Saturday, 23 August 2008

Recovery Regimen: Enter, The Smoothie

We've been doing vitamin smoothies for a long time now.

Smoothies are great for hiding all kinds of things in. I've hidden cabbage juice in them, celery juice, carrot juice and even pureed sea vegetables.

But mostly I've used them to hide vitamins in.

At the beginning of our diet, I noticed that every time we made a mistake (which happens a fair bit to everyone for about the first year), it took about 7 to 10 days to get past it, symptomatically speaking.

I felt that we needed to set up a 'recovery regimen' for when these mistakes happened. Seven to ten days was just too long for my liking. This is where the chicken soup and epsom salt baths kicked in. The chicken soup recipe had already been developed and after reading about epsom salt baths and how they affected people with cerebral palsy, I knew it would benefit my little boy who's joints would stiffen right up, it seemed, the minute he even so much as smelled gluten.

So, about six months in to our diet, I started a therapeutic regimen of vitamins for all of us (after a LOT of research into vitamins and minerals). Now, I had already figured out that rotation was key for us, so I was pretty set against taking vitamins every day.

There were three problems:

1) I bought seven different kinds of children's vitamins, none of which contained therapeutic doses, so the children would have to take a handful to get a therapeutic dose; and there was either a disgusting amount of sugar in them (and my boy could not yet tolerate ANY refined sugar at all) or there were those fake sugars that might do funny things to your liver... And nevermind that, the children reacted negatively to ALL of them.

My husband and I found the same problem with the adult multies.

The best vitamin supplement I found was one that was in liquid form. Not only was it easier to take, but it also seemed to yield better results for each person that took it. Was it being digested better because it was ground up and dissolved in a liquid? I don't know, but in theory, it seems to make some sense. The problem was, the expense. Liquid vitamins must be the most expensive on the market.

2) getting them into everyone (if it wasn't a liquid vitamin), especially the children and

3) when we didn't take the liquid vitamins, I noticed that moods (especially in the children) and energy levels (in the adults) were not as good as they were on days that we did take them.

And so I began buying individual vitamins, sitting at the table with my calculator and charting out how many doses each pill would be for each person. For the children, the easiest thing was to make up about 24 ice cube sized popsicles out of the smoothies and they'd be set for the week.

We started out taking them every day for two weeks. Then we took a week off. At the end of that first week off, I started noticing moods swinging a bit, so we did another two weeks on, one week off.

Then because I was nervous about high zinc doses, vitamin C rebound and niacin doses affecting livers, we started taking them for 4 days and then 3 days off. Then the next week we would take them every other day. I kept altering this schedule and we seemed to hit a comfortable place where moods and energy levels were fairly static.

Eventually, we ended up requiring vitamins only twice a week. And five years later, found that we only had to take them as needed (usually due to extra stresses that may arise - a few times a year in the form, usually, of gluten contamination).

I find that I still require them about three times a week, the week before my period but the children don't seem to generally require them any longer.

And so enter, the smoothie.

Now, I don't know how many people know what B vitamins taste like but bad liver with a side of rancid fries might about cover it. No... I take that back... they're actually worse than that.

And every once in a while if I felt like someone needed a big dose of vitamin C, well, that just doomed the wonderful smoothie.

And so, I did a lot of fruit gymnastics to make an edible smoothie that the children actually enjoyed. A bit of the downfall was the expense, one that we couldn't afford, and so the children would doctor up the rejects with honey, mostly... and usually extra bananas or peanut butter.

"It's disgusting." they would say.

"Well then add something so it's not disgusting. I don't care how you get it in, just so long as you get it in." I would say.... Okay, some days I wouldn't say... I would snap... I'm only human after all and feeling, on some days a little sensitive about our tight budget and my kitchen failures.

I kept noticing that they would always go for the nut butter and the honey first. So, I began to think about how to sweeten it.

Eventually, I happened upon the frozen grape and the frozen apple. I know that during regular shelf life, they're sweet... but no where near sweet enough to cover up B vitamins in a smoothie. However, once frozen, they become amazingly, strongly, almost overpoweringly sweet.

And luckily, my son eventually came to be able to tolerate orange juice much better, and so I took out the yucky C vitamins and used concentrated orange juice (unmixed).

It sure made life a lot easier once I established which vitamins were of the most benefit to us (everyone's an individual in this respect) and then found a delicious way to get them into us.

The entire soup, bath, smoothie regimen has brought our recovery time to 2 or 3 days, as opposed to the 7 to 10 we experienced before.


Liver Damage Caused by Drugs
Zinc Overdose (this also refers back to how important your phils are)
Magnesium Overdose
Vitamin C
Vitamin C Overdose
Epsom Salt Baths as Cerebral Palsy Therapy

What made me write this all out, finally, today? We only go to restaurants about once or twice a year because even the restaurants that cater to gf diets are generally too risky for us.

But this last month, since we've been doing so phenomenally well for so long, we went to our favourite restaurant 3 times this past month (and were having issues - a pre-migraine and a depressive swing for me and whiny, whiny children) that made me say to my husband "It's like we've been glutened, only I can't figure out where."

Then, on the way home from Toronto, we stopped to have our favourite dish once again, only to be informed that they just realized our foods were being cross contaminated the oil in the deep fryer! Ughh!

I give them four stars for trying, and four stars for telling us as soon as they knew about it. Honestly my hat's off to anyone in the food industry who tries to cater to those of us in the gluten free world!

The bigger question is, when am I going to start trusting my instincts and our symptoms? Sigh.

Then we went back to

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