I hosted my first "cleanse" at Pura Vida in 2009, it was called the Clean & Green Cleanse. We kicked it off in January and only subjected participants to 3 measly days! There was something attractive about a weekend cleanse, like a weekend warrior who only works out on the weekends, the mentality was "I can do anything for 3 days"! Honestly, people did great. They completed it perfectly, had almost 100% compliance, and by day 3 most of the group reported back with long lists of positive benefits; reduced sugar cravings, no headaches, sleeping better, more energy, less inflammation, and even 5-7 pound weight loss. SUCCESS! But, then what? What happened after the 3 days? You guessed it, almost everyone is back to eating pre cleanse foods, back to pre cleanse behaviors, and they have accomplished nothing except the mental reward of "I can do anything for 3 days"!
Over the years, my cleanses because longer, more intense, more restrictive, more controlled, more experimental, more specific; Digestive Health Cleanse; Weight Loss Cleanse; Sugar Detox; Back to School Cleanse;14 Day Fat Flush; 21 Days of Conscious Eating (one of my favorites); you name it we did it. Honestly, over the last 8 years the foundational food recommendations among every one of these cleanses was almost identical. Today, we are plagued with the popularity of one such challenge called Whole 30, maybe you've heard of it ;) It is a 30 day challenge consisting of not eating any of the following foods: added sugar, grains, legumes, dairy, alcohol, MSG, sulfites, or carageanan, or any baked goods. Simple right?! How did co-creator Melissa Hartwig get so many folks to comply and complete a whole 30 days of altered eating? I was inspired to run my own experiment, in my own client community, among the most physically, and mentally challenged population I knew: MOMS!
I reached out to 8 moms; with babies ranging in age from 4 months-2 years. Most of them with older children in the mix as well. We had 2 vegetarians, at least 4 of us getting less than 2 hours of sleep at any given time each night, and every single one of us was over stressed and exhausted and yet up for the challenge. I created our template, from my original Clean & Green program and off we went. (OH, I was a test subject as well:)
I'm blogging today to give my professionally personal review of my own experience as a mom of a 4 year old, and a 10 month old. I have been gluten, dairy, egg, and mostly grain free for the better part of 7 years, it honestly didn't seem like this was going to be much of a "challenge" for me. It was the late night mommy rewards I was really going to miss! My obsession with chocolate had gotten a little out of hand, it was my time to cut it out and get clean :) My goals were: less inflammation, less bloating; slight weight loss; and increased mood/ energy.
30 Days of clean eating, as a mom of two, taught me A LOT.
#1. If you are already a clean & green eater, your benefits will be minimal.
#2. If you are sleep deprived ( I mean severely sleep deprived) your ability to morph into your 26 year old self in comparable energy and jean size will be next to impossible.
#3. If you have 1 or more children under the age of 4, your willpower and ability to motivate change within your own daily habits is a ticking time bomb. One tantrum, that's all it takes for the mommy brain to turn on the radar to "rewards"! i.e. "Help, I need chocolate!"
#4. Eating clean is the foundation to your health, if you don't eat well your symptoms and subject to disease is highly increased. However, a MOMS ability to feel energized, to feel happy, to feel motivated, to treat herself well, to lose the belly weight, are SO much more than eating clean! Our daily challenges are so much BIGGER than a healthy diet.
#5. Being emotionally challenged is not cured by eating clean!
Number 5 is the most important lesson of all. Every day we are a different combination of hormones, every day we emit different emotional stresses, every day we are a different version of our self (however small or big). Thus, every day needs to be assessed in and of itself. "One day at a time." YES. Instead of committing yourself to 30 Days, commit yourself to today! Become a conscious eater, a present eater, and a self-care advocate! I have work to do, as do ALL of my clients. But it's not done in one month, your work continues, your diet is always evolving.
Of the goals I set out to accomplish myself, mood and energy were the most radically changed. I did feel quite a bit better about myself as a mom! I can not say I maintained any sort of weight loss. For a nursing mom I am not surprised and I am not disappointed. Do I still want coffee? Yes. But not all the time. Do I still want chocolate? Yes. But not nearly as often. Do I still want sugar? Hardly ever.
Does eating clean work?? YES. Absolutely. At what degree? To each is own!
There is no one-size fits all model of nutrition. I want my clients to have tools to understand their bodies, their symptoms, their habits, their abilities, and their motivations. Most of my mommas are still in the midst of their 30 days, as far as I'm aware, going strong! Looking forward to hearing their complete feedback as they finish up their cleanses this month.
You ask and you shall receive!
These little treats turned out so well and I'm excited to share an allergy-free baked item that not only worked (consistency and flavor) but it is relatively guilt free!
Inspiration came from the Minimalist Baker post
on Easy Cinnamon Rolls. The title hooked me right in! The problems I had to address were changing the 7 simple ingredients to match my dietary restricted needs. Challenge accepted!
Coconut milk instead of almond milk
Coconut oil instead of Earth balance
Pamela's GF Bread mix instead of regular flour
Date paste added as the gooey filling instead of white sugar
Coconut fat and honey for frosting topper instead of dairy or powdered sugar alternatives
AND so the recipe is as follows....
Ingredients for dough:
Ingredients for filling: (blend in a food processor)
Ingredients for "frosting":
You spent the better part of a year growing a tiny human, congratulations!! You stressed about every single thing you did, worried about every situation, every piece of food, every sip of wine (yes you had sips of wine), every dose of headache reducing Tylenol, all to make sure this baby came out with 10 fingers and 10 toes! Well the baby is out, you're onto breastfeeding, hooray! But then you realize your diet gets even stricter when you're breastfeeding, and balancing your caloric intake with foods that don't make your baby colicky or projectile puking all over you, is a very VERY slippery slope. Not to mention us new mommies are simply dying to get our pre-baby bod's back like yesterday! So what do you do?
*Slim down the last 10 pounds of baby weight
*Provide adequate healthy milk for your baby
*Eat foods that don't cause your baby to be irritated
*Feel strong and empowered by mastering this balancing act!
I have had numerous mama's ask: what should I eat to support my milk supply, but also tone up my postpartum body? That's where this post is going. What to eat to feel your best and perform your best as a new mommy?!
First of all, going on a "diet" or extremely restricted caloric intake is a BAD idea for you mama: and this is in no way what I'm suggesting in the following info. Remember that each woman is an individual; each mama will eat different portions of food to feel supported; each mama will exercise in different ways to feel like they're getting what they need; and if you've learned anything through pregnancy it's that you have to LISTEN TO YOUR BODY! That being said, if you're hungry- you need to eat, if you're tired- you need to sleep, if you need a mommy break- make sure you can arrange a little help to give yourself the time YOU need to remain a sane, happy mama!
Eat. Eat Real Food. Eat Real Food Often. It's that simple :) Good luck...just kidding! I know it feels more complicated than that, but if we could narrow it down this is how simple it would be. Let's get into the basics for a healthy new mama diet ehe?!
*Vegetables. You need lots of them, like every time you eat (every time) you should consider vegetables being there someway, somehow. Some vegetables can cause our babies to be colicky, especially the cruciferous family (brussel's sprouts, kale, bok choy, cauliflower, broccoli). The irony is that these foods are extremely high in nutrients; iron, vitamin K, vitamin C, and folic acid. I'd highly recommend you not taking them all our if you have a colicky or spit upy child, but experiment and see if it get better.
*Animal Protein. Yes, animal protein (not soy, or beans, or nuts as a substitute- unless you're a vegetarian then we need to talk!) Just like pregnancy, you needed protein to build every tiny bone, ligament, brain cell, and finger nail; you need adequate whole protein sources to generate healthy milk and to sustain your energy! Fish, organic chicken, organic eggs, grass fed beef; all great options and should be consumed daily.
*Omega's/EFA's/FAT! Baby's need fat to build brain and nerve function, and 50 % of the calories in your milk are fat! It is not advantageous for you to become a "fat-phobic" mama in order to attempt weight loss. First of all, cutting out fat does not equate to weight loss or fat mass loss. Second of all, your baby needs it, so the good sources are: fatty fish, raw nuts & seeds, avocados, olive oil, and coconut. And please take a fish oil with a combination of DHA/EPA at 1,000mg per serving daily.
*Fruit. Be careful here, as fruit is all sugar. Fructose has a laundry list of negative impacts on our physiology, but I'm not trying to completely eliminate fruit from your diet only make you cautious on your daily intake. I suggest 1-2 servings per day- that's it! It's a great habit to get into so you can practice with your child when they start to eat solids! Typically, tropical fruits like pineapple, mango, and banana are higher in sugar and you should avoid them. My go-to's are berries, apples, and pears.
*Whole Grains/Otherwise "Carby-Stuff". It is not my professional or personal recommendation that you consume 6-10 servings of grains per day (as so diligently suggested by the FDA since the 50's). I don't think you need grains every day, and I don't think you need gluten EVER! Sometimes, just like pregnancy, we do need to eat some healthy carbohydrates, and in this case I suggest organic brown rice and sweet potatoes. All of the crackers, chips, pretzels, sweets, or otherwise known as "snacks" are empty calories and will not provide your baby with anything useful, nor will it help with your 10lb slim down :)
*Calcium-rich Foods. Contrary to popular belief, this is not restricted to dairy products. And as you'll see below, I don't suggest dairy be a staple in your diet anyway. SO, you need to consume other calcium-rich foods like; leafy greens, oats, sardines, molasses, beets, nuts, and sesame seeds.
Foods to Avoid to Keep Your Nursing Baby Happy!
Keep in mind, some baby's will be colicky or spit up until their 7 months old (my baby:)) no matter what you change in your diet. But it doesn't hurt to experiment with eliminating the following foods to see if there's an improvement in their behavior patterns.
Dairy. I don't suggest any of my clients eat dairy (pregnant, nursing, male, female, young, old). It's an extremely common allergen and especially for newborns. The amount the get through your breast milk if you are eating dairy is enough to cause diaper rash, colic, reflux, digestive discomfort, or sleep disturbances. I don't suggest cow's milk (or goat or sheep) be introduced at all in the first year; and if possible not at all until the age of 2.
Caffeine. Coffee, tea, chocolate, soft drinks, and even some cold medications contain caffeine which your babies can be extremely sensitive to.
Grains & Nuts. These two foods groups contain the most common allergens known to mankind; GLUTEN & PEANUTS. But it's not just limited to these two popular offenders. As more people choose alternatives to gluten and peanut products there are more and more developing issues with almonds, and gluten free flours. CORN is a big culprit in baby and mama allergens as well.
Spicy Foods. Spicy foods can make your milk taste very different and unpalatable to your baby causing them to eat less. For this I simply say, keep your spicy or ethnic foods to a minimum.
Gassy Foods. As mentioned above, cruciferous veggies like broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, and kale can cause some digestive upset in your baby. Onions, garlic, green peppers may cause irritation as well. The good news is, the more you cook these veggies down the less likely it will cause a response in your baby. It is the raw form that is typically most offensive.
Foods to Increase Milk Production!
If you are having trouble keeping your milk supply up, looking to your diet is always helpful! The following foods will promote or hinder your ability to produce good milk for your baby.
*Fenugreek, Blessed Thistle, Red Raspberry, and Brewers Yeast (containing B vitamins). All have been used by moms for hundred of years with varying degrees of success. It is typically recommended that mothers try Fenugreek capsules (2-3 capsules taken 3 times daily) along with Blessed Thistle tablets (same dosage). You many want to add Brewers Yeast to your meals and Red Raspberry tea several times each day. Fenugreek is rated GRAS (generally regarded as safe), but when taken in large doses may cause lowered blood sugar, so should be used with caution by diabetics. It is in the same family with peanuts and chickpeas, and may cause an allergic reaction in moms who are allergic to them.
*Fennel. Supports a happy digestive tract and helps calm digestive distress in both mom and baby. You can eat fennel raw, cooked, or dried and ground.
Changing your diet is a BIG ordeal, no to mention changing it under the influence of no sleep, a completely dependent nursing baby, lack of motivation, possibly depression, and a million other hormonal disclaimers that come along with being a new mom! But, even making some changes is better than none, and will likely make you feel better and more motivated to start making some more! So start where you can, and go easy on yourself, you're doing an AMAZING job :)
Nutrient Dense Bone Broth.
Science validates what our grandmothers knew. Rich homemade chicken broths help cure colds. Stock and broth made from animal bones and connective tissues contains minerals in a form the body can absorb easily—not just calcium but also magnesium, phosphorus, silicon, sulphur and trace minerals. It contains the broken down material from cartilage and tendons–stuff like chondroitin sulphates and glucosamine, now sold as expensive supplements for arthritis and joint pain.
When broth is cooled, it congeals due to the presence of gelatin. The use of gelatin as a therapeutic agent goes back to the ancient Chinese. Gelatin was probably the first functional food, it is a hydrophilic colloid, which means that it attracts and holds liquids, it facilitates digestion by attracting digestive juices to food in the gut. Gelatin was found to be useful in the treatment of a long list of diseases including peptic ulcers, tuberculosis, diabetes, muscle diseases, infectious diseases, jaundice and cancer. Babies had fewer digestive problems when gelatin was added to their milk.
Bone broth is a necessity in cultures that do not use milk because only stock made from bones and dairy products provides calcium in a form that the body can easily assimilate. It is also a necessity when meat is a luxury item, because gelatin in properly made broth helps the body use protein in an efficient way.
GAPS Broth- Dr Natasha Campbell
Homemade meat or fish stock.
Meat and fish stocks provide building blocks for the rapidly growing cells of the gut lining and they have a soothing effect on any areas of inflammation in the gut. That is why they aid digestion and have been known for centuries as healing folk remedies for the digestive tract. Do not use commercially available soup stock granules or bullion cubes, they are highly processed and are full of detrimental ingredients. Chicken stock is particularly gentle on the stomach and is very good to start from. To make good meat stock you need joints, bones, a piece of meat on the bone, a whole chicken, giblets from chicken, goose or duck, whole pigeons, pheasants or other inexpensive meats. It is essential to use bones and joints, as they provide the healing substances, not so much the muscle meats. Ask the butcher to cut in half the large tubular bones, so you can get the bone marrow out of them after cooking. Put the bones, joints and meats into a large pan and fill it with water, add natural unprocessed salt to your taste at the beginning of cooking and about a teaspoon of black peppercorns, roughly crushed. Bring to boil, cover and simmer on a low heat for 2.5-3 hours. You can make fish stock the same way using a whole fish or fish fins, bones and heads. After cooking take the bones and meats out and sieve the stock to remove small bones and peppercorns. Extract the bone marrow out of large tubular bones while they are still warm: to do that bang the bone on a thick wooden chopping board. The gelatinous soft tissues around the bones and the bone marrow provide some of the best healing remedies for the gut lining and the immune system; you can consume them with every meal in a healing dietary protocol. Take off all the soft tissues from fish bones and heads and reserve for adding to soups later. The meat or fish stock will keep well in the fridge for at least 7 days or it can be frozen. Do not use microwaves for warming up the stock, use conventional stove (microwaves destroy food).
Simple Broth Recipes
Ingredients in Italics are optional
1 whole free-range chicken or 2 to 3 pounds of bony chicken parts, such as necks, backs, breastbones and wings*
gizzards from one chicken (optional)
2-4 chicken feet (optional)
4 quarts cold filtered water
2 tablespoons vinegar
1 large onion, coarsely chopped
2 carrots, peeled and coarsely chopped
3 celery stalks, coarsely chopped
1 bunch parsley
*Note: Farm-raised, free-range chickens give the best results. Many battery-raised chickens will not produce stock that gels.
If you are using a whole chicken, cut off the wings and remove the neck, fat glands and the gizzards from the cavity. Cut chicken parts into several pieces. (If you are using a whole chicken, remove the neck and wings and cut them into several pieces.) Place chicken or chicken pieces in a large stainless steel pot with water, vinegar and all vegetables except parsley. Let stand 30 minutes to 1 hour. Bring to a boil, and remove scum that rises to the top. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 6 to 8 hours. The longer you cook the stock, the richer and more flavorful it will be. About 10 minutes before finishing the stock, add parsley. This will impart additional mineral ions to the broth.
Remove whole chicken or pieces with a slotted spoon. If you are using a whole chicken, let cool and remove chicken meat from the carcass. Reserve for other uses, such as chicken salads, enchiladas, sandwiches or curries. Strain the stock into a large bowl and reserve in your refrigerator until the fat rises to the top and congeals. Skim off this fat and reserve the stock in covered containers in your refrigerator or freezer.
Beef Stock/Bone Broth
about 4 pounds beef marrow and knuckle bones
1 calves foot, cut into pieces (optional)
3 pounds meaty rib or neck bones
4 or more quarts cold filtered water
1/2 cup vinegar
3 onions, coarsely chopped
3 carrots, coarsely chopped
3 celery stalks, coarsely chopped
several sprigs of fresh thyme, tied together
1 teaspoon dried green peppercorns, crushed
l bunch parsley
Place the knuckle and marrow bones and optional calves foot in a very large pot with vinegar and cover with water. Let stand for one hour. Meanwhile, place the meaty bones in a roasting pan and brown at 350 degrees in the oven. When well browned, add to the pot along with the vegetables. Pour the fat out of the roasting pan, add cold water to the pan, set over a high flame and bring to a boil, stirring with a wooden spoon to loosen up coagulated juices. Add this liquid to the pot. Add additional water, if necessary, to cover the bones; but the liquid should come no higher than within one inch of the rim of the pot, as the volume expands slightly during cooking. Bring to a boil. A large amount of scum will come to the top, and it is important to remove this with a spoon. After you have skimmed, reduce heat and add the thyme and crushed peppercorns.
Simmer stock for at least 12 and as long as 72 hours. Just before finishing, add the parsley and simmer another 10 minutes. You will now have a pot of rather repulsive-looking brown liquid containing globs of gelatinous and fatty material. It doesn’t even smell particularly good. But don’t despair. After straining you will have a delicious and nourishing clear broth that forms the basis for many other recipes in this book.
Remove bones with tongs or a slotted spoon. Strain the stock into a large bowl. Let cool in the refrigerator and remove the congealed fat that rises to the top. Transfer to smaller containers and to the freezer for long-term storage.
3 or 4 whole carcasses, including heads, of non-oily fish such as sole, turbot, rockfish or snapper
2 tablespoons butter (for dairy free- use avocado oil or eliminate all together)
1/4 cup vinegar
about 3 quarts cold filtered water
2 onions, coarsely chopped
1 carrot, coarsely chopped
several sprigs fresh thyme
several sprigs parsley
1 bay leaf
1/2 cup dry white wine or vermouth
Ideally, fish stock is made from the bones of sole or turbot. In Europe, you can buy these fish on the bone. The fish monger skins and filets the fish for you, giving you the filets for your evening meal and the bones for making the stock and final sauce. Unfortunately, in America sole arrives at the fish market preboned. But snapper, rock fish and other non-oily fish work equally well; and a good fish merchant will save the carcasses for you if you ask him. As he normally throws these carcasses away, he shouldn’t charge you for them. Be sure to take the heads as well as the body—these are especially rich in iodine and fat-soluble vitamins. Classic cooking texts advise against using oily fish such as salmon for making broth, probably because highly unsaturated fish oils become rancid during the long cooking process.
Melt butter in a large stainless steel pot. Add the vegetables and cook very gently, about 1/2 hour, until they are soft. Add wine and bring to a boil. Add the fish carcasses and cover with cold, filtered water. Add vinegar. Bring to a boil and skim off the scum and impurities as they rise to the top. Tie herbs together and add to the pot. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for at least 4 hours or as long as 24 hours. Remove carcasses with tongs or a slotted spoon and strain the liquid into pint-sized storage containers for refrigerator or freezer. Chill well in the refrigerator and remove any congealed fat before transferring to the freezer for long-term storage.
4 Healing Winter Soups
Feel free to substitute different vegetables; just make sure you have 8-12 cups
1 medium onion, diced
1/4 cup fat (chicken, duck, beef, ghee)
6 garlic cloves, mashed
1/2 cup water
2 medium carrots
1 small head broccoli
1 bunch kale, stems removed
1 medium zucchini
1/2 medium cabbage
About 3 tbsp. dried basil, 1.5 tbsp. dried oregano, 1 bay leaf, 1/2 tsp. black pepper, and a pinch of fennel seed
1 quart bone broth (or a little more)
Saute the onion in fat; sprinkle with salt as you go.
Chop the veggies as small as you like. When the onion is translucent, stir in the garlic. Stir for 30 seconds, then add the water. Add herbs and the veggies, bring to a boil, stir well, and reduce heat.
Simmer covered for about an hour, stirring every so often, until the veggies are really super tender.
Add the broth, stir well, and check for salt. Heat gently until desired temperature is reached (don't boil the broth, it will turn into gelatin and then you won't have a brothy soup anymore!).
Creamy Ginger & Veggie Soup
4-5 cups cut veggies (such as winter or butternut squash, broccoli or a medley of veggies)
1 large onion, coarsely chopped (or 3 leeks)
up to 1 whole head of garlic, peeled and coarsely chopped
1 large knob of ginger, peeled and coarsely chopped
4-5 cups homemade bone broth
Heat a large chefs pan or small stock pot over medium heat with a dollop of lard. Add onions and sautee for about 5 minutes.
Add in garlic and ginger, sautee a few more minutes.
Add main veggies and stock. Start with less stock if you want a really thick soup, you can always add more later.
Bring to a simmer and let simmer for about 25 minutes.
Allow to cool slightly.
Using an immersion blender or food processor puree the soup.
Add more fat, lard or whatever animal fat you have. You may also use coconut milk for more creamy consistency.
Chicken “Noodle” (grain free, paleo-
friendly, GAPS friendly)
2 quarts chicken stock
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
6 stalks celery, chopped
6 carrots, chopped
16 ounces kelp noodles
1/4 cup chopped green onion or parsley
Celtic sea salt
Pour chicken stock into a large pot and bring to a simmer. Add chicken breasts, celery, carrots and noodles and cook for about 20 minutes until chicken is cooked through. Using a pair of tongs, remove chicken from the soup and cut into bite-size pieces. Add chicken back to pot. Season soup with sea salt if needed. To serve, ladle into bowls and garnish with green onion.
*Kelp noodles are made from from sea kelp. They are high in minerals and low in calories. Their unique texture is perfect in salad with thinly sliced vegetables. Served hot in broth, they lose their pleasant crunch, but soften and absorb flavors well.
1 carrot diced
1 celery stalk diced
1 shallot minced
1/4 cup ghee
2 oz. shiitake mushrooms soaked in 5 cups water until soft, chopped
4 oz maitake mushrooms chopped
8 oz cremini mushrooms sliced
1/2 cup white wine (optional)
6 cups chicken broth
meat from one chicken
3 garlic scapes sliced thinly
1/4 cup fresh parsley chopped
2 Tbs fresh tarragon chopped
1/4 cup coconut cream
In a large stock pot, saute the carrot, celery, and shallots in the ghee until tender. Reserving the soaking liquid from the shiitakes, add the mushrooms to the stock pot. Saute until mushrooms are soft and golden. Add white wine, if using, and scrape any browned bits from the bottom of the pot.
Add the reserved mushroom liquid and the chicken stock. Add the chicken meat. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover, and simmer until veggies are quite tender (about 15-20 minutes).
Remove the pot from the heat and add the scapes and the herbs to the pot. Cover the pot and allow to “cook” in the hot soup for about 5 minutes. Stir in the coconut cream until incorporated.
Food allergies, intolerances, sensitivities...we hear about them all the time, but the distinction between them is somewhat of a blurry line. One misconception with any type of food allergy or intolerance is that the "substitute" food is healthier. This is rarely the case, however there can be great alternative options for those dealing with food intolerance issues (I should now!). Let's start with gluten, the big daddy in popular foody culture to avoid at all costs. Gluten is a protein found in all grains, yes I said ALL GRAINS. There are 40 some sub groups of gluten found naturally occurring in every grain mother nature provides, not just wheat!
The "gluten-free" phenomenon began with the autoimmune genetic disorder Celiac Disease. Someone who has celiac disease can not process or tolerate gliadin (a sub group of gluten, found in wheat, barley, and rye). In an attempt to help out our celiac friends the FDA began regulating "gluten-free foods", which should really be called "gliadin-free foods" or better yet "celiac-friendly foods". If you're still with me, this means that if you have an intolerance or allergy to gluten (not celiac) truly any plant in the grain family may cause a reaction for you. This is important because people who are trying to avoid gluten products tend to be very under educated about their choices; i.e. choosing gluten free bread, pasta, pancake, cake, cookies, etc; gluten-derived foods or gluten contaminated foods like vinegar, modified food starch, oats, grain alcohol, beer, soy sauce... does not mean it's healthy for you! The substitutes for wheat are typically white rice flour, potato starch, tapioca, sorghum, white corn (GMO!!), corn starch, etc. These are not health foods (i will make an exception for sorghum). If you notice a reaction when eating breads, grains, flours, etc you would be better off keeping that entire food group out of your diet than trying to find a net zero nutrient food to replace it. Make sense?
The difference between food allergies and food intolerances is really quite simple. A food intolerance is typically categorized as a lack of enzymes to break down the suspect food and thus this causes a reaction; bloating, gas, diarrhea, upset stomach, etc. Food intolerances are not typically taken seriously, as it's not an "allergy" so you can eat it sometimes right? That is not my understanding nor suggestion. Food intolerances can be just as serious as food allergies, and can even in most cases lead to a true food allergy should you ignore your bodies first signs of an intolerance. This one can be tough to test for. I run a saliva test in my office that tests for high levels of gut antibodies called IgA's. This is a useful tool in beginning to determine mine or my clients intolerances, however food elimination diets probably provide the best information surrounding your food intolerances.
A food allergy will cause an immediate response, i.e. you KNOW when you're allergic to a certain food. If you eat shell fish of any kind and immediately find your throat closing, air pathways restricted, break out in a rash, feel extremely itchy, etc...this is an allergic reaction. You most likely will let this happen twice before you never ever touch that food again. This makes true food allergy testing a waste of your time, unless you are completely oblivious to the obvious signs and symptoms of your own body.
Food allergy tests are typically done via blood, and probably won't tell you anything you don't already know. The other confusing part about allergy testing is (and if you've had one done you know what I'm talking about) you may show a positive response (via high IgG antibodies) in your blood, but it doesn't mean your reacting to it just because your antibodies are high. Yup, that basically means these tests can or can not help you. You could have a lot of positive antibodies for kiwis, but when you eat kiwis...nothing happens! This can be conflicting evidence and extremely confusing, you think "so now what, do I avoid kiwis?" My suggestion would always be to listen to your body! Testing can be a useful tool but it is not the end all answer to what's going on in that complicated body of yours.
My Substitute List:
Wheat = brown rice or millet or sweet potato
Cows Milk = Almond milk
Eggs = small chicken breast, smoked salmon, ground turkey, etc
2 tbsp flaxseed, 1/3 c water (baking substitute)
Soy = just avoid all together
Carbohydrates in general = veggies, veggies, veggies
Your best bet is to eat clean. Eating clean means eating plants, fruit, organic healthy animal protein, eggs, nuts & seeds, and good ol' H2O...that's it. Get your grains out or to a minimum, and make your plates more lively!
It's what we're all looking for in life isn't it? A sense of balance; of control; the feeling that you've got this down! Whether it's our diets, our personal relationships, our careers, our children, our inner mental battles, our health...we just want to find our happy place and move on right?!
Unfortunately, we are living, breathing, ever changing beings, and the only constant we can rely on is change. The same is true for our diets. You remember the first time you went on a "diet"? Was it high school or college, was it a dare, a socially driven obligation, a true desire to be healthy? Did it work for you then? Is so, it is not likely it will work for you again. Either because you chose the "eat nothing until you deteriorate-diet" and that doesn't work long term for anyone; OR you simply are not the same physiological being you were the last time a specific diet worked for you. So now what? With all the different media outlets pushing what's healthy and what's not, it's easy to get overwhelmed, confused, and simply give up!
This brings us to the importance of understanding and listening to your very own relationship with food. Regardless of what I say is good for you, or your friend, or the television, what does your body tell you? If you truly believe that a bowl of whole wheat pasta goes through your system smoothly, doesn't disrupt your digestive system, doesn't cause fatigue, doesn't make you bloated, doesn't cause sugar cravings, and doesn't make you gain weight, then by all means my friend enjoy that bowl of pasta! Not because I said so, because when you tune into your body it truly feels good eating this meal.
"Feeling good" is a very relative term. I have clients who sit down in my office and say, "I feel good, yeah I don't really have any symptoms." However, they change their diet anyway, with my suggestions, and they come back saying "I feel so amazing, I didn't even know I felt bad before!" Relative. You have to make space for your body to feel extremes in order for you to know your true balance. So let's talk about balance from the inside out, and from the outside (diet) in.
The Chinese philosophy of the yin and yang has been around for centuries. This theory of the universe was based around the idea of opposites, the division between the lighter and the heavier; the cool, dark element being yin, and the hot, light elements being yang. These same ideas can be characterized between living foods and energy systems within the body. Macronutrients are constantly undergoing buildup or breakdown, expansion or contraction, and both must be maintained for each to survive. Our metabolism is a wonderful balance of this buildup and breakdown that allows our bodies to stay stable; when our bodies sway more heavily to one side we may feel sickness or feel like our balance has been disrupted.
The laws of opposition related to foods are as follows:
1. Quality vs. Quantity. Though we may feel a need to reward ourselves with a dessert after a well balanced meal, we do not need a poor quality food to out weigh our good quality food choices.
2. Expansion vs. Contraction. Expansive and contractive foods depend on flavor, growth direction, growth speed, original climate, and moisture content. The expansive foods will be higher in all of the listed factors, while the contractive foods will be lower. Expansive is not better than contractive; we need both.
Drugs-Alcohol-Fruit juices-Vegetable juices-Tea/Coffee-Sugar-Roots-Nuts-Beans-Grains-Fish-Eggs-Salt
3. Acid vs. Alkaline. Our bodies like to remain at a pH level of 7.4 meaning there is a slight alkalinity to our blood. In order for us to void off infection, disease and other unwanted illnesses we have to maintain this balance through the foods we consume. Here is a brief summary of the acid and alkaline foods:
pH1 pH7 pH12
Alcohol-Sugar-Fats-White flour-Legumes-Fish-Eggs-WATER-Milk-Tofu-Yogurt- Coffee-Fruits-Veggies-Salt
4. Warming vs. Cooling. Recognizing that temperature has an impact on our foods ability to heal us is very traditional. One of the main properties of food according to Ayurvedic medicine is its ability to warm or cool the body.
Cooked or dried fruits
Our bodies treat nutrients in specific ways once they enter the body and if outside sources change the structure of a food before it enters the body we no longer reap the same benefits from it. “We are what we eat”- and preparation of our food has a direct impact on the way our body metabolizes the nutrient. For example…
This is why it's important to make your own food from scratch in your own kitchen OR let the Honest Market kitchen do the work for you! I have the great privilege of being the nutritionist for this amazing company, as we value not just the art of cooking and flavor in our meals, but the quality of preparation, and the quality of food sources that will help to balance your body and create optimal wellness. It can be a life changing event to prepare all your meals from scratch if you've never done it before. Having a few meals ready to go via Honest Market is a great way to ease yourself into fresh home prepared meals, I highly recommend giving it a shot!
Every imbalance you suffer has a cause, likely present in the above yin/yang categories. To heal the problem we must use another category to create balance. Some of the conditions that can be treated include; headaches, fevers, common colds, coughs, sore throat, earaches, skin problems, digestive problems, constipation, inflammation, eating disorders, and female disorders. You should seek a professional when prescribing home remedies.
I have spent the majority of my practice with clients who complain of not being able to lose weight, who don't sleep well, who are always tired, who have blood sugar disorders, who have hypothyroidism, who who have major adrenal imbalances, and a lot of over trained athletes. As a result my research and practice has been largely centered around the importance of animal proteins when it comes to balancing the endocrine system and giving the body what it needs to recover from long bouts of intense exercise. Understanding our physiology and how our bodies break down and function less optimally without animal protein has been the epicenter of my research. The literature is quite clear, but I'm not here to debate. I want to provide those of you who are vegetarian with healthy advise and tips on how to be the best vegetarian in town! There are countless athletes and doctors who believe in plant based diets for numerous reasons, and it is my advise always to TRY whatever you want with regards to your diet and see if it works for YOU. There is never a one size fits all way of eating, and you will likely not follow whatever diet you choose exclusively 100% for the rest of your life.
Let it be known here and now, I have nothing against vegetarians (or vegans). If done "right" it can be an extremely advantageous lifestyle for some people. My sister and her family are a perfect example; vegetarians, and thriving, all 8 of them! There are factors and variables to consider, and each individual will respond differently. No matter what your reason for going vegetarian, I want to give you my top 10 ways to maximize your experience and your health as a vegetarian. (Adapted from Ben Greenfields Beyond Training)
#1. Eat Real Foods!
Cutting out animal protein opens the door to a world of processed, fake foods. Replacements foods like fake meats, textured vegetable proteins, and processed soy products may be "vegetarian" but they are a far cry from healthy. Besides typically being genetically modified foods, soy contains digestive irritants, and enzyme inhibitors. This can cause major digestive distress, much more likely than the raw broccoli that tends to take the blame. Soy also contains thyroid inhibiting compounds which are a nightmare for those who have hypothyroidism, or for those who are genetically predisposed to it. Lastly, soy contains plant based soy estrogens, which can raise estrogen levels and lower testosterone- not good for males or females! The best way to eat soy is fermented; thus tempeh and miso fall in that category.
#2. Avoid Omega-6 Vegetable Oils
As we discussed in the last two weeks about healthy fats, vegetables oils like corn oil, soy oil, cottonseed oil, or peanut oil are severely detrimental to your health. Vegetarians can lean towards more packaged foods that fit their dietary restrictions, yet they are consequently over consuming these harmful oils as a result. Instead opt for coconut oil, olive oil, avocado oil, or even macadamia nut oil.
#3. Vitamin K2
Vitamin K2 is crucial for a healthy heart and skeletal system. It is also severely lacking in plant-based diets. The easiest way to get it is supplement form.
#4. Vitamin D
First of all, everyone I've ever seen in my office, vegetarian or not, is low in vitamin D. How much you take is individualized based on factors like sun exposure, health history, and current activity level. You are looking for vitamin D3, NOT D2. Unfortunately, most supplements out there for D3 are derived from wool (lanolin) and packed in cod liver oil. So if you're a strict vegetarian you would not likely agree to this supplement. Garden of Life D3 is a vegan vitamin D3, and I believe the only one out there.
#5. Vitamin A
I know what you're thinking..."vitamin A is super high in plants, why do vegetarians need it?" Plants contain beta-carotene, but it's your bodies job to convert it to vitamin A; and it doesn't do that very efficiently. Vegetarians need to focus on enhancing absorption but pairing beta-carotene with fat (like avocado or olive oi). Getting adequate zinc and iron will also help increase the conversion rate in the body. The best sources of beta-carotene can be found in:
#6. Prepare your grains, legumes, nuts & seeds properly
Vegetarians need grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds for adequate intake of all amino acids. But all of these foods contain phytic acid which is extremely hard to digest. We want everything you put into your body to go to use, thus making it more digestibly friendly is key! Soaking your grains, legumes, nuts & seeds for at least 8 hours is baseline. This means you have to be making these foods from scratch; no cans!
#7. Maximize iron
Nonheme iron is the form found in plant based foods, and it's much less bio-available than heme found in meat. However, consuming vitamin C will greatly increase your iron absorption rates. If you are already a healthy vegetarian, you likely already do this without even thinking. But combining spinach with tomatoes, or lentils with peppers, or quinoa with strawberries would all be great ways to maximize your iron absorption.
#8. Variety & Color
This advise goes for every diet, not just vegetarians. However, vegetarians need to eat plants! So grilled cheese, quesadillas, cheese pizza, and pasta alfredo might be classified as vegetarian dishes but they are also unhealthy options no matter what diet you follow! Your plate should be full of life, full of color, and we do that with produce-- fruits and vegetables! Every time you sit down to a meal, visually experience it. If you're looking at the same color palate (browns, whites, tans), you're missing ingredients!
#9. The right balance
Rice and beans are a typical suggestion for a balanced protein vegetarian meal. While this is true, you can get all essential amino acids from this combination; remember that these are both extremely high in carbohydrates. As we discussed a few weeks ago in my post about sugar, carbohydrates in excess can wreck havoc on your body, with all kinds of unpleasant side effects and can compromise your health. Balance rice and beans with nuts & seeds, increasing healthy fats, and eating lots and lots of vegetables.
#10. Vegetarian or Vegan?
If you are a vegetarian, you technically eat eggs and dairy products as well (maybe even fish). This can be extremely useful in balancing your protein intake. Bringing in eggs for breakfasts or snacks can help maintain your blood sugar levels, keep you satiated throughout the day, and help with low energy and brain fog. Sourcing your egg and dairy products from local farmers who are organic, practice humane farming, and raise antibiotic free animals is your best bet. Check out The Cornicopia Institute's Egg Scorecard on organic eggs in your grocery store and see how they measure up. This is a great resource if you do not have local farms to choose from.
If you are a vegan, anything made from animals is out of your diet and thus #9 would apply to you.
I spent last week discussing the importance of essential fatty acids in your diet like: salmon, flaxseed, and algae. I put emphasis on the quality of these foods and how they come into your diet, as they are responsible for so many major functions in the body.
Today I want to continue this discussion with a focus on fat metabolism and our social understanding/acceptance of fat in the diet. The popularity of this topic could fill Broncos Stadium with blogs, articles, research, books, diets, and FB posts. I'm adding to it, so here we go!
I wanted to reference Nina Tiecholz interview on the history of fat phobia in the US. Keep in mind there are always statements and ideas that are up for debate, and let's remember that every culture, every individual has different specific dietary needs. What I always tell my clients to consider is "Is your current diet working for you?" This is a personal question, one that does not involve what's working for anyone else, but what's working for you! If you are on a Paleo diet AND yet you are overweight and unhappy, then that my friend is not the diet for you. The second question is "are you doing the diet the way it's supposed to be done for maximum results in physiological and physical symptoms?" Most will say they "cheat" or don't follow it really all the time. Well, that's not a very good control group! Your nutrition is an experiment, and a scientific experiment at that. You have to control as many variables as possible in order to assess the validity of your results. My own research and understanding needs to be expressed here for you to ponder as well. I want you to feel confident about your choices in healthy fats, and not scared you will gain weight.
Understanding Fat Metabolism.
Fat is not the enemy, and actually has many necessary functions in our body. Fat is used as energy (fuel), it transports nutrients and fat soluble vitamins to our cells, it synthesizes other lipids (fatty acids & cholesterol), it is stored and used for protection (insulation), protects against shock, maintains our cell membrane structure, and is the precursor for our immune responses to injury. “Good” fats are easily digested and are good sources for fuel in our metabolism. Fat already stored in your cells can be released and utilized in your metabolism if you give your body the option to utilize it first for energy instead of glucose.
Oil Processing & Free Radical Formation.
The commercial oil industry uses a few different methods to get the oil from the seed-to the bottle-to you, including hydrogenation, solvent extraction, degumming, bleaching, and deodorizing. All of them remove the natural substances we need to digest and metabolize oils. These substances include
phospholipids (including lecithin)
phytosterols (which block cholesterol absorption in the intestines)
essential fatty acids (which are destroyed at high heats)
vitamin E and carotene (which protect the oils from damage)
Having all of these things removed to provide the public with a “cleaner”, odorless, longer lasting oil is at the expense of our health. Commercial oils (those used in chips, crackers, sauces, chocolate, and restaurants) have lost all of their redeeming qualities- It’s now just a calorie dense pseudo-food with traces of chemical compounds! Yuck! At Honest Market we only use fats and oils in accordance to their smoke point and quality. We cook with whole grass-fed butter, rice bran oil, or grapeseed oil; and we use Extra Virgin Olive Oil on as the base to our dressings. We believe in providing the most optimal foods for the most optimal nutrition which is why we would never use vegetable oils or hydrogenated fats.
Oxidation causes processed polyunsaturated fats to become rancid which is what causes free radical formation in your tissues and organs; ultimately leading to cancerous tumors and cells.
Organic extra virgin olive oil
Organic extra virgin coconut oil
Rice bran oil
Organic expeller cold-pressed flaxseed oil
Omega-3 fatty acids (Organic fish oil supplement)
Avoid processed polyunsaturated fats.
* Canola Oil is not fresh, while the oil industry states that Canola Oil is high in monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated omega-3’s it fails to state that the processing of this oil denatures the very fat they are promoting. The Canola plant is a genetically modified organism, a plant that does not naturally exist in nature.
Eating Fat, Doesn’t make you Fat!
Research suggests that eating healthy fats is actually conducive to weight loss.
When you eat fats as part of your meal, they actually slow down your food absorption so that you can go longer without feeling hungry. The fatty acid conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), found in grass-fed beef and full-fat dairy products from grass-fed cows (butter, milk, cheese, etc.), is also associated with reduced body fat and weight. Unfortunately, many people are still shunning healthy foods like raw butter and grass-fed beef, which contain saturated fat, because they believe it will cause heart disease. In reality, saturated fats are among the healthiest fats you can consume.
Any whole fat source is good for your body on a daily basis. Whole fat sources include: fish, algae, organic unprocessed nuts & seeds, nut butters, grass-fed organic butter, organic coconut oil, olive oil, avocados, & palm fruit oil. These are “good” sources of fat (saturated or not), these fats will not cause heart disease, and if eaten in moderation will not make you gain weight.
Eating fat won't make you fat. Too many calories can, but most "low-fat" or "fat-free" foods actually have just as many calories as their full-fat versions. So, what is causing you to gain weight in your diet? Here’s are 10 variables to consider changing BEFORE cutting out your avocado, coconut, and full fat beef products.
Fruit & Nut Granola Bar by Honest Market.
Have a great week!
Sara Kosick, MNT, CSCS
Did you know that your brain is made up of mostly fatty tissue?
In order to feel your best you need to support your mood-enhancing brain functions with healthy fats. Foods like avocado, flaxseed, coconut, egg yolk, salmon skin, and nuts contain important fuel for your brain, allowing neurological pathways to run smoothly and efficiently. It's time to throw out your pre-conceived notions about fat, stop being fearful of things that are good for you, and start enjoying more healthy fats in your diet!
Feeling sluggish, tired, brain fog, low energy, irritated, depressed? How much fat have you had today??
Omega-3 fatty acids are your brain's power mood food. By simply adding more omega-3's to your diet you can raise your dopamine level by 40%. (Dopamine is your brain's natural antidepressant.)
Where can you find Omega-3's you might ask?? Omega-3 fatty acids are found in three essential and non-essential fatty acids in nature:
1. DHA- the primary oil found in fish and algea, as well as the primary fatty acid found in the human brain. It's health benefits also include decreasing the chance of heart disease due to lowering triglyceride levels.
2. EPA- the other primary oil found in fatty fish, such as mackerel, anchovies, sardines, salmon, tuna and hoki.
3. ALA- the least available form of Omega-3 to the human body, as it is found in plant sources (like flaxseeds, walnuts, soy, chia seeds). ALA must be converted to EPA/DHA once in the body and thus can be malabsorbed in the process.
The best foods to get your healthy dose of Omega-3's?
Salmon has the highest content of DHA of any fish source, ranging from 2000 to 3000 milligrams per 6 ounce serving. Wild salmon has more usable fish oil than farm-raised salmon. The best variety of salmon to choose is the Atlantic salmon, but Coho, pink and sockeye salmon are also good choices.
For vegetarians who do not eat fish, other sources of omega 3 fatty acids can be eaten such as walnuts, flaxseeds and tofu. However, these contain ALA not DHA. Algae is a source of DHA omega 3's that is a great option for vegans. My favorite and hands down the best product out there for algae's and sea vegetables is Billys Infinity Greens. I recommend Billy's greens powder to all of my clients, vegan or not!
These small fish can contain up to 840 milligrams of omega 3 fatty acids per 3-ounce can. European anchovy canned in oil is a better source than raw. For herring, the Atlantic variety has more DHA than the Pacific fish. Of the three, sardines have the lowest amount of DHA.
Fresh bluefin tuna has the highest amount of DHA of any of the tuna varieties. Canned tuna can be a good source, and may be more economical. Look for a white albacore tuna canned in water, which contains 3 times as much DHA as "light" tuna canned in water, and 6 times as much as light tuna canned in oil, according to the USDA Database analysis.
So what about QUALITY?
Getting adequate EPA/DHA nutrition from fish sources can be tricky, as it is important to eat fish from a clean source. Fatty fish carry residues of the pollution they swim in. If you intend to get the bulk of your Omega-3 fatty acid nutrition from fish, make sure you know the source of your food. Check out Seafood Watch and arm yourself with information so you know how/what to order when you're out at a restaurant, or when you're shopping at the grocery store.
In my home and for my clients I recommend Wild Caught Atlantic Salmon, Wild Line Caught Tuna, and Wild Alaskan halibut and cod. If you can not find/trust these at your local health food stores I recommend Vital Choice. Your local farmers markets may have some great choices on fresh wild caught fish as well.
You may also want to consider providing your body with needed Omega-3 fatty acids through supplements or fish oil capsules. You have a plethora of options when it comes to fish oil, but believe me not all are created equal. Just as you need to source healthy fish to eat, you need to source healthy, sustainable fish oil companies to provide quality fish oil. My best recommendation, outside of my professional grade products, is Nordic Naturals.
But won't eating more fat, make me fat?
The short answer to this question is: NO. What we need to realize as a culture is that foods like egg yolks, nuts, nut butters, avocados, healthy oils, and even grass-fed butter are not the enemy! These foods have a very specific job in our bodies, and don't come close to the negative impacts of excess fructose and glucose. Remember that any macro-nutrient in excess will cause weight gain, but excess carbohydrates healthy or not, all break down to glucose in the body and are the culprit to the declining health of the western world.
I'll be continuing this discussion next week with my second post on fat and fat metabolism. It is important that you understand the sources of plant omega's that are good and not so good for you. Stay tuned!
Have a great week!
Sara Kosick, MNT
Owner Holistic Roots Nutrition
Honest Market Master Nutritionist
Master Nutrition Therapist Pura Vida Fitness & Spa