Six Months

Six months ago I was a different person…

Six months ago, every single thing I ate sat like a lead balloon in my gullet.

Six months ago, everything I ate also was subsequently returned in violent fashion to the porcelain throne.

Six months ago, eating resulted in such ungodly pain in my side that I’m now convinced I know what the pain of an AK-47 shot to the flank feels like.

Six months ago, even eating one bite led to such extreme stomach distention, you’d think I was mocking Violet from Willy Wonka without the delicious grape color.

Six months ago, the pain in my joints was so severe I was only able to function on a daily basis with a fabulous cocktail of muscle relaxers and painkillers.

Six months ago, my skin was so blotchy and itchy I was starting to believe that I was allergic to fresh air.

Six months ago, my skin was so dry that soaking in a tub for an hour barely moisturized the top layer.

Six months ago, I was so irritable I didn’t even want to be around myself.

Six months ago, I had yet another person tell me they couldn’t find anything wrong with me and after 11 years of issues, it must absolutely be in my head.

Six months ago, I was at the end of my rope.

Six months ago, I met the doctor that changed my life.

Six months ago I was introduced to Celiac Disease…

Happy 6-Month Anniversary to my diagnosis!  Never thought hearing my doctor say, “You have an autoimmune disease” would turn out to be such a blessing.

I never imagined feeling this amazing. I never imagined feeling this healthy or this complete. I never imagined waking up each and every day and having no fear that eating breakfast was going to leave me doubled over in pain for hours.  I never imagined a life free of bloat and tummy troubles.

And I most certainly never imagined being out of the 200’s…so, so close!

 

Thinking back six months – I certainly never expected to still be moving in the right direction with my weight loss or my overall physical and mental transformation.  Six months ago I expected to fail as I had every other time.

Six months have changed my life….

The road has not always been smooth or flat. The path to enlightenment has not always been clearly marked. There are times when it seemed I was moving away from who I am much more than moving toward what I want to be.

Six months have changed my life….

Many have ventured on this journey before me. Many have faced obstacles of health, physical impairment or mental reluctance. All have faced the same fear and uncertainty that I face every day.

Six months have changed my life….

These last six months have taught me that the blessing isn’t that I find my way to the finish line….it’s that I had the courage to start.

 

Nobody can go back and start a new beginning, but anyone can start today and make a new ending.– Maria Robinson

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Sticks and Stones May Break My Bones…

A few weeks ago I was in the checkout line at the grocery store. I had gotten a few of my favorite gluten-free pizzas and another item or 2 that was specifically labeled as gluten-free. I should have known the line was doomed from the start. I don’t know what it is with people getting in the express lane regardless of the 22 items they have in their cart. The freaking sign says 15 or less…15! OR LESS! Learn to count or shop somewhere else. I don’t know why that drives me so crazy! I always count every item to make sure I’m not hitting the limit. Granted I do break the limit rule when it comes to dressing room items, but seriously. Extreme couponing’s biggest fan with her 57 bottles of mustard and 18 boxes of Kleenex does not warrant standing in the Express lane!

I wish the cashier had told the woman who couldn’t count that she needed to step into another line and follow the rules like everyone else, but nooooooo. So thinking she was just soft spoken and too timid to say anything, I didn’t think anything of her when I stepped up to check out. Boy did she prove me wrong.

She started commenting on every item – “Oh…parsnips. What do you do with those?” “Brie…not a big fan.” “Smart Balance…guess the healthy aspect doesn’t really matter with that brie in the basket, does it?” At this point I already wanted to hit her…and then she brought it home. “Oh I see you have some gluten-free items in here. Does someone in your house not eat gluten?” So I told her I have Celiac Disease…and her response: “You have Celiac Disease? That’s not possible. People with Celiac Disease are malnourished and waifish…you’re…well, overweight.”

Um…excuse me, biotch?! Did I seriously just hear that come out of her mouth? I tried to respond with some horrid, mean comeback but all I could do was muster up some weird uncomfortable smile and stood there completely silent.

Who tells someone they couldn’t possibly have a disease because they don’t look like a few other people that have the same ailment. That’s so ridiculous. Who stereotypes like that?! I’m sorry Magic Johnson, you couldn’t possibly have HIV because everyone I’ve ever seen with it is thin and sickly and you’re not. I’m sorry Stevie Wonder, there’s no way you’re blind, because you can play the piano.

Who has the gall to say that someone’s disease isn’t valid because their physique isn’t what you’d expect?! There is NOTHING in any literature I’ve read stating that thinness is a requirement for Celiac Disease. In children, yes possibly, but adults, not so much. And not only that…but why in the hell am I incapable of coming up with a witty comeback until I’m in my car driving away?!  As Billy Idol once said: “I love when someone insults me. It means I don’t have to be nice anymore.” So in honor of my awful cashier and my untimely delay…here are the best insult comebacks of all time: (Disclaimer: Some of these are mean. But there are certain times they might be warranted.)

  • I’ve heard more coherent things from a schizophrenic with Tourette’s.
  • What kind of car do you drive, a short bus?
  • It’s scary to think that people like you are allowed to vote.
  • It’s scary to think that people like you are allowed to breed.
  • I could eat a bowl of alphabet soup and crap out a smarter statement than that.
  • Aww, it’s so cute when you try to talk about things you don’t understand.
  • You’re like the female version of Charlie Sheen.
  • Somewhere out there is a tree, tirelessly producing oxygen so you can breathe. I think you owe it an apology.
  • I may be drunk, but you are ugly, and tomorrow I will be sober.
  • Maybe if you ate some of that makeup you could be pretty on the inside.
  • The Rainman called. He wants his social skills back.
  • Pardon me, but you’ve obviously mistaken me for someone who gives a damn.
  • Have you considered suing your brains for non-support?
  • People like you are the reason I’m on medication.
  • Everyone is entitled to be stupid, but you abuse the privilege.
  • Save your breath…You’ll need it to blow up your date.
  • I’d like to see things from your point of view, but I can’t get my head that far up my ass.

 

Phew! Now I feel better….and not only that, but this ‘fat girl with Celiac Disease’ lost weight! Woot woot!

So close to being under the 200 pound mark. I can hardly believe it!   Not weighing myself for 2 weeks really paid off.  I am re-focused, re-committed, and ready to take on anyone that tries to knock me down. Watch out world…it’s on now. 🙂

 

 

“The only gracious way to accept an insult is to ignore it; if you can’t ignore it, top it; if you can’t top it, laugh at it; if you can’t laugh at it, it’s probably deserved.”  ~J. Russel Lynes

Don’t Discriminate

It is no secret that I love the Food Network. I want to be on it, I watch it constantly, and I could probably tell you more about the lives of the chefs on that channel than I can about Oprah Winfrey or George Bush.  Some people are obsessed with movie stars and famous athletes, while I’m busy stalking Alex Guarnaschelli, Aaron Sanchez and Giada DeLaurentiis on Twitter.

I want to secretly discover an invitation to participate on Chopped in my mailbox and would likely have a panic attack if I ever got into an elevator and saw Bobby Flay standing there.  But I have to be honest – the FN chefs like some gluten in their cooking.  I’ve tried to mentally come up with gluten-free versions of all the recipes that I see made, but the truth is, a channel devoted 100% to cooking is a shitty place to go when you can’t eat many of the things you see prepared.

What if a GF chef wanted to be a judge on Iron Chef? Or a contestant on Hell’s Kitchen or Top Chef? I just don’t think it’s possible. Imagine being a child of Paula Deen’s and having Celiac Disease? Would she acknowledge them?  I wonder if she’s got a secret daughter hidden off camera that was ousted for never being able to eat fried chicken or biscuits and gravy. Would Mario Batali disown his child for having to stay clear of pasta?

And so it got me thinking – why don’t we see chefs with Celiac Disease? Granted cooking GF is a niche thing, but there are plenty of shows on cooking for the vegetarian lifestyle that I’m sure non-vegetarians watch. I want to see something that I can enjoy! I want it GF and I want it now!  (And yes, that last sentence should be said with your best Veruca Salt impression.)

Vodpod videos no longer available.

 

Why is All-Purpose flour the thickening agent choice for every chef that has a cooking show? Why not try corn flour or rice flour? Why can’t Rachael Ray dredge her chicken in cornflake crumbs instead of panko? I seem to remember a low-carb show….a low calorie show. How about a GF show? Hire me to do it!!

Stop discriminating against us!!! (Ok so I’m not saying it’s discrimination…just saying it would be nice to cater to all dietary needs every once in a while.) I will continue to watch the Food Network like it’s my job…and continue to secretly dream that it really was.

And while on the topic of cooking…I have a recipe that you really must try…if you’ve never had quinoa – this is certainly a great way to eat it!

 

Big thanks to Gluten Hates Me for the recipe! Amazing GF recipes and a fantastic blog as well!

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As for the weigh-in – although slight, there was another loss this week.

 

Getting closer and closer to being under 200 for the first time in a long time…looking forward to celebrating that milestone with you!

 

Until then, you can find me in the kitchen…

 

“Cooking is like love. It should be entered into with abandon or not at all.

– Harriet Van Horne

The Girl with the Scarlet Letter

Have you ever had one of those moments where someone told you something and for a split second you had built it up to be so magnificent in your mind, only to drop down about 14 levels of joy once you figured out what it really was?  I had one of those moments yesterday.

I have come to accept the fact that I probably won’t be able to eat (with any confidence anyway) at most places. I no longer throw the early-diagnosis-esque tantrums like I once did if the menu doesn’t have a gluten-free option.

Yesterday was no different…I was going to a cornhole tournament/football watching function at a local bar…where yes, everyone does know your name.  I had confirmed that there would in fact be Woodchuck Cider available (my favorite GF beer!) but since I hadn’t been there since my diagnosis, I already expected that there would be nothing ‘safe’ for me to eat.  My pre-diagnosis trips had included quick glances at the menu to find the greasiest menu item available in an attempt to soak up a portion of the beer that I was undoubtedly ingesting, of course none of the items being gluten-free.

Right before I walked into the door after setting up cornhole boards, the girl that was in charge of the function said something to me about being gluten-free. Then she said, ‘I have something for you to eat.”  What?! I about wet my pants. Had I hallucinated that I’d have a safe food? Could it be that I wouldn’t have to sit there for hours without something to snack on (i.e. something to soak up the alcohol)?!  I was in disbelief.  I felt like Charlie Bucket discovering his golden ticket!

I wondered what it was…a GF dip of some sort…a burger without the bun…a delicious salad with GF dressing. It was a bar after all, so the food running through my mind was not exactly all diet friendly.  What could it be?! What was in store?!

She turned to reach in her bag to pull out my GF surprise…my mind was running like a slot machine….Chips…Fries…Chips…Jackpot!!!!  She reached in….oh I can’t handle the suspense anymore…hand in her bag…I’m salivating…she grabbed the bag…stop the madness already, I’m starving…and she pulled out my treat…

A perfect peach.

Trust me…I am more than grateful and so incredibly humbled that she thought of me and thought enough to even offer me something to eat.  Her kindness to someone she had only just met meant a great deal to me.  And trust me, I know that a peach was a far, far better choice than what I might have previously ordered. And for that, my waistline thanks you, Tricia.

But amongst the smell of burning grease, beer, and hot dogs…I was momentarily deflated.  This is what my ‘cheat days’ have turned into: GF beer and fruit.

I didn’t eat it there because I tend to end up looking like the child below when I eat peaches…half my makeup dripping off the bottom half of my face but sticky and smelling like summer.  I did absolutely destroy it when I got home and it was delicious!!!

I do want to mention that it is not a requirement for me to eat when I go out. However, being able to have a little snack while the rest of my friends are indulging on Eat This Not That’s worst offenders does allow me to feel a slight sense of normalcy…something I haven’t felt since I was diagnosed.   I can’t hide in my own kitchen forever.  I know I need to suck it up and deal with it.

I’ve become that girl that restaurants hate.  I’m the one that walks in and the kitchen staff instantly starts whispering “There’s the girl with all the demands…There’s the girl that is adamant about salt and pepper only on her salmon and absolutely no other bulk seasoning…There’s the girl that requests that we change our gloves and utensils so we don’t contaminate her food…There’s the girl that proclaims that if we accidentally give her something with gluten that she will get violently ill on the spot and run off all the other customers.” (Ok so I won’t exactly get violently ill the second it hits my tongue but I do say that if I feel like the waiter/waitress isn’t listening to me. You’d be surprised how well they pay attention if they feel like they might to have to clean up vomit if they don’t comply.)

I feel at times I need to wear a t-shirt with my demands. I need a nametag with my requirements.  I should be sporting a scarlet letter of my own.  There’s THAT girl….the marked girl…the different girl…the girl with the scarlet G.

But, THAT girl lost weight this week….

 

I’m slowly learning not to sweat what I can’t control.  And that my body is much happier in the long run. I may have had beer and fruit at the bar…but by God my stomach didn’t hurt afterwards!  And for that I did truly hit the jackpot.

And you better believe I’ve got peaches on my grocery list…

“Be not afraid of growing slowly; be afraid only of standing still.”

~ Chinese Proverb

The Gluten-Free Kid

Ugly part out of the way first…I can’t seem to get out of this 211-213 range…am I destined to be bulky forever?!

 

 

 My motivation has started to wane. I’m eating wrong – I’m eating too much…and by god I have to say that my digestive system has never felt better… Not that it’s any excuse to blow any semblance of a diet.

My old feelings of failure are starting to rise back up in my throat.  That awful horrid voice in the back of my head saying “Here you go again…you know you’ll never be skinny.” I can’t seem to get the nutrition part squared away right now. I love food far too much and am actually enjoying eating it and feeling pain free.  Dammit I love cooking!!! I cannot possibly explain the joy and ecstasy I feel when I’m standing in the kitchen creating an amazing gluten-free meal for myself. I lay awake at night thinking about all the ways I can reinvent dishes that I used to have in a way that won’t hurt my tummy.  If only I’d find a love for cooking cabbage and tofu instead of amazing variations of risottos and beurre blancs.   Here’s an example of both…one of the best dishes I’ve ever made! 

Pan seared scallops over risotto and roasted asparagus with a grapefruit beurre blanc - not low-cal, but it was delicious!

 

And speaking of cooking…I had an amazingly eye-opening experience this weekend.  I was in Charlotte for a housewarming party at my sister’s house.  Chili was on the menu, and to save her some time in getting all the other things together, I offered to make it.  For two reasons…1) I make a mean chili.  Wow…that was conceited. Let’s just say I know my way around the kitchen.  2) I wanted to control what’s in it so I knew it was ‘safe’. 

I’ve gone through a very distinct up and down with regards to food confidence.  I had such tremendous fear of cross-contamination and accidental glutening when I was first diagnosed.  Then I transitioned into a period of ease…comfort…I knew what I could have and didn’t question like I should have.  Then we come to my current state…distrust.  I don’t care if the menu states it’s gluten-free…or if I’m convinced that all that the dish contains is lettuce and red bell peppers…I don’t trust it if I didn’t make it.  The longer I go, the more I’m convinced that there are truly very few people that understand exactly what gluten is and how severe a reaction from even the slightest cross-contamination can be. I’ve gotten lazy about demanding to know every ingredient and I’m paying the price. At the end of the day, I’d rather do it all myself. I’d rather know that it wasn’t vegetable broth in a sauce or that someone didn’t grab a hamburger bun before plating my dinner.  I’d rather know that the mayonnaise is safe and that the prep surfaces were cleaned thoroughly. 

‘Chefing’ it up for the party was a success, and little did I know what a poignant experience my pot of chili would turn out to be….

One of the people that attended the party at my sister’s was a 10-year old named Marc.  Amazing kid…great sense of humor. And Marc has Celiac Disease.  

The look on his face when he knew he could eat the chili without fear, and the look on his face as he enjoyed his bowl is one that sticks with me now.  It makes me feel amazing.  I feel so blessed that I could help create that moment…that moment of trust in what you’re eating…that moment without fear of the unknown…That moment that I’ve lost when I’ve gone out to eat.

I can’t imagine coping with all of this as a 10 year old. How difficult it might be to prepare for unexpected birthday parties and food-oriented activities at school, church, and elsewhere.  How to deal with grandparents, babysitters, and “helpful” friends who offer gluten-containing foods…All without making them feel different. 

Marc handled the party much better than I’ve handled ones with unknown menus.  I saw him when he arrived and he didn’t have a look of shear panic like I’ve had when I’ve been unsure what was being served. He didn’t look like he was on the verge of throwing a temper tantrum like I’ve been if I find out there might not be anything ‘safe’ for me to eat. And for that, I admire him. 

I would love to get to know Marc better…I was diagnosed at 29…but I want to know what it’s like from his perspective. From that of a 10-year old.  Does he feel jipped? Does it make him sad? Does he feel different? I know kids can be disgustingly cruel to others that they perceive as different…and wonder if there’s any ‘dietary bullying’ that he’s ever had to deal with.  And I want to help. 

It’s situations like his, and the bliss on his face while he sat with his bowl of chili, that make me want to do so much more.  Thank you, Marc, for your incredible inspiration.  

I’ve decided that I’m blessed to have celiac disease…it has provided me with an opportunity to reach out and help others.  I want to do more than be an advocate for Celiac Disease. I want to do more than just be an encyclopedia of knowledge on the condition.

I want to seek a way of serving that corresponds to my unique abilities and propensities, a way that engages all of me. I want to help others directly. I want to cook safe meals for the CD masses.  I want to help give everyone with CD that look I saw on Marc’s face Saturday night.  

I believe that God really does have a plan for every single one of us…I was diagnosed with Celiac Disease for a reason…perhaps I am finally discovering my life’s purpose…

 

“I seldom end up where I wanted to go, but almost always end up where I need to be.” ~ Douglas Adams