Road to Getting Healthy; Week 1 update

Hey Everyone!

Now that I have decided that enough is enough, and that it is time to be focusing on living a healthier lifestyle, i have set my mind to it.

I have been taking my vitamins and probiotics on a daily basis. I have definitely noticed that i have had a bit kore energy this week.

I have also been doing my research into vitamins that ate made in the US, because one of the things i am really focusing on, especially when it comes to health / wellness / hygiene products is using / taking as many products that are made in the USA. I feel like they are a bit more reputable when they are made here, as well as the fact that i am then supporting my own country’s economy.

Since I started tracking what I am eating about a week ago, it has helped me curb eating put of boredom / to pass the time, because it makes me take a second thought about whether i am hungry at all or hungry enough to take the time to enter it into the app.

My goal with trying to eat healthier on the whole, is to lose a bit of weight, though nothing crazy, and have more energy, and be sick less often.

This week i did lose 2.8 pounds from what I weighed last week, and that is just from making some dietary changes. I didn’t really do much different in terms of exercise.

I am also hoping that with time and persistence, i can get out and do more hiking, which is something I enjoy.

I’m not actually vegan but…..

Hey Everyone!

I have never gone vegan or vegetarian, and I have never claimed to have adopted either of these lifestyle’s / eating styles / diets.

There are times (especially when I go out somewhere) when I do choose vegan options, and my favorite bakery is gluten free & vegan.

Let me break it down for you, if I had my way, I would eat like every other “normal” / “mainstream” human being in the western world, who can eat ice cream, cheese, pizza, yogurt, cottage cheese, cream cheese, and anything I wanted.

That all changed for me when I was 23. I had spent one horrible weekend with a nasty stomach bug, and it changed my life as I knew it.

Up to that point my only real food aversion was that I didn’t and still don’t like the smell or taste of beef.

After I had that bug, I quickly figured out that my body wouldn’t tolerate any amount of dairy, no matter how small (even the slightest traces left behind from washing dishes makes me sick). I also learned over the course of the next couple of years (by the time I was 25) that I had milder sensitivities to eggs (I can forget about scrambled or hard boiled eggs, those have the same effect as dairy), though I found if they are in baked goods, I can get away with it on occasion. Gluten does bother me a bit, but not so bad I can’t enjoy some bread, as long as it is dairy free and I enjoy it in limited quantities.

Though I have wondered if I had milk sensitivities before the bug, as there were a few times in college that I wonder about. It just wasn’t bad enough if it was, to put two and two together. Though, now, years later it does make me wonder.

The eggs and dairy issues are why I choose vegan when I am out, unless I go somewhere I am familiar with and know what I can order. If not, I usually end up with a salad.

I still love chicken, fish, venison, and a little bit of lamb on a rare occasion. I also love honey.

I couldn’t go completely vegan by choice, I would only do it if I was forced to because my body couldn’t tolerate the foods.

I really do miss yogurt, ice cream and cheese. Don’t get me started on how much I miss Tillamook Cheese.

I also have no ethical, moral or religious objections to eating animal products, and I definitely don’t object to others who want to eat meat and animal byproducts.

At the same time, if you choose to be vegan or vegetarian, you are perfectly welcome to do so, just don’t be judging my life, diet and lifestyle and I won’t judge yours.

It’s time for Pumpkin

Hey Everyone!

Yesterday after I got home from work I felt like baking. Beings that I didn’t have to work today, I had the time to bake.

Now that autumn is finally here, as well as the fact that I love pumpkin food, and the weather is cool enough to actually warrant baking, I am back in my element. I love cooking and baking.

A couple weekends ago I made split pea soup, and this past weekend I made Chili.

Fall is definitely my favorite season. I love the cooler weather, pumpkin scents, pumpkin food, hot tea, the changing colors of leaves, I love the fall colors anyway.

I am actually excited that summer is over, and on to cooler weather.

Making Healthy Food Taste Good

Hey Everyone!

It is New Years Day, and while many are making New Years resolutions that they probably won’t stick with for very long,one of my two main New Years resolutions is to make healthier food, and make it taste good. In eating healthier food I have begun buying more Organic, Natural, Free Range, Cage Free, Non GMO, Grass Fed food. I may have to back off a bit if I ever have a family, but for now that it is generally just me that I have to worry about, and I have a job to pay for it. I can buy the more expensive better for you foods that I prefer.

I am to some degree a picky eater, as in if it doesn’t sound good, look good, smell good I am not going to eat it. For years I just ate food because it was what was there, not because I wanted it. Now that I am working, and I am getting paid, I can afford to be like “this sounds good, I am going to make it and use the grass fed free range meat”. Being Gluten Free and Dairy Free has also contributed to this mentality as well. Getting food that is Gluten Free and Dairy Free also tends to cost more, and I have to be careful about what I eat. I haven’t read all the research, but there is research showing that the food we eat has changed significantly from the food that was produced, and grown in the 1950’s, and those changes with Genetically Modifying, pesticide resistance, antibiotics and such has greatly contributed to the rise in food intolerances and allergies we are seeing now days. Now that I am one of those people who does have food intolerances to contend with, what is in my food is ever present how I grocery shop for myself.

I am not going to be becoming Vegan, or quit eating all “normal” foods, I am just being more selective about what mainstream foods I eat, and what I replace with “alternative” options.

So really, my goal for this year is to have a better diet that is balances and has a lot of food that is taking it back to more of the way it was in the 1950’s, as well as the Gluten Free and Dairy Free Alternatives to keep my food intolerances in check.

Along with eating better, and making it taste good I am working on putting together a cookbook that one of my good friends so nicely gave me for Christmas, with all of the GF/DF recipes that I try and like. It will be be useful for me, when I am able to move out on my own, and for if I ever do get married, and have a family.

Some Days it is Just Hard

I am sure that I am not the only one out there with food sensitivities/intolerances/allergies who experience this, but some days, or weekends, or periods of time that it just down right sucks to have to have food issues. It is like being hit with a ton of bricks that you are not normal, and can’t partake in what everyone else is partaking in.

This was one of those weekends for me. Eating grapes while everyone else was eating pizza (that smelled amazing), eating nothing while everyone ate homemade cinnamon rolls with a cream cheese frosting, and eating a homemade peanut butter and honey sandwich on gluten free/dairy free bread while everyone else was eating taco soup (which also smelled amazing). I feel like at times it is harder for someone like me, who could eat normally for 24 years, and then all of a sudden I have to be different. I know everyone isn’t trying to be cruel to me, but it is hard being different and not be able to eat what they are, which I know I know are delicious because I have had said items prior to my food intolerances and sensitives became a part of my life.

Most of the time, I am usually pretty okay with having my own diet and adjusting to where I am going and what I will be doing. I normally have no problems planning accordingly, or am able to cook for myself, or go someplace where it is easy enough to do substitutions. In roughly three years I had gotten pretty used to it, but weekends like the one I have had are a reality check that my normal is not the mainstream normal, and that is something I am still getting used to.

The Holiday’s are the hardest with all the special dinners and activities, and other things going on to be involved with. During which people had to eat and there is no easy way around having to constantly worry about food and labels.

Food and Lifestyle Choices

Hey Everyone!

This afternoon I had gone to the Grocery Store with my mother. That’s always fun. We had started off at Bob’s Red Mill, I needed one more flour to make my bread flour mix, so I was able to get that. I have been Gluten Free for 9.5 months now, in addition to being Dairy Free for 2.75 years.

I had done milk free (just cutting out milk, but not other dairy products like yogurt, cheese and ice cream) while I was in college, so I had an idea of what it was about before I had to go off dairy for good. I was a bit hesitant to cut out yogurt and cheese as I loved both. It was hard, but worth it. The hardest part was getting my family on board with being careful about how they hand washed dishes, and washing their hands after they had handled dairy products and that kind of stuff since I am very sensitive to it, but I by no means expected them to give it up just because of me. Since I had gotten onto using Almond Coconut milk, my mom has been a bit more open to trying my dairy free stuff, and she actually likes almond coconut milk like I do.

With that being said, we got talking about cooking, and the types of food we could live without and foods that we couldn’t live without, and for the most part she and I are a lot a like in that way. She and I still have obvious differences, but when it comes down to food, she will eat pretty much anything I cook as long as it is healthy, and is Chicken or Fish. While I am not a big turkey fan, and could live without beef, and generally pork (though I do like a bit of good bacon on occasion), I have found ways to stomach it. It has taken me well over two years, but I have finally gotten my mom to the places that she has accepted that my being dairy, gluten and caffeine free is normal, okay, and just part of who I am.

Over the course of the last 5 years really, which was while I was still in college, my ideas and concepts of food has dramatically changed. It really began with spring term of my senior year of college when I had taken a nutrition class and a history class about American Food and Culture. It really got me thinking about what I was eating, and putting in my body. That was the first kind of light bulb moment. A year and a half had passed by before I had to dive head first into the life of food sensitives and intolerances. Food has been one of the things at the center of my world for the past almost 3 years. Now it is normal. Beings that I have had to think about what is in my food for almost 3 years, it has gone to another level.

I look at food labels for soy, gluten, dairy, trans fats, unsaturated fats, gmo’s and so much more. I am not a hippie or a hipster, or natural granola-ie type. If you were to see me walk down the street, you couldn’t tell the difference between me, and someone who shops and eats entirely mainstream. Yes I prefer natural, organic, non-gmo, grown and produced locally foods, at the same time I don’t always eat these foods. There are times I do shop someplace like Market of Choice, Whole Foods, or New Seasons but even then that is generally for specific items that more specialty items geared to food intolerances and a more natural lifestyle. At the same time I do a lot of my normal grocery shopping at Safeway and Fred Meyer.

While I do prefer Foods that are grown and produced with as few chemicals and enhancements as possible, I am not going to become vegan, or stop shopping at specific stores, or change my style, or quit showering on a regular basis, or not wash my clothes regularly, all because of my food choice. While I still trust Lysol and Clorox for getting my bathroom clean, I definitely try to use cleaners such as Mrs. Meyers Clean Day in the Kitchen. I still love shopping at old navy, and using ivory soap, and going through the health and beauty section at the local drugstore for my shampoo and condition but My preferred face care lines are from the body shop. I still generally live like a normal mainstream person, but choose to live a healthier life, with fewer chemicals in and around my food.

All of this thought came from a conversation with my mother in the grocery store, and finally feeling like I have broken down one huge wall. Getting her to see, smell and tastes that while I do eat differently by choice and force, there is nothing wrong with it. I also got validation that the food that I eat tastes not only “Normal” but actually tastes good. I have also been learning, and teaching my mom about how with a few substitutions or alterations I can pretty much eat normal food, just made with ingredients that won’t mess with my system.

I can only speak for myself, but I feel that I am somewhere in the middle of mainstream grocery consumerism and the “counter culture”. I have taken what I feel is the best of both and combined them to create my own way of life.

Education is Key

There are so many diets out there, that when I mention that I adhere to a strict Dairy and Gluten Free diet, I know I get weird looks, and often hear “You are one of those people”. There is a stigma associated with any diet where you take a food group or more out of your diet. Most of the reactions I get are from people who don’t understand it, and are uneducated about it, and believe that I am some hippy who needs my head examined. For some their diets are by choice, for moral, ethical, or other reasons. For others like myself it is because our bodies can’t process and break down certain kinds of foods.

For those who have chosen to adhere to Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Paleo, Soy Free, Egg Free, Vegetarianism, Veganism, unprocessed foods, or another kind of diet, I am not one to judge or act like they are weird. That is their decision, and good for them for sticking with something, that is healthier.

For those of us with food intolerances and food allergies it is a whole different story. I know from experience that there is a lot of resistance (in my adhering to the diet and to education on their part) as well as a lot of misinformation, indifference, and lack of care to how food affects my body. While I don’t really care what those I know casually think about it, what bugs me the most is the lack of wanting to learn and understand what the impact of it has on me, from my own family that I live with is like. I have had to fight tooth and nail for almost 3 years, and I still get sick from their indifference.

As a whole, society still sees Gluten/Dairy/Egg/Soy intolerances as something that is not its problem, when in reality is an ever growing problem within the framework of society. My society as a whole revolves around food, and the social roles of food. I know I feel ostracized quite often for something I can’t help, and did not ask for or choose to take on. Even though the US is one of the better one for leading the way in having better tasting and a better variety of Gluten Free and Dairy Free food, it is still a challenge and struggle to find food that I can eat.

I know for myself personally, I began taking a second look at the food I was eating, during the Nutrition class I took while in college. Developing intolerances to Gluten and Dairy has since added to how closely I look at the food that I eat, and consume. In the past three years I have really started avoiding processed foods, and eating natural, organic and non GMO foods as much as possible.

I know a lot of people who don’t give food intolerances a second thought because they don’t have to deal with it 3+ times a day. That much I can understand, as I was the same way until 3 years ago. At the same time, There are those who feel that because those of us who have food intolerances or adhere to certain diets are different and “weird” we just need to shove it, even to our own expense, and to the extent of at best having an upset stomach, and spending more time than necessary in the bathroom to being sent to the hospital with a life threatening condition.

I am not saying the our society needs to jump on the band wagon of adhering to a specific diet themselves, all I am saying is that it is time that society changes to be more tolerant and understanding of those who either need to adhere to one of these “specialty diets” or chooses to for personal reasons. Why should we suffer, and be sick because others choose to be ignorant and uneducated on a growing concern. I know there are those with food intolerances who don’t like to talk about it, but if it isn’t talked about, then how is it going to get out there, and how are others going to be educated? even if you don’t have to directly deal with food intolerances, you most likely know someone who does. There is still a lot of awareness to be made and had.

I have also heard the “you can’t eat (Fill in item here), I would die if I couldn’t have (aforementioned item here)”. My general response is “Not having (Item) doesn’t really bother me anymore”, when in my head the thoughts I have are along the lines of “You learn to live without it or be sick all the time, and yes even now and again I would kill for a grilled cheese sandwich with Tillamook Cheese, sourdough bread, and butter on the outside, and real ice creme and Oreo’s for dessert, but I would rather go without that, than be in the bathroom, being sick for the next two weeks.”

I am choosing to keep this blog to help those who have food intolerances and are new to having them, as well as their families, friends, roommates, and are trying to figure out what is safe and what is not. It is also for myself so that I can share my journey, and what I have learned from having normal every day food make me sick to learning how to deal with it, and what I have found that works.

Coffee Update

I have been off of coffee for more than a month and a half now. I have definitely noticed a difference in my body. My sleep pattern has definitely evened out, and I am still having an easier time of falling asleep at night. I have also noticed that the headaches that I would quite often wake up with, and linger throughout the day have disappeared.

I don’t know if it is caffeine in general or the acid in the coffee that I have a sensitivity to, as I drink a cup of black coffee a day (Bigelow’s Vanilla Chai Spice tea), but otherwise drink water or herbal tea.

The past month and a half has been a lot easier than I thought it would. The fact that I am not working at the moment also has helped the withdrawl process and made that easier. Now that I have been off coffee I don’t have any plans to start drinking it again. Even when I was drinking coffee I was doctoring it up really good with coffee creamer (prior to dairy intolerance) and sugar (post dairy intolerance). I had a hard time drinking it straight. Just as well I went off of it.

Dairy Free Options

Being dairy free was the hardest for me. As it was the also the first food intolerance that I figured out that I was dealing with. Figuring out what contained dairy and its derivatives (Whey and Sodium Caseinate) is an uphill challenge. It is not impossible. I found this webpage that has a list of terms to look for in the ingredients list that contain dairy, may contain dairy and does not contain dairy.

I have found more so with dairy than with gluten that they like to sneak dairy and its derivatives into foods that you would not imagine had dairy in it. Like Spaghetti seasoning, Taco Seasoning, Bouillon cubes, Salad Dressings, Breads, pretty much anything in a box. Reading Labels is critical to a successful dairy free diet.

There are a lot of dairy free milk alternatives out there. There is Soy Milk, Almond Milk, Coconut Milk, Rice Milk, Hemp Milk, Oat Milk, Hazelnut Milk. Of all of these I have tried a lot but the one that stands out for me, that I love, and would have a hard time living without is the Almond Breeze Almond Coconut blend. It s a blend of Almond and Coconut milks and it is awesome. I used to soley rely on rice milk, but it was super thin, and did not work for puddings and not as well for baking. Straight almond milk was too almondy for me, and coconut milk by itself was to rich. I came across the Almond Coconut blend about a year ago (my aunt had it, and let me try it), since then I have been hooked. It has a similar consistency to regular milk, so it can be used to replace real milk in recipes. I also like the fact that the coconut milk tones down the almond flavor, while the almond milk balances out the coconut milk’s richness.

I have also found that Almond Dream/Coconut Dream ice cream is a great tasting replacement for normal ice cream.

Ghirardelli semi sweet chocolate chips are dairy free and they are less expensive than the branded dairy free chocolate chips. They are also a name brand so you can find them pretty much in any grocery store.

The knorr vegetable bouillon cubes are dairy free, as are the Safeway brand vegetable and chicken flavor enhancers. Swanson chicken broth is safe. Pace Picante mild and medium salsa’s are safe. as are Mission tortilla chips. If you are only dairy free mission brand flour tortilla’s are dairy free.

I was reminded by a reader, for those of you who are not gluten free, but are dairy free, Oreo Cookies are dairy free, surprisingly enough. I have not had Oreos since I went Gluten Free, I was super happy when I was only doing dairy free and found out that Oreos were safe.

There are other brands and such that I know of that I have here locally, that I don’t know the equivalent of in other chain grocery store.

Your life is not over if you are finding out that you have to go dairy free. There are so many great options out there. It can be done. The learning curve is the biggest issue. The first year is the hardest.

Gluten Free Options

Here recently I wrote a post about Bob’s Red Mill, and the great Gluten Free products that they have to offer (it is like heaven for the gluten free baker, and I have yet to find anything that is Gluten Free that contains Dairy, which is good for me since I am Gluten and Dairy Free). While I am a huge fan of their products, I want to also share some of the other Gluten Free brands I have come across (some are hit and miss on the dairy issue, others are Gluten and Dairy Free).

Van’s: Their Freezer Waffles are gluten free, most of which are also Dairy, egg and nut free. They also have other products like crackers, cookies and such. Their Perfect 10 crackers are my favorite and are also dairy free. Some of their other crackers and cookies, I would definitely have to read labels on to see if they are dairy free or not, so that is one thing if you are dairy or egg free in addition to being gluten free, is to make sure that they are dairy/egg free as well.

Glutino is another good (and established) gluten free brand. For me, I still have to check labels to make sure that they are dairy free, but they do have a good variety that are also dairy free.

Arrowhead Mills – they have a decent selection of gluten free baking mixes and flours. as for being dairy free, be sure to read the labels.

Cherrybrook Kitchen – This is one of my favorites when it comes to cake, cookie, brownie an frosting mixes. All of their gluten free mixes are also dairy free.

I also use gluten free recipes for cooking/baking, as well as substituting gluten free flour and xanthan gum for regular flour.