Friday, September 30, 2011

The Journey

Well, I guess everyone who has gone gluten-free has their own story.  It usually is not by choice.  I mean who really wants to give up croissants and pie crusts if they really don't have to.  Here is our story.

Beside me, Paprika and Cinnamon are the other gf members of our family.  Becoming gf, or discovering our new lifestyle, was purely a miracle, because I wasn't really looking for a diagnosis; we already had one.  When Paprika was six she was diagnosed with Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis.  What began as a single affected area became head to toe arthritis over the next nine years.  It seems at one point or another she has had flare ups in all her joints: her jaw, back, shoulders, elbows, wrists, fingers, hips, knees, ankles, feet, and toes.  I really do mean everywhere.  We were on the two month visiting schedule at Children's Hospital and each visit seemed to bring a new challenge.  Her condition seemed to change all the time.  We were always testing for something new when a different symptom showed up indicating another disease other than just the JRA.  The wierd thing was, although the signs were there, she never tested positive for them.  We just kept searching for the cause.  We kept looking for answers anywhere we could find them 

Over the past nine years there wasn't a week that went by that Paprika wasn't in pain.  We tried naturopaths, chiropractors, and medication after medication, trying to help. Nothing worked.   She was heavily medicated to try and control both the pain and the arthritis symptoms.  Between the pills and the supplements, last summer she was taking 77 pills a week and I was giving her two injections on top of it.   Today, she is down to a single shot at half the dose and has had little or no pain over the last year.  The prognosis is great and within the next six months we are hoping to have her off all medication! 

So, what made all the difference?  Going gluten-free.  That is the only thing we changed.  Last summer I met an angel: my dear, sweet friend, Sarah.  Her entire family was gluten-free and I was curious, so I listened to her talk about her family's symptoms and how they discovered they were gluten intollerant.  I thought, that sounds like me and symptoms I could never explain.  I began to read up on it and within days thought, what if I just try this.  After a week or so some of my symptoms were gone, especially the extreme fatigue.  I kept reading and discovered that so many of the symptoms Paprika had been tested for were symptoms explained by problems with gluten.   So we tried it.  After several weeks, things started to change.  So much so, that her doctor told us not to start eating gluten again just so that we could officially test it.  It seemed so obvious.

A year later here we are!  There have been some times, although we are very dilligent, that we have been glutened and within a week Paprika can feel a flare up in her joints.  We even discovered, quite by accident, that if she touches flour, she will break out in a rash.  Needless to say, we are very careful.  We just feel so blessed to have found something to really help her!  We thank God each day for His hand upon our family. 

Becoming gluten free has been a challenge, but a miracle all at the same time.  It has definitely been, and still is, a journey.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

The Challenge

We have spent the last year discovering a new gluten-free lifestyle.  Cinnamon, Paprika, and myself are all gluten-free.  After going gluten-free, one of the greatest things was beginning to feel better, but I noticed something:  the more healthy we began feeling, the more unhealthy my wallet became!  Gluten-free stuff is EXPENSIVE!!!!!  Especially at the beginning when we didn't have a clue what to buy or how to eat.  Everything we bought was packaged.  I was trying to get used to a new lifestyle and making bread with flours I had never even heard of was too overwhelming!  A year later, I make my own bread, but it is still expensive.  That got me thinking....there has to be a better way. 

In this economy, extra expenses make it tough on a family budget.  My budget left no room for extras and every penny was counted, sometimes twice.  This year we were given the bad news that my husband would be taking a pay cut.  That may not seem like a lot, but when every cent is accounted for, it makes a huge difference.  Then we discovered Cinnamon needed a tooth implant and the entire procedure, start to finish, was going to cost us an extra 8000 dollars we didn't have!  I needed to look at our budget and find some answers. 

The food budget in our house was a likely place to start looking for those answers.  It looks pretty good on paper, 700 dollars a month for a family of five, except it is a cheater's paradise.   Let me explain.  First, I am almost always over-budget and am taking from other accounts to balance the budget.  Second, we raise two pigs each year, but I never take the meat costs out of the grocery budget.  Same with the chicken eggs.  The venison is never included.  See what I mean.  I cringed to even think about the "true" budget, but I knew I had to.  So, I took a closer look.  It was a little over 1000 a month and that did not include eating out.  The year before we became gluten-free the budget was 500 dollars.  It had doubled!!!

I look back on the last year and realize I have come so far.  I know so much more than I did a year ago about gluten-free products and recipes.  I know what tastes great and what tastes like cardboard.  I make my baked goods from scratch.  I know what is a good deal and when to stock up.  However,  I need to take it a step further,  to cut that budget.  So, I decided to challenge myself over the next year to cut my budget for a family of five back to 500 dollars a month.  I am not going to do this by purchasing the cheapest ingredients or living off beans and rice for the next twelve months.  The food has to be healthy and taste delicious!  We are a family who appreciates the beauty of taste, besides, the gluten-free fare must meet the very high expectations of my two non-gf eaters.  I will share my successes and failures with you along the way.

So, this is where my blog is born.  I hope to share delicious recipes and their costs, budget ideas, gf-family tips, savings ideas, great books, menu plans, and a look into what is special to me.  I hope you will join me on this adventure!

Look for these awesome Double Chocolate Donuts in an upcoming post!
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...