Tummy Troubles & Sorbitol!

Helllllo everyone! It has been a very long time since I last wrote on here.

Since my stomach has been doing much better lately, I thought I would explain my tummy troubles on here and hopefully this could help others with digestive issues of their own!

Let’s start in high school when my tummy really started to affect my everyday life. As with almost everyone, starting high school was a scary and stressful time for me. I was going to change schools and leave most of my friends behind to start fresh at a very nice private school about 45mins away from home. This process made me feel very uneasy and stressed which led to major intestinal discomfort.

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High School Graduation

I am about to get pretty graphic so beware of TMI hehe…

I woke up every morning somewhat early and was never hungry and almost always nauseous. I ate what I could since Breakfast is the most important meal of the day right? After breakfast, I got dressed and ready for school. Now if I had a bowel movement (and by BM, I mean diarrhea) before leaving the house, that was usually a sign that it was going to be a good day. If not, the stress began early that day, especially since I was about to get on a 45 minute bus ride with no bathrooms… There were no accidents thankfully but some very close calls and very uncomfortable commutes throughout my 5 years of high school.

Once I got to school, my reactions would very between cramps, upset stomach, bloating, gas… anything you can think of. Everyone had 4 classes per day with breaks between each so that helped me. For example,
– English
–     Recess
– Geography
–     Lunch
– Physics
–     Recess
– French.

Usually by the first recess, things would be going pretty well, second class of the day would be best for my stomach because it had digested all of my breakfast, however this is when I started getting really hungry.
Once lunch came around, I was starving. I ate my sandwich, fruits/snacks/desserts and my stomach started to grumble. This still happens today when I don’t eat lunch at home. No pain, just loud, and I can feel my intestines trying to digest everything I just ate. At school after lunch, our schedule would rotate between 3 options.

  1. Study hall to work on homework or visit with teachers to ask questions
  2. Study hall to have a meeting to talk about behaviour and upcoming events
  3. Sports.

All of the above were mandatory; and if you were not sitting behind your desk in study hall or ready in your sports uniform when the second bell rang, you would get a warning or lunch detention and eventually have to stay after school for night detention.
There were about 200 students in our grade and when we had meetings in the study hall, everyone was present.

One day after lunch, I wasn’t feeling too fresh but the first bell rang and I had 5 minutes to be sitting at my desk in study hall with all the other students so I hurried to my desk on the second floor and hoped for the best. As I sat there listening to the instructor I felt my stomach start to grumble in a very bad way. It was getting worse and traveling lower and lower down my intestines. I tried to ignore it, started to rub my belly and take deep breaths but it wasn’t going anywhere but out and there was no stopping it. The guy next to me asked me if I was alright, probably because I was starting to look a little pale. I replied: no… I’m going to the bathroom!
I stood up in front of everyone and left the room praying that i’d make it downstairs to the bathroom without anyone stopping me or telling me to return to my seat.
I made it 🙂

I think this is when I started to realize that this is not how you are supposed to feel on a regular basis. You aren’t supposed to have tummy aches and diarrhea every day! I had been telling my parents about it for a while and they weren’t ignoring me they just didn’t know how to proceed.

So we made an appointment with my paediatrician who told me to cut dairy out of my diet. I did that for a little bit but saw zero improvement so I went back and the Dr. suggested that I try again but removing Gluten from my diet instead. If you are not familiar with Gluten, it’s in pretty much everything and gluten free foods are 2-3 times the price of regular foods… So I was pretty bummed and I still wasn’t seeing any substantial results so I quit that too and returned to eating everything.

I was becoming more used to my condition and learning how to deal with it the best way I could, not eating certain foods in certain situations when I wasn’t home. When I was home, I would indulge in whatever I wanted knowing I was in the comfort of my own home with access to 4 bathrooms at all times.

I live in Quebec and after high school (grade 7-11) the next step is usually CEGEP (2-3 years), then University (3-4 years). I started CEGEP and that was a new kind of stress because I was changing schools again and going to an English school for the first time. One awesome thing of the CEGEP I went to is that you can make your own schedule and there are no more 8:30-4pm days. I wasn’t always able to get 4 day weeks but even if I had to be there everyday, sometimes I only had 1 class during the day.

I started taking birth control my first semester of CEGEP and this did not change anything with my digestion (Not better/Not worse).

I started swimming competitively when I was 9 years old and once I graduated high school I thought I was going to stop competing because I never really liked it and my stomach made it hard for me to complete a 75 minute practice without escaping to the bathroom at least once. But an old swimming friend of mine convinced me to try out for the swim team in CEGEP and I kept competing for another 2 years. I was even one of the captains my second year!

My stomach wasn’t getting any better and I was starting to get annoyed so I decided to have more tests done. I was now 18 so I changed doctors and was no seeing our family Doc. He wrote me referrals for multiple tests:
– Blood test
– Allergy tests on skin
– ultrasound
And I changed my birth control.
The results came back negative/inconclusive.

I waited a little while and started a food journal but I found this to be very challenging because I was writing down every single thing I was eating and the brand to try and find a pattern. Absolutely no pattern appeared. I could eat a sandwich one day and be 100% then eat the exact same thing the next day and have a completely different reaction.

A friend from school was asking about my symptoms one day and told me her stepmom has similar reactions when not at home. Her stepmom would take probiotics which seemed to help her so I talked to my doctor about it and we decided to give it a shot. I was taking Probaclac once daily before bed. This looked like it was helping at first but only a tiny bit.

My doctor decided to move away so I met with a new doctor, explained my situation and he set me up with more blood tests, a referral to see a gastroenterologist, and made me get another ultrasound and get an upper gastrointestinal series or Upper GI.
blog upper giThis test was terrifying because of the way it looked but I knew it had to be done, so I swallowed the cup of beads and let the specialist X-ray my insides.

Again, these tests had little to no results. I found out that I have Acid Reflux. This is what was making me feel nauseous. I started taking Tums and Gaviscone for the nausea and chewing Gin gins. This helped my nausea but not my intestines and upset stomach. The gastro specialist just told me I probably have IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome) but to keep living a normal life and to not restrict my diet and eventually if it kept getting worse to get a colonoscopy. Colonoscopies are very invasive so the specialist and my doctor didn’t feel the need for me to have one done at this time.

I continued to live my life. My family and bf knew when my belly was acting up because it affected my whole body physically and mentally. I became grumpy, defensive and would snap at anyone that looked at me the wrong way. This started to put a strain on my relationship. My boyfriend was extremely patient with me but would get frustrated when I couldn’t go out to eat or needed a bathroom soon after leaving the house.

My grandfather got a new doctor and said he was young and fresh out of school and seemed to know what he was doing and having only been with older doctors I thought it was time for a change again and this doctor was much closer to home, so I made the switch. As with all the other doctors, I was assigned blood work and a full physical to see what he was working with 😉
He changed my birth control pills and referred me to a nutrionist that I saw twice on the basis that I had IBS. She gave me literature on digestive issues, including lactose intolerance, Celiac disease (gluten intolerance) and a page with FODMAPs. This is a list of foods to consume and avoid when you have IBS.
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I followed the Low FODMAP diet to a T and found that it was helping but not 100 and I wasn’t satisfied with the results. I knew this was not as good as it was gonna get. I finished my birth control pack for the month and did not start a new one. I stopped taking my probiotics and thought that maybe I needed to clean out my system and let my body rest from chemicals.

I was going through all my medical papers one day when I stumbled upon an old referral for a test that I never had done. It was for Hydrogen breath tests.

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The referrals were expired so I brought them to my current doctor and he gave me new ones.
These tests are designed to measure the absorption of sugars in your intestines. The tests will give you an answer black or white, you are tolerant or intolerant, there is no grey area.
I did 3. Lactose first which came back…… TOLERANT! I was relieved but bummed at the same time because I still didn’t know what was causing me discomfort.
I can’t remember if my second test was Fructose or Sucrose, either way it came back….. TOLERANT!
Now These tests take 3 hours each and you need to fast about 8 hours before and wait 2-3 days between tests. So I was going back and forth to this private clinic, once again getting no results, just eliminating more tests.
I was going to cancel the 3rd test because I was tired of going through the procedure and what even is Sorbitol?? Am I right!
But I wasn’t going to be a baby and I was getting desperate for answers so I prepped for my last test: Sorbitol.
I was starting to become pretty close to the nurse in charge of the testing since we spent a total of 9 hours together…smh
Once the 3 hour test was done, I said my goodbyes to Teresa, the nurse, and went home to wait for my phone call with the results. Expecting a third and final “Tolerant”, I had to ask the receptionist to repeat herself when the phone call arrived. “You are INTOLERANT to Sorbitol” She said.
“Did you say IN-tolerant?” I asked
“That is correct”
“Ok, thank you very much”, I hung up the phone and stood there in shock. Did I finally just find out what’s wrong with me?
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I am very careful with my sorbitol intake, meaning I don’t ingest it at all. It’s not easy but it’s not as hard as when I was on a gluten free diet. The hardest part is finding sorbitol in many things other than food. It is a natural sugar found in certain fruits and vegetables but it is also artificially made to replace sugar in diet sodas and sugar-free products like gum. Sorbitol is often the sweet coating around drugs like Tylenol. It can be found in almost every type of toothpaste, and cough syrup. I just recently read the ingredients of my shaving cream and found that there is sorbitol in one of the brands I was using.

Click here to see a list of foods to avoid: 
Sorbitol_table_english

I am not sure how it affects me through the skin but i’d rather not take any chances.

Things are going really well for me now. I am still not 100% all the time but is anyone?
I have many more good days now than I used to and I’ve started to travel more and go out with friends to eat food which I was always scared to do before.

I really hope this can help other tummy sufferers out there and please don’t be shy to ask me any questions! Never Give Up! Persevere and don’t let the negativity overcome you and take over your life. If something is wrong, fix it. Do whatever it takes to find a solution 🙂

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Fruit Crisp (Gluten Free)

I was in the mood for something yummy and I’ve always enjoyed a good apple crisp so I decided to try one I found on Pinterest. We only had a few apples so I decided to add some pears and other frozen berries I had in the freezer. I adapted the recipe so it was Gluten free. The crisp I made just finished baking and is now cooling down but the house smells like heaven and I can’t wait to try it with my family tonight for dessert! On top of that, my dad went food shopping this weekend and saw some lactose free ice cream from a brand I like and that uses coconut milk so it’s real creamy 😉 That will be perfect on top of my fruit crisp!!!!

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That is the list of ingredients. As you can see from my picture of the ingredients I used, there are some differences. I like to edit recipes a little to use things I have at home while still trying to stick to the original plan.
It asks for 4 apples, I used 1 so I needed to make up for the other 3 by adding more pears and I wanted to add blueberries which were not in the original recipe.
Also, I don’t have oranges right now (or I’m just blind and couldn’t find any) so I used clementines or tangerines or wtv those mini oranges are called, for the orange zest and Tropicana orange juice with pulp for the freshly squeezed orange juice.
No idea what apple pie spice is and couldn’t find any in my spice rack so I just didn’t put anything for that ingredient and it’s only 1 teaspoon so I didn’t think it would be a big deal… Hopefully I’m not wrong, we’ll have to wait and see later!

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The topping part is where the gluten free substitutes were needed as I don’t consume Gluten.
I replaced the flour with Gluten-free All Purpose flour
And the oats with gluten free oats.
Both of those GF ingredients are from the same brand, Bob’s Red Mill.

Once you have all of your ingredients, start by peeling and slicing your fruit into wedges. I only needed to peel 1 apple and I used canned pears so I sliced those into wedges then cut the wedges in half.

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After peeling and measuring your berries into a large bowl, get your lemon and “orange” zest then 2 Tablespoons of juice from each and add to the bowl with your sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and apple pie spice if you have that…

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Mix everything and pour into large pan evenly.
This is when you should turn your oven on if you’re slow like I am and getting my ingredients together. 350 degrees
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Now mix all of your dry ingredients for the topping together in a large mixing bowl and cut the COLD butter into very small cubes and add to the dry mixture and mix in a food processor or mixer thing like in the picture 😉

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Once the butter is blended into tiny little pea shaped balls, add the mixture on top of your fruit medley evenly over the top. I used my hands to distribute.
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Now throw that whole thing in the oven for 60 minutes or until the top is browned and slightly crisp, hence the name of the dish 😉

This is what my final product looks like, and I just tried a spoonful while it’s cooling down, it’s yummy!

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I was getting worried watching it bake because the juices from the fruit were coming through the topping and I was afraid it would just all seep through and become a big pan of fruit granola type thing. I believe this happened because I used much more frozen fruit than directed and my pears were from a can, so very juicy. It might have a little to do with the gluten free flour as well, not sure how that affects the recipe’s concentration but the flavor is definitely there!
Go forth and try your own fruit crumble/crisps and let me know how they turn out!

At Home Spa Day

2015-03-17 13.44.00Today, I felt like trying out my first at home diy facial. I have a fashion show tomorrow night and I wanted to prepare my skin for the 10lbs of makeup it was going to receive. I have naturally very dry and sensitive skin and I found a facial that was for sensitive skin and I had all 2 ingredients so I decided to try that one!

To find a facial, I searched: DIY Facial, on Pinterest and found a site that had several different facials all with a base of raw honey. I always have honey at home so I clicked the link to see what the facial was for. The site had many different kinds for different purposes: acne prone skin, anti-aging… I went straight for the sensitive skin one and lucky for me, the two ingredients were honey and Aloe Vera gel which we also always have at home for sunburns in the summer (I’m a lifeguard so that happens more than I would like).

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I mixed 2 teaspoons of honey with 1 teaspoon of Aloe gel and spread it all over my face, except for my eyes of course and let it sit there for just over 10 mins.
For the added spa feel, I cut two slices of cucumber and put them on my eyes until my dog kept trying to eat them. I gave up and gave them to him…

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Once the 10 minutes were up, I rinsed my face in the sink with warm water and patted it dry with a towel.

Feeling my face now, I have to say it’s soft but pretty dry. My skin is tight when I try to move it. Still gonna need to add my daily moisturizer but overall a nice and super easy DIY facial. Honestly I should have done the facial for dry skin but I didn’t have any plain yogurt and I didn’t want to use an avocado for that… hehe

Here is the link for the other raw honey facials if you wanna try one out!
4 Honey Masks

Enjoy!

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Quinoa pasta with tomato sauce

I was feeling a little lazy today for lunch and didn’t want to spend 2 hours making something extravagant and have to clean up a bunch of stuff after but I still felt like something comforting and warm.

I went into my pantry and saw my favorite gluten free pasta, so i grabbed that. Looked in the fridge and grabbed some veggies and protein to add to my pasta and some very basic tomato sauce and put it all together!

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Start by boiling your water and add your favorite pasta. My dad just picked up a huge bag of mine at Costco, Go Go Quinoa, it’s gluten free and Vegan. Best tasting gluten free pasta I’ve tried. And my belly likes it too! Go Go Quinoa is an amazing brand. They have many types of pastas and so many other products that are just as healthy, tummy friendly and yummy. I live in Montreal so I buy my pasta at any regular supermarket usually in the organic/gluten free section or as my dad just discovered, at Costco!
This pasta doesn’t take long to boil, on the wrapper it says 10 minutes to boil I believe but I find 8 minutes is more than enough, less if you want your pasta al dente.
Once the pasta is ready, strain all the water out right away. Don’t leave it sitting in its water or it gets very soft and smooshy.

In my fridge today I saw green pepper and green beans so that’s what I put in my sauce but feel free to experiment with other vegetables, such as spinach, mushrooms, etc. As you can see in the picture, I cut up all the veggies into very small pieces and through them into a hot pan with olive oil.
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Once the greens were slightly cooked and warm, I added some chunks of leftover roast pork from a previous dinner we had. and warmed all that up and added the tomato sauce.

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I like this brand of tomato sauce because it already has some flavor blended into it and yet it still has a very basic recipe which can be adapted to your recipe. I like to add a little bit of salt, pepper and some oregano. I like to keep it simple 😉

When the sauce is hot and ready to mix, I mix everything together and serve!
I will sometimes add lactose free cheese on top to melt but I wasn’t feeling it today so I left that out. Here’s what it looks like all together and it was delicious BTW!
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Bon appetit mes amis 🙂

Kale Chips and Tuna Salad

For lunch today I decided to try something I’ve been wanting to try for a while…

Kale Chips!

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I went on Pinterest and found a super simple recipe for very basic style Kale chips:

Set your oven to 400
take some Fresh Kale – As much as you want, spread it out on a pan
Drizzle Olive oil over the whole thing and sprinkle some salt (sea salt or regular, I prefer regular cuz I don’t like biting into a huge chunk of salt)
And cook for 10-15 mins until the Kale is Crispayyyy.

I’m going to be honest and say that after trying this new “recipe” I’m not crazy for it. I ate a few pieces and that was enough. I usually only eat Kale mixed into a smoothie with pineapple and juice so this is definitely a different way to eat Kale. But I do encourage you to try the kale chips because kale is a great leafy vegetable with a lot of nutrients, so it’s worth a try!

My main dish for lunch was a tuna salad sandwich on Gluten Free white bread.

I use canned, flaked light tuna in water and after draining the excess water I mix it in a bowl with some mayo and relish, salt and pepper. You can also add red onions or shallots and lemon juice, fresh dill pickles diced very small to replace the relish but I find relish to be much easier.

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Of course I don’t eat gluten so I toasted my gluten free Glutino brand bread and ate my lunch as more of an open-faced sandwich as you can see in the picture.

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Keep an eye out for my video posts, mostly fashion related, only 2 videos so far but more on the way soon!

Prepping for Fashion

A very good friend of mine is studying professional photography and has asked me to be her model tomorrow and next Thursday for a Vogue cover shoot assignment!

Of course I was thrilled, I love modelling and getting my hair and makeup done by professionals, I always learn so much… Tips for applying makeup and hair products to use, etc.

I have done photo shoots before, as I am currently signed with a modelling agency in Montreal, so I have experience with photo shoots. This post will be all about getting ready for a photo shoot for those of you interested in modelling and want to know how it all works. I will try to upload a video as well, a little bit later on with some sneak peaks at the photo shoot itself and what it looks like on set.

The first list will be things to do before the shoot to get ready:

1) Plan Your Route.
You need to check out the destination ahead of time and plan your route. I use Google Maps on my phone as a GPS and map out my trajectory the night before so I know how much time I have to get there. Don’t forget to consider traffic depending on what time you need to be there. Also leave time to find parking, if you plan to take your car.

2) Shower.
Shower and wash your hair the day before.  Sometimes you will be asked to arrive with 2 day old hair because it holds better. But 2 day old hair doesn’t mean you don’t shower 3 days before. You should arrive fresh and clean, so shower the night before or morning of just with a shower cap 😉 Also, you should have your hair natural unless specified otherwise.

3) Shave.
Nobody likes a nice girl to arrive on set and when raising her arms, everyone sees her hairy armpits… Maybe in Europe, but for photo shoots, arrive freshly shaved or waxed all over. Because you don’t always know what you’ll be wearing. You don’t want to be stuck in an uncomfortable situation when given a bathing suit or lingerie to put on and you forgot to do you bikini zone…

4) Clean Nails.
Don’t plan to get a Mani-pedi prior to a photo shoot because you don’t know what they will want for your nails. You could arrive with a nice, newly done french manicure and they want to paint all your nails red… :S Most of the time, the nails are an after thought if the photo shoot is for clothing, so just arrive with clean nails, no polish. They might add polish during hair and makeup.

5) Hydrate.
When applying makeup, the artist needs well moisturized skin. This can be achieved by drinking a lot of water in the days leading up to the shoot and applying a good moisturizing lotion. Drinking lots of water can have other benefits. Your skin will be healthier looking with a natural glow. Plus, nobody wants a model to faint on set because they were dehydrated.

6) No Extras.
Do not arrive with makeup on, this makes more work for the makeup artist. They want to start with a blank canvas. If you are coming from work or somewhere and did not get a chance to remove your makeup (it happens) try to remember to bring makeup remover with you, or tell the makeup artist and apologize.
No perfume or body mist. You will NOT be keeping the clothes used for the photo shoot so it is important to return them as you received them: Clean and odor free.
Deodorant should be clear or gel for the same reasons as the perfume. No odors and no white stripes on the clothing.

7) Sleep.
It’s never a good idea to go out and party late the night before a shoot. Stay home, read a book, watch tv and go to bed at a reasonable hour to have a good nights rest. This will eliminate black circles under the eyes and give you the energy you need to concentrate through the shoot.

Here is a list of things to bring with you:

1) Undergarments
You should always arrive wearing nude/skin color undergarments and bring options: strapless bra, solid color black, thong…

                        

2) Food and Water.
Sometimes you will be provided with snacks and water but not always. To be prepared, I always carry a water bottle in my purse wherever I go. Since I have a somewhat strange diet now, I will bring myself a lunch and many snacks. You should always bring yourself a few snacks just in case. You can always ask prior to the event if you will be provided a lunch or time to go out and get yourself something to eat.

3) Shoes.
I will often bring a pair of plain black heels. This is something that would be specified by whoever you will be working with. It is important to bring comfortable shoes to wear while not on set, because sometimes you will be stuck wearing very uncomfortable shoes for a long time. It’s nice to have something comfortable to put on after it’s over.

4) Dress nicely.
You know when your mom would say to you: “What are you wearing? This is not a fashion show!” Well this is. Not a fashion show but part of the fashion industry. You are representing yourself as a product and if you’re with an agency, you are representing them. It is crucial to look professional and to fit in with the fashion crowd. Of course, like with the shoes, you need to be comfortable and clothes that are easy to take off and put on. I don’t suggest stockings/leotards…

    Street Style London For Spring

Good luck at your next shoot! Werk it 😉

Elvis Breakfast

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Today’s breakfast is based on a classic.

A food combination made famous by Elvis… Peanut butter and banana sandwich.

Of course my bread is gluten free, multigrain Glutino brand.

I have found that with gluten free bread, it has to be toasted before consuming or it is very crumbly and dry. Once toasted, it tastes just like regular bread.

When the toast is ready, I spread a generous amount of peanut butter all over each slice. I use Kirkland brand. You can find this at Costco, but any peanut butter works, or you can even swap the peanut for almond of cashew butter for a change.

Then slice the banana and place it on top and enjoy!

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My dog, Finn, loves banana so I always share a few pieces with him 🙂

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