You, me and why you can rely on me to guide you through your gluten-free journey.
If you'd told me ten years ago that I would be:
Well I'm not sure I'd have believed you. But here you have it.
I'm a lifetime student of food, nutrition and natural health.
Soon after my celiac diagnosis, I enrolled in culinary school at George Brown College in Toronto.
George Brown is the premier culinary school in Canada, it’s kind of like our Cordon Bleu.
There I learned more than I ever imagined there was to know about food:
I continue to educate myself so I can provide helpful relevant content to you. I'm an avid reader and I share my reading list with you.
I attend celiac seminars and workshops offered by the premier celiac centers around the world. This is how I stay on top of the latest research and recommendations from the medical community.
I take part in social media forums, so I understand the questions, challenges and frustrations people with celiac face ever day.
Sweeping change is coming to every aspect of our food system from seed to table and it’s my desire to be part of the change..
My own celiac diagnosis sparked the need to get much closer to my food and control the ingredients.
I guess in a way I kind of panicked when I got that diagnosis. I realized that even though I preferred natural and homemade, I relied a lot on prepared foods. My fridge was full of bottled sauces and dressings and many of those products contain gluten.
I fear that most of my contemporaries are the same. In a generation, we’ve lost the ability to cook from scratch. We have outsourced cooking to large companies who are only too happy to do it for us.
The ingredients they chose are not about making our food more healthy for our bodies. They are about making the processing more efficient and pushing our evolutionary buttons with too much sugar and salt.
But the price we pay is not only in dollars, we pay with our health.
You'll see this repeated throughout the site. It's the way I try to approach everything and what I try to keep in mind as I research and write for you.
I grew up in the city but my roots are in the country. My grandparents owned a farm near Bancroft in Ontario’s Ottawa Valley. My family would make the drive there every other weekend because family was important to my Mom.
Image by James Quirk, Accent on Photography, Bancroft, Ontario, Canada
Pretty much everything that went on the table came from just a few feet away in my grandfather’s garden. Grandpa was out there every day tending that garden like it was the only thing in life that was truly important.
There were rows of sweet corn, hills of potatoes, lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, carrots, radishes, asparagus, cabbage, and so on. And not one leaf ever saw a molecule of pesticide. Grandpa was organic when organic wasn’t cool.
“If a bug won’t eat it why would I?” he’d say.
My grandmother’s kitchen was a classic country kitchen. Huge wood stove at one end and when I was still quite young, the electric stove made its appearance at the other end. The tiny fridge held a bottle of milk, a block of cheese and two store bought condiments: mustard and ketchup “because the kids like it”.
Everything else was homemade: relish, applesauce, jams, jellies, pickles, the list goes on. Bread was made from scratch twice a week. Soup came from a pot on the stove, not a can. And sauces were made from the wonderful meats and vegetables slow roasting in the oven. I doubt “locavore” was even a word then but you don’t get much more local than that.
The man who wrote this book grew up in Vermont much the way I described above. I read about the people and places where he was raised and the pictures in my mind were of that farm in the Ottawa Valley and the people there.
As a result of Dr. Jarvis’ teachings I went on a regimen of apple cider vinegar and honey, and less than a year later gave birth to my beautiful daughter, Sarah.
I was steeped in ‘natural’, ‘organic’, and ‘local’ as a child. It was obvious to me that what nature grew was better than anything humans could produce. I rejected the idea that margarine was better than butter or that artificial sweeteners were healthy. All the nonsense about saturated fat made no sense to me. After all, my grandfather spread bacon fat on his toast and lived into his nineties. (I know, gross, right?)
Through my twenties and thirties, I generally followed a healthy diet and felt well. But there were a few nagging issues that crept up and eventually demanded attention. After my son was born I developed a nasty case of eczema. Eliminating soaps and scented lotions helped but it was never really under control. I didn't know then then my skin problem was dermatitis herpetiformis, a symptom of celiac disease.
During my pregnancy with my daughter I developed severe lactose intolerance. A few years after that I needed gall bladder surgery. Then as time went on I’d notice my tummy was ‘unhappy’ much of the time. I tried eliminating coffee as I’d heard that was hard on the digestion, but it didn't help. My finger nails were always soft. I continued to have acne well into my thirties and forties and over time I developed uterine fibroids.
After the gall bladder surgery I began to have difficulty swallowing my food. It was like a spasm in the area where my gall bladder used to be and the food wouldn’t go down. For years I controlled this by chewing well and sipping water during my meals. But eventually it got to the point where meals were interrupted by my need to go to the bathroom and throw up my food. My husband insisted I go to the doctor.
Of all the things I thought could be the cause of my problem, the absolute last thing I suspected was my healthy whole grain bread!
When the doctor gave me the requisition for the celiac test I almost didn’t go. “This is ridiculous”, I thought. I eat lots of bread and pasta and I don’t feel sick specifically after those things. But I went.
I was 48 years old. I'd been sick for more that twenty years.
In my other life, I’m a retired project manager. I worked for nearly twenty years for a major Canadian financial institution.
I’m married to my best friend and soul mate, Jim. Between us we have five grown children and two grandchildren. This has been a journey for all of us as family life always is.
After Celiac diagnosis, my son started to think that he felt better and could focus better on his studies without gluten. My daughter has severe eczema. Although she tested negative for celiac she eliminated gluten and dairy from her diet for several years with mixed results. Both have gone back to eating gluten. It is a difficult diet to follow.
So we're all learning as we go and making new discoveries every day. As we do, I'll be sure to share them here with you.
All the Best,
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