an unbalanced life

I often get asked how I reached a point of plant-based eating and the person I am talking to is generally shocked to hear it did not begin as an ethical OR weight loss decision. It also came after I had lost 50+ pounds and had been maintaining that along with what I, and many others, considered a healthy weight and life. I am fortunate in that my weight does not yo-yo outside of my 5 or so pounds, I don’t struggle to eat well and exercise comes easy to me both mentally and physically (usually). Yet despite all these factors in alignment, I was not okay. Prior to my weight loss I had an unhealthy relationship with food, clinically would be diagnosed as having an eating disorder (despite being overweight), and the physical discomfort I felt was something that had simply become normal to me. I had went to the doctor numerous times over the years for my stomach issues, all of which were dismissed with a “you’re young, lose some weight”.

So. I did.

Unsurprising in hindsight, neither my relationship with food nor my physical issues changed. I still felt bloated constantly, was pretty moody, extremely emotional, was constipated non-stop, my skin was questionable, I had nasty PMS and periods, my joints literally throbbed (I was 25 at the time), heartburn… and this was AFTER “getting healthy”.

It was at this point that I decided to take control of the situation. I began to actually research what I was eating, how my body was working and how it could be better. Up until this point I had basically been following an “everything in moderation” mindset and focusing on calories in and calories out. This concept works well for weight loss (there’s no denying this) but is not optimum for health. My mental relationship with food was still … not okay. (You can read this post on my feelings about moderation and the mental toll it can take on a person.) While I would no longer be classified as bulimic, had mostly gotten my emotional eating into a healthy place, I was still scale obsessed, stressing constantly about simple things like having to eat in a restaurant, physically felt all the same pre-weight loss symptoms short of those directly related to the weight loss and introduction of regular exercise (more stamina, had slightly more energy..) and overall was just an unhealthy place.

Through my readings I had come across many articles, studies and books that resonated with me so hard. Everytime I would look into my symptoms past the usual weight loss, pill gimmicks that would pop up first in my searches, Most of what I read was connected back to a alternative health (or as I like to call it “original health). So I did my due dillgence and enrolled in a Holistic Nutrition Program.  As I worked my way through all.the.sciences classes I learned about the inner workings of the body, and what made it tick. I also began to connect the dots back to my own health and  a pattern emerged: gut and hormone health. I had always associated hormones with  post-partum or menopausal women, not ‘healthy’ 26-year-olds who was most defintely not going through menopause. And gut health? yeah, no. As soon as I heard the term ‘gut health’ I, for some reason, envisioned explosive diarrhea and stomach worms, neither of which I had! (Hey, it was a learning experience!)

I was fortunate enough at this point to find a new family doctor who had 2 children – one diagnosed with Celiac and another heavily gluten-sensitive.  This was a total game changer for me. Many people think Celiac disease is just a food allergy, but it’s actually an autoimmune disease. When someone has an autoimmune disease their body quite literally is attacking itself.  NO WONDER I FELT LIKE SOMEONE WAS EATING MY INSIDES.  The symptoms experienced by Celiacs and anyone else suffering from one of the many autoimmune diseases out there are so broad, often vague, seem to have no connection to each other  and vary from person to person.

As I researched Celiac Disease beyond the basic understanding of avoiding gluten, I began to take an extra interest in the inner workings of hormones and gut health. Our hormones and bacteria quite literally have the ability to make or break our health. They control our moods and mental health, our body’s ability to absorb nutrients, our digestive system and health of our organs.. again, seriously. NO WONDER I FELT LIKE CRAP. It didn’t matter what I was putting into my body, my body was attacking itself and making me sick.

When I switched to a gluten-free diet and lifestyle, I also took the opprtunity to switch to a plant-based diet. I still ate animal products, but 95% of my meals were completely plant-based (I allowed for a buffer, family events etc.). The key to healing your guts, supporting your adrenals (the hormone hub),  endocrine system (the carrier of the hormone ‘messages’), building up your immunity and supporting overall health was nutrients and a strong, healthy digestive system.  As I was reading and further educating myself I simply could not find a valid reason not to switch to plant-based diet. All I kept coming up with was reasons to do it, and questions to dispute an animal-based diet. If I’m supporting my digestive system to aid in it’s healing, why would I provide it with slow and hard to digest rotting animal? Why would I put dairy, which is even getting a bad rap from mainstream health advocates, into my body when it has shown to increase inflammation and be linked to so many health problems? Why would I not just give my body easy to break down and absorb plant-based foods instead?

This was 6 years ago, and to this day I still ask those same questions. As the years have went on, I have had a couple pregnancies, breastfed, had to adjust to the hormones of those events, plus normal life stresses and I still feel my healthiest self on a plant-based diet.

Anytime I feel myself becoming moody, grouchy, easy stressed out, sleepless, bloated, tempted to binge or craving junk food, fatigued  or any of those other symptoms sneaking up on me I immediately know why: I’m straying from a plant-based approach and my gut and hormones are becoming unbalanced. Sometimes this is because I just really wanted real cheese on my pizza or I simply became lazy and started to buy more and more premade vegan foods.  Within a matter of days once I switch back to fresh, whole plant-based meals I feel the return of my healthy,  normal self.

…whatever normal is…

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Deliciously Light and Refreshing Apple and Fennel Salad

Repost: This was a post from a few years back, when I was transitioning to a plant-based diet. This remains of my favorite flavors to date!

I took out a book from the library called 125 Gluten Free Vegetarian Recipes and promptly began flipping through the pages sticky tabbing anything that I thought might resemble a tasty meal. Lonny did the same. One of the items he marked off was an Apple and Fennel Salad.

Fact: Most people have no idea what fennel is.

If you are one of these people, have no fear. It’s wonky looking, and can be found generally in the produce section under the little mister things – you know, where all the bok choy, beets, asparagus business is stored.  And they’re super cheap. I think the whole thing was $1.75 or something crazy.

As usual, adjust amounts accordingly..and feel free to substitute for what’s available in your kitchen!

This recipe is suppose to serve 4 as sides. I ate it alone  as 2 lunches.

What You Need:

  • 1 unpeeled Granny Smith apple, cored and thinly sliced
  • 1 unpeeled red apple, cored and thinly sliced
  • 1 whole fennel bulb (the white bit!), sliced
  • 1 small yellow onion (omitted in my salad because I don’t like them)
  • 2 tablespoons of chopped, toasted pecans (or raw!)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons of celery seed, or to taste
  • 1 tablespoon of chopped fresh or 1 teaspoon of dried tarragon
  • 1/4 teaspoons of sea salt
  • 2 tablespoons of vinegar (apple, cider,, sherry…)
  • 2 tablespoons of canola oil (I subbed for a better olive oil)
  • 1 tablespoon of agave nectar or honey
  • 1 teaspoon of mustard or Dijon mustard
  • salt and pepper to taste

How You Do It:

  1. If you’re toasting your pecans, throw them in a hot pan for 2 – 3 minutes, if not, skip this bit!
  2. put the apples, fennel (but some of the chopped green bits if you want for flavor), onions, pecans, celery seed, tarragon and salt in a bowl
  3. In a small bowl whisk together vinegar, oil, mustard and honey/agave. Add salt and pepper if you want them.
  4. Pour as much of the dressing over the salad as you want. I suggest starting with a smaller amount and adding as you like. It’s always easier to add more than it is to somehow magically remove it.
  5. Stick that badboy into the fridge for a couple hours… or eat right away if you’re super hungry. Whatever!
Before it got all mixed up and the dressing was added! Doesn’t it look deeeelicious?!

Please, try this. Your taste buds will thank you.

Quick fact: this dish has approximately 4 grams of fiber/serving.. if you’re like me and double up your serving that’s around 8!

a plant based kitchen

As a nutritionist and someone who eats a plant-based diet, I often get asked what exactly I eat. With the removal of the meat centred plates people become incredibly curious as to what fills my belly and stocks my fridge. I’ll admit this often gives me a little chuckle because I like to presume that the meat eaters of the world don’t just have fridges full to the brim of steaks, eggs, fish and chicken breasts.

But I thought I would do a post sharing exactly what we have in our house on any given moment. We generally do one massive haul once a week, then another produce haul mid week. Sometimes a quick pop in if the menu changes due to a request and an ingredient is needed.

As much as I love to shop local, support locally owned grocery stores and farmers market, I do have to live on a budget of some sort and unfortunately the cost comparison between those places and my local Superstore are just too large. So I tend to buy the bulk of our produce at Costco or Superstore, speciality items at a couple locally owned grocery stores here, legumes I get free from a friend who manages a lentil plant (for real!!). We hit up the farmers market weekly when in season and pick up random things – we got some great sprouts and greens a couple weeks ago. We also plant our own garden and greenhouse. By shopping at the bigger box stores for staples it allows room for us to support the farmers market vendors and smaller local stores also and allows me to buy food that is mostly organic, fresh, minimal ingredients and as close to their absolute whole state as possible. And because everyone always wants to know, we generally spend around $200 a week or so on actual food items. With that being said we rarely eat out, and I don’t exactly shop for sales. That’s a big fault of mine and one I would love to improve on. I have a secret desire to be a coupon cutter and walk into the grocery store, have them scan my stuff and bam! Lay all the coupons down and watch the number decrease.

But I digress..

Dry staples include

  • Dry Beans (black and pinto)
  • Lentils (red, green, fresh)
  • Split peas
  • Chickpeas
  • quinoa
  • Rice (basmati, jasmine, usually a wild rice or plain brown rice)
  • Steel cut oats
  • A box of Gluten free Pasta (minimal ingredients, high fibre)
  • A loaf each of a gf bread and regular (kept in the freezer because we hardly eat bread! Little Northern Bakehouse is my go-to for gf and anything from Silver Hills for non gf)
  • Popcorn (it’s a staple)
  • Rice noodles
  • Ramen noodles (lotus foods are my go-to brand

Produce bought and consumed weekly

  • 3-5 pounds of apples, mandarins, lemons, potatoes
  • 3-5 cucumbers
  • 10 tomatoes
  • 7-8 peppers
  • 2 pound bag of carrots
  • 2 large bags/containers of spinach
  • 8-10 heads of romaine
  • Kale
  • 1 red onion
  • 2 heads of cauliflower
  • Zucchini
  • 3 jalapeños
  • Grapefruit
  • 20 bananas (minimum, seriously!!)
  • Container of grapes
  • Celery
  • Oranges
  • Dates (medjool)
  • Seasonal fruits as veggies such as berries, watermelon, cantaloupe, squash, eggplant, corn etc.
  • Other fruits and veggies as they are available like snap peas, pears etc.

Frozen

  • Blueberries
  • Strawberries
  • Mango
  • Pineapple
  • Peas
  • Corn

Vegan Protein and dairy alternatives:

  • Almond milk
  • Organic soy milk (our preference for golden mylk)
  • Edamame
  • Tempeh
  • Usually a bag of veggie ground and veggie nuggets in the freezer for backup
  • Vegan cheese (in the freezer, we don’t eat a lot of it)
  • Can of organic coconut milk

Nuts and Seeds

  • Chia seeds
  • Hemp hearts
  • Various nuts, raw and unsalted (hint: keep in the fridge) such as cashews, almonds, pecans, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds..
  • tahini
  • Peanut butter

Other items

  • Salsa
  • Marinara sauce
  • Gf flour
  • Coconut sugar
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Coconut oil
  • Fermented foods like kimchi, garlic, kombucha
  • Vegan butter (used sparingly)
  • Eggs (obviously not plant based or vegan but still in our house)
  • Vegan chocolate chips
  • Granola bars of some kind (we’ve been loving the KIND bars and fig bars lately!)
  • Some kind of kids treat (right now it’s the organic fruit snack from Costco)
  • Back up can or two of Amy’s organic Lentil soup (my version of a ‘fast food’ supper when we are pressed for time)
  • Normal household condiments including: rice vinegar, balsamic vinegar, Tamari sauce, Franks red hot sauce, ketchup, mustard, the husband likes Renee’s Cucumber Dill dressing so we have some of that..
  • Spices: I have an incredibly well stocked spice drawer. Getting familiar with and comfortable with spices has been the true hero in my plant based journey. I keep everything from basics like basil, oregano, parsley, ginger and garlic (fresh and dry) and cinnamon to more adventurous spices like turmeric, curry powders, byrani spice, Cajun etc.
  • Various loose leaf teas and some tea bags.
  • And that’s it! As you can see there’s nothing weird or wild in our kitchen, but we continuously eat delicious food from these basic staples. We currently have a huge batch of Chana masala in the fridge that my 4 year old is loving; we just finished up a delicious lentil salad and falafels. I generally have a pot of roasted veggies in the fridge which are perfect to throw together with a salad and some tempeh which is my go-to back up lunch when I’m feeling lazy or in a rush. Sometimes I even make it for supper .

Eating plant based doesn’t mean having to be wild or crazy; you can eat the basic of the basic normal foods. It’s all in how you cook them! Investing in or checking out from the library some plant based cookbooks is the best thing you can do. Even if you don’t love the recipes themselves at the very least I find cookbooks help me to understand what flavours work well together, what I like and don’t like and overall helped to build up my confidence in the kitchen. I do plan on sharing more recipes around these parts as time goes on, but I thought sharing my kitchen was a good start!

the self loathing outcome of moderation

Every single time I hear someone say, “eat whatever you want, just in moderation” I have to fight back the urge to both simultaneously roll my eyes and blow a fuse. The understanding and mentality behind this common phrase I completely understand – that if we are not denying ourselves anything we consider to be ‘bad’ or not serving our bodies in a nutritious way that it will somehow convince us that eating all the ‘good’ food isn’t so bad after all. A little devil to encourage the angel type of a scenario.

I call bullshit though. Over the past decade I have never once had half a spoonful of ice cream, or tiny sliver of pizza and truly felt like ahhhh yes! I’m sooo satisfied and now back to my salads. I may have tried to convince myself of that, but I’m all about keepin’ it real around here and I’ll admit that’s a total bullshit facade. All those teasers did was make me feel truly deprived. A slap in the face reminder that I was somehow not quite deserving of a entire slice or even 3 slices of pizza. And well, that’s kind of the exact oppose of what it’s suppose to do.

So instead of creating a sense of satisfaction people tend to go one of two ways: either feel more deprived or feel like a failure because somehow this little taste test didn’t hit the spot (gasp! Shocker! …not). Either outcome usually results in a binge of garbage. And instead of just the couple slices of pizza you originally wanted, this binge, which may be hours or days later, turns into the hungry hungry caterpillar on day 6 when he eats all the pies and all the cakes and all the sausage and all the…everything. (What the hell is it with me and the friggin’ hungry caterpillar book??)

Also? Avoid the planned, once a week cheat days. I’ve also tried that, and when I did guess what happened? Yup. It lead to me eating junk when I didn’t even want because I could and I knew it was my only chance. Both of which are fairly ridiculous reasons for choosing to eat something with no true nutritional purpose.

As time went on my wants have actually shifted gears to become one with what my body needs (side note: that line just made me start singing 2 become 1 by the Spice Girls). This is awesome and has done so much for me in terms of my relationship with food and my health, but it’s also taken close to a decade to get to this place. So what’s a person suppose to do? how do you cultivate a much sought after healthy relationship with food that’s a balance between what your body needs and what you’re feeling you want?

Eat the pizza. Not in moderation.

Had you just had the pizza, and as many slices as you wanted, and moved on with your life making your next meal full of healthier choices you would have been much better off. Your craving was satisfied, you didn’t binge, you got to skip the beat up session, hit to the self esteem and the ability to truly feel in control of your choices.

This is where I will interject and gently remind you that part of the process towards a healthy relationship with food and yourself is being honest and real. Are you eating the pizza 3 nights a week? Because if that’s the case then moderation isn’t needed. Neither is the ‘eat the pizza’ mentality. A little good old fashioned sit down conversation with yourself is needed – this can be in your head or if you’re like me literally having an out loud conversation with yourself.

Why is the pizza happening 3 out of 7 nights? Lack of motivation to make something? Emotionally upset? Connect the dots to decide what’s going on, and move on from there. As a former emotional eater that was usually my reason: a good week meant junk food, a sad day meant junk food, good news meant celebrate. Once I realized this I had two choices when feeling the urge to go the junk food route. I could either follow through, or find a new outlet. Sometimes I gave in to the emotional eating and then truly processed how and why after. Sometimes I rolled my eyes and forced myself to do something else. Either way, the concept of moderation did not help the situation.

But as the months and years went on the pizza eating became less and less. As time has went on I’ve come to realize I don’t actually want that pizza (most of the time!). But had I kept my mentality of ‘everything in moderation’ I don’t think I’d have gotten here. I needed that freedom of removing the restrictions, and removing the rules from around what and when I could eat it gave me the sense of control I was missing. I often go weeks or longer without a treat because I simply don’t want it. I know I can have it whenever I want and because of this I’m good without it. I will say that I spent years with the understanding with myself that I could have a couple treats in a week, but they had to be mindful and they were limited in their number (ex: I found that either 1-2 meals or 3-4 small treats a week worked well for me!).

By being more mindful it encouraged me to stop and think about whether I really wanted to ‘spend’ one of my weekly treats on that particular thing. More often than not I didn’t. It’s like money, if you only have $20 are you going to want to spend it on the very first thing you see? Probably not.

Something else I cannot overlook: even if you do opt for the moderation route, some things are simply not healthy – physically or mentally. Many ‘foods’ should not be consumed ever, and quite frankly some people have trigger foods that will send them into the dark holes of their minds and spiral down an unhealthy path. So when considering whether moderation is right for you, the system which will work for you…please consider your thoughts, feelings and triggers in the process. One persons treat is another persons drug.

As is the theme not only on my blog and my nutritional philosophy but my life… be mindful, not in moderation.

to love you more (hint: quit treating your body like a garbage disposal)

Sometimes things can get muddled in the world of self love, self acceptance, self appreciation and any other rah-rah self proclamation. I have had countless discussions with people about their quest to love, hell or even like, themselves.

It usually follows the same basic outline, I sit there listening to how they are not being as hard on themselves, accepting their bodies, choices and most importantly not beating themselves up for what they consider screw-ups. If you have read my blog up to this point or are a returning follower of the former blog, you know I am a cheerleader. I will support the shit out of this type of behaviour…. within reason.

Yeah, I have limits. In our quest for a much deserved positive and happy relationship with ourselves we tend to put on the blinders and in our process of accepting ourselves, fail to hold ourselves accountable or address areas which we can improve. This my friends is essential in the process of genuine and truly self appreciation.

To love ourselves does not mean we cannot see room for growth or change – even if that change means admitting or pointing out ways that we are not providing ourselves the optimum amount of healthy food/activity/mental health support and emotional love that we not only need, but deserve.

Sometimes real self love comes in the form of a reality check, tough love and a little push in the right direction. Self acceptance does not mean accepting that you love fast food and are a couch potato and don’t want to change and because you’ve accepted it, you love yourself. That is self denial, not self love.

We have no problem giving the best to everyone and everything that demands it, or we feel deserves it, yet when it comes to ourselves we treat our bodies, minds and often sheer existence like a garbage disposal – continuously pouring junk in the forms of food, news, toxic relationships, stress, ignoring our better judgement….the list goes on and on. And we do these things under the pretence of a healthy relationship with ourselves.

If any of this sounds familiar to you I highly suggest taking some time to get reconnected with your real thoughts and feelings about yourself, your life and the choices you make and where you’d like to be. This can be incredibly uncomfortable. That’s good. I recently read something that said, ‘ change does not come from a place of comfort’. Hard truth to that statement.

Sometimes the path to self respect and true love for ourselves is a winding and bumping road. Sometimes it means making a lot of changes, back tracking, starting over and making only 1 or 2 at a time. It doesn’t matter. Just trust that every positive change you make is one more in the right direction.

If you’re not at a place where you want to take on all that shit, then don’t..that’s right. Forcing something you’re not ready for serves no positive purpose in our lives. But I will offer this advice: add in.

Don’t worry about all the things you know you should want to change, and maybe even do want to change, but instead of focusing on the negative, focus on adding in. Add in some fruit with your breakfast. Add in more water. Add in vegetables to your supper and a salad at lunch. Add in even a quick 15-20 minutes of movement into your day – even if its a quick jaunt around the office at coffee break time. Focus on adding in.

The positive things you add in will do wonders in serving your body, far more than focusing on all the stuff you need to remove from your life. The benefits of healthy food and fuel are still there without the bullshit of nagging yourself for the less than ideal things you are doing.

Focus on the positive and healthy. The unhealthy and negative will naturally begin to weed itself out. And this..this will lead to self love and acceptance.

lemon walnut pesto pasta

***Repost…. This is an old post, but I still make this recipe regularly (including last night!) except use nutritional yeast instead of parmesan since I actively try to avoid dairy. ***

The first thing that many people think of when they think of a gluten free diet is all of the things they can’t eat, instead of all the wonderful things still left for them. Not to mention that companies are becoming increasingly aware of the niche out there for selling gluten free products. Which really, is fantastic for anyone with Celiac or person who eliminates gluten (or anything else for that matter) for any other reason. It means choices! Options! Variety! We’re not left eating or drinking one gross alternative because it’s all that’s out there. We are still left with choices.

One of the first things I replaced with a gluten free variety in my pantry was pasta. I enjoy pasta immensely,  find it to be incredibly versatile and the base for so many dishes.  While in many dishes pasta can be substituted for something like spaghetti squash , or vermicelli noodles are a perfectly delicious substitute in stir fry style dishes, sometimes a girl just wants some regular, old fashioned pasta. I’ve tried a variety of gluten free pastas already – everything from vegetable to soy noodles, but my favorite is brown rice noodles. I find white rice ones cook  too mushy and remind me of white bread the way they kind of disintegrate in my mouth – and that’s freakin’ nasty.  I’ve tried a couple different varieties of the brown rice pasta, but my favorite so far is one by a brand called Rizopia. I first saw it at Nutters, but later found it in the natural food section at Superstore. AND it was still under $3/bag which is pretty comparable to regular wheat pasta. Win-win. Catelli has a great gluten-free line also that tastes and cooks like normal pasta.

Anyways.. I stumbled upon a recipe and I can’t even remember where I found it, but it’s pretty basic. It’s a Walnut Pesto Pasta and I added Edamame for some extra protein, fiber and deliciousness.

Side note: my spell check wants to keep correcting edamame to enema. Uh, not quite the same thing!

Walnut Pesto Pasta..with Edamame

Prep time: 5 minutes  Cook Time: 15 minutes

Makes 2 full sized meals, or 4 side dishes

As usual, increase flavors you like or eliminate ones you don’t

What You Need:

  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons of walnuts
  • 1 1/2 cups of fresh basil or about 1/3 cup of dried (start little, add more as you go!)
  • 1 teaspoon of kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup parsley
  • parmesan cheese (quick fact: parmesan is edible for people with lactose intolerances because as cheese ages it loses its lactose. Also edible? Old cheddar.)
  • 1 tablespoon of lemon juice (optional)
  • 1 cup of edamame, pre-cooked (again, optional)
  • 2 servings of your pasta of choice

How You Do It:

  1. In a pot boil your pasta
  2. In a pan heat the oil
  3. Toss in the garlic cloves. When your kitchen starts to smell delicious add the basil, salt and parsley (leaving a bit of basil and parsley for toppings if you wish!)
  4. Mix all that goodness up for a couple of minutes
  5. Pour in the lemon juice
  6. Toss in the walnuts and edamame
  7. Mix it all up for about 5 minutes
  8. Combine the pasta and sauce and mix it all around
  9. Dish it out
  10. sprinkle with parmesan, basil and parsley
  11. Eat!

The wonderful thing about something like this is that it can easily be adapted to a non gluten free, vegetarian diet and some extra veggies or whole grain pasta could be swapped in like lickity split. Either way, the flavors are delicious.  AND I’ve made it several times swapping out the spaghetti for shells or corkscrews and ate it cold as a pasta salad.

if these (gut) walls could talk

I talk a lot about the relationship we have with food and ourselves, but in the process of a healthy emotional and mental relationship, a key component is building a healthy physical body.

It’s not the sexiest topic, but it’s something I have become incredibly passionate about over the years as I’ve worked through my own physical ailments.

Our gut health. Hormones and the biological make up of our guts have a direct impact on our overall physical, mental and emotional health. Our stomachs have long been considered our second brains, and for good reason. Studies have shown that what we put into our bodies releases different hormone receptors and causes different types of responses. The opposite is also true; our mental health impacts our body’s ability to break down and utilize nutrients. Stress eating, physical pain from worry, easy digestion when you’re happy? All legitimate responses.

Our body’s ability to break down, digest and utilize nutrients is based on the health of our guts. Good bacteria work in our bodies to allow for the absorption of key nutrients which leads to ultimate physical and mental health. Unfortunately due to poor eating habits, over use of antibiotics and medications, and environmental toxins the balance between good and bad bacteria often tips the wrong way. When this happens we create a volatile environment, which results in so many uncomfortable side effects and symptoms including bloating, diarrhea, constipation, skin issues, mood swings, sleep disruption, mental fog, headaches, joint pain… the list goes on and on.

Why does this happen? Well. To put it plainly, when we are constantly chowing down on junk food we cannot process or utilize combined with environmental toxins and a lack of healthy nutrients going in, our bodies become overloaded. Most of us have been on antibiotics at some point also. While I think we are so fortunate to live in a time when medicine is as advanced as it is, we have become so accustomed to pill popping which wipes out the bad and good bacteria leaving our bodies depleted of the much needed assistance required to break down nutrients for absorption.

Basic biology teaches us that bacteria thrive in a sugar filled environment. So when we are feeding our bodies highly refined and processed foods, this so easily converts to sugar and boom! The nasty bacteria overtakes our bodies, causes havoc in our stomachs, and then our bodies.

Often overlooked is the mind-gut connection and the unbalanced cycle which is created. When we eat poorly, our body cannot function the way we want it to; this includes our mental health. We are more likely to make poor choices, food and otherwise, when we are depriving our body of the healthy nutrients it needs. So no matter how much we may want to make good choices, we are setting ourselves up for failure. Instead we will chose the high, empty calorie, high sugar, high refined carbohydrates foods which are often filled with unhealthy fats. Our bodies are designed to work when being fed a high nutrient diet and this includes a healthy balance of carbohydrates (fibre filled!), protein and fats. So when we continuously feed it garbage, it’s still going to want the good stuff, and so the cycle begins. We eat unhealthy, over processed crap, our bodies signal we are still hungry so we give it more of the same junk instead of what it actually wants and then beat ourselves up because we ‘caved’ and ate too much.

The good news is that once you understand this mind-gut connection even in the most simple, basic form you are then able to work towards changing the way your body is functioning. It’s not a permanent problem and can be changed with a shift to more healthy foods and less junk. (I seriously cannot even say junk ‘food’ because that is not food!)

My number one suggestion for anyone wanting to make any sort of improvement to their health a simple one: add in more fruits and veggies. Even if you continue to consume the junk (hopefully in smaller quantities), at the very least your body is still getting some of the basic nutrients that it needs to function at optimum levels. By doing this you can begin to replenish the happy, gut environment and restore nutrients to your body.