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How We Got our Little One to Go Dairy, Grain and Sugar Free for 30 Days

How We Got our Little One to Go Dairy, Grain and Sugar Free for 30 Days

How do you get a five-year-old to go without her cereal, cheese, and treats for thirty days?

The short answer: Bribe her with a trip to Disneyland

The longer answer: Find some new things she loves to eat.

This past spring, our daughter had a strange and unfortunate succession of events within a month’s time. First, she had a vaccine and a strong reaction to it, then two stomach bugs, one after another. After this, she experienced chronic, debilitating stomachaches and lots of missed school days, so many in fact, that we got a letter from the school principal.

After a few fruitless trips to the pediatrician, we finally took her to see an allergist. They did an extensive allergy panel for various foods and grass, pollen, etc., and found that she was ONLY allergic to dogs (go figure – she’s been around plenty of dogs and never experienced a reaction). The allergist explained that most likely our daughter had a food sensitivity, rather than an allergy, and sensitivities are best found by trying an elimination diet. This basically means you remove a specific food (like wheat or milk) for three weeks, and then try reintroducing it.

Around this same time, my husband and I wanted to do another Whole 30 (which is thirty days of no grains, legumes, dairy or sugar) for our own health reasons. The philosophy behind Whole 30 is that you remove foods from your diet for thirty days, and then systematically reintroduce them to determine if you react or have sensitivity to those foods. It was perfect timing for Ellianna to join us, since this is basically what her doctor was telling us to do for her.

I think the stomachaches were some motivation to our daughter to try the Whole 30. But she was VERY reluctant to give up some of her favorite foods. My husband and I have been wanting to take the kids to Disneyland, so we decided that if we all stuck with the Whole 30 for thirty days, we would go to Disneyland this fall. We explained to our daughter why it was important for her health to do the Whole 30 with us, and that it would have its challenges, but if she stayed the course, we would go to Disneyland.

Our Whole 30 adventure had some ups and downs, but we worked through it, one day at a time. Our daughter had a few frustrated meltdowns when she couldn’t have certain foods. I quickly found this happened mostly right before mealtimes when she was hungry (I noticed the same thing in myself at times!) Once we got some food in her, Whole 30 didn’t seem so bad anymore.

A few times, she was SORELY tempted to eat something off-plan. We asked her, “Is a eating that food worth giving up a trip to Disneyland?” We told her the story from the Bible where Esau gave up his birthright – his very inheritance – to his brother Jacob in exchange for a bowl of stew. How it can be so easy in the moment to throw away something great in exchange for something small and fleeting, but later, this only leads to big regrets. (If only we as adults could always remember this lesson!)While a happier tummy was the true goal, Disneyland was a more tangible reward for her, and it helped her to keep a bigger perspective on her choices.

When you reintroduce grains, you don’t do it half-way! (She only ate a small piece of this, btw!)

Overall, she did an incredible job. She was willing to try new things and find foods she enjoyed.   My mama heart swelled with pride when I would watch her respond to friends or family that offered her foods that weren’t on her plan. She would gently and kindly explain that she was “on Whole 30” to help her tummy, and she couldn’t have that food right then. I explained to her that at her young age, she was already displaying an important skill – the ability to kindly say no when someone offers something that isn’t in line with her own goals. What great life skills to exercise and learn as a five-year-old!

After thirty days, the day finally came when we reintroduced dairy, and later grains, and she was THRILLED. She never appreciated her favorite foods so much. But those days, she did notice that her tummy didn’t feel as good as it had before.

She is now back to eating grains and dairy, and her tummy is doing well. It’s possible that just giving her system a little break to heal brought it back to balance. She is now more self-aware when a food bothers her tummy, and more aware of limiting foods that have too much sugar. And she is really looking forward to that Disneyland trip she worked so hard to earn!

For me, I have new ideas for healthier snack options, and I’m more aware of the sugars that lurk in boxed foods – even the organic “healthy” foods from the health foods store.

Next up: The meals and snacks that helped our five-year-old get through Whole 30.

What Whole 30 Did for Me, My Husband, and our 5-Year-Old

What Whole 30 Did for Me, My Husband, and our 5-Year-Old

The results are in!!! My husband and I, with our five-year-old daughter just finished a Whole 30 (which is 30 days without legumes, grains, milk products, or sweeteners of any kind), complete with a post Whole 30 systematic reintroduction of each food type, to see how our bodies would react.

Now, we called it “Whole 30,” but in reality, we each did a variation on it. My husband still added stevia to his coffee. I still had half and half in my coffee, and occasionally honey. Our daughter still had a little honey, paleo (grain-free and milk/butter-free) chocolate chip cookies, and some pea protein powder in a smoothie. (Her main guidelines were to ban sugar, grains, and milk products.)

Our son, who is 17 months, didn’t do Whole 30, although I’m sure he had less grain than usual since we were cooking and buying groceries differently.

So why did we do a Whole 30?

My husband wanted to lose weight. I wanted more energy and get off sugar. Our daughter was fighting chronic stomachaches.

So we did it! My husband is a rock star in the kitchen – he is the menu planner in our family. So he got out our Whole 30 and Paleo recipe books and planned out his lunches and our dinners for each week. Huge help! I had to menu plan a few of the days (more on how I survived that in a forthcoming post).

My husband was our rock through it all. He stayed strong when I wanted to cave. (This makes no sense, because I grew up eating a very clean, no sugar diet, whereas, he did not. This should be hardwired into my brain!) He abstained from beer at every work happy hour, stayed away from Friday bagels at work, made himself turkey bacon and eggs every morning, and planned and cooked Whole 30 compliant lunches for the week.

This is my third time doing a Whole 30, and for whatever reason, it was haaarrrddd this time. I wanted popcorn and ice cream and other treats, especially when we were on a little trip. I missed having more variety in my diet. My husband wondered if it was because this time I kept half-and-half in my diet (he may have a point!)

My daughter had a few meltdowns, and Whole 30 almost became a bad word in her mind. But overall, she found some things she really enjoyed and was a trooper – making the hard choices when push came to shove. (More to come on her experience doing Whole 30).

4th of July picnic with my parents at the lake! Beautiful weather and great food.

We made it through all the ups and downs and found things that felt like a treat. On our 4th of July trip, we had a tailgate picnic by the lake – with fresh cold watermelon and homemade guacamole with plantain chips. It was great and we had a blast.

So now for the good stuff – what did Whole 30 do for us?

Andy – down 6 lbs!
  • My husband: Andy lost 6 pounds. Now, this is AMAZING. My husband simply does not lose weight, even during times he is watching carbs and calories. He can go years without losing a pound, even though we really work to buy healthy foods and cook at home. But he lost six pounds in the 5 ½ weeks we were on Whole 30! He also felt like he had good energy and focus through a high-pressure time at work.
  • Me: I’m gonna keep it real and say that I didn’t notice a big surge in my energy this time, like I have when I’ve done Whole 30 before. But I have some other things going on, like a newly diagnosed low thyroid. BUT I did have much better digestion and less stomachaches on Whole 30, and in general, I didn’t feel sluggish. The no grain, no sugar, no milk product way of eating really helps my body function better. Also, I had NO REFINED SUGAR for over 5 weeks, and for a recovering sugar addict like me, this is fantastic.
  • Our daughter: Our baby girl also had better digestion and almost no stomachaches while doing Whole 30. She also didn’t have the hyper highs she (and all kids have) when she had refined sugar in her diet.

So, absolutely yes and amen, Whole 30 was worth it, and it was doable for us. We really want to continue with this healthy way of eating, with more protein, fruits and vegetables, and really minimize refined foods. My goal is to keep a rhythm of healthy eating almost every day. A good healthy eating plan takes the monkey off my back, the niggling worries that I should be eating healthier, that I should be feeding my family more healthfully. It takes away the mornings of waking up with brain fog and the onslaught of regrets for eating things that made me less than my best the next day.

This doesn’t mean it will be perfect. I enjoy my ice cream with the best of them (chocolate and vanilla with caramel swirl PLEASE!) But healthy eating WILL be a continued journey for us, because feeling good every day and building health for today and future years is worth every effort.

The Child by Fiona Barton – Video Review

The Hopefuls by Jennifer Close

The Hopefuls by Jennifer Close

On the heels of reading “Settle for More” by Megyn Kelly, I was in the mood for a book with some elements of Washington politics. When I heard on a podcast about “The Hopefuls” by Jennifer Close, I quickly reserved it from my library.

The story is about a young married couple, Matt and Beth Kelly (ironically!), who move from New York to Washington D.C. so Matt can pursue a career in politics. Beth is not so sure she will warm up to this new state and its culture of politics. Soon enough they meet another couple close in age and aspirations, Jimmy, a White House staffer, and his wife Ash, and they become fast friends.


Create Like a Kid Again

Create Like a Kid Again

Do you remember when you were a kid, and you loved to draw and paint, to dress up and put on a play, or to write a little storybook, complete with illustrations? (more…)

The Surprising Health Benefits of Reading

The Surprising Health Benefits of Reading

I’ve always loved books and reading, thanks to my parents who encouraged my siblings and me to read. I will never forget the weekly trips to the library of my childhood, where my sister and I pored over shelves to find new biographies to read. (Always true stories). It was always an exciting “trip to town” when our mom announced it would include a stop at the library. We read dozens of books, including all the Little House on the Prairie books. (more…)

Wishin’ and Hopin’…

Wishin’ and Hopin’…

As the years fly by, I realize that I still have so many things I want to do, but haven’t done. This very simple equation has become increasingly clear:

Results = time + attention

I can dream about a business endlessly, I can imagine drawings and paintings I wish I could make, I can wish to be a published author… but if the only place these things occur are in my head, there they will stay. (more…)

Children’s Picture Book Christmas Gift Ideas (that Parents Will Love to Read too)

Children’s Picture Book Christmas Gift Ideas (that Parents Will Love to Read too)

Still looking for a few last minute Christmas gifts for a child in your life? Today I am sharing some of our family’s most-loved children’s books. (more…)

There’s a New Ornament on the Tree

There’s a New Ornament on the Tree

Hanging ornaments on the Christmas tree always puts me in a reflective mood. Between the purely decorative ornaments, I pull out symbols of my most treasured memories. An ornament my in-laws gave us after we were first married, and another after we moved into the first home we built together. There’s the Precious Moments “Baby’s First Christmas” ornament that my sister-in-law gave us after our first child was born, and souvenir ornaments from many fun trips to Disneyland. Even more sentimental are the mini-framed pictures of our daughter Ellianna – one of her first Christmas, and nearly every year till now (she is 5) – reminders of the years ticking by all too quickly.

On silent nights after the kids have gone to bed, I sit by the Christmas tree, seeing its lights and reminders of the past, and I ponder. I think about the coming year, and what thoughts and events will fill my mind the next time I decorate the tree. It’s a time to hope and dream for what’s next, and reflect with gratitude on the prior year.

This year, my reflections are on events I could not have dreamed of last year at Christmas.

It all started near Christmas of 2014, when my sister invited me to a ladies’ Christmas Candlelight Dessert event at her church. The topic was something like “How to Have Peace Through the Holidays.” That night, Brenna Stull, the guest speaker, shared some fun holiday tips as we enjoyed our hot cocoa and cookies. Then the evening took an unexpected turn when she began sharing her story of how God moved her and her family’s hearts toward adoption. She shared so genuinely about this experience and how her family came to adopt two children from Africa, I was moved to tears.

That Christmas, my daughter, our only child, was three years old. She is our miracle baby. Before she was born, I had experienced three early-term miscarriages. Two years after she was born, I had a fourth miscarriage. We hoped to have another child – I grew up with three siblings and my husband grew up with two. Yet we did not know if it would ever be a possibility for our family.

The Christmas Candlelight event was the first nudge that led us to filling out an adoption application. I was a little nervous, but finally decided to start by contacting an agency several friends had used. My first contact at the agency was very friendly and helpful and gave me the first step: fill out a brief application and send in a $50 check. I thought, “I can do that!” That simple first step led to the year of 2015 being punctuated with filling out paperwork and taking adoption classes.

By December of last year, I completed our “match letter,” which birth parents would review and use to select prospective adoptive parents for their child. We went into the matchbook right after the New Year, January of this year. We had no idea how long it would be before we’d have a baby in our arms – I told my boss at work it could take a year or more. Three weeks after we submitted our match letter, I was taking a nap and woke up to find a voicemail on my phone from the adoption agency. My husband was sure it was a request to complete more paperwork. Much to our surprise and joy, we had been selected by a birth mom who was due any day.

When God decides it’s time, things can happen very quickly. Late January, our precious son was born. We had a few harrowing moments when we weren’t sure if consents by the birth parents would be signed, but after many prayers and a few anxious days, Weston became ours.

Weston is now 10 months old – a very sweet, happy boy who has given our family immeasurable joy. This Christmas, as I trace back the memories of this year, I am overwhelmed with gratitude for what God has wrought. There is a new ornament on the tree this year, and with it, reflection on the incredible story of Weston’s adoption.

Life is filled with challenges and some great sorrows – infertility, death of loved ones, and just daily stresses. In these times of reflection, I see that God is good through it all. And as I look at the ornaments, these little “stones of remembrance1,” I see His hand on our lives.

I love these lyrics from Christy Nockels’ Silent Night (Holding Us Now) from her album The Thrill of Hope:

On a starlit wonder of the night
You came so all would be made right
And the baby that all beheld
The same baby Mary held, is the same God
Who is holding us now

The ornaments on the tree tell this story. God is with us, He is holding us; walking with us through all of life. I can’t think of a better time to remember this than Christmas.

1See Joshua 4:4-6, 20-24





Book Review: Commonwealth by Ann Patchett

Book Review: Commonwealth by Ann Patchett

Can the “magic of gin and orange juice” and one kiss change the trajectory of two families’ lives? This is the question Ann Patchett answers in her newest book, “Commonwealth.”

Commonwealth is about two families in the aftermath of the husband from one family (Bert) and the wife from the other family (Beverly) leaving their marriages to wed each other. Shortly thereafter, Bert and Beverly leave Los Angeles and move to Virginia. It is the late 60’s/early 70’s, well before the age of helicopter parenting. The collective six children from the two families are left to entertain themselves during lazy and wild summers in Virgina.