Shopping List, Recipes, and All Things Elimination Prep, OH MY!

If you’ve ever found yourself feeling lost or confused as to what could be ailing you…maybe you have stomach issues that never seem to go away, experience skin flare ups or breakouts randomly, or have a digestive system that barely allows you to sleep through the night – it’s possible that an elimination experience is right for you.

An elimination diet is a short-term eating plan designed to eliminate potential “trigger” foods that could be causing allergies or other uncomfortable reactions. After a short period of cleansing your body’s system, these triggers are then reintroduced slowly, one at a time in order to determine which could be not as well tolerated.

The first time I went through an elimination experience was almost a year ago, and the more I’ve thought about it over the past year, I think my reasoning for submitting to such a challenge was simple: I was curious. In my opinion, curious is always an okay place to be…as long as you are open to what your curiously may uncover.

So I took a large step toward better understanding my own body and health and it turned out to be so eye-opening, I decided to do it again.

Fast forward through a whole year of learning and growing and developing, and I’m more excited than ever for round 2! There are a lot of posts about my first experience, and what I ate, or didn’t eat, and how I felt from last year’s posts, so I will just cut to the chase here and start with what you probably want to know:

Which foods are removed during an elimination diet, and for how long?

There are 6-8 foods which most professionals consider to be “common allergens,” so these are always a good place to start if you’re not sure what to eliminate: milk, eggs, peanuts, nuts, wheat/gluten, soy, fish, and shellfish.

However, elimination diets can and should vary depending on what you personally want to identify about yourself. Here is what I plan to eliminate this year:

• Gluten
• Dairy
• Soy
• Eggs
• Peanuts
• Corn
• Alcohol
• Caffeine
• Processed food/preservatives
• Refined/added sugar/sweeteners

I also have a hunch that even small carbohydrates in certain foods could be the culprit to some lingering digestive discomfort, so I will be sticking primarily to low FODMAP foods, excluding the above list. You can learn more about the Low FODMAP Diet plan here, an article shared by one of my sweet friends, Lauren Palm.

Most elimination experiences last a total of about 4-6 weeks, as it takes at least a few weeks for your body to rid itself of any antibodies which could be lingering due to a negative reaction (you read that right – so if you choose to never identify what your body could be negatively reacting to, you essentially run the potential of having perpetual antibodies just hanging out on your insides…ugh!). After this initial few week healing process, the next part of the experience is reintroduction.

How to do an elimination diet:

It’s really quite simple, and more than anything else I will mention, simply takes a little bit of extra focus and attention.

First, stop eating whatever foods you choose to eliminate. Maintain an otherwise healthy and fulfilling diet for 3 weeks, absent of these foods.

During this time, carefully read food labels to ensure you are avoiding even trace amounts of your triggers. It might seem like now, more than ever, is a good time for a cheat day but trust me on this one – you’d only be cheating yourself. The elimination diet WILL NOT WORK if you cheat even a small seemingly insignificant amount. The first step is allowing your body to heal, let it.

After three weeks, begin to slowly reintroduce one food group at a time. Don’t go wild and crazy, here. It might seem fun on the first day of reintroduction to make pancakes or go to a fancy Italian restaurant, but the point is actually to be pretty conservative through the reintroduction phase, introducing a single serving amount (1 cup or less, typically) of the food group in as simplistic and pure a form as possible. You want to introduce one food for 1-2 days before moving onto the next one.

This might look like a cup of whole wheat pasta on the gluten reintroduction day, or a glass of cow’s milk on the dairy reintroduction day. Pay attention to how you feel within about 20 minutes of consuming the trigger food, and be sure to record any symptoms or differences. If you calculate that one food or another left you with a negative experience upon reintroduction, you can confirm this food as a trigger food by eliminating it again. Essentially, the entire process is simple trial and error. The most important task throughout the experience will be to take notes, and listen to your body. If this is something you’ve never done before, you’ll be amazed at how much you can learn by pairing mindfulness with consumption.

 What foods can I include?

So as mentioned earlier, I plan to follow (as closely as I can) the low FODMAP directory of foods, additionally eliminating any low FODMAP foods which are captured by my essential elimination list.

Previously, I ate about 70% vegetables, and 30% lean meat, with the occasional and unintentional sprinkle of healthy fats. Since last year, I’ve been on a mission to learn more about what other potential eating habits could be affecting my gut health, and leading to uncomfortable digestive issues. At a high level, foods that are considered high FODMAP foods mean they contain high levels of sugars and sugar alcohols, which if poorly digested, can ferment in the lower part of your bowel causing the intestine to stretch and expand. The result? Pain, bloating, and other related digestive issues.

With this added knowledge, this time around the goal will be to aim for about 30% fresh vegetables, 30% clean protein, and about 40% healthy fats. Notice this leaves no intentional room for grains or carbohydrates…lending to another topic I’ve been continually researching as of late, but I won’t go into that too much now…

Vegetables, especially leafy greens, cruciferous veggies like Brussel sprouts and broccoli, mushrooms, squash, radishes, and sprouts are all good for healing your body! In addition to avocados, some other healthy fat sources include coconut oil, olive oil, nuts, and seeds.

If you can’t imagine going without any source of grains, try to keep them at bay by only including them as about 10% of your food intake, and stick to gluten-free lighter grains like quinoa, buckwheat, and gluten-free oatmeal.

What else can I eat, and how about some recipes? 

So the real juicy inside info I know many of you have been waiting for – my shopping list, and recipe book to meal prep for the diet.

To preface, I’ve always imagined this could be a bit of a letdown if your expectations thirst for flare and excitement. The honest truth: this experience is very plain when it comes to ingredients. I mean, that’s the whole point, isn’t it? Don’t get me wrong – that does NOT by any means lead to tasteless, boring, or repetitive meals. I just mean to be upfront that what you see is very literally what you get, and you’ll notice the recipes are just as simplistic as the ingredients. Surely you can hit up some other spaces on the internet to find more shazam for your kitchen, if that’s what you’re into. For me, however, I find it easier to stay motivated as long as my food taste good, and minimal work is involved.

So without further ado – my shopping list:

Some other staples include plenty of spices, herbs and other flavor adders such as Salt, Pepper, Turmeric, Coconut Aminos (taste exactly like soy sauce), Avocado Oil, Red Chili Flakes, Everything Bagel Seasoning (from Trader Joes), plus I drink pretty much allll the herbal tea – just make sure to read the ingredients and especially watch out for soy letchin.

So what do you plan to eat?

Like I said – to me, simple is key. I plan to stick to a protein smoothie for breakfast, using vanilla Garden of Life plant-based protein. The ingredients might look something like this:

Breakfast Smoothie
1-2 scoops vanilla protein
10 frozen berries
bunch of spinach, kale, or other green
1/2 – 1 cup almond milk or water
handful of seeds, if desired

I typically will pack snacks for at least the first few days, in case I find myself hungry between meals. I will plan to share some fat-ball recipes later this week! In my experience, however, this lingering hunger between meals will go away as my body starts to heal, so snacks will become less necessary overtime.

Snacks
5-10 Sprouted and roasted almonds
1-2 Small kiwi, peeled and sliced
1 Medium clementine, mandarin, or orange
Couple slices of pickled beets
1 Cup fresh grapes

In my opinion, lunch should be especially easy since it typically has to be prepared ahead of time. I tend to stick to salads, or take leftovers from the previous night’s dinner. My first week lunches will probably be something like the following:

Chicken Salad
1 Cup of chopped romaine
Unlimited amount of kale, if more greens desired
1/4 – 1/2 Medium avocado, chopped
1/2 Lb plain boiled chicken, shredded or cubed (I love the Simple Truth chicken selection from Kroger)
1 Slice cooked bacon, crumbled
1-2 Anchovies, if desired (excellent added low carb source of protein!)
Avocado oil + balsamic vinegar
Everything Bagel Seasoning, if desired

I also like adding pickled beets to my salad, and you can pretty much add any vegetables you want! Carrots, celery, bell peppers? Salads are an easy way to easily and quickly experiment while you food prep. Just be careful to stick to clean dressing options, like a fat-based oil, and natural herbs or spices to add flavors.

Egg Roll in a Bowl (Recipe makes 3-4 servings)
1 Lb ground pork
16 Oz bag of coleslaw, cabbage and carrot mix (avoid preservatives and artificials!)
1 teaspoon ginger, minced
1/3 Cup Coconut Aminos
2 Tbsp Sesame Oil
Green onions, for garnish/topping

In a small bowl, combine the ginger, coconut aminos, and oil – set aside. Brown the pork in a large skillet, then add in the cabbage/coleslaw. Add the sauce mixture to the meat and veggies and stir to combine, cooking for about 3-5 minutes until the veggies are wilted. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and chopped green onions.

When it comes to dinner, we tend to stick to just simple meat and veggies. This week we will likely enjoy salmon and cooked Brussel sprouts or carrots a couple of nights, then maybe make a soup to last the next couple of days. Brenen has been talking about curry a lot lately, so here is what my soup recipe may look like:

Chicken Curry Soup
14 Oz Chicken Broth (Pacific, found at Kroger, is a great brand!)
14 Oz unsweetened full fat coconut milk
1/2 Tbsp Curry powder
1 Jalapeno chili, seeded, minced
4 boneless skinless chicken breast, cut into 1/4-3/4 inch pieces
2 Tbsp fresh lime juice
1/4 Cup chopped green onion
1/4 Cup chopped fresh cilantro

In a medium saucepan, combine chicken broth, coconut milk, curry powder, and chili and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Add in the chicken and simmer until the chicken is cooked through (5-10 minutes), stirring occasionally. Mix in the lime juice, and season with salt and pepper, if desired. Add in the lime wedge, green onion and cilantro as a topping right before eating. This soup is also excellent with cooked white rice, but we will be avoiding rice, personally!

I know this was a longer read, but I hope you find the information and recipe/shopping ideas helpful. I am so excited to begin this journey (again) with some awesome friends joining along, so please feel free to share any other ideas you might have, questions I can answer, or just general thoughts on how things are going along the way. 🙂

I will be back with more updates soon! Good luck, and have fun!

So You’re About to Start A New Diet?

I can appreciate all the sides of the “dieting” arguments out there, and it’s no secret that many in the health and wellness community would disapprove of any form of a constricting diet regimen. I, on the other hand, strongly disapprove of closed-mindedness – on condition. When I think about restricting what you consume, I frame it more as a way of preservation. I don’t remove things from my diet to punish, or torture myself – I choose to remove what I believe (based on research and communication with my own body) actually causes more harm than good. Ideally, once these foods are removed, they stay removed. Therefore, I am not simply participating in an elimination diet, but I am embarking on the first step of a journey toward understanding more about my body.

I strategically plot to improve my overall wellbeing by structuring a dietary regimen that will support the areas through which I define such a state: stable mood, quality sleep, energy level, comfortable digestion…to name a few.

To be perfectly honest, I think it would be difficult for me to support any kind of diet-altering plan that wasn’t backed by some kind of research, be it personal at the very least, but I can whole-heartedly and confidently stand behind any well-organized and thought out attempt to feel better.

With the new year off to the races, and many of us “trying new things,” read on for my top 5 tips for switching up your diet/nutrition, not just for a moment, but in order to cultivate a serious change in your relationship with nutrition + everything else. After all, food is fuel – might as well customize what drives you.

1.     Make Sure It’s Healthy

A healthy eating plan should include foods you enjoy, along with plenty of healthy foods such as fruits, vegetables, lean meats, seafood, etc. And take note on what ‘healthy’ means in that previous sentence. It depends greatly on your overall goal of dieting as to what ‘healthy’ might mean to you. If you are attempting to lose weight, maybe these healthy foods include low-fat diary, and whole grains. If you are attempting to uncover potential trigger foods that could be the root cause of a perpetual discomfort in your body, maybe you stick to all natural substances like nuts and beans, instead. The only way to actually feel good is to make sure you are consuming a healthy amount of nutrients that your body needs in order to survive, and the only way to make sure you are in tune with this information is to read, and learn, and be open to the discovery. Don’t start a new diet without knowledge of how it might affect you.

2.     Take Baby Steps/Track/Prepare

Change is hard. The ideal approach to creating new habits it replacing them gradually, and experts agree, this is actually the best way to overhaul your diet. If a goal of yours is to simply drink less soda, then maybe the goal today should be to drink less than you did yesterday, and so on. Don’t stress yourself out by attempting to quit something you love cold turkey – spoiler alert: it’ll be incredibly difficult to maintain, and you’ll likely end up feeling disappointed and discouraged if you’re not successful right away. I wanted to stop drinking coffee, which I LOVE, and averaged 2-3 cups of every day. It took me almost 6 weeks to even completely ween off of it, and every single day that I turn down a cup is a successful day to me. I’m still taking baby steps, even after it seems the goal has been reached. Track your progress using your phone, or a note book, or even a handy tracking app like My Fitness Pal or Fat Secret. Even if part of your diet is not necessarily focused on calorie/macro counting, having the ability to actually see what you’re consuming and how it adds up can be extremely powerful, and encouraging. Write everything down! From how you’re feeling to what you did that day. You will be surprised looking back at the progress you’ve made internally from improving your diet. Consider it like progress photos for the mind.

Overall, the most important part of this step is to be prepared. Similarly to doing your research ahead of time, make sure you are prepared for any potential obstacles that may present themselves to throw you off course. Have a company happy hour coming up? Know ahead of time what you can get from the menu, or pack a snack/eat before you go and politely sip on soda water at the event. Plan your shopping trips so that you have plenty of time to get everything you need, and then plan your meal-prep day so that you are not stressed out, or end up going hungry because you didn’t make enough food for lunch AND dinner one night. Prepare until you feel over-prepared and then prepare some more.

3.     Set Realistic Goals

It often seems that those who wish to change their lives the most are the ones who set the most lofty, unrealistic goals. What you may not realize is that even a 5-10% change may make a huge difference in how you feel. Set realistic goals so that you can feel accomplished when you reach them. If you are attempting to lose weight, keep in mind that it’s recommended to strive for shedding no more than 1-2 pounds a week. Slow and steady…or rather, focused and consistent wins the race in developing habits that you can sustain for the rest of your life.

4.     Clean Out/Start Fresh

As it reads, if you’re attempting to switch up your diet, then you might as well actually do just that. Not only will cleaning out your kitchen prevent you from feeling tempted by the sugary snacks you’re used to having, but it will support the overall fresh start that you are attempting to give to your health. Donate the foods you don’t want to a food bank, or neighbor. Don’t put them in the bottom of a closet – get them out of the house! Eliminate the possibility of having a crutch, and simply dispose of anything that doesn’t fit into your new lifestyle. This will be HUGELY impactful to making changes that remain consistent, and not just for a phase.

5.     Experiment and have fun!

Finally – the most important of all – have fun! If you find yourself miserable, hating the idea of every new day, you’re definitely doing something terribly wrong. Use the new opportunity to get in touch with yourself – try new things, explore more about yourself and your surroundings. DON’T sit at home on the weekend sulking because you can’t go out with friends due to your new diet…instead, use the opportunity to see if there are any cool restaurants around town where you can enjoy healthy options. Invite friends out for a movie instead of drinks. Experiment in the kitchen – maybe buy a new cookbook and play around with recipes. Whatever you do – take advantage of this time. You’re not just doing a thing, you’re creating a chapter of your life which has the potential to affect the entire rest of the story. Make it your own, be proud of yourself, and enjoy it!

Good luck!

The ACV Chronicles

It’s no secret that I tend to “go through phases” when it comes to experimenting with my health. Unique to this cycle, Apple Cider Vinegar has been an ongoing “experiment” for over a year. The first time I tried it, I took a shot of it straight (from an actual shot glass), and chased it with room temperature water. It was horrible! I remember thinking, “why would anyone ever do this to themselves…this cannot be worth it!” But, with all the trial and error that is my wellness journey, I knew that was just a mindless reaction to something new and uncomfortable and I owed it to myself to keep researching, and learning before writing it off for good. Over the most recent several months, my relationship with ACV hasn’t dimished, or even faulted by more than a day or two – usually onset by travel, but it has evolved in terms of everything from concoction, routine, and appreciation.

What I’ve learned? I’ll separate it into categories:

The Benefits – WHY drink this stuff in the first place? The regimen initially sparked my interest because of it’s natural effects on detoxification, and anti-inflammation. I was experiencing gut related discomfort, and this seemed it could potentially be an easily accessible and inexpensive solution.

But the perks don’t stop there. Incorporating ACV into your diet can help to improve your overall health by positively impacting your digestion, helping to regulate your bowels, strengthening your immune system, and even improving bad breath! And listen, I’ve become so obsessed with it that I’ve recently been using my Apple Cider Vinegar as a toner for my skin…but more on that another time…

What keeps me coming back specifically? Well I wasn’t consistent right away and I actually NOTICED the difference in the way I felt when I didn’t drink it. Even now, missing a few days here or there due to travel, my energy level drops, I can sometimes lose focus more easily, and often times I’ll get chest/stomach pains from indigestion (I suffered from acid reflux for years and ate tums like candy before ACV – now, it’s a complete nonissue when I drink it on a consistent basis!).

The Method – HOW do you drink it? I will admit, the first several trials were rough – as I mentioned, I was just straight up ripping this like it was cheap vodka in college, and trust me, the experience was eerily similar. In my experimentation, I eventually ruled out several juice options as chasers as well. A few were good, like actual apple cider, but these options eventually got to be too expensive.

You can also try some mixed concoctions using grapefruit juice, honey, cinnamon, lemon juice, and more!

I can’t really remember where the logic came from, but for some reason I recall feeling concerned diluting the ACV would minimize it’s benefits – NOT TRUE. Right around the time I got to the comfort level of drinking it straight from the bottle (talk about building a tolerance), I found it’s actually BETTER to dilute your intake.

The recommended mixture is anywhere from 1/3 ACV to 2/3 water, or 1-2oz ACV with 8oz water. Sometimes I’ll add honey, which is of course optional, but I sometimes like to add it if I’ve had any kind of hiatus from my routine and need a little pep-talk for that first dive back in.

When do you drink it? I also learned that while it matters less when you take it, and more so just that you do, the most optimal time-frame for your daily concoction is first thing in the morning – after 8oz of water to jumpstart your system, but before any amount of caffiene. When we are sleeping, our bodies are working to clear-out, and get ready for a new day. Taking the ACV early in your day can help to optimize it’s potential benefits with minimal distractions floating around your system.

Early in my experience I was taking it at night, right before bed. I was drinking it straight, so it was irritating to my esophagus, possibly distracting me from noticing it’s impact. When I started chasing it, I was able to notice my typical evening-bloatiness lessen overtime. I also woke up more refreshed, and still less bloated than I was used to.

During the real wild straight-from-the-bottle era, I was keeiping it on my desk at work and would swig it in the middle of the day, or just on my way out of the office in the evening. I was able to coorelate it with thinking clearly, and an improved ability to focus, and though still present, the inconsistency in schedule seemed to lessen the positive impact it had on my bathroom habits.

Finally, with most of my kinks worked out, the first thing I do after I get home from the gym in the morning is mix 2oz of ACV with 1/2c of water and toss it back like everyday is my birthday! Immediately following the shot, I refill the measuring cup with water and wash it down further (I usually drink it from a measuring cup…two birds, one less dish to clean). I could have just had the best workout of my life at the gym and I still don’t feel fully awake until I have my ACV. I’ve also noticed the regularity of the routine heightens it’s benefits (at least for me!).

Whether you needd to get your gut in check, or if you’re just looking for a step in the right direction toward improving your overall health, look no further than that nasty stuff your grandma used to give you if you said a bad word! I highly recommend apple cider vinegar above almost anything else in my healthcare routine. It’s natural, it’s cheap, and it’s super beneficial for serveral reasons! Make sure you get it organically (if you can) and always with the mother!

Now that I think about it, I probably should’ve sworn a lot more as a child…

Egg Salad Crisp

I have to have my eggs, but I’ve been trying to get creative with my toast options lately. This healthier version of egg salad did not disappoint! The recipe was super simple/easy, and will make about 6 pieces, so lasted me a whole 2 days…

Egg Salad:
4 hard boiled eggs + 2 hard boiled egg whites (discard the extra yolk, or save it for something else)
1 Tbsp freshly chopped cilantro – or another micro green
3/4 C chopped celery
1/4 C Siggis Dairy plain yogurt – or another plain Greek yogurt, but be sure to avoid artificial sweeteners, and added hormones!
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1/2 Tbsp dill seed

Toast:
3 avocados
Trader Joe’s whole grain crispbread
Mini heirloom tomatoes, chopped
Sesame seeds
Salt + pepper

Directions:
1. Mix all the egg salad ingredients together, mashing well until egg pieces are very small.
2. In a separate bowl, mash 1/2 avocado per crisp bread using salt and pepper and a teeny bit of water if necessary, depending on how ripe your avocado is. I recommend only mashing the avocado up right before you are going to eat the toast, that way it doesn’t turn brown!
3. Place the avocado mash on a crisp bread, then top with a scoop of the egg salad.
4. Garnish with the chopped heirloom tomatoes, sesame seeds, and salt and pepper to taste!

(Sort Of) Summer Soup

I am sure by now you may have caught on to the idea that I’m typically up to something, even when I might not actually be up to anything specific. And if you really know me, then you know despite the vagueness of that statement, it somehow perfectly sums up my journey in discovering the healthy lifestyle that best works for me. The choices I make may not make sense for you, or anyone else, but that’s the fun part – you can always try new things and figure it out along the way.

I recently challenged myself to cut back on fruits, and implement more vegetables, and non-meat protein in my diet. I am used to eating a decently high-protein diet, but I’ve found most of my protein intake comes from eggs, chicken or beef, and my pre/post-workout shakes. There are so many other forms of protein out there, and while I am always a fan of fruit, I wanted to balance out the sugars and carbs from those with some of the important nutrients of yummy veggies.

What better way to do this, I decided, than with a summer-time soup! I know. Soup? In August? In New York City? Yeah, I am a little crazy…and my apartment doesn’t have air conditioning haha but man, was this recipe worth the sweats! I’ve included the details below, with a few additional recommendations/substitution options. The best part? This recipe made enough soup to feed me (by myself) dinner for the next two weeks! I put a container in the fridge for this week, and one in the freezer for next. 🙂

Ingredients:
1/2 onion (chopped)
6-8 medium sized carrots
1 quart vegetable broth
1 zucchini
1 yellow squash
1/2 can or 5-7 peeled crushed tomatoes (w/juice)
2 stalks bok choy
2 cups red lentils
1 tbsp olive oil
salt
pepper

Directions:
1. Saute the chopped onion in olive oil, adding in salt and pepper.

2. Add in the chopped carrots and continue cooking for a few minutes, making sure the vegetables are all coated.

3. In a separate pot, heat vegetable broth. Add in carrots and onions and cook until the carrots begin to soften – about 6-8 minutes.
*If you are not a fan of vegetable broth, or would just prefer avoiding it, you can also just use water!*

4. Add the bok choy, then top with the chopped zucchini, yellow squash, and tomatoes (I did this backward in my photo, but would recommend adding the bok choy first!). Mix well, so that everything is covered with the broth.
*I used a large stalk of bok choy because that’s what they had at my Farmer’s Market that morning, but would have preferred baby bok. Some ideas other than bok choy include string beans, spinach, or another leafy green*

5. In a separate pan, prepare the lentils. This can be done simply by heating a small amount of olive oil, then tossing the lentils until they are completely coated.
*You can also use mung beans, or another bean instead of lentils*

6. Add the heated lentils to the soup and mix them well. Keep in mind – they will expand a little bit in size!

7. Allow everything to simmer for about 12-15 minutes, or until the vegetables and lentils are tender.

8. Enjoy! 🙂

#EggsAllDay

Maybe you’ve seen my hashtags, maybe not. If you’ve made it here though, chances are you’ve at least seen my Instagram or Snapchat photos/stories, so it should come as no surprise: your girl loves dem eggs!

Okay, so no…I don’t actually eat eggs all day, but I do eat them close to every single day for breakfast. Depending on the day, I sometimes try to work one in to dinner or lunch!

Why eggs? Easy: eggs are high in protein, low in fat, and rich in a ton of vitamins such as B, D, zinc, and iron! Not to mention they’re delicious, and super inexpensive. I prefer to eat eggs after my workouts because they help me to feel quickly refueled, and I feel satisfied/full until lunchtime!

When I was in high school, eggs were my go-to after school snack because it was almost too easy to prep them in the morning then eat them hard-boiled, or whip them up with salt and pepper to enjoy them scrambled. (Latch-key kids anyone?) I remember during my sophomore year in my favorite class (Health), my teacher explained it could be bad for our bodies to eat too many eggs. Raising my hand I inquired, “I eat eggs everyday. Is that bad?” Acutely aware of my athletic involvement at the time, my teacher/track coach explained to me and the class that it was probably okay for me to eat eggs because I otherwise lived a pretty healthy lifestyle. However, he noted, eggs can increase cholesterol levels, and create a risk factor for people more susceptible to diabetes or heart disease. I didn’t share out loud with the class or my teacher, but knowing diabetes is actually a prominent ailment in my family, and with an admittedly weak understanding of my own body and nutrition in general, I quietly decided that day to lower my egg-intake.

My attention to nutrition, and overall maintenance of my health went downhill after high school, and I didn’t really find it again until after college. Clearly a lot has changed in a decade, but remembering this story reminds me how important it is to not only be aware of what I am putting into my body, but to have an actual understanding of how what I eat affects my body, specifically.

So overtime, eggs worked their way back into my daily routine, and there’s no looking back from here! I buy at least a dozen eggs every week, and always go for cage-free organic if they’re available. With great brands like Pete and Gerry’s and Oliver’s Organic Eggs (both ~$5-$6 in most NY groceries), it’s easy to know I am getting quality ingredients for a good value. Although Vital Farms is a bit more pricey (usually ~$7-$8 at Whole Foods), I sometimes splurge for this option, as well.

While I’d like to say I am an egg-master chef, the truth is, I typically go for a simple and quick poached egg on avocado toast, or if I’m adding an egg to another meal, will do any preparation that leave the yolk a little runny. Check out some of my favorites below, and happy #eggsallday!

This morningMedium boiled
I usually try to give myself time to enjoy a non-rushed breakfast at home, but who am I kidding? Sometimes such a privilege is rare! Even though most of my go-to recipes are pretty quick, I end up eating within 7-10 minutes so that I can get back to getting ready for work and making it to my train in time. This morning was no different, except I found myself trying to decide between making my eggs, or having to grab breakfast on the go. Instead, I landed on, “Why not both?”

I brought 1 cup of water to an easy boil and tossed in two eggs still in the shell. After digging out a small glass-lock container (still haven’t unpacked from my recent move hehe), I slipped them still hot into my purse and hit my commute. On the way, I picked up a $1 Avocado spread from Starbucks, and crossed my fingers that the kitchenette in the office wouldn’t be too crowded. 4 minute-toast later, and my eggs were already peeled and ready to top off my quick brekkie! Yum!

Keep in mind, typically the eggs will continue to “cook” a little bit as they cool, so if you’re going for a medium boil (yolk still a touch jelly-like), you might consider how quickly you plan to eat them after they finish cooking. Since I knew my eggs would be completely cooled before I got to peel them at work, I only boiled them for about 3-4 minutes.

Easy Scrambled
Not completely over-easy, not completely scrambled – this combo is the best of both worlds. Prepare your eggs the way you typically would to scramble them – mix in a little salt, pepper, and milk of your choosing. Then, as you cook them (on med-low heat), instead of scrambling them up, flip them into a sort of omelette style, so that the outside cooks and the inside stays a little runny. Usually for 4-6 minutes, depending on how many eggs you use.

 

Pink Poached Egg
One of my favorites – this poached egg steals the show with it’s pretty hue and flavor, thanks to a 1/4 cup of beet juice! Add the secret ingredient to about 3/4 cup of water, and bring the mixture to a boil. Slide in your egg (already cracked), and reduce the boil to a low simmer for about 3-4 minutes. Serve with your favorite Farmers Market veggies for the most colorful of brunches!

Poached Egg Avocado Toast
Go poached or go home? The trick to a fancy poached egg is more than perfecting the timing. Try adding a little bit of salt to the water before sliding in the egg, and then give the mixture a little swirl within the first few seconds of dropping the egg in. This will help the egg white to curl up around the yolk so that you don’t lose part of it off in the water. Also, a pro-tip when preparing any kind of egg in water, use a stainless steel pot to avoid scorching the material! Poached Egg Avocado Toast is my favorite because I can pop the toast in the toaster oven (6 minutes), peel and mash my avocado (3 minutes), all while the water is boiling (5 minutes), and then I drop my eggs in and let them cook while I prepare the toast (4 minutes). Total time=less than 10 to whip up, less than 10 to eat! 🙂

Hello Hydration!

If you know me from Adam, you know your girl lovesssss her water! Ever since I was wee little, I remember the inquiry as to how much water I had drank in a day always being the first question my mom would ask me, regardless of what it was that ailed me. Even when I was older and off at college, if I would call and explain I had developed a cold, a cough, had been feeling sluggish, or lazy, or even if I mentioned I was feeling really hungry (!), “how much water have you drank today?” followed by a suggestion of drinking more (usually regardless of my answer), was always her go-to response.

Naturally, this was one lesson that stuck with me. Being my curious self, I’ve logged a lot of hours of research regarding water consumption, and not surprisingly, mother knows best!

The truth is, whether you’re a serious athlete, exercise here and there, really are not all that active at all, in great health, or poor – it’s so so important to stay hydrated! Think about it? Our bodies are made up of about 55-60% of water. It serves as a vital nutrient to keep your body functioning properly, regulates our internal body temperature, and metabolizes the carbohydrates and proteins our bodies use as fuel. Just as well, water assists in flushing your body of wastes and toxins, acts as a form of shock absorption for your neural system, and helps to lubricate your joints.

You can learn more about all of these specific functions of water in your body by visiting the Water Science School.

I’ve been specifically interested in the role of water in my body recently for a number of different reasons. While the focus of my research recently has been primarily on the anatomy of the human body, I’ve been supplementing that information with proper treatment of the body during exercise.

Pre-Workout Hydration: Hydration is major key to developing a healthy work-out routine. As mentioned, water serves as a lubricant to your joints, i.e. drinking enough can help prevent soreness, and ensure you are developing your muscles in a healthy way!

To encourage a healthy digestive system, as well as to prepare myself for a long workout, I have been drinking at least 8oz of water every morning (sometimes a full 17oz bottle), AS SOON as I get out of bed. This fires up my body’s metabolism, immediately replaces any hydration lost over night, fuels my brain so that I actually do feel awake, and halts any potential immediate morning hunger.

During Workout Hydration: Now, just to be clear, everyone has different hydration needs! While drinking plenty of fluids is important to anyone, the amount of hydration needed to optimize your workout routine will likely vary from mine, even if we are similar in height, weight, and activity.

I started estimating the volume of hydration needed for myself a few months ago when I was training for a half-marathon. As an example, I feel as if I spend a bit more time in the gym than the average person (usually 1.5-2 hours). I try to drink 17oz (my full Sip Swell bottle) for every 20 minutes of exercise. This usually ends up being 3-4 bottles completely finished before I leave the gym.

So if you’re keeping track, I should have already drank 85oz of water by about 8am!!

But my day hasn’t even started…

Post Workout (Daily) Hydration: After the gym, I still have a full day ahead of me. And, being summer in New York, it’s probably a hot one. This adds in a couple additional hydrating factors.

I aim to drink about 0.8oz of water per pound minimum each day. That’s 95oz without exercise, i.e. ounces drank at the gym don’t count toward this total. So once I’ve finished a workout, I still know I need to drink at least 5-6 bottles of water throughout the rest of my day. However, this doesn’t factor in the heat of summer.

Summer can be conducive for bacterial infections, and New York is always conducive for germs! For this reason, I usually up this intake goal in the heat to at least 1 x my body weight, which adds an additional 23oz, or about 2 more bottles. No problem right?

Drinking water can be tough if you are drinking other fluids throughout the day. So after all of this, I want to leave you with some alternative options to work into your snacks and lunches! Don’t get me wrong – I still encourage you to drink as much water throughout your day as you can! But if you find you are struggling, try some of my favorite hydrating foods to quench your thirst, and replace the electrolytes your body needs to thrive!

Celery: 96% water, good source of sodium, potassium, magnesium, calcium, phosphorus, iron and zinc

Watermelon: 95% water, and rich in vitamin C

Bell Peppers: 92% water, also rich in vitamin C

Cucumbers: 95% water, plus provide calcium, magnesium, sodium and potassium

Strawberries: I can’t eat these due to an allergy, but they are 92% water and rich in potassium!

Cantaloupe: 90% water, and also rich in potassium

As a final note, make sure you’re remaining aware of the volume of sugar you’re drinking/consuming! Sugary sports drinks, for example, can be counterproductive to proper/necessary hydration.

Finally, please note I am not a doctor. There is such thing as over-hydration, so if you’re unsure, you should consult with your physician to learn more specifically about your body’s necessary water intake.

Happy summer, and happy hydrating! 💦

How To: Elimination Diet

Three months now since the start of the most dramatic experience of my own nutrition journey, I can honestly say I would do it again!

So you’re wondering if participating in an Elimination Diet is the right decision for you? Three months now since the start of the most dramatic experience of my own nutrition journey, I can honestly say I would happily do it again! A few quick and dirty details from what I’ve learned: I no longer drink as much caffeine, I no longer eat as much sugar, I find my meals are wayyy more balanced (without even trying), I rarely feel the need to snack between meals (because of this balance), and my alcohol consumption has decreased majorly! Additionally, I am much more in touch with how different things I consume affect my mood, energy, and overall health, and I am more sincerely interested in understanding how to listen to and communicate effectively with my body. But more on each of these topics to follow…

I had a lot of people ask me about the diet as I was going through it, questions regarding what I was eating, how I was feeling, and what exactly was the objective of the experience. I always enjoyed these conversations because talking about the experience as it was happening had a way of reinforcing my motivation to stay focused, and always brought me back to the original intent I had in starting the diet in the first place.

Since it’s obvious now to most people with whom I interact on any kind of regular basis that I no longer follow any kind of strict or specific dietary restrictions, the questions have taken a little bit of a shift. I’ve had a lot of friends and family ask me recently about that original intent, as well as what exactly I took away from the experience that allows me to speak so highly of it. Most impactful, I’ve found, has been the fact that while my dieting habits truly have changed since completing the experience, I have not felt the need to completely restrict myself from enjoying any of life’s greatest offerings in terms of food and drink. Some friends have even asked me to help them to begin the design process for starting their own elimination diet. This makes me the most excited, as I mentioned, I’d love to do it again myself and so I strongly encourage everyone participate in an elimination experience at least once in their lives – regardless if you consider yourself extremely healthy and aware of your body’s reaction to what you consume, or are just looking for a starting point in figuring this all out.

In order to create this “sort-of” guide through my experience, I thought I’d start by breaking down the “why.” Why did I decide to do this, and why do I think it was a good and important decision?

Why the heck did you do this?
I’ve never been a big fan of taking medicine, because I have always truly believed there should be, and probably is a natural remedy for most things that ail us as humans. (Truthfully, this was sparked after a bad experience with an antibiotic I was allergic to as a kid, but I digress…). After all, we are just animals, so why shouldn’t we fuel our bodies similarly? While I am thankful for the cures to diseases and illnesses that exist, I have always felt strongly that I could be doing more to prevent my body from feeling the need to take chemically engineered drugs in the first place.

When I first graduated college, I was under an extreme amount of stress (as most recent college grads are), and I found myself visiting doctors who would test me for a slew of crazy-scary things including crohn’s disease, and celiacs. Thankfully my tests always came back negative, however these experiences led me to really start to question why I was visiting these doctors in the first place. If I was so “healthy,” why was I having issues with my digestive system which were causing doctors to even consider I might have some kind of more serious issue?

Fast forward a couple of years and my body likely adjusted to the stress of being in the real world, so I felt as if the digestive issues began to subside, when really it was more likely that my system was beginning to learn how to cope with them. And even still, what remained were a random assortment of other “discomforts” that were difficult to link to one another, let alone one specific cause. When I really think about it, the answer to the question of why I ultimately took the plunge of the elimination experience can be summarized with one word: headaches. As of November of 2016, I felt as if for as long as I could remember I’d had at least a headache a day. It might sound as if this has to be some kind of a hyperbole, but the truth is, despite considering myself pretty healthy, including drinking a ton of water throughout each day, I somehow was still chasing off these mysterious painful murmurs in my head whether it be with essential oils, meditation, or often with Motrin and ibuprofen.

If I really was drinking enough water and eating the way my body needed and wanted me to on a regular basis, why did I seem to always have a headache?

As mentioned in my original post on beginning the diet, I was sparked onto the idea by a blogger I followed along with via Instagram. She was influential to me because of how passionate she was about the results she was seeing, but also because I was able to relate to her in other areas of health and wellness, including a rare hormonal syndrome I have had since birth. So I just decided to. I decided this could be something really great for my overall well-being, and I was immediately really excited for the possibility of kind of discovering myself and my body for the first time. I thought, “I’ve never even asked my body what it wants and needs. Who am I to assume I just know?” For someone who has spent the last several years getting in touch with my body physically and spiritually through exercise, yoga, and meditation, it felt it only made sense to connect with myself nutritionally, as well.

How did you know where to start?
The simple answer to this question, and the truth: I didn’t. I had no idea, and it was incredibly overwhelming to try to figure out because the internet is never-ending! I committed to the idea around November of 2016. At this point I was a little over 3 years removed from college, yet still carried a lot of the same habits as my 21-year old self: I drank nearly every night, even if only one glass of wine, and I was no stranger to several desserts in any given day – I don’t mean to suggest that these things are completely wrong, but I knew they weren’t necessarily ideal habits, and I hadn’t even given my body a chance to really communicate with me clearly as to whether or not they were good for me.

So I started to research. I am used to always having something to read for pleasure, so I set aside my typical novel-on-the-train routine, and instead would dedicate any free moment of time I had to reading as much as I could about different elimination experiences. I would even print off articles at my office so that I was guaranteed to have materials for my commute in case the internet from my phone was unavailable. I was 100% dedicated to the idea of completing the diet, but I was admittedly terrified of doing it incorrectly, or worse, putting myself through some kind of hell to not get out of it what I really wanted: clarity and understanding of what I should be consuming for my body’s health and wellness optimization.

While I was learning a lot, the research was still very overwhelming. The biggest takeaway I found overall: there is no right or wrong way to complete an elimination diet. But some of the more useful tips I carried with me throughout my experience included the following:

  1. Plan, Plan, Plan – I was nervous about a few different things specifically. Firstly, I was afraid I would have no idea what to eat. Secondly, I was afraid by not knowing what to eat, I’d end up not consuming enough food, and my body would miss out on important nutrients. Thirdly, I was afraid I didn’t understand enough about the different varieties of foods out there that I would not really know if what I was eating was appropriately aligned to my restrictions, or not. All of these fears were resolved through planning ahead. I planned everything. EV-RE-THANG! I planned my shopping trips by the day of the week I would make them happen, what meals would be prepared through that trip, and what all ingredients (down to the spices) would be acquired through that trip. I planned what I would eat every single day, of course, but I also planned what snacks would be on deck, just in case I was hungry between meals. I also saved myself from begin stressed over the responsibility of planning, by scheduling out time to plan/research. For example, I started the diet on a Wednesday, but really only had the first three days accounted for at the time that I started, because I knew I’d have free time Friday night to get my weekend in order, and then free time on Sunday to plan for the following week. My advice when it comes to planning: Do what works best for you and your schedule; be realistic, and don’t feel the need to plan lightyears in advance as long as you know you have a few hours in your schedule, and especially if there’s a nearby grocery store. 🙂
  2. Chill Out – As I mentioned, there is no right or wrong way to do an elimination diet, and so while I was strict to the parameters I set for myself, I was also pretty lenient on the way in which I monitored and altered my progress. I allowed for change throughout my experience, and I wasn’t too hard on myself if I realized I needed to make such a change. I knew it would be a stressful journey if I took it too seriously, so I approached everything as a learning experience. I also knew it would be more expensive than what I was probably used to spending on food, so if I bought something new but ended up not liking it – I didn’t get too torn up about it. I ended up donating quite a few things at the end of the experience, and while I could’ve looked at this as a waste of money, I decided instead to view it as part of the process. I was way happier knowing the food I didn’t want would go to someone else who would eat it, rather than I would have been forcing myself to stomach something I didn’t enjoy, or just throwing it in the trash. Plus, I found out a lot about my tastes, and new ways to prepare foods so that I actually do like them. On a separate note: my taste buds changed A LOT (but more on that later).
  3. Focus On The Positive – I won’t sugar coat it, it was tough. But much like running a marathon, getting started is always the hardest part. I found the first two or three days were incredibly rough for me because I somewhat threw my body and mind into a total phase of shock, and both had to learn on the go how to adjust to my new lifestyle (one of the hardest things I gave up was caffeine). Thinking back on it now, I know it would have been soooooo easy to give in within that first week (and trust me, I really wanted to), but I realized very quickly not only was I developing a special connection with my body and different internal systems, but I was also developing a special connection with my mind. I was uncovering a will power I didn’t really know I had within me. When I learned to take this as a positive focal point, I felt empowered more than I did anxious, or stressed. By the end of the first week, I was sailing. It was easy. And truthfully, the only other time I struggled was the last couple days before beginning the re-introduction, but I think this was mostly because I was so excited and anxious to see my hard work become fruitful. (As another side note, I wholeheartedly believe it was in part the will power that was developed through this experience that allowed me to finish a kick-ass half marathon, my first ever, only a month later).
  4. Hold Yourself Accountable – I have always been somewhat of a writer so this was second nature for me, but I found to journal about my experience was something I ended up looking forward to a lot. I knew I would need to write about what I ate each day, and how it made me feel, so I was cognizant about these things enough to reflect on them and be mindful of the experience. I also had the blessing of Brenen participating with me throughout the experience, so it was really motivating to know if I was hitting a wall, I could talk to him about it, or we could brainstorm recipe ideas together or discuss how we were feeling on a regular basis. However you need to do it – holding yourself accountable through any experience is probably one of the most important tasks you can do. The process of reflection was especially special to me because it really added value to the results I took away from the diet – I was able to clearly compare before, during, and after.

So with these ideas in mind, it was around late December that I decided I was pretty much ready…but that I also needed more time. I could have totally started after only a few short weeks of research and planning, but that would have run me into the holidays, and like I said, I was not exactly confident that I would even be able to do the damn thing, so I wanted to set myself up for as much success as possible by avoiding as many temptations as I could. I dedicated myself to another few weeks of learning (went to Shake Shack on Fat Tuesday), and my diet officially started on Wednesday, March 1. I sat up in bed and beamed as bright as I did on Christmas morning declaring, “Today’s the day! Today my diet starts, and my life will forever be changed, I just know it!” And it was precisely this attitude that carried me through the next five to six weeks.

So how did it actually work?
The “not one size fits all” theme is mostly referring to the way in which individuals eliminate foods throughout the experience. The science behind the diet is that it takes about 20-23 days of detox before your body should be considered completely clear of a substance. This of course varies from human to human depending on consumption, body fat, exercise routine, water ingestion, etc. So the strategy is: remove different potential trigger foods from your diet for 20-23 days, and then reintroduce this trigger food slowly, in a controlled amount, monitoring the affects it has on your body, including your mental and emotional state.

A trigger food should/could be anything that could be considered less than natural for a human to digest. Think the Paleo diet, which largely consists of one only eating what would have been consumed during the age in which humans had to literally hunt for their food. If a caveman couldn’t eat it, neither can someone following the Paleo diet…and essentially neither could I during my Elimination Diet. Since there is a large spectrum of what could be considered a trigger food, I found that many online blogs and forums identified the “easy” way to go about the diet would be to break it up into 3-4 rounds of processing. This would be “easier” to some because they wouldn’t have to worry about eliminating so much at once. For example, they might eliminate dairy, eggs, and soy for 3 weeks, re-introduce each for the following 2-3 weeks, then begin again with another round. I never really even considered doing it this way because patience (believe it or not) is not my strongest suit. I decided if I was going to do it, I might as well just go all-in.

So all-in I went, and MY elimination diet removed 11 items from my diet all at once, beginning on Day 1. The list of potential triggers I removed included:

  • Gluten
  • Soy
  • Eggs
  • Dairy
  • Corn
  • Tree Nuts (except coconut)
  • Peanuts
  • Caffeine
  • Artificial Sugar
  • Artificial Color
  • Alcohol

*As a note, I also did everything I could to avoid preservatives, but I didn’t think it fair to assume I completely avoided it since I did eat at restaurants quite a bit. S/o to the NYC health-food scene!

As I alluded to with my Paleo comparison, essentially my diet wound up consisting of about 70% fruits and vegetables, and 30% lean meat.A typical day for me began with overnight gluten-free oatmeal for breakfast, a hearty salad for lunch, and some kind of meat with vegetables for dinner. To see more day by day breakdowns of what I ate, check out some of my posts that carried me through the process back in March.

I practiced this (for the most-part consistent) diet for 21 days, and on day 22, re-introduced the first contender. The order in which we re-introduced each food group was largely impacted by our desires, and less so by much of what research had recommended. But again, no right or wrong. 🙂 First up for me was caffeine (Brenen didn’t give this up), then gluten, then dairy, soy, eggs, and alcohol, and then the artificials, tree nuts, corn, and finally peanuts. Actually, most of what I read recommended doing an order somewhat completely opposite of this. The reason being: you are more likely to have a reaction to some of the more obvious triggers such as gluten and dairy, so it makes more sense to leave them for last, getting the less likely trigger foods out of the way first. All the same, believe me, we got our results. You can also learn more about our takeaways by checking out my after the diet post, which I added back in April.

Life after Eliminating
As I mentioned at the start of this post – my diet really has changed. A lot. I never feel as if I can’t eat certain things, but I know exactly how I could potentially feel if I choose to. I know how my body will respond to almost anything that I give it, solely based on whatever it is that item might be composed of.

So why all the fuss, and why are we still talking about it now? Like I said, for me the goal was to learn. I talk a lot about this stuff – health, wellness, best practices, mindfulness…but I wanted to actually walk the walk. The goal for me was never to change much about my lifestyle, but rather to discover more about what made the most sense for me as a human, to learn more about my body, which is my temple, and to learn more about health in general through the research that went along with my process. To say I achieved these goals would be an understatement. The takeaways from this experience far outweighed the difficulty that came with completing it. If you’re interested, I’ll name a few:

  1. The headaches? GONE. While it doesn’t feel as if my diet has changed drastically since finishing the elimination experience, it kind of has. No, I didn’t immediately start to completely avoid any one thing, but I am much more mindful about what I consume, when, and how much. Before March, drinking 3-4 cups of coffee a day was normal. Did I need it? Probably not. Do I still need to drink coffee now? No. And because I gave it up for so long, it’s easy to still enjoy a cup every once in a while, however getting away with 4-5 a week was one of most dramatic changes I took away from the diet. Similarly, I eat way less sugar than I ever thought possible. I am just not attracted to it the same way I used to be. Don’t get me wrong, I still love my donuts 🙂 but to be completely honest, their appearance in my diet has diminished a lot. It’s somewhat sad to think about, but at the same time, I know it’s because I truly don’t like eating them anymore as much as I used to. I developed a whole new sense of intuition when it comes to my body, my diet, and my overall feelings, and I know that while a few bites of a donut would be magical, I’d likely end up wasting the second half because nine times out of ten, I simply wouldn’t be interested in finishing it. (Okay, I actually did have 3 donuts this weekend, but they were the first donuts I had in probably the past several weeks. That’s saying a lot from a gal who used to eat at least 2-4 every week!). The same goes with other treats I used to love like peanut MnMs and sour patch kids. I used to always have a bag of one of these treats in my desk drawer or purse, but they’ve now been replaced with fresh fruit, or dark chocolate that would’ve been nearly acceptable during the diet. As I mentioned before, my taste buds underwent a major development. What might have seemed less appetizing than the aforementioned, or even “gross” because of it’s health-factor, has now actually become the types of snacks and foods I am most attracted to for those exact reasons.
  2. I’ve never slept better! Many people who I’ve spoken with directly about the experience know that the most prominent takeaway for both me and Brenen was the power it had on our sleep. Remember, he didn’t give up caffeine, either. Yet, within just 2-3 days of the detox, we both agreed we’d never experienced such a wonderful, completely full and re-energizing night of sleep. It was truly incredible, and I feel I’ll never really be able to describe it fully with just words. I wouldn’t have even necessarily considered myself a troubled-sleeper before, but even now, I am envious of the sleeps I got during those few weeks of being completely clean.
  3. The mood of a champion, and the energy of a thousand suns seems realistic enough of a metaphor to summarize my overall aura throughout the process, and even most days now.  I think most would agree I am a positive person by nature, but I was on a whole new level during the experience. I already spoke to my confidence increasing, and how the diet contributed to me continuing to work hard toward achieving additional goals, but truly the source was in the process itself. I was cleaning my system of all the crap it didn’t need/want, and as a result, I was functioning all around better! Perhaps, living my best life?

So…all this is great, but how do you know if it’ll be as great for you?

YOUR Elimination Experience?
From one of the many sources I took a page toward preparing for my diet, I think FeedMePhoebe said it best:

“The immune system is a funny beast. When we are consistently eating foods that cause an inflammatory response, it leaves our immune system in a constant state of hyperactivity. The fog of ongoing war makes it harder to pinpoint an acute response to something you’re allergic to; the symptoms aren’t as severe because your baseline “normal” may already include said symptoms.

When you remove these irritants, however, your immune system has a chance to calm and recede. And like any overworked army, once your antibodies have had that rest period, they are that much more capable of attacking invaders with all their might.”

As I have already mentioned (probably too many times), I strongly feel that this experience can be and should be for everyone. If you’ve spoken to me in person about it, you’ve likely experienced my passion for the process firsthand. This is because to me, it’s simple: this is your body we are talking about. At the end of everything, what else can you count on? All of the systems inside a machine depend on the fuel which it uses to operate. That’s why we don’t put milk in the gas tanks of our cars – they weren’t designed to run on milk, so while they might be able to, it probably wouldn’t be the most efficient source of energy for them. The same can be said for me and you. There is a world of deliciousness out there, and it’s often fun to indulge in new and fun foods. I don’t plan to ever stop trying new things. I love eating and drinking and donuts and coffee. But I also love having a deep awareness about how everything I consume contributes to how I sleep at night, how effective of a workout I’m likely the have the next day, where my newest pimple probably came from, and why my hair might not be growing at the rate I want it to. To me, I enjoy being in control of my diet and what comes from the way I eat, rather than feeling as if what I eat is in control of how I feel. Not to mention, I decided if my body truly doesn’t like something enough to make me feel super icky and run-down, I really probably shouldn’t overdo it on that particular thing. And I’m okay with that. Some people I’ve spoken to about the experience will say, “well, I’ll never stop eating whatever I want, whenever I want.” I think that’s great! You shouldn’t, and you don’t have to. The Elimination Diet isn’t necessarily a gateway to alter your intake of certain foods, for me at least, it was simply an opportunity to learn more about the most important thing in my life – the thing that gives me that life in the first place.

Maybe you have some issues in mind already that you’re considering might mean this experience is perfect for you. Maybe you’re not sure of what ails you, but you feel something may be off.  Maybe you just want to be brave, and try something new with guaranteed positive results 🙂 Whatever it may be, below is a list of common symptoms which could mean the Elimination Diet is a good challenge to consider. And after all, the best part is there is not a negative outcome. To me, those are the best kind of risks to take.

  • Trouble sleeping
  • Fatigue
  • Joint pain/inflammation
  • Skin breakouts/rashes
  • Headaches
  • Bowel changes/pain
  • Bloating
  • Confusion/lack of focus
  • Sinus/respiratory issues
  • Digestive issues
  • Mood swings
  • Weak Immune System

One final note: have fun! If you’re not having fun, why are you doing it (whatever it is)? And if you are having fun, you’ve already won (A mantra no stranger to my middle school days)! Brenen and I were able to enjoy the diet because we tried so many new things! Granted, we had the privilege of exploring some restaurants because NYC luckily has a variety of places that fit the bill, but more often than not, we prepared our own meals.

To be honest, I’ve felt I’ve been on this journey of self-discovery for some time now, but this experience lit a whole new fire I never knew existed. I am already excited for the next adventure of my body and mind…and I SO look forward to those who decide to take a leap of faith and step up to the challenge. Please!!! Ask me questions, pick my brain, and tell me how it goes!!! I love sharing in other’s discoveries and excitement. It’s incredible what you can learn when you listen to your body.

Why I Hate Tuesdays

Anger and sadness are not the same feeling, of this I am sure…but at some point I decided it’s okay to handle all negative emotions such as these in the exact same way: to breathe through them.

As cliché as it sounds, I’ve found moving my body without much focus on anything other than just “being” to be the most therapeutic experience of my life (so far).

So naturally when today’s Monday felt like a Tuesday, I sighed a heavy sigh at the fact that I lost my metro card, took two wrong trains, and ended up missing my evening yoga class – and instead of giving up, I decided to just give in.

I had to walk…so I walked. Then finally back home, I sank my hips to my heels, shut everything off, and just breathed.

I have always loved Mondays. I could go on and on about all the reasons why – but more interestingly enough, Tuesdays have always been my least favorite day of the week. Today was especially discouraging because of how much I love Mondays! Whyyyy Monday, why would you ruin this for me?! If it were Tuesday, I wouldn’t have even blinked an eye. Tuesday’s are notoriously the worst. In college I worked two jobs, held a student governing position, and was way more involved in the social scene than I probably should have been. However it happened, a typical Tuesday for me consisted of 4 classes, 2 split shifts at my on-campus job, and then closing the bar I tended off-campus for “Tini-Tuesdays.” Needless to say, it was a long, usually rough day…two on a scale of one to ten, if you will, (i.e. Twosday).

The “idea” of Tuesday being a pain kind of just stuck because of course if we try hard enough to find it, a crack can be found in almost everything. And now as I sit here and think about shrugging off what a terrible day I had today, I am overwhelmed with all the positive that happened, too. Actually, a fair amount of positive that I otherwise just let be overlooked. Is this how I normally behave on Tuesdays just because I expect them to be bad? Today, I made it to the gym and had a great workout this morning, made my favorite breakfast, and was on time to work. I spoke to friends, and family, and I was even prepared with my umbrella, which almost never happens for me on a rainy day!

There’s a lot to be said about having a positive attitude, and I don’t think it’s much of a secret anymore that most happy people create their own happiness. I am a really freaking happy person, but clearly everyone can have a bad day – the bad days can stretch for weeks, months, or maybe even years if you’re really in a pickle…I’ve been there, believe me. But when I think about those bad days and bad moods and bad ways in which I attempted to “cope,” I don’t think it’s ever going to be all the bad that defines a person – in my opinion, it’s what you do after the bad that matters more.

Anyway, enough about good vs. bad and enough about me. If anyone else out there ever has a lil’ case of theMondays (any day of the week) check out some of my favorite stress-release poses below:

#1. Child’s Pose

 

Who doesn’t love child’s pose? I personally prefer putting my arms back along my legs in child’s pose when I am really looking to relax, because it takes away from the “activity” of the pose. The resting posture helps to quiet the mind, especially when it is almost always associated with relaxing, or taking a break in a traditional yoga practice.

#2. Eagle Pose

Eagle pose is a little bit more empowered, as it does take some focus and presentation. Concentrating on your balance, however, is good for reducing stress because it improves this focus, and can help to clear your mind from other things. Plus, the asana releases tension from your shoulders, legs, and back – all catalysts for carrying negative energy.

#3. Extended Triangle Pose

 Triangle pose is one of my favorites because as simple as it appears, it’s a full body stretch! the subtle hinging it involves may lessen anxiety.

#4. Cat pose

 

Again, the back is a large space which manages a lot having to do with our bodies, including our emotions. Cat (and cow pose) are a great sequence to work into your practice to help ease the back into a neutral, more relaxed position, reliving any stress stored in this area.

#5. Dolphin Pose

Something about this super funky cousin to the downward dog helps to quiet my mind every time I enter it. Again, a stress and anxiety reliving pose, Dolphin aids to the shoulders, neck, and spine where negative energy may be hiding out.

#6. Hurdle Bend

Finally, the hurdle bend helps to relax your whole body, similar to that of a forward fold, or any kind of full body fold. Exhaling as you drag your heart toward your sacrum helps to calm the brain, which is beneficial for tons of potential ailment such as feelings of depression, anxiety, fatigues, and even menstrual discomfort and insomnia.

 Of course there are plenty more options when it comes to movement that can be beneficial for stress relief. Heck, isn’t any movement better than none? Whatever you decide to do, just don’t let Monday (or Tuesday) get you down. Today I took back my Monday…tomorrow, maybe I’ll do the same for the good ol’ Twos. 

A Prune A Day

An apple a day is a great idea…because who doesn’t like apples? A prune a day on the other hand – I’ve found it a little more challenging to get my friends to participate in this practice.

The age old saying was actually originally phrased as, “Eat an apple on going to bed, and you’ll keep the doctor from earning his bread.” According to Caroline Taggart, author of “An Apple a Day: Old-Fashioned Proverbs and Why They Still Work,” and Margaret Ely with The Washington Post, the idea first gained popularity in the 1860s, then continued to evolve and change in phrasing over the course of the several decades that would follow.

Long story short, yes, it’s true that apples are good for you! Will practicing an otherwise unbalanced, unhealthy diet be completely rectified by eating an apple? Probably not. But I think you probably already knew that, too.

So what’s with prunes? With so many delicious apple choices, why should we be eating prunes? And everyday?! In honor of my favorite human/grandmother who has been blessed to celebrate another birthday yesterday, I wanted to share a little insight on the magic of a dried plum.

Aside from prunes being high in dietary fiber (3% of recommended daily intake), they also contain high amounts of sugars which contribute in a positive way to encouraging the digestive system…aka they help you have healthy poos! 🙂 Additionally, prunes are good for your heart, hair, skin, and vision, and are considered a powerful antioxidant! But to be honest, none of these reasons alone are what make me interested in the dry fruit.

Believe it or not, a dried plum/prune can positively impact your brain power, i.e. boost your memory! How? Those antioxidants I mentioned help to aid or neutralize cell-damaging free radicals which affect how our brains “remember.” According to yourhealthtube, eating 3-4 a day is actually more recommend than just one, but all the same, incorporating the snack into your regular diet will not only boost the function of your brain, but help to improve your ability to remember, and learn new information.

My mom was who actually discovered the magic of the prune (meaning all it’s aforementioned benefits) just a few years ago, and shared it with me. Unfortunately influenced by the presence of dementia in our family, I’ve continued to make eating prunes a part of my daily routine – I even keep a snack bag in my desk at work! I will admit, they can take a while to grow on you if you’re not that into plums, or dried fruit, but I think most of my friends (who I’ve forced into giving them a try hehe) will agree, they can be tasty. And isn’t everything a little more enjoyable when you know all the good it’s doing for your insides?

It’s no secret that as we age, memory loss is more and more common, even without a disease diagnosis. Why not try to fight that commonality, even if only by slight measure?

My favorite prunes (much like my favorite everything) are just $2.89 for a 16 oz bag at Trader Joe’s. Even sharing a few here and there, this will last me about 3-5 weeks!

 

Another good ol’ prune is the individually wrapped Sunsweet Ones, which you can get in a 12 oz bag from Walmart or Target for around $5-$6. These are good if you want to throw a few in your purse or gym bag, and always have them available to you on the go.

Happy pruning, happy remembering, and happy birthday, to my sweet, sweet Grandma! 🙂