I’m Not Trying to Be Hip – Just Healthy

I just read this articleJust because you have given up sugar, gluten and carbs – don’t ram it down my throat,” and I expected to be really pissed off. But in the end, I actually chuckled and realized the writer has a point. And I’ve noticed it, too.

Yes, it’s true – everyone’s giving up something these days – sugar, gluten, dairy, etc. And I’m one of them. I gave up gluten last August, and in January it was dairy. I feel like I’m just another one of the many people out there who are taking on the air of superiority because I have eliminated whole food groups. I know what she’s talking about – I’ve seen it and heard it myself.

But I’m not one of those people. I did have conversations with my doctor. I did get tested for Celiac. (I tested negative, thank goodness!) My doctor and I had very candid conversations about what was going on with my body and how to make it feel better.

In the end, once we figured out which two (yes, TWO) foods I had to give up, he asked me, “Can you live like that?”

I knew right then that I had to make a choice – to either fully give up two food groups that I dearly loved or suffer the consequences, including surgery to “correct” a problem in my stomach. Is surgery preferable over changing my diet? I don’t think so…

So, yes, I do understand why this person (and many others, I’m sure, as is evident from the various quotes in the story) have come to hate on the abstainers. Normal people must look at us GFCF (Gluten-free Casein-free) folks and the other various groups out there who have given up on the good stuff and think we’re idiots.

Who would give up all bread, pasta, cake, cheese, yogurt, etc. if they didn’t have to? Seriously!!

So, I agree with her point – not everyone should be doing this! If you don’t have to give up food groups, then DON’T!! It’s really a lot more of a challenge than you might think. And it’s sooooo hard to do every day.

It’s almost as hard as giving up cigarettes.

I read Dr. Davis’ book, “Wheat Belly” and couldn’t stop reading it.  I actually agree with him on most of what the book talks about, especially the fact that wheat has been fundamentally changed, and is now a widely used GMO. And giving up wheat is probably a very good idea – or at least cutting down.

The real problem is that we, as in humans, eat far too much of it. No wonder it has had such an impact on our waistlines over the past 20+ years. No one was ever meant to eat bread three times a day! That’s a lot of starch…

But what of the superiority? What about the fact that in my childhood, food allergies were so miniscule, I never knew anyone with a food allergy until college, at that was one of those Anaphylaxis types to nuts!

No one ever had food allergies. No one ever had Celiac (never even heard of this until much, much later.) No one was sensitive to certain foods.

And no one weighed 200 lbs. at age 14, either.

Today’s world is not the same one we grew up in. We’ve been subjected to far too many changes in our food supply. I strongly believe there are consequences for that. We have been eating highly processed food for far too long and the effects of that are catching up to us.

Yes, we have a lot more intolerances and allergies these days. What we’ve been eating has attacked our defenses and made us all more vulnerable. I think that living the way I did for more than 20 years created a perfect storm in my body, causing it to attack itself when certain foods came into play. And wouldn’t you know it? It was the two food groups I ate most of the time – bread and cheese! I think my body just got to a point where it just couldn’t handle it any more. It was trying to let me know by acting out – like a child.

I hate that I can’t eat bread or cheese anymore. It really sucks. But at least I don’t have to have surgery.

And if I ever get all high and mighty with my friends about the fact that I’m GFCF, I would hope that they care enough about me to let me know I’m starting to sound a bit like an ass.

To a healthier, happier and longer life.


A Small Triumph in the Food Industry Fight – No More Pink Slime!

I just read this news post on U.S. NewsMcDonald’s is discontinuing its use of the “pink slime.” You may not have been aware of this, but that’s what you’ve been eating every time you ate a burger from McDonald’s. And they aren’t the only ones!

I remember when I saw this clip by Jamie Oliver from his Food Revolution show. He demonstrated how meat manufacturers take scraps of meat and turn it into “edible pink slime.”  It made my stomach turn…seriously. I can’t believe what our government has allowed to be passed as food for so many years. Really – who is looking out for the consumers?

Pink slime, in case you aren’t aware, is formed from a scrap meat separating process. The meat manufacturers take scraps that would normally be considered the lowest level of meat and most likely discarded or used for dog food, and treat it with ammonium-hydroxide and run it through a machine. This creates a meat-like paste that Jamie Oliver referred to as pink slime. And this is what they make burger patties from and sell them to fast-food chains everywhere. Gross.

According to the USDA, it’s a process and therefore not an ingredient. So, manufacturers of this pink slime do not have to include the ammonium-hydroxide on their food labels. Leaving consumers none the wiser as to the origin of their meat. And it’s not only beef – this process is used in poultry and pork, as well.

According to Todd Bacon, McDonald’s senior supply chain officer, McDonald’s  discontinued using the pink slime at the beginning of the year and are complying with social interests in the food supply.

He further claimed in a statement to the Daily Mail that the decision “was not related to any particular event, but rather to support our effort to align our global beef raw material standards.”

Well, whether it was or wasn’t related to Jamie Oliver’s show, it seems as though our cries for higher food standards are slowly having an affect. I’m ecstatic to hear that at least McDonald’s is smart enough to listen when the consumer speaks out.

One battle won…many more to go.

To a longer, healthier and happier life.

Gluten-Free Ain’t All Bad…Learning Through Mistakes

So, I’ve been going through the trials and tribulations of learning to go gluten-free. I’ve made some mistakes along the way (who knew wheat was the number two ingredient in soy sauce?) but I’ve also made some very wonderful discoveries that will definitely help me in the future. Without mistakes, there is no learning. Right? Right!

One thing I have learned is what my initial symptom, or my tell, is when I’ve been glutened. And I think this is extremely important as it lets me know right away when gluten has been surreptitiously slipped into my food without my knowledge. And I can easily pinpoint the culprit so as not to make the same mistake twice. Finding your initial reaction (for me, it’s the onset of acid reflux) is critical in finding your way in a gluten-free world. So, the next time you go to a restaurant and ask for gluten-free pasta, you’ll know if  your request was honored or if you had some self-righteous chef in the back who thinks he knows better than you. (Yes, it happens!) So, learn your tell!

I also discovered that being gluten-free doesn’t mean I can’t eat wonderful foods that I grew up loving – comfort foods! Just this week I decided it was high time to pull out my crock pot and get it stoked for the fall season.

First I made beef stew, chock full of wonderful veggies, potatoes and beef chunks. I used some gluten-free beef stock (Progresso stocks are actually labeled gluten-free) to add that little extra flavor. YUM! Next, I wanted to get more work done so I thought the crock pot could be my savior again. So, chilli was on the menu – ground turkey, pinto beans, fresh tomatoes and some green chilies, along with fresh-cut onions and garlic. Delish! Worcestershire sauce and the previously mentioned beef stock added plenty of extra flavor along with some tomato sauce – gluten-free, of course.

I discovered that you have to pay special attention to your seasonings. My spice rack, as it turns out, is full of monosodium glutamateMSG. It took me a few bouts of acid reflux to figure this one out when I should have picked up on it right away.

A lot of blends (season salts, Everglades – my husband’s favorite, etc.) contain MSG, so you need to make sure to check their labels. Also, be aware of the seasonings that are manufactured in plants that also process products containing wheat. Tastefully Simple, for example, puts it right on their label that they use facilities that process wheat products. So, check your seasonings – some of the best, most popular blends contain MSG and this stuff, if you react the way I do, will cause serious pain. Ouch!

But I’ve discovered how lovely the Mrs. Dash seasoning blends really are. So many varieties, no gluten and no salt – what’s not to love about them? I use them quite liberally on practically everything from eggs to salads to the chilli I made for dinner last night. You just can’t go wrong with them.

It seems for every mistake I make, I learn something new and exciting to make up for the acid reflux pain. And that’s quite alright with me. The great news overall is I’m learning to live this gluten-free life and have been able to control my acid reflux, which has plagued me for several years, without medication. I’ve officially gone off of the Nexium I’ve been taking forever. And that makes me quite happy.

So, get out there and make some mistakes! You never learn anything without them.

To a healthier, happier and longer life.

Is Flavored Coffee Gluten-Free?

All coffee, regular and decaf, is naturally gluten-free. However, when it comes to the ingredients (usually hidden with words like “natural and artificial flavors“) used to created the flavor, these are usually not gluten-free. I personally love flavored coffee and do not think adding a flavored creamer is the same. So, I sent an email to my favorite coffee company to inquire.

This is the email I received in return:

Dear Ms. Cordell,

Thank you for contacting The J.M. Smucker Company regarding our Millstone® coffee products. For over 110 years, consumer safety and product quality have been of paramount importance to our company.

Coffee is not a source of gluten and our Millstone® roast and ground coffee items are produced in a dedicated facility where no other types of agricultural crops are handled or processed. However, due to the use of common equipment within the agricultural community to harvest, store and transport crops, our roast and ground products may contain trace amounts of grain-based ingredients.

Additionally, our flavored coffee products may contain added ingredients that are not gluten free.

Thank you again for your interest. We hope that you will continue to enjoy our products for years to come. If you should have further questions or need additional information, please visit us at http://www.millstone.com or contact us at 800-522-7894, Monday through Friday, 9:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time.



Consumer Relations Representative

Most responses from other coffee manufacturers will be the same – they mention the agricultural practices and cross contamination, which generally isn’t a problem but keeps them from being able to claim their product is gluten-free. The real problem with the flavored coffees is the ingredients used to create the flavors. Until we are made aware of what those ingredients are and can verify if they are gluten-free or not, we have to assume they are not safe.

If you have Celiac, you should avoid flavored coffees unless they state on their package they are gluten-free.


To a healthier, happier and longer life.

Beginning A New Way Of Life…Going Gluten-Free

As I mentioned in my previous post, I have only just, at the age of 41, discovered I have an Intolerance for wheat gluten. I have been living gluten-free in the months since. It’s only been two months so far – I feel incredible, but I am feeling the pangs of loss.

For bread.

And pasta.

I haven’t had wheat bread or pasta since the end of the summer. (sigh)

I know there are lots of people out there who have Celiac or wheat gluten intolerance or an allergy and I’m not an isolated case. Those people do not feel sorry for me at all. Some people have never really been able to enjoy wheat or pasta, or cereal, or cookies, or cakes…there are many things that contain wheat gluten out there. And I don’t feel sorry for me either.

I shouldn’t.

And I won’t ever be tempted to eat it, either. Because I know the consequences if I ever do.

Before I discovered my issue with wheat, I felt horrible all the time. The worst part is I didn’t realize how sick I felt until I got better. I honestly thought it was my age creeping up on me and that it would only get worse as I got older. That part made me sad and I was trying everything to keep it from happening. I was working out several times a week, probably pushing myself more than I needed to leaving myself open for injuries. I was always on some new diet to help keep my weight down, which was nearly impossible since my insulin and leptin levels were out of whack.

And nothing was helping. I hurt all the time. I felt lethargic and chronically fatigued. I lacked motivation constantly and had to really mentally overcome it every day. It was a daily struggle. Can you believe I thought this was normal?

One week after going off the gluten (all grains, in fact) I had a complete, unexpected turn around in my overall health. It was amazing! I talked to my doctor about it and he told me I didn’t need a test to verify what I already know. Plus, I would actually have to go back on gluten for four weeks in order to do the blood test for Celiac. But, I wasn’t willing to go back.

Today I’m pain free and have had a complete recovery of my energy. I don’t feel lethargic all the time anymore. I had an itchy, red rash on my scalp that has cleared up, too. Changing my lifestyle and making the bread sacrifice has been the best thing I’ve ever done for myself. I’m curious to see what other ailments are related to my gluten intolerance and if they will be alleviated as well over time.

There are many different symptoms of Celiac disease, wheat allergies and a general intolerance for wheat gluten. My symptoms represent only a handful of symptoms which also include chronic diarrhea, malnutrition, weight loss and anemia. If you think you may have Celiac or a wheat sensitivity, talk to your doctor about getting a blood test to rule out Celiac first.

Unfortunately there is no test for any wheat intolerance except for Celiac, which presents with damage to the villi in the intestines. A biopsy is the only way to confirm Celiac disease. If you test negative for Celiac, it doesn’t mean you won’t benefit from an elimination of wheat gluten from your diet. You may still have wheat sensitivity and a diet devoid of gluten may be a good treatment for your symptoms.

If you have any symptoms and suspect you may have a wheat sensitivity of any kind, talk to your doctor about your options.

I still can’t believe the difference going gluten-free has made in my life. I feel better than I have in the past 10 years – I have plenty of energy, I don’t feel swollen or puffy any more, I don’t feel pain any more. I feel like I’ve just gained back 10 years of my life.

But I still miss bread and pasta. What can I say?

To a healthier, happier and longer life.

A Dieter’s Epiphany…

So, I’ve been trying out new diets, tweaking my nutritional intake, and generally just trying to solve the mysteries of obesity and overweight for a long time. My husband has made claims that I am just chasing fireflies and won’t figure anything out completely…it’s almost impossible. But I think I may be on to something…

I began another (yes, another) new diet at the end of August called the Fat Resistance Diet, by Leo Galland, M.D. with amazing results…results I didn’t expect. I had been suffering from chronic fatigue, bloat, and what I always called “puffiness” for quite a long time. These symptoms began to disappear almost immediately on the Fat Resistance Diet. I looked at what I had been eating and quickly realized I had not eaten any grains in a couple of weeks and had already lost 12 lbs. in the process. I continued on the diet for another week and lost a few more pounds, making my total weight loss for the first three weeks 15 lbs.

The weight loss was awesome, but that wasn’t the thing that really caught my attention. All the loss of energy and motivation I had been experiencing had disappeared and I felt better than I had in I don’t know how long. My energy levels were through the roof compared to what they were. Then, after a few more weeks, not really sticking to the diet, but laying off of gluten, the mysterious pain in my shins also disappeared. The rash I had on my scalp – a red, bumpy, itchy rash that I had been trying to keep in check for years with Neutrogena T-Gel – also disappeared. I felt like a whole new person.

I talked to my doctor about allergies and sensitivities to certain foods. I described what my symptoms were and that they had gone and he said to me, “people know the answers when they come in with these kinds of questions – if you eliminated this food and you feel better, what do you think the answer is?” He was right. As good as I felt there was no way I was going back to eating the things that were literally making me sick and creating pain in my body. It was as simple as that.

But the realization that I have an allergy to wheat gluten was just the tip of the iceberg. I also noticed that, along with the elimination of grains, I had added in a lot of dark green, leafy vegetables, healthy anti-oxidant rich dark berries (like blueberries and strawberries) and pomegranate juice and more fish. These were simple changes in my daily diet but the results were amazing. I wasn’t hungry! That’s what was so unbelievable…I didn’t have munchies and I wasn’t hungry all day long. I didn’t really feel like I was on a diet at all. And I’m still eating the same types of foods today and have the same feeling as when I first started the diet. I feel satisfied after eating and I’m not always wanting to feed my face.

Not too long after I began noticing these little improvements in my physical well-being, I picked up and read the book, Wheat Belly – Lose the Wheat, Lose the Weight, and Find Your Path Back to Health by William Davis, M.D. which is an insanely interesting read. I was really inspired by what Dr. Davis said and his book, along with what I had discovered with Dr. Galland’s diet, really started me thinking about the state of people in today’s world.

This is my belief – People eat food that has been overly processed and lacks nutrional value. That means that when a person eats this type of food, their body isn’t getting what it needs. It’s still hungry! So, this same person eats more processed food, still not giving their body what it truly needs nutrition-wise, which leaves the person feeling bloated and full but not satisfied. The brain is still sending the same signals to eat because it still hasn’t received what it needs. It’s a vicious cycle.

But it can be broken.

Just say, "No!"

The body is an engine and it needs fuel. If you put really bad, diluted gas in your car’s gas tank, what happens to the engine? It breaks down and quits working. If you put the supreme gas in the tank, it purrs like a kitten. So, why would you put crappy “gas” into your body’s tank? This is your engine. It needs to last a long time and it’s up to YOU to take care of it. You have to feed it the right fuels – lots of fresh vegetables and fruit, lean meats, nuts, etc. You can’t feed it doughnuts all the time. The phytonutrients you get from green vegetables and dark fruits just aren’t in there. Yet they are essential to your overall health.

Take this challenge – Go grain-free and “box” free for one week and see how you feel! That means you will have to spend some time in your kitchen preparing meals, cutting veggies, actually cooking your dinner. But that’s a good thing – your kitchen utensils have probably not seen you in a while. Don’t open a box from the freezer – instead make a hearty vegetable soup, or stew. Get out that crock pot and put it to some good use. Add some chicken or turkey into it for dinner. Make a healthy salad with some tuna on top. Grill some fish on your grill. But stay away from breads and pastas. Just give it a try for one week – I bet your body will thank you!

To a healthier, happier and longer life.

How to Rule the Whole Freaking World

Copyblogger is one of my favorite blogs for my freelance writing. They always have amazing blogs that offer tons of insight. So, imagine what I was thinking when a blog titled How to Rule the Whole Freaking World popped into my inbox. The headline grabbed my attention, of course. But in all seriousness, this is one of the best blog posts I’ve read in a while. It made me feel fantastic right off the bat! Do yourself a favor…read it.

Thank you Sonia!