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Yes, We Are A Little CoCo

Heels To Laces is on a mission to break through the clutter of health and fitness and make it easier to live healthier – and have a ton of fun doing it.

As always, we love interaction so email us, comment, share and send your thoughts.

QUOTE FOR THE WEEK
“Good health is more than just exercise and diet. It’s really a point of view and a mental attitude you have about yourself.” ~Albert Schweitzer

TRUTH OR DARE
Each week we will present you with a truth or dare. It’s your job to tackle it with gusto and make it happen. Often, by just focusing on one change…just one, it’s much more palpable and achievable and becomes the jump start you need.

Truth: Flush it out.
How much water are you really drinking? You probably answered “plenty – I drink throughout the day.” But are you really? The human body can survive for up to 3 weeks without any food. Water? Maybe 1. Our bodies are made up of more than 60% water (your brain is 90%!). Want a tell-tale sign if you are getting enough? Check the toilet (it’s ok, we won’t look). Clear urine , you are an H2O rock-star.  Anything darker than a faint pale shade of yellow? Guzzle up. Same with your bowel movements – hard bowel movements or constipation can be indicative of not enough water.

It is the easiest fix possible to feeling good and optimizing the health of your body. Water gives you energy, relieves headaches (sign of dehydration), removes toxins from your body, gets rid of aches and pains, prevents cramping (especially during exercise), boosts immunity, helps keep you “regular”, moisturizes and plumps your skin and promotes weight loss. Not too shabby huh?

We typically recommend to get it in first thing in the morning to ensure you flush your body of the overnight toxins. Drink 1 liter before you leave the house. And then throughout the day.

ASK THE EXPERTS
We don’t claim to know everything – so sometimes we have to ask the experts. Today, we are taking over the role.

How do you feel lately? 
Are you crankier, anxious, fuzzier, less patient, full of cravings, tired, feeling a little out of control? Many of these feelings are directly correlated to your eating (and drinking) habits. Look – we get it – Winter is tough. You are inside – a lot – and all you want to do is eat. Forget about the weekends with dinners and friends and just not wanting to cook. So off starts this roller coaster of poor eating habits and consuming too much of the wrong foods.

How do we get off the gerbil wheel and get back in control?
It’s not all or nothing and starving yourself for a day or two to “make up” for the extra calories. This daunting idea of having to give up everything and deprive yourself will only set you up for failure or cause you to go to the opposite extreme. We will stick to our theme: pick one thing to change. One thing. And do it every day. You’d be surprised how altering your mind set will often set you on the right track.

Suggestions to pick from:

  • Drink a cup of water with every meal/snack (now we’ve talked about water twice…settling in?)
  • Stop eating after 8 pm
  • Try time-restrictive feeding (TRF) – eat only within a 12 hour window (ie. 9 am – 9 pm)
  • Eat breakfast
  • Eat 3 decent meals and snack on only fruits in-between
  • Give up the daily caramel latte
  • Remove candy from your diet (unless it’s a square of raw cacao)
  • Remove your go-to high carb comfort foods (pretzels, popcorn, cereal) and replace it with something light and filling (apple, banana, organic yogurt)
  • Avoid eating any food on the couch (always sit at a table/counter when you eat)
  • Brush your teeth after eating (this really works!)
  • Refrain from drinking cocktails Monday-Friday
  • Eliminate added and white refined sugar
  • Drink a glass of cleansing tea every night before bed
  • Add 20 minutes of exercise every day
  • Add 10 minutes of meditation every morning

By placing the focus on one thing – it makes it much easier to succeed and other pieces will naturally fall into place. Less emphasis on “I need to get it together” and feeling overwhelmed and not knowing where to start, and more emphasis on improving one manageable thing that will get you to a more attainable goal.

WHAT’S TRENDING
Ah, the infamous words “Gluten Free”. Everyone and their sister is gluten free. As we all know, we are the biggest supporters of a gluten free diet. But what does that really mean? Gluten is a protein mostly found in wheat, rye and barley. The word gluten means “glue” – it holds the structure of food together. Gluten is an ingredient used in many processed foods including salad dressings, soy sauce, potato chips, lunch meats, candy bars (notice they are all processed?) Originally a gluten-free diet became a new weight loss fad that stemmed off of people with gluten sensitivity and celiac disease removing it from their diet and not only feeling great, but losing weight.

Are there benefits to removing gluten from your diet? Without a doubt. Gluten is a processed ingredient that is foreign to the body. The proteins in gluten are gut irritants and cause inflammation. And they mess with your microbiome (gut flora) that regulate your immune system, digest your food, synthesize nutrients and send hunger/fullness signals to your brain. However, people think they can simply substitute gluten foods with packaged gluten-free options. And, there are plenty – from pancakes to breads to cookies. We are here to tell you, that is not a healthier solution.

We picked up a typically gluten-free cracker on the shelf and the first few ingredients were (from highest content to lowest): corn starch, white rice flour, palm oil, modified corn starch, dextrose, guar gum, monocalcium phosphate…. Chances are, you do not want these additives in your body – nor will they fuel it for a healthy life. Many of the gluten-free options out there fit into the CRAP (Carbonated drinks, Refined sugar, Artificial flavors/Colors, Processed foods) American diet and can actually make you sicker.

If you want to truly follow a gluten-free diet opt for more veggies and fruits. Use nut flours vs. wheat and processed flours. Try to avoid packaged foods. Eat whole FOOD (Fruits/veggies, Organic lean proteins, Omega 3 Fatty Acids, Drink Water). If you follow this path to a gluten-free diet, you will truly reap the benefits.

WHAT WE’RE OBSESSED WITH
Sometimes, you just gotta have it.

Whisper Sweet Nothings…
Just need to have that crunchy chip and want to avoid the processed corn/grain? These cheesy little crunchers do the trick. With one ingredient: Parmesan cheese, they will keep you satisfied. Careful not to bring the bag to the couch. Just sayin’.

May-Oh!
One of our favorite finds is a mayo – made from avocado oil. Made with cage-free organic eggs and vinegar, the avocado oil increases nutrition absorption, has antioxidants and anti-aging properties that support a healthy immune system and is a great source of vitamin E and beneficial omega-9 fatty acids. This mayo has a rich, full-flavor and supports both a paleo, SCD, Whole30 and primal diet. No sugar, gluten, dairy, soy, canola, soybean or industrialized seeds, artificial preservatives, fillers and trans fats (read a typical mayo jar and you’ll see the difference.) Comes in 2 flavors: regular and chipotle lime.

Give Me Some Color
President’s weekend is around the corner! If you are traveling (like most of the East coast) to some warmer climate and have been trapped inside for months, you may need a little somethin’ so you don’t scare off the natives. We have searched high and low for a safer, easier, streak-free self-tanner and we are pretty sure we found the winner. This find is formulated with organic and natural ingredients like aloe vera, shea butter, coconut oil, jojoba oil, argan oil, green tea and witch hazel. No orange hands or by-products. They believe in their product so much, they guarantee the results. Sooo natural.

THE DISH ON DELISH
All of our recipes will always be quick, healthy, easy, gluten-free, grain-free, sugar-free, mostly dairy-free, SCD legal and Paleo friendly. And yes, all sorts of deliciousness.

This bread recipe from Gastro Chef is a great SCD legal, grain-free alternative to wheat or multi-grain breads. We modified it slightly after several experiments and we are pretty confident we perfected it.

Coconut Flour Bread

Ingredients:

  • 4 whole eggs
  • 3 eggs separated
  • 4-5 Tbsp butter (or coconut oil)
  • 1 Tbsp unpasteurized honey
  • ½ tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • ¾ cup coconut flour
  • 2 Tbsp applesauce or SCD yogurt
  • Unsweetened shredded coconut to garnish

Directions
1. Preheat oven to 350F
2. In a small bowl, using a hand blender, beat egg whites until they are stiff and set aside
3. In a larger bowl, combine the whole eggs, honey, butter and yogurt or applesauce and beat until smooth.
4. Add coconut flour, salt and baking soda and mix well.
5. Fold in egg whites until well mixed
6. Line bread loaf pan with parchment paper and coconut oil to ensure bread won’t stick to pan and pour in the batter
7. Top with unsweetened coconut if you wish to give the bread a nice garnish
8. Bake for 45 minutes – then cover the top with parchment paper for another 15 so the bread cooks all the way through and the top doesn’t burn. Keep checking to make sure it’s not over-cooking. You will know if it’s cooked through if the top is firm when you push down in the middle of the loaf.

Cool completely before removing from pan

We double this recipe (we know, 14 eggs!) but it’s the only way it truly fills up a loaf pan. We use 1/2 coconut oil and 1/2 ghee butter (4-5 Tbsp each).

Once cooled, slice into thin slices and wrap in parchment and then into a container or baggie. Freeze or keep in the refrigerator.

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WANT TO SHINE?
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Heels To Laces will be on a temporary hiatus for President’s weekend returning in full force the week of February 19th…stay tuned.

Disclosure: some product recommendations are affiliate sites, which simply means we get a small compensation from the companies that sell the products we endorse. We will never endorse a product we do not personally use or love. Opinions expressed are solely those of Heels To Laces.

 

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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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Surprise, surprise.

In my many discussions with clients over the past few months, I continue to find common misconceptions about certain foods. You may be surprised to hear the truth.

Let’s clear up some confusion:

Chocolate milk is the perfect post workout drink. The initial thought behind milk as a replenishing snack post workout is actually pretty solid. It’s a great source of natural carbs and proteins and can help build and repair muscles after you sweat it out. The “chocolate” part? Not so much. It’s just added, refined sugars that have no benefit. There is natural sugar in NesquikChocolateMilkmilk – there is no need to add more. Yes, cocoa has been called a powerful antioxidant – but most chocolate milks contain a minuscule amount. Common brands of chocolate milk (ie. “Nesquik” which I often see kids drinking) are full of artificial ingredients and chemicals: Reduced Fat Milk with Vitamin A Palmitate and Vitamin D3 Added, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Less Than 2% of Cocoa Processed with Alkali, Nonfat Milk, Sugar, Calcium Carbonate, Natural and Artificial Flavors, Guar Gum, Salt, Carrageenan. This is not chocolate milk. You are much better off with just plain milk. And Nesquik went so far as to claim their chocolate milk beverage as the “official beverage of AYSO and USYS” soccer leagues. No wonder we have issues with the American diet and obesity with our children. Thank you, Big Food companies.

American cheese is good for you. As one of the most commonly used cheeses in food establishments, American cheese is actually not really cheese. It is a processed factory creation that includes milk fats, solids, whey, emulsifiers and food coloring and is high in fat. It was once made from a mixture of cheeses, but now that it is fully processed, it cannot be legally called “cheese” and has to be labeled as “processed cheese”, “cheese product“, etc. Sometimes, instead of the word cheese, it is called “American slices” or “American singles”. Check it out in the supermarket and notice it doesn’t say “cheese”. Under the U.S. Code of Federal Regulations, American cheese is a type of pasteurized processed cheese.

A food labeled “Natural” is better for you. The word “natural” is actually a marketing term and is not defined by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). It can mean almost anything. Even products labeled “all natural” can be highly processed and contain high fructose corn syrup, pesticides, GMO’s, antibiotics, growth hormones and much more. Just because it sounds good – don’t buy into it. It’s all hype.

Wheat bread is always better for you. Next time you are in a supermarket, pick up a package of whole wheat rolls or breads and you are most likely to see ingredients like: Enriched Bleached Flour, Modified Wheat Starch, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Mono- and Diglycerides, Datem, Caramel Coloring, Guar Gum and Gum Arabic. Not so appetizing – especially when you can’t pronounce them. In actuality, healthy bread should say “100% whole grain” or “100% whole wheat” on the package: that means the bread is made from unrefined wheat, which has more than double the fiber and is also higher in selenium, potassium, and magnesium. There are even healthier options available like sprouted bread. To really be safe, purchase bread that is organic and made with minimal ingredients. Your body will thank you.

Diets shakes are going to help me lose weight. Enter Isagenix, Special K and Shakeology. It’s the same story – once you go off of these shakes, your body will be unable to regulate itself and you will most likely gain the weight back. It is unsustainable. And the ingredient list is mile high and includes additives like guar gum and gum arabic. You are much better off eating real food vs. processed food shakes.

Microwave popcorn is healthy. Popcorn, maybe – microwave popcorn is a whole notha animal. Almost all microwave popcorn varieties come in a bag lined with perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA). This chemical is the same toxic stuff found in teflon pots and pans. It can stay in the environment and in the human body for long periods of time. When heated, this chemical has been linked to infertility, cancer and other diseases in lab animals. No long term studies have been conducted on humans, but the EPA lists this substance as a carcinogen. Not to mention, most microwave popcorn brands include ingredients like hydrogenated oils, artificial flavors and added colors. Stick with organic popcorn in a bag or, better yet, make your own.

Yogurt is healthy. Well, yes, organic plain Greek yogurt is healthy for you. However, most of the yogurt consumed is flavored with sugar and come with toppings. For example, a Yoplait strawberry yogurt has 170 calories, 15 g fat, 33 grams carbs, and 27 grams of sugar. And the kid varieties of YoCrunch include options like m&ms, Crunch bar, Reeses Pieces and Oreos. Let’s call it what it is…dessert.

All organic foods are healthy. Organic foods have to adhere to strict regulations by the USDA on how foods are produced to earn the organic seal of approval. However, you still have to watch the ingredients and read the nutritional facts. For example, Nature’s Path Organic Frosted Cherry Pomegranate Toaster Pastries are a glorified organic Pop Tart with 200 poptart2calories per pastry, 3 grams of saturated fat, 37 grams of carbs and 17 grams of sugar. The ingredient list is also a mile high. Be sure to read the labels.

Gluten free foods are better for you. “Gluten free” is the latest buzz word in the food industry. Gluten free does not necessarily mean healthier. Gluten free products are often made with white rice flour, milled corn flour, even potato or corn starch and typically include carbs with less fiber and higher glycemic indices than the original foods people are trying to avoid. There is a small percentage of people that it is a medical necessity to eat gluten free as they have celiac disease – an autoimmune disorder that damages the small intestine. Millions of others may have a diagnosed gluten sensitivity that causes inflammation throughout the body. Research suggests the epidemic of sensitivities is a result of the refined, GMO processed foods that our bodies are unable to digest. Gluten free is not necessarily a solution to a healthier diet or weight loss.

Foods marked “Whole Grain” are healthy. Companies actually pay fees to belong to the Whole Grains Council, which administers the program.  A food only has to have 8 grams of whole grains to bear this stamp. For example, a 2 oz serving of pasta (56 grams) with 8 grams of whole wheat could actually come with 48 grams of white refined flour. You will commonly find the whole grain stamp on sugary cereals like Lucky Charms – giving a false sense of what is healthy.

The best thing you can do for yourself is learn to read food labels and nutrition facts. They often give all the insight you need into making healthy choices.

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