(Blogmas Day Seven) Not your traditional Christmas Dinner…

Happy Day Seven of Blogmas! Today I’m talking about having an intolerance in relation to your Christmas Dinner. Now, if you’ve been reading my blog for a while or you follow me on Twitter or Instagram, you’ll know that I have quite a few intolerances. If you want to find out more about these, you can find them linked here, here and here!

Most people have an intolerance, that’s a known fact but there are some people that either don’t realise they have it or they choose to ignore it especially around Christmas time. Anyone that chooses to ignore an intolerance because they want to eat whatever they want, don’t! You’re causing your body harm and I don’t understand how any food could be so amazing that you’re willing to make yourself sick over it. And yes, I do eat amazing food without making myself ill.

Let’s talk Christmas dinner! One of the best dinners of the year, and I’m sure 99% of the UK population will agree with me* (*I have not performed a statistical study on this…). This is also my first year as a vegetarian at Christmas so I have that to work around as well as the no gluten, no soya, no carrots, no potatoes and no cocoa. I’ve given a suggestion to my Mum as to what she could make this year, based on what my boyfriend made me for a Sunday Dinner a few weeks ago.

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So above is what my Sunday Dinner looked like quite recently and I’m hoping to replicate it in a few weeks.

So I’ll start off with the top. So instead of ordinary mashed potato, I would have mashed sweet potato. The chicken looking roast is a Quorn roast which is vegetarian (it’s not vegan sorry!) and tastes just like chicken. I swap out carrots for roasted parsnips and added in sweetcorn, and you have to have brussel sprouts at Christmas (but I love brussel sprouts anyway!) On the bottom are stuffing balls which are from a gluten free packet and all you need is oil and water to make them up yourself.

Not pictured is the Yorkshire Puddings which you can get from the Free From aisle in Tesco or ASDA (or I’m sure you can get them in other supermarkets too) and the vegetable gravy which was made using a onion stock cube (which we had to do a little searching for because most either contain gluten or carrot), cornflour and hot water.

As strange as it sounds, I love that my Christmas dinner isn’t the same as everyone else’s. I don’t lose any taste and I don’t feel left out; if anything I think my dinner is enhanced by my intolerances. At the end of the day, I can either live a life where I hate eating this way or I can embrace it and enjoy it so much more. I choose the latter every single time.

So if you have anyone joining you this Christmas who can’t eat certain foods, please do your research! Whether that’s picking up a few ideas from my post, asking them what they can and can’t eat or going online and seeing what Google can find for you; I promise you that you don’t have to serve the most boring thing on earth for Christmas dinner if you or another person can’t eat a certain food, trust me on that!

The Cacao, Banana and Peanut Butter Smoothie Twist!

If you have follow me on Instagram or read my tweets, you’ll know that I love a good smoothie and I tend to stick to the same one over and over and over again. I started off with a cacao, banana and peanut butter then when I was in a relationship, we went with a banana and spinach (and I did end up adding in cacao and peanut butter) but now I’m back on the cacao, peanut butter and banana train (but with a twist!). So I thought I’d bring you my recipe for my favourite smoothie!

It’s gluten free, vegetarian AND vegan and if you need to swap out any ingredients, tell me which ones you use so I can give them a go!

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The ingredients for one magical smoothie (For two people, just double the ingredients!)

  • One banana.
  • One to one a half handfuls of spinach.
  • Two stalks of mint leaves.
  • One table spoon of peanut butter.
  • One table spoon of raw cacao powder.
  • One table spoon of chia seeds.
  • One to two cups of almond milk (or until the ingredients are covered, depending on how big your blender cup is!)

When I first started to make these, I also used to add in one table spoon of pea protein but I don’t have any left! So if you want to add in your protein for after the gym, you could too! And if you want more of a stronger mint flavour, take your cacao powder down to half a tablespoon instead!

I normally drink these in the morning; it has the healthy fats of the peanut butter, the creaminess of the almond milk and the sweetness of the banana but I also love them as a post-workout treat (which is where the protein powder would come in handy, if you’re into your fitness or protein powder in general!)

Do you have any smoothie recipes that you think I should give a go? Tweet me or leave me a comment below!

My Second Intolerance Test.

If you’re not familiar with my first intolerance test, you can click here and it’ll take you to that post. It’ll describe my experience, what I found out and why I done it.

So I would say it’s been a good year and a half since I got the test done and over the past two months, I was starting to revert back to some of the feelings I was getting before the first test. When I would eat certain chocolate, I felt really groggy and slightly crampy and when I ate certain meats, the same thing would happen. I booked my Mum and I in for another intolerance test (This was her first one), I thought I had booked for the blood test but me being silly, it wasn’t. It was just like the one I got done before, just in a different place (So I’ll not be describing the process again, so you can check the above link if you’re interested in finding out what happens).

I found out that my gluten, soy/soya and carrot levels were still very high, surprisingly. I had been off it for a year and a half so I thought it would barely show up. I was very wrong. What also showed up was cocoa/chocolate, potatoes, MSG and pork. A few days previous, I had a really weird moment with some bacon, about twenty minutes after eating it so once she told me that I couldn’t have pork, that “episode” made total sense.

We found out about a week ago (My Mum had slightly different intolerances to me) so it’s almost like going back in time to when I first found out. This time is harder, for me anyway. As I sit and write this (on a Sunday night), I’ve just had two slices of gluten free bread, toasted. I don’t feel too good after it, so I go look at the packaging. There’s potato starch in my bread. That’s not something I would have looked for, maybe I should have, so I can see why I feel slightly strange.

With seven intolerances, well actually there’s a lot more, because pork covers so many as does potatoes, MSG and gluten, I am constantly worrying about food, especially when I eat out. Before it wasn’t too bad because I only had three to contend with. I went for pizza with my best friend the other day and I felt rubbish after it. It was a gluten free base pizza and I really tried my best to pick one that wouldn’t affect me and the only thing I can think of is either 1) the spicy beef was the problem or 2) there was a cross contamination issue. I started feeling a little sore about ten minutes after finishing it the pizza, so I know it wasn’t what I had for dessert, which was just a simple ice cream. But then again, if it was pizza, maybe it had potato starch in it? I just don’t know.

I can’t be spontaneous any more, and ever since the first test, I haven’t been. It does help finding new and interesting restaurants in Belfast and just outside, but I don’t know if this will get any easier any time soon. As for lunches, I won’t have to change too much but I can be more creative with food now, because I’m being forced to; I don’t want to be sore all the time, and I don’t want to damage my body. I’ll be tracking my progress on my blog, and I’ll be trying out more new recipes, since I can’t have chocolate any more, so possibly lots of sweet ones, but good sweet ones!

As with my other post, I have to say this was my personal experience of food intolerance testing, I am not a medical professional and if you are in a similar position, please seek professional help from your doctor.

My experience of food intolerance testing.

This post is following on from this post, so if you haven’t read that, make sure you read that first.  I also have to say, this was my personal experience of food intolerance testing, I am not a medical professional and if you are in a similar position, please seek professional help from your doctor.

After researching and finding that there were places that could actually push me in the right direction about what was going on, I found one close to me, shot them an email and I set up an appointment. Now because this wasn’t under the NHS, I did have to pay, but to be completely honest, it wasn’t a lot of money and it’s better than living in agony all the time.

I arrived at the centre and my appointment was with a woman who (was a trained professional of course) was really friendly, she put me at ease and the session went quite quickly. She started telling me how the whole process works, and it was very scientific so unfortunately I can’t tell you the science behind it, but there were no needles involved. She used an almost blunt pen connected to a big monitor with loads of tubes connected to it that you could put in and take out. These were to do with all different food groups and when she pressed the pen into either your hand or your toes, it would send a reaction to the pen, which is how it tells you if your body is reacting to it. The reason she pushed it into your toes or hand was because these parts of your body show the reaction to other parts of your body, like your kidneys and liver for example.

Towards the end of session, she gave me a very helpful booklet and told me all the foods that my body seemed to react to. These were gluten, wheat, soya/soy and carrots. When I tell anyone I can’t have carrots, I get very odd looks because it’s very strange to not be able to eat, and it’s a real shame because carrots used to be my favourite vegetable. She also told me about the Candida diet which was connected to not being able to eat wheat and gluten as well as having a possible yeast overgrowth in my body and through the diet, it is meant to flush out your system and bring your body back to health. The process can take anything from two months to eight months, but at the time I had a lot of work going on in college and I simply couldn’t have gone off a lot of food at that time.

There is so much information on Google about the Candida Diet and the benefits of doing it (Of course, it is a treatment for built up yeast overgrowth and should not be done unless you have all the information and are advised to do so) and there are big long lists of food and drinks you can’t have during it. When I was doing more research on this, I found The Candida Diet website very helpful or more information.

In this booklet, she gave me advice and tips for the diet as well as moving on with my regular diet cutting out wheat, gluten, soy/soya and carrots altogether. She was really helpful and was able to answer any questions I had at the time.

About a year later, I went to the doctor and they weren’t happy that I didn’t go through them to find out if I couldn’t have gluten and wheat. In hindsight, I probably should have badgered the doctors more and got a Coeliac test done. I wouldn’t be able to do this now because you have to put your body through eating gluten for at least six weeks and I feel (and the doctor also felt) that it would put my body through too much. So if I had any advice for anyone who thinks that they may have an intolerance to wheat or gluten, go to your doctor first and try and get them to get the appropriate tests for you. I felt guilty when I was told that I shouldn’t have went to a technically third party (They are trained professionals, just not through the NHS) to find these information out, but how long would I still have been in pain for if I didn’t? Would I have ever found out soy/soya was bothering me, or carrots? I’m glad I did it, but if you are going through something similar, go to your doctor first and be persistent.

The first of a few Health Journey posts.

Before this blog, I had another one. I’ve actually had a few over the past few years but I always get so insecure about them, that I would delete them. My last blog had two great posts, both about my transition into the gluten free lifestyle and I deleted the blog a month ago, completely forgetting to save those two posts so if I ever wanted to talk about it again, I could simply copy and paste. I really regret it now. The upside of this is that I get to talk about it again, but a year later. I’ll spilt this into two posts, because my other posts were too long and it really needed that second post to balance it out.

I can’t remember when I started to get signs that something wasn’t right. It might have been in the New Year of 2013, or slightly before then but I was having a really healthy year. I had came back from University the previous year and gave myself a good kick up the arse and finally started to get healthy and lose weight. I was the healthiest I had ever been, but I was getting sore heads, stomach cramps, feeling exhausted and having a really foggy head. Those were the main symptoms I had had. I was sleeping so much after college every day that I had to ban myself for an entire month because it was getting out of hand and when you’re so used to going home and having a three hour nap, once you ban yourself, it’s not pretty. I banned myself in the December of 2012 because I remember thinking half way through the month “Oh yeah, I’ll be off for the next weeks so I’ll not want a nap anyway”. I had no idea what was going on, absolutely none. I went to the doctor and told them what was wrong with me and I was told I should go off bread for a month. That’s literally what I was told. Going off bread didn’t help me, I think I done it for about two months and there was still no change. It had been suggested to me that maybe gluten was the problem, but I had no idea what gluten was, but I love researching (It was one of my favourite things to do in college for projects) so I done that and it was if someone had just watched me for a few months then wrote down everything that had happened. My symptoms and other symptoms were listed and it made so much sense. All the pain I was in, all the tiredness I had felt, all the times I couldn’t concentrate in class and sometimes struggled writing down the exact same words the teacher was saying on a piece of paper, it all made sense. It was gluten. It just had to be.

I’m not a huge fan of going to the doctors for a few reasons. 1) Whenever there’s something wrong with a woman, the first question they’ll usually ask “Is there a chance you could be pregnant?” I get it. I’m a woman and yes, we can get pregnant but it really annoys me that for the majority of time, that’s what we’re asked. 2) Appointment times. As I said, I’m not a fan of doctors so when I go, I am genuinely not well but whenever I would ring up for an appointment, I was given one for a week and a half later. I understand that if it was truly an emergency, I could get an emergency appointment or go up to A&E, but isn’t a week and a half later a bit ridiculous? So I was put off a lot and I didn’t think I would get anywhere fast. I’m pretty sure I went for another appointment a few months later but I can’t be 100% sure about that.

I was still getting cramps, I was still exhausted, I was still feeling foggy. I was exercising and some people thought I was tired because I was “working out too much”. Trust me, I didn’t over-do it and I wasn’t tired from it. I actually dread to think what I would have been like if I hadn’t been working out. I was still losing weight and I was eating enough for my body type and enough for me to lose weight. But the pains were still coming and in November 2013 I’d had enough. Enough of the stomach pains especially, I was a woman, we get period pains, I only expect pains once a month, not once a day for hours on end. So I did more research and found a centre that done allergy and intolerance testing near me.

In my next post, I’ll go through my experience of the intolerance testing and how it’s helped me ever since. I wanted to include it in one big post, but it’s much better to split it up into chunks (: