Friday, February 17, 2012

Breaking The Sugar Fast (and a general update)

(Um, seriously? A 3 page post that’s mostly just an update on our kitchen adventures? Sorry…I obviously have a knack for using lots of words! :-))

I would like to write more often…but right now, writing is something I do in my free time. The stuff that exists when both babies are napping at the same time- which doesn’t happen often. I don’t like to be on the computer or phone when they’re awake, so…. I write for fun. And I love blogging, and am quite grateful for all the people who invest their time in reading my small and inconsistent blog. :-) Nonetheless, blogging is something I do in my free time. I don’t keep up with a certain schedule, I don’t host giveaways, I don’t have a large fan-base I feel obligated to keep up with daily posts for, it’s not a business. It’s just that writing is ingrained in me and sometimes I have to get something out.

Anyway….that was kind of random. It’s just a little explanation for why my appearances are so random!

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Tuesday we broke our month-long sweetener fast. Yummy! Homemade honey-vanilla ice cream with homemade chocolate chips and homemade peanutbutter sauce. Wow. I have totally missed that stuff.

But- the fast hasn’t been nearly as hard as I thought it would be. After the first few days, it gradually got easier. In the first couple weeks or so, there were still times when I would get strong cravings for something illegal…but since then, it really hasn’t been a problem at all. Although I missed our treats, I also felt like I *could* go on indefinitely, more or less. And I’ve noticed that a lot of stuff just doesn’t have any appeal for me. White sugar stuff, processed junk, processed snacks….I’m sure I might get bad again (like, if I get pregnant again, especially- I can’t seem to crave anything good when I’m pregnant!), but right now, I wouldn’t have any issues turning those foods down. They’re not stuff we buy, anyway- but it’s stuff I would previously have been tempted by at get-togethers or other peoples’ houses. Right now, I just want my good stuff.

So, I’m really grateful we took the plunge and did this. It’s also encouraged me to look for ways to cut down/out unnecessary sweeteners. There are so many foods that have miniscule (or not) amounts of sweetener, and in many of them, I’ve found it isn’t necessary at all. Recent examples in which I’ve totally removed sweetener are sourdough waffles, sourdough pancakes and sourdough English muffins. There are other things I’ve cut it down in, and we’ll be trying baked oatmeal sometime soon with dried fruit instead of sweeteners.

There are a ton of foods that taste sweet to me, now…and, I’ve learned to really appreciate a wider range of flavors. Sweet is so “it”….many of us have lost site of how good other flavors are. I’m falling in love with sourdough. I’m enjoying veggies for snacking- and noticing how sweet peppers are. Or tortillas. I adore sautéed peppers and onions and have been making/eating them with everything.

Besides the sugar-free fast, our general lifestyle changes have gone really well thus far. We’re really enjoying them, and feel healthier than we ever have before. Once in a while, it feels like there’s too much to do in the kitchen…but for the most part, we’re settling into normal routines. In some ways, doing all the soaking, fermenting, culturing, etc., is easier. It breaks things up so I don’t have to do all the steps at once. It can be 5 minutes before bed and 10 minutes in the morning and voila! We have bread dough. The biggest thing is just planning ahead. I feel like that still takes a bit of extra time, as I spend several minutes a week (and generally a minute or two at breakfast each day) planning things out and figuring out when what needs to be started based on when we want to eat it, or when the oven will be available, etc. The more we get into it, the easier that gets and the less time and mental-energy it takes.

The biggest ticker is planning ahead. Having a few meals or ready-made ingredients (like tortillas and beans) in the freezer has been crucial to sticking with our properly-prepared-grains commitment. I meal plan which is huge (and thankfully, that’s already well-ingrained habit), but there have been many days over the past month or so when we planned to get together with family and it got canceled for illness. That left me, at 1 in the afternoon, needing to come up with something for dinner- more than what I had planned on taking. Thankfully, I have had stuff in the freezer, so I’ll continue to try to keep things on hand to keep us from slipping under un-planned “emergencies”.

And- I successfully started my own sourdough! I’m so excited…and I’ve been loving using it. I’ve had a starter before (twice), both from a friend. I stored it in the fridge and tried to use every week or two, but I wasn’t properly using it (as in, for properly prepared grains). At a friend’s recommendation (keep meaning to tell you, THANK YOU, Susan!), I bought the GNOWFGLINS e-book on sourdough, and it’s been so helpful. My starter is beautiful, and thanks to some of the tips in the book, it works super well without being too sour. It’s currently living on my counter and I’m hoping to just keep it there. Plus, I’m learning how to use sourdough “properly” and how to use it without using any yeast….something I hadn’t done before.

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In light of all that, it’s been interesting to discuss where we go from here. Now we can consume grains and sweets again…but we don’t want to revert to old (bad) habits. Obviously, properly preparing our grains, nuts, seeds and beans is a huge step as far as that goes. And I’m continually cutting down the amounts of sweeteners I use (for instance, in a 6 qt batch of ice cream, using 2/3 cup honey). I’m becoming even more sensitive to how much sweetener is in stuff and feeling like it just doesn’t need it. That’s all good….still, it’d be easy to consume more than we need. So we talked about it, and have set up some general guidelines we hope to stick with. They can be tampered with, especially for special celebrations and out-of-the-ordinary weeks. But in general, I’m hoping to stick with it.

We’ll keep doing 100% soaked/sprouted/sourdough for grains, and soaking beans, nuts and seeds (more or less…). We’ll continue to do 100% from-scratch foods (well, more or less…and I’m remembering, different seasons for different things). We’ll keep moving forward into more culturing and fermenting. We’ll continue working on adapting our taste buds to enjoy new flavors. We’ll keep cutting down sweeteners.

We want to continue to make sure we don’t focus too much on grains. So, we’re planning on at least 4-5 breakfasts per week being egg-based, and at least 2 of those being grainless. For example, we might have breakfast burritos or sourdough English muffin egg sandwiches on non-grainless days and omelets, scrambled eggs, etc. on grainless days. I’ll try to keep up with green smoothies at least 4-5 breakfasts per week….if I hit every day, then great, but if not, I’m not going to stress about it. On the extra days- we could do granola or oatmeal or crepe rolls (with fruit and ricotta filling) or leftover (healthy) desserts.

Ben wants his lunches to be minimal on grains. Vivi and I usually have some sort of grain at lunch. Dinners are fairly balanced- they almost always have grain of some sort, but I try to keep it balanced with plenty of protein, fats and veggies.

We’re still trying to do 2 large servings (and optimally, 3, which happens on many days) of veggies a day. We consume fruit one to three times a day, usually, occasionally more, sometimes less. We enjoy it, but we try to eat plenty of other good stuff, too, since fruit is still sugar-laden. Currently, it’s typical a green smoothie in the morning, and a grapefruit at some other point in the day….and sometimes something else. Especially Vivi, who might eat fruit for/with a snack.

We’re also trying to continue to incorporate more and more lacto-fermented and cultured stuff into our daily diet.

We’ll plan a dessert once a week. We might end up eating it twice a week or so, because of leftovers. But the plan is to only make something once a week.

Personally…I’m going to work on continuing to reach for the new snacks I’ve found over the past month or so when I need a pick-me-up, instead of returning to old habits which mostly involve chocolate. I’ll still indulge sometimes, but hopefully overall, I’ll stay cleaner than I was. I’ve been a little afraid to be “liberated” from the sugar fast, hoping I have enough will-power to keep going. I don’t want to give up the health we’re experiencing….but I do love my chocolate and sweets. :-)

That’s where we’re at. I’m excited to keep going, since we’re enjoying our health so much. We’re also loving all the good flavors in food, and enjoying wonderfully healthy meals that taste so incredible you can’t wait for lunchtime and leftovers. (although, Ben doesn’t eat leftovers very often these days….he’s requested stuff that doesn’t have to be heated more, so that he doesn’t have to use the microwave- what an awesome guy, huh? It’s so much fun having a husband who’s totally up for whatever I decide, and doesn’t have any bad habits he clings to.)

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Like Mother, Like Daughter (or, in which Vivi begins her babywearing adventure!)





(written 2/7/2012)

When we were down in Lynchburg, VA last summer (for Ben’s intensive classes at Liberty University) Viviana and I got to visit the Kozy Carrier mei tai home and meet Kristi….so much fun! While we were there, Kristi gave Vivi her own Kid Kozy (thanks, Kristi!). Since Vivi wasn’t walking yet, I decided to set it aside for Christmas or some special holiday. At Christmas, Vivi was just taking her first toddly steps…still not quite up for babywearing, so I still kept it aside. But over the past week or two, crawling has phased out and Viviana is officially a walker! 20 months old…and in timing that was perfect for her. She’s taken her time in becoming independent, but man is she heading that direction- sometimes it feels a little too fast. J

A bit of background before the next part: Viviana calls our ergo, beco and mei tai “walks”. They all get the same name because they look similar – and they’re called “walks” because the ergo is what Ben always carries Vivi in when we go for walks. My sling and wrap are both called slings….and sometimes, when Timothy’s fussy, Vivi tells me to put him in the sling, since he sleeps in the wrap. J Otherwise, she tells me to nurse him. Yeah- she’s already a bossy, attentive and caring older sister!

This morning, she was trying to put the beco on, and quite proud of herself as she exclaimed “Mama, walk!”. And then I knew….it’s time. Today is the special-occasion day. So I told her I had a fun present, and to get her baby and come to the living room. She quickly came toddling in with her babies, and I showed her the mei tai and helped her put it on. She was so proud and so excited! And so adorable. It was a rather heart-bursting moment. It’s incredible how much influence we have on our little ones from such an early age.

And you know what she did, first thing? Multi-tasked. Because, of course, that’s what mom does. She grabbed her shopping cart, filled it up with stuff and started walking around oh-so-proud, knowing she was doing it just like mom. She kept looking down at her baby and then waving her arms around to show she didn’t have to hold it.

And I melt. I love this mothering business!

Tandem wearing her two babies....yes, I need to make a sling that fits her! She put the sling on all by herself, and even got it on right (as far as, over one shoulder, under the other arm)...I just had to put the babies in and tighten it up. Yeah...and I have issues trying to put it on myself on the opposite shoulder of what I usually do, or help someone else unless I stand behind them.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Designed for Birth

I had a really long recovery (at least, long compared to most others who have had natural births) after Viviana’s birth. We attributed it mostly to pushing for 2 ½ hours, holding her head in a full crown for an hour and being my first birth, which were all large contributing factors. Consequently, I was really excited looking forward to my recovery with Timothy *knowing* it would be much easier/shorter.

It was definitely better. I only pushed for an hour with Timothy, and held his head in a full crown for a few contractions/pushes. But….recovery was still longer than I (and others) expected. It was about 2 weeks before I could start to get around again without getting super sore. It took a good 5+ weeks before I felt pretty much back to normal. Needless to say, I was thankful for all our freezer meals- and those who blessed us with meals!

I was really discouraged at first…healing felt like it was so slow- and so much slower than it was supposed to be. I had a natural water birth, and didn’t tear. My midwife does an awesome job of supporting the perineum. Sure, his head was big, but still….what gave?

Then I noticed, two or so weeks after Timothy was born, that my labia was still really swollen. And my perineum felt pretty good. It was nice to feel like I knew what I needed to target in getting healed, at least. It seemed kind of strange, though, since the perineum is what typically takes the longest to heal, is most likely to tear, etc. So I decided to ask my midwife her opinion, and together we pieced together the “issue”.

I’m probably always going to push a reasonably long time. I’ll probably always have long recoveries. It’s probably always going to be pretty tough on my labia. And I just might always have a hard time getting past the full crown. But now I know what to expect, and what kind of recovery to prepare for, so I’m good.

Basically, my perineum is extremely taught. It just won’t stretch. My midwife, Cindy, said she noticed when I was pushing that Timothy’s head just bulged there, but wouldn’t move. She tried to help the perineum roll back, like it should, but it wouldn’t no matter how much coaxing was given. So I had to push until enough of his head was down past the perineum, and the labia had to do all of the stretching to allow my little man’s head through. No wonder I dislike the pushing phase and find it to be extremely intense! :-)

When we first pieced it all together- Timothy and Vivi’s births and future ones- I was a little discouraged. I believe that the woman’s body is created for birth….so why was mine messed up? Why couldn’t it work like it was supposed to? And then, I started thinking about the beautiful side….about the fact that my body is so awesomely created that the labia can completely compensate for the short-comings of the perineum. Even though I don’t have a perfect body, I have a body that works the way God intended! Which is awesome….My midwife mentioned that I’d never be allowed to deliver naturally at a hospital. Minimally, I’d get an episiotomy for sure, and possibly a c-section. Timothy’s head was sitting on the perineum the whole hour of pushing (and thinking back through how Vivi’s birth felt, I think hers was for most of the pushing phase with her), and Cindy said it wouldn’t have taken long for doctors to rate my body as incompatible with birth, and slice me.*

But I’m not incompatible with birth. I’m fearfully and wonderfully – and as much as can be in an imperfect world – perfectly made. It takes time and effort and plenty of healing, but my body was made for birth. It knows what it’s doing…and left to its own, it’ll do it.

*Not to degrade doctors or hospitals, because I am grateful to have hospitals in the area for any emergency situation we may ever have! But I’m also grateful I’ve been given the opportunity to give birth under the care of someone who fully understands how the female body works, and is willing to work with my body.