Living Allergen Free is a Lifestyle.

Today was a day filled with pears and barley grass. I ate pears when I was hungry and drank a liter of barley grass in-between.  We buy powdered barley grass juice and mix it with water.  It’s a bit intense if you’ve never drank greens before, but I’ve been drinking it for years now and I actually love the taste.  Yes, it tastes like drinking grass.  Yes, I know I am strange.  Barley grass is highly alkaline and such a good treat for the liver.

I really don’t miss all the highly allergenic foods I used to eat.  My diet has been improving over the last 3 years, but in the last month alone it has improved by leaps and bounds. For instance, I tried some “healthy” soup from can yesterday that my boyfriend bought for a video shoot.  Nothing from a can can really be healthy, but it depends on where you are with your diet.  If you eat tons of processes crap you may like the taste of a healthy can of soup. There was really nothing wrong with this particular soup.  It was full of vegetables and the ingredient list was alright, but the taste was awful.  I haven’t eaten anything processed in over a month now, and my taste buds have changed so much that the soup tasted like nothing.  The vegetables didn’t taste like the organic vegetables I eat every day.  The soup had texture; nothing else.  If I’m going to have soup, I’m going to make it myself.

Now, when I bite into a crisp organic royal gala apple, I am in flavour heaven.  No two apples taste alike. They are all so different, so flavourful and intense.  It’s something I never noticed until I started eating more of a whole foods diet full-time.  Royal gala apples are so sweet.  I love them and I could eat them every day.  I pretty much do eat them every day.

The one treat I like to have is pure, dark maple syrup. I’ll mix it into my almond butter energy bar concoction and I make it a little sweeter than I should.  It’s my treat and I make sure I have a treat every day.  Sometimes I’ll stray, but never too far.

Today we went to Lit Espresso Bar to do some work.  I had a soy latte with some dark chocolate.  Since my entire diet is based on whole foods, I don’t freak out on myself if I have a stray treat here and there. Now, please note that I rarely have soy and I don’t recommend it to anyone due to the heavy phytoestrogens it contains.  It just happens to be my current, personal vice.  I think the only tho things I have left to give up are coffee and chocolate.  If I give up coffee, I pretty much give up soy and chocolate at the same time. They are a package deal.  I know I don’t do well with caffeine.  Caffeine is next to go!  I’ll give myself a month to weed it out.

I do abide from some pretty stiff rules all the time: no wheat, no dairy, and therefore, no diarrhea! A few days ago I found some amazing berry tea that I’d choose over a latte any day.  The trick to quitting a bad habit is to replace it with a healthier habit that makes you happier than the initial one. I don’t think why it makes you happier matters, just so long as it does.  That loose berry tea is the best tea I’ve ever had, and if I meet anyone for “coffee” you can be sure I am going to take them to that place!

If you have food allergies, focus on the foods that you can have. It won’t do you any good to pine over old foods that make you sick.  Focus on fresh fruits and vegetables.  Keep a long list of foods that you can eat handy, and stock your fridge with those foods too.   Hang out with people who support the way you eat.  It’s going to be pretty hard to eat allergen-free if you’re hanging out with your friends in a bar!

Allergen-Free Diet: Day 2

Day 1 of my self-imposed challenge did not go so well. I didn’t have time to shop and had to survive on bananas and peanut butter through the day.  Neither of those foods were on my “Perfect” list, but I still consider the day a success since I didn’t eat and dairy, wheat, soy, or corn.  Dinner consisted of a garden salad with a 3 oz rib eye steak and organic acorn squash.

I have included meat in my diet once again to see if I can balance my iron levels and clear up the last of my eczema.  All meat that we consume is organically and locally raised at pasture.  I still have the moral dilemma that comes with eating a living animal, but I am starting to lean toward the hunter gatherer diet as one that suits both my mind and my body best.

I enjoy experimenting with my diet and I’m a firm believer in food as therapy.   Time will tell if meat is in my diet to stay.

Day 2 of my challenge is shaping up nicely. We just received our local organic food delivery and there are plenty of fabulous fruits and vegetables at my disposal.  Breakfast consisted of a smoothie made with bananas and almond butter and lunch consisted of a few pears.  I’m not too hungry today, so dinner will likely be a large salad!

Allergen-Free Diet for 30 Days.

I have multiple severe food allergies. If I eat wheat I get intense abdominal pain and gas.  If I eat pineapple my mouth will bleed.  Anything with yeast or sugar makes me itch instantly all over.  I haven’t drank milk in years, and if I did I would almost certainly have instant diarrhea.  I am so grateful for coconut milk ice cream!  Coffee makes the skin on my fingers swell, split and bleed within half an hour.  I guess you could say that for these reasons and more I study nutrition faithfully.

I stay away from these things most of the time, but for 30 days I want to commit to eating an allergen-free diet, catered specifically to myself.  We are all sensitive to the foods we eat to a certain degree. None of us have the same allergies, but you can bet that the foods you eat the most often are likely food sensitivities.   Most people eat the same foods day in and day out.  And most people are sensitive to these 5 things: milk, wheat, sugar, corn, and soy.  I am sensitive to the first 4, but for estrogen-dominance reasons I try to avoid soy as well.

Without going into too much detail, your body can come to crave the foods to which you are sensitive and those  foods can become drugs on which you are dependent.  Take coffee for instance.  A few days without your morning java and you could have yourself a nice little detox headache for 24-72 hours. If you are curious, go cold-turkey.  I had mine for a solid 48 when I stopped regular caffeine consumption.  You might as well add coffee to the common allergen list above at #6.  And if you eat bananas every day, your body can become sensitive and dependent on them too.  The same rules generally apply.

This is why I want to give my body a break.  I want it to heal substantially.  I want to feel even more energy on a daily basis and I want to identify the foods that are holding me back.  To aid my quest for optimal health, I will use my food sensitivity screening as my guide. This test uses your hands to complete an energy circuit and give you detailed information on how your body reacts to food.  It’s not expensive.  I believe mine was somewhere in the $120 range.

From my test I learned that there are:

118 foods to which I have a severe intolerance

34 foods to which I am moderately intolerant

16 foods to which I am mildly intolerant

And 139 that I am perfectly capable of eating!  Finally, some good news.

My method of attack in this 30-day challenge is to stick to the list of foods I can enjoy. I glanced over the list of foods I need to avoid, but there is no need to dwell on things I am not supposed to eat.  Mangoes were a surprise.  But then again I reacted to organic mangoes after my 31-day water fast back in 2007.  Mango skins gave me a rash and I was in denial.  My body knew back then that it didn’t want to eat mangoes.

As I look over the list again, there are no big surprises and nothing I can’t live without for at least 30 days, and I’m kicking off the challenge right now with a tall glass of high quality H2O 🙂  I will keep you posted as to how things are progressing – the ups, the downs, the meals, etc.

Celiac Disease on the rise? Of course it is.

I read an article in the Toronto Sun yesterday about Celiac Disease (wheat allergy accompanied with digestive system hell) and how its prevalence is on the rise.  It’s 4 times more prevalent today than in the 1950s, and nobody knows why? Apparently the environment is blamed and so is our hygiene.  Since we’re eating less dirt these days, our immune systems are attacking themselves rather than the bugs around us?  I personally thing they should have had someone else write the article, because there are lots of people who have a general idea as to why CD is on the rise.

The environment is partly to blame, but you’ve got to into more detail than a vague “blame the environment!” Most North Americans are growing up on a diet that emphasizes wheat, potatoes, sugar, and meat, and their diet is often void of vegetables.

Even when people do eat vegetables, they’re are often cooked from frozen or they come from a can, meaning they are nearly nutrition-less and fiber-less.  If you want some nutrients, you’ve got to include fresh fruits and vegetables into your diet.  Don’t buy into all that “to increase fiber you must eat x amount of grains per day” crap. Fruits and vegetables are the BEST source of fiber.  I’m not trying to sell you anything here – seriously.  But a cereal commercial that boasts “12 whole grains” is trying to twist your arm into buying their product.  Don’t fall for their marketing ploy!

Most of all, the North American diet is to blame for our poor digestive tracts. Wheat and sugar are nutrient-void devils.  Between the two of them, they probably account for 95% of all bloating and the proliferation of bad bacteria in the digestive tract.  Add into the mix antibiotic medications, and you are completely digestive-ally screwed.  Antibiotics kill bacteria, which would be great except that they kill friendly bacteria too – and you need friendly bacteria to stay alive.  Being the devils that they are, wheat and sugar suppress the immune system as well.  Sugar especially beats it down – just 1 tsp of sugar can suppress the immune system for hours!

If you want a healthy digestive tract, then you’ve got to cut out pretty much anything that is advertised. If you cut out anything that comes in a package, you will successfully cut wheat and sugar from your diet.  Make sure you eat plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables, and get some exercise.  If you really want to get healthy, try adding a green supplement to your diet, and get yourself some probiotics – Not yogurt (dairy is yet another digestive devil), but probiotic capsules that you take with water just before bed.  This regime may sound like a lot to ask, but if you’ve got digestive troubles, isn’t it worth a try?  After all, if you don’t have your heath…

Has it really been 5 years?

Today marks my 5th anniversary with my boyfriend.  I remembered.  He forgot. And up until tonight, I thought that scenario only happened on TV.  But the night that started out with tears of disappointment streaming down my face ended in smiles for both of us.

He canceled his clients and insisted that we go out for dinner.   After calling 3 places, all booked, we settled on Café la Gaffe on Baldwin.  I ordered a bottle of gewurztraminer, partly because I love it, and partly because of the way it would hasten my forgiveness of his forgetfulness. The food was fabulous, and the company proved to be just what we both had needed – time alone, together.

You would think that living together would give us ample time to just be together, but throw into the equation two mini dachshunds under the age of 2, one home business, multiple webpages, one part-time job, and 2 completely different tastes in music, and you’ve got your work cut out for you!

With our trip to Paris now 2 weeks behind us, the rush of home life suddenly slapped me in the face.  But that’s why Paris was so good for us.  It’s important to slow down once and awhile. It certainly gave me some time to think about where I’m going.  I want to slow down.  I want to try the country life once again – this time in France.  At least part time.  Maybe springtime in France?  The thought leaves me wondering where the next 5 years will take us.

Life is a story.

Everyone has a story. Some stories are wild and flavourful and some are flat and repetitive.  Most  others lie somewhere on the scale in between.  I have a friend who adopts others’ stories.  Whether it’s intentional or oblivious adoption, I have no idea.  I do think there may be a chromosomal story-stealing gene out there just waiting to be discovered. I suppose one could take the theft of a story as a compliment, but it’s something I’ve never been able to master.  It still feels like some paperless form of identity theft.  It is for this reason that I try to limit contact with story stealers, but a recent brush with one got me thinking about why they do it.

I don’t see the fun in adopting a story.  Why have someone think that you did something really cool?  Why not just go out and actually do something really cool? All told, my story probably lies somewhere along the flat and repetitive line, with some fascinating blips along the way.  Sometimes I find myself in the most peculiar situations, wondering how I came to be in a particular chapter in my life, like when I was water fasted in Panama, or the time I found myself underneath a blue minivan hoping desperately that my Vespa would be fit to ride once I’d managed to get it upright.  It wasn’t, but I was relatively unscathed.

I can’t wait to see where my story leads.

Life is crazy, and I love it.

Each sunrise brings new opportunities and obstacles.  The trick is to think of every obstacle as an opportunity.  There is no occasion to which you cannot rise. All roads lead to Rome – although you may have to cross an ocean to get to one.  These thoughts occur just moments after I accidentally deleted my entire nutrition blog.  No worries, just an opportunity to fine tune my direction in life.  And I find myself quite happy about it all.  Was it really an accident?  I suppose I’ll never really know.

A recent trip to Paris opened my eyes to the possibilities in life. It doesn’t matter where you are, what you are wearing, or if you’ve got a sizable account.  Some people have everything you could ever want, but some of those people are also the ones who have nothing.  A life that appears seamless on the outside may be riddled with bullets. My life as a holistic nutritionist was seamless to some.  But it wasn’t me.  I feel like I’m just a kid in high school, just getting started, and the possibilities are endless.

While sitting in a café in Paris, basking in the glorious architecture around me, I could see myself staying behind, wafting down to the south of France, and setting up home base in a little French chateau.  I would send for the dogs, marry my boyfriend in a nearby castle, and live my French dream.  I would take pictures, travel, and write. For that moment, I forgot about my debt and commitments back home, and fully lived in the moment where I became that little French girl I had dreamed about since grade 10.  So what am I going to do?  I’m going to take pictures, travel, write, and do anything else that feels right.

My French is far from fluent, but I can hold my own.  I speak French in cafes, order in French, and ask any questions I need to have answered.  Give me a town where no one speaks English, and I will thrive.  I always got pretty good grades in school, but as I’ve learned throughout life, grades don’t matter unless you use what you’ve learned.  A few hours a day learning verb endings in public school never got me anywhere.  The French I do know was acquired listening to French music. That’s also how I acquired my French accent.  I don’t know why I am fascinated with the French language, but I know it’s something I have to master.  I don’t need a fancy car, a diamond ring, or anything else – in fact, I’m putting my Vespa up for sale.  These days I’ve wanted less, not more.  I’m just going where the happiness is.

High Fructose Corn Syrup May Contain Mercury

mercury_drops_large

A recent study published in the journal Environmental Health in the US found that much of the high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) that is replacing sugar in processed foods is tainted with mercury.

Mercury is neurological toxin – toxic to humans.  It is a metal that causes  kidney and liver damage and white blood cell imbalance.  It is related to underactive thyroid for its ability to displace iodine in the thyroid glands.  Significant amounts in the body can produce insomnia, dizziness, fatigue, depression, memory loss, dermatitis, and hair loss.

How does mercury get into the food supply?  Mercury cell chlor-alkali products are used to produce thousands of other products including food ingredients such as citric acid, sodium benzoate, and high fructose corn syrup.  HFCS is used as a sweetener to enhance the shelf life of food products.

The problem lies in the realization that mercury residue may be found in all products produced by the mercury cell chlor-alkali industry.  In 2003 the Environmental Protection Agency reported in the Federal Register that on average approximately seven tons of mercury were missing from each plant in the year 2000.  There are 8 plants in the US, each containing as much as 8,000 pounds of mercury, and every year, unaccounted for mercury losses are reported to the EPA.

Mercury grade caustic soda and hydrochloric acid are primarily used by the HFCS industry.  Several chemicals are required to make HFCS, including caustic soda, hydrochloric acid, alpha-amylase, gluco-amylase, isomerase, filter aid, powdered carbon, calcium chloride, and magnesium sulfate. 

If mercury grade caustic soda, hydrochloric acid, or sodium hypochlorite are used in the milling process that turns the corn and the cornstarch molecule into HFCS, it just may end up in your food.  Environmental Health Officers and researchers at National Institute of Standards and Technology found low levels of total mercury in foods they tested.  Researchers found mercury in nearly 50% of samples of commercial HFCS tested in 2005.

In 2007, the average daily consumption of HFCS in the US was 49.8 g per person according to the US deparment of Agriculture website.  But there are those who consume much more that this amount when you account for the amount of soda some people consume, while others consume none at all.

You may notice HFCS as one of the first ingredients on product labels.  Ingredients are listed in descending order by weight, which means that if HFCS is the first ingredient on a label, there is more HFCS than any other ingredient in that product.  And if HFCS is one of the first few ingredients, there is a chance that it is accompanied by traces of mercury, if it was manufactured with mercury grade chlor-alkali chemicals.

Since mercury is an accepted neurotoxic heavy metal, the American Academy of Pediatrics has recommends that we minimize any form of mercury exposure to our children to ensure optimal child health and nervous system development.  I would add to avoid mercury exposure especially during pregnancy – a time when mothers think it acceptable to indulge their sweet tooth – perhaps to the detriment of their unborn child.

Mercury isn’t the only reason I suggest avoiding HFCS.  High doses of unnatural sugars (and even the natural ones) go straight into the bloodstream and attack the walls of the arteries while spiking blood sugar in a manner that sends the whole body into an unbalanced frenzy.

Choose natural sugars wherever possible such as unpasteurized honey, agave syrup, daikon root syrup, and real maple syrup in small amounts.  Avoid commercial processed foods and simply look to food labels for some added motivation to avoid them!  Simply now knowing what chemicals go into the processing of HFCS is a good enough reason to avoid anything containing it, that’s for sure!

Source:

“Mercury from chlor-alkali plants: measured concentrations in food product sugar.”
Renee Dufault, Blaise LeBlanc, Roseanne Schnoll, Charles Cornett, Laura Schweitzer, Lyn Patrick, Jane Hightower, David Wallinga, Walter Lukiw. Environmental Health 2009, 8:2 (26 January 2009).  doi:10.1186/1476-069X-8-2

GO RAW NOW

Sick, tired, overweight, obese, taking aspirin, taking medication, unhappy, lethargic?

You have limitless potential.

Raw foods give the gift of life.  If you plant a fruit, nut, or seed in the ground, you will grow a tree or plant.  If you plant a burger and fries or a slice of bread, you will get mold.

On our coaching call for the Total Wellness Cleanse the other night, we talked exclusively about allergies and how they come about.  After the call, I was thinking – no wonder people develop allergies to even raw foods –  in my case it’s pineapple and eggplant that give me extreme problems.  Over years of abuse from cooked and processed foods, not to mention loads of sugar to feed the eager beaver yeastie eaters (Candidiasis), my digestive system was in such turmoil that my immune system responded unfavourably toward undigested raw foods as well.

Once the intestines have been irritated so much, undigested food particles obtain access to the blood stream, and the body launches all out war against the alien particles.  Antibiotics, sugar, wheat, processed foods, etc. open the door for disbiosis, altered balance of the gut microflora, and consequently a yeast problem in the gut.  Once this happens, allergies present themselves.  And I’m not talking about just the life or death allergies, but food intolerances that make you feel slow, tired, brain foggy, and simply tired all over.  And you may not even know about them!

All you can do at this point is continue to feel lethargic, or you can turn your life around and GO RAW NOW!

Everyone agrees that we should eat more fruits and vegetables.  But they think I’m some weird granola child when I tell them that I don’t cook my food!  What gives?  Maybe they are jealous.  Maybe they think they could never live this life.  Maybe they are too bogged down by cooked, processed food to open up their minds to the idea.  Or maybe, just maybe, they are sick and tired enough to see the light.  You can feel healthy and vibrant.  If you think you can’t, you can’t.  If you think you can, you can.  Every single person has it in them to feel their best ever.  And the best thing is – it’s your choice.  You can change your life right this second.  What’s it going to be?

Obesity: Genetics or Environment?

overweight

Does it matter?  No.  Of course genetics play a role, but since you cannot control them, let’s focus on the environmental factors of obesity!  Genetics haven’t changed much in the last few decades, but our diets have changed markedly. So I’m going to venture a guess that environment plays a HUGE role.  Get your environment under control, and you’ll get your weight under control too.

No one ever got fat eating vegetables.  Eat your vegetables, cut down on the crap, and lose weight.  The problem is that you never see advertisements for vegetables.  All day, every day, you and your children are bombarded with commercials and advertisements for ice cream, dairy products, colas, pre-made pot roasts, chips, candy, cereals, etc.  But how many do you see for fresh fruits and vegetables?

In the last century alone we have seen the rise and proliferation of so many diseases.  It’s terrifying to think what will happen to the human race in the next 100 years.  It has been said that our generation will see their children live shorter lives than their parents, and I agree completely.  Poor diets and sedentary lifestyles are affecting our health and happiness at alarming rates.  We used to live in a world where malnutrition was the biggest problem – in North America and spreading elsewhere, it’s malnutrition coupled with obesity!  Yes, you can be fat and malnourished, and it’s more common than you think.

Obesity is very difficult to treat when the diet stays the same.  People go on diet after diet, trying – sometimes successfully losing weight, but dieting is not enough.  Until you realize that dieting is not the answer, you will remain fat and unhealthy.  A lifestyle change incorporating good quality whole foods and a consistent exercise schedule is the only way to get trim and fit – and stay there.  For some people, this may mean strict avoidance of processed foods, while others may be able to incorporate some of their favourite foods back into their healthy diet once they’ve gotten their cravings under control –  but for everyone, it means a diet high in fresh vegetables and some fruits – for life.

If you are a sugarholic, as many people are, you may find strict avoidance of sweets the only thing that keeps you dedicated to your healthy lifestyle.  Those who are addicted to sugar are the most likely to suffer from hypoglycemia (low blood sugar), and are also the people who should avoid sugar altogether.  Research has shown that people who eat sugar go through withdrawal symptoms, similar to drug abusers.  When you eat sugar, your blood sugar levels spike and insulin is released to store the sugar into your cells.  Some will be used as energy, some will be stored in the muscles, but the excess will be stored as fat.  Once the circulating sugar is stored, your blood sugar levels will be low, and you will crave another sugar fix.  As long as sugar is in your diet, the cycle will continue. 

There is not one person that would not benefit from the avoidance of refined foods and the resulting blood sugar stability that comes with a wholesome, sugarless diet.  And while you may never be able to completely escape the advertisements and the bombardment of useless CRAP (Coffee, Refined Foods, Alcohol/Acidic foods, Preservatives…etc.), you can keep some awareness as to what you and your children are seeing on a daily basis.  The best advice I can give you is to keep CRAP out of the house.  You cannot eat what you don’t buy!

If you blame genetics for your problems, stop right there.  Genetics may give you the ability to become overweight, but it is your environment that causes it to occur.  Don’t give up like Oprah did either – when she started blaming her thyroid for her weight problems.  She had a thyroid problem because of her poor diet!  If you give up, you’ll never change your circumstances.  Whether it’s your weight or any other disease condition – they can all be improved – and often completely eradicated – by a healthy lifestyle.  You can blame food companies for your troubles all you want, because they are for sure part of the problem, but that too will not solve your problem.

What you simply cannot do is keep avoiding your dis-ease any longer.  After all, how many overweight seniors do you see on a daily basis?  My guess is not many.  So take control, get the help of a nutritionist if you need the support, and get healthy starting this second!  It’s never too late to change your diet – you’ll notice the effects of a healthy diet within days, and a huge difference within weeks!  The changes will be so evident that you’ll never want to go back!