Eating That Elephant…one bite at a time

“The only way to eat an elephant is one bite at a time” — this has become one of my favorite sayings, not just because it is so applicable to parenting a child (now a teen!) with health issues, but because the absurdity reminds me to lighten up a little.

For those that don’t know me, I’m the mom of a teenage son that has health issues. He has struggled with his health and mental health for years, and we have slowly been peeling layers of the onion off to figure out exactly what is underneath and build up strategies to help him. First the diagnosis was anxiety and mood disorder; then extreme fatigue and adrenal insufficiency; then we discovered extreme glutamate sensitivity and were able to alleviate many symptoms with strict dietary changes, but wanted to know why.

Finally chronic fatigue syndrome with possible cardiac issues down the road were added into the mix. That pointed us in a direction of genetic malfunctions. We “bit the bullet” and did the Yasko genetic panel (, and think we have finally found the “core” (the doctors helped, and my husband is a great support but if I can toot my own horn for a moment…I have worked daily on this for years). Everything fits in the puzzle. Finally, it’s all explained.

I was going to write that our son has been doing really well recently, but it seems that every time I do that, I jinx it and we have a really rough time for a while, so I won’t 🙂 It’s up and down, but he can function so much better than a few years ago, and for that we are very grateful. The bad news is that it’s genetic, he has it for life, and we might already be doing a good bit of what we can to manage it. It’s unclear how much it will impact his life on a daily basis as time goes on. But in some ways the fact that it’s genetic is good news…because we can completely let go of all the blame that subtly comes with any “out of the norm” situation…the cause is not poor parenting, or poor moral character (which I knew, but it’s nice to *know*, you know?

He’s on a combination of about a couple dozen supplements and one medication (I have added/removed things almost weekly for the past three years and kept notes as to what the effects were for him since that’s all I had to go on). He still can’t eat most ingredients with even trace amounts of glutamate without his mood and energy plummeting, which is hard for a teen. But as I didn’t say earlier, overall he’s doing very well considering our road.

So, why am I telling you all that? I’ve decided to rename this blog and post more about what I’ve been learning. I hope this can be an accessible resource for any parents struggling with children with chronic health issues, and particularly to anyone that wants to eliminate glutamates/MSG/excitotoxins from their diet, which is and continues to be our lifesaving tool. Also, I’d like to hear what you are learning also, and use this blog to spur discussion.

So I hope you will come along on the journey with me!  Let me know if this is useful for you, what questions you have, what areas you suggest I look into more. I’m an extreme extrovert, so the more thoughtful conversation we get going, the more I’ll be inspired to write :).


  1. Eating That Elephant » Blog Archive » MSG, Excitotoxins, Glutamate, and FGA: A Primer:

    […] About Me « Eating That Elephant…one bite at a time […]

  2. Sue Jackson:

    Hi, Lisa –

    I didn’t even realize you had a blog! Just discovered this recently when you posted a link in our Parents group and finally had the time to read a bit.

    It’s fascinating – and all new to me. How wonderful that you have figured out what is causing your son’s health problems! I don’t know if these issues are a part of the puzzle for us, too, but I will certainly look into it.

    Just this week, we began working with a biochemist/dietician who our Lyme doctor recommended because Jamie has had such difficulty with his Lyme treatment. We had a 2-hour Skype visit with her this weekend to give her Jamie’s history and next she will run some tests (blood, urine, stool) and try to help us come up with a diet and plan specific to his needs. I will ask her about glutamates and excitotoxins.

    Thanks for the education!


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