August 15, 2017

Travel Tip #18 Push the Limits?

Travel Tip #18 Push the Limits is written with you in mind if you suffer from IBS, IBD, Crohn’s Disease, Celiac Disease or other conditions that may lead to a sudden need for bathroom facilities. I just got back from LA. During Sunday brunch I had a sudden reminder of how uncomfortable it can be to travel with a gastrointestinal condition. This travel tip deals with a subject that’s difficult to discuss in public.
cypress
If your guts are constantly in a knot and you can’t predict when diarrhea, gas, or pain may suddenly hit, it can be hard to imagine taking a long trip on an airplane or even in a car full of people. A fear of embarrassment or discomfort can lead to a gradual withdrawal from family outings and vacations.

Reluctance to disclose the real reason for resistance to certain situations often leads family and friends to misinterpret what’s happening. I mean who really wants to say, “I just can’t face the chance that I’ll poop myself during a 3-hour plane ride?” I don’t. It really doesn’t matter how close we are, I just don’t want to discuss that with you.

So, what should I do?

Pretend to be too busy, too sick, or too angry with Aunt Jane to attend?
Insist on a different trip that no one else is excited about?
Wear adult diapers?

Sometimes saying no may be the best choice. If your only motive is to take care of yourself, you’ve explored all the options that might make the journey enjoyable for you, and you still can’t find a way to make peace with attending, then say no. It’s only when you have an ulterior motive or when continual refusals begin to limit your access to a full life that saying no becomes detrimental.

Say yes within limits. If it’s hard for you to take care of yourself, establishing certain parameters in advance can make it easier to decide in the moment when presented with an invitation. For instance, you may want to have a rule that you only agree to car trips in areas with ample facilities. You may want to limit flights to 1 hour at certain times of the day. You could have a rule that you will not stay at friends’ houses so that you have the privacy of your own space. Along those lines, you can have a rule that you don’t share hotel rooms. If you know you usually have fewer problems an hour after eating, join the family after the meal rather than for the meal.
breakfast
Make sure you eat properly and/or take your medication on time. When you’re willing to say yes, there’s no reason to tempt fate. Adhering to the regimen that works best for you while varying your activity can make all the difference. Investing a little time in research and advance planning can make it possible for you to have plenty of medication on hand even when you miss a connection.
It can also mean that you have plenty of tummy friendly snacks on hand when meal times or restaurant options unexpectedly change.
orange tree
Focus on the good stuff. A beautiful view, a warm hug from your favorite cousin, or the smile on your grandson’s face when he meets LeBron James can all mitigate a little discomfort. After all, you may not feel perfectly well at home. If you can feel equally good and add some great memories, it may be worth risking possible inconvenience or embarrassment. If things turn out badly, you can make a different choice next time. If you always stop yourself before you start, you’ll miss out on a lot of good stuff.

Bring the party to you. If you need to be in your own space to be comfortable, make your home the place everyone gathers. Let the travel be someone else’s problem. Instead of missing out on memories and contact with people you enjoy, develop your hosting skills.

That doesn’t mean you have to do a lot of work and throw a party. Just establish that you’d like to see everyone at a certain time and invite, invite, invite. When someone visits, relax and enjoy them. It may take some time to develop momentum, but eventually word will spread that your place is the place to be. Making your guests feel welcome is all it really takes to be a great host.

If you suffer from IBS, IBD, Crohn’s Disease, or Celiac Disease, should you push the limits and travel or should you stay home? There’s no right or wrong answer. What’s right for today may not be right for tomorrow.

The important thing is to always, always take very good care of yourself. For some of us that is in and of itself pushing the limits.

August 8, 2017

Snacks from Down Under

If you have a toddler, you may think I’m writing about snacks from down under the table. I get it. I just kept my one-year-old grandson for a week. I’m pretty sure there could be food under the food on my kitchen floor. I feel like I keep finding more every time I sweep. But, that’s not the food I’m referring to. Today, I tried Majans Bhuja Snacks from Australia.
snack bag mix
I’m not sure why I picked up the bag. Curiosity, I suppose. Well, curiosity and the fact that I’m always looking for snacks to carry along on a road trip or airplane. This one boasts no preservatives, no artificial colors or flavors, a low glycemic index, 5 grams of protein per serving, non-GMO ingredients, and it’s certified gluten-free.

I took a quick look at the ingredients before putting the bag in my basket. The noodles and chips in the mix are made from yellow peas, chick peas, sunflower or canola oil plus rice, potato, tapioca, salt, sesame & cumin. Scattered throughout the noodles and chips are green peas, peanuts, and sultanas seasoned with salt, fennel, chili, turmeric, paprika, and cane sugar. There’s also a little maltodextrin thrown in.

The serving size is about 1/2 cup and has 140 calories. There are 8 total grams of fat. One gram is saturated. There are no trans fats. Each serving contains 170 mg of sodium, 16 total carbs, 2 grams of dietary fiber and 2 grams of sugars. There are 5 grams of protein.

Reading the label for the original flavor, I’m pleased with the amount of sodium and I like it that the noodles and chips rely on peas more than grains for their substance. I could do without the maltodextrin, but I’m happy that there’s less sugar included than any other ingredient.
snack mix
I like the spice blend used in this mix. It has a bit of heat that I find a pleasant alternative to mixes that rely on sugar for flavor. The crackers and noodles feel a bit dense which makes them seem a little less manufactured than a Cheeto or Veggie Straw. I’m ambivalent about the peas. I feel this way about wasabi peas as well. In general, I prefer raw nuts or seeds to dehydrated peas. The occasional sweetness of the sultanas is a great balance for the heat.
For the Americans reading this, a sultana is similar to a raisin in that it is a dried white grape, but sultanas tend to be plumper, sweeter and juicier than other raisins. Turkey is a major producer of sultanas.

The price for this snack is reasonable for a gluten-free snack. I paid $2.65 for a 7 oz bag that will provide 7 servings.

Where does that leave us? The price is reasonable, the spice blend is pleasant, and the bag contains crunch. I suppose the pertinent question is whether I will buy it again. I might.

I can’t see making this mix a regular item on my shopping or travel lists. It doesn’t have an addictive level of crunch or salt that will make me crave it. On the other hand, it isn’t too sweet or too greasy and I like the spiciness. That means I will be likely to grab the occasional bag when I see it on the shelf.

I’m giving it a solid 6 for composition and a 10 for price. That’s not bad for a snack from down under.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the brands, products, or services that I have mentioned. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

http://majans.com/products/us/bhuja-snacks/

August 1, 2017

A Bite of Regret

Before you have a taste of that beautiful cake, remember you could be taking a bite of regret. One of my friends is in pain. She isn’t complaining too much because she knows why. A couple of months ago she went on vacation. There was cake. After three years of feeling good on a gluten-free diet, she thought it probably wouldn’t hurt to just take one tiny bite of cake.
cake
While we know the research says one bite of gluten is enough to trigger an immune response that causes damage which can take a year to repair in someone with celiac disease, we don’t really know if that one bite of cake caused my friend’s problem. Why? Because she didn’t stop with that bite.

A few days later, there was pizza. She had half a piece. A bite of fried chicken here and a taste of a dinner roll there, pretty soon she was a few weeks down the road of regret and couldn’t deny how bad she was feeling. Now she realizes she’s in for a long haul in getting back to where she was before that fateful first bite.

I know it’s tempting to think that reducing gluten does much the same as eliminating it. That’s seductive because it sounds like you can periodically reward yourself with a doughnut and not suffer any ill effects. If you have an autoimmune response to gluten, reducing gluten will not work effectively. You must eliminate it entirely and forever to avoid continuing damage to your body.

The message from the medical community is sometimes confusing. Without definitive test results, your doctor may put you on an elimination diet for a few weeks then have you add back gluten to see if it affects you. Unfortunately, the results can be misleading. If you have gluten-sensitive enteropathy, you may not feel worse from adding back gluten after a few weeks because your body has not had time to heal the damage that’s already done.

Just like the gradual regret my friend recently experienced, symptoms may compound incrementally in a way that causes us to normalize our gradually increasing discomfort. It may only be after months of living gluten-free that we suddenly realize we no longer feel tight in our skin or our shoulder doesn’t ache or we can again lift a large cast iron skillet without difficulty. Questionnaires are so often focused on gastrointestinal discomfort that symptomatic patients may report having no symptoms.

In general, there seems to be a reluctance to diagnose celiac disease so it still often takes years of symptoms to get a diagnosis. I don’t know why this reluctance exists. I am hoping it will lessen in light of new research that indicates diet may be effective in treating conditions not commonly associated with dietary risk such as multiple sclerosis and depression.

If you have been diagnosed with celiac disease and know gluten is harmful to you, it is important to consistently and continually eliminate it from your diet. Failing to do so puts you at a higher risk of death (1). That’s something to keep in mind before you take that tempting bite! Make sure it’s not a bite of regret.

http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/932104-clinical
https://bmcmedicine.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12916-017-0791-y
http://www.cbsnews.com/news/multiple-sclerosis-mediterranean-diet-to-counter-effects-study/
https://www.medpagetoday.com/allergyimmunology/allergy/15972
https://www.medpagetoday.com/allergyimmunology/allergy/15972
(1)Though still modest in absolute terms, risk of mortality increased by 75% for patients with mild inflammation of the small intestine at a median follow-up of 7.2 years (95% CI 1.64 to 1.79), and by 35% for patients with latent celiac disease (defined as gluten sensitivity) at median follow-up of 6.7 years (95% CI 1.14 to 1.58), according to a report in the Sept. 16 Journal of the American Medical Association.

July 24, 2017

Let This Fresh Peach Pie Take a Bite Out of the Heat

Let this Fresh Peach Pie take a bite out of the heat! It’s that time again. The heat index is well over 100º. It happens every year, sometimes much earlier than this, and I hate it. The heat is bad enough, but the humidity makes the air feel heavy and hard to breath in. The sweat won’t evaporate from your skin to cool it. Make-up melts off your face, and two showers a day are the minimum. But hey, I ran across that Fresh Peach Pie recipe that I mentioned a couple of weeks ago. A great piece of pie might help take your mind off the heat. Especially a pie that’s served cool.

You’ll have to find your own juicy peaches, but here’s how to turn them into a delicious peach pie. The best part is that you don’t cook the peaches which leaves their texture firm and their taste bright. I haven’t made this pie in years, but the impression it made on me hasn’t diminished.
peach
Anna’s Fresh Peach Pie

4 cups fresh peach slices, peeled
1 cup sugar
1 cup cold water
6 tbsp corn starch
Dash of salt
4 tsp lemon juice
1 drop almond extract
2 drops yellow food coloring
1 crop red food coloring
4 tbsp apricot or orange jello
You favorite 9 inch pre-baked pie crust (Of course, it can be gluten-free.)

Combine sugar, water, cornstarch, and salt, in a saucepan and cook until it is thick and clear. Add lemon juice, almond extract, food coloring, and jello. Allow to cool.

Fold peach slices into sauce and mix well. Pour mixture in crust and place in refrigerator to set. Serve chilled with whipped cream atop.

I ran across this handwritten recipe in my Mom’s recipe box. I think it’s funny that it includes food coloring. It’s been decades since I’ve had food coloring in my pantry, but I loved it as a kid. I especially loved the set of bright colored salt we had in the cabinet. I used to put margarine that included yellow food coloring on my baked potatoes and then salt them with the blue colored salt. This made my potato a totally gross green color. It was fun to watch my family and friends be grossed out while I enjoyed my scrumptious green potato.

Obviously, you can leave the food coloring out of the recipe. And if you’re gluten-free, you don’t need to worry about the Jell-O unless you have an additional allergy or sensitivity. I’ve included links below for you to review the ingredients.

I like to use a gluten-free cream cheese crust for fruit pies. It’s delicious with my Raspberry Rhubarb pie and I’m certain it will complement this pie as well. I also prefer homemade whipped cream on top. I know making whipped cream sounds intimidating, but it’s incredibly fast and easy – even with a hand powered egg beater. The secret is to chill the bowl and utensils in the freezer before you begin.

Hmmmm. A freezer sounds good. Anything cold sounds good. I’m ready to take a bite out of the heat!

http://www.kraftrecipes.com/products/jell-o-gelatin-orange-3-oz-box-660.aspx

http://www.kraftrecipes.com/products/jell-o-gelatin-apricot-3-oz-bo-668.aspx