July 19, 2015

Gluten Rumspringa a.k.a. I'm doing the Gluten Challenge

This selfie to my bestie about questionable
 lipstick doubles as the perfect, "I dunno
about this news either" pic.
This post is going to come as a total shock, so brace yourselves. I never thought I'd say this, but I'm on the gluten. I'm eating gluten like it's my job, because right now it actually is. I don't post much on here anymore (sorry?), but for the past year or so, I haven't been feelin' super duper. I feel like am being slightly glutened on a daily basis despite following a strict gluten free diet. Sure, there'd be chunks of time when I'd feel ok and get in my swing of normalcy, only to break down again and be a big blob of yuck. All the fun intestinal poop stuff and exhausted. So tired, I'd come home from work at 6pm and go to bed. I'd be tossing and turning throughout the night and then "wake up" exhausted in the morning. Achy, breaky, and 100% falling apart. Bummer, right?

I talked to my GFF about it and oddly enough she was going through the exact same thing! She was seeing a doctor at Rush who specializes in celiac disease. I figured that I should maybe see him too. I made an appointment, which I had to wait a few months for, and hoped he could help me sort out whatever's going on in my guts.

When I had my first appointment with my new gastroenterologist and his intern, they were very thorough. I told them what was going on, that I've been gluten free for a little over 15 years and follow a strict gluten free diet. They thought it could possibly be non-responsive celiac disease, but without the results of my original diagnosis they couldn't know for sure. They requested my medical records from the '90s, when I was going through all of my initial testing for my gut stuff, and told me they'd be in touch.

A few weeks ago my doctor called to tell me that he received all my test results; including one dating back to 1993 when I was hospitalized for a totalllllly different issue that was basically an episode of Mystery Diagnosis and every test in the world was performed...including an endoscopy. Turned out scopes I had in '93, '97, and November '99 were normal. My villi were not damaged. My blood test that diagnosed me in January 2000 was, according to him, "soft".  I never knew the numbers, I was told the test came back positive for celiac and to follow a gluten free diet...so I did. I was so sick I would have done whatever they told me to do. 

After going over those old records, he said that he does not have a diagnosis for me. He strongly suggested I be re-tested for celiac to rule it out before we move forward. I immediately got that knot in my stomach and was almost crying to him that I didn't think I could do that. He prescribed a gluten diet for six weeks (four if I turned out to be dying in pain) and would have his nurse call to schedule my scopes. I sat on this for a few days. I sent out emails to a few close friends with a "omg, what do I do?" panic message. I called my mom. I had that knot in my stomach for days and got all panicky when thinking about it. Then the nurse called that at the end of the week to schedule my tests. She was going over everything and asked if I was eating gluten. I told her "not exactly...", to which she replied, "oh honey! You gotta be eating gluten!" I told her I was scared and she talked me down, telling me I didn't need to eat a lot of gluten, but I had to be eating it every day. "Fine," I thought, "I can do this."

I went to Target after work and bought a box of Golden Grahams. They were my favorite cereal when I was a kid, and I figured I'd start with that. I had a bowl of that delicious nostalgia and prepared myself for misery. Nothing happened. The following day, I visited my parents and we ordered pizza from one of my favorite childhood pizza places, chock full of gluten. Again, nothing. For the first couple of days I was eating gluten only at night since I feared getting sick at work. (You're welcome, co-workers!) I slowly waded further into the gluten pool, eating a croissant for lunch and a couple cookies throughout the day. I felt fine. That Sunday, I really lived it up. Eating gluten for every meal. I was fine. WHAT. THE. HECK?! Have the past 15 years been a lie?!

In the three and a half weeks that I've been gluten rumspringing (my genius boss came up with the glorious term), I've been waiting for the bottom to drop out. To be doubled over in pain, crying on the toilet in the middle of the night. No such thing has happened. I've had pizza, bagels, croissants, cookies, cake, burgers, fried chicken, and pasta. Not much going on in the gut department. (Minus the other night when I drank a bottle of wine and had one slice of pizza....that was a mistake.) If anything I no longer have the issues I originally went to the doctor with. Although the past couple of days I've been feeling like I'm having trouble swallowing. Acid reflux, maybe? There is no burning sensation, just feels like a post-nasal drip that won't go away. I've also been having a little anxiety. A bit of a nervous feeling like I'm about to go on a job interview 24/7. I've never had a good night of sleep in my life, so I'm still not sleeping great.  A few nights, I've felt bloated at the end of the day. I'm already chunky, but I feel HUGE at the end of the day. When I wake up, I feel deflated, which I'm sure is attributed to gluten.

Olive Garden Tour of Italy - couldn't finish it, but not missing much, celiacs.

Ann Sather's Cinnamon Rolls are amaze, but Julia's were still by far my fav.

Honey Butter Fried Chicken. You put the butter on the bird. Nuff said.

Granted, I'm not eating the healthiest gluten by all means. If I have to eat gluten, I want to catch up on all I missed over the years. I'm still trying to be semi-healthy, but I did do the Tour of Italy at Olive Garden with zero regrets. (Well, maybe one,  should have just had a bowl of breadsticks.) I had a cinnamon roll from Ann Sather's. I got to put my honey butter on the fried chicken today at Honey Butter Fried Chicken. I ate a slice of deep dish Pequod's for the first time ever last week. I had a real gluteny donut from Do-Rite (and wowowowowow! I thought the gluten free was the best thing ever. Sorry friends, but their regular donuts are like eating heaven.) It's funny grocery shopping or eating out, because now I have too many options and I'm not quite sure of what I'm doing. (I had no idea how Potbelly's sandwiches worked. Still like the salads better though.) I'm still eating my veggies, but I will have to do a nice cleanse after my gluten challenge. I have a feeling I'll be like Homer Simpson in that muumuu if I continued eating like this after the challenge.

I have my tests in the middle of August. I'll be sure to write a follow up post when I get the results. Part of me wants to ask for your well wishes and good vibes, but I honestly don't know how I feel. Eating a Do-Rite donut at work that one day, I prayed I never have to go back so I could have that amazing donut again. But I feel like a total traitor, and I know gluten will probably catch up with me soon. Ultimately I'm just hoping whatever is wrong with me is not serious. We'll see!

April 22, 2015

Hello again! (Plus the 2015 Chicago Gluten Free Expo is Coming!!)

Oh hello there! Did you miss me? I haven't blogged in the longest time. So many things have happened since I posted my last update. I got a new job that is the best! I discovered the best gluten free bread in the world. And not one, not two, but THREE of my favorite gluten free bloggers gave birth to the cutest babies ever.

While there have been times I've been itching to whip up a quick post, I just can't find the time to do so. Maybe I should stick to Facebook updates or Twitter? I'd probably be better at microblogging these day.

I couldn't let this year go by without keeping you informed about the annual Gluten Free and Allergen Free Expo though. Once again, the expo will be held at the Schaumburg Convention Center in lovely Schaumburg, IL. Here's all the details:

Chicago Gluten Free and Allergen Free Expo

Saturday May 2nd and Sunday May 3rd
10am - 4pm


Schaumburg Convention Center
1551 Thoreau Drive North
Schaumburg, IL 60173
(free parking!)

Purchase tickets in advance online or at the door.

The big draw to the expo is all of the amazing vendors with their samples galore. I'm tellin' ya, I might just camp out at the Kiki's Gluten Free booth.  And I hope to God the little wooden sauna boxes are there again, because I'm soooooo tempted to leave Sunday afternoon with one. (I've kinda been saving up all year for one)

Don't forget to pop into one of the many classes in the Euphoria Room. Speakers include gluten free experts like Kim Koeller from Gluten Free Passport, Carol Kicinski from Simply Gluten free, and Vanessa Maltin Weisbrod from Delight Gluten Free magazine.

Besides all the goodies you'll taste at the expo, everyone who buys their ticket online leaves with a one year subscription to Delight Gluten Free magazine. Woo hoo!!

November 22, 2014

Give the Gift of Beauty with Red Apple Lipstick!

There are just a couple days left of Red Apple Lipstick's HUGE Christmas Collection 2014 sale! Everything is 5% off and if you are on their mailing list, you'll have another coupon for an additional 10% off! (psst...use Celiac in the City's super duper code, CITC, you'll get 22% off instead of 10%!)

The new collection is gorgeous!! There are six new lipsticks, two minty glosses, and five eye-shadows. Last week I was checking out the annual Christmas Look Book and loving everything. I couldn't decide which colors to pick, they looked great on all of their models. Click on the book below to flip through and see the colors in action!

Much to my surprise, Jay and Andrea from Red Apple Lipstick sent me the ENTIRE collection to review and share with you! I didn't get this until just this week because it was sent to my old work address. (Oh, did I tell you I got a new job?! More on that in a future post!) Jay and Andrea are sweet and generous they are with their bloggers. They truly are amazing!

Naturally I had to try on everything. Some of the colors I loved but didn't think would work with my coloring actually look great! Hollype├▒o really popped! Oh Schnapp! glimmered on my eyes. I'm really looking forward to all of the holiday parties and events so I can get all dolled up with these new colors. 

Just like the all the other Red Apple lipsticks, they are paraben free and gluten free and go on smoothly and stay on long. 

If you love Red Apple Lipstick makeup as much as I do, you have to take advantage of this sale! This is the very last sale of 2014. If you order by 10pm on November 24th, you'll get your order in time for Christmas. The busy Red Apple team will be taking two weeks off to spend the holidays with their friends and family, so you have to shop soon!

Have you started your Christmas shopping yet? Planning on buying beauty products for yourself or others?

October 14, 2014

Gluten Free Week at Wildfire Returns!

The 5th Annual Gluten Free Week at Wildfire Restaurants returns this November 3rd through the 7th. This annual event is a delicious way to support the University of Chicago Celiac Center, as a portion of the proceeds from all ticket sales is donated to the Celiac Center.

Throughout the week of November 3rd, each Illinois Wildfire location will be hosting a five-course Gluten Free Dinner with optional cider and wine pairings.  The menu includes Mini Crab Cakes, Classic Bacon Wrapped Horseradish Crusted Filet Mignon served with truffle macaroni & cheese, Door County Cherry Hand Pie with vanilla ice cream, and more.

Resident gluten free expert, Ruth Hayden, will be on hand to share her insight into our extensive gluten free menu and training. The evening begins at 6:30 p.m. with passed appetizers, followed by the seated dinner at 7:00 p.m. and is priced at $60.00 without wine pairings and $80.00 with wine pairings, plus tax (gratuity not included).

The schedule of dinners is as follows:

Reservations are required. Please contact the restaurant you'd like to attend for reservations.

September 10, 2014

Tips from Coach Terra Castro!

Tips from Coach Terra Castro
As I mentioned several times before, I had the best coach throughout my training process. Terra Castro offered me tons of great advice to help me get back into my fitness game. I picked Terra's brain to get some health and fitness tips I thought might help my readers.

Gluten Free Betsy: What advice do you have for someone who is just getting back into fitness, has a lot of weight to lose, or has trouble with joint pain, etc.?

Terra Castro: Set a realistic GOAL; define what motivates and inspires you. POST THAT GOAL and make an inspiration board that has key words, cool pictures, etc. that you can put somewhere you will see daily to remind you of what you are working for.  BREAK THE GOAL INTO SMALL PIECES - FOCUS ON PROCESS not end result and you will get there. Tackle one day at a time.

GFB:  I know we chatted about this in my sessions, but what foods do you recommend for pre and post workout fuel? (gluten free, of course)  

TC: An hour before a workout I love peanut butter on a gluten free bagel. I'll have Clif Shot BLOKS if it's right before a workout. Post workout, a LUNA protein bar or smoothie with protein in it.

GFB:  What tips or advice to you have for staying active in the fall/winter when all we want to do is stay in and hit up our Netflix queue?

TC: Join a gym with fun classes, group up with friends and hit up a Zumba class or spin class.  Get out of your comfort zone and have fun!  It will help erase the weary snow blues.

GFB:  You told me you don't do gluten, dairy, and a bunch of other allergens, do you want to share your story?  

TC: I found out I was allergic to gluten, dairy, eggs, etc. when I was away at ITU Triathlon World Championship 2000 in Perth Australia. I was getting really sick on that trip from the hotel food and had a poor race. Something wasn't right in my gut.  I went to get blood work and the doctor found my allergies. Six weeks after eliminating those foods, I was back to feeling rested, strong and focused. The allergens affect my fatigue levels and cause extreme bloating and weight gain.  My immune system had to rebuild, but I am grateful to have found out early in my career what was going on. It is common in endurance racing due to the stress we put on our gut/body.

GFB:  What are some good ways to stay motivated?  

TC: GOALS!  Have accountability partners or hire a coach to help you lay out a plan. Sign up for a race so it gets you out the door to run when you don't feel up to it.

GFB:  What fitness tools are essential in your life? (This could be anything from a website, heart rate monitor, shoe, app, etc.)  

TC: I use trainingpeaks.com to coach my athletes or Google docs, my Garmin Forerunner 220 in purple for my training, Saucony Kinvara 5 and Saucony A6.

Such great advice, eh? The advantage of setting a fitness goal is that is seriously works. If I didn't commit to the race she helped me train for, I wouldn't have done the work that got me in slightly better shape. I still have a long way to go, so it looks like I need to set another goal. To keep these legs runnin', I decided to get totally Chicago and sign up for the 2014 Ditka Dash. Let's do this!

Have a question for Terra that I didn't ask? Hit her up on Twitter @terracastro 

Have you set a fall fitness goal? Share it below and let's motivate each other!