It's hard for me to believe James has been grain-free for three years!
Most of the first two years were in Congo. People here in the US often wonder, "How could you do such a limited diet in rural Africa?" But I found the farmer's market (huge likelihood that produce was organic), local grass-fed beef and help in the kitchen truly a blessing. I think the abundance of options is a bit overwhelming here in our world of Whole Foods, co-ops, online orders, etc. Farmers and butchers are few and far between - at least in cities! When I first entered my trusty old friend of a grocery store to realize there were maybe 3 items edible for James - it almost made me panic. I had been looking forward to clean long aisles full of food options, (pushing a shopping cart!), but this heavenly experience was soiled by the realization that there weren't 'food options' in the average grocery store anymore.
Taking our family on the road also provided challenges. Gas-station snacks? Not really. Fast food? Nope. We found a high end steakhouse for a fancy family meal. I called their chef ahead of time. Do you have any grass-fed beef? Nope. Any pastured or organic chicken? Nope. Wild-caught seafood? Nope. So you don't have any meat whatsoever that has not been fed corn & soy? Nope. What oil do you fry in? Soybean oil. ARGH! To their enormous credit, they were willing to let us bring in a raw grass-fed steak from Whole Foods and prepare it special in 100% butter for the special meal. Food is just way more processed and commercial than I ever imagined. It slightly helps that so many others are dealing with allergies too.
James is doing amazing. He grew an inch last week! His feet are officially bigger than mine. This year I have kept him full GAPS and added more dairy and he has been tolerating it for the first time in 2 years! He now does well on ghee, butter, kefir, yogurt, raw sour cream, parmasean, gruyere, comte. The occasional illegal treat of raw whipped cream or raw whole milk doesn't seem to bother him either! No eczema, no chronic illness, no toileting issues, no emotional meltdowns, and lots of gaining ground! We were able recently to return to that steakhouse and order one of their grain-fed steaks (cooked in butter!) without reaction!
In GAPS, as people heal, they often see retracing patterns. Your body is working backward through the healing it wanted to do in the past. So issues that came up recently were dealt with first and issues that had been under the surface from the start are the last to heal. We saw retracing in four of us. James' regression journey began with a chronic UTI and bad case of giardia. His giardia had been popping up every few months even on GAPS. Initially we would continue to treat with the recommended tinidazole antibiotic. After a while, kefir and garlic seemed to make it go back into remission after a few 'windy' days. And the giardia seemed to resurface less and less often. So when it seemed to come back (around a full moon, which is normal for parasites) in February, we began a regime of diatomaceous earth in water (a very inexpensive and gentle parasite/yeast cleanse) before dinner each day. I figured we all might have a few extra stow-aways after so many years in Africa. Within a week his giardia symptoms were gone and within a month he no longer had the bloated tummy that goes with it. We continued for several months. Initially he would feel something around a full moon, but now, 4 months later, we just had a 'super moon' and noticed nothing! Hooray for DE!
I feel like that was one huge last 'frontier' for James' gut. He had to find a way to kill off the last of the parasites and keep things in balance. Healing that his body wanted to do when he turned three... We'll have to see what time tells us, but we may have fought the 'last battle'!
We had a great conversation last week:
MOM: James, is that eczema on your leg?
James: What's eczema?
MOM: You know, the itchy spots you had when you were little?! (age 6 mos - 8 years)
James: Nope. No idea what you're talking about.
(it turned out to be a few mosquito bites)
I'm so thankful he doesn't even remember nights when he couldn't sleep for the itching.
James is headed for the teens quickly, growing like a weed, and becoming a wonderful young man. He is doing really well in math, still loves architecture and engineering, and Suzuki piano instruction. He still has an amazing capacity for patterns and in 6 months of piano instruction can play about 12 songs in almost any key you name. He has recently discovered a love of clay and molding figurines to order. He has finished Occupational Therapy for gross motor delays and has one reflex still not integrated. He has enjoyed playing baseball and soccer this spring. The biggest thing James accomplished this year was a week away from family at Summer Camp! He had to bring a cooler of food along, but he had a blast intertubing on the lake, ziplining through the forest and diving in the pool! Such a far cry from the 8yo who couldn't make it through an hour with peers on his own...
My guess is that James will benefit from continuing GAPS foods for the majority of his diet, but that he won't be limited strictly for too much longer. The only hesitation from moving on now is that for some kids (like myself) hormone levels and detox can get messy ages 12-14. We'll have to navigate it one day at a time. So thankful for the wisdom of Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride and GAPS!