21 Day Yoga Girl Challenge Day 9: True Forgiveness #yogagirlchallenge

Forgiveness is today’s challenge, to let go of past grudges and hurts, to let go of blame, shame, and guilt. Forgiving others and ourselves is a powerful way of releasing negative energy and freeing ourselves from the clenches of the past. It’s a way of accepting things the way they are instead of being upset and wishing they were different.

Over the years, I feel that I’ve already done a lot of work in this area and have forgiven others who may have hurt me and have let go of any grudges I held against other people. I feel much more peaceful inside and willing to go with the flow of life. I’ve also forgiven myself for things I’ve done wrong and have stopped judging and criticizing myself.

Today, the person I need to forgive is myself-for eating foods that I know I can’t tolerate due to allergies/sensitivities.

These are dyshidrotic eczema blisters on my finger that I get as an allergic reaction to offending foods. They are painful, fluid filled blisters that itch intensely and pop open then crack and bleed as they split into fissures. This painful condition affects the feet and hands. I also get regular eczema (red, itchy patches) on my face, neck, and body as well as hives and a stomach ache for a while.

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This is what happens after just a few meals of no-no foods. If I continue to eat what I like it will get really bad. So I try every day every snack every meal to make the right choices. It’s a very restrictive diet (no grains, sugar, eggs, vinegar, nightshade vegetables) and most of the time I have a lot of self-discipline. But sometimes I mess up and then I pay the price for about a week or two. I won’t fall on the floor and die, but I will continue to get sicker and sicker if I don’t stop.

Click here to see more pictures and read an earlier post about my dyshidrotic eczema (before I changed my diet in may 2013. It used to be really bad!

It’s kind of a vicious cycle because I will eat really clean for a while and feel great. Then I will have a craving and think maybe I can handle a little bit. So I will eat something that’s off limits, and even though my mouth and my stomach are happy at the moment, the reaction happens every.single.time. You would think I would learn that no I can’t handle even a little bit!

I forgive myself for messing up a few times in the past week. It’s tough to have self discipline all the time every single day. My body is telling me it needs a clean diet to run properly. So I’m thankful I have figured out why I used to have so many symptoms and how to change my diet so I feel healthy and well. Just like falling off the Paddleboad during yoga class on the ocean, I will get back up and try again. Tomorrow’s a new day, and I can start again.

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I’m loving this challenge so far and trying to weave as many days together as possible. Did some yin yoga at home today as I felt super tired and needed some relaxation and restoration. I’ve been on time everywhere I’ve needed to go. Drank lemon water, walked my dogs, meditated before bed and in the morning. Cassidy’s educational fund grew even more, and I’ve been kind to everyone I’ve come into contact with.

Thanks for reading this entry. Peace out!

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Gluten Sensitivity and Celiac Disease

Entero Lab Food Sensitivity Testing

After a lifetime of symptoms, years of elimination diets and a false negative blood test (in 2009), I’ve finally been diagnosed with a gluten sensitivity after taking a stool test and gene test from enterolab.com Apparently, the stool tests are more sensitive than blood tests and picked up on my increased levels of antibodies in my gut. I also have a double copy of the genes for gluten sensitivity; that means one copy of the gene from each parent. Now that I have a firm diagnosis, it’s easier for me to follow a strict and permanent gluten-free diet.

I heard of this website and these tests from two doctors: my gynecologist and my chiropractor. Besides chronic pain and multiple surgeries as well as digestive and skin symptoms, my hormones also went out of whack. My chiropractor discovered that with applied kinesiology testing and recommended the gluten sensitivity test as well as getting my hormones tested through my gynecologist. I was pleasantly surprised when she recommended the same website for the same test. My thyroid, cortisol, and testosterone all were out of normal limits. The lab is overseen by an M.D. and after two doctors suggesting the tests to me, I felt confident in trying them. I went with Panel B (stool and gene testing for gluten sensitivity and celiac disease).

Luckily, I don’t have the genes for celiac disease, although the only way to really know if I’ve developed the disease is to have an endoscopy. In celiac disease, the villi in the intestines get broken down and then nutrients can’t be absorbed properly, leading to a whole host of other problems in the body. In the endoscopy, they biopsy a piece of the small intestine to see how much damage to the villi there is. I’m still considering getting one, but I’m not sure if the treatment is any different. Meaning, if I have celiac disease I’m pretty sure the treatment is just to stop eating gluten, which is the same treatment for gluten sensitivity.

I’ve completed about eight weeks of a gluten-free diet again after going off the wagon for about a year. In 2009, I started elimination diets and found that I react to wheat, corn/sugar, and eggs so I took them all out of my diet, lost twenty pounds and felt great. Then I got really frustrated not being able to eat like a normal person. I saw an allergist in the spring of 2012 for another opinion, and she told me to eat whatever I wanted and we would try to manage the symptoms. A year later in the spring of 2013, I had gained back all twenty pounds, felt swollen, bloated, rashy and sick. That’s when I found out my hormones were imbalanced and started seeing the chiropractor at a natural wellness center. About eight weeks ago, I started seeing a dietician also because I knew I needed to clean up my diet again, but I needed help in being more prepared with “clean” foods. When I’m not prepared, I reach for the wrong foods and then get sick. She told me she thought I sounded like a classic case of celiac disease and that I should start immediately eliminating gluten from my diet again. A few weeks later, I got the positive test results.

It’s interesting because the dietician doesn’t think corn is a common allergy and told me to try some of the gluten-free products that contain corn and sugar to see what would happen. Over these past eight weeks, I’ve had some gluten-free cookies and pizza crusts, some corn chips and corn tortillas with Mexican foods. Every time, I get bloated and sick. So, when I followed up with her recently, she told me to go gluten-free, corn-free, and egg-free for six months and then try reintroducing corn and egg one at a time. There is a possibility there has been so much damage in my gut that I can’t digest correctly and over time it might heal enough to where I could tolerate some of those foods again. If I can ever eat corn and eggs again, it will open up a whole lot more choices of foods for me.

The hardest part for me is when I’m traveling (like this week, I’ve been on a beach vacation) or just eating out in general. It’s amazing how many foods have gluten and corn and eggs. I have to be very selective and ask for food that is PLAIN! No sauces, no marinades, no spices, and that means lots of salads, grilled chicken, burgers with no buns, rice, and potatoes (whole, not mashed). It gets boring at times, and yes it is very frustrating not to be able to eat what the rest of my family eats.

I’m considering ordering the test for corn allergy (along with chicken, potatoes and other nightshades) but since it is an expensive test, for now I am just going to avoid corn since there is a clear pattern of gastric distress every time I eat it. Allergy or intolerance, I know it doesn’t agree with me. Since sugar is in the corn family, many people who react to corn also react to sugar, and I seem to fall in that category. There is no protein in sugar, so it’s more of an intolerance than allergy. But think lactose intolerance (I have that too), the symptoms are the same. For some reason I don’t process sugars right.

If you are suffering from any of these symptoms, I highly recommend you visit the website link above and order the tests for yourself. They will send your results to your doctor, who can then help you interpret and understand the results and advise you further.

Thanks for reading this entry. Peace out!

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Allergy Update

“I’ve never seen your mom order the pizza before. I even brought lemons for her salad dressing” a familiar waiter at one of my favorite restaurants said to my daughter the other day. I guess that means I am a regular: he is used to my order (appetizer-caprese salad hold the vinegar, fresh basil instead of basil sauce, dinner-Mediterranean salad add grilled chicken no feta no olives no dressing, olive oil and lemons instead). I love eating at this restaurant because they actually have a few items I can eat on my no wheat, corn, eggs, and sugar diet. The problem is they also have brick oven pizzas that are really hot, fresh, thin crusts, homemade sauce, and have delectable toppings. I know this because someone in my family always orders one, and I almost always sneak a bite or two. This time was different. This time I decided to get the ‘Super Mario’ the equivalent of a meat lover’s pizza. I used to eschew such foods because of the belly ache and rash that ensued.

It’s been a while since I’ve written about eczema, my nemesis. The first allergist I saw was on Virginia, and he explained that allergies show themselves three ways: hay fever, asthma, and eczema/hives. Our immune systems are like buckets, and allergens full up the bucket until it overflows, and we have symptoms.

Up until a few months ago I was getting allergy care from my ENT (shots and antihistamines) and dermatologist (ointments for rashes). I’ve been diagnosed with multiple allergies, to environmental stuff like dust, dust mites, mold, cats, trees and grasses. Shots and nasal sprays helped and continue to help with the hay fever, but I kept getting eczema and hives. I got patch tested and was diagnosed with allergies to nickel, fragrance, and several other chemicals omnipresent in our society. I gave my house a makeover for dust mites and chemicals. I got my eyes tattooed for eye liner and switched to chemical free makeup, shampoo and conditioner (which are all very hard to find). Still I got eczema and hives.

I was tested for food allergies then told the tests are not reliable, and that elimination diets are the only way to know for certain. So I went on a major elimination diet starting in 2009 and discovered reactions (both digestive and rashes) to wheat, corn, sugar, and eggs. My skin clears up when I eat clean, but boy is it hard to eat that clean!

In April I started seeing a new allergist. I told her I wanted a tenth opinion because it’s so frustrating to be me. I explained my long history with allergies and treatments, and vented my frustrations about not being able to eat like a normal person. Her philosophy is to help people like me learn to live ‘out of the bubble’ by identifying intolerances vs allergies and by managing symptoms. Since I don’t swell up and drop to the floor with anaphylaxis, I think mine are intolerances, not true allergies. This is a good thing. Although the fear of the face rash keeps me from eating whatever I want.

Friends who suffer from eczema-listen up, this is the best advice I’ve received so far. It’s called the ‘seal and heal’ technique. Take several baths a day. She said her worst cases take three baths a day. She told me to take two a day (I had blisters and cracking skin). Then apply ointments while the skin is still wet. I use proactiv on my face and triamcinilone on my body. Bathing (vs showering) allows your body to absorb water at a deep level. Think about it, drowning victims are bloated when they are pulled from the water. Ourbbodies absorb water through our pores. Applying moisture and ointments with wet skin seals in the moisture from the bath. I only use a towel on my hair now, and the result is that my eczema has basically cleared up. The dishydrotic eczema on my hands and feet comes back periodically, and I revert to bathing and medicating.

While I’ve been able to eat ‘out of the bubble’ and not have any eczema erupt on my face, the digestive issues remain. Because of my intolerances, when I eat gluten and sugar I get really bloated. Since April, I’ve put on a solid ten pounds. It’s bad news but I’m also happy to have enjoyed some normal food. Whenever I feel uncomfortable with the extra pounds, I remember how good those cheeseburgers tasted, how cheesy the pizza was, and how much I hated eating ‘in a bubble.’

The jury is still out, but I think I might prefer the frustration of not eating like a normal person to the bloated heavy feeling I have after eating what everybody else eats. Let’s face it, the American diet is terrible!

Daybook

FOR TODAY:  July 16, 2011

Outside my window…birds are singing, the lawn guy woke me up bright and early, looks like another blue sky day.

I am thinking…how much I hate having eczema.

I am thankful…for having time off during the summer. It’s such a contrast to being a full time teacher during the school year.

From the learning rooms…not much going on today since it’s Saturday.  Got Zoe started yesterday on an online textbook for preAP 6th grade math.  She worked for a long time and seemed very interested. Thomas is still learning to go one page at a time through his summer bridge workbook (loves to skip around) and is enjoying his new library books.

In the kitchen…coffee!

I am wearing…jean shorts and a turquoise tank top.

I am creating…new music.  Working on 21 Guns by Green Day (guitar).

I am going…to take the kids to see Harry Potter & the Deathly Hallows part 2 later.

I am wondering…what I have to do to make the eczema stop flaring up.  Every day it changes. Every day there is a new patch of itchy bubbles on my hands.  I also wonder why I am the only person I know with this problem.

I am reading…the bible, Genesis 4-10 today.

I am hoping…Brent will come see us soon.  We haven’t seen him since Christmas.

I am looking forward to…spending the weekend with my family.

I am hearing… “If I Had You” by Adam Lambert   http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wmXQFwlD7vk

Around the house…everything is quiet. Joe took Thomas and Zoe to Taekwondo. Sierra is still asleep but has to be at work soon.  Got a lot of cleaning up done yesterday, but it seems like it’s never all done at one time except for when the maids come.  I am working on ideas for redecorating the bonus room.  We took everything down off the walls, and I’m trying to figure out what I’m going to do with it.

I am pondering…the stories I read today in the bible.  Will write a separate blog post about my thoughts.

One of my favorite things…my house.

A few plans for the rest of the week: gym/pool/yoga, movies, playing guitar, hopefully sleeping more tomorrow.

Here is picture for thought I am sharing…

Dyshidrotic Eczema

 

 

Dyshodrotic Eczema:
     After taking a round of prednisone while on our beach vacation, all my eczema patches healed up. My hands were completely normal and the skin on my fingers was soft again. All the swelling went down. We stayed at a condo for a week in Destin, so we could cook most meals. In Pensacola we stayed at a hotel for three additional nights, meaning eating out for every meal. I ate lots of foods that I typically avoid due to my allergies (wheat, corn, sugar, yeast and eggs) like pizza, fried chicken, steak/cheese sub, sandwiches etc. I hoped for a miracle, that since my skin had a chance to clear up, maybe this time I wouldn’t react. I knew I was taking risks and would probably pay the price for it later. We had a couple of stressful days when we got home, and I continued eating processed foods out of convenience. Only a few days later, I saw the telltale signs of an impending flare up…
         My reactions to foods vary. Most of the time, I get what I call my ‘red mustache’ or my ‘eczema goatee.’ My lips, cheeks, chin, neck and ears start itching and burning. Other common eczema spots are in the creases of my elbows, backs of my knees, and occasionally a splattering of hives all up and down both arms and legs. I hate the facial symptoms the most, but coming in a close second is this awful curse of having dyshidrotic hand and foot eczema. Clear bubbles erupt in patches from deep under my skin and itch intensely. When I scratch, the sores break open, and the bubbles ooze clear fluid. They dry up and split, called fissures, and are incredibly painful. For a while I had a fissure on the bottom of my foot and it hurt just to walk! As I type, my feet are fine, but seven of my fingers are afflicted by this heinous disease. If I eat ‘clean’ these eruptions will subside, dry up, the skin becomes rough and scarred and takes extensive time to heal.
       I did some reading about it, and it says it’s associated with food allergies some of the time but is more commonly triggered by allergies to nickel (yes I’m also allergic to nickel too).  It often appears during times of stress, and they suggest not getting your hands and feet wet too often because of the overall drying effect.  However, there is no cure. Antihistamines and steroid creams treat the symptoms, but I think in my case my only saving grace is to stop eating processed foods and get back to an allergy free diet. It is much easier said than done!

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0001835/
http://www.dyshidroticeczema.net/
http://www.internationaleczema-psoriasisfoundation.org/dyshidrotic_eczema.php4

Thanks for reading this entry. Peace out!

Food Allergies

A few of my friends have asked me for information regarding food allergies. So, I wanted to blog about it to let everybody know everything that I know. I have spent years figuring out what I’m allergic to and how to avoid the allergens.

First of all, I discovered my food allergies because of my eczema. I get really bad eczema on my lips, cheeks, eyes, forehead, neck, elbows, and knees. I have been through all the testing available to humankind and found out that food allergy testing is unreliable. There are false positives and false negatives all the time. So why bother with testing? That is the topic of another blog post. Today’s post will focus on what to do next. So the testing says you aren’t allergic to foods, but you still get eczema. Itching, painful eczema is nobody’s friend, and it’s time you do something about it!

The top five allergens are wheat, corn, soy, eggs, and yeast (in no particular order). To determine if you are allergic to one of these foods, you have to take one at a time and eliminate it from your diet for two weeks. See if there are any changes in your symptoms. I get eczema and I also get a belly ache. I started with wheat and then went to corn and then to yeast. I am allergic to all three. When I have any, I get a bad belly ache and a bad rash that lasts for a few days. When I leave them alone, my rashes subside.

OK, so I’ve found the culprits, now what? I have to eliminate these things from my diet completely. That is easier said than done in today’s food market. So many things are pre processed. If they are pre processed you can pretty much cross them off your list. Corn and wheat hide under other synonyms like maltodextrin, modified food starch, xanthan gum, dextrose etc. You have to eat whole, real foods. I will follow up with a list of whole foods and meal plans you can follow.

my kids and my food allergy update

I woke up late this morning (love sleeping in on the weekends) and cutie pie Thomas announced to me that today he has a date. When I asked with whom, he informed me his pillow (my king sized pillow that he always steals and he decided to draw a happy face on)…and not only is it a date..they are also getting married! As a consolation, he told me I could be his second wife. Nice of him to include me.

Zoe helped Joe with the dishes this morning. She is pretty good at emptying the dishwasher (Sierra’s job) but doesn’t like to load it. With Sierra being gone all week, we’ve needed some extra help getting all the chores done. I took Zoe to get a haircut yesterday to get it out of the way before my surgery (I found out from the dr. he doesn’t want me to drive for six weeks – ugh) and before school starts in a few weeks.

Sierra comes home in two days…I miss her tons but I get it that she needs to spend time w/ her dad and grandparents. I have to share.

OK, now for my food allergy updates. The blood tests all came back negative, just like the skin tests a few years ago. It just goes to show they are not reliable (which the food allergist explained to me after charging me $350 for the skin testing). I don’t know about the gluten intolerance but I do know that I get a rash whenever I mess up and have any wheat or corn products. So I will stick with eliminating them from my diet despite the test results. Just the other night, Joe was trying to be helpful and picked up a yummy rotisserie chicken for dinner. He put it in a brown rice tortilla w/ some lettuce and tomato and cheese and he forgot about mayo having corn syrup and put mayo on it too! I just can’t seem to escape it. It seems like I am always messing up and having a little somehow. It takes a few days for the rashes to go down.