Winners of Giveaways!

Thank  you so much to all who entered these fun giveaways!  All winners have been notified via email and have 24 hours to respond or another winner will be chosen.  Congrats to those who won!  These were all great giveaways!  Also thanks to the fabulous companies who offered these prizes:  Rudi's gluten free, Kellogg's, and Earth Fare!

It’s Story Time! Laura’s Amazing GF Story!

My body was trying to tell me something, but I wasn’t paying attention. Maybe if I had listened, my body wouldn’t have needed to get out the megaphone and shout so loudly.

A silent bird for a serious morning.

One morning I woke, not to sunshine and birdsong, but to a burning back pain that shot down my arms and up my neck. No physical injury, it just appeared out of the blue.

I was diagnosed with arthritis and muscle tension the year before, but this was by far the worst I’d experienced. Ever. Not a single pain killer could touch it. Natural childbirth was nothing in comparison. I didn’t realize it at the time, but this was not the random event it seemed to be, rather it was the culmination of years of increasing symptoms that I had simply ignored.

Goodbye Gluten! Goodbye Pain!

I turned to a pain clinic for relief. Unfortunately there was a 5-week wait until the next available appointment. In retrospect, if I had my mind about me I would have gone directly to the emergency room and begged for an epidural.

I had to do something. I couldn’t just sit and suffer for 5 weeks, so I stopped eating wheat because I heard somewhere that wheat was inflammatory. I had never even heard of the word “celiac”.

The most immediate and noticeable effect of removing wheat from my diet was an end to my migraines. I went from 10-20 headache days a month, many of them excruciating, down to 1 or 2 very mild headaches a month. This observation was confirmed a month later when I indulged in a bread basket and was rewarded with a killer migraine, plus bloating and fatigue. It took at least a week to recover from that episode. Thank you very much, garlic naan. I’m done with gluten. Forever.

So long, latte.

By the time I had my appointment the pain had eased up enough so that standing was fairly comfortable. Both sitting and lying down were still torturous.

The pain doctor recommended giving up coffee in addition to gluten to lessen the inflammation some more, and sent me to a physical therapist. The back pain was so bad that by comparison the caffeine withdrawal headaches didn’t bother me at all.

The physical therapist said pain like that usually resolves on its own within 72 hours. He hadn’t ever seen a case that dragged on for over a month like mine. Even so, with exercises and massage we were able to bring the back and neck pain under control in a few weeks.

Encouraged, I asked my physical therapist to help me with the tingling and numbness in my fingers and we took care of that problem as well. The tingling and numbness, blamed on repetitive stress injury, had been chronic with occasional bad flare-ups for probably 5 years, and I had just learned to live with it as a normal, everyday part of life.

With the exercises, massage, and diet changes, life started to improve. Random joint pains stopped. Occasional pain in my feet when I walked, reminiscent of my previous case of pregnancy-induced osteoporosis, also disappeared.

Migraines gone. Back and other pain gone. Numbness gone. All through natural, drug-free means. Fantastic improvement and relief in just a few short months. But little did I realize the roller coaster ride that was still ahead of me.

Ups and Downs

I was floored by the fatigue and depression that my triple latte habit had masked for at least 3 years. I often spent at least half the day, or more when I could, lying on the couch. I watched a lot of Food Network. Couldn’t muster up the energy to cook much of anything or even the appetite to eat, but I watched a lot of other people cook a lot of food I couldn’t eat even if I had the energy or desire to cook. I lost interest in everything I loved to do. I neglected my family and friends.

Eventually I fell into a pattern of a week or two of improvement followed by a week or two of decline. I never knew from day to day what symptoms I would have, how severe they would be, or whether I would be good for anything at all. So next I visited a holistic DO to find out if there were other food sensitivities that were causing these problems.

We discovered more symptoms I had gotten used to. Me: “You mean bloating, near-constant nausea, and chronic diarrhea isn’t normal? Or being light-headed and dizzy half the time? And perpetual sleep deprivation? Brain fog so thick that it’s hard to string 10 words together to form a sentence without stopping to search my brain for the word I want, just like when you first start to study a foreign language? Only I’m speaking English, my own native language.”

A Natural Prescription for Health

We added supplements to my diet to address a host of deficiencies and imbalances, and started an elimination diet, removing common allergens such as dairy, eggs, peanuts, even refined sugar and vegetable oils. Some improvement, followed by the usual decline.

Other problematic foods appeared and we dutifully removed them. First corn, followed by soy and oats. Even certified gluten-free oats were almost as bad as gluten itself. Then millet, quinoa, and teff. There may have been some other grains, I eventually lost track.

We also worked on reducing and managing my ever-increasing stress. I saw a neuropsychiatrist to learn bio-feedback, stress management, and meditation. I have to admit, I was initially skeptical of this approach, but it really did help. First by dealing with the stress of yo-yo symptoms and second by my learning to listen to my body and notice issues while they are still small, before they have a chance to morph into major problems.

One Step Forward, Two Steps Back

My gluten-free almond raspberry coffee cake, one of many delicious recipes that I had to quit working on because the ingredients started making me sick.

A pattern started to emerge: when I got sick, a grain or grain-like substance was the usual culprit. I would remove the offending food, start to feel better and replace it with a different grain, which I then ate a lot of, due to a new obsession of recipe development and testing, as well as carb-induced cravings. That replacement grain soon became the new offending food, and the cycle started all over again.

A serving or two of a non-gluten grain brought back most of my symptoms, making it easy to identify troublesome foods. Luckily not the migraines though.

Most worrisome was the sudden fatigue that would come on after eating something I was sensitive to. Kind of like eating till you pass out, except without the gluttony. I was afraid to eat anything if I had to get in a car and drive afterwards, because it was impossible to keep my eyes open. I took a lot of naps. In retrospect, it was probably way too early to be eating grains of any kind. I should have waited until my digestive system was completely healed.

More Unexpected Benefits

My seasonal allergies disappeared. All the grasses and weeds were still outside in full force, they just didn’t bother me anymore.

My dentist had worried over my tooth enamel for the past 2 years, so much so that I was certain all my teeth were ready to fall out of my mouth at any moment. I even had a special prescription toothpaste. Happily, at my last dental appointment, my dentist said my enamel was perfectly fine.

Challenging Prescriptions to Follow

In spite of great improvement, adrenal fatigue and other random problems were still persisting. My DO suggested eating meat and adding back other animal products such as eggs and dairy. I made a half-hearted attempt, preferring my mostly-vegan lifestyle. I added an extra serving of fish a week and reintroduced butter and eggs to my baking. (By the way, butter makes a world of difference in gluten-free scones.) Naturally, I got only half-hearted health improvement for these efforts.

Digestive issues, pain, and problems with carbs increased. If I wanted to eat breakfast, I had to plan extra time to let the nausea pass before I could proceed with the day’s activities. It got to the point that a couple bites of rice would leave me instantly curled up in a ball on the floor with severe cramps and nausea. Rice was the shocker. It’s supposed to be so gentle and allergy-free, baby’s first food.

At some earlier point in this adventure, I predicted (or maybe wished for) a complete recovery by March 2012, roughly one year after the back pain incident. I started training for the LA Marathon, which was to be an anniversary celebration of sorts. My DO warned me against such a plan, said I should wait until my gut was healed, but that was advice I didn’t want to hear. I promised to take it easy, but didn’t and things got out of control within a couple months. Increasing difficulty with post-exercise recovery forced me to quit running.

Back to a Traditional Medical Model

About the time I was having increasing difficulties with rice and exercise, I switched health insurance, and lost all coverage for holistic medicine. I was back to the world of waiting.

Waiting to see an allergy doctor, who was very sympathetic, but couldn’t do anything for me since I was dealing with food sensitivities, not true allergies.

Waiting to see my primary care doctor, who gave me a prescription for Prilosec. I took Prilosec for about a week or so before I decided it was pointless and quit.

Waiting to see a GI doctor, who gave me a colonoscopy and a lifelong prescription for IBS drugs. That helped reduce the nausea and cramping, but I was concerned about taking 8 pills a day for the rest of my life. If you do the math, that comes out to 2,920 pills a year!

Fitting the Final Pieces of the Puzzle

Only healthy whole foods for me!

Left to my own devices, all I had was a dwindling food supply and the unheeded advice about meat from my DO. So I adopted a paleo-style diet: grass-fed organic meat, wild fish, non-starchy veggies, fruit, nuts, eggs, healthy oils, and occasionally a bit of dairy. No grains, legumes, starchy vegetables, refined sugar, or processed foods.

Improvements were rapid. WIthin three weeks I was back to normal. A real normal. Healthy like I hadn’t felt in years. Full of energy. The way I am supposed to feel. I was so giddy with excitement that I was bouncing off the walls, unable to settle down and focus on serious business for weeks.

Even the digestive problems resolved. Nausea, cramps, bloating, diarrhea, and bleeding gone.

My immune system relaxed enough to finally let a virus in. My immune system had been so pumped up for so long, I hadn’t had a cold or flu for at least 4 years. And all that time I was so proud of whatever it was I was doing that kept me so “healthy” I never got a cold. I never suspected my immune system was out of whack, attacking not only germs, but the food I ate, and my body itself.

Then and Now

At the end of April 2012 I stopped taking my IBS drugs, and the digestive problems have not returned. I am still hyper vigilant about my diet, preferring to eat only supportive foods that make me feel great. I still avoid carbs like the plague. I can’t think of a single forbidden food that tempts me even a little bit. The cravings are completely gone. Healthy is far more appetizing.

Doing a gluten challenge is definitely unappealing. I think I’ll pass. It took me over a year of concerted effort to regain my health. I just want to enjoy it. There’s a definite difference between my previous “improvements” and the way I feel now. I can’t put it into words, but I know it’s for real this time.

Other people notice the difference too. I must have looked like hell, because the first thing out of their mouth when they saw me before was: “Are you OK?” Now they say they can tell I’m doing much better.

Before this all began, I used to think that I ate a healthy diet. And it was a healthy diet: lots of fresh fruits and veggies, whole grains, low in refined sugar and processed foods, mostly vegan. It’s just not healthy for me.

When I wake up in the morning, full of energy and free from aches and pains, I am still wide-eyed with amazement. I love every single day. I’ve taken up running again. Gradual and careful this time. No problems with recovery. Maybe a marathon is in my future, maybe a half, but if not, I’ll still be happy to just run a few miles in the sunshine.

My stress is gone. I’m able to laugh and smile again. I can make plans for the future, and not worry that I’ll be too sick to carry them out.

Helping Each Other

I never realized how widespread food intolerance really is. At first I felt so alone. So many people, when they hear what I’ve been through, confide to me that they or some of their loved ones are struggling with food sensitivities too.

Now I know it’s all too common and I’m not alone. I share my problems and tips that have helped me with others, and they share with me. I hope my experiences and the recipes I create will benefit others who are facing food intolerance problems.

If you have a food intolerance story of your own, please share. This is a confusing issue to deal with, especially in the beginning. You never know who your experiences may be able to help.

Thanks so much to Laura who blogs over at Grain Free Fabulous!  What an amazing testimony! 

Rudi’s Gluten Free Spread the Bread Campaign and Giveaway!

As I shared with you earlier this month, Rudi's Gluten Free Bakery is Celebrating Celiac Awareness Month with their "Spread the Bread" campaign. 

What is this you ask?  Well…fans of Rudi’s Gluten-Free on Facebook will can select one of four celiac organizations (Celiac Disease Foundation, Celiac Sprue Association, Gluten Intolerance Group and National Foundation for Celiac Awareness) to receive a $1 donation from Rudi’s Gluten-Free Bakery.   This campaign runs through May 31st, so don't delay!  Their goal is $30,000!

As an added bonus, you can print a $1.00/1 coupon for any Rudi's gluten free product

It is a win-win situation.  This doesn't cost you anything!  You are helping to support some great organizations and getting a great coupon!


While on the topic of Rudi's, have you tried their new gluten free flour tortillas?  Oh my, only a touch of heaven!  Love them!  They were nice to send me a pack of all 3 flavors, plain, spinach, and fiesta!  They are so fresh.  They bend easily, no crusty edges.  We have enjoyed some amazing wraps lately with these.  One of our favorites is this quesadilla.  Simple and easy, yet so tastefully delicious!

We also made a yummy, simple spinach wrap with turkey, pepperjack cheese, tomatoes, mayo and mustard.  Something about the green that my daughter will not go near, but I thought it tasted great.  It doesn't have a spinach taste to it.  Her favorite is definately the plain.  I preferred the fiesta and spinach.  The amazing thing to me about these wraps is each one has 5 grams of fiber!

  Hat's off to Rudi's for making another AMAZING gluten free product!


Now onto the GIVEAWAY!

Rudi's has offered to give one of my readers a nice prize pack like this:

  • Rudi's apron
  • Gluten Free on a Shoestring Cookbook by Nicole Hunn (my review here)
  • Free Rudi's gluten free product coupons
  • A reusable shopping bag
  • T-shirt
  • Bread clips

 

 

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Disclaimer: Rudi's sent me a 3 pack of their tortillas in order to write a review.  As always, thoughts and opinions are all my own. 

Kellogg’s Gluten Free Breakfast Giveaway!

Kellogg’s® Rice Krispies® Gluten Free Cereal Partners with Dietitian for Great Gluten-Free Breakfast and Snack Time Solutions giveaway following.

  • Kellogg’s Rice Krispies® teams up with dietitian Tricia Thompson to debunk gluten-free myths and help moms with meal options.
  • At breakfast and snack time, families with gluten-free diets can now enjoy Kellogg’s Rice Krispies Gluten Free cereal.

BATTLE CREEK, Mich., May 14, 2012 –Today, while “gluten-free” has become a household term, there are still countless myths that make it tricky for moms and their families to navigate a gluten-free lifestyle. This May, National Celiac Awareness month, Kellogg’s® Rice Krispies® Gluten Free cereal asked dietitian Tricia Thompson, M.S., R.D., to bust these myths to help moms make gluten-free meal choices easier. 

Three Popular Gluten-Free Myths

With much uncertainty surrounding the gluten topic, Thompson’s myth-busting tips help moms feel assured that they’re making good choices for their kids:

  • Myth One: You always have to pay more for gluten-free products.

Gluten-free doesn’t have to mean more expensive or a trip to a specialty store. For example, a box of Kellogg's Rice Krispies Gluten Free cereal costs the same amount as Kellogg's Rice Krispies and is sold alongside the original blue box.

  • Myth Two: All gluten-free snacks for kids require extra attention from mom and dad.

Not all snacks require a lot of time and preparation. With many favorite products now available in gluten-free varieties, it’s easy to whip up a quick gluten-free snack that the whole family will love, like Rice Krispies Gluten-Free Treats™.

This is one of my favorites to take to social events for my kids.  They don't look or taste any different  than "regular" Rice Krispies.  This doesn't make my child feel weird or different.  She can eat the same as everyone else!

  • Myth Three: Food that’s labeled “gluten-free” is healthy.

Not all gluten-free products qualify as healthy. When grocery shopping, look for gluten-free cereals, breads, and pastas that are made with gluten-free whole grains or have been fortified or enriched as they are good sources of iron and B vitamins, which may be lacking in gluten-free diets.

“There are ways to eat a gluten-free diet without sacrificing several nutrients, including fiber, iron, folate and niacin,” said Thompson. “For example, a breakfast that includes a whole grain- or vitamin and mineral-fortified cereal, like Kellogg’s Rice Krispies Gluten Free, served with sliced bananas and milk is a quick, healthy and delicious way for kids to start the day.”

Kellogg’s Rice Krispies Gluten Free Cereal

Moms on the hunt for tasty choices for their kid’s gluten-free diet don’t have to look further than the cereal aisle, where they can find Kellogg’s Rice Krispies Gluten Free cereal. The gluten-free ingredients give family members with celiac disease the chance to enjoy one of their favorite cereals and snacks. It’s also:

  • Made with whole-grain brown rice, eliminating barley malt (the source of gluten in the original cereal)
  • Made with three simple ingredients
  • Fortified with 10 essential vitamins and minerals

Learn more about Kellogg’s Rice Krispies Gluten Free cereal and find family-friendly gluten-free recipes at www.ricekrispies.com. Stay in touch on Facebook at www.facebook.com/ricekrispies.

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Disclaimer:

“Kellogg Company® has provided me with a Kellogg’s Gluten-Free Breakfast Kit to conduct a reader giveaway. However, my opinions on the product are entirely my own and I have not been paid to publish positive sentiments towards Kellogg Company® or their products.”

 

It’s Story Time Day #15 Bryan’s Story

This story was written last fall.  It was written at the time to share with you about sometimes you have to go a step further than the gluten free diet to get your healing.  This time I am posting it to share with you Bryan's gluten free  story.  Today is a special, and very important day for Bryan.  He is starting chemotherapy as he is preparing for a bone marrow transplant to treat PNP, or "bubble boy disease."  Please join with me in praying for this special little boy.  His mom and I got to know each other really well while planning the Gluten Free Expo in Birmingham.  This family is amazing.  He had his central line placed yesterday and starts chemo today.  This is a long, scary, unknown road for this family.  Please lift them all up in the next coming weeks. 

I wanted to also share with you a link where you can bless this family financially.  There medical bills are expected to reach over $100,000.  You can follow Bryan's journey here as well as donate. 

There will be a Baron's Baseball Game  on Tuesday, May 29, 2012 at 7:00pm. at Regions Park in Birmingham, where proceeds will go toward Bryan's medical expenses.  You can get 5 tickets for $25.00.  You must purchase them in advance and can do so by contacting me.  I will send you the contact information in a private email. 

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.

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.

 

This story was written by Christine, owner of Birmingham Kids and Family Magazine

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

It’s Story Time Day # 14 Sahirah’s Story

Hi everyone, My story starts 8 years ago after I had my third miscarriage. I started having severe abdominal pain not often, maybe once every couple of months, I just figured maybe they were cramps.  Fast forward 2 years later and one healthy baby was born.  I started having the pains more frequently to the point where I couldn't get out of bed.  I also had feelings of dizziness multiple times a day.  So I went to the Dr. and was told I had a dropped uterus but they didn't know why that was causing the pain so I wanted a second opinion. 

The next Dr. told me I had cyst on my uterus and maybe I needed a partial hysterectomy. I said, "no way, I'm only 27!"  So finally a third Dr. said I had IBS, after that I was so tired of Dr. opinions so I just forgot about it for a year.  I found out I was pregnant and the pains were so hard to deal with while pregnant.  My OBGYN said that after I delivered she would go in take a look at my intestines and see what was going on.  When I delivered my daughter via c-section I hard a terrible time healing from the pain of my  incision and the severe abdominal pain from my supposedly IBS and dizzy spells.

When my daughter was about a month old I noticed she was having bloody stools and abdominal pain and severe exzema.  I took her to the doctor and they did some tests and I was shocked at what came back.   She was allergic to wheat, dairy, fish, tree nuts, peanuts, corn, potatoes and soy.  Since I was breastfeeding her I needed to cut all that out from my diet.  The nuts and fish weren't a big deal as I am already severely allergic to those two foods, but wheat, dairy, corn and potatoes?  I love those four foods.    I did what I had to do do for my little lady, but when the doctor told me I should avoid gluten also that if she's allergic wheat she probaly intolerant to gluten and that's what's probably causing the bloody stools.  I said to the Dr.  "What the heck is gluten?"  and when she explained it to me and gave me the list of foods to avoid.   I wanted to cry because I love to cook and bake.  So for a year I ate a very basic diet of fruits, veggies, lamb and beans.  After about a month,  I noticed all my pain, dizziness, and tiredness was gone just like that!

Sometime during that year I took little lady to the allergist and found out she was also allergic to chicken and turkey.  So after my symptoms went away, I started doing a intense research on gluten and figured that's what the culprit was.  I was sad but at the same time so exited to finally know what was wrong with me. 

I started by clearing out all my cabinets and kitchen appliances and cleaning them with hot soapy water.   I threw out all my gluten filled flours and started replacing all my gluten recipes with gluten free ones.   There were many, many, many fails, so much so that I gave up for a while and even cried about it because I thought gluten free baked items taste awful.   I thought I would never be able to make cookies or cupcakes for my little lady. 

I finally decided to get tested for celiac to see if I really needed to be gluten free.   After being off gluten for over a year, my doctor told me to eat gluten for a full day and then go take the test.  It came back negative.   I was very upset because I was so sick just from eating gluten for a day so I felt like I needed that positive test to really no there was actually something wrong with me. 

The following week I went to the gluten free expo in my city and talked to a scientist that works on a panel that studies Celiac Disease and she actually has Celiac Disease herself.  She told me I had to eat gluten for six weeks to be able to get an accurate test, and I decided no way was I eating gluten that long and I never want to go back to being that sick again.  So  I decided just to live a gluten free life without actually knowing if I have Celiac Disease. 

I continued playing with recipes and baking.   I stopped buying the boxed gluten free mixes because I didn't like any of them.   I went out and bought many different gluten free flours and start experimenting with recipes.  Fast forward 2 years later (present) and I'm about to lauch my own gluten free blog and gluten free baked goods business because everyone who tries my recipes say they can't tell that my treats are gluten free.

It’s Story Time Day #13 Pam’s Story

I have Celiac Disease.  However, it took 15 years of "tummy problems" to get that diagnosis. 

It all started for me in High School.  Some time during my sophomore year I started having issues with my stomach (diarrhea).  After some tests a Dr. told me I had Irritable Bowel Syndrome or IBS.  So he gave me some meds and sent me on my way.  I still had issues but it wasn't as bad.  Then the depression showed up.  More Dr. visits and more meds. 

When my husband and I decided to start our family I went to the Dr. to get checked out to make sure everything was ok since I had a history of crazy cycles.  After more tests I found out I had PCOS or Polycystic Ovary Syndrome.   So more meds and luckily after two months we were pregnant. 

So at this point I thought I had IBS, Depression, and infertility issues. 

In November of 2010 during a visit with my Gastroenterologist I told him to test me for everything he could think of.  I was tired of frequenting the bathroom and wanted some real answers.  A blood test for Celiac Disease came back with a rating of "moderate to strong".  To get a complete diagnosis I had to have an upper endoscopy test so they could biopsy my small intestines.   This biopsy was done right before Christmas.  January 4, 2011 my life changed with an email from the Dr. saying I was confirmed to have Celiac Disease. 

Finally I had the answer to all my health issues.  Celiac Disease causes diarrhea, depression and infertility.  The cure or management of the disease is a Gluten Free diet.  A simple solution but a difficult and major life change.  Thus began my journey.

When I went Gluten Free I felt a big difference within 2 weeks.  Living Gluten Free isn’t easy but when you feel so much better it is worth it.  Since going Gluten Free I have greater energy, I don’t run to the bathroom after meals, I lost over 15 pounds, got pregnant with twins and had a successful Gluten Free pregnancy with twins. 

Is life easy Gluten Free, not everyday but the decision to not eat Gluten is getting easier.

You can follow Pam's journey over at  www.imaceliac.com.

It’s Story Time Day #12 GF Dougie’s Story

Good day to you. I’m going to take you on a personal journey of the how and why a kid blatantly cheats with gluten while having been diagnosed with celiac disease.  I hope this personal journey will help you understand what you can do to help support and educate a celiac kid live gluten-free; and likewise, a celiac kid to gain the mental tools of fortitude and strength to obtain the courage to lead a gluten-free lifestyle.

 At the time of this writing, I’m in my 40’s. Where has the time gone?  It seems just yesterday I was a kid in Elementary and Middle School! A kid that was diagnosed with celiac disease at just under the age of six – quite a remarkable short time-frame for United States’ celiac disease diagnosis  average
 
It is yesterday and I remember the slamming of the locker doors, the blackboard and the chalk, and the lunch room smells.  Oh the lunch room smells – a mixture of putrid yet palatable flavors hanging in the air.  Being a celiac kid, I of course brought my lunch from home. The usual fare is peanut butter and crackers, an apple, and Kool-Aid.  Oh there were other variations of lunch from home, but this one stands out as I usually started gagging the second cracker “sandwich” down as the crackers were so dry.  I remember being tired of living as a kid with celiac, being different, and being made fun of for the strange lunches I brought to school.  How do I fit in better with the other kids? Cheat and eat wheat!  I’m no longer different as I eat “mystery meat,” cheese pizza, chicken-fried steak, yellow cake, and peanut butter cookies. Even though I ate breakfast at home, breakfast at school is better!  Honey Grahams brand cereal is a favorite of mine.  Because I’m eating like them, I’m included with the other kids now. I’m accepted.

 I remember cheating with gluten in spurts throughout my young life.  Why? One major factor was social acceptance.  Social acceptance and peer pressure among kids are a strong force to reckon with. Differences are not tolerated and are made fun of.  Conformity with other kids is the on-ramp to the highway of acceptance. Another major factor was convenience.  Convenience and gluten-free mealtime do not equate.  It’s just a fact of reality.  Special foods can’t be picked up just anywhere, enduring the pre-assembly of food combinations so dry items don’t get soggy, and eating everything homemade instead of from the vending machine like everyone else. A third major factor is the quality of the gluten-free food. To say the least – crumbly and grainy texture, bland flavor, and sub-par food product structure are nice words and phrases to describe gluten-free food at the time.  Why go through all this mental upheaval and hassle when a normal meal is waiting for me at the school lunchroom counter? 

As a celiac kid in K-12 public schools, I was not as educated as thoroughly as I should’ve been in regard to what celiac disease actually is.  As a kid, I just thought gluten got trapped in your small intestine and other nutrients didn’t get absorbed as a result of the gluten being trapped in the small intestine; yet if I ate salads and other fiber and roughage, the gluten would get “scraped off”my small intestinal walls.  While the former part of the last sentence is true, the latter is definitely not!  This thought process, however, gave me license to continue my cheating ways with gluten throughout my childhood.

A celiac kid has a lot of hurdles to overcome to successfully eat gluten-free.  Of course there are the physical environment and the education hurdles of celiac disease.  Just as a celiac adult has to watch out for gluten cross-contamination and ingredients, celiac kids also have these same hurdles.  Other hurdles are the psychological and the emotional ones for celiac kids. Taking on the grown-up responsibility of managing a gluten-free diet as a celiac kid is a very tall order.  A very strong sense of discipline, high self-esteem, and education of what celiac disease is needs to be instilled in the psychological and emotional make up of a celiac kid.  In my opinion, I don’t believe I received these mental tools early enough in my childhood. That said it’s never too late to learn these tools and apply them in relation to a gluten-free diet no matter what the age of the celiac person.

As a postscript, I would like to state for the record I do not advocate cheating on a gluten-free diet if you have been diagnosed with celiac disease at any age. In my experience, I was lucky (or unlucky) not to have experienced some of the debilitating symptoms one can have in regard to celiac disease.  Sure, I had constipation, diarrhea, and other symptoms, but at that time in my life those celiac disease symptoms didn’t seem serious enough to permanently stop me from ingesting gluten. My most apparent symptom in regard to celiac disease at that time was Dermatitis Herpetiformis (DH).  Even that celiac disease symptom wasn’t enough of a deterrent for me to stop ingesting gluten at the time.  That said today I’m a healthy, gluten-free celiac disease survivor.  I’m thankful for each day I survive gluten-free. My mantra – Gluten-free one day at a time!  I'm learning.

 Research, educate, and advocate all celiac and gluten-free – and Celiac Disease Awareness for May.
 

 

Picture About GFDougie 

Diagnosed with celiac under the age of six years old, Dougie has had a lifetime of learning to live gluten-free. He spent many years on the fringes of gluten-free compliance. Now in his 40’s, Dougie has learned a lot in regard to symptoms, hidden ingredients, and what “not to do” in regard to living with celiac and being gluten-free. He is a regular as GFDougie in the gluten-free Twitter-verse, offering tips, advice, support and encouragement. His blog, Gluten Free Tip also offers successful hints, recipes, and products in regard to celiac disease. Read is full bio here.

Organic Harvest Customer Appreciation May 12th

Organic Harvest wants to say thank you to all of their customer's with a day of celebration!  It all starts at 11:00 am  Gluten free options available!  Sounds fun!

  • Catered organic cookout on front lawn under our big tent $2 

  • Gluten free available

  • Huge health fair with local vendors and free samples 

  • Free entertainment by a local Jazz trio 

  • Super fun inflatables and games for the kids

  • Shuttle parking in lot behind Krystal next door 

 
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