Genetic Testing and Whatnot

Hello Readers,

There is a doctor whom I am gathering a high respect for while coming across her interviews about and research on celiac. Her name is Dr. Sheila Crowe and she is helping put foundations down for the celiac vocabulary as well as allergy and intolerance merely by putting a better grasp on celiac itself. Dr. Crowe on celiac (video from a conference)

Our country does not spend the money and attention on celiac that the rest of the world does. Most countries have moved on to the more efficient genetic testing while we are still mostly just swabbing our cheeks receiving grey area results. We come low ranked in the world to carry celiac within our population; but this is also because we have one of the lowest rates of diagnosis.

Dr. Crowe and the New York Times high fived for a question answer session that I found amazingly educational; whether you have been diagnosed for a long time or no issues at all and you just want some info on this business. America is a few clicks behind understanding these issues and it takes someone like Crowe to help us get back on track.

There has been enough evidence that certain countries carry the genetic receptors towards celiac in higher abundance than others. People of Irish descent are more likely to have celiac than those of another genetic makeup. It is most commonly found that 1 in 300 Irish are celiac. But this is diagnosed factual evidence. You cannot have these facts if your population is under diagnosed…

Since celiac is a part of the genetic lottery, people who have it carry genes that are specific identifiers for it. These genes are in the family of genes for proteins referred to as human leukocyte antigens, or H.L.A. It is a subset of these genes are involved in autoimmune diseases, and the genes that predispose to celiac disease are in that group.

If you have the human leukocyte antigen you have the genetic markers to have celiac occur but this does not mean that it will manifest within your body. It just means it is possible. The thing is, you can’t have celiac and not have the H.L.A. If you have weird food symptoms and know beyond a reasonable doubt that it is the wheat, then this test is for you. This little puppy could also clear up my unknowns for good as I already know gluten is not my friend; but not the exact category in which to label myself.

The H.L.A. testing is picking up some speed here for usage with celiac identity; but it has not yet reached the regularity that it has in Canada and Europe. In the U.S., this test is most commonly used to find organ and tissue matches for donors. It can also be used to make sure your baby daddy keeps paying alimony on Jerry Springer. Handy thing, this test.

Our government did a summary that acknowledges it is cheaper to do this genetic testing than it is to dig out a piece of your guts in a biopsy. However, since having the marker does not mean you actually have celiac; the only way to play both hands straight is to also have a biopsy. The summary also states there is a 95% success rate so there is a 5% chance that you can fail this genetic test for celiac.

So from how I understand it, If you fail the biopsy, and you have the genetic markers; you now have to wait for a better test. If you fail the biopsy and you are in the 5% H.L.A. anomaly, sucks to be you. Just kidding, but not really because you may have celiac and you now cannot prove it. You may be intolerant and you may be celiac and your only help now will be the severity of your symptoms as a guide. This is also how humankind has had to deal with illness thousands of years. At least we don’t rely on the four humors anymore.

I may fail the biopsy, but if I have the genetic marker for the disease, at least it will be a step in a clearer label direction. If I fail both, oh well. I still do not care if I have a label for myself. Wheat kills, enough said; but I want to be sure for anyone reading these posts o mine so I will get this done. If I am not celiac, I am worried the label will influence the direction my research meanderings will take. The power of the name plate is always something to consider. When I get my answer, I will be a different blogger for better or worse.

If anyone reading this is having symptoms with no answer, I really would recommend reading the stories attached to the NY times link. It feels good to feel like you are not alone and the varied symptoms of celiac and intolerance can make us feel separated from each other. It is rare to read a story with your exact issues, but there is so much crossover.

It is the same reason part of my job is talking. I sell cookies and treats at a GF/cornfree/dairyfree/soyfree and white sugar (mostly) free place. People coming in who have felt isolated in their issues often let loose a torrent of sealed up words. Even if they aren’t natural talkers. They often feel like they have been bugging their friends and family with this new information and coping with a new identity. It can be cathartic to be in a place that specializes in what you are now learning to identify.

When most of the people in the room deal with what you are dealing with, it feels good to be in a majority for a little while. The bakery serves as a place of treats and also the thought and word storage of those who need listeners. As I say ad nauseam, this world of celiac and intolerance needs a better voice. I will go into work and ask people what they think about the human leukocyte antigen and biopsy testing. To know or not to know!

Have a nice day and thanks for reading.

Paleo What?

Hello Readers,

Now that I am officially off the corn and dairy band wagons, I am struggling to find new vocabulary. It took a few years to feel like I had a handle on interacting with servers in restaurants in an efficient and timely manner. I had been serving for almost a decade at that point; and even being a server myself only helped a little because I knew the rough formula that can be applied to each kitchen.

It is easier to ask someone to steam a grill when you really know it takes under five minutes to make a sanitized spot for a burger patty. Like I said before, try to only do this when it is not a busy restaurant time. If a cook has a million tickets, you really are just being a jerk. You are unfortunately high maintainance to some degree. If it’s busy order something else unless they are all ready set up to provide for your needs. (Like dedicated grills and whatnot.)

Now that there is more popularity with wheat issues; people do not give you that blank stare quite as often when you bring your digestional baggage to the table. Now that I have added corn and dairy into the nix mix I had a moment of feeling overwhelmed. It took me time to find the way to handle one issue and the idea of adding two more to my world was rather frustrating. I have always had dairy issues, but my love of cheese and ice cream was too great to be denied until I finally had to acknowledge that walking straight with effort, falling everywhere and hearing bells in my ears was not a great trade off. Yay balance and the magical inner ear.

Paleo means being ALL grain free so corn and wheat are not a bother and you are not supposed to eat dairy either. Throw celiac in your explanation as well and bam, there you go. Two words that cut out miles of verbal paragraphing. Eat like a caveman. Meat and veggies. Luckily, butter is so high in fat it is not a considered actual dairy. I eat a lot of steak panfried in butter. Just call me Ron Swanson.

The actual definition of paleo is a modern nutritional plan based on the diet that we ate 10,000 years ago. Centered on commonly available modern foods, the “contemporary” Paleo diet consists mainly of fish, grass-fed pasture raised meats, eggs, vegetables, fruit, fungi, roots, and nuts, and excludes grains,legumesdairy products, potatoes, refined salt, refined sugar, and processed crap.

I lifted that little passage out of the wikipedia page. It’s a great summary. I did not feel the need to dig deeper than a high school level of definition for that one. I eat potatoes and rice. Both sit well in my tummy so I eat them. I eat a lot of sugar too. (relatively speaking.) It has been interesting weeding out the corn syrup candy from real sugar options. This has really made me notice brand memorization and obvious loyalty. An interesting bi-product.

Yay Reeses Peanut Butter Cups, I love you. The dairy is minimal for me and it is just packed full of sugar. I know the white sugar is bad for everyone in the long run; but it doesn’t give me blinding headaches like corn. I like my vices and I ain’t giving them up if they are not going to overly hurt me if I eat them once in awhile. Reeses PB anything twice a month is perfect for me. I am a total health hypocrite sometimes; but honestly, heading five years in, being Captain Anti-McWheaty still feels constantly and astoundingly new.

This is where paleo has been helpful and ridiculous. Paleo people TEND to be extremist foodies. NO sugar ever. I use the caps because many of the conversations I have are full of THAT MUCH INTENSITY. Its like watching a new religion and psychosis be born in one moment. I know there are non extremist Paleos, but I do not seem to meet them very often…and what is up with the CrossFit?

It makes me feel as if some of the atheists in the world still need a church. They have surely found it in tenants of paleo or veganism. The contrast of the two life-styles crack me up but the vocabulary and intense, zealous practices mirror quite nicely. The only two food grouperies that try to convert you…sometimes whether you want to hear it or not. This is obviously not all vegans and not all paleos; but it ain’t all those who practice the dogmatic business either. This is also why I confine my words to these pages, unless specifically asked. I don’t want to get to a point where I take a soap box everywhere I go.

I don’t own CrossFit or have any plans to work out regularly any time soon. I like walks, hiking and camping but the gym and I are not really that great of friends. I should work out more than I do, but I am just not that person. It is more fun to chase a frisbee like a dog than run on a tread mill. I am not trying to knock the gyms at all, they are great facilities. I just like my physical activities at a fourth grade level. Let’s keep it to kickball. If I mature enough to sit still, I will one day try the yoga.

With the new extra issues, I am grateful there is the readily available identity of paleo that people can relate to without causing too much confusion. Instead of adding words to my public babbling, paleo takes them away. It was a relief, at first, but I am not really a paleo person. I want a new identity, one that encompasses instant understanding of Exorcist tendencies with the broad spectrum of elimination in the great caveman food way.

Well, it is probably time to end this rant. I guess now comes “make up a new word” time. Maybe Paleac? Ha. When I think of a good one, you will be the first to know. Feel free to share your fantastic ideas. Let’s make better, more accurate and helpful vocabulary identifiers. Now is the time to set this business going in the right direction and we can only do that if we keep on talking about it.

Thank you for reading and have a nice day.

I made it 3 months this time…

Hello Readers,

This past weekend I went to stay with my gaggle of ladies in Port Townsend. We all helped plan a glorious wedding event together and went back to the bride’s house for a lovely dinner cooked for us en masse by her fiance, whom I am still getting to know. That sounds like extra info for you, but its the social interaction that led me to getting ill. I am learning that I have tiers of how deep ingredient questioning can go and I can only go the full monty if I am comfortable.

The food was delicious Mexican, saucily cooked pork, refried beans, seasoned rice the whole magic. My friends are very thoroughly educated about celiac and other food illnesses. This makes me lazy when asking questions in a thorough manner; but this was also only one aspect that led to me getting sick. I put pork, beans, rice and avocado on my plate. It was delicious. I had the moment of hesitation because I only asked surface questions, and did not flip any cans. Why didn’t I ask all the questions I needed to?

If my best girl friends had been cooking the meal, I would have had no problem giving them the verbal grilling of asking EVERY piece of ingredient that goes into the meal. With the people i am comfortable with, I am also obviously comfortable rooting around in their recycle bins and opening every cabinet to read spices and whatnot. If I am still getting to know someone, I have abruptly discovered I do not have the same ability to brazen into their stuff. This leads to trouble. I have now realized I need to alter my behavior in one of two ways. I need to either grow up and be able to ask everyone the same level of questioning, or I need to bring my own food to every eating event.

I am not sure what side of the fence I will fall on for now. Even if you are thorough as all hell, it can still get you into trouble. Last Christmas, I went to a friend’s goodbye dinner. The lovely hostess emailed me a list of ingredients the week before and even called me the night before to ask if one new addition was okay. This felt amazing. I was floored and appreciative of this level of conscious and felt lucky she was willing to do this for me. When we were at the dinner, enjoying it thoroughly, another friend asked what was in the meal and when she began listing off all the ingredients, she added one more that had not been on the list, worcestershire sauce.

With worcestershire, its a coin flip if it has wheat in it and I lost the bet. I felt bad because the hostess had tried so hard so I did not tell her I became sick. At the time, I told myself I did not want her to feel bad after all the work she had put in. I regret this because now she thinks that she has been a successful and I was too cowardly and uncomfortable to correct her by covering it with the idea I was sparing her feelings. Sometimes it feels hard to find that middle line. At least to me.

It is easy to tell a server what your needs are (if you can do it without being annoying) and get the result you want. You are risking your guts if you eat out; but there is also a regular question/answer process because you are only there to talk about food with your food orderer. When you eat at a friend or co-workers house, things get tricky. Social boundaries and rules have inhibited me from being as thorough as I need to be without crossing those lines into being “that person” at the party or dinner. Or, in reality, I am inhibiting myself from successful communication.

I remember feeling super uncomfortable speaking with servers, at the start of being GF, and it all came out as verbal diarrhea. I would ramble, repeat myself and over explain my issues in fear of getting sick. Then I realized I needed to get my shit together or not eat out at all. Four years later, I have streamlined that process. So I know that I will find a good vocabulary for addressing people I am not as familiar with; but for now, its also good to remember everything is not black and white. I am now not going to let myself eat out at someone else’s house if I can’t look at every can, jar and spice container. It is still a risk, but since GF is not going anywhere, these social vocabularies need to be established. So I guess when I get it down I’ll share the tips.

For example, if I am in a restaurant, I will ask the server, “Do you have a few seconds?” Before launching my questions at them. I try to limit it to under four questions. If I cannot do that, I shouldn’t be eating there. I start with, “Can I ask you a high maintenance question?” Because this lets your server know that YOU are aware you are taking up more time than is normal. This usually lets me get a good interaction going and boom, I order in under a few minutes and I am not the person at the table holding up everything under the sun.

How to do this in the appropriate manner with people I am just getting to know? Maybe something still on the lines of “Hi, this is high maintenance, but can I read the back of everything you have in your meal?” I have done this to some degree, and I am not even kidding you, it usually results in my pulling stuff out of the trash. This can be gross but barfing forever is also gross. Though even getting sick this weekend, I am still a lucky girl. When I became ill, I was surrounded by a group of women in the bathroom offering every piece of advice and glass of water they had. I am loved.

And as my friend Jessica said after I bemoaned being the high maintenance one of the group. “Emily, we are your friends and we love you. We do not think you are weird and you need to look at all the cans in the bin so we can eat together. This is normal. Get over it.” She is right. I need to get as comfortable with this as I am with restaurants. If someone is offended that I am rooting through their bins, they are not good friends anyhow. This post is for anyone who has ever dug through the trash to read the back of a label.

Have a nice day and thank you for reading.

Bread, Soy Sauce and Ice Cream

Hello Readers,

In this last week I have been having extra conversations with newly diagnosed people about what to buy. They always have one thing they miss the most and we then discuss how best to go about finding or creating it. This will be a predominately Portland focused post as it pertains to foods purchased in our area. Allergy food desires are divided into two categories. The first being gluten-free and the second being GF and healthy.

For example, I now make two different kinds of sandwiches, in a general food sort of sense. If I want a delicious whole food endeavor, I will eat Happy Camper’s Kiss Me RoseMary Garlic with maybe some leftover chicken from dinner before and a bunch of veggies. If I am craving a more all American sandwich, I will grab a loaf of white bread Udi’s and Toffuti soy cheese slices. Yay Grill cheese. Though the dairy-less cheeses seem to take a lot more patience to melt on the grill.

I use San-J wheat free Tamari in place of soy sauce. It is great for gluten-free cooking and has a much more aromatic full bodiedness to it that regular soy sauce does not. It is like subbing out the salty wheat adds flavor complexity. I would never switch back to regular soy sauce even if I could eat it.

This brings me to beef jerky. I miss this food so much. Five years ago I made some jerky at home with a roommate. We bought some decent flank steak, marinated it for a few days in a sugar salt cure and layered it over a few days over two box fans and some fiber glass/chemical free insulation with paper towels. The house smelled like aromatic beef for a week. Wonderful to us, not so wonderful to our vegetarian roommate.

I have now discovered Trader Joe’s sells a GF beef jerky. I tried it and enjoyed the lost flavor. It is an expensive little pack of jerky, so while I am glad this does exist, it is a rare treat instead of a supplementary snack purchase. I think I will try to make some jerky at home this summer in a more efficient manner. Which means not have it in an open room in the house, like the kitchen, and also not tell people I am doing it because the jerky disappears in under a day.

Taking a switch to dairy-free land. I miss ice cream and have now weeded through the brands and there is not really a gray area. They are delicious or cardboard glue. Coconut Bliss, from Eugene, is by far the best in terms of flavor, texture and sweetness. A lot of these ice creams are healthy and while that is great, it is called a treat for a reason and I miss my over loaded Ben and Jerry flavors.

While the So Delicious brand rocks solidly in mediocre, with the exception of Cookie Dough, the So Delicious Purely Decadent does the trick. There are only around five flavors, and a store that carries it will usually only have one or two, but it is finally a dairy free ice cream that tastes as extravagant as ice cream is supposed to taste. It’s frozen sweet food product, a more frivolous food invention I have yet to think of…

I recently went out to **Back To Eden in NE to try the savory side to their goodies. I am unable to write about the sweet side to any bakeries in this town due to my occupation in the business. It would be very unclassy to write about the competition; but we do not offer savory in my biz, so it seems like an ok thing to merit. I ate two of their savory tarts for dinner and it was a very delicious experience.

The ambience is very Portland kitsch. The structure and decor seems to have been taken from a hundred different old places all over Portland. I am starting to feel like every place I eat has the face of something else on it. I love all this reduce, reuse, recycle, but I wonder if it has to be so in your face, “look what we did”? Like, why do I have to be able to tell you have recycled the materials?

Anyways, very cute, old woodsy cottage feminine bakery decor. The girls behind the counter look like the opening of Portlandia show. You can hear the big glasses, tattooed theme song playing softly in your head. The service was not bad and not good, with quietly piped in folk rock from Pandora. I’ve gotten used to the usual watered down half smile, like “Hey here’s your order and I’m quietly wistful because I’m too stuck in my head thinking about indie bands and being cool.”

I am glad the hipster dick vibe is wearing out, but it seems to be replaced by a haunting melodrama that fits with all this steam punk. Like Emily Dickinson is being mixed with Twilight. “I’m too busy to get your coffee because my relationship ended again last night.”Cue loud mopey sigh, and off stare into the abyss of your life. Please give me my water now, it has been ten minutes. I am in sales and its about sales. Smile. Eye-contact. Conversation. Portland is turning each of these interactions into a basement Off-Broadway play.

Back to the tarts. If you are able to eat soy, I really recommend these guys. I had a broccoli   “bacon” one and a mushroom tomato. They both had soy cheese and a delicious flaky crust that rivled any I have had in the city thus far. I was starving and the warmed pastry filled me up in a grandly satisfying fashion. It was not super great to watch them be reheated in a microwave from the cold case, but it was a delicious treat to have flavors and textures of old in my mouth. The soy is a great creamy sub in small doses.

I will go back again for those pasties if I am ever in the neighborhood. A good Last Thursday summer snack before bracing the masses in all their alcoholic antics. This has been a random post about soy sauce, ice cream and bread; but hey, the food list is long and once you have down your pat desires, you are golden. If there is anything out there you are curious to find gluten-free, let me know! I probably already hunted for it.

Have a nice day.

NY Times…What You Talkin’ Bout?

There is a fascinating read in the New York Times discussing the concept and growth of celiac disease. Scientists give credence to the fact that celiac has diagnostically quadrupled in the last 50 years. Said scientists then go on to say they are mystified as to why this is happening. I just wonder why no article ever publicly ponders the idea that we have genetically manipulated our food into a bad state?

The article states roughly 30% of people with some European ancestry carry the genetic makeup necessary for celiac to manifest; yet 95% of those people can tolerate gluten fine. I am willing to bet that 30% will change over the next decade or so… By using mice, they have figured out the cell receptor that ALL celiacs carry. This seems to be the one fact widely agreed upon in the scientific community.

“Nearly everyone with celiac disease has one of two versions of a cellular receptor called the human leukocyte antigen, or H.L.A. These receptors, the thinking goes, naturally increase carriers’ immune response to gluten.”

Further down the read, they do take a stab at where the BLAME for celiac has come from. I put blame in caps because the author did as well and I found that a bit odd. It very clearly states that there have been questions about the wheat we eat being too rich and glutenous for us, as Americans, and maybe we also eat too much of it? It is as if the author dipped their toe into the pool of opposite thought and then shouted “Hey I went swimming for hours.” Yeah…It makes me feel as if they are trying to seem fair to their readers while not pissing anyone off. The anyone being people who make lots of money off of the crap that we eat.

The idea that processed and genetically modified foods might be playing a part is never addressed.  Not even as a whimsical guess of possible pairing of the actual physicality of the food we eat and our health. I felt as if the author was skirting quickly through this concept as if to assuage the reader into accepting those sentences at face value and to not dig any deeper. As if making the questioning seem almost flippant, only a crazy person could think that the wheat is the thing that is truly at fault.

Why does the problem have to lie within us? Why does it have to be about whether or not you were breast fed as a baby? What if it is just about the food that is not food that we shove into our faces without thought? We eat chemical crap and its killing us, yet we are content to point the finger at everything but what goes into our mouths. Now the read gets to my favorite part because the author go on to make a grand gesture of mystery. It becomes oddly and abruptly sensational as the article discusses the fact that they still do not know why this is happening. The great big mystery on the rise!

“You’re talking about an autoimmune disease in which we thought we had all the dots connected,” says Alessio Fasano, head of the Center for Celiac Research and Treatment at the Massachusetts General Hospital for Children in Boston, and the senior author of the study. “Then we start to accumulate evidence that there was something else.”

Now we get to the guts of the read. Apparently, there are lots of Northern Russians, or more accurately, people of the Russian Republic of Karelia, who carry the genetic composition for celiac willy nilly in their region. Almost all of these people can eat gluten with no issues.

“It’s a remote territory of Russia,” says Heikki Hyoty, a scientist at the University of Tampere in Finland. “They live like Finns 50 years agos.”

I have had many conversations with bakery visitors and randoms who say they can eat the wheat in Europe and not in America. This gives further credence to the fact that it is our American manipulation is screwing the people out of strength in body and mind.

To be honest, I am not actually sure if specifically a celiac has said this to me, or if these conversations about European wheat over American are usually with the allergic and intolerant; but I find it pertinent that our American wheat makes people sicker than any other varietal. If I am in Europe, I am not sure if I will test the theory with their wheat but it is an interesting idea. It’s one thing if its a mystery food with possible contamination. It is a whole other ball park to put actual wheat bread in your mouth just to see.

Back to the Karelians, they eat a lot of fruits, vegetables and fish. There are a few interesting recipes online from a few bloggers. It is not gluten free, but could easily be made so and it looks delicious. They eat like people of the past. I cannot help but draw the ironic conclusion that our GMO, super processed foods became rampant in the last 60 ish years and we now marvel at the physical well being of a European culture that does not eat them?

Karelians have long life spans, great health and are, apparently, genetically blessed in very multifaceted manner. I am going to hazard a guess that this is due to generations of NOT EATING CRAP. I am utterly mystified why the NY Times and all apparent scientists will not even link the actual food we eat with the ridiculous growth of the disease. What the hell is going on?

The end of the article and the end of my post finish on genetics. It all comes down to what’s already locked inside of our DNA. Is it possible that after we have been eating processed and gentically modified foods for over 150 years instead of just over 50 we will begin to see more flagrant genetic mutation? With no science back ground, I would hazard a guess that it seems to be plausible. Is it that impossible that more people are being born celiac because our bodies are protecting us from the poisonous food we have designed? Yes, yes I think this is absolutely so and soon…there will be only Idiocracy. Everyone will drink Gatorade and the hardest question on the SAT’s will be asking what’s one plus one.

Thank you for reading and have a nice day.

Let’s Get Squared Away

Dear Readers,

This is my eleventh post and there are some things that I feel I should be more clear and straightforward about. I have never been specifically diagnosed celiac. I may be one, I may not. I have taken the white blood cell test and failed it. This means my white blood cell count was not high when they tested for over reaction to gluten in my intestines. I took this test when I was extremely ill. So ill I could not eat anything but a few bites of food a day. I looked like a human bobble head and I am well over 5′ 9″ tall.

The reason I identify as a celiac is due to the extremity of my reactions. The naturopath who gave me the test told me I was either celiac or severe wheat intolerance and it was my choice whether or not I needed further testing. She did not see the point as it was clear of one thing. Wheat equals severe pain. Don’t eat it. I was okay with not taking any further tests because I agreed with her.

Severe wheat intolerance can be just as bad as celiac; though most people tend to place it under celiac in terms of symptomatic levels. This is only my opinion based on my personal experience in the last four years. I started out my identification as a anti-wheat person with this name plate. It did not serve me any good when I went out in public or tried to explain to friends what was happening to me. I used celiac and got a better result. People finally steamed grills for me instead of giving me the blank stare when I ordered. The awareness and understanding of celiac

What do I think I am? I think I may be a full-blown celiac (this will be TMI for some) because of the levels of internal bleeding I have in my intestines when I eat it. In my peak illness, I had no immune system and looked like heroin chic just got off a year on a desert island. I do not have many of the severe intolerance symptoms. Most of them read off the celiac check list like they were made for each other. My doctor and I were both okay with not having a final answer and I was too until I started this blog.

I do not want to be one of the idiots who miseducates; but how do you know what to label important in terms of informational exchange?  Is it imperative for me to know the real answer? Am I miseducating people and myself by not figuring the exact truth out? I am not sure. I can’t even kiss my boyfriend if he has had a sip of beer. This will make me re-enact the Exorcist. I use the identity of celiac as a protection for my level of issue.

I am writing these posts for you and also for myself. No body talks about the uncomfortable side to this stuff. People write angry restaurant reviews and share recipes but no one really talks about what makes them puke. Does anyone else have different reactions to different ingestions? MSG vs flour? This will be my next post. I want to talk about these things because how will we ever become educated if we don’t pool our personal knowledge? Even if that knowledge is gross.

If you feel that I am doing you a disservice by not knowing my own diagnosis, feel free not to read. I am starting to think that the labels of celiac, allergy and intolerance are not quite right. It seems like we have offered everyone three jackets to try on but everyone is a different size. I am using this blog to figure out ideas and theories as much as try to uncover some semblance of truth.

I believe that the wheat we eat is killing everyone. I truly believe we are seeing the last generations of Americans born able to eat it. If I had continued to eat it I suffer under no illusions that I would be dead by 40. No bullshit. No exaggeration. I would have quietly died off in THIS era and no one would have had a fucking clue. This is why I do not really care whether or not I am a celiac or an intolerance kind of chick. It will kill me either way. My only worry is that I should find a label for myself for the people I am writing to. For you.

We are at the beginning of a new food era and things are going to change in the next five years…the next ten… and the next twenty until the information that we have today will seem crazy out-dated. I do not see this as a trend so much as something that will eventually need changing in our American structure so that we can survive as a great people. I only wonder what horrible thing it will take for the cost to be too great for our government to ignore it any more. The sheer amount of profit involved in the wheat industry mind boggles; so it would have to be something catastrophic and that is why I write. I only hope that many voices together will change that course of action. Am I crazy? Maybe. But maybe I am not.

On that lovely note I leave you with a Mediterranean feast of wonderment. I love Nichola’s on Grand. Any Portlander who has eaten there just nodded at their computer. It’s that good. It is so authentic they make their dolmas from scratch. FROM SCRATCH. No canned b.s. for this gem. I have not been eating here recently (even though most of the menu is gluten-free naturally) because I miss bread. Dipping carrots into dip is boring. I miss soaking up lamb meat juices with pita swiped in tzatziki.

I now eat at Karam’s** in SW. They are related, by blood and marriage, to the people who own Nicholas. The food is just as good. Karam’s has Nichola’s beat for two reasons. One) they have a full bar. ; ) and two) they offer homemade gluten-free pita. My salad was brought out with croutons by accident. The manager came over and asked if I had any cross-contamination issues and whether or not I needed a whole new salad. I unfortunately did; but had previously just planned on not eating it to not make a big hooplah. This was so wonderful. The GF pita bread was glorious and the lamb platter was superb. I give it 5 out of 5 stars. Great service with obvious education. Amazing food, great atmosphere and the price was one click on the affordable side.

Thank you for reading and have a lovely day.

Grocery Stores: America’s Mind F**k

Hello Readers,

When you are dealing with a new wheat free identity, the first couple of jaunts to the grocery store feel like a trip to a new dimension. Everything looks the same. All the aisles are in the right places, but nothing familiar may be placed in the grocery basket.  It is both entertaining and unnerving. It is also just the start of falling down the rabbit hole.

Brand loyalty takes on a whole new meaning when choosing the wrong food item may cause you issues and/or pain that wrecks your day(s). Before going gluten-free, I would usually shop by sale. If that can of black beans was fifty cents cheaper it was a done deal. I never read the labels on my food. Tomato paste was the biggest eye opener. Such a small can, any random brand can wrack up well over thirteen ingredients on it. It seems strange to me that we have to hunt for tomato paste that boasts tomatos, water and salt as its only ingredients.

After the life change, label reading became an eye-opening experience. It is one of the things I am really grateful for about being celiac. I used to put weird chemicals into my system without a second thought. This post is more a marvel at what I used to think was healthy. I think everyone should eat what they want. I confine my opinions to my blog and do not feel the need to convert friends or strangers. If you want to shave years off your life eating crap, go for it. I am just glad I do not do that anymore.

It boggles the mind what we, as a country, accept as appropriate food in terms of quality and quantity. The grocery store is a gigantic place. It holds so many varieties and we often find ourselves bored with the choices we do have. This is why the sudden life change can be a good lesson to value the utterly ridiculous variety available in this current market.

When I was a kid, rice bread was it. It was like eating sand on the first bite and then glue once you succumbed to needing water to swallow. Any peanut butter and jelly touching the bread would turn it into a liquified state. The one brand of store bought cookies were gritty gross and apples are the last thing on your mind throughout the time period when you can count your age on your hands.

I was fortunate enough to have a mother who is a wonderful and adventurous cook. She concocted many delicious foods that mirror things now sold regularly on the gluten-free shelves today. Replacement items like bread and cookies were about as bad as it got for me so I was very lucky. Now in the marketplace you can find almost any item with a gluten-free counterpart and decent labeling of what standard items are naturally gluten-free. Currently, there’s Rudi’s, Udi’s, Glutino, and many many more. If you are in the Portland area, you have New Cascadia and Happy Camper’s. Thank you capitalistic competition.

When I lived in Bozeman and was new to the gluten-free game, a local mom and pop store used hot pink moving stickers to showcase all items that were gluten-free on the shelves. I thought this was the bees knees and became educated to many brands I had been previously unaware were safe to eat. It also showed me that it doesn’t really take much if you want to add gluten-free education into your environment. Hot pink moving stickers are pretty bad ass and succinct to me.

In Portland, Whole Foods is where you want to shop gluten-free…if you are able to spend the funds. The pricier food items can be ridiculous, especially if you miss something that has now become a novelty. I cannot afford to shop at Whole Foods on a regular basis so here is a better breakdown. Albertson’s, my hat is off to you. Albertson’s (at least the ones I have frequented so far) all have a more than fair diversity in their gluten-free options in terms of quality, quantity, pricing and location. As a side note, Glutino makes amazing cookies but their frozen dinners taste like cardboard glue. Amy’s frozen mac and cheese tastes the best on that score.

Fred Meyer’s was an epic fail. When I moved back to Oregon I remembered Freddie’s with nostalgic childhood fondess and felt so sure they would have been well footed in the gluten-free world. I have heard rumor rumblings that there will soon be a modern overhauling of the available options which would be marvelous. Some major grocery stores seem to also be like older generation doctors. The good old club where “holistic” is only a weird voodoo word and if the diagnosis wasn’t written down by some dead guy in a tome, then it ain’t real.

Many of you may have been diagnosed “IBS” or straight up hypochondriac by these people. They are also in the food world. You see this in places claiming the “trend” will be over soon enough. They have scooted over one space on their shelf for four boxes of over priced cookies and are just waiting for the storm to end. Guess what. This is not a storm, this is going to be a cultural revolution.

Safeway holds its own in terms of availability and price. The actual store can vary somewhat to their degree of diversity; but you can usually always find some solid staples like Tinkyada, Annie’s or Amy’s. These stores also seem to be getting better about it every time I go in so thats a plus. The Club card knocks down price and they have pretty great labeling to all their GF items. Albertson’s kicks ass on the labels too. Nice to trawl the shelves looking for the little insignia instead of reading the back of every box and can.

New Seasons is hit or miss. This is only my opinion, but all my interactions at New Seasons feel like bad Portlandia skits. Everyone there takes being a Portlander way too seriously in all the worst ways. I always leave with a wallet more empty than usual and a bad taste in my mouth. It is as if they hire one nice person for every four assholes who work the floors, registers and bakeries. If you are a nice person who works at New Seasons, I love you and you are like a rare wild unicorn. It seems like a good joke that people need a support group to interact with people there on any level. If given the choice, I will not give them my money.

Many newly diagnosed people go out and end up spending too much money on food items they do not need in specialty stores that over price them. It is easy to be gluten-free and paleo if you are willing to do the research on what to buy. Flank steak is a great red meat that is lean in fat and price. It can be marinaded and cooked a million different ways.

Think of what you usually like to eat and there will always be a better alternative. Even with all this healthy talk, I usually remake something from my old food world once a week like lasagna or pizza. It is great to be healthy, but food is delicious and I am more than willing to straddle the two worlds to enjoy my life. Pizza is a treat and not a focal point. It is more about shifting food views than eradicating the food itself.

I am willing to pay more for items because it is not only that I am going gluten-free. I am going healthy. I am willing to spend more on that organic, free-range beef because I know Bessy didn’t eat her sister cows before she was chopped up into the grinder. Healthy eating is expensive because no one put glue or mystery body parts in your food. I am willing to pay these prices. I want my eggs laid by chickens with feet god dammit!

Grocery shopping is an art that can be well honed to affordable adventuring. The expensive and organic can meet in the middle with affordable and plain when you know exactly what you want. Most people do not realize it needs to be altered at all and power to you in your bliss. I was unaware that wheat gluten is in many pickles, olives, sandwich meat, ice cream, toothpaste, shampoo and so on and so forth. We put so much trust in the food we buy; but we do not necessarily know what we are eating.

I do not consider myself to be an expert. I just feel like I have taken a peak behind the curtain that is not even sealed shut and its 1984. Thanks Orwell. We may not be eating people but we eat weird chemicals that shorten our life span and deteriorate our brains. Two thumbs up Western “civilization”, we humans should be around for a long time marching in current direction.

Grocery stores feel very deceptive to me and maybe that is what this post is about. They visually herald our ideals in shiny, over abundant displays that indicate health and wealth; but within the cornucopia, the food is not food. We truly believe that if it is shinier, bigger and prettier that it must be better. It has to be good for us. Many of us do not even eat real food anymore and will never even be aware of what that even means. This is the nesting place of gluten intolerance, allergies and celiac. This is origin of food diseases we have not even seen yet.

This is a strange world that we live in and I can only wonder what future aliens will say about the epic remains of our super stores. It feels like the time before the big changes. I know that sounds crazy but its like feeling electricity in the air before the thunderstorm clears the mountains. Change is in the wind, blah blah cliches and whatnot. Hopefully the aftermath will be full of self-sustaining farms and high fives, not zombie creatures created from chemical food consumption. Because that is how zombies are going to get here. No doubt. Look at the creepy, overly large, overly red apple in your hand. Take a big bite and enjoy!!!

Thank you for reading.