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5 Things To Look for When Reading Labels for Gluten When Grocery Shopping Gluten Free

When you are grocery shopping gluten free, reading labels for gluten is very important. (for more on that, check out my previous post The Importance of Reading Labels for Gluten When You Are Grocery Shopping Gluten Free). However, sometimes it can be difficult to know exactly what things to look for when you are reading the labels for gluten. There are several things you should be looking for on a food label to assure that the product you want to purchase in the grocery store is gluten free. There are also several things you should be looking for on a food label that will be a clear indicator the product is NOT gluten free.

1. Certified GF or Gluten Free Label – If you find a certified GF label or simply the words “gluten free” on the label of products when you are grocery shopping gluten free, then you’re good to go! You can enjoy these products in the grocery store without worry.

2. Bold Letters – It is important to pay attention to bold lettering. They often will tell you what allergens that are contained in their products in bold letters. If the bold lettering states the product contains wheat/gluten, you know it’s not good to eat. If wheat isn’t listed as an allergen, I would say you’re usually good to eat the product. However, it is also important to note that wheat isn’t the only form of gluten. I suggest you make sure to check the other ingredients on the label carefully to make sure there aren’t derived from gluten.

3. Products With No Specific Labeling – These grocery store products can be tricky. These are the ones that don’t say they are gluten free, but also don’t have any allergy warning. If you have more severe allergies/sensitivities to gluten, I would definitely suggest proceeding with caution. Personally, I don’t usually risk eating these products. However, if you are less sensitive, and feeling like you thoroughly read through the label finding no gluten, the decision up to you. I usually tend to be more cautious with eating these types of products, but to each their own.

4. Contains Traces of Wheat/Gluten – When you see a label like this on a grocery store product, it usually will be in bold lettering (although this isn’t always the case).  Products that claim to contain traces of wheat are NOT gluten free, and need to be avoided if you have a more severe sensitivity to gluten.

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5. Manufactured in a Factory That Produces Gluten or Wheat – This label is another tricky one. Again, if you have a more severe sensitivity/allergy to gluten, I do not recommend eating any product that contains this labeling. Chances are, products with this label are cross contaminated (you can read more about the dangers of cross contamination in a gluten free diet here), and should be avoided.

Important Thing to Note – Although these 5 things to look for when reading labels for gluten are helpful, it is still important to always be cautious when you are grocery shopping gluten free. Don’t just assume something is gluten free, and if you are unsure about the GF safetiness of an ingredient, make sure to look it up or ask someone for help to be safe! Although it can be challenging at first, with experience and practice you will become a pro at reading labels for gluten when you are grocery shopping gluten free.

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My Journey Preparing and Traveling to Study Abroad in Argentina

Several weeks ago was the day that I left for the Bible college, where I will study abroad in Argentina, and to say that it all became very real very fast is an understatement. I had talked about my plans after high school with every teacher who asked me. I had shared my fears, my hopes, what I would be doing in Argentina with all my friends and family. However, talking about doing something, and actually getting off the couch and doing it are two completely different things. Let’s just say my experience preparing for and traveling down to Argentina for Bible college was a combination of a roller coaster of emotions, and needing to rely on God for strength.

Preparing for Argentina – You could say I had to hit the ground running to make sure I was prepared to leave on time for Argentina. I had worked and lived at a Christian summer camp all summer and only had two weeks to get everything ready. Most days when I returned home consisted of appointments, packing, and spending time with loved ones. I found myself having a lot of fear and discontentment about my situation. I had a lot of discontentment because I wasn’t going to the same Bible college as the friends that I made at my Christian summer camp. I had a lot of fear because my health wasn’t where I wanted it to be, and I was nervous about how it would hold up in a foreign country. Overall, I started to have a lot of doubts if going to Argentina was the right decision.



Traveling to Argentina – Despite the doubts I had, I knew I already had money invested in going to Argentina, and my only option was to go. When I started my journey to Argentina it took a lot out of me. For one, it took a lot out of me emotionally because I had to say goodbye to my family in the airport. Saying goodbye made me realize how real this was all becoming. A few years back I spent all of my free time in bed sick with a chronic illness, and now I was boarding a plane to live abroad for 10 straight months. It’s honestly still so surreal to me how much God has blessed me despite all the pain my chronic illness caused. By the time I finally arrived in Argentina I was also exhausted physically. I was unable to sleep on the overnight flight to Argentina and stayed up 40 hours straight by the time I was able to go to bed my first night in Argentina. Let’s just say, it was a rough two days of traveling and settling into my new home.



What God Taught Me Through It – Although I struggled a lot leading up to my move to study abroad in Argentina, God taught me a lot through it. He showed me that even though I made a lot of mistakes with my attitude leading up to Argentina, I am not enslaved by my sin. God helped me remember that because of what Jesus has done for me, I can repent and ask for forgiveness for my sin. He also showed me how much he works in our lives when we are facing trials. Although it would have been easier to go to the same Bible college as my friends from the Christian summer camp I worked at, I know that it would have kept me inside of my comfort zone. Being in Argentina has brought far more trials, which is good because our trials produce endurance (James 1:2-3 Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance). In conclusion, my journey planning and traveling to study abroad in Argentina was very challenging. However, through all the struggles I faced God taught me a lot and I am very thankful.

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How the Love of Christ United Two Friends Despite Their Differences

As human beings, God created each of us with our differences. We all have different perspectives, interests personalities, ways we show love to one another, etc. Because of the many differences we all have, it can sometimes be difficult to understand one another. I definitely experienced that this summer when I became close friends with a guy I worked/lived with named Sean.

My First Impression of Sean – When I met Sean initially, I was not sure how we were going to get along. He was covered in tattoos, loved art, and came off as a sporty guy. These were all 3 things I had very little interest in. I couldn’t draw to save my life, I didn’t understand why he had so many tattoos, and I used to get bullied by the guys I perceived as sporty. At first glance, he definitely didn’t look like someone I would befriend in my everyday life.

My Pre-Judgments were False – It wasn’t that long after I made a judgment of who I thought Sean was, that I realized that there was a lot more to him than what I saw at first glance (side note: having first impressions of people you meet is normal, but never assume your first impression is accurate). He turned out to be a really caring guy, who also knew how to have a good time. Our interests were very different, but throughout the summer I learned to appreciate his interests. Although art wasn’t my personal passion when he showed me pictures of some of his work I could appreciate that he was very talented and gifted at it. When he explained his tattoos to me, each one had a really cool and unique meaning/story behind them. He also did like sports but was nothing like my dumb, close-minded view of what a “sporty guy” was like. I liked Sean as a person, and I realized he wasn’t anything like the person I wrongly prejudged him to be. We became friends early in the summer, but that doesn’t mean we didn’t have our struggles.

Our Struggles Understanding One Another – Initially, Sean and I had a very difficult time understanding one another because of our very different perspectives and past. For me personally, the biggest difficulty I have connecting with anyone my age is the fact that I have lived the past 5 years of my life with a chronic illness that makes me feel pain every day of my life. Because of this completely different lifestyle compared to an average teen, the way I handle and respond to situations, in general, is a lot different from most people my age.  I have a hard time blindly trusting anything and have to think everything through. Sean, on the other hand, is a lot more laid back and is better at trusting that God’s going to provide and everything is going to work out. This made it very difficult for Sean to understand me. We found ourselves getting into lots of disagreements the first few weeks, and getting frustrated with one another. Another thing that was a struggle for me was being able to understand how to give and receive love to one another (also known as love languages). We both really valued quality time, but I also value words of affirmation, while Sean enjoys physical touch and joking around to show his love. I often times felt confused at first because I would take the jokes he made seriously and get offended, rather than understanding that he was joking, and through his humor showing love to me. Let’s just say in the beginning when Sean and I didn’t understand each other’s differences it was rough at times.



Our Progression as Friends –Although it was initially very difficult for Sean and I to understand each other, there were several things made a big difference and grew us to eventually becoming close friends.

  • Being Intentional – The first thing that made a big difference was being intentional. There was one day in particular that I remember when Sean and I had several arguments throughout the day. I got very discouraged that day and started to assume that I was just annoying Sean and he didn’t want to talk to me. However, one moment that really made a difference was Sean going out of his way to approach me about the issues we were having later that day. He told me that he wanted to work out our differences and that we should talk about them. Initially, I was shocked. I had no idea that Sean cared that much, but all it took was that one act of him being intentional for me to know.
  • Good Communication – Once Sean and I had made it clear to one another that our intentions were to try and understand one another, the next step was having good communication. Through good communication, I was able to open up to Sean and explain the different perspective I had due to chronic illness, and why I felt frustrated. Sean also opened up to me and explained his frustrations about the issues we were having. After we established good communication, things got a lot better for us. If either of us had a problem with each other we knew we could confront each other in a loving Christ-like way, and try to understand each other’s point of view to resolve the issue.
  • Unity in The Love of Christ – The final and most important thing that made a difference was our ability to find unity in the love of Christ (just like my friend Jacob from my last post). There were still times that Sean and I didn’t understand each other throughout the summer. But what we could always do was show each other love. My preferred way of showing love (encouraging words, deep conversations, quality time) and Sean’s way (touch, messing around, quality time) were very different, but we had to learn to meet each other’s love languages in the middle to make both people feel loved. The way we both showed our love to one another became a mix of encouraging words, deep conversations, quality time, physical touch, and general messing around with each other. Regardless, at the end of the day we were always able to tell each other we loved one another, because of the love Jesus has given us.
  • There Still Were Struggles – Don’t get me wrong, this progress didn’t all happen as smoothly as I might have made it sound. We are all sinners, so at the end of the day, Sean and I still made mistakes throughout the summer. However, I’ve found this summer that if you love and care about a person enough you can still make your friendship work if you’re willing to put in the effort.

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Reflecting On Our Summer Together – Although it was hard in the beginning, a lot of good teachable lessons came out of Sean and I’s friendship. According to Sean, he felt humbled by the experience and learned to be more patient with people. Most of Sean’s close friends prior to this summer were a lot like him, but by being forced to live together he learned that you can be different from people and still have a great relationship. He also learned through our relationship with Christ and loving on each other God can build great friendships with people who are different than us. Personally, I learned that making pre-judgments on someone based on your past is wrong, and you can’t let your insecurities stop you from making friendships with people who are different from you. To be honest, had Sean and I not lived together I probably wouldn’t have talked to him once because of my pre-judgment of who I thought he was, and the insecurities due to my past. Thankfully, God knew what he was doing and forced us to live together so we could form a great godly friendship. I also learned a lot about the different ways people show love to one another. You can have a personal preference of what makes you feel loved, but it is selfish to expect for the love you receive to always be the way you want it. You have to be understood that people express their love differently and you have to meet people in the middle in order to love one another the best. Overall, I am very thankful for all that God taught me through becoming close friends with Sean this summer.

 

 

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How a Guy With Empathy Became Close Friends With a Guy With Apathy

During this most recent summer, I spent 2 months volunteering at a Christian summer camp. To paraphrase, let’s just say it was a very long (but good) summer where I faced many trials I was not expecting to have. However, despite all these trials, the Lord provided many blessings and teachable lessons through it all. One of these trials, that turned out to be a blessing, was living and working with a guy named Jacob.

What I Knew of Jacob Prior – Although this was my first time living with Jacob, we were already somewhat friends and I knew him from the previous year of summer camp. We worked very different jobs, so we didn’t see each other that often. However, when I did see him I always saw him as an upbeat, outgoing, and cheery guy. He was the loudest one cheering at all the meetings, and even won the staff member of the summer award in the volunteer program we work in called “Camp Crew”. When I found out I was going to be living with him for the summer, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. I felt like I knew Jacob better as ‘Jacob the Character’ instead of who Jacob fully was as a person.

Our Initial Struggle Living Together – Initially, it was very difficult for Jacob and I to understand each other. I learned very quickly that the Jacob I knew from last year wasn’t the same Jacob that I would be living with. Behind the funny, outgoing Jacob, was a Jacob who struggled with many mental health issues, such as depression,. I definitely related to having mental health issues like depression, but the way Jacob and I responded emotionally to it was completely different. We were polar opposites on the emotional scale. Due to depression, I had a lot of empathy (the ability to understand and share the feelings of another), while Jacob had a lot of apathy (the absence or suppression of emotion, passion, or excitement). This made it extremely difficult to understand each other on an emotional level. When I was having a rough time emotionally throughout the summer, it would be very exhausting for Jacob to try and sympathize with me. When Jacob was having a hard time, I would get frustrated because I didn’t know how to be there for him and didn’t understand how he didn’t have emotion.

How We Became Close Friends – Despite Jacob and I being completely different emotions wise, it was the love of Christ that united our friendship. Could I understand how Jacob felt very little emotion? Nope! But what I could do is love on him the way Christ would. And that is exactly what I did. I would ask questions, and seek to understand why he had apathy, to show him that I cared. I wrote him notes of encouragement several times, and verbally told him pretty much every day that I loved him and cared about him. Jacob also did things to show his love for me. Even though he could not understand my emotions, he was always willing to sit and listen to what I had to say. He would point out my good qualities when I was feeling discouraged. Another thing that definitely made us become close friends was our ability to communicate with one another. We never will fully understand each other’s emotional state, but talking about it definitely helped. When Jacob shared his testimony with me, he told me about how he had a very lonely childhood, where he didn’t feel like he could express his emotions. He felt like he was always forced to hide his emotions for the sake of others, which eventually lead to him becoming apathetic. When I shared my testimony with Jacob, I told him about how I had been bullied and outcasted a lot when I was younger, which caused me to develop a lot of empathy and care for people going through rough times. Through the love of Christ and good communication, Jacob and I became close friends.

What Our Friendship Has Taught Us – Overall, I feel very thankful and blessed for God placing Jacob and I to live and work together for the summer. We both learned a lot from one another. According to Jacob, he learned that not everything can be solved by just turning off your emotions and forgetting about them.  He also learned that being there for people with complex emotions means more than just giving them a simple pat on the back. It means investing time and letting people be emotional even when it doesn’t make sense to him. For me personally, I learned that being different from one another is okay, and it shouldn’t prevent you from loving on a person or trying to pursue a friendship with someone. I also learned that if you are struggling to connect with a person, a mutual love for Jesus can help in all situations. Overall, I think what Jacob and I learned when we became close friends this summer is that sometimes you have to be willing to work hard to find common ground when you have differences from another person. It definitely wasn’t always easy, but I am very thankful Jacob and I became close friends.

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The Importance of Reading Labels for Gluten When You Are Grocery Shopping Gluten Free

If you are living a gluten free lifestyle, there are many important gluten free tips and tricks you have to remember in order to have a successful gluten free lifestyle (for more on how to live out a successful gluten free lifestyle you can get a free copy of my 5 Helpful Tips for a Successful Gluten Free Lifestyle here). One of these tips is reading labels for gluten on food items when grocery shopping gluten free. I know, I know. If you are new to gluten free living/dieting you may be thinking “that sounds really time consuming!” or “how would I even read labels on grocery store products to make sure they are gluten free?” Trust me, you’re not alone. I may now be experienced in having a successful gluten free lifestyle, but it wasn’t always this easy.

My Initial Struggle Grocery Shopping Gluten Free – When I first became gluten free, one of the most stressful things for me was grocery shopping gluten free. I never was sure whether or not the products I was consuming were safe. It wasn’t uncommon for me to eat a product and then realize after when I had a gluten reaction that it wasn’t gluten free. It wasn’t until I started reading labels when grocery shopping gluten free that I was avoiding accidentally eating gluten filled products.

Why Reading Labels for Gluten is Important – Reading labels for gluten is important when grocery shopping gluten free because many products have hidden gluten we wouldn’t think about at first glance. For example, say you wanted to buy potato chips, which are naturally gluten free. At first glance you may see the potato chips and just assume they are gluten free. However, when you read the label you may find they actually contain wheat or “traces of wheat”. This means that it is not gluten free and could get someone who is more sensitive to gluten sick. While many businesses have started to cater towards gluten free, it is important to remember there are many businesses who still are not concerned with customers who may have allergens.

How to Read Labels for Gluten – At first, it may seem very difficult to read labels for gluten when grocery shopping gluten free. I remember how confused I was when I would read the back of the containers. Unless if it blatantly said “gluten free” I was always hesitant to purchase items. I will go more into depth in my next blog post about things to look for when reading labels for gluten, but what I have done is created a FREE Reading Labels for Gluten When Grocery Shopping GF Cheat Sheet to everyone who subscribes to our email list (you can do that here).

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3 Reasons Why God Allows Adversity in Our Life

Adversity is something we’re all familiar with. Some may face it more than others, but ever since Adam and Eve committed the first sin, adversity was inevitable. Why? Because we’re born into sin (Romans 5:12 – Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned). In the perfect world God intended for us, we would have no problems. Unfortunately, as long as sin is in the world, which it will be until Jesus returns, we are going to have tough times. Does God cause the bad things that happen in our life? No, all good things come from him. God, however, does give us free will and allows some bad things to happen to us for several reasons.

1. To Teach Us –As much as adversity can be difficult, God oftentimes allows it to teach us more about him and valuable life lessons. For me personally, I have definitely experienced this in my life. I have gone through 5 painful years of chronic illness, the unexpected death of a loved one, and years of depression, suicidal thoughts, and feeling like an outcast. Despite all of the adversity I have personally faced, I can honestly see why God allowed it to happen. Was I angry at God for a while? Absolutely, I wanted him to intervene in my bad situations and make it better because I knew he could. However, through these bad situations, I learned a lot. I learned that I wasn’t guaranteed anything in life. I learned that if I rely only on my own strength, I am weak. Most importantly, I learned that everything in life is a gift from God that I need to thank him for. This is just a small fraction of the things going through adversity taught me, but the point is God allowed it all to happen to teach me valuable lessons about him and life in general.

2. To Draw Us Closer to Him –  Although God is a loving God, he is also a just God. God wants every part of our lives to be devoted to him (Matthew 22:37 – And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.”). When we aren’t giving God our everything, he may allow things to be taken away from us in order to draw us back closer to him. I definitely saw this when I went through hard times. When I had bad things happen to me I found myself praying more, reading my bible more, etc.  Although we should always be seeking after God regardless of our circumstances, the bad things in life definitely can make God get our attention. Even when we are staying faithful to him, he may still allow bad things to happen to us to bring us closer to him (similar to what happened to Job). Regardless of what category we fall in to, God allows adversity to happen to us to draw us closer to him.

3. To Grow Us – Despite all of the bad things from a worldly perspective adversity gives us, God allows it to happen to grow us to become more like Jesus. It can be very hard to accept the bad things, but at the end of the day, we were never meant to live comfortable lives as children of God. Does that change the fact the adversity we face can be really difficult? No. However, our goal as Christians should be to constantly strive towards what Christ wants (Philippians 3:14 – I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus). As hard as it can be to accept that God allows adversity to happen from a worldly perspective, he knows best and makes all things work together for our good.

James 1:2-4 – Consider it all joy my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

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4 Helpful Tips for Staying Committed to Your Gluten Free (Or Any) Diet

Often times, when I first tried to commit to my gluten free diet, or any diet in general, it was very difficult. I would feel very tempted to go back to my past eating habits. Fortunately, I have compiled 4 helpful tips for staying committed to your gluten free (or any) diet. I personally have used all of these tips to help me to have successful diets.

1. Find Healthy Alternatives – One of the biggest struggles for staying committed to a diet is craving foods we no longer are able to eat. This can often lead us to cave in and break our diet. Fortunately, I’ve found rather than avoiding our favorite treats pre diet, we can find healthier substitutes. Note: They will not have the same exact taste, but the further you get in to your diet, the more easier and enjoyable these alternative treats will become. If you stay committed, eventually your new diet will become your new normal.

2. Avoid Situations Causing You to Stumble – When you are trying to commit to your diet, it is very important to avoid situations in which you may be tempted to “cheat”. Think of your bad food habit like an addiction. It wouldn’t make much sense for someone struggling with an alcoholic addiction to go to a bar. The same thing is true for someone on a diet. If you are a person struggling to commit to a gluten free diet, avoid the baked good sections of the grocery store. If you are a person struggling to commit to a vegetarian diet, avoid the meat section. Basically, it is important to remove the things that make you tempted in order to stay committed to your diet.

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3. Avoid Cheat Days – If you want to stay committed to your diet, avoid “cheat” days as much as possible. It may feel nice to reward yourself with a meal that doesn’t follow your diet, but it can be very dangerous. It’s very likely it will remind me of your past eating habits, and make you feel very tempted to go back. If you want to be committed to your diet, it’s best to avoid the cheat days and stick to eating healthy alternatives.

4. Remember Your Purpose – Although dieting can be very hard at times, what really will keep you committed is remembering your purpose for why you started the diet in the first place. For some it may be going on a diet to lose some weight, while others (like myself) need to diet because of allergies/sensitivities to certain foods. Will you struggle to commit at times? Will you feel like giving up? In the beginning will you sometimes mess up and go back to your past eating habits? Yes, yes, and most likely yes. Dieting is not easy, but it can be very rewarding. However, as long as you stay determined and continue to remember your purpose of the diet, you can be successful in a gluten free (or any) diet.

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What it Means to Have a Successful Gluten Free Diet

If you are a subscriber of my gluten free email list, you already have received a free copy of my 5 Helpful Tips for a Successful Gluten Free Lifestyle. But what does it mean to truly have a successful gluten free diet?

Enjoying What You Eat – One of the biggest misconceptions about having a gluten free diet is the food is awful. It isn’t uncommon for people’s first reaction to be “I’m so sorry” when you tell them you’re gluten free. However, I have found that not only is it very possible to be gluten free, but it can be very enjoyable. There are many tasty options for gluten free recipes and restaurants (if you’re looking for some GF restaurant suggestions/recipes you can find many on my Pinterest boards).

Setting Goals for Yourself – If you struggle with maintaining a successful gluten free diet, this can be very helpful. Depending on how serious you need to avoid gluten, your goals could range from slowly removing gluten from your diet to staying strictly gluten free and setting a goal to finding new delicious GF restaurants, products, and recipes. No matter where you’re at, setting goals is a great way to keep you on track with maintaining the best gluten free diet possible for you.

Being Committed – Overall, although a gluten free diet can be hard, staying committed is what really will help you live out a successful gluten free lifestyle. At times it may be difficult, but the longer you commit, the easier it becomes to have a successful gluten free diet.

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The Power of Prayer in Stressful Situations

One of my biggest struggles as a Christian has been my prayer life. I’ve always struggled with the concept of why God would want to bother to listen to what I had to say in prayer. Recently, however, God has worked on my heart and shown me the power of prayer in stressful situations.

What is Prayer? – For those of you who are more unfamiliar with the idea of prayer, praying is simply talking to God. You can pray while walking, cooking, driving, etc. The point is you can pray during pretty much any other activity you can think of and wherever you are. People can sometimes over complicate this and think you need to have your head bowed and eyes closed in a church every time you’re praying, but that is not the case. You can pray (talk to God) any time you want because he’s always there. There definitely are times you are praying head bowed, eyes closed, and in a church, but that should not be the only place you are spending time talking to God.

My Experience With Stressful Situations – Just like many of you reading this post, stressful situations are not uncommon for me. I can get stressed about the littler things that don’t matter as much, such as jumping off a zip line on a high ropes course,  and the bigger important things, such as struggling to pay my medical bills. Regardless of the amount of stress, it has been a daily occurrence in my life.


How I Used to Cope with Stress – Before I had God in my life and realized the power of prayer, I was a hot mess. I would resort to many different coping mechanisms such as, isolation, unhealthy eating, watching inappropriate TV shows, and many other things  that all failed. Why? Because I wasn’t walking with God. As much as the world may tell us that you alone have the power to have complete control over your life, it simply isn’t true.

How the Power of Prayer Helped Me (and can help you too) – When I accepted Jesus into my life, my life and stress level changed for the better. When I actually started communicating with him through prayer, it helped me manage my stress on a whole other level. Praying to God doesn’t mean you’ll never be stressed. Bad things can and will happen in life that will stress you out. But when we rely on praying to God for strength, he will never give us a situation too stressful to rely on him for.

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4 Helpful Tips for a Successful Gluten Free Dining Experience

One of the most stressful situations for me as someone who is gluten free used to be dining out gluten free. I never knew which restaurants had options to accommodate me. I didn’t know if there was a risk of gluten cross contamination. Usually, I would just avoid going out to eat all together. Fortunately, however, eventually, I decided to give eating out gluten free another chance. I started to learn the dos and don’ts of gluten free dining, and how to avoid gluten cross contamination. Through my experience, I have come up with 4 helpful tips for a successful gluten free dining experience.

1. Call in Advance – Many times, my family would want to go out to eat, but we weren’t sure if there were gluten free options. It was then that we decided to start calling the restaurant in advance to see if they had GF options, and ask them how they prepared their food (in shared space with gluten, how serious they took GF, etc.). Calling in advance is definitely a start, but it is important to remember that the one person you talk to on the phone can’t always represent the whole restaurant. I’ve been glutened previously at a restaurant because certain members were more knowledgeable than others.

2. Use a Gluten Free App – This one is crucial! Whenever I travelled to somewhere I didn’t know as someone who is gluten free I felt overwhelmed. Rather than searching in google for GF restaurants near me and hoping I would get a result, I started using the Find Me GF app on my phone. Once I used this app, I was able to more easily find gluten free restaurants near me.

3. Read Gluten Free Reviews – This goes along with using a gluten free app. Many of these apps will include customer reviews of past people who are gluten free that ate at specific restaurants. It is important to note some reviews may be based more off of the quality of gluten free food, and others factor in other variables like customer service. Overall, as long as you read several reviews with consistent opinions, you probably can get a good idea of the GF safetiness level.

4. Be Your Own Advocate – One of the biggest tools to avoiding gluten cross contamination often times can be yourself. You can’t control certain things that go on in each kitchen of a restaurant. But what you can control is what you tell your waiter/waitress. Personally, I’ve learned to never be afraid to ask questions, and double check with my waiter about their restaurant’s procedure. The better you can paint a picture of why eating gluten and getting glutened by cross contamination makes you sick, the better chance you may have at avoiding gluten cross contamination. Don’t get me wrong, sometimes you may get unlucky with a waiter a lot less knowledgeable about eating gluten free. However, advocating for yourself is always a helpful way to increase your chances of avoiding cross contamination.

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