Thursday, April 29, 2010

Misophonia

Miso-what? Misophonia - a form of decreased sound tolerance. I just learned that this is an actual condition the other day and boy am I relieved... let me tell you why.

I have amazing hearing. If you are three rooms away from me and you drop a penny, I will hear it. If someone's smoke detector is going off two houses away, I will hear it. In fact, I will get out of bed in the middle of the night and go outside to make sure that it's a neighbor's house and not mine that is potentially on fire. Seriously. You might be thinking, wow, that's incredible! And you'd be right, it is pretty cool. For example, if you're standing across the room, whispering to your friend, there's a pretty good chance I can hear you. Good for me, maybe not for you, right? Sometimes it gets me in trouble though when I accidentally laugh out loud at what you said and then you know that I could hear you. "How on earth did you hear that??" Yeah, I get that a lot.

But there's something else that happens to me that I've always hated and can't control and before Tuesday I never understood why. The sound of chewing makes me crazy. Literally. I mean violently angry sometimes. You know how the sound of nails on a chalkboard sends shivers down your spine? Well, sometimes I actually feel as though my ears will bleed when I hear that sound. Noises that typically just annoy other people make me literally want to crawl out of my skin. And when I say literally, I mean LITERALLY. When I'm tired or if I just woke up I'm even more sensitive. It's the chewing though that causes me to turn green and break out of my clothes in an Incredible Hulk style rage.

Ever since I was little this has been a problem. Some people chew more loudly or awkwardly than others. For example, my Dad's mouth is like a cavern, I swear the crunching in there echoes. And my brother eats like a grazing cow, smacking and smooshing and ugh god it makes me shudder. The worst thing of all is crunching. Carrots, pretzels, chips, oh my goodness it rocks me to the core. If someone is eating cereal three rooms away with the doors closed in between I can STILL HEAR IT.

I knew when I started this job that this was going to be an issue. I have never been in an open workstation environment with a lot of other people. Every day someone that sits a few seats away snacks on chips. Someone will eat a salad or some pita chips. Another person eats carrots in the afternoon. I wonder if anyone has ever seen my head whip around to seek out the offender, or the glare that I send their way. I am ashamed to even admit this, but I seriously get so angry that I want to punch something, or someone... it is absolutely horrible.

If you've not experienced this, it's impossible to understand. You might be thinking, just get over it! Learn to deal with it! Ignore it! You're insane! Trust me, I've spent my entire life learning how to cope with this. Thankfully I am allowed to use earbuds at work so if I'm getting particularly sensitive, I just put the music on. If my Dad sits down in the living room with carrots, I leave the room. Fortunately, he understands and doesn't think I'm a total freak show. I noticed that my Mom will try to chew quietly, which actually just drives me even more insane because knowing that she's trying makes me pay more attention to it. Plus, when you try to chew quietly, you end up having to chew your food longer... I'd rather you just chomp on it and finish it fast! But really, this is my issue and I try very hard to not make it known that I'm dying on the inside. I have learned very well to cope with it. I even have been trying lately to desensitize myself to it. If I notice someone is chewing and it starts to bother me, I deliberately keep listening and calm myself down. Sometimes though I just can't handle it and I have to leave the room or plug in my earbuds. You know all of those tv commercials where they amplify the sound of someone chewing... like Twix or Raisin Bran Crunch or Kit Kat? I have to change the channel!

It's strange because my own chewing doesn't bother me. At all. Strange, huh? The other day I suddenly felt the need to do a google search about this issue and right away I learned about Misophonia. I couldn't believe that this is an actual neurological condition. It's not very well known or researched and some people think it's a psychological issue from a bad childhood experience. I had a great childhood. I don't believe that in my case, this is true. I do believe that it's a wiring problem somewhere in there. I just have super sensitive ears. Right now, someone is talking and she's particularly loud and it's annoying, but it is what it is. I just try really hard to not let it bother me and if it is bothering me, use the music. Now that I know that it's a legit condition, I feel a lot better about it and I actually think that maybe I can work on that desensitizing thing. It's worth a shot!

I wanted to write about this in case there are any other people out there that are dealing with this. Know that you are not alone! And you're not crazy, this is real! If you're a person that knows someone that talks about their sensitive ears, please have some compassion. It's a very painful condition and it's no joke. I'm really glad that I'm not just a psychopath though, seriously.

Monday, April 26, 2010

30 Days to a Food Revolution

As it turns out, there already IS a 30 day whole food challenge going on in the gluten free world. Over at The W.H.O.L.E. Gang today is the first day and Shirley of Gluten Free Easily (love her!!) is kicking us off. Every day a different blogger will be guest blogging to share tips, recipes and food for thought. How awesome is this?!! I can't wait to read everyone's posts!

I went to Whole Foods yesterday and spent under $40. I didn't need a full cart of groceries but I still bought quite a bit of stuff, including two packages of grass fed beef. I'm very excited to be doing this. This week is kind of a slow start week since I want to use up some of the food I already have in the house. I'll be eating Udi's bread, tortilla chips (organic, only 3 ingredients), Eco-Planet hot cereal (organic, whole grains) and Amy's soup (also organic and all whole ingredients). Otherwise it will be all eggs, meat, veggies and probably some rice but usually I eat potatoes. For tonight I have some free range chicken defrosting in the fridge. The only food that I have that is not organic is the Udi's bread, but it is the whole grain version.

I hope that you are considering giving this a try as well!! Even if you don't, definitely subscribe to The W.H.O.L.E. Gang so you can read all about it and if you haven't done so already, sign Jamie Oliver's petition!!!!

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Two Years

I've written over 400 posts on this website since I began writing here two years ago. When I started this blog I just wanted to go gluten free, I didn't even know yet that I had Crohn's. What a journey it's been. I wouldn't be where I am today without this blog, without the internet, without all of you! I can't say thank you enough for all of your support, your own journeys and websites and tweets. It's been an amazing experience. I hope that my third year of writing will be just as successful. I'm hoping to make this site a wonderful resource, I've already created two lists for your reading pleasure. The Gluten and Other Allergen Free list and the Crohn's and Colitis list. These are loaded with awesome websites, mostly personal blogs, that I've been keeping in my blog reader. Finally I am able to share with all of you where I get my inspiration... which is from all of you!! If you are not on either list, please let me know!! I'll be happy to add you.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

30 Days of Whole Foods: A Challenge

Whole Food Challenge
Photo by Matt Hannon

I've been eating a lot of processed foods lately. It's hard to resist when there are so many new and absolutely delicious gluten and dairy free products coming out on the market. I do it for the sake of the blog! You all want to know what's good so I must try it ALL and write about it!!! Oy. Yesterday I bought some Udi's blueberry muffins and oh my gosh are they awesome, but like someone said - muffins are just ugly cupcakes. So true. The first ingredient on the package is sugar!

Recently I've been hearing some buzz on twitter and the blogs about cleaning up our diets and trying to stick to whole foods as much as possible. Happy Herbivore is hosting a 30 day challenge starting May 1st and she's inspired me to share this challenge with all of you. She is not gluten free but there's a google group over there with a sample shopping list that will give you an idea of what this challenge means.

I've been making big strides in how I eat lately but as usual with me I always take two steps forward and at least one step back. Going back to work has been a struggle when it comes to meal planning and eating properly. I know it's not difficult to do, I just have allowed myself to slack off and this has to stop. I'm going to get sick if I keep going the way I've been going!! That cannot happen.

I'm making this challenge my own and doing it in such a way that it's realistic for my lifestyle. For example, frozen vegetables and dried fruits will be allowed as long as they are organic and do not have added ingredients. Right now I have organic asparagus, broccoli and corn in my freezer and organic dried apples, raisins and apricots in my pantry. As long as there are no added salts or sugars and they are organic, this is good for me. I have done very well switching over to organic foods and that has been great and it's NOT that much more expensive, I swear! I spend the most money at Whole Foods when I buy a bunch of packaged foods, I bought some frozen gf/df lunches last week and those made a huge difference in the overall cost. I buy an 18 pack of free range, organic eggs that come from a local farm and they cost $3.18 which is a very fair price compared to regular eggs. The organic potatoes are the same price as the conventionally grown.

The plan is to eat eggs, meat, fish, vegetables, fruits, and whole gluten free grains like brown rice and quinoa. I will use earth balance soy free spread sparingly, mostly just to cook my eggs and put a little bit on vegetables. I will use olive oil and coconut oil. Spices as long as they don't have additives, and kosher salt sparingly. Lots of water. I don't usually drink anything other than water so that won't be an issue. Maybe I'll make some fresh squeezed OJ one of these days!

I think that this is an important way to eat forever, not just for 30 days, this was just a good way to give me that little push that I needed. Due to this challenge, I will not be accepting products from vendors to sample and review. While I have appreciated the chance to do product reviews, this is always the thing that throws me off. Just because they are gluten free, dairy free, and even organic, doesn't mean they are necessarily healthy. I have eaten chocolate every single day for weeks now and that's just not good.

I hope that you will consider giving this challenge a try. Feel free to join the google group with Happy Herbivore, or do this on your own. Write about it on your blog, spread the word, everyone should be eating this way!! I love what Jamie Oliver is doing with his Food Revolution and I feel that this is just an extension of that. I'm not waiting until May 1 to start this, I'm just going to do it now and keep going forever!

Friday, April 23, 2010

Coming soon...

So you might notice some changes going on around here over the next few years (cause that's how long it's probably going to take me to finish them). I've added in the right sidebar a list of page links, my story, reviews, links, etc. The plan is to actually put something on these pages to make this blog easier to navigate. I also plan to add tags to my posts to make this site easier to search. Right now that little search box in the sidebar is pretty useless since essentially none of my posts are tagged. I also have every intention of compiling a complete blogroll, the current one hasn't been updated in a very long time. So please be patient as I go through these changes, hopefully it won't take me until 2011!!!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Review: Newman's Own Organics

Recently I posted a half-hearted review of Newman's Own Organics Dark Chocolate. Well, they saw it and they asked if I'd like to sample and review some other gluten and dairy free products. And I kindly declined. Yeah right... So a few days later I received a big box FULL of goodies!!! I had been emailing back and forth with my contact at NOO to make sure everything I received would in fact be gf/df and I was surprised at how many items I received. They sent me chocolate bars, chocolate cups, breath mints, dried fruit, popcorn, and soy crisps all in a variety of flavors. Of course I dove into the chocolate first. Because that's all I really care about in this world.

I received chocolate bars and chocolate cups, the chocolate cups used to be vegan but the recipe recently changed and now they do contain dairy. My contact was looking at the old vegan list and didn't realize that they now contained dairy. I told her I'd share them with my co-workers. But I ate them. Stop shaking your head at me!!! I'm weak to free samples! (Sally, don't blame yourself, this is all MY fault!)


And let me just say, they are so good!! But of course the star of the show is the dark chocolate bars.



Which I already wrote about. Delicious.

But the one that surprised me the most was the soy crisps.



I actually try to avoid soy too, not because of an intolerance I just am unsure about the safety of soy in large quantities. And since a ton of our food contains soy, I like to avoid it. But I did eat these and I loved them so much. Crunchy, light little bits of goodness. Barbeque flavored or lightly salted. I love BBQ flavored anything! I also received the cinnamon and sugar flavor but I'm holding out on those.

I haven't tried any of the mints or dried fruits or popcorn yet but I'm sure I'll get around to them eventually. I just wanted to get this review up so you all could check out some of the products that I have tried already.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Review: Aleia's Gluten Free Chocolate Chip Cookies

Aleia's Chocolate Chip Cookies

Well, first let me just say that these are NOT dairy free. And it's a darn shame because I LOVE these cookies. I used to see them in Stop & Shop every single time I went shopping and they beckoned to me but I never bought them. I had checked the package before and for some reason had it in my head that they were dairy free so when I WON the contest a couple months ago on Twitter I didn't think twice. As soon as they arrived I dove right into them. I ate almost half the bag before actually looking at the ingredients list again and sure enough - dairy. Ooops!!! This was totally my fault. Lesson learned. Fortunately I didn't pay for my mistake and was able to finish off the entire bag (in under two days) without issue. Oh they are so so yummy. They are a crunchy, crumbly, satisfying cookie. And no, I don't feel bad that I entered and won this contest despite the fact that there are other people out there that are not dairy intolerant that could've won instead! Sorry! ;-) These were just too good to pass up. Check out Aleia's website, blog and twitter!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Review: Udi's Gluten Free Bread

Roast Beef Sandwich

I can't believe I didn't write this post sooner. I had every intention, and I actually thought I already did, but apparently not! Do you see that beautiful sandwich up there? That bread looks suspiciously gluten-like doesn't it? That's funny, because it tastes suspiciously gluten-like also, but it is NOT! I'm guessing most of you have either heard of it or tried it by now, since I put off this post for so long, but THIS is the ultimate gluten free bread. If you haven't already heard of them, then you MUST go check out Udi's Gluten Free Foods! This particular sandwich is made on the whole grain bread but they also offer white sandwich bread as well. As you can see, this bread is not toasted. How insane is that? A store bought gluten free bread that doesn't need to be toasted? Well not only that, but get this - you can defrost the whole loaf and just leave it on the counter. Seriously!!

I'm trying to keep processed foods of any sort to a minimum and even though this bread is gluten and dairy free (also soy and nut free) it's still processed. I usually just have it in the morning with my egg(s) and that works out great. I had been looking for a bread that I could just eat by itself as toast and this is the absolute perfect one. The taste and texture are exactly what I wanted. Udi's also offers many other gf/df products and I hope to try more of them very soon!!

Monday, April 12, 2010

Review: Amy's Gluten & Dairy Free Macaroni & Cheese

Mac & Cheese and Hot Dogs

I can't decide whether this picture is appetizing or not. I didn't have enough time or energy to do any photoshopping so this is what you get! Last night I went to Whole Foods and attempted to buy enough food for the week. Breakfasts and dinners are all set but lunches leave something to be desired. I have never been good at planning lunches. I ended up buying some organic frozen lunches. I'm not sure how I feel about these. Are they really any better than those supermarket frozen meals that I turn my nose up at? The jury is out, but for this week it is what it is. I was really in the mood for something quick and easy and comforting last night. I'd been meaning to try Amy's Gluten-Free Non-Dairy Mac and Cheese ever since I read Heidi's review. I have not been successful finding a decent gf/df mac and cheese thus far so I was skeptical.

When I was little, blue box macaroni and cheese and boiled hot dogs were a regular menu item in my house. I loved it, so yummy and comforting, but it always made me feel ill. I don't even know how to describe the feeling I used to get. This deep in the gut queasiness that stuck with me for hours. I don't know why I kept eating the stuff and never told my mother how it made me feel. I guess I just loved the taste so much!! I'd lay in bed later in the night praying for the sick feeling to go away. It'd be gone by the morning. Long before going gf/df and before the Crohn's diagnosis I finally stopped eating the stuff. Every once in a while I'd cave and buy a box but that horrible feeling always came back.

Well, I am so happy to say that not only does Amy's mac and cheese not make me sick, it tastes awesome!! It's gooey, rich, delicious mac and cheese. It doesn't taste like non-dairy cheese at all. I have tried one or two boxed gf/df versions and they are disgusting. This is awesome. I paired it with Applegate Farms hot dogs for a delicious and not horribly unhealthy dinner. And for dessert, a couple squares of Newman's Own Organics dark chocolate.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Kickass music for a kickass workout

So I've been listening to the same gym playlist on my shuffle for a looooong time. And let me tell you, Don't Stop Believin' just ain't cutting the mustard anymore (although, that song didn't get cut, I just love it). I've been meaning to update it for weeks but just haven't had the time. Tonight, I found the time. I asked for suggestions, I google searched, I shopped on iTunes and I came up with a list that for me, is perfect. Here it is:

Canned Heat - Jamiroquai
Don't Stop the Music - Rihanna
Fool in the Rain - Led Zeppelin
Rude Boy - Rihanna
Be Faithful - Fatman Scoop (This is my FAVORITE get pumped song)
Get Ur Freak On - Missy Elliot
1985 - Crash Kings
Touch the Sky - Kanye West Feat. Lupe Fiasco
Temperature - Sean Paul
Jigga What/Faint - Linkin Park & Jay-Z
Bad Romance - Lady GaGa
Shake Remix - Elephant Man, Pitbull & Ying Yang Twins
The Anthem - Pitbull Feat. Lil Jon
Points of Authority/99 Problems/One Step Closer - Linkin Park & Jay-Z
I Know You Want Me (Calle Ocho) - Pitbull
LoveGame - Lady GaGa
Pass That Dutch - Missy Elliot
Disturbia - Rihanna
Fat Bottomed Girls - Queen
Good Times Bad Times - Led Zeppelin
Blue Monday - Orgy
14 Arms - Crash Kings
Lose Yourself - Eminem (this one never leaves the playlist)
Numb/Encore - Linkin Park & Jay-Z
Save a Horse (Ride a Cowboy) - Big & Rich
Get Low - Lil Jon & The East Side Boyz
How Low - Ludacris, Ciara, Pitbull
Bleed It Out - Linkin Park
Poker Face - Lady GaGa
Head Gone - Elephant Man
Gasolina (DJ Buddha Remix) - Daddy Yankee
It's Only Wednesday - Crash Kings

As you may have noticed, I'm a big fan of hip hop and reggaeton, with a little rock thrown in. I love anything that has a decent beat and can keep me moving. I am pretty excited about putting this playlist into action. Unfortunately that won't be until Wednesday since I work both jobs Monday and Tuesday. By then I will have forgotten what I put on there so it'll be a big surprise! I'm a dork, I know this.

I actually have a pretty good lineup of food related posts coming up this week so that's exciting. With photos and everything!! I had the ultimate comfort food dinner tonight - macaroni & cheese and hot dogs. I grew up on this meal and it used to make me feel like death afterwards. This version most certainly did not. Stay tuned to find out why!!

Friday, April 9, 2010

Avoiding the Office Cafeteria

Working in an office with a full service cafeteria is a blessing and a curse. Temptations abound and the first few weeks at my new job definitely were a challenge for me to resist them. I'm doing a lot better this week though, and thought it would be a good idea to share with you what I've been bringing to work for lunch. I'm a single girl and I work two jobs so I don't have a lot of time to prepare meals in advance so I am always on the lookout for healthy, quick and easy options.

Two of my go-to lunches are Kettle Cuisine and Amy's soups. Today's lunch will be Kettle Cuisine Angus Beef Steak Chili and yesterday I had Amy's Organic Lentil Vegetable Soup. Along side both of these I have a few Garden of Eatin' Organic Blue Corn Tortilla chips.

I always keep in my desk drawer a couple of packets of Eco•Planet Organic Maple and Brown Sugar Hot Cereal for the mid-morning or late afternoon snack. I love this cereal, it's packed with 7 whole gf grains, protein and fiber. Back in the day I was on a desperate search for instant gf oatmeal that tasted good and this is my favorite solution.

In the morning, I have one or two slices of Udi's whole grain toast and one or two eggs. I try to prepare them at home so that I know they're organic, free-range, etc. But sometimes I get them at the cafe.

Lately I've been relying on Chipotle (way too often) for dinner. Especially on the nights that I have to go from my day job to my night job. I do need to start getting back to cooking dinners so that I can also have leftovers for lunches. I do not want to rely on too many packaged foods for my meals, organic or not. It's just been tough because on the nights that I don't work, I try to get over to the gym anyway to get in a workout. This time of year weekends are busy too, so shopping has been a challenge. I'll get it all worked out though! I'm definitely making progress.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Review: (kind of) Newman's Own Organics Dark Chocolate

Working in an office with lots of other people is a new thing for me. My group is awesome and I love the people here but there's just one thing. They love to share treats! The kicker - my desk is the central location so guess where all the treats land...

Temptation

This morning I checked my email and there's a message to the group from Andy saying that there are peanut m&m's on my desk for all to share. I turned around and there they were. You don't even understand, I've been dreaming of peanut m&m's all week!! It's taking all of my will to avoid those bags, but I will WIN this battle!!

Last week I won a giveaway! Heidi over at Adventures of a Gluten Free Mom gave away an Easy Lunchbox System from EasyLunchBoxes.com and I won it!! I was so pumped because this is just what I needed to help me get back on track with work lunches. Last night I finally hit the grocery store and since I'd been craving those m&m's I picked up an alternative. Newman's Own Organics Dark Chocolate. It's gluten and dairy free but made on shared equipment. I'm ok with that. It's delicious. This one is only 54% dark chocolate but that's perfect for me. I am still not used to super dark chocolate but I'm working on it. I know it's the better choice. This chocolate is smooth and creamy and delicious. I love it better than the rice milk variations of chocolate that I've been eating lately. I'm trying to keep it down to one square a day, or maybe two... I'm just really glad I had it with me today so I can avoid those m&m's!!

Lunch

Also you can see that I have Amy's soup for lunch and a banana for a snack. This morning I brought in some Udi's bread and had the cafe cook me up one egg. I prefer to cook an egg at home but I kind of rushed out of the house this morning. So I'm getting back on track and feeling good!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Still no photos!

I miss posting photos all the time. I miss taking photos too! Anyway that's not really the point of this post.

Today I went in to see The Doc for a follow up visit. It's been 4 months now that I've been med free. I've lost about 15 pounds, I'm lifting heavy at the gym and gaining all of my strength back and thensome, and my stomach is doing amazing. He is mystified. I know that he truly does not believe that this wacky diet of mine is a cure. He started talking about putting me back on meds simply because I do have Crohn's and he wants to prevent a flare. I said thanks, but no thanks! He said he was ok with me continuing on as I am and going back to see him in 6 months!! Wahooooo!!!! I'm so happy. I was afraid he'd give me a hassle about it but he didn't. He keeps saying "what are we going to do with you?" and said he wished he could take credit for my great health but essentially it's all me. I was thinking back to my early twenties when my diet was at it's absolute worst and how nasty my stomach was back then... I've come a long way! I may have some slip-ups here and there but for the most part, I actually prefer to eat the way I do now. Eating natural, healthy food really changes the way your body functions on many levels. I feel the difference now when I eat something of little nutritional value, I am never satisfied and my body keeps feeling hungry but when I eat real foods my body is happy and I am not hungry all the time. I can eat three meals a day and be done with it. If you don't feed it what it needs, it's going to keep asking for it! What a transformation. It's been a long journey but I am so glad I've worked so hard to get to where I am today.

Oy.

I have 244 unread blog posts to read... and that's just in the gluten free section. I can read blogs at work but I am so far behind it's taking me a while to catch up! Work is good, training is slow but that's ok. I'm still working at the Y Monday and Tuesday nights so my week is long and tiring. But I'm happy! Glad to be working!! I'm still a tiny bit slacking on the diet. I did good for 3/4 of the day on Easter and then the desserts attacked me. I took the crumbs of the cheesecake off of the knife, and then a teeeeny tiny sliver of chocolate cake and then 2 or 3 or 4 M&M's... I even brought my own dessert! I ate that too... I had been feeling good so I was allowing myself to keep sliding, but it caught up to me yesterday. I haven't really been that bad but Easter was a big slip. I know, I know. I've told my co-workers of my restrictions so that helps to keep me accountable. And home is never an issue because I don't buy anything at the store that I can't eat. It's other peoples' houses and the cafe that get me!! Gotta plan better. I did bring my Udi's this morning but it was moldy! That's one thing about leaving bread out of the freezer that I'd forgotten about. Good thing I bought two loaves so I have a fresh one waiting for me. I keep hot cereal packets and soup cups in my drawer so that helps too. I just haven't had a minute to go grocery shopping!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

My Cup Runneth Over

Two years ago I was very sick. I was lost and confused and weak and my twenties had been mostly a long, frustrating road of heartache and pain. So much more than just stomach pain. But at that point the most important issue at hand was my health which was deteriorating rapidly. It's funny because in my second post ever on this blog I compared my life to a passenger waiting for a train that just passes right by. Tonight I sat here in my room crying, completely overwhelmed, because I feel like I've come out on the other side of the tunnel.

I am healthy. I feel amazing. I have a new job that I love. I am strong again. I have very little pain, and nausea is pretty much a thing of the past. But it's so much more than that. I am incredibly happy. I know it's not ever possible to have total control over your life, but I do believe that it's extremely important to accept the things you cannot change, have the courage to change the things you can, and the wisdom to know the difference. This has been a process I've been learning all of my life but over the past two years I've really learned that I am a lot stronger than I ever thought. This life is an extraordinary thing and we must not take it for granted. If you get a chance, take it. If it changes your life, let it. Nobody said it would be easy, they just promised it would be worth it.