Nourishing Excellence in mind, body, & spirit through nutrition & lifestyle. My passion is to inspire hope and to help you and/or your loved ones overcome mental, emotional & behavioral challenges such as anxiety, ADD/ADHD, Asperger’s, and depression – as well neurological dysfunction such as sensory processing disorder and the associated health conditions that come with these challenges.
I was incredibly honored to be a guest on the Live Fab Life Podcast, hosted by my friend and professional colleague, Naomi Nakamura, who is a Holistic Health Coach and is also a high tech professional. Her podcasts are super informative and she’s a fantastic interviewer. Naomi shares her own journey to healing and interviews experts of various modalities of holistic health that align with her work on herself and with her clients.
While nutritional therapy is foundational to healing, it’s only one part of your overall well-being. Considering healthy sleep habits, stress reduction, appropriate movement, adequate sunlight, avoidance of environmental toxins in your home and in your self care products are of necessary too. Equally important is finding a way to stop toxic thoughts and to heal emotional scars that tend to haunt us if not dealt with in a manner which lets us release them. These are underlying stressors that also affect the health of our mind-body-spirit.
My own journey to healing actually started with learning to become more mindful and while I couldn’t meditate for the life of me, learning Reiki, as a guided meditation was an incredible powerful tool that “calmed my inner storm” which empowered me to live for a bit in the present moment, releasing the pain, and gracing upon me, a glimmer of hope. I also share how powerful Emotional Freedom Technique (EMF) is, which I have written about in a couple of my posts (this one in particular). In all the work that I have done to help myself heal, this was a missing piece that helped me become more fully myself…rather than “what has happened to me.” Lastly, forgiveness of not just others, which I find easy these day, but forgiveness of myself. That has given me the most freedom.
I get super vulnerable in this podcast. The work of Brene’ Brown has encouraged me to share my struggles so that others can find hope and know that they are not alone. They are not the only ones and often, there doesn’t even have to be anything outwardly amiss in your life. Sometimes it is living in a way that doesn’t nourish your soul, and other times it’s because there is actual dysfunction in your body which affect your thoughts and feelings in a way you never considered. Please know, if you are in anyway not feeling or living your best life, you can get there. I hear you, I see you. There is hope, there is always hope.
Please enjoy this podcast and drop me a line if you want to chat about it! xo
I cried my eyes out yesterday morning. It was a huge emotional release of worry and fear. I don’t need it anymore. It left my body. This worry and fear about something in particular was not serving me or my family.
Worry and fear doesn’t serve you either and I hope if any negative emotion has a hold on you, that this post will help you understand how important it is to release it. I’ll show an easy way how to do it too!
Don’t get me wrong, there is and has been plenty of joy in my life, but like you, lots of pain too. My emotional resiliency is a work in progress. I’ve rarely been “emotional” in front of others. Playing calm became second nature. In the past, I repressed and buried emotional wounds, which, as I discussed in my last post, literally damages the mind, body, and spirit. I’ve been working hard on changing all that.
As one that tended to avoid conflict at any cost, when my negative emotions spun out of my control in the past, my method by default had been to be passive aggressive or to shut down. Yeah. I have no pride in that. It’s not a healthy form of releasing emotions and it certainly won’t attract abundance in my life. When I see it in others, I feel empathy and compassion, I know there is pain driving that behavior. I now try my best to speak up about my feelings, even when uncomfortable. Not easy for sure.
When my kids were little, I read books about emotional intelligence (among every parenting book I could get my hands on in my futile pursuit of parenting perfection). I did my best to teach my kids about it. I obviously didn’t fully gasp the concept for myself! That said, I am one to learn lessons the hard way. I seem to learn best by experiencing pain first.
In my last post, Nourishing & Healing The Body, Brain (Soul & Spirit): Part 2, I shared, “15 Basic Tools for Healing 101,” and in those tips I provide a variety of ways to get your body in a parasympathetic state – the opposite of the “fight or flight” or sympathetic state. The constant stress from our jobs, health issues, relationships, and our environment, contribute many of us being in a constant sympathetic state.
One of those tools listed in my article is something called, Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT), which I first learned about from a Monday Motivation blog postwritten by the New York Times bestselling author, award winning podcaster, and blogger, Diane Sanfilippo back in 2011. As a Reiki practitioner, it resonated with me but left my radar while I focused on my nutritional therapy education. EFT came back into focus when I began exploring possible reasons why some of my clients, while improving, were not fully healing. And, to be perfectly honest, why I wasn’t fully showing up.
Besides providing a nutritional protocol for clients, I’ve almost always included suggestions for lifestyle changes such as adequate sleep, removing environmental stressors, incorporating meditation and restorative movement. I’ve also suggested removing toxic thoughts and distancing oneself from toxic relationships. But not until recently have I discovered how critical it is to share the specific tools to: (1) release past buried emotions and (2) reprogram your whole self as someone you forgive and love unconditionally.
My Big Emotional Release this morning was actually prompted by some events that happened over the weekend. To back up a step, I have been tapping using EFT multiple times a day or more for the last week while listening and participating to 8th Annual Tapping World Summit (in progress at the time of this article was published).
I had an incredibly insightful conversation with my youngest son about my last article (referenced above) and the sympathetic/parasympathetic effects on behavior and health. We discussed some of his past challenges when he was younger and his self awareness about “then and now” floored me.
He has been studying biology in school, learning about the autonomic nervous system. At the same time, one of his coaches has been using a parasympathetic/sympathetic mechanism in between conditioning sprints during training. The coach taught the team a deep breathing technique to get themselves into a parasympathetic state – to gain more energy for the next sprint (I share a deep breathing technique I learned from Brene’ Brown, of Rising Strong, here). Brilliant!
I went on to explain that our minds do not perceive the difference between a real threat and something we see on TV or experience in video games, for example. We also talked about using that to one’s advantage as in practicing a sport. He knew about this already –professional athletes often practice visualization as part of their training. This conversation lead to an ah-ha moment for him.
There’s been a head strong but apparently respectful debate in his writing class where his teacher asked, “can video games contribute to violence?” During our conversation, in reference to that debate (as you might guess, he has been on the NO side), he pondered, “I guess I could see how video games could contribute to violent behavior.” Very mature of him, seriously! He is 17 as of this writing!
He went on to describe how he recognized the feeling of fight or flight. He told us how he can force himself into a sympathetic state for laser focus during an intense video game challenge – fascinating.
He also went on to talk about how he also recognizes now that he was indeed stuck in a sympathetic state when he was younger and not until we did some intervention to help his body get into a parasympathetic state, could he learn what it felt like to be calm and to even have the capacity to learn how to deal with stress.
This self awareness is going to serve him well moving forward in life.
As I said earlier in this post and in past posts, I am still a work in progress. All of us are. We are never “done” with our life lessons. I recognize I was still holding on to a bit of worry and fear. Will he be okay when he leaves home to go to college? How will he handle the stress?
Stress will never go away but I feel pretty confident he has the tools he needs to manage it, and manage it well.
I’m confident that it was this week of tapping for multiple purposes (and sometimes I just tapped without words during my daily meditations), along with this insightful conversation with my son, that guided these negative emotions out of my body. It was surreal actually. I felt joy and relief but I was releasing pain. I don’t think I’ve experience something like that before.
I’ve been so inspired by EFT, I purchased the summit and plan to teach it to any of my clients that don’t know about it yet. I’m especially excited to teach it to children.
EFT is easy, free, and safe. I sincerely hope you give it a try if you haven’t already! I have the book and audiobook, The Tapping Solution by Nick Ortner but I learned and practiced the method for free on The Tapping Solution website and Youtube videos first. The book provides the science behind why tapping works and provides additional tools and scripts for a multitude of scenarios (even weight loss!). I recommend it.
Here’s a tutorial by Nick Ortner. Try it and please let me know how it worked for you! I also recommend the How to Tap Youtube tutorial by his sister, Jessica Ortner.
How to Tap - with Nick Ortner of The Tapping Solution - YouTube
Peace & Love,
Holly – xo
(Originally published in March of 2016, recently updated)
Disclaimer: The information contained herein is not to be construed as medical advice and is not intended to diagnose, treat, or cure any medical condition. These statements made have not be approved by the FDA, nor should they be taken as a substitute for medical advice from a licensed physician.
Affiliate link disclosure: You should know that some but not all of the links above thank me with a small token of appreciation for sharing their products and services, however, please be assured, these products and services are those that I use and believe in.
I’ve been thinking about my blog for some time now, I have been letting the drive of perfection let me get in the way and therefore, I have not been writing consistently! I wrote Nourishing & Healing the Body & Brain: Part 1 but not part 2 yet. I even talk about acceptance of imperfection in that post! It’s not easy to let go of perfection, I can attest to that!
I now realize, this article should have been Part 1. And the other one, Part 2. But that’s okay. I’m not perfect, right? My intention is to help you heal in a way that you don’t go through a downward spiral like I did. In a way that doesn’t paralyze you. Healing is hard but you don’t need to be perfect about it.
I’m perfectly imperfect, just like you!
As I discuss in my previous article but the subject deserves reiterating over and over again, the drive for perfection is insane. It’s a great recipe for feeling shame – which, as I discussed previously, and according to one of my very favorite authors, Brene’ Brown, shame is lethal. It tears us down bit by bit and I’ve had enough of it!
Shame at not being the perfect parent is something that was my undoing at one point in my life, which I talk about a bit in that last post referenced above: Nourishing & Healing the Body & Brain: Part 1; in two interviews: Finding Balance While Feeding Your Family Well: An Interview on Women’s Wellness Radio & on Kink.fm, a Portland Radio station where, Journalist & Author, Sheila Hamilton Interviews Me about Nutrition & Mental Health, and again, when I share about Sheila Hamilton’s powerful and important book, All the Thing We Never Knew.
As Brene’ Brown emphasizes, the fact is, we are all doing the best we can we can. That might be really hard to swallow but when you really truly think about it, every person is using all their experiences in life to the best of their abilities at any given moment. Most of the time we never really know what is behind someone’s eyes and in their heart and spirit. We don’t really know what traumas may have shaped them. What they bury deep inside, afraid to confront.
What most of us don’t realize is that all these traumatic or shameful experiences in our lives, if not addressed and resolved within ourselves, can wreak havoc to our mind, body, and spirit. Which means, we don’t full show up in our lives. We don’t live to our fullest potential and likely we become sick in our hearts and our bodies. By heart, I mean spirit and soul.
Stress and shame are probably two of the most destructive issues we face to our whole self. When we are stressed we are in fight or flight mode, we are in a state of keeping ourselves alive OR we roll over and act dead. Shame is probably the biggest emotional stressor. But grief is pretty freaking powerful as well. And grief can mean different things to different people. It can mean death of a loved one, a miscarriage, an abortion, or the absence of something that you deeply love that is out of your grasp and may always be. Another stress whopper is being a caregiver, especially when the person you are caring for is a loved one facing their own challenges.
As I’ve looked into my deep buried emotions about past events that I feel shame about, and I consider who I was and what my experiences were at the time I made those decisions or the situation I was in that I could not control, I’ve had to learn to not only forgive others, but myself too. To be clear, it doesn’t justify or make those past decisions or events okay but in most cases, in no way should a being have to suffer all their lives for past wrong doings.
I’m not talking about very complicated issues such as war criminals, mass murderers, and the like – that’s a subject I have no expertise on. I’m talking about everyday people. Of course everyone needs to be and should be held accountable for their actions, as Brene’ Brown says, and there are those that remain very sick in their minds and need to be helped but that is a whole other topic.
For many years in my youth I felt something was not right. I felt a deep emotional pain and emptiness I could not put my finger on. I was obsessed with self help books and did a lot of church shopping – which, in a lot of ways, added to my pain. It took a compassionate Priest to give me hope and some inspiration, but even then, I still felt a pain that I couldn’t figure out.
I know now that it’s because I was looking outside myself for acceptance and love. Not from within. Where God actually lives. When I say God, I refer to the same God we all have. The creative force that is the reason we are in this universe. The same God that every religion refers to. And, the same God, I was mad at for a lot of years. I realize now, it was because I was looking outward. I never considered forgiving myself, even though I was praying for forgiveness.
Being part of a religious community for some years, I never knew why but I always felt like an imposter, a black sheep. Like, I didn’t belong. The straw that broke the camel’s back with my relationship to this so called God, is when one of my children was being constantly bullied in a religious institution to the point where we left. I felt confused and abandoned. Especially when another child was having some very significant life altering challenges. How was that fair? I prayed to hard! I resolved that I was being punished for not being a perfect person and that it was my fault that my children suffered.
This shame took a significant toll on my overall whole self and of course, my family. Yes, shame is very destructive.
What I didn’t realize, is that slowly but surely, many of my prayers were actually being answered in ways I never really understood or recognized until very recently! My prayers were being answered by me taking action. It was NOT an easy path, I had tough lessons to learn. I still do. The living and learning never ends.
When we pulled our youngest child from a school environment that was crushing his spirit and love of learning, we joined a local homeschool co-op which offered amazing classes and opportunities, even for adults. There is where I learned Reiki, a complementary form of healing medicine, which I believe is part of what saved my life. I used Reiki as guided meditation. (My husband’s intervention later also has a lot to do with my healing but the Reiki was powerful and still is.)
I had a ton of wacky health issues going on that could not be explained by tests. The stress was immense regarding that and my son’s challenges at the time. Reiki opened up a door of alternative thinking which put me a step closer to healing. It wasn’t the complete answer for sure, but it was a step in the right direction.
Although I was an athlete, a former personal trainer at a gym, as well as a certified Racewalk instructor, my exercise had come close to a halt. I intellectually knew I needed to exercise but I had zero will. This is when my husband took the initiative (his intervention) to make me exercise with him daily during a 90-day program. I hated it at first but slowly, I began to feel better (after getting Shingles in the beginning!) and when I began to seek what I was going to do next with my life (my son was doing much better and was enrolled in a small local magnet school), I stumbled upon nutritional protocol I thought I would try. I had purchased, The 4-Hour Workweek by Tim Ferriss, and he had been blogging about his Slow Carb Diet, which he later released in The 4-Hour Body.
Implementing The 4-Hour Body slow carb diet (which removes all white refined foods, including milk, flour, & sugar) is when my mental health and physical health turned around pretty dramatically. I went on to tweak the nutritional template with my family to be more Paleo since the slow carb legumes were no longer working well for us and the changes to the rest of the family were remarkable and life changing for my youngest son especially. Much of this nutritional template is covered in this post: Nourishing & Healing the Body & Brain: Part 1.
This transformation inspired me to return to school to study nutritional therapy. My enthusiasm prompted me to post what I was learning and experiencing often and as a result, I was in the best selling author, blogger, and award winning podcaster, Diane Sanfilippo’s radar when she needed someone to review an accounting program for nutritionists. I was approached to review it and my review landed me a job before I even graduated (I actually started the day after returning from graduation). This job provided me with a constant flow of clients so that my experience as a new practitioner became significant in a short time.
Interestingly, although my mind, my health, and my physical body was much better. I still had work to do. I still felt a bit of something was missing. My spirit and soul still needed nurturing. My health was not 100% yet.
I learned about Heart Math, another modality to help with getting your body into a meditative state (I actually learned about this before starting school). I used it on and off for a few years but now I use it nearly every day. It’s a really great tool for those of you that enjoy feedback with data that shows your progress. You can even earn awards and badges. I believe the device help me immensely (and still does).
In fact, the reason Reiki, meditation, and the like are so instrumental in healing, is that they help get your body OUT of the state of fight or flight. This is called the parasympathetic mode. For optimal digestion, immune function, detoxification, and metabolism, your body needs to be in a parasympathetic mode.
So, I want to try to bring all this together. As a nutritional therapy practitioner, the more I help myself and others heal completely (mind, body, spirit, and soul), the more I see the connection of illness or lack of healing to past unresolved emotional pain. But, as I am emphasizing throughout this post, there is hope to get past those. You don’t need to nor should you hold on to past pain, shame, fear, etc.
The science is exploding in this area and I see that this step (emotional healing) as well as self-acceptance, as either equally or more important than food, lifestyle, and environmental changes. I resonate with the work of Lissa Rankin (Mind Over Medicine), Dr. Bruce Lipton (The Biology of Belief), Brene’ Brown (Rising Strong), Dr. Mario Martinez (The Mind Body Code) – thanks to suggestion of the remarkable, Dr. Christiane Northrup, the Heart Math Institute, and the work that Jessica and Nick Horner (The Tapping Solution) with the Emotional Freedom Technique. Nick Horner is the author of The Tapping Solution book. It’s probably one of the most powerful, fast acting, self-healing modalities that I have encountered. It’s easy, free and gets results. In fact, you can even get results if you are not ready to revisit old traumas.
There are many paths to healing. I’m going to share some of the very basics steps that I found have worked for me and my clients. I hope you find something that works for you! There is hope. Once you remove the stressors and learn how to manage stress, is when healing can truly begin. Many people find that their problems go away and they don’t even need to take additional steps such as a gut healing protocol.
Learning to get your body into a parasympathetic mode is the foundation for healing and continued health of your mind, body, and spirit. As I move forward with my clients, it’s what we will work on the most. If you cannot get your body into the parasympathetic mode, you cannot heal. You cannot digest even the best food optimally, your immune system is not fully functioning, and the same goes with your metabolism. I learned from 8th Annual Tapping Solution World Summit, that we are not even our adult selves when we are in a state of fight or flight mode. So, even though we know intellectually what we SHOULD do, we don’t. This is probably one of the biggest contributors to poor decision making.
So, let’s get healing!
Basic Tools for Healing 101
1. Get your body into a “rest and digest” or parasympathetic state as many times during the day as possible, and ALWAYS before eating. Here are some ways:
a. Before eating, make sure you are sitting to eat. Take a deep breath and say grace or have gratitude for your food. Even better, light a candle and if you are sharing a meal with others, especially your family, ask everyone to name one thing they are grateful for (no judging).
b. Walk – especially in nature (barefoot is even better!)
d. Listen to relaxing, soothing music
e. Deep breathing – this can help you get into a parasympathetic state any time you need to. In fact, unless you have some other methods in place, I recommend setting an alarm on the hour, take a break, and for 5 minutes, practice deep breathing using the 4-square approach. Referencing a Rising Strong talk given by Brene’ Brown, this Huffington Post article by Miriam Ava of Colors of Gratitude shares the technique as Brene’ describes it:
“Just pay attention.” The key to recognizing your emotions is breathing. Yes, even in the military they’re breathing. It’s called tactical breathing. “It’s all about breath, Ma’am.” So here’s your primer to box breathing (just imagine the outline of a simple box; inhale, hold, exhale, hold for 4 breaths each)In 4Hold 4Out 4Hold 4
f. Apply the essential oil, Parasympathetic by Vibrant Blue Oils before meals and when you are stressed. (I’ve testing this on myself and clients with pretty remarkable results.) Vibrant Blue Oils has a data sheet on proper usage – please refer to it if you use it.
g.Heart Math Inner Balance device for a smart phone or the EmWave device for a computer. It’s a biofeedback system that works remarkably well. I especially recommend it for those that can’t get into meditation now matter how much they try.
h. Meditation (Oprah & Deepak Chopra host a free monthly 28-Day Guided Meditation) – there are many forms of meditation so don’t give up on one, keep trying and start with 5 minutes and increase your time perhaps weekly, for example, week 1 meditate for 5 minutes, week 2, for 10 minutes, week 3 for 15, and make of goal of 20 minutes a day.
i. Reiki – either learn to do it or experience it with a reputable practitioner. Check out holistic, functional, and integrative clinics in your area. I use it on myself for guided meditation. I offer Reiki to in-person clients as well. If you are interested in exploring distance Reiki, let me know. I am experimenting with this right now.
j. Take a yoga or Tai Chi class or rent/buy a DVD to guide you.
k. Do Emotional Freedom Technique (or Tapping) – there are scripts you can learn about from The Tapping Solution Book by Nick Ortner or there are many free videos on Youtube (this one is by Nick Ortner).
l. Buy and listen to the audiobook, The Mind Body Code by Mario Martinez and do his guided exercises.
m. For more about mind/body, self-acceptance, and removing toxic thoughts: Mind Over Medicine by Lissa Rankin and Rising Strong by Brene’ Brown.
n. Sit with and pet an animal – your cat, your dog, your horse (in that case you can sit ON your pet ;))
2. Eat Real Food – as close to nature as possible, food that your great great grandparents would recognize as real food. Get to know your farmers and local food crafters. Avoid refined packaged/processed food and food that has chemical additives. Limit sugar and engineered sweeteners. Avoid pesticides, herbicides, genetically modified foods, any food that has added antibiotics and hormones, and animals that have been factory farmed, raised in confinement, or inhumanely treated. Don’t be afraid of nature’s fat such as olive oil, tallow, lard, and butter from grass-fed pastured raised animals and coconut oil. Learn about what seafood is sustainable and safe to eat – a great resource is The Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch website and APP: http://www.seafoodwatch.org/. A great way to get started is using the book, Practical Paleo by Diane Sanfilippo.
3. Drink filtered water.
4. Avoid body care products with toxic chemicals. You should be able to ingest your body care products without harmful effects. Not that you want to. But, your skin is your biggest organ. Many body care products contain endocrine disruptors. See my article about this here: Hormone disruptors in your personal care products? I use The Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep APP to help me decide. My favorite skin care is: Primal Life Organics.
5. Eliminate toxic chemicals from your home (including laundry soap). I recommend the using The Environmental Working Group to see how your favorite products score. Consider your mattress, where you spend 8 or more hours every night! I love our toxin free and affordable Mulligan’s Mattress.
6. Make time for yourself, really. Moms don’t do this – it’s foundational to being a whole person for those that you love.
7. Make dates with your significant other if you have one. Just make it a priority. Make it happen. My husband and I did not go on dates for so long and it was not good. Life was so much better when we did this!
8. Make time for friends.
9. SLEEP – Get 8 hours of sleep, see my article here: Got Sleep? 11 Ways to Make It Better (I suffered TERRIBLY with sleep for many years and was on a few medications for it).
10. Get outside and in the sun but be responsible about appropriate exposure. Walk barefoot when you can.
11. Have fun – find ways to laugh (with friends, pets, family, movies, comedians, books, etc.)
12. Have gratitude. What is right in your life? Be thankful for that.
13. Love your hot mess of an imperfect self fully and completely.
14. Treat yourself like you want others to treat you.
15. Ask for what you want and take action to get it.
There you go! I’m sure there are a lot more but I think 15 ways is a pretty darn good start!
Did this article help you? Please let me know! Drop me an email or please comment! Also, please share!You are Beautiful!xo-Holly
[Originally published in February 2016, this article is timely with the recent challenges in this world.]
Disclaimer: The information contained herein is not to be construed as medical advice and is not intended to diagnose, treat, or cure any medical condition. These statements made have not be approved by the FDA, nor should they be taken as a substitute for medical advice from a licensed physician.
Affiliate link disclosure: You should know that some but not all of the links above thank me with a small token of appreciation for sharing their products and services, however, please be assured, these products and services are those that I use and believe in.
Nutrition plays a significant role in overall health but I don’t have to tell you how complicated and confusing it is. I know, I’ve tried every diet out there for myself and my family. I was obsessed for way too long and it I believe that obsession made things worse for my mind, body, and spirit. In a series of articles, I’m going to address all these things but this article is about nutrition because I do believe it is foundational.
My journey to healing and that of my loved ones first sparked my passion to go back to school to study nutritional therapy. Since embarking on this journey, I’ve had the honor to help and transform many others too. Some, very young children whose parents were at their wit’s ends, not getting help from conventional medicine and feeling like they were failing their children.
I can relate, I totally resonate with their despair. They tell me that food and nutrition was never addressed. The children come with anxiety, digestive distress, withdraw, sensory issues, over stimulation, social problems, attention and focus issues and more. My mission: remove the stressors and heal the gut. When we do this, we see remarkable improvement in all these things.
It’s not easy, it takes commitment but parents are motivated to help their kids. The biggest challenge I have is to get parents to take care of themselves, which honestly needs to be the first priority so that they can truly help their children – I know, I was one of these parents. This, I will address this in another post though. There is hope though, please know, there is hope!
What causes these issues and challenges? I can’t know for sure but based on my education and experience, I can speculate it’s a combination of factors and stressors: a c-section at birth (so baby did not receive beneficial flora via mom’s vagina); antibiotics (kills both good and bad flora); inflammatory foods introduced too early; fire retardants in all the baby gear and baby mattress; chemicals in personal care products; toxins in the air and water and other environmental factors. Every year more and more chemicals are being introduced into our environment that have never been tested for human safety. Our bodies have a natural detoxification process but I’m certain we were never created to have to handle so many disruptions to our human biology. These toxins are disrupting hormones, our gut microbiome, and more. There is a direct line from our gut to our brain and now we know that our gut, can be damaged and permeable, which means, any toxins in our gut, like bad bacteria, can get into our bodies, and therefore our brains.
Micronutrient deficiency is epidemic and plays a major role in health challenges and disease as Mira and Dr. Jayson Calton delve deeply into in their books, Naked Calories and Micronutrient Miracle. The Calton’s have an amazing personal story which starts with Dr. Calton helping Mira completely reverse her advanced osteoporosis. The Calton’s later embarked on a 7 year, 135 country expedition, much like that of Dr. Weston A. Price did in the early 1900’s, to investigate the health and eating patterns of cultures around the world. They discovered that no matter what diet anyone followed, it is micronutrient deficiency that causes disease.
As a nutritional therapy practitioner, I see this with every client. I also see the connection of health of the body and brain and the health of the gut. When my clients are not well, I know that their gut is not well, and that they are deficient in nutrients, which causes an imbalance in minerals. It is not always about the food they are eating, environmental factors I stated earlier, medications, and a blow or concussion to the head are some examples of factors that affect gut health. Extreme emotional trauma, especially unresolved trauma can contribute to gut dysfunction as well. That said, our modern diet of refined foods, industrial seed oils, factory farmed meats, and pesticides and herbicides are significant contributing factors to the degradation of our gut health.
Last year I was honored to study with Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride, the author of Gut and Psychology Syndrome, a neurologist who after not getting answers about how to heal her son’s autism, set out to figure it out herself, which she did. Her son no longer has autism and she since opened a clinic in the U.K. and has trained hundreds of practitioners to carry on her work. She is responsible for the transformation of thousands that previously had no hope.
Dr. Natasha Campbell- McBride found when she had families follow the protocol that she developed, The GAPS (Gut and Psychology) Diet, to support an autistic child in the family, that not only did the child get better, but entire families where healed of all sorts of issues from depression and anxiety to high blood pressure and heart disease.
The book, Brain Maker by Dr. David Permutter, also a neurologist, presents the exploding body of research that connects gut and brain health and in Brain Maker, Dr. Permutter shares many clinical stories of transformation and hope when his patients heal their guts.
In Why Isn’t My Brain Working?: A Revolutionary Understanding of Brain Decline and Effective Strategies to Recover Your Brain’s Health by Dr. Datis Kharrazian also connects gut and brain health.
I believe nourishment of the body through food and nutritional therapy to support healing the gut, balancing minerals, and becoming micronutrients sufficient is one of the most important factors to overall brain and mental health. I believe this to be foundational to healing. Removing the stressors goes a long way in helping my clients heal.
So where does one start? What does one do? It seems overwhelming, I know!
First of all, start by forgiving yourself. I made huge mistake beating myself up for many things, second guessing everything I did or did not do as a parent. I felt shame. Did I parent hard enough? Should I insisted on mercury free shots? Did I starve my son’s brain from a low fat diet? Did the baby swim lessons with over chlorinated pools and being forced underwater over stress his body and cause trauma to his brain? The fact is, we are all doing the best we can with the information we have. We are often given the wrong information. Let me repeat, we need to forgive ourselves, and love ourselves. Because what we say to ourselves, we subconsciously say to our children. Shame is destructive so please listen when I tell you to let go of the shame. Love yourself as you do your child, because to truly love another, we must love ourselves. You are worthy and your child needs you to do this.
Baby steps. Better than before. I love the concept, “better than before” based on Gretchen Rubin’s book of the same name, Better Than Before: Mastering the Habits of Our Everyday Lives. Let go of perfection. It’s impossible, paralyzing and isolating. (I recommend that book too!)
Get real about your challenges. Don’t hide them, share and seek out those that will support you. Read, Rising Strong by Brene’ Brown (or listen to her read it on audio – she’s the narrator and is a gifted storyteller). It’s one of the most powerful books I’ve read on the transformative power of being vulnerable, brave, honest, and real. If you find that those around you are not supportive, look for support elsewhere. You can still love those people but seek out those that “rise you up”.
Get real about your food. That is, begin to purge food that you would not feed a baby out of your house. Highly processed foods are void of useful nutrients and are mostly nutrient depleting. They are cheap and inflammatory to your body, and therefore your brain.
It’s not cheap to eat real food but you have to prioritize it if health is important to you. In the long run it can save what costs you in medical expenses, medications, missed work and the cost to you overall well being. Do you have luxury items that you can sacrifice? What is more important? Will you be able to actually enjoy your luxury items if you are sick?
I am on staff with the New York Times author, of Practical Paleo, Diane Sanfilippo. We are working on a free budget guide and in developing that guide, we’ve interview a number of people on extreme budgets, many on food stamps who have made a whole food diet work – because they had to –for their health. To be productive members of society. We hope to have this resource done soon but in the meantime, there will be a learning curve. It’s not easy. Do the best you can and be okay with that.
In a nutshell, you can get pretty much all you need at a farmer’s market (although I realize not everyone has access to one, unfortunately). Fresh, local produce, local pastured/grass-fed meat and eggs from humanely treated animals, wild caught seafood, nuts, seeds, fermented foods like kimchi and sauerkraut (for your probiotics), and local honey. Those are the most ideal foods in general but I guide clients to do the best they can. It’s impressive how resourceful a parent can be once they start to see some positive changes in their child.
In Portland we are lucky to have a number of markets where we can also get good healthy fats such as grass-fed butter, olive oil, coconut oil, and fats rendered from local happy pastured animals. These are not the meats and fats you need to be scared of. This is the type of food your ancestors ate before the diseases of our time set in, before industrialized food and before so many toxins were introduced into your environment, and so many chemicals were introduced into our food, skincare and bodycare products, our medications, water, home cleaning products, home gardening/landscaping, etc. In fact, consider what you are great great grandparents ate and try to replicate that the best you can.
I have clients eventually get to a place of an elimination diet. I have them remove gluten (gluten is not a necessary nutrient and it won’t harm you to remove it). I DON’T, however, recommend you replace it with refined gluten-free foods either. No. That’s what gets “going gluten-free” a bad wrap, because much of THOSE foods may indeed be worse.
I also have clients remove dairy. Diary might be tolerated if it’s local, grass-fed and flash pasteurized or raw, but milk from factory cows injected with hormones and antibiotics is sad and scary. Added hormones and antibiotics are disruptive to health. Sometimes clients can tolerate a little diary, especially fermented, such as yogurt, but at first, we remove it. We are removing as many stressors as possible.
We also remove soy. Most soy in the U.S. is genetically modified. It’s not consumed as it traditionally used to be consumed in Japan, before they too started having a serious health crisis. It used to be consumed in small amounts and fermented (along with lots of seafood, broths, and other fermented foods). Fermented foods help promote good gut flora in your body. For me, I discovered soy stimulated an autoimmune condition, Raynaud’s Syndrome. As do legumes. Any time I just get a tiny exposure of soy, in about 4 days, my fingers begin to loose blood flow and numb. It’s like clockwork. I am not going to put my foot down on legumes for most people, but if a client has an autoimmune condition, then I’m going to suggest a trial of removal at some point if we need to.
Removing refined sugar, fruit juice, sodas and most candy (good quality dark chocolate is okay) is definitely recommended.
Below I’ve listed a suggested list of Yes/No lists to start with. It’s not all inclusive and I’ll likely be adding and subtracting to this post as I update. After you feel comfortable with change, then you can do more of an inflammatory elimination diet. This many even need to be taken a step further and require an autoimmune protocol. For that there are many resources which I will refer to in a later post.
For meal plans and suggested supplements and super foods to support certain health conditions, I recommend Practical Paleo by Diane Sanfilippo and The Micronutrient Miracle by Mira and Dr. Jayson Calton. Diane Sanfilippo is also the creator of The 21-Day Sugar Detox. A program, which I love. I am the program manager of The Certified Coaches Program, a job which I love because I have the honor of mentoring other coaches. I love the program because it’s a 21-Day boot camp like program to get you started. There are 3 levels of entry so it’s not TOO hard for those that are new to eating a whole food diet. I run these programs both in-person and online. I really love to do corporate wellness too so if you would like me to come facilitate your group, please contact me. I can come visit you to let you know more.
NUTRIENT DENSE WHOLE FOOD DIET TEMPLATEBASIC YES (not inclusive of all yes foods, can combine ingredients) – as a FOUNDATION (not necessarily strict 24/7). Strict recommended when possible for deep healing. *Proceed with caution indicates inflammatory in many individuals with health challenges.When possible, chose organic (see EWG.org Clean 15/Dirty Dozen)PROTEIN
Local Pastured/Grass-fed Meats & Eggs
Wild caught seafood
* Proceed with caution: Grass-fed full-fat dairy
Fruit (1-2 pieces/day)
Veggies (non-starchy, plentiful – starchy such as potatoes, limit)
GRAINS (non-gluten) – minimal
Other gluten free whole grains
* Proceed with caution: organic/non-GMO corn
LEGUMESProceed with caution: All
*Proceed with caution: limited fermented organic-non GMO miso
Nut milks with not additives/fillers/sugar (just nuts/water)
* Proceed with caution: peanuts/peanut butter
Natural Fats such as:
Fat rendered from local, pastured/grass-fed animals
See Diane Sanfilippo’s excellent free Guide to Fats
Medium Chain Triglyceride Oil (MCT Oil) – my favorite is Calton Nutrition Skinny Fat
* Proceed with caution: grass-fed cream
Local crafted or homemade Mayo (no canola oil)
Frank’s Hot Sauce
Red Boat Fish Sauce
Himalayan Sea Salt/Redmond’s Real Salt/Celtic Sea Sat (not processed salt)
Kimchi/Sauerkraut (fermented veggies)
Coconut milk (no additives/sugar)
Real Maple Syrup
Bone Broth (great for gut healing, recipe here)
NON ALCOHOLIC BEVERAGES
Sparkling water (LaCroix is a decent transition for short term)
Coconut and Nut Milks no not sugar or additives
* Proceed with caution: Full fat Grass-fed Dairy
ALCOHOLIC BEVERAGES (Limit)
EXTRAS FOR ATHLETES/ON-THE-GOHEROFUEL – a clean power bar for kids but I love it myself!
In.Power Protein Powder by Calton Nutrition – pure and delicious grass-fed whey for protein shakes
BASIC NO (not all inclusive)
Factory Farmed meat/eggs (avoid when possible – just do the best you can)
Agave Nectar/High Fructose corn syrup
Obvious junk food
BASICS TO KEEP ON HAND FOR QUICK MEALS
Rotisserie chickens (pasture-raised best, then organic, choose plain)
Bagged organic salad greens
Lettuce you can use to wrap
Prepared guacamole and salsa
Eggs (hardball half)
Good quality sausages/bacon (Teton Waters and Niman Ranch are usually okay, check for sugar/sweeteners to be sure)
Flying Fish seafood has some available in their freezers too, same with Natural Grocers
Organic lunch meat
IDEAS TO PREP FOR WORK WEEK
Chickens – cook and remove meat (I will do this to be done around lunch or dinner so that is taken care of too) – or remove meat from store bought rotisserie.
Make broth with bones from above (recipe here)
Brown ground meat
Sauté a melody of peppers, onions, and garlic to use to flavor my meals (optional)
I often boil 1/2 my eggs
Steam 2 bags of veggies not too soft for quick sauté/reheat
Soup prep – Saute a big bunch of veggies, puree some, then make quick soup with ground or chopped meat, veggies, and broth – add in butter for richness. Pumpkin and sweet potato makes it really hearty. I use my Tex Mex mix I shared in this recipe– as well as a bit of balsamic. Tomato sauce can also be a great add-in! Or for egg drop soup, just add egg to broth!
Egg Muffins for quick grab are easy, just sauté some meat (even leftover) and veggies, and in a separate bowl, whisk some eggs (number based on # of muffins), add meat/veggies mixture and spoon into muffin cups – cook at 375 for around 12-15 minutes.
Cuts of meat, ground meat, sausage or fish with veggies – use butter, olive oil or other fat and spice mixes you enjoy for flavor (we love Benessare Oils and Vinegars in Portland)
Salmon or egg salad (make like Tuna salad) with broccoli slaw (or veggies you chop), olive oil/balsamic, mustard, and kraut – you can eat in lettuce wraps or get coconut wraps – or red bell pepper strips, or something like cucumber. You can mix in sardines. Mayo if you make or get Primal Kitchen.
Eggs & veggies
Salad greens wrapped in Organic lunch meat
• hard boiled egg
• guacamole with veggies (precut veggies like jicama sticks & carrot chips are handy)
• jerky (hard to find but I like Nick’s sticks, you can get online http://www.nicks-sticks.com/)
• nut butter
• nut butter with celery or apples
• coconut flakes (toasted is yummy)
• canned sardines/canned oysters and other canned seafood
• kale chips
• organic lunch meat/sausages
• whole milk yogurt, cheese (if tolerated)
• 100% cacao chocolate (with ghee or nutbutter)
• cacao nibs
• Banana or grapefruit with cinnamon
• coconut water
• Coconut milk smoothie/hot cocoa
• banana sautéed in healthy fat sprinkled with cinnamon
•Dark Chocolate with nut butter
•Blended frozen banana with coconut milk & cinnamon
• 8 oz. kombucha
•HEROFUEL – a clean power bar for kids but I love it myself!
•Inka brand plantain chips
•Boulder Brand and Jackson’s Honest chips with coconut oil (treat)
•Mary’s Gone Crackers – no soy version
This is highly individual! For less active people and children, lower carbs, higher healthy/natural fats, for more active, more starchy carbs and fruit might be okay.
Start here, then adjust, I recommend increasing fat first, then protein if you are hungry between meals:
1 palm size well sourced, good quality animal protein
1 thumb size heathy natural fat as stated in the above template**
1/2 plate vegetables, mostly cooked, some raw
1/4-1/2 cup starchy carb (non-gluten grain or starchy vegetable such as potato or sweet potato)*
*Athletes and Pregnant/Nursing women should adjust for their individual energy needs.
**To support my brain health, I personally eat a very high natural fat very low carb diet – I am post menopausal and am working on a program with Calton Nutrition to ensure my health stays on track. Practitioners need their own practitioners!
IMPORTANT (to facilitate optimal digestion)
Give thanks, have gratitude before meals
Take a deep breath and get out of “fight or flight” mode before eating and don’t talk about stressful things during meals.
Eat while sitting only, do not eat while driving or watching TV.
Eat a small amount of fermented foods with each meal.
RECOMMENDED READINGAll the Things We Never Knew: Chasing the Chaos of Mental Illness by Sheila Hamilton
Brain Maker by David Permutter, MD
Eat Naked by Margaret Floyd
Eat The Yolks by Liz Wolf
Good Calories Bad Calories by Gary Taubes
Gut and Psychology Syndrome by Natasha Campbell-McBride, MD
Naked Calories by Mira and..
What is Reiki?
Reiki, “universal life force energy,” is a non-religion based complementary health approach that is practiced on oneself and also with others with the goal of facilitating the body’s own innate healing response to restoring physical and emotional well-being. It’s classified by the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health as energy medicine.
In our busy, stressful world where we often live in a sympathetic state of being (fight – flight – freeze), we greatly inhibit our body’s natural ability to heal as intended. With the power of human touch and the intention of using the universal life force energy that is available to all of us, from my experience, I believe that while there is a mystery to Reiki, the therapeutic touch of Reiki also helps activate the parasympathetic nervous system needed for proper digestion and absorption of nutrients, detoxification, healing, and most importantly, inner peace. When given with others, Reiki is shared via hand placements on or above a fully clothed body. When used on oneself it could also be considered a form of self-guided meditation with the addition of hand placements or even the visualization of hand placements on the body. I sometimes use Reiki hand placements on myself during mindful meditation to help me get grounded.
What Can Reiki Help and Who is a Good Candidate?
Reiki has been used by professional athletes (see the article, Reiki in the NFL), is currently used in many hospitals around the country (including in the operating room: see this article in Mind Body Green), and provides much needed relief in disaster/trauma situations such as 9/11 where practitioners around the country set up Reiki stations for emergency responders, family members of those lost or injured, and to anyone else who needed it.
Studies are positive and growing for a variety of conditions including pain, anxiety, fatigue, depression, heart conditions, cancer recovery and more. A search on pubmed brings up many promising results (“Reiki” also referred to as “healing touch” or “therapeutic touch” brought up a total of 2564 results), including a recent randomized control trial for cardiac patients that was published February 2017. According to The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, there are no known contraindications connected with Reiki and Reiki does not interfere with any medical procedures or drug treatment that may be prescribed by a physician. Reiki can be used by and is for anyone, you don’t even need to believe in it to benefit. Reiki treatments are not intended to be used instead of or to delay medical treatment – Reiki complements both conventional and holistic approaches to healing and recovery.
Choosing a Reiki Practitioner
As with any practitioner, it’s important to choose your Reiki practitioner wisely as there is no governing licensing board. There are many different lineages which originate from the original source, Mikao Usui of Japan, in the early 1920’s. And, not unlike the practice of yoga, there are some slight differences in the way practitioners are trained. I don’t think it’s right for me to say who is and isn’t okay or what is or what is not right for you – that’s for you to decide. Check out who the practitioner is and see (and feel) if you have a gut sense if they are right for you.
I discovered Reiki during a very emotionally trying period of my life and found it extremely helpful. I completed my Reiki 1 training over a trimester of school with Reiki Master Terry Jordan from EastWest Reiki, LLC via Village Home Learning Center. I later went on to attend additional in-person training sessions with Terry for Reiki II and then some years later, I went on to complete the in-person training required to receive my Reiki Master/Teacher certification in January 2017.
Why Do I Do and Share Reiki?
As I shared above, the practice of Reiki helped me through some difficult emotional times and lead me on a path of further holistic healing which included radically changing my nutrition. My youngest son has significant struggles up to about age 12. We recognize now, he spent much of the time with his autonomic nervous system stuck in sympathetic mode (fight – flight – and freeze). I shared Reiki with him while I was learning and I cannot know for sure but my gut tells me that Reiki definitely played a part in his healing.
As a Nutritional Therapy Practitioner, I recognize that although nutrition in food can make a significant difference in healing one’s body, I see that healing is truly a holistic approach – healing the mind, body, and spirit. We also need good sleep hygiene, a low toxic burden from our environment (including our relationships), vibrant food prepared with love, love, meaning, self-acceptance, forgiveness of self and others, community, sunshine, true relaxation and movement. I’m sure I didn’t cover it all but I do know, while nutrition is foundational, it’s not the only path to full healing.
My goal is to be able to offer Reiki sessions to mothers of special needs children and adolescents and encourage them to learn Reiki so they can in turn using it on themselves at home and share it with their children. It’s a beautiful way of bonding with your child in a way that asks nothing of them but to just be.
My Reiki Services
Because much of my work is based out of my home office where I do not bring clients due to my pets, my Reiki service is mobile for now. I will gladly travel close by my Cedar Mill home to your home, work, and depending on the circumstances, with you to support you during medical treatments/procedures. If I need to travel further, I may need to charge an additional fee for travel time – thank you for your understanding.
I’m putting it out to the universe that I am looking for a beautiful peaceful space close to home that will not cost me too much since my fee is low and my Reiki work is part-time in addition to my other work. If you know of such a place, please let me know!
*Can be adjusted in certain circumstances while I build my practice and attempt to establish a non or not-for profit to help support my goal of providing services to special needs families who cannot otherwise pay.
As the Project Manager of Community Development for Nourishing Hope, I was privileged in helping put together this remarkable story of hope, healing, and recovery for not only Shamus, who was diagnosed with moderate to severe autism, but for Anita his mother, and Kaitlyn, Shamus’ little sister.
To read the full story, please visit Nourishing Hope…here’s a little snipit…(from Nourishinghope.com)
Shamus was diagnosed with moderate to severe autism at age 2. When they began him on nutritional and biomedical protocols, his parents had no expectation of improved speech or ever “mainstreaming” their son. They just wanted him to sleep so they could cope with him being autistic.
Today at age 10, Shamus shows no signs of autism and has been classified as “fully recovered!” He’s in a mainstream classroom at school, his teachers love him and he has a great group of friends. Shamus is great at team sports, and exhibits no problems in the classroom whatsoever.
His mom says, “I think the future is really bright now.”
Shamus’ recovery was a result of 8 years of hard work by his parents, their practitioners, and Shamus.
Shamus’ Journey – Struggles from Birth
Underweight Jaundice Colicy Refluxy Constipated Wanted feeding every ½ hr. Didn’t sleep for very long
Being their first child, his parents didn’t know what to expect, or even suspect was wrong initially. But things got worse as he got older, and it became more apparent there were problems….
didn’t like loud noises have severe melt downs projectile vomiting up to 9 times a day, regularly waking up from 1-5 am every morning and scream and scream very constipated and bloated very skinny huge dark circles under eyes a huge head Radical Downward Spiral Overnight
At 15 months, Shamus went downhill overnight. Sleep deprivation was especially bad and his mother, Anita, became pregnant with her second child.
Shamus presented with:
lining up toys self-inflicting harm leaving mom with black eyes, bruises having up to twenty temper tantrums a day huge cravings for milk continued project vomiting continued constipation could not cope with any sort of noise, other children, different environments.
Shamus was taken to a general practitioner on several occasions…
“They told me Shamus’s problem was me, that I was an over anxious mother and that I had post-natal depression and they gave me Prozac. I threw the Prozac out, I didn’t believe that was the problem. I did do the 8 post-natal depression counseling for 6 weeks to prove a point. After the 6 weeks they said to me,’ you are the most together woman we know, you are just sleep deprived’ and said, ‘yes, because my baby doesn’t sleep!’”
Shamus wasn’t meeting milestones, no waving, no babbling, commando crawling. Anita thought he would catch up, but he was only falling further behind.
“I took him back to the doctor’s -this particular day he was really bad. They still didn’t think anything was wrong. When we got home that day, when I took him out of the car he had a seizure in my arms.”
“That’s when I knew we were in serious trouble. How could I possibly stay awake 24/7 to make sure he didn’t choke on his vomit?”
Then sleep deprivation hit a critical moment – Anita fell asleep at the wheel and nearly hit a power pole. A friend insisted she visit a homeopathy clinic. At that stage, the doctors were suggesting that Shamus go to a children’s home a couple nights a week so his parents can get some sleep.
“…that’s a slippery slope, they are going to take my child off me, so I closed in on myself and wouldn’t ask for help, the worse situation that any mother can be in, to not be able to ask for help.”
Join me at the “Gut Instinct : Living and eating in a microbiome world” conference – Portland, Oregon, October 14-16
“Cutting-edge research and multi-disciplinary approaches all under one roof.”SCHEDULE
Friday at 6:30 pm – Keynote address by Dr. Embritette Hyde of The American Gut Project | The Knight Lab UCSD | Forbes’ 30 Under 30
From the Cerimon House website: “She’ll (Dr. Embritette) separate the hope from the hype surrounding the scientific world’s biggest research initiative today: understanding the importance of healthy bacterial ecosystems that impact everyday life. From where you live to what you eat, from who you mate with and whether you have a dog — all of these factors affect your bacteria and your health, most especially your gut health. Whether you’re a health provider or patient tending to digestive issues and inflammation, or if you just want to preserve the good health you have, Dr. Hyde brings the alien world of human bacteria into a realm that’s both freaky and fun.”
Four Panel Discussions:
– Research & Remedies
– Living & Loving with Lifestyle Restrictions
– Finding Your Way Through the Dietary Maze
– Essentials to Jump Start Your Gut Instinct Now (I’ll be on this one moderated by Tressa Yellig of Salt, Fire & Time/ Broth Bar.