Wahls Week One

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I have completed a full week plus on the Wahls protocol. Specifically I am following step one – the Wahls diet. It’s been a bit up and down getting it right but I’ve managed to stay completely gluten free and nearly casein free. 

I won’t pretend it has been easy but it hasn’t been as hard as I thought either. I haven’t been tempted to cheat even when I made the family cookies and muffins.  Not even to lick the spoon. Besides, my weakness is cheese. So far I have managed to just ignore it. 

 

The toughest part is getting the leafy greens in. I get tired of salad, salad, salad. It’s fine during the week but eating them all weekend gets a bit tiresome. 

I discovered green smoothies today and think this might be a solution. 2 cups of spinach and four berries plus a bit of milk equalled tasty goodness. That’s the first cup of leafy. Then, a lovely salad for lunch and some steamed greens for supper. 

I also made what I’m going to call sulfur soup. I made it with 4 cups beef bone broth,  2 cups of kale, 2 cups baby bok Choy, onions, garlic and some salt. So good. I’m calling 1.5 cup = 1 cup sulfur. Next time I make it I will try to post photos. 

First week results:  redness on face much lighter. Lost 5 pounds. No improvement in sleep patterns. No improvement in energy levels. Back still very red and dry.  Hands got very bad after being outside. This is one area that I hope will soon improve. 

Dermatomyositis Humor

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(Credit http://franksdermatomyositisjournal.blogspot.co.uk )

Have to take it.  Think I hate it.

I’m not one to just start a medication because a doctor says I should, up until methotrexate.  I just blindly said “OK” when it was offered.  Honestly, nothing else was working, I was seeing a new doctor and it was “something else” to try.  Does it work?  Sort of.  I think the rash has improved a lot since starting it but reached a point where there was no further improvement.  So, we upped the dose.  Now I have to take it in 2 doses on Fridays which is a bit of a pain.  Two weeks ago I developed painful mouth sore.  They are finally healed up and I am hoping don’t return because that means I can no longer take methotrexate, at least at this dosage.  This is my 4th dose at 25 mg, so if there is no more improvement, I’m going to say it didn’t work.

Did you know methotrexate is a chemotherapy drug?  I didn’t.  Not for months.  This really bothers me and I do want to quit taking it.  But, I also can’t continue to suffer from the disease.  It does keep me from tearing my skin off, though I won’t kid you, I still itch.

So, I’m trying my best to follow the Wahls Protocol.  I am hopeful that combined with the medication, I will soon see improvements that eventually allow me to decrease and even eliminate the methotrexate.  It seems like an impossible goal but isn’t everything until you do it?

Wahls Protocol – Initial Impressions

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I have dived head first into the Wahls Protocol. I finished the audio book and am armed with all of Dr. Wahls enthusiasm and knowledge. I made extensive notes and will probably have to listen to it again, just to pick up even more of the hidden gems. I’ve been eating my 9 cups of vegetables and fruits for most of a full week now, gluten free and almost dairy free. (Turns out there is casein in my coffeemate, sigh)

Here are my initial impressions:
1. Watch the Tedx Talk you tube video here, even if you haven’t read the book. It’s 18 minutes and really fired me up to commit to the protocol.

2. It is a “Protocol” not a “Diet”. Remind yourself this at every opportunity. We cheat on diets. We follow medical protocols. This is as important as taking your medication.

3. Do NOT stop taking your medication. Oops, learned that one the hard way. In my defense, the drugs don’t seem to be “doing anything” so I quit taking the Plaquenil. Two days later, there is Dr. Wahls on my audiobook reminding us to continue all medication until your doctor says otherwise. Ask me how awful my skin was. How it burned and turned blotchy, red and hot. Yes, it was brutal. I am back on my drugs, it seems they actually ARE “doing something”.

4. Because it is a protocol, there is more to it than just food. Stress management is extremely important too. Detoxification is also vital.

Initial Results:
Spoiled probably, because I quit taking my medication. Having said that, I did go through a serious sugar craving day. I also had a “false start”. Meaning, I went GFCF during the week but went off the protocol for the weekend. I did not suffer too much from this and it was kind of a last au revoir to gluten and dairy. (So glad we did the Pizza Hut pizza, not going to lie, that is a weakness for me) The sugar day was after I finally gave up the gluten and dairy. I have not experienced serious cravings or die-off which I did expect but maybe it is because I am so committed that I can ignore them.

My skin is not better. My energy is not better. My mouth sores have completely cleared up. (Which was the last straw for me to finally give in to the protocol. I couldn’t brush my teeth with mint toothpaste) I am not sleeping better.

I have lost 3 pounds (!) and I have discovered that I love beets and asparagus. I am not so excited about blackberries, but they are ok.

This week:
Focus on following the 9 cups of vegetables and fruits. No tomatoes or nightshades. No peanuts or other nuts. (I have a pre-existing suspicion of intolerance to these) Increase water consumption to at least 6 cups per day. Meat, 4-6 oz daily. Personal massage with coconut oil daily, as described in the book. (It is so relaxing) Sleep at least 7 hours daily, more if possible.  I’m also taking detailed notes, which I won’t post, unless I start to see some patterns, positive or negative appear.

Upcoming steps:

Order Dulse flakes, more organic coconut oil, Avalon Organics shampoo (no sodium laurel sulfates) and Nordic Naturals Omega 3 from iherb.com.  I have a terribly itchy scalp and my pharmacist suggested an SLS free shampoo.  Why not try it?  The dulse flakes and omegas are suggested as part of the protocol.

(Just a little plug, if you’ve never ordered from iherb.com, use coupon code MEN348 for a small discount.  It is my go-to source for natural, organic and hard to find supplements, foods and personal care items. We live so far from Natural Health stores that it is a convenient, low cost way to access these items.  Orders under 4 pounds ship Canada Post (I’ve never yet paid customs/duties), for $4.00)

Research & Action

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In my quest to solve my auto-immune disorder, I have spent the weekend reading and honestly, getting frustrated. There is so much conflicting information. Eat plants. Eat meat. Don’t eat Gluten. Don’t eat Dairy. Don’t eat meat – it causes cancer. Eat whole grains, they are essential for health….

I personally have sadly, reverted to the Standard American Diet (SAD), (and while yes, this IS a Canadian blog, I think SCD is already taken as an acronymn). The SAD in my case involves a decent amount of fresh food, meats, a slowly increasing amount of processed junk and plenty of coffee. I’d tell you I eat pretty healthfully, but I did have a Timmies plus 2 pop tarts on Friday, so who am I kidding. To be fair, I felt awful all weekend. Itchy, tired, sore. It is clearly time to take back some control.

0307359980My first book was Meals That Heal Inflammation by Julie Daniluk, RHN. I bought it at Chapters. You can too!  The premise of the book is that you spend 8 weeks on an elimination diet and then add back, one at a time, potential allergens.  GF/CF/SF/Corn free/Additive Free/Beef & Pork free among other things.  Full of interesting recipes, none of which I have tried.

 

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My second book was “The Wahls Protocol” by Dr. Terry Wahls.  Dr. Wahls has Multiple Scelerosis (an auto-immune disease) and experimented on herself to find a way of reversing much of the debilitating effects of MS.  She advocates a Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Egg Free (because she is allergic to eggs, and the protocol is actually in clinical trials, it has to be exactly what she did) diet in step one. In step 2, she moves to a Paleo diet and in step three, what she calls a Paleo Plus diet.  (I’m still reading, so forgive the lack of detail)

The Wahls Protocol initial step is to clear out all the gluten and casein from your diet and incorporate 9 cups of vegetables and fruits into your diet daily. NINE CUPS.  People, that is a lot of rabbit food.  It needs to be 3 cups leafy greens, 3 cups brightly coloured, 3 cups sulpher rich.  GF/CF fare is ok in this step.  She even talks about the opioid and leaky gut syndrome.  Seems like all that “crazy stuff” I did with my son 5 years ago isn’t so crazy after all?

My third book (and documentary) was Forks Over Knives.  Interesting.  They advocate a plant based diet.  No meat.  No dairy.  No fish.  If it had a face or a mother, don’t eat it.  But, gluten is allowed.   The authors have good research that plant based diets prevent heart problems, diabetes and cancer.

So, what to do.  What to do?  I haven’t been this overwhelmed since I first started GFCF so long ago.

I needed a plan.  Could I go GF/CF again?  All the books are in agreement about casein.  It is apparently evil.  To be avoided.  To be banished from my kitchen.  (But oh how do I love thee mozzarella cheese)  Could I really eat NINE cups of vegetables and fruit a day?

Do I really want to ever feel as bad as I do now ever again?  Do I want to get worse?

The plan:  follow the 8 week elimination diet as advocated by Meals That Heal Inflammation, supported by the Wahls Protocol.  Meaning, avoid all the allergy suspect foods while still going GF/CF and eating the 9 !! cups of vegetables & fruits.

Today’s Menu:

Breakfast:  Cornstarch pancakes, 1 cup of cherries, mangos, strawberries and pineapple  (it was either corn or gluten, take your pick)

Lunch:  Carrot soup, salad with Kale, Cabbage, broccoli and other greens, plus some cranberries and a GF poppyseed dressing.

Supper: Apricot Chicken with rice and vegetables, more salad

Snack: fruit and organic strawberry tea

 

So far, at lunch, I feel satisfied.   I’m still concerned my nose is going to start twitching before the week is out…

 

Coconut Oil

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photoHello readers. It has been months since I last did any blogging. But, since this is my personal space for getting thoughts out, I’ve got a new “something” to share.

I’ve been recently diagnosed with a rare skin condition called “Dermatomyositis”. Don’t worry, it’s practically impossible to pronounce.  It looks like eczema, acts like rosacea and is incredibly frustrating!

It is an auto immune disorder that leaves me with an intensely red, itchy rash that I am taking boatloads of medication for. Not to mention the topical creams and lotions. None of which is curing the problem. Just providing some itch relief.

Thank God for Mary Kay makeup. Otherwise, I’d look like I had a permanent sunburn on my face. But I digress…

The point of this posting is to start a log of my trial of Coconut Oil. I am going to try it on my hands (the worst and most impossible to see results spot) first.

I put some on my hands today and think maybe I used too much, since they are still pretty greasy. And, we’re talking maybe a 1/4 tsp. However, I read that 1 TBSP will do the whole body, so there you are.

On an aside, I do love coconut oil for baking in place of other oils. It melts easily and doesn’t leave too much taste in most things. Be careful with really light flavoured stuff. It is awesome in banana bread. Yummmm.. Think maybe I should go make some.

Gluten Free Casein Free Hallowe’en

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The “worst” time of year to be a GFCF parent has got to be Hallowe’en.  So many treats, so many pitfalls. We all know our kids shouldn’t eat junk food, but “it’s just one night!” – is the argument you will hear (and possibly have with yourself).  So, what’s a concerned, careful parent to do?

The options, as I see them are as follows:

1.  Refuse to participate in the Hallowe’en candy begging.  This works if your kids have never “done” Hallowe’en and don’t know that they are missing out.

2.  Hallowe’en Fairy – have the kids leave their candy out for the Hallowe’en fairy who magically trades their candy for a coveted toy.  (My kids would rather have the candy)

3.  Sort the candy, once it is home & pick out what is “safe”

4.  Pre-distribute treats to the places you’ll be visiting.

Of the options, I have used both #3 and #4.  The problem with pre-delivering is that you have to stick to a pretty defined list of houses.  In my tiny town, the kids know everyone and like to vary their houses from year to year.  Plus I have to be very organized to help make this one happen.

Sorting the candy works pretty well, except you have to keep them from diving into the bag on the journey.  One way I solved this was to have a small pocketful of approved treats that could be enjoyed en route.  My kids were well trained by then to ask before anything went in their mouths.

Ideas for Approved GFCF Hallowe’en Treats that are annually distributed in our town (not sugar, soy, artificial or anything else free)

Sunmaid Raisins
Rockets
Coke, Pepsi or other
Juice boxes
Old Dutch Chips (they say “Gluten Free” right on the package!)
Starburst candy
Skittles
Sour Patch
Nerds & Runts
Jelly Belly jelly beans (but not the unknown kinds!)
Most gum
Suckers/Lollipops
Lifesavers
Jolly Ranchers
Welch’s Fruit Snacks (and they don’t get their cars egged either.  go figure….)

If you want chocolate, you’ll have to look to Enjoy Life for their chocolate bars. They are pricey but so worth it!

There are lists on the internet of safe treats, but often they are just GF, not GFCF.  Also, has anyone actually ever gotten some of those weird candies on Hallowe’en night?  (Except from the creepy, cheap old lady in the house that smells like cats??)  The above list is the real deal Moms & Dads.  My kids get most or all of these things in their treat bag every year.

If you aren’t sure about a treat, my advice is to not feed it to your kids.  Maybe set it aside for grown-up testing….or phoning the company the next day.  You know, whatever works best in your house.

GFCF on a Tight Budget

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There is no doubt about it.  Being gluten free, casein free is a whole new grocery store experience.  Gone are the 10 cent packages of ramen noodles (not that they were ever a nutritionally sound choice anyway), say goodbye to el cheapo bologna, adios to 99 cent Wonder Bread.  Hello $3.99 for spaghetti that never goes on sale, hmm, maybe to certified gf deli meat and are you NUTS!! to $7.00 bread.  With pricing like that, it’s no wonder parents are scared off this particular intervention.

There are ways to make this lifestyle change less taxing to the family purse, though it does involve a lot more work on Mom and Dad’s part.  It means whole foods, cooking from scratch, little to no reliance on packaged foods…truthfully, the exact same thing that any good “money coach” such as the wonderful Gail Vaz Oxlade would tell you.  So, don’t sit there feeling sorry for yourself…

Keeping to a tight budget means figuring out what is a “want” and what is a “need”.  This IS different in every house.  My children would tell you that a cookie in their lunch is a need.  I would argue that point, but they still get a cookie most days.  When we switched to “Enjoy Life” chocolate chips, I loved that they are mini, so I use 1/2 a much.  (Good thing too because the bag costs more than double!)

Here are some of my best budget tips:

- Watch for sales on produce and never buy more than you will eat (or freeze).  A great deal on mangoes isn’t so great if you throw some away.  Buying in season fruit does make a difference but even I will sacrifice the budget elsewhere to buy Eric mandarin oranges as often as I see them.  It’s what he likes best and they almost never go to waste.  I do find vegetables to be much less expensive, by volume, than fruit.  Of course they are more work, chopping, peeling and etc that it is easier (and sweeter) to reach for fruit!

- Carrots last a long time in the fridge so watch for sales.  (Make muffins or cake if you have too much!)

- Old bananas taste best in banana bread and can be frozen, in the skins and peeled later if you are short on time.  These are a great money saver for us.  Why pay 80 cents a pound for good ones and let them go old at your house?  (Usually they are 1/2 price or less!)

- Potatoes kept in the dark will keep for months – at this time of year, I can buy a 50 lb bag for $20.00 or less

- Less tender cuts of meat in the slow cooker taste just as good as expensive cuts in the slow cooker, so why not save a bit here?

- Watch for 2 for 1 deals if you shop at Superstore – I have scored soy yogurt, soy milk and almond milk on this method several times

- Know when your Bulk Barn or natural food store has a scoop and save sale.  One store we like has a 20% off what you scoop the last Saturday of the month

- Buy your rice in bulk size – those giant bags do last a year (I keep mine in the freezer). The last one I bought was about $15 – or less than the cost of 3 small bags of Uncle Ben’s that last about two months.

- Buy plastic storage containers (reusable) that you can freeze individual portions in.  Make a recipe, portion out for lunch, label and freeze.  Instantly you have a GFCF microwave meal.  I do this once a month and eat wonderful meals every day at work.  This keeps you out of the grocery store or restaurant at lunch.  This one tip has already saved me at least $20.00 this month.

- Remember that any food not in its “whole” state is processed and you are paying for that – think about stewed tomatoes, canned beans, soup, bouillion.  Maybe you don’t want to do everything from scratch, but this is one small place to look for savings.  You can buy a bag of white beans for about $2.00 – or buy (maybe) 2 cans.  That bag of beans will make much more than the 2 cans.

- Stop throwing away food.  When you do, try to estimate how much money you are putting in the trash can. (and I’m not talking about the food your kids don’t eat!)  If you toss an apple past its prime, think about the cost- is it $1.00?  How about the last lonely sausage or a 1/4 chicken breast?  Take time to measure (or weigh) the food you threw out.  Check at the store for prices if you aren’t sure.  Would you throw away $10.00?  Then why are you throwing out food?

 

I hope that is helpful.  We have a “clean the fridge” day for supper regularly, just to stop throwing out food.  I’m not perfect yet, I tossed out $5.00 (in lettuce and forgotten fruit) today.  Sigh.  That’s at least a package of Tinkyada pasta and a Lara Bar.

Gluten Free Lunch

Yum. Yum.  I remembered to bring my lunch to work today, except it is nothing EXCEPT sweet and sour slow cooker beef.  No rice, no potato, no starch, no vegetable.  I even wrote “S&S Steak” on the lid. I guess when I did up the container I meant to put in the rice….Sigh.

Since bread is too expensive to “waste” on lunch, especially when there are toasted tomato sandwiches at home, I’ve been exploring other lunch ideas.  Of course, I should be eating more salad, my pants are getting a little snug!  But a person can only eat so much bunny-food.  Some of my favorite combinations:

- Stir fried chicken with rice and vegetables, or for a fun change, with shrimp. OR, what the heck, have chicken and shrimp. VH sauces are GF, except for teriyaki, which I never liked anyhow.

- GF pasta with fresh tomato sauce (can you tell I’ve got a lot of tomatoes right now?)

- Homemade beef and chickpea soup – be sure to look for GF beef broth/boullion when you make soup

- Fruit salad with a side of yogurt – Soyjoy is a nice brand if you do soy yogurt

- GF lasanga (for those who can do dairy, I think soy cheese is awful) – I’m trying Houston enzymes with my dairy, I do miss it.

- Chickpeas (cold) mixed with ranch dressing.  Maybe I’ll try edamame beans too.

- Leftover pancakes with sandwich filling.  I love doing this – it makes a sandwich so much fun.  I find this works best with PB& J unless you cut the sugar to nil in your pancake recipe.  Sweet and salmon just don’t go together for me.

And, when in doubt, some Old Dutch potato chips…they are stamped Gluten Free right on the front of the bag so there’s no guessing required.

 

Hope that inspires some lunch ideas for you too.

21 Days Gluten free

I am now 21 days gluten free.  I feel like I should be saying that in a meeting or something.  My name is Michelle and I am 21 days GF….  My face has improved, my hands are not read and bumpy anymore and I’m only 1/2 scratching my head, as opposed to constantly.  But, my fingers are still cracking a bit and I’ve got new rashes in places I didn’t have before.  So, this is a bit of a mixed bag, I’d say.  Fortunately, the cream from the doctor seems to relieve it.  Unfortunately, the cream is running out.  Of course, if I actually remembered to take my anti-histamine everyday I might be further ahead.

I did find a couple of coping strategies that are helping – crazy glue to close up the cracks on my fingers and being completely dry after bathing.  Sounds funny right?  My SIL mentioned she gets rashy under her rings if she doesn’t take the time to completely dry her hands.  And do you know, mine do the same thing.
Maybe that will be helpful to someone else, so I mention it here.

We’re off to the city today for a dentist appointment.  I’m off to Safeway for more Udi’s bread and Bulk Barn for more flour.  I’m out of rice flour, so no blends for me until I get that sorted out!  Which means no more cinnamon buns and I love those little babies.  I’m hoping to make it to Sobey’s too and check out their GF selection.  I love how the store has a dedicate (1/2) aisle for GF foods, even though you can find them mixed in too.  It just makes it so much more “normal”.

If I find anything cool, I’ll be sure to share!

Make it Gluten Free!

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One of the hardest parts of being GFCF is trying to create “normal” food – the old favorites, the stuff your kids and spouse can’t live without.  Sure, you find new things, but there’s always something that just isn’t the same without wheat.  Chocolate chip cookies are my downfall, they aren’t quite as good GF.  So, I just don’t really make them very often now.  PB & choc chip, yes and since they can’t go to school…more for me.

However, then there are the foods that with just a little tweak, become GFCF and any other free you need to be.  Think about spaghetti – you can get corn, rice, quinoa and I’m sure other grain varieties of pasta.  Cooked in a separate pot, same sauce as the family and volia!  Gluten free.  Roast beef supper – change out the flour for cornstarch in your gravy, gluten free.

Or, in the case of dessert requested by Eric – Oreo pie…  We made a “regular” oreo crust plus a bowl of Kinninnick chocolate crumb crust for me.  And, no I don’t think that the cool whip we used is CF, but Nutra-Whip is. Right now, I’m “milk free” but not casein free.  It did turn out really well.  I should have used soy milk to test the pudding, but didn’t have enough so suffered a little tummy trouble for the milk in the pudding…but the point is, here’s a regular dessert that can be made compliant with only small changes.

Next time, I’m doing my own pudding pie and setting them out for a side-by-side taste test.  If there’s no difference, and there usually isn’t, we’ll be making GFCF pudding pie from now on…

And if you are wondering, here’s the “recipe”, courtesy of the Oreo crumbs box:

Oreo Pudding Pie

1.5 cups oreo crumbs (use Kinnikinnick chocolate crumbs for GF status!)
1/3 cup margarine

Melt margarine, add crumbs and stir.  Pat into a pie plate or springform pan.  *I would suggest greased pan as the little bugger stuck like crazy*

1 pkg (4 serving) chocolate pudding
1.5 cups milk
2 cups Cool Whip

Beat pudding and milk until thickened.  Fold in Cool Whip.  Spread on top of crust.  Chill for 30 min and serve.  Try not to lick out the bowl, you’ll end up with some of it on your nose.

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