Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Foodie Favorites: Finals Edition

Celiac + Upcoming College Finals = all the food! Let's be honest, though, and agree that this equation fits any stressful period in life!

That face (and tray) about sums it up!

When I'm busy packing up my dorm or cranking out my last essays, I'm a much bigger fan of eating than cooking. That's why my fridge and pantry are full of my top five gluten free fuels for finals. Not only are these relatively healthy, but they also make whipping up a killer plate o' food pretty painless (depending on your level of clumsiness near hot pans or kitchen utensils).

First, the Potapas tortillas. I have a confession to make...I'm no longer a bread person. The last time I devoured a gluten free slice was Easter - mainly because it was toasted and then cooked into a homemade green bean casserole. When I want to spice up my usual meals of veggies, meat and avocado, though, I always go for a tortilla - the potapas tortilla to be exact. 

A picture of their booth's sign at the GFFAF!

Made almost entirely out of potatoes, I first stumbled over this gem at the GFFAF back last May. Soft, crunchy when toasted and free of that chemical aftertaste gluten free products love to boast, it was love at first bite. So when my local Sprouts started stocking them, my Mom and I immediately loaded our freezers with potapa heaven.

For easy reheating, I'll place sheets of parchment paper between each tortilla pre-freezing so I can grab one, microwave/pan fry it and go! I love making a simple daiya cheese mini quesadilla to accompany a big salad. On cold nights when only grilled cheese will do for supper, though, I'll enter full quesadilla mode and layer homemade pesto, spinach, sauteed sliced veggies, leftover meat/fish and daiya cheese between two potapa saucers. My gluten-eating boyfriend gets jealous it's so good! 

Definitely jealousy worthy!

The next savory secret weapon in my cabinet is, ironically enough, Bob Mills Buckwheat (or any other gluten free brand). This seed actually doesn't contain any wheat, making it celiac-safe and a great non-grain to add to your diet!

I'll often grind up my own buckwheat flour in my Nutribullet and pre-package my favorite pizza crust mix (a vegan blend of tapioca and buckwheat flour). Buckwheat also adds a delightful crunch in granola! Some can eat it raw on smoothies or oatmeal, but I've found that toasting it in the oven (alone or via granola) makes it more easily digestible

I'm a little buckwheat crazy, I'll admit!

And, if you want a meal side other than rice, quinoa, or bread, try cooking it in a pot like any other grain! Add cinnamon, sweeteners and fruit, and it can even fill in for your favorite hot breakfast. Versatile? Easy? Tasty? Buckwheat knows all the right taste buds to push. 

When I'm busy with homework and tests, though, I find that snacks often dominate my daily eating! (Insert granola addiction confession here). To help me power through, I often enjoy some So Delicious Greek yogurt. Since I don't do well with dairy and avoid almonds (thanks to food allergy testing), coconut milk yogurt is my friend. I'd never tried regular Greek yogurt before, but I was immediately a fan of the coconut kind! 

Did someone say yogurt?

Thick, creamy and packed with probiotics, I love to eat a few spoonfuls before or after a hard workout. So Delicious offers four flavors that I've seen (blueberry, strawberry, raspberry, and vanilla) that I rotate between buying. To lower my shopping costs and sugar intake, though, I also buy a big container of "Unsweetened Vanilla" that I often mix with the Greek yogurt flavors. 

Top it with trail mix, fruit, and a little nut/seed butter for a killer (dairy free) snack. For a bigger treat, try adding a rice cake (spoilers alert!), top homemade vegan pancakes with a big scoop, or layer it into a "horizontal" parfait with oatless oatmeal and chia seed pudding like all the lazy cool kids.

Um, yum!!

No finals fuel would be complete without rice cakes and nut/seed butter, however! On cold nights, I love enjoying a bedtime snack of a rice cake smothered in sunflower seed butter, topped with banana and strawberry slices, and warmed up in the microwave for 45 seconds (or until deliciously melted and gooey). 

When I need a quick breakfast for a morning workout, this combo also acts as great pre-workout fuel that won't upset the tummy! It's wonderfully versatile - add whatever berries are in season, try sprinkling cinnamon, cacao or maca powder on top, and add some extra cacao nibs or pumpkin seeds for crunch

Some simple perfection right there!

I usually eat whatever brands of rice cakes and nut/seed butters are on sale (hello college life), but I'm presently hoarding jars of Once Again's Sunflower Seed butter (the unsweetened and salt free version) and Maisie Jane's Creamy Cashew butter. Both are deliciously creamy, certified gluten free, and decently priced when sales pop around. 

I'm also a big fan of MaraNatha's Sunflower butter, but the bigger (and therefore more convenient) size of Once Again has secured its victory in the last few months. And, for your information, both versions both act as killer bowls for oatmeal or nana ice cream after I've almost scraped them clean! 

Heaven in a jar? Yes!

Finally, when "stressed" reversed spells "desserts," everyone knows some chocolate has to be within reach every day of finals. Although I'm a huge dark chocolate fan, I always keep a bag of Enjoy Life's Semi-Sweet Chocolate Mega Chunks next to my desk (a bad, but delicious idea probably!).

Even while dairy, gluten and soy free, these babies are packed with that same chocolate flavor I remember from childhood snacking. I'll often eat a small handful for a treat after lunch, but I also chocolate-ify my oatless oatmeal, granola, and yogurt snacks with some Enjoy Life squares. 

Be warned: they are addictive!

We only live - and survive sophomore year finals - once, so it might as well include a healthy dose of chocolate!

One week of classes + five days of finals = freedom and the start of summer! Now that's an equation that's anything but square (insert obnoxious wink here)! In the mean time, though, I'll be loaded up on school work and dorm room packing.

Or a combo of several fave snacks!

Plus, of course, lots of my favorite finals week fuel

What's your go-to snacks or products when stressed or busy? Do we share any favorites? Comment below! 

Monday, April 27, 2015

April Showers, May Flowers

It was a cold, drizzly night last week - so, of course, I spent most of the night camping out in the dorm kitchen while baking a fresh batch of homemade granola. Priorities, my friends.

One large tray of granola, one big step towards sanity!
My friends are another priority, though, as I then spent another hour standing next to the sink and catching up with an old gal pal who was enjoying some uncooked brownie mix and Netflix at the kitchen table (it's almost finals week - all the chocolate, none of the judgement). 

As the smell of chocolate, strawberries and cinnamon (recipe soon!) filled the kitchen, we dished on boys. Shared excitement over summer. And disbelief that, in a few short weeks, we'd officially be college upperclassmen. Now that's a horror story fit for a stormy night...

The more we talked of the future, though, the more of the past snuck into my mind. And the more I realized how much I've changed since last May. How much of life's RAIN has washed away past traits and carved new rivers. 

And what a view!

R - reaching a happy place with my body. It's still easy to remember the late night calls to my Mom, tears coating my cell phone over my latest battle with the mirror. I'm breaking out sooooo bad. My hip bones stick out further than my pancake booty. And, the most common complaint? I'm sick of feeling sick. 

As I've hinted at in numerous posts (including a recent ode to bloating), my body and I still have our fights. It bloats from food, stress, or acts of God. It gets glutened and zombie-walks through life for a few weeks. It loses when compared to my gluten-gulpin', flat-stomached classmates

The frog has it right!
But it also powers me through 17 units of college classes with a 4.0 GPA. It lets me bike off stress after class or turn my worries into fuel for a killer weight-lifting session. I'm not America's Next Top Model - but I'm not that emaciated, ill girl with an NG tube and IV. 

College often involves the "Freshman 15." As the overachiever I am, I lost 20 (much needed) pounds and then gained most of it back in two years. It hasn't been easy. It hasn't always been fun. But, this body is mine. And I'm finally learning to be happy with that. 

Not easy, but worth it!
A - asking myself, "Are you okay?" As part of my Type A personality, my own well being tends to fall below homework, sleep, friends, and workouts on my to-do list. That was never more apparent than during my freshman year of college. My doctor and parents wanted me to take a semester off of college and recover before continuing my freshman year - I said no, and I don't regret that. Fact is, even with a hospital stay, I survived my first year of college with all A's and some good memories.

But, on reflection, I sometimes feel like celiac cheated me out of the full freshman year experience. I've made most of my best friends, gone on the most memorable adventures and laughed the hardest this year - now that I make personal check-up's a daily habit. 

The wind has it right...we all need a "MeDay!"

One of my favorite bloggers, Nutritiously Natasha, posted a few days ago about starting a #selfcarechallenge and I couldn't be more of a fan. Especially now that my semester is slowing down (1 week of classes, 1 of finals, then freedom y'all!), I'm moving "me" - both my health and mental well being - to the top of my check list. 

I know I won't succeed 100% of the time. I'll still do a workout when I should've slept, worry over a paper that doesn't matter in the long run, and value "perfection" too much. 

But, like I've started to learn this year, I'm also going to look in the mirror and say, "Damn girl, you lookin' fine" in the most exaggerated twang possible. I'm going to be lazy and spend nights alone with Netflix and sweatpants. And you better bet I'm going to lick the sides of that homemade acai bowl clean even if I'm already full. 

I mean, who wouldn't finish a banana ice cream sundae?
I - inserting more fun into my school life. My freshman year, my dorm room became my haven. When I wasn't in class or (trying) to eat at the cafeteria, I was holed up in my room doing homework, relaxing (via exercise or Netflix) or sleeping. Academics was my main prerogative - and it still is. But, that super studious girl has learned the value of tossing the books away for the night. 

Honestly, the boy of mine deserves some applause. As a solid Type B personality, he's always helpful when I need some relaxing mojo. (I repay him by being both a girlfriend and a walking class syllabus - two-for-one value right here!). But, being in remission from major celiac damage, maintaining a healthy weight and having nutrition-fueled energy also made a big difference

Just a few of this year's adventures...
Grades matter. But, when I think back on this year, I don't remember that 99% of my Lit250 essay (okay, I do, but only because that class was a kick in the writing booty!). Instead, I first remember: dressing up for a girl's night out at True Foods Kitchen, midnight burrito runs (or-watch-them-eat-burrito-runs in my case) during midterms, sneaking a pound of candy into the a premier showing of the Hobbit, and walking into my first Krispy Kreme

Life - and college particularly - is too short to live entirely inside school books. It only took some great friends (and a lot of persistent group text messages) to make me really embrace that. 

N - not letting celiac drive my identity. Fact is, I'm a celiac. I know it - and since I rock it like a new tattoo, so does everyone else. But, as I mentioned in my last post, celiac is only a part of me. 

It decides that I need to bring food to that __insert 90% of college social situations here__. But I decide if my need for a lunchbox keeps me from leaving my dorm. 

Chipotle is obviously the most photographic part...
It decides that gluten is the ultimate mood-killer when it comes to romance. But I decided to say, "Why not?" when a boy asked me on a date. When free Chipotle is a possibility, the answer should always be yes

And it decides that I'll be forever concerned about the food that goes in my mouth, the state of restaurants' kitchens, and the possibility of passing along this disease to my children. But I choose what I eat, where I eat, and what I do with my body.

Considering that celiac disease was literally killing me my freshman year, it's no surprise that weren't exactly best friends. As a sophomore, though, I know my limits - and I know which I can push. I know I'm a funny, pretty, strong, smart, eloquent young lady - blood test results aside. 

I can now agree that a little rain doesn't hurt nobody...

In my college career thus far, I've dealt with a lot of rain. It's blurred my vision, caused me to slip and fall, and left me stranded and alone. But, as this May approaches, I'm seeing the flowers. And they've never smelled so sweet

What did college teach you? How have you changed in the last year? Comment below! 

Friday, April 24, 2015

"Donut" Even Worry

I'm what some (okay, most) folks would call a worry-wort. I suppose I should've expected it every since I cried over forgetting my math homework in fifth grade. As my last semester as a college sophomore slides to an end (17 more days folks!), though, I'm joining a sweeter side...

Which, as the pun-lover in me had to deem it, can be referred to as "donut even worry."

Bring on some sweet salvation!
Although my friends forget at times (Cue the "Do you want a ___?" "No thanks. Death's not on my menu today." conversation) all my buds are well aware of my celiac swag. But, they always ask for my company on food adventures anyway. Some days it's too much work and too little reward. But, other times, hanging out in a car or neighborhood burrito joint is just the "fuel" I need. 

Wednesday was one of the latter (and killer) days. Too little sleep and too many classes turned me into a zombie - along with 75% of my classmates. But, when my friends proposed a mini road trip to the glutinous heaven that is Krispy Kreme, I couldn't say no. 

Hello Krispy Kreme! (Source)
Especially when we started blasting throwback tunes on the drive there. Britney Spears, Fergie - I wasn't enjoying my favorite chocolate glazed donut, but my childhood was still right there. And then I walked into my very first Krispy Kreme (while rockin' my-it's-seven-o'clock-at-night PJ's, of course). 

Whether it's a chain tradition or I just got lucky, this location boasted a window that let customers watch as donuts were fried and glazed. As children stuck their faces to the glass, I kept my eyes on the to-be donuts. One side cooked. Flip. The next. Flip. And then covered in a waterfall of vanilla glaze. It didn't have quite the meditative powers of a good run or yoga class, but you bet my mind forgot my upcoming finals among the rows of sugar

America's Next Top Models? The donuts, maybe...
Even more so when the boy stumbled upon a stack of Krispy Kreme crowns. As I pointed to the (gluten and ecstasy filled) donuts that I thought looked the tastiest, I couldn't help but chuckle at the absurdity of it all. It sounded like a bad joke: A celiac walks into a donut store...

But the more silly photos we took in our official donut uniforms and the more fried delights filled the to-go box, the happier I got. I couldn't eat any of the goodies I drove 20 minutes for (though the Oreo dirt donut complete with a gummy worm and the Cheesecake flavor looked especially enticing), I could savor the memory of three college students acting more excited than the toddler with chocolate icing all over his face. 

All the gluten goodies!
I could forget about being a college student, and remember the excitement of waking up to the donuts Dad picked up after his morning bike ride. I could ignore any celiac jealousy and focus on the granola still hoarded in my room. I could scream the words to Avril Lavigne's "Sk8ter Boy" as we drove back to school in the dark. And while the boy couldn't kiss me after his night treat, I got all the hugs I could want. 

I'm always going to be a worrier, and, at times, celiac disease will only add to the list. Is it weird if I accompany friends to dinner but don't eat? What kind of college student can't participate in a late-night donut run? Is celiac gonna kill my chances of experiencing college with style?

Flying by!
As this semester keeps reassuring me, though, I'm in control of my worries and my (non-celiac) limitations. My friends enjoyed (correction: devoured) their double-dozen feast. I enjoyed helping decide that at least three donuts absolutely had to be cream filled. 

And, I'm deciding that, even as finals crank up, I "donut" have to fit any worrying into my schedule. 

Do you ever accompany friends to eat when you can't? What is/was your favorite kind of donut? Comment below! 

Monday, April 20, 2015


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. 

*Also found at Runningwithspoon's link party!**

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 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. 

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 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 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!