Real Moms Share: Chynna Laird
Chynna Laird Shares about Happy Tummies, Happy Families: Four Ways to Help Heal the Digestive System
In our house, we live with a multitude of issues that have had a real impact on eating, cooking and the ingredients we choose. Not only do we have two children with SPD (one whose tactile issues often pose a hurdle), but we also have a child with asthma and food/environmental allergies and another with a heart abnormality. On top of that, I’ve lived with digestive issues my entire life. When we saw a nutritionist for our two sensory kids, my own health had gotten to the point where I was barely keeping food in my body. That’s when I knew I had to make some very aggressive changes to our digestive health.
You have to look at it this way
When you put an ingredient into your body that you’re intolerant or allergic to (whether you know it or not), your body treats that ingredient like a foreign matter, getting rid of it as fast as possible. At least that’s what my kids and I go through. When this happens, vital nutrients, vitamins and other substances your body needs to function effectively aren’t absorbed. So it’s no wonder, then, why we suffer with mood swings, sleep disturbances, lack of concentration, digestive struggles and other issues.
Not everyone has seen benefits in their child from diet or food changes. But the four changes I’ve made in our house have made a huge difference in all of us. Allow me to share them with you.
No fake stuff in my food
All of us know this already. The first step is getting rid of anything that has artificial colors, flavoring or preservatives. A good resource is The Feingold Association. The key is focusing on what’s in what you’re eating. Read labels, understand ingredients and, as I always say, “If you can’t pronounce it, don’t eat it!”
Make whatever you can from scratch
We make our own pasta, pizza dough, crackers, cookies, candy, sauces, salad dressing and even cheese! It is a bit more work than running to the store and buying something off the shelf, but I know what’s in the food we’re eating. And that’s a good feeling. Realistically, there are some things you need to buy packaged. When this happens, just refer to awesome resources, like the Feingold Association or your nutritionist, to ensure you’re making the best choices for your family.
This change was mostly for me. I’ve been diagnosed with every digestive disorder you can think of, including Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), and it can be debilitating at times. I’m supposed to take medication for IBS, but the side effects are awful. After one particularly bad IBS episode last Christmas, a friend of mine said straight out, “Stop eating wheat now!” I tried the GF/CF diet with my kids, and it really made no difference for them. But, wow! Did it ever help me! There are many of us for whom gluten is an allergen and can cause various symptoms including digestive upset. I now eat rice, potato and chickpea based pastas and breads and I feel so much better.
Related: Most Popular Gluten Free/Casein Free Products and Where to Find Them
This one is also mostly for me. One thing I’ve always struggled with is digesting animal products: red meat, poultry and dairy. Cheese is one of my favorite things on the planet, even if it does cause me pain to eat it. I haven’t gone vegan yet, but I’m working towards it. After only a week of removing all meat from my diet, and changing my dairy intake to rice products (except the occasional nibble of cheese), I felt like a new person. My stomachaches stopped, food was staying in my body, my skin looked clear and I even started sleeping better. Being a vegetarian today is wonderful because we have so many more options available to us that we didn’t have years ago. Even the “carnivores” in my house have enjoyed many of the soy, rice, bean and quinoa-based recipes I’ve made. You don’t even need to go full-out vegetarian. Just having a few vegetarian meals a week is a great start.
These are steps we’ve taken on the path to good digestive health. The only thing I’d add to this is using digestive enzymes, but we haven’t delved too far into this yet. I’m not a dietician, nutritionist or a physician. I’m just a mom who is researching and trying different things to find what works for us around here. Be sure to consult your therapist or doctor before trying anything and look into different options, or combination of options like we did, to figure out what suits your family’s needs best.
After all, happy tummies really do make happy families!
Chynna Laird – is a psychology major, freelance writer and multi award-winning author living in Edmonton, Alberta with her partner, Steve, and their three daughters Jaimie, Jordhan, and Sophie and son, Xander.
Read More: Real Moms Share
Most Popular Gluten Free/Casein Free Products and Where to Find Them
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This post originally appeared on our March/April 2012 Magazine