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Dime-sized Bite

file0001097164283A dime-sized bite of cracker = three days of sickness.

Welcome to the world of food allergies. In my One New Thing post this week, I told you about having a discouraging week. I have to persevere through my allergies. It’s my race to endure.

Without thinking I picked up the cracker my kids were discussing with their aunt and popped it into my mouth. I thought, it’s only cheese. I know just what happens with cheese and I can handle it! Just one. Just one dime-sized bite. It wasn’t until I was swallowing that I realized the overpowering taste was garlic. GARLIC! My foe. One of my bigger allergies.

For awhile, nothing happened. Then a headache appeared right in the middle of my forehead. It wasn’t too bad and I thought, maybe I’ll be OK this time! Thirty minutes later the headache was in full force. With the headache came the mood swing. By the time we were almost home, I was over-reacting to all situations with my kids. The kids knew I ate something and was right in the middle of a reaction. They knew the drill. They knew to stay away from mom and just give her space. A few hours later I was better, except for the headache that lasted for three days, despite any meds.

What won’t go away is the fear. If a bite the size of a dime can set off that much of a reaction, what would an entire meal laced with my poison  allergies do to me? Why did I react so much? I normally don’t react to this degree. What else in my system is off? I’ve been working with my doctor to regulate my thyroid. It’s off. Again. When it’s off, my system is overloaded. When my system is overloaded… you got it! I react more to my allergies. I know all of that, but it still doesn’t take away my fear.

A few plans needed to be set in place.

  • First, we looked at our calendar. Any plans that would place me in danger with food were re-evaluated.
  • Can I control the food?
  • Can I request special items?
  • Can I bring my own food?
  • Some events were cancelled. One in particular was a difficult decision.
  • Some events will just take extra planning – calls to local restaurants to find one to work with me or extra time around a kitchen so I can cook safe meals.
  • Plans for date nights – find at least one place that will work with my food allergies.
  • Plans for lunch out with friends -Salads are easy, but that means I need to bring my own dressing.
  • Plans for coffee at coffee shops – Once again, I can take my own add-ins – I just have to remember to!

Instead of planning, this week I pouted. Until my pastor read this verse:

In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.                                     1 Peter 1: 6 – 9

Now I’m finding joy.

I can make the best of this.

One bite at a time.

One New Thing – Endure the Race

The Houston Marathon was yesterday. It was cold, rainy day. When I woke up, I didn’t want to leave the house. I don’t think any of the runners woke up and thought, It’s cold and rainy, I think I’ll stay home today. After months of hard work and preparation, a little bit of rain wasn’t enough to keep the runners from their long anticipated race.

As the New Year is still new and fresh starts are each morning, be encouraged to run the race before you.

My race is my health.

What is yours?

I’ll admit, this message is for me too. It’s been a discouraging week. I’ll share more about that in a detailed post later this week. There was one bright spot. I put on a belt I haven’t worn in a few months. When I started to tighten it, I couldn’t believe how much tighter I could fasten it! The leather is crinkled, cracked, and worn – it does not lie about where it used to fit. I counted 8 notches tighter! Next week I’ll tell you how many inches that equals and how One New Thing has spurred me on towards my goal! Until then, I leave you with this verse:

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. Hebrews 12: 1-3

One New Thing – Kombucha!

In my quest for better health, I started One New Thing a week. This week I’m going to tell you about one of my family’s favorite things.

KOMBUCHA!

It sounds like a battle cry and looks like a foreign language. That’s not too far from the truth. When I yell Kombucha, my kids come running. (Except one – she runs the OTHER way, but I’ll tell you why a little later.)

This phenomenon has been in the news lately. A child was recently sent home (almost suspended) for bringing Kombucha in their lunch. It violated the school drug and alcohol policy. Kombucha is often found in the hands of famous stars who probably pay high dollar for a bottle of this popular drink that is one of the “new” health fads.

So… what is it???? It’s a tea. But a very special tea. When you read all of the health benefits, it starts to sound too good to be true, like one of the miracle cure-alls door to door salesmen tried to sell in the early 1900’s before they got booted out-of-town. Unlike those cons, this stuff is for real! This article tells the many facts of WHY you should drink kombucha: http://www.foodrenegade.com/kombucha-health-benefits/ but basically it helps anything from digestion issues to depression. Not to mention it’s a detox, cancer prevention, arthritis help, and probiotic.

So where can you get the stuff??? Health food stores carry it for around $2 a bottle. Or you can make your own. And I’m going to tell you how! (Which will save you a whole bunch of money. You’re welcome!)

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That cute picture came from HERE. It’s almost how I make my kombucha. Every website with instructions about how to brew your own Kombucha has a different version of the same thing. Look at the recipe and alter it to what fits you. The important things are the starter, sugar, tea (not a herbal one), and the can’t make without it Scooby. Or as my friend loving calls its, “Scabby.” Scooby is the reason my daughter runs away. She thinks it’s too gross. I look at Scooby as a growth of health and wellness. Scooby is the culture. Scooby is the WHY Kombucha is so good for you. Besides that, I can’t really explain the magic of the Scooby – this Mother of health that even grows a baby!

Now for the HOW:

  • Boil 3 cups of water (to remove impurities) for five minutes,
  • Add tea bags to make tea.
  • Let it steep.
  • Add 1 cup sugar and stir until it’s dissolved.
  • Give it time to cool. (If the tea is too hot when you put the Scooby in, the heat will kill it!)
  • In a glass container put the cooled tea/sugar mixture, one cup of starter, and one Scooby.
  • Fill the rest of the container with filtered water.
  • Cover with a towel or linen and secure with a rubber band.
  • Place container in a cool, dark area for fermenting. I stick mine on a top shelf in the pantry.
  • Let it rest and work it’s magic for around 7 days.
  • Taste. If too sweet, let it sit longer. If vinegary, it fermented a day or two too long. Next time, do it a day less.

*I came up with these instructions based on what works for me. I make 3 gallons at a time. The large pot I boil my water in holds 10 cups. I needed to divide the tea between all containers. That is the scientific reason why my recipe call for you to boil the 3 cups of water. (Technically it’s really 9 cups give or take and I add three cups of sugar because I triple the recipe.) Do what works for you.*

Congrats on being patient and waiting for your Kombucha to brew. Now it’s time to harvest! When you see your Scooby, it will be a white/tan color with brown stringy stuff around it. That is what it’s supposed to look like! I peel off the strings – so Scooby will look presentable for the next harvest!

Harvest your Scooby:

  • Take the towel off and gently remove the Scooby. Place in a bowl (non-metal but I couldn’t tell you why, I think they just don’t like metal) with a cup of the Kombucha brew (what I call the starter). The Scooby is thicker than what you put into the brew. Peel off the top. That’s the baby! Now you can make TWO batches!!! I make a batch as I harvest. The tea starts steeping before I get the Kombucha out of the pantry (the fermenting location).
  • Strain the rest of the Kombucha into bottles. I use a mixture of wine and beer bottles, but have also used mason jars. The wine and beer bottles are colored glass. Scientists (my kids) swear that it just tastes better from colored bottles. Either that, or it’s the novelty of drinking from alcoholic bottles. One day they might need therapy for this.
  • Let the bottle sit on the counter for a day or two, then stick in the refrigerator. This part adds a natural carbonation. It reminds my kids of soda! (Maybe a flat soda… but a little fizz does wonders!) This is the stage where many people add fruits to give it some flavor. I tried berries and ginger. My favorite was the ginger!!! My kids enjoy it so much plain, I don’t add fruit to it anymore.
  • Rinse (with water only) the gallon jar you  harvested from and start over!!!!

After a few more rounds, you will have more Scoobies than you need. Place them in a glass jar (I use pint-sized Mason jars) with starter and cover with the lid. Now you have a Scooby Hotel. Add more each time you brew until the jar is full. Be sure to share a Scooby with a friend! When a Scooby becomes discolored (not the brown string stuff but dark colored infected looking spots) or molded. THROW IT OUT and start over! Have fun and do One New Thing for your health!

One New Thing for the Holidays

Candies, cakes, pies, turkey, dressing, sweet potatoes topped with marshmallows or sugary pecans, fruit salad smothered with whipped cream, more pies, and cookies, oh my. My mouth is watering just thinking back over the week. This is probably the first time EVER that I did not gain weight during Thanksgiving week. I took my own advice and ate just one bite, not one serving. It was also the first time I did not sleep away Thanksgiving afternoon due to allergic reactions.

I also did One New Thing this year while travelling. I scoped out restaurants beforehand. It didn’t take much planning and my family graciously made decisions ahead of time. As soon as I knew where we were going, I checked menus on-line. Knowing my options beforehand made a huge difference. There were times we ate out and I didn’t have a chance to scope places, then I simply ordered a salad. Only one time did the waiter have to ask about substitutions with a manager. I’ve learned to ask for the chicken (or other proteins  to be cooked plain, or to ask for fries without extra seasoning salt. It’s just easier to phrase it that way instead of telling the waiter lists of allergies and asking them what they think. There are too many “hidden” allergens. Many places have meat that is pre-seasoned. I stay ask if they come that way and just order something else. The simple phrases “gluten-free” and “food allergies” capture people’s attention and just about everyone was gracious about helping us with menu items. Whether you are  concerned with food allergies, gluten, or calorie counting, don’t be afraid to just ask! Before you even have to ask, look on-line! With menus posted on-line, it’s easy to count calories or watch for troublesome foods before you even step foot into a restaurant!

While at my sisters, I encountered one tea room that went out of their way to accommodate my gluten-free daughter. They told me that if I call the day before, they will make sure some menu items (since it’s a small establishment without a set menu) are gluten-free or safe from whatever allergies we have. We will make sure to visit that restaurant the next time we are in town! It just takes one question to realize how accommodating establishments are. The gracious ones will receive my business. In the past, I didn’t want to make a fuss, or cause any trouble. Then I would end up sick. Not anymore.

My One New Thing for the Holidays is to scope out restaurants beforehand!

What are your favorite holiday tips?

One New Thing – One Bite Not One Serving

Traveling for the holidays can be daunting for dieters or those with food allergies. If you think about it, the Holidays are daunting. Food is everywhere. Yesterday, while out-of-town at my sister’s, the downtown shopping district of their small town kicked off Christmas with an open house in the stores and business that lined the downtown shopping area. Really… it was a street. Make that two blocks – of shops. (I said small town, didn’t I?) Well, every store we went into participated in this Christmas kick off with food. Cookies, dips, hot tea and cider, even a mimosa (I may be travelling, but I’m still in the South) tempted me everywhere I looked. So I had a cookie. Along with it came a headache. And I’m still paying for the sip (OK… two sips) of a mixed drink laced with ice cream. *sigh*

This is my first holiday season that I know about my long and strange list of food allergies. Most of my food allergies are low-level and I can tolerate a bite here and there. ***I am NOT advocating going against doctor’s orders! My doctor gave me permission last week to – on occasion – try a food I haven’t had in a while, if I think I can tolerate it.***

In previous years, when people slept off the Thanksgiving Turkey, I slept off allergic reactions. This year I want it to be different. This year my One New Thing is one bite, not one serving and to stay away from the foods I react to – and I’ve even talking calories here – my hips sure react to those! Now, there are somethings that are oh-so-hard to pass up during this time of year. My sister-in-law has some cookies that just proclaim Thanksgiving is HERE! And what is Thanksgiving without sweet potato casserole?  On a few of my all time favorites, I’ll just have one bite – not one serving. There are some things I will have to say goodbye to forever and those items will not even get one bite. See you later, cornbread dressing and (sniff, sniff) egg nog. I will not let you ruin my holiday no matter how tantalizing you are!

For those of you just visiting my page today – thanks for stopping! This post is in a series I do called One New Thing. Check a few of them out and be sure to come back regularly to see what my One New Thing is next!

For those of you with food allergies, this is my first major travelling trip and it’s getting harder and harder to find safe foods the farther I travel from home. I would really appreciate your tips for travelling during the Holidays! When we went shopping, if I had known there would be food at every turn, a bag of snacks sure would’ve helped! So when am I going to learn to keep a bag on hand anyway? Well, I think I just learned that lesson!

For those of my regular readers, I may or may not post again this week. I have no idea if I will have access to internet or not. Enjoy this holiday season and know that I am truly thankful for each of you. Every time I receive a click on a page it feels like a “howdy-do” from a friend and comments are like hugs. I write because I love to, and I put it out there on this blog because I want to help people connect. For whatever reason, a few of you keep coming back week after week. I am so very thankful for you.

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

One New Thing – November 8th

I thought about not doing a One New Thing post this week. The truth is, last week and the week before ended up not being sucessful. The only reason I exercised three days the first week and two last week was because of you, my readers. So, thank you for just being there – it was an encouragement!!! Ok, a little truth and reality – 0ver the weekend the sniffles turned against me into a full blown cold. That little cold spread through my family. I didn’t wake up early. I didn’t exercise. I didn’t even leave the house on most days. I thought, there is NO way I can post a One New Thing.

Then it hit me, instead of feeling like I had failed to do One New Thing, I can look at it positively. I choose to take care of my cold. I let my body sleep. I did not stress my body out by leaving the house and becoming exhausted. I used lots of essential oils and gargled. When I needed to rest, I did. So this week, my One New Thing is – Rest.

Come to me… and I will give you REST. Matthew 11:28

“I wish” becomes “I AM!”

Darkness and fog surrounded me as I tied my shoes and started my morning walk. The sky began to lighten, but darkness still reigned the early morning hour. I walked alone, lost in my thoughts until I noticed my shadow. (Cue fairy dust music.) Long and lean, it stretched before me encouraging me to keep moving. As I watched my shadow, the thoughts that ran through my head were far different than a few months ago. Back then, my shadow would’ve mocked me – even if it stretched out long and lean, my eyes would not accept it that way. What changed my perception? One New Thing.

Participating in One New Thing has shifted my way of thinking. Instead of living in a state of “I wish,” I live in a state of “I am.”

  • I wish I were losing weight became I AM losing weight.
  • I wish I felt better became I AM feeling better.
  • I wish I didn’t suffer from food allergies became I AM doing all I can.
  • I wish I had time to cook healthy meals became I AM cooking healthy meals.
  • I wish I didn’t rely on coffee to wake up became I AM waking up alert.
  • I wish I spent more time in the Word became I AM spending daily time with God.
  • I wish my family ate healthy became I AM feeding my children healthy food.
  • I wish I felt like exercising became I AM exercising, even if I don’t feel like it.

It didn’t start overnight.

I did One New Thing at a time. I knew I needed to change so my health would change. Waking up and starting everything at once is hard. Probably impossible. In some warped way, I didn’t think I deserved to be skinny and fit. The fact is, you can’t be skinny and fit if you eat junk and sit around. So, I guess you can say, I didn’t deserve it. That sounds harsh, but if you don’t desire it, you won’t work for it. If you don’t work for it, you don’t deserve it.

If a man is lazy, the rafters sag;
if his hands are idle, the house leaks. (Ecclesiastes 10: 18)

Before I even realized it, and without even trying, my thinking changed. I see my shadow as long and lean and I accept it. Why? The answer is easy! I am actively doing good things for myself.

Anyone who guards what he says guards his life.
But anyone who speaks without thinking will be destroyed.

People who refuse to work want things and get nothing.
But the longings of people who work hard are completely satisfied.

Those who do right hate what is false.
But those who do wrong bring shame and dishonor. (Proverbs 13:3-5)

When you actively take care of yourself, you can’t help but think YOU DESERVE IT.

Maintain your bridge – work hard and don’t let your rafters sag!

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