Special thanks to Meaghan Jackson for sharing her family’s food journey to health. Megan’s dedication to food discovery led her family to the healing power of food. Check out her blog at Joyful Mud Puddles
A Journey to Healing
Our journey to food healing has been a long one. Thank you Nicole for allowing me to share our story with you all.
Ours was one of those that you look back to see the clues were there all along but so subtle that they didn’t add up until it was much worse. My boys were suffering from digestive issues. It should have been a simple enough problem to solve, yet my efforts were fruitless.
We visited our family doctor multiple times over the years, whom finally sent us to a pediatrician to look into things further. This process was very slow and involved many tests. In the meantime I started doing my own research.
I visited our local health food store and attended all the free workshops I could. What I was learning about seemed to match up with common symptoms my boys had suffered from for years. Ear infections, constipation, diarrhea, stomach pains, allergies, sinus issues… Over and over again the suggestions were to remove dairy and gluten from your diet.
My husband wasn’t so sure about changing the kids’ diet but was willing to give it ago. I kept a food journal and started by taking out dairy. Honestly I was surprised by the results. Do you know after all these years I realized I am sensitive to dairy (even more so than my children)? Weird things that had always been a problem for me disappeared. I had always been itchy and had chronic cankers. Gone! My children’s digestive issues were improving too.
Taking out dairy was not so difficult. We switched to Almond, Coconut and Cashew milks (I noticed my boys didn’t react well to soy). We also made our own Almond milk for a while, which the boys enjoyed. For a treat we would keep some Daiya cheese around. I looked up other foods that had high calcium and added more seeds, nuts and dark green veggies to our diet. Cookies, muffins and smoothies now had secret ingredients!
Unfortunately, the doctors were not interested in our food adventures so more testing was done. After much insistence the pediatrician said she’d have the boys tested for fructose intolerance. That test took over a year of waiting to finally get seen. In the meantime I took the plunge and went gluten free.
Gluten free was much harder for us to keep up. First, because gluten free is rather expensive (and not always tasty); and secondly because it involves far more time in the kitchen preparing meals. This adventure did open us up too many new foods. The boys were less picky. I kept a close eye on how they were feeling. For our family I couldn’t really notice enough to make a big difference. I had fun, but only managed to keep it up for a year or so.
While venturing into the world of gluten free I found that recipes labeled Paleo were the most helpful. We adventurously made cauliflower rice and cauliflower pizza crust! Almond meal (left over from the milk we made) was used in baking. I also used a variety of different flours in our baking. One thing we never managed was to make a good cracker on our own, so we ate rice cakes instead. Since we have a lovely community garden plot, we seemed to be set for veggies. Getting the boys to try them proved a little more difficult, but anything tastes good with ketchup for my guys!
The boys at the time of our food adventures
Finally, a date was set for the fructose test. The results were positive!!! My boys suffer from fructose malabsorption. Meaning that their bodies struggle to break down and use the natural sugars found in many foods. During our final meeting with the pediatrician she said that, “You should just avoid the foods that are upsetting them.” Really?! So that’s it? I just spent over a year and healed my own kids!!! Thanks for nothing, doctor. Okay I was rather annoyed, but at least she did get us the fructose test. We are still waiting for a date for a lactose test….
So now what does one feed a child who is dairy free, gluten free and fructose free (and who isn’t a huge fan of veggies)? The main fructose no-no foods included apples, honey and ketchup. These were staples for my kids. So we were left with meats, nuts/seeds, veggies and a few fruits.
This is where we had to make some decisions as a family. We took everything we had learned and decided to reduce, remove and monitor often. As a whole we are eating much better and enjoy many of the new foods we tried along the way. I have also taken a lot of time to educate the boys regarding food. Unfortunately, we had to be reasonable. Gluten was reintroduced but not as a main food group. Honey, Ketchup and apples stayed but limited. Dairy was allowed as an occasional treat.
I also read all about foods that can heal. So along with removing those foods that were hurting (also called leaky gut), I added in foods that can help. We started making our own Kefir Water along with our own Kombucha. I know that fermented foods are great. Not such a big hit with my own kids but something to look into.
The big lesson I have learned is to never stop searching for answers. Pay close attention to all the signs your body is giving you and don’t ignore them. I want to encourage you all to not settle. If you feel something is wrong, then keep pursuing and never give up.
Bio: Meaghan Jackson
I am a Christian; a mom with wonderful young boys and a fabulous husband. I love all crafts, baking, and blogging. We are a homeschooling family and look forward to sharing this journey with you. http://joyfulmudpuddles.blogspot.ca