In my first post of the year, I was talking about healing our guts and making fermented foods. Well, that was just the beginning. We are embarking on a month of grain-free, dairy-free, sugar-free eating.
This winter, Little Handsome’s eczema got worse than we’ve ever seen it. He would wake up crying, having scratched open his knees, and we’d console him, put cream on and change his blood-stained sheets. With tears rolling down his cheeks he would say heart-breaking things like, “I want my eczema to be gone.” So do we, little one. So do we.
Around that time, my friend passed along a link to a story about a nutritionist who healed her son’s eczema with a leaky gut diet. That led to a phone call with this nutritionist and an investigation into leaky gut syndrome, and related diets.
I’ve discovered a few diets that claim to help people suffering with autoimmune problems like eczema, fibromyalgia, and MS. Most of my free time in January was spent reading up on paleo, GAPS and SCD. They’re all a bit different in the details, but they have one major thing in common: the elimination of grains.
We’re not adhering to any one diet strictly. Instead, I’ve comprised a general set of guidelines for us. For the month of February, we are avoiding polysaccharides, which are found in grains, starches (potatoes, yams, legumes), dairy products and refined sugar. And we’re adding into our diet bone broth and fermented foods (mostly kefir water for the little guy; other ferments are a bit too much of a stretch at this point).
Depending on how it goes, we might follow the diet into the spring, or we might do a full GAPS intro (just soup and ferments to start, gradually adding in foods), or we might (hopefully!!) return to a normal, healthy, whole-foods diet. We’ll just have to wait and see what happens over the next few weeks.
We chose February for a number of reasons. First, I needed time to prepare myself for the task. I’ve been trying to confront all my doubt about this adventure before starting. I need to believe the diet will heal us so I can be strong enough to refuse my darling child the bread he so sweetly asks for. I also took time to figure out how to make bone broth, wrap my mind around ferments, and clean out the cupboards of “illegal” foods. February is also the time my mom was planning to visit, and the extra support was welcome. Finally, Little Handsome’s birthday is at the end of the month, giving us a concrete way of speaking about the timeline: “We can eat rice/yogurt/whatever again after your birthday.”
It was important to me that this be a family venture. While I will not police my nanny, husband or mother in private, no “illegal” food will be eaten in front of our son. Everyone is on board, and I’m very grateful for that. Big Handsome took the compliance one step too far in developing stomach ulcers recently which made him lose his appetite for everything except soup anyway (but that’s another story).
Although February 1 is today, we’ve actually been following the diet for about 3 days already. Before that, we gradually phased out the grains and dairy. When something would run out, we wouldn’t buy another in its place. After a few days, Little Handsome stopped asking about cheese, which he used to eat on bread three times a day! While he has no interest in pureed vegetable soups (his staple baby food), and he won’t touch a bowl with things floating in it, he faithfully eats his broth at dinner every day and usually announces, “It’s really good.”
Not all the transitions have been that easy, and I know there will be lots of bumps and bruises along the way. But there have been enough positives already that I’m confident this will be a good experiment in the end. But boy, oh boy, are we going to enjoy quinoa when our tummies and knees are healed!