What is a holistic patient advocate? As someone who was the victim of medical errors, I am passionate about my new role. I was misdiagnosed and spent years on a medication I had no business being on. This is one reason why I choose to become a certified holistic patient advocate. I’ll explain what this means, and how it can help you.
Learn how to making cooking with kids in the kitchen more fun every day. Engage their senses, teaching them how to chop, and make them meal planners.
Welcome to this week’s Weekend Wellness edition. Grab your smoothie or a cup of tea and dig in!
Happy May. I don’t know about you, but I am just so excited for the new month and warmer days ahead. Fresh air and sunshine make staying at home a whole lot easier.
Last week we spent time in the garden before all the rain arrived. We have the following in the ground so far.
-lettuce greens, spinach, kale, bok choy (from seed)
-seedings of more kale, swiss chard, and spinach
Today we are planting our cabbage, cilantro, beetroot and lavender. And I have to order my breakfast radish seeds. I’ve been finding them sold out in a lot of places that we typically get seeds from. The kids will help us pick out some spots for our wild flower seeds to help attract all the bees to the garden.
And we had our first asparagus pop up this week. Celebrating the small wins everyday.
Here’s my wrap up of worthwhile things to read and events ahead. I may catch the pilates celebration later as I plan to be outside ALL DAY.
Today is International Pilates Day. Join my favorite instructor Robin from The Balanced Life at 11:30 EST for a free class. Grab all the details here to access the class.
Milk Street is offering their online cooking classes free thru May 31. What a fun way to get inspired in the kitchen!
Did you know garden focaccia bread is a thing?
I signed up today for the Academy of Culinary Nutrition Masterclass, and you can too. This was an in-person event I was planning to attend in Toronto to visit my friends in the Great North. Now the conference is going virtual and the topic is Resilience. Could it have been any more timely? Sign up for the live call, or the live call with recordings. (my pick) There is an incredible line up of speakers and I’m excited to get some new info to help us maintain our good health in the season ahead.
Don’t know what to cook for dinner? Try this fun pantry recipe finder tool with Epicurious!
Can we say it’s officially rosé season? I’m hoping you all join me and say YES! Grab one of our two new rosé vintages, though my pick is the French L’Original from Provence of course.🇫🇷 Did you notice we share the Residual Sugar for each bottle? That refers to how much juice sugar is left in the wine after the fermentation is complete. You might understand why I recommend L’Original so much.
Enjoy your weekend ahead. Join me over on Instagram and I’ll share some planting and baking pics over the weekend. I’ll be making caramelized onions in the slow cooker to pair with burgers on the grill tonight! Thanks for reading this week’s Weekend Wellness!
My top 5 supplements for immune support have been a part of my healthy foundation for years. I’ve never been so grateful for having a plan to stay healthy, in any season. During cold and flu season, we need to do everything possible to keep ourselves feeling our best to better fight any signs of infection. Today I’m giving you a peek inside my medicine cabinet.
If you have ever glazed over with decision fatigue in the supplement aisle or while researching about what supplements to take then you are not alone. We have limited daily capacity and energy to make decisions. Based on the research, it is easier to decide if you have limited choices, in the morning, and after you’ve eaten a healthy breakfast.
My Favorite Immune Supporting Supplements
I can help you by limiting your options based on my extensive research and experience in the field of culinary nutrition. So, no falling victim to overwhelm here, I’m going to help you outsmart it.
Before we dive in I want to remind you that supplements can’t make up for poor health habits and I recommend 5 super simple ways to boost your immune system as your foundation. Please, start with the basics and you will have an easier time deciding which supplements are vital to your unique body and lifestyle.
Starting with a food-based multivitamin and multimineral is one of the easiest and simplest ways to get what your body needs. But, if you need extra during times of illness then supplementing is a great option. Here’s what I suggest – vitamin D3 (actually a hormone), vitamin C, zinc, and magnesium.
Let’s talk about the number 1 most important supplement first – the sunshine hormone! Did you even know that vitamin D3 is technically a hormone?! Ideally, we are designed to make enough D3 through sun exposure. But, in the winter months in the Northern Hemisphere it is hard to get enough, and supplementing is often necessary; especially since a vitamin D3 deficiency results in a suppressed immune response as well as issues with low mood.
I live in the North East where it is easy to get low in vitamin D3 over the winter, so I turn to supplements to feel my best and avoid getting sick. I am not alone either, it turns out that about 40% of the population is deficient in vitamin D3 and two of the biggest signs that you are low in D3 is if you are prone to catching colds more often or if your mood gets low in the winter months. Neither of which are fun to deal with.
Since our bodies make vitamin D3 via sun exposure, the best way to get your levels up is to increase your sun exposure to 30 minutes twice a week. Of course, with all the sunscreen we wear in the warmer months, this can get tricky. You can also get your levels up to optimal by incorporating vitamin D3 rich foods such as cod liver oil, fatty fish, and eggs into your diet and by supplementing when needed.
As always, I advocate for meeting nutritional needs naturally as much as possible but if you suspect you need a supplement to boost your D3 levels then it is recommended to get your blood levels checked so you can dose properly. If you aren’t able to get a blood test right away you can certainly follow the current RDA for vitamin D which is 600 IU for children and adults 1-70 years.
Some functional medical doctors suggest much higher doses or around 2,000 IUs a day, which still falls below the suggested upper limit of 4,000 IUs. If you are going to take a dose beyond the RDA, I suggest you work with your doctor to determine the safest dosage as there can be negative side effects from too high of a dose including digestive pain, nausea, increased thirst, and kidney stones.
One last note on this important supplement, it’s easy to absorb in liquid form. This is the Vitamin D + K2 that I use myself daily.
Next up is another key vitamin for immune health – Vitamin C. It’s an antioxidant superstar and sweeps up free radicals that damage cells and it also supports the production and function of white blood cells. It’s known to reduce symptoms and shorten the duration of the common cold and viral pneumonia-related hospital stays. I will raise a mug of warm lemon water to that!
There are so many ways to get vitamin C via food and I always suggest you start with diet. Check on my top foods to fight the cold and flu to learn which ones we add into our diet when we get a hint of the sniffles.
But sometimes we need a boost, especially if we are deficient in vitamin C or facing illness. In that case, it’s helpful to supplement. The current RDA for vitamin C is 75mg for adult women and 90mg for adult men. Higher doses have been used in hospital settings and by functional medical doctors with great success as well, but if you are not fighting a viral infection that is endangering your life then megadosing is not necessary.
Have you ever tried slamming zinc lozenges when you get a cold to minimize the duration? You aren’t the only one; it’s commonly known that zinc is supportive of immune health. But, did you know that you need this metal daily for your body to function optimally? Zinc deficiency is really common, especially if you eat a plant-based diet.
Ideally, you will get your zinc from your diet and the best food sources of zinc are lamb, grass-fed beef, chickpeas, pumpkin seeds, chicken, eggs, mushrooms, salmon and cacao powder. The last one makes me happy! Anyone else want to eat dark chocolate and drink hot cacao to help ward off colds?! Sign me up.
Now, if you are deficient despite eating a zinc-rich diet then supplementing is a wonderful way to get this vital metal. The RDA for zinc is 11 milligrams/day for men and 8 milligrams/day for women. In times of illness up to 20mg of zinc, a day is recommended to support the immune system. Men especially tend to be low in zinc, and it can affect their fertility as well.
I call this the “mom” vitamin. If there’s isn’t enough magnesium, nothing works great. Remember it this way, if mama isn’t happy, no one is happy. Magnesium is a mineral and electrolyte that many of us don’t associate with the immune system but it plays a key role in over 300 biochemical processes in the body.
A magnesium deficiency is associated with inflammation and apoptosis (cell death), neither of which are good for the immune system. And, as we age a magnesium deficiency is often associated with an increase in susceptibility to viruses.
A delightful way to increase magnesium levels is to take frequent Epsom salt baths before going to bed. While this method is luxurious it still may not be enough to fix a deficiency. In that case, you need to supplement using the RDA of 420 milligrams for men and 320 milligrams for women. There’s a lot of different kinds of magnesium and I share resources with my clients about which types are the best match with their symptoms or diagnosis.
Ongoing Immune Support
I hope you’ve made it through without getting that dreaded feeling of overwhelm and decision fatigue. The world of supplements can be truly hard to navigate. It helps to remember that building a strong and intelligent immune system begins with diet and lifestyle. And, if you suspect you are deficient in vitamin D3, C, zinc, or magnesium then you can always get a blood test that reveals your levels and then work with your doctor to pinpoint exactly what works best for your body.
What I want you to be most aware of is that deficiencies in vitamin D3, zinc, and magnesium are very common and you need optimal levels to have a thriving immune system…and body in general. So, if your daily multivitamin/multimineral doesn’t cover the RDA values and you are getting sick often and just not feeling your best then it is time to investigate further.
*This info is for educational purposes only. Please work with your own functional medicine provider to determine the best supplement plan for your own individual needs.
Today is a bonus day. One extra day we don’t see for another four years. I thought I would use this day to share what inspired me, delighted me and encouraged me this past month. Spring is around the corner and I’m excited to flip the calendar page tomorrow.
What inspired you this month?
- What started as a fun Instagram idea for #waterwednesday has turned into a fun beverage to fill the gap between coffee and wine.
2. Trying to learn a new skill is hard, but worth it. I decided to sign up for the Modern Calligraphy Summit this month. I have enjoyed seeing people create wonderful businesses through the gift of lettering. Call me curious so I’m giving lettering a whirl. It’s a lot harder than it looks…
3. The bullet journal is working for me. My way. It’s not the real way, but it’s a tidy place for me to categorize all the random information I learn from magazines, blogs, conversations with friends and such. (I use the Kate Spade spiral notebook.)
4. At Mine is like Pinterest of old…pretty pictures without screaming headlines. Take a peek if you like to look at pretty interior design pictures. It’s also another way to shop directly from a picture.
5. Aqua is my happy color. I cleaned out my Martha Stewart office supplies and when I get a glimpse of this color it remind me of summer. I did the same thing under my kitchen sink with fun baskets. Who knew throwing out the trash could spark joy? (image source)
To round out what I’m into this month:
Reading: Station Eleven and listening to Daring Greatly
Listening: Finally switched to Spotify since Pandora doesn’t work in Canado (boo!). Love the Peace playlist when the kids are rowdy. Also loving the What Should I Read Next Podcast.
Watching: Billions. Great show so far. Also loved the movie Burnt.
See what’s inspiring others over at Leigh Kramer this week.
Ready for March?
A few people have asked about what we pack in our Yumbox lunches. These are our favorite lunch boxes, both for ease of use and how cute they are. They come in a variety of colors and inserts so you can customize it to the age of your child.
When packing the boxes, it’s best to break it down into categories. The Yumbox makes it easy for you by reminding you of the categories in their inserts. Protein, dairy, vegetables, fruits and grains. So simple, right?
We own both the panino (sandwich friendly) insert and also the original bento box version. I use them both so frequently I can’t say I love one over the other. We have the blue and the pink box.
Here are some ideas of what to pack for each category.
- Cold cuts rolled up
- Rotisserie chicken
- Beans (chick peas are kid friendly)/Legumes
- Hard boiled eggs
- Sunflower seeds/sunbutter
- Sulfite free pepperoni sticks
- Cheese stick
- Cheese cubed
- Yogurt- plain or greek flavored with honey is better than the presweetened variety
- Cottage cheese
- Ricotta with honey
- Grapes-check for seedless variety
- Cucumber- English is better for packing
- Cherry Tomatoes
- Pita bread
- Crackers/rice crackers
- Popcorn- (homemade)
- Whole wheat bread/bagels
- Rice cakes
- Homemade mini muffins/breads
Pin the image to save for those mornings when you just can’t think of what to pack!
What else do you like to pack in your kid’s lunch box?
Note: I’ve bought all my Yumboxes myself. Love them. The links in here are affiliate links, which means if you decide to purchase one the site receives a small commission. Thanks!
Efficiency May Not be the Answer I was Looking For
As some of you know, I recently took a family vacation for a week to Disney world and to visit family. Throughout the week I read the new book Notes from a Blue Bike: The Art of Living Intentionally in a Chaotic World written by my favorite blogger Tsh Oxenreider. It has felt like everyone is talking about living a more intentional, or mindful, life as 2014 begins. It’s even on the cover of Time magazine this month. I too have been feeling a tug to slow down and allow for more space in my life to savor all the wonderful people in it. Reading this book on vacation was a wonderful first step.
The book is divided up into the following categories:
It was the first book in a while that kept me up late at night reading. Maybe it was the relaxed vacation mode, but I just devoured what Tsh had to say about slowing down our pace in life. Her story unfolds in Turkey as we learn about how different our American culture is in terms of how we value our time, food sources and resources. In America, we value EFFICIENCY. Just scroll though Pinterest to see how many posts are proclaiming “How to be More Productive.” I generally rate a day based on how many things I cross off my to-do list. Reading this book, and thinking about our slow days at the beach, are making me rethink how I view my idea of “productive.”
As a parent, there is a natural amount of chaos and to-do’s that exists in our lives. However, we can control more of how we manage the chaos than we give ourselves credit for. Take birthday parties for instance. Over vacation we celebrated two of the kid’s birthdays. After giving the kids the gift of Disney, we realized that they didn’t need to have additional parties. Although it’s not the norm, after reading the book I felt better about my decision to swim upstream and do what’s right for our family. In our case, it’s keeping things simple.
So if you are inclined to slow down the path of your life and enjoy the one life you have, hop on the blue bike and settle in for some wonderful words. Put down the phone/email/Pinterest/Facebook/Twitter/etc. and just read. You may find you don’t want all those distractions in your life.
Here’s the video that I saw months ago before the book came out. It’s delightful and it may inspire you to make a change.
Notes From a Blue Bike is written by Tsh Oxenreider, founder and main voice of The Art of Simple. It doesn’t always feel like it, but we DO have the freedom to creatively change the everyday little things in our lives so that our path better aligns with our values and passions. Grab your copy here. I was provided an advance copy to review but all opinions shared here are my own. All Amazon links are affiliate links. Find more at #notesfromabluebike
In the four months since I’ve had my third baby, I’ve realized that making time to exercise is rather challenging. There is just more of everything else to do…laundry, cooking, cleaning, playing with another little being, and the list goes on. I’ve also realized that when I am able to sneak in some exercise, I feel a lot better throughout the rest of the day. So here I am trying to pull together some tips and reminders for myself on how I can create some time to exercise with the kids.
One of the reasons I am paying more attention to my workout schedule is because I partnered with PlanetShoes on their Fit For Fall campaign. They sent me a pair of new sneakers (long over due!) and they are just adorable. Having cute sneakers is one of those silly things that just makes me happy when I get to go to the gym.
The first time I got up early to go for a run on the beach this summer, Madison came screaming out of the house after me wanting to join me. It was cold and bitter that day, but she came along and we “ran” the beach. I realized that carving out time for Mom to escape for a run isn’t going to happen anytime soon. Turns out there is a lot I can get done at the playground, even while wearing the baby.
I’ve been doing some of the exercises in this article, written by Parents magazine. It’s a full body workout using playground equipment. The slide lunge is a great one!
Recently I discovered my love for stroller walks again. I did it all the time when I had just one baby, but it got more complicated when I had two. It’s just as complicated now with three, but I can bring a double stroller and let Madison ride her bike now. It may not be super fast, but it’s a great way to get us all outside and moving our bodies.
There is still time for you to create a workout plan for the fall. Plus, share some of your goals on the Get Fit for Fall site and you could win your own pair of new shoes! Share your progress with friends and get new workout ideas from other community members.
Keep Kids Healthy Naturally with Erba Vita – Giveaway
As the kids return to school, so comes the return of the running noses and germy hands. With a little baby at home, I am super aware of the imminent germs coming into our home. There are a few new things we are doing this year to keep us all healthy and the germs at bay. Here are some ways to keep your kids healthy naturally this season, plus a giveaway for natural remedies from Erba Vita. Erba Vita is a European company with high quality natural products that are effective, GMO-free, and pesticide-free.
- Buy a fun soap canister for the kids so they enjoy hand washing. Help them from an early age learn how to wash their hands well. Get them to sing a favorite song so they learn how long they should wash their hands.
- Offer kids a balanced diet with lots of variety in their fruits and veggies. Offer favorite fruits for snack, or make them a fun strawberry fruit roll-up.
- Use a hand sanitizer when you are out and about. We tested out the Mother’s Therapy Organics kids sanitizer and love it so far. It’s not as drying as most alcohol based sanitizer as it includes aloe vera-based lotion. I keep a small one clipped on my diaper bag so I can use it after changing diapers on-the-go. The kids gave it a “no sting” vote.
- Get the kids to bed early. (And mom and dad too!) A good night sleep helps the body defend against germs during the day.
- Boost immunity with a supplement, like Erba Vita’s Immun Kids. For ages 4 and up, it contains active herbal ingredients to help support a healthy immune system.
- Keep tissues handy so they are ready for sneezes. Teach kids how to sneeze into their elbow by encouraging them to “catch” their sneeze.
- Keep extra toothbrushes on hand so you can replace them quickly if someone gets sick.
- Everyone in the house should get a flu shot. I know people have strong opinions on this, I’m voting for flu shots for our family since our littlest one can’t get a shot and I want to keep him as healthy as possible in his first year of life.
- Make sure the kids stay hydrated. Send a water bottle to school and limit the amount of sugary beverages they consume.
Erba Vita is offering one lucky reader a $150 worth of products of your choosing. You can check out their Kids’ Line, Women’s Health, Weight Loss, and more. Please enter via the Rafflecopter below. Giveaway is open to US residents only until Sept 30th. Winner will be notified via email.
I received some of the Erba Vita products to review, including their Leg Light Gel that I used at the end of my pregnancy. It was great to use at the end of the day. I appreciate their commitment to using quality ingredients and following the safest standard of testing. You can get some of their product line in Whole Foods now or order online. All opinions shared here are my own.
I also received the Mother’s Therapy Organic line of hand sanitizer and lotion. So far it’s one of the kids’ favorite as it’s not too sticky and doesn’t sting like most alcohol based sanitizers.
It’s hard to avoid all the articles recently talking about the safety of sunscreen. If you love to play outside like our family, sunscreen is one of those summer necessities you spend a lot of time applying and reapplying. What’s really in the sunscreen you use for your family? Here’s my cheat sheet of what to look for in your sunscreen and what to avoid. Plus I’ll share some of my favorites that all get grade of 2 or better on the EWG Guide for Sunscreen.
What do you want in your sunscreen?
- Mineral based products using zinc oxide or titanium dioxide
- No false promises. It shouldn’t read “sunblock” or “waterproof”. These terms are no longer allowed on sunscreen labels. Water-resistant is ok.
- Broad Spectrum label which protects against both sunburns and aging.
- SPF of 30-50.
What to avoid in your sunscreen?
- Oxybenzone or any other chemical based lotion that has an ingredient ending in “one.”
- Spray sunscreens. Aerosol based sprays contain nano particles that can be inhaled into the lungs and cause hormone disruption. Yes they are easy to use, but they are TOXIC!! The FDA is finally investigating this issue. Read more about why you should avoid spray sunscreens here.
- Anything claiming to have an SPF over 50.
For my top picks, I’m including brands that I’m familiar with or have tested out myself. I also choose sunscreen products that you can get at your local drugstore, Whole Foods or on Amazon.
- Aveeno Baby Natural Protection Face Stick, SPF 50 (Rating 2)
- COOLA Suncare Baby Moisturizer Mineral Sunscreen, Unscented, SPF 50 (Rating 1, this is what I’m using on my kids now)
- COOLA Suncare Plant UV Face Moisturizer Sunscreen, Unscented, SPF 30 (Rating 1, I’m using this as my face sunscreen for everyday. Did you recently see the article about how wearing sunscreen keeps skin looking younger?)
- Coppertone Kids Pure & Simple Lotion, SPF 50 (Rating 2)
- Coppertone Sensitive Skin Suncreen Lotion, SPF 50 (Rating 2)
- Dolphin Organics Naturals Mineral Sunscreen, SPF 32 (Rating 2)
- Kiss My Face Natural Mineral Sunscreen with Hydresia, SPF 40 (Rating 2)
- Miessence Reflect Outdoor Balm, SPF 15 (Rating 2) (I’ve shared my thoughts before in a past sunscreen post.)
- Mustela Broad Spectrum Mineral Sun Stick, SPF 50+
- Seventh Generation Wee Generation Baby Sunscreen, SPF 30
Further Reading: My friend Lori shared her thoughts on finding the best non-whitening sunscreen. For a very detailed cheat sheet with product reviews you can read Kathy’s SafeMama’s 2013 recap.
Disclosure: I have received some of these products in the past and none for the purpose of this review. All opinions shared here are my own. The Amazon link is an affiliate link, if you make a purchase via Amazon it helps support this site. Thanks!