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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.

Molasses Tonic | Just Take A Bite

Molasses Tonic

In need of a warm drink that not only tastes good but is packed with essential minerals? Molasses tonic is the perfect warm up and pick-me-up drink for cold weather.

Molasses Tonic | Just Take A Bite

I like warm drinks. Do you?

Even on the hottest summer days I still start the day with a warm drink. It has a calming effect on my mind and body. In fact I’m sipping on one right now while I write this post!

I’ve never been a coffee drinker. I usually go for tea.

But these days I pretty much drink one of two things. Either healing hot chocolate or molasses tonic. Both provide minerals in a great tasting, soothing beverage.

You may be wondering, what’s so great about molasses? Isn’t that just sugar?

Molasses Tonic | Just Take A Bite

Molasses is actually packed with vitamins and minerals.

It contains:

  • potassium
  • magnesium
  • calcium
  • iron
  • vitamin B6
  • niacin
  • pantothenic acid
  • choline
  • phosphorus
  • zinc
  • copper
  • selenium
  • chromium
  • cobalt
  • sodium

It has also been shown to be helpful with a variety of health issues from PMS, headaches and acne to bone health and constipation.

What’s not to love?

Well, maybe the flavor.

Molasses is an acquired taste.

At least for me. If you are not a fan just start with a small amount and work your way up to a full tablespoon.

You can even do half molasses and half maple syrup to start. Maple syrup has minerals too!

As you can see molasses is very nutritious. You could just take a big spoonful once or twice a day.

Molasses Tonic | Just Take A Bite

I like to combine it with some other nutrients in a hot drink to really give my body a boost.

So you can add any or all of the following to create a molasses tonic:

  • stinging nettle (allergy relief, reduce inflammation)
  • grass-fed collagen (easy-to-digest protein, gut healing)
  • unrefined sea salt (trace minerals, hydration/electrolyte balance)
  • cocoa powder (magnesium, iron, fiber, manganese, zinc, flavonoids)
  • carob powder (calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium)
  • maple syrup (calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus sodium, potassium, zinc)
  • butter and/or coconut oil (healthy saturated fat, helps balance the protein and carbohydrates)

When you put all of these together molasses tonic can practically be a meal replacement! And if you have a super busy morning here and there it could be. I drink it after a meal. Though it is best to wait an hour after eating to let your food settle/start digesting first.

If you don’t have time or all of the ingredients to make the full molasses tonic you can simply add molasses and sea salt to hot water. You’ll still get a big nutritional boost and feel hydrated.

The next time you need a hot beverage skip the coffee. Instead whip up a power packed molasses tonic.

This is great for kids too. Add some whole milk or coconut milk to their molasses tonic for a creamy drink.

Do you consume molasses regularly? What is your favorite way to use it? 
Molasses Tonic | Just Take A Bite

Molasses Tonic
Serves 1
A warm drink packed with vitamins and minerals
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Ingredients
  1. 1 1/2 - 2 cups boiling water
  2. 1/2 - 1 Tbsp. blackstrap molasses
  3. 1/4 tsp. unrefined sea salt
optional
  1. 1 tsp. nettle leaf
  2. 1 Tbsp. grass-fed collagen
  3. 1 tsp. organic cocoa powder
  4. 1/2 tsp. organic carob powder
  5. 2 tsp. grade B maple syrup
  6. 1 Tbsp. butter or coconut oil
  7. 2-4 Tbsp. whole milk or coconut milk
Instructions
  1. If using nettle leaf, use a tea strainer or cheesecloth to steep nettle leaves in 1/2 cup boiling water for 10 minutes. Remove the leaves.
  2. Add the remaining boiling water and ingredients.
  3. Stir to combine.
  4. Allow to cool enough to drink or add ice cubes or milk.
Notes
  1. This can be served warm or cold (iced molasses tonic).
  2. This can be placed in a water bottle and packed for school lunch.
Just Take A Bite http://justtakeabite.com/

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.

Bedtime Beverage

Bedtime Beverage | Homemade Dutch Apple PieDo you have trouble falling asleep at night?  Or maybe your kids have a hard time winding down at the end of the day?  Mine sure do!

Except for one…the baby.  How does she go to sleep?  She nurses and falls fast asleep.  Mother’s milk is warm and has the perfect balance of nutrients to help a little one nod off to sleep.  It is comforting and nourishing.

So how does that translate to everyone else?  Surprisingly ice cream (the kind made with real, whole ingredients) is about the closest thing we have to breast milk in terms of its nutrient profile.  It has a good balance of carbohydrates, protein and fat.

You could definitely indulge in a dish of ice cream to see if it helps you get sleepy.  But I have a drink that might work better.  It’s like warm ice cream!

Raw cream or whole milk is the ideal base for this drink.  If you can’t have dairy you can use full fat coconut milk and add a little extra gelatin for the protein balance.Bedtime Beverage | Homemade Dutch Apple Pie

Egg yolks are added because they are packed with vitamins (especially B) and a little bit of protein.  The cream or milk has lots of healthy fat.  Gelatin gives more amino acids and protein.  Plus the gelatin makes it all easier to digest.  The sea salt helps you absorb everything and adds trace minerals.  The syrup also helps digestion (sugar is easily absorbed) and gives balance to the drink by adding carbohydrates.

At bedtime you need your adrenals to settle down for the night.  Having a balance of sugar, salt and fat will help your body accomplish that.   You can also add a small starchy snack along side the bedtime beverage to really balance out the components.  A couple soaked graham crackers or even a slice of sourdough bread are perfect.

This bedtime beverage is like a nutritionally boosted version of the warm milk you grew up drinking at bedtime (yes, there was some truth behind that).  It’s almost as comforting and calming as mother’s milk.  It tastes great too!

This drink can also be very helpful during the first trimester of pregnancy.  Even if you can’t get much else down this will give you a nutrient boost and may be soothing to an unsettled stomach.

There is no fancy equipment required for this drink.  Just a small pan and a whisk.  It only takes a few minutes to make.  Don’t forget to save your egg whites for baking.  They store well in the refrigerator or freezer for a long time.  I like to use them for making gluten free bread!

You won’t have to convince your kids to drink this before bed.  Offer a soothing bedtime beverage that tastes like ice cream and I’m sure they will gladly oblige.  Then watch them settle down and drift off to sleep.  Mother’s milk is wonderful for helping little ones get to sleep.  Now everyone else can do the same.Bedtime Beverage | Homemade Dutch Apple Pie

Bedtime Beverage
Serves 1
A warm drink to help you sleep at night.
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Ingredients
  1. 1 cup heavy cream, coconut milk or whole milk
  2. 2 Tbsp. maple syrup (or honey)
  3. 1/4 - 1/2 tsp. unrefined sea salt
  4. 1 - 2 tsp. collagen or gelatin
  5. 1 - 2 egg yolks
  6. optional: 1 - 2 tsp. cocoa or carob powder
Instructions
  1. Combine all of the ingredients in a small saucepan.
  2. Whisk to combine.
  3. If using gelatin let the mixture set for 1 minute.
  4. Gently warm the mixture over low heat. Do not let it boil or you could curdle the milk or cook the egg yolks.
  5. Pour into a mug and enjoy before bed.
Notes
  1. This can be made with just the cream, syrup and salt.
Just Take A Bite http://justtakeabite.com/

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.

Simple Smoothie Series: Sunrise Smoothie

Simple Smoothie Series Sunrise Smoothie || Homemade Dutch Apple PieThe next simple smoothie in this series is called the sunrise smoothie.  It’s the perfect morning drink.

The combination of orange, banana and strawberry gives a burst of flavor and also great color. It almost looks like a sunrise.  Though you don’t need to take warning for this red sky.

By adding yogurt and egg yolks to these fruits you create a vitamin powerhouse.

My oldest really loves this smoothie.  And she can be picky about smoothies.  It is bright and fresh and a great thing to boost your energy for the day.  She renamed it the morning milkshake.Simple Smoothie Series Sunrise Smoothie || Homemade Dutch Apple Pie

If you want to add some healthy fat to the smoothie avocado, coconut oil and flax seed all work well.

Don’t forget to pair it with some properly prepared starch (quinoa, rice, sourdough bread, fried potatoes, etc.) for better absorption and digestion.  Then you’ll have a good balance of protein, fat and carbohydrates.

Even if it’s cold and the sun isn’t shining during the winter you can start your day with a nutritious sunrise – in a smoothie!  Take your fermented cod liver oil with it to boost your vitamin D, just like the sun does.Simple Smoothie Series Sunrise Smoothie || Homemade Dutch Apple Pie

Simple Smoothie Series: Sunrise Smoothie
Serves 1
A fruity smoothie that looks like a sunrise in a glass.
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Ingredients
  1. 1/2 medium banana
  2. 1 clementine (or half an orange)
  3. 1/3 cup strawberries (fresh or frozen)
  4. 1/2 cup yogurt (or kefir, coconut milk or coconut milk yogurt)
  5. 1 egg yolk
  6. 2 Tbsp. honey (or maple syrup), if desired
  7. 1/4 tsp. sea salt
Instructions
  1. Combine all of the ingredients in a blender.
  2. Blend until smoothie.
  3. Serve immediately or store in the refrigerator.
Notes
  1. You can add 1/2 small avocado, 1 Tbsp. melted coconut oil or 2 tsp. flax seeds for extra fat.
  2. Leave out the honey if serving this smoothie to a child under one year of age.
Just Take A Bite http://justtakeabite.com/

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.

*If you order by clicking on any of my Tropical Traditions links and have never ordered from Tropical Traditions in the past, you will receive a free book on Virgin Coconut Oil, and I will receive a discount coupon for referring 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.

Simple Smoothie Series: Kiwi Strawberry

Simple Smoothie Series: Kiwi Strawberry || Homemade Dutch Apple PieIt’s that time of year – time to get back on track with nourishing foods.

So this month I’m doing a simple smoothie series.  Smoothies are a great way to pack in nutrition, and they can be tailored to meet any dietary restrictions.  Plus kids love them!

The other great thing about smoothies is that they can be prepared in advance and are great for on the go breakfasts or lunches.  They can even be frozen to make a breakfast popsicle your kids will love.

If you have a little one just starting solids you can spoon feed a thick smoothie.  It’s an easy way to give them things like probiotics and cod liver oil.  Be sure to leave out the honey if giving it to a child under one year of age.

A smoothie can be a meal on its own.  I personally need to have a salty/starchy component to my meal or else I will feel cold.  So if I drink a smoothie (which has lots of fat and protein) I like to pair it with a muffin or slice of bread or bowl of rice with salt.  That gives a good fat/protein/carbohydrate balance and a good sugar/salt/saturated fat/starch balance – both of which are ideal for good health.  It is especially important for adrenal health.

My first simple smoothie is kiwi strawberry.  It’s perfect for the winter months.  Kiwi is readily available in the store.  Then add some strawberries from your summer freezer stash.  It’s a delicious combination that is rich in vitamin C.

An added bonus of using strawberries is that they are the best source of ellagic acid.  According to Nourishing Traditions, “strawberries contain a compound called ellagic acid, which is an antioxidant that helps detoxify carcinogens.”Simple Smoothie Series: Kiwi Strawberry || Homemade Dutch Apple Pie

The yogurt or kefir in the smoothie provides probiotics and enzymes to help digest lactose.  The egg yolks provide so many nutrients – fat soluble vitamins A, D, E and K plus calcium, iron, phosphorus, zinc, thiamin, folate, vitamin B6 and vitamin B12.

I add a pinch of sea salt to smoothies for trace minerals.  You can also add gelatin (use the non-gel form) and coconut oil.

Probiotic powder and liquid fermented cod liver oil can also be added in small amounts.  You can also add avocado for thickness and dates for sweetness.

The end result is a refreshing kiwi strawberry drink.  But when you look a bit deeper you see it is a nutrition powerhouse and a great way to start your day.

I sometimes make a large batch of smoothie on Sunday and pour it into individual cups.  Then I can use them as needed throughout the week.  If you are going to make the smoothies in advance leave out the coconut oil and gelatin.  They will change texture as they sit in the refrigerator.

This recipe makes enough for two adults (average size smoothies) or three to four children.

A few words of caution.  Do not add raw greens to your smoothies.  Most of them contain oxalates in their raw forms.  If you want to add greens be sure to cook them first.

Also, I don’t advise drinking smoothies every day.  It’s a good addition a couple times a week.  Change it up with other breakfasts throughout the week.

A strawberry kiwi smoothie is the perfect breakfast treat for the whole family.  Stay tuned for more delicious flavors.Simple Smoothie Series: Kiwi Strawberry || Homemade Dutch Apple Pie

Simple Smoothie Series: Kiwi Strawberry
Serves 2
A power packed smoothie to start the day.
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Ingredients
  1. 1 cup total yogurt, kefir, sour cream, milk, coconut milk and/or coconut milk yogurt
  2. 2 egg yolks
  3. 1 cup strawberries (fresh or frozen)
  4. 1 kiwi, peeled and cut up
  5. 1/4 tsp. sea salt
  6. 2-4 Tbsp. honey and/or maple syrup (to taste)
  7. 2 tsp. gelatin (optional)
  8. 1 Tbsp. melted coconut oil (optional)
  9. 1/2 small avocado (optional)
  10. 2 dates (optional - leave out some or all of the honey if adding dates)
Instructions
  1. In a blender combine the yogurt/milk, egg yolks, strawberries, kiwi, salt and sweetener. Blend until smooth.
  2. Adjust sweetness to taste.
  3. Add gelatin and blend.
  4. While the blender is running slowly pour in the melted coconut oil.
  5. Pour into glasses and serve immediately or store in the refrigerator.
Notes
  1. If making the smoothie for a child under one year of age leave out the honey. It is not safe for a small child. They should not need extra sweetener besides the fruit. Or you can add a bit of banana for extra sweetness.
  2. If making the smoothies in advance leave out the gelatin and coconut oil.
  3. If you do not tolerate eggs you can make the smoothie without egg yolks. The taste will not change.
  4. You can substitute a different kind of berry if you do not tolerate strawberries.
Just Take A Bite http://justtakeabite.com/


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.

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.

The Results Are In…

After years of experimenting, going to various doctors and trying to figure things out on my own I recently decided to see a more holistic doctor.  She ran a lot of tests to get a better idea of what is going on in my body.

I got all of the results yesterday.  To say that I am overwhelmed is an understatement.

I’m not making tons of changes today.  I’m giving myself time to read, research and plan.  But I will also be making some simple changes right away.

Since I’ve been sharing my healing journey for so long I figured I’d share all of my test results as well.  So here goes.

I’ll start with a positive – my CBC is almost all normal.  No anemia!  Blood sugar, red/white blood cells, etc. all normal.  I am thankful for that.  It doesn’t seem as though I have any kind of autoimmune disease.  That was great news.  I was also happy that my temp was 98 degrees at the doctor’s office!

Thyroid: As expected my overall TSH is in the normal range (because of my medication).  But my Free T3 is NOT.  It is very low.  That is why I still have hypothyroid symptoms even on medication.  I will be switching to Armour – a more natural thyroid medication.  I can’t wait!!  Hopefully this will take care of things since I don’t think I have anything more serious, like Hashimotos.

Vitamin D: My vitamin D levels are very low.  So I’ll be taking a large dose of D3 once a week to try to get that back up to normal.

Magnesium: As expected my magnesium levels are low…even while taking quite a bit of supplemental magnesium.  So I have a new form to try.

Minerals: On the whole all of my mineral levels are low.  Which means I’m not absorbing them from the food I eat.  This is largely due to a leaky gut, low stomach acid and taking Miralax.  One of the minerals that is really low is Lithium.  So I’ll be taking a low dose supplement of that.  I will also take Zypan to help with stomach acid and absorption.  And I will be taking L-glutamine.  My goal is also to stop taking Miralax as soon as I am able.  Hopefully some of the other changes I’m making will help my digestion and take away the need for Miralax.

Heavy Metals: I have fairly high levels of lead and nickel in my body.  Other metals that are higher than desired are aluminum, arsenic, cadmium and mercury.  At the moment I am not going to do any thorough testing/chelation.  But I will be taking alpha lipoic acid to get some of it out of my body.

Adrenals: My adrenals/cortisol levels are way out of whack (I knew that).  They are really high in the morning (should be 7-10, mine are 16!).  Then they dip into the normal range mid morning.  But instead of continuing to go down as the day goes on they go back up a bit and never get back to the normal range.  So my body is always in a fight or flight stress mode with raised cortisol levels.  I will be taking Nusera to help with anxiety to get my stress down and I’ll be trying to get more sleep.

Allergies: This is a big one.  I don’t have any life threatening food allergies…if I did I would have known that by now 😛  But I do have some very strong reactions in my body from some foods.  You can call them food allergies or food sensitivities.  It just depends on your definition.  Either way my body is attacking itself when I eat these foods.  Here is the list of foods that came up positive (I have antibodies to them), from the highest (worst offenders (in red)) to the lowest (in yellow).

yogurt
egg yolks
baker’s yeast
malt
brewer’s yeast
_____________
wheat
bran
gluten
cow’s milk
coffee
egg white
_____________
lima beans
orange
cashew
barley
cheddar cheese
rye
strawberry
sesame
ginger
walnut
black pepper
carrot
peanut

The plan of action for dealing with this is to completely eliminate all of them from my diet.  After 3 months I can one at a time try re-introducing the yellow foods.  If I tolerate them I can add them back in to my diet.  If not I have to wait another 3 months and try again.  After 5 months I can start trying the orange foods.  After 6 months I can try adding the red foods.

According to my doctor it is rare to be able to add dairy and wheat/gluten back.  I don’t think that is totally true.

Regardless of what phase I’m in I should be on a rotational diet…permanently.  That will take some getting used to.  If you eat a food one day, you can’t eat it (or anything from the same family I think) again for 4 days.  I’ll have to do some good planning and keep track of what I eat.

I think it will be difficult to find enough food to eat.  In addition to this list of allergies, I have the list of food sensitivities that I’ve discovered just through trial and error (there is some overlap with this list).  And if I can only eat a particular food once every 4 days I don’t know how I’m going to find enough options.  So I need to do some thinking and planning.  And I might need to talk to a nutritionist.

Here are my biggest offenders that I have found from experience (I did not mention the ones already listed above): brown rice, corn, potatoes, bananas, apples, almonds, oats, peppers, onions, tomatoes, spinach/most leafy greens starch/gums – corn starch, potato starch, guar gum, tara gum, arrowroot, carageenan, polysorbate, etc. (ice cream, processed foods, powdered sugar, frosting), artificial sweeteners, black beans.

This is too much to do all at once.  At this point I’m planning to start by eliminating eggs (I started that last Sat. and I can tell it has helped.)  I already don’t eat yeast or malt.  The only other item on the red list is yogurt.  I will probably cut that out soon as well.  Once I’ve got that going I will work my way down the list.  Then eventually work my way back up 🙂

I still need to do some research before I cut too much out.  I don’t want to make things worse again by cutting huge food groups out.  I’ve done that before…and it hasn’t seemed to help.  I finally got wheat and dairy back into my diet.  So I’m hesitant to cut them back out again so soon.  We’ll see.

I will be working on following a rotational diet.  I’ll start with vegetables.  I tend to eat a lot of different vegetables each day.  But then I don’t have enough options left to skip all of them for four days.  I need to focus on just a couple vegetables each day (even if I eat the same ones for breakfast, lunch and dinner).  And make it easier to rotate.  After I get going with vegetables I work on things like protein sources, grains and fats.

Candida:

Finally my tests showed major candida/yeast overgrowth.  I tested positive for abnormal IgM antibodies (recent Candida overgrowth), increased levels of IgA antibodies (mucosal barrier overgrowth – digestive, respiratory, nasal, mouth ears, vaginal or skin) and increased levels of IgG antibodies (ongoing chronic infection).

This cuts even more foods out of my diet.  Basically anything fermented or anything with sugar (added or natural).  This includes things like olives, alcohol, vinegar, most condiments, sugar, honey, maple syrup, fruit, cheese, fruit juice and dried fruit.

The so-called remedy is to avoid foods that feed the bad bacteria and take antifungals.  Then replace the bad bacteria with good bacteria through probiotics.

I am not sure what my views are on candida at this point.  Some say anti-candida diets are so helpful.  Others think it’s a bunch of bologna 😛  So I’m still researching right now.  I have decided to focus on the other items (thyroid, minerals, allergies, etc.) and hold off on any treatment related to candida.  I will be conscious of not going overboard with sugars.  And I don’t eat much fermented anyway since I just don’t tolerate it well.  I am taking a probiotic.  But I’m not doing the antifungals or a totally sugar free diet right now.
______________________________________________________________________

So that’s it…at least most of it.  Hopefully you made it this far 🙂  I have a lot to think about.  A lot to research.  A lot to change.  I’m going to do it one step at a time and not overwhelm my system.  I’m hopeful that these changes will be very helpful and that I will experience a lot of healing.  I’m hopeful that the elimination diet will be successful and I’ll be able to add the majority of the foods back into my diet at some point.

I’m sure there will be more updates as I get a better handle on everything.  Now I need to figure out what I can/can’t eat and when.  I need to figure out how to make meals that I can eat without totally restricting my family, especially my kids.  And without always having to make a separate meal for myself.  I need to figure out how to manage social settings that revolve around food.  All in good time.

I am thankful that I don’t have any life threatening allergies.  I am thankful that I have more information and direction about what my body needs to heal.  It will take work and will be challenging.  But it’s just that, a challenge.  Nothing I can’t handle.  I know God will provide the knowledge and strength and help I need.  I look forward to new cooking and baking experiments that fit my new lifestyle.  And I’m excited to continue to share my journey and knowledge with others.

I want to continue to spread the word about Real food and health.  I want to continue to spread the word about hope and healing.  I want to get healthier so I can be a better wife and mother and servant of Christ.  I’m thankful for answers.  And I’m thankful that God has a plan and will guide me through this next phase.

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Is Your Diet Causing Deficiencies?…Potassium

**A heads up – this is a lengthy post.  But it contains a lot of good information.**

I hear a LOT about macronutrients these days.  There is always a debate about what “diet” is better…high/low fat, high/low protein or high/low carb.  My opinion…find a balance that makes you feel good.  It’s pretty easy to keep tabs on your macronutrients.  There are only three.  But when it comes to micronutrients it gets a lot harder.  In general if you eat a varied diet of balanced protein, fats and carbs and you eat enough calories you should get most of the nutrients you need.  But what happens when you can’t eat the balanced diet you want with any choice of fruits, vegetables, grains, beans, meat, etc.?

That is the dilemma I’ve been facing for quite some time.  My diet has been restricted in various ways for the last seven or eight years.  Currently my diet is quite restricted due to my own gut/intolerances and excluding foods that bother Abram.  This is especially true when it comes to fruits and vegetables.  This is problematic for getting all of the necessary micronutrients.

I’ve been curious about potassium for some time as I’ve narrowed down my list of foods that I absolutely must avoid.  I wondered if they had anything in common.  Some common denominator that would crack the case on some of my problems.  And since bananas are my worst offender…and bananas are known to be high in potassium I wondered if there was a connection.  But I didn’t do anything about it.  Then a few weeks ago I did an experiment where I logged my meals for a few days.  My intent was to count calories.  But it also gives you a good overview of vitamins and minerals.  The one thing that stood out to me day after day…Potassium is TOO LOW.  Interesting.  I hear about magnesium deficiency a lot. But I never hear anything about potassium.

So I did what I always do.  I started researching.  And I found lots of great information.

Here are some of the symptoms of potassium deficiency (also known as hypokalemia):
anxiety, depression, insomnia, constipation, high blood pressure, heart disease, kidney stones, thyroid problems, arthritis, obesity, headaches, pain in the eyes, muscle spasms, “restless leg syndrome,” fatigue, muscle tension, edema, irritability and dry skin.

What role does potassium play in our bodies?  Quite a bit actually.  “Potassium is a mineral that helps maintain the water and acid balance in blood and tissue cells, assists in muscle building, and transmits electrical signals between cells and nerves.  Potassium is also necessary for bone health, as it prevents the alkaline compounds found in bones from being used up by the body’s natural metabolic acids; low potassium is associated with an increased risk for osteoporosis.  The mineral helps the body to use glucose, its main source of energy, so when this process isn’t working correctly, it can leave a person feeling run down. In addition to fatigue, when the muscles don’t have enough energy to work correctly, they can become weak and achy.  As an electrolyte, potassium plays a key role in the movement of electrical impulses throughout the body. When a person has low potassium, those impulses may slow down or not travel as they should. This may lead to irritability, anxiety, confusion, and depression, which may only worsen when combined with other effects, like tiredness and weakness.  Low potassium can also result in paralysis, as the mineral is essential for the transport of electrical signals that allow muscle movement. Paralysis can occur in any part of the body, but is particularly associated with the digestive system. When parts of this system become paralyzed, food cannot be digested properly, leading to stomach and intestinal cramps, constipation, and bloating.”(1)  “Potassium is the third most abundant mineral in the body. It is also an electrolyte that regulates blood pressure, water retention, muscle activity, and proper function of every cell in your body. Potassium helps the cells in the body eliminate toxic waste, promotes balanced pH levels, and increases energy.” (2)  Sounds pretty important to me!

Potassium does not work alone, though.  It needs to be in balance with sodium, magnesium and calcium.  Potassium is especially related to sodium, as they balance the fluids and electrolytes in and out of cells.  So if you eat a high sodium diet, but low potassium it could cause big problems…and that is exactly what I’ve been doing.  I eat a LOT of salt.  I love salt.  And in general I think it’s healthy as long as you are using unrefined sea salt that contains lots of minerals.  But of course you can have too much of a good thing.  I am also likely deficient in magnesium.  And magnesium helps your body utilize potassium.  So far things don’t sound too good for me 😛

So far I’ve talked about simply not eating enough foods with potassium.  But what else can cause a deficiency?  One of the biggest culprits is certain medications…one of them being laxatives.  I’ve been taking miralax for 6 years now!  Laxatives prevent your body from absorbing all of the nutrients from your food.  Strike two for me.

Stress and anxiety can cause magnesium deficiency…which contributes to potassium deficiency.

My blood pressure is often low.  And when I do yoga I always get headaches.  I think it is related to my blood pressure.  This could also be caused by my sodium/potassium balance.

I also get severe swelling (edema) during pregnancy.  And after my son was born (over a year ago!) I don’t think it ever went away completely.  I still feel like my ankles are mildly swollen every day.  It could be related to potassium and balanced sodium levels.

I already know I have a leaky gut that prevents me from utilizing all of the nutrients in the food I eat.  Top that off with a full time breastfeeding child for over a year that has priority when it comes to the vitamins and minerals in your body…and doesn’t care if it depletes your stores.

Where does that leave me?  Not in good shape.  I don’t eat enough potassium rich foods.  I eat a lot of sodium, which means I need more potassium.  I’m low in magnesium…which prevents my body from utilizing all of the potassium I do consume.  Plus my body doesn’t absorb half of what I do eat.  Plus my son gets a lot of what my body does have.  Now what??

The RDA of potassium for an adult is 4700 mg.  For a breastfeeding woman it is 5100 mg.  When you look into the potassium content of food you’ll see that 5100 mg is a LOT.  It’s hard to consume that much even if you are utilizing all of it.  And that is the minimum you should get in a day.

I can’t eat a lot of foods that are really high in potassium.  But there are some that I do tolerate.  To demonstrate just how tough it would be to consume enough potassium I’ll give a sample of what I would have to eat in a day.  I’ll be very generous and say my body is utilizing 75% of what I consume (even though I think it’s probably more like 50% or less).  That would mean I need more than 7500 mg of potassium a day to get my daily minimum.  This is what I would have to consume to reach that amount (eating only foods that I tolerate):

Potassium content:
1/2 avocado = 450
1/4 cup raisins = 310
5 dates = 500
1/2 cup orange juice = 236
1 cup cantaloupe = 494
10 dried apricots = 800
1 cup yogurt = 400
1 peach = 193
1 Tbsp. cocoa = 76
1/2 cup pumpkin = 282
1/2 cup zucchini = 173
3 oz. salmon = 319
1 egg = 55
1 cup milk = 400
————————————————
Daily Diet:
2 avocados (900)
1/2 cup raisins (620)
10 dates (1000)
1 cup OJ (470)
1 cup cantaloupe (500)
10 apricots (800)
2 cups yogurt (800)
1 peach (193)
2 Tbsp. cocoa (150)
2 cups pumpkin (550)
2 cups zucchini (350)
6 oz. salmon (600)
6 eggs (325)
2 cups milk (800)
———————-
total: 8058 mg

That is a lot of food!  And it hardly even includes vegetables.  It doesn’t contain any grains.  It doesn’t contain any added fat (I consume a lot of coconut oil, EVOO and butter each day).  It is definitely not what I would normally consume in a day for a good balance.  Plus I probably need a lot more than 7500 mg to compensate for a deficiency and a leaky gut and breastfeeding and laxatives.  Just these foods would be about 3265 calories.  Add extra fat on top and it’s more like 3600 calories (at least).  Add in any more vegetables and grains and it’s more like 4000 calories.  Way more than I could ever eat in day.  Plus it has 80 grams of fiber!  I try to eat fairly low fiber to go easy on my gut.  This doesn’t seem like a doable thing for me.

For the last two weeks I have been trying to add more of these high potassium foods into my diet.  And in general I have been doing pretty well the last couple of weeks.  I try to eat yogurt, avocado, raisins, dates and cocoa daily.  Plus I often eat salmon, zucchini, pumpkin, eggs and milk.  I have also been drinking some orange juice lately.  I rarely drink juice.  I don’t think it has much nutritional value.  And if I do drink juice it’s always grape juice…my favorite 🙂  But I’ve really been craving orange juice.  Maybe it’s one more sign that I need potassium…and maybe even more vitamin C.

Although I’m sure adding high potassium foods into my diet is helpful, I don’t think it will be enough.  I am currently researching potassium supplements.  It seems strange to me that the RDA of potassium is 4700 mg, but most vitamins and supplements only contain trace amounts.  My multivitamin has a lot more than 100% RDA for many vitamins and minerals, but only 5 mg (.1%) of potassium.  So I’m looking for a supplement that actually has enough potassium in it.  I might also start supplementing magnesium again.  And trying to cut back on salt a little bit.

I am also going to contact my doctor to see if I can get a blood test to check some of my vitamin and mineral levels to be sure I’m not way off.

One thing I am still curious about is if my body is truly intolerant of my no-no foods that are mostly high potassium foods.  Or if my body is so low in potassium that when I eat foods that contain a lot it holds on to them and sucks out every last drop of minerals…slowing down digestion.  If I ate a large amount of some of my problem foods would I tolerate them better since my body wouldn’t feel deprived anymore?  I don’t know.  And at this point I’m not brave enough to try since it could cause major problems.

Obviously I have a lot of experimenting and researching to do yet.  I know that two weeks of diet adjustment and feeling some improvements does not mean it will be good long term.  This is an ongoing process.  But I think that increasing my potassium levels could really help.  It is also a good reminder that eating the same foods day after day (either because they “work” for you or just because you like them) can contribute to deficiencies.  Variety and balance can help ensure that you get all of the vitamins and minerals you need.

How do you find balance in your diet, especially with a restricted diet?  Do you follow the GAPS diet or a paleo diet or even a gluten free diet?  Could you be deficient in potassium?  Or maybe a whole group of micronutrients?  Even with the “best” diet you could easily be deficient.  Have you ever been tested or thought about getting tested?  The more I read the more I think it’s a very worthwhile tool in the search for improved health.  Do you know of good supplements?  Has anyone tried Nutreince?
This post is linked to Fight Back Friday and Fresh Bites Friday and Fat Tuesday and Real Food Wednesday.

(1) wiseGEEK
(2) Natural News

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.