The Great Cookie Rebellion

cakesI have a sweet tooth. I love cake and cookies and pies and tarts and squares. I absolutely love dessert. And I love sitting down in the afternoon with a cup of tea and something sweet. For me, it is a daily ritual that delights, comforts and relaxes.

In the ‘old days’ I was known for my banana bread, oatmeal squares, brownies, and chocolate chip cookies. When I gave up gluten and dairy almost four years ago, I wasn’t brave enough to attempt GFCF baking so I tried the store-bought options which, quite frankly, were lousy. They were bland, full of refined sugar and loaded with things like corn starch, potato starch and various other chemicals I couldn’t even pronounce.

Life changed dramatically when raw desserts entered into the picture. I fell in love with using avocados, coconut oil, cashews, almonds, raw cocao, lemons, limes and coconut nectar to delight and satisfy my sweet tooth. And, as an added bonus, the ingredients were natural and healthy and aligned with my desire to take exquisitely good care of my body. And, on days when I didn’t have a raw creation waiting in the fridge, there was always a square (or five) of dark chocolate.

Over the course of the past six months I have been working very hard with my Naturopath to get my health back on track. I figure if I want to be heli-skiing at ninety years of age I had better get my ducks in a row now. I have been so dedicated to this healing process that I have been game for absolutely anything my Naturopath has suggested. And so, over the past few months, I have given up some of my favourite foods; eggs, dark chocolate, maple syrup, honey, potatoes, corn, and all grains.

And all the while, my consolation was that I could always satisfy my sweet tooth with a delicious raw dessert creation.

Last Saturday, all that came crashing down around my ears during an appointment with my Naturopath. She had done a great deal of research on my case over the holidays and had diagnosed me with high Oxylates. She does not know why, but for some reason my body is not able to detoxify Oxylates and they are wreaking havoc in my body.

And the solution? To go on a low Oxylate diet.

Well sure’, I agreed readily. ‘And what does that mean?’  What it means is that most of the staples of my diet are gone; spinach, almonds, cashews, walnuts, cocoa, beets, celery, Swiss chard, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, berries, lemon zest, lime zest, macadamia nuts, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, lentils, chick peas, carrots, and squash.

Bummer!

dipaolo-dan-i-need-cupcakesI was so disheartened by the time I left that appointment it was all I could do not to cry. All this time I thought I had been treating my body so well and really I was just making my condition worse and worse. The discouragement was so acute I thought; ‘well, f*** this, if eating healthy isn’t even good for me then why bother! I need cupcakes!’ And so, I stopped at Kelly’s Bake Shoppe in Burlington on the way home and came away with half a dozen gourmet GFCF cupcakes and a massive Snickerdoodle cookie to eat on the way home in the car.

And that was the beginning of the Great Cookie Rebellion. After polishing off all the cupcakes within two days, I went out and stocked up on crappy store-bought GFCF cookies. And all week I have been indulging whenever I feel like it. And not just at tea time in the afternoon either. I have been eating cookies after breakfast.

I didn’t just fall off the healthy eating wagon, I leaped off at full-speed and indulged in a good old pity-party.

When I awakened this morning I decided that the Great Cookie Rebellion needed to come to an end. I had had my pity-party and it was time to get a grip. And so, by tea time this afternoon I had the house full of the delicious smell of a home-baked GFCF Pumpkin Loaf made with the healthy ingredients that are more in keeping with the way I customarily choose to care for my body.

The Pumpkin Loaf was met with resounding enthusiasm by my family and tastes decadently good with a cup of Vanilla Rooibos tea. The Great Cookie Rebellion is now officially over and I am back on track. I guess, even when we’re 45-years-old, the inner 2-year-old sometimes needs to let loose and stomp her feet for a while!fit-temper-tantrum-cartoon

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A Bigger Towel

ItchWell, I thought that Throwing in the Towel two days ago would be enough. Apparently, it wasn’t. And even my highly celebrated 50mg dose of Prednisone hasn’t put a dent in my misery. I am still covered with the itchiest and most painful eczema I have ever experienced. To add insult to injury, I am not sleeping more than an hour at a time because I wake myself up scratching like a madwoman. And, truly, I am tired of starting my days at 3:00am.

I have had yet another doctor’s appointment and a phone consultation with my Naturopath. I am now loaded up with pharmaceutical and natural remedies and all I can say is that I really need to ring in the New Year on the back-end of this f***ing flare. I know that on the scale of global importance, my month-long eczema flare does not crack the top one million. However, in my little glass-half-full corner of the world, I am sure struggling.

I don’t know about you…but I’m tired of this topic!

Fingers crossed for better news tomorrow.

O…M…G…!

I am perilously close to losing my mind and it has very little to do with the fact that Christmas is the day after tomorrow.

The massive flare of hives that has been plaguing me for the past two weeks is getting worse by the day. It started on my legs and is now all over my upper body. The hives are desperately itchy, painful and burn like acid on my skin. I am so itchy twenty-four hours a day I feel like I am going to go off the deep end. It is all I can think about and the only thing that gives me relief is holding a cold pack right onto my skin. Truly, if I could live in a freezer right now, I would be the happiest kid on the block.

Simon is going into his second week of pneumonia and is not really showing any signs of bouncing back. He is sneezing, coughing and feeling absolutely miserable. So, at this tricky and demanding season, I am single parenting. I am doing all the Christmas prep, the grocery shopping, cooking, laundry and cleaning.OMG

And, while I am doing it all, I am so itchy I want to scream, or cry, or both.

Fortunately, I had an appointment booked to see my fabulous and brilliant Naturopath, Dr. Carissa Doherty, this afternoon. As I was driving to her office in Burlington I hoped fervently that she would take one look at my skin and say…”OMG”.

Well, she took one look at my skin and said; “OMG”. And all I could think was; ‘thank goodness’.

After a lengthy and fascinating consult with her sister, Sonya, (who treats my kids), we had a plan. And, honestly, just knowing that both Carissa and Sonya were worried about me, and that there was a plan, I started to feel better.

Sometimes we moms just need someone to nurture us. Someone to understand what we are going through. Someone to pass a Kleenex when we cry. Someone to hug us and say; ‘it’s going to get better.’

And sometimes we even need someone to say…’OMG’!

A Gentle Voice

Two weeks ago I arrived home after a fairly discouraging and slightly alarming appointment with my Naturopath. After a decade of relentless and unavoidable family stress (the details of which are captured in my blog, Open Secret) it seemed that my body was just refusing to push any more. Adrenal exhaustion is one of the ways that my body is saying ‘no more.’ The result of the Koenisburg Adrenal Test two weeks ago was basically…‘go home to bed.’ I have three sons, a business to run and a household to maintain…going home to bed is just not an option!toon704

My husband, however, had a different opinion on the whole thing. He looked at my test results and said; ‘alright Kate, look at your calendar, look at mine and book a week off. Go to a spa, a hotel, a resort, up north…anything. Just take a week off.’

And so, with very little resistance, I did.

At 2:30 this afternoon, after shopping for all the provisions I would need, I packed the car and took off for my parents’ weekend retreat just outside of Collingwood, Ontario. It is just after 7:00pm and I am settled comfortably by the fire with a glass of red wine and my laptop. There is nobody else here and I will be the sole occupant of this lovely spot for six whole days!

Six days…by myself! One day by myself is a treat…I get six of them!

When I left home for the three hour drive, I had the radio blaring with Christmas music, advertisements, traffic reports and weather forecasts. I was singing along to the familiar and wonderfully nostalgic seasonal music when I realized that my heart was racing and that my shoulders were up around my ears. Even though I was enjoying the music, it was quite simply too much stimulation and too much stress.

After releasing myself from the frantic entertainment, my little car felt empty and lonely somehow. I found myself wanting to fill the space with noise. It’s ironic that when I am living my daily life I ache for solitude and quiet, and yet, when the opportunity presents itself, I feel decidedly uncomfortable with the void of silence. As I drove north and it got beautifully wintery-looking, I kept reaching for the radio and it took everything I had to resist the temptation.

What I realized as I travelled in complete silence was that I have an opportunity this week to tune in to a different voice; a gentle voice, a female voice, a quiet voice. A voice that, perhaps, I don’t know that well. My everyday voice is loud and often militant. It is about to-dos, moving from one place to the next, time crunches, and things to be accomplished.

Stretching so delicately ahead of me is a soft week to get to know my own gentle voice.zen_stones

I have never been alone for this long. I have never had a week with no plans. And the fact that the weather is cold and damp means that, other than a daily walk, I won’t feel the need to explore, shop, exercise or fill my time moving from place to place. There is something about this place that just invites me to settle in.

My plan is to curl up by the fire, write, read, watch movies, eat wholesome food and unwind. And, who knows, maybe I will really come to know and like the gentle voice that spends so much of her time being drowned out by her full, happy and wonderfully male-dominated life.

A Radical Act of Health

Three and a half years ago I made the choice to stop eating gluten and dairy. At the time it felt like the ultimate sacrifice. Each and every one of my comfort foods and favourites fell into those two categories. Fortunately, I saw a dramatic improvement in many of my chronic health issues so it got easier to stick to my resolve. And now, even if I were to ‘cheat’ I would end up feeling so sick it wouldn’t be worth it.

I have spent the past three and a half years congratulating myself on my supreme commitment to my health. I have spent all this time feeling as if I had undertaken the ultimate Radical Act of health. And I admit that I have indulged in a great deal of self-congratulation. I thought that my impressive sacrifice meant that I would enjoy impeccable health and would coast on my good choices as I moved into middle age.

For months, however, my body has been telling me otherwise. Even without indulging in gluten and dairy I have slipped into a health pattern that does not feel optimal. I am chronically tired, my heart races for no reason and my eczema is at an all-time high. I have chosen to ignore the gradual increase of these symptoms because, quite frankly, I had already made the Radical Act of health. Surely I didn’t need to do more.

I was mistaken.

A whole battery of tests with my naturopath, Dr. Carissa Doherty, has revealed significant gaps in my health; insulin resistance, high yeast, flattened adrenals, low serotonin, inflammation in my gut and chronic fatigue.

How can this be? I go to bed early, I don’t drink more than couple of glasses of wine a week, I don’t drink caffeine, I exercise, I eat well and don’t consume refined sugar. I love my work, my kids are all at stages of relatively easy independence and my emotional outlook is optimistic and sunny.

What am I doing wrong?

For those of you who know me well and/or followed my last blog, Open Secret, you will know that I went through years of relentless family stress. I pushed through my daily life on sheer willpower and was eventually instrumental in helping to shift the wellness of my middle son, Michael. We had our happy ‘ending’ and while Michael continues to live his new story my family system is blissfully stable.

I thought the old story was behind us. My body, however, is still catching up. My body is still carrying years of sleep deprivation, high cortisol, maximum adrenalin and intense struggle.

When I got my test results from Dr. Doherty two weeks ago it struck me that I was at a crossroads. I had two very distinct choices; I could choose to settle back into the reality of a battle-weary body or I could choose to claim the audacious health that will have me heli-skiing at 90 years of age.

Needless to say, I choose the latter.

It turns out that my Radical Act of health all those years ago was just the first step of my health journey. I am excited to track and share the next steps through this blog over the coming year. My goal by the end of this Radical year is to be a 46-year-old woman with a kick-ass heli-skiing body.

Stay tuned…I know I am!