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Real Food. Real Conversations.

Food & Cooking Podcasts

Plant-based and vegan diet topics, and all things related to the controversial online food world.


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Plant-based and vegan diet topics, and all things related to the controversial online food world.



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Where Am I Now?

This is the 100th episode of Real Food Real Conversations and I can't believe it! I published my first episode almost two years ago, so much has changed since then. Listen in to hear updates of how we are doing and where we are now! Time can change people, especially after the last two years we have had. It most certainly has changed our family and life. Starting my podcast was something I decided to do after realizing life was slowing down with all happening in 2020 and business was going to change for me. Brand budgets were tight, the world was unsure of it's future. I needed something else and my awesome business coach (I interviewed her in the episode about exercise habits) suggested a podcast. I am thinking it's because I like to talk, LOL! She is not wrong. Starting a podcast helped me express the thoughts and ideas I had without the pressure of social media. I liked having a platform that I didn't have to worry about an algorithm for, I could choose what to say and how I wanted to say it. It was so freeing and really helped me get through 2020. I loved meeting so many new people, even if it was only online. But that was our new normal at the time, and it gave me avenues to be social when being social in life was harder. How Our Life Has Changed The last two years have taught me a lot. My life, my self, and my business have all gone through changes. Some experiences have been good, and some have been rough. But all in all, I am a better person today than I was two years ago. Changes in my business When the world shut down, unfortunately so did a lot of my income. I make the bulk of my money partnering with brands to share products I know, use and love with my audience. Because of the financial breakdowns with all that happened in 2020, many businesses put their budgets on hold. Which meant I my income was also put on hold. The good part was that my site traffic increased a ton as people now were home learning how to cook and bake, and having more meals at home. This was great and I loved sharing more with everyone! I even created some pantry meal videos and gave them out for free to my audience, this felt good because I love giving to the community. But overall, we took a hit financially so I had to make some changes. When you go through struggles, you learn a lot about yourself and are able to step back and see what it is you truly want. I realized how much I love food photography and the creative aspect in what I do, from the photos to the recipes. Which led me to a year long photography mentorship that I am doing now. I also learned that I love the health aspect about what I teach and got certified to be an ACE Health and Wellness Coach. I truly enjoy working with clients to help them meet their health and wellness goals! If you are looking for a coach that will guide you towards your goals and be by your side as you succeed, I'm your girl! Today, I am in a very good place with Veggies Don't Bite. Business is picking up again and I am focusing on partnerships that make me happy and fill me up. One thing that I have learned is that life is too short to be unhappy. Money isn't everything, you can adjust your budget to keep your mental health in a good place. Why I don't eat gluten If you have read about our journey with our diet changes, and what led me to start my business, you'll know that it all started with my husband's health. We began eating a plant-based diet for his heart health, and (mostly) haven't made a ton of changes. About two years ago, I started working with a functional medicine doctor (I had her on the podcast to chat about mental and physical health) after I went into early onset menopause. One of the first things I learned was that I needed to cut out gluten. Wow, what a life changer. I had dealt with seasonal allergies my entire adult life, being on one form of medication for many years.


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Why is Fiber Important?

With the obsession over protein, we often miss the mark on what we really should focus on, fiber. This is why we are talking all about why fiber is important with our guest expert! Fiber is a necessary carbohydrate for our body. Everyone needs to include it in their diet in order to maintain physical health. Nichole Dandrea-Russert, MS, RDN, author of The Fiber Effect, has been a registered dietitian nutritionist for 27 years, specializing in heart disease, diabetes, sports nutrition and women's health. For the past 13 years, she has focused on plant-based lifestyles through inspiring and educating people about plant-based eating to optimize their health and the health of the planet. Nichole has been featured in Eating Well, Business Insider and Atlanta Journal Constitution. She is also a media spokesperson for The Weather Channel and local Atlanta television networks. She shares her passion through her website Purely Planted. She lives in Atlanta, GA with her husband and rescue dog, Mariposa. Grab her Free 5 Tasty and Simple-to-Make Plant-Based Dressings ebook here! What is Fiber? Fiber is a carbohydrate that is not digested by our body. We don't have enzymes to break down the fibrous components of plants, although chewing does help a bit. But overall, it moves through us undigested and whole. There are two types, soluble and insoluble fiber. Soluble fiber becomes a gel like consistency when we eat it as it absorbs with water. Insoluble is more like roughage that moves through whole. Why Do We Need Fiber? Fiber is so important for our body. It impacts us both directly and indirectly. While many people think that fiber is there mainly for your digestive system, it does impact many other things as well. What fiber does for your body Soluble fiber helps lower cholesterol and control blood sugar and feeds healthy bacteria in the gut. There is now newer research coming out that shows how fiber is the foundation for gut health. Gut health is being linked to many things, from digestion to mental health and moods. Fiber helps lower cholesterol by decreasing the absorption of bad cholesterol and pulling some of it out of our system. Also helps keep inflammation down by feeding bacteria in our gut and diversifying it. This keeps inflammation down both short term and long term, which helps prevent lifestyle diseases like heart disease, diabetes and also manage weight. This can also help indirectly by preventing types of dementia and cancers. Insoluble fiber helps to clear our toxins and carcinogens out of our body and pulls water into the large intestine and colon which helps you poop. What Happens if You Don’t Get Enough Fiber? Most of the population are not getting enough fiber, in fact more than 95% are not getting what they need. Women are supposed to get a minimum of 25 grams a day and men 38 grams. This is based on fiber's role in the prevention of heart disease. When your body isn't getting enough fiber, it can't function ConstipationStomach painsHeadachesBlood sugar swingsMood swingsCraving carbohydratesNot feeling satisfied with mealsOvereating leading to weight gainNot sleeping well Sources of Fiber Whole foods are the best source of getting fiber. You cannot get fiber in animal products. When making any change in your diet, especially with upping your fiber, make sure to up it slowly to minimize GI discomfort. There are different types of fiber, so eating a variety of foods is important. Some foods that contain fiber are: Beans (lentils, black beans, pinto beans, etc)Leafy greensWhole grains (brown rice, farro, quinoa, buckwheat, etc)Chia seedsFlaxmeal Also make sure to drink plenty of water when you are eating lots of fiber! While supplements can also be helpful, using whole foods to get fiber is best because with supplements you aren't getting the other healing benefits like the phytonutrients that come with fiber.


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Diet and Menopause

Is there a connection between diet and menopause? There is a lot we can do as women while we go through this big change in our life! Join us today as we chat with a triple board satisfied OBGYN all about menopause and how we can tackle this time in our life to make it through in the best way possible! Having been through menopause myself (I was an early adopter yay me LOL!), this topic is such an important discussion to have. Learning the tools to navigate menopause in a way that works for you is the best thing you can do! Dr. Anna Cabeca, DO, OBGYN, FACOG, is triple-board certified and a fellow of gynecology and obstetrics, integrative medicine, and anti-aging and regenerative medicine. She has special certifications in functional medicine, sexual health, and bioidentical hormone replacement therapy. For the past 20 years, she’s served 10,000+ women in her private practice— and millions more through her books, online videos and articles. When her own health took a troubling turn during menopause, she sought out the wisdom of healers around the world. She learned that modern medicine and time-tested natural remedies are not at odds. Working together, they create indisputable results and true well being. Using delicious, healing foods and simple lifestyle changes, Dr. Anna reclaimed her health and life. Fueled by her belief that every woman deserves to be empowered and in control of their health and life, she developed the Keto-Green lifestyle, which has helped thousands of women opt out of menopause misery and experience a joyful transition to the next stage of their lives. With her methods, you, too, can breeze through menopause into your “second spring”, feeling the best you ever have. What is Menopause? While many think menopause is a period of time, it actually isn't. Menopause is the actual day that is 12 months from your last period. There are different stages you go through around the day of menopause, these are known as peri menopause and post menopause. This is a time of neuroendocrine vulnerability, your glucose uptake increase and your progesterone plummets. This can begin as early as our mid 30's and comes with a multitude of symptoms. Symptoms The symptoms during the stages of menopause can vary from person to person and in severity. Because we are all different, we can't pinpoint the exact things we will go through, but here are some common signs: hot flashesmood swings, depression and anxietyweight gainsleep disturbances and insomniairregular menstrual cycleschanges in hormones as seen through blood work Stages of Menopause As we said, the actual name menopause is the day that lies 12 months since your last period. Here are the stages that lie before and after that day: Pre menopause- this is the period before any symptoms of peri menopause begin. This is the time of main reproductive years for women. Peri menopause- this is the period of time when you are experience menopausal symptoms. It can be anything mentioned above and on average starts anywhere between 35-55. Menopause- the day that is exactly 12 months from your last period. Post menopause- this is the period of time after the day of menopause. However this all can be tricky because the terminology needs some work. For example, what happens when you've had a hysterectomy? Are you in post menopause even though you haven't naturally entered that stage? More work needs to be done in this area. How long does menopause last? The main stage of menopause, which is peri menopause, can last anywhere from 5-15 years. This again can vary from woman to woman. What Is the Best Diet for Menopausal Women? There are a lot of opinions when it comes to women and menopause, especially in the diet area. But according to Dr. Anna and the work she has done, she treats her patients with a keto green diet. This consists of: dark green leafy greensno sugarlow carbohydratesfoods t...


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How to Go Dairy Free

Learning how to go dairy free in an easy and doable way is an important part of your success! It doesn't have to be hard or stressful! There are many ways to love your dairy free diet, whether it's by choice or need going dairy free can be just as delicious. I don't have the best relationship with dairy. While I am not allergic, my body doesn't love dairy. That being said, I am really picky with my dairy free alternatives. So if I don't find something that tastes great, I won't eat it! I can't say I am totally dairy free, because if I want something and I don't have a great dairy free version as an option, I will still eat the dairy. But I try and do as dairy free as possible. If going dairy free is something you're looking to move towards, you can do it! There are lots of options, both store bought and homemade, to make your transition delicious. What is Dairy? Dairy is any food that is made of the milk products from an animal. There are many animals that produce milk, cow, sheep, goat are the most common. But there are other countries that use the milk from many other animals. Foods that have dairy There are many foods that contain dairy. Milk, yogurt, butter, cream, cheese, kefir and ice cream are some common ones. But milk can be hidden in many other foods so you have to be careful if you cannot eat it. Knowing the alternative names of dairy is important as there are many you probably wouldn't recognize. Some of the names for ingredients that are considered dairy but don't have the common names listed above are: caramel colorcaseincaseinatescurdscustardgalactosegheehalf and halfhydrolysateskoumisslactalbuminlactate solidslactitol monohydratelactoglobulinlactoselactuloselactyc yeastNisin preparationnougatpaneerpuddingquarkrecaldentrennetsherbetsimplessewhey Is Dairy Bad for You? Some people can tolerate dairy better than others. But just because you can tolerate it, doesn't mean you should be eating it as part of your regular diet. While I advocate for balance, and I don't think that eating dairy once in a while is a big deal (unless of course you can't tolerate it or have an allergy), it should be something you eat in small amounts. Dairy is the leading source of saturated fat in foods. Saturated fat contributes to chronic diseases like type 2 diabetes and heart disease and can increase your risk to things like high cholesterol and cancer. Dairy can also cause side effects for some people, for me especially I see it affect my skin. Whenever I eat dairy, I always have breakouts. How Long Does It Take To Get Dairy Out of Your System? Everyone's bodies are different. When trying to transition away from dairy, it takes months for you to see the full effects. But some sources say that after 2-3 weeks you can feel better with the effects of dairy making their way out. How Do I Transition to a Dairy Free Diet? Any time you make a change in something you are used to doing it will be difficult. This is because our daily habits are set in our life and we don't have to think hard about them. So changing those will take some brain power which takes more of our energy. But this doesn't mean that you can't make it easier, and one day the new habits will take over! Here are my tips for making the transition to a dairy free life easier: Start slow. This isn't a race and no one gets a trophy. Begin with foods you love most and find alternatives for those.Transition one food at a time over. No need to do a huge overhaul all at once. Look for store bought versions to start to make it easy, then you can start making your own if you prefer.If something doesn't taste good to you, don't eat it. You won't last with things you don't like.Have fun with it! Life is too short to be stressed! Best Dairy Free Brands I am really picky when it comes to my dairy free products. I often make a lot of things, like my vegan ranch dressing,


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What Is a Raw Food Diet?

Many people want to know what a raw food diet is and how it differs from a traditional vegan diet. Our guest today is an expert on all things raw and is dishing out all the facts! It can get confusing keeping it all straight, and with so much information online it's hard to separate the real info. So we are making it easy! When it comes to deciding what way of eating is best for you, having up to date information you can trust is important. At the age of 28, Russell took a life-changing trip to Koh Samui, Thailand to clear up the acne that had plagued him for years. It was there he discovered raw food. Russell’s mission is to make raw food accessible every day. Whether it’s raw sandwiches or show-stopping dinner parties, your meals can be amazingly healthy. Today, Russell has had the pleasure of teaching raw food to thousands of people worldwide. Students have learned through his livestreams and online courses at Definition of a Raw Food Diet A raw food diet focuses on food that is in it's raw state or cooked below 116 degrees Fahrenheit (although that exact number can change depending on who you ask). 116 degress is the temperature that food tends to lose the most delicate of it's enzymes. Raw chefs use different ingredients that are in their natural state or dehydrated in a dehydrator. With this they can create all types of recipes, from food like pizza, crackers and even bread. Sauces can also be made in raw form. The secret is using alternative methods like thickening with other raw foods (like sun dried tomatoes for a tomato sauce or cashews for a dip or dressing). Making things like crackers or pizza tortillas requires you to slowly crisp these foods in a dehydrator. It simply just takes longer. The Theory Behind a Raw Food Diet As we said before, food tends to lose it's enzymes at around 116 degrees Fahrenheit. So theories behind raw foods diets say that to get the most out of foods you want to keep the enzymes. While not necessarily backed by science, theorists saw our body has enzyme bank account and if you eat food with all it's enzymes in it, you don't deplete them from you enzyme bank account which allows your body to be in it's best state. Others will say that enzymes don't make it through stomach acid anyway so it doesn't make a difference. The bottom line is that you need to try and see what works for you. Everyone needs to do their own research. If you eat something and it makes you feel good, then do it. Is a Raw Food Diet Healthy? Whether or not a raw food diet is the best for you depends on your individual body. You need to listen to your body and what works for it. Some people can't digest things that other people can, so while eating some raw food can make you feel amazing, others may not. Ethically, you can't say a raw diet will solve all problems. What works for one person may not work for another. That being said, raw fruit and vegetables is filled with nutrients that our body loves and needs to function. Nutritional deficiencies take a long time to show up, so it's hard to base how healthy a raw food diet is on that fact alone. You also need to think about what satiates you, whether you can feel satisfied with simply fruits and vegetables or if you need other types of foods is purely an individual issue. Examples of Raw Foods You'd be surprised how many things you already eat that are raw! Here are some examples of raw food and also raw ingredients you can put together to make something: JuicesSmoothiesGranola made in a dehydratorChia seed puddingOats (are steamed to preserve shelf life but ok when you are just starting)Nut milksSaladsDairy free cheeses made from raw nutsDressings like my vegan ranch Make a raw "meat" like this one from my zucchini roll upsFermented foods like sauerkraut or kimchi (make sure these are in the refrigerated area because if not they have been pasteurized and are not raw)All f...


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How to Master a Healthy Food Relationship

Having a healthy relationship with food is so important for our mental health, but it also affects our physical health. Tune in to hear our guest expert, a board certified pediatrician, share strategies and tips to keep you feeling amazing! Keeping a positive food relationship when you are trying to make dietary changes can be challenging, even when you are trying to eat a more plant-based diet. The online diet world is tough to navigate so leaning on experts to guide the way is really important! Dr. Yami is a board-certified pediatrician, certified lifestyle medicine physician, national board-certified health and wellness coach, author and international speaker. She is a passionate promoter of healthy lifestyles, especially the power of plant-based diets for the prevention of chronic disease. She founded where she provides information on plant-based diets for children. She also hosts the popular podcast Veggie Doctor Radio which boasts listeners from 96 countries and nearly half a million downloads to date. She is a fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics, a diplomate of the American College of Lifestyle Medicine, has a certificate in plant-based nutrition and is a certified Food for Life Instructor. Dr. Yami owns Nourish Wellness, a pediatric micro-practice in Yakima, Washington where she lives with her husband and two active sons. Her book is called “A Parent’s Guide to Intuitive Eating: How to Raise Kids Who Love to Eat Healthy”. You can learn more about Dr. Yami at and grab some of her free resources here! Definition of a Healthy Food Relationship While the meaning of a healthy relationship with food will be different for each person, it's really important that we strive towards having one. According to Dr. Yami, her healthy relationship with food is defined as: One the supports health and well-being and fuels the body but also fits into ones lifestyle, culture, brings pleasure and is never associated with judgement, guilt or shame. The journey and end result may morph and change as we go through life, but the main thing to focus on is that you are moving forward and not falling into traps that diet culture can bring. Why a Healthy Food Relationship is Important In the US, 70% of children's calories come from ultra processed foods. Let that sink in a bit. Offering a diet rich in all the nutrients is so important for a child's growing body. And doing so in a way that helps guide them into a healthy food relationship is just as important. By the age of 5 children have already unlearned tuning into their bodies. This is due to many things, but parents trying to get their children to eat more, finish their meal, clean their plates, etc is a big contributer. If we don't give our children opportunities to be in tune with their own body cues with relation to food is very damaging. They won't be able to tell when they are hungry, full, or even honor their body's cravings (which can be a signal they need a certain nutrient). If children don't have these self help skills when they become adults, it can lead to a range of disordered eating. Which then moves from generation to generation. However, if we help guide our children when it comes to food, we allow them to become adults with a positive relationship to food. What Causes a Bad Relationship with Food? There are many reasons why one would create a negative relationship with food. It generally stems from the past and their experiences. One reason could be family environment, meaning how their family growing up viewed food and handled eating. It could be comments about appearance, weight, eating habits, etc. For example, telling our kids that we can't eat birthday cake, ice cream or candy can trigger a false fear surrounding that food. This restricting of certain foods can affect the brain and trigger binging when they come into contact with that food again.


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How Foodways Plays a Role in Diet

While there are many things wrong with diet culture, a major issue is its effect on foodways and how it influences people into thinking the food from their culture may be deemed bad or wrong. There is no reason (other than a medical one) why you can't eat a food that is part of you and your culture. Just because our diet world likes to demonize certain foods, it doesn't mean it's right. Listen in to hear more about why this shouldn't happen and how to eat what makes you feel good while including all the foods you love! Dalina Soto MA, RD, LDN is a Spanish speaking registered dietitian. Dalina works as one of the few Spanish speaking RDs in the Philadelphia area and virtually across the country, teaching her clients how to ditch the diet mentality and keep their culture alive. Check out her Free Workshop: 3 Ways to Ditch Diets! What are Foodways? When we talk about foodways we mean what, how and why people eat as related to their culture or traditions. It isn't just about the actual food people eat but also about the reasons behind it, how it gets prepared, etc. Foodways encompasses the social, cultural and economic practices behind a person or groups of persons food. How Diet Culture Affects Foodways and Traditions Much of the science based training behind food (and diet culture), and how food affects health, is based on Eurocentric research (much like the history of BMI). This research doesn't include people in different countries, so how can we apply this science worldwide? We all know that even people within one culture are different in their bodies, the way they react to certain foods, what they can handle, etc. But yet, we apple the same science to them and to people in all different cultures. Instead of digging deeper and expanding our research, we apply stereotypes to all. The United States is a melting pot of cultures, it's the foundation of our country. So it's time to start being more culturally aware in many areas, especially when it comes to health and wellness. It is time to update the science to include things like social determinants of health, not just how food and exercise relate to our bodies. How to Eat and Keep Your Foodways One of the main things we need to start focusing on is the mental health aspect behind how we look at food. We need to move away from the diet culture message of what is "right" or "wrong" and away from extremes. Extremes sell, middle grounds do not. This is why we see extremes in main stream media and social media. But extremes also cause issues with our mental health, so it's up to us to control what we consume. There is a hierarchy of needs when it comes to our wellbeing: shelter and money are first. Then we can talk about nutrition. However, we often are made to feel like nutrition comes first and if you don't have the means then you are SOL (shit out of luck!). This is far from the truth. The sooner we can start using that hierarchy to help others guide their wellness, the more success we will have. First, start with reducing stress. Move away from what diet culture says you can and can't have. Honor what you have access to, and what you eat culturally. White rice is a great carbohydrate, and we need carbohydrates for energy. If you like it eat it, if you like brown rice, eat that. Both will provide carbohydrates. Try frozen and canned produce. Did you know that produce meant for freezing and canning is picked at peek ripeness? It's a great option for people! Take the fear away from what is sold as scary. A lot of the fear mongering behind foods isn't based on real data. It's base is sales in nature and while it can have success in making the sale, it wreaks havoc to our mental health. The bottom line is you get to choose, you don't have to do something that doesn't feel right. Once we can give the education to those that need it, it's up to them to use what they learn to make decisions for what they ...


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Vegan, Cruelty-Free and Clean Skincare

With all the info out there, it is hard to know what the best vegan, cruelty-free and clean skincare products are. But our guest today is an industry expert and is sharing all the info we need to choose the best products! Taking care of our skin is so important. It's the largest organ we have! And nothing feels better than high quality products that are good for your body and actually work. Which is why I always turn to OSEA Malibu for all my skin care needs! Use my link above and code SOPHIADCOACHING10 for 10% off your first order! OSEA began in Jenefer’s kitchen sink after a decade working as Spa Director at the historic Murrieta Hot Springs. Paired with her training in various healing modalities including Polarity Therapy, Acupressure, Shiatsu and Biodynamic Craniosacral Therapy, Jenefer was a thought leader in the burgeoning wellness space. Her desire to create active, vegan and clean skincare was revolutionary and what began as a personal passion soon evolved into a fully-fledged beauty brand, manifesting the seed of her idea into reality. What Does Clean Mean in Skincare? The term clean skincare doesn't have one set definition because it is not regulated by the government, so it is up to each brand to define what clean skincare means to them. In general, clean skincare uses products that are from the earth, sustainable and do not contain synthetic chemicals. They are often also vegan and cruelty-free. OSEA products focus on marine based elements. Most of their products are seaweed based. What Is the Difference Between Vegan and Cruelty-Free? When you look at a clean skincare brand, you often also see the labels vegan and cruelty-free. While these most often, and should, go hand in hand, they don't mean the same thing. Vegan means that they do not contain any animal products in the product itself. While cruelty-free means that the products are not tested on animals. Products can be cruelty-free but not vegan. But vegan products are also cruelty-free because vegan means that no animals were used at any point in making the product. Are Vegan, Cruelty-Free and Clean Skincare Products Best? Everyone has their own opinion on what products they believe are best. But over here, we focus on vegan, cruelty-free and clean skincare brands. They are more sustainable than those that use synthetic chemicals because they use ingredients from the earth. Typically, clean skincare tends to give people less of a reaction when using them. This is mostly because they don't contain synthetic chemicals and focus on earth based ingredients, however someone can react to ingredients from the earth as well. Reducing synthetically derived chemicals also makes it so that products can work with so many different skin types. Often times a person who thinks they have sensitive skin finds out it was just the chemicals they were reacting to and their skin is not that sensitive. Also, clean skincare tends to have sustainable packaging which is also another way to help the earth. OSEA for example packages their products in glass packaging. A vegan plant-based life is overall the most sustainable way for us to live, there is so much to choose from when it comes from earth! Ingredients in Clean Skincare Products Most clean skincare brands use ingredients from the earth. OSEA stands for Ocean, Sun, Earth and Atmosphere. But they mostly focus on marine based ingredients. Most of their products use seaweed as a base, and some use essential oils. Seaweed is rich in antioxidants, vitamins and minerals that are all amazing for your skin. Essential oils are another main ingredient used for clean skincare. They come from plants and capture the plants scent. How Do I Get a Clean Skincare Routine? First you need to find a product you love. OSEA is my go to! You also need to be consistent. You can't make progress on anything until you establish a good consistency.


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How to Start a Vegan Diet

If you're looking for info on how to start a vegan diet, you've come to the right place! Our expert guest is sharing all her best tips and tricks to make it easy and seamless! Change can be hard, but when you take it slow and commit to learning all you need to know it can be a lot easier than you think. Focusing on what works for you is most important! Having the info you need to make a change is also very important. We only know what we know! Monique Koch started her vegan journey in April 2010 because it was a way for her to protest animal & human exploitation, preserve the planet, and improve her health. Her purpose is to help everyday people learn about the benefits of vegan life with tips, recipes, and encouragement. After struggling to find easy recipes with accessible ingredients, she decided to start my YouTube channel to share all the creations she was making for herself and her family. A few years later, she started her podcast to have candid conversations with other vegans (especially other Black vegans) to inspire veganism in the Black community. Monique believes in “progression over perfection” and this compassionate approach gives everyday people the support they need to stay vegan for life. Make sure to pick up her free vegan starter kit! What Is a Vegan Diet? A vegan diet means you do not eat any products with animals. Veganism as a whole is not just about food though, it actually means that you live a life without any animal products. Things like leather, wool and even animal products in make up are things vegan people don't use. When the focus is purely on the diet part, it's more accurate to say you eat a plant-based diet. How Do I Start Going Vegan? The most important thing to start with is asking yourself why you want to do it in the first place. Is it health? The environment? Animals? There is no wrong answer, only the answer that resonates with you. As time goes on, you will go through moments that you really need to lean on your why. And your why may change! You need to make the decision for yourself because there is so much power in committing to something you really want! A great place to start is veganizing your favorite meals, this will give you something familiar that you can still eat. Focus on what you can eat and not what you can't eat. While many people think that you are eliminating so much, you are in fact adding in so much! There are so many new foods you will be exposed to and try that you may love. What Should a Beginner Vegan Eat? Other than focusing on finding vegan versions of your favorite meals, here are some ideas of simple meals you can make. The key is to keep it simple, eat things you love and making sure you are getting all your nutrients. Here are some ideas: Pasta: Use your favorite sauce or find plant-based alternatives to meat and dairy to make your favorite recipe.Smoothies: A great breakfast or snack and very easy to customize and add your favorite flavors.Soups: There are many options that are vegan, and you can even make your favorite non vegan soups using veggie broth instead of chicken or beef broth and adding veggies or meat alternatives.Find vegan versions of any staples you love like eggs, meat, cheese, ice cream, etc. Tips for Success The key to making a vegan diet part of your lifestyle is finding tips that work for long term success. Here are some ideas: Just because you try one hting you don't like don't give up because there are so many options and other ways to make something you love. This applies to store bought things like cheese or recipes you try to make.Be open minded to try and try again. All things take trial and error, you need to give yourself grace! Start small, it doesn't have to happen over night. Change takes time and there is nothing wrong with that.It's not a one size fits all support. We are all different humans so we can't expect a change like eating a vegan diet ...


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Are Organic Foods Healthier?

The controversy between organic foods being healthier than conventional is ongoing. But what are the facts? Are organic foods healthier for you? I get this question often. I am unpacking all the details, and sharing my personal opinion about what organic means and making the choice to buy organic. Organic labels can often be used to spike prices and this is where food inequality comes into play. So does that make health overall an unreachable goal as well? This seems to be a common misconception. What Does Organic Mean? Some trains of thought out there say that organic food is no different than conventional food. That it's basically a farce and a sales tactic. While it can be used to hike prices, there actually is a difference with organically grown food. You can learn more about the details of organic farming in my post all about organic farming, but here are a few key points: If a farm grows conventional produce, it takes 3 years before it can sell it's produce as organic.Organic farmers focus more on the roots of the plants versus the end product, therefore they need to be more proactive and always stay steps ahead in order to catch an issue before it affects growth.The longer a farm is organic, the richer the soil is because organic farming has a mutually beneficial relationship with the earth as it gives to the soil as the soil gives back to the plants.Organic farmers have an approved list of substances they can use to treat issues that come up, however before they are allowed to use them they must show they tried physical, biological and mechanical solutions first.It takes a lot of time, effort and money to become certified organic so not all farms can make that happen. Why Is Organic Food So Much More Expensive? There is definitely a price difference between buying organic food and buying conventional. The main reason is that it costs the farms more money to grow organic food. While some brands may take advantage of this and hike prices even higher, most simply want to make a living! Do We Need Organic to Be Healthy? Overall, you get the same nutrients from conventional produce than organic produce. So on the nutrient level, there is no difference. However you do get less exposure to pesticides with organic produce. The question remains, does that exposure matter? Does it affect your health and cause issues long term? There isn't a hard and fast answer to this. Studies are not conclusive, even those that show a connection to pesticide exposure and health issues cannot be fully validated because people that tend to buy organic also tend to have healthier overall life styles and access to more health support. While a person can have allergies to certain chemicals found on conventional produce, this doesn't apply to everyone. The main overall advice is you should first focus on eating fruits and vegetables. The nutrients you gain far outweigh any risks of conventional produce. Then, if it's affordable and you want to eat organic, do so. Washing your produce and removing the outer leaves can even remove most of the pesticides used. Some also focus on only buying produce that is known to have higher levels of pesticides organic (such as celery, apples, grapes, tomatoes, strawberries and spinach) and don't worry about the rest. Benefits of Eating Organic There are benefits to eating organic when it is affordable and accessible. These benefits are not only focused on you but also the environment and community: Organic practices give back to the earth so it helps keep the soil rich and better for the animals living around the soil.Organic farms need to try many methods before they are allowed to use chemicals from an approved list so there are less pesticides in the food.Not always, but some organic produce is fresher due to lack of preservatives and since some come from small farms closer to where the produce is sold.


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Is BMI Accurate?

Many health professionals use BMI to judge health and wellness, but is BMI accurate? Learn what we should actually use and what we need to know to make sure we are at optimal health! Overall wellness is guided by many things, and while weight can be important it isn't necessarily indicative of where we are in our health. As a country we are weight obsessed, this can lead us to having issues with our mental wellness. Which in turn can affect our overall health. Alissa Rumsey, MS, RD, CDN, CSCS is a registered dietitian, nutrition therapist, certified intuitive eating counselor, and the author of Unapologetic Eating: Make Peace With Food and Transform Your Life. Alissa is passionate about advocating for people to reclaim the space to eat and live unapologetically. She is the founder of Alissa Rumsey Nutrition and Wellness, a weight-inclusive nutrition practice that offers virtual counseling and online programs to help people liberate themselves from dieting, cultivate a peaceful relationship to food and their bodies, and live a more authentic, connected life. Her expertise has been featured in hundreds of media outlets and she speaks regularly at events, online trainings, and conferences around the country. She calls New York City home and spends her free time exploring the city’s food scene and searching for patches of green space to sunbathe in. Grab her FREE 5 step guide here! What is BMI? BMI stands for Body Mass Index and is a ratio between a persons weight and height. It is used to categorized people into groups of underweight, normal weight, overweight, obese and morbidly obese So many health professionals use this to evaluate and diagnose health. How is BMI calculated? The BMI equation takes a person's weight in kilograms and divides it by the person's height in meters squared. History of BMI A man named Adolphe Quetelet developed what was called the Quetelet index in the early 1800's. He was not a medical practitioner, but in fact was a mathematician, astronomer, statistician, sociologist and a eugenicist and had no interest in health. Adolphe developed this equation to study population models. The data that he used to develop the equation and the categories were taken from white European groups that were mostly male. Which shows how skewed it is. Meanwhile life insurance companies in the US needed metrics to determine their rates and began using these height and weight tables. Which again were developed using mainly white wealthy men. Their tables showed higher rate of death for overweight people, and even though later on studies showed the opposite, that they had a lower risk, they never changed it. Then a researcher in the 1970's was trying to find a different way to evaluate body mass, and he proposed using the Quetelet index which eventually became the body mass index and started being used by health professionals and researchers. Accuracy of BMI BMI is not a good indication of whether you are healthy or not healthy. It is simply a plugin of numbers. It's easy to change categories within the span of your life by small gains or losses in weight due to differences in the stage of life or season of life you are in. It is also found that when weight related feedback is given to people, they are less likely to make long term health changes. A study done a few years ago (of about 40,000 people) found that almost 50% of people categorized in the overweight category and 30% in the obese category were all metabolically healthy. This means that all their numbers like blood pressure, cholesterol, triglycerides, glucose, etc was normal. Also about 30% of people in normal category were found to be metabolically unhealthy. Another issue is that the differences between the BMI categories are largely arbitrary. If you zoom out and look at the bigger picture you can see that a jump in category may not be that big of a jump in the weight...


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What is Overeating?

When it comes to enjoying food it's important to know what overeating is versus feeling full from enjoyment. Our expert today clears it all up so we can learn to enjoy food when we want! It's so important to know the difference in order to live a lifestyle with both our mental and physical wellness in mind. I love food and I love eating! It's not bad to feel overly full from time to time when we are enjoying the food we eat. We need to learn to trust our body to do what it needs to do instead of punish ourselves. Healthy Emmie is a plant-based nutritionist and founder of the Slim on Starch Program. She has helped thousands of people make massive changes to their lives and build a positive mindset around food and health for long-term weight loss. You can learn more at Get her FREE one day meal plan here! Difference Between Overeating and Being Full Being hungry or full are not mutually exclusive. The hungry and full feelings are more of a spectrum that individual feelings. On one end you have the you are so hungry you may faint feeling and on the other end you have you are bursting full. So you can be anywhere along that spectrum throughout the day. Overeating means that you are ignoring the signals of your body that it's had too much and you keep eating anyway. You can feel full after overeating and be extremely uncomfortable, but you can also feel amply full and not in pain. Emotions and Overeating There are many emotions related to food. We gather to eat with those we love through parties and celebrations and holidays. For some people, food also plays a role in comfort. The food we eat has calories and calories give us dopamine. The more calories a food has, the more dopamine we get. This is why cookies taste better than carrots because they have more calories. Dopamine is the motivation chemical, it's a survival mechanism. So whenever we do something that promotes our survival we release dopamine. Things like eating, sleeping, sex...these are all linked to our survival. When we are trying to get that good feeling, it's often we turn to food, and mostly food with those high calorie levels since those have more dopamine. And the more dopamine we get, the more we self soothe. We are all different when it comes to our emotions and food and it's important to look at the big picture to see why someone may be turning to food and why overeating is occurring. How Many Calories Are Considered Overeating? There isn't one set amount of calories that we use for qualifying overeating. It really all depends on each person, their own body (not just body size but how it functions) and how much they are taking in and using. So focusing on calorie numbers isn't the best approach. If we focus less on numbers and more on feeling, we can better address the issue. Another factor is exactly what someone is eating. This is because certain foods will help satiate you better than others. Foods with fiber, fat and protein can help you feel full longer so someone eating these may feel more full than someone eating foods without them. Signs You Are Overeating First and foremost, always listen to your body. The main reason behind overeating is a disagreement between what your mind is telling you and what your body is telling you. The signs are both physical and mental. Here are some things you may be experiencing: Sharp painOverall discomfortRemorse and desire to undo what has just been doneRestricting the next dayBeing caught in a cycle between overeating and extreme restriction How to Stop Overeating Many people think the issue is the binging, when in fact it's actually the restriction that is the main issue. So if we focus less on the overeating part and more on avoiding restriction, it can help stop the cycle better. Here are some things you can do to stop overeating: Follow a drip system eating where you eat every 2-3 hours.


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How to Lower Cholesterol with Diet

Learn how to lower cholesterol with diet changes as our expert guest takes us through all we need to know to live a healthier and happier life! Overall wellness depends on so many things, but preventing and dealing with chronic disease is an important one. Veggies Don't Bite started due to wanting to help improve my husbands heart health and high cholesterol played a role. As we moved to a more plant rich diet we saw dramatic improvements! Ashley Reaver, MS, RD, CSSD is a registered dietitian with a Master's degree in Nutritional Sciences from Tufts University and an undergraduate degree in Nutrition and Dietetics from Cornell University. Utilizing her years of work experience in clinical nutrition, outpatient counseling, personalized blood analytics, and education, she developed a program to help individuals lower their cholesterol naturally. In addition to the course, Ashley sees clients in her private practice in Oakland, CA and teaches nutrition and dietetics courses at University of California, Berkeley. Find her on Instagram @lower.cholesterol.nutrition. Sign up for her FREE class on how to lower cholesterol! What is Cholesterol? Cholesterol is an important compound that our body creates, it is a type of fat that is in the body. All animals create cholesterol. It is in every single cell in our body. It is part of the membrane, which is the outer layer. We use it to make sex hormones, it goes into our stress hormones, use it to make vitamin D, and use it as a digestive compound to help us break down fats. 95 million adults have what is considered high cholesterol. However, total cholesterol isn't the thing we need to focus on but instead we need to look at the parts that make up high cholesterol. What is considered high cholesterol? Cholesterol numbers are combo of High Density Lipoprotein or HDL (known as good cholesterol), Low Density Lipoprotein or LDL (known as bad cholesterol) and triglycerides. Total levels are considered high if they are above 200, but again the combo of the three parts are more important. LDL is considered high if it is above 130, but is best less than 100. If you have too much LDL for too long it can become dangerous and can cause the build up of plaque in our arteries which can lead to heart attacks and strokes. For HDL, ideally you want it above 50 for men and above 60 for women. If you have more LDL you want more HDL to pick it up and bring it to the liver and repurpose it as something that won't cause damage to your body. HDL can act as an antioxidant preventing LDL from becoming dangerous. With triglycerides you also want lower levels. It is the primary form of fat in our body, and also 95% of fats that we eat. Our body stores excess energy in the form triglycerides, so that we have extra to use. That is why you can see them circling around in our blood in a blood test. The reason the total cholesterol numbers can be deceiving is that you can hav high LDL and low HDL but the total numbers can still be below that 200 threshold but overall still not good. On the other hand you can also have high HDL and low LDL but still be over that 200 mark and be considered high when in reality you are still good. Also, depending on what is high or low will depend on what you want to do to help as far as nutrition changes and other support. Why Does Diet Matter? Cholesterol is made by our body from anything that provides us calories. If you are eating excess calories that you don't utilize, that surplus can lead to a higher production of cholesterol. However if you are not eating an excess amount of calories, then restricting calories to lose body weight will not have an impact on cholesterol. Unfortunately many doctors tell people to lose weight as a strategy but that may or may not be the issue. Nutrients we take in when we are eating protein, fat and carbohydrates can impact how long that cholesterol stays in the body.


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Why is a Healthy Balanced Diet Best?

Diet culture and the social media world is in a constant battle of what "diet" is best, fastest, the answer to all your problems. But in reality, it's an overall healthy balanced diet that wins. When we set out to better our health, it's easy to fall victim to the diet world and the stringent rules that these diets place upon us. However time and time again, studies show that diets don't work. Why Do Diets Fail? The focus with eating should be on an overall lifestyle and habits. It's not about one meal, or even one season. Life changes, it brings ups and downs, crazy non stop and more calm days. In order to get through, we need to let go a little and realize it's about what we do as a whole, not about one specific moment. Putting rules on your eating, especially those that make you cut out things you love, will only cause you to crave them more and can end up in binging. This is why we don't put rules on what we eat, and don't like to label ourselves. While we do focus on a plant rich diet, we also allow things we crave and love. Hence, balance. A big reason that diets fail is that they don't focus on creating life long habits. The focus on results within a certain set of restrictions, but if those restrictions aren't how you want to live your life forever, then eventually you go back to what you enjoy. What is a Healthy Balanced Diet This term can mean something different to everyone. Which is another reason why we need to step away from stringent rules. To us, this means that our foods consist of plant rich options, including all the macronutrients (fat, carbs and protein) but also allows for things we love that may or may not be nutrient rich. I really like to listen to my body when it comes to food. If I focus on being present and purposeful, I am able to eat what it is I crave, which leaves me feeling satisfied. One Size Fits All Doesn't Works What one person may need is not necessarily what another person needs. Sure, we all can benefit from plant rich diets. However there is space for other foods. My husband for instance cannot do any, or very little, animal based products in order to feel his best. His heart is affected quickly and his body just doesn't process them well. I on the other hand cannot do any gluten. My body hates it and I immediately feel the inflammation all over. So when we go out, I focus on avoiding one thing and he focuses on avoiding the other. Balance is Key So the main thing we decided to focus on was balance. Avoid what you know affects you negatively and then let go of the rest. This also plays a huge role in our mental health. While some people may not have the mental health piece, we do. So avoiding rules and labels allows us to be at our best both physically and mentally. This is the key to wellness. When your mental health is in balance you are able to reduce stress and approach any stress that comes your way without wreaking havoc in your body. People tend to forget this part of wellness when focusing in diets and placing rules on themselves. While following a diet may help you achieve things like weight loss goals, the mental health toll and rise of stress will eventually counteract all that. Follow Advice From Qualified Professionals My number one piece of advice I can give, is follow the advice of those that are qualified to give it. There are so many people online that try to sell things, advise others and get you to believe what they preach is the answer. I am not a medical doctor, I am not a dietician. I am an educator with a Master degree in education, and an undergraduate bachelors degree in psychology and biology. I am qualified to teach you how to create amazing gluten-free and plant-based recipes. I can teach you how to make it simple and create meal systems that work. However I cannot tell you what food does or doesn't work for your specific body.


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The Diet World and Food Racism

Many people don't think about food racism, but the diet world can be a big contributor to making what we buy and how we eat a classist issue. As we scour the online world for recipes under whatever diet we follow, it's easy to assume that everyone has access to the ingredients so often found. But what happens to people that struggle to obtain those foods? Maya Feller, MS, RD, CDN of Brooklyn-based Maya Feller Nutrition is a registered dietitian nutritionist, nationally recognized nutrition expert and adjunct professor at New York University. In her practice, she provides medical nutrition therapy for the management of and risk reduction of non-communicable diseases. Maya received her Masters of Science in clinical nutrition at New York University, where she is adjunct faculty. Whether addressing the nation or working one on one and with groups, Maya believes in providing nutrition education from an antibias patient-centered, culturally sensitive approach. Maya is dedicated to promoting nutrition education that helps the public to make informed food choices that support health and longevity. Maya shares her approachable, real food-based solutions to millions of people through regular speaking engagements, writing in local and national publications, via her social media account on Instagram, @mayafellerRD, and as a national nutrition expert on Good Morning America, GMA3: What You Need to Know and more. She is the author of The Southern Comfort Food Diabetes Cookbook: Over 100 Recipes for a Healthy Life. Inequality in The Wellness Space As a whole, the wellness space struggles when it comes to being a welcome and accessible space to all people. Because of the "look" portrayed, many don't feel represented and therefore they don't believe it is a space they belong in. But we need to radicalize this space so that it feels more inclusive. This isn't easy as the issues run deep. A few things we can do to help make change are: Share others in the wellness space that come from all cultures.Share accounts with people who range in size, ability and ethnicity.Recognize your implicit bias and when working with clients don't make assumptions about their diet based on their culture or size. Allow clients to be a part of the process from the beginning.Recognize that foods aren't bad and good, and all foods can have a place in someones diet if planned correctly.Open space to talk about things that may make you uncomfortable. This issue is seen across diets, whether it's veganism or medical centered diet's like the Mediterranean and DASH diet. The research shows great gains when following these diets so at the core they are great, however they don't translate to race and ethnicity for people that don't eat in those ways. The bottom line is that there is not just one path to health. There are many ways to reach health goals that can honor the person as a whole. It is possible to support a diagnosed condition with a diet that includes cultural foods. Food Accessibility When it comes to wellness, there is an underlying assumption that it needs to be expensive and fit a certain theme. But not only is this not true, it also doesn't recognize that not everyone has access to the same foods. Depending on where someone lives, whether they have a car, what hours they work and many more other factors, being able to shop for, afford and even find things like fresh produce, specialty ingredients, grains, etc may not happen. But there are ways to help clients and readers with food accessibility and make wellness more accessible: Help share ways to look at food costs and determine where people can get the best deals.Encourage eating a combination of fresh foods and prepared foods, including those that are pre cut, canned or frozen to balance time and cost.Help make diet plans that will be sustainable long term. Keeping social determinants of health in mind when sharing wellness ideas and pract...


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How to Deal With Trauma

It is hard to know how to deal with trauma when you're in the thick of it. Learning strategies you can easily put in place is key! When we are struggling, it's hard to have the energy to come up with ideas on how to make it through. Which is why having these tools in our back pocket is so important. Suzanne Falter is a podcaster and the author of multiple self-help titles including The Extremely Busy Woman’s Guide to Self-Care. She also hosts the ever popular Self-Care for Extremely Busy Women podcast and an active Facebook group. Grab her How's Your Self-Care worksheet here! What is Trauma? According to the American Psychological Association, Trauma is an emotional response to a terrible event like an accident, rape or natural disaster. Trauma can have many forms and range in severity. Nothing prepares you for traumatic events. It is really important to seek help to navigate life after a traumatic event. The Stages of Trauma After a traumatic event, we go through a similar set of stages as we process what happened. Here is a general idea of these stages: Denial- you question the event and often can't believe it is happening.Anger- feelings of anger, getting upset and asking why this happened.Bargaining- making compromises and promises to do something if XYZ would just stop or go away.Depression- a feeling of doom, loneliness and sadness having to adjust to the truth of what happened.Acceptance- accepting the truth of what happened and starting the process to heal. Best Ways to Navigate Trauma With traumatic events comes a lot of emotional and some even physical feelings. Being able to move forward as these pass through you is hard but there are things you can do to help. Here are some ideas: Read to learn more about the trauma or strategies to help.Be open and willing to make it into a transformational experience.Telling the truth about it, instead of pretending it didn't happen.Meditation or self care practice.Exercise or any movement of the body.Eat nutritious whole foods.Surround yourself by supportive people, family, friends and support groups.Find a way to get your feelings out, like writing or painting, etc. Does Trauma Ever Go Away? A traumatic event isn't something that will go away, but it can be navigated so that life can move on and even transform into a better place. We must allow ourselves to feel each stage we pass through in order for healing to happen. Once we reach acceptance and let ourselves experience all the feelings we will be able to slowly move past them. While the pain maybe always be there in some respect, it can begin to fade. Always remember that this is not to be taken as medical advice and you should always see a licensed professional for your mental health needs.


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Starting Solids with Baby

Having a baby and knowing about starting solids can be scary, confusing and overwhelming. Our guest today walks us through it all! Caitlyn Edson is a pediatric registered dietitian specializing in infants, toddlers, and young children. She is sharing all the tips to help parents feel secure and confident to start feeding their baby! She has a passion for helping people feed their families confidently in a way that feels manageable. Caitlyn works with families of children starting solids (particularly baby led weaning), picky eaters, those with growth struggles, youth athletes, and more! Grab her free starting solids guide here! Age to Start Solids There are certain signs of readiness when it comes to starting solids. Here are the main ones: Sit unassisted: not necessarily long periods of time but at least a couple seconds or in high chair being able to sit upright.Loss of tongue thrust reflex: when you put something into their mouth you don't want them to push it out of their mouth.Show interest in food: things like them watching you closely when you eat, grabbing for your food, etc. Traditionally we used to start feeding at 4 months but current research shows these readiness skills happen closer to 6 months. But it really depends on the baby. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends closer to 6 months. How to Start Feeding Your Baby There are many correct ways to start feeding your baby, you need to do what works best and feels right for you and your family. While there are things you shouldn't do, like starting too young or feed foods that are not the right consistency for their stage, overall their really isn't a wrong way to get started. There are two main avenues with starting solids: Baby led weaning- the premise behind this feeding technique is infant self feeding, giving the baby real whole foods in a safe consistency. While some say you don't do purees at all with Baby Led Weaning, it isn't necessarily true. The idea is you want to get the infant to feed themselves. So you put the puree on the spoon and put it in their hand and they get it in their mouth.Puree feeding- starting with purees can mean making your own or buying premade foods. You can choose foods that are naturally soft like bananas, apple sauce, yogurt or you can create your own by cooking foods and blending them. Before you start any feeding, it's a good idea to take a cpr class and learn the difference between gagging and choking because gagging is normal. You never want to stick your finger in a gagging baby's mouth because it can cause choking. What Foods to Introduce First Overall, you can really start with any foods you prefer. However there are a few things to avoid or think about: Avoid allergens if you have a family history and your pediatrician recommends it. Avoid honey until they are 12 months old.Better to avoid added salt and sugar until they are older. Not only are their bodies not able to process it well, but the flavors are too strong for them.Things like meat can be hard for babies to eat due to the consistency so you may want to avoid it until they are older. We use to say to start with rice cereal but that isn't necessarily the case. You can start with anything now! Starting with softer foods is a good first step. Things like avocado and bananas, or cooked foods like apples, zucchini, sweet potatoes and squash. You want to cut the foods into long thin strips when first starting because they use their 4 fingers to pick up and it's easier for them. Once they hit 9-10 months old, they develop a pincer grasp where they are able to pick up smaller pieces. How Much to Feed Per Meal Babies are good at instinctively knowing how much to eat, but with new eaters you should start small. It can be overwhelming to have a plate loaded with food so putting a small amount on the plate will make it easier for them. A teaspoon or a tablespoon of a food or one piec...


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How to Throw a Vegan Dinner Party

Throwing a vegan dinner party can be challenging and stressful. Listen in as our guest expert gives the tips and tricks for party success! Everybody loves a good dinner party, but how do you make it work so you are not drained, stressed and ready to fall apart by the end of the night? We got your back with all you need to know! Diana Goldman is a Vegan Caterer, Sierra Club Cooking Show Host and Plant-based Nutrition Educator based in Boston. She received a B.S. from Cornell University in Nutrition Science and an Ed.M. from Harvard University. Her blog Beantown Kitchen was awarded one of the top 100 plant-based blogs by Feedspot. She loves sharing recipes on her YouTube Channel and Instagram. Sign up to receive a free Healthy Vegan Made Easy ebook on her website Beantown Kitchen. How to Get Started Sometimes the hardest part of taking something on is getting started. When it comes to having a dinner party, knowing all that you need to do in an easy step by step format can really help reduce the overwhelm. Here are the basics to get you going: Find a date.Decide who your guests will be, make sure to take note of kids versus adults.Find out if there are any allergies, dislikes etc with your guests.Decide location, where and also if you will be inside or outside.Plan a theme and menu. Accommodating All Dietary Needs There are so many recipes available for us to use for free, so we shouldn't be stopped when we need to accommodate allergies or other foods our guests need or prefer to avoid. All you need to do is search online and look in cookbooks you have. Google, Pinterest, Instagram and Facebook are all great for finding recipes for every diet. Sometimes the cuisine can guide us too. For example Indian and Thai cuisine use coconut for creaminess so can help if you have a guest that is nut free but can have coconut. While Italian cuisine tends to have a lot of cheese and vegan cheeses are often made from nuts, so it may not be best with nut allergies. Overall when you are used to making plant-based recipes, accommodating needs and preferences is second nature. What to Serve There are many avenues you can take that will help guide you when it comes to narrowing down what to make for your dinner party. Here are a few ideas: Start with a familiar main meal first and then pick sides that stem off of that main meal. Like if you do burgers, you can do fries, salad, potato salad, macaroni salad, coleslaw, etc.Pick a cuisine and focus your menu around that theme. If you do Italian, you can do lasagna, salad, risotto and tiramisu.Serve food buffet style so you can make a variety of things for people to serve themselves. Salads, and sides do great to get in variety with buffets.Have a build your own theme and allow people to make their own tacos, pizzas, bowls, etc. This is great when feeding people that have a lot of dietary differences so they can pick and choose what to have. The people coming to your dinner party, where you will eat and your dietary needs can all help guide which direction is best to take. How to Prep Prepping ahead can help keep the stress at a minimum. Once you have nailed down your menu, you should use that to find what ingredients you need. Then, check to see what you have at home and what you need to buy, and make a list for the grocery store. Figure out what you can make ahead. This is what you can do ahead of time: SaucesDessertsCasserolesDressing for a salad so it's done.Chop and prep the things you can't make ahead so they are ready day of.Cook things like grains, etc so they are ready to use. You can also set the table ahead of time to have it ready to go. This way the day of you can focus on organizing your space, cleaning, setting up the space more, etc. Also, if you get things prepared with time left before your guests arrive, you can relax a little so you are rested when the party starts.


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How to Live With Diabetes

Learning how to live with diabetes can feel overwhelming and impossible. Our guest today shares how she not only lives but thrives! Lynne Bowman has been living with diabetes and enjoying life to the fullest. She loves to share her story to help others do the same! Lynne has been featured at women's expos throughout the country, speaking on kitchen table culture, community planning and the gift of diabetes. She teamed with actress Deidre Hall to write and publish Deidre Hall's Kitchen Closeup (2010) and Deidre Hall's How Does She Do It? (2012). In a previous life, she worked with Silicon Valley companies as a creative director, winning national awards. She was Creative Director at E&J Gallo Winery, Advertising Manager at RedKen Laboratories, and held various other positions with agencies and clients in San Jose, Los Angeles, and on the East Coast. She has also worked as an actress, makeup artist, screenwriter, illustrator, legal journalist and television Weather Person. She is the mother of three grown children, with one absolutely perfect grandchild, and one more on the way. Sign up for "Lynne's List" and receive the recipe for Mimi's Badass Brownies, plus The Seven Sugar Substitutes That Will Change Your Life. Can You Live a Full Life With Diabetes? Yes! Not only can you live a full life but you can thrive. While we now know that we can do things to prevent chronic disease, there are still instances where no matter what we do, we have to live with it. But this doesn't mean you are destined for an unfulfilled life! Learning how to manage your diabetes is possible, other than medicine, between what you put into your body, how often you exercise and how you manage your mental health there are so many things you can do. How to Manage Daily Life When it comes to day to day life, nourishing your body with lots of plants, whole foods and getting in movement along with any medicine you need, should be part of your routine. A whole food plant-based diet is so beneficial for chronic disease. Plants give us nourishment we need and help us avoid the saturated fat that animal products contain. While adding some animal products from time to time is still okay when you want to maintain some balance, making sure they are high quality is important. It's also important to take care of your mental health. Yoga, meditation and mindfulness can all help control stress. As can doing things like family dinners, movie nights and other ways to connect with those you love. When we keep ourselves in a mostly stress free state this helps our health overall. The mind and body are very connected! Sleep is another thing our body needs in order to stay at optimum health. Our diets, exercise and mental well being can be so influenced by how rested we are! It's also very important to check in regularly with your doctor and see your doctor should you feel something is wrong. Things to consider/watch out for Learning how to live life with diabetes comes with complications and extra things you need to think about. Here are a few things you want to keep in mind: Read food labels to check for ingredients you can't haveListen to your body and detect any changes earlyThink about your meals ahead of timeLearn strategies that work for youWatching the glycemic index of food you eatYou should always listen to your medical professional Can Diabetes Go Away? Everyone is different, so there isn't a one size fits all approach. In general, diabetes cannot be reversed or go away. However, when it comes to type 2 diabetes people can go into remission and symptoms can get better with lifestyle changes if caught early enough. Some things people have done when it comes to relieving symptoms are: Changing their diet to be mostly whole food plant-basedAdd more fiber to your dietIncreasing amount of exerciseLosing weight if needed Tips For Managing Daily Life


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How to Reduce Inflammation in the Body

Knowing how to reduce inflammation in the body is important for our health. There are many things we can do to help us along the way! Inflammation can wreak havoc on your body, and the culprits are many. Join us as we chat with expert Dani Williamson to dive deep on how to deal with it all! Dani Williamson MSN, FNP owns Integrative Family Medicine in Franklin, TN; focusing on gut, autoimmune thyroid (Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis is her passion), hormone and adrenal health with her patients. Her approach embodies a physical, emotional, mental and spiritual process to healing. Dani is a graduate of Vanderbilt University School of Nursing Nurse Midwifery and Family Nurse Practitioner program. She is on the board of Middle Tennessee chapter of the American Foundation of Suicide Prevention and believes strongly in addressing issues of adverse childhood trauma and its relation to overall long-term health conditions. You can check out her course, Inflammation is the Devil, for more info and special discount for readers. Her first book Wild & Well Dani’s Six Commonsense Steps to Radical Healing is being released November 9, 2021 by Morgan James Publishing. What is Inflammation? Inflammation is a cellular response in your body to some sort of injury. Cytokines are the proteins in your blood that create the inflammatory response. When you have cellular injury you get capillary dilation, increase in white blood cells, redness and warmth/heat. You have acute inflammation, which you need to protect you and heal you (like if you cut your hand). But there is also chronic inflammation, which is long lasting inflammation and this is the issue. Things that end in "-itis" basically are types of inflammation. For example like sinusitis (inflammation of the sinuses), gastritis (inflammation of the gut) and colitis (inflammation of the colon). Inflammation can coincide with other conditions like diabetes, hypothyroidism, heart disease, etc Dani believes that inflammation is your bodies response to a poor diet, lack of exercise, inadequate sleep chronic bowel issues and lack of community connection. A few other things that can cause inflammation are mold, breast implant illness and viruses. Classic Signs of Inflammation Many things can be signs of inflammation. We need to look at the why and the root cause of things versus just treating the symptom because sometimes you don't even have symptoms until you develop a disease. Here are some things to look out for that may be signs of inflammation: AcneHeadachesExzcemaJoint pain, back pain, etc that are not injury relatedFatigueMigrainesSeasonal allergiesDepressionAnxietyBleeding gumsSkin conditions like acne and excema Ways to Reduce Inflammation While our western medicine seems to treat the symptoms of inflammation versus looking for the root cause, there are things you can do to keep your body less likely to have inflammation. First, increase fresh whole foods consumption. The more fresh food we eat, like veggies and fruit, the more nutrients we will get to keep us healthy. A mostly plant-based diet is a great way to eat. There are also foods we want to avoid. The top inflammatory foods are: GlutenDairySugarEggsPeanutsSoyCorn This isn't to say that everyone should not eat these at all, but if you are having issues start eliminating these foods to see what may be bothering you. There is a big connected with our gut health, inflammation and our mental health so making sure to pay attention to what you are eating is so important. Other things you can do to help fight inflammation is move your body regularly, get enough sleep and practice gratitude! More and more research is showing how much this is all connected. Natural Anti-Inflammatory Agents There are also other things you can take to help fight inflammation. While medication can be necessary in some cases, there are natural ways to help support your bo...