Archives For April 2013

Living Like Cavegirls

April 16, 2013 — 1 Comment

I used to be vegan and now we’re trying the paleo lifestyle.

Yup, I went from eating a plant-based diet and trying to avoid anything made from animals (clothing, body products, etc.) to eating meat. And eggs. And bacon.

Crispy, greasy bacon. Yum… bacon…. wait, where was I?

How can I live with these conflicting feelings of ethics? It’s simple, let me explain…

Human beings have always eaten meat. Not every culture or religion on the Earth, but most of them. In the past, the animals were respected, and it was not an ugly industry that is damaging the planet.

In fact, in many cultures hunting was a big deal full of ceremony which including thanking the animal for their sacrifice. Being a hunter was respected for you fed the tribe or clan.

Now, of course when an animal is killed it’s probably not a fun thing for that animal. I mean, duh, right?

But the thing is that animals do eat other animals. This is not something new or surprising. No one judges a lion for eating other animals because, well, that’s what they’re supposed to do. I mean, they’re animals after all.

Well, humans are animals too.

The idea that we don’t need meat to survive is true – we don’t. There are varying degrees of scientific data that support both a plant-based diet as well as diets that includes certain types of meat.

To me, this means that the truth is that people can be healthy without eating animal products just as they can be healthy eating animal products. However, people can also be unhealthy doing both things depending on the way in which it’s done.

There are tons of “junk food vegans” or vegetarians who eat nothing but crap and vice versa.

The reality is that it’s about more than just the ethics of eating meat. It’s just not that cut and dry or easy.

So, what about the evils of factory farming? That shit is real. Factory farming is ugly. It’s evil. It’s cruel. It’s screwing up the environment.

It’s wrong.

And so are many other things that are wrong with the world like not recycling, driving gas guzzling cars, paying more for war than education and the list goes on and on. Human beings do a lot of fucked up shit.

And I don’t say that to assuage my guilt or justify eating meat. It’s just a fact. People do fucked up shit.

So, how do I reconcile all these conflicting feelings? Basically, I try to do the least harm I can while still being honest about my (and my family’s) health and emotional needs.

And it comes down to this:

I have a kid with autoimmune issues that no one has been able to fix. No doctors or specialist, no pills, no steroids, no vegan diet, no supplements, no three times a week light treatments, no nothing.

Nothing, to date, has healed my child or even made her symptoms less pronounced. In fact, with time and everyone using her as an experiment she’s only gotten worse.

Do you know what it’s like to watch your child suffer and not be able to fix them?

It sucks.

There is clearly a connection between the food she eats and her condition though the Western doctors aren’t big on admitting it. In fact, it took me literally years to get a doctor to say that “maybe” her symptoms were related to what she eats.

We tried a mostly g/f diet and that didn’t work. Vegan diet didn’t work. We eat healthy food in general so that’s a non issue. So what then?

Enter the paleolithic diet. The cliff notes version of this diet/lifestyle is that you eat good meat, healthy fats, fruits, veggies and nuts (assuming you don’t have an allergy) and avoid all grains, legumes, gluten, sugar and processed foods.

There is debate in the paleo community about what types of dairy one can eat. Some eat dairy, some don’t.

There are many paleo folks who have cured autoimmune disorders by following this diet. There is a lot of information that suggests that our bodies are not meant to eat the foods to avoid, or at least some individuals cannot process these things well if at all.

So, when we tried the vegan thing we may have been doing more harm to her than good.

(Sorry, vegans, it doesn’t cure everything for everyone. No hard feelings, okay?)

And the reality is that for someone who can’t eat nuts, and a host of other very real and potential life-threatening food allergies, there is no way my child can follow a plant-based diet and get everything she needs if she is avoiding legumes (the primary protein source in plant-based diets) and grains.

And anyone who has an issue with my belief that’s true can go and suck it.

Well, just because she’s paleo doesn’t mean I have to do it too, right?

No, it doesn’t  But, it does make it easier for her and everyone else. It was hard enough cooking vegan and regular dinner. Can you imagine trying to plan, prepare and grocery shop for three very different diets? That would be insane!

Not to mention the effort to make sure that everyone is getting all the nutrition they need. I had a hard enough time managing that when I was the only vegan.

It has been interesting to adjusting to a new style of eating and going back to eating the meat of something that was living but no longer is. To be honest, touching dead meat still gives them the heebie-jeebies but I do it.

In the short amount of time we’ve been experimenting with this lifestyle I’ve noted that Macaroni has decreased symptoms, seems less teary, and overall happier.

She is really enjoying her food more and I imagine that’s because her body feels good.

Stari is also doing it with us and Ladybug does a hybrid version since there’s no way A. is going to give up his grits, white rice, white sugar and hot links, though my goal is to eventually transition Ladybug to being fully paleo.

There are many in the vegan community who would wish a pox on me for this transition and make judgments and to anyone who judges someone for what they eat I mean, wow, get a life.

Nutrition and our bodies are so complicated and I’m just stumbling along blindly trying to figure out what works for us.

If it were your kid, you would do the same.

So, expect to hear updates about paleo stuff. Expect to see pictures of food. And, most importantly, keep your fingers crossed for us that this change will help heal Macaroni once and for all.

Here are links to just a few stories from parents with kids who went paleo or gluten-free and were healed or are improved from medical conditions:

The Benefits of Paleo for Our Family

The Gluten Made Her Do It

Paleo Diet & Autoimmune Diseases

Healing the Skin from Within – Paleo, Gut Health & Eczema

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Saturday night A., my friend Pam and I were hanging out. A. got up to leave to visit a friend. He held something in his hands.

Ladybug walked on her fat baby legs and stood before her daddy. She put her hands up towards what he held in his hands and proclaimed, “Mine!”

We all sat (or in the case of A. stood) with baited breath all waiting for a sign that she really said it and it wasn’t just a coincidence. And then she said it again. “Mine, mine, mine.”

She said it a few more times to make sure that we understood that she was speaking.

“That’s not yours,” her daddy told her. She put her hands back up, as if to ask if he was sure and said, “mine” again but this time it was more like a question.

“No, that’s not yours,” he replied. The matter was settled.

Although Ladybug is my third child, it still never ceases to amaze me how quickly little ones learn the word “mine.”

Ladybug spent the rest of the night informing everyone that would listen that everything was hers. Of course, there are different versions of “mine.”

There is the “mine” as in, “in case you’re thinking of playing with that I just want to let you know that’s my toy.”

There is “mine” which means “I would like whatever you have to be mine, so please give it to me.”

And the “mine” said in a tone that clearly indicates “if that’s not already mine someone better make it mine and fast!”

Everyday since Saturday night Ladybug has been letting everyone in the world know that everything is hers. Her sister’s lunchbox = “mine”. Her brother’s headphones = “mine”. Mommy’s cell phone = mine.

See, there’s a whole world out there and everything is hers, or it should be.

It’s so cute and socially acceptable for a young child to feel like everything is (or should be) theirs, but it’s a completely unattractive feature on an adult. Or even an older child.

From a young age we’re taught “sharing is caring” and, in many cultures it’s morally reprehensible (or at least a total social faux pas) to want to have something that is “mine” and yet every child I have ever known is strongly attached to the idea of “mine.”

In fact, this notion of “mine” may be ingrained in our  very DNA or the essence that makes us human beings. And on the flip-side the notion of “mine” can also be the great demise of the human spirit as we cling so tightly to what is “mine” that we sometimes forget the rest of the world deserves to have things too.

Scientist Richard Dawkins said “Let us try to teach generosity and altruism, because we are born selfish.”

It’s a tough balancing act.  On one hand, it’s important for all of us to understand at a very early age that, like rapper Nas tells us, “The world is yours!”

At the same time, we don’t want to raise children who as so rooted in the belief that everything is theirs that they lack the ability to be generous and to understand that there is a time and a place when it’s okay to be selfish.

Just as there is a time and a place to be giving.

Michael Jordon said, “To be successful you have to be selfish, or else you never achieve. And once you get to your highest level, then you have to be unselfish.”

As a parent, to me this means that I must teach my children that they should put themselves first in many matters that, well, matter. If Macaroni really wants the part in the play and so does her BFF, it’s okay for Macaroni to do her absolute best even if that means that, for example, she decides it would be better to rehearse her lines alone rather than with her BFF.

It’s okay for her to think, “That part is mine” because if she doesn’t feel that it’s hers how will she put the effort into getting it?

But when she has that part, she has a duty to be gracious and helpful to the other children who didn’t get parts in the play.

I hope to teach my children that there is a place and time in which you sacrifice your own wants for the needs of others. This is usually for material things, things which in the whole scheme of life don’t matter much.

Sometimes you give your little sister the last cookie even if it’s rightfully yours. You do this because sometimes it’s not worth the fight, and karma will pay you back in ten times the amount of cookies.

And there is a time when you stomp your foot, put your hands up and demand in a loud voice “mine!” The lesson is to learn the appropriate time for each.

Macaroni has a sweet personality. She is on the shyer side and often wants to please. Her severe eczema has, at times, made her the target for mean kids who lack empathy. In seeking approval from her peers, this means that sometimes Macaroni says yes when she really means no.

It means that sometimes when someone tell hers “mine” and it’s really hers she will let them take it without a fight. I have watched her face at the playground when she has patiently waited in line and another kids jumps in front of her.

I have watched her knowing she’s upset and doesn’t want to give up her turn but, for whatever reason(s), doesn’t say anything. In times like that the idea of “mine” is perfectly appropriate.

On the flip-side Ladybug is the one pushing other kids out of the way to get on the slide chanting “mine,” as she forces her tiny body in front of theirs, and I have to tell her, “No, Ladybug, it’s not your turn yet. You have to wait until it’s your turn.”

“Mine.”

With Macaroni, I am working on teaching her again what Ladybug is beginning to master, and what Macaroni knew when she was a wee thing, which is that the idea of “mine” has its appropriate place and time.

While with Ladybug I’m working on teaching her the concept of sharing without loosing the idea that in her world everything really is/can be hers.

The idea that “sharing is caring” can be over-rated. The idea that being selfish is bad can be over-rated. Sometimes the most unselfish thing a person can do is to be selfish.

(And, yes, I realize that’s a complete paradox.)

But selfish people suck. No one wants to be around (or with) someone who is only always about themselves. Many of the world’s problems, if not all of them, are caused by selfish people who haven’t learned how to balance the concept of “mine” with what is right.

We are born mastering the concept of mine, it’s the other part that most people need to work on.

I’m still a parenting work in progress. Each child is different and unique with the one thing they have in common being their innate idea of “mine.”

As a mom it’s my duty to teach my children that the world really is theirs, but While the world is (and should be) theirs – it also belongs to others.

How do you teach concepts of sharing and when it’s okay to be selfish to your children?