lifestyle, love

Cooking: Rediscovering my Passions

A few weeks ago, I rediscovered an old passion of mine, cooking, by making the decision that I needed to make a dramatic change and come off dairy and gluten products to help myself after a really bad weekend of reflux.

And yes, my decision was a drastic one.

But I had been to the hospital 3 times in 4 days over my reflux because it was so terrible. I have read in quite a few places that going dairy free would help reflux and I knew that I needed to do this.

Display of vegetables and flowers with the text "Rediscovering My Passion for Cooking"

Now for me, there were a few factors involved in making this decision. As a family, we have all been eating separate meals and Kevin has been the one to take care of it. This has meant they have generally been ready meals, which I knew were more expensive and less healthy than cooking from scratch but didn’t have the energy to do anything about it.

Getting my energy back

My energy has been very low for quite a long time. Have you ever had your iron levels go down low – I mean really low? Low to the point of almost needing a transfusion? My blood levels go up and down and were that low before the end of last year. You don’t just feel tired, you feel a total exhaustion that goes beyond everything and right down into your very bones.

I don’t know if my levels have ever gone that low before but they certainly were that low just before Christmas. So last year I started taking iron tablets to help myself and it has taken until now for my energy to begin to build up. My levels have reached 48, which is nearly half of where they should be – 100. And although I was beginning to feel a bit better, I certainly didn’t feel that my energy was back to normal, especially as I have been having terrible trouble with my asthma playing up.

Johnathan’s Gluten Intolerance

Talking of things playing up, poor Johnathan didn’t have normal toilets until last year when we took him off gluten. We had read that children on the autistic spectrum sometimes need to be gluten free and when we did so his toilets were normal within 3 days so I knew he needed to remain gluten free. This meant if we were going to all have the same meals (when I had the energy to cook), I needed to make sure they were gluten free.

So my decision was easy.

If I was doing one change already, I may as well do the two of them at once and go gluten and dairy free. Obviously, I don’t want Kevin to be eating meals that are always both so other than the evening meal everything else he eats is normal food.

You must be thinking that I was never going to get to the cooking – my new passion.

Well, here we are at last!

I have been rediscovering the joy I had in cooking and baking now that I had when I was a child. And I have learned in these last few weeks I actually enjoy experimenting. All these years of watching Masterchef have finally paid off. I am doing it this time with a base of knowledge so know what things are likely to work.

After one day of being gluten free not only did my reflux feel much better but that ghastly exhaustion did too!

Do you know what I love best about cooking?

Well, not the clearing and cleaning and tidying up. That’s the annoying part of it. For me, there is nothing greater than being able to put a smile on someone’s face whether it is because of the writing, cooking or creating. There needs to be an acknowledgment of the fact they are happy and that I have brought a touching moment of joy into their lives.

I want the meal I provide for them to be the best I can produce and one that is memorable for them. No, I don’t want to enter any competitions (I don’t compete well, I end up with decision paralysis), but I do want to make the best meal I can for those that I love.

Experimenting is what I love to do. Following the rules to the letter so that you take the joy and satisfaction from them, no. To be truly creative, you have to be free to do what you like, but use the principles involved so that the product you produce is the best you can do. They are not there to hold you down but to give you wings to fly off and recreate something using them and paying homage to them but allowing yourself the decisions that make the dish special.

My rediscovered passion is experimental cooking.

I am thoroughly enjoying my new role and the energy I have again.

Yes, I do get tired. But it’s at the end of the day when everybody gets tired. I don’t have that awful tiredness overcome me every afternoon anymore. And my reflux is generally much better. And I am cooking good food for my family again

admit, autism, blessing, child, condition, diagnosis, listen, love, spectrum, support

Getting an Autism Diagnosis

Do you know how hard it is to get a diagnosis of autism?

People assume you just “want to have a diagnosis” or that you’re looking for a “yuppie” condition.  And the child or adult looks normal to other people so what’s the need for saying they have this condition?

Now, if you have cancer or arthritis or a heart condition or another general condition, they wouldn’t tell you that you “just” wanted a name to this.  They would expect (as would you) that there would be help and support while you have the condition.

However, autism is not seen in this regard.

I will admit that autism doesn’t always require medication as other conditions do.  Now you could be fortunate NOT to have a child on the spectrum that has no sense of safety with themselves or others.  If they are like this, you may have to buy either larger pushchairs or an actual wheelchair for your child or adult.

And there are other complications that can arise.  For example, people who are on the spectrum often don’t sleep well. This can be extremely disruptive to the family and other people they come into contact with.

So often there are needs that should be taken into consideration.  Once a diagnosis of autism is obtained you can get help for all these complications.  And even if they are high functioning and have a seemingly good knowledge of a language, mostly they are unable to understand or express their feelings. This negatively impacts their need for medical help.

I love my son dearly, but he has complications that are invisible to you when you see him.

If you saw him, you would think everything is ok.

But I can tell you it isn’t. Luckily, he has been able to access more help and support after his diagnosis than we could before.  And this makes a massive impact on our family life. It is so much easier with the support we have both received already. And we will need to access in the future.

We have been really blessed because Johnathan has been able to have a year split placement before going into school proper.  And this has actually meant that he will be able to enter a smaller normal school and I am so delighted!  Everyone wants their child to be able to go into the normal educational process.  But not all parents have the opportunity to have this happen.

So many parents do not want to admit their child needs a diagnosis.

Maybe they don’t want to admit that their child has a problem.  Or maybe it’s because of the stigma that is attached to the condition.  There could also be other reasons for it.  Personally, I knew in his first week of life.  In my heart, although I didn’t want it to be true, I didn’t want it to be.  In fact, once he WAS diagnosed I struggled with it even though I had known it – much to my surprise.

Please, when you meet a parent whose child is going to be or has been diagnosed with autism, treat them with compassion and kindness.  You don’t know what they deal with in their daily lives and it is not an easy thing to either acknowledge or accept.  If you do want to know, let them talk.  Be there for them.  But please, whatever you do, don’t condemn them but listen to thing they would like to share with you.