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It’s Been Too Long

Nearly eight months have passed since my last blog post.  

There is a good reason for being MIA. For most of the year, I been consumed by a new world of diet and nutrition that took me on a journey I never knew existed.

While I thought I was becoming close to a nutrition “expert” – I had no idea the learning curve ahead of me.

Four days before Christmas, my daughter was diagnosed with an auto-immune disease, ulcerative colitis. When we first heard the diagnosis, my immediate reaction was, “OK, how do I fix her?” And the response I received was “there really is no cure – this is a life-long condition that she can treat with medication.”

I am not writing this post for sympathy votes. Not even close. I am writing to share how much I have learned, in the hopes that I pass that learning on to a much broader audience.

The gut microbiome is a very complex and fascinating part of our bodies. Literally, our bodies function from this one main “control center”. It effects our minds, digestive system, organs, energy levels…the list goes on. When the balance of our gut is disrupted, it can cause havoc on our body.

In our case, I am convinced antibiotics initialized the disease. Sofia had 3 major infections, within 6 months of each other, that required strong antibiotics and hospitalization. Historically – healthiest, strongest child with a stomach of iron and no history of any illnesses/allergies/concerns.

The diagnosis was both shocking and devastating. As per doctors’ orders, we put her on prednisone immediately. Something I wish I had known more about before agreeing to the treatment.

Shortly after, I discovered something called the Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SCD) through a close friend, whose son was diagnosed with Crohns. She healed him strictly through the diet, never touching any medicine.

SCD is primarily a diet of protein, veggies, nuts and fruits – no grain, gluten, starch, dairy or sugar. Think Paleo, one step further. It sounds nearly impossible, however, it’s much more versatile than you may think. SCD is widely recognized as a healing diet for disease. When using SCD to heal an autoimmune disorder, you typically go through stages of the diet – from basic, to more complex – opening up an abundance of options. It is definitely a journey, as the body takes a very, very long time to heal.

My option was to have my young, developing daughter depend on fabricated medicine, or heal her through diet. Yep, diet won.  And it worked.

Through diet alone, her bloodwork is now impeccable, inflammation markers are normal and she is currently symptom free.

What have I learned?

  • Healthy foods heal – first hand proof
  • The microbiome is a very complex organism – It is critical to keep a healthy gut balance with an abundance of good bacteria
    • Antibiotics, processed food, preservatives and sugar can disrupt this balance and cause havoc on our bodies
  • Probiotics and prebiotics are critical to building a healthy gut microbiome
    • The prebiotics help the probiotics flourish and multiply
  • The American diet is killing off bacteria strains – we have an abundance of good bacteria strains in our bodies – when the good strains can’t survive from being deprived of proper nourishment, they die off and become extinct. The reaction is not immediate, it happens over time. The fewer good bacteria strains we have, the less we can fight off sickness and disease.
  • A healthy gut begins as early as birth – implementing a healthy diet from the beginning can foster a multitude of good-strain bacteria
  • Cooking food from scratch is worth it…and fulfilling
  • There are delicious, grain-free, sugar free recipes and foods readily available
  • A good diet will make you feel better, look better, live healthier and grow stronger
  • Homemade almond milk is actually very easy to make, and delicious (most store-bought brands, including Starbucks, have ingredients like sugar, tricalcium phosphate, sunflower lecithin, sea salt, xanthan gum, guar gum, vitamin A palmitate, and vitamin D2 (ergocalciferol)).
  • Homemade 24-hour fermented yogurt is a powerhouse food, full of billions of healing probiotics
  • Soy, in any form, is not good for you
  • Fat definitely does a body good – Healthy fats increase your metabolism, help you digest, build immunity, repair and support cell function, help absorb key nutrients, help you feel fuller, longer, help you lose weight, alleviate depression, build memory, give you energy and promote optimal, overall functioning of our entire body
  • Long term effects of poor eating are delayed – the ramifications will happen over time, even if appearing to have no current implications
  • Labels are deceiving – it’s important to know and understand ingredient labels and if you are unclear, to call the company to clarify any ambiguity
  • Laughter and stress reduction techniques are critical to healing and overall happiness
  • Your journey leads you to so many incredible paths…through this odyssey, I had the pleasure of finding (and working for) a grainless, gluten free café/bakery, met a slew of incredible people associated with autoimmune disease, created the most magical bond with my daughter and our family, witnessed the incredible support system around us, saw food in a whole different light, found spiritual guidance, opened incredible doors and started new relationships
  • Perseverance pays off

We feel vindicated that we stayed the path and see such tremendous, positive repercussions. This is definitely a journey for the long haul. One we will continue – with now even more substantiated vigor. I have committed to the diet with my daughter from day one so she had someone who understood her struggle. I am blown away by her commitment and perseverance. It truly just becomes a part of your lifestyle.

With so many positive implications, it is worth every last effort.

  • Kristi

    I love it! You go, Mama Bear!

  • Sabrina

    This hits so close to home. My 13y/o son was diagnosed with Crohns in June. We immediately put him on SCD while waiting for treatment (Remicade) to be approved. In 3 weeks he gained 3lbs with no tx, only dietary changes. Leading up to the diagnosis he had lost 12lbs, which left him at 73lbs. I was terrified. I wanted to not do medication but was so fearful seeing him so thin. We have continued SCD and will be having his 3rd Remicade treatment Saturday. I’m hopeful we can begin to see significant improvements in the near future.
    Something that really resignated with me was the origin of how this all came to be. When he was only 6mos old he developed a respiratory infection and was placed on antibiotics and steriods. Then had several issues like this follow closely. I’m convinced the overuse of medication left his microbiome completely in dis array. I wish I had known more when he was younger.

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When Things Get Itchy

You’ve got that New Year’s itch. “This year is going to be different.”drunkwaffles-300x300

As suspected, the most common new year’s resolution is to “lose weight.” According to Newsweek, there is a 12.1% hike in new gym memberships sold in January. “There are 54 million people in the U.S.—approximately 17 percent of the population—who are members of some type of gym or fitness center. A disproportionate number of them join shortly after the guilt of a gluttonous December sets in.”

Aisling Pigott, a spokeswoman for the British Dietetic Association, says many people allow themselves to binge over Christmas on the promise that they will fast in the new year. Unsurprisingly, this is not the best way to start, she says. “People need to think about moderation all the time. Weight loss involves adjusting lifestyle, diet and calorie intake, whilst overcoming the psychological barriers too.”

When that new year hits, so does the sinking feeling “I gotta do this now”. The idea of getting healthy can be overwhelming and is mostly psychological. The language we tend to use is “I’ll never be able to eat that again” … it becomes an all or nothing. Which just sets you up for failure.

It’s important to not see food as an enemy – but more of a method of fuel – a way to keep your body healthy and in optimal form. Rather than making eating a stressful experience, try to make it an enjoyable part of your day.

Make small adjustments – not trying to do everything at once. Looking for that quick-fix 10 pound unsustainable weight-loss is not realistic. Diet pills and shakes will not get you where you want to be. Remove yourself from the scale, stop over-thinking what you are ingesting and eliminate your fear of food.

Some tools to use:

  • Stop thinking about food 24/7 – make a list of healthy food choices you can pick from for each meal – takes out the guess work.
  • Know your trigger foods – what makes you feel awful after you eat it and only crave more? Remove those from your diet.
  • Don’t eat in front of the TV – it sabotage. If you must – dish out one serving and don’t return for more.
  • Try to stop eating at least 2 hours before you go to bed…you will feel so much lighter in the morning.
  • Add a probiotic to your daily routine…it works miracles in balancing out your gut and building your immune system.
  • Drink water. Chug a glass first thing in the morning to start your day flushing out your system.
  • Try to eat a salad everyday. Easy on the toppings, less on the dressings.
  • Cut out the processed foods and eat more non-GMO and organic.
  • Cut sugar from your diet – this alone will create a huge difference in bloating and energy levels.
  • Add more exercise – if you are a beginner, start small and build up.

You have to make each small commitment realistic and achievable. Always remember – it’s not a diet, it’s a lifestyle.

And on the weekend, have that burger, sans fries. Just keep your daily routine in check. And, Happy New Year.

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Leave It To Your Body

65017_311600488944738_362041646_nI recently read an eye-opening article about how our bodies react when dealing with an injury. The human body is fascinating – I think sometimes we forget the intricacies and natural healing properties within us.

More and more avid exercisers are getting injured – the most common being the knee or back. Much of this stems from the wrong form during a movement or is the result of too much repetitious pounding from explosive movements. Whatever the cause, if you are someone who works out religiously every week, an injury can be extremely challenging mentally and physically.

Naturally, once you get injured immediate questions come into your head:

  • Can I continue to eat normally without exercising?
  • Will I gain weight?
  • Should I be taking supplements?
  • Is there quicker way to heal?

Here’s what I learned:

  • Maintain a healthy intake. Rather than waiting to shape up your diet after an injury – strive to maintain a high-quality food intake every day to bank up on vitamins and minerals that your body needs to repair if you were to get injured (or during daily muscle repairs after micro tears when training). You will heal quicker by replenishing your body with nutrient-rich foods).
  • Good nutrition enhances recovery. To enhance healing, maintain a healthy combination of food groups – proteins, carbohydrates, vegetables, fruits. Proteins are critical during healing. They digest into amino acids needed to repair damaged muscles. Ensure you incorporate 20-30 grams of protein at each meal or snack. And eliminate processed foods.
  • You need to eat when injured. Many athletes decide they are going to starve themselves to cut back on the calories they are no longer burning off at the gym. In actuality, our bodies need fuel to repair. You just have to eat mindfully. You might have to cut back on your servings if you are no longer torching a lot of calories when working out. Eat enough to fuel your body at your current activity level.
  • Our organs burn the majority of calories in our body – not our muscles (although they do a nice job too). “Organs are metabolically active and require a lot of fuel”, says Nancy Clark, MS, RD, CSSD. “About 2/3 of the calories consumed by the average active person support the resting metabolic rate” (energy needed just to exist).
  • Surgery or trauma requires an additional 10-20% more calories for your body to function. Your body responds naturally to hunger cues. So, eat when hungry and stop when your stomach is full.
  • Muscle does not turn into fat. Muscle atrophies. Our bodies have muscle memory – once we go back to our normal routine, the muscle rebuilds quickly.
  • Our bodies also have a “genetic” weight. If we are underweight, our body will try to adjust to the intended size and natural physique.

If you are injured, don’t panic. Your body has your back, literally. You will recover, and in most cases, often stronger than before your injury.

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