Guts are like fingerprints. No two are alike.
The gut is a fascinating place. There are so many things that we just don't know about it. Humans have just touched on the surface of what really happens inside the gut. There is so much information out there about gut health that it can be overwhelming. Companies latch on to the word gut to try to sell you things you may or may not really need because it is such a hot topic right now.
I want to turn down all that noise for you and give you some information that you can feel confident with. So that you can have regular bowel movements, less constipation/loose stool, increased energy, glowing skin and more.
One of the things that we do know is that if you feed your body foods that it needs and you absorb them properly, your body will benefit from the nutrients. If your body cannot absorb these nutrients properly then these nutrients will be less effective. Why is this?
Our gut has 75-125 trillion bacteria living inside of it. If we don't have enough of the "good" kind, we can host a breeding ground for unproductive bacteria, mold, fungus, viruses and more nasty little buggers.
What also can create problems in the gut is a lack of hydrochloric acid (HCl). Initial digestion of food starts in the mouth but when it reaches the stomach HCl is what helps it break down (especially protein based foods). We can become deficient in HCl from stress, eating junky foods, too much meat/heavy proteins, toxins, fat and sugar combinations and prescription drugs. When there is not enough HCl to break down the food then by the time it reaches the lower intestine it starts to rot and putrefy. The rotting is what creates discomfort and bloating (but sometimes no symptoms at all!). The good HCl is greatly reduced and bad acid takes over. If you experience acid reflux, it is these "bad acids" coming up (not the good HCl), but sometimes it is also mucus coming up (as the gut lining starts to create a lot of mucus to protect itself from these bad acids).
If you are low in HCl and your food is rotting in your large intestine, it sucks. Why does it suck? Because the food that is rotting is creating a toxic ammonia gas that floats into your bloodstream which then goes throughout the body creating fatigue, anxiety, skin problems, poor sleep and more.
Have you ever been put on a candida diet by a healthcare professional to help with these aforementioned symptoms? They mean well but I am here to tell you that candida is not what is causing your problems. Time and again I see people on these diets (myself years ago too) and they just don't work because it isn't candida causing problems. People struggle so much on a candida protocol and it is for no good! I know because I have been there too.
Our gut is our centre. It is where the diseases and the illnesses stem from. If your gut is not functioning in pure health then we really start to see all sorts of health issues arise. Anytime I work with a client the first thing I look at is the gut. Whether they are seeing me to help clear up their skin, lose weight, balance their cycle, get pregnant, reduce anxiety or get more energy I always look at the gut first because everything starts there.
If you are someone that is experiencing gut issues, or symptoms that may be resulting from gut issues, don't fear. There are things you can do to help balance it out again so that you can function and be your most vibrant self. There is not one protocol that will work for everyone as we are all different. The strains of bacteria living inside of us are all different, depending on where we live, what we eat, how we take care of ourselves. But there are things that we can all do that seem to help bring back the balance.
First of them is celery juice. As simple as it sounds, celery juice is amazing because of the way it strengthens the digestion of the foods you eat throughout the day. Drink 16oz of freshly juiced organic celery first thing in the morning and let me know how you feel in a month (or how your bowels are doing!). Personally I feel so vibrant and alive as soon as I consume it.
It is also important to remove toxic heavy metals from the gut so it can function properly. We all have toxins because of our lifestyles and our toxic world. Foods that are amazing at getting rid of all those toxins are wild blueberries, spirulina, cilantro, parsley, garlic and red clover blossoms. It is also incredibly important to eat lots of fibre to help bind the toxins and take them out of the body. So eat your greens, whole grains and beans!
Drink enough water. Water is very important in keeping your colon hydrated so that we don't become constipated. Ensuring that you are drinking unchlorinated water is important so use a filtration system.
Medicinal mushrooms can also be of value. Cordyceps can help with liver function and detoxification and assist overall digestion. Turkeytail is also useful for the digestive process. I like blending my mushroom powder in a smoothie.
Looking for something else that is a good digestive drink? I love lemon balm tea for the adrenals to calm the body and promote peace. But I especially love it for its help with the gut. Lemon balm can help calm nerve receptors in the digestive tract.
Dealing with gut issues can cause your good bacteria to die which inflames the ileum (final part of the small intestine) which can cause the body to stop making vitamin B12. B12 is super important for keeping the body's nervous system healthy so I often suggest B12 as a supplement when rebuilding the gut's flora.
What you can also do to rebuild your gut flora? Stop purchasing yogurt that contains "probiotics" because you are just wasting your money. Most of the microorganisms in products that claim to have probiotics die before they even get where they need to go. The best way to rebuild your flora is to eat unwashed (or lightly rinsed) organic fruits and vegetables (straight from the garden is key) because they contain the best micro-organisms that you can get, right on their skin/leaves. This can be a bit tricky in cold winter climates so grow your own sprouts as these are top level for beneficial bacteria. You can also take a quality probiotic from the health food store, but eating these organic fruits and vegetables are the first step.
Things to stop doing? Stop eating so much meat as it is really difficult on the digestive system. Try to avoid prescription meds as much a possible. Avoid junky foods. And try to stop racing around while you eat. Sitting and enjoying a meal and connecting with your food helps the digestive process in ways that you can't even imagine.
Along with that, don't forget that our feelings and our digestion are directly linked. Ever felt nervous about something and get really loose stool? Ever felt so sad you couldn't eat? Yup, directly linked. In Ayurveda, "Samana Vayu" is the energy enabling us to absorb nutrients from our food and is also responsible for digesting life experiences. So if you are experiencing digestive discomforts look at what is going on in your life. Are you emotionally stressed? Are you rushing when you eat? Eat in peaceful surroundings and chew slowly. And when you are going through a time of emotional transformation acknowledge that and choose to eat foods that are gentler and give yourself space to digest these experiences.
I wish you all the best in your journey to better gut health. Remember, health is a journey. It isn't a one time thing, but something you work on your whole life.
Love and light xo,
vegan, sugar free, gluten free
Papaya is an amazing fruit for supporting and healing the gut. It has more than 500 powerful digestive enzymes that help reduce inflammation, aid digestion and mend the intestinal walls. It can be very helpful for you if you are constipated. The caratenoids, vitamins and minerals in papaya are also incredible for the skin and can help with eczema, acne and psoriasis. Important to note that the popular Hawaiian varieties of papaya are GMO contaminated. Try to purchase Maradol papayas from Mexico and Central America.
-fresh fruit (berries, pineapple, oranges, kiwi, etc.)
1.Cut papaya in half lengthwise. Scoop out seeds and discard.
2.Scoop some coconut yogurt into each half and top with fresh fruit and any other toppings you love (raw honey, bee pollen, hemp seeds, shredded coconut).
3.Eat with a spoon, scooping the papaya as you go.
To all my fellow chocolate lovers out there, I can't wait to share these delicious little treats with you!
I created these healthy versions of the Reese peanut butter cups for a dessert night demonstration I recently did. They were such a hit that I felt they needed to be shared with more people!
My chocolate nut butter cups are a very simple make ahead holiday dessert that you can pop into the freezer and pull out when you have friends over for coffee, place on your holiday cookie platter or save for your own sanity snacking when the Christmas to do list becomes overwhelming.
If you don't normally use cacao butter you might be wondering what it is and where to find it. Cacao butter is what is typically used in vegan raw chocolate making to give it that creamy taste and texture. Cacao butter is the creamy fat that is extracted from the beans of the cacao tree. Also known as cocoa butter, it can be used in cooking and baking but also as a beauty product (moisturizer, lip balm, stretch mark cream, edible massage, etc.). It is rich in healthy fats and vitamin E, which is an important vitamin for the functioning of the nervous system.
Cacao butter can be hard to find at your regular grocery store. In my community I have found it at both Nature's Fare and Bulk Barn. You want to make sure you purchase it organically as cacao is a heavily sprayed food.
Chocolate Nut Butter Cups
Vegan, Gluten Free, Refined Sugar Free
Makes approx. 24 mini cups
-3/4 cup coconut oil
-4.5 Tbsp cacao butter
-1 & 1/8 cup organic cocoa powder
-1/2 cup maple syrup
-a heaping 1/4 tsp sea salt (plus more for topping)
-1/2cup nut or seed butter (almond, peanut, sunflower, etc.)
-1Tbsp maple syrup
-sea salt to taste
-mini cupcake liners
1.Make a double boiler (a bowl placed over a pot of simmering water). Melt the coconut oil and cacao butter. Add the maple syrup and whisk to combine. When all mixed, remove from heat. Mix in the cocoa powder and salt. Adjust sweetness/saltiness according to taste.
2.Pour just enough chocolate into each cupcake liner so that there is a thin layer on the bottom. You should use less than half the chocolate, the rest will be used for later. Place in freezer for 15 minutes to set.
3.Make the filling. Mix all the ingredients together. Adjust for taste.
4.Spoon about 1tsp of filling into your hands. Roll it into a ball and flatten with your palm to be just a bit smaller than the size of the cupcake liner.
5.Remove liners from freezer. Place a disc of nut butter in each liner. Drizzle the rest of the chocolate on top to cover all the nut butter discs. Sprinkle salt on top to garnish.
6.Place in freezer for about one hour to set. Once ready, these can be stored in the freezer or in the fridge in a sealed container.
Love and light, xo
How often do you go on a "diet" only to fail a week later because you can't resist that sugary doughnut staring at you from the bakery counter? "Well I've cheated now, might as well just have another one" you say to yourself as you sadly eat the rest of the box.
Does this sound like you? Do you feel like a failure? Do you never seem to be able to complete a "diet"?
Well good news for you, because I don't believe in diets.
And I am about to tell you the secret of how to eat healthy but also indulge when you want to without creating negative consequences on your body and your mind.
It's called the 80/20 rule.
But first, let's talk about why I don't believe in diets.
They are not practical.
If you were on a diet and I were to ask you, "are you going to eat this way for the rest of your life?" what would you say? I am guessing you would say no.
Most diets have you doing some crazy things but when you can't sustain the diet anymore or you go off the diet the chances are pretty good that your "bad habits" will sneak back in and you will start eating the way you did before you went on your diet.
Let's take the Ketogenic Diet for example. The Keto Diet is a fad diet right now that has people restricting carbohydrates so that the body will turn fat into ketones to use as energy.
The problem is, we need carbohydrates. Carbohydrates are sugar (both simple carbs and complex carbs). Our body needs sugar to run and give us energy and supply sugar to our brains to function properly.
What happens when you aren't eating any carbs? You are eventually going to crave them because your body needs them to function (and you will probably crave the simple carbs a.k.a white sugar because it will give you the quickest boost of energy).
You can only burn fat to use as energy for so long.
Then your body will start losing muscle and you will experience fatigue and will eventually enter into starvation mode. Yes you might lose a lot of weight quickly (however the fat loss is most likely water loss), but you are doing long term damage to your body (especially your heart) in the process.
Let's not do that ok?
Instead lets talk about my 80/20 rule. It's simple. Focus on healthy eating 80% of the time and the other 20% indulge in the things you really enjoy eating.
When we are eating things that are good for our body 80% of the time they can handle 20% of naughty foods and be ok. It's when the scale is tipped more in favour of junk that our bodies struggle to process the junk foods.
I am a realist. I know that you go out for dinner. I know that you like to eat cookies while watching a movie on a Friday night. I know that sometimes you are too exhausted to cook and you order in pizza. I know that sometimes you stand in your pantry and sneak chocolate and hide from your kids when you're having a really bad day (wait, maybe that's just me?!).
I know all of this because despite being a nutritionist I am a human and a mom and I don't eat "perfectly" all the time. NO ONE DOES (not even the hippiest, plant loving, green juice drinking, vegan out there)!
If you're someone who has tried diet after diet and is constantly restricting yourself and depriving yourself of things you want, and then shaming yourself when you do eat those things, try it my way and see how you feel.
What I tell my clients is to focus on the healthy foods they are eating (fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds, beans, lentils, lean meats) rather than thinking about all the things they are "missing out" on. Add more of these healthy foods to your diet and you will notice there isn't as much room for the naughty foods. When your diet is mostly whole foods you can have chips or a slice of cake without it being detrimental to your health.
When you do get a big sugar craving, try eating a natural sugar first. Dates, fresh fruit, baked sweet potato, honey (natural sugars make amazing desserts, have you tried my raw vegan cheesecake?!). Chances are it's your body's way of telling you that you A: are not eating enough carbohydrate, B: that you aren't eating often enough (every 2-3hours) or c: both. Start to decipher when it's your body telling you it needs sugar for fuel and when it just wants to taste that cronut.
And for those of my women out there who are desperately trying to conceive, this applies to you too. You don't have to never look at sugar again, quit drinking alcohol for good, make disgusting green concoctions that you know are good for you but make you gag and be miserable. Indulging a bit here and there is not going to make your chances of conceiving go down, I promise.
The media has made healthy eating out to be super complicated, making people think they need to do crazy diets to achieve the goal they want (weight loss, clear skin, improved energy, etc.) and then when the diet doesn't work the person feels like they have failed. When really it is the media who has failed you.
I am here to tell you that it is simple. Eat plants, most of the time, enjoy a treat when you really want it and be happy. That's it :)
My Chocolate Almond Smoothie is an awesome drink for when you want a sweet fix but is made with all natural sugars. It tastes naughty but it is entirely nutritious.
Chocolate Almond Smoothie
1.5 frozen bananas
3 Medjool dates, pitted
2 Tbsp almond butter
2 Tbsp organic cocoa powder
1 1/4 cups almond milk
Place all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth.
Love and Light xo,
I've had quite a few moms asking me lately for suggestions on what to feed their children. It seems like I am not the only one going through a picky eater stage. My daughter, Harlow, used to gobble up everything we gave her but now that she's nearing 3 years old she has opinions on what she likes and doesn't like. One of her new favourite sayings is "no, I don't like that" before she has even given it a try. It has definitely become frustrating.
The good thing though, is my daughter is a snack machine. She basically eats all day long. A friend recently told me that one of her friends doesn't let her children snack as she wants them to eat their meals.
I understand that you want your child to eat what you have prepared them at meal time. I get it. But it is SO important that children have multiple snacks throughout the day. Kids have a fast metabolism so they burn up what they eat quite quickly. They need to be fed frequently to keep their blood sugar levels stable. This helps keep their moods even, their brain focused and functioning and their energy up.
When children reach a certain age it can become a battle to get them to eat what you want. It is really important to remember that you are in control of what they eat at home but you cannot control how much they eat. They are their own beings with their own minds and willpower. We have to trust that if we are providing different healthy snack and meal options throughout the day they will get the nourishment they need. Their bodies are smart and they will crave what nutrients they need. Harlow went through an apple kick for about 6 months eating 2-3 apples a day. I'm sure there was some nutrient her body was missing and her body told her to get it from apples.
You've probably heard this before but you are the role model and you must lead by example. If you are eating a snickers bar you have to be prepared to share it with your child. If you don't want them eating a snickers bar then you have to not have them in the house (or be very sneaky where you hide it!). That is my rule. If I don't want my kid to eat it then I can't eat it. If your child sees you snacking on and enjoying kale chips or a big bowl of fruit then they are more likely to want to eat those too.
A good way to get your child to eat the things you prepare for them is to let them help make it. Harlow LOVES energy balls and part of the reason she loves them is because she gets to spend special time with mommy making them together and eating them in the process.
It is also EXTREMELY IMPORTANT to never use food as punishment or reward. For example, if your child doesn't want to eat their veggies at dinner PLEASE don't tell them they can't have dessert. It makes them think of their vegetables as boring and yucky and their sugar filled dessert as delicious. If you are going to make a dessert, make something that is delicious but also super healthy so when they don't want to eat what you've provided at dinner they will still be eating something healthy and filling for dessert (raw vegan cheesecake anyone?!).
Punishing or rewarding ("eat 3 more bites of broccoli and you can have ice cream") children with food creates an unhealthy relationship with food, giving more value to the reward food (aka the "unhealthy" food). It is an easy strategy in the short run, but in the long run it can increase the risk that a child (or adult later on) will emotionally eat. It also gives them a preference for junky, high fat high sugar foods and decreases their ability to regulate their food intake.
So what ARE some healthy snacks that aren't overly complicated to make? Check out my list below.
-Energy balls are fast and delicious and can be changed to suit your child's preferences. If your child has a nut allergy swap out the nuts for seeds or oats.
-Fruit salads using seasonal fruit.
-Overnight oats and chia puddings are great quick make ahead breakfast or snack ideas. You can easily sneak hemp seeds or chia seeds into them for added protein and minerals.
-Foods with dips! Harlow is more likely to eat something if she can dip it in something yummy. So tzatziki and baked pita chips or organic corn tortilla chips are great. Hummus and veggies sticks or flax crackers (we like Mary's brand). You can experiment with different beans/legumes (chickpeas or lentils or black beans and blend in veggies like roasted peppers or spinach).
-Try roasting things! Roasted chickpeas are DELICIOUS! We also love cutting up zucchini and rolling it in a mixture of parmesan and spices and baking it and then dipping it in hot sauce. You could also do the same with sweet potatoes or carrots.
-Try different cooked veggies with lots of butter or coconut oil (cooked broccoli, carrots, green beans) and I like to put Herbamare on Harlow’s (she LOVES it and makes her want to eat her veggies more).
-For a sweet treat you can also make vegan banana ice cream (frozen bananas blended in a food processor, add some toppings like coconut and nuts).
-Fruit smoothies (see my raspberry dreamsicle smoothie below) are easy and you can throw some greens and plant protein powder in there too if your child is totally opposed to vegetables. Smoothies can also easily become popsicles for hot summer days.
-Apple sandwiches. Cut an apple in half, smear it with peanut butter, add toppings (nuts, seeds, shredded coconut, mini chocolate chips, etc.). Kids love these because they can pick the toppings.
-Vegetable buns (takes a little more time to make these). I like the ones from greenkitchenstories.
-Whole grain tortillas (or use a big lettuce leaf) with hummus or other bean spread, veggies, sprouts, cheese, etc.
Keep offering the same foods too. It takes about 10 tries to change a child's taste buds. So if you are desperate for your child to like hummus, they might just like it the 10th time they eat it. Some kids are really sensitive to the different textures of food (that would be my husband) so trying healthy foods in different ways can get them eating the foods you want. For example if they don't like raw bananas try freezing them and making ice cream out of them, or adding them to smoothies or mashing them up and mixing into overnight soaked oats.
If you are struggling to get your kids to eat healthy or just need more ideas, feel free to send me a message. And mama, you're doing great!
Love and light xo,