Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Ditching the Sugar and Grain (at least for now)

Our cake and cupcake pans all have a new use...holding water on top of the radiators to help humidify the air.

I have mentioned in previous posts that we are taking a break from sugar and grains. Here is a little background info to explain why:

We have a 7 month baby girl. I was very determined to breast feed her, but it was not an easy road. We had problem after problem.* Just when things were starting to get a little bit more tolerable, white patches appeared in baby girl's mouth. It was the dreaded thrush! (For the uninitiated, it is a yeast overgrowth in the baby's mouth and it is passed between baby and the nursing mother.) We first tried some home remedies, but they didn't work, so we went to the pediatrician and started our first round of Nystatin. I cut out sugar and most starchy foods, took probiotics and ate fermented food. The thrush seemed to clear up, but as soon as we stopped the medicine it came right back. After our third round of medicine, I promised myself we weren't going to use the medicine again. There had to be another way...

Right about that time we moved to the Boston area, and I met a naturopathic nutritionist. I described our ongoing saga with thrush and asked if she had any advice. She suggested we both continue our courses of probiotics and that I go "Paleo" and cut out grains and sugars entirely. I already knew that would be a good idea, but she gave me the extra push to really commit. She also suggested that I take one tablespoon of raw apple cider vinegar before each meal (to make the system more basic and less conducive to the yeast) and to eat two tablespoons of freshly ground flax seed each day (this would help sweep out the yeast and provide a base for the good bacteria). She also approved of my plan to start giving baby girl some homemade chicken stock every day to start helping heal her digestive track (more on feeding babies in a future post). After 3 weeks on this plan, the thrush disappeared and stayed gone. This was over Christmas, so it was hard to avoid all the seasonal treats, but totally worth the sacrifice after 3 months of battling thrush.

Well, the story doesn't end there. After the thrush had been gone for a month or so, I started to slip. Sometimes I would forget to take the vinegar, probiotics or flax seed. I stayed pretty true to the food at meal time, but I started to sneak an illicit snack in the afternoons. I started a little ritual of a pastry and a decaf coffee in the late afternoon. It gave me something to look forward to, and seemed to help ground me in this new, unfamiliar landscape. It was my secret little treat. To top it all off, I devoured a box of homemade peppermint bark sent to us by NYC friends in just two days. Of course, my body was on to my secret. I started to develop dry, itchy red patches of skin at my hairline and behind my ears (I'm sure a doctor would diagnose it as either eczema or psoriasis). I have had a lifelong battle with dandruff and itchy scalp, but this was much worse. I knew the pastries had to go, and I had to become more serious about ditching the sugar and the grain. A couple of weeks back on the wagon, and the patches are gone.

I'm not exactly sure what the long term solution is. I'm still nursing and my first priority is to provide excellent nutrition to baby girl. I need to do more research into GAPS and other diets focused on eliminating candida that will not be too harsh for nursing mothers. I have read of issues with yeast die-off and the potential for toxins released into the mother's milk with some diets.

Have you had experiences with thrush or yeast overgrowth? How did you deal with it? Have you been pleased with the results?

*If you are a new mom, and having trouble nursing please feel free to contact me. I am not an official expert, but have felt your pain and can commiserate and offer our experiences. Although, when I was having trouble nursing, I was not reading food blogs because I was consumed with looking for solutions to my breastfeeding issues in books and on-line, so I'm not expecting my inbox to start overflowing with breastfeeding related messages. Just in case, I found Mothering and La Leche League to be helpful.

This post is part of Fight Back Friday at Food Renegade and Monday Mania at Healthy Home Economis.


Laura said...

Wow! I never knew thrush could be so problematic. Good for you for making all these changes to keep up with breastfeeding your little girl! We weened at 7 months - my supply never got up to par, and my job was making it really hard to pump 3x daily for the little bit that I was making. Charlie didn't seem to mind all that much, until last week (three months after weening) when he was sick and clearly rooting for comfort. Poor guy. I felt awful.

I also experienced crazy skin issues post-pregnancy and during breastfeeding. I actually broke out in hives for nearly a month at around the time when we make that hormonal shift back into non-pregnancy mode. It was horrible. Just had to wait it out.

So I feel your pain, but I'm secretly glad that my blog twin is making this diet change at the same time I am. It'll be fun to see what you make for dinner!

City Share said...

I think thrush isn't too big of a problem for most people. Our ailments just seem to be as stubborn as we are. ;)

I am looking forward to seeing what you make for dinner too.

Happy cooking!

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