family nurse practitioner

New Year's Resolutions: Six Habits I Recommend on a Regular Basis

Happy New Year everyone!

In the last post, I shared about mindsets to have (or not) that will help with successful habit change. This week I want to share about some of the habits I think are most important to consider integrating into your family. This is not an exhaustive list! These habits are simple and sound. They are not flashy or trendy (necessarily), and they have stood the test of time. And remember, I am not suggesting you start ALL of these habits at once, or that these are the highest priority for your family. I am merely suggesting ones I think are important. For your consideration. Here they are:  

Six Habits I Recommend on a Regular Basis:

1. Eat More Animal Fat

This is my number one recommendation, and it is something you can incorporate into your food right now! Everyone should be eating more animal fat! Here's a post about why you should add more animal fat to your diet. Animal fats are butter, lard, tallow, ghee, chicken, duck and goose fat, bacon, and sour cream. This is where the money is! But what about avocados, coconut oil, and all the "healthy fats"? Those fats are fine and healthy (if they are good quality), but they cannot replace the amazing benefits that animal fats bring to your body. Those fats are fine to eat, but focus on increasing the animal fats. I recommend people work up to eating a minimum of 1/2 cup added animal fat per person per day. This includes children (they need fat for their developing brain!) This can be accomplished by adding fat to everything! Fry everything in butter, lard or bacon grease. Butter your steak! Eat butter cubes and dried fruit for a snack. Eat a tub of sour cream with a spoon! These are just some ideas to get you started. And if you are worried about fat and heart disease or obesity, I recommend you check out the book by Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride called Put Your Heart in Your Mouth, which explains the real reason for these epidemic diseases.

2. Drink Meat Stock Daily

Meat stock (not necessarily bone broth) is a liquid gold that I think every person can benefit from. To learn how to make it, view my post about it. I recommend that every person (children included) consume at least 1 mug of meat stock every day. With every meal is even better. This doesn't have to be in the form of soup—it can be a mug of the strained stock. And this is great place to add in extra fat (see previous point). And yes, there is a difference between store-bought and homemade—you can make something of infinitely higher quality than anything you can buy. And please, even if you use a microwave for other things, warm up your meat stock on the stove!

3. Eat a Fermented Food

Until the age of refrigeration, we naturally had some time of fermented food at least once a day. Either foods were fermented on purpose to preserve them longer (like sauerkraut), or during the course of a few days stored at room temperature, they grew some amount of mold, yeast, or bacteria on them.

Today, food in this state goes instantly into the trash (often container included), but for most of history food was rarely wasted due to a little mold! Now, I am not saying you should eat food that is molded or rotten, but our bodies function in a more healthy state if we regularly eat microbes. After all, a large part of our bodies are microbes! Here is a fun little video about how microbes work in your body. To help your body get or stay healthy, it's good to get these healthy microbes in us! You can do this by taking a probiotic, or eating fermented foods. There are different reasons why one is better than the other, and sometimes both are needed, but eating a ferment (or fermented food) is a great way to start out! 

You can buy your ferment (like live, refrigerated sauerkraut), or make it yourself. In addition to sauerkraut, beet kvass and vegetable medley are two of my favorites. When you start with any probiotic or fermented food, go slowly! Too much too fast can cause what's known as a die-off or Herx reaction. This is not fun, but can be avoided by increasing the amount you eat slowly! Start with one bite of sauerkraut, or 1 ounce of beet kvass. See how you feel for the next 24 hours, then use that as a guide to let you know how fast you can increase (or if you need to decrease).  

The last three habits are related to detoxing and cleansing your body.

4. Filter Your Water

This is a fairly simple change to make, yet it can reap large benefits. City water, most bottled water, and some well water contains chlorine in one or more forms. It is put there to keep species of bacteria, fungus and other microbes from multiplying to unhealthy levels. However, when we drink this same water the chlorine negatively affects the flora living inside us as well. And when we bathe and shower in it, not only do the chemicals dry out our skin and the fumes irritate our lungs, the protective barrier of our skin (maintained by skin flora) is damaged. You can largely prevent all of these things by filtering the chlorine (and some other things) out of your water. There are many levels of filters, and depending on how sick you are and what's in your water supply, a stronger filter may be necessary. But most people see benefit with simple filters for their drinking, cooking and bathing water. I use this filter or this filter for my drinking and cooking water, this filter for my baths, and this filter for my shower. You could get them all, or start with one and build from there.

5. Take a Detox Bath

A detox bath is an excellent way to help your body get rid of toxins that have accumulated there. There are three factors in a detox bath: water temperature, time, and amount of detox material. You can adjust all three of these to find your perfect bath! Common detoxing materials are Epsom salt, baking soda, and raw apple cider vinegar with the mother. And as we just discussed, dechlorinated water is preferred. The goal of a detox bath is to make you feel lighter, clearer and better. If you go too high on any of the three detox bath factors, you may get nauseated, a headache, increased heart rate, brain fog, muscle cramps, irritability or other like symptoms. If this happens during your bath, no worries! Just get out of the bath right away, drink plenty of water, and your symptoms will usually disappear in a few minutes. If they don't, lie down for a little while to let your body rest and recover.

  • Water temperature: you want a warm bath, but if it gets really hot, your body can jump to that other level of detoxing that will give you all the undesirable symptoms. This temperature will be determined by you, and may vary slightly day by day.

  • Time in the bath: to detox, most people need to stay in the bath about 20 minutes. You can stay in longer. But sometimes staying in more time can cause you to start having symptoms. If that happens, bath time is over! It's time to get out! Shorten your bath time by a few minutes the next time.

  • Amount of detoxing materials: for each bath, you want to use one of the detox materials listed above. Amounts vary between 1/4-1 cup. Test and see what works for you. It's good to rotate the material, using all three at different times, for a more comprehensive detoxing.

Enjoy your bath!

6. Walk Outside in the Sun

This is actually a two-for-one! Sunbathing (with nothing on your skin) is a great way to detox AND increase your levels of vitamin D. Of course, different seasons will have a different influence on vitamin D levels, but talking a walk in the sunshine has undeniable benefits (and probably ones we don't even understand yet!) The full light spectrum can help fight daytime fatigue, which in turn helps our hormones to balance. And you are getting gentle movement exercise on top of it! This will stimulate blood flow and increase your body's ability to remove toxins, as well as stimulate lymph movement, which does the same. It's important to expose your skin to the sun without any barrier, including light barriers such as coconut oil. Commercial sunscreens should be avoided altogether as they contain many known carcinogens. If your skin is not ready for the amount of sun exposure it's going to get, it's best to cover up with clothing, and/or gradually work up the time in the sun. As a side benefit, the more animal fat you eat the less likely you are to sunburn! So use this winter wisely! By the time spring and summer come, you should be able to increase your sun time gradually without problems! And yes, this includes you blondes, redheads, and fair-skinned people!

So there you have it!

The top six changes I recommend on a regular basis. Let me know which one you tried out first, and how it went!

Onward!

The Silver Lining to the Omnivore's Dilemma

In 2006, a book was published that sought to give the reader a better understanding of where their food comes from. The Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan followed three major tracks, or sourcing, of food. The public reaction to this book was significant and varied, and it evoked discussion from vegetarians and meat-lovers alike. The main premise of the title is discussed in chapter 17 of the book (among other places) and presents the idea that we have a particular dilemma facing us (humans): we have a choice (perhaps even moral and ethical in front of us) because we can eat anything. So what do we choose to eat? I appreciate Michael Pollan’s exposure of the true nature of the environments in which most of the food that we purchase is raised. I also agree with him (and many others) that there is a weightiness to our position as meat-eaters. It is this weight that I want to talk about today.   I believe it’s important to realize the weight of death. I think it helps us.   I don’t think the act of eating meat is immoral or unethical. But I do think that eating without a thought of responsibility is wrong. Except for the last hundred years, humans have been completely connected to the food (animal or plant) that they ate. They either had to raise, hunt, gather or cultivate their food. They took responsibility for caring for the plants and animals that were to become their food because they understood that these things were connected to their own life and health. Now, with mass production and commercialization, we have become removed from this natural responsibility and awareness. That being said, we can still make conscious choices about the food we purchase: we can make sure we know where it comes from and how it was treated. But I think we have the potential to lose something if we are that removed from food. Something big and underlying. When I say “we” I am talking about the collective “we” of our modern culture. And I know there are many discussions we could have in relation to food about toxins, hormones, antibiotics, nutrient density, and animal treatment. And although these are important, that's not what I would like to discuss today. Today I want to discuss what I think are some of the  moral and ethical implications of being removed from raising and killing our own food. As I said earlier, I think that being exposed to and understanding the weight of death is important. I think it strengthens our idea of responsibility, and gives us an attitude of soberness about death, which causes us to put a value on life.  

Let me explain with some examples:

  When I was growing up I learned the responsibility of caring for animals on our “hobby farm.” My parents taught me the importance of putting the needs of the animals in our care before my own. As these animals were domesticated and confined, they were unable to provide for themselves. They depended on us to give them what they needed to live. I understood (and experienced) that a lack of care or attention on my part could lead to an unintended death.

Lesson: Growing up in this environment taught me that it’s my responsibility to care for things that are weaker. When we believe that it is our responsibility to care for those who, in that moment at least, are not able to do what we can, we will not bully and abuse them. This is true not only for how we treat animals, but also for how we treat people.

    As an adult, I have had some opportunity to keep the chickens, ducks, geese, and pigs. The lives of these animals were then fully in my hands, and even unintentional mistakes or omissions could and did have life or death consequences. Awareness of that responsibility would get me out of bed in the middle the night, or cause me to carry water down a steep hill in freezing temperatures so my animals could drink.

Lesson:Increased responsibility taught me that I could be depended on, and that there are consequences for my actions. Learning how to shoulder responsibility, be dependable, and take responsibility for actions are all admirable and desirable character qualities that will help any person succeed in their life.

    When the time came for these animals to be in the freezer, I did not send them to a processing plant, but did the slaughtering and butchering myself. In this way I allowed my animals to die the same way that they lived, happy and without fear. While it cost me emotionally to do the killing myself, it was something I was glad to do. I had accepted responsibility for these animals, and I wanted to fulfill that responsibility to the end of their life.

Lesson: Processing my own animals for meat helped me to put others before myself. When we think of others first, we learn to treat people with kindness, and we can develop good, lasting relationships.

    The last few years I have attempted (with some success) to obtain my meat through hunting—true wild-caught, grass feed meat! In case you've never been hunting before I'll let you in on a little secret... the animals have a HUGE advantage. Their natural instincts give them the ability to hear or smell us and leave the area often without us even being aware of their presence. When I am successful in my hunt (which doesn't happen every year—including this one), I am excited and sobered. Excited at the prospect of good quality, delicious meat (I love elk!). But sobered because there is a weight to death—all death—even that of a wild animal.

Lesson: Soberness is a correct and helpful emotion to have in regard to death. It's an important experience for everyone to have (in one way or another) because it helps us remember the value of life. It's vital to regard life as precious, and something to be guarded and cared for, not thrown away carelessly.

    To summarize, I believe that having a correct understanding of the soberness of death has significant implications. It will cause us to treat all living things with care and love (preventing bullying and animal cruelty). It is a way we can learn and practice responsibility and accept consequences. It teaches us to put others first. It motivates us to spend quality time with those we love (because we remember that they won't be there forever). And it causes us to reflect on our own mortality (which is a good thing to think about sometimes).   Now I’m not saying that you have to live on a farm for you and your kids to learn responsibility and soberness about death! There are multiple ways to teach responsibility and soberness that don't include raising and killing your own animals. You can teach your child the responsibility of care with a pet, or even through simple chores. You can take responsibility in knowing where your food comes from, and invite your children to be part of your decisions. You can tell them that you expect them to treat every living creature with gentleness and care, and give consequences if they don’t obey. You can explain to them your convictions about animal treatment and talk about food quality on a regular basis. There are many opportunities for you to show your child the precious gift that is life, and teach them about responsibility and kindness. My point is that it’s maybe just a little bit harder, and takes a little more effort to pass on these things in our modern world. But that doesn’t mean that it’s not worth doing. The good things are always worth fighting for. That’s why I believe that it’s a blessing to be an omnivore. There is a loss of life so we can eat, but that creates opportunities to experience deep life lessons when we face the weightiness of death. So there you have it, the silver lining to being an omnivore!  

Onward!

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Living in an Epic

I love epics! When I read, watch or listen to a story that shows gives me a glimpse or sniff of the epic, there is something inside me that reaches deep, finds courage, or gathers strength to face whatever I am facing in my life. Or reminds me that my life is pretty easy... that happens too.   Is this just me?   Anyone else?   I know that epics help me so much in my everyday life, so I try to put them in my everyday (or at least a few times a week) life.*

*This may be re-reading an number of books (the Lord of the Rings series, Narnia series, The Seeker series, The Space Trilogy, The Inheritance Cycle, various biographies of missionaries or historical figures, or even The Little House on the Prairie series (especially The Long Winter). It may also be from thinking about Epics I have read (at least in part) in the past, like the Odyssey and Illiad. It may also be from watching the movies that go with these books. It is not unusual for me to be reading one or another of the books in this list, along with health or business books I am reading. (Right now I am at chapter seven of LOTR: The Two Towers.)

Today I want to share some reflections that I have concerning epics. Maybe you've thought about or experienced some of these things before, and maybe you haven't. But I believe that there is something inside each of us that responds to the essence of an epic tale. And I think there is good that can come from that response.  

One of my epics-of-choice is Lord of the Rings. While I do enjoy and watch the movies, the books give a deeper picture, a chance to immerse with the characters and experience what they are experiencing as they journey in the race against evil.

I've lost count of how many times I've re-read this series, but each time I read through it, there is something that soothes my heart, makes me feel understood (or helps me understand something), or gives me a different perspective. (I think this happens because each time I read it I am in a different place—I am experiencing something new or in a different way, or I have learned more.)

But the personal strengthening I get from reflecting on these epic tales generally falls into one of three categories.    

1. Your story is important!

Each of us have a story (or journey). And that story (journey) is important. Frodo may seem to be the star in the Lord of the Rings, but there are multiple stories involving different characters that are interwoven (at times) with each other. And in most cases, if the characters in those other stories did not act courageously, or if they had made a different choice, perhaps the great and evil Sauron would not have been overthrown. Every person is important:

  • Without Sam's support Frodo would have never made it

  • Without Merry and Pippin's appearance Isenguard would still be standing

  • Without Eowyn's care for her people Theoden could not have gone to war

  • Without Bilbo's gift Frodo would have been skewered by a troll in Moria

And there are so many more examples! While the comparison isn't (of course) exact (as far as I know, there are no trolls), each of us something important that only we can do with our lives. And what we choose to do (and that we don't give up) affects others in ways you may never know. You are important! Your life is significant, no matter how it feels. I mean, most of what Frodo did was walk! But would anyone say his part was insignificant?    

2. There is a bigger picture!

So many times I am just putting one foot in front of the other. One more morning that I got out of bed. Several meals cooked and eaten. Another work day finished. A detox bath done. Lights out. I need epics to remind me of the bigger picture! As you read or watch any epic tale in which great deeds are done, I challenge you to pay attention to the timeline.

  • How many miles did that person walk before they found adventure?

  • How many days at sea before they found the next island?

  • How many years of study before they became a Plato?

  • How many failed experiments before they invented the lightbulb?

  I never used to notice the timeline. And I was always frustrated that my big break hadn't come yet, or that I was still in school, or that I wasn't where I wanted to be in any number of areas in my life. Then I started to read phrases like "they traveled 2 weeks" or "he studied that language for 5 years." And I realized I was missing something. I want to achieve the great thing now. I want to be done with the journey now. But that's not how it usually works (really, almost never!). Even "The Greats" did not become great in one night, or many. Years and years of hard work are often represented by a single sentence in their biographies. Because most of life's achievements are accomplished in the mundane. But those steps, mile after mile, are what prepare you for your great moment. And one day each of those steps will be the accomplishment of a journey. And one day you will probably notate all these hard years with a single sentence as well.    

3. You are not alone!

It is common to feel isolated. Most people do (about 72% of Americans, according to a study done in 2016). We see loneliness in epic tales as well.

  • Frodo felt he had to make the journey to Mordor alone.

  • Aragon felt alone when Gandalf fell in Moria.

  • Merry and Pippin felt alone when they were captured by orcs.

  • Gimli felt alone when he was grieving Balin's death in Moria.

  • Gandalf felt alone when he was betrayed by Saruman the White.

You may argue. "You don't know my life. I am alone." I believe you! I believe that you feel alone! But that does not mean you are, or that you have to be. Frodo thought he had to go to Mordor alone (and tried to), but it was right and good that Sam went with him. Here are two reasons why you are not alone.

First:

You have people around you who love you. People who care about you and would miss you if you were gone. They may be bad at expressing it, but I KNOW you have at least one person in your life that cares. Because if you truly can't think of anyone else who cares about you, I care about you!

Also, there is another person who cares about you, and He cares way more than I ever can. His name is Jesus, and He died for you. I know He cares about you because He also cares about me. He has helped me and loved me in amazing, real ways! If you want to know more about Him and how He loves you, please reach out to me. (I also share some more about it in this post on hope.) 

Second:

You are not alone because your experience of loneliness is something that we all experience. Everyone you know has experienced or is currently experienced loneliness in their lives. And while we may not get to hear the story of those around you (although I encourage you to ask), we can see this common human experience reflected in the epic tales.

The reason why epics resound so strongly with our spirits is because we know that we too are part of an epic tale. We alone can feel the true weight of a burden, feel the exhilaration of our victories, or the crushing weight of fear or feeling alone. We are the only ones who can walk each of the steps of our journey.   But we don't have to do it alone! At each step along the way there are companions. They may not be the ones you would choose (Frodo and Sam did not want Gollum to be with them, but they needed him). Some are only for a season (like the Fellowship), and others stay with you until the end (like Sam with Frodo).

Look around you. Who do you have next to you? Who may be your companions right now? I know how it is to feel alone. I have felt alone most of my life. I know that it takes tremendous courage to reach out. To get to know the people around you. To risk getting close to them even though you may get hurt. To initiate relationship again and again. But everyone feels alone and scared. Everyone is hoping for a friend to go through life with. But someone has to take the first step. And not everyone you reach out to will be your Sam, but someone may be. And maybe you will be a Sam to them. But you won't know unless you try.  

It takes courage to live in an epic. Dangers are near and frequent. Patience and long-suffering are needed. But only in an epic is the victory so notable, and success so sweet, and the ending make you cry with joy. And only when I view my journey as an epic tale can I bring into perspective the hard things in my life. For I know deep down inside that I was created for something great! Something eternal! Something magnificent! Can you feel it too?   Our lives are epics. That means there will be wonderful things and horrible things that happen in them. But isn't it good to know you are in an epic? Then you aren't surprised at what you find around the next bend.   So take courage! And journey,  

Onward!

Immunity: The Best Defense is a Good Offense {Part One}

Fall is coming! I hope you have been enjoying the cooler nights (and sometimes day) like I have! The onset of cooler weather also means that cold and flu season is coming!

Is your immune system ready? We often respond to illnesses defensively... waiting until we catch something before we take care of it. But there is another way... a way to go on the offensive and give your immune system a running start! The food we eat (or don't eat), our obsession with cleanliness, the frequency medications are prescribed, and the environmental toxins we are exposed to can lead to our bodies being run down, and our immune systems functioning below peak performance level.

In fact, it's pretty amazing that we have any immunity left! I'm thankful for the incredibly complex design of our bodies, which allows them to compensate and continue working, even in sub-optimal conditions. Here is a fun video that explains the workings of the immune system. But doesn't it seem like a good idea to support our bodies—and our immune systems—the best that we can? The good news is that there are ways to support our immune systems!  

  • Eat a diet rich in nourishing foods

  • Support the good microbes in your body and environment

  • Detoxify to give the inflammatory arm of the immune system a break

  • Use essential oils and herbs to support your body's natural defenses

Today let's talk about the first two, and next time we will talk about the other two.  

Nourishing Foods

Eating nourishing foods is a topic I talk about often. If you haven't heard much of what I have to say about this yet, you can check out some other posts like this one and this one. Today I'm going to share with you the nutrient dense foods that your immune system LOVES!

Your immune system is a very hungry organ. It is overseeing the entire body, and needs lots of little soldiers to work properly. For a strong, well-staffed immune system, the body needs to be well supplied with cholesterol, calcium, vitamin D, vitamin C, zinc, and more. These nutrients can be found in the same nutrient dense foods that I am always recommending... meat stock, butter, fermented cod liver oil (source), liver (you can get it in a capsule), caviar, egg yolks, full-fat yogurt or kefir, grass-fed beef, and some others. Important minerals can be found in whole salts (sources).

When these types of foods are consumed on a regular basis, the immune system will have enough building blocks to make itself strong. While you are increasing the amount of nutrient-dense foods you are eating, it's a good idea to decrease the amount of empty, processed foods you eat. These foods are mostly empty calories, and any food that contains processed sugar depresses the immune systems for hours after it's eaten. As you fill up with real, whole foods, phase any sugar-containing, processed food out of your diet.

Support Good Microbes

Another reason why our immune systems are struggling is because we have declared a war on microbes. Since the days of Louis Pasteur we have been sterilizing and pasteurizing everything in sight. Even if you don't take antibiotics, you are still getting exposed to them through the food you eat, the water you drink, and often even the soap you wash your hands with. Additionally we obsessively use hand sanitizer, bleach and other cleaners that kill 99.9% of germs. But these sanitizers aren't just killing germs.

They are killing the good microbes as well—microbes that keep balance, and even health, to our bodies and the world around us. Another theory emerged around the time of Pasteur, and with our growing knowledge of the human microbiome, it seems to be the more true of the two. Antoine Bechamp created the cellular theory, with the main hypothesis that it is the environment that causes disease, not the germ. A short recap of these two theories can be found here.

If Pastuer were right, then our bodies should do better and better as we "cleanse" and reduce the number of bacteria and other microbes. But we have found that the opposite is true. Research has shown that those people with fewer species of microbes in their gut are actually more prone to illness and disease, including chronic disease like obesity, autoimmunity and cancer. So stop killing things! Get rid of your antimicrobial soap and Clorox spray! When you need to clean your hands, wash them instead of sanitizing. And expose yourself to the good and helpful microbes that help keep the bad ones in check. you can do this by eating fermented foods, taking a probiotic, and getting into the dirt sometimes. Eating the nourishing foods we talked about will also support helpful microbes in your body.

That should get you started, but come back to learn about the other two ways you can support your immune system. Remember, the best defense is a good offense!

Onward!

Why Soak Grains? {Video}

Ever wondered about recommendations like "soaking," "sprouting," "fermenting," or "properly preparing" your nuts or grains? Ever wondered what that meant, or why it's better? I did! In fact, when I first heard about "sprouted bread," I thought it was made-up. But there are real reasons why eating properly prepared seeds is better for your body. Check out the video below to find out why.

Did that make sense?

This is just one example of why food preparation matters. And while food preparation techniques used to be passed on from generation to generation, our modern western culture has largely lost that heritage. But some do remember. And some do research. And some teach. And some write it down for us. That is the entire reason behind the cookbook, Nourishing Traditions, by Sally Fallon. Traditional ways to prepare foods in traditional recipes are recorded in this helpful resource. If we want to return to health, we need to start understanding these principles. Our health depends on it! Still have questions? Have another food preparation question? Ask it in the comments below.

Disclosure: The link in this post is an affiliate link. Links like this help support my blogging. Your trust is important to me, and I only recommend resources I trust.

Why Betty Got Some Better Butter

Do you remember the old nursery rhyme/tongue twister about Betty Botter buying butter?

Betty Botter bought a bit of butter;“ But,” she said, “this butter’s bitter! If I put it in my batter It will make my batter bitter But a bit of better butter Will make my batter better.” So she bought a bit of butter Better than her bitter butter, Made her bitter batter better. So it was better Betty Botter Bought a bit of better butter.

(courtesy of Wikipedia)

Which begs the deep, philosophical question—was it actually important for her to buy better butter? Or did it just make the rhyme work?

Just kidding... ...or am I? Like many nursery rhymes, I believe this one also has a hidden meaning, a bit of wisdom that is being passed on through the "silly" childhood lines.

Wisdom that we should take to heart...

Quality Matters

Not all food is created equal. Hopefully you have all had the chance to eat fresh food out of a garden. Now compare that to much of the produce you can buy at the store. Can you see, smell and taste the difference? But isn't it all the same foods? How can it be different? Well, let's consider the differing conditions of, for example, a tomato.

  1. Grew in good soil vs growth forced by fertilizers

  2. Cared for with love vs impersonally raised in mass

  3. Picked when it was ripe vs ripening in a truck

It makes sense that all these things affect the taste, but does it really matter? Even if it's not as delicious, isn't it still basically a tomato? Doesn't it give us good nutrients that support our bodies?

Unfortunately, no. Taste, color and smell were put in place to show our bodies the quality and health of a plant. When the appeal is lacking, so is the nutrition. The same is true with all food. Meat, seafood, fruit, fats, dairy products, and any other single ingredient can be purchased at differing levels of quality. And when those ingredients are combined, the resulting dish can be bland or amazing! Top chefs know this. They know that ingredient selection is the most important factor in creating a delicious dish. You too can cook amazing food! Your kitchen skills matter some, but your ingredients matter more!  

Additionally, when the food you are eating has higher nutritional content, you won't need to eat as much. When you are no longer a slave to processed food's addictive substances, or the sugar cravings of bad flora in your body, your body gives signals for eating properly. How does the body "properly" signal, you might ask.  

The body signals hunger when it is needing nutrients! 

 When you eat nutrient-dense food, less will satisfy you! 

Therefore, it is actually more efficient to eat higher-quality food, even if it costs more, because you will need to eat less of it.

The only time this does not give the appearance of being true is when you first start eating nutrient-dense food. When you begin giving your starving body the nutrients it so desperately needs in good-quality, real food, it will ask for that food often! This period of time often lasts one to three months long, although it can be longer. Don't worry, it's a good sign! Your eating will slowdown when your body has caught up. (Also as you add more fat into your diet. Fat is one of the most nutrient-dense foods on the planet, and it is incredibly satisfying.)

So, the take away for today is that quality matters!

I know this is easier said than done. Next time we will talk about some ways that could make it possible for you to feed better quality food to yourself and your family. Y'all come on back now...

Onward!

Working with Your Innate Intelligence

In the last post we talked about habits and some different reasons why we may not be consistent with them. One of the reasons we discussed was that maybe the habit you have decided to establish is not the most helpful thing for you to put your energy toward. Your body may have different ideas about what is most important. Let’s stop for a moment and talk a little about your body, or body-partner.

What I am referring to is also called our innate intelligence. Innate intelligence is the idea that our body was born knowing what we need to be healthy and whole.

This may sound a bit out in the deep end, but hear me out. You already know this is true. Think about the time you skinned your knee as a child. Did you know how to heal it? Of course not! In fact, even as adults, there are very few who understand even the basics of how a wound is healed. So if we didn’t know how to heal it, how was our knee healed? The body already knew how to heal it.

Inside the cells of our body is a knowledge that we haven’t even begun to understand. But we can see the effects, so we can know it’s there. It is always working towards being more healthy, vibrant, and whole. And our body wants to work with us and help us understand how to get there. Innate intelligence helps us understand what’s best through senses & desires.

  • a desire for certain foods

  • tired and heavy eyes when we need to sleep

  • brain fog and fatigue when we’re sick

  • the urge go to the bathroom

  • a "gut" feeling about a decision or situation

And the list goes on... When we learn to listen to our body-partner, our communication becomes more fine-tuned and successful. (To learn more about this, I recommend reading Notes From a GAPS Practitioner, especially chapters 7 and 8.)

Ok, so back to the topic—how do you know what to prioritize for you? What’s the most important thing to focus on? There are so many good things to do. But what’s the most important thing for your healing journey right now? While the answer is not the same for everyone, following these steps should help you know what to focus on. Until later on, when the priority changes. When that happens, simply revisit these steps again. Each time you do this, it will get easier to know what to do! Hang with me here—there are a few steps! You can do it!

Read through a list of some of my top health change priorities. As you read through them, take note of the things that seem more important than others.  

  • Eat more fat

  • Stop putting toxins on your skin and hair

  • Eat fermented foods daily

  • Consume meat stock daily

  • Stop drinking soda and energy drinks

  • Drink more water

  • Start moving a little every day

  • Eat more food

  • Stop eating sugar and processed foods

  • Switch to natural scents and cleaning products

  • Detox more regularly

Next, I want you to notice the things that are not on this list. Things like “30 min of cardio 5 days a week” or “take more vitamins and supplements,” or even “buy organic food.” Before we go on, throwaway all your preconceived ideas about what “healthy habits” are. These are not necessarily bad habits, but they may not the most important things to focus on.

Now, write down the things that jumped out to you from the list—first impression only, don’t over-think it! Limit your list to 3-5 items. Got them? Great. These things we are going to consider your body’s priorities, and put them on the Priority List. Think back to the concept of innate intelligence—your body knows how to heal itself. It also knows what things will help accomplish that goal, and it wants to let you know. This communication takes practice, but it's worth it! The more you partner with your body, the more effective change you will see.

Out of your body’s priorities decide which one seems the most important or most practical to start. That’s right—one! Unless they go together, like less soda and more water, I recommend working on only one at a time. And this is where your conscious decision and will comes in. For example, something like stopping processed foods and sugars may seem most important, but if you have tried and failed a hundred times, then I recommend that you pick another one from your Priority List. Perhaps eating more fat may be much easier to do consistently, and you may find that you are automatically eating less processed food by default. Even if that doesn’t happen, it is still better to set yourself up for success, because one success will help you with another. And remember, no good decision, however small, is ever wasted!

Make a plan for your change. "Detoxing more" is not possible to achieve unless you decide that “detoxing more” means “oil pulling daily” or “taking a detox bath on Monday, Wednesday and Friday nights.” Some of the things on the list are big, and should be broken into even smaller steps. It may take a while to feel like you are achieving the habit. But take heart! You are working on something that is one of the most important things to you. It’s worth all the time it takes to do it!

Accountability and support matters! Let the community know what your ONE thing is in the comments below, share your plan, and then go get ‘em! You are going to do great!

Onward!

Announcing...

Attention! Exciting announcement! I am announcing an exciting addition to help people on their journey to heal! I have officially expanded to have a primary care practice. I am able to fully function as a primary care provider (ordering labs, making referrals, doing well physicals) with the exception of prescribing or managing medications. But with diet and lifestyle changes, many medications may not be necessary. I would also like to share with you here, what I wrote about why I am who I am, and why I am doing what I am doing.

I am able to provide nursing care and support in a way I have desired and imagined since I first read biographies about Clara Barton (founded the Red Cross) and Florence Nightingale (“founder of modern nursing”) before I was ten! I loved the model of community health care, visiting nurses taking care of the sick and well, going from home to home doing baby weights, comforting the dying, and providing education. When I took community health in nursing school, I was disappointed at the changes that have occurred over the last hundred year. Developing countries have institutionalized the care of health–which we now call our health care system. Don’t get me wrong–we have had many great advances in medicine–surgery, procedures, life support–all these have lowered the death rate from accidents and other problems, and they are great!

But I had fallen in love with a different model of nursing, and although I loved my nursing job for many years, what I loved most about it was it looked like our history–when I felt that I was emulating my nursing “mothers.” I loved the idea of being able to be in a family’s world. To be with them through their most exciting and most difficult life events. Birth and death. Joy and sadness. To be there when the light bulb goes on, and they accept into their minds some new and previously foreign concept about sanitation, health, diet, immune support, whatever it may be. To provide the education that brought them to that point. To be accepted as part of their family–to be trusted with that humbling responsibility.

And this is what I love!

And this is why I am so excited to be where I am today. The pieces came together quickly in the end. I am still at times surprised and just trying to catch my breath. But when I look back at the last 10 years of my life, I see the pieces God put together in a wonderful design–and I feel so blessed! There are times when I am so tired (mostly from doing the business side of this), and then I receive a phone call from a mom, or individual who is seeking someone to listen to them, so afraid yet another person will tell them they are making it up. After listening, grieving with them about the hard journey they have been on, and then sharing some hope that was recently shared with me, my exhaustion melts away. I often hang up the phone, smiling, and exclaim out loud (usually to an empty room) “I love my job! I love what I do!” Because this is when I am refreshed and renewed. This is what I was made for!

I believe God has many plans for me, and many things for me to do throughout my life–both hard and easy. But I am so grateful that I am able to use this part of how I am made in such a big way! And that I get to take part in bringing a blessing to the lives of others.

Onward!

Beginnings...

Starting a business while still fairly new to the GAPS diet. That’s a great idea…Said no one ever!

But how could I wait?

After a lifetime of taking care of people, 5 years of undergraduate work to become a nurse, 4 more years of graduate school to become a family nurse practitioner, and almost 6 years of dietary research for my own personal health reasons.

I was introduced to the GAPS diet less than a year ago, but because of the many answers I found in the science that Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride explains, I quickly and naturally adapted it into my approach to healing. I did not have to learn a lot of new information, because this is a simple but comprehensive approach to the health issues rocking our nation. And I have been so excited to find a path of knowledge and research that has answered some deep questions I had developed, and answered many others I had not yet formed.

And so, it was born... and here is optimistic me looking forward to making an impact in the (un)health of the people that God puts in my path to help.

Are you wanting to join me on this journey? Onward!