Tag Archives: clean eating

5 Steps to Getting Your Mojo Back. Adrenal Fatigue – Part 2

Now that I’ve made you completely depressed with how pervasive adrenal fatigue can be in Part 1 of this post, it is time for the good news: repairing your adrenal function is totally possible!  Better yet – you can be in complete control. Below are some of the best tips I have for restoring your energy and vitality, naturally.

 

Bring on the Happy. Ditch the Downers.

I love the first advice given by Dr. James L, Wilson, N.D., D.C., PhD, in his book, Adrenal Fatigue: The 21st Century Stress Syndrome. He recommends making a comprehensive list of all things that both enhance your life as well as drain your energy. I did it myself and found it eye opening and quite liberating. I suggest really getting down in the weeds for optimal effectiveness. Good things in your life could be exercise, time with friends and family, meditation or getting outdoors. Negative things could be anything from devouring that weekly chili cheese dog, tolerating a Debbie Downer colleague, spending time in depressing physical environments or just general negative thinking. Be honest with yourself and don’t idealize what you think should be good or bad for you. Once you have your list, be creative in finding ways to add more happy and ditch the downers in your everyday routine.

Get some strategic shut eye.

Quite possibly the most important factor in the road to recovery is not only getting enough sleep, but getting it during the most restorative hours to sync with your circadian rhythm (a 24 hour cycle of varying hormone secretion):

  • Be asleep by 11pm (before you get that second wind that keeps you up all night).
  • Whenever possible, sleep until 8:30 or 9:00 in the morning. The most restorative hours of sleep are between 7-9am providing much needed rest for your adrenals and a corresponding rise in cortisol levels.  This may seem self-indulgent, but don’t feel guilty. Your well-being is at stake here.
  • Ensure a good nights sleep:
    • Have a balanced snack of protein, carbs and healthy fats before bed to counteract any hypoglycemic episodes in the wee hours of the morning. Almond butter spread on some apple slices or layered on a Just Crust Mini are good options.
  • Lying down (without sleeping) for 15-30 minutes during the day is also very beneficial. Sprawl out in your office if you have to.

Get your sweat on.

Exercise normalizes cortisol, insulin, blood glucose, growth hormones and floods your fuzzy brain with much needed oxygen. Just make sure it’s not too strenuous – we’re not talking training for an olympic triathlon. A brisk walk, yoga, or getting your groove on will do the trick, just aim for at least 30 minutes/day. And don’t discount a little time under the sheets. It counts as exercise and can even improve your moods and immune system. Wink Wink.

Clean. Up. Your. Diet.

According to Wilson, “By the time your body is in adrenal fatigue, your cells have used up much of your body’s stored nutrients and are in desperate need of new supplies just to continue to function, let alone heal…..they are lacking the essential nutrients they need to meet the increased demands their cells experience under stress. In many cases of adrenal fatigue, poor diet is one of its main causes.” So in addition to following my Clean Eating guidelines –consuming lots of veggies, whole grains, essential fatty acids and avoiding refined sugar and foods you have sensitivities to – integrate the tips below to bring your adrenals back to life.

Balance Blood Sugar:

Eat every 2 hours being sure to get adequate protein, essential fatty acids and good quality (e.g. whole grain) carbohydrates. And avoid alcohol, which is more refined than white sugar.

Avoid caffeine and other stimulants:

When you consume coffee, sodas, chocolate, energy drinks or sugary and fatty processed foods, you temporarily drive your already taxed adrenal glands, further depleting their reserves. This also results in spikes and lows in your blood sugar, causing you to be drained at the end of the day. This, in turn, stimulates you to crave and consume more of this poison. It’s a vicious cycle the can not only affect every system in your body, but also causes weight gain (especially around the middle). And in the case of chocolate, in addition to caffeine, it contains theobrine – a caffeine like substance that over stimulates the adrenals leading to further fatigue.

Eat at strategic meal times:

Eat SOMETHING by 10am, eat lunch before noon, and get a good snack between 2-3pm (to combat that cortisol level dip between 3 and 4pm). Eat dinner around 5 or 6pm and have a high quality snack at bedtime (this will help you sleep soundly, avoiding low blood sugar, anxiety attacks, and make it easier to wake in the morning).

Stop Dissin’ Salt.

Contrary to popular belief, salt isn’t always bad for you. There is a widespread myth that salt causes high blood pressure; however, only about 15% of the population is salt-sensitive. The majority of people with normal blood pressure do not have a rise in blood pressure with moderate salt intake. And besides, most people with adrenal deficiency have low blood pressure, so stop hating! Salt can actually regulate blood pressure to within normal range. But be sure you’re choosing sea salt over regular table salt, which retains the much needed trace minerals and are void of the nasty chemical additives used in the processing.  An even better choice is to mix your sea salt with kelp to also get some iodine. Conversely, watch your potassium intake, avoiding high potassium foods such as bananas and dried figs.

Other helpful diet tips:

  • Get enough cholesterol in the form of nuts seeds and oils.
  • Be calm when eating. Deep breathe. Chew thoroughly (30+ times per mouthful) to release digestive enzymes from your saliva. 60-100 times if you have diabetes or digestive issues.
  • Eat higher protein, lower carbohydrate meals if dealing with severe adrenal fatigue.
  • Enjoy Green, Bancha, Twig or Kukicha Tea for antioxidants
  • Make sure your consuming clean eater. Best to have a water purification system installed on our tap.

Supplementation

I won’t get into specific recommendations (lawsuits are not conducive to sustaining small  businesses), but below are a variety of supplements that could be beneficial depending on your specific situation.

  • B-Vitamins
  • Vitamin C with pantothentic Acid
  • Vitamin E- mixed tocopherols
  • Magnesium Citrate (especially for PMS symptoms)
  • Calcium Citrate
  • Licorice root
  • Ashwagandha
  • Siberian ginseng
  • Ginger
  • Ginkgo

A Closing Note on Testing

For all of you who love to self-diagnose, there are multiple tests you can perform at home if you suspect you have some level of adrenal deficiency, including:  the Iris Contraction Test, checking for postural hypotension, and the Sergent’s White Line. However, your best bet is to see a progressive endocrinologist, holistic physician or naturopathic doctor to set you straight on a diagnosis and get you started on the best treatment plan. They will likely perform a saliva test to measure the hormone levels for signs of non-Addison’s adrenal deficiency, which is considered alternative. Most likely, a Medical Doctor will not be familiar with the saliva test (and could even dismiss it since it is considered “Alternative”). However, the Saliva test is the best single lab test available for detecting adrenal fatigue because it is looking at hormones in the cells (where the hormone reactions take place).

A Clean Eating Starter Guide

2011 - A New YearThe start of a new year is a great time for wiping the slate — and your diet —  clean. So if you’ve fallen off the wagon (or have never even managed to climb on) I have some great, practical tips and product recommendations that will make eating clean and gluten-free a snap.

 

Eating Clean Defined

Before we get into the details of my “starter package” of sorts , let’s first chat about what  it even means to “eat clean”.  It’s become quite the go-to term these days for everything relating to healthy eating. Google “eating clean” or “clean diet” and you can probably find 100 different definitions, but here’s how I break it down in its simplest terms: be most concerned with the QUALITY of the food you eat. This is a paradigm shift from the calorie and fat gram counting methodologies we’re commonly inundated with, but adopting this focus pays much bigger, long-term dividends to your waistline and overall wellness.

It involves enjoying foods that are:

1) without common allergens (e.g. gluten/wheat, dairy, corn, soy, yeast, peanuts, refined sugar). Most people don’t even realize they have sensitivities to such foods because symptoms can be so elusive. But regularly consuming foods  that your body reacts to, even slightly, can put you in a constant state of inflammation. And inflammation is at the the root of many chronic conditions.

2) without artificial preservatives, pesticides, antibiotics, hormones or genetically modified organisms (GMO’s). This subject deserves a blog post (or 10) to itself, but the net net is that regularly ingesting such various toxins causes  free-radical damage (read: premature aging of cells), hampers the immune system, can be carcinogenic, and prevents weight loss.

3) nutrient dense. think organic bright-colored fruits and veggies, whole grains and unsaturated oils that provide critical vitamins, trace minerals, fiber and inflammation-fighting essential fatty acids.

Optimally all foods would be local and and completely unprocessed, but like most of you, I’m a girl on the go and can only do what I can do. So, if there’s a great, respectable company out there whose already done the work for me, I’m gonna take advantage. Afterall, that’s how Clean Cravings was born, and we make good stuff. I’m a little biased of course, but I speak the truth.

Taking Action.

So here you go — some of my best advice and product recommendations to to get you off to a Clean Start.

1. Be Prepared. I can’t emphasize this enough.  When you’re on the go with temptation around every corner and an unfortunate, extreme lack of healthful convenient foods, having appropriate replacements at the ready is critical to avoid slip ups and feelings of deprivation.  Do whatever you need to do – get a cooler for the car or the office, make extra food on the weekends to take during the week, get new equipment required to quickly whip up your favorite dishes, etc – a little prep up front will pay off big time down the road.

2. Educate yourself. I’ll be addressing many of these issues here in the future, but here are some great sources to get started if you are not yet familiar with these topics: gluten-free food guide from NFCA,  dairy-free guides from godairyfree.org, non-gmo information and guidelines from the Non-GMO project, organic food guide from the Environmental Working Group. I’m also a huge fan of the straight shooting and well-referenced books: The Omnivores Dilemma by Michael Pollan and Skinny Bitch for a great introduction to the disturbing situation of our overall food supply and commercialized food industry. I also highly recommend using the services of a Registered Dietitian or Nutritionist to guide you.

3. Once you’re knowledgeable on what you’re not suppose to eat, you need to find your clean substitutes. Here is a partial list of some of my favorite products and brands that have helped me make the transition.  NOTE: I have no relationships of any kind with the outside companies/products I recommend —  just lucky peeps I’ve found on my 3 year scavenger hunt for the best products that make the clean-eating lifestyle as simple and tasty as possible.

  • Almond Milk (or hemp or coconut milk)  to replace regular cow’s milk in ANYTHING.  This former dairy loving girl can’t live without it.
  • Clean Cravings Just Crust products. I’m biased, obviously, but honestly I haven’t found a better tasting, cleaner gluten-free bread product. And the Just Crust Minis are so versatile – keep them whole for mini pizzas, breakfast muffin, sandwiches, etc. or cut into 4’s for the perfect pita replacement. Small enough to fit in a regular toaster slot — the whole family uses them for everything. My fave is the rosemary flavor. Plus, they’re made with whole grains, vegan, use organic ingredients and have no common allergens.
  • Brown Rice Tortillas. A little tough for burritos, but perfect for making your own corn-free tortilla chips. Fold into 4’s and pop in the toaster. For extra flavor,  spread with olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt before (and use regular or toaster oven). Even better, top with beans, avocado, sliced tomatoes and salsa for the perfect clean nachos.
  • Organic, wheat-free tamari. As ridiculous as it is, regular soy sauce has gluten in it. This identical tasting alternative contains soy, but because its organic its non-GMO. San-J even has individual packets you can buy that can easily be whipped out of your purse or wallet when you dive into that salmon sashimi or California role (made with real crab, of course – imitation crab also has gluten). Its also sold in regular glass bottles in any health food store.
  • Mary’s Gone Crackers original seed crackers and pretzel twists. Very tasty with a great crunch, high in fiber and quality ingredients (whole grain brown, flaxseed, quinoa). The Pretzel Twists are great for kids.
  • Amazing Grass GREENSuperFood drink powder. Made with raw, organic greens & super foods + probiotics, enzymes and essential fatty acids, this is one stop shopping for your immune & digestive system support. Best of all, it doesn’t have that typical grassy taste of many green drinks and whips up in seconds with almond milk and a hand mixer.
  • Larabars. The simplest bars you can find on the shelf. Dozens of flavors and made with very simple ingredients – primarily nuts and dried fruit.
  • Redbridge Beer. Made with sorghum instead of barley, this won’t disappoint light beer fans. I fancied Amstel Light in my gluten-eating past, and this is a close replacement. There are plenty of other gluten-free substitutes for darker beers, but I’m not yet up on those. Any takers on a taste-panel party?
  • Teecino herbal coffee alternative + So Delicious Coconut Milk Creamer. Drinking daily since high school, one of my biggest hurdles was giving up coffee. But but I’m happy to report, I have been successful in kicking the habit. For those days I’m really jonesing for the whole coffee experience, I use this coffee flavored, all natural beverage and sweeten it up with the coconut based creamers (various flavors available, my fave is French Vanilla) . If you can’t yet fathom kicking the coffee habit, at least switch to a low-acid, organic version — check the aisles at your local natural food retailer.
  • Zevia Soda. My biggest, and most shameful habit that remains toughest to kick is diet soda. Its gross, there’s no way around it. But despite my deep knowledge of the harmful ingredients it’s made with, it has some type of crack-like grip on me. I have recently found the all-natural, stevia sweetened Zevia soda (various flavors, including my new fave, “Dr Zevia”). While I’m a huge proponent of primarily drinking water, this is great to have on hand for those critical, about to cross the dark-side situations. I just brought a six-pack to a Sunday Football BBQ and stuck one in my purse yesterday when I went to lunch.

4. Relish the naturally clean foods you can indulge in. When first switching over to a completely clean diet, I discovered foods I had either inadvertently forgotten about or purposely limited because of my former, incorrect concerns over calories and fat grams. For example, baked or mashed yams/sweet potatoes with a bit of vegan butter  are delish and more than satisfy those starchy & sweet cravings. And don’t forget about sweet potato fries (baked, not fried of course)! They beat the flavor of any fast-food fries out there (yes, even the fries at In-n-Out). And then there’s avocados. Whenever I miss cheese (especially with Mexican Food), I just pile on extra avocado and smile. I could kick myself for restricting my avocado intake all these years — what was I thinking?  Also think indulging in nuts and nut butters (raw is best, dry roasted as an alternate) and unsaturated oils like olive, flax, safflower. Let go of the calorie and fat gram counter and let yourself start enjoying these foods again. Because your body will actually recognize these foods (and because they are high in fiber and essential fatty acids), they’ll be so much more fulfilling than that bag of Baked! Doritos. Your sense of satiety will kick in for intrinsic portion control.

Top 10 Tips for Gluten-Free, Vegan Holiday Baking

While my Holiday spirit has waned a bit with this 80 degree weather we’re experiencing in Cali, the thought of baking and decorating cookies with Jordan (my 3-year old, eager helper) paired with a little “Last Christmas” by Wham! is keeping me on track.

My preparations are now underway to heat it up in the kitchen later in the week once the temp falls, so I thought it would be the perfect time to share my top tips for clean holiday baking. For those of you who thought eating clean would mean missing out on your favorite goodies and holiday traditions, think again.

So here goes — my Top 10 products and tips that meet my stringent and overriding criteria: clean. easy. delicious.

First, lets start with the staples to stock up on that can be exchanged for allergy-unfriendly ingredients in just about in any recipe.

1. Lankato Sugar. When I discovered this through a mother of a child with Autism, I knew my sweet tooth dreams had been answered. It is the closest natural sweetener to sugar EVER in terms of its taste and its versatility … but NOT in terms of the risks it poses to your health. Zero calories, zero glycemic index AND zero additives. But, best of all it has the flavor and texture of real turbinado sugar. None of the bitter taste you get from Stevia. Admittedly pricey, but worth every penny.  You can read more and purchase here. The only retail store I’ve seen it at is Erewhon next to The Grove in Los Angeles.

2. Sorghum Flour. Found at most natural food stores with all the other baking flours.  I’ve had success substituting this straight across whenever any type of wheat or other gluten-containing flour is called for in baking. Provides a great texture and lift.

3. Earth Balance Vegan Buttery Sticks.Full disclosure – it contains soy, which I’m lucky enough to tolerate in small amounts (although I avoid as much as possible,especially when its not organic). However, they work JUST like  regular butter sticks — complete with those little TBSP markers and other helpful metrics which I can never keep straight.

4. Nut, Hemp, Coconut or Rice Milk. Perfect 1:1 substitutes whenever regular milk is called for. I rarely stray from my trusted non-sweetened vanilla almond milk but I’m going to start venturing out with hemp and coconut milk for added protein and nutrients. I’ve found rice milk to have a more watery consistency, but in the small amounts usually called for in baking I’m sure it would work fine.

5. Gluten-Free Oats. While oats themselves are gluten-free, they are typically processed alongside wheat, precluding them from being labeled gluten-free because of the cross-contamination. However, there are now vendors who are getting oats processed alone so that they are officially gluten-free. Again, can be found at any natural food store. Should be either with regular oats or in a special gluten-free section.

6. Allergen-Free Chocolate Chips. Enjoy Life Foods makes a dairy, gluten, corn, egg, soy and nut-free chocolate chip. Perfect for fudge, brownies or cookies. A staple to keep on hand all year.

7. Natural Expeller-Pressed Safflower Oil. This is my oil of choice whenever a baking recipe calls for vegetable oil. Besides having a great flavor, it contains the highest source of polyunsaturated fats than any other type of vegetable oil and contains other essential nutrients such as omega-6 fatty acids and Vitamin E. The “expeller-pressed” refers to being natural processed vs. being chemically processed and depleting its nutrient content.

8. Organic Maple Syrup. A tasty natural sweetener that is commonly called for in the recipe book I detail below. Also great to have on hand for gluten-free pancakes and waffles.

And for those of you that are not so creatively inclined in adapting existing recipes….

9. “Simple Treats” Recipe Book by Ellen Abraham. In all honesty – I haven’t done a recent, exhaustive search on baking recipe books. However, I found this early on in my clean crusade and have tried many of these recipes and not-a-one has let me down, so I haven’t found the need to purchase another.  All recipes are wheat & dairy-free and very straightforward. The most complex it gets is putting your oats in a food processor to prepare a flour consistency. But even with that step, I can still bust out the mixes in under 15 minutes. And as ironic as it is, this founder of a food company is not a natural whiz in the kitchen. My favorites include the Almond Butter and Chocolate Walnut Brownie Cookies. My only note is to use the Lankato Sugar and Sorghum Flour to substitute the sugar and Barley flour, respectively. I found it on Amazon.

10. Clean Baking Mixes. Lets face it, with all the chaos of the holiday season (or any season for that matter), time seems to dwindle away from us all. Sometimes a short cut is just necessary. In a crunch, I default to my fave line of baking mixes– Cherrybrook Farms. I’ve used various flavors of cake and frosting mixes and have been able to fool the biggest gluten-free skeptics with the taste and texture. All the mixes I’ve used are wheat, dairy, soy and corn-free (just picked up the Sugar Cookie mix last week) and can be kept clean by using your nut or hemp milk and vegan buttery sticks for the required milk and margarine additions.  Some mixes do contain sugar (ironically, the “sugar cookies” don’t) but relative to the other gluten-free mixes available [not mentioning any national brand names that have tried to capitalize on the gluten-free market, but produce allergen and preservative laden crap] this is still a great option. They also have a pre-mixed frosting now – a good time saver, but noticed that it contains cornstarch and corn syrup (the mix does not). I’ll let you weigh the cost-benefit on that one depending on your specific situation.

Wishing you all a sweet, delectable holiday season!

p.s. Please share your tips and ideas for other clean baking ideas – just post a comment below to share with us all.

Jordan making cookies

my sugar plum fairy in action