Category Archives: healthy
Recently I went to Charleston, SC for a family reunion. Me and my little sister had a rental car and we had packed a cooler so I was confident I could get whatever I needed. We stayed in a hotel a little outside the city but we scoped the restaurant scene and the natural grocery stores on our phones on the way into town. When traveling with a special diet it is all about the planning.
On the road into town we stopped at Thornhill Farmstand for some pastured eggs. It was very good to see high quality local food at a roadside shop.
The first night my sister made a reservation at SNOB in downtown Charleston which had a local ingredient focus and a gluten free menu. Me and my sister shared this pate appetizer plate that we were assured was gluten free.
My sister got this pastured pork chop over potatoes from the gluten free menu.
The next morning we checked out the Charleston Farmers Market in historic Marion Square, Saturdays from 1oam-2pm. It was really lively and I can tell people here care about what they eat and where it comes from.
We saw lots of low country seasonal produce.
I saw this cheery sign that I agree with: eat your way to enlightenment! I wish it was that easy….
We have great farmers markets back in SF I am not going to lie but I was impressed with the high quality and variety of this one. I also was happy to see that it was very busy.
They had some pastured chicken on display who were enjoying the sun and bugs in the grass. Read more here
Then we stopped at the Honey Baked Ham store to gear up for the family reunion which we were sure would have nothing that was gluten or grain free. This is not the best quality food but it was probably better than the fried chicken and potato salad that was sure to be a staple at the potluck style reunion.
I also got roasted turkey from the honey baked ham store for myself to eat along with some olives and cherry tomatoes I scored at the farmers market. I was assured by the website and the manager that Honey Baked Ham and roasted turkey are gluten free. It was nice to know that is an option even if it not something I would eat if I was not traveling.
Last but not least we stopped for a walk on Folly beach for some fresh air and sand on our feet. It was a great gluten free trip!
More tips for eating gluten free/ grain free when traveling:
Looking for a great cookbook and getting started guide?
I am major fan of Mad Men and I was intrigued when Betty had a thyroid lump in Episode 3 of Season 5. Betty is Don’s ex -wife who has gained some major pounds since season 4 and it is revealed that she has thyroid problem. I want to discuss some of the factors that may be contributing to her condition based on the show and my experience with thyroid issues. Some of Betty’s lifestyle factors are a perfect storm for thyroid dysfunction and many doctors ignore these influences.
She actually found out she had a thyroid tumor after visiting the doctor for a diet pill prescription. At first they suspected that she had cancer but it was later found to be benign. Betty definitely had an inflamed and swollen thyroid which is commonly caused by Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. It is estimated that 35% of people with thyroid cancer also have Hashimoto’s but many people are unaware that they have the condition because most doctors do not address the autoimmune component of thyroid disease. Western practitioners often do not order the proper tests for thyroid antibodies. Most people with low thyroid, up to 90%, actually have Hashimoto’s thyroiditis where the body is attacking it’s own tissue by mistake.
Some Important Factors Contributing to Betty’s Thyroid Issues:
Stress: Betty had some major trauma leading up to Season 5 including the revelation that Don was cheating on her for years. She dismantled her family and moved them into a large ominous house with a new father figure. Going through a major life change can be so stressful that it can spark thyroid irregularities. Stressful events in life increase cortisol production which weakens the GI tract setting the stage for leaky gut and autoimmune dysfunction.
Processed Food: In the 1950′s many women cooked at home like we saw on The Donna Reed Show, making meat loafs and pot roasts but in the 1960′s the trend was to embrace convenience foods. The scene in this episode where Betty is chomping on some Bugles, which were first introduced in 1966, tells us a lot about the era and her habits. High carbohydrate snacks like chips and cookies are often filled with rancid oxidized vegetable oils and hard to digest gluten/ grains which both increase intestinal permeability, setting the stage for Hashimoto’s. When someone has an inflamed and porous gut lining it can stimulate a thyroid autoimmune (self) attack.
Blood Sugar Balance: We often see Betty restricting her food on the show to lose weight. The problem is that low fat and low calorie diets usually lead to high carbohydrate consumption which produces blood sugar fluctuations. These highs and lows are very harmful for the adrenals and thyroid function because cortisol is over produced. People in the 1960′s started to abandon traditional foods like bacon and eggs in favor of cereal, pop tarts, and biscuit mixes. These sugary foods spike blood glucose which drag down hypothalamic signaling for proper thyroid and adrenal function. Protein and fat combined at meals are crucial to keep insulin in a healthy range which supports a healthy thyroid.
Yo- Yo dieting: In season 5 Betty visits Weight Watchers numerous times, commonly skipping meals and often expresses how hungry she feels. Betty is a former model who may have used diet pills or laxatives for many years and that behavior can catch up eventually. When someone is overweight, fatigued and depressed like Betty, it is often an adrenal fatigue issue as well as a thyroid problem. Adrenal hormones assist in the conversion of T-4 to active T-3 which help with weight regulation and energy production. Excessive dieting will cause adrenal burnout inhibiting thyroid hormone production. Many people don’t worry about how yo-yo dieting affects their long term health until it is too late and their thyroid and metabolism is damaged.
Lack of Healthy Fats: If you notice in the end of the episode Betty finishes her daughters ice cream sundae once Sally leaves the room. This behavior is innate because when we starve ourselves of saturated fat the cravings will be so strong that well will give in sooner or later. Our brain must have animal fat to function properly so the signals to binge are out of our control if we are not getting enough. It is much healthier to eat rich meats and fat like ghee or coconut oil than down a carton of sugar laden ice cream. We also need saturated fat from animals and coconut for healthy thyroid functioning because our hormones are made from cholesterol.
Toxins: More chemicals and plastics were introduced during the 1960′s which can negatively affect thyroid function. Cleaning products and beauty care items are full of hormone disruptors called xeno-estrogens. The use of these beauty and home care products have only increased since Betty Draper’s heyday. Betty also smokes which increases storage of heavy metals like cadmium that can slow down liver function and active thyroid hormone conversion. In the show there is copious amounts of alcohol which can also cause hypoglycemic reactions adding to thyroid/adrenal stress and leaky gut. Liver function is very important for clearing toxins but when the thyroid slows liver detox pathways become clogged.
Gluten and other grains: The immune system is always on guard against potential threats and it has an amazing memory for invaders like gluten and other grains. The problem starts when undigested food gets into the blood stream and creates havoc in the body. It is estimated that 80-90% of hypothyroidism is caused by an autoimmune reaction where the body attacks its own gland after the gut becomes porous, which leaks undigested food particles into the bloodstream. Gluten proteins resemble thyroid tissue so the immune system becomes overactive every time we ingest gluten containing grains. Another problem is that molecules of wheat and other grains are so similar that the immune system can not tell the difference. All grains may cause a cross reaction according to many thyroid experts. In Betty’s case she eats gluten all day long which is keeping her immune system on high alert and it is over active, attacking it’s own thyroid tissue. Learn more about how to be grain free here.
Soy: Okay, this was probably not a factor for Betty’s, because at that time soy had a negative reputation as food for communist or vagabond hippies. But soy can be a major player because it has tons of lectins and phytates that block important minerals from being absorbed like selenium and zinc for a healthy thyroid. Soy is full of goitrogens which can also suppress thyroid hormone production. Soy is very hard for the body to break down so it adds to leaky gut syndrome and increase inflammatory response of the body against it’s own precious thyroid. Many people make the mistake of using soy as a vegetarian protein substitute but they do not realize until it is too late that is can ruin thyroid function. Read more about soy dangers here.
Depression: Betty has been to therapy several times for her bizarre behavior (like crashing the car into a mailbox on purpose), mood swings and depression. Low thyroid function can make many people feel like they have low energy which can make people feel depressed. Many experts agree that there is major link between the gut dysfunction and mood/behavior. The feel good neurotransmitters like serotonin and dopamine are made in the gut but when it is inflamed from attempting to digest nutrient poor food there will be less of these important chemicals produced. When the gut heals through an elimination diet people usually feel less depressed pretty quickly. Removing dietary stressors like grains, inflammatory vegetable oils and soy will help the thyroid and adrenals heal themselves which will give people more energy and boost mood.
Constipation: Constipation is very common symptom of lowered thyroid function. Betty seems very stuck in her life and seems to be unable to release old pain. According to Louise Hay’s book You Can Heal Your Life, constipation is caused by refusing to release old ideas and being stuck in the past. One factor with constipation is that a lack of thyroid hormone slows intestinal motility and transit time. Another issue is that when people are not having regular bowel movements hormones like estrogen will be reabsorbed increasing risk for breast cancer.
Grass Fed Girl’s Commentary on Betty’s Condition:
Things have not changed much in conventional treatment of thyroid problems and just like the 1960′s there is much to be desired in Betty’s care plan. She is sent home literally and figuratively with a band aid on her neck. She is told she does not have cancer and just to go on with normal life. Just like now, most conventional doctors do not see the connection between stress, nutrition, environmental factors and thyroid function. Most treatment protocols do not recognize the importance of healing the immune system (linings of the gut, lungs and brain) to slow the bodies attack on the thyroid.
If you suspect you have low thyroid seek out care from a practitioner who understands that there is more to the problem than TSH tests and synthroid (t-4 only replacements). If you have a low thyroid it is important to sleep well, manage stress, follow a grain free diet, and get some holistic care from an integrative doctor. It is also important to get tested for thyroid antibodies to figure out if you have autoimmune condition.
Sources and Resources:
One of the great thyroid books:
Testing without your doctor’s permission needed:
Magnesium is important for more than 300 chemical reactions in the human body. The standard American diet is very low in magnesium and high in refined carbohydrates which will increase the need for this vital mineral. If you have sugar cravings, are stressed out and or have low energy there is a good chance you need more magnesium. The body can not make magnesium so it it vital to supply it everyday in adequate amounts.
1. If we do not eat enough magnesium our muscles can become over-activated causing cramps, spasms and soreness.
2. A lack of magnesium can cause fatigue limiting endurance in athletic endeavors.
3. Magnesium is synergistic with calcium and phosphorus in building bones. Magnesium is even stored on the surface of bones for times when we do not get enough in our diet.
4. Magnesium helps regulate healthy blood flow for heart health and clot prevention.
5. When you think of magnesium, think strong muscles. Magnesium and amino acids work together to create a toned physique. Evey muscle contraction needs magnesium to happen so if we eat foods that have this mineral our metabolisms will speed up.
6. Magnesium can help balance blood sugar and reduce carbohydrate cravings.
7. Magnesium helps the smooth muscles in the digestive tract work properly and promotes regularity. It is also helpful for the formation of digestive enzymes and stomach acid production needed to break down food.
8. Magnesium can really help people with headaches and migraines because it allows nerves to relax.
9. Magnesium helps to balance healthy levels of cholesterol and bring down high triglycerides, which are caused by eating too much starch and sugar.
10. Magnesium is vital for relief of painful periods, bloating and cramps.
Bonus Tip: Anxiety and depression can be positively influenced by proper levels of magnesium.
Good food sources of magnesium are:
- leafy greens
- crunchy greens
- bell peppers
- Cashews, almonds
- seeds: sunflower, flax, pumpkin
- green beans
- wild salmon, halibut, sardines
How much do you need?
Experts agree adults need about 400-800 mg a day. It is important to get as much as you can in your diet from food and then add more if you are dealing with stress, muscle soreness, fatigue, sugar cravings, headaches, PMS, or digestive problems. That means basically everyone needs some supplemental magnesium.
What kind should I take:
Most magnesium found in drug stores is a cheap form of magnesium oxide which has very low in bio-availabilty. Natural Calm Raspberry Lemon is good magnesium citrate for people with constipation but it sometimes is not enough. Many people may also need to take Magnesium Glycinate or Magnesium Malate which are chelated for easier assimilation. A good supplemental amount would 400-600 mg per day.
You can also make an affordable magnesium spray at home for your skin. Follow these directions for DIY magnesium spray.
A good way to get more magnesium is to follow an anti-inflammatory diet such as this one:
Last Saturday night I attended a Paleo pop-up dinner party by Zenbelly organic catering which is owned my friend Simone Schifnadel. It was a great time for everyone involved. I had my own gang of friends but we saw other paleo peeps and made some new friends.
The location was at Foodlab on market and 7th which is venue that can be rented out by different chefs to have impromptu dinner parties.
The main course was a choice of grain free Paella or Ribeye steak from Fallon Hills Ranch . I got the steak that was cooked perfectly. My husband got the Paella which was a good size portion and very creative.
I loved the tart made by The Goods gluten free bakery because it was dairy and grain free. Also the tart was not too sweet which was a nice, becasue I rarely eat sugar. There was also some great gluten free bread (and butter)that the others at the table loved.
It was so nice to eat somewhere that you don’t have to worry about gluten or rancid vegetable oils. Zenbelly is a great catering company that uses seasonal and local ingredients. The owner Simone Shifnadel is Paleo and gluten-free herself and puts some amazing recipes on her blog . It was great to know that the chef understood what we wanted. Thanks so much to Simone for putting this on. I am looking forward to the next one.
In May 2012 I attended the Low Carb Cruise featuring cardiologist Dr. William Davis. The cruise was a great experience where I got to hang out with many leaders in the health and wellness field. Dr. Davis is the NY Times bestselling author of Wheat Belly: Lose the Wheat, Lose the Weight, and Find Your Path Back to Health which outlines how wheat is contributing to many health conditions including diabetes, cancer and obesity. Dr. Davis even overcame his own Type 2 diabetes diagnosis by changing his diet. The following are some of the reasons your daily bread, cereal and pasta are ruining your health. According to Dr. Davis “eating more healthy whole grains” is ineffective, fattening, and downright destructive.
- All types wheat (including whole wheat) have a high glycemic index (GI), which can increase your glycemic load and create Type 2 diabetes over time. Amylopectin A is a complex carbohydrate that is broken down quickly in the mouth and can raise blood sugar more than 6 teaspoons of sugar. Eating just two slices of whole wheat bread will raise blood sugar more than a Snickers bar.
- Amylopectin A is a starch in wheat that triggers an increase of dangerous small LDL particle formation which is low density cholesterol that can get clog blood vessels. A diet high in carbohydrates such as bread will create too much small dense LDL.
- Wheat has gliadin which is an addictive opiates that stimulates our appetite throughout the day and impairs our ability to say no to high carbohydrate foods. These exorphins cause food obsession and unbearable hunger.
- Genetic manipulations were used in the 1970′s to create a high-yield, short and stocky strain of wheat which creates an agricultural Frankengrain. These changes to the plant altered the amino acid profile, meaning the wheat of today has totally different effects on our delicate digestive systems than the grains of early agricultural times.
- Wheat consumption stimulates an excess of female hormones in men which reduces testosterone, creating male breasts and erectile dysfunction.
- Amylopectin A is a starch in wheat that sets off a vicious cycle of deep abdominal belly fat and hormone havok. Extra belly fat makes inflammatory chemicals that promote estrogen dominance which increases cancer risk in men and women.
- Wheat is hidden in most boxed foods to stimulate appetite to keep us coming back for more.
- After the introduction of agricultural products like wheat, about 10,000 years ago, human health declined. Early agricultural people showed signs of cavities, short stature, poor facial structure, and lowered bone density when compared to traditional hunter-gather cultures.
- Seemingly nutritious wheat germ and sprouted wheat has lectins, which are poisons that keep humans from digesting the seed. These lectins cause significant damages and irritation in the small intestine over time.
- Wheat germ agglutinin found in the wheat kernels unlocks the tight barriers of the small intestine letting undigested food into the bloodstream increasing the risk for autoimmune conditions such as MS, Lupus, Chrohn’s, and Hashimoto’s thyroid disease.
- Fiber can be abundantly and easily obtained from fruits, vegetables and nuts. Wheat and other grains can cause constipation, the opposite effect most people are seeking from fiber.
- Wheat consumption can interfere with the production of neurotransmitters such as serotonin in the small intestine creating depression, rage and anxiety in many people.
- Long term ingestion of wheat can cause heartburn because food ferments and expands in the stomach. This undigested food pushes acid into the esophagus. Wheat also neutralizes important digestive enzymes in the stomach delaying the assimilation process, which creates more discomfort.
There is so much more to the story of how wheat can damage our health. If you want to read more about all the ways that wheat is causing chronic disease and weight gain get the book:
He also has a new companion cookbook coming out by Christmas 2012.
You can preorder it now right here and lock in the best price:
You can watch Dr. Davis speaking on the low carb cruise below:
Has eliminating wheat improved your health? Leave a comment and let me know how.