Friday, January 21, 2011

Status Report, and latest favorite snacks

Spiraling up again, slowly.  Back on the thyroid meds at half the original dose.  So far so good.  More energy, but still a little weak.  Mainly trying to eat better, but also gluten free/dairy free, and here are a few of my favorite things!

In the morning:
I just tried cream of buckwheat.  YUM!  Cooked it in almond milk (slightly sweet) and piled it with blueberries and slivered almonds.  Wow.  I have always liked buckwheat and blueberries together, but this was easier and tastier.  And buckwheat is a gluten free food, unlike cream of wheat.  Also tried GF oatmeal, which tastes no different to me, so that's good too.

A hard boiled egg is hard to beat.

In a pinch, Nature's Path GF Organic Crunchy Vanilla Sunrise with coconut or almond milk (unsweetened) with a few nuts and berries sprinkled on top is good, although still processed.

I'm still a sucker for coffee--decaf only.  I use the So Delicious coconut milk creamer--they have plain, hazelnut and french vanilla now.  Lifesaver.  (Or maybe not, but still)

Afternoon snacks:
Of course, LaraBars are a favorite.  But I eat them so much, the sugar is getting to me a little (even though it is only sweetened with dates!)  May need to lay off a little.  I especially like the fruity ones--cherry pie, blueberry muffin, lemon, even key lime pie.

Made my own fresh tomato salsa recently, but I'm having trouble getting it right.  I do like knowing where all the ingredients are coming from.  Any ideas?

Also made some good hummus from frozen chickpeas recently.  The key is getting rid of the shells as much as possible.  Plus I used sunflower seed butter instead of tahini (just cause I like it better) and it gave it a nuttier, slightly sweeter, less bitter taste.  That's a keeper.  The recipe is right on the label.  You just have to warm up the chickpeas.  Sesame rice crackers work well with that.

Speaking of sunflower seed butter--it is divine.  I have some TMJ issues, so nuts and seeds and really crunchy veggies don't always work for me.  So all these nut butters are good--cashew, almond, pecan, walnut.  I have them with celery if I can stand to chew that much, or just GF rice or almond crackers or rice cakes.  For actual nuts, cashews are my favorite.  Soft enough and the perfect taste!

At night--
After dinner, I might sneak a little pinch of Dairy Free Dark Chocolate Dream choc. bar.  Pretty darn good for dairy free.

Coconut milk ice cream is also good.  I especially like just the pure chocolate or vanilla bean.  Simplest is best for my taste buds, I find.

I would love to hear your favorite, quick, easy, GF/DF snacks!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011


Today, I am tired.  Barely get out of bed, hand-shaking, dizzy tired.  It's Tuesday, but it feels like Monday because of MLK day.  And I felt the same way last Monday.  I wonder if there is a connection.

Last Monday, I was so dizzy I could barely walk.  My wonderful husband was so worried about me last week that he decided to take me to his own doctor.  Forget these alternative integrative holistic professionals that I've been seeing, he wanted me to see a plain old traditional MD.  Sweet thing.  I figured it can't hurt to get a second (or third or fourth) opinion.  So I took all the labs and records to him and he looked at them, listened to my story, and said the story I was telling sounded like this crazy rare disease called "sprue."  Wow, he must be brilliant!  With all the people I've seen, not one has mentioned sprue.  Never heard of it.

He ordered a lab test and I went home and looked it up on the internet.  At first glance, it looked like sprue is just another name for celiac disease.  I still didn't know why he called it sprue--maybe it's more exotic sounding and doesn't have "disease" at the end.  But the more I looked, I realized that sprue is derived from an old dutch word meaning "mouth blisters" which was the symptom that started it all for me.  So maybe he is a little brilliant.  Unfortunately, I cannot afford the lab test, being "between insurances" right now, so that has to wait a bit.  I believe the treatment is the same, though, so I've started trying to eat Gluten-Free as much as possible.  It makes sense.

In the meantime, I went back to MY doctor, who listened to my more immediate story, since she has heard all the rest.  She was especially concerned about the dizziness, and told me to stop taking the thyroid meds she had put me on in December.

Short history of my thyroid issues, which may be the key to it all:

1997--diagnosed with hypothyroidism, started taking levoxyl (T4)

2006ish--met someone who had intense thyroid issues who told me that she notices a difference every time she didn't take her medicine.  Realized that I often went without mine and never noticed a difference.  wondered why I was taking it.

2009--energy levels so low, doc ordered a test for adrenal gland output which was in "burnout" mode.  Then I went to 2 endocrinologists who both looked at my labwork and said, adrenal and thyroid levels on low side of normal, you don't need to take the T4 if you don't notice a difference.  Everything is fine.

2010--New labs, whole panel, look at everything!  My doc noticed something in the results no one else had seen:  While I had enough T4 stored, my body was not able to use it for some reason.  She prescribed T4 AND T3, another hormone that helps release it into the bloodstream.

I eased into it, taking half a T3 twice a day and 1 T4.  After a week, 2 T3s a day and 1 T4.  Let's see, I started taking it around Dec. 10.  By Christmas, I felt so much better I couldn't believe it.  I actually wanted to get out of bed.  I had energy to do the things I needed to do, plus more.  I hadn't felt this good in years.  I remembered what enjoying life felt like.  Wow.  UP SPIRAL!

2011--(and a little bit of 2010)--downward spiral.  Shortly after Christmas I started feeling poorly again.  First of all, I had a period every 2 and a half weeks for the last 6 weeks or so.  That's no fun.  Then I started having lower GI issues, cramping, bloating, gas, loosey gooseys.  And of course, energy levels WAY down again.  Then the dizziness/weakness started.

So I stopped taking all thyroid meds, which kind of pissed me off, because I knew I would have another up and down spiral.  A couple of days after getting off of them, I felt pretty good again as the levels of medicine were getting lower.  But now I'm back where I started and very ready to get the levels balanced out.  It was such a tease, actually feeling good again!

Acceptance--that's the word of the year.  This is where I'm at today.  Today, I will get rest and food.  I will not cry and whine (anymore) about the present.  It is what it is.  Spiraling has its ups and downs, right?  (Sorry)  Today I accept my reality.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Pay attention and enjoy it!

It's the new year!  I couldn't stand seeing my old post on here anymore, so I have to write something new.

My goal this holiday season was simply to enjoy it.  It's supposed to be fun.  And meaningful, and all that, but above all, you should enjoy it, or what's the point?  Even if you are working hard, generally the goal is to enjoy life, and not necessarily for selfish reasons.  Let me know if that makes sense to anyone else.  I thought it was a pretty reasonable expectation.  Live in the moment, enjoy what is in front of you.  At the very least, pay attention!  If you're not enjoying it, at least try to figure out why, or why you are there in the first place!  This was especially true for food this holiday.

In the beginning of December, my nutritionist and I decided to basically get more food in me. I had lost about 15 pounds by then, and she read me a checklist for malnutrition.  I answered yes to almost every one.  So we scrapped the original food sensitivities test and worked up a new menu list that was MUCH more doable, with lots of added calories and healthy fats and even LaraBars!  Ok, these are my new favorite snacks.  All fruit and nuts, soy free dairy free gluten free snack bars! Plus I've really gotten into coconut milk products--hazelnut creamer anyone?  Otherwise, I was to avoid known recent sensitivities and pay attention to everything else, generally keeping with whole, unprocessed foods.

This is working for me.  One of the things she emphasized was broth.  She even gave me a link:  It's a long article, but I finally read the whole thing.  It is pretty fascinating and fits in with a lot of my symptoms and issues.  Here's what I've been doing:

Save any bones, carcasses, whatever is leftover from a roast chicken or turkey.  Save any vegetable peels, ends, leaves, rinds, etc. that you would normally throw in the trash.  Keep a bag of this stuff (labeled) in the freezer until you are ready to make the broth.  Throw everything in the crock pot, cover it with water.  Heat on low for about 24 hours.  Strain it and cool it in the fridge, unless you want to make a big pot of soup right away.  Just add meat and vegetables and cook it some more!  It should keep for several days.  If you have any left after that, pour it into ice cube trays and freeze it.  Put the cubes in a freezer bag--8-9 cubes is about a cup and you can use it whenever a recipe calls for it.  By the way, don't skim off the stuff that solidifies at the top!  That's the healthy stuff!  Gelatin and whatnot.  It will immediately melt into the broth once it is heated anyway.

I paid attention these few weeks.  I can't tolerate dairy or bread in any significant dose.  I tried gluten free cornbread made with almond milk for the cornbread dressing.  It was not popular, and I didn't tolerate it well anyway.  I ate a lot of things made with cream or cheese or milk at various parties, just to see.  Also, I'm pretty sure something in the ham we bought at the regular grocery store had some nitrates or nitrites or something that didn't agree with me.  Ultimately my throat was constantly sore with post nasal drip, my ears were itchy and stopped up, my skin was itchy, my neck was stiff.  Lots of symptoms I hadn't had for a while.

I'm glad I experimented.  And even though it didn't always work out, I did enjoy myself.