wellness

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!

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

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)

Got My Mornings Back

One thing that has had a huge impact on my well-being is having a morning routine. In fact, when I was looking to leave my last job, I jokingly called it "Project Get My Mornings Back."

A little over a year ago, I would wake up at 5, try to squeeze in a half-ass workout for 15 minutes and shove breakfast in my mouth as I was racing to make the train into the city for work (about a 2 hour commute). Everyday started off hectic and rushed. This felt so unnatural to me because I have always been someone who likes to wake up early and truly enjoy the morning. It is the time when I feel most alert and productive. I also love the process of drinking a hot cup of coffee or tea and eating breakfast.

Now, a year and a half later, I am at a job that requires a 7 minute commute. To say I got my mornings back is an understatement. I still wake up early, but I use the extra time I have wisely. I thought I would share my morning routine for anyone who is interested:

During the week, I usually wake up between 6 and 7 after having slept about 8 hours. I try to avoid looking at my phone (even though this is sometimes a struggle!). The first thing I do is meditate. We have an extra bedroom where I set up a little meditation corner with a rug, pillow, salt lamp, crystals and some other trinkets that make me happy. I switch between practicing a mindfulness meditation or an Inner Sanctuary meditation for 15 to 20 minutes. When I am done I write in my journal. I will write two lines or two pages depending on how I am feeling. I always write down three things that I am grateful for and usually a goal or something else that I want and am working towards. I plan to write more about journaling in the future because I think it's life changing :). Next, I do some form of exercise, which is either going for a run or a HIIT workout. After a shower, I make tea and breakfast. Lately, I've been having a lot of smoothies, sweet potatoes and yogurt bowls for breakfast. Sometimes I'll have a bulletproof matcha drink if I'm not that hungry yet. I used to catch up on school work and studying, but now that I'm officially DONE (!!!), that time will probably now be spent researching nutrition and wellness trends and writing. I also make to do lists and write out intentions for my day or week during this time. 

This ALL happens before I go to work in the morning. It has been a serious game-changer when it comes to my peace of mind and well-being. I have always known that I need some type of routine in the morning and I finally made it a reality. It makes me feel more in line, at ease and ready to take on the day.