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A Tale Of A Picky Eater

I don’t think B has eaten a bite of meat since he was four years old (six years ago). The last time he had a taste of eggs was more recent – since we moved to this property – but the last three or four times he asked to eat eggs he only had one or two bites before declaring he didn’t want anymore.

This is all okay, since when, last summer, J and I talked about going vegan we didn’t have any protests from B. Well, not much, anyway. More on that in a moment.

Still, our son’s lack of desire to eat meat and eggs was more of a texture/taste thing than an ethical thing (although he’s never liked the idea of killing things for food).

Vegetables? Eew! Not for this kid – who, by the way,  happily ate broccoli, carrots, green beans, and lettuce when he was a toddler.

“So, what did he eat??”

For a while his diet consisted of raw goat milk, smoothies, fruit, and grains. When we decided to go vegan, he had a hard time giving up the milk, but at least he had his smoothies. And after some gentle discussions about using animals for food, he decided to give up goat milk and give full-on veganism a go. I’m not sure that lasted even six weeks, and we were back to the dairy, buying raw goat milk.

Then, he came down with a sore throat. For several days this past winter he felt so bad he could hardly eat anything. Dutiful mother that I am, I offered him soft foods. Which was easy, because at the time he was practically living on smoothies anyway.

But his throat hurt, and the cold from the frozen fruit made it worse.

So what did Mr. Picky do? Develop an aversion to smoothies!

The frustration begins…

Then, I made the mistake of listening to a radical unschooling podcast where the mothers tried to convince me that I should let my son eat Cap’n Crunch and Twinkies all day – and not make him brush his teeth! – because of course sugar-loving kids are going to magically one day in the not very near future realize that sugary processed foods aren’t very good for them and they need to moderate their diet by adding salads and Granny Smith apples to it.

NOT!

While the radical unschoolers didn’t convince me completely, I did begin to wonder if I wasn’t being too much of a control freak about what he eats. After all, maybe if we just forgot that he is vulnerable to Candida overgrowth he could eat refined-flour baked goods and sugar-laden ketchup (which he requires for each and every bowl of grains), it would never happen again!

Okay, so I wasn’t quite that naïve or cavalier about it. But when B continued to insist that he could no longer eat smoothies, I couldn’t let him starve. I started making him pancakes (really oven cakes, because I bake the pancake batter in pans) out of einkorn all-purpose flour, and we started buying goat milk for him again. His diet became, basically, milk and grain, with an occasional piece of fruit thrown in. I had him start applying tea tree oil to his belly twice a day to keep the Candida under control.

After a few weeks of this eating regimen, BAM! He got the worst flare-up of Candida ever, this time affecting his private parts. ‘Nough said.

I talked to him about changing his diet back to what it was before the sore throat. Nope.

“I’m sorry, I just don’t like smoothies anymore.”

In the meantime…

…thanks to the local goat dairy moving their operation to the county seat forty-five minutes away, buying their milk suddenly becomes a challenge akin to trying to keep a sperm whale and a giant squid from fighting. Also, I grow increasingly resentful of the time I have to spend cooking a food (pancakes) that I know is not healthy in general (flour-based foods are not, no matter how “ancient” the grain you use), and dangerous for B in particular (ever read what can happen if Candida overgrowth gets really bad? Like, death? Not kidding here, folks!)

Almond milk soon replaced the goat milk – another reluctance on my part, because it was only for B to have something to drink with his meals (it doesn’t have nearly the nutrition as goat milk) and it only has thirty calories per glass. For a growing boy who is already underweight and refuses to eat enough because he is extremely picky, this is not a good thing.

I began to desperately wish for something to give. I wanted nothing more than for him to give up the stupid pancakes and (for the most part) grains, and to go back to smoothies.

The plot thickened some more!

Well, last week he had another flare-up. Not “down there”, just painful gas for a couple of days. And I’m talking, complaining to the extent I was starting to have visions of us taking him to the emergency room! I ramped up the tea tree oil to three times a day. And I decided all the radical unschooling moms could go to…a nice, sunny beach and keep their opinions to themselves. I decided that I am the parent – the parent who has been studying diet and nutrition for the past twenty-plus years – and I am going to be the Nutrition Police in my house, no apologies.

I Am The Mom!

I told B, after he started to feel like eating again, that he was going to have to nix pancakes (at least, those made from all-purpose flour) and dates for awhile. I also told him that eating a lot of grains-based meals, even the whole grains like quinoa and brown rice, wasn’t that much better.

I need to take a short detour here, because some of you are going to be wondering why bananas and other fruits would not facilitate Candida overgrowth, while grain-based foods do. Especially since when you do a search on “Candida diet”, most of the results will lead you to a page that tells you that fruits are either a no-no when you’re trying to eliminate Candida, or that you can only have one serving per day of fruit.

Here’s what I learned from an article on The Healthy Home Economist’s website: grains contain disaccharides (so does dairy milk, by the way), and when the gut does not contain enough of the beneficial flora to help in digestion (or is already overloaded with Candida) , the gut cannot break down all of the disaccharides efficiently. This leaves them floating around as food for Candida.

Fruits do not contain disaccharides, but only monosaccharides. For months, I have abstained from eating grains, or have only eaten 1/2 cup once in a great while. And I am the only one of us three who has not dealt with Candida overgrowth lately.

However, I did when I was eating grains.

All that said, after I laid down the Food Law with Benjamin, I wondered about using sprouted wheat flour to make the pancakes. I muscle-tested and discovered that sprouted grains do not impact Candida overgrowth. Why not? Once a grain is sprouted, it is, at its molecular level, more like a vegetable than a grain.

Then I woke up and remembered that it’s getting warm outside. Having the oven on, even in the morning, ain’t gonna fly.

“You’re going to start having a smoothie for breakfast until it gets cold again,” I announced to B.

He was not happy. I promised him I’d make the smoothies tastier than they were before (he doesn’t like to taste nuts and seeds, but I have to put some in to make them filling, and give him protein and more calories).

When mommy stubborn fights kid stubborn…

The next morning, it took him for-EVER to take the first bite of smoothie. Then, when he finally did, “It tastes nice!”

That day he had a small smoothie for breakfast, some sweet brown rice for lunch, another small smoothie in the afternoon, and something else – a mango and almond milk? – in the evening.

The next day was similar. But he had trouble getting through the rice.

Oh, did I tell you that a couple of months ago, we bought a twenty-five pound bag of sweet brown rice because B said that he loved it and that he would eat it?

So that day, “I don’t like it anymore,” he declared over the rice. “I’m used to smoothies now.”

After I picked myself off the floor and finished mentally slapping myself for not going with my gut feeling and deciding against buying a huge bag of grains (we’d done the same for quinoa), I silently thanked God. Hopefully, the more he eats healthy, the less the Candida will tempt him with cravings for unhealthy (refined/high-sugar) carbs. In other words, I’m hoping by the time cold weather rolls around, he won’t care about eating pancakes (or crackers or any kind of bread) anymore.

A mother can dream.

At least, for now, the lion’s share of his diet is fruit (eight servings per day!) and nuts. (In case you’re wondering, yes, he does have to take supplements, because he won’t eat greens or seeds.)

Lesson learned? Sometimes, you have to be your child’s parent, not – as the radical unschoolers believe – your child’s equal partner.

And, oh, yeah, it’s good to have a solid working knowledge of natural health and nutrition.

P.S. – And now, a new dilemma. The last time we went to Whole Foods, we did not buy nearly enough frozen fruit to sustain B’s sudden renewed interest in smoothies until the next time we go. I am going to have to resort to purchasing the EVIL CONVENTIONAL frozen fruit from the small grocery store in town.

Or, is conventional produce so evil? More on that, coming up…

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