Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Giving up the glutens and moo juice

Between my husband's family history of celiac disease, and my family history of trouble with dairy, I have found myself in the proverbial space existing between a rock and a hard place. I need to do what is best for my family, but nobody wants to go gluten-free or dairy-free. We love our breads and cheeses. What's an incompetent hausfrau to do?

DH was making fun of me last night because of my "fear" of foods. I'm not afraid of them. I dislike what they do to my family. His mother died from colon cancer, and his aunt has full-blown celiac disease. She was symptom-free and they didn't discover it until she had an endoscopy after her sister's death. DH has tested positive for both an elevated antibody and a gene marker for celiac. I dislike the tummy aches my kids and I get and the fact that if they get dairy products on their skin, they get a bright red patch for quite a while. It doesn't hurt them, but it's a big red flag that our dairy problems stem from more than lactose intolerance.

This whole situation is vexing. I'm currently looking at steering our family towards a paleo/primal diet, but more aligned with how humans ate just before the agricultural revolution. It would solve the gluten and dairy issues, and it's still aligned with my preference for whole foods. I think I'll shoot for a "most of the time" approach. That way we can still enjoy the occasional baked goods and popcorn. MMMmmm. Popcorn.

It's all very confusing. Where and when did we cross the line between good for us and bad for us? Surely, we've been gathering grains and legumes for about as long as we've been gathering and foraging. That's what, only several hundred thousands of years? Furthermore, hunter-gatherers have different diets depending upon geographical location. This is where I'm having trouble with the whole "paleo diet." They eliminate all grains and legumes and potatoes. Really? But mad quantities of coconut oil is natural?

The paleo diet, as it is practiced by modern people (that concept makes me giggle) claims that because agriculture made certain foods prevalent, they are unnatural and not good for us. I think this is false. People wouldn't have gone to the trouble of trying for thousands of years to propagate a food item if it wasn't one that they already loved and gathered from the wild. Maybe we don't need eight servings of grains a day, but to claim they are an unnatural part of our diet seems fallacious to me.

Manoomin, also known as wild rice, native to North America.
Mostly, we are healthy eating from the modern palette, with just minor reactions to wheat and dairy that we need to deal with. I guess I just have to work from there. I'm fully aware that what is minor today can become acute down the road. Incidentally, my husband's doctor is of the all-or-nothing sort that can only see the bell curve and seemed to lean toward making no dietary changes until he has celiac disease. Really? Isn't that akin to saying, go ahead and smoke until you get emphesima or lung cancer? But I digress, my mission is to find recipes that are whole foods, gluten-free, dairy-free, economical, practical to prepare, balanced, and most of all tasty.

Great. I'm inventing my own diet. No. That's not true. I am going to try to replicate an ancient one based on solid anthropological and scientific evidence. We'll feed and fuel our bodies appropriately, but will have wiggle room for treats. I'll search for harmonious agreement between what modern nutritionist hale as perfect, what historical evidence reveals was good enough to keep our species fit enough to survive, and what we actually want to eat to not feel deprived. I'll get started just as soon as I stop laughing at how sanctimonious I sound.

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