Surviving the First Trimester- Naturally

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I was a pathetic mess my entire first trimester.

I’m serious. It was embarrassing. I wish I could say that I was one of those women who just brought along a trash bag and towel wherever she went and barfed when necessary and just powered through life, but it just wasn’t true. The nausea and vomiting was so bad that many days I never got dressed and didn’t leave the house. I am so, so thankful that I have a job that I can do from the comfort of my home 90% of the time. I seriously don’t know how I would have managed a 9-5 office job. It was completely the grace of the Lord that I got through alive.

All that to say, many women have it much more difficult than I do. I was never hospitalized, I was able to stay off of anti-nausea medicine (though it was offered to me many times), and I was still able to work. But almost every women who experiences pregnancy has some degree of nausea and vomiting, though it’s different for everyone. And we all have different things that make our nausea better! Today, I want to share the things that helped me make it through- regardless of how pathetic I was.

-Eat a complex carb before you lift your head from the pillow. My go-to was Trader Joe’s Rosemary & Raisin Crackers- filled with flaxseeds, sunflower seeds, and lots of other fun super grains for my little girl. I must’ve eaten through 20 boxes during my first trimester. When I say “before you lift your head”, I am not kidding. I would grab the box, spin over onto my belly, and eat half a box of crackers before even thinking about getting out of bed. Not the cutest thing I’ve ever done, but it would sit heavily enough in my stomach to get me downstairs, let me go to the bathroom, and fix something for breakfast without spiraling into an all-day mess of nausea.

-Eat OFTEN. As in, I ate every 1.5-2 hours MAX. Keeping something in my tummy was the only way I could avoid feeling gross. It didn’t necessarily matter what it was, as long as I got it down. It was my ‘preventative measure’.

-Figure out what herbs work for you. For me, ginger made me even more sick, so I had to avoid anything with ginger in it, including virtually every anti-nausea tea on the market. However, peppermint worked wonders for me, as did chamomile. I would keep a small box of altoids in my purse and suck on one or two whenever I started to feel gross. Breathing in a chamomile steam inhalation (or simply making chamomile tea and sipping it) was also really effective.

-Stay hydrated. Lemon is another anti nausea aid that many people find helpful- I was pretty much constantly sipping ice water with a heaping amount of lemon juice in it, and it really did make me feel better- and staying hydrated is key to keeping yourself well.

-Try alternative medicine. I see a Chinese Herbalist and received acupuncture treatments throughout my first trimester that I really feel helped keep my sickness manageable. Check with your insurance to see if they cover alternative medicine- mine covers 75%! You might be surprised. Aromatherapy, focusing on ginger, lemon, or peppermint essential oils, can also be helpful- either applied in a carrier oil or used in a diffuser, or even in bath water.

-Up your magnesium levels. Some lovely mamas online suggested using magnesium oil topically twice a day, and I think this also contributed to my survival. you can also add magnesium oil, or a ton of epsom salts, into bathwater and have yourself a nice soak. I honestly don’t know all the science behind this one, but I can say that it worked for me, and for many other mamas as well!

-Don’t force yourself to eat what isn’t appealing to you. You will barf. It will suck.

-Take your prenatals and don’t stress. Your baby is very tiny and requires very little at this stage- do your best and your prenatals will cover you. But- DO your BEST too! Don’t use pregnancy as an excuse to eat donuts all day. Your baby is a beautiful responsibility- take the best care of him or her that you can!

-Don’t be afraid to ask of help. I remember calling my mom and asking her to come over and clean my toilet for me one morning, and while it was very humbling, it was worth it. Especially if you have other children, give yourself grace. Accept a meal from a friend, an offer to babysit, take an extra nap while your kids sleep.

-Recognize when you need medical attention. Some people truly need anti-nausea medication to get through the first trimester. Others suffer from a debilitating condition known as Hyperemesis Gravidarum, which requires a lot of monitoring, and often medication, to control. If you can’t keep anything down and you can tell that something is wrong, take care of yourself. Your body, and your baby, will thank you.

Have any of these tips worked for you? What else helped you survive your first trimester queasies?

The World’s Worst Cold Season

Hi, friends!

It goes without saying how sad I am that I literally haven’t posted a blog in over a month. This blog is therapeutic for me- a way to process what I am learning, share what I am passionate about and, yes, release a bit of frustration sometimes. Well, that frustration has certainly come to a head in the past weeks because it seems that myself and everyone I know is sick! Seeing this, I thought I would share some steps you can take to prevent and combat the common cold when it has you down and out.

About three weeks ago, I came down with the worst cold I have ever had- I was like a walking Nyquil commercial. I had a sore throat, itchy eyes, terrible sinus congestion, couldn’t sleep as a result, it was just awful. Never had I come down with such a stereotypically miserable cold. It just so happened that I was co-Music Director for that weekend’s Chrysalis Retreat, and the one thing I was dreading was beginning to happen- losing my voice. Well, I made it through- and here are some of the tricks I used to keep my voice and my sanity during those stuffy days:

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Medicinal Teas. My two go-tos were both from Traditional Medicinals: Gypsy’s Cold Care and Throat Coat. Spoiler alert- they both taste kind of awful, but they are both very effective. Gypsy’s lessens general cold symptoms as well as cutting down on the duration of the cold, while Throat Coat is particularly useful if you are prone to laryngitis whenever you get sick, like me. There are mixed views on using Throat Coat when you are sick- especially if your throat issues are sinus related, it can sometimes make you produce more mucus in an attempt to lubricate the throat. Bottom line- use your best judgement. Don’t use it for the first time before a big performance unless you know how your body will react.

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Honey. So much of it. Raw and local is best. Over the course of the Chrysalis weekend, I downed close to a two pound bottle of raw honey (a lot of this in attempts to cover the taste of the Throat Coat tea!). Honey is an antiseptic and a lubricant, which helps both coat and heal your throat.

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Neti pot or other sinus rinse. Yes, this is uncomfortable at first, but you are not only removing excess mucus, but neutralizing PH and flushing out any germs and allergens in your nasal passages. I was doing this upwards of 4x a day when my cold was at its worst.

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BLOW your NOSE. I can’t emphasize this enough! Keep tissues with you all the time- Target sells really cute little ’tissue wallets’ that I should by stock in. The more you can get that stuff out, the better off you are going to feel. Sniffing and swallowing (gross, I know) is only going to keep you sick. It can even give you an upset stomach. Just don’t let it happen.

-Sleep sitting up. Not completely, but prop two or three pillows under your head to keep post-nasal drip at bay. It sicks but you will probably end up sleeping better than you would have originally.

-Check out your environment. We recently discovered a lovely mold infestation in our closet- no wonder we are staying sick forever! Make sure that you don’t have a culprit hiding somewhere…

-Healing baths. This can help any type of sickness- taking a hot bath is like having a self-induced fever- your body temperature rises and your body’s immune responses are heightened, which helps fight off germs. Adding helpful herbs like peppermint, eucalyptus, or rosemary can aid in clearing congestion. If you don’t have a bath tub, put some essential oils in the corner of your shower and inhale in the steam!

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-Steam inhalations– these are my favorite! Boil a pot of water, pour it into a bowl and add some essential oils (eucalyptus is the most effective). Form a tent over your head with a towel and inhale! Have tissues ready because this can work very quickly! I like to do this after I do a sinus rinse- it leaves me clear and feeling good.

-Supplements. Vitamin C is a given, but Vitamin D is also proven to help ward off sickness! Echinacea is an easy-to-find herb that is a powerhouse for strengthening the immune system. It is often paired with Goldenseal. Green tea and other antioxidant-rich supplements will help, too!

-Eat foods that will help your body heal. Focus on getting a plant-based, whole foods diet especially when you are sick. Get away from the processed foods! Dairy especially is a big hindrance to healing and makes you produce more mucus. Red meats take more energy for your body to digest, which pulls energy away from the healing process. Juices are great when you are sick, because they are chock full of nutrients but easy to digest- letting your body focus all of it’s energy on healing! Garlic and Onions are two foods that are especially good for mucus cleansing. Ideally- a whole foods vegan diet. I know it’s hard, but do your best!

-Get your rest. If you are run down, so is your immune response. Get enough sleep and take care of your body, it will take care of you!

Wishing you a health and energy this cold season,

Karli

Foods You Never Knew You Liked: Nutritional Yeast

This week’s feature food is not exactly a food, but might be more accurately described as a seasoning.  Nutritional- or, sometimes referred to as ‘brewer’s’- yeast is a staple for most vegetarian and vegan kitchens, and is about to become one of yours, too.

I was first introduced to this gem by a veg friend who used it on popcorn and in stir-fry.  She told me that she used it to boost her protein and B-vitamin levels.  She was right, too- not only is nutritional yeast very high in protein, but it contains amazing amounts of B-vitamins, particularly the sought-after B12.  It also contains a healthy dose of fiber- and, let’s be honest, we can all use a little more fiber in our diet!  Boasting all of these wonderful benefits, I had to give it a shot.

I bought a small bag of the off-yellow flakes from the bulk section at Whole Foods to give it a whirl, and soon found myself putting it on everything.  Seriously, this stuff is delicious.  I don’t know what it is about the taste, but I think that a sprinkle of nutritional yeast makes everything taste like heaven.  My favorite use for the seasoning is on my eggs in the morning, with a little sprinkle of grey rock salt and fresh pepper.  I have even been known to take a tiny Tupperware container of it with me when I travel or visit friends for a day or so.  I have a serious love affair!  Here are some other ideas for your new best friend:

Sprinkle on popcorn or pizza

Mix into green juice, smoothies, or a tomato juice drink

Fold into flour and breadcrumbs for a tasty breading

Toss whole grain noodles with olive oil and yeast

Stir into gravies and sauces

Puree with nuts and a little water to make a raw, vegan ‘cheese’

Sprinkle some on brown rice

Season eggs in the morning

The possibilities are endless, really.  Send me your creations!  You can buy nutritional yeast at your local health food store- if you’re lucky, maybe you can get the shaker container that Red Star and Bragg’s make!  Yum!

Foods You Never Knew You Liked: Chia Seeds

You guys. My life has been revolutionized. Chia seeds, people!

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Yes, like in a chia pet. Who knew that those little beauties packed so much incredible nutrition? Not me, that’s for sure. Not only are they amazing for you, but they are incredibly versatile. Eat them raw, sprinkle them on salads or cereal, make them into a drink, use them in baking, throw them in a smoothie.

The best thing about using chia in your diet is that it will take on any flavor you give it. I sometimes just drink them in water, and it doesn’t taste like anything! Similar to flaxseed, they form a fun gelatinous substance when mixed with water, which can be used to make puddings or even as an egg substitute.

The health benefits of chia seeds are bountiful:

Increased energy levels
Increased endurance levels
Helps with weight loss
Normalized blood sugar levels
Cleanses the colon
Gets rid of toxins
Prolongs hydration
Reduce inflammation
Helps tone muscles
Helps to lower the blood pressure
Improves mental performance
Improves night rest and mood
Lowers the risk of heart diseases
Improves overall health
Lowers cholesterol
Absorbs extra acid, helping to get rid of acid reflux
Helps thyroid conditions
Helps IBS
High in omega-3s
High in fiber and protein
Helps celiac disease

Here’s my favorite way to enjoy them. Experiment! Your body will thank you.

Easy fruity chia tea

Ingredients:
1 tablespoon chia seeds
3tablespoons fruit juice (any)
One bag green tea
Water to fill your mug

In a small glass, mix chia seeds and fruit juice. Let stand for about 15 minutes, until seeds form a gel suspension. Be sure to stir every so often at the beginning to prevent clumping. Stirring is important!

Meanwhile, heat up water and make yourself a cup of green tea. Leave a bit of room in the cup when you fill it! Once the chia juice mixture has set, stir it into your tea until evenly distributed. Drink immediately, and keep stirring to prevent chia from settling!

The combinations are endless. Different teas, different juices. Try it out!

Foods You Never Knew You Liked: Coconut Water

A few nights ago, we were blessed to stay with a family in Charlotte, NC on our way to a tour stop in West Virginia. After dinner we went into their basement to watch a movie, where I discovered a health nut treasure trove: a refrigerator full of coconut water! It reminds me of living in South Florida and getting fresh coconuts from a ethnic grocery on Saturday afternoons. Needless to say, I had some in the morning after my run and, to my delight, the family sent me packing with four huge bottles to take on the road with me.

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When we got in the van, I was surprised to find that I was actually the only one excited about our new stash of hydration! Apparently several people in our crew were weirded out by the coconut water, or had taken a small a taste at breakfast and not been a fan. I am still working on making converts, but I wanted to share a bit about the benefits of coconut water with you all, and maybe you’ll try it, too!

Coconut water has been affectionately called “natures sports drink”- with more potassium than a banana and more electrolytes than Gatorade, it is the perfect, all natural companion to your workout. One serving also has 170% of you daily Vitamin C, which gives the immune system a great boost. It also comes in a Tetrapak, a new form of packaging that is completely recyclable- something to be proud of!

As for the taste- lets just say, for most people, it’s an acquired one. It is mostly sweet, not too coconutty, with a bit of a salty tinge to it. It takes some getting used to, but once you do, you’ll be hooked! Your body knows what is good for it- it’s not uncommon to start craving coconut water, even if you didn’t like it at first.

One of the great ways to use coconut water is mixing it with something else- another fruit juice, or- my favorite- as a smoothie base. The favors blend perfectly in with green smoothies and fruit smoothies, and give you a burst of healthy energy. As I mentioned before, I love it after(and during) a workout, and also during long car rides, as it is much better for your body than coffee, but has similar sustaining effects.

Here are some great brands you can find at your local grocery store:

Vita Coco
Zico
Naked

Many of them come in yummy favors, like pineapple, mango, even chocolate!

Have you tried coconut water before? How do you use it? Let me know!