Gina Rieg

My WHY


WHAT IS YOUR WHY? This has been a question popping up a lot recently.  Surprisingly, I have thought about my WHY and my PURPOSE, but never put it into words on paper.  Recently, several fellow business owners reminded me about the importance of not just knowing my WHY, but sharing it.  So, here it is…

What is my WHY?

One can take that question and apply it to different areas of their life.  What areas of your life pop up for you?

For me, three aspects of life immediately surface:
  • My Family
  • My Work
  • My Lifestyle
Interestingly, they all merge together! 

I will dissect each of them.  Interestingly, I intended for this to be a blog about my WHY with work, but like you, I am a real person and I have several WHYs.  They all merge together to create my purpose.
 2016-07-01 fam pic
My Family - first and foremost, always.

What is my WHY?

  • Because I strongly believe in creating memories, love, connections, and quality time with family.  Those deserve to be cherished and honored.
  • Because sibling bonds are irreplaceable and unable to be duplicated.  If you have a sibling or siblings, I am sure you can relate.  I am lucky to have FOUR siblings!  About a year ago, my older brother shared a TED talk called "The Sibling Bond".  It was about, you guessed it, the bond that only siblings share.  I encourage you to watch it!  In that talk was a profound statement that I will always remember: “Our parents leave us too early.  Our spouse and our children come along too late.  Our siblings are the only ones who are with us for the entire ride.” Then, the last sentence of the talk speaks for itself: “Life is short and it’s finite and it plays for keeps.  Siblings may be among the richest harvests of the time we have here.”  How powerful is that?
  • Because they are flesh and blood.  Nothing will ever change that.  We only get one set of blood relatives.
  • Because my family is utterly amazing! Really and truly.  Just a few of the many examples - Who was there to get my belongings out of my totaled car at the junk yard following a car accident when I was not feeling well?  With living alone, who is there to check in on me, making sure I arrive to places and get home safely?  Who is there to reminisce and laugh about childhood memories, and they just “get it?”  Who is there in times of sadness, defeat, and joy?  Who is there when mourning the loss of a loved one?  Who was there to help me pack and move many, MANY times?  (A little funny side story: When I moved in 2005 into a purchased home, my dad said that was the last time he was ever going to help me move. Until I moved again in the summer of 2015. Guess who was there to help? My family, including my Dad!)  Yes, they are incredibly amazing and I admit that I am getting emotional as I am writing this because I am so very grateful for them.  Life would be drastically different without their love and support.
IMG_7784
My Work – I was tempted to put the word “work” in quotes, because it is often difficult to call it work, as it is my PASSION.

What is my WHY?

  • Because I was empowered in my own health journey away from chronic digestive disease.  Now I want to empower you!  It is like the saying “I’ve seen the light!”  And now I want you to see it, too.
  • Because I believe that there are other approaches to tackling health concerns and issues; other approaches than what the common conventional mainstream doctor may typically tell you.  I do not believe that it absolutely has to be the way that “they” say it has to be.  When I was 19 years old (I share more about my journey HERE), I was told that I would suffer from Ulcerative Colitis for the rest of my life, and that I would always have to take medications to just “manage” my disease and deal with it.  After several years of believing this, and just going along with the recommended pharmaceutical medication regimen, I started questioning this approach because I knew in my heart that I did not want to just “manage” my disease process. I also had a GUT feeling that there was a way that I could feel better, despite this diagnosis, so I carefully investigated other approaches.  I did not want to simply survive; I wanted to LIVE. And guess what?  Through my newfound focus on ancestral living, my body rebounded and recovered significantly.  I truly believe there is space for everyone’s health to significantly improve, focusing on ancestral health and lifestyle. 
  • Because there is a bigger picture here!  Call it the greater good, if you will.  It is not solely about my health or about the health of my clients and students.  It is about building community, connectivity, relationships, and helping each other radiate in health and well-being.  It is also about the grassroots movement of returning to a more sustainable, ancestral lifestyle with thriving health. 
  • Because I went through a serious health journey, and I continue to travel through a health journey.  The most serious piece of my health journey, which I wrote about HERE, is incredible, but not the end.  Please know that there is no such thing as perfect health as the body is constantly adapting.  While I am SIGNIFICANTLY healthier than I was many years ago, we all go through ups and downs with health.  The important part here is that my chronic digestive disease is no longer expressing itself in anger as it once did with Ulcerative Colitis.
  • Because I believe that it is possible for the body to heal and recover, given the right tools and communication.  It is done, time and time again!
IMG_7787_copy
My Lifestyle – This includes an ancestral health lifestyle, nutrition, food, and movement/fitness.

What is my WHY?

  • Because I believe there is more to life than what society demands or expects out of us.  Keeping up with the Joneses and the consumerism push are crafted by society’s expectations that do not provide true life meaning, only false comfort.
  • Because I believe in walking the talk!  I coach students and clients in the same lifestyle and journey that I am also traveling. 
  • Because I believe in the greater good, as mentioned previously.  I truly believe there can be a different, better way, full of vitality and strength!

So, that’s my WHY…actually, many WHYs!  I hope this has helped you learned more about me and my purpose.  I also hope it has inspired you to think about your WHYs.  Maybe ask yourself “What is my WHY?” See what surfaces and write it out.  Feel free to post comments below to share yours, too!

Gina Rieg

Apple Cider Vinegar – Not Just to Consume! Surprising Remedy for Sunburn Healing

As most of us have heard and even possibly experienced, apple cider vinegar (ACV) has been rumored to have a great deal of health advantages. For many years, people have been reaping the benefits of this "cure-all" kitchen essential. However, during these sweltering summer months when the sun’s rays are super strong, did you know that ACV can help with healing skin from sunburn?
Before & After Sunburn Bollage

But first, I want to strongly express that we shouldn’t be hiding from the sun. So, please do not be scared from actually spending time in the sun, as I once was! In fact, there are even particular times of the day that are much better than others, when the ultraviolet B (UVB) rays are present. UVB rays are typically out between mid-day hours and UVB rays are the ones that creates the possibility of Vitamin D being synthesized on your skin. To read more on this, please see my article Let’s Talk About Sun Baby.

So, let’s talk about sunburn and how ACV is helpful if you happen to experience sun-burn. After spending too much time in the sun or even spending time only in UVA rays (typically in the morning hours and the early evening hours), sunburn can result. An excess of blood-flow to the exposed skin site causes redness and swelling. When the melanin pigmentation in your skin can no longer be produced fast enough to protect you from UV rays, your skin cells trigger a UV stress response. This stress response generates new cells to grow and replicate, which ultimately has the potential of leading to skin cancer.

Let me re-iterate something - the harm comes from the stress response from TOO MUCH sun, NOT from adequate amounts of sun exposure (without burning) when the UVB rays are present. Again, PLEASE read my article Let’s Talk About Sun Baby to understand this further and also to find out exactly when the UVB rays are present in your part of the country/world.

Personally, I strategically am mindful of when the UVB rays are out and consciously get sun time then. I can literally FEEL the benefit of GOOD sun time!

Ok, back to sunburn! As we know, the consequences of a sunburn can be painful! Leaving you itchy, peeling, and in pain, not only is it not fun but sunburn is a sign of the body being STRESSED from too much sun exposure.

In the past, when I have been irresponsible with sun (yes, I admit it has happened and even when I was super careful), I leaned towards aloe and in the past couple years, coconut oil. However, in the past year, I have discovered a better way to heal skin from sunburn. Apple cider vinegar! (ACV)

You may be skeptical about this –I surely was! But, here’s the deal. ACV is an anti-inflammatory agent. It helps in balancing the pH levels of burned skin, which promotes healing. It can help prevent peeling and blistering caused from sun damage.
ACV Collage
Here’s what you will need: 

  • Raw Apple Cider Vinegar (like Bragg) (You can also get this on Thrive Market for less!)
  • Clean washcloth
  • Organic coconut oil (like Nutiva) (You can also get good coconut oil Thrive Market for less!)
  • Optional Essential Oils – Lavender and Peppermint (therapeutic quality only)

Here’s the method:

  • Take raw apple cider vinegar and dilute it, with cold water, in a bowl.
  • With a clean washcloth, soak the washcloth and dab it directly to the affected skin area. Let your skin be very wet; let it soak into the skin.
  • After your skin is dry, liberally rub on coconut oil to the affected area. As an additional measure, consider adding lavender essential oil and peppermint essential oil – be sure to only use therapeutic essential oils on your skin. (Also, be sure the essential oils are diluted – for example a couple drops of each to an ½ cup coconut oil.)

7.8-7.16 Sunburn Transition CollageYou could even make an ACV spray for this! Or, if you are sun-burned over a large amount of your body, consider bathing in a solution of apple cider vinegar and bath water. Simply pour a cup of ACV in a bath, and soak in there!

You will be amazed at the difference this makes in both time duration and severity of sun-burn. I have seen this work wonders several times with me, including an awful sunburn obtained when my northern-climate skin experienced TOO MUCH tropical sun this past March. Here’s also pictures of a recent experience with this method. You’ll see how the burn went from a bright ANGRY red to a dull pink/light brown/tan!
 
So, there you have it. Another tool for your toolbox if this happens to you or someone you know!



And remember, don’t HIDE from the sun, but get regular sun during the good sun times and use a non-toxic sunscreen like this one if needed for long periods of sun exposure!




References:

1.http://www.healthline.com/health/apple-cider-vinegar-for-sunburn-care#4
2.http://sunburntreatmenthq.com/5-effective-vinegar-sunburn-treatment-steps/
3.https://www.aad.org/public/kids/skin/skin-cancer/treating-sunburn
4.http://www.doctoroz.com/slideshow/surprising-ways-use-apple-cider-vinegar?gallery=true&page=6
5.http://homeremediesforlife.com/apple-cider-vinegar-for-sunburn/
6.https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/09/150915105208.htm7.http://www.earthclinic.com/cures/sunburn.html

Gina Rieg

Your Gut is Talking to Your Brain!

The Connection Between the Gut and the Brain

Yes, you read that right!  There is indeed a “Gut-Brain Connection” and I am thrilled that we are now realizing this, talking about and acting on it! Many like-minded physicians and wellness experts, such as Dr. Chris Kresser, Dr. Joseph Mercola and Dr. Datis Kharrazian, are all talking about it! And since gut health is one of my focuses, you better believe I am talking about it too! I was featured on a podcast about this topic so be sure to listen to the podcast HERE!

Here’s a tiny summary on this topic:  

The Gut’s Influence on Mood

  • In a UCLA study sighted by Dr. Mercola HERE, patients referenceGut-Brain-Connection-250x400d having issues like anxiety, depression, and other mood disorders only AFTER they started having issues with their gut.
  • Probiotics might be beneficial for coping with stress!  Another study shows the results of 18-35 year-old women who had their brain activity measured after being shown pictures of angry/frightened individuals.  The group given a probiotic-rich yogurt every day was found to have less brain activity in regions associated with stress versus a placebo and control group.
Please note: I do not recommend store bought, pasteurized yogurt. If you
choose to source probiotics from dairy, consider sourcing 100% pastured and raw dairy and introducing it slowly! (If you need help sourcing raw dairy in your area, be sure to reach out to your local Weston A. Price Foundation chapter leader HERE. If you are in my area in Howard County, MD, be sure to contact me to inquire!) Also, you could consider to start slowly adding good bacteria from fermented vegetables like fermented cabbage (sauerkraut), fermented kimchi, and pickles (fermented cucumbers)! These fermented vegetables are actually also very easy to make yourself and they are tasty additions to meals! You can watch my 90-minute full demonstration video, showing you exactly how to ferment vegetables HERE!

gut-brain-cartoonThe Gut’s Influence on the Brain

  • There is much evidence that supports the claim that the gut actually “talks” to the brain, via the vagus nerve (shown in the image above), far more than the brain “talks” to the gut.  
  • Did you know there are more of the protein receptors that send messages, or neurotransmitters, in the GUT and not the brain?!

The Gut’s Influence on Health

  • Some scientists believe that good bacteria in your gut can “train the immune system” to attack the “bad guys” that come in and disrupt the ecosystem balance in the gut.  When there’s a gut bacteria imbalance, illness and disease can result.
  • There are also beliefs that gene expression is influenced by what strains of flora you have living in your gut during development and infancy!

The Gut’s Influence on Disease

  • Studies have shown that the microbiome in lean individuals is vastly different than those of obese people.
  • Type II diabetics also have different strains of bacteria in their gut than healthy individuals.
  • Gut bacterial imbalance can even be traced to Autism, ADHD, and other learning disabilities because of this major influence that the gut environment has on the brain!
Fascinating right?  And, it’s not surprising at all!  This is why Hippocrates said, “All disease begins in the gut!”  It’s time to nourish the gut as much as we can!

Be sure to listen to the podcast HERE!

Information and Picture Sources:
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Gina Rieg

Newest Kitchen & REAL Food Discoveries Part 2 - May 2016

This past December, I shared my Newest Kitchen & REAL Food Discoveries with you, just in time for the holidays.  Well it’s not the holidays, but in that blog I promised to regularly provide you with these resources.  So, since December, I have been finding and personally testing out more and more food tools for your real food journey!  Check out the new discoveries below…snacks, supplements, and even some personal care items.* 
affiliate products for May_copy

 Snack Options


Supplements

  • Sometimes we need a little extra vitamins and minerals, such as magnesium (anyone that lives nowadays needs extra magnesium)!  I mention Magnesium because the body demands it for stress (WHO DOESN’T HAVE STRESS?!) and sugar handling.  Plus, it’s great for relaxing and supporting sleep rhythms.  Applied topically as a spray, this means it’s absorbed in the bloodstream faster than taking it orally.  Check it out here: Ancient Minerals Magnesium Oil Spray. (I also carry this for local purchases too.)


Reducing toxins in the home

shower filter

Chlorine and chloramine in water is not friendly to the body!  This is the shower filter that I currently use to eliminate these chemicals and prevent inhaling them and going into the skin while in the shower. Luxury Vita-Fresh Shower Filter with 5 Vitamin C Cartridge.







Self-Care

Ladies I’ve been talking up my Natural Feminine Menstrual Products for Down There for a reason.  I am a huge fan of some of the products I mention in that blog.  Here they are listed here: 
And guys I have something for you too!  Well for both the ladies and gents!
Hope you enjoyed this blog and I hope you pick up some of these wonderful healthy lifestyle products for yourself!

 

*This page contains affiliate links, which means Gina and Simplified Wellness for You may receive a percentage of any product or service you purchase using the links here.  You will pay the same price for all products and services, but your purchase with these links helps support the ongoing research and work of Gina and Simplified Wellness for You.  Thank you for your support!

 

 

 


Gina Rieg

Natural Feminine Menstrual Products for Down There!

As you all know, I am a HUGE advocate of traditional, ancestral REAL foods and nourishing our bodies in a more natural way.  I am also a firm believer in the saying, “Don’t put anything on your body that you wouldn’t put in it.”  In my other recent blog article, “Would You Eat What You Put on Your Body?”, I wrote about why this aspect is equally as important to consider, in addition to the food that we put in our body.  

As I shared in “Would You Eat What You Put on Your Body?”, when I first began my health journey years ago, I did not initially recognize the importance of addressing this category.  Then I realized just how vital it was to reduce the toxic load by also looking at what is applied onto the body.  I slowly began transitioning away from the common toxic self-care products and towards more natural versions or eliminating them all together. 

As the real food lifestyle is a JOURNEY, not a sprint, it takes time.  No one is perfect in this - just chip away at it!  I still chip away from time to time.  I recently chipped away at another piece – feminine care products.    

Years ago, as one of my very first steps into reducing toxins going into my body via self-care products, I changed over to organic feminine products, specifically organic cotton tampons.  Most recently I took another step – I changed from regular usage of organic feminine care products to a more sustainable and cleaner feminine care product – a menstrual cup.  Let me tell you, it’s been wonderful!  Guys, don’t stop reading - you have women in your life!  Share this with them too!

Let’s talk about WHY I encourage all women to change to less toxic feminine care products.  The typical feminine care products out there are sanitary napkins (pads) and tampons.  As you can tell, I like to share about my own journey…YEARS ago, I used Playtex tampons and Always sanitary napkins.  Little did I know how TOXIC they actually were to my body.


Here are common toxic ingredients found in conventional feminine care products: (source http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dr-mercola/feminine-hygiene-products_b_3359581.html and https://gerson.org/gerpress/the-dirty-secrets-of-feminine-hygiene-products/)

  • BPA (Bisphenol A) and BPS (Bisphenol S): Used for making the products more moldable (plasticizing).  These chemicals have been linked to cancer, heart disease, and even disruption of embryonic development.
  • Pesticide residue: from the genetically-modified cotton.
  • Diuron:  One of the herbicides used on cotton, has even been defined as a "likely" human carcinogen by the EPA and it's also linked to birth defects.
  • “Fragrances”: a term that can mean a wide variety of synthetic chemicals that can go into the products unchecked.  These so called fragrances contribute to all sorts of problems from cancer to infertility.  They also create the PERFECT environment for bacterial growth.
  • Parabens & Synthetic material: Can attribute to skin irritation, yeast infections, and other problems!
  • Dioxin: The bleaching process, that makes your pads look shiny white, often employs the usage of the disinfectant chlorine dioxide, which produces trace amounts of a toxin called dioxin.  Dioxin is a carcinogenic and it’s linked to reproductive problems, endocrine problems and developmental impairment at certain levels. 

There are many benefits of using natural feminine care products:

  • For starters, using products made of organic cotton, free from chemicals such as chlorine, synthetic fragrances, and fertilizers is not only non-toxic and nicer to your BODY, but it’s also nicer on our ENVIRONMENT.
  • Chlorine used in the products is harmful for YOU and your PLANET.
  • Chemical fertilizers used in growing conventional cotton can leach into the soil and have negative effects on our planet via the ecosystems within it.
  • By using natural care products, you will greatly reduce the toxic load on your body and, when disposing of these, the earth too!

Fortunately, there are several alternatives to conventional feminine care products!


sckoon cup (3)_copy1_copy
Here's the Sckoon Cup!

Here are some of the many benefits of using a menstrual cup:

  • Reusable and super cost-effective (about $30 for one and you only need one for years – versus a box of tampons or pads every month)!  Saves you money!
  • Extremely comfortable!
  • Nothing besides medical grade silicon up there!
  • Less leakage when properly inserted.  There is a tiny learning curve here – a suction is what ensures that all liquid will be collected in the cup only.  (When tampons shift of become saturated, that’s when messy and embarrassing leakages occur!)
  • Holds much more than what tampons can absorb.  They come in a couple different sizes so be sure to pay attention to that. 
  • Don’t dry out - Cotton in tampons can strip your vaginal walls of naturally occurring lining, making your lady parts more susceptible to disease and infection.
  • The best of all is that they don’t need to be changed as often, 8-12 hours (including overnight) versus 4-8 hours.  That means no fumbling with tampons and pads in public places or when you are out and about!

SO WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR?  EITHER CHANGE OVER TO ORGANIC, NON-CHLORINE PADS/TAMPONS or BEST, USE A MENSTRUAL CUP!


FINALLY, if all that didn’t sway you to make the change, here are a few more important facts on feminine care products: (source http://ecowatch.com/2015/10/26/cotton-glyphosate-cancer/?utm_source=EcoWatch+List&utm_campaign=88851ce481-Top_News_1_1_2016&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_49c7d43dc9-88851ce481-85918929 )
  • A study in La Plata, Argentina found that 85% of tampons sold contained a chemical compound, called GLYPHOSPHATE.  This is said to be carcinogenic (cancer causing) and linked to use by Monsanto
  • Additionally, 62% of these tampons had AMPA, a chemical compound of glyphosphate itself.
  • Most of the cotton in the U.S. is genetically modified (GM), enabling the cotton to withstand many more toxic fertilizers and chemicals during the growing process.  In fact, according to a U.S.D.A. agricultural report, 94% of cotton crops in the United States had some sort of genetic modification, be it for herbicide tolerance or insect resistance.


 


Gina Rieg

Why the Repeal of COOL of Red Meat Matters

An important law put in place in the mid 1980s to identify potentially good red meat sources has been repealed by Congress this past January 2016.  COOL, or country of origin labeling, no longer has to be displayed on red meat products sold all across the United States. 

The law was repealed by congress after much pushback from the meat packing industry and The World Trade Organization (WTO), arguing that COOLs made consumers less likely to buy beef from Mexico or Canada and therefore was not fair.  Although, there are 62 other WTO countries that have COOLs on their meat products, including Canada, according to the National Farmer’s Union (NFU). 

image courtesy of ecowatch.com
As one could assume, the NFU is more than upset by this ruling.  “Our producers have always known that they raise the best beef and pork in the world, and they believe consumers should be able to know where the meat at the grocery store came from,” said NFU president, Roger Johnson, in an address to the public on this issue.  He goes on to add, “The downfall of COOL is a prime example of why the trade agenda in the U.S. has failed family farmers and consumers.  As a nation, we have allowed foreign tribunals to threaten our sovereignty to decide our own domestic laws.  The trade agenda threatens the very laws that NFU cares about: those that protect and benefit society, including environmental, social, economic and food safety laws.”

It’s hard to predict the next move for the NFU, the FDA, or USDA in keeping consumers informed about how they can buy appropriately raised and slaughtered, local red meat.  I’m not so sure I would trust the measures.  Fortunately, we, as individuals, have big choices in the matter. 

Here’s what I think you CAN do to combat this:
  • Shop at local farmer’s markets, get to know the farmers.  You will know from where your meat is coming.  Ask them about their practices.  Seek out those farmers who raise 100% grass fed/finished beef (they will be proud and happy to tell you they do!).  Maybe even visit the farms to get more personal with where your food comes from.  A couple times a year, in my local area, I organize a farm trip where we visit a sustainable, 100% grass-fed/finished cattle farm to get to know the farm. 
  • U.S. Wellness Meats offers great quality, 100% grass-fed/finished beef and pasture-raised pork and ships right to your door!
  • For those readers local to me in Howard County, you may or may not be familiar with my friend and a trusted farmer, Nora.  She runs a GREAT farm called Clark's Farm and offers 100% grass-fed/finished beef and lamb, as well as pasture-raised pork and eggs!  They’re located right off of 108 in Ellicott City, MD.  Also, if you want to get to know farmer Nora’s personal story, check out her guest blog about it HERE!
  • Use the website www.eatwild.com to search for farms in your area.


 Sources: http://www.nfu.org/the-end-of-cool/3942, http://www.cnsnews.com/news/article/us-repeals-meat-labeling-law-after-trade-rulings-against-it




Gina Rieg

Would You Eat What You Put on Your Body??

As you all know, I am passionate about traditional, ancestral REAL foods and nourishing the body in natural ways.  There are several lifestyle pieces to consider and address.  In addition to what we put INTO our bodies with food, through our mouths, another factor regarding our health is what gets in our body through our skin.  This leads me to being a firm believer in the saying, “Don’t put anything on your body that you wouldn’t put in it.”  Let’s talk about why we should care about this and how this can be addressed in gradual, simple steps. 

While I will also soon write about more natural feminine care products, this applies to everyone, both GUYS and GALS!

Key in on this - Your skin is the LARGEST organ in your body and it’s also your THINNEST!  This means your skin quickly absorbs what you apply on it, including all the self-care products, lotions, makeup, deodorant and anti-perspirants (by the way, please do not use antiperspirants – we are meant to sweat to get out toxins!)  Not only is poor food harmful and TOXIC to your body, so are a lot of self-care products out there…There are a boatload of chemicals and toxins in common lotions and other products that are applied directly onto the skin.  What happens to them?  They don’t just disappear!  They are ABSORBED BY THE SKIN and shuttled DIRECTLY into the bloodstream circulating throughout the body.  YIKES! 

As I often experience with my students and clients AND what I experienced in my own health journey, many people begin to be mindful about what goes INTO their body by their mouth (food), yet they seem to think that what goes ONTO their SKIN is in a separate category and not connected to their health.  This cannot be further from the truth…

But I can relate.  When I first began my health journey years ago, I did not initially recognize the importance of addressing this vital piece!  Then I realized the massive toxic load that I had been shuttling into my body by using common face moisturizers, lotions, etc.  I slowly began transitioning away from the common toxic self-care products and towards more natural versions or eliminating them all together. 

As the real food lifestyle is a JOURNEY, it takes time.  No one is perfect in this - just chip away at it!  I still continue to chip away from time to time! 

So what products am I talking about here?  Products like conventional deodorants, anti-perspirants, lotions (facial moisturizers and body moisturizers), chap sticks, hair gels, perfumes and colognes, toothpaste and other makeup related products are all VERY toxic for you and your body!  Don’t fret - I’m here to tell you that you can transition into either eliminating some of these products all together OR changing them for less-toxic versions.  To boot, you will NOT have to smell bad, look bad, or feel bad, AND you will do your body a favor by drastically reducing the toxic load!  Sounds too good to be true?  Keep reading and you’ll see just how easy it can be!

First, let’s learn about some of the most toxic ingredients in conventional soaps, lotions, and shampoos (source for some of this information - Chris Kresser):
  • Triclosan:  What is it?  An antimicrobial agent found in shampoos and soaps.  Problems? Research shows that it can be a liver cancer promotor, induce bacterial resistance to clinically important antibiotic drugs, AND have possible disruptions to the endocrine system.
  • Parabens and Phthalates: What are they?  A chemical found more in lotions.  Problems?  Links to increased links to cancer (breast cancer in particular) AND endocrine and reproductive problems.
  • Sulfates and Fragrances:  What are they?  Sulfates (such as laurel sulfate and sodium laureth sulfate) are chemicals often found in soaps, lotions and even toothpaste.  Sodium laureth sulfate (SLS) creates the foaming action, which we have been brain-washed to mean “clean.”  The real problem with SLES/SLS is that the manufacturing process (ethoxylation) results in SLES/SLS being contaminated with 1,4 dioxane, a carcinogenic by-product.  Fragrances are unregulated chemicals that scent your soaps, lotions, and shampoo.  Problems?  There is little to no regulation on what can be in these AND they are often the culprits for skin irritation and skin problems such as dermatitis.
Additionally, there has been testing that revealed there are detected carcinogenic ingredients, such as 1,4-dioxane (a known carcinogenic) and phthalates in products when they aren’t even listed as ingredients on the bottle. 

I don’t know about you, but these are good enough reasons to avoid these ingredients and choose less toxic products.  As I suggested earlier, eliminating some is an option too and completely doable!  Here are some that I tossed several years ago:

trash self-care products
Here are some alternatives to conventional soaps, lotions, and shampoos:
  • SOAPS: Cleaner commercial producers of self-care products are popping up everywhere now a days, and many of them are sold at health food stores (local health food stores in my area of Columbia, MD are MOMs, Roots in Clarksville and David’s Natural Market) such as Dr. Bronner’s Liquid Soap. Their soaps (I suggest diluting a bit) are great for cleaning everything from your skin and hair, to countertops and fruit and veggie skins!  They also have Peppermint, Tea Tree, Almond, and Unscented.  And if you soap prefer bars, they have you covered as well!! Check out Dr. Bronner’s six pack of bar soap HERE!
  • LOTION: Coconut oil is naturally antibacterial and antifungal.  With that and the moisture in this great fat source, I’d say it’s a great candidate to replace your conventional moisturizing lotion.  I use it all year long, especially in the winter and have NO issues of dry skin! Nutiva cold-pressed, unrefined coconut oil is a great one to start with.  Coconut oil also can serve as a light sun protectant.  I am not suggesting avoiding the sun!.  However, if you are going to be out in the sun for a long period of time or outside of the good sun-ray time, it’s wise to use a little protectant or a lot, depending on your skin sensitivity. See my blog post HERE. Other fats that are great moisturizers (whether alone or as the base in a product) are a good quality olive oil, tallow from grass-fed cows and jojoba oil.
  • DEODORANT: There are many, effective, natural ways to keep your pits dry and clean!  If you’re feeling really adventurous, might I suggest baking soda, or an even mixture of baking soda and coconut oil (see how useful coconut oil can be!).  Often, it doesn’t work GREAT for dark clothes -  so be warned!  You could also use a spritz or two of Ancient Minerals Magnesium spray under there!  Believe it or not, salts like this have been used for odor blocking long before conventional deodorants were main-stream!  Just do a test first – sometimes the magnesium spray is itchy and irritating to some people’s skin.  There are also fun brands of natural deodorants like Primal Life Organics Skincare and Deodorants and my personal favorite: FAT FACE Skincare and Deodorants.
  • TOOTHPASTE:  There are many options that don’t include sodium laureth sulfate.  They also don’t contain fluoride which is another topic all together!   Check out Redmond’s Earth Paste that can purchased on Amazon in Peppermint, Wintergreen, or Lemon Twist, but can be found on Thrive Market for less.
Lastly, a wonderful online resource (they have an app too!) is the EWG’s Skin Deep database.  You can read about all these common chemicals AND you can see how certain products rate with regards to toxic level.  I encourage you to look up the self-care products that you are currently using.  Also when you are searching for alternatives, use it to research new products.  Remember, small amounts of toxins all add up!

I hope this article has been helpful for you as you transition to a less toxic, truly healthy lifestyle!  Remember, it’s about reducing the toxic load and what goes on our skin shouldn’t be ignored!


Gina Rieg

Newest Kitchen and REAL Food Discoveries - December 2015

One of my favorite aspects of my work (I’ll also call it my passion) is that I regularly search for and try new kitchen gadgets, real food products and health promoting products.  I enjoy walking the talk (REAL food lifestyle) and then sharing these discoveries with my clients, students and readers.  

Also, I know how the real food transition is…Yes, it’s fun and empowering but also at times it is challenging and frustrating.  So many pieces to look into!

So, to help out, every couple months, I’m going to share new REAL food lifestyle discoveries, whether it is a kitchen gadget or real food ingredient/product.  My purpose is to help you navigate the real food transition a little more easily with these tried and true discoveries so that you have even more FUN in this!  Plus, these could always be great gifts for others in your life that are on this journey as well!

Also, please note, most of these are affiliate links, which I would greatly appreciate you using if you decide to purchase any of them (the cost to you is no different).  Although affiliate commissions are super tiny, every little bit helps and adds up with others’ purchase.  A big THANK YOU in advance for supporting my work and mission!

appliance pic

Let's Go!

The Instant Pot!  This is a pressure cooker, slow cooker, sauté pan and more, all in one!  I have made wonderful bone broth in just a few hours, cooked a whole chicken in 30ish minutes, cooked root veggies in less than 15 minutes and there is much more for me to do with this!  This is a GAME CHANGER in the kitchen.  Several friends had been telling me about this in the last 6 months and I finally bought one.  And get this - I have heard that you can steam eggs for hard-boiled eggs and the shells just slip off!  Yup, I will be trying that soon!  You can purchase it quickly HERE on Amazon.

A simple “milk frother” - This hand-held battery operated frother that costs about $7 (The black one is $7 and the white one is $16) will surprise you with latte-like beverages such as what I call bone broth latte (LINK TO BONE BROTH LATE BLOG HERE), frothy/creamy teas, emulsified dressings (that’s intern Erik’s discovery) and much more!  I have been LOVING this to use in all sorts of drinks/beverages.  You can purchase it quickly HERE on Amazon.

Cuisinart Ice Cream maker!  - This is not actually a new discovery but something I’ve been using for a couple years now.  But, it’s still incredible.  I cannot tell you how many batches of homemade coconut milk ice cream I have made for myself and family gatherings.  The variations are endless but just a simple vanilla coconut milk ice cream is extremely satisfying, simple and a huge hit!  You simply mix your ingredients, put it in the pre-frozen drum and turn it on!  You can purchase it quickly HERE on Amazon.

Clearly Filtered Stainless Steel Water Bottle with Filter  - This is one of my newest finds as I literally just received it in the mail on December 3rd.  I was ecstatic to discover this particular travel water bottle with a filter because it removes many toxic substances including heavy metals, chorine and 90% of fluoride.   It’s stainless steel to boot!  It’s rare to find one of these with all these perks!  You can find it on Amazon HERE.

Thrive Market  Now, this isn’t a product but Thrive Market is an online grocer who delivers real food products to you with close to wholesale values!   I have an account now and I absolutely LOVE it!  To the right here is a picture of my first order!  Prices are definitely less for the same high-quality products.  Coconut Aminos for example:
  • $4.45 on Thrive!
  • About $7 at a local health food store
  • $13.99 online on Amazon
Also, you can filter by organic, gluten-free, non-GMO, raw, and baby foods and natural products to meet your specific needs.  The yearly membership of about $60 is definitely worth it, factoring in all the savings that you will enjoy.  They also provide you with a FREE one month membership to give it a whirl!  Check it out HERE!


De Buyer Mineral 8 Inch Fry Pan: This is a great non-stick option and super budget friendly for such a high quality pan! It’s a carbon steel, mineral pan. I’ve been using this regularly to cook eggs, quick sautéing liver and reheating meals. It’s wonderfully non-stick. You have to prep/season the pan prior to using it but it’s not difficult to do. HERE is a good explanation on how to prep/season the pan. You can purchase the pan quickly on Amazon HERE! Other bigger sizes are Mauviel M’steel Frying Pan, 12.5 inch and Matfer Bourgeat 062007 Black Steel Round Frying Pan, 14 1/8-inch, Gray.

Sun Warrior Pea Protein Powder (Available Amazon in vanilla, chocolate and plain in both 2.2 lbs. and in 1.1 lbs. sizes.)   Often times, clients and students ask me about protein powders.  I have been looking for quite some time for a high quality one that I feel confident recommending.  I also make coconut milk shakes and adding a scoop or so of this gives an added boost!  I like this one because it is dairy-free, completely organic and very clean!  You can purchase it on Amazon HERE – 2.2 lbs. or 1.1 lbs.

Hamilton Beach Slow Cooker – If you aren’t ready to use the Instant Pot that I mentioned above, this programmable 6-quart slow cooker is a great option.  I’ve been using it for many years and although I have an Instant Pot, I still use my slow cooker on occasion and especially when I need two cooking vessels!    You can get it on Amazon HERE!

And last but not least…Chocolate!  I have been enjoying two different brands of great quality chocolate bars.  Neither use any refined sweeteners, dairy, grains, preservatives nor any soy lecithin.  They are both wonderful!  Pure7 chocolate bars use raw honey for a sweetener.  On Amazon, there are these versions: Pure7 Chocolate Bar 100% Dark, Pure7 Raw Honey Sweetened Chocolate Bar, Raspberry, Pure7 Raw Honey Sweetened Chocolate Bar, Salted Almond, and Pure7 Raw Honey Sweetened Chocolate Bar, Expresso.  You can also find their chocolates on Thrive Market.  Also, Eating Evolved Chocolate bars are wonderful too!  They use maple syrup and coconut sugar and they have several kinds from which to choose.  You can find them on Thrive Market.

This page contains affiliate links, which means Gina and Simplified Wellness for You may receive a percentage of any product or service you purchase using the links here.  You will pay the same price for all products and services, but your purchase with these links helps support the ongoing research and work of Gina and Simplified Wellness for You.  Thank you for your support!





Gina Rieg

Bone Broth Latte: A Wonderful New Way to Drink Bone Broth & Other Beverages!

There’s an old saying that goes something like, “Everything is better with butter.” And, there IS a lot of truth to that, considering that good quality raw butter from grass-fed cows is just about one of the most nutrient dense foods we have.  Have you ever thought of putting some butter (or ghee depending on what you tolerate) and some coconut oil in your bone broth?! 

Well, it’s time to do just that!  We have heard about the health restorative and gut healing powers of bone broth. But let’s get real, just sometimes, that cup o’ broth can get just a tad boring.  I know…because it happens to me!  Don’t get me wrong, I still love bone broth and aim to have it daily.  During my more intense gut-healing times with the GAPS protocol, I was drinking it multiple times a day. 

I’m going to share with you this new variation (that I desperately wished I knew about then).  I’ve been drinking A LOT of recently.  I would even say that I am addicted to it!  Aren’t you anxious to find out more?  Here we go... 

I’m sure many of you have heard of, and maybe even have tried, bulletproof coffee.  It’s a drink that has been getting a lot of attention lately.  Bulletproof coffee is a cup of high quality brewed black coffee with a scoop each of grass-fed butter and coconut oil.  David Asprey coined the name, and now Bulletproof product line.  Just wait, I’m not addicted to bulletproof coffee…

However there is a particular reason why I like that bulletproof coffee is becoming a popular drink.  It’s because healthy, good quality saturated fats are emphasized in this beverage!  We all are in need of good quality saturated fats (I would even say most of us are saturated fat deprived and no, I don’t have 3 heads)!  This is a great way to get them in our bodies for nourishment and fuel.  I will say that I’m not quite convinced that daily coffee is ideal but the saturated fats on a daily basis, yes indeed!     

So, here’s what I started doing recently after I was thinking about bulletproof coffee and how it’s great to have the fats in a drink…

I started to apply the “bulletproof” method to my bone broth?!  So, I put coconut oil and raw grass-fed butter in an already nourishing bone broth.  Then I froth it up with a simple, handheld milk frother (see below)! The fats get emulsified in the liquid creating a creamy and frothy drink.  It sort of reminds me of a latte!  It’s delish and I’ll always add good quality unrefined sea salt as well.

There you have it…bone broth latte.  That’s what I’ll call it.

broth setup before mixing

You may have a couple questions...Why bone broth?  First, let me run down just some of the MANY benefits of drinking bone broth:
  • Collagen in bone broth has been shown to help support healthier hair, nails, and skin!
  • Protein and amino acid compounds, as well as collagen, can reduce joint pain and overall inflammation.
  • Broth contains minerals such as calcium and magnesium for strong, healthy bones!
  • It “heals and seals” your gut, as Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride and I say.  This ancient and delicious liquid is easy to digest and helps repair tears in your gut lining!
  • It supports immune health too (since most of the immune system is located in the gut!)
Then, why make a bone broth latte, with the added fats?  Let me now tell you about just some of the MANY benefits of including good saturated fats in your daily real food lifestyle: 

Contrary to popular belief, saturated fats actually support cardiovascular health and are a wonderful fuel for the heart and entire body.
  • They are necessary for our bodies to utilize fat-soluble vitamins (Vitamins A, D, E & K). 
  • They keep us satiated and fueled longer by reducing drastic blood sugar fluctuations. 
  • They are necessary for our body’s utilization of essential fatty acids such as anti-inflammatory omega 3 fats.
  • Saturated fats are vital to keeping our brain, liver, lungs, and even cells healthy.
  • And of course, they make our food taste better!
 blending further away


Doesn’t it sound and look delicious?  Each person that I have mentioned this to has absolutely loved it! 

If you aren’t ready to make homemade bone broth, there are some good commercial sources of bone broth.  If you decide to purchase bone both, be sure to make that it’s properly prepared.  This means that it’s been prepared using traditional methods, simmering good quality bones.  Also, the only ingredients should be the bones, water, unrefined sea salt and perhaps some optional vegetables such as onion, carrots, celery and optional herbs or spices. 
 
Here are some good quality commercial sources of bone broth:
  • Real Bone Broth is sold in stores near you and can be found right HERE!
  • If you are local to me in DC/MD/VA, MOMs carries it and Wholefoods will be carrying it soon too! )
  • Online sources such as Wise Choice Market, Vital Choice, & Selina Naturally
  • You may also be able to source properly prepared bone broth from a local buying club in your area.

If you ARE ready to make your own homemade bone broth, check out my recipe HERE before you go any further!

Making bone broth latte is an excellent way to get more of both the bone broth AND the fats in your diet by drinking it straight, and adding it to soups and stews.  See the picture here that shows the bone broth latte being the base of a soup.  It’s especially important to get your fill of broth in the winter months, when things slow down a bit and your body is calling for more rest, nourishment, warming and grounding foods. 

Try this bone broth “latte” with your morning, afternoon, or anytime mug of broth!  And one last comment – if you aren’t ready to drink bone broth alone, you can also make a “tea latte” by the same method below!

 
Bone Broth Latte       

broth latte alone


Ingredients:
  • Hot bone broth (chicken, beef, duck, fish, etc)
  • A standard latte frother (I use this one that you can get from amazon.  Please note, that one is not the frother pictured but it’s the one I use now.)
  • 1 TSP - 1 TBSP of organic coconut oil*
  • 1 TSP - 1 TBSP of good quality ghee or 100% grass fed butter, preferably raw (if you are consuming dairy - if you aren’t consuming dairy, you can use just coconut oil)*
Directions:
  1. Put coconut oil and ghee/butter into your hot bone broth.
  2. "Froth" with your latte frother and enjoy!!!
* NOTE: You can adjust the coconut oil and ghee/butter in your broth.  Be sure to start slowly with increasing fats.

Optional Additions:
  • Instead of the oils, or in addition, add coconut milk!
  • More unrefined sea salt
  • a little raw honey
  • seaweed (such as kelp) granules



Gina Rieg

Farmer Nora's Journey - May 20, 2013

Wow! Hi Everyone. Thanks for checking out Gina’s blog and being interested in what I have to say! I have spent the last year and a half learning about REAL FOOD from Gina at Simplistic Wholistic and this experience has absolutely changed my life for the better. Before I met Gina I was getting by, suffering, and unhealthy. Gina has helped me realized that everything you put in or on your body had tremendous implications to your health. I am so thankful to Gina for all her guidance and support through my healing journey!  I want to share my story with all of you. I once thought I couldn’t be helped and I want all of you to know that YOU can do something about chronic diseases!

My journey started in the fall of 2005 when I was a freshman at college. Two months into college I started having joint pain, but I had no idea why. I was a very healthy kid growing up and I rarely got a cold so having any pain was unusual. At first the pain was just in my thumb joints and the balls of my feet. I started to having trouble walking and doing things with my hands. I worked through the pain and kept going, figuring it would go away eventually. As the end of the semester approached, and then through the holiday break, my pain got worse and it spread to many more joints. Since I grew up on a farm everyone thought I had Lyme’s Disease. When I went home for winter break I had a bunch of blood work done.

By the time I went back to school in January every joint in my body hurt. My knees were so swollen I had to take the stairs one step at a time, my feet, ankles, fingers, wrists, neck, knees, shoulders, and jaw were all constantly throbbing. The results for Lyme’s Disease came back negative and after more blood work I was finally diagnosed in March with Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA).

I was told that RA was a lifelong chronic disease that generally affected middle aged women, but men and younger women were susceptible too. I was told there is no cure for RA and all I can hope to do is manage the disease and the pain. The doctor drained my larger knee and injected a steroid, and sent me home with a prescription for prednisone and the least detrimental, first DMARDs (disease modifying anti-rheumatic drugs). He also told me if the pain didn’t stop I could take a couple of Aleve or other NSAID (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug) every few hours.

I was happy to have a diagnosis, but crushed to have such a dismal prognosis. I had always been active; I grew up running around on a farm, I played sports throughout middle and high school, and I rode horses just about every day. I even attended college specifically to ride and learn about horses. How was I going to complete my dreams, how was I even going to walk out of that office and get back to school?

The pain was so bad I couldn’t move, everything hurt and was difficult. Every movement I had taken for granted before, I will never take for granted again: opening a door, brushing teeth, forget putting your hair in a ponytail, tying shoes, getting dressed, holding a pen, typing on the computer, starting a car or shifting, all of these tasks took a long painful time, or I had to have someone do them for me. I hardly ever cried before, but I turned to crying all the time. I cried because it hurt and I cried because I didn’t know when or if ever I was going to not hurt.  I cried just thinking about what I had to do to get up and get going each day.

This stuck around for months, the first two medicines I had to try for at least 6 weeks each and they didn’t help. I loaded up on prednisone and NSAIDS to get through. Finally I started Methotrexate.  Methotrexate for those of you, who don’t have the misfortune of knowing personally, is a drug used to suppress the immune system and is used to treat autoimmune diseases and cancer, as a chemotherapy drug.  So I started it at this point and every 6 weeks I bumped up my dose until I got to 8 pills each week and my pain had gone down to a manageable setting. I was back at school for my sophomore year and I was finally starting to cope with not being able to do everything I wanted, although to this day I still struggle with that idea. I told a couple of friends and teachers that I couldn’t push myself the way I wanted and that I might not be up for certain activities. I slept a lot, did what I needed to do to get through each week of school and riding classes, and I kept plugging along. This pattern kept up for my whole sophomore year, during which I increased my Methotrexate to the maximum oral dosage of 10 pills per week. I was also taking folic acid to combat the negative effects of the Methotrexate.  Also, because Methotrexate acts like a chemotherapy, as a result I often had bouts of nausea, frequent colds, any cuts or bruises would take weeks to heal, and my thick curly hair thinned, but none of that mattered at the time because I wasn’t in constant throbbing pain 24/7.

As the days dragged on I had decent days and I learned to get along. Both the summers after my freshman and sophomore years I came home to work on the family farm. While I enjoyed the family farm I had had plans to work elsewhere in the equine industry honing my skills and adding to my experiences, but I was too scared to be on my own and not be able to complete a day’s work. At home everyone understood when I said I couldn’t work today. During my junior year-first semester I was feeling better, but still not great. I was riding again and starting to have more energy, but I wasn’t excited about my major/program anymore. I realized that I wouldn’t be able to work with horses and ride as a career anymore - there were too many “if’s” about my health. I started to think about transferring and in the spring of 2008 I started at the University of Delaware.

Around that time I had added another drug to the mix, Leflunomide aka Arava. I was told that this was the strongest dosage and combination of drugs that I could take orally to control my RA. If I still had pain I would need to start thinking about inject-able biologics. Biologics are expense, inconvenient, and an aggressive way to treat RA and suppress the immune system; I wasn’t excited. The good news was that I was starting over at a new school with my disease under control with the drugs, and I was starting to enjoy life again. I made new friends, learned new skills and looked forward to coming back to the farm and finding my place. I graduated in the spring of 2009 in 4 years!  I moved back to the family farm. I was determined to support myself and live on my own; being so dependent for so long will do that to you! I moved into a house on the farm by myself and took over the produce operation.

Farmer Nora blog pic 1

2009 was a great year; I worked hard and suffered little. I took my medication religiously and it seemed to be paying off. When I over worked I would just take some Aleve to mask the pain. As far as I had been told this was all I could hope for and it would be how my whole life would be, ups and downs, lots and lots of pills, and the possibility of stronger meds down the road

In the spring of 2010, I had my first major flare up in almost 2 years. One of the most painful joints for me is my left shoulder. My shoulders had acted up in the beginning, but it hadn’t hurt like this in almost 3 years. The flare was unbearable! Any direction and any limb that I moved seemed to tug on my shoulder joint. Moving from sitting to standing or lying to sitting shot bolts of pain from my left shoulder. I was miserable and I couldn’t do anything! This was a true reminder that I was not truly as healthy as I had felt in the months before.

I went back to my doctor and he couldn’t do anything but suggest it was time to step up the medication. I decided to start with the self-injection Humira, which needed to be administered every 2 weeks. After weeks of fighting with the insurance company, since Humira and others are prohibitively expensive, I received my first dose in the mail. I was excited for the prospect of no pain again and terrified at the same time. Since the self-injection pen injections the thick liquid pretty fast, it can hurt, so I was advised to ice down my thigh to numb the pain. First shot down, it hurt, but I handled it. The only problem is it takes months for the drug to build up in your system, so I had many more injections to go before we could see if it was working or not.

As the weeks dragged on the shots started taking a toll on me. Days before the injection was needed I would get anxious about the pain that was coming. When the day came I would sit with the injector-pen in my hand on the couch and try to build up the courage to stick myself. This clearly is not a way to live. After three months I still had more pain all over then I was comfortable with and I went back to my doctor. I told him about my dread of the self-injection and we decided to try a once a month nurse administered injection called Cimzia. After more figuring out of my insurance I went for my first shot. It hurt, but it was nice to have someone else administering the shot and since it was a regular syringe the nurse pushed the drug in slowly, she also distracted me by making conversation. Again I had to have many shots over many months before we knew whether it would work for me.

As I became a regular for the nurse she asked why I was coming for the shots because she assumed I had Crohn’s disease. At first I was confused as to why RA and Crohn’s would have the same treatment, but as I learned more about autoimmune diseases I learned that there is no cure for any autoimmune diseases and no one knows the cause. If no one knows what causes or cures RA, I felt like my outlook on life was depressing. I was starting to realize that my life span would probably be shortened by the drugs I was taking. I researched and realized that the side effects of the medications I was on were doing terrible things to my body and my immune system. I was most likely to die from an infection or pneumonia in my later year. I also realized that having a child would be difficult. RA symptoms generally lessen during pregnancy, but flare once the child is born. I would also have to be off drugs for at least a year or more before I could conceive, what am I supposed to do for pain during that year??  There was no light at the end of the tunnel, my life was going to get harder as I got older and there was nothing I could do about it.

After Cimzia didn’t give me any relief the next drug was Rutuxan, an infusion you can only get by failing to respond to other medications. I didn’t know what else to do and I was desperate for pain relief. My first Rutuxan infusion was in March 2011 and it lasted 8 hours. I sat in a lazy boy chair with an IV in my hand pumping me full of poison for 8 hours! My body had an allergic reaction to the drug after a couple of hours so the nurse had to give me some Benadryl and slow the flow into the IV. When I left I was nauseous and exhausted. Two weeks later I had another infusion and then I had to wait 6 months before I received another set of infusions, which were 2 weeks apart.  Again, it would take a few doses to see if it was working for me…what was I supposed to do in the meantime? During this time my feet, knees, and hands hurt the most. Every morning I would wrap my wrists in order to decrease the pain and help me get through my work. I was tired, cranky, and frustrated.

This is when I met Gina and she helped me realize there was more out there! As I was starting to worry about my future I figured I should look into eating “healthy” as to help my body the best I could. Gina had recently started shopping at our farm stand and she asked us to put out some of her brochures. I took a look and was pleased to find she promoted “REAL foods” from all food groups. I figured I would see what else she had to say and if she could help me. I set up a consultation and told her my situation. Gina was great over the next few weeks; she listened well and gave me information to mull over, but didn’t force anything on me. A few sessions in she suggested that I try removing gluten (a protein in wheat, barley and rye) from my food intake.  I laughed on the inside and thought ‘no way”, I’d add extra kale and try quinoa before I’d give up the sandwiches and crackers that I know! I just wanted to get a little “healthier” and I never thought I could change or eliminate my pain with food!

A couple of weeks later Gina’s suggestions were still bouncing around in my head, but I still wasn’t very interested in giving up gluten and everything that had it as an ingredient. One day I was making homemade bread with wheat flour and snacking on it all day along with crackers and chips (both which contained gluten grains), the next day I felt terrible, foggy, and tired. I decided to try eliminating gluten from my diet and the next day I WAS PAIN FREE! That was it; I was sold on how much food can affect the body! Not eating gluten made my joints stop hurting, that idea was crazy to me, but I loved it! The same day I went gluten-free I also decided to stop all my pain medications cold turkey. I also called my doctor and postponed my next Rutuxan infusion, which was scheduled for the next week, indefinitely. For the next two months if I accidentally ingested gluten I would have a little pain, but for the most part I was a brand new, pain free person! I cleaned out my whole kitchen and trashed anything with gluten.

Unfortunately, after a couple months the pain started coming back…I was not happy. I went back to Gina and she suggested that I eliminate dairy (especially since I had always consumed pasteurized dairy), since gluten and pasteurized dairy are among the main irritants to the gut. She helped me understand that my gut was related to my chronic pain.  I was leaning how much food could affect my body, but I was also frustrated that gluten free wasn’t still keeping the pain away. I was weary of cutting out another food group just for some temporary relief. I wasn’t looking forward to living without dairy AND gluten, and possibly still with some pain. However, I was also so happy to be off any medications that I gave dairy free a halfhearted try, and then went back to Gina for more advice.

She patiently listened to my reservations and sent me home with a book on the Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SCD). It was easy to read and made a lot of sense. The SCD diet has helped many people with autoimmune, bowel, autism, and other diseases get their health back. A week later I was ready to start! I talked to Gina and she gave me another book and suggested for me, if I was going to commit I should start the GAPS diet and start with the intro.

The GAPS diet is based off of the SCD diet, but it includes a very specific and comprehensive re-introduction of foods. The general idea is to cut out all grains, starches, and sugars in order to heal the gut because those components can further irritate a damaged gut.  At the same time, numerous healing foods are stressed and are the new focus.  Once the gut is healed in 1-2 years, those on GAPS can add some grains, starches, and natural sugars back in moderation. The diet also encourages you to remove dairy from your diet for a few weeks (Gina generally recommends a 6 week elimination), and to only add it back in approved forms with a slow introduction - ghee, raw butter, homemade 24-hr yogurt then homemade kefir.

I was so ready to get healthy I started GAPS immediately, April 21, 2012. I focused on eating only homemade bone broths, free range eggs, pastured raised meats, and well cooked vegetables. Let me tell you GAPS isn’t for the faint of heart, it is hard! But it is sooooooooo worth it! I got worse before I got better though. I had major die off reactions from bad bacteria leaving my body. My joint pain got worse (and it’s not advised to take any NSAIDS on GAPS), I had very little energy, and I was cranky a lot.  I also lost a good bit of weight, which was a little scary at the beginning, but I soon learned it was just my body’s way of getting rid of toxins and my body was slowly healing.  I took a lot of Epsom salt detoxifying baths and I listened to my body as I progressed through the stages of the intro diet.

Little by little I added more foods and started to feel better. There is no point during my journey where I will say that on that day or in that month I “got better”; I just know that I am so much better than I was this time last year! And I have to thank Gina for being there for me every step of the way! Since Gina has also been on the GAPS diet she understood where I was emotionally coming from every time I would email or call and tell her I was tired of cooking and tired of eating this way and not feeling better immediately. Gina had been there too and even though she couldn’t tell me exactly when I would feel better or how my body would react to different foods, she helped me get through the hardest months and she kept reminding me that I was off all of my medications and how excited I should be about that step!

Farmer Nora blog pic 2

My pain is not gone, but my pain is very little compared to what it used to be and it is not constant! I still have around another year on GAPS to continue healing my body and I am excited about what that can mean for me. I have energy now and I am at a healthy weight; I am back to carrying feed buckets and working in the garden all day! I am completely amazing, humbled, and excited about my journey. Before I learned about the importance of food I had no idea, and I was never told changing my diet could help me. Doctors would ask me if I noticed whether certain foods made me feel worse.  However, I had no idea what different ingredients and food components I was taking in while eating packaged foods (even those that I once considered healthy packaged foods like granola bars and crackers).  So, I said to myself, “No, how could food in my gut and digestive system affect pain in my joints anyways?” I am so thankful to Gina for encouraging me to learn, to redefine what “healthy food” really means (because it surely goes far beyond vegetables) and change my diet and food lifestyle.  I am thankful my body was able to heal and that I gave my body the right tools to do so.  Also, I am so thankful that as hard as the diet was to implement, it is in fact, delicious, nutritious food and I am reclaiming my health. 

This is the most incredible experience ever and I hope you all will realize you can make a difference to your health and life.  You can improve chronic diseases in a good way by recovering and taking back your health! Please feel free to ask me any questions here or private message me at nora27crist@gmail.com. I know what it feels like to be lost, in constant pain and frustrated, but I hope that you realize you CAN do something about it!



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