Beat PMS Symptoms Naturally

I’ve received several requests now for a post on PMS and how to naturally deal with unwelcomed period bullshit.  You know, the bloating, the unhealthy cravings, the cramps, the mood swings… It can be a total downer, although I’ve learned to view my period as a cleansing process for the body to make the whole situation a more pleasant experience.  A positive attitude is everything in life, but sometimes you also need a little help to minimize symptoms.  Here are some of my top recommendations for reducing PMS discomfort:

Diet

When I was younger, a friend and I used to have a “fuck you, period!” ritual every month where we’d pig out on burgers, chili cheese fries and milkshakes at a local diner.  Why is it that when we get our periods we often crave the foods that feel good in the moment, but actually make our symptoms worse?

It wasn’t until I replaced the crap for nutritious, wholesome, REAL food that I really noticed a big reduction in my PMS symptoms.  Eating nutritious foods rich in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants is what the body thrives on, especially during that time of the month.  Fill up on alkalizing foods like leafy green vegetables and fruit, healthy fats high in omega-3s like salmon, nuts or chia seeds, and unprocessed whole grains, like quinoa or rice.  Eating foods rich in potassium, calcium, and magnesium will help reduce cramps, so eat bananas, dark chocolate (the darker the better), and spinach.  If you’re craving meat, eat some red meat (preferably grass-fed organic).  It’ll help restore depleted iron levels. Feeling bloated?  Drink plenty of water, but also eat foods that are natural diuretics (aka, foods that make you pee more).   Parsley, pineapple, lemon, celery, ginger, cabbage, and apple cider vinegar are all examples. I like to start the morning off with my Daily Green Smoothie which is packed full of nutrients and will typically drink warm lemon water with ginger throughout the day.

Light Exercise

While some people feel like being sedentary during their periods, I’ve found that light exercise can be quite beneficial.  Exercise helps reduce stress and when I’m feeling depressed and irritable, exercise makes me feel relaxed.  Try exercises like walking, running, swimming, biking, or some gentle yoga poses like these ones here:

Essential Oils

Aromatherapy  has been used for many thousands of years as a way to lower stress levels, relieve pain, improve mood, and suppress cravings and nausea. Essential oils have even been demonstrated in lab studies to kill flu, E. coli, and cancer cells (source: Women’s Health Magazine, Cancer Tutor).  Different oils initiate different responses in the brain, which in turn, directs your nervous system to say, “relax” or “spring into action.” During or before menstruation, I recommend clary sage, lavender, chamomile, ylang-ylang, grapefruit, jasmine, or cedarwood to ease symptoms and lift your mood.  I personally like to mix a couple drops of oil with some coconut oil and rub it on my stomach if I’m experiencing discomfort.

Cannabis

Finally, more people are publicly acknowledging the wide-ranging medicinal benefits of the cannabis plant.  For period-related struggles, cannabis can be amazing, and a great alternative to pharmaceutical pain medications that may be harsher on the body. Cannabis rich in the compound CBD is gaining popularity due to its ability to greatly (and in most cases relatively instantly) reduce pain and inflammation while lifting your mood.   In fact, Queen Victoria, as well as many other recognizable, historical women, used CBD-rich cannabis in the 19th century to reduce her menstrual cramps (source: Project CBD).  CBD differs from THC-rich cannabis in that CBD-rich cannabis has little to no psychoactive effects or the “high” most people associate with cannabis.  It’s for this reason that strains high in CBD make it a premier choice for many users.

Remember to Breathe

This tip is for everyone, but especially for those women who get anxious, crampy, depressed, or tired during their periods.  So much can be controlled not only by the brain but by the breath.  Start by taking deep, even breaths in through your nose and out through your mouth.  If you can, incorporate some of the yoga poses from above.  Focus on your breath and remind yourself that everything will be ok!

 

Have comments, questions or suggestions?  Have additional methods for relieving cramps or PMS symptoms? Leave a message below, or reach me through my website.

Thanks for reading!

How To Naturally Treat ADHD

Not unlike most children, when I was younger, paying attention in class and sitting still was difficult for me. When I was 15, I diagnosed myself with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and had a much easier time getting my prescription for Adderall (a medication commonly used to treat ADHD) from my doctor then I think I probably should have. “You want Adderall? No problem, I’ll prescribe you Adderall,” I clearly remember my pediatrician saying. Although my mom ended up taking me to a different doctor who diagnosed me with ADHD before prescribing the medication, for the next four years after that, I took Adderall daily, believing that I wouldn’t be as productive or successful without it. While I did have insanely sharp focus, I hated the side effects. The medication made it so that I didn’t want to eat, I couldn’t comfortably socialize, and I couldn’t sleep. But my grades in school improved dramatically enough that I convinced myself Adderall made me smarter and better at school.

By the age of 20, I decided I was done with the drug and the uncomfortable, anxious way it made me feel. When I went off it, my goal wasn’t necessarily to go cold turkey, but I wanted to test myself and see how I did in school without the drug while implementing some natural methods for concentrating. It took a little time, and I know this wouldn’t be the case for all people with an attention disorder, but I’ve found that I can absolutely be productive without medication. I believe that the following natural remedies can truly help with concentration and that either on their own or in conjunction with medication, can greatly benefit those struggling with ADHD.

Understanding the Power of the Gut

Our intestines contain a population of microbes known as gut microbiota. Microbiota contains tens of trillions of microorganisms, with at least 1000 different species of bacteria with more than 3 million genes (source: Gut Microbiota). A baby born vaginally gets her first dose of these microorganisms as soon as she exits her mother’s vagina. Children born through C-sections miss some of the bacteria that children born vaginally get.  Instead, a C-section baby gets her first bacteria from her mother’s skin and the skin of the doctors and nurses in the delivery room (source: heathline).  In either situation, from that moment on, everything affects the babies microbiota; the food she eats, the water she drinks, her environment, and the air she breathes. Although the baby can adapt to change, a loss of balance in the gut microbiota may result in dysbiosis (the opposite of symbiosis). Dysbiosis may be linked to a number of health problems such as functional bowel disorders, inflammatory bowel disease, allergies, obesity, and diabetes, to name some. According to author and doctor, Natasha Campbell-McBride, 84 percent of your immunity is located in your gut wall. And if you don’t have healthy gut flora, your immune system simply can’t function optimally (Source: GAPS Diet).

 

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Happy gut microbes

 

Gut dysbiosis is also commonly found in children with ADD/ADHD and other mental health illnesses and disorders like depression, or bipolar disorder.  (source: Epidemic Answers). In my own experience, I have found that by treating the gut, I could get by without medication. Another thing I found while researching is that children with ADHD typically have low levels of dopamine, which is an important neurotransmitter that promotes feelings of calm and well-being. This is why kids with ADHD, while not typically being able to sit still for too long, have been found to sit very calmly for hours on end while playing video games, since playing video games releases dopamine. With all of this knowledge, I now have recommendations for ways to balance dopamine levels and improve gut health to naturally achieve laser sharp focus.

Diet

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Eating a well-balanced diet with plenty of whole grains, vegetables, fruits, lean protein, healthy fats, and purified water will play a huge role in curbing ADHD symptoms. Eat organic whenever possible, take probiotics regularly, and check in with yourself to see how your body feels after you eat certain foods. There are a number of foods that can typically cause food allergies or sensitivities in people, such as: gluten, sugar, processed and fried foods, food colorings, dairy, alcohol, red meat, caffeine, soy, corn, and nightshade vegetables. An allergy or sensitivity to a particular food may cause symptoms of ADHD. Experiment by eliminating foods from these food groups then add them back into your diet one by one.  During this process, I recommend taking notes of your concentration, energy, digestion, and sleep before and after eating and you may just find some foods work better for your body and concentration levels than others.

Lifestyle

Quality sleep and healthy lifestyle choices will also impact your ability to focus during the day. Most people need at least eight solid hours of sleep, which means you should begin winding down and turning off the computer, television, or any devices with a blue light at least an hour before bed. Try to steer clear of caffeine, sugar, and alcohol, as these will impact sleep quality too.

 

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Yoga on a stand up paddle board requires a quiet, focused mind…

 

For both children and adults with ADHD, exercise is like medicine. It helps to get rid of excess energy, and in my own experience, I’ve found that exercise is the only time where I can pretty much turn off my mind. Exercise stimulates cognitive thinking and increases levels of dopamine, thus improving levels of concentration for hours after completion. Switching up forms of exercise, and learning new ones, have actually been found to improve organization skills, and when you combine mind-body exercises with a deep mental focus, you may even get more positive results (source: health.com). I have to switch up my exercises just to stay interested, so I like to rotate between pilates, yoga, barre, running, dance, and weight training.

Massage

Like exercise, massage also increases levels of dopamine, which is the hormone lacking in people with ADHD. The benefits of regular massage for people with ADHD have been found to result in more restful sleep, improved mood, improved social function, improved focus, and anger control. If you can’t go out and get a massage regularly, then try giving yourself a massage. You can even incorporate essential oils like lavender, frankincense, or mandarin into your massages for greater results since aromatherapy can also be a powerful tool for aiding in focus and calmness.

Work Breaks

When focusing for long periods of time is a challenge, try breaking up your workload. I’ll set a timer for myself for 20-minute periods where I power through work, followed by a brief break. During this break, I’ll do anything from stretching to browsing Pinterest, but after about five minutes I have to get back into work mode. I find these frequent and shorter work periods actually make me more productive in the long run.

 

Are you or is someone you know struggling with symptoms of ADHD?  Then let’s talk!  I am a Certified Integrative Nutritionist with a background in holistic health who would love to help you.

 

 

 

5 Ways to Start Sleeping Better

Like most people, I love to sleep, but I haven’t always been a great sleeper. These days my head hits the pillow and I’m out, but those nights when I just couldn’t fall asleep no matter how tired I felt really stunk. I hate the feeling of being tired but wired, or being wide awake, tossing and turning, and unable to get my mind to rest. With our modern world’s media obsession, I absolutely believe we aren’t sleeping as well as we used to, and that technology is a huge factor. I’ve certainly always been that person dicking around on my phone or computer or watching tv or listening to music right before bed, but quality sleep is so important that I’ve changed my ways. Here are some tips to improve your beauty regimen and better your sleep:

1- Turn your cellphone off at night. Ok, do not panic cellphone-addicted readers… Want better sleep?  Then turn your phone off at night!

Our phones produce a light that triggers our brains to stay awake, thus disrupting the body’s natural sleep-wake cycle (source: Sleep Foundation). This causes tension in the body that releases the stress hormone cortisol, especially if you’re doing something like playing a video game or checking your email. Cortisol triggers the body into “fight of flight” mode, which can negatively impact sleep. I always encourage my clients to get in the habit of powering down their devices (computers, tablets and televisions included) at least one hour before bed to get their brains to shut down for sleep mode. I’ve done this experiment myself and found that I do, in fact, sleep better. And when you get better sleep, it makes it that much easier to make healthier choices throughout the day. For example, do you find that when you’re tired and lazy you go for easy food options, like pizza or pre-made sandwiches versus a healthy meal? We look for foods with sugar or caffeine to give us that temporary boost of energy, but temporary is the operative word here because this type of energy does not sustain.

2- Create a nighttime routine. There are so many ways to relax before bedtime, it’s just a matter of finding what works best for you. I definitely recommend cutting back on sugar and caffeine, especially later in the day. Some other ideas to relax include: stretching, giving yourself a little self-massage, drinking something warm and soothing, reading (not on a device!), or journaling. Journaling before bed is ideal and therapeutic because it gives you the opportunity to let out all the stresses and thoughts bouncing around your head that could potentially keep you awake at night. I spend that time reflecting on my day, writing down what I’m grateful for, and like I said, just writing whatever is on my mind. One other thing I’ve found that works wonders for me is using essential oils. Lavender oil in particular is intended for relaxing, so I will put a little dab of the oil on my pillow or in my oil diffuser to get me bed-ready. Lavender eye pillows are also very soothing.

3- Blackout. Don’t get too excited, I’m not talking about drinking yourself to sleep. Black out your room at night so that as little light as possible is showing. That includes any lights inside or outside your room, which may also include night-lights or those little blinking lights from your wireless modem or whatnot. The darker your room, the better.

4- Silence! Same idea as #1 and #3. Just like light, sounds are distracting and keep your brain active, so try not to fall asleep with a movie or music still on. If so inclined, you could invest in a white noise maker. If sound is something you can’t control, such as noises from the street or a noisy roommate, ear plugs might be helpful.

5- Get naked. Cooler temperatures trigger the “let’s sleep now” response in your body, so while you could go light on the comforter or heat, I prefer to sleep naked. This also gives your body a chance to breath and to get in a more relaxed state, since sleeping overheated can also negatively affect your cortisol levels. High cortisol affects other aspects of your health, like anxiety levels, weight gain, unhealthy food cravings, etc.images

 

 

Want to get even better beauty sleep and health? Visit my website and schedule a complimentary health coaching consultation with me so we can find out what works best for your lifestyle.

You Are Invited! Slim Down For Summer and Join Me For A Summer Anti-Inflammation Detox

17327_10204034803084733_8189935535209272625_nWho else wants to feel totally energized, vibrant, and renewed this summer? Who wants to feel the best they’ve ever felt, lose some weight, and think more clearly than ever before? If this speaks to you, then join me this summer for an anti-inflammation detox and elimination diet!

Is a detox right for you? 

• Do you have trouble concentrating and/or staying focused?

• Do you feel tired or lethargic?
• Do you experience frequent colds or flues?
• Do you have joint pain or stiffness?

• Do you get frequent headaches?
• Are you overweight?
• Have you had a change in body odor or taste in your mouth?
• Do you have dark circles under your eyes?
• Does you skin lack luster?
• Do you have acne, eczema, or psoriasis?
• Do you have constipation (less than one bowel movement/day)?

• Do you have gas, bloating, or indigestion?
• Do you look puffy or bloated?
• Do you have high cholesterol or fatty liver disease?

If you answered “yes” to any of the following questions, then consider detoxing!

What is a detox?

A detox removes toxins from the body, almost like a “spring clean” for the soul to renew your inner self. We are exposed to numerous toxins every day, whether it’s through the air we breath, the food we eat, or the products we use. Stress is a very large contributor to inflammation too, and is also responsible for 75-90% of hospital visits.

As a result of all these toxins in our system, our body becomes inflamed. Although inflammation is typically the body’s natural, healthy immune response (think redness, soreness, or swelling), chronic inflammation often flies under the radar, disengaging the inflammation shut-off button. Chronic, low-level inflammation is also known as the “silent killer,” because it develops without pain and research shows it can lead to obesity, diabetes, cancer, Alzheimer’s, and heart disease among other illnesses.

There are different types of detoxes out there, but I want to focus on the anti-inflammation detox, because reducing levels of inflammation is SO critical for achieving optimum health and avoiding big health problems down the road. This anti-inflammation detox focuses on hormone balance, limiting stress levels, improving sleep, and the elimination diet, which are all important factors that’ll contribute to abundant health and wellbeing. Hormones control everything in our body from the reproductive system to mood, energy levels, sleep, and appearance. All of the sources I previously mentioned that cause inflammation also can cause hormonal imbalances, and create symptoms like irritability, fatigue, inability to lose weight, unhealthy food cravings, and even conditions like diabetes, osteoporosis, or heart disease.

Health Benefits To Expect From This Detox:

  • Improved hormonal balance and fat burning with better liver function.
  • Relief from the effects of harmful excess estrogen (sex hormone).
  • Reduced insulin and less inflammation.
  • Restored serotonin activity and enhanced mood, memory, and focus.
  • Maximized activity of thyroid hormone (energy hormone).
  • Support of the breakdown and clearance of cortisol (stress hormone) from the body.
  • Better appetite control, freedom from cravings, and enhanced fat burning through improved leptin levels.
  • Diminished cellulite.

From this detox you will also learn to identify food sensitivities and allergies, which I will get into more just below.

Detox Details

1. Media Detox

This portion of the detox might be hardest for most. Although you will not need to abstain from media entirely, the more you can power down (especially before bed), the better. This will help greatly to reduce stress levels and improve sleep.

2. Restorative Sleep

Getting quality sleep is extremely important for balancing hormones and reducing inflammation.  It also makes it easier for us to stick with our health goals.

3. Replace home goods, cleaning products, and beauty products with natural, chemical-free products

Although this can be costly, over time I recommend switching out products for natural, chemical-free, or homemade versions to reduce and eliminate toxins. Think about it, over 80,000 industrial chemicals have been developed in the last 80 years, and these chemicals are found in almost every commercial product you use! These chemicals completely disrupt hormone balance and contribute to life-threatening illnesses.

4. Stress Management

Most of us suffer from stress in some way, whether it’s environmental, from food, work-related, relationship-related, personal, or psychological. When stress goes untreated, it suppresses the body’s immune system and ultimately manifests as illness. Stress is also a huge contributor to digestive troubles. Throughout this detox I will be coaching participants on ways to reduce and eliminate stress, since stress also leads to inflammation!

5. The Elimination Diet

It’s hard to pinpoint food allergies or sensitivities, so this part of the detox will help you discover your trigger foods. Over 10 days, we will eliminate some of the most toxic or most commonly allergenic foods from the diet: sugar, processed foods and hydrogenated oils, alcohol, caffeine, corn, dairy, cigarettes, red meats, citrus fruit, peanuts, night shade vegetables, and gluten.

Don’t freak out. You may be thinking “well what’s left for me to eat?,” but that’s where I step in.  Not only will I be coaching you through this process, but I will also set up a support system with the rest of the group members. I will provide you with delicious recipes, meal plans, and whole food education, and don’t forget, I will be joining you for this detox too!

After the ten days of the elimination diet, then the real work starts. Over the course of about three weeks you will begin to reintroduce one food at a time back to your diet. Introduce a food, see how you feel after eating it for two days, then eliminate that food again and start with a new food for two days. This process repeats itself until you’ve tested out all types of inflammatory foods.

The great thing about this detox is that you will feel so much better afterwards that it’ll be easier to incorporate this type of eating on your own.  You’ll be resetting and refreshing your body, so you may even notice that you might not even crave some of the foods you used to crave before, making healthy eating way more convenient!

What You’ll Get With This Detox

For $50.00 (USD), you will receive health coaching, group support, recipes, meal plans, and tips to set yourself up for lasting health improvements!  My health coaching services are normally triple this rate, so take advantage of this opportunity!

Here is what to expect:

-the anti-inflammation overview packet

  • information I’ve compiled about the detox
  • detox Q & A
  • list of foods to eliminate
  • list of foods to include
  • types of activities to include

-tips and tricks that’ll help with the detox, but will also help you after the detox

  • stress management techniques
  • whole food education
  • identifying and deconstructing cravings
  • group health coaching with check ins a couple times a week
  • helpful tips to help you through the detox

-recipes and meal plan

  • a sample meal plan for 10 days
  • recipes for every meal

-group support

  • access to a Facebook support group with other members
  • a partner to share triumphs and set backs with and to have as an accountability coach
  • I’ll be regularly posting tips and tricks here to help with the detox

-unlimited email support with me

  • I’ll be available to answer any questions via email

Join Me!

If this detox speaks to you, then please write me an email so I’ll have your contact information!  This detox will begin the week of July 13, 2015, but it is important to give yourself at least a week leading up to the beginning of the detox to get yourself ready!

You can reach me via email at jessicakhealth@gmail.com and don’t forget to visit my website and sign up for my newsletter www.jkhealthcoach.com.

Spicy Crunchy Roasted Chickpeas

Crunchy, salty, and packed with protein, chickpeas are the perfect snack. Just one cup of chickpeas has 39 grams of protein! I can eat a whole batch of spicy chickpeas in one sitting, so the recipe below is two servings worth. This recipe is SO simple! All you have to do is season the chickpeas with spices and olive oil, toss them, and roast them!

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Ingredients

-2 (15 oz) cans chickpeas (garbanzo beans), thoroughly rinse and drain

-2 tablespoons EVOO

-1 teaspoon cumin

-1 teaspoon chili powder

-1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

-1/2 teaspoon sea salt

Instructions

1. Heat oven to 400 degrees F.  Place rack in the middle of the oven.

2. Put chickpeas in a bowl with all spices and olive oil.  Evenly coat the chickpeas, then place on a lined cookie sheet.  Roast in the oven for 40 minutes or longer depending on how crispy you prefer you want them.

5 Healthy Breakfast Recipes Your Kids Will Love!

breakfastIt’s so important to have a nutritious breakfast.  You want your kids to start the morning with something that’ll fuel them for a large portion of their day.  I believe superfoods, protein, complex carbohydrates, healthy fats, vitamins, and fiber are all vital for energy, sharp focus, growth, a strong immune system, vibrant skin, and healthy digestion.

BEWARE

Steer clear of sugary breakfast foods and beware of misleading labels.  Sugar is addictive and horrible for your health, so power your kids with something nutritious in the morning instead! Juice also has a lot of sugar in it and lacks the fiber that fruit provides. Your kids may show symptoms of an intolerance too (milk is a common one), so for a morning beverage, try a healthy smoothie or fruit-infused waters. Lemon, cucumber, berries…any combination that tastes good in your water. I keep a large container of infused water in my fridge so it’s convenient at any time.  If you have fizzy water you can add fruit to that too.

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EAT THIS

Here are five breakfast recipes that will taste like a treat!

  • chia seed pudding – Chia seeds are packed with protein, omega-3s, fiber, calcium, and antioxidants. When the chia seeds expand in liquid they become gelatinous, and that actually helps cleanse your digestive system. I love chia seed pudding too because there are so many ways to have it! Chocolate, strawberry, almond, coconut, etc… If your kids are up for trying this I think they might like it!
  • banana peanut butter open face sandwich  Bananas are great. They offer fiber, a ton of potassium, and lots of vitamins. They sustain blood sugar and boost energy. Add some peanut butter and nuts on top for protein, healthy fat, and fiber among other vitamins which will all naturally provide energy for longer periods of time without a huge crash like you get after eating sugar.
  • Bacon, Eggs, and Apple Slices – Believe it or not, if you buy quality bacon and pastured eggs and you add some apple, you got a well balanced meal. There are so many ways to quickly make eggs. If you can get your kid to do a scramble one day and add some vegetables that would be awesome! Look for nitrate free, or uncured, bacon. It doesn’t have added chemicals. This meal will give your kid protein and fiber, and if you cook the eggs in a healthier oil like extra virgin olive oil or a little quality organic butter, then your kid will also get brain-fueling, healthy fat. I recommend using one egg yolk for every two egg whites. The whites have all the protein, and the yolk contains the healthy fat.
  • french toast with berries – French toast was always one of my childhood favorites. However, I remember always feeling sick after eating it (especially after drenching the toast in Aunt Jemima syrup). This recipe uses healthier substitutes like cottage cheese and almond milk, which eliminates some of the dairy that many kids are intolerant to.
  • Jessica’s superfood smoothie (serves 2) – I love starting my morning off with this energizing smoothie. It’s full of antioxidants, fiber, vitamins, protein, and omegas. I add a handful of spinach to my drink, but that’s totally optional. I blend:

1 cup unsweetened almond milk

1/2 cup organic strawberries

1 banana

1/2 cup blueberries

1/2 cup raspberries

1 tablespoon chia seeds, 1 tablespoon flaxseed, 1 tablespoon hemp seed (I eyeball it for all the seeds)

1 scoop maca powder (amazing health benefits)

2 teaspoons bee pollen (high in protein!)

1 tablespoon cacao nibs

Blend everything and enjoy this energy drink. Serve alongside some avocado toast.

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FYI- some of the seeds and maca powder can be found for a better price in the bulk bins at Whole Foods.

Three Health Myths Busted!

Myth #1: The Less You Salt Your Food The Better

209785620_2515_detail-300x225For years we’ve heard about Americans’ high salt intake and the American Heart Association‘s instructions to reduce salt consumption.  The truth is that salt is essential to our diet and offers many health benefits, but many Americans consume too much regular old table salt which is processed and stripped of its minerals, not quality sea salt which retains potassium, magnesium, calcium, and other minerals. These mineral properties found in sea salt lower the stress hormone, cortisol, which leads to a healthy weight and fast metabolism.  Too little salt in the diet, under 2300mg of salt a day, can actually lead to heart disease and early mortality. Salt contributes to improved sleep, because it balances our hormones, supports thyroid function, reduces stress hormones, and increases metabolic rate. If you’re experiencing low energy, try sucking a few sea salt crystals and see how you feel.

For more information on the health benefits of salt, click here.

Myth 2: You Can Eat Whatever You Want As Long As You Exercise

My dad was an athlete. He always used to tell me that as long as I exercised I could eat whatever I wanted. I was an active kid too, so I always ate whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted, and as much as I wanted.  Turns out, this is a myth!  Just because you exercise does not mean you should live off of table sugar and processed junk and eat as much of it as you want.  These foods are never good for us, they just aren’t natural.  There are many foods that are healthier and will better fuel the body for exercise anyway. Exercise also isn’t the most effective way to lose weight, researchers say. Exercise has many health benefits and is good for maintaining weight and curbing hunger, but proper nutrition is the quickest way to lose pounds.

Myth #3: Diet Drinks Aid in Weight Loss

diet-soda-weight-loss1-300x300Soda might as well be renamed “death in a can.” The high sugar content and unnatural ingredients have many known health risks, but what about the diet versions?  “Diet” sodas swap out sugar for artificial sweeteners that contain chemicals that cause cancer. These diet products also contribute to weight gain, since the artificial sweeteners cause cravings for calorie-dense foods.  Historically we aren’t used to getting our calories from our beverages, so our bodies aren’t satisfied after drinking sugary drinks and want more.  Stick to water as often as possible, or if you’re looking to ween yourself off soda, try switching to flavored seltzer.

5 Tips to Reduce Stress Instantly

75%-90% of all doctor visits are stress related.  When stress goes untreated it suppresses the body’s immune system and ultimately manifests as illness. Poor nutrition, environment, career, unhealthy relationships, and lifestyle can all impact your body by releasing cortisol, the body’s stress hormone. While it’s normal to release cortisol, it’s important for your body to return to its normal cortisol levels following a stressful event.  In our high-stress culture though, your body doesn’t always have the chance to return to its normal cortisol levels, so your body is constantly in fight or flight mode which makes you more prone to several negative effects.

Here are five tips to help you reduce your stress instantly:

1. Make lists

You’re busy and have tons to juggle.  Writing things down, creating lists, and prioritizing tasks is one of the quickest fixes for reducing daily stress.  I recommend keeping a list of everything you need to get done for the day, then reorganizing these tasks in order of importance.  I also suggest completing the least exciting or hardest task before 11:00am.  Our willpower and focus is only good for so long, so put your energy towards finishing the most stressful work for the day earlier on.  That way by 11am you can take a big sigh of relief, because the rest of the day just got easier.

2. Move your body 

Early morning surfset with my girls!

Early morning surfset with my girls!

Our bodies crave movement.  Find something you have fun doing and make it part of your daily routine. Exercise is a way of releasing built up tension, so instead of reaching for the sugar and booze, get your body moving if you’re stressed.  It doesn’t have to be an intense workout.  Get off the subway a little early and walk the rest of the way to work, or take a work break to stand up and stretch at your desk.  You’ll feel much better!  Find a type of exercise that works for your body’s needs.  What did you like to do as a kid?  What makes you feel good?

3. Breathe 

Do you ever experience moments where you realize that you haven’t been breathing?  I mean, really breathing, like from the belly.  Start breathing consciously.  Slow your breath down and allow your body to relax for a moment.  Can you see your belly moving in and out or are you just breathing through your nose?  Breathe in for four counts and out for four counts, breathing through the belly.

4. Self-massage

Loving touch is so important to our mental health.  We crave affection and not all of us get it on a regular basis.  Give yourself some love.  Try massaging yourself.  Do you have tension in your shoulders?  Your temples?  Your neck? Breathe consciously and use your hands to make yourself feel good!

5. Lavender essential oils

Essential oils have been used for centuries for healing. Lavender oil has many therapeutic effects, and it’s a personal Lavender_lgfavorite for relaxing the mind and body and reducing stress. Poor sleep is often a result of stress, so lavender oil is especially useful at night before bed.  I like to put a couple drops on my hands to rub over my pillows. I’ll also put a couple drops on the back of my neck to relieve tension, and there are tons of other uses and methods for applying lavender oil.

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8 Tips to Help Yourself Eat Better During the Week

We are busy people and not enough of us make the time to take care of our health. Eating well is much easier when we plan ahead, and even easier when we get other people involved.  When we designate one day for food prep, we allow ourselves more time during the week to rest, relax, and enjoy our pre-prepped food.  I recommend Sunday as the day for cooking and preparation.  This way, when our lives our full of stress and things to do, we have pre-prepped meals to look forward to.

Top tips for eating better during the week:

1. Make a batch of your favorite whole grains 

Whole grains can be very versatile.  I love to cook a big thing of rice or quinoa that’ll last me through the week. For breakfast I personally love putting eggs over rice with avocado and hot sauce, and then for other meals top the rice with vegetables or other forms of protein.  Fried rice is an easy enough recipe that’s always a favorite.  For more information and a list of all whole grains, click here.

2. Designate one day for prepping

As mentioned above, one of the most useful tips I have is to prep ahead of time. On your designated prep day, slice all your veggies, cook your whole grains, and soak your beans.  This saves time and makes eating healthy more realistic.

3.  Cook once, eat twice (or more!)

Prepare enough food while cooking to have leftovers.  Take advantage of the time you have to cook, because it can be hard to guarantee you’ll have time or even want to cook the rest of the week.

4. Keep a food journal

It’s easy to forget the meals we eat.  If your goal is to lose weight or discover what foods work best for your body, I always advise my clients to keep a food journal. Keeping a food journal not only helps us track what we eat eat and our portion sizes, but we can note things we are feeling emotionally or physically when we eat or after we eat. Identifying our emotions or even things we are feeling physically from eating helps us pinpoint food intolerances or allergies, and can even answer questions about other physical ailments.

From my own experience, it wasn’t until I started noting how I felt physically and emotionally after I ate processed foods and sugar that I was able to solve feelings of anxiety and depression. I realized those foods made me physically sick to my stomach, and I was also experiencing high levels of serotonin while eating the food, and suffering from low dopamine levels after the sugar high wore off.  Most of us probably aren’t conscious of these things as we’re eating and going about our lives, but once we stop and think about it, we may discover things we didn’t realize about our bodies.

6. Cook at home

I love going out to eat.  It’s convenient, there are lots of options, and the food tastes pretty good, but why not save some money and calories by cooking yourself?  When we eat out, there’s no way of controlling what exactly goes into our food.  I enjoy cooking because I know exactly where my food comes from, I have control over what I put in my food, and I get to pick what I want to eat.  Aim to eat at least two homemade meals a day, then work toward three meals at home a day.

7. Plan your meals

It’s much easier to eat well during the week if we take some time to plan meals ahead of time.  Make a grocery list and write out what you plan to eat every day. There’s no need to get fancy.  If you like having oatmeal for breakfast every morning and vegetable stir fry for dinner, then go for it!

8. Add in vegetables, nuts, legumes, fruit, and whole grains

By adding in more vegetables, nuts, legumes, fruit, and whole grains to our diet, we can naturally crowd out unhealthier foods and prevent unhealthy food cravings.  When we fill up on foods that nourish our body, we become more satisfied quicker, so we’re less likely to go for the desserts or snacks after we eat.

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Pay me a visit at www.jkhealthcoach.com to learn more about how working with a health coach can benefit you and the ones you love!

Important Things My Physician Never Addressed

Western medicine is extremely necessary and saves many lives every day.  That being said, doctors are busy people, so it’s not often we get the time we deserve with our doctors to get a full health assessment. Wouldn’t it be nice not to feel pressured by the doctor’s time constraint so that we could address everything that may play a factor in our health and wellbeing?  Think about the times you or someone you know was prescribed a pharmaceutical drug.  Did the doctor ever take the time to go over nutrition, lifestyle, and the role stress plays in our health before prescribing that little pill? Does that pill even get to the root of the problem, or does it simply act as a Bandaid, a temporary solution, for your problem?

John Oliver talks about the relationships between doctors and pharmaceutical companies the other night…

Over the years, I have had several instances with doctors where I was diagnosed for something or prescribed something without receiving proper education or a full health check, like what was going on in my life at the time or what my diet consisted of.  Here are some experiences I’d like to share with you:

Antibiotics

I think there have been at least three occasions in my life when I was prescribed antibiotics, each time by a different doctor.  Antibiotics are used to kill bacteria, but in the process also clean out the healthful bacteria inside our intestines that we need, often causing leaky gut syndrome.  Probiotics is a term I never ever heard until just a few years ago through my own research, but is absolutely something I should have been educated about by my physician.  Whenever taking antibiotics, probiotics are essential, as they add back healthy bacteria to our guts. Definitely if you suffer from any type of digestive disorder, if you’ve ever been treated with antibiotics, or if you just want to do something amazing for your body for the hell of it, try taking probiotics. For a list of probiotics, visit my article here.

25-1-e1391041324424PMS

Ladies, some of you may be able to relate to this one.  For many years I suffered from debilitating cramps, depression, and unhealthy food cravings the week before my period and during my period.  None of my doctors ever talked to me about the importance of eating well, especially around the time of my period.  I knew that my hormones were out of whack, but I never knew the science behind what was happening with my hormones. Estrogen levels rise as do our food cravings.  I would crave and indulge in greasy foods, and would get awful cramps and hate the way I felt as a result, because my serotonin levels were suddenly dropping after the moments of pleasure while eating all that food.  I felt more sad after indulging, and didn’t understand my body really didn’t want those onion rings, and that eating those foods would only increase feelings of depression. Not to mention I possibly had leaky gut syndrome as a result from my antibiotics and some undiagnosed food allergies.  Once I learned to eat better, hydrate, and get light exercise instead of pigging out and feeling sorry for myself, I no longer get symptoms of PMS.  Food, herbs, essential oils, and taking care of myself have become my monthly medicine.  Here’s what someone should have told me to eat:

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ADHD

In high school I was tested, diagnosed, and medicated for ADHD.  My mom was anti-drugs and I was all gung-ho about them at the time.  After all, high school was tough, college was near, and I was only a B-average student.  Not good enough in my mind.  I remember telling my physician I wanted the ADHD medicine, Adderall.  His response, was “Sure, you want Adderall?  Then let me just InTune__72556.1407635934.1280.1280write you up a prescription, no problem,” about as casual as if I had asked him to borrow a pen.

I grew dependent on my medication, taking unnecessarily large amounts of the drugs every day and paying the price in happiness and in health along the way.  I became secluded and distanced myself from friends, stopped eating, developed insomnia, and was unhappy unless I was cracked out doing work.  Nobody ever thought to discuss the bigger picture with me when deciding whether to write me a prescription.  My diet was crap, I wasn’t properly hydrated, I had just stopped playing sports after being super active my whole life, and I was stressed from social and parental pressure to do well at school and get into college.  Nobody told me that changing the way I eat and drinking lots of water could improve my attentiveness.  I never heard of any natural forms of healing like essential oils, which can kick ass at assisting in maintaining focus.  I didn’t realize that my sudden lack of activity was making me restless and contributing to my lack of energy.  When I finally decided to stop my medication midway through college, I couldn’t believe how well I could focus on my own if I put my mind to it and used other techniques to maintain mental clarity.

Hypoglycemia

When I was about 10-years-old I fainted during class.  My mom took me to see my physician who diagnosed me with hypoglycemia.  I learned that hypoglycemia means your body is in insulin shock, which depletes blood sugar to abnormally low levels.  The doctor instructed me to drink some soda or have some candy when I was feeling faint, and especially in the afternoons around crash time toward the end of the school day. What the doctor didn’t mention, however, was that this didn’t mean I could eat as much sugar as I wanted.  I learned to make sweets an excuse for eating whatever and whenever I wanted, which created unhealthy habits with food. Another thing my physician didn’t discuss was why I was suddenly hypoglycemic.  It was probably important to know that I wasn’t eating enough at or before school, and the foods I ate weren’t the most satiating forms of energy.  My diet mainly consisted of cereal, bread, cookies, and soda, when I should have been eating whole grains, healthy fats, protein, and vegetables.

Cancer

This part is my mom’s story.  My mom was diagnosed with breast cancer (luckily, very early on) in 2008. She kicked cancer’s ass, but had to continue taking about 10 different types of pills daily, up until about two months ago.  After seven years of taking these pills, which of course created other health problems like arthritis, bone density loss, and muscle and joint problems, and depletion of her normal hormone levels, my mom was fed up with taking them and finally asked her doctor why she had never spoken to her about her diet and lifestyle.  The doctor’s response was, “Oh sure, nutrition can help,” but offered no prescription of leafy greens, antioxidants, or yoga.

Food and living well can absolutely be your medicine, although as stated before, Western medicine certainly has its place. 25-1-e1391041324424

If you have a personal story please feel free to share in the comments below.  Most of us have experienced something similar to what I’ve described, even if you’re just realizing it now as you’re reading this article. I know I could go on and on about friends’ personal stories of being misdiagnosed or treated for something with a pill that created a whole list of awful side effects.

I understand the impact stress has on our physical and mental wellbeing.  As a health coach, I give my clients the time they deserve to talk freely about their health and the areas of their lives that affect happiness and health: relationships, career, spirituality, and physical exercise. Satisfaction in these four areas, along with proper nutrition, is the key to lifelong happiness and health, not a little pharmaceutical pill.  Consider all the money you can save on doctor visits and bills by taking control of your diet and lifestyle today.  So, next time you need to pay a visit to the doctor, discuss the bigger picture with your physician, and remember that food, rest, and balance are often the answers to healing.stress

If you have any questions about any of the above topics, essential oils, or health coaching, please drop me a line at jessicakhealth@gmail.com.

JessJessica Kleid

Owner of Jessica Kleid Health Coaching

http://www.jkhealthcoach.com