It's Lent. We're into the 10th day of it. This is a time of devotion and reflection, as well as sacrifice for many people... as we approach Good Friday and Easter, Jesus' death and resurrection on the cross. I've never, ever, ever given up something for Lent in my whole entire life. I've always felt that through prayer and meditation, time with God, and fellowship with other believers, I'd be able to quiet my heart and prepare for such a significant, wonderful thing as Easter. So while others around me were drooling over my coffee or my chocolate, I kept enjoying what I was consuming and felt good about my decision to do so.
This year is a new year, and a new story. We had some friends who had done the Maker's Diet last year for Lent and were planning to do it again this year. They invited us to participate in the experience with them. We read, thought, and prayed about it, and decided to join them in the journey along with two other couples.
If you've never heard of the Maker's Diet, it was designed by a man named Jordan Rubin, who was deathly ill with crohn's disease that many had said was the worst case they had ever seen. He was essentially given a death sentence. He began as a college student weighing 180 pounds at 6ft 1in tall, and his illness brought him to an emaciated, very sickly 104 pounds. He visited a gazillion doctors and tried a gazillion treatments but to no avail... he just kept getting worse. He was determined to get better and avoid his last ditch resort given to him by the medical community - surgery to remove the better part of his large and small intestine.
He began a new way of eating and thus living, but following a biblical diet and returning to the basics - whole foods in their original, unprocessed state. The short version is that he got better by eating this way, and therefore desired to share this with others, thereby creating the Maker's Diet and writing a book about it.
The diet is a 40 day experience broken up into three phases. Phase 1 is the most strict, eliminating all sugars except 1 tablespoon of honey per day, and all carbohydrates. Yes, all carbohydrates. I don't think I've been without carbs ever since I started eating solid foods as an infant.
Tim and I began a slower entry into the diet on Ash Wednesday, because we had just gotten home from vacation and needed to work on purging our kitchen of the foods we're to avoid. We began full force on Sunday. This was an intimidating experience for me, because I already struggle with trying to find a good balance between home life and work life - being a good mommy and wife (and thus feeding my family well) and being a good physician - something I love and am passionate about - serving a community where the need never ends. I felt that the only way we'd be successful would be to have a meal plan (a suggestion from a friend who had done the diet last year). So I went to town planning our meals for a week and taking shopping trips to Whole Foods, Trader Joes and Giant to ensure I'd have the right stuff in the house.
This week we've eaten well. I made several dishes ahead of time last weekend, and we followed the meal plan, allowing for a little flexibility. The food has been delicious. We've also started each morning with 15 minutes of yoga stretches. When the alarm goes off each day, one of us always asks the other if we should skip, just for one day... but then we manage to make our way downstairs for our "Morning Cup of Yoga." Sebastian has been sleeping through the night every night this week except for last night, which has allowed us to do our Yoga before he wakes up.
Before starting this diet, I had tried to research a bit about the Maker's Diet for nursing women, but to no avail... I originally found very little out there. In the past several days, I've found a little more info, but I was looking even more for answers. You see, I started to be concerned when I noticed that my milk supply while pumping at work seemed to have plummeted. I was only pumping about 1/3 of what I was used to pumping... which caused me to be a basket case. This is something I take very seriously, and VERY personally. I wondered if it was the diet, or the fact that Sebastian had been sick last weekend and nursing less, or the fact that he was sleeping through the night more consistently, or the stress I've been under at work, or the diet, or the diet, or something else... I decided to give it some time and see how the rest of the week went, but each day seemed as bad, if not worse. Watching the bottles fill up less than usual only produced more stress for me, and I'm sure made matters worse. I had jokingly said from the beginning that if my milk supply was affected, then I was out. I never anticipated such a drastic response, and I do believe that the change in supply is probably multifactorial, but as my mom said, the diet was the only thing I really had control over. Unless I wanted to start waking my sleeping baby up in the middle of the night to nurse... uh, no...
So, I called the lactaction consultants at the hospital to discuss the diet with them. They felt that if I was getting enough calories from things other than carbs and sugars, then it was more likely the other things like Seb being sick, sleeping more, etc. I failed to mention to them that I had lost 5 pounds in 4 days... and today was another pound shed.
I finally called Garden of Life, the company that published the book and is behind the Maker's Diet, and I spoke to someone on the phone at length. She told me that they don't make official recommendations about nursing or pregnant women, and they encourage people to talk to their doctors (didn't tell her I was one of those), but if they were to recommend anything, it would be to start with phase 3 instead of phase 1. That means adding back in some grains - like sprouted bread (e.g. Ezekiels), brown rice and oatmeal - my saving grace - as well as a few additional fruits and some other things.
Tim and I had been praying about this, and I'd enlisted a few other friends and family members in prayer as well. The lactation consultant outlined a supply boosting routine that I could try for several days, which I've been doing since yesterday. But when I had a bowl of oatmeal this afternoon, it was the. best. oatmeal. I've ever had. It tasted great, but I also think it was very freeing to feel supported in my decision to skip over to phase 3. Thanks, honey. ;)
We'll see how it goes over the next several days. I'm continuing to follow the majority of the recommendations for the diet, but adding in some additional food items in an effort to not shed a pound a day.
It was frustrating for me to not find very much info out there about the Maker's Diet, especially related to people's personal experiences AND nursing, so that was partly my impetus for writing this post. I did find, however, some info at this website, which I found helpful to read. I thought others might find it useful to read my thoughts, and I also thought I'd post my menu plan for this past week. I'll have some recipe posts coming soon.
Breakfast: scrambled eggs with chopped veggies & goat's milk cheddar cheese
Lunch: curried carrot soup & salad
Dinner: pakistani lentil curry & steamed broccoli
Breakfast: goat's milk yogurt with mixed berries
Lunch: curried carrot soup, slices of goat's milk cheddar cheese, celery sticks, raw almonds, grapefruit
Dinner: chicken curry, butternut squash stir-fry, salad
Breakfast: fried egg(s) with salsa
Lunch: chicken curry, butternut squash stir-fry (leftovers), grapefruit
Dinner: baked salmon, asparagus, salad
Breakfast: kefir and berries smoothie
Lunch: snap peas, curried carrot soup, almonds, grapefruit
Dinner: pakistani lentil curry & swiss chard sauteed with ginger, garlic, & tomatoes
Breakfast: Tim fasted, but I ate goat's milk yogurt with mixed berries
Lunch: Tim fasted, but I ate leftover chicken curry and butternut squash stir-fry
Dinner: bunless turkey burgers with goat's milk cheddar cheese, pan-seared asparagus, and sauteed zucchini, red peppers, onions and garlic with Herbs de Provence seasoning
Breakfast: scrambled eggs and veggies with salsa
Lunch: salad, hard-boiled eggs, and leftover lentils for Tim and curried carrot soup for me
Dinner: curried chicken with carrots and spinach, and steamed broccoli
Our snacks have included hard-boiled eggs, carrot sticks, raw pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds, celery sticks with raw almond butter, snap peas and grapefruit.
We'll keep you posted on our progress...!