Is coconut oil bad for you? Is meat going to kill you? Do I need to avoid nightshades? Is plastic actually the devil? Who shot J.R.? Okay, maybe not that last one. But, really, I think we’re all seeing tons of buzz regarding hot topic health news recently. From documentaries, to articles, to confusing and conflicting protocols, and different influencer opinions, it’s no wonder that so many people aren’t quite sure what to believe. Questioning is human nature. We’re curious creatures and it’s actually refreshing to see people second guessing their ideals at time as it suggests open mindedness.
However, the constant back and forth is maddening isn’t it? One second you’re following a paleo style diet that promised to lessen your inflammation, and the next, your Facebook newsfeed is flooded with articles and 60 second videos on how animal protein is the root of all evil. You were just so sure a few months ago… now you’re not so sure. Maybe you’re even freaking out?
I know the cycle because I’ve gone through myself dozens of times with health news, from seeing vegetarian posts on Myspace in high school (just aged myself) to watching Forks Over Knives on netflix a few years ago, I’ve second guessed my stance and wound up confused quite a bit. I’ve done pantry clean outs, Google binges, and full on freak outs. And today, I’m watching hundreds and thousands of people go through the same confusion and mini freak outs daily.
Health news and debates may seem like it’s at an all time high, but guess what? It’s always been there, and it’s not going anywhere. So, how do you get over it? How do you stop freaking out over health news?
How To Stop Freaking Out Over Health News
Do your research for the “why” behind the protocol, diet, or lifestyle you follow.
Back in the day, I used to just scour the internet and magazines to find the prettiest girls and figure out what they were eating. That’s how I wanted to eat. Why? For no reason other than I wanted to be pretty too. Greek yogurt, hummus, popcorn, and egg whites? I was in. I had no idea why these foods were good or bad, I just did it.
When I first started transitioning to the paleo/ autoimmune paleo lifestyle that I still live, I cut out nightshades and grains only because I knew I reacted to them. I didn’t know why they were actually bad for people with gut issues and autoimmune disease. When I was challenged on this belief (with movies like Forks Over Knives) my opinion wavered. I thought, “maybe this movie is right and all of the other food lists I read were wrong?”. The problem was I was just reading food lists, meal plans, and recipes. I wasn’t understanding why an autoimmune protocol diet was actually a good choice for me. I didn’t understand the crucial difference between factory farmed meat and pastured meat, thus, I thought all meat was created equal and fell for a lot of the plant based beliefs entirely too quickly.
What you want is to be able to understand the approach that you follow to the extent that when it’s challenged, you already have an answer as to why you believe what you believe. Not that a food list told you to, but that you understand why the food list said it.
Even with captivating news that says otherwise, I feel comfortable which is one that is grain free, vegetable heavy, full of healthy fats, and moderate properly raised animal protein because I did the research and know the why’s behind why I do it.
You don’t have to be a science nerd to understand the “why” behind why we eat certain foods. There are tons of great resources out there that explain these concepts in plain English.
Here are my favorite resources that explain the why behind the diet and lifestyle I share on my blog:
Be open minded, but firm.
Like I said, I often find it refreshing when I see people make big lifestyle changes and second guess their previous opinions. We’re not meant to stay stuck in a box. Research changes, we change as time goes on, and we should be looking at new opinions and data. We can even borrow nuggets/poppers (if you follow my blog you get the popper reference 😉 ) from approaches that we don’t agree with 100%, but stay firm in the big picture that we believe.
When I first watched Forks Over Knives (which is another plant based rules, animal protein drools documentary) I was not eating a lot of vegetables. Maybe I’d eat some baby carrots with hummus, but that was about it. The documentary was so compelling to me that I started eating more vegetables over night. I was at whole foods buying acorn squash and greens for juices the very next day! And you know what, I’m glad I watched that documentary! It helped convince me to eat more vegetables. Did it convince me to stop eating animal protein? Not exactly. I was open minded enough to make the bulk of my meals plant based by firm in my original belief that animal protein doesn’t have to be the end of the world if it’s properly raised.
So please, take what you can from the plant based movement! Truly, they make a lot of great points when it comes to eating more vegetables. The same goes for a handful of other protocols and opinions that don’t fit your lifestyle, but still have some wisdom to share. However, stand firm in the big picture of what you believe rather than completely making a blind shift at the drop of a hat.
Accept that no perfect health solution exists and that we’re all different.
Some of the biggest arguments over health news of our time are child hood obesity, heart disease, autoimmunity, and cancer. Clearly all incredibly important issues, and our modern lifestyle and diet have contributed to making those bigger issues… 100%!
However, before there was childhood obesity, there were children dealing with the plague. Before there were autoimmune skin conditions, there was leprosy. Before there was cancer caused by bacon and sausage, the Ancient Egyptians who ate a 100% real food diet free of processed food were documenting cancer… yup… cancer in Ancient Egypt. Some of these comparisons may sound like a stretch but the point is, sickness will always exist in some capacity and there is no perfect health solution to make us all invincible.
Since original sin, we’ve lived in a fallen world where death is inevitable and sickness has taken many forms and has had many causes over the past hundreds of thousands of years.
Does that mean that the pursuit of health is fruitless? Of course not! I wouldn’t be here if I thought that. But at the same time, when someone asks me what the ultimate answer is for a truly healthy body, I have to answer that there isn’t one that applies to everyone. We’re all different, and even when we figure out our own diet and lifestyle solution, we’re all only here for a short time.
So, at the end of the day, don’t ignore the health news. There’s always something to take away from it. But know your why, stand firm, and remember that there is no one perfect answer!
When you’re rebuilding your pantry from scratch, there are a lot of questions. I remember when I emptied out my all purpose flour and white sugar years ago and wondered what the heck I was supposed to do now on birthdays? Or what I was going to cook in without canola oil? I had been cooking with staples like corn starch, seed oils, iodized salt, and refined sugar for years! I had no idea what to do without them.
It was a lot of work to rebuild my pantry and find new staples, but it’s clearly made a huge difference in my health and my life to transition to these Paleo and AIP Pantry staples!
First, what are the best places to shop?
Whole Foods, Sprouts, and Natural Grocers
These are my local stores that I shop at the most of course, local stores vary by location, but this is where I have the most luck for pantry staples. Personally, Natural Grocers is my favorite!
Tropical Traditions is the only place I buy coconut products from. They harvest their coconut products traditionally in the Philippines, and you can really taste the different. I use a lot of coconut in my recipes, and often get questions as to whether or not you can taste the coconut in them. Of course it depends on your palate, but Tropical Traditions products easily has the best flavor.
Though they mostly sell coconut products, they also sell lots of other great staples like palm oil, supplements, and even skin care products. I love their coconut based lotion!
I love Thrive Market! Thrive is essentially Amazon for natural food and products that sells non-GMO and organic foods at a discount. I was skeptical for a while about Thrive, but decided to try it out and really like it. My favorite thing about Thrive is that they often throw in free products and give big discounts like 15% off your entire order… which is huge!
I swear that I basically get everything from Amazon. I’ve had Amazon Prime since college and have never looked back. It’s so convenient for getting everything and anything, and a lot of my staples come from Amazon.
Wild Foods Co
I just started using Wild Foods Co, and I highly recommend trying it out for spices, teas, and other pantry staples. Their products are super high quality, and delicious!
My Paleo AIP Pantry Staples
Other baking staples
Healing diets aren’t easy. With conflicting information, social pressure, financial constraints and more, it’s no walk in the park. But, I can tell you with the utmost confidence that transitioning to a slightly more challenging diet than my former SAD diet was worth it’s weight in gold for giving me my life back. Before I knew what I know now and was being told that I should be following a rotation diet along with all of my other restrictions to heal my gut, I was skeptical.
What’s the point of rotating your foods? Isn’t that just a whole other headache to add onto everything? How do you even practically do it? How strict do you have to be? Do you have to follow along 100% forever? These are all questions that I had about following a rotation diet that I just didn’t understand for years. And though I’ve gotten to a point where I can be much less strict, I attribute my past experiences with following a rotation diet to helping me get my gut health stable.
First, What Is A Rotation Diet?
The type of rotation diet that I’m referring to is switching up the foods that you eat on roughly a 4 day rotation to ensure that you’re not eating the same foods every day. Rotation diets alone do not heal your gut or heal food intolerances. Rather, they helps ferret out food intolerance, calm inflammation while you’re healing your gut, and prevent you from forming new intolerances.
It’s not about calories, restriction, or perfection. It’s about getting variety!
Why Rotate Your Foods?
1.We are biologically designed to rotate foods.
Man is meant to eat with the seasons. We are not designed to eat avocado every single day, because nature does not allow for it. In nature (or even 100-150 years ago) we ate what was local and available. We couldn’t drive to Walmart and get whatever we wanted that was flown in from all corners of the Earth at any time.
To be cliche but honest… eating the same thing every day is not “Paleo”.
2. Rotation allows for more nutrient diversity.
If we eat avocado as our main source of fat every day, we’re missing out on all of the healthy fats in olive oil, coconut, and beef tallow. Different foods come with different nutrients and we need variety for vibrancy!
Our ancestors ate hundreds of food a year… we eat a small handful and have maybe 20 in our weekly rotation, if that.
3. Eating the same foods constantly can cause food intolerances and impede gut healing
Have you ever gotten a food intolerance test. I have. And though I was intolerant to a lot of foods, I couldn’t help but notice that the bulk of my intolerances were foods that I was eating every day. I’ve heard this same complaint over, and over again. The foods we eat day in and day out can be the most likely culprits for intolerance, especially if we have gut issues.
Why? Like I stated above, our bodies aren’t designed to eat the same thing over and over again. And if we have permeable intestines and are eating avocado daily, our immune system is reacting to the avocado over, and over, and over again. Eventually it becomes too much.
Surely, the goal is to heal the gut. However, an important piece of gut healing is to remove inflammation, and stopping new intolerances from forming. Thus, a rotation diet can be an amazing strategy within a gut healing template.
How to follow a rotation diet for gut healing
Before you get too overwhelmed with all of this, I wanted to shout out my 30 Day Gut Healing Diet Plan e-book that I designed to loosely fit a rotation diet to help you along this journey that I struggled to get right for years! Not only does the meal plan rotate, but it’s designed for gut healing, it’s AIP/paleo, and it has shopping lists and prep guides to make it super easy to get started. You can get your copy here!
But aside from that, here are my best tips on how to follow a rotation diet…
Start with a 3-4 day rotation
When introducing foods and playing with food intolerances, the gold standard is 3-4 days to gauge a reaction and give your system time to process it. Of course, that varies from person to person, but 3-4 days is a good starting point.
So, how does that work?
Monday – Bison, cauliflower, arugula, cilantro, parsnip, coconut oil
Tuesday – Salmon, zucchini, cabbage, ghee, blueberries
Wednesday – Sardines (or another fish), onion, greens, kraut, avocado, strawberries (I have cheese on this salad which is not typically on many healing diets, but I’ve reintroduced it)
Thursday – Beef, leeks, carrots, beef tallow, apples
And on Friday, it starts over again from Monday! Obviously you can add in more things on Friday than just what you ate Monday… that’s just the next time you’d be eating bison and the rest again.
Track and plan
Sit down every Saturday and make a plan for the week, and consider all factors. Are there any crazy nights that week? Will you be eating out one day? Write out what you plan to eat for each day of the week, and use Sunday to prep. I use the notes in my iPhone to make a rough plan like the one above!
You want to track any symptoms throughout the week. As times goes on, it will become easier to see patterns and ferret out anything that isn’t working.
Simplify your meals
I know these gorgeous bowls on Instagram with 7 different kinds of vegetable in ⅓ cup portions each look appetizing. In reality, that’s not what you want to be doing if you’re following a rotation diet.
Structure your meals to be a protein, 1-2 vegetables, and a healthy fat. Keep it simple to give yourself more options to rotate! It’s easier to prep, and can be just as delicious.
The freezer if your friend
Let’s say you make a big nourishing soup with tons of veggies and eat it on Monday. You’re not feeling like playing with eating it two days in a row, and would rather wait until Friday, but don’t want to waste it. Throw it in the freezer!
This is one of the easiests ways to plan ahead and stop from wasting foods when you’re trying to get into a rotation habit. Most foods like meatballs, soups, and roasted veggies freeze well, especially if you’re only keeping it in there for a week or two.
Eating with the seasons is what nature intended us to do, and one of the best things to compliment a rotation diet. Go to a farmers market, or do a quick search every couple of weeks to see what’s seasonal that you can enjoy, rather than just buying the same things over and over again. Even if you’re on a four day rotation, that doesn’t mean that eating the same things that are not always in season within that rotation is the best course of action.
I try not to buy things like watermelon or pumpkin out of season, and really enjoy it when it’s in season. That way, if I happen to eat a lot of it over those weeks when it’s seasonal, I don’t really sweat it as this is what nature intended to do!
Don’t over complicate it if you don’t have to
I know what you’re thinking… “Are beef and bison too close? What about turkey and chicken? Or all cruciferous vegetables?” It can get complicated.
Start small. Especially in the beginning! The beauty of following this sort of plan is that you do really start to figure out your triggers. If you start to realize that chicken and turkey back to back produce some sort of reaction for you, then you can adjust.
However, when you’re just starting out, the goal is to just get in some variety and get in the habit of not having the same thing day in and day out.
Perfection is not required
Eating sweet potato two or three days in a row isn’t the end of the world. Don’t beat yourself up if you do. Even if you eat it several times a week, try and take the next week or two off. The point is that you’re not eating sweet potato every single day of your life, and not to be perfectly rotating on a four day rotation for the rest of your life.
I remember I would get so mad at myself if I ate the same foods back to back. But in reality… nothing happened unless I ate it every day for weeks and weeks and already had a tendency to having issues with it. Tiny slip ups are fine and you don’t have to be perfect every single day. The goal is variety.
It is hard… until it becomes a habit
When I first started doing this, I was cognizant of everything I was eating down to the oil and spice. It was a pain, and I felt obsessed and exhausted. For some folks, it can be too triggering of bad habits, which is certainly reason to reconsider doing it.
However, all new health ventures are hard. Whether it be going gluten free, picking up running, or following a rotation diet, it’s hard at first… until it becomes habit.
Eventually, you’ll start to get the hang of it to where it becomes second nature. These days, I just don’t want to cauliflower every day. I keep it in the freezer and only pull it out once or twice a week. I don’t have to think about it every day. It takes time to get to the point where it just becomes a habit to rotate your foods, but you will get there.
Do you have to follow it forever?
Like I said above, eventually it becomes habit to not eat the same foods every day. For me personally (and what I recommend) is to follow it more strictly in the beginning to get into the habit while you’re following a more structured healing protocol, and then just be mindful about it going forward.
As time goes on, you’ll figure out the foods that you don’t have to be as mindful about and your body just tends to do well with (for me, I know I always tolerate beef and salmon very well) and the foods that you have to be more careful with (for me, it’s reintroductions like cheese and almonds). You’ll eventually find your own rhythm, but more variety is always a good template to try and follow.
Is a rotation diet for everyone?
Of course not. Not everyone is in a place where they can start doing it full force if they’re already down to very little foods or have issues with restriction. I also wouldn’t recommend it if you’re just starting out with a real food diet.
However, I think it’s important for all of us to learn from this template to focus on getting more variety and not eating the same thing every day!
When I first came to the realization that my gut health was a major issue and a trigger for my Hashimoto’s disease, I got a nice little protocol from my doctor with some supplements and instructions on what to do to start the healing process, and to maintain my gut health long term. I walked out of the office with my little plastic bag filled with supplements and folders with instructions and felt like I was loaded up with everything I needed. And initially, I was. Everything in that plastic bag was more than enough to get me kick started and begin to feel good… for about two weeks. Then I had questions that I needed books to answer, ran out of recipe ideas, and needed more holistic support to manage my gut health long term. I needed a bigger arsenal of tools and resources to keep me on the healthy gut path! Basically, I wanted a gut healing tool kit.
Everybody is different. Everyone’s gut healing protocol will be different, and everyone’s journey to maintain their gut health is different depending on the landscape of their gut, their autoimmune state, and a myriad of other factors. However, there’s are general tools and resources that most folks can benefit from for a healthy gut lifestyle, but you’re doctors aren’t necessarily telling you about all of them. Which is why I wrote The Ultimate List of Tools & Resources For Healing Your Gut and Maintaining Your Gut Health!
One thing I’ll say about this list… it’s not an all at once type thing. There are a lot of things here, and you can easily add them on at your own pace. It doesn’t have to be overwhelmingly done all at once. Pace yourself, and take it slow.
The Ultimate List of Tools & Resources For Healing Your Gut
1.A holistic doctor and/or medical team
Whether you’re dealing with IBS, Hashimoto’s, or just some stomach cramping, the best way to address it is to work on finding what the root cause of your issues are. We can mask and treat specific symptoms all we want, but if the root cause is still bubbling in the deepest depths of your belly, more issues will continue to arise over time.
Root causes are complicated. It’s not always as straightforward as saying your issue is gluten. They can be an intricate web of various different causes that are hard to nail down. That’s why working with a doctor or health team to find the root cause is so important!
To learn more about finding the right doctor or building a team, check out this blog post.
2. Digestive aids
The exact digestive aids you need vary from person to person, but one thing that never changes is how important digestion really is. You just can’t heal your gut if your digestion isn’t working properly.
Here is a short list of digestive aids that you may want to ask your doctor about:
Stomach acid support
3. Gut health supplements
Again, this list varies from person to person and the exact order you take them in needs to be facilitated by a doctor, but here are some noteworthy supplements.
4. Good quality food & recipes
Just cutting out offending foods isn’t enough. We need to be eating good quality food to ensure the maximum amount of nutrients! Here’s what you’ll need…
- Local, organic vegetables (read this post for more information on finding it near you)
- Grass-fed and pasture raised meats (I recommend US Wellness meats)
- Wild caught fish
As for recipes, here are some of my favorite gut healing recipes…
5. Probiotic foods
If you have an overgrowth like SIBO, candida, or a histamine intolerance, you may have to do some healing before eating probiotic foods. For everyone else, probiotic rich foods are an incredible way to reinoculate the gut with good bacteria, and arguably better than probiotic supplements. Probiotic foods can be eaten in small amounts daily, and have a powerful impact.
I love, love, love sauerkraut, and probiotic drinks like beet kvass and kefir. I also love recommended coconut yogurt. One of my favorite brands is Coyo, and I’m also looking forward to trying the coconut cult. You can easily make your own, but I like having a short cut when I can take one!
6. Gut loving pantry staples
Find other great staples through Thrive Market! Plus, if you use that link, you get 15% off your first order 😉
7. An instant pot and/or slow cooker, and high speed blender
These 3 tools in particular have changed my culinary life! I don’t know what I’d do without them, and I use them multiple times a week. Here are my go-to recipes and what I use them for…
Instant Pot (can replace the slow cooker, but I still like having both going simultaneously)
- Soups (like this, and this)
- Smoothies (like this)
- Pureed soups (like this)
8. Great cookbooks
When you’re learning to cook healing foods without grains, dairy, and more, it can be hard to get started and to be creative. Here are some no-fail books that I’m always reaching for…
9. Gut health focused books
There is so much to learn when it comes to gut health, but empowering yourself to learn the basics and stay informed is huge for tackling a journey like this! Here are a few of my favorite books…
I value gut health so much that I wrote my own popular e-book!
The 30 Day Gut Healing Diet Plan & Guide is a gut healing meal plan, guide
and cookbook that focuses on teaching you how to build gut healing meals, guides you through 30 days of meal plans, and is full of gut healing recipes like soups, smoothies, gummies, and more. This book has touched hundreds and hundreds of people, and provides tons of support.
Get your copy here!
10. Castor oil pack supplies
Castor oil packs are one of my favorite gut healing tools to use, and recommend to my own clients. They increase blood and bile flow which helps stimulate detoxification and digestion. They’re especially helpful for those of us with liver/gallbladder issues.
Here’s what you’ll need…
Find instructions on how to do it, here!
11. Social support
Following an alternative health lifestyle can be lonely in a world of pizza, beer and goldfish crackers. Trust me, I know.
Having strong social support from family, friends, and liked minded people can help get you through the hard days, and give you more ideas on how to strengthen your journey.
As for online support, I created a facebook group, Gut Healing Support and also have a group for my podcast, Unbound Healing Community, and recommend the AIP Support group!
12. Go-to relaxation methods
Healing cannot take place in a stressed state. It just can’t. Excess cortisol damages the gut lining, and stress can inhibit stomach acid production which impairs digestion, and blocks mineral absorption of crucial minerals like Zinc. We need to be in a relaxed state to digest, and to heal.
If you’re dealing with something more serious like adrenal dysregulation, work on that with your doctor. However, lots can be done for smaller relaxation methods to help manage stress.
Here’s a short list of my favorite relaxation methods to recommend
- Short walks outside
- Yoga class
- Guided meditation
- Devotionals (I use the Bible App on my phone for new devotionals)
- Gratitude journaling
- Hobbies like sewing, reading, cooking, etc.
- Tea with friends
- Walking around Target (come on, you know you love it)
As is the theme of this post, not all relaxation methods are actually relaxing for everyone. Some people swear by these and others hate them. My most general advice is that relaxation needs to incorporate regularly! I’m talking 10-15 minutes a day.
13. Blogs, podcast, and other media
Here are some of my favorite blogs to recommend…
I hope this list helps you build your gut healing tool kit! Enjoy, and happy healing <3
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.
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!