What the Health and the Keto Controversy

What the Health and the Keto Controversy - making sense of two very different lifestyles and how to make better diet and lifestyle choices

With the recent release of What the Health, aka “The Health Film That Health Organizations Don’t Want You To See,” healthy eating by way of veganism has experienced a rise in attention, specifically within certain social circles and demographics (Netflix is the primary viewing venue).

Friend groups and communities are atwitter over the science and positions explored in the film, and the conversations have incensed many due to the data revealed and what it means to their lifestyle choices or because of the confusion and frustration generated by trying to apply yet another batch of science and expert opinions to an already mixed bag of seemingly conflicting information in the world of health and wellness.

In this post, we explore two primary at-odds lifestyles and offer perspectives and guidance to empower you to follow the path that best suits you. 

First, What The Health!? and Veganism

Veganism, or the practice of eating only non-animal products, has, for years, been touted as a surefire way to lose weight, lower cholesterol and slow aging. In the Middle and Far East, for centuries, practicing veganism is common due to the moral, ethical, and spiritual pillar of the regions to “do no harm.”

Domestically, many celebrities, doctors and industrial leaders have emerged as vegans, and we, the viewing public, have observed the benefits of the vegan lifestyle as they unfolded in that individual’s life as documented through the lens of the camera, social media, USA Today, etc..

All indications point to veganism is The Way!

Here’s where it gets controversial.

Despite these incredible success stories that we’ve seen with our own eyes and the scientific findings cited by vocal vegans and What The Health, arguments that favor the veganism movement can be disproven by other science, research, medical and scientific journals and health experts.

Case in point, the ketogenic lifestyle.

Keto.

As we discussed earlier this month, is a diet globally recognized for centuries for its anti-aging, disease reversing, cancer preventing benefits (among other heroics). The foundation of the keto lifestyle includes a certain cadence of eating, which simulates fasting and subsequent benefits,  and a diet comprised of a high ratio of protein and fats and lower percentage of calories from carbohydrates than the Standard American Diet (SAD, an acronym that is both entertaining and accurate).

Modified keto, for example, may include a diet of 60-70% of calories derived from protein and fats (including saturated and unsaturated) with only 30% or less of calories derived from complex carbohydrates (i.e nothing processed and no sugar). Some keto’ers also shy away from grains, beans, soy, corn, etc., due to the high carbohydrate content and effect on blood sugar, which throws the individual out of a ketosis state, thus undoing the chemistry that yields the incredible benefits.

Protein and fat sources for many followers of the keto diet include animal products, yet, due to the individual’s unique metabolic make-up and how the individual metabolizes carbohydrates using insulin, many keto’ers base a large portion of the diet on plant-based eating, i.e. vegetable-heavy.

It’s Getting Hot in Here.

The conundrum we face are two very different diets, both of which tout health benefits. One is entirely animal-product free, and the other – in many cases – promotes the consumption of high-quality animal products.

You can see how these two dynamics are at odds with one another, and how the confusion and overwhelm accompanying the effort to make sense of them as a consumer can be significant!

Layer on top of any confusion the emotional charge we inject into our relationship with food and the deep ties to our identity that develop in relation to our food choices, lifestyle and the ethics, beliefs and mores therein, and you’ve got a hot button topic that triggers some internal moral dilemmas and very passionate discussions.

What’s Our Take?

As far as we’re concerned, any catalyst, be it a conversation, documentary, book, article, Ted Talk, etc. that activates an authentic, respectful conversation among communities and an inward assessment of one’s health, lifestyle and holistic wellness is a good thing.

Any proponent of a whole food, clean-eating, know-where-your-food-comes-from way of life? Also, a good thing.

Any wake-up call to ask deeper questions, fuel optimal wellness and make intentional, mindful choices? DEFINITELY a GREAT thing.

If you find yourself curious, or even enraged, by What The Health or Keto, and the science, ethics, or the arguments of each, then consider it your wake-up call.

Lean into this conversation vs. throwing in the towel. Casually explore various diets and lifestyles, and shift your mindset into thinking of it as a fun exploration. How you’ve eaten in the past may not be where you want to go in the future, and that doesn’t mean you’ve been fooled or failed! It means you now have different information you’re using to perhaps make different choices.

How to truly know what is best for YOU?

Some people’s constitution and metabolisms need higher levels of protein and fat and opt to include animal products as a manner to supplement those needs. Others have food allergies that preclude them from going all-in on a certain way of eating. Other people’s ethical beliefs trump all else, and they opt to forgo animal products or other food groups.

Every body is different, and therefore, every diet must be different, even if slightly, and that’s OK.

Select one of the diets or lifestyles that have caught your attention or that most closely aligns with you, and test it out for three to six months. Changes take time. Observe your energy levels, food cravings, blood work numbers, fit of your clothes, joint flexibility, mental clarity, emotional resilience and tolerance as indications that you’re on the right track or need to adjust your approach.

The Bottom Line

There is no one diet that – when followed identically across a population without some level of modification – is right for everyone.

Do what is best for you! Take what you can from the diets and lifestyles that you explore, apply them to yourself, observe the results over time and modify where needed. Speak kindly to yourself as you explore a new way of eating. Stay open to the experience and share what you observe with your friends and family; get them in on it, and support one another on your unique journeys to your best selves!

As always, we love hearing from you! Drop us a line to let us know which diet or lifestyle impassions you, how you found your way to better health and we’ll cheer you on! A rising tide lifts all ships, and our community is on the rise with you!

Wishing you a life of greens and grace and all the goodness!

Relief for Extreme Fatigue & Chronic Stress

woman with arms outstretched in front of ocean with waning sunset, feelings of freedom and relief

Extreme fatigue is no joke. In the simplest, crudest of terms, fatigue (or any dis-function) is caused by stress, and stress is stress. In other words, whether the stress is chemical, physical, or emotional, your body does not differentiate one type from the other. The stress response is triggered, and your physical health suffers. In this post, we’ll talk about the three main categories of stress and some health and lifestyle tips, tricks and techniques to combat stress – and the resulting fatigue – without turning to coffee to make it through your day!

Types of Stress Defined

Chemical stress includes exposure to toxins, whether that’s mold in the house, inhaling cleaning supplies, heavy metals in our water, or even consuming foods or drinks (or prescriptions) with chemicals that are disruptive.

Physical stress can include working longer hours than you can sustain over the long-haul without necessary breaks, spreading yourself too thinly, not getting enough rest or nutrition.

Emotional stress may be rooted in a dysfunctional work environment, toxic relationships or in a phase of reshaping your identity. It can also occur as a result of any uncertainty related to an important relationship or factor of your life (i.e. raising a teenager, diagnosis of a loved one, stress in a marriage, etc.).

It’s important to understand the ways stress can manifest in your life, so you can begin to identify them, then manage them accordingly to avoid long-term problems. Any combination of these stressors, particularly experienced over a long period of time, takes a BIG toll on your body.

Breaking the Cycle

The more tired you are, the lower the threshold you have for any stress. Your stores of mental, emotional and physical energy are depleted, and you cannot function. The less you can function optimally, the more stressed you’ll feel, which will further exhaust you, causing more stress. What a vicious cycle!

Here are a few tips that can help you manage extreme fatigue and chronic stress:
  1. BREATHE.
    Deep breathing is going to be your active stress management partner forevermore. It activates the relaxation nerve (vagus nerve) and gets the parasympathetic nervous system online, giving the sympathetic nervous system (the fight-or-flight response one) a break.
    When you’re feeling stressed, or you feel your blood pressure rising or your chest tightening, breathe. Focus on the area that is tight or otherwise talking to you, and breathe into that area. Mentally picture your breath flowing into that area. If you can close your eyes, and do this for 1-2 minutes, you’ll feel the difference.  Do this for 10-20 minutes a day, and you may accidentally develop a meditation practice. 🙂
  2. Take inventory.
    What are your stressors? List them.
    What can you let go of or delegate? Which items or activities can you postpone, avoid or say no to?
    What can you reframe in your mind to give you peace? Is there a belief, attitude or assumption that crops up in the moments you feel most stressed that would be in your best interest to change?
    Be aware of the underlying causes and take steps to change them.
  3. Tend to your stressors.
    What jumps out at you from the list that you feel most compelled to address? Trust your judgment as a guide to what to let go of, what to say no to, etc.
  4. Consider a few lifestyle changes.
    • Clean up your eating and upgrade your diet of processed, non-whole foods (i.e. soda, “diet” versions of food, crackers, candy, etc.) for better choices. Focus your grocery buying on the areas of the grocery store that are along the wall, i.e. produce section, fresh meats/cheese (go as cage-free, free range and organic as you can afford), etc. Minimize the amount of boxed or bagged foods you buy, particularly if the shelf-life is longer than two months. By fueling your body with better nutrients, you will allay some of the stress that might be caused by what you ingest while also giving your body the building blocks it needs to better combat the stress in other areas.
    • Cut back on sugar, caffeine and alcohol, which are counterproductive to reducing stress and anxiety.
    • Swap traditional cleaning and gardening supplies for better, non-toxic alternatives. Breathing in the fumes, vapors and chemicals in traditional cleaning products can contribute to auto-immune and allergic responses and hormone disruption.
    • Cultivate healthier relationships with friends and family who leave you feeling better when your time together is done. Speak up about your needs and allow loved ones to help you, even if that means cutting you some slack when you turn down invitations.
    • Find social or community outlets that allow you to learn new skills, like meditation, yoga, knitting, etc.
    • Talk to your doctor about critical nutrients you may be missing, like omega-3’s, B12, Magnesium, Vitamin D and Iron levels, all of which, when too low, lead to fatigue and brain fog.
      • Take a good quality multi-vitamin as a start, along with probiotics, which improve gut health. Mental stability and immune strength start in the gut; take care of it, and it will take care of you!
      • Look into adaptogenic herbs that help support the adrenal glands, like ashwaganda, holy basil, and rhodiola.
    • SLEEP! Good gracious, you need sleep more than ever, and it’s ok to go to bed early, say no to happy hours and take a nap on the weekends! Listen to your body and balance the need for social and community support with your need for rest.

The Main Takeaway for Fatigue & Stress Relief

Life can be stressful, and those stresses can take many shapes. Your individual tolerance for stress is unique to you, as are the ways to find relief. Take what you can from this list, apply it and tweak it as you learn what works. You are the most qualified to assess what you need.

One last thought: Avoid comparing yourself to others to determine what is “normal” or what you “should” be able to handle. Listen to your body and your instincts when you’re hitting a threshold. Ask for help, and be kind to yourself in your thoughts and activities.

If you don’t feel right after cleaning up your diet and lifestyle after a few months, see your doctor and ask him/her to offer more than medications to help you navigate this phase of fatigue.  Reach out to a health coach, who can help you translate any diagnosis into tangible, actionable steps, so you are stepping into optimal well-being without a slew of Rx’s.

Know someone who could use some stress relief? Share this post with them! We love our community and the knowledge you share with us. If you have a favorite stress tip, drop it into a comment below.

Wishing you a life filled with greens and grace … and peace in your mind and body!

Additional Reading:

Part One: How to Set New Year’s Resolutions and *Be Successful*! | Getting Clear on Your Resolution

Lighthouse with beacon of light shining across the sea
photo cred: dailyalts.com

New Year, New You! It’s that time again; a new year, a new beginning. A time of looking back and looking ahead. A time when we take stock of who we are today and what we hope to achieve, who we want to become in the coming year, then we set our resolutions to pave our way.

The process is energizing and motivating, full of promise, and opportunity! We have a clean slate! We feel inspired and activated and are confident we can achieve our goals! We can be this newer, better version of our already wonderful self! We can achieve these goals! …and then February or March hits, annnd we forget about that “old” Resolution because we’ve slipped into old, familiar patterns or found other outlets for our time and energy that seem a higher priority in that immediate moment. Before we know it, we have fallen off-track and vow to try again next year.

However… What if we don’t have to follow this pattern in 2017? What if we can be more successful? I believe we can.

In this two-part post, we’ll start with reframing how we set our Resolutions and then get into the How-To’s to stick with them for lasting results.

So, let’s get going!

First off, a new way of reframing resolutions.

Resolutions, first and foremost, are goals. Usually lofty goals that we set for ourselves in a variety of areas of our lives. Health, fitness, finance, family, career, spirituality. We sense a gap between who we are and who we want to be, that bourgeoning better version waiting to emerge, and we devise goals to help us bridge the gap.

Simply put, we:

  1. Feel like there’s something more (or something different) that we could be doing with our time, energy, skills and talents
  2. Believe the end result will be rewarding in some way (usually, at its core, we believe it will bring an emotional reward, a way to feel better)
  3. Set intentions to bring this end result to pass

While all of these are well and good to informing personal transformation and growth, a key step we often miss is a hearty and true understanding of why we want to pursue these goals (step 2). We must be deeply truthful with ourselves about our motivations. For instance, losing weight because your wife or doctor wants you to – as important as those factors are – won’t cut it when you bump up against years or decades of long-held habits and beliefs. Action and success are a result of desires and motivations that reside deep within you.

Naming these motivating factors is so important to personal growth and to sticking to your Resolution throughout the year and beyond to achieve lasting change. Naming these factors gives them meaning and signals to your brain and your being to align your choices and actions in an intentional way and to be purposeful with your time, energy, money, words, behaviors.

To honor your Resolution, your intention, for the next year – and beyond! – you must be intentional, and to do so, the motivation behind that intention has to be strong enough to catapult you through and beyond any challenge that might stand in your way, which is why the motivation has to come from deep within you.

This step of naming is the most important of all the How To’s, so take a pause and spend a moment with yourself to get clear on why you’re setting this Resolution for yourself. Write down your Resolution and the Why’s behind it. Studies show that simply writing down your goal gives you a 42% better chance of achieving them! If you take away nothing else from this post, just write down your goal! You don’t have to share it with anyone or post it online; it is for you. Simply write it down for yourself.

As you’ll see in Part Two, writing down your goal will play into other Tips and Tricks for staying on the wagon.

For now, take a pause on New Year’s Eve and write yourself a note. Include your Resolution and why it is important to you to stay on track and be successful. Why does it matter to you?

In Part Two, the six How To’s of sticking to your Resolution are laid out. Once you’re clear on your intention, the supporting structure of these six steps will keep you on track throughout 2017 and beyond!

As always, we love your feedback and thoughts, so leave us a comment below!

May 2017 be your best, brightest, healthiest, and most successful year yet!

Motivation for Your Monday: Just Dance

photo (5)
photo cred: Danskin

As a matter of fact, yes, I am!

We all have challenges; whether a big struggle or a little one, a long-lasting time of trial or a temporary hiccup, the struggle is real.

Even when things are going well, we can worry that the other shoe will fall, and carrying that worry and anxiety can be really heavy! Why did this happen? What did I do to make this happen? What should I do differently next time? What if…? 

To carry that weight is a drain on our spirit, not to mention simply exhausting, and it takes our attention away from the goodies in life. Regardless of the burden you bear, positive people and blessings surround you, and getting bogged down in your woes deprives you of the joy of experiencing such things. There is relief to be found in the good stuff, the important stuff that makes life worth it! The people, experiences, pets, pictures, moments that make you happy!

What if, just for today, just for an hour, or maybe just in this moment, you let go of that load.

Let go of  the worry. Take a breath and just be present in the moment. Rent the space in your head to other things, things that are going well, things that make you smile.

Cue up some of your favorite songs and just dance. Be silly! Shake your groove thing. Sing at the top of your lungs. Give yourself a mini-vacation!

The worry will wait for you if you want to pick it back up later, but for now, just dance.

xo!

Motivation for Your Monday: The Average

Jim Rohn You-are-the-average-of-the-five-people-you-spend-the-most-time-with.

Within the past week, this quote has crossed my path twice, which means… dum-da-dum! Today’s Motivation for Your Monday!

Jim Rohn, a renowned business person, expressed this notion in the context of business; a leader is defined, in part, by those with whom he spends the majority of his time. Simple, yet eloquent.

If, while aiming to take his/her business public and traded on the NY Stock Exchange, an individual’s team is comprised of a finance guy with no calculator, a marketer with no market pulse, a PR guy who doesn’t speak English, a procurement guy who can’t negotiate and a lawyer whose specialization is family law, how successful will that individual be? She or he won’t necessarily be doomed, but the challenges to success will certainly be more prominent.

Now think of a teenager in this same context. A bit of a trite example, but easy to follow. If a teenager “falls into the wrong crowd” at school, the likelihood of that kid making less-than-stellar choices is higher than the kid who doesn’t.

Now take a moment to think about yourself.

Mull over the personal goals you’ve set for yourself, such as losing weight, getting out of debt, improving your self-worth, learning something new, etc.

If, in the journey of working towards these goals, you surround yourself by nay-sayers, pessimists, or other individuals who do not value, nor support, these types of “must’s” as you do, how will this impact your rate of success? Sure, you can certainly overcome the odds! Absolutely, no doubt about it. But it seems that more stumbling blocks would be created along the way by surrounding oneself with people who tend towards more of a culture of negativity, complacency, etc.

Changing your behavior and your life are hard enough. Set yourself up for success!

Take stock of the people with whom you spend the most time.

Do they value and embody the ambition and priorities that you are working towards? It’s not so easy as to slice and dice your entire tribe, particularly if you’ve been friends with many of them for years, or they’re your own family. That’s ok. You don’t have to.

Look at other avenues for you to spend time with people who do embody those traits you want to emulate. Take advantage of opportunities to spend time with them or mix them into your group.

You’ll bring up the group average while also exposing new ideas to old friends and setting yourself up for success.

Win, win!

walk-with-the-dreamers
Photo Cred: thedreamsintoplanproject.wordpress.com

Friday Faves

Blame it on the full moon, but this week presented me with some pretty larger-than-life aha! moments. Physical, spiritual and emotional doozies. Despite teetering on a cliche, let’s just all nod when I say “life has a way of showing us what we need to learn.” Through the (sometimes cracked) lens of gratitude, I tried to take it all with grace, perspective and kindness towards myself (one of the biggest challenges of all!). Here’s to hoping each of us face every day with a “bring it on!” attitude and an unfaltering faith that we can handle whatever comes! (Spoiler alert: we can 🙂 )

Hope you had a wonderful week and are treating yourselves to a simply fabulous weekend! xo!

Epidural
The Wake-Up Call, a.k.a The Infamous Epidural

I had an epidural this week, which is a more aggressive treatment for the nerve pain that, quite honestly, I’ve grown a bit bored with and am ready to have to move on. The pressure, pain and discomfort of the actual procedure itself, though less stellar than a gluten free molten lava cake obviously, was virtually nothing compared to the fear I had of the procedure itself. The heart palpitations, shortness of breath, and whole-body freak-out was just out-of-control; positive self-talk, attention on my breath and mantra recitations be damned. They weren’t helping a bit. Once a pretty fearless “bring it on, gimme whatever you got” girl, I have noticed that although experience has “wizened me” to the potential pains and disappointments life can hold, I’ve really let fear play too much of a lead role in my life. I’ve read (and observed with clients & myself) that our fears are protection mechanisms, but I have decided that I can protect myself well enough, thank you very much, and this so-called “frenemy” can take a hike! Enough already! Needless to say, I am so thankful for finally getting this message loud and clear and, as such, had to give it top billing in my favorite things of the week!

Friends
#wearefun

Celebrating the sparkling, bubbly fantasticness of each other’s lives and successes, showing up to share the moments that just plain stink, and lending shoulders and backs when you just can’t do it on your own, our Tribes get us through life. They are our family, our biggest cheerleaders, our tough-love disher outers. I so appreciated the love and support of these girls (and others with whom I didn’t take any pictures 🙂 ) throughout the week!

Gluten Free
No really, a sign from Heaven!

Finding this sign in the airport quite literally made me stop in my tracks! One of my favorite pre-GF bagel shops EVER is now schlepping gluten free goodies!? WHAT? I perused their special section and was pleased to see Udi’s GF muffins and salads sans croutons. I can hardly wait until they have authentic-ish NY bagels for us gluten-free carb queens. Even more of a pleasant surprise, having stopped and shopped here, I ended up sitting in the cafe’s vicinity, which gave me the unique privilege of having a birds’ eye view of the foot traffic, making it easier-than-ever to spot a dear friend with whom I hadn’t connected in far too long! It was simply kismet.

 —

Snuggling Pups
Snuggle Buddies

Just as spending time with our human compadres soothes one’s soul, so does snuggling with sweet animal friends, like these two: Parker & Lilly. They’ve been giving me a little more attention lately, and I can only assume they just know I need it. So fortunate to have found these little creatures and very thankful for their gentle animal nature this week!

Baby Elephant
How can you NOT smile looking at this guy?

This adorable little guy found his way into my Instagram feed, and I could not have been happier about his apropos appearance! Simple joy and love embodied in a baby elephant. I don’t think this one needs any other explanation 🙂

Backsliding to Benadryl: Coping with a Surprise Reaction

Benadryl, anaphylactic, allergies, food allergies, kids with food allergies

Just when you think you have it all under control, life throws you a curve ball.

My recent zinger really threw me for a loop. On a recent trip to Connecticut, I was just delighted to belatedly celebrate  my birthday with a soul sister at an exquisite local farm-to-table restaurant; however, my enthusiasm overshadowed my good judgment when I either A) disregarded my instinct to have the crushed pumpkin seeds left off of the mouth-watering sea trout dish I could hardly wait to try, or B) took a bite of chocolate garnishing the chocolate peanut butter gelato. Ugh, just when I thought I was done having reactions, this mysterious menace left my face a hot, inflamed tomato. Why this oh-so-delightful new face pigment couldn’t have found a home in only my legs, so that I could have easily concealed it with pants or a cute maxi is beyond me!

allergic reaction, nuts, sensitivities, food allergy, kids with food allergies, what it feels like to have an allergic reaction
Did these seemingly innocent, yet suspicious seeds leave me looking like an open pomegranate?

 

chocolate peanut butter, Community Table, farm to table, connecticut, south kent, gluten free on the go, nut allergy
…Or was this decadence to blame?

Sigh.

After all these years of learning the in’s and outs, of formally studying coping and avoidance techniques in a slew of various situations, of  finally feeling like I had a grasp on this nonsense, I thought I had my reactions all figured out! Oof, how much I am still learning!

It was a truly humbling experience to not only been knocked off my safe buoy in the sea of anaphylactic up’s and down’s, but in such a visibly & unattractive manner. I truly felt like the Hunchback of Notre Dame! (So much so that I insisted we not take any pictures to document the flare-up… sorry, guys, but no visuals of the “incident.”)

Backsliding to Benadryl is bound to happen. Almost like a metaphor for life, we will inevitably be caught off guard. From time to time, we will find ourselves physically compromised and feel vulnerable as a result.

A few important things to remember:

    • ALWAYS be prepared
      Carry Benadryl, an epipen, a snack bar, whatever you need to carry to keep your personal anti-allergy arsenal fully stocked. Think ahead, plan ahead, and pack your purse.

      Cope, benadryl, anaphylactic, nuts, allergies, food allergies
      Sisterly support definitely helped me cope!
    • Make sure those around you know your triggers and will support you
      Thankfully, my dinner date has known me my whole life and has been there for previous reactions. She recognized the symptoms and was sensitive to how I needed to handle. She kept an eye on me and asked me throughout the evening if I was doing ok and if I needed anything. That kind of support helped me stay calm and feel comforted – a HUGE help in the throes of backsliding.
    • Don’t beat yourself up
      It was hard for me to quiet the gut response, “I should have known better.” Eh, shoulda, coulda, woulda as they say. I did the best I could with the situation, thinking all was safe on the plate, and yes, I made a mistake, but I handled the unfortunate consequence effectively because I had packed my trusty antihistamines. Next time, I’ll know. Speak kindly to yourself as you care for yourself in the recovery of any reaction. The chemicals and adrenaline are pumping to help you survive, and the last thing your physical body needs is introducing the stress hormones that result when we beat ourselves up.
    • Give yourself time to bounce back
      Again, the chemical response that ensues after your body combats the histamine response has physical and emotional effects that last beyond that 2-20 minute reaction time. Take it easy the next couple of hours or days. Listen to what your body needs and honor those messages. If we don’t take care of our bodies, where will we live? Check in with yourself and take care of you.

Here’s to fewer Benadryl-Epinephrine aperitifs!