the number one trap to going
gluten-free or fat-free or sugar-free!

Posted by on Jun 2, 2014 in Anti-Inflammatory Ideas, Cooking at Home, Gluten Free, Healthier Choices, Holistic Pain Relief, Wellness | 0 comments

Have you decided to clean up your food choices hoping it will give you some pain relief in a more holistic way? If you have, you may fall into this typical, unhealthy trap!

First you decide to start eating gluten free. You think to yourself, “Well shoot, that’s easy—there are so many GF products on the grocery store shelves today.” Don’t you just have to switch bread for GF bread, pretzels for GF pretzels, pancakes for GF pancakes, cookies for GF cookies?

Won’t a few simple substitutions help your pain levels and improve your health? At the risk of disappointing you, the short answer is NO. The longer answer is not necessarily or it depends on your body.

All processed food products (whether GF or not) have many ingredients within them. You know I’m right if you’ve ever looked at an ingredient list, and realized that you can’t pronounce at least half of the ingredients. Why is that?

Gluten-Free Cereal

When one key ingredient (like wheat, saturated fat or refined sugar) is removed, the food’s manufacturer typically uses a variety of other ingredients to approximate taste, texture, or another characteristic. These ingredients can be harmless for many of us, but may also wreck just as much havoc in our body as the original offender.

Eliminating wheat and gluten from my diet gave me a HUGE boost in holistic pain relief of my inflammatory autoimmune arthritis. And about a month later, I had an amazing and disabling quantity of vertigo attacks. At the time, I attributed the vertigo to gluten withdrawal although I had experienced many vertigo attacks in years prior. About a year into my new gluten-free lifestyle, the vertigo started again and ramped up into some additional horrific symptoms. It turns out they were all connected to migraine activity.

It turns out that one of my main migraine triggers is MSG (monosodium glutamate), which hides in many ingredient lists with a lot of different names. On top of that, MSG is derived from “natural” ingredients so it’s even in the healthier  (but still processed) food choices.

But what does all this have to do with the many kinds of food additives? As a holistic health coach, it’s not easy for me to admit that I was regularly consuming some gluten-free foods with had a lot of additives. And I also was making assumptions that food I thought was “whole” wouldn’t have harmful ingredients—I had gotten lazy about checking ingredient lists!

Here’s an example: Head into the dairy section of your nearest supermarket and look at cottage cheese ingredient lists. Shouldn’t they have just a few ingredients – milk, cream, etc.? (Or as I like to joke—cottage and cheese, right?) The organic, hormone and antibiotic-free cottage cheese brands have just as many additives as the conventional brands. If you see eight brands on the shelf, you may find only one with the “old-fashioned” ingredient list. By that I mean less than seven ingredients that only include items your great-grandmother would recognize. Whether you eat dairy or not is a whole separate topic, but if you do then choose the type that has the “old-fashioned” ingredient list!

More importantly, look for ways to incorporate foods WITHOUT ingredient lists and labels. These are the truly whole foods in our lives—food that IS a plant (not food made in plants). These are things like vegetables and fruit, especially those currently in at the peak of their growing season. They are also minimally processed whole grains like quinoa and brown rice. Sustainably produced animal protein is a whole food—if you choose to eat meat.

Anything from a box, especially if it has health claims printed on the front, is suspect. Even though the label says natural and organic, you may find that food additives in that box are NOT helping you stay well.

Please be your own advocate and learn to read the labels. Choose whole foods if you’re going gluten-free, fat-free, sugar-free—that’s the real secret to staying pain-free and healthy!

 

Do you just wish you could find a set of realistic, holistic tools you can put in practice that will minimize your pain and maximize your energy? Download my free PDF report to learn 17 EASY WAYS TO START MINIMIZING PAIN TODAY!

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what’s an elimination diet really like?

Posted by on May 8, 2014 in Anti-Inflammatory Ideas, Ask the Coach, Cooking at Home, Gluten Free, Holistic Pain Relief | 0 comments

Broiled Salmon

Gluten Free and Migraine Friendly

As you’ve heard me say before, I went gluten-free a few years ago to help holistically manage my chronic arthritis pain. It was a big decision, and a big adjustment at the time. We re-vamped a lot of the things we do in the kitchen, and also changed the way we eat out.

But that was a tiny change compared to the migraine trigger elimination diet I’ve followed since March 1st—almost 70 days. An elimination diet is recommended many times by health coaches, nutritionists and even physicians. There are lots of different types of elimination diets, and just as many reasons why someone might embark on one.

In my case, a physician recommended the changes because I was having severe, chronic atypical migraine activity. Severe meaning it was massively impacting my quality of life and ability to work, play and simply function. Chronic meaning the migraine activity had lasted at this extreme level for several months prior the physician appointment. Atypical meaning there was very little headache activity involved but many other symptoms that health care practitioners and patients often don’t associate with migraine. More on my story is here.

The elimination diet that was recommended to me means that I have had to eliminate around 50 foods from my diet. It means that no foods (and even some personal care products) can be purchased without reading their ingredient list. It also means that eating out is practically impossible.

On the UP side, the elimination diet almost completely reversed my migraine activity within about 30 days. Some symptoms were eliminated in the first week!

But how do you take the dietary recommendations from paper to practice?

Gluten Free and Migraine Friendly

Gluten Free and Migraine Friendly

STEP ONE: Get a bound blank book to use as food log or diary. Since I am specifically trying to connect foods with migraine symptoms, I wanted to have something I could flip around in to see those connections. The same thing would apply if you want to connect pain-related symptoms to food.

STEP TWO: Make copies of the list of do’s and don’ts. One is attached to my refrigerator. The other is inside my food log/diary book. I’m working on making one virtual or “in the cloud” to access from my smart phone (helpful while shopping).

STEP THREE: On the list of do’s and don’ts, highlight those foods you use most in your food and cooking choices. For us, it was things like avocados, nuts, onions, and soy sauce!

STEP FOUR: Start reading labels in the kitchen to see what was “safe.” For example, the list said tuna was okay. But the list of ingredients on our tuna cans had vegetable broth in them, which is often “code” for MSG. So now when we shop, we look for brands of tuna without added broth in them.

STEP FIVE: Begin researching possible substitutions for your favorite foods on the “don’t” list. For example, switching shallots for onions. While it’s not the same exact taste, it works. And we’re also serving sauces on the side to accommodate my needs and all the other diners. With some regular experimenting and brainstorming, Cris and I have been able to enjoy a lot of fantastic “whole food” dinners together—all gluten-free and migraine-friendly.

Gluten Free and Migraine Friendly Broiled Salmon

Gluten Free and Migraine Friendly

The time I’ve spent in this elimination diet “phase” is a time when I have to give a LOT of thought to every bite. In our world of convenience foods and overscheduled lives, this isn’t easy. But trust me, living with pain or illness is harder than making extremely conscious food choices. For me it’s all about my mindset. I can either focus on the 50 foods I can’t have, or recognize the 1000 other options I do have. I also try to stay focused on the results that these changes have made in my health and my life. And like many challenges, elimination diets aren’t designed to last forever. So I often say to myself: “this too shall pass.”

Hopefully in just a few weeks, I’ll be able to start testing each trigger food and creating my own personal “trigger list.” Once I have that list (which may take a few months to solidify), I hope to be adding some of these eliminated foods back into my diet.

 

Do you just wish you could find a set of realistic, holistic tools you can put in practice that will minimize your pain and maximize your energy? Download my free PDF report to learn 17 EASY WAYS TO START MINIMIZING PAIN TODAY!

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nine things to know about gluten free dining out

Posted by on Jun 13, 2013 in Anti-Inflammatory Ideas, Ask the Coach, Gluten Free, Healthier Choices, Wellness | 0 comments

Seared Ahi with Pomegranate Gluten FreeIn the last month or two, I’ve traveled out of town a few times. Being a gluten-free traveler adds a level of challenge beyond just making healthier choices. Plus, I’ve had a few conversations recently with friends and clients about these challenges as well. I hope these ideas about how to eat out safely when you’re gluten free will help you!

  1. Commit to making choices that are GF during your trip. It isn’t always easy to put your pain relief first but it will make a big difference in how you feel long-term. Believe me, I know it can make every choice more complicated. You’ll walk away from more food than you’ll eat. But staying as pain free as possible is even more important when you are out of your home environment.
  2. Don’t wait until you’re starving to start thinking about where to eat. Keep some GF snacks in your purse or backpack to be sure you are calm and centered when making a food-related decision. (Or maybe I’m the only one whose stress and hunger levels run parallel!)
  3. Use research to choose your restaurants. Start online before you go out—or look on your smart phone while you’re on the go. Many restaurants post GF information and menus on their web sites. One user-generated review site I particularly like is www.urbanspoon.com. Look for their “GF Friendly” feature, which helps narrow down your options especially if you like to support locally owned restaurants.
  4. Once you reach the restaurant (or if you can’t research online), ask for GF menus at the hostess stand. Take a minute to review the choices and be sure it suits you before you sit down and commit to that spot.
  5. It’s best to let your server know right away about your special diet needs. Asking questions and getting help is key to making the experience the best for everyone involved—especially you. It’s better to ask questions up front than to have to send something back or get gluten in your system. That is what the kitchen wants too!
  6. Salmon and Goat Cheese Gluten FreePick one or possibly two menu items that seem to be essentially gluten free, and ask your server to verify with the chef. Be familiar with typical gluten-containing ingredients to ask about in sauces and marinade—like soy sauce or Worcestershire sauce. Many restaurants are quite familiar with which ingredients contain wheat and gluten. I’ve even had some kitchen staff bring out their questionable ingredients so I could help them answer my own question! This is a customer service world, and you’d be surprised how interested in providing great service people are.
  7. Be familiar with possible sources of cross-contamination sources. For example, you may ask if the French fries are breaded or battered. Even if they aren’t, they may be fried in the same oil as other items that are breaded. So you need to be sure to ask both questions—are they GF and are they prepared in a GF fryer (or other environment)?
  8. Sometimes I use the “pick my battles” strategy of GF ordering. If I’ve asked a ton of questions about the entrée, I will just ask for oil and vinegar in the bottle instead of ALSO asking about which dressings are GF.
  9. When in doubt ask for a completely plain protein. But be sure to specify “dry,” with absolutely no seasoning at all. This is hard for chefs to do because they want to make food they feel is tasty—but it is critical to your health so please insist. You can also ask for plain steamed vegetables—again ask for no seasonings and a lemon slice or two on the side. Lemon can add a nice flavor to chicken, fish, vegetables and since you add it yourself you know it is gluten free.

Let me know what questions you have in the comments section, and I’ll try to help as much as I can. Enjoy the experiences!

Do you just wish you could find a set of realistic, holistic tools you can put in practice that will minimize your pain and maximize your energy? Download my free PDF report to learn 17 EASY WAYS TO START MINIMIZING PAIN TODAY!

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