Wednesday, May 30, 2012

To Gain or To Lose

Gaining weight or losing weight revolves around the same idea.

I approached Blake's need for weight gain very carefully.  There were several reasons for this.  One being, I knew Blake's body was very stressed due to orphanage life the first 2 year's of his life, due to not knowing us very well yet, due to environmental changes, time changes, emotional changes, physical changes, and sensory changes.  So his adrenal glands were pumping out cortisol at a high rate to deal with this major life event that just took place in his life.  I knew because his body was carrying such a heavy load from this trauma, that I didn't want to throw heavy carbohydrates, high fat foods at him--just for his scale numbers to go up.  I figured that his immune system would drop in its defenses which means his cell function would decrease.  Less T-cells to fight off viruses and infections, parasites, worms, and whatever else his system might have been carrying.  When the body is stressed, it goes into protective mode, releasing lots of inflammation response hormones.  Cortisol, adrenaline, norepinephrine.  Excessive forms of sugar, saturated fats, cholesterol, and refined foods--ones you typically think of consuming when needing to 'gain' weight, further add to the stress. 

I wanted Blake to gain 'good' weight: muscle, body fat...not inflammation and water retention.  I knew there was a fine balance between choosing carbohydrates, enough protein, and sufficient fats.  If I gave him strictly protein sources, only a small amount of serotonin is produced (which I explained in the post before this), which can lead to depression, irritation, and sugar cravings.  And could place a stress on his kidneys.  If I gave him carbohydrate-rich meals, it could lead to insulin spikes and overproduction of serotonin.  If I didn't give him enough fats, there would be less leptin produced and the body would trigger the brain that it needs to eat more.

So I took an anti-inflammatory approach to what he eats...
I cook with onions, mushrooms, and garlic.  He eats gluten-free/wheat-free grains.  Sauerkraut.  Almond/Rice/Coconut milk.  Red, blue fruits to help with his GI system, and for antioxidants.  Cruciferous many as I can get him to eat anyway.  Fish oil.  I add flaxseeds to all of his baked goods.  Vitamin D in his multivitamin chewable.  Probiotics. B-Vitamins.  Colostrum to help boost his immune system. 

One thing I've also noticed is that his blood sugar is an issue.  So the timing of when he eats is really important too.  He gets really whiny and moody every so many hours.  This was worst when we first brought him home because his digestive system was so weak and wasn't processing the food appropriately.  It would sit in his gut and ferment.  And it would also 'leak' through the holes in his small intestine and seep into his bloodstream-further causing an inflammatory response as the body reacted to it like a foreign substance that needed to be removed.  But back to my first point, it would leave him hungry more often. So I would really pay attention to his mood and activity levels throughout the day and try to get food in him regularly.  I notice he does not need to eat as often now that his gut is beginning to heal.   Read this article--it explains it best.

In addition to blood sugar, the timing of when I feed him is also crucial to his alertness, cognitive ability, and focus.  I try to give him a high-protein meal at breakfast, and taper that off as evening comes.  Because sleeping is an issue for him, I try to do a higher carbohydrate meal (not junk food) at night to trigger the release of tryptophan in the brain...and therefore induce better rest.   Which is crucial for stress-relief, weight gain and weight loss.  Probably one of the most important contributors to weight gain and weight loss. 

Again this process of weight gain took about 6 months, before I noticed a real change in his appearance and muscle tone.  Mainly because it involves hormone changes, better sleep, a less-stressed body=less cortisol production, a healthy gut, improved muscle tone, and more energy.  (*note-these are the same things that need to be addressed when losing weight as well)

Pictures from one of the first days we met Blake at his orphanage in Ukraine.
5 1/2 Months Later!!  CHUBS!


  1. Brought home our 2nd little Russian in December. Is there nutrition book you can recommend?

  2. This is so interesting...when we first found out about G's health problems & didn't know what it was, they diagnosed her with "failure to thrive" and then told us to give her as much fat as possible. Basically the gastro we went to told us to feed her McDonald's several times a week! We thought that was awful! As you know, she's still so tiny...I might have to chat with you sometime in more detail...

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