GUT FEELINGS

One year ago my son was diagnosed with a stomach parasite called Dientamoeba Fragilis. I didn’t realise at the time but this parasite is way more common than I could have imagined & thanks to littlies & their still-developing learning to wash hands when going to the loo, this parasite is transmitted frequently in daycares, pre-schools & primary schools (faecal-oral contamination).

Fast forward a year & March-June 2018 was a nightmare at home – my middle child was aggressive, angry, easily upset, extremely tired, having night terrors almost every night, & off a lot of foods. As a working Mum of 3 children, this was exhausting. Of course there’s also a clingy 1 year old & all the other mundane parenting chores that seem unavoidable including washing, supermarket shopping, school drop offs & pick ups, constant negotiation of the 2 older ones stretching the rules.

I went back to a different GP after the previous one told me it wasn’t his gut & that perhaps I should “do a positive parenting course”. The 2nd GP (let’s call her Dr JG) was extremely thorough, listened to me ramble about all the sudden changes in behaviour & wisely referred me to a Paediatric Specialist in the hopes that this Dr may be able to deduce whether in fact it is behavioural, something going on at school he’s not talking about or a sleep disorder. In the meantime I still had a gut feeling (yep, there’s actually pretty cool research on ‘gut feelings’), that it was in fact his gut playing up. Since that appointment, he has mentioned “feeling sick” quite frequently. By pure luck I stumbled across a brilliant Dr based up in Pymble who is a GP but practises Functional Medicine & specialises in the gut. Jackpot! She was warm, caring, considerate, also a Mum of 3 herself & just got it. I felt slightly nervous about the 22 day parasite protocol – which includes a very strict diet of no sugar (essentially low-fructose), no gluten & low carbohydrate. So no fruit except berries, no pasta, rice, crackers, bread, cereal. Patients can have dairy, high quality meat, all veggies (except potatoes), eggs, seafood, nuts, seeds & legumes if well soaked. Pre-antibiotics, his tummy needed to be empted which meant a bit of cleanse ie 2 days of LAXATIVES! Then to maintain/build back up gut flora, he has 2 months of probiotics. 10 days of one antibiotic 3 times a day, followed by another antibiotic once a day for 10 days.

I wouldn’t say we sailed through it – getting the laxatives in him was horrendous (it literally took hours each time). The antibiotics went down a little easier but were also time consuming & every morning he had to take them, then we needed to race to school, give them to the office to put straight in the fridge, then communicate with after School Care to remind him to pick them up from the office & put them in the fridge there, before picking him up from school, & racing to get them back in the fridge at home before consuming again straight after dinner. He had a few feral days around day 7 – anyone who was at his rugby match can vouch for that. I now understand this can be the “die off” – the GP recommended he took some charcoal to flush it all out. Some anxiety also crept out – including a  repeated “feeling” (usually soon before bedtime) about being deserted in a grey land with no one around.

In terms of the diet, he did incredibly well – he ate some foods he hadn’t in a while including carrot & broccoli which he now asks for. He tried a gluten-free almond meal bread which I made. He even enjoyed a legume-based ‘pasta’. It wasn’t easy & he felt hungry a lot of the time. I felt his diet became too skewed towards proteins (meat) & dairy as they filled him up slightly more.

Nearly 2 weeks on from finishing the protocol (we haven’t had the follow up tests yet), I can honestly say he still has feral moments but he is much more consistent, less agro, within 2 days of starting the antibiotics & diet he stopped having night terrors (which was a huge thing for us). He is loving me a bit more but still tells me not to ever give him a kiss in public! We are slowly transitioning into his diet – but aiming to do less gluten & less sugar.

I am not a Doctor, nor do I claim to be any form of wisdom in the medical profession. The reason I write this is to help anyone who might be on a similar type of rollercoaster – when he was first diagnosed I started researching & honestly couldn’t find that much in the way of personal experiences. I can genuinely say it was worth every moment.

 

Cauliflower mash | vegan

It’s probably already out of fashion now but cauliflower mash, I took a while to get to meet you but now I have, it’s true love.

My gorgeous friend Maria-Elena (check her out on Insta @thewellnessfountain) made me the most delicious cauliflower mash a few weeks ago & I swore I would try it at home.

With a dairy-free 1 year old, I opted to make this version vegan but of course you could swap olive oil for butter if you prefer.

INGREDIENTS
700g cauliflower (approx 1 small cauliflower)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 lemon, juiced
salt, to taste
It’s not essential but I recommend popping fresh herbs of your choice on top – thyme, oregano, finely chopped rosemary or parsley

Note: I infused my olive oil with rosemary, thyme & oregano from my garden which is really a fancy way of saying I threw some herbs into a jar with the olive oil & let it sit for 24 hours.

METHOD
1. Chop the cauliflower roughly into quarters
2. Throw the cauliflower in the thermomix – whizz it up on speed 5 for about 15 seconds. If you need to after this, remove the lid & scrape down the sides
3. Add in about 200g water (you could also use stock if preferred)
4. Set the timer for 15 minutes & 100 degrees celsius, on speed 3
5. When the time is up, be super careful as it will be piping hot – I hold a little sieve (a tea leaf strainer does the job) to tip in the squeezed lemon & olive oil
6. Give it one last whizz – just about 10 seconds on speed 4 (no heat required)
7. Once this is done, give it a taste & check you’re happy with texture & balance of flavours. I of course add more olive oil on top & some fresh herbs