Category Archives: About Genghis Mom

Information That Would Have Been Helpful Yesterday

Here’s why I write about food.

No one ever called us aside when we became young adults and said, “Here is how to keep your shit together, which includes your financial health, your mental health, your physical health, your spiritual health.” We were just thrown out in the world, all trying to do the best we could with limited information that wasn’t necessarily consolidated or even organized, and certainly without a lot of context. Some of us do better than others in different areas; it depends on your family of origin and how well they did. (At least when you first branch out on your own, trying to figure out what it means to be a grown up.) And then before you know it, you’re responsible for little people. There is nothing more powerful to show you up on how well you know something than trying to teach it to someone else.

With regard to nutrition, this wasn’t really a problem until we started to mess with the food chain. You can get away with eating a lot of “real food” that is considered horrible for you (bacon, butter, bread, home-made cookies) when it isn’t genetically modified or processed so the sugar content is triple what I would make in my own kitchen.

As a country, very few people are aware what good nutrition is. Most physicians are not required to take a single course in nutrition before graduating from medical school. The situation is … not awesome. (For an article about the current state of nutrition education, see here The State of Nutrition Education at US Medical Schools, Journal of BioMedical Education) So when my primary care says, “Are you eating healthy?” and then I see her tucking processed protein bar loaded with GM soy and corn fillers alongside additives and colors into her coat pocket, I assume that’s what she means is the standard.  Our nutritionists are, as Dee McCaffrey says in The Science of Skinny, resort nutritionists. We go to them as a last resort. I’ve gone to a nutritionist to get counseling and vet our family diet; you know who sits in the waiting room with me? Cancer patients. Why does it have to get so bad before we make a change?

It’s kind of like when I was first pregnant and there were only three people who would tell me the truth about the unpleasant parts of the experience. When I asked the others why they wouldn’t be honest with me, they said, “Because I didn’t want to scare you.”

Well, maybe before you  made that decision for me, you should have asked me if I thought I could handle it. I was about to be a mother and you treated me like a small child. How the hell was I supposed to know it was time to grow up? Betty Friedan might have been on to something when she talked about generations of infantilized of women in The Feminine Mystique. Back to pregnancy advice – seriously, as pure personal courtesy –  I would have appreciated a heads up that when I farted it would be able to clear a room.  Like Adam Sandler in The Wedding Singer, “THINGS THAT COULD HAVE BEEN BROUGHT TO MY ATTENTION YESTERDAY.”

I think the real reason that no one wants to say is because they’re afraid that you  might respond with, as I did in my head many times before I finally figured it out, “Nope. Can’t be that. I will END you if you give me one more goddamned thing to do, and that seems like a shit ton of work. Go fuck yourself, you hippie freak.” I used to think the super healthy people were judging me. Sometimes they were. But when I think back, I realize that more often than not, the expression on their faces that I had taken to mean “You suck as a mom and you’re poisoning your children” was really “I wish I had the words to tell you without sound like a whack job and I’m trying to so hard to bite my tongue right now because I like you as a person and I don’t want to scare you.”

Maybe it’s not about scaring people and motivating them through fear, it’s about trusting them to be able to handle the truth. So get ready. The next few posts are going to be about what organic really means versus conventional versus genetically modified. My sister once told me after she saw me rubbing my husband’s feet, “I can’t un-see that.” If you don’t want to read, skip the posts under Going Organic, because some things you just can’t un-know.

Who Is Me?

Booyah

I totally stole that phrase from Stephen Colbert.

You might be wondering, “Who IS this lady?” (The word lady might be interchangeable with a good many others, but I’m sticking with “lady” right now because it gives you lots of freedom to choose which way you’d like to go with it.)

I’m a mom of two kids, ages 6 and 8. They’re absolutely awesome. Except when they’re not. And I write about both scenarios here, because let’s face it – even when they’re not that awesome, they’re still awesome.

I came to my views and knowledge about food from an experience that began two and a half years ago where I was basically pulled aside with my older child, a boy, and told “Um, he has some issues.” They were categorizing his behavior within the confines of Sensory Processing Disorder, which basically translates into “signals get crossed in the brain and so some things don’t work correctly”. For more about Sensory Processing Disorder, read here: Sensory Processing Disorder Foundation.

I signed him up for all the treatments, had endless conversations with my husband about whether or not this was even real (there is a whole contingent out there that thinks this is a made up thing that kids outgrow), and even ended up paying for Occupational Therapy treatments out of pocket (to the tune of $100/session weekly because after a while they aren’t covered by insurance without an autism diagnosis – thanks, Blue Cross Blue Shield –so much for the Cadillac of insurance).

As a last result, I changed his diet. One of my closest girlfriends, who has a child with ASD said, “Have you looked at dyes? There is a lot of chatter on discussion boards about ASD behaviors that worsen with exposure to dyes, especially certain colors.”

We took out the dyes, and I am sure that had a positive effect, but the door had already been propped open. Once you start looking at the miniscule ingredients list on the back of the package, you start to wonder what that strange compound three up from the dyes is, and then you start to wonder why sodium laurel sulfate (which is an ingredient in soap) needs to be in cake mix.

Intuition told me that the answer wasn’t just the dyes. It was the whole shebang. We changed our entire diet. The ENTIRE thing. Everything 100% organic, no processed foods. After three weeks, we started to see changes. They seemed subtle but the best way I can explain it is that I got to the end of my day and I didn’t want to medicate myself with two glasses of wine. (Even though it has resveratrol, which is good for you, damn it!). After three months I had a different kid. After two years, I have a child who has surpassed other kids considered “normal” in behavior. And when he can keep himself together, it’s a hell of a lot easier for me to, as well.

Almost every posting that you will see about food on my blog is the result of hard earned knowledge through experience or the dozens of books I read about nutrition. Oh, and you know how they say everything you do for love is returned a thousand fold? The Universe threw me a bone. Once we changed out the diet for the entire family, I lost twenty five pounds. I now weigh the same amount I did in high school. Booyah!

Here was another added bonus. My now five year old, who I always thought was just “emotional”, got sweeter. (And yes, you can read that as less bitchy if you want, but I don’t think it’s totally fair to call a five year old bitchy. But it is fair to call a thirty five year old bitchy, which is what I was at the time we switched our diets.)

Turns out that because I wasn’t cattle prodding these little people’s nervous systems with food that didn’t serve them, they could relax and get to the business of being healthy and growing.

And to that, I say, “Cheers”, resveratrol and all.