5 Foods To Avoid Introducing to Children

 

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There are many foods out there that are marketed to parents and children. Companies produce fancy packaging, loud commercials with happy kids, and buzz words for parents like:

“part of this nutritious breakfast”

“part of a balanced meal”

“18 vitamins and minerals included”

“healthy whole grains”

We are HUGE consumers here in the U.S. and we fall for much of this marketing. Foods are even packaged to appear healthier, by using colors that consumers view as a healthy color…like earthy greens and browns.

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It’s all marketing.

Here is a piece I wrote all about the marketing of food in our culture.

Many of these processed convenience foods have added vitamins and minerals. However, these vitamins are synthetic forms and therefore are not assimilated and utilized well in the body. Real vitamins and minerals come in real food (meats, vegetables, fruits, nuts, and healthy fats) and do not need to be synthesized or added to food.

Synthetic Vitamins:

  • Vitamin A: Acetate and Palmitate
  • Vitamin B1 (Thiamine): Thiamine Mononitrate, Thiamine Hydrochloride
  • Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin): Riboflavin
  • Pantothenic Acid: Calcium D-Pantothenate
  • Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine): Pyridoxine Hydrochloride
  • Vitamin B12: Cobalamin
  • PABA (Para-aminobenzoic Acid): Aminobenzoic Acid
  • Folic Acid: Pteroylglutamic Acid
  • Choline: Choline Chloride, Choline Bitartrate
  • Biotin: d-Biotin
  • Vitamin C (Ascorbic Acid): Ascorbic Acid
  • Vitamin D: Irradiated Ergosteral, Calciferol
  • Vitamin E: dl-alpha tocopherol, dl-alpha tocopherol acetate or succinate

List taken from: The Global Healing Center

 

Most processed foods in general will keep your child’s blood sugar spiking and plummeting. Your child craves more sweets and sugary foods, and never feels satiated. In the primal community this is known as being “sugar adapted”. Yes, children do need carbohydrates for energy. I’m not suggesting a low-carbohydrate diet for children. There is a huge misconception that people who follow the primal lifestyle eat low-carb. That just isn’t the case. Most children consume massive amounts of processed carbohydrates on a daily basis, and this is considered the cultural norm. Therefore anything less than that is automatically viewed as low carb. It starts with parents being told by medical authorities that they should start their baby on nutrient void rice cereal to fill them up. Next it leads to drinkable sugar laden yogurts marketed to babies, then cute little plastic toddler cups filled with finger sized crackers and cookies, then it leads to big bowls of sugary cereals. Removing these processed foods from a child’s diet and offering real food to children does not make you a bad, rigid, or depriving parent. You may feel like a fish out of water at times, but you are making the right decision for the health of your children, both now and in the future. Children can get adequate nutrients from a real food diet of meats, vegetables, fruits, and small amounts of refined sugar-free treats made with natural sweeteners. Yes it might not be as convenient as we are use to in a rush rush culture, however, the future health of our children depends upon us making changes in the right direction.

 Pictured:  Burgers On A Stick with dipping sauce!

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What are MY top 5 suggestions of foods to avoid giving to children?


1. Cereal

Any and all cereal. Rice cereal for babies, cold cereals, quick oats, etc… Here is a blog post I wrote about cereal. In a nutshell: Cereal is made with grains (usually with added sugar and food dyes), and grains are broken down into the body as sugar. Yes, you do need carbohydrates in your diet, but there are more nutrient rich sources that will not leave your child’s blood sugar to spike and plummet. Eating a bowl of cereal makes the child’s pancreas work extra hard in order to process it all. It also fills them up with little nutrients or healthy fats. I also wrote a Primal Feeding Guide for Babies and Toddlers which explains why rice cereal is not a good first choice of foods for infants.

*low nutrients

*synthetic vitamins added

*anti-nutrients that can affect digestion

*high sugar

*low in quality fat and protein

 

 2. Kid marketed crackers and cookies like those little golden fish crackers, and little bear cracker cookies, etc.

Just like the cereal above, these small toddler marketed crackers and cookies might look exciting and fun, as well as easy and quick. Kids may love the taste of them. However… for all the same reasons mentioned above regarding cereal, these crackers are full of artificial ingredients, synthetic vitamins, food dyes, high amounts of sugar, and are very low in quality nutrient-dense fats and proteins that children need to feel satiated, happy, and stable. Again, this gets children sugar adapted and reaching for processed carbs vs real food. Did I say avoid all carbohydrates for children? Absolutely not. Here is a post I wrote all about healthy snack ideas for children.

*low nutrients

*synthetic vitamins added

*low in quality fat and protein

*high sugar

 

3. Most commercial yogurts:

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Commercial yogurts contain as much sugar as a bowl of ice cream or other sugary desserts. One 8-ounce serving of low-fat or fat free sweetened yogurt can contain as much as 47 grams of sugars. This amount of sugar is equivalent to almost 12 teaspoons of sugar. People think because it’s yogurt, it must be healthy. Most yogurts should really be treated as a dessert rather than a nourishing snack or meal. It is difficult to find yogurt that does not have some or all of the fat removed from it. Fats are nutrient dense sources of energy for growing brains. However, yogurt manufacturers are still removing fat from yogurt, and adding sugar and food dye. If you are going to give your child yogurt, the best option is raw (unpasteurized), unsweetened, full fat yogurt. Plain yogurt does not contain any added sugar, but still contains naturally occurring milk sugars called lactose. An 8-ounce serving of plain yogurt still contains approximately 12 grams of sugar. This amount of sugar is equivalent to 3 teaspoons of sugar. Homemade plain yogurt that has fermented for 24 hours, does not contain sugar. The lactose is digested by beneficial bacteria, bringing the amount of sugar down to nothing. Raw yogurt has beneficial enzymes and probiotics to help with digestion, and can help colonize the gut with good bacteria. It can be sweetened with a little fruit or drizzle of raw honey.

*very high sugar

*food dye

*low in quality fat unless full fat

 

4. Kid Marketed “Energy” bars:

 

These “power” or “energy” bars marketed at kids contain a long list of ingredients that can be harmful on the gut, and contain a high amount of refined sugar. many contain as much sugar as candy bars, even organic ones. Please note… not everything that is labeled “organic” is necessarily good for your body. An organic pop tart is still a pop tart. It still contains high carb, low healthy fat, low protein. We want our kids to power up with nutrient rich healthy fats and proteins!

Here is an example of ingredients from a popular brand of energy bars targeted at kids:

INGREDIENTS: Organic Oat Blend (Organic Rolled Oats, Organic Oat Flour, Organic Oat Fiber), Organic Tapioca Syrup, Organic Cane Syrup, Organic Chocolate Chips (Organic Dried Cane Syrup, Organic Unsweetened Chocolate, Organic Cocoa Butter, Organic Soy Lecithin, Organic Vanilla Extract), Organic Fruit Paste Blend (Organic Date Paste, Organic Fig Paste, Organic Raisin Paste), Organic Cocoa, Organic Soy Butter (Organic Roasted Soybeans, Organic Soybean Oil, Salt), Organic Chocolate (Organic Dried Cane Syrup, Organic Unsweetened Chocolate, Organic Cocoa Butter, Organic Soy Lecithin, Organic Vanilla Extract), Natural Flavors, Organic Milled Flaxseed, Organic Sunflower Oil, Sea Salt, Baking Soda. VITAMINS & MINERALS: Calcium Carbonate, Dicalcium Phosphate, Ascorbic Acid (Vit. C), Ferric Orthophosphate (Iron), Zinc Oxide, Niacinamide (Vit. B3), Beta Carotene (Vit. A), Thiamine Mononitrate (Vit. B1), Riboflavin (Vit. B2), Pyridoxine Hydrochloride (Vit. B6), Folic Acid (Vit. B9), Cyanocobalamin (Vit. B12). ALLERGEN STATEMENT: CONTAINS SOY AND TRACES OF DAIRY. MAY CONTAIN PEANUTS, WHEAT, AND TREE NUTS.

As you can see the bar contains mainly grains and sugar (both cane syrup and fruit sugar), soy, processed oils and synthetic vitamins and minerals.

If your child is participating in sports and needs extra boosts of carbohydrates, try making homemade energy bites or balls. You simply process nuts with dates, shredded coconut, and coconut oil. Here is my recipe for Blood Orange Coconut Balls.

 5. “Whole Grain” breads:

 

The breads today are not the breads of our ancestors. Our earliest ancestors did not eat bread. Approximately 10-12 thousand years ago (note that we’ve been around for over 200,000 years in our human form) grains were introduced into our diet. Many traditional cultures did not have bread as such a huge portion of every meal. They did not eat sandwiches daily. They also knew how to properly prepare breads (soak, sprout, and ferment) so that the body can digest and assimilate nutrients from it. The issue related to bread consumption is not only just the buzz word “gluten” that we hear. Yes, gluten is a huge offender to many people. Probably more than we can begin to realize. However, there are many other components to bread that can also have an affect on our health. Breads that are not properly prepared contain phytates and lectins, also known as anti-nutrients that can bind to minerals and render them unavailable to our bodies. These anti-nutrients also contribute to inflammation and leaky gut. Leaky gut can lead to allergies and autoimmune conditions. There are proteins found in bread other than gluten that may also have a profound affect on many people. Just like cereal, cookies, and crackers, eating bread as a staple keeps children sugar adapted, and not feeling satiated.

So what can I give my child in place of bread?

Some suggestions: Applegate Farms (GF, dairy free, soy free, and humanely raised) deli meat roll-ups, bun-less Applegate Farms grassfed hotdogs usually cut up with toothpicks and dipping sauces, bunless burgers or lettuce for the bun. Almond or sun butter used as a dip for apples or carrots rather than on bread. On the occasions my children do have bread, I make sure it is the Sprouted grain kind. However, sprouted or not it is still digested in the body and broken down to sugar. Therefore, eating several slices a day would still have a profound affect on the sugar handling of a child.

*anti-nutrients

*low in quality fats and proteins

*high in sugar

*pro-inflammatory

In a nutshell… carbohydrate rich processed foods tend to be high in sugar and low in nutrients. It might not be easy to cut these foods out and replace them with real nourishing foods, but try in steps.

What are some tips to getting your children to enjoy real food?

 

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*Involve them in the process of cooking. If your child helped prepare the meal, they are more likely to enjoy eating it.

*Children love to eat things on platters with toothpicks.

*Children love to forage for food! Take them apple picking and berry picking. We also love to collect fiddlehead ferns in the Spring.

*Explain to them the reasons behind your decisions.

*Lead by example. If those processed foods are not an option, they will start to enjoy real food more.

 

About Kathryn:

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Kathryn Kos is a Nutritional Therapy Practitioner (NTP)  through The Nutritional Therapy Association, and a Certified Lactation Educator/Counselor through The University of San Diego. Her undergraduate degree is in Movement Science from Westfield State College. Her Master’s degree is in Rehabilitation Counseling from Springfield College. She specialize in healing digestion, balancing blood sugar, balancing hormones, and autoimmune conditions. 

 

 

I am speaking at Paleo FX! Get your tickets here to see my talk!

 

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* Please note: This is a personal blog.  All data and information provided on this site is for informational/educational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitution for professional medical advice.

 

 

 

 

 

Healthy Thyroid Diet: 4 Recommendations From A Nutritional Therapist

thyroid diet plan

 

In past pieces I discussed Autoimmune Thyroid disease, and how your immune system is attacking your thyroid gland. Many people believe that medication is the only answer, and many more suffer in silence because they are told by their physician that their thyroid is functioning normally. Autoimmune thyroid is not black and white. It is one of the more difficult autoimmune conditions to get under control and feel good. However, there ARE changes you can make to heal leaky gut, and support the health of your thyroid. You can make changes to help slow down and in some cases stop the attack on your thyroid. With that said, you have to be willing to make big nutritional changes.

Culturally, we are accustomed to eating for comfort and we are very much attached to processed foods and grains as primary fuel for our body. However these foods keep us on the blood sugar roller coaster and also do not provide the nutrients we need to make the precursors for proper hormone formation, and to keep the body in a non-inflamed state.

Processed foods contribute to what is known as “leaky-gut” or permeable gut. What this means is that large proteins (undigested food) pass through open junctions in the small intestines and cause inflammation in the body, the root of modern disease. Some proteins like gluten are often mistaken as thyroid tissue. Chains of amino acids in gluten share the same molecular structure as thyroid tissue. So when gluten is consumed, the immune system recognizes it as a foreign invader, and attacks the thyroid tissue as well. It can take several months for the immune system to bounce back and stop attacking the thyroid. Therefore, I recommend that individuals with hashimoto’s avoid all gluten, including small amounts or occasional gluten. There may be other foods that can cause the same reaction, in some individuals. Avoiding processed foods is a huge step you can take in the right direction. 

 

leaky gut syndrome

 

 

The best way to try and stop the attack is to get to the root cause and heal it. This is where it is not all black and white. Some people may have increased cortisol from stress, affecting hormone balance. There may also be an excess of xenoestrogens (known as estrogen dominance) which also affects the thyroid, others have toxins in their body. There are many different ways the thyroid can be affected. In a previous piece I discussed the importance of finding a Doctor who will run a full-thyroid panel, which will help give a more clear answer on the etiology of how the thyroid is being affected. However, healing the gut, and getting the body to digest foods properly is HUGE in terms of halting an autoimmune attack on the thyroid. We want to fully digest our foods so that these proteins are not escaping through the lining in the gut, and attacking our immune system. 70-80% of our immunities are found in the gut. We want to keep our immune system strong (remember, autoimmune diseases are an attack on the immune system of the body, meaning the body is seeing itself as an invader and attacking). We also want to support our adrenal health through lifestyle changes and possible adrenal support supplements, as chronic stress affects our hormone formation and balance.

Below am going to suggest some dietary changes, lifestyle changes, and supplement recommendation that I support my clients with as a Nutritional Therapist. The thyroid is a very complicated endocrine organ. It is important to work in collaboration with your Doctor when making lifestyle changes. I never recommend stopping medications. I am not a Doctor. Rather, I recommend supporting the health of your thyroid through dietary and lifestyle changes, thus healing the root cause while working with your Doctor to adjust medications. With that said, I feel it is also important to be your own advocate, and research, research, research. Don’t put your Doctor on a pedestal. Work as a team. This is YOUR body.

 

Thyroid Dietary Recommendations:

  • Follow a gut-healing dietary protocol. There are a couple different ones out there. The two that I most recommend are the GAPS protocol and the AIP (Autoimmune Protocol). Both involve removing from the diet all grains (including corn), dairy, soy, nuts, seeds, eggs, legumes, and nightshades. Both involve slowly reintroducing foods with larger proteins. The GAPS protocol involves some raw dairy. However, with autoimmune thyroid I recommend avoiding all dairy. Dairy proteins are large and tend to not digest easily therefore passing through the gut. It may sound like a restricted diet when you compare it to what you are accustomed to. However, there are many many amazing cookbooks and blog recipes out there, and it is very do-able.  Some of the restrictions beyond gluten, dairy, and soy may be reintroduced after a period of time to see how your body reacts to each particular food. The key is to increase your healthy fat intake and get your body to start digesting good fats. Stick to eating well cooked meats and vegetables with stable saturated fats. Don’t be afraid of getting these fats in your diet. Fats are healthy for hormone formation and necessary for so many functions in the body.

 

Here are my book suggestions for getting started:

The Paleo Approach: Reverse Autoimmune Disease and Heal Your Body, by Sarah Ballantyne, PhD

Gut and Psychology Syndrome, by Natasha Campbell-McBride

The Autoimmune-Paleo Cookbook: An Allergen Free Approach to Managing Chronic Illness, by Mickey Trescott, NTP

Practical Paleo, by Diane Sanfilippo (Autoimmune Chapter)

 

I also recommend:

  • Drink bone broth daily.
  • Include fermented foods daily such as raw sauerkraut and kombucha tea.
  • Chew food thoroughly (enzymes in saliva help to pre-digest foods).
  • Drink 1/2 body weight in ounces of water each day-sip throughout the day. Consider adding lemon to your water to support cleansing the liver.

 

Lifestyle Recommendations:

  • Keep exercise at light to moderate (walking, yoga, stretching, tai chi) while the body is healing. Over stressing the body may feel really good, but also causes an increase is cortisol output, which put extra stress on the adrenals and thyroid.
  • Try to get enough sleep for your body. I don’t like to recommend a certain number of hours. We are all different. Some people feel their best at 6 hours, others need 8. The key is to to turn off all stimulating activities and electronics in the evening (at least an hour before bed). Keep these screens and devices out of the room you will be sleeping in. Try to go to bed earlier if you can, as sleep in the early part of the night is restorative.
  • Find new activities that bring you joy and passion, but do not jeopardize the health of your body. I highly recommend yoga and meditation. I love to go fishing 🙂

 

Tyroid Supplement Recommendations:

There are also specific minerals that support the thyroid, and supplement recommendation for healing the intestines. However, many of these recommendations are dependent upon the persons bio-individual needs. I recommend working with a Nutritional Therapist to get on a protocol that meets your needs!

Here are a couple recommendations I make to most of my clients who are struggle with autoimmune thyroid and need gut healing:

Selenium and Zinc (minerals that support thyroid health)

Fermented Cod Liver Oil (contains Vit A and D)

L-Glutamine (rebuilds the mucous layer of the small intestines to help seal the gut, helps with sugar cravings)

Digestive Enzymes (helps to breakdown proteins, fats, and sugars more thoroughly, so less large proteins can pass through the gut). I highly recommend Digest Gold by Enzymedica, taken with every meal.

Probiotics (good bacteria to help with digestion). I recommend Prescript Assist brand probiotics.

*I am not affiliated or paid for any of the above brand selections.

Get a free nutritional therapy consultation

 

My hope is that this information will open your eyes to some important changes that you can make now to help support your thyroid health. If you are interested in a free phone consultation to see how I can support your healing, contact me!

 

About Kathryn:

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Kathryn Kos is a Nutritional Therapy Practitioner (NTP)  through The Nutritional Therapy Association, and a Certified Lactation Educator/Counselor through The University of San Diego. Her undergraduate degree is in Movement Science from Westfield State College. Her Master’s degree is in Rehabilitation Counseling from Springfield College. She specialize in healing digestion, balancing blood sugar, balancing hormones, and autoimmune conditions. 

 

 

 

* Please note: This is a personal blog.  All data and information provided on this site is for informational/educational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitution for professional medical advice.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Break Free from Cereal Breakfasts!

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One of the most difficult things for us to do is to break free from what has been instilled in our minds. When it comes to traditions such as meals, the types of foods we associate with that meal trail all the way back to our earliest childhood memories. As adults we remember what we were taught about certain foods through family, friends and media. I still remember all the cereal commercials that say “part of a healthy breakfast” Of course this is all about marketing sales and the health claims are false. However, as a child these claims stick with us. In this blog post I discuss the marketing of food in our culture, and misplaced trust.

In my generation fat was demonized. Things like bacon and sausage were seen as heart-disease causing culprits. This was also based on faulty information and the medical community is now realizing this. However, we have a hard time letting go of what we have been taught. This blog post will help with understanding the benefits of having saturated fats in your diet. However, many of us cling to these faulty beliefs. Breakfast really is the most important meal of the day-it is the time to fuel our bodies after fasting over night (break-fast=breaking the fast). So how do we sift through all this information and make the right choices each day? 

I’m going to start by discussing cereal. Cereal and breakfast go hand in hand for so many people, and I’m going to explain why cereal is not a good choice for your body. There are many reasons behind this. First of all-cereal is a grain, and grains are broken down into the body as sugar. Yes, you do need carbohydrates in your diet, but there are more nutrient dense sources that will not leave your blood sugar to spike and plummet. Eating a bowl of cereal wreaks havoc on the pancreas.

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One of my favorite cereals as a kid was a brand called crackling oat bran (we use to call it cat food cereal because it was shaped like cat food). This cereal is marketed as a “healthy”  “whole grain” (another clever marketing scheme) cereal. One “serving” (3/4 cup, give me a break when one eats cereal, they eat at least 1 1/2 cups if not more…double the serving suggestion) has 40 grams of carbohydrates and 18 grams of sugar. Now lets double that because there isn’t anyone sticking to serving portions. You are actually consuming 80 grams of carbohydrates and 40 grams of sugar. Those carbohydrates break down as sugar. Holy sugar rush. What does your body do with all that extra sugar? First of all after the blood sugar spike and plummet you will crash and burn and be super hungry within an hour of eating it. Second, your pancreas gets overworked leading to insulin resistance (which can lead to type 2 diabetes, very prevalent in our culture). Third, the extra carbohydrates are stored in the body as fat.

Cereal grains are highly processed and stripped of nutrients. Then synthetic vitamins are added, and it is labeled as “nutritious”

Saturated fats such as butter, lard, coconut oil have a strong influence on metabolism! These fats help to release insulin. Fat keeps you full longer. Fats are satisfying and satiating.  When you avoid fat, you are hungry more frequently. Contrary to what you might think, humans are not designed to snack frequently. However, consuming a high fructose/refined grain and low-fat diet makes you more hungry so you tend to reach for more snacks. You consume more calories just to feel satisfied. Any meal or snack high in carbohydrates like refined grains generates a rapid rise in blood glucose and then insulin to compensate for the rise in blood sugar. The insulin released from eating too many carbohydrates promotes fat and makes it more difficult for your body to shed excess weight, and excess fat, particularly around your belly.

This is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to cereal. Cereal grains contain anti nutrients. Anti nutrients are the plants natural defense against bugs. It is the plants way of protecting itself from being eaten. Anti-nutrients cause inflammation in the body, inflammation that can lead to chronic diseases. This inflammation can manifest in the body in so many different ways-sore joints, headaches, depression, anxiety, autoimmune diseases, and much more. Soaking and sprouting the grains can help remove some anti-nutrients. However, conventional cereals are factory produced and there is no sprouting or soaking.

Many cereals contain wheat. The newer proteins found in wheat are difficult for our gut to handle. The wheat we are eating now is not the wheat of our ancestors! This article explains some of the newer proteins in modern wheat and the affect these modern grains have on the body. Even oatmeal is most often stored in the same silo as wheat, and therefore can be cross-contaminated with these proteins.

Many people put low-fat or fat free cows milk in their cereal. This is milk that has been stripped of it’s nutrients. Fat is brain food and needed by the body. Here is my blog post on conventional dairy and why I do not give it to my children.

Other reasons to avoid cereal? Genetically modified grains and soy (GMO’s) and food dye’s are found in most conventional cereals. GMO’s have been shown to cause health risks. See study

In a nutshell-although marketed as a healthy breakfast option, cereal is not the way to go! Some people make grain-free hot cereals out of nuts, flax seed, nut butters, other seeds, and fruits.

Another popular “breakfast food’ is eggs! Eggs are amazing nutrient dense powerhouses. Sadly, many people still believe that they must throw away the yolk. The yolk is where all the nutrients are. The yolk contains vitamins A, D, E, and K. It also contains calcium, iron, zinc, and protein. The medical community use to think that eating egg yolks raised cholesterol. We now know that our bodies make cholesterol. Cholesterol from food rarely raises overall cholesterol. We also know that cholesterol is not the culprit in heart disease.

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  • All of the cells in your body need cholesterol.
  • Cholesterol metabolizes all hormones and fat soluable vitamins.
  • Your body manufactures most of it’s own cholesterol and a little bit comes from food.
  • Cholesterol forms and maintains cell wall structures.
  • Cholesterol is used by the nerve cells for insulation.
  • The liver uses cholesterol to produce bile.
  • Cholesterol is also needed for your body to make Vitamin D.
  • Much of what you may think about cholesterol is wrong.
  • Cholesterol is found in the arteries, but it is mistaken as the culprit in heart disease. Cholesterol travels to arteries in order to heal the body–as a  “patch” to the lesions caused by underlying inflammation. This underlying inflammation is from a diet high in inflammatory foods likes sugars, processed grains, and oxidized oils.

Some people are allergic to eggs (usually the proteins in the egg white) or their guts cannot handle the proteins (particularly people with autoimmune conditions). Therefore egg-free breakfast alternatives are needed.

Let’s break free from traditional breakfast ideas. Think of things you would normally eat for lunch, snacks or dinner. All of these things can be eaten for breakfast. You want to get some good energy to start your day. Fats are brain-food, carbohydrates from vegetable sources and protein will keep you going. Think “real food” ..real food does not come in a package or box.

 

Here are some non-traditional breakfast ideas (some with eggs and some are egg-free):

One of my children’s favorite breakfasts is leftovers from dinner the night before crisped up in a pan. If you can have eggs, eggs make a great addition to this. So lets say you had steak and sweet potato. Bake an extra sweet potato with dinner and pop it in the fridge with the left over steak. Cut of the steak and pan fry it with some coconut oil, tallow, or lard. Crisp up the sweet potato as well into sweet potato “pancakes”-saute some greens with garlic and you have a meal. The combinations are endless!

Spaghetti squash and meat. If you are crunched for time in the morning cook up the spaghetti squash the night before. It is super easy to bake. Cut it in half, remove the seeds, and place it in a baking dish cut side down with about an inch of water. bake for 30-45 minutes depending on the side of the squash-the squash should scrape right out of the peel into threads like spaghetti. Drizzle with some olive oil or butter and season as you like (I like onion powder). Put some cooked/seasoned grass-fed ground beef on top or leftover meat from the night before cut up and crisped in a pan. You can also put marinara sauce or bolognese sauce right on top of the spaghetti squash (bolognese is a meat sauce). You would just mix the meat into the marinara and put it on top of the spaghetti squash.

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Chicken legs with roasted root veggies(carrots, parsnips, potatoes, turnip, onions)  and sauteed greens: Chicken legs/thighs/breast are easy to make and the kids love to eat them for breakfast. You can roast the root vegetables right in with the chicken legs, and serve with sauteed greens (my kids love baby broccoli, but any greens would do). For the chicken legs I like to put them in a baking dish with a small amount of water on the bottom. I season them (usually with Trader’s Joe’s 21 spice mix), and put the cut up root veggies in the pan around the legs-as well as a few cloves of chopped garlic. Bake for about 45 minutes at 350. Again, if crunched for time this can be done the night before and re-heated. The greens can be sauteed in fat and seasoned to your taste. I like mine with butter and coconut aminos.

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Somewhat traditional breakfast: pastured sausage or bacon, but serve over a bed of greens with a side of fruit. I like to get the bulk breakfast sausage from the local Farmer’s Market. Fry it up in little slider patties for kids or bigger ones for an adult. You can also make them as breakfast sausage meatballs-roll into balls and broil on a parchment paper lined cookie sheet-kids like to eat them with toothpicks.

Breakfast meatballs (serve with sauteed greens and fruit) 1 lb grass-fed ground beef, 1 egg (or 1 TBS Flax seed ground mixed with 1 TBS water as an egg replacer) 1/2 a finely diced onion, 2-3 cloves finely diced garlic, 1TBS parsley, sea salt and pepper to taste. Optional: shredded carrots and or shredded zucchini. Mix with meat hook in standing mixer-roll into meatballs, place a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper and broil on the highest shelf for 5-8 minutes or until cooked through. For sweet potatoe fries: cut a sweet potato into french fry sticks, and fry in coconut oil.

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Make a breakfast cob salad with bacon and eggs! get a plate of greens and top with any chopped veggies you like, add chopped bacon and hardboiled eggs if you have eggs. Chopped chicken, steak, and pork from last night’s dinner works as well. Canned wild caught salmon is great on a salad with chopped bacon and veggies as well.

If you are in a crunch for time and running out the door:

nuts/seeds/berries

a coconut milk smoothie with frozen berries, almond butter, coconut milk, and a little raw honey. If you eat eggs throw a raw egg into the smoothie.

sardines over a bed of greens with a sweet potato on the side

banana dipped in almond butter

Here are the links to some great grain-free breakfast kindle cookbooks (at very reasonable prices):

 

* Please note: This is a personal blog. I am not a Doctor or a dietitian. All data and information provided on this site is for informational/educational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitution for professional medical advice.

 

Grains are not a food group!

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There is a misconception out there that by eating “primal” or “paleo” you are on this diet that cuts out a “major food group”. First of all, primal eating is lifestyle…it is not a fad diet. Grains are not a food group! Eating primal does not mean eating “low carb.” It is not the same thing as Atkins. In fact, our bodies do need carbohydrates. We just don’t need the excessive amount we consume when we eat processed foods and grains. We need way less than we are accustomed too, and the amount we need varies based on our level of physical activity. So what exactly does primal/paleo/ancestral eating mean? It simply means eating real food. We are so far removed from what real food is in our culture that some of us have no idea where to start. Real food does not come in a box/package or have a label on it. It has not been chemically processed or altered.

Before eating this way I was eating what I *thought was a healthy diet.  Almost everyday I ate almond butter and honey sandwiches on 100% sprouted grain bread, pasta, beans, legumes…I avoided most animal products. I also did not feel good. I was having gallbladder attacks. I was anxious. My hair was falling out. I was diagnosed with autoimmune diseases. After a year of slowly converting to primal eating, my autoimmune “markers” are now very low, and I feel amazing!  My health has improved dramatically and I will never go back. I’ve discussed my autoimmune thyroid (which is related to grain and soy consumption) and plan to talk more on autoimmunity in subsequent posts. I’m feeling really good these days 🙂

Why do I avoid grains? On top of experiencing all I said above, I was having issues with unstable blood sugar. I was consuming most of my calories from “whole wheat” bread, and I thought I was eating healthy. However, I was having a ton of health issues that were snowballing and I was not in a good place. Something was wrong. When I cut gluten out I started to feel much better, but still dealt with blood sugar spikes and plummets, as well as hormonal issues. Now that I avoid grains, my blood sugar is stable and I feel at my best. It feels great to actually wake up every morning feeling healthy and strong. I no longer have brain fog. I feel happy. My hormones are balanced.

This link and this link were helpful in understanding some of the blood sugar/gluten issues:

“The paleo diet is not Atkins, nor is it zero-carb. The best research I can find shows that modern hunter-gatherers get perhaps 1/3 of their calories from carbohydrate, and Paleolithic hunter-gatherers somewhat less. This means vegetables, including root starches like sweet potatoes: grains were not a meaningful part of the human diet until agriculture, of which the earliest evidence is only 12,000 years ago. (This is a tautology: agriculture defines the transition from Paleolithic to Neolithic.)”

My hope is that people will do their own research and keep an open mind. I am a mom of 2 young boys, and want to feed them real food. I deal with a ton of negativity and questioning from people, but I plow on because I know I am doing what is best for us. One thing I don’t do is “preach to the choir”. I don’t judge other people for their food choices, I don’t try to change what my family or friends eat.  If someone asks me or questions me I do my best to explain my choice without being pushy. Here is an article I found helpful when dealing with family/friends who question your choices. What I have learned through the years is to limit your arguing…keep answers short and sweet, change the subject.

It makes such a difference in your life when your body just feels right. I network with many different paleo/primal people and belong to several different groups where we all learn from each other. I learn new things everyday. I’m sure some of it will change, but the basics remain the same. I am passionate about sharing my knowledge, and I really have no other motives.

So what exactly do I eat?

I eat pastured meats. Pastured simply means that the animal is out eating its natural diet. So cows eat grass. Chickens eat bugs. Not only is the animal happier, but the health benefit of pastured meats are huge. The animal is not couped or caged all the time and fed genetically modified feed (soybeans, corn, wheat to name a few).  I buy from the local Farmer’s Market. Some farmers will give discounts, and there are cheaper cuts available that are just as nutrient rich as fancy cuts, some even more so. I take my kids to visit the farms and get to know the farmers. Organ meats are very inexpensive and are extremely nutrient dense. Farmers sell all different cuts of meat-heart, liver, tongue, soup bones, you name it! You can also purchase a ¼ cow, ½ cow or a whole cow if you have a deep freezer. Sometimes friends will “split a cow”. It is cost effective and the meat can get you through several months. I also eat applegate farms deli meats, and occasionally buy meats at Trader Joe’s.

This is helpful

I eat grass-fed dairy (I am a sucker for kerrygold cheese). Dairy can be an issue for many people. The protein casein is large in molecular structure and can be hard on the gut. I react to dairy. I make the choice to occasionally eat it and pay the price.

I eat wild caught fish and seafood. I was never a fish person in the past. I actually just started eating and enjoying sardines (I am amazed at how much I enjoy the taste of real food after cleansing my body of processed foods). My kids like salmon so I try to make it for them at least once a week.

I eat pastured eggs- chickens are not vegetarians. They are omnivores-they love bugs! Pastured eggs are not the same as “cage free” or “vegetarian fed” eggs. I had a hard time finding them, and now purchase them at the farmer’s market as well.

This is helpful in understanding eggs!

I eat a ton of vegetables/fruit daily (mostly vegetables): avocados, garlic, herbs, apples, berries, carrots, greens of all sorts, bananas, parsnips, turnips, kale, beets, brussel sprouts, broccoli, spinach, salad greens, cauliflower, oranges…it changes based on the season. I stick with “the dirty dozen” when it comes to buying organic.

I don’t fear fat at all. You shouldn’t either.

I cook with coconut oil, ghee (OMGhee is my favorite) grass-fed butter (kerrygold is a good brand), tallow, and lard.  I use olive oil for cold uses. I do not limit my fat intake. This chart is helpful in explaining which fats to use and which to avoid.

I bake with coconut flour, coconut oil, tapioca starch, arrowroot flour, and almond meal.

I also snack on nuts, seeds, dark chocolate, healthy meat sticks (not slim jims), seaweed, sardines,  lara bars, veggies

There are a bunch of fabulous blogs/FB pages that I follow. Some are educational and others share tons of awesome recipes!

Here are some of my personal favorites:

www.nomnompaleo.com

www.balancedbites.com

www.everydaypaleo.com

www.facebook.com/justeatrealfood

www.marksdailyapple.com

http://chriskresser.com/

www.robbwolf.com

www.primaltoad.com

www.paleononpaleo.com

www.againstallgrains.com

*Some of the staples I load my pantry with for baking are coconut milk, coconut flour, tapioca starch, arrowroot, coconut oil, almond meal, enjoy life (GF/DF) chocolate chips, bourbon vanilla, frozen blueberries (I go blueberry picking during the summer and freeze pounds of them).

As I’ve said in the past I am not 100% and I am far from perfect. If you try to be, you will drive yourself batty and won’t enjoy your life. We live in a culture that is very much attached to grains, and that makes this lifestyle difficult without support. It’s not impossible…just difficult. It is important to reach out for support and take baby steps. I have good days and bad days. There are days when I stare at the fridge and think “what the heck am I going to make today?” I always figure it out and I am learning how to think outside the box! Scrambled eggs mixed with ground beef and seasonings tossed over salad greens makes an excellent meal. I found that by “liking” primal/paleo FB pages your newsfeed gets filled with awesome recipes to try, tips, and helpful information.

I started out by just cutting out gluten. That to me is a huge step. Then when I noticed the amazing positive changes I slowly converted to eating less and less processed foods. I still get the occasional gluten free sugary treat. I always feel lousy afterward, but once in awhile I do it anyway. I also like to have a gluten free beer in the summertime, and enjoy drinking wine with my friends. My weakness is dark chocolate-I try to find the darkest and lowest in sugar available.

I hope this helps, feel free to ask away if you have questions and I will try to point you in the right direction!

 

 

 

* Please note: This is a personal blog. I am not a Doctor or a Dietician. All data and information provided on this site is for informational/educational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitution for professional medical advice.