Every once in a while I think that I should give a little update on Aneliese’s health. And then I forget again because mostly, I don’t think about it anymore. Well, except when we eat out anywhere. About a year ago, I wrote about Aneliese’s health issues and how we began a gluten free diet. Within weeks she began to show signs of improvement although it took several months before she was as healthy as she needed to be. During that time we have only had one serious episode of illness after eating out. She is now growing well, has healthy skin and hair, and is overall thriving.
We have seen one pediatrician who strongly suggested that she have a biopsy of her small intestine for an official Celiac Disease diagnosis but because she had already been off any gluten, it could have taken months for damage to reoccur in her intestines causing more harm to her body. So at this point, we are strictly gluten free without the official diagnosis. It’s inconvenient at times but not really a problem.
As I have mentioned before and as would be gathered by any of my recipes, we all simply eat the same way (other than if we eat out or if Dan and I have a snack or treat when the kids aren’t there;). We keep Cecily to the same diet as Aneliese and will do the same with Kathleen.
Really though, I don’t actually consider our food choices to be gluten free as much as we focus on eating traditional foods. The reality is that a gluten free diet has the potential to be extremely damaging and unhealthy, especially when the packaged and processed foods are used, because of the excessive use of sugar, additives, and the many things often used to make it more palatable. I often share weekly meal plans which would give an idea of how we eat, but by traditional foods I mean lots of meat, eggs, vegetables and saturated fats (low/no fat is a bad word in our house:). I have a grease pot in which I store and use bacon grease. We have been known to eat a dozen eggs between us for breakfast. We use sea salt and butter quite liberally. We don’t supplement much other than cod liver oil and Vitamin D and A during the winter months. There is a large pot of chicken bones simmering into broth on the stove and a grass fed beef liver thawing in the fridge (mmm). We drink things like nettle tea. I try not to use a lot of grains even gluten free ones. Sugar is limited to special treats and even for those, I would prefer to use honey or some other sweetener.
I’m not much of a soapboxer, I prefer to just quietly live how I do and answer questions gladly in this department so I was excited to see my friend Lola’s excellent post on a traditional food diet. Basically, she says what I would like to say only better and more concisely than I could. She also has lots of links for your reading pleasure. I am going to share part of her post here but I would really recommend that you read the rest as well. Even if you think we are crazy, it is worth your time to look into and to consider. And if I am preaching to the choir, then you can be happy knowing that you aren’t alone!
To pretty much any child-feeding advice that you get promoting a low fat, low cholesterol, high grain fiber diet.
1. Children need cholesterol, saturated fat and fat soluble vitamins in their NATURALLY occurring forms (you know, the foods they are found in and NOT a fortified grain product)
2. Iron is vital to a child’s development so … feed them foods rich in Iron. No, oatmeal, rice cereal, and wheat cereal are not foods rich in iron. They are foods incredibly low in iron that are fortified with a hard to absorb supplement that causes constipation. Babies don’t even produce the digestive enzyme needed to break down grain until they are over two years old. These same grains actually contain phytic acid that drastically reduces mineral absorption. But guess what is rich in iron? Egg yolks (you don’t have to give them the white which can cause allergic reactions in some babies) liver, and meat. If babies need iron, and the foods that are rich in iron are eggs and meat, then babies probably need eggs and meat.
3. Skim milk is not good for children. It isn’t good for adults either. If you drink milk, drink it whole. The fat in milk is what holds the vitamin A and K2 which are incredibly vital for bone formation and immunity. Vitamin K2 takes minerals and directs them to where they are supposed to go. For instance, the bones rather than the soft tissues. And, while I don’t think milk that is grass-fed and unpasteurized is bad for you, I also don’t think milk is essential to good growth and development if you are willing to feed your children tradition foods like bone broths, nettle infusions, fish with bones and greens. You can be exceptionally healthy with or without dairy if you use it in its original form.
4. Saturated fat is Good! I promise you it is. Vegetable oils go rancid quickly after processing and all omega 6′s and 3′s should be obtained from the actual foods they are present in while still in their original form. This would be foods like almonds, walnuts, vegetables, meats and avocado. Vegetable oils have been associated with cancer and inflammation for decades now (go ahead, look into it. It will probably surprise you how obvious it is). The exception for this is a very high quality cod liver oil. The mixture of cod liver oil with pastured saturated fat is what good bones are made of
Saturated fat is required for a healthy brain and body. That means lard, butter, fatty meats, coconut oil and eggs must be eaten. These foods all have other health promoting qualities as well and they will give your children a healthy brain, a strong body and a beautiful glow. The use of organic cold pressed olive oil that is NOT cooked is okay on salads. Even olive oil goes rancid quickly when heated.
5. Choline is VITAL. Saturated fat is good for you but without Choline, it’s bad for your liver. If you eat a high saturated fat diet that is also high in fructose, sugar and insulin spiking foods, your liver will accumulate fat because it doesn’t have the right tools to break it down into bile and eliminate it from the body. But all your liver needs is choline. This makes sense because our original diet prior to fifty-ish years ago was high in saturated fat and also high in choline. Choline is found in egg yolk and liver. Few people eat liver these days and many people eat eggs rarely or even worse, without the yolk. For children, this is crucial for not only the liver but also the brain. Choline during pregnancy and early childhood affects memory and intelligence. Feed your babies egg yolks as a first food and keep on giving it to them until they move out of the house.
6. Babies need bacteria. We all need bacteria. Our whole immunity starts in our guts and antibiotics wipe out our entire beautiful ecosystem. Give babies and children fermented foods and vegetables such as homemade kefir and yogurt, unpastuerized sauerkraut and fermented pickles. And that’s not all. They need bacteria from everything around them. From dirt and from people. I’m really serious. Do not sterilize your children because you are doing their long term immunity a huge disservice. I’m not telling you to let some sick kids sneeze all over your baby. I’m saying that normal transfer of germs is beneficial.
7. Sugar is hard on your immune system. It just is. It makes you sick. When you mix sugar and grain and vegetable oil (pretty much any cookie, cake or treat) you get a body wrecking trio. So, limit sugar to very rare occasions for OLDER children and you will help avoid many an illness. Babies never need sugar.
To read the rest and for the links go to Lola’s blog, Nearer Still…
I’ve been working towards eating this way for about four years but dealing with Aneliese’s illness made me realize that I needed to be even more proactive. And it has paid off. Dan, my loving skeptic agrees. Our daughters are very healthy, are rarely sick even mildly, and seem to have quite strong immune systems. I, who have always been the illness magnet, have only had a couple of short lived bouts in the last year. It has been this way even though we have been around people who are sick. **I should note that I am currently taking several natural supplements to right some imbalances that my diet doesn’t seem to be overcoming right now. I also want to say that I’m not sharing this to give myself a pat on the back because we still have times where I have a hard time sticking with it. And I am not the sugar police. Nor do I share this to promise that if you eat this way that all of your problems will be solved, even health wise. But, I will say that it has been worth it and that I fully believe that you and your children will be better equipped to fight off illness and such. I am certain that this is why Aneliese has recovered so well and in a short time.
I also know that this way of eating is more costly and takes more time but in the long run, it pays off. Two years ago, when Aneliese was at her sickest, we had to spend fifty dollars on antibiotics that she needed to take for just a few days and that was just the one time. That adds up. Lest it sounds like I am advocating eating this way only if you have visible unwellness, I would honestly think most people would benefit in so many ways from this way of eating. For children especially, it is both a preventive and proactive diet. And there are ways to save pennies and get bang for your buck but this is already getting quite long and almost a rant. So my last thought is this, click on Lola’s blog, check out some of the links, and let me know your thoughts or questions.