3 Ways to Regain Life Balance ⚖️

If you’re feeling anxious, overwhelmed, pressed for time, and stressed, join the club! Only a minority of people report feeling peaceful, equanimous, and blissed out these days. The good news is that you can take a step in that direction and reap a bunch of benefits. Here’s how:

1. Identify what’s important to you, your mindset, and what throws you off balance. Once you identify your values and your non-negotiables, you can simplify and cast off the unimportant to-dos. Maybe rainbow-organizing your pantry and linen closets are a “nice to have” but family time is more of a priority right now. In terms of mindset – have you noticed how some people seem relaxed and carefree as they go about their duties while others seem rattled with the same amount of work? Leading a calmer and more peaceful life often has to do with our personal experiences, belief systems, and coping mechanisms…all of which influence our mindset and our thoughts. By changing those, we can change our behaviors and results.

Consider what throws you off-balance. Is it a last-minute request to participate in your child’s extracurricular activity? The pressure you put on yourself every year to balance not just work but with making each holiday or birthday ‘perfect’ for your family? Or does getting inadequate sleep cause you to feel easily rattled the rest of the day? There is a well-established link between our emotional state and our physical one. By adopting a more peaceful mindset, we can avoid chronic diseases and live longer.

2. Know the signs of an imbalanced life and burnout. Symptoms include headache, sleep disorders, anxiety, tense and stiff muscles, and digestive woes. The stress we’re under can contribute to poor immune function, focus and memory. It can also be detrimental to fertility and sex drive and even accelerate the aging process. Noticing these symptoms early in your life can help prevent you form sliding into burnout or into chronic disease states.

3. Add + subtract. We’re going to let our inner nerd out a bit as we reveal how much we loved stoichiometry and balancing equations in high school. Without complex chemistry and math, just imagine playing with weights on a scale – add another stressor to one side and notice how the beam shifts, especially if there aren’t enough restorative activities in the other scale pan. Here are some ideas to find your own balanced equation:

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Royal Coco-cacao Smoothie Bowl

Did you know that purple is one of the colors of representing royalty? What better way to start your day than to treat yourself like the queen or king you are! This beautiful bowl, with toppings like coconut and cacao, will leave you feeling full and energized. Ready to eat? Here’s the recipe:

Prep time: 5 minutes

Servings: 1-2

Disclosure: some of the links below are affiliate links or discount codes, meaning, at no additional cost to you, if you click through an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may make a commission.

Ingredients

4 large strawberries

1/2 cup blueberries

1 cup non-dairy milk (we used hazelnut milk from Elmhurst)

2 tbsp hemp seeds

2 tbsp cacao nibs

2 tbsp shredded coconut

1/2 tbsp chia seeds

Instructions

Blend all ingredients, except shredded coconut and cacao nibs, until desired texture is achieved. Top with shredded coconut and cacao nibs or other favorites.

A Case for Morning Routines

Have a better tomorrow by learning about morning routines then building and implementing your own! (Video version available here in our Go with your Gut free Facebook group).

Benefits of a Morning Routine

1. With a set morning routine, you’re on auto-pilot and the morning flows fairly seamlessly. The alternative is jumping all over the place as you feed the dog, get dressed, check your voicemail, and look for your keys.

2. Peace is a result of a well-planned morning routine; instead of feeling scattered and stressed, you can enjoy your cup of coffee or tea and know that you are ready for the day.

3. Feeling organized about your day – you can see your appointments and activities laid out, and you have a plan to achieve your most important goals, even building in self-care!

Life before a AM Routine

We’re speaking for ourselves here, but you can likely relate.

1. Inconsistent wake (and sleep) times. Sometimes we’d wake at 6am, or 8:45am or 11am…this left us feeling discombobulated and stressed as we struggled to fit in all our appointments and to-do tasks. Even worse, we’d work into the night and then create a self-perpetuating problem of inconsistent waking times.

2. Adrenaline rushes. Running around grabbing work materials, finding the outfit we planned on wearing was in the laundry hamper and having to figure out an alternative, looking for keys or an umbrella…and then hoping and praying traffic to get to meetings on time. Mornings were full of stress and anxiety.

3. Forgetting water and/or lunch. This lead to us either skipping lunch or buying a $13-20 lunch when we had perfectly good food at home. What typically followed was both food waste and money waste (from lost groceries and eating out).

This way of living cost us time, peace, and money. Something needed to change. Tired of the results we were getting, we decided, “No more of this chaos, we’re getting organized with our mornings.”

Our First Attempts at a Morning Routine

We’ve read all these articles about successful people who wake up at 4am or 5am, so we decided to enlist willpower and sign ourselves up for a 6am boxing class (during the snowy/icy winter season). Spoiler alert: it didn’t work. Why? For one, it didn’t work with our life and sleep schedule. We don’t go to bed at 8pm or 9pm typically and so we were always tired in the mornings. For two, we like food; the problem was fueling ourselves around this class. If we skipped breakfast, we’d typically feel faint during the 1-hour high-intensity workout. If we ate even a small snack 15-30 minutes ahead of time, we felt nauseous.

Reading about the great achievers, such as Richard Branson and Tony Robbins, showed me that some of these morning routines were 2-3 hours long. That was never going to work with our lifestyle so we had to create our own flexible 30 minute AM routine with exercise included. We’ve changed it throughout the years and kept it flexible to support where we are in life. Here’s what it looks like now (we’re big fans of alliteration, as you’ll see):

1. Wash and water – we brush our teeth first thing and then drink 1 cup of water before jumping into exercise…

2. Strength-training and skincare – we’ll play a very short podcast and bust out squats, full push-ups, ab work, bridges, ‘superhumaning’ (laying on the belly and lifting arms and legs), and pull-ups. All done in about 6 minutes! Then we’ll typically wash our face and body and get dressed.

3. Bunnies (pets) and breakfast – we have two (unbonded) bunnies and we’ll let one out as we prep our coffee or tea and breakfast. About halfway through, we switch them out. Typically we’ll also do our ‘mental/spiritual gym’ exercises. For your purposes, insert dog/cat/kid(s) where we have bunnies listed.

4. Launch into life – we go into the office and check the day’s calendar and our most important goals; we set alarms and put the phone on airplane mode (as needed); we’ll also take breaks to do household activities (e.g. laundry) during the day

This is not a *perfect* morning routine. Use this for inspiration to create your own routine. Now that we’ve created a customized morning routine, the only regret we have is not starting earlier in life. High school, college, and post-college could have been SO much easier and not filled with stress and anxiety. Peace is a gift we can give ourselves with a simple morning routine. The key is to make it work for YOU!

So what do you think? Do you already have a morning routine? Is there a way to improve your mornings by putting them on auto-pilot?

Fluoride: Cavities & Hypothyroidism

Fluoride is most effective when applied topically to the surface of the teeth. Therefore, it seems unnecessary for over 3/4 of U.S. tap water to contain the chemical for consumption. Fluoride was introduced in the 1940’s as a tap water additive because it helps kill cavity-causing bacteria on people’s teeth. However, none of our body’s biological processes require fluoride to function. Fluoride is not a nutrient, it is a chemical. Check the fluoride-containing toothpaste labels – it contains a warning to contact poison control if a pea-sized amount, or more, is swallowed.

Dental fluorosis, a sign of excess fluoride exposure, shows up on teeth as white or brown stains on the enamel and is a permanent condition. Some studies showed that 30-40% of children and adolescents have this condition.

The Center for Disease Control also warn mothers of babies and toddlers about using fluoridated tap water in infant formula as there “may be an increased chance for mild dental fluorosis.”

There’s concern for adults as well; fluoride may increase underactive thyroid disorder, also known as hypothyroidism.

Recent studies have suggested a link between fluoridation and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). A multitude of studies, both in humans and animals, show fluoride impairs learning and memory as well as IQ scores.

Adults excrete about 60% of fluoride through their kidneys, whereas adolescents clear about 45%. For teenagers, findings from a study at Mount Sinai suggest that fluoride can be detrimental to kidney and liver function.

Fluoride’s potential negative effects include kidney and liver damage, thyroid dysfunction, bone (and tooth) disease, impaired protein metabolism, and may cause brain (and pineal gland) damage.

Look below at the chart; you’ll notice that the rates of cavities have decreased for all countries – including those that didn’t fluoridate their water. 

water-fluoridation-cavities
Chart from Newsweek

The rates of cavities in the population have declined since fluoride was added to the water post-World War II, but what could explain this drop for countries that didn’t fluoridate theirs? Well, a variety of factors could be at play since the mid-1940s, including: access to dentists and regular dental care, better education about dental health, toothbrush and dental care technology. If Austria and northern European countries are seeing a decline in dental caries without fluoridation, is it worth the potential risks to our health to have fluoride in ours? Only you can decide.

What’s the Safe Level of Fluoride then?

Right off the bat, it’s important to know that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) classifies fluoride as a drug when it is used to prevent or ameliorate disease. All other water treatment chemicals are added to improve water quality or safety, but fluoride is the only chemical added to water as a medical treatment (though, as you’ll see below, the FDA calls fluoride an ‘additive’). Whether you asked for it or not, whether you need it or not, you’re being medically treated every time you drink tap water (or bottled water with fluoride).

Here’s a bit of interesting information: the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services puts the recommended fluoride level (‘healthy limit’) at 0.7 ppm (Parts Per Million) whereas the EPA drinking water “maximum contaminant level” (MCL) is 4.0 mg/L (which further down the page is said to be equivalent to ppm). It’s in rather recent times that the ‘healthy limit’ was lowered to 0.7ppm from between 0.7 and 1.2 mg/L (again, mg/L being equivalent to ppm).

Even though there’s a ‘legal limit’ to set for fluoride, the water you drink, especially from the tap, may contain 5x more than what is healthy.  It’s tempting to think that fluoride is regulated by the FDA and therefore has undergone the same testing that medicines do; however, it is isn’t regulated by the FDA and hasn’t been rigorously tested, because it is considered an ‘additive’ and not a medication. Consider also that most fluoridation chemicals added to tap water are by-products of chemical manufacturing (such as aluminum) and from the phosphate fertilizer industry. This is ‘industrial grade’ and not ‘pharmaceutical grade’ fluoride being allowed into tap water.

Bottom line: do your research and determine how much exposure to fluoride you are comfortable with; make decisions on your water filter treatment accordingly.

Hint: reverse osmosis is one of the best ways to filter fluoride (and other chemicals) out of your drinking water – find out more in Is Your Water Safe?

Recipe: Brownie Overnight Oats

Dietitian confessions go both ways. While we’re often the ones people ‘confess’ to about eating certain junk foods, we also like to purify our minds and souls by relating our dietary ‘sins’.

You may remember that we have really loved ice cream throughout our lives, even to the point where travels to Italy were less about the architecture and more about finding the perfect gelateria (true story), but we didn’t reveal that we also grew up making (read: eating) brownies. Heaven on a dessert plate would be the two served together – brownie a la mode style. Hell would be making us choose only one to have at our last dessert. Obviously, it would be a real Sophie’s Choice situation.

As we’ve ventured into finding healthier forms of ice cream (done and done), we’ve done the same for brownies (check out our black bean version). But to have brownies for breakfast? Well, that required a little extra dietary finesse…and so we’ve created a decadent, yet healthy, version of eating brownies for the first meal of the day, or even as a snack for when sugar cravings strike. Care to partake? Here’s the recipe:

Disclosure: some of the links below are affiliate links or discount codes, meaning, at no additional cost to you, if you click through an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may make a commission.

Prep time: 5 minutes

Servings: 2

Ingredients

1 cup organic rolled oats

1 banana, mashed

1 cup non-dairy almond or hazelnut milk (DIY almond milk or the ready-made hazelnut version)

3 tbsp cocoa or cacao powder

2 tbsp chopped nuts (e.g. pecan, walnut, macademia) or nut butter

2 tbsp cacao nibs or 85% chocolate chips, optional

1 tbsp chia seeds

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Instructions

Stir together rolled oats, cocoa/cacao powder and chia seeds in a mason jar or other container with a lid. Add nuts, nibs/chocolate chips, banana, non-dairy milk, cinnamon and vanilla extract. Seal the lid and shake vigorously for about 15 seconds. Place in fridge overnight. The next morning, top with chocolate chips and/or fresh berries if you’d like. Enjoy!

Put your Money where your Mouth is

Don’t actually eat money. It’s gross, illegal, and most likely has traces of cocaine.

What we really mean is to take actions in support of your statements of opinion or belief.

There’s a saying, “show me your friends and I’ll tell you who you are.” Our friends are a reflection of who we are or who we want to be. Guess what? The same could be said for food choices and how we spend money.

And, in this case, we invite you to be curious: where do you spend your money and why?

Just as a food diary can help us make many connections, including what we eat and why, a money audit can illuminate the reasons behind why you spend money and areas where the expenditures may or may not be in your best interest.

Take a look at your most recent receipts and credit card statements. Beyond the utilities, gasoline, and other necessary expenditures, what do you see?

Multiple instances of Tim Horton’s/Starbucks/McDonald’s or other restaurant visits?

Gym membership?

Cases of wine?

During this audit, reflect on your purchases. Do they support your purported beliefs? Are you comfortable with what you see?

We all spend money on what we value.

For some, it’s Louis Vuitton handbags or flashy cars. It’s the convenience and instant-gratification of fast food. Maybe it’s paying tuition for an education or for children’s braces.

Look at where your dollars go, for it will show you what you truly value.

No one buys mascara for the coloring and lengthening of their lashes. Mascara represents how we want to feel (beautiful, attractive) and what we want to have (confidence, love).

Look at all your purchases this way. What does the Land Rover, kale, or Diet Coke represent? What does it do for you?

Is it an investment? Is it aligned with your values?

We’ve done our own audit. Curious to see? Here are top expenditures (outside of paying for housing and Uncle Sam, of course):

1. Health – luckily not medical bills; we’re talking about preventative, joyful ways of bringing in delicious and nutritious foods, quality water & supplements, organic skincare, and self-care practices that keep us healthy (e.g. online yoga; pre-COVID massages and acupuncture). Why is this a value? We heartily agree with Emerson, “the first wealth is health.” We’ve been on the other side of health and it’s painful and not pretty.

It’s not just for us. If we’re not healthy, we can’t inspire and lead others to victory. So, this is a priority.

2. Education – there’s a reason we were in college for 10+ years…we love and value learning! As an ‘eternal student’ it’s not just formal education we’ve invested in. Our money flows into books, courses and certifications in everything related to health and nutrition – including herbalism, mindset, life coaching. Once again, our investment in ourselves here pays dividends to our families, community, and clients nationwide! Another core value is to acquire knowledge, wisely distill and teach best practices to our clients.

3. Support – this is a tricky one because of our (recovering) perfectionist mindset. The idea that we *should* DIY in all areas, including growth in personal and professional areas, isn’t really helpful to us anymore (though it did serve a purpose in early days of being a freshly-minted, deeply-in-debt dietitian). The biggest change we’ve made here is not wasting time burning the midnight oil and constantly information-gathering through watching webinars and reading books while being paralyzed, wondering how best to take action. We’ve hired multiple coaches this year for personal and professional development. Why?

Just like our clients, we don’t want to ride the cheap, smelly Struggle Bus for long hours to reach our destination only to arrive irritable, confused, and burnt out. Instead, we’re willing to pay more to fly first-class in order to arrive faster and to have a more luxury experience (seats that convert into beds, food from culinary experts) that leaves us refreshed, clear-headed, and ready for adventure.

Though we’ve consistently had a health coach since 2006, this year we’ve invested in TWO. Why? Because as our business has grown and we serve more clients, from a deeper and higher level, we need to ensure we are also nourishing ourselves with sleep, food, and mindfulness practices so that we keep our ‘glow’ and energy up. These investments in professional experts yield short-term benefits and, continuously compounded, provide long-term advantages.

Anyone looking at our financial statements would be able to tell that these are our top values.

Where did your dollar bills land?

Gently explore your money audit, without judgment. Choose one thing to improve. Tell us: how will YOU put your money where your mouth is?

Self-care: Simple Sugar Scrub

Winter’s dryness inflicts all sorts of maladies on our skin. Here’s our scrumptious 3-ingredient recipe to exfoliate your skin and help keep it smooth & hydrated. Give it a try this weekend to indulge in something other than, or as an adjunct to, binge-watching Netflix (we suggest Bling Empire – watch lives of luxury and feel luxurious).

Ingredients

1 cup raw turbinado sugar

1/2 cup olive oil

3 drops essential oil of your choice (we recommend peppermint to energize and uplift or lavender to help relax)

Instructions

Put sugar in small mixing bowl, add olive oil until you get to your desired texture, then add the drops of essential oil. Mix well. You may want to transfer the mixture to a glass or plastic jar.

In the shower, gently rub the sugar scrub over your body. Enjoy and follow with a bath or shower. Your skin should feel slightly oily because of the olive oil and soak in fully shortly afterwards. Employ safe shower techniques as the mixture can cause shower/bath to become slick.

Caution: do not exfoliate if your skin is sunburned, otherwise irritated or where there are cuts or sensitive areas. Always do a patch test first.

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White sugar, given what it does to our internal biochemistry, is best used on the outside of our bodies (hence, the Simple Sugar Scrub). Even if you don’t eat a pint of ice cream or drink soda every day, there is a very good chance you’re still getting more added sugar than is serving you. 

This is the time to explore how headaches/migraines, candida, digestive health, infections, fatigue, foggy thinking, and more have connections to sugar. Address the challenge of losing weight while you improve body composition, confidence, and experience more natural energy! Learn more & join our next challenge group.

She’s a Superstar!

Have you ever felt hopeless over a health condition? Or believed that the weight gain and symptoms you were experiencing were random or just ‘a part of the aging process’? It’s time to challenge these thoughts; there is hope in exploring one of the last modalities often turned to – nutrition – and yet, as you’ll read below, it played a huge part in healing, weight loss, and improving blood sugar regulation. It has been a pleasure in helping Sherri uncover common, ‘healthy’ foods that were tied to some uncomfortable and distressing symptoms.

“The symptoms in my throat have improved, including getting rid of the globus feeling and acid reflux symptoms. I have lost 45 pounds, have more energy, and I’m having fewer neurological symptoms. I feel healthier overall and I feel like I am making better food choices and have fewer unhealthy food issues like stress-eating or over-indulging in unhealthy foods. I went from having a 7.1 A1C to a 5.6 A1C without any medications just diet and increased steps a day. 🙂

I like the fact that you truly listen and that you believe me when I describe my symptoms. I also feel like you care about me and want me to succeed. I think you are creative and empowering and I enjoy talking with you.

I feel like I have embraced trying foods I may have never considered before. Aside from arugula and kale, I didn’t eat many greens. I also would have never known about certain high-fiber foods or the importance of looking for non-GMO and organic foods. I also never considered how much better I would feel eating gluten-free.

I tell everyone I know that working with a dietician was what helped me feel better. Last time I saw my doctor he told me keep working with the dietician because it’s working. :)”

Thanks for all you do!!

– Sherri G.

Columbus, OH

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Superstar Sherri has met her 6 month goals and has really taken her MRT Food Sensitivity test results and LEAP protocol to heart. She expressed early on how her problems with her throat were threatening to ruin her relationship with food. Though it wasn’t easy, tracking symptoms in her food diary and following her LEAP protocol helped her figure out how to ‘reset’ when things went wrong, and to see foods that were ‘friendly’ to her. We didn’t just talk about food though – we explored personal hygiene products for damaging ingredients and even air quality in the home (radon is an issue in Ohio). As Sherri said in our most recent session, “it confirms that I didn’t need a pill, I just needed a change in my lifestyle. We are killing ourselves with the food we eat.” Luckily, we can also help our bodies heal with the foods we eat.

Ready to look at your health issues and goals with a 4-dimensional approach? Schedule your complimentary, 20-minute Discovery Call.

Roasted Root Vegetables

Roasted Root Vegetables

The beautiful part about a pan of roasted vegetables isn’t just their bright colors, but that you’re able to experiment with different types of root vegetables (e.g parsnips) and use them in a variety of ways during the week. We love putting the roasted vegetables in a grain bowl or on salads.

Yields: about 6 servings

Ingredients

2 medium sweet potatoes

3 medium beets

3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp pepper

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and cut the veggies into similarly sized pieces. Place the vegetables in a single layer on a baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil. Toss to ensure all pieces are lightly coated and add salt and pepper. Roast for about 30, turning once, until all the vegetables are tender. Garnish with fresh herbs (parsley, rosemary and thyme work well), if desired.

Food Sensitivity Testing with MRT

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Most people – whether younger or older, ill or well – benefit from knowing which foods their bodies react negatively to.

Here’s the kicker: the food you think is healthy, may not be healthy for you.

If you’re healthy and want to stay that way, the focus is on prevention; since food is central to any wellness plan, to eat in a precise and personalized way is best.

Dealing with health challenges?

Maybe you’ve given up some of the ‘big 8’ offenders (e.g. wheat, gluten, dairy, eggs) but are still having some symptoms. Perhaps you’ve done (ineffective) skin testing or IgG food sensitivity testing. In either case, you know you need to drill down further and find out if your everyday “healthy” foods (e.g. blueberry, turkey, or tumeric) are actually inflaming you. This has been the case for many of our clients, some visual examples of food sensitivity testing results are below.

Conditions associated with food sensitivities are:

  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) and Crohn’s Disease
  • Heartburn / GERD
  • Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS)
  • Arthritis and fibromyalgia
  • Autism and ADD/ADHD

Symptoms associated with food sensitivities are:

  • Anxiety and depression
  • Constipation / diarrhea
  • Bloating and gas
  • Eczema, psoriasis, and acne
  • Fatigue and general malaise
  • Insomnia and poor sleep
  • Brain fog
  • Stomach and abdominal pain
  • Irritability and restlessness
  • Nasal and sinus congestion or post nasal drip
  • Food cravings
  • Muscle and joint pain or stiffness
  • Water retention and difficulty losing weight

Additionally, this is a test worth doing if you plan on having children (to help lower inflammation in the body and improve fertility) or if you have children who are ‘picky eaters’ (oftentimes, kids intuitively know that a certain food is ‘hurting’ them and they try to avoid it).

If you want to lose weight or improve performance, this test provides you with the foundation for your personal diet strategy and may provide the missing link necessary to achieve your goals.

What makes MRT different? How does it work?

Some of the other tests you may have done, such as a skin prick or a food sensitivity test ONLY measuring IgG levels, often lack the accuracy in determining actual food sensitivities you may have.

Figuring out what our sensitivities are can be difficult; here’s why – the reactions can be delayed or dose-dependent. This means we may not immediately feel the effect of a food reaction; it may take many hours or days to appear. If it’s dose-dependent, we might feel okay with a little bit of the offending food, but stacking it gives us a reaction.

Mediator Release Testing (MRT) is a patented blood test that shows how strongly your immune cells react to the 170 foods and chemicals tested by measuring chemical mediators released from the cell. When released from immune cells, chemical mediators such as histamines, cytokines, and prostaglandins produce damaging effects on the body’s tissues, leading to the development of symptoms. Fortunately, MRT takes the guesswork out of identifying food sensitivities!

Here are some examples of ‘healthy’ foods that were showing up as inflammatory for clients, including: bananas, turkey, blueberries, coffee and more!

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Test results are only part of the equation. With your functional medicine dietitian-nutritionist, you’ll put into play the LEAP (Lifestyle Eating and Performance) protocol to help get you the results you desire. Curious about finding out the foods and food chemicals causing inflammation and symptoms in YOUR body? Contact us and see if MRT testing is right for you.