As Tula’s immune system grew stronger and she began to function well in different environments, we felt that it was time for our family to socialize more, get back into life! Mike and I needed this desperately, just as much as the kids. So I joined the neighborhood social calendar since there were so many kids in the area—a great way to meet other parents and find new friends for our girls. But there was one big problem—the only social engagements we could find revolved around food—specifically junk food. Attending an Easter egg hunt meant loads of candy and chocolate eggs! Being invited to Halloween parties involved sharing plenty of junk food and donuts before trick-or-treating for candy! Invitations read, "Please join us for ice-skating and s'mores!" Was there any social engagement without sugar? It had never occurred to me before the diet that most, if not all, social engagements for children orbited around eating sugary sweets.
I prepared myself to approach these social engagements differently. For the Easter egg hunt, I volunteered to purchase and stuff small toys in plastic eggs, and when my girls found their eggs at gatherings, I quickly dumped out the candy when they weren’t looking and left them with the toys. This worked for a short time, until they were old enough to notice other kids were scarfing down fun-colored jelly beans from inside their eggs. For all of these neighborhood events, the parents would bring brownies, donuts, cake—everything internal yeasts crave, so I started baking again, thinking I could make some sugar-free treats for my family to eat, and possibly introduce other families to more healthy baked goods. We were still off rice, so without rice flour, this was a challenge. I tried using almond flour and coconut flour (which we were now using only occasionally), but nothing would satisfy the other kids while glistening glazed donuts sat out on the table. My peanut butter–quinoa bars (which were delicious and a family fav!) were great for my kids, but they soon started wondering why so much was left over and why they were the only ones happily eating them. As they got older, it was frustrating to be the only ones eating healthy foods at these events.
Pizza parties were slightly easier. I would pick up a gluten and dairy free frozen pizza before the party, bake it, and smuggle it into the pizza place. (Nowadays you can find gluten and dairy free pizza at many restaurants!) The problem with pizza is that the crust always contains high-glycemic carbs such as rice, so Tula was only allowed to eat pizza on special occasions at this time. I started making my own pizza crusts out of sprouted quinoa, but it was time consuming and hard to transfer.
I realized that as the girls got older, it was much easier on me (and them) if we didn’t attend the events, thus getting me out of so much baking that no one would eat besides my family. It also freed me of seeing the sad expressions on my girls while they watched their friends stuff their faces around the candy bowl. It made me heartsick to skip the events and I wondered when the rest of the world was going to catch on. We felt alone once again, and wished we could have found some like-minded families to hang out with.
Our business making coconut kefir was slowly expanding, but we knew if it were to grow to be really successful, Mike would have to quit his job. It was a scary decision to make that leap and we had no idea if it would work. With scant funds, we took out a second mortgage to pay our business bills. Stores slowly became interested in selling our products and we started to get feedback from customers who were benefitting and that felt great!
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