An Apple A Day

Getting through with coconut water, apples, and mint

Two weeks ago, I started feeling funny a few hours after eating dinner.  There were rumblings going on.  Louder than when my stomach protests when it is empty.  And right as I’m getting ready to go to bed, the volcano blew.  And blew.  It blew all night long.

When I finally dragged myself out of bed the following morning I was severely dehydrated.  And out of coconut water.  There was no way I was in any condition to run out for more.  I texted Chaz to pick some up on his way home.  Meanwhile, I found some Hawaiian juices we had.  As sick as I was, I was worried anything that went down would come right back up.  Kinda like that one time in college when I had alcohol poisoning.  But I was so dehydrated that I chugged that first can of juice rather recklessly.   Then I got a glass of water down hoping the juice would stay down and camped out on the sofa watching Supernatural on Netflix Instant Watch.  I dozed on and off all day in between trips to the bathroom.  Yes, not everything came out one end.  Being sick is never pretty.  I didn’t even eat anything until late afternoon.  Two hard boiled eggs.  That was all I ate that day.

The next day was more of the same nausea, bathroom trips, and watching the Winchester brothers while conscious.  I managed to force myself to eat a little more in the afternoon and a bite or two at dinner.  But, I had to force myself to eat.  It was easier to keep getting myself rehydrated than trying to shovel food down my mouth.  The thought occurred to me that I may have been glutened during dinner on Wednesday.  However, Chaz wasn’t feeling so hot either.  I still checked the packaged stuff I wound up using while testing a recipe and turns out the tortilla chips I had were processed on the same equipment as wheat and milk (don’t know how I missed that one because I did check the bag).  Okay, so glutening and dairying on top of a gastrointestinal virus.  Lovely.

Saturday I was starting to feel better, but not completely, and I was getting tired of running to the bathroom.  By Sunday, I had my appetite back and I was feeling better.   Win!  Right?

Wrong.

Monday morning I woke up and I was right back in the bathroom.  Three times in under an hour.  The thought, kill me now, ran through my head.  I managed to get the grocery shopping done.  Without incident.  I went several hours without incident.  I figured it was over.  Wrong again.  It picked up again early afternoon and then got worse late afternoon.  I was up again all night with this bloody bug.

I realized the next day, as I’m watching Sam and Dean battle demons, that I was forgetting things learned long ago that would help me.  It wouldn’t kill the virus, but it would help my body settle down without having to take a pill.  Coconut water is good for keeping me hydrated while sick, but mint and apples helped settle my entire gastrointestinal system.

Mint will help settle your stomach and your intestines.  I used spearmint oil a lot back when IBS was still just IBS to me, rather than a symptom of something greater.   Rubbing it on my tummy would help calm all the rumbling going on in my abdominal area.  This time around, I eschewed the oil and went straight for the real thing since I happened to have some in the fridge.  I was chewing a leaf every few hours.

Apples are a wonder.  I learned from a nurse I worked with many years ago that apples will help not only diarrhea, but constipation, too.  It’s the pectin right under the skin that does it.  So apples and mint it was for me.  Along with lots of coconut water.

I was able to manage through a couple of days of work, but I still wasn’t feeling 100%.  It got worse again last Friday and I thought I would be okay Saturday when I woke up.  But the longer I was up, the worse it got.

I’m feeling a bit better, but still not 100%.  Can’t wait for it to die.  Until then it’s coconut water, apples, and mint for me.

Chocolate Chai Surprise

Chocolate Chai Surprise Smoothie

I know I’ve been a bit quiet on here.  I’m taking advantage of my decreased hours at work to work on projects around our apartment that got neglected during the holidays.  And I’m still working on a few recipes that aren’t quite ready to share still.

I had every intention to blog yesterday.  All my plans fell apart when I woke up to a phone call from my doctor.  Not a nurse or assistant.  My doctor.  That’s what I love about her and her colleagues.  I went in for my monthly appointment last week and asked her for a blood draw.  My last one was a year ago when I first started seeing her and I’ve been feeling slightly off.

My suspicions were true.

My Vitamin D is back up to being within normal limits (WNL).   Yippee!   My TSH, T3, and T4 are all still WNL.  Woo hoo!   My iron and hematacrit levels are still borderline under and my platelet count dropped significantly.  Boo!

Since I woke up to this information, I wasn’t thinking straight and had no idea what to ask.  I just took down the information for the Hematologist that she recommended.

I had two choices.  Start looking stuff up online and freak out or text Dr. Cuz and ask her questions that suddenly came to me.  If you haven’t seen my posts about Dr. Cuz, she’s my go-to for explaining medical things because she is my cousin and because she has a way to keep me from completely freaking out.

I texted Dr. Cuz.  She asked a few questions and while I was waiting for her to respond to my answers I started looking online.  I figured as long as I had her opinion as well, I’d be fine.  Her final opinion – idiopathic thrombocytopenia.  Now there’s a mouthful.  The symptoms fit.  Now if only the Hematologist office would call me back!  I think they did try to call while I was at work, but didn’t leave a message.

Even if I didn’t completely freak out yesterday, I still spent most of the day in a fog.  I pretty much goofed off and only did laundry and cooked dinner.  We all need those days sometimes, right?  Right.

Now I will leave you with a smoothie I’ve been drinking the last few days.

Chocolate Chai Surprise Smoothie – serves 1

1/2 – 3/4 cup frozen mango

half handful spinach or other greens

1 tablespoon raw local honey or sweetener of your choice

1 tablespoon nut butter

1 – 2 tablespoons raw cacao powder

1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon garam masala (1/2 t will be pretty spicy while less will be mild)

1 tablespoon maca root powder (optional)

Milk or dairy-free milk of your choice

Place all ingredients into your blender except the milk.  In place of nut butter and dairy-free milk, you can soak 1/2 cup nuts or shredded coconut in filtered water ahead of time and add extra water (do not drain the water from the soaking, it helps make the “milk”) at the end in place of the milk.  Add milk/alternative to the blender to just under the 2 cup line.  Blend well, especially if you are using the soaked nuts/coconuts.

This is how wonderful Dr. Cuz is.  She just called me as I was typing up the directions for the recipe to make sure she had all the right information.  And she made sure to keep saying after I answered each question with, “You’re going to be fine.”  She said it one last time as were about to hang up, too.  So blessed with great cousins!

I Need To Be On A -Free Diet. Now What?

Gluten-free Bread using a recipe from Ginger Lemon Girl

It is not easy being told or coming to the realization that you need to cut something out of your diet that has sent your body into turmoil for years.  I changed to a whole foods diet months before I cut gluten, dairy, and eggs out of my diet for a trial.  I chose to cut out refined flours and sugars from my diet.  I refrained from buying those processed foods I used to love so much.  I knew those foods were interfering with my thyroid functioning and every time I had a craving, I envisioned what would happen to my body if I chose to eat the food I was craving.  Just shifting my entire diet the way I did help me to lose weight during the holidays while everyone else was gaining weight.

It was a little different when I did the gluten-free trial and had a reaction to it when I had one silly little piece of sprouted grain bread.  I knew that was it.  I wasn’t going to have gluten again.  If you are doing a gluten-free trial, understand you may not have a reaction until the following day like I did.  I was completely fine the entire day after having a piece of toast and that was the only thing with gluten I had.

It is one thing to choose not to eat certain foods.  It is entirely different knowing you can never have something again.  Shirley (gluten-free easily) did a great post on Grieving Gluten.  This applies to any food you cannot have because it causes some kind of reaction in your body.  I went through the stages and I realized after 6 weeks how much better I felt.  The Embracement Stage that Shirley added in is a sign of moving forward into living in recovery.   At that stage you really are making changes and moving in the direction of better health.  Do I miss being able to eat what everyone else eats?  Yes.  Do I wish I could just eat whatever I want?  Absolutely.  Am I better off having to attend to what I eat more than I used to?  You betcha.

The first thing I did after having the reaction (once I was able to get moving) was to clean out the pantry and fridge of all offending items.  Except for any snacks that Chaz may have bought for himself.  I had not gotten rid of all the other foods I chose to give up. I was transitioning out of those foods and after months, I realized I wasn’t even touching them.  Those went out, too.  I know some people have given away their food to other families.  I tossed mine.  I had 3 30 gallon trash bags full of stuff I couldn’t have or chose not to have anymore.  You might be cringing and thinking, what a waste.  Yes, it was a waste.  My thinking was, and still is, if you can’t eat it or would choose not to eat it, why would you want to give it to someone else to eat?

For those of us who must eat gluten-free, we’ve learned just what it does to the body.  I learned before I even did the trial.  I also learned how people are underdiagnosed and misdiagnosed.  So, if I gave all my gluten containing foods to someone who might have Celiac or gluten intolerance but don’t know it yet, how am I helping them?

If you are reading this and you are new to a gluten-free diet, you might have still been eating a lot of processed foods when you were told or discovered on your own that gluten was the root of your problem.  My transition was easier even though I was grieving the fact I could never eat what I wanted again.  I had already cut out a lot of gluten containing foods.  I was eating mostly produce and meats.  I was making my own broths and soups.  I made my own salad dressings.  If you were eating a lot of processed foods you will be tempted to replace all those processed foods with gluten-free processed foods.  A lot of the products out on the market now are better tasting than when I first went gluten-free, but just because it says it’s gluten-free doesn’t mean it’s good for you.

This is the perfect time to re-evaluate what is really good for you and habits that need changing or could be healthier.   I wasn’t eating much processed foods when I went gluten-free.  I’m now in a place where I find myself not consuming a lot of gluten-free grains either.  I find myself using more bean and nut flours when I’m doing recipe development and if I happen to make gluten-free bread, it’s not very often.  I just don’t feel I need the grains as much as I was taught to think I needed them.  I like that I fill up mostly on produce and meat.  There are times I feel that I need some grains, but not at every meal.

Things to think about/do when you food becomes the offender:

  • Who in the home is affected?
  • Who will be following the -free diet?  Myself? A few people? The whole house?
  • How will I keep my home safe if some people are still going to consume the offender?
  • What must I get rid of and what can I get rid of?
  • If I have a mixed home, how will I organize everything to prevent cross-contact?
  • What kind of processed -free foods will be okay to bring home and how often?

This is also the time to change your thinking.  A diet is simply what we we eat.  It’s not some fad like society had turned it into.  We are all on a diet.  If we weren’t, we’d starve to death.  A -free diet is just that.  What you eat without the offender present in your meals/snacks.  A “diet” is only as limiting as you believe it to be.  If you didn’t know me and I told you I follow a gluten-free and dairy-free diet, some might thing, What do you eat?  I eat everything in the produce section and everything in the meat/seafood cases.  That’s what shopping was like way back when, right?  Simple fresh foods.  Sometimes I buy canned or frozen fruits or vegetables when I need a shortcut.  I stay out of the aisles as much as I can.  That’s where I lose a lot of time shopping anyway.  Those of you who follow me regularly know I love my food and I am not lacking.

When you focus on your health and eating truly healthier foods, weight and weight-loss can become a back burner.  Our society places a lot of emphasis on weight, size, and weight-loss.  One problem is bone thin women are now the ideal supermodels when they look nothing like the rest of the world.  You walk into a grandma’s house, especially mine, and look that thin, they will be shoving food down you because to them, that’s not healthy.  The other problem is the scale tells you nothing but a number.  It will tell you if the number is more, less, or the same each time you step on it.  It does not tell you how much fat you are losing or how much muscle you are building.  Yet, we constantly set ourselves up to fail by stepping on that scale day after day, week after week.  Johnathan Roche will re-frame a lot for callers who call in frustrated that they aren’t losing weight.  He will ask, “How do you feel?  How do your clothes fit?”  I follow Johnathan’s approach for doing interval training just for doing the intervals and the impact they have on the mitochondria in our bodies.  You can do more for yourself doing 20 minutes of intervals than you can do an hour of anything else.  That said, most of you already know I love my yoga, too.  I’m always amazed at the people who never seem to think they should evaluate how they feel or how their clothes fit.  A number on the scale won’t tell you how healthy you are.  Evaluating how you feel and how your clothes fit will tell you more than any silly number.

Someone either told me or I read somewhere that I needed to get rid of all my cookbooks.  If anyone told you this or you read it somewhere, it is not true!  Don’t do it!  Once you have a firm footing of this new way of eating, you will be able to easily convert your favorite recipes.  I still have many of my cookbooks along with some new gluten-free cookbooks.  I still buy regular cookbooks because I know I can convert the recipes to be gluten-free and dairy-free.

Are you ready for this journey down the -free road?  It will be really freeing once you hit that Embracement Stage.