2 Years and Still Pressing On

While on vacation we hit the 2 year mark of us changing the way we eat, the way we look at food, the way we grocery shop, and the way we pretty much do life. It’s been quite a crazy 2 years. We’ve learned so much about ourselves, about our weaknesses, and what foods are most difficult to give up (dairy and chocolate!). We’ve learned how cheating just isn’t worth it and sticking to a mostly paleo diet is simply what works best for our family. We feel healthiest and best when we eat meat, fruits and veggies and keep the other stuff (starches–potatoes, bread, grains of any kind–sweets, pop) to a minimum, or in my case not at all on the grains. I did a long post last year about all the changes we had made in our first year. You can look at that list here. We have continued with these changes and have added a few others.

One of the biggest things we’ve started doing is seeing a chiropractor on a regular basis. I wrote about that here. I know it’s helping to keep us healthy, and I’m looking forward to seeing how much healthier our winter will be. For Cora, who always gets sinus infections during the fall/winter, she’s been getting sinus massages the past few times we’ve gone. We see the effects (eyes and nose running) of the massage as it’s happening. This is helping to keep her sinuses clear, and the thought is this will prevent infections. She’s already had 1 sinus infection (before we started doing the massages), and I’m praying it’ll be the only one. 

I have been doing a lot more baking using almond meal, coconut flour and garbanzo bean flour. So far the things I’ve made have been good and are things David says he doesn’t mind eating! One thing I probably make the most often are biscuits. We all like them and though they’re made with almond meal and not wheat flour David says they remind him most of the biscuits his grandmother used to make. I have lots more recipes to try, but so far I’m having fun learning to bake differently and learning the different qualities of the different meals/flours. 

Something we have discovered is we are a family who is trying to become as natural and chemical-free as possible. This means I am cleaning exclusively with a tea tree oil/water mixture, baking soda and vinegar. I clean our fruits/veggies in vinegar and water and make our laundry detergent. We don’t burn scented candles or use air fresheners of any kind. This has helped our allergies and the biggest improvement is David’s asthma, which is pretty much non-existant now! I am beginning the long process of researching the things to avoid in hair care products and make up. Changing these things in our home is the next big thing I need to do. We’ve come so far in our attempts to live a healthier life, and this is one area that has seemed very overwhelming to me. However, I (we) believe it’s the next step. We have the food pretty much figured out, and the cleaning products. Now, we need to finish with our own personal care products. 

We are also going to be adding regular exercise to our routine. Now that I’m entering my 3rd year of the best health I’ve ever been in there is no excuse to NOT exercise! I hate to do it, but I know it needs to be done. 

What have we learned thus far? Change is hard. Change takes time. Change can often be a daily struggle. Change is good. There are a lot of benefits to change despite the difficulty in it. And, most change is absolutely worth it! What is 1 thing you can change in your daily life TODAY to put yourself on the road to better health? I encourage you to do it! If you make just 1 change a week, or month, you’ll be further ahead than the person not making any changes at all. 

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Taco Seasoning

With all of our changes in our health and eating I have had to become more creative about cooking. I’ve had to make pretty much everything from scratch and basically can’t do anything with packets of seasonings. This includes taco seasoning. Tacos are a huge favorite in our family. It seems to be the one meal that EVERYONE likes (Ben pretty much eats his body weight in taco meat), so we have it frequently. For a long while I was able to use McCormick’s taco seasoning packet, however, I have noticed that they’re putting corn and wheat in their packets now. So, I went to the almighty internet and started looking around. I found a recipe and have been using it for months now. To me recipes are merely a suggestion, so I have, of course, adjusted things according to our tastes. And, honestly I just dump the spices in. We really enjoy it and it’s nice to know exactly what we’re eating. Here’s the actual recipe as I found it online! 🙂

Taco Seasoning:

1 Tbsp chili powder

1/2 Tbsp cumin

1/2 tsp onion powder

1/4 tsp garlic powder

1/2 tsp oregano

1/2 tsp salt

pinch of cayenne

–Brown 1 lb of ground meat; drain fat; add above seasonings and 1/4 c water. Simmer for 5 min and enjoy!

Finally

Rebekah was my 3rd pregnancy, my 3rd labor/delivery, my 3rd child being born. And, I was sure her birth would be another disappointment. When both Cora and Ben were born I had a plan in my mind, even written down. I wanted little to no medical intervention and wanted my body to do what it had to do to get the job done. However, Cora’s birth was not at all that way! I had everything in the textbooks thrown at me. I was induced which led to all sorts of things and other interventions. Not at all what I wanted. We knew things had to be different when I was pregnant with Ben. We had moved to a different state and city with a lot more options. I found a place that had midwives and thought we would have the birth experience we wanted with Cora. Though Ben’s birth was better, there was still too much intervention. I was still pressured to have things done that I was not wanting. My desires weren’t at all listened to and well, we had another chaotic birth. After Ben was born I got online and decided to spend time researching what options we had around us. We live in a big area that is noted for its medical care, and I prayed there would be something that would be better than what we had experienced. I found a holistic birthing center that was located about 30-40 minutes away for us. I wasn’t pregnant at the time of finding this place but knew that if I did become pregnant this would be the place for us. I’m so glad we went there!

The whole process was so much better. I was NOT hooked up to an IV “just in case,” they put me on a baby and contraction monitor for about 20 minutes and took my blood pressure I think once or twice. That was it. After all that I was left to labor as I felt most comfortable. There was absolutely NO pressure to do anything other than what I wanted. I was not pressured to start pitocin, or get an epidural or anything. I was calmly told to just breathe and let my body do what it was meant to do. I was excited to have a water birth and excited that I was encouraged to have one. When things got really intense for me I was told to focus and just do what my body was telling me to do. After Rebekah came out she was not quickly whisked away to be weighed, measured, poked and prodded. We were allowed to be together for as long as we wanted. Well, that’s not entirely true because the cord was coming away from the placenta. However, once I delivered the placenta I was given Rebekah (who had not had any tests run on her or anything, David got to hold her until I was able). We were able to snuggle, nurse, just be together. We were that way for over an hour. No rushing about, no pressuring to take her to do their tests on her, nothing. We were just allowed to be mommy and baby as long as we wanted. They kept a BP cuff on me for about an hour, checked my temp once and that was it. I was not hooked up to stuff, I could feel my legs and lower body right away, I had no swelling or water retention. I had none of the pain that I’ve had with my previous 2 births. I had torn a very small amount, but the midwife said it really wasn’t worth a stitch unless I really wanted it. Nope, and I haven’t felt any pain from that.

We were able to have a non-chaotic birth, finally. I went in with no expectations and came out having all hopes met more than I thought they would be. We were discharged 25 hrs after Rebekah was born and were never once made to feel like we were being held captive. It was so nice. We were able to sleep all night, I was not monitored but 2 or 3 times and was never woken up to have it done. If the nurses saw I was sleeping they left and came back when I was awake. I felt I was able to actually sleep, rest and recuperate. It was so amazing. We left feeling relaxed, rested (as much as is possible), and I had more energy when I left then I’ve ever had after giving birth. I’m so thankful to the Lord for leading us to this place and for hearing the secret prayers of my heart. I’m so thankful that finally we were able to have a non-chaotic birth!

So Simple!

My sister had her 4th baby in early April, our nephew Micah. She had a home birth, delivered him in the water, and it was just a beautiful thing! I was so privileged to be a part of it. Before my nephew was born my sister told me she was going to be getting her placenta encapsulated. WHAT??? I was quite taken back, but I wanted to know more and so heard her out. Turns out placenta encapsulation has been done for a long time. It comes from ancient Chinese practices. Why on earth would my sister do this? Well, studies and history has shown that ingesting the placenta after birth has many benefits. The woman is given back her hormones and nutrients that are custom to her body. This helps with postpartum depression, baby blues, aides in milk production, and I’m sure there are so many other benefits as well. The pills can also be taken during menopause and are shown to help with mood swings and hormonal changes during that time as well.

So, how is this all done? Well, the placenta is dehydrated, ground up and put into capsules. You take a pill a day for a few weeks, keep the leftovers in the freezer and pull them out to take during menopause. I’m sure there are different “prescriptions” for this, and I’m not entirely sure what my sister’s was. Mine has been to take 1-2 capsules 3 times a day for 2 weeks and then as needed, such as during a stressful time, or during menopause.

I was convinced (as was my husband) that I needed to do the same as my sister when we saw just how wonderfully she was doing after giving birth to my nephew. Postpartum depression is something both of us have really struggled with. Let me tell you, I saw my sister a week after she gave birth, and I had never seen her looking, acting and feeling so good that soon after giving birth. She was doing so well (and so much different) that even my husband noticed! We were convinced this was something I needed to do as well. I found a lady online who does encapsulation in my area and set everything up with her.

I have not felt this good after giving birth ever. I have so much energy, I feel like my moods/hormones/emotions are more even and not fluctuating all over the place, and I feel absolutely no depression whatsoever. David has noticed such a difference, and we do not regret getting this done at all.

Yes, it sounds weird, even gross to have ones’ placenta encapsulated. However, after reading about it, and seeing with my own eyes the benefits of doing so, I’m so glad I did. Yeah, it’s gross to think about sometimes, but honestly I can’t believe I didn’t know about this before. I would have certainly taken advantage. It’s a small price to pay for sanity! I feel great, my sister feels great, and I will be encouraging pregnant women to have this done. It’s a very natural way to help yourself feel so much better after giving birth and it’s as simple as swallowing a pill!

See? Not so scary! Just look like big vitamins!

See? Not so scary! Just look like big vitamins!

Pure and Utter Frustration

I was so excited to see a flour at our local grocery store that I could eat, or so I thought I could! It consists of NO grains, or soy, and it’s even dairy free. Seemed like a good idea. And, the price was good so we got 2-2 lb bags, and I was so excited thinking of all the things I could eat now! Of course, the first thing I did was make pancakes! They were so delicious! I had them earlier last week. Didn’t notice much of a reaction so I thought I was home-free. I made them again later in the week and felt pretty terrible that day. Ate the rest of the pancakes the following morning and felt even worse. I do believe there’s something in the flour affecting me. I have also learned that Bob’s Red Mill cross-contaminates (meaning, they don’t  use different machines for gluten/gluten-free stuff), so that could very well be the issue too. The package may say “wheat/gluten/dairy free” but if they don’t use different machines, and who knows how well those machines are cleaned, I could very well be getting wheat dust anyway. I’m really frustrated. However, it just shows me AGAIN, that I can’t cheat. Eating fruit, veggies and meat really does seem to be the only way for me to eat and not get sick afterward. I guess I’ll save these other flours for very special occasions, but it’s obvious this stuff can not be part of my normal diet.

Oh, you might be wondering what clued me in to the flour being the culprit? Well, other than it being the only new introduction into my diet, my stomach felt HORRIBLE, I thought I was going to throw up, I was in a fog, felt like I couldn’t function, had a headache, my nose was all plugged up, I was very irritable. Yeah, it’s not fun. So, I shall give my body several weeks to get all this out of my system and try again and see what happens. If I react the same then we know there’s something in the flour–I’m wondering also if it’s the tapioca or potato starches? Time will tell. Until then, I’m very frustrated!

Holistic vs. Conventional

If you’ve been reading my blog for a while you know that our family has taken on more of a holistic approach to medicine and health. After years of testing and blood-giving it was obvious I needed to find another way to figure out what was happening in my body. We went the holistic route. We have been so pleased with the results. The overall health of our whole family has improved since all of the changes we’ve made and continue to make. I was thinking that it might be confusing to some when they read that we take our kids to a pediatrician, who practices conventional medicine and is not holistic, at all. Or, other such things.

We are trying to find a balance in our life. We do not feel holistic medicine is THE only way to go about finding health. We DO believe there is still room for conventional medicine. We still take antibiotics (though try to do so as seldom as possible). We vaccine our children because we believe the diseases we’re trying to prevent are FAR worse then the temporary side affects the kids might get from the vaccine. David and I believe there is a time and place for such doctors as cardiologists, endocrinologists, brain doctors, OB/GYNs, etc. We are not against any of that. What we have come to find is that if you take care of yourself on a “basic” level–mostly meaning what you eat (or don’t eat) and eliminating toxins from your body–you’re need of the conventional doctors and specialists decreases significantly. I guess you could say we see the holistic side of medicine as preventative so we don’t need the other doctors later in life.

I suppose some would say this is wishy-washy, or we should pick one or the other and deal with the consequences. I say BAH! to that person! I don’t believe life is any or none, all or nothing, this or that. I really do believe there is a time and a place for holistic and conventional medicine. This is how we choose to live our life. We have found great success in our health using both and keeping a balanced outlook on the usage of both. Again, I say, if you’re healthy and doing what you can to take care of the body God gave you then keep it up! If you know there is room for improvement, then you need to figure out the best way to do that improving. Just don’t stay where you are. Make the changes you need–you won’t regret it!

A Little More Tweaking

I’ve been wondering for over a month now if rice and I are not getting along. It seems whenever I eat it I get a really bad belly ache and the usual grain-related after-affects. I’ve also figured out that dairy is doing more to me then just giving me indigestion. I’ve been cheating way too much with dairy and have been paying for it big time. End of last week I went back to my holistic doctor (first time since I was 7 weeks pregnant–yes, life just got away from me!). I felt it was necessary to get checked out and make sure I’m getting what I need right now during pregnancy. I asked him to test me on rice and sure enough, I tested bad for that. And, he noticed other things were going on and said, “Have I said no dairy before?” Yes, yes, you have…the areas of my body that were testing weak were mostly due to the dairy and then followed by the rice. Soooooo…I really need to crack down on myself and rid my body of the dairy!

We had our holistic doctor check out Cora as well. She’s been complaining for months of a tummy ache. We thought, at first, it was a stall tactic for going to bed. But, it has continued and so we decided to have him check her out. She did a fabulous job (of course, it helps that the holistic experience is not at all painful or invasive!) with the testing and was such a big girl! What did we find? Well, DAIRY and refined sugar are really affecting her. Boo. She’s our cheese and milk girl so this is going to be a hard transition. But, it would seem dairy gives a lot of issues to a lot of people, and it seems to run in the family (Ben is basically dairy free for the ways it affects him).

And so, we as a family continue to tweak the way in which we nourish ourselves. We are going to mostly eliminate dairy from our house (because if it’s not in the house we won’t be tempted to eat it), and I’m going to make a more concerted effort to put other forms of “milk” into our diet, such as almond or coconut. I’m also going to be baking/cooking more with honey, maple syrup (real syrup, not the flavored corn syrup) and unprocessed sugar (like, Raw Sugar). It will improve our family’s health, our children’s health and it’ll help our bodies function so much better. Does this seem radical to you? Well, maybe it is, however, we’re on a quest to improve our health for life. We want to treat our bodies with respect. It’s not going to be easy, but it’s worth it. And so, we continue to tweak. It’s a process. It’s not something we’ve done all in one day. We’re tweaking our process, and we’re making changes as we learn them and as we find the need to do so. What small change can you make in your life TODAY?