About Megan

Megan Ancheta is a stay at home mom to two little girls (Kylie-8, Abbi-5) who are gluten, dairy, and mostly corn free. Due to psoriatic arthritis, spondylitis, and secondary Raynaud’s phenomenon, Megan follows a gluten free and whole foods diet in the hopes of slowing down the progression and severity of her autoimmune diseases. She is a homeschooler, the owner of a rambunctious yellow lab puppy named Thor, and the author of the gluten free and allergy friendly blog, Allergy Free Alaska (formerly MAID in Alaska). When Megan is not attempting to chase her girls, moose out of her yard, or the dog, she is perfecting her gluten-free/allergy friendly recipes, drinking coffee, and spending time with her favorite guy, her husband.

Family crop (Medium)

Unfortunately sometimes it takes a life changing event like a medical diagnosis to make you realize you need to change your diet. That’s what happened to me. In January 2009 I was diagnosed with a debilitating autoimmune disease called psoriatic arthritis. Psoriatic arthritis (PsA for short) is a chronic, systemic (whole body), inflammatory autoimmune disease that affects my skin, joints, connective and soft tissues, and even organs. With PsA, my immune system malfunctions and attacks its healthy tissues. I experience pain in my feet, ankles, knees, hips, lower back, spine, chest, shoulders, neck, and eyes (just to name a few). I also suffer from spondylitis and secondary Raynaud’s phenomenon.

Spondylitis is inflammation of the spine; the inflammation in my spine may lead to partial fusing of my lower spinal column and neck over time.

Raynaud’s phenomenon limits my body’s flow of blood to my hands and feet. It makes my fingers and toes feel cold and numb, turning them white, blue, or purple (even in 70 to 80 degree weather).

Me cropped (Small)

I am a relatively “healthy looking” 30 something year old. Just by looking at me you would never know I battle debilitating chronic illness, that’s why these types of diseases are also called “invisible illnesses.”

Unfortunately, there isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t feel some sort of pain, although my pain varies from annoying to very intense and painful, depending on weather, stress, and what I’ve eaten. Thankfully, my quality of life improved tremendously by simply changing my diet and I still haven’t suffered joint damage because of my PsA, which is such an incredible blessing!

When I was first diagnosed with psoriatic arthritis by a rheumatologist in 2009 I was prescribed different oral medications to alleviate my symptoms (first sulfasalazine and then methotrexate, both are low dose chemotherapy drugs). They did not work and my arthritis continued to progress. My doctor wanted to then try TNF blockers (which are genetically engineered drugs given by injection and are very expensive), but after reading the list of side effects (suppressing the immune system, cancer, hepatitis B, etc.) I decided they weren’t for me.

Kylie-Abbi-Allergy-Free-Alaska

At that point in time, I was in so much pain I could hardly get out of bed in the morning to get my youngest daughter from her crib. It was awful. I remember lying in bed sobbing, in horrible pain, and feeling absolutely helpless and incapable of taking care of my own children. On a whim and a prayer, I made an appointment with a naturopathic physician I found online. I was so incredibly desperate for help when I walked in Dr. Amy Chadwick’s office at Soaring Crane Clinic. I was prepared to do/give up whatever she wanted me to (coffee being my only exception). Dr. Amy put me on what’s called the “Anti-Inflammatory” diet. I went from eating anything and everything I wanted to becoming gluten, dairy, soy, corn, tomato, potato, orange/grapefruit, peanut, white rice, and refined sugar free overnight – totally cold turkey. It was a shock to my system to say the least, but Dr. Amy also loaded me up with probiotics and other homeopathics to try to boost and balance out my system.

My body went through an intensive detox period, but after about two weeks, I gradually started feeling better and gaining more energy. Getting out of bed in the morning wasn’t such a chore. As more time went on, I continued to feel better. I still had pain and inflammation, but the pain wasn’t as great as what it was prior to starting my new “diet.” It wasn’t a cure, but it gave me the ability to function.

Looking back on my life, there have always been obvious signs of gluten intolerance and other food sensitivies, but only now am I able to make the connection. In my pre-teens, I remember diarrhea and other IBS symptoms being an everyday occurrence. Psoriasis first made its appearance on the back of my scalp when I was 14 years old, symptoms of Raynaud’s appeared over the years (although I didn’t know what it was), and I was clinically diagnosed with moderate post-partum depression a year and a half after the birth of my first child in 2005.

IBS symptoms, autoimmune disease, depression… I contribute all of these to gluten sensitivity and overall poor gut health, although I also believe my own genetics had a hand in it too (my grandma and great grandma both had psoriasis). I have been sick and my gut has been damaged for a long time now, which is one of the reasons I’m on such a restricted diet; my gut is going to take a while to heal.

When I was diagnosed with Spondylitis in May 2012, I was so incredibly sick (I lost around 10 lbs in less than a month because the pain was so intense) that I decided to try one of the TNF blocker medications I so desperately wanted to avoid. I was on Humira for nearly 3 months; I appreciated the energy it gave me, but it made me sick (horrible IBS issues). I stopped taking it and will continue to remain medication free for as long as I possibly can.

I don’t know what the future holds for my body (joint replacement surgeries, a ruptured Achilles, a fused spine, etc.), but I have peace in knowing I’m doing as much as I can to keep my body healthy and low in inflammation. This isn’t a diet for me anymore; it’s a lifestyle – something I will continue for the rest of my life.

It can be hard to consider a disease a blessing, but there have been so many positives due to my autoimmune diseases. My family eats clean, mostly organic, whole foods now instead of the processed, modified, sugar filled foods we were eating before. I’ve discovered my real passion in life – helping people eat well on restricted diets, which is something I would have never considered years ago. I enjoy developing recipes and hearing how they have blessed someone’s life. I wouldn’t give this journey up for anything; I am incredibly blessed!

May the recipes you find on this website bless your health and family as they have mine.

Bon Appétit!
Megan

PS- For more information on my ongoing medical journey, check out my Medical Journal.

 “My health may fail, and my spirit may grow weak, but God remains the strength of my heart; he is mine forever.”  -Psalm 73:26 (NLT)

Comments

  1. Cherie says

    I like that one!! I want those pretty colors in my hair! You did an amazing job and have the best recipes. Thanks for sharing them and being such an amazing friend! xoxo
    Cherie

  2. says

    Congrats on your top 25 Food Allergy Mom Blog nomination! I’m listed as well (my son has several food allergies – most of which you mention removing as part of the anti-inflammatory diet, interesting!) and it’s given me an idea. I’m starting a blog hop for anyone dealing with allergies, eczema, or asthma – adults or parents helping their children. If you’re interested in joining, please visit my page. http://itchylittleworld.wordpress.com/blog-hop/

    Hopefully we can create a circle of blogs to support each other in battling these conditions.

    Jennifer

  3. says

    Megan,
    Thanks for stopping by my site this morning. It is always great to find other Alaska food bloggers. Food blogging is such an amazing community as I am sure you have found. I admire your dedication to making life healthier for your kids and striving to find allergy free alternatives. Good luck with it all.
    -Nicole

  4. Lisa says

    Megan, my late mother had wheat allergies for a few years, but it was back in the late ’70s and early ’80s. There was no mention of gluten back in those days, but I learned a lot about allergies from her experience.

    I don’t have gluten problems, but one of my girl friends and her twin sister have “stomach trouble” and do gluten free, and I’m doing whatever I can to help them make their lives easier.

  5. Holly says

    Hello, We are a Bible believing military family and are stationed outside of Fairbanks, AK. We have 8 children, all living with us, including our only daughter,Goldie, age 24. We homeschool and feel very blessed to live in AK. Our daughter has Psoriatic Arthritis (PsA). We have been seeking alternatives to trying the horrible MTX and the biologics which is all that has been recommended by the doctors. We went on GAPS in late November, are taking Bio-Kult probiotics, using different herbs, Vit D3, B Complex, JoMo, Low Dose Naltrexone, Vira-press and 1/4 cup of flax seed a day.I think that is everything. We saw a naturopath when we went to Seattle Arthritis clinic. We do only have raw cultured milk and organic, pastured. Her severe inflammation and bone loss continues and we know we are running out of time before we will have to try the awful drugs. A friend, a pastor’s wife sent me the link to your blog here. I have a few questions. I see you mentioned dairy free but then I saw something about goat’s milk. We had goats for several years when we were stationed at other bases. Also you mentioned tomatoes. Is that the only one of the nightshades that affects you? What else do you use for the PsA, not the psoriasis. Do you have your bones checked regualrly and bloodwork done to see if you are continuing to have damage? I know the x-rays are bad for you too but I was told by a few doctors that even if we can get the inflammation down, damage can still be occurring.
    We have looked into some other alternatives, one being Hyper Barics. I read about a case study done on 2 people with psoriasis one of whom had PsA and were treated with Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy. (HBOT) I have tried to look and LOOK for other studies using HBOT but could not find any though I did read a couple doctors who spoke of that study briefly and spoke with a doctor from our old base who said we would probably need to try to get in on a study, if we can find one.
    Well, I have gone on and on. Any advice you could give me would be a blessing.
    With prayers for you and your children,
    Holly

    • says

      Hi Holly,
      Do you want to call me so we can chat over the phone? That might be easier. If you send me an email (maidinak907[at]gmail[dot]com) I’ll send you an email back with my phone number. :) megan

  6. Kim Schroter says

    I just read your story via The Spunky Coconut. I share such a similar journey.
    Homeschool mom
    Hashimotos, Raynauds, Lupus
    Thankful for the blessing disease can bring
    Weary on the journey

    Thank you.

    Much love,
    Kim

  7. Kaye Corbin says

    I found your site several weeks ago and have been trying some recipes, love them. I have so many questions there is no way I could even start. I have had to go gluten free related to a shot in the dark. After readying your blog, it was if some of the symptoms I have been having for years and etc. But I decided to try it and see if it made a difference and it did. A huge one. This is truly a learning experience on a daily bases. I have been unable to find a anit-inflammtory site that gives me basic information. Is there one that you may be able to reccommend. Thank you for a wonderful site. Please keep up the good work.

    k.corbin

    • says

      Hi Kaye,
      Thank you! I’m so glad you decided to try eliminating gluten and that it helped you! It is definitely overwhelming when you first start, which is one of the many reasons I wanted to start this site. :)

      When I first started the anti-inflammatory diet, “The Anti-Inflammatory Diet & Recipe Book” by Jessica K. Black, ND was a huge help to me. It’s fairly cheap too, about $10-12 on Amazon I think.

      Hope that helps!
      Hugs,
      Megan

  8. Sue says

    Will definitely be trying some of these recipes.. have recently (again) started eating gluten free due to a sensitivity to gluten =(. Looking forward to reading more and getting new recipes.. Thank you

  9. Christine says

    Hey, I’m excited to find your blog. Some months ago I learned that I have an allergy to corn, which is in everything. I’m grateful that – so far as I know – corn is my only issue. But it’s enough! Thanks for this site!

  10. Debby Burke says

    Five months ago I found out I had Celiac disease; recently I have also found i am allergic to corn. I find it difficult to narrow down what products are corn free and the information i am reading states that manufacturers are always changing formulas/ingredients! So, my question is, how do you know? For instance, I thought rice milk has corn in it? What brand do you use? Feeling a bit overwhelmed!

    • Adrienne @ Whole New Mom says

      Hi Debby – we have life threatening allergies in our house. Personally I make almost everything from scratch so you know what is in it. We even make our own baking powder when necessary. You can find the recipe on my blog, whole new mom. :)

  11. Ada Bren says

    Wow this calms my nerves a bit. My husband wants to move to Alaska so we can be close to his mom for a few years and I have degenerative disc disease, osteoarthritis, and a horrible case of sciatica. So inflammation is a problem for me. Thanks for the post.

  12. says

    I can really relate to your story. I was diagnosed with systemic Lupus and rheumatoid arthritis and raynauds… I did the heavy med route as well at first and like you… it did not work for me. What has worked the best is changing my diet like you have in many ways.

    Greatly increased my quality of life and lowered my daily pain. Love that you share all of this and your recipes online. Keep up the great work!

  13. says

    Hi there, I love your site! I’m totally enamored with Alaska, and I love to see the recipes that come out of your kitchen. I have a few autoimmune diseases as well, so I feel for you with all that you are going through. Diane over at balancedbites.com has some great information about meal plans for autoimmune disease and anti-inflammatory diets. The Paleo Mom & The Paleo Parents have some good stuff as well for autoimmune protocols. Hope you are feeling even better soon!
    Kate

  14. says

    I came across your blog by chance one day, great name by the way ;) My daughters name is Alaska! I enjoy reading your recipe posts on FB and updates. I’m about to commence my studies next month in nutritional medicine, finally I can put the least 3 years of research to good use! I don’t have any major allergies as such, nor does my partner or daughter however many friends of mine and the population in general do and it’s such a big component of my studies. I have great interest in researching true causes, links to emotions and possible triggers via foods – chemicals – environment – hormones and genetics. I would love to hear your own personal views as to how and why you believe you have these auto-immune diseases and what you feel the true cause/s were and subsequent triggers. My email address, if you have some spare time up your sleeve is emackintosh@live.com.au – warm regards, Emily.

  15. Jane says

    Thank you for the receipes. In May of 2012 I was diagnoised wth gluten intolerance and type 2 diabetes. With diet and exercise I am now pre diabetic. I choose not to take prescribed medicine. But I do enjoy your receipes. I know what we eat can affect us. Blessings to you and hope you are feeling better.

  16. Gina says

    Megan, I just read your story. I am so very sorry that you suffer the way you do. I am 51 and have had chronic and painful health problems my entire adult life. And yes, I still do. As far as inflammation is concerned the one thing that I have found affects me the most is any kind of sugar. Even natural sugar. If I go 7 to 10 days without eating any sweets other than small amounts of fresh fruit (not dried or juiced) and stevia, the inflammation in my body is greatly reduced. I found this out after fasting on water for 36 hrs and finding, to my surprise, that my inflammation was almost nonexistent. Then I slowly added foods back until I found out what was affecting me the most.
    You will be in my prayers Megan. May God bless and heal you.

  17. JoAn says

    God Bless You Megan…I love your site and love the scripture you posted. May HE bless
    you richly here and now with peace and we will meet one day as we have the best of HIM
    and the best of His foods when we banquet with Him at banquet table. You’ll be in my prayers.

  18. says

    Just made your lovely carrot muffins. They are cooling as I type. Wishing you well on your health journey. I am on a restricted diet due to food intolerances and an autoimmune thyroid issue. I live a good and busy life in Scotland, UK, love from Kim

  19. says

    Hi Megan,
    I follow you on Facebook for quite some time now. It has probably been two years. Until today, I didn’t even realize that you had a blog. I have a website/blog under construction right now. It has absolutely nothing to with your genre though. I’m an event/interior stylist, treasure hunter, refinisher and somewhat of a decorative painter. Totally not your genre. However, I do suffer from invisible illness too. It sucks! I have endometriosis and a variety of neck issues, one is spondylitis and osteoarthritis. I’m not even that old either. It was all diagnosed when I was 30. I am also gluten intolerant thanks to the endometriosis. All we can do is try to live as healthy as possible and put good things into our bodies, while feeding our souls with words from others that can truly-truly understand the struggles. It is definitely not easy on a solo journey, which is why I follow you. I also live in Alaska. In Anchorage actually. Are you near me? I comment on occasion on your FB posts. Usually I just like things.

    I hope you have a wonderful evening. Thanks for sharing all that you do. It’s really great to be able to not feel alone.

    Thanks,
    Olivia :-)

  20. says

    Dear Megan,

    Thank you for your site, it feels like a God sent miracle, hopefully, it will help me to sort through the mountains of, sometimes conflicting, information on gluten free foods. I have had type 2 diabetes for 12 years, taken “chemicals” for a short time but given up on them because of bad reactions. So far, diet and exercise have helped to keep it in check, but now my body reacts adversely to gluten. My diet is relatively good, lots of vegetables, the only weakness i have is bred, wonderful crusty, whole grain bread, filled with gluten. My hope is to find a good substitute, eliminating gluten and natural sugars from my diet as much as possible. Your multigrain bread will be my first try atbaking what I love so much and don’t want to give up. May I let you know how it came out?

    You were speaking about publishing a cookbook, will that be in the near future? Please let me know when it will come out, many of us are probably waiting impatiently.

    My hat off to you, raising your 2 lovely little girls, home schooling them and dealing with your own pain must, sometimes, seem an unsurmountable feat but with His help we manage just one day, one day at a time. My prayers go out to you.

    You live in the state I find most breathtaking, 2 years ago I had the pleasure of visiting Alaska, the usual tour, the inside passage. The beautiful starkness of your state deeply touched my spirit. You are so lucky to live there.

    Thank you to do all the work for us.
    Elsbeth

  21. says

    Hi Megan!

    Reading your story rang so true for me! I have full blown Ankylosing Spondylitis & Colitis. I lost 12 years (and 3″ in height”) after suffering for so many years undiagnosed, so now I have a fused spine, but I have finally found a diet that works for me and has stopped the inflammation from progressing, yay for that! I do low starch, paleo, and lots of raw food. (my main website is bettyrawker.com) Anyhow, just started a new website straightupdiet.com and I am working on a book with people from around with world with AS/SpA who are also taking a similar low starch/paleo approach. I really want to help others get a jump start on overcoming the inflammation and prevent the fusing and pain I had to endure.

    Thanks so much for sharing your story! I love reading through your recipes!! And I really, really appreciate the work you are doing in sharing your story and recipes!

    xoxo,
    Andrea

  22. Leslie says

    Megan, A friend of mine also suffers from Spondylitis and has drastically changed her eating and has seen such amazing results. You should check her out on facebook, just search Betty Rawker she also has a website http://www.bettyrawker.com and I think she is starting a new blog with recipes for other friends and acquaintances she’s met along her journey that also suffer from Spondylitis.

    Has your Naturopath ever mentioned LDN (Low Dose Naltrexone) I too have a variety of auto immune issues and she put me on LDN in hope of helping to stop the progression of further Auto immnue issues.

    I got teary eyed reading your bio. Health battles are not easy. However, I don’t know what I’d do with out the Lord. I certainly would be lacking hope and strength.

    Blessings to you.

    Leslie

  23. says

    Megan,

    We are THRILLED to have found your website and Facebook. What a wonderful resource you have created, and user friendly to-boot! We have shared your resource on our Facebook page and look to do so once our newest version of our website is unveiled this next week! Would love to interview you if you are interested as one of Alaska’s own SMART Mommies!

    Keep up the good work,

    SMART Moms Alaska

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