Have you seen the documentary Food Choices on Netflix?

I was flipping through Netflix looking for a good documentary to watch and came across Food Choices.  When I read the description and realized it was about a plant based diet I was ready to take notes and tell you all about why it was a ridiculous documentary and how you should just not bother watching it. I am not going to do that though because they actually made some valid points in parts of the film. The opinions expressed in this post are just that, I do not make reference to any studies or papers. I would encourage you to watch the film and make an informed decision about what is best for your health by doing a little research and not doing something because someone, including myself, says so. 

I did find a lot in the movie I didn’t agree with but I was so surprised to find there was some parts of the movie that I actually did agree with. 

The movie starts out with a lot of information about how animal protein is really bad for you. How it will raise your cholesterol, cause diabetes and cancer. Dr. T. Colin Campbell, author of The China Study tells us that the amount of animal protein we eat is the problem. He states that too much will stress the kidneys and the liver. He states all the animals we eat for protein are vegetarians and the movie shows a picture of a cow, chickens and turkeys. 

Not all animals we eat are vegetarians. First of all, the natural diet of chickens and turkeys includes bugs which are “animal” protein and chickens will eat mice and other varmints if given a chance. They are NOT vegetarian. Pigs are not vegetarians either. They eat other animals, they eat just about anything actually. 

The movie claims that protein elevates cholesterol, starts heart disease, increases the production of free radicals and stimulates the production of hormones.   Personally, my diet is pretty high in protein and fat and my most recent (spring 2017) total cholesterol was 167. Read my post on protein and fat to learn more about why these two macronutrients are not villains. Bottom line, protein breaks down in to amino acids which help us make neurotransmitters and are the building blocks of the body. You can get protein from vegetables too, I prefer to get some protein from meat and you should know that it is okay for you to get some protein from meat too. 

The next claim was that we are getting too much saturated fat, calories and sodium from meat. If you are eating a high quality piece of meat, you are not getting too much of any of these things. Again, read my post on fat to learn why saturated fat will not kill you. Also, think about this- how can something like saturated fat which is solid at room temperature or colder go plant itself in our arteries as a solid? Isn’t fat broken down and emulsified by bile in our body? Yes it is. Our body temperature is also 98.6º which would keep that saturated fat in a liquid state keeping it from planting itself in our arteries and clogging them. 

The film goes on to vilify milk and dairy products. They are telling you to get your calcium from oranges but they don’t tell you that you would need about 10 oranges a day to get the recommended amount of calcium for an adult. Calcium is found in many vegetables including leafy greens and you don’t need to eat dairy products to get enough calcium daily. The problem with calcium is not that we aren’t getting enough but that we don’t have the proper co-factors (things in our body needed to help us use the calcium we do get) to digest and assimilate calcium. We need to have good digestion, proper pH within the body, good hormone function, enough water, other minerals and vitamins and fat (helps get calcium in to our cells). 

The film calls dairy liquid meat. “A cocktail of growth hormones engineered for rapid growth”. The campaign for raw milk would, of course, disagree with that statement. Dairy products that are not from grass fed and pastured animals would not be on my list of things to consume but if my body tolerated dairy, I would drink raw milk and consume raw milk products occasionally without worrying about the effects. 

Next on the films list of foods to avoid to be healthy was eggs. Some people consider eggs to be the perfect food. Pasture raised eggs are best. Eggs contain a variety of minerals and vitamins and are a great source of high quality protein and contain a complete protein. All the B vitamins are in eggs and contain more choline than any other food. They are a good source for most of the minerals our body requires including selenium and iodine which are important for thyroid health. According to www.whfoods.com, eggs sho no increased risk of heart attack or stroke and they can help increase your HDL, or good, cholesterol. 

Food Choices is telling us that eggs are too high in cholesterol and they show you some very moving pictures of a chicken developing in the eggshell. They also talk about the feed for chickens being full of Genetically Modified corn and soy and the toxin Roundup. They are not wrong about this if you are not buying eggs from a local farmer. Even then the chicken feed may contain corn and soy. It is cheap feed. As long as they are on pasture and getting most of their diet from bugs, you might have to be okay with a bit of supplemental feed. 

The movie moves on to talk about the high amount of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids needed in our diet. They say a higher Omega 3 amount in our diet leads to Type II Diabetes. I would bet that processed foods and sugar would be a more likely culprit for most of Americans with Type II Diabetes. The studies are out there at your finger tips. 

Meat will give you Erectile Dysfunction says the movie, because it blocks blood vessels. I think we covered that in talking about saturated fat.  

Low carb diets are all the rage and they claim high carb diets don’t cause weight gain. They say the paleo diet is a copy of the Atkins diet and that was written by people who have not published a scientific paper. They claim low carb diets make you sick and are dangerous. They are in agreement that cutting down on sugar and refined carbs would be a good thing. The paleo community is pretty big, just as is the vegan community. Neither diet is the be all end all for everyone. That is what we need to remember. We are bio-individuals. What works for one person will not work for everyone. 

Their next claim is that many people who are plant based are healthy but there are still a lot of vegetarians who are still sick because they are eating junk food or dairy and some fish. I would agree with the filmmakers about eating junk food. They also say that if you have not given up oil as a vegan and are still fat, then the oil is the reason why you are still fat. “Fat you eat is fat you wear” they said. Again, read my post on fat

They claim a whole foods plant based diet is free. You don’t have to pay for any gimmicks or shakes. I would say that if you are just eating real food, it is not free because you have to pay for it, then you are one step ahead of the rest of the world who is looking for that great organic convenience food to buy. 

I agree with them when they say we ought to be 90-95% plant based. Maybe 80% plant based would be more like it. We could all stand to eat more vegetables, including me. I love how I feel when my diet is mostly veggies with a little bit of meat each day. I have lots of energy, I feel clean inside. I have little bloating and my eliminations are just where they should be. 

They are telling you in this movie that you should not believe “The key to good health is moderation”. They say this doesn’t work. I know it doesn’t work for me. I can’t just have one bite of a sweet treat. I want the whole pan. Moderation might work for you. It does for some people and for some it doesn’t. 

Next on the list is blaming the media for making the Paleo diet credible. The problem was that the media “let both sides speak” in regards to the China Study which has hundreds of references and then interviewed someone on the Paleo diet which was little more than a story book.  The Paleo diet has helped thousands of people feel good just as a vegan diet has. A vegan diet doesn’t work for everyone though. A few more notable folks who really struggled with their health on a vegan diet are Denise Minger and Lierre Keith. I am sure there are people who don’t do well on a Paleo diet too. I just have not heard of them. 

I have to agree with the film when they talk about the nutrition training doctors receive in medical school. It is little to nothing. Doctors are not able to get to the root cause of your health problems because they are being taught pharmaceutical based medicine. This is sometimes necessary but there are other options out there. People on medication long term may have side effects causing other health problems and their overall health to decline. The movie is spot on here. A plant based diet may be very helpful for the short term and maybe long term. It depends on you and your individual biological make up. 

They state the cause and cure for disease is in our hands and that the money is in the drugs. We need to shift our dollars from expensive procedures to education. I could not agree more. 

Supplements- they say it is a big industry stealing your money. I am in partial agreement with them on this. There is no magic bullet supplement. The nutrients you need are in your food. You have to be able to digest and assimilate your food and for that, you may need a supplement. You may be depleted of certain nutrients and need a supplement to get you by until you are able to get them from your food again. 

The big problem for plant based diets is vitamin B12 which is found in animals. One expert in the movie says you can get B12 in a supplement or from fortified foods. As long as you don’t have a methylation problem this might work for you. Again, it is not for everyone. 

One thing I found interesting and quite intriguing is their statement of “what we eat determines how we use the planet”. They said that 98% of destroyed rainforest is used for meat production. This is sad. This is also why I tell everyone I teach and work with to know where your food comes from. Buy local whenever possible. Support your local farmers. They said 70% of farmable land is used to grow crops for animals and not humans. This statistic is also quite sad. 

Another quote from the movie, “It takes 2400 gallons of water and 12 pounds of grain to make one pound of beef.” Cows eat grass. They were evolved to eat grass and not grain so if you stop buying grain fed meat, that will help. “The excrements of 80 billion land animals raised for food each year aren't’ treated and go in to water basins and oceans”. They show pastured cows in the movie after this statement, not livestock in concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFO) which is more likely to be what they are referring to. This can be solved by eating local, supporting local farmers and eating less meat than you might right now. 

“The environmental impact we have is more than just about livestock. it is what we consume, the amount of stuff we acquire, overpopulation, dependance on fossil fuels, etc” says an expert in the movie. He is not wrong. All the packaging in processed foods, the cars we drive the amount of electronics in our households. All of this stuff has an environmental impact on the earth, not just factory farms. 

The movie goes on to attack grass fed beef as a fabrication by the meat and dairy industry to perpetuate the slaughter of animals. They say grass fed beef is even less sustainable because of land shortages and is worse than CAFO’s. I am not sure how they are coming up with this type of information. They do not list resources. I could put two cows on my 8.5 acres and have enough meat to feed my family and the families of two of my neighbors if we all ate meat just a few times a week. Small organic local farms that practice sustainability are better for the planet than CAFO’s in my opinion. 

Over fishing is depleting the oceans. I think maybe this is true. The ocean provides more oxygen to us than trees do. It is a very important ecosystem worth protecting. 

The final point I took away from the movie is that people have eaten animals for 1000’s of years and today there is no reason for us to eat them because it is not essential for survival as it was 1000’s of years ago. The film says we now have a choice and we can choose not to eat meat. 

They say we resist taking in information from places other than the mainstream. I agree with this. Many of my views on health and wellness are not what is considered mainstream. Things that are not mainstream are scary to some and so they choose to believe what is safer.

Lastly, “It won’t matter how healthy we are if the planet isn’t healthy. Stop following the system without questioning it. Vote with your dollars.” I couldn’t agree more. 

Tell me in the comments if you have seen Food Choices on Netflix and what you thought?

Do I Need a Calcium Supplement?

The short answer here is that you may not need one. Most of us get enough calcium in our diets but lack the needed cofactors to use and assimilate the calcium. 

Foods that are rich in calcium

  • Sardines

  • Sesame Seeds

  • Collard Greens

  • Spinach

  • Turnip Greens

  • Mustard Greens

  • Beet Greens

  • Natto (fermented soy)

  • Egg Yolks

  • Dark Meat Chicken.

You do not have to consume dairy products to get enough calcium but if you do, the best sources of dairy calcium are raw milk, yogurt and cheese (Jarlsberg in particular). 

Calcium makes up about 2% of your body weight contributing to bone structure as well as playing a role in controlling muscle and nerve function.  We definitely need calcium but you may not need to supplement with it as long as you are eating a well balanced diet. Too much calcium in the diet can deposit itself in places like blood vessels and as kidney stones in the kidneys. 

While calcium is essential for muscle contraction, magnesium serves as a calcium blocker. It is the calcium in too high amounts that creates a muscle cramp and magnesium that creates the relaxation. So it is important for these two to be in balance especially when it comes to your heart. 

It is not enough to try to replace these minerals that may be lacking in the diet. They need to be in balance and we need to be asking ourselves why there is an imbalance in the first place. 

Some things to look at to see whether or not your body is able to use the calcium in your diet are: 

How are your hormones functioning? Your parathyroid plays a very big role in maintaining blood calcium levels, thyroid hormone decreases blood calcium levels, adrenal hormones control sodium and potassium which have a relationship with calcium and sex hormones play a role in bone structure. Vitamin D works like a hormone in the body. We need it to increase the absorption through the digestive system. More on that later. 

Are you drinking enough water? Good hydration ensures that blood is fluid or thin and free flowing enough to efficiently transport calcium throughout the body. Having balanced electrolytes will help make sure calcium is transferred in and out of the cells. 

Are you getting enough other minerals in your diet? You should not only be looking at the amount of minerals you are getting in your diet (from food) but are they in balance with the amount of calcium you are getting. 

Are you digesting your fats or taking in quality fats?  Fatty acids are needed to transport calcium in to the cells and help increase calcium levels in the tissues. 

Is your digestion working properly? Calcium is only absorbed in an acidic environment and so it needs adequate stomach acid for the body to be able to use it. 

 There are two other factors that come in to play in regards to calcium and our ability to use it properly in the body. 

Vitamin K and Vitamin D. 

First let’s look at Vitamin K which has two forms. K1 and K2. This is a very simplified explanation of K1 and K2 as there are more forms of Vitamin K that play very specific roles in the body but for the purposes of this post I am keeping it simple for you all. If you want to learn about these vitamins in greater detail google Chris Masterjohn. He has made a career out of studying fat soluble vitamins. 

Vitamin K2 Health Benefits

It prevents calcium from going in to all the wrong places, as discussed above, like keeping it out of your kidneys where stones can form and the blood vessels where it can contribute or cause heart disease. It also helps get it in to your bones and teeth where your bones will get strong and your teeth will be able to fight off decay.

It helps you make insulin and helps to prevent insulin resistance. Remember this is when your cells turn the insulin carrying glucose away because they have had too much. In this way it helps to keep your blood sugar stable. It also helps you use energy properly making exercise a little easier and protects you from cancer.   

Vitamin K comes in different forms with K1 being the most well known for helping with blood clotting so you want to avoid supplementing with Vitamin K if you are on an anticoagulant. K1 is found mostly in plants and especially in leafy greens and K2 is found most often in animal products. This is a fat soluble vitamin so you might notice that the animal products it is found in are naturally higher in fat so you can use it. This is why I tell my clients and students to eat their veggies with a little bit of fat so they can actually use the vitamins in the plant. 

Vitamin D Health Benefits

This fat soluble vitamin plays a big role in your overall health by impacting around 3000 of your genes. It turns on or off the genes that prevent or make worse diseases such as cancer, high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, MS, gum disease, IBS, colds and flu and many more. 

Much of the population is deficient in Vitamin D, especially those with darker skin and those living in the north. Most of us need about ten times what the Recommended Daily Allowance is (600 IU per day for RDA) and the very best way to get it is by getting sunlight daily or taking a high quality supplement. Be aware though that if you supplement you need to have your levels checked regularly by a doctor because you can take too much. 

Vitamin D helps you absorb calcium and vitamin K2 sends the calcium to your bones, again, keeping it from depositing in the wrong places.  A build up of plaque in the arteries results from a damaged blood vessel having calcium deposited there so that you can remain alive. This is how heart disease begins. A build up of this kind of plaque can result in an eventual heart attack. Remember that sugar and processed foods are what cause the damage to the blood vessels in the first place.  Vitamin K and D work together to protect your blood vessels from this plaque formation. 

If you are taking calcium and vitamin D supplements but are deficient in K, you could be doing more harm than good than if you didn’t take a calcium supplement at all because that calcium is just one part of your overall bone and heart health. 

Bottom line:

  • You may not need a calcium supplement, you are probably getting enough from your diet.

  • You need good digestion.

  • You need to be well hydrated.

  • You need to do some weight bearing exercise like walking or lifting weights.

  • You need those good quality fats in your diet and you need to digest them.

  • You need to optimize your vitamin D intake (and get some sun) and check your blood levels regularly.

  • Get K2 from leafy greens, fermented veggies, or raw milk cheeses

  • Eat a wide and varied diet of real whole foods.

 

Tell me in the comments. Do you take a calcium supplement or a vitamin D supplement? Do you spend time outside getting some sunshine?

 

Do You Need a Gallbladder?

Do I need a gallbladder?  This is a really good question. 

The quick answer is yes. You need it and your life will be forever altered without it. Gallbladders are a key player if the breakdown of fat in our diet. They get mucked up with sludgy bile when we consume a high carbohydrate low fat diet and when we consume the wrong kind of fats. 

We have been sold a lie for years and years telling us that fat is bad for us. Fat will cause heard disease and obesity.  The truth is almost the opposite of what we have been told and sold on for so many years. I have written about fat before and why it is good for us. You can find that information here

I am writing specifically about gallbladders today because I have so many clients without them who didn’t know they needed support once it was removed. There are over 600,000 surgeries every year to remove gallbladders. Some of those removals are necessary but a far greater number of them are not. Your gallbladder can be saved. The trick here is that saving your gallbladder takes time and work on your part. It won’t happen over night and it will be a bit uncomfortable for you for awhile as you clean out the sludge in the gallbladder and your body begins to replace sludgy bile with clean and healthy bile to be stored. 

How does this even work?

The liver, a real workhorse for our body, produces bile which gets stored in the gallbladder until food enters the small intestines. The gallbladder then releases bile to aid in the digestion or emulsification of fats. When the gallbladder is removed, the liver continues to produce bile and it just drips in to the small intestine. This means you won’t have enough bile to break down your dietary fat which leads to fats going undigested and leaving the body often as diarrhea. 

Gallbladder surgery or cholecystectomy can be avoided with good nutrition and lifestyle. Diet is key here when you are trying to maintain a healthy gallbladder or even save it. 

Symptoms of a gallbladder attack or need to support your gallbladder with diet changes are: 

  • pain or tenderness under the rib cage on the right 
  • pain between the shoulder blades
  • light or chalky colored stools
  • fatty or greasy looking stools
  • heartburn
  • stomach upset by greasy foods
  • nausea, motion sickness
  • dry skin, itchy feet 
  • headache over the eye
  • bitter taste in mouth after a meal

 

Symptoms that can be experienced when you don’t have a gallbladder are: 

  • stomachaches  
  • heartburn
  • diarrhea, usually after a meal
  • pain between the shoulder blades
  • bloating and indigestion
  • nausea

If you have had your gallbladder removed it is likely you have been told to maintain a low fat diet for life. A low fat diet will deprive your body of necessary nutrients. Every cell in our bodies are made of a layer of fat. We need it for good cellular function and we are really just a bunch of cells put together that make up tissues, organs, systems and humans. If those cells are not healthy, then we are not healthy. No fat digestion means no ability to use vitamins A, D, E and K even if we supplement.  Most importantly is that you will need to supplement with ox bile for the rest of your life. 

If you still have a gallbladder but are struggling with the above listed symptoms, you can save it. Sludge in your gallbladder does NOT mean you have to remove it. If you are willing to put in the work to save it, you probably can. It takes time and you will feel uncomfortable and experience some pain as the sludge gets cleaned out. It won’t happen overnight. 

This is what you can start to do to ensure you can clean out your gallbladder: 

  • Increase the healthy fats in your diet such as olive oil, flax oil, fish oils and coconut oil
  • Eat a high fiber diet
  • Consume lots and lots of vegetables. Half your plate at dinner should be veggies
  • Eat at least one serving (2 cups) of raw, grated beets covered with the juice of half a lemon and two tablespoons of raw, unprocessed flax seed oil or olive oil
  • Avoid dairy products except butter
  • Avoid wheat/gluten
  • Avoid fried foods, hydrogenated and partially hydrogenated fats
  • Avoid refined carbohydrates
  • Rule out any potential food allergies or sensitivities

There are also several supplements you can take to support your liver and gallbladder. Part of what I do as a Nutritional Therapy Practitioner is have you take an extensive questionnaire that will pinpoint if gallbladder or liver issues are something you need to be looking at. 

Have you ever had a gallbladder attack? How did you deal with it? Leave me a comment below and let's start a conversation. 

What to Expect When you Go On a Sugar Detox

 

Locally I teach a class called RESTART®. It is a five week long nutrition program with a three week sugar detox built in to it. I am a sugar addict and have been toying with the idea of giving up sugar for at least the last nine years. I used to work at a fitness center and one of the instructors there didn’t eat any sugar at all except for what was naturally occurring in fruit. None. At. All. I just could not get over how happy she was about it. It was a mystery to me at the time because sugar and sweet treats were my life. I baked almost every week and ate whatever my family didn’t finish. Muffins, cookies, cakes, bars. You name it and I baked it. Except croissants. My neighbor and friend made those and I never got around to making them before I gave up gluten. I always wanted to try to make them though. That and marshmallow’s from scratch. My husband thinks I am crazy but I find it almost meditative to bake. I loved it. Sugar became such a problem for me that I could not make any treats because I would end up eating the whole pan of whatever it was I made. 

So, this idea of giving up sugar sat with me and marinated in my head for nine years. It nagged at me occasionally especially when I started to look at how diet can affect well being. When I started to see a Naturopathic Doctor for my Hashimoto’s, she told me I needed to cut sugar out of my diet. I always said I would try or that I was trying but as Yoda says, “Do or Do Not, There is No Try.”. He was right. I did not give up sugar and didn’t even really try to do it until I was put on a specific diet to heal my gut. No sugar allowed. It wasn’t even that hard to do it when I was told specifically to stay away from it. That lasted for 3 weeks and the chiropractor that put me on it said I didn’t have to be on it anymore. That was all I needed to give myself permission to indulge in something sweet. I don’t remember what it was but I know I went off the deep end and ate too much sweet because my psoriasis came back with a vengeance. When that happened I got so mad and frustrated with myself for “screwing up” that I caused a flare. 

Fast forward a year and I became a RESTART® instructor leading a group of people to detox from sugar and learn about nutrition. I questioned how I could walk through a sugar detox if I didn’t give it up too. 

I gave it up with my first class. I went through the whole detox with them and for me, it wasn’t so bad. I had already given up most refined sugar but was getting my fix through potatoes and a lot of fruit. Yes, you read that right. Potatoes. I replaced my need for a sugar high from sweet treats to potatoes and other starches like sweet potatoes and plantains. Sugar is sugar and your body treats all sugar the same really. It converts the sugars in potatoes and fruits in to energy just like it would a piece of candy. Of course there are nutrients in the foods I was eating so it wasn’t all bad but my body still needed a break and RESTART® gave it just the break it was looking for.

It allowed me to regain control of that demon I had been dealing with my whole entire life. 

If you are wondering if the program is right for you, then keep reading.  On the RESTART® program, you will be cutting out all forms of sugar including most fruits. Preparation will be key to your success. You will be prepping all of your meals for the 3 weeks you are cutting out sugar. There is no way to do this while eating processed junk foods or convenience foods with some exceptions that we discuss in class. You will be given a list of what is allowed and what is not allowed on the plan. We will also share ideas of how to plan our meals so we aren’t left in a jam where we are starving and there is nothing to eat. 

A great tip to remain successful is to tell your friends and family about what you are doing so you can have lots of support. Better yet, enlist a friend to do it with you so you can support each other and be accountable to one another. You will also have the support of the other class participants each week as well as my private Facebook group that is just for RESTARTers. 

The RESTART® program is about adding lots of real whole foods to your diet and replacing all the processed foods in your life. We all have our go to’s and we can all give them up for 3 weeks. 

I am an emotional eater. When I am feeling down or stressed I want to sooth myself with a treat. It might even be a coping mechanism for me. This program forced me to take a look at the reasons I turned to certain foods like sweets. The RESTART® program has helped me learn and to develop a new relationship to food and my reasons for turning to sugar. It is an uncomfortable place to be at times but I came out okay on the other side. 

I have regained control of my sugar addiction. 

Treat yourself in ways that don’t involve food. Hikes or walks, relaxing baths, massages or a yoga class. All of these things can make you feel just as good as a pint of ice cream (better in the long run) without the guilt that usually follows. 

When you cut sugar out of your diet, you will likely experience the “sugar flu” or detox symptoms. It usually happens within the first two weeks and lasts for a couple of days. Mood swings, depression, issues with digestion, skin rashes, muscle or joint aches, less energy. This is the result of toxins leaving your body. You will feel so much better in the end. 

You will also find that things that didn’t seem so sweet before will taste sweet enough to you after the three weeks are up. I had a private client recently who I put on this diet and she did not like green apples. She refused to eat them while on the program because they were too sour. I encouraged her at the end to just try one before she had a naturally sweeter apple. She found that the green apple was significantly less sour to her after the three weeks and she actually enjoyed it. Most of us consume things that are extremely sweet and when we give those things up, our taste buds have a chance to reset and we are able to really taste our food. This reset allows our brain to reset too. It won’t crave the crazy sweet stuff like it used to. 

Real whole foods will be enough. 

We all slip up. It’s okay. There is no guilt in RESTART® about slipping up. Just move on. it doesn’t mean you have to start over. Be kind to yourself. Nobody is perfect. Our motto is “Whatever I eat, I choose it consciously, I enjoy it thoroughly and then I let it go.”

You will see positive changes. Everyone is different but you may experience weight loss, more energy, improved digestion, clearer skin and a clear mind. You just won’t believe how negatively sugar was impacting your whole body. By the end you will feel so great about how you have impacted your health for the good. All in only five weeks. 

Are you feeling ready to give your health a RESTART®? Classes do run regularly but sign up for my newsletter here to stay on top of when the next class is. You can even host one in your home or we can do one via the web. Contact me for more information. 

In Health, 

Stephanie

11 Things You Can do to Beat Fatigue in Hypothyroidism

Fatigue and Hypothyroidsim. It sucks, doesn't it?!  You get sick and tired of being sick and tired. I get you.  Why are we always so tired?

The struggle is real.

We all get tired from time to time but if you have hypothyroidsim or Hashimoto’s you understand dog tired fatigue that just won’t go away. I have spent the better part of the year trying to figure out why the heck I have been plagued with constant fatigue. It is depressing. Chronic illness in general is depressing. It stinks to be tired all the time. If you have kids then you have the guilt of not feeling well enough to take your kids anywhere or do anything fun with your family. I paid lots of money to a chiropractor to help me figure out why I was so tired all the time. Didn’t help much at all. I spent a good portion of the summer watching the entire series of Gilmore Girls with my ten year old because I didn’t have enough energy to do anything else. My house didn’t get cleaned much for a good 6 months. I finally figured out a few things, made some changes and now feel really pretty good and have had a bit of a pep in my step which has been a welcome change. Ask my family. They will tell you!

There are several things you can do when you have hypothyroidism to help get that pep back in your step as well. 

First of all make sure your thyroid levels are optimal. That seems like a no brainer but you need to have more than just TSH tested. I feel like a broken record with this one but so many doctors don’t test anything but TSH and you really need to be an advocate for yourself and get T3 and T4 at a minimum tested and make sure they are in what would be considered a healthy range.  Between .3 and 3.0 is what the American College of Clinical Endocrinologists suggests for TSH. 

If your T3 is low and your reverse T3 is high, this will affect your energy levels as well. T3 is what your cells use for energy. Every cell in your body uses that hormone for energy. If your reverse T3 is high that means your body is possibly stressed in some way so that it is converting more T3 than it should into reverse T3 which your body cannot use, therefore you may have less energy.  You can ask your doctor if they are wiling to try different medications on you and if you feel it is the meds and your doctor won’t work with you, find another doctor. Fire your doctor. 

Have your iron (including ferritin) levels checked as well as your B12 levels. All of these have an effect on your energy levels. 

Do you have any food allergies or sensitivities that are not being addressed? Often times having a sensitivity to a food can cause fatigue and those of us with Hashimoto’s usually have at least a gluten sensitivity and more often than not a dairy sensitivity as well. Trying an elimination diet is key to figuring out just what foods might be causing problems for you.  We get a particular kind of sausage made from our deer every fall and I noticed the other day after having some that I felt particularly tired afterwards. Clue number one that there may be something in that sausage that is causing problems for me. Learn to listen to your body. Here what it is trying to tell you. 

This next one is a biggie.

You absolutely must get your blood sugar under control. Not doing so will wreak havoc on your entire body. Your body makes balancing blood sugar a priority over most other things it does. Make sure you are eating protein and fat with every meal, including breakfast. Don’t starve yourself and make sure you are eating enough. Avoid starchy and refined carbohydrates. It should be okay for you to include squashes and sweet potatoes. I find I do better when I include those in my diet. Keep a food journal. You will be surprised that you just might not be eating enough food on a daily basis. 

You also need to make sure that you are digesting your food. You cannot use the amino acids in the protein you consume if you are not breaking the protein down in your stomach. You need to chew your food well and slowly and even before you start eating you need to be relaxed (in parasympathetic mode). 

Have your vitamin D checked. Optimal levels are somewhere around 60-80 ng/dl and most of us don’t get enough. You need to make sure you are getting D3 from your diet. Your vitamin D fortified orange juice and milk do not have D3 in them. 

Take good care of your adrenal glands. They help manage blood sugar, sex hormones and your fight or flight response. Put a pinch of sea salt in your water when you drink it and stay away from coffee. Coffee is not the friend of your adrenal glands. They don’t get better over night either. They take some tender loving care to get them working well again. I have been working on mine for a couple of years. 

If your liver is blocked up with all kinds of stuff it cannot do its job of eliminating toxins. This is called having a congested liver. A toxic liver can make us feel tired. 

B vitamin deficiencies have a big effect on our energy. Taking a good B6 complex in general can be helpful. 

Do you have a leaky gut?

How healthy are the bacteria in your gut? Both of these play a role in your energy levels and are important factors to consider when looking at your health. 

Gentle exercise is your friend. Going for walks, yoga, tai chi are all great things to get your body moving and helping you feel better. 

Of course, you can work with a practitioner to help you figure out exactly what is going on inside your body and get to the root of your fatigue and other symptoms of thyroid disease. You can feel better. Trust me. I live this disease and know its ups and downs. 

Empower yourself to get better and to feel better. 

In Health, 

Stephanie

Tell me in the comments about your worst day with fatigue. How about your best?

Why is Sugar So BAD For Us?

I have been doing a sugar detox with my RESTART students. It has been nine months since my last detox which went off with out a hitch. This time around it feels like it is taking forever to get over with and it has only been a week. I am also on the Autoimmune protocol which eliminates the nightshade veggies and nuts and seeds so I don’t have my good old stash of nuts to fall back on. I was already pretty well sugar free except for a treat here and there and my fair share of fruits. 

Grapes are in season and boy are they ever good (and sugary!). I miss grapes. I miss lasagna. I was at my daughters high school sports banquet last night and they served lasagna. It smelled so good and seemed so comforting. 

Comfort food. I miss comfort food. I brought a salad. I had a salad for lunch and veggies and meat for breakfast. Plus a protein shake because I am f’ing hungry all the time even with eating a lot of fat every day. At least one avocado plus 1/4 to half a can of full fat coconut milk.  

Clearly I am not eating enough. That has been an issue for me for a few months. With my thyroid not being optimal right now, that leaves me with less energy to do some good prep work to ensure I don’t run out of good things to eat. I keep forgetting to take meat out of the freezer and end up eating a salad. It could be worse I tell myself. It always could be worse. 

Sugar is everywhere and it is in everything.

It takes some diligence to keep it out of your diet and off of your mind. The holidays are coming up and that means holiday parties and treats galore. It is a good time to be mindful of the affects sugar can have on our bodies. 

The problem I seem to have and maybe you too if you suffer from thyroid problems is that even carbohydrates are an issue for me. I was virtually sugar free except for fruits and starches like I mentioned before and those also cause your body to release insulin just like plain old sugar does. The refined sugars like candy or sweets cause a bigger release in insulin than do the complex carbs in veggies which cause a much slower release of insulin. 

What happens when insulin is released? It triggers tryptophan (an amino acid) which further leads to serotonin (an neurotransmitter) to be released. This here is your pain killer, stress reliever and booster of moods. Your body gets the signal that life is great, for a short while. 

Don’t forget about all the positive reinforcement you get from sweets all throughout your life. Celebrations like birthdays or holidays. Don’t forget about all those incentives we received as kids for being good. I was just witness to it in the coffee shop I am working from today. I overheard a mom say to her toddler, “If you eat some of your sandwich, I will get you some candy.”

So you get that high from your sugar or your candy and that lasts for maybe a half an hour.  Your high is now a low making you feel really tired, maybe cranky and possibly blue (maybe green too if you ate too much candy). Your body tells you to fuel it again. Give it more. Feed the demon. This cycle is on repeat for, well, forever if you let it or until you have a system breakdown.  There are long term effects of eating lots of refined carbs and sugar over your life. 

You get nothing nutritionally from it. No vitamins, minerals or macronutrients. Nothing. It does, however, negatively affect your cells and how well they function.  Our kids are consuming more than ten times the amount of sugar they did in 1915 much of which is high fructose corn syrup (HFCS).  HFCS is the largest source of our calorie intake in the United States. It is a by-product of the corn industry. It is extracted from the corn stalk, chemically changed and processed at a high heat. It is also cheap to produce which makes food industry profits all that much higher. 

What is so bad about high fructose corn syrup?

The fructose and glucose are unbound which means your body doesn’t have to break it down. It gets absorbed in your liver and is converted to fat. The fructose in your HFCS drink, candy or sweet treat messes with your hormones ghrelin and leptin. Ghrelin is the hormone that tells your body you are hungry and leptin is the hormone that tells you that you are full. The suppression of ghrelin leads to miscommunication with leptin so you can keep eating the stuff which can lead you down the road of insulin resistance. 

Insulin resistance is when your cells are closing their doors to the glucose being delivered to them by insulin. This causes your pancreas to release even more insulin to get the glucose to your cells. It is a vicious cycle. Once your pancreas wears out (because it can and it will) you will then have diabetes. 

What are you supposed to do to break the sugar habit/addiction?

I have been struggling with this for years. What has kept me accountable this time around is doing a detox such as the RESTART detox in a group. I don’t want to let them down. That right there is more powerful for me than anything else. 

In this program you are avoiding all sweeteners for three weeks. High fructose corn syrup, white sugar, sugar alcohols and artificial sweeteners. By the end we are talking about how to enjoy a treat here and there without the sugar taking over our life again. 

 

Moderation. That is the goal. 

 

Below is a list of sweeteners I would recommend in moderation

  • Honey- raw and organic is full of vitamins, minerals and enzymes beneficial to health. Insulin isn’t released as quickly compared to table sugar. 
  • Maple syrup- this is basically boiled tree sap. 
  • Molasses- a by-product of the sugar industry. It is where all the vitamins and minerals that were in what is now white sugar remain. 
  • Coconut sugar- again, boiled liquids from the coconut. 
  • Date sugar- dried and ground dates

I don’t recommend you go hog wild with any of these sweeteners but if you want to make a treat for a special occasion, these are your better choices. These are less refined than others and are best choices in the world of sweeteners. Choosing the least refined options are best. 

You can find a RESTART class near you by going here

In Health, 

Stephanie

 

 

Healthy Eating 101

Last Tuesday was National Night Out (I think it is called something else now) and our neighborhood makes hamburgers and hot dogs for the event and everyone else brings a dish to share. We were discussing hamburgers and a seasoning someone brought that made the burgers tasty. I didn’t have any because I wasn’t sure it was gluten free but I was telling them about making burgers that were half chopped bacon so basically 50% burger and 50% bacon. They are really the most delicious hamburger. Someone said that was funny that someone so “healthy” would suggest eating a burger like that. Just goes to show that people are still soooo mislead by the media about what is healthy. I don’t eat burgers like that every week or even every month but they are a fun treat to have and all that saturated fat is sure good for the body. This has been discussed a couple of times on my website already.  

So what exactly is healthy eating?

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One survey conducted by the National Cancer Institute showed only about 9% of the people surveyed eat three or more servings of vegetables or two or more servings of fruit in a day. This was a recall study of foods eaten the previous day. Do you recall how many fruits and vegetables you ate yesterday?  Yesterday was a good day for me. I ate lots of veggies but that is not typical for me and I am a Nutritional Therapist so I KNOW what I should be eating. 

In the U.S. 46% of our food dollars are spent on foods (meals or snacks) eaten outside of our homes.  For my family I would say that percentage is more like 15%-20% at most so someone else has to make up for my share of not eating out. The number of convenience stores has more than doubled in the last ten years!  Americans drink a heck of a lot of soft drinks consuming their body weight in sweeteners! Yikes.  Americans also drink more soft drinks than water although I would guess this may be changing as we seem to be really getting wise to how terrible soft drinks are for us.

 Where in the world do you start to eat healthy?

You can get rid of chronic health issues, prevent further disease and make the quality of your life much better by making some pretty basic changes. Change is hard. People are resistant to it especially when it means giving up some of those comfort foods we have so grown to love.  The thing you cannot forget is that a diet of proper nutrients gives your body all the materials it needs to detoxify and heal or to maintain good health. If your body is broken down with chronic health problems it is because you are not giving your body the fuel it needs to run properly and it is broken. Sometimes the damage can be reversed, sometimes it can be slowed down and sometimes you can stop it in its tracks. It really just depends on how much damage is done. 

In any case, I guarantee you will feel better by making the following basic changes to your diet. 

 

Start drinking more water. 

Many people or other health professionals will tell you to drink eight 8oz glasses of water per day. The standard I follow is half your body weight in ounces per day. 

What if you don’t like water? 

You can read all about why water is so needed by your body here.  I have always loved water so I don’t have a good answer for you on how to make yourself like it.  You can try to start out with a sparkling mineral water like Perrier or San Pellegrino. LaCroix is a start too but it is not the same as the other two. Mineral waters have all the minerals your body needs including magnesium which most of us are deficient in. Your tap water can be a source of chemicals like fluorine, chlorine and other things like lead or plastics (depends on what kind of pipes you have). 

Eat lots of vegetables every day. Eat 1-2 servings of fruit.  

More than half your plate should be covered in veggies at every meal.  One of the best ways to lose weight is to eat a lot of vegetables. The fiber can help you feel full longer and will help get things moving. It can even help keep your cholesterol and blood pressure in check.  

Leafy greens are an excellent source of folate which is important for the methylation cycle in your detoxification system and also plays a role in producing the feel good hormone serotonin. 

You get lots of minerals from veggies too but they are best absorbed when you eat your veggies with some fat (butter on broccoli, asparagus roasted with olive oil, a simple salad with a homemade dressing of olive oil, mustard and salt and pepper). 

They help keep cancer at bay, increase your energy and help keep the toxins moving out of your body. 

Avoid the deep fried foods, hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils (Trans Fats). 

  • High levels of trans fats in your cells increases your chances of developing cancer, especially breast cancer. 
  • High levels of trans fats are associated with heart disease. 
  • Consuming trans fats increases pain and inflammation. They keep your body from creating its own natural anti-inflammatory substances. If you have chronic pain this is one thing you will want to avoid for sure. 
  • Trans fats get in your cells making it easier for a virus or bacteria to invade and keep your immune system struggling. 
  • It is thought they are linked to ADD, depression and fatigue. 

Stay away from refined sugar.

This is a tough one for a lot of us, myself included. Americans eat a lot of sugar every year. There are many different statistics on this but one study concluded that Americans consume around 170 pounds per year. That number was seven pounds per year in 1750 England. This stuff really wreaks havoc on your body. 

  • Eating it causes a loss of minerals, especially magnesium
  • Eating sugar makes your body’s need for vitamin C and the B vitamins that much greater. 
  • Makes emotional stress even worse. 
  • Feeds yeasts in your body causing an imbalance and makes cravings worse (those yeasts in your body will actually make you crave sugar- it is their fuel)
  • Have you ever been on the blood sugar roller coaster? Have the need for a pick me up in the afternoon? 
  • Sugar increases pain and inflammation

Limit or just don’t eat refined carbohydrates

Most of us get at least 50% of our calories from refined carbohydrates. These are all the grains that have been processed to nothing and made in to bread, cake, cookies, pasta etc. All you have left is the starch because all of the nutrients are gone. Have you ever eaten something you thought you were craving only to feel so unsatisfied afterwards and still looking for “that something” to fill you up. Well, if it isn’t an emotional need you are looking to feed it is your body looking for the minerals and vitamins that it is not getting.  These foods will fill you up but they will not nourish you and that is really what you need to function properly- nourishment. 

If you have Autoimmune disease of any kind you may be best served by avoiding all grains most especially wheat. If you must eat any grains it is best to consume them properly prepared which means soaked and sprouted. If you are going to take the time to do that you could benefit from their nutrients but you can get all the nutrients you need from other foods.

Keep the chemicals out of your diet and your life in general

There are around 80,000 chemicals approved by the FDA for use in anything from food to make-up and so on. We are inundated with toxins on a daily basis from our environment too. There is definitely no getting around that.  You do have control over what you eat and what you put on your body though so you can control a bit of how toxic your life is or has become. 

Your average American eats around ten pounds of chemicals in the form of food additives every year! 

Did you know that additives are tested in their singular form and not together. So no one really knows what a combo of these things in a food product does to your body.  Toxins and food additives are a huge burden on the liver. If you are consuming large amounts of sugar your liver is probably too busy to do anything about the chemicals in your body so they get deposited places (like the fat on your body) until your body can deal with them later. 

Mono and diglycerides are listed by the FDA as the kind of additives that cause cancer, birth defects and fertility issues. Granted you probably have to consume a huge amount for these types of problems to occur but many people eat a whole lot of processed foods every single day. If you are one of those people you are getting way more additives than you should. 

Brominated vegetable oil (an ingredient in some sodas like that yellow one depicting the droplets of water on the mountains) that keeps things mixed together. It causes kidney damage and is poisonous. It can make its home in your fat and nerve tissues. 

Red# 40 is thought to be carcinogenic. Many food colors added to foods have been implicated in other things like ADD or ADHD making them worse. Avoid all colors that are followed by a number. 

Aspartame and other artificial sweeteners. These are bad news for your brain and are thought to cause headaches, depression and anxiety. 

TBHQ was not easily approved but somehow it was. Five grams of this stuff can kill you yet it is used as a preservative in many foods so it can sit on the shelf for a really long time without spoiling. 

One could go on and on about a whole host of these types of food additives but you get the idea. Read the ingredients on what you buy or just stay away from processed food as much as possible. 

Eat your food slowly and chew it thoroughly

In American culture is seems to be the norm to wolf down your food as fast as possible so you can move on the next thing. Or maybe you are running from work to a kids activity and eating in the car. Whatever the reason, it will serve you best to take some time out of your day to sit down and eat your meal. Relax. Enjoy. Be grateful for the food and the nourishment it will provide you. Take a bite, put down your fork and chew it well. Really chew it, 20-30 times before swallowing. You will find you eat less and you will feel more satisfied. 

Don’t skip any meals either. Pack some snacks if you need to when you are out so you are not stuck with crappy food choices where you may end up. I usually plan for myself but sometimes my kids don’t want to eat what I have packed. We were on a road trip recently and stopped at a gas station (for gas but the kids were hungry because our dinner was small) and the guy ringing us up said he was really impressed with the choices my kids made. Okay, so it was gas station food but choosing a sandwich over a bag of chips was a good choice. The kids picked sandwiches, yogurt and cheese and Clif Bars. You will find in a pinch many stores are carrying something a little better than a overly processed snack cake or donuts that are stale. 

Changing your diet can be overwhelming. I would suggest you don’t go on a diet. Those things NEVER work. Eat real food. Even if you cannot afford organic food it is cheaper to eat real food. Not only is it cheaper but it is better for your body. Your body knows what to do with chicken but it may question what to do with all the ingredients in a chicken nugget. Be kind to yourself when making these changes. You have to start somewhere and baby steps are always good. Even if you slip up. Be forgiving of your slip and move on. You will be happier and healthier for it!

In health,

Stephanie

 

What Are The Best Fats To Cook With?

I couldn’t help but eavesdrop on a conversation I over heard in the grocery store. Two people were talking about which fats were the best to use for cooking. I was shocked, to hear what they were saying. I am so immersed in this world of health and wellness that I am still surprised when I hear people saying that their “vegetable”  (shh…it’s not really made from vegetables) oil is the best.  I know someone with Chron’s who no longer has their colon who buys this stuff by the gallons to fry fish with. Honestly, it makes me sad and even a little mad that people have been duped by the industry which produces this stuff for so many years. 

It has been about 60 or so years that we have been told that low fat diets are the way to go and that using these so called healthy oils in your cooking, baking and salad dressings is the best thing for you. Eating low fat keeps you from being healthier due to deficiency of fatty acids. Low fat diets have really been promoted since the 50’s. Low fat, high carbohydrate (unrefined carbohydrates like fruits, vegetables and grains) diets lead to things like mood disorders like depression, deficiencies in minerals, weight problems and fatigue. Studies done on low fat diets fail to show their benefits on your long term health. This is because you need fat from your diet for the health and well being of each and every cell in your body. Your body needs fat!

This is the plant that canola oil is made from. It is made from the seed called rapeseed. 

This is the plant that canola oil is made from. It is made from the seed called rapeseed. 

What the industry is not telling you is that the canola oil, corn oil and soybean oil among others are denatured, refined and really, really bad for your health. The way these fats are processed makes it so that our bodies cannot process them keeping your health and vitality from you. They sell you on their talk that dietary fat is going to kill you. That saturated fat will clog your arteries. What they don’t tell you is the obesity rates in this country started to rise when the “vegetable” oils were heavily promoted as healthy. 

Did you know that everyday your body makes cholesterol? When you eat cholesterol rich foods, your body doesn’t have to make as much on its own. How cool is that? My husband recently went to the doctor and the doctor had an app on his phone that allowed him to plug in some basic information to decide whether or not he should put my husband on a statin to keep his cholesterol low. There was nothing wrong with my husbands cholesterol. He makes some lifestyle choices that put him more at risk for heart attack than others but his cholesterol was fine. He declined the cholesterol lowering statin. 

I have talked a bit about fat on here before but will recap the benefits of fat for your health: 

  •     Fats keep you full and satisfied longer 
  •     Fats help your hormones work properly
  •     Fats help you absorb nutrients from your veggies (put some grass fed    butter on them)
  •     Fats keep your bile healthy so you can digest and breakdown fats 
  •     Fats keep your cells healthy
  •     Fats help your body produce anti inflammatory chemicals

There are several classifications for fats.

Saturated fat is very stable naturally and will not rancidify easily. It is solid at room temperature. Fats from animals are typically saturated as are coconut and palm oils. 

Monounsaturated fat is pretty stable and won’t rancidify easily. Olive oil is a good example of monounsaturated fat. Lard actually has more monounsaturated fat in it than saturated fat yet is classified as a saturated fat. 

Polyunsaturated fats in unstable always, is damaged by heat very easily, will turn rancid fast and needs refrigeration. This is where your Omega-3 and Omega 6 fatty acids come from. Fish oil and flax seed oil are examples of polyunsaturated fat. Most seed oils are in this category as well. 

What most people maybe don’t know is that all fats are a combination of all three of these kinds of fats. They are classified by which category of fat is most prominent. 

The best, most stable and healthful fat for cooking at high temperatures is most animal fats and oils like coconut and palm oil.  These types of oils when from healthy animals and clean sources keep your veins and vessels healthy, they keep your immune system healthy, protect your liver from toxins, help your body absorb calcium in keep your cells working properly. 

The fats to avoid in cooking at all are those from seeds and nuts. They are very sensitive to heat and should only be consumed raw. They also should be consumed in small amounts (around one teaspoon is enough for most people). You also want to avoid the highly processed oils (the “vegetable” oils) like corn, soybean, cottonseed (we don’t eat cotton, why would we eat the oil?) and canola (which is a seed oil). The oils are extracted through a process of crushing them and heating them to temperatures around 230 degrees damaging their fatty acid molecules. They are then put under pressure to squeeze the oil out which generates even more heat. Then they are chemically processed with petroleum based solvent to get the very last bits of oil out. The solvent is boiled off but some remains in the oil (yum). Also, the pesticides used on the crops before harvest are concentrated in the oil due to the use of the solvent so you are getting a good dose of chemicals in your rancid oil. 

Avoiding hydrogenated oils like margarine and shortening is also a good idea. Hydrogenated oils are made from polyunsaturated fats (the really unstable ones that should never be heated). They are further processd after extraction by adding nickel oxide and then exposed to hydrogen gas at high temperatures and high pressure. The chemical structure of the fat is then changed from polyunsaturated to saturated or Trans Fats. Fillers and Thickeners are added and odors are removed through steam (more heat=even more damage) and finally bleached because it is a gray color (appetizing). 

How to know if the oil you are buying is damaged (processed with chemicals)

If the label reads: Refined, Hydrogenated, Partially-Hydrogenated or cold-processed AVOID it. 

If the label reads: Organic, First-cold pressed or Cold Pressed, Expeller-Pressed, Unrefined, Extra Virgin BUY it. 

The safest oils for cooking, frying, baking, broiling, grilling and roasting

  • Lard
  • Ghee (clarified butter)
  • Tallow from beef or lamb
  • Chicken, Goose and Duck Fat
  • Organic Virgin Coconut Oil
  • Red Palm Oil/Palm Kernel Oil

Tropical oils like coconut and palm oil can be refined and processed just like polyunsaturated fats so make sure to read the labels. You can order high quality fats online or buy them from your local food co op. 

Safe fats for stir frying, light sautéing, and slow and low cooking

  • Olive oil (unfiltered- should turn somewhat solid to solid when refrigerated)
  • Avocado oil- similar to olive oil, made from the meat, not the pit
  • Peanut oil (not a good choice for frying in fryers) using occasionally 
  • Sesame oil- use to sauté occasionally
  • Macadamia nut oil (80% monounsaturated fat), store in fridge. 

Make sure they are processed in the best way possible (expeller pressed is best). Read your labels.  You can actually cook up to a temperature of 400 degrees with olive oil. 

Do not use for cooking

this is a popular brand that is widely available. I have no affiliation with this brand. 

this is a popular brand that is widely available. I have no affiliation with this brand. 

  • Flax oil
  • Hemp oil
  • Pumpkin seed oil
  • Grapeseed oil
  • Safflower oil
  • Sunflower oil

Omega-3 rich oils like flaxseed oil can be used in small amounts for a portion of a salad dressing or added to a smoothie. They should be eating in moderation from good sources.

Do not use

  • Vegetable oils
  • Soybean oil
  • Corn oil
  • Cottonseed oil

These are highly processed, usually genetically modified and have high levels of pesticides in them. Canola is high in Omega-3 fatty acids but are damaged to the point of no return during processing. Your body doesn’t know what to do with this oil when you consume it.  Cottonseed oil is one of the most genetically modified crops out there. It is not a food and should not be consumed. 

Butter must not be forgotten. It is best to consume butter from grass fed sources and raw when you can (not feasible for many people). Butter has a healthy ratio of Omega-3 to Omega 6 fatty acids and your fat soluble vitamins A,D, E and K needed to help you absorb and use the nutrients in your food. It also helps with the inflammatory or anti-inflammatory processes in your body. 

Enjoy cooking with your fats and remember that consuming fat does not make you fat. Did you know I do Pantry Makeovers? I can help you figure out what foods you may need to get rid of on your journey to health. Send me a note and we can have a free 15 minute strategy session!

In health,

Stephanie

Breakfast Hash Recipe

This whole cooking from scratch thing gets to be really old, really fast when you have to cook three meals a day for seven days a week in order to maintain your health (especially if you have an autoimmune disease).  I also have restrictions to my diet. No gluten. No dairy. No eggs. No grains. I will never be able to have gluten again and I should probably never eat dairy again as well. Dairy can be cross reactive with gluten meaning your body can’t tell the difference between the protein in dairy and gluten proteins. When you have thyroid problems, that can be a big deal. 

In an effort to ensure I eat enough and stay full until lunch, I make hash a lot. It is super easy when you have leftover veggies. It is easy even if you don’t. Hash can be made from anything. Any vegetables and any starch and any meats you have in the fridge. 

Today mine was made of purple sweet potatoes, fennel, onion, broccoli and parsley with a little bit of ham leftover from a dinner a few nights ago. I made a skillet full so I could have it for a snack later if there was any left over. Truthfully, I could have eaten the whole thing and probably should have but I had a meeting to go to so I didn’t have time. 

Fennel, Ham, Parsley, Broccoli, Onion, Purple Sweet Potato

Fennel, Ham, Parsley, Broccoli, Onion, Purple Sweet Potato

 

So here is the recipe for this specific hash. If you have not signed up for my newsletter yet you can get a good hash recipe in my 4 week gut healing program for free when you sign up. 

 

1 small onion, chopped

1 small stalk broccoli, chopped

1/2 a med bulb of fennel, chopped

1-1 1/2 purple sweet potato, cut in to half moons (also called Japanese purple sweet potato)

small handful of parsley, chopped

1 T lard, coconut oil or butter

 

 

Heat a large cast iron skillet over medium heat. Add fat of choice. Let melt in pan and then add sweet potato and fennel.

After the fat is hot in the skillet add the potatoes and fennel. 

After the fat is hot in the skillet add the potatoes and fennel. 

Season with salt and pepper if desired. Stir and cover. Reduce heat to med low. Let cook covered for about 10 minutes. This will soften the potatoes and fennel quicker. 

Cover the potatoes so they can soften quicker or cook through quicker. 

Cover the potatoes so they can soften quicker or cook through quicker. 


Remove lid and add broccoli and onions and increase heat to medium. Stir frequently and add more fat if you need to. 

 Once the onions and broccoli are almost done add the leftover ham and parsley and stir until heated through. 

I added the parsley after I took this photo. 

I added the parsley after I took this photo. 

Like I said earlier this is enough for one hungry person. 

When making hash you can think outside the box and use anything you have. I try to make extra veggies for dinner so I have lots left over to use in my hash. It helps to have them already cooked because it speeds up the process. You can use cauliflower, brussels sprouts, asparagus- anything. 

If you like eggs you can add an egg at the end so it just cooks in the hash and makes almost like a sauce for the whole thing. 

What do you like to eat for breakfast?

In Health, 

Stephanie