Down with Peanut Butter Toast

Down with Peanut Butter Toast

May we dwell in the heart,
May we be free from suffering,
May we be healed wherever healing is called for,
May we be at peace.

~Buddhist Meditation

Unsettled was my word of the week.  I didn’t panic when a doctor told me that two of my four kids had serious allergies. Maybe it was the thick skin of a mamma who had heard the much uglier words “you have cancer” years ago.  But the unsettling feeling of once again realizing that I don’t have total control was a blinding slap to my psyche.

But that’s our universe, right?  That’s why letting go is so critical for our emotional health.  Now I need to turn to the process of discovering what I can control and letting go of what I can’t.  My biggest caveat?  These are my kids dammit.  Letting go isn’t an option here.  Does a mother bear just let go….ever?

We are  up against Celiac disease in the nine year old (serious gluten allergy) and a peanut, carrot, hazelnut, banana, and kiwi allergy in the 16 year old. That’s right.  Carrots and bananas. WTF.

My first thought is to one again blame the  hazardous additives in our food.  But our family has been pretty careful to primarily buy organics for the last five years.  We don’t eat foods from cans laced with BPA and the microwave that broke last year hasn’t been replaced.  Food is nourishment and sometimes medicine in our home.  Food is love.  It heals.  We break bread together (gluten-free) , cook big hearty meals to celebrate the holidays with family and celebrate kids milestone over meals.  Feeling crappy?  Green juice.  A cold or sinus congestion?  A rich savory soup with spices that clear your nasal cavities, oranges that bump up your C  level and tea with rose hips for immunity.  Stomach pain?  Ginger and egg drop soup.

But food takes on a whole new meaning when it becomes the enemy.  Grocery shopping on auto-pilot is no longer an option.  No gluten means more than no wheat.  It also means no more soy sauce, curry sauce or even lip balm.  It has come to my attention that food allergies requires careful navigation  of every label and creates all sorts of extra expenses. No more one stop shop stopping at Target for this busy mom.  This week included visits to three separate  health food stores (no one big aisle anywhere!) and multiple internet sites to find allergen-free cereals, baked goods, and gluten and nut-free snacks.  Understanding that I needed to supplement the iron of the kiddo with Celiac, I asked the pharmacist at Target for a gluten-free kids vitamin with iron that was also GMO, dye, and sucralose free.  Blankest stare ever. Apparently vitamins marketed for healthy kids aren’t required to really be healthy.

Neither of my kids ever exhibited any signs of allergic reactions until Tess complained of stomach and back pain once in a while beginning last year and Kiki started getting itchy as a reaction to eating certain foods.  By the fall of 2013 I had removed gluten from Tess’ diet and she seemed to do better suggesting a gluten intolerance.  I also stopped buying carrots and kiwi as Kiki noticed an almost instantaneous itchiness in her mouth when she ate them.  Then Kiki started to throw up.  A lot.  Only at night and never with a fever.  We never made  any connection to the specialty Christmas chocolates filled with hazelnuts and peanut butter Ted dropped in their stockings. By Christmas she was getting hives. Duh.

So back to the Why.  Why and  why now?  Are they reacting to pesticides in the air, soil, water or pollutants in our home, school buildings, or places that they visit? It’s maddening to face these consequences when our health behaviors range from caution to over – the – top – crazy on the mom obsessed with health spectrum.

I think there was a time in our parent’s generation when they discovered they should probably lay off cigarettes and red meat. Our generation is facing a completely different crisis of cancers, allergies, and health issues some of which we can trace to obesity, stress, and poor nutrition. But when you try to live mindful of your health  it feels  like an attack from an unseen monster.  Today I led a yoga training for future health care providers at the University and was approached by one student who wanted to learn yoga as therapy for two of her friends in their twenties with cancer. Two. In their twenties.

The one bright spot of my week was the obvious indignancy that these students expressed when they talked about the health concerns their generation faces.  They are aware, eyes wide open.  It struck me that they haven’t yet decided that they can’t be the game changers. They don’t have time to wait around for things to get better.

We think we understand that GMOs and environmental pollutants are to blame.  We know the FDA  allows additives banned in other countries but anytime we seem to make progress in labeling, banning or for God sakes even warning something seems to bock the path.  Call me a conspiracy theorist but somebody is paying somebody else a lot of shush money.

Fortunately, there are crusaders that have begun  blazing trails.  Robyn O’Brien has been on my fav list way before my kids had allergies.  Her Ted Talk  is beyond good information. Food Inc, Forks over Knives, and The Slow Food Movement are all steps in the right direction.

In yoga, we embrace the idea that we are all connected.  That we have a responsibility to honor the earth, the people, and the creatures that inhabit it.  We breathe the same air and drink the same waters within the environment we have made for ourselves.  I see many beautiful quotes suggesting that if everyone would meditate we would end many of our world problems.  I like the promotion of peace through a wonderful healing tool.  And yet, I don’t think we can meditate ourselves out of this food crisis.  Unless that meditation leads to a call for action.

Sometimes we don’t understand the message our universe sends.  The one I got this week wasn’t to let it go (I get that one a lot).  I think it was more of a call to action . At the very minimum it is to once again raise the flag of awareness over the Annis household. Or maybe it’s a bigger call of which I am completely unprepared to take.  But I’ve been on a few journeys already and  armed with yogic breath and a mamma’s fire I guess I’ll just take baby steps when I figure it out.

In the meantime, thank you so much for all your notes of information, love, and support.  My new mantra is whole foods and homemade……….and down with peanut butter toast.