Does Being on The Autoimmune Protocol Suck?

Autoimmune disease comes in all different forms. I have been on the autoimmune protocol for about 11 months.  I spent a whole year before going on it contemplating whether or not I should do it.

It is daunting. Overwhelming. A. Lot. Of. Work. All that cooking. I got used to it. 

I had questions. What will I be able to eat? Will I be able to go out to eat? Will I be able to have any fun? What will a social situation look like? I adapted. 

I have had such a love for food my whole life. It was my friend when there was no one else. It was love. It was comfort. It was my everything. It was the way I showed love or that I cared about someone. I cooked for them. I baked. I loved to bake. Bread, cake, cookies, brownies, muffins, more bread, more cake. What my kids didn’t eat I did. I love sweet things. I love chocolate. I loved sugar. None of this is allowed on the autoimmune protocol. So, you bet, I took a long damn time to decide to do this knowing what I would have to further cut from my diet. We can be positive and say, “Look at all the good stuff you CAN have.” Well. You can have a lot of stuff. Lots of vegetables. Veggies up the wazoo. You can have beef heart! And Liver! Yum! Do you hear the sarcasm? When 39 years of your life is consuming the Standard American Diet (SAD), this feels like kind of a big deal. Especially if you have emotional ties to food. 

I know I am supposed to be eating those nutrient dense offal things. I am not because I can’t get past the idea of what it is. The texture even. Gah! No thanks. 

When I did this. I was all in with what needed to be restricted. But I was not adding in any offal. So I didn’t and you know what? I still felt really good. My thyroid numbers got better. Then, as I started to feel better I added some foods back in. Not in the “proper” way but in a way that worked for me which was like this: You put pepper on that meat? Okay. Let’s see if I have a reaction to it…. No reaction. Okay. Pepper seems to work.  

One day in August I made plantain brownies with carob. The recipe called for 2 eggs. I ate half the pan in about 12 hours and had a major reaction but it wasn’t how I expected. Not even 12 hours in to eating those brownies did I become so irritable that I could not even stand myself. I couldn’t believe it. I was raging. My poor kids. So, no eggs for me. I reinforced that idea when I mistakenly ate some gluten free crackers that had egg yolks (no wonder they were so good) as a snack before bed and the next day became increasingly irritable. That really bums me out. I liked eggs. I know that I dot’ want to live life in a state of constant rage though so I am willing to cut them out. I am not happy about it. Don’t get me wrong. I am actually a little pissed. I have a pity party every so often and do the whole “why me?” thing but then I let it go. The more I do that the worse it gets. 

Now it is 11 months in and I have let some things slip. I have a vegan gluten free bread every so often and some Mary’s Gone Crackers crackers on occasion. They don’t seem to wreck my digestion and if I don’t eat them every day it seems to be fine. 

I have decided that if I am so restrictive with my diet, I am unhappy. I do my very best most of the time and on occasion I do enjoy something off the protocol and I don’t feel bad for it. I still always eat gluten free but occasionally have some dairy. Dairy and I don’t get along so if I have it, it is usually just a tiny bit. Like a lick of ice cream or a dab of butter. I definitely feel better when I stick closer to the protocol. I have not reintroduced peppers or eggplant but have done well with some of the nightshade spices like chili powder. I am not so sure on tomatoes though. I have to do a "real" reintro to know for sure. That would mean just eating tomato instead of adding tomato in to a recipe and wondering if that is what has caused the issue. I'm not very diligent about doing a proper reintro of a food. I let life get in the way. 

The real killer for me is sugar. I am addicted and I have intense cravings which are related to a yeast overgrowth which I am working on killing off. Too much sugar has resulted in me having to deal with psoriasis and this last go round with it gave me two new patches to deal with. Needless to say I got really mad when these popped up. I first got mad at myself for eating stuff I know is bad for me and then I got mad that I just can’t be normal. That is the most frustrating part for me. I just want to be like every one else sometimes and I can’t. When I look back on my life though it seems like I never have been able to be like every one else. When I try to be I find Idon’t feel like myself. So I have come to realize that my path is to take the road less traveled and see what I find. For me that is this new life of stress management, sleeping when I need to and eating so that I don’t continue to stay sick. Being well means different things for different people and my mission is to help you figure out what well means for you. 

What do you do that makes you feel good?

Seven Things You Can Do To Keep Hashimoto's (and Autoimmunity in General) In Check

Thyroid problems, especially Hashimoto’s, are not just a  problem with your thyroid. 

What this means is that the issue doesn’t just exist in your thyroid. Autoimmune thyroid problems are an issue of many systems within the body.  Most people diagnosed with hypothyroidism probably also have Hashimoto’s and many of those people could be undiagnosed. 

Have you gone to the doctor with this nagging feeling that something just isn’t right only to be told it is all in your head and that you are fine, or worse, been offered antidepressants? Or have you had a doctor tell you that you are just too sensitive? I remember crying in my doctors office about how I just didn't feel right and she without hesitation gave me a prescription for antidepressants. I took one and then got rid of the bottle knowing full well that depression was not my problem. 

Autoimmune disease affects your gut, your endocrine system, your hormone balance, your brain, your immune system, every system in your body. Your thyroid runs the show but if the body systems are off you will have a trickle down effect to the rest of the body. 

There is no magic pill or quick fix for any health issue but especially when it comes to Hashimoto’s and autoimmune disease in general. It has taken some time for your body to manifest symptoms of disease and it also takes some time for the body to heal. Plus, everyone is different so we have to figure out what your triggers are before you can see real change in your health. 

There is no one size fits all program to fix the masses.

Also, with autoimmune disease it is about managing your symptoms because fixing them is probably not an option. Once you have an autoimmune disease you will always have it. 

There is hope. 

You can manage your symptoms and feel great again. 

In order to solve your complicated puzzle of autoimmunity you cannot just throw supplements at the issue. You need to back way up and figure out where the issue started. 

  • Is your brain getting or sending the right signals?
    • Maybe the signal is lost between where it starts in the brain and getting to your thyroid so your thyroid is confused. 
  • Is there inflammation within the body?
    • Inflammation affects the brain. 
  • Do you have intestinal permeability (leaky gut)?
    • Having leaky gut will affect brain function. 

Where in the world do you start?

A good clean diet is a great place to start. There are things your thyroid needs for optimal function like iron, iodine, selenium, zinc and a few others. Getting these micronutrients from your diet is a great place to start. Eating fresh, whole foods from the cleanest available source is your first best bet. It is the best way to support not only your thyroid but your overall health in general. 

You also want to think about things like: 

  • stress
  • inflammation
  • radiation
  • too much fluoride in your diet
  • toxins from the environment, food and beauty products

All of these things play a role in contributing to leaky gut which leads to inflammation and is a major player in autoimmune diseases. 

When you have intestinal permeability or leaky gut, you have undigested proteins getting in to your blood stream leading to inflammation. Nutritionally you can support your gut with things like aloe from the whole leaf or inner filet (Lily of the Desert is a good brand), bone broth and probiotics. 

You can take probiotics or you can eat fermented foods or both might be right for you. It takes some time to figure out what is right for you both nutritionally and supplementally. Sometimes you need a specific strain and you need to make sure you are buying high quality probiotics. 

Consuming some kind of fermented food like kombucha, homemade yogurt, sauerkraut, kimchi or other fermented veggies with each meal are a great source of probiotics. All of these things can easily be made at home but also can be store bought if making stuff like this is not your thing. Kombucha is best homemade though because you can avoid all the sugar that is in the store bought brands. 

We are overloaded with toxins on a daily basis through pollution, chemicals in our food and chemicals we put on our skin. Everything from the air we breath to the shampoo we use or the perfume you put on everyday and the pesticides on the foods you eat have to be detoxified by the liver. Taking measures to make sure our body is able to detoxify properly is a really good idea.  

You can help your bodies detoxification processes by consuming things like cilantro, lemon (juice and peel), green tea and turmeric are all ways to naturally boost your livers ability to detoxify. 

You also need to figure out which foods could be aggravating the inflammation in your body. 

The inflammation that foods cause can be so overwhelming to your immune system that things like your thyroid gland are being attacked and damaged. You could already be eating a gluten free diet but maybe dairy is causing problems and you don’t realize it is the dairy that is the problem. Or you could be consuming nuts that are not sitting well with your system and those could be causing inflammation.  

Doing an elimination diet for a month is a great start to figuring out what foods are causing a problem. It is also a really cheap alternative to lab tests and works just as well or sometimes better. 

What is an elimination diet?

Basically you are removing the seven biggest allergens in the diet for that 4 week period. The big seven are gluten, dairy, sugar, soy, eggs, peanuts and corn. If you see an improvement in your symptoms you can carefully add back foods one at a time to see which foods may be triggering your symptoms. You have to be a bit of a food detective here. Keep a food journal of foods you are eating and how you feel and read labels on your packaged foods. Add a food back to your diet every 2 days or so eating the food you are testing out at least twice in the same day if not more. This will give your body the opportunity to react within 12 hours of consuming it.  When you sign up for my newsletter you get a free four week gut healing meal plan with recipes that is free of all the above mentioned allergens. 

The big things to remember here are: 

  • There is no quick fix to autoimmune problems or health problems in general
  • You need to start by cleaning up your diet
  • Heal your gut through diet changes and the specific foods mentioned
  • Clear your body of toxins and clean up your toxic environment
  • Get probiotics in your system
  • Find those trigger foods that set off your immune system
  • Don’t give up hope!

Working with a practitioner that gets "it" is key. You need to find the cause, not just put a bandaid on the problem. I know Hashimoto's because I have Hashimoto's. I want you to feel well again!

In Health,

Stephanie

The Three Biggest Factors That Influence Good Sleep

For many years I had a love hate relationship with sleep. I wanted to sleep through the night but just was not able to. First it was newborn babies- while they are just about the best thing in the world to have, they are a sure fire way to make sure you don’t get much sleep at all. Sleeping has always been one of my favorite things to do. Having babies really messed that up for me. Once they slept through the night I was back to my blessed eight hours a night and happy once again until there was some sort of stressful situation. I don’t manage stress well- it takes some real practice on my part. When I don’t manage stress well I don’t sleep well. When I was working, managing 3 kids and having a husband that traveled a lot while going through my nutrition program I was having regular, nightly, nightmares. Waking up with a racing heart and having to take about 2 hours to fall back asleep. That on top of sleeping with someone who snores meant I did what ever it took to get good sleep aside from taking sleeping pills. I was a complete bear to be around and what little sleep I was getting affected my ability to learn. I had to read things several times for them to stick and my health really declined. 

What role does sleep play in Autoimmune Disease?   

SLEEP IS HUGELY IMPORTANT!

  • Sleep is huge in regulating cortisol which is key to stress management
  • Sleep is huge in helping the body detoxify
  • Sleep is huge in allowing the body to heal itself

Circadian Rhythms: both sleeping and being awake are circadian rhythms. A circadian rhythym is a repeatable 24 hour process. We evolved with a cycle revolving around the 24 hours in a day. Our bodies are adapted to to they cycle. 

This cycle influences behaviors at specific times of the day

  • when you wake up
  • when you get tired
  • when you are hungry
  • how cold or hot you feel
  • the growth of cells and cell repair

You have cells in your retina that respond to light. Not only the ones that help you actually see but there are cells that affect your internal clock. There are cells in the brain that work with the cycle of your environment (when it gets light and dark). Staying on your electronic devices after the sun goes down, watching television or even having a light on at night can tell your brain that it is not time to go to sleep yet. So while your body is probably very ready for some rest and repair your brain thinks it should be awake still. Getting these rhythms off can have hormone levels higher during the night and lower during the day. It can explain bouts of lower energy, feeling groggy in the morning, etc.  All of this can lead to high blood pressure, obesity, increased risk for heart disease and diabetes, cancer, inflammation and autoimmune disease. 

If you have an autoimmune disease you can be certain that sleep or lack thereof plays an important role in how well you are doing.  It can be the cause of an issue or a contributing factor in your health or the worsening of it. Having your clock be off basically leads to inflammation.

Having autoimmune issues such as rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia or chronic fatigue feeds in to the vicious cycle of sleep. A little bit of pain can disrupt your sleep and the poor sleep increases your pain. If you have brain fog or have trouble concentrating it can be because your body is working hard to fight off infection. Certain immune cells will actually make you feel tired. 

You may feel tired but your sleep quality is not great which again, feeds in to the vicious cycle. 

There is a lot to learn in the scientific field of sleep. One thing science knows for sure is that sleep helps you process all that you did during the day and getting your body and brain ready for doing what it needs to do the following day. If you are not getting the sleep you need at night you are keeping your body from being able to process all that happens in a day and get you ready for the day to come. 

Not getting enough sleep compromise your behavior leading to accidents, lower coordination, decreased reaction to things and bad balance. Several studies  at Stanford University show that having more sleep time or just more time in bed leads to better accuracy and performance in a sport. All positive benefits. 

There are three factors that make a difference when it comes to the sleep you are getting: 

When are you sleeping?

  • do you go to sleep around the same time every night? Having a regularly scheduled bedtime and sticking to it the best you can allows for your body to establish the proper rhythm for good health. Binge watching Orange is the New Black on Netflix until midnight is just what you don’t want to do. Just say no to one more episode. Why is that so darn hard to do? It is so very important to your health to learn to say no. That episode will be there tomorrow. 

How long are you sleeping?

  • Are you getting at least eight hours a night?

Is your sleep restorative?

making sure you get good quality sleep means your body can repair itself. If you are constantly stressed you will be sure that your body will be awake for at least some portion of the time you should be sleeping. If you don’t manage your blood sugar you can be woken in the night by cortisol as it tries to help manage your blood sugar. 

  • Are you waking up in the middle of the night? Is your room too hot or too noisy?
  • Getting outside and exposing yourself to the light for at least 30 minutes and doing some sort of activity play a role in your quality of sleep. Indoor light at night will change your circadian rhythms if you don’t do this. The great part is, it doesn’t have to be 30 minutes all at once, it can be 30 minutes total. 

What can you do to ensure your sleep quality is better?

  • Manage your stress through exercise, meditation or even therapy.
  • Get amber light bulbs- they filter out the blue light that tricks your brain in to thinking it is daytime. 
  • Make sure your room is void of any type of light. Get black out curtains if you know you need complete darkness to sleep well.  You could also get a sleep mask which would be a heck of a lot cheaper than black out curtains. 
  • Wake up without an alarm clock if you can. It is best to let your body wake up when it is ready. If you are getting optimal sleep, you probably won’t need it. This means going to bed on time and the earlier the better. 
  • You can wear blue blocking glasses to watch television in the evening or for looking at an electronic device. You can find them inexpensively on Amazon.com. You can also install something on your computer called f.lux which will gradually remove the blue light from the screen as it gets darker outside. 

The important thing to take away is to know that having good sleep is good for your health. Try changing up what you do for two to three weeks and see if you notice a difference in how you feel and how well you perform during the day. 

Tell me in the comments below what kind of sleep issues you struggle with. 

Sleep well. 

In health, 

Stephanie 

 

5 Things That Negatively Affect The Health of Your Thyroid

 

There are lots of things that affect our health everyday in both positive and negative ways. It is important when you have thyroid problems to pay particular attention to your health and well being so that you can remain healthy. Sometimes it seems kind of, well, crappy that those of us with thyroid issues and particularly autoimmune thyroid issues have to be extra careful with our very sensitive selves. You know, it is what it is right? All we can do is carry on paying extra attention to the following things. 

Chronic Stress: Living in a constant or almost constant state of stress will make your pituitary gland tired so it can’t do its job which is to signal the thyroid to release enough TSH (Thyroid Stimulating Hormone) to stimulate the thyroid to do its job. Your thyroid could be working just fine but if it is not being told what to do by the pituitary gland because of all the stress you encounter day in and day out it will look like your thyroid is malfunctioning. 

What is chronic stress?

Things like being super busy all the time, no time for rest or fun. No exercise to relieve that    stress. Chronic stress is consuming a Standard American Diet high is processed foods, fast foods, seed oils and sugar. Consuming high amounts of caffeine on a daily basis can wear out your adrenal glands leading to adrenal fatigue (lots of things can do this, I am just pointing my finger at caffeine which is one way to wear out your adrenals). 

Having too much cortisol in your system keeps the body from converting all the T4 it needs to into T3 which is what your body uses. It also results in your cells keeping the thyroid hormones from entering when they need to.

What causes your body to make too much cortisol besides chronic stress?

Things like out of balance blood sugar and adrenal fatigue are the two big ones. They really go hand in hand because if your blood sugar is constantly out of balance your adrenals are going to be worn out. The adrenal glands play a major role in regulating your blood sugar. Not only is cortisol released when you are under physical and emotional stress but also when your blood sugar is low and it is not supported by a hormone called glucagon. Glucagon’s job is to keep your blood sugar stable between meals. If you have eaten a high sugar meal or a treat high in sugar, glucagon will be busy helping manage your blood sugar crash. Cortisol will have to step in to help stabilize your blood sugar levels. Cortisol also helps manage inflammation and sugar is a contributor to inflammation. If your body can’t keep your blood sugar stable, your digestive system won’t work the way it should and your immune system will be less efficient and your adrenal glands will be tired. Your adrenals glands also play a major role in hormone balance but that is a huge subject in and of itself!

Chronic Inflammation and infections are another cause of poor thyroid health. Inflammation and infections cause damage to the cell membranes which have their part in converting T4 to T3. When you have chronic inflammation (which you will have if you have blood sugar regulation issues) you also have free radical damage to your cell walls. When the cell walls are damaged the conversion of T4 to T3 doesn’t happen the way it is supposed to. 

Your Digestive Health Maintaining stable blood sugar is also important for keeping your gut healthy as well. Keeping your thyroid healthy depends on a healthy gut. You also need a healthy balance of gut flora or bacteria. Having the right kinds and amounts of bacteria in your gut play a crucial role in thyroid health. Some bacteria are responsible for converting T4 to T3. When you have more bad bacteria than good, your thyroid may not function well.

If you are not making enough stomach acid (a common problem in hypothyroidism), food will sit in your stomach not digesting. It will become rancid and eventually will be forced into the upper part of your small intestine when you consume your next meal. The problem with this is that what is leaving your stomach will be partially undigested and will not be quite acidic enough to trigger the rest of the digestive process. Fats won’t be emulsified and nutrients won’t be absorbed. This mess of partially undigested food will move slowly through the gastrointestinal tract (GI Tract) causing inflammation and eventually leaky gut (increased intestinal permeability). When fats are not emulsified or digested properly your body cannot use them and they end up leaving your body in your stool. Have you ever noticed greasy or shiny stools before? This is a sign you are not digesting your fats because that greasy stool is undigested fats leaving your body. Your thyroid hormones are fat soluble hormones and need fats to do their job. Your cells need fats to remain healthy enough to accept those hormones when they are being delivered. 

Fatty Acid Deficiency. We talked a bit about this earlier (greasy stools). All of your hormone production depends on your ability to digest those healthy fats from your diet. Essential Fatty Acids help your cells communicate. They have nutrients your hormones need and your brain depends on them to function properly. If you consume a large amount of processed foods there is a good chance you may be deficient in fatty acids even if your digestion is working well. If you don’t have a gallbladder you will need to supplement with Bile Salts for the rest of your life to help your body digest the fat you consume. If your body isn’t using the fats you are eating then your gallbladder can become sluggish and your liver won’t be able to detox things like your hormones the way it should. It is said that the ratio of Omega 6 Fatty Acids to Omega 3 Fatty Acids should be around 3:1. If you eat the Standard American Diet of processed foods, fast foods and seed oils you are probably getting much more than the 3:1 ratio. It is more like 25:1. This in and of itself can be inflammatory to your whole body. Taking an Essential Fatty Acid supplement like a high quality fish oil can help you as long as you are digesting it. 

We all have to start somewhere on our path to health and wellness. Nutritional therapy is a great way to get a kick start to your health or a reboot in to wellness. Contact me for help if you think you might need it. Together we can make a plan of success to get you out of the woods and clear about your own health!

Comment below and tell me what you have done in the last year to make positive changes in your health or something that you really need to work on. I can't wait to hear from you. 

In Health, 

Stephanie

 

Five things you need to know when you have Hypothyroidism

Having hypothryoidism can lead to nutrient deficiencies.  When you are hypothyroid, your metabolism is slowed down. Your digestion is slowed down and so is nutrient extraction and absorption. This means your body can't get what it needs from the food you are eating. Having a hypothryroid can be frustrating but it doesn't have to take over your life. Below are some very important things to know about living with a hypothyroid and what you can do to live optimally, whatever that is for you. 

1. That cold weather (or even a breeze) that makes you feel really cold is due to less thyroid hormone getting where it needs to. This also means hormones can’t be processed properly and other things are affected, like how well a cut heals.

2. You probably don’t make enough stomach acid to digest your food properly which means you are not getting the nutrients needed to thrive. Don’t have much energy? Maybe you are not digesting your meals. This leads to a whole host of issues including intestinal permeability or leaky gut. Lack of stomach acid (HCl) also means proteins are not being digested along with iron, zinc and B12. One symptom of low stomach acid is HEARTBURN. Don’t feel like eating when you get up in the morning? Could be you have not digested your evening meal yet. 

3. You probably have stressed Adrenals. Adrenal fatigue is when your adrenals, located just above your kidneys, work overtime most of the time and end up leaving you dizzy when you stand up quickly, with lower than normal blood pressure or require the use of sunglasses when you go outside. They are just plain worn out. 

4. Your liver might not be working properly. If your liver can't do all the things it is supposed to, you may not be making enough bile or adequate bile to digest fats. Fats like the essential fatty acids in fish oils are important for managing inflammation in the body. 

5. You are more likely to have Celiac Disease than the average person and most assuredly, if not Celiac Disease, you are probably gluten intolerant. You are more likely to be unable to tolerate dairy products, eggs and soy as well. 

Here is what you can do about it.

1. Make sure you have found a doctor or naturopath who will test you for not only TSH but Free T4, Free T3, Reverse T3, TPO Antibodies and Thryoglobulin Antibodies. It is not only important that they test you for those but that they know how to interpret the results. 

2. Get food intolerance testing or use and elimination diet to figure out what foods are negatively affecting you. The best way to find out what foods are not working for you (causing inflammation) is to do an elimination diet.  If you have signed up for my newsletter you will be set with 4 weeks of meals and recipes to get you off to a good start in lowering inflammation and figuring out which foods are your kryptonite. 

3. Have your Vitamin D levels checked and monitored. 

4. Support your adrenals with things like a pinch of sea salt in your water, adrenal adaptogens (you really should be in the care of practitioner before taking any supplementation), and managing your blood sugar (like cutting out sugar completely for a time period to give your body systems a break). Another great way to support your adrenals is to manage your stress. 

5. Be checked for infections with a stool test or be tested to see if you have developed antibodies to any virus or parasite. 

6. Do a simple test with Hydrochloric Acid to see how much stomach acid you need to take with each meal. OR you can take digestive bitters, apple cider vinegar or lemon juice before meals (although you might need more than that to get you started). 

7. You could be lacking in certain nutrients that are needed for your thyroid to function properly. According to Izabella Wentz, The thyroid pharmacist, it is very common for people to be deficient in Selenium, iron, vitamins A & E, B vitamins and a few others. You may require supplementation but again I would work with a practitioner before supplementing yourself. 

8. Have your Ferritin levels checked. You need ferritin to transport T3 to the cells. If you are losing your hair even with stable thyroid levels, it could be that you are low in ferritin. 

9. Take a high quality probiotic and eat fermented foods every day. If you have ever been on antibiotics you probably have an imbalance of bacteria in your gut and taking probiotics can help. Eating fermented foods is a much cheaper and fun way to get your probiotics in. Things like sauerkraut and homemade yogurt are great sources of fermented foods. 

It is very important, as I stated before that you don’t put yourself on a supplementation program but that you consult a health practitioner first. When you take the Nutritional Assessment Questionnaire through me we will be able to determine just where your body needs the most support.  The information provided here is for informational purposes only and should not be taken as medical advice. I do not diagnose or treat disease but help you find balance so your body can find balance too. Sometimes it is about meeting you where you are at. Baby steps.

Feel free to contact me with any questions. Also, be sure to sign up for my newsletter. I just sent another Breakfast Hash recipe only for my subscribers. 

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

20 Ways to Tell Your Blood Sugar Needs Balancing

The regulation of our blood sugar is so important to our adrenal health. The two things really go hand in hand. If blood sugar regulation is not working well then you cannot achieve health. It is THAT important. Blood sugar dysregulation leads to oxidative stress. Basically what this means is that there is more free radical damage in our bodies because we don’t have enough anti oxidants to neutralize the free radicals created in our body. It also leads to something called glycation which is when proteins in your body become sugared over and can’t communicate with other cells in your body. Blood sugar dysregulation also messes with the energy output in your cells. Your cells create energy with glucose which is a form of sugar. Our body is continually monitoring the levels of glucose in our bloodstream to make sure it stays balanced. Having too much or too little triggers hormones to be released to keep the glucose levels normal.  We were designed to use unrefined carbohydrates as well as quality fats and proteins as our best sources of fuel. We are not designed to run on carbohydrates alone, especially refined and processed ones. 

 

So how do you know if you have some issues with blood sugar imbalance?

  1. You crave sweets
  2. You wake up soon after falling asleep and have a hard time getting back to sleep
  3. You have binge type eating patterns
  4. You have an appetite that won’t quit
  5. You get irritable, jittery or hangry
  6. You get headaches that temporarily feel better after eating
  7. You crave coffee or sugar in the afternoon
  8. You are sleepy in the afternoon
  9. You get shaky if you miss a meal or eat later than normal
  10. You have a family history of diabetes
  11. You are thirsty a lot
  12. You have to pee a lot
  13. You crave bread, pasta or other refined grains
  14. You have poor concentration
  15. You have night sweats
  16. You struggle to lose weight even though you are eating a low fat diet
  17. You are frequently tired
  18. You get a boost of energy from eating
  19. You have anxiety or panic attacks
  20. You have spikes and dips in your energy levels throughout the day

If any one of these describes you then you are most certainly assured to have some issues with your blood sugar and probably your adrenals too. You see, the main organs involved in your blood sugar regulation are the Pancreas, the Liver and the Adrenal Glands. They each have a very important role in blood sugar. If they are constantly busy managing your blood sugar because you ate too many cookies or a huge bowl of ice cream or a box of crackers at work then they can’t do all the other things they need to do in a day, in a moment to keep you alive. 

Refined sugar is a recent invention compared to how long man has been around. We only have one hormone that lowers blood sugar and that is insulin. It wasn’t supposed to have the job of lowering blood sugar but to bring glucose to the cells.  The hormones cortisol, epinephrine (or adrenaline) and glucagon are all there to raise our blood sugar when needed.  It used to be that is what we needed- to raise blood sugar so that our brain, nerves and red blood cells got the glucose they needed. Today, we overload our bodies with sugar at around 200 pounds per person per year. 

So why do we love it so much?

Well frankly, sugar makes us feel good. It literally raises your endorphins but it also crashes and makes you feel worse after a short time. This is called the blood sugar roller coaster. It is addictive. So addictive in fact that in one study, mice chose sugar over cocaine. 

Our taste buds love it but our bodies do not. It is really hard on your body to be managing your blood sugar day in and day out. Your pancreas releases the hormone insulin which is just supposed to transport glucose to your cells from your blood so that it can be used for energy. When you overwhelm your body with sugar the pancreas will eventually wear out which leads to things like insulin resistance and then type II diabetes. Your adrenal glands will be exhausted from having to deal with managing blood sugar on top of all the other stressors in your life such as your emotional stressors, not sleeping or your every day frustrating commute to work. It will also depress your immune system. Your liver can end up having a hard time converting stored glucose back in to glucose for energy and you can end up with a fatty liver. 

You can develop something called insulin resistance where your cells decide they have had enough of insulin knocking at their door to deliver them some glucose and they just don’t answer the door anymore. This is when your blood sugar levels will be higher on a blood test.  You could have insulin resistance if you are tired all the time, can’t lose weight, you have joint problems, are depressed, have thyroid or fertility issues. 

Insulin resistance has a huge impact on female hormone issues like Polycystic Ovary Syndrome, irregular periods and PMS. 

Consuming large amounts of sugar can mean you are what we call a sugar burner. This means your body is able to burn sugar or glucose rather than fat for energy. This here is key to weight loss for many people and if you have weight gain due to hypothyroidsim or Hashimoto’s, converting from a sugar burner to a fat burner can be ultra helpful in dropping some of those pesky pounds. Other signs you are a sugar burner are: 

  •     you are less satisfied after eating
  •     you are hungry all the time
  •     you can’t use fat for energy
  •     you crave carbohydrates and you eat them 

Reducing the amount of sugar you consume on a daily basis can turn this around and you can teach your body how to burn fat for energy.  All that extra sugar you have consumed in a day that your cells can’t use gets stored as fat. You can teach your body how to use it. 

Let’s talk more about how the adrenal glands and your adrenal health is affected by blood sugar imbalances. 

If you have Hashimoto’s you may not tolerate carbohydrates as well as other folks. Your blood sugar can rise quickly after eating carbs which can lead to too much insulin being released which can end up causing low blood sugar and make you feel anxious, nervous and tired. This also stresses your adrenal glands because cortisol is released when your adrenals are working overtime. Every time your blood sugar gets low epinephrine is released to help restore it to normal levels.  This can also mess with your immune system. 

Here are some general symptoms of low blood sugar: 

  •     brain fog
  •     blurred vision
  •     hard time sleeping
  •     heart palpitations
  •     fatigue
  •     dizziness
  •     headaches
  •     depression
  •     irritability
  •     cravings for sugar
  •     hunger

How do you avoid blood sugar imbalances?

Look at your diet. Look at your lifestyle. 

Do you eat a large amount of refined carbohydrates in the form of breads or cereals for breakfast? Do you skip breakfast? Do you eat things like pasta salad or a sandwich for lunch? Do you eat all the “good for you” yogurt you see in the grocery store? Have a look at the sugar content of your standard grocery store yogurt. It is pretty high. 

Are you running all the time with no time for rest and relaxation? 

 

Here are some generally good ideas for balancing your blood sugar:

  1. Have some protein at every meal (see this post for learning all about protein)
  2. When you first start to balance your blood sugar, eating more often is better- try having a snack between breakfast, lunch and dinner. Just something small like a few nuts or a piece of cheese
  3. Don’t have any sugar before bed
  4. Keep your caffeine intake to a minimum (really would be a good idea to take it out of your diet while you balance your blood sugar)
  5. Don’t eat any grains or dairy 
  6. Eat breakfast within an hour of getting up
  7. Avoid all sweeteners including artificial ones (limit your fruits to 1 serving a day at most)
  8. Keep the carbs to a minimum eating only complex carbs
  9. Consume high quality healthy fats

You would want to do this for about two weeks and then slowly add back things like full fat dairy and continuing to limit grains if you tolerate them. If you have Hashimoto’s you will want eliminate gluten containing grains for good. Eventually you may be able to tolerate some other grains once in awhile. I would not recommend switching your glutenful products with gluten free ones. They will react the same in your body as far as blood sugar is concerned.  Staying low carb is not beneficial for everyone. I find I have much more energy when I consume more starchy carbs regularly like sweet potatoes and veggies. I feel my best when consuming a significant amount of veggies daily. If you feel exhausted after awhile of being low carb it is a sign you will do better with more complex carbs in your diet and that is okay. 

You can try this on your own or you can come to me for help. I have a special plan just to convert you from a sugar burner to a fat burner that helps keep your blood sugar balanced which will help in the recovery of your adrenals as well.  Send me an email and we can chat about it!

Thanks so much for reading. I sincerely appreciate your time. Please tell me in the comments what symptoms of imbalanced blood sugar you might have. I look forward to hearing from you. 

In health, 

Stephanie

 

Beat Brain Fog Now!!

If you have hypothyroidism or Hashimoto’s you probably have had some experience with brain fog. It is one  of those things that make you think you might be a little crazy sometimes. Do you ever ask yourself, “What is wrong with me? Why can’t I remember anything?”. 

Here is what people are saying about what brain fog feels like for them: 

“Brain fog means not being able to remember things like a friend's name or what I went to the store for when I only needed two things. I completely forget what I was about to say and what I was talking about. I read a book and the next day can't remember what it was about or who the characters were. I can't concentrate. I'm 45 years old and don't have Alzheimer’s.”

“Knowing what word I want to say and either nothing comes out or the wrong word comes out.”

 “I used to be very articulate and now I also know what word I want, but I can't grab onto it.”

“Slow thinking, can't quite get the words, lose focus, forget what I was doing, leave the stove on...feels like Alzheimer’s.”

“Not being able to come up with simple words to complete my sentences (ones that were familiar, yet my brain couldn't come up with them). My 2-year old was completing my sentences.”

“Feels like your thinking and trying to remembering through oatmeal or sludge.”

“Like trying to muddle through pea soup. Knowing that there is something you need to retrieve from your brain but you just can't quite get to it.”

“Walking through life in a cloud. Everything feels fuzzy and I am very forgetful. We just checked out of a hotel today and I left all of my jewelry in a drawer. It didn't come to me until I felt my neck and realized something was missing several hours later.”

“I had a very hard time following a conversation, felt like I was losing my mind. Couldn't remember things, but mostly felt completely confused! Very scary.”

“Saying a word close in sound but nowhere close in meaning from the one I am looking for. Feeling sleepy like Dorothy in the poppy field.”

“Not knowing where you are going, what you are doing, feeling like you can't connect your brain to your thoughts. People talk to you and you don't know what they said. Having issues with regular things, like driving or cooking.”

“I just can't think straight. I get things mixed up, start to tell a joke or story and can't remember how it goes, I read something but can't comprehend what I'm reading. My eyes feel very heavy and tired and I have a heavy feeling in my forehead and behind my eyes. Even the simplest tasks take too much mental effort.”

“I feel disconnected. I'm in there somewhere but I just can't grasp it and hold on. I can't get my mind to stay focused nor remember anything during brain fog spells (which is usually always). It's the feeling you get when you're running on very little sleep.”

“Saying crazy things like: go mow your bedroom floor. I meant vacuum!!!”

“A total disconnect from how you would normally be articulate... The thought process and words just don't come out as planned..an all day feeling like you haven't slept in days.. forgetful and confused at times.”

“Like I couldn't get my brain to engage...randomly losing words, thinking through mud, my critical thinking skills were completely gone. Definitely forgetful and confused.”

“Everything being slow to process is a good description. And working too hard mentally to do easy things.”

“I cant tell you what I did this morning let alone last week. I can be in the middle of a conversation and forget what we were talking about. I can be in the middle of a sentence and stop dead because I cant remember the next word I need.”

“Very lethargic. Can't focus, concentrate, and feeling like I can't fully wake up.” 

“You walk to a room to grab something and forget on the way what it was...you may never remember...starting a question to someone but forgetting the second half of the question before you finish saying "have you ever...uh..."?  Also just feeling dumb...like, man today is so hard! i can't remember, i can't multi task like i'm used to...it takes longer to compute and comprehend people's sentences…a feeling that you just wish you could crawl back into bed and try again tomorrow.”

“Feels like you're physically there, but can't mentally process everything that's happening. things go in one ear and dissolve completely before even having a chance to process. I often say it's like feeling "dumber" and "number" than usual.”

“For me it’s confusion. Almost like a wire shorting out.”

Does any of this sound like you? 

Brain fog can come in varying degrees and is different for everyone. Often you just feel so alone because no one understands. Right? 

What can you do about it? 

Brain fog is something you can control. Whatever it looks like for you there are some things you can do about it. 

First of all, having a practitioner that listens to you and believes you is key. Treating your symptoms and not just your labs is also very important. 

Second of all, what you put in to your body is of utmost important. Not only your diet, but supplementation and toxins as well. 

Eating wheat and gluten makes Hashimoto’s and the symptoms that come with it much much worse.  Processed foods and foods of convenience are one of the biggest things that contribute to your symptoms getting worse or remaining terrible. The reason for this is that the structure of gluten in your body resembles that of your thyroid gland and your immune system can easily mistake the gluten proteins you consumed for the thyroid gland itself. Gluten is also one of the causes of increased intestinal permeability or leaky gut which puts your immune system on high alert. 

 

You must balance your blood sugar. How do you know if your blood sugar needs balancing? Do you crave sugar? Do you feel tired after a meal? Do you have that afternoon slump? If you answered yes to any of these questions then you probably need to have some tweaking done to your diet. Maybe you are not digesting fat well and your body is overwhelmed with carbohydrates. It is helpful to have someone analyze your diet by completing a food journal for three days to a week.  Your brain needs glucose (sugar) to run but it is the kind of glucose you give it that makes a difference. It can use the sugars in vegetables for energy too which is more beneficial to your body as a whole. 

 

You may need to repair your gut. If you have increased intestinal permeability then you more than likely have some inflammation going on in your system. Removing other inflammatory foods is a great start to gut repair.  You kind of have to be your own food detective here. You can have food sensitivity testing done but if you are on a budget, do an elimination diet like the Autoimmune Protocol and gradually add back in to your diet one food at a time until you figure out which ones you react to. If you react, you know you should not eat that food again. You may also want to take some nutritional supplementation to help your body heal. 

What is your stress level like? How are your adrenal glands? Anyone who suffers from inflammation will have adrenal stress. Taking adaptogenic herbs are often quite helpful in helping your body heal from adrenal fatigue along with getting good rest and reducing that which stresses not only your body but your mind too. Did you know your nervous system doesn’t really know the difference between physical and emotional stress. It is all stress and your hormones act the same either way. The adrenals are heavily involved in your brains chemistry. If they are busy working on inflammation or balancing your blood sugar then they cannot help your brain work properly. 

What is your digestion like? Most people that are hypothyroid or have Hashimoto’s usually are not making enough stomach acid. This is significant because if you don’t have enough stomach acid in your stomach is affects digestion through the rest of your digestive tract. You won’t be absorbing nutrients like B12, iron and calcium. You can then have inflammation or infections in your intestines. You can also become protein deficient when you don’t have enough stomach acid. If your digestion is not optimal you can be deficient in fats as well which are important for brain function and health. 

You may be having trouble detoxifying chemicals and toxins in your body. Most detoxification happens in the liver. The liver is also a player in blood sugar regulation. It cannot work to detoxify chemicals or even hormones if it is busy working on blood sugar. Take a look at the cleaning products you use. Are they “clean”? Do you use air fresheners? Hair care products and make up are full of chemicals too. It only takes about 22 second for chemicals on your skin to be absorbed in to your blood stream. All of those things need to be detoxified by your liver. 

Brain fog can be a sign that you are not getting enough nutrients and oxygen to your brain. One way to increase blood flow to the brain is to get some exercise.  You don’t have to go crazy with exercise here. Don’t start running or anything like that. Go for a walk. Regularly. Go for a bike ride. Hang out in nature. Just get moving. It may seem like the last thing you want to do but you will feel so good. Walking is healing for your adrenal glands too. You will find you start to feel better all around if you get out and move. 

Getting good sleep is super important to brain fog. If you’re not sleeping good or for at least seven to eight hours a night then you may experience regular brain fog. What can you do to help yourself sleep better?  You can make sure you are digesting your food, especially your protein. You also may not be eating enough. You will wake up if your body is in need of glucose for energy. Your melatonin production can be delayed if you expose yourself to the blue lights in computers, cell phones and televisions at night. Getting blue blocking glasses like these help if you are not willing to step away from electronics when it gets dark outside. 

Share this post with anyone you know that is suffering from brain fog or contact me today for help finding what your body needs to find balance. 

In health, 

Stephanie

Get a Flat Belly Now!!

Bloating and gas are common for a lot of people, not just folks with Hashimoto’s. They are related to what you eat and how you eat it. 

The most common causes of bloating are overeating, eating too fast and eating certain kinds of foods. 

Stuffing yourself will overwhelm your digestive system and slow things down. This can cause your dinner to sit there fermenting in your stomach and then even more so through your intestines. 

Gulping down a huge meal or even a tiny one without chewing each bite really well will mean your stomach has to work much harder to break everything down. Carbohydrates are first digested in your mouth by enzymes like salivary amylase and by the mechanical action of your teeth chewing your food. So slow down and chew each bit 20-30 times. Put the fork down in between bites. Be mindful of your meal. Savor the flavors. By doing this you are not only able to enjoy your meal but you are saving your digestive system from having to work so hard. Plus if you take more time with each bite you will feel full when you are actually full and not after its too late. The hormone leptin is what tells you you’re full. It needs time to catch up if you eat too fast and by that time you have over eaten. 

Eating lots of fat can five you that stuffed feeling too. Fat takes longer to digest than carbohydrates and protein. It is that long burning fuel our bodies love to use and it could be possible you are not digesting it properly or even at all. Fat keeps your energy stable but if you can’t digest it that doesn’t do you a whole lot of good. Signs you are not digesting your fats are when your stools float or if they have a greasy or shiny look to them. You are not digesting them if you don’t have a gallbladder either so you will need to take a supplement with bile salts every time you eat. If you have gallbladder troubles it is probably because your bile is not thin and free flowing as it should be and you can fix that with beet kvass or with a simple salad of shredded beets, carrots and dandelion greens. It is not a quick fix by any means but it is a good start. You need healthy bile to digest fats and you need good quality healthy fats to make good bile. It is a vicious cycle but one you must work to remedy if you want to see an improvement in your health. 

Remember it is not eating fat that makes you fat either, it is all that processed food and refined carbohydrates. 

If you have food intolerances or consume a lot of foods that are difficult for your body to digest you can have all kinds of bloat going on.  Not tolerating certain foods can cause things like Irritable Bowel Syndrome, eczema, migraines and bloating among other things. 

A food allergy will cause an IgE response which is when the body mistakes the food as an intruder and launches an immediate immune response. A food intolerance generates an IgG response which makes for a less severe reaction that can take days to appear so you don’t know right away which food is causing the problem. So if you have bloating, it can mean your digestive system is not happy with something you ate. It usually doesn’t take a couple of days for that to happen but it would with something like eczema. 

How do you know if you have a food intolerance?

You can pay to have IgG testing done and get an idea. You can also do a pulse test. This is where you take a resting pulse for a full one minute then you put a piece of food in your mouth you think you might be reacting too. Chew it up and let it sit on your tongue. Don’t swallow it. Let it sit there for 30 seconds or so and then take your pulse again for a full one minute. If your pulse increases by more than 6 beats in that second pulse you know there may be an issue with that food. The best way, in my opinion, to find out what foods you do not tolerate is to eliminate the suspects from your diet for at least one month. Then add a potential offender back in to your diet for a day. Eat a whole bunch of it and wait four days. If you notice any difference in your digestion or how you feel, then you know that food is not something you should consume. Do this with another new food after the four days are up and once things have gotten back to normal and see how your body reacts. 

You can also take a look at other foods like beans, sprouts, cabbage and artificial sweeteners like sorbitol or xylitol. Beans have indigestible sugars in them called Oligosaccharides. While they can be a good thing and feed the beneficial bacteria in your gut they can also remain undigested in the small intestine and ferment in the large intestine causing bloating and gas. Cabbage and sprouts have a similar effect due to their indigestible sugars. 

Xylitol and sorbitol are sugar alcohols which are hard for your body to digest causing bloating, gas and even diarrhea. Some people get bloated from consuming dairy products too- this is usually due to an intolerance or lack of the enzyme lactose which aids in milk digestion. 

Get rid of the bloat. 

Let the gas go. Seems simple enough. It is not always appropriate for you to be able to do that but holding it in will make your bloat worse and probably cause you some pain or discomfort. 

Take a probiotic. They are important for repopulating your gut with beneficial bacteria. You need to have a good balance of bacteria in your gut and if you have ever been on antibiotics or stressed out then your balance is quite possibly off. Don’t just take any probiotic though. You want the highest quality you can afford and the strain number should be listed on the bottle. 

Go for a walk. Waling for ab it after you eat is a good way to get things moving and aid in digestion. Plus it will give you more energy. It is just a good thing all around. 

You can also have a rise in your gas from chewing gum or sucking on hard candies and drinking carbonated beverages too quickly. 

If you are nervous you can swallow more air so try reducing your stress and anxiety by meditation. Anxiety can be strongly associated with the health of your gut so working with a qualified practitioner can be helpful along with taking probiotics. 

Do you suffer from gas and bloating? I would love to hear what works for you to get rid of the gas and bloat. Comment below and let’s talk about it. 

In health, 

Stephanie