Should You Buy It?

When companies and news organizations peddle fear, should you buy it? As we’re bombarded by information that may be less than reliable, it can be hard to discern which messages to trust. Unfortunately, the medical community also peddles fear. So how do you determine whether you should buy the product or message?

  • If a spouse/partner wants you to buy a pair of shoes that hurt, should you buy them?
  • If a doctor consistently advises the most extreme treatment, should you get a second opinion?
  • If a news organization edits video that changes perception of a situation, should you base your opinion on partial information?

Determining whether or not to buy or buy into something has some commonalities:

  • It ain’t easy!
  • It’s time consuming!
  • It probably won’t be fun.

I say this, not to discourage you, but to prepare you for a task that is less than desirable but still important to your health, well-being, and quality of life.

Those of us who are avoiding gluten may be tuned into health messaging and labels more than most making us especially vulnerable to the constant bombardment of fear-based messaging.

Let’s make things easier by starting with a few things you can stop worrying about:

Gluten in shampoo or cosmetics – The gluten molecule is too large to be absorbed through your skin. (If you have an allergy to wheat, rye, barley, or malt as opposed to an intolerance, this may still be of concern.) Also, don’t eat the cosmetics. Ingested gluten is still a problem.

Longstanding childhood vaccines – These are safe, effective, and have all but eliminated suffering from smallpox, polio, and tetanus. With any medicine, there is the potential for an adverse reaction in a small number of people. That’s true of antibiotics, birth control pills, and over-the-counter pain relievers. Check ingredient list for allergens & look for recalls. Barring those, get vaccinated.

MRNA vaccines – They do not change your genetic makeup. They do not contain microchips. They do not produce severe adverse reactions in most people. This type of vaccine is easy to adapt to a variety of viruses. That means we will most likely see more and more of these. Adopt with the level of caution you approach any medication, but there’s no reason to dismiss these out of hand.

Taking nutritional supplements – If you are healthy and eat a well-balanced diet, there’s no real benefit to taking supplements.

Eating eggs – While eggs contain cholesterol, they don’t seem to raise blood cholesterol and are a near-perfect food. They may also help with nutrient absorption when eaten in raw salads.

With those out of the way, how can we determine what to embrace or leave behind?

Develop a list of reliable sources – Twitter has been a great tool for this. You could follow experts in any field to get their take on infinite topics. Now it’s a bit more dicey but look for doctors and researchers who are well respected by other scientists. Look for news sources that feel balanced. Watch for bias. Don’t give too much credence to the most visible faces on TV or those who speak for politicians. Look at track records. Get several opinions about any product or issue. Do some background research to see which of those opinions align with rigid, well-controlled studies; reflect verifiable facts; and are not reactionary.

Learn the difference between fact and opinion – It’s common to see someone online ask a “what if” question that leads to a whole narrative based on nothing but flight of fancy that’s treated as fact. And news networks often have “experts” offer lots of opinions based on zero facts. You can tell the difference, but you must listen carefully.

Beware of magical thinking – As humans, we’re always tempted to take the easy way out. We want immediate results and miracle cures. But just because we want something to be a quick fix doesn’t mean it is. Or it could mean we’ll only see short-term positive results. If you find yourself leaning into something because it sounds easier or faster than something you know will work long-term, question yourself.

Today’s example would be using a diabetes prevention drug strictly for weight loss. It’s all the rage! But we also know that once you stop using one of these drugs, the weight comes back. That means a temporary “cure” at best. And we don’t know the long-term health effects of using these drugs. That’s a risk you’re blindly assuming.

Never assume you need anything just because an ad says so – Advertising isn’t about education. It’s not about public service. It’s about getting you to buy a product or service. It may do a public service or educate at the same time, but that’s not its primary purpose.

If fear or shame is involved, beware – It’s unfortunate that companies or professions use emotional manipulation to accomplish their goals. If you feel yourself compelled to buy or buy into something because you’re afraid or feel ashamed, take a minute. Your emotions may be undermining your best judgement. Wait for the feelings to pass, then reevaluate.

Ask questions – Someone in a particular field will have a depth of knowledge you do not. Feel free to ask questions. Most are happy to share their expertise. If you hear them say, “that’s not how this works,” believe them.

The most important thing is to allow yourself to learn and shift. Sometimes new information will challenge a long-held belief. If this NEVER happens, there’s a problem. It’s statistically unlikely that you will be absolutely 100% correct all the time.

Even if you’ve carefully researched your opinion, science will advance; policies will result in unintended consequences that are not acceptable; drugs will be recalled; new facts will be revealed. All of these require adjustment.

Sometimes this means you should no longer buy something that was reasonable yesterday. This can be true in the universal sense. It can also be true on a personal level because we change, our situations change, and our health changes.

There can’t be an absolute answer to the question, should you buy it. And sometimes, we’ll make decisions we regret later. But if we’ve gathered the most reliable information we can find, reflected on potential consequences based on that information, and made a decision that we are willing to reevaluate if necessary, we’ve done all we can do. It’s okay to lean into a plan and feel good about it.

When It Rains

We all know the idiom: when it rains, it pours. They even put it on a salt container. I’m feeling it this week after literal rain poured so hard it flooded my building.

microwave rice

To keep things in context, there is damage that it will take time and money to fix, but it is minor compared to the losses suffered by my community in a recent tornado. In other words, this is annoying, but not that big a deal.

On the other hand, it has been a time drain during a period when I have a lot on my plate. That has made it difficult to put gluten-free, low histamine food on the table in a timely manner. And that’s how it is sometimes. No matter how organized and efficient you are, life gets ahead of you.

A well-stocked pantry and freezer can make those times easier. But I’m really not good at freezing and using things. And having to avoid ham, sausage, bacon, deli meat, fish unless it was just caught, and anything canned adds another layer of time required to prepare a meal.

Prepared or semi-prepared foods are helpful during overwhelming weeks. What I can tolerate well may differ slightly from what someone else can, but here are a few of my hurry-up go-tos:

Microwaveable rice. There are several gluten-free brands and styles to choose from – restaurant-style sticky white rice, brown & wild rice, jasmine rice, etc. Rice is a quick, filling carb and small portion packaging means no waste. Use as a base for any kind of bowl.

roasted chicken

Whole roasted chicken. Many grocery stores sell rotisserie or roasted chickens in their deli. Some offer a variety of seasonings like lemon & rosemary, roasted butter garlic thyme, or white wine and herbs. This chicken can be sliced and eaten alongside carrot sticks or frozen vegetables. It can be diced for chicken salad or shredded for wraps or enchiladas. It can also be served over microwaveable rice.

Frozen vegetables. English peas and corn are what I use most, but the options here are numerous. I also like to keep edamame handy. It makes a great salty snack that’s healthier than chips. Frozen vegetables cook quickly. Many can be steamed in the bag to save cleanup time. They’re healthier than canned. And they can be used alone or in combination with other foods.

Microwave ready potatoes or sweet potatoes. You don’t have to wash these. Just throw them in the microwave as per package directions. You’ll have potatoes in less than 10 minutes. Eat them like baked potatoes or top with a mixture of leftover chicken, vegetables, and cheese for an entrée potato.

Gluten-free bread. In my case, I keep gluten-free bagels or French bread. (Many packaged sandwich breads cause me to break out in a rash.) I am better about using breads and muffins from the freezer so that’s where the bread lives until the previous package has been used. I can make sandwiches using almond butter or a slice of roasted chicken.

Boiled eggs. You can boil your own to keep in the refrigerator, but you can also buy peeled boiled eggs in a bag from the store. Use them to make egg salad. Add them to chicken salad. Slice or dice into a green salad. Or add to pasta dishes.

You may prefer foods that have not been processed. I do too. But sometimes it’s good to have some quicker go-to options ‘cause when it rains, it pours!


Broken Bowl? Let it Go.

Broken bowl? Let it go. I feel bad when I break things. Today, I broke a milk glass antique mixing bowl. It’s not the only mixing bowl I own. I should throw it in the trash without a second thought.

But I can’t – not because it was almost as wide at the bottom as the top and pleasant to use, and not exactly because of the many many apricot cakes I mixed in it when I was small. My association of this bowl with a kitchen long-ago turned into a music room is related to larger memories that took place in that kitchen.

We often make memories in the kitchen. Some are good, all covered in sauce, syrup, and dusted with sugar. Others produce broken glass as a by-product. Good or bad, some events must be processed before we can let them go.

Memories and their emotional aftermath can take time to work through. Sometimes the process moves slowly. Obviously, it makes no sense to hold onto a broken bowl for weeks, months, or years. And yet it can be tempting to clutter our homes with things that no longer serve a purpose.

Items that evoke strong memories may be the hardest to part with. But keeping misshapen, broken, crumbled stuff around can make it harder to let go of the attached emotions.

How can you make it easier to part with things?

Take the pressure off. If you try to muscle yourself into compliance, you may feel overwhelmed and cling even harder. Try placing objects in an appointed place out of sight and leave them for a few weeks or months. You don’t have to decide right this minute.

I use a space in the back of a closet to hold items that are difficult to part with. After a few months, I pull them out and decide whether to throw away, donate, or keep. I’ve been doing this for years and I can only think of two times that I kept something.

Take a photo. I’ve found I don’t always need to hold onto the actual item. What I’m looking for is the feeling I feel when I see it. A photo can generate the same feeling. When it’s time to part with a special possession, I snap a photo and put it in a folder labeled Memories on my computer.

Take your time. This year, I decided to get rid of one thing per day. At the end of the year, I will have gotten rid of at least 365 things. Some days I cover all seven things for a week. Other days, I simply remove a vase or blouse or pair of earrings.

Take it to someone else. If you have a friend or family member who collects Niloak pottery or Culver glassware and you have some you don’t need, gift it. I’ve been served drinks at parties in glasses I previously owned. It always makes me feel good that they’re being used.

Take a moment. When it comes to something broken beyond repair, it makes sense to remove it promptly. While you may not be able to fully process the attached feelings, taking a moment before giving it a toss is a way to honor your need to continue the process. Doing so can help you take the next step.

So, I’m going to throw away the bowl I broke this morning. And I’m going to think of it as a symbol of the broken memories from that kitchen. Then I’m going to let it go and walk away from the trash bin with a smile!

There are some things I’m better off without!

Happy Halloween!

It’s Halloween and I’m in a bit of a stormy mood. I think that’s appropriate, but others who must deal with me may have a different opinion. I understand. But at least I’m feeling stormy on a holiday filled with witches, ghosts, and zombies! I fit right in.

Like everything these days, Halloween may require some last-minute adjustments. Ingredients in candy may have changed due to supply shortages. Some neighbors may not hand out treats because they’re sick. Others may not be able to afford to buy candy when the price of food is so high.

But Halloween can still be fun!

If you’re on a specialized diet, rereading the labels of your favorites may be the only adjustment needed.

Gluten -free kids can switch to Halloween cookies at the last minute. Deconstruct some gluten-free Oreos and use orange and white icing to decorate them like jack-o-lanterns.

Popcorn Balls may be another quick-change option if you’re gluten-free.

For those who limit sugar, Brach’s® offers a variety of Gummy Bears and individually wrapped Fruit Slices jelly candy and Hershey’s has zero sugar chocolate bars. These sugar-free options may contain alcohol sugars that need to be avoided on a low histamine diet.

Last year, my grandkids and I turned Rice Krispy treats into ghouls with the help of cookie cutters and some black and green frosting. Then we made a burrito into a headless character from a cartoon we’d just watched.

Your cupboard and pantry are probably full of Marshmallows and trash bags that can become ghosts at a moment’s notice. Black microwave containers can become mini cauldrons filled with cheese dip or chocolate witch’s brew.

Spaghetti and red sauce can look like bloody intestines. Pixie Stix® may be filled with goblin ashes. All it takes is a little imagination and collaborative suspension of disbelief to make Halloween magic.

I took a 6, 4, and an almost three-year-old for a ride through the neighborhood to look at Halloween decorations a couple of days ago. I had a bag full of prizes. We held a contest to see who could find the most of an assigned category – bats, spiders, witches, and ghosts. The first one to find 5 in their category got a prize.

After a quick first round, it was clear that jack-o-lanterns would be the best category, so the 6-year-old teamed up with me to find pumpkins. We counted over 200. He practiced adding numbers together. I kept the other two engaged and we all earned prizes. It was great, spur-of-the-moment fun.

Today has already required many adjustments. I’m not feeling good about some of those, but overall I’m happy it’s Halloween and excited to see all the trick-or-treaters this evening. And if they don’t show up, I’m happy to eat their candy.

Happy Halloween!

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.”