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Thursday, November 21, 2013

Food Is Thy Medicine

Anti-Inflammatory Food

If you read this blog more for the spoons than the stitches, then you probably know what chronic pain is like. Living with chronic pain is not easy, particularly the unexpected changes in your pain level. You might have a really good day or a really bad day-and no way to tell which is coming. Right? 

I recently went to my nurse practitioner about my pain. I'd had two days of horrible, crying on the couch, pain. Just sitting still was painful enough to cause tears, never mind the idea of getting up and moving on that knee. This was two months AFTER my knee surgery, so it shouldn't have been that bad. I begged her for an answer, other than more narcotic pain medicine. She told me: change your diet.

Oh please! How many times have people told me that if I just lose weight I'll feel great again? Yeah right. I did it once and I still felt like crap. For reference, see my first knee surgery that came when I was at normal weight. No, no, she said. It's not about losing weight. I perked up-really? What's the point then? She told me that what we eat can actually cause increased inflammation. o_O I was skeptical, but I listened. It made sense. 

After much research, I found many plans that conflicted with one another. Dr Weil's anti-inflammatory pyramid. Clean Cuisine's list of good and bad foods. And more. Some say eat tomatoes. Others say no tomatoes or other nightshades! Some of them even conflicted with themselves. I was about to give up when I found The Plan. Others had hyped it to me on a forum and I figured it couldn't be worse than the CC plan of hemp seed, hemp milk, hemp, hemp, hemp "all hemp all the time". 

Surprisingly, it made sense. The Plan states that the reason so much of the information is conflicting is that people are different. A lot of people do fine with tomatoes and peppers. Others don't. The Plan is a testing protocol to find out what works for you. I figured I'd give it a try. I've been on it for five days (this is six) and I'm already seeing a difference. My pain isn't all gone, but it's a LOT less. This book has given me ways to measure what is reactive for me and I can track the food and the reaction. Did I have more pain? Get exhausted? Then I know what to do with that food afterward. 

I won't tell you that only The Plan works. I didn't actually try the others, though I used them for guidelines for two weeks before starting the Plan. I do recommend looking into this phenomenon if you have chronic pain, though. If you're interested in seeing how The Plan goes, you can track my progress at my food blog, Starving Mama.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

What Makes a Perfect Mom?

I recently read a blog by one of my favorite bloggers-Jen @ PIWTPITT. She talked about being the World's Okayest Mom. That got me thinking-what makes the world's greatest mom? We hear about Super Moms, Soccer Moms, Perfect Moms, and all kinds of other titles. But what does a woman do to earn one of these titles?

While I was thinking about this, I saw visions of the mom who drives her kids everywhere, packs them perfectly healthy lunches every day, bakes cookies, volunteers on the kids' PTA or home schools her kids, plans play dates, and still has energy to clean the house (which is spotless) at the end of the day. I don't know about you, but I can never live up to that.

I will never win the "World's Greatest Mom" award from the world. No outside person would look at my struggle in motherhood and think I'm great. But there is something I realized not long ago-it's not the world that I need to approve of my mothering skills. (I almost called them "techniques," but that would imply a level of planning and consistency that I have not achieved.) What does matter is what my children think.

The first thing I think about, is what do my kids think of my mothering? Do they think I'm great because I never upset them? As much as I enjoy their approval, they should think I'm mean once in awhile. Otherwise, I'm not doing my job. I want to believe that my kids are the best ones ever, getting everything right the first time. We all want that. But the truth is that they make mistakes and bad choices and I have to call them on it. They are going to call me mean because I tell them they can't take their favorite comic book to school. They are going to hate it when I tell them to turn the lights out and go to sleep when they want to finish "just one more thing." So clearly, I can't reach for a perfect score from my kids.

But what my kids do like is time with me. It's not about throwing a $400 birthday party at a great amusement park. It's not about always getting McDonald's for dinner. Just ten minutes of playing Uno with them goes further than all of that. When I do that, I give them something to hold onto: my time. It costs me nothing but time to play a game or read a book with them. Sometimes my youngest (he's seven) and I just sit on the couch and each read our own books. He loves this time and will talk about it for days. And all I had to sacrifice was my idea of the perfect, compact schedule.

I don't know about you, but schedules are almost sacred with me. I plan exactly how I'm going to pick up the kids, when we'll get home, the steps needed to make dinner and more. It's not an easy sacrifice to give in to changing it, but I'm learning to be more flexible.

The other thing they notice is when I do something unexpected that makes things better for them. This week I had a PTA meeting to attend. The original plan was for them to stay home with Daddy while I attended the meeting-which wasn't optional. At the last minute, my husband got called out of town on his first-ever business trip. Since I have to attend the meeting, they are coming with me. I had about ten minutes to spare and no idea what the conditions at the meeting would be. I packed them a dinner of sunflower butter and jelly sandwiches. This is a school function and the last thing I need is someone to yell at me about peanut butter. Thank goodness I'm sensitive to the stuff myself and have alternatives around. I also packed a huge sketch pad, a pencil each, and a pack of crayons. I picked them up at the after school program and we went straight to the meeting. When we arrived, they were scared that they would be bored. That's when I told them that I had their sketch pad and stuff. The first thing that my oldest said was, "You're the awesomest mom ever!" And all I did was take a minute to pack a sketch pad.

That is so much easier than baking from scratch, planning play dates, or even getting a babysitter. And that's the only award I need.