How 30 Days of Paleo Changed Our Family

I haven’t posted in a while–things have been busy busy.  We finished our 30 days of Paleo and are pretty much continuing it.  We are not as strict with it now but we really enjoyed it and are going to stick with it as best we can in our busy world.  The biggest outcome of Paleo for our family (other than the fact that we had more energy and felt better) was in our children.  We discovered two things: 1) Our son is gluten intolerant and 2) when you feed your kids nothing but good foods, they start only wanting the good food and are more willing to try new and unusual things.

We have been on a long road with my son’s behavior and development.  He’s on the autism spectrum but is just boarder line enough to not receive much help (one of the reason’s we homeschool).  He’s also had terrible eating habits since toddlerhood.  He’d only eat white, starchy, processed, factory-made carbohydrates.  We tried feeding therapy, we tried changing our diet, we tried forbidding the poorer foods but nothing worked.  When we started Paleo, we went cold turkey–even with the kids.  We got rid of everything that was processed, carbohydrates and grains.  It terrified my son but it only took a few dinner battles to really get past it.  Once he started eating the better whole foods, he started feeling better, was more cognitive and actually started trying new things.  He went from eating a diet of french fries, chicken nuggets and rice to eating celery, strawberries, meat, salad, artichokes, almost anything I gave him.  And he was happier.  I really couldn’t believe my eyes.

When the 30 days were over, we let him eat some glutenous foods and the change was drastic and obviously connected.  As my husband said, “Our children are gluten intolerant .. when they eat gluten, they become intolerable!”  The day after eating gluten, my son couldn’t listen to a full sentence without tuning me out, he couldn’t remember any of his lessons, he grew dark and irritable and he was incoherent and non-verbal.  I had read many times about putting spectrum kids on a gluten free diet but I just stubbornly never wanted to walk that path.  However, having my son be with me mentally is worth every effort.  It really has made a difference.  He will still need some therapies and special help but I’m fully advocating a gluten free diet for spectrum kids.  And going Paleo actually made that incredibly easy!  We don’t have to substitute breads or desserts etc. we just eliminate all grains.  Truly amazing.

Making Paleo Easy

We are coming to a close on our Whole30 challenge.  We’ve made it the whole month with only a few minor cheat days.  The biggest take away I have thus far is that I don’t want to quit!  I imagine we will be less strict with it but I feel better, enjoy eating more and find it much easier to shop and cook with a Paleo lifestyle.  The kids have also been eating better and trying new things–can’t really beat that.

The hardest thing has been breakfast.  While I love eggs and bacon, I don’t want to cook it every morning.  I miss drinking my coffee while the kids got their cereal instead of trying to get a cup of coffee down while they fuss at me to cook for them. The easiest way to get around this is to have some easy things in the fridge for them to eat like yogurt,  cheese, ham slices, mix up a fast smoothie with frozen fruit, nuts are a good starter, dates are amazing… Ah, now I can enjoy that cup of coffee in peace!

Here’s some things I’ve discovered cooking Paleo over the last few weeks:

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Your blender is your friend.  Use it.  Daily.

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You can put almost anything into a smoothie.  And even the kids won’t know about all the delicious nutrition in there. (We’re talking spinach, apples, frozen fruit, almond butter, beets, squash… ) We lovingly call many of our smoothies “mud.”  My children love to drink mud.

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Smoothies are probably the fastest Paleo lunch or breakfast to throw together when you are out of ideas.  Throw an entire salad and some nut butter in there and you have all the nutrition you possibly could need.

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Almost any vegetable can be mixed with almost any meat and it will look and taste delicious–experiment with any combination. I dare you.

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Miss things like tacos?

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Make it into a salad.

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You can sauté just about anything.  Start with coconut oil, spices, garlic, peppers, etc..

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Fry (this is canned tuna)

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Serve with some sort of vegetable side and you have a super quick and scrumptious meal.

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Basically anything that sounds delicious, is delicious.  (This is sweet potatoes, apples and walnuts sautéed in coconut oil. Mmmm.)

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Broil those veggies–it’s fast and delicious.

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Kids actually do like vegetables!  Who would have thought!

Have fun!

I’m “That Mom”

I read a lot of things online.  Especially things pertaining to parenting.  And I see a lot of criticism, cattiness, and judgement from and to other moms.  I have been the receiver of motherly judgment and cattiness as well as criticism and let me tell you, yes, “I’m that mom” and I really don’t care what anyone thinks about that.

See, we are all “that mom” in some way or another.

Before we have kids we look around us and see something we don’t like.  Maybe we see a mom getting frustrated with her child in the grocery store because she’s lost her patience, or the mom starring at her phone at the playground, or perhaps the mom giving her child a sucker for a moments peace and we think to ourselves, “I’ll never be that mom.”  Well, let me tell you, we are all “that mom” at one point or another and I’m okay with that because it means I’m being the best mom I can be for my kids–not yours.  We all work differently.

Being a parent is challenging and there really is no one way to do it.  If something works for your kid, I can guarantee it won’t work for mine.  If I give my kids a sucker from time to time to get through the grocery store I can guarantee it was a necessary action for the health of all parties involved.  My child acts differently than yours.  My child responds to different discipline than yours.  I have a different patience limit than you.  I allow my children different things than you do yours due to our different upbringings, ideals, spirituality etc. And I will defiantly cook my parsnips and spinach differently than you.

Each family unit is different for a variety of reasons.  And each child is different within those units.  Let’s be patient with each other and kind–applaud the mother handing her child a lollipop in the grocery store because she is willing to take that step in order to get through the shopping trip so she can feed her family in the coming days.

I wish women still made bread together.  I wish motherhood and parenthood was not a competition but rather a comradeship.  I wish that mother in the store who is frustrated with her child could get more pats on the back and words of encouragement that it will get better.  Because it will–especially when we are reminded to look for it.  Help your fellow parents to stay strong and feel good about what they are doing.

We are raising the next generation of people–lets show them how to work together.

Keeping Self

Parenting is hard.  Oh it is so so hard.  Maybe it’s adulthood in general but I don’t know adulthood without parenthood, so I can’t speak to that.  I spent my entire 20’s trying to figure out how to raise children.  At first, I tried really hard to keep parts of myself while attempting to raise my children but over the years that seems to have faded.  And I don’t think it is supposed to.  Somehow, I think it is really important to keep things about yourself that mean something to you–that keep you ticking.  In the chaos that is parenthood, it is easy to lose site of it though.

I’ll be thirty this year.  When I was younger, I really looked forward to getting into my 30s.  The 20s were hard.  Really hard. And I experienced a lot of judgement for being a young 20-something mother.  I thought maybe once I’d turn 30, everything would get easier.  I’d get accepted into the right social networks and I’d feel better about myself.  I’d be accepted as a member of society instead of feeling like an outsider.  But instead, I’m realizing that I’ll miss my 20s.  There was hope then… I was still young and still had things to look forward to–or so I thought.  What I’ve been realizing  lately is that I don’t know what they are anymore.

We have a photo stream screen saver on our TV and I don’t recognize myself.  I can still see ‘me’ in our wedding pictures but beyond that, I really don’t look like myself anymore.  I was so caught up in child raising that I gave up everything of myself.  I gave up my makeup, my hair, my clothes, my dancing, my passions, my schooling, my musical instruments, my decorating, just about anything that made me a strong individual was lost. What’s strange is I really don’t know how it happened.  The stress, the changes of having children, moving, dealing with adulthood just overtook me.  And instead of demanding I keep parts of my self, I gave into the roller coaster of life–I didn’t demand it stop for a few minutes so I could get off.   So I could connect with myself and not get swept away.  And now, only now, am I realizing how wrong it was. How very very important it is to keep bits of yourself despite the way life changes you.  Now, when I need a break, when I start burning out, I have nothing to fall back on.  Nothing to remember who I am–as an individual.  It scares me.  If I have the time to take care of my appearance, I don’t have any makeup to put on and I don’t even remember how to style my hair.  I don’t remember how to dance–it was my life and I find it strange muscle memory isn’t stronger–the idea of taking a class feels embarrassing.  I am so unpracticed at the piano or any of the other instruments that I used to play,  it’s a challenge to get any satisfaction out of sitting down and playing for 10 minutes.

See, there has to be something–even just one thing that we as parents need to keep all our own.  That the distraction of children and life can’t take from us.  To remember our true being.  I hope to develop something in the future to grasp onto.  Something to bring peace back into my soul.  My escape for when times are rough.  Maybe it will be blogging.  I don’t know.  But I think as life goes on, I grieve the ‘me’ that used to be.  As I’m sure all do at some point.

As a youth, I never believed all the older members of society saying how hard life was.  I was optimistic to a fault and believed life was fairies and butterflies.  There are still moments of glory and beauty. Thankfully my family is the one who shares those moments with me.  But it is hard.  And it’s ok to realize that, accept it, grieve your losses and move on.  It doesn’t mean you aren’t happy in your current circumstances, it doesn’t mean you don’t love your family, it just means you are taking one more step toward personal growth.

“Those Days” And How To Overcome

Every mother has “one of those days.”  I make a significant effort to not talk about them.  Positive thinking…super mom complex….denial… call it what you will but it rarely makes things better to dwell on the worst.  But…..today is “one of those days” and I’d love to share with you things I’ve learned to “deal.”

Baby number 3 is a fuss bucket–she’s oh so cute and sweet but she fusses incessantly. As in, hubby and I haven’t slept for a year, the kids are so used to her crying they don’t even look her way anymore, my arms are constantly full of baby–but not just sweet snuggly baby able to be put in a front back….no… that would be ok… we’re talking wiggly, unsatisfiable, back arching beastly kinda baby.   This is the kid that brought me to tears because I just wanted to fold the laundry without her screaming or without using one hand (the other being full of baby). And today she has been oh so difficult.  The funny thing is, if I were to give you a list of how my day went, it wouldn’t seems so bad.  Things like taking an entire nap time to make Paleo chocolate crepes that didn’t work so well instead of cleaning and doing laundry.  Things like cutting my own hair because life has been too busy to make it to a salon.  Things like trying to rock the baby to sleep while still dripping wet wrapped in a towel after attempting a shower only to have her refuse the milk and the nap…

It doesn’t seem that bad… but sometimes we as moms (and dads… and siblings….) get tired, get stressed, get burned out even if we are trying to stay positive.

In the past, this sort of day would have gotten me down for weeks.  You see, the biggest pressure I experience is giving into the pressure and judgement of society.  The age old stay at home mom question of “what did you do all day.”  It has to look like I did something with my day or I go into panic mode.  The kitchen is a mess, the laundry is behind, the beds are unmade, the kids watched TV (it’s a Birthday–no school), there is food and toys spread all over the floor and here I am taking deep breathes writing a blog post.

Since when is holding a baby “not enough?”

I’ll tell you when.  When we stopped being a community.  When we stopped being a village.  When we stopped supporting each other.  When women stopped making bread together while caring for their children.  We each started living in our homes as single families and no one else knows what’s going on in your days.  No one knows when you are struggling or when you are thriving.  Your worth is based on what can be seen–not necessarily on what is important.  I am a stay at home mom, not a stay at home maid, not a stay at home secretary, not a stay at home chef, not a stay at home nanny. I am a mom.  So on days like this, if the laundry is 10 loads behind and the dishes are everywhere it is because I was holding a baby and telling her I love her even though she is screaming.  It is because I tried a new recipe for my son’s birthday.  It is because I tried to comb my toddler’s hair.  It doesn’t mean I’m not working, it doesn’t mean I am lazy.  It means I am working despite being stressed out emotionally.  It means I’m still doing my job even though my own selfish desires are calling to me (like wanting to get dressed or pee).  It’s because I understand how short this time is going to be.  Soon the dishes will always be done and laundry will always be folded but there won’t be a baby in my arms.  There will be a grown woman in her place.  And I’m going to miss kissing her little head–even if she is crying while I do.

But knowing these things doesn’t always help–let’s be real.  I’ve been through babyhood three times already–I know how hard it is and how easy it is to get burned out.

So here’s some tips I’ve come up with to help myself:

  • -Mantras are amazing.  They work. I say repetitive things to myself like “this will pass,” “I love my life/family/child,” “this is worth it,” “I can do this.”  It doesn’t matter if you really believe it at the time.  Pick something that works for you and repeat it over and over until you do believe it.  Or at least until it distracts you enough to get through the difficult moment.
  • -Smile in spite of your situation.  Studies have been done to show smiling actually can boots your mood.
  • -Instead of getting angry laugh at the situation–there have been many times when I’ve been close to tears and realized how silly my children were being and laughed.  It was surprising to me how it made everything a little easier.
  • -It’s also ok to cry.  Crying is better than anger.  If the baby won’t stop screaming, put her/him in a safe place and cry. It’s ok–it’s hard to keep up the good attitude all the time and kids are much more forgiving of tears than harsh words.
  • -Stretch.  Take a second to do your favorite yoga pose.
  • -If the kids are in a good place for you to take a break, work out.  And work out hard.  I can still remember the first time I “worked out my frustration.”  I was swimming laps and I was so frustrated with my kids.  They’d been little beasts for days and I remember taking all my anger and frustration out on the water–one aggressive stroke after the other.  I felt amazing afterwards!
  • -Deep breathe.  When we are upset, we tend to breath shallowly or even hyperventilate without even realizing it.  Stop and even go as far as to practice your labor breathing.  We did Hypnobirthing with our last child and it has made me a better parent to practice the meditations and deep breathing exercises.
  • -Know that it is ok to let the baby cry, the kids watch tv, the toddler run around the house naked for a while if you need to get alone.  Do your hair, get dressed nicely, do something to feel better about yourself–even if it’s five minutes.
  • -Ask for help.  In our society, there isn’t a lot of people around just waiting to be asked but if you have a friend or if your husband is home, just ask for help.  You are super mom–you don’t have to prove that to anyone.  But you do need a break now and then–even superwoman needs a glass of wine and a hot bath!
  • -Leave the house (with your kids).  I am really good at this when it is not perpetual winter–like right now.  It is a lot harder to be angry and down when you are smiling at people as you walk down the street with rays of sunshine warming your soul.  Just get your kids and leave.  Leave in the middle of the tantrum, leave in the middle of the crying, get those kids and get some sun and some exercise.
  • -Be forgiving of yourself.  It’s ok to struggle.  You are the caretaker of people–of souls.  This is not an easy job.  Learn, forgive and move on more enlightened when you make a mistake.
  • -Be happy.  Find things everyday to rejoice about.  It helps it really does.  Even if it’s one simple thing.  Dwell on it. Be thankful for it.
  • -Always know that you as a mother are loved.  You are love–you made more love for the world.  Love yourself and love them.  It’s all going to be ok.

Paleo–Week 1 Observations

Here’s what I expected from my first week of the Paleo diet:

-I expected hunger

-I expected difficulty sticking with the diet

-I expected difficulty meal planning

-I expected to feel more energy

-I expected serious carb and sugar cravings

-I expected it to be worth it but hard

Here’s what happened in the first week:

-My hunger is more satisfied than it has been in months

-I actually WANT to stick to the diet

-Meal planning has been a dream (have meat, have veggies, use any combo of both and you have a meal)

-I absolutely DO have more energy

-I experienced no cravings. (Even walking by doughnuts, I had no desire to get one)

-It has been much easier than expected.

-Both my husband and I have lost weight. (I was surprised by the immediacy of this)

This first week has been so interesting.  I have to admit, as much as I wanted to try the diet, I still felt some skepticism about it.  But it has been amazing.

The first thing I noticed this week, was a renewed energy.  Something I’ve been missing for years.  I love the foods we are eating.  As a grazer, I was worried I’d really miss having salty carb filled snacks to eat all day–not so.  I look forward to munching on some nuts or snap peas and just a few bites satisfy all my snack craving.  There is nothing I have missed.

This weekend, we went to a party and lost  a little ground.  We were hungry and ate what was available.  And I have to admit the Orthodox came out in both of us–never refuse food when offered.  (Even if it’s a huge piece of chocolate cake with butter cream icing.)  But you know what? I didn’t really enjoy any of it and I felt worse afterwards–as did my husband.  It was almost good for us to take that break because we realized how much we wanted to continue the diet.

Something that has surprised both of us, is the weight loss.  Even after one week, I not only feel trimmer but I feel stronger.  Unlike other diets where I’ve simply lost weight by not eating enough and felt weak, the Paleo diet has allowed me to eat as much as I want and feel full while still losing the weight.  I don’t have a whole lot of weight to lose but I almost feel like my body is just getting healthier–like my little unpleasant places left over from pregnancy or lack of exercise are turning into body.  It feels great.

The most difficult thing has been convenience.  It’s hard to go out to eat and you have to plan to have snacks on hand.  Also, kids activities are awful–I never realized that every single kids event served nasty little carb ridden snacks.  I am going to have to do some more brainwashing to get the kids interested in bringing their own Paleo snacks everywhere they go.  Also, getting the kids to eat Paleo has been really easy.  They have felt better too, I think, and are more willing to try new things.

I am ecstatic to get back on board this week and continue this journey.

Paleo Day 2

It’s the second full day of becoming Paleo.  Not a whole lot of observations yet other than 1) Paleo lunch ideas have been difficult to think up and 2) I am surprisingly satisfied!  I’m not hungry at all–in fact I am MORE satisfied then when I was eating breads and carb fillers.  I’m a nursing mom with a high metabolism so this is really exciting–it feels great!

Today I think I finally realized what a Paleo lunch might look like.  I think salad is a great carrier for left overs.  I made a salad consisting of lettuce, tomatoes, sliced grilled chicken (I cheated and bought this pre-made–but I made sure it was pure natural chicken with only spices no extra ingredients), left over sweet potatoes fried in coconut oil, cashews and red peppers.  It was delightful.

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For the kids, I made them plates of snap peas, celery, salad, the fried sweet potatoes and hot dogs (again, I cheated with these for the kids but made sure they were all natural with no fillers).  They ate every bite–it was truly amazing.

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For Paleo baby, I just kept throwing food on her high chair tray.

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Eat all the food!!!

When she was full, she threw the remainder of her lunch on the floor.  When I got her down from her high chair, she immediately went and ate what she had thrown off the floor–a true cave baby.

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 I’m so proud.