Monthly Archives: February 2014

Tips and Tricks from a Savvy Gluten Free College Grocery Shopper.

Earlier today, Udi’s Gluten Free put out a fantastic post about the top 10 things they’d include in their gluten free grocery guide. So, I thought to myself, “I should totally do the college version!”. First, take a look at Udi’s post here, and hopefully this gluten free college girl can give you a few tips in avoiding what my friends know me for–a 2 hour trip to Meijer, up and down every aisle.

1. Make a list, on paper or in your head, of your staples.

-Okay, so maybe I’m not the best at this one–hence the two hour trips of la-dee-dah throughout the store. But I definitely do know that there are a few things I must get every time I go shopping: Udi’s White Bread, Udi’s Plain Bagels, Philadelphia Whipped Cream Cheese, Yoplait Light Yogurt [all are gluten free!], Dole Banana Orange strawberry Juice, Lactaid Fat Free Milk, Sargento Reduced Fat Colby Jack Cheese Sticks, Sargento Ultra Thin Provolone/Cheddar/Colby Jack Slices, Hilshire Farms Oven Roasted Turkey Breast Deli Meat, Oscar Mayer Reduced Fat Turkey Bacon, Green Beans, Bananas, and Fuji Apples. Eclectic? Of course. Perfect for a college girl? That too.

2. Find the gluten free aisle, as Udi’s mentioned.

-Nearly every grocery store now has an area for gluten free in both the freezer and grocery sections. Are they always labeled? Definitely not.Meijer has their gluten free area in the “Dairy Alternatives” aisle…

3. Don’t forget the protein.

-It’s very easy to get caught up with my favorite Reduced Fat Cape Cod Kettle Chips, some apples, and yogurt, but be sure to stop in the meat/fish area. I avoid deli counters entirely; they’re a cess pool of cross-contamination. However, getting some fresh salmon [which you can even pop in the freezer in a Ziploc!] at the fish counter, or some Tyson Grilled and Ready Chicken Strips for easy dinners is a must.

4. Shop in terms of full meals first, then snacks.

-It’s easy to grab anything gluten free in sight, but be conscious that you’ve planned real meals. If you look at some Udi’s Tortillas, be sure you also grab some chicken, seasoning, and red peppers to make fajitas! [of course, check all ingredients] Shopping in terms of meals eliminates that all-too-often moment of  “Oh, so I have some bread…and an apple…Maybe I’ll just have almond butter and an apple…wait, that’s not a meal…shoot, what am I doing here.”

5. Imagine the power went out from a storm [not uncommon this winter]. Would you have enough to eat for a few days?

-I always ensure that I have enough food that doesn’t need refrigeration in case I get stuck in a tough situation. This means things like almond butter, jars of salsa, chips, dry cereal like Corn Chex [yum!], Gatorade, and other non-microwavable, non-perishables are a must. Especially as a diabetic, you MUST be sure you’ve got enough food on hand, including things with and without lots of sugar.


Hopefully I’ve been a bit helpful for that next trip between a coordinator meeting and ballroom practice, ’cause sometimes you’ve just gotta squeeze it in.


Take it easy, but take it.



If you think I need insulin when I’m low…

…then we have a real problem. There is a perpetual understanding that being a diabetic means that when anything is wrong, just get the kid some insulin. And if I hear one more person ask if they should get me insulin when I take a quick seat, shaking away with a crazy low alarm on my Dexcom, I’m going to be in a perpetual state of fear someone might just jab me with some insulin if I pass out.

Yes, of course they mean well when they offer to get my insulin. But, of course I worry. Nonetheless, that’s not the intention of this post. Yesterday, as it has been happening many times before in the last year, my hormones decide to take a random shift and I’m locked in a state of LOW. After seeing several endocrinologists, no one can figure out what has been causing these crazy spells, so in the meantime, I notice the pattern, drop the Levemir, and start eating. You all must know that horrific feeling that you’re stuffed to the brim with food and juice and yet are still low and need treatment. It might be just as bad as being low and being nauseous…maybe. But anyhow, that was my entire afternoon yesterday. My blood sugars like to behave in bizarre ways: I treat a low, and I know that compared to other diabetics, I definitely require more sugar for that number to budge. Then two hours later, the blood sugars are lovely and stable just to be followed another two hours later with two hours of crazy highs. And there’s very little way around that during these spells especially.

Yesterday, my concern was through the roof when, after being 47, I’d had 1/2 cup of marshmallows, a banana, 1/2 cup of juice, a handful of golden raisins, 1/4 cup of frosting and my favorite low food, an Apple Pie Larabar,  just to finally reach 105 on my Dexcom over an hour later. Yikes. So, I jumped on the phone with my mom, a diabetic herself, to discuss my returned low spell and how I was going to make it through the day. The worry is high with me, living alone, during these spells, but the Dexcom has definitely relieved just a bit of that stress.

I do have to mention briefly, how fantastic Larabars are for a perfect size, easy to grab and store, gluten free low blood sugar treatment option. I absolutely love my Apple Pie flavor but all flavors are gluten free, which is always fun with flavors for things that are often gluten loaded- like chocolate chip cookie dough and blueberry muffin! I buy them by the box and get a discount at Whole Foods and they stay fresh for ages, and can be thrown in a coat pocket and stored at the bottom of my backpack in case I go through all my other food and need to locate my emergency- emergency stash! Be sure you all try them the next time you’ve got a need for some tasty sugar.

My mom proceeded to recall that a glucagon can be given in doses, through a syringe, at least a few decades back for when a diabetic has the flu, or issues like these. So, after much research on her behalf, she determined that according to the AMerican Diabetes ASsociation, the Mayo Clinic, and Joslin Diabetes Center, as well as this research by the NIH, the following chart is still applicable in 2014:

Screen Shot 2014-02-23 at 2.08.23 PM


The glucagon should be mixed, as per instructions, and then a normal insulin U-100 syringe should be used to draw the dose. The rest of the glucagon can be stored for 24 hours in the fridge.

Though I didn’t end up needing this yesterday as I’d thought, it was just a bit of a relief knowing that I had a way around pushing food and juice as I’d been doing all day. Of course, I am not a medical professional, and please do your own research and determine if you’d like to use this option. As an aside, my mom did warn me that glucagon can definitely make your heart race, so don’t take it and immediately go running around about campus, as I would have potentially done!

Finally, I wanted to share a graphic that Udi’s Gluten Free shared via email this week, just to give you all some always needed perspective that there are a lot of us out there dealing with shoving gluten free food for a crazy low every day.

Screen Shot 2014-02-19 at 2.40.08 PM


We’re all here for each other, especially on rough days like my last few.


Take it easy, but take it.


I’m sorry, but who’s the one actually dealing with this?

So, I’m learning that blogging is like diabetes—you could have the best laid plans for future endeavors [in diabetes, this is your next meal, how much insulin to take, etc.; in blogging, the best laid plans for what your next post is going to be, what you’ll discuss etc.] but as many of us know, of course it just doesn’t work that way.

I wanted to take a moment today to be sure that I touched on what I’ll call an “internet-event” that is taking up a lot of  time and space in many diabetes posts/tweets [like this one and this one] in my sphere this week. Obviously, I don’t want to just rehash everything else that has been said, but rather give my college diabetic-celiac view on the following:

Today, a columnist for the Washington Post, called Miss Manners, responded to a Type 1 Diabetic’s question about taking shots and testing blood sugars in public. Take a moment to read the third letter/response in this article, and then hear me out here.

If I ever gave more than a two second, fleeting thought to when and where I managed my diabetes, I would never be able to exist in the college world. In a split second, I’m running from an 8-5 day of class with one hour of break, by foot between distant buildings, then off to two meetings [now gluten free breakfast, lunch, and dinner in tow since 7:30am] and finally home for some homework and much needed feet-up time.

So, Miss Manners, I ask you, how would you go about advising me, a college girl, on caring for my 240 blood sugar my continuous glucose monitor is alerting me of in the middle of my 10 am physics lecture on the current and resistance of a multi-bulb circuit? Oh, should I take a moment to excuse myself so I can find a tiny bathroom stall, balance my insulin pouch on my knee, put the syringe cap in my mouth, find a corner of skin, jab myself, and proceed to return to lecture, left behind at the last light bulb?

I think we all agree here—there’s really no reason for a non-diabetic to begin commenting on how we’ve learned to *seemingly* flawlessly manage the moment-to-moment swings of a day in the life. What Miss Manners should have done is thanked the man for his concern about others feelings, and advise him to either a) do what makes his life just a little less stressful or b) recognized that she, in fact, does not have authority to discuss the topic and forward him to blogs like mine, and many others, where we’d speak from true experience.

To the man who wrote in, the next time you worry about your testing or shots in public, or if someone gives you a problem, I hope you manage it like I do: look him/her straight in the eye and say “Who’s dealing with this every waking moment, you or me?”


Take it easy, but take it.



And suddenly I have a real community.

Hi everyone-

I want to thank each and every one of you for visiting my blog. It’s actually the strangest feeling to see that you’ve *kinda* *maybe* been a little responsible for a community starting to come together to share, laugh, complain, etc., and the blogosphere has consumed way too much emotion today!

Anyhow, I just wanted to share my Twitter handle so you can all follow me/see some of my moment to moment “diabetes hacks,” as Kim [@txtingmypancreas] calls them, and maybe some other tidbits of Brianna wittiness?

Twitter handle: @briwolin

I’ll be back soon for a real post, I’m actually really excited to share something quite entertaining.

Take it easy, but take it.


And we both know that we could never have kids together.

Would I feel guilty? The question seems to swarm my mind at least a few times every year, and I wonder, would I feel guilty? Yes, there are many worse things in the world—cancer, muscular dystrophy, epilepsy. But, still, would I feel guilty?

As a young adult fighting this uphill battle of endless needles and pokes and having grown up proud to be able to finish my juice box in under 10 seconds when other kids took almost 20 seconds, I wonder, would I feel guilty?

Though I’m well adjusted and know how to handle myself in environments where there is absolutely nothing I could eat, and have learned to never let the food of an event stop me from attending one, would I still feel guilty?

Sure, they say, we’ll have a cure in no time, they say. And we’re decades down the line and nothing, not even a new treatment, has alleviated some stress. The vision of a cure is foreign, of multiple cures seems impossible. The hope always exists, yet is it enough to prevent me from feeling guilty?

Can I live with myself the day my son or daughter is  inevitably diagnosed with diabetes, celiac disease, hypothyroidism, irritable bowel syndrome, food intolerances, Reynaud’s syndrome, any autoimmune disease? My answer has been, and still is, I really do not know.

I wish I could guarantee myself all the cures I need to make the positives in blood work become negatives. But without such a guarantee coming my way before it’ll be time to have children of my own, am I really prepared to face the probable inevitability that my children will have to deal, to some extent, with what I fight so hard to deal with every single day?

For my own mother, a diabetic herself, obviously she chose to leap into the unknown. But for me, the list is longer, and at what point is it too long? I must look through the lens of my life motto: See the big picture. There are worse things in the world, and as I mentioned above, worse health conditions I could be living with, and pass on. Ultimately, I will have my own children. I know that, by living through my everyday experience, that with enough family support, it is doable.

Yet, I still do not know how guilty I may feel.

We all know, and it’s obvious through my blog, that such a serious discussion and existence is not without some form of joke. So, there’s only one person I really feel like I can connect with about these issues–my dearest friend Will. I’ve known Will since mid-way through high school and we’ve been through the highs and lows of my existence and his battle with cystic fibrosis. I can’t imagine not having him in my life. Though we never really sit down and discuss the topic of children at length, it’s obviously creeped its way into our talks a few times. Ultimately, Will  and I determined that we’d have the smartest, best looking kids, with the worst genetic pool. And if anyone else in the world told me that about my offspring, my blood would boil. But coming from Will, the only way I could ever respond with be with a smile and a giggle. Will, thank you for being there for me in a way others can’t. I will love you with all my heart always and forever.

Take it easy, but take it.


Finding the light, and a blueberry muffin!

To be totally honest, sometimes my life doesn’t just feel like I have my share of things that are difficult, but that anything that might not be difficult, always finds a way to be. This past week was definitely overwhelmed by that feeling. However, I want to highlight the positive, as I always try to do to keep my emotions and stress under control the best I can [apparently not very well these last few days as the stress has sent blood sugars soaring though the roof!]. Nonetheless, here goes nothing:

Just to set the stage here, the University of Michigan has several sections of campus—Central Campus, where most of the activity takes place including all of the Literature, Science and Arts classes, restaurants, bars, Greek Row etc. Then there’s North Campus, where the College of Engineering, School of Architecture, and School of Theater, Dance, and Visual Arts, as well as most of the freshman dormitories are located. There are several different bus routes that run between the two campuses, taking about 15-20 minutes depending on traffic. Then there’s South Campus, where the football stadium is located, and lots of off campus housing for older students. I live on Central Campus, and this term the majority of my classes are on Central, as I finish out my pre-requisites. The upcoming years, all of my classes with be on North Campus, but this term I am “on North,” as we call it, so that I, as the coordinator, can meet with my staff advisor for weekly Peer Mentor Program meetings.

So, when I had to get to North earlier this week in the cold, on the bus, with miserable blood sugars, and overloading work and stress, I was not a happy camper. I was ready to head home, and crawl into bed and never leave. But, as with everything, I kept pushing through and made my way to North for a lunch meeting between classes. After arriving to North early, I decided to go to a small convenience type store called Ugo’s that sells all types of hot and cold food in the North Campus Union, called Pierpont Commons. Every time I go into Ugo’s, I am happier and more and more surprised at the absolute volume and number of gluten free options available. Considering I find myself on a campus that really fails to provide gluten free, and allergen free, options in general, having one place, albeit on North Campus, to grab a quick bite, definitely increases my happy value for the day.

This week, I stopped in Ugo’s and had to obviously prevent myself from buying food for a month. So, I decided that my brunch would be Colby jack cheese sticks, pistachios, fresh cut strawberries, and an individually packaged Udi’s blueberry muffin from the freezer section! I was beyond thrilled, and immediately made my way to my advisors office to pop it in the microwave for 15 seconds, as I definitely couldn’t wait for it to thaw. [Just in case you don’t know Udi’s products, which if you don’t then you’ve never had good gluten free, here’s their link: Udi’s Gluten Free]

Look at that perfect Brianna-friendly lunch.

Look at that perfect Brianna-friendly lunch.

After my little pick-me-up of a lunch, my week continued to be difficult as my freezer/fridge broke, but the following day managed to get replaced and I proceeded to get an email that night telling me I was one of less than fifty graduate and undergraduate students selected to present my research at a symposium in April at MIT. [Take a look at the Symposium here: Scientista Symposium] Finally, some reprieve from the stressful week.

Just a quick little update on my Dexcom experience: so far, so great. It has been the biggest de-stress, and wearing it in my arm has not only been accurate, but not itchy! I’m using it to gather some information about my blood sugar patterns that I obviously can’t see with the finger sticks, and thus am working hard to adjust insulin and lower my A1C by my next appointment. Beyond all of this, with the minor problems I have had, their 24/7 technical support line has been invaluable.

Lastly, I hope that each and every one of you, readers, finds an important person in your life. But by important person, I don’t mean a boyfriend/girlfriend/fiancee/wife/husband/lover. I mean the kind of continuous support that only comes from your best friends. And not just one, because after about age 8, we all know that there’s no way to declare a single person as your best friend–there’s a best friend for every single part of your life. And in those moments of sheer breakdown in your single apartment away from home, there’s little better than your best friend who arrives in a split second to not only take the load off by trying to fix your fridge while your strip yourself of every bit of cat hair from a house you had to spend two hours in [cats unbeknownst to you] but to really hold you while you cry. And to James–your endless kindness and love, despite the fact that you know that “you’ll never really understand,” are unusual and invaluable. I know that myself, nor my family, could ever express enough gratitude for you being the person you are, and for being in my life. I am so lucky.

"A best friend is someone who knows all about you and loves you anyway." - Elbert Hubbard

“A best friend is someone who knows all about you and loves you anyway.” – Elbert Hubbard

So, long story short, there was a silver lining to my difficult week. Never forget to find the light, as my mom always tells me, and just put yourself in it.

Take it easy, but always take it.


PS- I realized it’d been awhile since I’d posted a recipe so here’s one of my favorite quick dinners- Brianna’s Salsa Salmon!

-Ingredients: Salmon fillet, shredded cheese [I prefer mozzarella, but cheddar would be great as well!], salsa [I like Medium Tostitos brand], and frozen corn

-Directions: Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees. Take out a Pyrex baking dish [or any type of pan], put aside.  Create a large double layer foil sheet {to turn into a little pouch of sorts}. Place the salmon, then salsa, then cheese, then corn and seal up the foil pack. Place the foil pack in the dish, so it doesn’t drip in the oven, and place in the oven for 30 minutes. Open the top of the foil pack and continue to cook for about 20 minutes, or until cooked to liking!

Super delicious, super simple, and super quick! Enjoy everyone!

Food, glorious [gluten free] food!

Okay, now that my thoughts on the gluten free standard all over the world are out there for some consideration, and hopefully some of your thoughts in the comments, on to the absolutely irreplaceable, time of my life trip experiences:

Being someone who counts so highly on a scheduled and tightly controlled life, spontaneity was as foreign to me as a Goldfish cracker. Or an apple Nutragrain bar. Or a donut. {My go-to glutinous foods when that cure comes rolling around—check out this article on that, by the way: The Future of Celiac Disease Treatment} However, travelling with a family as versed in the diabetic celiac lifestyle as myself, I was contentedly rolling with the punches, travelling through Europe, as we added to our itinerary along the way, and the hours grew long in their filled-to-the-brim Audi.


Pre-Trip Audi…

Post-Trip Audi! Had to get some shopping in!

Post-Trip Audi! Had to get some shopping in!












The final itinerary looks like this:

Copenhagen, Frankfurt, Milan, Nice, Monaco, Florence, and Prague.

Now, as some of you may have heard, for as much as France is awful at strict gluten free food preparation, the counter-intuitive, gluten-loaded Italy is gluten free heaven. If it exists in gluten, it exists in gluten free, and good gluten free. I’m honestly drooling at my keyboard thinking of the chocolate croissants that I fell absolutely in love with…but obviously shipping them here would be a nightmare and a half, and half my bank account. However, I’m going to touch on a few memorable restaurant spots in some of the cities, rather just talk about my love for little rolls.

Copenhagen, Daniel’s hometown, resulted in a very European little restaurant/bar, where Daniel’s family’s friends were the owners, called Tight, that made killer gluten free—reminiscing on some champagne and delightful mussels with gluten free crostini. We also dined lavishly at Nimb Terrasse at Tivoli Gardens, eating course after course, drinking bottle of wine after bottle of wine. At this point, I knew I was in for a ton of food, and a lesson in how to appear to keep up in drinking, by casually fake sipping after the first couple glasses!

The restaurant at Tivoli Gardens

The restaurant at Tivoli Gardens

Daniel and I waiting for our reservation!

Daniel and I waiting for our reservation!

Milan brought beautiful people, and gorgeous gluten free food at a restaurant called Be Bop. I came to really understand that I was travelling with the right people when we couldn’t decide between about 6 entrees for the 4 of us, so they decided we’d do a “tasting dinner” and order all of them. Oh, and the same happened with dessert. The main page of the website even states that “The menu expresses freedom and respect for the food choices of every individual, whether they are philosophical or dictated by the need for health…not only lovers of fish and meat, but vegetarian, vegan, intolerant dairy and gluten free.” And boy, did they nail it. Please see the pictures below and enjoy an extra moment to let it all sink in.

DSCN0463 DSCN0467 DSCN0468 DSCN0469 DSCN0470 DSCN0471 DSCN0472 DSCN0473 DSCN0476 DSCN0480 DSCN0481 DSCN0482 DSCN0483

I have an excess of food photos…Sorry, not sorry.

So, I’m going mention the Nice restaurant, because I have a photo to share, but unfortunately I cannot remember the name. However, you can see I managed to find my chocolate fix!


Yum. Yum. Yum.

That smile can't be from anything but chocolate. It's an addiction, for sure.

That smile can’t be from anything but chocolate. It’s an addiction, for sure.

I brought my own GF cone and they filled it with peach and strawberry gelato from a new container!

I brought my own GF cone and they filled it with peach and strawberry gelato from a new container!


In Florence, I enjoyed some Brianna exploration time, as Daniel and his family decided to stay back at the most gorgeous hotel I believe I’ve ever stayed in. Late afternoon, we’d go out to the small garden, through an archway of growing grapes, to sit and have a glass of champagne with fresh strawberries. Definitely an experience I will never forget, and likely not have again at all, or at least for a very, very long time. However, during the day, I decided to take a paper map, lots of emergency snacks, and spend 7 hours all over downtown Florence, before I eventually met up with the family at a restaurant that night [another name that escapes me, I’m so sorry!] I managed to live on the occasional gelato stop all day (NOTE: Not all gelato is gluten free. Be sure you ask “senza glutine?!” ) And I even found a totally gluten free chocolate shop [can you say Brianna heaven?]. All the walking, and gallery touring, and stair climbing meant very little insulin for the day so the shots reprieve was obviously welcome. There are some photos below of my different stops and at the hotel, but an important note about Florence and Italy in general: many, many, many places have gluten free and they get it. So walking around downtown meant just stopping in a couple storefronts before I’d find myself with some GF pizza, or a simple salad if I so chose with the 90+ degree weather.

Learning map skills the day before my solo venture!

Learning map skills the day before my solo venture!

After the hundreds of stairs up "Il Duomo!"

After the hundreds of stairs up “Il Duomo!”

One of many GF pizzas I found along my way !

One of many GF pizzas I found along my way !

Having a water and pretzels-from-my-purse break in the cafe on top of the Uffizi!

Having a water and pretzels-from-my-purse break in the cafe on top of the Uffizi!

The gluten free chocolate shop! Of course, I had to bring the family back there when we'd finished dinner.

The gluten free chocolate shop! Of course, I had to bring the family back there when we’d finished dinner.

Lastly, I want to mention a special find in Prague. While there are several gluten free options, Prague has a 100% gluten free restaurant called Na Zlaté křižovatce  Whether I’m in America or in Europe, a 100% gluten free restaurant is an absolute find! We were so thrilled, and much like the restaurant in Milan, it was time for a tasting dinner. I’d have to say, generally speaking, eating my way through Europe gluten free allowed me to try many varieties, and come to love all varieties, of something not easy found in the US gluten free—gnocchi. Yum.

Sidebar: I did manage to find a gluten free gnocchi at Whole Foods- not labeled particularly as such but ingredients are entirely GF and so easy to make—here’s the site: Whole Foods GF Gnocchi

Anyhow, I hope I’ve done some of my overwhelming experience in Europe justice, at least in the gluten free food department. I would go into much greater detail, but obviously this is getting quite lengthy. So please, do let me know if you want more particularly detail on a certain location and I’d be more than happy to share tips and tricks!

Take it easy but take it,


“Is that gluten free?” “No, I just decided to poison myself today.”

The title of this post is something I hear ALL. THE. TIME. And quite honestly, I often give exactly that response. It’s as if people think that you just sorta choose the days you want to be a celiac. Wishful thinking.

August 2013 was a big milestone in the world of gluten free, but definitely a confusing one. Hearing that the FDA finally released the following definition of gluten free left me in a bit of a blur:

“ ‘Gluten-free’ as meaning that the food either is inherently gluten free; or does not contain an ingredient that is: 1) a gluten-containing grain (e.g., spelt wheat); 2) derived from a gluten-containing grain that has not been processed to remove gluten (e.g., wheat flour); or 3) derived from a gluten-containing grain that has been processed to remove gluten (e.g., wheat starch), if the use of that ingredient results in the presence of 20 parts per million (ppm) or more gluten in the food. Also, any unavoidable presence of gluten in the food must be less than 20 ppm. “ [FDA Gluten Free Ruling]


So you mean to tell me I’ve been living in my tightly controlled world of gluten free but for all I knew, a product labeled GF may, in fact, actually not be?! The gluten free world went into a frenzy of “wow, finally a standard!” while I was perhaps more bewildered than particularly ecstatic at the moment. But, little did I know, the definition of gluten free in Europe now, and in 2012 when I spent 3 weeks on what I call my “Euro-Road Trip” [to be discussed at length!], the standard for gluten free is significantly higher than what we know as our safe, 20 ppm.


After I graduated high school in June 2013, I became a true world traveler. Passport in hand, and Daniel [remember him from my post about my US road trip?] and his family waiting for me some 8 hours later in the Copenhagen airport, I was flying high… and solo. I’d never expected the incredible experience I was about to have—from the sights, to some safe spontaneity, long hours in traffic on the Autobahn in Germany, and long hours on the beach in Nice, I was about to have three weeks that no words, or pictures, can really do justice. And, I was about to do it with another diabetic celiac.

All set in my travel outfit!

All set in my travel outfit!

Ticket: Check. Passport: Check. Diabetic-Celiac Friendly Refreshments: Check. I was set.

Ticket: Check. Passport: Check. Diabetic-Celiac Friendly Refreshments: Check. I was set.

Woah, I could not only travel the world on my own, but I could get there and not occupy my mind-space with a single thought about food for dinner, or having enough emergency snacks for the gridlock traffic for 14 hours. However, as I mentioned, I was in for a bit of a rude awakening upon trying all the gluten free brands that weren’t available in America, cause after a few days of that freshly made “gluten-removed flour rye bread,” which of course was labeled gluten free, and my body was not happy with me.

Long story short on the unexciting end of the trip, I came to really wonder if being a celiac in the United States has afforded me a different, much lower tolerance for gluten in my diet, and whether or not I was benefitting from a healthier population of villi. Nonetheless, I spent the rest of the trip sticking to the brands of labeled GF products that are imported into the US that I’d spent most my life eating, and definitely avoided the buffet bars—as I’d always done in the States, but if Daniel was doing it, why couldn’t I?

Take it easy, but take it.


Livin’ like an astronaut.

Summer of 2010 was one of the most unique experiences of my life—I spent 22 days on a bus travelling from Atlanta to San Francisco with 39 other teenagers, thanks to ETGAR 36, with the underlying quote: “Nothing can be hated until it is first understood” –Leonardo da Vinci. We hit countless historical sites and museums, while hearing from speakers that represented both sides of social issues affecting America including the following:

-Gun control/ gun rights

-Pro-life/ Pro-Choice


-Food availability/federal aid

Now, how does a diabetic-celiac high school student live hotel-to-hotel, bus to foot for twenty-two days? I came to really love sunbutter, pretzels, and space food. Yes, space food. At the time, I hadn’t heard about GoPicnic meals [mentioned in an earlier post!] so I needed something quick and easy that could last in the heat without refrigeration. So, my mom found gluten free freeze-dried meals. All I had to do was add hot water, which I found at any restaurant we stopped at and any hotel breakfast bar, and boom. Food. Was it particularly delicious and satisfying? Eh…not so much. Did I let the fact that I lived on space food and non-perishables keep me from having a life-changing experience? You all likely know the answer by this point.

At the time, I had never travelled alone and managed all of my health issues without support. By the time we finally reached Denver, a family friend met me in a park where we’d scheduled a stop for some free time where I got a meal that I scarfed down as if I hadn’t eaten real food for weeks…but actually…—the salmon, and potatoes, and fruit, and brownies…oh man, I’ll never forget what it was like to have a real meal after all that time. Thanks, Yvonne! My mom had also arranged for the bus to take a few more grocery store stops than the average summer so I could stock up. I had a whole upper storage cabinet on the bus for Brianna food, which of course I ended up sharing with everyone!

Probably the coolest encounter I had on the trip that will be important info in my next post is who I met at a little gluten free pizza stand in Los Angeles. While waiting for some real GF food, I started chatting with another person waiting in line, Daniel. Daniel turned out to be a diabetic celiac university student from Denmark in the US to run a marathon! We met up again the next day for a nice little gluten free treat—Dove Ice Cream bars! —and continued a long term, long distance friendship that resulted in my going to Europe where he and his family would take me on the trip of a lifetime before college started, which I’ll describe the whole next post!

So, the majority of my US travel was on this bus trip, where I did not find restaurants I could eat at and learned to live the ever-so-familiar non-perishable diet of backpack foods. However, I have been to many US cities with family and on separate solo travel where I did find great stops! Chicago, being my hometown, has allotted me endless restaurant recommendations. Here are some of my favorite spots:


Adobo Grill

Café Babareeba

Marcello’s Father and Son Pizza

Feel free to message and ask for any particular cuisine or location recommendations! I have tons and tons I’ve loved, liked, and hated, as well as determined that they were not entirely gluten free! However, the easiest place by far is Bountiful Eatery. This little, adorable restaurant is 100% gluten free, and a casual breakfast, lunch, and dinner spot for some quick grub! Yes, you heard it, 100% gluten free. Order anything off the menu. No questions! What a relief. Check out their website or Facebook: Bountiful Eatery Website.

Finally, I’d like to briefly note the restaurants in Ann Arbor that are gluten free, though the majority, as mentioned, are downtown in a nicer area and cost a bit more than the average college meal budget!

Sadako Sushi

Café Felix

Chop House

Real Seafood Company

Melting Pot Fondue, also in Chicago!

Take it easy, but take it.


Adjustments for Lifestyle Adjustments

I know I promised you all some travel posts, but I’m going to push them back the line a little bit in favor of telling you exactly what’s happening real time in the life of an adhesive-allergic diabetic chick trying to wear a DexCom–making adjustments for my lifestyle adjustments. Now the third day in, I am on my fourth sensor. Why, you may ask, is she on her fourth sensor when four should last at least a month?

Here’s why:

-Sensor 1: I attempted to use a tape I wasn’t allergic to to put under my DexCom on my stomach, with a hole in it to put the needle through. Insertion went well, but dancing my heart out at ballroom practice, I realized that apparently the tape of the DexCom only super-adheres [which it really does, lasting through showers and everything for 1-3 weeks for some people!] to skin, and not other tape. So, it came out.

>>DexCom has the MOST fantastic customer service, truly. All I had to do was call and tell them it came out and they immediately sent out a new sensor after a few short questions. The same thing happened when they replaced sensor 2…

-Sensor 2: This time, I put the tape below and above, cutting a hole for the transmitter. But, of course, my luck leads me to have a faulty sensor. Woohoo. So, I took that one out and put in yet another after DexCom even replaced the second one with issues.

-Sensor 3: This just happened. Apparently, I’m still allergic to adhesive of any kind on my stomach. So, I’m going to give up on my stomach for now. It became impractical in tape bulkiness and constant tape replacement after showers, and I’m still itchy. So, like a true multi-decade diabetic, it was time to bend the rules a bit. I immediately got online to see where else people put their sensors, though FDA only “approved wear on the abdomen.” I came across several message boards telling me, pretty blatantly, that for one reason or another [including itchiness!] tummy is not the place of choice. Apparently arms are!

Here’s my problem: ever since I was little, I hated shots in my arms. Never wore my pump there when I had one and still won’t go near ‘em. So, I had a minor internal freak out as I sat on my bed, over stressed by this whole ordeal plus a nasty cough/cold/virus, but determined that enough people do it that it was time I gave it a try. I came across the following blog, and specific post:

Do take some time and read the rest of her blog posts–and follow her on twitter at @txtngmypancreas.

I’ve begun to read her blog, and she’s quite entertaining with a LOT of useful info. Anyhow, the following video showed me how to insert the site with one hand, as I live on my own and am far from ever becoming dependent on other people:

Right after insertion- I did it! Right after insertion- I did it![/caption]

I’ve definitely followed this one this week—

Take it easy but take it.


UPDATE! So far, the arm sensor is going well on day 3, readings pretty consistent with meter readings except when I spent some time sleeping on that arm last night…my little robot friend got a bit mad at me and declared my blood sugar to be through the roof! but it wasn’t, so I re-calibrated and readjusted my sleeping position and tah-dah, all set.