Why I am Done Reading Health Blogs… For a While

If you’ve read any of my blog, you know I’m interested in nutrition and the importance of eating healthy real food. I have (in the past) been subscribed to multitudes of health blogs and followed the research on the paleo diet, auto-immune protocol paleo, the Weston A. Price foundation, organic foods, Sally Fallon’s Nourishing Traditions, so on and so forth. I’ve reached a threshold that I can’t take any more information, at least about health. I am in information overload. I stopped following all but one single blogger that blogs about many more things than just food. I feel that I know enough to live a healthy lifestyle most of the time and I can’t do any better right now. There comes a point where the health-food craze becomes almost a religion and people get overly zealous and judgmental and I don’t want to come near that.

I think this blog is going to turn into a different direction in the future and evolve as I am evolving and growing as a person. Even though I have 2 active children at home, I am always (when I’m not consumed with them) reading and researching and praying to improve myself so I can be a better mother and person. I have not been very organized with goal-setting, especially with trying to keep myself accountable in a public setting like this blog, but that’s something I’ll be working on. Hopefully I will be sharing what I am learning.

I have not posted in a month or so because I was tired of everything I was saying but I think I’ll start again and say something different. Writing is therapeutic. It clears thoughts from my head. It helps me learn by first thinking something, then writing it down, then reading it again (and again). It’s 1am so I think I’ll go to sleep now.

5 Tips for an Easier Labor & Delivery

I had very different delivery experiences with my 2 girls, and I did some things prior to my 2nd that I think helped me to have – what I would call – a perfect birth experience. It really helped me to read personal accounts of what other mothers did, so hopefully these are some ideas that might help another pregnant mother prepare. You could just say it was my 2nd child and that is why my labor was so quick and easy, and I think that is partly true, but I also think these few things helped as well.

  1. Drink Red Raspberry Leaf Tea. RRLF is a uterine tonic. I couldn’t drink a lot of this as a hot tea during the summer, so I would make a large pitcher of it chilled with some stevia and drink it every day throughout the 2nd and 3rd trimesters.
  2. Do squats every day. Seriously. Of course you should get regular exercise and be active every day, but this is one of the best exercises to open up the pelvis and get your body ready to birth a baby.  Other helpful exercises to help baby get in a good position for labor (and help with back pain) are: downward facing dog and cat stretch. I tried to do these exercises almost every day.
  3. Clary Sage essential oil. I only recently started learning about essential oils and I do not know much. But, I did read about Clary Sage and decided to try it. I started using it a week before my due date. I diffused the oil every night before bed AND I rubbed an essential oil mixture on my belly every day that included Clary Sage and Lavender in a coconut carrier oil.
  4. Relax but keep moving. How is this possible? My labor switched on and started to get intense right away so I immediately got into the shower and tried to relax and let my body do what it needed to. I tried to not think too much about it and just let it happen. After the shower, I slowly got dressed and kept walking back and forth to get things together.
  5. Prayer. I prayed consistently every night throughout my pregnancy that God would bless our baby and that I would have a faster, easier labor than my first. Praying about it also put me in a positive mindset that this was going to be a better birth experience and I believed that.

Water Kefir

I’ve made milk kefir for a long time now, but this week I am trying water kefir for the first time. If you are looking for the similar health benefits of milk kefir, but want a dairy-free option, water kefir is the next logical step. I have resisted trying water kefir because the culture feeds on sugar and I was worried about how much sugar this would contain, but I understand that the kefir grains feed and consume most of the sugar and create enzymes, B vitamins and beneficial bacteria, and this fermentation process reduces most of the sugar. The end result will be a probiotic beverage that could taste like juice, or it can be fermented further to create a carbonated drink.

I bought the water kefir grains from Cultures for Health and followed their simple instructions. Learn about the importance of eating fermented foods here.

Water Kefir (3)

Water Kefir (1)

Water Kefir (2)

Potted Herbs

Herbs

We planted some herbs and lettuce in pots on our modest little porch. We have mint, oregano, dill, chives, basil and romaine leaf lettuce. There is also a random jade tree that I put out there and am hoping does alright in the warm weather since it’s always been inside. Eva loves going out there and watering her “purple flower” (petunia), which was a gift from Grandma. As you can see, the builder has not done a thing to the landscaping, so the outside of our condo looks a little deserted, but it should be nice whenever they decide to add grass and bushes or whatever else they will do. We can use the porch door as a front door and come in that way, which is convenient. Eva loves this porch and uses her table out here all the time and brings out her toys and art projects. She is really good about not messing with the plants, she doesn’t play in the dirt or do anything with them unless I ask her to help. She does ask about 10 times a day to water her purple flower and I try to explain that once a day is probably sufficient, but she’s still trying to understand that.

Hashimotos and Hypothyroid Disease

About 7 years ago, shortly after we moved to Michigan, I was told that I had hypothyroid disease and needed to start taking a thyroid replacement pill every day to replace thyroid hormone that my body wasn’t producing. I never gave it a second thought. At that time, I didn’t have any symptoms, and I just didn’t care enough to learn more about the disease, and I just took the pill and went about life. I had my thyroid levels checked periodically and slowly my medication had to be increased over the years but I still never thought much of it.

Several years after that, because my thyroid wasn’t stable and I kept having to increase or decrease the medication, I went to an endocrinologist who did another test and said I had Hashimotos Disease, which is when your body creates antibodies to the thyroid and actually attacks it’s own thyroid, which causes hypothyroid. I still have a lot to learn about this disease, but there was sorta an answer to why I have hypothyroid, well I have it because my body has this auto-immune disease, which is attacking my thyroid and causing it to be hypothyroid or not produce enough thyroid hormone. But, why do I have Hashimotos? I am just now starting to learn about possible reasons why I could have this. It can be hereditary, but it can also start and be worsened by environmental factors and the food we eat! Wow, that is nothing I ever heard from any doctor I’ve had.

This week I’ve been watching this free seminar series on Thyroid Disease. It is free, you just have to register and you can watch each group of sessions for a limited amount of time before the next group of sessions replaces it and it is still ongoing through next week. I’ve starting paying more attention to this disease because I’ve had an onset of thyroid symptoms which are much worse than in years past and I think it woke me up to the reality that this isn’t normal and I need to pay attention and educate myself more or it is just going to get worse. I am the only one who is responsible for myself and how I treat this disease. It seems that there is a recent expansion of medical knowledge on thyroid disease, because it is just rampant across the United States and there are things I can do to heal my body instead of only taking a pill the rest of my life. It’s probable that I won’t ever be able to stop taking thyroid replacement medication, but I can reduce the dosage of it and stop it from needing to be increased periodically.

Diet & Exercise During Pregnancy

I wrote before that I was trying to eat more of a Paleo type diet, especially during pregnancy. I’ve done pretty well mostly eliminating grains. I still am eating some rice every once in a while, like tonight I’m making chili so I will eat some rice with it. I’ll try to eventually stop them all, but I need a transition period. I haven’t been eating pasta or bread or any of those processed grains. (Oh, I also ate some popcorn the other day and corn is technically a grain, not a vegetable.) I am not going to completely give up dairy right now, which some Paleo diets require, because I feel like I need it. I think if you follow more of a “primal” diet, they allow raw, whole, organic dairy, so that’s sorta what I’m doing. I’m not drinking cow’s milk, and have mostly switched to coconut milk for making kefir which I use for smoothies, and I don’t really need “milk” for anything else. I’m still sometimes eating yogurt and cheese, which I feel okay on, so I’ll stick with that for a while unless I feel it’s too much. It’s important to listen to your body and how it feels after eating certain foods and decide what is best for your body type. If you read Dr. Mercola’s “Total Health Program“, he talks about being a “protein type” or “carb type” or somewhere in the middle, and I am definitely a protein type and do better with higher protein and less carbs.

One healthy snack I forgot that I really liked was red peppers with cream cheese.

DSC_7361

We bought this cool looking cream cheese made in Norway that was on sale at Whole Foods and I love it on sweet peppers with a little sea salt. Salt can be a very healthy food, if you buy unprocessed sea salt, which is full of minerals. Eva also loves red peppers, which is great, I give her a whole one and she just eats it like an apple.

Buying high quality meat is expensive. I have been craving steak a lot during this pregnancy and grass-fed beef is the most nutritious but also the most expensive. We can usually get organic chicken for a little more than conventional, but I’m waiting to find a grass-fed beef sale to stock up. We also try to eat wild caught shrimp and salmon every once in a while.

I have been doing much better with exercise this past week. I’ve been doing the workouts from this prenatal exercise DVD that I bought used somewhere. There are multiple workouts for each part of pregnancy. They are short, so I can do 1 or 2 depending on how I feel. Eva sometimes tries to do them with me, or she just sits on my belly and laughs if I lift my legs or something. It’s quite an experience trying to exercise with a 2-year old around. During college, I used to work out every day for an hour or more, I was crazy! Life is so different now that being able to get even a 15 minute short workout in does wonders for my energy and well-being.

Regarding my supplements during pregnancy, I am taking this prenatal vitamin . The regular dose is 4 capsules a day, but I’m only taking 2 because my midwife said my iron was so high that I probably didn’t need a prenatal. (This could be because of the red meat I’m eating, or because I cook in a cast iron pan, which adds iron to your food.) But, I thought I’d keep taking it and just take less. I also am taking fermented cod liver oil, which is an amazing superfood and quite necessary especially during winter months when you cannot get outside in the sun for adequate vitamin D. It also of course supplies DHA and EFA, which are vital for baby’s brain development. I was taking a probiotic and a calcium supplement, but I won’t need those anymore since I am making kefir again with coconut milk. I had stopped making kefir for a while, so wanted the extra probiotics.

Ginger, Peach & Kefir Smoothie

DSC_7360

I just started making kefir again, after a long break. Kefir is a probiotic rich drink that surpasses any probiotic supplement that you could take. You can make it with raw organic cow’s milk or coconut milk, as I just discovered. Since I no longer am buying organic raw milk from the local farmer here, I’m switching over to coconut milk kefir. You can buy kefir grains from somewhere like here. You only have to buy them once because you use them over and over again and they even regenerate and increase in size, and then you can give them away to your friends when yours grow too much for your own use.

Anyway, I don’t really enjoy the sour taste of plain homemade kefir. It doesn’t taste anything like the kefir you buy in the store which is filled with sugar and other additives. So, I like to add it to smoothies. I experimented today and came up with this smoothie that was surprisingly really good and filled with superfoods.

  • 1 c kefir
  • 1 c spinach
  • 1 c frozen peaches
  • 1 inch nub of frozen whole ginger (I suggest cutting your fresh ginger into 1 inch pieces, then freezing. Trying to cut while frozen is really hard!)
  • 1 frozen banana
  • 2 tbsp almond butter
  • 1/2 c coffee (I only added this because it helps with the migraines I’ve been getting during this pregnancy. You can’t even taste it and it’s not necessary if not wanted.)
  • 2 squirts of vanilla stevia

Use a high powered blender to blend. Any regular blender will not be able to blend all the frozen items consistently, as I’ve experienced 🙂 I think that’s why I was never into smoothies until I got a better machine.

The predominate flavor was the peaches and ginger, which was a little sweet and a tiny bit spicy, so I loved it. I think it might be great with some mint added, so might try that next time.

Weight Gain During Pregnancy

I had a healthy pregnancy and delivery with Eva in 2011-2012, but I gained much more weight than is recommended and I’m hoping to not gain as much with this pregnancy.

25 Weeks with Eva

25 Weeks with Eva

 

39 Weeks with Eva

39 Weeks with Eva

I cannot imagine growing such a big belly again! It is so amazing what the human body can do. I’m not worried about it, I lost all the baby weight in a good amount of time after having Eva, but who knows if I could do that again and I just want to be more mindful of it this time. I’m going to try to eat a more paleo-type diet, which is essentially a low-carb diet eating natural whole foods, focusing on meat and vegetables, no grains, nothing processed.  

Looking back at that 25 week photo, I am remembering that I did not show until around 25 weeks. I was waiting forever to have a little belly and I was so happy when I finally looked pregnant. It’s going to be a while until I get to that stage again in this pregnancy!

Raw Organic Milk

I have been part of a farmer’s coop for almost 2 years and have been buying raw organic milk from him. He does a delivery every other week at a drop off location in Ann Arbor, so I’d pick up my delivery and then do my other grocery shopping while I was out. I found out how to buy organic raw milk on realmilk.com. This farmer sells other foods, like grass-fed beef, organic chicken, pastured eggs, etc., but I’ve found his other items to be much more expensive than just going to the farmer’s market and buying essentially the same things. So, I’ve only ever bought raw milk from him.

I don’t drink a lot of milk, but I always thought Eva would drink it, but she just has never gotten into it. She will take little sips here or there, but just will not drink milk like I thought kids loved to do. I breastfed her until 18 months, and then I thought she’d be happy to go on to organic milk, but nope, she won’t drink it. Then, since being pregnant, I have a list of food aversions, and milk is one of them. I just can’t drink it. I don’t even like cheese right now while pregnant.

So, I’ve been thinking and since I’ve been reading more about the paleo diet, which doesn’t include dairy, I just wonder why I feel like I have to have milk? I felt like it was vital to our health to drink milk (if it’s organic and raw). And maybe it’s just not. It doesn’t matter. I can get calcium from green vegetables, nuts and seeds. Here is a paleo site which lists non-dairy sources of calcium…(eggs have calcium? I had no idea.) When I was nursing Eva as a newborn, I eliminated dairy for a few months because it was irritating her, and I lost weight more quickly and felt better, so perhaps my body works better without it.

Anyway, sometimes you do things for so long and you don’t know why you do them, it’s just a habit that is ingrained in your mind and you feel like you can’t not do it. So, I just cancelled my coop agreement and won’t be buying raw milk any longer, and I definitely won’t be buying conventional milk from the store. If I need a milk substitute, I will buy almond or coconut milk, but I’m not sure I’ll need those too much.

My Philosophy on Nutrition

I thought I’d share some of my ideas on nutrition, so you’d know where I was coming from if you see strange ingredients in my recipes. You have to do your own research and decide who you are going to believe about the healthiest food for your family. Most people eat what they like and don’t think too much about what they’re eating or where it came from. Then some people are really into their own nutritional “beliefs” and very adamant about what they know is the perfect way to eat and everyone must eat that way or they are killing themselves and others. I hope to not be in either of those extremes. Because I’m taking the time to write about this shows you that I am very interested in how food affects my body. I read a lot about nutrition. When I hear new studies on how different foods affect people, I usually stop and listen. I know that if I feed my body the best foods, I will feel better, not keep on extra weight, and have a clearer mind. Food affects your body and mind and your future and I believe the food my daughter eats is very important for her development. I agree with the 80/20 rule which is that I strive to eat the best way I know 80% of the time and the other 20% of the time I will be just fine with eating whatever else is available. There are holidays and restaurants and being a guest at someone’s house, and I’m definitely going to eat whatever is graciously given to me during those moments. We are very blessed to have choices and have the ability to decide what food to eat, as many in the world don’t have that option. Anyway, I won’t put a label on how I eat because I know I’d fail to be consistent to that label, but here are some of the cookbooks and websites I have read for nutritional information and inspiration and I’ve tried or will be trying recipes from these places:

I do not eat a Paleo diet even though several of those resources are paleo-friendly. I read a bunch about Paleo because I heard of the benefits of this diet for those with an autoimmune disorder and since I have hashimotos and hypothyroid, I was curious if it would help. I am not completely there yet but I do cook a lot of paleo-type meals. You can gather from those resources that my goal is to eat a mostly organic, real-foods diet which includes lots of veggies, grass-fed meat, raw organic dairy, properly prepared grains, and no processed fake foods. There were a few months of my life that I did eat a sorta paleo diet, but at that time I didn’t know I was doing that. When Eva was maybe 2 or 3 months old, she was getting eczema frequently and I read about eliminating dairy and gluten from the mother’s diet because those irritants could have been coming through my breast milk. So, I eliminated all dairy and all gluten, and I didn’t feel like buying gluten-free grains, so I mostly just didn’t eat any, and her eczema cleared up and I lost all of my baby weight plus some really quickly. So, I think my body likes that diet, but I haven’t been able to stick with totally eliminating those things continuously, perhaps I’ll do better after we move, and I get in better organized with our grocery shopping. So, those are basically my thoughts on nutrition. I love to cook and love to try new spices and different meals, so I hope to be posting recipes of things that have turned out well. I’ll share more about some of my health goals in another post.