So, clearly the next thing to do on the quest for health is to examine our diet. We've been talking about this since Saturday, trying to figure out what is the best thing.
After much research, here are our options (alone or in combination): dairy-free, gluten-free, vegan, macrobiotic.
(disclaimer: I admit that I go between being sort of anything-goes and rather-strict. In any case, I do try very hard to use/eat real ingredients -- if I'm going to use butter, I'm going to use butter, you know what I mean? -- however, I'm also totally on-board with a gradual shift towards any of these diets/philosophies, keeping in mind that it's for Terri's -- and my -- health)
We already do the first three on and off. We have a hard time giving up dairy and wheat. And sugar. But I really feel like we'd both feel SO much better without those three things. I hear lots of good things about macrobiotic, but that involves learning lots of stuff. However, we're pretty good at learning stuff, so we're definitely investigating. Here are some thoughts on each:
Dairy-free: I can easily do this. Well, relatively easily. I do like cheese. And butter. But I'm fine with Earth Balance and I can do without cheese (I guess...). I also like ice cream, but I recently saw some coconut-milk 'ice cream' that looked pretty good. I think this is probably the easiest of all the options. Terri likes her milk, but I think we could wean her off that. We recently discovered coconut milk in a carton, like soy milk. It's pretty good, actually. Kind of expensive, but would be fine for occasional use. We're also fine with soy or rice milk. Lots of CFS folks are dairy-free and I know it's a pretty common thing to do to try and remedy GI distress and also as an energy-booster.
Gluten-free: I wouldn't even really consider this except for all the talk in the CFS community that this helps many people with their GI distress. Also, I suspect that even though all the tests I've had never indicate any problem with wheat or gluten, that wheat/gluten has a bad effect on my stomach. I try to stay away from it (baking is the exception) usually and I feel good without bread/crackers/etc. We have no idea how this would affect Terri, since she hasn't tried it yet. However, lots of people say this has made a difference to them, so it's worth thinking about. I know that an actual gluten-free diet is pretty challenging, so this one might take some easing into or maybe we just try for a most-0f-the-time kind of solution.
Vegan: So if we go dairy-free, we'd pretty much be vegan. I do use eggs for baking but I know there are easy fixes for that. I rarely use honey, etc. I think this would actually be pretty easy for us, if we could figure out the dairy part. I like veganism for eating and as a lifestyle (choosing products not made at any animals' expense), but it would take awhile to figure all that out. However, like I said, if we do go dairy-free, it's just a few small steps to go vegan, so we'll think about that. What's the health gain, aside from the dairy-free? Actually, I'm not sure, except that it's good for the critters, and we like that.
Macrobiotic: This is a dairy-free diet, but not necessarily gluten-free nor vegan. However, it is pretty much sugar/processed/additive/etc. -free, and that's good news for CFS people. It's also one of those miracle-diets where people have amazing stories of health recoveries when they follow this diet. I know this would take some learning to get all the yin/yang balancing stuff, and we'd have to decide how to tailor the diet to us (apparently, it depends on where you live since most of the food is supposed to be local) and fiddle with it so that we like it, but I think actually we'd do fine on this. We like grains and veggies, and I've always wanted to try it. I got a couple of books from the library and my mouth was actually watering reading the recipes, so I think that's a good sign. I think we would feel good on this as long as we got enough protein from tofu, etc. I'm not opposed to fish every once in awhile, although I'm incredibly picky about fish and generally do not like it unless it's ultra-fresh and someone else cooks it. However, I'm looking at all the options.
So, clearly all of these could work in tandem in some sort of configuration. We're going to keep investigating. Terri is gearing up to try and go dairy-free (with the possible exception of milk in her tea in the morning, which she loves).
Changing our diet and getting rid of chemicals in our home will be a long process, but I think we'll have good payoff. I have a feeling we'll just sort of try all four of these things and find out what works best for us. I always like experimenting with food, so I'm happy to fiddle around with all this. Plus: new ingredients! Fun!