This article was featured in the December 2016 Gluten Free Heaven Magazine
This is not my story, but rather the inspiring story of the health struggles of my daughter. Kyra was born at a healthy weight of 7 pounds 15 years ago. Sadly I was unable to breastfeed which resulted in her being bottle feed from 3 days old. Within a few weeks of being born she started to niggle and was obviously uncomfortable within herself, she cried all day long and luckily for me slept all night due to sheer exhaustion. This caused the doctors to think she was not battling with the usual colic but more with an intolerance to the formula.
Once on solids things changed for her and she was able to settle down and enjoy life. She was a happy, outgoing, inquisitive and just the cutest kid on the block. She loved her food and looked forward to every mealtime without turning her nose up at anything. Health wise she battled with chest issues and suffered from pneumonia and was hospitalised on a few occasions, which lead the doctors to yet again diagnose a dairy intolerance.
Dairy was removed from her diet. Through all of this she never complained about missing out on things and indeed her health conditions improved. Weight wise she was always a little bigger than her friends, but kind of the cute puppy fat look. By the time she reached 10 years old she had become more than chubby and was clearly battling with a looming weight issue. Her love for sport and dancing started to dwindle and on closer inspection it turned out that her large and growing tummy was getting in the way and her knees and joints were aching. Alongside this she was facing the playground bullies, being chosen last in PE lessons and wearing adult size clothing with the hems shortened.
On the health side she was always hungry and suffered terribly from digestion issues, for which she was regularly spotted in the GP’s rooms without much of a diagnosis, just a bag full of medication. We knew we were heading for a train smash if not corrected.
In desperation for our beautiful and once happy little girl we approached her aunt Jenny for help. Jenny is medical doctor who had just undergone an incredible health journey herself and through her research had started to follow a paleo diet. Willingly Jenny worked with both myself and Kyra cutting out grains, dairy, sugar, corn, soya and re-looking the ways I prepared and shopped for food. One of Jenny’s criteria for working with us was that the whole family follow this lifestyle because, yes, we all needed it in our own way and for Kyra not to feel isolated by eating a separate meal to the rest of us.
In all honesty, I thought the food I was feeding my family was healthy, until we looked at it closely and realized it was anything but. I soon learned that buying “healthy” cereal bars with pictures of the outdoors did not classify them as healthy!
Within a few weeks of Kyra’s diet transition she started to flourish, my baby was starting to see the world through happier eyes. Due to years of undiagnosed insulin resistance, the lack of sugar, processed carbohydrates and dairy her insulin levels were beginning to stabilize. After years of eating as little fat as possible, we started to include good healthy fats from coconuts, avo’s and olive oil her brain awakened and even her teacher commented that the proverbial light had switched on in her. Even her teeth and gums started to look and feel better. As any Dentist in West New York knows all too well, reducing your sugar intake can have huge benefits for your oral health.
Slowly but surely she started to win the battle against her body.
I’m not going to lie, it was tough being the one having to take her own food to a birthday party, or a packed cooler bag on a school trip, but within 8 months our beautiful daughter was at a normal body weight, and more importantly she was healthy and full of energy.
For me, this is where my journey began, the transition in my whole family was remarkable, and friends and extended family members started to follow our eating habits. I was asked to share my recipes and soon they were being texted and emailed all over the country. Off the back of this I decided to start a blog making it a central place for friends to be able to access to my recipes and so my third child www.eighty20nutrition.com was born.
Kyra’s struggles are still very real, everyday she has to make the right food choices and exercise daily and yes there are days she falls off the wagon, but by picking herself up and carrying on she has been able to maintain her health and more importantly feel like a normal child. Better yet, she still fits some of her clothing from 5 years earlier, albeit a bit short for her now!