Back before kids, Irving and I would alternate cooking and eating out at small local diners. Then Dorian came along and we continued as normal, except that I wasn?t earning money, so pretty much everything was home cooked. It wasn?t until he had his first intestinal blockage that we realized he needed to follow a special diet, something no one had told us before.
I promptly contacted some parents of a five year old that had IA. We?d met online when Dorian was born and I knew they followed a strict diet with their son, but had always assumed that it was because he had more issues. They encouraged us to start a food journal to figure out just what affected Dorian and to keep track of bowel movements and types.
It rapidly became clear that Dorian was not doing well with the foods he was eating. He loved carbs like bread, pasta and cereal, but those were blocking him up. Milk caused problems. Refined sugar could cause him two weeks of constipation if he had too much in one sitting. And so began our diet.
It?s hard not to use bread, rice and pasta in your daily cooking! It took me a couple of years to perfect the balance. We switched Dorian to soy milk but many people told us it was horrible for little boys and could cause all sorts of hormonal issues, so I felt guilty about giving it to him. Some suggested almond milk, but that?s just not something you find in Guatemala!
Eventually, we reached a routine. Dorian could have a little milk on a regular basis, but no more than a cup a day. We encouraged him to drink more water and had drinking contests together. At one point, we would have him drink some water every half hour and while he doesn?t do that now, he still chugs water frequently throughout the day.
Keeping refined foods out of a child?s diet is tough. Who doesn?t make a quick sandwich for their kid when time is short and people are hungry? One sandwich, though, could end up causing Dorian to be blocked up for days, at least if it is made with pan frances, white bread that is often the only thing available here. I did make my own bread, but it was still difficult to get whole wheat flour and it never turned out that great, so we started buying whole grain bread from Doña Luisa, a restaurant/bakery in Antigua. Dorian LOVES their bread and it has enough fiber in it to make it a good food for him. We buy brown rice and until recently, we bought whole wheat pasta, but the stores stopped carrying it.
Sugar is still the biggest issue for Dorian. He has a sweet tooth (like his mama!) and he loves cakes and cookies. We limit them or use honey where possible. He rarely drinks sodas and if he has juice, it?s 100% fruit juice. And now he understands how diet affects him, too and he will take an active part in choosing foods that work for his body. If you offer him a flour tortilla, he will politely take a bite and give the rest to his brother. The other day, we let him have a croissant with chocolate in the middle. He ate a couple of bites and handed it to Irving, saying, ?This can?t be very good for my tummy.? If given a choice, he will almost always choose the higher fiber option and he already understands that fiber helps his stomach, protein builds muscles . . . he?s a little information gatherer, collecting all the facts, constantly asking questions about everything he is offered or takes a bite of. Then he will recite them back to you the next time he has the same food. We even did an experiment with white and brown bread, adding a few drops of water and mushing them up. The white bread formed a hard ball which we told him would happen in his intestines. Since the hospital, he has been even more careful about what he eats, even though the last surgery had nothing to do with his diet.
Overall, having to keep a careful diet for Dorian has resulted in a careful diet for everyone. We aren?t going to eat rice when he can?t have any, so we stick to healthier choices. When it comes to bread, we usually have his bread, but sometimes we eat white while he has brown and he is fine with that because he knows it won?t muck him up.