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There are so many diets and theories and opinions when it comes to health. I've experimented with many of them! As I celebrate another year of life I'm so excited to finally be able to find joy in nourishing my body.

How to Find Joy in Nourishing Your Body

There are so many diets and theories and opinions when it comes to health. I’ve experimented with many of them! As I celebrate another year of life I’m so excited to finally be able to find joy in nourishing my body.There are so many diets and theories and opinions when it comes to health. I've experimented with many of them! As I celebrate another year of life I'm so excited to finally be able to find joy in nourishing my body.

“You have to be healthy to eat healthy.”

It’s something I often say to people frustrated with trying to eat the “right way” but still not feeling great. There are so many diets that promote real food and healing. They all have merit, but that doesn’t mean they work for everyone.

I know this because I’ve tried them (read some of my thoughts HERE). And the only thing I got was severe obsessive compulsive disorder, anxiety, more food intolerances and infertility. But no healing.

The real problem is they all include rules. Specific diets place restrictions on what you can eat and categorize food as good or bad. When a food is deemed bad or forbidden guess what happens? You want it! You are left with this constant decision making between doing the right thing or the wrong thing. And feeling guilty if you choose wrong. Or worse food starts to cause anxiety.There are so many diets and theories and opinions when it comes to health. I've experimented with many of them! As I celebrate another year of life I'm so excited to finally be able to find joy in nourishing my body.

It took me the last twenty years to move past feeling like food is either good or bad. But I did it.  And I love it! It is so freeing to finally enjoy food.

Sound Familiar? There’s help!

Are you hung up on trying to find the right diet for you? Are you wondering if low carb or grain free or high fat is right for you? Does it make you stressed just thinking about it? Here are some simple tips to get past the fear and back to joy.

  1. Start listening to your body.
    Take note of how you feel when you eat certain foods. Keep a food journal for a week or two if need be. If nuts bother your stomach, take a break from them. If you feel better eating more carbohydrates and less fat then go for it. Eat what makes YOU feel good, not what helps your neighbor or your favorite blogger. If you are dealing with an autoimmune disease or allergies that will impact what foods hurt or help.
  2. Get rid of the rules.
    Stop viewing food as good or bad. As long as it’s real food it’s ok. Enjoy a piece of homemade chocolate cake and ice cream. Make a big stack of pancakes with butter and real maple syrup for breakfast. When you restrict foods because you think you shouldn’t eat them (instead of restricting because they actually make you feel bad) they create more stress. Ditch the diet and rigid rules.
  3. Start focusing on nourishment.
    This is where the fun begins. When you let go of unnecessary rules and you’re not constantly debating between eating a salad and digging into a container of ice cream you can focus on really taking care of your body.

Finding Joy

I spent far too many years trying to eat the perfect diet. Only to feel stressed, anxious and deprived. Then I had to go the other direction of eating anything and everything to try to restore metabolic health (you can read about my journey HERE and HERE). All to find a place of balance. Now I find great joy in nourishing my body. Not because a diet tells me to. Because I want to.

I heard someone recently say that happiness is external and joy is internal. Being happy comes from your circumstances, but joy is a state of being that comes from within. And it’s true. Good food does make me happy. But it’s the joy and peace I have inside that motivates me to make healthy choices every day.There are so many diets and theories and opinions when it comes to health. I've experimented with many of them! As I celebrate another year of life I'm so excited to finally be able to find joy in nourishing my body.

Balance is Key

Today eating is like an exciting adventure for me. I try to pack as many nutrients into my food as possible. I add desiccated liver and fermented kale to smoothies and salads. I eat sardines and anchovies a couple times a week. I eat pastured meats and eggs regularly. I aim for a rainbow of vegetables and plenty of healthy fats daily. I drink herbal teas for added minerals and to support my body and get my hormones back in balance. It’s almost like a fun game to see how many vitamins and minerals I can get each day. I feel good and the joy comes pouring out.

But I also enjoy a dish of ice cream when I want it. Sometimes I eat a bowl of mashed avocado and tortilla chips for breakfast (quick and delicious…and it’s easy to add liver to avocado!). I like to bake with my kids and make special sweet treats together (like gluten free Oreos® and salted honey chocolates). It’s even rare that I go a day without at least a little bit of chocolate.There are so many diets and theories and opinions when it comes to health. I've experimented with many of them! As I celebrate another year of life I'm so excited to finally be able to find joy in nourishing my body.

There is no more should or shouldn’t with food. There are no rules. There is no restriction. Which in turn eliminates cravings (imagine that!).

Now I love to fuel my body, and I love how it makes me feel. That does not mean my diet is perfect. Not every single bite of food has to be nutrient packed. And less healthy foods here and there don’t negate all the good stuff I put in my body every day.

Let go of the Guilt

There is no guilt or feeling of reward for eating a certain way. I just truly love to eat nutrient dense food. No rules or special diets. I don’t eat GAPS or Paleo or AIP or low carb or any other specialized diet. I just eat real food that makes me feel good and that I know is helping me take care of my body. One day I might eat grain free while the next I might need some extra starch. And they are both just fine!

It’s very freeing to let go and find joy in nourishment. And it’s the healthiest I’ve ever been!

I am very blessed that I do not have an autoimmune condition or severe allergies. But I do have some sensitivities and health issues I’m still working through. But I try not to let them get me down. I nourish my body as best I can with my limitations and keep striving for full healing.

Eating real food is easy. There are limitless options. Eating real food that meets your needs can be hard. But once you figure out how to do it you’ll love how you feel.There are so many diets and theories and opinions when it comes to health. I've experimented with many of them! As I celebrate another year of life I'm so excited to finally be able to find joy in nourishing my body.

Foods That Nourish

Some of my favorite nutrient dense foods are ferments. They are packed with natural probiotics. What I really love is how easy they are (take a big scoop and enjoy!) and how much my kids like them. My toddler can’t get enough sauerkraut. While we do make our own sometimes, I don’t always have time to pound cabbage.

I recently got the chance to try sauerkraut and fermented pickles from Cultured Guru.There are so many diets and theories and opinions when it comes to health. I've experimented with many of them! As I celebrate another year of life I'm so excited to finally be able to find joy in nourishing my body.

Both the kraut and pickles have just a few simple ingredients and taste amazing! Using traditional fermentation these products are teaming with probiotics. They make great additions to a meal or are the perfect quick snack.

My oldest can’t get enough of the pickles. She has oral SPD and doesn’t tolerate any amount of spice. So even though she likes pickles it’s rare we can find any she’ll eat. But she loves the Cultured Guru pickles! She loves the sauerkraut too. Another rarity for her.

If you want to try some Cultured Guru ferments you’re in luck! You can get 25% off off using coupon code PROBIO.

I’ll be stocking up too. My kids and I can’t get enough!! Such a blessing when working on healing allergies!There are so many diets and theories and opinions when it comes to health. I've experimented with many of them! As I celebrate another year of life I'm so excited to finally be able to find joy in nourishing my body.

Super Charged Bites

Another super food that tops my list is a traditional staple – organ meats. I get mine by adding Perfect Supplements desiccated liver to just about everything. I even make caramel with it! I also love the fermented kale, collagen and aquatic greens from Perfect Supplements. I add them to most of our smoothies.

You can get 10% off any of these Perfect Supplements products with the coupon code TAKE10.

Some of my other favorite foods include sardines, salmon, eggs, raw milk, butter, lard, tallow, pastured meats and a rainbow of vegetables. They all make my body smile.

You have to be healthy to eat healthy.

I’m so excited to finally be healthy so I can enjoy eating well and nourishing my body every day.

Are you ready to let go of rules and enjoy eating again? Ditch the diets and find joy in nourishing your body.

Today is my birthday, and I’m starting it with pure joy. Joy that I’m taking care of myself and this beautiful body God gave me.

Want to see what I eat for my #nourishingbreakfast #nourishinglunch and #nourishingdinner? Follow me on Instagram! It may inspire you…or it might gross you out. In my husband’s words, “You eat that for breakfast?!”There are so many diets and theories and opinions when it comes to health. I've experimented with many of them! As I celebrate another year of life I'm so excited to finally be able to find joy in nourishing my body.

Disclaimer: I am working with Cultured Guru for this post. I have been compensated for my time but all opinions are my own.

In order for me to support my blogging activities, I may receive monetary compensation or other types of remuneration for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any products or services from this blog. It will not change the cost of any products or services for you.

When it comes to our food, quality matters! That's why I support B Corp certified products like Stonyfield Yogurt and many more.

What Grade Would You Give Your Food? I give mine a B!

When it comes to our food, quality matters! That’s why I support B Corp certified products like Stonyfield Yogurt and many more.

When it comes to our food, quality matters! That's why I support B Corp certified products like Stonyfield Yogurt and many more.

I like to be a good steward with my finances. I look for the best deals when I shop for food and health and beauty products. But that’s not the only factor to consider.

Quality Matters

I could buy a grocery cart full of really cheap food…and pay for it with my health. Instead I look for the best quality that fits within my budget.

My decisions about what to feed my family and what to use on our bodies and in our home are not just about organic vs. non-organic. They go deeper. I love to support companies that are using their business as a force for good. That means they are having a positive impact socially and environmentally.

If you’re like me you don’t have time to research every company to see how they do business.When it comes to our food, quality matters! That's why I support B Corp certified products like Stonyfield Yogurt and many more.

Do They Make the Grade?

That’s why it’s so nice to have the B Corp certification. You can simply look at the product package to see if you are supporting a quality company.When it comes to our food, quality matters! That's why I support B Corp certified products like Stonyfield Yogurt and many more.

Certified B Corps meet the highest standards of verified social and environmental performance, public transparency, and legal accountability.

Who’s in this great group? There are many B Corp certified companies (you can find a list here). I recently got the chance to try a few. They include:

  • Stonyfield Yogurt (we LOVE their whole milk grass-fed yogurt)
  • Pukka (tulsi tea is great for women)
  • Preserve (all of my kids wanted this toothbrush…but I told them mama gets it)
  • Purely Elizabeth (granola is one of my absolute favorite foods…this one is amazing)
  • King Arthur (as an avid gluten free baker this gluten free blend comes in handy)
  • Method (the kitchen is where I spend most of my day…which means my kids do too…and we have plenty of opportunties to wash hands!)
  • Pete and Gerry’s (I could eat eggs every single day. They are a nutrient powerhouse. But for me quality is so important when it comes to eggs since we use a lot of raw yolks.)

When it comes to our food, quality matters! That's why I support B Corp certified products like Stonyfield Yogurt and many more.
I’ve been a fan of Stonyfield for many years (and my kids sure love trying all their products!! They fought over our yogurt). I love knowing we are getting organic dairy.

Some of these companies are new to me. It’s always fun to be introduced to new companies and products that are high quality and making the world a better place.When it comes to our food, quality matters! That's why I support B Corp certified products like Stonyfield Yogurt and many more.

My Favorite

Of all the products my favorite was the Pukka tulsi tea. I’m working hard right now to balance my hormones and supercharge my diet to replenish nutrients after breastfeeding for 2 1/2 years (!!). Just days before receiving this package a friend suggested trying tulsi tea. You can imagine my great delight to find some on my doorstep!!

I’ve been combining the Pukka tulsi tea with a few other herbs like hibiscus, red raspberry leaf and nettles to really give myself a boost and support my hormones. This tea gets both an A+ and a B from me!When it comes to our food, quality matters! That's why I support B Corp certified products like Stonyfield Yogurt and many more.

Are you using your dollars to support companies that meet a high standard in addition to delivering quality food? It is important not only for our bodies but also for our children’s futures.

The next time you go shopping make sure your food makes the grade. Make sure it scores a B!

Want to learn more? Find out about B Corp certification here.When it comes to our food, quality matters! That's why I support B Corp certified products like Stonyfield Yogurt and many more.

I am working with Stonyfield Yogurt for this post. I have been compensated for my time but all opinions are my own.

In order for me to support my blogging activities, I may receive monetary compensation or other types of remuneration for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any products or services from this blog. It will not change the cost of any products or services for you.

Food reactions are common and sometimes hard to pinpoint. Allergy testing can be helpful. But what happens if you get a negative allergy test? Does it put you in the clear?

Does a Negative Allergy Test Put You In The Clear?

Food reactions are common and sometimes hard to pinpoint. Allergy testing can be helpful. But what happens if you get a negative allergy test? Does it put you in the clear?

Food reactions are common and sometimes hard to pinpoint. Allergy testing can be helpful. But what happens if you get a negative allergy test? Does it put you in the clear?

Allergy tests are great for pinpointing food reactions. All three of my kids have had multiple rounds of testing done.

Sometimes the test confirms a suspicion I have about a trigger food. Sometimes it helps me figure out a random allergy that I never would have guessed.

Not Always Accurate

But allergy tests are not 100% accurate. An IgE skin prick allergy test only checks for a reaction to the protein in the food. You could have a strong reaction to the sugar in a food (lactose intolerance is a great example) and test negative for an allergy.

An IgE blood test is even less accurate. It checks for antibodies in the blood to a specific food. It can help confirm a diagnosis after a skin prick test is positive. But it is not a very good diagnostic alone.

Food Sensitivities

IgG blood tests are a bit controversial. Some say they are great for detecting food “sensitivities”…actually called latent allergies. Others say this test can give different results every time. You could draw blood three times in the same day and get varying results.

I have done an IgG blood test for myself before. I had mixed feelings about its accuracy. So I’ve never done it for my kids.

All this to say that allergy tests absolutely have their place. And they are quite helpful for diagnosing allergies that range anywhere from mild to severe and life-threatening.

But just because an allergy test is negative does not mean you can throw caution to the wind and eat whatever you want.

My Son

My son has been dealing with various degrees of allergies for many years. It started from birth with some reflux. Then at age two he developed bad eczema on his legs. Thus started our journey with allergy testing and food elimination.

Every time he is tested a slew of foods shows up. We cut them out, work on healing for a while and retest. 

But every time this has happened things have gotten a little more challenging. For example, rice showed up on his first allergy test. We cut it out. Six months later when he was retested the rice allergy was gone. Yet three years later he still can not eat rice without noticeable reactions.

Making Progress

In spite of some foods still causing problems we were making progress narrowing his list of reactive foods. Then in early 2016 after the onset of stomach aches and an inability to eat much he was retested.

To our shock he had a back full of welts. We were given a prescription for an epi-pen. And he was diagnosed with potentially anaphylactic allergies to nuts, dairy and a few other foods.

Wait, what happened over the last year that made his allergies go from mild and healing to life threatening??

Even though we didn’t have an answer to that question we moved forward, removing the necessary foods, always carrying an epi-pen, doing our best to keep him safe.

Food reactions are common and sometimes hard to pinpoint. Allergy testing can be helpful. But what happens if you get a negative allergy test? Does it put you in the clear?

Not Fixxed

He had some reprieve for a bit. We were so happy to see him get an appetite back and really start growing.

But before too long he started having a lot of stomach aches again. Gradually they started to become more frequent. They prevented him from sleeping. They stopped him from eating well.

More Testing

It was back to the drawing board. We started by going to the pediatrician. We did a CBC and metabolic panel. We did urine and stool tests. All normal.

So it was back to the allergist for another round of testing, fearing another laundry list of foods to avoid.

And we got a huge shock!

Every single skin prick was negative. Not even a tiny bit of reaction. So we did the blood test. Again, all negative.

Nuts, dairy, wheat…everything…negative.

Food reactions are common and sometimes hard to pinpoint. Allergy testing can be helpful. But what happens if you get a negative allergy test? Does it put you in the clear?

Although it was good news I was more confused than ever! The allergist (a new one) said his old test was likely inaccurate because foods were tested at the same time as airborne/environmental allergies.

Now what?

Do I just throw out his allergy list and let him eat whatever he wants? Do I trust the tests?

My husband and I both see glaring evidence of food reactions.

Digging Deeper

Well, I did what I do best. I observed, experimented and researched.

The thing is food reactions are a sign of a deeper issue.

Just because an allergy test is negative does NOT mean you can eat a particular food.

This is something I am very passionate about and believe so many parents could benefit from.

Behavior, digestion, skin, emotions…they are all impacted by the food you eat. Even healthy, nourishing food can create a negative reaction.

Case in point – my whole family (you can read more about it in my book Why Won’t My Child Eat?!).

Experimenting

We gradually let my son try a few foods he’d been avoiding. His stomach aches increased in frequency. His mood declined. He started wetting the bed. He developed bad breath.

Then we let him try some goat’s milk. Wow.

The result was horrific meltdowns, almost as if he was a psychiatric patient. Anything and everything caused him to scream, cry, hit himself and berate himself. It’s a parent’s nightmare.

No amount of comforting him and trying to talk through his feelings helped. If his big sister wouldn’t play with him – meltdown. If I told him I was reading a book his little sister picked out before the book he picked out – meltdown. If he wasn’t crazy about some of the food on his plate – meltdown.

This list could go on and on.

After some charcoal and a few days off of dairy he returned to a more stable state.

Sadly it’s not just dairy that does this to him. There are quite a few foods, all with varying degrees of reactions.

I could also go through our entire family listing foods and reactions. Yet we all test negative for food allergies.

So now what?

What do you do if allergy tests are negative but food reactions are present?

You get help from others who have been there. You find doctors and practitioners who are willing to dig deeper and find a cure instead of simply avoiding certain foods.

Why Won't My Child Eat?!

Healthy Kids

In my book I teach you how to observe your child and not just accept the poor behavior. Find a root cause and fix it. Say goodbye to picky eating and temper tantrums.

Beyond Allergy Testing

If allergy testing isn’t giving you answers, here are some other conditions to consider.

  1. Overall gut dysfunction/leaky gut.
  2. Parasites – they are more common than you think. They tend to really act up around a full moon, so if your child is worse during that time it is something to consider.
  3. Slow metabolism.
  4. Thyroid disorders.
  5. Lack of sleep
  6. Mineral imbalance/nutritional deficiency

And here are some potential treatments.

  1. GAPS diet (Gut And Psychology Syndrome)
  2. Parasite cleanse
  3. Probiotics
  4. Digestive Enzymes
  5. Hair Tissue Mineral Analysis

 

You can also treat food reactions from a more neurological and physical perspective. This includes:

  1. Functional neurology
  2. Chiropractic care
  3. Craniosacral therapy
  4. Osteopathic manipulation therapy
  5. Energy healing
  6. Muscle response testing

Baby Steps

I don’t have all of the answers for you. We are still in the trenches with my son’s reactions, trying to find the correct path forward. 

I know we will keep digging until we find the problem and the solution. We will restore my son to full health. We will find health for our whole family!

A negative allergy test does not give you free reign on food.

You have to dig a little deeper. It’s more work, but so worth it! In the end you will be able to eat more of the nutritious food your body needs.

Have you or your children been tested for allergies? Was it helpful or confusing?

In order for me to support my blogging activities, I may receive monetary compensation or other types of remuneration for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any products or services from this blog. It will not change the cost of any products or services for you.

It's not always easy or cheap to lead a natural lifestyle. Sometimes we still reach for convenience foods...but of higher quality. But just what is the natural flavor in your "natural" foods?

The Secret Ingredient Hiding In Your Natural Food: What Is Natural Flavor?

It’s not always easy or cheap to lead a natural lifestyle. Sometimes we still reach for convenience foods…but of higher quality. But just what is the natural flavor in your “natural” foods?

It's not always easy or cheap to lead a natural lifestyle. Sometimes we still reach for convenience foods...but of higher quality. But just what is the natural flavor in your "natural" foods?

It’s been over three years now since we cut out food coloring/food dyes from our kids’ diet. As in absolutely none. No exceptions. Artificial flavor is limited to a few times a year in a treat of vanilla ice cream.

It has made a big difference in how my children feel and behave. It is literally like a drug for my oldest. Sometimes it makes her insane. Sometimes it makes her super mellow. Either way, it’s impacting her brain and is not good.

Of course cutting out artificial ingredients naturally lends itself to a healthier, more natural lifestyle. Who doesn’t love that?!

Instead of artificially flavored fruit snacks you buy organic gummies. Instead of Trix yogurt with food dyes you get organic yogurt. Instead of traditional candy you buy organic suckers made with fruit. Sounds great!

Not Enough

That was us…for a while. Until I noticed my daughter was exhibiting the same behavior as when she ate the foods with artificial colors and flavors.

Being the investigator that I am I read labels, I observed her, I kept a food journal. She had already been gluten free for a long time.

The one thing that I came up with was the ingredient common to all of these “natural” foods…

Natural Flavor

Since then I’ve been doing more research. Both experimenting with diet and reading any information I can find. I really want to know…what is natural flavor??

Not surprisingly I came across article after article that said natural flavor is basically the same thing as artificial flavor. The only real difference is the ingredient(s) it starts with. Natural flavor starts with real food. But it still undergoes various chemical processes which result in a product not much different than its artificial counterpart.

The Technical Term

According to the Code of Federal Regulations, “The term natural flavor or natural flavoring means the essential oil, oleoresin, essence or extractive, protein hydrolysate, distillate, or any product of roasting, heating or enzymolysis, which contains the flavoring constituents derived from a spice, fruit or fruit juice, vegetable or vegetable juice, edible yeast, herb, bark, bud, root, leaf or similar plant material, meat, seafood, poultry, eggs, dairy products, or fermentation products thereof, whose significant function in food is flavoring rather than nutritional. Natural flavors, include the natural essence or extractives obtained from plants.”

Per dictionary.com enzymolysis is: “Chemical change or cleavage of a substance by enzymatic action.

So, natural flavor can come from a chemical change of bark and it’s still within the guidelines. Interesting.

It's not always easy or cheap to lead a natural lifestyle. Sometimes we still reach for convenience foods...but of higher quality. But just what is the natural flavor in your "natural" foods?

What Others Are Saying

According to dailyburn.com:

“Natural flavors are coming from natural sources — the original ingredient is found in nature and then purified and extracted and added back into the food.

But, that doesn’t necessarily mean the “natural flavors” in your blueberry granola bar are simply…crushed-up blueberries. Rather, they probably consist of a chemical originally found in blueberries, enhanced and added into your food in a lab.”

“Added flavoring, both natural and artificial, could contain anywhere from 50 to 100 ingredients. And all of the extra ingredients in flavors often aren’t as innocent as you’d hope they would be. The mixture will often have some solvent and preservatives — and that makes up 80 to 90 percent of the volume [of the flavoring]. In the end product, it’s a small amount, but it still has artificial ingredients.”

NaturalNews.com states:

“Regulations for the word “natural” only apply to flavors; anywhere else you find it on food packaging means absolutely nothing regarding quality. Secondly, the FDA definition of “natural flavors” and “natural flavoring” allows for the substance to be extracted from plant or animal “matter.” So when you buy something that’s organic, vegetarian, or vegan, and it has “natural flavoring,” you could be eating a pig, cow, turkey, chicken, or lamb which was shot up with growth hormones, fed GMO pesticide-laden corn and grain – probably mixed with other animals of it’s same breed, then shot up with antibiotics due to infections and diseases from living in confined quarters on slats covered in feces.

Monosodium Glutamate is a neurotoxin that can be legally hidden from you and/or be labeled “natural flavors” in the ingredients list. MSG is not a natural flavor – in fact, it can cause brain lesions, neuro-endocrine disorders, and neurodegenerative disease in humans, but you won’t hear any doctors of Western Medicine mentioning that at your next extreme migraine emergency visit. There are more than 25 names for MSG, so sometimes you find it spread out a little, just in case the manufacturer gets “checked out” by anyone other than the FDA.”

Foodbabe.com says:

“With the words “natural flavor” food chemists and companies can put whatever they want in your food that is “generally regarded as safe” including excitotoxins. Natural flavor can legally contain natural occurring “glutamate” bi-products like MSG – which are known excitotoxins. These excitotoxins are some of the chemicals that cause your taste buds to experience irresistibility when it comes to food. Excitotoxins overexcite your cells literally until they die or are damaged causing “injury” and “incapacitating” you with disease. When consumed over time, excitotoxins can cause nerve disorders resulting a myriad of diseases from stroke to Alzheimer’s to Parkinson’s. And lots of other side effects too – like obesity, migraines, fatigue and depression.”

Remember what I said about “natural flavor” acting like a brain-altering drug for my kids? It’s not so far fetched when you really do some searching. My observations were spot on.

Straight From The Source

None of it sounds very appealing and certainly doesn’t put my mind at ease.

But I know you can’t trust everything you read. So I set out to do my own investigation.

I called some popular organic food companies and some conventional food companies to ask them about the ingredients in their food (I’ll be kind and won’t name names). Sadly most of them had no answer for me.

I told them I was a mom of kids with tons of allergies. I need to know a full ingredient list or I can’t give it to my kids. Simply avoiding the top eight allergens does not cut it.

These are the responses I got:

“Natural flavor is listed so we can keep the full ingredient list from our competitors. The natural flavor in X product contains apple, corn, black raspberry, cherry, cranberry, lemon, lime and strawberry. I don’t know how it’s processed, but it does contain those ingredients.”

“The natural flavor is outsourced. The ingredients for each flavor can change by the season so we can’t tell you what’s in it. It is made from fruits, vegetables and/or spices. And they can’t be modified. There are no major allergens.”

“The natural flavor comes from a natural source. I don’t have a specific list of ingredients.”

“It is a proprietary formula that I can’t tell you. It is an all natural food or something.”

“The Natural Flavors in our products will follow our same Brand Promise to be Gluten-Free and Free-From the top defined food allergens. We have only aligned ourselves with business partners and ingredient suppliers that can adhere to our strict allergen requirements.”

One website directly stated:

“All our Natural Flavors in our certified organic product are Organic Compliant Natural Flavors and conform to the regulations of both the FDA and the very strict National Organic Plan (NOP) by the USDA.These natural flavors do not contain anything we would not be proud to put in our family’s mouths.  

Please note that we consider our Natural Flavors to be secret recipes so we do not reveal the contents of our Natural Flavors.  We are aware that some people may not be able to eat some of our flavors because we are unable to reveal the secret recipe and we are truly sorry for this inconvenience.”

Digging Even Deeper

Since I was getting nowhere with the food manufacturers I tried contacting some natural flavor manufacturers directly.

No surprise…I couldn’t get any response from them!

I Need To Know

As a mom of kids with allergies it concerns me greatly that I am not allowed to know what is in just about every packaged food. Even simple foods like canned tomatoes and salsa. It also concerns me that these “natural flavors” are so common that nobody questions them.

The word natural has no real standard. It can mean just about anything. Don’t let it fool you too. If you are conscious of avoiding artificial flavors and colors, you might want to add natural flavor your list.

If it is so “natural” why don’t you just tell us what it is??

Now what?

Don’t feel discouraged! You can still live a natural lifestyle. And it does NOT have to be complicated or involve convenience foods with suspicious ingredients.

You can learn to replace store-bought products with DIY options that actually work (like homemade fruit snacks and granola bars) and are easy to make. You feel better (and even look better, too). Healthy living becomes less stressful and more enjoyable.

Our family has felt so much better by making changes to the way we eat, the products we use, and how we take care of ourselves. It’s made all the difference in the world and I want the same for you.

The use of natural flavor has been my biggest “natural food” complaint for many years. It really has no place in our food. And food companies that make quality, whole foods should be more than happy to tell consumers exactly what ingredients they use.

 

Skip the “natural flavor” that is a mystery ingredient. Keep your family well nourished and feeling their best.

In order for me to support my blogging activities, I may receive monetary compensation or other types of remuneration for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any products or services from this blog. It will not change the cost of any products or services for you.

Why I Secretly Love Our Food Allergies | Just Take A Bite

Why I Secretly Love Our Food Allergies

Just hearing the term food allergies stirs up negative thoughts. But did you know they are not all bad? In fact, I kind of like them.

Why I Secretly Love Our Food Allergies | Just Take A Bite

I’m not gonna lie. Having (multiple) kids with (different and even severe) food allergies is not easy. In fact, many days it is down right hard.

I can’t cook one meal for the whole family. I can’t just order pizza when I’m sick and have no energy to cook. At the moment I can’t even eat at a restaurant. If you have a child with food allergies I’m sure you know the list of “can’t” could go on and on.

But…

I secretly love our food allergies.

Yes, you heard that right. I love them.

There really are some hidden blessings when it comes to food allergies. And although I do hope for full healing for my children some day. There is a part of me (maybe the part that wants to have control!) that hopes it doesn’t happen too soon.

Even in light of my son’s severe nut and dairy allergy diagnosis last week I still have some good things to say.

I’m letting you in on my seven little secrets about the blessings of food allergies. After reading them you may want to go get your child tested. An allergy diagnosis can have its perks. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Why I Secretly Love Our Food Allergies | Just Take A Bite

  1. Easily say no to junk food.

Allergies make food choices for you, often for the better. My son is allergic to corn (probably my favorite allergy!). That means NOTHING with high fructose corn syrup or cornstarch. Saying no to junk food is a no brainer there.

Does your child have a wheat allergy? It’s easy to pass on the Goldfish® the other kids are eating.

Of course there are alternatives these days. And there is plenty of junk food that is egg free, dairy free, gluten free, etc. But it is much easier to pass on the junk when you are avoiding allergens.

Want to hear my other six benefits of food allergies?

Head over to Kitchen Stewardship where I’m sharing the bright side of allergies.

In order for me to support my blogging activities, I may receive monetary compensation or other types of remuneration for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any products or services from this blog. It will not change the cost of any products or services for you.

A Simple Cure For Picky Eaters | Just Take A Bite

A Simple Cure For Picky Eaters

Sometimes picky eating is a much deeper problem than it seems. But sometimes it’s not. Here is a simple cure for picky eaters…that aren’t really that picky.

A Simple Cure For Picky Eaters | Just Take A Bite

I wouldn’t call any of my kids picky eaters.

Wait a minute. Isn’t this whole site devoted to feeding children that struggle with eating? Yep! And I learned it all from my kids.

But none of them is picky.

To me a picky eater is a child that is truly just wanting to have some control and make his own decisions about his food.

A picky eater is not a child whose diet is limited to noodles and crackers. That is a much deeper problem related to the child’s health (be on the lookout for my book on how to deal with that soon!!)

My kids all have other root causes for their eating issues. When they are feeling good they are all wonderful eaters.

Today I’m talking about the kind of picky eating that is more a battle of wills than taste buds.

If your child is a picky eater there is a simple cure. Teach your child to cook!

I can’t tell you how many times my kids have practically inhaled a meal because they helped prepare it. They feel such a sense of accomplishment.

Great idea! But how exactly do I teach my kids to cook?

Katie at Kitchen Stewardship has put together an amazing course for both parents and children to teach kids of all ages to cook.

My kids and I have been previewing the course over the last couple months. Not only are my kids absolutely loving it and learning a lot, I’m learning too!

I’m learning basic skills I was never taught as a child. I’m learning how to teach my children and how to work with them in the kitchen.

So far my kids’ favorite part has been using knives (of course). You can preview the knife skills for free right now.

But there is SO much more to learn. My four year old is already starting to crack eggs. My seven year old is very anxious to try making a detailed recipe on her own. She actually made today’s breakfast (she even planned it) of strawberry parfaits.

Kids Cook Real Food is a way to get the whole family on board with healthier eating and put that picky eating to rest. Who knows, you may have a budding chef on your hands!

The course is open for enrollment this week.

Check out the free videos and get ready to end the picky eating by teaching your child to cook. It is a skill that will benefit both you and your kids for life.

Does your child have strong opinions about what she will or won’t eat?

A Simple Cure For Picky Eaters | Just Take A Bite

There really is a simple cure for picky eaters. Get them in the kitchen! If that doesn’t work. Come back and see me when my book is ready and we’ll talk more!

In order for me to support my blogging activities, I may receive monetary compensation or other types of remuneration for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any products or services from this blog. It will not change the cost of any products or services for you.

In order for me to support my blogging activities, I may receive monetary compensation or other types of remuneration for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any products or services from this blog. It will not change the cost of any products or services for you.

It’s Just Food – Taking the Emotions out of Eating

It's Just Food || Homemade Dutch Apple PieIf you’ve been a reader here very long you know that I’ve tried just about every “diet” possible.  I went from the Standard American Diet (SAD) to real food.  I’ve been low fat, high fat, low carb, high carb, grain free, gluten free, nut free, dairy free, egg free…just about everything you can think of.

It took a lot of trial and error, but I finally realized that I don’t have to follow any prescribed diets.  I need to eat in a way that keeps my body nourished and makes me feel good.  What that entails is a little different for everyone.

I am still a firm believer in eating a real food diet with lots of traditional foods.  We also have food allergies in our house that we have to take into account.  Those two factors combined give us a guide for how we eat.

Going on this long journey of figuring out how to eat created quite an obsession with food.  There  have been times that I couldn’t think about much else.  I would get so stressed about choosing the “right” food that it didn’t even matter what I was actually eating because the anxiety outweighed any benefits of whatever I chose.

I used to hate eating with other people because I felt so isolated by food restrictions.

Now I have to watch my kids say no to things a lot.  When they are offered some sort of “treat” it is tough to say no.  It’s hard to feel different or left out.  I get anxiety trying to make the right choices for my kids and know when to stick to my “rules” and when to just let it go.

There is a lot of emotion tied to eating, especially when it comes to community and events.

What is the first thing that comes to mind when you think about going to a baseball game?  Eating a hot dog.

What is a fun summer treat?  Ice cream from an ice cream stand or the ice cream truck.

Now with fall activities in full swing kids are bombarded with offers of treats and snacks wherever they go.

For some people it’s hard to enjoy events without the traditional food involved.  It tugs at your emotions.  You have fond memories of doing these things as a child.  It’s part of the experience.

I’ve been there.  I’ve felt it.  I feel it every time my child gets invited to a birthday party or we go to someone’s house or we go to an event.  But I have finally come to a place where I realize one thing:

It’s Just Food.

That’s all.  Food.

Now I choose to focus my attention on the experience and relationships.It's Just Food || Homemade Dutch Apple Pie

We have to bring food with us no matter where we go.  But I have yet to see my kids go hungry or feel like they were unhappy or dissatisfied after eating.  I love to see the contentment on their faces as they enjoy whatever they are given and run off to have fun without putting any thought into it.

When my family goes to a baseball game we either eat before we go or I bring most of our food.  Do my kids care?  Not at all.  They simply want to have fun at the game.  They don’t care if their hot dog came from home or from the concession stand.  To be honest they don’t even care about eating much at all.  They are fascinated by what’s going on around them.  It’s harder for Mom and Dad to separate the experience from the food.

When my daughter goes to dance class she doesn’t need a sucker at the end to feel like she did a good job or to make her enjoyment of dance any different.  It’s not about the food.

So, how do you get to this point?  Here are a few tips:

  1. Take the emotions out.
  2. Relax – look at the big picture if  you are feeling stressed about a situation and remember it’s just food.  You probably won’t remember if you got to eat a piece of cake at a party.  But you will remember how much fun you had with your family or friends.
  3. Make new memories that don’t revolve around food.  If you go to an amusement park, focus on the rides and excitement.  If you go to a sporting event, focus on the game and the atmosphere.  If you are going to church or school, focus on what you are learning and building friendships.
  4. Keep it simple – enjoying an apple at the zoo is just as good as having an ice cream cone.  Food doesn’t have to be complicated.
  5. Set a good example for your children – if you don’t make a big deal about food, eating differently or restrictions your kids won’t think much of it either.

Food does not have to be the center of everything.  Instead focus on what really matters.  Take the stress out of eating.  Simply eat what works for you, be thankful for it and enjoy it.

It does take work and thought to eat well.  But beyond that remember that it’s just food.  Relax.  Enjoy what works for you.  And enjoy life.

In order for me to support my blogging activities, I may receive monetary compensation or other types of remuneration for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any products or services from this blog. It will not change the cost of any products or services for you.

Our Restaurant of Choice

Last night we ate at the best restaurant in town…Rebecca’s Restaurant.  Or as she named it Rebecca’s Rainbow.

Rebecca is becoming quite the little chef/baker/creator in the kitchen.  She likes to come up with her once a week menu.

But this week we did something different.  Justin had to go out to eat for a work dinner.  I kind of jokingly said that I should take the kids out to eat if he was going to be gone.  Rebecca thought I was serious…and started to cry when I told her we weren’t really going out.  Me plus my two kids without my husband’s help at a restaurant?  No thanks 😛

I know what Rebecca likes to eat at restaurants.  And I know we can make much better versions at home.  So I thought…why not have a restaurant at home?  So we did!

I told Rebecca she could make the placemats and the menu.  We could eat at our breakfast nook…it’s just like a booth at a restaurant.  She could order whatever she wants, and I’ll be the cook.

We had a blast!!  Early in the day we made the placemats and menu.  She decorated my placemat.  I made one for her with games, etc. on it (like a kid’s menu at a restaurant).  Then I wrote out the menu and she drew pictures of all of the food.

 

About 45 minutes before dinner we set the table with our placemats, silverware and water.  Rebecca got some crayons to work on her placemat.  And I took our orders.  Even Abram joined in the fun coloring in his high chair.

Rebecca ordered grilled cheese, peas, olives and a butterscotch milkshake.  No big surprises there 🙂  Abram and I had the same thing.  We all enjoyed our meal.  And I don’t know if I’ve ever seen Rebecca eat that quickly.  She even asked for seconds!

I think the milkshake was the biggest hit.  Abram kept asking for more…”cup, cup, cup!”

We made our menu pretty extensive so that we can use it any time we want to visit Rebecca’s Rainbow.  I think next time we go it’ll be a pizza parlor.  And I suppose we’ll let Justin join us 😉  We can add daily specials if we want to add to the menu or even make a full breakfast menu.  Or maybe just go out for dessert some time.

This was so much fun.  Rebecca got to pick out her favorite restaurant food…but I knew it was healthy since I was making it.  And Rebecca got to help with everything.  So she liked it even better than going to a real restaurant.

We rarely go out to eat.  I have so many food restrictions that it’s hard to find something I can eat.  Abram only sits in a high chair for about 5 minutes before he starts screaming.  And Rebecca is too distracted in a restaurant to actually eat.

Now we can go out any time we want!  The next time your kids want to go out to eat try making a restaurant at home.  It can be fun for the whole family.  Older kids can take orders and help cook.  Even little ones can help make decorations.  Going “out” for dinner just got a lot healthier, a lot cheaper and a lot more fun.

This post is linked to Fat Tuesday, Real Food Wednesday, Fight Back Friday and Fresh Bites Friday.

In order for me to support my blogging activities, I may receive monetary compensation or other types of remuneration for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any products or services from this blog. It will not change the cost of any products or services for you.

Cereal…Why It’s Not As Healthy As You Think…Actually Not Healthy At All

Time to kick off my healthy lifestyle series.  I’ll start with something near and dear to me…my beloved cereal 😛  I used to be the cereal queen.  I ate it EVERY day for breakfast for years.  From college to just a few months ago I’d say there were only a few days I didn’t have cereal for breakfast.  And that was either on vacation (and even then I usually had cereal) or if I was too sick.  In addition to my daily breakfast I snacked on it pretty much every day.  I thought, like most people, that cereal was healthy.  Low fat.  Lots of vitamins.  High fiber (the kind I ate was).  But sadly that is not the case.

Cereal is quite unhealthy for multiple reasons.

*The obvious is that some cereals are full of sugar.  Especially white processed sugar…which is like an anti-nutrient for your body.

*Then there is the white flour.  Again, very processed and hard on your body.

*Most cereals are full of artifical ingredients…colors, sweeteners, flavorings, etc.  Anything artifical is foreign to your body and hard to digest…putting more strain on your system.

*All big brand cereals contain GMOs (genetically modified organisms).  Another unnatural ingredient that we don’t know the full effects of.  GM foods have not been proven safe to eat.  They increase the use of pesticides.  I personally choose to avoid them at all costs.  I want to know exactly what I’m eating…not some mutated, altered food with hidden ingredients.  Corn is one of the  most widely used GM food.  And it’s in just about every cereal.  For example, take a look at the ingredients in a box of Kix (supposedly a great cereal for kids)…whole grain corn, corn meal, sugar, corn bran, salt, brown sugar syrup, trisodium phosphate, vitamin E (and some other added vitamins).  It’s all GM corn and processed sugar.  How is that good for a growing child?

*Most cereals are fortified with vitamins and minerals.  Sounds healthy.  But in reality they are synthetic versions that your body can’t really absorb.  So they don’t do you much good.  Maybe some harm actually.

*Finally, cereal (even the organic “healthy” kind) is toxic.  Here is some great information from The Healthy Home Economist:

“To make boxed breakfast cereal in the factory, the grains first have to be subjected to such intense pressure and heat that they actually liquify into a slurry. This slurry allows the grains to be quickly and easily shaped into the puffs, flakes, and other shapes that make each cereal distinct. The manufacturing process used to make boxed cereal is called “extrusion” and it is so violent and denaturing that the proteins in the grains are actually rendered toxic by the process. This is why organic boxed breakfast cereal is more toxic than nonorganic – because organic boxed cereal is whole grain and thereby has more protein in it! The more protein, the more toxic the boxed cereal.”

It saddens me that something so bad for you is marketed as being so healthy…and that so many people (myself included for a long time) buy into it.  When in reality it can make you sick and is very hard on your body.  It especially saddens me that I ate Fiber One (mixed with various other cereals) almost every single day of my pregnancy with Rebecca.  Artifical sweeteners, fake fiber, syntheic vitamins, GMOs, toxic substances.  I hope it did not harm her development.  I don’t like that cereal is one of the first things most people feed their children…baby cereal, Cheerios, etc.  I’ll definitely be taking a different route with any future children.  I don’t know for sure, but I’m guessing all of that cereal had an impact on my digestive issues and my infertility.  I wish I would have known sooner how bad it was.

I am happy to say I have not eaten cereal for breakfast for a couple months now.  It feels good to be cereal free 🙂  My whole body is thanking me.  And I’m glad to start my daughter off on a good path eating real food for breakfast from an early age.

It’s tough to make the switch if you’re a die-hard cereal fan like I was.  It’s convenient.  It tastes good.  But it’s worth it to stop eating it.  Honestly, now I think most cereal tastes like fake cardboard.  It grosses me out.  The skim milk I used to pour on my cereal does too 😛  There are so many other healthy things to eat for breakfast.  Here are some of our favorite quick breakfasts.  You can make them ahead of time or prep things ahead so breakfast only takes minutes to prepare in the morning.

chewy granola bars
crunchy granola bars
homemade granola
grain free granola
giant breakfast cookies
soaked coffee cake
oatmeal muffins
blueberry muffins
strawberry bread
fresh fruit w/ cream cheese dip
kefir smoothie

Scrambled, fried or hard boiled eggs are always good too.

Enjoy a healthy breakfast every day…that does not include boxed cereal 🙂

In order for me to support my blogging activities, I may receive monetary compensation or other types of remuneration for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any products or services from this blog. It will not change the cost of any products or services for you.

West MI Co-op

I recently discovered that we have a co-op in West Michigan!  It sounds like a great way to get quality food and support local businesses/farms.  I just signed up for a free 2 month trial.  We’ll see how it goes.  You order food online at the beginning of the month and then pick up your order towards the end of the month.  I’m excited to see what we can get!

West MI Co-op

In order for me to support my blogging activities, I may receive monetary compensation or other types of remuneration for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any products or services from this blog. It will not change the cost of any products or services for you.