Paleo Banana Bread | Acid Reflux Friendly

Have you been wondering how to make a paleo banana bread moist, soft, and delicious? How about a banana bread for anyone with acid reflux or any other digestive issues? This will be the bread for you! Simple ingredients and really easy to make!

Ingredients:

3 medium bananas
1/4 cup and 1 TBS egg whites
2 TBS olive oil
2 cups almond flour
1 TBS baking powder
1/2 tsp salt

Directions:

  1. Using a food processor or bowl, put the banana’s in and mash them until smooth.
  2. Then add in the rest of the wet ingredients – olive oil and egg whites.
  3. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, until smooth and no lumps.
  4. In a baking tin, at the ingredients and smooth out. You can grease the tin or add parchment paper.
  5. Put in the oven at 350 degrees F for 45-50 min or until golden brown and test with a toothpick and if it comes out clean, it is ready.

Let it cool down and enjoy!


The Positives of Celiac Disease and Having a Chronic Illness

When some one hears the word “disease” it is automatically seen as an awful thing. Even though no one is ever wishing and praying for a disease to pop up in their body, life does happen and you cannot choose your genetics. So instead of only ever seeing the awful side of the disease you have, why not see the positives.

I was diagnosed with celiac disease just over 3.5 years ago, and in spite of having my ups and downs I have decided to change my mindset and start seeing the disease not as a blessing or a curse but something I am in control of (excluding going out to eat and being cross contaminated with food). I believe that my diagnosis of celiac disease has changed my lifestyle habits for the better, and here is why.

  1. My diet has improved immensely.
    I’m not sure about you, but before I knew I had celiac disease I could eat the whole kitchen, including the sink. What’s even funnier, I never felt full, my stomach was a black hole. So when I saw a box of donuts I would eat the whole box, or go for seconds with dinner – sometimes even thirds. Even though I had a pretty well balanced diet, I still had the urge and craving to eat fast foods and sugar. All I wanted was the simple fast carbs and sugars to give me the quick energy because my body needed it after not absorbing any nutrients.

    These days, I eat less processed foods (try to not eat too much of the processed gf products as most of them have a huge amount of sugar in them – you will learn how to make things gf in your own kitchen soon enough!). I eat a more whole food diet of fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds, some beans (be careful of lentils as wheat can sometimes be found mixed in them), and lean meats. I’ve never eaten better, and I no longer have the urge to eat any fast foods or junk food as it usually is not gluten free.

  2. I take sleep much more seriously and have so much more energy!
    I was always tired, really tired, taking naps in the day or falling asleep once 2pm hit. Growing up I was anemic and could never get my levels any higher no matter what I did. After going gluten free my iron levels are the highest they have ever been and I no longer feel the need to take a nap in the middle of the day. I usually have energy to last me the entire day now.

    Before I knew about my celiac disease I was also having awful nights sleep. Not only was I exhausted throughout the day, but my body was not allowing me to sleep at night. Sleep is a huge component to increasing one’s immune system amongst many other functions within the body. I now take sleep very seriously as it helps my body heal from the damages within my gut. But also because I realize just how important it is for every day function and life.

  3. I have picked up my meditation practice where I left it.
    I started meditating back in university to help me be more calm getting through my classes and exams. Once I passed and became a certified athletic therapist, my meditation practice slowly became something of the past for me.

    Having a chronic illness can become exhausting, especially with having to think about what you are eating on a regular basis. As we all know by now, stress causes havoc on the body and it’s systems. Anything that may stress you out with your health, job, relationships or just life will have an effect on your bodies immune system along with all other systems. One way I have found to decrease this stress is through meditation, I really feel it on the days that I do not meditate. I can think clearer, make better decisions and my anxiety has decreased.

  4. I have learned what real patience is.
    I have developed so much more patience for finding, waiting and making food. I have more patience for letting my body heal from it’s symptoms. I have more patience for not having as good of a day as yesterday knowing that next great day is just around the corner.

    Everyone’s healing time is different, and because of this you will learn your very own patience with allowing it to heal in it’s own time. As I mentioned, I am 3.5 years into following a gluten free diet after my diagnosis and I still have symptoms pop up here and there. This may not be the same for you, but depending how long you were an active celiac before you found out, this may make your healing time a bit longer or shorter then someone else. Remember to be kind to yourself, you will make it over every hurdle, and every speed bump in the road.

    Repeat after me: “My body will heal in it’s own time. Everyday is better than the last. My body is amazing.”

  5. I no longer take the simple things in life for granted.
    I think back to the days when I went to a restaurant and would be so picky with the food options. If I could tell my younger past self to eat everything off the menu I would. One of the simple things I’m referring to is going to a restaurant and being able to order whatever you would like off the menu, and not have to worry about how it is being made in the kitchen. Simple things like going to a friends place or a party and not being nervous about how the food was made or what everyone else is dipping into the salsa while you are not watching it. Or even being able to go traveling and not have to worry a head of time about where you are going to eat when you get to your location.

    The simple things I absolutely adore now is when I have food made for me by a chef and they bring it to me themselves, or having a friend or relative clean down the entire kitchen before they make me anything as a sign of love and respect. I get really excited when traveling and find a certified gluten free product in the store, or when I get to a restaurant and they tell me that everything on the menu is gluten free. If there is one thing that celiac disease has taught me in a great way is to never take anything for granted, so now even life events outside of food, I enjoy fully.

  6. I am more aware of my body and listen to it more.
    I have had aches and pains before, but I never used to listen to them. When you have celiac disease and it feels like 20 small kittens are inside your gut scratching away at the lining of it, you begin to listen. I have learned what claws feel like and I know what my gut should feel like now on a gluten free diet. I do not see every symptom I feel as an autoimmune reaction to gluten anymore. I have calmed down and have started to take a few seconds to think through what it is that I am feeling and why it may be there. Then I do what I need to do for what my body is asking. My mindfulness practice has helped immensely with this one.

    I have also started to learn to listen to my hunger cues through intuitive eating. This seems to be a trendy word now a days, but this is an important part of digestion and a happy body. As I mentioned, before I knew I had celiac disease I would binge eat everything in sight as I never felt full. I now know this was because I may not have been getting the nutrients my body needed. Until a few months ago, I kept up with this same habit, and it has brought on some other health issues because of it.

    With the good news that my gut is healing, this means that my villi within the small intestine are able to absorb nutrients and my body can now become full. I have learned the hard way of listening to this cue, I was eating until I was overly full and to the point that my stomach was distended and very uncomfortable. I believe this has brought on the acid reflux I have been experiencing the last few months. Learn to listen to your hunger cues, your body will let you know when it needs food and when you need to stop. This comes with practice and I am no where near an expert at it as this can take a few years to truly perfect.

  7. I have learned a whole new way of cooking and baking that is fun and delicious!
    I grew up working in a bakery and I would always stick to the baking and cooking rules of gluten. However, going gluten free threw a curve ball I was not expecting right at my gut but I have learned a whole new way of making food. To be honest, it’s so much fun! Experimenting with different GF grains, different fruits and vegetables that I had never heard of before 3.5 years ago, and experimenting with vegan, vegetarian, paleo and every cultured food there is. I have learned a new and great respect for all types of foods from all over the world, now that I cannot be choosy and picky with the food I eat. My diet is so much more varied, so much more interesting and delicious. The best part is that my gut microbiome is loving all the different nutrients it can digest now. Just wait, your taste buds are going to explode into happiness!

  8. I have learned, and am still practicing, how to change my mindset from negative to positive.
    This is so unbelievably hard to do. Day in and day out I will have multiple negative thoughts run through my head. Mental health issues can be a part of celiac disease, but learning how to over come them is so very important. When a negative thought comes in I instantly tell myself, no. Then think of the positives of every situation or conversation I am in. Consistent negative thoughts everyday will have a long term effect on your mental health. Your body is going through enough as it is healing, there is no need to add more for it to think about. One way you can tackle this is by wearing an elastic band around your wrist and every time a negative thought comes in, snap it against your wrist lightly to stop your thinking process. Then replace it with a positive thought.

  9. I have more of an understanding for anyone in pain, especially chronic pain.
    Regardless if you have an autoimmune disease, a chronic injury, or something your body is currently going through, being in pain everyday will wear on you. With what my body has been through so far, I have so much more respect for the people in the world that have not found the answer to no pain just yet. This has made me a better and more understanding therapist, friend, sister, daughter, niece, partner and stranger. Until you have been through it yourself, you will never truly understand what someone is going through. Not to mention everyone experiences the same thing different ways. Just always know that the end is near and your answer will come to you soon enough. You are feeling what you are feeling for a reason, it is not all in your head and you are not alone.

  10. The most important one, I feel so much better! And you will too.
    I never knew what it was like to feel “normal” until I felt normal. I thought everything I was feeling was how it was supposed to be, and now that I know it is not, I am on cloud nine. I can think clearly, I’m not bloated everyday, my hair has never been so thick, my energy is back, my strength is coming back, and I’m starting to become motivated again. I truly cannot think of a better way to live and I wouldn’t trade it for the world because this is my world and I have worked so hard to learn how to navigate through it. Now I have the opportunity to maybe help just one human find their way through it too. And that is such an empowering feeling.

I know being diagnosed with a chronic condition at first can seem scary, unbelievable and leave you saying, “why me?” But once you start to live your new life, you will see and feel how much better you are and start to see the positives of having celiac disease or any chronic condition you may have. Don’t loose hope, there is always a rainbow after the storm. You will come to see it soon, and you will kick ass when it does.

Please Keep This Disclaimer in Mind:

Articles are for educational purposes only and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent diseases. We cannot and do not provide medical advice or specific advice on products related to treatments of a disease or illness.

You must not rely on the information on our website as an alternative to medical advice from your doctor or other professional healthcare providers.

You should never delay seeking medical advice, disregard medical advice or discontinue medical treatment because of information on our website.

It is your responsibility to consult with your professional health care providers before starting any diet changes, exercise or supplementation program, and before taking; varying the dosage and / or ceasing to take any medication.

We do not collect any personal information or store cookies.  You can turn off cookies on your web browsers.


My Health and Wellness Plan Back to Strong and Happy

There are a lot of blogs out there that are or have shared their wellness journey’s and I realize some of them can be construed as not health and wellness or they don’t need to be doing this journey because from the outside they look healthy and happy. Key phrase here is from the outside, we never know what someone is going through on the inside because we cannot see it. 

This is actually a very vulnerable post for me, but I think if I am up front and honest about how I have been feeling the last few years then maybe it will help someone else have the strength to do the same. For those of you who do not know, I was diagnosed with celiac disease just over 3 years ago from this post date. The first year after being diagnosed I was relieved, and had a great year of feeling better then I have ever felt – I finally knew what it felt to be “normal.” But then I went out to eat one day and long story short I was given the wrong bread and I became ill for 8 months after. Since this incident I have not been able to get myself back on that high feeling, and instead I seem to have hit a plateau of, “things are the way they are and this I just how it is going to be from now on.” It seemed like no matter what I did my symptoms would get a bit better but then come back, for a lack of better words, in a raging shit storm.  I have not been able to get my TTG levels to drop in my blood (antibody test for celiac disease) for over 2 years. This has discouraged me and made me unmotivated because it just seemed like, no matter what I did, my levels were not going to drop any lower and I would always have symptoms appear out of no where. One day I’d be happy go lucky and feeling great and the next it was like I had eaten the wrong bread again.

I guess the best way to describe this is by explaining what I used to be like. I was very active and loved it, I loved going to the gym and playing sports, I never stopped moving. I woke up excited about life and used to get up around 5:30-6:30am on my own without an alarm and never hit the snooze button. I would wake up and think, I’m going for a walk or just excited about what it was I was going to eat that morning.

Now, as I’m sure you can guess, it is the opposite. Over the last 2 and a bit years I have lost motivation and drive, I was always physically and mentally exhausted or not feeling well. It became very hard to get out of bed and I was always hitting the snooze button. I stopped being active and doing the things I used to live for, I became lost. I know having a physically demanding job that I absolutely love did not help with my motivation to be active, but I used to be able to look past this and still get to the gym and do something for me. 

I really feel as though it took the pandemic and being forced to stop working for me to realize where I had brought myself. When I was forced to stop I then started to feel all my aches and pains in my body. My left shoulder keeps going numb with neck pain and my right hip will scream at me if I do too much sitting or moving. The kind of pain that will make you wince and look as though you have aged 50 years over night. As an Athletic Therapist I know and have seen this all too often with my patients and know that I have lost my strength, mobility and flexibility. Once I build these back up and correct my muscle imbalances, I will live up to my last name of Walker and be an unbeatable Jedi again. I have been on again, off again, bloated with mental challenges and brain fog, anxiety, decreased motivation and drive, and decreased focus. If there is anything I have noticed over the last few years it is that the gut brain connection is a true and serious thing.

However, with all of that being said, I am happy to state that as hard as things have been in the past they are improving and from this day forward I will not accept anything but. It is going to be challenging and I will of course still have off days – but I will not let them drive me away from my goal of becoming strong and happy again.

So you may be thinking, how are you going to do this? Excellent question, here is how:

  1. Fitness: I will be working on my muscle imbalances and correcting my biomechanics. I will be doing this through mobility, flexibility and strength. There needs to be an equal amount of all of these to have a well balanced musculoskeletal system. So I will be making myself a fitness plan that will include all three of these components. 
  1. Nutrition: I have been dabbing into this component for the last 2 months already and I am happy to state that following the diet I have been doing has helped to decrease my TTG antibody levels in my blood and increased my iron. There is still a lot to improve in this department but it is a start! For the first 3 weeks I followed the hypoallergenic diet without consuming any grains. I was to cut out processed foods, dairy, certain meats, eggs, soy, peanuts, corn, tomatoes, artificial butters and sweeteners, refined sugars, and glutinous grains (obviously for me) but the naturopath had me cut out all grains just for the first 3 weeks. I followed this to a T and even continued it past the 3 weeks because of how much better I felt, but then, my digestion started to go wonky again and my energy has dropped. This is why I feel these full on restrictive diets are not meant to be eaten forever (other than the food you have to avoid for health reasons).

    Science actually shows that if you are under eating you will have immune problems and digestion issues. It may seem like you have a food intolerance but in reality your restrictive eating will cause digestive issues because the digestive system is not receiving enough energy, and if it does not get enough energy it cannot properly extract the nutrients your body needs to function. Mind.Blown. Therefore, I have decided that following a very restrictive and paleo diet long term is not the way to go for me. I believe my TTG levels being high is due to cross contamination in food that is processed and made in restaurants that are not careful. Also, having a very restrictive diet has made me very anxious around food, I’m always afraid whatever it is that I am eating will cause food intolerance symptoms. I know I do have some food intolerances because after eating certain things like corn and oats, I instantly have full body autoimmune symptoms. However, I do wonder, if I get my TTG levels to lower to zero, will these intolerances go away? Because technically once I get those levels to zero, that means my gut lining has finally healed and it will be able to digest food properly again. So as long as I stay away from my kryptonite, gluten, I should be okay to eat a variety of food again without feeing sick. That thought actually makes me so excited and pumped to get my gut lining healed.

  2. Mindfulness: This one is HUGE! I have been trained in transcendental meditation and started doing it back when I was in university as I used to have a huge amount of exam anxiety. This technique helped me get through my certification exams, and to be honest, I stopped doing it, and that was a big mistake. I told myself I was way too busy and did not have the time to sit and meditate for 20 minutes twice a day, but this is the exact person that needs to make time for exactly this as they typically need it the most. Since I have started meditating again, I cannot even begin to explain the benefits I have experienced in my everyday life. My thoughts are clearer, I do not snap as much if at all, I’m positive, focused and motivated. Mindfulness does not just have to do with meditation, it also includes living intuitively. If you have a negative thought come into your head, change it right away for a more positive one. If you are overworked, cut your hours. Our bodies need us to start living more intuitively because we all need to start listening to our bodies and giving it what it wants and needs.

These are the three ingredients to not just my wellness journey, but I believe everyone’s. If the health of our mind, nutrition and fitness does not exist, then we are more likely to develop muscle imbalances that will cause injuries. We may have a leaky gut or improperly functioning digestive system because we are not fuelling it properly or moving to help stools pass through your bowels or have a horrible gut brain connection where now the health of your gut effects your mental health and vice versa. All three of these components are absolutely essential for an overall well balanced health and wellness plan, you cannot do one without the other. It only took me siting down and writing this blog for me to truly make this connection. I always tell my patients to include all three but it has really clicked with me as to why.

Regardless if you are on a wellness journey of your own or want to see me through mine, I hope you find what it is you are looking for, because the sun really is brighter on the other side.

Please Keep This Disclaimer in Mind:

Articles are for educational purposes only and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent diseases. We cannot and do not provide medical advice or specific advice on products related to treatments of a disease or illness.

You must not rely on the information on our website as an alternative to medical advice from your doctor or other professional healthcare providers.

You should never delay seeking medical advice, disregard medical advice or discontinue medical treatment because of information on our website.

It is your responsibility to consult with your professional health care providers before starting any diet changes, exercise or supplementation program, and before taking; varying the dosage and / or ceasing to take any medication.

We do not collect any personal information or store cookies.  You can turn off cookies on your web browsers.


What is Celiac Disease?

Here is a video of me on my YouTube channel talking about what celiac disease is and highlighting some of the main facts that I think everyone should know about it.

Please Keep This Disclaimer in Mind:

Articles are for educational purposes only and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent diseases. We cannot and do not provide medical advice or specific advice on products related to treatments of a disease or illness.

You must not rely on the information on our website as an alternative to medical advice from your doctor or other professional healthcare providers.

You should never delay seeking medical advice, disregard medical advice or discontinue medical treatment because of information on our website.

It is your responsibility to consult with your professional health care providers before starting any diet changes, exercise or supplementation program, and before taking; varying the dosage and / or ceasing to take any medication.

We do not collect any personal information or store cookies.  You can turn off cookies on your web browsers.


Cross Contamination and Celiac Disease

This is a bit of a controversial but very important topic to bring up in the celiac community and to the rest of the world. This is important because when I was first diagnosed I was not told of the possibilities of cross contamination and how it would effect my overall healing. 

It does not take very much gluten to make a celiac very sick, only one crumb to be in fact. One crumb will start an autoimmune response in the body, and the symptoms could or could not be present. Cross contamination could possibly be one of the hardest things to keeping a 100% gluten free diet for someone who has celiac disease as there are so many hidden places gluten can possibly be found.

I did not know of all the places that could be an issue and I am still learning over 3 years later. Places such as a cutting board, wooden spoons, or even kissing your boyfriend after he dinks a glass of beer or eats one of those massive kebabs he loves so much . Coming up next are all of the places I wish I knew to be careful of sooner, including some possible problems with the FDA (this will be a post all on it’s own, coming soon).

Where can hidden places of gluten be found?

  1. Kitchen:

Cutting Boards: Any cutting boards that have cuts in them could be hiding unknown gluten, especially wooden cutting boards. Replace these for a cutting board that does not produce deep cuts, like a wood fibre cutting board. I bought one of these a while back and love them because the cuts in them push out rather then in. This is not affiliated, but the cutting board I found is called a Epicurean and can be found here. But also, when you get new cutting boards – label them gluten free specific just like anything in the kitchen so it cannot and will not come into contact with gluten.

Wooden Spoons: Gluten can become stuck to porous products in the kitchen, one of which can be wooden spoons.

Pots and pans, colander, panini press, waffle maker, bread maker, BBQ racks, stovetop, tabletop, iron pans and pizza stones: This may seem over the top, however gluten is very good at hiding in equipment with any scratches, small holes or crevices. Therefore, scratches in non-stick pots or pans will be a perfect area for gluten to hang out, same with a porous rock pan or pot. Small crevices on a stove top or inside a panini press or a waffle maker along with a bread maker (ie. imagine a pot of pasta water over flowing onto the stove top – I know we have all been there). No you do not need to go buy a new oven, however I would scrub every inch of the top and inside of that oven before you use it again for a gluten free meal, and replace any other equipment you can that was originally used for gluten containing food. Use a designated countertop, and if this is not possible, then wipe down and clean the area of any flour or gluten containing left overs of another meal or food preparation.

Note: Although this doesn’t fall into the cross-contamination area, it is worth noting that celiacs should take precautions against breathing in flour dust when using flours with gluten. Flour dust in the nasal passages can be swallowed and end up being digested. So be careful walking into gluten containing bakeries.

Kitchen Wash cloths, sponges, rags, brushes and dish towels: HUGE spot for cross contamination, be sure to be using a gluten free only sponge or cleaning utensil for washing dishes in your sink. The gluten will soak and stick to the wash cloth, sponge, brush, towel or rag. Label one that is gluten free and keep it away from anything gluten.

Toaster and Convection Oven: This was one of the first things I replaced in my kitchen when I first learned of cross contamination. The gluten crumbs will sit on the side, top and bottom of the toaster and oven and will then make its way into your gluten free toast. Remember: it just takes one crumb to cause an autoimmune response in your body as a celiac, have a dedicated gluten free toaster and convection oven.

Utensils: For forks, knives and spoons – be sure to wash these in warm soapy water and scrub well to decease the chances of a gluten meal transferring to your gluten free meal by mistake. I’ve looked into getting a travel set of utensils for out at restaurants – may seem like a bit much, but sometimes I get a utensil with left over food on them.

Pantry and Fridge: Spills or damaged packaging can spread all over a pantry or fridge (ie. flour). Be sure that if you do not have a gluten free specific cupboard or fridge to put all gluten free products on the top shelf so nothing can spill or spread from above down into your food. Best practice is to have a separate pantry and fridge, if you can, that is a dedicated gluten free space. 

Spices, processed foods, teas, condiments: These are sneaky areas that can and usually do contain a hidden source of gluten. Always be sure that you read the label of any processed foods you buy and be sure to buy the ones that do not have any gluten containing ingredients, it can be hidden as an ingredient that does not necessarily say “gluten or wheat.”

My rule of thumb, if the package says “may contain gluten” “processed in the same facility as gluten” I stay away from them. Being 3 years into my diagnosis, my TTG levels are still higher then they should be, and I have recently just been able to get them down lower than I have been able to in the last 2 years. My secret? I have cut out processed foods, and if I need to use them, I will only buy them if they say or have a “certified gluten free” label on it. Do your research on the product you are going to buy, contact the seller and find out where that food is being processed, you are not being a pain for protecting your health and asking questions. I know for me, the reasons I could not lower my TTG levels is because I was going out to eat at restaurants and eating processed foods. Do what you feel is right, but be sure the food you are buying is certified gluten free or do your research into the company because not all good companies have the certified symbol on their product.

Butter, margarin, jam, condiments jars; Avoid ‘double dipping”: Another huge area of cross contamination, when one uses a knife or other utensil and spreads the jam or condiment on to a gluten containing piece of toast then puts that utensil back into the jar, there will be crumbs going into that same jar. As I have mentioned, it just takes one crumb to make someone violently ill with celiac disease. The crumbs that have now been transferred into that jar or onto the slab of butter, can now make its way onto a piece of gluten free toast later. Be sure to label all condiments gluten free, to avoid any crumbs from getting mixed into them.

Lentils: This one deserved a mention on it’s own because a can or bag of lentils is known for having kernels of wheat or oats (or pebbles) within the product. Be sure to buy certified gluten free lentils only.

2. Other:

Body products like soap, shampoo, conditioner, tooth paste, floss, mouth wash, face wash, makeup, hand lotion, lip stick and lip balm, sunscreen, moisturizers for face and body: First things first, there is not a lot of research showing that gluten is absorbed through the skin. HOWEVER, using gluten free body products can decrease the chances of gluten mistakenly getting into your body. Lip chaps, tooth paste, floss and mouthwash is not an area of argument – all of these products NEED to be gluten free as they go into the mouth and can be swallowed. Shampoo and conditioner is to your discretion, however, if a kid sucks on their hair, or you are sweating from a good workout and it makes its way into your mouth, there could be a reason for cross contamination. Same goes for face products, sunscreen, hand or body lotion, or nail polish, if it contains gluten and you eat with your hands, or rub the lotion on your lips and you lick them, or again, you are sweating and the sweat goes to your lips, there could be a chance of cross contamination.

Playdough: This was one that shocked me as I work as an athletic therapist and would use playdough for hand exercises and rehab all the time. This fun dough to play with contains gluten, be sure to look for ones that are labeled gluten free or make your own at home. Another option is if you work as a therapist, you could wear gloves to avoid it making contact with your hands.

Envelopes and stamps: “Web site after web site, story after story, and book after book about celiac disease, repeat the statement that gluten can be found in envelopes and stamps. But it’s not true. Tonya Muse, senior vice president of the Envelope Manufacturers Association, states that adhesives used on envelopes do not contain gluten.” -Gluten-Free Living. This is an ongoing debate and I think there needs to be more research done in this area to get a definitive answer.

Plastic in orthodontic retainers: This was another area that shocked me as I have a retainer I used every night (thankfully mine does not contain any gluten). There is a plastic called, “plasticized methacrylate polymer,” this is a plastic additive that is sometimes used in plastic and contains gluten. Be sure to check with your orthodontist that your retainer does not contain this plastic.

Friends and family in your kitchen: Even though they can mean well, they may not know the nitty gritty on exactly how to keep your food and kitchen gluten free. Just be sure to be there when they are preparing food to help them along the way if they need it.

Kisses from a loved one: Regardless if it is your other half, your parents, a sibling, an aunt or uncle or a friend, if they have just consumed gluten of any kind, there can be a chance that they will transfer it to you. Generally, I think if they brush their teeth and use mouthwash, it should get the gluten out of there and be safe to accept a kiss from them, but I think more research needs to be done in this area.

3. Cross contact away from home:

Bulk Bins: The utensils used in bulk bins can be transferred from bin to bin and with that gluten can be transferred as well. Gluten can be transferred also by hands if someone is not using the utensils and uses their hands to grab the food instead. I would recommend not eating or purchasing any foods out of a bulk bin, and be sure to only buy foods in a separate certified gluten free package.

Deli-counters: Because some processed meats can contain gluten, the equipment they use can also contain gluten when they slice the meat. Be sure that the processed meats you are buying are certified gluten free and sliced on dedicated gluten free equipment.

Buffet: Another great place for possible cross contamination due to the utensils used. There is always a chance that someone who doesn’t know any better, could have used the same spoon to pick up pasta then used that same spoon in the salad next to that pasta. Or someone is grabbing something that contains gluten and the crumbs of it falls into your gluten free food as it passes over it. If you are at a buffet, I would personally ask to talk with the chef about your options. When I went to Vegas, the chef at the buffet was absolutely amazing with me, he walked me around the whole buffet explaining what I could eat and at the end of it saw that I was still uncomfortable so he personally made me food in the back and served it to me. Always speak with the owners or chefs before you eat at a restaurant or buffet.

Gluten free products: Products that are labeled gluten free (without being certified) could possibly still contain gluten. The product itself could be gluten free, however if it is processed in the same facility as something with gluten, it can contaminate the food. If there is not a dedicated line or equipment that is 100% gluten free, the processed food can become contaminated with gluten. So be sure to contact the company to know more about how the food is processed and where it is processed. If they cannot 100% guarantee the food is gluten free, do not eat it or purchase it.

Fried foods: When ordering fried foods, such as French fries, out at a restaurant, be sure that they use a dedicated gluten free frier, as a frier that is used for gluten containing foods will contaminate your gluten free food if used in the same frier. Always be sure to talk with your server about how the food is prepared in the kitchen.

Airplanes and traveling: Always travel with your own food from home or certified gluten free bars or products that you can easily travel with. If this is not possible, be sure to contact the airline ahead of time to sort out gluten free meals for you on the plane. You do not want to be stuck on a plane without a meal for 11+ hours, believe me, I’ve been there.

FDA and Gluten Free Labeling

This is a controversial topic that needs a post on it’s own, which I will begin writing and get up on this blog very soon. The FDA (Food and Drug Administration) in the US states: “The rule specifies, among other criteria, that any foods that carry the label ‘gluten-free,’ ‘no gluten,’ ‘free of gluten,’ or ‘without gluten’ must contain less than 20 parts per million (ppm) of gluten. This level is the lowest that can be reliably detected in foods using scientifically validated analytical methods. Other countries and international bodies use these same criteria, as most people with celiac disease can tolerate foods with very small amounts of gluten.” They state that ‘most people’ with celiac disease can tolerate these levels which means not all can tolerate it. Also, not all countries use the same labeling criteria, take Australia and New Zealand for instance, they have a 0% tolerance of gluten found in gluten free foods, probably why I felt great while eating over there. I’m not trying to pick a fight with the FDA, I just believe more research needs to be done on this topic. Blog on this coming soon, I need to do more research into studies on this topic to give you the right information.

There are more and more studies coming out on the cross contamination of gluten with celiac disease. Some studies showing that cross contamination does or does not happen in the areas I mentioned above. However, I believe more studies need to be done to know for sure, so in the mean time, it doesn’t hurt to follow general rules and guidelines given to you by your dietician, nutritionist or doctor on what foods to avoid and where cross contamination can occur. 

Please Keep This Disclaimer in Mind:

Articles are for educational purposes only and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent diseases. We cannot and do not provide medical advice or specific advice on products related to treatments of a disease or illness.

You must not rely on the information on our website as an alternative to medical advice from your doctor or other professional healthcare providers.

You should never delay seeking medical advice, disregard medical advice or discontinue medical treatment because of information on our website.

It is your responsibility to consult with your professional health care providers before starting any diet changes, exercise or supplementation program, and before taking; varying the dosage and / or ceasing to take any medication.

We do not collect any personal information or store cookies.  You can turn off cookies on your web browsers.

References: 

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24137038

https://www.schaer.com/en-int/a/cross-contamination

https://celiac.org/gluten-free-living/global-associations-and-policies/policies-around-the-world/

https://www.fda.gov/food/nutrition-education-resources-materials/gluten-and-food-labeling


Dry Eyes and Celiac Disease

For the last few months, my left eye has been very dry. It burns, itches and is very irritated, I have had this on and off for years but it has just become more frequent in the last few months. I went to see my optometrist and he mentioned my eyes look perfectly healthy and that it could be that I moved from a humid climate to a dry climate. I decided to do a bit more digging because the drops he gave me did not correct the issue completely and it only happens some days and not others. Because I have an autoimmune disease (celiac disease) I tend to see if any of the ongoing symptoms I have could be related to this condition. And sure enough, dry eyes can occur with someone who has celiac disease.

The Facts:

It is estimated that half of celiac patients not only show digestive issues but also other symptoms throughout the body. They vary depending on age at onset, gender, the strength of the immune system, and the genetic predisposition of the individual. There is a heap of medical evidence that the condition may not only effect the gastrointestinal tract (GI) but also affect the reproductive system, central nervous system, brain, and skin.

Can Celiac Disease affect vision?

In short, yes. According to recent studies, there is a strong connection between celiac disease and eye health. “The ophthalmic manifestations are within the extra-intestinal manifestations, and can be divided into autoimmune disorders and absorptive disabilities. The manifestations related to malnutrion are correlated to the low levels of vitamin A, vitamin D and calcium. It could cause retinopathy, cataract, dry eye and pseudotumor cerebri,” from the article, ‘Ophthalmologic manifestations of celiac disease.’

Celiac Disease and Sjögren’s Syndrome

Sjögren’s syndrome is one of several autoimmune disorders that can go hand-in-hand with celiac disease. Whereas celiac disease primarily affects the small intestine, Sjögren’s syndrome mostly affects lacrimal and salivary glands. These are glands responsible for producing tears and saliva in your eyes and mouth respectively. 

Relating this to myself, I ate a muffin one weekend when I was away on a course. It was gluten free but soon realized it most likely was cross contaminated. Shortly after eating that muffin I began to get all the symptoms of celiac disease and the worst one that weekend was brain fog. A new symptom that occurred that weekend was a very dry mouth and really dry eyes. This of course started to scare me because I have never experienced this before and no matter how much water I drank I could not help my dry mouth. My eyes were burning that weekend, and even with keeping them closed for extended periods at a time, they were very dry. This thankfully went away after a few days.

According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders, about 1-4 million North Americans have Sjögren’s syndrome, 90% are women over 40 years of age. The body of a person with Sjögren’s syndrome, cannot produce adequate moisture, which can cause havoc on your eyes. This condition is said to be a secondary autoimmune disease which is triggered by celiac disease. In worst cases, it can lead to extensive eye damage and even vision loss.

The symptoms of Sjögren’s syndrome can vary from person to person, however the most common symptoms is a dry mouth and eyes. Other symptoms that can occur are: joint pain, rashes, fatigue, and sometimes vaginal dryness. The eyes not only become dry but can also have a burning sensation.

Dry eye syndrome and Celiac Disease

Dry Eye Syndrome is a condition where the lacrimal glands cannot produce enough tears or the eyes are not able to maintain a normal tear layer to cover the surface. This can be a problem because the eyes cannot get rid of germs, dust, and other irritants that may come their way. This can cause a dry eye, burning sensation or feeling as though there is something lodged in your eyes. There can also be an array of other symptoms such as redness, pain, burning and stinging.

Some medical studies have shown that celiac disease may cause dry eye due to the inability to absorb nutrients from the small bowel. One important nutrient is vitamin A, this is essential for eye health. Decreased amounts of vitamin A can cause a drastic change to squamous cells (the outermost layer of the skin) and a loss of goblet cells (found in the respiratory and intestinal tracts, which secretes the main component of mucus). Both of these cells are important for the overall function of the eyes epithelium. Over time, acute deficiency of vitamin A can lead to dry eye syndrome and a list of other vision impairments such as night blindness.

In conclusion, celiac disease does not just affect the gastrointestinal tract, it can have an array of other symptoms that can affect all other systems within the body. Other autoimmune conditions can occur as a result of celiac disease or vice versa, such as Sjögren’s syndrome. I do not believe that I personally have Sjögren’s syndrome because these symptoms only occur when I have accidentally eaten gluten or something that was cross contaminated with gluten. It seems that once I begin to heal my gut, symptoms of dry eyes and mouth seems to go away. However, my TTG levels (blood test for celiac disease) are currently still higher then they should be, so malabsorption of vitamin A along with other essential vitamins can be causing ongoing symptoms. Regardless of what it is that you are experiencing, you should always consult a healthcare professional to reach a diagnosis or make a plan on how to get you feeling your best.

References:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4768497/

https://www.imaware.health/blog/the-connection-between-celiac-and-eye-health

Please Keep This Disclaimer in Mind:

Articles are for educational purposes only and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent diseases. We cannot and do not provide medical advice or specific advice on products related to treatments of a disease or illness.

You must not rely on the information on our website as an alternative to medical advice from your doctor or other professional healthcare providers.

You should never delay seeking medical advice, disregard medical advice or discontinue medical treatment because of information on our website.

It is your responsibility to consult with your professional health care providers before starting any diet changes, exercise or supplementation program, and before taking; varying the dosage and / or ceasing to take any medication.

We do not collect any personal information or store cookies.  You can turn off cookies on your web browsers.


Where To Eat Gluten Free In Melbourne

Melbourne has a very large hipster vibe with lots of little shops, boutiques and restaurants all over the inner city. Not only is Melbourne known for it’s wide range of graffiti and wall art but it is also very well known for it’s food. There is a huge variety of many different types of restaurants that you can choose from, ranging anywhere from Mexican to Greek, fancy bougie pubs, and bars that have a dark atmosphere but extremely fun rock and roll vibe. Depending on the experience you are feeling, Melbourne has it all.

If you have celiac disease or you are gluten intolerant, there are many options for gluten free within the city. I have to say that I am very impressed with everywhere I have been in Australia thus far for gluten free food. This is the first time I have been to restaurants and when I say I have celiac disease they understand that it is not just the ingredients of the food we are eating but it is also where and how it is prepared. Most restaurants will tell you honestly if there is a chance of cross contamination or if they have a separate cooking space, toaster, fryer, or oven. It feels like everywhere in Australia, they take celiac disease, food intolerances or allergies very seriously. However, keep in mind that regardless it is very important to speak to the chef, manager or your server about the details of your dietary requirements to be sure you will not become sick.

I wish I could have spent more time in Melbourne but here is a list of all the restaurants I ate as someone with celiac disease. Not one of the restaurants I have mentioned made me sick or caused a reaction.

1) Stalactites

This Greek restaurant, located downtown Melbourne, is highly recommended for those with celiac disease as it is accredited by the Australian Coeliac Association. This is the first time I have been to a restaurant that has the stamp of approval from the country’s coeliac association. There is a separate workspace for the chef’s in the kitchen to avoid cross contamination of gluten into any food, this includes chopping surfaces, oven’s, and anywhere to heat up the kebab’s and fryers for the fries/chips.

Mixed Kebab

Not only is it safe for a celiac to eat at, but the food is out of this world fantastic. This was the first time in over 3 years since my diagnosis that I have been able to safely eat a kebab. The food here is so good that I went three days in a row. The first 2 days I had the mixed souvlaki (kebab) and the final day I had the lamb fillet kebab. I believe there are vegetarian options as well along with other amazingly delicious looking gluten free dishes. However, I would highly recommend the kebab as you will not believe the pita bread is gluten free, so good that I want to figure out the recipe so I can make it at home.

Coeliac Certified Sticker

Each wrap I ordered came with a napkin that had the coeliac association sticker on it. This will both ease your mind that the wraps did not get mixed up, you know the chef knew that it had to be appropriate for a celiac with no cross contamination, but also, how cool is that?!

The staff is very friendly and knowledgeable about any dietary requirements you may have. The environment is welcoming and bright with a sit down and take out option, the food was also served pretty darn quick as well.

As I mentioned, I ate here 3 days in a row, all with kebab’s, and had no reactions to gluten at all. I would highly recommend this restaurant if you are in the area and looking for a celiac safe restaurant.

Location: 177/183 Lonsdale St, Melbourne VIC 3000, Australia

Phone Number:+61 3 9663 3316

Menu:

2) Roule Galette

This is a very sweet little French cafe located downtown Melbourne very close to the Flinders Street Railway Station and the City Library. This adorable cafe is located within the beautiful Flinders lane, mixed in with other boutiques, shops and restaurants. You will know you are down the right street when you see a pink painted mural on the back wall of the street of two kangaroos dressed up.

Chicken Avocado Crêpe

This restaurant has gluten free options suitable for a celiac along with vegan and vegetarian. They informed me that they have a separate gluten free crêpe maker to avoid cross contamination. The gluten free crêpes are fantastically delicious and have options of being both savoury and sweet. They were so good that I bought both a savoury and sweet crêpe in the same visit.

La Belle Normande Crêpe

I began with the avocado chicken crêpe, along with a French earl grey tea with almond milk and some of the best honey I have ever had. The crêpe is massive as it is the size of a standard dinner plate. The chicken was perfectly cooked, and was a perfect match with the avocado, tomato, emmental cheese, home- made basil pesto. Directly after this we ordered the La Belle Normande: Cinnamon poached apple, ice cream (can be vegan), homemade whipped cream, homemade salted caramel, my mouth was watering for hours after eating this.

The staff here are absolutely lovely, knowledgeable about dietary requirements and have some of the best French accents I have heard. The environment of the cafe will make you feel as though you have transported to France, the music is enjoyable and for over flow reasons, they have a small cafe on both sides of the cobblestone street. They offer breakfast, lunch, dinner and take away. I would highly recommend visiting this adorable French getaway for some of the best crêpes you will ever eat.

Location: Scott Alley, 237/241 Flinders Ln, Melbourne VIC 3000, Australia

Phone Number:+61 3 9639 0307

Menu:

3) Bodega Underground

If you like Mexican food, this is the place for you. Everything in this restaurant is gluten free so there is no need for anyone with Celiac Disease to be nervous about cross contamination.

Totopos With Guacamole and Elote

We went with the ‘feed me’ option on the menu, and as fantastically good as this option was, I would not suggest it unless you are starving…it was a lot of food, hence the name. With this option you get the totopos with guacamole, papas, elote, charred cauliflower, lamb riblets, two taco servings: carnitas, tacos de frijoles and end with the churros con dulce de leche. All of this food will cost you $50 ASD per person, and is to serve two people. This is a great option at this restaurant to try almost everything on the menu.

Every single dish we ate at this restaurant, I would go back for. The nachos are perfectly crispy and a great pair with their authentic guacamole, the tacos are a perfect size and just the right amount of filling along with being jam packed with flavour. The street corn was out of this world, I never would have thought to put parmesan cheese on BBQ corn on the cob. The papas were soft and delicious potato bites, paired perfectly with their chipotle in adobo sauce. The charred cauliflower was a meal on it’s own and I would 100% go back for this one if you are a vegetarian, it is a perfectly cooked head of cauliflower covered with a delicious cheese sauce. The lamb riblets fall off the bone as you pick them up and melt in your mouth. Finally, ending with gluten free churros…I never thought I would see the day that I could eat a churros again, this was a dream come true for a celiac. They were crunchy, covered in sugar and cinnamon and the dulce de leche sauce, I wanted to drink out of the bowl.

The environment of this great restaurant is fantastic along with the staff as well, I would highly recommend this restaurant to anyone looking for a gluten free option for Mexican food in downtown Melbourne.

Location: 55 Little Bourke St, Melbourne VIC 3000, Australia

Phone Number:+61 3 9650 9979

Menu:

If you find yourself by Smith Street, seek out CIBI and Saba’s Ethiopian restaurant as they are both just a block or two away.

4) CIBI

This is a very sweet and down to earth restaurant serving Japanese cuisine. It is not just a restaurant, there is a beautiful plant store and Japanese pottery, knives and other special treasures you may not be able to find anywhere else. I truly wish I had more room in my travel bag to get some items back home.

The staff is lovely, and at first they were not too sure about cross contamination or food being 100% gluten free for a Celiac, however the chef pulled through and can I tell you how much I appreciated this! The food was very healthy, light but filling and exactly what I wanted to eat that day.

We both had chicken dishes from there that were both fantastic. My partner Chris had the lunch bowl which consisted of slow cooked chicken with green olives and herbs served with beets and daikon salad and grains. I had the chicken soboro which consisted of free range chicken mince, cooked with miso and ginger, a soy egg, greens and edamame, mizuna salad served with their CIBI rice blend. The chicken was cooked perfectly and the rice was cooked in a way that made it some of the best rice I have eaten in a long time. I did not feel bloated or as if I had eaten too much food after this meal, it is very nutritious and a perfect serving. I paired my meal with one of their in house made summer drinks. I would highly recommend checking this place out if you get the chance and you find yourself on Smith Street.

It is a great environment for doing some computer work, going in for a treat or tea/coffee, or for an early or later lunch.

Location: 33/39 Keele St, Collingwood VIC 3066, Australia

Phone Number:+61 481 398 686

Menu:


5) Saba’s Ethiopian Restaurant

Vegetarian Combination

This was my first time eating Ethiopian food and after the experience I had at this restaurant, it will surely not be my last! I found this restaurant wandering down Brunswick Street when I was very hungry, saw their menu in the window and told myself I had to give it a try. They have a celiac safe and vegan friendly menu, I was told their chef is celiac, so they know all about how to serve you safely! Music to my ears.

Injera Basket

All meals are to be eaten with your hands using the fantastic Injera bread, not using utensils, however, I did see a few people using utensils to eat so this may be an option if you prefer. I went with the vegetarian combination where you get to choose three of their delicious vegetarian dishes, and believe me when I tell you, if you are not vegetarian, you will not be disappointed. It comes in a beautiful Injera basket with a plate inside of your Injera bread, which is made of teff flour. After this you are served your three servings of the vegetarian dishes you chose. I went with the Ful, Shiro and Dinish dishes, all were very flavourful and had individual unique spices and ingredients used. The Ful is made with fava beans, spices, egg and feta cheese (this can be made vegan if preferred), the Shiro is a chickpea and berbere paste with garlic and ginger, and the Dinish is potatoes, cabbage and carrots cooked in turmeric and other spices. Every single one I want to eat again, this is a very filling and nutritious meal.

The staff is absolutely lovely and the environment is just the same with a few Injera baskets beautifully placed on the wall to admire. I cannot wait to go to this restaurant again when I am back in Melbourne.

Location: 328 Brunswick St, Fitzroy VIC 3065, Australia

Phone Number:+61 3 8589 0442

Menu:


New Year, New Me… Resolutions That Matter

“The only thing standing between you and your goal is the bullshit story you keep telling yourself as to why you can’t achieve it.”

– Jordan Belfort

As I am doing my best Leonardo DiCaprio impression from The Wolf of Wall Street movie, I thought starting and ending with a quote from there was a great way to start my first blog post in the new decade.

I love this time of the year because it always feels like a fresh new start. A new start to the year (or in this case, decade), can be taken as a time to worry over what had happened last year, and years before that, or look forward to what is to come this year and make it your best year yet. It is all a mind set, is the glass half full, or half empty? Or, is it just a glass of water?

It is so often that we will make a long list of goals and accomplishments, and become unmotivated or bored of them. So this year I am setting just four of them.

1) Keep wearing your heart on your sleeve, because that is who you are, but do not let it affect your mindset.

Last year I found myself overthinking about situations. Things such as: what someone had said to me, noticing people following and unfollowing or ‘de-friending’ me on social media platforms, not hearing from someone for a long time, and wondering if people still like me. It is not hard to say that I am, and always have been, a people pleaser. I care a lot about every living being that comes into my life, and this is probably part of the reason why I am so good at my job. 

However, you cannot make every person happy, and not everyone is going to like you because we all have different interests and ways of thinking. So, this year I am going to keep my heart on my sleeve, but I am going to be more mindful of what is worth getting worked up over and what I need to just let go. Because it is exhausting and causes unnecessary stress on your body which effects your overall health. So, smile and nod and accept the things you just cannot change.

Let go of things that cause you stress and ultimately, do not matter. If your future self won’t remember or care about what is going on right now, then it is not worth the energy and time of your present self.

2) Get back in the gym regularly, no matter how tired your body feels. You have a new training style to smash out for your half marathon this year.

For those of you who do not know, I have been spending the last three years healing my gut after a diagnosis of celiac disease. There are times my body feels very fatigued and sore, this could be due to residual inflammation or just because of how physical my job is. But none the less, I have slacked off on my usual routine of going to the gym and staying active. I have also found it very difficult to find the motivation to get back into routine. So to counteract this, I have done something I never thought I would do, which is sign up for a half marathon. I do not run long distances – but I knew this would be the perfect motivation as there is one thing about me I know for sure, and that is, I cannot give up.

If you are in a similar situation, maybe not being diagnosed with an autoimmune disease, but just lost motivation; start small and bring yourself back to a regular routine. Believe me, I know it’s hard, so maybe you need to do what I have done and sign up for something you need to work towards like a marathon, a sports team, crossfit, or some kind of physical competition like body building.

If that is not your forte, another idea that is quite successful, is to try getting a gym buddy. Typically if you have someone to commit to, you are more likely to go because you do not want to let them down.

Just rememeber, great things never come from comfort zones.

3) Do not make a new year’s resolution or monthly goal you cannot keep up with.

Every new year brings new resolutions, and we either keep up with them or we do not. I think the biggest reason as to why we loose motivation is the simple fact that we put too much pressure on ourselves. How many times have you given yourself a new years resolution that is not feasible? 

“I will loose 40 pounds this month.” “I will go to the gym every day, twice a day.” “I won’t eat sugar, carbs, meat, gluten, grains, caffeine, soy, corn, eggs, alcohol, or dairy for the rest of the year.”

The fact of the matter is, things change and unexpected outcomes happen. If you put too much pressure on yourself to accomplish goals that you cannot control or keep up with, you will feel defeated and you will give up too soon. How about instead of cutting out everything in kitchen, you try one or two items. Or! How about you do something new by thinking, ‘I will try a new food each week instead of cutting something out.’

Being a member of the celiac club, I do know a thing or two about elimination diets and cutting out foods that you may be intolerant or allergic to. That is clearly a different story if it is an allergy or autoimmune disease and you have to cut it out for your lifetime. But sometimes you can cut certain foods out for a few months until you are back to full health and try to reintroduce them to see if your body agrees with them.

It is a great idea to try something new and see if it works for you. However, do not put so much pressure on yourself to complete something everyday. Sometimes if you do not get around to it, you end up beating yourself up and in a negative mindset. This doesn’t get anyone anywhere. So try something new for a bit and if it does not make rainbows explode out of your butt like a unicorn’s, smile and move on to try something else.

4) Cash is King but your nutrition, health and mentality is the Emperor.

I may have to copyright this one, as I think it could be my best quote of 2020. Joking aside, I think this one is the most important for me this year.

In other words, if you work yourself to the bone and let your health go to the back burner, you will never succeed. Now, that is not to say that you can strive to be a couch potato and not work at all. There needs to be an equal amount of working hard and making your health a priority. By making something a priority, you make it something that has to be done and you make time for it. 

I have spent the last two weeks off from work with a staycation, and it has been exactly what I needed. I did not realize just how burnt out I was until I stopped. I have been sleeping better, my digestion is improving, energy is returning, I am able to get out of bed again, my body has had time to heal, and I’ve had the motivation to do things I have not done in a long time, such as the gym and reading.

On a regular basis I am bending over backwards for my career, extending my hours and taking time away from my own self care to make extra money. However, if you think about it, all of the extra income that you are making may eventually have to be used later in life for doctor visits, extended health and hospital visits. Also, not to mention, most of it ends up going to the tax man.

Therefore, my last and final resolution for this year is to make my health and wellness my top priority, by spending anywhere from 20-120 minutes a day in the gym, out in nature, traveling, meditating, reading, writing in my journal, making blog posts, self care, watching a movie, playing a video game, just basically anything and everything that does not have to do with work. Yes, I do not have any children or pets, but as I said, it is about making it a priority. You are the only person that can take care of yourself, and if you are not well, you cannot take care of anyone else to the best of your ability.

This will be the year of balance, a healthy lifestyle and leaping out of my comfort zone; all without unnecessary pressure on myself. 

“97% of the people who quit too soon are employed by the 3% who didn’t.”

– Jordan Belfort

Bring it on 2020.

LEW 

xxx


Part 3: My first accidental exposure to gluten that lead to a gastroscopy

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to eat gluten again? I was accidentally exposed to gluten at a restaurant, and I can tell you that I never want this to happen again. This was my realization that I am 100% celiac, especially with how quickly my body reacted to it and for how long the symptoms stuck around for afterwards. Here is my story of being given gluten and how it brought me to doing the gastroscopy.

Just over a year of being gluten free, I went to a restaurant and ordered a gluten free panini. I told the server that it was for a celiac and to tell the chef to be careful with cross contamination. I saw her write celiac down and I then took a seat waiting for the food to be brought to me. It wasn’t until this day that I truly believed I was a celiac. I bit into the sandwich and I remember looking up at my friend and saying, “I sure hope this is gluten free,” because it tasted very strange to me. I ate the whole thing, and twenty minutes later I had major brain fog, a headache and nausea, and I was fighting to keep the food down. Then forty minutes later I had to find a toilet as I was puking and shortly after having very sharp pains in my gut. It felt as though I had eaten a bucket of razor blades. I then had a month or more of bloating, brain fog, sharp pains in my gut, muscle and joint pain, vision problems, hair loss, dermatitis herpetiformis, rashes and acne, decreased appetite, lack of sleep, menstrual pain and PMS, sadness, anxiety, irritation, I found it hard to breathe, and anything I ate or drank caused my stomach to bloat and hurt even more. 

The first photo to the left is a photo of the cystic acne that can occur with gluten exposure. The photo on the right, which also shows up on my upper arms, is a photo of one cheek from my buttocks with another form of dermatitis herpetiformis (I showed what happens with my hands in my blog, “Part one“). Both of these photos have been taken in the last year, and both of these conditions I had back in high school as well.

I finally went to see my doctor a month after eating the sandwich wondering what had happened. We did the blood test and my antibodies were right back up to greater then 300 (they should be less then 12). It took me 8 months to recover and feel like a human again and another 4 months to be my 100% normal self. All from eating one sandwich that was made with the wrong bread. From this moment on I had to go in every 3 months to have blood taken to test my iron levels and tTG levels, and the results were sent to a gastroenterologist and my family doctor. 

I think it bothered me more that the chef of the restaurant didn’t seem to care, I got a ‘copy and paste’ response from him with no apology. He blamed his front staff for not telling me about cross contamination possibilities but I explained that this was not just cross contamination, this was giving me the completely wrong bread. I found out later that three more celiac’s went to his restaurant and also became sick after my experience, which of course left me livid. However, from this experience and others over the last three years, I have now learned what it is like to fully eat something that is made with gluten and eat something that has been cross contaminated. 

A product that is made with gluten: you will know and taste the difference, and you will have an autoimmune reaction right away (as I mentioned at the beginning of this blog). It will make you awfully sick for months (mine lasted 8-12 months), and it may even bump back your intestinal healing time by a few months or years.

A product that has been cross contaminated with gluten: unfortunately, you cannot taste this. You may have symptoms of bloating, headaches or any of the other typical symptoms of celiac disease, the day of or a few days later. The bloating from my last cross contamination experience lasted 3-4 days but some other physical symptoms of rashes, acne, dermatitis herpetiformis, constipation and diarrhea, many toilet visits, and not to mention the mental side of aggravation, anxiety, sleepless nights, and depression (to name a few) lasted about 2-3 months after exposure.

The photos on top is after a weekend away being cross contaminated with gluten while eating out. The photos on the bottom is just three days after with a huge improvement in the bloat but not feeling 100% (I am completely relaxed in all photos).

For the first two and a half years after being diagnosed, I was only a celiac through a blood test. To be a “true celiac” you have to be diagnosed through a biopsy. In order to have a biopsy, you have to be referred to a gastroenterologist, and here in some parts of Canada it takes two years to get in to see one. Which means you will go two years of eating gluten free and then have to do the ‘gluten challenge’ and reintroduce it into your body for six weeks before the biopsy so there is a positive to the test if you are truly celiac.

One year after eating the sandwich and four blood tests later, my tTG levels were sticking around forty and I received a call to see the gastroenterologist and have the biopsy done. After review of my blood tests, she decided to not have me eat gluten before the test as she wanted to see if I was consuming gluten from something that may contain it without me knowing. She also said because of how high my blood levels were, she had no doubt in her mind that I was a celiac and did not want to put me through six weeks of eating my kryptonite (I dodged a serious bullet there). To add, I was sent home with a crohn’s disease home kit to rule this out, and this thankfully, came back negative. 

The Biopsy…

First of all, there are two types of biopsies. A gastroscopy (or endoscopy), is through the mouth and down into the small intestine, and a colonoscopy, is up the rectum and usually used to take a sample of the large intestine but can also be used for samples of the small intestine. What I had done, was a gastroscopy.

The day of the biopsy came and I was a bundle of nerves, not just because this is minor surgery, but mostly because this would be the true test to confirm if I was a celiac, and if it did come back positive, this meant I was still eating gluten somehow. 

The process of the biopsy was nothing to be worried about, you are called in and asked to put on a hospital gown. Then the nurse comes back in and answers any questions you may have and informs you that you cannot drive or make any legal decisions for twenty-four hours after the surgery. The IV is placed in about thirty minutes before you are brought into the operation room, where doctor will ask if you have any questions and ask if it is common for you to have a reactive gag reflex (because if you do, they have a liquid that can be sprayed to the back of the throat to stop this). You are then put under conscious sedation. 

A photo of me after the biopsy was finished; happier than a pig in shit…pun intended.

With my experience, I woke up choking (I did not get the spray because this would have been another hour of sticking around at the hospital after), but I only remember seeing a blurred vision of the video footage of my insides, and then fell back to sleep. I woke up feeling really rested and just a bit sore in my abdomen when I tried to sit up. I also had a sore throat. The nurse gave me a drink and a gluten free snack and checked everything was okay, and told me the doctor did not see anything relevant to the eye, but a few biopsy samples had been taken. She told me the doctor would be calling me in two weeks with my results. I got dressed and my ride came to pick me up, then I was homebound. I remember having a sore throat and abdomen when I would eat just for a few days after, and tired just one day after.

Two weeks later the doctor called and I found out that I was indeed consuming gluten from somewhere, and was officially diagnosed with celiac disease. Parts of my biopsy showed the damaged villi in my small intestine, which indicated gluten consumption and celiac disease.

To this day, I still have digestive issues including constipation, diarrhoea and everything in-between. This included colour and consistency issues of the stool, going to the bathroom 3-5 times in the morning from the moment I wake up, and after I eat, and to top it off, some foods come out undigested. I also have other symptoms, including brain fog, headaches, rashes and acne, hair loss, feeling dizzy when getting up from a seated position, bloating (to the point that I look 4 months pregnant), sleepless nights, insomnia (only had this happened once in the last few months), waking up in a sweat, menstrual pain (only once), hormonal imbalances, and bad PMS. I should also mention that in the last year I have had 8-10 colds, one of which turned into bronchitis and another a sinus infection; that means three rounds of antibiotics just this year. I have been waking up with phlegm in my throat and left lung everyday this year, except one month when I decided to go back on the hypoallergenic diet I spoke about in my last blog post. 

Photo on the left is a photo of me in June 2018, one and a half years after diagnosis with a huge amount of hair growth on the bottom of my head (you can see in the photo how much thicker my hair was by my shoulders). Photo on the right is me in Aug 2018, with my hair chopped to the new growth length.

So why do I still have symptoms even with being 100% gluten free? It could be because my gut is still healing after many years of eating something I should not have been. Research does state that it can take anywhere from 6 months to 5 years for the intestinal lining to heal after an exposure to gluten. It can also be due to little micro cross contamination exposures with going out to eat at restaurants and processed foods made in a facility that contains gluten, as everything else in my life I know for sure is gluten free. I have even started to switch over to gluten free beauty products such as toothpaste, make up, shampoos and conditioner and soaps. 

January 2020 will be the third anniversary of my diagnosis, and there is still a lot of learning and researching to do. But I am excited to share my path through this new gluten free lifestyle that I am grateful for, because I can finally start healing and help other people while I am at it, via this blog. 

The healing process of celiac disease can be very frustrating and may be a longer process then expected. However, this does not mean that it will never happen; learn as much as you can and never loose belief that you can do this. 

Until next week my friends,

LEW 

xxx

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Part 1: The beginning of a positive lifestyle change

“I was assigned this mountain to show others it can be moved.”

This is a progression of photos of me over the years. 2013: I was 24 in this photo and just a few months away from graduating from a very intense program at school, probably around 120-130lbs, pale, blackened eyes, stressed and thin hair. 2016: 27 years old, 155lbs and 3 months into what I did not know was an autoimmune response in my body. 2018: exactly one year after diagnosis, healthy and looking better then I have in years and feeling fantastic.

Just over two years ago, at the age of 27, I was diagnosed with Celiac Disease through a blood test. Six months before that I became extremely ill after a trauma from an accidental hit to the face with a hockey stick. Don’t get me wrong, now that I know about this, I realize I actually have had symptoms my whole life but just thought of them as my “normal.” 

Growing up I remember having frequent ear infection after ear infection and I do remember a lot of arguments over taking this artificial banana tasting medicine, which really wasn’t the best. As a fun fact, I have now been informed that repetitive ear infections in a kid can be a sign of a food allergy or intolerance. Now keep in mind, it is not always associated with food allergies and can be due to a virus or bacteria and can be a serious medical condition that needs to be looked at right away as it can lead to hearing loss or the infection spreading.

Along with ear infections, I had knee pain and other joint pain, seemed to get the stomach flu quite a bit, when I was 17 I had my first go at gastritis (which I now realize this may have been an autoimmune flare up because I also had another trauma; to my knee this time; and it occurred around the first time I had gastritis) and again another time 5 years later in the Dominican Republic (May 2012). I could never seem to get my iron up no matter how much red meat and iron supplements I took (this was before I realized you could get iron from vegetables and fruit as well) and I was always anemic (I now realize this was most likely due to malabsorption in my small intestine). 

Want to know something super ironic? I worked in a bakery for 7 years, yup, a full on gluten infested, flour in the air, bakery. This is when I really started getting symptoms; shocking, I know. 

This is my hand recently with Dermatitis Herpetiformis.

Symptoms such as: shortness of breath, anxiety, menstrual problems (infrequent, heavy, light, painful, PMS, etc), clustered blistering bubbles all over my hands (Dermatitis herpetiformis), hair falling out, nails always breaking and nail beds always peeling, painful acne spots on my face and buttocks, red bumps on my upper arms, mouth ulcers, stomach sickness, difficulty concentrating and I was ALWAYS hungry; I literally could out eat all of my friends in school. It was very difficult for me to gain any weight, I remember my family doctor telling me I needed to be around 140lbs for my height and I was always around 115-120lbs (I’m not complaining and I was really active but it was just weird eating as much as I did and not gaining any weight). My hair dresser always pointed out to me that I was loosing a lot of hair at my appointments and mentioned a handful of times that I had psoriasis on my scalp. I do remember having flaky chunks of skin come off my scalp in my finger nails when I would scratch my head.

Jan 2017, just a few days after diagnosis (super inflamed gut), to Feb 2017, just one month after. The difference after one month of being gluten free was huge. Also, take note of how messy my room was, this just goes to show how awful my mental state was at the time. I had no motivation and just did not care.

Before the trauma occurred, I was sluggish, gaining weight (I was around 150-155lbs, which could have been muscle), unmotivated, bloated, my hair was thin, and I was tired. After the hockey stick trauma in 2016, I did not know what was going on with me, I became very mentally and physically ill. It started with really low energy which I thought was from lack of sleep because my sleep pattern went from sleeping well to falling asleep fine but waking up all night. I had maybe 2-3 hours of sleep a night, which resulted in me nodding off in the middle of the day. Concentration and thinking was a struggle, my brain was in a fog all day and everyday. I started to experience becoming sick with the common cold at least once a month, which turned into a sinus infection which I was put on one dose of antibiotics for and soon after got my first ever yeast infection. PMS was HORRIBLE, I had headaches that later turned into migraines, cramps, bloating, and nausea. I had the Dermatitis herpetiformis (DH) rash on my hands blistered and cracked open with sores all over my fingers. I had a mental hit as I was depressed and mentally fatigued, quite literally crying 2-5 times a day over what seemed like nothing.

The last month before I finally went to get help (6 months after the trauma), I had migraines which I have never had before in my life, really sharp pains in my gut, and what got me going to see a doctor was my mouth bleeding every time I brushed my teeth and huge bleeding oral cankers as I know this can be a sign of malnutrition.

The stubborn human I am, it took me 6 months of being sick to finally consult a doctor. The first doctor I saw told me to go back on birth control…yup. Talk about negligence, keeping in mind he was a walk in doctor that was extremely tired but that is absolutely no excuse. Knowing what I do now, he let me walk out of his office after less then 5 minutes of talking, close to being hospitalized. Thankfully I knew better and threw out the prescription paper as I was leaving the office and the next day I went to another walk in and met the incredible doctor that I now proudly call my family doctor. She spent what felt like 30-40 minutes with me and listened to my entire story and all of my symptoms for the last 6 months. Palpated my abdomen and sent me on my way for a blood test looking into multiple conditions.

Fifteen minutes after this appointment (about 3pm), I was in another building having my blood taken. This is when I really knew something was wrong as they were having trouble finding my veins and getting blood from them. The nurses had to go to both arms to try and get enough blood for the tests.

9am sharp the next morning, when the walk in clinic opened, I received a phone call telling me my blood results have come back and I needed to go in to speak to a doctor immediately. This of course, got my heart racing. Getting my blood results back this quickly had me thinking I had a serious health condition. The doctor sat down and told me I had Celiac Disease and I was extremely anemic. To test for celiac disease they test for a tTG result in the blood (IgA antibody level) and this level should be less then 12. Mine was over 300, and the iron/ferritin level was 3.4 when it should be between 40-200. 

I left that doctors office surprisingly relieved and felt as though the bag of bricks I was carrying around had been lifted off my shoulders. I went home and immediately spent hours researching celiac disease and the more I read, the more my life made sense.

If you are in a position of not feeling well, or knowing something is just not right, do not give up – your answer is around the corner.

Next week will be Part 2 of my story, three years after diagnosis.

With love, be kind to yourself,

LEW xxx

Please Keep This Disclaimer in Mind:

This article is for educational purposes only and is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent diseases. We cannot provide medical advice or specific advice on products related to treatments of a disease or illness. You must consult with your professional health care provider before starting any diet changes, exercise or supplementation program, and before taking, varying the dosage of or ceasing to take any medication.