The Road to Recovery?

I went to a nutritionist about 2 weeks ago, now. I was expecting a short (perhaps 30-45 minutes) session, just like the last nutritionist I was sent to. I was there for two hours. We covered pretty much everything that's happened over the past year. The lengthy list of foods I'm not allowed to eat, the diagnosis of my condition, the tests leading up to said diagnosis, all the meds/supplements I've had to take for various reasons, the weight loss, the emotional strain and stress that's come along with the wild nutritional ride of the last year... all of it. It was nice to have a new face to talk to about all of this AND someone who was actually interested enough to ask deeper questions in order to get a good picture of what's going on with my system (instead of just making basic assumptions and finding out later they were wrong because they hadn't asked me the right questions).

And in the end, she was rather appalled with the way my case has been handled. No real regulation of my nutrition (beyond what I think I know or may have picked up along the way - not all of which is correct). A haphazardly executed elimination diet that was not implemented properly and has spiraled way out of control. And too many people telling me to do things that end up contradicting what other people tell me to do.

Some of the specific highlights I found interesting:
1) Elimination diets are not supposed to last any longer than 4 weeks. Maybe 6 weeks in special or more difficult cases. But not 9 months (the current duration of my elimination diet).
2) The elimination diet I was put on was randomly thrown together, and didn't even take out half of the top food categories that are commonly taken out of the diet in food eliminations when dealing with GI problems.
3) This diet of mine hasn't even worked because my symptoms aren't fully gone. The whole point of an elimination diet is to get rid of all symptoms, and then challenge different foods back into the diet (over a 3-day period) to see what creates symptoms again.
4) Some of my ongoing symptoms could possibly be occurring simply because I've probably been lacking the proper balance of nutrition for the past 6-9 months. [Yeah, that one scored major sarcasm points from me. Way to go, docs. Make me sicker in an effort to make me better, what?]*
5) Some med schools don't require any nutrition instruction in their curriculum for their graduates. (Read: some doctors know just about as much as you do about proper nutrition.) A registered dietitian actually has to keep up with current nutrition studies and advances; doctors are not required to. [In the famous words of the Ghostbusters song: Who ya gonna call?]**

Because of my current condition, I can't just jump into eating all of this food on my No-List again. I have to wean myself onto those foods again, since it's been so long since I had them in my diet at all, and the body takes awhile to switch itself to optimally and efficiently digesting foods one adds to one's diet. A drastic switch for me would not be a good idea. But, before we even start that, my nutritionist and I agreed that getting rid of the symptoms completely is the top priority, since adding food back in now, while I still have symptoms, wouldn't necessarily tell me what foods are causing symptoms or aggravating things or whatever.

So. The plan we've agreed upon is this [you will note I said agreed upon]:
1) For the next 4 weeks I will be taking:
- enzymes with every meal to help the digestive process
- probiotics every morning to replenish the good bacteria that my nutritionist thinks has been stripped from my gut
- fish oil every evening with dinner to give a big boost of omega-3 fatty acids in my system (fats that are extremely good for the digestive system as well as a lot of other bodily functions) [Um, yeah, this one is gross - my fish oil is lemon-flavored, but doesn't at all hide the fact that it's fish oil]
2) After 4 weeks, I'll go back to see her and we'll assess how those things have worked (or not). If not, then I'll go on a full-elimination diet (read: crazier than the current diet) in order to figure out exactly what is causing my symptoms. This will last no longer than 3 weeks, hopefully only 2. After the 2-3 weeks of the full-elimination diet, we'll take another 2 weeks to challenge the major foods taken away in this full-elimination diet to figure out exactly what was causing the symptoms.
3) After #1 (and possibly #2 if #1 doesn't fully cut it), then we'll begin reintroducing foods on my No-List in a way that will allow me to figure out what else causes symptoms.

The ultimate goal is to get me on a diet that is highly nutritious and doesn't cause symptoms so that I can get off of the meds/supplements that the docs have me taking. She agrees with me that there has to be a more natural way for me to regulate my system than taking a bunch of prescriptions every day.

My favorite quote from the 2 hours I spent with her: "We'll fix you, don't worry."

Ah, it's amazing what 5 little words can do to elevate one's mood and bring hope to a seemingly endless road of troubles.

Here's to my road to recovery - it seems a lot more reachable these days!

Clarifications I feel are important to bring up:

* I don't mean to drag on what my doctors have done for me. They're good people, and they did do a lot to try and figure out what is actually wrong with me. Unfortunately, most of the frustration I feel toward this whole experience gets laid on my doctors since they're supposed to be the ones who can fix me. So, take my cynicism toward doctors with a grain of salt - I would be much worse off than I currently am had I not gone to see the docs.

** I'm in no way trying to imply that a med school degree is easy, nor that a doctor's job is smooth sailing. I know too many people in the medical field to think that. All I'm saying is that it's a bit appalling that, while we feel we should be able to trust our doctors anything going wrong in our bodies, that's not the case with nutrition - something that effects us all much more than anyone realizes. To be fair, though, I find it equally appalling that grade schools are not required to teach nutrition curriculum to U.S. children whose collective weight continues to increase year after year as children become more and more obese at younger and younger ages.


New Meatball Sauce of AWESOME!

Chris was here last weekend, and for dinner on Monday night before he left, I made meatballs with rice and steamed green beans. Simple, easy, yum. Except that as the meatballs were baking (yes, I said baking, check this recipe), I was thinking about what I could put on the meatballs, since just meatballs and rice alone is a little dry.

And then I had an idea, the lightbulb above my (suddenly cartoonized?) head went on. I used to make this beef stir-fry with broccoli, celery, and carrots. [Ha, notice that this is a baaaaad meal for me these days: stir-fry, broccoli, celery, and carrots. Out of the 4 main parts of the description of that meal, only the non-bolded one is the one I can still eat. *sigh*]

But, back to the topic at hand: my awesome idea stemming from this stir-fry I used to make all the time. The sauce for the stir-fry is a thick brown sauce - really good for beef. And since my meatballs are made out of beef, I figured I'd just adjust the balance of ingredients a little and see what I came up with.

3 words: It was delicious! (Score!)

And so, today's post is short and sweet, but with a killer new meatball sauce! [Sorry kids, no pictures this time.]

Meatball Sauce
used in a meal of meatballs (half-size from linked recipe) & brown rice with steamed green beans and homemade honey-oat bread - mmm!

2.5 Tbsp reduced-sodium soy sauce
<1/2 cup water (but >1/3) [hooray for non-exact measurements!]
1.5 Tbsp brown sugar, packed
1 Tbsp + 1 tsp cornstarch

1. Mix together thoroughly.
2. When meatballs are about 2-3 minutes from being done, put the mixture on very low heat in a small saucepan.
3. Stir constantly until mixture thickens. [If you want it a little thicker, add a pinch more cornstarch perhaps, but a little goes a long way!]
4. Serve hot over top of the meatballs - it will be too thick to drizzle over the rice as well, but the heat and moisture of the rice softens the sauce up a bit.


[Okay, let's be serious. The reason I like this sauce so much is because I've found a way to incorporate a small amount brown sugar into my cooking again. I have a rather large infatuation with brown sugar when it comes to cooking and baking. No joke!]