Junk this Food

badfood

Pass on the fresh veggies.

 

Click here for a brief and handy little video on Foods to Avoid if you have Crohns (or Ulcerative Colitis). As with anything, take it with a grain of salt – more, if you are low on electrolytes.

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A Little Piece of (Healthy) Heaven – KIND Bars

Kind Dark Chocolate Nuts & Sea Salt

A friend gave me a gluten-free power bar to try, but alas, it contained xanthan gum, a natural laxative and bad news for anyone with IBD. By accident I discovered that not only are Kind bars gluten-free and low sugar, they do not contain xantham gum! Fiber is high, protein is decent, and for 200 calories you could do a lot worse. (Especially because they make a dark chocolate and sea salt bar, and that stuff is my Kryptonite.) Even better? Kind makes granola that’s also low-sugar, gluten and xanthan-gum free, perfect for topping full-fat (and consequently lower-lactose) Greek yogurt. Add some fresh berries and YUM! For the first time in months, my diet feels unrestricted. Now that’s kind.

Xanthan Gum

The best eggs are slightly cracked.

The best eggs are slightly cracked.

 

T’is the season for candy-colored eggs, baby farm animals, and ultimately, rebirth. And while you may or may not celebrate certain holidays this time of year, chances are you’ve at least seen, if not partaken of, some of the confectionary treats. This year I was forced to hold back, for obvious reasons. My all-time favorite Easter candy, Whoppers Malted Milk Eggs, are not gluten-free. Sugar is also bad for inflamed intestines. (I keep telling myself I’m better off – it’s almost bathing suit season, after all.) And lately–although it’s not found in the Malted Eggs–another ingredient has proven itself a trigger for my UC: Xanthan Gum.

Chris Kresser’s article “Harmful or Harmless: Xanthan Gum” discusses the pros and cons of this food additive. It’s found in chewing gum, which has always aggravated my stomach, and is also found in many gluten-free products. I began noticing increased aggravated symptoms after consuming certain gluten-free snacks and began reading the ingredients list to narrow down what the hell was sending me running to the restroom. After a couple of weeks of the food/ingredient elimination process, I discovered I cannot tolerate xanthan gum.

I did a little light research and discovered that though some xanthan gum contains gluten, it can also be made from non-gluten food items. Since my foods were certified as gluten-free, I ruled out trace gluten as the source of my problem. So what was it about xanthan gum that my guts hated? Turns out that regardless of what it’s derived from, it’s a LAXATIVE! Furthermore, in Kresser’s article, he references a “study, conducted to evaluate the effects of xanthan gum on digestion in rats, [which] found that a diet containing 4% xanthan gum increased the amount of water in the intestines by 400%, and also increased the number of sugars remaining in the intestine.” That’s really, really bad news for anyone dealing with IBD or IBS. More water in the intestines causes diarrhea. And for those of us with an overdose of negative bacteria, increased sugar means a fantastic breeding ground for the nasty little buggers. (Another reason why the Specific Carbohydrate Diet is solely low-to-no sugar foods.)

Some people with IBD are going to be more sensitive to xanthan gum than others. But if you’re finding that something as innocuous as a cookie or cracker is causing bloating, gas and possibly a trip or two to the porcelain throne, check the ingredients. Perhaps xanthan gum is your culprit too.

The Autoimmune Paleo Diet?

An alternative to the SC Diet?

An alternative to the SC Diet?

 

My sister just sent me a link to this book on Amazon so I haven’t had the chance to check it out, but I thought I’d pass it along to anyone who might be interested. No telling if this is too similar to the SC Diet to be of use to me, or if it deviates enough to permit me some normalcy, but at this stage–so long as it doesn’t suck the life out of my life–I’m willing to try anything. (Thanks sis!)

Boston Wine Expo 2014 Review

bwe2014

After everything I’ve been through for the past six months, there was no way I was missing the Boston Wine Expo. My guts owed me some normalcy and some fun, big time! This was our third year, but the first year attending the actual tastings, not just seminars. To try the best of both worlds, we opted for the Vintner’s Reserve Lounge. It was pricey, but the tickets enabled you to attend both that and the Grand Tasting. It was described as “the ideal setting for serious wine enthusiasts looking to sample rare and expensive vintages before they purchase a bottle. Located in a private room away from the Grand Tasting, the Vintner’s Reserve Lounge is the perfect way to spend an afternoon sampling fine wine and tasting delectable treats from the top restaurants in the city. Most wines poured in the Vintner’s Reserve Lounge retail for $75 and up while enjoying live entertainment.” Our vote? In a nutshell: Skip the Grand Tasting, even if you’re new to wine, and do the seminars. If you’re a wine pro…skip the Reserve Lounge and do the seminars too. They span the wine-experience spectrum, from Kevin Zraly’s “The One Hour Wine Expert” (which was a fantastic class) to more advanced sessions on  very specific topics such as elevage or the “Terroir of the Sherry Bodega.” You still end up tasting a lot of wine (assuming you do more than one seminar) and you learn far more than you do elbowing your fellow oenophiles out of the way for a tasting pour. PLUS, there are always a few non-wine seminars, such as Scotch 101 or this year, Rum 101.

And let me get a general concern out of the way – anyone with IBD worried about restroom availability need not fear, both the Seaport Hotel and the World Trade Center have bathrooms galore. Like, around every corner. Outside every room, practically. You might find lines at the massive Grand Tasting, but if you opt for seminars (which I highly recommend) they are in smaller conference rooms situated next door to the facilities, so you shouldn’t have a problem.

As for snacks? Bring your own (we even brought our own water bottles though water was available) or partake of what’s offered. We didn’t see much of what was being passed around in the Grand Tasting, but the Reserve Lounge was handing out grass-fed aged beef on quinoa, oysters on the half-shell and slices of filet mignon, as well as meatballs and cheese-and-cracker buffets. I’m still low-gluten, so I avoided the crackers, ate the meat off the crostinis and gave that to my husband. He was happy, my guts were happy too. I believe some seminars that involve wine-food pairings offer some eats, like cheeses, but I’ve never done one of those so don’t take my word for it.

The highlights for this year? We got to try some truly amazing wines (and some not-so-amazing wines). The stand-outs? 2008 Darioush Signature Cabernet Sauvignon, 1987, 1989, 1990 Caymus Cabernet Sauvignon (though we both thought that ultimately the 2011 Caymus cabs were better, as in, more drinkable). Also Bonny Doon’s very own leader, Randall Grahm, poured us his Le Cigare Blancs and explained the difference in elevage (he also conducted a Sunday seminar but unfortunately we could only make it to the Expo on Saturday) as well as his Le Cigare Volant reds (yum!). We also received a terrific education in Spanish wine and loved the Teixar, the “only single varietal Garnacha Peluda wine made in Spain.” Rare and delicious.

The let-downs? None were a major disappointment, however seeing Chalone chardonnay in the Reserve Lounge did raise my eyebrows. I consider that a daily-drinker, and while good, it felt out of place among its fellow grapes from Grgich Hills and Far Niente. Seeing Ravenswood was also a “?” moment. Nothing against these wines, but the way the Reserve Lounge was marketed–most wines retailing for $75+–I didn’t expect to see the wines I see every time I wander into Rapid Liquors to restock my wine rack.

And as for the Grand Tasting…well you know the saying. If you don’t have anything nice to say… In all fairness, there were good wines there, but they were hidden in the labyrinth of gimmicky mass-market juice calling itself wine and a host of non-wine-related products, like Infiniti. Walking through was overwhelming. I can’t imagine wanting to learn more about wine and trying to do so in such a boisterous crowd. It was hard enough to have a brief discussion in the relative calm of the Reserve Lounge! Thus, if you’re serious about learning more about wine, or just serious about wine, the seminars are the real gem of the Boston Wine Expo. One thumb for the Reserve Lounge, two thumbs up for the seminars.

Red Wine + Colitis = No Colitis?

Get your lifetime supply today!

Get your lifetime supply today!

My friend mentioned that she read an article about how resveratrol, found in red wine, suppresses Ulcerative Colitis. “Red wine may be the silver lining here!” she wrote. I want to believe that, but is it too good to be true? It’s the real deal, according to the article “Resveratrol suppresses colitis and colon cancer associated with colitis” from the National Center for Biotechnology Information. Now, they’re not saying to guzzle bottles of red wine–you’d have to drink about “1,000 a day” to receive the necessary concentration–but they are saying that resveratrol supplements are a good addition to an IBD-sufferers diet: “Resveratrol. . .is a naturally occurring compound, often derived from the Japanese (bushy) knotweed, but is also found in the skin of red grapes and is a constituent of red wine…Resveratrol has been shown to suppress several autoimmune diseases, including experimental encephalomyelitis, arthritis, myocarditis, and diabetes. The capability of resveratrol to suppress chronic inflammatory diseases associated with a high cancer risk, such as inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), has only been explored in rats by one other group…[in this study] resveratrol administered in the basal diet suppresses DSS-induced colitis and colon cancer associated with colitis in mice.” Read more here. In the meantime, if you can stomach it, pour yourself a nice glass of pinot noir. Studies show it has the highest concentration of resveratrol of all the red wines (white wines are not made with the grape skin, thus they have little to no concentrations of resveratrol). And for those of you following the Specific Carbohydrate Diet, you’ll be pleased to know that dry red wine is permitted!

Surf Sweets Sour Berry Bears…

Who needs chocolate?

Happy Valentine’s Day! While everyone else is filling up on chocolates and those conversation hearts, or perhaps nursing a broken heart while drowning in a bottle of Jack, I’ve found a new (and gluten-free) candy addiction. These Surf Sweets are little bear and heart-shaped flavor bombs packed with Vitamin C and come without corn syrup and artificial sweeteners. They’re also teddy bear-friendly, being vegetarian and vegan. What more can you ask for on the one day of the year that you’re officially allowed to express your love for someone? Or in this case, something?