The Danger Zone

There are times where I just don’t eat.  Yes, I know that that isn’t healthy for me but sometimes it comes down to necessity.  There are other times where I’m limited on what to eat because I KNOW what is safe and what isn’t.

What I’m referring to are the parties that are coming up for the holidays.  If you are Celiac, or gluten intolerant or have any type of food allergy, you know what I’m talking about.  You walk into a party, look at the food and just know that you can’t have any of it.  There are times, like the fundraiser I was at last night, where I don’t even bother to look at the food or ask because it just seems like a waste of time.  I’m not being negative, just realistic.

But there are options, besides starving (like I did last night because of lack of preparation, totally my fault!).  Here are a few of my tried and true tips:

1.  Eat before.  What can it hurt to at least have a snack before you go so if there isn’t anything, you at least don’t want to chew your arm off in hunger.  It nearly happened to me last night, don’t think I won’t do it.

2.  Take a snack.  Yes, you might look odd grabbing crackers out of your purse but at least you know it’s safe and you can eat with the people you are hanging out with.  If you don’t want to be “that person”, sneak away to another room and quickly eat.

3.  Suck it up and eat later.  This is what I did.  Well, not the suck it up part, I did whine a little but I waited and ate after the event.  This was bad because I was so hungry that I didn’t eat anything healthy, it was all junk.

These are things I consider when I go out to someone’s home, to a party and, sometimes, when dining out with friends.  Sometimes I know that all I can have is a plate of veggies which won’t take me far so it’s better to be safe than sorry.  So the lesson is prepare, prepare, prepare!

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Giving Thanks

In two days it will be Thanksgiving and most people think about what they are thankful for just long enough to get to the turkey and stuffing.  Then the day is filled with football, naps and more eating.

Yes, I will be doing some of that, as well as running a race, but the last couple weeks have made me realize how thankful I really am.

You see, I have had multiple friends that have kids in the hospital, have a spouse or family member or close friend with cancer, or surgeries that were complete surprises.  At this time of the year, when we give thanks and move towards the happy holiday that Christmas is, there is so much hurt and heartbreak.

I think of three different families that I know right now that are dealing with cancer in one of their loved ones.  I know that there are more out there but there are the ones that I personally know.  There is much to be thankful for this holiday but I know that they are thinking farther ahead.  I hope that they take in each moment to treasure them in their hearts.

I think of my good friend Shawna who’s daughter is in the hospital fighting a bacteria in her lungs because she has Cystic Fibrosis and may, or may not, be out of the hospital before Thanksgiving.  Each day is precious to them as well…but Courtney is a fighter!

There are more but I’m writing to say this:  be thankful EVERY day.  There is so much to be happy about, to give thanks about on a daily basis.  Remember what they are, write them down, or at least write them on your heart.  Give thanks to God for what He’s given you, even the hard stuff because it grows you.

Have a blessed Thanksgiving, hug your friends and family and eat lots!  🙂

The nightmare comes true

As a Celiac, my worst nightmare is being served the wrong food.  When we had a Carino’s here, they served me regular pasta once and it wasn’t a pretty sight.  I complained, the kitchen manager said “we need to train better” and it was a LONG time until I ate there again.  Only then did I tell them I was gluten free when I was seated but when the server came over to get my drink order, when I ordered food, when the food came, etc.  I checked and then triple checked.

Last week I wanted soup for lunch and was going with my mom.  She is also GF and eats at Chili’s a lot and since they had soup there, I thought I’d try it.

Chili’s isn’t my favorite place to eat.  I’ve just never been a fan of their food but I’m willing to step outside my little box and go somewhere that isn’t my favorite.  We were seated, asked for a GF menu and they have a nifty Ipad thing at each table now with allergen menus, games and where you can also pay your tab.  I took a look at the menu, decided on the unlimited soup and salad combo and ordered the soup off of the GF menu, reiterating that I needed to be gluten free and also asking that I not have cheese on either.

Since it was unlimited, I decided to have a second bowl of the soup.  I flagged down another server, who had been assisting ours, and asked for the GF soup, no cheese.  He looked at me, said “that soup doesn’t have cheese on it” and my heart sank.  I had been served the wrong soup.  He was apologetic and brought me the correct soup the second time around.

When our server came back, my mom kinda let her have it.  She told her that we had, several times, told her that we were GF and the soup that was brought wasn’t.  All she said was “I’m sorry” and stood there.  I explained to her how sick I get but it didn’t seem to register.  We asked for a manager and all we got from her was “I’m sorry” and I told her that her staff needed better training.

I can tell you that that may be my last visit to Chili’s…ever.  Not only were they not attentive to my needs but, when a huge issue of negligence came up, no one seemed concerned.  A place like that does not deserve my business.

 

On the road again…

I love traveling, even if it’s day trip or a work trip.  New areas, new people to talk to, gets me really excited because I love adventure!

The thing I don’t love is eating out.  I’m always “that person”.  “Angela, where can you eat?”  Then there is asking the server for a gluten free menu and the disappointment when they don’t have one or say “I think it’s ok”.  Sigh.  I try to do as much research as possible before heading out but when you’re not sure what area of the, let’s say, Denver metro area you’ll be in, it’s hard to plan.

What are your suggestions?  I have apps on my phone but they aren’t always up to date or don’t always have the restaurants that aren’t chains.  I always take snacks along but after two days of eating “snacks”, well, you just can’t keep doing it.

I am grateful that, on this trip, a good friend of mine who is aware of my need to be GF will be along.  He will make sure we have somewhere safe for me to eat but…there is always that chance of me NOT being able to eat.

So, these are my thoughts as I get ready to go on this trip!  Wish me luck!

Bringing it back to normal

I ask myself a lot “what is normal”? Normal seems to be a word that we use a lot but doesn’t have a “real” definition since what is normal for me, isn’t normal for you…for the most part.

Well, a few months ago I did a detox bootcamp: 28 days of eating right and bringing my pH balance back to normal. Yes, there is a normal pH balance.

What most people don’t know is that our bodies, because of what we eat and drink, become acidic and results in weight gain and, as we are finding out, may play a part in diseases like cancer. Our bodies NEED to be closer to a normal pH balance or they freak out.

This bootcamp was super scary to me. We had to eliminate gluten (done!), dairy, soy, whey, caffeine, alcohol and many other things. Well, I love cheese, was a caffeine junky (we are talking three cups of coffee, sodas at lunch and an energy drink in the afternoon…every day) and love my beer and whiskey. It was going to be a rough 28 days.

But I learned a lot. A lot about food, a lot about how the body processes food and a lot about myself and who I WANT to be. You see, when your body is acidic (toxic), your fat cells store the toxic stuff because, well, what else does it do with it? So you gain weight and you aren’t able to lose weight on diets because you are still eating toxic/acidic stuff. Make sense? So you can go on that Weight Watchers diet with the WW cookies, etc but if you are still eating crap, your body still stores the crap. Just an example and nothing against WW.

Anyway, I did it as a test and I had great results. I didn’t need to lose weight but lost 10 pounds…lost 8 inches too. It taught me that what we eat is so much more important that we realize. It made me realize that taking the time to shop and MAKE food is way more important that I ever gave it credit. And it made me realize that I want a healthier, happier, pH balanced me. I also realized how I want to help my friends and have been able to and have been able to share in their happiness as they discover health and life.

28 days is nothing if you have a longer life. I encourage you to find a program like this, or ask me about the program I did. Get healthy, get happy!

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Just keep swimming…

Somehow the spring and summer got away from me.  It was an amazing time with friends, family and spending a LOT of time outdoors.  That meant that I spent LESS time away from my computer and less time writing, obviously, except for my weekly article for the Free Press.  I apologize for being lax in my writing for my audience.  It wasn’t my intent to forget you!

There were two things that stuck out for me that happened over the summer.  First, we had a family reunion over the 4th of July holiday…ok, we had two family reunions.  One planned, the other just happened.  You see, there is a lot of my family (from my mom and dad’s sides) that either hadn’t seen my niece and nephew and some that hadn’t even met my sister in law.  This was an opportunity to kill several birds with one stone.

My mom’s side of the family hadn’t been together since the funeral of my grandpa so it was decided that we would get together for something fun instead of a sad event.  There was so much laughter and memories during those day that went so quickly.  Then, as my mom’s side of the family left, my dad’s side came.  More laughter ensued…more great memories.

The best thing is that, during these few fleeting days, everything we ate was gluten free.  I don’t think a lot of people even gave it a thought as they picked up the scones, muffins and or other tasty treats that my mom had baked.  Most of the baked goods were recipes that had been handed down for several generations and she had modified.  It was, from my point of view, a great showing of what gluten free isn’t:  tasteless, cardboard food.  It was also a showing that we are normal people, we just had a disease that causes us to adjust HOW we eat and WHAT we eat.  An adjustment, not a death sentence, if we follow the rules.

The second thing that I did this summer was the Warrior Dash, which happened to be my third time running this race.  Despite disappointments during the actual race, it was the most fun that I’ve had at the race.  Shawna, my running partner and partner in crime, and I stayed at Copper Mountain this time and we were able to catch the post race festivities with our friends.  The nice thing about Copper is that, as a ski resort, they are sensitive to the needs of the GF community and I was able to eat sushi and many other things while there.  It was another amazing milestone for summer 2014.

I will try to not be so lax in my writing here on out.  Feel free to keep following and have a great day!

Eating on the run

Sometimes a lunch hour gets shortened by an unexpected errand or maybe you forgot to bring your lunch.  What do you do then?  Just wait until 5 o’clock so you can punch the clock and race home?  Eat your arm?

This is something I’ve struggled with as a quick sweep through the Taco Bell drive through doesn’t work any longer.  I used to love Burger King fries, Subway sandwiches and many other forms of fast food.  Maybe that’s why I wasn’t losing weight on any diets!

So what does one do when you are gluten free and need a meal in hurry?  I have a couple items that I have kept in my pantry and desk at work in case that this problem arises.  One is GoPicnic which is a picnic in a box, basically.  It usually has crackers, some type of protein (turkey jerky or pepperoni, for example), cheese, dried fruit and more.  It’s perfect for picnics and hikes too as it can stay in it’s box and be safe.  The other item is Tapas 2 Go which is hummus and crackers.  Not as substantial but still very good and can tide you over until it’s really time to eat.

 

What are your go to “fast food” items?

It’s not as easy as it looks

People go on diets all of the time to lose weight or, as in the case of my athlete/bodybuilding friends, to do a competition of some sort.  Cutting out certain foods helps you achieve those goals and can help you get much healthier.

But there is a difference between choosing to cut out a food group or just a couple of foods and being forced to cut out foods.  When you choose to cut foods out, you have the option of bringing them back into your life when, or if, you choose to.  When you HAVE to cut a food out it’s not quite as easy.  Especially when the item you have to cut out of your life is in EVERYTHING.

Which is where the bet comes into play.  I was out with some friends a couple weeks ago watching football and enjoying an adult beverage.  When it came time to eat, my friend Kim and I discussed what we wanted (we are quite familiar with local restaurants and what we can and can’t have) and ordered.  Somehow the topic turned into an “it’s not that easy” discussion.  Now, Kim is right, eating gluten free can be challenging and frustrating.  Gluten is in all different types of foods, most you wouldn’t think.

So Kim and Craig bet.  Kim bet Craig that he couldn’t go a full week of eating gluten free and he accepted.  Then I told him where wheat was and what he couldn’t have.  First, beer.  He looked at his beer sadly but decided he could give it up for a week.  Then I moved into the liturgy of “you can’t have pasta, bread, breaded foods, certain kinds of ketchup, certain types of soy sauce, most Chinese foods, cereals…” and the list went on and on.

I think finding out that “little” things like ketchup, soy sauce and salad dressings can contain wheat is surprising but wheat is a binder, and thickener, in almost everything.  I mean, a friend of mine made chili with a seasoning packet that had, yes, wheat.

Well, the bet lasted under eight hours when Craig decided it wasn’t going to happen.  I don’t blame him, if I wasn’t Celiac, I wouldn’t be gluten free either.  I would be feasting happily on my Chinese food with soy sauce.  I won’t lie, though, I helped enjoy the spoils of Kim’s winnings and was happy about it.

Go on guys…bet again.  I’m ready for it!

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.

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!