For this month’s safer skincare post, I’ll be chatting about the problems and pervasiveness of heavy metals in your makeup and how you can avoid them!
Be sure to scroll all the way to the bottom of this post for my April Beautycounter gift!
WHAT ARE HEAVY METALS & WHY DO THEY MATTER?
Heavy metals are found naturally in the earth but become more concentrated with human activities like mining and manufacturing. Common routes of exposure include air pollution, dental procedures (mercury amalgams), water (arsenic), food, cigarettes, work, school, the home environment (i.e. lead in paint) and color cosmetics including children’s play makeup and face paint.
Many heavy metals have been demonstrated to be harmful to humans. The metals lead, cadmium, mercury and arsenic pose some of the biggest risks to health. The effects of heavy metal exposure can include lowered IQ, neurological effects, cancer, headaches, extreme irritability, and kidney, lung and heart damage (Heavy Metals in Makeup, Beautycounter).
Heavy metals can be particularly problematic for children whose detoxification systems cannot handle the environmental assault of even a minor amount of heavy metals. Neurotoxins like heavy metals can have dramatic effects on a child’s intellectual and physical development (EWG).
HEAVY METALS IN MAKEUP: HOW COMMON IS THIS?
Companies do not intentionally include heavy metals in their makeup yet their ingredients are often contaminated with these harmful compounds. Beautycounter tested several luxury and natural brands’ makeup via third party testing and found that every single product tested had some level of heavy metal in it.
However, heavy metals are frequently found in makeup because they contaminate the colorants that companies use. Whether those colorants are natural ingredients that come from the earth (where heavy metals are present at random and may attach to the intentionally mined ingredients), or whether they are synthetic, heavy metal contamination can be found in both luxury and natural brands (Heavy Metals in Makeup, Beautycounter).
Currently, the FDA does not require companies to screen, test or limit heavy metals in their cosmetics. If a company discovered dangerous levels of lead in their lipstick, they do NOT have to recall the product.
HOW BEAUTYCOUNTER IS PROTECTING YOU FROM HEAVY METALS
Beautycounter sends every single color cosmetic to a third-party testing facility during formulation, at the end of formulation AND then during every single production batch going forward.
Beautycounter tests for 12 heavy metals: antimony, arsenic, barium, beryllium, cadmium, chromium, cobalt, copper, lead, mercury, nickel and selenium. Our goal is to achieve non-detectable levels of heavy metals in all of our products, and we have established extremely low level limits for all metals, much lower than Health Canada’s current allowable levels (some of the lowest in the world).
You can feel confident using TRIPLE TESTED products from the only brand I am aware of that screen, tests and reformulates for heavy metals. Beautycounter’s #1 mission is to provide safer products for everyone, which is why we’ve also expanded our lipstick line to compete with long-wearing, high-performance department store lipsticks.
THE NEW COLOR INTENSE LIPSTICK COLLECTION
Okay, I don’t think I’ve ever been this stoked about lipstick in my LIFE! Our newest makeup line is the Color Intense Lipstick Collection which includes 8 BRAND NEW shades from neutrals to pinks and bold reds – a color for every skin tone!
Here’s a cheat sheet to help you choose the best colors for your skin! Lipsticks are similar to foundation – you should know if you skin is warm, cool or neutral to choose the best shade.
The first safer LONG-WEARING, ONE-SWIPE, GLUTEN-FREE, SOY-FREE, NUT-FREE & VEGAN LIP STICK YES!!
Over the weekend, a woman of an older generation told me she loved that I remain “home” with my daughter. The words were shocking – I’ve heard them just a few times since I decided to postpone going back to work almost two years ago during her most formative early development. I’ve received a lot of flak from other women, rarely men, regarding my choice. While I love being a stay at home mom, I haven’t been without my critics – near to my heart as a friend (behind my back more than I can count), an arm’s length like a neighbor, and as distant as a complete stranger. I believe the social distaste for stay at home moms that has developed over the last few decades is a feministic issue brought on by feministic pursuits. Refrain from passing your judgment of that word for now.
As we broke free from our households and tossed our aprons aside, respect for the modern woman who chooses to stay home (even for just 2 to 3 years, even part-time, even with 5 kids and no financial ability for 5 daycare bills) in the 21st century has diminished. In many eyes, particularly other females’, you became a more valuable human if you worked outside the home. You lost worthiness, respect and desirability by remaining at home. If you don’t agree, you only need to look in the shallow waters of our advertising culture or get the opinions of a few friends or colleagues. “Soccer mom” has become a derogatory term. “What does she do all day? I would be bored.” is often a sentiment I’ve heard friends and other women make. A judgment really.
While women on both sides of the coin (working and stay at home moms) have experienced judgment on their decision, the root of the problem is equitable. Far greater than men, society has told us who we are supposed to be and what ideals we must adhere to be deemed ACCEPTABLE.
ACCEPTANCE is the elephant in the room of every psychologist’s office humankind is unwilling to face. The constant, seething need to be accepted, to belong, to be deemed worthy, to be validated is a deep human desire dating back to tribal times. So, how do you judge stay at home moms? Yes, I’m asking you. Is the first thought in your head… lazy? bored? stupid? soccer mom? How do these judgments make you feel about yourself – accepted into the majority? Shameful for wanting that?
Now, if acceptance is largely one of the most important factors that guides our self-esteem, how we interact with our world, and who we portray ourselves as… why do we continue to tell stay at home moms (or working moms) they are not accepted? By doing so, we are telling women that by acknowledging a primal desire to care for their child and set aside their career pursuits (or pursue them from home), they are not meeting your expectations. That dialogue transfers down to generations as the stay at home mom feels constantly defensive of her choice, children begin to think, “Am I a burden? Did my mom make the ultimate sacrifice for staying home with me?”
Why do we not qualify men as “stay at home dads” or “working dads”? Besides the fact we automatically assume all fathers work, we also automatically assume that all dads must work to support their families and adhere to principles of masculinity. Men are also not immune to these stereotypes and pre-judgments but to a far lesser degree than women. Most men follow the pages of the patriarchal story they’ve been told their entire lives – you must work to support your family. There isn’t a male-centric movement telling them to think differently.
On the other hand, women are told many things. We must be “nice” (what exactly is nice?). We must be thin. We must cook. We must clean. We must get an advanced degree to compete with the opposite gender. We must work our way up the corporate ladder. We must accept a lesser pay grade. We must break the glass ceiling. We better please our husband or he’ll leave us. We better be Super Moms or the PTA won’t want us. Our cookies need to win the bake sale. We shouldn’t eat cookies. We need to drink to loosen up, but we can’t drink so much that we start talking too much. We shouldn’t talk so much. Loud women are unattractive. We need to speak up more. We need to be in a constant pursuit of perfection. We need to accept our bodies. We all hate our bodies. We must be sexy. Don’t be conceited. We’re quiet. We’re bitches. We’re hormonal and hysterical. We’re making it up. We all like shoes. Our opinions matter less. We’re bossy. We’re submissive.
The only consistent message women receive is that we need to be all the things, for all the people, and accept that we will still be marginalized and judged for our choices as a mother.
Feministic pursuits (which I align with) working to reverse the above stereotypes have also played a part in mitigating the beauty of maternalism. I’ve heard all of those judgments above. I’ve been called a bitch for standing up for myself, caustic for not being afraid to share my opinions, hormonal for being sensitive to my needs and asking others to respect them, and disrespected for being at home with my daughter… by my friends, my neighbor, a stranger on social media, a stranger at the grocery store, a friend of a friend. I’ve been told I’ve wasted my master’s degree. She really should be in school 5 days week. You need to be around adults (My response: But I learn more from my child than I ever did in 25 years of school. She is more joyful, interesting and so much less of an asshole than you.)
I consider myself an unwavering feminist, but feminism has also caused a ripple effect washing away the esteem of motherhood in some sectors. I work for myself because you bet I will break the glass ceiling at my previous job in advertising. In fact, my main source of income is *gasp* working for a direct retail company whose mission drives me more than any office job could. Would it shock you to know that I’ve built a business among my blog, books and Beautycounter that has more than replaced my previous income as a full-time occupational therapist yet I work 20 hours a week from home while caring nearly full-time for my 2-year-old. I’ve also saved my family tens of thousands of dollars by holding off on full-time daycare/preschool.
I’ve felt pressured to justify my financial contribution to my family when in it should be an empty descriptor of success. In America, money = success, value and self-worth. In America, stay at home moms do not financially contribute to their household (untrue, see above), therefore we cannot consider them successful, valuable and worthy (on the more extreme spectrum, more people sit comfortably in the category of “less successful, less valuable and less worthy”.) If I had chosen to not work at all, I would be equally as proud of myself for becoming a self-sufficient, loving, immensely caring mother. Because I see the time, devotion, thought, skill and intention that goes into motherhood. It’s the hardest job a woman will ever have – you’ve heard that before haven’t you? Then why does the stigma of being a stay at home mom still permeate?
What is my goal in writing this article? For the general public to move towards the following dialogue. I respect women who choose to stay at home, who choose to work, who choose to do both part-time, who choose to not have children. I accept women in my life for pursuing what brings them happiness, balance and success. I refuse to define success in terms of financial value but rather the physical and emotional contribution that woman is making to her household, and I equate caring for her 2-year-old at home to the same level of value and reverence as a mother working a 50-hour a week job outside the home.
DISCLAIMER FOR THIS ARTICLE: This article is not meant to diagnose or suggest diagnostic testing or treatment. I am not a doctor, I am simply sharing my experiences with advanced hormonal testing as requested by many readers. Please do not ask questions below regarding your own health or whether or not this testing would be appropriate for you. You may share your experiences with other women in the comments, if desired. Seek professional help to determine whether or not hormone testing, supplementation and changes in medication are medically appropriate for you.
Today, I will be discussing my recent experience with the DUTCH hormone panel as well as how I am naturally addressing adrenal fatigue caused by motherhood. Motherhood, you are full of loving, hilarious & joyful moments, but can you please return my basic human need of sleep and eating in normal intervals?
DUTCH stands for “dried urine test for comprehensive hormones”. Essentially, your functional medicine practitioner, integrative wellness practitioner, functional NTP or naturopath provides you the test kit (or you order it online) to complete at home during a certain span of your menstrual cycle. The DUTCH test gives a comprehensive look into your sex hormones, 4-point cortisol, total cortisol, state of adrenal fatigue, and how all of these hormones are working together down the hormonal cascade that begins with cholesterol.
For regularly cycling females (cycles not too short or too long), you take your test around day 21 of your cycle. If your cycle is shorter in length, you’ll need to take it sooner; if it’s longer in length, you’ll need to take it later in your cycle. I did the Dutch Complete kit which also included melatonin. There are DUTCH tests that include both blood and urine as well as month-long testing so you can get the most accurate view of how your hormones are cycling for a 28 day period.
**IF YOU’RE SEARCHING FOR A FUNCTIONAL MEDICINE PRACTITIONER, USE YELP TO FIND ONE IN YOUR AREA OR USE THE SEARCH FUNCTION ON IFM.ORG
HOW IT WORKS
You test at 4 to 5 intervals throughout the day by urinating on test strips. You are instructed to essentially dehydrate yourself (my words, not their’s – I hate being thirsty) for many of the test points because the scientists need concentrated urine for the most accurate test results. Test points include immediately upon waking, 2 hours after waking, dinnertime, bedtime and overnight (optional). There are test stipulations like no caffeine before your two morning tests, holding certain medications, and reading the instructions for irregular, short or long cycles.
You send in your dried urine strips to DUTCH who processes, analyzes and sends a report to your practitioner. It took about 3 weeks for me to get my results. Your practitioner should review the results in detail with you and supply an appropriate plan of action. My DUTCH panel cost $250 out of pocket.
SOME (NOT ALL) REASONS YOU MAY WANT TO DO A DUTCH TEST
You are trying to get pregnant but it’s been 12 months with no conception.
You feel tired and wired, cranky, gaining weight, low libido, low motivation (signs of adrenal fatigue).
You have a history of estrogen dominance or are experiencing conditions related to estrogen dominance or painful periods.
You aren’t cycling and are anovulatory (no period, no ovulation).
You want to know how your genetics are playing into your hormone cascade.
You want to see how you are methylating or you have a known MtHfr defect.
You suspect androgen dominance and conditions caused by this such as PCOS – one of the most common causes of infertility.
You suspect you have adrenal fatigue but are not sure which stage you are in which will determine your treatment (this is why I did it).
WHY I DID IT & RESULTS
I took the DUTCH test because I was experiencing low energy in the mornings, poor short term memory, poor recovery from workouts and mood swings. I was 20 months post-partum at time of testing, and my symptoms appeared about 3 months ago during a stressful time period with poor quality sleep.
My results indicated that my body isn’t producing enough cortisol and sex hormones throughout the day to give me the energy I need. Your results page will demonstrate a very detailed graph of your:
CORTISOL (free, metabolized and daily total), DHEA, ESTROGEN, PROGESTERONE & TESTOSTERONE as well as if those numbers are in an optimal range, pre or post menopausal range or too high. You will also find out the metabolic activity of these hormones and how they eventually go through the methylation chain.
Here is a DUTCH RESULTS SAMPLE (not mine!) from their website so you can get an idea of how much information is in your pee. If you’re wondering, blood serum does not produce as accurate testing as the DUTCH. The only hormone I test via blood serum is thyroid. Please note I’ve also done that 4-point salivary cortisol test with Genova but it does not give the same amount or detail of information. The 4-point salivary cortisol test (also ordered through your wellness practitioner) is about $150 and can also give you information on sex hormone levels (but not how they’re interacting with one another).
Other information you’ll get:
b12 and b6 markers
Adrenal fatigue isn’t new to me. I have struggled with it for years on & off even while healing my autoimmune disease and infertility. I have tended towards a hyperactive, Type A, “I hate relaxation” state my entire life (like many people with autoimmune disease!) and that is a breeding ground for adrenal issues. I’m not going to discuss the causes or mechanism of adrenal fatigue here because I’m not a doctor and you can Google that for yourself, but I will provide my experiences.
My first 15 months post-partum my adrenals felt pretty stable. I recovered from my workouts, woke up energized even if my sleep was poor because of teething or multiple wake-ups, but by 18 months things changed quite quickly. I was finishing up my ebook and moving through some typical life stressors (husband working loooong hours, holidays, travel) when I noticed a pretty sudden drop in my energy levels and recovery.
Initially in November, I was having a hard time winding down at night and waking up super early with a ton of energy (around 4 am). I would crash by 10 am, I didn’t have an appetite, and I felt overwhelmed with basic daily activities like cooking dinner or doing housework.
I immediately knew my adrenals had taken a hit from a 2-month span of only sleeping 4 to 5 hours a night while finishing up Enthused (which also coincided with shifts in Grace’s sleep schedule – btw go grab my ebook so it makes this whole adrenal thing worth it). Rather than truck through it and “baby” my adrenals on my own, I decided to do the DUTCH test to see EXACTLY how low my cortisol and hormones were. At this point, I was probably in Stage 2 of adrenal fatigue when your cortisol is usually HIGH – especially in the morning.
We also still breastfeed (she is 22 months old today) which has its own affect on hormones. Breastfeeding suppresses female sex hormones, poor sleep eventually suppresses cortisol (after an initial spike), low cortisol suppresses testosterone and female sex hormones. That’s a recipe for some messy hormones.
By the time I took the test, I was feeling exhausted all day and had gained 5 to 10 pounds despite daily exercise and frankly undereating. I had no problem falling asleep or staying asleep – in fact I needed at least 9 hours of sleep per night. This was only a couple months after I first started feeling signs of adrenal fatigue back in November. This is likely when I entered Stage 3 adrenal fatigue.
WHAT I’M DOING TO RECOVER MY ADRENALS
With my physician’s guidance, I weaned from 3 breastfeeding sessions a day at 21 months post-partum to only 1 a day (in the morning for 5 minutes). I’m going to completely wean after a trip to Napa this weekend. This will be an emotionally difficult process for both Grace & myself, but my intuition is telling me its time for my body to believe it’s only taking care of ONE person instead of TWO!
I also did TONS of other tests for insulin, advanced cholesterol, thyroid, inflammation, etc. They came back GREAT! My cholesterol is in range, my insulin is fantastic, my thyroid meds need to be slightly adjusted (more on that below) and I don’t have any inflammatory markers! My doctor said that thanks to my diet and lifestyle I’m feeling a lot better than I look on paper.
One of my best tips when dealing with a new diagnosis is to focus on everything good going on in your life and in your body. I love my job, I love my baby more than anything in the world, my health otherwise looks excellent, and I’m enjoying taking some time to care for myself right now.
It was important for me to know what my blood sugar was doing because it is linked to adrenal health. Thankfully, my insulin and blood sugar is very stable which I can certainly credit my diet. I’m going to continue with my intuitive eating which means eating different types of foods at different parts of my cycle. The biggest issue for me is to eat ENOUGH food. I suspect not eating enough contributed to my adrenal issues because I focused all of my energy on feeding my daughter the most nutrient dense meals. I also tend to not eat full meals when I’m stressed (which I was for several months at the end of 2017). Not eating enough ENERGY (calories) in general can contribute to adrenal issues.
I have been focusing my meals more on higher fat, moderate protein and moderate or low carb (depending on the point in my cycle and time of day). I feel best when my morning meal is at least 500 calories and high in fat and low in carbs. My body also prefers high fat, low carb during my follicular phase (first 14 days of my cycle) and an addition of nutrient dense carbs during my luteal phase. Some people with adrenal fatigue will crave protein & carbs versus protein & fat. Play around with it (without adding stress – your diet should not be a source of stress – if it is then you need to either change your mindset or change your diet), and find what works best for you. The end goal is to stabilize your blood sugar enough that you can go long periods of time in between meals without feeling jittery or hangry (5 to 6 hours for most people – if you find you need to eat every 3 to 4 hours – that is perfectly fine if you’re not getting hangry in between meals!)
We did discover I was taking too much T3 medication (Cytomel). I was on the lowest dose only once per day, so we completely took me off T3 and now I’m just on T4 (Tirosint). Too much T3 can also stimulate the HPA axis and contribute to adrenal issues. We will be testing my thyroid again in 5 to 6 weeks to see how my body is doing converting T4 to T3 on its own without supplemental T3, and then we will decide if I need to be on a smaller compounded amount of T3. I do not take natural desiccated thyroid as I have an EXTREME autoimmune reaction to it – worse than any other food – WAY worse than if I have a gluten or soy or nightshade exposure. This is irrelevant to the adrenal fatigue conversation, but I want to raise awareness that natural desiccated isn’t always the best choice, even though in natural medicine we’re told it is.
Unfortunately, I had JUST joined a gym right before I found out I was in stage 3 adrenal fatigue. I was feeling pretty wiped out from my gym workouts and had poor recovery like muscle soreness for 3 to 4 days post-workout. Those are also definite signs of adrenal fatigue, and your body’s cue it’s time to take it way back on exercise. I stopped going to the gym, and I have resumed jogging 5x a week at a slow, manageable pace (never out of breath) for 2 to 3 miles as well as daily walks with my daughter and dog. I use the step tracker on my iPhone and average 10,000 to 15,000 steps a day.
I feel energized by this movement rather than drained like I was feeling from weights and circuits (even though I wasn’t pushing myself at the gym). I’ve heard weights are best for adrenal fatigue versus cardio, but I have found steady state cardio like jogging and walking to be enjoyable but not overtaxing.
ONE: Stress reduction is by far the most important factor in healing adrenal fatigue in my situation. I have added once weekly acupuncture at a private practice that focuses on prenatal and post-partum health. We work on adrenals, sinuses, SI join and sciatica pain, relaxation, sleep, and TMJ all within a 1 1/2 hour appointment! I have not added Chinese herbs to my regimen yet, as I am very cautious with herbs and supplements as someone with an autoimmune disease and easily reactive immune system.
TWO: I also have subscribed to this motto created by the great Casey Wilson of The Bitch Sesh Podcast: Not Gonna Take That On. I’m making an effort to not take on other people’s stress (as an empath, this can be difficult) and to stop worrying about the future (something I’ve struggled with since becoming a mother).
THREE: I participate in at least one stress-reducing activity a day whether that is going for a long solo walk after dinner, meditating for 20 minutes using the Headspace app, laying out by the pool with a book, or watching a Real Housewives marathon (which now equates to half an episode since embarking on motherhood).
I’ve had many questions about which supplements and adaptogens I’m using since I began talking about the DUTCH test on Instagram. I don’t run to supplements in cases of illness or adrenal fatigue. In my opinion, the root of a lot of modern day health issues is stress. Supplements and adaptogens are bandaids for the true problem of an overburdened stress response system. They certainly help in some cases, but I have found many of them make zero difference (for me, you may have a completely different experience) or the effect is placebo (which wears off after a week for me). And I can’t stand paying hundreds of dollars a month for a counter full of supplements. I also think supplements and medications can reinforce the victim/sick mentality. The more medication bottles you see on your counter, the more you feel like you’re broken or need external sources of aid. Please don’t take this as an affront or criticism to your supplement routine – this is my opinion based on my personal experiences with multiple functional medicine practitioners over-prescribing supplements.
Side note for those of you with autoimmune disease: a common adaptogen called ashwagandha is actually a nighthshade which can stimulate the immune system and worsen autoimmune symptoms. There are non-nightshade adaptogens like rhodiola and holy basil (which can be immune stimulating, so you may want to avoid). I do not feel comfortable taking adaptogens while breastfeeding so I am currently avoiding. You also do not want to throw adaptogens at every adrenal fatigue patient. Adaptogen use is going to depend on the patient’s stage of adrenal fatigue.
Rather than taking all the supplements my doctor suggested, I purchased a few from Amazon (excellent return policy!) and used them for a few weeks. I used my intuition to determine if I sensed a difference from the supplements. Generally, I did not so I returned them. The supplements I returned were Turmeric/Curcumin, phosphatidylserine, DHEA and Pregnenolone.
Vitamin D and Zinc are important for immune system health (and people with autoimmune disease tend to be deficient in both), Trace Minerals & Real Salt help replenish minerals your adrenals need to properly regulate hormones, sodium/potassuim balance and therefore blood pressure, muscle strength, thirst, energy and heart rhythm. Magneisum + B6 is useful for nighttime relaxation – my body winds down at night and sleeps more soundly with nightly mag.
Instead of over-supplementing, I’m focusing on the above lifestyle and stress reduction practices: eating an energy and nutrient dense diet (and not skipping meals), omitting strenuous exercise, practicing joy and including more joyful activities in my life, age old stress reduction practices like acupuncture and meditation, and intuitive supplementation.
Within 3 weeks of doing my own protocol, I feel 50% better. My energy is mostly stable during the day (some dips during mid-morning still), my mood is more stable (less feelings of anxiousness and worry), and I’m not feeling overwhelmed by daily activities and responsibilities.
ANSWERING YOUR QUESTIONS
1. How long does it take to heal from adrenal fatigue?
There is no timeline for healing the body. That may not be the answer you want to hear, but a shift in mindset is also warranted here. How long have you been stressed? Type A? A worrier? An over-exerciser? An under-eater? A self-loather? All of these tendencies lead to an overburdened central nervous system and adrenal response. The sooner you release expectations around healing, the more success you will see and the more joy will flow into your life.
I get this question all the time about the Autoimmune Protocol. “How long do I need to be on it? How long does it take to heal?” No one has this answer for you. It took me 6 months to be successful with reintroductions while it took some people 1 month, 1 year or 2 years. AIP is not a prescription – take 3x a day and see symptoms relief in 3 months. We cannot command our bodies to perform how we would like them to. In fact, that notion is often what gets us in the mess of hormonal imbalance and chronic illness.
Give yourself grace, compassion and learn PATIENCE. Pretend you’re a Buddhist Monk, simplify your life, practice gratitude every day, and stop listening to health podcasts or reading health blogs (even this one!) if it causes you stress. It’s okay to be curious and to be thirsty for knowledge, but often times this pushes women into a state of chronic worry, fear and comparison.
LET GO. Every time your inner voice starts to question, worry or criticize, say LET GO. Take a deep breath. Shake out the negativity and fill your mind and body with a joyful memory or hobby.
2. How does adrenal fatigue affect sleep?
Initially, in Stage 1 or 2 you may experience the common “tired but wired” feeling. You get a second wind around 8 pm even though you felt a little sleepy at 6 pm. You could stay up until 11 pm or 1 am watching TV, reading, or scrolling social media without feeling the need to shut your eyes and get rest. You may feel energy dips earlier in the afternoon around 3 pm as well.
By Stage 3 to 4 adrenal fatigue, you may feel tired all day. You may not have trouble falling asleep at night (or this ability is inconsistent), but your sleep is restless and you don’t feel well-rested in the morning. You may feel the need to be in bed by 9 pm (because you’ve been tired since 10 am) and only have enough energy to drag yourself out of bed at 9 am the next day.
You can support your sleep cycles and help heal adrenal fatigue by practicing good sleep hygiene. For me, that means shutting down my phone and computer at 8 pm, taking a 20 minute epsom salt bath, dry brushing, taking my Magnesium + Trace Minerals supplements and reading in bed for as long as it takes for my eyes to feel heavy. I also wear these very sexy amber night-vision goggles as soon as it gets dark out. This has significantly helped with eye strain, headaches and increasing melatonin. Cortisol and melatonin are essentially opposites. We want our cortisol to be low at night and our melatonin to be high. We want our cortisol to spike in the morning (but not too high) and our meltatonin to be low so we have enough energy to take on our day.
I have read in several books that the adrenals heal the most during 10 pm to 2 am so it is important to establish an early bedtime routine while healing adrenal fatigue and ensure rested sleep during those hours.
3. What is the difference between adrenal fatigue and feeling fatigued from thyroid disease?
Unmanaged thyroid conditions can also contribute to adrenal fatigue since the adrenals and thyroid work closely together. Hashimoto’s thyroiditis and hypothyroidism causes a depression of the metabolism which can be felt as decreased energy and muscle fatigue. You may have trouble climbing stairs or lifting weights. Adrenal fatigue can also cause feelings of fatigue with muscle weakness, lightheadedness and poor exercise tolerance. The best way to tell the difference between which gland is causing the fatigue is to have a full thyroid panel done as well as a DUTCH or 4-point salivary cortisol test. Hashimoto’s also causes the outer 1/3 of the eyebrows to fall out, general weight gain (rather than many people with adrenal fatigue who gain weight in their middle), constipation (adrenal fatigue can cause diarrhea), and slowed thinking. With adrenal fatigue, you may see orthostatic hypotension (feeling dizzy when changing positions – i.e. from laying down to sitting up), obsessive tendencies, hyper responsiveness to stimuli (i.e. loud sounds, sudden movements causing you to startle easily) and brain fog (which is different from slowed thinking).
4. Can I drink caffeine when I have adrenal fatigue?
You can do anything you want to do, but if you want to heal your adrenals and balance your hormones, nix the caffeine. Caffeine is an adrenal stimulant. Your adrenals have been overstimulated if you are suffering from adrenal fatigue, so adding caffeine to your daily routine is like throwing salt on an open wound. Omit all caffeinated beverages including coffee, matcha, black/green tea, excessive amounts of dark chocolate, soda or energy drinks. You may have a couple rough days of feeling more exhausted than usual but this is a detox your body needs. Soon you will find yourself with MORE energy than you did when you were drinking caffeine and further depleting your adrenals.
If you can’t quit your Bulletproof coffee or morning cup of crack, I add coconut milk to Traditional Medicinals Roasted Dandelion Tea. You get a healthy dose of fats and a jumpstart on liver detoxification in the morning – excellent if you’re also dealing with an overburdened liver or high estrogen or testosterone.
5. Should I quit sugar?
This is going to be dependent on your level of inflammation, blood sugar regulation and whether or not you’re addicted to sugar. It’s one thing to go for a square of dark chocolate after lunch, it’s another thing to eat a pint of dark chocolate ice cream several nights a week because it’s your drug of choice. Okay, those are two extremes, but most of us will be able to tell if we are addicted to sugar and if it’s negatively impacting gut and brain health. If you can’t tell, here are some signs: energy crashes 2 hours later, headaches, lower belly bloating, constant sugar cravings even after satisfying meals, fruit not being sweet enough for your palate, and mood swings. Sugar is addictive and anyone who tells you it’s not has not done their research on the physiological result of sugar consumption. No need to be afraid of it – just know your limits, and recognize if your habits are making you feel worse rather than healthier.
6. Talk about adrenal fatigue and post-partum. Is it preventable?
It’s hard for me to talk about adrenal fatigue prevention post-partum when I did the best I could and still became overtaxed. I began my motherhood journey with the best intentions of avoiding adrenal fatigue – prioritizing sleep, eating well, minimizing stress, not taking on big projects, and getting rid of any toxic people (who wants that around their kid?) Low and behold even with my strict 10 pm bedtime and Paleo, low sugar style of eating, life stress can’t be predicted.
Rather than trying to prevent adrenal fatigue (and then allowing THAT to stress you out), aim to recognize the signs of the early stages such as weight gain, feeling wired, early waking, inability to fall asleep, and mid-day fatigue. By recognizing the rabbit hole you’re about to jump down, you can re-assess your lifestyle and take a step back.
MY HARD TRUTHS
Don’t keep pushing harder in the gym if you see weight gain, don’t try 14 new diets to try to lose the weight or add another element of obsessive control to your life, and don’t panic if you’re diagnosed with adrenal fatigue. Adrenal fatigue is not cancer. I say that as someone who has watched several people pass away from cancer. It’s a modern day illness caused by taking on too much and not allowing your body the rest and love it needs. You will get better – you just have to prioritize stress management as well as re-prioritize what you’re spending your energy on.
Hate your job? That’s a huge source of internal and external stress. Find a new job. This world is full of meaningful opportunities – don’t continue to do something you hate just to pay the bills. Set up a financial plan where you have several months of expenses in savings & work towards something you love. Take the leap – if you continue to let fear stand in your way of achieving your life purpose, you will remain at status quo. One of the most painful emotions as a human is regret.
Hate your body? Aren’t you tired of hating your body? When is it going to stop? You’re the only one that can fix the relationship you have with your body. Do you hang around friends with eating disorders or those who constantly criticize themselves therefore making you feel judged and inadequate? Do you follow bloggers on Instagram who are self-obsessed, constantly showing off their 6-pack and hard workouts, and who seem to only care about how they look? Get rid of those relationships. Work on finding gratitude in your body but also coming to the very common sense realization that spending time worrying about your body is time wasted. You could be enjoying life and making memories during all of those times you’re at the gym or picking yourself apart in the mirror. The self love journey will look different for everyone, and I’m no expert, but I do know you can CHOOSE to help yourself.
Health worrier? Do you constantly worry about your health? Every time a blogger posts about a new diet, supplement or diagnosis, do you think “I must have that!”? If that’s you, delete every single health podcast from your phone, only use the internet for work and social connection, and work to dig yourself out of the victim mentality. The #1 biggest problem I see in the autoimmune/health community is this constant fear, worry and obsession with health. I used to be this way which is how I can recognize it in others. If I had received an adrenal fatigue diagnosis 5 years ago, I would have spent WEEKS researching it, obsessing, trying to find the solution that would cure it the fastest. That is so exhausting for yourself, annoying for others, and hindering. to your body’s healing.
Turn inward and ask yourself, “What about my life is causing me emotional and/or physical stress?” Write down the 5 things about your life that bring you the most amount of stress (be honest: are your workouts actually a source of stress yet you call them stress relief?) Write down 10 things about your life that bring you joy. Focus on those 10 things, let go of those 5 things.
My Top Ten
Spending as much time as possible with my daughter.
Date nights with my husband.
Vacations and weekend trips
My nightly solo walks with my dog.
Bravo (for sure, top 5)
Ghee (if there’s one food that makes me happy, it’s ghee)
Paleo Honey “Mustard” Chicken Salad made autoimmune protocol friendly with the new KC Naturals AIP Mustard! This salad is quick to throw together, crunchy, sweet & savory!
I completely forgot to post this recipe for my Honey “Mustard” Chicken Salad featuring the new KC Naturals AIP Imitation Mustard! Since seeds are out on the AIP, and it can be hard to find a mustard not made with distilled (corn) vinegar or added spices, this is pretty revolutionary!
I call this salad my WEEKEND SALAD because I throw it together on Saturday morning and it feeds me all weekend! I hate spending time in the kitchen on Saturday & Sunday, especially because we usually have fun activities planned like the beach or the boat or meeting friends at a brewery. Rather than trying to hunt down healthy eats (which are touch to come by in a small beach community), I divvy up this salad into 4 containers!
When I had histamine intolerance, this is also how I would plan my meals. I would prep my protein and veggies and stick them in the freezer (to halt histamine production in cooked protein) and then grab & go. Even though I was eating a rather restricted diet back then, this made it so much easier to integrate a healing protocol into my lifestyle.
Enjoying your favorite hobbies, activities and outings with friends is a non-negotiable to me. Many times when someone embarks on the autoimmune protocol, they also use it as an excuse to enter victim mode. I hear people say “I can’t go to happy hour anymore” or “I can’t go out to eat with friends anymore”, and their social life becomes depleted.
Yes you CAN. You can do everything you did before you started the AIP or another special diet, but it may look a little different. I drink alcohol now, but when I didn’t, I would attend happy hour & have the bartender make me a fun mocktail. If I had plans with a friend for lunch, I’d ask if I could choose the place so we both could eat.
We often times make excuses for living life and being happy. Just because you have an autoimmune disease or you have to avoid certain foods does not make you a victim of your body or this world. If the hardest part of my day/your day is avoiding a cupcake, then we’re sitting pretty aren’t we? These sentiments may resemble tough love or make you feel uncomfortable, but I wish someone had told me this back when I started AIP in 2014.
While I never allowed AIP to dictate my hobbies, friendships or happiness, I did let it make me feel “different” from my peers and family. I’ve overcome that mental block, and I’m even healthier and happier for it. That is my hope for the autoimmune community – to simultaneously work on mindset while working on healing through food and lifestyle.
I can feel the stress and anxiety in the questions and emails I get through my blog & social media. The victim mentality, fear and anxiousness certainly permeates the community. It doesn’t need to be that way though. Often times fear, anger and worry are the emotions that have led to the imbalance in our immune systems and constitution in the first place.
All this to say, if you feel stuck in the victim mentality, only you can pull yourself out. Look inward for validation, love and respect rather than outward. Know that this is a flash in the pan of your life – a chapter in a book of short stories. Your health will change – it will improve – it may take a step back here and there – but your body wants to be in balance again. What we most have power over is our mindset.
Finally – Enjoyed this recipe for Paleo & AIP Honey “Mustard” Chicken Salad over on Autoimmune Wellness!
Paleo Pecan Crusted Chicken Tenders with Maple Dijon Dipping Sauce made without eggs, gluten & nightshades!
These pecan crusted chicken tenders converted me from nuggets to the tenderest tenders ever! I used the ButcherBox Chicken Tenders from my latest order which are pasture-raised, organic, and certified humanely raised.
Rather than using an egg-wash, I wanted to keep them egg free. To make this recipe successful, I patted the chicken tenders dry before coating in a light dusting of tapioca, salt and pepper, THEN tossed in coconut milk before rolling in the crushed pecans. If you can’t do coconut milk, sub a whisked egg, or even buttermilk if you do dairy. Also, you should be able to sub other nuts here as long as you grind them into a fine coating.
My husband & I loved dipping these hot crunchy (baked crunchy, not fried crunchy!) pecan crusted chicken tenders in a simple Maple-Dijon dipping sauce… a little sweetness, a little vinegar, delish!
The whole family will love this healthier Paleo take on baked chicken tenders. Throw a sheet of julienned or sliced sweet potato or white potato fries in the oven at the same time for a “two pan meal”!
Chocolate Fudge Cream Cheese Brownies without the gluten, dairy OR sugar!
I posted this recipe on Instagram over the weekend & it seemed to intrigue you all. Chocolate… Fudge… Cream Cheese… Brownies made without added sugar or eggs or dairy-based cream cheese! Sounds a little impossible, a bit improbable, but I live in the land of proving the impossible probable.
Nikki’s Coconut Butter sent me 3 of their coconut butter flavors to try. I’d never had their coconut butter before but the flavors had waiting anxiously for the package to arrive: Chocolate Fudge (cocoa, thinner than regular coconut butter), Vanilla Cake Batter (vanilla with a touch of coconut sugar sweetness), and Cashew Coconut (haven’t tried it yet!)
The Chocolate Fudge Coconut Butter was runnier than traditional coconut butter, so my mind immediately went to making brownies and using it to replace melted chocolate. The brownies contain gluten-free rice flour, coconut flour and tapioca starch. They’re cake-y (not dense cake-y though) and rich but without any added sweeteners!
I swirled the Kite Hill Almond Milk Cream Cheese into the batter because I knew it would need a flavor contrast to break up the richness of the dark cocoa. It stays creamy but bakes into the brownies, so you get the perfect bite of creaminess & cakey-ness. It’s Monday, I’m inventing too many words for one blog post.
Brown Rice Flour: I suspect you could replace it with an equal amount of almond flour or tigernut flour but since I’ve never tried that, don’t hold me to it. Experiment & let us know below.
Chocolate Fudge Coconut Butter: You can replace it with melted plain coconut butter, but I would add some chocolate chips to the batter for sweetness and to make up for the lost chocolate flavor.
Tapioca Starch: You can replace it with arrowroot starch.
Coconut Flour: I don’t recommend replacing coconut flour in my recipes.
Have fun with these low-sugar, gluten-free Chocolate Fudge Cream Cheese Brownies!
Botox is the brand name for a form of botulinum toxin that is injected into facial muscles to paralyze neurons and result in a temporary reduction of wrinkles and fine lines. But what does injecting a known toxin into the body mean for someone with autoimmune disease?
First, let’s discuss what Botox is…
Before I head into how Botox can potentially affect someone with autoimmune disease, let’s discuss what exactly it is! Ingested or inhaled botulinum is a neurotoxic spore that in minuscule amounts can be fatal. Symptoms include slurred speech, difficulty breathing, muscle weakness and lethargy. This is why babies under 1 are advised to not eat honey – their digestive tracts are not mature enough to fight off potentially contaminated food.
Botox injections contain a very, very tiny amount of a specific strain of botulinum that paralyzes the muscles of the face to smooth fine lines, wrinkles and crow’s feet. It is even used by 20 and 30-something’s to prevent aging. The results only last 3 to 6 months which means Botox users get between 2 to 4 treatments a year, for decades and decades, if they want to maintain the results. Treatments cost anywhere between $400 to $1000, sometimes more, depending on how many injections you receive.
The industry is projected at an annual gross of 2.5 BILLION dollars & 4 to 5 million Americans receive Botox injections per year. You can bet that if 50 million Americans have autoimmune disease, there is overlap between Botox users and the AI population.
What else is it used for besides fine lines, wrinkles & crow’s feet?
Botox is also indicated on and off label for chronic migraines, spastic cerebral palsy, excessive sweating, acne and TMJ disorder. I had a few Instagram followers message me that they have used Botox in the past for migraines. All 3 said they did not find relief from Botox and 2 out of the 3 said Botox gave them terrible, painful, long-lasting autoimmune disease flares. Of course, this is anecdotal, but nonetheless interesting.
Botox’ insert warns the following autoimmune populations about serious adverse side effects…
People with autoimmune diseases that affect the neurological system like ALS, MS and Myasthenia Gravis (MG), should be particularly aware of the mechanisms and risks with Botox. The Botox website states that patients with ALS, MG, and Lambert-Eaton Syndrome need to be cautious of the potential for increased risk of serious side effects such as breathing difficulties and difficulty swallowing.
*Please be sure to make your Botox practitioner aware of all existing autoimmune disorders as well as pre-existing autoimmune episodes caused by Guillain-Barre Syndrome.*
Let’s look at the existing science on the relationship between Botox and autoimmune disease patients…
Limited longitudinal data or correlative studies exist examining the long-term health outcomes of Botox use on the autoimmune disease population or the general population.
Yet, a single subject study on a woman with Hashimoto’s who received Botox treatments over a decade-long timespan found a possible correlation between injections and a rise in her TSH post-injection.
These researchers examined the structure of the Botox and thyroid auto antibodies, which are the key indicators of the immune system’s attack on the thyroid. They found similarities between the epitopes of Botox and thyroid antobodies, indicating that Botox injections potentially increase the possibility of molecular mimicry – or the immune system mistaking Botox antigens for thyroid antigens.
Currently, not enough evidence exists to determine whether or not Botox is safe for patients with autoimmune disease, but just because something has not been proven, does not mean a relationship does not exist. This is where we each need to make our own informed decisions, and that will be different for each individual.
As autoimmune disease patients, we need to make our own informed decisions about allowing known toxins into our bloodstream. Here’s why:
It is widely known that environmental factors account for 67% of autoimmune disease risk while genetics only account for 1/3.
Autoimmune disease causal factors may include exposure to environmental toxins (including heavy metals, viruses and vaccines), nutritional deficiencies, blood sugar issues, antibiotic use, GMO and pesticide exposure and bacterial infections).
Now, if we know that the majority of autoimmune disease risk & potentially disease progression comes from our environment, then it makes sense to limit our exposure to environmental toxins. I don’t need a randomized, double blind, causative study to tell me that.
Thankfully, safer alternatives exist for decreasing signs of aging like fine lines, wrinkles and loss of elasticity, if you do decide that Botox isn’t the right option for you.
SAFER ANTI-AGING SKINCARE
DIY MICRODERMABRASION FACIAL
This at-home gentle microdermabrasion deeply exfoliates and softens skin, reduces the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, helps with hyperpigmentation from scarring and sun damage.
HOW TO USE: Wet face with warm water. Massage the exfoliating paste gently into your face and neck for 60 seconds, avoiding eyes and mouth. Rinse away with a warm wet wash cloth. Use SPF protection if going out in sun for 24 hours following.
DIY 85% LACTIC ACID PEEL
Skin Obsessions’ 85% Lactic Acid peel resurfaces skin, decreasing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, acne, scarring, hyperpigmentation and dullness. It can be used 1x a week to 1x a month, depending on skin sensitivity and results goal. Follow directions included in your affordable at-home peel package. Use SPF protection if going out in sun for 24 hours following & avoid prolonged sun exposure during this time as well. Do not use if pregnant. I feel comfortable using 1x a month while breastfeeding, but that’s a decision you need to make for yourself.
*If pregnant, avoid the use of salicylic acid peels which contains high percentages of salicylic acid (a member of the aspirin family).
** Glycolic and fruit acid peels are two other safer at-home peel options.
HOW TO USE: Cleanse skin with Cleansing Balm. Apply Radiance Serum followed by Night Cream and Eye Cream. For additional brightening and scar-reducing benefits, apply the No. 1 Brightening Oil prior to the Radiance Serum.
The Skin Actives COQ10 powder is BRIGHT yellow and chock full of antioxidants that help return elasticity and vibrancy to skin. This loose powder needs to be mixed a face oil (this Brightening Oil is incredible for evening skin tone!) and then applied to skin. If using the Rejuvenating Routine above, apply it before the Radiance Serum. If using the Countermatch Routine, apply it last.
DIETARY INTAKE & SUPPLEMENTATION OF OMEGA 3 FISH OIL
Increasing your dietary intake of coldwater fatty fish like wild-caught salmon (my fave!) and small bottom feeders like sardines and mackarel can help restore plumpness and vitality to skin. It is even thought to help with the prevention and reduction of fine lines and wrinkles as well as combat acne with its anti-inflammatory properties.
Dairy-free almond milk frozen yogurt topped with the best grain-free granola that you don’t have to make! It’s even vegan, gluten-free and Paleo-friendly!
I posted this recipe to my Instagram over the weekend after lugging out my stainless steel electronic ice cream maker! It was in hibernation since early fall & we are in the 70s from here on out in Florida now!
I had a container of Kite Hill Almond Milk Yogurt (plain, no sugar added!) in my fridge as well as an open can of coconut cream that needed to be used up! Thankfully, I also had some Purely Elizabeth Grain-Free Banana Nut Granola in my pantry because I couldn’t think of a better topping for this dairy-free frozen yogurt!
This dairy-free frozen yogurt is tart, minimally sweetened and topped with crunchy, flavorful grain-free granola! It even uses sweet potato to make it extra creamy!
The reason why you see me using white sweet potato in my frozen treat recipes is because almond milk and coconut milk have a much higher water content than cream or whole milk usually used in ice cream!
All that fat helps it emulsify and prevent ice crystal formation which causes hardness. The sweet potato helps bind up some of those ice crystals so you get smoother, creamier ice cream without dairy or eggs!
You can flavor your dairy-free frozen yogurt however you’d like! You can blend in strawberries (or top it with cooked strawberries – yum!) or replace the sweet potato with avocado and a handful of spinach for a green smoothie type of frozen yogurt!
Get creative with your add-ins & toppings! I like when you use my recipes as base for your own kitchen experimentations because it helps YOU learn how combine flavors and textures too!
AIP Pizza made with chewy, foldable crust, nightshade-free sauce & dairy-free cheese!
Pizza is a hot button issue for me. After going gluten-free 6 years ago after a girl’s trip to NYC where I dove throat-first into many-a-slice-a-pizza-pie, I still mis it terribly! Pizza is my favorite food… and many of my fellow AIPers favorite food. I’m here to help fulfill your AIP Pizza dreams in anyway I can.
What I hadn’t yet made is your traditional thin crust, bendy, foldable, drunk college style, tomato-y, cheesy pie… um without gluten, dairy, nightshades or eggs.
It kind of freaks me out to even put a recipe on the Internet for pizza that doesn’t include A SINGLE component of true NY-Style pizza. But hey – there’s millions and millions of people in America with autoimmune disease. And we can’t all eat gluten, dairy & nightshades!
Let’s be real – most gluten-free crusts leave a lot to be desired – they’re flavorless, crunchy and ruin the whole pizza experience. This crust however is based very closely on my original thin crust that you guys love so much! I’ve just added gelatin to make it more bendable but it still holds up GREAT!
The toppings, in my humble but accurate opinion, are necessary. Having just the “cheese” and “sauce” wasn’t enough to give me a full-on pizza vibe but adding the sliced kalamata olives, spinach and red onion took it to that level.
YOUR QUESTIONS ANSWERED BEFORE YOU ASK THEM
(BUT FEEL FREE TO ASK ME ANY OTHER QUESTIONS BELOW)
CAN I USE ARROWROOT INSTEAD OF TAPIOCA?
Yes. That was easy. No you can’t use cassava. Nothing replaces coconut flour. No you can’t use ground unicorn balls.
CAN I USE MY OWN SAUCE?
Of course! You can use any homemade sauce but make sure it tastes closer to tomato sauce than not! In fact, make this recipe super easy by using KC Naturals Nomato Sauce instead of the one in the recipe!
WAH. WHY ISN’T THE SAUCE RED?
Because I used carrots instead of tomatoes combined with some other tasty ingredients. If you want red sauce, add no more than 1/4 cup chopped red beets in step 1. It’ll change the flavor slightly but you should get your redder sauce.
CAN I REPLACE THIS WITH THAT?
Yes you can replace the pumpkin with either butternut squash puree or sweet potato puree (for a sweeter sauce).
Yes you can use whatever dried Italian herbs you have on hand – basil, oregano, thyme, marjoram. I just didn’t want to go crazy on the number of ingredients since it’s a 3-part recipe.
Yes you can use 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar in place of the cream of tartar.
Yes you can leave out the probiotic but it helps give it a cheesy flavor. Not all probiotics will be acceptable here – just the one in my recipe because it is yeast based. (See nutritional yeast suggestion below).
Yes you can add 1 tablespoon nutritional yeast to the cheese. I personally don’t tolerate it, so that’s why I used this probiotic.
No you cannot replace the coconut flour with anything else. It is very absorbent and needed in this crust recipe.
No I don’t know how to make this low FODMAP.
And I DEFINITELY don’t know how to make this low carb.
CAN I DOUBLE OR TRIPLE THIS RECIPE FOR MORE THAN 2 PEOPLE?
Yes you can double & triple this recipe for a pizza night! You can either double the crust & cheese recipe and make 1 large pie (still rolled out just as thin) OR you can make 2 separate regular-size pies. If you follow the recipe as written, NO need to double the sauce recipe. There’s enough for 2 pizzas. You will have to double the crust & cheese though!
CAN I MAKE AHEAD EACH COMPONENT?
Yes you can make this ahead. You can make the crust ahead, pre-bake it & freeze it. You can make the sauce ahead of time and store it in the fridge. Same with the cheese (store in fridge, not freezer).
Okay, guys! Get your pizza on – get creative if you want to switch up the toppings. Make it your own! Use this recipe as a base for your AIP pizza dreams & let me know what you do!
+ yes it’s a bit of a time-consuming pizza (that’s what happens when you even have to make your own cheese!) but just make it a fun family or weeknight activity!
Nightshade-free Curry Sweet Potatoes & Fennel even your kids will enjoy! The perfect comforting Whole30 side dish!
Good day, friends! Well today is not such a good day because I am incredibly sleep-deprived with a migraine and a molar-teething toddler, but I’ll fake til I make it… if I ever make it to the end of the day.
We’ve been struggling big time with our sweet little monster for the last couple months as she gains more independence & “NO!” is her most used word after “Mommy”, “Dora” and “I want that”. We’re in the thick of parenting when you question your sanity, resilience & whether or not wine at 11 am is acceptable.
My body is clearly telling me it needs sleep and rest. I talk about the highs & lows of motherhood a lot on Instagram (where you can get to know me a lot better) and how difficult it is to take care of yourself as a mother. Add a chronic autoimmune disease that flares during times of stress, and life just got a bit more complicated.
Today I’m sharing the little doses of self-care I sprinkle throughout my day to manage motherhood & autoimmunity.
ASK FOR HELP. I asked my husband to get up at 4 am so I can try to sleep off this migraine. I asked him to give me a neck rub to help with the neck pain. I asked my mom to drive 3 hours next week to come help out for a few days. The days are over when I think I can do everything on my own. I am no longer resistant to asking for help. It’s how I keep my head above water & it’s allowed my husband to become equally involved in parenting rather than it just being “my thing as the stay-at-home mom”.
GO OUTSIDE. This is a big one for me. I can feel the tension and stress release from my body when I get outside. This morning I took my dog for a 30 minute walk while my husband took care of getting her dressed and ready for the day. I came back a bit more refreshed & our messed up circadian rhythm benefit greatly from early morning sunlight.
FUTURE FUN. I make sure to have something to look forward to the in the near-ish future that is all my own. For example, I have a Napa trip planned with my sister and a good friend for March. I’ll also be taking a couple more trips this year for my Beautycounter business.
Heck, even planning my February safer beauty gifts is a fun outlet for me that gives back to others while also doing something for myself. Other days, I plan a fun workout for later in the evening once my husband gets home, and I truly look forward to that time all day. I need an “out” – knowing that every week I am able to focus on myself and let the anxieties and difficulties of parenthood drift to the back of my mind.
EAT WHAT MY BODY IS ASKING FOR. There’s a reason I don’t do nutrition challenges (although this recipe is Whole30 compliant since I know many of you gain benefit from those) or restrict my food choices any further than I need to to maintain my health and autoimmune disease status.
Each day I wake up needing something different. For example, this morning I had an early breakfast (since I’d been up since 5 am) of kale, rice, chicken and asparagus. It held me over for a few hours but by 10 am I was hungry enough for another mini meal, so I had chicken, sweet potatoes and kale.
In Paleo culture, eating mini-meals and snacks and carbs at every meal is frowned upon. I 100% do not care or follow anyone else’s advice on when or what I should eat besides my own internal cues. This has allowed me to maintain variety in my diet, not feel restricted or guilty if I don’t ‘follow a plan perfectly’ and to eat truly intuitively.
Now, I may not be hungry again until dinner in another 7 hours – who knows! Don’t beat yourself up over how you’re fueling yourself during these difficult early years of motherhood. And on a side note, I also do not strive to be fat-adapted. I’ve been fat-adapted before and I’ve been sugar-adapted, and I personally find a very minimal difference between the two. In fact, I am able to maintain and lose weight better when I’m eating carbs, recover better from workouts, and am less likely to feel the symptoms of adrenal fatigue. Everyone’s body won’t react that way, but according to my genetic testing, I do well with both a high fat and high carb diet, and I would agree with that based on my own experiences. That makes eating intuitively a whole lot easier when I’m not restricting an entire macronutrient or feeling “bad” that I ate rice and sweet potatoes in the same day.
I hope the above tips help in some way – at least in giving you comfort knowing you’re not alone in the feeling of overwhelm that comes along with motherhood. It’s not easy to take care of yourself when your heart is much more invested in your baby, but implementing just a few doses of “me time” each day can be the difference between losing our patience & keeping steady and calm for our children.
Oh and about this side dish! It is incredibly easy, flavorful & nutrient dense and tastes delicious cold the next day, if you’re like me & eat lunch out of the serving dish standing at the kitchen counter while your kid has 10 minutes left of their nap 😉 If you’re AIP, simply omit the cumin!