DO ONE THING: Cutting Artificial Sweeteners

CUTTING ARTIFICIAL SWEETENERS | do one thing series

Please note: I am not a doctor, nor have I received formal medical training. I’m just a mom, passionate about natural health who wants to share what she knows! This post contains affiliate links- thanks for supporting my family!

I often have conversations with people who tell me how overwhelmed they are with eating healthy and making responsible dietary changes. I admit, it takes a lot of adjusting (both mentally and physically) to arrive at a healthy lifestyle, but there are many small changes that can be made to add up to a cumulative healthy change. This week I’m beginning the new ‘Do One Thing’ series, teaching you one change per week to make for the good of your health. This week, we’re starting big: cutting out artificial sweeteners.

Calorie counting is both a blessing an a curse to our generation’s health: while many people have trimmed significant weight by counting their calories and adding in exercise, it is often accomplished through the introduction of low-calorie or calorie-free diet foods that are chock full of chemical additives and artificial sweeteners. While this *might* give you the short-term positive payoff of lost weight, it’s wreaking havoc on your body in the long term.

See, when we consume a food that has been sweetened artificially, our body tastes the sweetness and begins to produce insulin to break down sugars. However, because sugar isn’t present, this leaves lots of excess insulin circulating in our bodies, which then leads us to crave sugar even more! So, that diet soda you have with your lunch might be directly related to that candy bar you were craving later that afternoon. Not exactly helping you lose weight like you thought, huh?

Another often overlooked issue with artificial sweeteners is that they are artificial! You are flooding your body with chemicals (many linked to very troublesome side effects- see this FDA release) that you aren’t meant to process. This puts extra pressure on your liver, creates disruption in the digestive tract, and throws the body’s natural flora off balance.

So, what’s the solution? Stay away from artificial sweeteners! Here’s what I suggest:

-Swap diet sodas for all-natural ones sweetened with cane sugar (preferably organic)

-Sweeten your tea or coffee with cane sugar, coconut sugar, real maple syrup, or honey. Avoid any ‘sugar free’ syrups or flavorings, and don’t be fooled by agave- it’s highly processed and likely worse for you than plain sugar.

-Avoid chemical-laden low calorie diet foods and eat real foods instead, like fruits and vegetables.

Have you cut out artificial sweeteners? Did you notice a difference in your health? What was the most difficult transition for you?

Easy Detoxifying and Healing Morning Elixir

Detoxifying and Healing Morning ElixirOne of the things that I miss the most while being pregnant is the opportunity to go through regular periods of cleansing and detoxing. I love doing cleanses- they make my body feel more efficient, lighten the load on the digestive system, clear the brain, and give me lots of energy. Full detoxing isn’t recommended during pregnancy because of how the body can react to toxins being pulled into the bloodstream (and therefore possibly reaching the baby), so lighter, more ‘everyday’ detox measures have to be put into place to maintain health and stop the accumulations of toxins and waste!

One of the easiest ways to keep your body clean is to make yourself a light, detoxifying morning drink. There are many, many variations of this (see my friend Kaitlin’s over at Eat Klean), but this is my favorite, as it has very intentionally selected ingredients to treat a variety of health issues and aid in detoxing. It’s definitely an acquired taste, but I look forward to it at this point, and I know it’s doing my body a world of good!

YOU’LL NEED:

Fresh juice of 1 organic lemon
1-2 tablespoons Raw Apple Cider Vinegar
1-2 tablespoons raw honey
Dash of cayenne pepper

Put all ingredients in the bottom of your favorite mug, top with freshly boiled water that has been cooled to room temperature. Stir until all ingredients are combined and enjoy!

WHAT YOU’RE GETTING:

Lemon Juice– Full of vitamin C (which is especially important in the winter months), lemon juice boosts the immune system. In addition, lemon alkalizes the body, which is proven to inhibit cancer growth! Warm lemon juice also acts as a mild diuretic that will stimulate digestion. Citrus in general is touted for it’s ability to awaken the body and give energy, making it a great addition to this morning beverage!

Raw Apple Cider Vinegar– A miracle worker, apple cider vinegar is good for anything from preventing heartburn (huge for me during pregnancy!) to treating fungal skin infections. Taken internally in this morning beverage, it helps recolonize the gut with good probiotics (hence the RAW acv being best), and helps fight bacterial infections and improves dental health due to it’s antibiotic properties. It also acts as an expectorant, which comes in handy if you’re suffering from any type of congestion or cough. *note: the photo shows Trader Joe’s brand ACV.  This is a pasteurized brand, all I had in the house at the time! My favorite raw brand is Bragg’s 🙂

Raw Honey– Raw honey is full of beneficial enzymes and antioxidants that aid in cleansing and has very strong antibacterial and antiviral properties, which keep any threatening sicknesses at bay and will shorten the duration of anything you’re dealing with currently. Raw honey is also full of vitamins and nutrients that support the body in the cleansing process. The healing benefits of raw honey are such that many people will apply raw honey to open wounds to speed the healing process and protect against infection.

Cayenne Pepper– Yes, this gives the drink quite a kick! Besides waking you up in the morning, cayenne helps to clear congestion and stimulate circulation, while boosting the metabolism. Because it elevates circulation, this causes us to sweat (even a little bit!) which is a major source of detoxification. Cayenne can help prevent blood clots, prevent migraines, and is even speculated to have anti-allergenic properties. Like apple cider vinegar, cayenne acts as an expectorant, breaking up mucus and relieving symptoms of many common illnesses.

As you can see, this drink is a nutritional powerhouse! Yes, the taste takes some getting used to, but the health benefits are borderline magical and your body will thank you for a long, long time. Try it and see!

This post was shared with Wildcrafting Wednesday!

Links used in this post are affiliate links. I do earn a very small percentage when you purchase through these links, which allows me to continue doing what I love: writing!

Body & Brain Boost Pumpkin Oatmeal

Body & Brain Boosting Pumpkin Oatmeal

HELLO FALL! I can’t quite rock the leggings look anymore (at least not gracefully) but I’m fully embracing my boots and autumn-flavored things. There’s a pint of Hoffmans’ pumpkin ice cream in my freezer, Baugher’s apple butter on my counter, and pumpkin puree in my fridge. It’s like something biological happens when the cold weather hits, making us all crave these things.

Here’s the crazy thing- something biological DOES happen! Our bodies are designed to need more beta carotene, vitamin C, and warming food in the fall and winter, when the weather is colder and our immune systems can become repressed. It’s no coincidence that things like pumpkin and citrus come into season, bursting with their essential vitamins that are perfect for this season!

This quick morning dish, full of flavor and supplemental goodness, boosts brain function, digestion, good fats, fiber, vitamin C, and beta carotene levels. This is a bowl of super foods!

You’ll need:

1/2 cup of oats cooked in 3/4 cup of water
1/2 cup of pumpkin puree
1 Tablespoon each: flaxseed, chia seed, wheat germ, pumpkin seed
Cinnamon (or pumpkin pie spice) to taste
Raw Honey (or regular is fine) and sea salt, to taste

Cook oats in the water- the oatmeal won’t be soupy, but you’ll add pumpkin to it which will thin it out a bit! After the oats are cooked, swirl in the pumpkin, flax, chia, wheat germ, and pumpkin seeds. Spice, salt, and honey to taste- you may like yours sweeter, while I prefer mine a little salty, to balance the rich flavor of the pumpkin.

Here’s all the amazing health benefits you’re enjoying! Do your body some good this fall 🙂

PUMPKIN– An underestimated superfood, this autumn gem is full of fiber, vitamin C, and beta carotene. It also works wonders on digestion- it eases upset tummies like a charm! You can even bake dog treats with pumpkin to help pups that might be having digestive issues.

CINNAMON– Helps to balance blood sugar, high in antioxidants, aids in detoxification and boosts the metabolism.

OATS– Oats are an amazing source of fiber and protein, and work to balance the blood sugar throughout the day. Incorporating oats into the diet can reduce cardiovascular disease risks, lower cholesterol, and lower type-2 diabetes risk.

FLAXSEED– Famed for being a great source of omega-3 fatty acids (that even stays intact through baking!), flaxseeds are also great for digestion. They are also a surprising antioxidant source- containing more polyphenol antioxidants than even blueberries.

CHIA SEED– The wonder seed! Who knew that such a nutritional powerhouse was growing silly spiky heads when we were younger. Chia seeds are intensely good for hydration- they absorb 2x their weight in fluids, which helps slowly release into our systems when we need it most! For more on Chia seeds, check out this previous post on health benefits and ideas to incorporate into your diet!

WHEAT GERM– Again, very high in omega-3 fatty acids, this is a famed ‘brain builder’ supplement. It’s packed with B-vitamins, which make it ideal for pregnant women and those who don’t eat much animal proteins. It’s also high in fiber, which aids in digestion and detoxification. Minerals found in wheat germ include iron, zinc, selenium, manganese, magnesium, and calcium.

PUMPKIN SEED– Also called pepitas, these babies are high in iron, zinc, manganese, magnesium, and Vitamin E. This is a great food for pregnant women to incorporate into their diets. Raw or activated is best, but toasted brings out a great flavor as well!

RAW HONEY– Chock full of B vitamins, vitamin C, antioxidants, beneficial enzymes, pre and probiotics, honey is also highly regarded for it’s antibacterial and anti fungal properties. Great for incorporating ingot he diet if you feel a cold coming on, or applying topically to a cut, scrape, or burn to prevent infection and speed healing.

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

BEAUTY WEEK: Homemade Bath Bombs

One of my absolute favorite things to do is relax for the evening in a nice, hot bath with a therapeutic and yummy-smelling bath bomb! If you’ve never experienced these glorious creations, do yourself a favor and make them, and see for yourself. These guys fizz in your tub and release yummy smells, oils, butters, skin softeners, and sometimes even colors that make any ordinary bath tub turn into a luxury spa. I used to sell them for $7 a pop, but now I can tell you that you can make your own, and it is so worth it!

You’ll need:

Baking Soda

Citric Acid

Witch Hazel, in a spray bottle

Essential Oil (or Fragrance Oil)

I used my KitchenAid stand mixer for these and it worked beautifully. Once you mix the baking soda and citric acid together, be very careful not to get the mixture wet! It will start fizzing and we really want that to wait for the tub! Gently stir in the essential or fragrance oils- it shouldn’t be enough moisture to cause a reaction.

Once the oils are dispersed comes the hard part! With your witch hazel in your spray bottle, spray the mixture TWICE, and mix with your hands. Repeat this until the mixture starts to clump together in your hands when you squeeze it. Overspraying will cause fizzing, so be very thorough!

When you’ve got your mixture to the clumping phase, mold into any shape you like. I like to pack into cookie cutters, or try to roll them into balls. You could also use soap molds, plastic easter eggs, or even Christmas ornaments that come in half! This is your chance to be creative.

Now, let stand on your counter overnight to dry! Only remove from molds when you are sure that they are hard throughout. If you remove to early, though, you can still throw it in the tub!

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my last batch- vanilla with honey granules mixed in!

Once you go through the original recipe process once and are comfortable with it, you can start to experiment with mix-ins. the key is to add as many therapeutic ingredients as possible (like salts) while still holding the bomb together! It takes practice, but the results are beautiful. See what you can come up with!

OPTIONAL MIX INS:

Food coloring

Sea salt or Epsom salt

Honey granules

Milk powder

Lavender buds or rose petals

…really, anything you want!

Well friends, I am taking next week off from blogging to celebrate Christmas with family and friends! We are spending the next few weeks in Florida with Matt’s family and visiting friends in South Florida- and recording our first official Five and Dime album! We are incredibly excited!

Have a blessed Christmas!

Karli

BEAUTY WEEK: The Full Facial Treatment

This is one of my absolute favorite ways to treat myself!  When I first started working for LUSH, I probably used a face mask every single day, and my skin loved me for it!  Well, I cant exactly afford that anymore, but I’ve learned how to get the same results at home, and ever kick it up a notch.  Give yourself 45 minutes tonight and indulge in this at-home mini facial!

 

PART ONE: DIY MICRODERMABRASION

This is as simple as getting out your box of baking soda.  Microdermabrasion is one of the most expensive (and, admittedly, effective) spa treatments out there.  It involves slowly exfoliating the skin with a diamond-tipped rotary device that sort of feels like sandpaper, but makes your skin glow afterwards for the low low price of $150+ per session (6 sessions usually recommended).  I had microderm three or four times when I worked for a spa, and it really is nice.  But baking soda is just as effected and a billion times cheaper.  See for yourself!

Take a tablespoon of baking soda and splash in just enough warm water to make into a paste.  Smooth it over your skin and gently exfoliate in circular motions, focusing in areas that are problematic, dry, or scarred.  Take your time, enjoy it!  Your skin will thank you.  Massage your face and rinse with warm water.  Admire.  You can stop here and apply a moisturizer and be done.  OR…

 

PART TWO: DIY HERBAL STEAM

This is the fun part because you get to just relax!  Boil some water, and while you’re waiting, fill the bottom of a glass bowl or a stopped sink with any of the following:

Lavender buds

Strips of basil

Rose petals

Chamomile buds

Rosemary needles

Green Tea

Any combination is fine, too!  Whatever you have on hand.  Pour in the boiled water (allow to slightly cool) and then add any of the following:

 Tea tree oil

Lavender oil

Eucalyptus oil

Chamomile oil

Again, whatever you have on hand!  Now, throw a towel over your head, drape it over the bowl or sink, and make yourself a little tent.  Seal the edges. Breath.  Enjoy that lovely herbal steam soaking into your pores!  Continue until your mixture ceases to steam.  Now, you can finish with a moisturizer and be done.  OR…

 

PART THREE: DIY FACE MASK

Here’s the really fun part.  What do you have in your kitchen?  Honey? Bananas? Yogurt? Avocado?  I’m sure you have something.  Finish with one of these on your face!

Banana (great for sensitive skin)

Oatmeal (raw oats mixed with some milk, gently heated)

Honey (mix with cinnamon and nutmeg for acne scarring!)

Yogurt (great for brightening skin)

Crushed aspirin and lemon (again, brightening, good for problem skin/swelling)

Avocado (moisturizing)

Slather on, relax for 20-30 minutes, and rinse with warm water.  NOW you can finish with a moisturizer or, like I do, a little bit of coconut oil!  Be sure to moisturize lightly around your eyes to prevent aging lines 🙂 Enjoy your fresh holiday face!