Saturday, October 09, 2010

Well, That's Just Teff!

Oh, this is not a post I ever wanted to write.  It's not a season (I hope it's only a season!) I ever wanted to live.  

But it's good for me, and good for Little Artist, so here we are.

I finally took Little Artist to the Naturopath last week to address some of her digestive issues.  She's always - always - had trouble in that department, and while we finally seemed to have conquered the Fear-Constipation-Fear cycle, there was more going on.  I started to notice a distinct difference in how she looked - like when you look at children who are built differently than your own, and the difference strikes you.  Well, it was like that, but she IS my own, so that made it extra-odd.  At least for me. When I see her upper arms, they are not shaped like her sisters' arms are - more thin, I guess, like those hungry kids you see in photos (not THAT hungry, obviously).  Her backbone sticks out in places like alligator-bumps.  Yet, her profile isn't slim.  Her belly is disproportionately big.  But if you try to 'pinch' a bit of fat, that's all you get - a TINY bit.  Not fat, but round, firm, and big.

The naturopath didn't do anything terribly invasive - no blood tests or anything - but he felt and tapped and listened, and told me that 90% of the time this kind of thing has to do with food allergies.  He wrote down the major ones he wanted us to avoid, and advised the use of a good digestive enzyme with each meal and a capsule of L-Glutamine daily.

The things to avoid:  Yeast, Nuts, Soy, Gluten, and Dairy.  Those last two are the killers.  Heh, well, they may indeed be killers to some extent, but avoiding them is hardest.  The soy we already mostly avoid, and nuts aren't hard to eliminate, but yeast is tricky (not just yeast-breads, but anything with vinegar), and gluten is really hard.  We love wheat around here (too much, probably), and if not wheat, then oats, and if not oats, barley, and... well, you get the idea. :)  Dairy is something I rely on daily as a lunchtime protein, and makes for frequent condiments to meals.  

We've been using other grains lately - rice is one we're fairly used to, and millet I've used on occasion.  I cooked up some amaranth the other evening (cooked like rice, with water) and it was very weird!  Millet puffs up and gets fluffy like rice, but amaranth... doesn't.  You can still see the individual grains, but it develops a clear, gelatinous goo...  It's so strange.  I found the smell to be odd, too, but we ate it, and again for breakfast the next day.  Hubby wondered later if there was any left (there wasn't, after that), and I was surprised that it was enjoyed to the extent it was.  I have read about it, and I believe it would grow well here, so there is a possibility I'd put it in the garden next year (it is known to cross with a certain weed we have, though, and I'm not sure about that!).  I've ordered some teff (another super-tiny grain I've never tried) from Azure, and it will be interesting to see how it cooks up and what else I can use it for.  Coconut flour is highly recommended - highly caloric, highly expensive too - but apparently it's usable in many baked goods as well as a thickener (like white sauce and gravy?).

She misses cheese, though, and I'm not sure what we can do about that.  :]

But it's for a season, and we're already seeing progress.  Her belly is much softer to the touch.  We're hopeful her body will heal, and these foods can at least become part of an occasional meal for her.  If not, we'll be grateful for a way to keep her well!


annie said...

That describes my daughter exactly, except her arms are still toddler-chubby. But her belly is always firm and round. Her doctor ruled out allergies through a simple blood test, but I've often wondered if maybe that wasn't comprehensive enough. It was mainly to test whether she had celiac or something similar. I was thankful when it came back negative, but also frustrated because now what?

I took dairy out of her diet when she first started having issues, but kept yogurt. It didn't seem to change anything, so I added dairy back in. Maybe I didn't do it for long enough or something. We don't eat soy, either, and the only nut she gets often is peanut butter. I don't know.....I hope this solves LA's issues for her. Poor girl. It's gotta be tough. Or teff.

EllaJac said...

Annie, the naturopath did say the "half life of IgG antibodies is 45 days." VERY loosely translated, it means that the immune system will still react to the allergen for many days after it's eliminated from the diet... Hubby had to go 90 days eliminating everything (and not a nibble or taste between) and then could start reintroducing things very slowly, to assess a change.

LA didn't have an official test done (they're kinda expensive), but Hubby has had them, and they are MUCH more sensitive a test than you're typical allergy test, I'm told. The place that did the lab test was here,perhaps you can find a nearby doc who uses them (they're in FL, too, I believe)...?

A (maybe cheaper) alternative might be to find a ND who does 'strength testing' or the equivalent. It's a little strange, but my mom swears by it to keep up on what she should and shouldn't eat.

I hope you find some answers for your little one!

annie said...

Well, Isabel first started having problems when she was about 7 months old and still nursing exclusively. At the time, I didn't think to examine what in my diet could be causing the problem, since her then doctor said it probably wasn't anything and not to worry about it. When she started on solids, I kept dairy out of her diet, except yogurt, because I knew from previous experience from a former job dairy can make constipation worse. I don't remember when exactly I added dairy back in, but it was more than three months before I allowed her to have it due to no discernible change. But, again, I didn't think about how what I was eating was affecting her through nursing and didn't take dairy out of my diet.

Thanks for the link and information....I requested to find a doctor that uses that testing. We really like our current pediatrician. She isn't a naturopath but she is totally into the holistic idea of healing. And she takes our insurance.

What is the digestive enzyme your naturopath recommended?

EllaJac said...

Li'l Artist also 'acted' constipated on breastmilk alone. Her poo was fine, but the way she handled bowel movements made you think it was a lot of work! I also didn't consider my own diet at the time.

Our ND recommends (and sells) Klaire stuff. They're almost prescription-like, as klaire won't sell to anyone not a doc (unless you have your doc's ok). They're GUARANTEED free of allergens, plus high quality, yada yada. Doc doesn't mess around with things he's not sure about, and doesn't have the inclination to research further once he's found what works...? Anyways, I have some Garden of Life Ω-Zyme (the powdered stuff) that is decent too (and doc said it would be ok). I got it from amazon for a good price. You can mix it into food, but it will start 'digesting' it and make it watery, so I give it to her with a spoonful of whatever she's eating, all in one bite.

annie said...

"Li'l Artist also 'acted' constipated on breastmilk alone. Her poo was fine, but the way she handled bowel movements made you think it was a lot of work."

That's how Isabel was, too.

Thanks for the information...I'll look into it. I'd much rather something like that, than Miralax which the doctor has been recommending and Isabel has been taking daily for a year and a half. I shudder to think of what it's doing to her, but I'm praying the good outweighs the harm because I don't know what else to do.

Andi said...

More protein ideas (but shhh, these are in the works as a post on my own blog, so don't ruin the surprise LOL:
Eggs -- Josiah eats at least one scrambled egg a day, and will also eat them as egg salad (with gluten-free crackers or just on a spoon)
Chicken Salad -- we use the canned chicken from Costco and make it with whatever add-ins we've got (grapes, apples, craisins, almonds, curry powder or black pepper, mayo, etc.)
I got a great gluten-free meatloaf recipe from a friend that is very fun and kid-friendly -- it uses ground turkey instead of beef, smashed tortilla chips instead of bread crumbs (and Josiah loves to smash them!), an egg, and salsa for added veggies and flavor. Then you mash the mixture into cookie cutter shapes on a baking sheet lined with wax paper so that the resulting meatloaves are cute edible shapes (airplanes, hearts, trees, etc.) A tad bit more labor intensive than the average lunch, but lots of the work is stuff you can have the kids do :)
Tuna casserole -- gluten free noodles, frozen vegetables of choice (we use peas and mixed bag of other veggies, along with some red peppers) then add tuna, mayo, and seasonings (garlic powder, salt, pepper, etc.) and it's super yummy!
Our guilty pleasure (besides expensive all-natural gfcf fish sticks and chicken nuggets) is hand-dipped, home-friend gf corn dogs :) We use the Bob's Red Mill corn bread mix, chop all-natural hot dogs into halves or thirds, skewer and dip them, and fry them up :) I do a huge batch at once to use up the corn bread mix and freeze them for quick reheating in the over.

EllaJac said...

I plan to write about it further, but if she is still having real constipation troubles, the only thing that did it for us (finally!) was Dr. Schultz' Intestinal Formula #3. Look for it at

annie said...

Well, the Miralax helps her go regularly but I have to give her 1/2 or 3/4 of an adult's dose in order for it to work. If we try to wean her off it, as soon as we go below 1/2 dose everything goes out of whack and it will be days before anything happens, and then it will be hard and uncomfortable. So we have to up it to a full dose for a while before we can work our way back down to 1/2 again. I hate it.

I seem to remember that Intestinal Formula #3 from somewhere (probably you, I'm sorry, my memory fails me daily) and I will look into it again. It seems it would cost me about the same for the same amount of use, so it wouldn't put me out a lot of money. I just don't want her body to go into fits because I changed something it had gotten used to.

Benny said...

We're about to go down the road of naturopaths and allergy testing for real with my Finny (6). We've done the prick tests but they came back negative - but he's always had major troubles with ears and is skinny and has bowel troubles and skin troubles and behavioral troubles, and now he's breaking out in waht seems to be pimples all over, poor kid. I've tried to just play the ignorance as I struggle to feed our family of 7 1/2 and still keep skin on my bones with all the pregnancy and nursing I've been doing non stop for 9 years now even with no major dietary regulations. But it's time to find out what is bothering my poor boy and just make it work and cut it out. But boy am I scared to find out the truth...

EllaJac said...

Oh Benny, hang in there! And GOOD JOB, Mama, for taking this step, as scary and hard as it is, for your boy! It IS hard, to change your habits and shop differently and cook differently... But if it works, it's worth it. I've never WANTED to be different - I wanted to do the 'normal' thing, and cook and bake and EAT good old family favorites, to say nothing of trying to mesh with other families and events, but if God brings me to this path, I'll walk it as faithfully as I can.

I'll be praying for you!

Helpful Housewife said...

I need help and you were the first person that I thought of. My best friend has a baby who will turn 1 at the end of the month. She is 13 weeks pregnant, her milk supply was very low so she decided to give him a milk based formula until he officially turns one and then whole milk. He has been sick for 4 weeks and she is convinced that it is a reaction to the formula and worried that it may be a milk based allergy. She obviously doesn't want to use a soy based formula and for the last couple days has been giving him rice milk. She has no clue what to do about this. She is trying to find a holistic doctor but in the mean time can you help us out and recommend something?

I appreciate it greatly !