Food glorious food…..NOT
Category : Family
I’ve been quiet on here for the past few weeks and that has been a direct reflection of how busy things have become. Once I have a great idea for a blog post, 100 other things rear their crazy, ugly heads and I don’t end up getting anywhere near the computer. Well, except to try and get last year’s tax done anyway.
Rather than try and fill you in on EVERYTHING that has been going on (because, a crapload has been happening in the dairy industry right now that needs it’s own blog post), I thought I would fill your on some health issues that have escalated here.
In a family of 6 people, you would think that a reason percentage of those that have ongoing health issues would be less than 20%. That allows for 1.something people to have some health crisis going on at any one time. Well, thanks to some faulty genetic coding, that figure is somewhere around the 85% for us.
Over the past 6 months, with a change of paediatrician, things have become a bit more serious about getting to the bottom of Biddy’s stomach issues. 6+yrs ago, she was admitted to hospital due to severe and unrelenting stomach cramps. Ironically, it was during this hospital admission that we found out that she has hypothyroidism, although this is not related to the stomach issues. Nothing we did helped and no medications eased them. The cramps followed no pattern and the duration of them could last from 20 minutes to 6 hours.
After copious blood tests, stool samples and home remedies, our new paed suggested that it was time to see a GI guy. So 4 days before Christmas last year, Biddy toodled off to Cabrini for a gastroscopy and colonoscopy (double banger!) to have a decent look at her guts. Initially, things looked pretty good, although biopsies later on suggested that she was developing coeliac disease (supported by the fact that she has the gene for it) and breath tests done this year have come back that she cannot absorb fructose and sorbitol.
Two weeks ago, we saw the paediatric dietician at the Royal Children’s Hospital and was told that she needs to go on a low FODMAP diet for 8 weeks prior to reintroducing foods back. I had heard of FODMAP……I had no idea about FODMAP. And now I know why! Bugger me!!!! It’s a bloody minefield.
I know that those that have been following a FODMAP diet tell me that it gets easier, that a lot of what we eat is already low FODMAP (let’s face it, if you stay away from packaged crap, you are probably going to be ok), but one area that made me feel like an inadequate mother was that of fruit.
Kids – and mine are no exception – if given the choice, will pick junk foods over wholesome foods. Just watch Dreamworks “Over the Hedge” if you don’t believe me. So in the face of them grabbing some pre-packed, chemical laden, artificially sweetened, colour and preservative added but bloody tasty snack, I often direct them to “have a piece of fruit”. Turns out, that advice is not always the best. For all kids, but especially for one that is unable to process fructose! (By the way, did you know that for kids aged 9 – 12yrs, they should only be having 2 pieces of fruit per day? No, either did I until last week!).
I have had 2 weeks to get my head around this FODMAP thing and just like anyone that has ever had an assignment due and has left it until the last possible moment, I am sitting here, pulling my hair out, feeling like I want to cry, because I am trying to work out what I am going to send Biddy to school with in her lunch from tomorrow. Tomorrow is D-Day. Or should I say F-Day (I can tell you, I can think of a few things F could stand for).
I know I am going to cock it up. If we manage to get through the 8 weeks of the elimination phase without her starving to death we might be on a winner. At this point she is going to be living like a convict….on bread and water. And by bread I mean corn chips, because she can’t have bread. Well, not the regular bread anyway. Of course she can only have the super expensive gluten free varieties that start at about $6/loaf. I can tell you, none of that stuff will go mouldy in the bottom of the bread bin. Like Darryl Kerrigan in The Castle who shoved everything of value into his poolroom, all my valuable food groups are “going straight to the freezer”.
And that leads me to another point. The cost of specialised diets. And the stuff-arsing about of organising specialised diets. Biddy’s dietary issues are not going to kill her, although I’m pretty sure that she feels like she might as well die when she has an attack. But for those that are unaware, her brother H does have LIFE THREATENING food allergies. That little cherub is anaphylactic to about 5 types of nuts (not just peanuts), eggs and dairy. Already, we have a modified diet around here just with him. And we HAVE to stick at this one and I cannot fuck it up, because I will KILL HIM if I do. Truth.
So this brings me to why I am feeling utterly overwhelmed right now. For Biddy to have certain foods, things are swapped out and replaced to give the right “mouthfeel” or consistency. A good example here is of swapping out dates for walnuts when making energy balls. Because Biddy can’t have dates. But if I replace with walnuts and H accidentally gets into them, the walnuts can kill him. And there are things in reverse. If I swap out eggs for avocado so H can eat it, Biddy can’t because of the fructans in avo. Sigh. Do you see my issue?
Already, trying to fit things around H’s allergies is a juggling act. There are very few recipes that I can just run with for him, because do you know how many dairy, nut and egg free recipes are out there? That a 5yo boy will WANT to eat? Not all that many. A lot end up being pretty bland and ordinary. Now couple this with cutting out foods that are high in carbs. Oh God give me strength. And that is NOT a blasphemy….I really do pray to Him to give me strength in this area.
And the cost! Don’t get me started on that. Not only are they limited in what they can enjoy, but of many of the things that they can have (GF, dairy free etc), the cost is disproportional to the product. I mean, come on…..$6/loaf for GF bread?! Surely by now we know that there is a market for GF foodstuffs, so why hasn’t the price come down? There are people out there that aren’t coeliacs and they eat GF bread. The market is not constrained.
On top of this, live in rural Australia and try to access some of the products. I have a feeling that internet shopping will be my friend. Not for my bank balance, but for my children.
So, if I haven’t gone completely gaga and I actually manage to poke some food at Biddy that satisfies all FODMAP criteria and by some bloody miracle she actually enjoys things, I’ll report back. I admit to not being very hopeful right now, but I don’t have much of a choice. And as a mum, of course I will do what it takes to improve my kids quality of life. Even if that means giving up all my spare and personal time to research, shop and prepare meals.