The Sensitive Celiac Does IFBC and El Dorado County

Why would I, the Sensitive Celiac, even bother to attend a food-oriented conference? Read how I plan and participate in my food event of the year. Photo by Imei Hsu, October 2017.

You, with your hand raised. Yes, you, the one who carries an EpiPen, inhaler, and has a butt load of food allergies, intolerances, Oral Allergy Syndrome, Outdoor Allergies, and an Autoimmune Disease. Uh huh. I see you.

I believe this is your question after I tell you that I had a wonderful time at the International Food Blogger Conference in Sacramento. Your question is: How do you do wine tasting and eating out in El Dorado County and have a good time? Aren’t you scared? Won’t you get sick?

In fact, how do you EVER enjoy the holidays, socialize with friends, and navigate food allergy and intolerance nightmares out there in the real world?

Great questions! Two answers: 1. Fantastic preparation, and 2. Great hosts and chefs who know their stuff.

If you don’t have BOTH of these components when you enter a food-oriented conference and food-oriented events, you won’t have the kind of experience I did in El Dorado County for a day of eating and drinking. In fact, without these two components, you wouldn’t have much fun in any food-related event, which is why I typically won’t attend food festivals where the quality and preparation of food is much harder to vett or control.

Read on for my experience as The Sensitive Celiac at the food blogger event of my year.

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Food Intolerance Haikus

sketch of milk carton with red circle and cross out.
Food allergies, intolerances, and food restrictions got you down? Yeah, me too! Here are some silly haikus to hopefully make you groan and then laugh. Photo image from Pixabay.

Food Intolerance Haikus

When I laugh, you would laugh too.  I’ve been told my laugh is more infectious than the Ebola virus and stomach flu, combined. One time, I made a tent full of people laugh so hard that people came running in to see what was going on. All they got to see was a Chinese woman squealing louder than a penguin being tickled.

In the world of food allergies, intolerances, autoimmune diseases, and chronic illnesses, food journalism is an understandably serious subject. I do not write nearly as often as I should or could, mostly because I spend a lot of time researching food subjects and “getting it right.” My readers deserve the best.

However, I thought it was time to also give you a little lightness and levity in the midst of all that seriousness. Why now? Because if I have to add the indignity of having had 21 days of runny, antibiotic-driven diarrhea post dog bite to the 2017 year, I might as well throw in there the bowel prep for a colonoscopy (wait for it) — three days before Thanksgiving Day. Nothing worse than clear liquid poo to make me want to crack a few jokes.

Yes, I chose this. It’s the right time, I’m due for a colonoscopy,  our insurance will cover most of the cost, and it is still magnesium citrate hell. Maybe I’ll get an IV chaser or two afterwards.

So for your reading pleasure, and for kicks and giggles, here are my lovingly crafted Food Intolerance Haikus (with references to autoimmune disease and my chronic illness, Medullary Sponge Kidney). I hope to add to these every year. Feel free to share with others who understand.

And yes, I  do know that food allergies, intolerances, Autoimmune Disease, and Chronic Illnesses, in themselves, are not funny. Adults and children suffer and some die from complications of these conditions. I am not making fun of them, but rather the eye-rolling situations many of us find ourselves in every day of the year as we manage to make food fun again.

As a reminder, I don’t edit for course language. It is what it is. Parental discretion is advised.

Carry on (and read more for the silly haikus).

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I Can Eat These

I Can Eat These | Food Allergies| Baked Goods

While eating chocolate cake isn’t associated with the food allergic and autoimmune disease lifestyle, we all know you are going to want to eat a piece of chocolate cake at some point in your journey. Liberated Foods might be part of your way to having your cake and eating it too. Photo provided by Estella Martinez.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The meal tray arrived off the cart as ordered: a plain, dried-out beef patty conspicuously missing an oily sheen of healthy fat, a plate of steamed broccoli, just barely tender from its hot sauna, and a 70’s style cassolette of plain brown rice.

I rolled my eyes. I  was now looking at  lunch and dinner meals for the next two, maybe three days, in this exact presentation. It was, after all, a hospital.  I might die from boring food rather than this infection in my leg.

If it wasn’t for some smart decision-making that led me to cook some Celiac-safe foods at home before I walked into the ER on a Saturday morning, I wouldn’t have had a cooler full of supplemental food my husband brought in. Separated from my kitchen, my Mission Control where I make my favorite foods and add special touches I can’t find in most restaurants, I was about to resign myself to plain meals without embellishment, dessert, or treats, when I remembered that I had someone to call.

I texted Estella Martinez of Liberated Foods. Her gluten free, dairy free, nut free tea cookies. I can eat these. I texted her, half hope and half desperation. And she responded!

Read on for why I can’t stop talking about Estella’s tea cookies and other allergen-free foods.

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The Sensitive Celiac Technical Baking Challenge

I am so excited about this, I could pee my pants (but I’m not going to!).

During my long rides on a Computrainer in our garage (affectionately named, The Cave of Suffering”), I compounded my miserable biking training sessions with the agony and ecstasy of watching multiple episodes of, The Great British Baking Show.

My friends rolled their eyes. How could I do this to myself? Isn’t it just torture to watch contestants making sugary, savory, creamy, gluten-filled pies, breads, and cakes, knowing that I would never be able to eat them?

Oh my Hungry Minions! There is always an idea waiting to be hatched whenever I am in my own mental trenches of gluten-free baking hell. My job was to focus on the “what” of an idea, and to understand that sometimes, I’m not the one who needs to figure out the “how.”

If two heads are better than one, I invite you to read on and participate in the “how” of this post: the first ever Sensitive Celiac (or Gluten Free Guru) Technical Bake Challenge!

On your marks… get set… bake!

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Why Attend IFBC 2017

Food Bloggers Conference

 

Disclosure : As an IFBC Citizen Blogger, I received a reduced conference rate in exchange for sharing three posts about my experience. This is the first of three. 

If it wasn’t for a little race called Ironman, I would have attended the International Food Blogger Conference (IFBC) 2016 conference, held in Sacramento, CA. But wait! What does an Ironman race have to do with interfering with plans to attend a food blogging conference?

Well, actually, Ironman training made a great many decisions for me in 2016, from what available time I had, who I socialized with,  how much and when to eat, and yes — even determining what conferences I could attend.

Last year, I spent 15-20 hours a week on top of my hours in the office as a private practice counselor, training for Ironman Mont-Tremblant. Every spare hour was spent in the pool or in the lake, riding my bike on a trainer or up and down hills, and running for hours. To do all those things, I also had to grocery shop, prep, and cook all my own meals and make my own race food.  Over time, my needs grew to the point that I could not eat outside my home, and could not spare even a day of food sensitivity by making inferior food choices. When the IFBC 2016 dates were announced, I realized they were just too close to the dates of my race, creating some risk for the Celiac athlete to try new food combinations or sample beverages. It didn’t make sense to put my race in jeopardy, so I took the conference off my plate (pun intended).

When I heard that the IFBC would return to Sacramento in 2017, my mind was made up: I would come back again. This was an exciting development, because I was really kicking myself for having missed the 2016 conference at that specific location.  This post is about why I’m attending IFBC 2017 as a “citizen blogger” for the second time. And it’s also about why you as a reader should care.

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Things You Should Never Say To A Person With Autoimmune Disease or Food Allergies

Autoimmune Disease | Chronic Illness | Invisible Illness | Etiquette

Things You Should Never Say to a Person With Autoimmune Disease or Serious Food Allergies

I’m going to skip past the customary introduction to the subject of autoimmune disease etiquette faux pas and allow your imagination to run wild. For the moment, let me just say that people say the dumbest things with the kindest intentions. Yes, they sometimes do.

I was on an airplane flight, and when the attendants began handing out snacks. As is my custom,  I politely returned mine with a, “I can’t have this, but thank you.” The attendant asked me if there was anything I could have from her snack cart, and I said, “I have Celiac Disease and a lot of food allergies, so if you have a gluten free snack, I could look at the ingredients to see if it’s safe for me.” She began to rummage through the options.

An older couple next to me overhead my response*, and the woman said to me, “Oh, I’m gluten free too! You should try their corn chips. They’re gluten free, you know.” I tried to explain to her that I couldn’t have those corn chips, because CORN (and the usual gastrointestinal HELL that is unleashed when I eat corn). Then her husband cut in, suggesting that I try flying to Europe sometime and eating their wheat, “Because this writer said that the wheat in Europe isn’t full of GMO’s and so we are safe to eat the gluten there.”

It took everything in me to not give them an eye-roll. Eye rolling is a sign of resentment, and yes, I have a number of things I feel resentful of in this life. Their momentary presence in my life is not one of them. But when I’m tired, I can feel my eyeballs start to move upwards, as if drawn by an irresistible force, and I have to just stop and breathe, emotionally lassoing my eyes to look straight ahead, soften my gaze, and relax my jaw from clenching.

On a good day, I can just listen and not react. On a stellar day, I can listen, not react, AND if I have the energy and the audience is listening, I can educate on the subject with a nearly unlimited amount of patience and understanding.

But on a day where I’m traveling, where there is nothing to eat, and the guy across the aisle is on his fourth beer and flinging  his gluten-laden snack and sandwich crumbs in at least two meters in all directions, I want to go off on a rant. A RANT, I say!

And so, you get to read my rant about the things you should never say to a person with Autoimmune Disease and multiple serious food allergies.

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Neutralizer Drops for Tummy Issues

Dropper bottle with label with golden brown liquid sitting on a desk.
4 ounce dropper bottle of Neutralizer for “Tummy Issues” compounded by Hidden Alchemist. Photo by Imei Hsu (Dec 2016)

How many times have you had one of these “tummy days”, when you’re even too tired or embarrassed to admit that you’ve been struggling with diarrhea, cramping, flatulence, and digestive problems?

Anyone who has mild to severe intolerances, a gastro-intestinal disorder (i.e.Crohn’s, IBD), or an Autoimmune Disease that creates a whole host of sensitivities and intolerances knows the painful reality of how many hours and days we lose in a battle against “Tummy issues”.

The reality of living with these symptoms often enough that you can no longer call them occasional should have you thinking that the best remedies aren’t always grabbing a bottle of Imodium. So what is a food-sensitive person to do?

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