Something Yummy in Season

The Farmers’ Market season has begun! Some, like Burke are open now, and I got asparagus, apples, sweet potatoes and a bunch of plants.

I love gardening, and also buying from local farmers when possible. It was a rude awakening, moving from sunny California for grad school to Northern Virginia almost 18 years ago….there were farm stands everywhere, and I was totally accustomed to easy access to fresh, beautiful food. So I’ve been gardening since to fill some of the blanks.

Since we’ve moved to a more wooded area a few years ago, my garden has largely been a buffet for the deer and groundhogs. Sometimes I get a nice harvest; other times, I’m feeding the wildlife. So far, I’ve got kale, garlic, onions, herbs, strawberries, and green beans and I just put in potatoes, sweet potatoes, Thai peppers, basil and stevia, and more to come this weekend.  I’ll put them in soon anyway and hope for the best. We also have a blackberry and blueberry plant, and even grapevines. The blackberry has a ton of flowers this year (right), which hopefully means there’s lots of fruit coming my way!

Even if the critters get my veggies, there are a bunch of Farmers’ Markets and locally grown resources to give more options, and the number of markets has only grown for the last decade. We’ve got a bunch of markets nearby, and they’re about to open or just opened.

Why go to a Farmer’s Market?

  • They’re terrific for encouraging people to branch out and try new foods. There are generally a lot of samples, and everything looks so good. Works well for kids, too!
  • Fresh produce and meat. Most fruits and vegetables are picked that day. Seasonal food is generally going to be more nutritionally  dense than something shipped around the globe.
  • Support for local farmers and the local economy.
  • Few or fewer pesticides on fruits and vegetables. A plum shipped from Chile need a lot of pesticides to keep it lovely even after traveling thousands of miles.
  • Greater variety. While Whole Foods or Wegmans may have 5 kinds of apples, it’s common to have a choice of 10+ varieties and discover new flavors that you enjoy.
  • Better taste! There’s nothing that compares to the taste of a freshly picked tomato, peach, or apple.
  • The “manufacturer” is usually right in front of you, so if you have questions about how something is made or grown, just ask!

I’d be willing to bet there’s a market near you. Here’s a listing of Farmer’s Markets

Also, another great option are CSAs (Community Supported Agriculture). If that’s more your scene, there’s a nice list here.

Whether you have a nice big garden or even just an available window, it’s a great time to get growing. Even a sunny window should work for herbs like basil.

Cheryl Harris, MPH, RD is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and Certified Wellcoach in Fairfax VA (and currently, remotely). She helps people with a range of dietary issues, including Celiac Disease and all sorts of GI disorders. Let’s get you on your way to achieving your goals and feeling great! Email or call 571-271-8742.

Celiac Disease Awareness–May 2021

Happy Celiac disease Awareness Month! To celebrate, let’s talk about how to eat gluten-free and healthy.

Gluten-free and Healthy

Going gluten-free can be a big turning point to greater awareness and eating healthier.  All of a sudden, people need to start reading labels, and many begin to wonder why there are all of these ingredients they can’t pronounce and why high fructose corn syrup seems to be in everything.  Or maybe after years of eating anything and staying slim, the pounds have started creeping upward, or blood pressure, blood sugar or cholesterol numbers are moving in the wrong direction.

Here are some quick suggestions to make your diet healthier:

  • Go for healthy fats. Omega 3s are so important! Increase the amount you eat of fatty fish, like salmon, trout, flounder, sole, rockfish, sardines and more. Plant based options include flax, chia, walnuts, etc.
  • Calcium is key! This can be from Greek yogurt, cheese, or milk, or if you avoid dairy, choose sardines, collards or turnip greens, beans, nuts, etc.
  • Switch to a GF baking blend using sorghum, garbanzo beans, almond or coconut, brown rice or other whole grains.
  • Have fruit or vegetables with every meal—5-9 servings a day.  That can be as easy as an orange with breakfast, a veggie soup and a salad with lunch, dried fruit for snack and 2 servings of veggies along with dinner.
  • I’ve just updated the Farmers’ market list for 2021, too–a great place for veggie and fruit inspiration!
  • Include legumes (i.e., dried beans and peas) with your meals regularly; increase your intake of these foods gradually to limit gas.
  • Drink your water!  8 glasses a day are important to stay hydrated, especially when you increase the amount of fiber you eat.
  • Include nuts and seeds several times a week, which also contain monounsaturated fats and can help control blood cholesterol levels.
  • Find a way to reduce stress: acupuncture, meditation, deep breathing, talking to a friend, dancing, walking the dog, or whatever works for you. This under the umbrella of nutrition, because most people don’t reach for Brussels sprouts when they get stressed.
  • Use healthy oils, like olive, avocado, etc. and eliminate trans fats.
  • Limit sugar and high fructose corn syrup.
  • Take care of yourself. This includes sleeping well, reducing stress, and doing things you enjoy.  You’re worth it.

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May is also Ehlers-Danlos Awareness Month. If that’s a new term to you, it’s a connective tissue disorder that’s actually linked to Celiac and other digestive conditions. I recently did a presentation for the DC Metro EDS/HSD Support group on Digestive Disorders in EDS and HSD and How Nutrition Can Help.

  • Since many people are starting to travel again, I’ve updated my gluten-free “grab & go” list.
  • I’m excited about a new cookbook, Gluten-free Baking for Beginners by In Johnna’s Kitchen. It was just released on May 18th– I got to preview a copy and it looks fantastic, and delicious, especially for people with multiple food restrictions.
  • Gluten-free and kosher? There are upcoming (online) classes on baking GF breakfasts…and upcoming dates for picnics, BBQs & more.

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Cheryl Harris, MPH, RD is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and Certified Wellcoach in Fairfax VA (currently, remotely!)  She helps people with a range of dietary issues, including Celiac Disease, GI digestive issues and more. Let’s get you on your way to achieving your goals and feeling great!  Email or call 571-271-8742.

 

Celiac disease & Ehlers-Danlos: What’s the Connection?

May is Celiac awareness month. It’s also Ehlers-Danlos awareness month. And if you’re really genetically blessed like me, you may be personally aware of the link between the two. If not, indulge me in a quick discussion of the research, because it’s too rarely discussed.

The Ehlers Danlos Society Logo

There was a 2011 paper which indicated that Celiac was much more common than expected in people with hypermobile EDS. [1] 19% had positive Celiac serology (bloodwork), and 16% agreed to a biopsy, and those 16% were confirmed to have Celiac disease. Notably, the sample size for this study was small—it was only 31 people—however, 16% is much higher than the expected prevalence of Celiac disease, which is ~1%.

2015 paper also indicated a potential link between Celiac disease and hypermobility, with found that 30% of people with Celiac met the criteria for Joint Hypermobility Syndrome (JHS), which is now known as Hypermobility Spectrum Disorder (HSD). [2]

Most recently, in 2021, a case control report looked at people with all types of EDS, and found that Celiac disease was one of the most common GI conditions associated with EDS, and the association was much stronger than in controls. The study did not break out EDS subtypes, however. [3]

So, while the percentages and the details may still be a question, clearly there is some link between Celiac disease, EDS and Hypermobility Spectrum Disorders. And it is worth noting that while EDS is quite rare, HSD is common; 2-3% of the population.

Of course, testing is always essential before dietary changes because a proper diagnosis is critical. Other people may simply respond poorly to FODMAP content of wheat, so a much larger portion may feel better gluten free, even though they don’t have Celiac.

For more of the research on digestion and hypermobility and EDS, I do have more fun stuff on nutrition for GI issues and all things hypermobility here.

Footnotes

  1. Danese C, Castori M, Celletti C, Amato S, Lo Russo C, Grammatico P, Camerota F. 2011. Screening for celiac disease in the joint hypermobility syndrome/Ehlers–Danlos syndrome hypermobility type. Am J Med Genet Part A 155:2314–2316.
  2. Fikree A, Aktar R, Grahame R, Hakim AJ, Morris JK, Knowles CH, Aziz Q. Functional gastrointestinal disorders are associated with the joint hypermobility syndrome in secondary care: a case-control study. Neurogastroenterol Motil. 2015
  3. Rachel S Brooks, James Grady, Thomas W Lowder, Svetlana Blitshteyn, Prevalence of gastrointestinal, cardiovascular, autonomic and allergic manifestations in hospitalized patients with Ehlers-Danlos syndrome: a case-control study, Rheumatology, 2021.