Food Fridays- Refugee Friends Made A Gluten Free Lunch for Me

One aspect of having Celiacs is the concern of eating at someone’s home. It can be a pain in the neck to explain what Celiacs is and what gluten free is. One thing I have found with my friends from other cultures is their willingness to make sure food is gluten free that they share with me.

With some cultures it is easier because wheat is not part of their normal diet as well as barley and rye. They cook food with fresh ingredients. I have found that with my Asian friends if I explain I cannot have soy sauce, they will make sure they do not use soy sauce. (Soy Sauce has gluten).

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That was true of my lunch yesterday with Karenni friends from Burma. Htoo, my hostess, cooked a delicious lunch and reassured me she did not use soy sauce. We had a dish made of bamboo shoots, curry beef, eggs with mushroom, chicken, and other delicious foods.

I even went home with some left overs which is ALWAYS a happy moment for me.

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I am glad the food was healthy and conducive to gluten free and also to weight loss. I needed that because, well, I went home with some gluten free chocolate cake last week that a student from Dominican Republic gave me.

 

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Gluten Free Dining/Sunday Lunch at Chopsticks Chinese Cuisine Restaurant

Anyone with Celiacs Disease experiences the apprehension about dining out because dining out can be too complicated. We have to ask questions about what is in the food. We constantly have to be careful and we should because as my mantra goes- IT IS YOUR BODY, IT IS YOUR HEALTH. It means a lot to me when I can talk with someone at a restaurant about my need for gluten free and they understand.

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This afternoon after church, I went to Chopsticks Chinese Restaurant to have lunch with a friend. I looked at their menu online, but wasn’t sure if they had gluten free items, so I called them last night and spoke with a woman. She understood about my need for gluten free and explained to me they do have some gluten free items. Why do I need to ask that before going to a Chinese restaurant? Soy Sauce has gluten in it. The woman I talked with let me know they have items without soy sauce.

SO– This afternoon I met a friend there. When I went to the counter to order, I told Maggie the owner I need gluten free. She remembered me from the phone and said, “Oh I talked with you last night.” She was very helpful about what I could order and could not order. I got the chicken with snow pea.

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The portion size was generous enough that I took some home. The food tasted good. I feel confident about going back there again. If you go there, you will find Maggie the owner to be very helpful and understanding about the need for gluten free.

Oh by the way, I have proof I can eat with chopsticks. The picture isn’t the best because the window was behind me, but here is proof I can eat with chopsticks.

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Food Fridays- Trying Gluten Free Snacks

If you are like me, when you hear words like organic or gluten free about snacks, you envision something that tastes like flavored this

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And yes there are some gluten free products that are kind of hard to chew or that make me wonder- WHY would anyone think of this?????

Some I have tried pleasantly surprised me. I have to say that as someone with Celiacs, I SO appreciate it when I go into a supermarket and see a gluten free aisle, not only a small section, but half an aisle like I found at a local HyVee supermarket where there were snacks, cereals, canned soups, gluten free pastas etc.

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Well, this week I tried an Acai/Blueberry snack bar from Glutino.

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And NO I am not a paid to advertise. Glutino doesn’t know me and doesn’t follow my blog or me on twitter, BUT I will give a shout out to a company that makes food for those of us that have Celiacs.

I thought it would be fun to make a video of myself trying the snack right out of the box for the first time for an authentic reaction. Here it is from my new youtube channel Celiacs Guy:

 

Is it really gluten free?

In a recent conversation I had with a woman who teaches in the school where I teach in the mornings, the topic of gluten free came up. She has a daughter who was recently diagnosed with Celiacs Disease.

Once a month at the school, there is a pot-luck lunch for the teachers. I stopped in and commented, “I came in to see food I can’t eat anymore” more as a joke with one of my colleagues. My colleague patted me on the shoulder and commented that Celiacs isn’t easy.

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That got the attention of the teacher whose daughter has Celiacs. She shared with me about her daughter and that her daughter still has symptoms after the family became gluten free. That introduced THE question for those of us with Celiacs. IS IT REALLY GLUTEN FREE??????

When she mentioned the name of one popular cereal that has gluten free on the front of the box, she didn’t have to say anything more. Of course I won’t mention the name of the cereal because I don’t want some corporate lawyer calling. However you can figure it out easily.

Gluten Free has become a bit of a fad for advertising. At first, I was misled by it until I met with a nutritionist at the gym I belong to. She explained that it has to be Certified Gluten Free. The light went on.

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I thought right away about the cereal I had still been eating that said Gluten Free on the front of the box. Then I googled it and found that it was not for sure Gluten Free, so I don’t buy that cereal anymore.

Now I look for one of the Certified Gluten Free symbols on the package before I even think about buying packaged food.

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Don’t fall for advertising gimmicks. Look for it to be Certified Gluten Free. It is YOUR health and YOUR body. If I have any doubt, I simply don’t buy it.

Celiacs- Getting Diagnosed/The Long and Winding Road

Dealing with any autoimmune problem can be puzzling when going through the process of getting diagnosed. At times it can feel like we are finding our way through a maze that keeps changing or putting together a jigsaw puzzle with hundreds of pieces..

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Of course I am not a doctor, and I don’t play one on TV, but I do have experience from the patients point of view, which if you are reading this, perhaps you are wondering if Celiacs is an issue for you.

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I have been through the maze of diagnosis twice for autoimmune issues. The first was hypothyroid in the 1990s and the second of course was for Celiacs. I think there are two crucial things for getting the diagnosis, 1- communicate with your doctor as a team working together, and 2- be your own advocate.

As I think back over the years, I think I had Celiacs for a long time, but the symptoms were not so severe. If I had GI tract problems, I figured it was because I was a bad cook, which I really am. The symptoms were becoming alarming for me in the fall of 2016 and even more so in the winter of 2017. I began having night sweats, my knees were swollen, I had rashes  or spots all over my body, I was fatigued etc etc.

One night I had leg pain so severe, it felt like I had a fracture or something, so I went to the ER. They told me I had shin splints and it felt like they thought it was in my head. I have had shin splints before, so I knew that wasn’t it.

2 weeks later my other leg started turning red and got all puffy while I was teaching my evening class. It got the point that I thought my leg would pop. I went to the ER after class, and they told me I had dermatitis and gave me antibiotics.

I went to my GP and told him I thought I needed to go to a rheumatologist. I have two siblings with psoriatic arthritis, so I thought the skin rashes and joint pain pointed to that. He told me I didn’t have psoriatic arthritis, but he did x-ray my knee and told me I need to see an orthopedic specialist. I asked why I have pain everywhere if I did not have psoriatic arthritis. He suggested let’s start with the ortho doc. By this point I felt like screaming- I AM NOT CRAZY!!! I HAVE PAIN EVERYWHERE!!! But I didn’t yell.

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The ortho doc told me I didn’t need knee replacement yet, but we needed to find out what was causing my pain. He referred me to a rheumatologist.

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At the rheumatologist, she listened to me for about a half hour or more asking questions and then told me to just talk. When I said, “I don’t know why when I eat Triscuits my feet swell up. It happened in May, so I wondered if it was the sodium, but I ate a lot of potato chips and nothing happened, then I ate Triscuits again, and my feet swelled up again. (Please understand I am not against Triscuits and if i didn’t have Celiacs would still eat them today). When I said that, she looked up from her laptop at me, paused, and then entered something in her laptop.

She ordered up tests. I had almost everything except my hair x-rayed. I had five vials of blood drawn for several blood tests. She also sent me to a dermatologist to be checked for psoriasis where they did a biopsy. By the time all was finished this was what I felt like.

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But I am SO GLAD she had me go through all of the tests BECAUSE autoimmune is a complex issue. There are many issues that can mimic each other. We as patients have to be patient, play on word intended, in the process of getting the diagnosis. On July 31st, I had the call from the rheumatologist’s office letting me know I had tested postive for Celiacs from the Tissue Transglutaminase Antibodies (tTGIgA) test.

I had the answer. It wasn’t what I was expecting. But enduring the labyrinth of doctors, 7 of them, tests- MANY TESTS, I had the answer.

SO- Please communicate with your doctor. Even small things we say can tell a doctor a lot such as when I told the rheumatologist about my feet swelling but only when I ate Triscuits. Keep track of and write down your symptoms so you don’t forget things when you are at the doctor’s office.

ALSO- Be your own advocate. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and to ask to be referred.

After all, it is your body and your life!!!

 

Celiacs Disease My Personal Trainer? Am I Crazy?

The name for my blog could perhaps cause some to wonder if I am a bit crazy. However, the name comes from a conversation I had with some friends from South Korea that are living in my city, Lincoln Nebraska. I had not seen them over the summer of 2017. In fact the last time I saw them, I looked like this.

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For years, I could not lose weight. I kept bloating up. I would eat sandwiches made with 100% whole wheat thinking that was healthy, which for most people it is but not for someone with Celiacs. I would eat fast food about every other day. A few times I mentioned to my doctor that I didn’t understand why I would gain four pounds after eating 2 slices of pizza and an iced tea with no sugar from Vals to Go.

July 31st, 2017, I received a call from a rheumatologist I had seen with the news. My blood test came back and I had tested positive for Celiacs Disease. Over the summer, I had managed to avoid white flour because I thought I had a form of arthritis and read that white flour causes inflammation, but after my diagnosis for Celiacs, I had to go gluten free meaning ZERO gluten.

It was an adjustment to COMPLETELY change how I eat, but pain is a great motivator. More on that in my next posting.

Well, after being gluten free for a while, I look like this.

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You can see the difference in my face. I have lost 50 pounds so far.

So how does that relate to the name of my blog that might make you think I am a bit crazy?

I was having lunch with my friends from Korea in their home.

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I SO appreciated that they cooked with gluten free soy sauce, yes regular soy sauce has gluten in it, sadly BEWARE of Sushi.dog-face-labrador-smile-407082.jpeg

As we were eating lunch, Jee Hee the wife commented about how different I look since I lost weight. I shared with them that I had to change how I eat because of Celiacs and a positive is that I can lose weight now.

Jee Hee used google translate to find the words Personal Trainer and smiled at me and said, “So Celiacs is your Personal Trainer.”

We all had a good laugh and that stuck with me. Celiacs is no joke, but if we approach it right, there are benefits for our health. For me, a BIG one is finally being able to lose weight. I hope to lose another 50 pounds. I plan to continue learning more about healthy eating for someone with Celiacs. I am no expert, but will share what I learn as I am on this journey.

I am trying to keep the attitude that Celiacs is teaching more me about health and fitness. Not that I will be running in a 5K or anything like that, but feeling better and being more healthy is worth it.