Day 3 of the Carbohydrate Challenge

Day 3 of the Carbohydrate Challenge

Ok so today I’m feeling a bit precious, I’m trying not to talk too much about the miscarriage, this is meant to be a positive outlet and a positive change for me, but as much as I’m programmed to be a ‘coper’ and to get over things, I’m human and losing another baby was shocking and painful. Today I have to have a blood test so the doctors can see if I’m showing any HCG hormone , which would indicate ‘something’ is still ‘in there’. I’ve had the baby I lost last Monday referred to as product and tissue over the last week, something? Would saying ‘someone’ be more appropriate? Probably not, anyway I’m pretty confident my body has done well in removing all trace of said ‘something’, at least it has in the past, miscarrying is something I do quite well – that comment produces looks of shock and discomfort from doctors but I can’t help but try to introduce humour into every situation no matter how grim or inappropriate.

Over the weekend I did a lot of looking into PCOS and miscarriage on the internet. It’s been years since I’ve looked and now they say women with PCOS do appear to have more chance of having a miscarriage, 45% more chance, which is pretty huge, but they don’t know why. WHY NOT??? If I had a why, I feel like I could avoid it next time you know? What they do advise, is eating pretty much like I am, exercise, and stress reduction… plus some drugs that I’ve never heard of and will be asking my doctor about.

So I’m on the right track right? I make a smoothie. Today I add chia seeds, flaxseeds, almonds, walnuts and cashews (that I’ve soaked), plus a couple of leaves of collard greens from the garden. Grim. My little one wants to taste it, it’s such an interesting colour! She takes a sip. Says “nut” proudly, which is a new word for her. And happily gives me back the glass, preferring her kefir, berries and banana smoothie that I whipped up for her.IMG_2063

For lunch I eat the leftover baked ratatouille from last night. Then for dinner I feel like something rich so we have my version of surf and turf. NZ scallops quickly fried in butter, beef medallions on the bbq, topped off with a browned butter garlic and caper sauce. I gently fry a chopped leek in butter with a few cloves of garlic, once it’s soft I add in my beautiful rainbow beets that I’ve sliced up and washed. I add the lid onto the pan and turn down the heat, stirring them occasionally so nothing sticks and mixing them in with the leeks. They only take a few minutes to soften and they’re ready to eat. For the rest of the family I make a little mashed potato. I should probably apologise for my photos now, it’s not my strong suit. Presentation of food is not something I’m good at either, at school in home economics, a compulsory class that was meant to teach us how to cook, my teacher told me my offerings looked as though they’d been run over by a lawn mower – thanks Mrs whatever your name was, that gave me SO much confidence, not!image

Those quick carbs like potato, pasta, rice are all handy for filling up the plate, but I’ve been relying on them a little too much since doing this challenge. My husband is tall and slim, we call him snake hips. He has one of those body types that has trouble keeping weight on. Our eldest daughter is similar to me in personality type: feels emotions strongly, gets the ‘h-anger’ if she doesn’t eat regularly and has an extremely sweet tooth. Worryingly she also complains of heachaches or a tender head sometimes which is how I feel tension headaches. I wonder if she has my mystery blood sugar defect too, so without eliminating any food types or being too restrictive, I do watch her diet and response to food like a hawk. I only cook one evening meal a day, and we all try to eat together if dad gets home on time. Unless the meal is a dog (and that does happen), I expect the kids to eat what we’re eating. After having a difficult time getting two year old India to eat real food, I eliminated snacks because she was living on crackers and other fillers. It was hard, especially her being our first child, eating and thriving is so emotionally charged for us parents right? We tried to keep things light and fun at the dinner table but we did make it a rule that everything must be tried, and we found that if she was hungry she would eat what was on offer. Now I think she eats pretty well, she’ll happily gobble down salad and other greens every night. She has snacks now she’s at school. At 10am the children eat what the school calls ‘brain food’. School says this is not the time for heavy carbs, so I pack something like thisimage

…whatever raw veg is seasonal with some nuts and dried fruit (today I added a few fresh blueberries because I had them). I try to choose sweet veg like capsicum, snow peas or sugar snaps, plus when it’s growing I add things like cucumber and tomato. I can’t do the same thing day in and day out or she just stops eating it and winter is harder than summer when the garden is producing so much more variety.  I’ve just started dehydrating my own produce, so the dried apple ring and figs shown are my own. My two year old also has this every morning, she likes to be just like her big sister. When they’re eating veg like this in the morning and again with dinner I don’t worry so much if their lunch includes sandwiches or wholegrain pasta, but I try to avoid supermarket bread except for maybe one day a week. I’m always looking for alternatives and have trawled the internet and taken out multiple books for inspiration, what do you have for your lunch?

Thanks for reading, Lila x

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Day 2 of the Carbohydrate Challenge

Day 2 of the Carbohydrate Challenge

Woke up with another shocking headache. After having coffee I made a pretty average nut shake with the soaked cashews, unsweetened almond milk, and a bit of tahini – do you have any good shake ideas that don’t include sweeteners or any fruit? I’m at a bit of a loss. I should just cook some eggs but you know what? I want toast with sweet, sweet jam on it! I want to sink my teeth into crispy on the outside, soft and steamy on the inside toasted bread soaking in butter – ha ha I’m actually torturing myself. To get my mind off quick carbs, I take the dog out for a walk. Apart from a 10 second sprint downhill to get my heart rate elevated (slightly?) I decide against running as I’m kind of stiff from yesterday. When I get back I notice my borlotto fire tongue beans are looking amazing, look at that colour? I planted three plants from seed, back in spring, and I’ve saved these so far…borlotto 34 small, dried and very pretty beans. With todays haul it’ll be around 2 years till I have enough for a meal, gardening is hilarious sometimes.

I snack on – you guessed it – raw nuts and then later for lunch I scan the fridge for options. I chop up the last half of a pumpkin (approx. 800g) that’s in the fridge. My pumpkins popped up on their own this year. They self-seeded from the compost I make and add to my raised gardens every three months or so, and they are so delicious and sweet. I don’t want to shop this weekend so although soup on a really warm day is a bit strange I’m going to just go with what I have.

Simple Pumpkin Soup

I sweat the diced pumpkin and a chopped onion in an outrageous amount of butter, then once the onion is soft and fragrant, I add in 700mls of chicken stock that I have in the freezer. I always have some on hand, as every time we have a hot bird I make stock from the bones. For added goodness and flavor I also throw in the remains of the lamb roast we had a few nights ago. Once the pumpkin is cooked, I take out the lamb bone, puree the pumpkin, onion and stock with a hand mixer, remove the meat from the lamb bone and add it back into the soup and viola. It’s flavoursome and filling.

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Easy Stock

Do you know how simple it is to make your own stock?

I used to boil it on the stove top, but to get the most goodness out of dem bones, they need at least 6 hours of cooking and that’s a lot of watching and being home. So now I use the slow-cooker, an idea I got from reading the GAPs book. Genius! I put the carcass into the slow cooker before I go to bed, just covering the bones with filtered water and leave it on low to do it’s thing while we’re all sleeping. If I have celery or random bits of lonely looking vege in the fridge I throw them in for extra flavor and goodness but sometimes it’s just the bones and a dried bay leaf and it’s perfectly good. If you don’t have a slow-cooker then make it on the stove top, just keep an eye on it to make sure it doesn’t dry out. Once it’s done I turn it off and allow it to cool down, then I pop it into a glass measuring jug, transfer lots into freezer bags (writing the amount on the outside!) and that’s it. I use stock a lot in cooking, but stock of any kind is also a yummy, nutritious and warming drink. I put a bit of kelp salt into mine for some extra taste and a bit of natural iodine.

Thanks for reading, Lila

Day 1 of the Carbohydrate Challenge

Day 1 of the Carbohydrate Challenge

I woke up this morning with another shocking headache and knew I had to get started with this challenge because I felt atrocious and look outside – it’s beautiful, feeling crappy is not normal! Sounds good doesn’t it – challenge? I love a good challenge. For details, here’s a link to Dr Gangemi’s website which outlines how and why someone might do a carbohydrate challenge, or read about me here if you’d like to know why I’m doing it. I’ve recently read The Blood Sugar Solution by Dr Mark Hyman and another of his books – 10 Day Detox Diet, and the eating plans are similar, although Dr Hyman’s eating plan is more stringent as his books are aimed at those with pre-diabetes or diabetes. I don’t fit into either of those categories, but he has a bunch of quizzes to do in the books and when I thought about how I would have answered a year ago before doing the carbohydrate challenge the first time, I would have been off the scale for hormone imbalance, inflammation, gut issues and stress. Eating this way, that is cutting out grains, starch and fruit requires a bit of organisation so don’t be like me and rush in or you’ll find yourself thinking uh oh what am I going to eat? Which can make it harder than it actually is.

 

So it begins

I started the day with two huge glasses of filtered water and went for a short jog/walk with the dog. As well as eating right, I want to push play for at least thirty minutes a day. Yes I run around after the kids but making time to get outside (wi the added bonus of soaking up some vitamin D) is as easy as setting the alarm to get up half an hour earlier and getting out for a brisk walk. It’s at least six months since I’ve done any running so I’m a bit out of practice, and although my old dog jogged faster than I could, it felt good. I came home made a coffee and added a tablespoon of extra virgin coconut oil, yum, no milk for me! Oh coffee how I love thee. For breakfast I decided to make coconut crepes, which weren’t amazing – a bit bland, quite eggy, I’m not going to link the recipe, there are plenty online, have you tried any good ones? I’d love to give them another go. I still ate them and I whipped up some full fat coconut milk to have with them.

 

Later in the day

2pm – yikes so those crepes did keep me going, but this is naughty, it’s important to eat regularly so as not to cause any blood sugar spikes. I needed something quick so I gently cooked some frozen vegetables, sliced in some lamb from last night, added kelp salt and extra virgin olive oil and Naomi and I enjoyed a tasty and nutritious rainbow snack. I love cooking but I eat this way quite a bit too, just simple food thrown together.FullSizeRender

The best meal of the day for me was dinner

I chopped free range boneless chicken thighs into 3cm cubes, put them in a glass bowl and added three cloves of chopped garlic (I’m heavy handed!), extra virgin olive oil and dried oregano (from my garden!). I covered the bowl and put it in the fridge for later.FullSizeRender 3

I picked figs from my wee tree that I planted three years ago that has fruited amazingly this summer, rocket, lettuce and herbs (lemon balm, apple mint, mint and parsley) from the garden. Although I can’t eat the figs, this salad from Homegrown Kitchen is so simple and delicious, and those figs needed to eaten, I’m content to watch my family devour the fruit while I tuck into the greens and goats cheese! Ha! I’ve made the salad so many times, I thought I knew it, but when linking it to Nicola’s recipe page, I see that I forgot the honeyed walnuts – Nooooooooo! Ok I couldn’t have had the honey but still they add another layer to this elegantly simple salad.IMG_2043

I had some red cabbage in the fridge, so I chopped it up teeny, making it easier for the girls to handle, added a chopped spring onion, grated in a carrot and then tossed in finely chopped lemon balm, apple mint and parsley. These herbs just happen to be growing in abundance in my garden right now, but you could add anything you have on hand. I just love the lift that fresh herbs give to a dish. Even when I was renting in flats/apartments that had no green area, I had pots on the balcony or the windowsills for herbs.IMG_2045

For both salads, I used a simple dressing of EV olive oil, half a lemon squeezed with a small clove of garlic finely chopped. I use a small jar so I can put the lid on tight and really mix it well.

Hamish put the marinated chicken onto bamboo skewers, I grilled them on the bbq with the hood down until they were cooked through and while they were cooking I boiled some potatoes for the family. Once the tatties were cooked I drained them, added in butter and the mint I’d picked earlier, placed the lid back on and let the mint do it’s magic.IMG_2047

I didn’t eat the figs or the potatoes but it was a delicious filling meal. We all had seconds!

Before bed I put a handful of cashews in a bowl and covered them with filtered water, all ready to make a nutty smoothie in the morning.

How are you doing? Are you up for this challenge?

Goodnight, Lila x

My first ever post. Starting Over

My first ever post. Starting Over

Today is Saturday, and for the last few months it has been a weekly ritual for us to sit in bed and read where and what our new baby is up to. Today would have been our twelve weeks pregnant day, and should have been a day of relief and excitement – almost through that first tricky trimester. Instead today is day five since I began that completely normal Monday morning with spotting, that led to cramps, heavier spotting with bright blood, and that evening, a sudden gush of amniotic fluid, extremely heavy bleeding, shock and a trip to the emergency department.

My husband has taken the kids out for a few hours. I yelled at them to just give me some peace. Who is that woman? I immediately felt terrible and kissed my big girl, who at five has an inkling of what’s been going on, told her I loved her past the moon and that I’m just so sad and I’m being mean to everyone because I feel bad, and I’m sorry, I just need some time and I’ll be ok. Mental pat on the back for having had pretty much the same conversation with her, when she’s been feeling crappy. She gets it. I hope. My two year old, my ‘baby’ she’ll just have to come along for the ride.

Yes we have two beautiful children and what a gift they are. I have a tremendous amount to be thankful for, but in making this beautiful family, we’ve been through our share of heartache. This is my eighth pregnancy – whoops, was my eighth. Before having India I had three miscarriages in thirteen months. After that I quit my job, fell pregnant, had a lovely calm pregnancy and had a healthy baby girl. Two years later I had an ectopic pregnancy that wasn’t picked up till around eight weeks so I lost that baby and a Fallopian tube. I had one more miscarriage eighteen months later. A few months after that, I knew I had to make changes so I resigned again, got pregnant, had Naomi, a whopping ten pounds little big girl – induced at twelve days overdue, who didn’t really sleep and was troubled by eczema, but more about that later.

So here I am, angry, heartbroken at losing another baby when everything seemed to be going so, so well, at quite an advanced stage too… and we don’t get answers. Just more questions. Is this anything to do with my having PCOS – polycystic ovaries? Did I worry too much? I am partial to a bit of stress in my life. Naomi got her finger caught in the car door last week, I screamed like a banshee because I couldn’t release it for what seemed like eternity – did I send my body the message that it wasn’t safe to have this baby? Was there something wrong with this baby, and was the miscarriage simply my body responding to that? I am a bit of a perfectionist after all. I think that’s probably the kindest proposition because it takes the blame away from me. I’m a seasoned miscarryer – yes I made that word up – but contrary to my neighbour’s comment the other day that she expects I’m getting used to this (miscarrying) I can tell you categorically that you never, ever get used to it. Ever. The pain is just as raw. The emotions are just as shitty. The sense of loss is just as shocking and confusing.

So being the woman that I am, I must take control of something. As I mentioned earlier, I have PCOS. PCOS and insulin resistance go hand in hand, but to my knowledge, they (the experts) don’t know which comes first. Well turn the clock back just over a year, to the beginning of 2015; since having Naomi the regular headaches I have always suffered from, turned into regular migraines. Along side the mood swings, exhaustion, recurrent candida infections, bloating, insomnia, flakey scalp, weird rashes on my body – I wasn’t feeling great, not such a pretty picture huh?! At that time I met a woman who listened to my symptoms and told me my problem was sugar. I was puzzled because I thought I was pretty careful about what I put into my body. I don’t drink sugary drinks or juice, I have a sweet tooth so I know it’s best not to be anywhere near sweets or I’ll devour them. Instead I bake for myself and the family, and have done since being diagnosed as gluten intolerant several years ago, so there’s always something here for a sweety treaty. I don’t have sugar in tea or coffee. Hmm… is that so bad? So I did what I do – I got on the interweb and looked up my symptoms of course. PCOS, sugar cravings, headaches the lot and after quite a bit of reading I found Dr Gangemi. At this time I must stress that I have no training in nutrition, medicine, the human body, zero! All I have is my own experience, but to me, this so called ‘Carbohydrate Intolerance’ resonated. Damn I’ve been living with these symptoms for so long I thought they were normal. If I could give my body a kick-start to return to burning carbs for energy instead of sugar, and reduce or remove some or all of those symptoms, how different would my life be? So in a nutshell it’s two weeks off sugars, fruit, all grains, milk, soft cheese, yoghurt, anything high GI (you can read the details of this carbohydrate challenge on Dr Gangemi’s website). Then you begin reintroducing foods over the two weeks after that, with free sugars being the last to come back around a month after beginning the challenge. Well do you know what happened? I stopped getting headaches – I have to say that I also took up Pilates at the same time and the overall strength training has been a contributor to that too, but my moods became dramatically more stable, I didn’t yell or feel out of control, I didn’t have the shakes if I didn’t eat every hour, I had ENERGY, bloating disappeared, I stopped getting thrush and body rashes, flaking of my skin wasn’t as bad, but the most dramatic and unexpected result was, I began to have a regular menstrual cycle. Except when on the contraceptive pill, I have never in my life had more than two to three periods a year and I have gone as long as eighteen months without one at all, several times. Well that February 2015 I got the monthly curse as some refer to it, and then again in March, then, jump for joy, again in April, and so on throughout the year. My doctor was amazed. She said I might be one of these people who has a defect and can’t handle any sugars at all. Defective, hmmm, ok I can live with that. So I reintroduced my gluten free whole grains, being careful with refined white rice flour, tapioca etc, I started with dairy again as I don’t think it’s a problem for me, I still cooked potatoes and GF pasta and pizza occasionally for the family but I really limited my intake of these starchy carbs, and looked for alternatives. As the year went on, I got a bit slack I guess, I’m human, and when low and behold I became pregnant again in January 2016, the tiredness really had me reaching for the afternoon pick me up in the form of some sweet baking – I’d replaced cane sugar with coconut sugar, maple syrup, honey, fruit purées and dried fruit but I could feel the cravings getting stronger, I got a bit more dependent on easy meals like pasta and pizza because I was tired, I bought gluten free bread from the supermarket instead of making my own gluten free whole grain sour dough from the amazing homegrown kitchen, recipe here – For me I guess all those little things add up, the symptoms began again and it really is a vicious cycle. Why can’t I eat like a ‘normal’ person? It’s so freaking frustrating! Well you can choose to fight it or just go with it.

I’m not saying my miscarriage was caused by my blood sugar issue, how could I? I don’t even know what my bloody blood sugar issue is, except that clearly I have one. I’m saying here that I’ve lost another baby, I know that this style of eating, high veg content, good quality proteins, good quality fats, little or no starches or sugars – makes me feel great, and I could do with feeling great right now.

When I did this carbohydrate challenge the first time, I found it hard to know what to eat. I felt like I lived on eggs and couldn’t face another ever again, after ten mornings in a row of eggs done every which way. This time around I wondered if anyone would be interested in the recipes and tips from clever people that I found on my journey.

A blog is a strange thing. I am a private person by nature but I’m fascinated by the connection I’ve found between food and my body and I wonder if I’m the only one or if there are other women (or indeed people) out there who’ve had similar experiences. I’m so interested that when my kids are older I would like to study nutrition (at a university rather than the school of Google). For now I don’t know if what I have to share will be interesting or helpful to anyone, but it’s definitely cathartic for me, and if you have or are experiencing similar, I’d love to hear from you. I don’t want to dwell in the past or mope around in my empty womb (ha). I wish to grieve our loss privately and sensitively, and also to get on with being a healthy, energetic, stable, fun mum and partner.

Talk soon, Lila xx