You Might Be Gluten-Free If…..

Jeff Foxworthy did his redneck style. I do mine GF-style. Minds out of the gutter people!

I’m in a cheesy mood tonight…Not that it has anything to do with the amazing queso fresco I just ingested – but in a dorky, witty, joking mood. Perhaps it’s because it’s Monday…perhaps it’s because the new job has me a little frazzled, but regardless, you’re the lucky one that gets to enjoy light-heartedness this evening…

So without further ado ….You Might Be Gluten-Free If….

…your bar tab went up exponentially when you had to stop drinking beer and start drinking liquor.

…you keep at least 5 kinds of flour in the house and none of them start with ‘W’.

…you can’t eat at a buffet.

…the smell of freshly baked pizza makes you on the verge of postal.

…Five Guys sees you coming and instantly changes their gloves.

…you get stomach cramps walking through the bread aisle.

…you question your ‘Southern card’ since you can’t remember what fried chicken tastes like.

…you’ve ever deliberately slammed your shopping cart into the Wheat Thins display in a fit of rage.

…you spend more time reading ingredients than actually eating the food.

…your happiest moment this year was discovering GF bagels at the grocery store.

…someone could rob you with just a club sandwich and Doritos.

…you’ll hug people with a nasty cough but keep someone eating a cookie at an arm’s length or farther.

…you’re considering converting to the Aztec religion, so people will accept your corn-worshipping ways.

…you pack your own toaster to go on vacations.

…you have written “CONTAMINATED” on containers of cream cheese.

…you’ve considered strangling friends/relatives who say “It can’t hurt if you only eat a little, can it?”

…you can find hidden gluten on food labels in the blink of an eye and some people around you couldn’t find it if they had a magnifying glass, a dictionary and a Ph.D.

…you burn your toast and eat it anyway because those two tiny pieces of bread cost $1.50.

…during the holidays, visions of guar gum dance in your head.

…you are afraid of spices and in restaurants, ask for your food “naked.”

…people think you’re on a low-carb diet.

…you’ve ever asked for a bunless burger and been looked at like you have 3 heads.

…you kiss your date before dinner instead of after.

…you write a GF blog!

…you’re feeling better than you EVER have in your life and still losing weight! Go me!!!

 

 

Still chipping away at the pudge. And I do not miss it at all!!

I’m going to work on updating my ‘Goals’ page sometime this week – but wanted to let you know the two new ones that I have set for myself in the meantime.

1)      To lose an additional 50 lbs by my sister’s wedding. Wedding is May 19, 2012…that amounts to about 10 lbs a month. Completely attainable goal – although I’m a little off this week – my next goal should help me get there with more certainty…

2)      To start working out. The scary thing is that I really am itching to get active. I’m imagining myself doing physical things and yearning to get a good aerobic sweat in. I’ve never wanted to sweat before so I’m a little shocked that I feel guilty about not doing anything at this point.

Now that eating better is second nature, I can focus on my other arch nemesis: moving my behind. I certainly need to work on toning and firming up. Nothing sexy about excess jiggle. And there will certainly not be anything sexy about loose skin if I manage to lose (I’m sorry…WHEN I LOSE) 100 pounds. I commit to you, loyal followers, that by the time I post a blog next week, I will have started my workout regimen.

 

Before I sign off this week – I want to mention something I mentioned last week…There’s only one day left and the way it stood a few days ago, it will take an absolute miracle (or divine intervention) for me to come out on top…but I need votes! Please go to http://jovialfoods.com/blog/7362654553-2/ and vote for #13 (If mine is your favorite) and help send me on the GF/culinary trip of a lifetime. (See last week’s post for more details.)

I really appreciate all of you that have voted for me thus far and helped to spread the word. Voting ends tomorrow (12/20) at midnight and results will be announced on the 22nd. Keep your fingers crossed that the next time you hear from me, I’ll have to add renewing my passport to my to-do list! What an amazing Christmas present that would be!

 

I hope that each of you has a Merry Christmas…may Santa bring you everything you’ve asked for and more!

“Faith is believing that the outcome will be what it should be, no matter what it is.”  ~Colette Baron-Reid

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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

 

Law & Disorder

Who’s in favor of the fat tax? Don’t you want to pay a surcharge for fattening foods or beverages?

As if some of the legal aspects of this country weren’t crazy enough (ahem…Casey Anthony anyone?) – here are some of the ridiculous, yet slightly humorous statutes from a few states in the US.

  • Arkansas:  No person shall drive a motor vehicle onto the premises of a drive-in restaurant and leave the premises without parking such motor vehicle, unless there is no unoccupied parking space available on the premises. – So does that make it unlawful to go through a drive-thru?
  • California: In Los Angeles, It is not legal to bathe two babies at the same time in the same tub. – Ummm…has Octomom been arrested yet?
  • California: In Riverside, Kissing on the lips, unless both parties wipe their lips with carbonized rose water, is against the local health ordinance.- Oh yeah…I’m sure this happens.
  • Illinois: A state law requires that a man’s female companion shall call him “master” while out on a date. The law does not apply to married couples. – Alright girls…make sure to call him master. Until you get married that is.
  • Illinois: It is illegal for anyone to give cats, dogs, or other domesticated animals a lighted cigar. – Is this a problem in their state?
  • Indiana: It is illegal to make a monkey smoke a cigarette. – Well maybe they can have cigars since my cat can’t.
  • Kansas: In Topeka, Servers are forbidden to serve wine in teacups. – I’ve never had wine in a teacup…think I might try that.
  • Maryland: In Baltimore, It is illegal to take a lion to the movies. – Thank goodness I can still take my tiger!
  • New York: It is against the law to throw a ball at someone’s head for fun. – Can’t baseball technically be considered a violation of this law?
  • New York:  A man cannot be seen in public while wearing a jacket and pants that do not match. – Thank goodness! Although NY strikes me as one of the last places you’d have to worry about this…Greensboro needs this law.
  • New York:  You may only water your lawn if the hose is held in your hand. – As opposed to your feet?
  • North Carolina: It is illegal to hold more than two sessions of bingo per week, and those sessions may not exceed 5 hours each session. – Nursing homes, pay attention!
  • Ohio: It is unlawful for a woman to appear in public while unshaven. This includes legs and face. – Remind me not to move to Ohio in the winter!
  • Oklahoma: It Is Illegal To Have A sleeping Donkey In Your Bathtub After 7pm – Good thing my donkey is awake in the bathtub after 7pm.
  • West Virginia: You may not profanely curse or swear or get drunk in public, or you shall be fined by a justice one dollar for each offense. – Well hell…I’d be broke.
  • Wisconsin: The serving of colored oleomargarine or margarine at a public eating place as a substitute for table butter is prohibited. – Only in Wisconsin!
  • Wisconsin: No rider of a bicycle shall remove both hands from the handlebars or practice any trick or fancy riding in any street in the city. – Look, mom! No Hands! Now look! I’m in jail!

You know what else should be illegal?! My freaking weight gain this week!!

 

And here’s where the ‘disorder’ comes in….I’m struggling a bit with something that I thought had hibernated for good.

No, my stomach isn’t hurting…and I’m not having digestive issues. But that’s exactly the problem. I’m not having any issues with eating at all. So why is this an issue?…well…because I’m wanting to eat everything in sight!!!

I cannot remember the last time that I have felt this good. I thought that it was normal to feel like you were turning inside out after eating. So I didn’t do it as much when I was at my sickest. Now that all of that’s gone, my small appetite has gone with it. Thankfully, I can’t eat like I used to. Can’t just raid the pantry or the fridge…can’t run through the drive-thru at McDonald’s….can’t destroy a bucket of fried chicken. I’m too scared of cross-contamination to gorge myself on Mexican food. Having to eat gluten-free has greatly reduced what I can pig out on. I have managed to destroy any popcorn or cheese that has come through the threshold of my house!  Red meat – come to mama! Cool Whip – I’ve annihilated it! All of it!

My food infatuations of late haven’t been all bad…I’m currently on a ridiculous garbanzo bean dependence. At least those are good for me!  If it could be delivered via IV…I’d be first in line. Ok, maybe not. But I have eaten them at every meal the last few days. Here are a few of the scrumptious, gluten-free culinary creations I’ve indulged in….

Don’t those dishes look delicious! They tasted amazing too! And to answer the question you’re currently asking yourself…yes, I will cook for you anytime!

I have the most debilitating fear of falling back into the wrath of my compulsive overeating disorder. I’m not at that point…And I don’t think I’m near that point, but I’m so afraid that because I’m not doubled over in pain after eating something that I won’t be able to stop once I start. Unlike the past, I am very aware of this fear. Perhaps this is the time that I finally persevere through something that clouded so much of my adult life, and led to so much self-loathing.

Despite my weight gain (dammit!) this week, I am not discouraged. I finally realize that food and body obsession rob women (and men) of their power. If we are so focused on what we look like, our attention can’t be invested in more important endeavors: contributing in meaningful ways to the healing of ourselves, our communities, our world. Conversely, moving away from food and body obsession provides the perfect training ground for learning the skills we need to take back our lives and develop our power in the world.

This whole journey is not about just losing weight. It’s about finding an incredibly vital, loving, wise spirit within me as I, patiently and sometimes trembling with uncertainty, strip away years of self-rejection and self-contempt. I am starting to peel the pain away by taking care of myself: eating the foods I want to eat, standing up for myself when I need to, and letting myself grieve for the waste of life that the connection between being “skinny” and “loved” has meant for me, and I’m sure many others going through the same struggle.

The fear of failure has been high, but the risk for personal freedom is worth it. I feel it is a crucial step in learning self-acceptance – identifying who I am, what I feel; rewriting my internal rule book; challenging what I have learned about what a woman should be, about my body, my appetites, my needs, and wants. Learning to accept what I think and feel as being okay – as being the “norm” for my world – has been nothing short of miraculous. It hasn’t been an easy road, but it is certainly worth every minute.

 

“When I was in grade school, they told me to write down what I wanted to be when I grew up. I wrote down happy. They told me I didn’t understand the assignment, I told them they didn’t understand life.”

Don’t Waste the Fat Pants!

I’ve given you a million reasons why I want to lose weight…well just for fun, here’s my Reasons NOT to Lose Weight.  (Disclaimer – this is a joke. I’m not really justifying reasons not to lose weight…so pick your jaw up off the floor!)

  • Shame to waste all my “fat” pants
  • 25-lb. bags of potato chips at Costco make unhealthy lifestyle extremely affordable
  • Time spent weight loss blogging could easily be filled with TV watching
  • Less sweaty gym clothes = less laundry
  • I can keep being everyone’s fat friend
  • Easier to maintain casual friendships with all those fast food drive-thru workers
  • Don’t have to answer that embarrassing “Are you losing weight?” question
  • Good excuse to wear sweatpants in public
  • Don’t have to worry about a lot of leftovers cluttering up the fridge
  • Get more for your money at an “all-you-can-eat” buffet
  • Fat is insulation and I don’t want to lose my warmth in the winter
  • Answer to all life’s problems? Gravy…or cheese.
  • Have gotten good at adding new notches to the belt
  • Guy that owns the local Ben & Jerry’s franchise really wants me back

Hmmm…I dunno. I make a pretty compelling argument, but I think I’m gonna stick with the plan.

 

 

Yay! Another decrease!  Operation Unprocessed seems to be a success so far!

I’m celebrating 2 months since going gluten-free! And celebrating 2 months since my body finally knows what it’s supposed to feel like after eating. All but one of my symptoms has completely gone away…the brain fog is still lingering a bit but I’ve been told to anticipate close to 6 months before it’s completely gone. (I’ll get into more of the ‘fog’ in my next post.)

This week reaffirmed to me how poor our labeling standards are in the US.  First off, since wheat is considered one of the top allergens, labeling standards require indication of wheat if the product contains it. What’s the problem with that you might ask? Well, I can’t have barley, spelt, rye or malt either…and no one has to label those. Yes, ingredients are all listed. And yes, I’m now a pro at label reading. But what about those catch-all words companies use? It’s so frustrating to think you’ve found something at the grocery store you can have and get to the very last ingredient: ‘artificial flavors’, ‘broth’, ‘spices’, or ‘artificial color’.  I try and avoid foods that contain these at all costs, but does anyone really know what artificial flavor is? Are food manufacturers just at a loss for the remaining 23 preservatives and chemicals they’ve put in something to keep it edible and on a shelf for 6 months so they just say, “Ok, those 23 things are artificial flavoring.”  I don’t like it!

Second issue I came across was regarding foods labeled Gluten-Free.  My mom bought what she thought were GF crackers. This paragraph isn’t to chastise her for the stupid stipulations of nutrition labels.  It was a good learning experience for her and a reminder to me about how careful I need to be.  After all, the packaging indicated they were gluten free in quite large font.  Knowing how tricky and deceiving this labeling mess can be, I decided to look a little closer at the package. And what do you know?! Right there under the ingredients: Product processed on equipment that contains wheat and nuts. Really?! On equipment?! As in, right after the cookie dough ran through, we processed your crackers. Well thanks for the gluten free claim! Not. FDA regulations allow them to claim the product is gluten free because there are no gluten ingredients within the food itself. It’s the “after” part that messes it all up. Cross contamination isn’t an ingredient.  Well great. Try telling that to someone with a peanut allergy when the cracker they’re eating was rolled around in peanut dust. If you’re doing the gluten-free thing, be careful. Use caution if product wasn’t manufactured in a certified GF facility! You have been warned!

I hope everyone has had a fantastic 4th of July! Enjoy the fireworks and the food and the friends and family! In honor of Operation Unprocessed, I’m off to delve into my favorite dessert (and patriotic too!)….

 

Fresh blueberries, Cool Whip, cinnamon and a drizzle of fragrant Farmer's Market honey! Yum!

 

Mmm…mmm…good!

 

“Life is not about how fast you run, or how high you climb, but how well you bounce.” – Unknown