Archive for the ‘celiac’ Category

Just discovered

Just discovered Pure 2 Raw blog, via Heather eats Almond Butter. They are vegan, gluten-free, soy-free healthy baking girls and I can’t wait to read more about them. I am getting so many healthy things to try, from HEAB, Marissa and now Pure 2 Raw.

They are having a giveaway of some really yummy sounding things!

Click here for your chance to enter some raw, gluten-free, vegan yumminess!


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Generally, if you choose and seek out good health, it takes a lot of work. Bad health is easy – you don’t care what you put in your body, you eat what you want. It is very passive. But living that way has consequences, causes all sorts of health problems…and the usual solution to those health problems is to pop a pill or five. (Take this to lower your blood pressure, take this to lower your cholesterol, maybe take this magic pill to lose weight, take this pill for joint pain).

But if you choose good health, it is something you are always thinking about, always working on. And if you have food allergies, and are trying to control health issues through changes in your diet, it takes even more work. However, the payoff is awesome. But there is no such thing as just popping something into your mouth.

That doesn’t mean you don’t get to have awesomely yummy things though, even if you are trying to get rid of all processed sugar from your diet.

I’ve been on a pumpkin kick lately (yay fall). A few mornings this week, I made up some slow-cooking oatmeal, threw in some pumpkin puree, pumpkin pie spice, some walnuts and maybe a teaspoon of agave syrup — super yummy, super healthy, keeps you full for a long time, and did I mention yummy?

Then I still had some pumpkin puree left but didn’t want to cook oatmeal. Solution, smoothie! Ice, almond milk, pumpkin puree, maybe a teaspoon of Oregon Chai concentrate, maybe a teaspoon of agave syrup, soy protein powder (no added sugar), ohmydogggg that is seriously good stuff. Liquid, kind of frozen, pumpkin pie. Yes please!

I’ve recently started reading Pumpkin and Pomegranate’s awesome blog, who eats very similar to how I am eating these days and she always has these fabulous sounding recipes. She has mentioned several times this raw vegan chocolate pudding that she made up, and I just had to make some. I had to adapt it slightly as I didn’t have dates on hand, so I used some agave syrup, but ohwowow, so very yummy. And you would never know the base was avocado. (yes, really).

I made up some of that pudding last night, and topped it off with some pomegranate arils, and felt like I was eating the dessert of the gods.

This morning, I was making up a smoothie, and threw in the last of the pumpkin puree, the last of the chocolate pudding I made last night, some ice, vanilla almond milk, soy protein powder and a bit of Oregon Chai for flavor and entered the land of smoothie happiness. Between the protein, the good-for-you fat from the avocado, the vitamins from the pumpkin, the potassium from the banana…it was serious health food and has kept me full from 8 am. till just after noon.

Who says healthy eating has to be boring?! And bonus…I went to the dermatologist for a follow up appt yesterday, and they checked my blood pressure. My blood pressure is always very good, but yesterday it was 98/66 – and since I’ve just started exercising again this week, the only big change has been working to remove all refined sugar from my diet. I’d say it is fixing and improving me in all sorts of ways!


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My whole life, I’ve had skin problems, mostly eczema, and food allergies. When I was very little, I couldn’t eat chocolate, dairy, among other things. Those are the ones I remember the most. I always had to sleep with a humidifier in the winter and an AC in the summer to keep my skin from getting dry. Humidity or cold dry weather would trigger my eczema. I would have to sleep with socks, take oatmeal baths, coat my skin in Eucerin (especially if I wanted to go in my beloved ocean – the water would burn my skin horribly, but if I was heavily coated with Eucerin, I could stand to be in the water. Not being in the water was not an option for this mermaid girl). But it never really mattered…once the eczema would wake up, I would tear at my skin, because it was the only thing that would feel better.

I got older, I outgrew the original food allergies, I seemed like I was getting somewhat better at keeping the eczema under control.

But everything was just lying dormant, waiting. I think of it all now like a dragon, sleeping. Sometimes, it will be months, maybe years before the dragon wakes up, but you are always aware that it is there. And then you just start to feel just the slightest twinge, and you know that if you look at it too hard, or scratch just a little, the dragon, the very angry dragon, will wake up and devour you whole.

Lots of changes started happening in my life – I moved in with my first boyfriend (who was a dragon in his own right, but I didn’t see it at first). My life became very stressful, with my work like and home life. I began having health problems – stomach pains, weird back pain, headaches (I had a migraine for a week straight).

I left him, and began dating Tim (with whom I am still good friends with and I’m thankful for that). I wanted to lose a little weight, so I started the South Beach diet and began eating everything whole grain. High-fiber everything. Most of what I ate at the time was whole wheat pasta, whole wheat cereal, and cheeses. I lost weight but my stomach was always bloated. I began having more stomach pain, weird digestive issues, weird back pain.

And my skin exploded.

Tests, more tests, doctors, more doctors. Nothing helped. No real answers were given, until I went to a naturopath and learned that I have celiac disease.

Gluten left my life, my health improved. But I continued to have breakouts. I continued using the high-intensity steroid cream whenever I would breakout. I would think it was from eating out, where I would accidentally get glutened.

I finally decided to give up dairy (casein – milk protein- to be specific) as well, and again, my skin really improved and cleared up. My energy improved. I would go for a month, two, maybe more with my skin clear. I started to feel whole, I started to feel like maybe my dragon had finally moved on and I was free.

But the dragon was just in a deeper sleep than I realized. It woke up again.

In the past year, I started to have more breakouts again. I thought it was from eating out, that no matter how carefully I checked, I had eaten something that had gluten or dairy in it (I’ve gone to the same restaurant and told them very specifically about my allergies, have them say that the dish didn’t have anything in it, only to get sick, go back at a later date, ask again, and be told that yes in fact it did have something in it. Duh, and also, Not helpful). My stomach started bothering me again.

But I was getting married in May. I wanted to be healthy, I wanted my skin to be healthy, my stomach to be healthy. I worked really hard at it. And I told my body it had to get through the wedding. And it listened. And then after the wedding, it was no longer able to keep everything at bay.

I began breaking out maybe every other week. My food habits hadn’t changed and I wasn’t eating out much.

I continued to use the steroid cream, and it was helping less and less.

When I say I broke out, I don’t mean that I had pimples or acne or a few select spots of eczema. I mean I had this incredibly itchy, painful rash EVERYWHERE. When it was flared up, it hurt to shower. It hurt to wear clothes. I couldn’t exercise because sweat hurt too much. I felt ugly. I cried a lot.

And then it got even worse.

My hand had the worst of it. Everytime I would wash my hands, my hands would dry out. When my hand was dry, it would get itchy. I would try to scratch it just a little, but remember the dragon? Yeah, then the dragon would wake up and the itch would drive me mad and I would scratch my hand until it was bleeding, because it would give me a minute of relief.

And then it got worse again. For most of September and all of October, my hand barely looked like a hand. It never healed no matter what I put on it, and I tried, I tried so hard to not scratch it, not touch it, but I was no match for this dragon. It hurt, oh god it hurt. I am right handed, and I began brushing my teeth and eating with my left hand, because I couldn’t bend my fingers. My fingers began weeping. Just running them under water could get them bleeding.

My entire body, head to toe, was covered. I wasn’t sleeping. I wasn’t eating. I had a cough and a weird shallow breathing thing that lasted for a month and would make it difficult for me to talk because I would be unable to breathe properly.  I had no energy at all. Just walking my dog around the corner exhausted me. I was trapped in my body, falling further and further away from myself, not able to do anything I love to do, and not knowing how to beat the dragon that had taken over my entire world.

I went to an acupuncturist. She said my liver, large intestine, stomach, spleen were all too “hot” and that was affecting everything else. Something that acupuncturists, and naturopaths, recognize that dermatologists don’t – all skin problems are actually the result of an internal problem. The body uses the skin to try to remove toxins…and of course the steroid cream that I was using nearly constantly doesn’t solve the problem, it just pushes the inflammation back inside.

I went to acupuncture for two weeks, and in those two weeks, I got so much worse. I don’t believe, and my acupuncturist doesn’t believe, that the acupuncture was making it worse necessarily, but it seemed that my system was so overloaded it couldn’t handle anything.

I had to go to the emergency room, to get seen by a dermatologist. They put me on a higher intensity cream, gave me antibiotics for the superinfection they found in my skin…and my skin finally started to clear up. I was able to start sleeping again. My energy started coming back. I don’t believe for a minute that it has fixed me, just given me a temporary solution that allowed me to live in my body again. But to be able to live in my body again is wonderful, joyous, cause for celebration.

I was able to start taking my dog for walks again. I was able to run yesterday. Huge celebrations.

The acupuncturist told me to get off sugar, because I have Candidia (yeast overgrowth). I am working very hard on that. I have eliminated almost all processed sugar at this point, and I am going to continue working at that. She also told me to get off soy milk and soy yogurt, as it is too damp, and she said what I had in acupuncture terms is damp heat. I’ve made good progress in that area as well.

In a lot of ways, right now I am feelign better than I have for a long, long time. My energy is high. I’m sleeping. No stomach pain or weird back pain.

But the dragon is still there. I can still feel it. There is the beginning of itching on my scalp, on my hand. I am not at full health yet, and I haven’t slain the dragon once and for all..but for the first time in a long time, I am fighting back.

And this time, I am going to win. I will find out how to control it and not be controlled BY it anymore.


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Most of the time, I’m ok with my food allergies.

It means I don’t eat out very often, but I can usually find fun stuff to make at home. I don’t actively miss the stuff I can’t have — mostly.

But I think I am learning that summertime makes me miss food more, maybe because summer food is fun, and because it is great weather to eat things outside.

For example, right now, I am really missing ice cream, gelato, frozen yogurt, soft serve ice cream, etc. Now, if I’m home, or near a grocery store, I can usually find decent soy ice cream, but when I’m walking past a fresh ice cream store or see people licking ice cream meltings off their fingers as they eat their ice cream cones…not a whole lot of Kelly options in those scenarios.

And I’m really missing burgers. Good veggie burgers, on a good roll. Gluten-free rolls, when I can find them – not that good really. They tend to be really dry and crumbly. And finding good veggie burgers? Not an easy task, as most have wheat protein in them. Dr. Praeger’s makes a veggie burger I can eat, it’s not very good (and it is very, very GREEN), but I can eat it. I just can’t usually find them.

And pizza. Oh, how I miss pizza. Real pizza, and even nasty Domino’s pizza. And yes, I can make pizza at home without cheese, but sometimes, you walk by someone eating a piece of fresh cheese pizza and your mouth just starts to water. At least mine does.

Sigh. Of course, at the moment, this is all compounded because my oven at home blew up a few days ago and we are waiting for the landlord to fix it, so I can’t cook. And eating out isn’t really fun anymore, so I’m just missing what I can’t have even more.

I apologize for the whining. Your non-whining Flying Mermaid will return to her regularly scheduled programming shortly.

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Like many, many people out there, I have food allergies, so I always have to think about what I eat. It doesn’t define me, but it does mean I have to check the ingredient labels, and then double-check, for everything I eat. It means I often have to say no to food that people offer me — at work, when I’m out in the grocery store and meet someone handing out samples, at people’s houses. Food that most people might usually say, “Oh I really shouldn’t,” but then they have one anyway. Food that is fun, but generally bad for you.

And it brings up a lot of questions from people. What do you mean you can’t eat this? (I mean, I will get sick for days) Well, what exactly are you allergic to? (gluten and casein — milk protein) Does that mean you can’t have x or y? (usually, yes) And the one that I get probably the most often, and the one that people see as really limiting, and one that has had me thinking a lot lately. Well, what can you eat?

Despite having two big food allergies, there is still a whole food world out there that is available to me. One that is healthy, full of flavor, color and lots of good things. It’s the food that we should be eating, the food our bodies actually want.

The more processed something is, the less likely I am to be able to eat it. But, really, is that a bad thing? Someday, take a good look at what you eat in a day. Look at how much sugar, sodium, dairy in all of its forms, fat, and scary chemical words are in the stuff you eat. That’s the stuff you are fueling your body with, the stuff that is sitting inside of you, the stuff that your body is using for everything it does.

My food allergies have made me eat healthier than I ever have in my life, and I was always considered a healthy eater. And it has changed my relationship with food. Now, because of my allergies, I can’t just eat whatever I see that looks good — pizza, donuts, cake, candy, whatever. I can’t just go to any restaurant and get what I want. I have to think about my food, I have to really consider what I put in my body. And I like what I’m feeding my body now. And when I don’t accidentally eat something I shouldn’t, or get cross-contaminated, I feel better than I probably ever have.

My dinners this week will include:

salad with green lettuce, mandarin oranges, almonds, dried cranberries, chicken and a pomegranate/mango dressing

Gluten-free rice pasta with yellow squash, zucchini, tomatoes with white balsamic vinegar dressing

A casserole with brown rice, chicken, diced tomatoes and peas

Gluten-free pizza crust with an artichoke, roasted-red pepper, garlic sauce with sliced tomatoes and broccoli

Breakfasts include smoothies with fruit and soy milk, leftover brown rice cooked in soy milk with vanilla and some fruit on top, flax cereal mixed into soy yogurt, maybe a tomato/broccoli omelet.

When I buy frozen food (because I still like convenience), I buy stuff from the Amy’s product line. Because she believes that if you can’t pronounce it or recognize an ingredient, than it probably isn’t food and doesn’t belong in your food. And that makes sense to me.

Doesn’t what I can eat sound good? And it is all good-for-me stuff, stuff that hasn’t been over-processed, isn’t just dressed up fat, sugar and chemicals. It’s food.

Another question I get asked all the time is, why don’t they just make a pill so that people with food allergies can just eat “normally”? I could never claim to speak for all people with food allergies, but for me, that is a really repulsive idea. Take a pill to allow me to eat things that my body really doesn’t like, take a pill that masks what those things do to my body, but not actually stop it from damaging my body. To me, that is just treating the symptom, not addressing the problem. I would rather watch what I eat, and eat what my body really wants, eat food that makes my body happy, and HONESTLY feel good, really good, than take a pill and eat like I used to and probably only feel half as bad as I do when I do eat gluten or casein.

Food allergies don’t have to mean that you can’t have food you like, it just means you have to think about it more. And I believe thinking about what you are really feeding yourself is a good thing.

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Warning — this post will contain health information (I will keep it fairly toned down) and rants directed at the “traditional” medicine system in place in the United States, as it relates to certain health problems. If you don’t want to read about health stuff, you might want to duck out now.


In the past year, I found out I have dermatitis herpetiformis (not actually related to herpes, despite the name), which is actually related to celiac disease. But finding this out was difficult and frustrating, as is the case for most people who also suffer from these. It shouldn’t be that way.

For over a year, I had lots of stomach problems. My stomach was always bloated. I had very weird, deep back pain, that was not muscle or bone related. I felt tired and sluggish a lot. I had “bathroom” stuff as well that scared me.

I went to my doctor several times. I was put on prescription acid reflux medicine. I had blood tests. I was poked and prodded a couple of times, and always ended up feeling like the doctors were making it out that I was crazy. I had a colonoscopy, and the GI doctor was just awful. He told me when I got my results and had my follow up, that he couldn’t see anything wrong, so there wasn’t any problem. So, I’m making up all the issues I’m having??

And this was after I had a bunch of stomach tests a few years before — ultrasound, CT scan, MRI, some test where I had to drink that nasty radioactive chalky liquid. They all came back fine, which is nice, except it didn’t explain why I was having these problems.

And then my skin problems started. I have very sensitive skin, and I’ve always had eczema, but all of a sudden it started getting MUCH worse, looked different, felt different, acted different. Showering would make me cry because it hurt. I felt like I wanted to tear my skin off. I started going to a dermatologist. This was just as bad if not worse than the GI specialist. The dermatologist kept insisting I had eczema and I just have dry skin that I need to keep moisturized. He just kept giving me different skin creams, most of which didn’t touch the problem. And all the while, I feel like I’m going out of my mind, because the only solutions were just more medicine, and I felt like they weren’t really listening to me or understanding how bad I felt. I wanted to know what was causing all of this, and no one was helping me.

I finally went to a naturopath, who immediately put me on an anti-inflammatory diet, or a very strict elimination diet, for about 6 weeks. It was really, really hard, but suddenly…I felt better. My skin started clearing up. My stomach problems went away. I stopped feeling so sluggish. Then, after I had been on the diet for about 6 weeks, I had to start adding food back in. And as soon as I added wheat and gluten back in, BAM! Stomach problems came back. Skin problems came back worse than before.  When I went back to the naturopath, she told me that she suspected I had celiac disease and dermatitis herpetiformis as soon as she started talking to me. But yet, no other “traditional” doctor ever suggested I might have a food allergy that might be making my body attack itself. No other doctor thought the skin problems and stomach problems might be related.

And this is where my rant really starts. Celiac disease is VERY common, the National Institute of Health believes that 1 in 100 people have celiac. Many are undiagnosed. And most people who have it, go through similar experiences, if not worse than what I went through before they are finally diagnosed.  And through it all, they are made to feel like they are crazy or they are making up the problems. Same is true for DH.

I don’t know exactly why this is, but I think it has to do with the traditional Western approach to medicine where you treat the visible symptom, not necessarily look for the underlying cause. And medicine is so specialized, that skin doctors don’t ever consider that GI problems could be related, and vice versa. They aren’t trained to treat the whole person. And then there’s the fact that you can’t treat Celiac Disease with a simple pill. It requires a lifestyle change. It requires work on the part of the patient, constant work. And you have to treat it by what you eat and what you don’t eat, which is not how traditional medicine seems to work here. So people are left going through test after test, feeling miserable and not knowing why. I’ve heard of people asking their doctor to test them for Celiac (there is a blood test) and being told that is not a real problem, or that is certainly not what is causing their health problems.

There is no real point to all of this, other than a heartfelt wish for traditional doctors to really listen to their patients. To try to find the root cause of the problem, and not just the surface solution. And that people who have not yet been diagnosed to get the answers they seek and know that there are doctors out there who do listen, who do understand, and that you really can feel better.

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We drove up to Mass for the Thanksgiving holiday, and I can say this pretty easily — we won’t be doing that drive anytime soon. In fact, we probably won’t do that drive again if we can help it.

The good parts of the trip:

Myra. We brought the WonderPup up with us, and she was an angel. She amazes me by how wonderful she is, even when she doesn’t have any reason to be. More on the pup when I get to the puppy section.

My mom. She went out of her way to make sure I had gluten-free, dairy-free food and goodies. Putting together a thanksgiving dinner is a lot of work anyway, but then add in making things in duplicate and triplicate to accommodate food allergies, and it becomes an ordeal. But my mom never complained about having to make extra food, and it was so nice and appreciated to be able to eat what everyone else was eating. She even made GF DF versions of her pumpkin bread and apple pie that I love. It made it Thanksgiving.

Seeing She Hangs Brightly and Bryan and the pups.  I miss her horribly and getting to spend a night just talking and watching the pups play was worth the trip.

The Bad parts of the trip:  

The Drive. We left around 2 p.m. on Tuesday. Got to my parents house around 6:30 a.m. Wednesday. Didn’t stop, so I was awake for about 24 hours straight. We wanted to leave before Wednesday, thinking there would be worse traffic then. But we hit rush hour traffic in Richmond, Virginia, horrible backups in D.C. and along the Maryland beltway — apparently, they are doing road construction, and they have lanes closed, just because they are storing their equipment there. And then there was the George Washington Bridge. I was so stressed, thank Dog Tim was driving for that leg. Lots of tractor trailer trucks, cutting each other off, not noticing or seeing us, 16 lanes of traffic merging down to one. On a bridge. On a bridge that sways and groans.  Terrifying.

The sleep, or lack of sleep. It’s hard to not sleep on your own bed, and there was construction outside my parents house that I heard all Wednesday when we were trying to sleep. And because we were sleeping in the basement and I am a very light sleeper, I heard my parents every time they got up to go to the bathroom or when they got up for the day, so I only slept in spurts.

When we drove back home, it still took about 15 hours, even though we only really hit traffic in Maryland, and we avoided the George Washington Bridge entirely. And being Gluten-free, dairy-free means it is really hard for me to eat safely while on the road. I ended up getting sick, possibly from cross-contamination at Thanksgiving. Using someone’s knife who had used butter could do it.  It will take probably till Wednesday for my system to completely reset.

The puppy:  

Myra is such an amazingly good dog. Not only does she handle long car rides exceptionally well, but she just always remains happy. She didn’t sleep well on the drive up, because of the stop and go traffic, but she didn’t whine or squeak, and she would listen when we would ask her to sit or lay down.

She has never been in anyone else’s house, but she adjusted to that quickly and easily. She did whatever was asked of her. She would watch my mom cook in the kitchen, but she wouldn’t beg for food, and she would never dream of trying to steal food.

She met more people in a house setting than she ever has, and even though she was overwhelmed at times, she still listened really well, and would settle down when we asked her to.

We took her to the beach down the street from my parents house. It was her first time ever seeing the ocean, first time ever seeing water bigger than a puddle. She was just about the cutest, happiest dog on the planet. There was no one on the beach, and we left her off her leash and she just ran and ran. She would get about 50 feet ahead of us, then turn to look for us and wait for us to catch up. When she finally discovered the water, she just charged in and was playing in the waves and romping around. We would throw rocks in the water for her, and she would get so confused because she couldn’t find what she was looking for.

When we took her up to meet Loki and Teygan (She Hangs Brightly’s dogs), she was so cute and flirty. She would keep rolling around on her belly for them, she would go up and give kisses or sit and paw at their faces to get them to play with her. She had lots of people to throw balls for her, and she was just thrilled about that. She is an amazingly happy dog, and I love her with my whole being and then more.

I think there were more good things than bad things, but man, the bad things were pretty rough. Actual thanksgiving was nice, but it isn’t worth the hassle to try and drive up again, and I don’t really want to fly on the busiest travel holiday. We shall see what happens next year, but I am guessing it will involve just me and Tim and MyraPup at our house, quiet and mellow.

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