Gluten – friend or foe?

Gluten – friend or foe?

  About a week and a half ago my doctor declared that I needed to do a test to see if I was gluten intolerant. After telling her I don’t eat gluten anyways because it is bad for inflammation, she told me I had to start eating a significant amount of gluten every day for a month until I did the test. I have been strict with my gluten consumption for over a year now and haven’t had anything with gluten in it. I was curious to see what would happen to my body when I start eating large quantities of gluten again. 

At first I got a little carried away thinking of the things I would eat that I haven’t been able to. The first thing I ate was a glazed doughnut from Krispy Kreme. That was the only gluten I had eaten that day, I didn’t feel any reaction as such but my belly looked like I was 6 months pregnant. 

The next two days I struggled to get the right amount of gluten into myself. After substituting for so long it was hard to think about what to eat. I had noodles, bread, wraps and soy sauce! But found it really hard to get equivalent of three pieces of bread into myself each day. The task seemed impossible!! (To me anyways, my colleagues were not sure why I was finding it difficult). 

It was only after about four days into the gluten diet  that I started getting a headache, constant feeling like I’m always hungry but at the same time feeling full and like vomitting. I also started to get more neck and knee pain. I felt that my hands were feeling weak.  I felt exhausted and that I wanted to sleep all the time. At first I thought it was only that day, but I have been feeling this way now everyday.  It has almost been two weeks of having gluten everyday and I don’t know if I can do it for another 2-3 weeks. I have also gained weight. I’m not surprised considering how heavy my stomach feels immediately after eating something with gluten in it. 

For me eating gluten is not worth the effects I am having as a result. I just feel lousy and depressed, yet hungry and full and just feel hungover everyday with a constant headache that won’t go away no matter what I do. I can’t seem to think so clearly. I don’t feel like this is something I can do for another three weeks. It is pretty obvious from my reactions that I might not have coeliac disease but I do have a gluten sensitivity to some degree. 

Gluten is definitely not a friend of mine. 

Week 3 (with week 2 progress)

Week 3 (with week 2 progress)

Week 2

Week 2 unfortunately was not a great week.  I was feeling very dizzy on Monday and Tuesday, and didn’t leave the house, it persisted the whole week and with doctors orders  I stayed home and rested.  I had an increased heart rate and to be honest I am uncertain why this happened, the doctor seems to think I may  have had some sort of virus in my system.  No gym at all for me on Week 2, I  tried to stick to  my  diet as best as I  could considering I couldn’t do any exercise, the only  thing I didn’t do was probably eat as often as I should because I just didn’t feel up to it.

I did feel really disheartened because I just started on this new plan and already I am not having such a smooth run, it made me think if it was really worth struggling so much just to try and get myself to  the gym, and then feeling lousy when I missed a  whole  week of it.  I don’t have an answer for myself as yet, I guess I just have to wait and  see  how the next few weeks go.  I’m not prepared to give up yet.

I also spent some time researching the different body  types and making sure my diet and exercise plans were suited to my  body type, which  evidently is a ‘mesomorph’.  Here is  a link from bodybuilding.com on different  Body types. A lot of  the information was things I already knew, but it really did help me focus again.

Week 3  plan

My  plans for week 3 have not been so ambitious when  it comes  to exercise.  The main reason for this is because this week I have had a fair few work commitments and early starts, as a result I haven’t planned in exercise and I am going to make a decision each day based on how my body  is feeling.  So far it is pretty  fatigued from the work schedule, so I might be able to fit in 2 sessions  over the weekend.

My  diet I am sticking to my previous plans, however as I am not exercising, I am not eating as often  as last.  I have  made sure I am keeping  my  water levels up (at around 3 liters a day).

I wish I had an easy solution, but in the past when I  have forced my body to exercise when it has been fatigued has led me to having months off to recover, and I would rather not end up in the same position again.

The plan is to re evaluate this week if what I am doing is going to work for me long term?

Week 2 (with week 1 progress)

Week 2 (with week 1 progress)

Week 1 Progress

Diet

The week went well, I used Sunday to prepare all of my meals in advance.  As posed on my Week 1 post  https://myautoimmunity.wordpress.com/week-1/ I planned the same diet for the whole week, in the past I hadn’t been able to do that because I get bored of eating the same food and feel sometimes my body craves different things depending on my  energy and body needs.  Last week  was no different.  I followed the diet exactly for the first two days, I found the lentils were aggravating  my stomach a lot, I guess I haven’t consumed such a large amount of lentils for a long time.  I decided from Wednesday this wasn’t going  to work for me.  I had the same breakfast, snacks, and dinner the first half of the week, I incorporated eggs into my lunch Wednesday, and roast chicken for the remainder of the week for lunch.  Wednesday and  Thursday I also had lamb steak for dinner as this is the craving I had, which meant my body  was craving more iron and higher protein source.  Over the long weekend, I also had sushi, and made a chicken stir fry  with vegetables, and gluten free spaghetti.  I had one treat on Sunday as it a hot weekend, I had gelato as my treat.

When it comes to diet, it has to be things that work for you and your lifestyle, it is important to try and make as many meals as you can as you know exactly what goes into each meal.  I do struggle with having to eat the same thing, specially  for lunch and dinner, and also because I like to listen to what my body is telling me it needs to run better and what it needs to recover.

Exercise

I went to the gym Monday as per my Week 1 plan and found this really drained me, I had to really recover from this, I also unfortunately did something to aggravate my  back, so I needed to let my body recover from this.  Thursday  I went back to gym and did back and chest, and I went back again and did legs on Saturday.  Overall I managed 3 out of 4 exercise sessions.  Normally I would be disappointed, but from my past  experience, I learned to let my body recover and listened to what it was able to do and as a result I feel pretty good.

Measurements

It has only been one week, so there have been no changes in any of my measurements from last week, I would be in shock if it did change.


Week 2 diet

Week 2, I will stick with the same breakfast and snacks as last week.  Lunch  and  dinners will be different depending on what my body needs, but this is what I am proposing for this week.

Breakfast

  • Chia pudding

Mid morning

  • 1 cup raw carrots
  • 10 almonds

Lunch

  • Chicken stir-fry with basmati rice, substituting with;
  • Roast chicken with steamed vegetables

Afternoon

  • Yoghurt with maple syrup

Pre and post workout

  • BCAA, and protein shake

Dinner

  • Tuna salad, substituting with;
  • Lamb and salad

(will make changes based on body requirements)


Week 2 exercise (all exercise is alternating/done in pairs as last week )

Monday – Rest

Tuesday – Back and Shoulders

Lat pulls – 4 sets, alternating with;

Shoulder  press – 4 sets

Seated row – 4 sets, alternating with;

Lat raises – 4  sets

Face pulls – 4 sets, alternating with;

Face down shoulder raises – 4 sets

Wednesday- Legs

Squats – 4 sets,

Deadlifts – 4 sets

Kettlebell squats – 4 sets

Glute raises – 4 sets

Leg press – 4 sets

Calve raises – 4 sets

Thursday – rest

Friday – Chest and arms

Dumbbell chest press – 4 sets

Pull downs with bar – 4 sets

Dumbbell flys – 4 sets

Pull downs with rope – 4 sets

Saturday – Legs, same as Wednesday

Sunday – rest


My fitness journey 

My fitness journey 

Like most people I know I am pretty paranoid and concious of my appearance. When I talk to people about having low self esteem and feeling bad about how I look, people are mostly in disbelief. They can’t seem to comprehend why I would feel bad about my appearance. My problem comes down to always having to hide or cover up my skin because 80% of my body used to be covered in scales. I would often get asked if I burned myself, or what was wrong with my skin, or just get strange looks. I guess like most people with Psoriasis I started dressing to hide my skin. 

My skin now has been mostly clear for about 6 years thanks to biologics and a strict diet. But my skin is still covered in scars left behind from my psoriasis. I still get asked what is wrong with my skin or why I have spots. I have also been unfortunate enough in past relationship to be told how ugly I looked because of my scars and that I was lucky to be with that person because no one else would want to be with someone so ugly and covered in scars. Needless to say that was a bad relationship and I left that a long time ago. 

I spend a great deal of my energy, money, and time on how I present myself everyday. I feel that I have to make extra effort with my clothes, my hair, skin, nails so people will not notice the things that are wrong with me. I rarely wear clothes that show my legs or arms. I still cover up where I can. I feel paranoid if I’m in swimmers because there is no other option but to show my skin. But it’s not just my skin. I often look in magazines, or movies and media in general and think everyone looks so perfect. The intelligent woman in my head tells me it’s airbrushing, lighting, make up and hair but the self concious woman in me tells me that I look like rubbish compared to all the beautiful women out there with amazing bodies. 

In the past I have tried very hard to keep up my exercise, my diet however is pretty strict. But no matter how hard I work at the gym I get exhausted and have to stop, or I aggravate my knee joints and have to stop. This stop-start gets me nowhere. I have seen rehabilitation trainers whom I hoped would help me achieve my goals. I have seen a nutritionist and really worked on my gut health to help increase my energy levels. But everything I try I fail at because I become fatigued and have to stop. 

So what is so different this time? 

I am going to combine everything I have learned about psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis, diet and exercise, how my body has been responding and what suits my body to challenge myself to get the body that I want. I know this won’t address my scar issues or necessarily boost my self esteem. But I want to give it 110% and hope that with the change in diet and exercise that firstly I feel like I have more energy and have the ability to get up in the mornings. I hope to feel more motivated about exercise, and I hope to change my attitude towards myself and start loving myself and my skin more. I hope to gain strength to support my joints and become stronger. I hope that when I look in the mirror I see a person who smiles back at me and is proud of achieving her health and fitness goals. 

I will be sharing my experience good and bad weekly with my progress in the hope that I can inspire others to get fit and healthy. I have consulted my doctor before starting the exercise so if you wish to do the same please make sure that this is okay for you. 

Sugar Sweet 

Sugar Sweet 

  
I have been a bit MIA with blog posts and this is because I have been on a couple of vacations lately. I’m going to break up some topics and things I discovered while on holiday over a few posts. This one is all about my sugar consumption. 

Let them eat cake 

I was never a big sugar eater, not one to have a sweet tooth. So giving up sugar for me was easy. I haven’t had any sugar since Christmas 2014. This doesn’t include natural sugar such as fruit or honey. After cutting it out, I thought while on holiday I would ensure I still had no gluten or soy, but dropped the guards slightly on sugar and dairy. Also because it was my Birthday I wanted to have cake (gluten free of course). 

I had something with sugar in it for the 7 days I was on the cruise ship, it wasn’t excessive, it was only as a dessert form (I didn’t go overboard -pun intended). I found initially I had a headache from eating sugar, but surprisingly for me, I did not experience an inflammatory reaction from sugar or dairy. To be honest I actually felt better, I didn’t experience fatigue and was sleeping better. (This could also be because I wasn’t at work or in cold Melbourne). Mentally I felt happier because I didn’t have to cut sugar out completely from my life anymore, at least I felt since my body didn’t react having sugar for me was still an option on occasion. 

I also attended an Indian wedding last week in Fiji and as Indian weddings go, it’s all sweets all of the time. If you love sweets it is very difficult to avoid it. You have to have an iron will to not have any. I can say I only ate 2 pieces of sweets in the whole wedding week. I avoided it because even though I didn’t react to it on the cruise ship, I know my body doesn’t need the sugar. 

I went and spoke to my dermatologist soon after to discuss my findings and she advised me that from research they have found gluten to have a relationship with inflammation but nothing scientifically proven to show that sugar, dairy or soy should be avoided. I also discussed this with my Rhuematologist and we discussed it was okay for me on occasion. 

There is a lot of talk about sugar lately and many people are completely removing it from their diet and if you want to do this it will be better for you and your body. But we are all human and sometimes you just want to eat dessert like everyone else.  Although as I mentioned I gave it up easily I did sometimes feel that I just wanted to “be like everyone else” and just eat a dessert. The mental effects sometimes I felt was not worth it.  Sometimes always cutting everything out and still being in pain made me sad. If however, when I ate sugar I had an inflammatory response (which to be honest I expected) and I was in pain, I don’t think it is something I would continue to eat even on special occasion. For me it wouldn’t be worth the pain. But for me I’m in pain most days and fatigued and eating sugar did not increase my pain levels or fatigue. 

I’m not saying for everyone now to go out and eat sugar. By no means do I encourage eating sugar. I still will remove sugar from my diet, except on occasion. But I will no longer be the sugar nazi that I had become. Everyone is different and everyone’s body reacts differently, the best way to find out if your body reacts to something is to completely cut it out for atleast 3 months then try it again in a small quantity and see what your body does. Speak to your specialist and determine if this is suitable for you and your condition. And make the right choices based on your body and your mental health. 

I will continue to make sugar free treats at home and stick to a sugar and gluten free diet because I do believe this is better for me. But atleast I know if I really wanted to, I could have a dessert and not have a reaction to it. 

That’s something for me to smile about 

Who doesn’t love a good Hot Dog 

Who doesn’t love a good Hot Dog 

There is something about having a gourmet sausage in soft bread with mustard and sauerkraut that makes me instantly feel happy and satisfied. Eating a hotdog reminds me of weekends as a child when my mum would make sausages and we would turn them into hotdogs with ketchup, mustard, and relish. When I eat a hotdog it takes me back to a happy place. 

Unfortunately, I haven’t had a hot dog in a long time because I can’t have gluten. I thought hotdogs were just another thing I just couldn’t have anymore. That was until this afternoon, while shopping at Woolworths I came across some gluten, soy, dairy free rolls. I decided then and there I was having a hot dog for dinner tonight. (There was a party in my head at this point). 

 

   

 

These rolls although gluten free, is not true paleo as it has flours from grains and also something called invert sugar. I googled it, it is pretty much sugar, with the same health consequences. I don’t have any sugar in my diet, but for the small amount in this bread and my dying need to eat a hotdog I made a small exception (I am only human). 

Being pretty exhausted today (I just had an Infliximab infusion today), I used gluten free chorizo and cooked it in a pan to heat it up and brown a little. I served my hot dog simply with mustard. 

  
The verdict: the bread itself was a little dry and felt slightly grainy, but with the chorizo and mustard it worked well enough to satisfy my hotdog craving. It was a lot better then many other gluten free breads I have tried. 

My body didn’t have any reactions to it, so I feel like this is something I am able to include in my diet as an occasional treat. (Yay!) 

Eating to avoid inflammation:  My Dairy and Sugar free Chocolate and Cherry Ice Cream 

Eating to avoid inflammation:  My Dairy and Sugar free Chocolate and Cherry Ice Cream 

  

Who says a strict diet can’t be fun 

I try to manage my condition using a holistic approach. Looking after all aspects of my life and what I need to do to avoid triggers to inflammation. I have found sticking to a paleo diet has really been beneficial to me. The main triggers for me are gluten, soy, and sugar, although I haven’t noticed a trigger with dairy I also avoid this, as it can cause an inflammatory reaction in the body. Along with legumes, nightshade plants, and some grains. 

I enjoy cooking and inventing new recipes that meets my dietary requirements, and is healthy and delicious.  I want to share these recipes in order to help others manage their autoimmune condition but not feel like they are missing out on things they enjoy.  

I recently bought a Cuisinart ice cream maker so I could make my own healthy ice cream at home and not miss out on something I have always loved. 

With this particular mixer you need to pre freeze your mixing bowl overnight. If you don’t have an ice cream maker you can use a bowl of ice with another bowl on top with the ice cream mix and a hand mixer to improvise. 

Ingredients 
1 can organic coconut milk 
3 tablespoons raw cocoa powder (use more if you want a stronger taste)

4 tablespoons raw organic honey 

I cup frozen pitted cherries/ or fresh if you have it (make sure you pit your fresh cherries)

Method 

1. Combine coconut milk and honey and whisk until smooth. 

2. Add the cocoa powder and give it a good mix until smooth.

3. Add the mix to ice cream mixer and turn on. 

4. Microwave the cherries for about 1 minute or until soft and defrosted, but not hot. If you are using fresh cherries or defrosted cherries you can skip this step. 

5. Crush half of the defrosted cherries with your hands and keep the other half whole to give your ice cream some texture and hidden treasures. 

5. After mixing for 20 minutes add in the cherries and let the ice cream maker churn for another 10 minutes. (This takes 30 minutes in my mixer, if you have a different ice cream maker the times may vary)

6. Once the consistency is soft and creamy, transfer to a container and refrigerate to harden up for a few hours or overnight. 

When you are ready to eat it, take out the container for 15 minutes so it slightly softens. 

This makes just under 1 litre of ice cream. 

Hope you enjoy it as much as I did.