The sub hub

Well as I eluded to in my last blog, the gluten free world has pretty well exploded! You can find GF certified foods in just about any supermarket and there are plenty of GF substitutes out there. From pasta, to bread, to pizza, if you can dream it, I’m pretty sure you can find it!

That being said, there’s a caveat that you should know! Gluten is a great thing. If you ignore what it does to those with celiac disease or non-celiac gluten sensitivity it is wonderful- its found in wheat, rye, spelt and loads of other sources and its what gives bread a nice fluffy texture. Now, yes you can buy gluten free breads and some of them are pretty tasty (I said SOME, not ALL- unless you like cardboard). The problem with a lot of these gluten free world substitutes is that they generally have more things added to them to make them seem like the “real” thing. In most cases, this means more fat, more sugar, and, in the end, more calories. Lesson here? Eat responsibly.

Speaking of eating responsibly- do you remember when you would get excited to make cookies at home with mom? If you were really good you got to eat some of the raw cookie dough (or sneak some of the raw cookie dough if mom was yelling about the dangers of raw eggs!) When I was in college I realized that pillsbury also sold premade cookie dough where you just needed to break off a chunk and toss it in the oven (or my mouth). Wouldn’t you know it, I recently discovered the gluten free version?!?! Pillsbury now sells the same thing in small tubs in the refrigerated section of my local grocery store. Of course there’s the infamous “Do not eat raw dough” label, but I may *occasionally* ignore it. Just don’t tell my mom.

Looking at the plate half full

I think one of the hardest parts of celiac disease is learning to navigate the gluten free diet. I’ll admit, the first month after my diagnosis I had the same thing every day: scrambled eggs for breakfast, a salad for lunch (with no dressing because I was scared), and grilled chicken with avocado and rice for dinner. Everyday. Every. Single. Day.

Finally I decided to tackle the diet head on. One of my dietician friends had explained that it would be a “roadmap” for me to navigate. Umm, hello!?!? I felt like a needed a GPS to find my way! I decided I needed a new outlook on the GFD (that’s gluten free diet- I can’t help it, I’m a doctor- we like the alphabet soup abbreviations). I had been mourning the loss of the foods I couldn’t eat- cakes/cookies *doh*, pasta *eek*, deep dish Chicago pizza *OMG*. Instead, I had to change my outlook and appreciate the foods that I could enjoy and that I loved- tacos (corn tortillas of course), steak *yum*, chocolate *double yum*, and… wine! Score!

And, truth be told, after the first month or two, I stopped missing my gluten goodies. In fact, I felt so good that I realized it really wasn’t worth it. Not only did I have all these amazing foods that I could enjoy, but I felt fabulous! Plus, the gluten free world is expanding so quickly that gluten free substitutes are popping out everywhere you look!  Need a GF cake? No problem! Pasta? Absolutely!  Now, not only is my plate half full, its practically overflowing…

Pumpkin lovin’

Ahh fall! It’s my favorite time of year! Bring on the warm cozy sweaters, hot apple pie, gorgeous leaves… and all things pumpkin! That’s right! Pumpkin pie, pumpkin bars, pumpkin chocolate chip cookies! Yeah do you see conundrum? Most of the time you’re gonna have a hard time finding the gluten free version readily available. Then of course there’s the all important symbol of the season- the wonderful, spectacular pumpkin spiced latte! (Inset applause here)

So Starbucks lovers out there are all aware and in love with this yummy fall treat.  However, for you gluten-challenged folks out there, beware! Starbucks claims that nothing prepared can be guaranteed gluten free. While the syrups are mostly gluten free, they cannot guarantee cross contamination- likewise with the yummy toppings. So, if you’re someone that reacts to small amounts of cross contamination or just do not want to risk it- stay away! These are definitely to be enjoyed at your own risk!

That being said, pumpkins are one of my favorite things! So if you want to take advantage of all things pumpkins, I have a little treat for you! If you’re looking for super soft skin and enjoy papering yourself- try this pumpkin based mask! Just don’t eat it as the Bentonite clay is not edible. The mask lasts for a few days if you seal it and toss it in the ‘fridge. I usually use it every 2-3 days on my “rough patches” like my elbows and legs and once/week on my face. Trust me. You’ll thank me later.
Pumpkin mask
1c  pumpkin purée
1/2c bentonite clay
2tbsp honey
4tbsp water
3tbsp  almond oil
3tsp cinnamon
*super easy! Just mix it all together!


The numbers game…

Did you know that 1/133 Americans has celiac disease? Thats huge! The sad fact though is that 85% of them are still unaware of their diagnosis. I cannot stress enough how important it is to be tested. I dealt with celiac disease for YEARS before having a diagnosis. As a physician, I can tell you how little doctors learn about CD in medical school. At that time (and it wasn’t that long ago!) it was either overlooked or seen as unimportant because it was “rare.” Yes, rare.  Does 1/133 sound rare? That goes to show how much we have learned about the disease in just a few years. Doctors are now more aware and the idea of “gluten free” is not nearly as daunting as it had once been. While at one time I dreaded going out and dealing with the confused face of the waiter when I asked for a gluten free option, I can now go to a baseball game, order a gluten free beer or cider and enjoy a hot dog! Amazing!
Now some other quick facts for you. Did you know that the number of men and women with celiac disease is essentially equal? However, us ladies are diagnosed more frequently than our men! We tend to go to the doctor more and we are more upfront with our physicians about our ailments. Lesson here girls? Get our boys to the doctor! STAT!

Learning to be fabulous!

Fabulous is an incredible word- dontcha think? I mean, who wouldn’t want to be fabulous? And, if I can be completely honest here- I wasn’t always fabulous. Shocking, I know! See, for a long time I had to deal with the unknown and for me it came with a price. I never understood why I always felt sick, why I felt horrible after eating certain foods, or why I was having horrible migraines. I avoided social situations, developed a fear of food, and well, at times, became miserable! That all changed a few years ago when I was diagnosed with Celiac Disease. What? No gluten? You’ve got to be kidding. Nope, they weren’t.

I’m sharing my story and journey here to shed some light in on a subject I hold close to my heart. Celiac Disease isn’t fabulous but once you learn to embrace it, make some changes to your lifestyle (okay a lot of changes), you’re given a chance to finally embrace life and truly live it. Now when people ask “how are you doing?” I don’t have to think twice- I simply tell them, “I’m fabulous.”