Gluten Free Me (Part II)

Posted: 1 day ago in Health Lifestyle

gluten-free-me-p2Gluten is not my friend. 

I am grateful that I don’t have Celiac disease, but I do have a wicked intolerance for the stuff. What does that look like? Well to start, if you haven’t already read Part 1 of ‘Gluten Free Me’, please do.

When I eat gluten, I feel like I have a big ball of dough in my belly – which, I guess is true. I feel poofy and gassy, topped off with a dose of sluggishness and dopiness.

Snow White’s dwarves have nothing on me! 

Worse, since gluten is found in so many products, I end up feeling like that most of the time, and not just after eating pizza or Italian bread. A lot of people complain of feeling like I do after eating gluten, so I thought I was, ya know, ‘normal’. Then a nutritionist friend suggested I do a gluten elimination diet, and so I rose to the challenge.

Holy gluten free transformation, Batgirl! I felt like a new woman!

I committed to eliminating all sources of gluten for one full month. In addition to the obvious sources such as breads, crackers, cereals, cookies and pasta made with wheat, barley or rye — I was careful to avoid the hidden sources as well. Can you believe that there can be gluten in:

  • Deli meats
  • Sausage
  • Dressings and sauces
  • Beer. Sigh, beer
  • Flavored coffee and tea

It was tough for the first few days, but I started feeling great fairly quickly, which motivated me to keep it up. I had much more energy, less brain fog, more regular bathroom habits and a tummy that was no longer feeling like the Michelin man’s twin sister.

The kicker at the end of an elimination diet is to do a ‘challenge’ – eat some gluten and see how you feel. Well, it was like someone stuck an air hose in me with sleepy gas. The bloat and fatigue came back with a vengeance.

My take on eating gluten-free is fairly simple. Instead of focusing on what I can’t eat, I make a list of what I can eat, and find, easily.


Here’s what I had to eat for the last 2 days of living gluten free:

Day 1:

  • Nonfat Greek yogurt, blueberries, gluten-free (GF)d granola.
  • Cashews and an apple
  • Kale salad with chicken, oil and vinegar
  • Clementines
  • Peanut butter and a banana
  • Grilled fish and asparagus
  • Ice cream…oh yes you can, but only the good stuff!

Day 2:

  • Omelet with spinach, mushrooms and tomatoes
  • Almonds
  • Salad with walnuts and feta
  • GF protein bar
  • Clementines
  • GF sausage with cauliflower and potatoes
  • More ice cream

For a more comprehensive list of foods containing gluten, check out this article by WebMD.

I do try to make the best of available food choices always, but I also try to balance that with living a full life – and for me that sometimes includes an amazing loaf of Italian bread slathered in butter, a big slice of pizza from a New York City street corner, or ice cream two nights in a row (it’s summertime people!).

Life is so damn short, and I want to eat it all up, literally!

To keep that balance in check, I try to go gluten-free for a month a couple of times a year, and that really works for me. But remember, if you have Celiac disease, you MUST avoid gluten at all times.  

Best of luck, let me know how it goes!

Gluten Free Me (Part I)

Posted: 2 days ago in Health Lifestyle

gluten-free-me-p1What’s all the to-do about gluten free, anyway?

Gluten is a protein that is found primarily in wheat products, though it sneaks in to some other grains like barley and rye, and products like soy-sauce.

Soy sauce? Yup.  

A small segment of the population has an autoimmune disorder called Celiac disease. Celiacs suffer damage to the lining of the small intestine with the ingestion of gluten. Think of gluten as ‘glue’, which is how it acts on the hair-like cilia of the intestine, interfering with the absorption of food.

Though only 1 in 100 people have Celiac disease, it is theorized that many more of us have a gluten sensitivity or gluten intolerance.

What are some indications of gluten sensitivity, you say?

  • Chronic digestive issues like gas, bloating, diarrhea and constipation
  • Fatigue
  • Brain fog
  • Headaches
  • Mood swings
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Musculoskeletal pain liken to Rheumatoid Arthritis

Laboratory tests can rule out Celiac disease, but the only way to determine if you have a gluten sensitivity is via an elimination diet. I did one for grins and giggles many years ago, and was happily shocked by how much better I felt without gluten in my life – and I felt pretty damn good with gluten in my life, so that’s saying something!

Since life is short and pizza is so, so good, I don’t practice living gluten free all the time. There is a price to pay for indulging though, so I try to do a gluten-free month once or twice a year. Mainly to give my body a break, but also to hit the ‘reset’ button on my diet so I’m less inclined to eat the stuff.

So, alas it’s time for another little gluten free cleanse in my life.

Interested in doing a gluten elimination diet yourself? I’ll talk more about that later this week, and give you an idea of what I’ve been eating in lieu of bagels, pasta and bread.

Currently eating gluten-free? Let me know what your go-to meals and snacks are!

xo.

Have You Been Bitten by the Travel Bug (Part II)

Posted: 5 days ago in Lifestyle

haveyoubeenbitten-partIIOkay Goldilocks.

Earlier this week we talked about moving your bowels too little. Now we will talk about moving them too much.

Ideally, I’d like for you all to get it juuuuuust right.

Traveling to a foreign land, or even a different part of your own country can have you spending most of your time in the bathroom if you don’t play your cards right. Or perhaps, you may just be plain unlucky. Whatever the reason, nothing like explosive diarrhea to ruin a long-awaited vacation, huh?

Before you travel, investigate the water quality of where you’ll be going. More and more large hotels, even in exotic locations, have great water filtration systems. If you are going off the beaten path, however, assume that the water is unfiltered and unfit to drink. Which means, you’ll need to provide your own H2O.

Even if the water you are drinking is clean, chances are it has different microorganisms than your body is used to. What’s a girl to do?

  • Use some common sense. Stick to bottled drinks – hold the ice! – in remote locations. I shy away from produce that doesn’t have a peel or rind, even in big hotels, as kitchens may use unfiltered water to wash produce.
  • Overindulgence in rich foods and alcohol are sure to upset your tummy. I’m all about a good time on vacation, but not at the expense of spending most of it in my room. Pace yourselves, grasshoppers.
  • I’m not big on medications, but I have been known to take a preventive Pepto-bismol to coat my stomach on a remote road trip in Mexico. Montezuma did not have his revenge on me, and for this I am very grateful.

If you do end up with the runs on vacay, revert to the old BRAT diet: Bananas, Rice, Applesauce and Toast. It’s a bland-food diet that helps to settle your stomach and firm stools, while putting lost nutrients back into your body.map-passport

OTC meds can help to stop the cramping and frequency, but remember this: if there is something in you that wants OUT – best to let that happen! You’ll want to make sure you don’t get dehydrated, so keep the fluids coming.

Best of luck, my out-of-commission peeps (…and/or those on vacation with them).

Have You Been Bitten by the Travel Bug?

Posted: 8 days ago in Health Lifestyle

travel-bug-part1

I’m not talking about having travel-lust, I’m talking about those unpleasant things that you can get when traveling.

You know, like constipation or diarrhea.

How many of you can’t poop if you’re not at home? I don’t get this particular neurosis (though rest assured I have plenty of my own!), but some of my friends will go as long as a week without pooping while on vacation.

Whaaaaat? That’s crazy, isn’t it?

Don’t let the travel bug happen to you! Nothing can ruin a vacation like a belly full of poop. You’ll be bloated, cranky, and I swear, constipation makes you have funky breath. I mean, your mouth and your butt are two ends of the same tube, right???

If that’s not enough to scare you into having a good sit-down, hemorrhoids often come after a good bout of constipation because of all the backed up pressure and straining when you finally do go.

So please, just go.


Here’s how to make it happen.

  • If you have new toilet anxiety, you’re just going to have to get over it, or deal with the lovely scenarios I’ve outlined above.
  • If pooping in front of your roommates is the issue – and I get that – check out the lobby toilets. That’s my modus operandi whilst traveling. If you see someone sauntering into your hotel’s lobby loo in her PJ’s with the latest issue of People magazine, that’s probably me.
  • Vacation food can stop you up, so make sure you watch your diet. Keep up with plenty of fruits and veggies. Drink lots of water. And if you just can’t help eating pasta and French bread three times a day, take a mild fiber supplement to keep the old pipes moving.
  • We tend to get the urge to have bowel movements at the same time each day. Traveling to different time zones can definitely throw you off, so when the urge does strike, do listen!
  • Sitting on airplanes, in cars and tour buses slows down everything. Make sure you work some exercise into your trip.

psIf all else fails, grab a bag of prunes to munch on. They work as well as any OTC laxative without the cramping.

Good luck! I hope this piece ‘moves’ ya!

FALLing Apart

Posted: 12 days ago in Everything Else Lifestyle

falling-apart

I hope everyone enjoyed their Labor Day this past week.

I had a mini-freak out this morning when I realized that since Labor Day has now passed, my favorite summer breakfast – fresh berries, yogurt and granola – wouldn’t be possible for much longer.

Attempting to eat only seasonally fresh produce means you have to change what you eat a few times a year. But I love my summer breakfast! And I love summer! And long days! And since I’m not relocating to Southern California anytime soon, I will attempt to transition into fall gracefully.

Here are some things that I look forward to in the upcoming, chilly season:

  • Sleep: Follow the sun, people, and embrace your circadian rhythms. More dark = more sleep.
  • Comfort food: I will miss my fresh berries, but I also love my cool-weather, go-to breakfast: steel cut oats with apples, walnuts, cinnamon and a bit of agave nectar. So warm and hearty on those cool mornings. If you throw it in the crockpot at night, you will wake up to the most delicious smell.
  • Hot yoga: You know I love me some yoga, but the idea of hot yoga on a hot summer day does not make me happy. But on a bone-chilling, fall or winter day? It’s blissful.
  • Fireplaces: There’s nothing like reading or snuggling in front of a fire.
  • Skiing: I get a little wiggy if I don’t get outside enough, and not much can beat being on top of a mountain on a crisp day.
  • New boots!: Shallow, I know, but come on….

If you can’t beat it, you may as well join it, right? Enjoy your last bits of summer in the upcoming weeks!486975527

A Rude Wake-up Call (Turned Silver Lining)

Posted: 13 days ago in Everything Else Lifestyle

rudewakeup

This post is being awkwardly written, as my left hand has been in a cast, and then a splint for the last eight weeks.  

Eight. Long. Weeks.

Flash back to an amazing summer morning on the water. The paddleboard yoga class I was taking was nearing its end, and I decided to get fancy and do a “behind the head” bind. It’s tough enough to do on land, but I’d worked on it for the better part of a year and felt pretty confident about it. That is, until I lost my balance, rolled off my board, and damn near tore my thumb off. One semi-emergent surgery later, and my exercise regime came grinding to a halt. Hence my rude wake-up call.

————————————- Oh, shit. ——————————————

Exercise keeps me feeling and looking healthy, but much more importantly, it keeps me from being a raving bitch/lunatic. So I knew I had to get on top of things, and quickly.


Yoga and weightlifting, my two go-to activities of choice, were an obvious NO.

Running didn’t work either, as the cast made me majorly lop-sided, and once I was splinted, the fear of catching or bumping my  thumb made me cringe.

I walked a lot, and took the opportunity to get back in the pool, awkward though it was.


Still, I felt a bit like a caged lion.179275702

And then, I exhaled. Maybe, just maybe, the universe gave me exactly what I needed. A little more time and space to stop and smell the roses. Our oldest just left for college, and the ‘baby’ is now a junior in high school. We had some pretty magical moments this summer, many of which probably wouldn’t have happened if Mama was at the gym all morning.

So though I’m still pissed that I’m not firing on all cylinders, and likely won’t be for a few more months, I can see that I am exactly where I am supposed to be. And therein lies the silver lining, my friends.

What’s not going well for you that you could find some silver lining in? Please do share!

ADHD

Posted: 14 days ago in Health Parenting

adhd

Ahhhh!!! That acronym!! 

So many kids are coming home from school with ‘that label’, aren’t they?

Recently, a concerned parent and Dr. Tania reader reached out when her son’s school said that they would be monitoring him for ADHD. She is petrified that they will suggest medicating her son, who she feels is just a normal adolescent boy, more interested in sports and girls than learning.

And truly, even the most calm and focused of us would get fidgety if made to sit still for hours and hours on end. Gone are the days of recess, hour-long lunch breaks and daily phys-ed classes. No wonder these poor kids can’t keep still.

Short of pulling a kid out of traditional school, what is a parent to do? Is the answer to medicate them into submission? I would like to think that for a majority of these kids, that it is not the answer.

Before you start shooting daggers at me, let me say that I have seen the transformation that takes place when a child with severe ADHD is medicated, and it’s pretty remarkable. That transformation, however, comes at a steep price in the form of side effects. So if there are other strategies that can help a child to cope without medication, aren’t they worth looking into?


For example, some holistic treatments for ADHD:adhd-meds

  • The elimination of certain food colorings and additives from the diet.   The Mayo clinic recommends avoiding foods with Sodium Benzoate, red dye #40, and yellow dyes #’s 5, 6 and 10. I have taught for years that you should not be eating anything with a color or number in the ingredient list!
  • The addition of Fish Oil and B Vitamins in the diet to stabilize the central nervous system while improving mood stability, mental focus, and brain function.
  • This from the University of Maryland Medical Center: diets restricting possible allergens like gluten, milk, eggs and chemical additives BHT/BHA may help improve behavior in some children with ADHD.
  • Chiropractic and craniosacral therapy can identify and minimize nervous system irritation that can lead to concentration and hyperactivity disorders.

These are just a few of the many approaches that have helped children (and adults!) to manage life with ADHD.

For more on the subject, I’d like to introduce you to Dr. Ned Hallowell, a Harvard-trained psychiatrist who specializes in ADHD. He has a wonderful way of explaining ADHD as an asset (not a disability), and teaches on how to manage the condition so that you can be, in his words, ‘fabulously successful’.

Best of luck to all you parents of shooting stars.