I've been embroiled in a debate on different eating habits for a
few weeks. It's been a heated debate. Information has been passed
back and forth, but the science is a hard sell for those that don't
know or understand it. I say, science, because it's not just the
facts about Paleo, gluten-free, Mediterranean, or whatever eating
patterns/diets, but about nutrition in general. It's about how our
bodies handle food and what they need to be healthy.
There are a million and one (and probably more) "diets" out
there. Right now, Paleo and gluten-free seem to be trending the
most. Celebrities are using them to "get healthy." People are using
them for weight loss or to control the symptoms of one disease or
another. Some are using them to lower their inflammatory levels.
But few seem to know the actual science behind any of it.
Image source: www.towelmate.com
I'm admittedly biased. I've been a diagnosed Celiac, and gluten
free for 16 years. The more information that I learn about grains,
etc. -- the more I'm glad that I don't eat gluten. But the general
public doesn't have the information that I have. In fact, it seems
that most professionals don't either. But that's not the purpose of
When I started out writing this, I thought about my friend and
how vehemently she adheres to her beliefs about "nutrition" and
eating. She's a registered dietician. We've argued back and forth
about grains, about how she thinks that Paleo/Mediterranean is bad
for athletes, about how impossible it is to follow, and about how
there's a lot of "false" science/claims about that particular
eating pattern. The whole experience has been a major illustration
on the adherence to beliefs that people have -- not just for her,
but for me. It's also been an exercise in frustration.
I can only "recommend" what science (and anecdotal evidence --
but that's another story) shows to be true. For example, I can
explain that zonulin destroys tight junctions in the gut, brain,
and reproductive organs, and that the main sources of tight
junction destroying proteins are grains and legumes. I can quote
studies all day long (and all night long) -- and I have. I can
distill the science down to very simple words that anyone could
understand by using pictures, analogies, and more broad terms. I
can do all of these things, but that doesn't mean it's going to
change anyone's mind, and it also doesn't mean that they're going
to be willing to put it into practice.
We're very steeped in our beliefs. Usually, those beliefs have
absolutely nothing to do with evidence. My friend, for example,
focuses on athletes and sports nutrition. The concept of
carb-loading with pasta or the use of sports drinks is very much a
part of her reality. She's concerned about having energy available
for use. She's not concerned about inflammation, overall health and
well-being, the prevention of disease, or whether or not someone
might develop cancer or an autoimmune disorder. She wants to run
marathons, or play 4-hour-long matches. Her reality and mine are
very, very different. Chances are, that no matter what I say or
provide her with, she will always adhere to her thoughts about
nutrition. It will always be about the quick fix. My hope is that
she'll come across a difficult case and be forced to broaden her
concept of what healthy eating is.
Patients aren't any different. Some may have more or less
information than my friend. They may be coming in with a copy of
some new fad diet book, or a cookbook of recipes that their Aunt
Sally said worked really great to help her lose weight. People may
walk into the office carrying a well-worn copy of the all-carrot
diet, asking what to do about their increasingly orange skin.
They'll be emphatic about drinking their diet coke, eating their
bowl of pasta, or consuming 3 Tablespoons of apple cider vinegar
before every meal.
Image source: msmomofosho.wordpress.com
It will be our job to walk them through their questions,
hopefully bring some experience and education to the table, and
talk them through ideas and possibilities that will help them find
some form of healthy, sustainable ground. They may resist with
everything that they have in them. As I write this, I'm thinking
about how much I struggle with sugar or eating rice, and how hard
it has been for me to give them up; I'm not there yet. It's our job
to work with them, using their limitations (even if those are
beliefs), and our education to help them get to someplace
My friend and I will probably continue to argue about what we
should or shouldn't be eating. The only thing we've been able to
agree on so far, I think, is that there's no one single "right"
way. There's no perfect way that everyone should be eating. We're
all human, and each body is different. The science may figure out
that everything we "know" is wrong, and everything must be changed.
I may never be able to fully give up sugar or rice. But whatever
happens, we'll all hopefully be happier and healthier because of
what we learn -- about food, about our relationship with it, and
our relationships with each other.
Have a great week, everybody.
We're nearing the end of the trimester. It's the calm before the
storm. Since my classmate Lexxi just reminded me, I'll remind you.
Did you: do your FAFSA? Taxes? Register for classes?
This week starts the last minute projects and presentations
before practicals and finals. Actually we have part of a practical
on Friday for PT. I'm going to rehab a knee with Rheumatoid
Arthritis -- which I'm finding as a bit of a struggle. How do you
give someone exercises for a degenerating joint, when they have to
move the joint? I've been pondering it quite a while. Here's hoping
I come up with something good.
This week and next week, our program hosts a cadaver lab
demonstration for the nursing, PA, and other health professions
programs that we share space with. For those who aren't familiar,
we share some campus space with the St. Petersburg College health
profession programs and Barry University PA programs. Since some of
our classroom space is at the St. Pete Caruth Health Education
Center, we see a lot of students from other programs running around
-- including RN, PA, EMT, etc. Unlike our program, they don't have
cadaver exposure, which always surprised me.
So, since we do, we host workshops toward the end of each
trimester to expose those students to what the body really looks
like. Several of our students will spend an hour or more in the lab
going through some general parts of the anatomy, and explaining
function, etc. I've always been surprised that the other programs
don't have cadaver exposure. I honestly feel that dissecting has
given me invaluable information that there's no way I would have
known otherwise. Even still, when someone asks me a part of the
anatomy, my mind automatically goes to the cadavers to visualize
it. I do this during classes; I've done this during boards. It
helps to actually SEE where the origins and insertions are, how the
vasculature and nerves surround and penetrate the muscles, and how
the muscles layer and invest in each other.
I haven't been in the cadaver lab since I finished that portion
of basic sciences several tris ago. I'm REALLY looking forward to
it. I think most of the other student-instructors will be from
basic science tris. It'll be fun to get to interact with them.
That's a privilege I don't often get.
On Saturday, I went to the Gluten Free for Life Expo. Last year
Grey and I went, walked through, and received a ton of samples,
coupons, and business cards from local gluten free businesses. This
year, I was by myself, as Grey was at an FBLA conference. I ran
into Julia, my classmate, and her daughter-in-law, Stephanie.
Beyond running into them and seeing my friend who runs a local
acupuncture clinic, the expo was a total waste. And it wasn't just
because of the samples and coupons -- which I guess were there --
it was because of the quality of products. If you've ever been to a
health food store (and I'm guessing all of us have), you've seen
that there's just as much junk food there, as there is at any other
store. It's labeled as "organic" or "all-natural" or "healthy", but
the difference is only that they use sugar instead of corn syrup,
organic versus conventional, and substitute refined with less
refined. That doesn't make any of it healthy.
So, I talked with the reps for a company (that I won't name),
because they recently reformulated their products. They are
dedicated to having gluten free, GMO free products. I respect this
tremendously, however, they still have some pretty big problems.
Previously, they were using sorghum flour -- which has been a
staple in gluten free cooking for a while. Even I have used it on a
regular basis (although not for several years). The rep mentioned
that they were having problems with their sorghum flour becoming
contaminated with GMO soy. So they changed formularies and started
using buckwheat and millet instead. The problem is, that these
other grains contain lectins, in very high quantity. Lectins, in
brains, beans, and potatoes, cause disruption of the tight
junctions in the gut -- leading to leaky gut. Leaky gut leads to
food intolerance, inflammation, and lipopolysaccharide invasion
(toxins from gram negative bacteria that naturally live in the
gut). Big problem. Check this out: The
Lowdown on Lectins. And if you're a real glutton for punishment
Dietary Lectins as Disease Causing Toxicants
for far more in depth information.
So, I talked to the rep about how the choices they've made in
substitutions are likely to affect their customers. The lady didn't
have a clue what I was talking about. But she seemed pretty scared
in response and said she'd pass it on to their recipe people. I'm
sure it won't go any further. I looked through the ingredient list
on EVERY product they had there. The few that didn't have millet or
buckwheat had TONS of sugar. *sigh* Gluten free isn't always healthy.
Since my "conversion" to mostly Paleo, I just can't look at food
the same way. I'm always thinking about the grain or carbohydrate
content, how much I'm allowing my gut to be exposed to the lectins
and sugar, and what it's doing to me. I'd say I'm about 80% Paleo
now. I go back and forth -- trying to only have rice a couple times
a week, and sugar maybe once. It IS a struggle sometimes,
especially when I'm stressed out. But I feel SO much better.
And before I go, I've wanted to share this guy with you all for
quite some time. He stands outside a defunct mini-golf turned car
dealership parking lot. I often wonder why he's still here -- maybe
it's because he's so awesome. I haven't come up with a name for him
yet. I'm willing to entertain suggestions. There are lots of
oddities around St. Pete.
Have a great week everybody.
The calendar says it's fall. I never would have known. I'm
honestly ready for the weather to be cooler. It's about this time
that I start missing Home. Around this time of year the leaves
would be falling, it would be sweater weather, and somebody,
somewhere, would be throwing a hayride in a pumpkin patch. Surely
the scents of firewood and burning marshmallows waft through the
air somewhere on this planet right now.
(Image source: timeatthetable.org)
Midterms have already started. So far there's been one. There
are two this week and the week after and I don't even want to look
at my schedule after that because I know it's UGLY. Things are
going so fast. My fellow students are already making plans to go
Home on Thanksgiving break. I'm inclined to bake and sew and do all
the things I used to do when the weather would normally cool off.
One of these days I might have to turn the AC down to 60º in the
house and curl up in a blanket just to get the same effect. I guess
there's something that I'll never get used to about being here in
We're coming up on Halloween and there's a big Halloween potluck
sponsored by the Motion Palpation Club. We're all discussing
costumes for the event. I don't want to ruin it for anyone--so I
won't drop ideas or tell what I've heard. I imagine we'll have some
amazing costumes. We've got some crafty and creative
people--especially in my tri. So, I can't imagine what they'll come
I'm still working on my marketing project. I present right
before Thanksgiving and I have so much work left to do. I'm
inclined to go off the deep end and jump headfirst into my most
ideal practice's business plan. I've got some pretty lofty
ambitions with a pretty broad scope. Some may not even be feasible.
I don't know that it will ever happen, but a girl can dream, can't
she? My classmates and I have traded ideas in the hallway, while
waiting for class to start, and in the parking lot - but I don't
think that anyone has actually laid everything down in some type of
Special thanks to Dr. Jourdan, who is letting me exercise my
baking muscle and have someplace to share my baked goods (so I
don't eat them all myself). We've been having "Breakfast Friday" or
this next week "Coffee Monday." This week it's cheesecake (gluten
free, of course). I'm hoping to convert more of my recipes to
Paleo--including this one. It shouldn't be too hard. This
recipe is VERY simple--few ingredients and easy to adapt.
Andrea's Favorite Simple
The conversion to Paleo will probably start with using coconut
sugar in place of regular sugar. I'm not sure that vanilla is Paleo
friendly, but I could probably use powdered vanilla bean instead of
liquid vanilla (never use imitation vanilla--it contains
The crumbs could be anything. I'm sure I can come up with a
Paleo friendly cookie of some sort. I've made cheesecake crusts
with everything from brownie crusts to homemade graham crackers.
Hopefully by the end of the year I'll have accomplished this. I've
also made this recipe gluten free and vegan before. Just substitute
Tofutti cream cheese or rice based cream cheese (if you can find
it) instead. It was actually richer than the dairy based version.
You can also add an orange oil or lemon oil to the cheesecake to
make it more flavorful.
Good luck on all the midterms coming up, everybody. I'm planning
a series of blogs with something unique for all of you--maybe
starting next week. We shall see.
If you make the cheesecake, drop me a line and let me know how
you like it and what ingredients you used. Enjoy!
Well, you wouldn't know it by looking outside. We've had a few
really nice days, but it's expected to be in the 50s one day this
week. It's almost April! What is going on? I know everybody up in
the Midwest has had snow. I just keep looking out the door
bewildered and checking the Weather Channel on my phone. I never
know what it's going to be! Bundle-up or flip-flops, or my personal
favorite, blue toes in flip-flops? We just take it day by
I thought for sure that I'd make it outside for something this
weekend, but it didn't happen. I did, however, make a cameo at the
Gluten Free Expo at the St. Petersburg Coliseum. Grey and I showed
up about an hour before it was over, wondering if they'd have some
great speaker at the last minute or some new revolutionary
products. There were, of course, TONS of giveaways and coupons and
brochures. I did grab a few business cards from vendors and talked
to a health coach while I was there.
I must say, though, that I was disappointed. While I'm grateful
that I now have free snack fodder for the boys' lunches for the
next month plus, I'm not sure how healthy it all is. There's just
so much processing going into gluten-free products these days.
Nothing they were giving away or selling was anywhere near simple
or resembling anything homemade.
I talked to a baker about Paleo cooking. She said that the
biggest problem for them was cutting out the sugar. She wanted to
substitute Stevia--which in some Paleo circles is forbidden (no
artificial sugars or regular sugars). Although I'm not sure what
other ingredients she was going to substitute, the sugar, I think,
was the least of their worries.
In Diet and Nutrition, Dr. S has been teaching us all the
pathways and extolling the dangers of grains, sugars, and
indirectly, processing. We've linked all these starches, Omega 6s,
and sugars to everything from heart disease to Alzheimer's. Of
course that doesn't make it all so easy to give up, but the
argument is getting more and more persuasive. So I have to
think--just because something is gluten-free, that doesn't make it
healthy. Whether it's the canola oil, the high fructose corn syrup,
or the ingredient that I can only dissect with a piece of paper and
a chemistry textbook, it may still be gluten-free, but it's also a
science/health experiment. I know for a fact, that gluten-free can
still be simple. The more ingredients, the more likely that there
might be a problem, and that doesn't work for anyone.
I'm beginning to explore the ins and outs of the Paleo diet and
trying to marry it with my own sense of nutrition. I suspect I'll
be more restrictive in many ways than what the standards are. I
still can't see/justify eating huge amounts of bacon. Something
just doesn't seem right about that. I'm not sure whether it's the
huge amounts of fat, the salt, or the nitrates. Yes, I know that
all of those are available nitrate-free, but last time I
checked--we were all students, yes?--I also know that I will never
eat beef or eggs again. I think there has got to be a way to
balance nutrition and our evolutionary developments with the limbic
system. Otherwise, we'll all end up eating only 35 cups of Romaine
lettuce with steaks wrapped in bacon. And between you and me, none
of that sounds all that appetizing.
Last but certainly not least, I want to congratulate everyone on
making it through midterms. We finally had our last one on
Thursday. I'll spare you all the drama involved, but I know we are
all extremely glad that that is over. I want to offer Dr. Ott my
undying gratitude for being, perhaps, the coolest-headed professor
I've ever come across. I must find for you, Dr, Ott, 5 million gold
toilet stickers. You deserve them. (And if you want to know the
story about the gold toilet stickers, you can email me).
Everyone also deserves congratulations for making it through
Mercury retrograde. Thankfully, Mercury went direct on St. Patty's
Day--and not a moment too soon. I was tired of fixing everything,
fighting and mediating fights, and just generally being in a
Happy First Full Week of Spring to everyone and Happy Easter,
Ostara and a Blessed Passover to all who celebrate.
This week's pictures are from Lake Maggiore--which is not far
from my house. I was hoping to get some gators in there, but it was
a bit too cloudy. If you enter through Boyd Hill and take the
trails, I PROMISE you'll see some BIG gators. To my classmate
Lauren, here's where you (don't) want to go. :)
On Easter, this year, while everybody's eating their dark
chocolate Paleo-friendly bunnies (I like to bite the ears off
first), I'll be celebrating 15 years of being gluten-free. It's
hard to believe. "Back in the day", things were a whole lot
different than they are now. It seemed that few people had celiac
(or were gluten-free) or knew anything about it--including the
professionals. The testing was different--biopsy and IgG
anti-gliadin or anti-endomysial blood tests. The pre-made food was
a lot harder to find (and surprisingly less expensive) and the
education of the medical community was nearly non-existent. My how
things have changed! There are sensitive and specific blood tests
now (tissue trans-glutaminase), everything seems to have a
gluten-free label on it, and docs--especially those in our
profession, seem to know more and more about the benefits of going
My household has been gluten-free--exclusively--for the last 5
years. It's so important that the whole house be in support of the
diet. For me, it was a no-brainer. Both Grey and I are Celiac, and
Forest has never purposely had gluten. All the support groups
stress how important it is to avoid contamination (and NOT cheat!).
In order for a product to be considered gluten-free, it has to have
less than 200 ppm of gluten.
For Celiacs, even small/accidental exposures are dangerous.
People might not have an overt reaction to contamination amounts,
but they might still cause sub-clinical symptoms--flattened villi,
malabsorption, deficiencies, and constant damage to the
GALT--leading to lymphoma and GI cancers. Yikes, right?! These
small amounts can remain in cooking utensils, porous cooking pans,
and shared equipment. So, after a major move and shift within the
family, we started over with new utensils, new pots and pans, and a
completely clean house. Other than the occasional poison-carrying
visitor and the cats (whose food smell reminds me of wheat bread
toast), we don't even allow lickable envelopes (Did you know that
glue contains wheat?).
I can't begin to say how much of a difference going gluten-free
has made in my life. Besides feeling infinitely better, I've
experienced a number of benefits--from clearer thinking to better
skin and hair (and most importantly, a happier gut!). For Grey, the
benefits were a lot more dramatic. He was born at the
95th percentile, and before being diagnosed,
dropped to less than 5th percentile. Of course,
that was a long time ago--and now he's bigger than I am!
I've been asked if I'd endorse a gluten-free diet. I absolutely
would. I'm not so sure that I'd endorse all the pre-packaged foods
being sold on store shelves right now. Processing is pretty much
always bad. But, with all the research that's coming out about
lectins, gliadin, and grains, it's making more and more sense for
pretty much everyone to be gluten-free. So, I'll leave all of you
with this: Educate yourselves about what you CAN put into your
body--and what effects it might have. If you're not doing it for
yourselves, do so for your patients. Remember that not all cases
are textbook (in fact most cases of Celiac aren't). If you need
help, feel free to contact me. And for some other resources, check
And one last thing: I'll leave you with some "crack" containing,
non-Paleo, yet gluten-free yummies--just in case you're going
gluten-free and missing something sweet. (Don't hate me, Dr.
These are gluten-free, can be made egg-free and dairy-free, are
vegetarian (but not vegan) and are most definitely NOT
Gluten-Free Chocolate Chip Cookies
No baking adventure is complete without flour all over the
kitchen LOL. Please do your part to continue the tradition.
Next Food Adventure: Converting gluten-free to Paleo. I accept
Have a GREAT week everybody!
• After the DC Degree
• Botanical Medicine
• 1 Year at National
• Marketing Project
• First Week in Student Clinic
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