That's why the anti-fungal diet turned me off initially. I looked at the forbidden foods and dismissed any possibility of getting my family to eliminate all of them.
Besides, we were on a heavy de-tox protocol. We had already taken out refined sugars and gluten. The restrictions of the anti-fungal diet required more energy than I could spare.
However, as 2009 progressed, I sensed we needed a more radical dietary approach. Hippocrates said, "Extreme remedies are very appropriate for extreme diseases."
Weight loss was never our goal. Several in our family had experienced unexplained weight gain while in the Colorado house. I learned much later that toxin excess is a common reason for this. Individuals can gain 25 - 50 pounds in a year during exposure.
The more mycotoxins and other toxins accumulate, the more fat the body will produce to store the toxins. Fungal exposure often leads to strong sugar and carb cravings, which adds to the problem.
At the beginning of the de-tox we were told by our doctor that it can take a year before weight loss occurs, due to disturbed leptin levels.
While some would benefit from losing, others of us needed to gain weight as our leptin levels were abnormally low. This too was put on the back burner. We first needed to find a diet that would attack the mold inside us.
We found Doug Kaufmann's Phase One Diet extremely helpful. Especially his cookbook, "Eating Your Way to Good Health." Kaufmann and Dr. Doug Holland's list of 10 foods commonly contaminated with mycotoxins provided a strong motivation to make difficult changes.
And they were difficult.
The turning point came when I came across the book, "Healing with Whole Foods" by Paul Pitchford. I immediately turned to the chapter titled, "Controlling Candida with Diet." Combining Pitchford's information with Kaufmann's made sense to me. (A summary of Pitchford's dampness explanation is here.)
Now I was excited by the multitude of foods we could eat. As I studied their specific nutritional values I began to see food as medicine--my goal from the beginning.
But how do you get children on board with a radical dietary plan? My older kids' digestive tracts guided their decisions. They greeted each change with enthusiasm as we tried adzuki beans, vegetable juices, and congee. (The vegetable juicing turned into a 10-day juice fast for one of my daughters, and a 3-day juice fast for myself. We both found it extremely helpful.)
We eliminated red meat and dairy, and added wheat grass.
The younger kids fought the changes. Unfortunately for them, I was no longer willing to placate their taste buds. Food was now their medicine and I was the unrelenting sergeant.
The road to a healthy and helpful diet has been a long one. I find myself discouraged and overwhelmed often.
I try to remember how far we've come at those moments.
Chris has lost 55 pounds. Another daughter has lost 25 pounds. (It took her 12 months to lose a pound, just as predicted.) But weight loss isn't what we're celebrating. It's the fact that we've found a measure of stability in our health and enjoyment in the foods we eat.
For New Year's we made "Rizza," our own version of pizza. Jasmine rice topped with organic marinara sauce, chicken sausage, and onions.
As we head into 2010, here are 10 things I've learned this year about food and health:
1.Weight loss is not always about willpower.
2.When food becomes a friend, it often betrays.
3. Sometimes we're hungry for something other than food.
4. Children can adjust to extreme diet changes.
5. Life without coffee is possible after all.
6. Alkaline foods help when there has been a toxic exposure.
7. Our bodies are unique with individual and specific needs.
8. Food begins to taste differently as the diet is altered.
9. Chlorophyll is the fungus fighter's best friend.
10. When our focus is off the "forbidden," we often find a garden of opportunities.