Thursday 25 July 2013

Bad Belly Bloat

By now, I'm sure you're all used to how terrible I am at posting regularly. I'm sorry about that; sometimes I just don't want to talk about what's going on (then why have a blog? I know, I know!) and other times, after working all day online, I can't do any more computer time. Working online is awesome, but it still has its drawbacks.

Yesterday, out of basically nowhere, I was hit with a case of the Bad Belly Bloat. Endosisters, you know what I'm talking about: You suddenly look 4 months pregnant, everything hurts, and there's enough gas in you to fill a hot air balloon. Ugh.

My theory behind this BBB is threefold:

1. Stress! When I get stressed, I tend to stop eating. The exception to this rule, somehow is sugar. I don't usually eat a ton of sugar, but when I get stressed, BRING IT. Sugar is a no-no on the Endo Diet, so I am full-on confessing to mucking up on that front.

2. Menstrual Anticipation. I used to go 9-12 weeks without a period, thanks to continuous birth control. It got me through university, that's for sure. However, the older I get, the less happy my body is about this system. I cut back from 9-12 to just 9, then 7, now 6 weeks - and sometimes 6 weeks still feels too long. I know medically you actually don't "need" a period, but it's like if my body goes too long without one, I start to suffer - unfortunate, if you consider how I begin to suffer once my period starts. *facepalm* Menstural week is still a few days away (I'm still on my pill) but I guess that doesn't matter!

3. My uterus and its friends are jerks. Ok, that one is less scientific and more just me being in a bitter mood today, but come on - why get a case of BBB the same week my wedding gown finally arrives? I'm refusing to try it on until this goes away. There is no way I want a mental image of myself, in my gorgeous, vintage-themed ivory wedding dress, looking like a stuffed sausage. Not happening.

I had a lovely chat with an Endosister today, the lovely Bern Bingham (@KnockOutEndo). She too suffers from bowel/gastro-related endo issues, and here are some tips we discussed:

1. Stretch! Sometimes a good, gentle stretch can really help get the gas out and sort out those adhesions. I like to stretch on my back over my yoga ball. Today this didn't really help much, but it has in the past. (One of the joys of Endo - no predictability!)

2. Hydrate! I've said it before, and I'll say it again: WATER WATER WATER. It helps flush out the system, and I find it really helpful to reduce some of the bloating. Be careful not to drink too much water, or you can end up with a sodium imbalance, which is a serious medical situation (potentially fatal). Just make sure to keep the water going if you find it helps you.

3. Say no to caffeine! Caffeine is also a no-no on the Endo Diet, so this shouldn't be news to anyone. The exception for me, as directed by my doctor, is apples: Apples contain a natural form of caffeine, but they do not seem to have the same effect on the body as other caffeine sources (coffee, tea, pop, etc). I eat an apple every day, or at least every other day.

If you're unlucky enough to suffer from Bad Belly Bloat, my heart goes out to you. The Endo journey is a difficult one. Stay strong!

With peace & joy,

Monday 17 June 2013

The Little Things

Hello lovelies,

After a rough few days, physically and emotionally, I've been thinking today about the things that make it all bearable. Sometimes it's not that I need everything to be magically perfect (though that would be nice), but just enough that I can at least get through my day with some patience, strength, positivity, and dignity. Some things, though not "medicinal" in the typical sense of the word, seem to make it all better. Here's my list:

1. Good Perfume. Everyone's opinion of what consititutes "good" perfume will vary, but for me, "good" perfume is excellent quality, not too flowery, not too musky, and nothing that will skunk in too short a time. My personal favourites include Burberry Touch, Chanel Chance Fraiche, and Lalique original. (Anyone who has seen my vanity table can attest to what can only be described as a "serious perfume problem." Sigh.)

As an aside, I do find that perfumes with a good vanilla note seem to settle my stomach on those lovely nausea-inducing endo days. I heartily recommend Burberry Brit for this.

2. ManicureI actually don't enjoy trips to the spa. I know, I know, there's something wrong with me - I just find them to be a bit impersonal, kind of busy, and just generally not a pleasant experience. The exception to the "no spa" rule for me is the Bayview Village Spa at Bayview Village Mall, but since I definitely can't afford that too often, that's more of a special occasion outing.

However, there is something to be said for having well-manicured nails. I don't know if it's the simplicity of the actual action itself, or something else, but I find the process of doing my nails to be calming and a bit cheering. I did mine last night, and while I still don't feel super-great, it did cheer me up and give me something else to focus on besides pain and blahness.

3. Hot Tea
I love tea. I love it so much that I have a hutch full of cups & saucers, and two shelves of tea. (The less said about the number of tea pots the better!) The smell of it brewing, the tangy, biting first sip, the warmth settling in my body ... what's not to love about a good, hot cup of tea? (Emphasis on "good" - oily, gross tea is not allowed in my house, thank you very much.)

My personal favourites include: Tetley's Orange Pekoe, Barry's Irish Blend, David's Nettle Tea (excellent for menstrual cramps!), David's Organic Peppermint (excellent for nausea!), and anybody's Irish Breakfast. To each their own, but I stick to either caffeine-free or very, very low levels of caffeine. (Some herbals do have low levels of caffeine in them.) I find caffeine makes me feel rotten, cranky, and way too jumpy - not exactly the "relaxing" vibe I'm going for.

4. Water, Water, Water!
I've posted before about how much I love water, but I'll do it again. It's amazing what a little hydration can do for you when you're feeling off. Refreshing, revitalizing, and a great way to help your digestive system at the same time. It's probably not the first thing that comes to mind, but it might help you out. I've been trying to put back extra water these last few days, which I think has been very helpful. Good for the skin, the bowel, the lips, the brain ... good for you all over.

5. Reread an Old FavouriteIf you're not a reader, replace "reread" with "rewatch," if you prefer movies. (Actually, I like both!) Since we don't have a tv in the bedroom (I refuse to have one, sorry FH!), for me curling up in bed means quiet time with a book. When I'm feeling out of sorts, I find it hard to concentrate on anything in particular, so reading something new is out of the question. What a great chance to reread something old and beloved! This week I reread Lawrence Hill's "The Book of Negroes" for about the 5th or 6th time. It's a beautiful, heart-wrenching, and totally engaging story, by the way, so go read it! 

6. Hot Shower
A hot, steamy shower is one of my absolute favourite things. We literally had to put a clock in the bathroom recently so I would stop losing track of time (and using up all the hot water). It's absolutely nothing at all for me to have a 30-minute shower without even realizing it - and yes, I know that's a huge waste of water, and yes I do feel badly about it. I find it so therapeutic though, especially right before bed.

Personally, I get a lot a lower-quadrant and lower-back pain with my endo. Setting the shower head to massager and letting the hot water hit those spots is really helpful. There's something about it that is stress-relieving, too. After, I love grabbing a pair of fluffy socks and my cosy sweat pants, and curling up with a book or movie. Renewing and pain-easing.

7. Glass of Wine
I know the endo diet calls for "no alcohol," but I just really can't stick with that, to be honest. I've had to cut out gluten, dairy, and red meat; I've chosen to cut out soy; I've chosen to reduce white sugar and caffeine; I draw the line at wine, folks - at least at this point.

It's funny, but I find that even half a glass of wine is good for settling my stomach, and of course it helps relax muscle aches as well. Half a glass before bed can do wonders for me, and as a person who just genuinely enjoys wine, it's nice that I can get some medicinal benefit out of something I'd be consuming anyway. Bonus!

Shameless wedding plug: the vidal from Willow Springs Winery in Stouffville, Ontario is fabulous!

Ok, so what's on your list? What are the little things that can make a rough day a little easier? I'm sure I will be back to add more later, but I'd love to hear from you!

Peace & Joy,

Monday 20 May 2013


Sorry looks like I'm just destined to keep posting about food. I hope no one minds!

I've been dealing with an endo flare up since Mother's Day weekend, and food and stretching have been my saving graces. I can't not share that with you all!

First, the stretching: If you don't have a yoga ball, invest in one. Being able to stretch, on stomach AND on back, over the yoga ball, has helped me more times than I can count. Because I have rectovaginal endometriosis, I get a lot of tailbone pain, and this kind of stretching (when done gently) can do wonders. Anyway, if you haven't tried it, do I suggest it. If the pain is really bad, I find stretching over the ball with a heated up Magic Bag is a wonderful combination.

Now, on to the food!

I have always been a big "lentil/bean" person, so this is really nothing new. I've been putting chickpeas in my garden salads for years, because I love the flavour and colour, and I dig the extra protein. Yay chickpeas!

I happened upon a recipe for another salad, (trying to find the source now so I can credit it back), and I wanted to share it with you all.

1 1/2 cups diced cucumber
2 cups chopped tomato
2 15-oz cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 tsp honey
1 tsp dijon mustard
3 tbsp chopped fresh dill
Dash of freshly-ground pepper

1. Combine cucumber, tomatoes, and rinsed chickpeas in a large bowl.

2. In a small bowl, whisk together the lemon juice, olive oil, honey, and mustartd. Season with pepper, and then stir in dill.

3. Add dressing to salad and toss until well-mixed.

4. Cover, and chill at least 15 minutes before serving.

I made this tonight, and it was gorgeous. I let it chill about an hour, and I noticed a huge difference in the taste. This salad looks like it will serve 5-6 people as a side. (I also threw in some olives right before I ate it, because I have an obsession with olives...)

Chickpeas are a total powerfood, or at least they are for me. I know I've posted about chickpeas before, and I probably will again. They help my digestion, help reduce bloating, and I always feel energized and comfortably full after eating them.


With peace & joy,

Saturday 11 May 2013

Apologies! Recipe!

Hello lovelies,

I have been sadly MIA for a few days; I'm sorry! Mr Cee tore some ligaments in his ankle last weekend and things have been extra-busy lately. I'm cosied up with my PVR, which is blissfully full of Criminal Minds reruns, and I can't stop thinking about the gorgeous salad I ate today.

Let me preface this recipe by:

1) giving serious shoutouts to my girls (lovely bridesmaids) who were willing guinea pigs in my food experiment get-together last night. Cheers!

2) making a note to anyone tempted by this recipe: As I discovered today, this salad is best made the day before you serve it. The taste is way, WAY different today than it was yesterday; by "different," I mean "crazy better."

3) admiting that this is not an original recipe, but something that I found online, and tinkered with after deciding I did not like the way it turned out at first.

Ok, so without further ado, I give you: Summer Chickpea Salad

Summer Chickpea Salad

1 c sliced green olives
3-4 zucchini, quartered and chopped (not too big, but not too small either)
1-2 cans of chickpeas, drained and rinsed (amount depends on how much you LOVE chickpeas!)

1/3 c olive oil
Scant 1/3 c white vinegar (adjust for your own personal taste)
2-3 healthy splashes red wine vinegar
1-2 tbsp dried basil
Sea salt to taste

1. Combine olives, zucchini, and chickpeas in a large bowl.

2. Combine dressing ingredients in a small bowl with a lid. Put the lid on the bowl (tightly) and shake the bowl hard. make sure to turn it upside-down and mix thoroughly.

3. Pour the dressing on and toss the salad to coat well.

4. Cover the salad and put in the fridge at least a few hours before serving the salad. I strongly recommend letting it chill a full day before you serve it.

5. When you're ready to serve it, remove it from the fridge and stir it well.


I finished eating some (ok, a lot) about 2 hours ago, and I literally have not stopped thinking about it since. Last night, my reaction was "meh, it's ok." So for my personal tastebuds anyway, giving it the time to settle so the flavours can really come together was massively important.

What if you aren't into olives? Well, first have your head examined, crazy person! Ok. If you don't like olives, you could certainly put in something else instead, but I would recommend trying to stay in the salty-flavour range, to keep the taste balanced.

If you decide to try it, let me know how it goes! If you make any changes, I'd love to know what you did and how it worked out for you.

This salad is Endo Diet-friendly, has good protein from the chickpeas, and is a nice change from the typical leafy salad. I think you could probably serve this on a bed of cooked and cooled rice or quinoa, or on a bed of baby spinach. The options are endless!

Thursday 2 May 2013

Product Review - Mad Mexican

Last post I talked about the Sol Cuisine burgers and the O'Doughs buns - both of which I've been eating all week, so they were definitely a huge hit!

Another company we learned about at the Gluten-Free Garage is one called Mad Mexican. They make tortilla chips and a variety of dips, such as salsa and guacamole.

Mr. Cee is a huge guacamole fan, so we bought a bag of tortilla chips and a tub of guac. I was impressed with how few ingredients each product had; it was all real food that was easily recognizable and also pronouncable. Always a good sign!

The tortilla chips had a very satisfying crunch to them. They were crispy, not overly salty (just enough to add a nice flavour) and though there were a bit thin, they were sturdy enough to survive dipping in the guac.

The guacamole was a fabulous colour - it looked really fresh, and I loved the consistency of it. Not too lumpy, not too runny; perfect for dipping and scooping. Usually my pet peeve about guac is that folks tend to go overboard with the cilantro, but I found Mad Mexican's guac to have a great balance to it. The cilantro flavour was there, but it wasn't overpowering; it blended very well with the other flavours. Again, with just a few natural ingredients, a fabulous flavour was produced. (Why do other companies need to put so much crap in their food? Is it really better to have 15 ingredients people can't pronounce?)

I wish we had've bought more bags of the tortilla chips, as we still have some guac left but nothing to dip. We've had to open a bag of "other" tortilla chips (which used to be my fave but I think just got bumped!) and it's just not the same.

Two big, gluten-free thumbs up to Mad Mexican!

As an aside: I got asked the other day why I'm focusing so much on gluten-free food, if this blog is supposed to be about Endo and endo-wellness. Aside from the fact that my endo has made gluten-free (and now dairy-free, and a few other things) living a necessity, I believe in the link between wellness and food. Didn't your mother tell you, "You are what you eat"? Following the Endo Diet and eating as cleanly as possible has helped me achieve better overall health, and has helped improved my Endo symptoms.

Additionally: Going gluten-free and/or following the Endo Diet can be really, really daunting. "What do you eat?" is something I get asked all the time. I've been there; it's not easy to get started. I focus so much on food because it's a huge part of our lives, it can play a huge role in our wellness, and it can be really intimidating to try to find products that taste good, meet the dietary requirements, and hopefully won't be too hard to find.

I won't always focus this much on food, but it's something I can't ever ignore. I hope at least some of you are finding the information useful. If not, keep checking back - eventually I'll get to other topics. ;)

With peace & joy,

Monday 29 April 2013

Gluten-Free Garage, Plus 1 Review

I've been gluten-free for nearly 3 years now, and while I feel like I generally know what's what in the world of GF, I love learning about new products and new companies. This weekend, DF and I went to the Gluten Free Garage, which was a sort of food/product expo for gluten-free companies. I wish I had some pictures to post, but I was so busy talking to people and taking business cards that I forgot all about photos.

The Gluten-Free Garage was a whirlwind of activity. There were restaurants, bakeries, personal product companies, delivery companies...pretty much everything a person could think of, plus a few more.

We spent our time sampling items, talking with business owners, and yes, loading up on delicious products on our way out. We could have easily bought one of everything there - fortunately for our bank accounts, we didn't!

Over the next few days, I'm going to reviewing the products we bought this weekend. (We also bought some new products at a store this weekend, but that's another story for another day. It was quite the GF weekend!) Let's get the reviewing started! Today I will review the burgers we had for dinner last night, from a company called Sol Cuisine.


Sol Cuisine makes vegan burgers and other meat-substitute products. Unfortunately, my attempts to get additional info from their website has failed spectacularly (it won't load at all), so I have to go by what I remember. Their products are free of gluten, and are also vegan - I'm 99% sure all their products are vegan, not just vegetarian, but if that's wrong, please leave a note in the comments! We bought their Chia Seed vegan burgers, and had them for dinner last night. I should note, these burgers are also free of soy, which fits beautifully with the rules of the Endo Diet. Score!

I will admit they looked a little funny - real meat burgers never have the perfect circle look to them, but meatless burgers always seem to. Since there's no meat, they cooked really quickly; we cooked them on the stove for about 4 minutes per side.

I topped my burger with spinach leaves, honey mustard, pickle slices and tomato slices. I wasn't sure what to expect from this fast-cooking, perfect-circle burger...but I was pleasantly, deliciously surprised.

This burger was fantastic! I really enjoyed the texture of the patty, and the chia seeds made me feel comfortably full. (I only ate half of it - the other half is waiting in the fridge for lunch time!)

If you're wondering about the bun - we bought O'Dough's seed buns yesterday too, which we've had before and really enjoyed. Like all GF bread, they can be a bit heavy - however, they  have a nice texture, similar to egg bread.

These made for a really nice dinner; I got to enjoy a burger without suffering afterwards AND it was really, really good. Everyone wins!

Sol Cuisine makes other products, including Black Bean burgers and also Falafels. I will definitely buy these again, if I can find them! (Too bad about their website though....)

Thursday 25 April 2013

Dairy Attack!

I meant to post this on Sunday, but this is the first chance I've had to check in on things here.

Anyway, as you know, I've cut out dairy entirely these days, in keeping with the Endo Diet. On Sunday, my mom and I went out for lunch at the mall after church, to do some walking around and get an idea of the new styles for spring. (And I bought the most perfect navy blazer - but I digress....)

We went to Moxie's, which has a good handle on gluten-free food prep. We shared a Santorini salad, which is a salad of greens, tomatoes, olives, and boccaccini cheese (hold the croutons please). I figured I could eat around the boccaccini, since it's not like gluten for cross-contamination (for me, anyway).I'd forgotten that the salad also has a generous sprinkling of feta cheese all over it. Sigh.

I felt too stupid to send it back, since it was my own fault anyway. I thought the little bit wouldn't matter. I tucked in, and about 30 minutes later, wasn't feeling so well. A couple of uncomfortable trips to the bathroom later, I was official Not Well. Lovely.

For me, this was my body's official statement: No More Dairy. Not even a little, tiny bit. No eating around it, no little tastes here and there. No More Dairy.

It's worth noting, as well, that following this dairy attack, I had tailbone Endo pain and sciatic Endo pain for the first time in nearly a month. That night, I slept terribly, and was very bloating and uncomfortable the next day.

Some might say this is a coincidence, but I find that laughable. To me, this is proof of what my body needs. It's not easy, saying goodbye to more food I love, but why keep around something that doesn't love me back?

Moving forward, I am being much more careful about reading labels and sorting out ingredients - even "may contain" products are out. Sad? Maybe. But there isn't anything I wouldn't give up now, if it means feeling better.

With peace & joy,
Cher <3

PS: Shout-out to Tevanna at Fairview Mall, which hooked me up with an oolong tea that helped settle my stomach nicely. I wish I could remember what it was called!!