Things I have learned on my yeast-free diet…

Well… day one started with me almost blowing the diet by foraging for leftover pizza only to find it had already been consumed (it’s the first time I was glad someone got there first). Other than eating a cheesy at a kid Halloween party before remembering I wasn’t allow, I’ve been doing surprisingly well.

Things I have learned on my yeast free diet…

Grocery shopping is torture and everything I can’t eat is on sale.

  1. Even though I didn’t think I ate a lot, fruit is the thing I miss the most.
  2. Toy fruit looks really tasty when you’re not allowed to have any real fruit.
  3. Grapes can speak… loudly.  They can actually call my name from the bottom drawer of my fridge.
  4. Grapes are hard to ignore.
  5. Breakfast is the hardest meal to make on the diet.
  6. Homemade yeast-free flax bagels look a lot like cat poop. I won’t share this recipe until I have perfected it… and made it a little more edible looking.
  7. Vegan cheese doesn’t melt.
  8. Crepes made with rice milk are almost as good as the real thing… except I can’t fill them with fruit, or chocolate, or whipped cream… but they’re still good.
  9. Almond butter looks like cat puke, but it tastes good.
  10. Despite an initial murderous rage towards my naturopath, I now love her.  She says I can have coffee… in moderation.  Is three cups a day moderation?

Tomorrow I attempt yeast-free snack food.

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    The one in which she embarks on a yeast free adventure… and hopefully survives.

    I’m going into withdrawal and I haven’t even started yet.

    After months of feeling generally unwell, I braved my first trip to the naturopath.

    She is a very nice woman.  She makes a lot of sense. 

    It seems the vast majority of my symptoms over the past decade can be caused by a systematic overgrowth of yeast.

    However, the solution to my problem doesn’t have me feeling a lot of love towards this very nice doctor… I’m sure she’ll be the focus of much mislaid blame over the next six weeks. 

    It’s nothing personal but she has put me on a Candida diet, also known as the yeast-free diet.  Do you have any idea what a yeast free diet means?

    First of all, and most tragically, it means no booze.  Seriously, how am I supposed to parent without a glass of wine (or three) at the end of the day?

    It also means no cheese… now I am the woman who will happily forgo the cheesecake or chocolate mousse after dinner but roll a cheese cart past my table and I will start to drool.  I love cheese.  I dream of cheese.  Brie, Blue, Swiss, Gouda, a nice aged Cheddar, Havarti… but I don’t stop there, I love the more obscure ones like Wenslydale, Gruyere, Cambezola and my favorite… Dragon’s Breath.  Are you sensing an early withdrawal here?

    Also out are yeast (obviously), fruit, sugar, processed foods, peanuts, mushrooms, condiments, coffee, tea and smoked meats.

    This is going to suck.

    On the up side… if I don’t gnaw off my own leg from hunger, I should lose a lot of weight.

    The hard part, other than the obvious, will be feeding the family and myself.  I don’t use many processed foods but suddenly having the possibility taken from me is overwhelming.  I ordered pizza for dinner tonight, just because I could (I start the diet tomorrow – after book club and some wine).

    So, after a few glasses of wine and a feeling of dread in the pit of my stomach, I embark on a mission to a healthier me.  In general, the yeast free recipes I have found online suck so I intend to experiment and share my successes and failures.  Anyone trying to live yeast free is welcome to offer advice or just commiserate, I’m open to all takers.

    For now, I’ll go cry in my yeasty beer, while I can.

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    Cancer, clean floors and the myth that we are "okay."

    I haven’t set off on a rant about my own private high horse in a while so be prepared… this might be a long one.  I’ve been saving it up.
    A comment on a friend’s Facebook post the other day got me thinking… actually it made me sad and angry all at the same time, but I digress. 
    The friend in question had asked about buying one of those cheap plastic dry/wet mops with disposable pads and the chemical solution that sprays on the floor ready for you to mop it up.  We all know the brand I’m talking about.  My post about loving my microfibre mop that only requires water set off a discussion about vinegar and water cleaning versus the ubiquitous cleaning solutions.  One comment that became part of the discussion was ‘my mom cleaned with pine-sol and we seemed to turn out okay.’
    Now, I’m not trying to disparage the person who made that comment but I have to dispute the premise.  Sure, many or our moms used Pine-sol, but we’re not okay… and our parents are certainly not okay.
    Every day, nearly 500 people are diagnosed with cancer.  Forty-two percent of those are age 70 or older.  These are among the people who were using the stuff to keep those floors clean and smelling pine fresh.
    I’m not saying Pine-sol, or any other cleaning agent, is responsible for this growing epidemic of cancer but it is proven to be part of the problem (and it is an epidemic, the American Cancer Society says men have a one in two chance of getting cancer in their lifetime, for women it’s one in three). 

    Pine-sol and many household cleaners are the primary source of toxins called phenols.  Not only do even low exposure to these toxins cause damage to the blood vessels, heart, lungs and kidneys, they are readily absorbed through the skin.  This is what our mother’s lovingly scrubbed onto the floor and what we later crawled on.

    We may think we are fine but the health effects of these toxins, and the hundreds more to which we have been and continue to be exposed, are only just starting to be felt. Our bodies now contain more than 400 toxins that didn’t even exist 45 years ago.

    With all this information readily available, I find it surprising people still willingly use these chemicals in their homes and workplaces.

    I know not everyone has watched the terrible toll cancer can take on, not only the patient, but the family as well.  I know it is easier, and often cheaper, to think government sanctioned products are safe.  I even know how overwhelming the information about potentially toxic substances in our lives can be.
    I’m just not willing to stick my head in the sand and knowingly expose myself to substances scientists know, or even suspect, will hurt them.  If that makes me a zealot, then so be it.  I know what cancer looks like and I’ll do everything to escape experiencing it again.

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    Thanksgiving… for whining, arguments and absent husbands.

    Okay… so I’m a little late.

    Thanksgiving and the fantastic turkey (that I did not have to cook!) passed last weekend…

    but it’s okay cause I’m not as late as those mixed up Americans down south who do it six weeks late.

    Here’s my list, in no particular order, as to why I am grateful this year.

    • I’m thankful that The Husband had to take a turn yelling at the Girl today.  I’m tired of repeating myself.
    • I’m grateful that work is slow at the moment since I’ll be driving all the kids to school thanks to a looming bus strike.
    • I’m grateful The Husband has been away because now he is home (and feeling guilty so he took the kids for the whole day!).
    • I’m grateful for The Girl’s Attitude (yes, I meant it with a capital A) because showing such an unpleasant side so unconditionally means she knows we love her no matter what… even if it feels like we may not survive some days.
    • I’m grateful for this damn broken foot because it made me slow down, even when I didn’t want to (though not for lack of trying – the limp makes for a pretty funny run when I’m in a hurry).
    • I’m grateful for the 14,000 “mummies” I hear in a day.  Even if they are whining, it means they still need me.
    • I’m grateful my husband makes good wine… I think that one is self-explanatory!

    I’m thankful for all the good stuff too… it’s just easier to remember that.  So, whether it’s dirty dishes, or the unpredictable military schedule, or just not enough time in the day, I’m grateful.  It means we have food, a steady income and active and interesting lives. 

    I just need to remember that more.

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    Small Superheros… cute but do they have to have guns?

    What is with boys???

    This is the art that came home from preschool with Little Dude today.

    This is a bomb factory.

    This is the same factory but now it makes lasers.

    How am I raising such violence?  I understand it is not just me.  Part of the problem is that, in being a younger brother, he is exposed to toys and TV meants for an older audience but Big Dude went through this as well, perhaps a little less extreme.

    We do not play with guns in our house.  We watch age appropriate shows.  I am fully aware that they don’t need guns to play war.  Every piece of lego or stick within in our neighbourhood has been a ‘shooter’ (my politically correct option to gun) at some time or another.

    That said, it would be nice if those factories could make cookies or stuffed animals.

    Oh well… I wanted boys and boys I got.  I guess I’ll have to comfort myself with the thought that, with Spiderman, Batman, Superman, The Hulk and Ironman all in residence, our house is safe from villians.

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    Toxic Air: when not even my new van is safe.

    Old Not-So-Reliable (also known as my laptop) is back from the computer doctor… finally.  Hence the lag in posting of late.

    So here I am, with a (hopefully) fixed computer, a broken car and a new-to-us van that I am supposed to be able to drive…. but that’s where today’s rant comes in (and yes, it will be a rant, sorry).

    We bought the four year old van a few weeks ago.  The dealership oh-so-helpfully decided to ‘freshen’ the air in the van before we picked it up.  When The Husband brought it home, my five minute test drive resulted in a pounding headache, itchy skin and eyes so dry and itchy I wanted to scratch them out of their sockets.

    Not what I would call fresh air.

    It turns out the dealer ran a chemical cleaner through the air conditioning system.  They said the smell would dissipate within a few weeks (though now the story has changed to a few months).  Seriously… it the air is supposed to be ‘fresh’ why does it reek of chemicals?

    I have since looked up the source of the problem and discovered the product promotes itself promising “fresh, clean, healthy air.”  It goes on to claim people can avoid the breathing problems, allergies and hypersensitivities that may come from mold spores in an unclean vehicle by using their product.  The company’s solution is to saturate the vehicle, through the air conditioning system, with a chemical cleaning solution.  Yet the product’s own information sheet says prolonged exposure to skin can cause irritation and that inhalation can irritate the nose and upper respiratory tract.

    Further research showed the product in question is made with propylene glycol.  Any guesses what I found when I looked up the side effects of this particular chemical (which, by the way, can be found in shampoos, soaps, baby wipes, anti-freeze, laundry detergent, pesticide and brake and hydraulic fluids, among other things)?  This chemical can easily penetrate the skin, weaken protein and cellular structure.  The US based Environmental Protection Agency warns factory workers to avoid skin contact to prevent brain, liver and kidney abnormalities.  Chronic exposure can cause gastro-intestinal disturbances, nausea, headache and vomiting.

    Some might claim those are risks to people working directly with the chemical but I have been breathing the remnants of this solution each time I get in the van and am having many of those very reactions.  My system may be a bit more sensitive than others but does that mean it is safe for my kids and husband to breathe that same air?  I think not.

    The David Suzuki Foundation lists propylene glycol among the ‘Dirty Dozen Cosmetic Chemicals to Avoid’ and says Health Canada has flagged it as moderate human health priority and flagged it for future consideration.

    We live in a world inundated with artificial scents and unnecessary chemicals. The solution from my car dealership as to spray an air freshener inside the van.  As if adding more chemicals to the mix is going to help.  Recent reports show our cells contain more than 400 toxins that simply didn’t exists 45 years ago.

    I am still consistently surprised by what marketers and manufactures claim are safe and ‘fresh.’  No wonder we have an epidemic of cancer and allergies in the Western world.  We are polluting not only our environment and but ourselves and our children.

    For now, I’m stuck with a toxic van and little recourse.  I sincerely hope the two boxes of baking soda I spread all over the interior of the van will do something since my car is in the shop.  Next step will be to steam clean with vinegar and hot water… better a vinegar smell than toxic fumes and I certainly won’t be buying an air freshener like the ever-so-helpful salesman suggested.

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    Thank you teachers

    I just got back from Big Dude’s meet the teacher night.  All I can say is…wow.

    I feel blessed this year… but then again I felt blessed last year.  It takes a special person to not only teach children but to encourage and support them year after year.

    Big Dude’s teacher is great.  She sends weekly updates to parents and really goes the extra mile, to the point that she has recorded herself reading 50 different books in French so that anglophone parents don’t have to worry about not being able to pronouce the words correctly.

    Thank you to all you teachers out there.  We are all in your debt.

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    Back-to-school promises

    Dear Big Dude:

    You are a week into Grade One and I can’t believe the changes I’ve seen in just one year. 

    One year? Make that six years.

    Those faceless advice givers all mums meet when they are pregnant warned me it would go too fast but it is still hard to believe you are in your second year of school.

    I know many mums watch this stage with sadness and long for the baby years again but I greet these changes with excitement.  I loved your baby years but watching you learn about the world around you is amazing.  As part of the Mom Congress Back-to-School Blogathon I offer there promises:

    • I promise not to forget that change is scary no matter how big you are or how excited you’ve been.  The little boy who was so impatient for the first day of school this year is the same little boy who shook with unshed tears waiting for the bus when that day finally came.
    • I promise to provide real food for your lunch and snacks.  Fresh food that will feed your curiosity and fuel your excitement.
    • I promise to be present in your life and in your school.  Your teacher will know me and so will the ladies in the office.  I will be the one willing to stop and chat.  I will be that mom for which they are willing to go the extra mile.
    • I promise to read to you and with you.  I promise to find books that challenge and interest you.  I promise to keep reading to you even when your french immersion language skills out strip my own.  I even promise to read Pokemon to you.  If that is what gets you reading, that’s what we will read (even if I feel like it might kill me to learn about one more Pokemon).
    • I promise to talk to you.  Even when it takes days to work out the real story of what happened (your five year old brain can be a bit rough on an aging Mummy), I promise to hear your story and help you work out the solution.
    • Most of all, I promise to love you and that love will help you become an amazing and accomplished even Bigger Dude.

    Love Mummy.

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      Writer’s Block… the overwhelming idea of starting over.

      Wow.  I find myself staring at a blank screen.

      This is more than just writer’s block… this is business block.

      I’ve taken so much time away from my business to care for my mother, for my family and, in my grief, myself.  Now, as I attempt to get back to a ‘normal’ life, I feel like I’ve forgotten how.

      The business has pretty much floundered.  I’ve kept up with a few projects as the opportunities came in but any real business plan or marketing, even a regular working schedule has evaporated.

      I have said repeatedly that there is no such thing as super-mom and it is true.  All those balls just simply cannot stay in the air, and for me the biggest ball to drop was my professional life.  When you don’t have a boss looking over your shoulder, it’s easy to give into the demands on your time and schedule away your work days.

      So now, here I sit.  Blank screen, blank bank account and blank stare.

      Starting over seems overwhelming but I don’t have much of a choice.

      Writing is what I do.  I can’t imagine doing anything else.

      I’ve been ‘organizing’ my office for a week now… but the magnitude of the task of restarting what had once been a fairly successful business seems to paralyze the acyion of getting any actual work done.

      How do you get started on a big task?

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      Scheduled sanity… back-to-school relief.

      I’ve always said my kids thrive on routine: they want to know what is planned for each day, they know when to expect snack and when to expect bedtime.

      After a summer of very little routine, I have come to learn it is actually me that thrives on routine instead.

      Sure, the kids need it, but it is really me that relies on a little structure for the maintenance of my sanity.

      I was so pleased to return to my daily schedule.  In our house the schedule is the bible… with a military Daddy working odd hours, two Dudes with appointments and activities, and a teenager juggling school, babysitting, social and extra-curricular commitments and potentially now, god-help-us, a job.  It is the only way we can make it all work.  If it is not in the schedule, it does not happen… much to The Girl’s periodic frustrations.

      Some might consider my routine a little over done, I do laundry on certain days and have scheduled other household jobs as well, but the schedule helps me get it all done… and juggling five lives means there’s a lot to get done.

      Already I see the kids chafing a bit at the structure but for me it’s a relief.  For the first time in months I feel like I have a handle on everything that needs to be done… so bring on back-to-school, bring on the crazy schedule, Mama’s ready.

      I always did favour fall above the other seasons… now I know why.

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