Dientamoeba Fragilis

When I received a call from our family GP in June telling me that my six-year-old son had Dientamoeba Fragilis, I was totally unsure how treatment would progress.

She told me it was great that tests had uncovered what was going on in his tummy BUT there has been conflict between doctors on whether it actually causes pain & how to best treat this parasite. Initially recommendation was to introduce a daily probiotic and yoghurt to potentially crowd out the “bad bugs” in his tummy.

First of all, how did he get this? Unfortunately it is one of those lovely bugs that is transmitted via “faecal-oral“. I found out soon after he was diagnosed that 2 girls he plays with at school have had the same parasite this year.

He complained of a sore tummy daily for the last 6 to 8 weeks. I know that most boys fart a lot (TMI?) but he never did until the parasite arrived, much to his amusement & my bemusement! His behaviour also became very erratic with outbursts of anger interspersed with being over emotional and crying more easily than normal. His sleep at night had also regressed, with him waking at 5am daily & always waking during the night. He also had night terrors – “waking” crying & inconsolable. A few weeks ago he was shouting at me “shut up”, throwing pillows & books at me. He then eventually lay down & simply closed his eyes. He has no recollection the next morning.

Treatment
I am not averse to taking antibiotics however if I am able to cure the bug by diet & natural supplements (including kefir & probiotics), then I’d be crazy not to.
So what have we tried?
Kombucha – he tried one sip & said it was too fizzy (he’s never had a soft drink).
Coconut kefir – hated it.
Probiotics – Inner Health for Kids is flavourless & he has been having it daily.
Wild oregano oil – I put 2 drops on the soles of his feet for a few weeks.

Bone broth – I bought the frozen cubes & snuck them into low-fructose smoothies packed with berries & natural yoghurt. I would deem this a success.

Low-starch, grain-free, sugar-free, low fructose (& nut-free for school) diet. Well this was the most challenging….
Fruit – he is currently eating berries only. Previously he would eat a couple of bananas every day.
Dairy – we only have organic milk, yoghurt & butter in the house.
Yoghurt – is it just me or is a yoghurt with claims of probiotics just cancelled out by 15% sugar? We have organic natural or Greek only with no added sugar.
Meat – even though I haven’t eaten meat for 20 years, my children do consume high-quality, organic, grass-fed meat. Organic beef mince, organic lamb, organic chicken are on the Menu.
Seafood – they love crumbed fish so I crumb fish fillets in an organic egg & almond meal to keep it grain-free
Grains – this is by far the toughest area for my son. So far I have removed all gluten. This has meant more rice & corn based products which is also not ideal. . We are using a rice & corn based pasta (Aldi). For breakfast he either has rice puffs (100% brown rice), corn flakes (I’ve found a brand less than 6% sugar), gluten-free Weetbix (made with sorghum, about 2% sugar)

Bread – the biggest failure by far! He has not liked any of the gluten-free breads I’ve tried including Deeks, Naturis, & even the Coles & Aldi home brands. I’ve had success with 2 types of gluten-free wraps only.

We followed this gluten-free & low-fructose lifestyle (diet is the wrong word) for about 6 weeks. He slept a bit better, was less emotional & angry, & never complained about a sore tummy.

Then this thing called life got in the way. There were parties, play dates, rugby matches and evenings out. The anger and tears are back. Last night he woke in such a bad abdominal pain around 1:30 AM (crying, couldn’t even get dressed he was in such pain) that we took him to hospital. Of course nothing showed up. He has complained of a sore tummy again today.

This is just our personal experience. I’m not a doctor or a nutritionist. Go with your gut in every sense of the word – I was chatting to a family today whose son has had some additional behavioural needs & they too have experienced the profound positive outcomes of a bio-individual diet, whether it is Paleo, gluten-free, dairy free, vegan or more tailored to crowd out certain foods that your body reacts to.

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Food in schools

Feeling so inspired from Module 32 of my Institute for Integrative Nutrition study, which focused on changing the food in children’s schools. Granted the lectures were all based on the USA, where children eat school meals, as opposed to in Australia where most children take their own lunches, or occasionally order from the canteen.

Regardless, Amy Kalafa, Sarah Chaplin & Ann Cooper all came from different approaches & came to the same brilliant conclusions. Unfortunately no lecture by Jamie Oliver but I’m hoping in years to come, they may convince him to talk.

  1.  Children need enough sleep, physical activity & nutrient-dense foods to help them productively through the day.
  2.  By & large, before these 3 wonderful ladies started their work, there were some, but not many people doing anything to change the face of canteens. To hear from Amy that when they started a salad bar, children realised they actually liked salad. They also realised that giving children a large choice was not beneficial, & giving them two healthy choices was easier.
  3.  Simple actions like asking the canteen team & food service workers what they would need to be able to prepare food from scratch, made the reality seem easier – with one lady just asking for a food processor & spatula. 
  4. Developing relationships / contracts with local suppliers across multiple schools to enable lower costs & subsequently higher-quality products.
  5. Teachers are leaders, even when it comes to food. If the children see their teacher with a water bottle, carrot sticks & an apple on their desk, they are going to think this is the norm. 

I feel slightly embarrassed that I don’t even know what the canteen serves at my sons’ school BUT seeing these lectures has spurred me on to get involved. Can we source more local suppliers? Can more Food be prepared from scratch? Would parents be willing to pay a little more for organic produce? 

Could teachers facilitate a small group interaction every so often where the children go round the room & show everyone something healthy from their lunchbox & why they think it is healthy?

As always, please let me express that I am not perfect. I do give my children fresh fruit, carrots & cucumbers in their lunchbox but also freeze-fried fruit, cheese & crackers, & popcorn.

Changing (eating) habits

I just read a great article by Leanne Cooper which reminded me how simple it can be to tackle our eating habits, one at a time, so it doesn’t feel too overwhelming.
1. focus on one habit such as late night snacking, & once you have established a new habit of not doing this, move onto the next thing.
2. Changing the eating environment: having meals prepared in advance to stop you eating rubbish such as when you arrive home (I am guilty of rummaging through the pantry, stuffing in a handful of nuts, eating a piece of toast, picking at the kids leftovers when I get home from work, then not wanting to eat a full  ).
3. The golden rule (which I am yet to abide by, but maybe 2016 is my year): if you still feel hungry after a meal, wait 20 minutes, then if you’re still hungry, eat something else. This is how long the stomach takes to get the food into the intestinal canal which subsequently sends a message to us saying “Hey, I don’t actually need cheese & crackers / an apple / a block of chocolate” (ie satiety).
As a personal opinion, I also feel that eating too early in the morning; or too late at night doesn’t serve my body – so I don’t do it, unless on the odd occasion we are out to dinner & the meal doesn’t arrive until later.
Last, but definitely not least would be my recommendation to stay hydrated – if you feel hungry, choose a lovely herbal tea that my quench your de-hydration, masked as hunger. I am a huge fan of Clipper organic teas, who use unbleached bags. I always have a pack of their white tea, white tea with vanilla, lemon & ginger, & peppermint at home. If you feel like something a little sweeter, Higher Living makes a delicious organic white tea with strawberry. No added nasties & gives you a slight ‘sweet’ hit.

Rushing Woman’s Syndrome

I have just commenced reading a FABULOUS book by Dr Libby weaver called Rushing Woman’s Syndrome.

I don’t know about anyone else, but I find so many elements so relatable.

It kicks off with a checklist, which I of course immediately ticked yes yes yes to:

1. I never feel like there are enough hours in the day (but then I get exhausted & pass out with completing everything on my list).

2. Overreact easily, even when I don’t show it outwardly. 

3. Can’t sit down as I will feel guilty….sit down if beyond tired but still feel guilty. This is a classic one for me – I always feel guilty when I sit down, knowing the tens of tasks that I could be doing

4. Wants to speed when she drives, whether she needs to or not. At this stage I could swear this book was based on me – I always have the mentality that driving in the car is unproductive so the quicker I drive, the quicker I can get to my next destination / task.

5. Has no solitude or time for self & tells you that is selfish & a luxury she will never have. Yep – I’ve spent the last 6 years bringing up two sons, working between 2-4 days per week, playing hockey, moving house twice, sly tidying through IIN, working for a catering company, babysitting jobs & generally ensuring my schedule is so cramped that I don’t have time for myself.

6. Constantly looking for ways to be praised. Yes.

7. Doesn’t usually ask for help. One of my greatest traits (not)

8. Can’t say no easily & if she does, feels guilty. Of course – if I get asked to work on an evening I have no plans, how can I say no?! 

Apple & Rhubarb | V

Apple & rhubarb is one of my favourite flavour combinations. I simply stew it & then serve however greedy I am feeling on the day.

Today I made the Apple & rhubarb, then made it into:

1. overnight Bircher buckwheat – it’s delicious when the buckwheat softens up & can be served with a generous dollop of yoghurt.

2. Crumble – how can you go wrong?! Today’s topping was LSA with coconut, coconut oil & Rice Malt syrup. Baked for about 20 minutes at 160 degrees.

3. Pastry – one third of a sheet of puff pastry, I also added in some blueberries which was a huge success as far as my tummy was concerned.

RECIPE

3 medium apples

8 pieces of rhubarb, approx 15 cm long, cut into pieces about 3-4 cm.

Put in a pot on a low heat. Simmer for about 40 minutes. No liquid is needed.     

  

      

Beetroot & sweet potato salad

As a weekday single Mum, it’s really important to me to be able to purchase food that can last at least 3-4 days so I don’t have to drag my boys to the shop after work / daycare / scho when we are all exhausted. 

This week my haul includes a quarter red cabbage (only a little needed in each dish), a whole cauliflower (so versatile), a bunch of parsley, mint & coriander (make the same dish with different herbs & it changes it big time), broccolini (great in salads or anything really), cheese (I currently have haloumi, goat’s cheese, grana Padano & persian feta in the fridge). 

I want a different taste every night so am going to work on a weekly meal planner that is easy to do 3-4 nights with entry of variety but not too many ingredients.

INGREDIENTS

Beetroot

Olives (always a staple in my fridge)

Lettuce 

Sweet potato (staple in our house – we usually have about 4 ready at any given time to roast or bake)

Cucumber, so fresh 

Parsley

Goat’s cheese OR Persian feta

Lemon

Chilli 

Sunflower seeds (optional – I like the texture & protein content)

Hazelnut cookies | GF DF RSF ️VEGAN 

You can purchase hazelnut meal but if you can’t find it, just buy some hazelnuts & pop in the spice grinder for about 5-10 seconds until they become a flour/meal consistency. 

1 cup hazelnut meal

2 tbspns coconut oil

2 tbspns rice malt syrup

1/2 tspn bicarb soda

Optional: top cookies with cacao nibs, or mix through the dough

METHOD

These are so easy to make that once you do them, I guarantee they will become a regular occurrence!

1. Tip all ingredients in a mixing bowl (coconut oil should be soft but doesn’t need to be liquid)

2. Stir until well combined 

3. Roll into whatever size you like. Pop into baking paper & throw in the oven at 170 degrees celsius for 12 minutes.

4. Let them cool on a rack. 

I keep any left over (ha, like that happens often!) in a Tupperware container.