Gluten Free Discoveries in Edmonton

Celiac, gluten allergy, gluten sensitive, or gluten intolerant….

I am not Celiac, at least that is what the tests have shown over the years.  But I am gluten intolerant.  I have been unable to tolerate oats since childhood and blood tests from a year ago showed intolerance to all of the gluten grains.

But my body already told me that.

My mother used to tell me to listen to my body.  Often when you are young and busy you ignore that advice.  I did.

Gluten free to help with fibromyalgia symptoms

I went gluten free in December 2012 in hopes of helping reduce the effects of a very serious flare of fibromyalgia.  To my great surprise I felt remarkably improved in less than a month.  My body had been screaming at me and I couldn’t understand what it was trying to say.

The initial learning curve in going gluten free seemed daunting.  I had to learn what gluten free meant in different contexts.  Certified gluten free means no processing or possible cross contamination with gluten products in a facility.  Some of my Celiac friend are extremely sensitive to even the most minuscule bit of gluten so products like this are safe for them.

I have learned that many processed foods of all sorts contain gluten and the label probably won’t say ‘contains gluten’ but will list ingredients which cause our eyes to glaze over since we have no idea what that ingredient even is. I’ll discuss some of these in future posts. I learned that most candy and some chewing gum contain gluten.  Who knew?

So  no wheat, barley, rye, or oats for me.  Sometimes other words are used for wheat, barley and rye products.  Spelt, tritacale, malt, couscous, bulgur, and farina are a few of them.  I’m continuing to learn about gluten products by reading labels, reading posts, and asking questions. Lots and lots of questions.

I miss writing restaurant reviews

In my pre-gluten free days I used to write restaurant reviews for a website.  It was one of my favorite jobs and I miss it.  My husband loves trying new restaurants. Whenever we go out to eat it is an adventure for me.  Will this place have gluten free options?  Will anything I eat here make me sick because of my food intolerances?  Maybe others in the Edmonton area would like knowing about some of the gf options out there.

So here it is, the first of my observations and experiences with restaurants and gf ingredients.

Cora’s South Edmonton  Cora May 2014

Cora’s on Calgary Trail (near the South Edmonton Common) has a dedicated gluten free toast station.  When you ask, they offer you the option of gluten free toast with your meal.  Very nice and greatly appreciated.

I also learned that their buckwheat pancakes are NOT gluten free because they mix the gluten safe buckwheat flour in with regular flour.  They are open for breakfast and lunch and are known for their fresh fruit sides with many of their breakfast choices.  I had a time limited spring breakfast special with omelet, Granny Smith apple slices and real maple syrup.  It was delicious! And most importantly, it did not make me sick.

Last time I checked the Cora in Leduc and the one in Sherwood Park did not offer a gluten free toast / dedicated toasting station option.

Original Joe’s Sherwood Park

Gluten Free Original Joes 5-31-14The original Joe’s in Sherwood Park had a gluten sensitive menu available.  They offered a gluten free bun with my pulled pork sandwich.  The sweet potato fries and dill dipping sauce were delicious.  Their honey coleslaw was not very flavorful and was unimpressive in my opinion.

Depending on your level of sensitivity to gluten you may or may not be able to have fries or sweet potato fries when you eat out.  Some places dust their fries with a gluten containing coating before frying them. Other places will fry gluten battered food in the same fryer as gluten free food.  Ask, ask, and ask some more.

A few gluten free discoveries

I was in Costco Sherwood Park yesterday and saw these gluten free baking items, Cloud 9 Gluten free baking mix and Sunblest almond flour.  I have not tried either of them but I am grateful that Costco carries gluten free products. Let me know if you have tried either of these and how you liked them.

Sunblest GF flourCloud 9 GF baking mix 6-9-14
















Fibromyalgia: “What exactly IS wrong with you?”

Over the years I have had many people ask me, “What exactly IS wrong with you?”  My family all love that question.  “How much7-16-10 Yew tree near Ormiston 9 time do you have?” they joke.

My rheumatologist tells me I have fibromyalgia.  Some people, mostly well-meaning people, tell me fibromyalgia is not a real disease.  Well, something has been wrong with my health on and off for over thirty years.  The same set of symptoms have waxed and waned throughout this time.  My current family doctor calls these ‘on’ times flares.  I’ve been in a flare now for two years.

I think it’s sad that most fibromyalgia sufferers have trouble speaking up for themselves. When you feel so sick so much of the time it’s hard to clearly verbalise what is going on in your body.  Some of the best advice I ever received from a doctor was, “You have to advocate for yourself.”  It’s true.  I don’t need a psychiatrist, and I am not making up my symptoms nor am I looking for attention.

Frankly, I don’t care what they call it.  Over the years I have been told I have Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, fibromyalgia, colitis, IBS, and allergies.  I’ve been tested for Celiac multiple times, all with negative results. When a flare would end I was told I must not have really had the diagnosed disease, until the next flare which would bring a new label.

Right now no one definitively knows what causes fibromyalgia.  Hopefully in the future research will discover that it is caused by SOMETHING specific:  a vitamin or mineral deficiency, microwaves, a hormone imbalance, a parasite, global warming, Tupperware, vaccinations, dental fillings, barometric pressure changes, or space aliens – SOMETHING. I don’t care if they decide to call it bibbity bobbity boo, snicklefritz, Jabberwocky, or Persimmon’s disease.   My symptoms are real and something is causing them.

Learning to advocate for myself has required a leap of faith on my part. When you have minimal energy you can’t afford to chase down everything which may possibly help you. I have been greatly encouraged this past year by going gluten-free, taking magnesium supplements, and having allergy and food sensitivity testing done.  I have learned that specific foods, preservatives, and additives cause me to have a violent physical reaction and I have learned to avoid things which are obviously poisonous to my body. Right now I’m also working on shifting to a more alkaline diet.

I have also become a label-reader to make sure I am avoiding the foods and additives that I know cause me to throw up, have pounding headaches, or suffer from severe gas, bloating and the runs.  I lived almost thirty years of my life with serious digestive issues and accompanying nutritional deficiencies. Having relief from that downward spiral has been liberating.

My muscles feel achy, weak, and sore when the weather is cloudy or when it rains or snows.  Restful sleep, a regular schedule, and proper nutrition help me to be more productive, even in times of flares. I also have moderate to severe osteoarthritis and am waiting for a hip replacement.  Sometimes it’s hard to separate the fibromyalgia symptoms from the arthritis symptoms. Maybe there is an organic connection, maybe not.

Friends and even acquaintances share ‘causes, cures and remedies’ with me.  I really don’t mind; they might be on to something.  But honestly, there is no way I can even begin to afford buying and trying everything suggested to me.  If I’m feeling half decent I’ll do some research and make a decision about trying something new based on that. If I’m feeling very ill with a flare, I’ll say thank you and wait to investigate until a time when I am stronger.

Next time:  a little more on my background and the beginning of the symptoms.