Category Archives: Food Source

Where your food comes from helps determine how healthy, and I think how happy you are. Paying attention to your food is one of the simplest and most direct ways to change the world.

Seed Cycling and Pregnancy Before, During and After.

Seed cycling is a gentle way to re-establish normal hormonal rhythms for women, but many people have questions about what to do around seed cycling and pregnancy.  If you’re unfamiliar with the idea of seed cycling you can read about the basics here and I’ll add a visual how-to before we get started. Here are some thoughts.

Seed Cycling for hormone balance adds seeds into your diet following the rhythm of your body or the moon. Seed cycling and pregnancy are a natural fit.

Seed Cycling for hormone balance adds seeds into your diet following the rhythm of your body or the moon. Seed cycling and pregnancy are a natural fit.




Seed Cycling and Pre-Pregnancy Fertility Boost

Naturally anything that helps to normalize your cycle will ultimately boost fertility so seed cycling and pregnancy go hand-in-hand.  In preparing for pregnancy your body is trying to create a soft landing space for a fertilized egg, a cushy spot to settle down and take nourishment. That cushy spot is created via the hormones – estrogen to thicken the uterine lining (in the first half of the cycle) and progesterone to ripen that lining and make it ultimately inhabitable for a fertile egg.  Both halves of the woman’s cycle need to be strong for this to occur and seed cycling helps to encourage that balance.  Days 1 (the first day of your period) through day 14 (when you ovulate) are called the follicular phase. They are building uterine lining and also ripening a strong egg. The flax and pumpkin seeds that you take during those days help to bring healthy estrogen levels while blocking conversion to unhelpful androgenic hormones like DHT.

Day 14 and the window around that time (24-48 hours) is your fertile time – the time when you are most likely to conceive.  Strong ovulations need a healthy estrogen spike nurtured by the hormone balance achieved in Days 1-14.

After ovulation through the rest of your cycle is called the luteal phase and is dominated by the hormone progesterone, which is encouraged by the combination of sunflower and sesame seeds. Progesterone is released by the pocket on the ovary out of which that month’s fertile egg came, called the corpus luteum. If the egg is successfully fertilized (meaning you get pregnant) then progesterone levels must stay elevated to help the egg to implant into the uterus and to prevent your body from flushing out the uterine lining (to prevent your next period).

Encouraging good progesterone levels, is in fact one of the most important factors in keeping viable early pregnancies, especially in older women who are trying to get pregnant or women who have unbalanced hormone pictures that are shifted towards estrogen (like PCOS, endometriosis, and many cases of multiple pregnancy loss). Happily in the implanting days women who are seed cycling are already encouraging progesterone with the sunflower seed and sesame combination.  But what to do when you find out you are pregnant?  That depends very much on you.

Seed Cycling and Pregnancy

Once women become pregnant seeds in your diet can still be highly supportive, but it helps to have some idea of your hormone balance before hand, and the “cycle” of menstruating is no longer happening.  In fact, hormonally pregnancy becomes almost a hyper-extension of the luteal phase.

Progesterone in Luteal phase:  1 – 28 ng/ml. Average is 10-15
Progesterone in First Trimester: 9 – 47 ng/ml
Progesterone in Second Trimester: 17 – 146 ng/ml
Progesterone in Third Trimester: 49 – 300 ng.ml

As you can see, progesterone levels are on the rise through the entire pregnancy and logically to support that some women take the theory that they should continue the luteal phase seeds – sesame and sunflower.  Others feel that all the seeds provide support and so choose to do steady amounts of all seeds on a consistent basis.

*One good tip to remember* If you’re trying to get pregnancy it’s important to continue the luteal-phase seeds (sesame/sunflower) until you actually have a period, just in case you are pregnant that month. This gives the egg the best chance at implantation.

Women who have a history of estrogen dominance,  repeated miscarriages, or are “advanced maternal age”:

For these women progesterone support can help to keep the pregnancy viable and often prescription progesterone is given.  Seeds can help as well. Women in this category can use all sunflower/sesame through the pregnancy or a 2:1 ratio of sunflower and sesame: flax and pumpkin.  These seeds are not a substitute for prescription progesterone, but they can be safely used in combination with prescription progesterone. I personally feel that all the seeds are supportive and so taking all of them each day during pregnancy gives the biggest nutritional boost. In this case a good mix would be:

2 tbsp sunflower seeds
2 tbsp sesame seeds
1 tbsp flax seeds
1 tbsp pumpkin seeds

Young women with typically balanced hormones and normal pregnancy history:

Although pregnancy is still a higher progesterone time, women who have healthy balanced hormones should have no problem maintaining the progesterone levels needed. In these cases equal amounts of all seeds can be used or the ratios can be weighted towards sunflower/sesame if that is your choice. So:

1 – 2 tbsp sunflower seeds
1 – 2 tbsp sesame seeds
1 tbsp flax seeds
1 tbsp pumpkin seeds

This can be continued through the entire pregnancy as well as the early months of nursing (up to about 6 months post-partum). This seems to help many women soften the post-partum emotional changes that can occur because of the huge hormone nose-dive.

Seed Cycling for Post-Pregnancy Restoration of Cycle

After delivery some women have a hard time with the sharp drop of progesterone that happens along with the normalization of estrogen levels. Continuing the steady doses of seeds suggested in the pregnancy section can help to smooth out some of the rough edges, but there will come a time when your body moves more towards reestablishing it’s normal rhythm. Some women have a sense of this, whether it’s from changing nursing habits of their baby to hormonal symptoms like skin changes and some women really don’t feel it happening until they get their first cycle.  If you start to feel changes then I typically suggest re-starting seed cycling then according to the lunar phase. If you don’t particularly feel anything then around 6-9 months or when your baby really starts to be interested in solid foods you can restart (also according to lunar phase).  If your body surprises you with your first period out of the blue, then start seed cycling using day 1 of that cycle as your starting place.

In every phase of pre-, during and post- pregnancy make sure that your maternity care team and doctors are aware of your seed cycling routine and that they don’t have any concerns for your particular pregnancy. Seed cycling and pregnancy is generally lovely, but may not be right for you so do check with your doctor.

Also – here’s the moon phases, just in case you need those.

CURRENT MOON



Is Folate in Food Safe for MTHFR Mutants?

The question of  folate in food safe for MTHFR mutants has, like everything else about MTHFR, a complex answer: yes and no.  Sigh. But actually there’s a pretty easy split, and that’s between foods naturally high in folate, and foods fortified with folic acid.

Foods Naturally High in Folate

This list is all awesomeness. These are great healthy foods that most people want to incorporate into their diet but many of us mutants (MTHFR mutants that is) hesitate because of the folate content. Great news folks – naturally occuring folate is actually not a problem with the MTHFR mutation. Here’s the thing – what we call “folate” isn’t actually just one thing. In nature it’s a collection of related molecules in the family of pteroylglutamates (say that three times fast).  Folate can be used directly by the human body, it doesn’t have to be converted into anything and so with or without a MTHFR mutation we can use folate well.

We use folate to synthesize, repair and methylate DNA, and as a cofactor in a number of reactions in the human body.  It’s especially important in periods of rapid growth and cell division  – so infancy, growth spurts and pregnancy. We also use it to make our red blood cells and deficiency is one of the causes of anemia.

Is folate in food safe for MTHFR mutants? In these foods YES. Thanks to exhibithealth.com for the great image.

Is folate in food safe for MTHFR mutants? In these foods YES. Thanks to exhibithealth.com for the great image.

Foods Highest in Folate (Safe for MTHFR)

Beans and Pulses:

  • Black eyed Peas – 356 mcg/cup serving (89% daily value)
  • Mung beans – 80% DV per cup serving
  • Pinto beans – 74% DV per cup serving
  • Chickpeas – 71% DV per cup serving
  • Lentils – 90% DV per cup serving

Dark Green Leafy Veggies:

  • Spinach – 66% DV per cup serving (cooked)
  • Turnip greens – 42% DV per cup serving (cooked)
  • Romaine Lettuce – 16% DV per cup serving (raw)

Brassica Family Veggies:

  • Broccoli – 42% DV per cup serving (cooked)
  • Cauliflower – 14% DV per cup serving (cooked)
  • Brussels sprouts – 25% DV per cup serving (cooked)

Odd Ducks:

  • Avocado – 30% DV per cup serving (raw)
  • Mango – 18% DV per cup serving (raw)
  • Oranges – 18% DV per cup serving (raw)
  • Asparagus – 68% DV per cup serving (cooked)
  • Okra – 37% DV per cup serving (cooked)
  • Liver – 50-60% DV per 3 oz serving (because nobody eats a cup of liver.) Percentage range depending on the type of animal the liver comes from.




The answer to the question ‘Is NATURALLY OCCURING folate in foods safe for MTHFR mutants?’ Is a resounding YES.

Foods Fortified with Folic Acid

Here’s where the MTHFR group get tripped up. Often ‘folate’ and ‘folic acid’ are used interchangeably to refer to the same thing, because they theoretically do the same things in the body.  Except for MTHFR mutants they really don’t do the same thing because we have varying degrees of impairment with the enzyme that converts folic acid to folate. This means that MTHFR mutants really can’t count folic acid, which is the synthetic, lab-created, oxidized form of folate which is really not found so much in nature.  This requires functioning MTHFR genes to be converted into a usable form of folate.  If you don’t have good function of your MTHFR genes (and just a note – we all have some function, we’re just impaired) then you don’t get to use this form very well.

Folic Acid ≠ Folate

The issue with eating a lot of foods fortified with folic acid for an MTHFR mutant is that the folic acid competes at receptor sites with natural folate that is coming from your diet. This means the synthetic folic acid makes the natural folate less effective because much of the time the synthetic (unusable) form is clogging up the folate receptors.

Foods Most Likely to Be Fortified with Folic Acid (Unsafe for MTHFR Mutants):

Grains:

  • Breads
  • Cereals
  • Pasta
  • Flour
  • Baking mixes

So – is Fortified “Folic Acid” folate in food safe for MTHFR mutants? Absolutely Not.

The best strategy to make your foods MTHFR friendly is to eat whole foods, natural unfortified whole grains, and skip the fortified garbage.  There are many dangers of folic acid (and not just to MTHFR mutants – we’ll talk about that later) so avoid it wherever possible and add naturally-occurring folate-rich foods into your diet wherever you can. One more time: Is folate in food safe for MTHFR mutants? You betcha, but folic acid isn’t.



How Long Does Health Recovery Really Take?

I don’t know about you, but I have this kind of indestructible myth going on about my body and I always expect to bounce back from major health stuff immediately, but then I have to remember what I always say to my clients – health recovery is WAY more work for your body than you think it is and it takes SO MUCH LONGER than you think it will.  This applies pretty much across the board and the bottom line is to be gentle with your body, be gentle with yourself.  There are so many ways that your body can be asking for help and support and at the end of the day, it’s the most intelligent tool you will ever have so here’s some more reasons to treat your body right.

It’s hard to accept the idea that something you had a month ago might actually still be affecting the way your body is doing things, but the fact is that for some common conditions, recovery can literally take years.  This does not gel with our instant gratification society at all.




So – why is this important?  Well, your body is more vulnerable when it’s trying to recover from something so part of your resources are devoted to that task – meaning there is less to go around for everything else. Still, the human tendency is to push to what you can normally do, or even worse: what you feel you *should* be able to do rather than listening to your body’s signals that it needs rest, nourishment, sleep.




What Happens When You Ignore the Recovery Period:

  • Recovery Takes Longer: The recovery HAS to happen. Your body has an imperative for that to continue.  If it doesn’t happen then it just keeps dragging you down in the background or weakening your fundamental energy and strength.  It’s like an open drain at the bottom of your bucket – your energy is constantly siphoned off, bit by bit.
  • Energy Drain: The more you push through, the stronger the signals your body will send to not push through.  Energy gets lower and lower because your body has to make you stop and rest somehow.  Really, how many ways can your body tell you it’s still hurting?
  • Resources Dwindle: Your body is actively using nutrients, energy reserves and even hormonal reserves to try to deal with this lingering issue and if you’re not giving it extra time, rest and nutrients to do that or if you’re expecting to do all he things you normally do in a day as well then reserves get used up quickly.
  • Long-term Consequences: Pushing through just compounds the problem and can lead to long-term consequences.  Conditions like chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia, adrenal fatigue and “burn out” are all natural consequences of your body bearing more burdens than it can handle for longer than it had the resources to deal with. These burdens can include stunted or ignored recovery times, emotional stressors, nutritional deficiencies, unhealed viruses, high inflammation and sleep deprivation.

So How Much Time Does Your Body Need?

Wouldn’t it be great if there was a magical one-size-fits all answer to that question?  Sadly, there isn’t but there are ball-park figures that can give you an estimation.  The healthier you are going into something the generally shorter the recovery period is, but the biggest gift you can give your body is actually listening to your body’s signals.  Here are some typical situations that take far longer to recover from than you would ever think possible:

  • Dehydration/heat exhaustion – Typically initial recovery to the point that your body feels normal takes 4-6 weeks depending on how severe the dehydration was.  After that count on at least a year of having to be vigilant about hydration, trace minerals and electrolytes because your body is far more susceptible to relapse in this time – even though you may feel “normal” your reserves are still far lower than they should be. If you don’t put the effort into rebuilding those reserves you can perpetuate a situation where relapse remains an issue, even for a decade or more.
  • Food sensitivities – Food sensitivities are a bigger issue than you may realize.  So many people discover a food sensitivity such as wheat or corn, but because they’ve been eating that thing their entire lives they don’t especially take it seriously, or eliminate the food 95% but cheat a few times per week. This can actually raise the total level of body inflammation and perpetuate it.  We are human, and sure – cheating happens, but it’s actually better to save it and do it big than to cheat in little ways frequently.  Like the Christmas cookies cheat and the birthday cake cheat and the rest of the time be 100% sensitivity free. Eliminating a food sensitivity completely will yield long-term results but your body will be changing, regaining health and recovering from that food for a long time – even years.  Of course this is hard to quantify, but I can say that I noticed subtle, positive changes continue to happen for me for approximately the first four years of being wheat-free before things leveled off.  There is digestive repair, better nutrient absorption, replenishing nutrient reserves, reducing inflammation and healing damage. Of course the little constant cheats undermine that process and essentially stop progress.
  • Pregnancy, pregnancy loss, delivery – Pregnancy takes a huge toll on a woman’s nutrient and energy reserves, as do pregnancy loss (especially late losses) and labor and delivery. Your body is programmed to give the best of everything you have to the baby. The best nutrients, the best fats, the best minerals, the bulk of your reserves. It takes a lot of time to build those up again.  Outside of that, actually building a baby is a tremendous effort – think of it like continuously running a marathon.  There is a reason the first and third trimesters are such sleepy times and although part of it is changing hormone levels, those hormones make you sleepy for a reason.  That reason, of course, being that you actually need far more sleep, far more rest, far more down time because your body is building a human.  The hardest scenario to recover from is back-to-back babies. Although there hasn’t been research done on the length of the recovery period ancient cultures tend to say that six weeks of rest, relaxation, pampering and the most nourishing foods will prevent six years of fatigue, frustration and sadness.  This truly means six weeks of being cared for after delivery. Here’s a great article on postnatal depletion.
  • Virus – Of course every virus is different and your body will recover from the common cold (usually rhinovirus) far before it will recover from mono or parvovirus or herpes.  The thing about viruses is that they linger in your system and can become dormant, only to reemerge in times of stress (the classic is herpes – cold sores or outbreaks will happen any time your body reaches a certain level of stress or depletion).  Recently medicine is realizing that high viral loads also accompany conditions like chronic fatigue and fibromyalgia – especially the slow-burn viruses like epstein-barr (mono) and cytomegalovirus (which typically only causes symptoms in newborns and the elderly, but can eat away at reserves in the background). As a general rule I like to give the body two times the active period of the virus for recovery if you really rest and let your body do it.  So however long you feel symptoms give your body twice as long as that again to actually focus on great nourishment, good sleep, low stress and moderate activity.  Remember for mono the symptoms can last easily 6-12 weeks so 12-24 weeks after that for recovery.
  • Over-training – Over-training can be a big issue in athletes and weekend warriors alike.  Essentially it’s a situation where you ignore your body’s actual capacity to reach a goal. The common factor is ignoring capacity – athletes have a tremendous capacity and typically take great care of themselves physically, but also generally push the limits of what their body can do, how it performs and how much it can do.  Weekend warriors are typically not the best at taking care of their bodies, but over-push when they get a chance to because they don’t get as many chances to as they’d like.  Either way, the consequences are similar – little bits of damage with every work out that don’t always get a chance to fully heal before the next workout and so build up in the background.  A good trainer or coach should encourage rest days and even rest weeks to their athletes, but that doesn’t always happen.  Again – it comes down to actually listening to your body and responding appropriately. Typically though when you stop listening injuries start to escalate.  It starts with small things and then bigger things as you re-injure vulnerable areas that haven’t fully healed. For a cycle like this I suggest 3-6 months off of training with great nutrition, hydration, rest, and gentle therapeutic exercise to the injured area (often range of motion exercise, stretching, foam roller and massage to the area). Truly letting your body heal is hard when you’ve got a goal, but so worth it in the end.
  • MTHFR recovery – For anyone struggling with MTHFR you know it has often been a lifelong symptom picture that just isn’t addressed until the gene mutation is discovered. Once the mutation is discovered then starts the long road of nutrient repletion, damage repair and detoxification.  Essentially your body has always been malnourished in a fundamental way and starting to re-nourish with the active forms of folate and B12 also allows your body to get the wheels turning on all of the work it couldn’t do while you were malnourished. This process can take years to fully evolve and can be incredibly rocky as you’re first trying to find the best protocol for you.  Once you do find a good protocol, plan on allowing the process to unfold for several years before you really see the true end-result.  Stick to your supplements and listen to your body because you will need more rest, better hydration and better nutrition through this process as your body catches up with the backlog of work it didn’t have the resources to do before. The more severe your mutation, the longer the process will take. Count on at least a year and typically longer to see the full results.
  • Anaphylaxis – A serious allergic reaction triggers so many processes within your body and it uses a tremendous amount of resources in an extremely short time.  With appropriate treatment your body can get feeling back to normal even within the first 24 hours, but for most people the allergic response is actually heightened for weeks, sometimes months after the event.  This means that smaller insults and things that don’t normally trigger full-blown allergic responses can do so because your body is already more keyed up.  Recovery takes rest, lots of water, trace minerals and electrolytes but also a “clean” environment where you work to eliminate even the minor allergies from your sphere so that your body has a chance to truly calm down.  Steroid treatment is the fall-back if you can’t interrupt this process naturally, but steroids take a toll on your body too. The best way is to avoid as much as possible your food sensitivities, environmental allergies and triggers and give your body good hydration, nutrition and electrolytes. Let your body calm down naturally and plan on at least 3 months.
  • Surgery/Trauma – Naturally it depends on the type of surgery or trauma, but recovery truly does take far longer than most people consider.  Repair and remodeling is typically happening well beyond the length of time you feel the pain of the wounds.  Use the viral model – however long you were hurting, take that length of time again after the pain stops to recover fully. That means during that time you’re focusing on good sleep, good nutrition, good hydration and minimizing stress.
  • Mental and Emotional Stress – This is a biggie – I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had a client in my office who had a divorce two years ago and their health just hasn’t been the same since. Likewise with family dying, extended stress or grief situations and lawsuits. Mental and emotional stress is as much of a stressor for your body, your system and your reserves as any physical ailment you can think of, and maybe more. This drains energy, keeps up an unhealthy hormone cascade and uses far more nutrients than you might realize.  Recovery after a stressful period is often years in the making and requires not only physical rest and nurturing but mental and emotional rest as well.  Counseling, homeopathy, meditation, spiritual or religious work and hypnosis can all be helpful at this point.  Use the tools that work for you and allow yourself the time and space to fully heal. Get help when you need it, ask friends and family for support, do things that bring you joy. Allow yourself to grieve fully, release emotions, sleep, cry, scream, get angry and do whatever it is you need to do.  Just try not to “push through” and ignore your needs or tell yourself you “should” be over it by now – if you’re not, you’re not. Just listen to your body’s needs.

    Health recovery needs sleep. More sleep. Great picture quote from dazzduz.com

    Health recovery needs sleep. More sleep. Great picture quote from dazzduz.com

Health Recovery: How to Truly Recover Fully:

Your body has an inherent wisdom and a knowing about what needs to happen. The problem is that your brain often overrides that wisdom with all of the social rules you learned as a kid – you “should” be tough enough to handle this. Laying around or sleeping too much is “lazy.”  Taking all that time is “self-indulgent.” “Other people have it way worse.” Sure – they might, but life isn’t a competition to see who suffers the most and only that person gets to feel bad. Western society has a kind of work-martyr complex where we all need to be pushing as hard as we can all the time to be better, faster, richer, slimmer, nicer and younger. Because that’s possible. Actually recovering requires letting some of that go – stepping a little to the side and acknowledging that you are important to you. I am important to me.  Important enough to rest, to relax, to let go of the extra stuff.  Important enough to do this:

  • Stop when you’re tired in any way – mentally, physically or both.  This requires noticing when you’re tired so if you’re one of those people who notices they’re exhausted only when they sit down, then it’s time to start sitting down every 10 minutes just to check in. Don’t tell yourself all about the things that need doing, just sit your but down and pay attention.
  • Stop making excuses – we all do it.  When people ask how you’re doing and you say “Busy!” with that note of eager pride it means that your life is unnecessarily cluttered up by ridiculous things.  If your answer to that question is or has recently been “busy,” “hectic” or anything similar then it’s time to sit down with your schedule and get brutal about slashing things away.  You don’t need to volunteer for the PTA, the neighborhood association, business networking meetings or anything else that isn’t directly your job or your family.  The kids don’t need 8 extra-curricular activities to which you need to drive them.  You won’t die if your house is less than perfect, if the car doesn’t get washed or the lawn doesn’t get mowed.  I’m willing to bet you make time on your schedule for all kinds of people who you don’t actually want to spend your time with. Slash it all.  Everything that isn’t absolutely necessary, needs to go so that you can have space to do whatever nourishes you. Here’s a great article about it called “The Busy Trap.”
  • Do what nourishes you – If really what your body wants is a long soak in the bathtub, make it happen. If you’re craving that extra two hours of sleep in the morning, find a way.  If you want to sit and stare at the wall for 20 minutes doing nothing, go for it. If walks in nature or journeling have always been your solace then take the time. If you loved drawing or coloring or whatever as a kid, then try that again to see if it still sparks your mind. If you want to lay on your bed and stare at the ceiling then by all means.  Schedule it in if you have to, but do it – not just once.  Carve out an hour a week for just you.  Once you’ve got the hang of an hour a week, carve out a second hour.
  • Eat nourishing food – I”ve heard the argument that “what nourishes me is a dozen krispy kremes.” Actually no, no it’s not.  Granted, it’s a great drug but ultimately using a drug (alcohol, sex, pain, food, drama) to take your attention away from your own life, health, situation or healing boils down to avoidance.  That doesn’t mean a good pizza and donut night is entirely out on the recovery plan, it just means that it isn’t every night or even the majority of nights. Focus on fruits and veggies and simple grains like rice.  Slow cooked meals, soups and stews are great because the long-cooking essentially partially digests them so your body has less work to do.  Eat foods your mom or grandmother would have made for you – chicken soup, chili, beef stew, roasted veggies, baked apples.
  • Hydrate – drink lots of water, every day.  Add lemon juice, a pinch of sea salt, trace minerals or electrolytes if it seems like the water goes straight through you. So many of us are chronically dehydrated all the time – get used to drinking more.
  • Sleep – I don’t care what everyone else says you should get.  Sleep as long as your body wants as often as your body wants.  If you have to get up to go to work then do it, but sleep as much as you can. Go to bed earlier, get up later. Nap. Invest in a hammock. Just sleep.
  • Emote – I’m often surprised by how much emotion comes up in every type of recovery. Even something emotionally neutral like foot surgery or a common cold. That is totally okay,, and whatever is coming up just go with it. If you need to cry, or scream, or throw things, or put on the Cure and mope a bit then get right to it.  You don’t need to understand it, you don’t need to judge it, you don’t even need to attach any importance to it. At the end of the day it doesn’t matter why you feel like that, if you’re supposed to feel like that or how long you’re going to feel like that.  Just let yourself feel like that.  Emotions don’t make logical sense and they aren’t really supposed to.  Sometimes you have to just let them happen and accept them.
  • Don’t Judge – You are human.  Stuff takes longer than you think it’s going to.  Life isn’t what they show in movies, and it isn’t going to be.  Hollywood is in no way representative of reality. Recovery takes a long time and you need more love, gentleness and care than any character John Wayne ever played.  Our society loves to martyr itself – we have the work martyr, the family martyr, the achievement martyr. There are so many ways to hang yourself on that cross, but here’s the thing.  Killing yourself to do more, be better, ignore your own needs or downplay your own suffering doesn’t actually help anyone at all.  Nobody benefits when you burn yourself down to a nub, or when you make a bunch of judgements about actually taking care of yourself.  Just let it all go and allow yourself to be human. The more you are able to take care of your own needs, the more you actually have to offer the world. There is a reason they tell you to put your own oxygen mask on before helping those around you.

Health recovery is slow, stepwise, and can’t be skipped.  Don’t fall into the trap of opening the drain at the bottom of your bucket and forgetting to close it again. You can contribute so much more to the world when you are operating at full capacity.



7 Reasons You Should Be Eating Bugs. Really.

Eating bugs is one of those taboo topics in North America and Europe (although the rest of the world, which is 80% of the population, eats bugs regularly).  But here?  Here it’s kind of like eating dirt or something yucky.  It’s time to shift those perceptions though because as it turns out bugs are health food for you, and for the planet and they could be the key to solving world hunger.  Outside of those lofty goals, they’re just really freaking good for you and have a nutty, easy to eat flavor just as long as you get past the thinking about it phase.

Top 7 Reasons You Should Be Eating Bugs:

Here are some statistics according to the Institute of Food Technologists:

  1. Protein – It’s easy to think of beef as the biggest, baddest protein source in the world, but actually bugs can claim that crown.  Crickets are 65% protein, where beef is only 50%. That’s a huge leap (bad cricket humor).
  2. Nutritarian – in addition to the protein, insects are one of the most nutritarian foods I’ve ever heard of, and you know I like my nutritarian, nutrition-packed foods.  Bugs have a broad range of amino-acids, vitamins, minerals, trace-minerals and they’re high in good fats including unsaturated and poly-unsaturated fatty acids. Seriously – it’s like super food.
  3. Low Fat – Many different types of edible insects have less than 5 grams of fat per serving.
  4. Sustainable – While modern agriculture is destroying the earth with chemicals, pesticide and huge land-use, insects don’t need much space, live in every sort of condition and eat just about everything.  Bugs are the perfect crop. I stumbled across a great charity that is working to promote bug-awareness as a sustainable food source. They do bug tastings and events and that sort of thing so check them out – they’re called (hilariously) Little Herds.
  5. Easy to Cook With – It sounds counter-intuitive to our Western minds, but you can cook bugs bunches of different ways from sauteed to pan fry to baked, roasted or boiled.  The easiest way to use them is actually in an insect-based flour that is high protein, high fiber and blends easily with regular flour to add nutritional oomph to your meal without having to know you’re eating bugs.
  6. Abundant – if there’s anything we’re not running out of, it’s bugs.  Plus there are hundreds of different species so you can find your favorites with many, many, many to choose from.
  7. Taste – you many not believe me but different species of bugs are delicacies around the world, prized as choice dishes.  The flavors have been described as nutty, like shrimp or (the common phrase) it tastes like chicken. Ha!

The Worse Sales-Pitch Ever for Eating Bugs (watch until the end. It’s a killer)

Yeah – so, disregard that guy. Great info, but really???




Where Do I Even Get Bugs To Eat?

Outside of harvesting in your back yard, which seems to me like it’s probably just a little too “real” if you’re just starting out on this bug adventure, you can buy bugs on amazon (they really do have everything).  Also the occasional health food store will have insect-based products.  I haven’t tried the bugs yet, but I’m keen to get started and I’m thinking that either flour or protein bar might be the way to go… I’m used to adding alternative flours to recipes so I will for sure keep you posted on this project…

Price-wise, here’s the best price on cricket flours that I found (still pretty pricey, for bugs):

Eating bugs is great for you! Cricket flour might be an easier way to get into this than, say, the chocolate covered scorpions (eek!)

Eating bugs is great for you! Cricket flour might be an easier way to get into this than, say, the chocolate covered scorpions (eek!)

I have to say, I’m really enjoying the company’s write-up about it:

Looking for an unusual and unique way to fuel your high protein diet? Nature has the answer with this nourishing flour made entirely from ground crickets.  To most, eating crickets may appear to have a high ‘yuk’ factor but you won’t spot any of the distinctive characteristics of our chirruping chums in this flour.

Our crickets are raised commercially, fed a specifically developed, healthy diet and are raised in clean and hygienic conditions. Containing no preservatives, artificial colours or flavours, this low-fat flour has many nutritional benefits. Packed with vitamin B12 and iron, and rich in protein, it can be used to produce energy bars, snacks and much more.

The flour is produced at our FDA approved factory where the crickets are cleaned, processed and packed ready to be shipped off to you in handy foil pouches. Each 100 grams (0.22 pounds) of cricket flour contains approximately 1,112 of our premium Acheta Domestica crickets! Who knew that Pinocchio’s wise little sidekick could be so tasty and nutritious?

Ha! Pinocchio’s little sidekick indeed. I suppose you would have to have a sense of humor if you make bug flour for a living. A good point here is that bugs fit nicely into an ancestral diet or paleo diet because they are chock full of protein, fiber and nutrients and certainly don’t have to be farmed or domesticated to be eaten.  In my research I found a fascinating article in scientific american about what the “true” paleolithic diet might be, and although the bottom line included complex factors like gut evolution, this stood out to me:

They eat and ate meat, BUT most of that meat comes from insects. And so if you are serious about eating a really old school paleo diet, if you mean to eat what our bodies evolved to eat in the “old” days, you really need to be eating more insects

Essential our ancestors were eating bugs in addition to lots of plant matter including starchy roots and only small amounts of meat and extremely small amounts of grains.  That’s a big diversion from the modern-day paleo diet. Does that mean modern paleo is wrong?  No – not at all, it just means that we tend to modernize even our view of ancestral eating to take out the things that don’t fit into our cultural view, like eating bugs.



Seed Cycling for Hormone Balance – Gentle Ways to Restore Normal

Seed cycling for hormone balance is one of those things that seems far too simple to ever work, but work it does! It’s very gentle nutritional support that encourages your cycle to follow it’s natural rhythm and gives the hormones gentle nudges in the right direction.  Best of all, it’s done with whole foods, not with supplements or drugs, so it’s entirely natural, simple, inexpensive and gives you a whole different way to keep in contact with your body. Not only that, it can be helpful in situations that you might not think of right away – like for women post menopause, and for men looking to boost fertility. Yup, men.

What is Seed Cycling?

Seed cycling is a gentle way to help your body balance your hormones naturally by adding different seeds into your diet at different phases of your menstrual cycle. Simply adding seeds like flax, pumpkin, sunflower and sesame seeds to your diet at different times in your cycle can promote healthy hormones by encouraging your body to either produce or detoxify certain hormones. It is literally using foods to either promote estrogen detoxification, in the first half of your cycle, or to increase progesterone production in the second.

Seed Cycling for Hormone Balance – What Does That Actually  Help?

Seed cycling for hormone balance helps your body to smoothly find it’s way to a more normal balance and therefore can help with almost any symptom related to hormones including:

  • Acne
  • PMS
  • Irregular Cycle
  • Infertility or sub-fertility
  • Too light or too heavy bleeding
  • Peri-menopause
  • Post-menopausal hormone symptoms like low libido or depression
  • PCOS
  • Irregular cycle

Now – having said that, seed cycling for hormone balance is NOT a quick fix – you’re working to re-establish the rhythms of your body and that takes time.  Typically you will start noticing changes after 3-4 months (3-4 cycles) but the great news is that because this is simply using foods it is safe to combine with other therapies and can help to enhance their actions.  If you have one of the more serious hormonal issues like PCOS, then probably seed cycling isn’t going to fix it, but it can certainly help other measures to work better and help your body to find it’s rhythm.

Quick Review of Your Cycle and The Moon (And Why  Those Two Things Go Together):

This is how your cycle and the moon go together. Ovulate on full moon (day 14) and bleed on the new moon (day 1)

This is how your cycle and the moon go together. Ovulate on full moon (day 14) and bleed on the new moon (day 1)

At heart, you are all wild animals.  You love to pretend to be civilized and to wear a veneer of the tame, but truly and deeply your body belongs to the forest. In the “wild state” of being you wouldn’t have been exposed to artificial light and so very powerful signals were sent to your brain by the changing light of the moon, and this was one of the ways your body kept rhythms, including your hormone rhythms.  Women’s typical hormone cycles are 28 days, which happens to be the length of a full lunar cycle as well (actually 28 and a fraction days). This is not a coincidence! You are designed to be at peak fertility, meaning ovulation, at the full moon (coincidentally when nights are brightest and you’re more likely to enjoy the sight of a partner). Fertility is lowest, meaning menstruation, at the new moon when nights are darkest.  Men’s fertility follows women’s in this scenario so that we’re all most fertile at the same time – it works best that way for the baby-making.




How Do I Seed Cycle?

Seed Cycling for hormone balance adds seeds into your diet following the rhythm of your body or the moon.

Seed Cycling for hormone balance adds seeds into your diet following the rhythm of your body or the moon.

This is literally eating different seeds for different parts of your monthly rhythm because they help to restore your body to balance.  You’ll recall that for women our hormones change in a predictable way with our cycle.  Men have fewer hormone fluctuations through the month, but their peak fertility still should match with women’s – and everyone’s peak fertility is typically at the full moon (we are wild animals underneath it all).

Day 1 – 14 (Follicular phase):

1 tbsp flax seeds
1 tbsp pumpkin seeds

Day 15 – 28 (Luteal phase):

1 tbsp sunflower seeds
1 tbsp sesame seeds

Eat your 2 tablespoons of mixed seeds every day according to your cycle. The seeds should be ground in a mortar and pestle, coffee grinder or vitamix and added to smoothies, soups, oatmeal, yogurt, cereal, salad or however else it’s easy to get them into you.  Also of those four seeds try not to add them in other times as snacks because it makes things confusing- so snacking on sunflower seeds on your flax/pumpkin days is probably not going to help your body to find it’s rhythm.

If you feel like you need a little extra push in the right direction, then you can also add supportive oils to this picture.  Fish oil, about 1500 mg combined EPA and DHA can be added to Days 1 – 14 and Evening Primrose Oil (EPO) can be added to days 15 – 28.

Why These Seeds?

The pumpkin and flax seed combo is a potent one to help your body detoxify the extra estrogen that can plague this time of the month (the lignans especially from the flax seeds bind to excess estrogen and help your body to eliminate it) High zinc levels in pumpkin seeds prevent the estrogen from converting to harmful forms of testosterone and also prime your body for progesterone production which will happen in the second half of the cycle.

The sunflower and sesame combo used in the luteal phase of the cycle has a much lighter dose of lignans from the sesame seeds, but is rich in zinc and selenium which helps progesterone production.  These seeds are also a rich source of linoleic acid, an essential fatty acid which can convert to gamma linolenic acid, which also helps the balance between progesterone and estrogen.

The seeds should be organic and raw if  possible and ground fresh every day or two just because the oils in the seeds can go rancid if they’re ground for too long.  You can add the seeds in anywhere that it’s easy for you and if you completely hate eating seeds you can mix them into a small glass of juice and gulp it down.

If you’re working on getting pregnant and need more information about how seed cycling and pregnancy go together then read this post – seeds are a tremendous support to your own little sprout. 🙂

The Big Picture of Seed Cycling

The big picture of seed cycling for hormone balance. Because your cycle follows the moon.

The big picture of seed cycling for hormone balance. Because your cycle follows the moon.

If you want a handout form – it’s right here:  Seed Cycle for Hormone Balance

Also – if you don’t know the moon’s current phase, here’s that info. Thanks reader Zahra for reminding me that this isn’t here!

CURRENT MOON



Awesome Guide to Spices

I try to usually go for my own content, but I was so enchanted by the awesome guide to spices from cooksmart that I had to share it with you.  Cooking, especially if you’re new at it, can be totally mysterious – like alchemy or witchcraft (or chemistry, if you felt about it the way I did).  You add things to a pot in the right order and at some mysterious moment it changes into food and the trickiest of all of those things happens to be the spices.  After all, the difference between too runny mashed potatoes and the joy of Vichy sois (a french potato-leek soup) is pretty much all about the spices.  One is an epic fail and the other is unforgettably delicious – which is where this great guide to spices comes in.

Cook Smarts Guide to Spices




Awesome guide to spices from cooksmarts.  This can totally help when you really don't know what flavor to add to what

Awesome guide to spices from Stephanie Pando at Cook Smarts. This can totally help when you really don’t know what flavor to add to what.

Remember too your spices are often adding a tremendous amount of antioxidants, anti-inflammatory and nutritional value to dishes so generally the more seasonings the better!  Perhaps I’ll come up with a guide to spices for health because there are so many documented health benefits for each one. Turmeric, ginger and garlic are some of the best anti-inflammatories in the world and rosemary and oregano both have compounds that boost immune response and help fight off foreign invaders. Even a spice you might associate with sweets and treats and only unhealthy food like cinnamon is actually tremendously helpful in controlling and regulating blood sugar. Herbs and spices add tremendous benefits in flavor, in color and in health to any meal so starting to use them or use a wider variety can be a great step forward for both your health and your taste buds. Hopefully if you’re stuck in a food-rut, as I often am, using this great guide to spices will help shake up the menu and add a little pizazz to dinner.



Easy Seasonal Eating For Winter

Seasonal eating is something I feel passionately about – but seasonal eating for winter can be harder than in other seasons because it’s, well, winter.  So here are some easy ways to incorporate some seasonal into your diet and to help your body manage the season in the best ways possible.

Why Eat Seasonally?

It’s easy to dismiss this as a hippy/trendy kind of idea that has no real merit, but seasonal eating is the cornerstone of many ancient and holistic medical traditions.  Of course there are the side benefits of getting to buy from local farmers and not having to let your food wilt during cross-country (or cross-globe shipping) but the big thing really is health.  In the winter this is especially important because your body’s needs change with the more extreme outdoor climate (yes, even in Texas).  Your body uses more energy for basics like warmth and you may find yourself needing more sleep in the colder, darker winter months. So here are some seasonal Eating tips that optimize winter veggies and your winter health.

Love Your Squash (And Their Seeds)

Squash is just about the quintessential winter vegetable and comes in many tantalizing varieties including acorn, winter, delicata, pumpkin, butternut, hubbard, spaghetti, kabocha, and crook-neck. With names like that it’s hard not to be intrigued. All of these squash have yellow to orange flesh, which is saturated with healthy carotenoids – which are compounds in the vitamin A family. All of the orange/yellow veggies have these carotenoid nutrients by color – it’s literally the colored pigments that supply the nutrition. These carotenoids, some of which convert to vitamin A, help boost your immunity against winter colds and flus, help to protect your dark vision (this is the dark season, after all) and are also high in potassium, vitamin B6 and folate. Additionally one serving of squash gives you half of your RDA of vitamin C, which also helps keep you protected from colds and flus. Nutritionally they provide lots of complex carbohydrates but very low sugars, which helps your body have the sustained energy it needs to help keep you warm and cozy.  Squash are also very filling because of the complex carbs, giving you the delightfully full-belly feeling that we all crave in the winter.




Squash and pumpkin seeds are also a great nutritional input in the winter and any squash seeds can be roasted and salted for a lovely crunchy snack. These seeds are high in good fats, protein and minerals and also add a tremendous boost to your immune system for this vulnerable time of year. Seasonal eating for winter isn’t so hard, right?

The Best Roast Squash and Pumpkin seeds:

Scoop the seeds out of the squash and remove most of the pulp.
Drizzle the seeds with a little olive oil and rub the oil onto the seeds so they’re coated
Spread the seeds out over a baking sheet and sprinkle with sea salt

Bake at 350 for 10-15 minutes or until the seeds start to turn golden-brown.

Watch them carefully because once they start to brown they really brown in a hurry. The little bit of squash pulp and juice that is left on the seeds adds a nice flavor with the olive oil and salt, but be careful. These are totally addictive so if you’re planning on using them as a salad-topper or anything like that be sure to hide them from the family. Otherwise they’ll be gone in a flash.

Winter Greens – Nutrient-Packed Winter Goodness

In winter the cold-weather greens abound. Think cabbage and kale and Brussels sprouts. The cold weather keeps these greens sweet and tender and the greens help you to stay healthy and illness-free in the winter. These are nutritional powerhouses which are high in vitamins A, C, K and folate.  Also they have a good balance between complex carbs, fiber, protein and good fats. Also, Brussels sprouts cut in half and fried with bacon pieces is a treat beyond compare – seriously even non-veggie people love this.

Go For the Root Veggies

‘Tis the season for all the underground veggie goodness to get underway. Think beets, carrots, parsnips, turnips and sweet potatoes. A cubed root-veggie mix is perfect to drizzle with olive oil and roast in the oven at 425 or so for a warming, nutrient-dense winter treat.  Roasted root veggies literally make you feel warm when you eat them and are also packed with the nutrients your body needs for the winter months.

Gorgeous root veggies - perfect for seasonal eating for winter. Lovely picture from eatingbirdfood.com

Gorgeous root veggies – perfect for seasonal eating for winter. Lovely picture from eatingbirdfood.com

Again these veggies are packed with vitamin A and other antioxidants, as well as the complex carbs needed to sustain warmth in the winter. Also high in fiber and highly filling.

Slow Cooked Soups and Stews – The Easiest Seasonal Eating for Winter Ever.

Of course the perfect food in the winter is slow-cooked.  Pot roast with root veggies, slow-cooked stew, veggie-rich chili, or homemade chicken soup.  These are the foods that warm and nourish you. The slow-cooking does all of the heavy digestive work for you and these foods are mostly broken-down and actually make you feel warm inside. In Traditional Chinese Medicine slow cooked foods are appropriate for winter when your body needs heat and easy nourishment and when warmth is a priority. Also the slow cooking releases all of the nutrients from root veggies and softens them up so a lovely roast surrounded by root veggies is the quintessential winter dish. Seasonal eating for winter makes sense on this level – you’re semi-hibernating and need easy nutrition that keeps you warm and cozy and is the food equivalent of fuzzy socks and a fireplace.  The fall-apart in your mouth meat of a pot-roast is just what you need to warm up. Also as long as you’re using grass fed, grass finished beef you’re getting a good dose of omega-3 fats, iron to build your blood and easy to digest protein.

pot roast is the perfect food for seasonal eating for winter. Thanks to colonywinemarket.com for this yummy picture.

pot roast is the perfect food for seasonal eating for winter. It’s exactly what you want on a cold day. Thanks to colonywinemarket.com for this yummy picture.

Seasonal eating for winter sounds like it should be difficult, but just follow your gut. The squash heaped in gorgeous piles around the farmers market are begging to be eaten. All of those crisp winter greens are packed with nutrients and the colorful root veggies tempt your senses.  Best of all, the slow-cooked soups and stews that feel so good on a cold day are exactly what your body wants for health.