My Intriguing Journey to Becoming Gluten-Free

Due to a series of unfortunate (and drawn out) events, I found out a while back that I have Celiac’s Disease. For those of you that are unfamiliar, this means I can’t eat anything that contains or has come into contact with any wheat, barley, or rye, collectively known as “gluten”. Yes, that means no beer. Yes, it also means I’ve been cast away from my favorite and most delicious friend, pizza (although I’ve found some decent gluten-free substitutes for both).

Photo by Peter Bravo de los Rios on Unsplash

You all might wonder where this leads me? To the gluten-free isle of the health food section at Hy-Vee, tears just rolling down my face, with nothing but vegetables in my shopping cart. “Is this how I die? From starvation?”, I think to myself. It’s really too bad that none of this came with a manual.

So, how’d this all begin?

About two years ago, I began having terrible migraines. I had loads of testing done with no real answers. I was put on medication that had terrible side effects and didn’t help me much. After lots of medication changes I was finally able to feel like a human again- most of the time. I started to develop this really weird rash after meals occasionally and then began to develop stomach pain and cramping, tachycardia (fast hart rate), trouble sleeping, and severe fatigue. I spent about a year’s time very uncomfortable and more than confused. I finally began keeping a food journal, had quit drinking alcohol, and was eating close to a completely plant based diet just trying to be the least miserable I could be. 

Even with the food journal, I wasn’t able to draw clear lines between what might have been causing my problems. It was my boyfriend who finally suggested gluten as the culprit. “You’re ridiculous”, I teased. As time went on, though, it began to make sense. I stopped eating gluten and the headaches, rashes, and all the other symptoms resolved. I called my doctor with all of this information and the nurse said “just avoid gluten then, you should be fine”. I said, “shouldn’t I have some kind of testing to verify? Shouldn’t I have it on my record, officially?” “no” she said, “you should be fine”. As I spoke with my boyfriend’s sister who is a dietician, I found out that if it did need to be verified, I’d have to re-introduce gluten into my diet and then eat it for SIX WEEKS. No thanks. I called the doctor’s office back and made an appointment to have my blood drawn and see the doctor. He said he believed clinically I had some intolerance but the blood work would prove if I had an allergy. 

I received news of my allergy shortly after and we discussed a few options of where to find some educational materials. For me, this was a fairly new disease that I knew little about. I didn’t know anyone with this dietary restriction at this point and I surely didn’t know all of the sneaky places gluten could hide. Unfortunately, I went through months of avoiding most foods (and eating out) for fear of feeling ill. 

Luckily, I’ve learned a whole lot in a little time and am back to being able to eat the right things without too much fear and without generally having to suffer any consequences from it. If you or anyone you know has a gluten allergy or intolerance and you ever have questions or would like to talk, please don’t hesitate to speak with me!

Does anyone out there have any dietary restrictions that they have or have chosen for themselves? It seems that our lives and entertainment kind of revolve around food (at least in the U.S.). How have these dietary restrictions affected your lives?

Thanks for reading! Hope you’re having a great week!

Xoxo,

Katie

Make Your Perfect Positive Space a Reality!

Whether your space is for meditation, reading or writing, or just for taking a few quiet moments away from the world, creating a relaxing space for yourself should be fun, personal, and most importantly– stress free!

Photo by Plush Design Studio on Unsplash

First, pick an environment that meets whatever your needs are, whatever those may be. I knew when creating my space that I do a lot of reading and writing and that I love the outdoors, so I was able to find a spot in my home with a good amount of counter space, a lot of natural light and a big window overlooking a beautiful spot in the yard. Based on these needs, I also decided to design this space a little like an office would be, with books, writing and coloring utensils, and a big comfortable chair to sit in, with a pillow and blanket to curl up with.

The most difficult step of creating your positive space is to declutter and keep this space as clean as possible. Simplifying and minimizing clutter and distractions will allow you to be your most peaceful and productive in this space you’re creating.

Photo by Samuel Austin on Unsplash

Although free of clutter, you can place a few objects in the area that are important to you and what you’re trying to achieve. In my space, I have a calendar for important events and scheduled blog postings, a scented candle that gets intermittently changed out, some crystals, and a couple small gifts from my loved ones.

Before I read or write, I light my candle and it reminds me that it’s a special time to relax and unwind. Being surrounded by the personal pieces that I’ve chosen and the things from my loved ones makes my heart feel very full and at peace when I’m in my retreat.

Photo by Alexandra Fuller on Unsplash

Don’t have a bunch of spare space or counter area to create your own refuge? No problem. You can take your favorites of these simple ideas and apply them to any area you want and love in your home. 

Do you have any area in your home that you love or spend a large amount of your time in? If you do, what else occupies that area? Are there any special objects or decorations that make that area what it is? I spend much of my time in my make- shift study with my candle lit, reading, writing, or studying. If I’m not there, you can usually find me reading or snuggling my puppies on the couch!

I hope you are thriving through this week and headed toward and amazing weekend!

Xoxo,

Katie

Gluten Free (GF) Snacks That Will Change Your Diet!

Whether you’re intolerant, have an allergy, or are just trying to be your most healthy self, cutting gluten out of your diet may feel very overwhelming when you first begin your journey. I know I was certainly overwhelmed when I was first diagnosed with my allergy. I would arrive to the grocery story, gluten scanning app open and ready, scanning things I thought might be appropriate. I would be constantly disappointed and confused when things would say “may contain gluten” or “contains gluten”. I thought I’d never be able to be normal again. I went through a several month-long phase of eating mostly vegetables because I just wasn’t figuring out what was suitable to my new lifestyle needs. I hope no one else has to endure this kind of confusion or defeat, and to try to ensure that they don’t, I’ve compiled some of my very favorite gluten free snacks!

– Quest protein cookies. Not all flavors are gluten free, however it’s labeled on the wrappers. My go-to flavors are the peanut butter, oatmeal raisin, and chocolate chip.

– Olly protein bars. All of these are vegan friendly and gluten free!

– Rice cakes and peanut butter! I love to add some chocolate chips or raisins as well when I am craving something sweet. 

– Homemade trail mixes. I love to add all kinds of mixed nuts to this (my favorites are cashews, walnuts, almonds, and plain sunflower seeds but you can add anything you like! Be sure that they are regular nuts, nothing added so that there isn’t any hidden gluten). I also love to add raisins, various dried fruits (be sure these are labeled GF as well), chocolate chips, and sometimes even some GF granola! Kind makes an awesome assortment of GF granola.

– Pickles wrapped in GF deli meat. This is one of my personal favorites! It’s definitely one that has to be eaten in moderation, though as it’s very high in sodium. My favorite GF deli meat is Boar’s Head.

– Cucumbers, your choice of cheese, (add pickles if you’d like), and GF deli meat. Another amazingly delicious one that should be consumed in moderation.

– Fruit salad. Pick 5 of your favorite fruits, slice them up in a big bowl at the beginning of your week and you’ll have snacks for days!

– Most corn chips are GF and you can enjoy them with salsa and queso! Always a classic.

– Sabra hummus and vegetables! You can use any veggies you like but my favorites to use are carrots, cucumbers, and celery.

– Popchip potato chips. These are GF and addicting! I have a tough time eating just a few.

– Popcorn! If you’re looking for an extra crunch you can add in some regular M&Ms or peanuts.

– Apples or bananas and peanut butter or almond butter.

– Vanilla Greek yogurt with the GF granola and fruit of your choice.

– Gluten free pretzels.

I hope this short list helps to guide you to make fun and healthy gluten free choices and gives hope to those of you who have been struggling starting off your GF journey. Anyone have any gluten free favorites they’d love to share? I am always on the lookout! 🙂 

XOXO,

Katie 

Tea me, please!

If any of you are like me, you might use drinking tea as a sort of ritual. My relationship with tea is filled with lots of time well spent and love! Whenever I begin drinking it, I feel my mind and body begin to calm, and my thoughts head to happier places. As you can imagine, for this reason I find myself drinking teas quite often. I’m also always looking for the next most delicious kind! I’d like to share with you some of my favorites.

Bigelow Tea: https://www.bigelowtea.com/Teas/Tea-Type/Herbal-Tea

Lavender and Chamomile Tea: “Sleep”

This caffeine free tea comes in K-cups or regular tea bags. I discovered this tea in the health food section at my local Hy-Vee! Its absolutely delicious, and it puts me right to sleep. It’s such a nice and relaxing way to unwind before bedtime.

Lemon and Echinacea Tea: “Stay well”

This tea is a caffeine free delicious herbal citrus blend that I love to kick start my morning with. It also comes in K-cup or tea bag form on their website, but is one that I found in the health food section at my local Hy-Vee.

Celestial Seasonings: http://www.celestialseasonings.com/products

India Spice Chai:

This flavor is a black caffeinated tea with delicious spicing. In my opinion, this flavor is perfect for the colder months and holidays! It can be sweetened with honey or milk. This product is available in bags as well as K- cups.

Sleepytime Tea:

This decaffeinated tea is not only delicious but it knocks me right out! I bought it in a pack of K-cups and I curl up with a warm cup of this tea and a book and I hardly get the whole cup down before my eyelids are closing!

Twinnings Tea:

https://www.twiningsusa.com/our-products/form/k-cup-pods

Pure Peppermint:

This caffeine free peppermint blend is so delicious and calming! It also always seems to soothe my stomach anytime it’s upset, probably due to the peppermint. This is one of my favorite teas! I own this tea in the K-cup form as well but it does come as tea bags.

Chamomile, Honey & Vanilla

This tea blend is very smooth and soothing. It’s caffeine free and I’ve found myself to drink all times of the day, although in the evening and at night are my favorite. I have only ever found this tea as tea bags.

Another really fun thing I recently did was to look up “tea samplers” on http://amazon.com, find one that I thought looked really interesting and then order it! You only get about 3 of each tea generally so it’s a great way to see what you might love, or definitely never want to try again! Haha! Here are a few to get you started:

https://www.amazon.com/Twinings-Bags-Sampler-Assortment-Variety/dp/B075F9Y19M/ref=sr_1_6_s_it?s=grocery&ie=UTF8&qid=1548978067&sr=1-6&keywords=tea+sampler

https://www.amazon.com/Bigelow-Tea-Caffeine-Free-Individual-Sweetened/dp/B00GEG40KA/ref=sr_1_11_s_it?s=grocery&ie=UTF8&qid=1548978067&sr=1-11&keywords=tea%2Bsampler&th=1

https://www.amazon.com/Sampler-Assortment-Individual-Luxurious-Gift/dp/B019NMC81Y/ref=sr_1_28_s_it?s=grocery&ie=UTF8&qid=1548978067&sr=1-28&keywords=tea+sampler

Please look at all of the ingredients in each tea and take into consideration any dietary restrictions/allergies you may have before buying or consuming any of these products! Thank you.

Happiest of tea hunting! I hope you find the most delicious cup of tea in the world. Please let me know where your searches lead you or what your favorite teas are!

xoxo

Katie