Sunday, March 27, 2011

Deficiencies

I got a call I should have expected, that Punky's iron and vitamin D levels were low.  In fact, at a "12," she's not getting enough vitamin D to support healthy bone growth.
We've already started her on Poly-Vi-Sol with Iron, the standard infant and toddler vitamin.  We're trialing it just like a food, starting out with a 1/4 dose, waiting a couple days, and giving more.  So far, she's had it twice and is keeping it down.  This is really good news for now.  But, we may be nearing the decision to put Punky on an elemental formula.

It's ironic that this comes exactly ten years after I made the decision to stop eating meat.  I became a vegetarian for a number of reasons, some health, some ethical, some just to see if I could do it.  As a vegetarian, I found that I wasn't limited in what I ate, but exposed to so many more foods I never would have tried before.  It took me awhile to adjust my diet to my body's needs.  I had to learn that being vegetarian required a little more work than going into Whole Foods and stocking up on Pirates' Booty and Amy's cheese enchiladas.  But I got to a point where I didn't have to think about it.  I knew that I was getting enough protein, calcium, vitamins, etc. and didn't need to worry about supplements.

When I got pregnant with Boo, a lot of people asked me, "so you have to eat meat again now?"  My answer was a frustrated, "NO!"  How was adding artery-clogging meat going to benefit my growing baby?  But meat, or no meat, this was the start of my own downward spiral, nutritionally speaking.  I was extremely sick during my first (and part of the second) trimester.  I couldn't keep down much more than Cheerios.  The sight and smell of prenatal vitamins made me double over gagging so I didn't take them.  I later compromised and used children's chewables.  They were better than nothing.  When the sickness passed, I decided to enjoy being pregnant and eat whatever I wanted, usually in the form of Ben and Jerry's.

I've done a lot of worrying about how my pregnancy diet could have affected Boo and his multiple food allergies.  My gynecologist told me, when I got pregnant with Punky, to avoid all nuts because there was evidence linking maternal diet to peanut allergy.  I asked Boo's allergist about it and got the opposite answer.  Literally.  He said there was NO evidence that my diet would cause allergies for my next baby.  So obviously, this matter is not quite settled.  But I feel guilty, just the same.  Maybe there was something I ate, or didn't eat, that made my kids the way they are.

I can't go back and change the nutrients they received in utero, but I can control what they eat now.  We strive to keep healthy food in the house, not just serving it to Boo, but letting him see US eat it.  I firmly believe that kids learn their eating habits by watching their parents.  It's been a challenge, but I've happily chomped down some of my least favorite vegetables in front of Boo every evening at the dinner table.  He doesn't always eat his vegetables, but he doesn't always refuse either.  It gives me personal satisfaction to know that I don't have to "hide" the vegetables to get him to eat them.

But maybe I've fallen into a trap of believing my family eats healthier than we really do.  "We go to the farmer's market," I think to myself.  "I read labels.  I choose whole grains.  I cook from scratch."  But I still think there are some gaps in our daily requirements.  And too many Trader Joe's snacks.

I've started keeping a food journal, an extremely tedious project, but necessary for figuring out how we're doing.  Also, I've started taking a daily multivitamin, at night, on a full stomach.  I still think it's disgusting.  And it goes against what I've always believed, that we should be able to get all our nutrients from food.  But I'll do it for my kids, to lead them by example.

I've always envisioned raising my children in a vegetarian home, but still joked that if for some reason meat came between my children and starvation, I'd go out and slaughter a cow myself.  Now, multiple food allergies and FPIES are making me eat my words.  I still hope that one day, when my kids are more tolerant of other proteins, they might choose a vegetarian diet.  And if not, at least they will have been given a good nutritional start in life by my feeding them the best I can; breast milk, formula, meat, and supplements included.

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