Connecting the celiac disease and food allergy/intolerance community together by sharing our stories to food freedom. From our beginning struggles to striving after a diagnosis, we can all relate and help each other out by sharing what we’ve learned and our unique personal journeys.
Welcome to another Freedom Feature! You are in for a treat today with Heather, the blogger of Cook It Up Paleo! I feel like this girl is my other half, my paleo other half 😉 We're both the same age, celiacs, and hardcore foodies! You are going to come away today with inspiration from hearing about the success Heather has created for herself, all because of her diagnosis and journey to health!
background: who are you?
Hey guys! My name is Heather Resler and I usually describe myself as a 19-year-old celiac Wisconsin girl baking my way through life, paleo-style. I was born and raised where football is a religion, 40 degrees is bathing suit weather, and cheese = life.
I’m the cook, photographer, web developer, and taste tester behind the blog Cook It Up Paleo, which I’ve been doing for about 3 years now. I love creating healthy versions of everyone’s favorite foods. I’m also a freelance recipe developer and food photographer. You can usually find me cooking up a new recipe in the kitchen, typing up a blog post, or working on a new ebook. In my free time I lift weights, rock climb, or watch slightly questionable amounts of funny YouTube videos.
what was life like before your diagnosis?
I grew up eating quite “healthy” - low-fat, whole grains, margarine, whole wheat, etc. I’ve always been active and healthy. From as far back as I can remember, though, I was always plagued with digestive issues. Of course, at the time, I thought they were normal and didn’t question anything.
When I was about 15-½, I decided to start doing strength training. Up until that point I’d only been walking for my exercise. I’m a type-A kind of person and definitely worked out too long, too hard, and too often; the concept of “less is more” is something I am constantly learning the hard way. I was eating mostly gluten-free at this point, which meant I ate gluten a couple times a month. I think it was something my body could handle until I started working out a lot. Being tall makes you predisposed to having less muscle, and I just wanted to be able to lift things, do pushups, and generally feel a little more able in everyday life. But the extra stress pushed my body over the edge. My digestion became the worst it had ever been, I was cranky, tired, I couldn’t sleep, and I just couldn’t keep healthy weight on.
how did you find the right doctor and end up getting properly tested and diagnosed?
I cut back the exercise and started keeping a food journal to track my calories, increasing them more and more in hopes of putting some weight back on, but to no avail. My primary care doctor referred me to a gastroenterologist. She immediately suspected celiac and ran some blood tests. At this point, I actually highly doubted that I had celiac. It wasn’t like I was bedridden or anything, so I figured it couldn’t be autoimmunity.
But the blood tests came back positive, and so did the endoscopy. I was really surprised, but also really relieved that I had found the reason for not only the ailments I was currently dealing with but the ones that I’d dealt with throughout my childhood (anxiety, insomnia, migraines, digestive complaints).
how did life change after diagnosis?
When I got the diagnosis, I, of course, swore off gluten forever-and-ever-amen. I also made sure that I filled my life with tons of nutrient-dense foods - meat, poultry, eggs, fish, veggies, fruit, starch, nuts, coconut, and tons of healthy fats. It took time and a lot of eating, but my body began to heal.
In the last 5 years I’ve dealt with celiac, appendicitis, antibiotics, and more, so today my #1 priority needs to be health, especially gut health. I’m not 100% yet, but I’ve come so far. Right now my protocol (in addition to a lower carb paleo-style diet) includes 2-4 tablespoons of collagen peptides per day in coffee and such, plus a probiotic, and daily magnesium. I’m constantly amazed at the resilience of the human body when nourished correctly with food, supplements, and healthy movement. Paleo might not be right for everybody, but it’s the perfect anti-inflammatory protocol for my body. I’ve also learned how to strength train responsibly and effectively (2-3 times a week plus an occasional rock climbing day).
why did you start your blog? what did you hope to achieve out of doing so?
I’ve actually been in the blogging space for 5 years, and I started Cook It Up Paleo 3 years ago to bring my creations to a larger audience than the Weebly site I had been running for friends and family. The thing that makes me the happiest is when someone with a food intolerance or allergy can eat one of their favorite foods again because of a recipe I’ve created. I want my blog to give people hope that there IS good food beyond whatever allergy or condition they might be dealing with that is restricting their food choices. It’s so much easier to adopt a healing lifestyle when you can still eat pizza!! (<----YES! My philosophy!)
On my blog, I go beyond gluten-free and venture into the lands of grain-free, egg-free, nut-free, and coconut-free. I’ve baked with dozens of different kinds of flours and ingredients, and I absolutely love creating baked goods that taste like the real thing but are free of tons of allergens! No matter what you can’t eat, my hope is that there is something on my blog for you (possible doughnuts or pizza!)
do you have a celiac/food allergy tip to give?
Learn to bake! Recipes have come so far these days and if you take the time to try out some new flours and recipes I promise you’ll still be able to eat your favorite foods, and you might just make your friends jealous of your delicious treats! Seriously, the other day I brought grain-free low-carb peanut butter cookies to an event of non-paleo people; they all got eaten up! (<-- The truth! Cook and bake and don't be scared!)
have any favorite gluten-free foods or brands to share?
I love baking with Otto’s brand cassava flour; it’s just peeled, dehydrated, and ground cassava (tapioca) root, so it’s pretty whole-food based. It’s nut-free, grain-free, and coconut-free, and it tastes just like white flour and is perfect so many different kinds of recipes! (Yucca love!)
can you share your favorite recipe with us?
My favorite (and most popular) recipe on my website is my Cassava Flour French Bread. It’s so light, fluffy, crusty, and bready!!
what do you hope to see in the future; for yourself and the gluten-free/food allergy community?
I hope to continue to put out tons of free recipes that people with allergies can enjoy. I’ll continue writing ebooks and maybe release a bigger product someday. I love what I do, every day I get to do it is a blessing, and I’m thankful for my journey that’s gotten me to this place. Onward!
As for the celiac community, I hope celiacs can continue to realize that the body needs homemade nutrient-dense foods, not just store-bought gluten-free processed foods, to really heal. Once you’ve removed the offender (gluten), you really need to get some repair guys (whole foods, homemade meals) in there!
My favorite recipe from Heather is her paleo and egg-free cinnamon rolls! You know how I feel about those cinnamon buns 😉 Isn't she fabulous? I love seeing other young people in the allergy/autoimmune community completely thriving and making their diagnosis a spring board for success! Heather truly has done that! I hope she's given you a little inspiration to not let your diagnosis or new diet to get in the way of a happy, healthy life!
So tell me:
+ Where are our paleo people? Raise your hands!
+ Have any questions for Heather?
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