Monday, July 15, 2013

Eating Out with Food Issues & Picky Eating/Wedding Anniversary Trip

Eating out with food issues is always stressful.  I think eating at people's houses is the hardest, simply because you don't have a menu to choose from & it can be hard to question them how they prepared the food.  Restaurants are easier, but it's still a challenge.  Especially with gluten.

We've dealt with dairy issues for many years.  First with my hubby, then our son, & then I joined them.  But it's so easy to avoid dairy in comparison with gluten.  There just isn't the whole "cross contamination" issue with dairy as there is with gluten.  

On top of the dairy & gluten issues I also have interstitial cystitis & there are tons of foods I am unable to eat because of this. 

So my hubby & I celebrated our 8th wedding anniversary recently.  He told me we were going away for the weekend, but the location was a surprise.  He has always done it that way, surprising me for our anniversary, whether it's a trip or a fancy dinner out.  And I love to be surprised, but this time I was worrying about eating.  And this time we took our son with us & I was worrying about his eating also.  My son cannot have dairy & gluten & on top of that he is an extremely picky eater.  (While I have to avoid gluten strictly, I can have "some" dairy & be ok.)

However, I must say that he is improving gradually.  He now eats quite a few healthy foods on a regular basis: eggs, goat yogurt, home made gluten free toast & French toast, gluten free waffles, chicken, turkey, organic hot dogs, I know there's more that I can't think of at the moment.  I am very pleased & am positive he will slowly & gradually continue to improve in this area.  I keep on offering & don't get upset when he says no.  On a side note, my hubby & I cannot wait for the day he decides to try fresh fruit.  We know he is going to be blown away by how good it is & not be able to believe that he was missing out for so long.

I didn't tell my hubby that I was nervous about our trip, only that we needed a refrigerator for our son's rice milk smoothie.  But then, on his own, later on, he decided to tell me that we were going to Santa Barbara.  I have never been there, that I can recall, so I was excited.  He's been there many, many times & loves it.  I did take advantage of that knowledge & google "eating gluten free in Santa Barbara" & had a list of places to eat at.  That did make me feel much better.

We left on a Friday, around 1 or 2 PM & hit horrible traffic.  There was also A LOT of fog, that we weren't expecting in the afternoon through Ventura county.  We finally got there, checked into our hotel, unpacked a little bit, & headed out for dinner. 

We went to Fresco Café.  It was really close to our hotel, we could've actually walked, but didn't realize it was THAT close.  I was thrilled to order a grilled chicken breast sandwich on gluten free bread with a huge & really good side salad.  So many places offer boring plain iceberg lettuce salads, this was full of wonderful leafy greens & shredded carrots & chickpeas, etc.  The sandwich had avocado, roasted bell peppers, & I forget what else, but it was good.  My hubby ordered the same thing as me, with regular gluten bread, but wasn't thrilled.  He said it was too much like what we eat at home & he wanted to be more adventurous when on a trip.  I can see what he means, if not for being thrilled with the gluten free aspect while dining out, I would've probably felt the same way.  On the kids' menu they offered a grilled chicken breast with a side of fruit.  This is the first time ever we actually ordered food off of a kids' menu for our son.  We were worried he wouldn't like it for some reason & refuse to eat it.  (I had brought LOTS of snacks for him, far more than we needed, just to be safe, but wanted to make sure he ate "real" food on the trip as well)  He devoured the chicken breast, but of course didn't want anything to do with the fruit (it was hubby's dessert).  They did have the chicken breast laying on a large piece of romaine lettuce & his very first comment was "I don't need the green".  We quickly removed it & he thoroughly enjoyed the chicken.  They also offered 3 gluten free deserts.  A chocolate & mascarpone pudding, a chocolate cake, & a huge coconut macaroon.  I got the macaroon & our son got the chocolate cake.  They were both really good.

We headed back to our hotel & played in the pool & Jacuzzi.  And then turned in for the night, although our son had a really hard time falling asleep in an unknown place.

Before we went to bed I asked hubby where we were going to eat breakfast.  He said the hotel had a restaurant & we could just eat there.  I figured eggs would be safe enough, so I didn't worry about it.  When we got up hubby had changed his mind & wanted to look for something better.  Our son was starving so we were in a bit of a rush.  We spotted a sidewalk café called "The Andersens" (I think that was it) & headed there.  It ended up being a Danish restaurant.  (Interestingly, there was a family from Denmark staying in our hotel & we saw other tourists from Denmark around Santa Barbara)  They had lots of unusual food offerings & tons of pastries.  When I inquired about gluten free fare I was told all the egg meals were safe & that they had several excellent gluten free pastries.  We ordered a plain omelette for our son & he devoured it.  My hubby got waffles & an over medium egg & something else......I can't remember.  I got an omelette with turkey, fresh basil, & I forget what else.  It was fabulous. 

For lunch we headed to the Sojourner Café, it was on the website I had found for gluten free eating.  Hubby wasn't thrilled with the option, lots of vegan stuff, though they did have a couple of turkey & chicken options.  We ended up at an Italian place, Aldo's, it was also on the website, saying they offered gluten free pasta.  We both ordered Angel Hair Pomodoro with gluten free angel hair.  The kids' menu didn't offer anything that our son would/could eat, but they did allow us to order a grilled chicken breast for him.  The food here wasn't that great, but I really lost my love for pasta even before I went gluten free.  It's just not something I eat very often.

During this day we headed to the pier, played on the beach (but it was really cold, so we didn't stay long), rented a bike that held all 3 of us, & played in the pool & Jacuzzi again at the hotel.

After a huge breakfast & lunch we were really stuffed & actually chose to skip dinner.  Our son had had a hard time falling asleep the first night & so he was really tired & fell asleep in the car so we knew he wouldn't be missing dinner, he'd be too busy sleeping.  We did however stop at the Andersens again & hubby inquired about gluten free pastries.  They had 5, so hubby bought one of each.  We headed back to our hotel, put our son to bed, & sat on our patio (we had a poolside room with a little private patio) & ate our pastries & drank our martinellis (our hotel left us a bottle of martinellis in an ice bucket with champagne glasses for our anniversary). 

The next morning we packed up, checked out, & went out to find breakfast.  We really didn't see anything that caught our eye, so we decided to go back to the Andersens.  We parked but on our way there we passed another little café that was on the gluten free website, Jeannine's Bakery.  It was really busy & we asked some customers & they said it was fabulous, so we decided to eat there.  I had huevos rancheros, hubby had pancakes & an over medium egg.  Our son got a plain omelette again.  They had TONS of gluten free breads, cookies, etc.  But it wasn't fancy stuff like the Danish place had.  It was mostly stuff like what I make at home, so I didn't bother to get anything here.  But it sure is nice to see places offering gluten free fare.  Their menu also had a symbol next to gluten free dishes.  I really wish more places would incorporate that!!

After this we started heading home.  We decided to take PCH, highway 1, to go through Malibu.  I have always wanted to see where Cindy Crawford lives, so I was able to do that.  Of course all you can see from the street is just the gate, but I've seen lots of photos of her home & her yard.  And I can see a skyview on Google Earth as well.  She has the main house & also a beach house right on the beach.  I am curious if that is a private beach or if I can go on the beach & see her beach house from there.  But I'll leave that for another day.

We actually skipped lunch this day.  Hubby had some snacks & I had a gluten free protein bar.  Our son snacked as well.  When we got home I unpacked everything while hubby made dinner. 

We stopped at Point Mugu beach on the way home.  We had wanted to spend time at the beach in Santa Barbara, but it was too cold.  So we stopped here & had a nice time.  It was warmer, but the water was still super cold.  I don't go in the ocean ever, since I don't know how to swim, but I do like to feel it on my feet & legs.  My hubby likes to go in, but it was too cold for him.

All in all it was a really great trip.  We had fun, it was so nice to get away, even if only for a weekend, we had no food issues, I wasn't accidentally "glutened" even once, & I am soooo impressed with our son.  With his eating, his willingness to stay in an unknown hotel, etc.  It was all around fabulous.  I was also extremely impressed with the amount of gluten free fare in Santa Barbara.

We really need to (& are hoping to) get a small motorhome so we can get away (for far less money) anytime we want.  No hotel costs & we can eat out less, both will save money & the cost of gas will still be less than the cost of hotels & eating out the whole time. 

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Parenting Reflections

Today I was sitting & pondering how much I have changed as a person since becoming a mother.  And in how many different ways-physical, emotional, spiritual, the list goes on & on.  I know people always said "everything changes once you have a baby" but I never understood the why or how of that statement.  

Before I had my son I was a stepmother for about 4 years.  And while I always had my stepkids' best interests in mind & always tried to be the best stepmother I could be given the situation, they were older (17 & 11 at the time I married my husband) & they very were independent & I never had a parenting role with them.  Their mother was very much a part of their lives, which made me just this extra person in their lives.  I was still very aware of my position in their life & needing to be a good role model & putting their needs before my own, etc.  There is no question that I love my stepkids tremendously, but it's a VERY different relationship than I have with my son. 

As I reflect over the past 4 years, there are so many positive changes.  First & foremost, my relationship with my God.  I have drawn so much closer to Him during this time to guide me to be the best mother I can possibly be.  To make the best choices for my son that I can make. 

And as I teach my son, according to the Bible, I am also studying & learning along the way. 

In my past I have always wondered why God created us to not be able to remember our first few years of life.  I had always thought it was very odd.  And yet I know that God makes no mistakes so there has to be a reason.  I have often joked that I will be asking God about this when I get to Heaven.  But as I reflect on this now, as a mother, I truly suspect it's simply because we parents make so many blunders in those first few years.  We are trying to get to know our child & what works best (& also to parenting in general for the firstborns), there is no question that mistakes will be made.  There is no rule book with kids, no one way to best do it.  Even if you've had several kids, you know that they are all different & require different parenting tactics. 

During the brief time I attended MOPS a couple of years ago there was only one time there that stands out to me.  We had a guest speaker, the father of the woman who ran the MOPS group I was attending.  He spoke about the subject of God not making mistakes & that God places a child where it NEEDS to be & vice versa.  No matter how imperfect or inadequate we may be, we are the parents that God feels is best for that child & that child is what's best for us.  We must draw closer to God & allow God to mold us & shape us as He desires.  And we must be willing to learn from our children also.  So many people think they are to teach & control their children & never stop to ponder what they can learn from their child.  I have been amazed since very early on with my son at all that I am learning & seeing differently since becoming a mother. 

But God is so faithful & glorious.  As I draw nearer to Him I can clearly see that I am a better parent.  And my son is the one that benefits from that.  I am more patient & kinder & gentler than I have ever been in my past.  And I hope the trend of being a better person/parent continues with the coming years.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Health Reflections

December 5, 2012 marks the day I went gluten free to explore the possibility of gluten causing health problems for me.  So I am quickly approaching 7 months of being gluten free.

Although healing takes time it was remarkable what a difference it made for me to not eat gluten.  I had been feeling very sick for quite some time & it seemed to be progressively getting worse as time passed.  I truly felt like I was dying a slow death.  As I'm sure I've said before I had no reason to suspect that gluten was a problem for me.  But as I was doing research on interstitial cystitis (a bladder problem that I have) I found a few sources that said that gluten can be a contributing factor of IC.  Since I was suffering so much I decided I needed to at least try to rule it out as a problem for me.  So I decided to give up gluten for a few months & then reintroduce it & see how it went.  But at almost a month into being gluten I accidentally ingested gluten & had such a tremendous reaction.  At that point it was confirmed for me & I have had a few other times of ingesting it accidentally, all with bad reactions. 

This discovery also allowed me to help my own son.  He was having a food reaction of some sort & I hadn't been able to narrow it down.  Once I realized that I have an issue with gluten I knew that he had an increased chance of it also.  I removed gluten from his diet & all his reaction issues have vanished. 

Prior to going gluten free I was a baker.  I LOVED baking of all sorts.  Since going gluten free I have learned how to bake gluten free.  And I've done really well at it.  As I taste gluten free baked goods from stores & bakeries, etc I keep thinking that I need to get MY baked goods out there for sale......just not sure how to go about doing that. 

The body can certainly heal, but it also doesn't happen instantaneously or even overnight.  I have read that it can take up to 2 years for the intestines to fully heal from gluten damage.  And I am quite sure that it will take time for my bladder to heal as well. 

Prior to going gluten free I was dairy free.  I do think modern dairy isn't very healthy for us & I do try hard to eat as healthfully as I can & make every calorie count.  I also gave it up because it does sometime make me sick to my stomach.  And my son & hubby are dairy free, so it's just easier to follow along with them.  It's also hard to be eating something & my son asks for some & I have to tell him he can't have it.  So I'm still mostly dairy free, but I do occasionally have some.  But I must say I'm not craving it or dying to have some or anything like that.  I can live without it easily these days.  Initially when I was giving up dairy I was buying a fake cheese, the brand is Daiya.  But I've gotten to the point where I really don't even need that replacement. 

I am extremely grateful to God for healing my body & the wisdom He has given to me to restore my health.  I feel like I'm coming back to life from the dead, although some days I am still very tired.  But it seems to be less & less as time passes. 

In any event, no matter what happens with my health, God is in control & the glory is all His.