Travails Of Being Gluten-Free

Going out to eat now that I have to be gluten-free can, quite frankly, suck rotten lemons.  Not only that, I’ve discovered that I get more than lethargic the next day if I have gluten.  I’m talking sick within 5 minutes or so of being contaminated.  A couple of weeks ago, I toasted some of the gluten-free bread I made for breakfast 2 days in a row.  Got sick both days and didn’t quite put 2 and 2 together until I saw someone comment on a friend’s post about cross-contamination by toaster if it’s only been used for bread with gluten.  Light bulb on, please!

Worry about cross-contamination along with the eternal “What the hell can I have” question while looking at a menu while eating out has me more than a little upset at times.  My husband wanted ice cream one night and I figured, why not.  I went along and when ordering my ice cream, in a cup, I asked for her to use a clean scoop.  Several times while explained why I need her to use a clean scoop, she asked, “Do you want me to run it through the dishwasher?”  I wanted to reach over the case and strangle her.  Instead, I simply said, “Yes, if you don’t have a clean one.”  Think about it.  They use the scoops repeatedly and dunk them in the same water to rinse them off pretty much all day.

Yesterday, we were at the zoo with some friends and had lunch there.  I had to ask what the “Grilled chicken basket” came with, the answer being fries.  Then I had to ask if the fries were fried in their own dedicated oil or if it was fried with anything breaded.  Poor teenage guy looked like I asked him to cut off an arm.  He went and asked, and yes indeed, they are fried in their own oil.  Then, thankfully, he read back the order because apparently it’s not just grilled chicken.  It’s a grilled chicken SANDWICH.  It didn’t say that on the board.  I asked for no bread.

Fast-forward to our drive back from the zoo.  We are stuck in traffic and I’m tired and hungry.  That combination doesn’t look good on me.  I was at the point where I didn’t have an idea of what I was in the mood for and I didn’t care where we went.  My husband pulled his phone out and opened an app that will list restaurants near you and gave it to me to look through.  He got off at the exit he wanted and driving around a lot of no’s immediately hit me.  No’s being fast food like McDonald’s, Wendy’s, etc.  He kept driving and I saw an Irish pub.  I love Irish food and I thought of several things I knew I could have, based on a great little pub we have back in Louisville where the owner is from Ireland.  Well, turns out this place is a chain restaurant, Claddagh Irish Pub.  Let me remind you, I’m tired and hungry.  Going through the menu, immediately all appetizers are out of the realm of possibility.  No soup either.  Most of the entrées were off-limits, too.  It’s rather frustrating when your options are immediately cut to 5% of the menu.  And it’s not like some dishes you can easily ask for no bread, or no croutons, etc.  Gluten is hidden in a lot of things.  I happened to notice smoked salmon and when I said, “Ooh,” my husband knew exactly what I saw.  Then my heart dropped.  It was a salad.  I refused to get a salad being that salads tend to be the “safe” choice.  And with all the salads I’ve had in the last few weeks courtesy of the oodles of lettuce supplied by my CSA, I really didn’t want one.

I asked for the “Cheese and fruit board.”  When the server brought it, it was cheese, grapes, and CRACKERS.  The menu didn’t say: Cheese, fruit and cracker board.  It said: Cheese and fruit board.  It really pisses me off when the menu doesn’t tell you what exactly things come with.  Yes, I should know better to ask by now, but I was tired and hungry.  I gave my husband the crackers, but there wound up being a lot of crumbs all over the plate that I couldn’t get it all off the cheese.  I was near the edge of tears.  I was either going to cry or I was going to rip someone’s throat out.  I had to wait a few minutes for the server.  He was rather slow, as in we had to wait 10 to 15 minutes for him to reappear after we told him we needed a few minutes to decide what to order.  I asked him to take the plate back, told him I can’t eat it because of the crumbs all over the cheese and asked for “new cheese.”  The guy thought I said, “blue cheese.”  Before I knew it, the manager was out at the table telling me that they don’t have blue cheese.  I told him I said “new cheese” because the cheese I sent back had been contaminated.  Then it clicked for him and he said a new plate would be right out.  My entrée, the balsamic chicken with mashed potatoes and roasted veggies was pretty good, even if I was in a horrible mood.  I brought home half of it and had the leftovers for lunch today.  I wish I had thought to take a picture of it.

I’ll tell you what really sucks about eating out.  Having to ask all the questions and know that I’ve become that customer.  The customer that is demanding and persnickety.  The customer that holds up the line because I have to ask one question after another.  The customer that holds up the line because I don’t want to be cross-contaminated.  Yep, that’s me.  Just think about that person that’s in front of you asking questions, asking for the server to do something different and less efficient.  They might have a food allergy and are trying to prevent getting sick.  Sure, they might hold up the line, but they have every right to ensure a good dining experience like you.

Just think.  That person in front of you could be me.

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Heaven Can Wait

Yesterday, a friend of mine  posed this question on his Facebook status: Why does bad stuff happen to good people and good stuff happen to bad people.  It has him questioning his faith.  I know it’s made a lot of people question their faith.  It’s a question I pondered on a lot when I was younger.  Back in the days when bad things would happen to me and I couldn’t make heads or tails of it.

I hit a point in my life where I stopped asking, “why” and started asking, “why not?”  Strange question to ask you might be thinking.  It started near the end college when I was very involved in my church and we had started something like a young leaders group where we took turns preparing a Bible study.  I took a special interest in researching the subject of overcoming.  Overcoming obstacles.  Overcoming bad things.  Overcoming.  I still have my notes in a file.   It was a true labor of love and maybe one day I’ll pull them out and write in detail what I presented.

My interest in overcoming came from cumulative experiences in my life I had up to that point.  I wrote several weeks back about how my home life was less than stellar before moving out for college, including a bout of depression, possibly several.   I survived those years, but I was just surviving, not overcoming.  I hadn’t learned to really deal with bad situations and I faced the biggest one after starting college.

My first few weeks in college, I met a lot of athletes going to various parties.  Football players, swimmers, divers, tennis players, basketball players, etc.  In fact, the majority of my friends that first year were athletes.  I can’t even remember where I met one in particular, but he would be the bane of my existence for many years.  He was a football player.  First year, too, from Ohio.  I remember that much about him, and his first name, which I won’t mention.  He was friends with some of my neighbors in the dorm, too.  I should mention that my first year I was in an all female dorm so there were a lot of rules about guys and all the doors were locked at night.  My roommate happened to be gone one weekend and out of fear of locking myself out in the middle of the night, I left my door unlocked.  The building was locked, right?  Wrong.  This “friend” got into the dorm, up to our floor and into my room.  I was a pretty heavy sleeper back then and don’t even remember him coming into my room.  In fact, I was hardly awake enough to be able to tell him to “stop.”  I was paralyzed.  I felt like I was in a nightmare and couldn’t move.  He eventually left.  I waited for a bit before I got up.  He was in my neighbor’s room watching TV.  I wound up taking a shower and when my neighbor came out, I whispered to her what happened.  What she said to me was pretty much that I must be mistaken because he didn’t do anything to her.

It took a while, but I wound up going through another depressive period.  This time I was more aware of it and did what I could to combat it.  I prayed nightly for God to help me through the next day.  Again, just surviving.  I went through the motions and with the help of my Big Brothers, I was out doing things rather than holed up in my room.  I owe a lot to them for that.  There were nights they forced me to go out even if I didn’t want to.

Several years later, I wound up picking up a stalker who happened to be in two of my psych classes.  One was a large lecture class, the other a much smaller class…400 level where we were supposed to get more attention from the professors.  I lived in fear that he would actually try something.  He had my number and called a lot.  To the point where I let the answering machine get it so I could screen my calls.  I carried something in my hand around campus in case he tried to accost me.  I was rather hypervigilant.

Going through bad stuff is not easy.  Not at all.  In the moment, all you want is to be somewhere else other than were you are.  There is no pleasantness in the experience at all.  We all know what it feels like.  I can still feel those emotions as if it were yesterday.  However, I’m a different person now.  I know there was purpose for it, even if it was bad.  I know that whatever comes my way, there will be a lesson or a growth that comes from it.

It’s not an easy perspective to have or to even explain to others.  I could be in a much different place than where I am now if I did not walk away with the lessons or growth.  Why did it happen?  I don’t know why.  I do know that because of those experiences, I was much more careful.  Yes, hypervigilant at first.  But as that wore off, I was just more aware.  Of course, I didn’t leave my dorm room unlocked at night ever again.  Would it have been better if it had never happened?  Maybe.  But, I wouldn’t be the same person either.  I believe that we are the sum of our experiences. That things do happen for a reason even if we can’t see that reason in the moment.  I know that it just is.  Maybe a bit zen, but I think it’s something that Christians miss.  God is a parent letting his children grow.  Part of that growth is allowing them to make their own choices like our birth/adoptive parents do for us.  I look at it this way, even though he’s all-powerful, he plays the parent and doesn’t save us from every thing that happens to us.  If He did that, we’d be sheltered.  We’d never know the other side of the coin.  We have to know what the bad times are like in order to appreciate all the good we have.

If it weren’t for those experiences I’ve had in my life, I wouldn’t appreciate the good family members I have.  I wouldn’t appreciate all the good relationships with men I have and have had.  I wouldn’t appreciate where I am now.  I wouldn’t be who I am now.  I joke about having to learn to fight back from the times my uncles would pick on me.  That is just a piece of it.  God gave me more strength through every experience and I am thankful for that.  For everything.

Yes, the world would be a wonderful place if we never had bad things happen to us.  If that were true, it wouldn’t be life at all.  It would be Heaven. I for one, would rather be living in the here and now with the good, the bad, and the ugly and not trade any of my experiences.  I can wait for Heaven.

The Benefits Of Living And Eating Healthy

Last night I put on a pair of denim shorts before my husband and I went out.   A year ago, I could barely get them on.  Last night I found myself having to pull them up repeatedly while walking around Barnes &  Noble.  I didn’t even think to wear a belt with the shorts, now I know I need to from now on.

I said from the beginning when I started making changes that my goal was to get healthy.  I think I’ve achieved that goal in just 6 months and here are the benefits I’m reaping from it:

  • No colds, infections, flu, indigestion, etc.  The only time I”m “sick” is the day after having something with gluten in it and I avoid it at all costs.
  • The migraines I’d have at least twice a month are now so rare, it surprises me when I get one.
  • I’m not hungry all the time.
  • I have more energy, which over a year ago I seriously lacked thanks to a hypothyroid and deficiencies in iron and vitamin D.
  • Clothes are looser.
  • I don’t crave the things I cut out.  I may have a dessert now and then, but constant cravings and caving in to them are a thing of the past.
  • I enjoy eating what I eat and don’t have that mental block of “I don’t want to eat this.  I want what I can’t have.”  I’m not a slave to food anymore.
  • I spend less on doctors and medications now than I ever did.
  • Making my own cleaners and personal care products cuts down on toxic interference.  Same as filtering my drinking and cooking water.
  • Less sick time = more productivity at work and at home
  • The time spent researching and reading has resulted in a greater awareness of what I’m putting into my body and how it affects my body.
  • Last but not least, my hypothyroid is a thing of the past.  Especially, if I keep this up.

If you haven’t followed my blog from the beginning, here are just some of the changes I’ve made in the last month:

  • Eat whole foods, cutting out refined and processed foods as much as possible.
  • Stick with an exercise regimen.
  • Make my own cleaners and personal care products as much as possible.
  • Started using a water filter.
  • Get rid of as many toxic leaching items as I could in the home.
  • Lastly, eliminated gluten from my diet.

The last change is where I saw and amped up level of benefit across the board.  Gluten wears down the villi in your intestines, which prevents nutrient absorption.  Cutting out gluten can help the villi heal in order to increase nutrient absorption.

My focus now is to maintain my health.  To keep up the changes I’ve made.  I like how I feel now.  I like how the weight my thyroid caused me to gain is slowly coming off.  I like not being sick all the time.

I’m loving life.