Getting past a fear of food

Getting past a fear of food

I’m writing this blog post mainly for my records to help me solve this mystery as I put pieces together in the future.

Last night, I had an extreme food reaction. It’s the third time in 2018 this has happened.

It came on suddenly about 20 minutes after I ate dinner. The best way to describe how I react is to imagine having food poisoning. It’s extremely painful, unrelenting and intense. In addition to the vomiting and diarrhea, I feel like I have hot coals in my digestive system.

Now, here’s the mystery. Last night and the time before that, it occurred after eating gluten free food I had prepared for myself in my own home. We barely have any gluten in our home, and my family knows what precautions they need to take when eating gluten to keep me safe. Everyone in the family ate the same meal, and no one else got sick.

This is the type of food reaction that I only have had in the past from accidentally ingesting gluten. There was nothing in common about the two meals that made me sick. Last night, I ate some foods that I don’t regularly eat, but have eaten before: Gluten free pasta and gluten free spaghetti sauce. I know that it’s a risk for me to eat those foods because they make me feel “not great,” but I was starving and sometimes eating something is better than eating nothing.

I know what type of reaction I can have to pasta made with gluten free grains or the tomatoes in spaghetti sauce. But this was a “Let’s try to pull Emily’s small intestine out of her body through her esophagus” type of feeling, not a “my tummy hurts” kind of sick.

I’ve been mentally reviewing everything I ate yesterday, pulling containers out of the garbage can just to be sure I didn’t miss anything on the labels. I’ve actually been hoping that I could find a gluten reference that I missed. Without that, I’m just praying that at some point, someone in the family accidentally touched some gluten that got on my food.

I’m hoping that because the alternative is worse. The other option is that I had a reaction that severe to eating random foods. The other option is that I reacted that severely to something other than gluten, and I don’t know what that “something” was.

I’ve been working really hard this year to add foods back into my life after being on a very restrictive diet for an entire year. I’ve been surprised at how much I have struggled with the fear of food. You might think that I’m dying to eat many of the foods that I have eliminated for so long… things like eggs, nuts, tomatoes, chocolate and coffee. But it’s actually been a challenge to convince myself to take the risk of eating things that might disrupt my system and knock me down again.

When I have instances like last night, it definitely doesn’t help me overcome my fear of food.

So, I’ll be taking it easy today. I’m wiped out in the way you feel the day after you have the flu.

It snowed again last night. My poor daffodils are wilting under their blanket of ice. This isn’t supposed to happen in the second half of April. But the cold weather will end today, and hopefully, my daffodils and I will both spring back to life.

By this afternoon, I’m hoping to have some energy back after a difficult night. I’m going to rehydrate myself, get some good nutrition and move forward.

Happy Thursday, friends!

 

 

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Paleo dinners, lunches and desserts this month

Paleo dinners, lunches and desserts this month

One year ago, I radically changed my diet over night. But the transition of how to feed my family has taken much longer to figure out.

It’s one thing to change my own eating habits. It’s quite another to change someone else’s diet, especially when they are teenagers and might not want to make a switch. I’ve finally come to terms with the idea that most of our family dinners will be Paleo. In other words, I serve the whole family the same dinner I am making for myself about 80 percent of the time.

The kids can eat what they want for breakfast. (I still buy cereal and cow’s milk, but they have the option to use almond milk, rice milk or coconut milk and eat a grain free breakfast.) They often purchase hot lunch at school, or I will pack them a lunch that’s either Paleo or Standard American Diet (whichever they prefer).

They’ve come a long way in adjusting to eating dinners that are grain free, dairy free, soy free, legume free, sugar free and free of processed foods. But it’s still entertaining to watch their reactions when they come to the dinner table. The 8-year-old usually announces right away that she doesn’t like what’s being served. Our 13-year-old daughter often laughs while she’s scooping food onto her plate.

Our 15-year-old son is the most hilarious. He typically looks at the food and shakes his head with a look of “What happened to my life?!” I imagine him doing the Kramer surprise reaction on the inside. Ironically, he almost always goes back for a big plate of seconds. He’s a hungry boy.

Last week, however, our oldest son took one bite of dinner and exclaimed, “Wow! This is good! I could eat this everyday!”

He was eating a made-up recipe that I created after being inspired by the crustless pizza available at Lou Malnati’s.

I’m sorry about the photo that is to follow. I am discovering that food bloggers have a special process for making food photos look amazing.

Basically, I added some oregano, garlic powder, basil and salt to two pounds of ground pork. I pressed that into the bottom of a large dish and baked it at 350 degrees for about 35 minutes. I topped it with pizza sauce, mushrooms, onions and sliced olives, and then baked the whole thing for another 15 minutes or so. The result was something that reminded us of pizza!

Here are a few of my other new favorite Paleo recipes that I tried in January:

DINNERS

(That’s a real food blogger photo!)

This Curried Shepherd’s Pie with Sweet Potato Mash was amazing. I would have never thought to put curry in a shepherd’s pie. (I only used 1 teaspoon, instead of 1 tablespoon.) I cooked my sweet potatoes in an electric pressure cooker and then mashed them for the topping. (I also left out the peas, since they are not Paleo.) So good.

OK, so I didn’t actually even attempt to feed this one to my kids. I knew the combination of Crispy Chicken with Artichokes, Beets, Lemons and Olives would be too much for them. But I LOVED it! I really enjoy combining a variety of unusual flavors and this one had them all!

If you haven’t made Kahlua Pig in the electric pressure cooker yet, give it a try! Just a head’s up that it does take a WHILE too cook. Give yourself at least two hours, since it takes 90 minutes just to cook the pork. My kids have discovered they love cooked cabbage! We never have enough. I served this with baked sweet potatoes, which I made in my second electric pressure cooker.

I actually made my kids a real gluteny, dairy filled lasagna to eat, while I ate this amazing Puerto Rican Plantain Lasagna. I don’t eat peppers, so I substituted mushrooms and olives in the filling.

When I find a recipe that I want to try I pin it on my “Meal Planning” board on Pinterest. You can follow this board for other ideas (including lots of recipes from before I went Paleo).

LUNCHES

My boys are always starving when they get home from high school at 2:30, so I like to have some filling, healthy snacks for them to grab when they get home. These also made some easy lunches for me to grab on my way to work on those days I don’t want to eat soup!

I substituted canned salmon for the tuna, and omitted the peppers in these (not so) Spicy Tuna Cakes.

My family thought these Curry Turkey Bites had too much of a kick, but I really enjoyed them, especially with the apricot ginger sauce.

My kids gobbled up the Egg Foo Youngish. (That’s a real food blogger photo!) They are kind of like a pancake, but really easy to grab and go on the way out the door.

 

DESSERTS

My husband’s birthday is in January, and I typically make him a cherry pie. He prefers not to eaten gluten these days, so I tried this recipe for Cherry Cobbler. For the filling, I simply used frozen cherries that you can buy in a bag at Costco. This was aMaZiNg and so easy to make!

Since our oldest son can’t have nuts and the cobbler uses almond flour, I also made a Paleo Pumpkin Pie. I  make this all of the time without the crust. You just bake the filling at 350 degrees for 65 minutes. It’s so simple, and we all love it! (Sorry again for the bad photo!)

 

I also can’t believe that I finally found a Paleo Banana Bread recipe that is so easy to make and tastes amazing. I have made this a few times now, without the chocolate chips. It’s SUCH a treat to eat something that tastes like bread.

**

So, what about you? Have you tried any awesome new recipes lately? Have you made any changes to your diet this year? How’s it going?

 

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My no-fail Instant Pot soup formula

My no-fail Instant Pot soup formula

In the past, when I thought of people who ate a “healthy” plant-based diet, I assumed that their life consisted of lots and lots of salad.

But one thing I discovered very quickly when I completely changed the way I eat one year ago is that I do not like eating salad. I don’t really enjoy eating cold food, in general. I especially don’t like eating a bowl full of cold, crunchy lettuce.

Salad makes me angry.

Salad has even made me cry a few times.

In fact, the only time I DO like eating salad is when it’s topped with something warm, like taco meat. I don’t eat most salad dressings or croutons or cheese, which are all of the things that WOULD make a salad bearable.

So, what’s a girl to do when she is trying to eat one to two pounds of veggies every day? What’s a girl to do when she loves warm comfort foods? How does she go from waking up most mornings to a piping hot bowl of oatmeal to trying to figure out how to make veggies feel like breakfast?

Well, it’s taken me most of the year to answer these questions, but I’ve finally discovered the golden ticket. SOUP!

Soup makes an amazing breakfast, lunch or dinner. It can be warm and creamy to fill that need for comfort food. And when you make it with lots of veggies, it’s packed with flavor and nutrition.

Think about it this way. It’s perfectly normal to throw a bunch of fruits and vegetables in a blender with liquid and eat a smoothie for breakfast. Soup is basically the same concept, but it’s hot. We can just call it a hot smoothie if that makes it more appealing.

The last few months, I got my soup making down to a science, so I thought I would share my formula. I usually make several soups a week and store them in the freezer in mason jars. This makes it super easy to grab one when I’m headed to work or any place food will be served (since I usually have to bring my own food).

Another crazy thing that has happened to me in the past year is that I get “cravings” for foods I’ve never eaten before. Recently, I knew without a doubt that I MUST have some beet soup ASAP even though I wasn’t even sure if beet soup was a real thing. I’ve loaded my cart at various times with lots of little-known fruits and veggies: jack fruit, jicama, delicata squash, plantains, parsnips and white yams, to name a few.

This week, the same thing happened, but this time with Celeriac (also known as celery root).

I have not ever in my life eaten celery root, and yet it seemed to be calling to me from the produce section. Celery root is delicious, by the way. It has the tang of celery, but the crisp, starchy consistency of a potato.

So, I will share my soup making formula, using celery root soup as an example. This method applies to any “cream” soup since those are my favorite and feel most like breakfast to me.

Step 1: I always start with one 32 ounce container of chicken stock. I buy mine at Costco because it’s gluten free and has the best ingredients of any I’ve found. Pour this in your electric pressure cooker.

Step 2: Add veggies. In this case, I sautéed in olive oil:

  • several cloves of garlic and
  • two leeks

I added those to the pressure cooker, along with:

  • two celery roots, peeled and sliced
  • two parsnips, peeled and sliced
  • one green apple, peeled and sliced
  • 1 tsp sea salt, plus any other herbs or spices that would work well with the veggies you’ve chosen

 

Step 3: Cook for 18 minutes. My pressure cooker has a “soup” setting, so I press this button and then adjust the time to 18 minutes. Why 18 minutes and not 15 or 20?  I have no idea. I just made up the time. But trust me. It works.

Allow the steam to naturally release.

Step 4: Put the cooked veggie mixture in the blender. Puree until smooth.

Step 5: Return everything to the pressure cooker. Stir in one cup of full fat coconut milk.

That’s it!

I’ve done this in tons of different variations.

As I mentioned earlier, I recently made a beet soup using the formula above, meaning 32 ounces of chicken stock at the beginning and one cup of coconut milk at the end. The creamy red soup was amazing. The veggies I used were:

  • 3 beets, peeled and sliced
  • 1/4 head of red cabbage, sliced
  • 1 sweet potato, peeled and sliced
  • 2 carrots, peeled and sliced
  • 1 onion, peeled and sliced

The vibrant color of the beet soup inspired me to make a purple soup. This one used the same formula, but the veggies were:

  • 1/2 head of red cabbage
  • 1 sweet potato, peeled and sliced
  • 2 carrots
  • 1 onion
  • 1 large clove of garlic
  • about 1 inch section of ginger root, peeled and sliced
  • salt

Another one of my favorites is carrot pumpkin soup. Again, it’s the same formula, but the veggies are:

  • six carrots
  • one 15 once can of pumpkin puree
  • 1 inch slice of ginger root
  • salt

I’ve also done this with two heads of broccoli, which is amazing.

And I’ve just randomly thrown in a selection of whatever veggies I have on hand. You really can’t go wrong! Add a sweet potato if you want the soup to be sweet. Add cauliflower to make it more creamy.

 

Oh… so I should give you the verdict on the celery root soup. I feel like the parsnips overwhelmed the celery root in this batch. I think I’ll try again next time with carrots instead of parsnips or maybe a sweet potato. I really love any type of cream soup, so I enjoyed it. But just a warning that the parsnips have a very strong flavor!

**

I would love to hear from you. Do you love soup? Do you like salad? Could you eat soup for breakfast?

 

 

 

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Living with Celiac Disease: What it’s like

Living with Celiac Disease: What it’s like

I spent most of my morning waiting.

It was our first day back into a routine after 17 days of Christmas break, and I had a long mental list of things I needed to do. But I couldn’t move.

I couldn’t get out of bed to tell my older kids good-bye as they rushed off to school. Thankfully, the youngest had a sore throat so I could call the school and them know she was sick without getting up myself.

I knew all I could do was wait.

My lower back was in extreme pain. My head was throbbing. My brain was foggy. And I was overcome by such a weight of exhaustion that I couldn’t think about standing up.

I laid there wrestling my range of emotions. Anger. Frustration. Worry. Anger again.

This is what my life looks like the morning after I’ve been exposed to gluten. I’m not talking about eating a piece of bread or enjoying pizza or cheating with a cookie. I’m talking about accidentally ingesting a tiny, imperceptible, invisible trace of gluten.

I decided to write about it because: 1.) I think most of the time my life looks like all I do is dance from one creative endeavor to the next without a care in the world, 2.) I’m not going to post this on Facebook, which means about three people will ever read it, 3.) I just need to let it out.

The gluten hit my system surprisingly fast. I’ve only had a few incidents like this one during the past year. But it’s scary to me how much harder it hits me each time.

I was talking to a friend at a party when my head started feeling like it was going to explode. My stomach was starting to feel uneasy. And I suddenly felt very hot. My friend told me that my face was red.

It took me a minute to process what was going on. Even as careful as I am about asking questions and making sure food will be safe for me, could I still have gotten some gluten?

The illness was coming over me like a wave now, and I knew I had to get home before it hit my stomach and intestines. I knew what was coming. I knew I needed to be in my own home to handle this. And I knew once it hit, there was no way I would be able to drive home.

The first few hours are definitely the worst as my body goes into overdrive to try to eliminate everything in my system as quickly as possible. If you’ve ever had food poisoning, that’s the best comparison.

The thing that makes it worse is the feeling I’m going to explode. My digestive tract is burning hot from the acid reflux in my throat to the burning in my stomach to the flame in my intestines.

A few hours later, the intense pain in my lower back set in. That pain took me back to the first month when I discovered I had Celiac Disease. I lived with that pain on a constant basis. I couldn’t believe it was back. It feels like I should at least have had the joy of eating a piece of pizza first if I was going to be in THAT much pain!

Once all of the physical symptoms subsided, that’s when I started dealing with all of the mental and emotional junk.

  • How will I live like this for the rest of my life?
  • How can I live in a society that is covered in gluten?
  • What will happen when I’m older and I have an attack like this one?
  • How long will it take for me to return to normal?
  • Should I tell anyone about this? I’m pretty sure everyone is tired of hearing about it so I should just endure it in isolation.
  • What kind of mother am I that I can’t even get out of bed on my kids’ first day back at school?
  • How much damage did this do to my system?

I have worked so hard to stick to my super strict diet the past year. I know that my intestines have been healing because I can eat more foods. I’ve even been exercising the past few weeks, which is a huge improvement. I’ve struggled so much with anemia the past few months that it had been hard to even go for a walk. Lately, I’ve been running on my treadmill. What will happen now?

I know that when my body encounters gluten, my immune system goes into overdrive, attacking my small intestine. I wonder how much damage it will do before the gluten is removed. How long will it take for those antibodies to settle down again?

Sometimes I wish I could have a “normal” disease. One that people could understand. One that I could take a pill for or get some kind of treatment. Maybe even one that is curable. I realize that’s just weird to want to trade in this disease for another one. Most of my thoughts are irrational at this point.

Finally, my system has been cleared out after a very painful 16 hours or so. I’m ready to carefully try to find something to eat to start to restore my energy.

I vow not to let this happen again. I try to convince myself it’s not my fault. Then, I tell myself how stupid I am that I took such a risk. Eating food at a party. Geez! How could you do such a thing?

I’m ready to re-enter the world as if this never happened.

I’m ready to start filling in this week’s to-do list.

I’m ready to do something other than wait.

 

 

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Sharing my story at Autoimmune Wellness

Sharing my story at Autoimmune Wellness

A few months ago, I was contacted by Autoimmune Wellness to share my story as part of their series called, “Stories of Recovery.” The web site has been a huge source of help to me since I began my autoimmune journey more than a year ago. I faithfully read their blog, use their resources and have listened to every episode of their podcast.

By the time the deadline rolled around a few weeks ago to submit my story, I was feeling less than adequate to write a “Story of Recovery.” The autoimmune journey can be a roller coaster, and I’ve been at a low point the past month or so. I’ve been struggling with some recurring issues, and even trying to sort through some new symptoms.

The editor of the blog encouraged me to write my story anyway, so here it is. It’s my hope, as always, that perhaps by sharing my journey I might be able to help someone going through something similar.

If you are new to my blog, here are some links to the back story on my journey with autoimmune disease:

The mystery of Celiac

When the news is difficult to hear

Part One: A new view of food

Part Two: The start of my journey

Part Three: Malnourished in America

Part Four: Solving the gluten free puzzle

Part Five: The Isolation of autoimmune disease

Part Six: From Whole 30 to Paleo AIP

Part Seven: What do we eat?

Part Eight: A year later

My journey: From “impressive” to “beyond awesome”

Listen to my story on the Energy Edge podcast

 

Thank you for stopping by! I would love to know you were here. Please leave me a comment to say, “Hello”!

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