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Article #13

There has been recent news in the gluten free world surrounding a phrase I coin as "celiac bullying." This type of bullying has actually been around for a while now, but just recently has taken a disturbing turn of events.
Now we have the Today Show hosts poking fun and disrespecting those who have food allergies saying that gluten free men are a "turnoff" to them and those who ask what's in their food are picky eaters and not "manly." Also, the Disney Channel aired an episode of Jessie called "Quitting Cold Koala" that featured some not-so-funny gluten free diet jokes that grossly distorted the seriousness of celiac disease and strict gluten free diets. Luckily, with all the hard work of the celiac community and advocates of legitimate gluten free diets, the Disney Channel has pulled that episode off the air. (Come on, Disney, I expected a little bit more from you than this). Besides these two incidents, I'm hearing news of bullying occurring in middle schools and high schools across the country. Bullying includes anything from throwing gluten filled foods at those who eat gluten free diets, purposefully offering children with celiac disease foods with gluten, and even the unwillingness of adults in those schools to offer proper accommodations to these children.   

Okay, seriously, what is going on with the world today? This is just plain ridiculous. Either us celiacs are getting way too sensitive or the rest of the population is just getting stupider. I'm going to bank on the latter.

Since my diagnosis, I have fortunately been lucky enough to not have experienced much of this "celiac bullying" that is running rampant nowadays. I believe this lack of bullying is because my current surroundings and community are of academia and those who are in higher education tend to have a greater respect for me and my specialized diet. It also helps that I live in Berkeley- a very friendly place for gfreers!

But in all seriousness, this type of bullying is making me lose faith in humanity. I mean, would you poke fun at diabetes or breast cancer? MS or asthma? No, you wouldn't, because these medical conditions are serious and potentially life threatening.

Well, celiac disease is the same. If left untreated, individuals can suffer for their entire lives and end up with life threatening cancers and other diseases. I don't see anyone laughing now.

Gluten free diets are quickly snowballing into another one of Hollywood's infamous fad diets. Well, let me tell  you, it would be absolutely disgusting to see gluten free diets compared to the grapefruit diet. One is essential for those who are diagnosed with celiacs and the other is just one of many failed fad diets followed by the ignorant.

As someone who is diagnosed with celiac disease, and I believe I can speak for T as well, this type of bullying is completely unacceptable and should be stopped immediately. We are talking about influencing the future generation of kids who, if this continues, will think that making fun of kids who can't help their genetics is acceptable and that kids who have celiacs will be forever destined to be ridiculed and brought up in an environment that is not supportive of their needs. It is also scientifically proven that those who have celiac disease tend to have more suicidal thoughts as well and frequently enter into bouts of depression and feelings of low self worth. Think about it. If we let this continue, we may have an even larger issue at hand.

At the end of the day, I'm not trying to point fingers. I fully understand those who are ignorant of celiac disease- hey, I used to be one of them. But, if you don't really know anything about what you're going to talk about, let alone poke fun at, save yourself the embarrassment and just keep your mouth shut.

For those who are being bullied right now or know someone close to you who is, please don't keep silent about it. Tell someone you trust that this is happening- you have a support group out there waiting to help you (including T and myself!!). Keep your head up and stay positive!

Besides, those who bully celiacs now will realize later exactly how idiotic their words and actions were. And if not, don't worry. You can always live with the satisfaction that their stupidity will not go overlooked.

Links to the stories referenced above:
1) Disney channel gluten jokes

2) Hoda and Kathy Lee on the Today Show

Article #12

So, what's the honest answer? Once, twice, three times? Or... is it too many times to possibly count?

Unfortunately, the last answer would be my honest answer. 

And no, I'm not talking about cheating on exams and the sort... well, even if I did, you would never know and I would never tell. 

AHEM. Well, no one's perfect yeah? :p  

Okay, so what am I talking about here? I am talking about cheating on your gluten free diet. 

Cheating, in this case, is purposefully breaking the strict oath you have taken as a gfreer to not consume any gluten containing products or use any dishes/utensils that have potential cross contamination and suffering the consequences afterward. 

Why in the world would anyone want to do that and risk their health?? 

That's actually a really good question to which I have some viable answers: 

First of all, no gfreer wants to be the spotlight of your dinner party/gathering with food. We can't help awkwardly standing out already since we have a restricted diet- yep, we're the ones analyzing the potluck food asking questions about what's in the sauce and holding up the line. <--I'm reallllyy good at that! But, hey sometimes, we cheat. And by cheat I mean if a food looks essentially gluten free except for maybe the sauce, some of us will eat it. I do. Sometimes I feel sick afterward, sometimes I have no reaction. It's really up to my GI tract's mood. The main point is, we do it to fit in. Which brings me to my next point...

Sometimes us gfreers find ourselves in a situation where the words "celiac disease" and "gluten" are non-existent. This has happened to me quite a few times when I eat at Asian restaurants or when I travel to Asian countries. NOBODY, and I repeat, NOBODY will know what you are talking about when you say you get stomach aches when you eat gluten. And although I could give them one of those nifty gfree dining cards, I bet you 10 million (well, if I had that much) that they would give me the wtf face and turn me away. So, what do I do? I cheat. I eat the stuff that's coated with soy sauce (although I try realllly hard to dip it in tea or wipe it off with a napkin before pushing it in my mouth). I eat gluten when I have no other choice. I eat it when it would be rude not to and when I'm not in the position to be making demands for food preparation. I do it so I seem like everyone else and not labeled as a "picky eater." 

I guess it can be difficult for those outside of the celiac circle to fully understand the plights of the gfreer, but I'm not expecting them to know everything there is to know about celiac disease and gluten. Although, if you make an honest and sincere effort to learn about it, let's just say that I will regard you highly. In other words, let's be best friends!! :) 

You know, one of the things I have learned since being on the diet is to be as accommodating and polite as possible while trying my best not to jeopardize my health and well being. One exposure to gluten, depending on the sensitivity of the individual, can take weeks or years to heal. I know that very well, yet I still do it. 

At the end of the day, it's impossible for me to be entirely gluten free unless I live in a cave (aka my apartment) and cook for myself all the time and never go out to eat... ever. And if I did, I would be the weirdo who would whip out some Tupperware, dump it on my plate and call it a day. Heck, maybe I'd eat right out of the container. 

Okay, mayyybe I wouldn't do that. At least not in public. The reality? I'd suggest a change of venue or eat beforehand and suggest a safe dessert place. 

Ahh, the subtle ways us gfreers can manipulate food choices!

Anyway, stay safe all you gfreers out there- make good choices and don't use me as a role model in this case. Everything else nice and good about my habits you can take, but do me a favor and leave my cheating habits behind if you can.  

After all, no one likes a cheater! 


Article #11

I've been on a gluten free diet for an upcoming 3 years now. (Boy, does time fly fast when you're avoiding all that gluten! haha)

ANYWAY, all lame jokes aside, I thought that by now I would know literally everything about gluten.

No, seriously.

If I was put on Jeopardy right now and they gave me this question:
These all have something in common: croutons, soy sauce, pastries, mochi from pinkberry
Without a moment's hesitation, I would answer with a resounding: WHAT IS GLUTEN?  
"Yes, I'll take Food Allergies for $200!"

Okay, that was really random. But, I can say with real honesty, that I am far from knowing everything there is to know about gluten.

However, in my defense, my gluten knowledge has definitely increased since being on the diet for this many sum of years. I have always thought about the accruing of gluten knowledge as power levels. Here's what I mean:

Level 1: Gluten noob 
Face it: you're a noob. You're new to the gluten scene and everything is just a huge question mark. You get paranoid about every single little microscopic thing- does this have gluten, or does that? OMG, my fork just touched your non-gfree pasta!!! Get away from meee- oh and you owe me a new fork because you just contaminated mine *scoff*. PLUS, you think everything about life sucks because you can't eat pizza...and cake.

Level 2: Gluten noob in training
So, you've been on the diet for a couple months or even a year now. Congratulations! At this time, you're now adequately equipped to brave the supermarkets with your new found skills of nutrition label checking and list of red flag vocab words. If there were a subject test on gluten vocabulary, you would ace it.

Level 3: Advanced gluten master 
At this point, you're far past your gluten noob days and you are now well seasoned. You've got a good grasp on what has gluten and what doesn't. You cook your own meals and switched out all your nasty gluten contaminated utensils and dishware with brand new uncontaminated dishes! You've even ventured out to some restaurants and try your hand at using gluten free dining cards and having customized meals. Heck, you could probably hold a small seminar and teach those gluten noobs a thing or two.

Level 4: Gluten NINJA
THE ULTIMATE LEVEL.When you become elevated to the gluten ninja status, which is a difficult thing to attain, you are the sensei of all things gluten. You're on top of the celiac disease news and research, you avoid almost 99.99% of contamination in all the foods you eat, you could easily win a speed game of Does this food product have gluten?, you make your own gfree bread and get this, no one can tell it doesn't have gluten!!!, you are a gluten free/celiac disease advocate and attend all those conferences, you work for Udi's or some other gluten free food industry, you can travel with ease with your planned gluten free itinerary, and finally, you're just cool because you're a ninja. And in what universe is being a ninja not totally awesome? That's right, none.

Unfortunately, I am not a ninja yet. In fact, far from it. But I'd like to think I'm getting a bit closer each and every day.

Anyway, the real point of this post, if there even was one, is to remind all of you out there who either have celiac disease, wheat or gluten intolerance, or have a loved one who has this allergy, that putting a little more positiveness in your life, or their life, never hurt anyone. I love putting a little bit of humor in everything-even my own disease. It makes it easier for me to cope that yes, I have a food allergy, and yes, I do have it for life. But, you know what? I'm perfectly okay with that! :)

The reason why I bring this up is because I've been reading so many blogs and comments lately that just ooze negativity, insecurity, hopelessness and depression over being diagnosed with a food allergy.

Well, I'm telling you now: it could be worse. And I'm saying this in all seriousness.

You are what you are and no amount of whining, complaining, crying or hating on those who don't have what you have is going to change who YOU are. Your biology will not change... but you can change your attitude. I know it's hard; I've been through my fair share of ordeals with the consequences of celiac disease.

But, know that you are never alone. Don't always believe what other people say, even some gfreers, who say that they never found happiness or contentment after they switched to a gfree diet. It all comes down to your outlook on life and what you think about yourself. Don't waste your time being negative when you could be spending your time enjoying and appreciating all the wonderful things about your diet. Sure, things don't always work out, but since when has life always dealt cards in your favor?

My message to you today my fellow gfreers: Accept your biology, appreciate your diet, and most importantly, love yourself fully and completely.

When you open your mind and stop wallowing in self pity and negative emotions about how having a gluten allergen is ruining your life and prospects, you will find that the gfree lifestyle is really not as bad as you think. If you need help, help is always within reach whether in your family, your friends, your faith, and even fellow gfree bloggers like T and I who will never hesitate to help a fellow celiac in need.

Stay positive and keep your head up!


PS. We would love if our readers, (even our silent ones who never comment or follow- we thank you anyways), could give us some feedback on what you would like T and I to talk about. We're pretty open to anything and we want to talk about things all of YOU are interested in. Or else, you'll just get beautiful articles from T and crazy rants and ideas from yours truly. :) Help us out and tell us what you would like to see discussed or ask us questions!!! We love reading all of them!

Article #10

Hi everyone!
I can't believe how fast time flies when midterm season comes around. Fun, I know...

First of all, I want to apologize on the behalf of T and myself for not regularly posting. We are still students after all and school is our number one priority- but we really love getting meaningful and helpful posts out to all of you so we will try harder to update the blog when we can!

In any event, since we are in the season of midterms, stress, and feeling plain overwhelmed with life, I thought it would be appropriate to discuss how we view food during these times.

Think about your responses to these questions and see how many apply to you:
Does food help you de-stress? How so? What about food makes you feel happy or help you cope with something?
Do you eat more unhealthily and infrequently when you're overwhelmed?   
Have you ever skipped meals or fasted because of stress? 
Have you ever overeaten or ate nothing at all because of stress? 
What did you choose to eat when you were crunched on time? How many times was that option a healthy one? 

Okay, so I admit that I'm guilty of a couple of these- I find that during times of stress, I just plain lose my appetite and then experience bouts of hunger at strange hours of the day since my internal food clock is just all out of sync. I seem to always be drinking cups and cups of caffeinated green tea just to calm myself down and so I can stay awake longer to get stuff done!

So, if we are guilty of some or perhaps ALL of these, how can we change our lifestyle and the way we view and interact with food during these times of hardship and worry?

Let me tell you, it's not easy. Often times we sacrifice our health to just "get things done" and we are always in a "go go go" pace of life that never seems to slow down.

But trust me that your body will eventually run out of energy and shut down on you at the most inconvenient moment as long as you continue to abuse it.

You should always remember that stress is temporary, but you only get ONE body- so make it a priority to take care of yourself! No excuses! :)

Here are some healthy eating tips to help you during times of stress:

1) Eat regularly and don't skip meals. 
Okay, so most people know this simple golden rule. But why does the majority of the population never follow it? This is beyond me, but it really does make a difference when you're eating three square meals a day and not skipping meals- granted that these are healthy meals!

2) Avoid eating at night- you should be sleeping! 
Again, another hard thing to do- but I promise your body will thank you in the long run. In fact, if you have weight loss goals in mind or want to maintain your current weight, this is an EVEN better reason why you shouldn't eat late at night. Your body has an internal circadian rhythm that dictates your biological clock (ie. hours of wakefulness and rest, eating hours and digesting hours etc) and if you screw it up essentially by eating food when you're supposed to be sleeping, it will 100% lead to weight gain!

3) Avoid processed foods, foods high in saturated fat and sugar, fried foods, sweets and foods that you know are just plain unhealthy. 
You know what I'm talking about. Even if you're tempted, say bye bye to that ramen, cookies, chocolates and cereal for a late night snack or meal. These foods are calorically dense but full of stuff your body doesn't really want or need. Plus, when you're stressed, these foods do you more harm than you might think. Basically, if you're eating excess carbs, your body will eventually store it as fat (interestingly enough, carbohydrates do not readily turn into fat and vice versa; only in excess does your body need somewhere to store all that glucose, so it's last resort is to make fat).
Cute.. but quite deadly

4) When making healthy choices choose foods like...
Fruits: Apples, bananas, oranges, figs, berries etc (fruits are packed with Vit C and antioxidants- use them to your advantage to fight off colds and nasty flues that tend to fly around during stressful times)

Veggies: Dark leafy greens (spinach, kale, bok choy), tomatoes, carrots, garbanzo beans, lentils, beets. PICK THINGS WITH HIGH FIBER! Try to eat less potatoes (and this means no french fries), lettuce, corn and other veggies that are not as healthy choices.

Grains: Opt for whole wheat instead of white bread, eat brown rice over white rice, and eat quinoa!

Meat: If you eat meat, try for lean chicken meat and avoid eating too much red meat. Also, fish high in omega 3 like salmon and other wild fish are a great source of protein too! Yay for fish!!

Dairy: Eat yogurt that's plain and add fruit and honey instead of eating ice cream and drinking whole milk. Limit sour cream and cream cheese. Don't eat slabs of butter either.

5) Drink water. And lots of it!
Think back on your day and recall how much water you actually drank (not taken in from food). And no, sugar sweetened beverages don't count as water. Turns out that most people don't drink nearly enough water that the body actually needs. In fact, the majority of the U.S. population drinks... you guessed it: SODA. Soda is the number one drink that directly corresponds to the obesity epidemic along with a slew of awesome chronic diseases you get from obesity such as: CVD, atherosclerosis, diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, high LDL and low HDL count etc. And the terrible list goes on...

Do yourself and your body a favor and just stop drinking that stuff! Avoid chocolate flavored milk, energy drinks (Red bull, Gatorade, Monster), juices, alcohol and any other type of sugar sweetened beverage (boba would be a big one here- I'm talking to you Berkeley folk!). Instead, opt for hot tea (no sugar) like green tea or chamomile, plain water and if you must drink milk, try for low fat or non fat milk that is unflavored. You can also try soy, rice, or almond milk but I would be wary and read the nutrition labels carefully!

6) Never abuse food by using it to cope with negative feelings (feelings of worthlessness, pain or anger) 
Abuse of food, in my mind, covers overeating and severely limiting food in times of stress. Both are extremely unhealthy and should not be an option at all. Abusing food won't solve your problems or make them magically go away. Treating food in a positive manner leads to healthier outcomes- don't make food your enemy!  

Along with these simple rules for choosing nutritious foods during stressful times, also remember to get out and MOVE. Exercise is such a wonderful way to let go of stress while keeping yourself fit! Even walking around for 30 minutes a day, playing sports with friends, or dancing that gets your heart rate up is perfect to help you release more endorphins and instantly make you happier if you happen to be depressed, sad, overwhelmed or lonely.  

If you have read this far and can't remember anything else, remember this: Food is powerful.

It is up to you how to utilize food for optimal health and well being.

Make good choices, get adequate sleep and take care of yourself! You are more than whatever you may be facing right now. And as always, it gets better! :)

Good luck to all of you and I'll talk to you very soon!


Article #9

Hi everyone!

I hope all of you are enjoying the 3 day weekend and getting a well deserved rest from your busy schedules. :) 

As you may or may not already know, there's been a crazy amount of media covering the sudden resignation of Pope Benedict that came as a surprise to Catholics all around the world. Now the Vatican is facing the decision to possibly move the date of conclave earlier than March 15 in order to have a leader by mid-March, especially with the recent beginning of Lent and the fast approach of Easter. 

With all this news coverage on the Catholic church, I thought it would be as fitting a time as ever to talk about my experience with gluten free hosts and the controversies behind it. 
Image credit: The Gluten Free Traveller 
I recently came back to my Catholic roots in the summer of 2012 and found myself starting from Square 1. I was baptized in high school and went through the RCIA program at St. Johns in Folsom, CA. But after that, I never went to church, never read the bible, and really didn't have anything to do with religion. I really don't know what was going on in my mind during that time, but after facing a low period in my life and having a faith crisis, I found myself needing the support that religion gave me. 

And now that I have fully immersed myself in my faith and God, life has only gotten better. Of course, there will always be good and bad days and times when I feel that I am experiencing a spiritual dryness, but I always seem to come back- wounded and weak but stronger in faith than before and hopeful in God's forgiveness and promises. 

One of the biggest struggles I had in transitioning back into the Catholic swing of things was the issue with communion and the Eucharist. For Catholics, the Eucharist is the most sacred part of mass and has the power to forgive venial sins. The only problem is that it's made 100% of wheat. 

So, I'm standing at a crossroads: either I take the host and feel sick afterward or I sit passively in the pews watching everyone else receiving the body and blood of Christ even though I am baptized. 

It's kind of a strange position to be in and it's always awkward when you're the only person left sitting and everyone has to try and shuffle past you to get out and get back in. Yeah.... 

Anyway, after attending several masses in which I chose to not go up for communion, I decided that when I joined the church at my college I would do something about this. 

Luckily, the church that I attend in Berkeley is aware of gluten allergies and I was introduced to a nice lady who shared her hosts with me and gave me an extra pyx. The hosts are made by the Benedictine Sisters of Perpetual Adoration. You can check out their website here: http://www.altarbreadsbspa.com/lowgluten.php

They are advertised as having 0.01% or 100 PPM (parts per million) of gluten. It is deemed necessary by the church that all hosts must have wheat/gluten in them since it is believed that Jesus used wheat bread at the Last Supper and so hosts must have the gluten component. 

So what happens if you're super sensitive to gluten and even a minuscule amount will send you flying to the restroom? There have been many hopeful and creative gfreers that have made their own gluten free wafers in their kitchen that they hoped would be acceptable to take during communion. However, there are some church leaders who believe that these hosts cannot count as true hosts and actually forbid their use in certain churches (most notably in Ohio). They rather have Catholic gfreers only take the blood of Christ rather than consume 100% gfree hosts. 

Now, in my opinion, that's a little insensitive to all us gfreers out there that just want to take a full communion like everyone else and not feel awful afterward. But, I also understand and respect their concerns and viewpoints. [Just FYI, in Ohio, the gfree hosts from the Benedictine Sisters are acceptable hosts as deemed by the Catholic diocese in that region].  

Don't you kinda wish God would help eradicate celiac disease so we Catholic gfreers wouldn't have this problem?? (haha) 

But, in all seriousness, we are what we are and we eat what we can eat. I'm already very fortunate that my church is aware of gluten allergies and has supported me in this regard. 

However, this is not the case in many churches in the U.S. and even overseas. 

I may or may not have mentioned in my previous posts on eating gluten free in HK that I had a difficult time taking communion while I was there. In fact, the church I went to flat out rejected my request to take the host during the mass. The Father there kept repeating to me that he was not aware of gluten or wheat allergies and simply could not accommodate me. Well, it was wishful thinking on my part that I would be able to take my hosts in HK, but in all fairness to him, I did go last minute before mass and ask and since he was unfamiliar with the protocol we have in my church, he just didn't want to risk doing something wrong and be downright confused as to what to do with my pyx. 

Yes, I admit I was frustrated as hell and I was thinking some pretty hateful things in my mind IN CHURCH (I was staring at the confession booth feeling guilty the whole time during mass). Needless to say, I never went back to that church during the rest of my vacation and skipped out on mass. 

So if you're planning on vacationing overseas and wish to take your pyx and gfree hosts with you, just know that most churches are unfamiliar with the words "gluten free" combined with "host". They often times think your pyx is for someone else and will just make you more frustrated than not. I would just recommend taking the wine or just being at mass is good enough too. 

I'm really just thankful at the end of the day that, even though I was frustrated and angry for that one moment, I was able to tell someone about gluten free hosts and the prevalence of celiac disease. Heck, who knows if I go back in another 10 years, they may have more knowledge about it! 

If you're Catholic, on a gfree diet, and haven't been taking the host because you weren't aware of gfree hosts, here's what I recommend: 

1) Get in contact with the Father at your church diocese. You may get lucky like I did and some are aware of gfree hosts, but just in case they are not, they can still help you make special arrangements so that you can take part in the Eucharist. 

2) If you have been strictly taking the wine, try to sit near the front or volunteer to be a Eucharistic minister so you can get first dibs on the wine. You want to minimize or eliminate the cross contamination from all the other people who eat the host and then drink the wine. As gross as this sounds, crumbs and particles of gluten from the hosts will fall in the wine and you drink just a tiny sip and if you're super sensitive... let's just say you won't be spending the rest of your time sitting in the pews but rather sitting in the bathroom. 

3) If your church is aware or willing to accommodate you and your gfree pyx (awesome for you!), then usually what you can do is that you put your pyx up on the alter before mass starts and inform the Father who will be presiding over the mass that you are taking a special host. What he will do is that during communion, he will put your pyx with the rest of the hosts in the bowl and when you come up to him, he'll either give you the whole pyx (with the host inside) or will put the host in your hand or mouth and then give you your pyx back. It's really not as complicated as I make it sound and once you've gone a couple times, they recognize you and your signature pyx. It's helpful to put your name on the bottom and introduce yourself to the Fathers at your church so they associate you with the special host that magically appears on the alter whenever you're present at mass. 

There have been times when this system has not worked out for me- I like to think of it as some minor troubleshoot problems. Sometimes the Fathers forget to put the pyx into the bowl and walk away from the alter so when you come up, you stand there awkwardly and say, "Uhh, can I get my pyx?" while stalling the huge line behind you or someone besides the Father gives you communion and then says they can't accommodate you until they finish giving the host to everyone else (this happened to me and let's just say this was another one of those unhappy Kris moments...) or you talked to the Father before mass started and made sure they knew that that pyx was yours and when you went up, they proceeded to give you the regular host. 

All of these I've experienced first hand-which is why I can explain them in crystal clear detail. All have varying levels of unpleasant feelings, but hey, I try my best and they try their best. You gotta cut them some slack... and so I do. It's a hit or miss, but most times, I hope for a hit. 

Anyway, I would love to hear from you guys about your experiences or lack thereof regarding gfree hosts. Let me know if you have any questions/comments and I would be happy to give you my honest opinion or at the very least try to help a fellow gfreer out. 

God bless all of you during the Lenten season- may we all learn to love more, bear less negativity in our lives, and give more than we receive. I will be praying for all of you and I ask that you will pray for me too! 



Article #8

With Valentine's Day quickly approaching, I find myself thinking about all the relationships in my life and really how much I appreciate and love each and every one of them.

The one that happens to be on my mind today is my relationship with my diet.

If I had to say one thing about my diet it would be that it's a blessing and a curse. Most days, I thank the Heavens that I am avoiding foods that cause me pain; but other days, I want to be a different person, free of this disease, and able to enjoy all of the wonderful foods that I'm missing out on by cutting out gluten.

But no matter what I do, having celiac disease and eating a gluten free diet is a fact that is never going to change. It is something I can't separate from myself and something that won't go away even if I simply pray about it. Being gluten intolerant defines who I am as a person. It simultaneously challenges yet delights, frightens yet calms, segregates yet incorporates.

You can think about it in two ways:
1) You can define yourself as having celiac disease and willingly choose to be separated from the rest of the gluten filled world  OR

2) You can join all those in the celiac community who love and support you and even find people who don't have celiacs to hop on your diet bandwagon.

It all comes down to your mindset. Having celiac disease is not a crutch and it doesn't have to be a scary or negative thing. I like to think of it as your body telling you how to properly take care of itself. Your body wants you to love and nourish yourself so that you can reach your full potential.

I understand that having celiacs is a tough thing to deal with everyday. It's not something you can brush under your carpet or tuck away in your closet and hope it won't appear. It follows you everywhere and demands your undying attention.    

But it doesn't have to be this way.

Embrace your diet and embrace yourself. My message to you today is to love yourself and every little aspect -perfections and imperfections. When you truly love yourself, others will naturally love you too (and this doesn't just go for food allergies!)

And so I encourage you to, during this week leading up to Valentine's Day, think about your relationship with your diet. Has it been one of positivism or one of neglect?

I actually want to take this time to thank everyone in my life who has supported me thus far from first diagnosis to present. It has been a tough journey, but one that is filled with love and hope.

Thank you to...

My family (my mom, dad and sister, Carmen) who has been with me since day 1. Thank you for all your love and support- I couldn't have done this without you. I also especially want to thank my mother for transitioning her kitchen to be one that is gluten free and for buying me all those gfree snacks that I love!

My best friend, T. You're my inspiration and guidance. You have always been there for me and are my gfree buddy. I love you and I can't wait for more food adventures to come!

My faith and God. It has been a hard road, but my renewal in faith and God's love for me has helped me tremendously in accepting myself and my dietary restrictions. I also thank all the wonderful people at my church who love and support me. I am so glad to have met them and am forever grateful for their friendship.

My blog readers! To all of you who have followed and supported T and I in our gfree ventures and haphazard posting, I thank you from the bottom of my heart. We may not have thousands of followers on facebook or millions of page views, but to me, all of you are precious and have a special place in my heart. Please continue to support and spread the news about celiac disease and gluten free diets! All of you are awesome! *virtual hug*

And so I end my post by saying that this was indeed a sappy one. But in the spirit of Valentine's day, I think you can cut me some slack and allow me to be sentimental just this once.

Have a wonderful Valentine's Day everyone! Love yourself and love life!

Until next time,

Article #7

So, I'm not one to make or keep up with New Years Resolutions, but if there's one thing that I want to do this year is to start taking control of my diet (contrary to the above cartoon). And what I mean by this is trying to eat healthier in the face of an increasingly unhealthy world.

Now we all know that eating a gluten free diet is a tough thing to do, especially when you're brand new at it.

But, if you're anything like me and you've been on your gfree diet for a while, but it's starting to creepily look like the unhealthy junk food diet you once had when you were eating wheat... I think there may be a problem.

Even tougher for me is the fact that I'm still in college and unhealthy food choices are EVERYWHERE. You just can't escape it in a college town like Berkeley, especially when you've finished with a long day of classes, volunteering, work and studying and you just want to have a quick meal. What are you going to do?

Well, what most college students do. Buy takeout and eat it on the go.

Luckily for me, I try to limit my time eating out because,
1) It's expensive and
2) It's unhealthy

Although I can successfully check off on my to-do list, "Only eat out once a week", with relative ease, I unfortunately cannot say the same about my diet when I cook in my apartment.

If I were to open my fridge or freezer right now, I'll most likely see lots of carbs. And by lots, I mean a chalk full amount.

Well, carbs aren't bad by any means. But, a diet mostly on carbs and limited fats and protein? Mmhmm... not so balanced I might say.

It's difficult because many of my go-to breakfast foods are waffles, bagels, sliced bread and cereal and lunch consists of pasta and some meat and veggies and dinner, well if I don't wolf down all of lunch, I can maybe salvage some leftovers for dinner.

Well, no more!

I really want to put in a honest effort, at least for this semester, to try to convert many of the foods I'm eating into healthier alternatives and if you're anything like me, I encourage you to do the same.

Besides, it's about time we treat our bodies right with good nutritiously dense foods to help you gain/lose the amount of weight you want, feel better, and have a positive attitude towards everyday life. Believe in the incredible power of food! :)

Here's how I plan to change things:

1) Don't eat straight carbs- throw in some healthy proteins and fats for a well- rounded diet. 
So I was in lecture today for one of my upper division nutrition classes, and the topic of a fruitarian diet came up. And as you would have guessed, it's a diet based on fruit, and fruit alone. I love fruit, but does it make sense to only eat fruits, all day everyday? Please, for your own sake, don't do it. I've heard of people's bones becoming so brittle because of the lack of calcium on this diet that a small impact will instantly crush their bones. If that doesn't scare the crap out of you, I don't know what will! ANYWAY, that was a tangent. But it's relevant to what I want to advise you on.

Never follow those ridiculous fad diets- they never work and you only lose water weight and lean muscle tissue. Both are bad, trust me. Learn how to look at your own diet and make changes that you know intuitively and instinctively are good for you. For example...

If you're eating a piece of toast or waffles: Don't eat it plain. That little piece of bread/waffle is gonna flush right out leaving you hungry in less than a hour. Put some healthy nut butter (peanut butter) that has low sugar and no added jams. That means bye bye Skippy. Go for all natural and organic. A good rule of thumb is that the lesser the ingredients, the better off you are. Fry an egg and if adventurous, throw in some bacon or sausage to give you enough energy to power through to lunch.

If you're eating cereal: Throw in some fresh fruit, like a banana, to compliment the meal and milk. Try and drink low fat or non-fat milk or other low fat milk alternatives (soy, rice, almond- check the sugar levels!) if you're trying to maintain your weight and regular milk if you're trying to gain weight. Bananas are especially packed with Potassium and other great nutrients that will stimulate and keep your brain active. Perfect for staying awake in that 2 hour lecture...

If you're eating pasta: Pasta is the staple food for most college kids. Even for me! I couldn't go a day without having my beloved Trader Joe's corn pasta (which is amazingly affordable!!). But, if you're going to have pasta, make sure to throw in plenty of good stuff like protein/fat (ground meat or chicken) and veggies or if you're vegetarian/vegan, make sure to put in lots of vegetables and other protein sources that will get you full!

2) Skip the gfree junk food
 I'm guessing in an attempt to make gfreers everywhere not feel so miserable about the fact that they can no longer eat a bag of Sun Chips or a Krispie cream donut, a plethora of gfree food companies have started to mass produce unhealthy gfree alternatives. So the whole thing about how gfree diets are  totally healthy? Well, maybe not.

I know for a fact that there are now gfree cookies, pastries, cakes, cupcakes etc that are designed to make even the most religious gfree eater take a second glance. These new foods, just because they are marked as gluten free, does NOT give you any excuse to eat them. They are still unhealthy. Do yourself a favor (and I say this to myself as well), don't eat unhealthy junk food even if you can eat it without harming yourself in the short run. In the long run, all these sugary, high caloric junk foods that are gluten free can also land you in the hospital for diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and a whole world of fun stuff.

My suggestion is to, if you must snack, eat raw nuts (like almonds, cashews, walnuts, pistachios) to get a pack of energy and healthy fats. These little babies will give you a boost of energy and will keep you fuller, longer. If you're not a nuts person, eat fruit or "healthier" snack options like whole grain flax seed chips or tortilla chips with homemade guacamole. Yay, avocados!

3) Eat out only once a week, and try to make it healthy! 
So, you must be thinking...Kris is so evil as to say even on my day off I have to eat healthy. Can't I indulge for just one meal??? Well, I'm guilty of having some delicious fries or a huge platter of carnitas on my day off, so there's no reason why you shouldn't either. I mean, we have discretionary calories for a reason right?

In any case, who said that eating out had to be unhealthy? It's the choices you make that determine if your day off will be something you won't regret stuffing your face with. For myself, I have really no self control when I eat out, since I'm on an ongoing quest to gain weight. But for those who are on the gfree diet and would like to not gain some extra weight on your belly or thighs, you need to watch what you're eating all the time. No excuses.

I'm not putting myself off the hook either. Eating out and eating healthy are two things that can go together. You just gotta put in the effort.

Try for non-greasy types of foods as much as possible. Keep it light. Instead of eating a gfree pizza (delish I know), try for a salmon salad with vinaigrette instead. You get the healthy omega 6, greens and not a whole lots of calories from the light dressing. If you order a meat dish, don't just eat all the meat in one go! Eat half and eat more veggies and a moderate amount of grains- save the other half for leftovers.

Also, be wary of sauces! It's always better to go without sauce than with it when you're eating out. Salt and pepper is the way to go if you're counting calories and to be safe.

Skip desserts unless its fruit or low sugar yogurt (Plain greek yogurt is great too- just add some fresh fruit and honey and you're good to go)!

Don't drink soda (it's causing the obesity epidemic quite directly)- drink water or freshly squeezed juice (if you're trying to gain weight). Avoid adding additional sugars and creamers to coffee as much as possible (if you're counting calories, avoid the fraps even though they are heaven!) and limit sugary smoothies and boxed juices/vitamin water/gatorade... all that fun stuff.

You'll find that the more you practice eating healthy and changing some of your unhealthy choices into healthy ones that you'll feel much much better and carry out a healthier lifestyle even after you leave college.

And I hereby give the Kris and T seal of approval to have ONE special high calorie, sugary deliciously unhealthy dessert for a special occasion or to reward yourself for hard work for the week. Because I know as students, we would all appreciate some yummy ice cream from time to time without feeling too guilty.

Article #6

With Valentine's Day quickly approaching, I find myself thinking about all the relationships in my life and really how much I appreciate and love each and every one of them.

The one that happens to be on my mind today is my relationship with my diet.

If I had to say one thing about my diet it would be that it's a blessing and a curse. Most days, I thank the Heavens that I am avoiding foods that cause me pain; but other days, I want to be a different person, free of this disease, and able to enjoy all of the wonderful foods that I'm missing out on by cutting out gluten.

But no matter what I do, having celiac disease and eating a gluten free diet is a fact that is never going to change. It is something I can't separate from myself and something that won't go away even if I simply pray about it. Being gluten intolerant defines who I am as a person. It simultaneously challenges yet delights, frightens yet calms, segregates yet incorporates.

You can think about it in two ways:
1) You can define yourself as having celiac disease and willingly choose to be separated from the rest of the gluten filled world  OR

2) You can join all those in the celiac community who love and support you and even find people who don't have celiacs to hop on your diet bandwagon.

It all comes down to your mindset. Having celiac disease is not a crutch and it doesn't have to be a scary or negative thing. I like to think of it as your body telling you how to properly take care of itself. Your body wants you to love and nourish yourself so that you can reach your full potential.

I understand that having celiacs is a tough thing to deal with everyday. It's not something you can brush under your carpet or tuck away in your closet and hope it won't appear. It follows you everywhere and demands your undying attention.    

But it doesn't have to be this way.

Embrace your diet and embrace yourself. My message to you today is to love yourself and every little aspect -perfections and imperfections. When you truly love yourself, others will naturally love you too (and this doesn't just go for food allergies!)

And so I encourage you to, during this week leading up to Valentine's Day, think about your relationship with your diet. Has it been one of positivism or one of neglect?

I actually want to take this time to thank everyone in my life who has supported me thus far from first diagnosis to present. It has been a tough journey, but one that is filled with love and hope.

Thank you to...

My family (my mom, dad and sister, Carmen) who has been with me since day 1. Thank you for all your love and support- I couldn't have done this without you. I also especially want to thank my mother for transitioning her kitchen to be one that is gluten free and for buying me all those gfree snacks that I love!

My best friend, T. You're my inspiration and guidance. You have always been there for me and are my gfree buddy. I love you and I can't wait for more food adventures to come!

My faith and God. It has been a hard road, but my renewal in faith and God's love for me has helped me tremendously in accepting myself and my dietary restrictions. I also thank all the wonderful people at my church who love and support me. I am so glad to have met them and am forever grateful for their friendship.

My blog readers! To all of you who have followed and supported T and I in our gfree ventures and haphazard posting, I thank you from the bottom of my heart. We may not have thousands of followers on facebook or millions of page views, but to me, all of you are precious and have a special place in my heart. Please continue to support and spread the news about celiac disease and gluten free diets! All of you are awesome! *virtual hug*

And so I end my post by saying that this was indeed a sappy one. But in the spirit of Valentine's day, I think you can cut me some slack and allow me to be sentimental just this once.

Have a wonderful Valentine's Day everyone! Love yourself and love life!

Until next time,

Article #5 

Hey everyone!

I realized that I haven't written a post in forever, (thankfully my dear friend T was able to post one out for you all recently) and for that, please accept my little apology. :)

Anyway, I was struck with the inspiration of sorts to write about cross contamination because 1) We haven't really covered too much about cross contamination and its potential dangers since our blog's inception, and 2) My experiences at church prompted this topic.

In talking about the latter point, as I was sitting in church today and mass came to the point when the congregation was about to take part in the Eucharistic sacrament, I realized that all those, like me, who have gluten allergies cannot take part in eating the body and drinking the blood of Christ without risk of some serious gluten contamination. Firstly, for all those who don't already know, when Christians take communion, the communion wafer is made of wheat and the wine is, at least in Catholic church, poured in one cup that is communally shared. Many tend to take both the bread and wine and so when they drink the wine, the crumbs from the wafer may slip into the drink or even worse, they actually dip the entire wafer into the cup thereby contaminating it even further! So... I have now reverted to sitting in the pews patiently waiting until that part of mass ends.

Although this is unfortunate, I do know of the existence of gluten free communion wafers, so I should probably get my hands on some!

In talking about cross contamination, the key things to know are that...
1) Cross contamination is EVERYWHERE
2) Even if it is tedious, take precaution and if in doubt, do whatever it takes to ensure that what you're eating is free of contaminants before you put it in your mouth!

You may ask, "Okay, so if cross contamination is everywhere, how can I possibly avoid everything??"
The truth is, you can't. Since cross contamination IS everywhere, it is almost impossible to be 100% safe unless you're eating at home where you can control what you're eating and how it is prepared. So, let's start there.

1) If you're new to being gluten free, first, welcome to the community! Second, it is wise to change out ALL your silverware, glasses, utensils and pots/pans that you used to cook your previous gluten filled meals. All of those kitchenware items have a degree of cross contamination from the gluten, EVEN if you have washed it a bunch of times. To be perfectly safe, change them. However, if you are wary to throw out your favorite dishes and utensils (I can totally understand), you may choose to keep them and wash them with a NEW sponge in hot water and then run it again in the dishwasher. For me, I didn't have the heart to throw my dishware away and I also am not as sensitive as others, so I cleaned them to the best of my ability and I have not yet suffered any maladies (keeping my fingers crossed!).

2) If you're living with someone else or you live with your family whom is not eating gluten free, prepare some utensils and cooking ware that is dedicated just for you and inform your loved ones NOT to use it. Try placing it in a separate cabinet also, AWAY from their stuff. Distance is key :)

3) For all the shared food items, such as butter, jams and jellies, or anything that a gluten filled knife can contaminate, I would get a new jar for your own use or get a new jar and don't let your loved ones double dip! To be safe, I recommend getting your own jars/containers and marking it with your name.

4) Get your own small gfree refrigerator. No longer do you run the risk of your loved ones using your stuff when you can just store it all away in your own personal fridge! Now, isn't that nice! This is my personal favorite tip and most recommended!

5) Have a designated "gfree" cabinet or pantry shelf where you can put all your lovely gfree snacks and food goodies. Minimize the risk!

1) If you're planning on going out, but you know, since Kris told you, that cross contamination is everywhere, try to eat at home before heading out to a night with friends. It's safer, you run less of a risk of falling ill, and you save money! Now that's always a plus.

2) Not sure where your friends are heading to eat? Refer to tip 1 in this section or if you're in a rush, pack some snacks in your purse/bag and get filled up that way.

3) If you're not as sensitive, like me, eating out is okay once in a while. Always remember to double check with the chef how the food is prepared, the ingredients, and also, if they wouldn't mind to use new, clean utensils to cook your meal. I know this sounds like a huge deal (and probably somewhat of an inconvenience to them, but it's for your health, so take every precaution!) If they're accommodating, make sure to leave a nice tip to show that you appreciate their concern and that they took the time to make accommodations for you. Not all restaurants and chefs are nice, so if you happen to get a good one, he/she is a keeper!

4) Take your dining card with you when you eat. Here's a link for a dining card written in English: http://www.celiactravel.com/file_uploads/cards/english-gluten-free-restaurant-card.pdf
I found that it is SUPER important to tell the waiter that you have a food allergy and you'll get really sick. For example, if you want to order a salad with no croutons, but you don't say why, they may assume that you're just watching your weight or simply dislike croutons. They won't take it that seriously and there may be risk of some croutons placed haphazardly in your salad, and then just picked out before they give it to you. (Trust me, this happens quite frequently!!). If you present them the card, it just saves SO much time and explanation on your part and probably less confusion on theirs.

1) A naturally gluten free snack is NOT safe to eat if it has been processed on the same machinery as wheat or gluten byproducts. ALWAYS CHECK YOUR LABELS!

What tips do you guys have to minimize cross contamination? Comment below or on our facebook page!

Also, feel free to let me or T know what topics YOU would like us to talk about. Drop us a comment or email us. We love to hear from you guys!! :)

Eat safely and have a wonderful week!

Article #4 

Hi everyone!
 Kris is back! Yep, I have somehow managed to survive this dreadful midterm season with my mind still somewhat intact, although the extent to which is questionable...

Anyway, I wanted to share with all of you my opinions on something that may not seem at ALL related to eating and living gluten free and that is the topic of DATING.

But, let's kick it up a notch and talk not only about dating, but dating while being gfree. I can't take 100% credit for thinking of this topic as it was already extensively discussed in GlutenDude's blog post, however, I would still like to offer some of my ideas and viewpoints. So, let's go!

Let's face the truth: dating is hard with a food allergy.

Anyone who has a food allergy or knows someone who does has a pretty good idea about what types of challenges arise when eating out. The obstacles almost quadruple when you're eating out with someone that you may potentially have an interest in. What are some of these challenges? For example:

  • The person who has the food allergy has to be in control of selection of restaurants pretty much all the time
  • Eating a dish you may not be 100% sure is gluten free may make you sick or seriously hurt thus leading to embarrassment and worse, hospitalization
  • The other person doesn't express any interest in learning about your diet
  • Dining cards have a certain kind of negative stigma (what I mean by this is the idea of "fussiness" that may cause annoyance to your date, although if that was the case, I certainly would end the date early!)
These and many more may and probably do plague the minds of gluten free eaters everywhere (and this can also be extended towards all people with food allergies!)

Dating already has the inherent pressure of trying to impress your date with the least amount of embarrassment as possible, but when you add having to deal with a food allergy on top of that...you can imagine that it can get messy really quickly.

I have also heard of concerns not really related to eating out such as Why would someone date me if they can date someone who is healthy? or I can't relate to people who don't have the same food allergy or who understands what I deal with on a daily basis. 

All of these concerns are legitimate, BUT I would encourage my fellow gfreers to not set limits to who they should date simply because of their food allergies. Remember, food allergies do not define who you are as a person but it is simply something that you must avoid for your health. Never think that you are not "worthy" to date someone simply because you have an illness or condition. Whoever your interest happens to be, they should be someone who can appreciate, respect, and love you for who you are and that includes your food allergies and diet. If your interest does not show any concern for your allergy and your health, you should probably reconsider this person as the "one", if you know what I mean.

So how do we, as steadfast gfreers, abide by our gfree eating laws while still managing to have a good time with our potential interest? Here are some tips that I hope can help you out!

TIP 1: Surprise them!
 If he/she can't surprise you with a date at a restaurant of their choice, surprise them! If you have the choice of restaurant and they don't seem to have a preference, make the choice for them and I'm sure they will love whatever you surprise them with. You can rest assure that the food is safe for you and I guarantee your efforts will make your date smile.

TIP 2: Be 1/2 full before your date 
Group date and not sure where you're eating? Eat beforehand and bring snacks in your bag!

TIP 3: Order before you go
 If you don't like the stigma or the time it takes to explain the dining card/gfree diet to the chef, make plans to go beforehand to a restaurant that you trust and tell them the specifications for what foods are safe for you to eat. So, when you get there with your date, you can get your food all ready to go without the hassle and explanation! (Make sure to choose a restaurant that you trust can prepare your food with minimal cross contamination).

TIP 4: Minimally explain, maximally listen
If your date expresses interest in learning about your diet or celiac disease, feel free to give them the basic rundown. Don't be a motormouth and go into the specific details of your symptoms because they are not your doctor or counselor, so withholding some information would be to your benefit. Remember, you're trying to impress him/her! ;)

TIP 5: Always offer to pay
If your meal is specially prepared and perhaps costs a bit more than your date's meal, do not expect him/her to pay for your meal! If they offer to pay, you can accept within limits, but make sure to get the bill the next time around! Dates love when you at least offer to pay even though they have already planned to pay beforehand.

TIP 6: Be understanding.
Celiac disease and gluten free diets are still unknown to most of the population with the exception to those in the community. If your date has never heard of it at all, don't immediately judge or dislike them for not knowing. Remember, that perhaps you were once in the group that was in the dark about this condition too!

TIP 7: Never sacrifice your health to impress your date. 
Your health is your number one priority, no matter how cool or good looking your date is, always make sure that whatever you consume is safe. Don't take chances so you won't get sick!  

I hope that these tips and some of my personal life advice on love and dating can help some of you get out there are start your dating lives without fear of having to deal with the issues involving food allergies and your health. When you break it down, it's really not that bad.

What are some of your tips on dating and eating out?

Think positive, eat safely, and take care.

Until next time,

Article #3
Hello everyone!
Just wanted to post a quick little something for all of you since I finally have a short break from school.
I love Labor Day!! :) 

The topic of interest today: Think a food item is gluten free? Think again! Here is a list of 5 commonly mistaken foods that are thought to be gluten free, but really are not.

1) Soy Sauce

 Ahh, soy sauce. The essence of being Asian and foundation of pretty much all Asian foods. Unfortunately, the name is misleading to many newcomers to the gluten free diet.

Soy sauce (besides the soy component) actually contains wheat. Goodbye late night Chinese take out!

As a rule of thumb, it is best to stay away from Chinese, Japanese, and Korean restaurants because of the risk of cross contamination. But, if you are dying for that salty flavor, try wheat free Tamari soy sauce or fish sauce for that interesting kick to your dish. You can find the fish sauce at pretty much any Asian grocery store. However, the Tamari you may have to order online or, if you're lucky like me, I was able to find mine at a Japanese grocery store for a decent price. Best thing is that it tastes exactly like the regular soy sauce, but without all that nasty gluten! Yay!

2) Beer
Beer: the epitome of college drinking life and a permanent resident of every sports bar in the nation. Lucky for me, I really dislike the taste of beer, but for those who like beer and are gfree, sorry to burst your bubble, but most, if not all, beers are not gluten free.

Beer is made from the saccharification (breaking down of a complex carbohydrate into simple sugars)  of starch and the fermentation of the resulting sugar. The starch and saccharification enzymes are usually derived from malted cereal grains like malted barley or malted wheat.
Still love beer? Have no fear! (I crack myself up on how cheesy I am)! There is gfree beer out on the market and in some select, probably very posh, city bars so go out there and enjoy your gfree beer.

3) Rice Krispies
Remember having rice krispies treats as a kid? I sure do!

When I found out that I couldn't have rice krispies treats anymore, a little part of me died inside. They were my number one, all time favorite dessert!

Unfortunately, the original rice krispies is not gluten free. They contain malt flavoring which is derived from barley- a definite gluten free eater no no.

BUT, there's good news! Kelloggs recently developed a Gluten Free Rice Krispies cereal so all of us gfree folk who love our rice krispies can once again enjoy the "snap, crackle, pop" in all its glory. :)

4) Mochi
 I want to bring special attention to Mochi, a traditional Japanese dessert.

True Mochi made in Japan or made from an authentic source should NOT have any gluten components as it is made from glutenous rice or sweet rice and covered with rice flour, corn starch or potato starch to prevent it sticking to its packaging and your fingers!

However, this popular American brand sold in chain stores is not gluten free. The outside coating contains wheat flour so be wary of this brand before you think it's gluten free and eat it!

I learned the hard way because I made some bad assumptions and I ended up not feeling too well.

Lesson learned: always check labels!!

5) Oats
Oats have been a controversial topic in the gluten free community for quite some time. But now there is a definite consensus that commercial oats are NOT gluten free.

Oats themselves are not really the issue, but it is mainly the cross contamination that is dangerous for gluten free eaters.

If you love oats in your desserts and breakfast, make sure to purchase certified gluten free oats and not the regular Quaker brand so you can enjoy the wonderful health benefits from oats without all the pain and nastiness that the cross contaminated oats do to your gut!

The bottom line is to always check your labels, EVEN if you are almost 99.9999% that it can't possibly contain gluten. Never assume, always be cautious. If you have questions about whether a product is gfree or not, call up the company and ask. It is never asking too much to make sure the foods you eat are safe for you.

Okay, that's all for now. I hope this has been helpful in some way or at least enlightening? Let me know in the comments below and see you all next time!

Eat safely and take care,

Article #2
Calling out all Celiacs, gluten intolerant, and wheat sensitive folks! Kimchi could be the answer!

First of all what is Kimchi?
Kimchi is a Korean side dish of fermented vegetables, Napa cabbage being the most common and popular. Kimchi is served at nearly every meal in Korea and is a staple in Korean diet.  
Napa Cabbage Kimchi
I recently started eating Kimchi regularly and I noticed that my digestion and bloaty-ness has greatly improved. It might take some getting use to, especially if you are foreign to a lot of Asian spices but hopefully by the end of this post I will have convinced you enough to go out and try it!

What else is in it?
The most common type of Kimchi consists of Napa cabbage brined with scallions, chili peppers, spices (red pepper flakes), ginger, garlic, and sometimes shrimp or fish sauce.
Typical ingredients for Kimchi
How does it help Digestion?
The fermentation process that the vegetables go through is what makes Kimchi so good for digestion. Specifically the lactobacillus that is most commonly found in yogurt, but well fermented Kimchi actually contains more lactic acid bacteria than most store bought yogurt. So for those who are lactose intolerant or sensitive to diary products Kimchi is a great alternate way to receive bacteria lactobacillus’s benefits.
Some of Lactobacillus's benefits in the digestive system:
- Helps alleviates Crohn's Diesease
- Inflammation of the colon
- Diarrhea
- Acid Reflux
- Bloating
- CD

Kimchi’s nutritional profile is so diverse; it pretty much has the entire vitamin alphabet (okay I’m joking, but it contains most of them :P)It is high in vitamin A, B, C, and Beta Carotene plus the vitamins double after 3 weeks of fermentation.
Kimchi was named the World’s Healthiest Foods by Health magazine. The link to the article is below:
High in fiber, low in sugar and fat, naturally gluten free, and a vitamin powerhouse, KIMCHI might be the next super food. Ya never know! J 

How does it REALLY taste?
Okay enough with all the health talk; you guys want to know if it actually tastes good right?!
It sorta tastes like sauerkraut on steroids and 5x more spicier. To me it is the perfect balance of sour, spicy, and salty. If the Kimchi has not been fermented too long the cabbage is crisp and has a bite to it, the longer it ferments the smell becomes more pungent and fragrant.
Fermentation Process
Kimchi's strong smell and distinctive taste might take some getting used to, but once you try it a couple of times it is incredibly addicting!!!  Trust me...my family thinks I've gone a bit over board, but hey if it helps with my digestion I'll eat it! :D
Are you eating your Kimchi?!  LOL
Please feel free to comment below telling us what foods works/helps your digestion or whatever gfree goodies you have in mind!


Article #1 
12 Reasons why Switching to a Gfree Diet could be one of the Best Decisions You've Ever Made

Call it a fad, but gluten free diets are becoming the new "it" thing to try. For celiacs, there is no choice but to live everyday gluten free. However, for those out there looking to be healthier through a different approach than turning to weight loss programs and so called "miracle drugs," going gfree might be something to consider. 

After doing some research and scoping out some sites on what they have to say about the benefits of switching to a gfree diet, here are the highlights of what I found as well as my two cents on it:  

    Benefits of Switching to a Gluten Free Diet
    1) Relieve symptoms of celiac disease and gluten sensitivity
    This is a no brainer to those who battle with celiac's on a everyday basis. I've heard testimonial after testimonial saying that once people switch over to eating gluten free, they find almost immediate relief! I can testify to that too!! Goodbye pain and bloating!  :) 
    2) Clear up complexion
    When I read this one, I was surprised that I didn't realize it before. After switching to a gluten free diet, I had found that I broke out less and if I did, it would not be as severe as in the past. I'm sure people who suffer from acne problems can find some improvement after eliminating gluten from their diet- if anything, you're taking away much of the world of processed food as well as anything that is deep fried and battered (all things that normally make you break out!) 
3) Ward away depression
Now here's an interesting one. When I think back on my days fighting and trying to endure crippling stomach cramps and being downright uncomfortable, I was seriously a depressed person. I mean, everyone suffers from or has experienced some form and level of depression due to life's many stresses, but I never realized that gluten, the very thing I was ingesting on a day to day basis, caused me to be in a constant state of depression. Now that I'm on the gfree diet, I found that I can cope with things better and find alternative ways to release stress. Being healthy really DOES make a difference in how you perceive life!

4) Improve digestion
Once your body detoxes from all the gluten and the nastyness, your stomach and intestines will pay you back handsomely. They'll return the love and help digestion to go much smoother-aka your bathroom trips will be quick and easy, if you know what I mean! ;)

5) Decrease symptoms of autism, Type 1 and 2 diabetes, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson's, rheumatoid arthritis, Down's syndrome, and osteoporosis
It has been found that gfree diets can provide relief for all these terrible diseases. Who'd have thought?

6) Healthy Weight loss/ Healthy Weight gain
For those who suffer from celiacs or wheat sensitivity, you may be like me and be incredibly skinny for no apparent reason even though you eat like a horse at every meal. If you're like me, it is so so hard to gain even a pound of weight. When you suffer from celiac disease, and you don't know it and continue to eat gluten, the gluten does terrible things to your intestine. In your intestine, you have millions of villi which are tiny, microscopic appendages that absorb the nutrients from food that pass through your intestine. However, in celiacs, the gluten is the foreign invader and the body sends out signals to attack it, causing our poor villi to die off and be flattened, thus being unable to absorb proper nutrients like normal folk. This is why many people who have celiacs are so skinny that we look anorexic. But, I assure you, that is not the case. Going to a gfree diet allows our intestine to take the time to heal (healing can take up to a year and longer depending on how severe the damage is!) and so that after some time has passed, we can finally start to absorb a good amount of nutrients like everyone else and hopefully gain some healthy weight! For those who are overweight, switching to a gfree diet can help with that goal. However, a word of caution: going gfree does not necessarily mean it is always healthy. A gfree diet can be very healthy or extremely unhealthy. There's two ends to the spectrum. There are a plethora of gfree snack foods out on the market now that are not healthy to eat, trust me. A gfree diet is high in carbs (mostly from rice and corn derivatives) and protein since wheat is completely cut off. Choosing to eat fresh fruits and vegetables is always the best way to go instead of processed gfree food! If you're trying to lose weight through a gluten free diet, always stick to fresh, unprocessed food. You might want to throw in some exercise too!

7) Lower cholesterol
If you have high cholesterol, switching to a gfree diet might help to slow down the accumulation of fatty deposits on arteries and vital organs. A diet of fresh vegetables, fruits and healthy grains should help you lower your cholesterol back to the normal range for your body through consuming less of the unhealthy saturated fats. Give it a try and let me know how it goes!!

8) Boost energy
Ever feel just plain lazy or lethargic all the time? It could very well be caused by what you're putting in your body! In fact, I know that it is. After switching to a gfree diet and eliminating the very thing that was causing me pain, BAM, I instantly had more energy to do things and was just happier. You know the saying, "you are what you eat?" It's the truth!!

9) Reduced joint pain
I've actually had a lot of joint pain growing up since I had to grow these long legs of mine. (FYI, I'm pretty tall for an Asian-I'm 5'8!) Anyway, besides the growing pains of childhood, much of my joint pain could have been due to eating all that gluten! I'm not sure the exact reason as to why a healthy gfree diet can reduce joint pain, but if I hear any info about it, I'll be sure to let you guys know!

10) Enhance/improve sleep
I have a conjecture about this: I think that gfree diets help people sleep better since the food that you eat is mostly unprocessed and fresh so when you sleep, your body has less work to do, in terms of detoxing all that nasty stuff. You feel less congested and lighter (granted that you didn't go to sleep with a steak in your tummy!)

11)Most gluten free snack foods are also organic and sustainable, dairy-free, vegan, casein-free, etc
Have you ever stopped to look at a gfree snack box? You may be surprised (or perhaps not surprised) to find that many gfree snacks are also organic and sustainable as well as vegan and dairy and casein-free! The boxes/containers that they put the snacks in are usually recyclable too so it's good for Mother Earth. It's about time we treated our planet better!

12) Spreading the word about gluten free diets (even if its a fad, it's good promotion- looking at it in a positive light!)
This is one I came up with myself! As you all know, celiacs must live the rest of their lives eating gluten free. For us, it's not a choice, but a way of living we must learn to adapt to and live by. So for those who don't suffer from gluten sensitivity at all and choose to go on a gfree diet for personal reasons, I sincerely applaud you. Going gfree is a challenge; just ask anyone who is on the diet! Whether you're going on the diet for health reasons or because you just want to try a different approach to live a healthier lifestyle, I encourage you to spread the word to everyone you know. The celiac disease and gluten circle is smaller than you might think and is limited to a small community. If you want to go on a gfree diet because it's the fad diet right now, go for it! It's always cool to see other people purposefully trying it out and inadvertently learning about the disease as well as the obstacles. But, despite the obstacles, the end result is always satisfying and incredibly rewarding for those who stick it all the way through and put in a honest effort. If there are any of you out there that try a gfree diet just for fun or to challenge yourself, I would love to hear about your experience! I think that "Try Going on a Gfree Diet for a Week" should be on the list of 100 Things to Do Before you Die, don't you?

Best wishes to all and hope to hear from you guys soon!