Truth or Dairy

Danielle is a truly amazing person to have in my corner. Let me explain.

For months, inflammation — likely due to my psoriasis — has been slowly building in my fingers, my elbows, my knees, the soles of my feet. In some cases it feels like a dull tightness, in other cases it feels like a mild form of paralysis, and in the worst cases (especially in my fingers when I’ve been typing) it feels like tiny lightning bolts of pain.

In every case, it makes me concerned about my ability to hold my small children for the next half decade, and to play with them for much longer than that.

In every case, it also makes me feel old as dirt.

A month ago, unsolicited by me, Danielle researched natural remedies and found me three supplements — including turmeric — that managed to bring me noticeable relief within a week or two. Who knew that all-natural medicine is the real deal? Still, there was enough residual discomfort to make me wonder what else I could do.

So two weeks ago, out of the sheer goodness of her heart, Danielle hatched a plan to help me battle my inflammation through the most direct means possible — the food I put into my body. She asked me if I wanted to try cutting all gluten and dairy out of my diet for 3 weeks. She told me she would plan her grocery shopping accordingly and research gluten-free dinners she can make for us. And she told me she would join me in the venture out of solidarity.

I was frankly honored that she would care enough about me to put this much effort into a solution for my aching old bones, and to put her own skin in the game too. Especially when I know how much she loves pretzels and whole-wheat bread. For my part, I cringed at the thought of renouncing bread and cheese, which as we all know are the staple ingredients of some of the world’s most delicious foods. But I was willing to try anything to make my body fully functional once again.

So that’s what we did. For 2 full weeks, we’ve both eaten zero gluten and zero dairy. Less processed food and more whole food. Like fruits, vegetables, nuts, chickpeas, beans, rice, rice cakes and rice pasta, and tons of peanut butter.

And I feel fantastic.


My inflammation has subsided quite a bit, even more than with the supplements alone. But the most exciting development is that I simply feel more energetic. I rarely hit a wall in the afternoon, which had started to become par for the course. Family walks, which had grown oddly wearying, are once again sources of rejuvenation. I have the pep back in my step.

I’m not a nutritionist, and I certainly don’t claim to know the silver nutritional bullet for any body except my own. All I know is: this works for me. Something was ailing me, and I found an all-natural solution that made me feel great. And it feels good to feel great.

Which brings me back to my central premise — Danielle is a truly amazing person to have in your corner. All the credit for finding and executing a natural remedy to my creaking, inflamed bones belongs to her. She gladly and unbegrudgingly gave up foods that she loves for the sake of standing by me in my quest to feel better.

If you ever find yourself with someone who has that level of warmth, understanding, and commitment to your well-being, my advice is this: Hold onto them for dear life.

That’s my plan.

Peas of Mind

So here’s how parenting works, as best as I’ve been able to ascertain so far.

  1. You do the absolute best you know how, given the knowledge and resources at your disposal, as you summon every ounce of patient love that currently resides in your mortal being.
  2. You ruthlessly doubt yourself at every imaginable turn, worrying that you’re failing to do something crucial or making a few wrong choices that could ultimately sabotage your best and most lovingly laid plans for your child’s success.
  3. You think of all the good developmental indicators your child has shown so far, all the moments where he has melted your heart with his sweetness and innocence. You tell yourself you’re right on track.
  4. Your mind jolts back to the areas in which your child struggles. You think about other children who have no problems in these areas. You tell yourself you might be on the wrong track entirely.
  5. Repeat steps 1 through 4 indefinitely.

It’s a joyously satisfying and endlessly draining endeavor, this parenting thing. No other adult experience evokes such whimsical levity, or feels like such a soberingly high-stakes venture. Nothing on earth feels better, and nothing on earth feels more faintly terrifying.

Here’s a fairly mundane example: I inflict worry on myself over Greyson’s eating. A year ago, he ate virtually anything we put in front of him. Now he has narrowed down the list of things he will willingly eat to about 9 items (on a good day). He is relentlessly stubborn about the foods on his blacklist. The only way we can get him to eat something green is to hide spinach in a smoothie or bury a few peas deep inside a piece of penne pasta.

I get stuck in my head about this. My ever-longsuffering wife will attest to the fact. Enduring a dinner where Greyson refuses to eat his food can dig a trough-like furrow in my brow. I start worrying that we did something wrong in months past that led to this. Or that we’re currently setting a bad precedent by not staunchly insisting he eat everything on his high-chair tray.  Or even that (despite ample evidence to the contrary) he has turned the tables on us, so to speak, and is now calling the shots in our family.

Sounds a bit silly, right? It sounds silly even to me as I type these words. I mean, he’s barely 2 years old. But I have an endless capacity to convince myself that small things have significance, and moral weight, and long-term repercussions.

And so I tell myself, in my more neurotic parenting moments, that my toddler refusing his vegetables means that I have failed to convey something vital to him. Not only about the importance of nutrition, but about the importance of listening. The importance of boundaries. The importance of structure. The importance of goodness itself. I tell myself that depriving himself of nutritive fiber might somehow ultimately deprive him of moral fiber.

Like I said: It sounds silly even to me.

Ultimately it comes down to this: I just so badly don’t want to mess this parenting thing up. It’s a sacred privilege being given a tiny human life to guard and nurture and love and protect. Nothing else I do in my life will be as important as whether I do right by Greyson and his impending little sibling (T minus 6 weeks!), and I am constantly hyperaware of this realization.

This knowledge — or perhaps belief — is both a gift and a curse. On one hand, it lends deep significance to every interaction I have with my son because I see every moment as a building block for his burgeoning sense of identity and his nascent moral grid. But it also creates a foothold for my worst tendencies toward worry and self-doubt. After all, the sense that parenting is a high-wire act with a slim margin of error does not exactly lend itself to savoring the journey.

So my goal is to better find a way to thread that needle between parenting thoughtfully and letting myself off the hook. Perfection can’t be the goal. My son is not a perfectly malleable lump of Play-Doh that I can perfectly mold with the blunt force of my parental ethos.

He’s a little boy. A little boy with a mind of his own. And a will of his own. And at the moment, that will is asserting itself against the peas and broccoli and green beans of the world.

But that’s alright. And he’s alright.

And I think I might be too.


The Top 7 Reasons We Loved Being in Canada

7.) There were no billboards. Zero. Even when we drove into Ottawa, the nation’s capital. I’ve never seen (or not seen) anything like it.

6.) No one appeared to be in a mad rush. From what we could tell, Canadians seem to embrace a healthy, sustainable pace of living.

5.) We felt entirely safe walking around a city of 900,000 people. The thought didn’t even occur to us that something unsavory might happen. That’s how peaceful it was.

4.) No one we met seemed to resent us, despite the fact that our president has in the past month impulsively levied stiff tariffs on their nation and petulantly excoriated their prime minister.

3.) We witnessed zero aggressive drivers. Heck, we witnessed zero aggressive anything.

2.) The landscapes we hiked in and drove through in rural Ontario were clean, serene, and bountifully green. Preservation of nature seemed to be a national value.

1.) Without exception, every single person we met was warm and welcoming. This includes not only those whose friendliness could be construed as having a profit motive (B&B owners and restaurant servers), but also random strangers with no such motive. Like a farmer who let us tour her property simply because she liked showing her animals to children. And multiple restaurant patrons who struck up affable conversations with us out of the blue. And fellow B&B guests from Quebec and New Brunswick who were chummy with us at breakfast.

Every. Single. Person. We. Met.

The looks on our faces here nicely encapsulate our sentiments about Canada. We can’t wait to go back someday.