My Allergy to Life: A Food-Lover’s Testimony

Hello, World.
The time has come to have a serious discussion about the fact that I am allergic to life. Yes, while you get to enjoy focaccia bread, cheese pizza, and normal lattes, I have to order gluten-free, dairy-free everything. The joys of eating a delicious meal are rarely experienced by yours truly. Last March I took a blood test that indicates what does not react well with your body. Initially, I took it because I was beginning to believe I was lactose intolerant, but wasn’t sure. Now, something you should understand about this test is that it is not the test where the put a bunch of things on your back, and it swells and all that stuff. This test simply indicates what reacts negatively to your body within a 24-hour period after consumption. So, my results? I am allergic to everything I used to eat. I am allergic to gluten, yeast, asparagus, dairy, malt, oregano, lemon, orange, olives, grapes, salmon, tuna, and oats. The test, though, gives you stars based on severity of allergy. Gluten and Dairy each has the maximum amount of stars, with the other foods having one or two stars.
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(I am a huge desert person, but as most you probably realize, 90% of good deserts contain either gluten or dairy!)
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For the first few months following receiving my test results, I had a difficult time finding out what to eat. Luckily I live in the Bay Area, so there are a lot of gluten free options (way more than in Chico, where gluten-free is some kind of foreign term). Still, it was hard to be in college, with a meal plan, and finding things to eat. The dining hall, for example, had almost nothing that was both gluten-free and dairy-free. I felt like I was inadvertently anorexic because finding things I could actually eat was so hard, and I was always busy with classes and meetings and a social life. Also, something else that really stressed me out was people’s general lack of understanding. A lot of people, when I order gluten-free or dairy-free, assume I’m on some kind of diet, and while I am restricted in what I can eat, it isn’t necessarily a choice. Cutting out all the things that don’t react well with my body makes it so I actually feel good all the time. As someone who struggled with feeling groggy, uneasy, tired, and nervous I was going to feel sick when out to dinner with friends, my new diet is something I appreciate.
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One of the perks of being gluten free dairy free? I lost twenty pounds. As someone who has always struggled with losing weight, and always felt too big, the weight loss was something that made the transition in diet easier. But again: I am not choosing this diet because I want to lose weigh. I’m choosing it because it makes me feel better, and I feel much more confident 20 pounds lighter. I have been insecure about my weight since about seventh grade, when I started gaining weight and when I moved schools and was a good foot taller than most people. I felt like a giant in every way imaginable, and I never felt good because I ate things that didn’t sit well with me. If only I had known about my allergies then, I wouldn’t feel so bloated all the time. One of the major effects of gluten is bloating, which is one of the reasons people who do choose to diet cut gluten out of their daily intake. I really like being gluten free, dairy free, but sometimes it’s difficult. Like when I go to coffee with a friend and the barista accidentally makes my latte with regular milk instead of soy. Or when I’m out with friends and everyone wants Italian, but the only Italian place close to us doesn’t have gluten free options and I feel famished and really don’t want to just get salad. Or when, perhaps more relevant, when it’s Thanksgiving and my favorite side dishes are green bean casserole and stuffing. Those dishes are definitely NOT gluten free dairy free. But they can be, and most people don’t realize that. So, in the next few weeks I would like to share some recipes that are holiday appropriate that are both gluten free and dairy free. I know that gluten intolerance is being found in more and more people, so it’s nice to discover gluten free food that actually tastes great too. Also, I have biology major as a friend, and he said that most people develop acute lactose intolerance as they age because our bodies naturally have a harder time breaking down lactose as we age. So, maybe going dairy free sometimes wouldn’t be such a bad thing for most people (and cutting down on dairy intake heightens weight loss if you’re interested in that). Anyway, I wanted to share my experience with finding out I needed to completely alter my daily eating, and offer a pre-cursor for all the gluten free dairy free recipes coming you way.

Truly,

Callie Leigh

Note: The food pictures are from my Pinterest, and are not all gluten-free dairy-free, but are meals or deserts that i would like to transform into diet-acceptable foods for myself. The photos of me are a little grainy, but my computer crashed last year so I lost a lot of my good before pictures! 

These Days.

Hello, World.

For the past two weeks, I’ve worked as a Weekend of Welcome leader at Saint Mary’s College, which is why I haven’t been posting as frequently. My schedule has been insane, but Weekend of Welcome (WOW) ends on Monday, and then I will be back posting almost daily. My hiatus was unintentional, and so I wanted to check in to let y’all know that I’m alive and better than ever!

Drinking: A soy chai latte over ice. I basically live off of this drink these days, and given that I’ve gotten up at 5:30am and worked until 11pm the past few days (with all day training for a week and a half before that) I’ve felt pretty tired lately. The caffeine helps get me through work and the day, and without it I’d probably be a zombie, blubbering mess.

Weather: Being back in the bay area, the weather is much more to my liking. There is always a breeze, but the sun offers a blanket of warmth that reminds me that summer hasn’t quite left us yet. I really need to remember sunscreen though, because my job requires being outdoors a lot, and my pale skin is beginning to get a rosy covering.

Reading: Considering I’m currently working as a weekend of welcome leader at Saint Mary’s, the only things I’ve read recently are college forms, schedules, and to-do lists. My days are blurring together, and I’ve tried to read when I get the chance, but my hours are pretty long, and at the end of the day the only thing that I can really think about is bedtime.

Thinking About: The beginning of classes, the end of weekend of welcome, and all the things that lie between. Being a weekend of welcome leader is a truly unparalleled experience. I have met so many amazing, sweet people, and I feel more involved in Saint Mary’s than ever. While I’m really excited for classes to start, I’m a little nervous about the end of WOW because I don’t want to stop seeing all my new friends everyday. I know that classes bring with them stress, homework, and conflicting schedules, and I just hope that I still get to hangout with all the people I’ve met. A lot of change has occurred in my life recently, but I am so content and happy and carefree that I just want to hold onto this feeling and never let it go. I’m utterly content with the people I have in my life right now, and the person I am in this moment, and I hope that the stress of classes and, well, reality, doesn’t change how I’m feeling.

Excited About: Classes, meeting even more first year students, being able to sleep in, and being able to do whatever I want whenever I want!

Missing: I’m content with everything I have and what I don’t have. Let me just say, if I don’t have it anymore, it wasn’t meant to be had.

Addicted to: I’m currently addicted to Saint Mary’s and the beautiful souls found on this campus. Being a WOW leader, I’ve really begun to understand what SMC is all about, and the people that compose its community, and I am addicted to the energy and happiness that permeates this college.

How’s life for you?

Truly,

Callie Coker

Changin’

Hello, World.

I have two full days (counting today) left until I get in my car and drive back to school, and as excited as I am, I’ve been thinking a lot about how much different going to school this year feels. There are so many things that have changed since last August. Some things changed for the better, some for the worse, but alas, the past year of my life has been riddled with change. Last August, I was packing quite chaotically to leave for school, and I consistently reminded people of when I left so that I made sure to see everyone before I was gone. This year, I have been so stressed out that I kind of forgot I actually leave on Sunday. In my mind, I still have time to spend with my family, I still have time to see my friends, and I still have time for last minute packing. Last August, I always had this giddy/nervous feeling in my stomach because I knew I was leaving home, and all the things that were familiar, to start a new chapter of my life with all the lovely gems that are the Saint Mary’s family. . I have this ball in my stomach, a bundle of nerves and excitement, and I know it’s because I have a lot of responsibility waiting for me on campus. I’m going to be a Weekend of Welcome leader for the incoming freshman this year, which is why I’m moving back so early, and this idea is both exciting and nerve-racking. I’m so excited to see my friends, though, and all the people I grew to be so close to in the last year. I feel like I always get a little nervous to see people I haven’t seen in a while, maybe because I fear it’ll be different than I remembered, or maybe I just fear something has changed.

It’s funny to me, though, looking back at all the events that transpired last year, and what the outcome of those events did to shape the person I am now. I feel like unless something obviously major happens, change is subtle. A lot of the time I feel like I’m not actually that different, and things around me aren’t really changing, but then I take a moment to step back and really evaluate my life at a given point, and I realize just how much I’ve lost or gained.

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Change is inevitable, and everything in our lives is basically a crossroads, where we have to make a decision that will carry us in a certain direction. But sometimes the roads are blurry, and they begin to look the same, and it’s impossible to know which road to go down because the outcomes are so frighteningly unknown. Most the time people say that they make a decision because it’s what’s right, or it’s the right thing to do, but how do we really know? We can’t go back and unmake a decision to figure out what would have turned out differently, which is why I think it’s more that you make a decision based on what appears right (but may not actually be right), and then you just go with it, and deal with the outcome when you find it. I think there are two philosophies that people live by, though, when making decisions: 1) choose whatever is going to protect, benefit, or help you and 2) do what you believe to be right, but that also takes in the consideration of others.

Decisions yield change, and I feel like without decisions, we wouldn’t make progress, we would never change course when we need to, we wouldn’t be able to see that the road you chose originally is wrong, and that you should backtrack slightly and take a left instead of a right. The quote from Just One Day, “Sometimes the best way to figure out what you’re supposed to do is doing what you’re not supposed to do,” comes to mind. So, maybe if you’re having trouble what’s “right” do what you think is “wrong,” and see what happens. It may surprise you, it may frighten you, but it may also bring you peace. The scariest thing in life is decisions, but hell, without them you may never know what you’re doing, who you are, or who you want to be. Some food for thought, I suppose. How do you make decisions? Or do you even make them?

Truly,

Callie Leigh 

Before I Kick the Bucket

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Hello, World.

I’ve mentioned on here many times that I am a huge advocate of journaling, but what I haven’t mentioned is how much I love reading through my journals after they’ve been written. I love reading my thoughts about a given situation, person, event, etc., and seeing if my opinion or thoughts have changed. I also love reading through the development of friendships and relationships. The past year has been especially awesome because so many new people have entered my life, and I wrote about almost every single one—the day I met them, the moments we shared, the thoughts I had about whether or not we would be friends, what they meant to me when I wrote about them and what they mean to me now. It’s like watching your life on playback, reliving days you wish you could actually relive, and reading about moments when you were really hurt or upset. One thing I found while going through my journal was a list entitled, “My Bucket List.” I wrote it last summer before I left for school, probably while watching Vampire Diaries, thinking my life was utterly uneventful, and deciding I should do a series of exciting things before I “kick the bucket.” As I was reading through the list, I realized everything on it is a thing I’ve either accomplished within the last year, or still really want to do. But, of course, I have a few additions to the list that have been influenced by events or people from this year. So, here’s my Bucket List 2.0 (my original list with the new additions).

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My Bucket List (as of Summer 2012):

–Marry my best friend/soul mate after I graduate college

–Publish a novel before I’m 30

–Meet someone who inspires me (Sarah Dessen)

–Forgive those who have wronged me

–Love myself each and every day

–Do something crazy, and completely outside my comfort zone

–Overcome a fear

–Be more relaxed

–Befriend someone I do not like

Give someone a second chance

–Get more into music

–Learn to play an instrument (ideally: piano, realistically: guitar)

–Gradate Saint Mary’s with a high GPA

–Go to a top law school

–Help the world

–Be honest even when it’s hard

–Read as many books as possible

–Find love that makes me forget bad things happen, and that I can trust fully each and every day

Summer 2013 additions:

–Learn to surf

–Journal everyday so that I never forget all the little things

–Live on the East Coast for at least 2 years at some point in my life

–Fly First Class

–Go to Ireland, Italy, Greece, France, Bali, and basically every other place I can

–Own a coffee shop

–Win the Undo It Script Contest before I graduate

–Write something that means something to someone

–Become a great photographer

–Be more creative everyday

–Have a really fun, but serious career

–Go paddle boarding

–Learn the dance from Perks of Being a Wallflower with someone, and do it in the middle of a club

–Go to an Irish Pub

–Learn to accept that not everyone is going to like me

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If you could write down all the things you wanted to do before you die, what would be on your list? Are you close to accomplishing your biggest aspirations? If not, you should get up and just…do.

Truly,

Callie Leigh

Summertime Reads

MOON AND MORE

Hello, World.

I’ve been reading The Moon and More by Sarah Dessen for the past few days, and just finished it this morning. This is Sarah’s eleventh novel, and chronicles the summer of Emaline, a local to Colby (the beach town regular readers will recognize from Keeping the Moon, Along for the Ride, and others). Emaline is working for her family’s realty business, and since this is a classic Sarah Dessen summer novel, her entire life path and outlook is morphed by events within the novel. Unlike Sarah Dessen’s other novels, however, the book begins with Emaline already in a relationship, and follows how that relationship is affected by Theo’s entrance, an aspiring filmmaker from New York who is assisting a woman making a film about one of Colby’s own (hint: we’ve seen this character in many of the Colby-based novels).

The Moon and More was a fantastic read, and readers of Sarah Dessen will not be disappointed. For those of you who are used to Sarah’s usual “skeleton” setup, be ready for a bit of a change. Personally, I was excited to see that Sarah’s normal pattern of how events play out in the novels was a little different in this book. A very refreshing read. However, one thing that bothered me was that one of the beach rentals that Emaline manages is named Sand Dollars, but there are a few moments in the book when she refers to this mansion as Sand Castles. I’m pretty sure this is due to a name change that occurred somewhere in the writing or editing process, but was for some reason unnoticed in final edits. Other than that name, though, all of the other relationships and names had consistency. The most intriguing relationships, in my opinion, are between Emaline and her father, Emaline and her mother, and Emaline and her sister Margo.

Not to give anything away, but the mother-daughter relationship in this novel is slightly unusual compared to other Dessen novels, but again, this was a welcomed change. Emaline also had a bit of a different personality from other protagonists, as she is a local to Colby, which this detail in itself is unusual, and she has an outlook that is different from Auden in Along for the Ride, who is an outsider looking into the Colby lifestyle. We get a sense of the feelings of those who have grown up in Colby have about outsiders, summer, the beach, and Colby. I liked Emaline as a protagonist, and she seemed slightly surer of herself than other Dessen leads. In true Sarah Dessen fashion, The Moon and More focuses on how certain choices and events lead to a crossroads, and how in the summertime anything is possible. She also shows that people can just go along, thinking nothing is changing in their lives, until that moment when everything changes all at once.

As far as style, Sarah Dessen is witty, sarcastic, humorous, reflective, and thought provoking. She always has little gems thrown into her stories, making a grander statement about society, family, or just about loving yourself. The thing with Sarah Dessen is this: I started reading her in the seventh grade when I felt alone, insecure, and distraught about fitting in. I may be much more confident today as an 18, almost 19-year-old girl, but she will always have a place in my heart, and I will continue to read whatever book she releases. She always has knockout quotes, and here are a few from The Moon and More that stuck with me:

“…Trying to break it down this way, to minor and major offenses, maybes and what-ifs, was like arguing over the origin of cracks in a broken egg. It was done. How it happened didn’t matter anymore.”

“That was the problem, though. When you’ve never gotten love from someone, you don’t know what it might look like if it ever does appear. You look for it in everything: any bright light overhead could be a star.”

“The thing is, you can’t always have the best of everything.”

My takeaway from this novel: Be thankful for what you have, admire where you come from, accept that not everyone will see things your way, and accept that change can be for the better.

That’s it, folks. A small summary/review of The Moon and More by Sarah Dessen. Go pick up a copy if you haven’t already, and have a great weekend (although in summer, every day feels like the weekend).

Truly,

Callie Leigh