Category

Wellness

Category

Christmastime has always been my favorite time of the year! I think it is for a lot of us.  I know for me it’s that month of the year that I feel a little bit more alive than usual.  I look forward to the beauty of the lights, decorations, the warm, cozy smells, the beautiful music, and my favorite – giving gifts!  I love the generous spirit of Christmas.  I get so much joy from picking out things for people I love that might make them smile, and how everyone is just a little bit more spirited. So, when this time of year rolls around and you find yourself in a difficult place in your life, it hurts to not feel that same joyous feeling.  But, I think Christmastime is the perfect season to remember to hold onto hope, too. 

The first weekend of December is always our annual Little Concert that my husband organizes and puts on to benefit a local charity.  Last year, although I was still feeling very sick after my Lyme Disease treatment in September, I still sang with Ryan anyway.  We had a great night, so many people turned out, and we raised a lot of money!  The next day, I was busy online shopping for Christmas presents when I suddenly got a terrible pain in my bladder.  It was a sharp, stabbing pain, worse than any bladder infection I had ever had.  I tried my usual natural go-tos for UTIs that typically work, but for a week or so, but it persisted.  I finally went to the doctor.  They couldn’t find any trace of infection and sent me to a specialist who told me that I had Interstitial Cystitis, also known as Painful Bladder Syndrome.  It happens when the lining of the bladder becomes damaged and inflamed.  They told me it was a chronic condition and there wasn’t a cure.  There was one medication on the market for it that only worked for a small percentage of patients and the side effects were terrible.  From my experience with autoimmune disease years before, I wasn’t really looking for medications to solve the problem.  I knew that they would only mask it, not truly heal it. 

I couldn’t believe that after all of the years of sicknesses and all of the efforts I’d made to heal that I was getting yet another chronic illness diagnosis.  I’d changed my diet completely.  I was so strict about what foods I put in my body.  I ate superfoods on the regular!  No gluten, no grains, no dairy,  no sugar, no processed anything!  I only ate organically.  I took supplements and vitamins and I detoxed myself constantly.  I rarely ever drank alcohol anymore.  It just didn’t make sense?

As the pain continued,  I felt completely hopeless.  I had just been through the Lyme Disease Treatment three months prior, (and had finally gotten my autoimmune disease into remission after 6 years prior to that!) and while those symptoms were very gradually improving, this new bladder condition was raging on with a wicked vengeance.  It felt like life was just screwing with me and I was never meant to get out from underneath the boulder of chronic illness.  I was terrified of living the rest of my life in that much pain!  I joined Facebook support groups and SO MANY women had been living in this pain daily for decades!  I’ve had all kinds of pain and so many varying (usually on the extreme) degrees.  But, this was the absolute worst.  There was nothing that brought relief.  Day in and day out.  Night after night of sleepless, horrendous pain. 

Months went by, and I spent every waking moment searching for answers.  I probably spent several thousands of dollars in trial and error treatments and pills.  I even went to physical therapy.  I meditated, did gentle yoga and stretching, and completely changed my diet yet again.  I was journaling, repeating positive affirmations, soul searching, getting energy healing sessions, and I was only eating about six different foods for months, avoiding anything that might cause more pain.  Six months went by and I was still hurting.  

One day in my rife machine Facebook Group for chronic illness and cancer, someone responded to my post about the die-off symptoms I was feeling from one of the detox programs I was doing on the machine (Spooky2 Rife Machine – look it up, it’s pretty incredible!).  He said that he could help me with his radionics machine.  I didn’t really think anything of it, or know anything about it for that matter. I told him to go ahead and try it (this happens remotely – also absolutely incredible!), and I wasn’t expecting anything at all.  Within a couple of hours my heavy fatigue, excrutiating joint pain, and headache had lifted!  So, I continued to pick his brain about what else we could do to get me on the road to healing.  He had used radionics himself to get back to health after his own bout with chronic Lyme Disease.  So, we started treatments to detox my body of all of the pathogens and toxins that feed them and were likely causing my bladder pain.  

At the same time, I also started a raw fruit and vegetable only diet.  I stuck to this for a few months, and along with the radionics treatments, I was starting to feel more energy than I had in YEARS!  My bladder pain was also coming down.  Where it had been a 10 out of 10, it was more like a 5.  It was an incredibly difficult time, but I kept reassuring myself through positive affirmations that I was going to heal.  I’m not always the strongest person.  I don’t let people see my weakness often.  I completely broke down at least once daily.  But, I always kept the smallest glimpse of hope in my heart, and kept fighting every day.

Now, a year later, I’m almost completely bladder pain free.  I don’t take any prescriptions for it.  I just use diet, supplements, and radionics, and my bladder is so much stronger!  I used to not be able to drink a few sips of water without having to run to the bathroom because of the pain.  I now can sleep through the night with only having to get up once or twice, instead of fifteen or more times!  I can eat things I couldn’t before.  I can even have a glass of wine, or cocktail without pain!  I’m not 100% healed, but I am most definitely on my way there.  I’m so happy to say that I’ve enjoying this Christmas more than any other in so many years!  I feel so blessed and grateful to have less pain in my life.  I never thought I would be in this place just one year ago.  

So, what I really wanted to tell you is, that even when life feels like a living nightmare, there is still hope for things to completely change for you!  You just have to hang on and keep fighting.  Don’t ever give up on yourself!  I can’t tell you how many times I felt like I couldn’t go on another minute.  But, if you really set your heart and mind to changing your circumstances, I do believe that things will change for the better for you.  It’s like I say so often on my blog and social media posts… the energy that you put out will always come back to you.  I don’t believe that you can work so hard for so long and never see results.  Dig deep, find your grit, hold on, and fight like hell!  You’ll get to where you want to be.  Sometimes it means thinking outside of the box and stepping outside of your comfort zone.  Try things you’ve never even considered!  Change doesn’t come without making changes.  And so often we think we can’t do things.  We are limited because of “this or that”.  Stop letting those things get in your way and get creative as to how to solve the road blocks.  Asking for help isn’t the end of the world, and you’d be surprised at the number of people out there who are willing to lend a hand.  Remember that you are capable of anything you truly set your mind to.  Believing in yourself is half of the battle!

I hope that this story brought a little beacon of hope to any of you suffering this Christmas season.  I really wish for this to find it’s way to the people who need to hear it most.  I know how it feels.  I know much it hurts.  But, things can and do change.  Keeping hope in your heart and positive, forward thinking thoughts are so important.  You CAN do this!

Finally, I promised to share my favorite Paleo zucchini muffin recipe!  I love this recipe! It could seriously fool anyone at your holiday table – gluten free or not!  They are so light, fluffy, and perfectly sweet!  If you’ve never heard of Danielle Walker and her series “Against All Grain” you should definitely check her out!  She has amazing Paleo recipes of all kinds.  Her recipes are my favorite Paleo recipes of all!  You can make this zucchini bread recipe in bread pans or as muffins!  My mom and I both think that making it in a mini bread loaf pan works better than trying to do it in a bigger loaf pan.  But, the muffins always turn out great!  You can find the recipe here.

Since Dress Well, Be Well is more than just a fashion site, I couldn’t cover the Black Friday & Cyber Monday deals without doing a post about my favorite Amazon wellness finds!  So many of these items we use everyday.  They are all things that help me to cook healthy meals, or keep my wellness goals in check!  They would make great gifts, too!

  1. The Instant Pot – I am a huge fan of the Instant Pot!  It helps me so much!  I can make soups, roasts, delicious sweet potatoes, steamed broccoli, stews, spaghetti squash, desserts, and so much more in a matter of minutes! What usually takes over an hour or more in the oven or slow cooker, you can do so much faster!  If making healthy meals in a pinch is important to you, you’ll want to have one of these in your kitchen arsenal!  You’ll also want to have these accessories for your pot so that  you can cook a wide array of things, including an egg basket for hard-boiled eggs, the steamer basket for vegetables, seafood, and other recipes, as well as a circular pan for desserts and pot pies!  I’ve listed a few of my favorite Instant Pot Cookbooks as well 🙂

2. The Vitamix – I finally invested in a Vitamix this past summer and I’m soooo glad I did!  It’s awesome.  It would be an incredible gift for the health nut or chef in your family!  I got mine because my normal blender wasn’t cutting it.  I couldn’t get it to blend frozen fruit for my smoothies very well, it wouldn’t blend nuts to make vegan cheese without a ton of water added to it.  I was using a food processor AND my blender and neither one was working as well as I’d like and they were both taking up so much counter space!  I love the Vitamix because it blends everything so smoothly!  It makes my morning protein shakes have a fluffy, soft-serve-like consistency to it, and I can use it as a food processor to chop foods and blend nuts to make nut butters and vegan cheeses!  It does so many other amazing things, too!  I have the first model linked below.  If you click on the photo and scroll down you can see that it will compare the models and what all they do.  Here are some of the best ones out there at the best prices! I’ve also linked my favorite protein powders for my morning shakes 🙂

3)  Ionic Foot Bath – I got an ionic foot bath a few years ago when I was going through treatment for Lyme disease.  I was doing everything possible to detox, and I found a local spa that had this ionic detox foot bath.  After using it, I noticed that I was sleeping better, my joints hurt a little less, and I had some more energy.  I was going pretty often, though, so the cost was adding up.  I decided to invest in one for my home to save myself time and money.  The ionic detox foot baths are great for detoxing your body from things like heavy metals, yeast, mold, other fungi and mucus, toxic chemicals, and helps detox organs like your kidneys, liver, gallbladder, and systems like the urinary tract and reproductive system.  It’s really neat.  You’ll notice when you first start using it that the water is full of all kinds of substances and the more you you use it, the less murky the water becomes!  It’s great for detoxing for everyone, not just Lyme patients.  If you have any kind of chronic condition, it would be particularly helpful.  Always make sure to take supplements to replace minerals that can be lost after detoxing, though.  I’ve linked what I use below.  I have the Ionize Me that is listed first.  This is the newer version. The second one I linked is also good.

4) The Amazon Echo – I can’t imagine life without Alexa anymore, haha! (Alexa is the name of the voice who speaks to you through the Echo, similar to Siri, but it’s Amazon’s version of Siri).  If you don’t have one of these I would highly recommend getting one, and it would make an awesome gift!  I actually got it for Ryan a few years ago and I use it more than he does!  It’s an essential for anyone working in the kitchen.  You can ask Alexa for weather updates, to play any kind of music you like, radio stations centered around a particular artist or genre, albums, songs by a certain artist, podcasts, audiobooks and more!  She knows a lot of answers to all kinds of questions!  I can ask Alexa how to convert measurements, set a timer, and ask for substitutes for things!  She can also create lists for grocery shopping, things you need on Amazon, and can be activated as a hub for your smart devices. You can also get the Echo Dots to put in other locations in your home, but the Echo acts as the hub for all of them.  Not a day goes by that I don’t have interaction with Alexa, especially when I’m cooking up healthy meals in the kitchen!

5) The Air Fryer – I actually don’t have one of these, but I really, really want one (hint hint for any of my family reading this 😉 hahaha!  It is definitely on my Christmas Wish List this year!  I’ve had chicken wings, fries, and chips made with an air fryer before and they were delicious!  You don’t need any oil at all to make your food taste like your favorite fried comforts!  So, if you’re trying to be more plant based, and cut out extra fat and oil, this is a must have!  It sits right on your counter top. You can make your own healthy veggie chips!  How cool is that?  Here is Amazon’s choice and the Best Selling Air Fryer on Amazon 🙂

6) Cookbooks – There are so many great cookbooks on Amazon!  There’s really something for everyone!  I have a lot of Paleo cookbooks and a lot of vegan and plant-based ones, too.  I have recently been more into plant-based eating than I was in years before, but that’s a major change.  So, I wanted to get some good books to help guide me.  I still eat Paleo a lot of the time, but I try to only eat meat of any kind a few times a week.  All of these books below have amazing recipes no matter what diet you align yourself with!  They also make amazing gifts for the health conscious and chefs in your family!


7) The Infra-red Heating Pad – I did an entire blog post on the Infra-red Heating Pad which you can read here.  It will tell you all about the benefits of the Infra-red heating pad!  To sum it up in short, the Infra-red heating pad goes much deeper than your standard electric heating pad, it’s effects last longer, and it doesn’t expose you to harmful EMFs.  I’ve had so much more pain relief for all kinds of chronic pain conditions from an infra-red heating pad than I ever did from an electric one or a hot water bottle.  Be sure to check out that blog post to read about all of the differences and benefits on the Infra-red heating pads.  You can find all sizes and shapes for whatever your need is.  I have the large size (the third one listed) for my whole back as well as the small size (the first one) for things like menstrual cramps and interstitial cystitis, and I’m hoping to get one of the neck ones as well for Christmas!

I hope you find some great deals this Cyber Monday!  These are definitely my must-haves from Amazon.  All of them have helped me along my wellness journey in some way. Let me know in the comments below if you have any questions on these at all!  Happy bargain hunting! 🙂

The holidays are rough on anyone’s diet, but particularly if you have to watch what you’re eating for your serious health condition!  Most of us on AIP, Paleo, or Low FODMAP, etc are doing it because we want to improve our inflammatory conditions.  The weight loss is just an added bonus!  But, sticking to your diet when everyone else is eating mom’s famous, traditional cheese potatoes is a lot harder than one might think!  There are so many temptations around every corner at the holidays from work treats, parties, gifts of food, and holiday dinners, it’s hard not to give in, even “just a little”.  But, as we all know, giving in “just a little” often times leads to A LOT.  So, I’ve compiled a list of my best tips for staying on track throughout the holiday season!

  1. PLAN AHEAD – Never go to a party not knowing what you are going to eat.  It doesn’t matter if it’s just a cocktail party or a full on dinner party – don’t go in without a plan!  Talk to the host if it’s not at your house.  See what they are providing and figure out if there is something that you can eat or not.
  2. BRING YOUR OWN DISH (or more) – Anymore, I just bring my own food most places that we go!  I know that I will enjoy myself more if I have foods I get to enjoy while everyone else is, too.  It makes me feel a lot less deprived and left out.  I always make my own side dishes for myself (and my mom who is also gluten an dairy free) for every holiday dinner!  If I know there will be turkey, then I bring some brussel sprout salad, mashed sweet potatoes, paleo-approved cranberry sauce, paleo breads, and my own paleo pumpkin pie!  I enjoy the day just much as I used to and I don’t have the digestive issues or weight gain afterward, and that’s a beautiful thing!  I make enough to share, and others like it, too!
  3. FIND WAYS TO MAKE YOUR FAVORITE FOODS PALEO APPROVED – This is huge!  Just because you are now gluten, dairy, grain, and sugar free, doesn’t mean you can’t eat the foods you love!  I can’t imagine a Thanksgiving without pumpkin pie, can you?!  That’s why I searched Pinterest years ago to find my favorite healthy dishes to make the holidays more enjoyable.  Now 4 years later, they are my traditions and I still love them, if not more!  You can find recipes for all kinds of things like cauliflower “mashed potatoes”, sweet potato casserole, green bean casserole, dinner rolls, pumpkin bread, zucchini bread, and pumpkin pie!  Get out there and search for the things you love and put some effort into making them.  You will thank yourself at the dinner table later.  The holidays will feel a lot more enjoyable and a lot less isolating if you have those festive, comfort foods that you love and can eat.
  4. DON’T OVER DO IT ON ALCOHOL – The worst thing you can do to yourself is overdo it on alcohol when you are trying to stick to a diet.  Trust me.  Haha!  Anytime that I have ever come close to completely blowing the diet, it has been because I had a little too much wine.  When you’re on AIP you’re not supposed to drink anyway, but I’ve been Paleo for many years, and while I didn’t drink until I was in remission, I do indulge in a glass of wine, or clear liquor with club soda now and then on special occasions.  That being said, if you drink too much you tend to lose some inhibition and over indulge in things you shouldn’t.  I always crave chocolate for some reason!  But, if you keep it to a minimum that’s not likely to happen.  Keep yourself in check.
  5. MAKE CROCKPOT RECIPES – Crockpot recipes are a great way to easily throw together some of your favorite dishes for a crowd of people.  I’ve made balsamic roast beef, chicken pot pie soup, and spaghetti squash and meatballs all for Christmas Eve or other holiday parties and everyone loved them!  They don’t take a lot of time and you can put them together in the morning or even cook them overnight.  It takes time and stress off your plate and you still have a delicious, nutritious meal to look forward to!
  6. ASK FOR HELP – If you are struggling to get everything done and cook your meals, find a family member or good friend who would help you, or even a company!  I’ve enlisted the help of friends before who love to cook.  My mom also is a huge help.  Find some recipes that you like that aren’t too difficult and see if they’d be willing to help you get through the holiday transition on your new diet.  I’ve also used a local company that specializes in healthy foods and can make things to your dietary needs.  If you’re in the Pittsburgh area, be sure to check out Green Light Meals.  They’ve done an entire Thanksgiving dinner for us before!
  7. FILL UP ON VEGGIES – Make sure that your plate isn’t just all meat.  If you can eat a lot of veggies you’ll feel fuller and more satisfied making you less likely to crave and go after the sweet stuff.  Plus, you’ll get the nutrients your body needs, too!
  8. GET ENOUGH SLEEP – When I get sleep deprived, I’m less focused.  When I lose focus, I tend to let things go.  Sometimes that is my nutrition.  I’ll start eating random things for breakfast because I’m too tired to make what I should and then my whole day is thrown off and I’ve eaten almond bread with almond butter all day long.  Sure, that’s technically Paleo, but it’s not a nutrient dense day of eating.  Make sure you get yourself rest in between all of the chaos.
  9. MAKE FOOD AHEAD AND FREEZE IT – If you know your holidays are going to be busy every single day for a stretch and you know it’s going to be hard to find the time to cook, think ahead and freeze some things!  I’ve done this with meatballs and soup for Christmas Eve, pumpkin and zucchini breads, and even cookies!  They defrost well and no one will ever know the difference!
  10. DON’T GO DOWN A RABBIT HOLE – If you happen to slip up and eat something you shouldn’t, don’t give in to that voice in your head that says, “well, you already messed up, might as well just let yourself go now”.  Eating one sugar-filled cookie is a lot different than eating a dozen!  I’ve made the mistake of buying gluten and dairy free cookies with cane sugar before, thinking I would eat just one and then I ended up eating way more over the course of a week after promising myself I’d get back on track the next day!  Sugar is so addictive even after you’ve cut it out for a long period of time.  I majorly suffered from gastro problems after my Christmas cookie binge for weeks.  It wasn’t worth it!  I would never do that again.  I thought I could handle it, but I definitely could not and it set me back and made me worse.  So, don’t give in to that voice.  Stay strong, believe in yourself, know that you CAN have control over temptations and show them who’s boss!

I hope these tips are helpful to you, whether you are new to AIP and Paleo or are a long-time veteran like myself.  Navigating the holidays can be tricky and stressful, but if you keep your health goals in mind, plan ahead and are prepared, you can get through it and stick to it!  And let me tell you, it feels SO GOOD when you do!  You’ll feel like you have finished a marathon and your body will thank you, too!  We can do pretty amazing things when we really focus and set our minds to it.  If I can be of any help to you, please don’t hesitate to reach out!  I hope you have an awesome holiday season 🙂

*Notice above that I have linked some of my favorite holiday recipes, including this pumpkin pie!

Being on an anti-inflammatory diet for health reasons, or just wanting to eat clean to stay healthy, doesn’t mean that you can’t enjoy some dessert, too!  I’ve been to many a holiday gatherings where I’ve felt like everyone gets to indulge and I’m left to the dried out carrots on the mediocre veggie tray.  You know which ones I’m talking about!  When they’re all white and cracked after having sat our for several hours.  NOT APPETIZING.  So, over the years I’ve learned that if you want to enjoy the party like everyone else, you gotta bring your own desserts!  Trust me, you’ll feel much more satisfied at the end of the meal when you have your own treat to indulge in, too.  Plus, you get to show everyone at the party how eating healthy doesn’t mean you deprive yourself of delicious indulgences!  You’re setting an example and hopefully inspiring others to change their eating habits, too.

These 4 Ingredient Pecan Pie bites are my current favorite!  (Shout out to one of my bffs, Valerie, for the inspiration when she so kindly brought something similar to my house for a party!  So thoughtful!) They are vegan, gluten free, dairy free, grain free, sugar free, whole30, and paleo! They are so simple to make and seriously taste so ooey-gooey, you won’t even miss the pie!  Plus, the ingredients are chock full of health benefits.  Dates  and pecans contain vital minerals like maganese, copper, potassium, iron, and calcium!  They’re also rich Vitamin A, B, &  E.  Both dates and pecans have lots of fiber, anti-inflammatory properties, and dates can help fight infections.  They both contain a high amount of anti-oxidants that help reduce inflammation in the body, making them great choices for people suffering from autoimmune or other chronic illnesses.  They’re heart healthy, too!  Coconut oil is also a heart healthy fat, known to raise the good HDL cholesterol.  It is great brain food, helps to increase metabolism, and heal damaged tissues and organs!  So really, this “dessert” is more like a powerful healing agent.  No guilt here! 🙂  I seriously eat like 6 at time and feel good about it, lol.

Now, here’s the how to:

Ingredients:

  • 1 Pkg Organic Pitted Medjool Dates – I find a great little container at Whole Foods in the refrigerated, pre-cut fruit section
  • 1 7oz container of Organic Pecans
  • Organic Virgin Coconut Oil
  • Organic Pumpkin Pie Spice

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Place desired amount of dates you want to make on a cookie tray.  Slice them open on one side so you can stuff them.
  3. Add a tiny amount of coconut oil inside of each opened date.  No more than 1/8 of a tsp.  (You can also omit the oil for a plant-based treat! and it tastes just as delicious, just not as gooey)
  4. Sprinkle Pumpkin Pie spice over the dates.
  5. Smash up your pecans with a meat tenderizer.  Depending upon how many dates you are using you can decide how many pecans you need.  If it is a smaller batch you definitely won’t need the whole container.
  6. Stuff the dates with the pecans.
  7. Sprinkle a little more Pumpkin Pie Spice over the dates.
  8. Close the dates up.
  9. Bake in oven for 5 minutes.
  10. Cool for a few minutes, and enjoy!  These taste great when completely, cooled, too!  (I actually eat them raw, too and they’re so delicious that way as well!)

These are a great treat to take to any fall, Thanksgiving, or Christmas party!  Everyone, whether they’re a clean eater or not will love them.  Let me know what you think if you make them!  Enjoy 🙂

4 Ingredient Pecan Pie Bites GF, DF, SF, Vegan, Paleo, Whole30

 

 

Hey, my lovely friends!  I’m excited to share about the Autoimmune Paleo Diet, aka Autoimmune Protocol with you!  As you may have read in my previous posts, I did this diet years ago when I was in the thick of my battle with Autoimmune Hepatitis.  Autoimmune hepatitis is in fact not a viral form of hepatitis.  It is when there is chronic inflammation of the liver caused by antibodies made by your body that attack the liver cells.  It can happen to other tissues and organs of the body, like the thyroid (Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis), the joints (rheumatoid arthritis), etc.  I was in desperate need to decrease the inflammation in my body and to start to heal my gut, where all disease begins!    So, I researched and scoured the internet and found the AIP diet!  I printed out all of the info, and I took it to my gastroenterologist.  He basically handed it right back to me and told me it was a bunch of horse$#!%.  No joke!  He said, “sure if you want to go buy the most expensive cuts of meat, knock yourself out but it’s not going to cure your problem!”  I left that meeting pretty discouraged about it and I didn’t start the diet.  I waited a whole year and a half until that same doctor told me that his protocol (the one I had been on for 6 years) was not working, and was not ever going to work.  He said I would need a liver transplant if the next set of drugs (the side effects of which included cancer) didn’t work.  Well, that set of drugs didn’t work, thank God!  I then went back to my thoughts on alternative treatment options because I did not want to be getting a transplant at that young of an age (or ever!).  Life after a transplant is not what you might think for many people!  So, I decided before we went that route, I was going to give the alternative methods a try, and guess what?!  They WORKED!  I started the AIP diet in combination with an all natural supplement protocol that I found in a book by my now dear friend and mentor, Denise Otten.  The book is called, “Curing Courtney” and you should definitely read it!  It’s a heartwarming tale of a mother’s mission to heal her daughter from this life-threatening autoimmune disease after the medical treatments did not work for her.  She followed the protocol by Dr. Burt Berkson.  These books are linked at the end of this post.  I was in remission from this protocol and the diet within 6 months!  I couldn’t believe it! Six years of drugs and weakening my immune system, pumping me with steroids, the horrific weight gain, the insomnia, depression, acne, severe mood swings, uncontrollable stress and frustration, increased hunger and irritability, all could have been avoided if I’d known about this diet and supplement protocol.  It speaks to how important it is that we fully research ALL of our options before we start long-term medical treatments.  We don’t realize how damaging pharmaceutical drugs can be to our bodies over longer periods of time.  We are taught to just trust whatever our doctors tell us and that they certainly have our best interest in mind.  I’m sure most of them think that they do.  But they never see the other side of what these drugs can do to our systems, because, when the side effects take hold and we start having OTHER problems they just send us over to the other specialists who deals with that problem.  For me, the steroids caused a lot of anxiety and insomnia.  So, what did they do?  Just sent me over to the psychiatrist for some sleeping meds (which are addicting – and thankfully I didn’t follow through on it)!  And, “Oh, you’re gaining weight?  Go see the dietitian!” (who put me on expensive weight loss shakes that were 100 calories each.  I got one meal a day of protein and vegetables and 2 shakes.  Does that sound like enough nourishment for someone with a serious illness to fight?!)  Anyway, my point is, you gottta consider your options before you just accept everything you’re given from the medical world.  Do your research, join Facebook groups for whatever it is you’ve been diagnosed with.  Talk to THE PATIENTS!  That’s where you find the best and most information!  Join groups for the drugs you have been prescribed.  Find out what the patients are experiencing while on them and ask about their success with alternative treatments.  Research, research, research!  I can’t say it enough!  It is your best tool to your best health!  You have to take your health into your own hands.  You are your best advocate and the person who you can trust the most!

So, now for a little information about the AIP diet…  First of all, know that the AIP diet is not only for autoimmune disease.  It works for all kinds of chronic inflammatory diseases. The entire goal of the Autoimmune Paleo Diet is to reduce inflammation in your body, particularly in the gut!  Our mission here is to heal the gut mucosa.  We do this by eliminating foods that trigger immune responses in the gut. Some of these foods you might think are completely healthy and wonder “why would that be causing me inflammation?!”

FOODS ON THE NO LIST: Tomatoes, peppers, potatoes, legumes, wheat, dairy, sugar, gluten and other grains of any kind, quinoa, nuts, eggs, seeds, dried herbs from seeds like mustard, alcohol, chocolate (I know, WHHHYYY!!??? Chocolate is always on my no lists!! 🙁 ), coffee and black teas, artificial sweeteners like Splenda and aspartame, sodas including diet, and any processed oils like Canola oil or processed foods like cookies, crackers, lunch meats, canned soups, etc.  You’ll want to stick to the produce aisles, meat and fish department, and frozen vegetables without any preservatives.

Why??  Because all of these foods are triggers for inflammation.  While some of these things have very healthy components, for someone with an autoimmune disease they can trigger the immune system and cause more inflammation.  So, we eliminate these foods for a period of time to calm the inflammation in the body.  I eliminated all of these foods for 6 months until I saw that my liver enzymes were back down into the normal range.  That meant that the inflammation in my liver was no longer active.  Then, I slowly added back in some of the foods so that I was on the “regular Paleo Diet”.  The regular Paleo Diet allows you to add back in nightshades (tomatoes, peppers, eggplant), eggs, nuts, seeds, and chocolate (but very clean, cacao only! Do not worry though, there are many amazing chocolate brands out there that are Paleo approved!).  You might not think that adding these few foods back into your life would make a big difference, but it really does!  I feel like I can enjoy a lot of food now. I have remained on the Paleo Diet for years, with bouts of veganism and plant based eating.  I have to adjust my diet accordingly to what’s currently going on in my body and my symptoms.  But, I never eat gluten, dairy, or sugar.  Grains and legumes are still hard for me to digest much of the time, but I try sometimes – always sprouted!

FOODS ON THE YES LIST: (I highly recommend focusing your mind only on the things that you can have.  If you are constantly complaining and longing for things you can’t have, you will never be satisfied with the things that you DO have!  I think this applies in all areas of life! 🙂 )  Fruits, coconut products like coconut butter, flour, and aminos (which taste similar to soy sauce and can be used in place of it in recipes!) vegetables, fermented foods, such as homemade coconut yogurt, kombucha, fermented vegetables, and non-dairy kefir, herbal teas, honey and maple syrup, vinegars, grass fed meat, organic poultry, wild caught fish, organic organ meat (I didn’t do this actually, but the organ meat is loaded with nutrients!), bacon without ANY preservatives (so your conventional brands of bacon and lunch meats are a NO), and unprocessed oils such as coconut oil, extra-virgin olive oil, avocado oil, as well as cultured ghee, which is like butter without the lactose.  Always choose organic whenever possible.  I know it is hard to find sometimes and also expensive.  But, your body needs to be free from as many toxins as possible.  Toxins from pesticides can REALLY affect you and your immune system!  If you can’t buy organic, at least buy an organic wash and scrub them well.  Check out this guide to help you decide which foods are most important to buy organic.

You’d be surprised at the things that you can still eat and how satisfying it is, especially when you try out some of the recipes.  I will try to post several over the coming weeks.

The AIP diet is incredibly nutrient dense!  When you eat a variety of all of these foods you are getting so many crucial vitamins and minerals that your sick body so desperately needs!  When you have an autoimmune disease you are most definitely nutrient deficient.  By eating these highly nutrient dense foods, you will feed yourself the nutrition that will help to heal your organs, tissues, and systems in your body to help bring everything back towards balance.

One person whom I respect so much in the Paleo community is Dr. Sarah Ballantyne, PhD.  She wrote the books “The Paleo Approach” and “The Paleo Approach Cookbook”.  Both of these books are where I send everyone who asks to to learn about the AIP Diet.  I personally love “The Paleo Approach Cookbook” because I feel that it really explains everything you need to know about the diet and provides recipes as well!  Sarah is an excellent person to follow on social media if you are interested in the diet, too, because she is always posting new and relevant information.  She goes by the name “The Paleo Mom”.  I will link her books and some of my other favorite AIP recipe books at the end of this post!

Now, you may be thinking, there is absolutely NO WAY that I can possibly eliminate all of these foods from my diet!  I get it.  I was there, too.  It was one of the most challenging things I had ever done at that time in my life.  But, honestly, it took about four weeks to get past all of the cravings (the first 2 were by far the worst), and then it was smooth sailing from there!  I was loving the way I felt, the energy I had, the WEIGHT I lost!  I lost 20 lbs in the first 3 weeks, and 60 lbs total in six months.  It was fast!  Taking sugar, dairy, and alcohol out were huge game changers for me!

My TOP TEN TIPS for starting out on this diet are to:

  1.  Always be prepared for meals and snacks or else you will cave!  Make a trip to the store every week with a list of your planned out meals and ideas for snacks.  STICK TO THAT PLAN.
  2. Pre-make homemade crackers, cookies, and dips for when you get cravings!  This was such a lifesaver for me!  You know those sugar cravings that are so uncontrollable you think you might go crazy and eat an entire cake??  Yeah, those happen the first couple weeks on this diet and you MUST be prepared!  I love these Plantain Crackers, these AIP Sugar Cookies, and these Coconut Cookies!
  3. Use Pinterest and cookbooks to find great, easy, recipes.  When you’re sick you don’t want to be doing recipes that are too involved and can tire you out.  I look for recipes with fewer ingredients that take less prep time.  Find AIP recipe alternatives for your favorite foods like pizza, tacos, and burgers!  They do exist!  And, they’re GOOD!
  4. Try to think about food differently.  Instead of thinking about satisfying cravings, or what you can’t have, focus on what that food is doing for you nutritionally.  What nutrients is it feeding your body?  What do those nutrients do to help you heal?  Concentrate on the positive aspects of the food you CAN eat.
  5. Make a big pot of soup at the beginning of every week and eat it for lunch (or breakfast! I did this!) every day!  It simplifies your daily cooking so you can just make one big meal like dinner, and not have to spend ALL day in the kitchen.  My favorite soup of all-time is an AIP soup!  I make it all the time even when I don’t need to be AIP.  I make it for other people when they’re sick or when someone in their family died.  I’ve even made it for Christmas Eve parties!  Everyone loves it, and it’s incredibly comforting. It’s called Chicken Pot Pie Soup.  You can make it in the crockpot!
  6. Invest in a crockpot and an Instant Pot!  I did not have an Instant Pot when I first did AIP.  But, it would have been a lifesaver if I did!  It cuts down on cooking time so much!  You’re probably going to eat a lot of sweet potatoes and spaghetti squash, and instead of waiting an hour for them to cook, they’re done in minutes in the Instant Pot!  The crockpot is great for slow cooking roasts and soups overnight, too!  You can also do large amounts of bone broth in the crockpot, which is very healing as well!
  7. Get your family on board!  You will need support.  Ask them to please respect your new eating habits and not try to tempt you with the typical fare at family functions.  You need to explain to them how important it is that you stay on track for your health.  A bite of something off the diet here and there WILL make a difference, so don’t give in and don’t let others tempt you.  Ask your spouse and children to not keep cookies and chips and things that you used to love in the house anymore.  Or at least ask them to hide it and not eat it in front of you.  The first few weeks are the hardest, so the cravings won’t last forever, but it is helpful to not have those temptations in your face in the beginning.  (I can now look at all kinds of desserts and admire them but not feel the urge to eat them at all!  It does go away!)
  8. Eat before you go to parties, or at least bring your own food!  You can make a veggie tray with an AIP approved dip for yourself, some AIP approved chicken bites on a skewer with veggies, there are still lots of little appetizers and snacks you can make for parties.  Life isn’t actually over 🙂
  9. Look at restaurant menus before you go.  I like to use the app YELP to search for gluten free restaurants, or paleo friendly restaurants.  Don’t be afraid to ask for things specially made.  I always do and they always accommodate.  Even if the waiter is rude, don’t let that bother you too much.  They probably have no idea what life is like for you and it’s only a lack of understanding and empathy.  It’s amazing how much more compassionate you’ll become on this wellness journey!
  10. Drink lots of water with lemon!  Not only will this help curb your cravings for food, but it’s great for cleansing your body, too!  It will help flush out other toxins that can be contributing to your inflammation!  I used to carry around thermoses of water with lemon or sparkling mineral water with lemon.  I couldn’t have made it through without it!

I hope that this is helpful to you!  Please know that I am only a message, email, or comment away and would be more than happy to answer any questions or concerns that you might have.  I was so thrilled with how changing my diet from the standard american diet (SAD) to AIP helped me so much!  I would love to see it help you or a loved one.  Have you tried the AIP diet before?  If so, please leave a comment.  I would be so excited to hear how it helped you!

Now, since it’s fall, I am going to leave you with an easy AIP Turkey Pumpkin “Chili” Recipe!

AIP TURKEY PUMPKIN CHILI

  • 1 lb organic ground turkey
  • 2 1/2 cups organic AIP approved Beef Broth or Beef Bone Broth (check the label to make sure there are no unapproved ingredients)
  • 1 15oz can of organic pureed pumpkin
  • 1 chopped organic zucchini
  • 2 TBS Braggs Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 1 16oz bag organic frozen butternut squash
  • 2 cups (or more) organic frozen cut green beans
  • 1 10oz bag organic frozen beets
  • 1 dried organic bay leaf
  • 6 garlic cloves, minced (I use a garlic press and it is amazing! Linked below)
  • 3/4 tsp organic ground cinnamon
  • 2 tsp pink Himalayan salt
  • a couple sprinkles of organic ground nutmeg
  • 2 tsp organic dried oregano
  • 1 tsp organic ground sage
  • If you aren’t AIP, and want to make this a Paleo chili, you can add 2 chopped red peppers and a chili pepper to add some spice, as well as 1/2 tsp of All-spice.  You can also add 1 BPA-free can of organic diced tomatoes.  You will want to decrease the amount of broth (at least by half) if you add the tomatoes.
  • Feel free to replace some veggies with other veggies.  I often use frozen cauliflower instead of beans, or I add frozen chopped carrots in.  If you don’t like beets, try radishes instead! You don’t have to use frozen vegetables.  You can definitely use fresh!  I just like to save myself some time and energy.  You can definitely be creative and flexible with this recipe!  It tastes even better the day after when all of the flavors have mixed together 🙂

My little helper, Barkley!  He’s my 2 year old mini Goldendoodle baby!! 😀

To make:

  1.  Turn your stovetop burner to medium-high heat.  Add ground turkey to a big pot or dutch oven and cook until no longer pink. Turn the heat to low.
  2. Add the broth and pureed pumpkin, and stir.
  3. Add the rest of the ingredients and stir.  Turn the heat back up to medium-high and bring it to a boil, while occasionally stirring.  Then turn the heat back down to low, cover the pot and let it simmer for 20 minutes.
  4. Enjoy!  I love to bake or steam  sweet potatoes (steam in the instantpot in 25 minutes!) and serve this over top! 🙂

Please let me know how you like the AIP chili! It is not quite the same as usual chili, so it might take a little getting used to.  I hope that you enjoy it and it brings you some warmth and healing 🙂

Processed with VSCO with preset

In all of my years of dealing with chronic illness, I’ve spent a lot of time researching and scouring the internet for answers, anything that might possibly help me, and ways to improve my immune system and overall health.  I’ve learned so much from so many amazing doctors and practitioners both in the field and through their research and books they’ve written.  A lot of you have been asking about supplements to take, and things that might help with your energy.  There are so many different things that effect our energy and health, it’s hard to know where to begin.  But, two major players in our energy levels and keeping us healthy are Vitamin Bs and Zinc!

Vitamin B comes in 8 different forms!  Each form has it’s own unique set of functions it performs.  In order to get our daily needs of B vitamins, we have to either eat them in our diet, or supplement with them, because they are water soluble.  Most of us are deficient in these important vitamins.  Vitamin Bs are responsible for things like converting the food we eat into energy, metabolizing food, repairing and producing our DNA, producing and red and white blood cells, creating neurotransmitters, and proper neurological function.  One of the most common Vitamin B deficiencies is B12.  If you notice that you have symptoms of chronic fatigue, memory loss, digestive disorders, depression or other mood stabilization problems, anxiety and panic attacks, and are feeling tired all of the time, you probably have a B12 deficiency, which means you probably have adrenal fatigue and hormonal imbalance happening as well.  It is vital to have adequate levels of B12 to properly address all of these issues.  I notice that when my Vitamin B levels are low I have much less energy, I struggle remembering words, I feel like my hormones are all over the place, I have severe anxiety, and I struggle a lot with sleep.  So, staying on top of Vitamin B supplementation has been crucial for me!

Zinc is a really great supplement to add into your routine to keep your immune system functioning at optimal levels!  It helps your body to fight off pathogens and recover from illness. You may have heard of taking it when you have a common cold to help speed up the healing process.  But, it has other benefits as well that can make supplementing with it a good idea.   It also acts an anti-inflammatory helping fight chronic conditions such as autoimmune disease, high blood pressure and cancer.  It’s very beneficial to the liver as well, as it helps to flush out toxins!  If you have autoimmune disease, Lyme disease, chronic viral (like the mono virus) or other infections like I have had, I would definitely add this to your arsenal of supplements!  It also helps with muscle growth and repair, so it’s great for those of you who work out a lot.  It’s known to help balance hormones, increase fertility, and even help with PMS!  I’ve noticed since I’ve started consistently having it in my regimen that my periods have been less painful!  So, I’m sold! HAHA.  Anything that reduces that pain for me and I am IN!  Am I right, ladies?!

My doctor recommended that I use this Vitamin B patch by Nutri-Patch to get all of the 8 different kinds of Vitamin B. I like it because it is one less pill I have to take and it’s working for me all day, going directly into the bloodstream instead of through my gut where I seem to have problems absorbing it.  It also has methylated forms of B vitamins, so if you have a liver gene mutation (MTHFR), your body can better absorb it.  However, I came across some really interesting information from Anthony Williams, aka, the Medical Medium about the two essential kinds of B12 that we have to get in order to get the full benefit of B12, which are methylcobalamin and adenosylcobalamin.  He says that most B12 supplements and shots do not have both forms of it, so we need to look for ones that do.  He recommends this Vegan Safe B12 liquid.  I like the liquids because they are more easily and quickly absorbed.  Something else that’s great to learn from The Medical Medium is to look for supplements that do not have toxic ingredients in them like citric acid, alcohol, “natural flavoring”, and titanium dioxide.  This Vegan Safe B12 is really clean, doesn’t taste bad, and I use it in addition to the patch.

I also use a liquid zinc recommended by the Medical Medium.  It’s called Liquid Ionic Zinc.  If you have never heard of the Medical Medium before, I would highly recommend looking into his books.  Regardless of the source of his information and what you might think of it, I have found it all to be highly compelling!  While some of it isn’t new, a lot of it is and/or is a different perspective than what we currently hear from practically every practitioner out there.  I like to challenge the way that we all think and believe things to be true and really test the waters myself.  So many times we just take things as truth without actually investigating on our own.  I’ve done his 28 day cleanses and although I kind of suffered through them, by the end of it all, I did have positive results.  I was struggling with a lot of things at the time, so it was hard to see at times, but some things did get better, and I definitely detoxed A LOT which is a huge deal when you’re sick and dealing with a lot of pathogens and toxicity in your body.  I’ve also found his theory about the mono virus to ring very true for me and others that I know.  It’s definitely something to check out if you’re struggling with ANY kind of health condition!

As always, it’s a good idea to see your naturopath, functional medicine doctor, integrative medicine doctor, or general practitioner (if they will run these kinds of tests for you, many will not) to test for nutritional deficiencies like Vitamin Bs and Zinc.

I’ve linked these supplements below and the Medical Medium’s books for you to look into.  What are your favorite supplements that help you?  Do you have any great book recommendations?  I’d love to hear about them!  Comment below 🙂

If you suffer from chronic pain in your muscles, joints, tendons, nerves, tissues, organs, etc…  I’m about to introduce to you your new best friend – the far infrared heating pad!  It works so well for me for relief from deep muscle pains and injuries, chronic lower and upper back pain, menstrual cramps and cysts, joint pain, arthritis, bladder pain from interstitial cystitis, neck and shoulder pain, liver and gallbladder dysfunction, tendonitis, any kind of nerve pain, and more.

I honestly had no idea what I was getting exactly when I purchased this item.  As someone who suffers with chronic Lyme disease, I listen pretty closely to what Dr. Jay Davidson says to do.  He has a new book out recently called, “How to Fix Lyme Disease”.  If you have Lyme and you have not read this book, I HIGHLY recommend that you do!  Dr. Jay is on top of the game in the Lyme Disease world!  He has first hand experience with it as his wife was gravely ill with it for years.  He has some new and interesting information and products to offer in that book.  He talks a lot about infrared heating pads.  So, naturally, I followed his suggestion and ordered one for myself.  Here are a few reasons why you need an infrared heating pad, and why it’s different from your typical heating pad or hot water bottle.

First, the far infrared heating pad can penetrate much deeper into your body than a standard electric heating pad!  The electric heating pads that most of us have (myself included until about a year ago), omit electric heat from cotton and carbon fibers.  This kind of heat can only penetrate 2-3mm deep.  So essentially, it’s really only heating the skin that’s on top of all of the things inside of you that are causing pain.  The far infrared heating pads use jade, amythest, and tourmaline stones to convert light energy into infrared heat energy which reaches much deeper at up to 5 cm below the surface!  So this kind of heat is really getting down into your muscles, tissues, and bones.  Also, infrared heating pads will never leave burns or rashes on your skin like electrical ones and hot water bottles can.

I can absolutely feel the difference between these two.  When I have pain and I turn this infrared heating pad on, it takes much less time for the pain to ease and often dissolve, and I can feel that it reaches deeper into areas where I need it.  I have interstitial cystitis and I can feel the heat waves getting deep into my bladder tissues where the pain is intense!  It can relieve some of the worst and deepest pain I have!

Also, the infrared heating pads will help your blood to circulate!  This helps to promote healing, and remove toxins. I also personally think that the infrared heat can help kill infections, I’ve read this in different places before, but it’s been my experience as well. The benefits of the heat from the infrared pads also last up to 6 hours after using it for only 30 minutes, while the electric pads only provide relief while the pad is heated and on you.  I can also attest to this!  When I use this on my bladder area for a half an hour I can take it off and feel much better for quite some time before I need it again.  It helps so much when I have pain at night because I put it on, and then within a half an hour I can take it off and the pain relief lasts through the night.

A few other benefits of the far infrared heating pads worth mentioning are that I have noticed that it provides a major amount of stress relief for me!  When I’m working hard on something or have a lot of stress in my life and I feel frazzled and unable to calm myself down, I put on the heating pad even if I don’t have any significant pain happening, and it definitely relaxes me.  It also helps to calm my dog’s nerves!  He loves it!  Something about the warmth just makes us both release the stress and puts us at ease.  I put it on every night while I’m reading in bed and trying to fall asleep.  It is always helps me to fall asleep faster!

I also use the infrared heating pad to help my liver and gallbladder.  Sometimes when the liver and gallbladder get backed up with bile, I can get pretty sick.  Putting the heating pad on those areas helps those organs to release the bile.  So, I start to feel better faster.  This is one thing Dr. Jay mentions doing in his new book on Lyme Disease, but really, it is beneficial to anyone.

The infrared heating pad also helps to improve your range of motion of muscles and joints that are injured.  Because it helps increase blood flow and circulation to that area, you’ll find you can more easily move around.  It is beneficial for people with arthritis, too!  If you also have pain in your neck and shoulders like so many of us do from sitting at a desk all day, or from Lyme, or other chronic illness, these heating pads work wonders.  I am going to get another that’s just for the neck and shoulders.  You can roll this one up, but I’m sure the neck and shoulder one lays more nicely.

The last thing I’ll touch on about these amazing heating pads, that not many people know, is that they do not omit EMFs, also known as electromagnetic fields.  We probably all know by now that EMFs are very harmful and toxic.  This is the reason why we aren’t supposed to live directly under power lines.  EMFs cause radiation and lead to different kinds of cancers, cause disruption of hormones in our bodies, create sleep and anxiety problems, and so much more.  Far infrared heating pads to not omit EMFs.  They are so safe that they are often used in neonatal units to produce heat to keep infants warm.  They also do not omit any UV rays in case you were wondering.  You are much safer using an infrared heating pad than an electric one!

This heating pad shown here is face up so that I could show you the stones that are attached to it which heat up to produce the infrared heat.  But, when you use it, you will want to put the stone side down on your body over the area which causes you pain.  I have the 15″x19″ size for smaller areas such as the bladder or liver and gallbladder, and I also have the 21″x32″ for full back and body use as well. I am 5’3, so if you are taller, you might consider one of the longer ones.  I use them both equally, honestly.  They serve different purposes.  I like to have the small one for traveling.  They both come with a travel bag, too!  Our cars both have plugs where you can plug them in for long car rides, too, which is great!  They also both have memory remotes that keep your usual desired temperature set, all you have to do is turn it on and click a button and it will heat up to the temperature you like.  It also auto shuts off after a certain period of time that you select to keep it on for.  They are very easy to use, don’t be scared by the remote technology!  It’s very simple and helpful.

I hope that this post brought to light some helpful information if you’re suffering from chronic pain, or pain from working out or injuries.  I would highly recommend these products! I would be lost without them at this point.  I’m like Linus from Peanuts with his blankie, carrying my heating pad around everywhere!  Haha!  No shame, it helps keep me comfortable.  I hope it helps you, too! 🙂

 

I was on the fence over essential oils for a while until I tried them for my Lyme induced joint pain.  I tried EVERTHING natural for joint pain, and even unnatural things, and it seemed like nothing would help!  That was when a fellow wellness advocate really pushed me to try essential oils again.  She is a doTERRA rep so naturally this is the brand I tried, and I’ve used others since that have been pretty successful, too.  For joint pain and other pain caused by inflammation like muscle aches, I layer Peppermint, Marjoram, and Frankincense which is unfortunately not pictured here because I use it so much that I ran out.  That combination really seems to numb the deep aching and helps me to better relax and even sleep!  I also use Peppermint on my temples when I have a headache that won’t quit and it really helps! doTERRA has a great roll-on called PasTense which I also am out of, but it does wonders for headaches as well.

My favorite oils for relaxation are Serenity and Balance.  Serenity really calms me.  I like to put it on my wrists and chest with a carrier oil such as extra avocado oil or coconut oil at night time and take several deep breaths.  Instantly calming!  I also put Serenity in my diffuser at night while I’m reading in bed and falling asleep.  The Balance oil smells amazing!  I use it as perfume and everyone always tells me I smell good, haha!  I thought I might smell like a hippy, but, apparently it doesn’t come across that way to other people’s noses which is great!  My husband loves it.

I like to use OnGuard particularly when I travel!  Airports and public bathrooms make me super nervous because when you have a weak immune system, you can pick up anything and have it ruin your vacation!  I take 2-3 drops under the tongue and wash it down with water for an immune boost!  If you’re in a jam for hand soap, you can also mix it with a carrier oil and you’re good to go!  It can even be used for cleaning!  What are your favorite essential oils to use?  Drop a comment below and share! 🙂

Pin It