Friday, November 24, 2017
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Self Care for the Gluten-Free & Angry

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My 7-year-old has it figured out.

Oh, hi guys. Its been awhile!

I mean, Ive been cooking, and making mistakes, and eating those mistakes, and posting about them, but its been awhile since weve talked. So lets do that for a minute, yes?

Realizing that celiac disease and gluten intolerance, and Crohns and other autoimmune diseases cross party lines, I know that some of you wont like my POV. And thats okay. Yes, Im here to give advice and give voice to your frustration as someone who cant enjoy the flaky croissant, or if thats too French for you, a good old-fashioned dinner roll, anymore. But Im also a mother, a U.S. citizen, a friend, a daughter, and someone who gives so many damns. Maybe too many damns, but I kind of dont think thats possible in this current era of burning everything we know to the ground.

Which brings me to, where Im at right now. Im guessing Im not the only person with health issues who isnt being too healthy these days. When you live with an autoimmune disease, anything that gets you off track—an amazing vacation, the holidays, or stress—can cause serious problems. I stuffed myself with gluten-free chocolate chip mint cookies and champagne to deal with, and celebrate, all of the above for a few months and woke up in the new year still stressed, plumper, and with seriously high cholesterol. I know Im not alone here, because another friend just polled our book club on how were suffering physically and emotionally after a misogynist, racist, dictator has taken over our country. Turns out, were all kind of fucked up right now. 

Usually my answer to those of us who are dealing with multiple stressors is this: Be easy on yourself. Mess up where you have to mess up (see cookies + champagne above). Dont beat yourself up for not taking the best care during times of serious mental anguish. I still believe these words to be true, but at the same time Ive realized if I dont start taking care of myself, and not just trying to comfort myself through delicious, potentially unhealthy, habits, Im not going to have the energy to stand up and fight for my country, and my family.

SO. If youre in the same boat, Id like to share just a few things that Im doing to help me stay strong and focused, without feeling like Im deprived of not only gluten, not only equal rights for my gender and general safety in my country, but comfort as well. Heres what I do:

Start the day off right

img_2103Im not a morning person by any stretch of the imagination, and sometimes getting to my coffee pot is all the effort I can put in before 10 a.m. But juicing a lemon and adding it to a tiny bit of water first thing in the morning should not only help my cholesterol, but it also makes me feel cleansed and puts my head in the right space to enjoy a healthy breakfast. By healthy, I mean either gluten-free whole grains or a protein and vegetable (again, maybe too French for some, but I dig scrambled eggs with wilted greens). Once Ive started it off in a good way, Im much more inspired to keep up the good work throughout the day. Which for me means, adding as many vegetables in as I possibly can to keep my body energized and packed full o vitamins. And avoiding the grab and go that could not only be bad for my general health, but be contaminated with gluten as well.

Exercise

img_2834Ugh, I fucking hate exercise. HATE. So Ive started doing little things that help me stay focused on being healthy, without making me curse the day I was born (September 19th, BTW, in case anyone is sending gifts). I recently moved to a neighborhood that is no longer filled with hills, so Im able to not only take my dog on long walks, but take her on runs. If Im running with her, I feel like Im doing something for that little adorable ball of fur, and I get the side benefit of running out the stress. Its been oddly fun, for a girl who bitched so much about cross-fit she forgot how to learn the proper lift protocols. Find something you enjoy, and doesnt make you want to throw in the towel after one week. The more you dread it, the more likely you are to skip it. I know. I KNOW how hard it is to keep doing something once youve been glutend, or or having another outbreak of perioral dermatitis (fuck that shit, too) so consider some sit ups followed by a meditation session just as good as a run with an adorable fox-like dog. Whatever it takes, peeps. Whatever it takes.

Talk It Out

img_2808I cant go to lunch, my book club, or a professional meeting without joining in a chorus of despair about what the holy hell is going on in our country. My last date night with El Hubso also wound up in a deep discussion about, Should we flee or fight? At the same time, joining in a march, getting together with friends, and even talking with a therapist is fantastic for getting your head right and relieving stress. Join a group thats working on political actions that you can get behind, and spend all that crazy energy on working for justice. Find your people, and look out for each other. Give lots of hugs.

Dont Give Up

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When all else fails, puppies.

Take it from the woman who actually destroyed her television remotes (oh god, and I LOVE TV), and her favorite new marble table on the late hours of November 8th, we cannot give in to despair. Dont give up no matter what you see. Dont give up even if you just ate an entire gluten-free cheesecake and drank a bottle of Pinot Noir and now youre swollen and feel like shit. Dont give up even if your best friend from high school is telling you to chill out. Dont give up even if your dad is ignoring your calls. Were all human. We all deserve equal respect and opportunity under the law. Thats just being decent, and there should be zero controversy about that position. Own it, live it, defend it.

Its going to be a long four years, my friends, and we need to stick together. And if you truly dont understand what the rest of us are freaking out about, ask. We need to communicate, and reach an understanding. Its a tall order, but I feel like those of us who already deal with the challenge of a chronic illness, are much more likely to spread empathy and understanding.

Lets do this.

How are you coping?

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