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?

ALN Best Home Remedies of 2013

ALN's Best Home Remedies of 2013

Some of you may know that I am lucky to be a part of a beautiful blogging community called the Alternative Living Network.  Filled with bloggers who love Jesus and want to live a natural, Kingdom-minded lifestyle, I am endlessly thankful for the challenge and encouragement that they are to me!

This year, we are combining forces to bring you the best writings of 2013. You can see the other blogs (and subjects) involved at the end of the post, but for today, here are ALN’s Best Home Remedies of 2013!

EVERYDAY REMEDIES
Oil Pulling: Your New Daily Routine
What is Oil Pulling?
Establishing a Daily Routine with Essential Oils
Foraging for Wild Edibles
5 Steps to Building the Best Collection of Oils for YOUR Family
Autumn Tonic Tea

ALN Best Home Remedies of 2013 (Elderberry Syrup)
Image Used with Permission from Nourishing Faith & Family

COLD & FLU
A Guide to Elderberry Syrup (Plus 8 Recipes!)
Elderberry Syrup
Preventative Measures for Winter Health
Surviving the World’s Worst Cold Season
Home Remedies for Cold and Flu
The Cold Buster
Easy Detoxifying and Healing Morning Elixir
DIY Herbal Vapor Rub- Crock Pot Method

ALN Best Home Remedies of 2013 (Owie Balm)
Image Used With Permission From Your Thriving Family

BUGS & BOOBOOS
Heal a Spider Bite With a Potato
Healing Bug Bites
Owie Balm Recipe

ALN's Best Home Remedies of 2013 (Remove a Mole with ACV!)
Image Used With Permission From Don’t Waste The Crumbs

SPECIFIC REMEDIES
For Pregnancy: Blend-It-Yourself Pregnancy Tea
For Chicken Pox: Made Up Chicken Pox Salve
For Dry Skin: Dry Itchy Skin Remedies
For Mole Removal: How to Remove a Mole With Apple Cider Vinegar
For Detoxification: 10 Day Water Fast

Great selection of bulk herbs, books, and remedies. Articles, Research Aids and much more.

To see more Best of 2013 Round-ups, make sure to check out the following blogs between 12/23 and 12/31!

Whole Intentions

Feed Me, Mama

It Takes Time

The Entwife’s Journal

The Ezer Wife

Your Thriving Family

Nourishing Simplicity

Richly Rooted

Joyful Thrifty Home

Day 2 Day Joys

Wisdom Seeking Mommy

Natural Momma in Progress

Accidentally Green

Georgetown MN

Growing Slower

Imperfect Homemaker

Simple Life Abundant Life

Natural Living Mamma

Whole New Momma

Nourishing Faith and Family

Easy DIY Hair Treatments

Several years ago, I was part of a management team for a lovely natural cosmetics line. The products basically sold themselves, what with their colorful packaging, intoxicating smells, and fun names. One of the perks of working there was that I got to take home “samples” of anything I wanted, as I needed to be able to speak for the products from personal experience. I, of course, took full advantage.

One of the things that blew me away about this product line was their innovative use of everyday, household materials: honey, baking soda, Castile soap, herbs, oils. This further propelled my growing desire to know all things health and natural beauty: if these products could be so effective, and yet use such common ingredients, why didn’t I just make them myself?

This question has lead me to where I am today: self-professed “witch doctor” of alternative medicine and natural beauty. Today, I’d like to share some at-home fixes for one of our most worrisome features: hair! You need look no further than your kitchen to find the remedy you’ve likely contemplated pawning your iPhone for.

Lack of shine? Try some lemon juice!
Lemon juice is one of those miracle products that can do just about anything: clean your sink, polish your furniture, marinate your fish, brighten up your skin….and shine your hair! Try squeezing out FRESH JUICE from two or three lemons and using it as a rinse for your hair. Just be careful not to let it sit, as it can have a lightening effect, particularly if you sit out in the sun!

Heat damage? Hit up the honey!
Honey is another miracle product. Chock full of vitamins and minerals, it makes better practically everything it touches, from toast to your t-zone (honey is a natural antibacterial, and also has a lightening effect on the skin, which is perfect for hyper pigmentation or general uneven skin tone). To help heal your poor, damaged mane, work one through the ends of your hair and use as a “pack” of sorts: let it sit for about 20 minutes before you shampoo and condition as normal. Honey is a humectant, meaning that it traps moisture and helps seal it in- which is exactly what your tresses need! If you find the honey hard to maneuver, try working in a bit of olive oil to make it more manageable.

Got product buildup? Break it down with baking soda!
I wash my hair exclusively with baking soda and an ACV rinse. Known for its scouring power in the kitchen, a smooth paste of baking soda and water worked in like a shampoo will gut through any amount of grease, silicone, or other excess product in your hair and strip it off, leaving your hair soft and natural! While you’re at it, us it as a gentle body and face scrub. And toothpaste. Again, miracle product.

Got grease? Detox with apple cider vinegar!
This is another cult product that many people use on their hair exclusively. Apple cider vinegar not only helps normalize oil production in the scalp, but because it is a “fermented” product, it will help combat any kind of scalp abnormality or even fungal issues. I know, it’s not pretty, but it happens! Apple cider vinegar is also an extremely good thing to ingest daily: I take a few teaspoons and mix it with water in the morning for a detoxifying, energizing tonic when I’m feeling sluggish.

Frizz and breakage? Call up the avocado!
Tis one can be hard to swallow unless you have an avocado tree at your disposal, being that they re definitely on the pricey side. If you can manage, take an entire avocado and mash it up guacamole style- but before you dig in with your Scoops, work it all through your hair instead. This will coat your hair with those lovely healthy fats that we all eat everyday (right?) and tame those pesky flyaways. In addition, this treatment strengthens the hair and protects against future damage!

Need some body? Grab a Guinness.
I know this one sounds totally bizarre,but at the uppity store I used to work for, we actually sold beer shampoo, marketed to those wanting to improve the volume of their hair. I absolutely love to have as much volume as possible in my hair, and this stuff made me look like an 80’s rocker gone awesome! It was my favorite. I soon realized that I could just grab a bottle of any old stout and work this magic myself-at a much lower cost. So, channel your inner sorority girl, grab a dark beer (the darker, the better) and head to the shower. Work the whole bottle into your hair and let it soak for just a few minutes, then rinse as normal. Try it if you don’t believe me! Plus or minus (depending on how hard you had to work to channel the sorority girl) is that your hair will smell slightly beer-like. You be the judge 🙂

Color need a lift? Brew up some tea!
This is a pretty commonly used trick, but I thought I would touch on it anyway. Different teas (for different hair shades) will boost color in very gentle but beautiful ways. If you are a blonde, try chamomile tea. Brunette, try any normal black tea- or a red tea if you like warm undertones. Redheads can have a bit of fun with this, too- red tea (like rooibos) works great, but if you can get your hands on some hibiscus flowers (called ‘karkade’ in Mediterranean markets, where they are easily found in bulk) you can see some really nice color deepening. While the results of this are never dramatic, it is always a good idea, no matter what your hair color, to do a test patch first, to make sure that you don’t end up looking silly!

No time to shower? Grab some cornstarch!
This is so easy, a baby could do it. No, really- if you are looking for an easy and affordable dry shampoo option, skip the aerosol and silicone loaded types in the hair section and find yourself a bottle of cornstarch-only baby powder. The shake lid makes it easy to sprinkle a bit on your scalp, comb it through, and give your hair new life and body by absorbing oils and giving hair a bit of texture. The lighter your hair, the better these things work- and that goes for commercial brands as well! If your hair is dark, make sure that you experiment with this on a day when you aren’t walking a runway just in case it makes you look likes colonist in a powdered wig. However, even now that my hair is dark, I still find this to be extremely helpful with careful application.

Just want some all-over oomph? Spoon in some yogurt.
Shine and strength are yogurts two big selling points. While the lactic acid in the yogurt will strip away product and grease that leaves hair looking dull and lifeless, milk fat will moisturizer and strengthen. Just be sure not to get a flavored kind, which will leave you quite sticky and smelling like a jelly jar- look for all-natural, flavorless yogurt if you can find it.

Got any more at-home hair tricks? Let me know!

Blend- It- Yourself Pregnancy Tea

Blend- It- Yourself Pregnancy Tea, with recipes for anxiety and heartburn! via Feed Me, Mama!

One of the very first sects of alternative medicine that I adopted into my own life was studying herbs and medicinal teas. Soon after I got married, I became fascinated with the properties of herbs- the way that chamomile tea could put me to sleep, but peppermint could wake me up, but both could help a headache? Who wouldn’t be fascinated by that? It wasn’t long before I started buying loose herbs and blending my own teas- a blend for sleep, a blend for immunity, a blend for PMS. My friends would come to me when they weren’t feeling well and have me blend something specific for their ailments. I loved the empowerment that came with understanding herbs and how they could help me!

When I first became pregnant, I could barely choke down a hot meal, let alone any kind of hot tea- so, supporting my pregnancy with this kind of alternative medicine was out the window (I went to acupuncture instead…but more on that another time). However, once I finally waded out of the nausea into the second trimester, I began drinking a few cups of Traditional Medicinals Pregnancy Herbal Tea each day, and supplementing that with specific blends from Earth Mama Angel Baby for heartburn and anxiety. Well, it wasn’t long before I started doing the math, and realized that it would be much cheaper for me to blend the teas myself- so I ordered some herbs from the Bulk Herb Store and got to work!

This is what’s in my daily pregnancy tea. The active ingredients are identical to that of the Traditional Medicinals tea!

Blend- It- Yourself Pregnancy Tea, with recipes for anxiety and heartburn! via Feed Me, Mama!

Peppermint
Red Raspberry Leaf
Alfalfa
Nettle

I mix equal parts of each herb in my french press and steep for at least ten minutes. Pour and drink!

When I am feeling anxious, I add in a half part each of Lavender and Chamomile.

When I have heartburn, I cut the peppermint in half and add some fresh grated ginger, or fresh squeezed lemon juice to the cup!

See? Mixing your own herbal tea can be that simple. I ordered half a pound of each herb, organic, from the Bulk Herb Store, and it will last me through the end of the pregnancy, and probably well beyond. The best part? I just ran across a great post from Modern Alternative Mama using these same herbs to make a hormone-balancing post-birth tea!

Do you have a tea blend that you swear by? Or a favorite that you buy without fail, that you’d like to learn to make? Tell me! Let’s try it!

Great selection of bulk herbs, books, and remedies. Articles, Research Aids and much more.
, use Promotion Code FEEDMEMAMA1 TODAY!

, use Promotion Code FEEDMEMAMA1 TODAY!

, use Promotion Code FEEDMEMAMA1 TODAY!

, use Promotion Code FEEDMEMAMA1 TODAY!

Surviving the First Trimester- Naturally

firsttrimester

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: Mate

So, it’s pronounced “mah-tay”.  And it just might be your new favorite thing.

I was first introduced to the wonder that is Mate in college by several friends who were introduced to it by a lovely classmate who was originally from Argentina, as is Mate itself.  The drink was taking my friends by storm, and I just couldn’t understand what all the fuss as about- until I tried it.

Mate is not just a drink- when done well, it’s an experience.  Mate is a loose herb that is traditionally packed into a dried gourd in a special way that I have yet to master- then drank out of a special straw called a bombilla that filters out the herb and just gives you the mate tea.  Mate is also traditionally consumed in a communal setting- the host, who prepares the mate, drinks the first cup, then fills the gourd back up with hot water and passes it to the next person, who drinks and then fills for the next person, and so on.

The beauty of mate is the focusing and awakening properties of the herb- it is a stimulant much like coffee, but has no addictive properties nor will it give you jitters.  When lots of people are together and sharing mate, hours of great conversation can pass and seem like minutes because of how engaged and attentive you become.  It is also renown for boosting the immune system and high antioxidant content.  It can be an excellent coffee substitute in the morning, or a surefire cure for the afternoon sleepies at the office.

While it may sound like I am talking about some type of cult experience or illegal substance, I assure you that mate is available at your nearest grocery store, and now even comes in teabag form for you to enjoy in your own individual mug or loose in your French press!

If you ever want to try it the traditional way, we would love to have you over and show you.  Just be prepared for the conversation part! 🙂 The brand that we use is called Guayaki, and it comes in a yellow bag that you can find at Giant in the natural foods section.  You can also purchase delicious, beginner-friendly Mate blends and gourd/bombilla sets at Teavana.

Help Me! Detox

One of the most important tools of a health regimen is the knowledge and time to detoxify. I do think that this is important in all aspects of life, but doing a cleanse for your body is something that can’t be approached lightly or without planning. I’ve found some great resources and have been through detoxes a few times now, and I want to share my experiences with you today!

These days, we are completely bombarded with toxins and things that don’t belong in our bodies- from the food we eat to pollution in the air to what we use to clean our homes, its virtually inescapable. Especially during the holidays, its so attractive to try to ‘get away from it all’- well, with a cleanse, you can give your body the break that it has been craving.

While you can go into virtually any store and buy a boxed ‘detox’ or ‘cleanse’ these days, I am a firm believer that the most effective way to cleanse and rebuild your body is by carefully choosing food and placing exercise over a controlled amount of time. My detoxes usually consist of juicing whole fruits and vegetables for one or two meals per day and eating freshly prepared meals for the rest of the day- avoiding dense carbs (breads and pastas), dairy, caffeine, alcohol, and meat. It seems like a lot, but it is amazing how quickly the body adjusts and heals itself in just 3-5 days. It resets the digestive system, cleanses the lymph system and clears mucous membranes, increases energy, and boosts the immune system.

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If you are new to juicing, be sure to read up on how to juice certain fruits and vegetables, and what tastes good together. For example- anything with grapefruit will be very sour! For just starting out, stick with a mostly vegetable based mix, with a fruit or two to your taste. One of my favorites is Carrot, Celery, Cucumber, Spinach, Apple, and Orange. If you don’t have a juicer, you can buy frozen fruits and puree them in a blender or food processor, and throw some spinach in there for good measure (don’t worry, you can’t taste it). As for your other food, stay simple, but remember: spices are a great tool, as many spices have great health benefits. Try to avoid salting food if possible.

This is what a typical day looks like for me during cleanse:

On Rising: Hot water with lemon and a pinch of cayenne (I do this daily- alkalizes the body, stimulates digestion, and aids in detoxification, among other benefits)

Breakfast: Fresh juice, sometimes mixed into a smoothie. Juice what you can, then add in whole things that are hard or unnecessary to juice to a blender- bananas, berries, avocadoes, spinach. I also add in supplemental whole foods- whole raw oats, chia seeds, ground flaxseeds, and powdered cinnamon and ginger. Puree it all together and you have yourself a powershouse!

Exercise: yoga, swimming, pilates, or light running (helps continue cleansing)

Immediately after workout: homemade protein ball for muscle recovery (or, sub banana and natural nut butter- avoid commercial protein bars)

Lunch: Another juice smoothie, or a green salad with fresh vegetables and oil/vinegar dressing, or a homemade vegetable soup

Dinner: Roasted or steamed veggies, fruit salad, vegetable soup, quinoa with veggies, homemade chickpea curry with quinoa, brown rice with spices

Evening: Detox Bath

Before bed: Caffeine-free tea, such as lavender, chamomile, or senna leaf

Throughout the day, I make sure to drink lots of water and several cups of herbal tea. There are special detoxification blends of tea that can further your process. Some people like to use a gentle laxative tea before bed each night to help with cleansing the digestive system the next day. Traditional Medicinals makes a readily available Senna Leaf tea that doesn’t taste terrible and gets the job done- they also have a good Everyday Detox blend.

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My favorite part of the day is bathtime! I have a beautiful, ancient clawfoot tub that I put to good work in this apartment. Here’s my recipe for the best detox bath, swish it all around and stay in as long as possible:

2 cups Epsom salts

At least 1 cup baking soda (more if you want!)

10 drops tea tree oil

5 drops lavender oil

A teaspoon of powdered ginger

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When exiting the tub, be slow and careful- the detox bath can (and does) make you a wee bit lightheaded if you get out too fast. But, that’s how you know its working!

Another thing I like to add in daily are some quick but effective yoga poses. The best and easiest for detoxification are seated spinal twists– sitting on the floor, turn your head over your shoulder and continue to twist your body as far as comfortable, using the opposite hand to the knee to further the stretch. This causes a sort of ‘wring-out’ effect on the major organs- much like you wring out a dishrag- and allows for fresh blood flow. I also like to end my days with a simple, relaxing inversion– lay on the floor, hips to the wall with legs going up the wall, so that your body makes a 90 degree angle. Stay as long as comfortable and enjoy the relaxing effect!

Repeat this, or a personal variation, each day for 3-7 days. Don’t be surprised if, for the first few days, you feel some ill effects– sluggishness, headaches, a touch of nausea, indecisive bowels. This is very normal, and will be heightened depending on how drastic a change the cleanse is from your everyday diet. Cleanses draw out and remove toxins from our bodies- toxins that will make us feel icky until they are gone. By day 3 you will start feeling much, much better! But, remember that even if you can only cleanse for one day, your body will still be healthier than it was if you weren’t cleansing at all!

Help Me! Anxiety

One of the most debilitating health issues that I have struggles with (and, sometimes, still do struggle with) is anxiety. It reached a head after Matt and I had been married for about a year, and I honestly didn’t know what to do with myself. I had always been the type of person that didn’t get stressed out, let things roll off my back, and was all-around easygoing. Suddenly, my heart would race if Matt wasn’t getting over to an exit lane quickly enough, or if I couldn’t find my dog, or for really any reason at all. I wasn’t myself and I didn’t know how to handle it.

One quick doctors appointment later (with a primary care that I had never met before, I might add) I had a lovely little pill to take that would solve my problems- at least, that’s what I was told. In the three months I took the medication, I only had negative side effects and never felt that my anxiety was alleviated. To make matters worse, I stopped taking the pills cold turkey, which made things much worse before they got better (apparently, my doctor should’ve told me not to do that, but that never happened). I became very aware that I had only done my body harm, and that I wasn’t going to get better (or at least manageable) without some life change.

One of the biggest things that I did (and most effective) was to eliminate caffeine, alcohol, and refined sugars. I was so, so addicted to coffee, and I love dessert like no other, so this was very difficult for me. However, caffeine and sugar both put the nervous system under stress, which allows anxiety to thrive. Instead of coffee in the mornings, I drank some anti-anxiety tea. You can make your own; any of these herbs work well (starred ones taste better than others):

Valerian

Kava

Lavender*

Chamomile*

Dandelion (young leaves, older taste bitter)

Lemon Balm*

Oats*

St. John’s Wort

Vervain

Many of these are available in blends or solo bags from Yogi teas or Traditional Medicinals, both of which are becoming readily available in local supermarkets. Make sure that you read up on how to prepare certain herbs- some must be boiled (like Valerian) while others are steeped like normal tea!

A hidden gem in the natural health world is a magnesium supplement called Natural Calm. Magnesium has an almost immediate calming effect, and this supplement (a powdered drink mix, much like Crystal Light) delivers deliciously. I loved having some before work, or before bed, or really anytime I needed a bit of a calming boost. Most health stores will carry it, and I have even seen it at a supermarket here and there. Very well worth it.

In addition to cutting out certain foods and adding in others, I strived to avoid processed foods and instead add whole foods into my diet- a change that now has become lifestyle for me. Our bodies readily receive the nourishment they need via whole foods, instead of having to drudge through processed foods for the sub-par nutrition available there! Keeping our bodies whole helps us function as we should.

Another key part of my recovery was the addition of exercise into my daily routine. I fell in love with yoga (thanks to the lovely Debra Corso), started rock climbing, and generally tried to stay as active as I could. Not only did this take my mind off of stressors in my life, but the exercise helped my body to function properly, which allowed me to handle situations with grace and ease that was hard to come by beforehand. These days, I practice a bit of yoga in my home, and run 3-5 times a week.

The most important part of my battle with anxiety has been conversations with people that care about me, love the Lord, and help me to focus on what is important. Christian counselors are invaluable if you are struggling with anxiety- the time that I spent speaking with trusted people about my struggle, the more I realized that focus on Christ and his Kingdom was necessary and missing from my life. Regaining vision for my life and praying through panicky situations helped me tremendously.

Please understand that I write these things from my experience and studies, not from a professional standpoint. My experience with anti-anxiety medication may vary drastically from someone else’s, nor can each persons case be treated the same. These are simply changes that helped me, and I pray that they help someone else, too.

Peace be with you,

Karli

Thoughts on Global vs. Local Trade

I have an inner dilemma that I have been battling for a while now: the question of whether to support global economies or focus on local economies. Brands like American Apparel have brought “made in the USA” to the forefront of our shopping brains, particularly in a season when sweatshops and child labor run rampant in most parts of the world. But shouldn’t we try to provide for our brothers and sisters overseas if we can, too?

This debate reached a head for me when I discovered that a shirt that my organization sells is manufactured in Haiti. My initial reaction was negative- we have been active in Haiti and have seen the conditions of work there, and the thought of promoting those environments sickened me. When I raised my concern, however, I was gently reminded that the company that we work with was committed to high ethical standards and that, because the shirts were made in Haiti, we were providing jobs and income to those people that we love, and helping their economy in perhaps the only way we could from a distance. My mind was eased.

My thoughts are further compounded when it comes to food- while I love eating with the seasons, purchasing local foods, and building relationships with farmers and craftsmen, I also really appreciate many foods that don’t grow locally and items that are manufactured in other parts of the company, or even the world. Things like coffee, chocolate, spices, and tea are cultivated well in certain parts of the world that I just don’t live in. As a responsible consumer, do I forgo these things, therefore saving carbon emissions due to shipping and dedicate myself to eating what my local community has to offer, or do I support these global markets, while perhaps putting the global economy on the back burner?

I don’t know what the answer is, but here are a few things that I am confident in:

-If you can buy something local, do it. Especially when it comes to food. Local farmers and culinary artisans depend on their local economy because, for the most part, they can’t export. Plus, you are getting a better quality food that you can be confident in- less preservatives, easier to check on gardening and farming operations, and good relationships with the people you are buying from.

-Fair trade is a beautiful thing. If you can’t get something locally, fair trade is a great way to ensure that your purchase from the global economy is something that you can be confident is building up global individuals and not causing any injustice along the way. There are many fair trade stores popping up now, such as the 10,000 Villages network, that make fair trade shopping feel like a breeze.

-Sweat shops are terrible. If you can’t guarantee that an item you are buying was made without blood on someone’s hands, you just shouldn’t buy it- at least not with a clear conscience. At times, this requires research not only into a store, but also a specific brand- but it is well worth it to know that you are using your money responsibly, and not to cause injustice.

-If there isn’t a good alternative, try making your own. This is especially helpful when it come to things that are really hard to research, such as cleaning products or cosmetics. There are so many ingredients in these items that its hard to say with confidence if a product is manufactured and sourced responsibly. However, there are countless way to replicate these items at home, where you can source the items yourself and be confident n the products you are using.

-Support your friends. Why buy a grocery store card made in who-knows-where when you have a friend that makes them for a living? Why buy a headband at Target when your friend is upcycling pieces and selling them on Etsy? Maybe you have friends that are photographers, or event planners, coffee roasters, stuffed animal makers, or jewelry designers. Show them love, and be loved in return.

-It is better to bow out of an economy than to stimulate a unjust one for lack of a better option. Thrift stores provide a way to purchase (many times with proceeds to a good cause) without giving any money back to the manufacturers. This can be a great place to find things that are difficult to source well, such as shoes, dressy clothes, or furniture.

While I wish that the answers were more cut and dry, I recognize that these thoughts are just part of the journey in being a Christlike consumer, and I certainly have not arrived at full understanding yet. We have to educate ourselves in order to use our money well- each dollar is a tool we are given to build the Kingdom, and we must take that seriously.