Tuesday, July 16, 2019

PANDAS Parent enemy of the week - SUGAR

I stood at the Lollipop 8 and under Swim Meet on Sunday evening and literally felt like sugar was attacking me. Everywhere I turned another piece of sugar popped up to tempt my children. It was, after all, called the Lollipop Meet, and they were given a lollipop after every race they swam. What did I expect was going to happen? On top of the lollipops, there was candy, snacks, snow cones with marshmallow cream topping... the list goes on and on.

Why does so much of summer depend on sweet treats?

Don't get me wrong - I have a huge sweet tooth myself and can barely resist anything remotely filled with sugar. And while I've always worked to have my girls eat healthy food, I've accepted a balance. Before PANDAS I knew that a snow cone, a lollipop, a cupcake, wasn't going to hurt them. They are great at eating fruits and vegetables and so sure - indulging in sugar every now and then is a part of childhood. 

Then, PANDAS hit, and in my search for answers to how to survive and recover from this disease I learned that it is a good idea to go sugar and gluten free. We put it off as long as we could, but after we realized how uncomfortable we are with our kids extended run of antibiotics, we decided we needed to try the dietary restrictions too.

We let the girls have one last hurrah on our family beach trip - Lucky Charms, ice cream, cookies, pizza - even soda - gasp. Then we came home, and over the last week have been cutting back significantly. 

It. Is. So. Hard.

There is sugar lurking everywhere. And don't even get me started on gluten. 

We've given ourselves until the end of the month to be fully gluten free, so right now we are limiting what we can and then making notes of the changes we need to make in the future. Bring our own gluten free and sugar free treats to birthday parties? Bring our own gluten free buns to swim meets and picnics? Not eat hot dogs because apparently they can be stuffed with gluten filler?? Life is about to get even more complicated. 

We took the girls to Whole Foods and let them get excited about choosing very exciting gluten free snacks, and the best gluten free bread there is. My husband silently cried at the dollar up charge on all the gluten free products, and I tried to stay upbeat as I sold the cauliflower cheese crackers. Mmmmm! Delicious!

The girls were appropriately excited. The next morning they peered at the dark, dense bread with hope. It looked so good compared to the other options. My oldest took one bite and burst into tears. That bite represented the taste of her new reality, and it wasn't a good one.

So Sunday night I felt like a warrior, bravely fighting the sugar wack-a-mole game that was the Lollipop meet. We evilly collected their lollipops after each race and promised them they would get to eat them at another time. (In the future we'll bring a sugar-free alternative, but we are still new to this). We calmly denied any of their requests for the sugar-filled-happiness snacks we used to let them buy at concessions, because, after all, it was a swim meet. I remember eating jello mix from the box at swim meets in my childhood. Swim meets = sugar.

Toward the end of the meet we found the five year old huddled on the side of her lounge chair, her head turned and tilted off to the side so we couldn't see her mouth. Her shoulders were slumped over in pure relief. One look at the back of her head told us exactly what she was doing. She'd snuck a hit of lollipop. 

The removal of the lollipop wasn't a pretty sight, nor was post-removal scene as the entire shallow end of the poop stared at the show we were giving them. To my daughter's credit, I'd probably react the same way if I'd had a lollipop taken out of my mouth. Not that she should have had it in the first place, but it wasn't a good situation for any of us.

Sadly, we've seen a great change in their ability to recover from stress now that we've limited sugar, so we're going to keep at it. (Except at night when I'm secretly eating nutella out of the jar, hiding in the laundry room when no one can find me.) 

No comments: