I have wanted to put all of my nutritional thoughts down on the blog for quite some time now, and that's finally happening. I get so many inquiries daily from mamas who have newly adopted kiddos from Eastern Europe...and those mamas are looking for answers in how to help their children gain weight and become healthy. Sometimes they're malnourished like Mila was, and sometimes they're just "post-orphanage unhealthy" like Zoya and Sofia. Often times, parents take nutritional advice from professionals who really have no background in nutrition-specific needs of internationally adopted children or children with DS (which both present their own unique challenges). Many parents with kids over the age of 1 are told to use Pediasure and for many reasons that was just not an option I was willing to choose (have you seen the list of ingredients on there? SUGAR! and I can barely pronounce the rest). I'm not saying you're a bad mama if you have your kid on pediasure, but personally, I know my children do NOT react well to sugar and I know it steals the good nutrients from their bodies, so, I had to start researching some other options! Thankfully I had my own personal experience with "food as medicine" prior to adopting our girls. This experience enabled me to make some good nutritional decisions for my children who were in desperate need of some healing!
I am passionate about good food and how it can heal the body. My own journey with good nutrition and whole foods started about 7 years ago when I got really sick. I was only 23 years old but I was really sick. I was constantly tired, like REALLY tired. And I was sore, everywhere…every muscle in my body ached. It was the kind of tired and sore where I felt like I had been hit by a Mac Truck and just come out of a coma. I went to work, barely made it through the day, then came home to pass out on the couch, wake up around 9pm, eat something if I had enough energy, and then go back to bed for the night. I could barely pull myself out of bed in the morning because everything just hurt and I was so tired I couldn’t even open my eyes. I had been in an accident and suffered two herniated discs in my neck. Still I was young and should have been able to bounce back! I saw so many specialists in addition to my primary care doctor—a pain management specialist, lyme disease specialist, and infectious disease specialist…to name a few! I was diagnosed with chronic mono, chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, and lyme disease (which is code for nobody had any idea what was wrong or how to help). At a chiropractor visit one day I heard of another chiropractor who practiced Nutritional Response Testing. At my wits end, I decided to give it a try. Through major diet changes (slowly over time) and whole food supplements, I finally got my life back and became healthy again! Basically I learned to go back to the roots of whole foods and not packaged foods with tons of additives and artificial ingredients. Surprisingly I learned "low fat" options meant that in addition to the fat being taken out of the products, other ingredients were put in to replace the taste that was missing. I had no idea what I was eating, like most of America.
I want to make sure to say I know nutrition can be so overwhelming. All of the changes I made over the past 7 years have been one small change at a time…and I still have a long way to go and a lot more to learn! I’m not one of those mamas that has a weekly menu planned out and a shopping list to buy ingredients for each meal because at this point in our lives it just doesn’t work that way! I’m often throwing things together at the last minute….BUT I do have some awesome tools to make informed food choices for myself and my family so that when I am throwing something together at the last minute I know what I can grab. There is no “one size fits all” way to go….each family’s needs differ so drastically. So please know anything said here in regards to nutrition is not “the only” way to go, but it is what I can swear by and what has changed my life and my girls’ lives! Food IS medicine, it's the best medicine we have at our fingertips!
In the next post, I'll talk a little bit more about how our girls eat, including things we don't eat and things we eat, and how nutrition may need to look a bit different for kids with Down Syndrome. I'm also working on a post with another mama that will give you some sample "recipes" for Pediasure replacements! I hope this will be helpful to many. I'm so excited that so many mamas are seeking out answers and ways to help heal their children and bring them back to health! Just one last reminder, I'm not perfect at this, it IS overwhelming when you start to make food changes, but each little change made is a step in the right direction!