There is nothing more eye-opening than becoming a parent. The moment you find out that you are pregnant, it is as if you realize just how dangerous everything is that surrounds you. That soap? Toxic. That packaged food? Poison. The microwave? Death. Suddenly, you throw yourself into learning about the healthiest, safest items possible. This little life you are growing will enter the world completely perfect, and you want to provide an environment full of safe items and positive experiences. There are enough uncontrollable toxins flying around to worry about, make sure that the things you bring into your home don’t add to the list.
One of the biggest fears most new parents experience is SIDS. It is terrifying because the cause has not yet been determined; although, we can look at a pattern of toxic exposures in relation to SIDS occurrences and form our own opinions. While keeping your baby in your room is highly recommended, one thing that is often not talked about is the quality of your baby’s mattress. Toxic chemicals are found in the materials used to make the most commonly sold crib mattresses (and all mattresses for that matter!). Did you ever even think that a mattress could be dangerous?
All crib mattresses have the same overall construction: the core, the padding, flame retardant material/chemicals, and a cover or “ticking,” which may also have chemicals added to make it waterproof. Crib mattresses range from those made almost entirely of petroleum–based products (petroleum = SCARY dangerous) to others made of natural fibers like wool or cotton.
According to Women’s Voices for the Earth:
- 72% of surveyed mattress models use one or more chemicals of concern identified in this report, such as antimony, vinyl, polyurethane, and other volatile organic compounds.
- 40% use vinyl coverings.
- 22% use proprietary formulas for waterproofers, flame retardants or antibacterials, keeping potential health impacts secret.
- 20% of surveyed mattresses offer some “green” components but do not take meaningful steps to ensure products are free of toxic chemicals.
Crib mattress may contain chemicals of concern in any of the four layers. For example:
- Some flame retardants are made with antimony, which is also a contaminant of polyester. Long-term inhalation of low levels is linked to eye irritation and heart and lung problems.
- Vinyl, used as a waterproof cover, relies on many toxic chemicals throughout its production, including cancer-causing chemicals, asthma triggers, and developmental toxins.
- Polyurethane foam, also appearing as “memory foam” or “soy foam,” is made with a potentially cancer-causing chemical, and may emit harmful “VOCs”—volatile organic compounds—in the home. VOC’s can also be found in synthetic latex foam. VOC’s can irritate eyes, nose and throat, cause headaches and some cause cancer.
- Companies that use proprietary chemicals, or refuse to disclose chemical use, make it impossible to determine potential health threats. In the absence of disclosure, assume they may cause harm.
What brand mattress should you go with?
The following companies have been noted to be safe and reliable (this is not an all-inclusive list):
- White Lotus
- Land and Sky
- Natural Mat
- Organic Mattresses, Inc.
- Pure Rest
- Savvy Rest
- Shepherd’s Dream
- Soaring Heart Natural Bed Company
- Suite Sleep
This information is also relevant for all mattresses, not jus crib mattresses.
Take the time to research before you purchase and air your mattress out for at least a week before using it!
Learn more about mattress chemicals and dangers:
Breech births occur in approximately 1 in 25 full-term births, but this statistic is drastically skewed due to the number of mothers who opt for an elective c-section between gestational weeks 37-40 due to their baby’s position.
As a family chiropractor, I see many mothers throughout their pregnancies. I cannot begin to count to number of women who begin to worry about a baby who is sitting in a breech position. The first thing that I remind them is that there is still time! Until labor actually begins, and even throughout early labor, there is time for a baby to change positions. However, I completely understand the state of panic as the weeks fly by and a baby remains in a less than ideal position.
I will cover all of the ins and outs of the Webster Technique and how chiropractors can aid in helping a pregnancy be as uneventful as possible in another post, but today I want to break down breech positioning and the options you have as the mother.
To begin, there are several positions in which a fetus can become situated in utero; the most common being head down in an either left or right occipital anterior position. This means that the baby’s back is facing the mother’s abdomen (complete OA position) or is turned slightly with the back facing the left or right side of the mother and the head looking the other direction. These are commonly referred to as LOA and ROA positions (Left or Right OA). While these are the most common and easiest to birth positions, there are several other options a baby may choose.
A transverse, or side-lying baby is the only position in which is truly unsafe to birth. It can possibly be fatal for both baby and mother; however, a c-section does not need to be scheduled, as a baby can turn once labor begins. When the body begins labor, different hormones are released and both mother and baby work together. This can encourage the baby to turn head down. If baby’s position does not turn as the labor progresses, a c-section will be needed.
A breech baby, one who is sitting upright, presents a whole new level of challenges. There are three breech positions:
• Frank (or extended) breech—legs are straight and feet are up near the baby’s head.
• Complete (or flexed) breech—knees are bent, but feet are above the baby’s bottom.
• Footling breech—feet are below the baby’s bottom.
Most medical birth teams will start discussing the scheduling of a c-section after 36 weeks gestation. Typically, it is recommended to have the surgery between 38-40 weeks gestation, but it seems that most doctors choose never to discuss the most natural option: let labor occur naturally. It wasn’t but a few decades ago that all doctors (and midwives) delivered breech babies. It is known as a ‘hands-off’ delivery, meaning the birth team does not assist the baby as it is born. Pulling, tugging, or rotating a breech baby as it is born can cause severe problems, complications, or even end in death. Due to these risks, most doctors today have never even witnessed a breech birth, therefore will not perform one. It is a sad turn of events, as the risk is so little, and is truly only an increased risk when the birth is interfered with.
Breech presentation can be the effect of a pregnancy with multiple fetuses, placenta previa, amniotic fluid levels in abnormal range, abnormal pelvic conditions, or just a stubborn baby. It can be easy to learn that your baby is in this position, as kicks are felt in the lower abdomen. An ultrasound will also tell you more exact information.
If you are faced with a breech pregnancy and would like to help baby find a better position, there are several things you can do:
Practice Good Posture: Poor posture can encourage poor fetal positioning.
Exercises from www.SpinningBabies.com
Chiropractic Adjustments: The Webster Technique has a high success rate with encouraging babies to find a more ideal birthing position.
Therapeutic Massage: Muscles and tendons control more than one would expect. By using pressure points and massage, the body can be triggered to relax and allow the baby to move easier.
External Version: This manipulation is not recommended until after 34 weeks gestation, but most doctors will not perform the technique until 38 weeks, as they want baby’s lungs developed prior to trying to manually ‘flip’ the baby. This technique does not come without risks, as it can cause the placenta to be torn from the uterine wall, bleeding to occur, and immediate delivery of the baby. While rare, these are possible outcomes and make sure you discuss them with your birthing team.
Of course, there is always the option of having a vaginal breech birth. Finding a doctor who will perform this delivery may not be easy, but it is not impossible. Several midwives will attend breech deliveries, and it is your right to birth your baby as you please. A hospital may have you sign a waiver that you are going against medical recommendations, but it is your birth. You need to feel comfortable with your birth team and confident in your decisions, no matter what you choose.
Dr. Brenda’s tips for decluttering your home and life that will help you become a happier and less stressed mother.
There’s no denying that motherhood bears the weight of a thousand loads (of laundry). It seems that nothing would be accomplished without a mom running the show. On top of the working, laundry, meal-planning, grocery shopping, boo-boo kissing, bed-making, party planning, gift shopping, errand running, lunch packing, back-to-school preparing, calendar scheduling, and chauffeuring of children there is an expectation that she also mentally be sane. Yes, it’s true, as mothers we are assumed to be able balance it all with grace and without (much) complaint.
But is it possible? Probably not 100% possible, but, are there ways to help you find happiness and reduce stress in your day-to-day life as a mom? ABSOLUTELY.
Science shows that decluttering your space reduces stress, improves focus, and increases overall happiness. When relating this theory to motherhood, it can be said that losing the clutter in your home will help you juggle the rest of your obligations easier and with a more peaceful demeanor.
How do you declutter? Isn’t decluttering just adding one more thing to your plate?
5 Tips to Declutter Your House
- Limit your laundry: This doesn’t mean give all your clothes away. It means stick what isn’t worn in a month’s time into a storage tub to be looked at again later. Keeping your own closet limited will make getting dressed easier each day. Now the hard part? Do the same thing to your children’s closets.
- Get rid of toys: Your kids do not need every plastic thing ever made. Studies show that most kids actually have no idea what toys they own because they have so much crap. If you aren’t ready to truly get rid of it, put 75% of it in boxes and store it away for a rainy day.
- Knick Knacks are for your grandma. We are the generation of minimalists. We do not want our old report cards or yearbooks. The more crap on your shelves, the more crap you have to clean.
- Dump the Junk Drawer(s): Literally, dump them out into the trash. They are junk. Do not overthink this process.
- Store things out of sight. Use basement storage, attic space, or invest in a garage storage system, but get the crap out of your sight every day. You’ll want to keep the holiday décor, the hand-me-downs for the baby, and maybe a few other random things, but they need a place out of mind.
5 Tips to Declutter Motherhood
- Establish routine and daily goals. Load and run the dishwasher every night and unload it every morning. Start a load of laundry every day after breakfast and fold it every night after the kids are in bed.
- Leave your phone in another room and ignore social media. It soaks up more hours of your day than you can imagine. Unplug and be present.
- Breathe fresh air and exercise. An oxygenated brain through fresh air and working out makes the entire body feel happier.
- Limit playdates, sports, and activities. When the calendar is overfilled, the mind cannot process one day from the next.
- Do not listen to others’ expectations. Let others fly or fail on their own terms, do not drown because of them. There is no gold medal at the end of all of this. There is no Mother of the Year. There is just you and your own happiness while journeying alongside of your children.
A few more random tips:
Each day, complete your chores before tackling any decluttering. Your mind will not focus on the task at hand until you have completed what needs done.
If you can afford, hire a cleaning service to come in as often as possible. Not scrubbing your toilets can be enough to make you happy for an entire week. If you can’t afford this, stick to a cleaning schedule that holds you accountable for a little ach day.
This is hard. This will not happen overnight. You are worth it. You deserve less stress and more happiness.
At least 10% of women, that is over 5,000,000 women in the United States are affected by PCOS, with at least 50% of women suffering being misdiagnosed or undiagnosed all together. The true number of women living with pain is far larger than any research has been able to detect.
If you are diagnosed, the treatment is limited, at best, and most women are told they will have symptoms and ailments throughout their lives. Considered to be the most common endocrine disorder among fertile-aged women, it is no wonder that infertility is on the rise.
A condition is which a woman over-produces the male sex hormones, PCOS means there is an imbalance of estrogen and androgens within the body. This can be noted by:
- Facial Hair
- Weight Gain
- Ovarian Cysts
- Irregular/Absent Menstrual Cycle
- Hair Loss
- Extreme Cramping and Pain
- Mood Swings
- Pelvic Pain
- Sleep Problems
- Type II Diabetes
- Eating Disorders
- Cardiovascular Disease
- Other Health Issues
PCOS is not only genetic, but it can be triggered through environmental factors, too. New research explores the high possibility that PCOS gene mutations can take place within the womb. This leads to environmental triggers bringing about symptoms if puberty does not. Obesity, chronic inflammation, poor diet/lifestyle choices, and exposure to endocrine-disrupting chemicals all pay a role in the development of Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome.
Every PCOS case should be looked at independently, and treatment should be discussed and planned according to each woman. However, the best place to start is with a diet that restores insulin sensitivity to the body.
Fill your plate with high-quality protein (about 4 ounces worth):
- Wild-caught fish
- Organic Chicken
- Grass-fed beef
- Free-range eggs
- Pasture-based dairy
This means no processed or fast food items enter the body. Skip boxed foods and stick with whole foods.
Healthy Fats (Remember to cook with fats that are good for your body):
- Pasture-based butter
- Organic Olive, Coconut, or Avocado Oil
Exercising daily improves metabolism and insulin sensitivity.
Avoiding endocrine-disruptive chemicals can lessen symptoms and improve fertility/pain experiences. Avoid the following:
- BPA (Found in food containers, liners, and cans)
- Phthalates (Found in beauty products, plastic wraps, plastic containers)
- PFCs (Found in non-stick cookware and fabrics)
- Chemical Sunscreens (Any including oxybenzone)
While working with a doctor, herbalist, homeopath, or team of your choice, you will find the right supplements combination for you. There are, however, several supplements that have been found to work individually or (as a power house) all together. You can find the following packaged together, but remember to find a high quality supplement.
Maca: An estrogen balancing herb that increases energy, libido, and decreases stress, Maca can be looked at as an all-around bonus to your day.
Calcium-D-Glucarate: At 25 mg daily, C-D-G has been shown to help the body eliminate excess hormones before they re absorbed, aiding in a positive balance.
Cinnamon: At 75 mg daily, cinnamon has been shown to help balance glucose levels.
Vitamin D: Low VitD levels are linked to almost every disease or illness known. PCOS is no exception. Vitamin D paired with calcium has been shown to normalize menstrual cycles.
Omega-3: The liver and cardiovascular health are both benefitted by taking the anti-inflammatory Omega-3’s.
D-Chiro Inositol: The most promising instill compound for PCOS. It can improve insulin sensitivity and ovulation.
The articles are circulating all over social media about Nestle, one of the world’s largest food companies, patenting the rights to a new vegan infant formula. There are articles cheering the company on and singing their praises, and there are articles throwing flames. What side is the right side?
Before I explain their newest product, there needs to be background information given.
Nestle has been (rightly) boycotted by many for a long time now. They make billions of dollars selling water that they bottle for next to nothing, and they continued to bottle their water throughout the extreme drought conditions of California.
Nestle was found to be purchasing its chocolate from farms breaking child slavery laws. In the annual $100 billion chocolate business, Nestle wins consumers with lower prices. These prices are attainable due to the cocoa plantations the company shops at. While they do not own their own plantations, they have plenty of say over the conditions in which their products are chosen from. Supporting plantations that break child labor laws is unethical.
There are more unethical battles that Nestle continues to be involved with, including using suppliers known for clear-cutting for the purpose of palm oil harvesting without permits or government oversight. Palm oil is highly controversial due to issues like rainforest clear-cutting and habitat destruction for multiple animals.
The company continually loses lawsuits, but being the empire that it is, little effects have been felt.
After reading this, learning that Nestle uses its power to potentially harm (or kill) infants in order to become richer may not shock you.
You think I’m being extreme? Well, I wish that were the case. Since the 1970’s, Nestle has entered into poverty stricken countries and brainwashed new mothers into believing that they need formula over breastmilk. They give out just enough samples to last until a mother’s milk production is affected. At this point, the mothers are forced to buy the expensive formula. This is often not possible, meaning babies become malnourished, breastmilk supply is completely lost, and in many cases, infants die.
Let me pause… The issue of infant formula is not on the chopping block here. Everyone knows that breastmilk is the healthiest option, but high-quality formula options are needed to be available. However, using marketing and false information to ruin a healthy and nourishing relationship, possibly leaving a mother to watch her child die of malnourishment, is on the chopping block.
This leads me to the topic at hand:
Nestle’s Vegan Infant Formula
Infants’ guts are extremely impressionable, and they can lead to a lifetime of problems if exposed to toxins or inflammatory, disruptive ingredients. Most formulas are over-processed and filled with ingredients harmful to the gut. It can be hard to choose a formula for your baby if breastfeeding does not work out. The choices are overwhelming.
Infants have a hard time digesting dairy. Even if there is not a true allergy, dairy can cause skin issues, colic, pain, and other ailments. Are you surprised to know that it is found in most formulas on the market? When you start reading labels and realize that finding a non-dairy infant formula means that your baby will then be consuming soy or rice (along with wheat and other fillers). Neither of these are the healthiest of options.
Nestle states that it’s new vegan infant formula will be made from potato protein microparticles and will be hypoallergenic, minimally processed and cost-effective to produce. If released, this will be the first vegan infant formula that is easily available in the United States and Canada. This will allow vegan, non-breastfeeding mothers an easy formula to purchase, along with non-breastfeeding or supplementing mothers whose infants have dairy allergies/sensitivities.
So, the question is: Do you support Nestle creating a vegan infant formula?
New mothers often walk in to my practice after giving birth to be adjusted. Pregnancy can do a number on the body, and proper care can aid and speed the healing process once baby arrives. I generally see mothers enter with a heavy infant car seat in one arm and strain across their face. Those car seats are not light, and they only get heavier as baby grows. I love introducing mothers to babywearing and the benefits it can provide for a family. There’s an entire babywearing world out there that can free you from the lugging of a car seat, keep your hands free, and increase your bonding time with baby.
From a chiropractic standpoint, I want to stress the importance of choosing a carrier with an ergonomic design. Not all baby carriers are created equal, in all actuality, the most common carriers have come to be known as ‘crotch-danglers’ because they put significant pressure on the pubic bones, forcing the legs to dangle. These carriers also cause excess stress to the wearer’s back and shoulders, making babywearing uncomfortable. I highly recommend joining a babywearing international group in your area and borrowing multiple carriers before purchasing; however, you cannot go wrong with any of the recommendations from the group.
Choosing to babywear provides the following:
Transition to the World
Babywearing mimics the movements the baby felt in utero. It is a safe and comfortable place for the baby to be. There is little to no overstimulation due to being worn on the chest and close to the heartbeat.
Bonding Opportunity for the Family
While keeping baby skin-to-skin, or close to Mom’s heartbeat has many benefits, babywearing also gives family members a chance to bond with the baby. Babies learn voices, smells, movements, and faces by being worn.
Babywearing helps keep baby happy while also providing two free hands to continue daily tasks.
Environmental experiences stimulate nerves to branch out and connect with other nerves, which helps the brain grow and develop. Babywearing helps the baby’s developing brain make the right connections. The baby is closely involved in the mother and father’s world and is exposed to, and participates in, the environmental stimuli that mother selects and is protected from those stimuli that bombard or overload her developing nervous system. She so intimately participates in what mother is doing that her developing brain stores a myriad of experiences, called patterns of behavior. Babywearing also enhances speech development; baby is up at voice and eye level, and he is more involved in conversations. This all adds up to brighter, more alert, more intelligent children.
According to Babywearing International:
It is very important to understand basic babywearing safety before ever putting on a carrier. As with any baby product, baby carriers can pose potential safety hazards if they are not used carefully and correctly.
Make sure your child’s airway remains open at all times while babywearing. The best way to do this is to keep him or her in an upright position, high enough on your body to monitor breathing and ensure that her chin is off her chest. Babywearing International recommends that infants only be held in a horizontal or cradle position while actively nursing (if desired) and return to an upright or vertical position as soon as they have finished.
It is also important that your carrier provide adequate support for your infant’s developing neck and back. Ideally baby should be held with his knees higher than his bottom with legs in a spread squat position and support from knee to knee although with older babies and toddlers full knee to knee support is not always possible or necessary. An ergonomic carrier (whether a soft structured carrier, Asian-style carrier, sling, or wrap) will provide better support for baby and will be more comfortable for the caregiver as well.
Always inspect your carrier for wear or damage before use examining it for weak spots, loose stitching, worn fabrics, etc. BWI recommends purchasing a carrier from a reputable manufacturer to ensure that it meets all current US safety, testing, and labeling standards.
Practice all carries—especially back carries–with a spotter, over a bed or couch, or low to the ground until you are completely confident. A BWI meeting is the perfect place to learn new skills with the assistance of a Volunteer Babywearing Educator. In most cases it is best to be comfortable with front carries before attempting back carries.
Always exercise common sense while babywearing. Baby carriers are not an approved child restraint or floatation device and should not be used in moving vehicles or boats. Avoid babywearing in situations where it would not be safe to carry an infant in your arms.
If all diseases begin in the gut, then why aren’t more people concerned with their poop? Our bathroom time may be something we typically avoid talking about, but it’s something that needs to be addressed. If we all understood what was ‘normal’ and wasn’t when it comes to poop, we may be one step closer to becoming a healthier society. (One can hope, anyway.)
The truth is that our stool holds information that we need to know. The consistency, smell, shape, and texture all give us clues to what is going on inside our bodies, more specifically, within our guts. To understand your own stool, you compare it with the Bristol Stool Form Scale (BSF Scale). The scale was developed to make talking about poop with a medical professional easier. It breaks stool into seven categories and allows you to visually compare your own sample.
When analyzing your stool, you will want to note three main items:
The frequency in which you are having a bowel movement. Having at least one complete bowel movement every 24-hours is ideal, with up to three being normal. Depending on your metabolism, quantity (and quality) of food eaten, and the health of your gut bacteria, pooping 1-3 times per day is considered healthy. Eliminating your bowels more frequently than this is considered diarrhea, and less frequently is considered constipation. Even though many people believe having a bowel movement once every 2-3 days is ok, I strongly disagree. Our body is removing toxins and cleaning itself out with each bathroom trip, and storing feces for longer periods of time is not doing the body good.
Did you know that your poop is 50-80% bacteria and not just the digested food being eliminated from your body? This is why I am a firm believer in eliminating the waste daily. The food passes through the digestive tract and collects bacteria as the body absorbs the nutrients needed. When it is expelled, it is the body’s natural way of detoxing from itself.
This is where you utilize the BSF Scale. The formation of your poop is very important, as it tells you if your body is properly digesting foods, absorbing nutrients and combining the acids and toxins properly to be eliminated. There are seven forms of stool within the BSF Scale model ranging from separate lumps to smooth, soft, snake-like poop to watery diarrhea. Below you can see each type. Ideally, you want to fall in the 4th category.
The brown color of your stool comes from the dead red blood cells and bile that is secreted to digest fats. Think of melted milk chocolate, that would be the color of perfectly balanced poop. Stool that is gray-white in color signals a lack of bile and typically means liver problems or clogged bile ducts. Yellow stool can be a sign of parasites present (or cancer in some cases); red or black stool can mean bleeding in the upper GI tract; green stool can mean there is an infection. However, simply eating foods with colorings or dyes can affect your stool coloring, too. The same can be said if you consume a significant amount of naturally colored foods (beets, for example). The key is to note your stool on more than one occurrence. You’ll want to note the color over weeks, not just a day. This way you learn if a food is affecting the color, or if your body is telling you something more.
After digging up the courage to look at your poop, you’ll realize that it’s a whole lot more interesting than you thought! Don’t be afraid to talk to your doctor (or chiropractor!) about your bathroom habits.
To change your stool, consider adapting a healthier diet, increasing water intake, exercising, and removing trigger items from your daily menu (caffeine, dairy, gluten, etc are all common foods that cause problems).
Did you know?
Chiropractic care can help infants, toddlers, children, teens, and adults become more regular with their bowel movements. Multiple studies show that regular care aids the digestive system in properly eliminating toxins from the body, leading to an all-around happier lifestyle.
It’s time for BBQ’s and backyard sitting. The fireflies are blinking, and friends stay well past sunset. I know that I am constantly writing about how chiropractic care aids in healthy living, but it’s time that I branch over into lifestyle choices too!
I’m excited to share a few of my favorite non-alcoholic, healthy drink options to enjoy all summer long. Typically, mocktails are full of food-coloring, naturally flavored, high-sugared mix-ins or sodas. But who wants their pretty drink to add pounds to their waistline, throw off their gut bacteria, or make them feel overall ‘icky’? It’s not always easy to make good food choices, but if you can have a few healthy drink recipes to pull out, it’ll make you feel better about the treats you indulge in!
When creating a non-alcoholic ‘mocktail,’ you’ll want to keep it simple. Avoid anything with processed simple syrup (sugar), drink mixes, juices (not fresh-squeezed), or concentrated juices. These add ingredients that are not needed, calories you don’t want, and are a recipe for a painful belly. Just stick with seltzer, whole and fresh fruits (juiced fruits are good!), and fresh herbs. Trust me, you can create a drink worth Instagraming with just a few healthy ingredients.
You can create your own non-alcoholic drink using any of the following, or you can try one of my favorites:
• Mineral water
• Pomegranate juice
• Unsweetened cranberry juice
• Pressed juice (no sugar added, not from concentrate)
• Acai berry juice
• Green tea
• Coconut water
• Pieces of whole fruit or vegetables
• Fresh herbs like mint and basil
• Citrus peels
The Watermelon Mint Twist
According to Nutrition Stripped, “Watermelon is incredibly hydrating — it’s actually got more water content than most fruits. It’s also a great source of electrolytes and has essential nutrients, vitamins, and antioxidants. Plus, watermelon takes well to a variety of herbs and is naturally sweet so you don’t need to add any sweeteners to enhance its flavor.”
• 1 bottle of pressed watermelon juice
• 1 tablespoon freshly juiced lemon
• 2 mint leaves
Go ahead and add a cube of cut watermelon to your glass!
• cranberry juice (pressed and unprocessed)
• fresh cranberries
With this drink you get the light bubbles on your tongue with the easy cranberry and smooth thyme. It’s pretty and delicious!
• 2 16- ounce bottles Original Kombucha unflavored
• 2 cups 100% orange-mango juice
• 1 ripe mango peeled, pitted, and chopped
• 2 cups fresh strawberries chopped
If you haven’t given kombucha a chance yet, go ahead and try it. The health benefits are amazing, and it’ll add the perfect fizz to your mocktail.
Now that you have decided to embark on an elimination diet for yourself or your child, there are a few things that I would like to cover. Remember why you are doing this and what you hope to gain. This isn’t a fad diet.
8 Tips for a Successful Elimination Diet
Clean Out the Kitchen and Prepare Wisely
This means to research why you are choosing this elimination diet and to take the time to understand and commit to it. If your head is not truly in the game, your chances of successes are minimal. Your health is at stake, educate yourself on why the foods you have been consuming may be the root (or aid in symptoms) of chronic issues. Clean out your pantry and refrigerator and start from scratch. Many seasonings and packaged items that you may think to be harmless are full of flavorings and other products not allowed on your elimination diet.
Meal Prep is Key
Find a few easy to prepare, easy to cook, and easy to clean up after recipes as your staples. The key is not to replace your current diet’s unhealthy foods with a diet-friendly version, but instead, try new foods or learn how to prepare things in new ways. If eating out was a go-to, preparing lunches for the week ahead of time will keep you on track. If dinners are always a last-minute thought, utilizing a slow cooker or pressure cooker may help you out. You can wash, chop, and portion foods after your grocery trip to make them easier to grab for meals throughout the week.
Keep a Food Journal
You need to write down your food consumption times and ingredients. You should also include your mood, sleep patterns, and ailments. You will be able to start seeing a pattern throughout your elimination diet that will help you to decide what foods are safe and which are trigger items.
Have a Support System
Are you entering this elimination diet alone? If a friend or family member is also on board, it will be a bit easier to stay motivated. But it’s completely doable to sail these seas solo, too. It is, however, important to have support. This means that your spouse or family should avoid eating your biggest non-diet foods in front of you. They can help you choose meals, talk with you about your experience, or simply cheer you on. Talking with others who have been through an elimination diet is also extremely helpful (and motivating).
Never Have an Empty Kitchen
When hunger strikes, food needs to be available. Keep high protein, diet-safe snacks premade and portioned and ready to grab. Toss some in your bag and pack a few for work (or school for a child). Visit the grocery store when needed to replenish fresh produce and other daily staples but stick only to what is on your list and avoid aisles filled with foods you are avoiding.
Do Not Cheat
Remember that this is not a weight-loss diet. If you cheat early on in an elimination diet, you will have to start from day 1 again. You will have to give the body time to detox from the consumed items. An elimination diet is done to learn the foods that trigger your ailments. Once you hit ‘baseline’ for a few weeks, you will be allowed to add back in items one at a time. From that point, you will know what triggers your body. Then it is up to you to either limit or permanently eliminate them from your daily life.
The Two-Week Detox Period
The first two weeks will be hard. I am not lying here. The body will go through a detox with headaches, mood swings, and exhaustion, especially if your previous diet consisted of highly-processed foods and lots of sugar. Push through and stay strong. Your body needs to be cleaned out so you can become the healthiest you possible.
The detox period does end, and you will feel better. You should even start feeling great. Your energy should increase, sleep should be easier, and your mood should improve. Some people feel so good that they become scared to reintroduce foods at the end of their elimination diets, but remember that you want to learn exactly what’s negatively affecting you. Knowledge is power, don’t be afraid to gain this knowledge.
Your Diet is Your Business:
You do not have to explain your choice to anyone, but if someone genuinely is interested in learning about your journey, you can share whatever you choose with them. That being said, you have the right to tell others to worry about what’s on their plate not what’s on yours.
For a school-aged child:
Talk to his teacher prior to beginning the diet. Let her know why you are doing this and ask her to please follow your food guidelines while he is under her watch. This goes for any childcare provider, including family members.
An Elimination Diet For Breastfeeding Moms?
I’ve discussed the importance of seeing through an elimination diet for yourself and your children, but I have not mentioned new moms yet. When speaking with pregnant clients, I tend to discuss their nutritional habits, which leads into the rabbit hole of gut health conversations. We know that gut health is linked to just about everything in the body, and that holds true for the developing fetus and soon-to-be newborn. The mother’s gut health effects the baby’s gut health, which impacts a newborn’s skin, sleep, moods, poop, and so much more.
Breastmilk is superior to formula. This is not an opinion, but a fact. A breastfeeding mother has the power to manipulate and heal her infant’s gut and eliminate or improve issues that arise all by eliminating or adding foods into or out of her own diet.
Within those first few months of infancy, many parents assume the ‘witching hours’ of crying are normal. They assume that butt rashes are to be expected. They think that spitting up is why bibs were created. They believe that their baby just doesn’t sleep, but that there’s nothing to do but survive this stage. Many turn to medications, ointments, sleep training, formula, baby cereal, or other non-natural band-aids that truly cause damage to a baby. It is lack of education, and the lack of support from a pediatrician that sends parents running for these alternatives.
These issues are not normal and are a sign that something is off. More often than not, the answer lies in learning what foods (through the mother’s milk) are causing these issues. This can be discovered through an elimination diet. Food sensitivities are typical with infants, as their digestive systems are still maturing and are not ready to handle specific proteins (or other nutrients) just yet. Every baby is different, but there are many similarities that have been discovered.
I highly recommend to pregnant women in my practice the elimination of dairy beginning around 36 weeks gestation. This gives the body a few weeks to process and detoxify from the food group. Dairy is milk products derived from cow’s milk. They are over processed and stripped of all natural nutritional value anyway, so eliminating them should make your body feel better overall. However, cow’s milk is meant to be processed by baby cows, who have 4 separate compartments to their stomachs. They are also meant to weigh a ton (a literal ton). Our newborns are not meant for this. Their tiny bodies ache when trying to process dairy. Eliminating it before baby arrives should help keep those first few weeks peaceful.
There is no research to share on food preservatives being passed from a mom and found in breastmilk, but elimination diets speak for themselves. While you can choose to eliminate dairy alone, your baby may need more or other items removed as well. Dairy is typically the best place to start, as the newborn period can be overwhelming. If your baby is already in your arms, and you are experiencing troubles, you may choose to consider a full elimination diet that includes processed items, gluten, dairy, and other common triggers.
Things to Note with a Breastfeeding Elimination Diet:
There are two guts working, not just one. This takes more time. It can take 2-4 weeks before seeing improvements. However, many mothers testify that results can begin to be noticed within days.
Just as typical elimination diets go, breastfeeding diets aren’t forever. Once baseline is established, (meaning the issues have leveled off and life is calm and happy) you can continue for several weeks and then start adding in one eliminated item at a time to see if the issues arise again. Baby’s digestive systems tend to mature between 4-6 months of age, so what bothered them as a newborn may be better tolerated later.
A baby’s sleep should improve, but the goal is not to train the baby to sleep through the night. Research links dairy and wheat consumption to poorer sleep patterns. This isn’t surprising because it’s hard to sleep when your stomach hurts. Finding the trigger foods will help your baby find better sleep, but infants are supposed to wake to nurse throughout the night. An elimination diet may help them sleep longer, but no baby is meant to sleep 12 hours without waking.
Colic is a term used to label all crying with no known reason, and while an elimination diet should help most colicky infants, there may be other issues to look at.
The main food allergens (dairy, wheat, eggs, nuts, etc) are the most common foods to eliminate, but consider citrus foods, processed items, dyes, and grains, as they are becoming more well-known for causing issues today.
(The American Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine’s clinical protocol for infant allergies offers a plan for an elimination diet.)