Healthy Obsessions The Adventures of a Mild Obsessive Compulsive

Jawbone UP looks like an interesting contender in sleep tech

Just looked at this for the first time (thanks to a commenter suggesting it).

Looks like it uses the same idea as the fitbit and Sleep Cycle; motion tracking to assess your sleep cycles. It’s sound tech, and works well in the two I’ve tried out.

The UP is more of a direct competitor with fitbit, seeing as it also works for tracking movement during the day. Which makes me wonder just how they’re tracking movement, seeing as the Jawbone UP is on the wrist. I don’t know about you, but I move my wrist an awful lot more during the day than I move most of the rest of me (ah, the sedentary life of a writer). Seems likely that there’s some communication with the iPhone to help with that.

I do really like some of the features they mention:

  • Water resistant  (woo! I have a history of dropping expensive electronics in water.)
  • Reminder to move periodically during sedentary (computer focused) activities (this is hugely important for people with RSI, and even though I *know* I should do something like this, I never actually do.)
  • Silent wake-up, via vibration, at the appropriate point in your sleep cycle

That last one is actually of tremendous interest. With both Sleep Cycle and the Zeo, which do the same thing with varying levels of accuracy, you have the issue of potentially waking your partner at an inopportune time. Since they both use sound, it’s really impossible to wake only one person. I can’t tell you the number of times the alarm has gone off waking one of us at exactly the wrong moment, thereby leaving us groggy the rest of the day.

Jawbone UP looks like it might solve that particular problem. Hard to know, not having experienced it and therefore not knowing if the vibration would be enough to wake me. (I’ve been known to sleep through sizable earthquakes). The idea of a dawn lamp really still seems best to me. And if anyone finds a way to connect that to the Zeo (or, heck, any one of these sleep trackers) I’m so totally there.

From what little I’ve seen in commentary, there may be a question of sturdiness with the UP. But then, I found that the fitbit tended to crack (both fitbits I’ve had did this, which makes me wonder at the customer service response saying they’d never seen that before, but they would–and did–replace my broken fitbit). For that matter, the Zeo started malfunctioning a few months ago, and since then it’s been gathering dust on my dresser. Sleep Cycle is, at this point, the only one I’m using every night. Though it is the least accurate of the three. It’s the easiest.

Of course, the reason I’m not using my fitbit is that I managed to misplace it and then, once I found it, I couldn’t find the charger. So, I might still be using it if I could charge it…

The UP weighs in at a solid $99, making it equivalent to the fitbit in terms of cost.

Fitbit Ultra

Zeo @ Amazon

Five Gluten Free Cookbooks (that will make your life a lot easier if you’re a celiac)

A few folks have been asking me which gluten free cookbooks they should get (either for themselves or as gifts for someone else). Here are some of the best gluten free cookbooks I’ve found:

  1. Healthy Gluten-Free Cooking: 150 Recipes for Food Lovers – This one is from the Ballymaloe Cooking School in Ireland, and I stumbled across it when I was searching for an Irish Soda Bread recipe. Every recipe I’ve tried from this book has been a success. The Irish Soda Bread recipe is wonderful.
  2. Gluten-Free Baking Classics – The title says it. This book gives you a great and simple overview of how gluten free flours work, where to find them, and what other things (like, say, xanthan gum) you’ll want to have on hand.
  3. The Gluten-Free Almond Flour Cookbook – Tons of great recipes in here that work not only for celiacs, but also for anyone on a low carb diet. If you sub honey in place of agave nectar, you can adapt many of these recipes for SCD, too. It would also probably work well for paleo diet folks. (The author has recently gone paleo, and she has a website with tons of additional recipes).
  4. The Cake Mix Doctor Bakes Gluten-Free – Confession, I don’t own this one. I own the original gluten-full version, but lordy do I lust after this one. It has great ratings on Amazon (4.5 stars from over 50 reviews). The original was wonderful and it looks like this one will be, too.
  5. Breaking the Vicious Cycle: Intestinal Health Through Diet – This book is the bible of SCD, and it’s a good one. It’s not aimed specifically at celiacs (although the diet was originally developed to treat celiac disease) but it has great recipes. The pizza crust in this one remains my absolute favorite of the various recipes and mixes I’ve tried.
Five great books, and there are dozens more waiting to be discovered or written. But this is a good place to start.

Gluten Free Blondies

Blondies are kinda a cross between a chocolate chip cookie and a brownie. Some recipes call for coconut (no thanks) or dried fruit (why?) but the best (in my opinion) is just plain chocolate chip. Chocolate chip cookie + brownie = awesome.

So I made some:

gluten free blondies

I snagged the recipe from Gluten Free Betty (highly recommend you check out her site). The main difference is that I baked the blondies by about 10 minutes less than she did. I find that with gluten free stuff, I really want to encourage the gooey elements since gluten free baked goods tend to dry out and go stale rather quickly.

The recipe:

1/2 cup butter, melted
2 cups packed brown sugar
2 eggs
2 tablespoons vanilla
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon xanthum gum
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
2 cups gluten free flour mix*
1 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chips

  • Mix melted butter and sugar together
  • Add eggs & vanilla, mix
  • Add dry ingredients, mix
  • Add chocolate chips (as many as you like)
  • Grease 9 x 13 baking pan
  • Pour (or scoop) batter into baking pan
  • Bake at 360 degrees F for 24 – 30 minutes
  • Cool & then serve

*You can use whichever gluten free flour mix you prefer, just be careful if there’s already xanthan gum or baking soda/powder in your mix and adjust accordingly. The original recipe calls for the mix from Gluten Free Baking Classics by Analise Roberts, which is excellent. I’ve also used this mix from Gluten Free Gobsmacked. Both work well, but I find I can’t handle the corn starch in the latter anymore.

Be careful to get a finely ground rice flour for whichever mix you make. The first time round I used too gritty a grind (Arrowhead Mills, while often wonderful, has too coarse a grind of white rice flour for my preference. Left me feeling like I had a mouthful of sand. Tasty sand, but sand nonetheless.) Second time around, I used Bob’s Red Mill Brown Rice Flour, which was finer ground and much better.

Gluten Free Chocolate Chip Cookies

 

Finally found a gluten free chocolate chip cookie recipe that tastes right. A lot like the classic Tollhouse recipe, with the right texture – not floppy, not dry, not crumbly. Instead they’re gooey, or chewy, or crunchie – depending on how long you bake them.

Snagged from Alton Brown (and of course he would be able to figure out a good recipe) over at the Food Network. He says it will make 24 cookies, but I found it made 36 for me. Probably would have made more had I not been eating the cookie dough… which tastes like regular chocolate chip cookie dough!

Ingredients

Cookie Dough! That tastes like cookie dough!

  • 8 ounces unsalted butter
  • 11 ounces brown rice flour, approximately 2 cups
  • 1 1/4 ounces cornstarch, approximately 1/4 cup
  • 1/2-ounce tapioca flour, approximately 2 tablespoons
  • 1 teaspoon xanthan gum
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 ounces sugar, approximately 1/4 cup
  • 10 ounces light brown sugar, approximately 1 1/4 cups
  • 1 whole egg
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 2 tablespoons whole milk
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 12 ounces semisweet chocolate chips
  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. Melt the butter. Once melted, pour into stand mixer.
  3. In a medium bowl, sift together the rice flour, cornstarch, tapioca flour, xantham gum, salt and baking soda. Set aside.
  4. Add both of the sugars to the stand mixer with the butter and cream together on medium for 1 minute.
  5. Add the whole egg, egg yolk, milk and vanilla extract and mix until well combined.
  6. Slowly incorporate the flour mixture until thoroughly combined.
  7. Add the chocolate chips and stir.
  8. Chill the dough in the refrigerator until firm, approximately 1 hour. Shape the dough into  balls and place on parchment-lined baking sheets.
  9. Bake for 14 minutes at 375 degrees, rotating the pans after 7 minutes for even baking. Remove from the oven and cool the cookies on the pans for 2 minutes. Move the cookies to a wire rack and cool completely. Store cooked cookies in an airtight container.

Raw

Fully baked

Half baked

 

Every time I’ve made these, they’ve been completely gone within a day (unless I hide some).

Click below to download a printable recipe card.

 

 

Crazy Tired and Don’t Know Why

There are so many potential causes:

  1. Mom’s radiation is over. Tremendous relief coupled with some amount of emotional collapse.
  2. Went back on sugar over last weekend when we went wine tasting.
  3. Went off SCD (see previous line).
  4. Ran out of Welbutrin (sort of). Did have a few pills left that were not extended release. Problem was, I forgot to take the second dose in the afternoon. Back on full dose as of yesterday.
  5. CPAP has sprung a whistle. The intake is whistling like mad whenever I use the CPAP. It’s bad enough that neither J nor I can sleep through it. I futzed around with my CPAP settings the last two nights (yeah, yeah, I know patients aren’t supposed to hack into the Clinician’s Menu, but I’m nosey). Which helped a little. Lower air pressure, lower whistle. Sadly, I’ve come to the conclusion that the setting my doc had me on was probably correct. My AHI was not so good on the lower pressures. And the pressure average, come the morning, was always very close to the max pressure.
  6. Crazy hormone nonsense. Have I mentioned I have crazy hormone nonsense going on all the time? Yeah. I’m increasingly tempted to go back on the pill just to have it all STOP. But that has its own repercussions.

Today, off to the DME to see if they can fix the whistling issue. And then back to work in rush hour. Things are okay. I’m just tired.

SCD: I’m Doing it Wrong

I know I’m doing SCD wrong. Doing it backwards, really.

You’re supposed to start out with a more limited diet, much like the elimination diet I did back in 08-09. Except more limited than that. This phase lasts 2-5 days. And then you start adding foods in, going in slow stages.

The basic idea (and feel free to correct me if I’m wrong on this) is that your intestine is damaged and having trouble processing foods. Any food that your body has trouble processing gets to sit around too long in your gut, where it becomes a breeding ground for all sorts of fun internal flora. Step one is to get rid of that excess food sitting around, which in turn should cut down on the various harmful bacteria and yeasts making a home in your intestines.

It makes sense. And the initial stage of the diet would do that. Instead, I’ve jumped on essentially at the last phase of the diet, eating all of the advanced (but allowed) foods. In part, I’m theorizing that my intestines are probably already partially recovered thanks to my gluten free lifestyle (it may even be true). In larger part, I’m reluctant to limit my foods even more than the final stage of SCD. I barely have the time to make enough food to get me through the week even as is.

These are excuses. But, like cliches, there is a truth to them.

And, I am finding, even though I’m only doing the most lax version of the diet, I’m seeing benefits. It became obvious last weekend when I broke diet at a convention and immediately got a bloated, unhappy feeling in my stomach. And the next several days I felt bloated and backed up, in a way I hadn’t since shortly after starting SCD.

This week, I’ve been dealing with congestion, earache, muscle pain and a few other things I’m strangely reluctant to talk about. And I realized today, reading through SCD blogs and sites, that what I’m seeing sounds like die-off. That point when the first round of intestinal beasties die for lack of sustenance. It becomes an issue of toxins suddenly rushing your system as the bacteria die. It makes you feel sick. Either that, or I have a bad cold. I will be very disappointed if it’s just a cold.

I’ve only been doing SCD for two weeks, and that with a break on the weekend. So, even done wrong, the Specific Carbohydrate Diet makes a significant improvement.

Going SCD

I’m sure my father will be thrilled with this one. I’ve decided to go SCD.

The Specific Carbohydrate Diet was initially designed to treat celiac disease, lo these many years ago. It’s very restrictive, and therefore hard to convince patients to stick to. Unless they have extremely good reason to do so – like, say, Crohn’s Disease, or Ulcerative Colitis, or Celiac Disease that is non-responsive to a gluten free diet. Luckily, I have none of these particular conditions (oh, isn’t that just asking for the god of digestive disorders to come down and smite me).

I’ve had friends who benefited from it. In many ways it’s pretty similar to the elimination diet I was on back in 2008. And I remember feeling good then. Having fewer skin irritations, fewer breakouts, a more settled stomach. This is not to say those are currently big problems, they aren’t. But the idea that I could feel *even* better if I just restricted my diet a *little* more… Well. I’ve never been great at moderation. And… I guess eating gluten free has just gotten… easy. And I get bored with easy.

I’ve figured out how to cook the way I want to while being gluten free. I’m curious to see how I handle this particular challenge; it’s a lot harder. Tonight, I made what I’m going to call Halva Cookies, since they remind me just faintly of the Halva I grew up with. They’re not quite what I’d like them to be, but I expect I’ll get them there. The flavor is just too mild at the moment. I’ve also got my first batch of soon-to-be-yogurt cooling on the stove. I need to add the yogurt starter, put it in mason jars, and get the dehydrator going.

If you’re interested in SCD, here’s a link to the book:

testing

this is just a test

Things to Do with a Zeo & Why FAA OSA Rules Suck

Another interesting thing to do with a Zeo: make your partner wear it.

Particularly if your partner, like mine, complains about being tired all the time and thinks you’re the cause because you always want to go to bed late.

Turns out, his sleep when I’m next to him is actually better than when I’m not. Also turns out that me waking up regularly throughout the night doesn’t actually register with him. Instead, we have learned that his sleep is very disturbed and he gets a very tiny amount of deep sleep.

Hopefully this is something easily dealt with. Hopefully it’s not his sleep apnea coming back. He had a surgery before I met him that supposedly dealt with it. Certainly made him feel better. It was not the UPPP nor the MMA, but I can’t recall the name of the procedure at the moment. It did involve restructuring his soft palate and removing the uvula, but it also involved other steps I’m not recalling.

He’s reluctant to go back to the sleep doc, though. If he does, and he’s diagnosed with sleep apnea, he loses his piloting license. There are tests that he can undergo to get a medical exception, but those are exceptions. And expensive.  And, while he isn’t a professional pilot, flying is one of the few things he does just for the joy of it. Losing that outlet would be bad. Read more →

Jelly Belly Gluten Contamination

You know how, when you pick up a packaged food and you read the ingredients, they list potential allergens? Like “processed in a facility with peanuts” or something similar? I’ve always made the same assumption that the author of Gluten Free and Tasty made: if they’re labeling food allergens, that means they are conscientious, which means that they would have listed gluten were contamination a possibility. I assumed it meant that I was safe. Not so…

Apparently Jelly Belly lists several products as gluten free that aren’t. They’re made on machinery that also processes gluten containing products. Which means contamination.

This is why we need the FDA to make rules about what can and cannot be considered gluten free. Thankfully, they’re in the process of defining the term and passing regulations.