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Eating gluten free made easy – what to avoid and what to eat

Does the idea of eating gluten free make you cringe because of the foreseeable agony it will surely cause you? You may feel short on the time you need to do it. You may not know where to begin. Or maybe you’ve tried it before and just need some fresh ideas to make it easier.

Eating gluten free doesn’t have to be a downer. And for some, it’s a must.

So read up and breathe easier – maybe literally since going gluten free may relieve your allergies like it has mine.

What foods do you need to avoid when eating gluten free?

Inhale. First, know that all wheat products contain gluten. This includes farro, kamut, barley, rye and spelt.eating gluten free gluten foods

But you will also find gluten in these other grains and ingredients: bulgur, couscous, durum, einkorn, emmer, farina, graham, matzo, semolina, wheat germ, wheat starch, some caramel color, “stabilizers,” “flavors”, “colors” and bouillon.

Unfortunately, many sauces, condiments and soups contain gluten, because it’s a thickening agent. And it’s in many lunchmeats.

Finally, because many grains are processed using the same equipment, rice or oat products may not start out with gluten in them. But after being processed on equipment used for wheat, they end up with pieces of gluten-containing wheat in them.

What in the world can you eat instead, when eating gluten free?

And exhale. While you will need to avoieating gluten freed standard wheat products and even those with “ancient grains”, you can opt for breads or crackers with the gluten-free (GF) label.

I suggest choosing products with the “GFlabel as well as the “USDA Organic” or “Non-GMO Project Verified” label. Otherwise, you may end up with certain brands that though gluten-free, may contain modified food starch and other not-so desirable ingredients.

Ditto this for sauces and condiments. And for gluten-free soups and salad dressings. In fact, consider making your own. My go-to homemade gluten-free salad dressing is a 1:1 mixture of raw, organic apple cider vinegar and organic extra virgin olive oil, salt and black pepper, whisked with a fork. I make extra and have it on hand, shaking it before each use. Add lemon, lime or other gluten-free spices as you wish.

If you eat chips, cereal or anything else made of corn, make sure they are labeled gluten-free and organic.

When baking, choose flours from other gluten-free sources including: amaranth, arrowroot, GF rice, GF oats, buckwheat, cassava, nut flours, potato, quinoa, tapioca or yucca. Find a more extensive list of options on page 50 of my book, Digested – eating healthier made easier 3 ways, as well as many more ideas of how to fill the gluten void throughout your day.

Want more ideas?

  • Boar’s Head and some other deli meats are gluten free.
  • Use large lettuce, kale or kohlrabi leaves instead of sandwich bread. Consider using zucchini or sweet potato slices (somewhat firm) for buns or noodles (with help of spiralizer).
  • Sweet potatoes became key to me, to help me fill fuller without all the grains. I didn’t use to like them, until I had them sliced and on the grill. Also try them mashed, sautéed or roasted in the oven with a little cinnamon.
  • Add other starchier vegetables such as kohlrabi and cauliflower (riced, mashed, as hummus). Eat more peas, beans and potatoes if you digest them well.
  • For an occasional gluten-free grain as a side, choose gluten-free rice or quinoa, which is technically a fruit!
  • When snacking on the run, grab some raw veggies or fruits you cut ahead of time. Grab a handful of nuts or plantain chips. Make your own paleo crackers or snack bars ahead of time or buy GF versions in stores.
  • Sweet potatoes and paleo sausage make a great breakfast. Look for a good gluten-free flour (I buy this one) for your pancake cravings, or make one of my favorites, paleo pumpkin pancakes. The pumpkin adds fiber and makes them more filling than regular pancakes!
  • Instead of your usual cereal, opt for gluten-free oats or quinoa, made even tastier with fresh fruit, cinnamon, vanilla, nuts, flax seed and so much more.

Don’t let the idea of eating gluten free freak you out! You have so many options, many of which may pleasantly surprise you.

It will take more time and some planning up front. So does building a new deck, playing a new board game, using a new TV and so on. But you are worth it. And it will become natural to you after a little practice.

Eating gluten free can open up a whole new world of foods to you. (Just Google “paleo” anything for a truckload of ideas.) Avoiding gluten may open up a new realm of health and energy for you, too. Embrace the opportunity, get creative and enjoy!


*This blog is intended for use as a source of information and should not be used as a substitute for professional medical care or advice. 

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Migraine detail – how to manage those unbearable headaches and find true migraine relief

Latch on to a priceless source of migraine relief now. You don’t have to spend a fortune on prescriptions. You won’t have serious side effects. You won’t have to miss as much work. And you can enjoy life including those noisy, silly kids, more fully.

Understand the symptoms and causes of migraine headaches

Experts have identified several types of headaches – tension, cluster, sinus, rebound and migraine.

migraine reliefWhen you experience a migraine headache, you will suffer one or more of the following symptoms:

  • throbbing pain
  • nausea or vomiting
  • blurred vision or floaters
  • sensitivity to light or sound

A migraine can last a couple of days and can leave you attached to your bed, with the pillow over your head. And some people suffer migraines several times a month. It’s no wonder they want the quickest form of migraine relief, so they can keep up with life.

Some people begin to experience migraines during childhood, while others get them later in life. Studies have named several possible triggers of migraine headaches:

  • weather or barometric pressure changes
  • hormone changes
  • skipping meals
  • caffeine
  • stress
  • too much or too little sleep
  • dehydration

Another cause you may find surprising? Food.

That’s right. If you have a food allergy or sensitivity, your symptom may not surface as hives, sneezing or itching. It might surface as a migraine headache instead.

Example? Over the past couple of years, I’ve given up most gluten, while limiting other grains, on a mission to relieve my chronic allergy and sinus issues. I’ve added lots more vegetables and removed most GMOs or other additives from my diet.

My allergies have improved, but I was getting migraines more often – a couple times each month and lasting 2 days each in 2015. I wasn’t completely laid up when I had them, but I felt miserable with pain behind my eyes, nausea and exhaustion.

Being a non-fan of medicine and its long-term effects, I use homeopathic remedies or a little ibuprofen for migraine relief. But the migraines were also getting harder to nip, and immune to these remedies.

migraine relief avoid dairyLast year, I finally decided to try giving up dairy. (Somehow, I dragged my feet more on giving up cheese than on giving up beer. I can’t always explain myself!)

As a result, last year I had just 2-3 migraines total plus a couple of other minor headaches. During most of them, a little food, sleep or ibuprofen broke the headache.

I still have headaches occasionally. But not nearly as often or as intense. I do miss cheese at times, but I sure don’t miss the headaches.

Does that mean giving up dairy is your answer for migraine relief?

I can’t say for sure that dairy caused my migraines. But it sure made me more prone to get them.

God made us each unique. So what causes or heals for me, may not cause or heal for you.

So keep in mind these common headache causers: amines, coffee, monosodium glutamate (MSG), sulfites and wheat. Other potential culprits include gluten, yeast, nitrates in deli/processed meats, chocolate, eggs, GMOs, conventional dairy products and aged cheeses, according to Dr. Axe.

That’s why, if you are looking for migraine relief, keeping a food journal for a few weeks is critical. It can help you pinpoint foods that trigger your headaches.

If you pinpoint a food related to your headache, you may need to eliminate it completely, eat less of it or try an organic version in moderation.

When you do get a headache, you can try adding other foods for migraine relief.

migraine relief ginger turmericDrink tea with turmeric and ginger, two anti-inflammatory spices, or add them to your lean meats, fish or poultry. In fact, “Head off migraines” in Health and Happiness (Lucky’s Market, November 2016) cites a study in which low doses of ginger proved to be just as effective as Imitrex, without as many side effects.

Increase your water intake. This may even help prevent migraines.

Omega-3s also decrease inflammation while controlling blood flow. Get more omega-3s by eating nuts, seeds and wild-caught fish such as salmon or sardines.

Magnesium relaxes your nerves and muscles. Good food sources of magnesium include black beans, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, figs, avocado, sweet potatoes, spinach and Swiss chard.

Found in organ meats, nuts, seeds and green leafy vegetables, vitamin B2 is also thought to provide migraine relief.

Migraines can mean messed up lifestyles for serious sufferers. Medicines may help, but wouldn’t you rather make the pain disappear naturally, without any side effects? Instead, find migraine relief by making changes to what you eat.


*This blog is intended for use as a source of information and should not be used as a substitute for professional medical care or advice. 


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Grinding down to the truth: Is coffee healthy for you?

Do you count on coffee to cure your morning brain fog? Your afternoon crash or Sunday morning hangover?

Have that cup of joe without guilt. 3 or 4 cups, in fact. New research says it’s good for you and to drink up.

But is it really good for you?

Let’s grind down the health benefits of coffee

coffee healthy or notRecent research suggests that coffee can lower your blood pressure and slow down weight gain. This may reduce your risk for Type 2 Diabetes, which is when you have elevated blood sugar levels due to insulin resistance or the inability to secrete insulin.

Coffee may also reduce your risk for liver diseases that lead to cirrhosis.

Caffeinated coffee helps prevent accidents because it stimulates your brain.

Thanks to its antioxidants from chlorogenic acids, both caffeinated and decaffeinated coffee have proven to decrease deaths resulting from heart disease, respiratory disease, stroke, diabetes and infections, according to the research.

When you grind it all out, the antioxidants in your coffee, whether caffeinated or not, help fight off disease. The caffeine may help reduce inflammation, which would in turn, help reduce disease. And the caffeine can help you feel more alert and responsive.

So yes, your beloved cup of java may help you.

But I’m not referencing any of these research articles because they are a little too pro coffee and in my opinion, too carefree about it. All things should be consumed in moderation, at most.

Let’s also admit the drawbacks of your joe

The acids in coffee can wreak havoc on your intestines, causing gas, bloating, irritated bowel syndrome, cramps or heartburn, as examples. Learn how coffee and other surprising foods can affect your digestion here.

Coffee can cause headaches or other pain in your muscles and joints.

Coffee inhibits absorption of iron in your stomach and the retention of other vital minerals, including zinc, calcium and magnesium, in your kidneys (healthambition.com).

The acrylamide formed when coffee beans are roasted at high temperatures may be cancer-causing (healthambition.com).

Caffeinated coffee is dehydrating. And it seems that many coffee drinkers fail to drink enough water as it is.

Coffee can be addictive. But when you use coffee as a stimulant, you’re stealing energy from other jobs your body should be doing, like digesting or resting, and feeding a viscous cycle of dependency and exhaustion.

And this infograph shows that the number of kids ages 12-17 who drink coffee has grown 80% since 1980. It’s the fastest growing age group amongst coffee drinkers. In a world where we’re already over medicated for ADD and ADHD, this is alarming!

Go for the joe with the most health benefits

In the November 2016 issue of Lucky’s Market’s Health & Happiness, “Coffee Buzz” shares how to select the healthiest coffee. Choose:

  • a light roast. Higher temperatures used for darker roasts reduce the chlorogenic acids and antioxidants in the coffee. If the science behind this interests you, geek out with this article.
  • Arabica coffee because it’s grown at higher elevations, which also means more chlorogenic acids.
  • a finer grind, which offers more surface area for the water to penetrate, therefore extracting more of the antioxidants.

Drink your coffee black. Most add-ins are unhealthy. And just as the milk in milk chocolate diminishes the antioxidant power of chocolate, the dairy in liquid or powdered cream reduces the antioxidants in your coffee!

And lastly, use unbleached coffee filters because the chlorine in bleached ones is also an antioxidant decreaser.

If you drink coffee, do it in moderation. Stay tuned to the latest research about it. And listen to your body. If you’re having chronic symptoms, skipping the brew may mean a healthier you.


*This blog is intended for use as a source of information and should not be used as a substitute for professional medical care or advice. 

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Food coloring matters: should you forego the foods with food dyes?

food dyes in cerealAre synthetic food dyes damaging your health and livelihood? Could they be a factor in your lack of focus? Your kid’s inability to sit still? The cancer of your dear friend?

Yes. Synthetic food dyes could be contributing to those issues and more.

What’s the connection between food dyes and behavior or cancer?

Recent studies are proving that synthetic food dyes may be linked to both our physical and mental health. Some of the health problems connected with the consumption of food dyes include:

  • hyperactivity
  • lack of concentration
  • aggressive behavior
  • tumors

The behavior issues quickly become a triple play when you’re the batting team. So not good! First you’re dealing with the distraction. Then the delay or lack of finishing the task at hand. Plus, if you’re taking a prescription medication for the issue, you’re dealing with whatever that drug may be doing to your body over the long-term, which I’m willing to bet is not good.

Granted, sometimes medication is absolutely necessary. But what if it’s the food dyes that pushed your kiddo over the edge and into that diagnosis and prescription? What if those symptoms would go away once he stopped eating and drinking the food dyes?

Now when a tumor is involved, patients are often advised to stop eating potentially carcinogenic foods. Food dyes are one of them. Why give your body even more to battle?

Then why do we have synthetic food dyes?

food dyes st pats cookiesFood dyes were created to add color to foods – so we would be more drawn to buy them and eat them. Think about it. Which cereals do kids point at first – the tan Os or rainbow of colors? The light purple popsicle made from organic grape juice or the velvet purple one shaped like a rocket? The ice cream treat with sprinkles or without?

In parts of Europe, manufacturers must put warnings about the effects of food dyes on product labels. But in the U.S., manufacturers still only have to list the food dyes in the ingredients. Common man-made food dyes may be listed as:

  • Blue #1 (Brilliant Blue, FD&C Blue No. 1)
  • Blue #2 (Indigo Carmine, FD&C Blue No. 2)
  • Citrus Red #2
  • Green 3 (Fast Green, FD&C Green No. 3)
  • Orange B
  • Red #3 (Erythrosine)
  • Red 40 (Allura Red, FD&C Red No.40)
  • Yellow 5 (Tartrazine)
  • Yellow 6 (Sunset Yellow)
  • annatto
  • caramel coloring
  • FD&C Lakes
  • artificial color

You may find these food dyes in beverages, baked goods, cereals, gelatin desserts, dessert powers, candy, gum, ice cream, maraschino cherries, pepperoncini and other jarred foods, sausage casings, pet food and personal care products such as medicines and shampoo. Note this is not a complete list. And you may be surprised at how even some brown or white foods contain food dyes as well.

What if these food dyes were never created in the first place? If only.

How do we avoid food dyes?

The good news is that you can change your shopping habits and your kids’ desires.

  1. Say goodbye to the foods with food dyes. Tell your kids the truth about the dyes  and that you only want what’s good for them and yourself (literally and figuratively). Make it a team mission to toss them out together.
  2. Shop mostly the outside aisles of the grocery store, focusing on whole foods – those foods that will rot in a few days. If you buy a few packaged goods, look for those without bright colors or at least ones with organic or non-GMO labels. (Some organic products may contain color from natural sources such as beets, beta-carotene or turmeric.)
  3. When out, opt for treats without the dyes. Think funnel cake (though the mix may have some food dye) instead of sno-cone and popcorn instead of candy.
  4. Celebrate your healthier lifestyle by finding recipes for treats without the food dyes. For St. Patrick’s Day, try these healthier recipes for green pancakes, Shamrock smoothies or green ice cream!

Ideally, foods with food dyes would be boycotted until banned, especially for kids and in schools. The food dyes only entice us to put harmful stuff into our bodies, possibly adding to our struggles while sucking away our livelihood. So be your own kind of bright and avoid the fake colors!

Read about other foods and the symptoms they cause in my blog post “Are food allergies and behaviors linked?”.


*This blog is intended for use as a source of information and should not be used as a substitute for professional medical care or advice. 

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What are the best and worst foods for spring allergies?

Are you starting to sneeze, wheeze or fight off watery eyes? St. Louis pollens haven’t popped quite yet, but some of the tree pollens are blowing up from the south and doing their thing. Do you know you can help minimize symptoms by choosing foods for the season? Read on to get familiar with the best and worst foods for spring allergies.

How are foods related to spring allergies?

Foods can impact spring allergies in 2 ways.

First, some foods are high in histamines. Histamines occur naturally in your body and trigger it to defend itself. But if you have allergies, your body is over reacting, trying to defend itself against pollens, dust, pet dander or other environworst foods for spring allergiesmental elements. So when you eat foods high in histamines on top of that, you are literally adding fuel to a fire. And this is no sing-around-the-fire-eating-s’mores campfire.

Second, some of the proteins in certain fruits and vegetables are related to those found in pollens. And if the pollens bother you, the related fruits and vegetables (especially raw) may too. When you experience “Oral Allergy Syndrome”, you typically feel itchiness in or around your mouth or throat, immediately up to a half hour later. Instincts are to avoid that food in the future, but you may need to address an allergy to the pollen it’s associated with instead.

In fact, according to this article on Mother Nature Network, up to 70% of people with pollen allergies have reactions after eating certain foods. This may include Oral Allergy Syndrome symptoms, or less obvious ones such as congestion, constipation, mood swings and more. (For a more complete list, see the “Common reaction-causing foods and symptoms” chart in my book.)

So what are the worst foods for spring allergies?

If you start sneezing, get water eyes, feel more congested or even feel more depressed this time of year as it warms up, try limiting or avoiding the worst foods for spring allergies due to high histamine content.

  • bleu cheese or other aged cheeses
  • smoked meats
  • walnuts, cashews
  • hot peppers
  • pickled or fermented foods such as sauerkraut
  • wine (because of fermented grapes and sulfites) and alcohol

Really, you should lay off these foods whenever your allergies flare up.

Plus, this may surprise you because these are otherwise healthy foods. But limit or avoid these cross-reactors to tree pollens, that is, the foods related to the proteins in tree pollens.

  • parsley
  • almonds
  • celery
  • carrots
  • tomatoes
  • apples
  • pears
  • cherries

At the very least, be mindful of these foods as we head into spring. Ideally, use a food journal to track your responses and hopefully determine whether the food or pollen is to blame for your havoc.

Then stock up on the best foods for spring allergies

Put these foods to work to help tame your allergy symptoms:

  • fresh, wild-caught fish
  • onions
  • pineapple

You may want to eat local honey early in the season as another defense strategy. This produces a similar effect to getting allergy shots. You expose your body to the coming pollens in small doses daily, trying to build a healthy immune response to them. However, if you are super reactive to tree pollens, check with your doctor first.

Also, add ginger, turmeric or cinnamon to your tea or food for their anti-inflammatory effects.

Later as summer and fall approach, check back for foods that cross-react with grass and ragweed. You may want to push that chamomile tea to the back of your cabinet!

With a better understanding of how foods can cross-react with pollens and add histamine to your system, you can embrace the best foods and avoid the worst foods for spring allergies.


*This blog is intended for use as a source of information and should not be used as a substitute for professional medical care or advice. 

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10 reasons to eat healthier that may surprise you!

reasons to eat healthier plate of foodYou’ve heard a thousand reasons to eat healthier by now, surely. It’s almost become a social or fad thing.

Well, I consider myself a bit of a rebel. Not a conformist. Not a fad follower. And not a lover of those things mainstream.

But, I do eat quite healthily. Mostly because I am tired of all the allergy and sinus struggles for so many years. After tons of money spent looking for easier answers and then probably several near punches in my face from my holistic doctor, I caved and decided to follow her “orders” to change my diet. (She has never even rolled her eyes at my ridiculous arguments, never mind ordered something.)

I eat 95% gluten and dairy free, with limited grains, and still take some natural supplements and products. But I’m not taking any over-the-counter or prescription meds. And the past couple of years, I have been much less congested with fewer migraines.

So now I have to keep from rolling my eyes as I hear stories from friends and family members who suffer chronic symptoms, or have constant doctors’ visits, but still won’t try changing their diets to see if that helps.

A’hem. I know where you all are coming from. I do. But please learn from my stupid rebellious mistakes before your health gets worse. Or before you become a cancer or other statistic. Or so your kids will have a chance at better health.

These good reasons aside, I’ve learned, the hard way, 10 reasons to eat healthier that may surprise you. Which can you relate to? “I should eat healthier:

10. to save money. What, you say? Organic, healthy stuff costs way more than other stuff. Try Trader Joe’s, Lucky’s Market, some local markets or vitacost.com, for a few. Even if you do pay more, you may buy less and therefore eat less, which may not be a bad thing. You may eat out less often. And imagine the oodles of money saved with fewer doctors’ appointments and medicines.

9. to increase fertility. Many factors besides diet play into fertility. But your body could be sensitive to gluten or gluten cross-reactors without obvious symptoms. Sensitivity to these foods can mess with your hormones, which can include thyroid function and fertility.

8. to sleep better. Adults need 7 to 9 hours of sleep. Not 6. And children need even more. Check out National Sleep Foundation’s latest recommendations broken down into age brackets. Sleep helps your body repair itself and prevent stress and anxiety. So healthy diet >> better sleep >> better health all around. Sleep is key.

7. to reduce arguments with your kids. Sound crazy? First, MSG has been linked to temper tantrums. Food dyes (e.g. Yellow 5, Blue 1, Red 1, etc.) can cause aggressive behavior especially in kids. Remove the junk. Bonus, if you enforce healthier eating over time, you surely won’t hear “but do I have to eat this?” or “I’m not eating this” so much because you have changed your lifestyles, period.

6. to improve concentration. Upset stomachs, irregular bowels, anxiety and so many more symptoms can distract you or cause “brain fog”. These same symptoms can mess up your sleep, which will make you less focused during the day. It’s a vicious cycle!

5. for better gut health. Aren’t the effects from electromagnetic fields, pollution and daily stress hard enough on your body? Eat healthy, anti-inflammatory foods that let your body digest foods without working so hard. Good gut health can help prevent heart disease, cancer and you name it. Plus, it can help you maintain a healthy weight.

4. so I can breather easier. Friends in St. Louis, we live in one of the worst cities for pollen and mold allergies. Wherever you are though, eat less inflammatory foods and your sinuses may be less inflamed! Breathe easier. Maybe even watch your asthma disappear!

3. so my skin will clear up. Hives, rashes, fungus, acne. All things skin.

2. to help correct behavior problems. Medical expenses, infertility issues, brain fog, gut issues, chronic sinus problems or lack of sleep? Of course these could cause depression, anxiety or anger. But some foods can physically cause aggression, depression, irritability, fatigue or non-stop talking. Find more about foods (even healthy ones) and the symptoms they can cause on page 47 of my book, Digested – eating healthier made easier 3 ways.

1. because I can. When I asked my then 3-year old boy why he asked so many questions, his smile-filled response was “because I can”. He could. He should. And he still does. Likewise, the #1 reason to eat healthier is because you can.

If you need help getting started, read my book, visit my Facebook page, check out some other articles in my blog or sign up for my free monthly newsletter.

Refuse to be the rebel here. Just eat healthier. Because you can.


*This blog is intended for use as a source of information and should not be used as a substitute for professional medical care or advice. 

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Eating dairy free with a busy lifestyle

Work. School. Practices. Games. Meetings. Dates. And more. Life is busy. Which makes eating healthier seem challenging. Eating dairy free – now that takes eating to another level. But it can be done. And you can still live a normal life.

Eating dairy free at home

Of course, you’ll find it easier to eat dairy free at home. It’s much easier to avoid foods when you don’t buy them! This is why I keep less junk food around.

But what if part of your family eats dairy and the other part has to avoid it? Or what if you’re soooo craving some of the dairy you used to eat?

Here are some ways to satisfy your dairy dilemmas at home.eating dairy free

  1. Buy milk made from almond, cashew, hemp, coconut or rice.
  2. Stock up with yogurt made from coconut milk instead of cow’s milk.
  3. Replace butter with olive oil or another oil in many recipes. Or you may be able to tolerate clarified ghee, but it is technically dairy.
  4. Choose sorbet. Or opt for coconut milk ice cream or rice milk ice cream.
  5. Make your own cheese from non-dairy milk or zucchini – yes, who would guess?! You can find paleo recipes for anything!
  6. If you need a candy fix, choose organic dairy-free dark chocolate or fruit-flavored candy that doesn’t contain food dyes (it must exist?!).

Notice I didn’t suggest soy as an alternative to dairy. Despite it having some health benefits, research has led me to believe that soy may do more harm than good, especially if it’s not organic. Read more about the “soy situation” in chapter 4 of my book, Digested – eating healthier made easier 3 ways.

Make sure any of your alternatives say “dairy-free” on the labels because even if something is “made with” coconut milk, for example, it could have cow’s milk in it, too. Read labels carefully!

Rotate your milk alternatives. Don’t buy all products made with rice, or all made with coconut. It’s important to rotate what you eat so your body does not develop new sensitivities. Note that because almond milk has high omega-6 content, you should use it more as a condiment than a drink.

Next, you may wonder. Does paleo cheese taste like “normal” cheese? Well, I’ve made a couple of recipes and found that no… it doesn’t. But it doesn’t taste bad and it can satisfy your craving. Some versions of paleo cheese may not be meltable, so be specific while searching online for recipes.

Eating dairy free while on the go

Eating dairy free at home should be easier once you’ve cleaned house or dedicated a dairy-free section in your refrigerator. But when out and about or socializing with friends, dairy-free options may not be as convenient.

Fortunately, many restaurants recognize the seriousness of food allergies now and offer alternatives. Don’t be afraid to ask if menu items are dairy-free. The reason restaurants have become more accommodating to food allergies is because people have spoken!

If you know you’re going to be running around for the day or evening, remember these tips to make eating dairy free easier:

  • Opt for water instead of milk to drink. Even your kids will learn to like water if you keep reinforcing the importance of it!
  • Instead of yogurt squeezers, grab some pre-cut raw veggies to eat in the car. This is a great way to get your veggie intake up to 50% of your diet for the day, too.
  • Eat something at home before you go, in case you end up somewhere without dairy-free options. You can always eat a little more while out with the rest of your crew. This will minimize any stress about eating out.
  • Keep a cooler in the car and stash it with your non-dairy favorites. I grab raw veggies, sweet potato chips or nut/seed bars as my go- tos. Yes, I’m that gal driving down the road with a whole washed but unpeeled carrot hanging out of my mouth. It can’t look any goofier than a cigarette. And nobody wants to see me hangry.

Concerned about your kids getting enough calcium? Make sure they eat plenty of healthy fish, nuts, seeds, green leafy vegetables, bok choy and broccoli. If that seems like an impossible task, read my blog “10 ways to get your kids to eat vegetables”.

If you’re thinking of going dairy free but aren’t outright allergic to it, you may find that different dairy products affect you more severely. Milk may make you feel worse than cheese because it contains more lactose. Soft and fresh cheeses typically contain more lactose than hard or aged cheeses. Check out this nifty infographic about lactose intolerance. Using a food journal can help pinpoint the exact foods you need to avoid. Remember though, if it’s casein your body does not like, you should avoid all cheese and dairy.

Have faith. Eating dairy free gets easier with time, just like everything else. Plus it may urge you to experiment with more recipes and foods!

*This blog is intended for use as a source of information and should not be used as a substitute for professional medical care or advice. 

For a limited time, sign up to win 1 of 10 free signed, first edition copies of Digested – eating healthier made easier 3 ways here!

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5 keys to allergy relief and feeling better naturally

Are you looking for allergy relief that comes more naturally? Or maybe just feeling better in general is your goal?

You can begin to achieve both with these 5 action items. I know from experience.

I love being outdoors – it’s like that morning coffee for coffee lovers. Ironically perhaps, my body is sensitive to pollens and mold.

natural allergy reliefI long to be outdoors without fearing the severe stuffiness, headaches and nausea I sometimes get, and without taking prescription meds that wreck my body even more over the long-term.

I hate being sick. But I’ve desperately wanted to get a cold that actually ends in the normal 7 to 10 days, without a trip to the doctor.

I crave waking up without a blocked nose or phlegmy throat and with energy and well, a pulse!

That’s not asking too much, is it?

What does allergy relief look like to a chronic sufferer?

For more than 20 years, I’ve wrestled with chronic allergies and fatigue, and an immune system that is not up to snuff. I’ve been through many tests, doctors and treatments.

Now for more than 10 years, I haven’t taken prescription allergy medicines. Just 2 times over the past 16 years, I have had to take antibiotics.

Finally this winter, I did have a “normal” cold. And I did wake up 4 or 5 days being able to inhale and exhale freely through my nose and feeling truly rested. Hallelujah!

So I’m still a work in progress. But I have taken huge steps forward. And I’m hoping to help you do the same by sharing my top 5 keys to allergy relief and better health.

How can you start down the road to relief?

Seek care from a holistic care provider in addition to your traditional doctor. Without my holistic doctors, I would have never found the other key factors to healing my body with fewer drugs.

4 Avoid antibiotics, and take more natural remedies as needed. Even studies by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have revealed that antibiotics in the U.S. are over-prescribed. I used to take antibiotics 3 to 5 times a year for sinus infections before realizing they also kill the good bacteria in my guts, too.

This article by expert Chris Kresser says that 1 course of antibiotics may permanently change your gut flora. And many doctors today keep prescribing more when the first round doesn’t work!

I can’t stress enough how damaging antibiotics can be. They have a place in medicine, but they should be our last resort. A holistic care provider will help you find a homeopathic remedy, herbal supplement, essential oil or other treatment to help heal your body more naturally instead. My doc even does kid-friendly chiropractic adjustments that help alleviate ear infections and other sinus-related issues. The non-Rx possibilities are many!

Use sinus rinse daily with distilled, filtered or previously boiled water and packets of salt mixture designed for this purpose. I use the NeilMed bottle to blast out my nose twice a day – in the morning and before bedtime – because I’ve never been able to get the Neti pot to work.

Get good, restorative sleep. If you need allergy relief, ditch the pillow-top mattress that’s likely holding lots of allergens captive and get something comfortable and hypoallergenic.

I’ve written lots of article and ebooks about mattresses and sleep, and now know just how critical 7 to 9 hours of sleep (more for kids) is to good health. I finally decided on an organic Dunlop latex mattress despite hating the smell of everyday latex. We love it and have invested in the same mattresses for our growing kids.

Now I also notice if I get just 6 hours of sleep a couple of nights in a row, I will pay for it, usually by feeling super congested, lethargic and prone to migraine headaches. You just can’t put a price on quality sleep.

Eat a healthier diet. Even if you think you already eat healthy, assume you have room for improvement. Aim to make 50% of your diet vegetables, ideally organic.

I could write a book about the reasons and ways to eat healthier, even if you have a million excuses. And about how even healthy foods could be countering your efforts for allergy relief and better health.

Well actually, I did write this book. It’s called Digested – eating healthier made easier 3 ways. It’s a simple and quick read aimed to help you gain allergy relief, feel healthier all around and likely even lose weight.

I wrote this book because changing my diet has produced the most results. Now I have more manageable allergies with a better quality of life – even outdoors and without traditional medicines.

Without changing my diet, my inflamed nostrils would not have allowed the NeilMed to do its job.

Without changing my diet, inflammation in my guts would not have allowed L-glutamine and other natural supplements to repair as needed.

Without changing my diet, even the most pure, luxurious mattress would not give me the quality sleep I need. Now instead of wasting energy constantly battling the foods it sees as enemies while asleep, my body can use that energy to truly restore itself, like it’s supposed to.

To sum it up, without changing my approach from eating reactively to eating proactively, I’d still be rotating through many prescription allergy medicines, wrecking an already over worked body, hiding from the amazingly beautiful outdoors and simply surviving through all my kids’ outdoor adventures and games.

I’m not looking to survive or get by. I’m on a mission to live.

Come along for the ride, but please take the shortcut!



*This blog is intended for use as a source of information and should not be used as a substitute for professional medical care or advice. 

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How are inflammation and digestion linked?

Inflammation and digestion are earning more mentions in scientific studies as well as personal stories. How are they linked and what can we do to manage them?

Inflammation and digestion – understand the basics

By digging into the details of our digestive systems without getting overly scientific, you can better visualize and appreciate how it works and its significance in our overall health.

  1. inflammation and digestionYour nutrient-absorbing small intestine contains digestive flora, which can become unbalanced due to use of antibiotics, birth control pills, hormones (including steroids) and alcohol. Stress and diet can also disrupt the balance.
  2. Mucous membranes are key to protecting you from harmful microbes and parasites that can cause infection. They are found throughout your body — in your nose, mouth, lungs and urinary digestive tract. Many infections and diseases can begin as, or can be related to, inflammation in your mucous membranes — allergies, asthma and sinusitis, angioedema, arthritis, bronchitis, influenza, lymphoma and the list goes on.
  3. Intestinal villi are projections in your digestive mucous membranes that allow the absorption of nutrients. For example, when a person with celiac disease, a digestive intolerance to gluten, eats gluten, her body will react allergically, possibly for several days. Her body may also damage the villi, hindering their ability to absorb nutrients properly.

So, eating even a little bit of a “culprit food,” one that causes a visible or invisible bodily reaction, can seem to cause only an annoying but tolerable reaction, like minor itching or stuffiness. In reality, each time you eat it, you can damage your body’s digestive system. Damage to your intestinal flora, mucous membranes or villi can serve as a root to other problems.

And the more damage that’s done, the harder it can be and longer it can take to repair it.

What can you do to control inflammation and digestion?

Fortunately, you can take steps to help minimize inflammation in your body with hopes of nurturing your digestive system. Get enough sleep — 7 to 9 hours for adults and more for kids, according to the National Sleep Foundation.

Minimizing stress as well as consumption of alcohol, antibiotics, steroids and hormones is also helpful in controlling inflammation and digestion. Some people are also more sensitive to electromagnetic fields (EMFs), and should limit exposure to them.

And of course, one of the most important things you can do to manage inflammation and digestion is to eat foods that help your mucous membranes do their job.

So consider:

  • eating more nutritious foods (aim for 50% of your diet to be veggies).
  • eating fewer foods that cause inflammation. Some main instigators of inflammation are gluten, dairy, sugar and corn syrup, food additives, fried foods and processed foods. Even nuts and a group of foods called nightshades (tomatoes, potatoes, peppers, eggplant, more) can cause inflammation for some people.
  • paying more attention to how your body reacts to various foods, and then avoiding or minimizing the ones that bother you.
  • rotating the foods you eat, instead of eating the same thing every day.
  • keeping a food journal for a few weeks to help pinpoint foods that bother you, because symptoms like congestion or changes in your bowel movements may not show up for a day or two.

Feed your body mostly nourishing foods. Get plenty of sleep. Choose wisely what else goes into your body.

Take care of your body and it will be better equipped to take care of those things outside of your control!


*This blog is intended for use as a source of information and should not be used as a substitute for professional medical care or advice. 


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Dealing with leaky gut syndrome

Is leaky gut syndrome a real thing or just a catch phrase for all those intestinal issues doctors can’t seem to explain?

leaky gut syndromeAccording to the book Why Do I Still Have Thyroid Symptoms? by Dr. Datis Kharrazian, gastrointestinal dysfunctions are the most overlooked and common disorders today, affecting about 70 million Americans and accounting for billions of dollars in annual sales of over-the-counter digestive aids. That total doesn’t even include prescription medicines.

That’s a lot of people with GI problems and it’s hard to say how many antacids and prescription meds – enough to fill a large lake or five? That’s just digestive aids, never mind the ibuprofen and other drugs we take to alleviate the ambiguous symptoms that could be related to leaky gut syndrome. And all these drugs may be contributing to the problem!

What is leaky gut syndrome?

Leaky gut syndrome has been accepted as a real condition, but is still a mystery to healthcare professionals. Put in simple terms, leaky gut syndrome is when your intestines develop tiny holes in them.

The holes allow food particles to enter your blood stream, which is no place for food to be! Your body sees the food particles in your blood stream as “enemies”, putting your immune system into constant overdrive and possibly wearing your body down.

Symptoms may include gas, bloating, cramps, food sensitivities and others that can be mistaken for other conditions. Irritable bowel syndrome, thyroid issues, autoimmune disorders, Crohn’s disease, celiac disease and even autism could be symptomatic of a leaky gut.

Traditional medical tests often fail to reveal a definite cause of these symptoms, which can leave people without a diagnosis and, therefore, untreated, according to this webMD.com article.

However, Dr. Axe presents a more sophisticated explanation of leaky gut, as well as alternative tests for it in this article.

Though traditional and holistic doctors may not all agree yet, we can heed these factors thought to contribute to leaky gut and make lifestyle changes accordingly.

  • eating poorly
  • taking medications (especially antibiotics) that can cause an imbalance in your digestive flora
  • stress

Note that when doctors used to blame my allergies and chronic sinus issues on “stress”, I thought it was a cop-out and got angry. But now it makes more sense knowing that in traditional Chinese medicine, worry and anxiety (and overanalyzing) are emotions connected to your stomach and spleen. So yes, we all experience stress, but we don’t all handle it the same.

How can you help leaky gut syndrome?

Though it’s not well researched and documented throughout the medical industry as a whole just yet, many naturopaths have successfully treated enough patients with leaky gut syndrome that they have adopted programs for diagnosing and treating it.

Many of the treatment programs include:

  1. Adjusting your diet (for several months or longer). Avoid foods such as dairy, gluten and nightshades, known to commonly cause inflammation. Consider the GAPs diet, a paleo diet or another diet designed to reduce inflammation.
  2. Taking natural supplements to help heal your digestive system while avoiding the foods that irritate it. This could involve products with L-glutamine, probiotics or other natural products.
  3. Doing both with advice from your doctor. If your doctor is unfamiliar with leaky gut, visit one who is.

Everything starts in your intestines. If they are irritated and inflamed, you are likely to experience inflammation elsewhere in your body (sinuses for me). That’s why digestive health is so important. And that’s why you should have a healthcare professional help you troubleshoot rather than do it alone.

For more information on the subtle symptoms foods can cause, other foods that can cause inflammation and how to eat healthier, read Digested – eating healthier made easier 3 ways.


*This blog is intended for use as a source of information and should not be used as a substitute for professional medical care or advice.