6 Tips for Taming the Cravings at Holiday Parties

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The holidays can be a wonderful time of quality conversations and laughs with family and friends, but it can also be a time of having to constantly fight the urge to dig into the holiday treats. Or worse yet, avoiding those get-togethers entirely in order to keep away from the treats.

Here are 6 ways to fight those cravings and make your holidays a little more enjoyable:

1. Eat before you go.
If you know there’s going to be some temptations you might later regret, eat a meal before hand so your hunger doesn’t effect your thinking. Even if you’re going to a dinner party, you can have a nice snack with something fatty like a nut butter with apple slices or oil-based dressing and avocado on a salad to curb hunger pangs and help you fill your plate with healthier options when you arrive.

2. Use the two-bite rule.
You don’t want to seem rude or uppity to your host, so unless you have a true allergy or extreme sensitivity go ahead and enjoy a couple bites of that cheesy casserole or sweet bread. You can still still tell the cook how great it tastes without demonstrating it with a huge serving.

3. Start with veggies.
When you’re filling your plate, start with vegetables, move on to protein, and add a small amount of whatever’s left to that little space left on your plate.

4. Bring a healthy dish to share.
If appropriate, bring something you love that you know nourishes your body to share with the group. The host will likely appreciate the contribution and you know you are sure to have something you can feel good about eating.

5. Choose your surroundings.
If you’re chatting with a co-worker by the dessert buffet, you’re going to be more likely to grab a cookie. If you’re sitting at the table in front of the dinner rolls, you will be more likely to nibble on an extra. Position yourself by the veggie tray so if you want a nibble, it will be a healthy one.

6. Be forgiving.
If you slip up and eat that whole slice of cake instead of the couple bites you were planning on, don’t beat yourself up over it. Just take the opportunity to notice how it makes you feel, and allow yourself to enjoy it. And, whatever you do, do not use the slip-up as an excuse to throw your whole diet plan out the window for the night. If you’re gluten-free and you already had that cake, telling yourself, “well I might as well have some of those rolls now too” doesn’t do you any favors.

Overall, try not to focus too much on food. In my opinion, the best part of the holidays is time with the people I love. So, if that means I need to do a bit more planning to make sure I don’t end the day with a stomach ache, it’s worth it.

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Grain-Free, Vegan Berry Scones

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Coming up with grab-and-go foods can be tricky when you’re on a restricted diet. Here’s a recipe I created for grain-free, vegan, honey- and fruit-sweetened scones that are super easy to make:

2 c. almond, hazelnut or pecan flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/8 tsp. salt
2 Tsp melted butter
3 Tsp honey
3 Tsp full-fat coconut milk – I recommend Arroy-D (no guar gum)
1 c. mixed berries

Preheat oven to 350 and place a sheet of parchment paper on a cookie sheet.

Mix dry ingredients in a large bowl and set aside.

Mix honey and butter, add to dry ingredients. Gradually add coconut milk while mixing until just moist. If still dry after adding, gradually add 1 Tsp at a time.

Fold in berries. I used blueberries and raspberries.

Bake until lightly browned – about 18-20 minutes. The batch pictured here using pecan flour I made in my Ninja. Almond flour would give a more traditional (lighter) scone color as well as a more neutral flavor (less nutty).

Set to cool for at least 10 minutes.

Thanksgiving without the Food Hangover (Recipes included!)

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If you are someone who deals with digestive problems on a daily basis, the holidays can be an especially troubling time. Between the planning, shopping, cooking and hopefully some quality family time, who wants to bother with bloating, gas, diarrhea, constipation, etc? One Thanksgiving, I was on a very strict doctor-prescribed diet (everything I was allowed to eat was written on a post-it!), so all day long I only ate two things – but I ate them over and over again, so I still ended up hogging my sister’s bathroom most of the evening. What a disappointment – I had so much self-control and I still ended up sick!

Even if you don’t have a digestive disorder, Thanksgiving can leave you feeling uncomfortably full or afraid to look at the scale the next day. So, in hopes of a happy, healthy, guilt-free Thanksgiving for you and your family I thought I would share some of my favorite holiday recipes I have collected over the years, as well as some tips. Enjoy!

TIPS FOR A FEEL-GOOD THANKSGIVING

Fill your plate with veggies.

  • Make a green salad with a light oil-based but flavorful dressing, adding your favorite toppings like sliced almonds, chopped hazelnuts, apple, pear, avocado or feta cheese.
  • Roast a big pan of your favorite veggies in some butter or coconut oil and sea salt. Make it colorful. For example, mix together broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, red cabbage, and some sweet onion.

Take your time.

  • You may end up in front of a huge buffet of food, but you don’t have to put everything on your plate all at once. Start with your veggies and turkey, add a taste of one or two more things, give yourself some time to digest, then go back for a taste of that casserole you’re dying to try. P.S. “Taste” does not mean plateful.
  • If you are going to someone else’s house for the feast, bring some containers for leftovers. That way, you can take home anything you didn’t get around to trying and the host isn’t left with way too much food lying around the kitchen.

Give yourself permission to enjoy yourself.

  • So maybe you had one more dessert than you really “should” have. Maybe you just couldn’t stop eating those garlic whipped mashed potatoes. Forgive yourself. It’s OK. Take some time to rest with a nice cup of ginger tea and and eat lightly the next day, with lots of fresh veggies.
  • As you saw from my personal example, being too strict can backfire. Just make sure you’re getting your veggies (did I mention that already?) and you’re getting plenty of diversity in what you eat, and enjoy yourself.

TASTY AND HEALTHY THANKSGIVING RECIPES

Sides and Appetizers

Paleo Sweet Potato Muffins

Grain-free Crackers

“Best Ever” Lentil Salad

Raw Kale Salad w/ Apples, Carrots & Red Cabbage

Roasted Brussels Sprouts w/ Bacon

Buttercup Squash Risotto – this is not vegan or gluten-free

Cauliflower Leek Soup

Classic Cranberry Sauce

Gluten-free Gravy

Entrees

Here’s what I do for the turkey: stuff the cavity with lemon, onion and a mix of fresh herbs, then put a bunch of herbed butter (made ahead of time) under the skin all over the turkey, season the outside, then bake. Alton Brown has a brilliant video for roasting the perfect turkey.

Desserts and Drinks

Dairy-free Blueberry Cheesecake Bars

Gluten-free Vegan Nutella Cream Pie

Vegan Paleo Chocolate Chip Cookies

Mandarin Chocolate Truffles

Chocolate Peanut Butter Fudge

Pumpkin Spice Latte

White Hot Chocolate

If that’s all not enough, Recipes to Nourish has 100 MORE gluten-free Thanksgiving recipes!

 

What to Eat When you Have SIBO or IBS

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Healing from SIBO requires a three-pronged approach:

  1. Reduce the amount of bacteria in the gut through herbal or very specific pharmaceutical antibiotics
  2. Maintain the reduced level of unwanted bacteria through diet
  3. Support the gut through pro-kinetics and specific probiotics

Today I’m going to focus on #2 because this is the area of most confusion and, frankly, the most fun. The diets thought to best support the gut during this healing process is are the Gut and Psychology Syndrome Diet (GAPS), the Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SCD), the low-FODMAP diet, or some combination of the three. FODMAP is an acronym for Fermentable, Oligo-, Di-, Mono-saccharides And Polyols. These are short-chain carbohydrates that can be difficult to digest. When you have SIBO it’s important to “keep things moving” because the longer food sits in your intestines, the more likely it is that bacteria will grow. I won’t get into the specifics of each diet here, but all three are similar and it could be argued that each is a variation of the others. Will all the diets, grains, high-carbohydrate vegetables, most legumes and most sweeteners are removed, as well as a host of other odds and ends. You can find the food list for each diet at the links below.

OK, enough of all that. I did say the diet is the fun part, and so far it probably sounds pretty awful, right? Well, never fear. All it takes is a little planning and the willingness to try some new recipes and you’re good to go. The most important thing to do in making sure that you follow the diet strictly is to always have something on hand that you can eat. You don’t want to find yourself suddenly starving with nothing “legal” available. So, always always always carry food with you. Here are some examples of things I carry with me when I leave the house:

  • Veggie sticks – carrots, cucumbers, peppers, etc
  • Homemade beef jerky – experiment with various seasonings and marinades
  • Muffins – made with almond flour and/or coconut flour
  • Fruit – blueberries, strawberries, grapes, etc
  • Nuts – almonds, hazelnuts, pecans, etc
  • Seeds – pumpkin seeds or sunflower seeds

Meals are mostly going to be meat and veggies. Here are some of my favorite SIBO-healing meals:

Breakfast

  • Leftover veggies in a scramble with grated cheese
  • Carrots, broccoli and greens with bulk pork sausage
  • Muffins with almond butter
  • Squash pancakes

Dinner (lunch is usually leftovers)

  • Steak, roasted veggie medley, braised greens
  • Herbed turkey burgers (no bun) topped with bacon and a slice of cheese, steamed broccoli with butter and slivered almonds
  • Ground beef and tomato stuffed peppers, lentils and bacon
  • Stew of Italian sausage, lentils, kale and butternut squash
  • Roasted chicken with acorn squash and beet-topped salad
  • Chicken thighs marinated in orange juice and coconut aminos, collards with bacon, honey’d carrots

Dessert

  • Strawberry or blueberry muffins
  • Banana with almond butter
  • Melon slices
  • Handful of grapes or berries

So, there you have it. Delicious, right? If you would like help coming up with more meal ideas, want to know how to make all this a reality, or just aren’t sure where to start, please feel free to contact me.

Questions or comments? Please click here!

What is SIBO?

gut-bacteriaThere’s a lot of talk these days about the gut microbiome and ‘good bugs’ and ‘bad bugs’ kind of duking it out over who gets to rule your gut. While I agree that a healthy gut is key to avoiding many major diseases, I tend to think the good vs bad bacteria argument is over-simplified. I would argue that a very small percentage of gut bacteria is inherently bad for us. Most illness or inflammation in the gut comes from a lack of balance of these bacteria. One problem that results from this lack of balance is SIBO.

SIBO (Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth) is a result of bacteria that is beneficial and needed in the colon migrating or overflowing into the small intestine. Symptoms are similar to IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome), and my guess is that a lot of people with an IBS diagnosis really has SIBO. IBS is more of a list of symptoms, while SIBO is getting at the ‘why’ of the symptoms. Some of the symptoms associated with SIBO include:

  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea
  • Bloating
  • Gas
  • Cramping
  • Heartburn
  • Joint pain
  • Headache
  • Fatigue
  • Environmental allergies
  • Food sensitivities
  • Itching and rashes

SIBO is diagnosed with a breath test in which you drink a fructose solution that gets the bugs in your gut actively feeding then breath into a tube every 20 minutes for 3 hours. Your breath is then tested for gases that area expelled by the bacteria. You’re basically flowing a billion little farts (out your mouth) into the tube. If what results has a high enough concentration of methane and/or hydrogen, you have SIBO.

Here we go!…And here we go again

sick-figureWelcome to my first blog post!

Here you will find a variety of information on dietary options, reviews of books on topics related to natural health, trails to explore in the Pacific Northwest, and a variety of potentially irrational musings. But, in the next few months, if you choose to follow this blog you will likely hear an awful lot about SIBO. As I was just recently diagnosed with SIBO…again, that is what is mostly going to be on my mind and the treatment thereof will be much of what occupies my time and efforts. If you are unfamiliar with SIBO (or Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth), fear not – much more to come on that in the coming weeks. In the meantime, just know that if you are someone who has:

  • digestive issues
  • fatigue
  • restless sleep
  • unwanted weight gain or loss
  • general interest in seeking optimum health

…then I am here for you!

If you have specific inquiries please feel free to ask in the comments below, or if you would like for more private communication (I know these things can sometimes be embarrassing), feel free to contact me here.