I don’t have Celiac. And the results showed no indication of wheat sensitivity. Not even close. Totally negative across the board.
In anticipation of this test, I ate plenty of wheaty stuff in the days leading up to it. I saw it as my last hurrah, so to speak. Delicious artisan bread, cake and sourdough English muffins drenched in the saltiest butter I could find. And after the test I committed to eating well and super clean, my attempt to flush the evil toxins out.
Apparently wheat isn’t so evil after all.
I don’t know how to feel about it. Part of me wanted a different answer. I wanted something solid to point to, something that I could take control of and actively change in my life, for her to say to me “this is it, and if you change it you have the power to make it all better.” I have gone on my gluten free kicks in the past, and none have resulted in improved health. I have even been completely gluten free for the past six days, and all the bad symptoms have been relentless, as usual. My digestion issues, pain, fatigue, skin sensitivity, hair loss, everything has stayed the same, just as they did before, when I went as long as six weeks without gluten. At the most, I had days with slightly better digestion, but the improvement never stuck around even as I remained committed to eating clean and wheat free.
But there was always the possibility of it changing, of feeling better. I suppose that is why I stuck to it, and why I was expecting something different this time around.
So now I will continue on, working to find the answers. I remain committed to eating well, resting, exercising, and celebrating the things in life that make my heart sing. Dietary indulgences will merely be an occasional thing.
It is nice to know when I go back to Paris I can stand on a busy street corner, spy a croissant through the window of a lovely patisserie, and indulge without harming my body. I am relieved to know when I visit Carmel with Husband this December for our anniversary, we can go to our favorite cheese shop in the village and pick up some bread, olives, wine and other goodies. I can sit on the beach and partake in all the deliciousness and not get sick. I will have buttery, sugary Christmas cookies to enjoy. If I want chocolate biscotti with my coffee I will have it.
But as wonderful as that all sounds, I still want the answers; so great and vibrant health can be mine.
The journey continues . . .
Photo Source: http://weheartit.com/
Later this morning I am off to the lab for another round of blood work. My last doctor’s visit on Monday included the usual complaints: fatigue, severe low blood pressure, pain throughout my body, headaches, digestive issues, even (and this is going to sound weird) painful skin. When I saw her this week, she told me my previous panel revealed severe nutritional deficiences. Apparently there’s a fancy pants test that can show how long vitamins and minerals are sticking around in the body. In my case, they’re not sticking around long at all. Something is preventing these healthy little buggers from absorbing properly in my digestive tract. And whatever the cause, it is making me more tired, more achy, and yes, even more cranky. Not very becoming.
So today’s lab visit will include the dreaded Celiac test.
To make a very long, complicated story short, I’m going to find out if I am allergic to wheat.
With all the things that are wrong with me, yes I have had this test done before. My doctor now suspects I received false negative results in the past, due to what I had eaten in the days prior to testing, or perhaps even lab report errors.
I would be lying if I said I wasn’t bummed out. I love all things wheaty. And if the news comes back with the result I am expecting, I am in for a radical change in the way I approach food. What does that mean? I will have to be much more conscious. Not my strong suit. I will have to be better at planning meals. Also not my strong suit. It also means if I want better health (and I really, really do) I will have to foresake my beloved cake, cookies, and crusty artisan bread slathered in butter; not to mention scrumptious sandwiches on that aforementioned crusty bread.
I have mixed feelings. Part of me wants it to be the answer. Then I know why I feel so crappy all the time, and I have an opportunity to be better. The other part of me desperately wants it to be something else, so I can say Aha! It isn’t my penchant for bread, cake and cookies, so there! Somehow, I just don’t think it’s going to go down like that.
So I will drive over to my neighborhood lab this morning with a heavy heart. But interestingly enough, I also feel thankful for the opportunity to know, and to feel better.
I get to see my doc next Thursday for the big reveal. I’ll keep you updated!
Photo Source: http://weheartit.com/
In my world, feeling great, even good, is hard to come by. If I’m not in pain, I’m tired. If I’m not tired, my digestion or some other bodily function is throwing a fit. Or I am dizzy, weak, or feeling a bit blue. It all has a way of interfering with life.
And I want to enjoy this life. So I tend to be pretty motivated to find the things that help me feel better.
I am very mindful of all the goings on with my body. And almost daily I read and surf the web, always looking for that special trick that will fix me. I am probably dreaming. But I can’t help but think there is a magic answer. As if some harmful little bug made its way inside me all those years ago, and all I need is something right under my nose, or on the shelf at the grocery store.
Something simple to be well.
In my quest, what I have noticed is how there is always the “in” thing. The new cool, miracle drink, and the latest super food. Or the hip new exercise gadget or cleansing ritual. And it seems that every once in a while, a new fruit or vegetable juice is all the rage. In recent years we have heard a lot about açaí, pomegranate, even dragonfruit. Açaí is wonderful, and pomegranate quite delicious (okay, I’m not so sure about dragonfruit). And lately I have been hearing a lot about tart cherry juice and its benefits.
Reading my April issue of Health magazine, an enticing headline caught my eye: Scientists report tart cherry juice is our new best friend. This brief but super informative piece really caught my eye. It went on to say how just one glass of cherry juice can lead to more restful sleep.
How does it do this? Just like oats and some other healthy foods, tart cherries are loaded with natural melatonin, the hormone that regulates our circadian rhythms, the rhythms that lead to quality sleep. I remember my mom eating dried cherries when we used to travel and cross a lot of time zones, she always wanted me to do the same. It helped us when adjusting to a new time in a different part of the world.
But all that wonderful melatonin is more concentrated when tart cherries come in the form of a glass. We would have to eat a lot of cherries to achieve the same melatonin levels that can be found in an 8 ounce glass of dark, delicious juice.
Health sources also go on to say that drinking tart cherry juice prior to a workout can aid in muscle recovery and reducing pain from over exertion. And there are other good and healthy reasons. It is loaded with cancer fighting anti-oxidants. And being an alkaline fruit, it fights dangerous acid levels in our tissues, helping to reduce disease-causing inflammation in the body.
Sleep is elusive for me. Husband has been traveling a lot for work, and knowing he’s far away makes it difficult for me to settle down at night. I have been in a lot of pain, too. And then the dogs drive me crazy, getting on and off the bed into the wee hours, because they are bored or they want to play. I don’t have the heart to shut them out of the room. Besides, if I did they would just scratch the door and bark anyway.
Either way, no sleep for me. For the past month I have started every single day with a pounding head, aching body, and bad attitude.
After weeks of this routine I was about to lose my already fragile mind. Poor sleep is the worst thing for us fibromyalgia folks. It amplifies our already high pain levels and all other symptoms, such as difficult digestion, sensory issues, poor concentration, hair loss, coordination problems and edema (just to name very few on a very long list.) And all it takes is one night without our precious zzzz’s to bring it on. When I read about the power of cherry juice, I was interested. How easy! Drink juice, sleep peacefully, and bounce out of bed in the morning feeling rested and healthy! I was so happy I could cry. I prayed it would work.
I visited my local health food store and found several brands to choose from. I read the labels carefully, making sure I was buying tart cherry juice. It is very much on the pricey side, which I expected. A small jar with about four servings cost me $6.50, and most health sources suggest two servings a day for optimum benefits. In other words, $6.50 for juice every two days if I am going to follow this regimen to the letter.
I look at it this way. I could spend hundreds for a thirty-day supply of some pain drug my insurance company doesn’t want to cover. Or I can spend $50-100 a month on healthy and delicious juice that makes me feel good without crappy side effects. Cherry juice won’t leave me feeling groggy and drugged all day. It won’t make me dizzy or make me feel thirsty all the time. And it won’t make my hair fall out more than it already does.
I had my first glass, and almost immediately I felt good. Warm and calm. Just the feeling I want to have before I lay down to go to sleep at night. Like a nice glass of wine without the compromising effects of alcohol. And if I was going to sleep I wanted to stay asleep. Wine has a way of making you crash and waking you up a few hours later without giving you that deep sleep you need.
On night one, I fell asleep quickly and slept a solid seven hours without waking up. I also woke up with significantly reduced body pain and a much clearer head. I was thrilled, and excited to think that the simple act of drinking juice could be so helpful. I continued this experiment for five days, drinking one 8 ounce glass in the morning and another one hour before bed. I continued to sleep consistently and experience reduced morning pain. I also felt a very foreign sense of calm throughout the day, and it was wonderful.
I wasn’t completely pain-free. But moving my body with less discomfort was like a miracle to me. And feeling so much better from the neck up, I felt like a normal person for the first time in a long time.
I know I won’t buy it all the time. Maybe some weeks I will buy only one bottle and drink it selectively when I feel I need some extra help at bedtime. Or if I have a stressful day, or if I do too much, I will drink a glass in the daytime hours to reduce my stress and help head off my fibromyalgia symptoms.
I have a new daytime ritual. I like to sit out by the pool, enjoying my cherry juice mixed with a tall glass of plain, sparkling mineral water, like Pellegrino. Even diluted, I still feel the calming effects, like I am doing something wonderful for my body. Hydrating, light, yummy and relaxing on a hot summer day. It really doesn’t take much to make me happy these days. And I suppose this is a good thing.
I would give anything to return to the former me. On top of the world. When pain and illness did not dominate my every waking moment. But I have lived with my new normal for nearly fifteen years now. I accept what is. And I am happy to have found something that will help me live with less discomfort. Adding it to my regimen of sound, healthy choices, I have a chance at a happier outlook. It obviously isn’t a cure. But it is helping tremendously.
So simple and delicious.
And as it turns out, cherries are quite fashionable, too.
For more information on the healing benefits of tart cherry juice, visit: http://www.cherryjuicepower.com/fruitresearchbenefits.htm
For more information on how tart cherry juice helps in achieving quality sleep, visit: http://www.naturalnews.com/030760_tart_cherries_insomnia.html
Photo Source: http://weheartit.com/
My disease is a complicated one, and there are many theories as to what may have caused it. Simply put, my immune system is terribly confused. It declares war on the parts of me that are healthy. The reasons for this mess can be anything from my genes to something unhealthy in my environment. I am the lone sufferer in my family, so my genes probably aren’t to blame. But at this point, an environmental component can’t be proven or disproven.
With the way we eat, the stress in our lives and the environment we live in, all of us can use a little detoxing. The seemingly impossible part is finding an enjoyable way to do it. Who wants to resort to extremes and deprivation?
When I was diagnosed nearly fifteen years ago, I wanted answers. And in my quest for knowledge I became fascinated with the inner workings of the body. I read so much and learned so much, I almost felt like a doctor without the required and lengthy education.
I grasped every bit of information I could get my hands on. I wanted to be well, and I didn’t want to be ignorant. That is when I started learning a lot about the lymphatic system and what it means to our well being. Essentially, our lymph moves waste, damaged cells and other icky stuff out and away from our healthy cells. It also moves those healthy cells around to where they need to be. This system relies on the movement of our bodies to work properly. It lacks a pump (what our heart is to our circulatory system), and therefore needs our help to get things moving.
I have tried lymphatic drainage a few times, a body treatment that involves gentle massage and pressing of lymph nodes throughout the body to stimulate movement of lymph. I’m sure it was worthwhile, but honestly it wasn’t exactly gratifying. The experience wasn’t really soothing, and it didn’t leave me glowing and relaxed, with happy muscles. I walked out feeling just as I did before.
I can’t speak for everyone, but I like to feel something working, like a good exercise high or invigorating shower. So when I started reading about rebounding exercise (or trampoline exercise) and how it is great for lymph and overall health, I was eager to look into it.
My local sporting goods store had basic fitness trampolines on sale for $40. I jumped at the chance to get one. I felt that $40 was a minimal cost, and once I got the hang of it, in time I could graduate (if I wanted to) to a larger, more sophisticated rebounder with a stability bar. They can be pricey, $300 or more for a really good one. Besides, not only did I want to get the hang of it, I wanted to make sure I even liked jumping up and down before I spent a lot of money. I wasn’t sure if it would be uncomfortable, everything bouncing and jiggling. And being sick, exercise can be very difficult. I didn’t want to try it once and then crap out because it left me tired and in pain.
I started my trampoline workouts barefoot, with what I call a “safe bounce”, moving up and down with my feet in full contact with the trampoline, or with my heels lifting up just slightly. This made me feel more secure and confident. After all, I didn’t want to bust an ankle right out of the gate. Something really cool and surprising happened as I was safe bouncing. My heart rate went up and it was very easy to keep that pace while moving my arms in different ways. I didn’t get tired at all, and I’m not in good shape like I used to be. Research shows that gentle bouncing has benefits equal to that of rigorous jumping. You can start this way and be very confident that you are doing your body good.
Feeling safe, I quickly graduated to lifting my feet off completely, and this felt easy, too. I tried a simple bounce up and down, lifting my arms above my head or doing a “jump rope” motion. I then twisted at the waist, and tried jumping jacks, too, opening my legs slightly (my trampoline is four feet wide). The time flies having so much fun, and it is so gentle on my joints. I have been doing this for several weeks and not once have I felt sore afterward.
And remember how fun it was jumping up and down on your bed when you were a kid? Well, this is your chance to capture that same free feeling all over again, but in a way that’s acceptable for an adult.
I have been doing about ten minutes five or six days a week. And I split up my ten minutes in four short sessions. Some days I do more if I am feeling strong. I enjoy it so much that I use it as a kind of reward system with myself. If I clean for an hour I will get to rebound for a few minutes. If I make all the beds and water the plants, I get to rebound. If I do a few loads of laundry, I get to rebound. And having lupus, it is also my job to rest, so when I do lay down for a while I promise myself I get to rebound afterward. Seriously! I never thought I would see the day when I would reward myself with exercise.
I am sleeping well, my digestion is a bit better, and I feel more energetic. And I get to experience that awesome exercise high after just five minutes of bouncing. What a fun and easy way to improve the health of my lymphatic system, and my health overall.
And ladies, I have two words of advice for you: sports bra. Things can get a little crazy with all that bouncing. Treat your girls well and keep them safe and secure.
For more information on the awesome benefits of rebound exercise, visit: http://www.healingdaily.com/exercise/rebounding-for-detoxification-and-health.htm
Easter may have come and gone just over one week ago, but if your house is anything like mine, you may have a bowl or basket of candy still hanging around. You know how it is. You walk past it and grab a few things to nibble on. And then you grab an even bigger handful (or two), sit down in front of the tv, and let the mindless munching begin. I have been known to take it to a whole different level. A few times last week, dinner constituted a giant milk chocolate bunny, two big Reese’s peanut butter eggs and handful of Haribo gummi bears. All washed down with a few cups of coffee.
And I wonder why I feel like hell when I wake up in the morning.
I know it’s bad. And if you have visited here before and read previous posts, you will notice my dietary ups and downs. Hey, I’m human. I believe in enjoying life and enjoying food. But that’s the thing. Part of enjoying life is feeling good. And someone like me, who lives with a chronic illness, well, we need to be extra respectful of ourselves. My chocoholic ways of late have been kicking my expanding backside. Bigtime.
Time to get healthy again. My body is literally screaming for it. For about five days now I have been walking around feeling incredibly stressed. Right down to my core. I just feel heavy, with nagging lower back pain and a lingering headache threatening to bust out into a full-on migraine. Even when I sit down to pee it doesn’t feel all that great. Every inch of me is pissed off.
To add insult to this self inflicted injury, Husband just made some cutesy reference to the upcoming bathing suit season, accompanied by a sly and horny smile. Now I’m really freaked out.
There is good news. I am really motivated. Yes, I feel that bad. I got back on the workout kick two days ago, as a detox step if you will. I do feel a bit more clear physically and mentally. And I actually do enjoy healthy food. But now I need to be more conscientious, and I have to plan. The planning part has a tendency to make me a bit crazy.
When things get like this and I have to get my act in gear, my go-to meal of choice is the very versatile veggie burger, perfect for lunch or dinner. Totally delicious and filling, and when piled high with its healthy buddies like mixed greens, avocado and tomato, it has a way of hitting the spot. Now, I’m not here to push my issues on you. Some of you out there would rather enjoy a burger made with meat. Yes, I personally prefer not to consume my animal friends, and ethics aside, my body feels better when I follow a vegetarian diet. But I do prepare organic beef, bison, chicken and turkey burgers for Husband. See? I’m not a total militant nutball.
I love reading magazines, and my home office is overrun with clippings of articles and recipes. I keep putting my organizing projects on the back burner. But when I received my March 2012 issue of Shape magazine in the mail, I was beyond thrilled when I turned one of the pages and found an absolutely gorgeous image of a veggie burger staring back at me. I tore it out right away and was sure to keep it right atop my desk so it wouldn’t get lost. I was excited to give it a try.
After my epic Easter chocolate super binge (and the subsequent days of self loathing), I ran up the street to Safeway after scanning the ingredients list. I had most of what I needed already. My two missing ingredients: zucchini and yellow squash. I was super pumped up. I had never made my own veggie patties before. With so many delicious varieties on the mainstream market, I can always find something good. We have come a long way since the original Boca patty days, with little else in the store to choose from. I love Morningstar Farm’s spicy black bean patties. I buy mine at Costco. Gardenburger also makes a portabella mushroom patty that’s pretty darn good. But I really wanted to give this a try. The Shape magazine recipe had seduced me, with its sleek photography and its descriptive writing. My favorite thing about it? The sentence across the top of the page that read “a savory burger your body will thank you for.” Well, hot damn! Just what I need! It was about time my stressed out bod got a break. I should be thanking it for putting up with me.
So here is Shape magazine’s March 2012 Recipe Of The Month, created by Executive Chef Marc Boussarie of The Counter in Culver City, California. For the most part I followed the recipe closely, though I did make just a few adjustments on the measurements, which I have listed below in parentheses.
4 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil (I ended up using 4 tablespoons)
1 onion, diced (I used 1/2 red onion, diced)
3 garlic cloves, minced (I used 2 large cloves, minced)
2 carrots, peeled and grated (I used 3 medium sized carrots, peeled and grated)
1 yellow squash, grated
1 zucchini, grated
1 teaspoon salt (I used sea salt)
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper (I didn’t measure my freshly ground pepper, but I know I used more than what the recipe calls for, I’m a pepper freak)
1/4 cup canned black beans, rinsed and drained (I used 1/3 cup)
1 egg, beaten
1 teaspoon paprika
2 tablespoons chopped Italian parsley (I used 3 tablespoons)
1 & 1/2 cups rolled oats
All-purpose flour for dusting (I used my Bob’s Red Mill stone ground wheat flour)
Level Of Difficulty: Somewhat Easy
I began by heating half the olive oil in a large pan over medium high heat, adding the onion and garlic. I then reduced to medium heat and sautéed for about five minutes.
I then mixed in my grated veggies, salt and pepper, cooking for about five minutes over medium heat. Next came my black beans, beaten egg, paprika, parsley and oats. I stirred together thoroughly, reduced heat to low and cooked for just a few more minutes. I then transferred the mixture to a large bowl and allowed it to rest at room temperature for about one hour.
After dividing my mixture into 4 patties, I coated each well with my wheat flour, and proceeded to coating my skillet with a few tablespoons of olive oil. Once my oil was heated over medium high heat, I added my patties and cooked for about five minutes on each side, turning about four times until both sides were golden brown.
The Shape recipe specifies 6 servings. I prefer to make larger patties, hence the 4 servings I came up with.
For lunch I melted both aged swiss and sharp cheddar cheese on my patties, and enjoyed on a multigrain bun with organic mixed greens, pickles, mayo, spicy mustard, tomatoes, extra pepper and a squeeze of Thousand Island dressing. I got fancy on round 2. I piled my burger high with extra carrots, cucumber slices, avocado and red bell pepper, and spread some cool and flavorful tzatziki over the top. The dill and cucumber in the tzatziki made it really interesting and delightful!
The burger was substantial, crazy yummy, and even though it filled me up I didn’t have that gross heavy feeling I have been carrying around for way too long. I felt satisfied for hours. I have to warn everyone that it was messy and fell apart toward the end, but a minor inconvenience for such deliciousness!
So how do I feel? Good! My digestive system is happy for the first time in a week. It really doesn’t take long to feel less toxic. It only tells me my body doesn’t want to feel bad. It is eager and excited to get back to life and feeling great. And I feel quite pleased with myself, finding a fantastic recipe that was easy to follow. I will surely enjoy these burgers again and again.
It is worth mentioning my burgers didn’t exactly look like the photo in Shape magazine. I panicked at first, thinking I did something wrong, but my concerns were unwarranted. In addition to tasting super good, they still looked fab.
For the PDF version of the Shape Magazine recipe and additional serving tips, visit: