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Monthly Archives: September 2010

Cold and Flu Season

With the weather changing and the chill coming on, webpages start to fill up with articles on combating the cold and flu season. Usually the articles are a rehash of the same article from last year and the year before: wash your hands, stay home when you are sick, get your flu shot. Those are the things we all do every year, and yet most of us still end up sick. I was thinking about it today and realizing that I haven’t taken a sick day all year. This is in great contrast to last year when I used up all my sick time between colds, flu, and mono. In previous years I was home with a flu or infection at least once or twice a winter.

The year is not over yet, but considering that I’ve been exposed to people who turned out to be harboring some pretty nasty infections (bronchitis and strep, things that would have taken over pretty quickly before) I am pretty confident in my ability to stay healthy this season.  As you might guess, I attribute it to the dietary changes we have been making and the way that my husband has been helping me learn how to rest. I used to be so busy and stretched so thin it was a wonder that I wasn’t constantly down for the count.  However, I’m slowly learning to slow down and recognize when I need to say no to a busy schedule, and I have a lot more energy as a result.

This morning I read an article that went beyond the usual platitudes to offer some valuable advice for boosting the immune system-actions that I myself have taken and feel have made a huge difference. If you want to have better health this season, I recommend you check it out here

It’s shaping up to be a cold and wet winter here in Seattle, but here’s hoping we can stay happy and healthy, even as we are visited by another snowpocalypse.

 
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Posted by on September 24, 2010 in Uncategorized

 

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To GAPS or not to GAPS

Everywhere I look these days, I find info on the GAPS diet. One blogger is hosting a giveaway, another is running a challenge, still another is teaching an eCourse, all with GAPS as a central part of their philosophy. All the marketing has got me interested-but do I really want to go through with it?

What is this GAPS you speak of?
The GAPS diet is based on a book by Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride, titled Gut and Psychology Syndrome. Dr. McBride is a British doctor whose son was diagnosed with autism, sending her on a search for a cure. The book is the result of her work, detailing her conclusion that the source of many brain disorders and autoimmune diseases is in fact the health of your intestinal tract. Healthy Gut=Healthy Brain.

Ok, so what is the Diet all about?
Dr. McBride provides what she believes is a diet designed to heal the gut, therefore healing the diseases that are plaguing you as a result of your damaged system, diseases and conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, Crohn’s, allergies, ADHD, autism-the list goes on. It starts with an introduction diet that is basically a cleanse. You eat mostly soups made with rich meat broths, soft-cooked eggs, and cooked non-starchy vegetables. After a week or two you start slowly adding foods back into your diet, from most easily digested and nutrient rich to least easily digested, watching for abnormal reactions to each food (such as digestive upset, abnormal stools, eczema, headaches, etc.). All the while you take probiotic supplements and eat fermented foods to support the development of healthy bacteria in the gut. This process of healing can take anywhere from two months to two years, depending on the individual and how damaged their system is to begin with.

That’s quite the process. Why do you want to go through it?
Well, I have a history of allergies, eczema, ear infections and skin infections and other ailments involving multiple rounds of antibiotics, prednisone prescriptions, abrupt weight gain and loss amid years of yo-yo dieting, anxiety, depression, panic attacks, and general malaise. Allergies and eczema in particular are an inherited issue, from my mother and my grandmother and even my great-grandmother. One of the things that Dr. McBride discusses is how generations of mothers with unhealthy guts will pass on these deficiencies to their children, who pass it on to their children. And since I am thinking about trying for kids in the next year or two, getting my system healthy is a top priority, as I don’t want my kids to suffer with any of the things I struggled with as a child.

So what’s stopping you?
Well, it’s pretty drastic. It cuts out a lot of foods that make up our everyday diet: all grains (not just gluten grains) all dairy at first, all sugars and starches, including most fruit. The Intro diet is basically just soup. And while that is only for a week or two, and we will add other foods back in, it’s still a big request to make of my husband to give up his beloved breads. I also don’t believe it is a viable long-term option, as any “diet” will eventually get too onerous, as I have found through my years of trying to lose weight. Also, I believe that fundamentally, God has given us all of these natural foods to enjoy, and by properly producing (either through good animal husbandry or organic gardening) and preparing (soaking grains, using natural yeasts, preferring unrefined sugars and flours)we can have a healthy, stable, long-term diet.

So what’s the solution?
Well, here’s where I am right now: if in fact a lot of my issues are caused by a damaged intestinal system (something which I’ve read about in multiple books and articles, not just McBride’s work), then a period of time on GAPS might be beneficial not only for me and Jer, but also for our kids in the future. The healthier I am before I get pregnant, the healthier I will be during and after pregnancy, and the healthier my child. Since GAPS is not designed to be a long-term way of eating but instead a method of healing, it could be a great short-term way to bolster our health. I was listening to a podcast the other day with a blogger who was using GAPS for herself and her children, and she was able to heal her dairy allergy in two months on GAPS (something I am sensitive to) as well as her son’s eczema (my lifelong scourge). So could we sacrifice our delicious whole foods diet for a few months to heal up some long-standing ailments and set us on the path to extreme health? I think maybe so.

This fall we plan to continue our research and transition our pantry to prepare for the great GAPS experiment, hopefully beginning after the holidays. At the very least, this will be a good strategy to lose some weight and cleanse our systems, as we are all exposed to an incredible amount of toxins in our everyday lives these days. At best, I could find a level of health I have never experienced before. I won’t know unless I try.

This post is part of Fight Back Fridays and Monday Mania

 
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Posted by on September 16, 2010 in Things Edible

 

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What’s In Your Bathroom?

In my quest to get healthy, I have started to realize that I can’t only focus on what I am putting in my body, but also on what I am putting on my body. Growing up with skin issues, I have spent a lot of money on skincare products over the years, from moisturizers to cleansers of all sorts to treatments for allergies, eczema, and acne. Then there is the makeup-concealer, foundation, powder, eyeshadow, lipstick, mascara-the list goes on, and the layers add up, as we girls try to imitate magazine life. Add to all that the shampoos, conditioners, and styling products for my long, frizzy, curly hair, and I’ve donated a lot of money to the beauty industry. For example, here is an idea of what a typical month of toiletry spending looked like for me:

Shampoo + Conditioner: $10-$14

Styling products: $10-$18

Moisturizer, skin treatments: $14

Deodorant, toothpaste, soap: $5

Makeup (foundation, concealer, occasional blush/eyeshadow): $10-$15

Total: $49-$66 a month

What a crazy amount of money I was spending! And me the highly budget-conscious one.  But beyond that, there was the cost of all the toxins in those products. For that price, I was also getting daily doses of the following:

Methylparabens

Propylparabens

aluminum

octenylsuccinate

Ethylene oxide

And these were just a few of the fun ingredients in my routine.

So what to do? Do I just swear off beauty products and stop wearing deodorant? I don’t think that would go over well with my friends and coworkers. But there are alternatives.

Things I’ve tried include making my own deodorant and using the oil cleansing method. I switched to washing my hair with baking soda solution and conditioning with apple cider vinegar. I am making or buying moisturizers composed of coconut oil, beeswax, and essential oils, and only using a small amount of mineral makeup from a company that gets excellent safety ratings.

This is what I have done over the past three weeks. And I will tell you that while it took a few days for my body to balance itself out, as of today my hair looks better than ever, my scalp is much happier, and I still smell nice. I actually sweat less! And all for the cost of a little coconut oil and baking soda. I estimate I am saving about $40 a month, although I feel the real benefit is avoiding the carcinogens and synthetic estrogens that can cause havoc on our endocrine systems.

It may not be for everyone, but I would highly recommend you check out the Cosmetic Safety Database and see what the products you use contain.  Even if you don’t go homemade, there are better natural alternatives out there.  With all the toxins we meet daily in our environment, a little research is worth it.

This post is part of Simple Lives Thursday

 
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Posted by on September 9, 2010 in Uncategorized

 

Labor Day Weekend Projects (and an eCourse you should take!)

Yay for three day weekends! Mine is starting a bit early as I am working from home today, so I am interspersing housecleaning and kitchen projects with checking emails and calling clients. We have friends coming over for dinner tonight and a wedding tomorrow, but the rest of the weekend will be low-key, so I have a long list of things I would like to get accomplished:

  • Homemade toiletry project: I have been slowly replacing my beauty products with homemade, toxin-free versions. I’ve already made deodorant, and ordered new moisturizers and hair products from MadeOn, which I am loving. Today I am making shampoo and conditioner, since I discovered that my current products rank very high on toxicity according to the Cosmetic Safety Database.
  • More Lacto-fermented goodies: Jer is powering through the batch of salsa we made a couple of weeks ago, so I am going to utilize some peppers and tomatoes that I picked up at a local produce stand to make another batch. I also need to make some more ginger carrots, as my first batch is gone, and my second batch failed (first lacto-fermenting fail, very sad).
  • Freezer projects: I’ve been making food for the church freezer to give to new moms and families in need. I’ve already made a casserole and some pizza dough, but I want to make cream biscuits and marinara (with the rest of the tomatoes from the 25lb box I bought)  for both my freezer and the church.
  • Baking projects: I’ve been enjoying the GNOWFGLINS sourdough eCourse and have a few recipes I would like to try. I made the cinnamon rolls last night for this morning’s breakfast and they were quite tasty and filling. I also have some coconut flour and want to try a few recipes, since I found a new source for pastured eggs (local, raised on grass, for only $2.50/dozen!) that can supply me with 2 dozen eggs a week, which really ups my ability to bake and cook with eggs (my previous source could only get me a dozen a week and was starting to drop off).

Speaking of eCourses, if you are interested in learning about the real food journey I am on and how and why to start changing your kitchen to a whole foods place, check out Kelly the Kitchen Kop’s Real Food for Rookies class. Kelly is one of the bloggers I follow, and has a ton of research to support the recommendations she makes. And who doesn’t want to take a class from someone with such a great sense of humor that she calls her self the ‘Kitchen Kop’? I love it.

Have a wonderful Labor Day!

 
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Posted by on September 3, 2010 in Things Edible

 

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