Over the course of the last seven years, I’ve been in a battle with my body. What started as debilitating stomachaches morphed into migraines, weird rashes, multiple types of belly pain, bloating, cramping, nausea and general uncomfortableness.
Waking up every day, I didn’t know which symptoms I’d have, how they’d impact my work day or my social commitments or how to cope.
Doctor after doctor gave me inconclusive diagnoses and shoved me full of prescription acid-blockers. I was told to go on the BRAT (bananas, rice, applesauce and toast) diet whenever my symptoms arose, and after extensive testing, including an upper endoscopy, MRIs, CAT scans and blood work, I was still left without conclusive results or a treatment plan that didn’t include multiple medicines.
Frustrated and fed up after three years of what felt like no progress, I went to see a nutritionist who specialized in food allergies and sensitivities. She was the first person to suggest that my health problems could be related to what I was eating instead of overactive stomach acid. She took me off of gluten, eggs and dairy, and put me on a strict, six-small-meals-per-day diet. For about a year, I felt better than I had since my cycle of bad health had started. It was exhausting having to plan for so many meals and bring food with me everywhere I went, but I forged ahead, hopeful that my digestion disasters were behind me.
Then, somewhat suddenly, my symptoms reappeared, once again waging war on my daily life. Nine months of seeing a naturopath, a Chinese herbalist and a homeopath, and three full days of more extensive testing at the world-renowned Mayo Clinic later, the only answer I had was that my system was slightly low in B12. Unhelpful and disappointing to say the least.
What I didn’t know at that time was that, though my Mayo doctor had done all the standard Celiac disease testing, he wasn’t aware that in order for a blood test to point to a Celiac disease diagnosis, I had to actually be eating gluten for 8 to 12 weeks before the test. Fail.
It wasn’t until a doctor went back to look at my endoscopy results that my Celiac disease diagnosis was confirmed—and that was less than a year ago. For a while, I was angry with all the doctors I’d seen.
How had no one thought to test me correctly or accurately? Why didn’t anyone tell me about cross-contamination? I’d inadvertently been poisoning myself for nearly seven years and I had no idea.
Now, I’ve spent the months since my official diagnosis mourning the lost years, and learning all that I can about the autoimmune disorder (I highly suggest picking up the book Celiac and the Beast if you’re new to the disease, or just wondering about whether or not you could be intolerant). I’ve adjusted my lifestyle, bought a new toaster and new cutting boards (yes, cross contamination can happen through household items) and declared my home a gluten-free one. The only gluten-ful thing we stock in our house is beer, for my husband.
Why do I tell you all of this, when my headline promised tips on how to recover from getting glutened? Because I was in the dark for so long. Because I read countless articles about going gluten-free and still didn’t understand how to get tested or how to live a truly gluten-free life.
Now, I’m not saying this post is conclusive in all of those realms, but I do want it to be anecdotally comforting. If you’re struggling with any kind of long-term, undiagnosable health issues, you’re not alone. No matter how long it’s been going on, or how hard it’s been for you or how many doctors you’ve seen, don’t give up hope. There are answers out there for you, and though the road to get them is full of detours, speed bumps, crashes and breakdowns, it is ultimately worth it. You won’t always feel this badly.
Even though I’m painfully careful about avoiding gluten at home and at restaurants, no matter where you go (unless it’s this awesome, 100% gluten-free restaurant Susannah and I ate at in Austin), how many questions you ask and how certain your server is that your meal is gluten-free, there’s a chance that eating brunch at a new restaurant will lead to head fogginess, migraines, stomachaches, rashes and general un-wellness.
So how do I cope when I’ve been glutened? Here’s what’s worked best for me:
- I do a one-day juice cleanse.
- I up my probiotic intake to increase the good bacteria in my stomach, which helps soothe and calm things down.
- I pop Tummy Drops in ginger or peppermint to combat acute nausea (and to placate myself).
- I sometimes drink ginger ale. (I know, I know—sugar can make things worse. But I do it anyway.)
- I use Hope Gillerman’s Tension Remedy multiple times a day for my headaches.
- I take liquid chlorophyll to help my system detox.
- I make smoothies with GI-healing nutrients (GI Revive or Intestinal Repair Complex—see the comments of this IG post for a great recipe from Chase at Kypris Beauty).
- I heat up a corn bag or hot water bottle to hold on my stomach to alleviate cramping.
- I drink a ton of water.
There you have it: my Celiac disease story and how I cope when I get glutened. Do you have a similar story or tips on how to recover from food allergies? Share with us in the comments below!
Just as the cold air drifted in this past weekend, turmeric popped into my mind. Turmeric is a warming spice that I associate with fall weather and a soothed belly. It’s part of the ginger family and good for digestion. Personal question: are you fighting a pumpkin spiced latte habit or know someone who is? I’ve got a nice substitute that will beat the pang for a PSL while introducing more turmeric into your life. Plus it costs a lot less than the Starbucks superstar. You probably have a lot of the ingredients already.
But first, let me give you some good reasons to eat more turmeric. Both Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine use turmeric as an anti-inflammatory and to treat digestive and liver problems. Curcumin is the little compound in turmeric that is purported to have mega antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects on the body — two things we can all get down with. When I think about health issues I want to address, I happen to worry about inflammation, which ironically may be increasing the levels of inflammation in my body, but hey.
After learning more about the link between inflammation and disease, I try to keep inflammation triggers in check, and I’m willing bet on a dietary choice like turmeric to boost my body’s ability to quell inflammation. I follow the food is medicine doctrine.
Trust me, I know no matter how mindful you are or how much yoga you do, it can be hard to not freak out sometimes when life gets hairy. Turmeric is my little preventative measure against the compounding effects of those moments.
So let me make it easy for you to ditch the pumpkin spiced latte. I’ve got a turmeric-packed alternative that is creamy, sweet, and spicy with ingredients that not only taste good, but also do good for your body. Maybe you’ve heard of golden milk, or turmeric tea, a healthy drink made by blending turmeric powder (or finely grated if you’re lucky enough to find fresh turmeric) into hot milk of some kind. Sometimes ginger is included and often honey. The Internet swears it’s very good for you. I tried it a few ways before settling on my own version, which mellows the sharp turmeric flavor into a note among many. Here’s how I do it…
Gently heat 1 cup of coconut milk. Whisk in 1/4 teaspoon turmeric, 1 dash of black pepper, 2 dashes of cinnamon, 2-3 dashes of vanilla, 1 pinch of nutmeg, 1 pinch of ginger, and a teaspoon of honey. The spices may settle to the bottom of your cup, even if stirred well, so mind the last gulp! If you have a stick blender or frother, that really helps blend the spices in.
As you get accustomed to turmeric, you can increase the amount you add to your drink. Go slowly though, too much at first may cause an upset stomach! I especially love sipping this drink when the shift in climate leaves me feeling a little raw. When I make this in the morning, I feel strong and nourished. It’s very satisfying — not quite a meal but more than just a beverage. I get this visual of the spices hitting my bloodstream, and I feel certain I am doing good for myself and grateful that it can be so easy. This drink makes a restful nightcap, too. It smoothes the rough edges on any day, and sends me to bed feeling grateful again. Besides, there’s just something wonderfully ancestral about imbibing spices that have been in use for thousands of years. Think about it!
Do you drink something similar? Is turmeric something you enjoy?
Self care. It’s a buzzy term among the wellness set—but what’s the difference between that and just taking care of oneself? The way I see it, choosing clean products and healthy whole foods is great—but following health rules is not enough on its own to feel our best (in fact, sometimes being too strict has a negative impact on our health). True self-care means creating dedicated time for rituals that you do absolutely and only for you. Read, and repeat. Only for you.
Most of us have a tendency to prioritize other people’s needs over our own. And we think we’re doing the world a big fat favor by being so generous. But if you don’t fill your own tank, you’re not as helpful as you might think. In truth, if your own energy is low you’re probably unconsciously pulling other people down. C’est le truth.
I for one, have spent most of my life sucking at self-care in the way that I’m describing. But, ever the work in progress, over time I’ve incorporated certain rituals into my life that are just for me. I want to build out this list out though, so be sure to share yours!
What delightful things do you do just for yourself? Here are my top 5.
1. Airplane Mode: Bless this little button. That one simple swipe can give me a deep sense of relief (I’d shut my phone entirely, but I read my Kindle on it!). I think allowing oneself the luxury of being unreachable, even just for a short period, sends a message to the brain to chill. And amazingly, the world goes on without us when we disconnect.
2. Massages: Early research on the health benefits of massage therapy suggests that it helps with everything from anxiety to insomnia. I have never needed much convincing though, and living in LA makes regular massages accessible and affordable. But after years of trying out different spots, I finally found my holy-grail masseur deep in the Valley. While he looks like he could be in a K-pop band, this guy has some crazy healing hands.
3.Manicures: Bad for my nail beds but good for my soul. While never a totally clean practice, I have a salon that has none of the headachy odors with all of the trashy magazines. I go about twice a month and love the ladies there; it’s even started to give me that warm fuzzy feeling of community so often lacking in city life.
4. Home Yoga: I love going to a good yoga class with an inspiring teacher and a room full of sweaty practitioners. But there’s something about doing a home practice that just feels more inward and less fitness-goal-oriented.
5. Ashram Weekends: This is probably my most extravagant self-care ritual, and also my favorite. Despite the fact that I already travel on a weekly basis for work—and don’t see my husband nearly as much as I want to—I make almost-monthly weekend pilgrimages to the Sivananda Yoga Farm in Grass Valley where I did my teacher training. Just stepping foot on that property instantly hits the reset button for me, and ultimately makes me a better person (wife, employee, boss…). What I lose in time with loved ones, I am convinced I gain in quality.
What do you do just for you?
And just like that, summer is almost gone. It’s been one of great discovery for me—A Night For Green Beauty alone introduced me to so many new favorites—but we’ve been gabbing on and on about what we like…
We want to hear what made your summer hit list. What kept you feeling beautiful this summer?
It could be anything from ripe purple plums to a peaceful retreat. Of course we all love reading about the holy grail sunscreens and sweat proof lipsticks. Just kidding… lips don’t sweat. You catch my drift. Was it a rosewater lemonade spritzer? Paddleboarding? A killer new nail polish color or nighttime ritual?
Share your summer bliss secrets with us! Some things are too good to keep to yourself, right?
One of my favorite things about the green beauty world as I’ve experienced it is the camaraderie that you feel when you hear the story of how a brand was founded and it aligns closely with your own story of switching to natural products. This is what initially drew me to Laurel Whole Plant Organics (formerly Sequoia Beauty): Laurel, the line’s crafter, started her clean journey when a series of health issues arose. Nothing except natural medicine helped, which inspired her to go back to school to study herbs—and Laurel Whole Plant Organics was born, touting the belief that flower and herb-based skincare from biodynamic, raw, unrefined whole plant ingredients is the secret to glowing, healthy skin.
My story starts similarly, with digestive and lymphatic systems issues that no doctors could solve. So, I took matters into my own hands with lots of research, lots of label reading and lots of annoying soliloquies to friends, family, strangers and anyone within earshot.
Because our paths feel parallel, I had an affinity for Laurel and her line before I got a chance to try it. Then I got my hands on it and it was love at first sight and sniff. That’s why I’m so happy to help welcome Laurel WPO to the A Night For Green Beauty brand lineup! Now, onto the review…
I got to try a number of things from the line, but I want to regale you with my top three favorites, the ones I’ve been using religiously and the ones I’m already scared to run out of:
- Facial Elixir for Normal/Mature Skin—This hydrosol contains amazing, hydrating, soothing ingredients that my skin can’t get enough of. My favorite part of the blend is the helichrysum hydrosol, which my skin has been craving lately (it’s in my current face wash too, but more on that later). Helichrysum is a known anti-inflammatory, anti-allergenic, antiseptic and more. It’s great for healing scars, open wounds and sensitivities. Pair that with powerhouses like rose, calendula, frankincense and licorice and you’ve got a must-have elixir.
- Facial Mask: Brighten—I’m having a really hard time not just raving about all these products. This mask is incredible. It’s really gentle on my sensitive skin and I can see it working to repair my scars and dark spots. It has a distinct carrot smell that I find really invigorating in the morning, and it doesn’t contain any clays, which can be drying and stressful to my skin when overused. Comfrey, calendula and gotu kola boost aging skin and provide a glow.
- Healing Balm for Face and Body—If every skincare line has a holy-grail product, this is Laurel WPO’s. This balm is magic in a jar. It heals cuts, scrapes, blemishes, bug bites, eczema, dermatitis and more. I recently got a severe underarm rash from who-knows-what and this balm fixed it nearly overnight. Lavender, yarrow and marshmallow combine with, you guessed it, calendula, comfrey and helichrysum for anti-inflammatory and super healing powers that are unrivaled for me in other healing balms I’ve tried. And, no beeswax!! My skin is healthier and happier.
If you’re looking for a new line to try, this should go to the top of your list. I can’t say enough about the loveliness of its blends, its scents and its performance. Get thyself to their website!
Oh, and did I mention that the first 20 people to the A Night For Green Beauty event on August 7 in LA will snag a treat from Laurel WPO? No? Well, now you know to get there on time! Have you tried Laurel’s line? What do you think of it?