Seven years ago I went gluten/dairy free. About a year later I said to my kids, “Did you know you have been gluten free for three days?” They were surprised. It had been easy. We had been talking about the possibility of them going gluten free not because they have celiac, but because my daughter Sophia, now 12, had severe eczema since she was six weeks old that wasn’t affected by pharmaceuticals. My son Alexander, now 14, had leg aches almost nightly since he was younger than two years old. For one year they were completely gluten free. They did awesome. When we went to friend’s home, they either provided gluten free options or we brought food. The results were amazing. For the first time, Sophia was clear of eczema and Alexander no longer had leg pain at night.
Then we made a horrible mistake. We said, “Maybe we will be okay with gluten at friend’s homes.” At first they were fine, but as they started visiting more, it became easier and easier to eat gluten. We rarely had it in the house, but gluten at friend’s homes also meant gluten at restaurants and before you knew it, Sophia was covered in eczema again.
When I read about the Paleo Solution, I knew it felt right for me. It was so simple. Avoid dairy, grains and legumes and eat lots of veggies, meat, and fat. So simple. After providing Paleo meals at night for the family, I asked the kids to participate in a “20 Day Paleo Challenge”. Two days after Halloween, they started the challenge. Sophia decided to trash all of her leftover Halloween candy while Alexander chose to store his for a later date.
Both kids have been very cautious of everything they eat and don’t seem to be suffering too much. In fact, Sophia told me that she doesn’t have stomach aches anymore. I wasn’t even aware she had them. From the way she described them, they were just part of her daily life and now that they are gone, she feels different. She said, “I just feel better.”
Today I noticed a huge benefit of starting this challenge when we did. I am working more hours and away from home more than I have ever been which means the kids are responsible for more of their own meals. They are both at an age that they are cooking more on their own which makes this the ideal time to also learn to cook healthy meals. Today Sophia made chicken breasts with mixed veggies for herself and Alexander for lunch. They eat apples and almond butter for snacks as well as nuts and carrot sticks. They have found that the only thing in our kitchen are foods they can eat and therefore they are eating lots of salads, eggs, leftover meat, avocados, and other healthy, nutritious foods. This afternoon Sophia and I made deviled eggs for snacks. Afterwards she went around the house with the deviled egg tray asking everyone if they wanted one. It was like a dessert!
I was so proud of Sophia this afternoon. She is attending the midnight release of Harry Potter on Thursday night with friends. She knows there will be lots of junk food at the movie and afterwards at the sleepover. She wanted to discuss how she is going to handle the evening. She definitely doesn’t want to be tempted by the foods she has been avoiding. We made a list of potential foods that will be a challenge for her. She decided she wants to eat dinner at home before she goes so she is full and then she is going to bring Trader Joe’s sweet potato chips (I don’t love the oils used in the chips, but the ingredients are very minimal), a dark chocolate bar, a Lara bar, trail mix, and beef jerky. These are all foods she can easily pack her in bag and pull out as needed. Plus, they are all foods that are more on the “snacky” side of what we normally eat, so it will feel like a treat to her.
There are people all over the Internet taking the 30 Day Paleo Challenge, but we decided on 20 since the kids wanted to do Halloween and then we are leaving for a trip with our family over Thanksgiving. Hopefully 20 days will give them a sense of how good foods can make them feel and live more comfortably. Sophia has already told me she plans to get off the diet on Thanksgiving, but definitely wants to get back as soon as we are home since she feels so much better. I am really curious to see how both kids feel. Anyhow, I am really proud of both of them. It isn’t easy to be a teenager trying to eat mostly non-processed foods, lots of veggies/meat and very few junk foods. But, when it makes you feel better, you want to keep experiencing that great feeling.