Day 58: My gluten free year… still pressing on

Dear Gluten Free Friends,

Yes, I am still pressing on  in my gluten free journey! I ‘ve learned a couple hard lessons about living without gluten that I wanted to share.

1. My husband found the coolest GF restaurant in Dallas for Valentine’s Day! Medieval Times has a gluten free option! Of course I couldn’t eat the bread or dessert they served everyone else…but they brought me a Lemon ice instead. Every part of the meal was delicious and I didn’t feel like I missed out on anything! I also tried my first gluten free Angry Orchard Hard Cider.  This was the second best place I have eaten since going g free, and it was pretty special that I could celebrate Valentine’s day like everyone else without compromise!

I’m learning a lot of compromise since becoming gluten free.

2. Kissing your gluten eating spouse will make you sick. I learned this one the hard way.

So, I have amazing co-workers who gave me Valentine treats (bundt cake, valentine chocolates, a muffin from Central Market) that I could not eat because they contained wheat. I graciously accepted these gifts and thanked them because I could still give them to my husband to eat. The funny thing is…he ate them gradually over the Valentine weekend…and kissed me. He glutened me inadvertently. The rest of the Valentine weekend I was sick, bloated, nauseous and finally realized that I was consuming gluten by proxy. Gluten eating spouses have to brush their teeth before kissing!

3. My makeup and hair care products were topically making me sick. The primer I use from MAC contains barley. This does not upset my stomach or digestive tract, but it does make my eyes burn like salt in a wound. I love MAC make up and it makes me really sad that I have to give up this product, but it is a must. It makes me look like I have pink eye and hurts really bad! Before I knew it was the primer, I was waking up a lot in the middle of the night with me eye balls enflamed. Not pleasant.

My gluten sensitivity is not just about what I eat.  I can’t wear it on my face or in my hair care products.

4. Visiting a hair stylist is going to be as tricky as going out to dinner.

I may not be ingesting gluten, but I can’t wear it either. A lot of shampoos, conditioners, styling products have gluten in them…and I learned this the hard way, too.  It took several days for my eyes to stop stinging after getting my hair washed and cut at Ulta, even though I told him I was allergic to gluten.  I guess I was not specific enough on what I am allergic to…because a lot of product labeling is not easy to understand with all the different scientific terms on the ingredients list. I would love to get my hair colored! He gave me a list of ingredients from the color he would use on my hair so I could Google them. So, at least I didn’t have a a color treatment to deal with….but I am pretty sure that whatever shampoo, conditioner, and styling products he used on my my hair caused my burning eyes (I had to replace my contacts as well) and broke out on my scalp. Lesson learned about the diligence of using gf hair products!


Day 18 GF Reflection: Losing and regaining weight is humiliating

I’ve decided that living gluten free will mean that I will be forced to stop weight cycling. You know, losing and gaining weight over and over again. Not only is it humiliating…its so unhealthy.

Thinking back to the time when I had such a high success rate in the gym and my health…I was not eating processed or gluten filled foods. I can look back and say now that the moment that wheat bread touched my lips…I was doomed to gain it all back.

Losing weight has always been a struggle for me.

There were two periods of my life when I lost a lot of weight on a strict diet and strenuous exercise regime. In 2009 I was in the best shape of my life. I was also practically  starving myself to look that way. It was not healthy either.

I have never been able to find that balance or zen weight. Trust me, I desperately tried to lose weight for our wedding last year, and it would not budge. Not even with a trainer.  It hurt my feelings that I had to be fat Shawna on my wedding day. My husband loves me, though. He has loved me through this whole process… and continues to be supportive and encouraging.  Our wedding day was the best day of my life!

I feel very lucky to have figured out that my body was rebelling gluten and not the gym. I love lifting weights. I love the rush of a morning workout. I feel fortunate that with the help of my doctor I can get back into my morning workout routine. My energy levels improve every day. It amazes me that I can wear high heels to work all day. There is hope even when I have set backs.

Day 12 Gluten free: Learning about cross-contamination the hard way…

Day 12: My husband bought me my first gluten free cupcake yesterday from Tu-Lu’s Gluten Free Bakery in Dallas. DELICIOUS. Feeling like a judge on cupcake wars, I took a bite and was won over by the moist chocolate cake and sugary chocolate ganache frosting. Yes, I am still on my diet blog world. It was worth every calorie! I have been under my calorie goal all week. It was worth the splurge!

I don’t want to feel deprived and isolated because of gluten. With all the gf choices in Dallas, I have a feeling my world will start to open up once I research and find more options. We went to a restaurant that is very conscience of gluten + allergens and the importance of not cross-contaiminating the food.

For instance, we had Chipolte for lunch. I watched them make my complete meal. I even asked them to change their gloves before touching my food. My glorious bowl of cilantro rice with chicken, cheese, lettuce, fresh tomato salsa, sour cream and corn chips…all gluten free. It’s the biggest meal I have eaten since giving up gluten and it felt good. We were able to have a normal day.

Cross contamination happened to me on Day 8 when I had a spinach salad at Le Madeline. I thought for sure I made good choices, but when you eat dinner in a restaurant that serves almost everything with gluten full ingredients…you risk the chances of getting burned. I did. After dinner, we went to Tom Thumb for groceries, and I barely made it through the produce section. After violent cramps and a dangerously close call to the bathroom, I vowed to never “take my chances” again.

Gluten is evil. My life for the last year has felt like the stomach flu every day.  No one should have to live in torture.

I love my husband so much for sticking with me through this time of transition. We are realizing that he can’t cross contaminate our food either. For example, we can no longer share our foods. He has to keep his gluten contaminated knife out of my jar of peanut butter. He can’t spill Raisin bran all over the counter without contaminating the entire counter surface. It has to be wiped down.  We have been married for seven months. I know that with my improving health…he will no longer have to see me at my sickest or weakest. I love this man.

No more tears, gluten. You get no more tears!

Day 5. Sparing you, dear reader, of my day-to-day play-by-play, I have stayed true to eating gluten-free since day one.

I’ve come to the realization that gluten and I have been fighting a war within me for at least half my life. Until five days ago, gluten was winning.

I have had so much more energy this weekend! I finished the laundry, made the bed, dusted the house, vacuumed, cleaned up the balcony…pain free. I swear I have felt like an eighty-year-old woman for the last six months and all this housework would have taken a week with lots of crochet breaks.

This made me realize that when I was successful at losing weight and going to the gym EVERY DAY (yes, I was a gym rat!) I was eating clean and gluten-free but not intentionally. My diet was very natural with very little processed foods. I didn’t have a carb free diet because I ate potatoes, sweet potatoes and milk. What was missing was the breads, pastas and pizza crusts.

My mistake in maintaining my weight loss was that I tried to eat like a normal person after hitting my goal. My cheat meals consisted of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches on wheat bread or ordering a slice of thick crust pizza.

When I gain weight, it is fast and furious. It doesn’t take much for me blow up like a balloon.  Going to  the gym while eating lots of gluten is so painful. I even had a personal trainer for eight months before our wedding! I lift. I lift heavy. I’m not afraid of the gym. Seeing no results in my weight loss killed my motivation.  My joints hurt every day and it didn’t feel like it was worth the pain to continue with no weight loss results.

My condition makes so much more sense to me.  Gluten is not going to win anymore. Once my health is restored…I will be back in the gym! I will find balance again.

No more tears, gluten. You get not more tears.

Thank God coffee is gluten-free

newyears2014Happy New Year!

This is my first day gluten-free and I am thanking God that coffee and coffee creamer are on the approved list. Phew. I don’t know what I would do if you had to take coffee away from me right now, too.

I’ve had my morning cup and breakfast, too. Eggs sans the toast, and an apple. No big deal. What is a big deal is that on my last trip to the grocery store I purchased many foods that are not gf diet friendly.

1. Protein bars. Not gluten-free (for a protein bar– they are delicious). My husband is taking them to work for snacks instead of junk food out of the snack closet (that’s the plan, anyway).

2. Jimmy Dean D-Lights Turkey Sausage and egg white sandwich. Not gluten-free. 😦 Did I mention that I don’t eat beef or pork as well? I gave that up in 2003. This marks my 11th year beef and pork free. So, take away my turkey sausage sandwiches, gluten. Thanks. The GOOD news is that Jennie-O Mild Turkey Breakfast Sausage in the roll is gluten-free. I love eggs and sausage! I just cannot have biscuits and sausage gravy. I will miss you most, B&G.

3. I purchased a new container of Great Value Quick Oats from Wal-Mart. Not gluten-free. My husband won’t eat oatmeal…so I will be donating this item to the Catholic Charities of Dallas food bank. It is brand new. Everything he won’t eat will be donated to CCD. Im not real keen on wasting money or food.

I’ve been on very strict diets before. I know the trick to any diet is focusing on what I can have instead of what I can’t. However, there are no cheat meals when you cannot have gluten like when dieting to lose weight. You can’t go back. You can’t cheat.

I look forward to the days when I can go out to lunch with my co-workers and not be embarrassed by how often I have to run to the bathroom or afraid I won’t make it back to the office. I look forward to the day that I don’t have to be embarrassed by the terrible stomach pains that leave me hunched in my office or the room clearing gas. Yes. I said it. I have embarrassing problems with my digestive health. I won’t miss the problems.

Stress is a trigger for me and my crybaby colon…but my doctor’s appointment yesterday opened my eyes to a bigger problem. If I don’t stop poisoning myself with foods that cause so many more problems than just bowel issues, I won’t be healthy.

Going gluten-free is only one solution to the problem. I have to take better care of me.

Gluten-free diet is not a fad diet choice for me

Yes. My weight has fluctuated drastically in my adult years. Announcing today that I have to eat gluten-free foods is not my attempt at riding some fad diet wave to lose weight. I’m sick. Gluten is making me very sick.

I empathize with anyone who suffers from digestion issues. It’s a craptastic way to live.

I didn’t want to blog about weight loss or diets. I am terrible at maintaining my weight losses. I’ve been very successful at losing weight when I get on a health and exercise kick…but then I aways take it a little too far, and bounce back to fat again.

However, I feel like in 2014 that I could have a breakthrough in finally finding a balance to physical health and want to share what I learn. This is not going to be a blog bragging about how my body fits in new clothes, but an honest look at how I take charge of my health.

I will no longer yo-yo back and forth. Join me on the journey.

Gluten-free me in 2014


My last day of 2013 involved a thorough visit to the doctor with my husband. Battling homesickness, hypothyroidism and weight gain (even though I’m active), I may have an allergy to gluten.

Instead of having a resolution to lose weight in 2014, I resolve to completely change my diet.

2013 was such a roller coaster for me. Losing my dad in January 2013 was a very sad time. I can’t believe it has been a year since he has passed, and I miss him very much.

I married my best friend in June and moved to Dallas, Texas. He was offered a job we could not pass up. It is the first time I have lived outside of Indiana, but not his. We had several major life changes in the span of six months. Then, I was unemployed and homesick.

It was a major blessing for Daniel and I when I got a job. Not just a job…I was offered my dream job using my background in social work and my education in journalism. Prayer answered!

Being away from my nephews has been very hard for me. I’ve compensated with a few cookies and movie marathons trying to fill the void. I’m not trying to take the cowards way out of blaming or excusing my behavior for putting on weight, but I had one heck of a year! The holidays are over, and I survived it without hugs and kisses from Barry and Sean.

I am ready for 2014. I am ready to move more, eat less junk food, inspire others again, and to love each day as the gift it is from God.