Happy New Year!

Happy New Year!

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I am so happy to close the door to 2016. This year has been one of the most difficult years of my life. Between my mom’s sudden passing and dealing with the emotions with that to my uncle’s passing after he had made so many milestones since the accident. Being with my ex who had brain surgery to us making the difficult decision to not be together anymore. I can’t forget the lessons I learned or how strong I realized I was.

There were happy things that happened too. My cousin got married and two more of my cousins got engaged. The love and bond of my family becoming closer that united us more than we could ever imagine. To the “fierce five” as my aunt calls us who have been through more tragedies than a person should have to endure in a lifetime. To my amazing friends and family who have supported me throughout this difficult year has shown me that I can get through anything. To all my lovegfreelife friends who have helped make my blog successful with their support.

There will always be challenges in life but it is how you react to them that either makes or breaks a person. I have learned this past year to love more, to not hold grudges because you don’t know when it will be the last time you speak to them. Life is precious. It is short and can be taken away at anytime. As I go into 2017, I am choosing love to guide me. “Love is love is love is love”. Happy New Years! Xoxo

 

Celiac Awareness Day!

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When you look at this picture, do you see someone who is fighting a chronic illness and an autoimmune disease (multiple autoimmune diseases)? I don’t but I am.
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Today is National Celiac Awareness Day. Celiac Disease is an autoimmune disorder where when gluten is ingested, it leads to damage in the small intestine. Your body thinks that there is a foreign invader in your intestine, so the villi gets attacked and damaged. Your body in response eventually struggles to absorb nutrients. Not only does it affect your intestines, Celiac Disease can encourage other autoimmune diseases to appear and other damaging problems. Anything from various cancers to thyroid problems to neurological manifestations.

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Researchers have found that Celiac Disease is hereditary and it affects 1 in 100 people worldwide. 2 1/2 million people live everyday with undiagnosed Celiac Disease. Without the proper tools, people who go too long without a diagnosis are putting themselves in extreme danger.

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When I was finally diagnosed (it used to take years to get a diagnosis) with Celiac Disease seven years ago, I didn’t take it seriously. I thought I just didn’t have to eat wheat. I would participate in happy hour after work and drink beer or eat gluten containing food because it was a holiday. I was naive and uneducated. I would often feel sick afterwards and sometimes that would last for days. My first major health episode came when I nearly died from an infected gallbladder. A few years after that, my appendix needed to come out. While the doctors were in there, they noticed that I had scar tissue wrapped around my stomach and my intestines. The scar tissue was removed but not without other complications. After that surgery, I began to do some research. I would have weird symptoms that never made sense like my hair and eyelashes would fall out, my joints hurt, I had brain fog, my stomach always felt bad, I always had a headache, and I overall felt like shit. I soon realized my “random symptoms” were really a part of having Celiac Disease. I found a book, Jennifer’s Way, by Jennifer Esposito that chronicled her life with her diagnosis with Celiac. After reading it, it changed my outlook on life. I didn’t know that ingesting gluten was actually killing me. I was doing irreversible damage to my body.

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I had the chance last year to meet Jennifer and thanked her for saving my life. I did a 360 in my life and cut gluten completely out. I am not going to lie and say it has been all peachy since then. I have suffered from multiple hospitalizations, new autoimmune disease diagnosis, and other health complications. But I am far better off health wise than I was seven years ago. And even though I sometimes struggle to get out of bed because I had a flare up, I know that I am trying my best to feed my body the medicine it needs through food. That’s the thing with an “invisible illness”. The person looks fine on the outside but is dealing with many debilitating things on the inside.

So if you take away anything from this, know that we are all fighting a battle that people don’t know about. Someone might “look fine” on the outside but is sick on the inside. So be kind to each other. Listen when someone says that they feel a certain way. You never know what battle they might be facing.

To find out more information on Celiac Disease, visit https://celiac.org.

Roasted Broccoli

Roasted Broccoli

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I love roasting vegetables as you know. I have shared a couple recipes, like my Fall Vegetable Roast with butternut squash, sweet potatoes, and whatever else is in season. This time I am sharing my delicious Roasted Broccoli with spices, topped with a sprinkle of parmigiana cheese (leave the sprinkle out to make it vegan).

Broccoli is an amazing vegetable. Not only does it contain tons of vitamins and minerals but helps aid the body with allergies and inflammation! It’s full of vitamin A, K, and D. Broccoli contains a large amount of vitamins A and K which help support the strength of vitamin D. They all work together to help your body process vitamin D.

If you have been following my story for a while, you know that I have tons of food allergies as well as Inflammatory Disease, where my body just chooses a spot to inflame or run rampant through my body. Currently, with all that I have going on personally, my body has taken a beating. It has chosen to not cooperate. The brain fog is back, the pain and inflammation are some days unmanageable, and my joints are freezing more than ever. I am hoping with adding in more anti inflammatory and nutrient dense foods, it will help my body to calm down a bit.

What You Need:

Broccoli (cut into the florets-I used two heads)
4 Cloves of Garlic (sliced thinly)
Herbed Olive Oil (use any type)
Salt and Pepper
Crushed Red Pepper Flakes
Trader Joes 21 Seasoning Shaker (you can also use Italian Herbed Grinder)

What To Do:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees and sprinkle a bit of olive oil on a baking sheet (don’t go over board-you only want a very thin coating).
Cut the stem off the broccoli, leaving only the florets. Add to the pan and thinly slice the garlic. After adding the garlic to the pan, sprinkle on some salt and pepper.
Add as much crushed red pepper that you like. Sprinkle some of the seasonings on top (I used about 2 teaspoons).
Toss all together, trying to coat all the broccoli with the seasonings, garlic, and olive oil.
Bake for about 15 minutes, flip, and bake for another 10. You want the broccoli to get a nice brownish tinge on parts of it. Top with some parmigiana cheese (leave off if vegan). Enjoy 🙂

Radioactive Eggs… a Health Update

“He who has health, has hope; and he who has hope, has everything.”

This quote is a proverb that I found online.  It rings true to anyone who is going through any health issues, especially those who have chronic health problems.  To remain hopeful is not always the easiest task. Sometimes I feel like I am wearing a mask, a big fake mask with a permanent smile. “You look so good”, is my favorite response when people see me. Yes, I might have lost a ton of weight.  Yes, I might have my mask with full make-up on, but I am sick. I might not “look” sick but inside my body, I am sick.

In addition to the Celiac Disease, I have another autoimmune disease called Inflammatory Disease, where my body just decides that it will randomly inflame different things. I also have Psoriasis (another autoimmune disease), chronic asthma, life-threatening food allergies, and regular food allergies. I have been living with chronic, debilitating pain in my side (the doctors think that it is scar tissue once again attacking something) and a whole bunch of random symptoms that make life no fun! (This is not a sob story, I promise.  Just a background of what I am dealing with).  Recently, I went to get another endoscopy to check in with the Celiac damage and to see why I have been throwing up every night.  On a positive note, the doctors found out that I am healing nicely from the Celiac damage (minus the annoying polyps). They couldn’t find a reason (endoscopically) why I am so sick. Flashforward to today…..

I had to eat radioactive eggs. No, I am not going to go all nuclear on you but it was definitely an experience.  Below you will find the radioactive eggs. Normal egg beaters infused with radioactive particles. (Some might say, “Jenn, aren’t you allergic to eggs?” Why yes, I am, but my doctor said the discomfort from the eggs is less important than the results we would get).

radioactive eggs

Delicious….

After eating the eggs, you get into a special x-ray machine and lie really still for 1 1/2 hours while it continuously takes pictures of your stomach.  The light ball in the center of the screen… those are the radioactive particles lighting up in the eggs in my stomach.

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I watched it as it slowly traveled down into my intestines. And by slowly, I mean slowly.  I was there for three hours before the radiologist determined that 90% of one egg had been digested.

Why the gastro doctor wanted a Gastro Emptying Study done was to see how I am digesting my food. Hopefully I will receive some results soon to why I am getting so sick eating. Until then, I have to remain hopeful. If you are going through health issues, remember that you are not alone. Even today when something random health wise happens, I am like, “What?? Who else does this happen to? Why always me?” I try to remember that someone else out there is dealing with the same random, crazy symptoms and they too had to figure it out. Or maybe they are in the process of figuring it out.  Maybe they are dealing with something completely different. That is why I hope my words resinate with someone who might be going through a rough time. That they too can say, hey I am not alone. Someone else has been through this and I can be hopeful that I too can get through this too.

xoxo

Jenn