Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Carbs Make Me Cry

Lately I've been reading up on nutrition  in an effort to find a solution to Teenager Who Lives in the Basement's (TWLITB) health issues.  If I haven't mentioned it before,  TWLITB has Crohn's and arthritis, two inflammatory health concerns that go hand in hand.  The solutions to date have been pharmaceutical. His doctors are trying to find  the right combination that will calm both issues. The arthritis is under control but the Crohn's continues to be a problem.  It seems reasonable to assume that if  the issue is intestinal, there may be a dietary answer, which is why I've been doing all the reading.  There. Now you are all caught up on the boring back story.  We're talking about yucky intestinal stuff.  Welcome to my blog.

One of the more interesting things I've come across is the Specific Carbohydrate Diet, based on the idea that certain carbs are easily digested by the body while others help flora take over our intestines.  Flora sounds like a field of wild flowers in Hawaii, I know, but apparently it is more like Las Vegas-a little is good; a lot is bad for your health.

In addition, I've read some chapters from  Grain Brain, which claims gluten is the root of all evil and will rot your brain.   Not exactly what my mother told me, but she's not a doctor.  Then I picked up Wheat Belly, which also feels gluten is an asshole, but is more insulted by the muffin top it encourages than the brain rot issue. Both of these books claim that a gluten free diet will relieve intestinal issues and get rid of our national debt.  I'm lying about that last part.  Unless you consider sky high medical costs.  If you consider that and apply it to the national debt, there is the implication that debt would be relieved at a national level. 

Finally, I've been reading about the dreaded Nightshades.  The Nightshades sound like evil shadows from a Sci-Fi romance but are, in fact, vegetables, herbs, shrubs and trees containing alkaloids, which can affect nerve/muscle and digestive functions.  Some of the more common nightshades are eggplant, peppers, potatoes, and tomatoes.  

Needless to say,  all of these books, compared to one another, contain similarities and contradictions.  They all seem factual, well researched and, when you read them, perfectly reasonable.  They all seem worth a try. None are really in line with the good news that whole grains should be a main component of our diet according to the USDA, but then again, who can really trust the USDA after all those years of 6-11 recommended servings of breads/grains a day?  Not me.  I still resent them.

Anyway, this is why carbs make me cry. Teenage boys love a crappy carb diet more than they love SpongeBob reruns and League of Legends.  TWLITB is no exception and the idea that he needs to eat burgers without buns doesn't sit well, so there's a battle on the horizon.  A battle that, once fought, may prove fruitless after all.

(Get it?  Fruitless?  Fruits have carbs y'all!  But I'm not getting rid of fruit, don't worry.  Regardless of what the acupuncturist recommended, there will be no scurvy in the Chicken household.  Where was I?  Oh, yes, I remember.  It may be all for nothing.)  

However, TWLITB deserves a lifestyle that doesn't include a painful limp and anxiety over bathroom proximity,  not to mention a decent night's sleep. If that entails more care in our food choices around here, then the chicken family will suck it up for TWLITB.  It would just be nice if there was one clear answer. Are any of you living with inflammatory issues? Do you eat a special diet?  

Chicken out



Sunday, January 5, 2014

Vi Chronicles: Shut up Peanut

Uncle Ken was Tee's husband and CCool's father.  He didn't talk a lot unless the subject  was something that interested him.  Then he could talk the ears off a rabbit. He loved the outdoors..

Outdoor enthusiasts are typically beloved by kids because they are more adventurous than other adults. They innately understand that taking a risk and succeeding builds self-confidence, while taking a risk, failing and trying again build perseverance. Uncle Ken was no exception.  We all loved tagging along after him.

That said, there were two things you didn't do around Uncle Ken: You didn't whine and you didn't ask him a question if you weren't prepared for a truthful answer.

"Like my haircut, Uncle Ken?"

"Not particularly, Peanut."

"Oh.  o.k."

And then you'd have to walk off pretending like YOU liked your new haircut enough for the both of you.   And when I say YOU, I mean ME back in 1983.  But in the interest of full disclosure, I was an adult by then and I'm pretty sure he was busting my beans, because shag mullet hair styles are awesome.

He also was not stingy with unsolicited opinions.

I spent a lot of time at Uncle Ken's hanging out with CCool who was a year older than me. In the winter we would often go snowmobiling.  CCool had her own snowmobile, which was just one of the reasons she was so cool (she also had her own horse).  I would ride on the back of Uncle Ken's machine.  We would  be out in the woods for hours.

The woods in winter are beautiful in an almost spiritual way. They are also bloody cold.

As anyone in my family will tell you, I am not very hardy.  Being from  a cold region like Maine doesn't make you hardy.  It only ensures that you will become proficient at layering and, at some point, be involved in an unfortunate tobogganing incident, the probable cause a lack of visibility brought on by an abundance of ear muffs, scarves, hats and fur trimmed hoods.

During every ride, when I could no longer feel my extremities and my anemically thin blood had frozen en route, I would ask Uncle Ken to take me home.  "It's cold", I'd say.  "It's January, Peanut.  It's supposed to be cold", Uncle Ken would say.  "I'm hungry!", I'd continue.  "You're not gonna starve, Peanut".

"But. But......I'm COLD!!!!!"

"Shut up, Peanut".

If I wanted to hang out with Uncle Ken, I had to wear my big girl pants. I'd get to drive a ski-doo across an open field, watch a moose come down to the pond for a drink, swim past the drop off, catch a fish and shoot guns at coke cans. In return, he got to listen to me whine that I was cold, scared, couldn't swim or didn't like loud noises.  He'd smile, then tell me to shut up and do it anyway.

Clearly, I got the better end of the deal.

Uncle Ken, photo courtesy of Paula Kozinn
Chicken out