Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Gluten Free in Japan: Week 2 begins/Confession

I must confess I am back to "Go" as far as gluten free goes.

I'm getting a little better day by day, but I have broken code last night (and faced some consequences- tummy ache, nauseous) but not sure if it is gluten or just other preservatives and flavors. I ate a chocolate brownie and half a processed pudding cup and had an immediate stomach ache. The pudding was worse and the artificial flavor left a really bad taste in my mouth.

But I slept and feel ok, luckily, and now know that I must be more strict with the diet than before.

I just wanted something sweet and exciting! But it was fake-flavor-y and painful.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

In the Rose Garden Bracelet

In the Rose Garden Cuff Bracelet by ~pixipatrin on deviantART

Just completed another netted cuff! This one came out really nice, elegant, and expensive looking, I think! I called it "In the Rose Garden"

I've started an online ETSY shop which will sell my beaded work and some craft items from Japan. I just started so I'm not sure the direction I will go with it, but I will put beaded and other creations up there as they're produced.

You can visit my etsy here:

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Day 5: Gluten Free in Japan

Day 5 and I will spare you the gruesome details, but my digestion is working at 95% normal :D

The cracks in my tongue are less, which means my gut is also doing better at getting essential nutrients!

Totally calm and in charge at today's classes! Even though it's Saturday and I was at the school from 12 to 8.

Also able to down a bunch of dark chocolate today- which is rich in iron and certain polyphenols and antioxidants. Of course, it's free of most allergens EXCEPT had soy... which I may or may not be slightly allergic to. Apparently that doesn't compare to wheat or gluten.

And I feel like I have so much more free time, energy, and drive now that the stomach pain is lifted off my shoulders AND I didn't have to go to the clinic to get a stomach camera-ing done. And all I had to do was go without wheat in my food. So that's easier said than done... everything has to be cooked at home from scratch and without wheat and without certain exciting things like soy sauce. But had some pretty good no soy-sauce Korean bulgogi recently. Maybe I'll be able to have smidges of soy sauce and kim ch'i again soon...

Now that I feel good I can start putting together pictures and stories about my November-December travels with Mumsie!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Powerful New Research in Functional Medicine: Neurological Approach

This shows that the dietary choices we, our governments, our societies make... do effect us in more ways than we can name or know. How impressive that this doctor made a journey from being, in essence, in the dark on what nutrients could help her condition- to realizing that her insufficient intake of these nutrients perhaps had everything to do with her condition and that where medicine continued to fail her, freeing herself of food allergens and increasing her intake of essential nutrients largely through diet could help her recover her ability to walk and function without loosing her job and livelihood.

I feel that education in industrialized and industrializing countries is failing us by not teaching us the basics of the power of natural plants and native diets... which are truly the basics of survival, and now they are being lost and becoming just the whispers of the ghosts which came before us, all is being lost for convenience.

Thanks to for drawing attention to this TED video. I admire Functional Medicine efforts and hope that it rises up in the place of the current medical system in the US that treats symptoms and not root causes. If only the subsidization of food would reward those trying to be proactive for their health (by healthy, unadulterated food), vs. the oversubsidization of grains, meat, and dairy, which in effect is a huge force behind the increased need for expensive and often ineffective medical treatments.

"Let food be thy medicine."

I'm now going to dedicate myself, more than ever, to getting well, saving money, and hopefully making it to naturopathic medical school or even MD, if not to get in on the exciting research that is functional medicine.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Day 4: Gluten Free in Japan

Woke up with marked less sinus pain/congestion. Still some pains in the gut but no cramps. Shortness of breath is less now too, and overall achy/tired/no drive/anxiety feeling is a little better too.

I eat a bowl of sweet potatoes instead of noodles or rice, and brothy soups made of meat, vegetables, water, and the kombu seaweed. Did you know MSG was originally distilled from the kombu sea vegetable? Now they use soybeans and whatever slop they can boil down to produce glutamate and attach it to a sodium ion, hence the name MSG. The part that has the "umami" is the glutamate. But anyway, the kombu and a few other spices makes a tasty, almost buttery broth without butter, msg, or even soy sauce. Which I'm still waiting on getting some wheat-free tamari. Even at the health-food store the organic tamari had wheat in it. Which I thought tamari-soy-sauce was supposed to be wheat free, but whatever. I also have sides of lightly spiced meat curries made with light curry spices and coconut milk. I don't use those nasty bouillon/processsed curry cubes they sell everywhere in Japan, these are just spices and not cubes processed with a bunch of altered oils, starches, artifical flavors etc.... Which I found were hard to find in Korea and Japan, but they are available if you keep your eyes out for them or go to a health food store (which is disappointing to me in comparison to health food stores in America/Canada/the West/any other country. I guess it's still hard for most people to believe these food allergies might exist.

Maybe it sounds crazy but at least I'm feeling a little better everyday. I get so sad when someone gifts me something that looks delicious and I can't eat it ; - ; . But when my condition is under control I'll be able to handle everything again in small doses.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Day... 2 Gluten Free

Day 2 of Gluten Free Folks


The epicness that occurred last month was my mother and mother-in-law's visit, a trip to Nagano, trip to Nara, and really all around business and craziness. When I think about the amount of gluten I consumed during that short period, compared to my relative abstinence from it for about 3 years or so, I ate roughly 3 years worth of gluten in 3 months. At my best in the U.S. I could eat a gluten item about once a week and have only slight ramifications: a little tired, or swollen feeling in my sinuses.

And still on Day 2 I'm feeling achy, exhausted, "tired but wired..." meaning exhaustion coupled with trouble falling asleep, sinus sludge, body aches, shortness of breath, slight stomach pain. Just need to remind myself that it is only Day 2, and there could be at least 2 weeks to a month for my body to heal from whatever reaction was set into motion by my dietary exuberance since I arrived in Japan- where I cast my doubts about gluten being bad for me to the wind and just ate it happily because that's what everyone else is doing. I hope that the same consciousness about food allergies will come to Japan (maybe almost inevitably) as it has in the U.S.

There's also the added awareness that there may be a few other sensitivities... including soy, potato/tomato, and citrus which my consumption of also increased dramatically since coming here.

Looking forward to getting farther along into elimination... I'm being so strict now Max made a soup with soy sauce in the broth and I had to refuse it. But with his rice allergy he also must avoid any soup made with say, mirin or miso, as they also contain rice.

Repressed the urge to go to the doctor. I'm kind of under the impression that there's nothing they can do for me. I just have to try this rest from known/long suspected allergens before I go looking for anything else wrong...

Monday, December 12, 2011

Gluten Free in Japan: What to Eat/What to Avoid

Gluten Free in Japan: What to Eat/What to Avoid

Special thanks to Blogger Sofia, living in Kyushuu, who provides useful information on living Gluten Free on her blog

Eat: (generally homemade)
-For carbohydrate/energy: potatoes, sweet potatoes, nagaimo, satsumaimo, carrot , rice if you are not sensitive to rice (my husband was a Crohn's sufferer and his sole trigger was rice! Gluten causes inflammation for his sinuses and ears though...)

-All vegetables, cooked without gluten containing products


-If you are certain it's 100%, you may tolerate buckwheat noodles which are sort of a grey brown color, however wheat is typically added to these


-Soy Sauce, and Tamari (Tamari is in theory a light soy sauce that is brewed wheat free, however my husband just went tonight and our local supermarket's version contains wheat! how do you explain wheat-containing tamari is kind of ridiculous... but whatever...)

-All packaged food. It's impossible to know the origin or process involved in creating "artificial" ingredients

-Sauces (which generally will have soy sauce or MSG ingredients)

-Yakisoba Noodles, Udon Noodles, Ramen noodles

Eating out in Japan:

Avoid: Takoyaki, Okonomiyaki, All Noodles and probably all fast foods, Crepes, Udon, Yakisoba

Seek: Sashimi, Sushi, onigiri, simple grilled fish (at my local mall instead of the food court I go to the supermarket deli and eat fish that's grilled without discernible sauce such as soy sauce, and grab some steamed vegetables, pain in the butt I can't just go and chow down happily, or am an inconvenience to a group)

HOPE: if your symptoms stabilize on the gluten free diet, depending on severity, it is possible to cheat once a month, or with certain foods, weekly or even daily. Just bear the initial waiting period of going gluten free until symptoms stabilize. I saw improvement in the on a diet that was reduced gluten and not 100% gluten free.

麦・むぎ  mugi wheat -- I think this basically includes all wheat products which may contain gluten, make sure the ingredients on anything packaged don't contain this

醤油・しょうゆ shouyu soy sauce

化学調味料無添加 かがくちょうみりょうむてんか kagakuchoumiryou mutenka Without Artificial Additives

味の素 あじのもと ajinomoto MSG

Good luck on your journey!

Shopping for those in Japan:

Western Import Shop (Items generally avaliable within 5-7 days in Japan):

last updated: 12/12/2011

Under the Weather... beginning of trying Gluten Free in Japan

In the West they really spell it right out for ya...
I've only seen one section which was a single rack in a supermarket (not even a portion of an aisle) remotely announcing itself as friendly-food for food allergy sufferers

So I'm not getting much done... been kind of under the weather off and on. Stomach and sinus issues, and symptoms which in my experience and research all point to food allergy: that is stomach issues, sinus issues, fatigue, and flu-like symptoms. All were somewhat under control when I was much stricter with my diet... maybe 1 or 2 servings of gluten containing foods a week in America (say, a whole wheat hamburger bun) to... I don't even want to know how much gluten has entered my diet since I came to Japan.

Apparently there's just not much discussion of food allergies in Japan, except for the few for which it's a matter of life or death. And it's getting there for me... stomach cramps nightly (which resolve... I was experiencing a weekend without pain until today... ate some instant noodles and some cookies and BAM, a few hours later now and I'm just dealing with a swollen feeling in my sinuses)

I don't know if its just because so much food seems to revolve around cash crops and commodity foods: soy, rice, and wheat. Noodles abound, and so many staple foods (and peoples favorites) just as they do in the west.... are FULL OF GLUTEN.

The most popular and prevalent foods in my neighborhood: PASTA PASTA PASTA (a nightmare... I recall having an aversion to spaghetti when my father made it for me as a child, and the bloating that would follow eating out at an Italian restaurant) My neighborhood is rather famous for its bakeries and pasta. Or if you don't want pasta you could have a big bowl of wheat-noodles "udon", or occasionally I've been making takoyaki, or octopus dumplings, at home) which is grilled flower with octopus in it. Or Okonomiyaki, which is also grilled flour. All is delicious but the food allergy symptoms begin almost instantly after eating these items... a swollen feeling in my ears and achiness and post-nasal drip the next day.

And for about 2 months (about a month into giving up on my strict avoidance of gluten) some intense stomach distress began. My most painful nights I recall are (1) day I ate udon (2) day I ate a cream puff and a piece of cake (3) made a mistake and ate another cream-puff. While Japanese sweets, pleasingly, are not as extremely sweet as their western (American) counterparts, they do also increasingly contain lovely altered sugar substitutes like sorbitol which are also irritating to the stomach.

As bummed out as I am, I'm also hopeful that today will be a turning point. I'm going to try to go gluten free in Japan. Which, I can tell you, is not as easy as America. Most people will probably look at you in confusion, suspecting the reality that there is such a thing as sensitivity to wheat. I've only seen one food section in a store advertised as one that's food-allergy friendly. I haven't seen any food with a giant "I'm Gluten Free!" label like they have entire aisles dedicated to back home... And one health food store, which I was disappointed looked exactly like the other health food market. But I'm going to be persistent and write about this new "project" of mine in Japan. These will be under the title "Gluten Free in Japan" in hopes I can help people living in Japan with gluten allergies, as well as those pondering travel to Japan who have gluten allergies.

I'm not ready to go home to America just because I have food allergies...

Special thanks to Blogger Sofia, living in Kyushuu, who provides useful information on living Gluten Free on her blog

Thursday, December 8, 2011



Kombucha, I miss you. :(





いつか、カリフォルニアで作ったおいしいGT SYNERGYのコンブチャが日本に輸入になったらうれしいな。。。誰かキノコだけでも買い方教えていただけませんか?

Friday, December 2, 2011