Health, Healthy Food

Invisible Illnesses Unveiled – Celiac Disease

Celiac Disease is an autoimmune disorder in which gluten ingestion can cause damage to the small intestine and other long-term health issues. 

Theresa Lanno is a hairstylist and my business partner at Bombshells Barbershop & Glam Lounge in Rockledge, Florida. We busted our asses to open our salon. Stress can do a lot of things to our bodies. Theresa was rapidly losing weight without trying. She was coughing up blood and having stomach issues. The first doctor she saw gave her ulcer medication and chalked it up to stress. Can you imagine if she just took those pills and did not push for further tests? She would be damaging her body for many years to come and suffer from more health issues. Many autoimmune diseases are a dominos effect on your health. 

 Long Term Health Effects

Celiac disease can develop at any age after people start eating foods or medicines that contain gluten. Left untreated, celiac disease can lead to additional serious health problems. These include the development of other autoimmune disorders like Type I diabetes and multiple sclerosis (MS), dermatitis herpetiformis (an itchy skin rash), anemia, osteoporosis, infertility and miscarriage, neurological conditions like epilepsy and migraines, short stature, and intestinal cancers. 
*Read more here.

 

Theresa also had a vitamin D deficiency, which can cause brain fog, bone pain, fatigue, depression and muscle weakness. Deficiencies are common with celiac disease. Gluten is a protein found in wheat and 1 in 100 people overreact to this particular protein, which damages the villi in their small intestines and causes poor absorption of food. Malnourishment can eventually lead to infertility, miscarriage, bone density loss, neurological diseases and certain types of cancer. 

Fortunately, the cure for celiac disease is to completely cut gluten out of your diet. My goal in unveiling invisible illnesses is to push others to be their own advocate and to get answers and not just accept the first guess a doctor quickly throws at you before their next patient. We want answers and and test as well asnproper treatments and not bandages or pills to mask our symptoms. 

Even if you are not Celiac, gluten sensitivities can cause similar issues minus the intestinal damage. Gluten has been know as an inflammatory food. You can read more here about research and references. 


*Photos by Misti Blu





At what age did you discover symptoms and how long did it take to get an official diagnosis?

Theresa: I found out I have Celiac disease in April. I’ve always had stomach aches and low energy.  I never thought anything of it until the past two years when my life got miserable. I couldn’t eat or drink with out feeling sick. I would get migraines, nausea, dizziness,  heartburn, brain fog and joint pain, which ruled my life. 

How do you feel about the healthcare system? 

Theresa: The healthcare system is very flawed. I went through tests for 2 years before getting a diagnosis. Every doctor said I was young and healthy with low vitamin levels & stress. I lost 20 pounds in 2 months. I knew it was something else and not just stress. Thankfully, after many different doctors, I went to a walk in clinic begging for answers. They finally sent me to a gastroenterologist. Even after going through all my tests it took over a month to get a diagnosis. Celiac disease isn’t very common and many doctors still don’t have knowledge about this disease, which is so frustrating. 

Do people have a hard time understanding your illness?

Theresa: Yes!  The worst thing about this disease is that the only way to feel better is by sticking to a strict gluten free diet. Cross contamination is a nightmare, which makes eating out almost impossible. Also, people use gluten free as a fad diet which makes restaurants not take it seriously. I get asked if my body’s intolerance to gluten is “a choice or an allergy.” Why anyone would make this choice for no reason is beyond me. Gluten free is not a fad, actually gluten free breads and sweets usually have more sugar and calories than “regular” things do! 

Do you have a message for people in your shoes who are struggling with this illness?

Theresa: It gets easier! The cravings are part of the disease. Be strong and don’t give into cravings. Celiac disease is strongly linked to cancer, MS, neuropathy, and diabetes. It’s no joke and there are so many people out there who feel the same!

What do you miss the most from before your diagnosis?

Theresa: I miss having a normal dinner with my friends and family.  I was such a foodie! I still am but it’s just harder now.  I don’t want to be the person who asks the waitress a million questions or has to fear getting sick from a chef’s negligence or server error.  But, most of all I miss real New Haven style PIZZA! 
What is your new favorite (gluten free) dish?

Theresa:  I have learned to make almost everything I loved before in a gluten free way. My favorite thing has been chicken parmesan! Barrilla makes the best GF pasta! I love Boars Heads deli meats for lunch and Goodie Girl Cookies are the shit for snacks! Sweets are my weak spot, and the Melting Pot has the best GF spread you will ever see! 

How have you changed or felt since your diet change? 

Theresa: All in all, the sucky diet is so worth the change. I feel so much better. I am down 20 lbs all together.  I still have days where my energy sucks and everything hurts but that is part of the autoimmune thing. No more crippling migraines or joint pain. It sucks sometimes but it could always be worse!

Health, Healthy Food

A Letter To The Restaurant Industry – From A “Picky” Eater

More than 50 million Americans have food allergies. Is it outrageous to suggest that restaurants should train their staff on food allergies and which menu items may contain certain ingredients? This job is not just about refilling someone’s water or placing an order. Having standards for your employees to know what is in the salad on the menu should be a given but unfortunately, most of the time the answer is “I don’t THINK there is dairy in it.” Why not train your staff to know what is in the food they serve? 

When a customer shits their brains out, gets a debilitating migraine, crashes for 4 solid hours and wakes up to the room spinning, breaks out in hives or whatever other awful things may happen after you collect their tip and they head home, they will never come to your restaurant again. They will associate their post meal reaction with your food and consider it poison. You are now officially blacklisted on one customer’s dining list. Maybe it is just one, no big deal! But I promise this number will grow.

We are not a bunch of picky asshole snobs. Guess what? We can actually see your judgemental face and hear your shit talking in the kitchen. Let me guess… “People who have restrictions should not go out to eat.”  Go fuck yourself! Are you seriously telling me that I have to forgo dinner with friends or the occasional date night or even the last minute takeout order after a long day because you can’t get your shit together? Welcome to the new age, buddy. People have allergies. It is not always a fad diet craze. When someone says no butter, for example, and you bring them their dish cooked in butter anyway, just realize that you could be seriously hurting that person. They may have to call into work the next day or spend the evening watching flashing lights as the room spins while day dreaming about drilling a hole in their skull to release pressure. 


It is your job. Take people’s requests seriously or change your job position to the dish pit or try retail if you can’t be open minded to the fact that allergies and food sensitivities exist. You are in the wrong industry if you are going to be an asshole about a food modification for someone’s dietary needs. 

Also, latex gloves. If you still carry latex at your restaurant, you should know that hospitals have banned latex years ago and you can find information here to educate yourself and staff on that. Latex is also a common allergy. If hospitals no longer use it, maybe it is time you consider switching. 

Perhaps you want to gain a few more customers? Make a small side menu for gluten free or dairy free items so that your food allergy customers can have an option besides a side of lettuce. They will tell all their friends and possibly specifically come to your restaurant because they feel like they are not being treated like garbage and will now keep you on the rotation. 


Thank you for taking the time to read this and I hope that you will think about not discriminating your next customer who has “annoying” special requests. Treating customers with great hospitality is your job and I hope the tips flow even better now that you are a little more informed on how to treat people and that for some people, dairy or wheat may not close up their throat but could make them feel like they got hit by a semi truck while being forced to trip on shrooms. 
*Celiac disease is an autoimmune disease where gluten damages the small intestines. For others, gluten may not be an allergy or have as severe reactions as Celiacs but can cause an autoimmune response as it is considered an inflammatory food. For others, dairy may not be a lactose intolerant issue but an actual allergy that can cause a number of issues. For me, it causes tachycardia, vertigo, nausea, joint pain, fatigue, brain fog and sometimes other cardiac issues. 

Health, Healthy Food

Nutrition In Healthcare 

Why do hospitals have prison grade nutrition for patients? Think about it. You are sick and vulnerable and trying to get healthy and they load you up with sugar, salts, preservatives and basically nothing of nutritional value. 


I am in the hospital today and have a dairy allergy and as usual get a tray full of dairy products. Sorry to be a pain, but most dairy gives me debilitating migraines with aura and a comatose crash for 3 hours. My body hates meat and makes my digestive system shut down. Sugar makes me sick and crash very hard and I already tend to run high on glucose levels. And coffee? I am here for tachycardia and arrhythmias so why would that even be a good idea? I also try to avoid gluten because it does not follow an anti inflammatory diet but I can’t imagine this hospital having those options. To most, I sound like a picky bitch. I have an autoimmune disease. I will have a flare up, tachycardia, migraines and nausea and joint pain. 

None of the food provided is nutritional and it is heartbreaking that sick people are not fed anything fresh, just boxed, frozen or canned garbage. I was asked if I wanted red jello for desert. How about fresh fruit? 

In all of the money made in healthcare, no one has ever decided to stand up and ask why we feed patients garbage? It is not even really a financial thing. I have mastered eating healthy on a budge and don’t spend any more than I would eating meat and dairy. It is this country’s lifestyle. We accept convenience over anything else. We are set in our ways. Everything they have told us must be true. 

Healthy Food, Sweet Tooth

Chia Pudding!

I have had chia seeds galore but did not know how to use them. Chia pudding sounded a little scary to me, for whatever reason. While browsing Instagram healthy food porn, I stumbled upon some delicious looking treats using chia pudding so I thought, why not give it a shot? And damn! It was super simple!

I poured two cups of Almond Breeze Unsweetened Vanilla almond milk, 1/2 cup of chia seeds, 2 tablespoons of carob powder, 1 teaspoon of macca root, and I also sprinkled in some flax seed and cinnamon. If you want it to be sweeter you can put some honey in the recipe or even drizzle it on top later.  Mix it all together, cover and set in the fridge overnight! 

I topped mine with raspberries and chocolate coconut chips. I am sold! What a great breakfast, snack or dessert.

Healthy Food, Sweet Tooth

Vegan Pistachio Ice Cream

I could not take it anymore! I miss ice cream and I refuse to eat any of the very few selections of dairy free ice cream available, because they are loaded with sugar. Well, guess what? I made my own!

My mom got me a $5 old school ice cream maker from the thrift store that was still in the plastic. I felt like my Easy Bake Oven childhood dreams had come true! In the blender, I poured in a can of coconut milk and about a half cup or so of almond milk. Maybe a cup and a half, actually…. my kitchen style is pretty similar to Thug Kitchen. Anyway, I got about 6 mejooled dates soaking in hot water, by the way. I sprink in a little macca root because I love the flavor and it is loaded with antioxidants. Who says icecream can’t be healthy(ish)? I also am soaking 1 cup of delicious pistachios. After you strain the pistachios, put half of them in the blender with the dates and set the other half aside. Oh! I also sprinkled a healthy teaspoon of carob powder too, because I love chocolate and this is caffeine free and also loaded with antioxidants. Blend! 

I like to taste the mix before I pour it in the ice cream mixer. You may want to put in a few more dates based on taste. Make sure it is to your preference. Chop up the other half of the pistachios and toss them in the mix and watch that glorious cream freeze. 

I sprinkled some low glycemic dark chocolate chunks on top and then died and when to heaven. You’re welcome.

Healthy Food

Sunday Brunch Favorites 

Sunday breakfast in bed is my favorite! It is the only day that we actually have time to make something fun, relax and enjoy it without rushing off to work. Today was an acai berry bowl with local honey and So Delicious coconut milk yogurt (only 1 gram of sugar!!) and lots of fresh fruits, sliced almonds, flax seed, granola, carob, cinnamon, chia seeds and chocolate coconut chips. Yum!