Is there such thing as too many vegetables?

I recently started a low carb, high fat diet. Very similar to the ketogenic diet, but I’m not subscribing to keto because I’m not using test strips to see whether I’m in ketosis or not. I have a history of being a little obsessive over what I eat, so I’d rather be more relaxed about trying out this diet. I am, however, counting my macros and aiming to keep net carbs under 40g per day (no stress though!).


You guys, I’ve learned SO much from doing this!

So far I’ve only lost 3lbs (which is fine by me, I don’t have too much baby weight left to lose), but I look like I’ve lost much more. I was so bloated and inflamed! And do you know what I’ve realized the culprit is?

EATING TOO MANY VEGETABLES

Yes, I said it. Eating too many vegetables can actually cause more inflammation in the body. You frequently hear nutrition experts recommend that you may eat “as many vegetables as you’d like” because they’re low in calories, high in fiber and are full of vitamins and minerals. The logic is there. I was drinking smoothies with spinach and cauliflower, eating huge salads with tons of veggies, and was roasting veggies every night for dinner. I stopped worrying about getting so many vegetables in and suddenly my pants are looser and my face looks significantly thinner. To be honest, I had been a little fed up with my postpartum body, more than ready to be “myself” again. I feel more myself than I have in a year and a half.

So what did I do? I took out starchy carbs like sweet potatoes and squash and started practicing more portion control with consuming vegetables, which I would previously eat without limit. I completely eliminated fruit. Even though vegetables and fruit are “good carbs”, they’re still carbs and too much of anything, even good things, can have negative effects. I also cut out legumes (mainly chickpeas and peanut butter), which I didn’t eat a ton of but I imagine was causing some of the bloating and inflammation as well.

I’ve been focusing on getting in other nutrient dense foods such as sardines, salmon, grass fed meat and eggs and healthy fats like grass fed ghee and coconut oil. I thought I ate a lot of fat before, but now that I’m tracking, I never came close to the 90-100g that I’m eating now. It’s been an adjustment but it feels good! Even though it sounds like a lot of fat and very little carbs, I have been learning balance more than anything through this process.

In addition to losing the bloat, I’ve noticed some other benefits. I am much less hungry and hardly snack. I don’t wake up hungry so I am easily able to keep the fasting window between dinner and breakfast about 14 hours. My digestion is improved and am more, um, “regular.” I don’t overeat. I experience little to no sugar cravings. My skin is clear. I’m sure I’ll notice more in the weeks to come!

Have you ever tried a low carb diet like keto? I had been so resistant to the idea of it, but now that I’m doing it, I love it!



Simple Ways to Eat Mindfully

Mindful eating is an extremely important component of a healthy lifestyle. Even if you are eating the right foods, eating too much, too little, as a response to stress, or due to boredom can be detrimental to a persons healing journey. Mindlessness can go in either direction: a person can over or under eat due to stressful situations or a busy schedule, shoving food in their mouth without even thinking about it. On the other hand, there is such thing as being too regimented and eating according to “rules.” This can also lead to both over and under eating. Usually the under eating comes first, and the deprived person binges on “bad” foods that they had been avoiding. Developing a mindful eating practice can help you eat according to how your mind and body feel in relation to food, not according to a diet or set of guidelines. If you are eating truly mindfully, you will likely choose the healthier option more times than not.

Here are some simple exercises you can practice to help you eat more mindfully:

  • Chew! Chew your food COMPLETELY. Not only will this force you to focus on your meal, but it will also help you better digest your food (digestion begins in the mouth!). Chewing thoroughly will help you slow down, thereby noticing cues that you are full. While chewing, pay attention to the food itself. How does it feel in your mouth? Is it crunchy or soft? What does it taste like? Is it salty or sweet?

  • Put down your fork between bites. Do not pick the fork back up until you have completely finished your prior bite. Like chewing, this is another technique to help you slow down while eating. When you slow down, you will likely stop eating before you are overly full.

  • Eat away from technology. It is so easy to fall into a trap of eating while working at the computer, sitting in front of the tv, scrolling through Instagram on your phone, etc. Before you know it, you plate of food is gone and you don’t even remember eating it! Next time you eat, try to make it a point to sit down at a table without any distractions. Pay attention to the food you are eating and chewing your food completely. You may find that you feel more satisfied when you are done with your meal.

  • Gratitude practice. Studies have shown that those who pray or give thanks before eating are more satisfied after eating. Before eating, look at the plate in front of you and say a simple “thank you” to God, the universe, or whatever you believe in. Think about where your food came from and all the work that went into getting it on your plate, from start to finish. It only takes a few seconds.

  • Portion your food on a plate. It’s very easy to grab a bag of chips and eat right out of the bag. When eating a snack, take out a serving size and put the rest away. When eating a meal, serve yourself the amount of food that you think will satisfy your hunger. If you had cooked more food, leave it away from arms reach. When you are done with your first serving, wait and make sure that you are actually still hungry before going back for seconds.

  • Have a conversation with yourself before reaching for food. Creating this habit before every meal or snack can help prevent rummaging through the pantry and having your arm deep in a bag of chips before you even know what you’re doing. Here are some examples of questions you can ask yourself:

    • Am I hungry?

    • What am type of food is my body craving?

    • What will make me feel good when I am done eating?

    • What is my hunger level?

    • What emotions am I feeling right now?

  • Have a conversation with yourself after eating. Start to recognize how certain foods make you feel. This can help you make better food decisions in the future.

    • How do I feel after eating?

    • What is my hunger level?

    • Did I eat too much? Too little?

    • What emotions do I feel after this meal?

Do you have any exercises that help you to eat more mindfully? Let me know!

6 Ways to Meditate and Reduce Stress

In my practice, anxiety is a common complaint among patients.  This is very understandable - life can be stressful! Stress and anxiety can be caused by a number of things: an overwhelming schedule, stressful job, difficult family circumstances, and so much more. Believe it or not, anxiety can also be caused by a number of physical factors, such as immune challenges, heavy metal and chemical toxicity, and food sensitivities, all of which can be handled with a personally designed nutrition program and lifestyle changes. I have found that, regardless of the cause, incorporating meditation and relaxation techniques into your day can be extremely helpful with reducing anxiety.

Other than simply reducing feelings of stress and anxiety, meditation has endless benefits. A daily practice, even if for only five minutes a day, can lead to reduced stress, increased happiness, improved concentration, better sleep, lower blood pressure and strengthened memory.

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Here are some simple things you can do anytime, anywhere to help clear your mind and feel your best mentally.

Breathing - Sit in a comfortable position and set an alarm. You can start for as little as 2 minutes and work your way up to as much as 20 or 30 minutes. Close your eyes and take a deep breath in and a deep breath out. Let your breathing return to normal, but pay attention to your breath. If it helps you concentrate, you can count to four while inhaling, hold your breath for four seconds, and then count to four while exhaling. Repeat until the alarm goes off.

Mantra - Other than focusing on your breath, you can choose a mantra that resonates with you. Repeat the mantra for the duration of the meditation. Some mantras you can use are:

  • Sanskrit terms, such as Om or So-Hum, both great for a morning meditation

  • Everything I need is within me

  • I love myself

  • All situations are temporary

  • I have everything I need

  • I choose to be happy

Body Scan - You can do this while still laying in bed when you wake up in the morning. Start by closing your eyes and focusing on your breath. When you are ready, bring awareness to your toes, and at your own pace, mentally travel up your body until your reach the top of your head. If you want to do this before going to sleep at night, start at your head and work your way down to your toes.

Guided Meditations - Sometimes it can be difficult to get started with meditation on your own. You may feel frustrated if you can’t concentrate (this is completely normal!). You may like the help of a guided meditation. There are a multitude of apps with guided meditations. Some good ones that we recommend are Calm, 10% Happier, Headspace and Meditation Studio.

Gratitude Journal - Keeping a journal of things you are grateful for has recently been proven to significantly reduce stress. This can be done in 5 minutes. Simply sit down once a day and write a list of things that you feel grateful for or things that made you happy that day. You can also jot down things that you are looking forward to.

Exercise - Regular exercise can significantly improve mood and reduce stress and anxiety. If you do not like to exercise, try to find something that works for you. It doesn’t have to be anything crazy. You can go for a walk, do yoga, take a Zumba class, you name it!

Personally, incorporating meditation into my daily life has been life changing. I am less anxious and reactive and far more confident and productive. Please let me know if you try any of these techniques in the comments!



What Does Holistic Health Really Mean?

Do you know what “holistic” means? I feel that the true meaning of the word has been lost. It is thrown around to encompass anything that is natural health oriented. However, this is just a tiny piece of what holistic actually means. Holistic is defined as “relating to or concerned with wholes or with complete systems rather than with the analysis of, treatment of, or dissection into parts.”

When it pertains to health, holistic isn’t merely using natural means to treat health issues. Holistic health is treating the entire person. When a patient comes in to see me, not only am I asking them about diet, physical ailments and health issues, but also about how they are sleeping, the environment in which they live, their social and family life, relationships, exercise routine, spiritual and religious practices, and much more. Think of every person as a puzzle. If one piece of missing or doesn’t fit, the picture isn’t complete and it can throw the whole thing off.

When it comes to the body, I am looking at the person’s ENTIRE body. If they have kidney issues, I’m not just looking at their kidneys. I’m looking at every single organ and body system to see where I find any weaknesses. It’s important to remember that everything is connected and that anything can cause anything. For example, if a patient comes in with hypothyroidism (because that’s what her labs indicate), I’m not just looking at her thyroid. Her thyroid numbers could be off the charts due to the dysfunction of an entirely different organ or gland, and thyroid weakness isn’t, in fact, the root of the problem. Her thyroid will never truly heal unless the weakness of that other body part is addressed. Sure, Synthroid could make her numbers “normal”, but the second she stops taking it, numbers are back up. I don’t know about you, but I wouldn’t want to depend on medications for the rest of my life. This goes with any condition.

And yes, natural means (such as diet) are typically used when you work with a holistic health practitioner. That is because the nutrients from food are exactly what the body needs so that it can function correctly and heal itself. Medications are typically just covering up symptoms, not working towards strengthening the body. The fact that medications aren’t “natural” is just a small part of the reason why they shouldn’t be the first thing we reach for when we get sick. There is a time and place for medicine, but usually natural means are more effective and better benefit our health in the long run.

In my practice, in addition to diet and lifestyle changes, I use whole food supplements (mostly from Standard Process) to help support the bodies of my patients. Ideally, diet changes would be enough, but due to current farming practices, the quality of the soil and the use of chemicals and antibiotics when growing food, the nutrient density and quality of our food is nowhere near where it needs to be. Whole food supplements are a great addition to a healthy diet because they are concentrated with the nutrients (in their natural form) your individual body needs in order to repair. When I say individual, I mean that no two people are treated the same (another indicator of a truly holistic practice!). Even if two people have the same exact symptoms or conditions, it is likely that the root cause of these symptoms, and therefore their supplement programs, are completely different.

I hope to see health care move towards being predominantly holistic. Not only is it effective in helping people truly resolve their health issues, it can help them prevent getting sick to begin with. In my opinion, nothing works better!



Favorite Whole30 Products

Here are some of my favorite pantry staples and appliances that made my whole 30 experience easy and tasty :)

Whole 30 - DONE

Yahoo! It’s over!

As much as I loved doing the Whole30, that’s exactly how I feel. I didn’t necessarily miss any particular food, but I was ready to not have to be so careful. I missed going out and eating something without worry that there was a little bit of dairy or that something was cooked with butter. I missed the freedom of having a glass of red wine if I wanted to (this was actually the first non Whole30 thing that passed these lips!). I was also ready to add some convenience back into my life. Not that I even eat processed/crappy snacks to begin with, but I was feeling a little burnt out from having to be so prepared all the time. For example, if Rory and I were going to hang out at my parents during the day, I would bring my own lunch even though they have a stocked kitchen.

Overall, I would definitely recommend doing the Whole30, especially if you feel like you need a reset. I personally felt like I had been in a downward spiral of carbs, sugar and overeating after pregnancy and postpartum. I now feel more in control of what I put in my body. I don’t recommend doing the Whole30 if you’re not totally committed or if you’re looking to simply lose weight. It is so much more than that. If you were interested in weight loss, I would suggest doing the Whole30 as a means to get you on track for an overall lifestyle change in the long term.

How I Feel

I’m feeling good! I lost 4 pounds, which is still a few pounds away from my pre-pregnancy weight, but I am comfortably back into most of my jeans. I feel so much more comfortable in my body - which is all that matters! I am ok with this because it is normal to hang onto a couple extra pounds while breastfeeding, which I have no plans to stop anytime soon.

My mood is still good, digestive symptoms are gone. They did start to sneak up a little around week 3, and I was eating way too many nuts and nut butters around this time. I already knew this was an issue so I plan to be mindful about how many nuts I’m eating and making sure I soak them and not eating any roasted in bad oils.

Going Forward

On a daily basis, I would like to eat as close to Whole30 as possible, especially when I’m making dinner at home. Initially, I intended to introduce one non compliant food at a time, and I still do for the most part; however, I did go out to dinner last night and along with the aforementioned red wine, ate small amounts of hummus and parmesan cheese. I feel totally fine. I didn’t think dairy or legumes were problem foods for me anyway. I am pretty sure that grains and/or natural sugars (I don’t ever really consume refined sugar, but was having things like maple syrup or raw honey) are what were causing my digestive issues. I will introduce them in good time, but for now, I have no desire to add them back in. Going forward, I plan to eat paleo (minus maple syrup, honey, etc) 80% of the time, and then living a little the other 20%.

What I Ate

I got into such a good groove with meal planning and cooking. I absolutely intend to keep this up. Prior to the Whole30 I felt like I was in a rut of making the same, boring meals over and over. It was fun to try new recipes and get creative in the kitchen. I included some recipes and links in my last post but here are a few more ideas:

Breakfast

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  • Cauliflower Oatmeal. I found this recipe on Instagram and I changed it up a little every time I make it. Combine 1/2 banana (can sub mashed sweet potato), 1/2 cup riced cauliflower, 3 TBS ground flax, 1 cup non dairy milk of choice, and cinnamon in a small pot. Bring to a boil then bring down the heat to medium low. Let cook for 5-10 minutes, stirring frequently. It’s done when the mixture thickens and has an oatmeal-like consistency. Pour in a bowl and add toppings (nuts, nut or seed butter, coconut butter, shredded coconut, blueberries).

  • Sweet Potato Toast. Cut a sweet potato long ways into thin slices, then toast as you would toast bread. When it’s ready, you can add whatever you’d like on top! You can do sunflower butter with sliced banana, avocado and a fried egg, coconut butter with blueberries.

  • Half of a baked sweet potato topped with almond butter, apples sautéed in coconut oil and cinnamon and a sprinkle of paleo cereal.

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Lunch

  • Egg Drop Soup. Heat up chicken broth, slowly pour in a whisked egg while stirring with a fork (so it gets stringy), then add kelp noodles and spinach at the end.

  • Nori Wrap filled with avocado, sliced carrots, beets and chicken

  • Bowl of roasted vegetables and protein of choice with a drizzle of tahini

Dinner

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  • Egg Roll in a Bowl

  • Buffalo Wings

  • Chili from Whole30 cookbook served over baked potato and topped with avocado

  • Carnitas from Whole30 cookbook served with cauliflower rice, peppers, sweet potatoes and guacamole

  • Cod with pesto zucchini noodles, sautéed kale and roasted carrots

  • Vegetable curry (make sure to use a sauce with compliant ingredients or make your own) with shrimp

  • Spiralized potatoes cooked in bacon fat with bacon and over easy eggs

Other

  • Cardamom Cashew Milk. Soak 1 cup cashews over night. Strain and rinse then add to a blender with 3 dates, about 1/2 tsp cardamom, and a dash of cinnamon and cayenne. Blend for about 2 minutes on high. This was so good in coffee and chai tea! I love making cashew milk because it doesn’t require straining.

  • Flax Crackers. Add flax seeds and water to a jar in a 1:1 ratio (I did about 3/4 cup of each) and let sit overnight. Pour out onto a parchment lined pan and put in the oven at 200 degrees for about 3 hours. They’re done when they’re crunchy and break easily. You can add whatever spices or herbs you’d like! I just added a little sea salt because I like to change up the dip/topping.

Whole 30 - Halfway There!

Today is day 15 of the Whole30 and I can’t say enough good things about it. The Whole30 is a 30 day challenge during which you give up all grains, dairy, legumes, sugars and alcohol. It focuses on eating a whole food diet. You can read more about it here.

Here are some details about my Whole30 journey!

Why I decided to do the Whole30

I was more than ready to do some type of clean-eating reset or elimination diet when I started. After giving birth, I have been hanging on to about 10 extra pounds. And I felt it. I was still eating healthy, but no where near how I once ate before pregnancy. Once pregnancy was over, the breastfeeding hanger kicked in. I felt like I had lost all control of what and how much I was putting in my mouth. I knew it wouldn’t last forever and would slow down once Rory started eating solids, so I gave myself some grace until he reached 6 months.

In addition to feeling heavy and weighed down, I had also been experiencing some pretty bad digestive issues since giving birth (I’ll spare you the details). I had found that I had a sensitivity to nuts through Nutrition Response Testing, and avoiding them definitely made a difference, but the problem wasn’t completely handled.

How I’m Feeling

I feel AMAZING! I want to shout it from the roof tops. Seriously. For the first time in a year and a half, I finally feel like “myself” again. Obviously my body will never be exactly the same as it was, but I at least feel comfortable in my skin.

My digestive symptoms are GONE. I have not experienced one “episode” since starting the Whole30. At this point, I am in no rush to introduce any of the forbidden foods, but I am curious to find out what was causing this issue. Before the Whole30, symptoms would flare when I ate nuts; however, I started eating small amounts of nuts a few days ago and my body is handling them just fine.

I am nicer. I experienced a little bit of postpartum depression and anxiety after giving birth. Nothing crazy, but my mind and emotions were not in a good place, and it was clear through my behavior (mostly just at home. Poor Pat.) I only noticed this in the past few days, but since January, I stopped snapping, I’m crying less and when I’m in a stressful situation, I’ve been able to handle it much more gracefully.

What I’m Eating

I’ve been having so much fun cooking! I’m not creative when it comes to making my own recipes. But I’ve been cooking a lot so I thought I’d share some good recipes I’ve found with you all!

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Breakfast

  • Sautéed sweet potato and apples with cinnamon, almond butter and coconut yogurt. Make sure you buy sugar free.

  • Chia pudding. Mix 1 cup non dairy milk of choice with 3 Tbs chia seeds. Stir and let sit over night. In the morning, pour into a bowl and top with almond or sunflower butter, coconut shreds, blueberries and pumpkin seeds.

  • Banana egg scramble. Heat up 1 Tbs coconut oil over low medium heat. Mash a banana and add to the pan. Stir for about two minutes, until fragrant. Whisk two eggs with a little non dairy milk, cinnamon and about 1/2 - 1 Tbs of each hemp and chia seeds. Add to the pan and stir as if you were making scrambled eggs. It’s done when the eggs are cooked through. Add to a bowl with almond butter, blueberries and coconut yogurt.

  • Paleo Cereal

  • Eggs, bacon, roasted potatoes. Classic!

Lunch

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  • Tuna salad made with homemade or a whole30 complaint mayo. Add some chopped veggies for a crunch. Serve in romaine lettuce or collard wraps.

  • Turkey “sandwich” (make sure turkey has no nitrates, sugar or antibiotics) with avocado, sprouts, spinach on a roasted eggplant “bun”

  • Big salad with roasted veggies, avocado, protein of choice, seeds and a compliant dressing.

  • Leftovers!

Dinner

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Snacks (not typically allowed but #breastfeeding)

  • Almond Pulp Crackers

  • Guacamole and Plantain Chips

  • Hardboiled eggs

  • Flax crackers

  • Date dipped in nut butter or tahini

Other

  • Almond milk (soak 1 cup almonds over night. strain and add to blender with about 3 cups water. blend on high for 2 minutes. Use cheese cloth or a nut milk bag to strain. I put a large mason jar in a bowl and put a strainer on top of that, and squeeze the nut milk bag on top. this helps to double strain and avoid a huge mess). Or make cashew milk, which is similar but you don’t have to strain!

  • Homemade Mayo from Whole30 cookbook

Pregnancy Update - Third Trimester

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I can't believe I'm already at 40 weeks! Time has flown. Still feeling good but I'm beyond ready for this babe to come out :)

 

Body

For the majority of my third trimester, I still felt great. It took until about 38 weeks to get super uncomfortable. I started to experience some middle and lower back pain around this time. It was bound to happen, especially since all of my weight gain has been in the front of my middle. I consider myself very lucky that I felt so great for this long!

Weight gain slowed down immensely. I really didn’t gain any weight during my third trimester. I majorly shifted from being chubby to pregnant. As I am writing this at almost 40 weeks, I clock in at about a 30 pound total weight gain, which was the case at about 30 weeks as well. Almost all of my weight is in my belly and boobs. You can hardly tell I’m pregnant from behind.

 

Food

I’ve been eating pretty normally for the most part. At around 36 weeks, I went through a phase during which certain vegetables were not tasting good again. Both salads and smoothies would make me feel nauseous. Only hot food sounded good to me. You can read more about my diet during pregnancy in my second trimester update post.

In the past few days I’ve gotten HUNGRY. I’m hoping this is some kind of sign that the end is near :). I had heard that towards the end of pregnancy, women can’t eat as much at a time because there isn’t as much room left.  This is not exactly the cause with me - I can fit in as much as ever!

I haven’t mentioned this yet, but I’ve also been ridiculously thirsty. I’ve been drinking more water than ever. I’ve also been drinking a lot of Red Raspberry Leaf tea. It isn’t great hot, but very palatable when put over ice. You can even add a little honey as well. This can help both tone the uterus and get labor going.

 

Fitness

I continued to do about 3 Barre3 workouts per week and 1 or 2 yoga classes. As the weather got warmer, I started to incorporate more walks. At this point at 40 weeks, I haven’t been doing Barre but I have been going on a walk almost everyday. I will occasionally do yoga as well.

I have to say that staying active was integral to my feeling good during this pregnancy. I am now 40 weeks and still feel relatively great. I am very mobile and have little issues physically. Most people think I’m only about 7-8 months along.

 

Mood

For the majority of my third trimester I have been in an overall great mood. At around 39 weeks, things started to go south. I started feeling like I needed to get so much done! At this point I stopped working, but I was probably doing even more because I had the free time. I would spend the entire day cleaning, preparing for the birth, setting up the nursery, cooking, shopping, walking. It was all just too much. And on top of that, we are going through a bit of a heat wave on Long Island right now. By about 8-9 pm, I had a full on meltdown every night. I just couldn’t handle it. Once I recognized that my need to be productive was causing more harm than good, I decided to slow down and the meltdowns have subsided! As I’m nearing my due date, I’m definitely feeling impatient and frustrated. I just can’t wait to be on the other side of this!

 

Sleep

My sleep has been quite good. I still wake up to use the bathroom, but I am usually able to fall back to sleep right away. I am so surprised by this because I am usually not a good sleeper at all. I’m pretty much used to sleeping on my side now.

 

I can't wait to share more once the baby is born! I have also started a Facebook group called Tree of Life Motherhood. I plan to share all things pregnancy, postpartum, childhood here. If you are interested, please ask to join if you aren't a part of the group already!

 

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Bulletproof Dandelion Tea

Dandelion is a great herb for both when you’re trying to conceive and already pregnant. Not only is it good for the body, it has a bitter, earthy coffee flavor, so it’s a good caffeine free substitute if you’re missing the real deal.

It is a gentle liver cleansing herb, helping the body get rid of toxins (such as hormone disrupting chemicals), making it an excellent herb for women who would like to get pregnant.

If you are already pregnant, dandelion can help reduce swelling, fight fatigue and minimize constipation.

This morning drink resembles a bulletproof coffee, without the coffee! It is good for anyone, not just pregnant women. It supports hormone balance in the body (which women need at all stages of having children) and provides protein from collagen, natural energy from maca and healthy fats from the coconut oil and ghee.

 

Bulletproof Dandelion Tea

 

Ingredients:

1 TBS Dandy Blend (herbal coffee replacement made from dandelion)

2 TBS collagen (I used Great Lakes)

1 tsp maca

1 tsp cacao powder

½ - 1 tsp ghee

½ - 1 tsp coconut oil

Dash of cinnamon

Monk fruit extract to taste (optional)

⅛ cup almond or coconut milk

1 ½ cups hot water

 

Instructions:

Add all ingredients to a high speed blender and mix until combined and frothy, about 1 minute.

 

Clearly still not over college basketball. Go Nova!

Clearly still not over college basketball. Go Nova!

Pregnancy Update - Second Trimester

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Happy to say that my pregnancy took a major turn for the better during the second trimester. All in all - I feel really great! The most noticeable setback (which isn't even a real issue) is that I am insanely clumsy. Seriously, I'm constantly dropping, breaking and spilling things. You will rarely see me without the remnants of the days lunch on my clothes. Other than that, no real complaints! I attribute this stellar pregnancy to being on a Nutrition Response Testing program, a healthy diet and regular movement.  Here's an update on how I'm doing:

 

Body

During the first few weeks of the second trimester, I still felt nauseous. But it didn’t last long. One day, at around 15 weeks, I woke up, got up immediately and started going about my morning (keep in mind, for the past 15 weeks getting out of bed was a major struggle).  It took me about an hour before I realized that I actually felt good! The switch between feeling horrible and feeling great was so sudden. I haven’t really felt sick at all since 15 weeks and my energy levels have significantly improved.

In terms of how my body appears, I no longer feel “chubby” and I actually feel pregnant. Most of my body is exactly the same except for the fact that I have a bump that is growing (and my giant boobs :).  My bump does seem pretty small and I’m still carrying low. It didn’t actually start to feel big until about 26 weeks. For my growing bump, I’ve been applying Earth Mama belly oil everyday in hopes to reduce stretch marks :)

Weight gain is almost 30 lbs. It slowed down a lot from the beginning. It definitely doesn't look like I've gained that much, but that's probably because the majority of my weight gain is in my boobs and belly.

From about 20-23 weeks I experienced significant right butt cheek/right leg pain. I think this was due to a minor car accident I had (everything is ok!) and not 100% due to pregnancy. This was incredibly frustrating because my ability to walk and change positions significantly decreased.  I adopted the pregnancy “waddle” a little earlier than I expected! Thankfully this went away due to some rest from exercise and regular chiropractic adjustments. I now experience a little low back pain but nothing major or debilitating.

 

Food

I can’t say that I have experienced any crazy cravings. I do love burgers more than before, but that’s about it. I really love nut butters, but that’s something that I loved prior to pregnancy. I don’t really have many aversions either. I used to love salmon and eat it frequently, but now I really am not enjoying it, especially when it’s not cooked through all of the way. Another thing I used to love was Mexican food. But that is not entering the rotation these days either.

For the most part, my old diet is back, although I am eating more carbs. I try to make sure these carbs are limited to starchy vegetables (ie, sweet potatoes) and sprouted whole grains. In addition, I am  focusing on eating enough protein and fat at every meal. Not only does this help keep my blood sugar levels stabilized and keeps me full for a significant amount of time, but eating healthy fats is essential for brain development. I’ve been getting fats in my diet by eating avocados and avocado oil, coconut oil, grass fed butter, ghee, extra virgin olive oil, egg yolks, nuts and seeds. I wish I could say I’ve been eating a lot of salmon and fatty fish but I just don’t like it right now :(. To make up for this I am supplementing with Cod Liver Oil and DHA.

For breakfast I’ll have a smoothie, yogurt bowl, Ezekiel english muffin with peanut butter or a sweet potato with coconut butter or almond butter and cinnamon. Lunch is usually a big salad with roasted veggies, hard boiled egg and avocado (chips or crackers usually find their way in there somehow :). Dinner is more varied, but a normal night includes some kind of protein with a vegetable. I am definitely eating more meat these days. I don’t find that I am overeating, but I’m definitely eating more than I did previously.

 

Fitness

After I stopped going to Orange Theory, I started doing more low impact workouts. I have both  Barre3 and YogaGlo online subscriptions. I try to do each workout 3 times per week. Like I said in my first trimester post, I attempted to continue running outside like I had in the past, but my body just wasn’t having it. My hips just felt so off. During my butt pain phase, workouts significantly decreased. However, once the pain started to subside I got right back into it. I’ve also been trying to walk as much as I can, especially since the weather is now starting to warm up.

 

Mood

My mood significantly improved during my second trimester. For the most part, I feel great mentally. I’m happy and I genuinely love being pregnant. Sometimes I can be a little sensitive but I don’t think it’s any different than prior to pregnancy.  

I got back into the groove of meditating and did a lot of work on my mental and spiritual health. This worked wonders!

 

Sleep

Thankfully, the 3am wake up calls stopped during the second trimester. Sometimes I’ll wake up at 5 without setting an alarm but I’m ok with that. However, my sleep is interrupted 3-5 times a night due to frequent urination. If I thought I peed a lot before, I had no idea! I am generally able to go right back to sleep, for which I am very grateful.

One other minor struggle I have endured attributes to the fact that I have been a stomach sleeper for my entire life. Sleeping on my side definitely took some getting used to. I bought a Snoogle to use for extra support while sleeping and it’s been life changing! I highly recommend this pillow.

 

Nursery/Prepping for Baby

Not much to tell! Really dropping the ball on this one :)

 

Bradley Method

I attended a natural childbirth class once a week during February and March. To say I learned a lot is an understatement. I knew I wanted to give birth naturally, but this class helped to solidify the beliefs I already held and gave me the tools I need to make an unmedicated birth reality. This deserves a post by itself. Stay tuned!

Benefits of raising Backyard Chickens

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Last summer I embarked on the journey of raising backyard chickens. I am by no means an animal person, but for some reason, the idea of raising chickens for eggs had this romantic allure. A friend and I went to a local store with the simple goal of gathering information and before we knew it, we were purchasing eggs. Luckily, I have a handy father in law and husband who were able to build me a coop that was both functional and aesthetically pleasing.

Factory farmed eggs come from chickens that are packed in cages and don’t have any room to roam, flap wings, make nests. They are fed mostly grains, instead of feeding off grass and insects. Even when eggs are labeled “cage-free” and “free-range”, that doesn’t necessarily mean that they still aren’t packed into a tiny area. Some chickens can even go their entire lives without going outdoors or seeing sunlight. These tight conditions allow bacteria and other contaminants to thrive. And who knows how often the living space is cleaned (ever think about what happens to all the feces?). To prevent growth of bacteria, many farmers inject chickens with antibiotics. There also is a chance that chickens are pumped with hormones which, along with antibiotics, contaminate the eggs. All in all, these poor living conditions leads to unhealthy chickens which leads to unhealthy eggs.

Pastured chickens, on the other hand, are free to roam a field or yard. They can feed off of grass, bugs and worms, ensuring a high protein diet. There are a number of health benefits of eating organic eggs from pastured or backyard chickens.

  • Increased Vitamin A

  • Increased Vitamin D

  • Increased Vitamin E

  • Increased omega 3 fatty acids and decreased omega 6 fatty acids

  • Less cholesterol

  • Less saturated fat (not saying saturated fat is bad, but this is a factor)

  • No residual antibiotics in eggs

  • Less chance of residual pollutants

  • Reduces risk of salmonella contamination

  • Saves on monetary and environmental impacts of transport

  • Ensure you’re eating fresh eggs (eggs can be weeks old by the time you buy them from the grocery store)

  • Reduced food waste (we give all our scraps to our chickens)

Special Offer!

I'm so excited to be offering 50% off on all new patient examinations! Nutrition Response Testing changed my health and my life in the best possible way and I know that it can do the same for others. With this technique, I am able to get into communication with the body and determine the root causes of any health issues.  From there, I use nutrition to help the body to heal itself. In just a year of practicing I have seen amazing results. Please contact me for more information. I am happy to speak over the phone to help you decide whether Nutrition Response Testing is right for you. 

It's A Boy!

When it came time to learn the gender of our baby, I decided that I wanted to do a gender reveal party for our close family. I have to admit, I was VERY surprised to find out it was a boy. I had been so sure it was a girl that I had the rest of my family and friends thinking that it was a girl as well. 

To share the news, I made cupcakes stuffed with blue frosting, so when everyone bit into or broke open the cupcake, the secret would be out! I used Simple Mills vanilla cake mix and vanilla frosting because of course I had to "healthily" these cupcakes :). I used this natural food coloring to make the filling blue. The blue is made from spirulina. Everything worked out SO WELL. The cupcakes both tasted and looked amazing. I love the Simple Mills cake mixes because they are made without grains or refined sugar. And no one could even tell the difference!

 

 

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Pregnancy Update - First Trimester

I’m now at 21 weeks when I’m finally sitting down to write my first trimester recap. It seems like a distant memory now, but at the time, I thought it would never end!

I found out I was pregnant on Thursday, November 2, after almost a full month of feeling "off" - I could tell something was up with my body. I had been taking pregnancy tests, but they were all negative up until this point. I was beyond excited to be embarking on this adventure and so relieved to finally have an answer for why I was feeling so bloated and fatigued. 

The first trimester is such a strange time. You can't tell anyone you're pregnant, but EVERYONE knows that something is up! At least 3 times a day, I was asked if I felt ok or told that I looked like crap. I just had to go along with it. This isn't the case for everyone, but I gained a good 15 pounds in those first three months. Yet I never looked pregnant. So that brought a lot of insecurities and frustration. 

Needless to say, there were a lot of changes going on that took getting used to. Here's the recap, if you're interested in more deets!

 

Body

My body definitely changed in the first trimester - immediately! However, I never looked “pregnant.” My pants stopped fitting very early on due to what I believe was just bloat and weight gain due to the drastic change in my diet (more on that below).  The biggest change was in my boobs. Already big for my body, they got even bigger! At least 1-2 cup sizes within the first 12 weeks. I gained a lot of weight in my first trimester and I’m guessing most of it was from my increase in boob size!  

During the first 15 or so weeks of pregnancy, I was very sick. I felt nauseous pretty much 24/7. It was actually the worst at night. Eating dinner was always a struggle. Thankfully, there was no vomiting. I was also very tired during this time. Previously, I hardly ever sat on the couch. I don’t even know how to turn on our television! Now, I was regularly taking naps when I could and very much looked forward to going to bed at night.

 

Food

Like I said above, my diet drastically changed in my first trimester. Before pregnancy, I typically ate a very low carb diet. I ate a lot of vegetables, fats and protein in the form of smoothies, salads, etc. Once I got pregnant - this immediately ended. Suddenly, I was no longer able to stomach this nutrient-dense diet I formerly enjoyed. In fact, all I felt I could stomach was processed carbs. I hadn’t eaten a bagel in at least 5 years and suddenly that was the only thing I could tolerate.

I had a very difficult time accepting this mentally. As a nutritionist, I know how important it is for a pregnant woman to eat a healthy diet. I wanted to give my growing baby everything he needed and more. However, I couldn’t deny that I felt good after eating a bagel and awful after force-feeding myself a salad. This experience taught me a lot. I learned that I needed to cut myself some slack, have compassion for my changing body and know that this phase would be over soon and I could focus on maximizing my diet then. For now, I needed to just get by and give my body what it wanted.

When I wasn’t eating bacon egg and cheese on an everything bagel, I was able to trick myself into eating “healthier” carbs in some ways. For example, I would eat lentil pasta with wilted spinach, pesto and melted mozzarella. Siete tortillas (made from cassava and coconut flour) came in handy to make quesadillas and egg tacos. When I did buy bread, I would buy sourdough, which is fermented, making it easier to digest.

 

Fitness

About a month before getting pregnant, I started a membership with Orange Theory Fitness. This is a high intensity workout that includes treadmill, rowing machine and a variety of weight exercises. I thoroughly enjoyed this fast paced, intense workout. For the majority of my first trimester, I was able to continue attending classes about 2x/week. I did notice as time went on that the workouts were getting more and more difficult for me to get through. I probably could have continued the workouts for a little while longer and modify the exercises, but I decided that it was not worth the money to attend a class (it is not cheap) and not put in 100% effort. I honestly believed that I would be able to run through most of my pregnancy, but that ended pretty quickly. It just doesn’t feel right for me so I stopped even attempting at around 12 weeks and have been mostly walking instead.

 

Mood

Excuse my language, but I felt bat shit crazy during my first trimester. Even though I was genuinely happy to be pregnant, I felt very depressed and anxious with no explanation of why I was feeling that way. I had a handful of anxiety attacks, which I haven’t experienced in a few years. I had no control of my emotions and found myself crying constantly. This was discouraging for me because, over the past few years, I have put so much effort into NOT feeling this way. I think this had to do with a combination of feeling sick, hormone changes, frustration with my growing body, eating gluten and processed carbs after 5+ years of eating gluten free, and lack of sleep.

All I have to say is thank God for Min-Chex and a pre-existing meditation practice!

 

Sleep

I am not a great sleeper to begin with. I usually wake up at least once per night to go to the bathroom. Around the 8 or so week mark it got even worse. I went through a phase in which I was waking up around 3:30 and unable to fall back asleep. This would happen at least 3-4 times per week. It was incredibly frustrating, but thankfully it isn’t happening as much anymore (only on occasion).

 

Overall, the first trimester was pretty rough. I am so grateful that I’m past that phase. However, it was definitely a learning experience. I learned that even though I have grand expectations of how certain experiences will go, things rarely go as planned. I thought I would have this healthy, active, perfect pregnancy from day one and it ended up being the opposite. I was definitely humbled by this wretch in my plans! I learned that I need to relax, which is something that I usually have a hard time doing. I felt much better once I surrendered to the experience and listened to my body rather than doing what I thought was “right.”

 

 

Prenatal Supplements

Throughout my pregnancy, I haven't been taking a traditional pre-natal supplement. Rather, I've been taking a variety of Standard Process and other high quality supplements that give my baby and my body exactly what they need during this time. Standard Process supplements are made from whole foods. When we get our nutrients from whole foods, our bodies are more readily able to use and assimilate these nutrients. By using Nutrition Response Testing, I am able to determine exactly which nutrients and how much my body needs. Taking a generic prenatal supplement takes a "one size fits all" approach, which doesn't fit in with my health philosophy that everyone is different and should be treated individually. 

Below is the list of the supplements I am currently taking: 

Folic Acid B12 - Folic Acid is essential to take before and during pregnancy. It helps prevent neural tube defects and certain types of heart defects. For the mother, it can reduce risk of preeclampsia. Folic acid encourages healthy cell production, healthy nervous system development, promotes good circulation and is essential in the process of DNA formation and replication.

Ferrofood - Ferrofood is a Standard Process supplement that provides iron. Iron is important to take during pregnancy because it helps synthesize hemoglobin for both you and your baby. It also helps the transport of oxygen to your red blood cells. Ferrofood also contains vitamin C, which helps with iron absorption.

Calcium - Calcium requirements increase by about 200-400 grams for pregnant women. Standard Process has two great calcium supplements. Calcifood helps build strong, healthy bones. Calcium lactate, in addition to bone health, has a number of other functions, such as: development of muscles and nerves, maintenance and function of cell membranes, functioning of enzymes and support of blood coagulation.

Cod Liver Oil - Cod liver oil supplies omega 3 fats in the forms of DHA and EPA. Essential fatty acids are necessary for the development of the baby's brain, nervous system, heart and eye development. Cod liver oil also contains vitamin A, which is good for eye development, immune function and reproductive health, and vitamin D, which is necessary for proper bone formation, proliferation and differentiation of cells and neuromuscular function. 

DHA - I have also been taking Nordic Naturals ProDHA for additional essential fats. DHA has also been shown to enhance mood (and we all know how pregnant women can be a little moody:). I also plan to take DHA while breastfeeding to ensure that my baby is consuming enough omega 3's. 

Catalyn - Catalyn is the multivitamin produced by Standard Process. I personally have not been taking Catalyn, but there are many women who test for it or may choose to take it during pregnancy. 

This goes without saying, but in addition to taking supplements, I've been trying to make sure my diet is as clean as possible. During my first trimester, this was easier said than done because all I could stomach was carbs. Now that I am feeling great, and can eat protein, salads and smoothies again, I'm trying to make up for lost time! 

Gut-Friendly Protein Smoothie

Smoothies are all the rage lately. They are delicious and an easy way to get in a ton of nutrients. However, depending on the ingredients used, some can leave you feeling bloated and gassy. I put this recipe together to help avoid those post-smoothie symptoms. The protein powder I used is the Fermented Vegan protein powder from Genuine Health. Consuming fermented foods is a great way to incorporate probiotics (or good bacteria) into your diet. Ensuring that we have good bacteria in our gut can help aid digestion and decrease symptoms such as bloating, stomach pain, gassiness, constipation and diarrhea.

Gut-Friendly Protein Smoothie

Ingredients:

1-2 cups spinach

1/4 cup steamed then frozen cauliflower

1/2 banana

1/2 avocado

1/4 cup berries

1 - 1 1/2 c cashew milk (or any non dairy milk)

1 serving vanilla Genuine Health Vegan Fermented Protein

dash of cinnamon

 

Instructions:

Add all ingredients to a high speed blender. Blend on high for 1-2 minutes or until fully combined.

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Nutrition Response Testing and Fertility

Many people who are close to me know that I've been struggling with hormonal issues for the past 15 years. Over the past 5 years I've been working to balance out my hormones so that I could hopefully have children when the time came. I conceived very quickly (1 ovulation cycle!), which was very unexpected. I give a lot of credit to the fact that I've been on a Nutrition Response Testing program for the past 3 1/2 years.

My hormone story is a bit of a saga. I went on birth control when I was in high school because I had such horrible cramps and periods. I would have "episodes" during which I would sweat, faint, go diarrhea and my uterus would literally contract. About a year after going on birth control, when I was a freshman in college, I realized how incredibly depressed I was.  I finally put two and two together and realized that it was the birth control that was messing up my body.

When I went off birth control, I felt better immediately. However, my period didn't come back on its own for several months. Even when it did come back, they were far a few between. A couple years later, I went almost two years straight without menstruating. I would like to add that even though I did go through a period of weight loss, I have never been underweight and my body fat percentage has never been below the normal range.  I saw several doctors and they all suggested the same thing: go back on birth control, get a progesterone shot, etc. I was very unsettled with this answer because I wanted to know why this was happening. Going on birth control was just a band aid and every time I tried a new one that doctors assured I would be fine on, my body and mind would get completely messed up all over again. After about 5 years of this cycle, I finally decided to go off birth control once and for all. I committed to trying whatever I could to heal my body naturally. 

Eventually I found Nutrition Response Testing. At my first appointment, I had actual answers regarding why my body was so out of whack. Contrary to what all those doctors told me, I received confirmation that the birth control did, in fact, cause dysfunction in my body. Within 6 months of starting the program, my period came back after 2 years. It still is not 100% regular, but I know I am getting there.

This is where fertility and my recent conception comes in. Due to having an irregular period, I still worried whether I was fertile or not.   I started to take supplements and herbs to help support reproductive organs and increase fertility, but there was no sign yet of whether or not they were working. When my husband and I started thinking about having a baby, we couldn't really plan or "try" because I had no idea when I ovulated. So we decided to wing it (we hardly even tried). And it worked. In one month. After a year of only having about 4-5 periods in 9 months. If that's not a miracle, then I don't know what is. I truly believe my quick pregnancy was made possible by being on a nutrition program. 

I'm Pregnant!

Ever since I a took Lifecycle Nutrition class about 3 years ago, I've been anxiously looking forward to getting pregnant. At the time I felt like I was crazy, but I found everything about nutrition from pregnancy through early childhood insanely fascinating and couldn't wait to apply it to my own life. I just knew that once I had some "street cred", I'd be able to make a huge impact in the health and wellness world.  

So, my friends, this phase has finally come!  I am 14 weeks pregnant and couldn't be happier. I have to admit, eating healthy is a lot easier said than done during the first trimester. I was constantly sick, had difficulty exercising (let alone getting out of bed) and my diet was basically thrown out the window. It felt like the only thing I could stomach was bagels with cream cheese! Even though it was difficult and frustrating, and the nutritionist in me was cringing regularly, I learned a lot about honoring my body and going with the flow. Let's just say attempting to force feeding myself salads and smoothies did not end well. :)

Thankfully, those days are just about over. I'm now in my second trimester and finally starting feeling good. I'm also starting to eat like my old self, so recipes and nutrition posts will be coming soon. I also plan to share a lot on here about all things pregnancy, birth and life as a new mom. If there are any topics you would like me to write about, please let me know. I am so ecstatic to be going through this journey and am looking forward to sharing it with all of you! 

Pumpkin Protein Oatmeal with Cinnamon Apples

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Pumpkin Protein Oatmeal with Cinnamon Apples

Ingredients for Oatmeal:

1/3 cup rolled oats

2/3 cup water or almond milk

1 Tbs chia seeds

1/4 c pumpkin

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1 Tbs Greek yogurt

Ingredients for Cinnamon Apples:

1 Honeycrisp apple, cut into bite sized chunks

1 Tbs coconut oil

1/4 tsp cinnamon

 

Instructions:

Add rolled oats and liquid into a small pot and bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce heat to low. Add chia seeds, pumpkin and cinnamon and stir. At this point I usually add some more almond milk (it depends on how thick you want it). Let everything cook on low for about 5-7 minutes. When the oatmeal is almost done, stir in the spoonful of yogurt. Add to a bowl and top with apple topping (recipe below). You can also add other toppings such as almond butter, shredded coconut, nuts, etc.

Cinnamon Apple Instructions:

Heat coconut oil in a pan on medium heat. Add chopped apples and cinnamon and stir until everything is coated. Put a lid on the pan and let the apples cook. Stir occasionally. Apples are done when they are soft. It should take about 10 minutes.

Fall Inspired Smoothie

Fall Inspired Smoothie

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Ingredients:

2 handfuls spinach

1/2 baked sweet potato

1/2 frozen banana

1 Tbs almond butter

2 scoops collagen

cinnamon to taste

~1 cup almond milk

Instructions:

Blend all ingredients for 1-2 minutes. Pour into a glass and add toppings of choice (I used Purely Elizabeth Grain Free granola).