Socrates would be so mad at me for what happened today. The man who once said “Let food be thy medicine and medicine by thy food,” was screaming at me from the heavens today. If I hadn’t heard him, then a lot of unnecessary, expensive, and exhausting medical procedures might have followed. It is not uncommon from something you have probably experienced at one point in your life…especially if you have kids. Let me explain.

I want to say this morning was just like any other morning, but it wasn’t. Usually the mornings are pretty crazy at our house. Getting two elementary school kids and a baby out the door is no small feat! Bottles must be made, baby food must be packed, two lunches with snacks and juice have to be prepared. It’s a lot. Parents all over the country are dealing with the same thing every morning. Then you have to get out the door to work with your hair combed and teeth brushed. I get it. I know how lucky I am to have all these angel children but come on man, it’s tough.

This morning was different because my girl had to be taken to the ear, nose and throat specialist after school drop-offs, which was going to have a small effect on my workday productivity. Small…or so I thought. A day that I thought would be consumed by blog posts, business leads, phone calls and rampant effectiveness was train wrecked by my fatherly duty. I had to take my girl, who had been experiencing a scratchy throat, to the the doc. Her voice has always been a little raspy in the past and three years ago our doctor told us that she needed to learn how to speak correctly so we got her a speech therapist to focus on how to properly use her vocal chords. This time, however, the combination of allergies and not meticulously watching the food she ate, had her little throat more hoarse than usual, so we wanted to get it checked out.

You know one of those doctor visits where they tell you that there is nothing wrong and you pay a bunch of money to your insurance agency through the office glass window and kick yourself on the way out? That’s what happened to me today. Our appointment lasted nearly 10 minutes and during the meeting, the doc made me feel kinda silly for even making an appointment. She told me we needed to run one of two tests to see what foods she was allergic to. The first test was the skin prick test, which I painstakingly went through when I was about her age (7) and the other was a blood test. After paying nearly $150 for the visit, I walked out of the office with a blood test prescription and the advice to turn my kid’s fan off at night. We also opted for the blood test. Next, I did what any dad would do and tried to get the blood test done as soon as possible. I tried to call the lab on the way there to see if they would take a walk-in, but could not get through so we just went. When we got there, there was no line! Yay! We signed in and waited. There was one guy ahead of us who was also a walk-in patient. He said he had only been there ten minutes when we talked to him and was called back right away. He must have had the perfect timing because this moment in time was what they call “the calm before the storm.” Suddenly, a dozen or so people arrived, all with appointments. We waited a half hour and asked when our turn would come. They told us that our turn would come in another 30-40 minutes. Ouch! It was at that moment when I looked down at the paperwork that I had been holding in my hands for the last 30 minutes that made me realize that we didn’t need to be there at all! The test stated that the food allergy blood panel was testing for the following foods: egg white, milk, cod fish, wheat, corn, sesame seed, peanut, soybean, shrimp, clam, scallop, and gluten. Many of the items on this list, she didn’t eat and the other items on the list that I was worried about (gluten, soy, and wheat) I knew she was eating a bit too much of, so my answer was right there in my hand. DO A BETTER JOB, DAD!

I am not perfect and I can own up to the fact that we had a busy week and have had a heck of a busy life the last year since our new little baby was born. Having three kids is no joke and our diet has had a bit too much gluten, soy, and wheat lately due to laziness and convenience. While these items are definitely plant-based, we can do better. Soybeans are not really what I’m talking about here. I am talking about processed soy. Many of the meat substitutes we ate were creeping into our dinners a bit too often. Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches on vegan, whole-wheat bread were becoming “treats” more often than not. Whole wheat noodles with marinara sauce were easy to make and flowed freely at our house. Finally, vegan-friendly cereals and other gluten-rich products were sliding into our routine. It was time to take responsibility for my laziness. I whispered to my daughter that we were leaving the lab. She was confused, but I just said to “trust me” and we left. I told her that we were going to go home and talk about what we can do to fix her allergies and throat. We took a few very important steps that I am happy to share with you.

  1. Limit Processed Foods. There are lots of foods out there that are vegan, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they are healthy. The healthiest foods you can put in your body are whole-food, plant-based products…mainly fresh fruits, vegetables, nuts, grains, seeds, beans and legumes. I will be careful to watch how many foods are derived from soy-based products and really focus in on making sure she gets what she needs.
  2. Know What You Eat. Keeping a food log is often times impractical. I wanted to have a way to not only be accountable for what I was putting in my body, but for my girl to be responsible for what she put in her body as well. I downloaded Dr. Michael Greger’s app “Dr. Greger’s Daily Dozen,” which allows you to simply log your daily recommended servings of beans, berries, veggies, greens, seeds, nuts, spices, whole grains, beverages and exercises all in on place! I used an old iPhone with the app on it for her to log her meals in as she goes. The phone stays by her seat at the table and is there for food logging only.
  3. Saline Solution. A little saline goes a long way. The doctor mentioned to keep things nice and moist in there to prevent pollen and other dust from settling into her nasal cavity, so we got that under control now.
  4. Turn The Fan Off. My daughter has slept with her fan on for years and years and we never even thought about it. The doctor mentioned to turn the fan off to avoid drying her out, so my girl agreed to that and there will be no more fan on in her room overnight.

With these simple steps, I am hoping to conquer her allergies without constantly pumping her full of a steroid nose spray or over-the-counter allergy medicine. Don’t get me wrong, I am really glad that we have medicine to help our kids when we need it and I will continue to use over-the-counter allergy meds in an emergency, but just like the soy, wheat and gluten, I am going to limit them as much as possible!

Cory Warren
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Cory Warren

Cory Warren is a husband, father of three, and vegan athlete who helps busy families eat more plant-based foods! His blog, Lean Green DAD, helps over-scheduled, busy people (mostly parents) maintain a healthy balance of plant-based nutrition, fitness, and overall wellness so they can go the extra mile for their families.
Cory Warren
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