Anyone will tell you, making major lifestyle changes can be overwhelming at best. So when you are trying to implement sustainable dietary change for your whole family, who all have years of ingrained habits, it is no easy feat. How do I know? Because I would consider myself an accidental expert in change implementation on many fronts. More specifically, we have evolved our diet significantly with many drastic changes over the past six years.
Two years ago our whole family went on a radical dietary change to support my eldest son Matthew who, for health reasons, needed to try a gluten, dairy, soy, refined sugar and processed food free lifestyle. We needed to drastically reduce the inflammation levels in his body and it was an overwhelming success. At the time, Matthew had been taken off a strong medication to try and control the inflammation and the autoimmune reaction his body was having due to a pathogen called Aspergillus. This is commonly known in CF circles as ABPA (allergic broncho pulmonary aspergillosis). Matthew suffered a severe reaction to a medication called Methylprednisolone (a powerful steroid to reduce inflammation) and it was deemed that this was no longer a viable option for him. At this stage, something had to give and so I turned to complimentary medicine with the blessing of Matthew’s doctor and supervision of the hospital dieticians.
To say it was difficult wouldn’t really even start to explain those first days. I look back and wish I had have known what I do now. It didn’t need to be as hard as it was and there were many things I could have done to make it a whole lot easier. I was desperate to do everything right, dot all the “i’s” and cross all the “t’s” as you do. I was desperate to get my boy well. For the 8 months we were free from gluten, dairy, soy, refined sugar and processed foods. There was an occasional treat, but we were pretty strict. My son’s health improved dramatically. There were significant positives that came from the process. Unfortunately, the medical team at the time still suggested it was a coincidence but said “keep doing what you are doing”!
After the 8 months, from December 2014 we traveled for 8 weeks in country SA and then Tasmania in a motorhome where we had little access to proper cooking and storage facilities. We simply didn’t have the ability to continue the regime strictly. This continued and complacency set in as Matthew’s health continued to be pretty good. We had planned another long term trip traveling through the north of Australia but the medical team wanted to give Matthew a “tune up” before we left just to be sure. One week into the tune up Matthew’s lung function plummeted 15%. This ended up being a 3 week admission with no improvement to his numbers.
We commenced our trip through the eastern states up to Cairns and back again over 10 weeks. Living on the road is amazing, but something you need to do with great consideration and planning in order to do it well. Needless to say the culmination of the hospital admission and our trip coupled with moving home, new business ventures and life getting in the way, we just haven’t gone back to the gluten and dairy free lifestyle.
It is just over 12 months since the above mentioned admission and there has been no real improvement in Matthew’s lung health. He has developed in other areas with significant improvement in his growth, which has been a welcome improvement. When I look back, I know the deliberate measures we took were directly responsible for the improvement in Matthew’s lung health and the reduction in his inflammation. The medical team now feels it is important to look at using prednisolone or methylprednisolone again.
First though, they have shown their support in us trying this diet/lifestyle again. That’s right! We have the full attention and support of the medical team! This could be significant, not just for us but for many others faced with the same or similar set of circumstances. I will track everything and we will do it for three months to start with.
As we enter this phase of change, I feel a whole lot more relaxed and prepared. I know in my heart of hearts, that this is likely to be successful and the initial 3 months will move onto a long term new lifestyle for us. I also know that this will still be difficult. We will have our good and our bad days and I know full well I will be faced with resistance from two young teenage boys who think “gluten free sucks” and that anything gluten free is “disgusting”. This attitude is particularly strong from my youngest son who is not interested in eating at school and when he does want to eat he likes the ease of bread and milk.
However, as I type this I have just had my two boys polish off a whole Apple Crumble that I made. It was a success. I didn’t mention it was gluten free. Was that necessary? No! One of the things that both boys adore is apple pie. I figure if I can do a range of swaps for similar foods they like and involve them in the process, everything will be easier with greater engagement.
I am going to blog our journey in the hope that I can help people like you, who are considering a lifestyle change too. This isn’t for everyone. I am not advocating that you or anyone else should go gluten and dairy free. What I would suggest however is to do your own research. If you just don’t feel good, have tummy pains, digestive discomfort, joint pain, headaches, hormonal issues, skin problems and more then it could certainly help improve your symptoms. We are under the care of an amazing Naturopath and health expert Jessica Donovan from Energetic Mama. It is always advisable that you too seek professional help with this type of change, especially if you are dealing with a chronic health issue.
You can find out my top 5 tips for “Fuss Free Gluten and Dairy Free” here!
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