When Challenges Bring Positive Change

Soon after I started practicing holistic nutrition in 2016, I’d come to realize that assessing someone’s situation and providing nutritional and lifestyle recommendations is only a piece of the puzzle. Then my clients have to go home and find a way to incorporate these changes into their busy and often stressful lives. Anybody that’s tried to incorporate better habits knows it’s not easy. I felt like I was failing all of them.

For 2 years, I was relentless with my social media posting; trying to inspire my community by displaying simple ways to incorporate better foods. Meanwhile trying to stay on top of every new health fad/trend, using myself as a guinea pig, listening to endless podcasts, webinars and nutritional summits desperately hoping to discover that ONE THING I’d been missing that could really help my clients.

Something wasn’t working. I had been trying so hard to be perfect while watching myself become more and more ill. In the fall of 2018 I stopped taking in new clients, stopped posting on social media, and turned my attention inwards for what became an entire year of self reflection.

This is what I learned:

1- FORCING doesn’t work.

I had been pushing so hard to learn more, do better & be perfect and none of it was working. I had to slow WAY down. I came across this beautiful video on Facebook, and promptly took on the mantra “less doing more being”. Eckhart Tolle (one of my all-time favourite teachers), also reminds us that even with the best of intentions, if your actions aren’t coming from a place of presence/consciousness, your ego will surely get in the way.

2- Things take time.

NOBODY likes to accept this in our world today. I know I don’t, and I know my clients didn’t. But if you don’t allow for time, well, read #1 above. So I started prioritizing meditating. The one thing I’ve known for years could expand my potential while simultaneously avoiding it at all costs because life feels too busy for it. As soon as I sit on my cushion I notice a flood of thoughts about all the things I should be doing instead of sitting still and following my breath.

3- Focusing on the desired end result takes us out of the present moment.

When I get inspired about something, boy can I run with it. It can almost feel manic. Whenever it happens I can hear my mother in my head saying “Sounds like you’ve got a bee in your bonnet”. The other side of this inspiration mania looks something along the lines of adrenal fatigue and disappointment because (see #2).

4- Our undesirable habits (addictions) are coping mechanisms for unresolved stress, emotions or trauma

People who eat when they’re stressed, or can’t give up the things they’re allergic to, or the wine, beer, pot etc. every evening to unwind, or the junk food, are masking SOMETHING. Telling them “hey this isn’t good for you, try eating/doing this instead” is not addressing the reason they’re doing it, and willpower eventually runs dry. I had to face my own coping mechanisms before I could truly see and appreciate this. How did I do this? Eating properly, prioritizing sleep, movement, fresh air, journaling and lots and lots of meditation. And it wasn’t/isn’t a linear process, but each step forward builds a foundation for a different way of living and coping, despite set backs.

So, what now? I’ve decided to start a weekly group mediation (by donation) to share space & serve my community while strengthening my own practice, Tuesday evenings beginning October 1st, 2019. If it’s a big turnout, I’ll add a second evening in November. If you’re interested, send me a message for details.

I’m also seeing clients again 🙂

Happy Equinox!

Are You a Highly Sensitive Person?

I have to admit, I’m not the biggest fan of labels. Eckhart Tolle is always reminding me that when you label something it’s like you’re putting it in a box, permanently defined. That being said, sometimes coming across labels have helped me find community with like-minded individuals. HSP is one of those labels. I’ve always been highly sensitive; to people, smells, visuals, emotions, digestion, chemicals & perfumes, mold & dust, the list goes on.

Being told my whole life “wow you are so sensitive” for various reasons whether physical, emotional or intuitive, made me cautious about sharing, as I don’t like bringing attention to myself.

Fast forward to last year when I was going through the final months with my dog/best friend of 14 years, I found this private group on Facebook. It’s an emotional support group for HSPs. It’s unbelievable how many active users you’ll find here quick to support you and offer suggestions based on what has worked for them in this busy, loud, stressful & fast-paced world. It was a true refuge for me where I could share absolutely anything and get nothing but curiosity, support and sharing of ideas. I love it.

I wanted to share this group with anyone reading who might benefit.

Sending love & wishing you all a beautiful weekend.

 

zinc, exhausted

Is Zinc Deficiency the Reason You Feel Like Sh#t?!

Do you get sick often? Do your wounds heal slowly? Is your memory foggy? Is your attention wavering? Do you have chronically loose stools? Do you suffer from inflammatory skin conditions? Is your sense of taste & smell weak? Is your hair thinning, or even falling out? Has your libido gone down? Has your appetite? If you answered YES! to some of these, you might want to test your zinc levels.

Zinc is an important mineral the body needs for many, many functions. To name a few, Zinc

  • Directs body responses involving the maintenance of enzymes and cells. It contributes to the make up of over 300 types of enzymes and is needed for cell division & cellular metabolism.
  • Prevents oxidation(which creates free radicals and ages tissues), contributing to cellular longevity
  • supports serotonin and melatonin synthesis.
  • Prevents copper excess as they compete for absorption
  • Supports prostate and reproductive organ health
  • Required for DNA synthesis
  • Essential for proper immune function, wound healing, blood stability, formation of insulin, muscle contractability, normal brain function (contributing to mood stability and optimal memory)
  • Protein synthesis, contributing to healthy skin and hair
  • Hormone balance
  • Gut Health

Things that can exhaust your zinc stores are stress, over-training, and pregnancy. Things that can interfere with zinc absorption is poor gut health & excess copper levels.

Zinc deficiency is extremely common. Our soil is more depleted than ever before, rendering our food as a lesser source than it once was. Birth control also depletes our zinc levels. Foods that are still a good source are (highest to lowest):

  • Oysters (by a long shot)
  • Veal
  • Beef
  • Pumpkin Seeds
  • Tahini
  • Dark Chocolate
  • Chicken
  • Beans
  • Yogurt
  • Chickpeas
  • Cashews
  • Cheese
  • Almonds
  • Eggs

Do you intuitively crave any of the above foods? Listen to your body, it is always trying to communicate with you. It is also important to note that many foods, like grains, contain phytates which bind to zinc, making these foods a lesser source of zinc and sometimes interfering with zinc levels in the body. This is one of the reasons that long term consumption of a high-grain or vegetarian diet is considered a risk factor for zinc deficiency.

If you’re curious about whether you might be deficient, book an appointment with me and receive free zinc testing!

Emergency Toolkit for when Sh%t Hits the Fan

Despite the best of intentions, we all lose control from time to time and it’s good to have some tools in mind to minimize damage as well as how long you stay stuck.

What you eat

Dandy Blend Turmeric latte

We all know when we’re having a shitty day it’s easy to use food to sooth ourselves or create a reward in an otherwise crummy situation. Nutrition is a huge component to our health and ability to navigate through life. If you eat fast food to get through a stressful day, you are setting yourself up to start tomorrow in a deficit. On another note, when you’re stressed, digestion is compromised, so eating easy to digest foods is your best bet for minimizing cumulative damage. My go-to foods in times of crisis are smoothies, Dandy blend/turmeric lattes, dark chocolate, and guacamole with veggies and/or boiled eggs.

What you think

Be kind to yourself in the hard moments. Adding insult to injury only takes us deeper and deeper into the mess. What we focus on grows so if you can, try and shift your attention to neutral or positive things. Close your eyes and think of something that brings you joy, or is at least neutral. For joy I try and think of silly moments with my dog, and if that’s too hard I choose neutral thoughts of nature and the peace I feel in it’s presence. It may seem silly but our thoughts have real, physiological effects and doing this for a few minutes every time we feel overwhelm can be a real game changer.

What you do

Nature Time

Support yourself. Even taking 5-10 minutes to breath, meditate, or take a walk can disrupt frenzied energy and help re-center us. Mantras can also be helpful when the thoughts are particularly loud. It’s all about calming the mind.

Try and accept mistakes/misfortunes/challenges & integrate them as stepping stones. The more we trust the timing and process of life, the less we suffer.

smiley riley

Nutritional Support for Autism Spectrum Disorder

smiley riley

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a developmental disorder that affects communication and behavior. Although autism can be diagnosed at any age, it is said to be a “developmental disorder” because symptoms typically appear in the first two years of life. The number of children being diagnosed on the Autism Spectrum is a quickly snowballing challenge of our day. ASD is estimated to affect over 2 million individuals in the U.S. and tens of millions worldwide. This includes the diagnoses of autism, Aspergers, ADD & ADHD.

While lowering stress, incorporating connection, curiosity and play are crucial in therapy, nutritional support helps create a more receptive environment to the other therapeutic modalities at play. For children with ASD, a nutritious, balanced diet can make a world of difference in their ability to learn, how they manage their emotions and how they process information. Every single person and situation is unique and there are no guarantees, but if you believe your child has the potential for MORE in life, I encourage you to consider optimizing their nutrition.

The first thing to do is eliminate processed foods and excess sugar.

Sugar and processed foods are hard on the system and also feed the candida population in our digestive tract. Candida create holes in our gut (leading to allergies) and produce over 70 different toxins, both factors contributing to an exhausted, hyper-vigilant immune system & a heavy toxic load. They also create inflammation in the body and brain which is not at all supportive of living your best life. If you have enough in your budget I’d also consider adding in digestive enzymes & probiotics to improve the gut environment, support digesting and speed up results.

A special note about food dyes, MSG & aspartame: Most food dyes contain heavy metals (which are highly toxic and very difficult to get rid of once they’re in the body). MSG and aspartame are excito-toxins that literally excite our cells to death. It’s best to keep a close eye out for these as people with ASD are already dealing with a compromised immune system.

After processed foods and excess sugar are successfully removed, you may want to consider removing gluten and dairy to see how that might help.

When gluten and casein (dairy protein) break down in our gut they create properties called exomorphins, which mimic your body’s morphine-like endorphins. They have the same effect on the body as opiates, creating symptoms of euphoria and intoxication. It’s no surprise that the ones most allergic are addicted.  Statistically, about 60% of cases notice an improvement once gluten and dairy are removed.

Dietary changes can be a real challenge for anybody; people with ASD tend to be especially particular about the foods they eat. Start with one thing at a time, keep things low stress, and try and find substitutes for the foods you want to remove.

Remember… Attitude is everything. People with ASD have amazing BS detectors and can see right through your behavior. The best results come when you can remain calm, curious and playful throughout the process. As they say, first let THEM show you the way in, and then YOU can begin to show them the way out.

If you’d like support during this process, send me a message! I can help you learn to identify tricky food labelling, create grocery lists, introduce recipes that compare to what your child already enjoys and much more, helping make these dietary changes a lasting success!

Why am I passionate about helping people with ASD?

Because I can relate. I too am highly sensitive & particular. I’ve suffered digestive, emotional & social challenges from a young age. I have a Holistic nutrition education with 2 years into practice. I appreciate and respect our individuality & have always loved solving puzzles (which we all are) – through curiosity and a deep passion to understand. People generally feel safe and comfortable opening up to me, and I am passionate about connecting with others and helping them overcome obstacles.

Baked cauliflower cookies keto lchf

Cauliflower cookies

Cauliflower cookies keto lchf

Cauliflower cookies are a great snack and healthy enough to get away with eating a few. Ever since being on keto I’ve had to find a way to have treats that I still feel good about, otherwise I end up going off track due to feeling deprived. These babies help FOR SURE!

Cauliflower is a member of the cancer-fighting cruciferous family. It . Eating cauliflower will provide your body with impressive amounts of vitamin C, vitamin k, beta-carotene,B-Vitamins, minerals and much more while supporting healthy digestion and detoxification.

Almonds contain lots of healthy fats, antioxidants, fiber, protein, magnesium and vitamin E. The health benefits of almonds include lower blood sugar levels, reduced blood pressure, cholesterol levels and inflammation. They can also reduce hunger and promote weight loss

Coconut contains one of the healthiest fats out there (MFCAs). They’re easier to digest, not readily stored as fat, contain antimicrobial, anti-viral, anti-fungal & anti-inflammatory properties, are smaller in size (allowing easier cell permeability for immediate energy), and are processed by the liver (which means that they’re immediately converted to energy instead of being stored as fat).

Chia Seeds are an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids, rich in antioxidants, fiber, protein, vitamins A, B, E and D, and minerals, including sulphur, iron, iodine, magnesium, manganese, niacin and thiamine.

Vanilla is a powerful antioxidant, contains antibacterial properties, helps reduce inflammation, and increases serotonin production.

Dark Chocolate is a powerful source of antioxidants (the higher the percentage, the higher the levels of antioxidants). The antioxidants found in dark chocolate help lower blood pressure and improving blood flow to the heart as well as the brain. They can also help make blood platelets less sticky and able to clot, which reduces the risk of blood clots and stroke.

How’s that for a sell? How can you possibly feel bad about eating these?

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 head cauliflower (2-3 cups riced)
  • 2 tbsp almond flour
  • 1 tbsp coconut flour
  • 2 eggs (or 1 tbsp chia seeds + 3 tbsp of water per egg & let the mixture sit for 15-20 minutes)
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • dash or 2 of himalayan salt
  • 1/2 cup dark chocolate (70% dark chocolate chips are easy enough to find, or you can use 80-90% bars to further reduce carbs)

Preheat oven to 400. Combine all ingredients into a bowl and mix well. If the mixture seems to dry, add a bit of coconut oil. Shape into balls & place on a baking sheet & gently flatten a bit. Bake for about 30 minutes.

Baked cauliflower cookies keto lchf

Enjoy :o)

Healthy Fat Bombs

Fat Bombs: Healthy Convenience Food

Coconut cacao Fat Bombs I remember about this time last year talking to a friend who was getting into keto and asking him “What do you eat then?” and one of the things that got me excited were fat bombs. Basically a combo of HEALTHY butters, oils and sometimes nuts of dried fruit. They’re super easy to make. You just warm everything to liquid in a saucepan and then put the mixture into a tray and freeze them. I use both an ice cube tray and a mini muffin tray.

They’re really the perfect convenience food. Fat is extremely satiating, it doesn’t support an appetite to overeat, and it’s frikkin delicious. I know many people are still nervous about eating high fat, thinking fat = body fat, but it doesn’t. Body fat storage is typically triggered by the kind of insulin response that excess carbohydrates generate, as well as stress (increased cortisol = increased insulin).

Honestly, try them!! Here are a couple recipe’s you can start with, but I encourage you to play around with it!

Coconut Cup Fat Bombs

Reese's peanut butter chocolate bombs

  • Warm equal parts cocoa butter and coconut oil on the stove top (both contain zero carbs)
  • Fill your tray with unsweetened coconut flakes (about 2 net grams of carbs per tbsp.)
  • Pour in the melted cocoa butter & coconut oil, place tray in freezer
  • After about 10 minutes, place a couple of chocolate chips on top, or not! (They would add about 0.3 g carbs)

Chocolate Peanut Butter Square Fat Bombs

  • Warm 3 parts peanut butter and 1 part 90% dark chocolate
  • Blend your favorite nuts (I like macadamia & brazil nuts as they’re the lowest in carbs), and mix in with melted nut butter and dark chocolate, creating a ratio of 1:1 blended nuts vs. melted mix.
  • Fill tray and place in freezer, going back in about 10 minutes to place 1-2 full nuts on top to give it a crunch.

Healthy Fat BombsThat’s it. So simple. You could also try putting solid nuts throughout instead of blending them, or swapping out the peanut butter for a different nut butter, like almond, which has about half the carbs as peanut butter. Also, sometimes adding mint extract gives them an after-eight taste which I LOVE!

What’s YOUR favorite fat bomb combo?

almond bread low carb keto

Delicious Keto-Friendly Almond Bread

This almond bread makes sandwiches and toast more sustaining for our energy levels as it’s higher in fat and lower in carbs (don’t worry, excess carbs are the cause of weight gain, not healthy fats). It’s gluten free, and keto friendly (2 slices equal 1g carbohydrate). This was a great staple for me when I started exploring keto eating.

This recipe utilizes the power of xanthan gum to hold all of the ingredients together, much like gluten would inside a normal loaf of bread. If you don’t have xanthan gum, you can use any other starch you have on hand 🙂

Cook Time       40 Mins

almond bread low carb keto

Almond bread     

Prep Time       15 Mins

Servings           8 (16 Slices)

Nutrition Per Serving

  • Calories 234
  • Net Carbs 1g
  • Fats 23g
  • Protein 7g

INGREDIENTS

  • 1/2 cup Butter melted (or olive oil if you’re avoiding dairy)
  • 2 tablespoons Coconut Oil
  • 7 Eggs
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 Cup Almond Flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum
  • 1/2 teaspoon Salt

LET’S START WITH THE EGGS

Make sure your eggs are at room temperature before you begin as this will reduce the likelihood that your bread will taste “eggy”. If you keep your eggs in the fridge, no worries, just pop them into a bowl of hot tap water for 3 mins. This will cool them down. Don’t worry, it won’t cook them! Crack them all into a bowl and mix them together well just by themselves.

BUTTER (OR OLIVE OIL) AND COCONUT OIL

I recommend grass fed butter as it’s high in omega 3 fats which we all struggle to get enough of and has tons of benefits. If you keep your butter in the fridge, warm it in a saucepan just enough for it to melt, then take it off the heat and just let it sit. You don’t want the butter to be hot because this will affect your eggs once you add it to the mixture. Add the coconut oil once the butter has melted.

Once you have your butter and coconut oil melted together, slowly stream the oils in while whisking until all is incorporated. You’ll have a nice, smooth blend and texture.

DRY INGREDIENTS

Combine the almond flour, xanthan gum, baking powder and salt together into a small bowl. Mix all of these ingredients together with a fork until well combined.

Then, little by little, add the dry mix to the eggs, whisking between scoops. It should get quite thick.

BAKING TIPS

Set your fan forced oven to 180C (355F) and wait till its fully heated. If you have a convection oven, drop the temperature by 5C (20 degrees Fahrenheit). If you are using a glass loaf pan, do the same. Glass retains heat longer. You can set your timer for 10 minutes less than the time in the recipe because all ovens are different.

Make sure when you make this recipe, if you are not using a silicone tray, that you place baking paper on the tray whilst baking, otherwise it will stick to the sides.

Once small cracks appear on the top and it goes a golden-brown color, test with a toothpick or clean dry knife right into the center of the bread. If it comes out clean, the bread is done. if not, you can add that extra 10 minutes and check it again.

ONCE THE BREAD IS DONE

Let the almond bread cool before slicing. I usually slice up half for the fridge, then place the unsliced half into the freezer for the following week.

This recipe was discovered at https://www.fatforweightloss.com.au/recipe/keto-bread/

I removed the images and digressions for simplicity, but left in all the little details because they personally helped me 🙂

brain injury inflammation

Inflammation and how it’s destroying everyone’s health

Inflammation is part of the body’s natural immune response. brain injury inflammationIt can be beneficial when you’re injured and tissues need care and protection. However, sometimes inflammation can persist longer than necessary, causing more harm than good. Chronic inflammation is at the root of so many illnesses we face today.

For example, brain networks in babies as well as future cognitive development reflect the degree of inflammation their mothers experienced during pregnancy, according to some new studies, leaving them vulnerable to conditions like autism, schizophrenia etc.

Inflammation cooks our genetics & accelerates aging, creating all sorts of pathologies (bipolar disorder, anxiety disorder, depression, epilepsy/seizures, brain tumors, obesity, arthritis, IBS, fibromyalgia etc.) Treating our inflammation can reverse many of these pathologies.

Common causes of inflammation:

1- Diet: Refined flour, refined and excess sugar, oxidized/rancid fats, trans fats, chemicals, preservatives.

2- Obesity: Obesity is an inflammatory state. Your body is struggling and it’s only going to get worse until you do something.

3-Poor gut health: Disruptions in the gut microbiome create intestinal permeability and contribute to systemic inflammation.

4-Stress: Stress stimulates pro inflammatory signalling. Chronic stress=chronic inflammation.

Dental disease, chronic infection, vitamin D deficiency also trigger inflammation in the body.

Our standard American diet is incredibly high in sugar. Sugar is inflammatory and makes our gut more permeable, creating even more inflammation. Inflammation leads to DNA damage, which leads to cancer changes. Reducing your carbohydrate intake, while getting the majority of your carbs from vegetables can really support your body, allowing it to slow and even reverse illness.

For those who need a lot of repair, studies are showing that ketosis repairs DNA, along with increasing mitochondrial function, and therefore increasing brain function. Intermittent fasting and eating high fat/low carbohydrate both put your body into ketosis (where it switches from carb fuel to fat fuel).

Exogenous ketones can be helpful in the beginning as they help to decrease appetite and make the insulin receptors work better (but they cannot replace doing the work). Once our insulin receptors work better, the body doesn’t have to produce as much insulin to get into the cell. So now we can produce less and that inflammatory cascade will start to go down.

How else can we lower inflammation?

  • Good omega-3 & other healthy fats (coconut, olive, avocado, nuts & seeds, fish, free-range eggs, grass-fed meat)
  • Turmeric and pepper together (spices in general are great for your health)
  • Vegetable based diet
  • Movement (30min 5x week min)
  • Sleep. Lack of sleep is really hard on the brain and creates plaque on arterial walls
  • Stress reduction. Make time for the things that feed your soul & help you feel grounded, peaceful, and recharged.

A healthy eating regimen, movement, stress reduction and proper sleep it’s really all we need to reverse most illness. The big people in charge are not interested in spreading this message, so we need to help each other♥️

If you’d like to learn more about how to turn the tables on your illness and paving the way to better health, send me a message and I’d be delighted to help you get started!

 

Eggs, prosciutto, kale, portobello

My Experience so far with Low Carb/Ketogenic Eating

I’ll be honest, I’d been pretty resistant to learning/accepting ketogenic eating as a sustainable option for myself or my clients. Everything I’d heard sounded so restrictive. This year however I decided to tune into the 2018 Ketogenic Summit; where everyday for 7 days you get 24 hour access to 4-5 different talks with various doctors, scientists and experts who offer their opinion and explain their reasoning.

I was already on board with the position that sugar & inflammation is at the root of so many illnesses we face today, so understanding that reducing your carbohydrate intake can be incredibly beneficial was an easy sell. I’ve also long believed that sufficient amounts of healthy fats are missing in many of our diets today. What was most exciting about this summit was learning the benefits of your body running off ketones instead of glucose.

Luckily I had already done the work of cutting out processed foods and increasing my movement (thanks to my Fitbit), so I looked for a bread substitute, made some cauliflower rice and I was off to the races!

Week 1: I did well 6 out of 7 days. I noticed that I woke up feeling awake, instead of my usual groggy I-don’t-want-to-get-out-of-bed usual feeling. I felt lighter and had more energy, but seemed to be getting afternoon headaches. My mood felt more stable and my stomach didn’t hurt (aside from feeling nauseous twice after eating package-bought spinach dip). I wasn’t hungry all the time.

Week 2: This week was a struggle. It started off by going to a friend’s place for a BBQ. I put some ribs and coleslaw on my plate but then my host added a baked potato to my plate and i decided to eat it instead of refusing it. I also had some red wine over the course of the afternoon/evening. I was surprised the next morning to see trace ketones on my test strip and thought all was well, but what followed was increased carb cravings, more falling off track and feeling tired, unmotivated & emotional. I tried to push though it with increased exercise & better food choices. I had a couple mini meltdowns, but after readjusting my expectations & reminding myself that not all progress in linear, I got myself back on track.

Week 3: This week was my best week. Everyday I kept my carbs at about 10%-15% of total intake (which is higher than what most keto experts recommend) but I felt great all week and my ketone levels were strong. I also found that snacking doesn’t make me feel so good so I started having larger meals and cutting out snacking (mostly). I also lost some weight; 6lbs total since the beginning. Most of it in the 3rd week.

This journey will be an ongoing learning experience for me as I come to understand why I can be in ketosis at higher carb levels than recommended, if this will be true for others, and how this shakes out long term. My intentions are to stay low carb indefinitely, but to continue exploring ketosis for the short term and periodically for health maintenance. I’m pleasantly surprised at how much flexibility it provides. 2 nights in week 3 I enjoyed a couple glasses for red wine, and another day I had some jackfruit that I found fresh for the first time since trying it in Africa in 2008; it was so worth it and didn’t seem to throw me off too much.

If you’re curious about low crab eating or ketogenic eating, send me a message and I’d be happy to offer some basic tips for starting out that can make your first few days/weeks a lot more enjoyable 🙂

Coffee, MCT oil, cinnamon Eggs, prosciutto, kale, portobello Fish, asparagus, cauliflower rice pure kitchen, royal with cheese, burger salad