Get Glam Gluten Free Hair!

20130520-210328.jpg I never knew there was such a thing as Gluten Free Hair…..until I realized my fav Rusk products were making my hair fall out. Yup, my sensitivity level is so high with gluten, that I have to find true GF hair products. Thank goodness, my hairstylist, Thomas Dunn (standoutsalon.com) told me about it. Even when I get my hair colored, bless his heart, he goes out and buys me special coloring products so that I won’t fill his sink up with gobs of my hair!

Just when I thought I had the gluten under control, I was losing hair again. The culprit at the time was my bevy of Rusk products. I love them but they don’t love me. The issue? Hydrolyzed Wheat Protein.
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So in a nutshell, hydrolyzed wheat protein contains glutamine, which comes from gluten, but is an amino acid. So why then if its broken down, do I have such a bad reaction? Thanks to gnolls.org, everything’s explained.

20130520-212428.jpgSo my assumption is that the peptides (amino acid bonds found in proteins) are the culprits behind my hair loss. Whether or not the bottle reads “Gluten Free” or “Sans Gluten” please read the ingredient label. I almost had a narrow run in myself. Super excited that BigSexyHair was GF, I snatched a ginormous bottle. Literally seconds before I stepped in the shower, I read the label to find my dreaded Hydrolyzed Wheat Protein. I was SO bummed!

20130520-212052.jpg So I returned it the next day and stuck to my staples. Here’s a list of some FAB GF hair products!

20130520-212755.jpg L-R: HealthySexyHair Soy Moisturizing Shampoo & Conditioner; Bumble and Bumble Bb Prep (volumizing spray); Alterna Caviar Repair Recovery Shampoo, Conditioner & Photo-Age Defense (Alterna’s products are DIVINE!!)

And if you’re a Maxxinista (love all things T.J. Maxx), you can find HealthySexyHair products at a steal! Grab a huge bottle for the same price a salon will charge for the small bottles!

20130520-213457.jpgHappy shopping and here’s to healthy, sexy, gluten free hair!

Get Glam Gluten Free Hair!

20130520-210328.jpg I never knew there was such a thing as Gluten Free Hair…..until I realized my fav Rusk products were making my hair fall out. Yup, my sensitivity level is so high with gluten, that I have to find true GF hair products. Thank goodness, my hairstylist, Thomas Dunn (standoutsalon.com) told me about it. Even when I get my hair colored, bless his heart, he goes out and buys me special coloring products so that I won’t fill his sink up with gobs of my hair!

Just when I thought I had the gluten under control, I was losing hair again. The culprit at the time was my bevy of Rusk products. I love them but they don’t love me. The issue? Hydrolyzed Wheat Protein.
20130520-212316.jpg
So in a nutshell, hydrolyzed wheat protein contains glutamine, which comes from gluten, but is an amino acid. So why then if its broken down, do I have such a bad reaction? Thanks to gnolls.org, everything’s explained.

20130520-212428.jpgSo my assumption is that the peptides (amino acid bonds found in proteins) are the culprits behind my hair loss. Whether or not the bottle reads “Gluten Free” or “Sans Gluten” please read the ingredient label. I almost had a narrow run in myself. Super excited that BigSexyHair was GF, I snatched a ginormous bottle. Literally seconds before I stepped in the shower, I read the label to find my dreaded Hydrolyzed Wheat Protein. I was SO bummed!

20130520-212052.jpg So I returned it the next day and stuck to my staples. Here’s a list of some FAB GF hair products!

20130520-212755.jpg L-R: HealthySexyHair Soy Moisturizing Shampoo & Conditioner; Bumble and Bumble Bb Prep (volumizing spray); Alterna Caviar Repair Recovery Shampoo, Conditioner & Photo-Age Defense (Alterna’s products are DIVINE!!)

And if you’re a Maxxinista (love all things T.J. Maxx), you can find HealthySexyHair products at a steal! Grab a huge bottle for the same price a salon will charge for the small bottles!

20130520-213457.jpgHappy shopping and here’s to healthy, sexy, gluten free hair!

My Gluten Free Discovery: What are the symptoms?

This is not a sexy story. It’s not glamorous. It’s certainly not a beauty queen story. It’s just my Gluten discovery story and I hope it can help a lot of people.

I’m an all-or-nothing kind of girl….go big or go home. So as we delve into this awesome world of Gluten issues, brace yourselves cause it ain’t pretty. You know how Dr. Oz always talks about poop? What’s the color? What’s the shape? Is yours normal or not? He highlights these questions and many more in his “No Embarrassment” episode, and by the end of this blog, you’ll be asking yourself the same thing.

There are literally hundreds of symptom combinations that revolve around Gluten. Yours may not be like mine. You may have more or less symptoms than mine. I’m not a doctor nor do I claim to be. This blog is not your Bible. My hope is that by learning of my investigation, you will feel comfortable enough to do the same for your issues. I would also check out http://www.celiaccenter.org when you get a chance. All the information comes from my doctor, Alessio Fasano. So without further adieu here is my discovery story.

The Symptoms

20130519-205331.jpg My daughter, Airlie, was born in April 2010. By that fall, I had finished nursing her and my body & its hormones were starting to get back to “normal.” By that December, I started noticing constant abdominal pain. With that, came debilitating headaches, joint aches and all around feeling like crap. I took a visit to my OBGYN, learned nothing of my problems and went on my way into the New Year. Come February of 2011, I was so fatigued, I could barely make it through the day. I’d be movin and shakin and all of a sudden would feel like I had been hit by a Mack truck. For my fellow mamas out there, I felt like I was in my first trimester all over again. 4 pregnancy tests later and another trip to my OBGYN, I was not pregnant and was still fatigued, with headaches, abdominal cramps and joint aches. Heading into Spring, every time I ate, you would have thought I was 5 months pregnant. After EVERY meal, my stomach became so distended and bloated that I should have had people patting my belly asking my due date. Once Summer hit, I started having serious issues. My lower back hurt so bad, every day, that I couldn’t put my daughter in her crib without moaning in pain. I couldn’t lift anything heavy or bend over too far without excruciating pain. Never did I think what I was eating was causing this. I started getting foggy brain or when you’re pregnant, we call it “mama brain.” I’d look at a glass of water on the table and couldn’t form the sentence to ask my husband to bring me the glass. I literally could not form simple sentences and it drove me crazy! I would eat a meal and not 20 minutes later, would be doubled over on the sofa, unable to move for hours. I’d be standing at the sink washing dishes, trying to hold myself up on the counter, my body hurt so bad. And to the Dr. Oz part, would have constipation, diarrhea, gas and everything in between. Sometimes the pain was so bad, I thought I would pass out. Then my hair started falling out. I had already been through the thin-to-thick-to-thin hair process some deal with while pregnant. So I knew this was something else. Gobs of hair would fall out in the shower, as I brushed my hair or even ran my fingers through it. Little red bumps (the size of normal mosquito bites) appeared on my thighs and my scalp. And by August, I couldn’t gain weight if I tried. As you should know by now, that’s virtually impossible for me, so that was a huge red flag. Every day I was miserable. I was in pain and it seemed as if no one could help me.

The Discovery

20130519-205416.jpg By that time, I had been to my OBGYN a third time, she removed my IUD birth control in case that had been the culprit. It was not. I had a CT Scan done in case it was my appendix. It was not. Nor was it my liver, gall bladder or pancreas. I had visited a GI doctor, had a colonoscopy and endoscopy done only for the doctor to tell me I was stressed and to come back when I was 50. That went over rreeeaaallll well with me. I didn’t have Crohn’s Disease, polyps or ulcerative colitis. So I was sent home with a big fat bill, still sick and no answer. My step-mom was diagnosed with Celiac Disease over 20 years ago. I had watched her struggle and learn to live with it. After all my procedures and still no cure, she suggested I go Gluten Free for a few days. It was the beginning of October, I felt hopeless and was willing to try anything. Within 3 days I felt like a completely new person. It was unbelievable! The back, the stomach, my joints, everything stopped hurting.

Now the golden test for Celiac Disease is to check the villi in the stomach during an endoscopy. If they are “flattened,” they have worn down due to a lack of nutrients from the negative reaction to gluten. Mine had looked fine. The GI doctor had told me I probably had irritable bowel syndrome because nothing Celiac related had shown up. Well, a week into my Gluten Free eating, I had accidentally been served a gluten dish while out to eat. I was up all night in horrible pain and I was as mad as a hornet. I knew I couldn’t have gluten but no doctor was able to help me! At 1:00 that morning, I found an email address online for Dr. Alessio Fasano, the doctor I had been studying for months, researching possible diagnoses for me. So I emailed him and yes I played my Miss USA card. I was desperate for someone to hear me and help. Within 30 minutes he had emailed me back and told me to call his office on Monday. I was shocked, relieved and nervous at the same time. By Monday I had an appointment set up to meet with him in Baltimore at the University of Maryland, where at the time, the Center for Celiac Disease, was located. (They have moved their research center to Boston’s MassGeneral Hospital for Children.)

Two weeks later, I was sitting in Dr. Fasano’s office, had blood work done and learned of a huge, unknown world called Gluten Intolerance. I learned that I did not have Celiac Disease, but had what probably most Americans have but don’t know it, gluten sensitivity. This is not a food allergy, yet my body simply cannot digest gluten. And when gluten is ingested, all other areas of my body are affected and are been pulled on to try and process it, thus making me miserable. There’s no simple test for gluten sensitivity. It’s a detective game and patients need to take the lead on the case to truly find a solution because most doctors won’t – as I found out. So I’ve been on a GF diet ever since. Dr. Fasano thinks childbirth triggered my gluten sensitivity. Some of these symptoms, I’d had small traces of my whole life. I knew they were there but never really paid much attention to them. I just kind of lived with them. But after I had Airlie, the symptoms intensified where I couldn’t ignore or live with them.

This is my gluten free life. I don’t always love it. I always miss my favorite gluten foods, until I accidentally eat something and am sick for 3 days. It’s a pain in the butt sometimes (no pun intended) but I’m so thankful to God for it. I have it for a reason and because of word of mouth, I was on the road to discovery & recovery. Which is why I’m so eager to share everything with you. If you feel like you may have gluten sensitivity, please do the research and speak to your doctor about the things going on with you body. It’s so worth it to be proactive!

Gluten Free Bangin’ off the Charts BBQ

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BBQ (pulled pork – the real kind 😉) cole slaw, fries. All GF. All insanely good.

Now, there’s a special way to cook these ribs and it’s super easy. My girl, Cindy, taught me how and I’m excited to share it with you!

Whatcha Need:
– country style ribs (it’ll say that on the package)
– water
– Sweet Baby Rays (THE sauce!)
– a crockpot
– an oven or microwave

Whatcha Do:
– Ok, grab your ribs, throw them in the crockpot, cover them in water, turn the heat on low and leave them be.

*If you want BBQ for lunch, you’ll start this the night before. If you want BBQ for dinner, you’ll start this first thing in the morning. They will cook for anywhere from 6-8 hours.

- When you’re ready to eat, pull them out (they’ll be fallin off the bone). Stick them I’m a glass dish and smother them with Sweet Baby Rays. You can either throw them I’m the oven at 350 for about 10-12 min. Or pop them in the microwave for that long.

- Pull them out and enjoy!

I love to eat mine with cole slaw, baked beans, fries and potato salad. I always put mine in my Perfect Plate and go to town. It’s easy, no fuss and makes your mouth happy. I’ll share my famous cole slaw recipe another time!

My Go-To Gluten Free Sushi

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I have long loved sushi. For years I was hesitant to it’s raw and texturizing appeals but once I tried it, I was hooked for life! I was on NBC’s Celebrity Cooking Showdown during my Miss USA helm and on the show, my celeb chef, Cat Cora, taught me how to make sushi. I of course, was completely grossed out. Her enlisted help from famed chef Morimoto didn’t do much to change that until I tasted the first roll I had made. Immediately I was in spicy tuna heaven.

Flash forward to my new gluten free life where I can still enjoy my fav dish, but with a few slight modifications. First things first: become a creature of habit. When you find a true gluten free friendly restaurant, dish or recipe, stick with it. You’ll always be safe and never sorry. Ruby Foos in NYC (49th & Broadway) has become a safe haven for me when I’m in the city. Not only do they have an extensive GF menu, but they go above and beyond to keep cross contamination extinct. I always order their New Yorker roll and the veggie fried rice. It’s insanely good but like all things GF it needs to be ordered in a special way.

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1. Make sure to tell the server you are GF.
2. Make sure there is NO tobiko on your sushi roll. Tobiko (fish eggs) contain wheat in them. Not sure why, but there ya go!
3. Ask for GF soy sauce. Yes, there’s wheat in that too! They keep it plentifully on hand.

Sushi is limiting for all of us GF’s out there so be weary of sauces, panko, and tobiko. Stick to your new classics and sushi it up baby!

Best Gluten Free Cereal!

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I can still smell the fresh, made-from-scratch biscuits from Hardee’s……as they arguably have the best breakfast biscuits on the planet. What I would give to sink my teeth in one of their sausage, egg and cheese masterpieces! But unless a magical pill pops up, those buttery days are gone.

But, thanks to General Mills, I’ve got an awesome GF choice every morning. Now I’ve always been a Cheerios kind of girl when it comes to cereal so I’ve been in love with my Gluten Free option in Honey Nut Chex. The taste is even better and with my good ‘ol whole milk, its a fantastic option for breakfast!

So this Gluten thing…..what is it?

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So this little thing called Gluten….what the heck is it? After countless hours of study and a visit to the Center for Celiac Disease at the University of Maryland, I can tell you a lil bit about it. Gluten is a protein complex found in certain grains (Wheat, Barley, Oats, Rye and Malt being your top contenders). In a nutshell, it’s the “glue” or elasticity that holds dough together making it the moist, sticky, self-rising goodness we love. And on the taste-o-meter, it makes our fav baked goods melt in our mouths.

Too bad these days, due to the way our grains are grown, gluten now has the digestibility of a rock. Having been diagnosed by whom I think is the Doctor of all Doctors, Dr. Alessio Fasano, I had plenty of questions for him. Basically he said, “Our grandfathers grains aren’t our grains,” as he went on to educate me on various studies done all throughout the U.S. and Italy working to link Gluten related issues to the foods we are eating.

Now how does that affect me? Well, after much testing (of which I will give guides on in another long post), I don’t have Celiac Disease, but am Gluten Intolerant. So no more gluten for me. Gluten comes from our favorite grains which can transcend into many foods, dishes, baked goods, makeup, condiments and hair products we enjoy on a daily basis. It takes some deciphering when it comes to de-coding labels, but as Dr. Fasano told me, look for these key terms:

- wheat
– barley
– oats
– rye
– malt

And if you’re Gluten Free, stay clear of them!