Stress

I feel that we all handle stress differently and it means different things to different people. The way we react to stress, the way our bodies handle it, how it affects our mental state, and so forth. For me, I used to be the type that was so far one way on the stress spectrum where you said the wrong thing and I might burst into flames, tears, and I would be in a constant state of STRESS (all capital letters with 100 explanation points at the end) when I had one too many commitments, events, work related projects, school work, and really just about anything that was happening in life. Yet now, I actually feel that I have more things going on, I am traveling more, more pressure with work since I work for myself, yet I feel that I am somewhere towards the other end of the stress scale. Yes, I stress, but I welcome stress because I think that some stress is positive in life because it motivates you in a way yet I feel way less explosive, reactive towards stressful situations, and my body handles it in a much more positive way. 

My intention with this blog post is to share how I better manage my stress, maintaining a healthy and happy gut, tips and suggestions for you through things like foods, probiotics, or just simple ways that I keep a positive outlook during these periods…

In a nutshell I found that:
Sleeping the right amount
Exercising just enough, so not too much but not completely putting off moving all together Eating to fuel my body, balancing out my food, eating variety
Not overeating
Staying hydrated all day long
Maintaining a social life

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…was key in staying as positive as I could during stressful times. It might sound easy and it is, but it can be hard when we are faced with multiple demands from friends, family, school, work, and whatever else you have going on! I used to over do it on exercising, eat too much or not the right foods for MY body, sleep was not a priority, my social life took a back seat, and I wasn’t thinking about how I was treating my body and how it made me feel nor affected my stress levels and my reaction towards it. 

For me, it always starts with a healthy gut to help manage and combat stress. If my gut is working properly it always seems that the rest of my body is functioning at its best; that always means that I am getting enough sleep, I am eating well, and moving my body enough throughout the week. It also means turning towards foods that are going to fuel my body, give me energy, not weigh me down, or supplements that contain probiotics. For the last month I have been taking Silver Fern Ultimate Probiotic supplements and I have been waiting to share with you all to see how my body handled them! I mentioned them a bit when I had my event two weeks ago in NY but I wanted to share them here in this dedicated post in the different ways to combat stress, because I truly do believe that it starts with maintaining a healthy gut and one way you can do that is introducing probiotics into your daily regime. 

I’ve been on the hunt for a good probiotic and I had seen Silver Fern around for quite some time and I couldn’t wait to start incorporating it into my morning routine and see the positive affects it would have on my body, especially my gut health. From someone that is prone to leaky gut, SIBO, (have had both in the past, which you can read about here & here.) and has IBS, gastroparesis, it is extremely important for me to make sure I take care of my body through certain foods and supplements in order feel my best more often than not AND NOT stress out my body which can be a major issue for me resulting in the return of my leaky gut, SIBO, migraines and terrible gut health. It is important to find a high quality probiotic that can help replenish, help promote, and rejuvenate your gut; the microbiome! 

For me, having a strong healthy gut means that I stress less, I think more positively, I am more focused, I sleep more soundly, and handle stress differently; better. Why? I am not constantly bloated, inflamed, or feel that every time I eat that I am intolerant to foods that I am eating. My digestive system seems to be working properly, it is on track, and when my gut feels strong and healthy my mood is elevated because I am less prone to leaky gut, SIBO, cravings, IBS- C or D. When my gut health is off, then I am even more stressed out on top of everything that I have going on because it is all that I can think about because of the physical pain that it seems to be causing; the more bloating, the more issues you have with your digestive system, the harder it is to eat, fall asleep, exercise, and really just go about your day and focus! 

Why I love Silver Fern Ultimate Probiotic: 

Contains a prebiotic to help activate the probiotic bacteria in the intestines
Improves digestion, bloating, and keeping you on track! 
Helps support the growth of the GOOD bacteria
Reduces inflammation and supports nutrient absorption
 

ALSO contains strains of probiotics that aids in digestion, help with IBS, crown’s, and help reform an ailing gut. 

Many of these mentioned above is everything that I can suffer from when I am completely stressed out…so, adding a probiotic into my routine has been sufficiently beneficial to my overall health and well-being. They also have drink mixes (6 different flavors) too that make it so easy to add into your waters and carry for on the go! I’ve been mixing the packets into my water with a little lemon when I feel extra stressed, after a hot yoga class, or after a night out! I don’t feel any adverse side affects and they contain no added sugar! 

For the probiotics so far I am taking 1 each morning with my usual lemon, apple cider vinegar water daily. Within a week I noticed that bloating was better and I wasn’t suffering from ups and downs with digestive issues. I really think it has improved my gut health just within a month of taking them and I am happy to have included this into my daily routine! 

Now on to other things!

Mental Health / Positive Thinking: 

Sometimes the more I stayed in, isolated myself, the more I retreated, the more negatively it impacted my health - my mood, anxiety, stress levels, gut health, and overall happiness. However, I think that having a positive outlook on situations, life in general does boost your overall self esteem and happiness and therefore in turn can make you less stressed. Hear me out: The more you see your friends, family, or spend time with positive people that build you up, the happier you are. This doesn’t mean to forgo your school, work, or other deadlines, but all I try and commit to is seeing friends 2 times a week during the week and once on the weekends.

I schedule plans for dinners, workout classes, walks, hikes, cook with friends, meet for coffees or smoothies. I felt that the more I was socializing with my friends and spending time with people that mattered in my life, my cortisol levels lowered, my body was less inflamed and I was able to talk through any stressors that I might be experiencing instead of holding it in and causing my body to become tense! Not having a social life before or neglecting that part of my health would actually make me feel more negative about myself, my work, I was sleeping less, had more anxiety, and reached for foods that might not make me feel the best. I think if you isolate yourself so much and become envious of others; you start to focus less on the good, your own work, and your own well being, but when you are having fun, whether it is working out with a friend, eating a healthy dinner, walking, or doing whatever you like to do you are more focused on the present moments. When I was canceling on my friends or neglecting time with them, I would work out or work longer hours, but I wasn’t working efficiently. I was also over doing it with workouts. For me, when I work out TOO much, my cortisol levels rise and my body becomes inflamed and I can actually feel the physical pain from it! This would not allow me to sleep well, I would over eat, become irritable and would be completely drained and burnt out yet I couldn’t cut the pattern. When I finally started to cut back on workouts and started to focus more on my yoga classes and walks, my body was more at peace, my anxiety was completely gone, I was less bloated and I felt extremely better and happier. I think it was because I learned that I would rather spend time with my friends than workout every second of the day and feel miserable. Now I focus on moving every single day in however I see fit whether that is walking, swimming or going to yoga a few times a week. 

A side note, taking Sliver Fern Ultimate Probiotic has greatly helped with this as well. After strenuous workouts it is so important to take the time to properly recover from them, especially your gut! Often times high intensity training can lead to leaky gut as well as the physical and mental stress!  By keeping your gut healthy with Silver Ferns, lets say, and stress levels low by finding the right workout that works for your body, you can help your stress levels and actually have more product workouts, recover faster, crash less often, and suffer from less gastrointestinal problems! 

                           Here are things that increase my stress and my body’s ability to handle it: 

Consumption of excess sugar
High levels of caffeine consumption
Working out too much (intense workouts, HIIT etc) 
Lack of sleep
Excess alcohol
Lack of fresh air, being outside (vitamin d!!!) 
Isolating myself from others
Lack of proper diet that I thrive off of

Foods that combat stress! 

Taking a digestive enzymes before you eat can help better digest your food and jumpstart the process if you are problems with that! I know that if I am overwhelmed, my digestion is the first to feel it and I can have a hard time either having an appetite, wanting to eat, or properly digesting my food! Which is why once again probiotics are key and an enzyme might be beneficial too! 

Foods such as Omega 3 fatty acids that rebuild healthy cells and fight again inflammation. I also focus on high fiber foods such as vegetables, nuts, seeds, and do not shy away from healthy fats. During times of stress, for me personally I find it extra important to eliminate or stay away from sugar as that always feeds that bad bacteria in my gut, causes me to crave sugar more, causes more stress not only to me, but in my body as well. Instead if I am craving sweets this is what I gravitate towards: 

roasted sweet potato with dairy free yogurts, chia seeds or ground flaxseeds, with nut butter or coconut butter

dark chocolate with zero sugar

almond milk heated with 1-2 tbsp raw cacao plus a pinch of each: cinnamon, ginger, turmeric

a simple smoothie filled with spinach, raw cacao, ground flaxseed, almond butter, maca powder, and blueberries for a low sugar berry option or 1 date or half a banana to keep it lower in sugar. 

chia puddings made with raw cacao + low sugar granola; I tend to stick to paleo granolas as they are made with nuts, coconut oil and usually only sweetened with honey or maple syrup and they are higher in protein. 

energy bites on my blog

For foods during stressful times; instead of reaching for foods that might make you feel good in the moment I tend to reach for foods that are going to ease my stress, help calm down any anxiety, and sooth my stomach: 

Wild salmon, ground flaxseeds, chia seeds, brazil nuts, almonds, walnuts, hemp seeds, organic eggs

Dark chocolate, spinach, blueberries, sweet potatoes, citrus fruits, root vegetables, herbal teas (ginger, lemon, cinnamon, turmeric), raw cacao, apple cider vinegar, beets, lentils, bananas, almond butter, fennel, acorn squash, butternut squash, avocados, etc! 

During these times, I try my best to up my protein and fiber to keep myself satisfied and my brain functioning properly. This also helps me combat any sugar cravings, which I rarely have, but during stressful times, it is what most people probably reach for. It will only affect your stress levels later, causing you to crash which is why it is important to eat more variety, well balanced, and foods that will make you actually feel less stressed, or bring less stress to the body! 

Other things that I focus on now or when I find my calendar to be overwhelming that helps keep my mind at ease and my body less stressed is: 

  1. Keep a gratitude journal; focus on the positive & good that you have in your life. Each morning or night write down 3 things that you are grateful for or 3 GOOD/POSITIVE things that happened that day. It will start to make you appreciate what you have going on in your life and allow to stop focusing on comparing yourself to others 
  2. Read! This allows me to mentally escape what I have going on work wise and anything else going on. Instead of scrolling the internet, IG, or watching TV I try and find a really good book I can get lost in
  3. Schedule in time for friends each week. They say that your personality is the make up of the closet 5 people in your inner circle, so make sure you are spending your time wisely with the people that benefit you.
  4. Find a workout routine that works for you and not what everyone else is doing. I focus on yoga and walking. I used to go very early in the mornings but it would constantly make me late for work and then I would go extremely late in the evenings but it would hinder my sleep cycle. Find what works for you.
  5. Create a month by month calendar of everything you have going on so you can see the bigger picture. It may seem overwhelming at first, but then you can tackle each day, day by day and remember what you have going on. 
  6. Create a to do list every night before you go to bed, so you wake up each morning knowing what you have going on for the day
  7. Organize your entire morning the night before: regarding the clothes you are wearing to work, the breakfast you are eating, workouts you are doing or not going to be doing (rest day?!), plans you have after work, etc. Then all you have to do is wake up and go!
  8. Take breaks during the day! When you are feeling extremely overwhelmed, stressed, tired; take a break and allow yourself to do that! I normally would push thru them and it would only make things worse. Now, I take rest days, I take walks outside even if its just 15 minutes, I take workout breaks if I can, or completely stop what I am doing and come back to it when I have a clear frame of mind. 
  9. Practice self care! I love epsom salt baths, face masks, and really anything that you can do at home that is affordable to you! This will be super relaxing to your mind, gut, and make you feel at total ease and help reduce any inflammation and tension you are holding on to in your body! 
  10. Focus on complaining less! It can be really hard and a rut that you are stuck in, but when I found myself complaining less about the work that I had to do, I became way more positive about situations that I was in and more grateful. Remember it is a GOOD thing to be busy. You are lucky!!! 

Stress is obviously unavoidable and happens to all of us! I think that by creating a routine for yourself, focusing on nourishing nutrient dense foods, adding in probiotics that support your gut health, and committing to maintaining a social life can really help shift your mental attitude as to how you react to stressful situations. The more you isolate yourself and seclude yourself, the more tense and inflamed your body will become, causing your cortisol levels to rise (at least this is what happens to me!), but the more you focus on staying active both mentally and physically and treating your body and self with care the easier it will be for you to handle moments of what feels like complete chaos! 

My Nighttime Routine

For the longest time it would take me forever to fall asleep. I would toss and turn for hours, stare at the clock, scroll mindlessly though my phone, think about everything that I needed to do the following day, eat for no reason, and even get out of bed and sometimes work! I also would wake up 4-5 times a week around 3 AM so hungry and suffer from terrible anxiety attacks. They were so mentally exhilarating that it would cause me to stay up for the rest of the night.  I knew I needed to establish a night time routine and make it a habit so I could sleep better in order to have a more productive day, because on the nights that I could not sleep the entire next day I was irritable, experienced migraines, would crash around 2 PM, my digestive system was terrible, terrible being an understatement, and I had NO energy or motivation to do anything! My brain was mush. 

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My Morning Routine

I am a firm believer that how you start each morning sets the tone for the rest of the day. I am not the type of person to hit the snooze button 5 times, in fact, I don’t really need an alarm clock to wake up! I actually prefer to wake up naturally because truthfully the sound of an alarm clock annoys me and I would rather that NOT be the first thing I hear when I wake up each morning. Granted if I have to wake up at 4 AM for some reason, then yes an alarm clock is needed, but most mornings my body naturally wakes up around 5:30-7 AM. I can not sleep in for the life of me…

Each morning may be different depending on how my day is looking. Since I do not have to head into an office or necessarily be somewhere most days by 9 AM, I still like to get up each day around the same time and have a routine because even though I am working from home, I am still working! I think that it is even more important that I establish a schedule now that I work from home because it allows me to wake up, focus, get dressed, be more productive since I am my own boss, and begin my day without wasting time. 

Since my days are pretty out of the ordinary and different week by week and honestly some days I don’t even know what I have going on that day, I like to start (and end too!) my days the same; relaxed, calm, slow. 

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maintaining life while traveling

when you are traveling the LAST thing you want to be thinking about is stomach pains, when and where you are going to be working out to ease your anxiety, whether you can eat anything on the menus of the places you are going to be visiting, how bloated you’re going to be and will any notice, if you’re going to have symptoms of IBS-D or C, how you’re going to maintain your normal routine at home, and really any other fear or stress that could cause your body to tense up, preventing you from FULLY enjoying yourself on your trip, and completely change your personality to the point that you would rather stay home.

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Anxiety: Yoga poses, Foods to help, Sleep!

ANXIETY! SLEEP! Falling asleep can be one of the most difficult things to do. Sometimes I think so hard about falling asleep that I think I psych myself out, become even more anxious about it and end up not sleeping at all! I also wake up most nights, anywhere from 2-4 AM hungry and experience major anxiety attacks. Anxiety is a difficult thing for most people to understand unless they have truly experienced it first hand. You may not always be able to see it physically on a person and it can be easy for someone to tell you to calm down, but in reality you just can't. Whenever I've told someone about them they respond "oh" or if I ever have one in public during the day, which is not often, they are always in the middle of the night, usually the people I am with back away and are completely helpless as to what to do and think I am crazy. 

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Why I Decided to Eat Meat Again

I’ve been wanting to write this post for a while and when I asked many of you the other week what you wanted me to talk about, this topic, had the most hits. I was surprised and had so many thoughts flood through my mind. 

Mainly wondering a few things. If people were/are feeling sick, experiencing low energy levels, and an overall sense of ‘blah’ maintaining a vegan lifestyle like myself when I was a vegan, curious to start incorporating meats again, or if their body is actually craving meat and wondering how to approach this.

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Balancing Act

Question: Do you feel that you’re doing everything “right” but still feel run down, bloated, experience flares, and that you are still getting sick?

This one I get A LOT. My answer: All the time. In a perfect world, I would love to be able to completely manage my stress, rid myself of my anxiety attacks, sleep the same number of hours each night, and know what foods worked exactly for my body ALL the time, but I am human and I don’t. I don’t have it balanced ALL of the time, and you should understand and realize, not everyone else does either. HOWEVER, I do have it together more times than I don't, considering how far I have come- where I am today and where I was before- there is a major difference. I juggle my to do lists as well as my commitments every single day to the best of my ability and at the end of the day be as satisfied with it as I can as well as stay positive about what I have accomplished; relinquishing what I can not control. That is key. 

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Tuesday Threads 2: Social Situations & Digestive health

This week I wanted to address how to deal with digestive health issues in social situations, traveling, or even around the holidays. How do you defend yourself and your lifestyle choices. How to overcome those feelings of being insecure. Simply, how to just be YOU. 

First and foremost. WHO CARES. Why do you need to defend yourself to anyone. If living your life, the way that you want to, makes you happy, makes you feel your best, does it matter? It shouldn’t, but of course it does. We all have feelings of insecurity, we all want to be liked, accepted, and thought of by other people as how we see ourselves. Even I feel that way, we are all human. Every day I have moments of self doubt, feel insecure about my body, my self worth, and question my own life and the path that I am on. It can be even harder when you are struggling with something that someone else, your friends, significant other, parents, strangers, whomever simply do not understand. Such as, digestive health issues, anxiety, eating disorders, you name it. It took me a while to be comfortable sharing the types of digestive health issues that I had and being so opened about it to my friends, family, and you- my instagram/blog world. You go through stages, you’re embarrassed, scared, nervous to talk about it, fear others will judge you, you hate that you have them and everyone else seems to be so “perfect,” and it begins to control and define your life. The worst, when you are starting a new relationship. Oh My God. You hold a grudge against your friends, family, and anyone in your circle and maybe even ostracize yourself from social settings because you are tired of explaining yourself, fear of eating certain things and feeling terrible after, scared to turn down drinks and being made fun of etc. Seriously, so exhausting and actually quite depressing!! 

What to do: What do you do when you’re out with your friends and you may have gone over board either with the alcohol or have eaten foods you are intolerant to or that simply do not agree with your stomach/should be completely avoiding if you have IBS, leaky gut, SIBO or any other digestive health complication. What do you do when you are feeling so terrible; reads: severe bloating, cramps, severe abdominal pain, headaches/migraines, anxiety attacks, brain fog, IBS-D/C and you desperately want to cancel but either have canceled one too many times, simply can't miss it, or fear the repercussions from your social circle. It is sometimes so hard to plan ahead when you simply do not know how you are going to feel that day. 

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Tuesday Threads 1 : Digestion

After writing part I and part II of the digestion posts, I had an overwhelming outreach of questions, thank you's, and comments. I was blown away as to how many of us suffer from digestive health issues as well as how many of us feel isolated, lost, and completely helpless as to finding solutions and simply how to feel your best. Hearing from you all made me happy, because I love being able to talk about this aspect of my life since it is a huge part and it also made me feel a sense of community. I wanted to keep that going and answer as many of the questions as I could. While reading through, many had similar underlining tones and I realized that if one person is asking this question, I am sure someone else is thinking it as well. (or at least I think!) So, it brings me here to Tuesday Threads. I wanted to start a bi-weekly section on my blog and eventually weekly to answer your questions about digestion, anxiety, and really anything else there is! Every other week I will lump the questions together, anywhere from 5-8 at a time, that are similar and talk about them. I don't want to limit the questions to be about digestion, but since that has been much of the focus thus far, it is a starting point, but there is so much more to life and my life that I want to share. I also, don't want it to be primarily question based, some weeks I may dedicated posts to one topic and so forth, but for now, I wanted to start this new section on my blog this way. so here it goes:

how long did it take to heal your stomach? How long did you have to avoid certain foods? (such as coffee, fruits, nightshades, grains, etc).

I like to think that I am constantly healing my stomach and the process is never ending. This isn’t supposed to sound daunting or for you to throw in the towel, but there may be days, weeks, or months that I feel amazing but that doesn’t mean I am going to go crazy and eat all the foods I couldn’t before. However, if I am feeling good and I know that I will be attending an event or meeting a friend, I might order something that has the potential to bother my stomach. This “potential” thing, is something that I enjoy; whether it be dessert, something with a little caffeine, or whatever else.  I do this for many reasons- life is all about balance and being positive towards the foods that you are eating.  I eat very well on a day to day basis, I work out regularly and because of this there is wiggle room for my body. I know my limit on alcohol, coffee, sweets, etc and will stop at that. Too much will cause days or weeks of re-healing my stomach, my mental state, migraines; my body- something I am not interested in, when I know that the cause was self inflicted.  This isn’t a negative mindset for me, or a “I will be better on Monday” thinking process, this is “I am enjoying the company of someone else,” mindfully indulging and being at peace with my decision. 

If you are looking for a timeline, know that everyone will be different. I started experiencing all of these problems in college (almost 10 years ago, yikes!) and there were times where I had to avoid all grains, gluten, dairy (still do), nuts, coffee, anything too acidic, raw veggies, honestly it seemed like I had to avoid everything. When I took rounds of antibiotics I felt as if I could eat everything, I probably took a round of antibiotics every 6 months and each time they worked less and less. For one summer, honestly all I could eat was chicken and grapefruit, they were the only two things that didn’t bother my stomach. It was bad and that was probably my lowest point. After about 3 or so years of that routine, I quit cold turkey on the medication, changed doctors, and experimented with different foods myself. It wasn’t until then I saw a change. In the last three years, I have only had to go take antibiotics once because my SIBO and leaky gut came back pretty bad. I had terrible bloating, migraines, I was having pretty bad reactions to foods that were normally “safe” for me, and overall felt a sense of tiredness, depression, and was completely rundown. My sugar cravings were at an all time high and I was not satisfied after any meal, I was either constantly hungry or couldn't eat at all without feeling sick. Considering all things, that is actually amazing since I went from taking medication every 6 months for 3 years to only 1x in three years. So, there is no timeline, it is essentially up to you. How serious you want to be in the healing stages. If you focus on eating the foods that will make you feel your best and truly heal your stomach you will be on your way to feeling better more days than not. You will have set backs, I still do! I may be great for a month or 3 months, then I will have terrible flares for a week or 2 in any given month. It is usually brought on by stress, hormonal, food related, lack of sleep or some other issue. I would say, notice how you feel after certain foods, if you feel any adverse affects (bloating, headaches, skin rashes, IBS-C/D, brain fog, mood swings etc) then stop eating it. Give your body a few weeks off, test it again and see if there are the same affects. I still do this on a constant basis and for now I’ve found a happy medium on when I can enjoy foods that normally bother my stomach or that I’ve had to completely stay away from the in the past. You will know immediately upon eating certain foods whether it agrees with you or not.

Things to take away: if it bothers you, stay away and test it again in a few weeks. Change up your “diet” everyday, do not over eat the same foods every day, experiment with spices for flavor, find moderation and balance in all foods - what works for YOU, not the person next to you or your friends. Let others inspire you, but not dictate how you should eat. It is beneficial for our bodies to constantly change up the foods that we are eating. I know that every few months my body changes and I go through periods of not being able to eat foods that I could in the past because I may have over done it; which is why I think variety is so key. I will also say, that my body thrives on finding a routine and balance; mentally, physically, and how I eat. More to come on that.

How did you find out?

Tests! After first, doctors explained to me that this was something that I would have to deal with for the rest of my life and there was nothing that could really be done.  This was not the answer I wanted to hear. I decided to see a gastroenterologist, a specialist, in hopes to figure out ways to help alleviate the pain that I was going through and was given the routine tests. The first was the upper GI exam, where I had to drink liquid barium, which coats the esophagus, stomach, and small intestine and shows up on the x-ray. Second, was called Radioisotope gastric-emptying scan, also called the egg & toast test. I had to eat eggs that contained a small amount of radioisotope and then lie under a scanning machine.  If the scan shows that more than 10% of the food was still in your stomach 4 hours after eating, then you are diagnosed with gastroparesis. For me, I think the eggs just made it past my throat after 7 hours. It was taking SO long they finally sent me home. Third, I had a colonoscopy to check for cancer. Lastly, I went through many CAT SCANS and blood tests to check for further issues or illnesses.  It was a long & scary process and I sympathize with anyone that has gone through it or is currently going through it now. After all of the tests were completed and the results were given, I was diagnosed with gastroparesis, IBS-C, and distension of the abdomen.  Pretty much you feel as if you have a watermelon in your stomach at all times, constantly full, severe pain and really just feeling like crap. I also showed symptoms of leaky gut and small bacterial over growth causing me to develop a high sensitivity to fructans. Which, is why I stay away from sugar (even limit honey, dates, maple syrup; tolerate small amounts) and many fruits. I also have to avoid dairy, because of an allergy, which should be avoided regardless if you have stomach issues such as mine. So, all those fruit free smoothies and low sugar snacks I make are not just a fad or me following a trend, its been a way of life for me for MANY many years. If you think something is off, follow your intuition and see your doctor! Don’t try and self diagnose or follow what others are doing. Hopefully I am here to inspire you through my journey, but you know your body best!

How did this happen?

Short answer, I have no idea. Long answer, I have a few, one which I will eventually tackle on my blog to come. Other reasons, potentially: years of taking antibiotics, poor diet when I was younger and throughout college, and simply not properly taking care of my body. Thinking exercise was enough and looking healthy on the outside was enough to get by- and that is the key word, I was simply getting by. Turning to medication, antibiotics and over-the-counter medications was a no brainer and I never thought twice about what I was putting into my body. If I had a cold or if I was suffering from something more serious, medication was the solution, always. I never thought how it would affect my body and mental state in the long run, it was more of how quickly can I heal with the strongest medication there was/is available. Now, my attitude towards medication is completely different. If I have to ever take antibiotics, I will do my research. I will admit that I have to take medication every single evening for my migraines and if I don’t I will end up in the hospital. Unfortunately, I am the type that is prone to them, and have more than 15 migraines (not headaches, migraines- there is a big difference) a month and without the medication I simply can not live my life day to day. I will also make sure that I am nourishing my body while I am taking medication or antibiotics for any reason. Now, knowing that there is potential that healthy bacteria in my gut, is killed while taking antibiotics, I do everything in my power to feed my body. I’m more of aware of the foods to turn to, the superfoods, probiotics, and the types of foods that I need in order to restore my gut health. You can read more of some of the healing foods I turn to here, on my two part digestion post.  

When I was younger and in college, I never thought twice about the foods I was eating; take out, coffee, alcohol, dairy, I was a self proclaimed pepsi addict, or I just didn't eat. I honestly didn't realize how much food affected everything; from your skin, your mental state, your gut health, sleep, or your hormones. Now, for the most part, I try and think of how certain foods will make me feel and eat foods for clear skin, to balance my hormones, help with my gut health, improve my migraines and so forth. It can be challenging and time consuming, but it is better than feeling worn out, sick, bloated, or irritated ALL the time. Meal prepping is key and is beneficial to always have food on hand during the week. It gives you a peace of mind knowing there is food already prepared that can be literally thrown together within a matter of minutes. This way, you always have the option to eat healthy and for the most part feel your best, energized, and ready for the day. 

What are my triggers?

I have different triggers for each thing that my body goes through; migraines, IBS, leaky gut, gastroparesis, SIBO, anxiety attacks, but in a way they are all related and connected to one another. Most of the time when I am experiencing my flares, it isn’t an isolated situation. I am not sure if I consider myself lucky or just fortunate that I have been able to for the most part nail down my triggers for my migraines. For me, I have to be careful around red wine, even the smell alone can trigger, packaged deli meats, any product containing nitrates, some white fish (shrimp), the weather (high levels of humidity) and the hardest ones to manage; lack of sleep and stress. Whenever my doctor tells me to get more sleep and stress less, I am like….??? Stress and lack of sleep is also a major contributing factor to my IBS which in turn affects my gastroparesis as well as leaky gut and SIBO. The less sleep I get throughout the weeks and the worse I am about managing my stress and taking care of my well being the more migraines I will suffer from, the more bloating I will physically feel, the less I will be able to eat, the more negative reactions to food I will feel, the more my IBS will act up and so forth! I will have a build up of toxins in my body that will cause tremendous bloating, IBS-D and C, and pain in my abdomen. In a future post, I will come back to stress, sleep, and anxiety. You can see how important it is to truly take care of yourself. It isn't selfish in doing so. It is allowing you to live your best life. I won’t go into too much detail about foods that I have to avoid because for example, my body changes constantly. At times I’ve had to remove eggs, salmon, peanut butter, chicken, or apples out of my diet to name a few, then months will pass by and I am able to eat said foods without an issue. As mentioned before I do limit sugar tremendously (agave, high fructose corn syrup, any types of syrups and stick to small quantities of dates, honey and maple syrup in recipes). I also do limit nightshade vegetables, grains, and make a conscious effort to constantly add variety each week to my meals as well as mindfully eat/chew every single meal. It sounds silly, but eating your meal without distractions makes a huge difference especially if you suffer from digestive issues. I think that if you are at the beginning stages of figuring everything out and feel helpless, keeping a food journal is a great idea. At the same time, I am very against them. Personally speaking, I believe they can trigger old habits or start new ones for people, cause you to overthink / become anxious around food, and allow you to become to rigid in your lifestyle. I do believe that jotting down notes after certain meals if you felt “off,” noticed signs of headaches, fatigue, bloating, or brain fog is a great idea! I used to do that, now I do it mentally. I make a mental note of how I felt both mentally and physically and make the decision to myself if I want to either cut the food out of of my diet completely, take a break from it and reintroduce it again in a few weeks, or keep it only have it every so often. As you can see your body probably changes as does mine. I am constantly figuring out what foods work and which ones do not, but have a better grasp and understanding of what foods I need to stay away from and which foods nourish my body, simply by experimentation. Which, I believe is the best way to figure out if any food will work for you or not, rather than listening to someone else. You need to figure out what works for you, and you only.

So this is a start. There are so many more questions that I want to touch upon and have received that I can't wait to dive deeper into. Questions range from my work outs to alleviate digestive pain, anxiety, and migraines, how I went from being a vegan to eating meat, how to deal with these issues while traveling, social pressures, and so many more that I love. I am hoping that these answers, questions, discussions are meaningful, helpful, and become something that I can continue to write about every two weeks for now and eventually once a week.  I would love to hear from you! Comments, questions, whatever; leave here or send in an email if you feel more comfortable!