It pays to be brave–tests and results for Celiacs Disease

If you’ve followed my blog, you’ll know that I started out on an experiment in 2012 where I  researched, avoided grains; particularly wheat and did my best to improve my health. You’ll also know that over the last two-three years I’ve done everything I could to avoid taking any actual tests for Celiacs Disease.

I still have the utmost respect for my doctor who encouraged me to just stop eating foods with gluten in them if it bothered me to eat them and to not worry about the expense of paying for the tests for Celiacs Disease. At the time it was more than reasonable given that I didn’t have insurance. However, I’ve grown impatient with experimenting.

I don’t know about you but I’m not always the best at being highly regimented and let’s face it, there’s gluten in just about everything or so it seems. And can anyone honestly say they love all those box mixes for gluten free breads with the exception of maybe Namaste brand? I’ve had so many gastrointestinal upsets as I tried so many different “grains”.

For the sake of integrity and transparency, it was the wretched tasting, high calorie, bloating and even asthma attacks that led me to shy away from experimenting with much more than sweet white rice, brown rice, oat and potato flours. In good conscience I have to give a warning here that I am extremely disillusioned with alternative grains (really grasses and seeds) such as quinoa and sorghum to name only two of them. My allergic reaction to quinoa was evident within minutes. I ran for my inhaler and an antihistamine hoping for the best. Never again. The bloating from sorghum was worse than anything I experienced from wheat and regretted it for days. Enough is enough!

Ten days ago during a visit with an endocrinologist concerning my thyroid and my weight loss concerns we talked about ways to lose weight and in the course of the conversation when I explained my issues with wheat and corn,  he suggested the screening tests for Celiacs Disease. 

Since I hadn’t been very good at keeping wheat and gluten out of my diet we knew we could run the tests because I had six weeks of consistent gluten in my diet.  My results were definitive.  I do NOT have Celiacs disease. I am elated and disappointed. I am grateful not to have to work so hard to include alternative grains in my diet (which by the way are very high in carbohydrate) but I am disappointed not to have an answer. Gluten intake still causes inflammation and bloating.  My doctor discussed with me that I may have difficulty digesting grains which may attribute to issues of bloating and cramping in the gut and inflammation from a build up of toxins with inadequate digestion.

It seems my journey isn’t over after all.  Its just begun. The focus of my blog will now turn its attention on diets to ease inflammation and maybe I’ll just have to look at Paleo and other similar diets. And I will be investigating the gluten intolerance and sensitivities (so many interesting studies going on).

Sourdough bread for Celiac sufferers, pancakes, waffles and much more.

5ae3d-sourdoughbreadIf you’ve been keeping up with the latest in Celiac or gluten intolerance news it may have come to your attention that sufferers have now turned to sourdough breads as a solution. Are these breads made from wheat? Why yes…yes they are and they are safe; say some people. The good news according to another site is that the process of making sour dough bread is having a positive effect for Celiac sufferers.  I was to say the least, cynical at first. Yeah Yeah Yeah…I thought…another miracle cure for those who suffer from intolerance or worse in consuming wheat and gluten products. Still I kept researching along.

I was elated (however still skeptical), to hear that the fermenting process helps neutralize the phytic acid. Then I spoke with a woman I work with who claimed that REAL sourdough bread has been put through a process of fermentation that takes up to half a day and it actually breaks down the gluten, making it easier to digest. So sure that I’d benefit from sourdough, she gave me a starter.  This sourdough starter is NOT made from commercial yeast. This one and others like it have been handed down from generation to generation.

Would you like to know how to make a sourdough starter without using commercialize yeast? Because let’s face it…that is not real sourdough. If you are up for an adventure, here’s a LINK from a very amiable person who will walk you through it step by step. OR find someone who already has a traditional or what is known as wild yeast starter to share with you.

So, back at the ranch, this coworker of mine not only gave me a starter but several recipes. We’ve tried the waffle recipe. It was light and divine. I’m telling you, I’ll never use a mix for waffles or pancakes again.

I also adapted her bread recipe for just one loaf and I did it in my auto bread maker. I’m thrilled. The sourdough bread is as soft and tasty as any commercial product I’ve had. It was EASY but what I’m really happy about…It’s been an hour since I ate the first piece of sourdough bread. And guess what folks…no bloating, no heartburn and amazingly enough, I don’t feel sluggish. Okay maybe that’s pushing it a bit. I do feel sleepy but it’s Sunday afternoon, what do you want from me? I should be napping. 🙂

In any event, I just wanted to chime in on the whole sourdough is safe for Celiac sufferers (please check with your doctor if you have diagnosed Celiac disease) and for those of us with gluten sensitivities or intolerance. Does this mean I’ll go on some craze now and eat bread every day. Probably not, I’m still trying to lose weight and eating high carbs like that isn’t going to get me to my end goal very quickly when I already lose weight at a snail’s pace (34 lbs lost over three years and many more to go).

I’m just saying, it’s nice to have an option.

Stop the bloat!

Many of us have gone in search of remedies or answers for a question or condition that plagues us.  Why do we bloat after we eat? At first I wanted to blame it all on the carbs I was eating. After all, once I eliminated most grains and fruits  from my diet I saw significant relief in the amount of bloating I experienced.

And then I wanted to attribute it to the wheat or gluten in anything I was eating but that seemed to come and go and wasn’t really something I could conclusively attribute to gluten consumption.

I became a label reader long ago but now I was in search of clues for additives. I became obsessed with MSG and other known offenders for swelling and gastro intestinal upsets.

It got so I wondered what I could eat and what was really the culprit. Was I destined to have a HUGE gut? Then, I connected the dots. There was a common factor in many of my experiences. It wasn’t in all of them but I did find it in the majority of my bad experiences in eating. Every single time I had any sort of meal in which I ate out, I experienced bloating, gas, acid reflux and swelling even when I made healthier choices in a restaurant.

Now I am not going to tell you that I never eat out. In fact, I eat out too much of the time but I will tell you that I have come to accept if I’m going to eat out I will suffer for it in just about every way imaginable including my wallet. So what is it in eating out for me that causes so much bloating and other uncomfortable symptoms? Here’s what the Mayo Clinic describes as potential causes (commentary mine):

  • Eating fatty foods. Fat delays stomach emptying and can increase the sensation of fullness (yup, especially for those of us with no gall bladder)
  • Stress or anxiety (oh heck yeah)
  • Smoking (I don’t smoke)
  • A gastrointestinal infection, blockage or disease ( I really hope not)
  • Irritable bowel syndrome, a condition characterized by abdominal pain or cramping and changes in bowel function  ( I hate it when this happens)
  • Conditions such as celiac disease or lactose intolerance in which the intestines aren’t able to digest and absorb certain components of food (Yup this one too).

Of course if you have celiac disease you already know not to eat any foods containing gluten. (I still believe my earlier post that talks about how GMO’s significantly have altered our grains and made them unfit for our consumption)

Don’t forget the broccoli connection either. As much as I love my veggies and beans they are known offenders. You best have a bottle of Gas X or beano on hand if you are sensitive to their effects. Also, if you haven’t read the label on your favorite meal replacer drink (mine is by Isagenix) look for added fiber.  I’ve had to move to using their protein powder rather than the meal replacer shake because I can’t tolerate that much fiber in one setting.

And on a more personal note: You might want to ask yourself if you really are bloating or if you are obsessed with your body image. Some of us (and I do mean to include myself in this) have become so hypersensitive over our appearance and acceptability that we watch for every little flaw we can find. If you suffer in this way, you could find yourself alarmed over abdominal bloating however slight or extreme it might be.

Be kind to yourself. Stop inspecting every inch of your body to find things that need fixing. Instead, look for what’s good about your appearance (video from Dove). We are all too hard on ourselves.

So here are those links with some help with that pesky bloating:

Five ways to beat the bloat: health.com
10 ways to beat bloat: Redbook.com (love the puffer fish photo)
Bloating, belching and intestinal gas: How to avoid them: Mayo Clinic

Wow! What a year! 2012 in review

I sorta dropped the ball didn’t I? If you could have wandered with me (I know it’s my fault you didn’t) you would have seen just how difficult it is to set out on a path like going “grain free” and to keep it 100%. For me, it just didn’t happen.

To be fair, I was really hoping to eliminate all grains so I could figure out which ones were the worst for me. Turns out my suspicions were right. I have an allergy or sensitivity to wheat and corn.

This last year I learned so much about my food sensitivities and GMO grains. It’s a journey and it takes loads of dedication and determination.

Particularly, I can’t eat any corn that is from modified organisms and any wheat products that are also modified grain. I have yet to try wheat from the Montana farmer I may or may not have mentioned but that is up next for me. Tomatoes have also shown up on the list of modified organisms that are an issue for me.

Do I need to go on and on about how bad MSG is for us? I can have a couple meals that included wheat with less of a reaction than if I eat something that contains MSG. What a retched thing to put in our foods.

I learned how wonderful asparagus is and what a super food it really is for us.
I also learned how bad gluten-free is as a weight loss program. I know, I wrote an entire article on how it could be a great way to jump start your diet but trust me, if you dip too low in your carbohydrate intake you’ll just gain the weight loss back when you reintroduce grains and gluten back into your diet.

Perhaps one of the biggest lessons I had came with the revelation that going “grain-free” is an emotionally challenging adventure to embark on. 

The truth is, there’s just no easy way to know if you really do need to be gluten-free or even grain-free without the help of tests and doctors…but you have to have money for that so if you are like me and on a restricted budget, I will share the words of advice my doctor gave me:

“If you know that you have a bad reaction when you eat something, do you really need a test to remind you that you should avoid it?”

Such sage advice. Here’s to hoping 2013 brings us all closer to better health and vitality so we can live the dreams we’ve been longing for.

Day 198: Grains are our comfort foods

8dc9e-bigstock-sad-woman-1522942I got lost. Life has been excruciatingly hard and I’m not exaggerating on the excruciating part. I’m not even sure where to begin. So I’ll go back in time and try to recount my steps.

I was doing very well when I let go of all grains with the exception that keeping my energy up was a challenge. The greatest benefit to me was the remarkably lower amount of pain I was experiencing. Actually, I’m not sure I felt much pain compared to what I go through when I have gluten (from wheat) in my diet.

I have been through a lot of research, a lot of soul searching,  a lot of logging reactions to foods and grains and other such things and what it all boils down to for me is this–I’m not someone with Celiacs but I do struggle with gluten intolerance and sensitivity. For me that means painful joints and bloating and sinus issues.

If this is your first visit to my blog, I also can’t eat corn. At least not the modified corn. I bought some organic corn from Costco and wow, was I happy because I got to eat some for the first time in a long time without reactions. But until such time as I know that someone has rid the modified corn from the various forms of corn we can take in, I’m staying away from prepackaged/processed and fast foods as much as is reasonably possible.

The most difficult experience in the last three months has been the loss of someone very dear to me through suicide. It has been by far the most horrific and painful experience of my life; worse than divorce and the loss of parents to cancer. And I discovered how many of my comfort foods are made with wheat and/or corn. So it only stands to reason when I felt like eating that’s what I reached for and in the end all it did was add physical pain to the emotional pain I’d been going through.

Now it’s back to finding my way through the gluten-free process again. I’m not eliminating rice or certified oats anymore. I don’t eat them often anyway but since they don’t seem to have an adverse effect for me, I’ll allow myself that small luxury once in a while.

If you think that going grain-free or gluten-free is easily accomplished, well…you either haven’t tried it or you didn’t make a real effort to do it. I have and it’s still not easily done.

Can I give you a bit of advice? (disclaimer here: I’m not a medical professional or therapist so follow the follow advice at your own risk)

Don’t tell people you are going to do it. Some people will sabotage you every step of the way and argue with you that it’s not nutritionally sound. Some will also examine every label of everything you eat just to challenge you on how well you are actually doing. Some will ask you, (however well-meaning) constantly how it’s going and cause you to put too much emphasis on it and that gets overwhelming and might make you falter.

Remember: This is a very personal choice. You don’t have to explain yourself to anyone.

In other news: I’m also going to be following a new weight loss program as well and hope to incorporate much of what I’ve learned on my own. Here’s the book that I’m reading now:

 

Day 110: Gluten-free and loving it!

Getting to where I want to be!

We all have ups and downs when it comes to our health and nutrition. Many of us are finding our way through the dense terrain of information out there when it comes to understanding Celiac Disease and/or gluten sensitives and allergies.

Now is a really good time to celebrate the diverse foods you can eat even when you eliminate grains from your diet. I’ve been loving the spring asparagus! Give me a 1/4 teaspoon of butter or olive oil or rice vinegar and it sends me right to heaven. It is just so amazing and so good for us.

I also have a confession to make.  I’ve found a new addiction…strawberries and whipped cream. Who knew that crepes or short cake were just interfering with the wonderful taste of a rip strawberry dipped in a bit of cream.

I’ve also been enjoying celery this year with a  bit of cream cheese or chopped up in a light chicken salad. I’m telling you, I’m not missing the grains.

Why not?

Because they taste boring to me now that I’m completely free of them. They dull my taste buds and hide the full flavor of any thing they are combined with. This summer’s goal is to eat as much of my diet as I can in raw and organic veggies and fruits that have a lower glycemic load index.

The greatest gift I have been given in the last three weeks is the lack of fibromyalgia pain. So for all those skeptics that I hung out with for a bit, it’s hasta la vista, Babies…I’m sold. I have my life back and I’m not willing to give it back!

Day 99: Grain-free and maintaining a healthy weight

One of the most astonishing things I’ve encountered during this experiment/journey is the difficulties that surround nutrition and obtaining a healthy balance. You may already know this, but it’s not as easy as you’d think. If you’ve followed along you will have noticed where I dropped off the grid in April.

In the early days of this experiment I blogged about going grain-free as a way to jump-start your weight loss program, but for some reason, that didn’t work for me.  When I saw that I was gaining weight even though I made every effort to change to a healthy eating routine, I began investigating what was happening. I even went back to consuming grains let go of all that for a bit. And then the most unnerving thing happened, I lost weight. The three pounds I had gained were gone with no effort on my part. So what’s the deal, right?

I think I’ve pieced together where I failed to move towards a healthier weight while being grain-free. If you hare having trouble maintaining or losing weight while going grain-free here’s what I have discovered:

  • You may be eating less good carbs.

What do I mean by that? I wasn’t filling my daily carbohydrate needs with healthy veggies. Instead when my blood sugar would drop from a lack of carbohydrates due to the elimination of grains, I’d reach for the nearest thing which was usually chips (which I don’t eat normally but I HAD to have them), protein bars and/or protein shakes, gluten-free crackers and breads (which are extremely high in calories with little to no fiber) and chocolate.

  • You may be eating too fast and too much of the wrong things.

In fact my blood sugar would drop so low at times I’d eat too fast and too much of the wrong things and then starve myself because I felt so guilty. That is classic binging and starving which is notorious for sabotaging anyone’s health routine. This cycle contributes to a feeling of shame and according to this site, binging and starving is an eating disorder. Remember the more you feel shame about it, the more likely you are to continue binging. Get counseling, it does help.

  • You may find that nothing tastes good to you. 

Let’s face it, grains are yummy and our palate is accustomed to them. I wasn’t eating enough of the good things like lean meats, veggies, and berries and other low glycemic fruits and veggies. For me, that meant I was under too much stress and feeling poorly. I wasn’t taking good enough care of myself. The cure was to get on my treadmill and walk. I also started golfing with my dear husband. I spent hours in the yard planting flowers and I worked harder to get a good nights rest. Keeping fully hydrated also helps with your appetite in two ways; it lowers appetite as it clears up the distinction between hunger and thirst and it aids in proper digestion and movement of waste throughout the day.

  •  You may be on a sugar binge without realizing it. 

It’s really important that we understand when we are making healthy changes that there are claims out there that will sabotage our efforts at every turn. I’m specifically referring to substitutions for grains that are so densely high in calories with little to no nutritional value that they are actually bad for us. At least those of us with a weight problem. Keep in mind that high carbs translates to high sugar in your blood stream, which if you remember from a previous post means more weight gain, particularly in the middle region of your body.

There’s a vicious cycle in all of this too that you may have experienced. The higher the carb, the stronger the insulin response which in turn burns off the carbs too quickly and your blood sugar plummets to a new low in which you respond by reaching for more carbs in the form of starchy, fried, (did I mention starchy?), and out right sugar snacks like candy, cookies, cakes and so forth.

Add a bit of stress (it doesn’t take much) to send you reaching for that sugary or starchy snack so that you can feel an increase of those feel good hormones. This is problem for many of us and there are different types of sugar addiction. Visit Dr. Oz  to find out more about what kind of sugar addict you might be.  

  • You may be feeling tired and experience frequent headaches

Both of these can be the triggers for grazing as many refer to what my mother called picking. In recent years it has even been condoned as a healthy way to maintain your blood sugars but it’s also insidious and we can get carried away by grazing to have more energy and to alleviate headaches as we go through the cleanse of removing grains from our bodies.

I think I’ll stop for today. During the course of this experiment I will come back to this topic quite often to discuss the various aspects of each of these points (which are not inclusive of everything I’m going through) and others as they crop up.

Next up: What to do about all these issues surrounding weight gain and going grain-free.