Sunday, October 18, 2020

Dogged by food, again

One of the consequences of ongoing toxic stress that no one tells you about are digestive failures, and not just something as well known as IBS. It was during the, well, decade that I was living through hell that I developed a number of nasty sensitivities. While I can eat soy and sesame now, wheat is still off the table. (Dairy is as well, but that's down to straight up lactose intolerance.)

Things are better, though not always good (which is why I'm drafting this at 1:28 AM), and I thought I could finally rejoin the eco-conscious food system and buy farm-fresh produce for my family, and focus on things like zero-waste. Well, no.

Let's call COVID-19 "stressful", and for many of us, let's call it toxic. Fair to say that teens are suffering from that even more than adults are. My teens are, and they both manifested some extreme digestive symptoms. After consulting a nutritionist for both, we got some blood work done. One of them was relatively straight-forward -- as expected, don't even look at dairy and wheat, and tomatoes and beans are iffy -- but for the most part, he can eat within relatively normal parameters. I fully expected that his brother would be less dramatic, but I was wrong.

My other son showed up highly sensitive for the vast majority of what he was tested for. FYI, "vast majority" includes not only wheat and dairy, but also beef, chicken, eggs, pork, and most fruits and vegetables. I want to say that pretty much everything he's eaten showed up as something he was sensitive to, but that's not entirely correct as tea, coffee, and chocolate are all things that he's just fine for. 


Who doesn't love lasagna? Now all I have to do is make this with gluten free pasta, vegan cheese and meat, and figure out a tomato-free substitute for the sauce...

I spoke to another healthcare provider the day after I got the results, and her perspective was that his (and maybe both of their) immune systems need to be strengthened, and he should have small amounts of the foods he's sensitive to in the meantime. Confining him to a narrow set of food choices is going to add more stress, both physical and mental. That was the conclusion I had started to come to as well: if the food wasn't killing him, I wasn't going to take it away. (Please note, these are food sensitivity results, not allergies. I do not advise anyone to be as blithe with things that could cause anaphylactic shock.)

All of this came to a head as we had an order of farm fresh food waiting to be picked up, which I knew included things both of my sons had shown sensitivities to. Even with a more relaxed attitude, I can't help but wonder what the point is of going out of my way to get premium farm fresh produce (and meats) when my sons can't eat that much of it. Or does that mean that there's even more of a point to it?

Around this time I also found that my favorite food blogger, Jack Monroe, was posting again. Seems for now they've tightened their belt even more (Brexit is rearing it's ugly head in so many ways), and as they're cheerfully shopping for two on a weekly budget of $25.82 (the current equivalent of 20 pounds), I'm wondering how well they would cope if their family members were diagnosed with the same level of sensitivities to things like wheat and dairy. (Let's pretend that people on that tight a budget can access a test like that in the first place.) Actually, I don't have to wonder, because I've been in similar straits myself. The answer for me was to suffer through the things I was sensitive to because I didn't have a choice. I don't think I'm the only parent who has had to make that decision for themselves, and it's horrible. But having to make that decision for your children is the worst. It is also extremely -- wait for it -- stressful, which exacerbates everything and keeps you cycling through your vicious circle. My hat is off to Monroe and anyone else who can continue through that and power through.

Not sure this makes me feel better or worse about the farm order, but for now I've suspended it. It doesn't make sense right now to order something four days in advance, not knowing who will be sensitive to what. This feels like the right decision for me right now, but I can't but feel like I'm part of the problem now.

Deb in the City

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