Welcome! I'm Alli and I'm a Nutritional Therapy Practitioner living in Framingham, MA. I believe in the power real food has to optimize your health. I do not believe in a one size fits all eating style and will work with you to achieve your goals.
And just like that, we are at the halfway mark! 20 weeks feels so significant to me because the “teen” weeks of pregnancy were filled with lots of ups and downs and just so much change from week to week. Back at 12 weeks pregnant we had an ultrasound where our baby finally looked like- a baby! Not just a little bean. And that was such a joyful moment. But then I still had some anxiety and nerves around this last ultrasound, the “big one”, as this was the one where all other abnormalities were ruled out and we made sure everything was developing properly. Not to mention that we found out the sex of the baby and had a gender reveal party at week 18. There’s just been a lot going on! But it’s truly the best and I feel so happy and grateful every time I feel those little kicks in my belly. So let’s go back a bit and talk about how the past few weeks have been!
Week 16 was a good one! I was waiting for this week and for baby to be the size of my favorite fruit- an avocado!
I was pretty busy this past week so didn’t get too much accomplished on the activity front besides a few online videos and some walks, but oh well- it comes in ebbs and flows!
I felt like maaaaaybe I felt the baby this week? Two times it sort of felt like a “nerve jumping” a few times in my uterus. But it certainly wasn’t an obvious moment like “oh! That’s the baby!” and I haven’t really felt anything consistent. So excited to feel movement every day!
Week 17 flew by! Work was incredibly busy and weeknights were mostly just spent trying to get a little exercise and having dinner then going to bed. I’m happy I can actually make it to 10pm now without feeling totally wiped out, but I’m still pretty tired in the evenings.
The weekend is where things got pretty crazy. We had a major issue with our shower and ended up having to re-tile the entire thing! Luckily we have friends/ family who helped out and who knew what they were doing. On the one hand it was a very expensive weekend, on the flip side we now have a beautiful new shower and it wasn’t nearly as expensive as it would have been if we had it done professionally.
Week 18 was super busy but so great! We had a doctor’s appointment on Thursday morning- everything seems absolutely perfect and I never get tired of hearing that heartbeat! We had some warmer temps on Tuesday and Wednesday which was such a welcome relief- hello 70 degree weather you cannot come too soon! Unfortunately it was back to snow/ rain the next day, but at least it was nice to have a brief thaw out! And then my parents came on Friday night to spend the weekend with us for our gender reveal party on Saturday! We also installed a new reverse osmosis water filter and it’s fantastic. I have been wanting a water filter for a while and this one did not disappoint. The water tastes SO clean and now i can finally stop buying crazy expensive water from Whole Foods : )
Our gender reveal party was so much fun. I am so grateful to have so many friends/ family members willing to help out and it was a huge success. We had waaaaay too much food, but everyone had a great time. At about 8:30, we did the big reveal and finally announced that we are having a…..GIRL! Erik and I actually found out before the party as I wanted us to have a private moment for us to find out. I am so glad we found out in advance because I was actually almost positive it was a boy! My acupuncturist had been telling me that he thought it was a boy pretty much since I found out I was pregnant, and so I kept picturing this little blonde baby boy! So I’m glad that I found out so I can switch the image in my head ; )
Sunday everyone was pretty tired- Erik had to catch an early flight for a work trip and so I just hung out with my parents in the morning and had a leisurely breakfast plus my mom helped me with some items on my baby registry. When you’re trying to get mostly nontoxic items, I have found that building a registry is a massive effort as each item requires like, hours of research : / at least for the big stuff. But thankfully I have some fellow NTP friends who have had babies recently and who I can ask tons of questions to about baby gear.
The weekend finished up with my prenatal yoga class and getting some salmon at whole foods since I think my body was just craving some healthy food. Two days of pizza/ cake and my body is like “nope- please give me nutrients!”
Week 19 was a great one, although most of the week was spent just waiting for our ultrasound on Thursday! As usual, I was nervous/ anxious going in to the appointment but it could not have gone better. Baby girl was measuring exactly at 19 weeks and 4 days (exactly where I’m at with my pregnancy) and everything looked perfect. The female body will never cease to amaze me that my body is just developing this perfect little human while I’m just going about my normal life. It’s incredible!
On Saturday Erik and I went to Buy Buy Baby for the first time to check out some items on our registry. It was so much fun and we were able to narrow down a few essential items like what stroller we want.
And now for a change of pace, here are some additional updates:
Here’s what’s been going on with baby during week 19!
She is measuring about 6 inches long and weighs about 8.5 ounces
She has developed a protective coating over her skin called the vernix caseosa
She is working on her senses and nerve cells for her taste, hearing, sight, and smell are developing in her brain
Her kicks and movements are getting stronger
Here’s what’s been happening with me this past week:
Weight gained: I don’t typically weigh myself and primarily just see the scale at appointments. I don’t really think this is a necessary item to comment on either as every single pregnant woman is different!
Workouts: This week was pretty good! Online strength video, online pilates video, walks with Kenzie, and two yoga classes
Symptoms: Not much! Getting a few nosebleeds but not sure if that’s from the dryness/ cold or from pregnancy and my belly is definitely starting to pop more.
Movement: Yes! I started feeling the baby a bit around week 16 sporadically, but now it’s daily where I can feel these little tiny movements. It sort of feels like bubbles or little kicks and I usually feel her most after a meal and when I’m relaxing at night.
Food Aversions: There is nothing that sounds absolutely horrible, but some things that I’m just not in the mood for like sweet potatoes, raw veggies, olive oil, kale and cauliflower mashed potatoes. Also, if I eat something too many days in a row I want nothing to do with it.
Food Cravings: All the dairy- still going strong on wanting yogurt, cottage cheese, regular cheese, sour cream, etc., regular baked potatoes (not sweet potato), and carbs.
Sleep: Okay- I’m trying to sleep on my side but I’m waking up a lot as I find myself on my back and I try to flip over.
Maternity clothes: yes! I’m still mostly living in lululemon align leggings when I’m at home because they have a high waist, but I also got my first pair of maternity jeans and a few sweaters. I’m still primarily wearing regular jeans, but they are becoming increasingly uncomfortable.
Miss anything?: Not really! I was oddly craving a beer this weekend (not wine) and could go for some sushi, but it’s not an intense craving. Also, I do miss being able to do intense exercise, but honestly, that hasn’t happened for like 2 years ; )
Baby Items Purchased: not too much yet but we did go to Buy Buy Baby and are working on our registry.
Looking forward to: Erik being able to finally feel the baby!
And now we are all caught up! Super excited to see what these next few weeks bring but all in all, I’ve felt great and haven’t had anything crazy on the symptom front! Hope it stays this way!
It’s important to get started eating a healthy, nutrient dense diet before pregnancy but I also think it’s challenging to get in all of the proper vitamins/ minerals on diet alone. Once you become pregnant, the baby will quickly start to use up your nutrient stores so it’s very important to have built a solid base (I recommend getting started on a supplement protocol at least 3-6 months before trying to conceive- and this includes both future moms and dads!) and also make sure you are eating as nutrient dense as possible.
Below is the list of supplements that I took prior to getting pregnant and continue taking during my pregnancy. We each have individual and unique needs, but this has worked very well for me.
A good Prenatal
I personally chose Seeking Health Optimal Prenatal as my prenatal vitamin. It is more expensive than some other prenatals, but I think the benefits are well worth it. It contains methyfolate which is very important if you have the MTHFR mutation (which I do!) which means that you can’t process synthetic forms of folic acid. About 50% of people have the MTHFR mutation (if you have it- you most likely don’t know that you do!) so I recommend that most people just take the methylated version of folate even if they’re unsure whether or not they have MTHFR- might as well cover your bases!
It also contains the methylated version of B12 which again, is important for those of us with MTHFR.
Besides that, it contains all the other basic vitamins that are important in pregnancy like Vitamin A, Biotin, Vitamin C, Vitamin D3, Coenzyme Q10, etc. It does not contain Iron so I do take a liver supplement (see below).
Some other great prenatals are: Thorne Basic Prenatal, Vitamin Code Raw Prenatal and Innate Response Prenatal.
Although my prenatal contains vitamin D3, I prefer to take a larger dose so I also take additional supplemental D3 (see my post here). Vitamin D can help reduce many pregnancy complications like gestational diabetes. It is also important for baby’s bone and hormone development and can also support mom’s own immune system during pregnancy.
I believe that taking magnesium and my probiotic (see below) during pregnancy has been the reason I have not had the dreaded constipation that plagues most pregnant women. I have been able to keep completely “regular” which I am very happy about! Magnesium is incredibly important to help mom’s tissue growth and recovery during pregnancy and can also help the baby obtain more nutrients from the placenta.
Probiotic support is so important, and particularly during pregnancy. During birth, babies receive beneficial gut bacteria from their mom as they pass through the birth canal and then from nursing afterwards. This beneficial bacteria is important for baby’s own immune system and lifelong health. Probiotics also help mom avoid illness and constipation while pregnant. This is the one I take, but I usually switch it up every couple of bottles to a new brand.
I have continued taking Betaine HCL with my high protein meals during pregnancy which keeps my digestion running smoothly. I am interested if this could also help down the road when a lot of pregnant women start to experience heartburn (see my post here)! Knock on wood, I have never experienced heartburn and I hope to avoid it during pregnancy as well!
Vital Proteins Beef Liver
Liver is a great source of nutrients for all of us, including pregnant women. But unfortunately I have tried liver in a bunch of different recipes and I just cannot eat it (I have literally used up an entire stick of butter and pound of bacon in the process of trying to make liver palatable and ended up having to feed the whole thing to my dog). But all is not lost! I supplement with liver to still get all of its great nutrients without having to deal with the taste : )
Prenatal Omega 3
Essential Fatty Acids are extremely important to consume for our overall health. Most people think of omega 3’s and cardiovascular health, but they also help provide a healthy immune system, better brain and cognitive function, joint mobility, eye health, lactation, and skin/ hair benefits. Unless you are extremely focused on eating a ton of healthy fats, it can be difficult to get in enough DHA and EPA, especially during pregnancy when a woman’s demand increases substantially. Here is some of the research for fish oil benefits during pregnancy/ lactation: (https://nordicnaturals.com/en/consumers/why-omega-3s/542)
Promotes the healthy development of the fetal brain, eyes, nervous system*
• Promotes positive mood and well-being for mothers*
• Supports healthy birth weight and gestational length*
• Promotes attention and focus in infants and children*
• Supports healthy immune system development*
• Is natural and safe for long-term use
Before I get into this next update, I want to thank everyone who has reached out to me about my last post. Also, I am doing fine, baby is doing fine, and overall I am feeling much less anxious/ stressed. But I wanted to be honest in my last post and bring to light something that isn’t talked about that much- that this process is not necessarily easy for everyone and therefore some of those fears/ anxious thoughts don’t just end the day you see a positive pregnancy test. And I also want others who are struggling on their own journey to know they are not alone- and I’m always here to talk!
Now, let’s jump back in to the weekly updates!
The best part of the week was announcing the pregnancy to family. On Christmas Eve we went to Erik’s cousin’s house with his mom’s whole side of the family for our annual Christmas Eve party. We did our Yankee Swap, then Erik’s brother made a beautiful toast to their Dad who had passed away last July. He remarked on what an amazing man Dave was, and how holidays and other months, like July (when Dave was born and when he passed away) would be particularly hard. But at the end he said “But we now have something very exciting to look forward to in July and I have the pleasure to announce that I will be an Uncle”. It was so, so sweet and such a wonderful moment. There is a lot of sadness this holiday season, but this baby is already bringing so much happiness and joy!
As far as symptoms for 9 weeks go, I felt pretty good! As usual, this made me nervous, but other than craving macaroni and cheese (and being grossed out at the idea of salad- who am I?) I felt pretty normal!
Baby is growing like crazy this past week (and is the size of a cherry). Amazing to believe five weeks ago baby was only the size of a little poppy seed!
Week 10 flew by! Started out with Christmas which was a really wonderful day, then on Wednesday we had an appointment where we got some usual first trimester screenings/ testing completed. Feeling really good this week! If I wasn’t positive I was pregnant I would almost forget!
For New Year’s weekend we headed off to Portland, ME with a few friends and had an amazing weekend there. Our airbnb was super cute and even though it was incredibly cold (the high was 5 degrees!) we had so much fun just hanging out in the house, playing games (monopoly for the most part), going to a brewery (lots of water for me!), taking the dogs to the park to get their energy out, and eating some great meals. It was perfect for me being pregnant since we didn’t do anything taxing and I could pretty much go to bed whenever I felt like it.
On the agenda for this week is another doctor’s visit at a new office, getting back to work, the start of my January RESTART program, a few clients and a MASSAGE on Sunday (omg can’t wait).
Week 11 had a lot of great moments! I met with a second doctor at a hospital closer by who was recommended to me by my chiropractor. I wasn’t in love with her- she seemed very smart and competent but kind of a “tell it like it is” kind of person and I prefer a little more comforting/ gentle approach. But that being said, the most important thing is to have a doctor that knows what he/ she is doing and I will have a doula for that other type of support system. I’m also going to interview/ chat with some midwives. I don’t think I want a homebirth, but I would just love to know how their care differs from the standard, traditional care of a hospital.
We also got all of our testing results back and everything came back negative! We opted to do a test that tests for all of the Trisomy issues as well as some chromosomal abnormalities. I also did a carrier screening test to see if I was a carrier for any type of disease, and I am not! I know there is more testing down the line but it’s great to get these big ones over with.
Wow I can’t believe I am in the last week of the first trimester! I mean, I still feel like I have a super long way to go, but at the same time this day felt so far away when I first found out I was pregnant. And like I recapped in the last post, I obviously had a lot of fears getting to this point but everything is going perfectly!
This week we had our 12 week ultrasound so I felt like every single day was just a countdown to that day. As usual, I was a bit anxious since my symptoms mostly disappeared starting in week 11. My boobs weren’t as sore, I finally had my energy back (and have managed to get in a few good workouts finally!) and I can eat vegetables again- hallelujah.
The day of our ultrasound I was a nervous wreck, and driving there neither Erik nor I spoke much. But as soon as the tech put the wand on my stomach I could see our baby! The baby’s heartbeat was thumping away and was moving its legs and arms around. It was absolutely amazing to see. They also did some checks to verify no physical abnormalities and everything came back looking perfect! We got the most adorable pictures and I just can’t stop looking at them.
I know I feel like I say this every time, but now that I have verification the baby is doing great, I feel like I can relax and not worry about symptoms coming and going. We are going to start planning our gender reveal party and also I want to start planning out some trips that I’m going to be taking in the next few months including a “baby-moon” for me and Erik.
Week 13 actually flew by because I was SO busy. In fact, I was way too busy and had a few nights where I actually cried because I felt like I had too much on my plate. I had an event where I spoke about “Nutrition for Glowing and Radiant Skin” (that went awesome!), I had my RESTART class and I had to go to Pittsburgh for a work trip which involved a 3:30am wakeup call (yikes). But once we got to the weekend it was great. On Saturday, Erik and I took our announcement photo pictures and also had an amazing dinner at a friend’s restaurant. Sunday I spent a lot of time reading through some of my baby books (I have a few I’m reading right now that I’ll write a post about) and that made me feel better because I feel like I’m behind on my research! I know SO much about trying to conceive and getting pregnant but it’s equally important (actually more so!) to understand birth, and everything about the baby once he/ she arrives!
I can’t believe I’m in my second trimester now….I’m 1/3 of the way done with this pregnancy already! Knock on wood it’s been easy so far and so I hope it continues to go that way!
This week pretty much flew by and overall it was a very good week.
I sort of went backwards in the cravings department though- I still mostly ate healthy food but really craved cheese, bread-y foods, pasta, etc. Very different for someone who ate mostly keto a few months ago! But I’m just rolling with it and assuming that the baby really wants some calcium and extra carbs so I just try to make my choices the best ones possible : )
Overall, I’ve physically felt pretty good this week- I was able to do an online Pilates class, an online strength class, go walking a few times, and go to 2 yoga classes (including a prenatal yoga class!) So overall, it was definitely a good week of movement and exercise. I’ve also been really focusing on trying to sleep as much as possible which I am happy to report that sleep is still going strong. I’m still not waking up to pee in the middle of the night, but usually I do wake up on the earlier side.
I also got a ton of research done this week. I spent a lot of time figuring out what i want to add to my baby registry (because I want to find products that are non-toxic and all natural, but also aren’t unnecessarily crazy expensive) and researching some things that will come up after the baby is born and what we will want to do.
This past week was really great! On Monday we finally met our doctor who will *hopefully!* be delivering our baby (unless she is unexpectedly not available) and I also think I made a decision on a doula. I just felt super comfortable with her and I think she’s going to be an amazing resource.
I also finished up my last RESTART class which went great! The women in this class did awesome and I’ll probably do one more class before the baby comes because I’ve gotten a lot of interest in another class!
On the activity front, I was also very happy with this week. Did a few online workouts including one called “bump at the barre” (I forgot how hard barre can be when you are out of practice!), Pilates, strength, walking at the gym and going to Zumba class.
I’m also finally seeing a “bump”! Day to day it’s kind of hard to notice but comparing week 12 to week 15 I see definite progress!
Week 12 to Week 15
Thank you for reading this second update! As you can probably tell, things definitely got easier for me this second half of the first trimester but given that it’s my first pregnancy, I think it’s understandable that there is still some anxiety of the unknown.
So, over the past 15 weeks or so I have been hiding a big surprise! I am pregnant! I am currently 15 ½ weeks and honestly feeling pretty darn good! In fact, feeling (surprisingly) good during this pregnancy has been a big form of anxiety for me. Almost everything I read/ heard from others was that they felt horrible, had to take naps throughout the day, experienced nausea, morning sickness, you name it. And while I had a few brief periods of feeling a little nauseous, some cravings/ aversions and a bit more tired than normal (mostly I just didn’t feel like doing much in the evenings- but honestly, this isn’t that unusual for me haha) I felt great!
I want to do a bit of a recap over the past 15 weeks and then start posting more regularly about baby stuff from here on out. You see, I have been extremely interested in hormones, fertility, pregnancy, and all things baby for a while now and I’m very excited to start to share some of this information! Also, I’ll be posting some blog posts that I wrote before I found out I was pregnant, and a bit of our story about the journey to pregnancy (which was not an easy one and was a really tough time for me).
But let’s go back a bit in time and I’ll share a bit of a summary from each week! I’ll do this in two parts, because there is just too much info to share in one post! Part 1 will be weeks 5-8.
The fifth week of pregnancy went by pretty quickly because we went home to New Jersey for Thanksgiving. I told my parents that we were pregnant about a week earlier so they were really excited (especially my Mom!)
Overall I’m feeling pretty good still! Not majorly tired, no real sickness (except I do feel nauseous from time to time and I threw out all of the Thanksgiving leftovers when we came home- for some reason the thought of cranberry sauce, stuffing and sweet potatoes made me ill!) but I still don’t really “feel” pregnant. I got the results back from my first HCG test and everything looked great. In 3 days I went from 274 to 892, so a nice big jump, but I still find myself stressing constantly.
I think it’s just when you want something for so long, it almost feels surreal when you get it. It was kind of like the first couple of weeks Erik and I were engaged- I was just so ecstatic and it hardly felt real. But at least then I could look down at my ring and know it was all true! So much of this early pregnancy is just wrapped up in fear and I am trying so hard to pull myself out of it. I keep trying to tell myself there is no reason to be so scared/ anxious. I have no indication nothing is wrong (although I kind of wish I felt MORE of something to really root me down in this pregnancy) and I have no family history of this type of thing. Also, I have to believe that from a vitamin/ mineral point of view, I should be golden. I started taking pre-natals over a year ago, so baby should have tons of good folate and b vitamins to use!!
Week 6 was a week of highs and lows. Yesterday a sort of calm came over me and as I was exhausted and laying on the couch I wasn’t worrying so much. I feel like everything is going to go perfectly (today I get test results for my progesterone levels from Friday) and I feel like the ultrasound next week is going to show our baby with its strong little heartbeat. I can’t wait!
I definitely felt more tired this past week. Not tired like I needed to take a nap every afternoon, but just lethargic and I didn’t really want to do much. I’ve found that the mornings are pretty good for me (I’m semi nauseous and the only thing that sounds good is smoothies) but both mornings I was able to get out for a nice walk with Kenzie, go grocery shopping on Saturday and go to Zumba on Sunday. But once about 12 or 1 pm hits, I am DONE (which will be a very interesting experience now that I’m back to work….) and all I want to do is lay on the couch and watch TV. Yesterday I tried to get my nails done at around 1pm and I was dying. I actually considered leaving!
Week 7 was a bit of an emotional rollercoaster. The week started out kind of rough- I had such strong dreams and feelings that everything was okay, but when I got my progesterone level results and they went down a bit from two weeks earlier, I started to panic. Our ultrasound was supposed to be on Thursday, but I could NOT wait that long and moved it up to Tuesday.
The panic I felt on Monday was nothing compared to the joy and relief I felt on Tuesday at our ultrasound! I’ve been a bit on the fence about the safety of ultrasounds and all these invasive scans, but the emotional power of seeing our baby and its strong heartbeat was overwhelming. It was a truly beautiful moment that I’ll never forget.
Unfortunately, that didn’t mean all of my anxiety disappeared. I still have some fears about making it through this first trimester, but it’s starting to dissipate. Talking to my baby helps- telling the baby why I’m scared but that I know everything is going to be perfect and okay. And also telling people we’re pregnant helps! All these people are now thinking such good, positive thoughts with us and so happy and excited for us. It also makes it feel a lot more “real”.
On Saturday we told Erik’s mom and brother. This Christmas is an especially tough time this year because this past July we lost Erik’s Dad. We went over to her house and were decorating her tree, and she actually started to get a bit emotional about the process. Then we handed her the ornament below and in her words it “changed everything”. Everyone was crying and hugging and just so, so happy. It was the best.
On Sunday we had two of our best friends (who are dating- how awesome is that!) come over for dinner. I left the ornament on the tree to see if they would notice it (which my friend actually said she looked right at it but didn’t read it!) but then put the little sign back on Kenzie and had her walk into the living room. Haha there were more tears and lots of hugging and happiness. It was a great moment and night.
How am I feeling? Honestly, not that bad. My boobs are pretty much always sore (although the intensity varies by day), I’m definitely hungrier but have very specific foods that I’m in the mood to eat, I have days of feeling incredibly tired, but other days where I’ve felt pretty normal! So it’s been pretty up and down. In a way, it makes it tough because I kind of want to just feel terrible all the time since that is just SUCH a clear sign that everything is still happening/ going okay. But that just might not be me, and I should be thankful I don’t feel awful and can still do most of the things I normally do. We’ll see what this week brings though!
For the most part, I felt pretty good during week 8! I read that the placenta starts to take over in this phase of pregnancy, so some women experience relief from symptoms. I still have a bit of nausea in the morning and my appetite is still rampant, but I wasn’t nearly as tired as week 7. Also, my hair seems to be thickening. Usually when I shower/ brush my hair a LOT falls out but now I’m only getting a few strands. And I feel like my hair has really been growing.
In terms of mood, this week has been up and down. I’ve felt a bit more emotional and moody and have taken it out on Erik a few times. I got another progesterone test and while I was happy my levels stayed steady from last time and didn’t decrease, I still wish it was a bit higher.
These weeks are just so hard because I feel so unsure of everything. Everything is new and I’m constantly just worried and want to make sure everything is all right. But I combine this with the fact that I’ve been reading lots of books/ articles about how we are often checking “too much” on the babies during pregnancy with ultrasounds, dopplers, etc. and that might not be good for them either. It’s just a balance between wanting to make sure and confirm everything is going well, and just trusting my body.
This week is big since we have our first doctor appointment with a new doctor in Cambridge. I’m hoping everything goes well and I like the practice and I’m also looking forward to hearing/ seeing our baby!
So that was weeks 5-8! I will be putting up at some point our journey to getting pregnant and also finding out we were pregnant/ telling Erik. Thank you for reading and ask any questions below!
So, confession time. I’m not really eating “keto” anymore. While I whole heartedly agree with the benefits of a ketogenic diet, being so strict wasn’t really working for me. You see, I’ve done a lot of work over the years trying to be less restrictive and less “black and white” and “one size fits all” when it comes to food. And, as I learned as a Nutritional Therapist, I think a variety of diets can be healthy for a variety of people. Not everyone feels their best eating one particular way. And so while I learned a lot of great lessons from eating keto, and a lot that I will still incorporate, I’m going to move back towards my “real food” approach and not put as many labels on what I eat.
I had some pretty cool benefits eating a really high fat/ low carb diet. I didn’t feel hungry very often and I could go long stretches of time without feeling like I needed to eat. That was fun and all, but I was really doing keto for hormone balance. And really, while hormone balance is definitely affected by the foods you eat and can be thrown off by eating too much sugar/ processed foods and not enough good healthy fat and protein, hormone imbalance also comes from stress.
And so I found that I was often stressed about what to eat. I would get into ketosis, but had a really tough time staying in it, and I felt like I really didn’t have much wiggle room if I wanted to stay in it. So, for example, I could get in to ketosis one day, but the next day just have a liiiiiittle too many carbs (in the forms of berries, avocado, dark chocolate, etc.) and then I would be thrown out of ketosis. But I still felt really good! So really, it was just this obsession with the number on the ketone meter that was throwing me off. I felt good whether I was at a .7 (technically in ketosis which is .5 and above) or if I was at a .3, but since I have a type A, goal oriented personality, as soon as I saw a .3 I “failed” and then spent all this time figuring out what I did wrong.
Dried mango- I missed you!
I also realized this wasn’t the best plan for me when I found myself really wanting an apple, but told myself I couldn’t have it because it had “too many carbs”. Nope. I am so not about restricting food, especially good, healthy food. Or even something like a cupcake. If I really want a cupcake, I’m going to eat the cupcake. But panicking that I was going to get knocked out of ketosis just wasn’t fun.
Chicken veggie soup and homemade almond flour bread with butter
I also found myself craving more carbs. Nothing excessive, but I just wanted to be able to have a sweet potato with dinner or a banana as a snack with almond butter. And sometimes, I just didn’t want to eat tons of fat instead of these carbs. I felt like I was making myself add all this fat, even if I didn’t particularly want it, to try and get full when really having some rice or a sweet potato would have done the trick.
“Peanut butter” cups
Am I glad I tried keto? Absolutely. A lot of my meals look different now and my obsession with healthy fats still continues, but I also know that my body responds just fine to eating some additional carbs. The sugar dragon doesn’t come out if I have some banana or rice; I’m able to eat it and just move on. And I like being able to have that balance as it puts less stress on me. It makes it easier to go out to eat with friends and also make balanced meals for me and my husband.
I think keto can be a really beneficial experiment. For some people, there are AMAZING results and so I think you should definitely try it out if you are wondering how it will work for you, especially if you are battling with an illness like a neurological disease or Diabetes. And if you end up not loving it, no big deal, you can start to re-adjust your macros a bit to get back to a place that works well for YOUR body.
As the weather turns cooler, I find myself moving back towards warm drinks in the morning. I gave up coffee over a year ago to try and help with some adrenal fatigue I was experiencing. If you are interested in learning more, this article gives more details on how coffee could be contributing to adrenal fatigue, but essentially as a “Type A”, overly stressed out individual, coffee wasn’t doing me any favors. So I gave it up over a period of a few weeks, and I’m amazed to say that after a few months, the craving has gone away almost entirely. I did have a few decaf cappuccinos in Italy (because you really can’t say no to the coffee there), but in terms of caffeinated coffee or beverages I haven’t had any in over a year.
Even if you aren’t giving up coffee entirely, these caffeine free drinks are great at any time of the day (maybe you want to try replacing your afternoon coffee with one of these!)
Dandy blend is a gluten free drink made from the roasted roots of dandelion, chicory and beets, and the grains of barley and rye. It is completely gluten free. It has a similar appearance and texture to coffee, and I enjoy it made bulletproof (with ghee/butter and coconut oil) or with a tiny bit of organic heavy cream. You can find it on amazon here
Dandelion Root Tea
Dandelion root tea doesn’t taste like coffee, but for some reason the bitterness of the drink makes me feel like it’s similar to that coffee sensation. Dandelion root tea is amazing for your liver and a great detoxifying drink, it’s also great for digestion when you may be feeling a bit “backed up”.
Bone Broth Latte
If you are interested in making bone broth, you can follow my recipe here or you might buy it (lately I have been obsessed with Osso Good Bone Broth and have been buying it by the case). A wonderful morning drink made with bone broth is my Tumeric Ginger Bone Broth Latte which blends bone broth with coconut oil and warm spices. Great way to start your day with tons of vitamins and minerals!
Golden Milk Latte
Golden milk is all over the place lately, mainly because of the anti-inflammatory properties of turmeric. It’s a soothing drink full of nutrients, antioxidants and delicious flavors. I like this recipe here
Paleo Hot Chocolate
Who didn’t love hot chocolate as a kid? I know I used to drink the swiss miss packets all the time. But once you get used to what “real” food tastes like, trying to drink hot chocolate from a packet with all the artificial sweeteners is just gross. This recipe uses cacao powder (a superfood!), coconut milk, almond milk, cinnamon and vanilla extract. You’ll get a bit of caffeine from the cacao powder, but as long as that doesn’t bother you, this is a wonderful nourishing drink!
Cacao Hot Chocolate
1/2 cup coconut milk (canned- full fat)
1/2 cup almond milk
1/2 cup water
2 tbsp cacao powder
1 tsp maple syrup
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tso vanilla extract
1/4 tsp salt
1 scoop collagen peptides (optional)
In a small pot, whisk all ingredients together until they come to a boil and let simmer for a few minutes. Serve with desired toppings (like whipped cream!) and enjoy!
Let’s say that you just started a new diet or fitness program and are feeling super motivated. You clean out your kitchen and pantry of all the offending foods, you’ve penciled in daily activity, and you’ve decided that this is going to be the time that you finally kick to the curb some bad habits. But then at the end of the week when you got to check on that pesky scale, your weight hasn’t budged (or maybe it’s even gone up!)
Or maybe you’ve been doing a program/ plan for a while. At the beginning the weight loss was noticeable- “goodbye water weight!” and “I’m losing a pound a week!” but then after a little while, it stalls.
So, what gives?
Our bodies are really smart. They like consistency and even though you mentally have decided that now is a good time to start restricting food or training for a half marathon, our bodies might not be on board. Or temporarily our bodies start to change because of the suddenness of the change, but then as soon as our bodies figure out what’s going on, they will down regulate our metabolism to adjust to the new food quantity or exercise routine and your weight loss either stalls or you can even start to gain weight (when you haven’t done anything differently!) This is why shows like the Biggest Loser for example aren’t realistic and most participants end up putting the weight back on. (link)
But, you shouldn’t dismay. There are effective ways to lose weight but you may be surprised with some of the reasons why the weight isn’t coming off.
You’re not eating ENOUGH calories
As I stated above, when our bodies think they are going in to starvation they go into conservation mode. They worry that the next meal might not be coming for a really long time or it might be another meal with skimpy calories, so we start to store whatever food is available into our fat stores for later. And, to top it all off, your body sends you intense hunger signals so all you can do is think about food.
You’re not eating the correct macronutrients
We all need three basic macronutrients: protein, fat and carbs. I generally see that people are lacking on the protein and fat, and eating way too many carbs. Eating too many carbs pumps out insulin in our body which is a fat storage hormone. Protein causes a small insulin spike, and fat causes virtually no insulin spike. So eating foods (macronutrients) that cause the least amount of insulin to be secreted can be a really effective weight loss strategy. Also, fat keeps you satiated for longer periods of time so usually you will inadvertently eat less without even paying attention to it (and while keeping your body happy!)
You’re working out too much
It can be hard to draw a line of what is working out too much versus too little. It absolutely varies from person to person- one person may be able to train for a marathon without too much impact on their body but other people are working out incredibly hard, 7 days a week and just can’t figure out why it’s not allowing them to lose weight. Pushing our bodies too hard can have an adverse effect on weight loss, but again, it varies from person to person. So if you’ve been working out really hard 5-7 days a week and aren’t seeing your expected results, then back off to 3-4 times a week and add in some yoga/ walking/ stretching. But, on the flip side, if you aren’t seeing results from food alone and you aren’t doing any movement- start doing something small each day. I wouldn’t all of a sudden start Crossfit, but I would say to get at least 30 minutes of some type of exercise each day (yoga, walking, barre, Zumba, etc.)- whatever makes you happy!
You have a sluggish thyroid
Ah, the thyroid gland. It’s definitely been a hot topic lately as everyone thinks they have a thyroid problem. Which, you may or may not. I do think it’s worthwhile to get tested (and get tested properly which means getting T3, T4, Reverse T3 and TSH) as your results might be in the “normal” range but they still might not be in a place that makes you feel good. If the thyroid isn’t working well, it will down regulate your metabolism and yes, cause you to gain weight because it wants to be in conservation mode. Your thyroid knows that there isn’t enough thyroid hormone available for you to be super active or just keep burning your metabolism so it slows things down.
You’re not getting enough sleep
Getting more sleep is certainly not the most exciting topic, but it’s one of the most important things you can do for your health. I would argue that if you aren’t getting enough sleep, then you can pretty much guarantee you won’t lose weight (or at least won’t be able to keep it off). Sleep is so imperative- it’s when our body repairs all of our cells and gets our hormones back in check. It’s also important to be sleeping at the right So that means, sleeping when it’s dark and waking up when it begins to become light. Staying up too late into the night causes our body to secrete extra cortisol in order to give you a second wind. Also sleeping too long into the morning doesn’t make us feel good either. So try to get in bed around 9:30-10pm and get up around 6-7am the next day.
Did any of these resonate with you? What are some reasons you have found in your own experience that have stalled or encouraged weight loss?
In a perfect world, we would be able to get all of our vitamins and minerals from the food we eat. We would be eating a diet rich in vegetables, which were grown in nutrient dense soil, and we would eat high quality proteins like grass fed beef, pastured eggs and wild fish. We would also be eating a wide variety of foods, including nuts, seeds, fats, organ meats, etc.
Our ancestors ate around 300 or so different types of foods and they rotated seasonally. Today, we eat about 17-20 (and for some people, that’s even a generous estimate). Give it a try- write down all of the foods you eat on a regular basis. It is probably a much smaller variety than you even realize.
We also have a lot more stressors in life today. While our ancestors had to contend with running from a wild animal on an occasional basis, we are bombarded with stressors from the moment we wake up to a blaring alarm clock to the moment we drive home in stop and go traffic. We breathe in fumes, use products on our skin that tax our liver, and eat while standing up or in the car on the way to our next appointment.
All of this leads to why I really believe our bodies do need some extra support, and I think using a few supplements can be very impactful. These are some that I almost always recommend to clients.
Betaine HCL- This is probably my favorite supplement. I would recommend working with a Nutritional Therapy Practitioner, or a holistic/ functional MD, to better understand how to use HCL, but it can have a huge impact on your overall digestion. Betaine HCL provides hydrochloric acid which is necessary for digestion of your food. If you want to read more about why acid is actually IMPERATIVE for digestion, read my blog post here. If you are dealing with acid reflux, you almost certainly need hydrochloric acid because you are actually producing too little stomach acid versus producing too much. By taking acid suppressors (like Tums) you will get rid of the symptom of the acid reflux, but it won’t help out your digestion at all. If you are not digesting your food, you will not gain any of the benefits from it. When clients say they are eating a good diet, but still don’t feel well, digestion is always the first place I look.
Vitamin D– Our bodies make Vitamin D from the sun but we also need to have all of the correct “cofactors” in place in order to properly absorb it. One of these cofactors is having enough cholesterol (so this is why people on low fat diets are usually deficient!) However when you live in a place that’s not warm most of the year (sigh, New England) and you work inside most days of the week, it can be difficult to get enough of this vitamin. Vitamin D is a “feel good” vitamin that most people know as helping you through the “winter blues”, but it also does so much more. Vitamin D helps regulate calcium metabolism and is important in protecting against osteoporosis and bone injury. You should get your levels tested in order to see just how deficient you are and how much you will need.
Probiotics- Unless you are eating fermented foods on a regular basis, you probably need a probiotic in order to provide some good bacteria to your gut. Probiotics can be incredibly beneficial as they ease bloating, constipation, etc. They also make sure that you have enough good bacteria in your gut which is hopefully more plentiful than the “bad” bacteria.
Magnesium- Magnesium is incredibly important for us and helps with so many processes in our body, many of which contribute to energy production and cardiovascular function. Magnesium is the counterbalance to calcium- calcium constricts the muscles, while magnesium relaxes them. You may realize you have a magnesium deficiency if you get muscle cramps, but it can also show up as being anxious or too stressed. We used to get high quality magnesium from our soil, but our soil has now been shown to be incredibly nutrient deficient. Therefore we can no longer rely on our vegetables and fruits to contain enough of this beneficial nutrient.
Magnesium deficiency can also show up as intense cravings for chocolate. At certain times of the month (aka around the time of our monthly cycle for ladies), our bodies crave magnesium- and thus, we end up craving chocolate. Eating chocolate isn’t necessarily a bad thing (especially if it’s a few squares of high quality dark chocolate that’s 85% or above), but these cravings can really start to take over and we end up eating a lot of sugar with our chocolate (think- chocolate ice cream). This ends up depleting magnesium even more and starts the cycle all over again.
B Complex- B vitamins are not stored very well in the body. This means that we need B vitamins daily through either diet or supplementation. B vitamins are easily depleted if your diet includes high amounts of refined and processed food, sugar or alcohol. When the amount of B taken exceeds our body’s needs, the excess is excreted through the urine (which is why you may see your pee turn bright yellow!) B vitamins provide the catalytic spark for the human body and are important in our metabolism and also the functioning of our nervous system- they can bring either relaxation to those who are stressed or energy to those who are fatigued. B vitamins are particularly important if you are a vegetarian or a vegan since B12 can only be found in animal foods.
These are just a few key supplements I think are beneficial, but because each person is unique your needs might be different! For example if you have been on a low fat diet for a number of years and then start adding fats back in, your liver and gallbladder probably need support and so you would want to take a supplement that helps you create bile (which allows you to properly break down fat). Or if you are incredibly stressed out and believe you may have adrenal fatigue, you might want to look into adaptogens. Everyone has different needs but this is a good list to get started!
Let me know your thoughts and what supplements have helped you!
As a Nutritional Therapist I hear about a lot of different ways of eating. One way that has always intrigued me was the ketogenic diet. I heard so many people talking about its amazing benefits, but to tell you the truth, I was a little scared to take the leap. However, I finally did with the help of Shawn Mynar’s Fat Burning Female Project (link) and I have to say I am thrilled with the results. Now, this doesn’t mean that every single health issue I have was magically solved overnight. Like most health changes, time is one of the greatest healers. And if you keep up a ketogenic diet for a substantial period of time, you reap the most benefits.
What is the Ketogenic Diet?
There is a lot of confusion around there about what a ketogenic diet is (I used to just picture people eating butter on sticks) and so I want to give some background about keto and who might benefit from this way of eating!
To start out with some history, the ketogenic diet first came about in the 1920’s as a way to treat epilepsy. Since then, it has also been a powerful tool for those with cancer, diabetes, and other conditions like (http://www.ketogenic-diet-resource.com/):
Acid Reflux/ GERD
So how does it work?
In a normal American diet, people eat roughly 40-60% of their calories from carbohydrates and generally limit fat intake. In a ketogenic diet, fat intake is high, protein intake is moderate, and carbohydrate intake is very low. Now, one of the biggest myths about keto is that all you eat is meat and cheese- not so. Vegetables are still a very important part of a keto diet as you want to make sure you are still consuming these important nutrients. Also, I still consider myself as doing “Paleo Keto” since I am still focusing on the elimination of gluten, dairy (mostly), soy, etc. The difference in my diet now is the elimination of a lot of the starchy carbohydrates I used to eat like plantains, sweet potatoes, regular potatoes, rice, quinoa, bread, etc.
Why would you do a ketogenic diet?
When you eat carbohydrates, they are broken down into glucose molecules and thus raise blood sugar in your body. This glucose triggers insulin to be released in order to shuttle the glucose into your cells to be used for energy. When you eat too many carbs your body releases too much insulin and over time your cells can become insulin resistant. This can eventually lead to diabetes if it is not properly managed, but before that your symptoms are usually shakiness, irritability, fatigue, weight loss resistance, feeling “hangry”, etc.
But the amazing thing about our bodies is that glucose isn’t the only way our bodies can produce energy! If we reduce our carbohydrate intake and increase our fat intake substantially, our bodies are forced to make a switch from using glucose as its primary fuel source to using ketones! Ketones are fatty acids that your body uses when carbohydrates are not available for energy. The incredible part about using ketones for energy is that they are always available- in the form of body fat. Therefore, our bodies don’t have to constantly ask for outside sources of food (aka quick carbs) when you are low on energy and instead your body always knows it has fuel immediately available in your body!
Making this switch has some incredibly powerful benefits. The thing I have most noticed over these past few months has been incredibly stable blood sugar. Now that my body isn’t constantly searching for glucose as fuel (aka needing a snack every 2 hours) I can go 5, 6 or even 7 hours without food and not be hungry. This benefit is absolutely incredible to me as I used to be thinking about food constantly and needed something every few hours at least.
Some other important benefits seen in keto are:
Hormone balance– your body uses fat to make hormones. If you are limiting your dietary fat intake (ladies- I’m especially talking to you!) you will probably have some signs of hormonal imbalance. Keto is also very powerful for other hormones like your thyroid hormones, leptin (hormone indicating that you are full), and ghrelin (hormone regulating your appetite) as well.
Balanced blood sugar- like I said above, this is a huge benefit. Most of us live on this blood sugar rollercoaster all day long as we ebb and flow from too much to too little glucose causing us to be irritable, shaky, fatigued, etc. when meals are delayed.
Better sleep- sleep issues are often related to blood sugar imbalances (see above).
More stable moods– do you get “hangry”? I definitely know I did, even on a Paleo diet! This is still caused by a blood sugar imbalance.
Weight loss– when you are fully satiated from your meals, you do not feel the need to “overeat”. Also, you are removing a lot of those foods that it’s incredibly easy to overindulge in like chips, pretzels, lots of fruit, and even sweet potato fries.
Reduced inflammation – getting into ketosis is a healing Your body can finally relax and inflammation can settle down when you aren’t experiencing blood sugar swings. Also, good dietary fat helps manage the inflammatory process (source).
Reduced cravings– this goes back to my last post! When your body is truly full (as in- it has all the nutrients it needs)- you aren’t craving food and you aren’t constantly thinking about food. You can just start to naturally eat when you’re hungry, and stop when you’re full!
Does this mean you can never eat carbs again?
No! This is also a myth about the ketogenic diet. Once your body is in ketosis, it knows it has access to this energy source and this will now be the body’s preferred source of fuel. However, that doesn’t mean that you can’t burn glucose for energy. Also, each one of us has an individual carb tolerance. Once you get into ketosis, you can test out foods to see how they affect your tolerance! For example, I have found I don’t do well with ice cream (haha surprise, surprise) but I do fine with some sweet potatoes. And even though, for example, ice cream kicks me out of ketosis, I still will have it from time to time and just know the next day I’ll get right back to my usual keto way of eating!
The ketogenic diet is an incredibly therapeutic and powerful diet. It is not a “fad” diet and has been used for a very long time with powerful results. If you wish to engage in a keto diet, I would recommend doing so with a professional because it can be a huge transition period for your body and unless you do this slowly, you could actually end up stressing your body out more (especially for women).
In my next post I’ll show you exactly what a typical day looks like on a ketogenic diet!
Question: Have you ever tried a keto diet? What did you think?
With summer in full swing, I thought it would be a great opportunity to provide some tips for all of those summer parties that seem to happen. It can be easy to get off track during the summer or not feel your best with all of the different food/ drink options around, but here are some healthier swaps for your BBQ favorites.
Cheeseburger/ Hot dog
Skipping the bun and have a grass fed burger on a lettuce wrap is a great option. I’m not a huge fan of convetional hot dogs, but Applegate makes some delicious grass fed hot dogs or you could make Italian sausage instead.
Potato Salad/ Cole Slaw
The biggest issues I have with these options is the mayo that is used in the dressing. Conventional mayo uses hydrogenated oils (canola, soy, etc.) as the base turning what could be a healthy fat into a harmful fat. Use Sir Kensignton’s avocado mayo or Primal Kitchen mayo instead or make your own! And, to up the nutrition factor, make a cauliflower potato salad instead!
I’m all for a fun, festive drink at a party but each glass of sangria or punch is loaded with sugar (in addition to the alcohol) which won’t make you feel your best the next day. Have one glass of a fun beverage, and then switch to a drink made with club soda, lime and a hard alcohol (like vodka). Bonus points for drinking a glass of water between each drink!
Watermelon is a summer staple in our house and it’s so refreshing at a BBQ! But if you want something a little more festive, make this delicious chocolate tart! The sweetness from the fruit and maple syrup is plenty to make it taste great without leaving you on a sugar crash two hours later.
Paleo Chocolate Fruit Tart
An easy festive summer dessert to use up those organic berries!
1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
1 1/2 cups almond flour
2 tbsp coconut oil
2 tbsp maple syrup
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup canned coconut milk ((full fat))
6 oz bittersweet chocolate ((finely chopped, I used 56%))
1/4 cup raspberry preserves ((100% fruit))
Assorted berries ((I used a mix of blueberries, blackberries, raspberries and strawberries))
1. First make the crust. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Pulse together shredded coconut, almond flour and salt in a food processor. Melt together maple syrup and coconut oil and add to dough mixture. Pulse again until crumbs form.
2. Transfer dough to a prepared 9 inch glass baking pie baking dish. Evenly press dough into dish and up along the sides.
3. Bake in oven about 12-16 minutes or until golden and firm. Then let cool for about 1 hour.
4. Place chopped chocolate in a bowl. Heat up coconut milk in a small saucepan and once boiling pour coconut milk over chocolate. Let stand 1 minute and then stir together until smooth. Then add in raspberry preserves.
5. Pour warm chocolate mixture into tart shell. Allow to cool (about 20 minutes) then arrange berries on top. Put in fridge for at least 1 hour before serving
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