Gluten Free Diet Update


It has been seven months now since I have gone gluten-free in hopes of calming my colon to help get me in remission.  I figured I would update you to show just how important diet is to treating your IBD.

Back in January I weighed around 240 lbs.  I was going to the bathroom 30 times a day with a lot of cramping and having a lot of intestinal pain.  I knew I had to change my way of life.  So I decided to go on Weight Watchers and go gluten-free.  This would be a big change for me as I love my gluten :)

Here it is 7 months later.  I am happy to say, it is working beautifully.  I am down 25 lbs.  Best of all, my Crohn’s is just about in remission.  I am only going to the bathroom 3-4 times a day.  Still more than normal, but I can live with that.  My blood sugar and cholesterol have also come down but still not to acceptable levels.  Overall, I have made a real impact on my health for the better.

So what have I learned from this experience.  Well, you can definitely live a gluten-free life.  There are some hurdles every now and then but nothing that I can’t handle.  The biggest challenge so far was travelling to another country to an all-inclusive resort.  The food choices were a challenge, and I didn’t eat too much..but I was able to stick to my gluten-free diet.

Now for anyone thinking about going gluten-free but is worried about taste…don’t be.  There are a lot of tasty GF products out there.  Depending on where you live,  your selection might be different from mine but I am sure that you will find some tasty treats.  Here are some of the brands I use.

Bread – I have tried a number of GF breads and have found Udi’s Whole Grain to be my favorite.  Glutino also a good whole grain but their white bread isn’t as good.  Schar’s Deli Style bread reminds me of a Jewish Rye which makes a real good sandwich.

Cereal – I have been sticking with Chex for now as they have a number of different flavors to choose from.  Nature’s Path also makes some really good cereal’s but is a little harder to find.

Pasta – I have been sticking to Schar brand pasta but they are limited in their variety.  Tinkyada makes a good brown rice pasta also.  I recently made a lasagna with their noodles and you couldn’t tell it was gluten-free.

Snacks – This one is going to vary depending on what you are looking for in sweets.  I have been sticking to Schar’s Vanilla or Chocolate Wafers.  Glutino also makes good wafers but you get more per serving size with Schar.  For crunchy snacks, I find myself ignoring potato chips which are usually greasy and have been eating Pirate Booty.  They have a number of different flavors and styles.  I also have been eating more popcorn.  Not only is popcorn GF but it is a whole grain and has recently be found to have more antioxidants than some fruits and vegetables.  For my desert’s, I have been eating ZenSoy chocolate puddings.  They are dairy free and more delicious than Jell-O brand.

Frozen meals – Now of course home-made is healthier than frozen but sometimes you just have to do it.  I have found Amy’s brand has some really good meals.  I especially like their Spinach Lasagna.   Another pasta I like which is frozen is Caesar’s brand gnocchi.  I used to love gnocchi and this is one item I can still eat.  For pizza, I have been eating Glutino’s Pepperoni pizza.  Amy’s makes a good vegetable one that has no cheese.  My selection to frozen meals is limited as I can only find GF ones in Whole Foods.

As for meals, most natural foods are gluten-free.  Chicken, beef, vegetables, etc.  All you have to do is find some good recipes and use your imagination.   A simple meal like grilling a beef tenderloin, baked potato and some steamed broccoli is delicious, wholesome, and gluten-free.

So, my journey continues.  I am down 25 lbs with another 50 to go.  I have a long road ahead and my current medicine is making the journey a little harder but it is still a great learning experience.  I think as I come across them, I will post some recipes for anyone looking for some.  I recently found a great eggplant recipe that is GF and Dairy free.  I will post that real soon.  And if anyone has some they would like to share, let me know.

Step out of the Norm


Today I am stepping out of my norm…and I won’t really be talking about IBD.  Today, the thing on my mind is my weight loss and a revelation that I had.

I have mentioned it in some other posts and I don’t hide the fact that I am one of those overweight people with IBD.  When you hear statistics about obesity in America…I am in those statistics.  I never saw myself as obese..but my weight told a different tale.  I am 5 Foot 8 inches and before my weight loss journey I weighed around 240 lbs.  Now I knew I was overweight and had some issues because of it.  My blood sugar was high and my cholesterol was high.  My Crohn’s Disease was out of control and I was in a flare I just couldn’t control.  I knew I had to do something.

One day everything seemed to snap into place.  I was starting to get a new outlook on life with my Crohn’s so I decided to take it another step and control my weight.  I knew this wasn’t going to be easy.  I have been overweight all my life except when I first got sick with IBD.  I knew I had to get my weight down to the 160’s so I had a long road ahead of me.  The trick to this was finding what would work for me.  I have tried eating healthy before (high fiber, whole grains) but that would just anger my CD.  The things my tummy liked were white bleached products like white rice and white bread…the unhealthy stuff.  So this time around I did some research.

At the end of January of 2012, I went Gluten Free.  This was one of the best things I have done in my life for both my health and my Crohn’s.  Besides this, I also joined Weight Watchers..for the 3rd time in my life.  I swore to myself this would be the last time.

Here it is August 2012  and I have done pretty good.  So far I have lost 25 lbs and that is now where the trouble is starting.  The gluten-free diet has been trying some days but I have managed to stay on it.  The Weight Watchers is another story.  One thing they teach you and say you should do every day is track your food.  This helps in keeping tack of your daily points for the day.  Overall I have enough points right now to keep my satisfied.  But lately, I find myself on the weekend skipping the tracking.  Needless to say for the past 2 weeks I have gained some weight back.

Now one of the things they asked us is in a meeting was what keeps you motivated.  WW has this idea of anchors.  You should find something that when you look at it or touch it..it keeps you grounded and remind you why you are doing this.  I felt I never needed an anchor.  My biggest reason for losing weight was not only my bloodwork..but it was to keep my Crohn’s in check.  That is my biggest reason and my main reason to never be overweight again.  However, these past two weeks I have pushed that out of my head and ignored my body.

Last night as I travelled home, I reflected on the past couple of weeks.  I was trying to figure out why I am self sabotaging myself.  I have been doing so well with my journey.   And then it hit me.  All my life I have been overweight.  When I look in the mirror I see a slimmed down version (although still overweight) of myself and I am starting not to recognize him.  All I know is being overweight.  Since I refuse to be that anymore…what is my life going to be like?  How will I survive?  Will I be able to maintain that life?

Some of my thoughts were a little irrational but I know they are in my head so I have acknowledged them.  Whether the thoughts are rational or not, they are there and affecting me.  So I looked into my fear in the eyes.  I stared him down.  I have been sick for too long and I swore I would get better.  So here is this monster with chains in his hands telling me to come with him.  Well…not today.  You can take those chains and find someone else, because you won’t get me anymore.

I want to be healthy.  I want to be in remission.  I want to look in a mirror and say “Damn…who is that sexy guy?”  For years I have wanted to feel like a skinny person.  Well, I am going to get that chance..one day.  I know my fears will come back and haunt me probably for the rest of my life.  But I am done being overweight.  I want to live.  I want to enjoy life.  I want to be around for a long time. 

So, my journey continues.  I have hit a fork in the road and a chose a path.  So far, it is a clear path.  I remember where I am heading and I am back on the yellow bricks again.  My companions are by my side to guide me along.

My courage helped me face those dark fears.  My brains helped me see those fears for what they were.  My heart helped in clearing a path so I can step around the fears.  And my little dog was there to lick my face and show me that everything is alright and I can continue on my way home.  So I take those first steps again on the long road home.  I will get there.  It won’t be a short trip and there will be other obstacle.  And if any of those obstacles are flying monkies..I am running.

Recipe for Success


Two weeks ago at my Weight Watchers meeting we were talking about recipes.  We were encouraged to bring in a recipe to swap with everyone.  When it was my leaders turn, she gave us a recipe…but not for food.  I looked it over and thought, this isn’t just relevent to food…this is good for life.  So, I decided to share the wisdom of my leader and give you…The Recipe for Success

Ingredients:

1 Cup of Vision         1 Cup Commitment         1 Cup Discipline       1 Cup Self-Control    1 Cup Sacrifice   1 Cup Conviction              1 Cup Imagination

Directions:

In a large part of your life, add 1 cup of vision.  Make up your mind which direction to go and strive for it everyday.  Add 1 cup commitment.  Commit yourself every day to reaching your goal.    Add 1 cup discipline.  Discipline yourself to do what you must to keep the committment and hold on to the vision.  Add 1 cup of self-control.  No matter what temptation comes, remember you have a choice.  Add 1 cup of sacrifice.  Be willing to give up bad habits for good habits.  Add 1 cup conviction.

Have the courage to stand your ground knowing that you are mixing the right ingredients together in your life.  Add 1 cup of imagination.  Imagine what all this cooking will achieve in the end.  Bring all of these things to a boil.  Now pour it all into the rest of your life and you have the recipe for success.  Keep it always on simmer.

As I read this in the meeting, I was no longer thinking about food.  I know she gave this to us to help us stay on course and keep up with our weight loss.  But I saw a bigger picture.  Living with a chronic illness will do that to you.  I didn’t just see food…I saw a recipe to beat an illness.  I saw a recipe for me to get through life.

I know at times life with Crohn’s or Colitis can be hard.  Sometimes we want to just throw in the towel and say I quit.  But that is when we need this recipe.  Sometimes, we need to alter a recipe and add a little more spice to it.  There are days we might need 2 cups of self-control.  Maybe we need a gallon of vision because all we see is our blanket covering our eyes.  Whatever the day…keep this recipe close at hand.  Make it your first meal.  Make it your last.  Make a big batch of it on the weekend for the whole week.  Whatever you do…make sure to make it at least once a week.

Feeling the IBD Love


This week I was asked to do a guest post for a great website..which leads into this weeks “Follow Friday”.  Usually the advice I give can be used by everyone but I normally have adults in mind.  Well, this week I am here to talk to the youth.

So, this week I want to single out a great website that is run by The Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation of Canada or CCFC.  It is a site called The Gutsy Generation: (http://www.thegutsygeneration.ca/site/c.buLTK7OQLpK8E/b.6247843/k.C798/Connect.htm).  The post I did can be found on their blog site which is http://thegutsygeneration.blogspot.com/.

Now I am not talking about them because I did a post for them.  I am talking about them because they target a huge audience….the kids.  Looking over their website, I was reminded of  my own youth.  I was 15 when I was diagnosed with IBD and essentially that is when my childhood ended.  I remember the feelings and the pain like it was yesterday…yet it was 24 years ago.  When I was first asked to write the post, I didn’t know what to write.  I wanted to connect with the kids today that suffer, but wasn’t sure what to say.  When all my memories started to flood me I said to myself….”That is what I am going to write”.  I said from the beginning that I wanted to help people know they aren’t alone with their IBD and that was what I was going to do.  By showing the youth out there that even us adults have gone through the pain and hurt…and survived it….I can help them to know that they also will survive.

It has been 2 days since I wrote the post and I still keep thinking about those first days.  So much has changed thanks to the Crohn’s.  I was a shy kid growing up.  I didn’t have the best self-esteem and I was very unsure of myself.  I was an average student and never knew my purpose in life.  College helped me a lot to discover who I am, but my Crohn’s helped me become who I am.  I had to get courage to overcome it.  It helped me to speak up and speak my mind.  I directed me where to go in my life because as we all know, a lot of what we do, we do tailored around the disease.  When I got sick last year and then started doing research on IBD, again it moved me into a new direction.  Here I am now, toting my wisdom and trying to help others.

I grew up alone with the disease.  Back in the 80’s no one knew what IBD was.  Worst of all, there weren’t many treatments for it.  There was no internet so it was very hard to find people with the disease.  All that I learned about my disease I learned through pamphlets from The Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America.  They helped…but never really taught me about my disease.  I grew up ignorant of what I have.

Now, things are different and websites like The Gutsy Generation exist.  No one has to go at their disease alone anymore.  All they have to do is reach out.  The last paragraph of my post for TGG sums up my feelings and I will end this post with that paragraph:

“As I look back into the mirror, I can still see that 15-year-old.  The lines are growing.  The hair is changing.  But I can see him in the eyes.  I see the twinkle.  I have made it 24 years with the disease.  No matter what happens…I can live life.  The disease hasn’t beaten me…and it never will.  And that is the best advice I can give anyone….Never let it beat you…you are too strong.”

Inspiratation – Where do you find it?


Recently, I watched a video from a fellow IBDer and she was talking about seeing other people do amazing things like running races and she was at a point in her life where she couldn’t do those things because of her fight with IBD.   I wrote her a letter to help cheer her up and as I was writing it, I realized how much of an inspiration she really had been to me.   She was one of the first people I watched on YouTube when I started flaring last year.  She showed me that even though we have a chronic illness and it can affect us greatly at times….we should still live our lives.

When I wrote her, I also came to another realization.  I have never had a mentor in my life.  Whenever I had started a new job, so one ever took me under their wing.  I never really had anyone I could say that I truly looked up to.  But, she really changed my life and I always find myself looking at what she is doing and try to be a little like her or more specifically, try to be like her in helping people with IBD.  To this end, she has kind of been like a mentor to me even though she didn’t know it.

Now, she isn’t the only one that has inspired me.  There are so many people out there and if you look back over my blog, you will see who they are.  Some of them I have written about.  Others, I have included in my “Follow Friday’s”.  There are so many great people out there advocating and giving me inspiration to get on with my life.

Recently, I have been starting to flare again and I felt some depression setting in.  As usual, I started to withdraw within myself like I used to.  But then I saw that video and wrote my online friend.  I wrote her to cheer her up but it also was very therapeutic to me.  I was able to get some things off my chest.  Realizing how much of an inspiration she was in the past, helped to inspire me again.  So, I am back fighting again. 

Next week is a big part of the battle for me.  I see my GI and I will be asking him to switch my meds from Humira to LDN.  Since this isn’t a typical treatment for Crohn’s just yet, it will be a battle, but I am ready.  If I let the depression sink in, I wouldn’t be able to have the conversation with my GI and argue it effectively.   But thanks to my inspiration..I am going in guns blazing.

So, now I ask…..who are your inspiration.  I would really love to hear back from you on who inspires you.  Whether it is just to continue your fight with IBD, or someone who pushes you to blog, or helps you to get out and about with your life.  Is your inspiration a person, a group of people, or a website? 

I want to leave you with a quote I found online about inspiration:

“Inspiration is like picking up one of those blinky things in a video game that makes you invincible for a while. You can do anything, go anywhere, and you don’t have to worry about it.

Those blinky things exist in real life too. It may be a picture, or some words, or a sound, or an idea, or a mistake, or a moment. Whatever it is, pick it up and run with it. Run with it like you stole it.

You can’t bottle up inspiration. You can’t put it in a ziplock, toss it in the freezer, and fish it out later. It’s instantly perishable if you don’t eat it while it’s fresh.

Inspiration is a magical thing, a productivity multiplier, a motivator. But it won’t wait for you. Inspiration is a now thing. If it grabs you, grab it right back and put it to work.”

 

And just incase you are reading this and trying to figure out who my inspiration is…I wasn’t going to say because I don’t like to mention people’s names on here …but it is Sara from Inflamed and Untamed.