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The idea of force feeding a picky eater sounds cruel. But it might be just what your child needs to get back on track!

Should You Force Feed a Picky Eater?

The idea of force feeding a picky eater sounds cruel. But it might be just what your child needs to get back on track!

The idea of force feeding a picky eater sounds cruel. But it might be just what your child needs to get back on track!

I am a big fan of gentle parenting. I like to let my kids make decisions, learn from their mistakes, listen to their bodies and follow their passions.

Really it is a great way to parent.

I want my kids to mature and be independent thinkers, not control their every move.

But that went out the window with my youngest when she was struggling to eat anything. She couldn’t listen to her body anymore because all she heard was fear.

Food meant pain. Food meant allergic reaction after allergic reaction. And she was too little to communicate how she felt. So she simply stopped eating.

What did I do?

I forced her to eat.

Now, before you become alarmed let me explain.

When my daughter was at the point of being afraid to eat I had to convince her brain and her belly that food could be safe. Which meant getting a few bites down.

Sometimes that meant giving her a few tortilla chips. Sometimes that meant offering her a cookie. The actual food didn’t matter. Just getting something in her empty stomach was the key.

But sometimes there was no food that would entice her enough to take a bite. And yes, sometimes I did have to try physically pushing a little bit of food into her mouth to get past the initial fear. But she sure is good at dodging that!

The idea of force feeding a picky eater sounds cruel. But it might be just what your child needs to get back on track!

Enter my Secret Weapon – Nourishing drinks!

Often with picky eaters or children having allergic reactions half of the battle is the chewing process. So I skipped that and started offering delicious drinks. To my great joy my daughter started drinking them!

Want to know what happened next?

She started eating solid food again! Simply getting some safe, nourishing food in her system was enough to replenish nutrients and stimulate her appetite. And that is such a critical point.

To be clear, this did NOT happen over night. This was a long process with many setbacks like new reactions and illness. Then it was back to square one of living on nutrient-dense drinks until she was refueled enough to eat again. This has been a two year journey!

he idea of force feeding a picky eater sounds cruel. But it might be just what your child needs to get back on track!

Variety is Key.

One key to using drinks for nourishment is variety. We all need an assortment of vitamins and minerals every day and every week. This is especially true for kids with allergies that need to rotate food.

Picky eaters are at risk for nutritional deficiencies. In fact, these deficiencies often cause picky eating in the first place! 

So I set out to create an assortment of delicious drinks that covered a broad spectrum of nutrients to alleviate the picky eating. And I want to share it with you!

If you struggle with any of the following in your child, this book is for you!

  • picky eating
  • oral sensory processing disorder
  • allergies
  • refusal to eat certain textures
  • slow weight gain/underweight
  • won’t eat many fruits and vegetables
  • won’t eat meat
  • craves starch/carbs
  • holds food in mouth/struggles with chewing

Want to know who else it’s for? Any parents that want to boost their child’s nutrition! Yes, this book really is for everyone.

The idea of force feeding a picky eater sounds cruel. But it might be just what your child needs to get back on track!

What’s in it?

I offer simple, nourishing drinks to help get any picky eater back on track to full health and appetite. Kids and adults alike will love these drinks that include fun flavors like apple pie a la mode and peach cobbler. The recipes in Easy Nourishment For Picky Eaters work for those with allergies. They are even safe for children as young as 6 months. Don’t let picky eating get in the way of good health. Drink your way to a well-nourished body.

Yes, there are some days that I still have to “force” my daughter to eat…just get her to take one bite and remind her that food is not scary. Her favorite way is with a “chocolate shake” loaded with healthy fats and gut-healing collagen. That is my kind of force feeding!

The idea of force feeding a picky eater sounds cruel. But it might be just what your child needs to get back on track!

It can be hard to feed an undernourished child. But take heart! He can be nourished with simple, nutrient-dense drinks. The best part is he won’t even know.

Do you have a picky eater? Did you know there could be a root cause?

Boost those nutrients and watch that picky eating turn around!

The idea of force feeding a picky eater sounds cruel. But it might be just what your child needs to get back on track!

Looking for more than nourishing drinks? Check out my other book Why Won’t My Child Eat?! that has in-depth information about how to assess and deal with a picky eater.

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.

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.

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.

Getting my kids in the kitchen has been one of my favorite things to do since before my oldest could even walk. But fun and games aside, this is the real reason I'm teaching my kids to cook.

The REAL Reason I’m Teaching My Kids To Cook

Getting my kids in the kitchen has been one of my favorite things to do since before my oldest could even walk. But fun and games aside, this is the real reason I’m teaching my kids to cook. Getting my kids in the kitchen has been one of my favorite things to do since before my oldest could even walk. But fun and games aside, this is the real reason I'm teaching my kids to cook.

 

“It’s a good thing I like to cook.”

I made that comment to my husband earlier this week. And I really meant it.

With all of the varying allergies in our house cooking is a full time job. I’m not joking. I spend half of my day in the kitchen.

It’s a rare treat if I can come up with a meal the whole family can eat. There is no such thing as convenience food (unless you mean a box of raisins.). Eating out? That’s a thing people do?

Even as we look ahead to visiting family this summer I have to do the meal planning. I don’t get a break whether I’m home or traveling.Getting my kids in the kitchen has been one of my favorite things to do since before my oldest could even walk. But fun and games aside, this is the real reason I'm teaching my kids to cook.

Nobody else can cook for my family.

There is no substitute for me. Even my husband doesn’t know how to cook.

It doesn’t matter if I’m sick.

It doesn’t matter if I’m tired.

If I don’t cook, my kids don’t eat.

I happily accept the challenge of keeping my kids well fed and healthy. It is actually my passion.

The REAL Reason I'm teaching my kids to cook - and it's not to get me off the hook!

Everyone deserves a break.

But let’s be honest. Everyone needs a break sometimes. If you don’t get one, that passion fades a little. The joy of cooking isn’t quite the same when your food is reduced to a handful of safe options. And I don’t have ten hours a day to cook.

Have you tried cooking when you can’t let one person’s food touch another’s food? You must use a new knife for everything you cut. Did I stick that spoon in this pot or that one? Better get a clean one just to be safe. What rotation day are we on? Better check so we know what your snack options are. Does this measuring cup have latex? Gotta wash my hands after I add the flour to the bowl (or buy new measuring cups). Everyone must wash up as soon as they are done eating so you don’t get an allergen on anything.

Nothing is easy.

Easy meals like sandwiches are a big undertaking. It requires me to make my own lunch meat and bake a minimum of two kinds of bread. Pizza…three separate crusts, two kinds of sauce, different toppings, some with and some without cheese, bake on separate pans, use different pizza cutters. Not so easy.

Cooking and eating at my house is like a very delicate juggling act. Fun in some ways. Not as fun in others. And one little slip up and it comes tumbling down.

Cooking is a learned skill.

When I got married I really had no idea how to cook. I had a handful of things I could make. But not very well. And most of them involved packaged foods.

Over the years I have taught myself to cook. I have learned to be creative in the kitchen with evolving food restrictions and new diets. I always gladly accept each new challenge. I’m thankful I get to share my journey and my creations with you!

The REAL Reason I'm teaching my kids to cook - and it's not to get me off the hook!

I want some replacements.

But my kids won’t be little forever. I won’t be in control of what they eat when they grow up. I can’t make choices for them when they are not home.

I want to empower my kids to take control of their own health and understand how to eat well in spite of their allergies. I want to share my passion for real food with my children.

Yes, we are working on and hopeful for healing. It would be wonderful if someday we can all eat the same food and a much larger variety of food. But that is not guaranteed.

What I can for sure give my kids is the knowledge and ability to cook and care for themselves.Getting my kids in the kitchen has been one of my favorite things to do since before my oldest could even walk. But fun and games aside, this is the real reason I'm teaching my kids to cook.

Here’s the plan!

That’s where the Kids Cook Real Food eCourse comes in. We started it back in January. But I’ll be honest – life was crazy busy. We only did it sporadically.

When we did do the course my kids LOVED it. And they learned so much. Now they are always begging me to help in the kitchen.

I’ve been anxiously waiting for summer so we can dive back in and really get cooking.

The real reason I'm teaching my kids to cook - and it's not so I can take it easy.

Sound good? Go check out The Kids Cook Real Food eCourse!

You can do beginner, intermediate or advanced or get all access if you have kids of all ages and skill levels. There is something for everyone. Do it at your own pace and watch the videos whenever it fits in your schedule.Getting my kids in the kitchen has been one of my favorite things to do since before my oldest could even walk. But fun and games aside, this is the real reason I'm teaching my kids to cook.

Lofty goals.

My first goal for this summer is to have my eight year old be able to make an entire meal by herself, start to finish. Then in a pinch I know I could rely on her to make a meal. That may sound like an ambitious goal if your kids don’t normally cook. But she’s been cooking with me since she was nine months old. She loves helping in the kitchen. Now it’s time to let her really take responsibility.
Getting my kids in the kitchen has been one of my favorite things to do since before my oldest could even walk. But fun and games aside, this is the real reason I'm teaching my kids to cook.
Even my toddler can get in on the action now. I’m excited to let her practice cutting banana slices for herself and spreading lard on her bread.

Who knows, maybe I’ll even convince my husband to tune in to some of the classes and learn a few cooking skills too.

I love cooking in spite of our challenges. But I don’t want my kids to depend on me forever (well, I do, actually…can I keep them this small?). Sadly they do have to grow up.

I could say I’m teaching my kids to cook so I’m off the hook. But really that’s not it. I want them to be safe. I want them to stay healthy even if a situation comes up where I can’t be around to cook a meal. I want my children to be able to visit Grandpa and Grandma and tell them what they can eat.

How about you? Are you ready to give your kids skills for life?

Click here to register for the Kids Cook Real Food eCourse

It’s an investment in your kids’ future.

The real reason I’m teaching my kids to cook is to empower them and keep them safe and healthy. What is your motive for teaching your kids to cook?Getting my kids in the kitchen has been one of my favorite things to do since before my oldest could even walk. But fun and games aside, this is the real reason I'm teaching my kids to cook.

Need more info about picky eating and allergies? Check out my books!

Easy Nourishment for Picky Eaters

Why Won't My Child Eat?!

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.

Ecocentric Mom Mom And Baby Box Review | Just Take A Bite

Ecocentric Mom January 2016 Mom and Baby Box Review

The Ecocentric Mom January 2016 Mom and Baby box was so much fun! I can’t wait to tell you all about it.

Ecocentric Mom Mom And Baby Box Review | Just Take A Bite

I am working with ecocentric mom to blog about this mom + baby box. I have been compensated for my time commitment to review this product. However, my opinions are entirely my own and I have not been paid to publish positive comments.

It is hard to navigate the world of natural products. Especially when a baby is involved. That’s why I love getting my ecocentric mom + baby box. In this season of life where I’ve got three young children and just don’t have time to research and shop all day long a box is perfect.

Curious how it works?

Ecocentric mom does the hard work for you – finding great products that are natural and healthy.  You get a box full of fun stuff to try at a fraction of the cost.  It can be a one time event, or you can get a new box every other month. You’ll learn about and sample products you never even knew existed! It’s so much fun.

This month I received a mom and baby box, my personal favorite. Something for mama and something for baby. I usually share with my big kids too. They like to sample the snacks. Let’s take a look inside!

Ecocentric Mom Mom And Baby Box Review | Just Take A Bite

Acure Argan Oil Cleansing Towelettes

Acure’s plant and food based formulas are clinically driven to provide optimal performance at a cellular level. They believe it’s not enough to be natural, it also has to work. These cleansing towelettes gently remove makeup, dirt, sweat and environmental toxins. They’re perfect to use when cleansing your baby.

I happened to have a really LONG week with sick kids, gassy tummies, lots of work and hardly any time to shower…just after I received my box. These towelettes sure did come in handy! Just a quick wipe of the face to remove makeup and oil.

I also like to use them after a workout to freshen up a bit. Always a bonus before I head to school to pick up my kids.

Discount Code: EcoMom20 for 20% off

Calming Fields Pachy Deodorant

Each deodorant is crafted with rich, plant-based oils, butters and powders, along with minerals and plant extracts. It all starts with sourcing the best made-in-nature, organic and vegan ingredients and transforming them into eective and simple products that actually work!

If you are looking for a deodorant with simple, pure ingredients this one is great! It goes on smoothly and smells really good.

Confession:

I haven’t worn deodorant in a year!

Ever since my youngest was diagnosed with a coconut/palm allergy I haven’t found one that is safe. She has a habit of sticking her fingers in my armpit when she nurses. Just about every natural deodorant (including this one) uses coconut oil.

So I tried it one time, but did not give it an extensive test.

Discount Code: Ecomom15 for 15% off

Jenuinely Pure Baby Oil

Jenuinely Pure products are produced locally in the Ames, Iowa area, hand-crafted in small batches to ensure quality and freshness. Jenuinely Pure Baby Oil is a pure and natural product to help keep babies’ sensitive skin healthy. The organic oils soothe and soften the skin and the lavender + chamomile essential oils help nourish the skin and have a pleasant, calming aroma. (Also good for Momma’s skin!)

Another confession:

I used this for myself!

I can’t use much on my little one due to her allergies. Mostly I use this tallow balm or this one. But this baby oil was perfect for some really dry patches of skin I have! It rubs on easily and smells really nice. I could feel it working right away.

Discount Code: ECO for 15% off

Tangie Stain Remover Bar

Tangie’s natural stain remover really works! It’s made with coconut oil, grapeseed oil, soap nuts liquid, oxalic acid, sea salt, citric acid, lemon essential oil and a whole lotta LOVE. Their powerful stain remover bar helps remove grass, juice, grease, blood and more. Made with plant-based & mineral ingredients, their formula is tough on stains, but gentle on the environment and perfect for removing any stains from baby. Simply wet fabric, rub bar on stain, and launder as normal. 

This stain remover only has a few ingredients. It sounds great. I could not use it on our stuff since it is coconut oil based. But I would fully trust it if I could use it. The Tangie bar is so much safer than the stain removers filled with chemicals.

Discount Code: Ecomomship for free shipping and free laundry paste (up to 12 loads) with purchase

Ecocentric Mom Mom And Baby Box Review | Just Take A Bite

Ecover Automatic Dishwasher Tablets

Ecover is a global green cleaning company that believes sparkly dishes shouldn’t have side effects. With a history in Europe and a home in San Francisco, Ecover has been a pioneer in plant-based cleaning products for more than 30 years. From kitchens to bathrooms—and every room in between—Ecover has a powerful, planet-loving solution for your cleaning needs. It’s safe for you and your baby and is stress free and easy to use.

Of all of the natural products out there I find that dishwasher detergent is one of the hardest to find – one that really is safe and does a good job. I was very impressed with these tablets. And I loved the ease! No measuring powders. Just stick the tablet in.

My dishes came out very clean. I would totally use these!

Roasted Broad Beans

Beyond Better Foods launched ENLIGHTENED Ice Cream in 2013 and in 2015 introduced a new line of crunchy and savory snacks – ENLIGHTENED Crisps.  Made from roasted broad beans, a true superfood, ENLIGHTENED Crisps are a fantastic anytime snack. Whether you’re craving sweet, salty, or both, they’ve got you covered!

There is usually a fight over who gets to sample the snacks in the EM boxes. This time I let my daughter (age 7) eat most of the roasted broad beans (though my husband and I tried them too). She loved them!

I love that there are only a few simple ingredients.

They are crunchy, salty and very allergen friendly. The little bag would be great for the diaper bag or lunch boxes too. A perfect snack for on the go.

Soignee Botanical Shampoo

Soignee refuses to use harsh chemicals that may offer short-term benefits but compromises the health and integrity of skin and hair for the long term. Their cruelty-free formulas never contain parabens, mineral oil, silicones, sulfates, or polyethylene glycol.  This sulfate and silicone-free Botanical Shampoo gently cleanses hair of dirt, oils and impurities without stripping strands of essential moisture.

The first thing I noticed about this shampoo is the smell – amazing! I felt like I was at a salon just washing my hair.

But more than that it did a great job of getting my hair clean. I love that it is free of parabens and sulfates. I try to avoid those as much as possible.

I was bummed when I finished the bottle. I may have to buy a full size!

Discount Code: ECOMOM16 for 20% off

Ecocentric Mom Mom And Baby Box Review | Just Take A Bite

Begin Again Buddy Blocks

Buddy Blocks Backyard Animal is a great first block set that grows with your child! Each 4-piece block forms 6 dierent puzzles featuring colorful animals. Toddlers will enjoy stacking and puzzle plays as they develop, plus Buddy Blocks are the perfect introduction to puzzles. 

Discount Code: ECOMOM0116 for 20% off

Of course this was the first item out of the box as soon as I opened it. My kids all grabbed for it! But I let the little one try it first.

I love how simple and yet intriguing this puzzle set is. My one year old instantly started stacking the blocks and knocking them down. My older kids wanted to try making all of the animals.

This is perfect for carrying in the diaper bag. I like to have it on hand when we are waiting for older siblings to get out of a class or practice or even when I need a couple minutes with two hands to make dinner.

My son would have loved the farm animal set! The number and letters puzzles look fun too.

Discount Code: ECOMOM0116 for 20% off

Now it’s your turn!

This was a great mom and baby box! It had a little something for everyone. Are you ready to try it out? Head over to EM and order your box! Choose the one that is right for you.

Or they make great gifts, especially for expecting or new moms. What a great surprise to have some pampering products and safe baby products show up in the mail.

Natural, fun and no shopping required. Perfect.

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

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

Holiday Travel Tips With Food Allergies | Just Take A Bite

Holiday Travel Tips With Food Allergies Plus A Giveaway!

Don’t miss out on family gatherings this year! Follow a few simple travel tips with food allergies to keep everyone safe and having fun. Plus enter for a chance to get even more great real food information.

Holiday Travel Tips With Food Allergies | Just Take A Bite

The holidays are a time to celebrate, a time to see friends and family and a time to enjoy good food. You can relax and take a break from every day duties. It is something to look forward to all year long.

Unless you have food allergies.

If you or your child has food allergies holidays can be stressful! Did someone put the butter knife in the jelly jar? Are there nuts in the pesto? Is there anything I can eat? Did cousin Joe wash his hands before playing with the toys?

Start celebrating.

When it’s time to pack up and head out for the holidays there are some things you can do to take the stress out and add the fun back. Plus you’ll get to enjoy good food too!

  1. Ask for the menu ahead of time.

 Whether you are visiting grandparents, siblings or friends ask for the menu in advance. Be sure to ask for details and ingredients.

This will give you an opportunity to offer suggestions and substitutions if necessary. It will also give you an idea of how much safe food will be available.

  1. Pack your own food.

When you have food allergies you always have to be prepared with safe foods. Pack a cooler with a few simple, nutritious foods. This can be anything from raw fruits and vegetables to cheese slices, bacon and hard boiled eggs. Whatever you tolerate.

If there won’t be much on the menu that you can eat don’t hesitate to bring something more substantial like a sandwich, roasted chicken or a thermos of soup.

Just be sure you have plenty for a meal and some extra. People change plans at the last minute and you don’t want to show up and be caught off guard that the food you were planning on isn’t available.

Holiday Travel Tips With Food Allergies | Just Take A Bite

Want more?

Want to read my other five holiday travel tips with food allergies? The full article will be in the November/December issue of Real Food and Health magazine!

If you don’t already have a subscription I highly recommend it. It has a large variety of articles about food and natural health plus tons of great recipes. The magazine is digital and comes out every other month.

Did you know I’ve been a contributor to Real Food and Health magazine for almost four years?! I’m lucky enough to work with Heather, the creator and editor. And she is being very generous and giving away subscriptions!

I’m excited I get to share this great resource with you by giving away THREE subscriptions to a few lucky readers. You could win a one month, three month or six month subscription to Real Food and Health.

Register below for your chance to win!

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

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

Natural Remedies Review | Just Take A Bite

Stuffy Noses, Tangled Hair and Allergies: A Natural Remedies Review

When the cold or flu hits, when allergies flare or when kids can’t settle down don’t reach for a pill. Instead try some simple natural remedies.

Natural Remedies Review | Just Take A Bite

When it comes to natural remedies I am definitely a novice.

I know food backwards and forwards. But herbs, oils and spices? Salves and tinctures? Come again?

Keep it simple.

You can imagine my delight when I flipped through Natural Remedies for Kids and saw just how easy it is to make so many natural treatments at home!

And I really do mean easy. Because if they weren’t I would have just put the book back down.

Natural Remedies is so easy to follow and find what you need. The advice is practical and straight forward.

Easy tips.

There are common sense tips like braiding long hair to keep it from getting tangled at night. Yes, I used that one immediately on my daughter! Then there is no need for any detangler (though if you need one there is a recipe for it).

Natural Remedies Review | Just Take A Bite

Allergy treatments.

I have talked a lot about my daughter’s environmental allergies and struggles with clogged sinuses. Natural Remedies has an easy recipe for allergy syrup that is on my to-do list.

In the mean time we’re trying nettle tea. I had no idea it was so good for allergies.

There is really some kind of remedy for just about every common concern. It includes respiratory ailments, colds, flu, skin and hair issues, bumps and bruises and even emotional problems (like hyperactivity and anxiety).

Natural Remedies Review | Just Take A Bite

Start small.

I am slowly building my supply for my natural medicine cabinet, starting with some of the more common and cheaper ingredients (like turmeric and nettle leaf). I will gradually add on as I become more familiar with and more comfortable with natural remedies.

One of the things that I love so much about finally going down this path (aside from the fact that it was one of my goals for this year that had been going by the wayside) is that I can make things that are safe for my youngest. Pretty much all OTC medications (both conventional and natural/homeopathic) contain some form of palm or coconut.

Natural Remedies Review | Just Take A Bite

Save money.

You can still get Natural Remedies for Kids at a discount price right now. I’d snatch it up! This will be my go-to resource this winter.

And if you have a child like mine that is a sponge and loves to read anything and everything let them take a look and learn right along with you!

Natural Remedies for Kids is a resource that will benefit the entire family and help promote a natural lifestyle and overall health. If you are new to natural remedies or just looking to expand your knowledge this book is for you.

Natural Remedies Review | Just Take A Bite

I have been compensated for my time commitment to review this product. However, my opinions are entirely my own and I have not been paid to publish positive comments.

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

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

Ecocentric Mom – Mom + Baby Box Review

Ecocentric Mom: Mom and Baby Box Review | Homemade Dutch Apple Pie

**I am working with Ecocentric Mom to blog about this Mom + Baby box. I have been compensated for my time commitment to review this product. However, my opinions are entirely my own and I have not been paid to publish positive comments.**

Have you ever heard of Ecocentric Mom?  I hadn’t until recently.  It is a great site that finds quality, natural products and sends you a box every other month.  You can choose from three types of boxes – Mom, Mom + Baby or Pregnancy.

I just got my first box to try.  It is a mom and baby box, and it is filled with great stuff.  Now I get to share it with you!

It is neat to see new, natural products that I may not know about otherwise.  Plus I didn’t have to go to the store to shop for them!  This is a great way to find products I feel good about and want to use.  Then if I find something I really like I can order just that specific product.

Here are the products included in this month’s box, descriptions and my reviews.

Mama Loves Me by Mara Van Fleet
“In this delightful book, a cute baby elephant shares his admiration for his mom’s special talents—using her trunk to reach up high, to play hide-and-seek, to give him a quick shower, and to kiss him at goodnight.”

This is such a cute book!  All three of my children love it.  I like how the trunk is part of each page.  I also love that it is a quality board book that my little one can hold and not destroy.  She is in the chew on books phase.  So this is perfect.Ecocentric Mom: Mom and Baby Box Review | Homemade Dutch Apple Pie

Snack Out Loud Crunchy Bean Snack
“Crunchy Bean Snacks are an irresistible, family-friendly savory snack made simply from pinto beans, sunflower oil and natural seasoning so they’re naturally Non-GMO, gluten-free, nut free and soy free. Yummy!”

I wasn’t sure what to think of a crunchy bean.  But this was really tasty!  Even my kids loved it, which surprised me.  They reminded me of spiced peanuts.  So it was really a treat for me (that can’t have peanuts).  Plus I love anything crunchy.  I may have to see if these are sold at our local health food store for an easy on-the-go snack.Ecocentric Mom: Mom and Baby Box Review | Homemade Dutch Apple Pie

Kelapo Extra Virgin Coconut Oil
“Add excitement to your favorite dishes—and promote a healthy lifestyle—with our Kelapo™ Extra Virgin Coconut Oil. Kelapo Coconut Oil is organic, cold-pressed, and fair trade approved.”

Personally, I’ve never tried a brand of coconut oil I didn’t like.  So I can’t say if Kelapo is better or worse than any other brand.  But I can say it tastes great!  I loved slathering it on my bread.  When you’re dairy free you have to have good coconut oil on hand.  I would gladly have a big jar of Kelapo in my kitchen.

Pure Essentials Botanic Bath Infusions
Botanic Bath Infusions are 3-in-1 relaxing bath therapies that combine restorative mineral sea salts, fragrant essential oils, and curative herbs and flowers in a 100% biodegradable soilon pouch.”

These bath salts look great…if I could ever find time to actually take a bath.  I might have to just try them in a foot soak soon.

Amara Baby Food
This is an easy and healthy way to travel with baby food.  We got to try the apple.  The only ingredient is apples!  I simply added some milk to the powder (no heating, no waiting, no glass jars to carry.  And any liquid, including water and breastmilk, will work).  Both of my big kids loved it.  My little one isn’t old enough to try it yet.  But I’d definitely let her have it when she’s a little older.Ecocentric Mom: Mom and Baby Box Review | Homemade Dutch Apple Pie

Bum Boosa Bamboo
Bum Boosa replaces the traditional synthetic or tree-pulp wet wipe using an immensely renewable and sustainable grass: bamboo. Nourishing plant-based ingredients such as Calendula, Chamomile, and Organic Aloe Vera care for delicate skin. Scented with Lavender and Sweet Orange essential oils.”

I normally use cloth wipes.  And when I do use disposable they are unscented.  So it was strange to me to use wipes with so much scent.  But they work very well.  I really like that they are made without any chemicals.

Flavrz
Flavrz Organic Drink Mixes – world’s best organic, deliciously healthy and affordable, alternative to the usual artificially flavored, colored and sweetened beverages.In addition to being delicious, healthy and affordable Flavrz Organic Drink Mixes are great for the environment when used with a reusable water bottle. Our small, easy to carry, easy to use 2Go pouch is a concentrate that one adds to ten to sixteen ounces water at home, office, gym or on the go.

Six Flavrs – Sport, Energy, Immunity, Cherry Berry, Tropical Peach and Lemon-Lime
Organic, NON-GMO, Gluten-Free”
 
The Falvrz drink mix has great flavor.  I tried the sport. It was a nice treat to have something besides water to drink.  I like that you can make your drink as sweet or mild as you like.  I diluted mine quite a bit.  But I’m not a fan of the agave syrup it contains.  So I wouldn’t buy this normally.
 
“The perfect way to catch all of your ideas – as they happen. 100 heavy weight white cards fit nicely into pockets or handbags for quick jots of important things. Complete with a heavy card  stock carrying case.”
 
These little note cards are so fun and have a variety of cute pictures on them.  I’m always writing things down so I won’t forget (hello, mommy brain!).  These are handy to have on hand both at home and on the go.  Small note cards are also great for keeping little hands busy when you’re waiting somewhere.  Grab a few cards and crayons before you head out the door.
 
O & N Collective
O&N Collective is an online apothecary specializing in certified organic and natural skin and personal care products.  Our mission is to provide safe and effective products that promote health and wellness.”
 
This looks like a great site for ordering specialty personal care products.  Included in the Ecocentric Mom box is a coupon for 15% off your order.  That is a huge savings when it comes to natural products!
 
Natural Seal Liquid Bandage

“Don’t let a small scrape turn into a trip to the hospital, protect your little ones with Natural Seal Liquid Bandage! For the ultimate protection for your little ones, use on cuts, scrapes, burns, rashes, blisters & more!”

Of all of the products in the box I think I enjoyed this one the most!  This liquid bandage is so easy to use and perfect for little ones that pick at bandages and pull them off.  As long as you can get them to wait the minute or two for the liquid to seal you’re all set.  No peeling off sticky bandages and pulling hairs.  No tears.  Just spray it on and wash it off.  The next time one of my kids gets a scrape I’m using this for sure!

Do you like what you what you see?  Are you interested in getting a box of great products to try for yourself?  Sign up at Ecocentric Mom and see what fun, natural products arrive at your door.

I am working with Ecocentric Mom to blog about this Mom + Baby box. I have been compensated for my time commitment to review this product. However, my opinions are entirely my own and I have not been paid to publish positive comments.

In order for me to support my blogging activities, I may receive monetary compensation or other types of remuneration for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any products or services from this blog.

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

Dental Health, Redmond Earthpaste and {a Giveaway}

Earthpaste Review and Giveaway || Homemade Dutch Apple PieIt’s mid-October.  Which means Halloween will be here soon!  In addition to the pumpkins, cute kids and fun costumes there will be an abundance of candy and treats.

I’m thankful that my kids are still young enough to not get that into Halloween.  We do let them trick-or-treat right by our house.  They enjoy dressing up and seeing all the other costumes.

When we get home they pretty much hand over the candy.  My son can’t have any of it because of allergies.  My daughter is usually allowed to have a couple chocolate treats.  The rest is traded in to Daddy for money.Earthpaste Review and Giveaway || Homemade Dutch Apple Pie

Even though my kids don’t eat much in the way of processed candy I still make them treats at home.

Regardless of the source they are still sweets…and can have an impact on the health of your teeth.

The natural solution is to brush well twice a day.  That’s great!  But what are you using to brush your teeth?

Most toothpaste is filled with artificial color and flavors, chemicals to make it foam and fluoride.  None of which you need to be putting in your mouth.

What are the alternatives?  You can make  your own.  But not everyone wants to go that route.

You can also buy a natural toothpaste.  Unfortunately almost every natural toothpaste I’ve ever seen has glycerin as one of the main ingredients.  And while it isn’t necessarily bad for your overall  health, it’s not that great for your teeth.  Glycerin coats the teeth and prevents remineralization.

I learned that the hard way after using a natural toothpaste for a while and all of a sudden having a mouth full of sensitive teeth.

As if toothpaste for adults wasn’t bad enough, take a look at kids’ toothpaste.  They are all neon colored and so full of artificial flavors.  Not to mention the fluoride that is in toothpaste for kids as young as two!  But if your kids are like mine they can’t handle the mint flavor of adult toothpaste.Earthpaste Review and Giveaway || Homemade Dutch Apple Pie

So what is the solution?

Recently I tried Redmond Earthpaste for the first time.  My initial reaction…I LOVE it!!  But better yet…so do my kids!

Earthpaste contains no chemicals, no colors, no artificial flavors and no glycerin.  They have several wonderful flavors.  I can’t tell you which is my favorite because I like them all.

I love that Earthpaste uses essential oils for flavor.

Best of all – the kids’ flavor is lemon…and my kids like it!  No “spicy” toothpaste.  No overly sweet toothpaste.  Just a mild lemon flavor that even my child with oral sensory issues enjoys.

Right now I alternate between cinnamon and wintergreen.  Both have very mild flavors and leave my mouth feeling fresh.  There is also peppermint and now spearmint!  They are all great choices.

The cleaning power comes from the Redmond clay.  It is antibacterial and even helps digestive health.  So there is no need to worry if your kids (or you!) swallow their toothpaste.  It’s actually good for them.

Halloween is coming.  Extra sweet treats are coming.  But you can keep your kids’ teeth healthy with quality toothpaste.

 

I’m very excited to be giving away a two pack of Earthpaste to THREE readers!  

 

This is the best toothpaste I’ve found.  I hope you try it and like it as much as my family does.

Have you tried alternative toothpastes?  What is your experience?Earthpaste Review and Giveaway || Homemade Dutch Apple Pie
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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?

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