Friday, April 27, 2012

7-Day "Cleanse" Day 1

7-Day Body Cleanse and Arbonne water bottle

Arbonne has a 7-day cleanse which consists of diluting an individually bottled cleanse solution in a quart of water and drinking it throughout the day for 7 days.  A monthly or seasonal "cleanse" is supposed to help "alkalinize" your system and get the "lead" out.  The idea is not to spend a week in the bathroom but to help support your liver and kidneys and get them running in their most efficient state in order to help your body eliminate toxins that may build up in your system.

A cleanse is also supposed to be a great way to kick start a weight loss program and/or a change in eating habits. I am not looking to lose any more weight.  Going gluten free and avoiding processed foods and sugar helped me lose the "baby weight" and "grad school weight" faster than I could have imagined.  More weight loss would border on ridiculous for me.  I think women need SOME curves!

I have, however, changed my eating habits and would like to change them even more. I still have a weakness for the ginormous bag of M&M's in my pantry (thank you DH).  And stress tends to make me reach for an extra glass of wine rather than a nice soothing cup of herbal tea. Just being honest.  So I'm going to take this week to focus on my eating goals and see how far I get. Baby steps.

Giving up everything you know and (think you) love and going whole hog on a new eating adventure may work for some people, but not for most of us.  However, most of us can take a week long time-out and pay attention to what our bodies are telling us about our food choices so that we may then begin to make steps toward lasting change.  And that's my goal.

So a little product review before I go.  I diluted my concentrate in lukewarm water this morning and tried a few sips.  The directions are to dilute in a quart of cold water but I don't like water cold. So mine is room temp and sitting on the counter. The flavor is reminiscent of herbal prune juice.  And that's exactly what it looks like. Sorta greenish brown water.  It's not particularly sweet but not bitter either. I've been told that once you begin to become more alkaline it will taste sweeter.  You can add some stevia extract, or even lemon juice I suppose, if you need help with the taste.  Overall I don't find it unpleasant at all.

I am also using Immunity Boost, which is an antioxidant and vitamin concentrate.  Kind of along the lines of the energy "shots" except no artificial stuff. And I tried the Arbonne Chocolate Protein Shake for breakfast. The immunity boost is fruity and dark orange.  It goes down easily. The pleasant surprise is the protein shake.  This was mixed only with water and had not only a good consistency, which you can adjust by adding more or less water, but it also had a nice, not overly sweet, chocolate flavor with no weird aftertaste. And no bitterness whatsoever. That has been one of my biggest complaints about other protein shakes.  Strange chemical aftertastes and bitterness. In fact, when I received my container from Arbonne, I went through my cabinet and threw out 3 other brands I had tried that I had bought and tried but couldn't stand the taste of.

I will say that, in general, I don't think making a regular habit of replacing any meal with a shake is a good idea. I believe in REAL FOOD as medicine.  But if you are kick starting weight loss or tend to miss meals and end up overeating because you have starved yourself, then a shake makes sense and can help support your goals.

Later that day...
I finished my requisite quart of "cleanse" around 5.  No ill effects.  It certainly helps you remember to drink fluids which I am personally terrible at.  I did indulge in 2, yes 2, M&M's.  I also ate a regular dinner.  Lunch was popcorn.  So perhaps my eating habits need a bit more tweaking... :) I'll be sure to post about this again later this week.

Good night Gracie...

Disclaimer: I purchased all of these products on my own. I do not receive any incentive from Arbonne to advertise the products. I am an Independent Arbonne Consultant and am trying to see how Arbonne's nutritional supplements can fit into my gluten free lifestyle. This is in no way an endorsement of Arbonne's products as treatment for any medical condition. Before embarking on any weight loss program or cleanse please consult with your medical provider to ensure this is safe for you to do. Although I am a nurse practitioner, I am not YOUR nurse practitioner!  Please be aware that herbal supplements CAN and DO interact with prescription and OTC medications and may cause adverse events if not monitored properly.  And please don't sue me. :)

Monday, April 23, 2012

Gluten Free Scallop Corn "Chowder"

Scallop Corn Chowder a la Liz

I love me some chowder.  However, I don't know if this really qualifies. It started with an idea. The idea was that I was hungry.  And I had scallops in the freezer that would defrost quickly. Oh and I had a bag of frozen corn from our garden.  And I just bought some cream.  So this is what I added:

1lb bay scallops
1 Vidalia onion chopped
About 1 cup corn
Dry sherry (1/2 cup?)
about 1/4 cup cream
sea salt, pepper, thyme, sage
1 tbsp dried parsley
1 tsp celery leaves

1. Saute onions in butter and sherry. Cook until translucent.
2. Add scallops. Cook covered until opaque. Stir occasionally.
3. Add a little more sherry if running dry at any point. (I never really know how much I have used) You should have a decent amount of liquid in the pan if you are keeping it covered.
4. Add corn, cream, and parsley, celery and spices to taste. Stir to incorporate.
5. Allow to simmer about 10 minutes to rehydrate parsley and celery leaves. 
6. Optional-add tsp arrowroot powder dissolved in tsp water to thicken. I tried it both before and after. It was good both ways. If you want it more soupy, skip this step.

This served two of us with enough leftover for two more bowls. If it is the entire meal, it would probably feed 3 people. We had spinach on the side.

I usually cook by the seat of my pants. I get inspiration from reading recipes but I prefer to wing it.  In the past, I would try to follow recipes to a "T" and I would ruin everything because I got too hung up on the details. So I let my inner chef free and started experimenting.  It has made all the difference in the world.  Happy Cooking!

I hope you enjoy it!

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Sunday Afternoon and the Hot Dog Argument

Probably most people with celiac disease, wheat allergies, or any other food allergy live with someone else who doesn't have the same issue(s).  Some homes are allergy free, others coexist.  Hopefully if you live in a home that coexists, you have food rules that you follow.  Rules such as not double dipping into jars. Cleaning off countertops after preparing food. Not using stoneware, wood utensils, or cutting boards for allergens.  Keeping allergen containing foods in a separate cabinet below non-allergenic food. The list goes on. There are many ways in which you can arrange your kitchen to maintain safety.

In our home, my husband said "your disease is my disease" and we replaced all of my precious Pampered Chef stoneware that was blackened by age and perfect seasoning. We tossed all of the wooden utensils and called Pampered Chef again.  Out went to old cutting boards, wood or plastic and I bought new bamboo boards. I cleaned out cabinets and declared gluten free zones. I always try to clean as I cook, which makes after dinner clean up easier too. I also tossed the old plastic colanders and bought new stainless steel ones that can be scrubbed well.

But "my disease is your disease" does not, apparently, pertain to hotdog rolls.  My husband makes a valiant effort at looking at most labels to check for gluten ingredients or a gluten free label.  But he doesn't believe a hot dog can be served adequately on a plate and must be ensconced in bread. Wheat bread. The stuff that makes me break out in hives and destroys my intestines.  You know, the ENEMY.

So yesterday he wanted chili dogs. I bought grassfed, organic, uncured hotdogs and a can or organic vegetarian chili because it was the only gluten free soy free one available.  I didn't think about getting hot dog rolls until on the way home. I am programmed to not even think about buying bread so this was not on purpose.  I didn't make a second stop because I felt we could just put it on a plate. I was wrong.  My husband ate his hot dogs just fine but was decidedly disappointed. So disappointed that he stopped on his way home last night to buy Hormel chili (it's gluten free after all!), Bar S (yes, Bar S) hotdogs, Nathan's hotdogs (also labeled GF), and HOT DOG ROLLS (definitely NOT GF).  He said he had a "bachelor moment" and also bought a few cans of, God help me, Chef Boyardee ravioli.

It's not that I am even tempted by this stuff.  I get heartburn just thinking about eating it.  And the idea of sticking a Bar S hotdog in my mouth knowing what happens to those poor animals makes me gag.  It's the principle of it.  And the fact that "your disease is my disease" does not extend to something like a hotdog.  It rubbed me the wrong way. And then.

And then I came home from church this morning to the announcement that my husband had made chili dogs for everyone for breakfast. Ok. The kitchen was cleaned up and looked as good as I left it.  But when I went into the fridge to look for my own hot dog, I found the Bar S package in the same baggie as my beautiful grassfed, organic, uncured hotdogs. Pools of God-only-knows-what from the "other" hotdogs swirling about in the bottom of the bag, contaminating my potential meal. "Just wash it off."  Can you see the steam that came out of my ears??? If you are as vigilant about what you eat as I am, I'm sure you can. Especially if you can also imagine being hungry because you haven't eaten all morning and it's after noon.

If there is one thing I despise fighting about, it's food.  There are so many out there without access to ANY food, let alone healthy organic food, that it seems ridiculous to allow this to cause an argument.  But it did.  I suppose I could just give up eating hotdogs all together and then it wouldn't matter what is in the bag.  A hotdog is, after all, a hotdog.  No matter how it's raised, it's still mainly leftover bits. What doesn't become hotdogs becomes bologna.  I'd rather have a steak anyway.  But still.

Why share something like this? Because I figure if we go through this, other people must also.  I can't imagine there is anyone who has not fought some kind of food battle since being diagnosed with an allergy.  My husband has been able to embrace almost all of the changes in our diet since my diagnosis, especially because I do most of the cooking.  But we still argue over hotdogs. Some of your battles may be with the school snack policy, or in the workplace fridge, or, as in my case, in your home. But,  to me, the battles at home are the most personal because the people you live with, probably your family, should care the most. Right?  Or wrong?

What are your battles?

And no, I don't get any kick backs or any other kind of profit from mentioning any specific companies.  Names are used only to make my point! ( and hopefully I don't get sued...)

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Autoimmune disease "relatives" and a little help from a friend

Ever wonder if autoimmune disease comes in "clusters" or how it relates to inflammation? Or what about comorbidities (ugly word for "things that go along with or affect your disease)?  Or how common is this stuff, really?

Well,  I was reading an online CME (continuing medical education) activity on psoriasis and rheumatoid arthritis tonight and was struck by a few things. I thought I'd share a couple here.  And yes, there is something about celiac too!

First, psoriasis affects about 2% of the population in the US. It seems like more than that to me but I work in rheumatology so my view is a bit skewed.  The inservice I read said that about 70% of people are undertreated and only receive topical treatment for the disease.  Moderate to severe disease is related to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease and metabolic disorders.  There is also a relationship between psoriasis and an increased risk of lymphoma, squamous cell skin cancer, Crohn's disease, multiple sclerosis and Type 2 diabetes.

The same mechanism for the development of psoriatic plaques (the scale-y stuff you see on someone's skin who has psoriasis) is also responsible for the development of atherosclerosis. T-cells in the lymph nodes travel to and adhere to blood vessels and produce chemicals called cytokines and chemokines that induce inflammation.  This results in plaque formation. Hmm. So inflammation=atherosclerotic plaques building up in your arteries contributing to cardiovascular disease. Well, what about cholesterol? (I think I'll talk about that elsewhere, but think about it.)

Next, rheumatoid arthritis (RA) affects approximately 1% of the US population. It too carries an increased risk of lymphoma.  Both are aggravated by stress, smoking and obesity. RA is also  inflammatory in nature and carries increased risk of cardiovascular disease. 

So, how many people do you know with RA? And how many people do you know with psoriasis? Approximately 1% of the US population is believed to have celiac disease. That's the SAME AS RA and half the rate of psoriasis. How many people do you know with a diagnosis of celiac disease? Before my foray into being diagnosed with celiac disease last year and working in rheumatology I knew precious few people, maybe 1, with celiac disease but many many more with psoriasis and RA. That's because up to 70% of people with celiac disease are undiagnosed.  They are hanging around with a label such as irritable bowel syndrome, lactose intolerance, "colitis," depression, arthritis,  fibromyalgia, etc., when really what they have is undiagnosed celiac disease or non-celiac gluten intolerance.  And it carries what all of the other false diagnoses don't-and increased risk of lymphoma and osteoporosis, anemia and vitamin deficiency, and inflammatory damage to your gut!

My first thought was, wow, there are the same number of people with RA as there are with celiac disease.  And second thought is something like, if our rheumatology practice thrives on patients with RA, doesn't gastroenterology thrive on celiac patients? Based on my experience it does not. My first experience with a gastroenterologist 10 years ago gave me a diagnosis of IBS and sent me on my merry way. My second experience last fall gave me my diagnosis, but no follow up has been recommended.  I was essentially sent back to primary care who, in my case, was really not up to date or educated about celiac disease.

Luckily, I'm also a healthcare provider and a voracious reader. I could spend hours researching online.  I was able to settle into my new gluten free existence without too much fuss especially because I have been tweeking our eating habits for the past two years and going gluten free wasn't quite the hurdle it could have been.  But what about all of the "lay people" who get diagnosed? No one even recommended I see a dietician and the nutritionist I saw was completely unhelpful.  She just wanted me to take a bunch of supplements that conveniently she sells at her store. That didn't settle too well with me.

After months of consideration I've decided that I want to be the help and support for those newly diagnosed or those who think they may need to get diagnosed as well as those who have been doing this for a while and just want some more support working out the kinks.  Yes, I am an Arbonne consultant as well, but I'm not doing this to sell anyone anything other than my knowledge and experience.  I want to be a supporter, encourager and partner in your journey to gluten free-dom.  Need help? Contact me at  Let's see what we can do together for the "health" of it! :)