Categories
Health

Diet Changes For Health | Why I’m No Longer Dairy Free

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It’s been a busy couple weeks on my end, so I dearly apologize for being missing in action this past little bit. From creating The Humble Kitchen’s Gourmet Sea Salts, to going to markets, and trying to have a life outside of work – things got a little bit crazy.

But I’m back now!

So sit on down ladies and gents’ and get ready to hold onto your seats because I’m about to tell you through a rather shocking  turn of events that took me from severe food sensitivites to healed skin and no longer avoiding or reacting to dairy at all!

(I always knew I’d be back for you, icecream)

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While I was on the elimination diet, my skin was better than it had been in a long time. You can read the whole story here, but to save you some time I eventually discovered dairy was my skins #1 enemy (or so I thought). I avoided dairy like the plague and went on with my life. For several weeks I was doing alright, but all too quickly I noticed the familiar redness creeping up -accompanied by tiny bubbles under my skin. My eczema had come back (albeit much more manageable than before) no matter how diligent I was with my dairy-free diet.

With my increasingly bubbling skin arose a crippling fear of what I once loved dearly – food. I was afraid of any food I didn’t make. Every restaurant dish felt like a game of roulette, and every meal my family members made was accompanied by 1000 questions before I was assured enough to eat.

This went on for several weeks, but eventually this summer at a family gathering (surrounded by food I was once again afraid to eat) -enough was finally enough. I was sick of being sick, and sick of being afraid of food. Armed with my emergency steroid cream – I binged, and indulged in everything from creamy pasta, to brownies and of course ice cream.

Needless to say: My sweet tooth was happy, but my hands were not.

Days later, still armed with my emergency steroid cream and even more resentful towards my restricting diet, I decided to make a radical switch in my diet and dive head first into the world of Keto.

I had heard that a ketogenic diet can help reduce and manage inflammation –exactly the culprit  I suspected behind this deceiving disease. I figured that this could be the key to healing myself once and for all or at the very least I would enjoy food and dairy once again, even for a little bit.

A Ketogenic Diet is high in fat, moderate protein and very low in carbohydrates.  An entire blog dedicated to this diet is coming soon, but for now, let’s continue. 

Terrified, but determined I jumped into a diet filled with my suspected eczema causing culprit and I emerged… better than ever before.

Not only did my eczema disappear but my acne cleared up, my nails grew stronger, my energy levels increased, my tummy has settled and even handles the inevitable (occasional) binges that occur with ease -which means minimal if any flaring, bubbling, itchy skin!

The best part?

I no longer live in fear about whats in my food, and can once again go back to enjoying meals and cooking the way I once did before! So don on your apron, try your hand at some culinary sea salts, and meet me in the kitchen for even more fantastic, tummy happy recipes coming your way!

Health & Happiness,

Savannah

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While the Elimination Diet didn’t yeild lasting results for me, doesn’t mean the diet is no good. Nor does it mean that Keto is the only diet to be on for eczema. On the contrary – everybody and every body is different. Our needs, stories, and journey to good health is ours alone. So take this life and explore, experiment, and never settle in both life and health. 

Lastly, remember I am not an expert in these fields.  I have based my writings upon my own experiences, opinions, beliefs and extensive research. See my full disclaimer, and always consult a health care professional for medical and health advice.

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Categories
Health

Simple Elimination Diet for Eczema, IBS, and Food Sensitivities

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An elimination diet is a short term diet used to determine foods that trigger inflammation within the body. Inflammation in the body contributes to many health problems such as autoimmune arthritis, acne, irritable bowel syndrome, and eczema -just to name a few!

Our gut houses 70% of our immune system, so the first step to a healthy body is a healthy gut. Worsening symptoms, flare-ups or developing sudden food sensitivities is a loud and clear indicator that something’s not quite right and should be taken seriously. Going on an elimination diet gives your gut a much needed break; giving your body time to heal and providing sweet relief from all the inflammation induced symptoms.

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First thing first, it’s extremely important to note that food allergies and sensitivities are different. Many people are unaware of this, which likely plays a large part in the confusion that arises from the diet-inflammation link.

If a food allergy test comes back negative, people presume that food isn’t connected to their symptoms. In reality, you don’t have to be allergic to react to trigger foods.

Say that again. You don’t have to be allergic to react to trigger foods.

No allergy test in the world will pick up on a food sensitivity, so by far the most effective way to manage symptoms and take health back into your own hands is by completing an elimination diet to figure out your trigger foods. The best part? You can do it all in roughly 30 days!

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There are literally thousands of elimination diets that can be found all over the web, each with their own set of rules and guidelines. The more restrictive the diet -the better as you are more likely to discover hidden food sensitivities.

Unfortunately, I like food too much to go on an even more restrictive diet than the basic one outlined below. Instead, we combat an even more restrictive diet by keeping a food diary to monitor any adverse reactions to food not on our ‘no-no’ list.

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Take notice of everything going on within your body, particularily anything that indicates a poor state of health. This includes skin issues like rashes, digestive issues like bloating or constipation, and any moodiness or lethargy.

Write it all down, no matter how minor. This way, 30 days later you can reflect and notice any changes that happened in your health.

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Once again, this is only a BASIC elimination diet. Here we will eliminate the top triggers, as well as refined sugar and alcohol. These are:

  • Dairy
  • Eggs
  • Tree nuts & Peanuts
  • Soy
  • Shellfish
  • Wheat & Gluten
  • Fast Food & Refined Sugars
  • Alcohol

Scary, I know.

It’s important to note that while these are the top triggers, everyone is different. There are reports of people reacting to anything from nightshades to herbal tea, thus it is important to keep up a food diary even when doing an elimination diet and proceed to remove any foods that you suspect are still triggering reactions.

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Your gut contains both good and bad bacteria. Maintaining a good balance between the two is essential for gut health. Alcohol and sugar can promote the growth of bad bacteria and yeast which in turn leads to inflammation, autoimmune disorders, and the very symptoms we wish to avoid.

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Why 23 days? Hold on, it’s about to get sciency in here:

Antibodies are protein molecules made by the immune system. They are produced to counteract antigens which are toxins, foreign or harmless substances that induce an immune response. The lifespan of these antibodies is roughly 23 days, hence the 23-day guideline.

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Once at least 23 days are over (I go for 30), you can gradually re-introduce the troublesome foods one at a time and see if you react. This process is not to be rushed, (no matter how much you miss bread…I know, I’ve been there too.). This step is done over several days and is vital for accurately determining any food sensitivities.

So how do you do it?

On the 24th day (or the 31st day, if you’re gung-ho) you would introduce one food group.

We’ll start with dairy.

Maybe on the 24th day, we’ll drink a glass of milk and eat some slices of cheese throughout the day. This is not the time to dig into pizza or anything else that has multiple triggers, or that could get confusing! Eat a serving or two of dairy throughout the day (along with your healthy, safe foods -of course) but keep avoiding the other triggers.

Monitor your reactions -if any, for 2 days. During those two days, you’ll go back to avoiding all trigger foods.

If you had no adverse reaction over those two days,  you could safely add dairy back into your diet. Then you would move onto the next food group, repeating the same process, testing one trigger group for one day and gauging the reaction over the next two until you’ve went through all your eliminated food groups.

If you do react, then you’ve likely located a food sensitivity.  Measures should be taken avoid the troublesome food and seek out alternative options for that food group to ensure you continue getting all your essential vitamins and nutrients.

 

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While the list may seem scary, the basic elimination diet still provides a wide variety of foods that can be enjoyed.

You are free to enjoy all types of meat, vegetables, fruits, and gluten-free grains like quinoa and rice. That still leaves a whole lot of dishes to be made! Here’s just a few ideas, let me know in the comments if you’ve got a good one to share!

 Breakfast

Lunch

  • Any kind of salad your heart desires! Try it with grilled chicken and dairy-free dressing.
  • Cowboy Up Salad
  • Grilled Chicken Lettuce Wraps

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Dinner

Dessert & Sweeteners

Snacks

Remember, if you find yourself reacting to any foods that are not on the elimination list start avoiding them too. This is a diet tailored to you, and you will do best with it once you start giving yourself the attention and love you deserve.

While the elimination diet may be restrictive, you don’t need to count calories, micronutrients or whatever else the fad is nowadays when it comes to dieting. On the elimination diet, you’ll heal your tummy, see a significant improvement in your symptoms, and even drop a few pounds (but that last part is just a bonus!).

No matter what you choose to eat, you will be successful if you follow these three simple principles. Eat real food -mostly plants, avoid all your trigger foods, and (my favorite) always eat when you’re hungry!

Health & Happiness,

Savannah

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Categories
DIY Health

How To Keep A Food Diary for Food Sensitivities

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Over two thousand years ago Hippocrates, the father of medicine said “All disease begins in the gut”. While claiming that all disease begins in the gut is a bit of a stretch, we can certainly appreciate the gut-heath connection. After all, 70% of our immune system is located in our gastrointestinal tract.

Though often used for weight loss, food diaries can be an extremely beneficial and often overlooked tool for eczema (as well as IBS, and leaky gut syndrome -just to name a few). A food diary is often accompianed by an elimination diet, however it’s up to you whether you decide to cut out the main culprits for a basic elimination diet or whether you push through and start avoiding food based on your reactions.

That being said, most food sensitivities are a result of an unhealthy gut. Giving your tummy a break (for 23-30 days) from refined sugary foods and major triggers can go a long way to helping repair your gut!

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  • Keep you accountable – Especially when on an elimination diet. Bye bye sneaking delicous off limit foods and devouring chocolate. See: I’ve Made A Terrible Mistake.
  • Give you a hard copy of your symptoms – So you can do some detective work and figure out your food culprit(s).
  • Moniter heath – Stress, mood, and good ol’ #2.

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Pick up any old notebook and a pen. Ideally, the notebook will be on the small side and will fit comfortably in a coat pocket or purse – You want to bring this thing everywhere. As with anything in life, the more thorough you are -the better.

Start by taking note of everything going on with your body: Rashes, nausea, bloating, itchy-ness, energy level, fogginess -you name it. Write it down. This will give you something to refer back to.

Write down everything you eat and drink: Every bite, every sip, ingredients, even condiments. Don’t disregard a food or drink just because you thought it was a small amount, even a little bit could cause a reaction.

Write down what time you ate and what time symptoms appear: Food intolerances and sensitivities can be tricky;  in most cases symptoms don’t appear until several hours later. When they do show up, rate the severity of your symptoms from 1-10. One being slight irritation and ten being unbearable.

Your food diary will remember everything, so you don’t have to. This will make it far easier to make connections between symptoms and culprit foods versus depending on memory alone.

Write down #2: Yup, good ol number two. Although an awkward subject to talk about, there’s no better way to track how your body is handling food on the inside than by noticing what comes out on …the outside. Rate the bowel movement from 1 to 10. One being normal and ten being severe constipation or diarrhea. Check out Wellness Mama’s Guide to Poop and Digestive Health.

To keep snoops from reading about my bodily functions (since I carry it everywhere), I simply write 2 __ and whatever the rating was. Sneaky, sneaky.

For an extra measure: Make a note whenever you are particularly stressed and how you felt throughout the day.

Overtime, you’ll start to notice patterns emerging. You’ll learn what foods make you feel good, and what food makes you feel bad.

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While you can continue on your merry way with the food diary, I strongly believe that this entire process is incomplete without an elimination diet.

Here is a very basic elimination diet process: 

Ideally, you would begin by eliminating the top triggers, as well as refined sugar and alcohol. These are:

  • Dairy
  • Eggs
  • Tree nuts & Peanuts
  • Soy
  • Shellfish
  • Wheat & Gluten
  • Fast Food & Refined Sugars
  • Alcohol

Scary, I know.

It’s important to note that while these are the top triggers, everyone is different. There are reports of people reacting to anything from nightshades to herbal tea, thus it is important to keep up a food diary even when doing an elimination diet.

If that list terrifies you: Keep a detailed food diary for a couple weeks, then use your mad detective skills to figure out what foods make you feel good and which ones worsen your symptoms. Avoid all the feel bad foods. Note: Efforts should still be made to avoid alcohol and refined sugars even if you don’t react to them as sugar helps yeast and bad bacteria in your gut thrive.

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Why 23 days? Hold on, it’s about to get sciency in here:

Antibodies are protein molecules made by the immune system. They are produced to counteract antigens which are toxins, foreign or harmless substances that induce an immune response. The lifespan for these antibodies is roughly 23 days, hence the 23 day guideline.

Once at least 23 days are over (I go for 30), you can gradually re-introduce the troublesome foods one at a time and see if you react.

For example: If you were avoiding dairy, gluten, and nuts then on the 24th day you would introduce one food group.

We’ll start with dairy.

Maybe on the 24th day we’ll drink a glass of milk and eat some slices of cheese throughout the day. This is not the time to dig into pizza or anything else that has multiple triggers, or that could get confusing! Eat a serving or two of dairy throughout the day (along with your healthy, safe foods -of course) but keep avoiding the other triggers.

Moniter your reactions -if any, for 2 days.

During those two days, you’ll go back to avoiding all trigger foods. If you had no adverse reaction over those two days,  you could safely add dairy back into your diet. Then you would move onto the next food group, repeating the same process, testing one trigger group for one day and gauging the reaction over the next two.

If you do react, then you’ve likely located a food intolerance or allergy and measures should be taken to seek out alterantive options or sources for that food group to ensure you continue getting all your essential vitamins and nutrients. A nutritionist will be able to help.

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Keeping a food diary may seem like a lot of work, but it quickly becomes a powerful tool for proactively managing your eczema (IBS, leaky gut, or whatever else it may be), and preventing nasty flare-ups or symptoms. When combined with an elimination diet, many people go back to eating the foods they once loved without any adverse reactions after healing their gut (ice cream, I’m coming for you!).

Whether you choose to create a food diary or not, I hope you find health at the end of the road.

Health & Happiness,

Savannah 

P.S I just want to let you know that I am not a medical doctor, nurse, and so on. I have based my writings upon my own experiences, opinions, and extensive research regarding the topics in my blog. Therefore, read my disclaimer and use the information within my blog appropriately and at your own risk 

 

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Categories
Health

I’ve Made A Terrible Mistake

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One slip up. One lapse of judgment. One terrible mistake set me back at least two weeks of healing. It’s crushing, but I know that there isn’t anyone to blame but myself. For over a month I was a good girl… refusing dairy, choosing fruits over chocolate, and water over alcohol. My hands were on the mend and nearly back to normal.

Two days ago, I caved.

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I’ve been having major cravings for chocolate for a good week and no matter how much I tried, whether it was eating delicately sweet pears to making Pinch of Yum’s chocolate banana ice cream….the craving was never satisfied. My sweet tooth was stubborn…I thought I was too.

Two days ago, everything came crashing down. The chocolate craving was more persistant than ever and I was fighting a losing battle. That night we had a bunch of friends over for games which included snacks, chips, and…chocolate. With my willpower long gone, I ate the delicous sweet goodness that’s been haunting my dreams. It was heavenly guys, I can’t even pretend like it wasn’t.

I ate probably close to 20 mini eggs (…is that a lot?) and with my sweet tooth finally quiet, the chocolate was once again pushed aside and forgotten.

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Mere hours later, my hands exploded in a red, itchy fury.

This morning they are still itchy. Along with the itching came peeling skin and  small fluid filled sacs just ready to ooze. Perhaps worst of all, around the inflammation my skin looks as if it is literally bubbling. This is known as “ant’s nest” or pompholox eczema. Read more about it here from Dr. Trevor Erikson.

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While this whole ordeal is a bit soul-crushing, it seems as though it was a necessary evil. It’s re-opened my eyes. If I’m going to conquer eczema once and for all I’m gonna have to really buckle down. It’s time to start a food diary, an elimination diet….and throw out all the chocolate in the house!

If you ever stumble, just know I’ve been there too -and I’m right here to help you back up again.

Health & Happiness,

Savannah

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Categories
Health

The Truth About Homemade Detox Water

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Water: the bland, tasteless, colourless blood of life. It’s an essential part of our world, our bodies, and our health -so why do we resent it so much? A study done in 1998 found that 75% of Americans are chronically dehydrated, contributing to health issues such as obesity, kidney stones, ulcers, and fatigue to name a few. (Click here to see the full study).

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The trend of detox water has been on the rise, but can chopping up some fruit with our water really flush fat and toxins out of our system?

Not exactly.

While leaps and bounds more beneficial than some of the other detox solutions out there (like those sketchy packaged kits in the dollar store none the less!), adding fruit or vegetables to water has shown little to no effect on the body.

The real benefit of drinking ‘detox’ water is actually just the simple fact that you are drinking more water, helping the body carry out it’s essential and natural processes . 

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Clean water plays several important roles within our bodies such as flushing out waste and bacteria, regulating temperature, and serving as a transport system for nutrients. Drinking enough water (detox or not) will naturally help shed the pounds, flush out toxins, make your skin glow, and improve cognitave functioning.

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Everyone knows the basic guideline for how much water to drink, eight 8-ounce glasses of water a day. While the 8×8 rule is easy to remember, it’s not a hard and fast rule. A majority of us are dehydrated despite drinking the recommended eight glasses!

How much water we actually need depends on several factors such as our weight, activity level, climate, if we are already eating a healthy diet with foods containing a high water content (fruits, vegetables, etc), and whether we are pregnant or not!

P.S. Got a bun in the oven? Check out this article on Dehydration During Pregnancy for an in-depth look at symptoms, causes, and the proper amount of water to drink.

A very basic formula is to take your weight and divide it by 2, this will give you how many ounces you should consume. Then add 12 ounces for every half an hour of exercise.

For example: A healthy individual weighing 140 pounds who works out for half an hour a day will actually need 10 and a quarter glasses of water!

140lbs divided by 2 = 70 ounces

70 + 12 = 82 ounces

82 divided by 8 = 10.25 cups

If this individual was pregnant or lived in a hot climate they would likely need even more. If they consumed a lot of fruits or vegetables throughout the day, they would likely need less. See a more in-depth explanation here.

By far, the most reliable way to know if you’re getting enough is by checking the color of your urine. A clear or pale yellow indicates you are adequately hydrated, anything darker and you’ll need to up your water consumption.

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While simply adding fruit or vegetables to water has minimal effect on our body, the simple act of drinking more water contributes to our overall health and well being. If adding fruit or vegetables makes bland water taste yummy and makes us drink more -then all the better!

Want to give your water some extra love? Try out these recipes:

Whether you choose to flavor your water or not, know you can’t go wrong as long as you’re getting enough!

Health & Happiness, 

Savannah

I just want to let you know that I am not a medical doctor, nurse, and so on. I have based my writings upon my own experiences, opinions, and extensive research regarding the topics in my blog. Therefore, read my disclaimer and use the information within my blog appropriately and at your own risk.

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Categories
Recipes

No Bake. No Fuss. Customizable Energy Bites

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To this day, I still play with my food. Throwing caution to the wind, tossing in whatever ingredients I feel like, all while doing that inner two-year-old dance (you know the one where you just kind of awkwardly bouncing up and down….) to whatever song catches my mood at the time.

I think that’s why I’m so excited about this recipe!  You can completely customize these energy bites to please your taste buds all without strict measurements and directions. Heck, don’t even use a measuring cup if you don’t want to. This can sound scary I know, but trust me when I say: You cannot fail. These little energy bites got your back, so go on -play with your food (I won’t tell). Throw caution to the wind, turn up some feel-good music, and dance like your inner two year old wants you to!

Time: 10 minutes

Yeilds: Approximately 20 1″ energy bites. This will vary depending on how many ingredients are used and if you can keep from stealing a few bites right out of the bowl!

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This is going to be the foundation for the energy bites done your way. All you’ll need is:

Start by melting the honey by putting it in the microwave for 10 seconds at a time until it becomes slightly runny and easier to stir.

Combine the oats and melted honey together in a large bowl.

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Here is a list of possibilities for your bare energy bites. I’ve included rough measurements as a guideline only. Add as many or as few, as much or as little as you want. Listen to your heart (and tummy), you do you. Here we go:

  • Shredded coconut (1/2 cup)
  • Ground cinnamon (1/2 teaspoon)
  • Pumpkin seeds (1/4 cup)
  • Sunflower seeds (1/4 cup)
  • Ground flax seeds (1 tablespoon)
  • Chai seed (1 tablespoon)
  • Dates, chopped (2 tablespoons)
  • Peanuts, chopped (1/4 cup, I used unsalted)
  • Raisins (2 tablespoons, chop them if you’re picky like me)
  • Crasins (2 tablespoons, chop them if you’re picky like me)
  • Peanut Butter (1/4 cup)
  • Almond Butter (1/4 cup)
  • Mini chocolate chips (2 tablespoons)
  • Cocoa powder (1/4 cup)
  • Vanilla extract (1 teaspoon)

Combine all your desired ingredients in with the pre-mixed honey and oats.

If your mixture is too wet add more rolled oats slowly, stirring as you go until the mixture starts thickening up and the mixture begins holding it’s shape.

If your mixture is too dry, add either more melted honey, peanut butter, or almond butter -depending on what you want your bites to predominately taste like. Do this slowly stirring as you go, until the mixture starts thickening up and the mixture begins to hold it’s shape.

Once you’re all done playing with different ingredients, begin rolling the mixture into 1″ balls (it’s okay if you sneak a few bites. I won’t tell) Then pull out a large, air tight container to store your bites in. Place a layer of parchment paper on the bottom of the container and between each layer of energy bites.

Seal and store in the fridge for up to three weeks.

See? Nothing to it!

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(Lion King anyone?…No? *goes back to awkward dancing*)

So if you wanna make these bites like I did, start by putting Get outta my dreams, get into my car by Billy Ocean on repeat. Immediately screw up by not melting the honey first. Continue anyway.

  • 1/2 cup of shredded coconut
  • 1/4 cup of pumpkin seeds
  • 1/2 cup of peanut butter
  • 1/4 cup of sunflower seeds
  • 2 tablespoons of chopped raisins
  • 2 tablespoons of chopped peanuts
  • 1 tablespoon of ground flax seeds

Combine both the oats and the honey in a large metal bowl. Realize you should have melted the honey beforehand as now its unstirable. Proceed by turning the oven to 200 degrees Fahrenheit and placing the bowl inside for 1-2 minutes to actually melt it. Be sure to continue to monitor it, you aren’t trying to ‘cook’ the oats. See? Mistake right out of the gate and it still was unfailable. (You got this)

Act like nothing happened and get back to stirring the honey and oats together.

Carefully chop peanuts and raisins. Add the chopped peanuts, raisins, shredded coconut, pumpkin seeds, and flax seeds. While stirring, notice the mixture is too dry and get the brilliant idea to add peanut butter (I LOVE peanut butter. How did I almost forget the peanut butter?).

Stir in peanut butter then taste test the mixture. Awkward dance in celebration.

Roll the mixture into 1″ balls (or get carried away and eat half of it). Store the rest in a parchment lined, airtight container in the fridge. Eat whenever you open the fridge aimlessly.

So there we have it! Simple, customizable, never fail, energy bites to grab now or on the go. I hope you thoroughly enjoyed the recipe, my blunders, and my awkward dancing. 

Health & Happiness, 

Savannah

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Categories
DIY Health

3 Itch Busting Eczema Bath Recipes

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There is nothing I love more than sinking into a nice warm bath after a long, hard day. Something about the heat and the water seems to just melt all your stresses away (and the wine, the wine helps too).

Since developing eczema I’ve been told that if I want to enjoy my precious baths, that the recommended bath time is 5-10 minutes. However, through sheer determination and perhaps a shred of pigheadedness I’ve seen to it that a warm bath is never wasted.

So if you’re a bath lover like me, here are three bath recipes for you to enjoy that will soothe the itch – guilt and timer free!

 

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Oatmeal for skin care use has been documented as far back to 2000BC and still continues to this day. With anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, an oatmeal bath is perfect for people with sensitive skin or skin disorders.

  • 3/4 cup of raw, unflavored oats
  • grinder (optional)
  • muslin bag or a pair of pantyhose (optional)

Follow along, it’s simple!

You’ve got two options for making this milky, soothing bath.

1. Grind the oats up into a fine powder, this will ensure the oats will dissolve completely rather than sinking to the bottom. Test that the oats are fine enough by taking a tablespoon and stirring it into a bowl of warm water. If the oatmeal dissolves without much effort and the water turns a milky color – you’re good to go!

2. Put whole oats into a muslin bag or a pair of unwanted pantyhose. Essentially, this will act much like a tea bag – infusing the water with its wholesome goodness. Squeeze the bag often for faster infusion. Muslin bags are much cleaner method than the ground oats, as all the oats stay contained.

Pour the ground oats or place the bag in the bath while it’s filling at a comfortable temperature. Then sit back, relax, and let those worries and itches melt away!

 

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Salt baths are known for their wide variety of benefits.

From pain relief to antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties, its no wonder that salt baths have been praised for ages. Try 1/2 a cup for a simple relaxing bath or up the salt concentration to promote healing of eczema and other ailments.

or

  • 1 – 2 cups of Epsom salts

Pour in the salt while the bath is running, light that candle, grab a glass of wine and let the minerals do their thing!

Sea Salt vs. Epsom Salt vs Table Salt

The options are relatively endless when it comes to what kind of salt to bathe in. Natural, unprocessed sea salts are the most renowned, as they contain trace minerals such as magnesium, calcium chloride, potassium, and bromides; all of which are absorbed through the skin during your bath. Magnesium binds water to the skin, promoting skin cell growth and permeability. Calcium increases circulation and strengthens bones and nails. Potassium balances skin moisture and is a vital mineral to replace after intense exercise, and bromides ease and relax stiff muscles.

Not sure which to try?

  • Dead Sea Salt – perhaps the most famous bathing salt. A white salt only found in a saline lake located 400 meters below sea level; claims to be richer in minerals than other sea salts.
  • Sel Gris Sea Salt – an unprocessed grey sea salt hand harvested off the coast of France.
  • Alaea Sea Salt – an unprocessed Hawaiian reddish-brown salt enriched with volcanic clay.
  • Himalayan Pink Sea Salt – ancient sea salt found in the mountains of northern Pakistan, this pink salt made its mark on the world while boasting 84 trace minerals.

Epsom salts claim the same health benefits of natural sea salt and can be a handy alternative if you do not have easy access to large amounts of sea salt. Epsom salt is high in magnesium and sulfates, with magnesium aiding in skin cell growth and sulfates being essential for the production of collagen (which maintains healthy skin, hair, and nails) and plays an important role for forming proteins in the joints.

  • Try plain epsom salts, rather than the ones laced with fragrances which could further irritate your skin.

Table salt should be avoided as it is heavily processed. Minerals are removed until it is pure sodium chloride and then an additive is added to prevent clumping. The benefits to bathing in table salt are slim, as opposed to sea salt and epsom salt -so do your skin a favor and go for the good stuff.

A word of warning: Avoid when pregnant. Avoid sea salt baths and if you have hypertension or respiratory conditions. Open wounds may cause stinging and minor discomfort.  Salt baths can be demanding on your circulatory system, consult your doctor if you suffer from weak or poor heart circulation.

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With honey’s antibacterial properties as well as coconut’s punch with vitamins C and E; honey and coconut form the power duo your skin will be thankful for!

Vitamin C plays a vital role in collagen synthesis (the protein needed for healthy skin, nails, and hair) as well as potentially helping treat and prevent ultraviolet (UV) damage. Vitamin E is an excellent antioxidant that cannot be produced by the body. These powerful antioxidants help neutralize free radicals and prevent cellular damage.

  • 1 1/2 cups of coconut milk*
  • 2 tablespoons of honey
  • 2 tablespoons of coconut oil

Mix the honey, coconut oil and coconut milk together in a bowl. Placing the mixture in the microwave for 10 seconds will help soften the honey and allow it to mix and dissolve easier.

Pour the mixture into a running bath, then grab your pina colada smoothie (or perhaps something a bit…harder), sink on down and enjoy!

*Milk may be used as a substitute for coconut milk

 

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  • 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil or coconut oil
  • 5-10 drops of essential oils such as lavender, chamomile, rose, or sandalwood*
  • 4-5 tablespoons of baking soda*

*Essential oils may cause skin irritation, especially if you are sensitive to salicylates.  Pregnant women as well as those with diabetes or high blood pressure should consult a doctor before adding essential oils or baking soda to bath water.

So there we have it: three itch busting baths guaranteed to satisfy any bath lover! Be sure to end every bath with a good moisturizer like this DIY Eczema Body Butter and then climb into your favorite fuzzy pajamas – you’ve earned it.

Health & Happiness

Savannah

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Categories
Health

What is Eczema?

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Before we get started I just want to let you know that I am not a medical doctor, nurse, and so on. I have based my writings on my own experiences, opinions, and extensive research. Therefore, read my disclaimer and use the information within my blog appropriately and at your own risk.

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Eczema is referred to as atopic dermatitis. Atopic refers to a  group of diseases with a tendency to develop other allergic conditions, like asthma or hay fever. Dermatitis means inflammation of the skin. Atopic dermatitis is not contagious, but rather is typically inherited and found in families with a history of asthma and allergies.

Eczema is an inflammatory disease which causes the skin to become inflamed or irritated, and is commonly described as the “rash that itches”. While some reactions can be triggered by touching an irritant, (this is known as contact dermatitis which is slightly different from atopic dermatitis), most reactions are triggered from within. Read that again. Say it with me. Most reactions are triggered from within.

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When you have eczema, the skin barrier does not function normally. It becomes too thin, resulting in wet looking, “weepy skin”. Skin becomes abnormally dry and sensitive as your natural moisturizing oils are carried away. Defects in the skin barrier can allow allergens such as pollen, mold, dust mites and bacteria to enter the body. This contributes to flare-ups and immune responses, such as allergic reactions.

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Beginning characteristics of eczema include itchy skin, redness (inflammation), and often tiny fluid-filled blisters (vesicles) that can weep and ooze.  If untreated crusted, thickened plaques of skin begin to form over the affected area. To an eczema sufferer’s despair, that thickened skin forms only to break open itch, ooze and become inflamed once again.

So begins the endless cycle of itch, ooze, crust.

While eczema can show up anywhere, it most commonly appears on the face, back of the knees, wrists, hands, or feet.

Above: I apologize for not having graphic pictures of my severe eczema, I tried to avoid it. As of now, my hands are on the mend and nearly back to normal. Note the cracks below my index finger -cracks like this used to extend to the middle of my palm. For a graphic mental picture the palm of my hand started as inflamed red itchy skin, thickened skin began to form, painful cracks resulted from moving my hands. Itch, ooze, crust.

Note also: The rough looking skin along my fingers, most predominantly on my pinky and middle finger. This was also where inflamed, itchy skin lived.

Itch, ooze, crust. Rinse and Repeat.

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Although eczema can occur at any age, it is most commonly found in babies, with more than half of all eczema sufferers showing symptoms before their first birthday. Eczema is seen as a disease that children will “grow out of” with roughly 74% of affected children becoming eczema free by sixteen years old. There is no guarantee that children will outgrow their eczema, and unfortunately, if it continues then it is said the symptoms will continue on and off throughout life.

Approximately 3% percent of adults will have moderate to severe eczema in their lifetime.

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The exact cause of eczema is unknown, but it is suggested to be linked to an overactive response by the body’s immune system to an irritant. Irritants can vary from each individual, from food allergies to harsh chemicals (whether it be in cleaning products or soaps and shampoos). The reaction to harsh chemicals is likely contact dermatitis, with the reaction (more often than not) stopping once contact with the chemical is avoided. However harsh chemicals are no help for atopic dermatitis sufferers, and can further aggravate existing eczema by soaking into cuts and weakened layers of the skin so thus should be avoided as well.

Leaky gut syndrome may also be a factor, which is a condition where the digestive tract is damaged. This creates holes in the gut lining allowing undigested food particles, bad bacteria, or other toxins to seep into your bloodstream causing an immune reaction.

In summary, your immune system reacts as if it’s under attack and attempts to defend itself by releasing antibodies and inflammation.

While there are many, the most common triggers for this include:

  • Dairy
  • Wheat (and other gluten-containing grains)
  • Eggs
  • Nuts
  • Shellfish
  • Soy
  • Sulfites
  • Salicylates

A Note About Stress Stress is commonly considered a factor or trigger when it comes to eczema. However, it is unlikely the stress itself causing the reaction, but rather the result of your already overactive immune system being weakened with high levels of stress. Although it is impossible to remove stress completely from your life, measures should be taken to lower stress levels in order to help your immune system remain healthy and strong.

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In the medical world today, the most common ‘cure’ for eczema include topical creams ranging from over the counter products containing hydrocortisone to prescription creams and ointments containing corticosteroids.

Hydrocortisone is a mild steroid. Corticosteroids are a class of steroid hormones ranging from 2% all the way to 600% more potent than hydrocortisone, depending on the type of cream prescribed. The stronger the potency, the better effect it has on inflammation and the greater risk of side effects with continued use.

The bottom line when it comes to the topical creams is that they never treat the root cause – only the symptoms. Each steroid ‘treats’ your eczema by preventing the production of chemicals that cause inflammation, as well as suppressing the immune system by affecting how the white blood cells work. While your skin may look better for the time being, steroids are not to be used long term.

Thus when removed from steroids, the affected skin tends to “flare up” and appear worse than ever as the body’s natural response is no longer suppressed. As the vicious cycle goes, eczema suffers can be stuck with steroid usage for years. Always moving to stronger and stronger steroids when the body naturally flares up once the duration of the prescribed steroid inevitably ends.

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It is important to remember that eczema is an inflammatory disease, with most reactions coming from within. Your immune system is attacking a (usually harmless) substance which can indicate a food intolerance or allergy. The most effective way to cure your eczema is to start an elimination diet. This is a short-term diet that eliminates certain foods which may be causing allergic reactions or digestive issues and then gradually introducing the foods one at a time to discover what your body does -and doesn’t tolerate.

There are millions of elimination diets all over the web, however, the one I stand by and have been following is a book called ‘The Eczema Diet’ by Karen Fisher. She is a wealth of information, and I’m sure you will find her knowledge the greatest asset for getting rid of eczema once and for all.

No matter which route you choose, may you find health and happiness at the end of the road.

Health & Happiness,

Savannah

 

 

 

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Categories
Health

How To Eat At Friends And Loved Ones Homes With Dietary Restrictions

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It’s amazing how a gathering that’s supposed to bring so much joy and laughter can become such a challenging and awkward situation. Being lactose intolerant (and with dairy being my number one eczema trigger), I swear my hands start itching when I watch milk being added to a dish.

I hold my breath while I listen to the host’s ingredient list being rambled off praying for a dish I can eat itch and worry-free…

“…potatoes…onions…cheese”

Dammit.

Been there? Me too. It’s awkward being the one people have to accommodate for, but here’s how to survive it.

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Don’t be afraid to gently remind your host about your dietary restrictions.

Try to do so the moment they invite you so that they have adequate time to prepare. It doesn’t matter how many times you’ve already told them, or that you think that they should remember ‘by now’. People are far too busy with their own lives to worry about you and your diet.

Did the dish still wind up being something you can’t stomach?

Don’t take it personally, just because they didn’t remember doesn’t mean they don’t care. Keep in mind that not everyone has a pantry full of substitutes for dairy, gluten, or whatever else it may be.

 

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 Help out your host (and you!)  by offering to bring a dish, and be sure to make enough to share. You’ll be guaranteed to eat without worry, and who knows -maybe it’ll leave your loved ones begging for more!

Not sure what to make? Here’s a bit of inspiration:

 

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 Now I don’t mean kicking, screaming, crying, and otherwise just having a major tantrum on the floor… I mean I suppose you could, you certainly wouldn’t have to worry about being invited back over anytime soon…(so maybe?).

What I actually mean is take small portions of the dish your host generously provided and pick through your food (and around your all your ‘no-no’ foods).

We’ve all seen kids pickily go through their food, have we not?

While this means you may not be the one at the table with the most manners, sometimes you just gotta do what you gotta do. Keep in mind that just because you are channeling your inner 3-year old it doesn’t mean you have to also make a fuss and draw attention to yourself by disgustedly pushing food to the side.

(Unless  of course, you don’t want to be invited back… so again… maybe?)

Fill up the rest of your plate with veggies, salad or anything else that’s sure to make your tummy happy.

Smile wide and say your (as my 3-year-old cousin would say) “pwease and tank yous”

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 So there is literally absolutely NOTHING tummy and itch safe on the table?

The host’s main dish has milk laced throughout, EVERY SINGLE bun in the entire house is already buttered, dessert is 14 scoops of ice cream, and by God there’s even cheese melted over the salad!

Melted cheese on a salad? Are they trying to kill me!?

So what now -as the guilt starts building up inside of you– is there to do?

Pull up your big kid panties and walk over to the host. Graciously apologize and explain that, as much as you would love to dig into their delicious cheese salad… that you just can’t do it. Chances are right then and there, your lovely host will at the start pulling out anything they think could work for you.

Try not to let the guilt eat you up, it’s alright.

From there, go on and get your hands dirty. Your host has done more than enough for you, so insist on putting together your own plate of goodies from the tummy safe food they provided.

Be sure to whole heartily thank them.

 

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This is a habit I’ve picked up recently, but not exclusively for going over to people’s houses.

The whole habit started once I chose to cut out dairy. While my loved ones could just pull into any fast food joint or sit down at any restaurant, I had to be a little more careful about what was in my food (does everything have cheese on it nowadays? Good gracious!).

Let’s just say I learned the hard way that I can get real hangry real quick if I go without food. So in order to save myself and my loved ones,  I constantly have a stash of safe snacks in my purse, in my car, and at least one in my jacket.

Now when that salad quit sticking to your bones, and everyone around you is scooping up bowls of ice cream (R.I.P. my favorite and forbidden dessert), you can go to your jacket and pull out a treat for yourself.

I’d love to have a wide variety of suggestions for you, but I don’t. The only snack I carry with me is my No Bake. No Fuss. Energy Bites. They’re naturally sweetened with honey and are usually just enough to get rid of a dessert craving (even when you still long for ice cream).

So there we have it, five eating out survival tactics. Let me know if you’ve got another tactic, and let me in on your favorite emergency snacks!

Health and Happiness,

Savannah

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