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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.

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.

Follow some simple health tips to go from sleep-deprived mom to energetic mom.

Simple Health Tips For Sleep-Deprived Moms

When you’re caring for little ones it’s hard to make time to care for yourself. Here are some simple health tips for sleep-deprived moms to keep you going.

Follow some simple health tips to go from sleep-deprived mom to energetic mom.

The early days of motherhood are filled with joy, wonder and lots of snuggles. But they are also filled with sleepless nights, round-the-clock feedings, gassy tummies and lots of diaper changes.

Could you say that again? I was nodding off.

Being a mother of young children is exhausting to say the least. They require all of your attention and energy.

But that doesn’t mean you have to put your health and well-being on the back burner. Whether you just gave birth or you’re still nursing an energetic toddler there are some simple strategies any mom can use to stay healthy during this tiring phase.

You don’t need to add to your to-do list, buy special equipment or see an assortment of doctors. Follow these five simple health tips to keep yourself healthy and better able to care for your precious child. Plus I’ve got a bonus tip for those with older kids!

Follow some simple health tips to go from sleep-deprived mom to energetic mom.

1. Do not diet.

It’s tempting. You want to fit into your pre-pregnancy clothes. You want to get back in shape. But dieting is not the way to maintain your health. In fact, quite the opposite is true. When you have an infant or toddler, especially if you are breastfeeding, it is critical that you consume sufficient calories every day.

Your body needs energy to recover from pregnancy and birth (calories = energy!). You also need all around nourishment, including a wide variety of vitamins and minerals. There is no way to get what you need if you are cutting calories.

Dieting will also slow your metabolism, making you feel even more tired. Make sure you are eating plenty of food to meet your body’s needs. There is no set number of calories, but most women should consume a minimum of 2,000 calories a day just to maintain normal bodily functions. Increase that if you are breastfeeding or even mildly active.

2. Move your body gently.

Exercise is good. There’s no doubt about it. But what is better is movement. And during the infant stage your body does not need extra stress in the form of strenuous exercise. Instead try gentle movement throughout your day.

This can mean taking baby for an easy walk outside, doing a short yoga session or simply playing with your kids.

The goal postpartum is to allow your body time to recover. Recovery does not happen during periods of stress, which includes hard workouts. Save the marathon training and ab sculpting for when your kids are older.

One exercise routine you should include is core strengthening that is safe for diastasis recti to support your back and internal organs.

Follow some simple health tips to go from sleep-deprived mom to energetic mom.

3. Get some sleep.

You may be laughing at this suggestion. It sounds simple yet impossible when you have a little one. But it is often overlooked. Make sleep a priority. During sleep is when the body works on reparation and healing.

Nap when the baby naps. Go to bed by 10:00 pm. Ask for help so you can rest.

You will feel better and recover faster.

4. Make your food count.

A calorie is not a calorie. You need to make your food count with a good balance of carbohydrates, protein and fat. Most moms in this phase are dealing with poor adrenal health. This means adequate carbohydrates and starch are essential. Carbohydrates can be anything from bananas and sweet potatoes to white rice and sourdough bread. Whatever works for your body. But no low carb diets.

Most of your food should be nutrient dense and give your body important vitamins and minerals. Some easy power packed additions to your diet include:

Your vitamin and mineral stores will be replenished by eating enough nutrient-dense calories every day. This will also help with milk supply and energy.

Follow some simple health tips to go from sleep-deprived mom to energetic mom.

5. Stay home.

One of the biggest mistakes moms make is trying to get back to their normal routine as soon as baby arrives. This does not allow your body enough time to recover.

It’s ok to stay home and decline invites or even say no to visitors. Focus on your kids and enjoy a relaxed atmosphere. Don’t jump back into the rushed pace of life. It doesn’t matter if your neighbor has five kids and a new activity planned every day. Take the time to enjoy this short phase of life and not add extra stress.

Simplify meals, schedules and to-do lists. You and your children will be happier. When you are rested and recovered you’ll have fun being out and about. But when you are exhausted and undernourished it’s ok to just stay home and rest.

The infant and toddler stages are hard and tiring. Take care of yourself. Nourish yourself. Remove stress. Enjoy your little ones before you blink and they are not so little.

Follow some simple health tips to go from sleep-deprived mom to energetic mom.

Let the kids help!

If you have more than one child a great way to not feel so stressed is to get everyone involved in the day-to-day duties. That includes cooking!

The Kids Cook Real Food eCourse has open enrollment next week. My kids LOVE the course. They have learned so much (and so have I!!). You can get a little taste of it with these FREE knife skills videos.
A sleep deprived mom can improve her health with simple changes that will have a positive impact on the whole family. Make the time to take care of yourself and invest in your kids by teaching them responsibilities too.

What have you done today to care for yourself?

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

Bedtime Beverage

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Soaked Gluten Free Bread {dairy free, nut free, corn free, gum free}

Soaked Gluten Free Bread | Homemade Dutch Apple PieAs my final birthday present to you I’m finally sharing my gluten free bread recipe!  I could work on it for months still and probably find little things to change (and I will update the recipe if I do!).

But it dawned on me the other day that it doesn’t have to be perfect.  At the age of 35 I realize I don’t have to be perfect.  So in honor of my 35th birthday I present to you my “I’m not perfect” gluten free bread.

My kids and I eat the whole loaf in a matter of days every time I make this.  It’s not perfect, but it is good!Soaked Gluten Free Bread | Homemade Dutch Apple Pie

Gluten free bread is tricky.  It does not behave like gluten-containing bread.  The moisture levels must be different.  The kneading is different.  The methods for getting it to hold together are different.  So this was a challenge.

I also added some extra restrictions.

  1. No rice – My son is allergic to rice.  That means brown and white rice flour are out, even though rice is the most commonly used flour for gluten free bread.
  2. No millet – Millet is goitrogenic and not good for those with thyroid problems (me!).  This is another very common flour used in gluten free bread.  But it was off the list for me.
  3. No flax seeds – Flax seeds are estrogenic.  So if you are dealing with hormone imbalance, especially estrogen dominance, you need to use caution with flax seeds.  I also discovered recently that flax seeds are yet another food on my list of things to avoid due to the high fiber content and the pain they cause me.  Of course I discovered this after making many loaves using flax seeds!  This also holds true for chia seeds and psyllium husks…too much fiber.  They are often used in gluten free baking as well, but not for me.
  4. No gums – It is hard to find gluten free bread without xanthan gum.  Eaten every once in a while it’s probably fine.  But if you are like me and make bread often you don’t want to use it.  Not to mention I try to avoid it totally because most gums bother my gut and often contain some of the things my son is allergic to.
  5. No baking powder – My son is allergic to corn.  So most baking powders are out.  Baking powder helps give rise to gluten free baked goods.  But I had to do without it.

I had originally hoped to make it egg free as well.  But I just couldn’t get that to work if I didn’t use flax.  So this is what I came up with.  A soaked gluten free bread that does not contain rice, millet, flax, chia, psyllium, gums, nuts, corn or dairy.  It is quite good!Soaked Gluten Free Bread | Homemade Dutch Apple Pie

My other requirement was that it had to be easy to make.  And it certainly is!  It only takes about 15 minutes of hands on time to make this bread.  There is no kneading.  Just soak, mix and pour.  I break it into small steps – soak the flour one morning, get the pan ready and ingredients out that evening, then mix, pour and bake the next morning.  I get a loaf of bread rising in the morning in about 5 minutes!

This is slightly denser than a typical sandwich bread.  But it is still very light and soft (you can see how soft it is in the picture!).  My son and I enjoy using it for sandwiches.

I like to eat it best with lots of coconut oil (or butter…when I’m able).  Sometimes I drizzle honey on for a special treat.

My only real complaint about this bread is that the top is a little crubmly due to the bubbling that happens as the dough rises.  I work around this by keeping the cooled loaf of bread upside down on a cutting board and using a serrated knife to slice it from the bottom.  The bread does get firmer and easier to slice with each passing day.

I use organic cane sugar for proofing the yeast and adding a touch of sweetness to the bread to reduce the stronger flavors of the flour.  You can try using honey if you can’t have the sugar, but I don’t think it works as well.  It adds moisture to the bread (even small amounts impact how it turns out).  I did some loaves early on with honey, but they didn’t turn out as well.

I used equal amounts of tapioca, sorghum and amaranth flours for this bread.  Normally when I post recipes I say use whatever gluten free flour you have.  But in this case it will make a difference since each one behaves differently and absorbs moisture differently.  So if you don’t have these three flours you can try substituting, but it may turn out differently.  Sorghum can usually be replaced pretty easily with white rice flour.Soaked Gluten Free Bread | Homemade Dutch Apple Pie

If you like a bread that tastes more like wheat you can replace a little bit of the sorghum with teff.

Since the flour is soaked in advance it sometimes tastes a bit like sourdough.  It just depends how long you let it soak.  More than 24 hours will give more of a sourdough taste.

I have been working on a gluten free bread recipe for over six months now.  I wanted to get it just right.  But that could take a lot longer.  I hope you enjoy my “I’m not perfect” bread and use it as a starting point to create your own bread that tastes the way you like it.  Remember to give yourself grace if a loaf doesn’t turn out quite right.  Just do your best.Soaked Gluten Free Bread | Homemade Dutch Apple Pie

Soaked Gluten Free Bread {dairy free, nut free, corn free, gum free}
Yields 1
A soaked bread that is free of gluten, dairy, nuts, corn, rice, millet, gums and fillers.
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Ingredients
  1. 1 cup tapioca flour
  2. 1 cup sorghum flour
  3. 1 cup amaranth flour
  4. 3/4 cup warm water
  5. 1/4 cup coconut milk or water
  6. 1 1/2 Tbsp. lemon juice or apple cider vinegar
  7. 2 tsp. active dry yeast
  8. 1 Tbsp. cane sugar
  9. 3 Tbsp. warm water
  10. 3 egg whites
  11. 3/4 tsp. unrefined sea salt
  12. 2 Tbsp. cane sugar
  13. 1 tsp. baking soda
  14. 1 tsp. cream of tartar
Instructions
  1. Combine the flours and mix to remove any clumps.
  2. Add the water, milk and lemon juice. Cover and let sit 7-24 hours (or longer if a sourdough taste is desired).
  3. Grease a large loaf pan.
  4. Combine the yeast, 1 Tbsp. sugar and warm (almost hot) water. Let sit 10 minutes.
  5. Add the egg whites to the soaked mixture. Beat about 2 minutes to fluff whites and remove lumps.
  6. Add the yeast mixture and beat about 20 seconds.
  7. Add the salt, sugar, soda and cream of tartar and beat about 10 seconds.
  8. Immediately pour into the prepared pan.
  9. Let rise in a warm place for 1 hour (do not bump or disturb the pan or it might sink)
  10. Heat the oven to 350*F.
  11. Gently transfer the pan to the oven (even small amounts of movement of the pan or slamming of the oven door could make the dough collapse)
  12. Bake for 1 hour.
  13. Turn off oven and leave bread in the oven for 10 minutes.
  14. Remove bread from the oven and cover with a towel.
  15. Allow the bread to cool for 30 minutes. Remove from pan and place upside down on a cutting board. Allow to cool completely.
  16. Once cooled store in a sealed container for up to 1 week.
Notes
  1. The bread will hold together better if allowed to cool completely and put in a sealed container. It may slice better the day after it is baked.
  2. Use a serrated knife and place the bread upside down for slicing.
  3. Stone or metal baking pans work best for gluten free bread.
  4. This makes one regular size loaf.
  5. You can replace 1/3 of the sorghum flour with teff flour for a whole wheat flavor.
  6. If you can't have eggs use 3 Tbsp. flax seeds combined with 2 Tbsp. warm water in place of the egg whites. The bread will be a bit denser without eggs.
Just Take A Bite http://justtakeabite.com/
 

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

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

My Goals of the Year – 2014

Now that March is underway it is time to think about my 2014 goals!  It only took 2 1/2 months.  This year I’m focusing on simplifying life and getting back to the basics.  I want to make room and time for people and relationships.

One thing that stood out as I was making my goals was that I didn’t even really think about food or diet in terms of my own health.  That is a big sign of healing.  I don’t have a special diet.  I eat nutrient-rich food.  I eat what my body likes/what makes me feel good.  I eat enough to support my body and my baby.  It’s nice to not have a laundry list of diet do’s and don’ts as part of my goals this year.

~~~~~~~~~~~2014 GOALS~~~~~~~~~~~

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1. Get back to the basics with nutrition.

I first learned about real food about four years ago.  I took the time to really understand what nutrition meant and how to feed my family.  Over the years with my own health struggles, dietary restrictions for my kids (for allergies) and times of doing what you can just to get by (during things like miscarriage and early pregnancy) I have lost sight of that a little bit.

Sometimes I’m even amazed when I look back through my old posts.  I posted a lot of good information!  So it’s time to get back to the basics of nutrition.  I never strayed too far.  But I know I can do better with getting some of the junk out of our house.  As I get my energy back I also hope to get my passion and drive back for making real, homemade food that is nourishing for my family.

This will include simple steps like adding egg yolks, coconut oil, gelatin and bone broth to foods whenever I can.  I may also re-post some old articles to help myself get back on track.

I’m not going to be extreme.  I know there has to be balance.  I also know I’m human and can only do so much.  But I’m also ready to put in the effort to make sure my family is nourished.

As part of this I may start re-reading Nourishing Traditions.  It has such a wealth of knowledge.

Once I am feeling better I will also do a one week challenge with my kids to see how they do with absolutely no packaged food.  They don’t eat much as it is.  But over the last few months we’ve had to go with convenience sometimes because it was all I could manage.  We need to break the habit and get back to real food.

This is not about restriction.  This is not about a special diet.  This does not mean we can’t enjoy other food when we are out or with friends.  This is about sticking to real, nourishing foods the majority of the time and especially at home.  It’s easy to lose sight of that in our culture.  I want to be sure my kids know what true health means.

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2. Simplify and de-clutter my house and my life.

One of the biggest sources of stress for our whole family is the clutter and mess in the house.  With me being only able to do the minimum around the house for the last three months it has gotten even worse.  It’s time to finally do something about it.

When I used to think about cleaning what came to mind was organizing and making things look neat.   I didn’t care about dust bunnies in the corner or mold spots on the ceiling as long as things were in order.

But now that my daughter has been diagnosed with severe dust and mold allergies, cleaning has a whole new meaning.  I’m starting to notice every little spec of dirt in our house.  I’m realizing just how dirty it is!

So my cleaning goal is two-fold.  I want to get things organized and get rid of things we don’t use/don’t need.  I also want to do a thorough cleaning of the whole house.  I want my daughter and my husband to be able to breathe better and feel better at home.

The cleaning will be better for our health.  The neatness will make everyone happier.  It will create more peace.  There will also be a place for everything…which means clean up will be much easier.

This will also free up a lot of time (especially mine!).  Instead of spending half of my day just trying to stay on top of the mess, I’ll have more time for my family and for doing other things.  By bed time everyone will be much happier and calmer.

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3. Make relationships a priority.

I probably want this or even write it as a goal every year.  It is one of my biggest struggles.  I am an introvert by nature (extreme introvert and painfully shy).  So making friends is very difficult.  Add to that severe OCD, feelings of isolation from infertility,  anxiety…you get the picture.  For most of my life I’ve just gone the easy route.  I avoid deep friendships.  I keep everything surface level.  I don’t let anyone in.  I try to hide all the things I don’t like about myself.  But it’t not a good way to live.  It’s also not a good example for my children.

I did have some very close friends when I was younger.  But life changes as you get older.  I’ve also had deep friendships that have caused a lot of hurt.  After that it was hard to open up to anyone again.

Over the years I have realized that having close friends is one of the biggest things missing in my life.  I have a wonderful husband and a great family (both my family and my in-laws).  I am thankful for a couple friends that I keep in touch with regularly via email.

But this year I want to build lasting friendships.  I want to put in the effort, let others into my life and drop my guard.  It will not be easy.  But I think it’s worth the effort.

In addition to making friends, I wan to make sure that my relationship with my husband is a priority.  This is especially critical before baby #3 arrives.  Since our children are almost six and three, now is a good time to go on dates and spend time together.

I also want to make sure my kids get plenty of attention before the baby comes.  I will try to continue our monthly mommy/daughter dates.  I will also try to do special things for my son.  Finally we will make the most of our summer and do lots of fun things, like going to the beach, playgrounds, etc.

Life will be very different in September with a new baby and my big girl in school all day.  So we are going to enjoy our family of four for the summer.

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4. Work on myself.

This year I want to really think about how my actions impact my children (and others around me).  I want to be a good example to my kids.  This includes things like facing my fears, making friends and trusting God.

My daughter already struggles with anxiety, just like I did when I was little.  I need to teach her how to handle anxiety and how to let it go.  I have to do this through the way I handle my own anxiety.

I will have two big adjustments later this year.  I will be adjusting to life with three children.  I will also be adjusting to my daughter being in school all day.  I plan to prepare myself mentally for these changes.

My yearly goals would not be complete without talking about my health.  Thankfully this year there isn’t too much to think about.  My main focus is to keep my thyroid levels and medication well-monitored, both during and after pregnancy.

I need to focus on eating enough quality food, getting moderate exercise and getting plenty of sleep.  Yes, good health really is that simple.

Finally, I want to take more time to read.  I don’t do it very often these days.  But I have a lot of books that have been sitting on my desk for a long time.  I also have a lot of Kindle books.  So I am going to read more and watch TV less.  I just got a few new books last week as an early birthday present.  I’ve already finished one of them!

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5. Focus on my writing.

My writing has taken a back seat for the last few months.  After my miscarriage I lost my focus and energy. I had to really concentrate on my health.  Then when I had bad morning sickness I simply could not sit at the computer to write.

Now that I’m starting to feel better I’m finally getting my desire to write back!  It feels great.  Although my kids don’t like to give me time to do it.

I switched my site from Blogger to WordPress earlier this year.  But being so sick I didn’t have time to do anything else with it.  I want to learn more about WP and update the look of my site.

I want to write about a variety of topics.  I will still post recipes.  I will also be writing about health issues.

I will continue to learn about photography and work on my skills.

I am also hoping to start doing some giveaways this year!

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6. Word for the year – LOVE.

Last year I started focusing on a word for the year.  It was acceptance.  Last year was definitely a year of acceptance.  It took a while to figure out a word for this year.  But it turns out I didn’t really have to figure it out.  During the first two months of this year God has bombarded me with the word LOVE.

My daily email devotions started in January with “40 Days of Love.”  At church we did a series called “How’s It Growing” where we talked about spiritual disciplines…the final and most important being love.

For Valentine’s Day this year my daughter made all of her cards.  We found a pack of cheap bracelets for her to use for the girls in her class.  They each got two.  At the end there were two bracelets left that I told her she could keep for herself.  Instead she kept one and gave one to me in my card.  Like a good mother I put it on…and it’s been on ever since!  It’s just a little, plastic red bracelet.  But it reminds me daily to love.

There have been plenty of other signs of love as well.

So this year I am focusing on love.  I want to give love.  I want to be loved.

I have been reminded constantly this year already about how much God loves me.  It’s incomprehensible.  But it is so comforting.  Even when I’m worried or anxious or not so happy with myself…God still loves me unconditionally.

I want to show this same love to others.  I want to show my husband and my kids unconditional love.

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This year I hope to work hard to make life simpler and make room for building relationships and setting a good example to my children.  It all comes down to simplify and love.  I’m excited to see what God has in store for us this year.

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.

The Results Are In…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Candida:

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

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

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

I am not sure what my views are on candida at this point.  Some say anti-candida diets are so helpful.  Others think it’s a bunch of bologna 😛  So I’m still researching right now.  I have decided to focus on the other items (thyroid, minerals, allergies, etc.) and hold off on any treatment related to candida.  I will be conscious of not going overboard with sugars.  And I don’t eat much fermented anyway since I just don’t tolerate it well.  I am taking a probiotic.  But I’m not doing the antifungals or a totally sugar free diet right now.
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So that’s it…at least most of it.  Hopefully you made it this far 🙂  I have a lot to think about.  A lot to research.  A lot to change.  I’m going to do it one step at a time and not overwhelm my system.  I’m hopeful that these changes will be very helpful and that I will experience a lot of healing.  I’m hopeful that the elimination diet will be successful and I’ll be able to add the majority of the foods back into my diet at some point.

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

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

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

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.