New blog!

Stop the clocks! For I have just created a new blog, all about being gluten free. I didn’t want to turn off my more regular readers by posting about a diet they don’t need to follow, so I created a separate one called Gluten Free & The Graceless Girl.

Yes, Graceful Girl would have sounded better, but if you met me, you’d know this was nothing but an out and out lie.

Anyway, pop over there if ingesting a mere Malteser gives you symptoms you’d rather not discuss in polite company (yes, this happened to me yesterday) and share in the gluten free love!

In other news: I’ve started running again. Running is the only exercise I enjoy, and I’m not as bad at it as I think I am. I used to run on a treadmill, but after nearly face planting into one, I lost my confidence in them and I also lost my balance. So this time, I’m running outside. Which is hard. It’s really, really hard! I’m following the Zombies, Run! 5k Training app and I’ve been really, really impressed with it. When I first started running, 2  years ago, I followed the generic C25K programme which is ok, but my god, it is mind numbing. After the first time I did it, I basically went off running and have been trying again and again to get back into it, but the C25K programme makes me want to cry. Zombies, Run! 5k, on the other hand, is amazing. It’s less structured than C25K as it has ‘free run’ sections, where you walk or run as much as you’re able. Basically, it puts the control back in your hands, and I’ve found I trust my abilities a lot more following this programme than I did with the original one. The sessions are longer – the longest session is 52 minutes, and it also intersperses your training with stretches, squats, heel lifts – all things to help you build up your strength. I completed Week 5, Day 1 yesterday, so I’m well on my way to actually achieving it, and outside, too!

The more exciting thing in my life is that I’ve booked to go to Dublin again! It was a bit of an impromptu decision last night, after listening to some Irish drinking songs. I’m going for 4 days in March, and I’m taking my dad with me. His mom is from Dublin and he hasn’t been back since he was about 6, so I’m really excited to show him around, show him the street his mom was born on, get him to drink lots of Guinness… Alas, I can’t drink Guinness (see Malteser incident, above), which slightly diminishes it, but not really! Dublin is the only place I’ve visited where I truly feel like I’m at home. Exciting!

Nikki x

The Great Gluten Free Controversy

So, after a month or so roughly gluten free, I’m starting to feel better again. The bloating is diminishing, and I can go to the toilet like a normal person!

Last week was very touch and go; I felt awful. I was getting really frustrated as I couldn’t see where I was going wrong. Then I found out a colleague of mine came down with d&v the very next day, meaning I had just picked up a bug. Thank fuck for that!

I went GF in the summer last year, but this time I’ve been putting more substitute foods into my diet instead of going all-out low carb. So far, I have discovered that M&S is heaven for us freefromers. Their seeded bread is by far the best I have tried so far (not too keen on Genius, it’s very sweet), and their pizza bases could be mistaken for beautiful gluten filled dough. And we can get party food! Gluten free party food! Thank you, M&S. You are a bloody lifesaver.

Despite Coeliac UK deeming malt vinegar ok to have, I don’t think I’m ok with it. This is something I need to do a bit more testing on which is a shame, as I friggin’ love vinegar. Aspall’s Apple Cider Vinegar is currently my substitute.

I’m also testing out some other foods that are high in FODMAPS and likely to spark trouble in us IBS afflicted beings. I appear to be fine with all veggies and onion. Garlic needs more testing, but I think a lot of fruits are out for me. Which is fine by me, as I have never been a big fruit eater.

I have been finding myself getting a little pissed off lately, however. Not with the diet, it’s working and my tummy is happy, so I’m happy! No, what I’m getting pissed off with is know-it-alls in the media, on the internet, and in real life who basically say, ‘coeliac or GTFO’.

There appears to have been an influx of articles recently calling out gluten free as a fad. Sales are up, so of course we’re all just big fakey fakers, replacing delicious food with mediocre, overpriced alternatives just for the sheer fun of it. It’s all in our heads don’t you know. The placebo effect. Quite how me not having Guinness makes me feel better is a placebo, god knows. I miss it guys. So much. *sob*

I know a lot of people who can’t eat dairy, because if they do they get symptoms very similar to what I get after eating ciabatta. Nobody questions if their unfortunate bowel habits are real; being dairy free is fine! So why the problem with gluten? What is it about this silly little protein that gets people so riled up?

I spend a lot of my time on reddit, which is both good and bad. There is a good gluten free and coeliac community there, but the entirety of reddit is also full of idiots, so it’s swings and roundabouts. I have read of a waitress refusing to believe someone had a problem with gluten because she finished her meal off with coffee. (a) People with coeliac disease/NCGS can have coffee, because coffee doesn’t contain gluten. And (b) who the fuck are you to be judging what other people are eating, you hateful jerk?! (I responded to her, she claimed it was because of cross-reactivity, despite there being no solid evidence of this.)

And then there was the FODMPAS controversy. There were so many posts pointing out gleefully that NCGS didn’t exist, that it was all down to FODMAPS. I mean, duh, how stupid are we? To follow a gluten free diet and feel better on it because grains that contain gluten are also high in FODMAPS. LOL I no rite?!1!

So these idiots who find people avoiding gluten irritating, were actually saying, ‘Guys! It’s not gluten! It’s still wheat, barley and rye, but it’s also tons of other shit, like onions and garlic and cabbage and cauliflower and beans and apples!’ They were annoyed about people restricting one thing from their diet, and instead telling them to restrict even more things.

…Yeah. I don’t follow. What is the beef with gluten?!

I talk to a lot of coeliacs, and 99% of them are happy with the rest of us that avoid gluten. They don’t give a shit why, they’re just happy that restaurants now cater for them and they have three choices of bread instead of one subpar vacuum packed monstrosity.

If my uncooperative tummy pisses you off, I’m not sorry. I can’t help it. Just like how I can’t help that I’m pigeon toed and knock kneed, I can’t help that my tummy can’t tolerate certain things. I can’t help that I tested negative for coeliac, despite showing all the symptoms of it and improving on the same diet.

If you think it’s all in my head, you stay with me for 24 hours after I drink some Guinness. You may start to rethink!

Nikki x

Gluten. Gluten everywhere.


I haven’t been writing here much recently because, honestly, not much has been going on in my life! The job is going well, my love life is non-existent, the puppy is now a year old and has calmed down considerably… things are constant.

One thing that has changed, however, is me seeking a diagnosis for what I like to call my ‘uncooperative tummy’. For years I have had ‘tummy issues’; without delving into detail, I am sure you can imagine what this consists of! Earlier this year, I was getting a bit fed up of my stomach bloating up by 2 inches every evening (yep, I measured!) and the constant gnawing pain in my gut. So I did what every 20-something hypochondriac does and googled that shit. Wheat came out as the top cause of tummy issues, so I cut it out. To no avail. What I had done was replace wheat with rye bread, so after a few weeks of trying this approach, I did some more research and cut out gluten. Now this wasn’t an easy decision, as I had recently discovered I quite like the taste of ale, but ale doesn’t like me. So fast forward a month or so and lo and behold, the stomach aches had vanished. The bloat was still there, but not quite as drastic. I hadn’t had a tummy ache in weeks. I was onto something!

Then I did what I always do, and became obsessed. Just cutting out gluten wasn’t good enough for me, oh no! I have PCOS and had read that the best diet for those of us with a stubborn metabolism is the ketogenic diet. I did this for about 6 weeks, and I lost a few pounds and all was dandy. Who doesn’t like living on eggs and steak and butter? Well I’ll tell you; me. As delicious as this diet is, another medical problem I have to add to my myriad of medical problems is LPR. LPR (Laryngopharyngeal Reflux) is acid reflux where you don’t get heartburn, but instead get an insanely burny throat and post nasal drip. It’s not great, especially since I like to sing! Since April I’ve been on Lansoprazole twice a day which seems to keep it bay. Or rather it did, until I upped my fat intake for the ketogenic diet. So to make the burny feeling go away, I slowly eased myself out of keto; kept my diet low carb but lowered my fat intake too.

Now around this time it was my birthday, and I work in an office. There were cakes. There were lunches out. There was BEER. My diet went out the window. And slowly the bloat returned. The stomach aches made a reappearance. Other things I won’t mention started to happen again. I was not a happy bunny. So I manned up, and visited the doctor.

My doctor was convinced I had IBS. I was a ‘textbook case’. But because of the NICE guidelines, I was tested for lots of other things. Which wasn’t fun, because I have a blood phobia. But I was determined to get to the bottom of it! Fast forward to two weeks later, and I’m sat in my doctor’s office as she says that I tested negative for coeliac, thyroid problems, inflammation (which could indicate chron’s), anaemia, and my immune system response was as it should be. There was nothing wrong with me that they could test for, so thanks to my symptoms and my results on a gluten-free diet, I was diagnosed with IBS with non-coeliac gluten sensitivity. Woooo. Don’t you just love that catch-all diagnosis of IBS?!

In a way, I’m a bit skeptical for testing negative for Coeliac Disease as I didn’t actually eat gluten for the 8 weeks prior to the test; I ate it for maybe three? But I felt so shit eating it that I just couldn’t wait to get it over and done with. There’s a lot of research coming out about NCGS; some link it to FODMAPS, which I don’t think is my problem as when I was doing keto I ate a LOT of garlic and cauliflower. Others believe that gluten intolerance is a spectrum, with NCGS at one end and coeliac at the other. Some don’t believe NCGS is a real thing, but all the major charities and research centres recognise it, including Coeliac UK, National Foundation for Celiac Awareness, Celiac Disease Foundation and  the University of Chicago’s Celiac Disease Center. Whatever it is, I know that I need to avoid it. To celebrate my not being coeliac, mom and I went out for dinner and I had a burger. Since then I have had constant stomach issues, and this was 5 days ago. (My mom also had the burger and was fine, so no, no boar burger food poisoning!) Feeling like this is so not worth the taste of bread, as delicious as bread is!

So in light of this diagnosis and my new way of eating, I think I will try and keep this blog updated a bit more. I’m lucky that I’m not coeliac, but the treatment is still the same, and in a way I feel like my body must be telling me something when you look at the way it reacts. I’m not doing this to be trendy; nothing is more embarrassing than asking a bored waitress the ingredients of everything on the menu. And I really like Guinness’ West Indies Porter! That I can’t drink that ever again (unless I want to feel like shit for a week) is punishment enough. I admit it could be another component of grain, as I don’t think I can tolerate oats either (currently testing this one out), but I still have to avoid the same stuff so does it really matter?

Wish me luck!

The Genographic Project

For as long as I can remember, I have been fascinated with my ancestry. Where I come from, who my ancestors were, what connections to other countries we have.

What I do know isn’t very interesting. My dad’s mom was from Dublin, but she was brought up by nuns and we know little of her family. Esther Mary O’Connor; what a perfect Irish name. Her mother’s maiden name was Taaffe, and aside from the street she was born on (I have a copy of her birth certificate), we know nothing else about that side of the family. There are rumours that her brothers were involved with the IRA (what fun!), but it’s all just speculation. My dad just never thought to ask the questions that come to me, and she died in the ’80s, when I was a baby.

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Working 8.45 to 5

look-at-all-this-work-i-have-not-done-yet-funny-memeSince a large part of this blog was written whilst I was unemployed, and thus followed me through the nightmare of signing on, I thought it best to keep you all informed on what I’m doing and maybe even offer some tips to those still unfortunately unemployed.

As of yesterday, I got a full-time, permanent job! It’s at the company I was on a temp contract for. A week before that contract ended, I interviewed for a Merchandising Assistant job and I walked into it the day after my old contract ended. If I believed in fate, this is it.

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On Prisons and Books.

So. The ‘prison book ban’. It’s not actually a ban, but it’s still a pretty stupid rule, and I fancied writing about it.

What the ‘prison book ban’ actually is, is a ban on all parcels for inmates who aren’t brand new. Brand new inmates are allowed one care package, I believe, and that’s it.

Apparently, it’s because Chris Grayling has introduced a new sliding scale of privileges, and he believes prisoners being able to receive parcels from outside would undermine this new system. (Previously, new inmates would start out halfway up the privileges ladder, and would move around according to behaviour. Now, like all Tory policies, everyone starts at the bottom.)

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Back to the Grindstone

So, my current job’s contract is up in just under five weeks. This is a little terrifying, but this time round I have savings, which means no prospect of the Jobcentre; that definitely reduces the terror a bit!

Seven months on after I landed this job, has the job market changed? Well – no. In fact, I’d say it’s gotten worse. I am now seeing more adverts for ‘interns’ and ‘apprentices’, because apparently expecting to be paid for your work is socialist commie nonsense!

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