Mental Health Mondays- Automimmune/ Maintaining

Living with autoimmune can be a challenge when it comes to maintaining what we need to do. I have to admit sometimes I just don’t want to deal with it. For me, exercise helps me feel better as I cope with arthritis, but sometimes I just plain want to sit and veg out. However, every time I do my water exercise in the aqua track, I feel better.

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When it comes to Celiacs, staying on top of things is easier as far as avoiding gluten. The challenge for me is I am a terrible cook. I have adopted a policy of no more processed foods for me at all at this time, not even certified gluten free foods. I am trying to live with no grains, not even rice hoping it can help heal my gut.

Living with autoimmune can be a constant drag on us emotionally and mentally. The problem is always there like a house guest that won’t get the hint to leave. Prayer and listening to worship music help me more than anything for not letting myself go down into depression.

There are also the reasons I deal with it and take care of myself as I live with autoimmune. My reasons are my students and the people I serve in my ministry. Working with refugees who have been through MUCH worse than I have puts my problems in perspective. My refugee and immigrant friends are my motivation to stay healthy, so I can be there for them.

What ideas do you have about pressing on through autoimmune?

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Weight Check Showed Me Specific Carb Diet Is Working

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I had wondered why I gained a few pounds after eating gluten free snacks if my calorie intake did not increase. I am not an expert, but my theory is that my body can’t digest some foods at this time gluten free or not. My caloric intake is the same as before. I am not starving myself to lose weight, but in the past week I lost five pounds.

It has a lot do to with increasing veggies and fruit in my eating.

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For example, this morning I had an egg with some cheese and also a banana and blueberries with organic unsweetened peanut butter. So I got my protein and fruit to start my day. 🙂

As I said yesterday, the great thing about the produce aisle is that I do not need to worry about looking for a certified gluten free label.

So based on week one results, I plan to continue the Specific Carb diet for another week. I hope to lose more weight preferably a few pounds for a healthy pace. I hope to lose 50 pounds overall over the next several months.

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Food Fridays- The Produce Aisle

 

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One week of the Specific Carb diet, meaning no grains, no gluten free snacks, I am rediscovering the joys of the produce aisle.

The thought struck me today how the Specific Carb Diet is similar to something God said in Genesis:

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“29 Then God said, “I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food.”

The main difference being that grains come from seed bearing plants, but omit those and the fruit and veggies are part of the original nutritional guide. No I am not vegan. I still eat meat and cheese, but surely there will be benefits from increasing my veggie and fruit intake.

One thing I love about buying fresh fruit and vegetables is that I do not have to worry about looking for a certified gluten free symbol.

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My late night snack of certified gluten free oatmeal and milk has been replaced by a banana and organic unsweetened peanut butter. For my early evening meal, I no longer use gluten free pasta made from brown rice. I add more vegetables and along with the meat or beans, it fills me up. I am going to give the Specific Carb Diet another week to see if I start to feel benefits from it.

If you haven’t tried it yet, try eating organic fruit and see if it doesn’t taste better to you. 🙂

Later today I will go to the gym and have my weekly weight check. Will let you know how that goes and how life on the Specific Carb Diet goes.

Oh and by the way, my favorite fruit for this time of year- Organic Apples. What is your favorite fruit?

 

 

 

 

 

Considering The Specific Carb Diet

I enjoy reading other blogs and also learning from them. I fact if I really like a blog, I will follow it from all three of my blogs, encounterswiththeancients.com, jesusluvsall.wordpress.com, and this blog. One such blog is beautybeyondbones . I appreciate how she shares her faith and how God led her through recovery from both eating disorders and also an autoimmune problem- ulcerative colitis. She has mentioned something many times that I hadn’t heard of before- The Specific Carb Diet. So I decided to check out the book she recommends:

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So I received the book from amazon.com after ordering it through a link on her blog, a little thing but want to show support, and read it. As I read it, I had a few oh ohs. The author, Elaine Gottschall,  mentioned oatmeal even gluten free oatmeal. I have been eating certified gluten free oatmeal at night with another no no from the book- milk. One other no no that would be hard for me is rice. The reason rice would be difficult is because the cultures I spend time with eat rice with almost every lunch and dinner, so when I visit, there will be rice.

The thinking behind the Specific Carb Diet is that there are carbs easier for us to digest and those that are difficult for us to digest. I know that is an oversimplification, but just wanted the share the general gist of it. That by eating those foods that are easier for our bodies to digest, we can heal our gut.

Healing my gut is a concern for me the more I understand about the damage Celiacs does to our bodies. So I am going to try the Specific Carb Diet and see if it helps. I have been gluten free for eight months, but still feel I could improve more.

That meant when I went to the store the other day, I did not buy gluten free pasta I like that is made of brown rice, certified gluten free oatmeal, or any of the certified gluten free snacks. At first I thought YIKES.

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But after afew days, I think I can make a go of it. Now if I could only figure out how to cook recipes shared on beautybeyondbones 🙂

I will share more about it either way, if it helps me, or not. But I appreciate learning more from other blogs such as beautybeyondbones.

Hope you have a bless Monday.,

Food Fridays- Dinner with Friends from Syria

Yesterday I had the privilege of visiting some friends from Syria and joining them for dinner. I won’t use their names or pictures because they came here as refugees and I want to respect their privacy.

Something I appreciate about eating food from the Middle East is that so much of it is gluten free because they do not use bread or pasta as much as we do in the West. Rice is more popular in their cultures and they don’t use breading for all fried foods like we do.

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I like how the wife cooked the rice adding almond slices and the way she seasoned the chicken. We also had dolma.

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One thing I have learned about visiting friends from the Middle East for lunch or dinner is to not eat much during the day before you go. Yesterday I only had two eggs for breakfast because I knew what would happen. The hospitality is wonderful and they want guests to feel welcome. The wife filled my plate three times. 🙂

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It was an enjoyable time with delicious gluten free food. It also gave me a chance to find out what is going on in their lives and what they might need help with.

I am curious what are some of your favorite gluten free meals or foods? Please share by leaving a comment.

Have a great weekend and remember- It is your body/It is your health.

Gratitude while living with Autoimmune/Celiacs- Brigadeiro

Living with any autoimmune problem can be taxing on our minds. We live with pain, changed lifestyles, and doctors doctors doctors. It can be easy to get down, feel down, and let ourselves stay down. It helps me to think about things I am grateful for even little things. For example, this week I am grateful brigadeiro is gluten free and for my friend Angelita who gives me brigadeiro sometimes.

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Brigadeiro is a Brazilian chocolate treat. It is made with a few ingredients, sweetened condensed milk. cocoa powder, and butter. The butter is melted in the sweetened condensed milk as it is brought to a boil and then the cocoa powder is stirred in. It can be eaten after it is chilled with a spoon or it can be rolled into little balls.

I tried to learn to make it myself, but the rolling part was not something I could master. It was fun to try such as in the picture of me rolling brigadeiro with my friend Paty in her home in Brazil. The best part was, of course, eating the brigadiero.

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Brigadeiro is part of Brazilian culture. If I want to get a Brazilian friend to smile, I only need to say brigadeiro. My Brazilian friends mean a lot to me and so does sharing in the cultures of my international friends. Because brigadeiro is gluten free, I can still share that part of Brazilian culture with my friends. For that I am grateful 🙂

 

 

Food Fridays- Dolma Thanks to a Refugee Friend

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Wednesday evening after I finished teaching my class, a former student told me she had some food for me. She was my student in a newcomer refugee class last summer and she happens to be an excellent cook. The food she brought me was dolma. Anytime I eat her food, it is a kind of celebration for my taste buds.

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Last year after I found out I have Celiacs one of my concerns was explaining about my need to be gluten free to my friends from other countries. One day I visited my friend’s house to see the whole family and bring some vegetables from a garden at my church. They asked me to stay and my friend cooked some food and told me, “No wheat” to let me know she made it in a way I could eat it. I realized that day that many of my international friends would be happy to help me with my need to be gluten free.

When I ate the dolma Thursday, I thought about my friend and her family and the dolma tasted SO GOOD. It brought a smile to my face.

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Dolma is a dish that is easily made gluten free since the ingredients are rice, vegetables, and seasonings. There are various ways to make it- with grape leaves, with onions, with tomatoes, with green peppers etc. You can google for recipes. Dolma can be not only gluten free, but also vegetarian or even vegan.

The great thing about food I eat with my friends from other countries is that so much of it is already gluten free especially food from the Middle East. And as I said, so many of my friends from other countries want to help me stay gluten free.

Now if I could just decide if I should shave off my beard for summer. I don’t know.

Happy Weekend All

Celiacs Has Taught Me I Eat to Live, I Don’t Live to Eat

Many years ago while I was recovering from the effects of hypothyroidism, that left me with lost memory among other issues, a normal response could have been why me. I realized I could have gotten hung up on the whys. Why couldn’t the doctors have found this sooner? Why did I have to leave the school where I was studying for the ministry because of this? etc etc

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But the questions I tried to focus on were the whats. Lord, what do you want to show me? What do you want me to do now?

Anytime we struggle with an illness the whys are normal and understandable questions. The problem is that if we focus too much on the whys, they can lead to depression and despair. Those early years after I found out I had hypothyroid and dealt with the effects on my life I focused on the whats. I realize hypothyroid is not a serious illness- IF IT IS CAUGHT EARLY. The problem for me was it wasn’t diagnosed until things had gotten deathly serious.

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So I have tried to focus on the what questions with Celiacs too. Last year as I was dealing with pain, skin rashes, and other symptoms my prayer would be Lord what do you want me to do today. As I went from doctor to doctor I would ask Jesus, “What do you want to do through me?” Of course I would ask Jesus-“What is wrong with me?

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The blessing of my what questions is they lead me to understanding. The blessing of finding out I have Celiacs is that it has forced me to reexamine what I eat, to be vigilant about what I put into my body.

Before Celiacs I would eat fast food, which is not really food, four or five times a week. Now that I know I have Celiacs, fast food is gone from my life. No longer do I eat at McDonalds, Burger King, Pizza Hut, Subway etc.

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Late night snacking is gone too. Healthier eating habits have replaced the bad habits I had. Now the produce aisle, organic is better, has become my favorite aisle in the supermarket. Part of that is my sense of taste improved dramatically since I became gluten free.

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So a lesson Celiacs has taught me is that I eat to live, I don’t live to eat. The benefit? A healthier and smaller me. So call me crazy, I am grateful to have Celiacs.

When living with autoimmune, Don’t forget why we keep going.

Last year was the second time I went through the unwanted experience of struggling with health issues because of autoimmune problems. Fortunately, Celiacs is one that is not as serious as other autoimmune diseases like lupus or MS. But the symptoms for me were severe until I found out and became gluten free. During the months before diagnosis I went through the maze of doctor appointments and testing.

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The first time I went through autoimmune problems, symptoms, doctors, and testing was in 1993 to 1995. By the time the cause was discovered, I was heading to heart, kidney, and live failure. The test results were dismal. For example, my cholesterol was 413. Fortunately, it was a simple autoimmune problem to manage. I found out I have hypothyroidism, so I take a pill each day.

Both times I tried not to focus on just myself, but instead, on my calling to serve others as a teacher and in ministry. Last year as I went through the months of pain, skin rashes, and other issues related to Celiacs, what kept me going was the thought of my students.

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The picture above is of me sitting in front of a calendar my students made in my morning class. It is a class of moms I teach in the mornings at the school where their children go. They come to learn English, so they can help their children. Living with the pain before diagnosis getting out of bed was not something I enjoyed, but it was the thought of ‘my moms’ as I call my students that got me out of bed.

I didn’t tell them anything. The focus is on them and their needs not on me. So the classroom still had laughter, learning, and community. I didn’t tell them until we returned in September after I was diagnosed. I only told them because sometimes we have food days and I wanted to explain that there are foods I cannot eat anymore.

What keeps you going as you live with autoimmune problems?

Mental Health Mondays- Exercise Has Helped

Last May I began physical therapy for a bad knee. The therapy was in the water in an aqua track at Madonna Proactive in my home city Lincoln. I have to admit at first I was not really into it, but I wanted to try to avoid surgery, so I went and did my best. The picture is of the actual aqua track.

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For therapy, I would do two laps into the current, two laps with the current behind my back, one lap backward, one lap sideways, and then go into the center for some exercises.

After therapy was finished, I joined the gym to continue exercising. I would do about ten laps and then the exercises, BUT- something happened.

After I became gluten free last August, my energy level improved. One day as I was walking I felt I could go longer, and lo and behold, I went 20 laps. So I did 20 laps each time for a few weeks and then one day I went 30. I read on the sign that 43 laps equaled one mile, so I hoped to reach 43. One week after going 30, I kept going because I felt good and I hit 50. With nasty gluten out of my body, my energy level and stamina for exercise improved.

What does that have to do with Mental Health Mondays? I don’t think I need to quote experts because it is common knowledge by now that exercise benefits us by reducing stress, increasing oxygen flow to the brain etc etc. The reason I am writing about exercise today is the light goes on while I walk.

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I get ideas when I exercise. I started writing again, short stories, drama pieces, and blogs. Ideas come to me while I am walking in the aqua track. As a creative person, I cannot express enough what that means to me now that the foggy brain of Celiacs is gone. On Saturday I was walking around the aqua track and I finished writing a short story in my head for my blog encounterswiththeancients.com about a man meeting Peter while fishing. I came home and typed it up and will post it on Tuesday.

Exercise helps me sleep better, think more clearly, and just plain FEEL better. If we feel better physically, it helps us feel better mentally and when living with autoimmune problems, which I have a few, that is so worthwhile.

What helps you as you live with Celiacs or other autoimmune problems?