Sunday, May 31, 2015

all-natural ranch dressing

This is a recipe I've been developing and think I've finally got down.

It's great for many reasons:

  • All natural ingredients
  • No vinegar (unless you want to add some, then I recommend raw, unprocessed apple cider vinegar)
    • Vinegar is a fermented food. While it's great for a healthy gut flora, it can cause pain and allergy-like symptoms for those who have a mast cell disorder or histamine intolerance due to gut dysbiosis. I had to avoid it until I rebalanced my gut flora.
  • No bovine dairy (regular ranch usually has some form of cow's milk, like buttermilk)
  • And it's very quick, just a minute or two to put together.
 Here's what you'll need for an individual serving on a regular salad:

1-1.5 oz. of Chevre Goat Cheese
1 oz. extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp of chopped red onion
1 chopped clove of fresh garlic

Some goat cheeses are crumbly and some are soft. I find that once it hits the olive oil, the cheese softens. Just mix them together.

I also just cut up the red onion and garlic over my salad and drizzle the rest on top of that.

That's it. The garlic and red onion add kick, the goat cheese adds creaminess, and the EV olive oil adds good fat and a bit of sweetness.

Ranch dressing now tastes too sweet to me and disgusting since I started using this on my salads.

(My other favorite is EV olive oil and a little bit of ACV in my own vinaigrette.)

Friday, May 29, 2015

Serializing Awakening

It's done. The first part of four is now available...

Daemon Dark (Awakening, Part 1 of 4) is now at iBooks, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, Smashwords, and other retailers. Read a quarter of the novel for FREE. If you like it, the preorder for the full novel is only $0.99! If you're not sure, just wait.

On June 3, the second part, Gray Dawn, will be available for $0.99. On June, 13, Dim Hopes will be available, and on June 23, the final part, Radiant Truth, will be available (each for $2.99). Note: You'll pay more for the parts, but you'll be able to read it before the official release of the full novel!

Awakening features a love triangle on a different world with a contemporary setting but with science, technology, and magic blended together. As one of the magi (a professional medic) says, "Magic is simply a more intuitive manipulation of energy fields." An epic fantasy set on a modern world, the Shadow Realm Saga is here for your reading pleasure...

Lilly has been marked for death by daemons from a hidden world, a place known as the Shadow Realm. Within her has awakened the spirit of their enemy, one of the luriel. Such beings are myths to her, but one man is out to prove that they exist. The daemon slayer, Mychel, will introduce her to a world of shadows and light hiding beyond the comfort of science and technology, where ancient myths are real and an eternal war rages on, a war in which she has now been conscripted to fight.

One daemon is doing his best to destroy her before that happens. In human form, Darrac is able to get close to her and soon realizes that she is different–through Lilly, an ancient power has revived, a terrible power than can end the war…by eliminating both luriel and daemons. But destroying that power would mean sacrificing the one who has changed his heart.

Time is running out as the luriel within Lilly matures and her powers grow. One choice will determine the fate of two realms.

If all goes well, Enlightenment will be out within the year, along with Nemesis. (For those Starfire Angels series fans waiting patiently, I'm grateful.) And then I'll be moving onto Ascension and Eternals soon after.

Monday, May 25, 2015

My weight loss secret at forty years old

So, you've heard it all before, but here's what I discovered in my journey back to health and subsequent weight loss. Keep in mind that I'm not a medical professional, nor do I have any special training in this; rather, I've simply put together what I've read and experienced myself. I've always been in good shape, but my body had enough of the garbage I was putting into it to fuel that activity level.

Calories and exercise count, but you have to make a full lifestyle change. Here's what I've learned:

Start in small steps, and if at any time you're not sure of how to manage your diet, work with a dietician (but don't believe when they say grain is good for you--it's not! Read the books by William Cook, MD and David Perlmutter, MD for a start). If you have any medical conditions, be sure to consult with your doctor BEFORE making any lifestyle or dietary changes like those I list below, or you could end up with life-threatening issues! I cannot stress that enough, because your body will change and may not be able to handle some of the transitions as easily as an otherwise healthy person would. This is why I suggest small steps that get progressively harder.

One caveat: the further you go in this process to better health, the more discipline it takes, but the results are worth it...

  1. Begin drinking lots of water between and before meals. Hydration cannot be stressed enough. You can do this while progressing with the rest. It will also help keep a feeling of fullness to reduce calorie consumption and aid the kidneys in eliminating waste.
  2. Keep a food journal. I use a small notepad but wish I had started it a month earlier. Write the times, exact ingredients, amounts (best guesses, even noting a "pinch" or "handful" is helpful), when and what medications and supplements were taken, and any reactions in your body (aches, acid reflux, dizziness, fatigue, tingling, etc.) and what times those happened. This will be of tremendous help if you have any problems.
  3. Get some exercise every day. I find that I feel less stressed and fall asleep easier at night if I get out walking or on the treadmill for 30-60 minutes a day. That's all it takes for cardio. And move throughout the day. Also, add in some resistance training (weights). Muscle burns more fat, so building muscle helps to lose weight. If you have trouble walking or climbing stairs, you can at least lift weights to strengthen you upper body.
  4. Learn to wind down with meditation or quiet time away from electronic devices. If you have kids as I do, take those precious moments when they've settled down--don't dread tv or computer time as a distraction--or are napping. Relaxation helps as the exercise does to reduce cortisol levels and soothes our body, mind, and spirit.
  5. Learn to read labels and what each ingredient really is.
  6. Get the Fooducate app on your phone and start scanning labels. This was recommended to me and I love it. It's free at its basic level, but for a small fee of $1.99/month or $14.99/year, you can customize it to your specific needs.
  7. Add a good probiotic. I have found Hyperbiotics's line of probiotics (PRO-Women, PRO-Kids Children's Probiotics, PRO-15) to be one of the best for me, but your situation may require something different. I suggest starting out with something low and progressing to a stronger, more complete probiotic over the course of the next few weeks. You don't want a rapid transition (more on this below).
  8. Cut out all high fructose corn syrup. This makes the rest of the transition easier.
  9. Begin the day with a cup of hot water with lemon. Be sure to twist the lemon to extract the oil from the zest. This helps to cleanse the liver, provides a feeling of fullness sooner, and supplies many other health benefits.
  10. Shop in only the fresh foods, meats, and dairy sections, usually the outside of the grocery store. You'll discover a whole new world of food that you probably didn't fully consider before and it's a new adventure! Begin your meals with these foods so you get more of the nutrient dense foods before anything else. And if you don't have any issues with FODMAPS, add in fresh garlic and onion. Fresh garlic adds zest to salads and is a natural anti-microbial, and both of these flavorful bulbs support healthy gut flora as prebiotics. I also love the taste of a little red onion in my salad and sauteed onion in all my cooking. They add lots of flavor, whether white, red, yellow (my favorite for sauteeing), or green.
  11. Add in healthy fats, like real olive oil (beware: many oils on store shelves are not pure olive oil--research!) like California Olive Ranch (my favorite) and coconut oil and occasionally butter. Don't overdo it, but don't be afraid of them, even in your meats. Fats are satiating and will help to reduce the amount of calories you ingest at each meal and keep you fuller longer.
  12. Eat protein every day--eggs (yolks especially), chicken, turkey, beef, lamb, etc. These are your main source of the healthy B vitamins that fuel your energy and brain. You only need a small serving to satisfy your daily needs. In fact, I find that 2 eggs every morning is sufficient, but as a meat-lover, I will enjoy a 4 oz. steak, homemade hamburger, or a serving of chicken later in the day. No processed meats! (If you're a vegan/vegetarian, you'll have to find other sources. I'm omnivorous as our ancestors were, so I'll enjoy my meat and all its benefits to my health.) Tip: whole, unprocessed meats are usually cheaper from a butcher than at the supermarket.
  13. Once you're eating whole foods, remove all grains (and read Wheat Belly by William Cook and Grain Brain and Brain Maker by David Perlmutter if you want to understand my reasoning for this). *This will be a truly difficult transition. Grains are everywhere, especially in processed foods. That means no wheat, rye, barley, spelt, quinoa, rice, etc. Grains feed bad gut bacteria and fungi, reduce our bodies' ability to absorb nutrients, and only make us hungrier than we would be without them (they are addictive). You will go through a withdrawal period where you'll feel worse, but sticking it out is very worthwhile. You may even go through symptoms of candida die-off (very likely) where you feel flu-like symptoms--malaise, headaches, chills, fever, etc. This will be short-lived, but if it persists, jump right to the next step to get it under control. Replace these with nuts and seeds that are dry roasted or fresh (no oil roasted or flavored).* To make this easier, consider grains to be your heroine or cocaine. You'll understand why if you read the books I mentioned. This helped a friend of mine fight the addiction, and she's feeling better than ever after eliminating grains.
  14. Cut out all starches and sugars--table sugar, honey, artificial sweeteners, and even sweet fruits (most berries, bananas, mangoes, etc.) and starchy foods (like potatoes and peas). Do this until the flu-like symptoms fade. Then add in only a few sugars a day, like a drop or two of honey (such as in tea or yogurt) or fruit, both of which have at least some health benefits to go with the glucose spikes. Once you get past the worst, the cravings will fade, so you won't want to eat them so much, but if you do, keep them in small servings to minimize the insulin spikes. Insulin leads to visceral fat (belly and organs), which produces estrogen, which causes more weight gain, etc. in a vicious cycle. You'll have to learn to get creative with your meals.What foods are you allowed? More than you probably ever considered. You'll find so many options. In my transition, I have learned to try new foods, many of which I've discovered that I really enjoy. For help, check out paleo diets, mediterranean diets, or other similar recipes that exclude grains and refined sugars.
  15. Now, empty your cupboards of all processed foods. No more preservatives, toxins, sugars, etc.
  16. Cut out dairy, except yogurt and goat/sheep cheese, which are rich in beneficial bacteria for your gut, calcium for bones and regulating physiological functions, satiating fats, and other nutrients. An occasional small bit of milk, half and half, or cream in coffee or tea is okay, but unfermented cow's milk has no real health benefits and is purely for taste, imho, and should be treated as a treat rather than a staple.
  17. Treat yourself with an occasional small square of dark chocolate (the higher the percentage of cacao, the better). This has nutrients your body can use, but less than 100% cacao has sweeteners added. Go for the purest you can find--minus additives and preservatives, always eat in small amounts, and treat it as a treat, not a staple.
  18. Eat PLAIN yogurt with live bacteria cultures every day. If you don't like the taste, add in your favorite flavors with extracts (vanilla and orange will give you the dreamsicle flavor) and a tiny bit of honey or stevia (not table sugar or artificial sweeteners) or fruit. I've discovered that one of my favorite (and most satiating) things is to mix 1/2 cup of plain yogurt with 1 tablespoon of natural Skippy peanut butter (no sugars and no preservatives added, so I keep it in the refrigerator and the oils don't separate). I'm weird that way, but I love peanut butter and this is a great treat in the evening to keep me full and less tempted to snack. I also like yogurt with vanilla and a drop or two of honey, which is just as easy but not nearly as filling, so great as a breakfast treat, but you can add in a little fruit (no more than a handful of fruit to a cup of yogurt--sugar!) I split my yogurt servings to mornings (after my eggs) and as the last thing at night to keep candida under control by boosting good gut flora.
  19. At this stage, begin fasting between meals. You'll be feeling fuller longer, so eating every 3-4 hours will be an easy stretch. (On a typical workday, I eat at 7:20, 12:30, 5:30, and may have a small mid-morning or mid-afternoon snack, such as 2 Tablespoons of pumpkin seeds, 1 Tablespoon of sunflower seeds, or 1/4 cup of mixed nuts, but not all at once. I also enjoy my tea in early morning and/or mid-afternoon and the salt of these dry-roasted seeds and nuts goes well with unsweetened fruit/berry tea.) Your main meals will be larger and more filling and your sugar cravings will be gone, so you won't feel like snacking; but sometimes your body will say it needs something more. Aside from sugar cravings, listen to your body.
  20. Under the guidance of a medical professional, add in supplements where you may be deficient in nutrients but NEVER high doses (unless recommended and monitored by a health professional). And be sure to adjust and/or remove them day-by-day, as your needs will vary by day. Some vitamins and minerals are water soluble, which means they flush out of the body with lots of water (B1, B2, C, etc.). Others can cause toxicity--B6 (not more than 1-2 mg/day, which can be easily obtained through meats), D (400 mg/day, easily obtained in enriched yogurts and cheeses), magnesium (sunflower and pumpkin seeds are high in this, along with other foods), calcium (contributes to arterial plaques when not absorbed properly), copper, zinc, etc. It's all a careful balancing act, but I live by the motto of less is more, so I don't overdose on any supplements, which can make matters much worse, rather than better.
  • While copper must be balanced with zinc, excess copper, as with B6, can fuel bad glut flora like candida.
  • Although it is toxic in too high of doses, magnesium is one of those minerals where most of us are deficient and it helps calcium absorption, among its many functions in our bodies.
  • Try to obtain your nutrients from foods whenever possible. While seeds and nuts are rich in magnesium and other nutrients, meat is strong in B vitamins, oily fish once a week provides EPA and DHA, and green leafy vegetables are rich in most everything else; you may need a few boosts to get you on a better path if you aren't eating these. I like to cut my magnesium 100 mg tablets in half because for me, it knocks me out to take a full tablet even at low of a dose. Plus, I may eat seeds at some point and not need any more magnesium in the day. I also take a fish oil supplement that I don't plan to continue every day once I feel that I'm back on track with my neurological recovery. And be careful with vitamin D. This helps the body absorb calcium but requires vitamin K to absorb (found in green vegetables).
  • If you eat right, you won't have to use many supplements and if you do, you'll find you can begin cutting them out after a period of finding the right dietary balance, some sooner than you might expect; unless you have special nutrient needs due to a medical condition (in which case, you're likely already working with a doctor, so continue to do so). The exception may be vitamin D, which our bodies must make from the sun on our skin, something that living in the north leaves me deficient in most of the year.

Remember that the "Recommended Daily Allowance" is usually based on a 2,000 calorie-per-day diet for an average sized person! You will be eating much less by the time you get through this, and your height and weight at any given time matter. Recalculate your nutrient needs as necessary.

For example, I now eat 1,000-1,200 calories per day and that's plenty. I also am quite small at 5 foot 2 inches, so I don't need as high of nutrient amounts as the government recommendations state to feel healthy, especially since I dropped from 125 at my highest (and getting hard to maintain much less decrease on my old habits) back to 110 presently (three pounds from my pre-first-pregnancy weight thanks to changing my eating habits). My current weight allows me to get by on less nutrients to maintain my health. I used to maintain this weight easily...twenty years ago. I'm now forty years old, nearly forty-one. I didn't consume nearly as many nutrients then as I do now, but as we age, our digestive systems, like the rest of our bodies, become less efficient. Our task is to fuel it. Make every calorie count.

THIS INFORMATION IS NOT COMPLETE AND IS NOT MEANT AS MEDICAL ADVICE! Read the books I suggested for the doctors' information, talk to a nutritionist and/or naturopath (who are more open to these types of health changes), and research. Above all else, coordinate with your medical doctor, especially if you have a medical condition!

I went through a terrible transition of histamine intolerance, which I now attribute to gut dysbiosis (an overgrowth of bad gut flora) and a die-off and toxin release and likely leaky gut, which has since healed, but all my medical tests were "normal"--bloodwork, negative stool testing (tested only for parasites and one bad bacteria), clean colonoscopy and upper endoscopy. Even a dietician was stumped. I made all these transitions (not necessarily in this order, which is why I'm looking back and seeing what I should have done to ease my transition) and I made them myself to get to where I am now--feeling great! I sought medical help but no one listened to me. I will finally get to see a naturopath in a week, but I've had to wait because she is a busy lady in high demand, and I am a new patient to her.

Always get medical help where you can. I'm only providing this as guidance, so that others may not have to suffer as I did. Get ahead of your health while you can!

The results that are possible if you can stick it out:

  • WEIGHT LOSS! Part of this is by stabilizing your blood sugars and insulin. Part of it is because you will eliminate chronic inflammation throughout your body. (I lost a pound a day in the first week of changing my diet simply by cutting out grain and it has slowed as I continue, but I am working at getting my pre-pregnancy body back from nearly thirteen years ago--just three pounds left!)
  • Clearer thinking
  • Expanded creativity
  • Memory improvements
  • Calmer state of mind
  • More energy throughout the day
  • Restful sleep (I used to be an insomniac and now sleep great)
  • Eliminate depression and anxiety
  • Eliminate muscoloskeletal aches
  • Lower blood-sugar levels
  • Lower blood-pressure (mine was creeping up but has since dropped back to where it was before I ever had kids)
  • Eliminate yeast infections/thrush
  • Eliminate/reduce acid reflux by stabilizing your digestive system
  • Regulate bowel movement
  • Reduce/eliminate IBS symptoms, gas/bloating, constipation/diarrhea
  • Improve immune system
  • Reduce or eliminate your needs for medications **NEVER reduce or eliminate your medications without consulting your doctor**
  • Reduce PMS symptoms
  • Eliminate acne (something that plagued me my whole life until I made this transition--without makeup, I look fabulous and have the best skin in my life, except around that time of the month.)
  • Reduce perimenopausal symptoms

These are just some of the incredible benefits that can come from changing your lifestyle, based on my experiences and what I believe is the easiest way to make that transition when you don't have the push of severe symptoms threatening if you fall off the plan.

Good luck in your own journey to better health!

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Awakening update

For those who don't follow on Twitter, I made a decision about the release of Awakening. I will not longer be giving away full novels (which require months of my time and energy to write). Because of that, I have decided to serialize this novel into four parts with progressive pricing.

The biggest benefit is that this pricing strategy will give you the opportunity to read more of the novel than what samples normally allow. In parts, you'll be able to sample a little of each section instead of just the beginning of the novel. Plus, if I can get Amazon to price match, the whole first part will be free.

Here's the schedule:

May 25, 2015:  Part 1 - Daemon's Dark.... FREE
June 3, 2015:    Part 2 - Gray Dawn.......... $0.99
June 13, 2015:  Part 3 - Dim Hope............ $2.99
June 23, 2015:  Part 4 - Radiant Truth....... $2.99

June 28, 2015:  FULL NOVEL................. $4.99
preorder for the special price of only 99c!

As you can see, you won't be waiting more than ten days between each part, if you go that route.

Awakening is a contemporary fantasy with an epic overarching story tied into a love triangle that transcends two realms. This 4-book series will unfold over the next two years with the releases of Enlightenment, Ascension, and Eternals to come.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Dividing stories into serials

I'm looking for honest opinions...

Contrary to much the the "rule" that you don't divide a full novel into a serial if each part isn't resolved in its own right, I did that with Spirit Blade and saw good results. It fit to divide into five parts (with the middle a little awkward to cut up). However, the progressive pricing with the first two parts free has led to decent sales on it, despite that the pricing on the parts is more than the $4.99 complete novel price. It's a hard series to sell and I think this has helped a lot to get people to try it. I kept the same cover and for the parts added a "Part 1", "Part 2", etc. at the bottom of the title.

I'm considering doing that again with Awakening, which would easily break into four parts. I could release a first part now, as it is ready after editing. (Note: those edits are not yet uploaded to the sites that have the full novel available for pre-order. I'm waiting to finish the final edits completely before updating it.) Those who pre-order the full version will only pay the special price of $0.99, which will go up to $3.99 soon after it's released.

Do you think I should try breaking up Awakening? The first part is ready for release and I don't foresee any more tweakings of the cover, except to indicate the parts, as I did with Spirit Blade.

What do you, reader and author friends, think of this? Do you dislike serialized novels or would a graduated pricing for each part make you more likely to sample a story?

Please share in the comments.

Thank you!

In the end...

So, medically, I'm supposedly all in good health. Absolutely nothing wrong with me at this time...But I did a lot of clearing up the problem myself where the MDs failed to help because it wasn't something they could quantify in a test or procedure (colonoscopy--not fun for prep but being out for the procedure was no big deal, although the gassiness afterwards was painful).

My takeaway is reinforcement of something I've known for a while--trust your instincts (but don't be a hypochondriac), keep an open mind about the possibilities and be willing to make adjustments with new discoveries, keep notes of your observations to present to the "professionals", and most importantly, eat a healthy diet. Diet trumps everything. Cut all grains, processed sugars, dairy, and, most importantly, all processed foods (including processed meats).

Eat from what you find in the fresh foods and meats sections of the store. Yes, this sounds like a paleo diet, but it is the most natural diet. Organic foods taste better, but they can be expensive/cost prohibitive. What you'll soon find is that you're eating less (nutrient-rich/fiber-dense foods are far more satiating) and your costs will balance out or decrease. The expense is worth the wonderful feeling of health you'll have after that initial adjustment/candida die-off/sugar-and-grain withdrawal. I can't begin to describe how much better I feel on the other side of all this, although I may have in a previous post. Your foggy brain, fatigue, extra weight, and health problems will all diminish or disappear.

I'm doing much better and am able to tolerate small amounts of gluten, soy, and dairy again. But as I mentioned in the last post, I discovered by accident that I had a candida overgrowth. Once I got that under control, everything adjusted to normal good health again. I could go back to processed foods, but now that I've become more disciplined in what I eat and feel better for it, why would I want to poison myself again? I'm sticking to the new diet, but at least now I know I don't have to fear the old triggers. I know that I can treat myself on occasion. However, those treats (including sweet fruits!) could cost me in a candida flare-up, so I'll reserve them for special occasions and be sure to follow-up with rigorous treatment to cut it off before it gets as bad as it did two months ago.

With all I've suffered and learned these past two months, I have been given a gift, the gift of better health. With that, I can teach others and my family, giving them a much better future and passing on the lessons I've had to suffer.

No more anxiety, no more depression, no more struggling to keep weight down and failing (and it's not just because I'm 40 but was mostly due to eating poorly) and only having to exercise to stay in shape, a clarity of thought I haven't had in twenty years, no more mysterious aches, no more light and smell sensitivities, no more night time body itches, no more insomnia, improved memory, no more acne ( a plague all my life), and a creativity that can't be reined in. It's wonderful! I don't want to give this up ever again.

I'm not going to tell you all the details of how to go about it. That's up to you. If you're not sure, research "candida overgrowth" and read the many websites/blogs talking about it. Enter "histamine intolerance candida" and you'll see the connection. Look up "where does gluten hide" and "where does soy hide" and you'll get a list of items you didn't realize that were gluten or soy, the two biggest problems in processed foods and even medicines and supplements. Read the two books I recommended in my last post at the least, WHEAT BELLY and BRAIN MAKER; they are well worth your time and money. Research probiotics but try to find those without any allergens, but don't take their word for it--read the full ingredients since those nasty things can hide in items such as "artificial and natural flavors" and "maltodextrin" and "stearic acid". There is much information out there that I couldn't possibly summarize.

I just want to warn people so that no one has to suffer as I did. I crashed into sudden suicidal thoughts that wanted to control me but didn't (because I realized there was a physiological problem when they came on so suddenly and my life had been going well with no reason for them). Once I changed my eating habits, my whole life changed for the better.

Good luck in your own journey to better health!

Sunday, May 17, 2015

A health revelation and hopefully the end of the mystery

Great news! I think I found the source of my health problems. So far, several days of a new probiotic have allowed me to start enjoying some of the healthy histamine foods that I had to eliminate. Even my boss said to stay on this probiotic, because I've been super creative and energetic at work. Fingers crossed that I simply had a gut dysbiosis and it's being fixed through diet and probiotics.

Look for PRO-Women: Probiotics for Women with Cranberry Extract & 100% Naturally Occurring D-Mannose. This is what finally seems to be restoring balance to me. I had to do a LOT of scouring the internet for answers. I had learned that histamine intolerance can be a result of gut dysbiosis (besides other causes) and that some strains of lactobacillus can produce more histamines (I'm looking at you, L. casei) while others help production of DAO, which breaks down histamines in the gut (love you, L. rhamnosus) and some can attack the protective shields of bad flora (thank you L. plantarum). This formula has the good guys, and don't let the low numbers fool you. It does deliver.

I've also learned that candida overgrowth symptoms match histamine intolerance symptoms exactly. Also, the candida elimination diet is almost identical to the low histamine diet. Coincidence? Maybe not. An overgrowth of candida will cause the body to produce histamines to destroy it and guess where those go--to the gut, the source of the problem. And candida overgrowth can cause leaky gut because of the way it breaks down the intestinal tissues. Guess what happens then--the body attacks the particles that drift into the bloodstream, causing the symptoms I've been feeling throughout my body.

On one website, I found it stated that candida proteins are very similar to gluten proteins. I'm not sure if that's true, but it would explain the gluten sensitivity. I used to be a sugar addict, which only feeds candida and bad flora, which also cause cravings for sweets in a vicious cycle. I've found that these probiotics and the children's version by Hyperbiotics (which I added to this because it includes B. infantis and which stepped up my feeling good even more)--PRO-Kids Children's Probiotics--curb my sugar cravings within hours of taking them. I won't go into boring details here of all that I've found on the internet. You can search it all yourself if you're having problems like I was.

However, I will say that dysbiosis, SIBO, and/or candida overgrowth all cause similar symptoms to histamine intolerance. I doubt I will ever tolerate gluten again, but it would seem that candida has gotten through my gut into my body to wreak havoc on it. I'll let the doctors confirm or deny that, but I do know that a restrictive diet has aided my health tremendously (particularly eliminating gluten and sweeteners and, at least for now, all sweet fruits). I was struggling with eating much variety of even healthy foods due to histamine reactions, but within 24 hours of my first dose of this probiotic, I was able to cut out the quercetin and add in at least one of the foods from the histamine-releasing food list without any of the adverse effects I was having. It's early in this experiment, so I'll take it a step at a time, but I'm hopeful that I'm getting closer to the source of my problems and that, in short time, my gut will heal from whatever damage I've caused it.

Two days ago, I returned to my favorite tea shop, because they have everything and I miss the place. I had to cut out tea because of histamines--any dried or cured food, including tea, is packed with them. They had a mix just for candida. That first cup, I could barely slowly sip a third of 16 oz. before the pain of histamine reaction was too much and I had to take two quercetin to get by. The next day, I went back and had another and drank down a full 16 oz. cup of the tea with barely a start of pain from histamines.

I'm also sauteeing my foods with lots of onion (a natural prebiotic for the good gut flora), which I love dearly, and fresh garlic cloves (a natural antifungal and immune booster as well as prebiotic). I'll stay on this for a few weeks. Whole, unprocessed foods are definitely the best medicine.

I'm so excited about all these discoveries, because it gives me renewed hope in being able to return to full health and a full variety of the fruits and veggies I love, rather than this tiny restrictive diet I've had to follow. Maybe I can even enjoy some chocolate again, just a little dark chocolate. Oh, bliss! What a reward that would be. I've felt so deprived and discouraged. I might have to avoid gluten for the rest of my life and avoid packaged foods, but at least I'll be healthy.

Maybe there's a reason for this happening--I've forced my whole family to eat better, cleaner. We're removing processed foods from our pantry and returning to the way my grandparents used to eat by cooking our meals from fresh veggies and meats and fruits.

I'm keeping my fingers crossed that the invasive tests I'm having done this week turn up nothing serious. Everything I've done for myself so far have been steps in the right direction but not enough. I'm hoping that I've solved the riddle of my own health crisis and that I can live out the rest of my life in good health, physically and mentally.

PS--Read Brain Maker: The Power of Gut Microbes to Heal and Protect Your Brain–for Life by David Perlmutter, M.D. (neurologist). This book is all about how what happens in our guts influences everything else in our bodies, including mental health, where my symptoms hit the hardest.

Friday, May 15, 2015

a brief update

(shared from my Facebook page):

I had allergy testing today. I have exactly 1 true (IgE reaction) allergy--an outdoor mold. As for the rest, the allergist was a cold, dispassionate jerk who seemed like he was there only for a paycheck rather than to help patients.

Ah, well. Such is the sorry state of medicine in the U.S. and the reason I've found more to help me manage my life from the internet, mostly from European blogs (doctors and laypersons). Thank you from the other side of the ocean for your medical openness!

After the GI scoping next week, I'll be even more anxious for my appointment with the naturopath who was recommended to me.

In the meantime, I'm done reading the internet news for today. Time to get back to writing and editing (which I wouldn't be sane enough to handle if I only listened to American doctors...*grumblegrumblegrumble*).

I've been fixing up Awakening pretty well and have uploaded the cleaner chapters to Wattpad, adding a couple more in the process (after taking one out). And I'm considering how the novella could tie in to Starfire Angels. I'm not sure I want to set up a whole new world, maybe just a new alien species or a few to flesh out that universe. What do you think--add more aliens to that universe or make it a whole new one?

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

learning how to eat

It's become a way of life for me now--learning how to eat without grain and minding my histamine levels.

One of my favorite dishes is to sautee the following in a cast iron skillet on a medium heat:

4 asparagus, cut up into 1-3 inch pieces
4 quarter-inch slices each of yellow and green zucchini
onion (to taste but not too much for those with SIBO as onion feeds good and bad gut bacteria)
3 oz. of fatty chuck steak (a cheap cut because of all the fat, which is what will help flavor the food and provide satiety) or about 3 oz. of high-fat hamburger
a sprinkle of real sea salt (rich in trace minerals)
drizzle of olive oil (for flavor and to help cook the veggies)

Start with just enough olive oil to coat the bottom of the skillet and turn on the heat while you cut the ingredients. Next, put the beef and onions in the skillet for a few minutes, until the meat starts browning. Then dump in the asparagus and zucchini and sprinkle with the sea salt. (Veggies cook quickly, but I like my onions softer.) Mix regularly until the meat is thoroughly browned (smaller pieces cook through more quickly) and veggies soften.

Total prep time = 5 minutes
Total cook time = 10-15 minutes

It's simple, nutrient dense, and delicious and makes enough to fill a small plate of food. I find that all the fats fill me up so much that I can't finish everything, even starting with an empty stomach. Better yet, I stay full for hours!

Keep in mind, however, that since going grain free due to a gluten intolerance (and soy, dairy, and corn), my daily caloric intake is only about 1000-1200 a day to maintain my weight, so my portions are proportionally smaller than the average person. This is all my body requires now, as long as I'm giving it the nutrients it needs, sometimes supplementing the things I can't get through food (due to histamines or other issues), and I feel great. If I eat more than the size of two of my fists, I feel stuffed and then have histamine symptoms from over-filling myself. A little quercetin helps but it's not a panacea.

Saturday, May 9, 2015

the full update

It's been a long spring for me, but I'm getting back to my normal self. As a general update, here are some of the things going on, starting with details on what I have discovered about my health problems:

1. I'm learning to live with special dietary considerations and finally managing this condition. I've learned--by adding in supplements--that I was severely deficient in certain nutrients. I'm taking the supplements in lowest possible doses, since many of them can be toxic to our bodies in too high amounts even while necessary for all the various functions that take place. I'm still searching for the right balance, but at least I'm improving day-to-day.

2. As part of #1, I go in for some medical tests on the 19th that require me to go under. I'll be having an endoscopy to check for damage to the small intestines due to possible Celiac Disease. The blood test came back negative, but my doctor confirmed what I'd read and feels that a negative test doesn't necessarily mean that I'm clear. I have become highly gluten sensitive, after all.

At the same time, I'll be having a colonoscopy. I have a direct relative--a parent, no less--who had colon cancer. Given my digestive problems (which led to severe neurological issues, which are resolved through the diet and supplements), my doctor felt it would be wise to check now, even though I'm still a decade from the fifty mark, when it's recommended.

I'll let you know if they find anything, because that would be a big deal.

3. I've developed what I can only describe as a histamine intolerance. This is the reason for carefully monitoring my diet, because it does make a big difference in how I feel. If I'm not careful, I get aches, fuzzy head, fatigue, weakness, tinnitus, rapid heartbeat, acid reflux and chest pain, etc. It varies at any time, but I can keep it under control and, when I do, I feel wonderful! I'm making a list of safe, moderate, and dangerous foods by keeping a diary of what I eat, take for supplements (some have set me off), and any symptoms. This is helping me find my balance and reclaim my life, along with websites that have helped me figure this out. Everyone has their own list of safe and moderate foods, however, while foods to avoid are pretty much the same on any list--histamine-rich foods like soy, vinegar, processed meats, or anything fermented or old. Most fruits and veggies, the staple of my new diet, get tossed after three days because otherwise I have a flare up from normally safe foods.

I will see an immunologist next week to find some answers on this and make sure I don't have any severe allergies. Food intolerances are more like pseudo-allergies; easier to live with but can still be just as dangerous.

These are the root problems I've been dealing with for the last month and a half and what my life is like now. I've had to figure out a lot for myself, since medical tests only seem to rule out what isn't wrong with me. I'm otherwise healthy, relatively speaking.

We have to be our own advocates when we know something is wrong. The best medicine doesn't come in a pill, but in the foods we eat--fresh, unprocessed, and completely natural to the way we were meant to eat. This has been forced on me and it opened my eyes to a new way of looking at life.

Too much information? Well, maybe the rest will satisfy you...

4. Because I'm feeling so much better in managing all this, my creativity is blossoming better than ever. Some days I want to work on all three projects that I have open or even add in one that I have planned to write after I'm all caught up. But I've settled on a shorter work to get me back in the game and regain my focus. I'm not sure whether this one will be under my name or a new pen name--it depends how much detail I end up adding into the romance side of this SF novella.

5. I'm also getting back to promoting Awakening and finalizing edits on that. June 28, 2015!

Preorder for the special price of only 99c (USD). (See the links on the sidebar of this blog.)


Lilly has been marked for death by daemons from a hidden world, a place known as the Shadow Realm. Within her has awakened the spirit of their enemy, one of the luriel. Such beings are myths to her, but one man is out to prove that they exist. The daemon slayer, Mychel, will introduce her to a world of shadows and light hiding beyond the comfort of science and technology, where ancient myths are real and an eternal war rages on, a war in which she has now been conscripted to fight.

One daemon is doing his best to destroy her before that happens. In human form, Darrac is able to get close to her and soon realizes that she is different–through Lilly, an ancient power has revived, a terrible power than can end the war…by eliminating both luriel and daemons. But destroying that power would mean sacrificing the one who has changed his heart.

Time is running out as the luriel within Lilly matures and her powers grow. One choice will determine the fate of two realms.

Monday, May 4, 2015

Getting back to it

I've been teasing out the writing over the last couple of weeks while recovering from a health concern that knocked my life upside down.

Now, I feel that I'm getting a solid handle on managing this new way of living and am feeling more creative than ever. A new, healthy diet avoiding gluten, soy, and dairy is hard but necessary to maintain my health and sanity.

I thank the internet for giving me this second chance at living. All the information out there helped me get through a tough time when doctors didn't know what to do except throw pills at me. Instead, the books of William Davis, M.D. (Wheat Belly and Wheat Belly Total Health) and David Perlmutter, M.D. (Grain Brain and Brain Maker), along with information on histamine-rich or -releasing foods has allowed me to find a balance in my life again.

The best part is that I am healthier than ever and feeling fifteen years younger. And I've lost those pesky pounds that wouldn't come off after the second child! Five more and I'll be at my pre-first baby weight. I have more energy and creativity than I've known in years, all because I had to dump grain from my diet and eat nutrient-packed fresh foods. Go figure *voice dripping in sarcasm*.

Did you know that all of our health begins in the digestive system? What happens there affects everything inside us, including our brains. I know now that my neurological system was screaming a wake-up call that something was amiss in my digestive system. I'm waiting to complete some other tests to see if something more sinister is amiss than simple food intolerances, but in the meantime have returned to a sense of normality, except when I get accidentally glutened.

Now, I'm finally building back my momentum in writing as the ideas come more freely than they have in many years.

I'm working on a short story to get back into the process and then will jump back into one of the larger projects that have been on the backburner for the last couple of months--Nemesis or Enlightenment.