Three New Year’s Resolutions for Celiacs

By Rachel Sircy

Well, the New Year has come and it’s the time of year to make lists of resolutions for the coming 12 months. For celiac patients, we have a long list of resolutions that are often hard to keep. A couple of weeks ago, I was having a conversation with my new primary care physician about how difficult it can be to really live gluten free. It seems to me that every time I think that I’ve got the gluten free lifestyle mastered, I find something that I’ve been doing wrong, or that a company that I trusted has changed their manufacturing practices or that I’ve made a bad choice when faced with hunger and eaten something that I knew I shouldn’t.

I also told my new doctor that it’s enough to make me cry sometimes that I cannot find a physician who knows a good deal about celiac disease. Ever since the first day of my diagnosis, I have longed for someone who could guide me through this tangled minefield of gluten intolerance. My doctor suggested, of course, that I try the myriad websites dedicated to the gluten free diet. Of course, I do often consult internet sources for the latest research on celiac disease and gluten intolerance. I pointed out to my doctor that sometimes the information that you look for online can lead to conflicting answers and contradictory advice. What one person says is safe is condemned by another person. Who is right? Most of the time, I try going by my own gut and common sense and hoping for the best.

After thinking these things over, I’ve come up with some ideas that I want to follow through with in 2019. I say that I want to follow through with them because, if I’m being honest with myself and with you, I have to admit I have a real problem with follow-through. Maybe you’ve noticed that if you follow my blog posts. Oops. But, I hope this year to be better than I was both physically and mentally than last year and I think these three resolutions will help me to do that.

  1. Actually keep a food/symptom diary. (Again, I’m using the word “actually” because I’ve started about a thousand food diaries and just ended up letting them go.) My doctor told me how important this is when I was describing some of my current symptoms to him. He said that it’s impossible to find out if the new symptoms I seem to be having an issue with are truly new without a diary of what I’m eating and what I’m feeling both physically and mentally. He said that illnesses often build on one another and that he cannot get to the root of my issue without seeing the patterns behind what I’m eating, thinking and feeling.

 If you are like me, you may want to try writing everything down by hand (I’m pretty old school myself). However, if you browse in your phone’s app store, there are a ton of apps that provide a place for you to log what you’ve eaten, the medications you’ve taken and how you’ve felt throughout each day. Some of them, like Symple, can actually take the data that you put in and create a report that you can give to your doctor.

  1. Use reliable sources. My second resolution is to make sure that any information that I get on celiac disease – and especially any that I give to you – is from a reliable source. Of course, I really try to do this anyway, but I intend to be extra careful this year. I tend to trust articles from The Celiac Disease Foundation, the Mayo Clinic, The Cleveland Clinic, Harvard Health Publishing and other articles published by trusted medical clinics. I vow to try never to put anything into this blog that has not been put out there by a source that we can all trust. Suzy Q. Blogger’s opinion on the safety of a new brand of potato chip is something that I will try not to put on this website without thoroughly researching it first. My doctor also pointed out to me a website that I was previously unfamiliar with called UpToDate.com. He said that it is a website with research-based articles that can be used by patients, but that is also a favorite place that medical practitioners go for the latest information on a number of subjects, including celiac disease. So, I will probably be using information from this website as well.
  2. Share knowledge. My last resolution is to push ahead and make more information available for everyone with celiac disease everywhere in the world. Think about it. If all the celiacs across the globe decided that they were really tired of being sick and of not being taken seriously by their doctors (if that is the case for them), we could create a huge demand for more research. Wouldn’t it be great to have answers to all of our questions? Perhaps we will not have all the answers in our lifetime, but more research now ensures a better quality of life for future generations of celiacs.

So, how do we do this? Well, the place that I’m starting is with my choice of a personal care physician. My old PCP was a very nice man, but he knew next to nothing about celiac disease and he really didn’t seem very interested in learning much about it or helping me get better. I’ve already taken the first step to fix this situation and that is that I have a new doctor. I believe this doctor is a better listener and is willing to actually help me figure out how to manage my condition and get well. (Isn’t that funny? When I was a kid, the only thing that came to my mind when I thought of being well was that I was definitely not going to get out of going to school. But now, the idea of being well haunts my dreams. I long to feel better. Don’t you?)

celiacThe second step that I’ve already begun to take is joining the iCureCeliac patient registry. This is a huge database of celiac patients that is being created by the Celiac Foundation. Once you create your patient profile, you take a long, long series of questionnaires about your disease, how you were diagnosed, your desired outcomes (like do you want celiac to be cured? Would you take medicine if it would mean you could eat whatever you want?). The purpose of this database to give researchers ideas on how to direct their research. Per their website: “Sharing your personal experience living with celiac disease helps researchers better understand the diverse and complex ways this disease impacts the lives of patients like you and your loved ones.”

You can join this data base at: https://celiac.org/icureceliac/

I truly believe that if we all push together by firstly taking charge of our health by managing our diets to the best of our ability, staying on top of the latest medical research and pushing our healthcare providers and the medical research community for answers they seem to be unable to give us at present, we can change life with gluten intolerance for ourselves and for our children for the better.

Happy New Year!

Resolutions rewind

by Jeanne Reynolds

This time last year I posted that I don’t make New Year’s resolutions. Instead, I like to set a few new goals each year.

To recap those thoughts, goals focus on accomplishment rather than fixing what’s wrong. They feel positive instead of punitive. I may not achieve all my goals in any given year, but putting them in writing helps me clarify what’s important to me.

What I rarely do, though, is pull the list back out and check my progress toward those goals. Yeah, I kind of know in my head the big things I accomplished during the year. (Some of them end up in my Christmas letter, when I get around to doing one. Christmas letters: love them or hate them? Discuss among yourselves.)

Since I went “public” with my goals last year, I thought it only fair to share the results. And two things surprised me:

  1. I had forgotten most of the items on the list.
  2. I did better than I thought.

Here’s a look:

 

  • Run a half-marathon in under 2:05. Yes! I ran the Palmetto Half at Sandhills in
  • 2:03 and change. I have to confess this wasn’t exactly a stretch goal since it’s waaay slower than I used to run, but coming off some injuries it seemed reasonable.
  • Paint our bedroom and get new linens and towels. Yes! We ended up getting nearly the whole inside of the house painted a calming gray. Love. It. For those interested, I went with an all-white bed and mossy green towels in the master bath.
  • Obtain and complete at least 3 freelance writing jobs. Didn’t take even the first step toward this, except in my mind. Realistically, this won’t happen until I can cut back my hours on my “real” job. Maybe this year.
  • Lower my golf handicap to 14. Surprisingly, yes! I had some good rounds in the summer and fall, bringing it down to 13 something. Of course with our recent weather I’ll be back where I started, but at least I know it’s possible.
  • Finish the first phase of landscaping in the natural area of our Cat Island home. Hmm, sort of? Another pesky hurricane drained a good bit of our resources but we’re making progress. Unfortunately, a couple rows of wax myrtles that will one day be a huge hedge aren’t yet making a dent in the use of our yard as the neighborhood ball field (you can probably hear my husband saying “I told you so” in the background). But someday … And we did plant four new trees to replace some of those lost in the 2016 hurricane.
  • Take a special getaway trip to celebrate a milestone birthday. Not yet – see hurricanes above. Instead, the trip will be this year to celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary. Rome, Tuscany and Amalfi coast, here we come.Italy guidebook

So now it’s time to set some goals for 2018. I’m going to take a little longer to think about that. But based on points 1 and 2 above, I realize it’s not the goals themselves but the act of setting them that matters. Most of us get so busy just charging through each day, we seldom stop to think about where we’re going. Just taking some time to think about what’s important to me – and what I might be willing to do to reach it – is a good goal in itself.

Try a Guiding Word Instead of Resolutions

By: Mary Pat Baldauf

Resolutions are for the birds. Until last year, I made them every year, and like many of you, had abandoned most by the first week in February. Last year, I decided to select a single word that summed up the essence and focus for the next 365 days of my life.

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My guiding word for 2017 is “simplify.” The textbook definition is to make less complex or complicated; make plainer or easier. It literally applies to nearly every facet of my life that I would once try to tame with a resolution: my weight, my finances, my house, my health, my relationships and more.

Simplifying isn’t as easy as I thought; I really have to re-think things. I keep the word on the top of my mind, and try to use it when applicable. Here are just a few examples:

  • After searching high and low for a lost FSA card, I simply requested a new one. Most things can be replaced easily and with little hardship. Simpler and much less stressful, for sure.
  • When I have a store return, I keep it in the car until I pass the store I need to visit.
  • simplify-mugInstead of keeping a travel cup whose lid has a design flaw and leaks, even if it does keep my water cold for 10 hours, I gift it to someone who will appreciate it and get one better suited for my needs. (Stanley has a great one. The lid shifts shut AND has a straw hold!)
  • When I couldn’t find my Just Wanna Melt scrub bars at the usual spot, I just ordered them online instead of making additional stops. (Sometimes a shipping fee is worth the time and money you’d spend on an extended search.)
  • When I get a new coffee mug, I get rid of an old one to make space for the new.
  • Instead of taking time to search for a “legal” photo of a pause button, I make do with two images of my own. (See what I just did there? Simplified when writing a blog post on simplifying.)

What can you do to simplify your life in 2017? Any tricks or tips to share?

Resolve…

By: Angie Sloan

Every Woman Blog - New Year New You

This may sound like a snarky post, but that’s not my intent. The new year is here! Two weeks into 2017 and there’s not a single parking space at the gym and my Pinterest board has been filled with tons of pins on how to keep those “New Year’s resolutions.” And this year, I have decided to not buy into the hype. I don’t begrudge those who do, but it’s not for me. It’s the word “resolution” that bothers me. In its bare form it is just “re” meaning (to do again) and “solution” meaning (an answer to a problem). And you know what? That is precisely the problem.

Each December, as the new year approaches, we realize that we need to “fix” ourselves, again. We make promises to lose weight, get in shape, eat healthier, keep a tidier house, read more books, watch less TV, etc. But what if we are not broken? What if we aren’t the ones with the problem that needs to be resolved? Hear me out. I am not saying, by any stretch, that like Mary Poppins, I am practically perfect in every way. I am far from it. But why do we as women put ourselves through the misogynist torture of conforming to the expectation of New Year’s Resolutions?

I have a friend who received a new fitness tracker for Christmas to help her “stay on track” with her resolutions. She literally lives, eats, breathes and sleeps by this new tracker. She uses it to measure everything and I worry that’s she is beginning to use it to measure her self-worth. I think many of us measure ourselves by numbers on a scale, on a screen, on our paychecks, on our mailboxes. The new year is a perfect time to change that behavior!

(Give me a minute as I descend from my soapbox.) Here is my point, dear readers. Let’s all realize that we are good enough, pretty enough, thin enough, tidy enough and smart enough. Simply stated, we are enough. If we choose to improve ourselves, that’s a great thing. But we don’t need a new year to do it.

If we are going to make a resolution, let’s resolve to love ourselves. And let’s actually keep that one!

Happy New Year!

New Year, Old(er) Me

By: Rachel Sircy

Being born in December is weird. You don’t start the New Year looking forward to a birthday. Instead, you start the new year having recently survived a birthday and all of the complicated tangle of emotions that go along with that. At least the emotions that follow me after my birthdays always seem complicated and tangled.

But, every January I – along with countless others – put the cherry on top of our emotional confusion sundae by making New Year’s resolutions. I have so many this year that if I achieve them all I will be a completely different person by my next birthday. Like Invasion of the Body Snatchers different. That will really complicate my emotions. But what’s life without a little melodrama, right?

Anyway, personal goofiness aside, I have made some New Year’s Resolutions that I intend to keep, especially those relating to health. I have retained all the baby weight since my gluten free weight lossdaughter was born. She was also a December baby and just turned two. I am ready to lose some weight and get healthier. And so, for those of you out there who, like me, are attempting to get into shape this year and have to also remain gluten free, I wanted to write some words of advice and encouragement.

Firstly, for those who are unaware, a gluten free diet is NOT a low calorie or low fat diet. Gluten free convenience products (such as breads, cookies, pasta, frozen entrees, etc) are usually higher in fat, salt and sugar and have far less fiber than conventional products. I have been approached by a number of people who have told me that they are “going gluten free” in an effort to lose weight. Unfortunately, switching to gluten free convenience products will only help to keep you from losing weight and they may cause you to gain weight. In the case of anyone who is not a celiac, it may be better and healthier for you to eat whole wheat products than to turn to gluten free options.

For those of us who are celiacs and can only eat gluten free products, we all know that cookies and waffles are never the key to losing weight anyway. Unfortunately, the best way for celiacs to lose weight (and to make sure that we stay safe from contamination) is to cook for ourselves. Of course, that is probably true for everyone. If celiacs want cookies or pasta, it’s better to make our own and control the amount of fat, salt, sugar and fiber that we put into these foods. (Fiber can be added to foods in the form of ground flax and by making sure that we try to use whole grain pasta like brown rice or quinoa.) And there are cookbooks available that have recipes that are both sugar and gluten free. For Christmas I received a cookbook by Kelly E. Keough titled Sugar-Free Gluten Free Baking and Desserts, which offers healthier recipes for things such as pizza crusts, cookies, and cakes by using alternative sweeteners such as fruit juice and stevia.

Secondly, better and healthier products are available to celiacs (and gluten free enthusiasts) for less money. I used to pay approximately $12-13 per week for two loaves (small loaves!) of a high fiber gluten free bread. Who can afford that? But if you have no other choice, then you have no other choice. Here is where I am going to shamelessly shill for Aldi BECAUSE now we do have another choice. Aldi sells really good bread, both white and whole grain, for half of what I used to pay for my high fiber bread. Now, that is still not dirt cheap since they also sell regular bread for less than a dollar sometimes. However, 3.99 for a loaf that is big enough to last me an entire week is the best deal I’ve found since I was diagnosed. Also, most Aldi stores sell ground flax seed and good quality organic brown rice and quinoa pasta. Healthy gluten free eating is becoming easier and more affordable.

So, go out and conquer your healthy New Year’s resolutions! You can do it!

My Goal is No Resolutions

By: Jeanne Reynolds

I don’t make New Year’s resolutions. Don’t believe in ’em.

But I do like to set new goals every year. Semantics? Maybe, but I think there’s a small, important difference between resolutions and goals.

Most people’s resolutions seem to be about fixing what’s wrong with us. Losing weight is the most popular New Year’s resolution in America according to most lists, while the very vague “get healthy” tops others. Get organized, quit smoking and get out of debt are also up there. And guess what? They’re also the most commonly broken resolutions, so come February the house is once again a mess, the credit cards are maxed out and we still can’t button our pants.

New Years Goals

Goals, on the other hand, are about accomplishment, building on our success and reaching our dreams. They feel positive instead of punitive. I may not achieve all — or any — of my goals in any given year. But thinking about them and putting them in writing helps me clarify what’s important to me.

So — in no particular order — here are some of my goals for 2017:

  • Run a half-marathon in under 2:05.
  • Paint our bedroom and get new linens and towels.
  • Obtain and complete at least 3 freelance writing jobs.
  • Lower my golf handicap to 14.
  • Finish the first phase of landscaping in the natural area of our Cat Island home.
  • Take a special getaway trip to celebrate a milestone birthday.

I’m far from perfect and there are many things that need fixing around about my person. But I’d rather focus my energy on the things I enjoy. That word — “enjoy” — has hidden power in it. Webster’s defines it as “to experience with joy.”

And if I were going to make a resolution, it would be to let myself experience more joy in life.

Hope

By: Leah Prescott

It’s New Year’s day here in the Prescott home and I’m sitting on my couch contemplating my New Year’s resolutions. I have always loved the idea of turning over a new leaf in January, giving myself a fresh start and a fresh perspective. As usual, it’s mostly a matter of whittling down the slew of things I need to work on into a manageable list. This year, my first thought was to focus on home management. As I have mentioned, staying organized New-Year_Resolutions_listis not my best skill. Throw in a part-time job, hobbies that have grown into responsibilities and that teeny-tiny task of educating the future generation…..let’s just say the dust to floorboard ratio is at an all-time high. And don’t even talk to me about the laundry. Unless you want to come wash some.

Or I could put my energy towards a less tangible goal. I’d love to make creativity a more pronounced part of my daily life. Although I’ve always felt God gave me a gift for creative thinking, it’s something that has sadly fallen by the wayside since motherhood and her responsibilities hit. (At least to a certain extent….there is an amount of creativity in trying to walk the dog in the rain, put a toddler down for a nap, empty a load of groceries, mop up spilled eggnog, and baste a turkey in the span of negative 10 minutes.)

On the other hand, maybe I will attempt to drink more water, get rid of all the clothes I don’t wear, learn a foreign language, expand my cooking efforts, buy more locally/organically/ethically food, or apply eyeliner. (Notice I don’t mention exercise. That’s right, it’s too unlikely to even make the short list.) All of these are things I’d love to make a part of my life. But the truth is, if I write them ALL down on the list, it’s almost guaranteed I’ll give up long before February and probably before this post even hits cyberspace.

I have certainly succeeded in discouraging myself, and you guys are probably not even reading any more. So where does that leave us? Barely into 2015 and already bummed about the New Year? No, because I have to remind myself of what is true. Truth: I can never live up to my own expectations. Truth: I will always disappoint. Truth:  I will make mistakes and I will fail again and again. But despite all this, there is very good reason to hope.

My hope is not in my performance. It’s not in miraculously renovating my home with $80 and sheer willpower. It’s not in discovering the best meal plan or the most effective cleaning methods. It’s not in training for a marathon, or reading more books in 2015. My hope, and the reason that I can joyfully enter the New Year, is in Jesus Christ alone. Because the truth is, without faith in Him, I would feel like a failure each and every day of my life.

So if you have already failed yourself this year; if you’ve already let down your family, and dropped the ball, please take heart. Perfection doesn’t bring peace. Faith in the Perfect One does. So I choose to place my hope in Him this year. I hope you have a peaceful start to the New Year!