Thursday, October 31, 2013

Who is the Reluctant Pioneer?

The Beginning

In 2004 I saw a handsome stranger across a crowded room. Yes, that's really how it happened. Just over a year later, Mark and I were husband & wife. Throughout that year, he was my rock as I was diagnosed with Hodgkins Lymphoma, went through treatment, finished up my B.S. in Nursing and prayed for my hair to grow back in time for our wedding. 

The In-Between Years

After marriage but before our family grew to whatever number we are now, we had many adventures. Some highlights were moving states, toilet-training our cat, Mark's career progression with Saint Paul's Outreach, living in a dorm of freshman boys, a preemie first-born, and gutting and renovating our first home. All the while, I was fumbling around in the kitchen, slowly trying to branch out beyond spaghetti or scrambled eggs.

My Paradigm is Shaken

When our oldest was six months old, we discovered his first allergy: dairy. Suddenly it seemed every food contained dairy. At his one year appointment, allergy-testing revealed a host of other allergies.

With the arrival of each of our children, we hope they won't have to suffer with allergies, but each has their own list of foods to avoid. These include:
  • Dairy
  • Eggs
  • Soy
  • Tree Nuts
  • Peanuts
  • Peas 
  • Legumes such as chickpeas and lentils
  • Sesame
At Least We Have Wheat...right?

After the birth of our third child, I began to realize something was wrong with me. I would wake up with joint pain, swelling in my face and fingers, and headaches. Quite by accident, I uncovered the culprit. Within days of unintentionally removing wheat from my diet, the joint pain, swelling, and headaches subsided.

Committing myself to a gluten-free lifestyle was a mental struggle, but physically I felt so much better. Interestingly, my fourth pregnancy, my first on a gluten-free diet, was also my healthiest. Normal hormone levels, no bed rest, and my first baby to not only reach her due date but go beyond it.

Short-Order Cooking

Burnout hits fast when every meal is prepared four different ways for four different diets. Take a simple dish like pasta with meat sauce:
  • Wheat pasta and Classico sauce for 3 people
  • Wheat pasta, plain meat and cheese for 1 person
  • Gluten-free pasta and Classico sauce for 1 person
My Paradigm Shifts

During Lent, I heard it loud and clear: No more short-order meals. Learn to cook for everyone. One family, one flavorful, allergen-free meal.

As overwhelming as it first felt, it's becoming second nature. Practice, success, and failure quickly taught me some basics. I knew my paradigm was truly shifting when I saw a recipe online and the ingredient list of cream, garlic and wheat pasta seemed as foreign to me as our ingredients are to other families.

The Fruit

After years of what we dubbed, "The beige diet" of chicken nuggets, rice, potatoes, it's a thrill to see our kiddos try things I thought they would never taste: chocolate brownies, creamy soups, ethnic dishes of all varieties. It's amazing what internet access, smart shopping and a little creativity can yield.

1 comment:

Julie@teachinggoodeaters said...

I'd love to know more about your paradigm shift! Making pasta in our house is a challenge too (I am also allergic to tomatoes so…. pasta with tomato sauce for 3, gluten-free pasta with tomato sauce for 2 and roasted cauliflower (my favorite pasta substitute) with red pepper sauce, for one!) I have been able to adjust most of my meals so that they conform to all of our "needs," but the tomatoes are a rough one and there's no reason for the rest of my family to avoid them. I also love that you were able to move your family away from the "beige" diet. If you'd ever like to tell your story on my blog, I'm seeking guest posts by people who found ways to turn their family's eating habits around.