It only matters what works for you.

Archive for the ‘gluten free’ Category

How deep does it go?

They say if you want to permanently lose weight and be healthier you need a ‘lifestyle change’.

What does that mean?

Often we implement this ‘lifestyle change’ by getting up a little earlier to go to the gym, clearing out all the stuff we know we shouldn’t eat from the pantry, and devoting ourselves to ‘eating healthier’ (another term that doesn’t really mean anything).

I think we’re doing it wrong.

I have a friend who’s lost a lot of weight. And that’s great. But what I really see is that she’s restructured her entire life around this new person she’s become. She went gluten free, and that’s important. But I see a lot more than that. She started exercising, but that’s not it. She swims. She doesn’t just swim, she joined a team and she does synchronized swimming and competes. She runs, but more importantly, she’s started doing marathons, and running with people.

She’s made swimming and running into a big part of her social life. It isn’t an exercise program any more, it’s her social scene. That’s where her friends are. It’s what she does on weekends.

That’s a lifestyle change.

Going to the gym doesn’t usually give us the changes we’re looking for because it’s just something we’ve stuck on our previous life. And often its something we don’t really want to do, we’re just supposed to.

I’m thinking you have to incorporate something that is not only healthy, but also fun, challenging, satisfying, and/or rewarding.

Now how do I figure out what that would look like?

Yeah, just go out and try things.


Raise a fuss!

How many times have you put aside your needs for the sake of ‘not raising a fuss’?

Yeah, I’m pretty much done with  that. You see, if we don’t raise the fuss to do what is necessary to care for ourselves, then it will Never Happen. When we don’t care for ourselves, we not only short change our own lives, we limit our ability to care for others and make a difference in the world.

You deserve to be cared for, however that has to happen. Just so you know.

I just came back from the best vacation I’ve had in a very long time. Because for the first time, possibly since I found out I had food sensitivities, I raised the necessary fuss and got exactly what I needed. On a cruise ship, the people there really are there to serve you. And everyone else, but you too, and not as an afterthought. So I did my best to make it easy for them to take care of me. They did a great job. I think at this point they probably have a whole crew behind the scenes who just manage the special needs patrons, I wasn’t the only one.

Raising a fuss doesn’t have to be negative. I followed their procedure, I was clear and prepared with what I needed. I made it as easy as possible for them to support me.

I’ve stopped pretending that I don’t have special needs. I do. Pretending just short changes me, and by the way makes me irritating to deal with. I need special chairs sometimes (Is it sturdy? How wide are the arms?), I can’t walk as fast as some people, and I can’t eat ‘normal’ food, at least the way it appears here in the US. No amount of pretending will change it, so I’ve just gotten to the point where I can embrace it. Or at least acknowledge it.

In exchange for being clear about my needs, I had the most relaxing vacation I can remember. I don’t think I even remembered what it was like to not have to worry about what I ate. It’s really hard to have to be on top of something so basic every meal, all the time. At home of course I keep my home safe, but that means doing my own cooking and shopping and planning. Vacations are complicated. I either bring and plan all my food, making vacations a little less relaxing, or I spin the roulette wheel every time I eat, which isn’t as fun as it sounds because the risk is possibly ruining the rest of the vacation.

I encourage you to raise a fuss. Just a little one to start. State your needs. Be clear, but unapologetic. The more I do, the more I find that people are delighted to help, if they just had the faintest idea that you needed it. And when they aren’t? Well, you’re no worse off than if you didn’t ask, and you’ll know how to plan differently next time.

Do doctors have friends?

They must, I’m certain. Even my seLf-professed curmudgeon of a naturopath in Colorado had a perfectly lovely fiance who I knew professionally. They had a real life that would pass for normal. So he almost certainly had friends. Doctors are people too, right?

So how is it that the western medical profession as a generalized whole is not becoming more aware of the prevalence of food issues? Do they think we’re lying? Confused? Undereducated? I wish I knew so we rabble-rousers knew which direction to point our putative rabble in.

Today I went to a lovely networking lunch to promote my day job. I had a great time meeting fun and interesting people. After the ‘official’ parts were over I stayed to chat with a few people and, as it so very often does when I’m present, the topic of food allergies came up. Funny that, I know. The woman across from me has been gluten free (more or less) for just a few months after being diagnosed by her chiropractor. I was also diagnosed by my chiropractor, but that’s a story for a different post. The woman next to me told a story of a personal friend who had nearly died of a stroke caused by the cumulative side effects of undiagnosed celiac. Another woman joined our conversation when she heard ‘celiac’ because her mother has it and she herself was ‘in denial’.

Four random ladies in Virginia who gathered for completely unrelated reasons all have a personal story about celiac. That came up in more or less random conversation.

And that was the second allergy conversation I had at that luncheon. The first one popped up because two of us had to be sure that our meals had been prepared gluten free. Two of us at a table of five.

I grant that I may notice that this comes up more often around me because I care, so I notice when the topic comes up. Turns out that the conversation also comes up in my husband’s male dominated IT oriented work place. How do you provide a treat for clients when one of their staff has a food intolerance? One of his co workers shares my primary allergies, soy, gluten, and dairy, so he hooked us up so I could tell her about dairy free ice cream.

My point here is, these conversations are happening all the time.

Why aren’t MDs hearing them?

Why aren’t MDs LISTENING?

It isn’t always reasonable.

A few days ago I experimented with a packaged food.

I usually avoid packaged food. They put a lot of weird stuff in them that is often harmful or poisonous to me. But since I’m doing hcg right now and not eating those things anyway, I thought I’d get something that looked like my ever patient husband would enjoy and try it out.

I should have known better.

The box was marked as gluten free. I read the ingredients and I thought it looked fine. I missed something. Yeast extract can be made from beer processing and isn’t always gluten free. Or, it might have been that yeast extract is closely related to MSG. Either way, I should have known that, but live and learn. I only tasted a few grains to check for doneness and then a partial spoonful afterwards to actually check the taste. That shouldn’t have much of an effect, right?


If I ate a whole teaspoon full of rice, I’ll be shocked. I really was going for just a taste. That has no apparent bearing on how sick it made me.

My entire day yesterday was a wash, focusing on a nap, a heating pad for my gut, and my usual pain reliever and marshmallow root, which is my preferred palliative for a gluten poisoning. I also got a reminder of the horrible pain in my shoulder that used to be part of my daily life until I went gluten free and it suddenly went completely away. Phantom pains are actually a quite common side effect of gluten sensitivity, did you know?

But seriously. 1tsp of rice, coated with a seasoning mix on which yeast extract was the last ingredient. It just isn’t reasonable that it could have that kind of effect.

Except that it did. On hcg I’ve eaten nothing but an endless round of 8 foods for the last 3 weeks*. Reasonable or not, there is no other possibility.

We get really caught up, as people and as a culture, in what we can track and what we can measure and discounting anything that we don’t currently know how to quantify. I think it would be good if we all learned to spend a little bit more time reviewing what is, and figure out the how and why after that.

*HCG doesn’t have to be quite that monotonous, if you don’t have a ton of food allergies. Its just easier for me that way.

L’Eggo my Eggo waffles, blue yogurt, and scrambled eggs.

Its another TED episode.

Robyn O’Brien was a Wall Street food industry analyst turned mom who had a Life Event when one of her small children had an allergic reaction to her breakfast. Then she turned her professional experience to benefit her family and started doing research on “how can kids be allergic to food”. She’s a good speaker with a compelling personal story, well worth your 18.27 minutes.

The point that really hits home for me is that Europe and many other countries looked at the new farming options and the new genetic engineering and the new hormones that increase yields and said “There aren’t any studies that show they are safe, so lets wait a while.” The US went the other way and said “There aren’t any studies that show they aren’t safe, so we’re going to go ahead.”

Doesn’t that make you feel warm and fuzzy and safe?

Me either.

The US didn’t even suggest that maybe we should do some studies on the safety of this stuff. We’re a number of years out on using GMO and hormones and if good research is being done on the effects this is having, it isn’t making news headlines.

Still not getting that warm fuzzy feeling.

How much of the bad health in the US has nothing to do with the effects, like obesity and heart disease, and is actually attributable to a completely different cause, say the horrific, intentional, adulteration of our food supply?

Constant Vigilance

Constant vigilance can be tiring. But you can’t stop.

I have (had) some protein bars that were perfect for emergency  travel food. Gluten, soy, and diary free with a decent protein count and they’re tasty. On my recent trip to visit my former home in Colorado I took a lot of  these so I would have travel food, and safe snacks for between meals or evenings.

I thought they were safe snacks.

By the time I returned home I was pretty wired, but of course I was with traveling and stress and exposure to high altitude. But that wasn’t it.

It turns out about a year ago the formula on my lovely bars changed. I buy in bulk so it was a while before I noticed a difference, and even then I didn’t eat a lot of them so I didn’t notice a problem right away.

If I’d been paying more attention, or more suspicious, I’d have connected the bars with my problem back in February with high blood pressure and really bad edema. But I didn’t.

There was no sign on the product that the formula had been changed. If only the packaging had said ‘new’ or ‘improved’ I’d have know that really meant ‘you can never eat this again’ but it didn’t, so I didn’t notice.

Until I was having the same problems again.

And now I know that my lovely bars now contain flaxseed oil. To which I am, predictably, highly allergic. They don’t add much to products, its the very last of a long list of ingredients, but my reaction is pretty dramatic. I also can’t eat a number of brands of otherwise excellent gluten free bread because they include flax meal.

The point I want to make is less about whinging about losing one more item from my limited food supply. Its about making sure you’re paying attention to the world around you and how you interact with it. If I’d been paying a little closer attention, if I hadn’t just been going along in my usual round of things, I might have noticed sooner that I had a non-standard problem. It might have occurred to me to review my eating habits and go back and check the ingredients on the relatively few things I eat that even have an ingredients list. But I wasn’t paying attention.

If you’re going to manage your own health issues, you have to pay attention.

Even if it does make you tired.

Following instructions

Following instructions isn’t always going to get you the results you want.

I was baking the other day and I used my Cooks Illustrated cookbook. Cooks Illustrated takes a ton of recipes for one thing and experiments with times and ingredients and methods until they come up with something amazing that is relatively easy and very consistent.

I, of course, can never just follow the instructions on anything, if for no other reason than I’m substituting a gluten free flour blend for basic all purpose.

The first recipe I tried was the one for blueberry cobbler. It was wonderful. Soft tender biscuit top, the perfect amount of berries. One brief note to self to add another tsp of the arrowroot I substituted for cornstarch, and I know I’ll be making that regularly.

The 2nd recipe I tried was for blondies. Which I haven’t actually made before. And these were a relative failure. All I substituted was the flour but these came out dry, bland, and almost too crumbly to eat.

A good analogy for life I think. You don’t know how something is going to work out for you until you actually give the thing a try in your own life or environment. All you can do is jump in and try it. It can be a scary thing if the investment is greater than single dessert, say, a new job, but there still isn’t anything you can do but mix and bake and see how it turns out.

If it doesn’t work out, then you need to look at things and see if you can fix the recipe or if you’ll need to pick a whole new dessert.