My Intentions

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When I started my first job post-university, I was given the nickname “GTG” by one of my co-workers. He said that if there was anything that he didn’t know about where to find a particular answer, where to possibly look, who to go see to get the answer, etc., I would be able to give him an answer to these questions. He called me “Go-To-Gates” (my maiden name is Gates). And this wasn’t the only case where I was known as the go-to girl. There was a student who sat in a cubicle next to me, who was always amazed that I could immediately tell him what the problem was and how to fix it when he ran into problems with his Microsoft Office documents. He often joked that he feared when he got out into the real world that his productivity would significantly drop if I wasn’t there to quickly tell him how to fix the problem he was having. Why did I always know what his problem was and how to fix it so fast? Because I had run into the same problem as him at one time, searched until I found a solution, and filed it away in my head. I had been there, had done that, (was able to remember) and wanted to share the solution.

At work, I find great satisfaction in finding out information and sharing it with people in a manner that they can understand. The same goes with my personal life as for my professional life. When it comes to food allergies, I’ve found some of the answers that I’ve been looking for. I still have a lot to find. But in the process, I want to be able to help those who are several steps behind me. I want to provide the information that I’ve discovered so that they don’t have to spend a vast amount of time and effort searching for the same answers that I’ve found. I want to be able to help them find a way forward that works for them.

Not only do I enjoy sharing information, but I also enjoy organizing/filing it in such a manner that it’s easy for me to recall.

So here is how I intend to structure/organize my blog:

  • Origins (a continuation of posts on how I got to this point and how the blog evolved)
  • Food Allergies
  • Dietary Restrictions due to Illness (other than allergies)
  • Natural Living
  • Mental Wellbeing
  • Restaurant Info/Reviews
  • Product Info/Reviews
  • Product Recalls
  • Retail Locations
  • Resources

All posts will fall into these categories. There may be some refinement over time, but I think this arrangement should provide people with a good source of Go-To information 🙂

I started a what?! …

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…. a Blog. If you had told me at the beginning of last year that I would be starting a blog, I would have said that you were crazy. I’m not great when it comes to grammar and keeping to the point. I often use 10 lines to explain what could be explained in 2. I’m a bit of a scatterbrain. And I often bite off more than I can chew.

So what landed me at this point in time where I thought “You know what? I should start a blog”? … a little thing called gluten and a newly(-ish) diagnosed intolerance to it.

For years I’ve suffered from gastrointestinal issues. Which is not surprising when you consider the fact that there is a large history of colon cancer in my family due to a predisposition to an inherited condition called Familial Adenomatous Polyposis (FAP) …. actually, in our family it’s an attenuated version (or AFAP) so it’s a little more unpredictable (not that it’s necessarily pertinent information) …. In addition to my genetic predisposition to AFAP, I also suffered from two food allergies as a kid: one to tomato and one to egg (yolks, to be exact). It probably took about a year of suffering from hours of intense stomach pain and Stomach-Flu like symptoms several times a week before we found a doctor that finally suggested that it might be a food allergy. Long story short, I cut out tomato and eggs from the time I was in Grade 5 until late high school. Over time I realized that it was tomato and egg in its purest form that would reek havoc on my insides and that when ingested in smaller ratios I would not really notice any ill effects. Cakes and cookies were added to my “Safe” list, while omelettes and spaghetti fell on the “DO NOT EAT” list. Another thing that I learned over time was that I could enjoy a small portion of spaghetti but would have to suffer the consequences. I was ok to do this once every six months or so. Eventually I started slightly decreasing the period in between “cheats” while slightly increasing the volume ingested. I know that by Grade 11 I was able to enjoy salsa with no known side effects. So what does this have to do with gluten, you ask? Well, nothing other than I wanted to provide you with a little background history.

Fast forward to late 2010.

I was run-down with no energy, experiencing what I called a foggy mind and foggy memory, but worst of all was experiencing a bloated stomach on a daily basis which was extremely uncomfortable when your job requires you to sit at a computer desk or meeting room for the majority of your 8 hour work day. Within the last six months pre-diagnosis I could no longer wear pants to work without, part way through the day, unbuttoning the button and slipping a hair elastic around it to provide expansion (under a long top to cover my gaping pants) to accommodate my extremely swollen belly and traded all my pants for leggings and dresses. I felt completely awful and regularly complained to my sister who regularly suggested to me that I was complaining about the same things that some of her staff who were gluten sensitive and/or Celiac were complaining about. She kept telling me that I should get tested for gluten intolerance and I kept putting it off.

Finally, I was at a conference and ran into a coworker during one of the breaks. She was pointing out all the various things around the table that she could and couldn’t eat due to her gluten and dairy intolerances. I asked her how she had discovered that she had food intolerances and she told me how awful she had been feeling (much to the same way I was describing myself) and how she had tried a naturopath. I got the name of the clinic that she went to and quickly made an appointment.

At first I was a little skeptical when the naturopath explained how she was going to test me. But I felt so awful that I was willing to give it a try. The first thing that she said was that I was definitely sensitive to gluten. The second thing that she said that I should avoid bananas (something that I had myself concluded over the last few years due to my upset stomach after eating it). She also said that tomato was extremely bad for me as well as egg yolk. She also suggested that I avoid milk (but cheese was ok, thankfully!), beef, and peanuts among a few others. I had mentioned how when I was little that I was allergic to tomato and egg yolk and how I had weaned my way back on those items. She suggested that it may have been that my symptoms had changed and I was no longer recognizing that it wasn’t agreeing with my body. For the first month I had cut out everything that she had suggested and felt amazing. But it was a challenge to adjust to a new gluten free diet (in addition to other restrictions) and I had a lot to learn. Cutting out gluten seemed to have the biggest positive effect on me so over time I allowed myself to be a little more lenient and was less strict with the other restrictions that the naturopath had suggested. As a result I was feeling probably like 90% of the way I felt within that first month of adhering to all of her restrictions … in comparison to the 30% that I was feeling before I followed her advice. Although I am lenient with her other suggested restrictions, gluten is one thing that I have a zero-tolerance for. I would never “cheat” when it comes to gluten, however there have been a few accidents while dining out where I thought what I was eating was gluten free. The result is what I like to refer to as my “gluten-baby”.

Going gluten-free was the first factor that lead to this blog. Like I suggested at the beginning of this post … I often ramble on when trying to explain something. In my next posts I’ll continue my story of how I came to the point where I decided to write a blog.

FoodAllergiesEtcetera will touch on various food allergies and dietary restrictions, with a focus on natural living where possible. Any useful sites, articles, recipes, restaurant reviews, etc. will be shared and discussed throughout.