Saturday, February 27, 2010

How to Know If Your Doctor Is a Great Doctor

A lab coat.Image via Wikipedia
I can talk all day long about bad doctors, just see yesterday's post. I have frankly had more experience with that kind of doctor than the good kind.

I do know that excellent doctors are out there, however. I will give you my personal check list that I have to have in my doctors. If he or she doesn't have these qualities, I move on until I find a better doctor.

I base these traits on three fabulous doctors that I have the pleasure and good fortune and thankfully now good health -- thanks to them -- to work with. One is a female ENT (Ear, Nose, Throat), one is a hormone specialist (he was the first doctor to believe that I had a thyroid problem and he fixed it) and one is a thyroid surgeon (often called one of the best thyroid surgeons in the country). I can easily add a fourth excellent doctor and that would be the TV doctor named Dr. Oz. I love that he cares about people with every fiber of his being. Had he not become a heart surgeon, he would have made a great shrink.

Traits of Excellent Doctors:
  • They are rarely late for your appointment and if they are, they quickly apologize for keeping you waiting. They bother to put magazines in the waiting room in case they do run late. Simply putting up medical graphics or drug company promotions on the wall does not count as reading material. If you see an abundance of Big Pharma advertising, leave.
  • They do not require you to wear that silly paper gown unless they have to examine something under that gown.
  • They do not repeatedly interrupt you.
  • They do not wear ties and often they leave that white doctor's coat at home as well. Bad germs love ties and that white coat often puts a lot of distance between doctor and patient.
  • They are not offended if your bring in internet research that you want to discuss with them. This kind of doctor is thrilled to have a patient who is knowledgeable about their own health and one that will be an active partner in their own health care. They often recommend books for you to read to further your knowledge. This kind of doctor is never threatened by an informed patient.
  • They don't stop learning the day they receive their diploma from medical school.
  • Many of them don't mess with insurance because they refuse to allow an insurance suit to tell them how to best treat their clients.
  • They spend at least 30 minutes with you; often they spend an entire hour with you.
  • They ask how you FEEL and then they listen to what you say.
  • They understand the body as a whole and thus treat the body as a whole.
  • Many of them understand drug interactions so thoroughly that they could double as your pharmacist.
  • They never denigrate holistic health care; instead they integrate it into their knowledge base and practice.
  • They actually do the basics that every doctor should do: take your temperature, your pulse, your weight and your blood pressure. If you are seeing a thyroid doc and they never bother to actually walk over to you and examine your thyroid, fire that doctor.
  • They often have a nutritionist on staff or recommend that you see one.
  • They treat you with respect and assume you are an intelligent being who can grasp the finer points of your illness.
  • They say that their best knowledge has come from their patients, meaning as they help patient after patient back to a state of health, they learn something new with each case and that helps the next patient they see.

Friday, February 26, 2010

How to Know When Your Doctor Sucks

{{es|The Doctor. Hermosa panorama de la profes...Image via Wikipedia
Are you aware that you can fire your doctor?

Every time I visit a doctor, I act like a client, not a patient. Patients can't fire doctors; customers can. Doctors are like fish in the ocean and you can easily get another and another and another until you find one who treats you like you deserve to be treated. Pay out of pocket if you have to. What is more important than your health?

Here are reasons I have fired more than 15 doctors and took my insurance or my cash elsewhere:
  • They spend 15 minutes or less with you and act rushed and very non-interested in hearing about your health concerns.
  • They interrupt you a lot and/or finish your sentences for you.
  • They are more than 20 minutes late and never apologize for keeping you waiting.
  • They are arrogant, haughty and full of themselves and thus have no time for you as there is only so much room in that brain of his and it is filled with thoughts of his awesomeness.
  • They refuse to give you a copy of YOUR lab work. It is YOUR body and YOU are legally permitted to have YOUR lab results.
  • They tell you "it's all in your head." That one causes me to stand up and walk out immediately without saying a word to the doctor. Even if I am sitting there in that flimsy paper gown, I will grab my things and change in the bathroom. He can figure it out later why I walked out, if he even cares that I did. It tends to at least startle them and give them an opportunity to wonder about what they might have said to offend you. Of course they also can decide you are indeed crazy and it is in your head but at that point I don't care what that doc thinks as he is fired.
  • They refer you to any doctor ending with an -ologist in their title. This often means they have no idea why you are before them whining again about how tired you feel so they push you off down the road to an -ologoist who will then most likely give you a prescribed drug and never consider your body as a whole. There may be a real need to one day see an -ologist but be on the lookout for this cop out move by your primary doctor.
  • They say you fit the Four F Profile -- Forty, Fat, Female and Fertile. When a doctor has the nerve to lay this one out, I am so very thankful I never took that concealed weapon class after all because this line causes me to go postal. I am likely to respond by telling this sort of doctor that he/she forgot the fifth F: F**K YOU!
Okay, fine, not everyone feels comfortable using the f-bomb in a doctor's office. I think you might though if your body is falling apart for a few decades and doctor after doctor blows your concerns off. Or worse, they prescribe the wrong medicine or remove the wrong body part surgically from you and you end up sicker and sicker and sicker.

If you aren't willing to walk away from an incompetent or lazy or uncaring doctor, then you are saying that you are willing to stay sick. And sick you will stay.

My excellent thyroid doctor wrote this down for me on his stationary the very first visit I had with him: "Never let your doctor determine how you feel." Sage advice.

For tomorrow's post, I will share the ways to know if you are sitting before a truly remarkable doctor.

Natural Solutions Magazine Hits Thyroid Article Out of the Park

ThyroidImage via Wikipedia
This article in Natural Solutions magazine is the very best mainstream article I have ever read about thyroid issues. Kudos to Natural Solutions! They got the story right.

Check out The Hidden Epidemic: Is Your Thyroid Making You Fat?

Thursday, February 25, 2010

How Is Your Appendix?

ERImage by via Flickr
Do you still have your appendix? If yes, you lucky dog, you.

Mine is missing. It was taken out in 2000 after it ruptured. I am a stubborn soul and my right side hurt for several days until I was finally bedridden on a Saturday. I screamed anytime I had to get up but laying down felt okay so I informed my husband that I would wait until Monday to see a doctor. Even back then I was suspicious that I was not getting the best medical care possible and I was no fan of doctors, mostly because I had been seeing an endocrinologist for several years who assured me I had no thyroid condition and it was all in my head. He was wrong on two counts as it was not in my head, it was in my neck, and I most certainly did have a thyroid condition.

Luckily for me, my husband is a wise man and he literally forced me into the car to go to the ER. Whattya know, my appendix had burst. Had my stubbornness prevailed, I would probably not be here now because when the appendix ruptures, you are likely to get some ugly gangrene spreading inside you.

As I was being wheeled down to the operating room, the ER doctor came out to meet me and I started grilling him on his experience. He was not happy about my giving him the third degree, but I didn't want any body part that was remotely necessary to be removed unless it positively had to go. The surgeon said that it was the most common procedure performed and he had done it hundreds of times. He also informed me that nobody needs their appendix. I thought that was an odd statement -- why did I have one if I didn't need it? It seemed like all of my other internal body parts served a very real purpose.

My husband added, "Honey, let's not piss off the man wielding the scalpel right now." Okay, okay, I said, let's get this thing out already. So it was removed and it had ruptured but thanks to my husband, it was caught before gangrene had set in.

For years afterward, I would try to find any information regarding the appendix because I wanted to know why we all had one if it was obsolete. I felt it must serve some purpose. I never found an answer, until now.

I picked up a fantastic book at Sprouts titled "Gut Solutions -- Natural Solutions to Your Digestive Problems" by Dr. Leonard Smith and Brenda Watson, N.D. They have an entire chapter devoted to the appendix. They write "In the past, medicine has not been able to assign a particular function to the appendix. Today, however, it is becoming more apparent that the appendix and surrounding lymphatic tissue probably serve an important role in immunity."

IMMUNITY. I have several autoimmune conditions: hypothyroidism, weak adrenals and the loss of female hormones. The only medicines I take are for hormone replacement. I am low in very important hormones because I ate foods for all of my 44 years that were toxins for me. Could the loss of my appendix have helped my autoimmune conditions take root? Why did it burst in the first place?

Here is what the authors of "Gut Solutions" have to say: "Obstruction of the appendix can occur due to solid pieces of stool or as a result of the stool becoming hard like stone."

I remember talking poop in college with a girlfriend and I was shocked to learn that she had bowl movements EVERY DAY. This was news to me as I went once a week. Where did all that poop go? Apparently some of it was turning to stone in my appendix.

Now that I have become self-educated on digestive issues as a sheer necessity to staying alive and thriving, I can see that I have had lifelong gut issues . . . but no one put them together until I was 44 years old.

I hope each of you will take stock of your gut. Ask yourself a lot of questions and keep asking until you find the answers. Pay attention to how you feel after you eat anything. If you have ANY autoimmune condition, look closely at what you are eating and consider blaming your diet for helping your condition along.

Most important of all -- listen to your gut.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

The Herxheimer Reaction

Overview of the main bacterial infections and ...Image via Wikipedia
Oh joy of joys! I think I am right smack in the middle of having a Herxheimer Reaction as a result of fighting Candida and dramatically changing my diet by eliminating corn, gluten and dairy (casein). What is a Herxheimer Reaction, you ask?

I like this definition that I found on-line:

"The Herxheimer Reaction- When you start a new treatment for an illness, your symptoms might increases at first, leaving you wondering if you're really getting healthier at all. This is called a Herxheimer reaction. This is the "die-off" effect that many people experience when they dramatically improve their diet and lifestyles. It is an allergic response to the toxic by-products produced when the body's ph is changed for the better. When this happens, large numbers of dangerous bacteria and yeast organisms die and leave the body. During this time, you won't feel very well, but in reality, you are responding positively to treatment. After this initial Detoxification period, you should see significant improvement of your symptoms."

My main symptoms are feeling very sore and achy all over. For some reason, my right shoulder feels like someone whacked it with a brick a few hundred times. I also have been having a mysterious red rash in the evenings on my back and shoulders.

I like these links that give good suggestions on how to deal with this not-so-fun side affect on the long and winding road to health:

Dealing With Yeast Die-Off Reactions

Could Irritable Bowel Syndrome and Candida Overgrowth be Related?

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Apology to My Gut

play knitted intestinal tractImage by Sterin via Flickr
Dear Gut,

I owe you an apology.

I am sorry that I pumped foods into you for 44 years that made you congested, bloated and very unhappy.

I am sorry that I was a sugar addict and might have permanently endangered your structure.

I am sorry that I like alcohol and you have to deal with that as well.

I am sorry that I am a carb Queen and that I never met a potato that I didn't love.

I am sorry for all those times I sat on the bed watching a TV show and eating Cheetos.

I am sorry that I never liked vegetables much.

I am sorry for all the pastries.

I am sorry for the chocolate, too. I really love chocolate.

I am sorry most of all that I ignored my "gut instinct" for too long.

I hope you will forgive me and that you are willing to give me a do-over.

If you are, I promise you that I will:

  • eat whole, real foods
  • eat no food that has more than 5 ingredients in it
  • never knowingly eat gluten, corn or dairy casein again
  • give you daily probiotics and Omega Oils
  • boycott sugar, in all her forms
  • avoid alcohol and caffeine
  • spoil you with ginger and green teas

And my most important promise, I will listen to my gut.

Monday, February 22, 2010

#$(*$#)($)#)_@!! Applesauce!!!

A photograph of applesauce, specifically Musse...Image via Wikipedia
When I went into commando mode of eating last week in my attempt to ensure I got no gluten, corn or dairy, I ate applesauce every day. You would think that my "all natural" brand applesauce would be a safe bet, but it ain't.

Today I was at the store and looked for more applesauce. I now look very, very closely at anything we buy and there it was on my favorite applesauce: high fructose corn syrup. I almost cussed out loud for the merriment or offense of all the other shoppers.

The corn syrup alone could have been what made me and my husband sick. Sorry to have blamed you, garlic.

Sick Again!

Coryphaena hippurusImage via Wikipedia
One of the most difficult things on my journey to health is having a set back. It happens all too often and all too easily. It is beyond frustrating to stick to a very strict gluten, corn and casein-free diet and still wind up sicker than a dog. It can drive you down right mad.

I am been retracing my food intake over the past 3 days to figure out just why it is that I became so very ill over the weekend . . . . my husband did too. We eat mostly at home and had eaten many of the same things and since we were both ill (digestively speaking), it was a little easier to track down.

At first I suspected it might be the deli turkey we got from Sprouts Farmer's Market. I called Sprouts to inquire and they confirmed that it was definitely gluten free. Then I looked at the dried banana chips we both love from Sprouts and noticed the ingredients included "coconut oil OR vegetable oil." Coconut oil is fine, corn oil would be NOT okay. I called Sprouts back but they had no idea what oil was used. I will call the corporate offices today to inquire and the banana chips were tossed into the trash.

The only other two possibilities were the herbal cleanse I had started on Thursday. However, I felt fine on that and my husband wasn't doing the cleanse and he felt sick as well, so that let the cleanse off the hook, at least a little bit.

Here is what I think might be the culprit: garlic. We enjoyed a wonderful Mahi Mahi fish dinner made at home on Friday that called for 4 cloves of garlic. That's a lot of garlic! We do eat a fair amount of garlic but perhaps since our guts are in the process of healing from food allergies, it proved to be too much. Or perhaps we both have a leaky gut and we are now both allergic to garlic. I really have no idea but in two days time we were both back to feeling great.

For the time being, no garlic for us. And I have decided to stop the detox for now. I have been reading up on detoxes and I am going with the theory that my gut is just not ready to handle that, yet. And it seems like people either think they work wonderfully or they are a complete hoax.

Meanwhile, my energy level is outstanding this morning and I am happy to feel "normal" again. I haven't lost anymore weight but I haven't gained any either. I am still at 178, which is a loss of 10 pounds since last Wednesday!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Animals Heal Us

Animals are my respite and besides my husband, they are the most rewarding loves of my life. I have a theory that many of us who are now discovering we are quite ill with major food allergies also had a difficult childhood. It's not always the case, I know, some of you just got unlucky and have genes that contribute . . . but I do know for sure that major stress in life can have all sorts of health repercussions, and a bad gut is one of them.

I thought I would begin to introduce the animals of our farm since I think it is wise to not focus on our health woes 24-7. Besides, my animals are the main reason that I want to feel totally healthy because when I was nearly bedridden a few years ago, I had to stop riding horses and working with our dogs. We bought a ranch in Texas for the enjoyment of our animals and so that I could walk all 5 dogs off-leash with no worries of cars. I was getting very depressed that I no longer had the energy to walk the dogs or even saddle a horse. I also bought a 100-acre ranch so the horses would have room to run as there is little in life that I love more than seeing a horse in a full run, mane and tail flowing, and I love it even more when they throw in a few bucks of complete and total joy. I also happen to love seeing my dogs being able to run freely and explore the ranch with their noses. They live for their daily walk. I do too.

I have always loved animals. I also always wanted a horse. It took me until I was 38 years old but I did finally get a horse. Then I got another and another. Then I discovered donkeys and now we have 6 donkeys. Actually we have 7 donkeys but one is convinced he is a horse and he refuses to associate with the other donkeys. We named him Honkey Donkey because he is half horse and half donkey (which is a mule), at least in his mind. I suspect he was raised only with horses and we got him a year ago from a lady who said she got him at 4 months old from an auction.

Honkey's best friend is a huge blue colored horse named Dylan. They are inseparable. They eat together, they play together, they walk everywhere together, they sleep side by side. Dylan is nearly 16 hands, which is the way horses are measured. It basically means that he is very tall and you need a stepping stool to get up on that horse! Dylan was rescued after serving most of his life as a Pony Horse on the racetrack. Pony Horses are usually stout and gorgeous and they have a horrible life. They exercise up to three thoroughbreds every morning of their lives, running a mile with each horse "ponied" by the rider on the pony horse. Then they get put back in their stalls for 23 hours a day. They never get to eat so much as a blade of grass.

We got Dylan several years ago and the poor guy would not leave the false security of our fenced in barn area for months, even though the gate was open and he was free to explore. He whinnied and cried when the other horses and donkeys left for their daily ranch tour but he would not follow them; he just parked himself in a corner and hung his head over the fence, basically putting himself in a stall. I finally had to halter him and walk him out to the pasture, far from the barn and with the other horses. He was shaking in fear but he eventually adapted and returned to being a normal horse. Dylan is never stalled at our place and he never will be.

I gave Dylan his freedom and in exchange, he has given my heart a much needed boost and these animals are medicine for my soul. Dylan has become an excellent trail horse and we have covered many, many miles of Texas together.

Some people tell me that I "spoil" my horses. When people tell me that, two things are sure to happen. That person is on their way to no longer being a friend and I always ask this soon to be ex-friend: Why is it that you assume that by my ensuring my horses are happy and healthy and enjoy their lives that I am spoiling them?

Spoil your animals. Free them when you can. Allowing them -- and yourself -- to have wants and desires. It's good for your soul and what is good for the soul becomes good for your heart and then your gut.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

What's for Dinner?

Here is what we had for dinner last night. It was FABULOUS! One of the best meals I have ever eaten. It does help to marry a man who is an excellent cook but if you are already married and your spouse doesn't cook at all (like me!), then this dish is worth learning to cook for. If you are not yet married, listen carefully: find a spouse who is a very good cook!!

I adapted the original recipe somewhat as we did not use the salmon or the red peppers it called for, mostly because I do not care for salmon:

Sauteed Seafood and Bell Pepper

From: 500 Low-Carb Recipes by Dana Carpenter

  • 2 tablespoons Olive oil
  • 2 Mahi Mahi fillets
  • 1 Yellow Bell Pepper, deseeded and thickly cut
  • 8 ounces large fresh shrimp, shelled and deveined
  • 8 ounces sea scallops (we didn't add these)
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon or lime juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground red pepper or dried hot red pepper flakes
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 tablespoons fresh cilantro or parsley, finely chopped (we used parsley)

1. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet -- do not crowd the ingredients -- over medium heat. Put the Mahi Mahi fillets in the skillet, skin side down. Scatter the yellow pepper slices around. Cook for about 6 minutes on a medium heat, turning once halfway through.

2. Add the shrimp, garlic, lemon juice, red pepper, salt and pepper. Fry for 2 to 3 minutes more, until the shrimp are opaque.

3. Move to serving dishes. Scatter the parsley over and serve.

2 More Pounds Gone + New Foods that I Love

weight loss tracker week 5Image by The Shed1 via Flickr
Oh happiest of days!!! I am actually down two more pounds, making my weight loss 10 pounds in 4 days!! And, my energy levels are through the roof. I even wake up peppy, and that is a first.

I do believe that the healthy way to lose weight is little by little so that it stays off for good . . . however, I have been seriously trying to lose weight for 6 months and nothing happened except for gaining weight. I now believe that I was still ingesting foods that were toxins to my body and my body clung on to every ounce trying to tell me it wasn't happy and it was trying to pull any trace amounts of nutrients it could out of the bad food. I do not know exactly why that resulted in a bloated feeling and appearance and I am still researching that one.

I've been very strict about what eat and I am 99% sure that I have avoided all corn, gluten and dairy (casein) products for 4 days and then presto! Ten pounds melt away.

I also got my adrenal and thyroid medicines switched to compounded versions and that helped a lot. If you still feel ill after removing the food toxins in your diet, please look closely at your medications and supplements. The corn starch in my iron pills made me very ill. I've also given up my 20 year habit of wine in the evenings. I will introduce it back in down the road and I will be sad beyond measure if it turns out I have an allergy to alcohol because that is my one bad habit -- but I will give that up too if I must. I am too tired of feeling bloated and I want my youthful energy back and I will do everything and anything it takes to get there.

I have also discovered a grocery store called Sprouts. I love that store so very much that I could almost sell the farm and move in right next door to it. Okay, I could never leave my horses and donkeys and I will just suck up the two-hour journey it takes to get there and back, but I highly recommend you check out a Sprouts if you have one in your state. I like it much, much better than Whole Foods. Whole Foods needs to change its name to "Wholly Expensive Foods."

Here are a few things that I have found at Sprouts that I absolutely love and finding these yummy things keeps me motivated:

SO Delicious Coconut Milk
SO Delicious Coconut Creamer
MaraNartha Almond Butter
Just Pineapple (dried fruit)
Lundberg Organic Whole Grain Brown Rice Cakes
Amy's Organic Soups
Pacific Natural Foods Organic Free Range Chicken Broth
Brown Rice Snaps (crackers)
Seeds of Change Organic Whole Grain Basmati Rice
MLO Brown Rice Protein powder (for smoothies)

Friday, February 19, 2010

I Am Watching what You Eat

VeggiesImage by Lodigs via Flickr
That's right, I am watching what you eat. I can't help it!

Today I went to two grocery stores (Sprouts for produce and meat and great gluten-free items and HEB for everyday stuff like household cleaners) and I looked at what the people around me were buying. The folks at Sprouts had a lot of healthy, yummy things in their baskets, but that is to be expected if you are at a health food store, right?

HEB was a different matter entirely. My lane's checker was mighty s-l-o-w so I got a good stare at the person's choices in front of me. I noticed right off that she had a puffy look to her, like I did when I was really ill. I can barely keep my mouth shut any more when I see people with that telltale puffy face. I want to give them Food Education 101 on the spot, but I try to be good and stay quiet. She also had lost the outer edges of her eyebrows, which points to a thyroid problem.

This lovely but puffy person had some of these items in her cart: hot dogs, sausage, white bread, corn chips, whole milk, Egos, potato chips, rice, ears of corn, oranges and grapes.

The only thing remotely healthy she choose was the fruit, though some even call that unhealthy if it isn't organic. If I were able to take away all the suspected items that might be causing her puffiness, she would have only walked out of the store with the oranges and the grapes and the rice since it wasn't white rice. I don't mean that they were unhealthy because I somehow knew that she had allergies to those products, I mean I do not think those items are healthy for anyone.

When I traveled to the Texas Coast last week, I noticed what everyone at our table got when we ate at a pizzeria. I made two trips to the salad bar and I didn't even miss the pizza. I was the only one who did that in the entire restaurant, but I guess most folks don't go to a pizzeria to get salad, now do they? Maybe they should, though, maybe they should.

Everyone at our table had several slices of pizza and some calzones. I wished I could have done a poll in a few hours to see how everyone felt after a meal like that. I REALLY wanted to stand up on the table and yell out that everyone was eating very unhealthy and in many ways, life-threatening food (if you ate enough of it, or say, ate it throughout your lifetime) but once again, I was a model of self-restraint. I know, I am so thoughtful to others eating what I used to eat just last year, aren't I? :)

After dinner, we all did talk about our many health issues and every single woman there had a major problem from diabetes to fibromalgia. The men weren't in any better health and had faced cancer and heart attacks. One woman walked with a cane and had very swollen ankles. If I had had one more glass of wine that evening, I would have stood up on the table and shouted over and over and over: what you are eating is killing you!

But alas, I kept my opinions to myself.

At least until I could spill them all here. . . .

Can the Weight Loss Continue?

Three bellpeppers (Capsicum annuum) from three...Image via Wikipedia
As you may have read here yesterday, I lost 8 pounds in ONE DAY. I did it (I think) by using commando eating tactics to nearly guarantee I was not ingesting any gluten, dairy (casein) or corn. I am going with the theory that one of my not fun reactions to ingesting any of those items makes me bloat up and feel fatigued and some might even say grouchy. I am trying to get to an ungrouchy and thin state of being, or least get to a non-bloated state of being.

I have to say that my energy is OUTSTANDING today! I feel healthy! The scary thing is that who knows how long that feeling will last since it seems that I have a pattern of gaining energy and then losing it all too quickly. I also wonder how long I can continue to be this disciplined with such a strict diet. I will never knowingly consume the foods that I know I have an allergy to but I do have some yummy gluten free treats in the pantry that are calling my name!

I did not lose another pound overnight, but I don't see the need to get greedy. :-) I also didn't gain any weight. I did add in a few brown rice crackers and a brown rice protein bar last night. I am now starting to wonder if anything like rice or potatoes will cause me to swell up?

Don't worry, I won't bore you with telling you what I eat every day but so many of you have asked and I am on a quest to figure out once and for all what is making me feel so bloated and if it helps you on your path to healthyville, I am happy to share this struggle.

Here is what I ate yesterday:
  • big Red Delicious apple
  • almonds
  • gluten-free deli turkey
  • black olives
  • almonds
  • Chicken Stir fry with onions, green peppers, water chestnuts, and pineapple. YUM!
  • applesauce
  • gluten free deli turkey
  • almonds
  • big Red Delicious Apple
  • almond butter and brown rice crackers
  • Pure organic Wild Blueberry bar
  • ginger tea

Thursday, February 18, 2010

8-Pound Weight Loss in ONE DAY

Silhouettes and waist circumferences represent...Image via Wikipedia
I went to my knowledgeable Doctor of Osteopathic medicine (DO) this week to complain yet again about my weight gain issues. I wanted her to rule out possibilities such as any kind of ovarian tumor or parasites or please just give me any reason why I am STILL packing on the pounds after giving up sugar, corn and anything with gluten or caseins in it. She felt I didn't have tumors or parasites based on an exam and previous blood work.

The doctor felt that I am having an issue with my thyroid meds. I am currently taking Nature-throid and it is true that my hair had returned to a brittle state, which is indicative of not getting enough thyroid, even though my blood work shows I am getting too much thyroid. So I am switching back to Armour Thyroid, though the compounded version to avoid any fillers such as lactose. Plus I did not do well on the "new" version of Armour last summer, which is why I switched to Nature-throid in the first place. (See Are You Switching to Nature-throid? Here's 10 Good Things to Know.)

I told my DO that I keep reading on-line that some folks do gain weight when they remove all the toxins from their diet. There are different theories as to why but one is the idea that I am only now absorbing nutrients properly and that adds up in weight. That theory confuses me a bit since all my previous bloodwork shows I had very normal vitamin and nutrient levels, though I have always been anemic. Another theory is that when you go off gluten, you tend to stock up on gluten-free breads and other high calorie, gluten-free foods. I did do that; it is hard not to at first because you feel sorry for yourself and you load up on what you can safely eat.

My DO suggested I try a two-week cleanse. I agreed to do that and started yesterday. The brand name is Life Choice RX. She also said I should try the HCG diet, the one where you exist on 500 calories a day and you give yourself a shot daily that tricks your brain into thinking you are pregnant. That sounded like mutant science to me so I declined that option.

When I went to the doctor on Wednesday, I weighed 188 pounds. I am tall so while I don't look obese, I technically am obese at the weight. Today I weighed myself and I weigh 180. There could be a few pounds difference in the scales but we have a very good scale at home. How in the hell do you lose 8 pounds overnight?

Here is how I think I did it: I kept to a very minimal diet yesterday doing my dead level best to avoid anything that I might have an allergy to. I felt that most of my added weight was water weight that felt very bloaty, which to me means that I was still ingesting something my body cannot process. I did also start the cleanse yesterday and the doctor says some patients lose up to 10 pounds on it; that is over two week however, not in the first day. Here is what I ate yesterday:
  • Orange and banana
  • almonds
  • applesauce
  • gluten free deli turkey
  • almonds
  • half an orange bell pepper
  • black olives
  • large steak
  • green beans
  • applesauce
  • I also did not have my nightly favorite treat -- wine.
I seriously doubt that eating what I did could cause me to drop 8 pounds in a day. I do feel that by NOT ingesting any of the food toxins, I lost a lot of that bloat. I intend to eat this way until I feel the bloat is under control.

Stay tuned . . . and here's hoping that another 8 pounds falls off by tomorrow!

Traveling on a Special Diet

A pair of In-N-Out cheeseburgers.Image via Wikipedia
My wonderful Mother Pat recently sold a Texas beach house that has been in the family for more than 30 years. Family and friends gathered in Port Aransas, Texas to pack up Pat's belongings and send them to her where she is now living with my Step-Father, Lee. Lee is gravely ill and she cannot be away from him for long. Between that and a fast closing time, we had to hustle to pack up years of artwork as they are both fine art collectors as well as artists themselves. My Step-father's studio required 4 people packing for 3 straight days to get out all of his incredible sculpture. We packed up the entire house in just three days, which was no small miracle.

My Mother is a very warm and friendly person and she has tons of friends and they all wanted to help, some by having us over for dinner. I brought down three large Whole Food bags of food for me since I can't eat anything that has gluten, corn or casein in it. I figured I would eat mostly what I brought but attempt to get some non-buttered veggies and yummy fresh fish while out down at the Texas gulf coast.

I did quite well until we went to a friend's house for dinner. She was also gluten free and made a lovely and safe salad and a gluten-free lasagna. I ate it and it was GLORIOUS! I also ate it because she was very happy to present it to us and it felt odd for me to decline it (won't make that mistake again!). Only later, in the middle of the night when I woke up shaking did I remember why it was so damn good: the cheese! I was so tired from packing and so interested in the dinner conversation that I ate without thinking about it. Once you know you have massive food allergies, you can never again put anything in your mouth without thinking about it. I paid for that mistake for a full week, feeling lethargic and bloaty.

I asked on my favorite Yahoo group -- -- how long the general recovery time was for your guts to heal after you were poisoned and the heartbreaking response was six months! That is very depressing. I don't know that I have managed to go an entire week yet without getting an accidental poisoning so I have at least six more months to go before my gut heals. Part of the reason is my learning curve but the other reason is that corn, gluten and caseins are in just about anything but whole foods. I even worry about the meat I eat as that cow was fed corn . . . .

Other than the one cheese poisoning, I did alright on the road. One night we all enjoyed butter-free Mahi Mahi and that was worth the drive down to the coast just for that! The packers all wanted Whataburger for lunch most days because they were a dedicated crew and they didn't want to stop packing long enough to head to a restaurant. I ate from Whataburger as well, getting two hamburgers sans the bun and cheese and with the veggies and I have say they were quite good. I also ate the french fries and that may or may not have been a mistake. There is quite the raging debate in gluten-free communities about whether or not fast food french fries are safe or not because they are usually fried in the same batter as things like breaded onion rings. Once I looked up the ingredients, I felt sick and now have ruled out fast food french fries. I suspect I have an issue with dextrose but even if I didn't, when you look at the ingredients of these fries, it is apparent that these are not what I consider to be real foods:

Medium French Fries: Potatoes, partially hydrogenated soybean oil, dextrose, disodium dihydrogen pyrophosphate (to maintain natural color). (Note: Deep-fried in ZTF Whataburger liquid shortening and seasoned with Whataburger fry salt. Menu items that are deep-fried may come in contact with other products that contain gluten, wheat, dairy, egg, soybean, fish, or animal products.)

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Milk Is Eviler than Corn

I used to start every day with my favorite breakfast: whole wheat toast with cheese on top and some yogurt too.

Just as my grandmother Mimi did before me, I was poisoning my system with dairy (casein) and gluten in the bread. Mimi eventually went completely insane. I didn't but I was nearly bed ridden for two years in horrible health. I finally started down the path to good health, but it came at a high price. I will pay any price to be truly healthy, however. It is my hope that my experiences shared in this blog will save someone else all of that misery and money I have spent on getting smart about getting healthy.

One thing that I cannot stand the thought of ingesting any longer is casein, which is the protein found in all dairy products. You may think you "just" have a problem with lactose but you need to look further and read up on caseins.

You can start by reading this interview with a dairy expert. If this doesn't gross you out and make you run to your refrigerator and toss anything with dairy in it, nothing will.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Fat, fat, fat!

My Neighbour Is A Big Fat Ugly PigImage by ♥♥peppersmom♥♥ via Flickr
I was always one of those super skinny girls who could eat anything and never gain a pound. You know, that irritating gal we now all dislike. Immensely.

In my mid 30s, the weight s-l-o-w-l-y started coming on, just as most of my major hormones started fading away. I became hypothyroid and losing weight while being hypo is perhaps nothing more than a fable or a myth, at best. Even medicated it is hard work to lose weight when your metabolism has slowed to a crawl.

Once I figured out that I was gluten sensitive as well as sensitive to corn and casein, I stopped ingesting any of that harmful junk. I waited in anticipation for the poundage to fall off, as I know it has for so many when they just stop ingesting gluten. I have never eaten as much fresh, whole food as I now do.

I am still waiting for the weight to fall off. Looks like the weight wait will be even longer -- in spite of my daily exercise that includes running our ranch and tending to horses and walking our 5 dogs every day and exercise videos when I feel healthy enough. Apparently some of us with gluten issues find that our bodies suck onto weight when we start eating right. Our metabolism has slowed to a snail's pace after years of eating food that was poisoning us. In a way I can't blame the body for that -- it thinks it is dying from the constant assault from harmful food so it goes into protection mode and slows down, trying to absorb what little nutrition that it can.

Now that my gut is in the SLOW process of healing, I am absorbing nutrients better and that means I am hanging on to calories better as well. So not only do I go without most foods that Americans eat all day every day, I still am not that skinny girl of long ago.

For the short term, I am very happy to have some of my youthful energy return, but once I have gone 6 entire months without any kind of accidental poisoning, I will start to look for that skinny girl inside me and do whatever I need to to coax her back into existence.

It's okay if you already dislike me for the future skinny girl I will become (again). I can handle that better than I can feeling like a bloated whale.

I am looking into good lifestyle changes to use and I am liking so far what I am reading about this diet plan. Please let me know if you have tried it and what your thoughts are about it.

Monday, February 15, 2010

I love, love, LOVE Sprouts

A row of shopping carts.Image via Wikipedia
I do love Sprouts!! Not bean sprouts, silly, but the grocery store chain called Sprouts Farmers Market. This place REALLY understands food allergies of all sorts, not just gluten issues. I found yogurt that I can eat at Sprouts! YOGURT!!!! It is a soy yogurt and it is YUMO!

There are so few things to get really excited about when you have major food allergies and you seemingly can't eat like the rest of America does, so I am jumping for joy now that I found Sprouts! A big shout out to my Texas friend Linda (who is actually a Yankee but that's okay, we Texans like Yankees these days, especially smart, funny and good food lovin' Yankees like Linda!) who not only told me about Sprouts, she brought over their very informative gluten-free brochure. Thank you, Linda.

I found so many corn-free, casein-free and gluten-free things that my husband and I can eat that I dropped $450 at Sprouts today. I plan on spending that or more every week because I want to stay healthy and Sprouts is the place that will enable me to stay healthy.

Even though I have praised Whole Foods in the past and even though it began right here in Austin, Texas, it is behind the times when it comes to providing enough choice with reasonable prices for the multitudes with food allergies. I even find Whole Foods to be pretentious.

Yes, that's right, I called a grocery store pretentious. I actually find the produce at plain ole' HEB tastes better than the produce at Whole Foods. They also have too many gimmicky things that aren't healthy for anyone there. The aisles were not made for shopping carts at Whole Foods, as though you are expected to go in and drop a small fortune but please only shop with a dainty basket. Well it takes me an hour to get to Whole Foods and I am coming out with more than just a basket's worth when I visit.

No matter, Sprouts has nice large aisles and there is nothing pretentious about that store. Love, love, love Sprouts!!!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Armour Thyroid Is Harder to Find than a Needle in a Haystack

I have been hypothyroid most -- if not all -- of my life. I went to a lousy Austin endocrinologist who could do no better than shrug his shoulders at my three pages of symptoms that I brought to him for 5 years. I fired him and finally found a truly caring doctor who actually understands how the thyroid works. As I have gained my health and thus my life back, my anger at that harmful doctor is still present, though lessened somewhat by finally feeling healthy again. My good doctor has almost erased my wrath at the arrogant endocrinologist, but every now and then a news story crops up about thyroid medications (such as the one below) and my anger at the needless suffering of the millions of thyroid patients at the hands of their doctors and Big Pharma gets my mad going again.

I am now sure that I was first gluten intolerant and a lifetime of not knowing that whittled my thyroid gland down to nothing. Mr. Big Fancy Pants Endo -- who is paid thousands every year to give "lectures" by the makers of his favorite drugs, including Synthroid -- apparently has never heard of Celiac's or gluten intolerance and probably has never even heard of gluten itself. He certainly never suggested that I may have some serious food allergies that caused all of my health symptoms.

I was put on Armour Thyroid on March 8, 2007 by my new doctor. I have that date marked on my calendar every year and I celebrate it as that is the date I started to get my life back. I had been practically bedridden for most of 2005-2006, so when my brain fog started to lift and my energy levels came back, I was in love with Armour Thyroid as that is the drug that made health possible for me.

I was on Armour Thyroid until the summer of 2009, when for some incomprehensible reason, the makers of Armour changed the 100-year old formula that worked wonders for countless thyroid patients. I began to feel hypo again. I also felt nauseous from something the genius makers of Armour decided to add to the formula. The company ignored pleas from thyroid patient advocates and refused to answer why they changed the formula. So most of us switched to another form of thyroid called Nature-thyroid. You can guess what happened next -- that also became nearly impossible to find.

Synthetic thyroid brands such as Synthroid simply do not work for me and for thousands of other hypothyroid patients as well. We have to have thyroid that is not synthetic or we remain ill.

What would happen in the national media if a major maker of insulin suddenly changed their formula and diabetics everywhere began to feel ill from the new formula? What if the makers of the most popular statin drug started playing around with that formula and people felt ill from that change? Would there not be a national outcry?

It is incredibly sad to me that we have to become health detectives and figure out for ourselves why we feel like shit. It is even sadder that once we finally find a medicine that gives us hope for a healthy life again, that medicine is suddenly changed and no longer does what it should for thousands of sufferers.

But saddest of all, you have to find that special doctor who refuses to be told how to treat patients based on what an insurance company thinks is best and instead relies on his or her training AND he/she bothers to listens to the actual symptoms the patient presents. Every day I say a small prayer of thanks to the thyroid patient advocates whom I have never met in person but who I count as dear friends as they are the one who directed me to the doctor who cared enough to actually heal me. I have a pit in my stomach every time I meet someone new who has suffered at the hands of an unknowledgeable and lazy doctor who has permitted that patient's life to ebb away until there isn't much there anymore.

For more information about the importance of getting on the right thyroid medicine, please bookmark Stop the Thyroid Madness and make it your personal thyroid Bible. Also check out Thyroid patients panicked as medication disappears.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Saturday, February 13, 2010

How Are Your Guts?

diagram of a human digestive systemImage via Wikipedia
Your guts might very well be inflamed. You might have symptoms and a suspicion that you have a gut problem caused by gluten (the protein source found in grains such as wheat and rye) or you might be REALLY unlucky and have a gut issue with no symptoms that alert you to it until it is too late.

It has been estimated that as many as 144 million Americans have a sensitivity to gluten. If you have one gut sensitivity, chances are high indeed that you probably have another sensitivity as well. Through trial and error, I have discovered that I cannot tolerate gluten, dairy or corn. Avoiding corn has been the hardest by far for me, since the food industry seemingly has never met a product it can't inject corn starch or high fructose corn syrup into. I honestly believe that high fructose corn syrup should be outlawed. It is good for nothing except causing horrible health problems.

Am I getting anyone's attention??? If 144 million of us have a gluten sensitivity, that means either YOU or someone you love has this issue. This is not just your Grandma's disease any longer.

Still don't believe me? How about this little fact: there has been a 400% increase in confirmed Celiac Disease diagnosis's. Here is an article that warns of what your future will look like if you ignore your gut: cancer, heart disease and early death.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Monday, February 8, 2010

Corn Starch Is Even More Evil Than Corn

Children of the Corn (1984 film)Image via Wikipedia
If you have been reading this blog, you will know that we have cleaned out our pantry three times.

First we removed anything that contained gluten, and this included stuff you would not expect, such as ketchup and soy sauce. We quickly became world-class experts on how to avoid gluten.

Next we removed anything containing caseins, the protein found in dairy. This includes butter and yogurt. I loved cheese but I said good-bye to it as it is not worth feeling like I have the flu for a week if I get caseined.

Next came corn. Anything and everything that had corn in it was given away. Corn seems harder to avoid than the above two toxins (they are toxic to me and to as many as 144 million other Americans) because high fructose corn syrup and corn starch are added to anything that the preservative-loving food industry can think of to put it in. If they could inject into fruit and vegetables, they would have already done so.

Well I was feeling quite good, the best I had felt for years. Maybe even in a decade. Maybe even in two decades.

Then I started to feel like crap again. I was tired, grumpy, stinky and I had a very upset digestive tract. I looked again at every single thing I had been eating or drinking over the past few days. At first I suspected it could be rice, but I have been eating rice once or twice a week for months and never felt any reaction to it.

So I kept looking and finally got to my vitamins and minerals that I take every day. I am or was low in some very important vitamin levels so I am sure to take my vitamins and minerals every day. One pill I have to have is an iron pill but I had not been taking it for the past few weeks/months as the store ran out of the one brand I can tolerate well. I am hypothyroid, and that condition keeps trying to make me become anemic again. I believe that gluten and its good friends corn and dairy caused so much havoc in my body that I became hypothyroid. I get my blood tested every few months and if I don't take as many as 5 iron pills a day, my ferratin levels can slip below 20. A healthy woman should have a MINIMUM ferratin level of 70. Feeling anemic to me is the same as feeling hypothyroid and that feeling is much like being a slug with zero energy and just about as much interest in life.

I was feeling so sick today that I looked again at every single supplement I take . . . and there I found the cause of my sickness. The iron pills contain corn starch. The grocery store where I buy them had a new supply last week so I brought home three bottles and started taking iron pills again.

I threw them away, even though each bottle costs $9.

This long learning curve is literally killing me at a gut level. Now my body has to take the time it needs to heal my guts, yet again, thanks to the damage done by the iron pills that contain corn starch.

Some days I am really pissed off that so very much JUNK is put into our food supply. Today is one of those pissed off days.
Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Our Pet Food and Gluten

I am a dog lover from way back. I've always had dogs and always will have dogs in my life. I owe a lot to my dogs and I want them to have the best of the best of everything, from medical care to dog food.

We are currently feeding Nutro Holistic brand food to our five large dogs. Our smallest dog weighs 40 pounds. We have a brother and sister Border Collie pair, a Shiloh Shepherd, a Sheltie mix and a dog I named Monster, who appears to be part Irish Wolfhound and part Australian Shepherd. He was dumped out here in the country and he was quite the biter when he arrived, hence his name. I taught him that he didn't need to bite any more, though we have to watch him around some men he meets that he doesn't trust. I feel certain that some bozo man was mean to Monster when he was a puppy and Monster remembers it and thus he is always on guard around men he doesn't know.

I have been very concerned -- as are millions of pet owners -- about all of the news articles regarding tainted dog food. It makes me sick to even think about the caring dog owners who kept trying to get their dogs to eat more food but the dog was sick from that very food . . . but there was no way for the owner to know that until it was too late for the dog.

I am beginning to suspect that gluten may have some of the same negative effects in our dog's food that it has in ours. If it isn't good for our bodies, why would it be good for a dog's? We are seeing huge amounts of dogs with thyroid issues and aggression is on the rise as well. In fact, it is the number one problem dog owners face today nationwide. I have no doubt that irresponsible breeding and the vast puppy mills located everywhere but concentrated in places like Ohio and Pennsylvania contribute to the genetic mess that breeds aggression into dogs . . . but I also suspect gluten plays a role.

I am going to search for a high quality dog food that doesn't contain gluten. When I find it, I will let you know and feel free to drop me an email if you are already feeding your dog a gluten-free commercial feed.

Here is an article of interest: Las Vegas couple that ran ChemNutra sentenced to probation

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Sunday, February 7, 2010


What is ataxia? It is defined as a lack of coordination while performing voluntary movements, which may appear to be clumsiness, inaccuracy, or instability.

I have had ataxia in the past and I still have it from time to time. It manifested itself in me by making me unbalanced when I walked and I would literally smack right into walls. That would make me cuss and later, bruise. I am sure that the cussing wasn't gluten-induced. I just like to cuss. I had no idea why my balance was so off . . . . until I got myself educated on some of the harmful effects gluten can have on a person sensitive to it.

I know there are worse problems that can manifest in gluten sensitive people; for example, I could have developed schizophrenia, as my maternal grandmother Mimi did. All in all, I will take falling into walls over schizophrenia, and it is my bet that you would as well.

I have been off gluten (mostly -- I still get accidentally glutened now and again) for more than 10 months and I am happy to say that I have hit nary a wall in the past few months. I still can't pull socks on my foot without falling over . . . that one may be a life long side effect. It's okay though as I find socks to be a lot softer than walls.

I read the article below and I found it to be quite alarming. I always assumed that once I got on the straight and narrow and removed the harmful gluten (and dairy and corn) from my diet, most if not all of my gluten-related health issues would slowly begin to clear up. This article, "Research: Celiac's Connection with Neurological and Psychatric Symptoms," questions that theory.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Hamburger, French Fries and Pizza Kind of Day

Chips (BE), French fries (AE), French fried po...Image via Wikipedia
My husband and I live in Central Texas in a small town NW of Austin. We have 4 restaurants in our town but no one in them has even heard of gluten or caseins so we never eat there. The weather has been very much like living in Seattle lately and since we can't just hop in the truck and go to town for a meal out, we were feeling gloomy. The weather wasn't helping.

So we treated ourselves here at home. I have to count my blessings that my husband is an excellent cook and that he likes to cook. Good thing, too, because if I were in charge of our meals, peanut butter would be on the menu every time. Sometimes if I were feeling adventurous, I would add some celery stalks.

So my husband made us hamburgers with some EXCELLENT gluten-free hamburger buns plus organic, no preservative french fries for lunch. The buns are the best bread we have eaten since going gluten free. The brand name is Kinnikinnick Tabioca Rice Hamburger Buns. They are small so you don't have to have a total pig out and eat a huge, normal American-sized hamburger.

For dinner we some excellent pizzas topped with gobs of veggies; we didn't even miss the cheese. I found some wonderful, thin pizza crusts at Whole Foods. The brand name is Udi's and they are gluten, dairy, soy and nut free and they are delicious! We are going to make the crusts and use them like pita chips for dipping in hummus.

So if you are new to the world of eating gluten or dairy or corn free, keep your chin up and know we do have options . . . we just have to be more mindful of what we are eating and ultimately a whole lot healthier than your average American eater.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]