Month: February 2014

The Battle, Part 2: Treatment

A few months ago, I posted about being diagnosed with Hashimoto’s disease.  If you haven’t read that post, I recommend you go read it here then come back to this post.

With Hashimoto’s disease, if I eat gluten, my immune system sees it as a poison and starts attacking it.  That in itself isn’t really a bad thing, but then my immune system starts attacking my thyroid because the hormones produced by it look very similar to gluten.  This throws off the thyroid production and usually causes hypothyroidism (underproduction of the thyroid hormones).  With that can come abnormal weight gain, tiredness, hair loss, cold intolerance, etc.

Hashimoto’s disease doesn’t have a cure, but it does have treatments.  One of which you might have guess: reducing the gluten in my diet (quick note: when I use the word “diet” I am not referring to a weight-loss diet, I am just talking about my daily food intake).

However, I really struggle with being completely gluten-free.

I really love food, and thanks to my Greek roots, I really love pasta and bread.  Can you get a lot of these foods in gluten-free versions? Absolutely!  Do they taste as good?  Sometimes, but most of the time, they leave much to be desired.  A lot of restaurants still don’t offer gluten-free options.  Unless you want a salad… every day… at every meal… 

And gluten is in EVERYTHING!  Not just in food, especially food you wouldn’t expect (like soy sauce.  who knew?), but in things such as makeup, body wash/lotion, medicines, etc.

Since I am not allergic, just intolerant, I don’t worry about that stuff ^^^  for right now.  I’m just trying to focus on the gluten in my food, one day at a time.  Really, one meal at time.  And I mess up constantly because I have a serious lack of willpower.  Did I mention that I really like food???

It makes it even harder that I work in the food-service industry.  Being surrounded by food combined by my lack of willpower works out well for me [insert very sarcastic tone]… But the good thing is more and more people are becoming aware of food sensitivities like gluten, dairy, etc., so more options are becoming available.   If only Bojangles’ would come out with a GF biscuit.

Not only am I supposed to be gluten-free, but I am also supposed to be dairy-free.  Can you guess how this is going?! 

I am not just lactose-intolerant though, I am casein-intolerant (casein is a protein in dairy that looks a lot like gluten to your body, so of course it makes sense that I would be intolerant to that as well) too.  I’ve never been much of a milk drinker, so that part isn’t hard.  However a lot of recipes use milk, so I usually just substitute it with coconut or almond milk.  With cheese, I try to get cheeses that aren’t made from cow’s milk, such as goat or sheep cheese.  My body seems to not have as many issues digesting that type of dairy.  And as for yogurt, I really love Greek yogurt, which I also don’t seem to have as many issues digesting (something about the yogurt-making process makes it easier for the body to digest than just straight milk from what I understand).

Some other things I am doing is taking a thyroid pill (my doctor prescribed Nature-Throid for me) and vitamins B12 and  D3 every day.  Along with the intolerances already mentioned, Hashimoto’s (combined with the PCOS symptoms I also have) make it hard for my body to absorb these vitamins directly from my food.  I sound like so much fun, don’t I?!

Anyway,  I think this post has gotten a little lengthy, so I am going to stop here.  If you have any questions/comments, please feel free to leave them in the comment section below.  I am sure I will talk more about this in the future as I am always learning and adapting to this lifestyle change.

Also, here are a couple links if you are interested in some more gluten-free reading:

http://www.cnn.com/2013/04/05/health/gluten-5-things/

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/02/18/business/food-industry-wagers-big-on-gluten-free.html?_r=0

http://www.celiaccentral.org/non-celiac-gluten-sensitivity/

http://www.g3free.com/

***Note: I am not an expert on any of the below information nor would I ever claim to be.  I am just posting on my experience, what my personal doctor and I have discussed, what I have personally researched, and what I have found that works for me.  Every person is different and I am not medical professional, so please keep that in mind and make sure to talk to your doctor before implementing any changes to your diet/lifestyle.

***Another note: there is a big difference between an ALLERGY and a SENSITIVITY.  I am sensitive, not allergic, to the things I mention above.  I also use the words “sensitivity” and “intolerance” interchangeably (though I am sure this is probably an incorrect use of the English language lol).

 
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A modest proposal

I love sarcasm, so this automatically spoke to me. But beyond that sarcasm is truth. I highly encourage you take a minute and read this!

Fit and Feminist

The Sports Illustrated’s Swimsuit Issue is set to be released next week, marking fifty years of the nation’s premier sports magazine giving attention only to women when they are clad in little more than a thong and a prayer.  And because evidently they felt like they hadn’t pissed off feminists quite enough for their liking, they went full steam ahead and teamed up with Mattel to make Barbie the centerpiece of the celebration.

I imagine the team behind this peed themselves a little in excitement over all of the controversy sure to be generated by pairing up two of the most prehistoric relics of American femininity and branding it #unapologetic. How defiant of them!  Defending retrograde beauty standards in the face of a culture that has…continued to embrace said beauty standards.  What courage!

The only way this could have become an even bigger pile of rage catnip for…

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Ice, Ice Baby

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We are in the middle of our 2nd winter storm of the season, which is a rarity around these parts.

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We didn’t get much snow where I live this time around, but we are getting a lot of ice so I decided to break out my camera and snap a few pictures.

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Of course, ice on the roads is extremely dangerous.  But from this perspective, it doesn’t seem so bad, does it?

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These shots reminded me that even in situations that are not ideal, you can still find something beautiful if you just take the time to look.

Have you ever let yourself find the good in a not-so-great situation? If so, please share!

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America the Beautiful

If you watched the Super Bowl or are regularly on social media, you probably have seen this commercial by now:

I saw it when it originally aired during the Super Bowl and my first thought was “Wow! What a great representation of why America is an amazing country.”  It showed how people can come together from all different countries, ethnicities, races, upbringings, languages, etc. and find a mutual interest (even if it’s something as trivial as a Coke).

What never went through my mind nor would I have ever expected was how negative people would react to the commercial.  When this popped up on my Facebook newsfeed yesterday, I was shocked: http://www.buzzfeed.com/ryanhatesthis/coca-colas-multi-lingual-super-bowl-ad-inspired-a-racist-mel.

Maybe I am naive, but I cannot believe that in this day in age, people (especially my generation) still think this way.

The comments about how we should be speaking American were just plain dumb.  In case you were wondering, “American” is not a language.  English is.  American English is a dialect of English.  And English developed from Latin, as did Italian, Spanish, French and a few others.  In comparison to how long some other languages have been around, English is relatively new (originating around the 8th or 9th century A.D.).  And English is definitely not the original language that was spoken in America.  But I digress…

What bothered me even more, however, was the underlying notion in these comments that in order to be an American, you must shed all of your heritage and culture.  Then, you must conform to this standard of being “American.”  But what exactly does it mean to be American, anyway?

In the Declaration of Independence, these words were penned: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

To me, being an American means that we believe these words. Being an American means believing in freedom of religion and speech.  Being an American means that there is diversity and that there is a lot to learn from that diversity.

To me, it doesn’t mean losing who you are, your heritage, or your beliefs.

I am half-Greek.  My dad’s great (thank you, Mom, for catching that!) grandparents were the first of his family to immigrate to America.  I take pride in my Greek heritage and enjoy learning about that culture.  I LOVE Greek food and hope to one day visit there.  The other 50% of my heritage is a combination of English, Welsh, German, and maybe a few others (my mom’s side of the family is much more of a blend as they immigrated much earlier than my dad’s side).

I am also 100% American. I love America, I love what this country stands for, and I can’t imagine living anywhere else.

I think we have forgotten what it means to be American, and now more than ever, we need a reminder.  A reminder that America is a beautiful variety of cultures, languages, and beliefs.

O beautiful for spacious skies, 
For amber waves of grain, 
For purple mountain majesties 
Above the fruited plain! 
America! America! 
God shed his grace on thee 
And crown thy good with brotherhood 
From sea to shining sea!

O beautiful for glory-tale 
Of liberating strife 
When once and twice, 
for man’s avail 
Men lavished precious life! 
America! America! 
God shed his grace on thee 
Till selfish gain no longer stain 
The banner of the free! 

(America the Beautiful by Katharine Lee Bates, as found on scoutsongs.com)

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