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Gluten Intolerant Symptoms

Schar just shared this infographic on their Facebook page. If you don’t already follow them, I heartily recommend doing so if you like nice visuals along with your gluten-free tidbits. And if you are planning a visit to Italy, this is definitely a company to know because as I understand it, they have played a major role in making the land of pasta a safe place for Celiacs and the like.  As far as the picture below goes, I can check off more than half those symptoms myself~ how about you?

schar

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Adjusting to a Gluten-Free Diet

There are many guides to help newly diagnosed celiacs and gluten intolerant people but I know when you are first figuring it all out it feels like you are the only person in the world changing your diet and lifestyle. There will most likely be favorite meals you are giving up, familiar restaurants, and things like weekly meet-ups and dinner parties need to be rethought. Things you never had to think about before suddenly need attention, everyday habits, social rituals, and even the chores of shopping and cooking scream for a revamp. It’s a lot, and it can be overwhelming, but hopefully it will help to know that many people have been there, with their miner’s lamps on before you, walking through the dark and leaving notes. First of all, make a list of all the things you can eat. It’s so easy to focus on the food/foods that need to be eliminated and feel like everything is off-limits, but in reality there will always be a lot more food on the OK list than on the ‘must avoid’ list. It is important to figure out where the hidden gluten might be, like soy sauce, fake meat products like soy hotdogs, and oat products, but it is equally important to understand there are things like wheat free tamaritamari

gluten free faux meats bistro burger,

and safe oat products gluten free oats. (Unless you react to the similar protein that is found in oats the same way you react to gluten. Some people can eat certified gluten-free oat products just fine, while others cannot.) Beyond the products that are made to be gluten-free, of which you will find just about anything you can think of, there are foods that are naturally gluten-free and they are still there for you, so go ahead and eat all the French fries and corn tortillas you want. Most natural foods stores, like Whole Foods, would be happy to have a knowledgeable employee walk around with you to show you the gluten-free items and they will also know which are the best sellers, so if you don’t know which bread to try first just ask what the most popular brand is and start with that one. Calling ahead to find out when the best time to come in for some personal attention would be advised and you might even be able to do that at a regular grocery store~ depends on the place. A local Co-op here has monthly(?) food tours around their stores to highlight gluten-free things, or sometimes there are other themes, but the point is you might find something similar in your own local store. Speaking of that local co-op, it is called PCC and they have a webpage dedicated to gluten-free info and so does Whole Foods. Both of those places have many recipes that are labeled gluten-free and are a great place to find healthy foods in general. Trader Joe’s also has a gluten free list and other special diet lists and I recommend you look at your local favorite store’s website to see what they have available. Also check out  Urban Spoon for information on restaurants and bakeries that are gluten-free friendly and find some places to visit sooner rather than later so when the inevitable time arrives when someone asks to meet for lunch you will have a place to suggest.  Delicious living, a magazine you may have at some point seen in a natural foods store, has a guide for gluten-free living and there are several magazines dedicated to food allergies, but Living Without is the most popular one. There are blogs, social media groups, and online gluten-free stores to also offer assistance and advice, recipes and in some cases, coupons. In short, you aren’t alone and once you get into a gluten-free groove, it’s really not all that hard and you will find the amount you feel better outweighs any missing of old foods by so much that you truly don’t miss them.

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Broccoli and Tofu

You can’t really ever go wrong with tofu and broccoli, at least in my oldest son’s opinion. His favorite way to eat that healthy combination used to be wrapped in a spelt tortilla with garlic sauce. He even wrote an essay about that dish in third grade when asked about his favorite thing to eat, but sadly, he can’t eat spelt anymore and corn tortillas are just not the same. They are great for soft tacos, quesadillas, and ‘beandillas’, (a quesadilla made with refried beans instead of cheese) but corn tortillas just do not complement the broccoli and tofu like the spelt did. He missed that dish terribly, along with countless others, once his gluten intolerance was discovered, but now he’s found a new favorite way to enjoy broccoli and tofu. Here’s the recipe:

broccoli and tofu with pasta

Ingredients:

1 package brown rice fusilli

½ yellow onion

2 crushed cloves of garlic

3-4 cups broccoli, cut into bite size pieces

1 package extra firm tofu, drained and wrapped in paper towels to get out extra water

Approx. 2 T. olive oil (1 for the stir fry and 1 for the pot of pasta)

1 T. balsamic vinegar (or to taste)

1 T. gluten free Tamari

Dried basil and oregano to taste

Salt and pepper to taste

For this dish, I start the water boiling for the pasta as I begin the cutting up process. Pour in at least one tablespoon of the olive oil in a large pan, and then add the onions, cooking until translucent. Next the garlic should be added in, with the broccoli following. Pour the vinegar over the broccoli while stirring the veggies. Add the tofu then cover the tofu with the tamari. While cooking, stir in the herbs, salt, and pepper, and cook until the broccoli is bright green and the tofu is warm throughout with a bit of browning. Meanwhile, make the fusilli according to the package directions, and when all is done combine into approximately 4 bowls. This is one pasta dish that doesn’t require parmesan, but feel free to add it if you prefer, or if you like just drizzle on a bit more olive oil. For my son and I, we do not add anything but our forks.

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Brain on Gluten cont.~ News from Living Without Magazine

Neurologic Effects of Celiac Disease 
A study featured at the International Celiac Disease  Symposium looked at neurological dysfunction in celiac disease. More  than half of the study’s 73 participants—newly diagnosed  adults at a celiac clinic in the U.K.—had neurological symptoms.  These included frequent and intractable headaches, balance problems and  sensory symptoms. White matter abnormalities were spotted in the brain  scans of a number of these participants and some had TG6 antibodies.  (TG6 antibodies have been linked to neurological dysfunction in celiac  disease.) Findings suggest that neurological dysfunction is common in  newly diagnosed celiacs, write researchers.
A U.S. study, also featured at ICDS, found that  neurocognitive effects like brain fog are common after exposure to  gluten in those with celiac disease and non-celiac gluten sensitivity  alike. A whopping 89 percent of celiacs and 95 percent of those with  non-celiac gluten sensitivity reported experiencing neurocognitive  effects due to gluten, specifically, difficulty concentrating,  forgetfulness, grogginess, detachment and mental confusion. Symptoms  often began 30 minutes to an hour after gluten exposure and lasted  several days. Results were based on a preliminary online survey  completed by 1,143 individuals with celiac disease and 253 with  non-celiac gluten sensitivity. More work is planned.

This is the exact article I found in my email box this morning from Living Without. Fascinating.

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Brain on Gluten

This is an interesting article about one neurologist’s belief that gluten and carbs are responsible for many brain ailments, such as Alzheimer’s, dementia, ADD and such. He talks about inflammation being caused by carbs which in turn is the root of many brain diseases, with gluten being especially damaging because of blood brain barrier issues. The part I found most personally verifiable is where he says many gluten intolerant symptoms are not felt in the digestive track at all, but in other parts of the body, and I can readily attest to that. Other foods majorly affect my stomach and such, but when I eat gluten I feel it almost immediately in my head. I had a low-grade headache from childhood until my 20s when I began to figure out the wheat connection. It is like clockwork, eat something with gluten and I start to feel ‘off’, like maybe I’m coming down with something and need to sleep it off, but then I slowly realize it isn’t just fatigue, but the a headache that is different from a normal headache, which incidentally I rarely get now that I don’t eat gluten. My whole body feels fatigued, I feel slightly depressed, and my head hurts for 3 days, and then it all fades into feeling good again. Very predictable. As for Doctor Perlmutter’s assertion that gluten and carbs are innately bad for us, I tend to disagree. It seems he’s stumbled upon some truths, (carbs cause inflammation, inflammation is bad for our brains, gluten causes the worst problems, etc) but he made some suppositions that go to far. There has long been a link between brain and gut health~ this has been long-established and shows up in products such as MindLinx, a probiotic that emphasizes the link between a healthy intestinal tract and the mind, hence the name, and before gluten intolerance was recognized it was thought that all carbs were equally responsible for digestive troubles. People have singled out gluten, sugar, PH balance (remember that craze?), blood type, fat, and many other things as the be-all-end-all deciding factor in health, always just until the next thing comes up. Granted, they usually have at least a nugget of truth in them, but they are never the golden nugget that they are made out to be. If you look at the world’s healthiest populations with the least amounts of disease you find communities that focus on whole foods~ fruits and vegetables, grains and vegetable fats, with small amounts of meat/fish/poultry. A fantastic book (with recipes!) about these healthiest cultures and their diets is The Jungle Effect by Dr.Daphne Miller. Real food, despite valiant efforts, could not be improved, and in fact has only deteriorated in nutrition and taste since the industrial revolution. We live in an age of amazing medical technology and knowledge, and goodness knows I’m happy to not be living in the middle ages with leaches being the latest and greatest, but sometimes the old ways, the jungle ways, can teach us more than any doctor.

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KISS

caterpillarI’ve heard a certain expression all my life and never realized the acronym was k.i.s.s. until I just recently put it together. It was one of those moments when I thought, “does everyone already know this?” Anyway, if you’re like me and a little late to the party I’m talking about the expression, “keep it simple, stupid”. That line goes through my head a lot because I have a natural aversion to complications, which is a bit of handicap in this quickly complicating world. That is probably my least favorite part about our family’s food intolerances~ it adds a layer of complexity to what seemingly should be a very simple, straight to the point thing~ eating. When you add in eating while out, or eating while on vacation, the complications add up and complications mean stressers and stress and sometimes I just feel like saying, “let’s just eat whatever we want, shall we?” Actually, I know quite a few families who operate like that~ their children stay away from wheat and/or dairy while at home, but if they are at school and there is trigger food, they can eat it, or if they go out and there is not an easy option to avoiding it, they will just eat it and deal with the consequences. I can see doing that with my own kids once they have been off their trigger foods for a good year so it is totally out of their system and then maybe the bits will help to desensitize them, but for now it just isn’t worth it. They are so much healthier now, with better skin, brighter eyes, more energy, and happier outlooks it’s hard to imagine just letting them slide back into the funkiness of food intolerance~ I should know because I was funky for decades before realizing my own intolerances. It makes a huge difference, and in a way, it has it’s own simplification aspects that I appreciate~ the more natural the ingredients and the fewer the ingredients, the better. This time of year we hear a lot about food and diet programs, Paleo this and cleanse that, and again the idea of ‘keep it simple, stupid’ comes to mind. If something feels drastic, and difficult, and not doable for the long haul, it’s probably not the best option. I’m all for a cleanse every once in a while, as long as it involves real foods and helps to reset healthy eating habits, but it’s far more important to eat real food, mindfully, every day. I’ve mentioned how picky my youngest is, and in an effort in reinforcing healthy food choices we’ve started a sticker chart for him~ if he tries a new food he gets one sticker, if he eats the whole serving he earns another sticker. Once he reaches 50 stickers then I give him $10. So far it’s helped him with the trying part, though less so with the whole serving part~ but it’s a start, and this is a good time of year for new starts. Good luck with your own New Year’s resolutions, and remember to check in regularly with yourself and make sure you are being ‘kissable’.

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Labels

There’s been a lot of talk about labeling around Washington these last couple of months because of a bill to identify GMO’s on food products. They are still counting the results as far as I know, but it got me thinking about labels in general. The other week I spent a few days feeling pretty bad~ dragging, tired, slightly depressed for no apparent reason~ I thought I was maybe coming down with something, but after about 3 or 4 days I happened to look at my bag of coffee that I was whipping through especially quickly in order to find some cheap energy, and low and behold, can you find the offending word?

Imposter Decaf. Seriously coffee packaging people, make the word ‘decaf’ obvious for heaven’s sake. Maybe a red warning label or wallpapered all over the bag…something. I usually shop in a hurry and what I saw was Organic, Italian, ground (and yes, I buy it ground to save myself some time because trust me, I go through bags of it quickly enough that it isn’t going to go stale on me.) Of course when I did actually finally see that dreaded ‘d’ word I had to laugh out loud which is something I don’t normally do when I’m home alone. I then went and got a triple Americano and felt like I’d just kicked a bad virus plus an episode of depression all in one sip. Here’s another label to make one think…

Can you parse out the food vs. the non-food? I was looking for corn tortillas and was surprised, to say the least, by all the added ingredients. Trader Joe’s has some that are made with simple, real food ingredients. They do have to be used within a few days but I’d rather use my freezer as a preservative than three different kinds of acids. You know when people say that some people, especially kids, react to preservatives and artificial sweeteners and colors and scents? This is what they are talking about. Those other labels come to mind, ADD, ADHD, Autistic, all those things kids are labeled who are also known to be more sensitive to additives in food. By the way, these tortillas are not ones I found at Trader Joe’s, but instead at a regular grocery store. Who knew labels could be so fascinating?