Our path, healing.

Every person, will have a unique story. It’s a part of who we are.

When I was pregnant with my first child, I was terrified. I was excited. I was elated. I anticipated the arrival of one of the most amazing miracles ever. And I was terrified. I kept asking myself how that child going to get out. Not that I didn’t know. I mean, the mechanics of it were obvious but… how would it happen?

Being it that position early on, the last thing you want to hear is that “women have been doing it for thousands of years” and it all works out. What I didn’t know at the time is a detail that I carry with me every day now. A detail that has applied to so many things in life. Simply put, God’s timing is right. It’s good. And it’s intentional.

You see, by the time that I was ready to give birth I was uncomfortable. I was tired of having another human taking up space in my stomach, on my bladder and between my ribs. I was ready. However it was going to happen, it just needed to. I didn’t have the worry because I was focused on where I was at in the process.

It’s a process. Regardless of what “it” is. When I was newly pregnant, not nauseous and housing a peanut size child in my tummy, I was focused on the end of the process. All of which would be completely irrelevant to my situation ten months later.

Most of our situations in life are this way. Thinking back to when I started my gut healing process, like most people, I wanted to be well. I wanted to feel better. I wanted to eat what I was used to eating. But I couldn’t have it all. Jumping forward ten months I was in a brand new situation. First (an most important) I felt better. Whew! Who cares what food I have to give up if I can feel better.

With renewed energy levels, my head clear of the mushy cloud that had engulfed my previous thoughts, I was renewed. Just like when I held that brand new baby in my arms, it was a new chapter I couldn’t previously see. God creates a plan, a process and it is good. We may not understand how we will get from here to there but he does.

Nothin to it, but to do it.

It sucks. And it’s hard. Quite possibly the hardest thing you have ever done.

Making the choice to eat gluten free for your health is a big change. There’s no doubt that sometimes people opt for stomach pain and vomiting in order to eat the coveted donut. But at some point, you must realize that the pain inflicted upon your body is voluntary. That’s right, you might as well be poking yourself in the eye with a stick. You are doing it to yourself. Stop it already.

I have countless conversations with people who laugh sheepishly and sigh. Only to say, “my doctor told me I should be gluten free”. Just this week I had a conversation with a friend who was in a ton of pain. Joint swelling. Can’t sleep. Miserable pain. Indeed, her doctor told her to go gluten free.

It’s time. Start small and don’t use the many options for gluten free products on the market. Go old school. Start clean. Eat fruit, veggies and lean meats. Your body needs to recoup and cleanse from years of processed food. This will also give you time to read up on the thousands of names for gluten and all the places it’s hidden.

Even if you can’t see the results immediately, try it. Stick with it for at least three months (without cheating). This isn’t the latest weight craze, cheating will only recontaminate your body and impede the healing process. I am not a doctor, nor do I play one on TV. However, I do have a smidgen of common sense and I can tell you from personal experience that getting gluten in your body can take up to a week to work itself out.

It’s not for everyone, and I would not suggest everyone go gluten free. It can do more harm than good if you aren’t allergic, intolerant or suffering from Celiac. But if your doctor has told you to try it and you choose to suffer instead, you have one person to blame.

There are amazing resources online, in books and by connecting with people (either online or in your community via support groups) who have Celiac and can lead you through the process. My favorite starter book is the G-Free diet by Elizabeth Hasselbeck. You have a community of people here to support you, we eat like this every day. It is possible and you can do it!

I can’t eat that, no I won’t.

Back to school is a time when parents around the world buy new character themed backpacks, tennis shoes two sizes larger and pour that first glass of wine while waiting for the familiar rattle of the bus to pass by.

However, parents of kids with food allergies face tougher preparation. Regardless of the age of your child, you must first equip them with personal advocacy. This isn’t so daunting at the age of twelve or fifteen but with a five year old, you are placing a lot of faith in the system.

Kids are taught to listen, follow directions and go with the flow. They need to learn these valuable lessons. Life isn’t about them and their special needs, or is it?

Both of my kids learned in kindergarten that they had allergies that previously didn’t represent themselves. Both children had to learn that I would not be with them at school and they needed to speak up, ask questions and refuse food. Whoa. Do you mean defy the system? Yes, that is exactly what I am saying.

My son was sick three times in kindergarten from being fed things that he wasn’t supposed to eat. The challenge for kids is being able to have a voice in an environment where they are seen as defiant if they do.

People ponder the best way to send kids to school when they have allergies. I say arm them with knowledge and your support. Send them with a lunch filled with yummy alternatives to the normal elementary options, teach them it’s ok to say no when their health is on the line and give them permission to go to the nurse for support.

The more your children know about why they can’t eat it, what it does to their body and how you are their advocate, the more they will be comfortable doing the same in your absence.

For the love, of feet.

When pots of coffee and fifteen minute power naps just aren’t enough, I steal away for an hour of me time.What do I do for myself?

Given that I don’t tend to even have bathroom trips alone (it’s just easier to leave the door open than try to interpret my children’s muffled request for snacks through the door) an hour of me time usually only takes on one form, massage.

With the onset of inexpensive options, outside of spa settings, I can do this for as little as $30 and as late as 8pm. Most people don’t realize that those little dives sandwiched between the local liquor store and pub, with names about feet are actually legit.

Equally surprising are the massages. They are not all about feet (although I would be fine with that). These full bodied, fully clothed massages include a foot soak and massage, dim lighting and music varying from asian chants to Kenny G.

Let me just answer the obvious: Is it relaxing in a room with other people? Yes. I’m guaranteed to take a power nap with a recharge capability of a small car battery. Has anyone ever offered services that were, uh, unexpected? Although this relaxing retreat makes me very happy, No, not one of them has ever created an awkward situation offering a happy ending.

I will say they are stealthy, disguised with names like “foot or feat” retreat, finesse, shop, fancy, spa, euphoria, quest and more. They are actually offering a relaxing massage without referring to themselves as a massage parlor.

Massages are great for circulation, detoxing, relaxation and a myriad of benefits related to the reflexology (or foot love). This is a wonderful way to enjoy a luxury service for an affordable price. For the love, of feet, check it out!

Look kids, Big Ben and a Bakery

Regardless of what low calorie, sugar free, celery based, clean living, I-hope-to-poop-again-someday diet that I decide to go on, I have trouble passing up a bakery if they pass my allergy free muster.

Of all the adventures my family and I have been on, the one scouting for the best gluten free donut shop was my favorite! Most cities are lucky to have one within a hundred mile radius. Chicago has about a dozen within the city limits. After visiting them all and taking a sampling, we landed on Do-rite as our donut home of choice. Now, every time we visit we buy a dozen (or two) and freeze them. Yes, it’s worth $29.95. Yes, I will pay for delivery to my hotel. Download their app, it makes it that much easier.

From the halls of hotels in Nevada to the shores of Maui, we find our countries allergy free baked goods in the air, on land and sea; first to find and right our tummies, and to find their bathrooms clean. We are proud to claim the title of eating allergy free. (Maybe not as noble as the Marines, but our plight is fought and won with much determination.)

Yes, we eat out. Yes, we eat when we travel. I’m not that big fan of a protein/granola bars and my son is allergic to peanut butter so when we venture out, we tend to use the “Find me Gluten Free” app. It has been pretty reliable if you take into consideration the reviews of patrons and I know there are others breaking into the market like “Gluten Free World” app. The more resources we have, the better so log on, download them, use them and make sure to give feedback for others.

My key items I look for when traveling are #1 exclusive gluten free, this way I know they didn’t take chicken and rake the sauce off to create a menu therefore it’s more likely yummy. #2 vegan offerings because my little man needs dairy and egg free too. #3 is it open? Duh! This may seem like a no-brainer but I wish I had a pair of Louboutin’s for every shop I’ve gone to that had a three-day-a-week schedule with weekends and full moons off. #4 What is the star rating? And read comments since some people think that the wait staff needs to be “impressive” for it to be worth eating there. (what does that mean, anyway?) #5 does it have a “safe for celiac” rating?

Don’t be afraid to eat out with allergies. Just don’t be afraid to ask questions. And be confident enough to let the server, manager and cook (if necessary) know that you are not on a fad diet and this is necessary for your health. There are so many amazing restaurants, bakeries and pastry shops out there just waiting for you. Be safe but be adventurous!

 

 

Life is like a box of brownies…

It was like having a little chocolate coated candy angel come from heaven to make yummy treats. Just. For. Me.

It is admirable, not to mention understandable when people start food companies out of necessity for their (or their children’s) allergies. 

What you don’t seem to find is people starting companies to bring phenomenal tasting, quality products to the market when they don’t have a personal need for that product. Shy of the big box companies creating mirror products because they already have millions of users they can tap into for sales, of course.

Let’s be honest, Cheerios did not go gluten free because the board members at General Mills were emoting in the form of food, it was all about market share and returning some of the love to home base. And since my household has consumed about 18 boxes in the last three months… I’m ok with that.

The wow factor is based in companies that have little to no understanding of the need for an allergen free product, who are not looking at the market share, but rather see a group of people that could hugely benefit from their gifts.

When I first sat down with my friend Brooke and began explaining my bizarre eating habits she gave me a crazy look, wrinkled her nose like I’d done something foul and said, “what on earth is gluten”? This lead into a long discussion on what it is, where it comes from, what food it’s hidden in and why some people can’t eat it.

Having the gift of candy making and having started a company of her own, she returned home to do research. Intense research. Amazing research. When we met again, she told me what she had learned, what she was focusing on and what an exciting challenge this was to her.

What? You care? I was so floored. How could someone who can eat anything care so much about what I can’t eat? No one else had.

She began an exhaustive overhaul of what she had been doing and eliminated all gluten containing ingredients from her facility. She revamped some of her recipes to include ingredients that were gluten free. And then… she started mixing. She started creating. A waterfall of tears streamed down my face when she came up with a mix for brownies that was both gluten AND rice free. My allergens.

It was like having a little chocolate coated candy angel come from heaven to make yummy treats. Just. For. Me. (ok, so they weren’t just for me, but it felt like it)

She flew into high gear with her sampling team (her young boys who have no allergies) and before long created a chocolate chip cookie mix, banana bread, carrot cake, white cake, and chocolate cake mix. If it wasn’t good to them, it wasn’t good enough for us. Yes, it was actually important that it tasted good too. Novel thought, and it worked.

Suddenly she was in multiple top retail outlets! Last week she opened a new store front. I’m so excited for Brooke and her family. This venture was truly from the heart and from my heart I say thank you. Brooke’s really does Send the Best.

Visit @brooke.sendthebest http://www.brookescandyco.com pick up one of their mixes (or chocolates! at a local grocer) or go visit them at their new shop in Terre Haute, IN at 10 N. 5th Street.

 

Lets talk about it.

Just when you think no one wants to hear about your freakish inability to eat… normal. (Whatever that is). You run onto someone who hugs you out of sheer desperation to feel normal. 

As my son asked to borrow a red solo cup and was denied due to its adult contents, I assured the bearer there was no harm since he was gluten free. Instantly she looked at me like her grandmother had descended from heaven in the form of a dove.

There I stood waist deep in the pool while a very friendly woman, near to tears, hugged it out with me. We had just met. And no, I don’t look that good in a swimsuit.

You see, that woman was having a conversation about the difficulties of being gluten free in a world where it’s not considered a priority, or understood. While some say peanut allergy and people run in four directions to find an epi-pen, there is a look of confusion and dis-concern with gluten.

This woman was desperate to find someone she could relate to and talk with. Sometimes it’s just worth mentioning you have Celiac, you never know who might benefit from hearing the words that make them feel like they aren’t floating alone on an island.