I have been asked by my good friend Laura Paul to share “just one thing” I have changed in my life on my journey to health and natural wealth. This has been a very hard thing to do. ONE thing- and it has to be a small thing!? Over the last 15 years or so in my journey I have changed so many things. Foods, beliefs, thoughts, routines, exercise goals, body shapes and sizes and have also had two kids- so pinpointing one thing, thats tough!
So here is what I have come up with…I think that the fundamental change I have made to my life (since I have to pick ONE!) is that I have changed how I think about myself and my abilities. If you change how you think, you change how you feel and if you change how you feel it affects all your choices.
Yesterday I was thinking about all the years I punished my body. I was conditioned to believe that I could only get what I want by punishing myself . My body was not good enough, fast enough or small enough in the right places. I needed to train more, heavier and harder; I needed to concentrate more, be less selfish, be more organised, more pushy, get out there more, be classier, smarter, funnier, prettier, less lazy and I definitely needed to eat less. I needed to beat, starve, and berate myself to get the results I was looking for.
By changing this one thing, everything changed. I was bashed, bruised, sore, scared and vulnerable. I totally changed how I saw myself and what needed to be done. I was so mortified about how I had become someone so eager to please everyone else that I was deeply miserable myself. Meeting my husband helped me through this and he showed me that to be in a loving relationship or friendship you don’t NEED the other person to complete you. A strong partner didn’t mean a strong me because I could lean on him. I realised that two strong people, capable of making themselves happy first was an awesome combination. That when you don’t NEED the other person, you are not disappointed or relying on them for anything except partnership. That the person who may need to change is not them, but you.
The other thing I used in abundance was my Bach Flower Remedies (EFT came much later). First Rescue Remedy, then my own remedy combinations. These sets of armour have really helped me to heal and repair in safety and love. For myself. By allowing me to see myself differently I was able to turn nastiness into nurturing, pushing into guiding, hating to loving.
So there you have it- grab some rescue remedy and start seeing yourself differently and let me know what you change!
As you can probably tell I am very passionate about kids nutrition. It starts with pre-conception. Feeding ourselves before we have kids, while we are pregnant and then in breastfeeding and of course what we wean our kids onto; is extremely important for their health. Food provides nutrients for new cell formation and therefore supports the baby’s fast growth and development. Plus nourishing their relationship with food in a positive and fun way can provide them with a healthy understanding of what real food is and how great you can feel after eating real food.
Todays question is one that I am often asked and am happy to answer.
Can you please give me a list of foods that are great for babies to start off with.
Babies do not necessarily absorb nutrients from foods for the first year. Breastmilk is designed to do that. Formula attempts to do the same. The first 6 months of a child physically eating, is not necessarily to nourish them but to help them to acquire basic and necessary skills to eat. A relationship which is lifelong and should be encouraged. Eat for fun until they are one is very true.
The main thing to consider is that at weaning age babies may have some the enzymes to digest some proteins and fats. However until the age of 2 (or until the child’s back molars have come through) grains are not yet digestible. Baby Rice is one of the worst things you can ever give a baby as its first foods! Not only is it the by-product of industry but also the nutrients that may possibly be in it are completely unavailable. They may be full up- but they have not eaten it themselves and because it is a food that the body cannot recognise it may also ignite some inflammation. Especially if the baby is formula fed.
Fermented foods are so important at this stage and especially if the baby is formula fed. Water Kefir (see here to make it and my book Culture Your Life) is safe to use adding up to a tsp in their food a day. Please consult your naturopath if your child was a c-section, formula fed baby showing some digestive weakness (colic, reflux, intolerances, excess gas).
Gelatin is also nice to add to your baby’s food. Especially if there are any intolerances showing or skin conditions. Gelatin is anti-inflammatory but also hugely necessary for structural growth and development- so crucial for children. This is the one I like (find it at The Body Group if you are in Hong Kong) for first foods as it doesn’t set so can be sprinkled over fruit or cooled steamed veg.
Instead start with these traditional baby’s first foods-
ghee (even for those kids with a potential dairy issue- ghee is just the fat),
These foods can be fun for the kids to pick up, smear onto their trays and work out how to get it into their mouth, move it around their mouth (a babys instinct is to push food out of their mouth- at this stage it has very little to do with flavour)
I then move on to Foods that are hard enough to be picked up, but soft enough to help them start to chew.;
I also introduce chia (1tsp to 2 tsp coconut water, breastmilk or water)
(If you have to give them rice, lentils, chickpeas then ensure they are prepared traditionally; that they have been soaked before and cook it in bone broth)
I always eat in front of my kids as they learn by mimicking and copying whatever they see in front of them. I help them, I allow them to take the lead and I let them enjoy it.
With kids time is essential. Allow your child time and space to learn how to eat and enjoy their food. If it looks like they don’t like something, let them try it again and again. Encourage them to try. Give them some food off your plate and if possible be eating the same food as them. Be careful to notice how you act around foods- they will copy you. Be mindful about how you talk about them eating- they are listening!
Never ever say; you don’t like it, you won’t like it he/she won’t eat that.
The Immune system is a complex balancing act. The body is constantly reacting to changes in the internal and external environment, constantly morphing and adapting to maintain optimal health. Boosting the immune system is simple using natural methods and also extremely effective. Prolonged disease is an effect of the immune system either being interrupted by external forces (which can make the situation worse) or will not switch off (due to stress, digestive weakness, lack of bacteria, lack of key nutrients like fats and so on).
The body has several inbuilt innate responses primarily designed to keep the body safe and alive. The Fight or Flight mode is paired with the Rest and Recovery mode exactly for this. When there is a perceived threat to the body, the fight and flight mode is switched on to divert all resources to the muscles to do what they have to do. All other healing, nourishing, developing jobs are switched off for the time being to best use energy resources to do what is necessary- fight or flight (run like the wind). Rest and recovery takes over when the situation is safe and all the healing and repairing and growing can then take place again.
However in today’s society what we do not appreciate is that the brain does not distinguish between actual threat and subconscious threat. For example driving in your car- even without traffic and road rage is actually quite stressful for the subconscious- you are in a tin can travelling at speed with things also travelling at speed around you. This is perceived by the subconscious mind even if the conscious mind is singing along to the radio. This is also true of public transport- living in a block of flats above ground level, air travel, being in close proximity to strangers either in a shopping mall or even just walking along the street.
What we also choose to ignore is the way we speak to ourselves also gives signals to the brain about perceived threat-
These examples will promote a fight or flight response. So on an emotional level ensuring that you take some time in your day to feel safe, to feel calm and free from obligation, to really focus our minds of restoring blood flow and repairing the body through visualisation or focus on breath is such a simple way to bring back the rest and recover mode. This is the first and most important thing we need to do for optimal health and our immune system.
Rest and Recovery is the only time the immune system can kick in and do some very necessary repair work. It is why we always get sick after a long period of stress or when on holiday. Being sick (inflammation, heat, pain and swelling) is the body’s method of healing. When we are on holiday we have time to rest and do the big work we have been putting off. It is not an ideal situation and is always considered such a pain but really by promoting these functions in the body we can speed up the healing process rather than suppressing it to enjoy yourself on holiday or to just get through the holiday. Consider that by making small changes in your daily life can make a holiday more enjoyable as there is not as much healing the body needs to do as you have taken the time each day to catch up with any healing that needs to be done.
Inflammation is key to healing and the immune system- it is the way the body puts up barriers to shield off the area needing repair. By allowing the inflammation, heat (fever), pain and swelling to be like a no go area (like when resurfacing a road) you are allowing that area to get what it needs. By ignoring these symptoms and suppressing them with anti-histamines, anti-inflammatories, pain killers, steroids, antibiotics and so many other methods you are prolonging the area the time and resources it needs to heal and return to optimum health
Read my book Culture Your Life about Kefir and Kombucha. It includes recipes for food, drinks, cosmetics and household cleaners that can really boost and change your body for longer than a probiotic powder.
I have been asked some great questions this week- I chose these questions to answer publicly because so many of you will be eating out on holiday and may struggle with how to make healthy choices.
When you eat out, where do you go and what do you choose;
I grew up (and now live again) in Asia. When I moved to London for university when others reached for roast dinners for comfort food- I always went for Dim Sum or Thai/vietnamese food. It is still my food of choice when eating out.
When we eat have dim sum so I generally have a veg dish (choi sum/bak choi in garlic or the beans with pork) and a couple of meat dishes (like stir fried beef or chicken). We also love prawns and broccoli. I am grain free for now, to reduce some inflammation but we always have a couple of dumplings (shanghai, har gau, char sui so being our favourite) However I don’t miss them and feel a lot less tired and foggy after the meal without them. I have not been eating the rice or noodles anymore. However when I am only gluten free I love a pho with rice noodles.
I eat a lot of vietnamese and thai food without the rice- so we have lots of the pork lettuce rolls, sweet chilli squid, coconut based green/red/yellow curry’s without the rice and satay. We also love the pomelo and papaya salads.
If we have japanese food I will have miso, sashimi, I can rarely turn down a soft shell crab and mango roll! We also have asparagus rolled in pork at our favourite restaurant. I also love the curry sauce beef and noodle soup. The udon noodles have wheat flour so I generally leave them!
If we go to a pizza/pasta place I generally will have a steak or ribs. There is almost always a meat and veg option. I tend to also avoid potatoes and ask for some broccoli (most restaurants have broccoli!) However if I fancy something I generally have it- but I since I feel so crappy and tired after it I generally don’t fancy most of it anymore! I don’t find restaurant salads filling enough so I may order a side to go with it. However there are so many great places to eat nowadays that have yummy options for those looking to reduce refined carbohydrates (especially bread and pasta).
Lunches are normally salads- when I get a salad I want a good source of protein- normally smoked salmon, steak or chicken is available. Then I choose a nut/seed like pumpkin seeds or slivered almonds. A salad will also always have avocado in it. I also love beets, artichokes, pumpkin, broccoli and maybe a feta cheese. Dressing wise- lemon vinegarette is normally enough for me and I use these coconut oil sachets too to boost the oil content! This way if I get stuck I can normally find something to eat.
I am not celiac so these choices may not be suitable for those who are celiac- however I ensure that the days I eat out I compensate for with my other meals and I increase my kefir/kombucha consumption on these days. I realise there will most probably contain wheat in these meals- in the sauces and fillers- I make sure I enjoy whatever I choose as his is important for digestion and realise that giving myself a hard time or stressing about what to eat can actually cause more harm than good. I live by the mantra- I look after and am mindful about my food 80% of the time and for the remaining 20% can look after itself. Most days I eat 100% mindful.
Can you recommend some foods I can take with me on holiday? I find breakfast is the hardest to eat healthy when away.
There are certain things I always take with me. I always have a ziplock bag with chia in it. This can be sprinkled over fruit to help create a balanced meal. I also like to sprinkle this gelatine in the kids juice and over their fruit. This can minimise the sugar impact. Also great in tea or coffee. Although I always bring my own Tulsi and Rooibos tea bags. I also take some of my grain free granola in a bag for the kids. They generally have bircher muesli in most hotels but my kids (i really mean just my daughter) can be really particular about what she will eat in her muesli!
I normally have an omelette (see above- I love it with extra butter) or ask for fried or poached eggs (if you are worried that it is a reconstituted egg mix they are using for the omelettes this is a good option). I also always travel with my kefir grains (normally my water grains) as I can use them to ferment milk and water kefir. This way it is easy so I won’t worry too much about consuming dairy as normally the dairy substitute is soy (I would actually prefer milk over soy milk any day- heres why!).
To make the kefir I either buy some juice (normally pineapple or coconut water), or I bring coconut sugar in a ziplock (I also use the cane sugar in the hotel or place I am staying), and I have a mini tea strainer to strain the grains. It is so simple to continue to ferment whilst away (and it really helps with jet lag too).
I always dry fruit to take with use for the kids to snack on- it is normally easy to find fruit/nuts for them when away but it is always useful to have something in the room if you don’t want to go to breakfast straight away. Beef Jerky fills that hole really well too and travels really well since it is also fermented (I use Kefir in the marinade) I also make energy balls as they travel well. Popcorn is another great travel snack (here is our favourite flavour), However my favourite one are these individual coconut butter (here and here is a chocolate one), individual peanut butter or almond butter sachets which are perfect on their own or on some apple. Also if there really only is bread- at least these will add some much needed nutrition!!
I get loads of great questions from you all. I want to share some of the answers too since some of the questions are very similar sometimes and we can all benefit from a good old Q and A session once a week!
If you have a question for me to answer please either email me or raise it by contacting me through twitter, facebook or g+. I look forward to seeing how I can help…
This weeks question;
Since having children (like many other mums I’m sure) I have started to think about what we eat much more carefully and try to ensure that my kids eat home-made, organic food most of the time, although this is not always easy where I live. The air pollution is driving me nuts and really stresses me out and I just wondered what advice you have to help little bodies process toxins, and what I can do to boost their immune systems?
I am already hiding kale, chia seeds and flax seed meal in everything, giving them macro cocoa greens, reducing gluten and trying to minimise sugar, but I just wondered what your top super foods / supplements would be? What about other ways to reduce the toxic load? I use a more natural toothpaste, natural sunscreen, plant-based shampoos, natural cleaning products etc but don’t make anything myself in terms of products. I guess what I asking is for your top ten tips on how to pollution proof my kids!
Here’s what Loula says!
Thanks for a great question. Pollution is a worldwide environmental impact that we have some control over. here would be my top 10 tips…
1. Natural air purifiers; Air purifiers can actually stress the body out. The body is a well tuned machine with inbuilt systems to process and eliminate toxins. We are designed to live in harmony with our environment and whilst I agree that there are countries/cities with a higher amount of particles in the air and our bodies need support- by creating a bubble with an air-purifier may actually stress the body out more than you appreciate (not to mention increase environmental impact with their energy needs).
Just like our body suffers from the constant changes from aircon/humid heat or heating/cold outside air, the body suffers from going from purified air to normal environment. Especially when the purifier is also eradicating all bacterial elements as well. Balanced bacteria as I will mention later is key to helping the body process and eliminate (or detox) toxins on a daily basis. Instead we should be focusing on trying to reduce our environmental impact everyday to do our small part to help heal the planet. Buy some natural air-purifiers- plants, salt lamps, use aromatherapy diffusers as a natural air freshener and ionisers instead.
2. Reduce environmental toxins that can be controlled. This means reducing all chemical cleaners and cosmetics. Also consider the chemicals your clothes have gone through before you bought them. Your home can actually contain more chemicals than your outer environment. All plastics, paints, cd’s, furniture and fire retardants used on carpets, mattresses and so on all release fumes into the air.
You can reduce this with the above natural air-purifiers but also by reducing any further chemical impact. Natural household cleaners are very simple to make. Culture Your Life is full of my recipes; including toilet cleaner, bath and shower cleaner (which is important to me because the kids sit in the bath every night), laundry detergent, veggie and fruit wash (as I can’t buy everything organic!) and multi-purpose cleaner (see my recipe here on Good Girl Gone Green. I also use a chemical free dish washing liquid. Steam cleaners are very effective and naturally effective.
3. Water is a huge cleanser and supports the body to help eliminate toxins. However most of our water supply is also devoid of balanced bacteria and teaming with chemicals. Chlorine and fluoride amongst others are going to have an effect on chemical impact. There are many different filtration systems. Drinking water can be re-mineralised with mineral drops, standing water on the side for a few minute can allow chlorine to evaporate. Fermenting the water is a key way to support the body.
Baths can be massively enhanced with epsom salts or himalayan salt, calendula tincture or cooled chamomile/calendula tea, lavender (or other aromatherapy oils), kefir and coconut oil/sweet almond oil. I ensure my kids bathe in a combination of these every night. The water not only supports the body but it also serves as their shampoo!
4. Fermented foods are the best way to consume balanced bacteria. Proven to boost the immune system and support the liver bacteria has so many roles in the body- some of which we still do not completely understand. A nice way of balancing your environment is using a kefir hand sanitiser (recipe in Culture Your Life), a room spray with kefir/kombucha and aromatherapy oils, as well as consuming them and using them as cleaners and cosmetics (there are many companies trying to use bacteria in their cosmetics nowadays!) See my post about it here on Thank Your Body. As a natural barrier a kefir sprayed on the skin for example after swimming can really make a difference (after swimming spray recipe can be found in Culture Your Life)
5. Sea vegetables are a very effective chelator of radiation and heavy metals. Chorella and spirulina are examples which you can get in a good green powder (I can help you source a good one- however raw organic ones are a good starting point- I like this one here) but also Kombu. Kombu can be added to soups, stews, stocks, sauces as a great seasoning and then may be removed before eating. Seaweed snacks are a great way to consume sea veg, however check your ingredients labels as many contain undesirable oils and msg. The cleanest one I have found is here or here depending on how you feel about sunflower oil. In Hong Kong I buy the organic one from Green Dot Dot or nori sheets from iDetox
6. Liver support is also important especially if alongside environmental toxins antibiotics or other pharmaceuticals like anti-histamines, anti-inflammatories or other medications are used on a regular basis. Glutamine, gelatin, milk thistle and bacteria (of course!) are good starting points. Anti-oxidants like vitamin c and vitamin a rich foods are also a good to include.
7. Immune support/Anti-inflammatory nutrients are key. Daily intakes of these nutrients can help support the body to do its job. Stress and inflammation go hand in hand so helping the body reduce some internal stress by providing nurturing nutrients is great when trying to prevent illness. This elderberry cordial is a great immune tonic and is very simple to make as is this honey and onion cough syrup (it tastes way nice than it sounds. Turmeric tea is also a great and effective way of moderating inflammation and is a great anti-oxidant and immune support.
Gelatin is also anti-inflammatory and I know my kids just love these Kefir Gummies (making them with the elderberry cordial makes them a double bonus!). You can make them with anything- here are my more adult coffee ones with kefir but I have also made chocolate ones and all sorts of fruit flavours using fruit puree. For anti-inflammatory and immune support try lemon, ginger and honey with kefir or berry puree and kefir! Fats are also a very important anti-inflammatory and immune supportive nutrients especially coconut oil. This can be used internally (a spoonful a day which can be added to smoothies, juices, nut milks) or externally on the skin as a natural barrier.
There is also interesting research that showed bees in more polluted areas actually provide support form those environmental pollutants in their honey. If you can find raw local honey (here is the Hong Kong Source) a spoonful of this will be a great addition to immune health. I dont suppose anyone will have trouble convincing a child to eat a spoonful of this (immune boosting) sugar!!
Vitamin D is also a key immune supportive nutrient. I recommend this product as it is easy to take and has all the nutrient co-factors that make it very absorbable. However a good intake of organic cultured or raw butter/ghee (get ghee here or here in Hong Kong) can also help increase vitamin d intake as it is a fat soluble nutrient. Also get out in the sunshine- the eyes actually process a big amount of vit d so allowing kids some time in the sunshine without any sunscreen/hats/sunglasses for a period of time (about 15-40 mins depending on skin colour and sun intensity) can be very beneficial (WARNING; never allow your skin to burn!)
8. The stress of pollution doing damage may actually be more damaging than the actual pollution itself! Stress maintains inflammation and therefore can actually weaken the digestive system and immune system. Emotion Freedom Technique (EFT- here is my experience with it) is a key way I have changed my core belief towards many limiting factors in my life. Halting life with fear keeps the body in stagnation and restricts enjoyment of life. Children will pick up on this and it will be built into their core belief system too. We can quickly and easily change this with EFT for us and the kids. EFT has been seen to change both physical and emotional impacts and imbalances.
9. Bach flower Remedies are another route to help clear the body of negative residues. Bach believed that all physical issues have an emotional starting point. Most of the damage of pollution is based on fear, fear leads to conscious and subconscious stress. As above- releasing these emotions is key to health. Simply using rescue remedy on a daily basis can help. It can be added to water too for ease of kids taking it- although mine love getting the spray! You can also contact your local Bach Flower Practitioner (me if I am local to you) to get a personal blend made up with some positive affirmations for go with them and move you forward energetically and also physically.
10. Other supportive treatments like homeopathy, bioresonance, acupuncture, herbal remedies, reflexology, massage (especially lymphatic drainage) and breathing (yoga, meditation, exercise) can all be massively beneficial to support the body physically, emotionally and energetically. Do something you love doing and don’t allow fear to keep you indoors. Coughs are the body’s way of getting foreign matter out of the body- never fear a cough or suppress it. Rosemary and thyme are great expectorants to help the body lift the phlem up and out!
Hope this helps and although I have had other questions this week I think this covers a few of them…