Our McDonald’s Experiment

i'm not lovin' it

To some it may be hard to believe that our 3 kids have no McDonald’s memories.  Our oldest was diagnosed with Celiac Disease when she was 2 so she doesn’t ever remember eating there.  We don’t have cable or satellite TV so they don’t see the commercials either.  Since the diagnosis of both my daughter and my husband we never eat there so the kids have no idea what it’s all about.  We have nicknamed the restaurant McGluten’s.  I am aware that they do have a couple of items on their menu that are gluten free but it is things like salad and yogurt.  Ummm, no thanks.   So when I found  myself out doing errands a couple of days after Christmas with my 4 year old (who has never shown any reaction to the limited amount of gluten she has eaten in her life) I decided to do a little experiment.  My daughter was complaining of being hungry.  No problem.  I never leave home without something to eat in my purse.  Well never except for that day.  I had been sick so I guess maybe I wasn’t thinking clearly.  Maybe that was why I took the easiest option and took her to McDonald’s.  Millions of other parents do it so why not?  As we got into line I asked her what she wanted.  She said “What do they have here?”  The guy in front of us looked back at us, laughed and said something about being surprised that she didn’t already know what she wanted.  I told her what the choices were.  I had to explain what a McNugget was.  She finally decided on those with fries and an apple juice.  We took the kid’s meal to the table and sat down.  She was so excited to get her lunch in a colorful box.  She immediately asked if she could take the box home.  You can imagine her reaction when she opened the box to find not only her lunch but a toy.  She shrieked loudly that “Someone put a toy in here!”  The two tables near us giggled over her excitement.  I told them that it was her first time there.  They  looked at me like they couldn’t decide if I was joking or not.   I wondered for a moment if she would now be begging to come back regularly.  Had I just opened a huge Pandora’s box?   Once the excitement of the toy subsided she remembered she was hungry.  She dug in.  She ate a grand total of one and a half nuggets, one taste of the sauce, one solitary french fry and all of her apple juice.  I asked her why she didn’t want to eat anymore and her response was one that made me proud.  She said, “I don’t like it.”   Yay!  Score for REAL FOOD!  Since that day she has asked to go back once.  She wanted another toy but not the food.  

I have said it before and I will say it again.  Celiac disease has been a good thing for our family.  Prior to CD I never once considered what I put in my mouth.  I assumed that all those things that I couldn’t pronounce on the ingredient list were food and were safe and benign.   I loved McDonald’s.  We ate out every day, sometimes more than once a day.  I had absolutely no idea of the close relationship between food and health, both physical and mental health.  While CD does in fact make life far more complicated at times and it certainly would be better not to have it, those are things that I can not change.  I choose to focus on the many positive things that have come of it.


Celiac Disease: It’s More Than Just The Trots

Let’s say that someone in your family had a history of breast or testicular cancer. Then one morning you are in the shower and you feel a lump in your breast or testicle. What would you do? Would you go see your doctor to be evaluated? Of course you would, right?! You wouldn’t sit at home and try to ignore the lump. You wouldn’t say, “my breast/teste is too important to me so I don’t want to find out what this lump is because that may mean losing it.” That could possibly be suicidal, right? Well, Celiac Disease is no different. Untreated Celiac Disease can cause conditions that can be fatal. It should not be ignored. Good nutrition is the basis of health and Celiac Disease prevents good nutrition. In CD, even minute amounts of gluten (which is found in more than just “flour”) will destroy your small intestine. It will cause damage even if you are not having symptoms. Your small intestine is where all the vitamins, minerals, protein, etc is absorbed. They are absorbed by tiny little finger like projections called villi. Celiac Disease flattens and destroys those villi making it impossible to absorb the nutrition you need to stay healthy and fight disease. Gluten will eventually cause disease, debility and yes, even death in a person with CD. CD is an auto immune disease. It is not an allergy, a sensitivity or an intolerance. It needs to be taken as seriously as cancer. It is more than just the inconvenience of a few extra trips to the bathroom.

I talked to a woman a couple of weeks ago and she was saying that her friend has a daughter with CD. “But she (the young girl) has so many other health issues that (the mother) just lets it (the CD) go.” She said that the diet was just too hard and the child’s symptoms weren’t that bad so they just don’t worry about it. I could not believe what I was hearing. Clearly it isn’t completely the mothers fault that there is a Grand Canyon’s worth of education missing in this family. That mother has no idea that most, if not all, of the child’s other issues are a result of her Celiac Disease and just because she wasn’t having diarrhea did not mean that it wasn’t an enormous problem. The woman told me that this poor little kid has crippling Rheumatoid Arthritis. It is so bad she can’t even walk up stairs. It is heartbreaking to me that the mother doesn’t know that RA is also an autoimmune disease and that it was likely triggered by untreated CD. Why didn’t the girl’s doctor educate the mother? Maybe it was because he didn’t know. When my husband was diagnosed they weren’t looking for CD so we had no idea what was coming. We were completely unprepared. The day he got that diagnosis the doctor handed him his biopsy results and said “you need to go on a gluten free diet, permanently.” That was it. No further education. Done. He just got instructions to follow up for another biopsy in one year. When my friend was diagnosed this March, her GI doctor told her that “at least you can still have Mexican food.” (I can’t even count the number of ways that this is wrong.) Again, no education, no referral to someone who could educate.

The newest research says that 1 in 100 people have CD and that if you have a blood relative that has CD, you have a 1 in 22 chance of having it. Mark my words here and now: those numbers are inaccurate and the true number is much, much higher. Of all the people I know that have CD, they are not the only one in their family who has it. If you have a family member that has CD you NEED to be screened. Saying that the diet is just too difficult or you don’t have the time to do it or that you love your bread or pasta or whatever too much, isn’t a good enough reason to not get screened. You need to ask your doctor to have the appropriate blood work done. If he/she refuses then find another doctor. Some doctors still believe that CD is rare. You need to be screened even if you don’t have diarrhea. Some people have constipation. Some people have both and some people don’t have a single symptom and do not feel sick. That doesn’t mean that they don’t have the disease or that the gluten that they are ingesting is not damaging their body. It may just mean they don’t have symptoms yet. When you do get your blood drawn keep in mind that a negative result does not mean that you don’t have CD and are free and clear forever. It just means that you don’t have enough antibodies in your blood on that day. That could change in a month or a year or never. The point is, you won’t know if you aren’t screened. There is a grey area or continuum in CD diagnosis, meaning that there is a period of time from when the disease starts to when antibodies can be detected in your blood. That period of time is different for everyone. So, if you have symptoms or if you have a family member who has it, you should be screened regularly. If you have any autoimmune diseases (Type 1 diabetes, Arthritis, thyroid disorders etc) know that autoimmune diseases tend to come in groups. Meaning, if you have one you are at greater risk to have another.

I wonder about the number of kids that are on the autism spectrum (Aspergers, ADD, ADHD etc). There was a recent study just released about about the incidence of autism. Turns out it is much more prevalent that previously thought. I bring this up because I am absolutely positive that had we not had the diagnosis for my husband; my oldest daughter would be diagnosed with ADHD. When she ingests gluten she has more behavioral symptoms than GI (although she does have those too depending on dose). She gets hyperactive, defiant, belligerent, aggressive, angry, sad and volatile. It is horrible to see and our hearts break for her when this happens. I wonder if we would ever have gotten a diagnosis of CD if it weren’t for her daddy’s diagnosis since she doesn’t present with “typical” symptoms. Prior to eliminating gluten from her diet her only other symptom aside from the behavioral stuff was that she was small.

The previous mentioned friend had both her daughters tested and one was positive. Other than just being small, she had no symptoms. My friend encouraged her family to get tested. They did. Both her father and her only other sibling both have it. Now, I am no statistician but that does not work out to 1 in 22. It’s the same in my immediate family. 2 of our 3 kids have it. There are many in my husbands family that likely have it too. His mother and her father, though not diagnosed, in retrospect likely had it too. They both died in nursing homes with atypical Alzheimer dementia with a long history of bowel issues and depression. My husband is one of seven children. One other has an “assumed celiac” diagnosis and others report symptoms but have not yet been screened. That’s not 1 in 22 either. That is only a few examples of many I could site.

Here is a list of possible symptoms of CD. Here is a list of conditions that are associated with CD. Here is a list of conditions that are probably associated with CD. Yes, it’s a huge list and like I said, some people have no symptoms at all because the damage has just started. Don’t wait until you have a laundry list of those ailments and don’t wait until you have cancer. If you have a family member who has CD you must be screened and your children must be screened. Screen now and screen often. And pass on the message!

****If you are the owner of a gluten free / Celiac blog, please consider linking this post to your blog to help spread the message. Help me to increase Celiac awareness. Thanks****

Translation Please

A big part of my day is trying to decipher my 2 year old’s speech. I swear she is working with about half of the alphabet, at best. She gets so frustrated in repeating everything she says, that she says it louder and louder until she is screaming it. I think she thinks I am deaf. Sometimes I repeat back to her what I have heard and she will say “YA!” (Ya, you dummy, that’s what I said!) We often have to get Sage to be our interpreter. So let’s play a little game. How many of these can you figure out?

1. Huck Me!

2. ho -e hane handus

3. me hus me heef

4. me poopeen now!

5. haucat heok

6. no hypa, me hig now

7. husus honan eeteen hurdpoop

8. hinasore

9. heepitoo?

10. hiya heepeen hit me.

11. heer mommy, hoogy

Okay, can you figure any of these out? I would love to see your comments with some guesses. I’ll post the translations in a day or two.

It’s Mother’s Day today and as my gift Ron took the girls out of the house so I could have some quiet time (Justus is napping). This is the absolute best gift I could receive. There is NO gift that could be better than some time to myself. Before I had kids I hated being alone and had to fill in those times with phone conversations or TV or something like that but now since having kids I just can’t get enough time alone. (Honestly it is a rare thing.) I used to look at those people who went to movies or restaurants alone and think they were pathetic loners who couldn’t even come up with one friend or family member to go with them. I now know that those people are parents and they are loving that time alone. So Happy Mother’s Day to all you tireless moms. Here’s wishing you some peace and quiet all by yourself!

Liar Liar Pants on Fire

Boy, they sure do learn to lie at an early age don’t they. This afternoon Justus was in his walker minding his own business while the girls were playing dress up in my shoes. All was well until Ron and I heard Justus let out a scream. You know that scream that says “I’m really hurt!” Ron goes running over there and Rori is standing beside Justus with a pair of my shoes, with heels, in each hand. We ask her “why is Justus crying.” She responds “I don’t know.” We ask “did you hit him?” She says “No.” We ask “did you hurt him.” Straight faced she says “no.” We ask “did the shoe hit him.” (We were hoping she would take the bait and admit that it was the shoe that hit him, not her.) Again she says “no.” A few minutes later when Justus had calmed down, Rori’s lie became apparent, literally. The shoe had left a heel print in his forehead.

Things I’ve Learned Since Becoming a Parent

The juice from blueberries can be used as a wood or clothing dye. Make sure you get it right the first time because there is no correcting of mistakes. Rori has used this dying technique for several items with terrific (and permanent) results. For example, her baby doll. It is now a beauitful shade of purpley blue, head to toe. Despite me trying to correct the dye job in the washing machine, her baby is still purple. When blueberries are used to dye fingers, nails and lips it is also very effective although slightly less permanent with effects lasting only a week or two. If smeared onto unfinished wood it produces a gorgeous swirling blue/purple that absolutely will not fade no matter what you do to it.

I should find a way to market this dye.

Things I’ve Learned Since Becoming a Parent

Lesson Number 2:

No matter how much you prepare your kids and teach them what is appropriate chit chat in a public bathroom, they will, none the less, embarrass you.

I was in a public bathroom with Sage (4) recently. We took turns as usual. The bathroom was very busy but still quiet. So I of course was a little anxious and she must have known it. She had been pretty quiet herself. I figure she must have been trying to think of what to say to embarrass me. As I am trying to be quick finishing up she looks at me, with a funny look on her face and loudly says, “Mommy, you have hair on your ______.” Now, this isn’t news to her. While we are not a naked house, she has seen all of me on a fairly regular basis. She is looking at me now expecting a response. I think I hear the woman in the next stall trying to stifle a laugh. What am I supposed to say to that? I know everyone in there is also waiting for my response. I chose to ignore the comment and change the subject. “So what do you want for dinner,” I respond in a whisper. Yeesh!

Things I’ve Learned Since Becoming a Parent

Does the learning curve in parenting ever flatten out? Even a little? I think I am going to make this a frequent type of post.

Number one most important rule in parenting: Never, ever, under any circumstances take your eyes off a 2 year old. I repeat, NEVER. It only takes them about 2 seconds to get into something they shouldn’t. And if for what ever reason you have not followed rule number one in parenting AND said 2 year old is quiet… Well, you are in deep trouble.

This is the result of me loosing track of Rori for a few seconds. Lipstick. And by the way lipstick doesn’t come off walls very well. This is something else I have learned as a parent. While I was guilty of not keeping a close eye on her for a few seconds, Ron made the worse mistake of not watching her for a few minutes. I was out of the house with Justus and Ron had the girls at home. They were all outside in the garage on a colder day while Ron was working on something. Rori got cold so she went inside the house – alone. After about 5 min (or so he says) he asks Sage to go see what Rori is doing inside. Sage goes inside and comes out and says “Dad, you have to come inside. This is serious.” It was. She was up on the bathroom counter, sink plugged, water running on full. I am told there was a 1/2 an inch of water on the floor and it was running out into the hallway. The drop down drawer was full of water as was the cupboard under the sink. When we built this house and chose the sinks we didn’t have nor want kids so we chose the more aesthetically pleasing sink that did not have an overflow hole. Turns out that was another bad decision on our part. When I got home and heard the story I of course asked if he thought to take a picture first before cleaning it up. Apparently though he didn’t think it was as amusing as I did.