In August, my friend Kayla posted this picture of her lunch. I remember because I was drinking my third Diet Coke and eating a rainbow cookie at the kitchen counter, while using my first free moment to skim Facebook. It was the first time I had stopped to eat all day (I had been too busy to eat anything else, or at least told myself I was too busy) and seeing her plate made me feel very ashamed; ashamed because I was eating crap, and you know that old saying that you are what you eat? Well, I totally felt as crappy as my plated looked. Heck, let’s be honest. I hadn’t even wasted time on a plate.
Without knowing it, Kayla posted a picture that day that destroyed my excuse to live an unhealthy lifestyle. You see, I’m always complaining that I don’t have enough time to eat a healthy meal or exercise or go to bed. I live the combined unhealthy lifestyle of a writer (coffee at midnight, stressful deadlines, junk food I can eat with one hand while the other types) and a nanny (early mornings, late nights, bruised knees from playing horsey and the constant presence of an unidentified stain on my T-shirts.) Yet, I always manage to make sure my daughter is eating well. I not only made her baby food, I grew the organic veggies in my backyard. I’ve fought the good battle to defend my decision to breastfeed her through toddlerhood because I believe the health benefits far outweigh the annoyance of hearing “If she can ask for it, she’s too old for it…” yet I can’t manage to nourish myself? Kayla, who is also a busy mom, proved to me that there is always time to take care of yourself.
I wish I could say I changed everything right then but I waited a few weeks, until…
Three weeks ago, I woke up with severe pain in my lower right abdomen. I had been waking up in the middle of the night with the pain for weeks and ignoring it because, get this, I didn’t think I had time to deal with a surgery. That Sunday morning, I crawled out of bed and started cleaning the bathroom because I knew surgery and company were in my near future. How stupid is that? I cleaned the bathroom doubled over like Quasimodo so our moms wouldn’t see my cluttered bathroom sink! I expected that I’d have my gallbladder removed within a few days, rest over the weekend and be up and at em’ within a week. I ended up going back and forth to the hospital for two weeks before a surgery was even scheduled. Instead of complaining that I didn’t have time to eat, I couldn’t eat without having a terrible attack because I not only damaged my gallbladder, I KILLED it. So for almost a month now, I’ve eaten nothing but applesauce, Jello, crackers and chicken soup. I finally had my surgery last Wednesday and that night was the hardest since we had first brought Ada home. We tried to make her think I wasn’t in the house but by that night, she was scratching on the bedroom door and screaming, “Mommy! Mommy!” For two hours, I held her in my lap against those fresh incisions and tried to make her understand that I couldn’t nurse her. My stomach churns when I think about her hot, red face soaked with tears as she cried, “Mommy, nurse? Mommy, nurse?”
Why is it that as mommas, we forget that taking care of ourselves is taking care of our families?
My husband decided to take Ada to my friend Elizabeth’s house this morning so I could have a day to rest without a toddler poking my belly and saying “Ouchies? Ouchies?” Though I love getting to write in a quiet house and love that Ada gets time to play with Elizabeth’s son, Parker, I felt frustrated that I couldn’t take care of her by myself today. Have I ever told you how much I hate not being able to do something? The only way you could get me to run a marathon is tell me that I can’t run a marathon and then come asthma or high-water, I’d do it just to prove you wrong. It’s not the best quality but it gets stuff done. Anyway, I sat holding her and crying this morning, promising that I could take care of everything on my own while my husband stood there with his arms crossed, patient as ever and clearly not convinced. We both knew I couldn’t. I really feel like I was born to be a mother; in fact, I’ve never been more confident in any other role but knowing when to let someone else step in is not something I’m very good at. But I’m trying and it’s a lot easier when you know that you’ve got people who love your child when you need to be away.
After a lot of research, soul-searching and many, many long conversations, my husband and I have decided to adopt a whole foods, gluten-free lifestyle. I’m also well on my way to kicking my Diet Coke habit! Three weeks and counting! When we first started talking about changing our diet, we just thought we’d be eating healthier to lose a few extra pounds but the more we learned, the more confident we are that my diet has had a huge impact on my health. From rheumatoid arthritis, to stomach problems to infertility, I’ve been diagnosed with a number of the things that are commonly overlooked signs of gluten intolerance. Our biggest reason for doing this is Ada. Since she started eating solids, she’s had digestion problems and shows a lot of signs of an intolerance, too. Plus, we want to teach her early to eat well and take care of herself. We’ve got an appointment with the pediatrician this week to find out if our suspicions are right but in the meantime, we’re cutting gluten out of her diet to see if that alleviates any of the problems she’s having and serving her fresh veggies, fruits and healthy meats. She doesn’t drink cow’s milk so we’re going to just keep giving her a serving or two of cheese a day for the time being. After a trip to Trader Joe’s, our fridge is stocked with lots of produce and we’re excited to get started on a journey to a healthier life.
Since I’m sure some of you are wondering what we’re eating because I’m nosy and always want to know what people are eating, I thought I’d share our menu for the week. I plan on sharing our weekly menus every Sunday so you can follow along with us if you’d like or get inspiration for some healthy meals to incorporate throughout the week. To be clear, we’re not buying a lot of gluten-free products (which tend to lack in terms of nutrients) but focusing on things that are naturally gluten-free and we’re trying to plan meals that rely on whole foods with lots of natural nutrients. We’re trying hard to strictly limit processed foods but we do have a few processed meats like chicken burgers and sausage in our menu.
I’ve also added some helpful links below about gluten and the Paleo diet. Of course, before you start any diet you should talk with your doctor and find out ways to make sure you’re getting all of the nutrients you need! I am certainly not an expert on this but I’ll do my best in the coming weeks to document our journey for you folks who are interested!
Breakfast: Omlette Muffins
Lunch: Trader Joe’s Chipotle Lime Chicken Burger served over mixed greens salad and salsa with a side of spicy spaghetti squash. (My husband LOVED this!)
Dinner: Grilled steaks with roasted green beans and carrots
Breakfast: Apple Chicken Hash (Trader Joe’s Apple Chicken Sausage links, 1 diced apple and scrambled eggs.) Sprinkle a little cinnamon over it all and serve.
Lunch: Leftover steak strips served over mixed greens
Dinner: Scallop “Scampi”- Seared scallops over lemon-pepper spaghetti squash
Breakfast: Slice of ham, applesauce and almonds
Lunch: Leftover Scallop Scampi
Dinner: Roasted turkey and apple-sweet potato bake
Lunch: Grilled salmon and steamed veggies
Lunch: Turkey-stuffed acorn squash
Breakfast: Paleo “Oatmeal”
Lunch: Peach n’ Pecan Scramble (From The Paleo Solution). It’s a peach, pecan, scrambled eggs and 1 tbs. of applesauce, all sauted in a skillet and served hot. Yum!
Dinner: Beef stir-fry
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