Thoughts on Choosing a Prenatal Vitamin

“Are you taking a prenatal?”

Picking a prenatalIdeally, we would all get our nutrients from foods.  However, with food intolerances, food aversions, soil depletion, lack of access to high quality food sources, and food processing, some argue that this just isn’t possible in today’s world.  I won’t argue either way.  All I know is that doctors like it when women who are trying to conceive, pregnant, or nursing take a prenatal vitamin, but they aren’t always helpful in recommending one or up to date on the latest nutrient information.

I have delivered four babies in four different states, and my four different obstetricians never once had a firm prenatal vitamin recommendation.  Often, I just cycled through samples they gave me at different visits or some Walgreen’s over-the-counter product.  The question at OB check-ups always was, “Are you taking a prenatal?”  And my answer usually was, “Yes.”  The doctor’s simple response was, “Okay.”   (Or–”No, I am not taking a prenatal.  I feel too sick.”  “Well, just make sure and get some folic acid.”)  End of conversation.  Never once did the OB request, “What kind?  Let me see it.”  However, I think obstetricians/practitioners need to know of any supplement put in their patients’ mouths so they can have the opportunity to offer guidance.  They may even have some great recommendations and samples based on a patient’s health history needs.  (Or not.)

Anyhow, after the last few folic acid/folate posts, I received a few questions and comments about choosing a supplement for pregnancy.  So I put my fingers to the keyboard and was reminded of what I already knew from my search many months ago for myself at the beginning of our surprise pregnancy.  Choosing a prenatal vitamin supplement is a real bear.  A real maze.  A twisted, contorted game.

The Dilemma

If you read my recent posts on folic acid versus folate, you probably think that it’s probably high time to ditch folic acid in favor of a natural folate in prenatal vitamins (and vitamins in general).  Great.  Now you know.  Now I know.  But what good is knowledge if you don’t know how to act on it in real life?  I tried to pinpoint a good prenatal vitamin with L-methylfolate for myself to take many months ago, but it wasn’t as easy as that.  Let me say it again.  It was not as easy as that.  If I liked the vitamin content profile, then I didn’t like the extra ingredients, for example the use of soy, oats, artificial colors, or vanillin (an artificial vanilla flavor).  If I liked the clean ingredient profile, it didn’t meet the minimum recommended iodine requirements.  Or it didn’t have any DHA.  Or it used ergocalciferol (a plant-based vitamin D) rather than cholecalciferol (the better utilized animal based).  Or the vitamin B 12 was not the methylcobalamin form.  Or it didn’t have any vitamin K2.

What do you do?  You do the best you can.  You choose the best you can.  (And you make EVERY BITE COUNT.  More on my personal experience with that in a subsequent post.)  There is no perfect prenatal out there.  There just isn’t.  I’ll tell you what I looked for.  But this is the story of my thoughts and learning.  Not my medical advice.  Please don’t use my blog posts as medical advice.   You’ll have to figure out for yourself with your practitioner’s help what you need for sure and also where you’re willing to compromise on your prenatal vitamin.

Things I looked for in my prenatal vitamin:

  • Does it use folate or folic acid?  I prefer L-methylfolate or another biological folate.
  • Does it have the recommended dose of iodine?  What is the source of iodine?  I prefer it to have iodine since my iodine sources are limited (I don’t tolerate eggs and dairy well.) and haven’t yet sorted through which source I feel is best for iodine.
  • Does it have selenium to accompany the iodine?  If iodine is taken, then selenium needs to be sufficient as well.
  • Is the vitamin D source from ergocalciferol (vitamin D2) or cholecalciferol (vitamin D3)?  I prefer vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol).
  • Does it have any vitamin K2 in it?  Vitamin K2 is difficult to consume from foods, especially on a dairy-free diet, yet it is very important for health and fetal development.  Many supplements lack this.
  • Does it have the methylated form of vitamin B12 (methylcobalamin)?  I prefer this.
  • Does it have any DHA?  (A type of omega-3)  None of the prenatals I looked at contained DHA.  I made a point to eat DHA-rich foods, and if that wasn’t happening, I supplemented.
  • Does it have biotin?
  • Does it have choline?
  • What extra ingredients does it have?  I don’t see any reason for artificial colors and artificial flavors (like vanillin).  In addition, I am always on the lookout for soy, dairy, and gluten in any supplements due to some sensitivities.  I scan ingredients, also, for added probiotics or FOSs which may not agree with tummy issues.
  • What are the amounts and types of other minerals, like iron, calcium, and magnesium?  Many prenatals don’t have the recommended allowances of these, which can be okay.  However, women need to make sure they know how much of these minerals are in their prenatal vitamins so they can get their needs elsewhere if required.  Some women rely on their vitamins because of food aversions and nausea.
  • What is the vitamin A source and how much is in there?  Striking a middle ground here would probably be wise.  Not too much.  Not too little.  If you eat a lot of vitamin A rich foods, lean on the lower end in the supplement.
  • How many pills need to be taken?  Sure.  One is ideal but probably not optimal for absorption and maximizing nutrients.  For example, the calcium needs of the body cannot be absorbed in one sitting.  It needs to be spread out through the day.

Putting Criteria into Reality

I don’t have a good prenatal to recommend.  Like I said, nothing met all of my criteria.  My most recent obstetrician didn’t mind that I didn’t take a prenatal vitamin as long as I took a “folic acid” supplement.  This was a surprise pregnancy, and by the time I started looking for a prenatal, I was overcome with pregnancy maladies.  (Read:  I am making excuses for not selecting a good prenatal.)

Initially, I took a vitamin B complex with an active form of L-methylfolate made by Designs for Health along with some fermented cod liver oil since we were in the dead of a brutal winter (which would provide vitamin D, vitamin A, and DHA/EPA).  Then, I switched to a Designs for Health multi-vitamin that I already had in my cupboard which would provide some vitamin K2, iodine, zinc, biotin, and choline for baby and me, but it recommended 6 pills per day!  Right.  I was not very compliant with that.  So I eventually picked up a pre-natal from the local health food store, Rainbow Light, and made do with it, but it did not meet all my criteria.  My nutrition overall was strong and well thought out, and I felt the prenatal was more of a safety blanket for me.  Like perhaps to cover my low intake of iodine until I recognized a weak area in my diet.

I went back this week and looked at some prenatal vitamins after reading up on folic acid/folate, and I wished I had had the energy to investigate them all early in that first trimester.  But I didn’t.  So here are some of the vitamins I looked at this week that met a lot of criteria I find important.  I also listed Rainbow Light since I took it and saw a lot of women commenters on other sites mention it.

Do not use this list as a recommendation list.  Use it as a place to start looking, comparing, and contrasting which vitamin might fit you best, and always enlist the help of your physician to make sure you’re not overlooking something.

Nutrient 950 with Vitamin K by Pure Encapsulations

This is not the prenatal from the same company.  The prenatal has folic acid, not folate.

 

Emerald Labs Multi Vit-A-Min Prenatal

  • This has L-5-methyl tetrahydrofolate (L-5-MTHF), vitamin D3, iodine (although a lower amount), selenium, methylcobalamin, and biotin.
  • No DHA or choline.
  • The dose is 4 capsules.
  • With the recommended dose, one does not obtain the recommended daily doses of magnesium and calcium.
  • The ingredient list should be inspected for a person to see if there are any sensitivities to included ingredients, like quinoa and FOS.
  • One source of vitamin A is vitamin A palmitate, rather than simply relying on beta-carotene.  A reader may want to research this a bit.  Especially if they eat many food sources of vitamin A.
  • http://www.ultralaboratories.com/emeraldlabs/Prenatal%20Multi/index.php

 

Thorne Research Basic Prenatal

  • This has calcium folinate and L-5-methyltetrahydrofolate (L-5-MTHF), both biological folates. It also uses vitamin D3, iodine, selenium, methylcobalimin, and biotin.
  • There is no vitamin K2.
  • Calcium and magnesium do not reach the recommended daily doses.
  • The source of vitamin A is also palmitate (and carotenes).
  • The dose is 3 capsules.
  • https://shop.thorne.com/products/womens-health/basic-prenatal

Designs for Health DFH Complete Multi

  • Designs for Health Complete Multi has vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol), vitamin K2, natural folates (5-MTHF and 5-FTHF), methylcobalamin, biotin, choline, iodine, and selenium.
  • The calcium and magnesium are less than recommended allowances.
  • There is NO iron and no copper.
  • Its vitamin A source is carotenoids.
  • The dose is 6 capsules.
  • http://catalog.designsforhealth.com/DFH-Complete-Multi

Optimal Prenatal Vitamin/Vitamin Powder

This vitamin is out of stock reportedly due to popularity, but there is a protein powder designed to be interchangeable.  They are working to get the vitamin back in stock.

Rainbow Light

Rainbow Light is a food-based multivitamin, vegan compliant.  It is what I landed on for a prenatal vitamin due to chance, and it gets good reviews on-line.  It misses some of my criteria.  I landed on it, but I don’t think it’s the best.

  • It’s vitamin D source is D2 (ergocalciferol).
  • It has no vitamin K2.
  • It does not have the methylated form of vitamin B12.
  • It uses folic acid.
  • On the other hand, it does have iodine, choline, and biotin.  It also contains iron.
  • The calcium and magnesium content, like the other brands, is less than the recommended daily doses.
  • It has some added ingredients, like red raspberry leaf, ginger, spirulina, probiotics, and digestive enzymes for readers to investigate.
  • http://www.rainbowlight.com/multivitamins-prenatal-one-multivitamin.aspx

 Conclusion

I think this is a good list of prenatal vitamins/multi-vitamins to start to check out.  Do readers have any others (and thanks to those who gave suggestions)?  Remember, it’s all a game of checks and balances.  Start with a good, strong, well-planned pregnancy diet and make sure your supplement does that–supplements the gaps in your diet.  Run all of your supplements by your doctor.

All the best to you for a happy, healthy family!

~~Terri

 

 

 

Fabulous Folate Smoothie

Green smoothie rich in folate

Putting Knowledge Into Action

So the last two posts have been about folate versus folic acid.  (First post and second post.)  Lots of science to explain why the folate from real foods is better than folic acid from enriched, processed foods and vitamins.  But let’s put it into action!  How can we get folate into ourselves and our families?  Smoothies.  Everybody likes a smoothie.  Right?

Smoothies are deceptive foods.  A banana.  A spoonful of nutbutter.  Some yogurt.  A little chocolate.  A splash of sweetener.  Taste.  Needs more banana.  Oops.  A little bit more of nutbutter.  Add some ice.  Taste.  Dang.  Overshot.  Needs a little more sweet.  Have the kids taste.  Needs more chocolate.  How about some vanilla?  Perfect.  Kids drink half theirs.  I drink all mine and all their leftovers.  So much for a “healthy” snack.  Guarantee I’ll have a carbohydrate crash nap after about an hour.  Zonk.

But a well-placed smoothie with a purpose.  Now that’s a shaker.  That’s what I like.  To reach dietary folate goals, I started drinking green smoothies during pregnancy.  My kids weren’t too hip on them.  The greens can really impart bitterness.  But I didn’t want to give up!  I get tired of chopping up vegetables for a folate rich salad the family will all eat or cleaning the skillet from sautéed greens.  I deserve a break–in the form of a blend!  Well,  finally, here is a recipe that I and my kids can all agree on.  (In fact, my daughter made the photo design for this post.)

Fabulous Folate Smoothie

1 cup of loosely packed spinach (Any greens will work but spinach has the best folate profile.)
1 well-ripened large mango which is about 1 generous cup (Mangoes are a fruit rich in folate.)
3 tablespoons lime juice
1 ripe banana
1 tablespoon maple syrup (Or use honey or Stevia to taste or whatever you use for sweet.)
10 ice cubes (I use two single handfuls.)
Enough liquid to blend, if needed (Choose one of the following:  your favorite tea, Kombucha which will add even more folate, orange juice which will add even more folate, or your favorite kind of “milk”.)

Place into blender and blend until smooth.  I put the greens in last so the mixture blends evenly.

This recipe made the above two glasses full you see in the photo.

 

Smoothie Folate Content and Recommendations From the National Institute of Health Fact Sheet

The folate content of this green smoothie is about 160 micrograms.  Recommended folate intakes are as follows in the table taken from the National Institute of Health Folate Fact Sheet.  DFE refers to dietary folate equivalents.

 

Table 1: Recommended Dietary Allowances (RDAs) for Folate [2]
Age Male Female Pregnant Lactating
Birth to 6 months* 65 mcg DFE* 65 mcg DFE*
7–12 months* 80 mcg DFE* 80 mcg DFE*
1–3 years 150 mcg DFE 150 mcg DFE
4–8 years 200 mcg DFE 200 mcg DFE
9–13 years 300 mcg DFE 300 mcg DFE
14–18 years 400 mcg DFE 400 mcg DFE 600 mcg DFE 500 mcg DFE
19+ years 400 mcg DFE 400 mcg DFE 600 mcg DFE 500 mcg DFE

* Adequate Intake (AI)

Smoothie Carb Count

The carb count for those interested is about 71.  If I’m the only one drinking this, I will often use only half a banana and Stevia instead of maple syrup.

Closing

Eat real folate!  It’s good for you!  Try to get your nutrients from food if you can.  Make every bite count!

Do you drink green smoothies?  Do your kids?  Does your spouse?  I’m converting mine over finally!  Two years.  Two years into this.  It’s not a fast-paced game to convert your family to this way of eating!  But it is worth it!

Have a great day!

~~Terri

Pigeonholed Doctors

A story.  A medical doctor has been coming to terms with the idea that she may have been brainwashed for years regarding diet, particularly dietary carbohydrates (and even more specifically the dietary reliance on grains).  While she thought it was a benign misunderstanding, the intense undercurrent of hostility from the traditional believing experts in the medical community looms as threatening and leads her to wonder otherwise. 

(Nothing on this blog or in this post should be construed as medical advice.  It is only a story which may provide you with information to look up for yourself and discuss with your trusted healthcare professional.)

A conversation between a husband and wife, both physicians.  Their diet deviates from the recommendations of both the American Diabetic Association and the American Heart Association.—

Her (beseechingly):  I just don’t understand.  We know diabetes is a carbohydrate processing problem.  We know.  More carbohydrate, more insulin.  We know if we limit those patients’ carbs they might even get off their meds.  We know.
Him:  Well, that’s not standard of care.  If you were practicing and put one of your patients on your d—
Her (defensively):  It’s not MY diet.
Him:  Well, anyhow, it’s not accepted.  What if the guy died of a heart attack or something because of “your” diet (he always calls it “her” diet).  You would be held accountable because it’s not standard of care.  It’s not accepted.  It’s not what we do.
Her:  There are studies to support it.
Him:  Doesn’t matter.  That’s not what’s done.  You’re pigeonholed.
Her:  So I have to practice medicine according to some guidelines that were constructed, perhaps faultily, or else I’m liable–knowing that these diets are on to something and that I could help my diabetic patients?
Him:  Yep…

Well, she didn’t want to believe him.  How could medicine pigeonhole doctors that way?  If studies and evidence support a low carbohydrate diet in some situations, why shouldn’t a well-informed physician manage patients that way?  Why? 

Why shouldn’t they?  Because medical peers, so-called “experts” are issuing challenging, threatening words.  Here it is.  Just what “him” was talking about.  Some Norwegian medical doctors want to block their peers from prescribing low carbohydrate, high fat diets.  And they supply misleading, inaccurate information that does not appropriately reflect our current research knowledge.  From a blog called Doc’s Opinion, a post called Taxing Animal Fats is Necessary–Still Chasing the Usual Suspects.:

The message from the experts is clear: The fat diets are a threat to public health in Sweden…A question should be asked whether licensed physicians should be allowed to prescribe  LCHF [low carbohydrate, high fat], which is not supported by scientific studies.”

BUT THESE NORWEGIAN “EXPERTS” ARE NOT MENTIONING IMPORTANT INFORMATION.  Quickly searching, from the site Science News reporting on a Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine study, Losing Weight from either a Low-Carb or Low-Fat Diet Lowers Body Inflammation:

“Stewart [a professor of medicine at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine] adds that there’s still some bias in the medical community against a low-carb diet, which, by definition has a higher percentage of fat and protein than a low-fat diet. In their study, 60 people, ages 30 to 65, who were either overweight or obese with excessive fat around their waist, were randomly assigned to go on a low-fat or a low-carb diet for six months. Each group also participated in exercise training three times a week…The participants on the low-carb diet lost more weight, on average, than those on the low-fat diet — 28 pounds versus 18 pounds. The low-carb diet group also had a greater drop in BMI (4.7 versus 2.9), and a greater drop in belly fat (14.3 versus 8.4 pounds). The level of aerobic fitness increased in both groups by about 20 percent.”

And for you to read a list of more studies supporting low carbohydrate diets specifically in Type 2 diabetes, check out here from the site Diabetic Mediterranean Diet, European Guidelines Not In Favor of Low Carbohydrate Diets for Diabetes.

Back to conversation:

Her:  Why are they fighting it so hard?

Him:  YOU DON’T KNOW WHY?  ARE YOU KIDDING ME?  They don’t care about your HEALTH…

And then we headed into some very political discussions regarding green stuff, sustainability, the Earth’s bulging population, poverty, lack of education, and so forth…

Earnestly wishing you health and a sense of well-being,  Terri

Tell Me What to Eat, Please

Moses with the tablets of the Ten Commandments...

Moses with the tablets of the Ten Commandments, painting by Rembrandt (1659) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Got the in-laws visiting.  We were sitting around the breakfast table, and of course we had to talk about nutrition.  I didn’t bring it up, I’m sure.  My mother-in-law is doing great on what I’d call a Primal diet.  Grandma is clueless that she’s eating Primally.  I was finishing off my “Best Ever Liver” to the grimaces of both of my in-laws, when it was suddenly recalled that my father-in-law used to always request liver and onions for his birthday.  Until my mother-in-law started cutting cholesterol out of their diet back in the ripping eighties.  Man those were fun times.  Even without liver and onions.

Her (mother-in-law):  “They said cholesterol was BAD for us.  Now I guess they’re telling us it’s GOOD for us.”

I, true to my “can’t-keep-the-lid-on-my-emotions-self”, rocketed out of my chair, blew steam out my ears, and konked my head on the 8 foot ceiling.  Ouch.

I cannot stand splitting.  Black and white thinking.  Cannot stand it.

Me:  “Cholesterol is not good for you.  It is not bad for you.  We need, need, need cholesterol to make our hormones, and so it certainly is not BAD for us.  But neither do I want it isolated in the Nabisco lab, forced into a plastic bag, stuffed into a cardboard box, and sold for me at Wal-Mart to buy and eat up by the spoonful.   Really, it depends on what else you’re eating in your life, like sugar, for example.  It depends on your body type.  It depends on the battles your body has been through.  It depends on a thousand and one variables we don’t understand yet.”

Her:  “Well, I just want one of you guys [implying medical doctors] to tell me how to eat!  I don’t want to have to think about it.”

Oh.  Heavens.  If that’s what I’m up against in this world, and in my own mother-in-law, I really should just shut up.  Yeah.  I should shut up.

Me:  “Nobody can tell you how to eat.  The  absolute best way to eat is to eat a whole foods diet.  REALLY a whole foods diet.  Then, analyze yourself.  Are you left with nagging symptoms like constipation, diarrhea, bloating, stomach cramps, headache, dry eyes, dry mouth, sinus problems, skin rashes, excess weight, underweight, abnormal labs your doctor is concerned about, and so on?  If you are, then you need to regroup with that diet you’re eating and take some things out; common troublemakers are things like dairy, eggs, nuts, soy, wheat, and nightshades.  Or in some instances, add something in, like whole grains or animal fats.  That’s the best anyone can tell you how to eat.”

“Eating for you” is a class in the school-of-life that won’t stop.  It’s a constant regrouping.  Reassessment of YOUR machinery.  Not mine.  Not your mom’s.  Not the prototype patient used for the medical guidelines.  YOURS.  Food intolerances will pass, and you will be able to add eggs back in.  Weight will increase and it will be time to limit avocados and nuts.  I am so angry that my profession has lumped all of us into one group and said, “Eat this way.  It is right.”

No matter what, the closest you keep your diet to the way things were produced by that great, magnificent, simple, and complex thing called nature, the closer you will be to health.  (No splitting in that last sentence.)  If you’re lucky, you will be there.  Some of the rest of us will have to tweak here and there and perhaps look a bit beyond food to get there.  But food matters.

So, are you waiting for somebody to tell YOU how to do it?  Would you believe them over listening to symptoms screaming from your own darn body?

Live Studio Audience, thank you for reading.

Terri

Posts in the draft bin:  Same as yesterday–short chain fatty acids and pigeon-holed physicians

Abundance of Pears

Dried pears are probably our family’s favorite dried fruit.  When we made them for my daughter’s preschool snacks, they were even a hit with the kids there.  They are super sweet and keep that crunchy grit that great pears have.   You don’t have to be too worried about how you cut them before dehydrating them, either.  I’ve cut them thick and thin.  I’ve cut them in rings and strips.  No matter what, they’ve turned out delicious every time.

wpid-IMAG1186.jpg

You’ll see that we used nice, red pears that we bought from the Azure Standard organic truck that rolls through town once a month, and we also used mottled, ugly pears from my in-law’s tree.  No matter.  As long as they’re soft, just yielding to thumb pressure, and sweet, you’ll get a delightful dried pear.  Don’t try to use a hard, unripe pear.  Yuck.  Wait on them.  They’ll soften up.  To make our dried pears, we simply:

  •  Wash pears and dry.
  • Cut or core out center ( I used a corer and my mother-in-law used a knife).
  • We do not peel them, and we do not place them in any preservative, not even ascorbic acid.  You could to keep them from turning brown and to add some vitamin C, but if I have to add an extra step–I probably won’t get something done.  So I skip it.  I think brown is a fabulous fall color!
  • Slice as desired into rings or strips.  Most of ours were about 1/4 inch thick, but some were thicker and some thinner!  ALL were good when dried.
  • Lay on dehydrating racks, leaving space around each pear.
  • Dehydrate at desired temperature.  I did a batch at “live foods” temperature (105 degrees F/ 40.6 degrees C), and they were too moist for my taste.  So I cranked the dehydrator up to 135 degrees F (57.2 degrees C).  I dehydrate them until they are the dryness I desire, about 8-10 hours.  We like them quite dry, and they keep longer this way.  Even still, they are not “chips.”  They are a little more chewy.

I bought a large Excalibur dehydrator and have made myself use it.  We like it a lot.  We make dried bananas.  I have the kids do it when we have a bunch of bananas going South.  We make beef jerky.  We make dried pears.  Fruit leathers.  Oh, and it’s absolutely awesome for yogurt.  Just the best.  So for us, the Excalibur was worth the investment.

Anyone else dried any fruit?  Like it?  Any thoughts on dried fruit in general?  Pears?  Give us your tips, your pearls, your ugly thoughts!

Terri

Related post:  Making Applesauce
In the draft bin:  Short Chain Fatty Acids on My Metametrix and Pigeon-holed Doctors

Keep That Wagon Rolling: My Less-Than-Expert Diet Tricks

USPosterFoodIsAWeapon

USPosterFoodIsAWeapon (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The humble, perhaps slightly insane, tips that allow me to stay on the diet that keeps me feeling the best:

Rank absolutes:  Absolutely not.  Should not.  It’s okay but not great.  Yes, I will!  As in, I absolutely won’t eat that.  I shouldn’t eat that.  It’s okay that I eat that, but not ideal.  And, yes, I will eat that, pass it my way–give it here–yeah–the whole plate–it’s on my diet…

Define when to break the “absolutes” and “should-nots.”  It could be never.  Or maybe it’s Christmas Day.  Or maybe it’s holidays and birthdays.  Or the first Thursday of any month after a full moon.  Maybe it’s 30 days after you start the Whole30 or 1 year after GAPS.  Just name breaks ahead of time and be resolute to make it to those times.  And don’t sneak in other times as “just this once.”

Decline people’s offers of food.  And don’t feel guilty about it.

Don’t eat at parties.  And don’t feel guilty about it.  Usually, it’s just easiest for me to say I ate right before I came and eat nothing at all.  Choosing ahead of time to just not eat at the party is simpler for me.  As I always used to eat at parties, I never really noticed that some people don’t.  There are other people who don’t.

Find a friend or two who eats similarly to you and doesn’t think you’re crazy.  Gluten-free, dairy-free eaters have learned to navigate the waters.  They’ve learned how to say, “No, thank you.”  They’ve learned to socialize and skip the food.  They know their “absolutely nots” and stick to them.  They’re reassuring to stand next to at a party with a glass of water, although they may wonder why you keep saying, “I looove you.”  (Actually I have a couple of friends, and we meet for coffee and talk honestly about how we are doing with our eating.)

Get out of the kitchen.  If you feel the “crazy, grazy” feeling, get out.  GET OUT, I SAY!  Just get out!  Clean kitchen or not.  And run fast and far.  Don’t look back until in the morning.

Focus on bodily symptoms that plague you when you eat certain foods and make it a goal to keep these symptoms GONE.  Weight shifts too slowly.  Try to find something like a stuffy nose, post-nasal drip, sinus congestion, headache, migraine, dry/itchy eyes, bloating, constipation, etc.

Read the book or internet site of your chosen regime again.  “Yes, Robb Wolfe.” (Paleo)  “No, you’re right Dr. Wahls.”  (Terry Wahl’s MS diet)  “Oh, Melissa and Dallas, I meant to do it that way.”  (Whole30)  “I should know better than that Dr. Atkins.”  (Surely you know him.)  “Dr. Cambpell-McBride, I so missed that point the first time around.”  (GAPS)  And so on.  Just get motivated by reading the experts and the science again.

Know how YOU best handle treat (cheat) foods.  Are you a “just-a-teensy-smooch-here” kind of person–just a little treat with every meal?  Or are you a “you’d-best-be-prepared-to-bring-me-two-more-baskets-of-corn-chips-if-I-even-get-my-hands-on-one” kind of person?  I’m the latter.  A little treat here for me turns into treats all day, all night, tomorrow, the next day, and the next day, too.

That’s okay; I’ve learned to accept that tidbit of knowledge about myself.  I just know that, and so I don’t treat myself very often, and when I do, if the floodgate opens, I don’t beat myself up too badly.  It’s a little sad that I can’t be that “Don’t deprive yourself or you’ll ruin your diet” kind of person.  Let’s just choose to say that when I do something, I give it gusto.  Gusto…gustar…to eat.

Every person is different, and only YOU know which process suits you best.  Be honest and move forward.

Finish it, let it go, and start with vim and vigor in the morning.  Sometimes you fail.  You don’t leave the kitchen.  You take the first bite that you know will avalanche, and it does.  You don’t put the cookie down, the butter away, or the peanut butter back on the shelf.  You don’t leave the kitchen as mentally directed.  You don’t get the faucet shut off that night.  I unfortunately cannot leave a job unfinished either, and so I usually find it reassuring, for some reason, to just finish that food off there and then.  Because if I don’t, I’ll finish it off in the morning.  Why ruin two days?  And then I stand there, screaming insanely at my diet, “Look.  I am in charge here.  And I did it because I CAN.”

Failure can only occur if you’re not willing to try again.  I always try again in the morning and point out the bodily damage–but let the psychology of it go.

Loosen up on my family’s eating while I focus on myself.  This keeps me out of the kitchen until I get back on track.  I can’ t be all things to all people, and when I’m trying to get my eating on track, it takes all of my focus.  “Yeah!  Hot dogs again, mom?  We love hot dogs!”

Screw the breakfast rule and wait until I’m actually hungry.  “Experts” say to always eat breakfast.  Sometimes, I’m just not really hungry!  So I skip it.  Then make sure I have good, wholesome food around so I eat as I should when I am actually hungry around 11 am or so.  I’ve never read much on intermittent fasting, but I like to call this my version of it…

Admit when something about your nutritional program isn’t sitting well.  Maybe you have to add in a potato to feel good or keep the program together.  Maybe you can’t eat the sauerkraut or seaweed.  Whatever it is, always step back and ask yourself if “the rules” may need to be changed to suit your case.  Just as medicine is an “art”–I think nutrition is, too.  But make sure you’re being honest and have researched your change, and that you’re not just doing it out of a discomfort that will pass.

Remember when you felt the best.  And that’s your goal way of eating every day.  When you FELT your best.  Not your skinniest.  Not your most miles jogged.  Not your most strict.  Just when you felt good physically, emotionally, psychologically, and spiritually.

Make sure you really are getting nutrients.  Maybe you’re having cravings because you’re eating too many nuts and neglecting vegetables and fruits.  Maybe you’re really not getting enough calories.  Examine what you’re eating on the basis of nutrients.  A nutritionist can help immensely here!

Urge surf.  From another site:   “While reflecting on an urge, such as smoking a cigarette or eating junk food…we should first make note of all the physical and mental sensations that create that craving experience – these craving experiences will often vary depending on the person and the object of desire.  For example, you may identify a twisting sensation in your stomach whenever you crave another piece of cake. Learn how to tune into that feeling – step back and observe it – but don’t act on the impulse. Just watch your desires almost as if you are passively watching a movie.”  Very interesting and helpful, I think.

You are great, special, unique, wonderful, and have lots to give to this world.  Eat to make your system (your body) the best it can be at giving what only you have to give.

Terri

The Best Zucchini Ever

My spontaneous Romanian-Italian-American friend, married to a French-Camaroonian-American occasionally visits me, bearing gifts because she knows I’m on this crazy GAPS diet.  She grew up with traditional Eastern European food, spent her formative cooking years in Italy, and has the frenzied pace of an American mother.  “The Best Ever Zucchini” is one of many of her delicious recipes that such a diverse background allows her to cook up out of nowhere; raciti, chicken livers, and goat stew are others!  I feel so Italian when I eat this dish.  When I asked her how to make the zucchini, she said, “Oh.  It’s nothing.”  But, let me tell you, it’s something, and it’s great!

On a recent visit to her house, with 9 kids running around, she showed me how to create this awesome zucchini.  If you like Italian antipasti type stuff, you will LOVE this.  If not, may not be your thing.  It seems a bit complex for kids’ tastes, but it’s a real hit with my husband and I.  Refrigerate a day or two for optimal flavor.

The Best Zucchini Ever

Indoor grill, grill pan, or outdoor grill.  (I use my Panini press.)
1-2 zucchini (Of the size before it gets all seedy inside.  Smaller is better.)
1/4 cup of olive oil, high quality, extra virgin
1/4 cup of vinegar (red wine or balsamic)
1-2 cloves of pressed garlic
Salt

Prepare dressing/marinade:  Combine olive oil and vinegar in a container with a lid you can mix well or shake.  Add 1-2 cloves pressed garlic.  If you don’t have a garlic press, slice it or dice it as much as possible and add.  Add a few turns from a sea salt grinder (or a couple pinches of your choice of salt).  Shake well.

Prepare zucchini:  Slice zucchini thinly.  Small, young zucchini really work the best.  A mandolin is nice, but NOT a must.  Cut either long ways or diagonal.  Place on a hot grill with NO oil.  Place the zucchini on there “dry.”  Grill until there are nice, golden lines on the zucchini on both sides.  Place a layer of the grilled zucchini in a smaller sized casserole dish (perhaps 8×8 or smaller).  Drizzle some of the dressing over it.  Grill more zucchini.  Layer over the previous layer.  Drizzle with more dressing.  Repeat until all of zucchini is grilled and dressing all drizzled over it.  Then mix gently.

Place in fridge, covered, and allow to marinate.  Keeps for several days.  Alternatively, you may eat it warm and fresh when made, too.

Family “gustar” report: It is not kid-approved at my house but my husband and I devour this stuff!  If your child likes marinated things, like olives and artichokes, this recipe will probably go over great, even with kids.

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Posts in the draft bin:  Ways I “Stay on the Wagon”, Doctors are Pigeon-Holed

Related posts:  Multiple Ways to Use up Zucchini