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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.

Every year I take steps towards breaking the chains of anxiety and OCD. Every year I learn more about myself and grow closer to God. This year...I'm going all in.

Going All In This Year

Every year I take steps towards breaking the chains of anxiety and OCD. Every year I learn more about myself and grow closer to God. This year…I’m going all in.

Every year I take steps towards breaking the chains of anxiety and OCD. Every year I learn more about myself and grow closer to God. This year...I'm going all in.

2016 was quite a year. There were so many amazing things that happened (I wrote about it here).

That doesn’t mean 2017 will be a let down. Far from it! I have some fun goals for this year. More importantly, God has good plans for me.

Fun Things Ahead.

Here are a few of the things I want to accomplish this year:

  1. Write a new book! I already have the topic. I just need to find time to make it happen. You’ll be the first to know when it’s ready.
  2. Settle into a home school routine. We’re starting fresh this year now that my son is home too. So we’ll be seeing what does and doesn’t work, figuring out the best layout for our classroom and finding some fun ways to learn.
  3. Have fewer doctor appointments. I am thankful that lately this hasn’t been too much of an issue. My daughter is now going to the orthodontist only once every six weeks. And we’re still deciding if she needs to continue with the functional neurologist. Aside from that it’s just regular check ups or a trip to the ped if a child is really sick. My goal is no allergist appointments this year!!
  4. Get the house totally unpacked and settled. I’m amazed at how much we accomplished in three weeks here. We’re down to odds and ends boxes left to unpack. We’re still adding a few decor items.
  5. Adjust to farm life. I think come spring it will hit me a little more that we live on a farm. We’ll be cleaning the barn, starting a garden and hopefully getting chickens. Maybe a few bunnies too. Then reality will sink in!
  6. Make new friends. It’s my priority this year to make sure my kids have plenty of interaction with friends even though we home school. Plus we want to meet the people that live around us and develop new friendships when we find a new home church. It’s exciting and scary for this shy introvert!
  7. Spend more time together as a family. Now that we don’t have cable, we’re not as busy and we home school my prayer is that we have a lot more family time. We’re already trying to figure out where to go on vacation! I’m including in this extended family too – just yesterday I talked on the phone with my dad for a while. He broke his knee cap and had surgery a few days ago. I don’t live near by so I can’t really help much, but I can talk to him!
  8. Make sleep a priority. I probably say this every year. But I really mean it. I know it is the missing piece to my health puzzle. Now that my toddler has been sleeping through the night regularly for a month I am amazed at how much better I feel. I need to allow myself to sleep in sometimes and go to bed early sometimes. To-do lists can wait. I kicked this off yesterday with a nice Sunday afternoon nap. And going to bed early!

Setting My Sights High.

Probably my biggest goal is to finally slam the door shut on my anxiety and OCD that I’ve battled for years. I have made huge progress on them over the past ten years. But I’m ready to say goodbye completely.

This is only possible by the grace of God. Last year he laid it on my heart to be fearless. And that is my goal heading into 2017 as well. Following God’s path is not always easy, but it leads to blessing beyond measure.

Every year I take steps towards breaking the chains of anxiety and OCD. Every year I learn more about myself and grow closer to God. This year...I'm going all in.

My Words This Year.

Every year I pick a word for the year to focus on (or should I say God picks a word for me). This year I have two:

FEARLESS

HUMBLE

Last year I felt lots of change coming. This year feels like it will be calmer. But still big. I anticipate more time just being still and quiet instead of constantly on the go. I look forward to the blessings and surprises God has in store for myself and for my family. And I pray that I will approach everything fearlessly and with humility.

Lest I question this choice, my sister-in-law bought me a “Be Fearless.” sign for Christmas and just yesterday after I had just finished writing this post my toddler was walking around saying “humble, humble, humble…”. Sometimes God speaks loud and clear!

This year I’m going all in. I pray God will guide me through the challenges and the joys that lie ahead.

Do you have any goals for this year? I’d love to hear about them!!

Every year I take steps towards breaking the chains of anxiety and OCD. Every year I learn more about myself and grow closer to God. This year...I'm going all in.

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.

Sometimes you tell yourself to just keep going. But sometimes you can't. I can't. I'm slowing down. It's time to listen to my body and take action.

I’m Slowing Down…

Sometimes you tell yourself to just keep going. But sometimes you can't. I can't. I'm slowing down. It's time to listen to my body and take action.

I’m slowing down.

Whether I want to or not. I am. My mind is. My body is.

Here’s the problem.

Life is not.

In fact life is going in the complete opposite direction.

I have three very active children that seem to keep growing…don’t they know they’re supposed to stay little forever?

With those growing kids come more and more activities like soccer, t-ball, piano, church activities, time with friends, etc. As each child starts the activities multiply.

Full Time Work.

Then there is work. I work from home. I started my blog shortly after my oldest was born as a hobby. But it has grown into more than just a hobby. I have to work on it daily. And it’s a LOT of work. But now instead of just my own blog I help with someone else’s blog and write for several other blogs and magazines. Those hours add up very quickly. And none of them include child care.

I also started home schooling this year. Which I absolutely love and can’t believe I didn’t do it sooner. But it does take work. I have to be more organized and I don’t have as much free time during the week.

Did I mention we are moving to a 10 acre farm by the end of the year? That means we’re in the process of packing and cleaning right now. Soon we’ll be selling our house and then doing the big move…during the holidays. Yeah, it’ll be busy.

No Big Deal?

This all sounds like normal stuff. Most people can handle it.

But I’m struggling.

It’s not something I like to admit. But I am.

I am the kind of person that likes to say yes to everything and everyone. I also don’t like to ask for help. Those two traits don’t go so well together.

I also don’t have any help aside from my husband. We don’t have close family in town. If life is feeling crazy and hectic I just have to deal with it. I can’t call Grandma to take the kids for a few hours so I can catch my breath. Instead I get a few minutes of nap time to scroll through Facebook or Pinterest before jumping back in.

What Happened?

The thing is I used to be able to handle more busyness. So what happened?

I didn’t listen to my body.

I wasn’t honest about my struggles. I never accepted help. I never asked for help. Not even from my husband!

I’ve had a lot of really big stressors in my life over the last fifteen years. Bigger than I realized. And they took a toll. Major colon surgery. Years of infertility and treatments. Years of anxiety and obsessive compulsive disorder and working with a psychologist.

I thought I was over a lot of the major stuff after that. So I didn’t even realize until just now how stressful the last three years have been.

Sometimes you tell yourself to just keep going. But sometimes you can't. I can't. I'm slowing down. It's time to listen to my body and take action.

Three Years Of Worry.

In mid 2013 I went through my last (7th!!) round of IVF…which ended in a miscarriage. The miscarriage lasted over a month. And my adrenals and thyroid went haywire. My whole body was swelling. I was gaining weight every week. Things were out of whack. I was trying hard to make huge lifestyle changes.

And just when I was making some progress I got pregnant with my miracle baby…the thing I had been working towards.

I was so happy, and the pregnancy went smoothly.

But it caused me a lot of anxiety. I worried about the health of the baby every day. But I just dealt with it. As I did my adrenals continued to suffer.

Wait, It Gets Worse?

After my daughter was born things were good for a bit. Then she had multiple severe vaccine reactions. And I spent the next year and a half fighting for her life. I don’t think I’ve ever felt more alone than I did during that time. I worried about her and cried about it almost daily.

Her malnutrition and fighting to keep her nourished through nursing impacted me so much that even now, at 2 years old, every time I nurse her I have heart palpitations. Even though she only nurses a couple times a day and is a great eater. It’s my body’s natural response…worrying she won’t get enough.

To add to the stress of the last three years we’ve dealt with health issues for my other two children. It started as allergies and general gut health and has now turned into neurological issues.

As I’m typing this I’m still trying to unwind from a morning of my five year old constantly screaming at me and responding to everything I say with an extreme negative. Sometimes to the point where he shuts himself in the closet and screams over and over that he wants to kill himself.

It’s exhausting, disheartening and just overwhelming at times. All I can do is keep praying.

Allergies.

It is also a lot of work to cook for my family. With so many varying allergies I always have to cook multiple meals and make just about everything from scratch…even if I don’t have time.

There is no such thing as ordering pizza or going out to eat when I just don’t have the energy. Or even pouring a bowl of cereal when I can’t even think about breakfast.

It is a huge responsibility on my shoulders. If I don’t do it my kids can’t eat.

Sometimes you tell yourself to just keep going. But sometimes you can't. I can't. I'm slowing down. It's time to listen to my body and take action.

Waiting For Our Dream.

Over the last year we have had some huge ups and downs in our house search too. We have had multiple offers accepted but then things not work out for one reason or another. It’s been very emotional and at times has felt very similar to our infertility journey. We are praying this house is really the one and we can move past this by year’s end.

Deeper Thoughts.

When I was growing up my mom dealt with anxiety and depression. At about the same age as I am right now she had a nervous breakdown and was in in-patient care at a mental health facility and was on lots of medication. We got to visit her once in a while and had to have my grandparents help take care of us. I was in third grade. My little brother was in kindergarten. Right now my daughter is in third grade and my son is in kindergarten. Yeah, it really makes me think about how things could go if something doesn’t change. I don’t want that to happen to my kids.

I’ve also always thought I’d have four kids (just like my family growing up…girl, boy, girl, boy. Right now we’ve got girl, boy, girl). From the time I was five all I wanted to do was be a mom…and have four kids. There were times during my infertility journey I wondered if I’d ever be a mom at all. But I still held on to that dream of having four kids.

Now here I am with three kids…and the desire is still there, stronger than ever. But I also know my body is not healthy enough right now for another baby. And I’m not getting any younger. And life isn’t getting any easier. It weighs heavily on my mind almost daily. Though I try my best to remember that God’s plans and timing are perfect. We’ll see what the future holds.

Taking Its Toll.

Through the last few years of pregnancy and breastfeeding and stress my body has become extremely depleted. Which really doesn’t do good things for you, trust me.

Over the last few months I’ve started having more and more heart palpitations (which freak me out). I have started to gain weight in my abdomen over the last nine months (something I’ve never dealt with).

I thought maybe my thyroid was getting worse. I had my levels checked…perfect. I still tried increasing my medication just to be sure. No luck. If anything it made me feel worse.

So I did a 24 hour saliva cortisol test. It’s really not bad. My levels are in the normal range most of the day. But I think they are working very hard to stay there.

My adrenals are really being taxed on a daily basis.

Adrenal Health.

So I’ve been doing some research on adrenals. A few of the things that always come up:

  1. Get more sleep and go to bed by 10 pm.
  2. Don’t skip breakfast and eat a good balance of protein and carbs.
  3. Reduce stress.

I always thought sleep was my biggest problem.

But I don’t really think it is. I go to bed at 10 every night. I have for many years. I’m not a night owl. And although I am an early riser I get about 7 hours of sleep a night. So I could improve, but it’s not horrible.

I never skip breakfast. I am ready to eat the minute I get out of bed. I’ve been that way for many, many years. And I eat a big breakfast.

I also don’t skimp on calories throughout the day. So I’m not restricting in any way when it comes to quantity…a huge bonus for adrenal health and your metabolism.

Oddly enough the things that are a hindrance to most people are the things I’ve been doing right for years.

Sleep and morning routines are great. It’s the rest of the day I have to figure out.

It comes down to two things – stress and a limited diet (due to a nursing toddler with allergies).

So…

So now what? I can’t just stop life. Can I?

Well, not exactly. But I can make some changes.

Sometimes you tell yourself to just keep going. But sometimes you can't. I can't. I'm slowing down. It's time to listen to my body and take action.

My body is getting older and slowing down. Life is getting busier. I’m ready to switch that around.

So I’m making a few goals for myself. And if I share them with you it will help me stick to them.

Maybe you want to join me?

These are goals for my myself as an individual and for my family.

  1. Lay down during the day for 5 – 15 minutes. Resting isn’t always enough. Physically laying down can really help recharge your body.
  2. Eat a snack in the afternoon to help with blood sugar regulation (I can’t wait to learn more about this in the Fix Your Blood Sugar course!!)
  3. Eat less before bed to give my body time to rest and truly recharge at night instead of working on digestion.
  4. Change my exercise routine. Try more T-Tapp and yoga and do less cardio.
  5. Sleep in on the weekends (this is a HARD one for me…but I am really going to try)
  6. Take time off from work (another really hard one…I love sharing my stories and my food with you…but it’s a lot of work…I may be MIA here and there over the next few months/years…it’s because I’m heeding my own advice). Keep the weekends more open for family time.
  7. Use our move to get the house organized and more functional for us so we spend less time with chaos and cleaning.
  8. Start using some hormone-supporting essential oils (still researching these a bit).
  9. Start the big kids on some herbs that help with calming their nervous system and a cleanse to get rid of parasites.
  10. Continue to have my oldest work with the functional neurologist to also improve the nervous system. And possibly have my son start as well.
  11. Take time for my marriage and connecting with my husband (it’s been over 2 years since we’ve been on a date due to the above situations…I think it’s about time!!)
  12. When my toddler is done nursing I can add a few more to this list – hormone level testing and another hair tissue mineral analysis to see where I’m at. Then go from there with flooding my body with the nutrients it needs.
  13. Read as many of the books and take as many of the courses in the Ultimate Healthy Living Bundle as I can. After I download them I’ve got them for life. So I can take my time. But for once I am going to make the time. There is just such a wealth of knowledge contained in the bundle. It may take me a few years to get through it all. But I really hope to. I’m starting with the Perfect Periods course and the Heal Your Gut Summit. Then I think I’ll switch over to some of the books on kids’ health. Maybe I’ll even include it in our home school curriculum and read it with my kids!!

Life Is Still Crazy.

I know the next two months are still going to be pretty stressful with moving. But I know that up front and am going to take measures to deal with it as best as I can.

I also know that there is much more to the root issue than adrenals. I’ve got to work on hormone balancing and overall gut health.

Sometimes you tell yourself to just keep going. But sometimes you can't. I can't. I'm slowing down. It's time to listen to my body and take action.

Then once we get settled I’m ready to start a new lifestyle.

One that includes home schooling all of my kids, starting a farm and watching them learn about raising animals, getting away from the busy pace of life and just slowing down. Having that goal in mind keeps me going.

If I can remember I hope to do an update on this in a year. I love to look back and see how much has changed. See where God has led me and how He has directed my path.

God’s Plans.

Even this post was not one I had planned to write at all. I just sat down in front of the computer and started typing. Really. I wanted to share a piece of me with you today. And that is one last goal. To do more of that moving forward.

At the start of this year God really laid it on my heart that this would be a year of huge change. I had no idea what. But I knew stuff was coming. He also told me to be fearless. And I am trying my hardest (though it is REALLY hard for this natural worrier). So far He has been true his intentions. If you had told me at the start of the year I’d be nursing a healthy toddler, home schooling my oldest and getting ready to move to a 10 acre farm I would have said you were crazy. But God is good.

I feel more changes still to come.

Including even more change in focus in my writing. I’m not even sure what that means. But I trust God does. And He’ll guide me.

Do you have any goals you’d like to share? Did any of this resonate with you? I’d love to hear about it!!

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.

This summer I'm learning to embrace BOLD...again. Plus a giveaway!

Learning To Embrace BOLD {With A Giveaway!}

Sometimes your true nature gets lost in the shuffle of daily life. After a career, marriage and three kids I’m finally learning to embrace bold again.

This summer I'm learning to embrace BOLD...again. Plus a giveaway!

I am working with Stonyfield and prAna for this post. I have been compensated for my time commitment but have not been paid to post positive reviews. All opinions are my own.

When I was younger everything about the way I dressed was bold.

I wore my big brother’s blue suspender’s with comfy shorts (that my mom made) and my favorite t-shirt (with a roller coaster on it…one of my favorite things!).

My big sister cringed at the outfits I created. It was like tom boy meets athlete meets comfort queen.

In junior high I had a favorite outfit that consisted of bright kelly green jeans and a green and white striped shirt (from the GAP no less! It really was in style).

In high school you’d find me in bright orange tanks with matching wedge flip-flops or red soccer jerseys with matching warm-up pants.

This summer I'm learning to embrace BOLD...again. Plus a giveaway!

You might think I was outgoing and outspoken. But, no. I was not confident in myself at all. I was quiet as a mouse and very insecure. But I knew what I liked. Without realizing it I was dressing for my energy type to a tee.

Once I started working full time and then having kids my style faded. At work I wore basic tan or black dress pants with a button down or sweater most days. At home I switched over to yoga pants, nursing tanks and old t-shirts. About the farthest thing from bold you can find. Lots of black and gray.

Bold but not brash.

A few months ago I heard about Dressing Your Truth and decided to check it out. These days I’m completely lost when it comes to my own style. I have none. And I don’t even know how to shop for myself anymore (my husband usually shops for me). I figured it couldn’t hurt to see what it was about (no I am not an affiliate…I haven’t even taken the course. It was just really cool to watch the videos and be reminded of my true nature).

It actually surprised me to realize I am a Type 4. The reason I was surprised is because Type 4 is BOLD. Me? Bold? Are you kidding?

I’m quiet, reserved, introverted. My clothing makes me fade into the background.

But the more I thought about it the more I realized I really am bold! I just haven’t been letting that boldness come through for many years now.

I am smart and strong-willed.

I am structured and organized.

I am determined and dependable.

But I don’t always let that show.

Time to get it back.

About the same time I was given the opportunity to try some new clothes from prAna. I was going to do my usual boring pants or top in a plain color. But I decided to be bold and go with yellow patterned pants.

This summer I'm learning to embrace BOLD...again. Plus a giveaway!

I have never in my life worn pants like this! To be honest I was a little nervous to wear them for the first time. To my great delight instead of feeling self-conscious I felt confident. A great feeling I haven’t had in a while.

Feeling happy.

Then just a few weeks ago I ordered a new pair of boots. I’ve needed new boots for about three years now. I wear my winter boots almost year round for everything from grocery shopping in deep snow to walking through mud at the milk farm. They finally gave out and started letting water in. I never spend money on myself, so this was a splurge (even though I used birthday money that was intended to update my wardrobe!!)

I decided to get some all-purpose farm/rain/winter boots. Instead of getting black or gray I went with bright green.

Can I tell you how happy they made me feel?! I call them my happy boots. And I wear them even when I have no reason at all to be wearing boots. Just because. I think they make other people happy too. I’ve gotten lots of compliments. I love that instead of fading into the background I’m able to be bold. I love that my boots get me noticed. They are true to my nature…true to my youthful spirit of bold, fun expression through my clothing.

This summer I'm learning to embrace BOLD...again. Plus a giveaway!

What I’m craving.

I’ve been craving some direction in my style for quite some time now. This summer I’m finally getting it! I’m on the hunt for a new wardrobe that shows my boldness.

Want to know what else I crave? Yogurt. I haven’t eaten any in almost two years now. Yogurt is one of my favorite foods. Especially for breakfast on hot summer days.

When my little one with allergies is weaned I look forward to trying all of the Stonyfield Whole Milk Greek Yogurt flavors (my husband and daughter sure love them!). Though to be honest I’m sure I’ll go for vanilla first. I am really craving that!! It’s always been my favorite.

This summer I'm learning to embrace BOLD...again. Plus a giveaway!

I’m loving my new prAna pants. They are so fun. The only down side is that as my daughter gets older and nurses less my weight starts to go back up (a good thing for my health, not so great for my wardrobe). So the pants are tighter than I had hoped (they were the right size when I ordered them, but not by the time I got them). It’s a good thing they are stretchy! An added bonus.

But that is part of the process – accepting myself, accepting my body as it changes and still being true to myself and my bold personality.

I have yet to figure out a bold hair style. I’ve pretty much always had long straight hair. All suggestions are welcome.

In the mean time I’m ready to satisfy my summer craving for bright colors. No more hiding. You don’t have to be outgoing or loud to be bold. I am embracing my quiet boldness.

It’s your turn!

prAna and Stonyfield want to help you embrace your style and satisfy your summer cravings too!

One lucky reader gets a pear of the same Kara jeans I got, in your color of choice.

Are you a Type 4 that wants something bold? Or are you a type that needs a softer, more subtle color? Does your style reflect your personality and true nature? I’d love to hear!

What are you craving this summer? A new wardrobe? Delicious food? Long days at the beach? Working in the garden?

Share your summer cravings and enter for your chance to win below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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.

Health Update 2013 Part 2 – What I Learned

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Every time I think about writing what I learned in 2013 my mind goes in a million directions.  I learned so much.  I learned it all the hard way – through first hand experience.

I know I’m not alone.  I know I’m not the only one struggling with these problems.  So I want to share my journey with others in the hopes that someone else doesn’t have to go through the struggles like I did.

So here is my attempt at sharing some of these lessons.  I hope to go into more detail on some of the topics in separate posts later.  For now, here is some of what I learned in 2013 (and over the last ten years).

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1. Eat enough food.

I fell into this trap for many years.  And I see it in so many well-meaning sites and books.  Time and time again it is suggested that women should eat 1200 – 1500 calories a day to loose weight and be healthy.  This is far too little to sustain your health.

Unless you are on complete bedrest and can barely move your body most women should eat a minimum of 2,000 calories a day.  You should consume even more than that if you are active and exercise.  If you starve your body it will not function well.  If you feed your body you’ll feel great.  Combining enough quality food with moderate exercise is a great way to maintain your health in the long term.

2. Eat what works for your body.

Don’t follow a prescribed diet (GAPS, Paleo, low carb, etc.) just because someone else says it’s great.

This is another lesson I had to learn the (very) hard way.  I’ve been on every diet you can think of to try to feel good.  For me it was never about losing weight.  I just wanted to feel good and heal my body.  So I tried the IBS diet, low fat, high fiber, dairy free, egg free, wheat free, red meat free, grain free, GAPS, low carb,…I’ve tried them all.

Where did that get me?  Feeling worse than when I started.  Over the last 10 years I have learned to eat what works for my body.  And that is what makes me feel good.

Just because your friend tried eating paleo and feels great doesn’t mean it’s the perfect diet for you.  Just because someone says grains are evil doesn’t mean they don’t work for you.

I have read over and over about how things like potatoes, bananas and root vegetables are “safe” starches and much better for you than grains.  I am living proof that this is not true for everyone.  If I eat potatoes and bananas I will be in so much pain.  But I MUST eat gluten free grains daily to feel good.

All this boils down to – don’t restrict your diet just because someone else says it’s good.  Eat a variety of real food that makes you feel good and gives you the energy you need.  Don’t cut foods (real food) out of your diet if they aren’t causing you problems.  You won’t find your “perfect” diet in any book.  You have to figure out what works for you.

3. Real food is great!  But sometimes it can be beneficial to stray away from it.

I know this sounds contradictory to what my site is all about.  But it’s true.  I still firmly believe in fueling your body with healthy, homemade real food…most of the time.

But depending on the state of your health, there are times when you can benefit from some less than ideal foods.  For someone that has been on a strict diet (like paleo or GAPS) and is underfed and unhealthy, processed foods can be a great jumpstart to getting back to full health.  Processed foods are easy to digest (yes, frozen pizza is often easier to digest than a big plate of vegetables).  It is also easy to quickly increase your calorie intake with processed foods.

I am not recommending this as a permanent solution to health by any means.  But it can be beneficial if you are recovering from undereating or a condition called orthorexia.  Once your body is not starving anymore you can go back to eating real, quality food.  You just have to be sure to eat plenty of it.

Having bad morning sickness was a good way to break me of my orthorexia.  I do love to fuel my body properly with quality food.  But sometimes I can be too strict about it…and it fuels my OCD and anxiety.  I had to just learn to eat whatever I could manage for the last couple months.  I am really looking forward to getting back to eating mostly healthy food.  My body is ready for it.  But it was nice to have a break and just eat whatever I wanted.  It was a great way to change my mindset and figure out how to find balance.

4. Don’t drink too much water.

One of the best things I did for my health in 2013 was to stop drinking so much water.  There really is no science behind the 8 glasses a day rule.  And if you really think about it, it doesn’t make sense to force yourself to drink water.  If your body needs fluids it will let you know.

Drinking too much water is a great way to slow down your metabolism, lower your body temperature and feel cold all the time.  It will also flush the vitamins and minerals out of your body.

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5. Get plenty of sleep.

This sounds like common sense.  But there are probably very few people that actually get enough sleep.  For a healthy individual seven hours of uninterrupted sleep is the minimum needed.  Most people need at last eight.  And for someone that has been sleep-deprived for a while nine or ten hours is ideal.

Quality sleep with no problems falling or staying asleep is a sign of good health.  While you sleep is also the time when your body repairs itself.  So if you’re trying to heal and you’re not getting enough sleep you’re setting yourself up for failure.

I went for years and years getting very poor sleep.  I had too much to get done in a day to spend my time sleeping.  But at some point I just had no energy and could barely function.  It has been great over the last couple months to get nine or ten hours of sleep a day (night time + a nap).  My body really needed it.  Hopefully soon I can stop taking a nap every day and just stick with my eight hours a night and have it be sufficient.

Even if every other part of your lifestyle is ideal, if you’re not getting enough sleep you won’t feel your best.

6. Exercise is great…if you are eating and sleeping enough.  

If you are not eating or sleeping enough, it can be beneficial to take a break from exercise.  When you do exercise it’s good to do a variety of things like weight lifting, yoga and walking.  You don’t have to push yourself to extremes to be healthy and fit.  Too much aerobic exercise may be harmful.

I used to run every single day.  And do nothing else.  Now I still enjoy running.  But I don’t do it every day.  Actually I haven’t done any running in a long time because my body was not healthy enough.  When I was healing I stuck to short walks and bikes.  I also did gentle yoga.  I got new weights for Christmas…but haven’t been able to use them.  Maybe by next Christmas I’ll be able to start lifting weights 🙂

Move your body doing what you enjoy.  Make sure to do a variety of things to work all parts of your body.  And combine it with enough food and enough sleep.  That is the way to stay healthy.

7. Basal body temperature can tell you a lot about your health.

Basal body temperature is your temperature when you first wake up in the morning.  Another great thing I did for my health in 2013 was to check my temperature every single morning and keep a spreadsheet of it.

Your bbt can tell you if your metabolism is working well or not.  For women it can also tell you when you ovulate/how your hormones are functioning.  So it is a good indicator of health (since metabolism is a key factor in health).  It is also great for understanding fertility and either getting pregnant or preventing pregnancy.

A healthy individual with a well-functioning metabolism should have a bbt of at least 97.8 F in the morning.  Higher is even better.  You can also check your temperature throughout the day to get an idea of how your food and activity level impacts your body temperature.  It will help you see what keeps you warm (boosting metabolism) or makes you cold (suppressing metabolism).  Then you can adjust your lifestyle accordingly.

For women, bbt is lower (but still usually around the 97.8 range for a healthy individual) in the first half of your cycle when estrogen is dominant and progesterone is low.  When you ovulate there is often a temperature drop for one day.  Then after ovulation progesterone increases, raising your temperature.

It will take a few months of charting your temperature to get an idea of how your body works and to see if there are any patterns.  For example, as I was healing and charting my bbt there wasn’t really a pattern that I noticed at first.  My cycles were not regular.  But after a while I noticed that if my bbt dropped into the 96’s (or below) even for one day my body was way off and was struggling to get my hormone levels up.   And it would be at least two weeks before ovulation.  A bbt below 97 meant a restart for me.  If my bbt stayed in the 97’s for two weeks I knew ovulation was coming.  And after ovulation my bbt was always at least in the 98’s and sometimes 99’s.  Once my bbt started dropping that meant the start of a new cycle.

Charting my bbt was the easiest change I made the whole year.  But it told me more about my health than just about anything else I did.

8. Focus on health, not looks.  

I think I’ve been saying this for years.  So it’s not completely new.  But deep down I don’t think I fully believed it.  I did shift my mindset to focus on health a long time ago.  But I didn’t ever drop the focus on looks and size.  I still wanted to be thin.

In 2013 my control over my size was taken away.  With my thyroid totally out of whack my weight kept going up and up.  There was nothing I could do about it.  For the first time I truly had to focus 100% on my health.

Did I always like how I looked?  No.  Did I want to loose some weight?  Yes.  But that was completely secondary.  My health was front and center.  And it always will be now, no matter what size I am.

When I look to the future I think about how I want to impact my children.  I would much rather teach them to take care of themselves and be healthy.  I don’t want to teach them to be obsessed with looks and size.  So I am done with that.

Don’t try to be a certain size or weight.  Treat your body well.  And give your body what it needs to be healthy.  You’ll be so much happier.  Love yourself and take care of yourself.

9. Change is a very gradual process.

Change does not happen over night.  No matter what the next fad diet or workout video tells you.  If you want to make changes that are sustainable long term it will be a very gradual process.

Do you want to loose weight?  That’s fine.  But know that it will take a while.  Do you want to eat healthier?  That’s a wonderful thing to do.  But don’t go crazy trying to do everything at once.

Small, consistent steps each day will get you where you want to be.  Don’t get upset because two weeks into making changes you haven’t noticed any big improvements.  Give it time.

Healing takes time.  Weight gain or loss takes time.  A healthy diet takes time.  Don’t rush it and set yourself up for failure.  I’ve been working on getting healthy for about 15 years now.  And I’m finally getting there.  One step at a time.

10. Your thyroid can have a big impact on your health.

I was diagnosed as hypothyroid in 2006.  I was put on a synthetic thyroid hormone and had my TSH checked about once a year.  I really knew nothing about thyroid.  I figured the doctor knew what he was doing.  I didn’t have any hypothyroid symptoms that I knew of.  So I didn’t bother to learn about it.  I didn’t think it was that big of a deal.

Seven years later I finally had to learn more about it.  I wish I would have researched it sooner.  I didn’t realize just how much your thyroid could impact your health.  I think there are about 200 symptoms that can be attributed to thyroid dysfunction.

Last year I learned so much about the thyroid.  I learned what blood work you need to get done and how to interpret the results.  Just because your levels are in the “normal” range does not mean you are on the right dose of medication.  You have to look at the symptoms more than the numbers.

I learned about the different kinds of medications, how to take them and how to get correct dosage.

I learned how other hormones can impact your thyroid and vice versa.

I learned that iron levels and adrenal problems can mimic thyroid problems.  And they need to be addressed first.

I can’t say that I have my thyroid problem 100% figured out yet.  It is the last piece of the puzzle that I’m still working on.  And I will be writing more on this topic in the future.  I will be getting my thyroid hormones levels rechecked in a week and go from there to see if adjustments need to be made.

11. Manage stress.

Stress can be as bad for your health as lack of sleep, a poor diet and lack of exercise.  Stress can suppress your metabolism.  It can alter your hormones.  It can come in many forms too.

Find a way to manage your stress to stay healthy.  Take time to do things you enjoy – reading, writing, visiting with friends.  It’s also important to find techniques to relax such as walking, yoga or reading the Bible.  Figure out what works for you and make it a priority.

12. Adrenal health is very important.

Your adrenal glands play a huge role in your health.  If you are not getting enough sleep, aren’t eating enough, are exercising too much or are too stressed, your adrenal glands have to work overtime to compensate.

This works for a while.  That is what they are for.  They raise your cortisol levels to compensate.  But if you do it for too long you stress the adrenals and eventually it leads to adrenal fatigue.  Then your cortisol bottoms out and it takes a lot of work to get it back up.

If you think you are suffering from adrenal problems it’s great to do a 24-hour saliva test to check your cortisol levels.  I had it done early last year.  I’m thankful that my levels were just slightly raised.  Which means I was doing ok, but starting to make them work a little too hard.  By altering my sleep, diet and exercise I was able to get my cortisol levels back to normal.

13. Birth control is not for everyone…and probably not good for most women.

This is another less I had to learn the very hard way.  But it wasn’t until years after I stopped birth control that I realized how much it had harmed me.

A few months before I got married I started birth control.  That’s what you do, right?  I knew nothing about what it was or what it actually does to your body.  But had I not made that one decision I probably never would have struggled with infertility for so many years.

When I was in college I got my health under control.  Things weren’t perfect, but I was eating enough, sleeping enough and exercising regularly.  I had found a good balance.  And for the first time in my life I had regular cycles every single month.  This lasted a few years…until I started birth control.

Once on birth control things started to change.  The changes were gradual.  And I never attributed them to the birth control.  But now that I have done a lot of research I can see the big picture.  I started to gain weight.  Five pounds or so.  Nothing major.  My anxiety started to get worse.  My OCD started to get worse.  Eventually I started having panic attacks.  My gut got so messed up that I started restrictive diets to try to help.  My weight went way down from restriction.  I was a big mess.  I even had to switch to a new form of birth control because I was starting to puke every month from the hormones.  In case you haven’t noticed by now my body is extremely sensitive to any hormone fluctuations.

After stopping birth control three years later it was too late.  My hormones were non-existent.  I was underweight.  I was hypothyroid.  My OCD was so out of control that I could barely function.  My anxiety was so bad.  I had to start seeing a psychologist.  My digestive system was so messed up that I had to have major colon surgery.  Eventually we started fertility treatments.

I think almost all of this could have been avoided had I not taken birth control.  It messed up both my mind and my body.

I know not everyone reacts the same way to hormones.  And I’m sure there are cases where it can be helpful.  But please do your research before considering any type of birth control.  I know that it is something I will never take again.  It has taken me many years to get my life back.  I’m not going down that road ever again.

14. Be your own advocate.

One big lesson I have learned over the last ten years is that you have to stand up for yourself.  Don’t let doctors brush you off or tell you you’re fine when you know you’re not.  If something doesn’t feel right, find a doctor that will help.

I had GI problems for years.  I finally was brave enough to talk to my doctor about it.  He referred me to a gastroenterologist.  Great.  I thought I’d finally get the help I needed.  He asked a few questions, felt my stomach and told me I was healthy and fine.  Eventually I got him to run a few tests.  But he still said I was fine.  I knew I was not.  I had to research and research and finally diagnose myself.  Even then when I told the nurse at my doctor’s office what I thought was the problem she said “you don’t have that.  You’re too young” without missing a beat…over the phone…without asking me a single question.  I’m so thankful I was persistent and didn’t just say ok.  I finally got referred to a colon surgeon who confirmed my diagnosis and immediately scheduled surgery.

This has happened time and time again to me.  I go to a doctor, even specialists, trying to get help.  And they tell me I’m fine.  Even though I know I’m not.  I have had to figure out all of my problems on my own…and just use doctors to get medications and treatments.

15. PCOS is a confusing topic.

When I had my first appointment with an endocrinologist he asked some questions and made an assumption about my health.  He assumed I had PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome).  He ran some tests and did an ultrasound.  His conclusion?  I had what he called polyfollicular ovaries.

Great.  What does that mean?  I never really did find out from him or anyone.  I tried to research it for years.  Nobody else used that term.  I have come to some of my own conclusions (as usual).  But it’s still confusing.

Many women with PCOS are overweight or have trouble maintaining their weight.  Many women with PCOS have irregular cycles and heavy, painful periods.  Many women with PCOS struggle with facial hair.  Did that sound like me?  Not really.  I just had no periods.

The common solutions for PCOS are losing weight, eating low carb and taking Metformin to help with insulin resistance.  Did I need any of that.  No.  In fact, eating low carb made my situation worse.

Where did that leave me?  Basically my body would try to grow some follicles/eggs each month.  But my hormone levels weren’t high enough to mature the eggs.  So instead of having one dominant follicle that released an egg (ovulation) I’d have lots of small follicles that did nothing but sit there.  Which on ultrasound looks like little cysts.  They are really just lots of follicles…polyfollicular.

Even when doing IVF I would have tons of follicles start growing.  But very few actually matured enough for the egg to be good (hence our seven rounds of IVF and two good eggs out of almost forty that were retrieved and fertilized).  That is also why I would have a condition called hyperstimulation every time.  There were too many follicles.

I still don’t have a full answer about what this means.  One endo said it’s from bad communication between the brain and the ovaries.  Could I technically be classified as having PCOS?  I don’t know.  I don’t really have the symptoms.  My condition is helped by being a healthy weight and taking care of myself.  Finding balance with sleep, exercise and food.  I also think it is related to my thyroid problem.

All this to say that if you have been diagnosed with PCOS please do your research to figure out where you fit into the criteria and what treatment is best for you.

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15 weeks

16. Let God have control.

I’ve known my whole life that ultimately God is in control.  But I also know I can make choices.  For most of my life I’ve tried to be in control.  I ask God for things I want.  I ask for things to go my way.  If things are good I say it’s God’s plan.  But when things aren’t going so well it’s hard to believe it’s still true.

I have such a strong desire to be in control that I could not let go on my own.  In 2013 God took the control out of my hands.  And it was wonderful.  It doesn’t mean that my life was great.  Actually it was very hard.  But it gave me such freedom to not have to hold every little detail of my life in perfect balance.  It was terrifying and wonderful at the same time.

It is so good to know and have proof that God really does have things in his control.  He knows what I need.  His plans may be different than mine.  His timing may be different than mine.  But I don’t have to worry about it.

On my own, trying to keep control, I probably would not have had any more children.  I would not have made the necessary changes on my own.  But with God in control we are expecting baby #3.  And the door is open for more.  That is something we can decide as a couple down the road.  But just to know the door is open, even if we decide not to have more kids, is amazing.

17. OCD does not have to control my life.

It’s no secret that I’ve struggled with pretty severe obsessive compulsive disorder for many years now.  I was finally diagnosed/finally realized that I had it about five years ago.  And I’ve been working on treating it ever since.

It has been a long and difficult journey.  No matter how much I told myself my compulsions were silly and illogical I couldn’t stop.  I went through a lot of exposure therapy and have made progress over the years.

Over the last seven months once again God has allowed me to change.  When He takes the control, my OCD does not have to control me.

Especially during the first trimester of this pregnancy I had to just let everything go.  I just had to do what I could to get through each day.  If that meant laying on the couch most of the day, then that’s what I did.  If that meant eating less than ideal food, then that’s what I did.  If that meant my digestion was so messed up that I was in pain, I didn’t let it bother me or make me anxious.  I just kept on going.

I’m so happy to be able to continue this process of eliminating my OCD.  My fear does not have to take control.  I can give it to God.  And I’m never going back to where I was.

It’s hard to think back to when I was first married.  It’s hard to think about all the time I wasted being consumed by my thoughts and compulsions.  I am very blessed to have such a loving husband that never judged or got upset with me.  He helped me through it.  And with each child I’ve let more of it go.  I’m a type A person.  So I will never be 100% cured from OCD.  It’s part of my nature.  But it will no longer control my life.  It will only be an asset and be used for good things.  It is what fuels the drive and determination I’ve always had.  But if it hinders my relationships or my life it has to go.

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Final Thoughts

It feels so good to share all of this information in hopes of helping even one other person.  But even more than that it feels good to write it out and be done with the things that have burdened me for so many years.  I know how to be healthy and happy.  I’m ready to move on to 2014 now.

As I mentioned at the beginning of this post I’ll be digging deeper into some of these topics later.  For now if you’d like to do some research on your own, here are some great resources I’ve come across.

The Nourished Metabolism (20% off 6/10/16 – 6/30/16 with coupon code SUMMER20)

Eat for Heat

Diet Recovery 2

The Nourished Metabolism (20% off 6/10/16 – 6/30/16 with coupon code SUMMER20)

Go Kaleo

Your Eatopia

Stop The Thyroid Madness

Natural Fertility and Wellness

What have you learned over the years about your health and how to really live?

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.

Would You Be Mine, Could You Be Mine, Won’t You Be My Sister?

A week ago I had the privilege of attending the Among Friends conference at Trinity Church in Lansing, MI.  It was a wonderful experience that I got to share with some of the women in my family.

Karen Hossink and Kathy Troccoli singing the closing song…way to go Karen!! 🙂

I have never been to a conference of any kind.  I hear about them and then forget about them.  But I have a friend that attends Trinity Church that helped organize this event.  She asked me if I was interested…and then reminded me…and probably reminded me again 😛  God was using her to give me a little nudge.

Finally I decided to just go.  I invited the women in my family to make it a girls’ weekend.  My husband even encouraged me to spend the night and have a little time to myself.  Plans set.  Let’s do it.  I was excited.

Well, of course the week leading up to the conference turned into one of the craziest weeks I’ve had in a long time.  Errands, doctor appointments, sick kids, kid’s activities, mom’s group, church events, etc.  I was in the middle of a bad round of die off and feeling worse than I have in a long time, on top of the usual anxiety related to travel.  The weather was bad too…freezing rain and snow.  And I had my first non-family member cake order (to be picked up about the time I was leaving for the conference).  Not to mention the “joy” of turning another year older 😛

I could have just said forget it.  I don’t feel good enough.  I’m too busy.  I’m too anxious.  I’m too stressed.  It’s too much.  But I didn’t.  God didn’t.  Nothing is too much for God.  He wanted me there.  He wanted me to hear the message.  He wanted me to spend time with my mom and my SIL.  He wanted to show me that He is bigger than all of my anxieties and physical pain.

As I was preparing to leave I was wondering what God was trying to teach me in all of this.  Why it had to be so tough to do something so simple.  Why it was so hard for me when I was trying to do something good.

But by the end of the weekend I had a different thought.  When things get tough it’s not always because God is trying to teach us a lesson.  Sometimes it’s because Satan knows us too…he knows our weaknesses, our struggles, our fears.  He wants to exploit them and use them to keep us from God. 

So while God may not have been trying to teach me anything through the struggles, He was with me through the struggles.  He did want me at that conference.  He was showing me that He is bigger than all of it.  He is taking care of me.  Satan can try as he may but he will not take me away from God or from hearing God’s message or from fulfilling the purpose God has for me.  And that is an awesome thing.

So, on to the conference.  I did make it.  And although I felt awful I also enjoyed every minute of it 🙂  That’s possible, right?  I had a lot of fun talking with my mom and my SIL.  It’s so important to spend time worshiping with the people you love.

There were three speakers: Kathy Troccoli, Jennifer Rothschild and Dr. Jeane Porter-King.  Kathy is the main presenter and singer and organizer of the event.  All three women had amazing stories and messages to share.  There was a lot of heartfelt praise and worship.

I would like to share a few notes from each presentation.  I just jotted down notes while I was there.  So these will be more like bulletin points. But hopefully you can take something from it.

Jennifer Rothschild:

  • We have to elevate our faith higher than our fear.  It may not be well with our circumstances, but it can be well with our souls (ummm…was she talking right to me? :P)
  • You could be missing out on a lot by clinging to fear.
  • Let faith lead you to the treasures in the dark.  The treasures are much more satisfying than fear.
  • You have to trust God more than your feelings.  Feeling is a gift from God.  Let it lead you to truth.
  • Faith is a choice.  Fear is a feeling..  Don’t let fear be the fact that governs you.
  • I can do all things through him who gives me strength (ten words…count them out on your fingers in front of you…God is always right there in front of you…use this as a reminder).
  • Your mind is like a closet…a thought closet.  Beware of what’s in your thought closet.  It’s what you wardrobe your life with.
  • We have expectations in our thought closet…you have to be aware of what they are…otherwise the enemy will be aware of them/use them against you.  And we can lose out on what we want most – healing.
  • Our thoughts need to line up with God’s thoughts.  We have to be in God’s Word.
  • Let others draw near to you and do the same for others (friendships, sisters).  We need a community of truthfulness that is real and encouraging.
  • Be a voice of encouragement.  Ask your friends three questions:
    • What do you see in my life that encourages you?
    • What do you see in my life that you would like to caution me about?
    • What else would you like to tell me?
  • We have to be completely honest and confidential and thorough.  You can be honest without being vulnerable.  But what you long for most won’t come without humility.  There is freedom and peace in humility.
  • I need Jesus far more than He needs me.

Dr. Jeane Porter-King:

  • God does great things when there are struggles.
  • Resist the rivalries (Martha type vs. Mary type) – we all have gifts. We can’t use them against each other.
  • Retire the rigid roles – we are too complex.  Who we are in Christ determines the roles we play.
  • Run to Jesus – turn confrontation into confession.
  • Remember your sisters – we are in it together.
  • Represent Christ to one another even through the pain, through any struggles in your life.
  • Don’t let people keep you in the past (the person you used to be).  Move to Jesus in whatever way you can.
  • God reveals things to us when we worship him.
  • We must open our hearts to what God wants us to do – “let our hair down.”
  • Be free to be who God called us to be.
  • Don’t get stuck in one role.

There were a few things that God laid on my heart through this conference.  First, I have to choose each day to serve and follow Christ.  I have to trust in Him and let my faith guide me instead of my fears.

Second, I talked about being a “doer of the Word” in a recent post.  And that has stuck with me.  But I wasn’t sure how to do that.  Well, you have to read God’s Word of course 😛  You can’t do it unless you know it.  It’s like trying to build something without reading the instructions.  You might put some pieces together, but you won’t get very far very fast.  You’d think I could figure that out without someone telling me.  Anyway, the way Kathy talked about God’s Word.  How real and alive it is.  How powerful it is.  It made me hungry for God’s Word.  Since I’ve been home I have been so excited to dive in and see what God wants to teach me each day.  I’m trying to start each day reading the Bible before I do anything else and let the busyness of life get in the way.

Finally I was reminded that I can’t do this alone.  I have to share my struggles with others.  I have to be open, honest, vulnerable and real.  But how do you do that when your struggles prevent you from building relationships?  My anxiety, my OCD, my dietary restrictions, my introverted nature, my daily job as a full time stay at home mom to young kids, my…you get the picture.  Talking to people is hard.  Making friends is harder.  Truly letting my guard down and letting people into my life and see the real me…next to impossible.  I think only my husband and my kids see that…mostly.

When I was in jr. high/high school I had a friend.  A best, best, best friend.  We did everything together.  We had different upbringings, different lifestyles, different personalities.  But that didn’t matter.  We were inseparable.  We shared a passion for Christ.  Together we dreamed about who we would marry, having kids, etc.  When I went away to college we didn’t see each other as often.  But we kept in touch through emails and periodic visits.  She was one of my bridesmaids when I got married.  But then some trials in her life took her away from me, from everyone that loved her and eventually from her home on earth.  I still miss her and think back on those days we had together with fond memories.  I have never had that kind of friendship since then.  I have never had anything even close to that kind of friendship since then.  It’s a void in my life that I have yet to fill.  Sometimes with all of my problems it seems like making any deep connections and friendships is next to impossible.

But nothing is impossible with God.  So I’ll keep trying.  I will continue to nourish my spirit with God’s Word.  I will seek to do what God asks of me.  And I will not get discouraged when Satan tries to deter me.  And I will try to share my journey with others.  I can’t do it alone.  Nobody can do it alone.  We should all be among friends.  So, would you be my sister?

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.

Mood, Brain, Diet – My Current Status

I’ve been wanting to write this post for some time now.  But I keep coming across new information.  And I’m still reading and researching.  (Not to mention I don’t have much time to write a long post these days with a little guy that can’t seem to sleep past 6am.)  But I wanted to give an update of what I’ve learned so far…before I forget it or read too much!  This is an update on my current status.  I’m sure it will continue to evolve and change as I learn, but for now this is where I’m at.  Since this has the potential to be another very long post I think I’ll save some of the detailed information for separate posts.

Last year I started GAPS.  And it was great.  I really think I experienced a lot of healing on my leaky gut.  But after 6 or 7 months I started to feel worse.  I struggled for a couple months wondering what was going on.  I had been doing so well, the OCD was improving, digestion was better, etc.  Then it went the opposite direction.  What happened?  I started getting more obsessive as I tried to do things “perfectly” to no avail.  My tummy got worse.  I got moodier and more anxious.  The holidays were rough being so over anxious and not feeling well.  This isn’t supposed to happen…that’s what I thought.  But after a month of research and changing my diet a bit I’ve learned a lot.  It is actually VERY common for that to happen.  Why?  I was eating way too low carb.  And possibly too much protein and fat for my body to handle.  I let my body get run down by not eating enough carbohydrates.  I let my brain chemicals get too low…which led to the increase in OCD, anxiety and bad moods…which leads to stomach knots.  I’m over tired, over stressed and just plain worn out.  My hormones are out of balance – adrenals, thyroid, progesterone, estrogen, testosterone, etc.  My brain chemicals are out of balance.  It’s one big mess 😛  I have been doing a lot of reading lately.  And most of what I read comes to the same conclusions about what is going on and what basic direction I need to head.

So I kind of know the problem (in general…my specific hormone/chemical needs are things I’ll have to figure out).  That in itself is a stress reliever and helps me relax.  But now that I’ve identified some issues, what can I do about them?

First – relax!!  This is the biggest thing for me.  If what I eat causes anxiety it doesn’t make much difference if it’s nourishing or junk food.  It will still cause me harm.  If the whole time I’m eating I’m worried a particular food will make me sick…then it will.  There is no magic pill or diet that works for everyone.  There is no one RIGHT way to eat/live (i.e. GAPS, paleo, primal, WAPF, gluten free, dairy free, vegetarian, etc.).  There is no one-size-fits-all.  I have to figure out what works for me no matter what any book, website, blog, doctor, etc. says.  Although GAPS was a great tool for healing my gut it was too rigid.  I got so worried about what I could and couldn’t eat and about eating the “wrong” thing.  I’d obsess over every meal/food when I didn’t feel well.  Was it this?  Was it that?  Why can’t I eat that…it’s “supposed” to be safe.  I’ve learned that I have to experiment and figure out what works for me.  Over the last few weeks I’ve really relaxed my diet.  I’ve thoroughly enjoyed eating bread, potatoes, rice, quinoa, yogurt, kefir, milk, ice cream.  I still don’t know how they will impact me or how I’ll really tolerate them in the long run.  But for now I’m just not worrying about it and enjoying food.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m still eating real, nourishing food.  But I’m not so strict about things in general.  Some days I get more veggies than others.  Some days I eat more eggs, some days less.  Some days I eat more fat, some days less, etc.  If I’m craving a lot of fruit one day I’ll eat it.  I’ve even had 3 ice cream cones in the past week (of homemade ice cream :).  Ice cream cones are my absolute favorite food ever.  And I haven’t had one since before Abram was born!!  It was so nice to relax and enjoy my favorite food again.  I didn’t have to go overboard like I used to (I used to make massive cones…that’s a whole different eating issue/mentality I used to have).  Just a small cone that I could enjoy without stuffing myself.  I need to relax and enjoy eating.  I can already tell that this has made a difference in my stress level and overall mood.  I’ve gained about 5 lbs. since Christmas since I’m relaxing and enjoying so much food 🙂  I’m learning I will never get rid of my digestive issues if I continue to worry about food and restrict my eating.  I need to eat enough and not worry about it.

There is another type of relaxing that is a bit tougher…a generally relaxed life.  With a strong willed 3 1/2 year old and a very busy toddling, early rising baby there is never a dull moment around here.  I don’t have much time to myself/time that I can truly decompress and fully relax.  My mind never gets to “turn off.”  Especially since nobody but Justin can watch Abram at this point.  He has such stranger anxiety that even his own grandmothers can’t hold him.  So he is ALWAYS with me…when I’m home, when I’m at MOPS, when I’m at church, when I run errands, etc.  I love him.  But sometimes I just need a little break.  So that is something I need to work on.  But at the same time it may not change much while I have small children.  One thing I would like to look into to help is yoga.  I would like to do yoga a few mornings a week instead of biking.

Another big component that I read about over and over is getting enough sleep.  This is another big one for me.  Due to my OCD and trying to get a few free min. in my day I get up at 4 am every morning.  I use this time to do work in the kitchen, exercise, read, shower, get ready for the day before the kids are up, etc.  Even getting up at 4 doesn’t always give me much time with a baby that gets up so early.  In addition to getting up early I’m usually up a couple times in the night feeding Abram.  That is just the life of a breastfeeding mom.  But it all leads to major sleep deprivation.  Which leads to major hormonal imbalances and always being stressed out and worn out.  I consider it a good night if I get 3 consecutive hours of sleep once.  Pretty sad.  I need to put more effort into getting more sleep.  I’m not sure at this point how to go about doing this.  I can’t control Abram’s sleeping.  But I would like to adjust my mornings so that I can sleep in a little sometimes.  And go to bed earlier sometimes.  One night this week I went to bed at 9 instead of 10:30.  That sure was nice!

Relaxing and sleeping are two key components.  Now I get down to the rest of the details.  I have read several books and several diet theories lately.  There is a lot of overlap in the information I have read.  So I do have some direction.  But I also have to figure out what works for me.  One of the main components of health (especially mine) is the health of your brain.  Many conditions that are said to be “psychological” are actually physical…they are caused by chemical imbalances in the brain…and they can be fixed!  There is so much information on this topic.  I am going to speak in very general terms/only skim the surface of what I’ve read.  I highly recommend reading on this subject to everyone!  I read “Change Your Brain Change Your Life,” “The Mood Cure” and “The Edge Effect.”  All three books talk about the four main chemicals/amino acids that control your mood – dopamine, acetylcholine, GABA and serotonin.  Everybody is dominant in one of these and it is what determines their nature/personality.  Any or all of them can be out of balance…which causes psychological disorders and physical ailments.  I believe that I am out of balance/low in both GABA and serotonin…which greatly contributes to the OCD, anxiety, constipation, inability to relax, overactive parasympathetic nervous system, hypothyroidism and infertility.  GABA and serotonin both help the brain/body to relax.

What can I do about it?  Well, that’s a bit tricky.  All three books agree on some aspects, but greatly disagree on others.  I tend to put the most trust in the information in “The Mood Cure.”  Although the other authors have years of experience and lots of great info, I can’t fully support someone that tells you to stop eating saturated fat and instead eat polyunsaturated fats.  One book even says that aspartame is good for increasing dopamine levels.  Artificial sweeteners?  No thanks!  They all talk about medications, supplements, diet and lifestyle.  As always my first line of defense is diet.  I am gathering ideas/info from these books along with the theories of metabolic typing and blood type diets.  I see where they all overlap, experiment and decide if it works for me or not.  But here are some of the key components that I feel will help me.

DIET

1. Carbohydrates – I need to find the right balance of protein, fat and carbohydrates.  I was eating way too low carb for a while.  I need to increase my carbohydrate intake.  I am still trying to figure out how much of that should be fruits and vegetables and how much (if any) should be grains and starches.  I will have to experiment with the grains and starches.  See how I do with each kind, especially those containing gluten.  All of the sources I’ve looked into recommend a decent amount of carbohydrates in my diet.  My blood type, metabolic type and brain chemical imbalance all require plenty of carbohydrates.

2. Protein – This is where “The Mood Cure” shines.  Julia Ross emphasizes the importance of getting enough protein in your diet (all 3 books do, but she really goes into it.).  Getting your brain chemistry back in balance is accomplished by getting the proper amino acids.  And where do we get amino acids?  Protein!!!  It’s the only source.  And animal protein is the only complete source.  For example, serotonin is produced by tryptophan…which comes from things like poultry.  Ross recommends at least 20-30g of protein three times a day (at each meal).  I think I do pretty well with protein in general.  Although as I’ve mentioned before I struggle with beef.  Which is frustrating because it’s so healthy.  I thought it was fascinating (and reassuring) to read this from Ross:

“Note: For better protein digestion, people with Type A blood seem to do best adding supplements of hydrochloric acid when eating animal protein, as they are known to be weak in this protein- (and mineral-) digesting acid.”  I do have Type A blood.  I guess I’m on the right track taking my stomach acid with dinner.  Maybe I need to order more and start using it at each meal again for a while.

Ross also talks about the importance of eating fish.  “It’s so quick to prepare, so easy to digest, and contains, along with plenty of all twenty-two aminos, the unique omega-3 fat that your brain needs to correctly form the cells in your brain, your eyes, and the lining of your arteries, among other things.”

Her list of great sources of protein (in order) include” fish; poultry (especially cornish game hens due to their good balance of omega-3 and omega-6 fats); eggs; lamb, beef, pork, venison and buffalo; dairy products and shellfish.

3. Fat – This is another important factor.  It is also one where I see “The Mood Cure” really shining again.  Julia Ross recognizes the importance of omega-3 fats and saturated fats and decreasing omega-6 fats.  This is actually one area that I don’t really need to work on.  I eat quite a bit of fat.  Daily I eat coconut oil, butter and EVOO.  I also eat raw egg yolks daily (often 2-4 a day).  I eat avocados daily (anywhere from 1/2 – 1 1/2).  Plus I take a decent amount of fermented cod liver oil/butter oil.  In addition to that I get fat from the protein sources I eat – meat, dairy, nuts, etc. (I do eat nuts sparingly so as to not get too many omega-6 fats).

4. Eating Enough – This is another key component for me.  I am not a big person.  And I hate feeling too full.  So I tend to undereat I think.  To my body that is a sign of starvation…which leads to anxiety, imbalances, etc.  So I am trying to push myself a little to eat more.  Like I said earlier I have gained 5 lbs. recently.  So I think it’s working.  Just a few extra pounds gets me out of the underweight category and improves my mood.  Undereating also can be a cause for constipation.  If you don’t eat enough your body will hold on to what it has and try to suck out every last nutrient it can.

5. Variety –  I tend to find something that “works” and then eat it day after day.  But then it stops working as my body adjusts and starts digesting it differently.  So I need to keep changing things.  Even if I eat the same foods regularly I need to rotate them, take breaks and then bring them back, etc.

6. What to Avoid – sugar, caffeine, simple carbohydrates (white flour, etc.), artificial sweeteners, colorings, artificial ingredients, additives, soy.
SUPPLEMENTS
All three books recommend basically the same supplements for the same conditions.  Since all of the books are written by experienced psychologists and say the same thing I believe there is a lot of validity to it.  I hope to do separate posts on the specific brain chemicals and the corresponding moods and disorders.  For now I’ll just mention the supplements that could help.  I also want to mention that as badly as I want to try these I’m not yet.  I just don’t know if they are safe while breastfeeding.  I will start with diet and relaxation techniques.  And if I really think I need to start the major supplements I’ll probably see my psychologist to get her thoughts.

1. Serotonin – This important chemical comes from the amino acid tryptophan.  The most commonly recommended supplement to increase it is 5-HTP.  Tryptophan converts into 5-HTP…and 5-HTP converts directly into serotonin.  If 5-HTP doesn’t work there is l-tryptophan, St.-John’s-wort, and SAM-e.  I want to include a short portion of what Julie Ross says about your gut and serotonin:

“If you’ve lived wtih your stomach in knots because of low serotonin worry or anxiety, it might help you to know that 90 percent of the serotonin in your body is not in your brain; it’s in your gut.  When you raise your serotonin levels, your digestive tension (including constipation) can often dissolve along with your mental constriction.”  Sounds a lot like the GAPS theory to me 🙂

2. GABA – This is the brain’s natural Valium.  You can take GABA, taurine and glycine.

3. Magnesium

4. Vitamin B

LIFESTYLE

1. Exercise – Exercise is a natural stress reliever.  It helps increase serotonin.  But you also have to be sure to not overexert yourself.  Otherwise you can have adrenal fatigue.

2. Sleep – ideally at least 7 hours a night.  I haven’t figured out my plan yet to try to get more sleep.  I’m afraid that will just have to come with time…as Abram gets older and sleeps through the night.

3. Relaxation – I need to find ways to relax.  I’d like to try yoga.

That is the basic rundown of where things are at right now.  I’m experimenting and seeing what works for me.  I’m staying open to changes.  I now know that just because something starts out great does not mean it will work forever.  I need to be cautious of extremes and try to find a good balance in my life.  I am currently eating grains and dairy.  But both could potentially be hard on me.  Again, I’m experimenting right now.

I did want to mention that it is kind of funny that in college although I was not eating healthy by my current standards, maybe I had my ratios in a better balance.  I rarely ate red meat.  And I ate plenty of carbs.  And that was the only time in my life that I ever had regular cycles.  So my hormones were a bit better balanced.  Maybe I had things somewhat right…but I was eating junk food instead of real food.  Now maybe I can bring it all full circle, eat the proper ratios, eat nourishing foods and get my body back on track.  Only time will tell.  But I already feel like my mood and anxiety has greatly improved in just the last week.

Finally I want to mention one more source of great health information that I’m just starting to dig into.  It’s called 180 Degree Health.  Matt Stone (the author) has a lot of controversial theories and health ideas.  But a lot of it makes sense.  He talks about letting your body totally rest, feed it well and getting back in balance.  This is something I actually heard about a couple years ago, downloaded his info…and then forgot about it 😛  But I’m hearing about it more and more again lately.  So we’ll see what comes of my research on that.

I’ve been kind of rushed getting through this post.  I hope it makes sense and conveys what I wanted.  I’d love to hear feedback, hear of any success stories of others that have used diet and supplements to improve both mental and physical disorders.

This post is linked to Real Food Wednesdays at Kelly the Kitchen Kop.

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.

ADD…Could It Be?

After reading Change Your Brain Change Your Life I am wondering if Rebecca has ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder).  It has often crossed my mind since we are constantly telling her to pay attention (she always seems like she is thinking about/preoccupied with something else and not paying attention to what’s going on) but I never really knew all of the signs/symptoms.  And I knew she could sit and read for hours, so I figured she couldn’t have it.  But after reading more about ADD I now wonder if she in fact does have it.

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I want to start by saying I am just a mom trying to figure out how to best relate to and raise my daughter.  I am not a doctor.  I can not diagnose her with anything.  But I can gather information and try techniques to see if they improve her behavior.  I am not trying to label her with any disorder.  I just want to figure out how to give her what she needs.  And since her behavior sounds a lot like ADD I am going to look into some ways to work with it and see how it goes.  I know a lot of this behavior can be common for a 3 year old and will change with maturity.  I know many kids are labeled with ADD that do not really have it.  I know a lot of her behavior is a result of how Justin and I respond to her.  Rebecca is very sweet and very bright.  I am actually amazed daily by how smart she is for her age.  My goal is to use some of the techniques suggested for ADD behavior to see if she responds to them.  It is not to try to diagnose her with ADD.  I also want this post to be helpful and informational for others that want to learn about ADD.  I have discussed all of this with my pediatrician.  He confirmed that it is something to take note of and keep an eye on and evaluate as Rebecca gets older.  Hopefully as she matures she will be able to slow her thinking to be able to focus better.
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I also want to say that this is going to be a pretty lengthy post.  But I decided to put everything in one post so that anyone else looking for information on ADD/struggling with similar issues has all of the information in one spot instead of having to look around or wait for future posts.  This is also why it took a while to get it posted 🙂

So, what is ADD?  It stems from a problem with the prefrontal cortex.  This part of the brain controls attention span, perseverance, judgement, impulse control, organization, self-monitoring and supervision, problem solving, critical thinking, forward thinking, learning from experience, ability to feel and express emotions, interaction with the limbic system (this controls emotions/memories/appetite) and empathy.

I’ll go one by one through the symptoms of ADD and how I see that in Rebecca.

1. The harder you try the worse it gets.
The more people with ADD try to concentrate, the worse things get for them.  The activity of the pfc actually turns down, rather than turning up.  When a parent…puts more pressure on a person with ADD to perform, he or she often becomes less effective…In parenting…someone with ADD, it is more effective to use praise and encouragement, rather than pressure.  People with ADD do best in environments that are highly interesting or stimulating and relatively relaxed.”

I see this every day with Rebecca.  One of the major areas this relates to is her eating issues.  She can’t focus on eating (a mundane, non-stimulating task…instead she’s talking, singing, wanting to read, paying attention to everything else around her…anything but her plate/food), so we start to tell her to eat.  This creates pressure and tension, which actually makes it harder for her to focus and do what she is supposed to.  To us it appears that she is not listening/not obeying, so we get more frustrated and put more pressure on her.  It just goes downhill from there.  And she ends up stressed and not able to eat.  This happens with any day-to-day task…going potty, getting dressed, eating, cleaning, etc.  She can’t focus because it’s not stimulating.  So we get frustrated and put more pressure on her/keep telling her to do whatever the task is.  And in most cases it ends up with yelling or a meltdown/time out.  I even see this when we do school work.  The more times I tell her to try something or do something again the more she seems to struggle and lose focus and get frustrated/discouraged.

2. Short attention span
People with ADD have trouble sustaining attention and effort over prolonged periods of time.  Their attention tends to wander and they are frequently off task, thinking about or doing things other than the task at hand.  Yet one of the things that often fools inexperienced clinicians…is that people with ADD do not have a short attention span for everything.  Often, people with ADD can pay attention just fine to things that are new, novel, highly stimulating, interesting or frightening.  These things provide enough intrinsic stimulation that they activate the pfc so the person can focus.  A child with ADD might do very well in a one-on-one situation and completely fall apart in a classroom…People with ADD have long-standing problems paying attention to regular, routine, everyday matters…The mundane is terrible for them, and it is NOT a choice.  They need excitement and interest to kick in their pfc function.”

Again this relates to our daily struggles with Rebecca to go potty, get dressed, eat, pick up toys, etc.  We can tell her to do something 20 times, try to be patient, say it in a positive happy voice, etc.  But she just can’t do it.  She will tell you a story, sing a song, ask questions, focus on her little brother, notice anything else in the room, etc.  But she won’t complete the task at hand.  Again, this creates frustration for us…which leads to impatience…which leads to frustration for her.  If we are in a social setting it is like pulling teeth to get her to focus on what we are saying.  When it is time to leave Kindermusik and she has to put her shoes on, I can be in her face telling her to do it and she seems like she is off in la-la land watching all of the other kids.  It’s like I don’t even exist.  I have to physically turn her face so she is looking straight at me and can hear what I’m saying.  This was the section I found particularly interesting and made me really wonder if Rebecca has ADD.  Now I know she can focus on the things she likes and that stimulate her.  But (not by choice) she really struggles with the daily tasks.  Which is the source of most of our daily battles and frustrations.  This is also why Rebecca can read for hours.  She loves stories, hearing what will happen next.  It is stimulating to her.  Her favorite thing to play is some type of character/pretending.  Especially if one of us will play with her.  It’s actually hard to “play.”  She repeatedly tells you to make the character say or do something.  Or asks you what they are saying.

3. Distractability
When the pfc is underactive it doesn’t adequately dampen the sensory parts of the brain, and too many stimuli bombard the brain as a result…while listening, in class…the person with ADD tends to notice other things going on and has trouble staying focused on the issue at hand.  People with ADD tend to look around the room, drift off, appear bored, forget where the conversation is going, and interrupt with extraneous information.”

I see this daily with Rebecca.  Sometimes it’s like I’m talking to a brick wall or that I don’t exist.  I can talk to her, but it’s like she does not  hear me and is always thinking about something else.  When I really want her to pay attention I tell her to look me in the eyes.  But even that she has trouble with.  She can look at me for a few seconds and then starts to look at something else.  I have to keep refocusing her.  One thing I have noticed is that her behavior got worse after Abram was born.  I figured that’s common.  No big deal.  But now I wonder if Abram is enough of a distraction for her that it makes focusing that much harder.  When it’s time to get dressed she’s more interested in what he’s doing.  Since he is always with us, is unpredictable and always doing something new he provides her with stimulation…and something more fun to think about than daily tasks.  It was definitely easier to get her to focus when it was always one-on-one (Mommy/Rebecca).  Rebecca also always seems like she is thinking about something.  There is always a story or idea in her head that she needs to get out.  If you tell her to do something (like pick up toys) her immediate response is “but first…”  There is always something on her mind, something that she needs to do that is distracting her before she can focus on what she should be doing.

4. Impulsivity
ADD people may say inappropriate things to parents, friends, teachers, etc.  Poorly thought out decisions also relate to impulsivity.  Rather than thinking a problem through, many ADD people want an immediate solution and act without necessary forethought.  They say the first thing that comes to mind.

This characteristic is not quite as obvious in Rebecca since she is 3…and does not have good discernment yet about what she says.  But she does often speak without thinking about the reality of the situation.  If she wants something and I tell her no, her immediate response is to think that something is permanent or hopeless…”I’ll never get it” or “Now it’s gone forever.”  She is also not self aware at all.

5. Conflict seeking
Many people with ADD unconsciously seek conflict as a way to stimulate their own pfc.  They do not know they do it.  They do not plan to do it.  They deny they do it.  And yet they do it just the same.  Hyperactivity, restlessness, and humming are common forms of self-stimulation.  [As is] causing turmoil.  The parents of children with ADD commonly report that the kids are experts at upsetting them.  When parents stop providing the negative stimulation (yelling, lecturing, etc.) these children decrease the negative behaviors.  Another common self-stimulating behavior is worrying or focusing problems.  A significant problem with using anger, emotional turmoil and negative emotion for self-stimulation is damage to the immune system.  The high levels of adrenaline produced by conflict-driven behavior decrease the immune system’s effectiveness and increase vulnerability to illness.  Many folks with ADD tend to be in constant turmoil with one or more people.  They seem to unconsciously choose people who are vulnerable and pick battles with them.  Many children and adults with ADD have a tendency to embarrass others for little or no good reason.”

Although it’s probably not a conscious choice, Rebecca definitely knows how to get a reaction out of us.  Lately her favorite thing is to say “No!” when we ask her to do something.  She knows what behavior will put her in timeout.  When she’s in timeout she knows that it makes us made if she kicks the walls…so that’s usually the first thing she does (until she realizes we’re ignoring it).  And she LOVES to get Abram riled.  She goes crazy when he starts laughing, etc. at the things she does.  Unfortunately when she gets stimulated and silly then she gets naughty and starts hurting people (hitting, pushing, pulling hair, etc.).

6. Disorganization.
ADD includes disorganization of space…as well as time.  People with ADD tend to have many piles of ‘stuff.’  They are chronically late or put things off until the last minute.  They also tend to lose track of time.”

Rebecca is not organized at all.  Considering that she has two very Type A parents this is kind of surprising.  She hates putting things away and leaves things on the floor/where she was playing with them when she got distracted and moved on to something else.  She will pile things up anywhere.  She also has no sense of being on time.  She does not like to be rushed at all.  Getting out the door on time with her is a big challenge.

7. Start many projects but finish few
The energy and enthusiasm of people with ADD often push them to start many projects.  Unfortunately, their distractability and short attention span impair their ability to complete them.”

If you saw my house by the end of the day you’d know that Rebecca gets out a LOT of toys.  Sometimes I feel like I can barely walk through the house by mid day.  Every room has toys and books scattered all over the floor.  Rebecca often gets something out to play with it.  But 5 mintues later she is distracted by something and just leaves it there.  Then she sees another toy she wants to play with and so on.  I have been bothered for some time now by how many toys we have in the living room.  I like to have things available for the kids and to let them have free play.  But I’m wondering now if it is too stimulating for Rebecca (I know it’s anxiety inducing for me…too much chaos!).  This may be my final motivation to really pare down how many toys we have out at one time.  Maybe if there were only a few things out each day to choose from she could focus better.  That being said, if I have time to sit down one-on-one with her and play she could play the same thing for an hour.  I can keep her focus.  But if she’s on her own she goes from one thing to the next.  And she just leaves things where they are…she never cleans something up or moves it out of the way before moving on.

8. Moodiness and negative thinking
Many people with ADD tend to be moody, irritable and negative.  An underactive pfc leads to mood control issues.  Many people with ADD worry or become overfocused on negative thoughts as a form of self-stimulation.  If they cannot seek turmoil from others, they seek it within themselves.”

Rebecca…moody?  Never 😛  She definitely worries if anything goes wrong (I’m sure she inherited this from me…I’m working on helping her with it).  Something as simple as her cup falling on the floor can cause her to start making noises/panicking.  She also has a fatalistic attitude.  If a toy gets taken away then she’ll “never get it back.”
Those are the symptoms of ADD.  I’m sure all 3 year olds have some degree of them.  But Rebecca seems to have all of them.  And some of them pretty severe.  Just yesterday we were at the dentist.  I was continually calling Rebecca’s name to come take off her coat (she was playing with the toys in the waiting room…new stimulation.).  It was like she didn’t hear me even though I was two steps away.  Then 3 little girls came out and headed to the toys.  It was like Rebecca was instantly in another world.  I was right next to her telling her to pick up her hat and stuffed monkey.  I could have been blowing a fog horn and she wouldn’t have batted an eye.  She looked like she was in a trance just enthralled with them.  I had to physically pull her away and get her attention.  The other girls didn’t pay any attention to Rebecca.  They were oblivious to her.  But Rebecca could not turn away from them.  She stood there like a zombie.  As I said before I can’t say for sure she has ADD.  But based on her behavior it really seems like it.

So, now that you know what ADD is what can you do about it?

The idea is to learn total focus.  Here are some techniques to accomplish leading a focused life and healing the pfc.

1. Develop clear goals.
Set goals for every area of your life (relationships, work, money, self) and write them down.  Then review them every day.  This is somewhat tough with a small child.  But it can still be done.  A while back we came up with our “house rules.”  We used to read them daily…then we got out of the habit.  I am trying to do it again.  This helps Rebecca stay focused on proper behavior and what is acceptable.  In addition I would like to write out other goals with her about how she wants to relate to us, how she wants to learn, etc.  Very basic goals, but still something to help her focus.

2. Focus on what you like instead of what you don’t like.
“Focusing on what you like about your life and on what you like about others is a powerful way to keep your pfc healthy.”  This is something that parents really need to help with.  A child with ADD needs lots of praise and encouragement.  I need to focus on all of the little things Rebecca does daily that are good instead of just noticing the things she does wrong.  I have already started doing this.  I try really hard to tell her every time she is eating nicely.  So far I think it’s helping quite a bit.  We actually haven’t had many food battles over the last few days.  It’s nice.

3. Have meaning, purpose, stimulation and excitement in your life.
All of these things will help stimulate the pfc in a positive way.  This was what brought about my experiments last week with doing lots of new, fun things every day.  I had a mixed response.  There were some things that Rebecca really loved and helped her to focus.  But other things seemed to make it worse.  I think the trick is finding balance (I think maybe we had too much good stimulation some days…we do need some down/normal time as well) and finding what particular things Rebecca enjoys/that excite her.  Just because I think something is fun doesn’t mean she will…in which case she won’t be able to focus on it.  Rebecca can easily be overstimulated, like when people visit.  She gets so excited that she can’t control herself.  So we need to figure out a good balance for her.

4. Get organized.
This is another thing that parents really need to help with.  I need to get Rebecca’s toys, school supplies, etc. much better organized.  Since things are so scattered she can’t focus.  Another thing is to break down large tasks into smaller ones.  Rebecca is easily overwhelmed by cleaning up her whole bedroom when there is a mess.  But if I can get her to focus on picking up one particular item at a time then she does a lot better.

5. Don’t be your child’s stimulant.
This is one for the parents.  People with ADD seek conflict…which usually means conflict with parents.  So we have to be in control and not be our child’s negative stimulant.  The main way to do this…stop yelling.  I am a soft spoken person.  I don’t like to raise my voice.  But inevitably after the 15th time of trying to get Rebecca to do something it goes up…and sometimes leads to yelling.  It’s not healthy for either of us.  But the frustration takes over.  The solution is the exact opposite.  If you maintain a low voice and calm demeanor the child can’t use you as a stimulant.  If a child raises her voice, you should continually lower yours.  It may take time, but she will learn that you are not a stimulant…and the behavior will stop.  Sometimes it’s tough to stay calm.  In some cases you have to step away from the situation.  And other times humor can help.  I am finding all of these to be very helpful.  If I give Rebecca about 5 chances to do what I ask but there is still no progress I walk away for a few minutes.  Often when I come back I find her doing what I asked.

6. Listen to Mozart.
This is kind of interesting theory.  There have been studies done that show that children that listen to Mozart can have better focus and mood control, diminished impulsivity and improved social skill.  I think any rhythmic, relaxing music will have similar results.  I guess going to Kindermusik may be more helpful for Rebecca than we thought.

7. Nutrition.
This is a big one for me since I’m passionate about health.  This particular book suggests a high protein, low carb diet that is relatively low in fat.  This includes meat, eggs, cheese, nuts and legumes mixed with a healthy portion of vegetables.  Also, eliminating simple sugars and simple carbs can have a positive impact on energy level and cognition.  The idea behind this is to raise dopamine levels in the brain.  I can’t subscribe to this 100%.  I don’t believe a low fat diet is good for anyone, especially children.  But I do think that getting a better balance of protein and carbs is critical.  As is cutting out sugar and simple carbs.  My goal for Rebecca is to continue to feed her plenty of healthy fat daily (butter, cod liver oil, EVOO, coconut oil, etc.) and make sure she gets plenty of protein.  With children it’s so easy to give high carbohydrate snacks and make that a big portion of their meals.  I’m really trying to make sure Rebecca eats plenty of protein and veggies with a moderate amount of complex carbohydrates.  And of course cut out the sugar!

So this is where we are at right now.  We are learning the symptoms and the tools to deal with them.  We are learning how to feed her well.  And we’re taking it one day at a time.  But there is another factor that comes into play.  Rebecca’s intellect.  She is very smart.  Sometimes I wonder if that is part of her stumbling block.  She is always taking everything in (she has done this ever since she was born).  She wants to learn, learn, learn.  So is it ADD or is she just too smart for her own good? 😛  Only time will tell I guess.  I am anxious to see how she does in preschool next year.  I think that will give a better picture.  If she can’t focus in school/in a social setting then we may have to look more into ADD.  But if she really excels then maybe she just wants to learn a lot and needs time to mature.  We are looking forward to watching her grow and develop.  And we as parents will do our best to give her an environment in which she can thrive, focus and grow.

How about you?  Do you struggle with similar issues with your child?  Do you have experience with ADD?  Do you have any tools that have worked.  I’d love to hear about it!

This post is linked to Fat Tuesday at Real Food Forager.

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.