Sunday, January 31, 2010

Corn Is Evil

Corn gathering / Manifestación de maizImage by . SantiMB . via Flickr
We stopped trying to eat gluten in our house 10 months ago. We made many mistakes since the gluten-loving food industry sneaks gluten into products you would never expect to find gluten in, such as soy sauce. Just last night I ate a delicious gluten-free meal at P.F. Chang's and they brought me out some gluten-free soy sauce and it tasted so much better than the "normal" gluten-rich soy sauce. Why oh why would someone even think to add gluten to soy sauce?
After I started gaining a small measure of my energy back sans gluten, my husband and I decided to remove all caseins (the protein source in dairy) from our diets. I have learned the hard way that if you have an issue with gluten, you are very likely to have an issue with caseins as well. We did. Good-bye dairy.

We both slowly started feeling healthier than we had in years but still we both felt bloaty and still tired, especially in the afternoons. I happened to gain a significant and life-changing chunk of wisdom from an Austin pharmacist whom I called when I became concerned that my adrenal medicine might have dairy in it.

The pharmacist listened to my concerns and then asked me about corn. Was I still eating corn, he asked? I wasn't just eating corn, I was shoving in it as fast as I got my hands on it since it was serving as the one source I used to replace bread. I was eating corn tortillas like they were going out of production the very next minute.

The kindly pharmacist told me that corn is mostly genetically modified these days and most people have trouble digesting it. He recommended that I stop ingesting corn immediately. We did, and that meant another clearing out of the pantry. My God, what doesn't have corn starch in it????

We removed all the corn and corn-like products from our house and from our menus.

And then something miraculous started happening. It happened to my husband first. He was downright jolly in the afternoons, when we would normally be sagging and tired. He was singing and dancing in the kitchen and he started going on long walks again with our dogs. I noticed his increase in energy and I was very happy for him, but I wasn't there yet.

Weeks went by before I sat up one day and realized that I am never tired in the afternoons anymore. I even started singing and dancing and while fun, I am tone deaf so my apologies to anyone who has to listen to me sing. Next thing I knew, I was working out with a DVD I months ago with a trainer deemed "the toughest trainer in America." I haven't had the physical strength to work out for a decade.

Your energy level fades away slowly and you don't really notice it leaving, especially if you do what I did, and that is to prop yourself up with caffeine and sugar in the afternoons. Just as my energy level sagged over the past 10 years, it is now slowly creeping back in. I would do anything to feel vibrantly healthy again and to reclaim my long ago status as that of an athlete. Adding corn to the "will never eat again" column was easy.

Good-bye corn. I do not even miss you.

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Acid Reflux No More?

The healthier I become, the angrier I get with any doctor who is an -ologist. I have particular wrath for the endocrinologist who ignored my thyroid condition for 10 years. That genius literally shrugged his shoulders when I brought him in three pages of symptoms. I can't get the decade back that I wasted with that harmful doctor, but I can help others in the same boat by giving you the knowledge you need to become healthy again, in spite of some incredibly harmful doctors.

The position and relation of the esophagus in ...Image via Wikipedia

My endocrinologist sent me to his buddy, a gastrointerologist, to talk about my acid reflux problem. Instead of looking at my body as a whole and instead of examining what role my normal American diet had on my esophagus and my stomach, the gastro informed me that I would be just fine if I took an acid reflux prescription pill FOR THE REST OF MY LIFE. Just as the Ear Nose and Throat doctor who botched my thyroid surgery cheerily told me I would be just fine if I just took a synthetic thyroid pill FOR THE REST OF MY LIFE. Health does not and never will come in the form of a pill.

I took that prescription drug for acid reflux for 5 years, only it quit working. So then the genius doctor UPPED the dosage to two times a day. So I did that for a few years and finally ended up in the hospital with severe acid reflux.

When I finally discovered a caring doctor who truly understood thyroid issues and he put me on the thyroid hormone my body had to have and was no longer producing on its own, my brain fog slowly lifted and I got my brain back. I began to read everything I could find on thyroid issues and that led me to where I am today: knowing that I have issues with gluten, corn and casein. My body becomes inflamed and non-functioning when I ingest those things. Things stop working properly, like the way my stomach functions.

Do you know how many pills I take these days for acid reflux? ZERO. I eliminated the foods that were killing me and draining my body of the energy-producing hormones that we all have to have to thrive.

If you currently have acid reflux, look first at your diet and see what changes you can make before you pop a pill and think it will all be okay . . . because it won't be.

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Tuesday, January 19, 2010

We Got Caseined

de: Struktur von Lactose en: Structure of LactoseImage via Wikipedia

Instead of those omni-present Got Milk advertising campaigns, I would one day love to see people asking instead: Have you been caseined?

We got caseined over here recently. We were at a local, small town restaurant and I pulled the waitress aside and said we could not eat gluten, dairy or corn. How I wish I had said PLEASE don't give us anything that has casein in it. PLEASE.

What is casein?

Casein is a protein that is found in milk and used independently in many foods as a binding agent. You stand at least a 50% chance of having an issue with caseins if you have an issue with gluten. Isn't that special that they run in the same crowd?

My husband has felt for years that he was lactose intolerant so we removed lactose from our diets . . . but didn't yet know about caseins, which were still present in the lactose free milk and in many, many other suspicious foods we were still consuming.

I stopped ingesting caseins to support my husband and I was convinced that I did not have an issue with "dairy." I was wrong. I knew I did when I finally added some dairy back in my meals. I felt awful for days. It wasn't pleasant.

When we ate at the locally owned Mexican restaurant, I ordered chicken fajitas and ate them with no tortillas. Jeff had a wonderful grilled shrimp salad. If you can get through a Mexican meal and not touch a single corn tortilla chip placed on your table, you know that your will power to stay healthy is growing. We had no chips and felt good about our food choices.

A few hours later, Jeff's stomach was in knots and he did not feel well at all. I felt okay which may mean something or it may mean nothing at all in terms of my ability to digest caiseins. I called the restaurant and the hapless person who answered it listened to my questions about gluten, corn and dairy. She put the phone down and I could hear her yell to someone "HEY! do we put gluten in anything these people had for lunch here? They had chicken fajitas and the shrimp salad." She came back to phone and informed me that nope, we had ingested no corn, gluten or dairy. I didn't feel right about her "researching" my questions and by the way Jeff was feeling, I knew he had gotten something bad for his system, but what? It's the not so fun game of trying to figure out what you ate where that was now poisoning you. That game gets old in a hurry.

Then my phone rang suddenly. It was the restaurant owner! She wanted to tell me to ask for her next as she knew exactly what the ingredients were in every meal. She then asked me a question I will never forget to ask in the future: "did you tell the waitress to leave out the dairy or did you tell her about caiseins?"

I did just say dairy! Wow, someone in the teeny small Texas town we live in knew about caseins! She told me that they dip both the shrimp and the chicken fajitas in BUTTER before they grill them. Butter has caiseins! Our food sleuthing worked this time, not that it helped Jeff in the short term but it will for all of our future food restaurant dining. That restaurant is now our favorite little restaurant in town and we send them customers by the boatloadfull. (Though I do think it would help to have all of their waitresses well versed in casein-ology)

After that meal, I look the waiter in the eye and say clearly: we have some SERIOUS food allergies, please help us to not anything that might possibly contain wheat, gluten, corn dairy or anything that is made of a dairly substances such as butter.

Then I ask my honey if he brought that epi pen with him. Okay, I don't always ask about the epi pen but I will say that if I feel the waiter is not paying attention. Usually the threat of my throat closing up tends to make them perk up a bit and listen. Not that my throat would swell up but that sounds so much prettier to say than my guts will swell, don't you agree?

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Thursday, January 14, 2010

Gluten Pootin'

A friend came up with this witty way to, ah, talk about what is the, um, end result of gluten poisoning (or dairy or corn or any food allergy you may have):

Gluten Pootin'.

There is no good way to address this issue. It stinks to have to even talk about it.

But one way we know around here if we been accidentally glutened is, um, er, if we start sounding like an all drum band over here. Really unpleasant, for all concerned.

Here is something scary to consider. Some of you may have a very serious food allergy but you never get to the gluten pootin' part of this problem. For whatever reason, some people just do not show symptoms of this problem until it is too late. That sounds alright and certainly less stinky, right?

Wrong. You are headed towards cancer and an early death if you don't find out for sure if you have a gluten sensitivity problem and you continue to ingest gluten. Or diabetes. Or rheumatoid arthritis. Or liver and kidney problems. Or, or, or and the list goes on until we reach 300 possibilities.

All in all, I will take gluten pootin' over intestinal cancer any day of the week. My apologies to those in the room who disagree.

I did find this great link of information from a writer who found a perhaps more civil way to discuss this issue; she called it a "rumbly tummy." That works, but I bet you will remember gluten pootin for a whole lot longer than you will "rumbly tummy." :)

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Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Gluten-Free Fast Food (It IS Possible!)

Wendy's International, Inc.Image via Wikipedia

Well slap me silly!

I found out today that Wendy's has many gluten-free options on their menu! Hooray for Wendy's! My husband Googled the Wendy's chili for me from home when I called home to check in after a full day of shopping. I am happy to report that Wendy's chili is gluten free and delicious!

I also know that McDonald's french fries are gluten free so if you are out and about and need a quick (but unhealthy!) treat, get some fries. They are the best of the best.

I did a little digging on Google and found these helpful links. It is much harder to eat at fast food restaurants if you are like me and can't have dairy, gluten or corn . . .but there are still some decent choices out there:

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Monday, January 11, 2010

Post Cards from the Edge

LOS ANGELES, CA - JANUARY 25:  (L-R) Actors Sh...Image by Getty Images via Daylife

I caught the last half of that movie, "Post Cards from the Edge" the other night. If you haven't seen it, it was written by Princess Leia, er, I mean Carrie Fisher. She tells the sad tale of her and her mother's addiction to drugs, alcohol and craziness. You probably have heard of her mother -- Debbie Reynolds?

A line in the movie made me shiver. Debbie Reynolds (played by Shirley McClaine) is in the hospital after she pulled a Tiger Woods and rammed her expensive car into a tree. Carrie Fisher (played by Meryl Streep) is getting her mom gussied up in the hospital since the press is lurking outside. Debbie Reynolds starts penciling in her eyebrows . . . she has no eyebrows!!

She said they never grew back after the Studio shaved them for a film. NO EYEBROWS! Even though they were shaved, they should have grown back in a healthy person. Hers did not. This shouts "THYROID PROBLEM."

I know this as I have lost the outer edges of my eyebrows. They will never grow back. It didn't have to happen but I lost 10 years of health and my life wasting my time (and my eyebrows) going to doctors who flat out refused to believe that I had a thyroid issue. I did, and my eyebrows tell the tale. I know now that my gluten intolerance was the starting point of my failing thyroid gland.

I often think about other famous people who make or made headlines. I especially think about Texan Anna Nicole Smith. Wish I could see a photo of her with no make up on. I am certain she would have no eyebrows . . .

When you see or hear about people doing crazy things with their lives, like drinking themselves nearly to death, take a moment and question if a gluten problem plays a role. I think many folks try to make themselves physically feel better by drinking, smoking or gorging on carbs. It doesn't give them a free pass to be stupid and drive drunk, etc, but it could help explain why so many people reach for the bottle, when they should instead be putting down that piece of bread.
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Sunday, January 10, 2010

Autism and the Gluten Connection

We don't have children, and that was a conscious decision Jeff and I made together. If I did have a child and he/she had Autism, I know I would be beside myself with worry for that child twenty-four seven.

There is -- sadly -- a decent chance that our child could have/would have suffered from Austism. Autism, like Celiac's Disease, is on the rise. Autism Spectrum Disorder affects 1 in 150 children today with a new diagnosis being made every 20 minutes. Read this blog, get up and make yourself some hot tea, let your dogs outside, check in on Facebook and 20 minutes have gone by before you know it. And in that time, another child will receive the diagnosis of Austism.

Celiac's Disease is increasing as well. And how. A study from the Mayo Clinic (and several other partners) concluded that young people today are more than 4 times more likely to have Celiac's Disease than were young people in the 1950's.

What else is on the rise for unlucky kids today? Fatness. Super fatness, actually. Obesity rates for all of us, but particularly for children, are increasing by the moment.

Yet scientists still scratch their collective brain and say they can't say for sure tell us why any of the above is happening. I will give them a hint:


Do we really need years and years of study to figure this one out?

We can feed more people cheaper on the front end of food production now more than ever. Only problem is, on the back end, more and more of us are suffering from debilitating immune disorders.

I feel for parents with children who have Austism, Celiac's or who are obese. I feel worse for the children themselves. I wish I could scoop them all up and feed them whole foods with no gluten, dairy, corn or any of the other top food allergens.

I wish some parents would stop waiting for "a miracle cure" and act now for the health of their children. I wish restaurants would wake up and realize that there are millions of us with immune problems and special diets with cash on hand to eat out. We would flock to your restaurants if you made us safe food.

I wish most of all that the medical establishment would WAKE UP and look at food as a primary starting point of so very many autoimmune diseases.

I guess today is a day of wishful thinking.

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Saturday, January 9, 2010

10 Things I Like About Being Gluten, Dairy and Corn-free

1. Give me a minute, I am sure I will be able to think of something.

2. You can't eat mindlessly anymore.

3. I am eating healthier than I ever have in my entire life.

4. Most things with gluten in them are just empty calories with no real nutrition.

5. Okay, there are only five things.

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Ten Things I Hate about Being Gluten, Dairy and Corn-free

1. It is hard to find safe food, fast (you can forget about drive thru's!)

2. I love the smell and taste of fresh bread. Sometimes I think a loaf of Italian bread might be worth the long-term bad health it will bring me. (it isn't)

3. People feel sorry for me, including myself.

4. You can't eat mindlessly anymore.

5. Restaurants are no longer fun but are in fact fairly dangerous to my health.

6. What is left to eat????

7. People tend to think "a little" won't hurt me. (it will)

8. I look normal on the inside but have an abnormal and non-fun reaction to wheat, dairy and corn on the inside.

9. I love baked desserts!

10. I miss yogurt. And cheese.
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Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Here's What We Eat

Every day someone I know tells me they could never go without bread.

Or cheese.

Or corn.

You could, I always tell them, if you knew that it was slowly killing you. And it is slowly killing about 144 million of us.

I also get asked a lot: what the hell is there left to eat when you eliminate gluten, dairy and corn?

I thought I'd share a typical day of food we eat at our house. We do venture out to restaurants now and again but feel safest about the food we prepare at home. I am not going to include recipes since there are countless blogs, websites and gluten and dairy-free cookbooks to find great recipes in. If you see something you like, I am happy to send you a recipe.

Here is what we ate just yesterday:

Omelet with fresh green peppers and onions, hot sauce and bacon

sweet potato chips

Gluten free crackers and peanut butter (lot's of peanut butter!)
mini organges


Gluten and dairy-free fried Cod
Mixed green salad with strawberries, sunflower seeds, tomatoes + gluten free dressing

After Dinner Snack
Giant Marshmallows (sometimes I put them on gluten free graham crackers)

Not a difficult day of eating at all. In fact the fried cod was better than any I had ever had.

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Tuesday, January 5, 2010

I have not tested myself for Celiac's Disease and here's why

I have not taken any of the numerous blood tests that one can take to see if I actually have Celiac's Disease. I could have Celiac's, though I suspect I am one of the 144 million Americans who have a gluten sensitivity.

Here is the rationale behind my decision not to test.

It was my caring Ear Nose Throat (ENT) doc who suggested to me last April that I quit gluten. She knew that I was hypothyroid and that I was still suffering from fatigue and other thyroid issues. She herself stopped eating gluten and felt better than she had in years. She recommended that I read "Gluten-Free Girl," and I ordered that book the day I got home from my appointment. Then I ordered 10 more books to get up to speed on gluten and all of its evils.

One thing my ENT told me is that she wasn't getting herself tested for Celiac's because she did not have faith in the reliability of any of the current tests available. She stopped eating gluten and slowly regained her own health. I did the same.

In the Celiac community, a lot of folks consider a small intestine biopsy to be the "gold standard" test. Yet even that test can leave you wondering if you have Celiac's or not. A normal biopsy does not necessarily exclude Celiac's Disease for life.

You can see if you have genetic markers for Celiac's but many feel there are too many false positives and false negatives. You can also have "Latent Celiac's Disease" where you have a negative test that turns positive several months or years later.

So why test at all???

To me, the proof is in the gluten-free pudding (which also has no dairy, of course!). I stopped eating gluten and then dairy (and as of today no more corn) and I felt better. Day by day, I am getting stronger and wiser.

If you do stop all gluten, then you can't later take the tests.

I do have some exciting news on the testing issue. I learned just this morning from a highly reliable pharmacist that a company called Nature Source is unveiling 6 new highly sensitive tests for gluten sensitivity in June. I will wait for those and take them, even though I have quit gluten.

It is a personal decision to test or not to test. Some people want to get a definitive answer. I don't think there really is a "for sure" answer, other than that age-old answer of listening to your body. If you feel better without gluten, avoid it like the plague. Same with dairy. Same with genetically modified corn. . . .

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What Is Left to Eat?????

It is beyond difficult to know what to cook for dinner -- or really any meal -- if you know that diary and gluten are poisonous to your system.

When you first figure out you can't have gluten, it is shocking, and then depressing. In that order. Then as you get a handle on the gluten issues, you learn that 80% of people who have a problem with gluten also have a problem with the proteins in dairy called caseins. So cheese, butter, yogurt, even many chips are out as they sneak in diary products.

So what's left to eat?

At first you feel you will have to subsist on eggs (if you aren't also allergic to them!), nuts, fruits and veggies and meat. And not much else.

But if you start to look closely at the grocery store, you will be pleased to find there are actually gluten and dairy-free baking goods in most stores. Some of them don't even suck. A few even taste better than the gluten stuff.

What you probably will soon realize is that the main problem with going gluten and dairy-free is that you have to seriously think before you eat ANYTHING. You may do what we did and stop eating out for months as you get used to your new reality. You might also start gaining weight as you feel sorry for yourself and load up on the good-bad stuff you can still eat, like corn chips.

You also see early on that there are no more fast foods in your diet, say other than a piece of fruit. But to have the fresh fruit, you need to go to the store a lot more often than when you relied on processed foods that lived for months or even years in your pantry.

But you will venture out again, wiser and healthier.

What is the alternative, after all?
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Monday, January 4, 2010

Breaking News: New Study Points to Gluten and Dairy as Causes of Autism

I just caught this information on the evening news. I will research and post what I learn.

If you have a child who is autistic -- or know someone who does -- please STOP feeding them gluten and dairy products.

You have nothing to lose and possibly everything to gain.

More to come . . . . now back to my dinner prep. Gluten free stuffed baked sweet potatoes and fresh peas! I am boiling eggs as a back up in case I ruin the potatoes.

I can't really cook!!

PS: I believe I have found a link to the study referenced in the evening news tonight.

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Sunday, January 3, 2010

I Got Glutined

I don't know how it happened but I clearly have gotten some of the nasty stuff in my system.

It is a bit disheartening to have gotten thru all the holidays and not have ingested any gluten . . . only to have had some somewhere in the past day or so.

That's the hardest part of having a gluten sensitivity: not trusting the food you eat and always, always having to be a food detective.

I have wracked my brain trying to figure out what it may have been. I now suspect it could have been the bar-b-cue sauce I had with a restaurant meal yesterday. I now feel stupid for consuming it . . .

It was my fist gluten poisoning of 2010 and I hope it is the last for months and months to come.
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Saturday, January 2, 2010

Great article on-line article about gluten

My brother sent me this outstanding article on gluten and its devastating affect on so many of us.

Please take a minute or three to read this important article. It is written by an M.D. That way those of you who may be doubting what a lay person such as myself is saying about gluten . . . well, you can hear it straight from the horse's mouth (so to speak).

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