Well, I have talked about it for sometime and we finally made it happen! We have a podcast. Welcome to the Between Meals Podcast.
Click the player below to listen to the very first episode of Between Meals, right here on the website, you can also easily download it to your device. (no app needed)
10 Simple Ways to Practice Self-Care
This post is sponsored by Desert Essence.
As a culture we are quite literally burning out. I think many folks can often feel like they are too busy to take care of themselves. But without time for our self-care, stress can take over and we are inundated with exhaustion and we find ourselves a mere shell of who we could be.
Stress is often the leading cause of most health conditions and diseases we face. Being overworked and burning the candle at both ends, this sends our body into an innate state of stress response, releasing an excess of cortisol into our bloodstream to manage the state of our body feeling “in danger”. This is “fight or flight” mode and while our body is here and in a chronic state of the sympathetic nervous system dominance, our digestion doesn’t work, our immune system shuts down, sleep is affected, our heart rate increases and we feel chronically fatigued. We gain weight and our hair skin and nails look drab, despite how hard we try and how great we eat. Our ability to tackle and manage daily tasks feels beyond comprehendible.
Sure you can get your self-care on with yoga, drinking green juice and meditating once in a while, cramming them smack in the middle of your stressful days, but I believe that self-care is a practice much more effective when approached daily, with mindfulness and intention.
Better yet, find a full day to dedicate to your self-care, whatever you need most in that particular moment. If I am home and free, Self-Care Sunday is a regular occurrence that serves a very important purpose to my sanity, my health and my happiness. Some Sundays are facial and hair masks, long showers or staying in my PJs all day. Some involve long walks with good friends, a late brunch and Sunday cocktails – to me it’s just about dedicating time for me, honoring the need for space, not working, not putting anyone else before me and simply rebalancing my mind, body and spirit.
By treating ourselves with kindness and love, daily, we can approach our life, our work and relationships with a happier, more clear mind, allowing the cycle of positivity and happiness to continue to ripple out into the world around us.
Gratitude is an immensely powerful force that we can use in the most simple of ways to expand our happiness and cultivate loving relationships, it can even improve our health, both mental and physical.
I am so excited to share the Power of Gratitude. The very many powerful health benefits to a regular gratitude practice along with some tips and thoughts on how to cultivate a grateful heart, plus if you scroll to further down, I’m even offering a free download of a Gratitude Journal worksheet you can use daily, as part of your practice.
I invite you to explore ways to support living gratefully as a way of life, not simply something we celebrate once a year.
The First Step to Happy Hormones honors the very delicate balance of our endocrine system by treating dysfunction on a foundational level rather than simply managing or masking symptoms. This is the first post in a Hormone-Focused Series from Nutritional Therapy Practitioner Brynn D’Avello.
My favorite books come from the 1800s, (primarily Jane Austen’s novels), but Brontë, Dumas, Tolstoy and Dostoyevsky populate my “pleasure reading” shelves as well. The common outcry of women in literature of that period was, “Oh my poor nerves!” Today’s self-diagnosis is, “My hormones are out-of-whack.” Interestingly, the nervous system and the endocrine (hormone secreting) system work together frequently. Epinephrine and norepinephrine are classified as neurotransmitters and hormones.
When clients come to me for nutritional help to balance their hormones I tell them that it’s not a simple process and will require work on my part to investigate where the imbalance is originating to know how to support the underlying foundations of their body. It also takes commitment on the part of the client to change their habits. Endocrine function is a system of complex relationships. The goal is to support the entire system, not just to manage the symptoms. Each client has their own unique needs, and it is important to lay the right foundation for digestion, hydration, blood sugar regulation, mineral and fatty acid balance through a nutrient-dense diet.
What Are Hormones Exactly?
Basically, they are chemical messengers that carry information and orders to organs in the body. They are targeted for specific cell receptors around the body and are used to keep your body in homeostasis, or in balance. We all know that hormones are a key component in reproduction, and while many of us probably only think about them in relation to PMS hormones are critical in many other body processes. Other functions hormones are responsible for are regulating metabolism and energy balance, glandular secretions, some immune system activities; they play a part in the contraction of smooth and cardiac muscles; they control growth and development, and help establish circadian rhythms.
Much like some of the other basic nutrition topics we’ve been covering recently, I know for many of you, this information on Why to Choose Grass-fed Meat, it may be old news. Feel free to skip on by and wait for the next post, but if this information is new to you or you want a refresher or to learn more, I got you. As you have heard me say, time and time again, every day, every single day, I encounter people outside my little sheltered food/nutrition bubble, who haven’t yet received this information and knowledge that many of us take for granted, being deeply rooted in our daily food choices for some time. Rather than assuming that everyone already knows this stuff, I would rather create simple posts that are easily accessible to them/you to share, inform and empower you with the knowledge to make better decisions for you and your health.
Not all meat is created equal. But, I am sure most of you know that at this point. As you also know from recents posts here on Tasty Yummies, fat can absolutely be an incredibly nutrient rich part of your diet, but this same macronutrient when of the wrong variety, can also cause numerous diseases, inflammation, digestive issues and more. The diet of the animals we eat, can greatly change the fat in it’s tissues (and consequently the meat that we eat), among other nutritional differences. According to a study 1http://www.csuchico.edu/grassfedbeef/research/Review%20Grassfed%20Beef%202010.pdf conducted by California State University’s College of Agriculture, grass-fed beef nutrition includes significantly more omega-3 fatty acids (2 to 4 times more yhan grain-fed) and more conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) than grain-fed beef. The ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 in grain-fed meat is much worse than grass-fed and it’s not because the omega-6 content of beef fat skyrockets with grain feeding; it is however because the omega-3 content is basically nonexistent in the grain-fed animals. Due to the modern, standard American diet (SAD), many people are highly omega-3 deficient and therefore the ratio to bad omega-6 fats is severely imbalanced due to it’s prevalence in a SAD, which can lead to a chronic exacerbated inflammatory response, a general state of systemic inflammation, and the development of the various diseases with an inflammatory root.
Conjugated Linoleic Acid of CLA is a strong polyunsaturated fatty acid that must be obtained from our diets. CLA has been shown to discourage weight gain and build muscle, as well as support metabolic and cellular health by helping to transport fatty acids into the mitochondria and boost immune health. It has even been shown to lower the risk of cancer. 2https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15941017 High-quality grass-fed beef and butter from healthy, grass-fed cows or other animals are the top sources of CLA.
Grass-fed beef, is also one of the best protein foods around, is also higher in precursors for vitamin A and E and cancer and heart disease-fighting antioxidants compared to grain-fed beef. It is also higher in B vitamins, vitamin K and trace minerals like magnesium, calcium, and selenium. Grass-finished beef has higher proportions of cholesterol neutral stearic fatty acids and less cholesterol-elevating short chain fatty acids, such as myristic and palmitic acid. Grass-fed meat truly shines in the micronutrient profile for one major reason: Grass-fed cows get more nutritious food.
Ideally these animals are grass-fed for their whole life. Only exclusively grass-fed cows live out their entire lives on grassland. The rest may start their lives on open pasture and are then eventually moved to a feedlot. Often meat being sold as “grass-fed” is an animal that was fed grass for a short time, early in it’s life, but finished with grain, to increase weight gain, to fatten them up and reduce costs and increase profitablity. Just 80 days of grain feeding was enough to destroy the omega-3 content of the beef. CLA content plummeted in the same amount of time. The longer the animals were fed grains, the lower the quality of the meat. This is one of the many reasons that 100% grass-fed or grass-fed and grass-finished should be sought out.
Read more about the cost of grass-fed meat and how the labeling of grass-fed animals can be downright deceitful. While the FDA no longer governs this label claim, you should still look for it and additionally look for seals such as American Grassfed or PCO Certified 100% GrassFed for assurance that the claim was verified and means the animals were 100% grass fed and raised on pasture. You can also look for The Certified Grassfed by AGW seal. 3http://greenerchoices.org/2016/12/30/grassfed-general-claim/ Even more reasons to get to know your farmer or rancher and ask the important questions directly to the person that actually knows. As Michael Pollan says “shake the hand that feeds you“!
1. ↑ http://www.csuchico.edu/grassfedbeef/research/Review%20Grassfed%20Beef%202010.pdf 2. ↑ https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15941017 3. ↑ http://greenerchoices.org/2016/12/30/grassfed-general-claim/
Our thoughts have the power to transform our reality.
The Healing Practice of Pratipaksha Bhavanam
Vitarka badhane pratipaksha bhavanam – Respond to negative thoughts and patterns by thinking and doing the opposite.
If you’ve followed Tasty Yummies for sometime, you are aware that my yoga practice has played a very integral role in my healing and my health, along with my journey toward self-love and self-confidence. I jokingly say that yoga is the gateway drug that came into my life, rocked me and changed me forever – the “drug” that got me on the path to healing. But in full honesty it truly was the stepping stone that brought me to a place where I could finally prioritize my health and from a totally non-ego centered approach, it allowed me to place ME and my happiness above all else. Yoga was the first introduction I had to learning to love and celebrate my body, to trusting myself and most importantly, to knowing that I was actually worthy of being happy, vibrant and well.
It was sometime in 2006 that I first stepped onto my yoga mat, and while I didn’t know this at that time, it was that first unrolling of my mat that fully changed the trajectory of my life moving forward. It was the first time that I made a choice to prioritize my self-care above all else, to give myself permission to fully love myself and to trust that what lied ahead, while intensely challenging, would make for a better version of me.
My yoga practice has evolved greatly over the years. From a daily, rigid, before dawn, self-led mysore practice, to group ashtanga practice, to sweaty vinyasa classes anywhere and everywhere I could take them in, from coast to coast. A few years ago my personal practice eventually reached a place that I was yearning for more and it was then that I received my 200-hour and then 500-hour certification to teach, which I used to host retreats and teach regular classes, publicly and privately. These days, my personal yoga practice is much more private and intimate, with a far less stringent, regimented approach.
While I don’t have a scheduled 90 minute practice daily anymore, yoga still seeps into every single one of my days, even if just by way of the philosophies and methodologies inspiring my approach to daily living. Often it’s the practice of conscious breath work in a stressful moment, or quite literally physical stretches prior to or just after lifting heavy weights or having a rigorous workout of some kind. Some days I make my way to the beach to flow. Often I don’t. I find myself, most days, without consciousness, creating a symphony of breath and movement when I need it most or finding that beautiful balance between effort and steadiness in all aspects of my living. There may not be any greater constant in my life than the practices I have cultivated through yoga.
Throughout my yoga teacher training in 2014, I had a great many lightbulb moments. Literally open mouth “Aha!” moments. Realizations not just in what my body and mind were capable of, but rather in recognizing the control that I had unknowingly harnessed through my practice over the years up to that point. The control of creating my own happiness on the mat and in my life. There were beautiful practices that I had cultivated, unconsciously, which greatly contributed to changing me and much of it finally had explanation with these teachings. I could finally put words and thoughts to them and almost tangibly hold them in my hands so that I could study, cultivate, practice and share them with others.
Studying the yoga sutras and more specifically, Pratipaksha Bhavanam, were probably the most eye-opening aspects of my teacher training and to this day, despite my practice and my teaching career having changed drastically than what I ever could have imagined, they continue to provide daily practices and inspiration for a better life.
Yoga at 8,839 feet?
It was at the very top of Half Dome mountain on a trip to Yosemite last week, at the end of the most intense and rigorous hike (and experience) of my life, after facing my biggest fears and heading head on into place of great discomfort – that I had a great moment of true revelation! It was on top of that mountain, while sobbing in pure pride for what I had just accomplished, that I had the great realization that it was my yoga and the practice of Pratipaksha Bhavanam that got me through and to the top of that mountain that day! Both literally in the actual hike to the peak, but also the years of healing and transformation that led me to even being able to take that journey to be there, in the first place.
In every moment of self-doubt on the journey that day, in every intense thought of great fear, in every question of “But, what if I fall?” I had the unconscious ability to tap into this important practice and change both the dialogue and the outcome. I wouldn’t allow it to continue, I honored it in the moment, I expressed gratitude for it’s teachings and it’s purpose, then I shut that shit down and then literally heard the words – “Oh, my darling, but what if you fly?” (Erin Hanson)
Selecting eggs these days can be a bit overwhelming. There’s Free-Range, Organic, Caged, Cage-free, Pasture-Raised. There are brown eggs and white eggs, Omega-3 enriched eggs. Not only are there significant differences in the animal care with these various types of eggs, but in addition, depending on what the hens themselves ate and their access to sunlight, the end result in the eggs we eat, also show drastic nutritional differences, as well. Read on for What You Need to Know About Eggs. Let’s get right to it:
Look at the difference in the color of the yolks from a conventional egg (left), to a pasture-raised egg (right).
The Various Labels – What Do They Mean
Cooking Fats and Oils: Which to Include and Which to Avoid
Fats and oils are a necessary part of cooking, but using the right ones are down right essential to living a healthy and vital life. Just like rest of what we eat, a good rule of thumb with fats and oils is to always opt for organic and you should avoid overly-processed, highly refined fats and basically anything that your grandmother wouldn’t recognize as traditional food (i.e. basically ALL highly-refined vegetable and seed oils) – but to be frank, there is a lot more to the story! Not only do the types and quality of fats and oils matter – but so does their proper use. Honoring the various molecular structures of the different fats is the best way to insure that you are using them appropriately, without causing damage to the fats and in turn, negative affects on our health.
Here is a quick resource guide including the various uses for each:
2016 will go down in the books as an intensely challenging and pivotal year for a great deal of us. If you too are counting down the days to starting over in 2017 with a vow to change and have a better year, let’s reflect on these resolutions and how to make them last. Mentally we need that idea of pressing a magic reset button in hope that we can leave our baggage behind in a four digit number and wash our hands of it. By the end of the year it’s as if our candle has been burned at both ends and we grasp at the belief of starting over at the stroke of midnight.
I have learned through my own ritual work with the moon and seasons that everything is on a cycle and having our own practice to mark the beginning and end of them can help you manifest things you want to attract and release that which no longer serves you. The moon expands, gets full and bright and then retracts until its dark only to start the cycle again. In the fall, the leaves die and fall off of the trees, everything retreats and goes within for Winter and emerges with new life and birth in Spring. We are not immune to these natural cycles. It’s why we focus so much on the New Year! But before we can make room to bring new things into our lives, we must release the old and clear out the clutter. I am going to help you set this intention for release through a simple ritual I have experienced results with.
Digestive dysfunction is easily the most common chronic ailment I encounter working as a Nutritional Therapist. As a follow-up to my in-depth series Digestion 101, I wanted to offer five, simple actionable steps that you can take right away to immediately begin the improvement of your digestion.
Digestive dysfunction can have many faces – gas, bloating, stomach aches, indigestion – we’ve all been there. Yes, there are plenty of quick-fix, short term “bandaid” approaches to managing the symptoms, I see so many people that often pop antacids, take anti-gas, diarrhea or constipation meds just to get through the day. Sadly this only manages the symptoms of a larger problem and more often than not the root cause of the dysfunction is left untreated and the problems still persist.
Rather than popping pills or difficult, unnatural approaches, here are 5 simple, meal-time tips to improve your digestion, naturally.
5 Mealtime Tips to Improve Digestion
On the regular I find myself saddened and unpleasantly surprised by the lack of easily accessible, reliable information and data concerning food, nutrition and health. Truthfully, looking back, it’s amazing how little I myself knew, before I started down this long, self-initiated, ongoing path of nutritional education and empowerment of the past 10+ years. I am often reminded these days that I live in a bubble of sorts, surrounding myself virtually and otherwise with bloggers, healers, nutritionists and content creators whose lifestyles mirror my own. Reading books, listening to podcasts and following doctors and researchers creating and sharing important information and research about health and nutrition. I tend to forget and maybe I even take for granted, how much I do know and often I find myself making sweeping assumptions that everyone else knows most of it, too. I know for so many of you this post and this information is old news, it’s a rerun, you’ve heard it before. But if this post reaches even one new person, if I can send my new nutritional clients, who are still cooking with vegetable oils, here to learn more, then it’s a success!
As I enter the homes of my nutritional clients, as well as my close friends and family members, the number one thing I see among their food choices, that I immediately want to remove from their pantries and toss aggressively into the garbage: is vegetable and seed oils. In my opinion, vegetable oils are far worse than any overly refined carbs, white sugar or high fructose corn syrup. This deadly, Frankenstein-eque, lab-created “food” (if you can even call it that) is wreaking more havoc on people’s health than possibly anything else and sadly it’s being overlooked by so many. Much of this comes from Western medical practitioners who are woefully uneducated in nutrition or those whose nutritional education is sorely dated, built on antiquated and debunked health myths of previous generations. Or maybe it’s the fact that big food industry in our country has a large stake in corn and soy production and these have become, by far, the cheapest crops we are growing, thanks to government subsidies. Take a look at most packaged and processed foods and I can almost guarantee you will find one or both of these foods somewhere on the label.
The edible oil industry in our country, “Big Ag” and their marketing “geniuses” sought to demonize tropical oils and other saturated fats and in turn, in the same breath to promote their own vegetable oils, like corn and soybean oil. This great movement toward the excessive use of polyunsaturated fats and the demonization of saturated fats came with the advent of the “Lipid Hypothesis” — which featured fraudulent research made by a terrible scientist named Ancel Keys who made unsubstantiated claims that saturated fat and cholesterol were the cause of heart disease and ignored research and data that didn’t support his argument. We can see how well all that has gone!
The fats used in this study were hydrogenated, processed fats, known to be extremely irritating to the body, particularly the vascular system. Cholesterol acts as a healing agent to repair and protect the arteries and veins. Therefore, the more irritation, the more cholesterol will mobilize to save the day! Research now shows us that dietary cholesterol intake has VERY LITTLE to do with over all cholesterol levels, so this part of the theory was off target as well. Today, the Lipid Hypothesis continues to be promoted by most medical professionals and pharmaceutical companies, as well as the modern food processing giants, who profit from such flawed research. Saturated fatty acids from healthy sources nourish the vascular system, enhance immune function, protect the liver from certain toxins (including alcohol), aid in calcium absorption, and increase cellular membrane integrity. Keep in mind that heart disease was considered a rare condition before the 1920’s, but spiked dramatically from 1910 to 1970 as Americans began consuming less saturated animal fats and increasing amounts of vegetable fats in the form of margarine, shortening and adulterated, refined oils of all types. Our not-so-distant ancestors consumed healthy sources of saturated fats each and every day with no adverse health effects whatsoever! 1Fats: Safer Choices for Your Frying Pan and Your Health By Caroline Barringer, CHFS, NTP
After going through the Nutritional Therapy program at the NTA to become a certified Nutritional Therapy Practitioner I have found myself more inspired than ever to want to help people, to share what I know and to do whatever I can to help make a change in our health, our very broken food system and to empower people to make the very best choices for themselves and their families. So let’s start with one of the most important topics: 4 Reasons to Avoid Vegetable and Seed Oils!
What are Vegetable Oils?
Vegetable oils are oils that are extracted from seeds, germs or beans, such as corn, sunflower, safflower, soybean, or rapeseed (canola oil), etc. Non existent until the early-1900’s, vegetable oils are one of the most unnatural “foods” you can find. Vegetable oils are PUFAs, which stands for Poly-Unsaturated Fatty Acid. In chemical terms, that means that the fatty acid has more than one (poly) double bond in the carbon chain. They’re unsaturated because they’re missing out on what saturated fatty acid has — hydrogen atoms. In a sense, that makes the bonds sort of incomplete. So, imagine a chain of links that are sort of missing a joint or two, on each and every link — it wouldn’t be very strong or stable. These messed up and broken chains make for highly unstable fats that are prone to oxidation in the presence of heat and light, during cooking, sitting on the shelf in the grocery store or in your kitchen pantry and even in your body and they turn rancid, which our body reacts terribly to. Our body attempts to respond to and neutralize the oxidization by utilizing its stores of antioxidants. This oxidization process causes cell mutation, which we see in chronic inflammation, the source of most of the worst illness plaguing our society, cancer, heart disease, etc.
It’s really pretty simple. Because of their instability, and the negative effects on the body’s systems these oils have in excess, PUFA are just plain bad.
The most common vegetable oils on the market are:
- soybean oil
- canola oil (rapeseed oil)
- sunflower oil
- corn oil
- cottonseed oil
- “vegetable” oil
- safflower oil
- peanut oil
- grapeseeed oil
- rice bran oil
- shortening (made from above oils)
- fake butter or spreadable butter-type spreads (I Can’t Believe it’s Not Butter, Earth Balance, Smart Balance)
Thankfully less and less people are cooking with these oils at home these days, however unfortunately it’s still not enough to just not buy these cooking oils at the store. Be aware that many/most processed foods contain these oils so you have to be sure to read labels. Salad dressings, condiments like mayo, sauces, crackers, cookies, chips… check your ingredients. You can also bet that most restaurants are cooking in vegetable oils, because they are so cheap! Unless a restaurant specifically states otherwise, their fried foods are all cooked in soybean, cottonseed or some other highly toxic vegetable oil.
(Note the term “vegetable oil” does NOT apply to healthy plant oils like olive oil or coconut oil, which are extremely healthful)
4 Reasons to Avoid Vegetable Oils
1. ↑ Fats: Safer Choices for Your Frying Pan and Your Health By Caroline Barringer, CHFS, NTP
I received compensation from Alcon for the below post, but all opinions expressed here are mine.
Glasses and contact lenses have been a part of much of my life. When we moved to California over three years ago, I actually had to give up wearing contact lenses as I began to suffer from dryness, allergies and itchy eyes – nearly daily. This certainly complicated things as wearing glasses in the kitchen, dealing with the steam of the oven or the dishwasher fogging up the lenses, can complicate things while cooking. Plus, glasses while at the gym or yoga practice, sliding off your sweaty face is also annoying and cumbersome. After some changes to my lifestyle, managing ongoing allergies and getting back to tip top eye health, I am back to wearing contacts again and I am loving my new DAILIES TOTAL1® contact lenses. Daily disposable contact lenses are totally new for me, but I am loving the freedom to enjoy my on-the-go lifestyle without the hassle of glasses and I love that each day, my contact lenses feel fresh and new. If you would like to try them, visit DAILIESChoice.com to learn about the Alcon DAILIES® Choice Mail-In or Online Rebate Offer and how to save up to $200 on a year’s supply of DAILIES TOTAL1® contact lenses!*
Research shows that much like the rest of our bodies, what you eat can also help support eye health as you age. Of course, as always, it is recommended that you eat plenty of fruits and vegetables rich in color, like orange, yellow, red and dark green as these are particularly likely to include the vitamins great for eye health. Foods rich in antioxidants are also known to help protect the eyes from age-related macular degeneration (AMD), which is the leading cause of blindness among older Americans; as well as cataracts and other eye-related conditions. It is documented that people who supplement their diet with Vitamin C, antioxidants, zinc, beta-carotene, and vitamin E experienced about a 25% reduction in risk of developing serious AMD1https://www.macular.org/antioxidant-vitamins-and-zinc-areds.