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Under The Influence…

Stocked up with all of our new favorites from Trader Joes.  Love the tea tree tingle shower wash and my new favorite is the stir-fry frozen veggie mix!

Stocked up with all of our new favorites from Trader Joes. Love the tea tree tingle shower wash and my new favorite is the stir-fry frozen veggie mix!

My husband made it home last week, with a slight deviation from where he should have landed.  Regardless, he was happy to be home!  We picked up his vehicle (2 hours away) a few days later.

An excuse to go to “the city” and refill our food stock was in the plan… as was a trip to Chick-fil-a for the kids.

I know, fast food isn’t good for us.  It doesn’t matter if it’s salad, and fruit… and the waffle fries… wow.  They’re really good.  Chick-fil-a is usually really great about not cross contaminating our food.

I usually order a salad, but because I can’t have dairy – they custom make it, from scratch.

Well, my salad was brought to me and it was the wrong salad.  No big deal, they would get the right one.

Then they brought me the right salad type, but with cheese… again I reminded the server (who appeared to be management on duty, though I had never seen him at this one before), and he said, “No problem”.

What my sons heard him say, and what I missed him saying was…”We’ll just take that cheese off of there.”

BIG mistake.

I’m not sure who made this salad, or who took the cheese off – but I got glutenated in a big way.

Unfortunately I also had to drive home as the increasingly debilitating effects kicked in.

First we had to drive to the airport – and I fell asleep on the way there.  It’s never a good sign you fall asleep immediately after a meal…

I took some tumeric when we got to the airport – this usually helps me, but the “slight dusting” seemed to have the head shaking qualities of a major effect… I was ready to drive.

Things went from bad to worse pretty rapidly, and I focused on staying awake, and being able to see.

Haloing of the headlights coming towards me, headache and eye swelling were among the first effects.  I was just. so sleepy.

I turned my AC down… and then again… and then again.  I was holding steady at 63 degrees in the car, and lots of talking to my kids to keep me on task.

I shook my head a lot in desperate attempt to refocus and stay awake.

After 2 hours we arrived at home and I just hurt everywhere.

The joint pain, brain fog and eye swelling pain continues 4 days later, although I know it’s getting better.  My digestive system completely stopped working as if someone poured cement into my stomach.

I countered this with fresh juices, warm Braggs and lemon water, spinach smoothies and Kombucha.  I needed this out of my system – as I could tell it wasn’t moving on its own!

How soon do you think I’ll be eating at Chick-fil-a again?  This is why eating out can be so dangerous.

This server’s “quick fix” made my body drop down a few notches.

I know.  I shouldn’t have been driving in that condition.

I knew we needed our vehicle home – and I had 2 children with me.  My husband, in our big van, had the other 6.  Options were nonexistent and I knew freaking anyone out wasn’t going to get us home faster.

I was more than upset when we returned home, and emotionally exhausted.  Everything hurt.

Frustrated with the server, with people who “forget” that this is a major issue… not a fad.  For my body – which is at this point, can have reactions like that, which last like they do.

In my quiet time with God that night … He spoke to me with a reminder that MY inadequacy presents me with a continual choice – to depend on Him, or live in despair.

I choose to depend on Him.

A grateful heart is what protects us from negative thinking.  I need to be thankful for this opportunity for constant dependence on God, and His plans in all things.

I have to keep doing all I can to share with others, who are willing to listen, why gluten is so dangerous and why protecting the health for your gut is essential!

Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.

Colossians 4:2

Gluten Free Party-Time!

One of my children showing off her trike riding skills at our GLUTEN-FREE Olympics party this weekend.

Every year we try to host some type of party for our children’s home schooling friends.

We don’t do really big parties for our children’s birthdays…. instead – this is it.

In recent years we had a pizza party.  People brought sides and dessert.  EASY!

Uh oh.

I knew I couldn’t make pizza and have it hot and ready for 70 people…. and I wasn’t going to glutenate my kitchen, or my family in the process.

SO…  plan B.

I procrastinated…

and procrastinated.

This year, with it being the Olympics, we knew we needed to try and have our Olympic themed party.  There were lots of great ideas out there…

Cute treats, decor, games and fun…

But as the time kept passing,  and my body (that has been so tired) – wasn’t responding to call of getting things done.  (I knew that wasn’t normal)

I love parties.  I love parties for my kids… and I LOVE making things fun.  Themes and gift bags are a must!

I’ve had absolutely no energy to get up and get going.

I waited and waited before emailing out the date and information that we planned months ago before school started.

Then I drug my feet all week about doing things for the party.  We didn’t even get our big Olympics sign made, that we planned on doing all week…  and half of the balloons didn’t make it outside the day of the party because I ran out of gas the day of the party.  {All minor things in the grand scheme… but a feeling of “failure” swept over me.  Why do we do that to ourselves, as parents?}

Thankfully only my kids knew I hadn’t done a few things… but in my mind there was a whole huge list of things that weren’t done the way I wanted them done.

It drove me crazy.

So, we did it… we HAD the party – but I felt like the planning was about a C effort from me, at best.

Once we decided on what we could do for food – I did feel better…. but I didn’t move faster with my plans.  I ended up having to pay for extra shipping to get our prizes and things here before the party.  I don’t like it when I make costly mistakes.  (Who does, really?)

We had everyone bring their own sandwiches, and we provided the gluten-free food – fruit, veggies, salads, desserts!

Everything went great and God was awesome – it was a perfect night (weather-wise!) and no one was majorly hurt… Just ONE minor detail.

I forgot to educate all of our friends how important it is to keep THEIR food and crumb filled hands –  away from the food table.  Mainly – their BREAD.

I gasped, and held my breath as I watched people either waiting in line and eating their sandwiches, or holding their plate over the food as they touched the serving dishes to their plates.

*passing out*

While most people, who don’t understand celiac disease – might think this is over board… {crumbs touching or falling off into the food}… cross contamination is a very serious issue to us, and will make someone highly sensitive very sick.

Just their crumb filled hands grabbing into the gluten-free chip bags… or the serving spoon brushing up against their sandwich.

I did have other food (not yet served), and my kids had already been through the line… but I took a mental note to better educate everyone next year before dinner is served.

Don’t assume everyone understands, or will understand the seriousness and complications of your condition.  I realize it’s hard to speak up – that’s one reason why I didn’t say anything, I don’t want people to either A) feel attacked or B) feel guilty … It’s such a hard place to be in!   As you have opportunity, take the time to educate people to protect yourself.  Your friends and loved ones will be glad you did.

“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.”

Psalm 46:1

NOW Do You Feel Better?

Need some great ideas for gluten-free snacks while traveling? Here are a few of our family’s favorites with the usual fruits and veggies!

My husband came home from work last week and said he ran into someone who was inquiring about my health.  It’s always awkward for either my husband or I to discuss all of this with someone who a) has no understanding of celiac disease or b) really doesn’t want to listen to what it all entails, but has every answer for you.

“All those changes you’ve made to her diet, and she still isn’t well?” he asked.

I shook my head when he told me this… and I’m sure my husband couldn’t help finding himself a bit defensive.

Auto. Immune. Disease.

Eating gluten-free for someone with years of undetected celiac disease doesn’t suddenly = health.

Don’t we wish!

It has gotten rid of the neuropathy, and the chronic left side pain – several things have improved.  Other foods however, have caused gut inflammation – because my body confuses it as gluten.  I know my body is absorbing vitamins better – my finger nails are growing – but my hair still falls out in droves.  I also know every time I’m glutenated again – it’s another assault on the gut and a step in the wrong direction.

This isn’t some quick-fix trick.  Especially when your body has been battling something for so long.  It might be tolerating things for a long while, and once it’s trying to heal a leaky gut – things you never realized were a problem, are a real issue.  The fact that I was having the neuropathy I was, is a sign things were going right into my bloodstream.

Frustrating?

Majorly.

Even more difficult to explain to someone else?

YES.

Sometimes I just don’t want to talk about it.

Sometimes I’m hurt that other people don’t get it, or even try to.

I know most people just want to help and they want to say something encouraging.  They just don’t know what to say.

“Hey, such and such restaurant has a gluten-free menu.” they say.

I smile and nod while thinking.. “Awesome.  Well… I can’t EAT there, because ‘gluten-free menu’ doesn’t equate into the level of sensitivity I have with cross contamination and they’re TERRIBLE about preparation. A dusting or one crumb makes me sick for a long time.  REALLY sick.”

If I actually SAID THAT, I would get the look of 5 horns growing out of my head.

Do I want to go from feeling perfectly great – to terrible for days/weeks for one meal out?

NO.

Do I never want to be invited out again?  Definitely no.

So much for feeling normal.

No wonder people can become depressed for avoiding social situations.  It’s draining trying to explain things to people who don’t understand, and aren’t willing to listen – and then trying to figure out how to appear normal.

What person in their RIGHT MIND would like that, or do that on purpose?

Thank you.  No one would.

But I also know, that being healthy right now, is way more important than testing the waters “just because” or what have you, when I can simply plan ahead.

This is when I really grab ahold of God – and His Word and promises.

We live to glorify Him.

He understands us, because He made us.  He understands our hurts, our frustrations, and battles.  BIG or small.

When we went to Iowa a few weeks ago, I actually did really well – not eating grains, and being extra careful to not order any food that might be cross contaminated. With the exception of our last eat out, on the way home.  I gave in and had pizza.  I now get it – gluten-free pizza (outside of the home) is a TERRIBLE choice for me.  Just too many chances for cross contamination.  Even my husband and kids got sick on that one.

If in doubt, it’s best for me to go without.  I go without a lot.  I’m not saying that to complain – it’s just what works best right now, so I’d rather go without.

It’s an adjustment.

Maybe my gut will heal sooner than later.  Our bodies are amazing creations.

I definitely have more good days, than bad – and it’s nothing like it was.  That’s progress.

Right now I just try to focus on keeping my family eating healthy – in hopes that they won’t ever get to where I am.  It drives me, and keeps me extra thankful to God.

What generations of family would have appreciated to know.  Thankfully, we do!

Praise be to God.

** If you struggle with celiac, gluten issues or leaky gut – stay tuned I have a great book to share with you soon that you won’t want to miss!

“Therefore I will give thanks to You, O Lord, among the Gentiles,
And sing praises to Your name.”

2 Samuel 22:50

Cross Contamination? It Happens.

A burrito bowl from Chipotle! A little brown rice, some black beans, pico, and veggies and lettuce… what could have gone wrong?

What IS cross contamination?

It can mean a few different things actually…

#1 – When you have a gluten intolerance, it can mean something else that acts “like a gluten” in your system.  Those “Cross Contaminates” cause similar effects (to what gluten does) in your body.  The proteins look “similar enough” to gluten – to your system – and your T-cells can attack them, like they would gluten…making you sick, and causing inflammation.  This is why sometimes people STILL don’t feel well when they remove only gluten.  It’s because they have other “Cross Contaminates” acting like gluten in their bodies.  When they have a leaky gut – those CC often go right into their blood stream – causing major issues, as you might imagine.  Often times the CC is lactose or casein, but it can be a whole host of others… for me, it was roasted things – coffee and nuts, as well as corn. (Corn technically does have a gluten, because it’s grain, and it is a confirmed inflammatory in the system.  It’s just not one of the ones celiacs are specifically to avoid.).  Trying to avoid corn and gluten isn’t the easiest task in the world – but I do feel so much better when I’m NOT on those things.  That includes (sniff) my dear, sweet potato chips.

#2 – It can be when you are having a “gluten-free” meal – at a restaurant or away from your gluten-free kitchen, and some wheat, barley, rye flour get in whatever it is you’ve ingested.  This is why “gluten-free” meals that are in restaurants without “gluten-free kitchen training”  can be very misleading and dangerous to those who have severe gluten intolerance.

Take me for example.  I excitedly went to Chipotle for the first time last week.  Yes – as in, the first time… EVER in my life.

I ordered a completely gluten-free dish.

They have pretty good practices at Chipotle for persons with celiac disease/gluten intolerance.

No flour should have been around my food… but….

I ended up sick.  

As I recalled what might have happened in the process – here is what I see could have gone wrong:

A server – takes off his gloves, washes his hands – and replaces his gloves.  Grabs my bowl (should have grabbed one from the bottom), and then puts my food in… while he’s grabbing the spoons full of food – this “clean” gloves are grabbing spoons that have been touched by gloves covered in”flour”.  Then they grab some tongs to get my lettuce out, and I notice the other server – grabbing lettuce with her hands.  OBVIOUSLY not a good practice as now the lettuce is all contaminated.

I’m not sure what’s more unsettling.  That something that tasted so good made me so sick, OR that I ate it to days in a row… so what my husband convinced me was “just fatigue” half way into the first day, built into a nasty swelling cycle that night after I consumed MORE – with major  bloating, pain, muscle and joint pain as well as neuropathy.  I wish I could explain the brain shaking feeling – but it’s scary enough, I really hope no one knows what I’m talking about!  I looked like I’m 5 months pregnant again – and the pain the days after are not pleasant.  Focused thinking/talking is about impossible.

Please, be careful out there.  I know it’s crazy that such a “little bit”, basically a dusting – can make one SO sick… but that’s honestly why I want those who are gluten sensitive to really consider their continued exposure to gluten CAN and will do to your system.  Some of the reactions you will see and feel (like mine) and some you won’t know until it’s too late.  I’m not sure which is worse – but it’s why gluten intolerance is such serious business if you’re genetically predisposed to a reaction.

Do I want to live in a bubble?  Obviously not.  I’m really TRYING.  But I’d be lying if I said it’s not a tad bit aggravating when I get knocked down like that.  Who has a few days a week to just toss out to worthlessness, and fatigue, grouchiness and pain?

Exactly – ME neither.

Back to my Aleve!  We have school starting TODAY – and we had a fun scavenger hunt to kick off our new year.  The children are EXCITED.  Gotta keep moving and SMILE!  THIS is the day the LORD has made – I am GLAD for that.

Have a great week!

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, 

whenever you face trials of many kinds, 

because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.  

Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete,

not lacking anything.”

James 1:2-4

What Does Being Glutenated Mean?

What does it mean to be glutenated?  Well, the answer varies for all people and all situations…. and it’s not excluded to people with FULL BLOWN celiac disease, although I’d say the symptoms are strong and more noticeable the more your body is broken down from gluten intolerance.

That’s the thing with gluten intolerance.  It shows up as varying things inside your body – depending on the part it’s destroying, so it looks different on different people.  When one shares their symptoms and they look completely different from someone else, it doesn’t mean they aren’t caused by the same thing.

That is not to belittle the symptoms one has before it reaches the point of celiac disease…  believe me, I understand completely – since I have it.  However, for those who have major symptoms – {that aren’t GI noticeable or may seem unrelated}… the effects are STILL very much life threatening, and life altering.  When something like gluten can affect all systems of the body – the outcomes are endless.

I used to call myself the “one in a million” girl – because I had health issues that seemed… well, one in a million.  The only people who came close to such oddities, was my family.  Ironic huh?  But our health issues were ALL so different.  No way would I relate them as caused by the same thing… until this year.  Now you’d have a very hard time convincing me otherwise.

It was as if it finally clicked why my niece sounded so much like me, and now my daughter… and connecting the dots just continued on.  So the answer seemed easy.  Avoid eating gluten – and voila!

I wish it were “that simple”.

Add in cross contaminates, stressful social situations, and explaining your issues to others…. not to mention this is an auto immune disease – and your kids need their guts healed too…

God is good to fill us up and gives us strength during the times when it feels like everything is out of control.

The problem we have now is, trying to figure out when we’ve been glutenated… so we can try to avoid whatever it was!  On the good days, I feel SO great… so when I get sick again – it’s pretty frustrating… and as a mother, it’s tough to watch your kids struggle too.

Last weekend my husband and I enjoyed a “day date,” as we like to call them.  We went out to a steakhouse chain that we went to the last time we had a day date.  The first time was an awesome experience, complete with a waiter who saw our “GLUTEN-FREE” menu, and announced HE had celiac, as well as “his whole family”…  so I knew right away he “got” me.  Unfortunately – this time, the waiter we had got the gluten-free menu for my husband… then asked if we wanted bread.

*Come again?*

I wasn’t at the table at this time, but when I returned my husband shared his concern regarding the waiter’s knowledge on the matter.  The menu stated to review with your waiter that the meal needed to be made “separately” … salad in separate containers, etc. to avoid cross contamination… but clearly this guy didn’t have any knowledge of the seriousness of celiac, nor did he seem to know what gluten was.

When the waiter returned, I asked him if he understood my gluten-free needs for celiac disease, and he stated… “Yes, no gluten – right?”  I answered, that was correct – and followed up with the reminder that my food needed to be fixed separately as the menu stated.  {My face was flush – I HATED doing that.}  He nodded as if he got it, but I did NOT have confidence in the situation based on his body language.  My husband assured me he was just laid back.  (Where was that OTHER waiter who had celiac disease – I wanted HIM back!!!)

My husband asked if I wanted to cancel our order and leave… and my mind may have wanted to – but I decided to take a deep breath, pray over the situation and have a positive attitude about it.  Each meal out is a learning experience.

When the food came, and it looked good.  It tasted good.

We went off to Target and it wasn’t long before my stomach started not feeling good.  I shook it off that night and went right to bed.  The following day I felt like I had the flu… mentally, I felt like I was there, but I was just so tired… lethargic.

I could have slept all day starting at about 10am, as we rushed to get everyone to church. Late.  That isn’t a good sign.  Monday I wasn’t as tired, but my other issues started in.  When the inflammation kicks in – it doesn’t seem to matter what I eat… I bloat and feel ill.  I just try to eat less – drink lots of water, take Aleve, smile and workout.  Tuesday was more of the same, and by Wednesday I was feeling closer to normal.

We ate somewhere else Wednesday in celebration of the 4th… and again, the food was good and was gluten-free food – but Thursday I woke up with a sore in my mouth and felt really tired again.  I had decided it was probably still from Saturday and I needed to push on… then I had my breathing spell. (Which has a name: Costochondritis), and when I had that for 30 minutes, my oldest son told me HE woke up in the night with it too…. so I started realizing I possibly got RE-glutenated on Wednesday.

About that time my 5 year old was having stomach issues (during dinner)… and my 9-year-old confessed her stomach hurt a lot last night too and my 8-year-old showed me a new sore in his mouth (not realizing I had one too).

I digress…

So you see, being glutenated from cross contamination IS a problem.  You can have “gluten free” food – but when it’s not in a 100% gluten-free environment, it can be a real problem.

We obviously can’t live in a bubble… but it’s so very hard to want to eat away from home when the result can stick with you for days – sometimes a week, and obviously the inflammation can do more damage – longer, depending on the amount.  NO one wants to feel like that, or have their children feel ill much of the time… but that can be VERY hard to explain to people you love.

I think it’s time to order dining cards… so I can feel more empowered to either A) Speak with the manager before my meal is made and B) Help educate the wait-staff that this isn’t a diet fad, it’s essential for my health.

I’m not a quiet person – I wish this wasn’t so hard for me.

The gluten-free snack above was just bananas and apples cut up and topped with gluten-free/dairy-free chocolate sauce, and seeds/fruit from the ENJOY LIFE brand.  The kids thought this snack rocked the house.  Just a friendly reminder if you’re doing a pack with Scriptures to help keep you on track – SCHOOL supplies are out at stores… and it’s a great time to stock up on things like bound index cards and colorful notebooks!

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

Joshua 1:9

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