Processed foods. Years ago, I wasn’t worried about them. Like most people, I knew eating out at fast food places too often was unhealthy. But thinking about what the term processed foods meant was not on my radar. I went to the store and bought my staples each week and went about my day. Back then I didn’t know that my beloved animal crackers were a processed food. I also didn’t know they were a source of inflammation for my body.
I had a true love affair with animal crackers. I can’t even begin to think of how many bags I consumed over the years. Before kids, after having kids – didn’t matter, they were a staple in my pantry.
20 years ago, I was in the ‘eat low fat’ camp to stay healthy. This snack said ‘Low Fat’ on the front. It was like a match made in heaven.
Animal crackers seemed like the perfect on-the-go snack. They didn’t need refrigeration and seemed to fill me up between meals. I was completely unaware that those processed food ingredients were negatively impacting me.
When There’s More to This Than Meets the Eye
You know that feeling when something’s too good to be true. It wasn’t long before I began to notice my stomach would bloat each time I ate animal crackers. I’m not talking a little bloat, but a reposition the belt bloat.
Eventually, a light bulb went off and I accepted that it was time to move on from this love affair.
Little did I know that this was the beginning of me connecting the dots. Processed foods were triggering a gut reaction.
So what gives?
Understanding Ultra-Processed Foods
The more I learned about processed foods, the more I began to understand my how they affect my body.
Historically, processed foods included any food altered from it’s original state. Nowadays, the term ultra-processed has entered the scene. It was created to further define the next-level of processing.
Basic processing can include techniques such as heating, canning, drying or pasteurizing. What’s important to note here is that a large number of our foods are ‘processed’ in some fashion. This confirms the statement that “not all processed foods are unhealthy”.
That said, some foods that go far beyond the basic processing to earn the badge of ultra-processed. This term was established by a team of Brazilian nutritionists conducting a study in 2016 that linked foods with cancer. In their study, they defined ultra-processed foods as: “industrial formulations with five or more ingredients.”
Ultra-processing is next-level. This stage involves adding flavors, additives, chemical preservatives, sugars, oils, fats, and salt. In short, these are the foods you’ll find packaged and placed in the middle aisles of the grocery store.
Marketers are Good at What They Do
I bought animal crackers because they were low in fat, had zero trans fats, and zero cholesterol. It seemed like the perfect snack, wouldn’t you agree?
Well, my friend, I’m here to share with you what I wish I had known way back then.
Marketers use terms like low fat, zero trans fat, zero cholesterol to sell products. And boy did they work on me! Here’s the hard truth: manufacturers are in the business of making money. They are not concerned whether the food is healthy or not.
Manufacturers hire amazing marketing teams who do their job well. They create beautiful designs, use buzz words to attract, and meet labeling requirements.
So most people, like me, look at the label for animal crackers and think “OK! This is a healthy choice!” and drop it in their cart.
But to know the FULL STORY of what you’re eating, you have to read the label AND the ingredients list.
When it Comes to Your Inflammatory Response, Ingredients Matter
Let’s take a look at the ingredients found in these beloved animal crackers. FIVE out of the NINE shown are inflammatory. That’s over 50%! And on top of that, they lack fiber. Bottom line, animal crackers are void of nutrients and will add MORE FUEL to your inflamed body.
Understanding their impact is critical for those battling chronic inflammation. Let’s break them down.
Enriched flour – ultra-processed wheat flour. Though enhanced with synthetic vitamins and minerals, this refined flour is inflammatory.
Soybean Oil – this refined vegetable oil is high in omega 6 fatty acids. While our body requires these fatty acids, our western diet provides more than we need. Vegetable oils are widely used in processed foods. Though it might seem harmless in this one food, there’s a cumulative effect that takes place. Vegetable oils are often used in processed foods, restaurant cooking, etc… It quickly adds up to HIGH levels of this INFLAMMATORY oil being in our diet, wreaking havoc on our guts.
High Fructose Corn Syrup – an artificial sugar made from corn syrup. Studies show this artificial sugar increases inflammatory markers. High intake over time can lead to a wide range of diseases and illnesses.
Salt – while a little in life is ok, be mindful of how much and how often you take it in. Most canned and processed food contains it.
Natural Flavor – a flavor additive created or altered from a natural plant. This lab-produced ingredient enhances flavor and drive sales. Many manufactures can use this as an anything goes option to drive the bottom line of their business. Meaning, it operates as a smokescreen to hide other addictive, harmful ingredients.
It’s safe to say this so-called ‘healthy snack’ of mine has long since hit the curb.
What I Eat Instead for Snacks
You can find ultra-processed foods at breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snack time. When you decide to make changes, it can feel very overwhelming. Do not let the overwhelm cause you to become stuck. Start small and commit to making ONE change to one snack. Doing so increases the likelihood of success. You will build momentum changing other meals throughout the days and weeks to come. Here are some swap ideas for healthy, fiber-filled, anti-inflammatory snacks:
mixed raw nuts
an apple with almond butter
dairy-free yogurt with homemade granola
sliced veggies with hummus
1/2 avocado with cucumber slices
As you begin to swap ultra-processed foods for fiber-filled foods, your gut comes back to life. Why? Fiber-filled foods feed your good bacteria. In turn they send out inflammation-reducing compounds and everyone gets happy!
Bottom line: Decide if you want to add fuel to your flames or start taming them so you can get your life back. Check labels and read the ingredient lists on the backs of all ultra processed foods. When we know better, we do better.
Sometimes, things are too good to be true, especially when it comes to food.
Listen to your gut and body – it’s giving you signs as it’s trying to get your attention.
Ultra processed foods are where manufacturers add flavors, additives, chemical preservatives, sugars, oils, fats and salt.
Marketers are in the business of selling products, not providing healthy foods
Become your own advocate and health investigator, read labels and ingredient lists.
Pick one meal or snack to start with as you make changes to your processed foods
Join my Anti-Inflammatory Lifestyle Support Facebook Group, click HERE to join. Here you’ll stay in the know and ahead of curve for your inflammation game
Disclaimer: This post may contain affiliate links. Any purchases made through these links will result in a small commission for me (at no extra cost for you), but all opinions are my own.
….and I’m ALL IN for the spirit of Christmas! I LOVE searching for the perfect gift, wrapping it in beautiful paper, adding the gorgeous ribbon or bows and tying it off with a beautiful name tag. Then comes the fun of watching loved one’s reactions as they open their gift or hear the joy in their voice when we talk that day – it just LIGHTS ME UP!!
As a Health Coach, wife, mom, daughter, sister, Aunt and friend, I often get asked about product recommendations – which I’m honored and love to share! If I can share an ounce of what I’ve learned over the years and help someone make a positive change, then count me in!
Maybe you’re reading this going through your own health journey and need recommendations on things to add to your wish list. Maybe you have someone you know and love who’s trying to make change in their life and you want to give them the perfect gift that shows you care about their journey. Whether you’re a wellness warrior or love someone who is, this list is for you!
Many people with chronic illness find as they embark on their health journey that the products they’ve been using years may potentially be contributing to their health issues. There are hundreds of chemicals used to create products and packaging that have known or questionable impacts on health and yet they’re still widely used. Its up to each of us to find healthier options. Luckily in recent years, more and more companies are hearing the call for cleaner products, leaving us with a vast selection of products to choose from today! See individual links for the favorites I use and trust down in the list below.
While I can’t personally wrap each gift for you (though if you were local I’d do it in a heartbeat!!), I hope this gift list is a helpful resource for you as you this holiday season.
Now, let the jingle bells ring and the twinkling lights sparkle!
For the Beauty Lover
Counter + Overnight Resurfacing Peel – $63 – Give the gift of aging backwards with this safer peel. Catch the Black Friday Sale, 15% off most items (excludes regimens, collections, Flawless in Five and Get the Look sets) going on now through the 29th.
Counter + All Bright C Serum – $79 – one of the most-loved Beautycounter products and for good reason: glowing and even skin tone with a reduction of age-spots! Catch the Black Friday Sale, 15% off most items (excludes regimens, collections, Flawless in Five and Get the Look sets) going on now through the 29th.
Velvet Eyeshadow Palette – Classic – $50 – 9 beautiful nude and neutral eyeshadows – the perfect gift for any skin tone! Catch the Black Friday Sale, 15% off most items (excludes regimens, collections, Flawless in Five and Get the Look sets) going on now through the 29th.
Rosewood Lip Sheer Genius Conditioning Lipstick – $32 – like a lip balm but better! Rosewood is one of my favorite time go-to’s! A warm neutral shade that’s perfect for most skin tones. Catch the Black Friday Sale, 15% off most items (excludes regimens, collections, Flawless in Five and Get the Look sets) going on now through the 29th.
Dazzle Dry – this at-home manicure and pedicure system is the real deal! A safer nail system where each application dries completely within 5 minutes plus it lasts up to 2 weeks!
Dry Shampoo – This dry shampoo is a rock star when it comes to extending your hair wash days! With Light and Dark Lock options, you’ll be set no matter what hair color you have! Use code DLWELLNESS for 10% off your first purchase!
Charcoal Deodorant – Giving deodorant for a Christmas gift? YES, ma’am! Making the swap to safer deodorant can be a game changer for hormones, making anyone on a health journey so much happier!! This is a superstar in odor management without all the harsh chemicals that can disrupt your hormones. Use code DLWELLNESS for 10% off your first purchase!
For the Healthy Foodie
Instant Pot – $79 – A kitchen miracle! From sauteing veggies, cooking meats, soups, stews and beans, to making yogurt, this kitchen workhorse does it all!
Vitamix – $350- From blending smoothies, making soups and pesto to shredding veggies, you’ll wonder how you ever got through a week without having one of these dream machines!
NutriBullet Pro – $86 – An equally impressive workhorse in the kitchen. Perfect for smoothies whether at home or traveling (I have been know to travel with mine because when you’re working to lower inflammation, you’ll do what lever it takes!)
Juicer – $149 – Juicing is an important part of an anti-inflammatory lifestyle, with this juicer you can skip the juice shop and make you’re own daily green juice at home!
Glass storage containers – $28 – swapping all your plastic for glass storage containers can help reduce the inflammatory agents in your environment. This set is perfect for various leftover needs!
Lifefactory Glass Bottles – $23 – Know someone who prefers glass over any other drinking vessel? You’ll love how durable this 22 oz bottle is (I’ve tested the drop-ability factor a couple of times and still own the bottles!)
For the Exercise Enthusiast
Jade Yoga Mat – $79 – This grippy, quick-drying mat helps any yogi stay put throughout their flow.
Ultimate Stash Pocket 7/8 Tight – $89 – Movement is KEY in an anti-inflammatory lifestyle and these tights provide amazing support through your toughest workouts + provide a place for storing your phone!
Swell Stainless Steel Water Bottles – $35 – Ditch the need to grab a plastic bottle of water! These 17oz stainless steel bottles are GORGEOUS and perfect for those on the go, no matter if you’re traveling or running errands. They’ll keep the water cold and you’ll keep unwanted chemicals out of your water (many plastic products release estrogenic chemicals adding unwanted inflammation to your body!)
For the Self-Care and Zen Seeker
Essential Oils – $165 – From aromatherapy that aids in stress relief to topical applications that help reduce joint pain, muscle aches, headaches and so much more, essential oils can be a beneficial part of an anti-inflammatory lifestyle. This starter kit is the perfect way to help someone embark in the world of essential oils. It comes with a gorgeous diffuser and 12 of the most-loved essential oils (Peppermint, Lemon, Lavender, Valour, Panaway, Peace & Calming, Frankincense, Digize, Raven, Citrus Fresh, Thieves and Stress Away). Valued at over $300, as a Wholesale Member, you save nearly 50% for a cost of $165. Contact me here to place your order.
Dry Brushing – $16 – With benefits such as exfoliation, improved circulation and lymphatic drainage, not to mention improving the appearance of skin, a dry brush gift is the perfect gift for someone looking to up their self-care game! Use code DLWELLNESS for 10% off your first purchase!
Lemongrass Body Oil – $42 – the perfect accompaniment to the dry brush. With anti-inflammatory properties, this oil nourishes and hydrates the skin + smells amazing! Use code DLWELLNESS for 10% off your first purchase!
Peppermint Shave Bar – $4.95 – The perfect stocking stuff! Time to kick aerosol cans to the curb and give the gift of this luxurious shave minus the harsh chemicals found in mainstream shaving creams.
Jellies – Shimmers – $39 – for a 5-pack ($7.80 per jelly!) – Buy one and break it up for multiple stockings!! Catch the Black Friday Sale, 15% off most items (excludes regimens, collections, Flawless in Five and Get the Look sets) going on now through the 29th.
Luminous Lid Cream Shadows – $ 39 – for a 4-pack ($9.75 for each shadow!) – Another gift perfect for splitting up and gifting many! Catch the Black Friday Sale, 15% off most items (excludes regimens, collections, Flawless in Five and Get the Look sets) going on now through the 29th.
Good Scents Hand Cream Trio – $34 – for a 3-pack. Winter hands be gone no matter if you’re on-the-go or at home! These luscious creams are perfect to slip in your purse or keep on your nightstand. At $11.33 each you can split and gift to a few of your BFFs! Catch the Black Friday Sale, 15% off most items (excludes regimens, collections, Flawless in Five and Get the Look sets) going on now through the 29th.
Lip Balm – $4 – A balm that soothes your lips and smells amazing (all while being free of harsh chemicals found in most mainstream lines!) is the perfect addition to any stocking! So many yummy scents to choose from (Peppermint is my favorite!!) Use code DLWELLNESS for 10% off your first purchase!
The health of your gut may be contributing to the symptoms you’re experiencing on a regular basis. More and more, gut health is making headlines. And for good reason.
Our gut microbiota is a workhorse for our body. Not only is it involved with our digestive function, research is showing how intertwined it is with the immune system, cognition, hormonal balance and gene expression. Some liken it to being a command center for human health.
What is the Gut Microbiota?
The gut microbiota is defined as an abundant, diverse community of microorganisms living within your gut walls. We have 39 trillion microorganisms in our colon. Within this colony, there are bacteria, viruses, fungi, parasites and archaea. Most of the species are bacteria. These single-celled microorganisms work together to create a vibrant community of diverse microbes who all are able to ‘get along”.
What You Eat Matters
The food you eat matters. Your microbes eat what you eat. Not only do they help break down your food so you can absorb vital nutrients, they also create compounds that impact your health. Their metabolism of the food you eat will either produce health promoting compounds that reduce inflammation, bringing balance to your body OR compounds that inflame your body.
The question is, which bacteria are you feeding? The health of your gut is in your hands. Will you feed the good guys or the bad guys? Feed the good guys the right things and you maintain a happy camper colony life where a diverse microbial community lives in harmony. Feed the bad guys and the diversity starts to change and problems begin to brew.
When Problems Creep In
Too often these problems creep in and stick around long enough that we begin to normalize them. We accept joint aches and pains, fatigue, digestive issues (bloating, constipation, diarrhea), acne, eczema, psoriasis, poor sleep, brain fog, memory issues, etc. as part of our life. Friend, these symptoms are not normal. You should not settle.
I say that with complete empathy. No judgement here…I totally get it!! (been there, done that!).
If you’re experiencing these types of symptoms, your gut may be out of balance, leaving your body INFLAMED. These are signs it’s sending, trying to get your attention. Settling, pushing them aside or accepting them as part of life will not bode well long-term.
Left unchecked, you may find yourself on the path to chronic illness. However, by doing the work now, you have a chance to turn things around.
If you’re one of the approximately 133 million people who’ve been diagnosed with chronic illness, DO NOT lose hope. You can still work to bring balance to your gut, inflammation levels and body. It will take some investigative work, determination and time, but it’s possible. Some find they’re able to reverse their condition. Others find a balance where they have better control of their condition.
Bottom line: it’s imperative to listen to your body. Become curious about what’s causing the symptoms. Take action.
Our gut microbiota is intertwined in major players in our body: digestive function, hormonal balance, immune system, gene expression and cognition
There’s 39 trillion microorganisms that we’re supporting in our gut alone
Our microbes eat what we eat
Feed the good guys and begin to enjoy peace and harmony in your gut and body
Feed the bad guys: diversity changes and problems brew
Listen to your body. Become curious and take action
Join my Anti-Inflammatory Lifestyle Support Facebook Group, click HERE to join. Here you’ll stay in the know and ahead of curve for your inflammation game
The key to a boosting your immune system is living a lifestyle of good-for-you behaviors. When you take care of yourself, your immune system will take care of you.
As a first line of defense for your body to fight off infection and illnesses, your immune system requires some TLC. It’s a complex system of cells, tissues and organs including your digestive system, skin, tonsils, bone marrow, lymph nodes, and the thin membrane tissues inside the nose, throat and genitals. Basically it plays a prominent role in your entire body.
Taking action today, will help ensure your tomorrows are healthy and happy. Wondering where to start? Here are 6 ways you can boost your immune system.
Eat More Whole Plant-Based Foods
When it comes to supporting your immune system, plant based foods will always serve you well. They are loaded with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, phytonutrients and fiber…all the things that keep your body healthy, happy and operating at an optimal level.
The antioxidants found in plant-based foods will go to work gathering up the excess free radicals floating throughout your body. Free radicals are a very normal part of our body’s make-up. And although we naturally have antioxidants in our body to balance out free radicals, their availability decreases as we age. If left unchecked, these free radicals can wreck havoc on our systems, building up to the point of chronic inflammation which leads to numerous health conditions ranging from autoimmune diseases, heart disease, alzheimer’s to certain cancers. That makes it even more imperative that we increase the amount of antioxidants we take in through our food.
In addition, plant-based foods will add a great deal of fiber to your diet. This makes the members of your gut flora (your microbiome) do the happy dance. Fiber feeds the healthy bacteria found in your gut, meaning they thrive, keeping the unhealthy bacteria to a low roar. When your gut is out of balance, your unhealthy gut bacteria are thriving…leaving you with the feeling of bloating, gassiness, constipation, diarrhea, etc. Not so fun!
Focusing on eating more plant based foods supports your gut which supports your immune system, lowering inflammation and improving your overall health.
Cut Back on Sugar and Processed Foods
Sugar. Ahhh…we all love the short-lived sweet sensation of a treat, but the long term effects of having too much sugar in our diet significantly increases not only your weight, but also the chance to develop Type 2 diabetes or heart disease. All three of these conditions weaken the immune system, leaving you more susceptible to colds, flu and infections.
Did you know there are over 56 different names for the types of “sugar” you’ll find in processed foods? Looking at the ingredient list for just SUGAR may leave you with a false sense of security. Stick to whole, real, natural sugars, (i.e. maple syrup, honey, date paste, etc.) if you find you find yourself in need of a sugar source. Have an urge for something sweet? Reach for some fresh fruit and add a couple of nuts in as well. And above all, try to limit your intake to 5% of your daily calories (i.e. 2 tablespoons or 25 grams in a 2,000 calorie diet),
Water has a starring role in many of your body’s functions, especially the immune system. Keeping your cells hydrated with water allows them to operate at an optimal level.
Water helps carry oxygen to your body’s cells, remove toxins from the body, aids in digestion and helps the body produce lymph fluid which is a critical component in the lymphatic system working properly. It also helps keep your eyes, mouth and skin properly hydrated, which is critical because these are points of entry for fighting off invaders.
Be sure you’re drinking adequate water each day.
Make Movement Part of Your Everyday
Being on stay-at-home orders does not mean we shouldn’t be moving our bodies on a daily basis. Engaging in regular exercise is an important part of supporting a healthy immune system. As little as 20 minutes of daily moderate exercise has been shown to boost the effectiveness of your immune system.
Not only will it improve immune function, it will also decrease inflammation, reduce stress, brighten your mood, keep your muscles strong and your joints fluid. It’s safe to say, regular exercise can have a profound affect on your health!
When you exercise, your sympathetic nervous system gets activated. This triggers a rise in your heart rate, blood pressure and breathing rate, all of which boosts your body’s circulation. This enhanced circulation enables immune cells to travel more easily through your body, doing what they do best, enhancing the immune function.
Catch Plenty of Zzzz’s
Sleep is all too often over-rated. Once upon-a-time, I was guilty of believing that myself. However, I’ve come to learn nothing can be farther than the truth. When you sleep, your body kicks into over-drive. That is, it goes into maintenance and repair mode.
Research shows that sleep improves and strengthens immune cells, in particular, the T cells. These T cells are critical for fighting against intracellular pathogens. When your body lacks sleep, the effectiveness of your immune cells decreases and other hormones (such as stress hormones) remain high, potentially further inhibiting the function of T cells.
At a minimum, adults need at least 7 hours of sleep for optimal health. That is a baseline number. Some people find they need much more, especially if they are battling chronic inflammation. It’s important to learn what your body needs and take steps to get there if it struggles to stay asleep through the night.
Did you know that 60%-80% of doctor’s office visits are due to chronic, unmanaged stress? Symptoms such as headaches, insomnia, heartburn, stomaches, anxiety, depression, etc. are just some of what sends people to the doctor’s office.
While stress is a natural part of our everyday lives (and our body was created to handle it in a fight or flight situation), stress that is ongoing can wreck havoc on our health. When your body is stressed long-term, it depresses the immune system’s ability to function properly, leaving you more vulnerable to colds, flu and infection.
High levels of stress can also lead to chronic inflammation. Inflammation left unchecked not only causes you to age faster, it also increases your risks of autoimmune diseases, diabetes, heart disease, and cancer, to name a few.
Some ways to combat stress include: meditation, exercise, yoga, talking with a trusted confidant, deep breathing and journaling. Keep in mind what works for one, might not work for another. It’s important to find what works best for your stress levels and do that.
Supporting your immune system looks like living a lifestyle full of good-for-you behaviors. Make each of the above a priority and you’ll start to notice how good you can feel in life. Additionally, you can feel good knowing you’ve increased your odds for fighting off or at least decreasing the severity of any colds, flus and infections that might come your way.
Focus on plant-based foods for optimal intake of antioxidants, phytonutrients, vitamins, minerals and fiber
Reduce your sugar intake
Stay properly hydrated
Move on a regular basis for at least 20 minutes per session
Get adequate sleep each night
Manage your stress levels
Join my Anti-Inflammatory Lifestyle Support Facebook Group, click HERE to join. Here you’ll stay in the know and ahead of curve for your inflammation game
Our emotions, positivity and negativity, have an impact on how our body’s immune system responds in our day-to-day lives. Finding ourselves in the midst of something as serious as a world pandemic is enough to send even the most positive of people into a tailspin.
As towns, cities and states start to make stay-at-home and shelter-in-place orders, it can feel like we’re loosing control of our own lives. The news is bleak and constant. We’re at home 24/7, with everyone in the house. Homes have been transformed into schools, offices and residences. There’s a lot of meal-making, cleaning up, doing laundry, etc. It can all feel very heavy, raising our stress and anxiety levels.
More than ever we need to take stock in what we’re feeling and reframe our thoughts before it makes an impact on our already taxed immune system (for those of you already dealing with chronic inflammation).
How Do Our Emotions Effect Inflammation?
Research shows negative mood and emotions have been associated with increased levels of inflammatory biomarkers. Meaning, when you’re stressed, anxious, sad, angry, etc. your immune system responds by increasing the release of inflammatory cytokines into your body.
While experiencing negative emotions is part of life, it’s important to note if we become stuck in a place of negativity, the inflammation in our body begins to build up. These high levels of inflammation can then become chronic, increasing your risk for chronic illnesses. Chronic illness can include anything from autoimmune disorders, heart disease and cancer to diabetes, just to name a few.
The good news? Positivity has been shown to decrease the levels of inflammation circulating through the body. That’s powerful information, especially in a circumstance where you feel you don’t have control! Learning how you choose to view a situation gives YOU the POWER to positively impact your immune response.
What is Positivity?
Now that we know how good positivity is at tamping down inflammation, what exactly is it? And how do we learn to seek it?
According to Oxford’s Online Dictionary, positivity is the practice of being or tendency to be positive or optimistic in attitude. When you have a knack for being positive, you’ll look at the bright side of things; seek the silver lining in tough situations. Sound easier said than done? Maybe, but with a little practice you can cultivate a more positive outlook on life. One that carries you though your good and hard days.
Before we go further, know that having positivity in your life doesn’t mean you’re striving for perfection or living in a world where hardship doesn’t effect you. Two truths I know to the core of my being: hard times are inevitable and perfection doesn’t exist. It’s ok to experience the emotions you feel when you find yourself in a challenging situation or season. That’s natural and expected.
The difference between a person who displays positivity and one who is negative, is their attitude and outlook for the future. A positive person will see a hard situation, experience the emotions, then keep moving forward. They share their feelings, lean on their faith knowing that things will get better and look for glimmers of hope in the midst of a dark storm or season.
What are Some Ways to Improve Your Positivity in the Midst of a Challenging Time?
When going through challenging situations or hard times, it can be hard to focus on positivity if you haven’t made it part of your everyday life. That said, it’s never too late to start!
Now more than ever, as we’re in a season of uncertainty and unknowns with the coronavirus pandemic, we should use this time and these activities to help lift spirits and improve mindsets.
Acknowledge what you’re feeling, share it with someone you trust, take stock in the things you can control and let go of the ones you can’t.
Be informed with the latest information, but limit how much media you consume regarding the news.
Listen to your favorite music, and dance like no-one’s watching or sing like you’re in your shower!
MOVE! Make sure you get out and move everyday. Practice yoga, exercise, walk the dog, etc. It all counts!
Listen to an uplifting podcast that inspires, encourages and motivates you.
Start a daily gratitude journal: take time to find 3 things you’re grateful for each day. Focusing on your blessings makes it hard to sit too long on the things trying to weigh you down.
Encourage others with uplifting thoughts and sentiments: let those in your circle know how much you love and appreciate them; make a goal of complimenting 3 people throughout your week; etc. By lifting others up you brighten their day and raise your positivity meter!
Create a space that inspires you. In our current situation, we’re all spending a lot of time at home. Use this time to clear the clutter and reset your spaces. It doesn’t cost you a dime to repurpose your furniture into new spaces, toss old paperwork and create boxes for donations.
Share kindness with those in your neighborhood and within your circle.
Seek Positivity and Enjoy the Good Vibes (and Lowered Inflammation Levels) that Comes with It
There’s no time like the present to make change in your life. Choosing positivity is a great place to start, especially as we’re in the midst of one of the most challenging times of our lives as a society and country.
Looking for resources to start (or deepen) your journey toward more positivity? Download my Positivity Tips and Resources Guide in the form below.
Friend, you are not alone in this journey. Be sure to share what you’re experiencing with others. Take time to surround yourself with positive people (yes, even if it’s only virtually!), practice some of the positivity tips listed above and look for the glimmers of hope. There are beautiful moments to be found in this season, you just have to be willing to look for them.
Stress, anxiety and negativity all have an negative impact on your inflammation levels
A correlation has shown between positivity and lower inflammatory biomarkers
Review the list of ways you can increase your positivity and put a few into practice this next week. Note how you feel, how your mindset starts to shift
Join my Anti-Inflammatory Lifestyle Support Facebook Group, click HERE to join. Here you’ll stay in the know and ahead of curve for your inflammation game
Ahh…there was nothing quite like the taste of a PB&J after a long day of swimming or chomping into the yumminess during my school lunch breaks…I have fond memories enjoying peanut butter growing up. Back in those days, there were fewer brands to choose from. However, today there so many!
On a recent trip to the grocery store, I paused as I came to the peanut butter section. It both amazed and overwhelmed me looking at all the options. How do you know which brand is providing the best quality? Some brands claim to be made with ‘Real Roasted Peanut taste’ or ‘Natural’ or made with ‘No additives, Sweeteners or Hydrogenated Oils’. What does all that really mean? Is it as simple as trusting the claims shown on the front packaging? Uh…unfortunately, no.
My goal as a health coach is to guide you in your anti-inflammatory lifestyle, providing clarity amidst the confusion. On the surface, this post appears to be about peanut butter. In reality, its largely about the conversation of reading labels and recognizing pro-inflammatory ingredients that aren’t serving your body well. That said, we start somewhere and today we’re starting with peanut butter! I put together a little comparison of two well-known brands (one of which claims to be ‘Natural’) and a ‘cleaner’ store brand. In keeping the playing field even, I made sure to stay within the same price-point, showing that you don’t have to spend a lot to make healthy changes to your diet. Prices range from $2.22 – $2.98.
Curious to know which peanut butter would I ultimately grab if looking for the least inflammatory option, for under $3.00? Read on to learn my thoughts on the ingredients and marketing strategies! And don’t forget to grab the FREE Inflammatory Ingredients Guide down at the bottom of the post! It’s the perfect quick reference shopping guide as you begin to kick inflammatory ingredients to the curb.
Before we dive into the comparison, let’s consider what causes us to typically reach for one brand over another. Bottom line, it’s a strong marketing strategy. Marketing teams work hard to make their brand stand out, to be the most visually appealing, make the biggest claims for health, etc. Food manufacturers, on the other hand, are in the business of selling products. Their concern isn’t necessarily about using the healthiest ingredients, it’s more about getting the biggest bang for their buck. They’ll hire marketers and graphic designers to highlight whatever increases their product sales the most. So more often than not, you’re drawn to whichever brand did their homework the best. It might look good and say the right things on the front of it’s packaging, but is it really made with quality ingredients? I know how overwhelming it can be to stand in front of shelves lined with the same type of product,
but, the one and only way you’re truly going to get the best quality product is by reading the ingredients list!
Now on to my peanut butter spread comparison!
Jif Reduced Fat Peanut Butter
Right off the bat, FOUR ingredients jump out to me: corn syrup solids, sugar, hydrogenated vegetable oils and mono and diglycerides (a.k.a. fillers). So let’s break these down.
Corn syrup solids, a.k.a. dried corn syrup, a.k.a. SUGAR: there’s no two ways about it, sugar is sugar. It doesn’t matter what fancy name you give it, they all lead to the same damaging effect in your body. Studies show too much sugar over time can lead to increased inflammatory markers. When it’s listed as the second ingredient for a food product, unfortunately, you’re getting a lot of it per serving.
Sugar: wait, we just talked about sugar above and here it is again listed as the third ingredient. Eating an excess of sugars in beverages and foods can have a negative impact on your overall health. It can drive up inflammation, lead to weight gain, blood sugar fluctuations, increase the risk of heart disease among many other things.
When you have chronic inflammation, it will only add fuel to the fire that’s already burning.
Fully hydrogenated vegetable oils: Any time you see this ingredient on the list, you should pause and reconsider the purchase. Although it’s considered to be a “better alternative” to partially hydrogenated vegetable oils (PHOs…which are basically trans fat and as of June of 2018 are no longer allowed in our food), they may prove to be just as unhealthy. There is another oil modification process that’s being used called interesterification. It’s a process that provides the same functional properties manufacturers are looking for regarding texture, spreadability, extended shelf-life, etc. But the problem is, long-term health ramifications are not well known. Early studies are showing that they may be as unhealthy as trans fats.
Bottom line, if you can find a peanut butter free from any type of hydrogenated vegetable oil, I’d go for that.
Mono and Diglycerides: These ingredients are additives that act as emulsifiers. They help blend the water and oil together, improving the texture and stability of the product, along with extending shelf-life. Here’s the deal, mono and diglycerides contain small amounts of trans fat. Wait, what?!?!? Didn’t I just say trans-fats are banned from our products? While that’s true, there’s this one little loop-hole that manufacturers can skate through. As long as the trans-fats are less than .5 grams per serving, manufacturers are in the clear and don’t have to note it on the label. The only way you’ll know which products are in alignment with your health goals is to read the ingredients.
Central Market Peanut Butter
Ahhh…looking at this ingredient list just makes me smile. 🙂 Peanut Butter with one simple ingredient….dry roasted peanuts. How good is that?? A brand with simple ingredients and a label that delivers on the claims it makes! No added sugar, no added preservatives, no added fillers…just wholesome peanut butter. Open the jar, give it a stir and enjoy without worrying if it will drive up your inflammation markers – unless you’re allergic to peanuts, then just focus on the label reading strategies here! ;).
Skippy Natural Peanut Butter
First, what I like about this list: it’s small AND I can pronounce all the ingredients!! The fewer ingredients in a product the better chance you’re getting closer to a real food item. That said, there are three ingredients that cause me to choose another option. Let’s dig into why.
Sugar: for the same reasons listed in the Jif peanut butter comparison, sugar is a pass for me here. It’s an added element you just don’t need and being the second ingredient, your per serving dose is quite high. Do we really need sugar with our peanuts??? Sugar is present in almost every processed food we eat. Make cuts where you can and you’ll start to see a huge improvement in how your body is feeling and living day-to-day!
Palm Oil: this oil is showing up more and more as a ‘better alternative oil’ in manufacturing. However, its controversial and the verdict is still out on whether it’s truly healthy or not. Its added to peanut butters as a way to keep the oil from separating and settling at the top. Hmmm…so if I just plan to stir my peanut butter before loading up the knife I could have it without the added oil?? Something to consider.
Salt: Here I’m being a little picky. While it isn’t a huge amount of salt, there are other brands that offer less. Salt is another ingredient added in abundance to a lot of processed foods. Without even knowing it you can be over-consuming it. Excessive salt in your diet can lead to issues with your heart health. You have more control when you’re salting your own food. What if you were to buy a low sodium option and add a sprinkle if you’re truly missing it? Something else to consider.
Which Peanut Butter Would I Choose as Part of My Anti-Inflammatory Diet?
So there you have it – a comparison of two brands you’ll find in most stores along with a generic store brand. Can you guess which one I’d go for? If you answered, HEB Central Market store brand, you’re correct! It’s a simple, clean and only one ingredient product and under $3.00. It makes this health coach smile!
Learning to look for pro-inflammatory ingredients gets easier the more you do it. If you found this article to be helpful and you’re to up your label-reading game, download my Inflammatory Ingredients Guide. It’ll help you navigate the grocery store as you work towards decreasing the inflammatory ingredients in your pantry.
Savoring the last days of summer this weekend? Looking for that perfect dish to bring along with you to BBQ so your body stays happy and you stay on track with your health goals? I’ve got you covered with these super yummy, nutrient dense recipes!
These veggie skewers scream of summer with their mix of summer squash, zucchini, red peppers, mushroom and red onions. They’re the perfect way to say adios to summer, while also helping you manage your inflammation.
Working to manage chronic inflammation and then staying on track with an anti-inflammatory diet can be challenging when it comes to a gathering like a BBQ or picnic. By planning ahead and bringing food you know you can eat worry-free, you’re not only guaranteeing a pain-free night (after the fun), but who knows, you might even inspire someone else to try these gorgeous dishes. So many people only think they don’t like veggies, but for many, when they give them a try and taste how rich and flavorful they can be, a whole new world opens up!
If you’ve been following me for any amount of time, you know I’m allll about REAL, WHOLE FOOD for managing a healthy lifestyle, no matter what your health circumstances are. And the more colorful you can make your dish, the better! Take this cool and refreshing cantaloupe and cucumber salad. The lively colors will call your name from any table or counter. Though it looks simple, it has layers of flavor, is nutrient dense, filling and DELICIOUS! This is a crowd pleaser…be sure to double the batch if you’re taking it to a gathering!
This bright, vibrant-colored chimichurri sauce gets me every time. It’s true love. Not only is it my favorite color, its made with ingredients that add another layer of inflammation fighting properties to any meal and it’s LOADED with flavor. I mean, the taste will literally blow you away. It adds such a depth of flavor to cooked veggies or salads and is sure to become a staple in your weekly meal rotation.
Bringing colorful produce together not only makes a dish look ah-mazing, it also vastly improves the nutrient content, raising the antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, fiber, etc., all the things that help drive down and move excess inflammation out. You give your body the gift of being fueled by food that satiates, nourishes and tastes incredible. In return, your body takes care of YOU! You won’t find yourself at the end of the day, or the day after that, regretting your choices at the BBQ! You just keep rolling on with your weekend, savoring the end of summer. Seems like a no-brainer to me!!
This meal is the real deal. It checks all the boxes for fiber, good carbs, healthy fats, and protein. With all the colors, you know you’re getting loads of phytonutrients that equate to inflammation fighting goodness for your body!! A definite win for those on an anti-inflammatory diet!
While all this is good and well, you might be wondering, but what about DESSERT???” Don’t worry, I haven’t left that out!
I’ve always loved chocolate, but to be honest, it was Easter 2016 when I had a huge ah-ha moment in my health journey. I had already started making some minor changes, but hadn’t really considered the impact of the occasional processed sugary treat. After eating my beloved Reese’s Peanut Butter mini cup (the Easter Bunny was kind and left me quite a few…so there may have been more than one consumed that day!), I quickly noticed my body tailspin into a pain cycle. It was then that lightbulbs went off and I realized the true impact of processed sugar. It was that incident that set me on the path of healing and health that I now enjoy. BUT, that doesn’t mean a girl doesn’t want to enjoy the occasional chocolatey sweet treat!! It just means that she gets creative and comes up with ways that it can be done with whole, real food!
That’s where this Chocolate Almond Date Bite comes in. It’s so delicious, quick and super easy to make you’ll have a hard time keeping them on hand until you get to your picnic or BBQ!
So there you have it, a quick and easy meal plan for your Labor Day gathering! To make this super easy, like a grab and go file, I’ve combined all the recipes on one download. SUBSCRIBE BELOW, and your recipes will be sent to you. Check your pantry and fridge for ingredients you have vs. what you need, then head to the store (I’ve even included a grocery list for you!).
This Labor Day, enjoy time with friends and family and stay on track with your health. A holiday gathering shouldn’t set you back, it should fill your heart and nourish your belly. When you have a game plan, it’s possible to achieve both!! Have a wonderful, safe long holiday weekend!
Did you know every time you go in to see your doctor about a symptom there are two paths or mindsets you can choose from in terms of taking care of your health? For years, many of us haven’t given it a second thought, but times are changing and so is our health. As the rates for cancer, autoimmune, diabetes, memory loss, pancreatitis, arthritis, and so much more continue to rise, we have to take action. It’s time to make some changes.
Over the years, we’ve all become accustomed to a ‘have an ill, take a pill’ mindset.
On this path you seek out whatever pill will take care of your symptom, be it over-the-counter or prescribed. The problem with this mindset is you’re only taking care of symptoms. At the end of the day, you’re still left with the unknown root cause lying within you. What does this mean? The pill you take will help alleviate symptoms for a short while. But not long after going off them, inevitably, your symptoms will come back. Think about how often you have a headache and reach for an Advil or Aleve. Did you know sometime headaches can be caused by lack of hydration, stress, lack of sleep, certain foods, skipped meals, etc.? If your first action is to reach for the ibuprofen, you’re missing out on a crucial opportunity to take care of the root cause that driving your headache. And this leaves you open to the potential of having bigger problems down the road.
Does that Mean I’m Anti-Medicine? No.
All that said, I want to be clear and state that I’m not anti-medicine. I believe medicine serves a vital purpose in our health care. The problem is, we as a society have become conditioned to wanting everything fixed quickly and choose to reach for the medicine cabinet first before taking a step back to look at our lifestyle. Often there are changes we can make there first and foremost. In many cases, when we reach for the pill first, we‘re essentially masking the problem, making it harder in the long run to discover the true issue. With this mindset, we take medicine, then many times find we have new problems creep up that develops as a side effect to the medicines we take! So you see it starts a vicious cycle of trying to take care of symptoms instead of taking care of the root cause. How many of you are on nine, ten, eleven different daily medicines? Friends, there is a better way!!
Enter the PILL and SKILL mindset. Here you take an active role to learn more about what YOU can do to improve your health.
While doctors work to help make us feel better, ultimately, the responsibility for our health falls on each of our own shoulders. While in a lot of cases there’s a true need for medicine, especially acute care, often there are other things we can do ourselves to improve our health. What if, instead of asking your doctor “Do you have a pill for that?” you say “is there a skill I can learn to improve my health?” More often than not, there is! While taking the time to look at your lifestyle can seem daunting at first, its usually the best place to start. Most of us already know the things we need to change, we just get caught up in the feeling of being overwhelmed and not knowing where to start.
This is where I come in as a health coach
So many people struggle with excess inflammation in their lives, leading to achy joints, stomach issues, added weight, eczema/skin irritations, high blood pressure and cholesterol, trouble sleeping and so. much. more. This is the first layer…the ‘signs’ that your body is trying to get your attention. Left unchecked, you may find yourself with a more serious diagnosis. Friends, we live pro-inflammatory lifestyles. We don’t move as much as we should, drink enough water as our body needs, we rely on processed, fast food, sleep just a little, then get up and start all over again.
Maybe you’re already in a place where your doctor has told you to make changes in your lifestyle or maybe you’re tired of being tired, achy and sleepless and you’re ready to do something about it. If either of these describe where you’re at, keep reading!
Many have found transitioning to an anti-inflammatory lifestyle has been a game changer for their ‘itisis’. By making changes that reduce the inflammation in their body, they regain control and get back to living life! I have a huge heart and passion for helping others who are ready to do the work so they can achieve the same freedom and get back to living life to it’s fullest! In my practice, I work with clients who want to achieve a more vibrant, healthy life. They may or may not already know they things they want to change. I walk alongside them in the process helping discover areas for improvement, uncover their strengths, help set goals and hold each accountable along the way. As they start to find success in achieving small goals, the big end-goal seems less daunting and transformation starts happening.
Are You Ready for a Fresh Mindset?
Which mindset do you have in your health journey? If you’re a pills and skills mindset, keep doing you and spread the news! If you’re in the pill-for-an-ill camp, YOU ARE NOT ALONE! The great majority of us have been going along with the flow. It’s only as we’re getting sicker and sicker that we started to question some things. And now that I know better, I want to make sure others know better. Are you ready to take charge of your health? To enjoy the freedom that comes from living an anti-inflammatory lifestyle? What’s one change you can make this week to start your journey? Don’t know where to start… Let’s talk!