Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Not-So-Caffeinated Autism Mom

About a week ago on Facebook I shared the following with you: “Confession: For the past 2 weeks I’ve been drinking decaf. The shock! The horror!” I was quite amused by your responses! From your comments, as well as comments from some of my own friends locally, I’ve gotten the tongue-in-cheek question, “Are you going to change your name to Decaffeinated Autism Mom?”

One word: NO! I am still your favorite hard-core coffee junkie that you have come to know over the past year. So, let me give you a little history on what’s been going on.

I have been working very hard, just like every other stay-at-home mom out there. Trying to keep the children alive and the house from falling apart can be a challenge for anyone. As you know, I also run a special needs support group and that takes time. And, in all of my additional spare time (LOL!), I recently took on the role of Executive Director at my own nonprofit organization. The nonprofit involves volunteers, a Board of Directors, meetings, work parties, hard work, energy, and LOTS of time. Trying to squeeze the duties of a full-time job into the few minutes and hours I can spare out of my day (or the wee hours of the morning) has been a challenge.

Health wise I’ve struggled with many things, like: allergies, migraines, reflux, etc. In helping my boys, I’ve learned a lot about how to approach health from a more natural perspective. I have been able to take myself off of all of the medications I had been on for a very long time. Things have been fairly good since that time, except for the fact that my weight never seems to budge. Genetics are certainly not helping in that department!

As I’ve taken on more and more responsibility and stress in the past year, I’ve been noticing the return and slow progression of some of my old symptoms. I knew that I didn’t want to go down the road of meds again, but I also wasn’t making a concerted effort to change things either. I’m lazy when it comes to myself. I admit that.

I go to great lengths to do what is best for my boys’ health and properly manage their specialized diet. After all of that effort for them, I don’t really want to make the same effort for myself. Yep. Lazy. And it caught up with me.

It was getting to the point where I wasn’t having any days where I felt good. I knew that I had to finally do something and make myself a priority. I knew if I didn’t, I could end up like my mom. She has very poor health and is now disabled. I don’t want to follow in her footsteps.

New Years came around. You may recall that I don't make resolutions. I create change. My change for 2012? Get better control of my health again.

It had been such a long time since I had been in to see my naturopath that my chart was in archives. Shame on me. No wonder I was having trouble! After sharing my laundry list of symptoms and concerns, guess what happened? My doctor placed me on a restricted diet.

NO flour. NO sugar. NO juice. NO alcohol. NO gluten.

Oh crap. It stung when she told me. I am a serious carb and sugar addict. Always have been. I can live without juice and alcohol (well, mostly…), but carbs and sugar? I am already quite the gluten-free expert, so I wasn’t worried about finding whole gluten-free grains to eat. But, seriously? No sugar and no flour? Kill me now.

I will admit that in the week leading up to getting lots of blood work done (and the deadline to start my new diet), I binged on sugar and flour. Pasta, I’m going to miss you! Nom nom nom. Cake, you are so delicious! Nom nom nom. Looking back, it was juvenile and disgusting. At one point, I ate dessert until it made me feel nauseatingly ill. I was ready to make the change. And I did. And I’ve been a good girl!

It’s been about a month since I started this new dietary lifestyle. Most of my symptoms are gone. Surprisingly, positive changes began happening within the first 24 hours of starting the new diet. It has certainly not been easy, but it’s been necessary. And, I feel so much better!

One new thing I’ve discovered is that I cannot tolerate caffeine as well as I used to. It had never affected me before. I used to be able to drink coffee at any point during the day, right up until bedtime, and have no ill effects. Now that my body has much less internal inflammation, I can immediately tell when I’ve had caffeine. I made the mistake of drinking 4 cups of coffee during breakfast one morning and I felt sick until late that afternoon. Since then, I switched to either half-decaf or decaf. I still get my coffee fix without feeling awful. Maybe this is a temporary thing while I work out the rest of my symptoms. Only time will tell.

I think I’ll go grab a cup of coffee now!

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