Staying on the Positive Side

Last week I was out with some of my friends watching football and somehow the topic came around to eating gluten free.  Ok, let’s face it, almost every time I’m around the topic comes around to gluten free.  I don’t try, it just happens.  It just so happened that this day it was double trouble:  two of us are gluten free.

I’m used to being gluten free and although it’s not my favorite thing in the world, I’m ok with it.  Yes, I have times when I really want an egg roll (yes, I’m back to the egg roll) but overall, it is what it is.  My friend Kim misses certain things in life like Bud Light and Taco Bell.  I don’t blame her, it sucks somedays.  The topic turned into “eating gluten free sucks” which turned into a bet between Kim and my friend Craig.  The bet?  That Craig (not gluten free) was to eat gluten free for a whole week.  The loser to buy dinner and pay an monetary amount.  While it sounds easy (cut the bread, pasta and beer) it isn’t that easy and is quite tricky.  That topic, and the results from the bet, will be in another blog so stay tuned.

What got me thinking was that we too often look at the negative side of things.  We look at what we CAN’T have and aren’t thankful for what we CAN have.  I’m super thankful that my friends bought gluten free buns last night so I could have a normal hamburger.  Was the bun like a normal bakery bun?  No.  But it was the kind of bun I CAN have.  Do I miss Bud Light?  Yes but there are gluten free beers that are good.

I’ve started hearing it more and more from those that are gluten free.

“Oh, I can’t have that.”

“This gluten free diet is too expensive.”

“I hate to read every label.”

“The gluten free diet is hard.”

While all of these might be true, let’s try to be thankful that eating gluten free is SO much easier than 20 years ago, even five years ago.  Let’s be thankful that there ARE foods out there that we can eat, no matter the cost.  Let’s remember what we CAN have and not feel restricted by what we can’t.  Let’s adjust our way of thinking and see the positive side of things.

Make it a point this week to listen to how you talk, especially about eating gluten free.  When you want to say something negative about eating gluten free, make it into something positive and I bet your whole outlook will change.

Don’t forget you can find me on Facebook or on Twitter by following @MissSillyYak.

A life cut short

This has been a tough time of the year for me for the past 14 years.  I will never forget that moment that my Pastor Steve met me in Jeschke Hall on the University of Sioux Falls campus bearing the awful news:  my cousin Jay had been killed in a horrible car accident.  You see, it had been an icy I-29 near Kansas City on his way back to college and there was a several car pile up.  10 people died including my cousin and his girlfriend.  A horrible, horrible end to such beautiful, young lives.  It was a shock, I almost didn’t believe it but Pastor Steve wouldn’t play such a horrific joke.

The next couple days were filled with plans on how to get to North Dakota for the funeral, driving and meeting up with my parents for the long drive back to where I had spent my high school days and where my family was.  The funny part is that Jay wasn’t just my cousin.  Because we were all so close (my cousins and my brother and I), Jay was like a little brother to me.  We spent holidays, birthdays, other days just hanging out with each other.  And lots of days on the farm where Jay was most comfortable except when he was hunting.

Somedays it is still surreal that he’s gone.  He had a great, ornery smile.  You knew he was up to something at all times, even if the plan hadn’t been formed yet.  And still he was a sweet, sweet kid.  He loved animals, people and sports.  He was so YOUNG, so young.

So around his time of year I get sad, super sad and always wonder why until January 23rd rolls around and then I remember.  I think part of me has a HUGE chunk of regret.  I was supposed to go back to North Dakota during that time and see Jay but my car broke down and things didn’t work out so I could see him.  Some part of me knows that it was God’s plan that I not see him before he left to heaven yet some part of me is angry that I didn’t get to see him one last time.  Just one last time…

I know that this blog might be rambling but my emotions are running on high right now.  I miss my cousin terribly and wonder what he might be doing now, as a 30 something adult.  And every year I think about a life cut short…a life lost too soon.

At Jay’s funeral, one of his coach’s read this poem, which fit Jay well:

To An Athlete Dying Young
THE time you won your town the race
We chaired you through the market-place;
Man and boy stood cheering by,
And home we brought you shoulder-high.
To-day, the road all runners come,          5
Shoulder-high we bring you home,
And set you at your threshold down,
Townsman of a stiller town.
Smart lad, to slip betimes away
From fields where glory does not stay,   10
And early though the laurel grows
It withers quicker than the rose.
Eyes the shady night has shut
Cannot see the record cut,
And silence sounds no worse than cheers   15
After earth has stopped the ears:
Now you will not swell the rout
Of lads that wore their honours out,
Runners whom renown outran
And the name died before the man.   20
So set, before its echoes fade,
The fleet foot on the sill of shade,
And hold to the low lintel up
The still-defended challenge-cup.
And round that early-laurelled head   25
Will flock to gaze the strengthless dead,
And find unwithered on its curls
The garland briefer than a girl’s.


-AE Housman

Thank you, Jay, for great memories…I will remember you always….

Gypsy at Heart

When I was a kid, we moved a lot.  My dad worked for Farmer’s Coops and we would be in one rural community for a while, then we’d move on to another community, all as a part of dad working to help build the coops so they weren’t losing money any longer.  I HATED it.  I was a “set your roots in deep” kind of kid and also didn’t make friends easily (I was painfully shy) so moving was tough on this kiddo.  My brother, on the other hand LOVED moving and meeting new people.  I remember, my freshman year of high school, I had it all:  I played alto/tenor sax in the jazz band, was third sax chair in band, was in choir, in FHA and had just joined the newspaper crew.  Good grades, good friends and then mom and dad hit me with a bombshell:  we were moving.  Not only were we moving from the South Dakota town I had pretty much grown up in and had spent six and a half years of my life in but we were moving to my dad’s hometown.

I was DEVESTATED but I didn’t tell my parents that until a few years ago.  I mean, I was a kid and you moved where your parents went.  I ended up dropping out of band and choir my senior year of high school due to the fact that it wasn’t challenging to me.  I continued to have good grades but…I really missed that South Dakota school and the friends/lifestyle that it meant to me.

Move ahead a few years (ok, a LOT of years) and since high school I have moved multiple times.  I have found that I like to stay in a community for a little bit, get my feet wet and then move on.  I get the jitters, the fever and my gypsy spirit comes out.  I want to move, to have a new adventure and meet new people.  Obviously, I am no longer a painfully shy person, I guess working in sales will cure you of that.

What brought this thought on?  I took a quiz on Facebook.  One of those deep, meaningful “do you like your coffee black or in a cappucino form” type quizzes and it told me that I belonged in Paris.  Ah, Paris, the city of love, art and french bread carried in the armpits.  I do want to go to Paris but I’d also like to go to Austria, Germany, London and many other places in Europe but this Facebook revelation made me realize how much I miss moving.  Living in Grand Junction, CO at almost nine years is the longest I’ve EVER lived anywhere and some part of me misses that gypsy ability to pick up and move.  Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE this community and am very involved in it but a piece of me wishes I could just pick up tomorrow, move to another location and explore for a few years before repeating the pattern.  The one thing I know is that there is a plan for my long stay in Grand Junction, along with the fact that I love living near my parents, so I will stay until it’s time to go.

So, that is my thought for this morning, as rambling as it might be.  Thank you for “listening”!

Six things you shouldn’t say to someone who is gluten free

There are many misconceptions when it comes to eating gluten free and I hear things quite often that shouldn’t be said to someone who has a condition, especially a disease or an allergy.  Here are a few that I’ve heard and just shouldn’t be said.

1.  “A little bit won’t hurt you.”  If you have a peanut allergy, a little peanut will hurt, right?  So, if I have an AUTOIMMUNE disease, why wouldn’t a little bit hurt me?  I know my body and it would hurt.

2. “Gluten free is just a fad.”  Yes, to some people it is and I will admit that there is a lot of info out there that would make it seem that way.  For many of us, this is a way of life.  It’s the way it HAS to be and I don’t have a choice in it.  By the way, if you are following a gluten free diet to lose weight, it doesn’t really work that way.  I would encourage you to look into a Paleo diet.

3.  “I couldn’t give up bread and pasta.  I don’t know how you do it.”  This one cracks me up because it usually comes from someone who has never had to give anything up.  When you HAVE to do something for your health, you do it, even if you don’t want to.

4.  “I can’t believe that they haven’t come up with a pill so you can eat wheat.”  They are, honestly, working on it but I’m still not sure if I would take it.  I mean, what if it doesn’t work?  So, until it is a for sure thing, I will avoid anything with gluten.

5.  “I think this is gluten free.”  Think?  Really?  I think my brakes work on my car.  This is something I run into at restaurants a lot and a lot of this is just not educating people, which is our responsibility.  Either an item is or it isn’t gluten free, end of story.   And by the way, removing croutons from a salad, taking a bun out from under and on top of a hamburger, etc doesn’t make an item gluten free, it just makes it bread free.

6.  “If gluten is so bad, why do people still eat it?”  This is a super good question.  For most people, gluten doesn’t affect people, just like peanuts aren’t dangerous for people without a peanut allergy.  My body won’t process the gluten (the protein found in wheat, barley and rye) and actually causes my body to reject food, to cause my body to not absorb minerals, etc.  If your body can still process gluten, there is no need to cut it out although I would recommend limiting your intake.

These are just a few things that I hear and, to be honest, most just roll of my back.  The lesson here?  Just be cautious of what you say!

By the way, don’t forget to follow me on Facebook and on Twitter at @MissSillyYak!

Never take it for granted

Last night we had our monthly meeting of Gluten Free Grand Valley, the gluten free support group in Grand Junction, CO.  I am pretty proud of this group as I am one of the co-founders and we have great people that attend as well as a large group on Facebook.

Our meeting was a 2014 kickoff and we (the board) wanted to get an idea of what people are looking to get out of our meetings.  The feedback was great but the part that I think really tickled people was the food.  I had been to the Denver Gluten Free Food Fair in August, was able to get a hold of some of the vendors and they, very kindly, sent samples to me.

People that don’t have food issues may be thinking “what’s the big deal?”  It is a big deal.  You may think that if tomorrow you couldn’t have bread, you wouldn’t miss it.  That is, until you wanted to have a PB&J and you were going to have to eat it either without bread or, in the case of most gluten free breads, nearly a piece of cardboard.  One of the vendors that sent samples was Kinnickinnick.  They make many types of foods from bread/cake mixes to cookies to loaves of bread.  They sent bread.  I was skeptical since most gluten free bread is either good for only toasting, for Thanksgiving Day stuffing or great for sawdust.  Yes, it’s that good.  Not this bread.  Soft, chewy, almost REAL bread!  I may have been in heaven for a while, I’m not sure.

Seems silly, right?  Bread?  Big deal.  You’re right, it IS a big deal.  It’s a big deal because growing up I could have a grilled cheese sandwich.  I haven’t had one in almost two years.  I couldn’t just make a PB&J because cardboard bread doesn’t have the right texture or taste.  I couldn’t have bread with my soup (yes, I like to dip bread in soup, so sue me).  Anything that you can’t have because your body will hate you for it is something you crave, something you desire and something that you SHOULD be able to have.

Those of you who don’t have food issues, whose bodies will accept anything you put into it, never take it for granted.  Consider it a blessing that you don’t have to worry about getting sick from foods. Enjoy them and enjoy them often.

Also, if you want to find out more about me and want to get more posts, you can follow me on Facebook or on Twitter by following @MissSillyYak.

Gluten Free…FOREVER!

I was at a local restaurant with a friend of mine.  It’s actually a good restaurant chain, Red Robin, and has great gluten free buns along with high standards for keeping me (and others) safe when dining there.

It was actually an accident that Craig chose this restaurant for lunch and when I asked for an allergen menu he stated “not a great place to choose to eat.”  I reassured him that it was a great choice and that they had gluten free buns and that they were good.  The part of the experience that settled in my brain was the server’s words when she saw the allergen menu:  “We have a wheat allergy today?”  Craig was quick with a response and said “WE have a wheat allergy everyday.”  The server saw his point and scooted away.

I find that this statement bothered me in a few ways. First, who was the “we” she was talking about? Did she have a mouse in her pocket?

Second, a wheat allergy/gluten intolerance/Celiac disease is an everyday thing for me. It’s not a “today I will eat GF, tomorrow I’m having bread!” kinda thing. I live with this 24-7.

It bothers me that people sometimes take it lightly, that it’s a flippant thing. This is an important, life altering lifestyle. Something that I have to think about every time I grocery stop because items like salad dressing and spices can have wheat. It’s something that I have to think about when my friends want to go out to eat. It’s an everyday, all day, rest of my life DISEASE.

So, I’m not gluten free just yesterday or today. I am gluten free…forever.