Stressed? Try These Two Breathing Techniques {I Was Doing Them Backwards….!}

Merry Christmas Eve!

In all of the holiday hustle & bustle, I imagine a few of us are feeling a LITTLE bit of stress right now.  (I know I am!).  I’m sure you’ve heard a bazillion times that you should BREATHE when you’re stressed.  (Guess what my One Word is for 2016?  And is it wrong to have more than one One Word? :) )

But did you know that if you’re doing it the wrong way, you could actually be causing yourself more problems?  I was hanging out at the library with the kiddos yesterday, and I ran into a friend who is a yoga instructor.  We were talking about breathing techniques, and she taught me a few things.

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{Photo credit}

Technique #1:

First of all, sit back in your chair (or lay on the floor), put your hands on your belly and take a deep breath in, and then exhale it out.

Does your belly go in or out when you breathe in?  What about when you breathe out?

Here’s the wrong way:

When I breathe in, my belly sucks in.  When I breathe out, it puffs up.  This is called reverse-breathing.

My friend told me to imagine that your belly is a balloon.  When you inhale, the balloon fills up.  When you exhale, it deflates.

Were you doing it the right way?  Or the reverse way?  From what I understand, a large number of people are reverse-breathers!

Technique #2:

When you’re stressed, you know you’re supposed to take deep, cleansing breaths.  My yoga-friend told me that people who inhale deeply through their mouths are actually overloading their system – which is the opposite of what we want, of course.

Make sure that you are inhaling through your nose.  According to her, you can exhale through either your mouth or your nose.
Happy holidays to you and yours, and remember to BREATHE!  :)

 

 

 

 

Another Easy Alternative for People Who Can’t Swallow Pills

The other day I talked about how help my red-dye sensitive kiddo who can’t swallow pills take an antibiotic.   We had a few issues with the amount of smoothie and trying to get it so that:

1.)  he didn’t taste the bitterness of the pill

2.) he didn’t have SO much liquid to drink that he got too full or refused to finish the hidden medicine.

I soon realized that I needed another alternative in my parenting arsenal, so I made him a pudding with similar ingredients.

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We use this whole food smoothie mix that the company that I work for makes because it’s plant-based, delicious, and it’s safe for kids.  (It’s also gluten-free and dairy-free).

  • 1/3 – 1/2 scoop Complete+ smoothie mix
  • pill crushed to a fine powder (certain pills are not supposed to be crushed, so double check)
  • Almond milk (for best results, choose one that that doesn’t have carageenen in the ingredients) or other plant milk

I just used a small amount of smoothie mix because I wanted to be sure that my kiddo ate the entire amount without getting too full to finish it.

Just add the crushed pill, and enough plant milk to get the texture that you prefer and stir.   Sometimes I have to keep adding more shake mix and then more milk because I don’t estimate it correctly.

I hope that helps!

 

When the Kiddos Have Trouble Swallowing a Pill….

We try our best to eat healthy, and to give our kiddos the best nutrition that we can.  Sometimes, despite our best efforts, the kiddos get sick & need to take an antibiotic.

My oldest is VERY sensitive to red dyes (it shows up BIG time in his behavior, and it is not pretty!), so we have to ask for a pill instead of the liquid.  He also has a very sensitive gag reflex that prevents him from swallowing any kind of pill, so we have to crush it up for him.

In the past, I’ve tried mixing the crushed pill into applesauce, but it didn’t effectively mask the bitter taste of the pill for him.  Fortunately, the Complete+ smoothies that we love are delicious enough to mas the taste.  The fact that it’s healthy is a mega-bonus!

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If you’d like to find out more about these fantastic smoothies, you can find them on my distributor website, here.

 

The First Day of Baseball and a Too-Loose Tooth….

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Last weekend was the boy’s first baseball game….and he had a tooth that was *SO* loose that he wasn’t able to eat anything.  It was ready-but-not-ready to come out, despite his attempts to wiggle it the whole day!

Understandably, he was having a hunger meltdown ~ once when we were on our way out the door for team photos and again when we were leaving for the game. (he did eat a little bit, but he he was too uncomfortable to enjoy his food).

What’s a mom to do, right?  I wanted him to be able to concentrate for the baseball game and have energy, but I didn’t want to load him up with anything junkie.  Oh, and it HAD to fill his belly and be quick (we were on our way out the door, remember).

Fortunately, we had some plant-based shake powder that is actually safe for kiddos to eat.  I mixed some chocolate powder with about a cup of water and some peanut butter for both breakfast and lunch ~ phew!

Fortunately his tooth came out that night BEFORE dinner and he was able to eat again!

We had a late (after-school) game tonight and I fed my boy before the game, but of course he was STARVING afterwards.  It was already waaaay past his bedtime by the time we got home, and we still needed him to take a quick shower before bed.  Once again, the shakes came to the rescue!

(Note to self: don’t add blueberries into the Vanilla smoothie for the over-tired picky eater that abhors chocolate….she’ll convince herself that the blueberry pieces are signs that I used the chocolate powder and will refuse to eat it….argh!)

 

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Small Progress That Makes My Momma Heart So Happy

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I may have mentioned once or twice that I have the World’s Pickiest Eater.  The WORLD’S.

We have always struggled with getting her to eat veggies, and almost as often struggled to get her to eat fruits.

Since starting her on a daily whole food supplement in the form of gummies, she has started to slowly, slowly branch out and eat fruits and veggies.

So when this girl asked to eat an apple the other day, my heart just about wanted to burst.

{in the spirit of full disclosure, the rest of it went to the dog shortly after this photo was taken}

But hey, it’s a start.  And while we’re taking teeny tiny baby steps toward eating healthier foods, at least I know that she’s getting 30 different fruits, veggies, berries and grains into her body on a daily basis.

And that brings peace of mind to this momma heart, because I feel like I’m finally doing something right with her diet!

Do you have picky eaters?  What are some ways that you get them to eat different foods?  {and is it a texture thing for them?}

How #OneSimpleChange Can Have a Huge Impact On Your Health

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Do you feel sluggish?  Fatigued?  Headache-y? Do you or a family member seem to get sick all of the time?

 

One thing that has been valuable to us is the realization that you don’t necessarily need to try to change everything about your diet or your lifestyle all at once.

We’ve been on our health journey for close to two years now,  and our impetus for change was our kids.  We were having major behavioral issues, and my son constantly was sick with what we thought were seasonal allergies.

Our “one simple change” was to start reading food labels and cut out anything that had food dyes,  monosodium glutamate (MSG) and high fructose corn syrup.  I also made sure to choose foods that had less tha  7 grams per serving of sugar (look at the back of a yogurt container or a box if granola bars!!).

This didn’t feel like a huge change for us, and aside from it taking us longer at the grocery store, it wasn’t a huge inconvenience,  either.

I think the two main ingredients for your One Simple Change is:

  1. It needs to be important to you.
  2. It needs to be sustainable.

Can some people do a complete lifestyle overhaul and sustain it? Sure. But most of us need to make one or two small-ish changes at a time to develop the habit and start noticing some changes.

Once we started reading food labels and being mindful of the ingredients we were putting into our bodies,  we noticed a dramatic decrease in the out-of-control behaviors of our kiddos!  (And if they do eat foods that are high in sugars or has other additives, we definitely notice it based on their reaction!).

Gradually, we have found the small changes that have made a huge impact on our overall health.

As a mom of VERY picky eaters,  I still suffered from a lot of mom guilt for not being able to get my kids to eat very many fruits or veggies. I was so thankful when a friend of mine introduced me to a high quality whole food product that gets a consistent amount of fruits and veggies into our bodies every day.  We have fewer sick days, and their taste buds are slowly changing!  ( you know it’s a parenting win when your picky eater starts requesting veggies!).

So what kind of simple change can you choose to make?

  • drink more water (ideally we want to drink half our body weight in ounces or enough that our urine is clear).
  •  start some kind of exercise a few times a week.
  • commit to going to bed an hour earlier.
  • cut out processed foods.

Here are some more suggestions.

I just watched this great TEDx talk that validated all of the things that we have been doing:

{Photo Credit}

Hot Chocolate Without the Sugar Crash

My boy has always been extremely sensitive to sugar.  You can truly see the effects that it has on his body not long after consuming it, so we’ve always tried to limit the amount that he gets.

{except for when I was nursing the poor kid and gobbling down Hershey’s caramel kisses by the bagful – whoops!}

I’ve recently learned that if you have a high fiber-to-sugar ratio, then your body can better process the sugar and you don’t have a huge spike, then a crash.

I also found a sweet {pun intended!} hot chocolate recipe using this plant-based protein powder and almond milk that he loves and it doesn’t cause him to bounce off the walls!

{and knowing that he’s getting a TON of healthy ingredients at the same time certainly doesn’t hurt!}

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You have to heat the almond milk on the stovetop first.  I’m sure you can whisk the powder in, but I found it just as easy to pour the heated almond milk and the powder into my blender and mix it that way.

So yummy, pretty darn healthy, and the kiddos don’t go crazy.  :)

Not-So-Green Green Smoothie Tricks

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I love adding greens to my smoothies (it makes me feel so much “cleaner”!), but I have a few friends that just weren’t able to drink anything that was green!

Here are a few tricks that I’d like to share with you to help your green smoothie to not LOOK green!

I only had romaine lettuce on hand, so I ripped up some leaves and threw it in first.

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The trick is to put a little bit of water in the blender with just the greens and blend and blend and blend it.

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I actually put a little bit more water in than I probably should have, but it still did the trick.

Now, here’s where some people have the problem – “how the heck can I drink that green stuff?” is what I hear a lot!

Step #3 is to add some fruit.  I used some frozen mixed fruit (I do this in place of ice cubes).  The special trick here is to add some frozen blueberries.  (Though when they’re in season, fresh blueberries work just as well).

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Step #4 is to blend and blend and blend.  If you started out with just a little bit of water in the beginning, here is where you would add enough to get the consistency that you prefer.  (Plant-milk like almond, coconut or rice milk can also be used).

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Isn’t that a pretty color?  No green in sight!  (We also use the blueberry trick for the kiddos and call it a “princess smoothie” for picky-girl.  Ha!)

Next I add a premium plant-based protein powder that you can learn more about/purchase here.  The choices are Dutch Chocolate, French Vanilla or both.  I threw in some Dutch Chocolate here. (links to my business website)

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{Please note that Plant proteins are much healthier for you than whey, and that whey proteins have been known to cause inflammation in your body.}

The last step is to pour it into a glass, and enjoy!  I love that the plant-based protein powders are safe for kids and they get a filling shake, a bunch of extra fruits & veggies in a sneaky way (though they help me make the smoothies, so they know they’re getting them and are actually okay with it!), AND it has a low glycemic load, so they’re not bouncing off the walls!

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Yum!  What do you like to put in your smoothies?

 

Are You Ready for Better Health?

Did you know that 83 percent of the people who have Celiac’s disease don’t know they have it? And millions of people have gluten sensitivity. In fact, experts believe that about 7 percent of the population has gluten sensitivity.

You might have it if you experience the following symptoms; “foggy thinking”, depression, abdominal pain, bloating, diarrhea, constipation, headaches, bone or joint pain, unexplained weight gain, and chronic fatigue.

These symptoms can show up one to 48 hours after you’ve eaten gluten so the only real test to see if you have it, is to eliminate it from your life and see if your symptoms disappear. There is a test for Celiac’s disease. There is no test for gluten sensitivity.

Over the past ten blog posts we’ve covered a lot of material about wheat free and gluten free living. We’ve talked about what to expect, how to shop and plan your meals, and how to dine out. We’ve talked about nutrition and alternative sources of grains and gluten free treats. We’ve even discussed the drawbacks to a gluten free lifestyle (which in my opinion are far outweighed by the health benefits).

What we haven’t talked about yet is how you make the commitment to go gluten free. It’s not easy but it’s worth the effort for most people. So let’s talk about how to make sure you’re ready for this lifestyle change.

#1 Why Are You Going Gluten and Wheat Free?

Think about why you’ve decided that this is the right path for you. What are your reasons? This is important because these reasons will help you stick to your decision. If you’re feeling terrible and think that gluten is the cause, write down the symptoms you’re feeling. Maybe record a video where you talk to yourself and share your symptoms. You can then look at this video when you’re feeling tempted to have gluten.

#2 How Will You Support Yourself to Succeed?

Do you have support from your friends and family on this? It’s difficult to convince others to go gluten free with you but if you can, it makes it easier. If you can’t, then you’re on your own and that’s fine. Make sure you create support systems for yourself. Plan how you’re going to avoid gluten. What are you going to eat? How are you going to reward yourself for pushing through the tough times? How will you navigate the potential withdrawal symptoms?

#3 Your Mindset

A positive mindset is essential. You want to embrace the benefits, not dwell on the drawbacks. Sure there will be days where you’ll feel sorry for yourself. This usually happens when the people around you are enjoying a pizza or some other junk food that you used to be able to eat. Find substitutions that you enjoy and let go of the past. If you’re struggling to stay positive, consider the gratitude journal approach and write down things you’re grateful for with your new gluten free lifestyle.

Going gluten free may be the most rewarding and empowering step you’ve taken in a long time. Do it for your health. Do it so that in thirty or forty years you’re still strong mentally and physically. Do it so you feel better and look better right now. Today is the day to go gluten free.

The Downside To Going Wheat Free

Things are not all rosy in the land of the wheat and gluten free. There are some drawbacks and it is important to be aware of those before you make the decision to go wheat free. We are going to just dive right in and talk about the dark side of gluten free.

Nutrition Deficiencies

Going gluten free means that you’ll have to pay careful attention to your diet in more ways than one. In addition to avoiding anything with wheat or gluten you’ll also need to make sure you’re getting the fat, fiber, and protein your body needs. You’ll want to make sure that you get enough vegetables and fruits along with nuts and other whole grains into your diet.

However, the biggest nutritional challenge may be getting enough vitamin B. Fortified breads and cereals are a primary source of B vitamins. B9 is also known as folic acid and is essential to prevent birth defects. To compensate for this potential deficiency, you’ll want to look into taking a gluten-free multivitamin-multimineral supplement.

A Lifetime Commitment

Once you eliminate gluten and wheat from your body, you want to keep it that way. Many people who start eating gluten after an elimination find that they’re even more sensitive to it. This happened to me. After several months gluten free, I had a sandwich at a deli. They didn’t have gluten free bread and I didn’t think it would be a big deal. Boy was I wrong. I was sick for days. I felt like I had the flu. It was enough to convince me that gluten wasn’t for me and that sandwich certainly wasn’t worth feeling so sick.

Social Stigma

The gluten free diet is nothing new. It’s been around for a long time as many people have an allergy to gluten. The difference is that it is mainstream now. When celebrities start talking about how great they feel without gluten, people start listening and they start talking. Be prepared for questions, judgments and many sighs. Strangers aren’t much of a problem, it’s when your friends and family roll their eyes that it becomes frustrating. Here’s the key to managing this, remember how good you feel. Think about the weight you’ve lost, the energy you’ve gained, and the health improvements you’re enjoying. Their opinion about what you eat or don’t eat really doesn’t matter.

Gluten Free is Pricey

Finally, if you start going down the store bought gluten free bread and treats path, be prepared to spend some big bucks. A loaf of bread can cost you six dollars and the add on at a pizza restaurant for a gluten free crust can be almost as much. You’re much better off not adding these items to your diet, at least not on a regular basis. In addition to breaking the bank, they’re just not good for you. Make your own gluten free treats with the flours and meals mentioned in the post titled “The First Step To Eliminating Wheat from Your Diet.” They won’t spike your blood pressure or cause inflammation and the price is much cheaper than store bought goods.

There you have it, the major drawbacks to going gluten free. If you’re dealing with digestive challenges, weight gain, constant cravings, low energy, poor sleep and aches and pains that you just can’t seem to get rid of, then gluten is a likely culprit. All of these “drawbacks” will feel minor in comparison to your improved health and vitality.

In the last post in this series we’ll wrap it up by talking about making the decision to commit to a gluten free and wheat free life.