Thursday, October 27, 2011

Past the halfway mark (barely)

Today marks Day 16 (of 31) of my family being dairy-, egg-, nut-, and gluten-free. The first week was totally rough as it seemed like there was nothing in the house we could eat except the drywall and hardwood floors. The second week was a little bit better as we even ventured out to some local "restaurants" (okay, I know some of us consider El Pollo Loco a fine dining establishment). Now that we're just beginning our third week, it's just plain torture.

How Are We Feeling?
Towards the end of last week--just as we were beginning our second week into this diet--I began noticing some changes in 'Shroom. I was cautiously optimistic about making some correlations but I was oh so hopeful. His spelling seemed to have improved. Instead of getting more word incorrect than correct, he had one spelling test where ALL the words were correct! Woo hoo! On top of that, he was cranking with his school work. Last Thursday and Friday, we managed to complete our usual six hours of homeschooling in about 4.5 hours. Was this the turning point?!?! Did this mean that we wouldn't have to medicate him in order to get him to focus and concentrate?!?!

When I complimented 'Shroom for his great work and his perfect spelling test, my just-too-bright-for-her-own-good Lolli shrieked at lunchtime, "No, no, no! 'Shroom, you have to do a horrible job! Otherwise we'll be on this diet FOREVER!!!"

What Went Wrong Over the Weekend?!
Well, that feeling of turning a corner in this whole process was short-lived. Air Boss took 'Shroom camping with his Cub Scouts pack and while they had to drive off the campsite for their meals, something must have changed. By Monday, school productivity and 'Shroom's spelling score were at an all-time low. Even Lolli was acting rather antsy and it took her more than half an hour to finish two pages of (rather easy) math. Yesterday was the worst day in homeschool history for us. When I had mentioned this to Air Boss and the supporting details, I teased him about not being too disappointed (lack of academic improvement --> lack of need for diet). I think abstaining from wheat has been the hardest for him. Lack of "results" in the attention span department only meant that come November 12, we'll all be back on a normal diet.

The Real Question
Okay, so I know you're all concerned and deeply interested in how my kids and husband are doing, but I know your real burning questions is, how am I doing? =) In a nutshell, I think I've become crabbier and nastier. Really.

One morning this week, I got a late start in cooking breakfast. Since we've been eating steel cut oatmeal, I've been cooking it on the stove top. And since I was behind on the morning routine, I had the heat on high. As I was dicing apples with my back to the stove, the pot of oatmeal bubbled over and made a huge mess. Lolli had been patiently waiting for her breakfast up until this moment. When I had to drop everything to clean up the mess, she commented, "If only I could just eat a piece of bread!" It was an innocent remark and she really wasn't asking for much - just a piece of bread and some water for breakfast - something simple and something fast.

Well, I flipped. As in flipped out.

"What are you complaining about?!?" I yelled. "At least you're not cooking!!!!"

Whoa. I realized then that this DF/GF/EF/NF/ABC/XYZ diet thing was really getting to me. The poor kid didn't deserve that. I guess the stress of planning special meals, shopping at special markets, and cooking breakfast, lunch and dinner for my ENTIRE family (remember, we homeschool and Air Boss works from home) each day was beginning to get old. And if cooking hot meals wasn't enough, our dishwasher is broken so now I spend an additional half hour hand-washing all the pots, pans and dishes.

Yeah, diet schmiet. I am so ready for this thing to be over. Maybe it's not such a bad thing that there isn't any noticeable improvement in 'Shroom's attention span.

Monday, October 17, 2011

One week into the DF/GF/EF/NF diet

Technically we're not quite at the one week mark but we're close enough to it.

The Weigh-In
I'm happy to report that 'Shroom's weight has remained the same for the most part - he's gained about half a pound but that can be attributed to the fact that he's wearing jeans today. Lolli on the other hand, has lost almost half a pound but that can also be attributed by her clothing. Okay - in the spirit of full-disclosure, I've gained about 0.2 pounds. Let's just say it's due to my hoodie that I'm wearing (but I won't tell you I took it off before weigh-in).

Perhaps the hardest part of this dairy-free, gluten-free, egg-free and nut-free diet is lack of snack foods around the house. I'm a huge snacker. HUGE. I graze all day. My meals are smaller but I probably eat another meal's worth of snacks throughout the day. Lately I've noticed my meals getting much larger. Uh oh.

Costco Shopping
To combat my meal-time binge eating, I've decided to stock up on some diet friendly foods. Instead of my usual shopping cart (or "carriage" as my New England friends would say) full of bulk-items, I walked out of Costco yesterday with less than half a dozen items: steel cut oatmeal, cranberries, mangoes, case of soy milk and edamame. I now have some dried fruit and veggie chips (thanks Trader Joe's!) for my snack options.

The Temptations
The kids smelled the Costco hog dogs and pizza and were soo sad they couldn't have any. I guess I didn't plan the day well as we were shopping right around lunch time. To make matters worse, all the sample ladies were out in full force in the shopping aisles. We managed to make it through the gauntlet without a taste of anything.

I didn't plan on eavesdropping on the kids' conversation this morning but I did hear a cute dialogue between the two of them as they made their beds.

Lolli: I can't wait for this diet to be over.
'Shroom: Me too.
Lolli: If today was the first day off our diet, what would you like to eat?
'Shroom: I'd love to eat donuts! [laughter] What about you?
Lolli: I would stuff my face with a chocolate alligator!

[Incidentally, our friends had returned from visiting FL and brought back two solid chocolate alligators so hence the reference.]

Well, 6 days down and another 24 more to go!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Our New "Free" Diet

Several months ago, Air Boss and I had taken 'Shroom to see a neurologist in order to figure out once and for all "what was wrong with him" - to put it bluntly. Ever since he was 15 months old, he was labeled as "developmentally delayed" and that has translated to a lot of different things over the course of his life.

We went to the doctor with the assumption that 'Shroom may have Asperger's Syndrome but wanted further medical insight into this possibility. The long and short of it was that the doctor didn't think 'Shroom had Aspergers. Instead, he cited Attention Deficient Disorder (ADD) as the probable issue at hand. While 'Shroom doesn't have the typical Hyperactive Disorder that oftentimes goes hand-in-glove with ADD (otherwise known as ADHD), the doctor did prescribe medication to help 'Shroom with his ability to concentrate and stay focused in school.

This appointment was back in June, just a couple of weeks before school was scheduled to end. Since I wasn't too keen on medicating 'Shroom to verify the ADD diagnosis and school was ending shortly, we decided to do nothing about it.

Now that we are more than a month into homeschooling (gasp! did I just say we were homeschooling?!?!), I am a first-hand witness to how easily distracted and unfocused my boy is. Sometimes when he's retelling or narrating a reading passage we're working on, he has a hard time getting a complete sentence out. His mind has already moved on to something else (or, more likely than not, his mind wasn't really paying attention to what we were discussing). Word problems are difficult because he reads about half the problem and then tries to solve it. I wonder if he's more concerned about putting down some answer so that it looks like he has something to show for.

In the past couple of weeks, discussions about medicating 'Shroom have come up. Air Boss is all for filling the prescription for Adderall (a stimulant typically used to treat people with ADHD and narcolepsy). I've been reluctant to medicate 'Shroom from the moment we received the prescription and I'm still very hesitant to do so. Part of the reason is the known (and unknown) side-effects. Another reason is that I don't want 'Shroom to have to depend on a chemical stimulant for him to function "normally." I believe that there are coping mechanisms out there - somewhere - that may help him focus and overcome his difficulties without resorting to the use of medication.

Well, this all brings us to our "free" diet that my whole family will try for a month. 'Shroom has tested positive reactions to certain food groups. While he does not have any life-threatening food allergies, we are going to try to eliminate his reactive foods groups from our diet for a month to see if it will increase his attention span (or in any other positive way). We will be doing this as a family and we are going to try our best to be positive about it and not complain about giving up ice cream (me), chocolate and cheese (Lolli), beer (Air Boss) , and yogurt and quesadillas ('Shroom).

We've just about finished all our perishables in the refrigerator that fall under our "free" diet. "Free" - beginning tomorrow, includes: dairy-free, egg-free, wheat-free and nut-free. I guess that leaves us with water and beans to eat for the next month!

My concern is that my 47 pound nine year old with visible ribs from the front and back may lose weight. I'll have to keep monitoring both 'Shroom's and Lolli's weight to make sure they're okay.

In the meantime, I hope this momma doesn't get too crabby from having all her favorite snack foods put "on hold!"