Thursday, April 10, 2014

20 Tips for Coping With Interstitial Cystitis

You know those days - not only do you feel physically uncomfortable, but your mind soon follows suit. The anxiety, worry, and stress creeps in and not only makes you feel worse mentally, but exacerbates the physical symptoms. It's a vicious cycle and one of the hardest to stop. But there are little things you can do to help. Even 5 minutes of distraction from the pain or worries of IC can feel like Heaven. And the more you practice those things, the easier it will become to cope. A healthy mind leads to a healthy body - or at the very least can't hurt. Below I've comprised some of my favorite IC coping strategies that I like to do when "flaring." They don't always take the physical discomfort away, but can help with the mental part. 

* FYI - These are not techniques to make you physically feel better, but rather coping skills and distractions to try while you wait for those meds, etc. to kick in. Sometimes the best thing to do is the thing you don't want to do - to try and ignore how you feel and distract your mind from stressing, worrying, and catastrophizing things. Those moments will come anyway, but you don't have to feed into them or invite them to stay. Do what you need to do to take care of your physical pain/discomfort and then try one of the below tips to cope in the interim. It might be useful to make a list of your most helpful coping strategies and hang them up somewhere and go through them, if needed, on a rough day.

 20 Tips For Coping With IC: 

1) Get in your skivvies (the buff or whatever else you need to be comfortable) and paint your nails. I say skivvies because it's a lot easier to get them down if you need to use the loo stat. Or better yet, try nail polish stickers like these: No dry time and super easy to do.

2) Take a hot shower. The hotter the better. 

3) Give yourself a facial or other beauty treatment. Combine this with a shower to rinse off and really pamper yourself. 

4) Read a book or magazine. These can easily go anywhere with you, if you know what I'm saying.

5) Call or text a friend. You don't even have to let them know you're "flaring" and can talk about anything you want to get your mind off of things. 

6) Pray. Simple. Effective. Real. He's listening. 

7) Watch a movie. This is a lot easier to do if you're not running to the bathroom every 5 minutes, but worth trying if you have a bathroom close by or it's an old favorite where you know the story already. 

8) Bake or cook something. Whether it be a tried and true favorite treat or hop online and find something new to whip up. There are lots of IC friendly recipes. I share some here on my blog and you can also tweak almost any recipe to be IC safe. Google "IC safe recipes" or look here to start:

9) Clean the bathroom or other nearby room if you're stuck in the there. May as well be productive if you can't do anything else. 

10) Journal or start a blog. My current coping technique. :)

11) Gentle stretching or walking. Even if it's just around the house. 

12) A heating pad or hand warmers on your belly. Ahhhh. So relaxing and helps to keep you warm on those chilly nights. 

13) Snuggle with a furball of love. 

14) If you're able to, take a nap. 

15) Listen to music. Download new music. Make an "IC Day" playlist with songs that comfort and encourage you. Current favorite: Mandisa, "Overcomer" 

16) This one is not my favorite, but surf social media. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest can be good distractions. Pinterest is my favorite and less likely to make you feel bad by comparison. 

17) Get your craft on. I'm not crafty, but I know sewing, scrapbooking, and whatever else people do can be very therapeutic and a great distraction. 

18) Draft a healing plan. Look up treatments and techniques you want to try on your healing journey and write down a plan. But do not look up what else could be wrong. Unless you want to think you're dying in 3... 2... 1...

19) Try aromatherapy. Whether in the shower or just lighting a candle in a quiet dimly lit room. 

20) Cry/vent and move on. Get a hug from someone who loves you and let it out. Let yourself be okay with not feeling or being okay right now. Then be good to yourself and promise to take care of yourself whether it be through better diet, trying a new treatment, calling your doctor, etc. And most importantly, keep moving forward. Moments of emotional weakness are not setbacks. They're just that - emotions and moments. They let you know you're human - full of life and love. A life worth fighting for. So rage on and keep living despite IC!

Anyone else have tips to share that help you get through rough IC days?

XX, A! 

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

IC Friendly Chocolate Chip Cookies

Chocolate Covered Kate has done it once again! I am not exaggerating when I say she has some of the best dessert recipes out there for healthy-ish, allergy friendly, mouth watering treats. The girl's got a gift! I make these Chocolate Chip Cookies weekly - they are that good and easy. I adapted mine to be chocolate free (and therefore, IC friendly) and they are still good. I made a whole batch yesterday and ate them all. Now I wish I saved a few for today... Oops. The recipe does not make very many cookies and I typically get about 6-10 cookies, depending on how large I make them. This is good for those with less than ideal self control. I will post Katie's recipe below, but note the adaptations I made and what worked best for me. Sooooo... This is the only picture I got before I ate the last cookie. Sorry, 'bout it. Make your own and you can see for yourself. ;)

IC Friendly Chocolate Chip Cookies

Recipe via:

1/3 cup plus 1/4 cup flour (I used GF - Flour. You can use all-purpose, spelt, or oat.)
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/3 cup sweetened carob chips (IC Friendly) or chocolate chips
2 tablespoons coconut sugar (what I used) or brown sugar.
2 tablespoons white sugar (omit or decrease if you have no sweet tooth)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon coconut oil (my preference - I have also used DF Butter), vegetable oil, or pre-melted margarine
1-3 tablespoons milk of choice (I used rice milk), as needed

1) Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
2) Mix your dry ingredients, then add in wet.
3) Form cookies and bake 6-7 minutes (I baked mine on Parchment paper). Take out when still underdone - they’ll continue to cook while cooling, so you don’t want them to get hard.


XX, A!

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Bluberries and Cream Popsicles

Spring is here, which in my mind means Summer is right around the corner. This thought also makes me crave frozen delights like ice cream and popsicles. Which, having IC and being lactose intolerant, makes very hard to find frozen Summer treats I can enjoy. I don't recall how I found this recipe, probably somehow via Pinterest and mindless blog clicking, but that doesn't matter really. All that matters is these are scrumptious, dairy free, and IC friendly! Woohoo! I think they probably taste best with coconut milk, but feel free to test that hypothesis out and get back to me. In the meantime, give your taste buds a little preview into Summer and make these! They're too easy not to. :)

Blueberries and Cream Popsicles

  • 1 can of full fat coconut milk
  • 1 1/2 cup blueberries, fresh or frozen work
  • 2-3 tablespoons maple syrup
1. Pour all ingredients into a blender and blend for about 90 seconds. 
2. Take a taste, if it’s sweet enough, pour into popsicle molds. If not, feel free to add more maple syrup and blend for a few more seconds. I used about 2 tablespoons maple syrup total in mine.
XX, A!

Monday, March 10, 2014

Flourless Rasin Oat Cookies

If you haven't heard of Chocolate Covered Katie do yourself a favor and click the link now. I'll wait here. Okay, she's a culinary health food genius, right?! There are so many recipes to choose from and all are healthier versions of our favorites treats and they still taste amazing! Over the last few days I have made several recipes from her site. These cookies are just one of the dishes I found to be delectable! I really appreciate that her recipes don't typically yield large amounts of whatever the item is because self control isn't one of my strong suits, if you know what I'm saying. Anyway, make these cookies. You won't regret it. And you won't feel guilty when you eat them all in one sitting. Which will happen.

Flourless Raisin Oat Cookies
Adapted from

3/4 cup rolled oats
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons coconut sugar or brown sugar (don’t sub with white!)
1 tablespoon white sugar (can omit if you prefer less sugar)
2 tablespoons raisins or chocolate chips, if you rather
1 tablespoon oil or pre-melted margarine (I used dairy-free Eartn Balance)
1-2 tablespoons milk of choice (start with one)
1. Heat oven to 375 degrees F.
2. Blend first 5 ingredients together in a food processor, blender, or Vita-Mix.
3. Mix with other ingredients.
4. Form into cookie shapes and place on greased cookie sheet. Bake 6 minutes.

Makes a small batch, so feel free to double the recipe!

XX, A!

Monday, March 3, 2014

Fudgy Carob Brownies

I have been on a recent carob baking binge. So far I have made Hot Carob Cocoa, Carob Cookies, and now brownies. The cookies were a little dry (not that it stopped me from eating all of them) so I need to improve them a little before I share the recipe. The brownies however, are ready for their debut. They are so fudgy and delish I couldn't wait for them to cool (who has that kind of patience?) and downed two fresh out of the oven. Then I may or may not have had one for breakfast this morning. Are you catching my drift here? These babies are that good. The recipe was technically a gluten-free one, but you can substitute regular flour. Also, I used dairy-free butter which worked just fine. Any way you bake them, you need to make these. Like yesterday.

 Fudgy Carob Brownies
Recipe adapted from:

1/2 cup gluten-free all purpose flour
6 tablespoons roasted carob powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter (I used dairy/soy free Earth Balance)
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon powdered sugar to sprinkle on baked brownies (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 325° F (or 350° F if using metal pan). Grease an 8x8 pan. 
2. Place dry ingredients (minus the sugar) in a bowl and whisk to thoroughly combine. Set aside.
3. In another large mixing bowl, combine butter and sugar and cream the mixture until fluffy and white.
4. Add eggs and vanilla to butter/sugar mixture and beat until combined.
5. Add dry ingredients. Beat just until wet and dry ingredients are combined.
6. Scrape brownie mixture into prepared baking pan.
7. Bake in glass pan 30-35 minutes at 325° F or in metal pan for about 25 minutes at 350° F.
Watch cooking times carefully. When a toothpick inserted into center of baking dish comes out clean brownies are done. Brownies are supposed to have a soft, chewy center. :)
Cool for at least 15 minutes before cutting - if you're crazy patient like that. When cooled sprinkle with powdered sugar (optional.)


XX, A!

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Disneyland or Disney World? You decide!

So I read about this deal on and it's legit. I just bought it. It's not a scammy timeshare thing and there's no catch, except you have to pick one of the participating hotels, which you can see before you buy the deal. Really worth checking out. Here are the basics straight from the site:

What you need to know:
  • For just $139, get 2 round-trip plane tickets plus 2 one-day passes to your choice of Disneyland (Anaheim, CA) or Disney World (Orlando, FL) after you book your hotel accommodations through the One Stop Travel Agency - a fully-accredited ARC travel agency (A+ rating with BBB) that has provided exceptionally-valued vacations to millions of customers
  • Each voucher covers round-trip airfare for 2 adults or 1 adult and 1 child after booking accommodations at one of the participating hotels/resorts for the minimum nights required (minimum varies per hotel/resort); calculate minimum nights here prior to purchasing); review all terms and conditions here
  • Major airline carriers include American, Delta, and JetBlue
  • Trusted hotels include 3-, 4-, and 5-star options like award-winning Crowne Plaza Universal, Sheraton, Hilton, or Marriott
  • At Disney World, enjoy theme parks like Magic Kingdom®, Epcot®, and Disney's Animal Kingdom® 
  • Near Disney World is LEGOLAND, Universal Studios, SeaWorld, golf courses, and beaches
  • At Disneyland, visit Disneyland Park and the popular Disneyland California Adventure Park
  • Near Disneyland is Knott's Berry Farm amusement park, Angels Baseball games, Anaheim Ducks Hockey games, and famous Los Angeles beaches
  • Satisfaction guaranteed 

Also, use this link so I get the credit for sharing. Then share your own link so you get credit. Awe-some.

XX, A!

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Brown Sugar Oatmeal Coconut Chews - Gluten and Dairy Free

On a whim I decided to make a cookie recipe I spotted on Pinterest ages ago. The gal raved about them so I decided to trust her. The only problem was the cookie contained gluten and dairy. So I adapted the recipe and crossed my fingers they would turn out. And lo and behold they did! And they were every bit as good as she said they were. I am adding this one to the cookie repertoire, no doubt!

* Please note - you can replace the dairy free butter and gluten free flour/xantham gum with regular flour.

Brown Sugar Oatmeal Coconut Chews
Recipe adapted from


1 cup Soy/Dairy Free Earth Balance Butter
1 1/4 cups brown sugar, packed
3/4 cup sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 1/4 cups all purpose gluten-free flour
1/2 teaspoon xantham gum
1 cup quick cooking oats
1 1/2 cups shredded, unsulfured coconut
1.) Preheat oven to 350°. Cream together butter and sugars, until they are well-combined.
2.) Add one egg and mix until it’s fully incorporated. Then add the second egg and vanilla, and mix until everything is evenly incorporated.
3.) Add baking soda, baking powder, and salt to the wet mixture. Mix until well-distributed.
4.) Mix flour and xantham gum in small bowl. Add about 1/2 of the flour, and mix until just incorporated. Scrape down the sides of your bowl, and then add the second half of your flour, mixing again until just incorporated. You don’t want to over mix here, or you’ll end up with tough cookies.
5.) Add oats and coconut, mixing until they’re just incorporated.
6.) Roll dough into 1 inch balls - makes about 6 dozen cookies at this size.
7.) Place the dough balls on a baking sheet lined with parchment or a silpat liner, leaving about 2″ between each cookie. Bake for 8-10 minutes, until the edges are lightly brown, but the center is still light in color and puffy.
8.) Let the cookies cool on the baking sheet for about 5 minutes, then move to a cooling rack. Once they’re fully cooled, they can be stored in a ziploc bag or airtight container for up to a week.


XX, A!