How I’m Healing My Skin & Acne

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I haven’t talked much about my skin here on the blog. Mostly because there are still so many other things to focus on (gut issues, hashimoto’s, heavy metals, chicken poppers, you know…) but also because I still don’t have it figured out. Part of me wanted to hold back because I didn’t have all of the answers, but here’s the thing… I’ll never have all of the answers. I’ve struggled with my skin and acne since I was 10 years old, and though I don’t have it all figured out, I wanted to use my platform to share encouragement, and what’s working for me.

Skin problems are really hard. It’s so hard to get to the bottom of, and pretty impossible to completely ignore. Our skin is one of the last things to heal in our body, so it takes tons of time to effectively heal it. I am titling this blog post “How I’m Healing” rather than “How I Healed”, because I’m still not there. However, I have made a fair amount of change as of late I wanted to share.

This before and during photo still isn’t easy to share… there’s risk in vulnerability. My skin is still far from perfect. But my health is a journey that is far from over. So here it goes… my before and during on healing my skin…

On the left, you’ll see a particularly bad flare from summer 2017. I was stressed, I was eating too much sugar, and I was trying tons of skincare that was only making my skin worse. It didn’t look like this every day… but it did look like this many times throughout my life. On the right, you’ll see my skin now, in March 2018.

Still not perfect, still healing, but so much improvement! My face is less inflamed, my breakouts have calmed down, and the redness has gone down as well. Oh, and I started getting my eye brows done professionally again rather than kidding myself that I knew how to do them 😉

Before I get into what I did to see these results, let’s start with the basics of acne and my own history…

 

What Really Causes Acne?

 

Food intolerances and gut issues

You had to know that I was bring it back to the gut, right? Our body is made up of what we eat, and if we have an unhealthy diet and an unhealthy gut, that is directly reflected in our skin.

Common foods that cause acne and skin issues more than others are dairy, gluten, poor quality fats, and sugar… just to name a few.

 

Hormone imbalance

Hormonal shifts are one of the most common causes of adult acne. It can cause the pores to get larger, excess oil production, clogged skin, and overall inflammation.

Hormonal imbalance that can contribute to skin issues includes (but isn’t limited to)…

  • PCOS
  • Hashimoto’s and other thyroid issues
  • Estrogen dominance
  • Menopause
  • General imbalanced hormones

 

Stress

Stress is related to all of the above and more. Stress of all kinds (emotional, mental, physical) throws off everything in the body and can easily cause excess acne.

 

Improper Skin Care

How we care for our skin is so important! Not washing off your make up, or neglecting strategies to clean up clogged pores and control excess oil can really be counter productive.

My Acne History

My acne started at about 10-11 years old. That’s almost 17 year that I’ve struggled. I hit puberty fairly early, and my skin flared immediately. I always had acne on my forehead, and it slowly started to migrate down to my cheeks, nose, and eventually my chin.

I tried everything from Proactive, to prescription acne pills, to prescription creams, to just doing nothing at all. No matter what I did, it would still come back. Even now as an adult who eats a good diet, I still struggle from time to time.

It’s isolating, it’s physically painful, and it can really kill your confidence. Clearly, there is so much more to confidence and self worth than your physical appearance. However, inflammation on the outside is a reflection that something isn’t right on the inside… and more than anything, that bothered me so much.

 

What I’m Doing to Heal

 

Continuing with a Healing Diet

If you read my blog regularly and follow me on social media, you’ll know that I eat a mostly Paleo and AIP template to keep myself feeling great with Hashimoto’s. Diet is the first step and so necessary for a health body inside and out.

Here are a few of the most important foods that I focus on…

  • Leafy green vegetables
  • Pastured proteins
  • Wild caught fish
  • Healthy fats
  • Bone broth
  • Fruits and starchy vegetables in moderation

 

Limiting Excess Sugar

This is a new development that I was denying for the longest time, but knew was necessary. I was correlating excess sugar with more acne… there was no question about it. I went though a Whole30 in February/ March and noticed a huge difference in my hormonal breakouts. It was one of my first cycles in years that I hadn’t broken out!

When I say excess sugar, I mean things like refined sugar, maple syrup, honey, and excess fruit and starchy carbs. I still eat sweet potato here and there, and enjoy fruit in moderation. Everyone is different here and it takes a lot of work to find your sugar threshold, but I’m still learning!

 

Working on hormone balance

This is an area that I’m still working on with my doctor. I have dealt with estrogen dominance and low progesterone and am slowly working to bring it back into balance. I haven’t retested my levels recently, but I’ve felt improvements for sure. You can read about what I’ve done here. 

Cutting down on stress

This is probably my weakest point. Guys… I’m a workaholic. I loveeeeeee what I do, but I can do too much sometimes. I have to force myself to shut off and step away from work or I will truly work 7 days a week, until 10 PM. I grew up in a family where this was the norm, and I fully admit that I am harming myself when I do this. However, it is so crucial to having a healthy mind and body.

Here’s what I’ve been doing to cut down on stress more…

  • I take more walks.
  • I have cuddle sessions with my cat (seriously, pets relax me a ton)
  • I hired a contractor to help with some Unbound Wellness work! Well, a podcast editor, but it saves me so much stress!! Our editor rocks.
  • I pray outloud. Conversations with God help so much.

Cleaning up my skin care

I’ll admit it… I’ve never been great about skincare. The problem is that so many products only made me worse! My skin was better off sometimes without cleansers and oil control solutions from the drug store that just made me break out more.

It hasn’t been until fairly recently when I decided to get serious about finding products that are safer, and don’t make my skin worse!  Here are my current favorites…

Cleansing oil from primally pure. I use this every morning and it really starts my day off on the right foot! It controls the amount of oil on my face and leaves it feeling soft and clean. At night I use the BeautyCounter cleansing balm that also helps remove makeup, but I love both of these so much!

BeautyCounter Charcoal Mask. I’ve been using this mask for years, and it really helps! I’ve gotten more serious about using it 1-2x a week, and I’m seeing the difference. Charcoal helps remove impurities and this mask is also great for spot treatment. When I have acne inevitably pop up, I use this as an over night treatment and it calms down even my most stubborn spots.

BeautyCounter Toner Pads. These are everything that I wanted proactive to be when I was 15. These toner pads help supply antioxidants, and control acne. I use them twice a day and cut them in half it get more bang for my buck!

BeautyCounter Balancing Facial Oil. This stuff is a game changer. It’s not cheap, but it’s worth it. It’s amazing for oily skin and moisturizes without adding excess oil. It’s made for those struggling with balancing their skin, and it does such an amazing job. I love how my skin looks when I use this!! I apply 3-4 drops in the morning and night after applying the toner.

Clay masks. I use the charcoal mask more often than this, but this is also a great option to clean out clogged pores!

Collagen peptides. I’ve been using this for a while, but I do really feel like it helps my skin! I take it a few times a week… not daily, but everyone is different.

I really believe in the mission of Beautycounter and am so grateful for what it’s done for me on this journey. I have a special deal for my readers that ends March 20th! Here are the details of my free gifts…

  • With any Beautycounter purchase here you’ll recieve my new e-book, “Healing Beauty Food Recipes: 5 Real Food Recipes For Health Inside & Out” for free 
  • A free charcoal bar and two collagen peptide sticks with minimum purchase of $125 (before tax & shipping) here.

 

Healing my skin is a journey that I’m still on. Like I said, the skin is the last thing to heal and it can be extremely volatile. Regardless, I’m so happy with my recent results, and I look forward to sharing more tips!

Do you struggle with acne and found something that works for you? Let me know in the comments!!

 

How To Plan Food & Health Blog Content Like A Boss

I know the struggles of writers block. Of sitting down in from of the computer knowing that your heart is calling you to share itself with the world, but your brain just isn’t firing. You have no idea what to write about, or when to write it. You see others sending out newsletters filled with several posts a week and wonder, “How the heck do they get it done?! Where do all of those ideas come from?”. That was me a few years ago… before I started planning out my content.

When I first started blogging, I was working full time, consulting part time, planning a wedding, and was going back to school to become an NTP… not exactly chill. Regardless of how busy I was, I knew that blogging was what I wanted to do, so I made time for it. The problem was that time was scattered all over the place. It wasn’t pre-planned, it wasn’t organized, and it showed in my content. Fast forward two and a half years later, and I almost make as much from my blog as I did from my full-time job. There are a lot of layers within that, but planning out my blog content ahead of time has completely transformed the way I blog. 

First, How Do You Know What the Heck To Write?

This is probably the biggest question within blogging. What do you even write? Here are some fool proof methods that I use to keep my blog content fresh…

 

Write with the Seasons

This is always the first priority. Does your content even make sense for the season that it’s in? Are you writing about ice-cream in the winter or soup in the summer?

Keep an eye on major holidays and back your content up at least 2-3 weeks ahead of time. You can’t post a Christmas recipe on December 23rd and expect it to go viral. You need to give it enough time to get out there, get social shares, and give time for people to plan. For example, I posted my cranberry turkey poppers which were a Thanksgiving recipe on November 5th. That gave it enough time to get around 15K repins throughout the holiday season, rather than posting it the week of Thanksgiving.

What Questions Are People Asking You? Answer Them In Blog Posts!

As someone with Hashimoto’s disease, I get tons of questions about it. One specific question was about thyroid medication. Everyone wanted to know about thyroid medication! Rather than typing out the same email 50 times, and making my readers do way too much work to find answers, I turned it into a blog post. Now, I can just forward it along, or readers can find it in my blog archives.

Whenever I feel stumped on what to write about, I go through my inbox and look for patterns of what everyone is asking. I almost always have ideas after that!

Keyword Research

This is a bit more sophisticated, and the next level of the previous step. It requires going beyond just what people are asking you, and looking at what they’re asking Google.

One of my favorite tools to get into this is just Google autocomplete! Type in something like “instant pot recipes” and you’ll see at the bottom of the page the suggested terms that relate to what you searched, such as “paleo instant pot recipes”, “pot roast instant pot recipes”, etc. This is a really easy way to get some ideas about what people are searching.

Another helpful tool is called Google Keyword Planner, which I got very familiar with working professionally with Google AdWords. This helps you see search volume for certain terms. You can also do this with more expensive, sophisticated tools like SEM rush, or Moz. As someone with a digital marketing background, I got a bit more training in this than most do, and I’m about to go to a 3 day conference on it in March again, so don’t overwhelm yourself with this step all at once.

What’s Trending? How Can You Put Your Own Spin On It?

Look around… what is everyone in your nice talking about? Turmeric? Collagen? Meal Prep? Whole30? In my niche of holistic wellness, it’s all of the above! I always keep my eyes open for hot topics and think of how I can put my own spin on them.

This method is how I wrote some of my most popular blog posts, such as…

 

How Do You Organize It?

Keep A Content Calendar

This is the single most important piece of the puzzle! Keep a master calendar that keeps you on track for at least a month ahead. I plan up to 6 months ahead at a time, but you want to be able to plan enough to make sure that you’re staying ahead of holidays, and have time to squeeze in last minute write ins.

For my content calendar, I just use google sheets! It’s free, and it’s easy to customize. You can also use something like excel, but I love being able to access my calendar from my phone or computer since it’s stored on the cloud. I keep separate sheets for the different seasons and have one column with the dates, and another with the corresponding post titles. Easy to follow, and easy to plan!

 

Keep A Detailed To Do List

Now that you’ve planned your posts, you have to actually get it done. You have to go shopping for supplies, take photos, write, edit, and promote it. I keep detailed to do lists to make sure that all of my content planning stays organized and on track.

However, it’s not all about making a to-do list the day of. Rather, writing out the steps that you need to do in advance to make a post happen. My favorite tool that I’ve been using for year for this is my Day Designer! It’s a paper planner that has pages day by day to make space for hourly appointments, and daily to do lists!

So, let’s say that I plan to post a muffin recipe on March 26th. I write in Day Designer to do list to shop for ingredients on March 11th, take photos on March 12th, and write and edit photos on March 15th. That way, I plan for each step to make sure it all gets done, and that it gets done ahead of time!

I’m on my fourth Day Designer, and it’s by far my favorite tool for staying organized and planning ahead.

 

I hope these tips were helpful! Let me know if the comments if you have any tips for planning content that you love.

Living With a Non-Paleo or AIP Spouse

If you’ve read my blog for a while and watch my Instagram stories, you’ll know that I’m happily married to a wonderful man who supports me, inspires me, and grows with me everyday. However, he is not Paleo or AIP… at all. When I met Daniel over 4 years ago, he was surviving off of prepackaged hardboiled eggs, spaghetti, frozen lasagna and all of your typical bachelor food. When we got married, it was an adjustment to learn how to live a balanced life for both of us being on such different diets. How do you like with a non-paleo or AIP spouse when you’re so committed to your own diet?

I want to point out that my husband still values healthy food. He’s happy when I feed him vegetables and healthier treats… but that doesn’t mean that he also doesn’t want to eat nachos and pizza! He comes from a family with fairly minimal health problems and has he just does’t notice any negative effects of eating junk food every once and while.

So, how do we balance spending time together, eating out, and eating at home on different diets?

 

1.Educate your spouse on why your diet matters for your health and wellbeing

 

When Daniel and I first started dating, I was mostly gluten free, and 100% nightshade free. I really explained to him why it mattered. I told him what gluten and nightshades did to my body, where you could find it, and how it would impact my mood and health negatively if I ate any.

Then, when I went grain free and AIP, I actually asked him to read Omnivores Dilema with me that discusses corn and soy in great detail to allow him to get a solid understanding of why I was cutting them out.

Yes, it took some time for him to really understand. Yes, we had some disagreements on some details. But at the end of the day, love requires wanting what’s best for your partner. After educating my husband on why it was important for my health and wellbeing, he was much more on board with supporting me and advocating me.

 

2. Remember that they can still support you without being compliant with your diet

 

One of the biggest misconceptions that I hear is that in order to be supportive of someone, you have to do the same diet they’re doing 100%. That’s not necessarily the case.

Don’t pressure your spouse or significant other into compliance if it just doesn’t work. Ask for support in other ways!

My husband still shows support by trying my compliant recipes, making himself dinner sometimes when I don’t want to handle certain ingredients that he wants, and advocating for me in social situations. He’s always the first one to speak up if someone is trying to convince me to eat nightshades, or if they don’t understand my requests.

I am beyond grateful for how supportive my husband is. It’s one of the strongest parts of our relationship! And it doesn’t have to require him going totally gluten free 😉

 

3. Define clear cross contamination rules

 

My husband and I have clear rules of what can and cannot come into the house. For example, dairy isn’t detrimental to my health, so he still eats tons of cheese. However, I just ask him to be thorough with cleaning up after using cheese. Where as, nightshades are much more an issue for me, and these rarely come into the house.

Daniel knows what’s okay for me to have around, and what isn’t, and I’ve educated on how to handle certain cross contamination risks like double dipping in sauces, washing silverware thoroughly, and so forth.

That doesn’t mean that my husband is nightshade free or gluten free. He still enjoys these foods while eating out or on rare occasions, but setting the ground rules for eliminating cross contamination risks saves a lot of headaches and arguments in the future.

 

4. Find compliant meals that you both love

 

Just because your significant other isn’t paleo or AIP doesn’t mean that they still can’t enjoy compliant meals! My husband and I have several favorites that we share.

Here are some great ideas for foods that you can share…

 

 

5. Use the “layering method” for meals that you share

 

One of my favorite strategies for sharing meals is the layering method. Essentially, you start with a basic meal that’s compliant for your diet, and layer on extras that your significant other will enjoy. For example, making my Instant Pot Chili and adding on good quality chips and cheese for my husband.

My husband and I do this often with a myriad of different meals, and we’re always happy with the outcome!

 

7. Shop for better quality versions of their favorites

 

Daniel may not be paleo or AIP, but that doesn’t mean that he has to eat junk! Regardless of what you spouse chooses to eat, I still always advocate for getting better quality versions to ensure that everyone stays healthy.

Here are some favorites that I like to get for Daniel…

  • Primal kitchen mayo
  • Rice pasta
  • Jackson honest tortillas chips
  • Siete tortillas
  • Sourdough or sprouted bread (I’m fine with some occasional gluten in the house as long as he’s careful)
  • Coconut milk ice cream
  • Simple mills crackers
  • Grass-fed cheese and milk

 

8. Explore ways to spend time together that don’t revolve around food

 

Though going out to dinner together is fun, it’s not always necessary for spending time together! Daniel and I focus on spending time together in more ways than just eating out.

Here are some of our favorites…

  • Going to the movies (and bringing my own snacks)
  • Having movie night at home with a shared meal
  • Hiking
  • Shopping
  • Bowling
  • etc.

 

I know that relationships are hard in a myriad of different capacities, but I hope these tips helped on the food front!

How To Set Sustainable Health Goals for the New Year

Thank you Artisan Tropic for sponsoring this post! All opinions are my own.

The New Year is here, and thus, new health goals! The holidays are packed with treats, stress, and tons of breaks from our normal routine, so it’s no wonder that resets and reboots are so popular this time of year. In reality, there’s nothing wrong with a little reset to get things going with your health. However, what’s really important is setting longterm sustainable goals for health all year… not just in January! This is especially true for those of us dealing with chronic illness, or autoimmunity.

“Resolution” get a bad reputation. Many folks don’t like the idea of just making a short term goal for 2-3 weeks and then going right back to your old life soon after. However, it doesn’t have to be that way. We can make goals today that are sustainable enough last us throughout the year!

 

Here are my tips for setting sustainable health goals for the new year…

1. Define your goals and have an action plan

You can’t reach your goals unless you clearly define what they are. We all want to be “healthy”, but what does that really mean for you? How do you quantify it?

Dig deeper than just “heathy” as a goal and give actionable goals like…

  • Improving your blood work
  • Being able to tolerate more foods
  • Lessening of pain or inflammation
  • Fitness benchmarks like completing a 5k, going on a big hike, etc.

Now, goals are one thing. We all have goals. However, what we don’t always have is a plan on how to achieve them!

Rather than just defining high level goals, my husband and I sit down every new year to evaluate where we want to be in the next year, five years, ten years, and beyond, and what our action plan is to get there. Don’t know what it will take to get there? Start from square one and just work up from there!

For example… years ago, my goal was to put my Hashimoto’s into remission. The initial plan back then looked something like this….

  • Research Hashimoto’s online
  • Experiment with different diet protocols
  • Read new books on autoimmunity
  • Find a new holistic doctor
  • Join some online communities

That was just the start! Then from there, I was able to flesh out my plan even more as time went on.

2. Find your favorite healthy staple meals and recipes that you can always lean on

Cooking and trying new recipes is fun! I love cracking open new cookbooks and making new creations. However, it can also be time consuming. Though it sounds glamorous, it’s just not sustainable to cook a brand new recipe every single evening.

Rather than pulling out a fancy cookbook several times a week, find your 4-5 staple recipes that you love and can lean on in a pinch. That way, you’ll able to still have fun and delicious recipes that you love without feeling like a fish out of water for ever meal. Reserve the fancy stuff for special occasions. For tons of ideas, check out my recipe page!

3. Find healthy snacks and treats that you love rather than restricting year round

I get the feeling of wanting a reset or a detox once January hits. Trust me! I enjoy my holiday indulgences as much as the next foodie. I’ve had plenty of sugar hangovers and stomach pain after one too many bacon wrapped dates.

However, we can’t live in reset mode 365 days a year. Balance is hard to find, but the best place to start is finding real food snacks and treats that you love that won’t wreck your health goals! There are endless recipes online that fit those qualifications, however, having convenience snacks that you love is always an amazing option.

One of my favorite snacks that don’t leave me feeling like I need a detox afterwards are plantain chips!

The plantain & cassava strips from Artisan Tropic are paleo and AIP compliant, made with real food ingredients, and are the perfect way to indulge in a healthy snack. The plantain chips come in a few different flavors like a basic savory chip, a naturally sweeter chip, and a cinnamon plantain chip for when you have a bit more of a sweet tooth. The Artisan Tropic Cassava Strips are basically the closest things I’ve had to potato chips since I’ve gone AIP and nightshade free!

The first time I had these was when I went on a business trip to Indonesia in 2016 and brought along all of my own healthy snacks. I broke into the bag on my way to Singapore and was blown away that they were actually AIP! The didn’t make me feel like junk, and they tasted so incredible! I tried to save some to share with my husband when I got back… but it didn’t happen that time around 😉

Plus, all of the Artisan Tropic Plantain and Cassava Strips are so tasty that they’re great for sharing! One of the biggest concerns that I hear from readers and clients when they’re transitioning to a healthier lifestyle or an AIP diet is that they won’t be able to indulge at social events. My answer is always to bring along yummy foods that everyone will love, and these plantain strips fit the bill!

4. Commit to movement that you actually want to do

Movement is a privilege… not a punishment!

All too often, we choose work outs that are oppressive and just too hard to keep up with throughout the year. Speaking as someone who’s been burnt out from crazy workout routines in the past, trust me, you don’t need to go down that road to stay healthy!

Rather than punishing yourself with gym routines that you hate, find movement that you actually love and want to stick to. It could be as simple as just walking for 30 minutes after work, or you could take up a new sport, yoga practice, or light weight lifting. Whatever it is, make it something that you actually love to do.

5. Lean on Community Support to Keep You Accountable

One of my favorite things to come out of my blogging journey has been the community here in this health community! I’ve been able to connect with so many friends and colleagues online that have supported me through rough patches, inspired me, and listened to me when I needed an ear. I created a Facebook community specifically for Gut Healing Support to serve as a safe place for community support to keep eachother accountable, and inspired!

 

I hope these easy tips help you along in making your New Years goals more sustainable for all of 2018!

How To Snack Smart On a Real Food Paleo Diet

Thank you, That’s It Fruit for partnering with me on this fun post! This post is sponsored by my friends at That’s It Fruit. All opinions expressed here are my own.

The health world is always divided on something, and one of the most divided topics in snacking! Is it good or bad? How much should you do it? What’s considered a healthy snack? These are questions that I’ve pondered myself many, many times! And you know what? Everyone is different. However, there are some good general guidelines that everyone can follow when it comes to snacking, that that’s what I’m going to share with you today.

First, why and when should you snack? It’s no secret that I love nourishing, nutrient dense meals and will always share recipes for those. However, in reality, we could all use a snack every now and then! Here are some occasions that having a snack on hand can really come in handy…

  • Traveling
  • Long car rides
  • Conferences
  • Long school or work day
  • Parties or events
  • Or just when you feel like having a treat!

Again, everyone is different. Having a little snack in between meals can be perfectly fine for most and necessary in many situations. As someone with food intolerances that follows a real food paleo diet and travels often, I depend on healthy snacks to get me through airports, long car rides, and events where I’m surrounded by food that would otherwise make me sick. So, how do you make sure you’re snacking smart when you’re living a real food, paleo lifestyle?

 

How To Snack Smart On A Real Food Paleo Diet

 

1.Prioritize full meals… don’t depend on snacks alone

This is placed at number one for a reason. One of the biggest mistakes I see with snacks is that people forgo full, nourishing meals and just snack all day. This is the opposite of what you want to be doing.

We still want to be having full sit down meals, and taking time to enjoy our food. Not only does this ensure you get in more nutrients, but it helps aid digestion. Digestion takes place slowly, and in a relaxed state, so if we’re constantly eating or are constantly on the go, it can be counterproductive. 

Rather than just snacking here and there throughout the day, make time for full meals and have optional snacks when needed.

2. Favor real foods and simple ingredients

When I first started traveling on a paleo and autoimmune protocol diet, I was at a complete loss for what to bring along with me on trips for snacks. Everything was filled with added sugar, canola oil, or corn based ingredients. Even snacks that are labeled as “natural” just weren’t the best choices.

Regardless of the convenience factor of a lot of these snacks, it’s never been worth it to me to feel terrible over one bag of poor quality chips! I’d much rather enjoy my day free of head and stomach aches and choose a real food snack instead. 

Favor real foods like chopped veggies (celery and carrots are my favorite for travel), fruits, other homemade options, or pre made snacks that have minimal ingredients.

That’s It bars were one of my early discoveries for simple ingredient snacks on the go that I’ve stashed in my bag on several trips, and have accompanied me to many coffee shop trips while I work!

These bars are made with just two ingredients each, and have no added sugars or juices. Their paleo variety of bars are made with just apple and another fruit. The first one that I tried during my early paleo days was the blueberry and apple, and I’ve always loved it.

I was also excited to see that they have a blueberry and coconut, and tons of other flavors! There’s an apple and pear flavor, apple and banana, and even black bean based bars for those who tolerate beans. 

That’s It bars are especially great for when you’re trying to conserve space. Sometimes I just can’t fit a whole piece of fruit in my purse or carry on bag!

Picking real food ingredients for snacks doesn’t have to be hard, and convenient options like these are making it even easier!

3. Plan ahead

If you want to snack smart while following a real food paleo diet, this step is always crucial! I’ve had entirely too many experiences where I’ve showed up to the airport or college campus empty handed and have been greeted with nothing but canola oil and sugar laden packaged snacks.

Think about where you’re going to be, how long you’re going to be there, and what you can reasonably bring. I often check with airlines and customs laws if I’m traveling, or double check with the hotel that I’m staying at if there’s a fridge in my room or not.

I’m known for always bringing a snack in my purse if I’m going to be out all day, and even packing an extra bag if I’m traveling with safe food! In the beginning, I felt silly, but as someone with food intolerances, it’s worth it to plan ahead than be sorry with a head and stomach ache later!

4. Balance your snacks

In order to balance your blood sugar, you want to make sure that you’re getting in healthy fats, proteins, and carbohydrates if you can.

So, what does that look like? Here’s an example of some snacks that I’ve brought along on a trip or a long day…

All of these together help provide more balance, satiation, and they’re all convenient enough to carry in a small bag!

 

When we find make the time to put in the thought for the best options, healthy snacking can be a breeze! I hope you love these simple tips and that they can be of help during your holiday travel and beyond. Feel free to share your own favorite tips for smart snacking in the comments.

How To Snack Smart On a Real Food Paleo Diet

Paleo Holiday Gift Guide 2017

The holidays are hereeee! I love this time of year for so many reasons that aren’t just gift related. Christmas movies, holiday decorations, spending time with family, and Christmas Eve mass… just to name a few.

Regardless, gift guides are fun to make, and I’m so excited to share my gift guide for 2017 with you that features some things that I love, some goodies on my own list, and some exclusive black friday/cyber monday sales!

1.Instant Pot

The Instant Pot is something that I already have myself, but one of those things that I talk all of my friends in putting on their list every year! I like to refer to the Instant Pot as a non-scary pressure cooker. It’s far safer, easier, and more versatile.

You guys… I can’t tell you how much easier this has made cooking. I use it to make hard boiled eggs, roasts, pureed soups, rice, spaghetti squash, and just about everything in between. You can steam, slow cook, pressure cook, saute, and more! It’s the ultimate kitchen gadget that can easily replace the slow cooker, and rice cooker.

Check out some of my recipes…

Plus, it’s on crazy sale for Black Friday!! 30% off!

 

2. Air Fryer

This is one of those “Do I really need this? No.. but I really want it” kind of gifts that I have on my list this year. My husband insists that I don’t need another kitchen gadget, but the kitchen is my office and cooking is my job… also, plantain fries.

The air fryer is essentially a mini fryer that uses less oil and still creates that fried texture. Now, there’s nothing wrong with using good quality oil! However, frying is messy, and all of that oil is expensive! So, it seems like a fun thing to experiment with and make AIP and Paleo meals all the more fun and interesting 😉

If I get one, I promise to share a recipe!

 

3. Berkey Water Filter

This has been on my list forever, and for good reason! Water is such an essential part of our diet and there’s not filter that does it quite like berkley water filters. These aren’t cheap, but they’re an amazing investment in your health.

4. Cute, comfy clothes. Mostly cute sweat pants… so many sweatpants

I’m a huge advocate for having clothes that are both comfy, and presentable enough to wear out if needed! With chronic illness, and specifically gut issues, we can all too often have days when we feel bloated, sleepy, or just don’t feel like wearing something uncomfortable. Let’s be real… you shouldn’t have to wear uncomfortable clothes all of the time.

Here’s my main pick that I have on my list this year…

And this isn’t just a great gift for women! When I first married my husband, I was both confused and disturbed that he would come from work and stay in his dress pants and dress shoes until he went to bed. After 3 years of marriage, he’s a comfy clothes convert and I have a few on my list for him 😉

Here is one that I’ve been eyeing for him…

 

5. Skincare and makeup

The holidays are a great time to switch over your makeup and skincare! Here are some of my favorites this year…

Primal Life Organics Coffee Bean Serum

This stuff is amazing on my skin!

Lily Lolo Palette

One of my favorite makeup items that I own! Palettes like this are so easy to give as gifts.

You can find more of my cleaner beauty favorites in this blog post.

 

6. Plants & plant accessories

I started getting into plants right around the same time I got a cat who loves to eat and destroy them… go figure. But really, gifting and receiving a plant is sort of like a pretty little member of the family that you can care for and watch grow!

Here are my favorite (cat friendly) plants to give and receive…

Succulents

Herbs of your choice 

Giving an herb garden is such a great gift for a foodie friend! Make sure they ones you get are pet friendly just in case 😉

Prayer plant

 

Here are some fun accessories to go along with your new plant…

This adorable little pot

This macrame plant holder

7. Vintage everything

If you follow me on Instagram, you’ll know I’m a big fan on all things vintage! I have a blog post with my personal collection and more details on my obsession soon, but here’s why vintage makes an amazing gift to give and receive…

  1. It’s more unique and timeless then whatever is trending this year
  2. If you do it right, it’s almost always cheaper
  3. It’s much better on the environment to give and receive gifts that are recycled.

 

Seriously… how cool is this 60s dress?

My husband and I bought my in-laws tons and tons of quirky vintage decor from Russia a few years ago, and saved big on unique gifts that they loved by buying vintage! We bought several pieces for under $100, and loved every single one of them. I also plan to do some vintage shopping for my brother this year!

So where do you get all of this stuff? Here are my favorite spots…

  1. Etsy! My favorite clothing shops are… The Kissing Tree, Parasol Vintage, and Dotto.
  2. The Whurl App (in the app store)
  3. Local thrift and vintage stores… my favorite in Dallas is VintageTex.

8. Experiences

Something else that my husband and I have started doing since we’ve gotten married is spending money on experiences and time together rather than just stuff. Not only does it help us accumulate less junk in our 1k sq ft house (we lived in a 500 sq ft studio when we first got married!!) but we’ve also started doing this with our family as well.

In the long run, stuff is stuff. Some stuff can make your life easier, yes, but time with people you love is far more valuable.

Here are some of my favorite ideas on how to gift an experience…

  • Book a weekend trip to take with them
  • Get a gift card for a spa day
  • Plan a staycation and treat them
  • Give a gift card to their favorite nice restaurant
  • Buy them a Groupon class, or event

9. Gift cards

An easy, never fail gift to give and receive. Here are some ideas and places that I’d recommend looking into…

  • Yoga studios (I asked for this one year and enjoyed yoga classes for months! Such a great gift!!)
  • Local spa
  • Tropical Traditions (stock up on coconut oil, coconut products, and more!)
  • Primal Life Organics (my new favorite skin care)
  • Athleta (my favorite athleisure)

10. The Complete Autoimmune Wellness Resource Library Bundle (ends Cyber Monday)

I am so excited that the Autoimmune Wellness Resource Library Bundle is back for Black Friday-Cyber Monday! This is the last time that this bundle specifically will be available, and it’s one that you don’t want to miss if you didn’t already snag it a couple of months ago when it first came out.

What’s inside the bundle…

  • Tons of beautiful e-cookbooks with over 1,000 AIP recipes
  • 20 weeks worth of meal plans
  • Guides with info on sleep, AIP reintroductions, and more!

Some of the e-book titles include..

  • The AIP Instant Pot Cookbook (I contributed to this one!)
  • 85 Amazing AIP Breakfasts
  • Holiday Feast from Fed and Fit
  • The AIP Italian Cookbook
  • AIP Gameday Recipes (my mini e-book!)
  • And more…

This offer is only available until Cyber Monday, and then it’s gone! Get it now!