Holiday Diet Implosion

So you’ve been on a “diet” or have made a lifestyle shift in your eating habits. Whether it’s been watching carbs, going gluten-free, eliminating dairy or nightshades, or maybe you’re on the Whole 30. Whatever it is, it really doesn’t matter because what does matter is that you have been feeling great! Now its November and the holiday train is coming right at you. EEK! You try and hang on to your seat (literally!) as it’s can be wild ride, full of temptation.

holiday-coffee

For my issues, I needed to commit to different dietary standards Ie. NO Gluten, soy, dairy, and corn products but I LOVE holiday foods! My mother in-law is an amazing cook! Peach cobbler is her specialty and I have been caught in the kitchen polishing off the baking dish as I was “cleaning up “at Thanksgiving more than once. It took me five holiday seasons of feeling terrible from November until March to figure out that in the bustle of family gatherings, holidays, and parties, that I can’t eat the holiday table “regulars”, and that I can’t cheat. How was I going to get through this?

holiday-diet

At first I stayed pretty committed to a diet with an occasional cheat that I couldn’t resist. The last time I “fell off the wagon” we were on a trip and I had some soda, coffee and ate the icing off the cake, (really just the icing because it was still “gluten-free”) and a few other “cheats” because it was convenient. When I came home from our vacation, I was having difficulty sleeping, anxiety, gastric issues, weight gain, and fatigue. I also noticed a huge change in my workouts. I had been doing great with my spin class prior to the holidays. I was able to get my max heart rate up to 171 and recover quickly.

After that one week trip with a bunch of cheats, my heart rate wouldn’t go over 140. It took me almost 4 months to regulate my digestion, sleep and return to almost the same fitness levels. After that experience, I decided I had to follow a specific diet. I couldn’t cheat, not even on holidays. I found out almost 2 years ago that I have Hashimoto Thyroiditis. I started GAPS almost 2 years ago with success. I am not willing to risk my health for the holiday treats. GAPS, especially in the beginning, is very strict and limiting.

holiday-tree

There were a few months I had to bring my own food with me everywhere. Bar Mitzvah’s, dinner parties, holiday parties, ski days. I am not going to lie, it sucked…Not only can the “diet” aspect be hard, but also the questions, the looks of pity or concern, or that you are crazy! It’s my mom wanting to feed me. My friends inviting me to dinner and trying so hard to cook for me. My family anxious to go grab a bite to eat after a soccer game. As you can see, with the holidays, it’s more than just about the food… yes, there’s, apple pies and Chinese food ( What?! I am Jewish that’s what we eat on Christmas eve) and that all taste great, but its more about being part of the celebration and being included.

Even though I am there, not taking part in the dinner or having to prep my own “special meal” in the corner makes me feel left out. The hardest holiday for me was Passover, I couldn’t have matzo-ball soup… My grandmother and I had made matzo-ball soup many times together when I was a kid, it was very emotional not to eat it with my friends and family. I can’t say I have the holidays 100% completely figured out but have a system that has been working for me.

This tip list has helped me through 5 gluten-free, dairy-free, grain-free holidays and 2 gaps legal holiday seasons.

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1. Know your WHY. Why are you doing this diet/lifestyle? Is it an allergy, an auto-immune disease, weight loss, or training for a big race? When you have that deep real why, then you can tell yourself that particular food is or is not worth risking it… and sometimes it is worth it (its ok, if its ok).
2. Be PREPARED. If you go to party hungry, you are more likely to eat impulsively what is in front of you. And if your diet is AIP or GAPS (or another limiting diet), most likely there will be nothing you can choose from. Always have food with you.
3. CONTAINERS.Thermos, fork knife spoon set, cute lunch box tote. Find some items you like keep them with you. Looking for something fun?  Try these containers. 
4. REMIND yourself it’s not about the food. It’s about spending time with family and friends. It’s about feeling good the next day, and that a food hangover that stops you from playing with your kids on Christmas morning isn’t worth it.
5. Pick a FOOD PREP DAY. Cook in bulk ahead of time, so during the craziness of the season you can grab some roasted chicken, veggies, lettuce and an avocado to throw in your fun container or tote bag to take with you.
6. Offer to BRING A DISH TO SHARE to the party. Find a dish you really like, that fits your needs and bring it to include in the pot luck. Vegetable tian, roasted chicken, warm cranberry spinach salad (links below) have been great for me.
7. Find someone who can SUPPORT you, either because they eat as you do or they truly believe in what you are committed to. If you can’t find that person look to a health coach that can help you with accountability.
8. Do your best to ENJOY what you are eating. Look for other parts of the holidays that you can be grateful for, that you may have ignored before. Now is the time to embrace new and different.

GOOD LUCK and HAPPY HOLIDAYS!

Here are links to recipes I have used for holiday dinners that have proven popular with most everyone, dieting or not!

http://www.saveur.com/provencal-vegetable-gratin-tian-recipe
I would use a ghee or saturated fat (tallow, duck fat, schmaltz, or avocado oil vs olive oil with this recipe)

Healthy is Not Always Good for You: Veggies Can Hurt

Summer salads go hand in hand with summer six-pack abs.

“I need to eat lots of veggies to look good in that bathing suit. But when I eat a raw veggie salad, I get bloated and gassy, and that six-pack feels buried.”

Does this happen to you? It seems everything we hear is telling us we need to eat a lot of vegetables, increase our fiber content, and that raw is way healthier because it has all the nutrients unaltered by the cooking process.

Eating a variety of raw and cooked foods is extremely important! Believe it or not there are times when eating raw foods is not “healthy”. Often times, vegetables are difficult to digest. Digestion is a chemical reaction that breaks food down into nutrients that the body can absorb and use. Many people do not produce the necessary enzymes to digest these vegetables.

If the body can’t absorb the nutrients, it doesn’t matter how healthy you eat, because the nutrient value to the body is worthless. What’s even worse, is that healthy foods can increase the inflammatory process in the gut.

If the gut is not healthy enough to produce the appropriate enzymes for digestion, eating a raw veggie platter is about as healthy as going for a run with a broken ankle. I often see my patients forcing themselves to eat large quantities of raw veggies, even when experiencing negative symptoms, because of the notion that “vegetables are good for me.” However, if your gut is irritated when eating these foods, to quote Chris Kresser, “it’s like using a wire brush on a bad burn.”

Frequently, the enzymes are not produced because the intestinal lining is damaged. The cells of the gut are irritated and swollen. When this occurs, the space between the cells grow, allowing the undigested food to slip between the cracks. Akin to when food gets trapped between the garbage can and the lining, it can get nasty.

The intact particles will become food for bad gut bacteria vs. for you. The food particles may also enter the blood stream, which can trigger an immune reaction. This inflammatory process can further increase the damage to the gut lining which reduces the digestive enzyme production. The process can continue to spiral downward. This condition is frequently referred to as intestinal permeability or “leaky gut”.
Leaky gut and poor gut function can begin for a variety of reasons. Increased consumption of processed foods, food sensitivities such as gluten and processed dairy, auto-immune diseases, use of steroids or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication, frequent use of antibiotics, and high chronic stress levels are all factors in gut dysfunction.

It is important to identify if you suffer from leaky gut, and if you do, begin the process towards healing it. Just like if your ankle is broken you cast it to facilitate the healing process. You have to remove the stressors and support the healing process. Note, I said process, which indicates active participation over a course of time.

Unlike an X-ray of a bone, testing for leaky gut is not as clear as a picture. Frequently is it is determined by symptoms. For a link to test on-line click here.

Working with a Naturopath or a Functional Medicine trained practitioner can make all the difference in determining the right plan for your healing. You can find a functional medicine practitioner here.

There are systematic ways to remove gut irritants and provide a soothing environment for healing. I have found that GAPS and the SCD diet provide a great structure for the healing process.

Both diets are based on the specific carbohydrate diet designed by Elaine Gottschall, initially developed for her daughter with Ulcerative Colitis. It was then further expanded by Natasha Campbell-McBride and used to successfully treat patients with auto-immunity, autism and mental health disorders. To research further check out this website.

The diets both start with six introduction stages to promote healing of the gut lining. Begin by eating foods that are nutritious and non-inflammatory in stages, just like when a baby starts to eat solids. It is recommended to start with what is the easiest to absorb and the most nutritious.

By continuing in a systematic way you can also identify what food triggers that may be continuing to inflame your gut. I highly recommend this book by Hilary Boynton. If you decide this is the right path to take towards healing, this book is your best friend. It breaks everything down in to manageable pieces. And the food is good to boot!

Tips to start healing: Add foods such as bone broth, boiled veggies pureed in the broths for soups, and sauces, sautéed veggies in good heathy fats, sustainably raised grass fed organic meats, boiled and baked. You can also consume small quantities of fermented foods like kimchi, sauerkraut, pickles, homemade yogurts (non-dairy to start) for probiotic support.

Supplementation can be added. Probiotics, digestive enzymes, and good quality vitamins are essential at this time. Remember, your body is not absorbing vitamins and minerals from your food. Therefore, it’s essential that the body gets these minerals for building blocks to heal. Working with a practitioner for a customized plan for your specific needs can truly make the difference in successfully healing.
Avoiding processed foods at this time is critical. Processed grains, canned beans, legumes, sugar, (even natural sugars found in fruits) artificial sweeteners, and processed/pasteurized dairy will all contribute to the gut irritation and inflammation.

As the gut begins to heal, it will start to produce the enzymes needed to break down more fibrous, denser foods. The result is less bloating, gas and digestive discomfort. The body can heal itself if you support it. Give your self-time to repair. Just like the ankle we have to start to walk slowly before you can run a marathon.

Roasted Veggie and Kale Salad

Kale-Salad

 

 

 

 

 

Recipe

  • For the salad:
    1-2 large bunches of kale
    2 large (12 ounces) zucchini, trimmed and cut into 1/2-inch dice
    2 medium (6 ounces) yellow squash trimmed and cut into 1/2-inch dice
    2 cups diced onion
    3 large carrots peeled and cut in to ½-inch dice
    1/2 cup avocado oil (or coconut oil)
    3 teaspoons salt
    1 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
  • For the dressing:
    1 cup finely chopped assorted fresh herbs, such as chives, tarragon, dill, chervil, basil, cilantro, and parsley
    1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
    2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
    1 tablespoon chopped garlic
  • Directions:
    Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
    Place the vegetables in a large mixing bowl and toss with the olive oil, salt, and pepper, to evenly coat.
    Spread the vegetables in one layer in a large roasting pan, and roast in the preheated oven for 45 minutes.
    Remove the roasting pan from the oven and allow the vegetables to cool for 15 minutes
  • While the vegetables are roasting:
    Prepare kale by cutting tough midrib from the leaves. Stack the leaves and cut into 1/2 inch ribbons. Wash.
    Blanch the kale. To do this set aside a large bowl of ice and water. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Once the water boils, and working in 3 small batches, place the first batch into the boiling water for 30 seconds, remove to iced water using a slotted spoon or spider. Repeat with the last two batches. Drain the beautifully, bright green and blanched kale, and spin dry in your salad spinner or over tea towels.
    Place all veggies and kale in a large bowl, coat with dressing (remember good fats in the right amounts are soothing for the gut.) this can help with the absorption of nutrients.

Bone Broths soup are also a power house for healing. Thinking of having soup in the summer can be a bit unusual. Here is a link to a summer-time cold nourishing soup:
Chilled Carrot Curry Soup.

Leaky Gut Links: 
http://draxe.com/4-steps-to-heal-leaky-gut-and-autoimmune-disease/
http://www.thepaleomom.com/2012/04/what-should-you-eat-to-heal-leaky-gut.html
http://www.thepaleomom.com/2012/04/what-should-you-eat-to-heal-leaky-gut.html
http://www.livestrong.com/article/49246-cant-digest-raw-vegetables/
https://chriskresser.com/got-digestive-problems-take-it-easy-on-the-veggies/
http://scdlifestyle.com/2010/03/the-scd-diet-and-leaky-gut-syndrome/
https://www.pinterest.com/culturedpalate/gaps-diet-soups/

Contact Battleborn Health for more health related questions.

This article originally appeared in the July issue of Live, Love, and Eat Magazine.