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About andreagrant

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    Zurich, Switzerland

  1. I have a wonderful, well meaning friend who tries to cook for me nearly every week. I've told her flat out so many times that I'm just not comfortable eating other people's cooking at this point, but she continues to push things on me. I can see she's doing it from a place of kindness, but I'm amazed at it--which part of "no, thanks" isn't coming across??

    What has me far more worried is my dad and his wife. My dad was diagnosed celiac in 2000, so I was looking forward to being able to eat at his house when I move back to the US (I live abroad and was just diagnosed this year). Well, they came to visit me this spring and I was horrified to watch my dad digging the filling out of an apple fritter while his wife ate the crust. He says he's not very sensitive--if a restaurant screws up his order and it comes with regular sauce he just scrapes it off and keeps eating. I wanted to cry when I realized that I will never feel comfortable eating at their house, knowing the measuring cups go from wheat flour to gluten-free flour and back, etc. He's been totally symptom free since going gluten-free except for during our visit when we were served spelt bread and told it was gluten-free--we both got really sick. People really do have different sensitivity levels, and I seem to be super sensitive like my Grandpa was.


  2. The last couple times (grrr) I've been glutened I've had this weird pain in my upper left abdomen. it's mostly a dull ache just up under the rib cage, but also a sense of there being something extra there--like I can't figure out how to hold my ribcage because something is in the way. the only thing i could figure out was an enlarged spleen, which might be sort of reasonable if my body is seeing the gluten as an 'infection/toxin' and pulling out all the stops immune-wise. i certainly feel like i have the flu (tired, achy, brain fog, almost feverish) and sometimes had bright green D (bile, i guess) and the other time just lots of intestinal cramps and soft poo. oh and plenty of bloating and gas and headaches--this abdominal pain is not gas (I think I have a master's degree in gas!) because it's always in exactly the same place and lasts almost a week, and is worse when I eat, breathe in, and lay on my left side.

    Just curious if anyone else had something else like that.

    The only good part of feeling crappy when I get glutened is realizing I used to feel this way *all the time* and that most of the time these days I don't feel like that anymore! Just gotta keep trudging up the learning curve....


  3. I had no signs of damage in the 2 (!) samples the GI doc took during my biopsy (and he was a jerk in person too). I went gluten-free anyhow, as my father and grandfather both have celiac and I was having classic symptoms. It's been 5 months and I feel like a new person--totally miraculous change (except the couple glutenings...). When I described my family history, symptom, and dietary response to my new house doctor (the old one got fired for reading my "negative" biopsy to me and suggesting I eat more WHEAT BRAN for my "IBS"), he wrote "celiac" in the chart and we moved on to the next topic. Even without that I would have stuck with it since I feel so good!

  4. I would highly suspect the crackers. they might be cross contaminated with gluten or you just might not be tolerating them. I think the European parts per million gluten is different in different areas, so if your crackers say gluten free, they could still contain more gluten than your system can tolerate. I think also in Europe you have to be careful of that wheat product that they say they have leached all of the gluten out of ... yeah right. there is a lady in charge of a celiac support group near here that orders that stuff for her cooking & her group - i think that is just asking for trouble...

    BTW, I loved Switzerland when I was there, such a lovely country. Do they still require all households to keep 1 years worth of food for each person in the home? The most fascinating thing that I saw there was that they "clean" the houses every 100 years, this means that they rip out the little walls etc & rebuild them around the main frame that was say built in 1607 !!!!

    Oh no! I didn't think about the gluten-free crackers having traces in them. They've become a staple because I can keep a package at my desk/in my bag--the only other perpetual food I can think of like that is nuts, which I can't eat an endless amount of. They also started selling a gluten-free cake at one store here, and they placed the package right by the 'bulk' bins of croissants/rolls, which meant that the cake boxes were literally covered in wheat flour. I noticed after a few weeks they moved the gluten-free cake to the other side of the shelf.....

    I realized this weekend I'm at a total loss about what to eat--I had thought I was adjusting to this thing really well, but I don't think I am. I've just lost all interest in cooking and can't seem to think up anything to eat. I clearly need to get a cookbook that I like with Gluten-free Casein-free recipes. I think the dairy free is harder than gluten free, actually! I'm also not getting enough fiber (I'm actuallly C this past week--kind of ironic after years of D) and I think just not balanced diet in general. But now that I think about it I don't even know what a balanced diet is. Guess I need to do some reading!!

    At least this thread inspired me to clean my entire kitchen this weekend--wiped off all the spice jars and everything!

    I just can't get over how friendly, patient, and helpful you all are--I've been on some other (non celiac) boards and newbies get treated to the flame thrower.

    Switzerland--wow I didn't know about the 100 years of food, but I have to admit I don't pay attention to the regs very much (for example, I run my water during the forbidden hours of 10 pm to 7 am, and do laundry on Sunday!). They do do an awful lot of renovation here---I always assumed it was some kind of make-work to prop up the economy??? But it is beautiful and clean, and when I call the doctor I get an appointment within a week! They ignore me like American doctors, but at least I don't have to wait around for it!

  5. your stainless steel & glass baking containers should be fine. the only thing is if you have a stainless steel cookie sheet that you have used for years & it is "less than pristine" you might want to replace that one. Love the henckels, if the knives are inserted into slots in a wooden block, it is very possible that there are bread crumbs in there. Bread knives are usually just wiped & replaced...

    I threw out my sugar that was in the canister & washed the canister, because when I baked I would just dip the flour cup in there or the spoon... My old cookbook is a major source of contamination, I still have it - but I do not put it on the kitchen counter & I wash my hands when I handle it.

    You also might have flour on some of the surfaces of some things that you used to handle - spices? & maybe handled the item & then ate an apple?

    Are you eating any processed foods? like gluten free crackers etc...

    hope you are better soon

    I am eating gluten-free crackers--are they suspect sometimes?

    Thanks everyone for all the tips--it would appear I should have another go at *cleaning* my kitchen. I was wondering about my old cookbooks too--some of them are pretty dirty.

  6. I don't have a toaster. I am using my same baking dishes--they are all glass pyrex so I assumed they don't have scratches (because the would have broken already!).

    I was just thinking about the probiotics--I ate kefir for several years but have had to give it up. I live in Switzerland and find it hard to get a hold of many OTC supplements and things (because I'm American and don't really understand the system here, nor do I speak fluent German, and its not allowed to import any OTC meds by mail), so I have been putting off finding probiotics here. The yogurt was a milder reaction (just some bloating) than milk itself (which doubles me over with cramps and pain) which I don't dare try! But this is the kick in the pants I needed--surely this stuff must be available here somewhere!

    Two things come to mind since dairy was already mentioned.

    Did you replace your toaster?

    Reacting to the yogurt makes me think you might have a candida overgrowth. Are you taking probiotics? There are some available that are dairy-free.

    You also should eat no sugar, no simple carbs, no alcohol, and no yeast for a strict anti-candida diet.

    Caprylic acid and coconut oil are good for killing off yeast.

    I would imagine that after being celiac for some time before diagnosis, that your intestinal balance may be off.

    If you do these things and feel worse, that can be normal due to a die-off of the candida.

  7. Yes, it's normal to have some ups and downs while the healing continues. Have you considered that you may have a problem with dairy. For many people newly diagnosed with Celiac, it is often recommended that they go dairy light or eliminate it altogether until the healing is well on it's way and then gradually reintroduce it down the road. A dairy reaction is very similar to a gluten reaction.

    My sudden (secondary) lactose intolerance was part of what finally clued me into checking out Celiac, so I have been dairy free as well. I tried having some yogurt several weeks ago hoping I was cured already, but it was a no go and I bloated up instantly. But I've bloated up 2 days this week with no dairy in sight. I'm hoping its just part of the healing process.

  8. Hi All,

    I've been gluten-free since 3 March 2007 and on the whole feel a billion times better than before. My D is totally gone and most days I have clear brain (no fog) and lots of energy, etc. But the last month I've had more tired days than I'd like, along with some 3-4 day headaches and stuff. I suspect I've cross contaminated myself somehow because I'm still on the learning curve. But I'm kind of stumped. I feel like I'm getting CC'd at home (I never feel ill after eating out).

    I checked all my skin care stuff (i don't wash my hair and i made my own soap from scratch, and i don't wear makeup or anything besides burts bees lip balm from a new container).

    I replaced all my wooden and plastic kitchen utensils, and consigned my beloved cast iron skillet to the basement. :( I also took all the gluten containing foods out of my house (I live alone so I can be 100% gluten-free).

    I'm using my same stainless steel silverware, ceramic plates, glass glasses, and stainless steel pots. Is it possible these are the culprit? I hate to replace every single appliance/piece of cookware in my kitchen (I already got a new skillet and stick blender thingy) but I'm at a loss.

    I keep my knives (another item I don't want to replace if possible--good quality Henckels) in a wooden drawer that is part of a wooden butcher block in my kitchen. I haven't replaced the butcher block, but I use a (new) plastic cutting board on top since I assume the wood is filled with gluten residue in the cuts. I cleaned out the drawers when I went gluten-free, but is it possible there's some in the corners that is getting out somehow?

    I'm just frustrated, because I can't tell if this is just normal ups and downs--I know it can take months to years to totally heal, OR if I'm unneccesarily suffering because of CC that I could take care of. I'm kind of driving myself crazy obsessing about how I might have CC'd myself (in case you couldn't tell that from the post...) Is there something else obvious that I'm missing???


  9. I had terrible swelling too, especially in hot weather. My face would puff up and my fingers would swell up (2 ring sizes larger). My stomach has also changed--I've gone from 16's being a bit tight to 14's being a bit loose in pant size. Oh and my ankles aren't swollen anymore. I also have a lot of neuro symptoms--brain fog (sometimes outright confusion and can't carry on a conversation), dizziness, fatigue, headaches, depression, anxiety (wow has that really gone away!).

  10. Thanks for the encouraging words! I guess some of my fear is just from being new at all this still.

    I study the climate and was at a station in Antarctica. My pessimism about future fieldwork is partly because they have a very strict medical exam before you can go (even my asthma was an issue last time around), and I haven't even looked into that. But I think its also a fear that I would get glutened and be so sick I couldn't do any work. These stations have a cafeteria where meals are provided and there isn't really an opportunity to cook (and the cooks are not always accomodating).

    But I think you are both right--in another 6 or 12 months I might feel differently! Most days I'm just so grateful that I feel better that I don't care, but I guess it was getting to me the other night!

  11. Hiya everyone,

    I have been lurking around the edges of this board for some months, asking a few questions here and there. Yesterday I got an "official" diagnosis of celiac from my doc and I thought I should share my story. Parts of this may be graphic, but who here hasn't had toilet nightmares!

    Both my dad and his dad have celiac, so it's always been on the radar, but since I've never been underweight no one has ever suggested it or tested for it. By age 19 I was diagnosed with IBS-D, and we are talking *chronic* D. In my early 20s I noticed that if I ate homemade bread (I love to bake) I would suffer increased digestive chaos for several days.

    Ten years passed, with me just accepting that terrible intestinal cramps (we are talking 10 out of 10 on that stupid pain scale doctors are always producing) and D were my lot in life.

    Then I had a really stressful year where I was unable to really get proper nutrition (due to being at a remote field site for a job) and generally saw my health deteriorate. Digestive problems got worse. Five more years passed.

    Then I moved to Switzerland, which turned out to be a lot more stressful than I had expected, and digestion gets even worse. I notice my stool is impossible to flush (partly due to a horrible toilet design they use here, where you "go" onto what seems like an acre of gleaming white porcelain, rather than into a bowl of water like standard US loos. But also, I now know, due to high fat content.). Chronic fatigue sets in, my social life dwindles to nothing, I'm now having bad gas and bloating (both the intestinal type that distends the stomach and also the water retention type that puffs up the face and hands). We are talking put on clothes in the morning, and they are at least a size too small at lunch. This entire time my asthma, which I was diagnosed with at age 12, has been steadily getting worse--at this point I've been on an inhaled steroid for about 5 years.

    Finally, I have knee surgery in Oct of 2006, at age 34. My leg heals up, but I seem to have fallen apart as a human being--I have literally no energy and cry myself to sleep wondering if I'm going to have to drop out of grad school and move into my parents' basement because I'm unable to hold a job I'm so tired. I'm only working about 60%, and a social life is out of the question. My D, which had ventured into the realm of explosive at some point in the past few years has now turned oily, as though I was pouring vegetable oil directly into the toilet. After about 4 months of that it finally dawned on me that this was not really typical IBS and perhaps something else was wrong. Google immediately turned up celiac (or giardia or pancreatitis...) and a little reading convinced me that massive weight loss was no longer required for a diagnosis. I explained all this to my doctor who then ordered a biopsy. The GI he referred me to was incredibly patronising: when I was laying on the exam table and he was asking me about my symptoms while holding the 'scope in his hand, ready to insert it, he said, "Celiac usually results in weight loss and you, " here he reaches over and pats my stomach, "haven't lost any weight, have you?" He took only 2 samples and said everything was fine.

    Deciding I'd had enough I went on a gluten free diet starting 3 Mar 2007. I started feeling a bit better a few weeks later. After about 6 weeks I had something that might have been a normal stool, but it had been so long since I'd had one I actually didn't know what they looked like! I then discovered the Bristol Scale and sure enough it looked good!

    It's been up and down since then--days of feeling better and days of feeling worse. It's now been a full month of completely normal stool. I have tons more energy--I can work full time and also go out 2 or 3 nights a week with friends. My moods are more stable, and my anxiety has lessened. I have no gas or bloating (of either kind).

    Unexpectedly, my asthma is pretty much gone--I've been entirely med free for over 3 months (a state I haven't seen since 1994)! I also find I can tolerate heat better--I've always hated hot weather (over 70F/20C)--I just felt like I was going to die, and I'd swell up like a balloon. I still don't really like it, but I no longer feel "heat rage" and I'm not swollen at all (seriously, I had summer and winter versions of all my rings--2 sizes different!!)

    When I went to see my new doc (fired the old one when he got my "negative" biopsy* and suggested I eat more WHEAT BRAN and sent me on my way with basically a "sucks to be you with your IBS" diagnosis) yesterday I gave him the 2 minute rundown including the "negative" biopsy and dietary response, and he just said, in the most bored voice, "oh, definitely celiac" and wrote it in my chart. He was also excited that my asthma was cured.

    The hardest part for me has been the loss of confidence in my health--I feel ok today, but I no longer can take for granted that I'll be healthy and able to work, and it's really scared me. I spent a pretty fearful, depressed winter this year wondering if my life was "over" at 34 because of my "IBS"! I'm also having to accept that I can't do field work anymore because I don't have any confidence in my health, but also because I find those situations don't accomadate dietary restrictions very well. I haven't had so much trouble with the idea of never eating gluten again--I think this is because I had to give up drinking alcohol some years ago (even longer story than this!!) so I'm already familiar with the isolation and awkwardness and feeling left out that comes with not partaking of something so central to our culture.

    Anyway, I just wanted to say I feel GREAT and I am so happy to have finally figured out what was wrong with me--I suspect I've had sort of low grade or subclinical celiac most of my life, but our medical system just isn't equipped to recognize the early stages of the disease. For all the new people out there--just hang in there and it will get better! I feel incredibly lucky that I had such a fast and complete response to the diet. And a big thanks to all the friendly and helpful people on this board!!!!

    *Just to remind newcomers, a celiac biopsy can never really be negative. Positive biopsy = celiac. Negative just means they didn't happen to find it but you might still have it, as damage is often patchy.

  12. Seeing as this board seems to contain more intestinal knowledge than anywhere else on earth, I was wondering if anyone had experience with tapeworms or intestinal parasites. I'm so grossed out by the idea that I can't even look at the pages I find from a google search.

    I was recently at a remote site and was fed a lot of game (reindeer) after having also been warned about the many parasites living in the area. I have since dropped maybe 5-10 pounds (don't have a scale--seems to be about 1 clothing size) and for a few days I have noticed roundish white things the size of rice grains in my stool, but I haven't eaten rice (or anything remotely fitting that description) in weeks. However, the weight loss could just be from being outside in cold-ish weather and walking around a lot more than I usually do.

    Funny, I can talk about poop all day but mention worms and I get totally queasy!! I'm clearly not a gardener!!

  13. Is it possible that it is the corn? Maybe when it is ground up you digest it more, verses eating it whole. I know allot of people when they eat corn on the cob, out of the can, etc. that they don't really digest it well. And it will come out the "bottom" end pretty much intact.

    Just a thought.

    Actually we do digest the kernel of the corn, it's just the yellow outer hull that slips off and is such a good 'tracer' of transit time.

  14. Cured my asthma! I've had it since I was 12 (1984) and its been getting steadily worse--I had to go on steroids about 10 years ago which I hated. Every few years I would stop taking them to see if I really needed them and I would have wheezing within 48 hours. I've been gluten free for 10 weeks and about 3 weeks into it I stopped my steroids and .... no asthma!!! I got glutened (and heinously ill from it) last week and sure enough I had a bit of the old tightness in the chest.

    My faux-pregnancy stomach is also gone

    I have more energy

    My mood is more stable

    I can't wait to see what else goes away!!

  15. I just spent an hour rolling coins and whatnot, fulfilling my duty as treasurer of a little club. I know cash tends to be filthy, but I suddenly was struck by the idea that it could also harbor GLUTEN. ICK! I wonder how many mysterious CC's are due to something like this? Or am I just making myself paranoid?

  16. I have also been wondering about this. I went gluten free on 3 March, and was feeling progressively better. After about a month I actually had a normal stool (although it had been so long since I saw one I actually had to look it up on the internet to see what one was!!). I was feeling great for a week or two, and then I was traveling and not quite as careful as when I am at home. I also reintroduced dairy at this point, mostly just to make travelling a bit easier to deal with. After a few days I felt worse--alternating normal with D. Then I got home and was having continuous D, and started to get gas and bloating again. Friday of last week I suddenly was really sick and must have gone to the toilet 20 times Friday and Sat--I would have told you I had food poisoning. Now I'm having D but its bright green (indicates bile since I haven't eaten anything green in a while) and has pieces of undigested food and I've been ultra strict (no gluten/dairy) for about 4 days. I assume I glutened myself at some point, and the dairy wasn't helping anything, but it seems like an awfully severe reaction. I'm worse off than before I went gluten-free, actually. Is this 'normal'?


  17. I'm not sure about gluten-free dining--I just went gluten-free last week and haven't even considered eating out. All the health food stores carry gluten-free foods--there are two big chains, the Mueller Reformhaus and the Egli stores. There is an Egli in the shopping mall part of the main train station (underneath the ground floor). Luckily gluten free is "gluten-frei" (rhymes with fry) in German.

  18. I got a diva cup last spring and I LOVE it!!! Just like others said--I haven't spent a dime on tampons or pads since (I've never needed a panty liner), I'm not filling up the landfills, and another bonus for me was that since I have Sjogren's, my vagina can be pretty dry unless I'm right at my peak flow so tampons were actually painful--sounds crazy! With pads I just leaked too much.

    It took me about 2 cycles to get the hang of the diva, but now I don't even think about it. They also suggest if you are in a public loo to take it out, empty it, and then just pee on it to rinse it (pee is sterile!). Just don't drop it in the toilet!! I've had it leak once or twice--from being overfull, and one time I didn't get it inserted right, but now I know exactly how it feels when it's right.

    The only other thing was the first few months I could really feel it pressing on the urethra which meant I felt like I constantly had to pee, but then if I tried to pee with it in it would just trickle out. That seems to have gone away--I guess my kegels are paying off?? I also googled a bit to see if that might cause a UTI but no one has ever reported such a thing.

  19. I don't know anything about MSG here--I just read on one site that its possible its made with wheat. Since I'm trying to go gluten-free in order to 'diagnose' myself, I figure I need to be careful in the beginning so I can get a clear signal of my symptoms improving! I don't really have any idea about the regulations in Switzerland (we are *not* part of the EU) aside from the fact that meat has to be labeled with its country of origin (helpful, if a bit random...)

    My doctor hasn't been overly helpful--he can be pretty condescending actually, and he and the GI doc were both incredulous that I could have celiac and not be seriously underweight. However I also don't completely understand the health care system and I seem to be trapped with this doctor for now. It's been a lot harder living abroad than I expected! Like others have said, I partly don't care if I have an official diagnosis--I just want to feel better and at least trying gluten-free is something I can just do on my own!