Anne’s Story: No More Tissues for Jennifer

Sneeze, sniffle, wipe, sneeze, sniffle, wipe, my daughter Jennifer was sneezing her head off throughout the whole last year. She seems to be allergic to something all the time and the stress of being a junior in high school made it all worse. I understand that as the mother of an average teenage girl I’m not the most credible source, but I must say that she was in a foul mood a lot of the time, and for no apparent reason. I thought it was odd too at her last check-up that she put on 20 pounds but only one inch of height.

Her doctor’s visit showed blood triglyceride 178 – almost twice as high as the normal upper limit of 80 for her age. Her vitamin D was only half of the lower limit of normal range. She had started a vegetarian diet about eight months ago and she ate no fatty meat, only a little fish. Where did the blood fat come from? The doctor suggested eating less egg. This didn’t make sense to me. I searched more on the internet and saw some connection between insulin and fat. It was my Suppers experience that helped me make the connection to sugar.

I accidentally discovered that my daughter buys candies and eats them by the bags. We are Chinese, this just isn’t the food we eat. This discovery made me think about sugar and insulin and how we learned that “how you feel is data.” Also, both of my grandfathers died with diabetes. Jennifer’s bad moods were terrible, and she didn’t want to hear about the effects of sugar. She explained to me that lots of her friends eat much more sugar and are OK. I thought: Suppers teaches me that sugar can cause a lot more problems! I kept researching more about sugar and what I discovered led me to help her start the detox.

Originally I came to Suppers to support myself. It was so frustrating trying to get my family to eat well. They tell me I’m weird. They tell me about all their friends who get to eat a lot more junk food, “And look at them, Mom, they’re just fine!” Eating out was so unpleasant, with me feeling uncomfortable around all that bad food and my family so excited to be away from the food prison I was creating at home. It took going to Suppers to realize I’m not an extremist or in any way weird. We have a distorted view of what normal is in this country. I wanted to make more natural foods. Natural and normal should both be the same thing, but they aren’t.

The most important thing I learned – and this was a big surprise – was that I had to stop judging! But how was I going to make them stop eating bad food if I couldn’t judge them and tell them what to eat? I thought Dor was crazy when she said to stop judging! But I did it. Practicing this changed me in many ways, even outside the areas of food and health. I had to learn to accept and understand. Now I think my attitude change was the most important thing that happened in the program.

The problem with learning to not judge is that it doesn’t produce results really fast. I wanted to fix my family’s problem pronto, but that didn’t happen. So I had to be patient, to take courage from others in the same boat and struggle through. I learned to cook differently at Suppers and apply what I learned at home. We used to have salad only in summer. We started having it year round. We put flavor in the food without junk; we used nuts, and parsley, lemons, chia seeds, squashes I’d never seen before and so many different kinds of coconut. I didn’t know that coconut comes in so many different forms. These things were never in my home before. But yum, they started eating the food because it tasted good.

What finally brought Jennifer around was her own suffering. She attended some workshops. I didn’t press her, I just invited her. She heard people other than her mother telling her that, “How you feel is data.” She learned what dehydration feels like, how to tell the difference between thirst and hunger and how to read “food cues.” On another occasion, I read about a Suppers group that was doing a 10-day detox together. It made it so much easier to engage in the detox process knowing that others would be struggling with the same challenges at the same time. I made an appointment for my daughter at the clinic of the doctor who wrote the detox book. Her allergies were so bad she’d go around with a shopping bag and fill it with used tissues in a day or two. Then, guess what. After the detox we canceled the appointment because she didn’t need it any more! This was not some seasonal fluke. My daughter had been sneezing, sniffling and wiping for a year!

I want other mothers to know that you can’t give up on this. If your children are eating lots of candy and snack meals in addition to whatever healthy meals you give them and they have terrible allergies, it’s probably the sugary foods that are driving the allergies. As soon as I stopped judging her, she had only her own suffering to deal with; she didn’t have me to argue with about what was making her sneeze all the time.

Listen, my new daughter tells me when we’re about to run out of almond butter and coconut oil. Wouldn’t you be thrilled to have your daughter tell you you’re out of almond butter and coconut oil? She makes smoothies. She cooks soup. She got cranky about our cheap food processor and made me get a high-speed blender. I had to keep a straight face when I complained about the price. Now you can’t keep her away from her green smoothies!

As I said, we are Chinese. We make rice balls when we have guests. Last time my daughter made them with mostly cauliflower and it was cute and delicious! I don’t know what to think about the health problems of eating grains. It’s hard to be Chinese and not eat grains, particularly rice. But we did the experiment and saw that this too was necessary. We learned to go without rice for a while to do the detox.

In the end, my daughter needed supplements too to turn around her allergies. We used: PGX fiber, vitamin D, minerals, and cinnamon before meals. Breakfast is shakes with berries, chia, hemp seeds, pumpkin seeds and nuts including almond, walnut, and Brazil nuts. The recipes are all delicious, better than ice cream! Yes, sometimes she felt herself missing sweets. We just talked about it. The temptation now is hardest when we travel and get hit with so many ”food cues.” I think what annoys me most is that even places like school and church and community events that are supposed to be good healthy family activities, they are all still loaded with sugar. This makes me crazy.

My daughter wakes up without much running nose. She feels clear not foggy in the morning. She is able to concentrate more on her studies and she’s on top of her college applications. The change in her eating even led to her looking at better college options; she has more energy. She lost eight pounds in ten days while actually feeling full.

Here is my logical miracle: Without my changing one thing about myself except not judging, all of a sudden I’m a good mother because of the changes that happened inside her.