Up until a few months ago on any given shopping trip you would have seen a basket laden with bread, cheese, vegetables, yogurt and ice cream. I would stock pile English Muffins and Hawaiian Sweet Rolls like they were currency and when I took them home I would lace them with cheese, glorious cheese, studded with spicy little flecks of jalapeno. I put whipped cream on my coffee in the morning sprinkled with cinnamon and I would NEVER say no to ice cream…not ever! I allowed myself these guilty pleasures because we eat so healthy in every other way. We eat primarily vegetarian and never stop for fast food unless it is Chipotle, is that even considered fast food? So imagine my concern when our new Dr. suggested we eliminate gluten and dairy from our diet. You see, our now 15 month old son had a chronic cough since birth and up until a few months ago we had been hanging on every word that our Pediatricians, Pulmonologist’s & ENT’s told us. The tests were countless and our poor little guy had a gallon size Ziploc bag full of meds that “might help” said the DR.’s. We felt totally helpless, alone & scared.
On a trip home to Long Beach I confided in one of my dearest friends about how scared & exhausted we were. We hadn’t had a full night’s sleep in over a year and none of the medicines he was on seemed to be helping. He had been on so many antibiotics that he had virtually no immune system and the doctors were now prescribing more invasive tests and possible surgery. After listening to me drone on for what I am sure was close to an hour she asked if I would mind if she shared our story with the Chiropractor that she works for. She went on to tell me about how much he had helped her and her kids and about the numerous children that come into his clinic. I was in, sign me up, I would have stood upside down on my head and spun around in circles if someone thought that it would have helped. So my friend went to her office and talked to her Dr. and they helped me with all of the information that I needed to find the right Chiropractor for us when we came back to Atlanta. I wanted someone with a holistic approach that just happened to adore kids and not mind a tired over stressed mom at their clinic with hundreds of questions and concerns.
When I came home I immediately started researching and inquiring with friends that had Chiropractor’s in the area. I had 3 weeks until our son’s scheduled surgery and I had to move fast. After a few long days of calling around and searching online my phone rang the soothing voice on the other line introduced herself as Dr. Dana Surma of Milton Chiropractic. A friend of ours had told her our story during a visit and she felt positive that she could help us but we needed to get started right away. I couldn’t believe it, a doctor took time out of their life to call me for once! When we went to her office the following day I was a little scared and really excited all at the same time. Dana made us feel at ease immediately and my son who normally didn’t like the doctors seemed to be completely comfortable with her. After our initial exam she suggested adjustments for our son pretty frequently over the next few weeks to see if we could get his ear infections under control, a probiotic to rebuild his immune system and a new diet for both of us without gluten and dairy. Why did we have to give up wheat and cheese? We both loved it so much. Couldn’t I just quit feeding it to him? What on earth would we eat? This cough, runny nose wheezing thing had been here practically since birth how could that be the problem? Then she told me, all of that glorious bread, cheese & pasta that I was eating was passed along to our son every time he nursed. The whole way home I thought about this new probable diagnosis. Could it be as easy as our diet? Could the foods that my pediatricians were advising I cram down his throat to make him gain weight be poisoning him? I had inquired about allergies before to all of our doctors and specialists but they all looked at me like I was an idiot.
The first week was hard and I had to relearn everything I knew about food. Almost everything in my house had gluten or dairy in it. Lucky for us my husband shows his love through actions and committed to the gluten-free and dairy free diet with us so we wouldn’t be alone. We decided to completely commit and clear the house of everything gluten filled and dairy laced and start over from scratch. We cooked a lot of vegan meals the first few weeks and we ate a lot of hummus with rice crackers. We rediscovered our love of fresh fruits and oatmeal, gluten-free of course. We quickly learned that a lot of the prepared gluten-free foods that we bought were bland and dry. Some I wouldn’t even feed to my dog they were so bad! However, our son’s cough was getting better and his ear infections had gone away. It was looking like he didn’t need the ear tubes right away, if at all, and he was able to start sleeping 4-6 hours at a time without being woken up by coughing and choking. Even more surprising, my husband and I both felt amazing! We had lost weight and had more energy than we have had in months and when Todd had no choice on a business outing but to eat a meal that was full of the contraband guess what happened. He immediately started having a reaction like our son had been having. We hadn’t had any clue that Todd was gluten intolerant but now it was all starting to make sense. It was then that I made the decision to enlist my passion for cooking and my love of food to create meals that not only tasted good but would help us to feel like we weren’t missing anything from our previous foodie lifestyle. I spent days pouring through websites, cookbooks, magazines and Whole Foods stores to find that there weren’t a lot of resources out there for people like us that wanted a primarily vegetarian diet free of gluten and dairy.
So there is our story in a nutshell. The lack of resources to help aid us in this process further spurred the notion to start writing a blog. Hopefully our posts and recipes will help someone else in their journey. If nothing else you might find that you can eat healthy meals without feeling like you are missing out. Last but not least, to our dear friend that helped us to find the right path you have changed our lives and opened our eyes to a whole new world. Thank you and we love you!
Here is a little sneak peek at our next post: Gluten & Dairy Free Fiery Pesto Pizza
UPDATE: We have learned in the last year that Kash’s health problems are caused strictly from ingesting gluten. We have seen no significant changes in his health when we added small amounts of dairy back into his diet. We choose to still limit his intake and only serve him plant based milks and yogurts at home.