Wednesday, July 15, 2009

My Family

Two Celiacs (my son and my sister), one woman with RA on a gluten-free diet, and one small boy with gluten-intolerance (no celiac genes, but he has colon bleeding when he ingests gluten--go figure!)

And all of them blessed.

My son's celiac diagnosis led my family down a new path--not everyone in my extended family would do the testing, but among those who did, there were some surprises. . .and renewed health.

Mom's GF Diet!

So far, I've told you about my son, and our blessed adjustment to his celiac disease. But there is another side to the gf diet in our house. In fact, before he was diagnosed or we even thought he might be celiac, I had started experimenting with cutting gluten from my diet, hoping it might improve my rheumatoid arthritis.

I was very skeptical in the beginning. When you're diagnosed with a chronic disease, people come out of the woodwork trying to sell you something. It seems everyone's uncle's aunt or sister's cousin's brother was cured by the juice of a bug from an island only recently discovered and not sold in stores. Or by not eating wheat.

(I humbly apologize to all of you who sell nutritional supplements, etc., and genuinely mean well. I know you care, and I don't doubt your sincerity. Thank you for your offers of help. I appreciate you all. I check everything I do through my doctor before trying it.)

However, the more research I did, the more desperate I got for some real help in being healthier, the more I became persuaded to at least try a wheat-free diet. There are numerous studies relating diet to RA, though no one has any conclusive evidence relating any specific food all of the time to the disease. However, there have been studies showing that a gluten-free diet improves RA in about 30% of people. My doctor agreed I could give it a try, and said I might get some improvement.

No cures though.

So about ten months ago, I started out, half-heartedly, cutting things out a little at a time, until I was eating completely gluten-free just about the time Alec was diagnosed. That was a huge blessing--it made the whole transition with him so much easier!

I eat lots of nuts (I'm snacking on my walnuts right now), fresh fruits and vegetables, just a little in the way of meat and dairy products, try to keep away from processed foods and sugar, no pop, etc. I graze through the day, and eat small meals with my family so I'm less likely to fall off the wagon! Lots of omega 3 rich foods. Some chicken. I have a few special treats just for myself, drink a cup of coffee that I nurse through the morning, and occasionally I buy chocolate just for me!!

About once or twice a week I indulge in a large piece of beef, which I look forward to with all my heart, sometimes I even obsess over it. Just a bit. Not much. Roast for Sunday lunch is a tradition at our house. I love the smell of it cooking when we come home from church. It's everyone's favorite meal of the week. Only now there are no rolls to burn. Who would burn those? Must have been Hannah or Rebecca. Or Jeff.

I have a few other weird dietary restrictions because of things I won't share with you here (eww, gross), but they make the diet a bit harder. For instance, no tea (better not to ask). Orange juice, lemonade, etc. Eggs trigger my migraines, as do almonds and pecans, though I can eat them occasionally.

But I stick with all this (and it can be boring) because I do FEEL BETTER!! I am healthier in general, have more energy, and I have the positive feeling of doing something that I can control. The drugs help, they really do. If ever I am tempted to skip one, I am immediately reminded of why I take it. RA is no slouch of a disease, and it can make me miserable, even unable to function, very quickly.

I can't testify to exactly how much the diet has helped--I started a new drug within a month or so of starting the diet. But I will not go back. This is the longest I've been up and moving since this whole ordeal began 3 years ago. God gives us tools, and this is one of them for me. It makes it easier for Alec to stick to his diet since I am going along with him. It makes it easier for the whole family to have Mom up, moving, smiling. I can walk and bend and enjoy my life.
(See my first gardern in many summers!)

Who cares what I eat? (Well, I do. . .but I'd rather walk.)

Have a blessed day. Cherish those you love, even if you have to hug them in this heat!

Here are some website about RA and diet--there are so many more.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Off to Camp!

We did it!

In the end, there was very little fanfare. No one noticed the extra box and cooler of food. The young nurse in charge of the camp looked a little nervous while I was explaining everything to her at the last minute, amidst the chaos of 100 excited middle schoolers, but when I told her that he is a healthy boy who knows all of this himself, almost better than I do, and that he won't die immediately if she makes a mistake, she relaxed visibly.

And he and his twin sister are off to camp!

For five nights. Without me. And I won't even hear from them.

But I didn't realize until I talked to the camp cook just how much food I would be sending with my little celiac for the week! We basically replaced every meal and most snacks for six days! Whew! It took a day-long buying, cooking and packing session to get it all done. Luckily, the cook is familiar with other food allergies and cross contamination issues, so she will separately prepare his food. And since he'll most likely go to the same camp for the next several years, this week will serve as a trial run to see what works and what doesn't--and then we'll do better next time.

I searched the internet, trying to find specific tips from someone who'd done this all before, but the most I found were more general ideas. The book, Your Celiac Child, had some helpful information, but I like a road map to where I am going, so I am posting the specific things I sent, hoping that will help someone along the way. I'm also posting information on where I got everything, which will only be helpful to folks in the OKC area, but I spend so much time figuring out where to get everything, that information ought to be worth something to someone else!


*breakfast cereal (2 kinds of Chex)
*muffins (Gluten Free Pantry mix by Glutino, made with fresh blueberries--yum! This was at Akins on Memorial)
*protein bars (a couple of different kinds--I let him eat the South Beach bars)
*instant grits
*gf (gluten-free) spaghetti (Ancient Harvest Quinoa--our favorite)
*gf nacho cheese sauce (Rico's, available at Walmart. Thank you Sandra at!)
*gf spaghetti sauce (I'll get back to you on this brand!)
*potatoes for baking
*snack-sized cups of peanut-butter
*boxes of gf crackers (Blue Diamond Nut Thins)
*gf pretzels (Glutino--these are our very favorite!!! So crisp! I have to order them on Amazon, but this time I got them in smaller snack bags. I try to never be without.)
*3 kinds of gf cookies (chocolate chip, ginger snaps, and sugar cookies--The Mi-Del chocolate chip cookies were from Akins, but Homeland usually carries the Ginger snaps. And I made his favorite sugar cookies, the Cherrybrooke Kitchen Gluten Free Dreams mix. I use my food processor on this mix and it makes it slightly less gritty.)
*fruit cups

In the cooler:

*1 package frozen gf chicken strips (thaw and cook)
*3 pre-cooked frozen chicken breasts (thaw and reheat) (from Chick-fil-A)
*1 package gf hot dogs
*1 frozen gf pizza (Amy's Rice Crust cheese Pizza from Akins)
*1 package cheese sticks
*1 package frozen pre-cooked hamburger meat for spaghetti sauce

I also included a simple explanation of celiac disease and a short list of ingredients to look for on labels.

And they're both going to have a blast at camp!

And I'm going to have a week at home without my tweenagers! Now what?