possibly for life.  What do you do.... you find a new doctor!  One who is willing to work with you to find the cause, not just mask the symptoms.

What else do you do?  Well if you are like my husband & I you read and study and pray and read some more and have faith that things will turn out ok in the end.

We are LDS.  I have a very strong testimony and belief in God.  I was given a blessing that said as I read and studied and prayed I would be inspired to know how to help our son, that he would be fine and the outcome would be positive. My son was given a blessing that he would be healed.  So that is where I put my faith, in the power of the priesthood and in the power of God.  I know the Lord can heal our son and that he can inspire my husband & I to know what to do and how to help him so that those blessing will be fulfilled.  We will do everything in our power to ensure that blessing is fulfilled.

So we turn to the internet and dozens of books on a myriad of topics.  I've drawn my conclusions and started to make some major changes.  

Nearly 2 years ago I started couponing.  I loved going shopping and getting free and dirt cheap items.  The problem is nearly everything I bought was processed, refined, sugar filled garbage.  From cold cereal to hamburger helper, canned foods to freezer pizza, almost everything nutritionally speaking was not healthy.  Little Caesar's pizza and Taco Tuesdays at Del Taco became weekly outings and home cooked meals were few and far between. It was much easier to put a Costco lasagna in the oven instead of making a meal from scratch.  There were weeks when I didn't have a single piece of fresh fruit or vegetables in the house.  Lucky Charms for breakfast, hot pocket for lunch and pizza for dinner with cookies, brownies and chips for snacks. Not a healthy way to eat.

Ultimately I think our son's issues stemmed from poor diet and nutrition.  I fully realize there is the possibility of other things going on but diet and lack of nutrition compounded the problem.  If my blessing is to be fulfilled and My son is to be fine than there are things we can do to help, diet and nutrition being the first and most important.

Many a medical doctor would tell me I'm crazy but it was the father of medicine Hippocrates who said "All disease begins in the gut" & "Let food by thy medicine and medicine be thy food".  Everything I've read leads me to believe that there is more truth in those statements that I would have believed could be possible.

Dr. Campbell-McBride is one doctor whose research fascinates me - she's written a book called Gut and Psychology Syndrome - I've not yet read the book but have ordered it and plan on reading it.  A quote from her that has really got me thinking is: "Left untreated, gut dysfunction can snowball into a lifelong struggle with neuropsychological and physical disorders from chronic fatigue and IBS to depression and bi-polar".

There is a wealth of information out there - everyone claims there way is the right way and everyone has contradictory information!  There is only one food everyone agrees is safe to eat in unlimited quantities and that is vegetables!  Everything else from fruit to milk to wheat to meat is objected to by someone.

I just received a timely email today from a site called Incredible Smoothies and here is what is said:
Today's focus is on diet. What is the healthiest diet? The truth is, nobody really knows! 
Every health expert has a strong opinion on what the healthiest diet is and is not. Every dietary philosophy contradicts and confuses. Nutrition science just gives me a migraine.  Some experts recommend a vegetarian or vegan diet while others say you need to eat meat in order to be healthy.  Some say you should eat lots of carbohydrates or fruit while others say you should avoid carbohydrates and especially fruit.  Some experts promote a raw food diet while others say cooking "made us human".  If you tried to follow every piece of diet advice out there, you'd lose your mind, and probably your health just trying to make sense of it all.

Boy did she nail exactly what I am feeling right on the head!

I don't know who is right and who is wrong but I figure the best bet for me is to go with the Word of Wisdom.

1 A Word of Wisdom, for the benefit of the council of high priests, assembled in Kirtland, and the church, and also the saints in Zion—
2 To be sent greeting; not by commandment or constraint, but by revelation and the word of wisdom, showing forth the order and will of God in the temporal salvation of all saints in the last days—
3 Given for a principle with promise, adapted to the capacity of the weak and the weakest of all saints, who are or can be called saints.
4 Behold, verily, thus saith the Lord unto you: In consequence of evils and designs which do and will exist in the hearts of conspiring men in the last days, I have warned you, and forewarn you, by giving unto you this word of wisdom by revelation—
5 That inasmuch as any man drinketh wine or strong drink among you, behold it is not good, neither meet in the sight of your Father, only in assembling yourselves together to offer up your sacraments before him.
6 And, behold, this should be wine, yea, pure wine of the grape of the vine, of your own make.
7 And, again, strong drinks are not for the belly, but for the washing of your bodies.
8 And again, tobacco is not for the body, neither for the belly, and is not good for man, but is an herb for bruises and all sick cattle, to be used with judgment and skill.
9 And again, hot drinks are not for the body or belly.
10 And again, verily I say unto you, all wholesome herbs God hath ordained for the constitution, nature, and use of man—
11 Every herb in the season thereof, and every fruit in the season thereof; all these to be used with prudence and thanksgiving.
12 Yea, flesh also of beasts and of the fowls of the air, I, the Lord, have ordained for the use of man with thanksgiving; nevertheless they are to be used sparingly;
13 And it is pleasing unto me that they should not be used, only in times of winter, or of cold, or famine.
14 All grain is ordained for the use of man and of beasts, to be the staff of life, not only for man but for the beasts of the field, and the fowls of heaven, and all wild animals that run or creep on the earth;
15 And these hath God made for the use of man only in times of famine and excess of hunger.
16 All grain is good for the food of man; as also the fruit of the vine; that which yieldeth fruit, whether in the ground or above the ground—
17 Nevertheless, wheat for man, and corn for the ox, and oats for the horse, and rye for the fowls and for swine, and for all beasts of the field, and barley for all useful animals, and for mild drinks, as also other grain.
18 And all saints who remember to keep and do these sayings, walking in obedience to the commandments, shall receive health in their navel and marrow to their bones;
19 And shall find wisdom and great treasures of knowledge, even hidden treasures;
20 And shall run and not be weary, and shall walk and not faint.
21 And I, the Lord, give unto them a promise, that the destroying angel shall pass by them, as the children of Israel, and not slay them. Amen.

That email had some other advice that I totally feels fits right in with the course we are on...
The good news is, there are core fundamentals that nearly every health expert agrees on: 
1 - Eat a plant-based diet.... Whatever you do, be sure to eat at minimum 5 servings (better if you eat 10 or more servings) of fresh, whole, ripe, raw fruits and vegetables every day!
Health experts and gurus who do eat meat strongly recommend seeking out grass-fed products from small farms and to avoid, at all costs, anything that was raised in a factory farm (sadly, the vast majority of animal foods in supermarkets and restaurants).

2 - Avoid processed, modern convenience foods. I prefer to call them "manufactured" foods. Anything that has been processed and comes in a package, box or bag, or that has been dehydrated, pre-cooked, refined or tampered with in any way from it's natural state, should not play any more than a miniscule role in your diet. 
3 - Health is more than just what you eat. You can eat the healthiest diet on the planet and still fall short of being healthy if the rest of your life is out of balance. A healthy diet is no substitute for exercise, sunshine, positive outlook and fulfilling relationships. 
If you recognize that your diet is in need of a serious overhaul, don't feel pressured to change it overnight. It takes time to establish a new habit.

I do feel pressure, tremendous pressure to make overnight changes.

Armed with the knowledge we have started to make drastic changes in the way we eat.  It has meant that I have cleaned out my kitchen and food storage of almost everything processed or refined.  Most everything that has additives, sugar, preservatives, etc. has been thrown away or given away. No corn syrup, no refined sugar, no MSG, no aspartme or splenda, no additives - if I can't pronounce it then we can't eat it.  I'm working on getting rid of the rest of the processed food and trying to replace it with healthy alternatives. Anyone know of a good alternative to ranch dressing to make raw vegetables edible?

Changes that have been made so far been embraced fairly well by most of the family.  A little bribery helped - if the kids go off sugar for the month they get to go to Disneyland.  My 4 youngest children have been very good about not eating sugar.  They have all turned down multiple offers of sugar and other sweets and I'm so proud of them.  

Of course I'm just the mom and don't know anything according to my teenage son because I'm not a doctor but at least after giving me a hard time and saying he won't do something he usually complies with my ideas.  He has willing sat through countless doctors appointments sometimes as many as 3 or 4 a week.  He's submitted to several rounds of bloodwork including the most recent round which included 16 vials of blood being drawn, he's willing taken what seems like a zillion supplements a day and for the most part embraced our new diet (if it weren't for those dang church activities where all they serve are sugar filled processed refreshments he'd be doing much better).  

Today I picked up my bountiful basket of fruit and vegetables.  We didn't order just one basket for the week we ordered 3.  (Anyone want any artichokes - we made a valiant effort and tried them tonight but once this week was more than enough). I walk through the aisles of the grocery store chanting - whole foods, unprocessed food, no sugar, no refined foods, no additives and end up putting very little in my cart that is not found in the produce aisle.  

I've learned how to make green smoothies which are more often than not quite good or at least edible in most cases. I've taught myself to tolerate raw vegetables by forcing myself to just take a couple bites of them each day.  I am trying to cook everything we eat from scratch.  It is time consuming.  My dishwasher needs to be run 3 or 4 times a day.  Other things are not getting done like folding the laundry and cleaning the toilets.  But I can only run so fast each day and at the end of the day try to focus on what did get done instead of what didn't.

My family blog is titled - It May Not Be Easy But It Sure Is Worth It....  I decided to keep the same title for this new blog.  It is not easy but I am sure it will be worth it!

The good news is my oldest son has now been off all his medication for a week!  The last couple nights he has even gone to sleep without any melatonin or other herbs or supplements to help him sleep.  He's happier than I have seen him in the past year. 

I realize there might be set backs coming.  There may be times when medication will be necessary again. I've consulted with 3 different doctors and have back up plans in place.  It's a lot of trial and error and I don't have all the answers but for now the stress of the last couple months is gone.  I don't wake up wondering and worrying what the day will bring.  I don't cringe because I'm no longer handing my son pills that I know are going to have long term side effects.

I'm grateful for simple things like having the technology to draw and analyze blood to tell us there are deficiencies in vitamins and amino acids and inflammation that needs to be addressed.  I'm grateful for a husband who stays up late researching and gives up some of his favorite foods and sits down to a dinner that is definitely not steak and potatoes without complaint and that he didn't look at me like I'm crazy when I got rid of the microwave.  I'm grateful for simple things like walking into the library and seeing a book on the counter that has the exact information I need.  For doing an online search based on something my sister in law suggested and finding out there is a free class on that subject the very next day here is my small town.  For arriving at the health food store at the same time a knowledgeable health food person is making a delivery and can answer my questions.  I'm grateful for my Uncle and Aunt and don't even want to think of where we would be at without their intervention and help. I'm grateful for my dad who knew things were tight for us and helped out with medical bills and took our 4 younger kids for a week so we could have a week to focus all our attention on just our oldest.  I'm grateful for my brother who cared enough to get involved and sought out help when we didn't know what to do or where to turn.  I'm grateful for the fasting and prayers of family members and friends.  In case you can't tell I'm feeling very grateful for answers to prayers that have come in small and simple ways.  So here we go on a new grand adventure of trial and error and we try to become healthier.

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