Debunking the Gluten-Free Fad

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Here is a gluten-free champagne cupcake that I made with champagne frosting and homemade chocolate art. Ok, now we can get started ^_^

What is this new gluten-free craze? Is it just a health fad? Does it work?

Until about a year ago I was a little fed up with the gluten-free craze because it seemed to be getting a bit out of hand. I mean, I knew there were people who just couldn’t have it–one of my best friends had to avoid anything with gluten or dairy like the plague or she’d get pretty sick. However, there were other girls who seem to just be following along with the latest fad. It reminded me of the no-carrots-because-they-make-you-fat fad… a little unnecessary, I thought.

Then I went to the doctor’s due to what I assumed was a thyroid problem. I had my laundry list of stomach aches, headaches, fatigue, nausea and more. I don’t know exactly what I was expecting the doctor to prescribe, but she surprised me by telling me to eliminate gluten. I wasn’t thrilled–pizza is the main food group, and I love dessert like nobody’s business. On top of that, I had not been diagnosed with Celiac Disease. I was told that I had a “gluten sensitivity.” Which is frankly a little awkward–isn’t that just a name for someone who wants to justify following the gluten-free trend? I was, however,  pretty tired of the exhaustion and stomach pains so I was ready to give anything a try. Was going gluten-free going to make me feel better?

A little research shows… that about 1.8 million Americans have Celiac Disease. When it comes to people diagnosed with Celiac Disease the answer is pretty clear. But cases like mine aren’t clear at all. I don’t have Celiac, should I really be eliminating gluten? I decided to at least give it a try, so I hopped headlong into the gluten-free mania, a little embarrassed (I don’t like following the latest health trends because it makes me feel gullible) but more hopeful than anything else. Is this just a fad?

A little more research shows… that gluten-free products have skyrocketed. Compare .9 billion dollars of sales in 2006 to the 10.5 billion dollars of sales in 2015. Even things that are naturally gluten-free try to jump on the money making trend by adding extra labeling. Yogurt, rice, water–its always been gluten-free but now its just advertised more. To some extent, it is admittedly a fad–it’s like the fads of the past where people feared fat, sugar, or carbs to the extreme. It is a wonderful money-making opportunity, but removing gluten from my own diet made me really think about how this trend may be a little more complicated than previous ones. This may be a fad but is it a lie? Are gluten-free diets going to help people?

So how did I feel once I eliminated gluten? I felt immensely better (after I finally got enough self-control to stop eating all my favorite foods… it took a while to get there). I am all for healthy eating and usually roll my eyes at fads but here are some things I learned about the latest trend through my own health foods journey.

There are two sides to the fad. 

There are an abundance of gluten-free cookies, cakes, pastas, and beer that are fantastic for those with Celiac Disease. These products allow people who can’t have their favorite foods anymore to at least enjoy replicas of them. Its pretty creative and fantastic. However, if you don’t have Celiac Disease and eat these foods the results could actually be quite harmful. Normal foods have nutrients and fiber that gluten-free products switch out for more sugars. Doing this long-term can be detrimental to a person’s health if they don’t have Celiac Disease.

What about all those athletes and movie stars who swear a gluten-free diet is their savior? Well, lets talk about the other side of the “fad.”

Cutting out processed foods like cake, pizza, and beer is going to help anyone, gluten-sensitive or not. If, that is, you substitute them with fresh fruits, veggies, lean meats… you know the drill. Even the gluten-free treats I bake are composed of things like almond flour, ripe bananas, and oatmeal and leave me feeling great for obvious reasons. They are made with ridiculously healthy ingredients. If someone chooses to make the diet switch to this, its going to make a difference. I know a lot of athletes whose diets could be labeled “gluten-free” but really they are just being healthy.

So can it work? 

It can if you are doing it right. Cutting most of the processed foods out of my life has eliminated health problems I didn’t even think about. Not only did the stomach pains vanish but the faint headaches I didn’t really notice before. Now I don’t get sick as easily either. I stopped getting sore throats every week which I just thought happened when you ate. If you have a gluten sensitivity, I think going gluten-free may really be worth the inconvenience. Gluten-free bread doesn’t make my throat scratchy like most other breads would. I never really knew that was an option.

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Some days you want something special and delicious without getting sick… like cupcakes on Valentine’s Day. It’s important.

What about the Placebo Effect? 

Such a valid question. If I didn’t know it had gluten in it, would I still think it gave me a sore throat? Would I still think that it gave me a stomach ache?

Once I had been doing so well I decided my body must have healed and ate gluten, dead sure that I was over the whole no gluten thing. Plus, I just really wanted a pancake. I got sick. Now over a year later I can have a slice of pizza or cake and it’s fine. But any time I try to push it… it just doesn’t work. I wish it were a placebo effect but I’m not so sure. I have gotten sick from things that I thought didn’t have gluten in them when they really did. I cut out gluten and all the negative symptoms fade away.

Underneath the fad I had often laughed at, there is actually an incredible health solution that I’m grateful to have found. The gluten-free issue is a bit complicated by looking at all those who continue to eat bread, beer, and pizza. However, people who cut all the harmful processed foods from their diet may be really onto something. This gluten-free craze could be pointless f you don’t have Celiac Disease, but it can also be pretty life-changing in a good way.

So there’s the gluten-free fad for you–still a bit trendy but with a real solution underneath. It can make a person healthier but ultimately its up to them and how they chose to approach it.

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Putting Simple Back in Super

Once upon a time, Superman lifting up a car blew peoples freakin minds. He lifted a car! A car! Who does that?? It’s hard to even push a car. Not today! Today cars in movies explode like Grenades and are about as easy for heroes and villains to throw. When the modern audience sees cars as props in current films with super beings, they expect the scene to be epic and unique in order to impress. I’m one of these people, I like my movies fast pace and explosive, I admit it.

BUT, I really like the idea of a simpler time when superheroes lifting a car was enough.

This may be largely due to the fact that I am realizing how far I have to go to become super (I’m pretty far from lifting a car and a lot, LOT farther from throwing it like a grenade). If I’m gonna be super, I don’t mind if the bar isn’t quite so high.

So, the other day I decided to slow down and simplify life. In honor of the good old days when lifting a car was enough, I pushed a car around the block with my brother. And sweat a lot.

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If we hit any patch of ground that inclined a fraction I was stuck. Everything was sore afterwards. A couple of my neighbors were confused. (Most neighbors expect this kind of  behavior from us though and were probably surprised we weren’t doing anything weirder.) The car metal got hot. It was a constant struggle.

It was awesome!!!!

I felt like I was taking a very real step towards being super and I loved every second of it. This is the kind of fitness I want to stick with. The kind that is worth doing just for itself because it’s totally awesome and fun. I want to push the car because it makes me feel like oddly like a hero, and I love that it also gets me in shape! I guess that’s just one more step towards being Wonder Woman!

Making Quitter’s Month a Good Month

So, on this blog I talk a lot about the importance of dreaming and having ambitions, and I have let you in on some of my own personal goals and dreams, hoping that you can relate, be inspired by, or sympathize with me.

A lot of people make goals or resolutions. A lot of people fail too. If I was reading my story, I would be wondering if I make it. Oh, wait, I am reading my story, or at least watching it unfold just like you are. and I am wondering how I will make it. (By the way, you are watching your own story as well (and are probably the main character of it often times to) and you shouldn’t let yourself down as the reader or the character.)

So here is the update on how my New Years Resolutions are going and how my epic quest is going.

New Years Goals

1. Languages are on both the epic quest list and were my New Years Resolutions and thanks to Duolingo my fluency in Spanish, Italian, and German is growing closer each day. Do you have a language goal? Check duolingo out or even better, tell me what you do to reach your goals.

2. Lose 15 lbs. Already lost 5 of them. Check out http://www.dietbetter.com/ if you want to see what worked for me this January. I am looking at doing Farrell’s Extreme Bodyshaping for my next project not because I am particularly extreme but because I like boxing and they do that for cardio 🙂 Why am I doing programs like dietbet and Farrell’s? I like to have short term goals not just vaguely say “weight loss” because I don’t really care about the weight so much as the feeling I get when I’m strong and energetic and lean! 🙂 Everyone likes being healthy, what do you do to get healthier?

3. Do a handstand was my third resolution. That was not the focus as much last month but it will be this upcoming month or two 🙂 (If you can already do a handstand I’m jealous and if you can’t you should put it on your resolutions list because why not?)

4. Pray a 1/2 hour a day. I have actually been doing an hour. I really need the silence in my crazy life and its been amazing!! 🙂

5. Article published yet? Nope. Just stewing over ideas still.

So over all, not terrible. The year is just starting and I’ve already begun making progress. The trick is not to quit now that quitter’s month has begun (Poor February, the month of quitters and of a holiday which nobody but me seems to like (aka Valentine’s Day).) It’s actually a time to start a new project and keep working towards your goals.

And as a sort of P.S….

How is my epic quest going?

I have gained 4 points so far (+2 for losing 5lbs and +2 for completing a small personal work out challenge). 50 points completes a level so I’ve got a long ways to go (and miles to go before I sleep… and miles to go before I sleep…).

 

How to Make a Real Resolution

Some people laugh at them as pre-failed attempts: New Year’s Resolutions. I personally like them. I think that having a goal for a year often does help me and probably helps others (even if it is for a sadly short period of time). So let’s talk about how to make a real resolution: one that really matters and one that you are actually going to do.

First, I always like to start by looking back. Before we leave the old year completely, lets think about what mattered this year. What memories stick out the most in your head? What things really impacted you as beautiful or meaningful moments in your life?

Here are my top five memories from 2014:

1. Last New Years Eve/Day….that’s not cheating right? It was under the Eiffel Tower with little fireworks exploding around me and my friends while we drank champagne and shouted Bonne Année (Happy New Year) at the swarms of happy (and often drunk) people passing by. It was an amazing book end for an amazing year.

2. My Last night in Rome, my last moment’s looks at St. Peter’s Basilica to be exact. A place so crazy, famous, and beautiful had been home for me since the first moment I saw it. Yes, it was painful to leave but it was because I loved where I was so much. Whenever I am horribly romesick I can’t help but also be incredibly grateful as well-the entire four months there was magic and made me who I am. Its cheesy and 100% true.

3. Singing at a park at midnight with some amazing friends. It was 11:30pm on muggy summer night when the stars were shining that me and some of my friends decided to go to the park. It’s against social norms to go there at age 22 unless you take a small child as an excuse but if you go when no one else is awake no one cares. We climbed things, we ran around, and we sang whatever songs came to our heads (from Phantom of the Opera to Frozen). In other words, we were little kids again and it was awesome.

4. Reading An Ideal Husband at the Wilde Roast. Oscar Wilde did not fail to amuse me and reading the play aloud with the best cast of friends was perfect. And once the restaurant closed (notice that it was Oscar Wilde themed? it was just too perfect!) we went outside into the cool summer night and sat perched high up on a stone ledge sandwiched between a gothic style church and a glittering city skyscraper reading quality literature and laughing at the jokes made by a great author. It was fantastic!

5. Making gingerbread with my family. This one is really quite simple but really important. It happened just a little bit ago. Fresh baked gingerbread + homemade caramels + family + laughter till you’re sore from it. . And that is pretty much all you need to make something really really beautiful.

Some things I learned from it all is that starlight makes things magical, beauty can give you strength, and dreams can be fulfilled – you just have to work your heart out to give your heart what you want.

And with that in mind, here are my five resolutions:

1. Learn three languages. Perhaps not fluently but substantially would be nice. I already know a decent amount of German, Spanish, and Italian so really this is just a resolution to keep studying them and trying to be a little more serious about it so that the next time I travel I will be a little more proficient.

2. Lose 15 lbs of college weight. I’m pretty happy where I am but this one is a classic so why not add it to the list of resolutions?

3. Do a handstand. I love to hip hop dance and I can’t do a handstand which is a bit of a travesty. So I am going to fix that. I have already started working towards this and its tough but I’m pretty confident it will happen before the end of the year.

4. Pray 1/2 hour a day. I want to better every part of me–mind, body, and soul.

5. Get an article published. I have been really working on editing and writing more articles. It’s a lot of work and reading through articles for hours has made me realize that if I want to get published I have to step up my game. So that is what I am going to do.

So those are my resolutions. What are yours? Look at last year to see what you would want to do better, or what you couldn’t imagine missing from your life.

My year has been a combination of 65 hours+ work weeks that pushed me to my limit and a plethora of childhood/big dreams becoming a realities that are now treasured memories. 2015…. bring it on! 🙂

Five Pinterest Points

As a girl who spends all my a substantial amount of time pinning things… I feel that a defense is necessary. It’s top five friday so I’ll list five reasons that a girl should spend her time pinning things on her board.

1. Pinterest is inspiring. I always want to work out and do crafts after being on my board. Not that I always follow through but if I ever need inspiration, its there.

2. Is like a cookbook. If double chocolate peanut butter cake exists, I want to know. Wouldn’t you?

3. It’s great for story ideas! And as a writer, that is important.

4. You can connect with other people in your fandom. I am able to bond with other like minded people in our obsession over Benedict Cumberbatch, Tangled, and Narnia.

5.  It can add some humor to your life. As a college student, I find it part of my duty to keep my mental health at least in part intact. I do this by adding laughter to crazy days.

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If you want to follow me feel free:) I’ll probably follow you right back! 🙂

Top 5: Chocoholic Frolic

Chocoholic Frolic: that’s a thing? Yes. It’s an awesome thing!

It’s a 5k that some friends and I ran this morning and I am going to tell you the top 5 facts about it, so you will be inspired to go run and eat chocolate! Not that, you know, anyone needs inspiration to eat chocolate but maybe to run;) Here are five things you should know, if you don’t already, that will allow you to have your own chocoholic frolic:

1. New running shoes helped! c26-B0056E63UQ-1-lWhat kind of running shoes do you like? I just got the new aspics gel kayano 18 and they are not only the best running shoe ever but the cutest! Score:)

2. Pinterest is not only a time killer but a life saver with amazing healthy chocolate recipes. Yes chocolate can be healthy ( No, I mean beyond being necessary for mental health like normal, it can actually be healthy to eat after running!) Here are the cupcakes my friend and I made which are filled with zucchini and apple sauce and peanut butter :

choc cup cake

And by the way, my pinterest name is just my name: Jacqueline Lucca if you were interested in following…

3. Run with people. Because it’s way more fun that way! And having someone who is good at pacing is an extra plus and guarantee  you will run faster.

4. Do it in a pretty spot outside. I don’t know about you but I am a baby when it comes to cold! So that’s my excuse for not having run outside this year at all…till today. And boy, I have been missing out! It’s gorgeous:) And it was by a lake so it was beautiful!!

5. Frolic. I mean, you can’t call it a chocoholic frolic unless your frolicking. I don’t mean you have to skip the whole 3.1 miles but have a lot of fun with it. From this day forward I will call every run I go on a frolic just because I can:)

A chocolate fountain in Brussels

By the way yes they did have a chocolate fountain at the end which you could dip all your fruit, oreos, and other chocolate in. And they had chocolate milk at the water stops/finish line. Let’s just say…its been a REALLY good day:)

 

The Geeky To-Do-For-Fun List

It’s spring break!!:)

Which means I get to catch up on homework. But also means that I get to do what I want with a little more of my time. I don’t know about you but whenever I have extra time I create a great big list of awesome things to do! So I have a geeky to-do-for-fun list. Do you? 

Over Spring Break I want to….

Memorize a Shakespeare Monologue. A new one…because that would be cool (and in the Top Five Reason’s I Hate Being Literate I commented on how people don’t memorize things enough. I figured I shouldn’t be a hypocrite)

Finish a couple of fun books. I have so many that I haven’t even tried to make a list. I just pick up the one that is closest. I have been reading Erasing Time and am really creeped out/over joyed to find that  I could actually survive in a distopian. Seriously, the character of Sheridan reminds me of myself…a lot.

Finish Griffin Tamer. I have been editing it like crazy and have gotten someone to read over it. The verdict: needs some major revamping but I’m excited to have a new direction to go in. I am going to hash out the characters and draw all the action which was piled at the end and make the beginning more exciting as well:)

Write a spoken word poem. Because…why not? 🙂

Work out. I have a 5k coming up so running important. I also do Jillian Workouts because they make me suffer quickly and efficiently. And I get results:)

Do you have spring plans? Any literary ones or work out ideas I just need to know about?

Happy Spring!!!!!!!

How to Get Results: 30 Day Shred

I am going to give a little review for Jillian Michael’s 30 day shred which I did for the month of January. (Can you believe it’s already February? Let’s be that small % of people who keep going with the New Years Resolutions!)  Of course, the big question: Does The 30 Day Shred Get Results????

What I did:I did the work out at least a couple times a week and ate a little better than normal. It was hard because I have break for all of January which means good times with friends (not exactly conducive with a diet plan) and it’s cold so I hate moving:P

My Results: Dropped a couple pounds and feel much stronger. I was not expecting to get such quick results while being only partially committed, but I’ll take it! The first day was pretty rough but by 6 days into it I was thrilled that I could do everything better already!! The nice thing about it is that it tones you up even if you drop weight slowly, you look and feel stronger pretty quickly. Seriously, it is a 20 minute workout. If you need something that doesn’t suck away your time and money than here is a link to the work out on youtube🙂

My Plan for the Future: Cardio everyday + Ripped in the 30. I have started Jillian Michaels Ripped in 30 and am wonderfully sore today!! So my plan is to only eat healthy food while at school and start taking advantage of our awesome gym by running a couple days a week, biking the other days. This semester is going to be a little busier than the last one (with about 20 hours of work+full time classes+a couple campus clubs+working out+maybe some social life and sleep…) In other words I need a workout which maximizes every second!

Question: Are you keeping up with the New Year’s Resolutions? What have you done to get results with exercising/dieting? Best of Luck on staying Fit and any other resolution you may have had!

Fitness Rebels!!;)

Want to get in/stay in shape? I have a website that you might enjoying knowing about:)

What it is:

A really entertaining/inspirational blog/website on everything you could ever want to know about fitness:) It also has free resources and an awesome community you can join to help you improve your life. Currently I am apart of a challenge to get in better shape…I am still figuring everything out but it’s been a blast so far!:)

So here’s the link:

http://www.nerdfitness.com/blog/

Check it out!

And tell me: what’s your favorite fitness website?

Hey, That’s Not Fair!

Who gets sick in the middle of summer? Really?? Why life? Why? I work all day, I don’t want to be sniffling during that. And this is the end of my summer. I don’t want to be sniffling during the last days with my friends either.

And worst of all: what about my running?? I had such happy little goals and now life is throwing me a punch!

Why am I complaining??

This would be the part of the movie where I get out of bed in slow motion and run hard on the treadmill even though I’m sick. You’d see me at the very end of my work outs, tanned and sweating but going faster than I was at the beginning of the montage. Don’t you ever wish you could have the montage version of your own life? Because I have. Definitely. I’d like to skip those yucky in-between moments just like the directors of movies do and just get the results.

*sigh*

Forget about fair, it’s real life! Here’s to in-between moments!! The ones that suck   get you real results and build character.

“It’s not about what you can and can’t do, it’s about what you will and won’t do.” Kenichi