This is how we eat now…part 1

In my last post I gave some information on Celiac Disease. One of my daughters was recently diagnosed with Celiac Disease and I have been asked many, many times “what is that?”. It seems to me there is a need for more information out there. Almost everyone knows someone that is on a gluten free diet and many people brush off the idea as a fad. For some people that is probably true, but for some people it is a real medical need.

As a small side note there are several different medical reasons to be off of gluten, one of them is Celiac disease which is an immune response to the presence of gluten which is the protein in wheat, rye, barley and oats (among others as well). There are many other reasons, one of them is Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity.

On the very same week that our daughter had her initial diagnosis (based on blood work) I was listening to interviews about gluten on PaleoCon. I saw the link to sign up for this on a site that I follow regularly and honestly I don’t know why I even clicked it, I never, never, never wanted to go on the Paleo Diet, yuck! No dairy, sugar, gluten? at the time I was not interested…but my mind was changed (at least partially). The information about gluten and grain that we got was so timely and so profound that I cannot describe it as being anything less than a spiritual experience. After hearing that wheat has a higher glycemic index than sugar and that rice starch, potato starch, tapioca starch and corn can have an even HIGHER glycemic index than wheat, I was very interested in learning more. I new a little bit of that information, but you know that feeling of “Yeah, I hear what you’re saying, but I am too overwhelmed to really do anything about it”? That’s the attitude I had for a long time, but then I heard this info. again, I don’t know why it made such an impact, but here we are.

So, when I heard that all that high glycemic stuff caused high blood sugar levels and caused inflammation which caused autoimmune issues (that’s putting it in incredibly simplistic terms) something happened in my brain and that was it, we were done with that stuff. I have to do something to try and prevent autoimmune disease from starting and progressing (because that’s what it does, kind of like a snowball, a nasty snowball) in my children.

My mission was to cut out all grain and refined sugar from all of our diets. It seems drastic and it seems like a bit of torture to put my children through. But I had to do something, I don’t know if this will be THE thing that prevents disease in all of my children, but what I have discovered has been life changing. At this very moment my oldest daughter is not complaining about having nothing to eat,  but asking for help to make grain free bread for breakfast…. Ok, full disclosure…there has been some dramatic complaining, but not today, not at this moment.

If you are the least bit interested in learning more about gluten free and grain free living I have a couple places to send you… , this is a diet marketed for weight loss, but we use the recipes and philosophies as a way to a healthier lifestyle all around.

As with pretty much everything these days for every “right way to live” there is a person who contradicts that way, so use your best judgment, listen to your gut (literally) to lead you to the right way for you and your family, it’s not the same for all of us, but I challenge you to do some of this research, there are some things that I certainly didn’t know and that may be life changing for you as well.

I realize I didn’t tell you anything specific about what we are eating now. This is a two part post. There is just too much information to share, next will be how we eat and shop and tips on making it the least stressful process possible.



What is Celiac Disease?

My daughter was recently diagnosed with Celiac Disease. I have been a little surprised by how many people don’t know what it is. Since this has been something that consumes my days right now, I thought I would share a bit about it. This is for anyone who didn’t have any clue that it exists, knows someone who has it but is it not that familiar, or who would like a way to share the basics about Celiac Disease with others. 

I decided to just google “What is Celiac Disease” and see what comes up. Right at the top is the definition, it’s a little vague, but here it is.

“A disease in which the small intestine is hypersensitive to gluten, leading to difficulty in digesting food.”

I think we could benefit from a bit more information, so here is what I found with just a little more investigation.

From “Celiac Disease is an immune reaction to eating gluten, a protein found in wheat, barley, rye….eating gluten triggers an immune response in your small intestine. Over time this reaction produces inflammation that damages the small intestine’s lining and prevents absorption of some nutrients.”

Kind of a big deal.

Here are the symptoms, this is important because there are way more than you may suspect.

“Although the classic signs are diarrhea and weight loss, MOST people with Celiac experience few or no digestive signs or symptoms…20% of people with Celiac have constipation and 10% are obese. Other symptoms include: Anemia, loss of bone density, itchy, blistery skin, damage to dental enamel, headaches and fatigue, nervous system injury, joint pain, reduced functioning of spleen, acid reflux and heartburn.”

If you have just diagnosed yourself with Celiac Disease, me too. If you are thinking that these symptoms can be applied to almost every health ailment known to humankind, I get it. My point is not to overwhelm you, but to impress on us (because I didn’t know all this either) that Celiac Disease is more than just shopping in a different section of the supermarket, it’s a full body, all encompassing issue that needs careful attention.

This next bit was so surprising and fascinating to me that I am still processing it. “As many as 75% of children (let that sink in, 75%) with Celiac Disease are OVERWEIGHT or OBESE. Digestive signs and symptoms are experienced by (ONLY) 20%-30% of children with the condition. Symptoms of infants include: Chronic diarrhea, swollen belly, pain, failure to thrive or weight loss. Older Children: Diarrhea, constipation, short stature, delayed puberty, neurological symptoms; ADHD, learning disability, headaches and lack of muscle coordination.”

Are you thinking what I am thinking?? 

About 2 years ago my daughter went from pure muscle to pretty soft. Not overweight or obese, but there was a drastic change from the girl who had an 8 pack (no joke) to one who had little love handles and a squishy tummy. I knew something wasn’t quite right, but she was already on a “gluten free” diet. Now I am understanding a bit more. She has lost 5 pounds since going on a real gluten free diet.

This information is from The Celiac Sprue Association website I hope you’re not getting bored, because some of the next information is pretty interesting.

“Celiac Disease (CD), also known as Celiac Sprue or gluten-sensitive enteropathy, is a genetically linked autoimmune disorder that can affect both children and adults.”

About 30% of people carry the genes for Celiac and 1% of the population currently have been diagnosed with the disease. I am predicting that will grow, just a hunch. I didn’t have any idea if 30% was a big or small # in the area of chronic disease genes (yeah, I am not a scientist), but our G.I Dr. cleared that up, it’s huge.

“In people with CD eating certain types of protein fractions, collectively called gluten, sets off an immune mediated response at the site of the epithelial cells. This abnormal cellular level activity can AFFECT ALL ORGANS.” (emphasis mine)

So now I feel more justified in getting that tightness in my chest when my child wants a piece of a friends’ candy bar.

This is a big deal.

My plan is to write 2 other posts on Celiac Disease, one “what do we do now?” and one like “what to say to people that have chronic disease” 

What chronic illness, disease, pain, condition do you wish people knew more about???


The very first

This is the very first blog post of She follows her heart. This is a blog about doing the best we can with what we’ve got. It’s all any of us can do, right? I am hoping that many people will be able to find something interesting here. Are you a parent? an artist? a gardener? an activist? a minimalist? do you want to eat healthier? buy fair trade? get out into nature? make beer? learn a new skill? read more? do you have allergies? pain? disease? stress? passions? opinions? undiscovered talent? do you homeschool? run? kayak? cook? write?
We are at the beginning stages of creating a meaningful life, one that fills us up instead of drains us, one that speaks to our true selves and allows for something miraculous to take place. We are hoping this journey brings some others along as well.