I have begun writing this post several times over the last few days, but I keep starting over because it just gets too long and unwieldy. I've been thinking a lot lately about making some changes to our family's diet. I'm not talking about low-carbing to lose weight or anything like that (though I would like to know how it is that I've been following the Couch-to-5K program for the last six weeks and just ran nearly 2 miles straight yesterday and have yet to drop an ounce). No, what I'm looking for is a healthier way to eat, that will improve all of our immune systems and help Natasha overcome her eczema. We've been fighting with it for two years now, and I know there has to be a better way.
I've done a lot of reading, and to be honest, it's completely overwhelming. We have decided to try the Feingold diet, which, while generally recommended for ADHD, is also supposed to be effective against eczema. It's a two-pronged approach. The first part involves cutting out all artificial colors, flavors, sweeteners, and most preservatives.
I thought that part would be easy - I cook mostly from scratch - or so I used to tell myself - and try to avoid junk. But a quick sweep through our cabinets found quite a bit more yellow No. 5 and artificial flavor than I would have predicted was in there. Goodbye, Honeymaid graham crackers. Goodbye, cookie sprinkles. Goodbye, candy melts.
Part 2 involves eliminating salicylates, which is are naturally occurring food chemicals, from the diet. Apparently, many of N's favorite foods - apples, grapes, berries, raisins, cucumbers, and more - are chock-full of salicylates. We have already noticed that she has allergies/intolerances to foods like tomatoes and oranges, and now I know that they are also high-salicylate. I am a little skeptical of a diet plan that just eliminates certain fruits and vegetables, but I am just sick of seeing my toddler scratch herself to bloody pieces. It's worth a try, anyway.
As I am shifting my family over to this diet, I have realized that I do rely on freezer items for meals once or twice per week. Many of these items are not compatible with our new diet. Like vareniki - which are little Ukrainian raviolis stuffed with potato or cabbage. So this weekend, I spent hours making over 100 vareniki. This batch is potato-pumpkin-thyme.
And in my reading, I have come across ideas from other diets that make sense to me. Mostly that everything we are used to buying prepackaged from the grocery store - like bread and cheese and yogurt and sauerkraut - is much better for you if you make it yourself. So yesterday I started a jar of sauerkraut. It needs to ferment in there for awhile, so I am not sure when we will actually eat it. But here it is, in its infancy:
I've also got a bag of sourdough starter that someone gave me last week. Sourdough - real sourdough - is supposedly a lot better for you than quick-rise yeast bread, because the bacteria in the starter breaks down the hard-to-digest stuff before you even put it in your mouth. I think I'm getting that explanation right, but I've a lot of reading yet to do on the subject. Anyway, this starter was given to me along with a recipe for Amish Friendship Bread. The recipe calls for a box of instant pudding, which would have turned me off even before I started doing all this reading. So I'm going to try to use the starter to make a real bread that doesn't have artificial flavors and carnuba wax, whatever that is, in it.