Category Archives: Food Allergies

The Simple Joys

Yesterday I had the most amazing gluten free muffin and as I was devouring it in a little g/f bakery in Seattle (mad props to The Flying Apron) I started thinking about how important the littlest things in life are. This muffin was amazing and, as I was telling Matt about the muffin experience, I realized just how special I felt having a baked good I could eat.

Kels 5

When my food allergies thing came up I felt like I lost out on a lot. I couldn’t eat any of my favorite foods, in trying to maintain my social life I had to watch my friends eat those foods, and if I accidentally ate something I am allergic to I felt like utter crap. But, now that I’m about a year into my allergy free diet, I am really savoring the feeling of not only eating a delicious and moist (so rare in g/f baking!) muffin that doesn’t make me feel like dying but also the enormous satisfaction of feeling normal. I was able to walk up to the counter, order my food without asking any questions, and eat my food with a peace of mind that’s rare for someone with multiple food allergies. This was huge for me.

Maybe I’m simple, and that’s ok,  but it’s the small things that make each day worth living; whether its a gluten-free maple nut muffin, or a sweet text message from Matt, or  a sweater with sequins cascading down the shoulders- it’s these fine details that break up the monotony of routine and make each day special. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve realized I can actually give myself this gift by not only buying awesome muffins and sweaters but by taking the time to notice the flowers, birds, sunrises and sunsets, embracing what is, and letting go of what isn’t.Kels 6Sweater & Tank:Target//Scarf:Fred Meyers//Jeggings:Express//Boots & Bag:Lucky Brand//Belt:Charlotte Russe

It’s the simple joys that make this season special, so please go around noticing them and help create the experience for someone else if possible. And by all means, eat delicious muffins while wearing sequins, I promise you won’t be let down.

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Sequins & Stripes: What’s in a number?

Not a whole lot, actually. Women clothing sizing is one of the most irrational, unpredictable and inconsistent measuring systems known to (wo)mankind. And yet somehow, there’s so much value and meaning tied up in what number your body fits in. It’s so hard to avoid the hype of fitting into a certain number, despite noble efforts to resist. I (Sequins) have the pretty standard body-acceptance issues that float out there in the universe. It’s a work in progress. This post, though, isn’t about that. It’s about celebrating who I am and what I look like, and celebrating Stripes’ gorgeous figure as well. We’re linking up with Nearsighted Owl’s I’m Proud of My Size to share our sizes, and to love on our bodies a bit.

This photo makes me laugh, because it definitely looks like we’re right about to do something drastic, like flash the camera or turn into monsters. Yes, those are the directions my brain goes in. We’re not doing anything drastic, though. Or at least, it shouldn’t be drastic. There should be nothing embarrassing or gasp-worthy about sharing your clothing size. And a wagged finger at all of the elements of society that would say otherwise!

Despite the fact that it shouldn’t be hard to share your size, it kind of is. We’ve mystified the woman body and made talking about it a huge taboo. But why? On the rational level, it really makes no sense at all and since we’re so clearly rational people over here (ok, some of the time anyways) we decided it was time to stop being caught up on “the rule” that you don’t talk about the pant size and just embrace health, because that’s what it all comes down to-health.

As I’ve mentioned on the blog before (this is Stripes speaking now), I have a million and a half food allergies (ok, more like a smidge under 30) and ever since getting my diagnosis, my body image has shifted. While I still have my hang ups (do you really ever get over all of them?) I have really learned to embrace my health and focus on being happy. And what’s happier than an allergen free cookie whenever I want one? (The answer is practically nothing…except if that cookie comes with a side of chocolate and bacon…OH GOD YES). I definitely think that the focus needs to be less on the downfalls of the individual (for being too heavy or too thin) but rather on health and happiness because at the end of the day, what does anything else matter if you don’t have either one of those things?

In all honesty that’s why I’ve stuck with my [albeit expensive] allergen free diet, because it makes my body and mind feel amazing. Also, and we’re about to get real honest around here, while my body shape has been changing in the last couple months I still wear the exact same pants size which has suggested to me that I am at my body’s happy place. It doesn’t want to lose weight nor is it dying for anything. I think it was realizing this, that my body really just wants to be 136 lbs (yes I said it! also, I’ve been this same weight for the last 4 years despite periods of dieting, working out, and eating tons of unhealthy stuff) no matter how much I eat and how much I don’t eat, that really proved to me that the only thing that is relevant to my relationship with my body is how happy I feel at any given moment and that feeling is in no way tied to a number. I’ve been happy at my weight and I’ve been sad at my weight but regardless I love me, and I try my best to respect my body and strive to make it (and myself) happy.

I love this photoshoot, btw. I love how our very different personalities shine through in all their glory from how we styled ourselves. I’m wearing insane colors that shouldn’t go together along with a bold pattern and weird shoes because that’s who I am–I stand out, I don’t care about matching and I need color in my closet to survive. Whereas Stripes pulls off classy fashion with a pair of jeans–she makes it look so simple and easy, but I know it’s harder than it looks (note how I’m never in jeans, eh?). We’re both gorgeous and wonderful in our own ways, and let me tell you I have so much sympathy for those who are brave enough to do this post on their own blogs. It’s way easier when you get to say “we” instead of “I”.

I’m so there with ya! I don’t know that I would have been able to post my size in public like this if I didn’t have a buddy. But, you know what? It is freaking liberating! It feels great to let this little “secret” come to the open, because it’s a kind of silly thing to keep secret anyways, if you really think about it…it’s just a number. It means nothing about who you are as a person, what you’re capable of, and what you deserve in life. And I say, we all deserve to be happy!

I hope you consider joining up with this link-up. It’s been amazing and positive. I don’t know about you guys, but I’ve been loving the trend with the bloggers I read about throwing off the chains we attach to ourselves about what makes a person valuable, or beautiful, or “worthy”. The message of loving yourself for who you are, and being perfect in your flaws, is one I’m a big fan of!

Stripes: Allergen Free Candy Making Adventure!

Today, I decided to show you all how to make some allergen free candy! Well, it doesn’t have to be allergen free but I want to eat my work when I’m done, so all my ingredients are free of wheat, dairy, coconut, and peanuts although it meant I had to adapt from this recipe. NBD because the recipe is super simple and I ❤ all things chocolate.

Ingredients:

Ghirardelli Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips (these are the only ones that cost less than $4 a bag that are allergen free, also, they are freaking delicious. I am only using mini chocolate chips because the store was out of regular size, but if you’re going to melt it down anyways it won’t make a difference in the end). I also used 1.5 bags of chocolate.

Almond Butter

Powdered Sugar

Almonds

Supplies:

Bowl

Double Boiler (or a bowl and a microwave)

Mini-Muffin Tin

Mini-Muffin Wrappers

3 Spoons

Refrigerator

Let’s Do This:

Step 1:

Add water to the bottom portion of you double boiler (but only enough water that it doesn’t touch the top pan), put the top pan on, and pour chocolate chips in to the top pan. You’ll want this on medium heat. But if you don’t have a double boiler (I lucked out and stole this one from my dad a couple years ago…thanks dad! You can also microwave the chocolate chips to melt them. I just feel super cool whenever I get to use my double boiler).

Step 2:

While periodically stirring the chocolate, slowly add some powdered sugar to your almond butter (or which ever kind of butter you like, this would work with peanut butter, sun butter, cashew butter…really any of those “butters” would do). Taste the butter as you go so you get it to the sweetness you prefere. Then make a bunch of “butter” balls. I am not making as many “butter” balls as spaces in my tin because I want some to just have almonds in them (fancy, I know!).

Step 3:

Line the cups of your muffin tin with the papers. Simple enough.

Step 4:

Spoon in enough melted chocolate to make a solid layer in the bottom of each paper. Let this dry a little so the insides of your cups have somewhere to sit. This picture shows how it looks when you first dollop the chocolate in but as you can see from the top row, it works a lot better when you spread the chocolate out with your spoon. Then, refrigerate these babies for 5 minutes so they can set.

Step 5:

Add the insides to the cups. Like I mentioned before, I am using both sweetened almond butter and almonds.

Step 6:

Cover each cup with chocolate. Pretty much, just make it look like a normal peanut butter cup.

Step 7:

Chill them so the become solid. Mine only required about 20 minutes in the fridge until they were om nom nom ready. 

Step 8:

OM NOM NOM. Appreciate what you just made by eating it!

And there you have it, allergen (at least for me, anyways) free candy!

Are there any tutorials you’re wanting to see? Anything I can do to help demystify food allergies? If so please comment so I can help spread info!

-Stripes

Stripes: Awesome Stuff Sunday 3.11

Welcome to Awesome Stuff Sunday! Here are some of the cool things I found on the internet this week!

I am SO stinking in love with her dress!

OMG this is my favorite kitty picture since the kitty flying through space on a synth.

Sequins and I made this scrub for a much needed girls night, ahhh so relaxing!

This is a really interesting look into food allergies. I really appreciate her big picture view of the current, dramatic rise in allergies. Also, I think there is a lot we could be doing as a nation to improve the quality of our food and help our children avoid some of the health pitfalls we face today.

And a classic Death Cab for Cutie song.

Have a happy Sunday!

-Stripes

Stripes: Awesome Stuff Sunday 2.26

Happy Friday All! Here are some of my highlights from my time on the internet this week:

Who can say no to a series of sloths? Check more out here!

This is one of the best blogs I’ve found in a long while…I have subconsciously been transitioning to these adulting ideas for the last couple of years so it is hilarious to read someone else’s take on them!

DIY tea towels…she had me sold with the Martha paint!

I’m itching to try out this recipe! Gluten, egg, yeast, dairy, and peanut free cookies; what more could a girl ask for!?

And as we all have probably figured out, I love dance music and this is one of the funniest spoofs of this video I have ever seen.

Have a happy week!

-Stripes

Sequins: A Broken Stomach

Watching Stripes go through her very frustrating and difficult process of figuring out her allergies and a new diet reminds me of where I was three years ago. Stripes and I might be really different in the clothes we wear, the mugs we use, and the way we style our hair, but we have a surprising amount in common when it comes to food.


I’m not burdened down by Stripes with a ton of allergies (that I know of–I’m so not brave enough to get tested!), I have my own bag of issues with my digestion. Not a lot of people know about gastroparesis, but oddly enough,  one of my coworkers has the exact same condition so it can’t be that uncommon. And just like Stripes forewarned–I’m not an expert. Neither of us are. I’m just sharing my own experiences, which in no way replaces the importance of someone talking to their own doctor.

It started a few years ago when some (digestion-related) issues I had became worse, to the point of me not being able to ignore them. The list is pretty gross, so I won’t give too many details, but it includes blood, constant nauseous, and the desire to vomit. All the time. It was getting to the point where I’d make myself throw up once a week or so, just because I felt so awful and my body would refuse to vomit on its own (I know that sounds a lot like bulimia, which is a serious and real condition, but you should read the whole story. I don’t have an eating disorder). I saw my normal doctor, was referred to a specialist, and bounced around for a few months before settling on the right practitioner.

For anyone dealing with health issues, I give you this advice above all others: work with someone who works with you. Half the medical professionals I sought out told me straight off the bat that I had cancer, and the other half told me I was imagining things. Not fun at all. I finally found an excellent gastroenterologist who worked with me. It was his patience and willingness to listen that actually ended up solving the problem.

Before I got to that point, though, there was a large suspicion that I had Celiac’s Disease (which is basically like being lactose intolerant, except with gluten [which is in wheat, along with almost everything else]). They did the tests and encouraged me to cut gluten out of my diet. I was a vegetarian at the time (and am currently), but I opted back to meat when they cut so many things out of my diet. It was really, really hard (as Stripes can attest to!)

I was on my gluten-free diet, and I was sitting in the doctor’s office. He shared the results; I showed no signs of Celiac’s disease. However, I did show that I was still full of… food… when they did the scope. Which, considering I had done a two-day fast, as well as the cleansing, was unusual. He sat me down and asked me about my diet, which at the time (and still currently does, shame on me) consist of raw vegetables, nuts, and whole grains. He counted up the calories I was getting from my daily diet and told me it was less than 1,000. Which is no good. I am a pretty active person, so 1200 is a really healthy amount for me to consume.

Then, while he was doing some paperwork, my mom and I started talking. She was in town to support me, and we were planning our post-doctor visit day. She mentioned lunch, which we hadn’t had yet. I told her fries sounded amazing. She asked if I wanted a milkshake, and I made a face. The doctor caught the expression, and asked me if I don’t normally like milkshakes. I told him I do, but that I felt way too full to even consider it. He asked me what I had eaten for breakfast (rice-flour toast and egg with some raw veggies to munch on). He paused, and (as my mom remembers it) a lightbulb clicked on above his head.

He introduced the concept of gastroparesis to me, which essentially means your stomach works, but very very slowly, and harder-to-digest food move through you at a glacial pace. You can read Mayo Clinic’s definition here. It would explain a lot of my symptoms, so he scheduled me for a study and my mom and I left to go grab some french fries.

A couple weeks later, I had the study done. It consists of eating radio-active dry bread with a radio-active butter-free dry egg and washing it down with radio-active sugar free apple juice. Talk about the most boring and terrifying meal ever! I sat around the hospital for three hours and they took pictures of my radioactive stomach periodically to watch the food move through my system. In the course of three hours, the food (in a healthy, working digestive system) would be completely out of the stomach and well into the intestines. At the end of the three hours, my stomach was still over halfway full of food, which put my solidly in the running for a gastroparesis diagnosis. Finally, an answer!

What this means is that I’m always full. It’s hard for my body to digest food, and if I eat a normal amount, I’m in a lot of pain. I balance this out by drinking a lot of smoothies (Columbia Gorge VitaSea smoothies are my absolute favorite!) and eating small amounts of food throughout the day. Cooked food, food low in fiber, and highly processed food (pop tarts and skittles, anyone?) are the easiest. Unfortunately, I actually really love whole grain, nut-filled bread and raw vegetables, so I hate sticking to my recommended diet (I love the skittles, though, so eating candy continues to be not a problem!). I’ve gone back to my vegetarian ways, since my body doesn’t handle meat well, and I avoid dairy since my body hates it (imagine milk just sitting in stomach acid for three, four hours–gross, right?), but I do occasionally indulge in a wine and cheese night with Monsieur. Some great foods that Stripes mentioned, like quinoa, is amazing and perfect for my body–it is especially accommodating for my vegetarian requirements.

The trick has been small portions, eating the light in the morning, the heaviest (like a bagel with peanut butter and jelly) in the middle of the day, and pretty much nothing after five. I still struggle with eating enough calories, and I find that I can get all kind of grumpy and sleepy when I’ve gone too many days eating too little (and what better way to balance it out than by gulping down a chocolate milkshake, am I right?), but it’s manageable. Frustrating, mildly hopeless, and very bloaty, but definitely manageable.

An Average Workday Menu:
7:30 Breakfast: Coffee, two bites of Monsieur’s cinnamon roll (We “share” a lot of meals, which usually consist of me telling him he should eat something so I can take a bite. It’s way less wasteful than me ordering/cooking a huge thing of something I’ll take a bite of and be done with)
9:30 Work Snack: Handful of blueberries, half a Columbia Gorge SuperBerry Smoothie
12:00 Lunch: more coffee and a plain, toasted bagel with organic peanut butter and jelly (my barista makes them perfectly, with peanut butter and jelly on both sides, so I can eat it open-faced)
4:00 Work Snack: Handful of carrots, a couple of radishes and broccoli (I’m telling you, I don’t know how to say no to raw veggies! I love them so…)
6:30 Dinner: Small serving of rice with some stir fry veggies (it’s about a quarter of what Monsieur ate, and he doesn’t eat a ton of food) and a couple bites of the chocolate ice cream we “share”.

Stripes: What Do I Eat?

With all my crazy food allergies (seriously; coconut, peanuts, eggplant, pears, honey, swordfish…the list goes on) the biggest question I get is “What do you eat?!” I have to admit it is not easy and requires a ton of planning ahead but I am able to adapt just about anything into something I can eat it just sometimes takes a little effort and often times, when I don’t feel especially creative, I eat boring meals. (But really, that’s hugely affected by the fact that I am a busy college student, I usually have less than a half hour a day to dedicate to food preparation. If I had more time-ok, if it were a bigger priority to me, I would be able to make much more complicated and flavorful meals.) Since this is really one of the biggest questions I get asked, aside from what happens if you eat _____?!, I thought one “what I ate that day” food post might give the best insight into my eating habits.

Just a reminder that I am in no way qualified to tell anyone else what to eat or hand out medical advice…this is just what I eat on a somewhat daily basis.

Breakfast: Quinoa with Cinnamon & Brown Sugar and a cup of coffee.

I make my Quinoa in my rice maker while I get ready in the mornings. I do 1 part quinoa, 2 1/4 parts water, and a dash of cinnamon then set it and forget it (yes, I do say that EVERY TIME I turn on my rice cooker. I’m a creature of habit, what can I say?). This is one of three of my breakfast options (the other two being Rice Chex and Gluten Free, Egg Free french toast sticks made by Vans found in the Frozen foods section of my local Fred Meyers).

Lunch: Spinach Salad w/Raspberry Vinaigrette, an Apple, and a Banana.

I am usually in a rush for lunch so I grab easy to eat stuff. This lunch was a little light for me so I got this awesome chocolate bar! SUPER good and a surprise find on campus.

Dinner: I had round two of quinoa, admittedly I eat a lot of the same couple foods all the time. This time around I microwaved some of the leftovers from this morning. Its microwavability is one of the best parts of quinoa!

But I also had a variety of snacks throughout the day which are so varied because I happened to be traveling today so I just had to eat what I could find; potato chips, fruit leather, dried mango, a cup of coffee (not pictured), and some tortilla chips (also, not pictured). I also drink a ton of water throughout the day. 

Pretty much this is how I make my restrictions work on a college budget. I do make quinoa and corn pasta with meat sauce, dirty rice & red beans, and lots of homemade soup. I mainly go for easy to microwave, several serving meals with some sort of nutritional quality (even if it isn’t that great. but I figure I can get away with this for a good year or two longer :P).

If anyone has questions about what I eat , why I eat it, how I prepared it, or needs any suggestions about what to make for someone with a food allergy please do not hesitate to ask! I am a pretty open book when it comes to the food in my life.

-Stripes