I don’t think it’s going to surprise anyone when I say that health is an enormous focus in my life. It has been since the second I got diagnosed with an autoimmune disease. My focus has only grown more and more after discovering that the way to manage my illness was all lifestyle and diet based. Health is something that we all want to strive for regardless of our health status, right? It’s not wrong to want health. However, there’s a fine line between being focused on your health, and letting it control your life. So, how do you stop it from controlling your life?
First, I want to draw the distinction between obsession as in Googling and Instagraming health topics too much and obsession as in developing a disorder. If your obsession is literally dominating your life and creating disorder, I highly, highly recommend speaking one on one with a counselor or therapist to talk about your own situation. I am not a therapist by any means and I’m only sharing my own experiences here, and not professional advice that substitutes for treatment of anything. I often recommend my own clients to therapy, and having done it myself, I can’t talk enough about the benefits…
There’s a balance between being your own health advocate and having your health control your life in a negative way.
In a world of some less than perfect health advice, and tons of contradicting information, we all need to be our own health advocate. Research and staying up on health news is necessary! We need to be our own health advocates! We need to Google, we need to read books, we need to listen to podcasts, and we need to stay up on new research. I never would’ve found AIP if I didn’t research it, and that research has literally changed my life.
However, there’s a fine line between educating yourself and feeling like your obsessed. Let’s loosely define what I’m talking about here…
- Being your own health advocate is when you’re proactive about your own health and pursue a healthy lifestyle
- Obsessing over your health is feeling that you’re constantly thinking about it, and you just want a dang break already!
How I Knew My Pursuit of Health Was Controlling My Life…
Fine lines can be incredibly hard to distinguish, but let’s be honest… you know when you’re just over it. I’ve had plenty of times in my health journey when I knew I just was over it.
Here are some of the signs that I’ve seen in myself…
- Always thinking about what I was going to eat that day/the next day
- Making tons of unnecessary health purchases
- Constantly judging what other people are eating
- Endlessly Googling my own condition (Hashimoto’s and leaky gut)
- Constantly starting a new regimen every single week/month to find relief
- Just feeling exhausted over health news
Sound familiar? Here’s what I do…
How To Stop Letting Your Health Control Your Life
1. Make finding and addressing the root cause of your health struggles your top priority
Health trends like short detoxes and fast workout plans are quick, short, and offer results in a matter of weeks, which is why they’re insanely popular. However, when it comes to chronic health challenges like autoimmunity, leaky gut, or other, it’s all to easy to lean on quick fixes for relief. If we just try this one 30 day diet, then this other one, then this program, and so on and so forth. It becomes a cycle of quick fixes that offer little long term relief, and the constant change of routine makes it feel like health is controlling your life.
Rather, the most important thing with any health challenge is to insure that you’re working to find the root cause. Why do you have gut issues? What triggered your autoimmunity? Spending your time and energy on finding and addressing what’s causing your issues helps you get at the heart of what’s wrong rather than obsessing over the next new thing to help you find relief.
2. Focus on hobbies and entertainment completely outside of health
If you’re anything like me, your netflix suggestions are all filled with food documentaries, and Amazon wishlist is nothing but health books and supplements. I’ve gone through phases where all I wanted to consume was health related. Everything I bought, everything I did, and everything I consumed was all about health and the pursuit to better my own health. Though it’s important to learn and continue to be an advocate for your own health, this is were it can start to control your life.
Find hobbies and entertainment that have absolutely nothing to do with health and embrace the heck out of them! Maybe it’s art, music, a sport, writing, or other. Something that I’ve gotten more into fairly recently has been collecting plants! Yes… collecting plants. Luckily I have a husband who is also into it and we’ve been slowly growing our collection while we make plans for a custom succulent wall, and more!
Yup. These little plants have nothing to do with health… and I love it!
3. Accept and acknowledge that health struggles happen
The misconception in this health and healing community is that if we Paleo hard enough, we will be forever healed. If we just research more, eat more kale, do more crossfit, or meditate more, we’ll heal. That’s not always the case.
Sometimes health struggles can be out of our hands. Sometimes we’re hit with a stressful event that we just can’t control. And sometimes our bodies just change. We age, our environment changes, and we change.
As always, there a fine line here. If you’re not able to thrive, there’s a real issue there that needs to be addressed. However, if we let every sniffle, every off day, and every yawn control our life, we’re denying what it means to be human. Humans aren’t perfect, and no amount of obsession will change that.
4. Create a routine
If you’re at the beginning of your health journey, it will likely feel like you’re obsessing over it. So many decisions, so many different opinions, and so many new things to learn. Don’t freak out… this is normal in the beginning, and even necessary to form a new habit and routine. New habits, especially ones that are all encompassing like creating a new lifestyle take a lot of time.
It takes time to form it, but creating a routine always works for me. Even the most basic routine is an amazing way to make time for healthy habits every week, but makes it so you don’t have to obsess over them constantly.
For example, when I first started AIP, I would obsess daily over what I would be having to eat that day, and the next. I’d spend my entire drive to work recounting everything in my fridge, my pantry, and would make plans to stop at the store daily. This was obsessive, and exhausting.
Eventually, I had enough of it. Every Saturday, I would sit down and plan a rough outline of my meals for the week, and then I would take Sunday to prep 75-80% of what I needed for the week. I’ve done this for years. It keeps me from obsessing about what I should be eating everyday, and it’s a routine that I love!
I also do this with workouts. I used to schedule myself so tightly that I never had time to work out. Now, every week, I go into my phone and schedule my workouts like an appointment with myself. That way, I know that I’m making time for it and schedule around it. If I miss a work out… it’s no big deal. But, scheduling them helps keep me active without me having to obsess over whether or not I got enough movement that week.
5. Accept and embrace diverse friends and family who aren’t necessarily “heath” people
This goes against what most self help books will tell you. “If you want to be successful, surround yourself with successful people”. While I don’t disagree entirely, I think it can be a little much to be constantly surrounded by healthy people as it can influence more judgement against those who don’t pursue a certain lifestyle.
Don’t get me wrong… it’s so important to have a support system of friends and family who support you. However, don’t snub friendships just because they’re not “health” people. Embrace social relationships with people who have different interests, and want to do different things rather than just going to a yoga class and getting a green juice all of the time. It’s refreshing to get together with friends who just want to watch a movie and play a game sometimes!
That doesn’t mean you have to do what they do, or eat what they eat. But it’s important to remember that relationships have so much more to offer than just feeding into your own interests.
I can tell you first hand that living with health challenges isn’t easy. You do have to stay on top of it to make sure you continue to progress, and it does take a lot of time and energy. However, by applying these steps, it makes it much easier to make it a healthy lifestyle rather than something that’s controlling and exhausting.
Something that’s surprised me, and made me incredibly happy at the same time is how many people try and love my soup recipes. I always had the misconception that food blogs and social were really just for sharing sugar-y treats and fried comfort foods, and even though I love sharing those recipes too, my gut healing soups are incredibly close to my heart. It doesn’t matter what time of year it is… there’s always room for soup in every season! That’s why I’m sharing this fresh green Basil Zucchini soup that’s perfect for summer!
My one on one nutrition clients always leave my initial visit with them with some gut healing soup recipes, and my book, the 30 Day Gut Healing Diet Plan & Guide is full of them. Soup recipes are probably some of my favorite to share, because they’ve changed my own health so much.
Why I Love Veggie Soups…
1.They’re easy to make.
Especially with this particular soup being made in the instant pot, these soups are such an easy way to get a meal done! Where as stews can take hours, these soups are easily done in under an hour.
2. They’re packed full of nutrients and gut healing properties.
Soups always an easy way to get in tons of veggies and nutrients! You can easily fit way more veggies into a soup than you likely could on your plate, and mask certain vegetables for picky eaters. I remember never liking parsnips… until I tried them in a soup. Now, the rest is history.
Another favorite thing to do with soups that I always recommend is to add an extra drizzle of fat on top with something like coconut oil or olive oil. Not only does this make the soup more satiating, but these fats help us absorb the nutrients in the vegetables more easily.
And of course, bone broth! Bone broth is well known to promote gut health, and is the traditional way to prepare broth. Don’t cheat yourself by buying broth from a carton… make the real stuff.
3. The nutrients are easy to digest and absorb.
For those of us with serious gut issues, vegetables can be problematic. Fiber is hard to break down, and raw vegetables may be hard on the gut and the digestion. We can eat all of the vegetables we want, but if we’re not absorbing them, it doesn’t do much good. Cooking the vegetables in this soup well and pureeing them helps them to be more easily digested and absorbed!
Basil Zucchini Summer Soup (Paleo, AIP, Whole 30)
- 3 cups of bone broth (chicken is more mild, but beef bone broth works as well
- 3 medium zucchinis, peeled and roughly chopped
- 1 large leek, chopped
- 1/4 cup basil, roughly chopped
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- Juice of 1/4 lemon
- 2 tsp sea salt
- Set the instant pot to sauté and pour in 2 tbsp of olive oil
- Add the zucchini and sauté for 4-5 minutes
- Next, add in the leeks and basil and sauté for 2-3 minutes
- Turn the instant pot off sauté
- Pour in the bone broth, lemon juice, and season with salt
- Stir to combine
- Put the lid on the instant pot and set the vent to close
- Set it to manual, high pressure for 8 minutes
- Allow the pressure to release naturally and remove the lid when ready
- Either using an immersion blender or a high speed blender, puree the soup
- To serve, top the soup with more olive oil and fresh basil if desired
- NOTE : If using a stove top, follow all instructions above, and adjust cook time of the soup to 20-25 minutes or until vegetables are soft
That’s all there is to it! I love using the instant pot this time of year as opposed to using the stove or the oven, so I can’t get enough of these easy summer recipes.
What I love about this summer soup is that it can easily be served luke warm and still taste fresh and delicious. The summer flavors make it so it doesn’t have to be pipping hot which is also incredibly welcome this time of year.
Enjoy this healing summer soup!
I don’t know quite when it happened, but somewhere a long the way, I decided that I was going to become a complete local food junkie. I currently reside in Dallas, and haven’t ever been super into hometown pride in any other capacity, and I’m by no means a Dallas exclusive blogger. But when it comes to local food? Man… I’m obsessed. I’ve tried just about every farm store, vendor, and several co-ops and CSA’s in a 50 mile radius, and I’m on a first name basis with tons of local farmers. So why the heck do I even care? And how do you get your hands on good local food?
I want to start out by saying that the point of local food is not perfection. Your diet doesn’t have to be 100% local to experience the benefits by any means!
You’d be very hard pressed to even find folks who live on homesteads who are entirely self sustained these days! Convenience is great, and we should be able to take advantage of it here and there. It’s not about elitism, and it’s not about getting everything local. Maybe you just grow herbs on your balcony, maybe you get all of your eggs from a neighbor with hens, or maybe you have a local CSA you’re a part of. Whatever it is, every little bit counts! So why does it matter?
Why High Quality Local Food Matters For Your Health
If you’re anything like me and watch lots of Instagramers and read lots of blogs on a regular basis, you’ve come to find that stores like Trader Joes, Whole Foods, Natural Grocers, and the like are all highly recommended. It would seem that you just can’t eat healthy if you’re not shopping at Whole Foods. Though I love all of these stores as much as the next blogger, in reality, local is always best! Here’s why…
1.Local food = seasonal food which is huge for gut health, and health in general.
One of the absolute worst pieces of nutrition advice I hear is to eat the same meals and same foods all of the time. Though it may be convenient to have an apple every day, I couldn’t disagree with that notion more.
Our ancestors couldn’t eat an apple a day. They aren’t constantly in season. Grocery stores shipping in products for around the world trick us into thinking it’s available all year round. However, our bodies were not meant to eat the same foods every day. It doesn’t work with how the seasons naturally move and change, and eating the same foods every day is a common way to develop food intolerances.
Our bodies were meant to eat with the seasons, and our gut bacteria needs variety to feed on, and keep our microbiome diversity happy! Our gut bacteria eats what we eat, and feeding it the same food constantly doesn’t give it the diversity needed.
Eating seasonally is also part of natures important design for getting in a variety of different nutrients. Always eating apples as our main source of fruit limits us to just getting the nutrients in apples. However, when we eat apples in the fall, citrus in the winter, berries in the spring, and melon in summer, we’re getting a huge variety of nutrients that our body needs to thrive.
2. Local food is fresher.
Though it may seem fresh, shiny, and perfect on the shelf, food in the grocery store just isn’t as fresh. Especially when I’m living in Texas and see produce from Ecuador… I know that wasn’t picked in the last couple of days.
Local food travels much less distance, and can be much more fresh than Fresher food can be more flavorful, nutrient dense, and void of preservatives. I love getting local food that still has dirt on it!
3. Local food is more natural in general.
I’m not 100% perfect when it comes to eating local. Your girl still eats her fair share of cassava and plantains. But let’s be real… my Jewish, Polish, and Italian ancestors likely didn’t eat a lot of the foods that I have available at the grocery store. I can’t think of a single Jewish recipe that calls for plantain, and plantain doesn’t grow anywhere near me! Though it’s convenient to have this variety… its just not as natural.
Local food is how our ancestors ate and is just more natural in general. It’s how our bodies were meant to eat, and it’s really part of the core of paleo and ancestral living, in my personal opinion.
3. Grass-fed, and pasture raised really, really matters.
I cannot stress this enough. There is a huge different in organic meat from the store versus pasture raised, and grass-fed protein from a local farmer. “Organic” can mean that animals were simply fed organic grain rather than GMO. Which is a step up, yes, but cows and chickens still aren’t meant to eat grains. It makes them just as unhealthy as it can make us who can’t tolerate grains, which makes our meat unhealthy. So many folks think they’re soy free or corn free, but don’t account for the fact that they’re store bought chicken sausage may still be sourced from chickens who were fed soy.
The most healthful and humane way to raise animals is on pasture. Animals get more vitamin D, and more of a natural diet that they were meant to. It’s much harder to find meat you can trust from a store. I literally grill local farmers to learn about farming practices, and the difference in the meat shows. It tastes better, it sits better on my stomach, and it makes better quality bone broth and meals!
4. It’s more environmentally friendly.
Non pasture raised meat is incredibly terrible for the environment, yes, but so is flying mangoes from Chile to Chicago. Shipping food around the globe versus getting it from the down the street is not as environmentally friendly, and it’s certainly not as natural.
Again, no one is perfect at this… I eat my fair share of mango from the grocery store every now and then. But, the more local we eat, the easier we are on the environment!
How To Find Good Quality Local Food
One thing I want to get across with local food is that it’s closer than you think! So many people immediately write off local food as an option because they’re not immediately aware of options. It does take a bit of leg work to really find your favorites, but the process is so worth it!
1.Seek out a CSA, Co-op, Farm Store, or Farmers Market.
Local food comes in all shapes and sizes! You don’t need huge, bustling farmers market down the road to eat local. Here are just some ideas for what to look for when it comes to local food…
- Farmers Market. Yes, one of the easiest ways to shop local. Look for markets in unexpected places like church parking lots, libraries, schools, etc. They’re not always obvious!
- Farm store. Another convenient way to shop local, I’ve seen tons of farm stores that basically act as mini-farmers markets.
- CSA. This stands for community support agriculture, and is often characterized by having no central location, but drop off points for weekly boxes. Boxes often contain what’s fresh that week, and leave little room for customization. It’s a great way to get super fresh and local!
- Co-op. This stands for cooperative, and is often organized by a local community member who brings lots of local farms together to do a bulk drop off at their home/homes. This can be a great way to get a variety of local products in the convenience of your own backyard.
- Direct from a farm. Though I’ve never gotten the opportunity to do this too much myself, lots of areas have farms that either allow weekly pick ups on location, or will even deliver to your house! I used to buy from a beef farmers who would drop off our order once a month at our home, straight from the farm.
2. Look for underground local food movements.
Something that I discovered that really surprised me is that there are lots of CSA’s, meat shares, and farms that don’t really advertise anywhere other than social media. I’ve found tons of sources that just have a small group on Facebook with a home pick up once a month. It may seem modest, but I’ve used these small CSA’s as well and it’s worked great for me. Try and search “My town CSA” on Facebook to find groups, and you may be surprised at what you can find!
3. Use search engines.
Rather than just plain ol’ Google, I also use yelp and trip advisor to find farms I refer all of my clients to the Weston A Price Chapter search engine. The Weston A. Price foundation is all about traditional, local food, and they organize chapters all around the US of local vendors. This is how you can find tons of vendors that don’t necessarily advertise anywhere else.
4. Start a backyard or indoor garden.
And when all else fails, take it as local as possible… your own home! My husband and I just started a backyard garden and I’m loving going outside everyday to check on our little baby onion sprouts. It’s fairly cheap to get good quality dirt, and seeds, so I’m excited to see what results this yields.
If you don’t have a backyard, go for an indoor garden of fresh herbs! You can grow tons of amazing fresh herbs inside that are nutrient dense, and add so much flavor to your meals. All you need is one little rosemary plant on your windowsill to start eating local.
Bonus… My Favorite Local Food in Dallas
Since ya girl does indeed reside in Dallas, TX, I gotta give a shout out to my favorites! Y’all are life, y’all. (Can you tell I don’t actually say y’all in real life? 😛 )
Favorite meat providers:
- Juha Ranch – Where I get all of my bones for broth! Juha Ranch hands down has the best bones in town, amazing organ meats, and out of the world chuck roast. They sell at the Dallas Farmers Market regularly and a few others.
- Bois D’Arc Meat Co – The best eggs,chicken and pork shoulder in Dallas, y’all! Their beef is amazing as well. Tyler takes pride in his product, and it really shows in everything from their branding to their product.. They’re also super active on social media which makes them that much more transparent, trustworthy, and fun! I catch them at the Dallas Farmers Market.
Favorite Farmers Markets:
Favorite Farm Store:
- Farm To Fork Foods – Owned and operated by a fellow NTP, Farm to Fork Foods in Arlington kills it with local food!
- JBG Organic– JBG sells at markets in the area, and has a local CSA!
Early June is Dallas, TX means it’s already in the 90’s and pretty unbearable to go outside between the hours of 10 AM – 10 PM. The sun is killer here, and even just a short time outside can leave you completely heat exhausted. I grew up on Long Island, NY, and even though I’ve been in Texas since middle school, I’m still in denial that these Texas summers even exist. I feel bad for wishing 3 months of my life away each and every year, but I always find myself in the trap of hating the heat. So you can imagine how popular frozen treats are in our house this time of year. There are always fruit and veggie popsicles on hand in the Hoover household, and this year, I wanted to make something even more fun… Mint Chocolate Chip Banana Ice Cream Cups!
Mint chocolate chip was always one of my favorite ice cream flavors… that and cookie dough. But, we’ll save that for another day 😉 It’s so fresh, flavorful, and reminiscent of summer. When I started seeing mint leaves popping up in the late spring, I knew that I had to make some ice cream with them!
Now, the decision to make ice cream cups rather than a soft serve or a popsicle was pretty intentional and specific. I made a soft serve ice cream last year (my turmeric mango ice cream) and really wanted to switch it up with these. Something I really love about these ice cream cups is that they’re perfect little bite sized servings which makes them perfect for those who are watching how much sugar they’re getting, or even for just serving at a party to insure that everyone gets a bite.
Plus, seeing as they’re frozen in bite sized molds, they’re super easy to make and just keep in the freezer for treats to have on hand. And when it’s disgustingly hot in the summer, the last thing I want is a complicated recipe.
Not only are they easy to make and share, but they’re made from totally AIP, paleo, and vegan ingredients which makes them the perfect dessert to share at a summer gathering. And they even have a hidden veggie in them! No junky syrups, no thickeners, fresh herbs, and veggies? Total crowd pleaser all around.
Mint Chip Banana Ice Cream Cups (Paleo, AIP, Vegan)
- 3 frozen bananas, chopped
- 1 cup full fat coconut milk
- 2 tbsp coconut oil
- 10 fresh mint leaves
- 1/3 cup spinach, chopped (for coloring)
- 1 tbsp maple syrup (optional)
- 1/4 cup cocoa nibs, chopped soy-free chocolate bar of choice or homemade carob chips for AIP (not store bought as they contain soy)
- Add the frozen bananas and coconut milk to a high speed blender (like a vitamix) and blend until fully combined and creamy
- Add in the coconut oil, mint leaves, spinach, maple syrup, and cocoa nibs (reserving about 1 tbsp for garnish) and blend
- Spoon the mixture into silicone mini-muffin cups (you'll have about 16-18)
- Garnish the tops with extra cocoa nibs
- Place in the freezer for 3-4 hours or until hardened
- To serve, remove from the freezer for 5-10 minutes or until they begin to soften enough to remove from the silicone cups
That’s all there is to it! No ice cream makers, no complicated ingredients and no actual “cooking”. Whether you’re bringing these to a party to share, making them to stash in your fridge for later, or just to enjoy yourself, I hope you enjoy these yummy little ice cream cups!
Summer is coming! School is out, it’s already in the 90’s here in Dallas, and my husband and I are absolutely worshiping the grill right now. We have a cheap little charcoal grill that we got when we moved into our house last summer, but man, we are loving the backyard BBQ food right now. Tons of grass-fed burgers, grilled chicken and shrimp, and grilled veggies. Yum! We’ve already got a few BBQ’s on the agenda this summer and I’ve been thinking ahead to what I could bring as a side and settled on Avocado Bacon Broccoli Salad. Can you say, crowdpleaser?
Though going to meals at non-paleo/AIP friends houses can be daunting, the best way to manage it is always bring along a dish that is totally safe for you to eat, and great for sharing! That way, you’re not the odd one out drinking bone broth from a thermos in the corner, but the cool gal/guy who brought that killer dish that everyone loves. This Avocado Bacon Broccoli salad is perfect for that!
It’s creamy, crunchy, slightly and sweet, giving it all of the elements of a traditional broccoli salad, plus it’s full of healthy fats and veggies!
Typically broccoli salad may be made with cheese, some sort of dairy dressing like mayo, and I’ve even seen some with sugar in them. What a way to ruin a veggie side dish by dumping sugar on it, right?
This broccoli salad is made with strictly whole food ingredients that are all crowd pleasers even with SAD eaters. Basically everyone loves bacon and avocado right? There’s also a whole head of broccoli, crunchy celery, spicy red onion, raisins to give it a bit of sweetness, and apple cider vinegar for a little tang.
Avocado Bacon Broccoli Salad (Paleo, AIP, Whole 30)
- 1 head of broccoli, cored removed and finely chopped
- 3 stalks of celery, chopped
- 4 slices of cooked bacon, chopped
- 1/4 red onion, diced
- 2 tbsp rasins
- 1 large avocado, diced
- 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
- 2 tsp sea salt
- 1 tsp black pepper (omit for AIP)
- In a large mixing bowl, combine the broccoli, bacon, raisins, red onion and celery
- In a separate bowl, combine the avocado, salt, pepper, and apple cider vinegar and mash together
- Spoon out the avocado mixture and stir into the broccoli salad
- Chill the refrigerator for about an hour
- Serve within a couple of hours
It’s just that easy! Prep it on the day of a backyard BBQ or picnic as a perfect side dish to bring along. It doesn’t break the bank, it doesn’t turn up any noses, and it’s packed with nutrients and flavor.
It’s also the perfect, easy side dish to have on a lazy summer afternoon at home. My husband and I enjoyed it just by ourselves with lunch.
No matter how you eat it, enjoy, and happy summer!