Gluten Free Shampoo & Conditioner

gluten free shampoo & conditionerThe decision to use gluten free shampoo and conditioner is entirely individual. Some people recommend using them, others do not. Now, please mind you that I’m simply sharing my OPINION on this sensitive subject. For myself, I try to use a gluten free shampoo and I do recommend it for my patients (please note that I’m a pediatrician so my patients are kids).  Gluten is not absorbed through the skin and I know that we generally do not go around eating our shampoo.  HOWEVER, kids do. They are constantly putting things in their mouth and I do not want to trust that they will keep their mouths completely closed while bathing. So yes, I do recommend gluten free shampoo and conditioners for kids.

As for myself, I have the annoying habbit of playing with my hair and yes, I can admit it, I sometimes use my mouth to hold sections while curling my hair. Don’t judge, you know you do it too.  This doesn’t mean I won’t use a shampoo that isn’t gluten free. Of course I will, I’m just much more careful when I’m using it. I don’t question it at the salon because I do not have the risk of getting it in my mouth when rinsing it out.  There are a few gluten free brands that are easy to find and very reasonably priced- you may be using them already and not even know it!  Lots of people with celiac do not use GF shampoo and conditioner and do very well. Others feel that it does cause a reaction and choose to use GF products.  If you opt to use them, here is a short list to get you started!

California Baby Skin Protectant Shampoo & Body Wash California baby is great- their website lists if there is gluten in their products or not. I highly recommend them if you’re just getting started because their website is very user friendly!

Dove Damage Therapy– Dove is great with their labels, if it contains gluten, it’s usually written on the ingredients list.

Intelligent Nutrients Harmonic Hair Care Smells great and works amazing but pricey!

Kirkland Signature Moisture Shampoo & Conditioner This is one of my favorites! It’s from Costco and very reasonably priced! It works great!

Savonerrie -great source of GF products


Celiac basics for patients & those that love us

So what IS celiac disease?

This is a question I answer all too frequently. Usually someone will interject that it is a food allergy. No, it isn’t. I’m not allergic in the same way that someone is allergic to bees or peanuts.  Celiac disease is considered to be an autoimmune disorder. Our small intestine normally has villi, small fingerlike projections that stick inward helping our body absorb what we eat. In celiac disease, our body begins to attack these villi, destroying them. Without these projections, we cannot absorb nutrients well. Untreated, celiac disease can lead to osteoporosis, infertility, and even cancer.  The tricky thing with celiac disease is that not everyone’s symptoms are the same. Yes, of course, there are the most common symptoms of abdominal cramping and diarrhea, but that does not mean every celiac patient has those symptoms!

Now you may have heard of gluten insensitivity and wheat allergies. They are not the same. However, celiac disease(CD), non-celiac gluten sensitivity (NCGS) and wheat allergies all fall under the same umbrella term of “gluten intolerance.” The end result is the same- avoid gluten because it is doing some form of damage, however, the mechanism of damage is different for each. You may wonder “what difference does it make?” Well, ultimately it doesn’t when you are considering treatment- the gluten free diet is ideal for all three. However, the genetics of celiac disease and the associated illnesses apply to CELIAC DISEASE. This makes a huge difference when we are looking at long term prognosis and symptoms as well as what it means for our families due to genetics.

If you’re reading this blog, you either 1) have celiac disease, 2) love someone with celiac disease, 3) love the gluten free diet, or 4) are learning about celiac disease for other random purposes.  This post is directed to those who love us. If you have celiac disease- you get it. You know what happens. If you don’t have celiac disease, you have to work really hard to understand and learn “the rules.”  Trust me, my fiancé took a while to figure out what it would be like to date someone with celiac disease and 3 years later, he’s still learning. It can be daunting, but it’s doable! I’m going to try to keep this pretty straightforward so consider it your celiac disease 101. Eventually you’ll move up to the next course!

What happens if you eat gluten?

Well, like I said, everyone is different. It can range from abdominal bloating and pain, chronic diarrhea, nausea/vomiting, constipation, fatigue, etc. (here’s a list!)  Most commonly, your loved one will end up with abdominal cramps and diarrhea. It’s not pleasant. It can last a few hours, or a few days. Plus, its embarassing. I don’t want to tell anyone that I have diarrhea constantly- and they don’t want to hear about it either. Some people end up with rashes including dermatitis herpetiformis, psoriasis, eczema, and even with oral ulcers. This makes for very unhappy people!

What is the hardest part of the gluten free diet?

Oddly enough, at this point, I don’t think the diet is too hard. For ME, when I’m in control. See? There’s the catch.  I feel safe in my bubble, but we can’t all live in a bubble now can we? Now for me to give that control over to someone at a restaurant or, even more worse- at their own house, is pretty daunting. I’m usually confident that if the chef/waitress understand “gluten free” that they will be able to figure out what I can/cannot eat, especially if they are able to come up with substitutions without hesitating. My friends? Well, they are well meaning, but more often than not, unreliable. My close friends and family will usually run over the list of ingredients with me, but I feel bad sometimes asking people to securitize their labels.  This is usually when I’m just getting to know someone or I’m a guest of someone I’ve never really met.  That being said, I usually get over it pretty quickly though because I’m not willing to suffer for their benefit. (Okay unless it was my niece that tried really hard to share her birthday cake with me by removing all of the cake and giving me just frosting- full of cake crumbs. Yeah, I ate a bite. But she’s beyond adorable and how could I tell a 6 year old she didn’t do it right?)

Cross contamination is a real concern. I love my friends and family but sometimes they don’t get it either so don’t feel too bad. Gluten can hide in lots of places, you can’t just wipe off a pan used for gluten containing food and cook something gluten free. Same with the barbeque grill. In my house, we line everything with foil or parchment paper. This saves a ton of time worrying and aggravation when I realize something isn’t right just a little too late. I used to have a completely gluten free household, but since my fiancé moved in, cross contamination has become an issue.

Other than food, what else contains gluten?

Makeup, lotion, lipstick, shampoo, soaps, you name it. The list is long, and it’s hidden in a lot of different things. You don’t have to master it all. I usually recommend picking a few different things in each category.  Here’s a list of a few gluten free lotions. Are there more? Absolutely! But please don’t overwhelm yourself. I recommend my patient’s and families find a few go to items in each category. Once you’re comfortable, feel free to add to your own list, but remember to check ingredients with the companies because they can change without warning. Going gluten free isn’t just about sticking to a diet. It’s a lifestyle.

What can other’s do to keep celiacs safe?

It’s simple. Avoid cross contamination. Don’t eat off my plate with your fork if you’re eating gluten containing pasta. Can we share? Sure! Get a second set of silverware just for that when you’re out to eat! Don’t mess up my refrigerator. Seriously.  My fiancé would occasionally leave uncovered fried chicken on the top shelf and crumbs would tumble down onto other things. So ours is labeled carefully and he has specific places he can place food in there. Also, everything is labeled.  We buy condiments in 2’s. One is his, one is gluten free.  For example, we have two identical butter containers, one is his and one is mine. Mine is labeled and on a separate shelf. Anyone that is gluten free can use mine, otherwise, they have to use his.  I don’t want to worry about crumbs!

If you’re still worried or have questions- just ask! Trust me, I would rather have someone ask too many questions about what I can/cannot have than just assume something and put me at risk.  If you’re trying to learn about celiac disease because someone you love has it, there are plenty of resources out there! If you’re having trouble finding answers- shoot me a message and, hopefully, I can point you in the right direction!

Hope this helps get you started!


Banana Bread Delight

20131028-135859.jpgWhen I was little, my mom and I would spend our weekends at our family house in Michigan. There was a store down the road the sold the BEST banana bread ever. Seriously- I’d eat the entire loaf by the end of the day.   This is my favorite recipe for banana bread.  The best part is, banana bread is meant to be heavy so gluten free baking is a little easier. I suggest using your favorite gluten free flour and for stuff like this my “go-to” choice is Namaste Foods Perfect Flour Blend. Xanthan gum is already included so it’s one less step to worry about!

  • 2 cups gluten free flour blend
  • 4 overripe bananas
  • 1 ½  teaspoons baking soda
  • ½  teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 ½ sticks unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • ½ cup chopped pecans
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F
  2. Combine gluten free flour, baking soda, and salt. Mix well
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk bananas and sugar until you make a banana cream
  4. Add melted butter, eggs, and vanilla. Mix well
  5. Slowly mix in dry ingredients
  6. Gently fold in chopped pecans
  7. Spray loaf pan with oil or prepare with grease (I prefer the spray to save on calories)
  8. Bake for 90 minutes. When finished, the bread should be golden. Depending on your oven, you may need to rotate the loaf as well (I usually rotate it around 45 minutes)
  9. Allow bread to cool for 5-10 minutes before removing from the pan. It should cool completely before slicing.

If you’re looking for an extra treat, you can sprinkle powdered sugar on slices as well!


When to fake it…

Fake: adj “having a false or misleading appearance”

Come on everyone- we’ve all been there. At one time or another, all of us have wanted to be celiac free and not give as much thought to what we eat like we have been trained to do. We have all come to the point where we substitute our breads, pastas, cookies and pizzas with ease. We are all guilty of having that momentary excitement when we find one of our “old standbys” now have a gluten free version. I’ll admit it, I was pretty excited when I found that my local grocery store carried gluten free cupcakes on a regular basis- and they were tasty! When I was first diagnosed with celiac disease I was not underweight at all, in fact, when I went gluten free I managed to LOSE weight. Now as I learned to master the gluten free world the pounds starting to sneak back on- and on, and on.

I was a master of reading labels. I knew everything in my food to the point of obsession at times. However, while becoming the incredible gluten detecting machine I can be, I managed to overlook a vital part of food labels. Mainly calories, fat, and carbs- you know, the ones that fed my waistline to the point of being overweight. The scary part, though, is that this is pretty much the norm for most of the celiac community. Yikes! Time to get ourselves back in check!

First, I decided to start comparing gluten free versions to “real stuff.” Just a side note- when I approached a few gluten free friends, I was quickly shot down that GF versions are “real stuff” and I should get into the mind-frame of embracing my new GF world.  Please disregard the politically incorrect label of GF foods here as fake and those containing gluten as real. I love my “fake food” which is what my family came to call my GF foods at home and I’ve learned to roll with the punches. I’m pretty proud that most of the time, they can’t find the “fake food” at the table. Also, let’s be honest, we can generally tell when things are GF- they tend to be a bit more heavy so those fluffy/airy treats were like are hard to come up with a GF version! My gluten free donut doesn’t compare to a Krispy Kreme. My gluten free pizza crust will never be the same as my favorite dive pizzeria. The important thing for for me though is that it’s okay. I still love my gluten free donuts and my gluten free pizzas. I’m all for substituting gluten free versions when possible. Everyone has their own preferences. For myself, I will substitute gluten free pasta any day. In my opinion, it’s mostly the sauce that makes the pasta yummy. I have a favorite GF bread as well, but I don’t like using it for sandwiches. I’ve now started to LOVE making lettuce wraps for lunch. And as I mentioned- those gluten free cupcakes from my local grocery store are delicious. Actually, my favorite cupcakery in the city is their supplier! Double yum! (if you’re in Chicago- its Swirlz. Seriously. To. Die. For.)

Second, I needed to learn to navigate those food labels again. I had become so intent of finding the gluten on the label that I developed tunnel vision! The other difference that we all have to watch out for in gluten free food is right there! Gluten free food usually requires “a little extra” added to them to make up for their glutenless existence. Sometimes it can be extra butter or sugar for texture and/or flavor. You know what that means, right? Extra calories and fat. In fact, it’s well known that gluten free foods tend to be higher in calories and fat than their gluten containing counterparts. So this adds to my dilemma- to fake it or not? My own opinion is that most of the time, faking it just isn’t worth it the majority of the time. I’m going to stick with my bunless burgers, my lettuce wrap sandwiches, and I’ll probably skip the cookies most of the time, too. For me, I’d rather save my calories for something else- like those cupcakes!


Looking fabulous

Growing up I was a tomboy. I loved baseball, lived for fishing with my dad, and loved being outdoors. My mom tried her hardest to introduce me to Barbie dolls and all things pink! Granted, I did have a strawberry shortcake bedspread on my canopy bed, but I loved my He-Man figures more than my My Little Pony. However, it wasn’t long before I found my girly side. Eventually I lived for our trips to the drugstore to get new nailpolish or a face mask- all by the ripe old age of 12. Wrinkles beware!

Through the eyes of my teenage self, looking good meant people liking me. I was convinced that the prettier and skinnier you were, the more likeable you were- more friends, more popularity, more happiness.  I’d like to say that in my 20s I knew better. However, I think my 20’s were more of a learning experience in that regard. I learned how to appreciate my freckles. Actually, forget that. I LOVE my freckles. They are no longer the annoying polka dots on my body that my friends played connect the dots with in school. Instead, they represent so much fun that I had outdoors growing up. My grandfather once told me that I had freckles because God ran out of room in the sky for stars so He had to put them somewhere else.  I also learned to appreciate my curves. Yup. I’m not stick thin. Never have been, never will be. What I once thought were “thunder thighs” were actually strong muscular legs from running and playing volleyball. My hourglass figure is what men actually find attractive (thank you Sofia Vergara,  Christina Hendricks, and a multitude of other curvy ladies!). 

Now you might be wondering why this post belongs on a gluten free blog. Well, if you picked up in my last blog or two, I managed to ingest a small amount of gluten. Daily. For about 8 weeks. Doh.  One of the huge things I did notice was a change in my skin. It was dull, I was breaking out, my rashes started getting worse (eczema and psoriasis), and I was generally just well… exhausted.  Of course gluten does not cause acne. It does not change your color of your skin, cause bags under your eyes, or cause you to look like you just rolled out of bed in the middle of the afternoon.  However, it does cause you to sleep poorly (damn cramping), put more stress on your body, and your diet pretty well is shot because you’re not absorbing important things! One of the first things I did once realizing my mishap with gluten was get a mani/pedi.  Next, I started giving myself a few extra minutes at night for a facial. Did it cure my celiac? No. But it did help my skin heal from its glutenous battle. And I can admit it now. I’m vain. Looking good makes me feel good.  It’s so important that we realize that celiac disease has its emotional aspect as well. No one wants to feel sick constantly. It’s exhausting. So when you’re having a “celiac moment” (regardless if it’s for a few weeks like my silly slip or if it is a one time mishap) make sure you pamper yourself! It’s the best way to get back to feeling fabulous!


Perfectly Imperfect

Anyone with celiac can relate to the awful moment when some gluten has managed to get past their lips. For me, those have always included being pretty angry and disappointed in myself. I would think: I’m never going to figure out this diet. I don’t want to go out to eat anymore. I don’t trust anyone with preparing my food except myself and, honestly, sometimes I didn’t even trust myself. After about 5 years of the diet I think I have finally gotten the hang of it. While I know its bad to cheat on the GFD, I will be honest and say I have done it in the past. Is it worth it? Nope. Seriously- the food wasn’t as good as I thought it would be and I would be sick for days! Plus, there’s always the long term consequences associated with NOT following the GFD! I don’t know about you, but infertility, osteoporosis and CANCER do not sound like a great trade off for that pizza or cookie! 

So for the first few months I would CONSTANTLY beat myself up about my mistakes. It made the processes pretty miserable for myself. I now know much better and give myself some slack. When I talk to people who are new to the diet, I try to warn them that mistakes are bound to happen. It’s a part of life and you just need to quickly identify your source and get rid of it. I can’t tell you how many times I have taken everything out of my refrigerator or my cabinets and gone over every label. EVERY SINGLE LABEL. It may sound like an overkill, but hey, sometimes the ingredients change! 

About 6 weeks ago I started to have trouble sleeping. I was increasingly fatigued and had various joint and muscle aches. I’m one to end up with mouth sore with my “flares” and I ended up with a few of them on and off over the past few weeks. My personal life had been pretty damn stressful lately so I pretty well attributed it all to stress. That is until the cramping and stomach pains kicked in. Apparently, after 5 years of the diet, things still manage to slip past me. I had changed my kcups for my keurig and apparently not realized that one brand “contains trace amount of wheat.” One or two k-cups each week had not done too much damage but it was a whole different story when I started having them daily, then twice each day, and finally 3-4 times each day! Oh come on! The more tired I was, the more coffee I would drink! Now I know there are concerns out there about coffee in general being a source of gluten and let me tell you that is FALSE! In fact, most (almost all) are gluten free! It’s the fancy-shmacy flavored ones you need to double and triple check! (In case you’re wondering, I was pounding cafe escapes french vanilla cafe au lait)

The reason I decided to take a moment and post this is because I’m sure there are many other celiacs out there that have had to deal with accidental ingestion. It’s frustrating, but it happens to the best of us! None of us are perfect no matter how hard we try.  


National Down Syndrome Awareness Month

imagesDid you know that October is National Down Syndrome Awareness Month? Did you also know that children with Down Syndrome are more likely to develop celiac disease than other children? According to some studies, the number can be as high as 10%, compared to 0.7% of the general population. That’s a huge deal!  Children (and adults) with Down Syndome are at a higher risk of autoimmune disorders, the two most common being hypothyroid disease and celiac disease. In autoimmune diseases, your body gets its signals crossed and takes its aggravation out on itself. Yup- your body basically attacks, well- your body. In celiac disease, antibodies are made when we ingest gluten. They then turn and begin attacking the small intestine and prevent our bodies from absorbing important nutrients.  The only way to prevent this from happening is by following the gluten free diet.


Now, while celiac disease is definitely addressed more frequently now by doctors, it may not be one of the first things they think about in their patients with Down Syndrome.  My point? Well, sometimes parents need to be their children’s advocate, even with their pediatrician. So, if you’re concerned that your child may have signs or symptoms of celiac disease, bring it up at your next appointment! You may be right.

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.

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.”