How to Manage Nutrition & Food Allergies in 2018

If you knew me five years ago, you know my diet consisted of 100% take-out options, this was in part due to a busy lifestyle, but mostly a lack of interest to cook. That being said, over the past two years I've fallen in love with nutrution, so I was ecstatic when Green Circle Wellness reached out about designing a nutrition plan based on my own body's biochemistry. 

The idea was to gain education, learn more about how my body processed nutrients, and how to best fuel my system towards specific goals. Due to the timing of our meeting, this nutrition plan would not address weight gain or loss, but would be designed for me and baby to get the most nutrients from the foods my body needed, taking into consideration my body's unique food preferences rather than fad diets. 

To get me started, a food intolerance test was recommended, and I'll be honest, I laughed out loud...

Little secret: I believe everyone has food intolerances, the question is how severe, and how do you respond to this information?

Personally, I didn't want to be someone who allowed allergies dictate her life, so while I was well aware of allergy testing, this was one I'd consciously avoided, and I was open about my concerns. 

After consulting with Gina (lead nurse at GCW) and Faith (lead nutritionist), they assured me that I didn't have to let these results control my life. They walked me through their personal test results, a scale of 1 to 3+ indicating intolerance levels, and explained how managing allergies didn't have to be all consuming OR all eliminating, it simply had to be done intelligently– work smarter not harder. Done!

Word of advice: find a doctor you trust and have real conversations. Someone can only help you as far as you invite them to. 

Fast forward a few weeks and lab results were in. Keep in mind, I went into this solely expecting a list of foods to avoid in my nutrition plan, and was not prepared for the depth of information that we'd cover in our following hour...

  • For starters, no mention of food items, instead we'd begin by reviewing vitamin & mineral levels. At the time, I was taking a prenatal, and B-6, so most levels seemed to be in good standing, but I was slightly low on Zinc & B-3. Also, despite my attempts at including healthy gut bacteria in my diet, I was in serious need of probiotics for digestive support. Overall, these were easy fixes– a daily B-complex + Probiotic would do the trick.
  • Next up, still no specific foods, rather a deeper look at fats, proteins, & carbs. As it turns out, my body doesn't process protein well, which didn't surprise me too much, since it's always taken me longer to build muscle and I have to make a conscious effort to consume enough protein to see results. Reader's digest version: the enzymes that break down food to retrieve nutrients weren't working properly, so only a portion of the protein I was consuming was actually being absorbed for my body to use. Recommendations: consider adding a plant based protein and Digestizyme supplement– one for added nutrient supply, and the other to assist in proper protein digestion.
  • In my metabolic analysis, there were again indications of a lack of healthy gut bacteria and malabsorption of aminos, however, the more surprising results were in notable toxin levels indicating an overuse of plastic and tin. What?! While this wasn't related to BPA (common toxin associated with plastic), it forced me to dig deep into my daily habits. Fact is I'm pretty lazy inn some ways, so instead of carrying a reusable water bottle, I purchase a lot of bottled water while on-the-go, and regularly line pans or baking sheets with aluminum foil for easy clean up. In addition, I consume a variety of canned beans and often use plastic (ziploc or tupperware) to store foods. Again, easy fixes, but probably the most shocking results yet– how scary is it that the storage materials we use in our daily lives are so toxic they can actually work their way into our system?... Recommendations: carry a reusable water bottle, no more cooking with aluminum foil, and store food in glass containers. Most importantly, never reheat food in any plastic variety!
  • Finally, my food antibody assessment– and the results I'd been dreading the most! As luck would have it, I'm allergic to a lot of foods I consume almost daily, confirming all of my initial fears when beginning this journey. To give you the highlights, I'm allergic to all dairy– except goat's milk. My body doesn't like eggs (yolk or whites), corn, corn gluten, almonds, walnuts, oats, rice, wheat, yeast, cane sugar, chocolate, and coffee. HA. Did I leave out anything else?... Oh yeah, garlic, black pepper, and thyme.

    For reference, my go-to breakfasts include eggs, oatmeal, or greek yogurt. My coffee includes either 2% Milk or Almond Milk, and I have chocolate, cheese, and nuts all the time.

    That being said, remember the rating scale I mentioned?... While all of these foods tested positive, they rated very low on the intolerance scale, and to my relief, Dr. Dina Pavilonis (lead M.D.) assured me that with the numbers in my lab results I had no need to alter my entire lifestyle, I simply needed to monitor my habits to prevent these levels from rising. Rather than eliminating these items all-together, I would need to plan my meals more intentionally, alternating between eggs one day, and oatmeal or dairy the next. By flagging these foods, my body was essentially saying "too much," the concern being that if I failed to cut back on these items, my body would respond with more aggressive reactions. Recommendation: rotational diet. 
Managing allergies didn’t have to be all consuming OR all eliminating, it simply had to be done intelligently– work smarter not harder.

Like I said, I underestimated this follow-up consultation, and by the time we were done, I was overwhelmed with data. From here, the next step would be to reconnect with Faith, review my food journal, and begin to develop a nutrition plan specific to my body's goals and needs. I'll save my nutrition program for another post, because I want to make sure you get all the tools you need to be successful, but I highly recommend getting a head start on your new year's resolutions and booking an appointment to start this journey. I always knew I had allergies, but was afraid of letting them control my life. However, knowledge is power, and rather than playing trial and error, I guarantee that having the proper information will allow you to experience more freedom. Remember, work smarter, not harder ;)


This post has been brought to you by Green Circle Wellness, however, all opinions remain my own. The integrity of this site is far more important to me than any compensation or brand partnership. – S


Beauty Detox

Let me preface by saying “I didn’t want to be that mom”– ha!...

We talk about health and wellness a lot, but I'm actually extremely skeptical, and while I try to practice clean living, I would have my limits. That being said, women are known to make significant health changes during pregnancy, be it diet, exercise, personal care, etc. In general, I eat well, workout regularly, and make safe product purchases for our home. However, when it comes to beauty products, I get protective, and with good reason– organic/natural beauty products don’t tend to perform well! 

So, why are we talking about this?…. 

Studies have found over 200 toxins present in umbilical chord blood at birth! This is the same umbilical cord that serves as lifeline for months leading to delivery pumping approximately 300 quarts of blood to your baby each day! The chemicals found in this channel are known to be toxic to the brain and nervous system, some cause cancer in both humans and animals, and others have a history of causing birth defects. No pressure, right?… 

Naturally, after learning this, I made some additional improvements to the cleaning products around the house, fine tuned our grocery list, and started to dabble in more organic body wash/lotion. However, it wasn’t until I had my makeup bag stolen and was forced to replace my entire makeup collection that I finally decided to give safer beauty a try. 

Like many of you, I’ve had friends reaching out to me about Beautycounter for over a year, and I’d kindly dodged each invitation, until one unexpected friend joined the conversation. I say she’s unexpected, because she’d be the last person to act like as saleswoman, she’s extremely logical, down to earth, and honest– no gimmicks here, what you see is what you get (I love friends like that!).

From a marketing standpoint, I’d been skeptical about Beautycounter in part due to their fear-based messaging, and I made this known. Her response? “Yes, but shouldn’t there be a little bit of fear in how comfortable we are with the chemicals we allow in our daily products?”… She had a point. The US hasn’t passed a major federal law to regulate the safety of ingredients used in personal care products since 1938. As a culture, why are we so comfortable with this?

She then introduced me to the EWG (Environmental Working Group), an organization that seeks to educate consumers about toxins in home & personal care products. On the EWG site you’ll find a toxicity rating scale of 1-10. Use their Healthy Living App to search any product, and you'll get a rating with chemical breakdown and explanation. Knowledge is power, and I spent a good hour reading about every product in my makeup bag. To my surprise, the number one product I use on a daily basis, an expensive moisturizer I’d been raving about and even convinced my mother to start using, scored a 10/10 on the toxicity scale. Whether I wanted to or not, in that moment, I knew at least some things had to be replaced. 

Beautycounter is committed to banning any questionable or harmful chemicals from it’s products, including a list of over 1,500 chemicals that they refuse to work with. That being said, they're not some no-name homemade label, in fact, last year Chanel's very own Xavier Ormancey, made the move from Paris to Santa Monica as Beautycounter's new Head of Product Development.

Nevertheless, moving away from my previous makeup routine was harder than expected, In some weird way, I felt attached to what I knew, my previous products wore well, my skin responded well, and they looked great. Therefore, being a reasonable person, I decided to begin by replacing any products that scored above a 5 on EWG’s rating scale. 

Here’s the fun part… Beautycounter’s new are here! These little sets are the perfect opportunity to test out a variety of products at a bargain, and they make for the cutest stocking stuffers! 

Personally, I went into this with a lot of skepticism, but after a couple months of using these products, I’m actually really impressed. In fact, while I was home for Thanksgiving, I had my mom and sisters try out some of my favorites, simply because of how good they feel on your skin! I'll admit, the contour kit isn’t nearly as pigmented as my previous collection, but the colors are beautiful and they feel so much nicer and lighter!

As a personal trainer, one of the main things I look for are products that can outrun a day at the gym, and I'm happy to say that every item i've tried so far has passed the test.

I've linked below to each of the items I've personally tried, but if you'd like to learn more, I'd love to answer any questions, or connect you with my friend, Rachel :)

To Juice or Not to Juice // Feat. Snap Kitchen


To Juice or not to Juice, that is the question...

Now let's be clear, I am not a nutritionist, and neither will I pretend to be, but I do value a healthy lifestyle and try to live accordingly.

A few weeks ago I convinced the hubs to do a juice cleanse with me, and let's just say this was a feat in itself. Neither of us had ever done a juice cleanse, we'd done smoothies at one time, but those are significantlly more substantial.

Going into it I knew two things, we'd likely get "Hangry", and we wouldn't have as much energy, so we made a pact to be nice and scheduled our workouts accordingly.

As for the juices, Snap Kitchen is a local favorite! Based in Austin, TX they are all about eating clean and eating local. While Snap offers a seasonal menu of pre-made meals, they have 3 Juice Cleanse systems from which we selected Snap Clean Start.

Each juicing kit consists of 6 freshly pressed juices, you can pick up the day before you start, and here's the truth, the whole experience is a love/hate relationship.

Whether you're savory or sweet each day is a 50/50 split. I'd been told that each bottle contained approximately 2lbs of veggies, but each of these little bottles packs a mean punch of flavor too! If you like Bloody Marys you'll love drink #3, and if you don't, well it tastes like a Bloody Mary minus the booze. Luckily, there's something for everyone, and the schedule alternates back and forth between savory and sweet (#6 is my personal fave!).

Did I mention that I'd never done a Juice Cleanse?... It wasn't easy, and honestly, due to the calorie count it's even harder on guys. Both the hubs and I felt our weakest on different days, he the first day, and I the second, on both occasions we felt very cold. Scary? Kind of. I was intimidated leading up to our start, and even after picking up our first day's kit, I wondered why we'd signed up for this.

However, when all was said and done, both of us agreed that our 2 day cleanse was 100% worthwhile, and it boils down to these three lessons...

1. Saturating our bodies with concentrated doses of nutrients cleaned out our systems, leaving us feeling ready to tackle our spring health goals!

2. A juice cleanse is an incredible mental exercise! More than anything, I learned that I'm a major snacker, and honestly, I should probably just drink more water. While sustaining ones body off liquids alone seems depriving, so much of what tells our minds that we're hungry is the habit of keeping our mouths busy. It sounds gross, but it's true.

3. Finally, you can do anything for 2 days. While I recommend a juice cleanse primarily to detox, and evaluate health priorities, this is not a sustainable diet, and you should plan accordingly. A juice cleanse is not the end of the world, but you likely won't be able to do an intense workout while juicing. That said after two days I definitely felt like I could have gone for a 3rd day, it's really an empowering experience!

The products listed in this post were provided by  Snap Kitchen, however, all opinions remain my own. The integrity of this site is far more important to me than any compensation or brand partnership. – S