Posts filed under ‘Kristin’

A Gluten-Free Holiday Treat, No Baking Required

I’m always prepared to bring an appetizer, salad or main dish to social gatherings and holiday functions. Like many with celiac disease, I quickly learned that if I wanted to eat a safe gluten-free meal, it was up to me to tote along at least one item I knew I could eat.

But dessert? Despite my sweet tooth, more often than not I have opted to forgo dessert simply because baking and I are not friends. So fruit has served as my go-to pick, and the nutritional benefits are always a plus. Alas, sometimes a fruit salad, no matter how fresh the ingredients, just won’t cut it. This Christmas, I wanted to join my family at the dessert table with something more substantial than pineapple and berries, even if topped with whipped cream.

Enter these no-bake coconut balls.

Gluten-Free No Bake Coconut Balls

Gluten-Free No Bake Coconut Balls

I’m sure you can guess that a recipe with minimal ingredients and without an actual “baking” process were both requirements. Fortunately, I stumbled across this simple recipe while performing the perfunctory Google search: No Bake Coconut Balls

The recipe called for nut butter plus chocolate chips or nuts of your choosing, but I opted for a combination of the two. My secret ingredient? Justin’s Nut Butter. This brand has been a pantry staple of mine for the past 2 years so I knew that their Chocolate Peanut Butter flavor was delicious. (If you are not already familiar with their line of nut butters, please head to your local grocery store immediately).

Making Gluten-Free Coconut Balls

All you need for a delicious gluten-free dessert.

Not only did they fulfill my sweet tooth, but my family was impressed too. Who said you need flour to “bake” Christmas cookies?

– Kristin

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December 27, 2011 at 2:26 pm Leave a comment

Beer, Burgers and Bok Choy: Gluten-Free at Friedman’s Lunch

Last month, I took a few days off from the NFCA office and made the short trip to New York City to visit one of my very dear friends from college who was stateside from her time as a Peace Corps volunteer in Ukraine. Aside from having some good old-fashioned girl time with one of my best friends, I had been looking forward to exploring the gluten-free options in NYC, too.

Even though Manhattan is a quick 90-minute drive from Philly, I don’t visit nearly as often as I would like. This time around, I had the good fortune of squeezing in Friedman’s Lunch (located inside of Chelsea Market) twice in my 3-day visit.

I had wanted to check out Friedman’s Lunch ever since I tried Feel Good Foods gluten-free dumplings. The product was launched earlier this year by Vanessa Phillips and Tryg Siverson, who owned Friedman’s Lunch at the time.

My first Friedman’s experience included their brown rice bowl (I love Japanese eggplant and bok choy, which has become a staple in my fridge as of late) and Estrella Damm Daura, the gluten-free beer from Barcelona, Spain. Between seeing my friend Anna for the first time in over a year to sipping on Daura for the first time, I was in heaven!

Estrella Damm Daura

The "World's Best Gluten-Free Beer"

I know that members of the celiac community have been wary of Daura since it’s made with barley malt, yet falls below 6 ppm. Well, as a very sensitive celiac, I managed just fine. And with Daura winning the “World’s Best Gluten-Free Beer” for the second year running in 2011, I don’t think I need to explain just how much I enjoyed the beer. (As it turns out, I learned that Philadelphia’s 10 Arts Bistro & Lounge just started carrying Daura, so now I know where to go for a local brew).

Two days later, we returned to Friedman’s and despite a line out the door, we were seated within minutes. (Very friendly staff!) I had wavered between a sandwich and the brown rice bowl earlier in the week. I decided that since eating a safe gluten-free sandwich out at a restaurant is such a rare menu option, I would try the cheeseburger. And because French fries are not always prepared in a safe fryer, I decided to go all out and splurge on the calories.

If you didn’t think my Wednesday lunch could be topped, think again: this was the first time I was eating a gluten-free cheeseburger out at a restaurant since being diagnosed more than 4 years ago. Even though I was full about halfway in (check out the pic below – the burger and Katz bun are huge!), I kept going. How could I not?

Gluten-Free Burger at Friedman's Lunch

My first gluten-free cheeseburger at a restaurant!

A very big thanks to the staff at Friedman’s Lunch. Your gluten-free menu options made my week! A special thanks to Vanessa and Tryg, too, for pioneering those options. Good luck as you take the gluten-free world by storm!

– Kristin

November 11, 2011 at 12:29 pm Leave a comment

“The Great Explainer” of Celiac and Gluten-Free Information

NFCA Healthcare Relations Manager Kristin Voorhees is featured in the Fall 2011 cover story in Expression, Emerson College’s alumni magazine. The article, titled “The Great Explainers” puts celiac disease – and Kristin’s work to clear up misconceptions – at the forefront.

Expression Magazine

NFCA's Kristin Voorhees is part of this cover story!

The story addresses a key problem in celiac awareness: while attention to celiac and the gluten-free diet has increased, so has the threat of misinformation.

“A deluge of information does not guarantee… that the messages the public receives about gluten-free foods are accurate or that individuals know how to make the best food choices,” the article notes.

That’s where Kristin comes in, to “separate the wheat from the chaff,” as the writer puts it.

The staff is thrilled to see Kristin recognized for her important work at NFCA, and for bringing celiac awareness to her fellow alumni! We encourage everyone in the celiac and gluten-free community to share this article and encourage their friends to get the facts straight about gluten-free.

Read the article: The Great Explainers (cover story on page 19; sidebar on page 23).

November 3, 2011 at 1:21 pm Leave a comment

Guest Post: Dr. Jonas Ludvigsson Summarizes the UEGW Celiac Disease Interest Group Meeting

A few weeks ago, Kristin (NFCA’s Healthcare Relations Manager) received an email about the United European Gastroenterology Week (UEGW) Interest Group Meeting on Celiac Disease, held in Stockholm, Sweden on Oct. 23, 2011. While Kristin wasn’t able to hop a flight to attend, she asked celiac expert Jonas F. Ludvigsson, MD, PhD, of the Department of Pediatrics, Örebro University Hospital, Örebro, Sweden, to share his thoughts from the meeting. Here’s what Dr. Ludvigsson had to say:

This year’s celiac disease group meeting had the title “Quantifying the frequency and consequences of coeliac disease: perspectives from coeliac disease and related areas.” The meeting was chaired by Chris Mulder and Jonas F. Ludvigsson.

Tim Card, Nottingham, was the first speaker and had been given the task to review the prevalences of GI diseases in Europe. He did, however, start out with a slide showing Robin Hood! Tim Card noted that the celiac disease prevalence is difficult to estimate since it is dependent on the definition of celiac disease. The celiac disease definition has changed over time, and in general the prevalence is highest in studies where only antibody positivity is required for diagnosis, while histology gives you intermediate prevalences; and clinically diagnosed celiac disease gives you the lowest prevalence.(1)

Card commented on the Mustahlati study(2) and during the celiac disease interest group meeting there was some discussion regarding geographical differences in celiac disease. Mulder pointed out that many cases of tropical sprue in India are actually celiac disease.

Dr. Jonas Ludvigsson

Dr. Jonas Ludvigsson

In contrast to celiac disease, the definition of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) has been fairly constant over time, which makes the prevalence much easier to follow over time. Of note, Tim Card showed that data on prevalence and incidence could be used to calculate the duration of IBD in a patient (patients may die). He also estimated that about 1/3 of all ulcerative colitis patients are unknown to British health care.

I talked about shared risk factors in celiac disease with regards to selected complications, but I let myself stray into related areas as well, and talked about mechanisms behind complications in celiac disease. Most emphasis was placed on malabsorption of nutrients (vitamin D deficiency may explain the increased risk of asthma(3) and tuberculosis(4) in celiac disease; folic acid deficiency the increased risk of unipolar depression(5); while sometimes celiac disease complications per se lead to malabsorption (e.g. pancreatic insufficiency in celiac disease (6; 7))).

We also discussed the role of inflammation in celiac disease (8;9) and how this might influence the risk of complications(10-12). Finally, I mentioned shared genetic risk factors(13;14), which may explain the 2-3-fold increased risk of future type 1 diabetes seen in celiac disease.

After this talk, we discussed breastfeeding in celiac disease and that recent data have been contradicting regarding the role of breastfeeding. For instance, the German group Decker et al found an increased risk of future celiac disease in
children with long breastfeeding duration(15); while Welander et al found no association between breastfeeding and future celiac disease (16).


Stockholm, Sweden

Steffen Husby talked about the link between celiac disease and type 1 diabetes (T1D). He mentioned the underlying shared genetics (DQ2/DQ8) and pointed out that there have been several publications suggesting that certain mutations (SNPs) are shared in T1DM and celiac disease (17).

In a Danish study from 2006, Hansen et al found an overall prevalence of T1D of 12.3% (18). Also Hungarian researchers have found very high prevalences of celiac in T1D patients (8.3%) (19). Patients with T1D and celiac disease have lower weight and height than non-celiac T1D patients. They more often suffered from arthralgia, loose stools, iron deficiency anaemia and abdominal pain. Untreated celiac disease resulted in lower BMI, but also lower HbA1C(!). Treatment with a gluten-free diet then led to a recovery of BMI, but also increased insulin requirements (20).

The recent paper by the Sheffield group (21), showed higher rates of advanced retinopathy 58% vs. 25%, and nephropathy 42% vs. 4% in patients with T1D and celiac disease vs. those who only had T1D. Patients with both diseases also had lower cholesterol. It seems that patients with both diseases have an increased intimal media thickness with implications for atherosclerosis (22). Husby also reviewed the evidence of other autoimmune diseases in patients with celiac disease and a gluten-free diet (23).

Cosnes et al have found that patients with a gluten-free diet were at a lower risk of other autoimmune diseases than those on a gluten-containing diet; and the potential role of gluten-free diet in T1D (24).

Joe West, Nottingham, had been asked to talk about cardiovascular disease in celiac disease. He began his lecture by listing modifiable risk factors for cardiovascular disease (smoking, cholesterol, diabetes, high blood pressure, BMI, homocysteine, etc). He then underlined that the risk of cardiovascular disease does not seem to be increased in undiagnosed celiac disease (25), but rather decreased (26).

During the meeting, we had a discussion about the slight discrepancy in cardiovascular results in Swedish data (small increased risk (11)) and British data (potentially a small decrease (27)). As Joe West pointed out, the results are not really contradicting since confidence intervals overlap. Among reasons for a potential discrepancy are 1) different socioeconomic characteristics of celiac disease patients in Sweden and Britain, 2) different smoking patterns; and perhaps 3) different BMI/risk of underweight in celiac disease patients.

Dr Fabiana Zingone, Naples, reviewed the literature around infectious diseases in celiac disease. Swedish cause-of-death data have shown an increased risk of dying from infections (28). The increased risk of infection has since been confirmed for tuberculosis (4; 29; 30), pneumococcal infections (31; 32), and influenza (33).

The increased risk of pneumococcal infections may be due to hyposplenism (34; 35). Hyposplenism is associated with fewer IgM memory B-cells that are important in the defence against encapsulated bacteria. Zingone also commented on pneumococcal vaccination in celiac disease. A British study recently suggested that the frequency of deaths from pneumonia in celiac disease is an argument to vaccinate against pneumococci (36).

Celiac disease patients may also be at increased risk of Helicobacter pylori infections (37). Park et al, as well as Zingone herself, have shown that celiac patients have a defective response to the Hepatitis vaccine (38; 39).

Finally, Luisa Mearin, the Netherlands, talked about quality of life (QoL) in celiac disease. Unfortunately, I had some problems with my computer during this last lecture, so I took fewer notes. Mearin stated that parents usually think that the quality of life is lower in their celiac children than the children themselves think! It seems that the QoL is not influenced by compliance, but by the perceived degree of difficulty.

We also discussed if/how the celiac disease diagnosis in someone with few symptoms can have a negative effect on quality of life. At the same time, a study by van Koppen et al found a good quality of life in children whose celiac disease was detected through mass screening (40).

– Jonas F. Ludvigsson, MD, PhD

Download the list of references for this article.

November 1, 2011 at 4:05 pm 3 comments

Essential Health Benefits: Earning Celiac Disease Treatment a Spot

Last Thursday, October 20, I had the privilege of speaking at the US Department of Health and Human Services’ Essential Health Benefits Comment Session in Washington, DC. Many of you may be familiar with the Affordable Care Act, the health insurance reform legislation President Obama signed into law on March 23, 2010, which ensures that Americans have access to quality, affordable health insurance. This Act mandates that plans offered in the new Affordable Insurance Exchanges provide a package of essential health benefits (EHB).

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is in charge of defining the EHB. To assist in this process, HHS asked the Institute of Medicine (IOM) to make recommendations on the criteria and methods for defining and updating the EHB. The HHS also reviewed benefits currently included in typical employer plans as part of the process in defining the EHB.

Now that the IOM has completed its report and HHS has finished its review of typical employer plans,the Department announced that it was ready to hear from the stakeholders. To name just a few, the stakeholders include States, patients, providers, and employers.

I joined other consumer advocates at Thursday’s comments session. The advocacy groups’ interests ranged from obesity to HIV/AIDS to diabetes to teen pregnancy to eating disorders. Although it was very last minute (NFCA was invited Tuesday afternoon!), it was a great opportunity and I was excited to represent NFCA at such an important public stakeholders meeting.

Please check out the attached PDF to read NFCA’s official submitted comments.

NFCA Comments on Essential Health Benefits
NFCA’s Official Comments

NFCA Comments on Essential Health Benefits (PDF)

We hope that HHS takes our recommendations into consideration as they go forward in defining the EHB. As NFCA Scientific/Medical Advisory Board member Dr. Dan Leffler put it, such an achievement is on his “celiac wish list.”


October 24, 2011 at 10:14 am Leave a comment

Gluten-Free, Research-Full: Celiac Disease Updates from Oslo

While Alice had secured her participation in the 14th International Coeliac Disease Symposium (ICDS) earlier this winter, it wasn’t until just one month before ICDS that it was decided I would be attending as well. Once I got the green light to book all the necessary details, I was beyond thrilled to join the 500 plus people expected to attend ICDS in Oslo, the capital city of Norway, which is home to 17-18 hours of daylight during the summer months.

On Friday, June 18, Alice and I began our journey abroad. After a three-hour delay on the runway thanks to heavy rain, thunder and lightening and, as a result, a missed connecting flight in Frankfurt, I arrived in Oslo 30 hours later. (A big thanks to Lufthansa for a delicious gluten-free meal and plenty of safe snacks!)

While the official presentations weren’t set to begin until the morning of Monday, June 20, Alice and I arrived in time to attend a special presentation on gluten sensitivity (GS) Sunday evening. ICDS 2011 started out strong with a pre-conference workshop on gluten sensitivity sponsored by Dr. Schar, the European market leader in gluten-free. Alessio Fasano, MD, and David Sanders, MD, led the 2-hour workshop on the emerging condition. (More on this later).

To break it down for those who were unable to participate, ICDS 2011 was divided into two parallel meetings: the International Symposium and the Clinical Forum. The Symposium served as a platform for the field’s top physicians and investigators to present “state of the art” celiac disease research, and the Forum provided an opportunity for patients, families of persons with celiac disease and healthcare professionals to learn the real-life impacts of the latest research in jargon-free language.

Over the course of 3 days, ICDS presented a total of 17 sessions, with much of the content overlapping between the two meetings in an effort to ensure the patient community received the best information. The Symposium lasted the full 3 days, while the Forum took place on Monday and Tuesday.

As is the case with conferences like ICDS, Alice and I found some presentations to be more intriguing than others. And since many sessions had overlapping elements, I thought the best way to share our experience with the community was to outline five recurring themes from ICDS 2011.

Dr. Michelle Pietzak

NFCA Medical Advisory Board member Dr. Michelle Pietzak enjoys a boat trip during ICDS 2011

1. Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity/Gluten Intolerance

The medical and scientific community has long agreed that celiac disease is an autoimmune condition triggered by the consumption of gluten. In recent years, the term “gluten sensitivity” has been coined to describe those individuals who also cannot tolerate gluten and at times experience gastrointestinal symptoms similar to those with celiac disease. Gluten sensitivity has been clinically recognized as less severe than celiac, and has been defined as “not accompanied by the concurrence of tTG or autoimmune comordibities.”

It was very exciting to see this topic receive a great deal of attention between Dr. Schar’s pre-symposium conference with Doctors Fasano and Sanders and a 1 1/2 hour oral seminar during Tuesday’s International Symposium. Doctors Fasano and Sanders discussed the following key points about non-celiac gluten sensitivity:

  • Gut inflammation is not present, which is unlike celiac disease.
  • There is no diagnostic tool for non-celiac GS.
  • Prevalence in University of Maryland’s Center for Celiac Disease Research ’s
    practice is estimated to be 1 in 17 (6%).
  • Dr. Fasano explained that in order to diagnose a person with non-celiac GS, his Center uses a double blind gluten-free diet intervention lasting for 3 weeks.

Dr. Schar shared the success of their First Consensus Conference on Gluten Sensitivity held in London earlier this year, and also announced the establishment of the Dr. Schar Institute, which is a new point of reference for medical and healthcare professionals in the areas of celiac, gluten sensitivity and gluten-related disorders in general. All in all, it was great to see that the research field is catching up to the publicity of the non-celiac version.

Despite the agreement that a non-celiac version of a gluten-related disorder exists, it is clear that the medical community lacks consensus on the spectrum and terminology for this field. Perhaps the best example is this: the pre-conference workshop used the term “gluten sensitivity” while the ICDS session was entitled “non-celiac gluten intolerance.”

Alice at ICDS 2011

Great photo of Alice (left) at ICDS 2011! Courtesy of Jonas Meek and ICDS 2011 Local Organising Committee.

2. Strong Need to Develop Adequate Programs for Follow-up and Management

Dan Leffler, MD, MS, Director of Clinical Research from BIDMC and NFCA Scientific/Medical Advisory Board member, gave the opening lecture for Wednesday’s session on Clinical Presentation, Follow up and Imaging. Dr. Leffler began his talk by noting that original faith in the gluten-free diet halted research on therapeutic treatments. As he went on to recognize that lifelong adherence to the gluten-free diet ranges 40-75% (yes, a huge range!), my mind wandered to those whose compliance is so varied. Were these people without symptoms, thus not seeing the immediate need for the diet? Or individuals who could not afford the hefty grocery bill that comes with the diagnosis?

Combined with the fact that the blood tests are poor measures of the diet’s success, it’s evident that a better model of disease management be implemented among the celiac population. And Dr. Leffler’s call for the medical community to develop disease management guidelines couldn’t have been clearer. With its disease-related health no different than diabetes or inflammatory bowel disease, two conditions that have management protocols in place, it’s time for celiac to step up to the plate.

A final comment from an audience member led to the conclusion that education among primary care providers is still sorely needed, for both the diagnosis and management of celiac disease. In fact, ICDS attendees from across the world agreed: the lack of awareness and education among primary care physicians is what keeps millions of celiac sufferers in the dark and untreated for so long. [NFCA offers a first-of-its-kind continuing medical education (CME) program for primary care providers at Learn how you can encourage your doctor to complete this free online course.]

3. Epidemiology

Some of you may be familiar with the Swedish Epidemic, which occurred from 1973 to 1997 when there was a fourfold increase in symptomatic celiac in children younger than 2 years old. Anneli Ivarsson, MD, PhD, of Umea University and the Prevent Coeliac Disease initiative (and author of the just published study on the global mortality of undiagnosed celiac disease in children). For those who are not familiar with the Swedish Epidemic, here’s the background:

Before the Epidemic, a national recommendation was made to postpone introduction of gluten from 4 to 6 months of age, an interval during which breast-feeding was at large discontinued in the country as well. As a result, the National Swedish Guidelines for infant feeding practices were updated to the following: Babies should be breastfed for 4-6 months while avoiding gluten-containing foods before 4 months. Gluten should be introduced between the 4 and 6 month window, while still breastfeeding.

Dr. Ivarsson noted that in 1995 the disease’s prevalence returned to its original risk, which strongly suggested that prevention is possible. Today, it is estimated that 1 child in every Swedish class has celiac, with the majority undiagnosed. Talk about a resonating statistic!

In addition to the prevalence of celiac disease, the Epidemiology session included presentations on prevention strategies, such as breastfeeding and dietary intervention. One particular highlight was the overview of Prevent Coeliac Disease (CD), a multicenter initiative in 10 European countries whose objective is to “significantly reduce the number of people suffering from celiac disease in Europe, by developing primary prevention strategies for celiac disease.” To learn more about Prevent CD, check out their website.

I couldn’t fit all the information into one post, so stay tuned for the next installment of my ICDS coverage. On the agenda: Personalized Medicine, Quality of Life, and more!

See more photos in the official ICDS 2011 album.

August 5, 2011 at 8:50 am 2 comments

Celiac Disease, Functional Medicine, and an Event For All

I shuffled between five physicians (a mix of general practitioners and gastroenterologists) over the course of 4 1/2 years on my path to identifying the root cause of my fatigue and digestive distress. During this stretch of time, I left each doctor’s appointment feeling, for lack of a better word, compartmentalized. Each physician focused solely on my abdominal pain and discomfort, and couldn’t seem to connect all of the dots.

Celiac Disease Symptoms Checklist

NFCAs Celiac Symptoms Checklist - Helping others find the cause!

After a revolving cycle of trial diets, medical tests and procedures, and still no diagnosis, I began to sort my days by how well I could manage my symptoms. How close to a bathroom do I need to be? Do I have enough energy to do this? Should I be wearing a loose-fitting shirt today? (No joke! My stomach would stay distended for days).

It became increasingly clear that my providers were treating my symptoms rather than the actual root cause of my symptoms.  Once I was diagnosed with celiac disease, I realized just how fitting this description truly was. Sure, my energy skyrocketed after I eliminated gluten from my lifestyle, but what I found most fascinating was that my gut was healing simultaneously.

One day, early in the game of getting to know the gluten-free diet, I stumbled upon functional medicine, an approach defined as: “personalized medicine that deals with primary prevention and underlying causes instead of symptoms for serious chronic disease.”

The idea of using the “patient’s story as a key tool” really spoke to me. I quickly became engrossed in reading anything I could get my hands on that discussed this patient-centered, whole-systems approach, and I have since remained just as interested.Should You Be Gluten-Free? Event

So you can imagine my excitement when Alice and I were introduced to Jill Shah, Founder and CEO of Jill’s List. An online directory, Jill’s List enables the health and wellness community to access the growing network of patients, practitioners and organizations in the field of Comprehensive Medicine. Read a Q&A about Jill’s List in NFCA’s April e-newsletter »

Our first phone call quickly turned into a brainstorm session of how Jill’s List and NFCA could work together, and in the weeks that followed, we put our ideas to paper.

The result: Should You Be Gluten-Free?, a live Q&A with celiac and gluten-free experts Dr. Mark Hyman, NY Times Best Selling Author and family physician; Jill Brack, Founder of Glow Gluten-Free Cookies; and Alice Bast, Founder and President of NFCA.

Join us on Wednesday, May 11th at 1pm EST as Jill Shah moderates a 60-minute discussion with these three panelists.All of us at NFCA are thrilled to have celiac disease, gluten sensitivity and gluten-free at the center of what is sure to be a dynamic panel discussion.

With Jill’s List focusing on the “least invasive (yet effective) treatments for health conditions,” I couldn’t think of a better topic to join this repertoire of resources.

*To learn more about this event, see the listing in NFCA’s Upcoming Events»


April 15, 2011 at 1:38 pm Leave a comment

Making “Small Changes” in Health and Wellness

Just 2 weeks after signing up for the Philadelphia Blue Cross Broad Street Run, one of the largest ten-mile road races in the U.S., I began the month of February ready to start logging miles on the treadmill.

My schedule, however, had a different game plan. The short month became filled with lunch meetings, late nights at the office and weekend trips back home. The next thing I knew my after work and weekend trips to the gym were sidelined. And that’s not even mentioning my birthday celebrations (gluten-free carrot cake, anyone?). So with a sweet tooth that kicks in every now and then and my gym trips dropping off, my usual healthy habits seemed to fly right out of the window.

Alice and Kristin in DC

Busy, busy! Alice and I during our trip to Capitol Hill.

Fortunately I knew where to look for help. One of the things I enjoy most about my job here at NFCA are the opportunities to meet with a wide variety of healthcare professionals, including dietitians, physicians, naturopaths and even physical therapists.

About 2 months ago, I had the pleasure of meeting Keri Gans, MS, RD, CON, via phone one Friday afternoon. (If you don’t already follow Keri on Twitter, I suggest you start. She tweets around the clock and always has a fun fact or tidbit to share. Check her out: @kerigans). We chatted about nutrition, both gluten-free and mainstream, and a week later I had a preview copy of her upcoming book, The Small Change Diet: 10 Steps to a Thinner, Healthier You, waiting for me on my desk.

Small Change Diet

Keri's book is all about making "small changes."

After flipping through Keri’s new book, two chapters in particular caught my eye.

  • Small Change 8: Tame Your Sweet Tooth and Your Salt Shaker
  • Small Change 10: Get Moving

Keri shares research-based tips and advice in each chapter, complete with situational Q&A to challenge the daily, common concerns we all have regarding diet and exercise (kind of like NFCA’s Ask the Dietitian blog). Here are three bits of advice from Chapters 8 and 10 that hit home for me.  See my full review of Keri’s book on NFCA’s product review site,

Small Change 8: Tame Your Sweet Tooth and Your Salt Shaker

Common Concern: “I can’t kick my cravings no matter how hard I try. I think I’m addicted to sugar.”

I’ve always had a soft spot for ice cream, rice pudding, and any coconut-type dessert. Fortunately, I’ve also always been active so too much of something has never been a problem. But when your hand begins to reach for the candy bowl that sits on a coworker’s desk (thanks, Whitney) a few times a week, and sometimes more than once a day, you know you’re in trouble. With a little extra push from Keri, I’ve re-introduced apples, baby-carrots and grapefruit as my mid-day snacks.

Common Concern: “I’ve been under so much stress lately. I deserve a little reward.”

I’ve already admitted that my sweet tooth has been known to get the best of me, but I haven’t mentioned that at times I have followed the “you deserve it” method. It’s easy to use this excuse when things get busy and you’re coming to the office early but still leaving late. But it’s time we all take Keri’s advice: “Food is not a reward. I repeat: Food is not a reward.”

Small Change 10: Get Moving

Keri opens Chapter 10 with: “It’s been said that exercise is like a savings account: The more you put in, the more you get back – with interest.”

Within the last 2 weeks, this line alone has pushed me to pack my gym bag in the morning, walk through the gym doors after work, and schedule time to run on the weekends. It can be easy to let the ball drop after a few weeks veering off course, but when you already know what results you can expect, taking the initiative becomes a lot easier.

What “small changes” will you make this weekend?


March 11, 2011 at 11:51 am 1 comment

“Sex and the Celiac” Meets Real Life

In keeping up with the love and sex theme of February, I have a story to share. Yes, it involves celiac disease and don’t worry, it’s PG!

While out on the town earlier this month, I began chatting with a guy who at one point asked what I do for a living. When I mentioned the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness (NFCA), he smiled and said, “Yea, I have a friend on a gluten-free diet.”

I asked whether the person was diagnosed with celiac disease. He answered no, but proceeded to narrate perhaps the best gluten-free story I have heard in a while (or possibly ever).

It turns out that his friend on a gluten-free diet is a 24-year-old male who experienced digestive problems, including constipation, diarrhea and bloating. Consequently, he noticed his libido was lacking, and his performance in the bedroom was subpar. He remembered reading somewhere that the gluten-free diet had a reputation for alleviating such digestive symptoms, and decided to try it out.

The result? A symptom-free male who could return to the bedroom.

As I’m sure you can imagine, I couldn’t believe what I was hearing.Sex and the Celiac

The timing of this conversation was impeccable, as NFCA was just putting the finishing touches on Sex and the Celiac: The Movie. What a coincidence!

If you haven’t watched the video yet, I highly recommend it.  (A big thanks to our buddies at imc2 for the awesome graphic!) The scenarios in the video are hypothetical, but as my chance encounter proves, they happen in real-life, too.

Do you know someone whose sex drive suffered due to celiac disease? Let’s hear about it! (PG rating appreciated.)


February 9, 2011 at 2:41 pm 4 comments

Keep Health in Mind

New Year’s resolutions have never really been my thing. I believe that the common resolves of exercising and eating healthy should serve as the foundation of a balanced lifestyle which is why I actively maintain such behaviors. Sure, I indulge in a gluten-free treat when the craving arises (a thumbprint cookie from Sweet Freedom Bakery anyone?) and skip the gym in favor of the latest Women’s Health and my couch when an afternoon meeting runs well past 5 o’clock.  But when it comes down to it, I make a nutritious meal and a sweat session on the treadmill a priority.

So I surprised myself this January when I vowed to make a commitment of change like so many other Americans do. As someone whose family has always joked has “ants in her pants,” you can imagine that I have a hard time doing nothing, letting my mind rest and just being. To be honest, I feel guilty if I’m not busy. Whether it is for work or pleasure, I enjoy always having something to do or something to think about. But lately I was letting my thoughts run wild more than usual and I decided enough was enough. I resolved that 2011 would be my year of mindfulness. I would learn how to observe my thoughts and control the process rather than letting my thoughts control me. I would become more aware of the present moment and actively participate in the dynamic between my emotions, thoughts and actions.

Of course, this all sounds very nice but the million-dollar question was: “How am I going to do this?” A week after dusting off my yoga mat and buying a new journal, I found myself frustrated and, if anything, less mindful than when I started.

When I shared my sense of defeat with a friend, she replied, “Well, it sounds like you’re trying to learn something all over again. These types of things never happen overnight.” Her perspective piqued my interest. I jogged my memory to think back to the last time I had “started from scratch.” Aha! How had I not thought of the obvious before?

Going gluten-free involves deciphering every food label and becoming more aware of every morsel ingested and every beverage sipped. I don’t think I’m alone when I say that I felt as if I spent the first several months after being diagnosed with celiac wearing a magnifying glass around my neck. Adjusting to a gluten-free lifestyle required acceptance (is this really happening to me?), patience (what happened to a quick trip to the grocery store?) and mindfulness (what are the ingredients?).

I smiled and let out a small sigh. I had been forced to alter my entire relationship with food within minutes of my doctor telling me to “go gluten-free.” Surely I could learn how to quiet my mind and regain control of my thoughts over the course of a year.


January 21, 2011 at 5:06 pm 2 comments

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