When Gluten Free Hurts

As a mama, I am forever greatful for us finding out what was causing my daughter's stomach aches and pain.  But, going gluten free, does the real pain ever go away?  The pain of not being the same as every one else?  Food is what our society revolves around and when you are limited, it is hard.   Just plain hard.  And for a child, even harder.  We have always made sure that she feels the "same" as others, by always bringing her own goodies to parties, and friend's homes, but what about those times when you don't have your own snacks?   You have to sit there and painfully watch all the other children enjoy a snack and drink that you cannot have.   As an adult, we can take this a little easier, but a child?  It is so hard for them.  This has been a harder holiday than others so far.  I am not sure why.  I think it has a little something to do with the fact that my daughter is getting a little bigger and making her own decisions.  She knows how she feels when she gets "glutened"  so she is very picky about what she has.  Always asking the questions:    Is this product gluten free? 

Was it manufactured on equipment that processes wheat? 

What about in a facility that processes wheat?

 These are the questions she asks when she eats something someone else is offering her.  The hot chocolate is really tempting her this holiday season.  We went to a walk through nativity recently and afterwards they had hot chocolate and cookies.  The cookies don't seem to bother her as much, but we were cold, and she wanted something warm.  The hot chocolate was in big serving containers with no boxes around to show us the ingredients.  So, she passed. 

Then again, last night, at church.  She was with her age friends and they were watching a movie, eating holiday Christmas cakes and drinking hot chocolate.  She said, "Everyone was eating and drinking and I just had to sit there and watch them."  The hot chocolate smelled so good to her and she once again passed, not knowing what brand it was. 

This pains me as a mom.  I understand this is just something she will have to deal with for the rest of her life, and we are teaching her to learn how to cope with this, but I want her to feel included and not so left out among her friends. 

Please don't ignore these feeling from your children.  They are real.  They really hurt with this disease.  It is hard for them.  So when they come to you upset about feeling left out in an eating situation, be sensitive to this.  Don't blow them off.  In the situations above, we came home and had hot chocolate and cookies.  No, it's not the same, but it gives us a chance to have foods that friends were having and talk about it. 

When Gluten Free Just Isn’t Enough

This post is written by Christine, owner of Birmingham Kids and Family Magazine She has her son following the GAPS diet because gluten free was not enough by itself.

This is actually my first post about my son, Bryan. Our 3 year journey with him is filled with so much…blessings, heartbreaks, trials and triumphs, worry and hope…I most often have a hard time processing it all and the thought of having to dredge all this up brings me to tears nearly every time. However, on September 9th, I knew the time had come for me to speak out. While shopping for birthday party items for my eldest son’s party, Bryan literally laid down on the grocery store’s floors, four times, telling me he hurt too much to walk. Determined, as always, to “do it myself,” Bryan insisted on walking and refused to be seated in the cart. “Why is this happening, God?” “I am trying to do everything right!” He did not cry but looked at me with that sense of pleading in his eyes, asking me to make his pain go away. I hit my breaking point.

Just two months prior to this, my husband and I thought we finally found the holy grail for Bryan. After years of neurologists, therapists, and many other doctors’ visits, I decided to have him tested for gluten intolerance. BINGO. Two weeks later, living gluten free, Bryan’s improvement was remarkable. His tremors stopped. His pupils were equal again. His stools were normal for the first time in his life. We were able to start weaning him off of the Prilosec. His color improved and the dark circles under his eyes diminished. His energy levels remained steady. He had a growth spurt!  His low tone did continue and he still had problems with balance, but we were just grateful for the improvements we did see thus far.

What happened between June and September?

In mid July, Bryan developed an ear infection from some pool water. Within one day of oral antibiotics, all of his old symptoms returned and gradually got worse. I thought I made sure his medication was gluten free, so at first I suspected he had an accidental ingestion from contaminated food. As the symptoms worsened, there were only two days left in the antibiotics, so I decided to finish it out. Within one full day of completing the medicine, Bryan improved noticeably. Unfortunately, the improvement never met the same level of health as before. His neurological symptoms were better but not the gastrointestinal symptoms. The reflux returned with a vengeance as well as the smelly, loose diapers (Bryan is not yet potty trained because he is too weak at this point). His newly gained healthy glow was also lost.

I knew that healing from the onslaught of the antibiotic on his gut would take time, so I faithfully led our home into the joys of gluten free eating. I relished the challenge of coming up with the best gluten free bread, and we all enjoyed the variety of gluten free foods I made or purchased. But, Bryan still did not get better.

On September 6th,  I accidentally damaged Bryan’s healing gut even further. In order to give Bryan a gluten free and high protein meal, I cooked him red lentils with brown rice. I did not know I was supposed to soak the lentils overnight and then rinse them before cooking. The lectins in the lentils literally made Bryan so sick, he woke up in the middle of the night with vomitting, diarrhea and complaints of pain. The diarrhea, which was thick with mucus, continued for almost 2 weeks. On September 9th, as described above, Bryan started to have severe pain in his legs and joints. We worked so hard to see him finally walk, and now I felt as if I had destroyed it. The guilt was overwhelming for me but I knew I could not stay in that place. So, what does God often lead me to do when I am in despair over Bryan’s health? I research.

I will write more specifics about Bryan’s health, neurological health and digestive health in future posts. For now, I will summarize for you what this research taught me in the past couple of months. I came across an article about how doctors in the early 20th century CURED Celiac disease in children with something called the Banana Diet.  This discovery then led me to the Specific Carbohydrate Diet and then, it’s modern twist, The GAPS Diet, which Bryan is on right now.

We are living beyond gluten free right now. In fact, we are grain-free, lactose-free, refined sugar-free. As Bryan’s gut heals, there will be a day when we can actually move back up to a gluten free lifestyle. This time, however, I will be more careful with the amount of grains we consume. Starches are hard on digestion, and careful digestive health is paramount for anyone with gluten sensitivity. I never thought I would become so enthusiastic about making my own yogurt, cream cheese, whey, sauerkraut, and ghee butter! I am now passionate about probiotics, enzymes, and homemade soups.

Fortunately, Bryan is doing so much better. He has normal stools and his color is starting to improve. I continue to hope that we will see further improvement in his neurological status and even his immune system. I will keep you updated.

More information will be available on the GAPS diet at our Great Gluten Free Event.  Be sure to like our Facebook page so you can stay up to date on the latest information on the event!

If you have a story you would like to share about your journey gluten free and how it could help others, please contact me.

Gluten Free on a Budget

save money Pictures, Images and Photos

Gluten free eating can really break the bank, if you let it.    It doesn’t have to be really expensive.  I want to share some tips that I have learned over the past years to make living gluten free a little more affordable.

  • Planning is very important.  Plan meals, plan your grocery list.
  • Shop the grocery ads.  Each week grocery stores have a new sale.
  • Use coupons
  • When an item is on sale and you have a coupon that makes for a great price, buy a lot of those items.
How do I do it?

There is a grocery store here locally, Western Supermarket.  Every quarter, they have a truckload sale of their meats.  Here I purchase 3 months worth of chicken, ground beef, bacon, pork, steaks, lunch meat, etc..  I spend about $150 which makes for about $50 a month on meats.

Each week I watch Aldi for their great produce deals.   This is where I will buy my milk, eggs and produce.

Every Monday the new ad comes out for Publix and this is where I buy the rest of my groceries.

**Publix will take competitor’s coupons, they will double manufacturer’s coupons, and they will stack a store coupon with a manufacturer’s coupon.  They have weekly buy one, get one free sales.  A lot of their products are gluten free items.  The BOGO sale, a manufacturer’s coupon stacked with a store coupon can make for very inexpensive or free items a lot of the time.   This is when I stock up on items.

Then, from the items I have in my cabinet, I make my weekly meal plan.  Someone once told me that if you make your meal plan and then go buy it at the grocery store, that is the most expensive way to shop.  So, I do it backwards.  I stock up on items that are on sale, then I  make my meals around those items.  Yes, sometimes I may have to run to the store for a quick cilantro, or something else I may need for my recipe, but for the most part I can make a meal from my stockpile.

Amazon has some great deals.  Any purchase over $25 is FREE shipping.  When you are buying 2 cases of something gluten free, it quite easily can get to $25.

I love Vitacost as well.  They are a flat $4.99 shipping fee no matter how much you purchase and often will run a Free shipping offer.   Their prices on certain items are normally much better than what I can get at the store with coupons.  Especially on pasta and gluten free flours.

Whole Foods has an excellent program.  If you have never tried an item before, they will let you try it for FREE!  Their hopes are that you will like it and continue to purchase from them.  I once got a box of pizza crusts by Kinninnick for free.  It was a $8.99 value.  Since then I have purchased those crusts from them at least 10 times!

Try to find a good flour mix that you like best and make it yourself.  I have a flour mix that I like and can substitute it in most recipes.  Buying the pre made all purpose flours is more expensive.  I just make a large batch and store it in an airtight container in my cabinet.

Make recipes from scratch.  It does take a good more bit of work, but it also is less expensive to make your own brownies rather than buy a mix.   There are some great cookbooks out there.  Here are a few.

You can also contact gluten free companies and ask them to send you a coupon to try products.  So many more gluten free companies are putting out coupons for their products.   They might even send you some samples to try.  If their product is good, they have a customer for life.  It would be worth it for them to send you samples to try.

I hope this helps some.  This has taken some time for me to get the hang of, but I have gotten pretty good at it.  If you need some help or advice please feel free to contact me.  I would love to help.

Is Couponing Worth it When You are GF?

Is it worth it to coupon when you eat gluten free?

I get this question often when talking about couponing.  The answer is YES, YES, YES!

There are more and more “main stream” items these days that are gluten free and there are coupons readily available for these products.  Some examples:

Betty Crocker (cakes, potatoes, fruit snacks)

Chex cereal

Green Giant

Hamburger Helper

Yoplait

Progresso

Dole

Heinz

Hormel

Hellmans

Wish Bone

These are just to name a small few!  There are so many companies out there that are making gluten free products that coupons are made for.

Also, so thankful for all the gluten free companies who are making coupons available for their products as well:

Udi’s

Ian’s

Mi-Del

Arrowhead Mills

DeBoles

Dream Products

Imagine Soups

Again, these are just to name a few!   Couponing, even if you save only $5 a grocery trip, in the long run, it all adds up.  I think you would be pleasantly surprised that you can save a lot of money by couponing.

There is a small method to this madness!   It is important to find a grocery store that doubles coupons.  In Birmingham, Publix, Bruno’s, Food World, and Piggly Wiggly all will double coupons up to and including $.50.

This is my routine, or gameplan, if you wish…. Once a quarter, like this past weekend, and sadly, I missed it, Western has a truckload sale on their meat and I stock up for 3 months worth of chicken, hamburger, pork, sausage, etc…buying most of the meat we will need over a 3 month period.  (This took several quarters to get it right how much meat we would use in this time).

I buy a lot of my fresh fruits and vegetables at Aldi.  Sometimes milk and eggs here as well.

Then I do the rest of my shopping at Publix.  I shop their sale ads weekly and purchase the items on sale for the week that I have coupons for and I stock up!!

For example, I haven’t posted what is on sale this week at Publix yet, but Dole canned pineapple is on sale BOGO $1.59 meaning these are approx.  $.80 each.  (You can buy 1 item at Publix that is bogo and pay 1/2 price for the item.)  I have a $1/2 coupon for these.  So, I will pay $.59 for 2  20 ounce cans of Dole pineapple or roughly $.30 each.  Pretty good deal, huh?  So, I have 4 coupons, I will buy 8 cans of pineapple for $2.40.

To get started, just start buying a Sunday paper.  (They sell them for $1 at Dollar Tree)  On the weeks that there are really good coupons for items I want to stock up on, I will buy multiple papers.   It shouldn’t take too long to get it together when you first get started.   I spend anywhere from 1-3 hours a week on coupons and deal searching for groceries.  It is very worth it when I can save way more than I spend when I shop at Publix!!  It can be fun!  But know that it is definately worth it to shop even when you are gluten free!

The Gluten Effect on Athletes

There is a free webinar available for viewing from Gluten Free Fitness!

It is about the Gluten Effect on Athletes.  I plan to watch it later, let me know what you think!

Atlanta Gluten Free Vendor Fair

I so wish I was able to go to this!  We have prior plans, otherwise we would be there!  I would love for my daughter to be able to go to an event where all the food is GLUTEN FREE!  No worries!  How fun for her.  This is a vendor fair for gluten free folks.  They will have products to try, and seminars to hear and you can also purchase products at discounted prices.  There are over 70 vendors who will be participating.

Anyways, if you are available tomorrow it is from 9-3 in Atlanta and HERE are all the details!

If you go, let us know how it was!

Why are So Many People Going Gluten Free?

Gluten Free…the Way to Be?

I just came across this article that talks about the “new” way of eating.  So many people are doing it.  The Hollywood Stars are bringing much attention to this lifestyle.  It is also nice that companies are putting the gluten free labels on their products as well, raising awareness.  I think it is important to know that if you are going on a gluten free diet that you are followed by a nutritionist or someone who can help you with your diet to be sure you are getting the proper nutrients.  I like how in this article they talk about how many of the gluten free items are higher in sugar and calories.  Many people think of it as a “diet” a way to loose weight.  What do you think?

Here is the article for you to read.  Would love to hear your feedback!

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