I can honestly say this is the best week of my life.
I’ve dedicated the last 8 months to Pretty Little Celiac and Bexa Body Fitness and all of those accomplishments were showcased this week. First with the Columbus Business First Forty under 40 award and now with the COVER of The Buckeye Journal.
Is this real life?
This magazine circulates to thousands of central Ohio residents who will read about celiac disease and hopefully this will bring awareness and education to all that take the time to read it! My vision for the article is that everyone who picks up a copy will understand the struggles we go through and maybe even could help someone get diagnosed. There are people I will reach and I won’t even know it but that’s okay because I know in my heart I helped. If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, or maybe you just stopped by today – you should know I’m a type-A, overachiever who loves helping other people. It makes my day when I get emails, messages, comments and more letting me know how much our stories are alike or that I helped you through a difficult time. You have no idea how much it personally affects me!
I have the most amazing things planned for Pretty Little Celiac until the end of 2013. I know we are ending celiac awareness month but it’s my goal to make every month dedicated to celiac awareness. My projects are going to help so many people, that I just can’t wait to get them done and share them with the world. I hope you can sense my excitement for this blog because I think I might jump out of my chair.
Thanks for reading – Stay tuned for what’s to come!
This is my first celiac awareness month as a blogger and I’ve got to say this is an exciting month for me. I’m extremely busy, have a ton of projects going and am just loving being part of the gluten-free and celiac community.
I am thrilled to have some amazing products in my shop for you to show your #PLCpride! Did you already order something and love it? Make sure you post it on Facebook and Twitter to show your celiac pride.
I like to think of awareness merchandise as conversation starters! This is the perfect opportunity to educate and spread awareness when you wear the green.
So, what do I have my store? Limited quantities of headbands and lots of bracelets.
Shipping is FREE over $15 and there is a flat rate to Canada.
I’m randomly selecting people who purchase things this month to get a bonus gift with their package – will it be you?
It’s funny how time flies and things can change in just a year. Last year around this time, I found myself really starting to struggle with celiac disease. I opened my new business a week after my diagnosis and didn’t really have time to process it or deal with the emotions that come along with a life changing event. I ate the same things over and over because they didn’t upset my stomach and I didn’t have time to find new things to try. The the business started to slow and I didn’t have to spend as much time up there. I’ll admit the slowing of the business probably contributed to my summer depression, just as much as celiac disease.
When I moved into my boyfriend (now husband’s) home 7 years ago, I couldn’t wait to start planting flowers. Ever year I wanted to try a new plant, dig up a new section of our yard and have a beautiful place to call our home. It started with roses. I built this huge rose garden in our yard. At one point, I think I had 17 rose bushes throughout our yard. They were gorgeous… until the beetles came. I did everything I could to try to contain them from eating my flowers but there were too many of them. I found myself outside each night trying to save my precious flowers from these creatures. I tried everything but eventually the beetles won.
I kept only a few roses that I thought I could save but ended up moving on to different plants with better tolerance.
Turns out I made the right decision. I have gorgeous hydrangeas in my backyard that keep growing bigger and better with each year. They love where they are and despite my neglect last summer, they are coming back this year!
My grandmother loved her roses and she had a few in our backyard growing up. I loved them. The very first plant I bought for our backyard was a peace rose and the last rose in my garden is the same rose-bush. Last year was the first year I didn’t tend to it and I’m not sure if it’s going to come back this year. Which makes me sad but also makes me think about our bodies and the cycles of life.
While I was outside pulling weeds, trimming my lavender and cleaning up our flower beds. I looked down at my hand for some reason when I pulled some grass growing under my flowers and noticed my celiac awareness bracelet is also green just like the foliage around me. Spring brings out all the new growth on flowers and trees and of course it got me thinking!
Green is the perfect color for celiac awareness. I’m not sure who thought of it, but it actually is the perfect and symbolic color for our bodies. Isn’t our body just one big perennial garden? Think about it….
Each year our bodies change depending on how well we are nurtured. Gluten are those little beetles that kept coming back to destroy a little bit of my body year after year. It wasn’t until I realized what was causing my perennial garden harm, made adjustments that all the other flowers started to blossom. Once I removed gluten, my mental health improved, my hair and nails are stronger and thicker, my stomach is healing and a million other improvements have been made.
Last year I struggled tremendously with depression throughout the summer. I remember laying on the couch and looking at the beautiful sun shining wondering why I just couldn’t get up and tend to my garden. Looking back, I realize I was actually talking about myself.
I’m excited to finally feel better and breathe the fresh spring air again. I’m thrilled to feel the joy of tending to my flowers and taking care of my home. It’s taken me a long time to get here. A celiac diagnosis or even having to go gluten-free is a major life change. I can’t emphasize this enough that it’s a marathon, not a sprint. You won’t figure it out right away but that’s okay. Sometimes trial and error makes the learning more painful but quicker. I can tell you after a gluten poisoning attack, I’m quick to learn that lesson for the future!
Think of your body as a perennial garden. It needs watered, pruned, fertilized, fed and sun to make the perfect condition for beautiful growth. The same is true for the human body. The more time you spend now taking care of your body, the easier it will be as we get older.
If you have celiac disease or think you have celiac disease, you can’t help but go through denial at some point in this journey. For me, it was both before I was diagnosed when I had a million different health issues and then about 6 months post diagnosis when it really hit me what this meant.
In a quick internet search on denial, of course Wikipedia was the top search result but it also was the thing that hit home the most – specifically the term abnegation:
Denial, in ordinary English usage, is asserting that a statement or allegation is not true. The same word, and also abnegation, is used for a psychologicaldefense mechanism postulated by Sigmund Freud, in which a person is faced with a fact that is too uncomfortable to accept and rejects it instead, insisting that it is not true despite what may be overwhelming evidence.
Turns out, it wasn’t denial after all. It was abnegation.
I’ve never heard of this term before but man does it hit the nail on the head. Let me explain…
You see there was always a suspicion in the back of my mind that I might have celiac after a coworker was diagnosed who was having the exact same symptoms as me. I didn’t want to have celiac and I didn’t believe that was the case. I said things to myself like “it’s such a rare disease” or “but I don’t get sick when I eat bread.” She repeatedly would tell me I should go and get tested but I never did. I didn’t want to.
There I was going from doctor to doctor trying to find an answer. Trying to figure out what was wrong with me. Continuing to hear from my friends and family that I was a “hypochondriac” or “always had something wrong with me.” The answer was right in front of me for years, yet I didn’t want to believe it.
The first few months after diagnosis were a struggle. I ate the same foods every day because I knew they were safe but I was so busy opening my business that it worked out well that way for a few months. But after the shock of diagnosis ended and my business calmed down a little, the denial and abnegation reared its ugly head again.
It really hit home for me that I would never eat the foods I loved ever again.
That I could never eat a delicious piece of sourdough bread at my favorite restaurant.
That I wouldn’t be able to grab a bite to eat just anywhere anymore.
That I couldn’t enjoy foods with friends the way it used to be.
That eating fruit and cheese at weddings was my new reality.
That celiac was my new reality.
I was sad, angry, anxious, depressed and in denial.
Maybe I didn’t have this life long disease. It was a wrong diagnosis. I should find another doctor and get a second opinion. maybe I could have gluten a little bit, every once in a while. Maybe I could just do what I’ve always been doing and hope for the best in the long run.
Yup, all of these thoughts ran through my mind. I was sad for about 2 months. I’m lying – I was depressed. July and August of 2012 were just awful for me. I started blogging September 1st and after starting to find all of you online, that’s when I realized I wasn’t alone and my life wasn’t over. I could turn this into something positive and wonderful.
I want you to know it is totally ok to go through these emotions and have these feelings. A few weeks or months is ok, if you are finding it lasting longer than this, it is ok to seek professional help to get over the celiac sadness. <– This is a real thing. It never really goes away.
Celiac Sadness: The temporary feeling of sadness when you encounter any of these scenarios:
You get glutened.
You realize at a social event there is nothing for you to eat.
You make an awesome recipe only to find out it’s disgusting and you spent $75 on ingredients.
You get upset when you see someone make fun or mock gluten-free anything.
You go to dinner with a friend and they constantly make comments about how you order, what you are eating or how delicious their own meal tastes.
You hit your third grocery store to get all the brands of gluten-free foods you enjoy.
You are on a road trip looking for a Wendy’s or Outback Steakhouse but settle for almonds and a bag of kettle chips at the gas station.
You get angry when another dumb ass celebrity says they are going “gluten-free to be more healthy.”
You realize how many years you spent sick because our medical doctors aren’t properly educated on celiac disease.
You finally come to terms with yourself that this is your life now, you can never go back and you will be okay.
It’s hard for me to imagine 1 year ago this week I was sitting at Dr. Aukerman’s seminar thinking to myself, “maybe I do have a problem with gluten.”
After 20+ years of having issues, could this finally be the answer I was looking for that would solve all my bowel problems? Would this doctor really be able to finally solve the mystery? As a matter of fact, he did but only because I persisted in looking for answers.
I started Pretty Little Celiac a little over 4 months ago and I couldn’t honestly believe how fast it picked up in the gluten-free/celiac community. I’ve met hundreds of people struggling with the same exact symptoms but are unable to find their “Dr. Aukerman.” I get question after question from readers wanting to know how I finally was able to figure it all out and who helped me get there.
Let me give you my suggestions on how to go about this journey based on my own experience.
1. Don’t ever let someone tell you nothing is wrong if you believe otherwise. One of the most frustrating appointments I’ve had to date was with an allergist trying to find something wrong. There had to be something making me sick in my food so I went to get allergy tested. 100 back pricks later with NO results. Nothing! Not one thing came up as a problem during my test results. That doctor recommended I go to see a GI doctor but also told me that they really wouldn’t be able to figure out intolerances unless I went on a complete food restriction diet and then added foods in slowly. Well, I’d already been to several gastrointestinal doctors and just figured it was a wash.
2. Referrals – And when I say referrals I mean from friends and family that have had simliar problems and went to a doctor who they trust and finally helped them out. Doctors can refer to other doctors but do those doctors listen to their patients? Do those doctors actually take the time to spend with you so you know what is wrong? Do those doctors know about the bedside manner of their colleagues? All of these things are important. I knew my friend went to Dr. Aukerman and trusted him with her care. She also felt incredible since her diagnosis so of course I was going to check him out.
3. Google Searches – Make sure you look for several different terms when you are searching and you include a 50 mile radius for your search. Gluten intolerance doctor, celiac specialist, celiac gastrointestinal are some terms I would start with when researching online. Often these doctors have been reviewed online as well by other patients so that even cuts down on some stress of finding a new doctor.
4. Check with local gluten free or celiac support groups as to what doctors they like seeing and have helped them. Other people suffering from the same problems is the perfect way to start!
5. See if your local University has a celiac center or doctor specializing in the disease at the school. Specialists are often found at large medical centers like Universities because they can get money for research so they stick with places that will pay for those types of things.
**Do NOT take gluten out of your diet if you are going to be tested for celiac disease or gluten intolerance**
You need to keep everything the same prior to seeing any doctor so the tests can be done. If you start changing things prior to testing, it can seriously affect the ability to find out what is actually wrong.
How did you find your doctor? Leave a comment with a tip so others can get the help they need!
The restaurant was dark and decorated in red and black colors throughout. It would be a great place for an intimate dinner with a significant other. I would not recommend for families or people with children.
This sushi restaurant was a bit on the pricey end but completely worth every dollar spent!
Imagine my comfort level when our waitress explained she also struggles with a gluten intolerance and was well aware of how to prepare the foods and when to check on items to make sure I was safe.
She answered all my questions about the menu and made me feel extremely safe about eating there. When I had questions she didn’t know the answer, she immediately went back to the kitchen to ask the chef to ensure I was staying gluten free!
I decided to try the most expensive roll in the place – it had gold flakes on it! Kobe beef, king crab and yellow fin were some of the meats in this roll. It tasted like magic. I loved it and every single thing about it was phenomenal. I hadn’t spent a lot of money so far on food during the trip so I decided to take a splurge.
We also had roasted mini potatoes that were seasoned so perfectly and roasted to the greatest crispiness ever that we were all fighting over them at the table.
Everyone at the table enjoyed different sushi rolls that were each equally delicious in their own way. (or so I was informed by the non-celiacs)
If you are in Las Vegas looking for a unique, delicious dinner and aren’t worried about the price tag – I would highly recommend Social House for dinner.
I’ve written about Maggiano’s in the past but wanted to give it another try to see if they are consistent among the chains with gluten free menus and education of their staff.
Sure enough, the waiter was very familiar with gluten free options and provided me with a description about what could and couldn’t be made gluten free. I settled with the pasta dish I always get and it was delicious.
I do struggle with their Caesar salads though. Not sure if it’s the lactose in the dressing or preparation of the salad but I stopped getting them there. –
It was nice to not spend over $25 on a meal for once during this trip.
This chain really does gluten free right!
Border Grill – Mandalay Bay
Our last night in Las Vegas, we decided to take a stroll over to Mandalay Bay and have dinner at Border Grill. This place was highly recommended on the gluten free sites and showed on their website to have a dedicated gluten free menu, so needless to say I was pumped to check it out.
The hostess was not very friendly. I gotta say that I am a stickler for happy, positive employees because they are the face of your business and crucial to customer satisfaction.
I was pleased to see such a large gluten free menu until I opened it and realized 2 of the pages were filled with alcohol choices.
We decided to try the Queso Fundido, which they brought out with corn tortillas and the chips are gluten free there. The dip was pretty tasty for sure but it didn’t knock my socks off.
Our waiter was aware of celiac disease and gluten free preparations so that made me feel at ease too during our time there.
I ordered a shrimp and rice which came out on a plate filled with rice and then a strip of shrimp down the middle. The rice was in a pool of liquids making it a bit soggy. I have to say that I can’t stand wet rice so I just ate the rice off the top and picked at the shrimp. The dish was disappointing and I didn’t leave there feeling like I had an amazing gluten free dish coming from somewhere that specifically has a gluten free menu. The cost of my 10 small shrimp and rice was also $28 which I found to be completely out of line for the quality of the dish.
Now, had that dish come out and completely wowed me, I wouldn’t blink at spending $28 on vacation in Las Vegas for dinner. It just didn’t do it for me so I can tell you I won’t likely go back on my trip to Las Vegas next year.
I would recommend Border Grill because they are educated and understand gluten free meals but I’m not sure it would be my first pick for someone. It’s the safe choice.
Prior to being diagnosed with celiac disease, this is probably one of my favorite restaurants in Las Vegas. It always provided delicious Italian dishes with a decent price tag and a great atmosphere. I love eating outside the restaurant (but in the mall) on the cobble stone street being able to people watch while enjoying a delicious meal and glass of wine.
We decided to stop there and have an early lunch one day while out shopping around. They do not have a dedicated gluten free menu but they were able to give me several options on the menu that could be prepared gluten free. While the waiter wasn’t as confident about gluten free items, he was able to go back into the kitchen and talk with the chef about choices for me, which made me feel pretty good about eating there.
I decided on a filet and mashed potatoes. It’s probably one of the safest dishes we can eat at a restaurant without getting glutened. The steak was cooked perfectly and the mashed potatoes were delicious. I wouldn’t expect anything less from Trevi.
While they don’t have a dedicated gluten free menu, I feel comfortable in saying that folks who can’t have gluten but are able to explain and ask questions about their meal would be able to safely have dinner there without any problems.
Again make sure you are writing reviews on www.findmeglutenfree.com so we can continue to create a data base of awesome restaurants in every city!
Cooper’s Hawk opened at Easton Town Center in Columbus on Monday this week. Imagine my excitement when I saw they offered a gluten-free menu and my first thought was “I have to try it immediately.”
So by Wednesday, I was eating there for the first time. Check out the size of this gluten-free menu….
They even have 5 gluten-free desert options!
I told our waitress about my gluten allergy and she made sure the kitchen knew I was there. They brought out the pretzel bread for my dinner date and a gluten-free bun for me to try.
We started with an appetizer of shrimp wrapped in bacon – delicious. The shrimp were large and I easily got 2-3 bites out of them.
Dinner was the pepper jack, bacon cheeseburger – the bun was a little much for me since I already had one when we first got there so I ended up eating the burger naked. There were several sides I could select from and I ended up with Mary’s mashed potatoes.
I got a gluten-free brownie to take home and shared it with my husband. It was simply delicious. Light, fluffy and moist!
The manager even came out after my meal to make sure everything was ok and I enjoyed my meal. He explained the gluten-free process and that they are very sensitive to cross contamination and pride themselves on making safe gluten-free experiences for their guests.
After this tasty meal, I decided to bring my family last night to try something new on the menu. They’ve already been to all the places around us to eat so it was a great change for them to try something new.
Last night’s meal blew the lid off of any other gluten-free meal I’ve had at other places. Wildfire Chicago is a close second to this dish.
I decided to try something totally new and went with the short rib risotto and it was best decision I’ve ever made. The meat was tender, moist and fell apart with my fork into the risotto. The sauce was incredible and the truffle oil on top with parmesan shavings tied everything together perfectly.
We ended the meal with some chocolate covered strawberries. They were ok, not the best but then again it’s hard to compete with Godiva strawberries. I just didn’t think they were ripe enough before being covered in the chocolate.
I do have one comment about the restaurant – we had reservations at 7:30pm. While we didn’t wait longer than 5 minutes for our table, imagine our confusion when they were quoting people a 2-3 hour wait for a table and then there were at least 10-15 empty tables in the dining room when we were seated. Maybe it was lack of staff, but it was strange in my book.
While we were in Chicago for the Celiac Awareness Tour, we decided to stay an extra night and spend some time in the city. After a little research on a few different apps and websites – both Yelp and FindMeGlutenFree recommended Wildfire for dinner.
I’m notorious for making reservations before we go anywhere because I am so impatient and hate waiting in a crowded little area for a table. So I frequently use Opentable.com to secure a seat before leaving the house. The only times available were 5:15pm or 9:30pm. We decided on 5pm because we hadn’t really eaten lunch due to being at the convention.
When we got there, I asked for the gluten free menu. Everyone was very accommodating – Check out this gluten free menu!!
Are you kidding me? Was I dreaming? I hit the gluten free Chicago jack pot. Since we were there and they had this great menu – we were definitely going to try some stuff.
One of the things I miss is being able to order an appetizer occasionally. All of them are usually fried but I really enjoy having a snack before my meal comes.
We decided to try the baked goat cheese. OMG – it came with gluten free pita chips that were to die for.
After looking at the menu – we both decided on a nice juicy cheeseburger on a gluten free bun. How often do I get this? Never so I certainly was going to go for it! Aaron even decided on a gluten free burger with me! They were delicious. The bun tasted great. The burger was delicious with no gluten filled fillers – cooked to perfection!
Then we shared sides of a sweet potato and a twice baked potato. Totally fantastic as well. Enough for 3 people each!
The entire time we were dining – our waitress continued to come back and make sure everything was ok. If I had a question about something, she checked with the chef or the manager and came back to tell me what she found out. I’ve never felt so safe dining out! There needs to be way more gluten free menu restaurants like Wildfire!!
During the meal I enjoyed some wine and they even brought out a gluten free (hot and fresh) bun to eat while Aaron had his regular bread!
I give Wildfire Chicago – 2 HUGE gluten free thumbs up and highly recommend it for someone gluten free looking to eat a delicious meal in Chicago!!
I posted on Facebook yesterday what foods people missed most from their gluten free lifestyle. The purpose of this post was to see what types of food I could play around with or find as a great substitution for what everyone was missing.
54 People commented on my post and the comments as I read through them disturbed me. I completely understand that we miss bread, pretzels, beer etc but some of the things that people wanted to have so desperately are part of the problem in society.
I recently spoke to an Ohio State University group called CHAARG -Changing Health, Attitudes, and Actions to Recreate Girls – They came to Bexa Body Fitness for a group fitness sampler and a little seminar on healthy eating in college. I spoke to them a lot about food options and ways to make better choices when eating on campus.
I can’t emphasize to people enough at my fitness studio:
If the ingredients look like they should be on a shampoo bottle you probably shouldn’t be consuming them.
There is nothing FRESH about Subway – Their lettuce is out of a bag and their meat is as processed as you can get. The sandwich is entirely bread and why do you always smell when you leave there?
I’ve never met anyone in my life that told me they were addicted to carrots, sweet potatoes or steak. I do however on a daily basis meet people that can’t give up artificial sweetener, diet coke, candy, sugary coffee drinks etc. What does that tell you about those foods and how they are reacting in your body? Your brain is addicted to these substances and no one seems to think this is a problem.
The list of foods people missed goes something like this: Pizza, biscuits, donuts, pie crust, pizza, flour tortillas, bread, pizza, twizzlers, crackers, hot dogs, Subway, Arby’s, pizza, McDonald’s, funnel cake, Ciabatta bread and so on….
ON TOP OF THIS – I see an incredible amount of children and teenagers also addicted to these foods.
I believe that when people think of food addictions, they think of the television shows on TLC about people being cut out of houses or Extreme Makeover Weight Loss edition. But, we are all addicted to food in some capacity. Some people are able to handle it better than others but very few people recognize the problem/trend in our society.
Our society pushes low fat, low sugar, no fat, no sugar, low cholesterol and anything else with “low” or “no” in the front of it.
Do you know how those things get to be that way? They pump the foods filled with chemicals and fillers so they taste great and food us into believing they are healthy or good for us. They aren’t. Our brains are so fooled and duped into thinking all food should taste this way that eating a nice whole meal of protein, potatoes and veggies is like eating cardboard.
All of us that can’t eat these other foods and desperately long for them are proving my point. We are just replacing these junky gluten filled foods with junky gluten free foods. While it is fine once in a while, it is not ok all the time. Moderation is key but when options are so limited, I’m finding it much easier to go overboard on gluten free foods.
I’m absolutely not saying that I don’t fall into this trap. There are certain things I know I miss desperately and would love to have again. There are foods filled with gluten and gluten free that I know I can’t keep in our house because I won’t be able to keep my hands off them.
But I understand now how all this affects my brain chemistry. I realize how screwed up our society is to see that eating “I can’t believe it’s not butter” is better than eating regular butter. Do the research. Butter won’t kill you but I’m pretty sure whatever the hell is in that fake butter will.
We are the fortunate ones. We can’t eat that crap or we get sick. We are the ones that have the opportunity to heal our bodies and wean ourselves from the stuff we once knew.
If you get anything from this post, it might just be the 3 bullet points I posted above and you might just think of a shampoo bottle next time you check out ingredients!
But I challenge you to think about these things the next time you are longing for a brownie or piece of pizza.