Tag Archives: protein intolerance

I’m gluten free now, too… and I feel a million times better. Thanks, Wheat Belly

Black and white wheat iconOK, forgive me. I have been MIA over the summer months. I have a few confessions to make: Gasp – I hate cooking – can you believe it? Yes, the truth is out. I hate cooking and baking. I hate being in the friggin’ kitchen unless I’m painting something or eating a meal someone else made. So trying to find new, innovative ways to make low-allergen meals often falls by the wayside.

Also, I started my own business, which takes a lot of time. I used to spend the evenings after the boys went to bed blogging, but now I’m painting furniture ’til, well… really, really late.  You can check out my Etsy shop if you care to.

BUT, with that said, I have some really awesome news that I will try to keep short, but it’s kind of hard to because it’s been a pretty-life changing summer.

First I want to give you a little background on my situation: I developed Hashimoto’s Disease (a thyroid auto immune disease) about the time Lil Z was born. To be honest, since I had Lil Z, I have never been the same. I’ve had bad joint pain, I’m constantly exhausted and foggy-brained, and I have just felt off. It got slightly better when I went on thyroid replacement hormones, but really, I have never felt right.

I chalked it up to getting older.

And then the really fun part began. Asthma. In the last two years I developed asthma (well, “bronchial spasms” as my doctor called them because he wasn’t willing to commit to the term asthma yet). Anyway, I really didn’t worry about it much because I only had to use my inhaler like every six months. But then this horrible pollinated summer hit, and I was using my inhaler several times a day, and using Lil Z’s fishy nebulizer machine. But not much was working to keep it under control. I just could NOT catch my breath. I stopped working out and I avoided the outside. When I mowed the lawn, I had to do emergency visit to my doctor so he could prescribe me oral steroids. It. Was. Scary.

About two days after I started taking the oral steroids I realized my joints had stopped hurting and my ankles weren’t bothering me anymore. I also noticed it didn’t hurt to stand up anymore. And when I say “it didn’t hurt to stand up,” what I should say is the excruciating pain in my tailbone (it’s broken), knees, and ankles was gone. I told the hubs this and he said,

“You do realize that pro athletes take steroids not just because they make their muscles bigger, but because it makes them heal faster, right?” – The Hubs

What?! No, I didn’t. But I realized when I went on steroids, all my pain was gone.

Something was wrong with me. Very wrong.

I began to worry about what would go wrong with my body next. I began praying that God would help me get back my health, and I believe He answered that prayer.

Wheat-BellyA friend lent me her book, Wheat BellyShe had recently put her entire family on a gluten-free diet, and the changes in her family’s health were amazing (a story for another time).  I was skeptical about Wheat Belly, thinking it was just going to be a fad diet. But I was shocked. I was reading about me.

Davis explains that gluten helps create a hyper-permeable gut (aka “leaky gut”), which causes various compounds to escape the intestinal walls into the blood stream.

“So what happens if various obnoxious compounds mistakenly gain entry into the bloodstream? one of the undesirable effects is autoimmunity — i.e., the body’s immune response is ‘tricked’ into activation and attacks normal organs such as the thyroid gland or joint tissue. This can lead to autoimmune conditions such as Hashimoto’s thyroiditis and rheumatoid arthritis…conditions such as celiac disease, thyroid disease, joint diseases, and asthma.” – William Davis, M.D., Wheat Belly p. 83

Dr. Davis was the first person to actually explain why gluten can be so problematic for many people. I’d heard people say for years, “I don’t eat gluten.” When I asked why they always said, “Because it’s not healthy for you.” Uh, sorry, that explanation sucks, and was never good enough for me to stop eating it. I’d also read that there is a connection to Hashimoto’s Disease and celiac disease, but I tested negative to celiac disease.

Anyway, I went gluten free the day I began reading Wheat Belly. Within three days, my joint pain was gone and I rarely needed my inhaler. Within two weeks I stopped having asthma attacks completely.

Although they were significantly better, the fogginess and fatigue continued. I kept reading that the majority of our immune system is in our gut, and I realized that I needed to make even bigger changes to my diet if I wanted to heal my stomach (i.e. my immune system). I went grain free, sugar free, and dairy free for about month (this is getting long, so I’ll do another post on this at a later date). I also started taking really high doses of probiotics and diatomaceous earth (again, I’ll save those for another post). Basically, I started hitting my gut problem with a cannon, and I noticed significant results.

I’m now eating small amounts of fruit and gluten-free grains (basically when I have a weak moment and eat one of the boy’s cookies). I did reintroduce dairy, but realized it was causing eczema flare ups. I am hoping that in several months after I heal my gut, I will be able to tolerate dairy again.

Results since going gluten free:

  • Joint pain -gone
  • asthma -gone
  • allergies – I rarely take allergy medicine anymore
  • stools – normal now (sorry for the TMI – I didn’t realize mine were not healthy because I have never had GI pain). Let’s just say, if yours float and look foamy, you need to change your diet because you have a malabsorption problem. Sorry for the TMI, again.
  • eczema – greatly reduced. It flares if I have dairy or a lot of sugar/carbs. I notice that when I eat dairy I get dyshidrotic eczema, and when I eat lots of carbs and sugar I seem to just have itchy run-of-the-mill eczema.
  • itchy scalp (I know, this ones crazy) – gone. I know, you’re thinking, “you’re a weirdo.” I have had  an itchy scalp (no dandruff and no rash, just an extremely itchy scalp) for at least 10 years, but it is now gone. I tried dairy last week, and it came back, along with some pretty itchy eczema.
  • yeast infections – Soooo TMI here, and again sorry. I have had chronic yeast infections for about four years now, which are now all but gone. And I think this bullet point can get the BIGGEST whoo-hoo of all!!! Again, I think I’ll save the topic of candida overgrowth for another post!
  • My hair and nails are much thicker/stronger.
  • My impulse control around food is much better. I definitely experience the opiate effect that wheat can have on the brain. In fact, I know if I have been “contaminated” with gluten not because I feel sick (like my boys) but because I want to eat everything in sight.
  • I’ve lost 20 pounds, which I have been trying to do for five years!!!

Wheat Belly is a must read, and it discusses more than just the health impacts of wheat on our bodies. Dr. Davis discusses the history of wheat, wheat’s genetic modification, and he recounts several stories of patients who tested negative for celiac disease yet had dire health problems (ulcerative colitis, crohn’s disease, heart disease, rheumatoid arthritis) who went gluten free and experienced significant health recovery.

Homemade Sunflower Seed Butter – really affordable and SOY free!

sunbutter bread Manimal loves sunflower seed butter. If I put it in his oatmeal he giggles loudly with every bite, and he almost always steals his big brother’s sunbutter bread (He did this morning, and the day before that). Unfortunately, all the brands that are sold at the stores near my house are made on a shared line with soy, so they are a no-no. That leaves the Trader Joe’s brand, which is really good — except Trader Joe’s is 30 plus minutes from my house. A 30 minute drive to buy groceries when you don’t have small children is an annoyance.  A 30 minute drive when you have small children is like getting a root canal. My boys use up all their patience on the drive over and spend the next 45 minutes in the store making fools of themselves, while making the grocery store unpleasant for anyone in earshot (and Trader Joe’s is small, so that’s everybody). Whew.

With that said, I have not had a chance to make a trip out to Trader Joe’s in a while. But a few weeks ago, I realized I could probably easily make my own. So I did a quick Google search and found this recipe on the really cute blog, Life From the Roof. It was soooo easy to make, and it tastes as good as the main-stream brands.

I have always bought Dakota-Brand shelled sunflower seeds from Hy-Vee because they are affordable (around $3 for a 16 ounce bag) and they seem to have good allergy practices so their lines are soy, peanut and gluten free. This recipe took all of 5 minutes to make, and yielded about half a mason jar of sunbutter. Because the sunflower seeds I used were salted, I omitted the salt from this recipe.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups sunflower seeds
  • 1/2 tsp salt (or use sunflower seeds that are salted).
  • 1-2 Tbl sp honey (I used 1 Tbl spoon, but I would have used another had I not run out)
  • 2-4 Tbl spoon oil (I used canola but coconut or olive oil would probably work really well, too).

Directions:

sunbutter processorIn your food processor (I’m sure a blender would work OK, too), pulse your sunflower seeds until they are a grainy mass that looks almost like wet sand. Use a rubber spatula to scrape the sides (turn the process off to do this, of course). Put the processor’s lid back on and while processing the seeds again, add a tablespoon of oil. Use the same tablespoon to add your honey (this way the honey just slips off the measuring spoon without sticking or having to scrape it off. Add the remaining number of tablespoons to the processor, while intermittently taking breaks to scrape the sides. Process until desired smoothness and consistency.

sunbutter manimal

Manimal enjoys his homemade sunbutter sandwich while giving the camera his newest weird “smile for the camera” face.

Sunbutter mason jar

In My Pantry… what the bleep CAN your kid eat?!

The following is a list of Top-8 and Gluten Free foods that we keep at our house. Please be sure to always read the ingredients before feeding these foods to your child. Some of the foods listed below may have soy oil/lecithin in them.*

Bars:

  • glutino-gluten-free-breakfast-126176Glutino makes several “Nutragrain”- type beakfast bars that my boys love – a little too much. They will eat an entire box in one sitting if I let them, and they are kind of pricey; however, they are great if you are on the road and need an easy or quick breakfast.
  • Enjoy Life has several bars that are all Top-8 and Gluten Free. I love everything I have ever had from Enjoy Life – except for their bars. They are very heavy and dense. I hate saying that because I LOVE the products made by this company.
  • Peso BarsNature’s Path Enviro Kids has a few bars that are Top 8 and Gluten free. I think they are good, but Z hates them. When I bring home the ones with the penguin on the front, he screams, “Peso bars?! I hate Peso bars!” which is a reference to the Penguin in Octonauts). If it’s any consolation, Manimal thinks they rock. But, Manimal will eat anything. He ate a vintage Barbie shoe just this evening. No, in all seriousness, they taste like fruity rice crispy treats and aren’t that bad…

Bread:

  • All of Ener-G breads should be safe, but are like eating cardboard. If you can tolerate eggs, I would recommend Udi’s and Rudi’s Gluten-free breads.

Butter Replacement:

  • When baking, use spectrum shortening or coconut oil (you should be able to use it just as you would butter).
  • To flavor things like potatoes or popcorn, simply use canola oil and salt. It tastes VERY similar to butter. In fact, I am often so lazy, I don’t even waste time getting butter out of the fridge, I just use canola oil – I don’t have to wait for it to melt.

Candy

There are several Top-8 free candy’s on the market (the below list is not comprehensive. Feel free to add any that you may know of in the comments below). Unfortunately, most of them are chocked full of food colorings (namely red food dye).

  • Peeps (most of them are top-8 and GF)
  • Smarties products, including candy necklaces
  • Star burst Original Fruit chews
  • Starburst jelly beans, GummiBurst
  • Mike and Ikes
  • Hot Tomales
  • Swedish fish – Red, Assorted and Aqua life
  • Life Savers hard and soft candies
  • Sweet tarts
  • Heide Gummi Bears and several other Hiede products
  • Jolly Ranchers
  • Dum Dums Spangler Candy Co. said the following about Dum Dum Lolli pops: There is a trace amount of soy oil in the lubricant that we use in our cooking kettles. This soy oil has been refined, bleached, and deodorized and all of the proteins have been removed.

Cereal:

  • Chex (all the GF versions of Chex are safe for my kids). The Hy-Vee and ALDI knock-offs are also safe, but the Walmart brand “may contain gluten” so avoid it.
  • Kix Cereal. My kids go crazy when they eat the Berry ones because of the food coloring.
  • Trix Cereal: We use caution with this cereal. This is the most tantrum-triggering food I have found for my boys (other than gluten). On the rare occation we buy this ceareal, it is only as a small treat right before bed.
  • Cereal Gorilla munchNatures Path Enviro Kids Cereals – Many cereals of this brand are gluten and top-8 free, and my kids really like them. Unfortunately, they are sort of pricey, so we only buy them when they are on sale.

 

Chips/Crunchy Snacks:

  • Freetos (we also buy the ALDI brand for $.99 per bag, but they have soy lecithin. Soy lecithin doesn’t seem to bother my boys anymore). I believe the flavored Freetos are not Top-8 free, so read the ingredients!
  • Corn Tortilla Chips: Most corn chips are safe, but always read the ingredients. Sometimes they squeeze things like soy or oats in them. In fact, some of ALDI’s corn chips say “naturally gluten free” but have oats in them. I doubt these chips are made with specially-grown oats, so I have never given them to my boys.
  • Pretzels: Glutino and Snyders of Hanover (both contain soy oil/lecithin). Glutino’s pretzels glutinoare the best hard pretzels in my opinion, even over gluten ones, which makes sense since they are around $8 a bag!!! Energ-G makes some as well, but these are for highly allergic people and thus have very little flavor.
  • Popcorn: unfortunately, I don’t know of any microwave popcorn that is dairy-free. When my boys want popcorn I make it on the stove top (an air popper would work too) in canola or corn oil. Instead of using butter, drizzle canola over it before salting. I can barely taste a difference between that and buttered popcorn. Sooo good.
  • Kettle corn – several bagged kettle corns are safe. Orville Redenbacher makes a really good one that my kids plow through.Kettle corn
  • Potato Chips – Most potato chips should be safe; however, beware of Pringles, which has gluten. Original Stax are safe for my kids but contain soy oil.

Convenience Main dishes:

  • Hot Dogs – many hot dog brands are gluten and top-8 free. Oscar Meyer even makes ones that are nitrate free, so if you or little ones can’t have nitrates, these are a great solution.
  • Ian’s chicken nuggets – These are really tasty!ians chick nug
  • Mission corn tortillas and tostadas are also top-8 and Gluten Free. We also buy the ALDI tostadas, but they have soy oil/lecithin.

Cookies:

  • We trust anything by Enjoy Life. My favorite are the crispy cookies, but the hubs prefers the soft-baked cookies. They are all pretty good (except their bars – avoid their bars).
  • Hodgson Mills has a great mix, but other companies make them too. See my recipes for egg and butter replacers.

Egg Replacer:

  • Make your own egg replacer by mixing a tablespoon of ground/milled flax seed and 2 table spoons of water (stir them together and let them sit for several minutes until they are goopy like an egg-Do you like my scientific lingo?).
  • Ener-G makes an egg -replacer you can buy at any health food store.

Frozen Treats

  • Most popsicles are gluten and top-8 free – yay!
    Sorbet is a great replacement for ice cream. Don’t confuse it with Sherbet, which has dairy.
  • Coconut Ice Cream – I’ve never tried it, but I hear it really good.

Fruit Snacks:

  • Many fruit snacks and candies made by Betty Crocker (a General Mills company) are gluten and top-8 free, and are safe for my boys; however, they go nutso when they eat certain food colorings (i.e. they have trouble falling asleep and they throw lots-o-tantrums).
  • fruit snacksLunch Buddies All Natural Assorted Fruit Snacks (ALDI)– These are soooo good, and they are made with fruit juices and natural vegetable dyes (like red cabbage), so you are not dealing with crazy children when the food coloring hits their systems. I think they taste better because they don’t taste artificial like other fruit snacks. We buy these by the truckload!

 

Milk

  • Rice Dream – I have not found any other rice milk brands out there that are soy free. I am sure some exist, so if you know of any, please feel free to post comments! The people who run Rice Dream are great, and if you write them telling them how much you appreciate their product they will send you kick-butt coupons to use on their products.
  • Almond milk – I know almonds are a top-8 allergen, but if you can tolerate tree nuts, almond milk is better tasting in my opinion than rice milk, and it tastes more like cows milk. It also makes me feel more full than cows milk or rice milk. I often find it cheaper than Rice Dream if I use coupons or buy it at ALDI. Unlike rice milk, every almond milk I have found is free of soy and other top allergens. But please, always read the label!

Pancakes/Waffles:

  • Be sure to check out my egg replacer/butter replacers when making mixes!
  • Hodson Mills makes a really good pancake mix I buy at Walmart for about $3.50 a box
  • Bob’s Red Mill has a good pancake mix; although it’s good, I still perfer the flavor and texture of the Hodson Mills mix better.

Peanut Butter Replacement:

Sunflower Seed Butter is the BEST replacement for peanut butter around. It is very similar in flavor and texture to peanut butter. In fact, when it’s in a “PB&J,” I forget I am not eating peanut butter.

  • Trader Joe’s Sunflower Seed butter is soy-free and costs around $5.
  • Sunbutter makes some, but it has soy oil in it. You can find it at Target (and probably Walmart) for around $6.50).

*some of these foods may have soy lecithin/oil, so always read the ingredients! Usually, soy oil/lecithin is refined and the proteins are removed. Because of this, it is usually not an issue for those who are intolerant/allergic to soy. However, my boys could not handle any soy oil until they were about a year and a half or older.

Sunbutter Crisps – Hodgson Mills Gluten Free Cookie Mix

Hodgson Mills Cookies 2The other day I was excited to discover Hodgson Mill Gluten Free Cookie Mix, 12-Ounce (Pack of 6) at Walmart. It was a pretty good price – under $3 a box, which is pretty cheap for gluten-free anything.

I brought it home, thinking I would prepare it without eggs and butter, so it would be totally Top 8 free; however, while I was at work that night, The Hubs apparently decided to be father of the year and bake the boys cookies. Well, he made them with Sunbutter and canola oil Hodson Mills Cookies(which is what I would have done) but he also used eggs… sigh. Oh well. The next time I get this mix, which will be soon, I will make them with flax to see how they turn out.

These were amazing. AMAZING. I love crispy cookies, and these were just that – crunchy and crispy, and they didn’t taste gluten free at all. If you can’t have eggs, use an egg replacer, or make your own using a tablespoon of ground/milled flax seed and 2 table spoons of water (mix them together and let them sit for several minutes til they are goopy like an egg).

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 1/2 cup sunbutter (we use Trader Joe’s)
  • 1 large egg or egg replacer (see above)
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 box HM GF Cookie Mix

blend the wet ingredients together and add them to the cookie mix. Stir until well blended. put rounded spoonfuls on a cookie sheet and bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 14-15 minutes, or until the cookies are golden brown and have crispy edges.

The ingredients in the box are: Brown Rice Flour, Sugar, Tapioca Starch, Amaranth Flour, Cornstarch, Baking Soda, Xanthan Gum, Flake Salt.

Denial, Hangups, Pumpkin Pie… and Action

pum

Photo Courtesy Mrs. Smith’s

I’ve been in denial for months. For starters, Lil Z has been eating dairy for a couple years now with no issues, or at least that is what I thought. But for a while now months, he’s been complaining that his stomach hurts. Well, he’s gluten free. He’s peanut free. Other than having a few foods with soybean oil, he’s soy free. The kid won’t eat eggs or many breads that have eggs (because he’s picky or has oral aversions caused by the pain that those foods used to cause him – I am not really sure). But he does eat dairy. Not in large quantities – he won’t eat much ice cream. He hates yogurt, and he’s never even tried cows milk.

With that said, Lil Z has had maybe five solid stools his entire life. In fact, he often has diarrhea three or four times a day. I thought that is just how his GI tract worked. But, he continues to have the allergy ring I discussed in a previous post, and until I did that post, I didn’t know that was a sign of an allergy/intolerance. I thought Z just had a yeast problem.

But there is one difference I have noticed with Manimal: He does have solid stools as long as he is soy and dairy free. After the Tootsie Roll incident at Easter Manimal’s GI reaction proved that he cannot have dairy and soy. But finally after four days dairy and soy free, he is back to normal.

So what I am saying is that I think dairy is still bothering Lil Z, and I just don’t want to fight with him over his two favorite foods: quesadillas and Cheetos. The kid eats those a lot. In fact, he would only eat those two foods if we would let him. And he is already on such a restricted diet that I feel mean. But, I need to get over it, and be a good mom and make sure dairy is not still bothering him.

And with that said, I need to get over my denial and face the facts that I may have celiac disease myself. No, I don’t have GI issues. I do have Hashimoto’s, an autoimmune thyroid disease. And for the last couple of years I have read that many people with autoimmune thyroid diseases should be screened for celiac. Apparently, eating gluten when you have celiac can trigger thyroid diseases.

Well, I have known this, but I’ve been in denial. I’ve been ignoring the fact that I have a constant itchy rash on my hands that wont go away unless I continually rub it with steroid creams. Or no matter how perfect my thyroid levels are, my memory is not what it used to be, and I oftentimes have trouble retrieving simple vocabulary words (in fact, I just now had to pause and close my eyes to remember the word “steroid.” That is not normal, and I never used to be like that). I also can’t shake the fatigue or fogginess that come over me, even when my thyroid levels are correct. And the final straw – my brother’s daughter has celiac disease. It’s no longer an issue that is a curse from my husband’s family. It seems to be on my side, too.

I don’t want to be gluten free. Sure, I eat that way at home almost everyday and it’s really not that hard when you know what you are doing. But, when the hubs and I go out, I don’t want to be selective about where we eat. I don’t want to have to explain to my mom and others who “just don’t get it” why my kids (and now possibly me) can’t eat gluten. I don’t want to have to go to family functions where all the food is contaminated by my grandma’s pie crumbs. I just don’t want to do it. And I don’t want to eat gluten free pumpkin pie. I don’t care how great the gluten free crust is. It’s not the crust I grew up eating.

I know. It’s stupid, that a huge hangup is Pumpkin friggin’ pie. But I need to get over that . Because if I expect that from my children, the least I can do it make sure I am walking the talk. And with that said, I am getting tested tomorrow at 11 a.m.

Easter and the Case of the Exploding Diaper

Manimal EasterYesterday was Easter and we had a fun Easter-egg hunt at church and one in our backyard.  It was a great day.

Last night was… not so great. Manimal clearly is still intolerant to dairy and soy, and his waking every two hours last night proved that.

Unfortunately, we didn’t have a plan for keeping Manimal away from all the candy with dairy and soy (namely the Tootsie Rolls, which he can open by himself). On top of that, saying, “No, no, that’s an ouchy in your tummy,” doesn’t work on him like it did for Lil Z, the ever-present rule-follower. Unlike his brother, Manimal is a risk-taker, so regardless of what we tell him, he does what he wants when our backs are turned.

By 10 a.m. yesterday, Manimal had already ingested several Tootsie Rolls. by 1 p.m., his pants had erupted onto the living-room floor and his belly was distended (The Hubs thought one of the boys had spit chocolate onto the floor, but to his disgust – it wasn’t chocolate). After that, we were conscientious of making sure Manimal didn’t get any more dairy or soy, but unfortunately his big brother was not so conscientious of where he left his Easter basket, and Manimal took full advantage of Lil Z’s forgetfulness.

Z dumps basketBy bedtime both boys had trouble falling asleep (it was a combo of food coloring, sugar overload, and excitement from a fun day); however, Manimal had even more trouble falling asleep than is normal, I’m sure because his tummy hurt. Unfortunately, he woke five or six times last night to be held as he battled painful gas and acid burps (it was a blur, so I am foggy on the exact number of times he awoke).

The lesson learned: have a better plan for situations like this. Immediately remove offending foods from sight and and/or reach and hide them. Feed them to older children in secret. This is the tactic that we do at our house with Cheetos – Lil Z can eat them during Manimal’s nap time when Manimal won’t feel left out or upset that he isn’t able to eat them.

I am hoping that Manimal sleeps better tonight, and I am thankful my children don’t have life-threatening reactions to offending foods. We’ve already had a diaper explosion this morning, and I am assuming I will deal with more today. I have also been seeing the bloody-blister diaper rash forming on his bottom, and have been trying to get ahead of it by treating with with lots of ointments… but I will save the topic of diaper-rashes for the next post.

boys with baskets

Lil Z, The Hubs and Manimal act goofy after a rip-roaring Easter Egg Hunt.

FREE allergy-friendly cookbook!!!

enjoy life e-cookbookHey, I wanted to share this FREE cookbook that Enjoy Life Foods has put on their Web site. It is a free download that is full of Top-8 and Gluten-Free recipes that I am excited to try.

I already own Enjoy Life’s Cookies for Everyone!: 150 Delicious Gluten-Free Treats that are Safe for Most Anyone with Food Allergies, Intolerances, and Sensitivities and it not only has great recipes but also tips on things like egg-replacer and how to stock an allergy-friendly kitchen. It is a must for anyone new to gluten-free and allergy-friendly cooking (as well, and anyone who wants good cookies…).

I really enjoy most of the products made my this company because I never EVER have to glance at the ingredients. And that’s a nice change…