The Simple Equation to a Well Balanced Diet

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As humans, we require certain vitamins, minerals, and nutrients to function at our highest. But, how do we know if we’re getting those nutrients? For many of us, it seems unrealistic to count and measure every portion of food we eat, so is there a way around that?

Whether you’re looking to lose weight, bulk up, or maintain your good health, proper nutrition pays a key role. It is my belief that we don’t need to get crazy counting, weighing, and focusing on the numbers. By eating a well balanced diet, you will achieve the adequate nutrition your body needs.

So what do I mean by a well balanced diet?

A well balanced diet consists of macronutrients, which are proteins, fats, and complex carbohydrates, and micronutrients, which are vitamins and minerals.

To know if you’re eating enough, I would strive to include each of those categories in every meal. Eat slowly, and enjoy every bite. Once you’ve finished, wait 20 minutes, and if you’re still truly hungry, have more. When we listen closely to our bodies, it will tell us what it needs.

To help you build your plate, I’ve made a list of some foods in each category to keep you nourished and satisfied.

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Protein

  • pasture raised eggs
  • free range chicken
  • wild caught salmon
  • nuts: walnuts, almonds, cashews, brazil nuts, pistachios, hazelnuts, pine nuts, macadamia
  • seeds: sunflower, flax, chia, sesame
  • seitan
  • tofu
  • greek yogurt (if your body tolerates dairy)
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Fat

  • healthy oils: avocado, olive, coconut, flaxseed, walnut
  • avocado
  • olives (rinse to remove excess salt)
  • nut butters
  • nuts + seeds
  • ghee (clarified butter – 100% milk fat, no water or protein)
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Carbohydrates

  • sweet potatoes/yams
  • oatmeal
  • brown rice
  • beans
  • lentils
  • quinoa
  • vegetables: beets, butternut squash, pumpkin, corn
  • fruit: banana, pineapple, apple, mango, cantaloupe, raisins, dates, goji berries
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Micronutrients

  • greens: boy choy, spinach, kale, watercress, swiss chard, arugula, lettuce
  • seaweed
  • garlic
  • shellfish
  • berries: strawberries, blackberries, blueberries
  • eggs
  • dark chocolate
  • broccoli
  • cauliflower
  • cabbage
  • carrots
  • parsnips
  • squash: butternut, acorn, spaghetti
  • asparagus
  • zucchini
  • cucumber
  • peppers
  • mushrooms

The main message that I hope you’ve taken away from this is that a well balanced diet doesn’t have to be complicated or stressful. The equation is quite simple. Eat mainly whole foods from the earth, mostly plants, and include a diversity of colors and textures. Eat until you’re satisfied, and if you’re always feeling hungry, consider upping your macronutrient profile. Another thing to keep in mind is your activity level. The more you burn, the more your body will need to replenish its fuel.

If you’ve enjoyed this read, please share with a friend you’d like to bring on your wellness journey! Having a support system and accountability partner will help you stick to your goals and inspire even more action.

If you’re having trouble picking an accountability partner, look no further. I was hoping you’d ask… 😉 I will be your guide on the side and let you take center stage. Head to my website to get started ASAP!

With love & appreciation,

Brittany

Easy Allergy Friendly Muffins

Mornings can be hectic, and deciding what’s for breakfast when you’re in a rush can be just enough to make you crazy. To keep the decision making to a minimum, the clean up easy, and nutrition high, I like to make these muffins about every other week for my family. They are gluten, egg, nut, and dairy free (although I topped mine with nuts), low in sugar, and high in fiber.

Before I share the recipe, I must tell you that each time I make these I tend to throw in a wild card ingredient. This is just my style. I guess you could say I’m known for this. Sometimes it works, and sometimes it doesn’t, but while you’re baking I would highly encourage you to add in a few bonuses, or replace something with an alternative just to keep things fresh and exciting each time.

Easy Peasy Allergy Friendly Muffins

  • 3 ripe bananas
  • 2 flax eggs: 2 tablespoons flax meal with 5 tablespoons water. Sit for 5 minutes (or 2 pasture raised eggs could be used if not egg sensitive)
  • 2 cups gluten free old fashioned oats (regular works too if not gluten sensitive)
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened apple sauce (pumpkin puree, yogurt, or coconut oil also works well)
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon or pumpkin pie spice

Wild Cards:

  • 1 scoop vanilla plant based protein powder (I like VShake by DoTerra)
  • 1 scoop collagen peptides

(In the past I’ve subbed the bananas for zucchini or pumpkin puree and added 1/2 cup of coconut sugar or brown sugar for sweetness. I’ve also added a handful of spinach! What will you try? Share in the comments section!)

The best part about this recipe is the only kitchen tool you need is a blender! Blend all ingredients, with wet on the bottom, in a high speed blender until mixed thoroughly. I use a Vitamix with a tamper stick to help incorporate all the ingredients. If you don’t have this, you may have to stop and use a spoon to move your batter around. (*if using oat flour this could be mixed in a bowl)

Mix-ins:

  • Our favorites are dairy free dark chocolate chips, nuts, seeds, coconut, and fruit.

Tip: if I’m only using one mix-in, I’ll hand mix it right into the batter, but when using multiples I just top the muffins after I scoop the batter into the pan.

Now it’s time to bake these bad boys.

I love to use fun silicon based reusable muffin liners, but you can also scoop them into a well greased pan. Once you’ve filled your muffin tin, bake at 350° for 18 minutes.

Make sure to give about 5-10 minutes to cool, and keep the hot pan pushed way back out of the reach of little hands. These muffins are such a crowd pleaser at my house that my two year couldn’t wait and decided to serve herself….ouch!!

I hope you’re excited to get to your kitchen and start baking! Please share this post with anyone you think could use a simple recipe to ease weekly stress. I’m confident this will become a favorite in your house as it is in mine.

I appreciate you coming here to read. Come back soon!

With Love & Gratitude,

Brittany

Isn’t That Ironic? My Personal Story of Depression.

I started writing this over a month ago, but I’ve been struggling to find the words I want to say because I feel so many emotions when thinking about the past year. It was a year filled with a great deal of pain, questioning, and desperation, but also one that I had to go through to gain the strength, confidence, and perspective I have today.

At the start of 2018, I felt inspired and courageous. I had been a stay at home mom for 4 years, and felt it was time to make my aspirations a priority. I decided to go back to school and follow my passions to become a holistic health coach.

Ironically, while studying everything health and wellness, 4 months in, I realized that burnout is a real thing. I couldn’t be a full time mom, take care of my household, stay up late doing school work, wake up with my kids 3-4x a night, then start all over again the next day, while still finding time to care for myself, maintain my relationships, and everything else in between. I was completely overwhelmed, exhausted, deflated of my optimism, and had absolutely nothing left to give.

Simultaneously, I was learning through the literature in my curriculum at IIN that there are many aspects of life that contribute to health and happiness. At the forefront, are relationships, career, physical activity, and spirituality, all of which needed improvement in my life.

My education opened my eyes to so many things I wasn’t addressing that were having big impacts on my wellbeing. I had been so hung up on fixing everything with nutrition, and blaming every negative symptom on my food sensitivities, that I was essentially burying my head in the sand, and completely ignoring all the other red flags that had been waving around me for years.

Around May, I began a downward spiral of depression that would make me question everything – my marriage, my friendships, my sanity, and my ability to be the person I wanted to be. I experienced constant fatigue, extreme episodes of sadness and hopelessness, I distanced myself from people and things that I loved, I had a hard time getting out of bed in the morning, and my whole body ached. I felt like a stranger to myself, and I couldn’t seem to shake it.

I thought I did an okay job of hiding it all, until a simple question like, “how are you?” became enough to bring me to tears. People were noticing and I had to start addressing my problems. At that point, I had so much to say that I hadn’t been, that I’d find myself spilling out my personal life to anyone who would listen. This, of course, left me with many vulnerability hangovers (that’s the feeling you get when you word vomit on family, friends, and even strangers and regret it later). Because of this, I began talk therapy. When sharing with a third party there are no judgements and no hangovers. I recommend this to absolutely everyone.

I learned so much during my personal great depression, but the most bewildering part is that there was an immense silver lining amidst it all. The low points I experienced served as a catalyst for me to take ownership of my life. It inspired me to stop playing the victim and realize that I have a choice every day when I wake up. This catapulted me into having much needed hard conversations, and getting to know myself in a way I didn’t care to before. Ironically, the most problematic year of my life ended up being the biggest year for inspiration, transformation, and growth.

Depression can coexist with overwhelming awe and even reverence for the mystery and miracle of life, though when we find ourselves in a pit of despair, that second bit might not be so readily available. It’s that second bit, however, that, like a ray of light beaming into a chasm, keeps giving me something to crawl toward, something to crawl with.

Jennifer Williamson, Reasons to Stay Alive

Sometimes it’s not until you hit rock bottom that you realize what matters most. There was so much value that came from my lowest points. I learned that I had to speak up about my needs and expectations (after all, no one is a mind reader!) and become a crystal clear communicator. I had to honor my state of vulnerability, swallow my pride, and accept help. I also recognized that I had to tighten my friendship circle because I only had so much to give. But, most of all, I had to love myself unconditionally, trust my decisions, and learn to say NO.

This will be an ongoing process for me, as I am a recovering people pleaser who also sets high standards for herself, but moving forward I will bring awareness to the moments in question. My biggest intention for 2019 is to respect my boundaries and limitations, and to be honest with myself and others.

I feel compelled to talk about my depression because it’s become an epidemic, but simultaneously remains taboo in our every day conversations. Major depressive disorder effects hundreds of millions of people worldwide, but many of us share our “highlight reels”, but hide the real stories. The more we talk about our emotions and stop hiding behind a facade of rainbows, the more we can prevent the harmful experiences from occurring in the first place. Support is everything and it means so much to know you’re not alone.

The World Health Organization (WHO) predicts that by the year 2020, depression will be the second cause of morbidity, and currently, it’s estimated that approximately 1 out of 7 will experience an episode of depression in their lifetime. There are common themes among all people experiencing depression, and I think it’s time that we address the problems.

Why is depression such a problem?

People can experience depression for a variety of reasons. Here are some of the most common causes:

  • stress
  • loss of a loved one
  • divorce
  • past/present emotional traumas
  • hormonal imbalances
  • alcoholism
  • food allergies/sensitivities
  • neurotransmitter imbalance
  • sleep deprivation
  • lack of sunlight (often seasonal)
  • exposure to toxic compounds and mold
  • serious medical issues for you or a loved one (cancer, autoimmune diseases, diabetes, Parkinson’s Disease)

Are you unsure if you or someone you love are experiencing depression? Here are some symptoms to look for:

  • fatigue
  • low mood
  • disinterested in things that normally bring joy
  • hopelessness
  • extreme sadness/crying often
  • trouble sleeping
  • doubting yourself
  • pessimism
  • anxiety
  • paranoia
  • aches and pains
  • weight changes (gain or loss)
  • changes in appetite
  • trouble concentrating
  • memory issues
  • irritability
  • thoughts of suicide or death
  • attempted suicide

These symptoms can have widespread effects on your life and the lives of those who love you. Please be honest with yourself and speak up if you need help. Or, if you notice someone is a little “off” that you love, let them know you are a safe space and you care.

Many people choose to medicate, and while this can be a great option for some, it can mask the symptoms without addressing the root cause. In these cases, when patients go off of their medications, the symptoms can reoccur so they find themselves caught in a vicious cycle of discouragement. If you’re currently taking medications, absolutely continue to do what you feel is best for your body, and follow the plan advised by your doctor, but I would like to offer some natural remedies that I’ve found helpful for anyone looking to take a whole body, holistic approach.

The following list are things that have helped me personally:

  • eat a well balanced diet, free from artificial ingredients, preservatives, and GMOs
  • avoid sugars and refined carbohydrates (white bread, pasta, baked goods)
  • eliminate gluten and/or wheat
  • get adequate sleep
  • surround yourself with a positive support network
  • seek professional counseling – talking therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, health/life coach
  • get outside for that fresh air and sunshine
  • include supplements in your diet – vitamin D, fish oil, probiotics, and B vitamins
  • exercise/move your body daily
  • use essential oils to promote calming or uplifting moods (roman chamomile, lavender, rose geranium, ylang ylang, and rose are great options)

It’s important to remember that the healing process won’t happen overnight, but with an open mind, hope, and support, you can turn your life around.

In January, I graduated from The Institute for Integrative Nutrition (IIN). After a long, hard year I am coming out on the other side with an action plan for self care and the knowledge to help others do the same.

Please share this to spread the light and let more people know that they aren’t alone. If you are interested in learning more about my program, head over to my website and contact me. Thank you for reading.

With Love & Gratitude,

Brittany

Creating Mental Space to Overcome Stress

It’s the most wonderful time of the year, but do your days feel merry and bright?

Here in the U.S., stress is on the rise. Forty four percent of us are more stressed today than we were five years ago, and it’s leading to everything from the common cold to heart disease.

Our modern lifestyle is often fast paced and busy. With online access 24/7, a constant overload of information, things to do, and people to please, chronic stress has become a part of life, and the symptoms related are often viewed as “normal”.

Here are some common symptoms to look for:

Cognitive symptoms:

  1. Constant worrying
  2. Racing mind
  3. Forgetfulness/disorganization
  4. Inability to focus
  5. Poor judgement
  6. Being a pessimist

 Emotional symtoms:

  1. Easily agitated, frustrated, or moody
  2. Overwhelmed, losing control
  3. Difficulty relaxing or quieting your mind
  4. Low self esteem and depression
  5. Isolation, avoidance

Physical symptoms:

  1. Low energy
  2. Headaches
  3. Stomach upset (stomachache, diarrhea, constipation, nausea)
  4. Aches, pains, tense muscles
  5. Chest pain and rapid heart
  6. Insomnia
  7. Frequently getting sick
  8. Low sex drive and/or ability
  9. Anxiety, ringing in the ear, cold or sweaty hands/feet
  10. Clenching jar and/or grinding teeth

Behavioral symptoms:

  1. Change in appetite – too much, too little, not at all
  2. Procrastination/avoiding responsibilities
  3. Increased use of drugs, alcohol, cigarettes
  4. Nervous behaviors – nail biting, fidgeting, and pacing

Regardless of what symptoms you’re experiencing, I’m pleased to tell you that those unpleasant feelings are only temporary, and you don’t have to live the rest of your life suffering.

Awareness is key.

When was the last time you remember sitting in silence and doing absolutely nothing? A time when you didn’t have somewhere to be, something to do, or someone to please?

Can you think of a time like that? If so, that’s amazing, and I am happy that you are making your health a priority. If not, you have some work to do, but that’s okay. You’re definitely not alone.

The easiest way to take action today is by taking control of the lowest hanging fruit – your physical environment. This includes the physical spaces that you spend time in, the air you breathe, the sounds you hear, the sights you see, and light you’re exposed to. By intentionally making tweaks to your daily surroundings, you will increase your satisfaction, see a rise in your productivity, and improve your mental capacity to handle your responsibilities with greater peace of mind, focus, and clarity.

I want to highlight some changes you can implement today for each environmental category. Take a moment to order your stressors from least to greatest and tackle them one by one. I am confident that once you get started you won’t want to stop!

Here are 5 environmental stressors that could be impacting your life.

Crowding

When trying to clear space in our minds, the first step is to get rid of clutter. If it’s taking up space externally, it’s most likely taking up space internally as well. Clutter drains us of time, energy, and money. Here are some tips to make a clean sweep!

  1. Adopt a minimalist lifestyle. This will give you less stuff to manage daily.
  2. Get rid of anything that hasn’t been used in a year (and anything else that doesn’t bring you joy – read “The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up”. It’ll change you.)
  3. Stay organized by doing small tasks every day. And get the whole family involved!
  4. Find time and space to meditate. This will help you organize your internal clutter. For some of my favorite meditation guides see Danielle Laporte, and apps such as Head Space.
  5. Get outside and breathe that fresh air! Feel the freedom of endless space in the vast world around you.

Noise

Too much noise in our mind can cause feelings of overwhelm, nervous behaviors, and insomnia. Are you aware of the noises interrupting your natural flow? Do you live in an area where traffic noise is an issue, a loud household, or have you simply considered the noises in your space? To keep noise pollution in check, try to implement some of these tips:

  • Reduce TV usage (and get the TV out of bedroom as it can interfere with sleep)
  • Silence electronic notifications
  • Meditate
  • Listen to relaxing melodies – soft music/nature sounds
  • Invest in a white noise machine to drown out audible disturbances. I personally like this one.
  • Use ear plugs or noise cancelling headphones whenever necessary

Air

On average, 90% of our time is spent indoors. Considering that we all breathe nonstop, our air quality is very important to our health. Have you ever considered what harmful compounds or irritants could be flying around in your air your inhaling? From upholstery and carpeting to pet dander and personal products, many particles in the air could be causing eyes, nose, and ear irritation, and other allergic reactions which are messing with your internal systems. Here are some ways to promote clean air:

  • Include green plants in your home – the plants absorb gases through their leaves and roots! (NASA recommends 1 per 100 square feet)
  • Invest in air purifiers
  • Diffuse essential oils to clean air and promote relaxation. Tea tree, lavender, and lemon are a few of my favorites. I’m a huge fan and advocate of DoTerra. Please comment below or email me through my website if you’d like to add some essential oils to your medicine and cleaning cabinets.
  • Open a window
  • Go green! Consider making healthy and environmentally friendly swaps in your cleaning and beauty cabinets.

Color 

The use of color to heal, referred to as chromotherapy, has been used since ancient times. Colors can impact mood greatly and have the ability to reduce or exacerbate stressful symptoms. What colors are you often surrounded by? Do they bring you peace and comfort, or do they provoke anxiety and overwhelm? Here are some ways to take control with the use of color:

  • Use soft neutrals in your home and office. Blues, greens, violet, and soft shades of pink are best for promoting a calm body and mind.
  • Decorate with calming pictures. Waterfalls, ocean views, and forests are great options.
  • Make desktop background a calming photo or color. Use the beach, sky, stars, or an earthy tone, such as green, to cause less strain on the eyes.

Light 

In today’s age, we do not follow the patterns of the sun. We often wake before the sun rises, and go to bed far after the sun falls. Because our schedules do not coincide with nature, it’s important to make adjustments to our surroundings to establish a schedule and natural rhythm for our bodies to follow. Here are some ways to do that:

  • Get outside in the natural light. Nature is always the answer!
  • Invest in smart bulbs to create scenes in your home/office to reflect your desired energy level and mood. Warm tones will promote calm states, while cool tones will evoke energy.
  • Use a bright light therapy lamp during cold/dark months. This has been shown to ward off season depression.
  • Limit screen time, especially in the evening. The bright blue light in our screen sends the signal that it’s day time to our brain, and can interrupt our natural sleep patterns. You could also use blue light blocking glasses.

The best method of managing stress is to control what you can so that you can better manage what you can’t. Altering your physical environment will do great things for your mind, and clear mental space needed to successfully navigate through life’s unavoidable stressors.

If you enjoyed this read, please share to help inspire others to take back control and promote optimal health for their mind, body, and spirit.

Have a wonderful, stress-free day!!!

With love and gratitude,

Brittany

* This post contains affiliate links. I only recommend things that I personally use or that I fully support. Thank you.

Are Your Perceptions Sabotaging Your Life?

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Approximately 80% of U.S women have battled with their body image at some point in their life.

Beginning as early as 6 years old, girls are influenced by social factors that can contribute to body dissatisfaction. Our society is obsessed with beauty and youth, and it drives people to chase after a form of perfection that doesn’t exist.

So why are we so overly concerned and unhappy with our bodies?

It has a LOT to do with what we see in the media 24/7, but I’ll tell you one thing, for some, it has nothing to do with weight at all. About 70% of healthy weighted women still want to be thinner or change their physical appearance in some way. As women, we are constantly playing the comparison game. When will we be enough as we are?

I believe what’s driving this is what we associate with society’s standards of beauty. “If I looked like that I’d be happier and more successful. I’d have more friends, deeper love, and more fun and excitement.” Changing our appearance seems like the answer to everything. But that is what I like to call “the grass is greener syndrome”.

It becomes dangerous when our perceptions become our reality. Our mind starts to believe that present day life isn’t enough. And so it begins – the journey to a destination that can never be reached because we perceive things to be true when they aren’t. Beauty and other external factors don’t create happiness; our mindset does. We have to look inward and love and appreciate who we are and what we have right now in this moment. Without that ability to love unconditionally, we will never find satisfaction because our mind will always believe there’s room for improvement.

People come in all different shapes and sizes. As a society, we tend to define a “healthy body” in ways that don’t translate to all women. We all have different bone structures, muscle compositions, and our fat distribution varies, but if you eat mindfully and move your body regularly, chances are, you are at a natural and healthy body weight for you.

Aim for eating whole, unprocessed foods 80-90% of the time, and leave room for spontaneity, fun, and relaxation the other 10-20%. That 10-20% of wiggle room in your lifestyle is crucial to your emotional health. “Eating clean” all the time and worrying about food in relation to your body image can limit your social interactions and deprive you of important social and emotional needs. Don’t allow body pressures to get in the way of your joy, social experiences, and relationships. Let yourself live free of anyone else’s standards, and celebrate the body that only you have.

If your weight loss is associated with better health, more energy, a longer lifespan, and a better quality of life, absolutely make the lifestyle changes necessary to feel your best. But, do it for you, and know when enough is enough. Set a realistic goal and enjoy the ride to get there. And, do me a favor. Start loving your body now, not later.

If you are in a healthy weight range for your height, age, and gender, but are still trying to lose weight or change your body in some way, try to figure out what the underlying forces are. Are you attaching ideals to body image that don’t truly exist?

  • What motivates you to lose weight?
  • What will you gain from your body changes?
  • How will you feel when you get to your target weight/shape?
  • How will the quality of your life change?
  • Will your relationships change?
  • How are your current relationships?
  • What will remain the same?
  • Are you holding on to a body stigma from the past?
  • Do you love yourself today? Why/why not?

Consider these questions. Answering these honestly may lead you to realize that what you’re missing in life isn’t associated with your body at all. Perhaps all you really need is a good hug from someone you love, a night out with friends to laugh and let loose, space to unleash trapped creativity, or a spiritual practice, such as meditation to give you mental clarity. It’s incredible what a little love and connection can do for your soul.

As I mentioned before, weight loss is recommended for some individuals for medical reasons, so always listen to the guidance of your doctor. My main message that I hope you will consider is to define your ideal body on your own terms, live in alignment with what brings you joy, and show yourself some love.

With Love & Gratitude,

Brittany 
Continue reading “Are Your Perceptions Sabotaging Your Life?”

What’s Gluten & Who Should Avoid It?

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Today the word gluten is BUZZING. Gluten free (GF) is often equated to healthy living, and is largely trending in the market place. So what is it, and why are so many people avoiding it?

Gluten refers to the proteins glutenin and gliadin found in wheat, rye, barley, spelt, and other forms, such as triticale and einkorn. It is responsible for giving baked goods a doughy and elastic structure, and is commonly used as a thickening agent and flavor enhancer. The name GLUten, not coincidentally, refers to its glue-like properties.

An awareness of the negative effects of gluten is spreading and more people are realizing that it could be the culprit of their ongoing issues. When gluten hits the digestive tract and is exposed to the cells, it is commonly mistaken as a foreign invader.

Celiac disease (CD) is an autoimmune disease that effects about 1% of the population. It causes the most severe gluten reaction, with symptoms including gastrointestinal disrupt, rapid and unexplained weight loss, anemia, dental and bone disorders, mouth sores, skin rashes, and tingling in the hands and feet.

When people with CD consume gluten, an immune response is triggered and initiates an attack on the intestines. Over time, the villi of the intestines become damaged, making it impossible for the body to absorb nutrients. Consequently, this leads to malnourishment and the development of many other chronic illnesses.

People with CD should never eat gluten. If you’re concerned that you may have CD, a blood test can be done to reveal antibodies, and an autopsy can show the intestinal damage for a diagnosis. It is important to note that you must be currently eating gluten for these tests to be accurate.

Having a wheat allergy is another reason why people could be having adverse reactions after consuming gluten, as wheat is the most commonly used grain. If an allergy is present, the immune system triggers an IgE mediated response. Symptoms will most likely be immediate, and can include swelling, itching, hives, watery eyes, difficulty breathing, and anaphylaxis.

Another category of people who should avoid gluten are those with Non Celiac Gluten Sensitivity (NCGS). They can experience many of the same symptoms as a person with CD, except their intestines stay in tact and their body doesn’t produce the antibodies to gluten. About 40% of the population carries the gene for NCGS, but not all develop a sensitivity.  Currently, there is not a sure way to test for this, but the best way to find out if you’re effected is to try an elimination diet. 

As you can see, diagnosis can be difficult, but if you’re suspicious, I highly recommend experimenting with a GF lifestyle. While 10 years ago GF living was close to impossible, GF options are now widely available in mainstream grocery stores nationwide.

One thing I want to highlight is that while GF options are now available for almost everything, it is important to focus mainly on food sources that are whole, unprocessed, and naturally gluten free. This includes grains and flours such as millet, teff, amaranth, rice varieties, quinoa, buckwheat, sorghum, certified GF oats, corn, nuts, and beans. *Oats are naturally gluten free, but you must shop for oats specifically labeled gluten free because gluten is often added to commercial oats as a binding and flavoring agent.

Like any changes in life, dietary changes can be stressful and challenging. Try to be patient with yourself and take it one day at a time. Remember, sometimes it’s our greatest challenges that make us shine the brightest!

Please share this with someone you love, and do something kind for yourself today.

With Love & Gratitude, 

Brittany 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Imagine a Time When You Felt Your Best

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If you’ve done a session with me, you know that one of the questions I ask is, “at what point in your life did you feel your best?”

Many of you may wonder why this is relevant to your health now, but knowing this information actually tells a lot.

I want to give you a personal example to help you understand why.

I felt my best, from the inside out, when I was pregnant with both of my girls. Other moms reading this may be saying, “What! That’s insane. I was miserable!” But, it’s completely true, and now that I’ve reflected on it, I can tell you why.

When I was 21, i was told by my doctor that I had PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome), and that it would be challenging for me to get pregnant. At the time, I was terrified because one of my lifelong dreams was to be a mom. It gave me more anxiety to say the least, but I added it to the ongoing list of my health hurdles. (See more health hurdles in previous posts.)

Fast forward 4 years, my husband and I had just gotten married and I was already thinking ahead to children. Knowing that I had PCOS and it could take years to conceive, I suggested that we start trying soon because it could take at least a year until the doctors would allow any sort of intervention. I had so many emotions surrounding this topic, and I just wanted to stop worrying and start taking action.

To our astonishment, I was pregnant on the first try! It seemed to good to be true, and I continue to be extraordinarily grateful for this every single day.

When I found out, I was ecstatic! So much so that I texted my mom immediately (I know, why did I do that!??!), but she was at work so I couldn’t talk to her, and I literally couldn’t hold the information inside of me. Sorry Mom…I dreamed of that being so much more personal…LOL.

From that moment on, I wasn’t concerned about my PCOS, my weight, bloat, digestion and other anxieties that plagued me at the time. I was concerned completely with the growing baby inside of me. It allowed me to finally RELAX. I ate foods that nourished my body, but also enjoyed treats “for the baby” guilt free. I allowed myself to rest when necessary, and I was grateful every day that I was going to be a Mom. I had let go of fears that I had been holding on to, and put all my energy into fulfilling my lifelong dream. I wasn’t overly concerned with myself anymore. All of the sudden, I had a much bigger purpose and my priorities shifted.

The moment I left my ego at the door, everything was better. I didn’t even realize what my anxiety was doing to my health before, but there was nothing better than that release.

My pregnancy experience helped me to discover that I feel best when I’m serving others. It gives me great sense of purpose and drives me to be better. While there was a mutual benefit for me to be eating well and treating my body kindly, I wasn’t doing it for me, I was doing it for my babies. Ironically, turning my focus away from myself resolved many of my ongoing issues.

Now that I am starting on a career path to helping others, I feel the same euphoric feeling I did when I was pregnant. I am redirecting my energy to serve something higher than myself. The decision to listen to my intuition and go for a dream that wasn’t completely self focused was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.

Knowing what makes me feel my best led me to what motivates me, and ultimately helped guide me to this current chapter of my life.

So now I ask you – when did you feel your best?

  • What was happening at that point in your life?
  • What did your stress look like?
  • What were your feelings about your body?
  • Were you physical active?
  • Were your relationships healthy?
  • What was your main focus at the time?
  • Where did you direct most of your energy?
  • What people and places surrounded you?

Take some time to really think about these questions. Compare and contrast you answers with you current situation. Is anything jumping out for you? What can you do now to replicate the feelings you had back then?

Our past can give us so much insight into our future. Use your history to guide you. Sometimes it’s hard to know what we want, but if we ask the right questions, the answer could be crystal clear.

If you’re currently feeling stuck, want to make a life change, or looking for direction in your life, I hope this inspired your thought process.

If this resonated with you, please leave a message in the comments. I would love to hear from you.

Thank you for reading!

With Love & Gratitude,

Brittany

5 Steps To Beautiful, Glowing Skin!

woman in yellow collared shirt
Photo by bruce mars on Pexels.com

For years, I struggled with breakouts. It made me self conscious, lowered my self esteem, and drove me CRAZY.

In my twenties, I thought there must be a wash, cream, or toner that can solve my problems. I tried many of the popular (and expensive!!) facial care systems on the market, used creams prescribed by my dermatologist, and even tried organic washes and lotions, but nothing worked. Each product I tried promised great results, so what was I doing wrong?

To my amazement, it had very little to do with what was being applied externally, and everything to do with what was going on internally. It just so happened that throughout my skin issues, I was also dealing with a lot of belly issues, including bloat, stomach upset, and constipation/diarrhea. When I began to discover the cause of my digestive troubles, my skin began to improve dramatically as well.

Skin is the largest organ of the body. If our lifestyle impacts all of the internal organs in our body, it makes complete sense that the largest organ would also be effected. You know when people are sick and you can see it in there face? Our skin is a looking glass into what is happening inside. It is important to take note of when things occur to pinpoint the cause and find a solution.

After years of trial and error with food, monitoring my lifestyle, and observing my moods, thoughts, and feelings, I finally came to understand the triggers that were causing my skin reactions. I hope my experience can save you a lot of time, money, and wasted energy.

And now…

The 5 Steps to Beautiful Skin

1. Eat nourishing foods for your body

Why do I say your body? Well, that’s because each one of us is unique and require different forms of nourishment. What is your diet like? It is highly processed, high in fat free/low fat products, overloaded with added gluten, sugar, and/or dairy? While everybody is different, there are certain items that seem to be linked to skin issues for the masses. In order to figure out what your personal triggers are, clean up your diet by getting rid of anything processed and artificial, begin eating mostly plant based (meaning eat more foods from the earth than anything else), and monitor high allergen foods. This may take time, but I promise it’ll be worth it.

2. Drink plenty of water

Drinking adequate water is crucial for our vital organs to function. Water flushes out the toxins from our bodies, cleans out dirt and bacteria, and can help us shine from the inside out. It also helps moisturize and replenish the skin cells with essential nutrients. By adding more water to your diet, you will experience whole-body changes and many positive side effects that go far beyond your face.

3. Manage your stress

We are all susceptible to levels of stress, and the impacts it has on our bodies is astounding. Stress produces the hormone cortisol, which can cause the body to produce more oil, cause inflammation and flare ups, and interfere with the bacteria in the gut. All of these factors can lead to acne symptoms. It is important to find ways to combat stress, such as meditation, deep breathing, developing a routine, and scheduling more time for fun in your life. Let’s stop stressing and start living!

4. Get more sleep

It’s not called beauty sleep for nothing! You know that morning glow you have when you wake from a long and restful night? That is the result of an increase in blood flow to the skin while you are sleeping. As we sleep, functions like breathing slows and blood pressure drops, so the blood supply can work to repair the muscles and tissues. When good sleep isn’t happening, the benefits of overnight renewal can’t occur. Most adults should aim for about 7-8 hours each night. I know this can be challenging (I’m definitely talking to you moms out there!), but more is better than perfect. Aim for more than you are currently getting, maybe by going to bed an hour earlier each night, and you will feel the difference.

5. Moisturize

While the natural functions of the body take care of the skin wonderfully, moisturizers are a great add-on. They help treat and prevent dry skin, and act as a barrier between the skin and the environment. So many toxins, dirt, and bacteria fly on to our skin every day and it helps to have an extra layer of protection. I use coconut oil to moisturize, and often add a drop of essential oil (such as frankincense or lavender) for increased benefits.

Well, there ya have it!

I hope you’ve found this list to be helpful, and I hope you implement these key factors of healthy, glowing skin into your daily life. If you do, I would love to hear from you in the comments!

Thanks for reading. Have a great day!

 

With Love & Gratitude,

Brittany

Is Emotional Baggage Literally Weighing You Down?

red eat neon sign turned on
Photo by Tim Mossholder on Pexels.com

Today I want to share something that isn’t typically discussed in our culture: disordered eating.

When thinking about eating disorders (EDs), anorexia nervosa (AN), bulimia nervosa (BN), and binge-eating disorder (BED) usually come to mind. But, in reality, much of the population suffers from some form of disordered eating.

Why do I say this? I say this because over eating and frequent dieting are also forms of disordered eating. Frequent phases of deprivation, over indulgence, and reoccurring weight fluctuations are not natural, and are certainly not desirable for our bodies.

So why do we do it? For humans, food is so much more than physical nourishment. Food brings people together, provides comfort, gives immediate gratification, and connects us to the world around us. There are huge social and emotional components.

While I could go on and on about all of the reasons people eat, over eat, and diet, today I want to talk about something specific. A subject that hits home for me. I want to talk about the correlation between adverse life events, stress, and disordered ways of eating.

There are significant links between childhood trauma and disordered eating. People with EDs, including AN, BN, and BED, commonly have one or more experiences of trauma. This could be sexual abuse, physical abuse, physical neglect, emotional abuse, and/or emotional neglect.

It is my belief that many people suffering with forms of disordered eating do not recognize the correlation between their experiences and their behaviors. When people struggle with a negative life event, it is often pushed into the subconscious. Although it may seem dormant, those memories are very much alive, active, and quietly influencing daily thoughts and behaviors.

Although clinical studies have mostly examined the specified EDs mentioned earlier (AN, BN, BED), I want to address the other common irregular eating patterns –  the frequent dieters and the over-eaters that suffer with constant discontent in their bodies.

Stress and life-changing events, both past and present, have the ability to impact weight, mood, and natural functions. Many people who frequently diet and/or over-eat suffer with personal struggles that go far beyond their plate. It could be a past memory that lowered their self-esteem, such as a childhood weight issue, distress about their social class, or a negative comment that they adopted to define them. It could also be a current event, such as unemployment, financial stress, a death of a loved one, an accident, or an illness.

The reason I want to discuss this topic is because I am passionate about treating our bodies as a whole unit rather than simply focusing on the obvious and recognizable symptoms. If we ignore the root causes of our prevalent problems, we will enter into a vicious cycle of dis-ease within our bodies. Disease and stress only breeds more disease and stress.

If you are a yo-yo dieter or on a constant quest to find happiness within your body, I want to encourage you to dive further into your past and present situations. Is there something you are holding on to? If so, that may be why you are holding on to those extra pounds.

We are a society that spends so much time seeking out solutions, but how can we seek out solutions when we do not fully understand the problems?

People spend millions of dollars every year on weight loss shakes, fad diet books, magic potions, and all the other “easy fixes”. We turn to alcohol, drugs, tv, food, and other mind numbing habits instead of owning our emotions and tending to them. We are externally focused, when what we really need to do is look inward.

The answers to your ongoing problems will not be solved by a wonderfully marketed product or by ignoring your problems completely. You have the power to take control of your life, but it requires mindfulness and honesty.

My life mission is to help people overcome their personal obstacles and live their best life imaginable. It is easy to blame people, our past, and negative life events for our current circumstances, but things that are easy usually aren’t worth much and blame only gets you so far.

Be daring, be courageous, take ownership of YOUR life, get out of your comfort zone, and do the work for yourself. The beautiful life you will create as a result will be worth the great efforts.

With Love & Gratitude,

Brittany

 

 

 

References:

Guillaume, S. et al. Associations between adverse childhood experiences and clinical characteristics of eating disorders. Sci. Rep. 6, 35761; doi: 10.1038/srep35761 (2016).

Nierenberg, Cari. “Stress from Negative Life Events Linked to Obesity in Women.” LiveScience, Purch, 14 Nov. 2017, http://www.livescience.com/60936-stress-negative-life-events-obesity.html.

 

 

 

Cook Once. Eat Twice.

adult blond board brunette
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

In today’s world, people are busy. Between work, raising families, and everything in between, it’s no wonder why there has been a decline in home cooked meals. For many this is a struggle, but with a little planning it can actually be feasible for everyone.

What’s the solution? Cook once, but eat twice (or 3 – 4 times!). The trick is to prepare ingredients in bulk so that leftovers can be utilized for the rest of the week in other ways.

Here is a simple example of this plan being implemented:

Sunday:

  • Prepare bulk rice and/or quinoa (i.e cook for eight if serving 4)
  • Cook a whole chicken
  • Roast an assortment of vegetables (i.e. carrots, brussel sprouts, sweet potato)

Meal one:

  • Chicken, sweet potato, brussel sprouts

Meal two:

  • Tacos: Corn tortillas, rice, avocado, carrots, salsa

Meal three:

  • Chicken salad: pull apart chicken, mix with avocado, salt and pepper, and enjoy over a bed of arugula, and brussel sprouts

As you can see, by reusing ingredients and adding them to other items that require little or no preparation, we can create so many meals in minutes. Just plan ahead for the meals you want to prepare so that you have everything you need on hand.

Other ideas for faster meal prep:

  • pre chop veggies/herbs
  • use a crock pot or instant pot
  • pre cook meats
  • keep a well stocked pantry (rice, grains, some canned goods)
  • freeze bulk baked goods such as pancakes, waffles, and muffins
  • keep frozen veggies on hand for emergencies

Do you have any tips that help you throughout the week? I would love to hear! Please share in the comments.

With Love & Gratitude,

Brittany