Home » lifestyle

Tag: lifestyle

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.

Help for Food Freedom

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 in Nourishment

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.

Balanced Nutrition 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 Food 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.

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 Food for Kids

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.

Natural Health Gift Guide for Mom

The older I get the more I know exactly what I want…and what I don’t want (that’s the Analytical Eater in me!).

When holidays or birthdays roll around, I make a list with very specific items. I have spent so many years collecting gifts I don’t really care about and using them anyway. Which has resulted in a house full of clutter.

But now that I know who I am and what I like, I’m ready to have things I love and will enjoy using. In fact, one of the words that best describes me is simple. And I’d love to simplify my house and life by getting rid of about 70% of what I own. Most of it is just stuff that I have to shuffle around.

Any other moms that can relate?!

Gifts Mom Will Actually Use

While it won’t happen overnight. I want to get rid of things that I don’t use/don’t like and gradually replace them with the things I love.

After over a decade in the natural health world, I have settled on some amazing products and brands that I trust.

So I’m sharing some of my favorite items that I actually use and love (and some that are on my own gift list!) with you! Feel free to send this to loved ones wondering what to buy for you!

The Best Supplements for Mom

I know what you’re thinking…supplements are at the top of your gift list?? Yes! Because good health is at the top of my list. These are some of my favorite supplements for keeping Mom feeling her best. Which in turn helps everyone. Trust me, I work with a lot of moms!

Perfect Supplements

Perfect Supplements is one of my absolute favorite supplement brands. Not only for the particular products they carry, but also for the quality. Everything is thoroughly tested, and they are completely transparent. That is one of the most important aspects of a supplement company. I use quite a few PS products regularly. Here are my top picks (yes, there are quite a few):

Order Perfect Supplements products HERE with code TAKE10.

Jigsaw MagSoothe

This is my favorite magnesium supplement. It helps relax the whole body and is great for those that have trouble winding down or falling asleep. I have been using it every night for over five years now! Use code Mary10 for 10% off your order!

Order MagSoothe HERE with code Mary10.

Microbiome Labs Megaspore Probiotics

These spore-based probiotics are both gentle and effective. Plus they are safe for just about everyone. My whole family uses these probiotics to help diversify our gut microbiome. Everyone, including Mom, could use some tummy love!

Order Megaspore Probiotics HERE.

Beekeepers Naturals Bee Pollen

Bee pollen is great for your immune system and for supplying some key B Vitmains. Plus it is a good food source of copper, one of the most important minerals in your body. Just a small dose each day can give you a big boost!

Order Beekeepers Naturals Bee Pollen HERE.

Natural Health and Beauty for Mom

True beauty is on the inside. But it’s also nice for Mom to feel good about how she looks on the outside! These are my favorite health and beauty products.

The Magnesium Lotion Shop

One of the highest priorities for almost every client is improving magnesium stores. And the best way to do so is transdermally (i.e. through the skin). We’ve tried various oils and lotions, but The Magenisum Lotion Shop has the best around! No itching. No stinging. No strange smell. And no toxic ingredients. It’s great for the whole family. It even helped my daughter with growing pains and sleep. We all put it on every night before bed.

Order Magnesium Lotion Shop lotion HERE.

Toups & Co. Organics

I love pretty much everything Emilie makes! This is my go-to for makeup, lotion, and bath products for my kids. A few of my top picks are:

  • Natural face primer – this feels like silk on your skin! I put it on every morning.
  • Liquid foundation – the only makeup I’ve ever truly loved.
  • Mascara – the only mascara I have ever worn that doesn’t make my eyes itch and swell.
  • Everything bar – this will replace every other soap/shampoo you own. It literally works for everything!
  • Baby body wash & shampoo – yes, this works for Mom too! It’s so gentle yet effective.

Order Toups & Co. products HERE.

Earthly

Ever wish you could find natural replacements for OTC medicines without having to search high and low? Welcome to your one-stop-shop! Earthly has just about every natural remedy you could want. Here are some of my top picks:

  • Arnica salve stick – for bumps and bruises
  • Digestive bitters – for reflux and improving upper GI function
  • Feel better fast tincture – helps coughs, fevers, and upset tummies quickly
  • Master tonic – adrenal and immune support
  • Pain potion – headache relief

Order Earthly products HERE.

Healthy Fashion for Mom

I know what you’re thinking. How are fashion and health related? Let me show you! These healthy AND fashionablel products are my favorites! And they are on my gift list.

Magenetude Jewelry

If you follow me on Instagram or Facebook you’ve probably heard me talk about Magnetude Jewelry. It is bio-magnetic, interchangeable jewelry that can help:

  • improve blood circulation
  • improve sleep quality
  • increase energy
  • mitigate the harmful effects of EMFs and 5G

My personal experience using Magnetude has been sort of miraculous. After wearing it for just a few weeks I told my kids that I felt like the Energizer Bunny! It has increased my energy tremendously. I am also sleeping more soundly. An added bonus – my toddler is finally sleeping through the night consistently when he wears his Magnetude slider regularly.

This is the one of the easiest and most fun things you can do to improve your health! For the month of November all orders over $75 get a free holiday “tude.”

Order Magnetude Jewelry HERE.

My son and I made a video to show just how powerful the magnets really are! Check it out.

Xero shoes

Barefoot shoes are another one of my must-haves. I started wearing Xero Shoes about three years ago, and I have never looked back. Barefoot shoes help with spinal alignment and removing stress on the spine. I wear them every day, year-round. So much so that I have worn a hole in the toe! So a new pair of Xero Shoes is definitely on my wish list this year.

So far I have tried the Prios and the Mikas. I love them both! And I’m excited to try some of the other styles.

Order Xero Shoes HERE.

Kitchen Gifts Mom Will Actually Use

Is it possible to have too many kitchen gadgets? Probably. Maybe not. I’m not sure. I love fun, unique kitchen gifts. But then again I’m trying to simplify. Here are my must-haves in the kitchen that I use all the time.

Tea Strainer + Quality Tea

In the debate of coffee vs tea, there is no question for me. I love tea. I can’t stand coffee. I love using herbal teas to promote health. So a tea strainer and quality loose-leaf teas are always in my cupboard.

THIS is the tea strainer I love.

Some of my favorite herbal teas are:

Kitchen Appliances

We all have those appliances that sit in the cupboard, possibly still in the box, that we don’t know what to do with. But then there are the workhorses that we use almsot daily. Here are my favorite appliances and gadgets that I use frequently or that are on my wish list.

  • Crockpot – it’s always on my counter and gets used multiple times a week.
  • Immersion blender – perfect for making mayonnaise, pureeing fruits and veggies, or even making magnesium lotion!
  • Vitamix – hands down my most used appliance. I use it for smoothies, dips, nut butters, sauces, and even grinding flour! I have the large container, small container, and dry container to do everything.
  • Berkey water filter – it’s hard to find a water filter that removes all the bad stuff while leaving the essential minerals. Berkey is at the top of the list for doing just that!
  • Tongs – I have three pairs…and I still run out some days.
  • Spatula – I have lots of spatulas, but only two that I really use.

Water Bottle

If you want to feel your best, you have to be hydrated. This is one of the first foundations I address with every client. I don’t just mean drink eight glasses of water a day. That’s a good way to flush all of your minerals out! I love sharing a variety of hydrating drinks to boost your minerals and help your body absorb the water. But sometimes even if you know how to properly hydrate it’s a struggle. I find that having a water bottle that you love can go a long way in getting hydrated. Here are my favorites:

Dark Chocolate

I couldn’t make a gift list for Mom without adding chocolate! Here are my favorites:

Natural Health and Wellness for Mom

Staying healthy isn’t just about what you eat and drink (though those are important!). There are other aspects to your foundations of good health. This includes physical, mental, and emotional health! Some of my favorite tools and techniques for keeping Mom healthy on all levels include:

Energy Work

Our bodies are made of energy! And sometimes (well, a lot of times) we get out of balance. It’s important to restore the flow of energy. You can do this through:

Not only do these therapies help long-term, it also feels really good to have time for self-care and having someone else pamper you a bit! Find a local practitioner and calm your nervous system!

Mineral Balancing

When it comes to nutrition my favorite tool for meeting bio-individual needs is Hair Tissue Mineral Analysis! It is at the heart of my practice. HTMA shows where your body is out of balance and how to meet your bio-individual needs.

Learn more about HTMA and set up a Clarity Call HERE.

Nourishing Movement

Maybe I’m just odd, but I love getting exercise/fitness equipment as a gift. It gives me variety and motivation to keep myself moving. A couple of my favorite simple and budget-friendly methods for getting nourishing movement are:

  • Rebounder – get your lymphatic system flowing and help your body with gentle detox.
  • T-Tapp – this is another lymphatic-stimulating exercise that is suitable for all ages and fitness levels. No special equipment needed! Just some space to move. My kids and I love to do T-Tapp moves throughout the day to keep things flowing!

Best Books for Mom

Last, but definitely not least, on Mom’s gift list are books. Depending on your season of life you may or may not have much time to read. But I have recommendations for everyone. From cookbooks to homeschooling to homesteading to health.

Cookbooks

If you are short on time AND needing some healthy meal inspiration, cookbooks will be your guide. I have quite an array of cookbooks – some in my kitchen and some stashed in a closet. The ones I keep in my kitchen I use time and again. Plus they have great stories and drool-worthy photos. These are the cookbooks that make the grade in my house.

Homeschool Books

  • The Call of the Wild + Free – I read this at the start of each school year to get in the right mindset.
  • Tuttle Twins – These are amazing read-alouds for the whole family about how our government, free market, and more is supposed to work. I’ll be honest – I learned just as much as my kids did. I wish every child was able to hear these books.

Self-Care Books for Mom

Health and Wellness Books for Mom

If you enjoy digging deeper and learning how the body functions like I do, these books will keep your brain stimulated and help you learn more about your own health.

Gifts Mom Will Feel Good About Giving

Yes, this post is all about what to give TO Mom. But I’m a mom…and I just couldn’t help myself. Moms love to give gifts to their kids as well. So here is a short list of some of my favorite natural health gifts for your family.

That was quite a list! Did you find anything you want to add to your Christmas list? Or maybe something you want to get for your mom or wife?

I’d love to hear what sparked your interest! Comment with your favorite natural health gift for Mom from this list or something you’ve got on your wish list this year.

How I Gave My Daughter A New Start: Natural Remedies to Help Mouth Breathing

Does your child seem to sleep poorly or wake up grumpy? There are many causes, one of them being how your child breathes. There is natural help for mouth breathing to get a well-rested child.

How we are putting an end to mouth breathing through natural treatments and palette expansion.

Every parent does it. Every night.

Before you get in bed, you check on your sleeping child.

You stand there for a minute watching them lay there so peacefully.

Unless your child is a mouth breather.

Then you see covers strewn about and a child tossing and turning. You hear snoring and snuffling.

Sleeping While Mouth Breathing Looks Anything but Peaceful

Not only does it look bad, it is bad. Mouth breathing has a big impact on health and behavior. Here are some of the effects of mouth breathing.

  • Restless sleep/change positions constantly.
  • Lack of clean oxygen to the body (that comes through the nose).
  • Bad breath and body odor.
  • Sensitive teeth/chewing problems/dental problems.
  • Adrenal fatigue/lack of sleep.
  • Sleeping problems/hard to settle down/inability to nap.
  • Lack of focus/symptoms of ADD/ADHD.
  • Hyperactivity.
  • Mood swings/tantrums/meltdowns.
  • Oral sensory processing disorder.
  • Narrow mouth/palette.

This list of symptoms should not describe any child. But it does. My daughter included. She had displayed every single symptom on this list at only seven years old.How do I stop mouth breathing in my kids? We are putting an end to mouth breathing through natural treatments and palette expansion. #mouthbreathing #oralspd #kidshealth

Why do Kids Mouth Breathe?

Mouth breathing happens during the day and night and can have a variety of causes. For my daughter the root issue is environmental allergies.

Her first symptoms started at a very young age with chewing problems and sensitive teeth. She needed pureed foods until age two. But things really started to get worse around age three when she stopped napping and could no longer settle down during the day.

We played around with diet and removed gluten and anything artificial. We saw some improvement, but not enough.

How Allergies Impact Mouth Breathing

At five years old we had her tested for allergies and discovered severe dust mite and mold allergies. The allergist put her on a steroid nasal spray. Although hesitant we tried it for a while with no improvement. So we turned to more natural remedies.

How we are putting an end to mouth breathing through natural treatments and palette expansion.

Natural Treatment Options for Mouth Breathing

My daughter is now 13 and breathing through her nose most of the time. It is quite amazing to see the difference in her health, mood, and behavior. She has been given a new start after years of mouth breathing.

Every child is different and responds differently to treatments. But if your child is a mouth breather it is important to figure out what works for him or her and find a way for him or her to get quality oxygen and sleep. Here are the treatments we have used.

  1. Speech therapy – We saw a speech therapist for three years. It is great for calming the body, integrating reflexes, and training the mouth. Being able to do exercises at home that open the nasal passage is also wonderful.
  2. Remove food allergies – Allergies to food can cause inflammation anywhere in the body, including the nose/airway. You can figure out allergies through formal testing, an elimination diet, muscle testing, or trial and error. Cut the offending foods out completely while you work on healing.
  3. Craniosacral therapy – Sometimes breathing problems are due to a restriction in the body. CST releases tension and alows the airways to open naturally (learn more about CST here).
  4. Hair Tissue Mineral Analysis – When a child is lacking in minerals, is out of balance, or struggles to detox heavy metals, he or she can have numerous symptoms, including inflammation, allergies, and breathing difficulties. HTMA helps get to the root of the problem and get the body back in balance (learn more about HTMA here).
  5. Clean the whole house and clear out the bedroom – Dust and mold allergies are some of the biggest offenders. Dust mites live in mattresses, pillow cases, couches and stuffed animals. Dust collects quickly on dressers, toy boxes and bookshelves. There are some simple solutions.
  • Use dust mite covers on the mattress and pillow case.
  • Change bedding weekly and wash it in hot water.
  • Remove stuffed animals from the bed.
  • Clean the floor regularly. Wood floors are ideal. If possible remove carpet.
  • Remove as much clutter from the bedroom as possible.
  • Dust regularly in the bedroom and the whole house.
  • Keep windows free of mold.
  • Diffuse essential oils – Essential oils can provide a tremendous improvement in breathing. A blend of lemon, lavender and peppermint diffused through the night is effective for clearing airways. Purification is great too.
  • Palette expansion.

How we are putting an end to mouth breathing through natural treatments and palette expansion.

Palate Expansion for Mouth Breathing

Palate expansion has had the biggest impact on my daughter’s health. Her mouth breathing has caused her palate to gradually become narrower and narrower. We found a naturally-minded dentist that focuses on expansion plus reshaping the jaw. It is not just the typical expander for a few months and then move on to braces.

There are a few different methods of expansion. We are using Biobloc Orthotropics. It is a three-year process with several phases. First the mouth is widened to allow room for all of the teeth and to open the nasal passage. Then the jaw is reshaped.

My daughter is breathing through her nose more in the night and getting better quality sleep. She is using mouth exercises to practice keeping her mouth closed during the day to retrain her jaw. No more sitting with her mouth wide open!

We also use tape over her mouth at night. I know it sounds strange, but our orthodontist suggested it…and it really works! You can buy special tape already cut in strips or use a hypoallergenic medical tape. Just avoid it if your child has a cold or is really stuffy. You can read more about mouth taping here!

No more bad breath! She is also much more efficient at eating. Instead of a meal taking an hour she can finish in about ten minutes.

Mouth breathing is just one challenge that originates in the mouth. There are many conditions that start with the mouth! So how do you know what it is? Use this quick and easy Mouth Assessment Guide!

How do I stop mouth breathing in my kids? We are putting an end to mouth breathing through natural treatments and palette expansion.Can you Eliminate Mouth Breathing?

We have many days now of greatly improved focus and attention and with less hyperactivity. She is able to quickly get herself ready for school in the morning and stay on task at school.

Her adrenal health is gradually improving as she gets more sleep and we continue with a nutrient dense, allergen-free diet. Her hair and nails are stronger. She has not had severe skin problems this winter for the first time in years.

The mouth breathing is not 100% gone, but it is drastically decreased. We are still using tape at night and doing mouth exercises during the day.

Is Your Child a Mouth Breather?

Don’t let it go untreated. It will change the shape of the face and impact overall health. Find the root problem (i.e. allergies). Then seek appropriate treatment to eliminate it.

Finally, consider palate expansion to undo the structural damage, keep the nasal passage open, and create a beautiful smile with enough room for all of your child’s teeth. I’m so thankful we stopped the mouth breathing in its tracks, and my daughter has been given a new start. Her smile says it all.

Help for Mouth Breathing

This post is linked to Savoring Saturdays.

Sometimes it seems like more of a hassle than it's worth to get your kids in the kitchen. But that work will pay off, especially if you start early. That's why I let my toddler use knives!

I Let My Toddler Use Knives

Sometimes it seems like more of a hassle than it’s worth to get your kids in the kitchen. But that work will pay off, especially if you start early. That’s why I let my toddler use knives!

Sometimes it seems like more of a hassle than it's worth to get your kids in the kitchen. But that work will pay off, especially if you start early. That's why I let my toddler use knives!

Getting my kids in the kitchen is nothing new to me.

All three of my kids have been in the kitchen with me since birth…makes sense seeing as I spend half my day there!

I let my kids get involved as soon as they are able. My oldest was baking cookies with me at nine months.

Teaching Kids Life Skills

But I never really taught my kids a set of skills. I never really let them take control.

Until I started doing the Kids Cook Real Food ecourse from Kitchen Stewardship!

I started with my older kids (ages 7 and 4 at the time). They love it! And I love watching them gain confidence and asking to help in the kitchen.

Sometimes it seems like more of a hassle than it's worth to get your kids in the kitchen. But that work will pay off, especially if you start early. That's why I let my toddler use knives!

Toddlers Can Use Knives!

Little sister has been sitting on the sidelines observing until recently. She turned two in August. And she was more than ready to join in the fun!

We started with knife skills. That may sound strange, but it really is an important skill and one that even a toddler can do. She loves to slice bananas any chance she gets. Every time we walk by them sitting on the counter she puts in her request.

I can teach her proper techniques while keeping her safe (cutting bananas with a butter knife is fairly harmless). And all of those banana slices she makes either go in her mouth or in the freezer for a delicious dessert or to add to smoothies later.

Sometimes it seems like more of a hassle than it's worth to get your kids in the kitchen. But that work will pay off, especially if you start early. That's why I let my toddler use knives!

Kitchen Skills for Kids

We are now moving on to other skills like measuring and pouring. She LOVES pouring beans or water back and forth in containers. Big brother does it right along with her to sharpen his skills. Then they make homemade fruit snacks on their own! Sometimes we use molds. Sometimes we make them in a pan so they can practice knife skills again by cutting them into cubes.

What five-year old do you know that can make his own healthy fruit snacks instead of eating the artificially colored and flavored waxy things out of a bag?

It really is possible.

Sometimes it seems like more of a hassle than it's worth to get your kids in the kitchen. But that work will pay off, especially if you start early. That's why I let my toddler use knives!

Kids in the Kitchen

My older kids (now 8 and 5) are always willing to lend a helping hand with dinner preparation. Which is such a blessing to me! And I get the pleasure of giving them praise and boosting their confidence.

My eight-year old has a goal this year of being able to make a whole meal on her own. Right now our goal is confidence and safety cooking at the stove. And now that we are homeschooling we are adding it right into our curriculum. It’s so much fun.

She is even starting to create her own recipes and keeps begging to start her own blog. Did I mention she’s only eight?!

You really will be amazed at just how much kids can do in the kitchen when you give them a chance.

Sometimes it seems like more of a hassle than it's worth to get your kids in the kitchen. But that work will pay off, especially if you start early. That's why I let my toddler use knives!

Kids Can Cook

Yes, even a two-year old can be helpful in the kitchen and start learning life skills. By the time my kids are teenagers I’m afraid I may be out of a job!

Are you ready to have some help in the kitchen?Kids Cook Real Food

 

Try the knife skills lessons for FREE!

Sometimes it seems like more of a hassle than it's worth to get your kids in the kitchen. But that work will pay off, especially if you start early. That's why I let my toddler use knives!

More Cooks in the Kitchen

It’s hard to believe I wrote this post over five years ago! I have now added another budding chef to the mix. My current toddler also loves getting messy in the kitchen with me. He is a big fan of washing dishes. That is another important skill!

My other chefs are 13, 10, and almost 7. They love to help plan meals every week and participate in dinner prep often.

I love that they are empowered to make healthy food choices and gain essential life skills. I have no worries about them taking ownership of their health as they get older.

But even after all these years we still go back to the Kids Cook Real Food ecourse for a refresher periodically. It’s great practice and motivation!

Adventurous Eater

Do you let your kids help (or take over) in the kitchen often? Has your toddler learned to properly use a knife yet?

No more fights. No more allergies. Learn how to get your kids on a rotation diet.

How To Begin A Rotation Diet for Kids

When it comes to allergies, diet is key This includes rotating foods.. Wondering how to get your kids on a rotation diet…and avoid the resistance? Let them have control!

No more fights. No more allergies. Learn how to get your kids on a rotation diet.

One of the hardest things about an allergy diagnosis is taking food away from your child.

Who wants to say, “Sorry, no more apple slices”? Or “Your sister is having cheese, but you can’t have it now”?

Then you break the news. You also have to rotate your food. The raisins you like to snack on every day? Now you can only eat them every four days. I hope you enjoyed that banana. You can’t have another until later this week.

How to Follow A Rotation Diet

This may sound like a joke, but it’s not. Using a rotation diet for allergies is one of the most important things you can do. It certainly does not make dealing with allergies easier. But it will help in the healing and prevention process. By rotating the food you eat on a four-day cycle, you allow the body time to heal. It also prevents the development of new allergies, which is so common. Eating the same foods day after day when you have allergies is a recipe for disaster.

No more fights. No more allergies. Learn how to get your kids on a rotation diet.

If you have never heard of or tried a rotation diet be sure to read about how a rotation diet works and why it is critical for those with allergies!

So just how do you get your kids on board with this new way of eating?
 

How to Get Kids on a Rotation Diet

Today I’m at Kitchen Stewardship sharing fun tips for getting kids of any age on a rotation diet. Read the full article HERE.

I’ve also got a super cool FREE printout to help you get started. Get your copy now.

How A Rotation Diet Helps With Food Allergies | Just Take A Bite

How A Rotation Diet Helps With Food Allergies

When it comes to food allergies, one of the biggest mistakes parents make is feeding their kids the same foods over and over. While it may make life easier, it could cause more problems in the long run. Implementing a rotation diet is a great strategy for feeding kids with food allergies.

Active Eater

“You should try a rotation diet.”

I first heard those words when I went through a whole assortment of tests a few years ago and the results showed a lot of latent food allergies.

My first thought: “You want me to not eat the same foods two days in a row?”

How Leftovers Impact Gut Health

I am a creature of habit and the queen of repetition. I am an Analytical Eater after all! I could eat the same food for breakfast, lunch and dinner every day for a week and not mind one bit. And if I really like something, I often do eat it every day. Plus I LOVE leftovers. I’m odd but I like cold leftovers better than freshly made food. So the idea of not eating things two days in a row was crazy to me.

My second thought: “How is that going to help?”

Turns out it helps a lot. Though I didn’t fully realize it at the time.

Why Won't My Child Eat?! Simple strategies to feed any child with food allergies, sensitivities, oral spd, refusal to eat, and more!

I went home, did more research and got started. I only had one child eating solids at the time. So it wasn’t that tough to modify meals for the family and work around my new diet. I stuck with it for a while and had fun experimenting with new recipes.

Then life got busy. I gradually fell back into old habits. I had a one year old that was always on the move. And a very smart four year old that needed lots of stimulation and always wanted to learn something new. Plus I was tired and struggling with adrenal fatigue. Back to eating the same foods all the time and feeding my kids the same foods.How to use a rotation diet to minimize food allergies and introduce new foods with ease. #foodallergies #feedingkids #healthykids

Rotating Foods for Allergies

Fast forward a year and my son was diagnosed with along list of food allergies. All the allergist told us to do was avoid the worst offenders. That was it for advice.

Ok. We can do that. No dairy, eggs, rice, beans, peas, grapes, pears and a few other foods. Not fun. But we’ll manage.

Six months later we went for a retest. The allergies were worse, and new ones had popped up.

It was then that I learned how a rotation diet can help with allergies and just how important it is.

Can you guess what foods my son now reacted strongly to?

All the foods he ate frequently and foods we used to replace his allergens. Oops. Mom fail. Lesson learned. Sort of.

Why Won't My Child Eat?!

We’ve gone through this up and down cycle of sticking to food rotation and then getting busy and slipping back into old habits many times. And almost every time we pay for it by adding new allergies.

Knowing just how important rotation is, I was very strict about enforcing it with my youngest daughter from the start.

How A Rotation Diet Works

That’s a little background. I hope I didn’t lose you at the mention of a rotation diet.

It’s kind of a strange concept. Basically you eat foods on a four-day rotation. So if you eat an apple on Monday you can’t eat an apple again until Friday.

How does that help? And why four days?

Allergies can start or worsen with repeated exposure to an allergen, especially in allergy-prone people and those with leaky guts (which includes many of us). So if you are consuming the same food day after day, any reaction to that food will gradually intensify. It’s kind of like picking at a cut. The more you pick at it, the worse it will get.

When you eat a problem food, your body produces “masking” antibodies. After four days those antibodies are gone (if you aren’t eating the food). So you can better assess if a particular food was bothering you. If you eat the same food every day those antibodies do not clear out and you’re left guessing and having reaction upon reaction. Been there, done that.

Food Rotation on a Restricted Diet

Ideally you should rotate food families. But this is not always possible. My youngest daughter did not even have enough safe foods to span four days with rotating families. So we stuck with rotating individual foods and tried not to have food families span more than two days. You have to do what works for you.

An added bonus of rotation is that it forces you to have variety in your diet, which leads to a broader spectrum of vitamins and minerals. This is beneficial for the whole family, not just those with allergies. So get everyone on board!

Sound like a good theory but impossible to implement? It’s not. I promise. It just takes some planning.

How to Start a Rotation Diet

  1. Make a list of all of the foods you can eat. You can do this for the whole family or just for the individuals with allergies.
  2. Group the safe foods into food families.
  3. Now start filling in four days, including foods from each food group (fruits, vegetables, grains/starches, fats, proteins) in each day.

I also like to group foods that we commonly eat together. For example, beef and tomatoes are good on the same day for making spaghetti with meat sauce or tacos with salsa. I include peppers and onions on those days too. Rice tends to go well with chicken or pork. I put lettuce and a few favorite salad toppings on the same day.

How A Rotation Diet Helps With Allergies | Just Take A Bite

Rotation Diet Meal Plan

Play around with it until you find a rotation that works for your family. Then start planning! Oddly enough a rotation diet can actually make meal planning easier. A lot of the decisions are made for you. The other day I was planning a meal for a day with pumpkin, rice, lettuce and cucumbers. So we had pumpkin pasta (rice noodles) and salads. Perfect!

I even manage to use leftovers by making my “day” go from dinner one day to lunch the next. So dinner leftovers can still be eaten for easy lunches. Then we start our next day with dinner again.

One down side to a rotation diet is that it can be hard to eat seasonally. It just depends on how restricted your diet is. We’ve been eating asparagus all year because my daughter likes it and tolerates it. Normally we only eat it in the spring when it’s growing in our garden. But having food options wins over eating seasonally. Not to mention on a rotation diet you can’t eat cherries every day for two weeks straight while they are fresh. The rotation is more important.

An Easy Way to Identify Food Reactions

Since starting a rotation diet with my kids, it is a lot easier to keep new allergies to a minimum and to spot an offending food right away. Sometimes people think I’m crazy when I say I can pinpoint food reactions in a couple days. But I can. It is because we use a rotation diet. This is also very helpful when re-introducing foods. It’s easy to tell right away if my child is still reacting or not. So we can try one new food a week when I think they are ready.

Before dealing with allergies, my diet was about the farthest thing from rotated. I ate the same foods day after day after day. And I paid the price with a long list of latent allergies. And I have seen firsthand how not rotating foods has negatively impacted my children.

Using a rotation diet is one of the most important things you can do for someone with allergies. And it is just one of the many topics I cover in my book Why Won’t My Child Eat?!. I’ve got tips on how to observe your child for food reactions and how to deal with picky eating. I’ve even got a tried and true method for feeding a child that refuses to eat anything (I’ve been there…for months). Plus lots more.

Get your copy of Why Won’t My Child Eat?! so you can take the guess work out of behavior issues and picky eating and start enjoying meal times again.

Do you have kids with allergies? Do you use a rotation diet or are you stuck in a rut with a handful of safe foods?

Get out of the rut and get on the road to better health with a rotation diet. Then take the next steps to having great eaters with the tips I share in Why Won’t My Child Eat?!.

The Best Strategies for Feeding a Child with Oral Sensory Processing Disorder

Are meal times a battle? Is your child’s diet limited due to flavors and textures? Is chewing a chore? Would a delicious treat like leftover muffin bread pudding be out of the question because it’s “too mushy?” Take heart! I’ve got the best strategies for feeding a child with oral sensory issues.child refusing to eat

I have two kids with oral sensory issues. But I didn’t even know it until I wrote this post! To clarify, we’ve been working on my daughter’s sensory issues since she was a baby. But I didn’t realize some of my son’s behavior was related to sensory issues until I did more research.

Why is that? They are at the opposite ends of the spectrum. Some kids with oral sensory issues fear stimulation. It is the most obvious with refusal to chew, eat, etc. That is my oldest. I still remember being so excited to feed her solid food when she was six months old. Such a milestone with your first child! But it did not go as well as I had hoped. Everything came right back out. Little did I know we’d be battling that problem ten years later!

Some kids crave stimulation, like my son. He eats pretty well…but he always stuffs as much food in his mouth as possible and is constantly chewing on things (non-food items like clothes, toys and his hands). He seeks out oral stimulation. Maybe that’s why he loved nursing so much! Though he really had no interest in solid food until about ten months old.Are meal times a battle? Is your child's diet limited due to flavors, textures and trouble chewing? Here are the best strategies for feeding a child with oral sensory issues.

What is Oral Sensory Processing Disorder?

As you can see there is such a difference just between two kids in the same family. So you can imagine that the spectrum of oral sensory issues is quite broad. Here are some of the common symptoms.

The child…

  • won’t use utensils/eats with his hands
  • won’t stay in a chair during a meal
  • puts more food in his mouth than fits
  • chews with her mouth open
  • chews with her front teeth
  • chews on toys and clothes
  • holds food in her mouth for a long period of time
  • will only eat certain textures, sizes, shapes or colors of food
  • gags on food easily
  • refuses to try new foods
  • is afraid of eating
  • pushes food forward with his tongue instead of back

As if getting kids to eat a nourishing diet wasn’t hard enough. When you add Oral Sensory Processing Disorder it just compounds the problem. But take heart. It can be done! It just takes some work figuring out how best to meet your child’s needs.

I have a collection of strategies for feeding kids with all sorts of challenges. Some are simple tricks to try at home. Some require help from therapists and doctors. Start with one and keep working through the list to figure out what works best for you. I’ll share our own successful strategies as well.

Eating Styles Membership

Also keep in mind that every child has a unique Eating Style that dictates how they eat. What seems like a sensory issue could in fact just be how they express themselves through eating. Learn more about your child’s Eating Style HERE!

Are meal times a battle? Is your child's diet limited due to flavors, textures and trouble chewing? Here are the best strategies for feeding a child with oral sensory processing disorder. #oralspd #pickyeaters #feedingkids

At-home Tools for Feeding a Child with Oral Sensory Processing Disorder

  1. Try different textures.
    It goes without saying that food texture is a huge obstacle with sensory issues. Mushy, chewy, crunchy, crispy liquid, solid. I’m sure your child has a multitude of categories. Figure out what textures your child is comfortable with and serve those foods first. Gradually try introducing new textures. Just one bite at a time is sufficient. Go at your child’s pace. You don’t want to make eating stressful or scary. Over time you can try larger quantities. If your child is a fan of smoothies I’ve got tons of healthy ones in my book Easy Nourishment for Picky Eaters.
  2. Let kids play with food.
    One of the best ways to get a child with oral sensory issues comfortable with a particular food is to let them play with it. Create a lunch with various dips, spreads and crackers. Make a snack of fruits and veggies and let them make a picture out of it. Don’t put any pressure on the child to eat it. Just let them have fun creating things.kids cooking
  3. Teach kids to cook.
    This is one of my favorite strategies. Not only does teaching your child to cook often get them to try new foods, it also sets them up for success as an adult. They’ll get feeding therapy and life skills all in one! We’ve been using the Kids Cook Real Food ecourse for over two years now. It has been amazing to watch my kids build confidence with their skills and be willing to try so many foods! It’s a win-win.
  4. Make meals fun.
    It never hurts to cater to a child’s playful nature. Try fun straws for drinking smoothies and pureed soups. Cut sandwiches into shapes. Use an assortment of cups with different shapes and textures. Or maybe get a new cup or straw as a prize for trying something new. Relate a meal to a story you just read (i.e. porridge from Goldilocks). Anything to associate eating with fun.
  5. Exercise the mouth.
    For some kids the physical act of eating is truly hard. Exercises can help train their muscles. Kind of like lifting weights for your mouth. Have them practice sucking from a straw, blowing bubbles, making sounds, chewing chewy and crunchy food. Anything that gets their mouth moving in different ways.
  6. Use different utensils.
    It drives my husband and I crazy that our two oldest rarely use utensils unless we tell them (force them!) to. I never really thought about how the utensils feel to them. Or that they could be challenging to manipulate (especially since our three-year old uses them so well!). If this is the case for your kids experiment with spoons and forks of different materials, sizes and shapes. Find something your child is comfortable putting in his mouth.
  7. Experience food away from meals.
    Kids learn that they are expected to eat at meal times. Which creates pressure and sometimes anxiety. Offer your child exposure to food away from a meal time, without expectations. Give her a plate of fruits and veggies to snack on as she pleases. Let her play with them. Make sure she knows she can eat the food if she wants or leave it all there. It’s up to her. This will help her relax and build confidence.
  8. Use body movement before eating.
    Another struggle for my kids is sitting in a chair to eat. Some kids just need to move to satisfy their need for stimulation. Body movement before a meal can help this. Before coming to the table have them try some jumping, rocking, hanging or climbing. Other forms of touch that might help are hugs and being wrapped in a blanket. Ease their senses first. Then start the meal. Or let them stand or sit on a balance ball to eat.
  9. Use chew toys.
    It may sound strange, but some kids just need to chew! They need constant oral stimulation. They can’t eat non-stop (though sometimes it seems they try to!). Candy and gum are not healthy options. A simple solution is a chew toy. There are special ones designed for older kids/kids with oral sensory issues. I’m tempted to get one for my son so he’ll stop putting his hands and toys in his mouth. For a long time I thought maybe he was cutting molars. But after a few years of the behavior I know he just needs oral stimulation.sweet potato burger
  10. Experiment with flavors.
    Generally kids with oral sensory issues need very bland and mild-flavored food. But that isn’t always the case. Some kids like a lot of spice. Talk to your child and experiment with different flavors. Salty, sweet, spicy, bitter, bold, mild. My oldest can’t handle any spice. But she loves tons of salt. My son, on the other hand, enjoys spicy food. Again, that difference between sensory avoidance and sensory stimulation is obvious.
  11. Improve gut health.
    Oral sensory issues are related to the nervous system, which is controlled by the brain. A nervous system dysfunction often points to leaky gut, where foreign invaders (such as food particles and toxins) leak through the intestines and cause an immune response. They also impact proper function of the brain. The solution is to work on gut health. This can include daily probiotics, digestive support like enzymes and sometimes a specific diet (remove allergens, elimination diet, rotation diet, etc.). 
  12. Stick to a schedule.
    Kids with sensory issues like routine. They want to know what to expect. They fear unknowns. Sticking to a regular eating schedule can be calming. They know when food is coming and when they are expected to eat. It is important to keep up the routine even on weekends, vacations, etc.

Orthodontic workTesting and Therapy for Oral Sensory Processing Disorder

  1. Orthodontic work to correct the palate.
    Oral sensory issues often coincide with structural problems with the mouth. Orthodontic work to expand the palate can help make the physical process of chewing and swallowing easier. It will also help with proper breathing. While traditional orthodontics may help, we found that Orthotropics was much more effective. You can read our story here.
  2. Speech and occupational therapy.
    Sometimes oral sensory issues point to a lack of proper reflex integration. All reflexes of the body should integrate during infancy if the child is developing properly. But it doesn’t always happen. My oldest still has her tongue thrust reflex, meaning she pushes food forward with her tongue instead of back to the throat for swallowing. Both speech and occupational therapy can help get all of the reflexes integrated properly and train the mouth to chew well.
  3. Craniosacral therapy, chiropractic care and functional neurology.
    All of these therapies focus on the whole body structure and how things work together. Tension in the neck and spine can cause the tongue to feel restricted, making chewing difficult. Getting the whole body in alignment and loosened will let your child relax and have an easier time eating. We have used all three of these therapies to help with breastfeeding issues and sensory problems in older kids.child chewing
  4. Vitamin and mineral deficiencies and imbalances.
    Nourishing food is a must when dealing with oral sensory issues. The root problem can be a vitamin and mineral deficiency and/or imbalance. It can also be related to heavy metals. Hair tissue mineral analysis is the best way to find out where your child is lacking and develop a plan for supplementation and dietary changes. Some simple supplements to start with are probiotics and digestive enzymes. These are beneficial to all children.
  5. Tongue and lip ties.
    Revising a tongue and/or lip tie can give a child more ability to chew and swallow properly. It will also improve speech and overall oral structure. Find a preferred provider (that treats with laser) to do the evaluation. A tongue tie may not be obvious to you.

Oral Sensory Feeding Problems

If your child is struggling with eating due to oral sensory issues there is a lot you can do to help! Try a few of the at-home strategies. And don’t be afraid to seek help from professionals. It can be life-changing for both you and your child.

Looking to dig even deeper into your child’s feeding struggles? I’ve got more tips and strategies in my book Why Won’t My Child Eat?!. Grab your copy here!

Or figure out your child’s Eating Style to meet their unique needs.

Would you prefer 1:1 support? See if Nutritional Therapy is right for you!

Have you tried any of these strategies for oral sensory feeding issues? Do you use others?

I’d love to hear what works for you!

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 strategy to force feed a picky eater sounds cruel. But it might be just what your child needs to get back on track!

The strategy to force feed a picky eater sounds cruel. But it might be just what your child needs to get back on track! Here is my secret weapon to get any picky eater back to fully nourished status and enjoying lots of real food again.

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 daughter 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.

How to Feed an Under-Eater

What did I do?

I forced her to eat.

Now, before you become alarmed, let me explain what I mean by force feed.

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 strategy to force feed a picky eater sounds cruel. But it might be just what your child needs to get back on track! Here is my secret weapon to get any picky eater back to fully nourished status and enjoying lots of real food again.

Nourishing Drinks for Picky Eaters

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 for Picky Eaters

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!

Grab your copy HERE!

Easy Nourishment for Picky Eaters

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 strategy to force feed a picky eater sounds cruel. But it might be just what your child needs to get back on track! Here is my secret weapon to get any picky eater back to fully nourished status and enjoying lots of real food again.

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. And hopefully you won’t have to force feed him!

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 strategy to force feed a picky eater sounds cruel. But it might be just what your child needs to get back on track! Here is my secret weapon to get any picky eater back to fully nourished status and enjoying lots of real food again.

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.

Why we stopped the VAD Diet

Why We Stopped the Vitamin A Detox Diet…and Why Healing Diets Fail

Ever heard of the Vitamin A Detox Diet? Wondering if it is the cure you’ve been searching for or just the next dietary fad? This is our family’s journey on the VAD Diet and why we stopped it after a year.

Why we stopped the VAD Diet

I hope this is the last one.

The last post I ever write saying why yet another diet failed.

The last time I go to an extreme in the search for healing.

The last prescribed diet I ever attempt.

Though I can’t make any guarantees. I’m a tactile learner. I have to try things before I can assess them.

But I’ve done it before. I’ve done all sorts of experimenting with high this, low that, add this, remove that. Then I went on the GAPS Diet in 2010 and got my health way off track. After recovering from it, I told myself I’d never do it again.

Well, never say never. I did it again.

What is the Vitamin A Detox Diet

In November of 2018 I embarked on the Vitamin A Detox Diet, spear-headed by Grant Generux and Dr. Garrett Smith.

The theory is that Vitamin A is not actually a vitamin, instead it is a toxin. I wrote about it in detail in my post answering the question “Is Vitamin A Really a Vitamin?” It was my first post on Vitamin A – published exactly one year ago today!

I thought it was the answer I was looking for. I did a lot of reading and research. My infant was struggling with breastfeeding issues that nothing seemed to help. So I dove in.

The basic idea is to eat a very low Vitamin A diet in order to drain the body of stored Vitamin A. This in turn should resolve most health problems.

Good theory. Not so good practical application. And not sufficient evidence to support it aside from extreme examples.Why we stopped the VAD Diet

Why We Stopped the VAD Diet

Our journey started out great. I cut out high Vitamin A foods. I did HTMA to assess my body’s needs. I faithfully took my supplements. Even when the recommendations seemed to change on a daily basis. Add this. Wait, no, that will make you worse. Try this. Oh, wait, that’s not good at all (if only I could have all of the money back that I wasted on strange supplements that either didn’t work or made things worse!).

This food is on the ok list. Now it’s horrible. Oh, now it’s ok again. I knew it was a new theory and we were all learning. But the wishy-washy recommendations were a red flag.

The original time-frame of the diet was anywhere from one to six months. That seemed doable. But as time went on it kept extending – one year, two years, five years. Hmmm…

We did see some progress at first.

Then we got to the 6-7 month mark. And things changed.

I went from feeling good to my digestive system basically shutting down overnight. And six months later it still is not very functional. It’s been a hard setback to accept as I had worked so hard for years to get where I was.

My oldest went back to struggling with focus.

My eight-year-old’s eczema and food reactions started coming back.

My five-year-old’s leg pains and poor appetite returned.

My nursling started to sleep poorly and react to foods again.

Basically it all came crashing down.

I know how it goes. Detox is a crazy process. Sometimes you go two steps forward and one step back. So we stuck with it. I thought maybe it was just a bump in the road to full healing. But that bump turned into one month, then two, then three,…

It wasn’t detox at all. It was deficiency.

Does a Low Vitamin A Diet Cause Deficiencies?

I intentionally worked with a naturopathic doctor when embarking on the VAD Diet to avoid problems. As I mentioned, I was breastfeeding and of course run down from lack of sleep. I didn’t want to make things worse.

But even with multiple HTMAs, my increasing deficiencies were not addressed. I had to figure that out on my own.

The biggest deficiencies from the VAD Diet that I experienced were:

  • magnesium
  • all of the B vitamins, especially B1
  • an imbalance of macrominerals
  • zinc
  • possibly Vitamin E
  • and likely Vitamin A!

As time went on some of my symptoms got worse and worse. These included:

  • tinitus (ringing ears – multiple times daily)
  • tingling hands and feet/extremities going numb
  • low energy
  • low milk supply
  • inability to focus/think clearly
  • slow digestion
  • food intolerances
  • gallbladder pain
  • eye twitching
  • excessive thirst/inability to hydrate
  • candida/yeast/rashes/itching
  • edema
  • hypothyroid

I hit my breaking point. The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over expecting different results. Well, I was going insane. I had to change directions. And I did.

At first I was going to go gradually. But then my body started to crave so many nourishing foods. I just let go of rules and ate what sounded good. It was wonderful!

I have still had to use supplements to get back in balance. My body is so depleted from pregnancy, breastfeeding, and restriction. It is going to take a while to get where I need to be. I look forward to the day when I don’t have a pile of supplements to take every morning!Vitamin A and thyroid health

Does Vitamin A Impact Thyroid Health?

I briefly want to address thyroid health. I was diagnosed with hypothyriodism in 2006. I’ve been on medication to control it ever since.

Ultimately my goal is to heal enough to get off of medication and control things with diet and lifestyle. But so far I’m not there. And I suspect I won’t get there until I am done breastfeeding and have some time to focus on just my health. I’ve been pregnant or breastfeeding for the past twelve years!

So for now I need medication. While on the VAD Diet I started lowering my dose. I thought I was getting better. I heard others talking about improving thyroid health. So I took a risk and reduced my medication. But I think it was a big mistake.

I started to feel all of the same symptoms I had after my miscarriage in 2013. Weight creeping up no matter how little I eat or how much I exercise. Feeling puffy all the time. Lowered body temperature. Extra tired. Sluggish digestion. All of my hypothyroid symptoms returned.

In June of 2018 my thyroid labs were great! Then I started lowering my meds on the VAD Diet. In February of 2019 my levels were getting worse. But I ignored the numbers. I felt ok for a little while. Then not so much.

I just had a new round of bloodwork (January 2020). Sure enough, it shows things have gotten worse. Actually a lot worse. I need to really bump up my medication dose. Back to where I started. I know it’s temporary, but still disheartening. My Free T3 has not been this low in years. In June of 2018 it was at the top of the range (ideal). Now it is at the bottom. My Free T4 is on the low end as well. It should be mid-range.

Now I know why I’ve been feeling some of my old symptoms return. I’m in a serious hypothyroid state right now.

So does Vitamin A impact thyroid health? I think so. There are many factors. But a low Vitamin A diet is not a diet I would recommend for improving thyroid health. It definitely made my thyroid issues worse. Do kids need Vitamin A?

Is Vitamin A Essential for Kids?

So far I’ve mostly talked about my own health. But I do want to address my kids as well. They were all on the diet. Though I never had my oldest three on full restriction. And in hindsight I’m so glad! They were able to transition off the diet pretty easily and have been making strides ever since.

Thankfully they still ate some eggs and pork to help minimize deficiencies.

What I really want to focus on is my toddler. He was on the full diet with me from day one. We ate the same foods.

On the whole he seemed to do well for a while. He was growing well and nursing well.

But there was one major red flag that I should have picked up on sooner. His speech.

All of my kids have been early talkers. My oldest knew all of her letters and could count to twenty before she was two! So when my youngest wasn’t saying anything by his first birthday I was concerned.

Just as we were starting the diet (7/8 months old) he was starting to talk. He was saying “mama” and “chick” (when he saw our chickens) and “out” (when he wanted to go outside).

And then that all stopped. No more words. Just “eh” every time he wanted to say something. He was frustrated. We were all frustrated.

I could tell he’s very smart. He loves to read and will sit through book after book and you can tell he remembered every picture and knew what everything was. But he couldn’t say anything. There was a disconnect.

I have heard others complain of this symptom as well – they can’t find the right words or finish sentences. There is some type of miscommunication between the brain and the mouth. And it impacted my son big time.

Until we stopped the diet. It was crazy. Within a couple weeks he started saying more. And now he basically repeats every word he hears. He says all of his siblings names. He names every animal and picture in the books we read. It’s so fun to see him be able to communicate effectively.

Just the other day my husband commented, “His speech has exploded in the last two months!” It truly has. My Father-in-law also commented on my son’s speech when he visited for Christmas. He couldn’t believe the difference. His poor little body was deficient as well. I’m so glad we are getting him back to full health! It gives me such joy.

Whether it is Vitamin A or the other deficiencies that had the biggest impact I can’t say. I’ll probably never know. But I do know that the VAD Diet negatively impacted his development.

I also wanted to mention his size. While his speech was delayed, his growth was off the charts! That might sound like a good thing, but I’m not sure. At his last checkup he was in the 97th percentile for height. If you’ve ever seen my family, you know that we aren’t even remotely close to anything called tall.

Most people think my eleven-year-old is seven or eight because she is so short. I’m only 5’3″. My husband isn’t very tall either. So having our youngest several inches taller than his siblings were at this age seems strange.

It could just be a different mix of genes. We have extended relatives that are tall. But it could also be the diet. I have heard some claim they are getting taller on the VAD Diet. I also heard the other day that one of the best predictors of longevity is height, specifically the shorter you are, the longer you’ll live. If those statements are both true, then it would seem that the VAD Diet is shortening life span. Just an observation. But I’ll be curious to see if his growth continues at this pace or if it slows down now that we are off the diet.

Interestingly, a few days before publishing this post a reader that had been on the VAD Diet contacted me and expressed concern over her young son’s growth – how tall he was! So there may be something to it.

Salt for health

Why Salt is Important for Health

When starting the VAD Diet and working with my ND, I was told to stop eating unrefined sea salt – that it contained toxins. So I switched the family to basic salt – sodium chloride.

At first I also added potassium chloride to it to get a balance of minerals. But the potassium gave me horrible anxiety. So I quit that.

Back to just plain salt.

But it never felt right. I could hardly taste it. I had to put so much on my food. Not a big deal I thought.

But it started to be a big deal when I could never get hydrated. I would guzzle glass after glass of water without quenching my thirst. I even added extra salt to my liquids, but it didn’t help.

Then my legs started swelling on a daily basis.

My electrolytes were so out of balance. My sodium intake was too high compared with my other macrominerals.

As we were coming off the VAD Diet I switched back to Real Salt. It was wonderful!

I could taste my food again. I could feel things absorbing. My insatiable thirst went away, and my swelling went down.

Why Healing Diets Fail

Last year I tried a new diet that made big promises. And it failed us. In quite a few ways as you can see. But it’s not the only one. Ultimately most healing diets fail.

That may sound extreme. I mean, they all have some merit and of course success stories. But they also have potential problems.

All healing diets have their own spin on what food/nutrient/component is toxic/inflammatory/etc. They all have their own spin on what is healing and restorative.

But at the end of the day they are all restricted diets. And any restricted diet done long term is going to cause problems – not only deficiencies and imbalances, but also anxiety, mental struggles and orthorexia for some.

You can find some healing with pretty much any major dietary change. It doesn’t have to be a diet with a label. Any time we shake things up, it will help our bodies do some detox and healing. Within about two weeks of starting the VAD Diet I had a noticeable detox. I wish I would have stopped there.

This is why most people see progress on any healing diet for up to six months. But as they go longer they see problems arise. Their bodies get out of balance. Deficiencies are created. They have lost their ability to eat intuitively and based on their needs day in and day out.

So if you want some healing – a little detox to propel your health forward -just make a change. If you eat a lot of nuts, cut them out for a month. If you eat an apple every day, switch to grapes for a few weeks.

Any time you eat the same foods over and over you could be creating some inflammation.

Don’t jump right to a restricted diet as the solution. Just make a change. After a few weeks your body will naturally do a little detox and rebalancing and you’ll probably feel better.

It’s good for your microbiome to make changes and feed different bacteria. That doesn’t require a long-term restrictive diet.

Life After the VAD Diet

So, now what? How are we eating and how are we feeling? That is what most people ask me.

First, I don’t have any rules about how we eat. Just real, whole foods that sound good and that we tolerate. That’s it.

My girls drink raw milk. My boys don’t tolerate it. The oldest three eat eggs. My youngest doesn’t tolerate them. We all eat homemade sourdough. But other than that we are gluten-free.

I’m always playing around with foods and finding out what balance and ratios work best for us. It varies day-to-day. But it is highly individual.

As I study to become a Nutritional Therapy Practitioner I am reminded of the importance of bio-individuality. We each have a unique set of genes, stresses, circumstances, health issues, environments, and more. Even the weather and the seasons play a role. So how we live and eat on a daily basis is so individual. There is no one-size-fits-all approach.

That is how I will approach my practice, my one-on-one work with clients. Every person has different needs and by looking at both the big picture and the details we can help figure out what works best for them.

A few areas of progress since going off the diet (mostly my own) have been:

  • ear ringing is rare
  • eye twitch is gone
  • gallbladder pain is gone
  • tingling in hands is gone
  • excessive thirst is gone
  • swelling is mostly gone
  • skin is clear and healthy and soft – no more cysts!
  • hair regrowth like crazy
  • more energy and the desire to move! I’ve even done a little jogging (instead of slow walking) and have increased the intensity on my stationary bike.
  • milk supply is good
  • able to think and focus much better
  • toddler’s speech

Some things that we’re still working on:

  • digestion
  • liver health
  • candida/yeast
  • hypothyroid
  • daughter’s leg pains (we use magnesium lotion for them)
  • food intolerances for everyone

How diet impacts emotionsThe Emotional Component of Healing Diets

I also wanted to mention the emotional, mental and social impact of a highly restrictive diet. We are used to having food restrictions. We’ve been dealing with food allergies for six years. And before I even had kids I was playing around with diet.

But limiting our food choices to such an extreme takes a toll on the family. My husband was frustrated that our menu was so limited and that we couldn’t eat anywhere besides home. We even had a garden full of food that only he was eating.

It puts a strain on relationships. And it’s hard to feel so different. Not only are you going against the grain with the way most people eat (Standard American Diet). But you are also going against your group of real food friends. It’s very isolating.

Is Vitamin A Toxicity Real?

That’s a tough question to answer. I do think that you can become toxic from just about anything in large enough amounts. And there are numerous case studies of patients with hypervitaminosis A. So I do think it’s a real condition (my opinion).

But is Vitamin A a toxin in and of itself? I don’t think so (again, my opinion). I’ll leave it at that. Do your own research to come to a conclusion.

Is the Vitamin A Detox Diet Healthy?

This is another tough question since there are so many unknowns. And again, it’s very individual.

At this point in time I can’t recommend the VAD Diet to anyone. Even after writing a whole book on how to do the diet with kids, I can’t support it.

I took my book down. Even though I spent a lot of time and energy creating it. Even though it was one of my few income sources at the moment. I don’t do things just for money.

There is no real way of knowing if the progress we made at the start of the diet was from the reduced Vitamin A or if it was simply from making a big diet change and adding supplements. What I do know is that done long-term it caused serious deficiencies.

To me a detox diet is meant to be both healing and short-term. You get a toxin out and then get back to being able to eat a wide variety of food. If the toxin is in most of the food, it’s not really a detox diet. It’s a permanent lifestyle of restriction. And if that lifestyle is only sustainable with supplements because it’s causing deficiencies, it’s not a good one. Just like I don’t think a vegan diet is healthy.

If I want to detox aluminum from my body, I follow a protocol. Then once it’s out, my body is functional and I can eat a variety of food, still trying to minimize exposure to aluminum. If the toxin is in the food, then a return to “normal” is not possible. Or if you do return to what was your normal diet, then it’s hard to say you believe Vitamin A it a toxin. Else you wouldn’t consume it.

And if it is a toxin, why is it in so many foods? There are still too many questions that just don’t have good answers.

A better long-term solution is to work on the health and function of your digestive system, liver, and gallbladder. If they are healthy, your detox pathway is healthy, and you can deal with toxins effectively.Moving on after the VAD Diet

The End of the VAD Diet

As I wrap up this post, I am putting an end to my involvement with the VAD Diet for the time being. Or maybe for good. I’ll watch from a distance. It is an interesting theory. And I’m curious to see how others fare on the diet.

But I will not be writing or talking about it any more.

I am disabling the comments on this post. I have given my reasons for why we stopped and talked about our journey. This is where it ends for us. If you have an earnest question you are always welcome to email.

I am heading into 2020 with renewed energy and focus. I am getting back to my passion – to give parents hope that they can overcome any feeding challenge.

I am focusing on my schooling to become an NTP and be certified to do HTMA (hair tissue mineral analysis). I am focusing on opening my practice to work one-on-one with moms and kids.

And I’m excited to continue expanding my Eating Styles Membership.

Lest anyone think I regret the past year, I don’t. Sure there are things I would have done differently had I known then what I know now. But that is how I learn. And boy have I learned a LOT this past year.

Not only about my own health and my family’s health, but health in general. I have learned what I believe and how I want to move forward.

I have also learned to be careful who I work with and associate with. Character means a lot to me. I’ve had numerous amazing partnerships this year, but also a couple that do not align with my beliefs. In the future I will be a bit more cautious before I work with individuals and brands.

I’m learning about the work of Ancel Keys right now in the book The Big Fat Surprise by Nina Teicholz. I thought this quote about him was very profound and holds true for so many trying to do groundbreaking work in health and nutrition.

Keys wanted his hypothesis to be presumed right until proven wrong. Yet – and this is an important point – science is not like the justice system. Whereas Americans are presumed to be innocent until proven guilty, scientific knowledge is just the opposite: a hypothesis must not be presumed right until a pile of significant evidence grows up behind it, and even then, you can never be entirely sure. All that one can ever really say is that the preponderance of the evidence tends to support one idea over another. Keys’s unwavering belief in his own hypothesis, even in its formative stages and even in the face of conflicting evidence, however, suggests he was willing to stray from these scientific principles to defend it.

The fame and the desire to be right overpowers the desire to actually practice good science.

I loved this quote as well:

Resisting these ‘idols of the mind,’ as the great seventeenth-century theorist Francis Bacon dubbed them, is exactly what the scientific method tries to do. A scientist must always try to disprove his or her own hypothesis. Or, as one of the great science philosophers of the twentieth century, Karl Popper, described, ‘The method of science is the method of bold conjectures and ingenious and severe attempts to refute them.’

If someone makes a health claim and only tries to show you support of it, question them. A good scientist will try to DISPROVE his or her hypothesis. If there is no way to disprove it, then it might be valid. But if there are numerous cases/studies that don’t support it – that is a red flag. To me, that is what is happening with the Vitamin A Detox Diet. Proponents are trying to prove it, but not allowing any talk of cases where it is disproved.

As Pete Ahrens stated in 1957:

When unproved hypotheses are enthusiastically proclaimed as facts,  it is timely to reflect on the possibility that other explanations can be given for the phenomena observed.

In other words, there is far too much we don’t know yet to so boldly claim that Vitamin A is a toxin and has no purpose for the human body. This being a very small-scale epidemiological study does not prove anything. Maybe cutting some of the high Vitamin A foods simply changes one’s fatty acid balance, giving more anti-inflammatory fatty acids to balance the pro-inflammatory ones? There are many ways to look at it.

Lastly, I did want to say that today’s post was about the main reasons we stopped the VAD Diet. There is definitely more to the story on both a personal and professional level. But I choose to keep that private. So if what I wrote seems a bit incomplete, it is. But it will have to do.

Just today in my devotions I read this:

Fulfilling God’s purpose is better than popularity. Loving God’s people is better than pleasure. Having God’s peace is better than possessions. – Pastor Rick Warren

That pretty much sums up my mindset heading into 2020.

What is a healthy diet

Does a Healthy Diet Exist?

Absolutely healthy diets exist! But you won’t read about them in a best-seller or an eCourse. What is healthy is up to you. Your body knows what it needs.

I have not tried AIP, keto, carnivore, or even a candida or parasite cleanse. I don’t really intend to either. In the end they generally lead to the same destination. Not listening to your body’s needs and nutrient deficiencies.

A healing protocol should be temporary. Supplementation should be temporary. Any deviation from a balanced diet should be temporary and just a stepping stone to get back to variety and good health.

What that looks like is different for every individual. The time-frame is individual. Circumstances are individual.

I know we live in a world where everyone is looking for a magic pill or cure or that one thing that will turn everything around. Even in the realm of real food where grains are the root of all health problems and liver is a life-source. We all just want to feel good.

But feeling good will not come from one supplement or one dietary change. Feeling good takes work every single day. It takes moving your body, getting enough sleep, minimizing toxin exposure, taking time to relax, chewing well, and more. Health is a lifestyle, not a detox diet or vilifying a single food or nutrient.

Thank you for going on this journey with me. I hope you have learned right along with me, and I hope you are ready to pursue a healthy lifestyle as we enter the New Year.

With that I’m saying goodbye to the Vitamin A Detox Diet. Time to move on.

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

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

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

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

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

Food dyes are connected to behavior – and not in a good way! Eliminating them has made a big difference in how my children feel and behave. It is literally like a drug for my oldest. Sometimes it makes her insane. Sometimes it makes her super mellow. Either way, it’s impacting her brain and is not good.

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

Instead of artificially-flavored fruit snacks you buy organic gummies or even make your own homemade fruit snacks! Instead of Trix yogurt with food dyes you get organic yogurt. Instead of traditional candy you buy organic suckers made with fruit. Sounds great!

Why Eliminating Food Dyes is Not Enough

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

Being the investigator that I am, I read labels, I observed her, I kept a food journal. She had already been gluten-free for a long time. And no other food seemed to be causing the problems.

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

What is Natural Flavor?

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

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

How is Natural Flavor Defined?

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

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

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

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

Is Natural Flavor Harmful?

According to dailyburn.com:

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

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

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

NaturalNews.com states:

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

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

Foodbabe.com says:

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

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

Do Manufacturers Lie About Ingredients?

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

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

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

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

These are the responses I got:

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

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

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

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

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

One website directly stated:

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

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

Does Anyone Know Where Natural Flavor Comes From?

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

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

Why Natural Flavor is Dangerous for Food Allergies

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

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

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

How to Avoid Natural Flavor

I’m not just a bearer of bad news. I want you to have hope! Don’t feel discouraged! You can still live a natural lifestyle. And it does NOT have to be complicated or involve convenience foods with suspicious ingredients.

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

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

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

Do you avoid natural flavor?

If you are looking for a simple way to keep your family healthy and thinking clearly, avoid natural flavor. This mystery ingredient has no place in real food.