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When Life Gets In the Way: Weeks 2-4


When Life Gets In the Way: Weeks 2-4

After 4 weeks into this 4R-elimination diet-gut repair journey, I've come to realize a few things:

  1.  Most challenges would be quite simple if life didn't constantly get in the way.
  2.  Children are incredible beings filled with strength, determination and resilience. 
  3.  Moving sucks.
Judah preparing lunch for the family all by herself one day.

Judah preparing lunch for the family all by herself one day.

It is pretty unbelievable how my husband and I have whined and craved and exploded over the tiny things throughout these first four weeks. My children on the other hand continue to amaze me. Every single meal our four year old gushes over. She thanks us and tells us it's the best food she's every eaten, meanwhile, I am hoping someone will turn their back so I can stuff my face full of brownies or ice cream. 

Judah's creation! Brown rice with olive oil and salt, leftover seasoned chickpeas, carrots, celery, greens and some extra vitamin C for a sick dad.

Judah's creation! Brown rice with olive oil and salt, leftover seasoned chickpeas, carrots, celery, greens and some extra vitamin C for a sick dad.

I feel a sense of accomplishment each time i need to make another shopping list. Like I am checking off a to-do list. One less week to go. Delish. Meal planning, though, is still daunting. Creativity is lacking and falling into a food cycle makes us pretty cranky. We have found a few ways to mix it up though, and some life saving recipes that I am excited to share.  But, first-- what's new and weekly recaps. 

The high of moving back to PVD was soon shot by my husband throwing his back out. When I got the call that he was lying on rooftop unable to move (he had been power washing rooftop decks)  I wanted to cry. Not for him, ha. But for me! I'm sure that sounds pretty terrible and wildly selfish, but we were moving in ONE WEEK and the man of the house couldn't get out of bed. Not even to pee. I was left to care for the children, him, pack up our entire apartment and hope that we would have enough help on moving day. (Which we did! THANK YOU TO ALL OF OUR AMAZING FRIENDS!!!!!)

On top of that-- this f-ing diet. That's what it felt like in that moment. Such a waste of time and a constant pebble in my shoe. In general, it was getting easier, we were getting into a groove, we weren't constantly hungry anymore and we felt good. But when life throws curveballs, man, everything seems astronomical. 

Here's how it all broke down:

(Poorly presented) Berries and Cream!!

(Poorly presented) Berries and Cream!!

Week 2: Recap

  • I struggled to keep it all together. Every night I prayed that no one would go into labor. Leaving to go to a birth on top of my already scheduled appointments, packing, cooking etc. would be stressful and stress is the last thing I want to carry with me to the arrival of a new baby. One day, a wonderful friend from church, who had heard about Mike's back asked to bring us a meal and I wanted to cry. How LOVELY that would be, except, no. How could we ask anyone to follow the strict guidelines we were on? I dreamt of that meal, though. Daydreamed about it and felt so much gratitude for the offer. I imagined how wonderful it would be to have food delivered to us. Goodness.
  • I realized that when food isn't convenient, I don't eat. I was taking nibbles of the kid's food, eating dinner with the family, but in the busyness of the day, if I couldn't throw some yogurt in a bowl, I really wasn't eating much at all.
  • We really, really, wanted something sweet and we found just the thing. Trader Joe's Coconut Cream stored in the refrigerator, scooped right out of the can with some frozen berries mixed in. HEAVENLY. Perfect after-dinner fix.  
  • My symptoms were lessening! Prior to this diet I had been having some tingling in my fingers. It was annoying but not really painful. More emotionally exhausting then anything. I hadn't realized that it had lessened until I went to prenatal appointment and cheated on the diet. Yup. I did it. My wonderful, incredible clients had WILDFLOUR waiting for me and so how could I resist!? That evening and the next day, I noticed the tingling was back, which made me realize it had been gone!
  • Judah, our four year old, had a strange flare up of eczema (which had been under control for quite some time).  It's gone now and hasn't come back so I'm not sure what that was all about. Also, her red yeast-like rash have improved! 

Week 3: Recap

  • Pinterest is my friend. I don't know what I was thinking but for the first two weeks I was trying to meal plan without Pinterest. Being able to put our diet restrictions in the search bar has been amazingly helpful. 
  • Will there ever be time to prep? Between packing, cleaning and working there hasn't been much time for anything else. It has been such a challenge to not just stop at Chipotle and grab takeout. 
  • Lunchtime has been redeemed by quesadillas! It seems like it is a struggle to make good quality (filling!) food until dinnertime. But this week we added in cheese-less quesadillas on Trader Joe's brown rice and quinoa tortillas. The tortilla wrap things are a bit more processed than I would like but they have minimal ingredients and are gluten free. They also crisp up SO nicely in the oven. YUM.
  • New on the menu this week: Creamy Lemon Chicken from Wholesomelicious This is seriously a delicious meal. If you aren't a mushroom lover, I would suggest cooking with them for the flavor and then taking them out at the end. This is what we do for my husband and kids and it works out just fine.

Week 4: Recap

  • Repetition continues to be hard. I have been trying to add in a new dinner meal each week, at least, but for everything else we pretty much rotate between 3 different breakfasts/snacks/lunches. I really wanted to branch out from the smoothies and banana boats for breakfast but was unsure if we could have oats and if we could, would my kids eat them without a sweetener. I ran to the Healthiest Kid's Universty forum and asked a few questions. Turns out oats are OK as long as they are definitely gluten free, as there is a risk of cross contamination.  Good for us that Trader Joe's (if you haven't already guessed with LOVE this place) has gluten free oats. So does Job Lot, for that matter.  I also asked some questions about sweeteners. Because my daughter has, what seems like, a yeast issue, I wanted to be sure that we could safely give her something without adding to the problem. Coconut Nectar was suggested-- and even though it's quite pricey, it is DIVINE.  We have officially started to have oatmeal once and awhile! 
  • We love cashews so much we ate an entire bag in one sitting. I'm pretty sure the goal here is variety, color and lots of vegetables but nuts make a great snack and perfect for on the go! With that being said, I've found that quality food takes planning right down to the snacks. When I actually map out our entire week (and stick to it!) things seem to go much smoother.
  • New on the menu this week: Sweet Potato Burritos and Chicken Pot Pie from Milk Free Mom with this Sweet As Honey's crust
  • We have officially moved and does it still make sense to go to Trader Joe's???!!  We aren't nearly as close to TJs as we used to be (insert panic). This week I was in a rush, per usual and quickly put together a shopping list and decided to check out Aldi's. AHHHHH!!! I will say that maybe I just went on a bad day or was in such a rush I couldn't spot the gems-- but after that trip, I just wanted to cry. Whole Foods is the next closest but we aren't millionaires, so I packed up and raced to Trader Joe's. Big sigh of relief. Where everybody knows my name. Not sure how we will make out without this place but I will choose to carry on and  worry about that next week ;)
@PVDdoula post of cheese-less quesadillas. Refried beans, hummus, sweet potatoes, artichoke hearts and Trader Joe's Power Greens.

@PVDdoula post of cheese-less quesadillas. Refried beans, hummus, sweet potatoes, artichoke hearts and Trader Joe's Power Greens.

Our Cheese-less Quesadillas
Serves one

(This is just one example, these quesadillas can be filled with anything)
-(1) Tortilla that meets the standards for the 4R diet
(we used Trader Joe's Brown Rice and Quinoa Tortillas)
- 2 TBS Refried or smashed black beans (make sure these do not contain nightshades)
-2 TBS Hummus of choice or mashed avocado
-(1) Handful of greens 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees fahrenheit.  
Place a tortilla on a baking sheet. 
Spread beans and other toppings of choice on either side, topping it off with the greens. 
Place open-faced in the oven for about 7 minutes or until the edges of the tortilla are brown and to desired crispiness. 
Fold in half and enjoy! 

Sweet Potato Burritos
(adapted from the amazing Two Blue Lemon's Sweet Potato Tacos recipe).

2 large sweet potatoes
Olive oil
1 can of refried beans (that do not contain nightshades).
Yellow onion
1 Lime
1 Avocado
Tortillas that meet the 4R guidelines

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
Chop sweet potatoes into small cubes.
Arrange in one layer on a baking sheet and toss with a bit of olive oil and a bit of salt. 
Bake in the oven for 30 minutes, tossing at the half way mark.
Meanwhile, chop the onion and greens. Slice the avocado and cut the lime into wedges.
Warm the refried beans on the stove top. 
Once the beans are warmed and the sweet potatoes are baked, warm the tortillas to soften over medium heat in a large enough skillet. 
Pile on the toppings, squeeze some lime, roll up and dig in.



A Little Prep (for a long elimination diet!) Goes a Long Way


A Little Prep (for a long elimination diet!) Goes a Long Way

Elimination diets aren't easy. For anyone. I know this. What I didn't realize was how hard it was going to be for me to even begin.

About 3 years ago, we started realizing that our oldest child was having some issues with her skin. At first, it seemed like her skin was "sensitive"-- whatever that means. She would react poorly to different types of soap and she had some really gnarly patches of eczema. As time went on, it seemed we couldn't figure out what her triggers were and it was rather frustrating. Have you been there? Could it be this? Oh it's definitely that! Wow, look! She seems to be clearing up!


I had about had it, and then poop really hit the fan. (Side note: What? Hit the fan?) She had been having this red burn-like rash on her bottom (different than the patches), it would come and go but when it came, it was painful! Our pediatrician assured us it was because she wasn't keeping herself clean and dry and for us to consider helping her wipe after she went to the bathroom. Could this really be the issue? Such an easy fix-- although my heart did sink a bit, as I would have to take back the happy dance I did when I realized I had finally broken free of wiping her butt!

Time went by and I just wasn't convinced.

What we were convinced of was that sugar and highly processed foods made it worse. So we avoided them. Even fruit.

Things would be good. And then the rash would come back. F.

Spring of 2014 rolled around and she got a strange bite on her neck accompanied by a very high fever about two days later. Unsure if it was Lyme or not, our new and very conservative pediatrician apologized to me profusely but said that he would like to put her on 2-3 weeks of antibiotics. I partially knew about the negative effects of antibiotics on our gut, but not to the extent I know now.

And I hate Lyme. So we went for it.

A few days into the prescription, her red rash turned purple. A few more days go by and we let her have a BITE of birthday cake and she turned into a maniac. Screaming in pain that her bottom hurt. Crying. Waking in the night... the whole thing.

What does a mother do when her baby is in pain and there is nothing she can do to help? Google. Ha. No, really. We all do it, don't we? I read and I read and I read. And I ended up...


I started to think back on her life a bit. In her 3 years of living she had antibiotics at birth, she had prophylactic meds for Malaria (for our trip to Haiti) and now another round of antibiotics right around her 3rd birthday. Was this considered a lot? Could the antibiotics be contributing to the problem?

After much prayer and thought and research and frustration, we decided to (randomly, this had not been on our radar) cut out dairy from her diet. To our surprise in 3 months her eczema was completely gone and her rash on her bottom was gone and it didn't come back!               CUE THE CLAPPING!!!!

I was finally able to REST. And she was finally able to eat a damn apple again.

She kept on me though, kept asking when we would try to figure out what was going on. The girl is persistent. So I finally did it. I set a date and I didn't budge on it.

Let me tell you. Prepping for this sucked. Meal planning for this first week had me in tears.

The 4R's stand for Remove, Replace, Reinoculate and Repair. So we planned to remove anything that could trigger inflammation, to replace with healthier choices and a digestive enzyme, to reinoculate with probiotics but then...

DANG, this was EXPENSIVE; so we decided to hold off on the repair for now.

Let's chat a minute about making a shopping list for myself, a husband, a four year old and a two year old when all of our go- to snacks were on the naughty list. And I'm not talking about candy or fruit snacks either, I'm talking about mango and bell peppers! (The top photo isn't accurate, we can't even have freaking bell peppers). Yogurt, cottage cheese... EGGS! Wh

Life was sweet. For awhile. Until she really wanted some yogurt and I really wanted to let her have some.

I wanted to get to the root of the food sensitivity.

Which is what led me to Dr. Aviva Romm's Healthiest Kids University and the Allergy Epidemic. In this course she discusses the root causes of some allergies and even auto-immune diseases and guess what one of them was? Antibiotics, yes, but more specifically, treatment using antibiotics for Group B Strep during birth.


So began our journey with Dr. Aviva's 4R program. Well, in theory anyway. Anything sounds good in theory right? I would set dates to start, and then cancel them. I would think about how to prepare and then not prepare. She and I would talk about it at length and she would get excited at the idea to eat cheese again, possibly-- but then a family party would come up or she would get invited to a friend's birthday or we could go away for the weekend and I would put it off.

Because who the heck can fit an elimination diet like this into their life? Don't get me wrong, we cook the majority of food at home anyway-- we eat well, mostly vegetarian, I pay attention to the dirty dozen, we brew our own Kombucha for goodness sakes! But what if I wanted to quickly grab Chipotle one night? Or go to a friend's home for a meal? What happens then?

It seemed impossible.

Dairy-free. Gluten-free. Sugar-free. Red-meat free. Limited fruit. No nightshades.


What the heck would we eat for breakfast, I want to know??? I can only seem to scrounge up recipes for dinner, but am at a complete loss for breakfast, lunch and snacks.

I plan on having smoothies (which take up all of our fruit choices) for breakfast almost every single morning. For 3 months. Everybody laugh along with me!! Only a crazy person would attempt this with whole family.

Hello, nice to meet you. I'm CRAZY.

When we aren't having smoothies-- well, I guess we can have bananas and almond butter.

Lunch: Rice and carrot sticks? Will my two year old eat a salad?

Snacks: Green beans.

Is that enough? Ha. I'm tired already. That's it folks. That's all I've got.

Wish me luck!