Monday, April 20, 2015

Baggage

I'm probably one of the only sophomores at my college that walks around with a lunch box.

Me and the blue bag!
The thought hits me several times a week - Tuesday and Thursday to be exact - as the spongy blue box brushes my leg as I walk to class. It's contents vary: usually a salad, sometimes a quesadilla, and always packed neatly in one of my reusable plastic containers with a fork and napkin tucked at its side. Always a gluten free lunch to accompany my 1:30 class - and it's always just me carrying. 

When I first visited my college, Point Loma Nazarene University, I remember walking around the cafeteria with awe. As a highschool senior (and undiagnosed celiac), I saw lots of exciting, pre-made meals in my future. I saw my high school lunch box sitting rejected at home. Until celiac disease entered my life, and canceled my meal plan. 

Throwback to my first family visit!

Whether in class or in a non gluten-free friendly restaurant, my blue bag isn't far away. Every super hero needs a side kick - for me, my little lunch box is just that. 

I'm probably one of the only girls whose purse, rather than being stuffed with lipstick, a mirror and powder, boasts a plastic bag of pills that probably wouldn't make it past airport security. Gas-X. Tums. Gaviscon. Tylenol. Tylenol sinus. 

I'm not one for fashion...but this looks about right! (Source)

As someone with celiac and fibromyalgia, I never know when the pain - in my stomach or head - might start up. Sometimes food, even when certified gluten free, and my tummy decide they aren't on talking terms anymore. Sometimes I sit in one position too long and each tight muscle files its own complaint. 

But, since going gluten free, most days I don't need to dig into my stash. Most days, I kick butt at the gym, embark on a culinary adventure, and savor being free from the pain that used to haunt me every day

GF Benefits? Another yes!

I know I'm the only one rockin' my stylin' backpack. 

Honestly, I was never a big fan of pink. Too girly for the tom-boy who wore pants to her middle school graduation. But, I couldn't resist the bag whose sequin stripes reminded me of Point Loma sunsets.

One of the many gorgeous PLNU sunsets!

And then I covered it in patches of me. A soccer ball here, a poodle for my dog Sammi there. The "Casey" engraved Scooby Doo ribbon and several "Certified Gluten Free" buttons. 

I've gotten more compliments on this backpack than I can count - including from a sweet middle school boy who checked out my bling while his companions (loudly) checked out my butt. (Thank you, yoga?). Either way, among the sea (PLNU pun if you know my school overlooks the ocean!) of blue and black bags, mine never fails to stand out. 

Everyone knows that this baggage - more than most 19 year old girls have yet to see - is 100% mine. 

Or a bad ass backpack...
The fact is, autoimmune diseases can function like bags stuffed with bricks at times. No matter how much I try to outrun them, lift and hide them, or downplay their weight, they stay hooked to my side.

But, my baggage is beautiful. Yes, my lunchbox is worn, but it's contents still make teachers stop class and ask, "What is that delicious smell? Pesto?" (True story!) Yes, those pills are literally overkill - but, if you ever have a headache, I'm a 24 hour pharmacy. And yes my backpack reveals all my secrets - my passions, my background, my celiac diagnosis - at first glance, but I have nothing to hide

Even silly photos...

Because most arms are tired by more than textbooks and groceries. By secrets and past addictions. By family tragedies and health scares. And, yes, even by diseases most people can't pronounce. We all have baggage. It's time to stop burying them and start bedazzling. 



Do you ever feel weighed down by ceust or other health problems? What's your view on "baggage?" Comment below!

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Five Ways to Master Gluten Free Blogging

I have a confession to make. One, my granola addiction is totally out of control (end-of-the-semester insanity triggers munchies mania apparently!). Two, and more relevant, however? My email inbox is overflowing - while my replies have dwindled. Mental apologies sent your way!

The message I'm responding to today via blog post - a flattering email from a Miss Morgan - asked for advice on navigating the gluten free blogging community and gaining social media followers. Well, Morgan, I still have a long way to go - but here are five of the best tips I've learned!

My handy-dandy Multimedia Phone folder!
1. First, be authentic - whether on your blog, Instagram, Twitter or other social media account. A common problem with online accounts is the "sunny-side-up-bias," as I call it. 

I'm talking about the Facebook updates on how you ran 12 miles today - versus how you were glutened two weeks ago and spent all weekend on the toilet. Or the Instagram pictures of salads and no more than 2 Tbsp of nut butter on your oatmeal - none of the chocolate bars you devoured that night to be seen. 

Lil' naughty and a lil' nice!
Honestly, my blog grew the most when I was broken and blogging from the hospital. The more honestly I shared my struggles with celiac disease, the more people could relate. And while I don't share everything I eat in a day, I'll admit adding half a pound of granola (the addiction is real!) to my oatmeal post-picture. And when I chow down on a huge cookie from Starry Lanes Bakery, it's a treat - but that day, it's also a necessity

2. Part of being authentic is finding your own voice. If you read posts by me versus those of Amber or Gluten Dude, you'll immediately notice a difference. Amber's blog shines with positivity and encouragement, while Gluten Dude is the king of proactive sarcasm. Me? I like to think I'm a mix.

Half wanna-be hero, half ham...
And, if I attain my goal, that combo would include: positivity, honest sometimes-celiac-sucks news flashes, encouragement and a whole lot of sarcasic, punny humor (ranging from toothbrush foreplay before kissing the gluten-eating boyfriend to my non-celiac related "floating head syndrome"). I was weird before celiac - and that's the same quirky sass used on my blog! 

How do you talk to your friends, your family or even strangers on the street? That's the voice you should type in - because that's who your audience will become. 

3. The fact is, when you do start connecting with the blogging community, see them as more than urls - see them as friends! I am lucky enough to belong to a welcoming, all-inclusive gluten free blogging community. I still remember dancing in my living room when Gluten Dude - or God of gluten free blogging, as I knew him initially - replied to one of my tweets. 

Yes, my dance moves really are that groovy!
Blogging relationships can start with a simple comment. A retweet. An email. And, as I've learned, fellow bloggers can transform into mentors or protegees, cheerleaders, or even other college celiacs you can text randomly during the weekend (Ali, you know I'm talking about you!) 

Blogging is all about connections - and while building ties with companies and websites has been awesome, it's the people who keep my fingers returning to the keyboard!

4. Unless you're starting a blog all about some mysterious cure for celiac disease (and if you have one, please do!), it's unlikely that you'll be the first of your kind in the community. (In fact, there probably are some "magic" panaceas already marketed online). You should, though, try to add something new to the new community. 

My niche: the gluten free celiac at PLNU!
For me, I slid into the niche of "gluten free college celiac" - a category filled by too few blogs to answer my 5 million questions before starting freshman year. Contributing can also involve new recipes, though, or new ways of looking at life with celiac. You have a funny celiac story others haven't told before? Tell it! (I've certainly done that once or twice...or many blog posts!) 

Don't publish content just because "everyone is doing it." I have bloggers I admire who always post interesting links for the week or What I Ate Wednesday - and I love reading them, but that just isn't my blogging jam (at the moment, at least!) Instead of worrying over what everyone is doing, think of what they're not. That's where some of the best blog posts are found

Lots of topics of choice!
5. My biggest advice for a new gluten free or celiac blogger? Take pride in your stats - but don't let gaining more followers become your only goal. 

Sure, I love when my Instagram or Twitter alerts me to another new Casey the College Celiac recruit. Everyone likes to know their voice is heard and appreciated! But, I don't write to wrangle in another reader. I write to work out my own gluten free frustrations, ease the way for future college celiacs, and share a favorite recipe with fellow food-limited foodies. I post pictures of my food to prove that eating gluten and dairy free doesn't mean boring or bland. To show how my eye for color, skill with a camera, and appreciation of a nicely cooked meal has improved with time. 

The whole evolution!
And, in the end, I treasure one nice message on how I've helped another celiac or college student over any number of followers my accounts show. (Yes, even if class loads prevent me from responding immediately, I appreciate the short or long words of every reader!)

I have a last confession to make: Morgan's email surprised me almost as much as the success of this blog. When I started my little corner of cyberspace, I had no idea that anyone - beyond my loving family, of course - would read my words. Someone from Argentina? Canada? All over the U.S.? That didn't even enter my mind.

A picture from my first post!
As much "success" as I have found in my 1+ year of blogging, however, I still don't regularly visualize myself as a mentor. As a blogger worthy of being interviewed, emailed for advice, or featured as an approved resource for celiacs. But, I'll admit to being pretty excited about it. 

Sorry for the wait, Morgan. I hope these tips were worth it! My experience learning them certainly has been. 



What's your favorite part of being a member of a blogging/gluten free/celiac community? What are some of your tips for social media success? Comment below! 





Monday, April 13, 2015

Besting the Bloat

Celiac disease comes with a lot of fine print...mainly because not every celiac symptom is as societally "attractive" as losing weight

Well...you can have mine!
(Thanks to Gluten Dude for the pic!)
To help celebrate IBS Awareness Month, though, I'm opening up on a subject very near to my heart...a handswidth below it actually. The lovely adventure that is bloating

Looking back at my pre-diagnosis self, one of the weirdest things - besides the limitless gluten consumption, of course - is how well behaved my stomach used to be. Working out + eating semi well + a teenage metabolism = a mostly flat stomach. Today, though? That equation is muddled depending on what I eat, how much I've slept, and whether I've performed the required rituals to the gastrointestinal gods. 

Throwback!
As frustrating, embarrassing and - I'll admit it - debilitating as bloating sometimes feels, my goal is always is to do the best with what I have. And, with these top 5 tips, I can. 

1. If you fail on one diet, try, try again! When I was first diagnosed, I kicked gluten and dairy out of the kitchen and thought I was done. As month's dragged on and my stomach kept ballooning, though, I knew more changes had to happen. (For me, nothing is worse than having a doctor press your stomach during a check up and exclaim, "Oh you're bloated!" when you thought it was totally normal!) 

My "new" diet...(source)
That's where the low fodmap diet entered my life. Fodmaps refers to foods that contains high levels of certain sugars like fructans and lactose that can cause gas in certain people. My mom was suffering from similar problems and, after hearing her improvements on the diet, I decided it couldn't hurt. Bye bye mangoes, apples, onions, garlic, and other grocery staples! But, as weeks passed, I said hello to less regular bloating. 

Now, I don't totally cross off every item on the high Fodmap list, but I try to limit my overall intake. Along with nanas, I make my banana ice cream with cantaloupe and dragonfruit instead of peaches and apples. And I fill my salads with less cabbage and more cucumber. It's not a panacea by any means, but it has taught me to pay more attention to my body. And accept the drawbacks when I eat a (bloat-causing) treat

Limits doesn't mean limited!

2. Next, don't compare! Even after changing my diet, however, I still deal with flares. During midterms, I felt like a bowling ball rolled up and camped out under my shirt all week. Apparently stress and sleep deficits are two big tummy triggers of mine. What makes an unhappy belly worse, though? Seeing girls flash taut belly buttons while devouring chicken tenders and fries

Fact is, it isn't fair. It isn't fair that I follow a reasonably healthy lifestyle and my body refuses to play along. That I work hard for the abs that disappear with one wrong meal. But, I'm not those girls. And those girls aren't Casey the College Celiac, for better or worse. 


One and only...
Without knowing their health history or daily lives, comparing one part of our body at one time of one day isn't even accurate - so why even bother doing something that makes me feel worse anyway? 

3. A better place to focus? Stocking your closet with camaflogue. When my tummy flares up, I break out the flowy tops and dresses. I also love pulling on a high waisted skirt with an elastic waist band. Not only are they comfortable, but the high waistline also hides bumps and draws the eye upwards. 

Maybe armored dresses weren't so crazy after all...

Still, the best camoglogue to wear is the piece that makes you feel like a million-flat-bellied-bucks! On a particular awful day last month, I threw on my favorite long green dress. And while all I could see was my bulging belly, all eveyone said was: "You look gorgeous!" Who says dresses can't also serve as suits of armor

4. Besides taking medication during flares (I use charcoal tablets or Gas-X pills), I also force myself to get moving! First off, exercise helps get that trapped air moving. Secondly, it's a great distraction! Depending on my level of "mobility" (great practice for pregnancy, perhaps?), I'll usually stick to the stationary bike, stairclimber or walking on the treadmill. When I'm really desperate, I'll force myself into a yoga practice - you can imagine the entertaining google searches on my computer

A post-workout selfie after yoga!
For me, sweating is the ultimate stress reliever. More than that, though, it lets me appreciate my body for all it does do. It may freak at certain foods, but I can still bike 12 miles. The mirror may not show what I want, but let's see it try and catch me on the treadmill! I'm more than my bloat - and my body is too. 

5. Finally, when all else fails, do what makes you happy and try to accept that the bloat has bested you for now. For me, that translates into pj's (thank you high school gym shorts!), Netflix and the heat pack. Sometimes, I like being alone with just me and the belly. I don't have to worry about how I look or explaining feeling crummy. 


All kinds of heroes...Netflix or otherwise!
Other times, friends make me the happiest. Nothing gets your mind off your own problems like watching horror video game walkthroughs in a dark room packed with college kids! 

I can't say that I embrace my bloat - I can't say that I even accept it. I've got Amber to look to for inspiration on that. But, I'm getting better. I may never totally best the bloat or all of celiac disease's other "fine prints." But, I will keep doing my best at it. 

And, to me, that's what IBS Awareness Month is all about. 


*Also found at RunningwithSpoon's link party!*


Do you deal with a fine print of celiac disease? What is your best bloating tip? Comment below? 




Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Five Ways to Love Dating a Gluten-Eater

Two girls catching up after months apart. Thirty minutes of friendly gossip, from college antics to my new love life. One surprise statement: "I'd be surprised if you didn't end up marrying another celiac."

Honestly, I've mentally flirted with the idea before. I know bloggers in a committed relationship with a significant other and a shared food allergy/celiac diagnosis. I even blogged ages ago about the dating site for gluten free eaters only. 

Remember this?
But, as many of you know, I'm six-months-taken by (insert gasp here) a gluten-eater. And, despite the few glutening kisses we shared when I didn't realize cross contamination applies to more than cutting boards, I don't have any plans of conversion. How do I survive? 

1. First, I got everything out in the open. Fast. Truth be told, I was spared the awkward "I can't eat gluten" confession since, as my classmate freshman year, he'd already heard of my swag celiac life. But, when we went on our first date (thank you Chipotle!), I willingly answered any other questions. 

Sums it up pretty well!

Others with celiac may think differently, but I don't mind honest curiosity. Of course, asking, "What can you eat?" will always lead to better results than, "Can you eat anything?" but I'll accept baby steps. And once celiac popped into the conversation, we could move onto to more interesting topics of debate - like why I'd never seen "Forest Gump" or "Batman." Watching the latter of which turned into date number two. 

2. Next, find other common interests besides food. On a night I was particularly desperate for procrastination sources, I ended up scrolling Cosmo's latest online articles. And one of the top ones? "Signs for a Successful Relationship" - number 10 of which (yes, I'm embarrassed to have read that far) states "having the same diet." 

Food, Neftlix, and sunsets...life at PLNU!
I only have to glance at my sweet potato sliders and the boy's salad with french fries to know that clone meals is off our dating to-do list. But what do we both love? Ending a long day of classes and essay anguish with some "comforting" Walking Dead episodes. Taking walks around campus to look at the ocean. Randomly checking out Asian markets that we spot on our drive back to school. 

And, in my mind, common experiences > common foods every time. 

3. But when we do eat, the celiac (aka me!) picks. Laughable or not, probably 9/10 of our dates end up in the line at Chipotle. It's close. It's college-level cheap. And it's "not-kill-Casey" approved. Plus the boy doesn't mind "suffering" through his over-stuffed burrito bowl too terribly much.

Gluten free, girlfriend, go fetch...so many "GF" options!
Also on the food list, though? Adventures! Thanks to the Find me Gluten Free (or, as the boy jokes, "find my girlfriend") app, I've added a nearby pancake haven, pizza place, and burger bar to the list of future date night locations. And if he hears of a place that's supposedly GF-friendly? If the Internet agrees, I'm down! Dating is all about that balance - during meals and otherwise!

4. All the jokes, all the time. I'm never overly embarrassed or quiet about my celiac - being diagnosed the week of my senior prom and getting glutened on my first date tend to do that to a gal. I commonly pull out my toothbrush kissing requirements as joke material with new friends - and the boy does the same

Toothbrush jokes, puns, and silly faces...
He has asthma, and, as he put it one night when friends were contemplating our survival rate if a zombie apocalypse hit, "I can't breathe and she can't eat bread. Yeah, we'll be totally fine." Food allergies or celiac can have their (many) un-fun and awkward moments. But when your gluten-eater's learned the art of laughing without poking fun at said limitations, you know you've snagged a keeper. 

5. Finally - don't go the Romeo and Juliet route and expect the worse! Honestly, I'd be open to dating someone with celiac. It'd definitely widen the kissing opportunities. And being glutened after a date? That'd turn into a (gastrointestinal) party for two.

If this is the compromise between the two, I suppose I'll survive!
But, I'm just as open to dating someone who regularly eats my version of kryptonite. (Maybe there's only room for one superhero in a relationship?) Long term, that could mean potential kids with less chance of joining the celiac family. And short term? As long as my significant other respects and tries to understand my celiac self, boasts great dental hygiene and doesn't mind choking (more like scarfing!) down gluten free cake on my birthday, it doesn't make a difference to me! 

I don't know what my future love life holds. Heck, I'm just trying to survive the last four weeks of sophomore year! I wouldn't be surprised if I married a celiac...but I wouldn't be surprised if a gluten-eater won my heart either!


*Also found at RunningwithSpoon's link love!*

Would you prefer dating another person with celiac/food allergies? How do you co-exist with the gluten-eaters in your life? Comment below!





Monday, April 6, 2015

Bruises

I've always had a weirdly adoring relationship with a good bruise

Maybe it's because, as a child, I walked into table corners so much, I boasted a continual black eye along with my favorite pacifier. Or I maybe I should blame my years playing soccer when a shin dotted with black meant a hard game well played. Either way, I can't help but grin and shake my head when I notice that spots of my legs mimic our purple and green Easter eggs. Because, especially on the weekend of Jesus's rebirth, every bruise is a warrior wound


Dare devil since birth apparently...
I'd like to say that this Easter weekend left me totally unblemished, but, even off from school, I've had my struggles. (Including an exploding dish after Easter dinner that destroyed my beloved to-be leftover potatoes - real tears were shed, I'm afraid). And, even with Monday off, I know this week will be full of similar challenges. Three essays (including one ten-plus-pager), two projects and a small forest of TA papers to grade in four days will do that to a gal

Honestly? I'm stressed. I'm frustrated when words refuse to drip off my fingers and onto my keyboard, when blogging falls to the bottom of the list, and when I feel like I'm breathing homework even on break. For a Type A personality like me, an upcoming tsunami of assignments is like an ugly bruise on your thigh: no matter how much it hurts, you can't help but keep poking at it. Focusing on it. Worrying over it. 

Unfortunately, a bruise doesn't equal the easy button!
And, like a good bruise, sometime some tears need to be shed over it. I hate crying, especially over an assignment I know won't even cross my subconscious ten years from now. Or over the bloat that loves to rise as my stress level does the same. But, sometimes I need it. 

In soccer, my team nicknamed me "The Beast" - partly ironic considering my petite 5'3", <100 lb package. Yet, mostly true. I never noticed my size disadvantage until I looked back at pictures snapped mid-game, and while my face did develop a close relationship with the grass, I also kicked my fair share of goals. No pain, no gain. In working out and working at college. 


When cleats pierce shin guards...
The fact is, this last four weeks are going to be busy. At times, I'm going to hate it. Hate tunneling my way out of the cavern of assignments with only a number 2 pencil for a chisel. Hate the lack of academic motivation filling my head with summer dreams. Hate the way my body reacts to sleep deficit and class work overload. 

But, I'm also going to embrace it.  Reward my fatigued self with Ryan Gosling memes, April Fool's revenge on friends, and lots of (salvageable) Easter leftovers and home-cooked granola. Savor the last four weeks of being an official "underclassman." I'll look in the mirror at my tired self and I may not always like what I see. But, I will view every bump and bruise as proof of a summer well earned.


Food + Shirtless Ryan Gosling? I guess I'll survive.
(And that face on my pillow? - imagine pages of that hidden all over your dorm room!)
I often justify my customary clumsiness with a self-diagnosis of "floating head syndrome." If there's a door frame, my forgotten elbow will hit it. A sidewalk crack? My big toe is already there. These kind of bruises, I'm used to loving. The mental and emotional versions? Now those are the the harder beasts to accept. 

But, no matter how packed with crazy these last four weeks become, I don't have to let that crazy control me. I can remember to love my body through rest and satisfying cravings (no matter if that includes all vegetables or banana ice cream for every meal). I can schedule my work and time for friends. 


Love with every bite!
And I can remember to kiss those bruises - whether from doors, essays or a stress-induced weightlifting session. I've always smiled at my battle wounds. And that isn't going to change now. 



How do you view your "battle wounds?" How do you survive and thrive in times of stress? Comment below! 






Monday, March 30, 2015

What do You Gain when you Gain?

It's a simple question really, but not many people ask. We've all heard of the Special K motto, "What will you gain when you lose?" Today, I'm leaving "lose" in the dust and sharing what I gained when the scale tipped upwards.

Just a little photo shop action...
True, for most Americans, losing weight is in their best interest. I'm all for it - let the healthy fun begin! But people struck by celiac, disordered eating or activities also need some hope and love. So here are the top 5 things I've gained...besides a pant size. 

1. Freedom to move my body whenever, however much I wish. No more calorie calculations after a work out for fear of another pound slipping away. No more weird looks when I say I love playing soccer (chicken ankles and all). And a whole lot less "no's" from my body when I want to try a new fitness class, hike, or adventure with friends

One day I'll have as hot moves as that jalapeno!
True, I still have limits. After throwing myself into a hard (stress-induced) workout everyday last week, my knee and energy pulled the breaks this week. And I'm OK with that. Because sometimes getting up from the couch to find the TV remote is the most exercise your body needs that day! But, now, that's a joint choice - between my body, my mind and me

2. More food! It may seem counter intuitive, but I'm eating more than ever since gaining back some healthy weight. The fact is, when I was all stick and bones, it was party because of celiac mal-absorption, but also because of my shrunken stomach. As I've mentioned before, I look back at old Instagram meals and wonder how I wasn't still starving!

Breakfast no more...
Now that my stomach has been trained to crave and eat healthy portions again - after nearly a year of slowly increasing portion size, frequency, and nutrient density - fullness involves a much bigger platter of food than before! Sure, sometimes I overeat (especially when a delicious batch of homemade granola sits nearby), but I mainly enjoy every bite until full. And since more muscles and exercise mean more calories burned, more food doesn't have to pile on more pounds.

3. You aren't mistaken for an 8th grader...or at least have a lower probability to be. When I was at my lowest weight as a freshman in college, I walked into Sports Authority for a new pair of Nikes and was promptly asked if I was running on my middle school team. I don't know who was more embarrassed...the cute teen who asked or me, staring down at my loose running shorts

I've been a lot of shapes and sizes!

Now, I'm not quite as curvy as pre-celiac me, but I do rock a booty. I didn't notice how much curves I'd regained until my family walked out of Outback Steakhouse one night and my dad said, "Casey has a butt again! I suppose it'd be inappropriate to take a picture to celebrate?" No pics...but I promise it happened

4. Better body image. The media likes to imply that less weight always means more confidence. In my experience, though, confidence isn't free with a purchase of size-0 jeans. Even at a weight some may strive towards, I hated looking in the mirror. Hated seeing bones, stretched veiny skin, and a tailbone instead of a butt. And, when I started gaining, I wondered if it would ever detour the belly and pad the arms or butt instead. 
She says it right!
Six months after my body finally started accepting nutrients, and therefore weight, I'm better. Not only because of what I see in the mirror, but how I feel. Capable, not cold. Strong, not super-skinny. Fit, not frail. And while it took time to adjust to having fuller thighs again, now I love seeing the products of squats, short runs and bike rides! 

5. Perhaps the best thing I've gained, though? Less worry and more hugs! When I came home for Christmas break a few months ago, my mom hugged me and said, "It's so nice to feel something besides bones!" My parents will always worry, but now weight isn't their top concern

Hugs are my favorite!
I've had girls from my freshman hall approach me around campus, crying, "Casey! You look so good!" And, one night when I shared the whole celiac story with my boyfriend, he admitted to thinking I was "scary skinny" last year before we started dating. And, being the smooth writing major he is, immediately said I looked much better now. A+. 

The truth is, I'll always be "slim" by society's standards. A few months ago, my dorm's Spanish-speaking custodians asked, "Why so skinny? Genetics? Exercise?" Since I have yet to master celiac summary in another language, I just nodded yes to both. I've never been a big girl - a mostly healthy diet and love for exercise tends to do that. But now I know I'm healthy skinny. And that is big

On top of the world!
I've experienced plenty of losing these past few years - in just the celiac realm, I've lost gluten, dairy, and, of course, pounds. But, this year is all about gaining weight, confidence and adventuring ability! So, sorry Special K, but I'm changing up your slogan. Because gain is the only goal on my mind! 


What have you gained this year, from celiac disease, or gaining weight? Comment below? 

Friday, March 27, 2015

College Adventures, Celiac Style

I've said it before and I'll say it again. College + teenagers = food adventures nearly 24 hours a day. So what's a celiac to do? Learn to love (literally) going along for the ride!


Just a few of sophomore year adventures...
This last weekend was the prime example of how far I've come since freshman year. Besides the dietary changes, the hardest part of celiac disease is the isolation. It's so easy to say no when a pizza party turns into a "Casey-watches-people-eat" party." But this year, I've learned to say yes. And I couldn't be more grateful.

Yes, to the 9-pm donut runs while I'm already rocking my slippers and tie-dye pj shorts. I couldn't taste that powdered sugar - in fact, I'm noticing that me plus huge quantities of nearby gluten seems to trigger nausea? Maybe my body's finally getting a sense of self preservation! - but I could help my friend choose chocolate frosting over sprinkles. 


Trays and trays of death by gluten!
And join in the nervous laughter as we got lost in the sketchy neighborhoods near my school. We agreed that, if necessary, we'd sacrifice the donuts as payment for directions

Yes, to rolling into Starbucks later that same night though I've never drank caffeine and haven't even checked if anything they serve wouldn't kill me. Cause there's no classier pairing than donuts and coffee as we watch The Conjouring in our pjs. 


The ingredients to a perfect Saturday night!
And yes to the double date with friends to a Korean restaurant where no one speaks fluent English. I'll be honest - before we left, I was terrified. Like usual, I'd done my homework and learned that nothing "gluten free" was associated with the restaurant. My friend assured my that everything was naturally free of gluten - but, as every celiac knows, cross contamination is the real beast

So, I packed my own dinner - say hello to a potapas tortillas quesadilla stuffed with veggies, daiya cheese, pesto and ahi tuna - and hoped for the best. I don't mind bringing my own food as long as no one else minds either. Like restaurant owners who have, sometimes politely and other times not so much, informed me that outside food is prohibited in the restaurant. Understandable? Certainly. Awkward? Heck to the yes. 


Korean and gluten free food on the same table!
One nice part of a foreign restaurant with limited English, however? If they noticed my plastic container and food, they didn't mention it. If necessary, I would've waited to eat in the car, but I savored the chance to be like everyone else at our table - eating, laughing and enjoying the final hours of the weekend

And when we took a detour to a Chinese market on the way back? I said yes to that too. Cause, gluten or gluten free, I'm always willing to learn something new. 

This store had anything you could want!
And while I didn't buy any goodies - unlike my friends who loaded up on Japanese stick cookies, soft press and macadamia nut chocolates - I did load up on some memories. And I'm just fine with that. 

Just like, during a party for my school's literary magazine this week, I'll be just fine devouring my own lunchbox of sweet potato salmon sliders as everyone else pulls a vanishing act on pies from Pizza Hut


All the Driftwood editors after the ceremony!
Celiac isn't easy - especially when college students' obsession with everything edible joins the picture. But, as this semester is teaching me, sometimes the best response is "yes." (As long as ingesting gluten isn't in your future!) 



How do you deal with celiac isolation? What do you try to say "yes" to? Comment below!