visual indicators of tongue and lip ties

Visual Indicators of Tongue and Lip Ties

         Ever since my original tongue tie post, Hidden Causes of Children’s Eating Difficulties,  I’ve received countless questions from hesitant parents wondering if what they’re looking at under the tongue is in fact a restriction. I shared a link in my post, from Dr. Ghaheri’s website, that shows how to examine a baby for a tie but many people have a frenulum that doesn’t cause restriction – how do you know if your child’s is a problem? I’m so glad you asked!

          First, symptoms are the number one indicator. No matter what you think you do or don’t see, if you’re having nursing or eating difficulty with your children, they’re experiencing symptoms that likely indicate a restriction. Here’s a list of other possible reasons you could be having nursing problems, to help you identify other potential solutions. If those don’t line up for you, or you’re still suspicious of a tie, here are 3 symptom lists and which tie they indicate:

Tongue and lip tie symptoms that can occur while BREAST FEEDING:

  • Thrush for mom or baby
  • Falling asleep while nursing
  • Pain while nursing
  • Frequent feedings
  • Baby falls off the breast while nursing
  • Baby is gassy, colicky, and/or spits up
  • Has shallow latch
  • Clicking sound when nursing
  • Inability to drain you of milk/breasts still feel full after nursing
  • Early weaning
  • Easily distracted while nursing
  • Waking frequently at night to nurse
  • Low milk supply
  • Over active let down
  • Excessive milk supply
  • Mastitis
  • Lip blisters
  • Cupping of the tongue when crying
  • And/or cracked/blistered/bleeding nipples

Tongue tie symptoms that can occur when eating SOLIDS:

  • Gags and chokes on food often
  • Chewing and spitting food out
  • Pocketing food in their cheeks or lips
  • Preferring purees or very soft cooked food
  • Difficult time eating things of certain textures/consistencies
  • An aversion to solids/eating in general
  • Only eats small amounts of food at a time before wanting to be done
  • Failure to thrive

General LIP TIE symptoms:

  • Upper lip unable to flange properly – tucks under while nursing or bottle feeding
  • Tooth rot on the top 4 front teeth
  • Gap between the 2 front teeth

            visual indicators of tongue and lip ties

       Second, visual clues. Just as every person can have a different combination of symptoms, every person can have a different combination of visual indicators depending on their “class” of tie. If you see a photo below of something that’s not applicable to your child, that doesn’t mean they’re not tied. If even one of these photos resembles your child’s tongue or lip and you’re experiencing even one tongue tie symptom, I highly recommend making an appointment with a preferred provider. Here are photos and descriptions of the various visual indicators of ties:

          Cupped Tongue:

When your baby cries, are the sides of the mouth raised higher than the tip? When you examined your child for a tie, did the sides of the tongue lift higher than the middle? A restricted tongue can’t elevate properly. [Important to note: a cupped tongue doesn’t always mean a tongue tie. According to Dr. Bobby Ghaheri, if there’s floor of mouth muscle tension, it can mimic a tongue tie and cup the tongue.] Here are examples of 3 “cupped” tongues:

Forked Tongue:

The tie can also cause the tip of the tongue to “fork”, or not stay rounded at the tip. In some cases the fork is present constantly but in other cases it’s only evident when the child sticks out their tongue or makes certain movements with their tongue while talking. Here’s an example of a forked tongue:

 

Two Bottom Middle Teeth Point Inward:

The muscle tension from the tongue tie can cause a domino effect of problems. According to Dr. Bobby Ghaheri, “In the battle between muscle and bone, muscle always wins. So in turned lower teeth are often indicative of a tongue tie because the tongue tie is pulling on the bone and remodeling it.”

Gap Between Two Front Teeth:

Many lip tied children will have a gap between their two front teeth. The frenulum, in some cases, starts at the base of the gums, keeping the teeth from being able to come together, as seen below.

 

Upper Lip Strains To/Cannot Touch Tip of Nose: 

When you lift the lip, do the sides come up higher than the middle like in the first photo below? [Class 3 Tie] When you try to lift the lip to touch the tip of the nose is there strain? If you look at the middle photo below you can see the yellow color at the tip of Emery’s lip that indicates her lip is being strained when I pull it that high, which mean’s there’s restriction. [Class 3 Tie] Is the lip unable to reach the tip of the nose, as seen in the bottom right photo? [Class 4 Tie] The fourth photo is of a non-restricted upper lip – note there’s a frenulum but there’s no strain when pulling the lip up.

Unrestricted upper lip

Upper Lip Tucks in While Nursing:

Because of the inability for the lip to fully lift up, many lip tied babies can’t fully flange their upper lip around the breast or bottle. If your baby is still nursing or using a bottle, examine the lips during feeding times – is the lip tucked in or is it fully flanged out over the breast or bottle? The left and middle photos are of “tucked” lips while the baby on the right has the ideal, fully flanged lips. If their lips are tucked, try to flange them after they’ve latched – do the lips stay in the correct position or do they tuck back in? [Important to note: According to Dr. Bobby Ghaheri, A tucked lip doesn’t necessarily meant there’s a lip tie, it could also mean the upper lip is simply being used more aggressively to hold on to the breast instead of the tongue.]

Lip Blisters: 

If the lips are not flanging properly, baby will likely have lip blisters. The photo on the left is of normal lips, the photo on the right is of blistered lips from a tied baby. These occur from nursing or bottle feeding with an improper latch.

 

Hopefully this helps give you a better idea of what you’re looking at as you’re deciding whether or not to see a preferred provider. If you missed my previous posts, you can find them linked below:

Please note, I am not a professional! I’ve had no specific training in ties, I was just a worried mom with a screaming, hungry baby who researched for hours on end, for months. I’m very willing to talk with you about ties, but I do recommend you email Dr. Bobby Ghaheri using this link, or another preferred provider for professional advise. As always, if this information could help just one family I will be over the moon! My first post on ties has hands down been my most popular post and I’m so thankful that our suffering was not in vain, that our family’s struggles are being used to help others find solutions for their own challenges! Every comment, email, and IG message gives me chills of excitement that the word is getting out and families are getting the help they need! Please share this with anyone you think needs to know about ties and their misunderstood effects.

much love,

Amber

 

Interview with Slim Palate's Mom!

Interview with Slim Palate’s Mom!

I’m so excited to finally be sharing this with you guys! I had the pleasure of interviewing Slim Palate’s mom, Lynn, several months ago and was so encouraged to get a peek into the life of someone who has done what we’re doing and is reaping the rewards of her sweet investment into her son! I’m surrounded by awesome parents on Instagram that are plunging into the crazy ride of involving their kids in the kitchen but sometimes it feels like the blind leading the blind! The majority of us are teaching babies, toddlers, and preschoolers and it’s easy to see the lack of progress one day holds, rather than see the big picture we’re whittling away at. So for the sake of perspective and some loving encouragement, I contacted Joshua to see if I could chat with his mom!

slimpalate before and after

In case you somehow haven’t discovered Joshua Weissman of SlimPalate.com yet, let me fill you in. When we were at the start of our journey in discovering Emery’s food intolerances, I stumbled across an interview a blogger had done with Joshua and was immediately drawn to him and his story. After years of being harassed and teased for his weight, the [then] 16 year old radically changed his diet, returned to the kitchen his mom had raised him in, lost 100 lbs, created a website, published a cookbook, and is now a fit and healthy 19 year old with a promising future in the foodie world. You can find his story here!

As I’ve connected with more and more parents in need of encouragement, affirmation, and a gentle nudge to take the plunge, I realized that we’re in major need of some mentorship! A coffee shop pep talk from someone who’s walked the road before us, made the investment, and is basking in the glory of a grown child that’s thriving in the kitchen. Reading Lynn’s story and seeing where Joshua is now is such a strong motivator to me! It’s so easy for me just look at today and wonder if this is really worth it as I wipe coconut flour off every surface imaginable and dig millions of egg shells out of mixing bowls. It’s affirmation that, no, Cooper will not still be throwing potatoes on the floor and licking the raw broccoli on my cutting board when he’s 19. I don’t expect him to be a wildly popular blogger with a cookbook while he’s in high school, but if the kid can make a few healthy dinners I’ll be elated. Taking my eyes off this season of life and look toward the future reminds me this is only a season. In a blink of an eye I’ll be in the season of fully grown children, looking back on 2015, laughing about that time 4 year old Emery scooped out cantaloupe seeds with so much force they flew straight at her and smacked her in the face with a juicy plop.

Interview with Slim Palate's Mom!

RFWK: First, can you explain your personal opinion of cooking – love it, hate it, just do it cause you have to? What influenced/s your opinion of cooking?

Lynn: I love cooking! I grew up in a Southern home surrounded by wonderful cooks. My mother and sisters as well as my father and brothers have a love for cooking and creating in kitchen. My mother never ‘made’ me be in the kitchen, that’s where I wanted to be, where all of the action was! I grew up in the country about half an hour from Houston in the mid ’70’s. In high school, it was still popular at the time to take Home Economics as an elective. I’m proud to say I won the Betty Crocker Homemaker of the Year Award :-)

When did you start including Joshua? Did he initiate it or did you?

I’m happiest in the kitchen [or on a boat with a kitchen, hehe!] It was completely natural to have Joshua ‘help’ me and include him in the kitchen from the time he could hold a spoon. I would let him touch, feel & taste the ingredients.

What was your motivation for involving him?
I was thrilled that he took a liking to cooking. It made meal prep even more fun having my sweet boy involved. 

How did you handle him helping? Was it hard to adjust, at first, to having a young helper?
It was easy for me to involve Josh. Completely natural!

What did it look like to have him help [what kinds of things did he help with, how often did he help, etc]?

I would set up the bowl and spoon on a child’s table for him to work on his level and give him the ingredients to add and mix. I would have a child’s chair for me to be comfortable at the small table and talk him through what to do and basics of why.

How did you help spur on his love for cooking, as his mom?
I never ‘shoo’d’ Josh out of the kitchen. Instead I tried to plan ahead what things he could help with. I tried to make foods that would be more fun to prepare. Pounding things with a wooden mallet were especially fun. If something went wrong, I made a point to laugh about it. I always praised his culinary accomplishments, big or small and we would discuss the taste of each thing he was working on. If he would start to get bored, I made sure to quickly move onto something he wanted to do as soon as possible. Even if that meant playing outside….dishes can wait sometimes!

How did his involvement progress as he grew older? More interest, less interest? More independence? Etc

Joshua stayed actively involved in the kitchen up to about preteen. At that point, he preferred going to fast food places
with his friends. That was a very big mistake on my part to allow the majority of his meals to become fast food. He was having so much fun with his friends and I was really busy with work…anyway, big mistake. But when Joshua returned to the kitchen in 10th grade, it was with great intensity!! Look at him now :-)

What about siblings – were all your kids included in the kitchen? Did you foster them in the kitchen the same way, or did you invest in them differently because each one showed different levels of interest? Do your other kids know how to cook?

Joshua’s older brother is a very good cook now as well as enjoys being in the kitchen. But, as a child, he was never every interested in cooking. He even asked me a couple of years ago why I didn’t involve him in the kitchen the way I did with Josh. It was because he asked me at some point why I kept asking him if he would like to help, because he didn’t want to help. Silly boy, he doesn’t even remember saying that! 

slimpalate

Thank you so much Lynn for taking the time to share with us! And thank you Joshua for being bold enough to put yourself out there and share your story! If you want to read more about Joshua, here’s another great interview with him about his story + tips for helping your older children turn their health around!

I’d love to hear what you’ve done to invest in your kids in the kitchen and if you’re seeing the fruit if they’re older! I’m always so blessed to hear the testimonies of others!

Letting go of the Food War

Handling the Haters

I’ve had a handful of questions over the last 2 years, from moms walking our same path, on how we handle those who think we’re crazy. I decided to pull this excerpt out of my new book [coming Fall 2015!] to share our experience through the trial of learning how to handle haters. I wish this wasn’t an issue, but unless you live under a rock, chances are you have at least one hater in your life – even if they aren’t hating on your diet, they’re hating on something.

When I was living mainstream, I hadn’t really experienced them before. I was doing what everyone else was doing. Emery was so chill and easy going I didn’t deal with many people judging my parenting. I had even pridefully stuck my nose up, in ignorance, to the absurd things other parents were doing that weren’t widely accepted. “Can you believe she _____??” “How neglectful for them to ­­­­______!” “______’s so trendy, it’s not even a real issue! Marketing will make you believe anything!” Basically, without realizing it, I was a hater.

Then practically overnight, I was being served an entire humble pie. Not just one piece but the whole dang thing. I was witnessing, first hand, things I’d only read about or overheard moms talking about. Things I thought were just the latest fad, were proving to be true in my own home. And suddenly I was on the other side of the fence and all the mainstreamers, Christians included, were giving me various pieces of their mind. Or they weren’t saying a word but were giving looks. I had no idea how obvious body language can be when you’re on the other side of the fence. People aren’t stupid. You know when someone thinks you’re crazy. They don’t ask you questions to get to know you better and understand your situation more, they peek from the corner of their eye to see what you’re whipping out of your triple decker cooler. And if you happen to say something about it, to break the awkward silence, they close their mouth and nod their head while giving you a look. [If you’re off the beaten path with anything in life, you know the look I’m talking about.]

Handling the Haters - Letting go of the Real Food War

I can’t tell you how hard it is to suddenly go from being normal to being the black sheep. Nothing in life put the spotlight on me in group situations until our kids started having dietary needs. I had always flown under the radar and never had friction with people. As a people pleaser, it was perfect for me. I was comfortable with mainstream because it was easy and never caused anyone to raise their eyebrows my direction. However, I quickly found out that most people don’t like when you rock the boat of “normal.” Everyone wants to make excuses for you: “But she drank milk fine for 2 years!” “Surely it was just a fluke!” “Why not just put her on medicine?” “She just had a stomach bug!” “But all this work in the kitchen will keep you from fulfilling the Great Commission!” “Gluten intolerance isn’t scientifically proven, according to my research.”

I wanted to bang my head against the wall. I cried. I was hurt. I felt alienated and lonely. I was frustrated with people for being so close minded and so obviously in opposition to our being different. Why couldn’t just one person [who wasn’t already in our shoes] show us grace? Why was no one asking how they could help us? Why didn’t anyone ask how to cook for us, to give us relief in our stress? My heart was so heavy as I processed our new reality. I imagine it’s easier for those who have been raised differently from the start, but maybe not. What I do know is there’s an ache in your heart when everyone who has previously accepted everything about you suddenly doesn’t. Or if they aren’t showing any opposition, they aren’t showing that they care.

Then one day God started reminding me of my past. He brought specific instances to mind where I neglected various friends and family members with dietary needs. The Thanksgivings and Christmases with my aunt who has celiac – every year she would only have 1 or 2 random dishes she could eat and would sit there and watch everyone else enjoy their food around the table. I never once asked if I could bring a meal that was safe for her. I never once asked about her story – how she discovered her condition and how it effects her. I never empathized with her. The first few years I even forgot she was dealing with it at all. I’m sure that felt great – to struggle with something every single day and not only do your family members not accommodate you, they don’t even remember you’re dealing with it. I remember asking about her mostly empty plate at several holidays, and after being reminded again and again, thinking in my head, “man, that sucks for her!” as I loaded my plate with stuffing and rolls. I tear up and my heart aches just thinking about it, now that I know firsthand what her life is like.

Then there was my cousin. When she was in junior high, and I was newly married, her mom battled cancer and she started dealing with a dairy intolerance from the stress. Any time she would eat dairy she would get significant welts on her face or upper body, which is so embarrassing for a junior higher, or anyone for that matter. I was much closer to her than my aunt with Celiac, so I was a little more in tune to being sensitive about accommodating her.

But to be real with you, it irritated me. I loved this family so much, I went out of my way to make a dairy free version of an appetizer for her [in addition to a dairy version, because I couldn’t handle not having my dairy.] But I was annoyed the whole time I made it. It was inconveniencing me. It took extra time out of my day and made extra work for me.

You know what I wish I could go back and tell my old self, now that I know what it’s like to accommodate intolerances daily? Get over yourself. I wish that I had understood that her life was effected every day in every way. That her mom was dealing with cancer and navigating a new diet for her daughter and I had the audacity to pout about accommodating one meal [two dishes] for Thanksgiving? Really, Amber? You really can’t miss butter in your mashed potatoes for one stinkin’ meal? Talk about first world problems.

Handling the Haters - Letting go of the Food War

As God brought these memories to the front of my mind, my eyes were opened and my heart sunk. Have you ever read The Sneetches, by Dr Suess? I was a star bellied Sneetch. Whether or not I had a star, I was judging those who had the opposite of what I had. I started as a mainstream star-bellied snob who judged those who were different. When I crossed over to the “granola” side of the fence and had my star removed, I started judging the star-bellied Sneetches because they were judging me. As many regrets as I have about the snotty things my old self said and did, when it comes down to it I’m ultimately thankful. Because having been both a star bellied sneetch and one without stars, I’ve realized the problem isn’t in whether or not I have a star, the problem is with my heart.

I’ve ultimately had to pull back, emotionally and mentally, from the star vs no star war. Neither side is winning. There will never be a day when all the processed food eaters become real food eaters. There will never be a day when all the real food eaters become processed food eaters. I can’t convince 7 billion people to remove their stars and only eat food organic, free range, chemical free, and non GMO food. No matter the topic, I will never convince 7 billion people to agree with me. The solution isn’t in stars or earning respect for whether or not you have one, it’s in learning to cope with what you have and respect others for what they have. Eventually it becomes about thriving with what you have and loving others despite what they have. And about loving them despite what they think about what you have. It becomes about glorifying God.

Inserting my struggles into 1 Corinthians 13 always helps the verse hit home for me.

I’m convicted right to the heart when I remember:

Love is patient even when others don’t understand us. Love is kind even when people judge our diet. It does not envy the easy life of someone who can eat anything without side effects. It does not boast about our food choices. It is not proud of our healthier diet.  It does not dishonor others by trashing them behind their back, it is not self-seeking in trying to earn their approval of our diet, it is not easily angered by other’s assumptions and criticisms, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

As much as I love that passage, I always, always go back and reread the passage right before it when I’m done. “If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.  If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.”

If I feed my family the healthiest food, but do not have love, I AM NOTHING. I may save our health but if I have not love, I GAIN NOTHING. The word of God declares that no matter what I do, if I do it without love I am nothing. If I boast in my star so much that I can’t love others who don’t understand, I am nothing.

If I’m craving respect for my food choices so much that when I don’t get it I can’t show love to that person, it’s become an idol. If I cannot love someone who disagrees with me, my opinion becomes an idol. I cannot be so passionate about my food choices that I become less passionate about what God declares to be the most important thing. 1 Corinthians 13:13 “And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”

Letting go of the judgement that comes with going against the grain. [Real Food with Kids]

Kombucha Crash Course

Kombucha Crash Course: The What and Why of our Favorite Drink

With all the recent talk of kombucha on my IG feed lately, I’ve had several people ask what it is and why we would be so excited about a drink. I thought I’d take a minute to explain the drink and our history with it! Please know this only scratches the surface of the topic, but it’s a quick crash course on why you might consider adding it to your diet!

What is Kombucha?

Kombucha is a traditional fermented tea from Russia. It’s made with black and/or green tea, filtered water, white sugar, starter kombucha, and a SCOBY [Symbiotic Culture of Bacteria and Yeast.] The SCOBY eats the sugar in the fermentation process and creates good bacteria in the process. Kombucha is full of natural probiotics and is a liver detoxer.

Leaky Guts + Kombucha  
Why Does a Family with Food Allergies/Intolerances Need Natural Probiotics?

Everyone’s gut is full of good and bad bacteria but it’s essential that your gut has more good bacteria than bad, to keep the bad in check. Your good bacteria work against the bad bacteria by “producing antibiotic-like substances that dissolve membranes of viruses and bacteria; they engage the immune system to respond appropriately to invaders. Our healthy indigenous gut flora has a good ability to neutralize toxic substances. The good bacteria absorb many carcinogenic substances, making them inactive.” [Summarized from the GAPS Gut and Psychology Syndrome book by Dr Natasha Campbell-McBride]

The problem is, things like antibiotics and chlorine in tap water wipe out the good and bad bacteria from your gut, leaving you vulnerable to a host of problems. If your gut doesn’t have enough natural probiotics via diet to assist the good bacteria in keeping the bad bacteria and yeasts at bay, the good bacteria can’t thrive.

One of the most commonly overgrown yeasts is called Candida. The good bacteria in an ideally healthy gut keep it in check, but when a round of antibiotics or chlorine in tap water wipes out the good bacteria, the candida can quickly take over the gut. Candida is a form of yeast with strands strong enough to penetrate the walls of the intestines and create tiny holes. These holes are known as “leaky gut” and anyone with a food allergy or intolerance has a leaky gut.

Two side notes: Candida isn’t the only cause of leaky gut. There are multiple potential culprits, this is just the one I’m touching on right now! Regardless of the cause, a leaky [and non-leaky] gut needs probiotics to keep the bad bacteria in check. Also, many people avoid drinking kombucha because it contains yeast, thinking it will worsen their candida. Candida yeast and kombucha yeast are two different strands. Some people experience a temporary elevation of candida symptoms when they start drinking kombucha, as their body’s gut starts to rebalance, but it will quickly level out and begin improving your gut health.

Both Emery and Cooper are intolerant to gluten and dairy. Even though the holes are still in their intestines, by keeping their guts full of good probiotics via kombucha and other ferments, I can prevent it from getting worse or at least slow it down. Ultimately, we plan to do the GAPS diet to heal and seal their intestinal walls, but for now I try to keep their diets packed with probiotics.

My typical schedule is to ferment 2-4 gallons of kombucha every 2 weeks or so. I let the kombucha ferment for 3-4 weeks, so I have a rotation going with 3 two gallon containers.

Here’s a link for further reading, if you’re interested in taking a powdered probiotic as well.

Fatty Liver + Kombucha

Why Does Everyone Need to Detox Their Liver?

This is the very reason we started drinking kombucha.

4 years ago Andrew was diagnosed with Fatty Liver Disease and was given very little information on how to care for himself in regards to this new information. He was very miserable at the time and often laid in bed at night complaining about how awful he felt. He couldn’t put his finger on it but he knew something was wrong. Once he received his diagnoses and I started aggressively researching how to care for his liver, I kept coming across kombucha.

I obtained a SCOBY from a friend, started our first batch, and his health began improving fairly quickly. 4 years later, he swears up and down that of all the changes we’ve made in our diets, kombucha has helped him more than anything, hands down. But people with sluggish or diseased livers aren’t the only ones who need to detox!

Your body is constantly exposed to toxins through food, body care products, cleaning products, and chemicals you inhale throughout the day in our modern environment. While our family has overhauled our food, body care, and cleaning supplies, we will never escape the environmental toxins. Your body needs help flushing these out of your system so your liver can function optimally. The more work it’s doing detoxing your body, the less energy it has to do other important tasks like creating bile, storing energy, creating proteins for blood clotting, etc. The less effective it is in doing it’s job, the greater the toll on your whole body. It’s important to understand that the liver doesn’t only effect the liver. Your entire body is one unit, working together. If one part of your body is not doing the best it can, the rest of your body can be effected in seemingly unrelated ways.

Riding your body of toxins and pumping your gut full of probiotics is one of the best moves you can make in your journey to better health. You can find kombucha in health food stores and many farmers markets or you can make it yourself. If you’re interested in getting started with brewing your own, I carry SCOBYs, starter kombucha, and an instruction packet in my etsy shop. There are several guidelines you need to follow, but the skill in and of itself is extremely easy – if you can make tea, you can make kombucha.

If you have any questions, please ask! I’d love to explain or walk you through whatever I can!

Hope you’re having a great week!

Love,
Amber

Kombucha Crash Course  

Cooper's Lip Tie Story

Cooper’s Lip Tie Story

So, I’ve shared about tongue ties and how they affect eating and visual indicators of tongue and lip ties, but I only briefly touched on Cooper’s story. One thing that benefited me so much when I was in the research process, was to hear other’s unique stories about how their kids were effected by ties. It amazes me how different every kid is! And while I never talked about lip ties in the last post [because they don’t affect a child’s ability to eat solids] I am going to share this aspect of Cooper’s story first because it’s where our story starts.

Why nursing went from perfect to a nightmare once teeth started coming in

9 days old, in the NICU

So, if you’ve been around awhile, you know Cooper was a preemie. He was born 6 weeks early but was quickly nursing like a champ. He did have a hiccup in the nursing experience, at about a month old that lasted a month, but it was unrelated to the ties and a story for another day. After we got past it, he was great again. He nursed quickly and efficiently, was gaining weight great, we were bottle free, and he was a super happy baby.

Why nursing went from perfect to a nightmare once teeth started coming in

Around 6 months old things started changing. Cooper very slowly started becoming less interested in nursing. He wouldn’t quite finish like usual, he would get distracted and look around the room which he’d never done before, and he gradually started getting cranky and clingy. Over a period of about 2 months it got worse and worse.

One thing that’s important to understand in this story is that even though he was my second child, nursing a baby was completely new for me. Emery refused to nurse, which I didn’t know at the time was because she was also tongue and lip tied and unable to latch. All I knew about the nursing experience was what I saw and heard my friend’s kids doing.

When Emery was a baby, I had many friends who’s kids would suddenly stop nursing at 4-9 months old and only take a bottle. No matter what they did to encourage them to continue, their kids were done breast feeding. With this in the back of my mind, I just assumed it was normal and Cooper was doing the same thing. He was about 6 months old when it started and was becoming more aware of his surroundings. He would pop off in the middle of nursing to look around the room and look to see what noisy thing Emery was up to and act more interested in her than anything else. I always told myself his shortened nursing time and lack of draining my milk was simply a result of him being in a more active and alert stage of development. But it never completely sat right with me because while Cooper was seemingly weaning, unlike my friend’s kids, he refused to take a bottle, sippy cup, or eat solids.

Cooper's Lip Tie Story

A typical day for us turned into me holding or baby wearing Cooper almost constantly to prevent him from screaming and crying. What used to be my totally happy and content baby became a highly distressed and dysfunctional child. He became obsessed with me. He was always a mama’s boy but it escalated. He was sleeping less, he never wanted to be in a different room than me, he didn’t want anyone else to hold him. If I did happen to get out of the room without him noticing but peeked back in to see how he was and he caught me, he would scream bloody murder until I came and picked him up. It was rare, but occasionally he would even be perfectly happy, watching Emery doing something silly but the second his eyes met mine he would be in hysterics. It was such a heartbreaking and confusing time for me. My son was obsessed with me holding him but in an unhealthy way. Just looking at me from across the room caused him to go into insane fits. My heart hurt. I couldn’t figure out what was going on.

The only thing that seemed to give him temporary relief was nursing him, even though he only cared for about 5 minutes, it was 5 minutes of happiness. 5 minutes of quiet. At one point Andrew even commented on how often I was nursing him, “I feel like that’s your solution for everything, if he’s crying all you ever do is nurse him!” It didn’t make since to him at all but when you are around it all day and everything including your presence upsets your child, what else do you do? At the worst point, I was nursing him as often as every 15 minutes and each nursing session would last about 5 minutes.

Cooper's Lip Tie Story

cosleeping

He had also gone from just beginning to sleep through the night [or would at least go very long stretches before waking up] to waking more and more frequently to nurse over the course of the 2 months. We were cosleeping because I was barely functioning – he wanted to wake up so frequently and I was starting to realize that through out whatever it was that was going on, I had become his security blanket. I knew something was wrong at this point but I felt like there were no obvious signs. I had nothing substantial to tell a doctor – anything he was doing could be labeled as teething or normal baby behavior. Cosleeping helped him sleep longer and harder. He would wake less frequently and fall back asleep faster if he was next to me. My body couldn’t function without cosleeping to reduce the amount of sleep I had to loose – even with him in our bed I would typically get an average of 4 hours of  broken sleep a night.

Cooper's Lip Tie Story

Waiting to get labs drawn

We were also in the middle of discovering Emery’s food intolerances and coping with the overwhelming changes that came with it. Our whole house was heavy and stressed. Looking back, I honestly know it was only the grace of God that kept me from dealing with depression. While it wasn’t as intense as our season in the NICU, it was a very dark time for our family.

One night after the kids were in bed, when Cooper was about 8 months old, I was on the computer researching food intolerances and gut health as usual when I stumbled across an article by Mommypotamus about tongue and lip ties. I have no idea why I clicked on it. My time was so precious at this point that I didn’t waste it reading about things that weren’t going to immediately help my family. Again, it was the grace of God that I clicked on it because it was a life changing moment for me.

Cooper's Lip Tie Story

the mommypotamus article that changed everything

I wish I could go back and see my face as I read. At first it was just interesting. Then it was fascinating. And then it started striking a chord. I was baffled and shocked. It took me everything I had not to run upstairs and wake Cooper up to have a peek. Well, not entirely true – tongue and lip ties actually completely grossed me out and I was having a really hard time with the pictures in the article. I was trembling with anxiety that I had maybe found the answer, wanting to lift his lip and check his tongue, but I was also sick to my stomach because I hated how ties looked – I was terrified about what I would see.

So instead, while shaking, I summarized the article for Andrew and hesitantly told him I thought Cooper could have ties. He rolled his eyes at me and thought I was just on some crazy hippie website again and buying into some hypochondriac nonsense. But the more I thought about it that night, the more lightbulbs were going off in my mind. I back tracked the sequence of events and realized that all of this emotional change in Cooper started when his front teeth started coming in. The progression in his  emotional distress and the rate of his nursing plummeting were perfectly in line with the pace his teeth were slowly coming in. After pouring over articles that night, I finally realized that the further his teeth stuck out as they came in, the further it pushed his lips away from my nipple. It wouldn’t be a big deal in a child without a lip tie because their lip could stretch up to accommodate the change, but for a child with a restricted lip, he could no longer get a proper suction.

Why nursing went from perfect to a nightmare once teeth started coming in

This is the best photo I have of his gap

The next morning I lifted his lip as fast as possible, so I wouldn’t have to see it for long, and I freaked out. So much so that I lifted it up again and couldn’t stop staring. I called Andrew to tell him there was absolutely no doubt Cooper had an upper lip tie – the frenumlum was so thick and actually started in between his two front teeth, solving the mystery of why his massive tooth gap wasn’t closing. The tie almost went to the tip of his upper lip, it was insane. I wish I had taken a picture!

I immediately  started paying more attention to what he was doing when he tried to nurse – I started realizing that all along, his changed behaviors were actually various symptoms of a lip tie. He had started leaking milk while nursing at the beginning of this ordeal – my shirt and bra would always be wet when he was done. I thought it was strange but didn’t give it much thought until now. He had also started to sound like he was congested while he nursed, which, once I started paying attention, I realized was actually a sound coming out of his mouth, not his nose. He couldn’t get a suction anymore but he was constantly trying – his attempts to latch the whole time during nursing sounded like congestion because he was sucking air in to try to get the suction, while having  milk in his mouth. It made an identical sound to someone trying to breathe through their nose while stuffed up. Also, his looking around the room in the middle of nursing was actually due to his lack of ability to latch.  As I started observing him intently, I realized he was having to work so hard to stay attached and get milk that it was so much easier to take a break and look at Emery than it was to continue to put in the effort to get milk. How had I not realized how hard he was trying??

As soon as I started seeing all the signs for what they were, my heart broke into a million pieces for him. Of course he’s an insane, hysterical mess – the kid is STARVING! I knew he was eating less but up until now I thought it was by choice. I couldn’t understand why he wouldn’t finish a meal but I thought surely he knows what his body needs. A kid wouldn’t ignore signs of hunger, so I trusted him in my confusion. He’d always been an excellent nurser, why would I even consider he suddenly can’t do it? The thought had never crossed my mind. But to realize that he was actually now incapable of eating a complete meal was such an emotional revelation. Of course he cries like a mad man and has a love/hate relationship with me – I was a source of comfort for him but I was also a mega source of frustration as he worked so hard to get the milk out with little success. The dude was basically hangry for 2 months, I don’t blame him at all. I can’t imagine having to put all your strength into getting your food when you likely don’t have much energy from lack of nutrition. I deal with blood sugar issues and can somewhat relate to how awful he must have felt. I can’t handle being hangry for 20 minutes, I can’t imagine feeling that way for a solid 2 months.

Once I showed Andrew and explained all the connections to him, he was convinced as well. We got him revised 4 long weeks later, after figuring out our finances, and saw INSTANT improvement. His first time nursing he latched with a perfect suction; stayed latched until he drained me of milk – even though Emery was literally crawling on him while he was eating he didn’t pop off to see what she was doing once; and the best part of all, when he finished eating, he sat up with a huge smile on his face. The kid finally had a full belly.

I cried sweet, sweet tears of victory and joyfully thought this whole ordeal was behind us. I had to take fenugreek to build my supply back up and it was a process to get him to nurse less frequently as more milk came in to satisfy him for longer stretches. But for 2 solid weeks Cooper was a dream. I could cook without him screaming. I could leave the room to pee and not cause a huge fit. I could walk into a room, make eye contact with him, and have him SMILE at me. I can’t tell you what that did for my heart, to finally see my son have true joy when he saw me. His tooth gap also quickly closed up. A huge cloud was lifted from our house and I thought things could only get better. But 2 weeks after revision, even though he was still nursing like a champ, all the insanity came back.

Part 2 coming soon – Cooper’s Tongue Tie Story.

Have any of your children had lip ties? Did it effect them? Or does this make you question if you’re children have one? I’d love to hear your story and answer any questions you may have! Like I said in the previous tongue tie post, discovering and correcting these issues in Cooper were life changing for all of us – if I can help even just one mom find answers for what’s going on with her kids, I will be elated! Please don’t hesitate to ask me questions – if I don’t know the answer I can hopefully point you to a helpful resource!

Love, 

Amber

Why nursing went from perfect to a nightmare once teeth started coming in

Healthier packaged treats for easter egg hunts

Healthier Packaged Treats for Special Occasions

Every holiday has the potential to overwhelm me. As a mom of kids with severe food intolerances, every get together, treat, and meal is an obstacle. It effects the emotions of my kids as they feel left out. It requires insane amounts of planning and cooking ahead. There are always let downs when I didn’t know a dessert or side of bread was being served because someone forgot to relay the complete menu to me. And it usually causes me to feel left out of conversations as I helicopter around Cooper, making sure he’s not scrounging off other people’s plates or eating food off the floor.

IMG_3434 IMG_3435

Easter is days away. After doing this for a year and a half and as my kids get older, I’m realizing I need to make compromises, for all our sakes.  Food is an emotional thing. There’s a reason why the French have a million courses to their meals, why Italians lovingly make incredible pasta dishes from scratch, and why we’re called as Christians to break bread together – bonding happens over food. So when you’re watching everyone bond over a holiday meal or treat with nothing special and exciting to eat yourself, there’s a feeling of isolation. I’ve watched it in Emery many times and it requires me to balance her physical health with her emotional and social health. 

I don’t think it’s wrong to guard what goes in my kid’s bodies but I do think a line needs to be drawn. I need to recognize at what point I’ve crossed the line from protecting their bodies, to driving them against me because of my control. They’re already told constantly they’re not able to eat fillintheblank that their friend is eating because the gluten, grain, and dairy causes them physical pain. But when they want a treat filled with total crap and my best answer is “it’s not healthy for you,” what 1 and 3 year old care  about that more than bonding with friends?

For that reason, we have a small list of treats we save just for holidays and get togethers involving junk. It keeps it exciting for my kids because even though it’s healthier than what most of their friends are eating, it’s a rare treat. There’s the crinkle of a package [which is extra important for her little heart on halloween and easter, when homemade treats just don’t cut it when trying to fit in] and there’s more sugar involved than they’re used to, which all kids love. And I didn’t have to spend an extra 18 hours making 6 different desserts to replace the large selection everyone else will have.

So where do I draw the line on what to buy?

What We Avoid on Packages:

  • Gluten [including hidden sources]
  • Dairy
  • Food dyes [including caramel coloring]
  • Artificial sweeteners
  • Artificial flavors
  • Natural flavors [we’ll occasionally compromise on this if it’s a non-GMO product. Natural flavors sometimes contain GMOs]
  • Oils other than olive, avocado oil, and coconut oil. [If i have to compromise, we’ll eat something with sunflower or safflower oil]
  • GMOs [corn products, sugar not labeled “cane sugar” or “organic sugar,” citric acid, soy, canola oil, etc]
  • High Fructose Corn Syrup and agave nectar [we’ll occasionally compromise on agave]
  • MSG [or hidden sources]
  • Soy

healthier packaged food for easter egg hunts

So what are our special treats? What fits into their diet restrictions but also my ingredient convictions? There are PLENTY of things in a health food store that don’t pass inspection, so I thought this list might be helpful for those wanting a quick list of what’s best. I’ll start with the least offensive and work my way down to the ones that are a stretch for me. The first 7 are ones we actually snack on more frequently but are still a treat for our kids. The last 3 contain ingredients I don’t normally allow. Our kids get things like this maybe every 2 months?

Easter Egg Hunt Treats:

[everything below was found at Sprouts and/or Natural Grocers]

 

Newman’s Own Organic Raisins

Ingredients:

Organic raisins
[gluten free facility]

 

Just Tomatoes Etc.’s Just Blueberries

Ingredients:

Organic Blueberries [they also carry several other fruits and vegetables]
[Certified Gluten Free]

 

Funky Monkey’s Purple Funk:

Ingredients:

Freeze dried organic banana, organic acai
[gluten free facility]

 

 

Go Raw’s Lime in the Coconut Coconut Crisps

Ingredients:

Organic coconut (unsulphured), organic lime juice, Celtic sea salt, organic coconut nectar.

 [gluten free facility]

 

Go Raw’s Pizza Flax Snacks

Ingredients:

Sprouted organic flax seeds, sprouted organic sunflower seeds, sprouted organic sesame seeds,
organic tomato, organic tomato powder, celtic sea salt, organic spices
[gluten free facility] 

Quinn Popcorn Kale and Sea Salt

Ingredients:

Non-GMO popcorn kernels, high oleic sunflower oil, dried organic kale, sea salt,
dried organic carrot, onion powder, garlic powder.
[Certified Gluten Free]
 

 

Laughing Giraffe Organic’s Chocolate Snakaroons

Ingredients:

Unsweetened coconut, agave, cacao, coconut sugar, vanilla extract, Himalayan pink salt
[gluten free facility]

Hail Merry is also a similar brand we love! Their macaroons would be perfect for egg hunts :-)

 

 Enjoy Life Chocolate Chips

Ingredients:

Evaporated cane juice, Natural chocolate liquor [non-alcoholic], Non-dairy cocoa butter

[certified gluten free]

Tree Hugger Gum Fantastic Fruit

Ingredients:

Cane Sugar, Glucose, Gum Base (Contains Natural Chicle), Brown Rice Syrup,
Gum Arabic, Natural Flavors  (including Lemon ,Grapefruit, Watermelon, Pomegranate ),
Sun Flower Lecithin, Natural Colors, (Including: Red Beet, Berry Extract, Paprika Extract, 
beta Carotene, Chlorophyllin) , Carnauba Wax.
[gluten free]

 

 

Tasty Fruit Gummies

Ingredients:

Organic Tapioca Syrup, Organic Cane Sugar, Organic Tapioca Sugar Solids, Organic White Grape Juice Concentrate,
Pectin, Citric Acid, Ascorbic Acid, Colors Added (Organic Black Carrot Juice Concentrate, Organic Turmeric, Organic Annatto),
Natural Flavors [No MSG], Sodium Citrate,  Organic Sunflower Oil, Carnauba Wax.
[certified gluten free]

 

Surf Sweets Organic Jelly Beans

 *Be careful with this brand – not all their products are GMO free. Be sure to look for the Non-GMO label.*

Ingredients:

Organic Cane Sugar, Organic Tapioca Syrup, Organic Grape Juice Concentrate, Pectin, Citric Acid, Ascorbic Acid,
Colors Added (Organic Black Carrot Juice Concentrate, Organic Turmeric, Organic Annatto), Natural Flavors,
Confectioner’s Glaze, Carnauba Wax, Organic Sunflower Oil.
[certified gluten free]

 

What did I miss? Have any store bought treats you purchase for holidays and large get togethers? I’d love to hear what you’re doing for Easter treats this year!

Healthier packaged treats for easter egg hunts

 

Orange Ginger Sauerkraut

Orange Ginger Sauerkraut

The first time I made kraut, I was indifferent. Didn’t love it, didn’t hate it. 

I was sold on the health benefits of fermented foods but as a lover of ethnic food, when would I want to eat kraut with a meal? I love when the things I’m eating compliment each other. Traditional German kraut with a burrito bowl? Sounds like an unusual combination. So I kept procrastinating making more, and just stuck with fermenting kombucha.

But now that I’m further down my real food journey, I’m realizing how many creative options are really out there for ferments. I don’t need to stick within the limits of traditional kraut with every meal, but a Mexican style kraut with a kick of lime on my burrito bowl? Now that I can get behind.

If you’re nervous about trying fermented food, this recipe is an awesome place to start! Orange and ginger is a versatile combination! It can compliment an asian dish, top a kale salad, or be the side dish to a light summery meal. No crazy flavors – just a kick of awesomeness in your mouth. The simplest additions to a fermenting staple elevates kraut to gourmet status. If you’re working to incorporate ferments into every meal, enhancing the flavor profile helps the ferment compliment the dish rather than it seeming like a random pile of probiotics on your plate.

Here’s how we created it and how Cooper helped:

First, I used a mandolin to shred the cabbages, layering it a few times with a sprinkle of salt. I let it sit for about 10 minutes and then massaged the cabbage until I got plenty of juice when i squeezed. Side note: every time I make kraut or knead bread, I know why pioneer women didn’t need to go to the gym. My forearms were rocks afterward. If I ever fall off the real food bandwagon, it’s not because I stopped feeling great or got lazy, it’s because I was trying to keep from looking like a hefty Italian grandmother with forearms as big as my face.

Here’s a helpful video tutorial to walk you through the general process of making kraut. If you don’t know who Sandor Katz is, he’s the king of all things fermented ;-)

 

 

 

 

Next, after Cooper woke up from his nap, he massaged the cabbage as well. It was already done and ready to be jarred, but he didn’t need to know that ;-) 

Next I grated the ginger in and we mixed it again. At this point I would add in the zest and juice of one orange [our original batch was a tease…not quite enough citrus flavor]. Also, slice your remaining oranges into 6-10 slices. Place 1 orange in the bottom and four on each side:

 

Next, stuff your jar with kraut, pushing down very hard as you go, to get the juices to rise to the top of the cabbage, as Sandor Katz demonstrates in the video above.

Add orange slices as you go, along the sides, and another slice on the very top when you’ve stuffed the whole jar, to keep the floating pieces of cabbages submerged under the brine. Top the jar off with brine, if you didn’t get enough natural juices out of the kraut.

Fermenting Sauerkraut

 

IMPORTANT INFORMATION:

  • Place your jars in a glass dish on the counter. JUICES WILL LEAK so give them a place to go.
  • Burp your jars AT LEAST 3x a day, especially first thing in the morning and right before bed. Explosions from neglected ferments, built up carbon dioxide are possible – keep your kiddos safe!
  • Always COVER JAR WITH TOWEL before you burp it. The build up carbon dioxide will cause juices to come spraying out, so the towel keeps it all contained.
  • If your ferment develops mold just scrape it off the top – everything untouched by the mold is safe to eat still.
  • Keep your kraut several feet away from other types of ferments [kombucha, kefir, sourdough, etc] or the cultures can hop from one ferment to the next. 

 

Orange Ginger Sauerkraut
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Ingredients
  1. 1 head purple cabbage
  2. 1/2 head green cabbage
  3. fresh ginger
  4. 3 oranges [2 sliced, 1 zested and juiced]
  5. celtic sea salt
  6. Large mixing bowl [like, super big]
  7. 1 quart Fido Jar
  8. Mandolin [Optional]
Instructions
  1. Shred your cabbages, layering them with about 1/2 tsp of sprinkled salt 3-4x as you go.
  2. Let sit for 10 minutes while you slice 2 of your oranges.
  3. After the 10 minutes, massage the cabbage, squeezing to break down the cell walls and bring out the natural juices to create a brine.
  4. When everything's good and juicy [see video tutorial if you need a visual], grate approx. 2 TB ginger over the cabbage, add the orange zest, and orange juice. Mix until incorporated.
  5. Fill your jar with 5 orange slices, as pictured above.
  6. Start packing in your kraut, pushing hard as you fill it. You need to eliminate air pockets to prevent mold and you need to bring the brine up to the surface of your cabbage as you go.
  7. Once you get to the top of the first layer of orange slices, add another layer around the top half of the jar, cutting them in half if you need to.
  8. Continue to fill your jar until you almost reach the top. Add another orange slice and press down to cover in brine.
  9. If you don't have enough natural brine to cover it, mix 1 cup water with 1 tsp salt to create your own brine. Save what you don't immediately use in a lidded glass jar - you will use it more over the next 3 days.
  10. Close your jars and place them in a glass dish - I use a 9x11 pyrex. JUICES WILL LEAK OUT so you need to have a place for it to pool.
  11. Leave it on the counter for the next 3 days but BURP IT at least 3x a day, especially first thing after you wake up and right before you get into bed. Explosions from neglected ferments with built up carbon dioxide are possible - keep your kiddos safe! Also, always COVER JAR WITH TOWEL before you burp it. The build up carbon dioxide will cause juices to come spraying out, so the towel keeps it all contained ;-)
  12. After you pop the lid open on your jar, leave it for a few minutes as all the bubbles rise to the top. Submerge the kraut again and top it with brine if you need to [the cabbage often soaks up the liquid, requiring you to add more to keep it submerged, which keeps it from molding] If you do get mold, just scrape it off  the top - everything untouched by the mold is safe to eat still.
  13. After 3 days, place it in the fridge. You no longer need to burp it. It will keep, on average, for 6 months. If it still smells and looks fine after 6 months, it's still totally fine to eat. You will KNOW when a ferment has gone bad.
Adapted from Donna Schwenk
Adapted from Donna Schwenk
Real Food With Kids http://realfoodwithkids.com/

Crockpot Chickpea Veggie Curry Stew

I’m realizing more and more that we’re kind of snobs about the food we cook. We’ll eat anything and everything that fits our diet but for something to make the elite status of Binder Worthy, we have to reeeeeaaaaally like it. And we reeeeeaaaaaally like this Curry Stew.

It’s so easy, so cheap, and so flavorful! It’s a spin off of a recipe from the Cooking Light Slow Cooker Cookbook, but I omitted several ingredients that I felt were weird for a curry based dish. I’m always thrilled when I can simplify a dish and it can still be rock solid good. So, without further ado, here’s the recipe with an explanation of how Cooper helped!

First we prepped our first round of veggies. I chopped the onion and carrot and Cooper taste tested.

Then Cooper helped prep the curry powder, coconut palm sugar, ginger, and garlic in a bowl for the sautee pan. He didn’t grate the ginger but he loved tapping the microplane onto the edge of the bowl to get the shavings to fall off.

Next, while everything was sauteing in the pan, Cooper “helped” open the can of tomatoes and cans of chickpeas [bonus points if you soak and cook your own ahead of time, we were not on our A-game]. He also loaded the diced potatoes into the crock pot, dumped in the broth, and topped everything with salt and pepper. If Emery had wanted to help, I would have had her dice these potato sticks I cut.

After it was done cooking, he added the coconut milk as well!

Hope you guys love this simple recipe! Let me know what you think if you try it!

Crockpot Chickpea Veggie Curry Stew
Serves 6
vegetarian and vegan option
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Cook Time
6 hr
Cook Time
6 hr
Sautee Ingredients
  1. 1 TB coconut oil
  2. 1 1/2 cups chopped yellow onion
  3. 1 cup sliced carrots, 1/2 inch thick
  4. 1 TB curry
  5. 1 tsp coconut palm sugar
  6. 1 tsp grated peeled ginger
  7. 2 garlic cloves, minced
Straight to the Crockpot Ingredients
  1. 3 cups cooked chickpeas
  2. 1 1/2 cups cubed yukon gold potatoes
  3. 1 can [14.5 oz] diced tomatoes, undrained
  4. 14 oz broth [chicken, beef, or veggie]
  5. 1/2 tsp salt
  6. 1/4 tsp pepper
Right before Serving Ingredients
  1. 1 cup light coconut milk
  2. cilantro
Instructions
  1. Heat oil in large cast iron skillet over medium heat. Add onion and carrot; cook about 10 minutes or until tender.
  2. Add curry powder, coconut palm sugar, ginger, and garlic. Cook 1 minute more, stirring constantly.
  3. Meanwhile, rinse and drain chickpeas and dice potatoes. Add both to crockpot. Add can of undrained tomatoes, broth, salt, and pepper.
  4. Once finished cooking, place curry mixture in crock pot. Stir everything together and cook on LOW for 6 hours or until veggies are tender.
  5. Before serving, stir in coconut milk and top with cilantro. Salt liberally.
Notes
  1. I'm a big advocate for salting curries well. If you do too little, the dish isn't flavorful enough - it truly enhances the curry flavor! So if you taste this and it doesn't rock your world, add more salt ;-)
Real Food With Kids http://realfoodwithkids.com/

Adrenal Fatigue, part 2 [Tribal Wives and the Problem with Modern Christians]

In case you missed part 1, you can find it here!

I left the last post hanging because I need to share what God exposed me to for the last year and a half, before I explain the next layer of my sin. If I just hop from explaining the first sin to the second, without explaining the growth in the middle, it might not be as impactful to someone else as it was to me.

I’ve shared this a few times on Instagram, but I’m fascinated by other cultures and time periods. I want to know what they eat, how they cook it, how they raise their kids, how the family unit functions, how the community functions, etc, etc. I don’t feel like it’s a coincidence that this intrigues me so much, in hindsight God fanned the flames of this interest of mine at the perfect moment in my life. I think it was about a year ago that I posted on a FB group [if you can’t tell from previous posts, I do this for almost anything I’m interested in!] about resources for this topic – where can I go to learn more about these aspects of other cultures and time periods? The feedback was amazing – If you want the list I received, contact me and I’ll send it to you! There was one response that immediately grabbed my attention though – a documentary series from the BBC on YouTube called Tribal Wives.

Each episode is about a different woman from the UK traveling to a different remote tribe around the world and living in their village for almost a month. Each woman has the same purpose but a different reason for wanting to go – she’s looking for answers in a particular struggle in her life and hoping to find clarity through the tribal life style. There was a former alcoholic who felt defined by her past, a woman who was hesitant to commit to marriage, one who was divorced and struggling with loving her kids as a single parent, etc. At first I was just watching out of pure fascination, the show is not Christian based at all. I ogled over what they wore, their traditional food preparation, how hard the women worked, how they raised their children, etc. But I couldn’t get it out of my head.

One thing you need to know about me – it typically takes me a looooong time to process things. I’m a thinker but I’m also stubborn in many ways. Andrew will call me out on sin and it will usually take weeks to months before God completely opens my eyes and roots the sin out of my life. As I meditate on what’s burdening me [whether it be something Andrew said, a blog post that got to my heart, a quote from a book, or something Emery said] I think about it for hours, days, weeks, months, and sometimes years. God reveals scripture to me, prompts others to bring it up in conversation, leads me to other sources of wisdom, and on and on. God works through onion layer after onion layer to fix the root of my heart rather than allow me to put a bandaid on the problem. So after I surrendered my obsessive control to Him in July and I thought all I had left to do was heal my hormones, He was using Tribal Wives to prep my heart for the next sin layer to be removed.

But here’s the thing about the show – it made my heart ache.

Every episode left me discontent; something felt missing from my own life. I would think about it constantly while I worked each day, not able to put my finger on it. I felt like an unbeliever who’s gained the world but still feels incomplete. There was a longing in me that I couldn’t explain, but I have Christ, so why do I feel this way?

I spent several months like this, watching and thinking, watching and thinking. After a few episodes, Andrew started watching it too and I saw the same discontentment creep into him as well. We were watching woman after woman crying, realizing the emptiness in their own lives and seeing them experience a peace in these villages without Christ. While it wasn’t peace that passes understanding, that you can only receive through salvation, something was different.

Every day, in each village around the world, the women would get up before dawn. They were working as a team but each had their own responsibilities. One or two would cook, a few would clean, a few would care for the animals. They would share the load of gathering food, water, and other resources. They worked the land. They cared for the men and children. They reminded me of the hard working Proverbs 31 woman but HOW they did it is what got to me.

They worked slow.

Hard, but slow. They knew how to pace themselves. They relaxed and had fellowship at lunch. They often relaxed in the afternoon, doing each others hair before it was time to start dinner. They were the hardest workers I’ve seen but also the most relaxed. They knew how to read their bodies. They knew how to keep from burning out. They walked slowly. They did what was essential and no more. They sat at the end of a hard day and just laughed with each other. They went to bed when the sun went down. They knew how to work but they also were content to just be. They worked hard and they rested hard. Not one of them was ever flustered. None of them ran around frantically scrambling to get things done on time. They never talked endlessly about all the things they needed to get done. None of them stayed up burning the midnight oil to catch up on their responsibilities. I have never seen a group of people so hardworking, yet relaxed, peaceful, and joyful even in Christian circles.

I couldn’t get it out of my head as I spent each day tackling my house, kids, and cooking alone. I couldn’t get it out of my head as put meaningless crap back on my shelves for the millionth time, wondering how much time I wasted cleaning things I don’t need instead of resting. I couldn’t get it out of my head as I was up until midnight cleaning my kitchen and putting away laundry. “You mean there are people in the world that don’t do it this way? This lifestyle is all I know. I don’t know how to run a home like these people run their village. Granted I’m working alone all day, but still. How do I apply their restfulness to my life and still fit in with our culture?” [i.e., I need homeschool books, toys, etc to teach my kids. The tribes didn’t seem to do school, but in our culture I can’t neglect that aspect of my kid’s lives.]

I kept watching and thinking. Watching and thinking.

The biggest thing I started wrestling with was wondering how much the American culture actually blemishes my Christian views. Where does one begin and the other end? Is my heart so clueless about what a biblical life looks like because I’m so blinded by the busy American culture? Are the majority of the Christians living the modern life doing it all wrong?! Are we unintentionally pulling each other down by naively still living like the world? Am I so blinded by my high-speed culture that I can’t even discern what isn’t necessary in my life? Am I too blinded to even identify outright sin issues? I don’t want to be an American Christian. I want God and nothing else. Have I let my culture muddy my spiritual life?

I’m a believer whose life has been ransomed by Christ. So why is it that I am regularly neglecting the Great Commission while running myself into the ground to get unnecessary things done? My sin of obsessive control caused me to drain my body of energy. The obsessive control over my life pushed me away from Christ. It kept me from seeking out the Lord. It took away my time from fellowshipping with believers. It took away my time from investing in unbelievers. And I’m sitting here watching unbelievers who know that what I’m doing has no value in life. They haven’t given their lives to God yet, but they certainly have one thing right that I don’t.

There’s a sermon by John Piper that I heard several years ago [still trying to find it online so I can link it up] that I haven’t been able to forget. He talks about the importance of rest. God designed our bodies to need rest. We are supposed to sleep, supposed to relax, supposed to rest in Him. Rest isn’t a sin, it’s a necessary part of our design – God even created an entire day for it. When was the last time I actually honored the sabbath?

Just to keep it real, here’s what goes through my head when I think about Sundays:

“Doesn’t that sound nice? How wonderful, a whole day of rest that is a gift from God. Ok, every Sunday I’m going relax and rest. It’s biblical. I’m going to calm my super charged body down and it’s ok. Guilt free, I can do this!” 

So every Sunday, one of two things happens.

Scenerio #1:

We get home from church, feed the kids, and put them to bed. I remember my vow to rest but it lasts all of 15 minutes. I run around getting things done, sit on the computer researching, or work on projects around the house. Then I crawl into bed kicking myself for not embracing rest and my adrenal fatigue continues to plague me. 

Scenerio # 2

We get home from church, feed the kids, and get them in bed. I keep my vow to rest by collapsing on the couch and proceeding to veg all day. I sit on my phone, I scroll through pinterest, I catch up on Instagram, I watch a chick flick. And I crawl into bed wondering why I don’t actually feel rested. I feel just as tired as I did this morning, I don’t understand this whole rest thing. I didn’t do anything all day but I’d be just as tired if I had busted my butt getting things done AND I’d actually have something to show for it. In the back of my mind I subconsciously decide God must not know what He’s talking about when He says we need rest. I don’t think rest really matters. If it did, surely I’d feel different afterward? My adrenal fatigue continues to plague me.

 

Clearly I’m not winning at this so what’s my problem?

 

In scenario #1 I flat out didn’t rest. That’s my problem. In Scenerio #2, I relaxed but don’t feel rested. Is God wrong or am I missing something? God is never wrong. Any struggle I have in my life is due to MY wrong view of God or MY wrong view of His instruction. But why do I keep spinning my wheels? Why can I not figure this out? What am I missing? I can’t heal my body of adrenal fatigue with either of these scenarios – neither of them is getting me anywhere.

Here’s the thing God finally opened my eyes to: I don’t actually know how to rest.

It finally clicks that this is what bothered me most while watching Tribal Wives. None of their rest revolved around technology. Their rest revolved around relaxing their bodies but engaging with others. I don’t know how to do this. Like, real talk, I don’t know how to relax without distracting my mind with technology. I’ve never really thought about it but I can’t do it. If I choose not to work, my default is technology. If I choose not to be on technology, my default is work.

After thinking this over for months, I truly believe the American culture has trained me to respond to resting on Sundays with the same two scenarios. In scenario #1 I’m driven by the underlying belief in our culture that if I’m not doing it all, I’m lazy. I have to keep moving constantly to even remotely keep up with the demands of my lifestyle. I feel like a hamster trained to run on the wheel and I can’t figure out how to get off without feeling like a failure.  

 

And then scenario #2 – if you are going to rest, our culture believes that technology is where it’s at.

Is this not the epitome of being of the world? You guys, are you getting this? This gives me goosebumps. I am called to be IN the world, not OF the world. There are some things that are a non-issue – an unbeliever and I can eat pizza together and that doesn’t make me of the world. Eating pizza is not a sin issue in and of itself. But when I don’t know how to rest like a believer, I’m acting of the world.

Rest like a believer?

Rest is a gift from God. God has made it perfectly clear to me recently that rest is not a sin, laziness is a sin. Which got me thinking, what’s the difference? I have a general idea but the nagging feeling He’s put on my heart has left me wondering: 

 

Am I indulging in hours and hours of laziness and trying to claim it as rest? What IS biblical rest?

 

As I’ve started pondering this question I can’t help but think of David in Psalm 23

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.

He makes me lie down in green pastures.

He leads me beside still waters.

He restores my soul.

He leads me in paths of righteousness

for his name’s sake.

Take a minute and read that again, thinking of adrenal fatigue, tribal wives, and modern Christianity. No really, slow down and read each and every line.

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.

When was the last time you didn’t “want?” Isn’t that what drives us, with adrenal fatigue, to exhaustion and depletion? We want and we don’t have so we go, go, go. We push harder and harder and harder until we have nothing left to give, which honestly ignores the whole gospel. I’m not supposed to be able to meet all my needs. I can never, ever have all the earthly things I want or the perfect circumstances I imagine. But without meaning to, I’ve let my culture overrule this truth in my mind. I’m deceived that He really isn’t enough. That I have what it takes. Goodness, just hop on pinterest and search inspirational quotes and you’ll be bombarded by colorful, creatively doodled quotes of deception. I don’t have what it takes. Adrenal fatigue proves that I don’t have what it takes. I’ve given 143973% and still failed. Instead of throwing myself into a sobbing heap on the floor that I can’t achieve all that I want, I need to fall to my knees and praise the Lord that He is enough. I need to replace my pride with humility and acknowledge that even though my future is secure in Him, I still need Him to be Lord of my life. He’s not fire insurance to be put on a dusty shelf, He’s the one who should fill my cup daily and bring me contentment despite not having all I think I want.

He makes me lie down in green pastures.

He leads me beside still waters.

He restores my soul.

This is where I’m really ashamed. And convicted. I read this and imagine myself relaxing in green pastures. Relaxing beside a calm river. But if I’m honest with myself, if I were really, truly doing that, my soul wouldn’t feel restored. You know why? Because I would be laying there thinking about all the laundry in my hampers. I’d be wondering what time I needed to leave to make it to the store in time. I’d probably spend a good chunk of time on my phone. Mmmm, doesn’t imagining that make your soul feel so restored?

You guys, this scares me. This is a big, huge, fat problem. David is describing His soul feeling restored in the Lord and I can’t relate. I’ve read and heard this verse a million times but my sinful, energizer bunny brain doesn’t even know what this feels like. What have I been jipping my heart and my body from in thinking that rest from TV was enough for me? That’s like feeding my body processed food and watching it slowly break down with disease – my body wants the real thing. It wants REAL food. Why is my soul any different? In my pitiful attempts at rest, I’m feeding my soul To-Do lists and social media when it needs CHRIST. My adrenal fatigue is starting to make a whole lot of sense. For me personally, adrenal fatigue is a reflection of my spiritual condition in the same way diabetes is a result of diet choices.

I’m sick to my stomach.

He leads me in paths of righteousness

for his name’s sake.

Hmmm. HE leads me? All I can remember from the last 2 years is ME choosing what I would and wouldn’t do each day. Granted I let go of the obsession but I still need to make decisions, right? But why am I not praying and asking God for clarity over my decisions? As my eyes are being opened to my lifestyle, I’m convinced that everything I choose to do in a day isn’t what God would have me do that day. Even reading my bible has been a battle for me, which is a whole other animal I’m not sure I want to get into right now. Suffice to say that I don’t know how to turn my brain off for very long, to be able to focus on what I’m reading. Getting into the Word is short lived at each attempt and always results in me bringing the focus back on myself and my day because “things just need to get done,” right? And paths of righteousness? I’m not sure that my choice to watch TV [that I didn’t consult God about] could be justified as righteousness. Or taking it a step further, while being a skilled home maker is an honorable and biblical thing that would be considered “a path of righteousness,” what if this too is muddied by our culture? How much time am I unnecessarily playing home maker, cleaning things I shouldn’t even own to begin with? Am I doing things that are a waste of time and claiming it as righteous? Who could I have been sharing the gospel with or loving on instead, during that time I spent sorting through piles of papers? I never saw a Tribal Wife sort through papers. And who’s name sake have I really been doing this for??

 
So, back to that “Put Off, Put On” list from my first post, I need to put off obsessive control and put on on rest in the Lord. Not just relaxing to rest my body, but resting my soul in the Lord. I used to think I knew what that meant, but I realized I was confused.

You know how you can hear something a million times but it never sinks in? How many times have I made the cliche comment to someone that I pray they’ll find rest in the Lord? How many times have I prayed it for myself? Every time I prayed for it and it calmed my nerves or fears about something, I felt like I had achieved rest in the Lord, but you know what I’ve realized?

I think I was confusing peace for rest.

I’ve found peace in the Lord many times, but I honestly don’t know that I’ve EVER found rest in the Lord. Primarily because I don’t think I know what it really means. I can’t heal from adrenal fatigue if I don’t know how to rest. And so far all the resting I’ve done has been futile because it’s been without God. I want to experience the soul restoring, life giving, breath of fresh air that I can only get from rest in God. 

 

So, in the next post, I want to do a few things:

  • I want to dig through scripture about laziness and compare it to scriptures about rest. I need this truth to saturate my heart. I need to be able to call out my misplaced guilt when I’m resting, to speak truth to myself when I hear the world’s voice in my head telling me I’m a lazy bum for not working harder.
  • I need to dig through verses to discover what rest in the Lord really looks like. I’m heavily convicted that I need to discipline my mind to not wander during my time in the Word and my time in prayer. I think I fall prey to the culture’s constant pull toward over stimulation – I need to train myself to be ok with focusing on one thing. I need to discipline my mind to relax and my body to truly rest.

I cannot tell you how excited my over-tired body is to be seeking out genuine rest in the Lord after battling this for so long. The world cannot give me rest. The world does not have the answers to my problems. I sought my strength out in the wrong places and am so very ready to calm my stress as I find rest in the Lord.

 

If you’re struggling with this as well, I highly encourage you to watch Tribal Wives! None of the episodes are connected to each other so you don’t need to watch them in order. I’d love to hear what you take away from it and any other wisdom you have on this whole topic. I’m encouraged by you all every single day and can’t wait to hear what God’s teaching you as well!

Why my Adrenal Fatigue is more than a hormone problem

Adrenal Fatigue, part 1 [Balding & My Sinful Heart]

I’ve shared the general health issues of my family, but I don’t really talk about my health. I don’t have any allergies. I don’t deal with a disease. I’m overall a seemingly healthy person, but I’ve been battling adrenal fatigue since April 2013.

Most testimonies I read of adrenal fatigue involve driven women that work so hard over a lengthy period of time that they eventually deplete their adrenal glands and crash and burn. I don’t have that testimony. I used to be the laziest human being on the planet. My life’s goal was to skate my way out of every responsibility on my plate. If there was an Olympic event for sitting on your butt, I would have won. I was nowhere near being a candidate for adrenal fatigue.

The launching point of my adrenal fatigue - our 6 weeks premature baby.

But on April 4th, 2013, Cooper was born 6 weeks premature and my entire world was flipped upside down. For the 5 solid weeks of our NICU life, much was required of me. I experienced a constant adrenal rush; It was like I drank 10 monsters a day. My blood was pumping, my heart was racing. I had more on my plate than I’d ever had before and my mama bear instincts were full force. I was overwhelmed, I was stressed. I felt like the only way Cooper would get to come home was if I worked hard enough to get him there. I drove myself into the ground. [you can read a little more of the story here.]

Cooper hooked up to his apnea monitor while I try to tackle gardening with Emery

When we came home from the hospital I couldn’t shut it off as I scrambled to find a new normal for our wounded family. We were all drained from the ordeal and had each coped in our own ways. I wanted, more than anything, for our lives to go on as if the NICU had never happened. I wanted healthy meals made, our home clutter free, house projects done, pinterest projects ready for my artistic little Emery, etc etc. I was frantically grasping at anything and everything that I thought would make home life feel normal and to finish the things I had envisioned already being done when Cooper came home after a normal birth. I literally had surges of adrenaline consistently throughout the day. They slowly became less frequent, but I was still in pretty bad shape. I would be emotionally fine for a few hours and then all the sudden my whole body would tense up. I would start spazzing at Andrew, snapping and critiquing him for dumb things, things typically related to doing something to get the house or our lives in order. It took me several weeks to realize it was happening with each surge of adrenaline. I had to start learning to control my emotions and my tongue each time I felt it happen.

I didn’t realize how bad it really was though until my post-pregnancy hair shedding wouldn’t stop. With Emery I had the normal hair loss – definitely lost a lot of hair, but nothing to be concerned about. With Cooper, I was literally balding.

I tried to pull up pics with similar hair styles. The photos on the left are before or immediately after Cooper was born. Photos on the right are within 3 months after his birth. You can see the thickness of the hair on my back [and my bald patch], how thin my braid became [at least 2/3 skinnier], and how I could no longer cover my forehead in a thick layer of side-swooping bangs.
 

I stopped brushing my hair because it would pull so much out. I tried to go as long as I could between washings to preserve as much as I could. I had a nagging feeling that something wasn’t right but I was in denial. Surely I was going to wake up one morning and it would be done, right? I think my snapping point and final moment of realization that I had a problem was when Andrew walked past me one evening in July and ran his fingers though my hair as he went by – I completely lost it.

“STOP! You freaking CAN’T touch my hair! You don’t understand Andrew, you can’t even barely touch it because even one little touch makes SO MUCH fall out. DON’T EVER DO THAT AGAIN!”

+ tears.

I’m pretty sure that as soon as I calmed down, I went straight to the computer to find out what the heck was wrong with me. I posted on a holistic FB forum, just to see what input people would have for me before I started researching. I always conclude I’m about to die if I head straight for webMD ;-)

Once people realized I knew what normal post-pregnancy hair loss was, the resounding response was thyroid or adrenals. I get my thyroid tested every time I get blood work done because we have a history of issues in my family, so I knew that wasn’t the issue. Also, someone mentioned that if you’re also loosing the outer third of your eyebrows, that was an indication of a thyroid problem. My eyebrows were intact.

A few people specifically mentioned adrenal fatigue. What the heck is that?

I started looking into it and couldn’t believe what I was reading. The concept of adrenal fatigue is not a widely accepted condition but there was no doubt in my mind that it was my problem. Essentially adrenal fatigue is when a person has, for various reasons, pushed themselves so hard that they’ve depleted or at least partially depleted the hormones in their adrenal glands. For some people it’s a lifestyle problem, for others it’s the result of a life crisis like a death, house fire, job loss, etc, etc. It’s considered the 21st century syndrome. The more depleted you are, the more intense the recovery. Adrenal fatigue is healed through rest, diet, supplementation, and exercise.

I called Andrew into the room and had him read a few articles. We sat and talked for awhile about what this meant and how we needed to make healing a priority for our whole family’s sake.

But then he caught me off guard.

“You realize a lot of this is just a sin issue, right?”

Huh?

“I’m not saying your hormones aren’t out of whack, but there’s also sin involved.”

The last 3 months flew through my head and my eyes were instantly opened to the reality of my sin. I knew I had a hormone problem, but Andrew was right. I also had a heart problem. I realized that as soon as Cooper was born I had spent every moment grasping for control over the situation. I was never able to nest while pregnant because I was on bed rest, so the second I came home from the hospital I started doing stupid stuff like sewing pillow cases before he was a week old and rearranging bedrooms to prepare for his homecoming. I went psycho trying to get things done.

Cooper came home on an apnea monitor

 

I was also bluntly told by an RN, 4 weeks into our NICU stay, that bringing Cooper home on an apnea monitor didn’t mean he wouldn’t die of SIDS. Her words sent my hormones and desire for control into over drive. My trust in the sovereignty of God was almost zero. MY BABY CAN’T DIE. HOW DO I KEEP MY BABY FROM DYING? Insert hyperventilation, tears, and obsessive desire for control. I threw myself into researching causes for apneas, how to reduce the chances of SIDS, and lost much sleep in my panicked state.

A hand full of other things happened as well that all were rooted in my lack of contentment and satisfaction in Christ. I wasn’t resting in Him, I was convinced true rest would only come after I got the results I wanted from the hard work I was putting in.

Oh what a night. God used Andrew’s words to grab my heart right then and there and convict me of the control I was trying to have over my life. I spent a good deal of the evening in the word, praying, and repenting.

I hesitate to say this because I feel like I’ll be burned at the stake by a doctor or something but, I kid you not, I never lost another hair after that night. It was about a year and a half before I even had any come out when I brushed my hair or took a shower. It still hasn’t grown in fully, it’s still very thin by my temples, but it’s filling in slowly.

The photos below are a progression of growth. Praise the Lord my hair no longer sticks up like that!
The second set of pictures is a before and after - the left is during the worst of my adrenal fatigue, the photo on the left is after addressing my sin issues. You can tell my bald patches have filled in.

No other symptoms went away that night – I still dealt with adrenaline rushes and unbelievable brain fog. I was constantly overwhelmed, never refreshed after sleeping, had insomnia, surges of energy at night, major fatigue during the day, extremely low blood pressure, and poor immunity [maybe you’ve noticed that I mention I’m sick practically every other week on Instagram?]. However, a huge first step of healing for me was realizing that there was a reason I was depleted, and it wasn’t just life’s circumstances. I needed my sin pattern to be called out if I was ever going to find healing. If I had just tried to heal the body and not the heart, I’m sure I would have continued to fall back into the same patterns over and over.

I have made huge strides in my daily decisions. The healing process has been 2 steps forward, 1 step back. My adrenaline rushes are almost gone. My brain fog has significantly alleviated [I think the remaining fog is actually due to another problem, for another post]. I often wake up refreshed, if Cooper sleeps through the night. I’m forcing myself to go to bed earlier more often – I find that if I stay up past a certain point, I get a second wind that I typically don’t recover from for hours. I’m often up until at least 2 in the morning those nights. I also started taking supplements from my chiropractor that helped tremendously.

However, I’m still not healed.

Have you ever seen that scripture-based “put off, put on” list? You know, put off hate, put on love. Put off irritability, put on patience, and so on and so forth? Each pair comes with verses to back up why you should not be doing one thing and why you should replace it with the other. I was introduced to this chart several years ago and I think of the concept often.

Whenever I realize I’m battling a sin issue, I find that I often put the sin off, but don’t replace it with the godly opposite. I remove the offense but then just flounder in a lukewarm state, rather than pursue God whole heartedly in the particular area. So, in this instance, God removed the obsessive desire for control from my heart but now I’m completely lukewarm. I have a hard time knowing how to articulate this, but while I don’t have an obsessive desire for control anymore, I’m just not anything in this area. I don’t think about it. I don’t think about control, I don’t think about God’s sovereignty or praise Him for His control, I just am.

Almost 2 years after developing adrenal fatigue, God has finally opened my eyes to what I need to put on in this area, and it convicted me right to the core. Not only is doing the wrong thing a sin, but NOT doing the right thing is a sin as well. To find adrenal healing for me personally, God revealed that I need to replace my desire for control with more than just acknowledging and praising Him for His control.

Click here for: Adrenal Fatigue part 2 [Tribal Wives and the Problem with Modern Christians]

Have you dealt with or are you dealing with adrenal fatigue?

Have you recognized a sin pattern connected to it?

I’d love to hear your story!