Polymyalgia & an anti-inflammatory diet

We have just spent the weekend with a family friend who is suffering from POlymyalgia. having known him my whole life, it was awful to see someone in such pain -he put up a valiant effort with guests there, but his pain was evident.

As a Health Coach, I do not have the answer to everything but I am always interested to learn more so I started researching possible natural assistance to help treat the polymyalgia.

First of all, what is it?
common inflammatory disorder that causes pain, usually in your shoulders and upper body. Inflammation is your body’s natural response when it’s trying to protect you from harmful germs. Inflammation works by drawing extra blood and white blood cells to whatever part of your body it’s trying to defend. This increase of fluid can cause swelling, stiffness, and pain (reference: http://www.healthline.com/health/polymyalgia-rheumatica-diet#overview1).

As it is an inflammatory disease, assistance with a diet high in anti-inflammatory foods can assist. As we are all bio-individuals, we react differently to certain foods so try to keep a food diary & see whether certain foods have a positive, negative or neutral effect.

My top 10 anti-inflammatory foods:

  1. Salmon
  2. Sardines
  3. Walnuts & almonds
  4. Flaxseed & flaxseed oil
  5. Olive oil
  6. Oranges
  7. Green leafy veg including collards, kale & spinach (whatever state our health is in, there is no diet/lifestyle that doesn’t benefit from more leafy greens)
  8. Turmeric – one of my favourite things to add to dishes, delicious in a curry, or through eggs (either powdered or finely grated fresh)
  9. Berries – raspberries, blueberries, cherries
  10. Herbs & spices including cloves, cinnamon, rosemary, ginger, sage & thyme

I also highly recommend easing up on inflammatory foods including sugary products (juice, biscuits & soft drinks), cooking oils (that you would deep-fry food in), alcohol, refined grains (white flour, pasta, biscuits & pastry). More controversial & again I urge you to TRY for a week, or perhaps longer – ease off the dairy & see if you notice any difference. If you’re a meat eater, source the best possible quality meat, ideally grass-fed & grass-finished & only consume meat every third day, or even less frequently.

I love this simple article on 7 days to an anti-inflammatory diet – plenty of easy swaps, if you try to make one change per day.

I am not a Doctor or qualified Nutritionist, always see your Doctor if unsure.

Foods that fight inflammation-infograph

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Top low-tox baby products

I am so thrilled every time I hear from a friend who wants to low-tox their home. Although we often decide we want an immediate change, please be mindful of wastage – if you can longer tolerate a product, can you pass it on to a family member or friend rather than throwing it out?

As a family with a 7 year old, 5 year old & 5 month old, I am conscious of not only what they eat, but what goes onto their skin & into their body by other means.

Low-tox baby wipes – Tooshies by Tom are my absolute favourite, with the added bonus of being compostable.

Low-tox baby moisturisers. I use a few different ones – as a side note, I embrace minimalism but a couple were given by friends as gifts so I also use these on myself:

  1. Wotnot baby lotion – contains no sulphates, petrochemicals, parabens, caustics, glycols, artificial fragrances or preservatives.
  2. Thank-you baby lotion – contains no SLS, SLES or parabens. Contains avocado oil, rosehip oil, marshmallow & chamomile.
  3. Weleda calendula cream – even the smell makes me feel calm with light notes of lavender, but also a soft sweetness.

Talc-free mineral powder: Little Innoscents. I’ve been using this on my 5 mmonth old since the day she was born & she has never once had nappy rash.

Compostable bamboo toothbrushes. How many toothbrushes does your household throw out each year to contribute directly to landfill? You can buy these in brown paper packaging through Nourished Life.

Toothpaste: Little Innoscents Milky Whites organic toothpaste – I’ve added a photo comparing this toothpaste to a standard supermarket purchased Colgate kids toothpaste. Until recently, I had never read the ingredients of kids toothpaste – perhaps as I regarded it as an “essential” product & wasn’t aware of the alternatives.

Baby bottom cream: Bubba Organics – proudly contain no parabens, petrochemicals, sulphates (SLS), mineral oils, synthetic fragrances or colours. It does contain delicious ingredients including aloe vera juice, olive fruit oil, shea butter , goat milk, lavender & rosemary.

Compostable nappy bags: Wotnot

A few other things to note – it can be a hard balance to choose something sustainable, ethical, local, environmentally friendly & low-tox. Have a logical think before you make your purchases – for example, my baby has been given all hand me down clothes. They are not all from the most ethical producers however I feel that as they have been purchased & already worn by at least 2 children, it would be more sustainable for her to wear them than to buy something new that she will only get a few wears out of before she grows into the next size.

Getting kids to try new foods (from a Mum!) 

Everyone will have a different opinion on this but I recently read an article by Justine Lebrun on the I Quit Sugar website which you can find here.

Whilst I agree with many of the points raised, & like that she is a Mum so has experienced it first hand, every family situation is different.

For the last 2 1/2 years, the Father of my little people lived away from home 5 nights a week. Last year I was working 4 days a week, pregnant, managing a pretty big renovation & part of the time living with my parents. Not to mention having a newborn.

This year he is back in town, leaving home at 430am every morning & returning home somewhere between 6-7pm. With a crazy 7 year old, an even crazier 5 year old & a 3 month old who is still “witching” at dinner time, meals aren’t always the peaceful event you hope for. As a matter of fact, my 7 year old asked me tonight “why is it so quiet?” with the witching baby being jiggled in the Baby Bjorn while I attempted to cut / boil / cook dinner. It’s harder than you think.

Nevertheless, our method with me generally as a “single mum” with 3 kids is: the boys sit up on bar stools & eat their dinner. I generally pick at the vegetables I’ve presented them (that I know they won’t eat), modelling how much I loooooove cauliflower. At the same time I can stack the dishwasher, talk to the kids & keep moving so the baby doesn’t wake. We are a “no screen” household from Sunday evening til Friday afternoon every week, however this year my son in year 2 is going to have to make PowerPoint Presentations so some screen time will have to happen (nooooo!). Both boys also have some online Maths homework.

During the week, they are exhausted from school & I find that if I’m going to try a new meal, Saturday, Sunday or Monday is best. Tuesday-Thursday they are too tired to want to try new things. I’m guessing many families are similar.

Don’t put too much pressure on yourself – there aren’t too many adults who only eat crumbed fish & spaghetti bolognaise. If you’re going to crumb it, use a healthy crumb – my go to is either straight quinoa flakes; or a combination or quinoa flakes, sesame seeds, chia seeds & almond meal – depending on what we have in the pantry.

Make it fun & colourful. Cut the veggies in a different shape – try sweet potato in wedges one night & discs another; make carrot sticks into match sticks one night & noodles another. Cut long thin pieces of cucumber, or thin discs. Use a spiraliser. Make it different every night. Don’t make a fuss over what isn’t eaten.

Most importantly, be realistic with your expectations – I haven’t eaten meat in nearly 20 years but my sons like meat (currently). I don’t like pasta, they love it. I could eat salad & veggies all day, every day, whereas they feel slightly different! I do sneak veggies into their bolognaise (usually grated cauliflower & zucchini) but that’s more of a nutrient than a taste issue for me.
We agree as a family that sweet potato is the best veggie ever & that frozen bananas make the best smoothies. We all love my crumbed fish & cucumbers.
We all love whole fruit.
My 7 year old & I share a mayonnaise addiction whereas the others don’t see the fuss. It’s the same throughout life- we all know someone who hates coriander right? How about anchovies? I love both but there was a time where neither were on the Menu for me.

 

 

 

 

 

20 pantry items to kickstart a healthy 2017

If I could force everyone to have 2 New Year’s Resolutions they would be to drastically reduce high-fructose foods & to start purchasing pantry staples from bulk stores, using their own jars.

My top 20 pantry items to kickstart your healthy 2017 are:

1. Nuts – a quick, easy snack high in protein & fat to fill you up & ward off sugar cravings

2. Buckwheat – a versatile ingredient delicious in a home made muesli, great soaked overnight in stewed berries & coconut yoghurt for a gluten-free vegan bircher. I buy a big jar from Naked Foods.

3. almond meal – muffins, cookies, crumble topping, muesli. Such a versatile gluten-free ingredient

4. Coconut oil – cook with it, use it in a vegan chocolate or slather it all over your body or through your hair. You can buy an organic coconut oil in Aldi or Woolworths for less than $7 a jar.

5. Olive oil – cook with it, use in dressings or in a low-fructose cake.

6. A variety of spices including zaatar, cumin, chilli, sumac, curry powder, cinnamon, Ovvio Organic turmeric – spices pimp any dish & make them way more interesting.

7. peanut butter – one of my all time favourite Asian dressings combines PB, tamari & freshly squeezed lime. An easy toast topper. Buy organic only (even Coles & Woolworths have their own organic PB) & check nothing is added like oils or sugar.

8. Tahini – delicious in a dressing with freshly squeeezed lemon & turmeric. Also adds a delicious element to home made chocolate. Mayver’s hulled tahini is the best.

9. Tamari – adds flavour to any dish, it’s a gluten-free version of soy sauce, made with whole soy beans & no added sugar. I buy Pureharvest brand Tamari.

10. cacao – no brainer here – to make all kinds of sweet treats. Cacao is the raw, unprocessed version of cacao. You can even buy it in stores like Aldi now.

11. rice malt syrup – my favourite sweetener. It’s low-fructose & derived from rice. It is a lot less sweet than honey so as you lose your sweet tooth it gives sweet treats just enough sweetness, especially in chocolate . I love Pureharvest which can be found in Coles & Woolworths.

12. quinoa – it’s been round a few years & I always have a store of it, great to bulk up salads or to serve as a gluten-free alternative to pasta

13. sesame seeds – they add flavour & texture to any dish, & are especially good in Asian dishes like a noodle salad. I also sneak them into my vegan chocolate often.

14. pepitas – enjoy them raw, sprinkle them over a black rice salad, lightly roast them with some tamari & chilli for an irresistible snack

15. sunflower seeds – have them raw as a snack, lightly roast them, sprinkle them over salads.

16. Herbal tea – I always choose organic teas as tea is a crop heavily sprayed in pesticides. Have a few varieties – I love Clipper organic peppermint, Spiral organic Genmai Cha, & usually a flavoured white tea or a herbal combination – currently it’s Pukka Night Time & Revitalise.

17. Organic coffee – I make myself a black organic filter Coffee most mornings. No wasteful coffee cups  & you can have your caffeine hit before walking out the door. We all win!

18. Chia seeds – at about 20% protein, chia seeds are great to pimp the nutritional value of a smoothie. You can also use chia seeds in place if an egg.

19. organic Miso soup – I love the Spiral Foods brand organic Miso – a quick, easy snack with 0.14g sugar & 0.92g fat per serve.

20. Tuna – It’s worth checking out this Greenpeace Tuna Sustainability Guide before buying. Hands down, Fish 4 Ever is the most sustainable brand, which you can buy in About Life.

Why start seeing a Health Coach in 2017?

I constantly get asked about what I do as a Health Coach. We focus on your primary food – including these 4 areas. I like to lead by example but am quite aware I am not perfect & am also refining my primary food constantly.
I believe that if you step on a pin tack, you remove that pin tack, rather than treating it with a nurofen / panadol / something stronger. In other words, I want to get to the root cause of your health issues & resolve them. I am passionate about healthy, low-tox living but also strongly feel there is an important part in our lives for Doctors & other qualified practitioners like Nutritionists. I am not going to claim to cure cancer, diabetes or any serious diseases.
I also won’t tell you to become paleo, vegan, dairy-free or become a meat eater because it is what I believe in. I’m not going to force you to stop drinking alcohol, but I will encourage you to drink in moderation. I will encourage you to find a way of eating that suits YOU (we call this bio-individuality). I am a restaurant’s worst nightmare with my mix of eating – currently (again, your eating can change & evolve) I am gluten-free, pescetarian, low-fructose. I prefer to eat seasonally & organic where possible. I was avoiding dairy for a year on the advice of a Naturopath but now am enjoying it in moderation.
I want to know about your relationships – whether that’s with a partner, family &/or friends. If you are in a relationship, is it a loving one? Do you have a supportive network? If you needed to drop in & chat with a friend, could you name a few people you could do that with? Do you catch up with family or friends regularly & enjoy your time with them?
Are you happy in your career? How do you feel every morning when you wake up & know you have a day of work ahead? Do you enjoy a positive workplace? How does your work life affect your relationships?
Do you enjoy regular physical activity? What is it? How often do you change it up? I am guilty of not doing much physical activity currently & know I feel better when I do it. I also tend to stick to the same activities (running & hockey), when I know I would enjoy swimming & pilates.
Do you have some form of spirituality or hobby that helps you take time out from everything else? It could be bushwalking, religion, collecting stamps (I totally did this as a kid), reading (which I do every night), cooking for enjoyment.
The next element is an obvious one – food. It has the ability to affect our mood & overall wellbeing. As you would have seen from my Instagram feed (no pun intended), food is a pivotal part of my life. I live to eat & am constantly thinking about what I can create for the next meal.
I want to work with you – whether it’s a strategy to get out of a dead end career, do a pantry  sweep, visit the supermarket together to help you get on track, or find a new sport you enjoy & makes you feel good. I also feel that spirituality is really lacking for many people as they are so focused on their careers & relationships – especially working Mums who in my personal experience, get up & do everything to get children ready for the day, drop them to school, do a whole day’s work, then pick up the children, do the whole evening routine & by the time the kids are in bed, they just want a glass of wine & bar of chocolate.
afg-health-coach

Wellbeing

Under my study as a Holistic Health Coach at Institute for Integrative Nutrition, the 4 tenets that we learn have a huge effect on our overall health & wellbeing are: careers, spirituality, physical activity & relationships. In addition to this, food has a huge impact on our wellbeing.

In our fast-paced world, it is easy to let one of these four areas fall down while others take centre stage.

Unhappy in a relationship? 

Stuck in a career that is unfulfilling?

Lacking in physical activity?

Do you have an outlet beyond your family, friends, career & physical activity? 

Spirituality could for you mean meditating, reading, bushwalking or even colouring in (the latest fad!). For me it’s reading every night – almost always fiction, something that is engaging but relaxing. I also love yoga, play hockey, & enjoy writing articles for my blog! I also enjoy trying new ingredients & making up recipes. It’s also ok to change what you enjoy, evolving your passions is a reflection of personal growth. In the last year, I have become more passionate about the environment, cutting down single use plastic & de-cluttering (hopefully to eventuate in minimalism).

Being a Health Coach does not replace a Doctor or Nutritionist. We try to get some balance in your life to achieve overall health & get to the root cause of issues. I love the analogy that if you have a pin tack in your foot, do you take a panadol or remove the tack?

In today’s society we often look for a quick fix which means masking the issue with a painkiller (when the cause could be muscular / stress / what we are eating). For example, a headache could be caused by sore muscles, which in turn is caused by stress. Don’t get me started on people who pop an indigestion pill when really they are just eating the wrong foods for their body. 

I come from a family brimming with incredible Nurses & Doctors (as well as some of my closest friends) – their place in society is irreplaceable. Only recently my son had an infection that spread down both legs & needed antibiotics to heal. My younger son was born with a cyst near his eyebrow which needed to be surgically removed. My Dad had an emergency appendix removal last year. My Mum had a knee replacement last year. I opted to birth all three of my children in Hospital. You get the idea…

I feel passionate about my endeavours & practise what I preach. I want you to feel the same level of satisfaction & happiness when you succeed on an endeavour you set out to do -whether it’s to learn to cook, refine your diet, ditch single use plastic, leave an unhappy job, start a new sport, or work on a relationship.

I’m in the throes of reading a book called Pussy by Regena Thomashauer & ladies, she has really struck a chord when she tells you that every day you should do something that makes you feel happy – whether it’s playing some music you love, dressing in clothes that make you feel good, go for a walk on the beach & enjoy the sand between your toes & the sound of the waves; or eating foods that you feel nourishing you. To be totally clichéd – just do it!

Low-fructose kids snacks

I see the question pop up all the time of what healthy / low-sugar snacks people can feed their children.

First of all, if a child is genuinely hungry, they are more likely to try something.

Second of all, I am not a Dr or Nutritionist. If your child has sensitivities to certain foods, don’t give it to them.

Third & finally, if you are feeding them in the car, make sure it is age appropriate & not a choking hazard.

The snacks are easier than you think –

Mixed nuts – a nice little hit of protein & fats.

Popcorn – not the most nutrient dense snack but much better & likely lower in salt than a pack of crisps.

Berries – I rinse, dry on a tea towel then throw whole blueberries & strawberries (cut off their heads to minimise mess & maximise the actual strawberry they eat).

Carrot sticks. I find organic carrot sticks much sweeter & my sons aged 5 & 6, ask for them.

Qukes / baby cucumbers – rinse them, top & tail if you like.

A wrap with mashed avocado / peanut butter / almond butter / cheese.

Apple with slices of cheese; or crackers with slices of cheese. 

Organic corn chips – not a weekly treat but every so often a good little treat.

Grissini sticks – not a regular snack but low in sugar & can be convenient.

Freeze-dried fruit – maximum one little pack a day & check there is no added sugar.

Home-made pancakes or pikelets – neither contain sugar (but both contain gluten)

I’d love to hear your healthy snack suggestions too – please leave a comment if you have something to add