It's great to have a gluten free Thanksgiving to attend, now that most of my siblings and parents are gluten free, and great cooks. I am thankful for that, but ready to wait another year for another feast like that. After a thorough stuffing for Thanksgiving and never wanting to eat so much heavy food ever again, I've been pondering my past successes and failures...as I've had quite a bit of both.
In summary, I discovered BTD in 1999, and lost 36 pounds of unhealthy weight on the basic O diet (as well as losing chronic sinusitus, chronic back and joint pain, panic attacks, and recurrent infections).
I then started a family and gained 40 pounds with my first pregnancy. This was a more healthy weight gain, not full of toxins like my initial weight, and after weaning my baby I lost it all and more before my second pregnancy with the O-nonsecretor diet. Looking back at pictures of myself, I was almost waif-like. I could never be a waif, too much gatherer in me, but this was close.
Same weight gain with my second pregnancy, but more trouble consistently losing it. Life became more hectic with two kids and the economy was not helping. I did get a good start on it once, or twice, or thrice, but always failed to stick it out when the going got tough. I fell into my traps of negative thinking and stress eating, and skipping meals and sometimes not caring...
Now things in my life are far better than I expected and I have no excuse to not take care of myself, plan meals, and avoid cheating. My kids health challenges have improved and they are back in school and liking it. They are old enough that I don't have to be taking care of them every minute of day and night, I can usually get enough sleep. The pieces of the puzzle are all on the table, I just need to put them together.
Well, I have one more puzzle piece to send for, with a salivary secretor test to mail out tomorrow. My blood test said I am a secretor, but my first saliva test said non-secretor. Apparently the saliva test is more accurate, but I'm going to send it in one more time to remove doubt. Where that puts me as genotype, I'm not sure, but I know I can follow any of the genotype diets and my SWAMI doesn't change much either way. I'm actually hoping I'm still a non-secretor because I'm used to it and it works. There are some non-secretor foods I just love.
Here are the things that are common when I am successful, the keys to success:
1. Fresh Lemons... so useful for making healthy drinks and salad dressings and many other recipes. Much more tempting than a bottle of lemon juice.
2. Prepped salad and raw vegetables at the ready (preferably prepared by hand, for better taste, nutrition and because they stay fresh longer)
3. Fruit and other convenient snacks (like portions of nuts or pumpkin seeds that are easy to grab) SeaSnax roasted seaweed is wonderful to have on hand and great for satisfying cravings.
4. Meal Plans
5. Snack Plans
6. Schedule... no skipped meals, regardless of how crazy a day is.
7. A fresh supply of homemade almond milk (or the best version of any milk your type is allowed). This is great for cravings for something creamy, easy to add to tea and whip up in the blender instead of desperately seeking chocolate.
Last night I was supine on a table, undergoing a medical procedure. Happy Thanksgiving? The light fixture above my head was interesting: A giant photo transparency of a view of the heavens "actually taken from the Hubbel telescope", overlying a large light square that was divided into quarters. Supposed to relax the patient. As I am in the midst of serious personal medical challenges, I'm used to viewing thousands of images of my own and reference innards and organs, and I was struck by the similarity of this slide's appearance to those bio-forms.
"You know," I said to the technologist, "The picture on the ceiling looks like pulmonary parenchyma, dense with miliary nodules, and there's some patchy infiltrate in the left lower quadrant." Needless to say, he was stunned.
As I lay on that table, throughout the next hour or so, I pondered the analogue, remembering some beautiful Nature photographs I've seen that really play up the theme -- flowers and foliage, meteorological patterns, rock formations, speaking a language strangely similar to that spoken by our own histology and gross anatomy.
On my way out of the hospital, I noticed the artwork in the halls and found it very aptly chosen. The themes were similar: Leaves floating on a rippling pond, or swirling in a whirlpool or windstorm; a single flower, a tendril dangling, encircling...
One can "be sick" and see that, exclusively.
Or one can thus gain entrée into yet another wondrous sphere, where even diseased cells can claim their share of beauty.
Someone brought a biography of Charlemagne to my neighborhood book club. My knowledge of the Dark Ages is sketchy at best. My high school world history teacher neglected that part of my education, being far more interested in the explorers of the Age of Discovery. I snatched the book, and thoroughly enjoyed it. Charlemagne was a fascinating man at so many levels: his difficult childhood, his Christian faith, his military strategy, his interest in education.
One quote I found particularly fascinating was, written by Einhard the Dwarfling, a contemporary of Charlemagne's and his first biographer. Einhard wrote:
"He went by his own inclinations rather than by the advice of physicians, whom he almost hated because they wanted him to give up roasts, which he relished, and to eat boiled meat instead”
Isn't it amazing, back in the ninth century self proclaimed health experts were advising against eating red meat. Charlemagne - who I'm guessing was Type O - instinctively knew better, and continued to enjoy roasts.
I am cooking a roast myself this morning. Our Type O son is coming for lunch, and we are ready for beef after having lots of turkey this past week. I'm certainly not going to boil it, which would leach out vitamins and phytonutrients.
This brings to mind what modern self proclaimed health experts have been saying about eggs for the past 50 years. That sounds like a good blog topic. In the meantime I hope all of you are enjoying a thankful weekend.
I liked this thought from author Sarah Young: God has instructed us to "give thanks for everything." There is an element of mystery in this transaction: You give God thanks (regardless of your feelings) and He gives you joy (regardless of your circumstances). To people who don't know Jesus intimately, it can seem irrational to thank Him for heartrending hardships. Nonetheless, those who obey Him in this way are invariably blessed, even though difficulties may remain.
We celebrated Thanksgiving a week early! DD is still the newest employee in her department, so she has to work on Friday after Thanksgiving. SIL will be back at church preaching the Sunday after Thanksgiving. They have a very short holiday. However DD had a comp day, and they decided to take it last Friday. So we had our family Thanksgiving a week early.
DD and I cooked all day Friday. When SS arrived we drove downtown to look at the Christmas lights. Then we came home for a delicious, and mostly traditional, Thanksgiving dinner.
When you are on the BTD, you have three choices at holidays. At one time or another in my nine years on the diet, I've done all three.
1. Take a "holiday" from the BTD and splurge.
2. Tweak your recipes so they are a little healthier, but still traditional.
3. Convert all your traditional recipes to BTD compliant.
This year we did #3. Except for one dessert, everything was beneficial or neutral for us all.
I have posted my family's cornbread dressing recipe in other years, but here it is again: original version first, then the BTD version.
My Mother's cornbread dressing
4 cups of cornbread, 2 cups of biscuits, one onion diced, 3/4 cup chopped celery, 1/3 cup butter, 1 1/4 tsp sage, 1/2 tsp poultry seasoning, 3 eggs, 2 cans chicken broth. Cook the onion and celery in the butter until soft. Combine all ingredients. Bake in an 8x8 pan for 1 hour at 325.
My Daughter's compliant dressing
4 cups of crumbled millet cornbread
2 cups crumbled flax bread
1 chopped onion
1/3 cup melted ghee
1 1/4 tsp sage
1 tsp poultry seasoning
2 2/3 cups water mixed with 1/3 cup Braggs Liquid Aminos
Substituting Braggs Liquid Aminos for canned chicken broth was new this year. It worked beautifully.
When DD lived at home, she used to whip up a quick pumpkin dish that was delicious. The day after our Thanksgiving dinner, we were going to have leftovers. I asked if she would do her pumpkin as a side dish. If you are looking for something unique and very beneficial, for your Thanksgiving, you might like this. She didn't measure anything, so adjust to your personal taste.
DD's Pumpkin Side Dish
2 cans pure pumpkin
8 oz can of pineapple chunks, drained
1 apple chopped
Walnuts or pecans - chopped
Mix it together and heat until it is warm. It doesn't really have to cook; you just want the cinnamon and ginger flavors to have time to blend.
We are home from a visit with HH's Mom. The good news is that she is back in her own home after less than seven weeks in rehab. They had told us it would be at least three months. She has both a strong body and a strong will to recover.
The bad news is that she will almost certainly break another bone. It's not just that she has osteoporosis, which she does. It's not just that she has bad balance, which she does. It's not even that she wants to be independent, which is an admirable trait.
It's that she forgets that she is not 65 years old anymore. She gets an idea in her head and charges off across the room without her walker. It's just a matter of time before she falls again. She has 24 hour care. Either a family member or a health care worker is with her all the time. But it doesn't help.
In the few days that my husband and I stayed with her, giving the health care workers a few days off, we had several scares.
The doorbell would ring. She would jump up to answer it.
I would be walking beside her, and she would turn away from her walker and head toward the closet. I would put my hand on her shoulder and say, "Where are you going?" She would answer, "To get my lipstick," as if that were the most necessary thing in the world.
At dusk she would get up from her chair and go to close the blinds - standing on one foot to do so.
I slept in the room next to hers with the door open, and a baby monitor on full volume. But she could get out of bed and half way to the bathroom before I could reach her.
We had lots of conversations about this. My conversations were gentle. My husband's conversations were authoritarian. In the moment that the conversation took place, she was in complete agreement. She knows that if she breaks her neck again while the vertebrae are still healing, she will be paralyzed. She knows that if she breaks another bone, that her body will be under extreme stress, dealing with two major injuries. She knows that family, friends, and workers are there to help her.
But in the moment she wants something done she is not 92 years old. She is 35 or 45 or 55. She is her young, stubbornly independent self. She jumps up to get it done.
In a way, I have to admire her. She is not a couch potato. She does not want to be waited on. She is not the least bit lazy. But one day our phone will ring, and we will hear that she is on the way to the hospital again.
So, I ask myself. How much of this will I remember when I am old? Both of my parents lived into their 90s. When I am that age, will I be stubborn or cooperative? Will I be careless or cautious? Will I be able to slow down gracefully?
I don't know. But in the meantime, I'm doing everything I can to keep my mind and my bones strong.
Preparing for Shabbos without electricity was one of my biggest challenges. I only had access to a stovetop, not an oven, so I couldn’t bake bread or cake. Since it was my Mom’s gas stove, and not my own, I didn’t have the authority to leave a flame on all night. I couldn’t prepare a hot stew for Saturday afternoon, or even keep hot water available.
Making a special blessing over the bread is an integral part of Shabbos observance. It’s supposed to be made over two whole loaves, symbolizing the two portions of Manna that the Israelites received on Fridays in the Desert after leaving Egypt. It’s supposed to be made of wheat, spelt, rye, oats, or barley, but rice is an acceptable alternative only for those who cannot eat any of the other 5 grains. I normally bake rice challah rolls for myself, and spelt for everybody else. I make rolls so we can have “whole loaves” without using large portions of bread.
This would have been a perfect time to buy bakery challah, had there been any available we could safely eat. But no bakeries in the area prepare spelt or rice challahs, so we used spelt matzah on Friday night. Shortly after making the blessings, we discovered some spelt rolls left from the Shabbos before- we’d have used those if we’d realized we had them! I couldn’t find rolls made of rice flour anywhere, but I did find a sliced loaf of rice bread, so I used two slices, instead of two loaves, that week.
Friday night’s meal wasn’t all that different from the other dinners we’d been eating. I made white rice in one pot, and in another pot I made a stew with chicken cutlets, sweet potatoes, and green beans. . I wasn’t entirely happy with serving chicken, since it’s an avoid for my type B son, but we had chicken in the freezer, now thawed, that would have otherwise spoiled. I did buy some turkey bologna for him. I’d feared the meal wouldn’t feel special without dessert, so I bought chocolate covered marshmallows. I needn’t have feared: the meal was elegant.
Saturday was another story. Since I couldn’t heat anything up without violating Shabbos, and I couldn’t keep anything warm without electricity, we were stuck with cold food in a cold house. I’d prepared a pea salad with frozen green peas, ume plum vinegar, chopped onions, and toasted sesame oil. We also had romaine lettuce, slices of assorted cheeses, and canned tuna. It was the kind of food I normally serve on Saturday afternoons in the summer, and it wasn’t really satisfying with a cold house and no hot beverages available.
The following Shabbos felt kind of strange too. We got power back on Wednesday night, and I was super-busy on Wednesday night and Thursday, then on Friday I crashed. I had to serve chicken again, because the second store I went to didn’t have any kosher turkey available. The first store I’d gone to, the one that normally carries a wide range of kosher meats and poultry, was without power and wasn’t selling any perishables at all! I still couldn’t drive beyond those two stores because I hadn’t bought fuel for my car- the lines were now manageable, but I didn’t have time or energy to go buy any.
Thankfully, I was now able to bake challahs, use the electric hot water urn, and prepare a variety of dishes in the oven! But I was completely worn out and in a fibro-flare, meaning that I was sore all over, mentally and physically exhausted, and very irritable. I slept a lot over Shabbos, but still needed much more sleep. I’ve been in that flare for a whole week now.
It’s almost time for Shabbos again and I’m starting to feel a little bit better. I’m just about caught up with my housework and errands- the fridge and freezers are clean and we have plenty of food in the house. I even have a full tank of gas! Just being able to resume these bits of normalcy is doing wonders for my mental health, which directly affects my physical health. I’m looking forward to resuming my normal Friday routine tomorrow, and then relaxing and enjoying Shabbos.
On October 30th 2012, the day after the storm and our first day without power, Jack, Hannah, and I went for an afternoon walk, assessing the damage to our neighborhood. Uprooted trees pulled up chunks of sidewalk and completely blocked the roads- one on our street, just a few houses away, but we encountered many more in our walk. Some trees had landed on cars or houses, although most landed between two houses or on the road. Plenty of houses needed roof repairs, though the overall damage clearly could have been a lot worse.
When it got dark that evening, it seemed way too dark in the house. We turned on battery-powered lanterns downstairs in my Mom’s part of the house, and lit candles upstairs, but nothing seemed to dispel the gloom. It was too dark to read and our eyes were straining uncomfortably when playing board games. Hannah and I decided to go for a walk. while Leah and Jack continued playing games with their Bubbie (grandma.)
That walk was magical. Our eyes quickly adapted to the dark, and the lighting felt natural, not dismal. We had to watch out for debris on the sidewalk, but there was very little traffic because most roads were still impassable. It felt more like a walk in the country than a walk in the suburbs. We didn’t get blinded by headlights from vehicles or floodlights from people’s porches. We passed houses that were gently lit within from candles and lamps; there was no harsh light anywhere. I don’t even think we passed any generators that first night.
When we returned home, eyes adapted to the moonlight, the candlelit interior was plenty bright. We played a few games of Boggle by candlelight and then went to bed, feeling much more relaxed than we normally did on evenings full of computer screens and artificial light.
It’s unfortunate that our experience wasn’t repeated on subsequent nights. We did go for walks, but clear roads meant we encountered numerous headlights. Many of our neighbors regained power days before we did, so we dealt with harsh exterior lights that ruined our night vision before returning home to candlelight. That one moonlit walk was an isolated, magical moment.
Thanks to Hurricane Sandy, my family was without electricity for 9 days and 9 VERY long nights. Thanks to the gas crisis that hit Long Island, I wasn’t able to drive beyond the library or the two closest supermarkets during this time either. It’s almost like we lost over a week of our lives, as “normal things” such as school and my usual errands were completely on hold. On the other hand, we created memories to last a lifetime. When else would the entire family have played games together by lamplight, or gone for a moonlit walk, free of light pollution, in our suburban town?
When we were without power, I started taking lots of walks. There wasn’t much else to do! For the first 8 powerless days, I went for at least one walk a day, averaging 2-3 miles a day towards the end of the week. The 8th day was windy and snowy, since the nor’easter was coming through, and it wasn’t safe to walk outside. Unbelievably, that’s also the day that workmen from Texas finally restored our power- during the storm itself! It was pitch black outside- but only 5:50 PM, when power was restored. Two hours later, trees fell over the power lines in our backyard, but miraculously we still have power! I don’t quite trust that we’ll KEEP the power back, and won’t fully restock my freezer until the power lines are repaired. I expect that will take several weeks since LIPA (Long Island Power Authority) needs to restore power to other homes first.
After a week of “not doing much after dark” I cleaned out the freezer and did several loads of laundry before bed on Wednesday. Then I cleaned out the fridge, scrubbed the kitchen floor, did more laundry, and shoveled snow on Thursday. By Friday I “crashed” and my Fibromyalgia flared up again. Chronic low back pain, which was nearly gone last week, is back with a vengeance. I’ve been taking prescription pain medications for the past 3 days- something I hadn’t needed since starting BTD.
I have electricity in my home, gas in my car, and schools have resumed normal sessions, but things don’t “feel normal” quite yet. I’m worried about the power lines in my backyard. My heart hurts for friends on the south shore of LI who have been displaced from their homes. I’m feeling physically and mentally worn out.