Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Gluten Free, Milk Free, and sometimes Soy free...


We hear the word and we picture ourselves in a journey of self denial and loathing. But, we have a diet in this house, that sometimes has nothing to do with weight loss. Diet can mean your eating lifestyle. Diet can mean the way you have to live in order to live healthily.

Diet has been made out to be a battle and a four letter word, but in all honesty, all it means is what you should be putting in your mouth for living.

Because of diagnoses in this house, our eating lifestyle includes a lot of elimination of sugar, no gluten, no milk or milk products for our child and no soy or wheat for me.

Every time I think of the food juggles we have to maintain in this house, I realize how second nature it has become for me. But I forget how difficult it is for people who do not have food allergies, and for people who have to be subjected to going out to dinner with us.

That's when it becomes a hassle.

It's makes you feel pretty high maintenance when you have have to turn down pot lucks (or when all you eat is the food you brought). People roll their eyes when you tell them you don't eat bread or pasta. The no-carb movement has created a cynicism in the eyes of the public.

People don't understand that food allergies don't always mean peanuts and shellfish. It doesn't always mean carrying an epi-pen or wearing an alert bracelet.

I have met a lot of people who think that we are exaggerating when we tell them we can't eat wheat or milk. I have had people think I was lying and I have had people who think that their food didn't apply. I have had people take my (and my daughter's) food allergies as a personal insult because I could not eat the food they made.

Trust me, I miss macaroni and cheese, I miss bread and cheeseburgers, egg rolls, wontons, linguine and lasagna. I miss cheesecake and cookies and banana nut bread. If you make them for me, if you bring me muffins or offer my daughter a cupcake, know that it's not that we don't want it-- we cannot have it. It makes us sick.

I have to send food with my daughter when she has sleep-overs. If I don't, she invariably ends up staying home the following week to recover because she forgets to ask and sometimes accidentally eats something with gluten or casein. Sometimes even now, I forget to read a label until we go exploring to locate the newest allergy trigger.

I used to tell people that she was just gluten sensitive because that was what we found in her blood tests. But in all honesty, the only thing that keeps her from being called "Celiac" is the fact that she has not yet had an intestinal biopsy. She has all of the symptoms.

In Germany, in Europe even, it's really hard to explain to people that you do not eat pasta or bread. It's practically a sin. With bakeries on every corner and even Saturday fresh bread delivery, you get a funny look when you ask for the gluten free option.

We are the devils, and should live off of the land for the heathens that we are --seeing that we cannot eat bread (my daughter and I) and I cannot drink beer.

Therefore out of our trials, I can tell you we save a lot of money and calories by not eating out.


Here's where it gets tough.
This is what else we need to/ have to avoid:

Caffeine- caffeine is not good for IBS, it can trigger exacerbated symptoms.

Eggplants, Mango and pineapple- While the doctors tell me that food allergies don't develop overtime, these are foods we were implementing in order to supplement what we had to take out of our diet. They aren't foods we eat often and we have found that these three do not agree with our daughter. Which adds to the finding- new foods or unfamiliar ones are always scary.

Soy- soy is not good for growing boys, women with thyroid disorder or risk for breast cancer. I am not a growing boy and I hope I am not at a risk for breast cancer, but my thyroid cannot tolerate this food additive.

Milk- Casein intolerance is sometimes found in conjunction with those of us who have wheat sensitivities. That means cookies and milk are no more unless I make them gluten free and the milk is either almond or rice.

This has created havoc for us in ways we never would have imagined.

Vegetarianism- Vegetarian is way more difficult if you have to be a gluten free, casein free, soy free vegetarian. You might as well just go completely vegan and eat the grass in the backyard.

Birthdays- Ice cream and cake are no longer welcome. You might as well just offer us a steak.

Pizza Parties- Pizza is deadly for our tummies. Just pass the salad and the wine bottle, we'll chew on the candle wax.

Biscuits and Gravy- this is one of the saddest sacrifices that have died on the alter of food sensitivities.

Fried Chicken- Popeye's and Grandma's Sunday bird are no longer options for us southern girls.

What we are learning through trial and error: Thus far, the two best all purpose flour blends for gluten free bread, pastries, gravy, fry mixes and (The best damn even better than gluten laden) chocolate chip cookies is Arrowhead Mills All Purpose Gluten Free flour and Namaste Foods Flours and Gluten free Pancake and Waffle mix.

If all else fails and you are desperate: Gluten Free Bisquick is an OK substitute, but it pales in comparison, in my opinion.

Check back soon for recipes and even plug for Gluten Free foods.

I can promise you, the chocolate chip cookie recipe will make you never want a gluten cookie ever again.

(By the way--Are you a gluten free product manufacturer? We'll gladly sample and provide feedback.)

Sunday, October 2, 2011

When I should be dieting... I think of Rio

I don't know what the Brazilians eat, or if the women in Rio live off of anything other than salad, mangoes and Caipirinhas (which, by the way are wonderful).

Rio definitely has a "feel." I can only tell you I was THRILLED to be there and the time in that country was an experience I will always remember (and that was even without visiting Carnaval, or going to Lapa-- where supposedly the samba never stops--unless it's Sunday or Monday). The men in our travel group were extremely happy when the sun came out and the ladies of Rio decided to grace the beaches. What I do know is that they look wonderful. And the beaches, even in winter, feature women that wear their bikinis very well.

In general, the Brazilians can also tell by what you are wearing if you are Brazilian, European, or American. The amount of cloth on your body can be used by the locals to determine where one is from. Put it this way, I was on the beach and I wore long shorts. There was no mistaking me as a tourist.

Aside from the typical tourist talk of Brazilian beachwear --there is also a simple friendliness and joy of life that just seem to drift off the Atlantic Ocean and echo in the samba rhythms of the Brazilian nation. But... that could be the cachaça talking too.

What does this have to do with dieting? Well nothing really, I suppose. Except that the people in Brazil, in Rio, seem to take nothing for granted. Perhaps that is with my outsider looking in perspective, but there truly is a rhythm there, a spirit that I can only liken to the spirit of places like New Orleans, Paris, Prague, or what I would imagine one feels in cities like New York, Seattle, Mallorca, or Havana. All different cities, but ones that have definitive signature ambiances.

The embrace of life, beauty and self there could be that Brazilian women just learn to love and appreciate their bodies, not hate them like American women are wont to do (but I could be wrong, Rio is one of the world's largest plastic surgery cities in the world).

Over a year ago, in my quest to feel better in a bathing suit, I purchased a DVD pack that is supposed to help lift the booty...if the series "Brazilian Butt Lift" is anything like the workout regimen these ladies from Rio beaches embrace--the country must be doing something right.

This blog post isn't a commercial or an ad for the DVD, it's an honest account of my experience with what seems to be a pretty tough workout. I haven't even begun to attempt to think about the company's "P90X" series that I have been hearing so much about.

I am re-beginning the regimen tomorrow, but I wanted to talk about my first experience with it.

First, it comes with a booklet that lets you pick the type of workout you need for your butt and hips. There's a plan for the flat booty to be built up to more of a round "po(not the plan I need)" there is a plan for a saggy booty to be lifted and a plan for those who just want to lose the excess hips, butt, thighs and secretary butt. (They even send you a pencil to do 'the pencil test').

I already have (and have always had) a big butt, only now, the butt is way too much booty in the pants.

The first time I tried the DVD workout--I made it through 10 minutes of the first "Bum-Bum" workout before I felt like my glutes were on fire and my thighs were screaming in protest. A friend of mine who is in much better shape than I tried it and renamed the DVD "Brazilian Butt Kick." My child, who is an athlete, gave up 18 minutes in to the 30 minute workout... after I challenged her for pointing and laughing at my obvious awkward efforts.

Honestly, if this is what Jiu Jitsu, Samba, and Capoeira is like --I now know why those women can dance all night in stilettos and be up the next day traipsing around in their cha cha shoes.

I am hoping that if I can wake myself early enough to add this workout into my schedule, I will make it through the first Bum-Bum routine in two weeks.

Of course, that wouldn't be me working the DVD set the way I am supposed to. Ideally I'm supposed to rotate each workout each day but these Brazilians have no idea how out of shape I am. For example: this was supposed to be a blog about how sinfully wonderful jalapeño cheese Cheetos are and how I have to give them up if I ever want to be a Jack Lalane disciple.

It's not like I sit round my house noshing on Cheetos, but I have had them more recently than the last time I attempted to samba my way to having buns of steel.

Bottom line: I have given up Cheetos and I haven't decided yet if the Brazilian Butt lift DVDs are less painful than the actual surgery.

Also, don't ever ask me for pictures of my popozão.