Over the summer, I had a frank conversation with a nutritionist friend about some of the digestive issues I was having. She offered insight, and more importantly, help. Up to this point, I attributed these issues as a side effect from all of the food/beer/wine tasting I was doing. But when I took a break from IntoxiKate to get married—and did not shed a pre-wedding pound on a very clean eating food plan—my digestive issues worsened.
After a few tests, answering lots of questions about my eating habits, and an official visit, we determined there was a problem (more on that coming soon). While I wait for more concrete conclusions from my blood work, I was put on an “elimination diet” paired with supplements and herbs to clean out and reboot my digestive system.
Shortly after taking my initial test and before my doctor’s visit, a good friend of mine asked me to attend the Take Back Your Health Conference in Washington, D.C. Founded by Certified Holistic Health Counselor Robin Shirley, the conference focuses on helping those with chronic diseases make more educated changes in their lifestyle to improve their health. At the time I received the invite, my intention was to go for great blog fodder—a way to help spread some of the messages I learned at the conference. I had no idea how much it would change my perspective on my own digestive issues and how I live my life.
Whether you are suffering from a chronic disease or food allergy, or you just want to make changes in your lifestyle, here are some key takeaways—and a little insight—from the Take Back Your Health Conference:
YOU ARE IN CHARGE
Shirley offered six simple tips to take back your health, and while they may seem simplistic, I think we often lose sight of them in our busy, day-to-day activities. They are true mantras to believe in, and you should take moments out of your day to invest in yourself and do the following:
Eat nutritious foods
Move your body
Detox your body, home, and work environments
Heal with herbs and supplements
Love yourself and others
Indulge in your life
Photo Credit: Courtesy of Take Back Your Health
“Face the death of who you’ve been OR face the death of who you could be.” Debi Silber, who has a slew of titles after her name—MS, RD, WHC™, FDN, President/CEO of Lifestyle Fitness, Inc.—served up a dose of serious motivation. The “mojo-coach” reminded conference-goers, “With crisis comes transformation. The caterpillar becomes the butterfly, completely unrecognizable from what it once was…” Think about that before you decide not to head to the gym. (Be the caterpillar…)
Photo Credit: Courtesy of Debi Silber
EAT FROM THE FOUR KINGDOMS
I basically want to be Frank and Camille Giglio. The couple is raising their family completely off the grid, finding balance and developing an idea of “time and place” (aka. eating seasonally and locally) in their home in Maine. I picked up more than a few homemade products from their booth at the conference—FG’s Garden Tonic, FG’s Herb Salt, and the Maine Man Beard Oil (for my husband)—but one of the real takeaways was Chef Frank’s presentation on food. He talked about the importance of incorporating foods from the Four Kingdoms into your diet—the Animal Kingdom (organic, pasteurized animals), Plant Kingdom (organic, local, and seasonal vegetables and herbs), Bacteria Kingdom (fermented foods), and Fungi Kingdom (mushrooms).
P.S. Frank is the featured chef for the New York Times best-selling cookbook, Clean Eats by Dr. Alejandro Junger.
Photo Credit: Courtesy of Frank Giglio
Frank is teaching a 4-week online course on Fermentation Fundamentals with simple recipes to incorporate into your diet. Starts Nov.14th. $349 per person For more info, visit www.threelilyfarm.com/fermentation
TRY THIS HIGH DENSITY CEREAL SUBSTITUTE
Former Westchester chef Stephanie Stierhoff changed her career upon moving south, founding Power and Balance Fitness. Focused on finding the balance for her clients’ health and fitness, Steirhoff found it difficult to recommend clean foods for those looking for healthy alternatives to cereals and granola. Her solution? Inventing one of her own—Nut-Nola and Seed-Nola is a gluten-free, grain-free, granola-like, satisfying cereal or snack. Both include only organic, sprouted and activated, low-temperature dried nuts and seeds to power you through your workout (or work day!).
Photo Credit: Courtesy of Stephanie Stierhoff
AVOID “PALATE FATIGUE”
Robb Wolf, the New York Times best-selling author of The Paleo Solution–The Original Human Diet, offered insight on why so many Americans fail at changing their diet: “Palate fatigue” occurs when people get bored with the food they are currently eating and seek other items—or flavors—out. “American supermarkets stock over 50,000 items. Another 11,000 new items are introduced each year.” That’s a lot of “food products” to choose from. (In short—do we really need those chicken-and-waffle-flavored potato chips?) You can combat palate fatigue—and avoid reaching for the Doritos—by mixing up your combinations meats, vegetables, healthy fats, and spices/herbs. The possibilities are endless… and delicious!
Photo Credit: Courtesy of Take Back Your Health
USE CULINARY HERBS AS MEDICINE
Okay, I’ll admit—Andrea Beaman may have a restraining out on yours truly. Listen, I can’t help it… I’m obsessed and found her completely captivating. The chef and best-selling author pairs knowledge with adaptable ways you can change your diet—and has a great personality to boot. Beaman described how herbs like thyme, oregano, and parsley nourish and support the digestive system. For example, she described how drinking a simple homemade hot drink—hot water, fresh thyme, lemon and honey—can help with digestive and congestive issues. To learn more about healing herbs, check out her website.
Beaman says to the best way to eat food is to “rest and digest,” which means no more having lunch at your desk. Take a step away from your environment and focus on eating—and tasting—your food slowly.