Vitamin D! The Master Key to the Strength of Your Immune System

When we think of “vitamins,” we know they’re super-important for health. 

But vitamin D is special. Vitamin D is the number one vitamin essential for a strong immune system!

Never has there been a more important time than NOW to ensure our immune system is fighting fit! And the biggest Public Health message we are NOT hearing is to make sure you are getting enough of this immune-supporting Vitamin!

It’s difficult to get enough vitamin D; vitamin D is, therefore, a very common deficiency; especially for those of us who live in the northern hemisphere from October through May!

So, let’s talk about how much of this critical fat-soluble vitamin we need, and how you can get enough. The three ways to vitamin D are exposure to the sun, consuming vitamin D containing food, and through supplements.

Why is vitamin D important, and how much do we need?

Most of us already know that Vitamin D helps us absorb calcium from our food and acts like a hormone to help us build strong bones. But the biggest reason you should be focusing on your Vitamin D levels is to help support your immune function, cellular growth, and help to prevent mood imbalances such as depression and seasonal affective disorder.

In the winter of 2020/2021, levels of depression and anxiety have sky-rocked as a result of having to isolate and reduce social contact due to the pandemic. Even without a pandemic, the lack of sunlight poses a significant risk to our Vitamin D levels during the winter months so it’s not surprising that most people have found this winter to be the hardest yet, both physically and mentally.

In addition to making you more susceptible to viral infections such as the Coronavirus, inadequate vitamin D can also increase your risk of heart disease, autoimmune diseases, certain cancers, and even death. The “official” minimum amount of vitamin D to strive for each day is merely 400-600 IU. Many experts think that this is not nearly enough for optimal health. I personally take 2,000-3,000 IU’s every day as a supplement during the winter months however I know I suffer from Vitamin D deficiency every winter and have been advised to do this by my Naturopathic Doctor. But in the summer, I’m outside every chance I get getting natural Vitamin D from the sun!

To ensure you get adequate amounts of vitamin D, you can implement any combination of the three vitamin D sources mentioned above on a weekly basis.

How can I get enough vitamin D from the sun?

Your skin makes vitamin D when it’s exposed to the sun; that’s why it’s referred to as the “sunshine vitamin.” How much vitamin D your skin makes depends on many things; location, season, clouds, clothing, the amount of sunscreen you put on, all affect the amount of vitamin D your skin can produce from the sun.

One standard recommendation is to get about 5–30 minutes of sun exposure between 10:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. to the face, arms, legs, or back. This should be done without sunscreen, at least twice a week. Of course, we should always avoid sunburns and in some locations (and seasons of the year) it’s not easy to get sun exposure.  So, how can we get enough vitamin D in other ways?


How can I get enough vitamin D from food?

Vitamin D is naturally found in fatty fish such as sardines, mackerel, herring and salmon, liver, and egg yolks. Some mushrooms also make vitamin D when they’re exposed to the sun.

Some foods are “fortified” with Vitamin D (which means vitamin D has been added). These include milk, some orange juices, breakfast cereals, and yogurt. It will say on the label how much vitamin D has been added per serving.

Because vitamin D is fat-soluble, you can increase absorption of it from your food if you eat it with some fat (healthy fat, of course)! Between lack of sun exposure and limited food options that people actually enjoy, it still may be difficult to get even the minimum of 1,000 IU of vitamin D each day. This is why vitamin D supplements are quite popular.

How can I get enough vitamin D from supplements?

It’s easy enough to just “pop a pill” or take some cod liver oil. Either of these can ensure that you get the minimum amount of vitamin D, plus a bit extra.

But before you take vitamin D containing supplements, make sure you check that it won’t interact with other supplements or medications you may be taking. Always read your labels, and ask a healthcare professional for advice. Do not take more than the suggested dosage on the label of any vitamin D supplement, except under medical care.

The maximum amount recommended (for the general population) is 4,000 IU/day. Too much vitamin D can raise your blood levels of calcium (to an unsafe level), and this can affect your heart and kidneys.

The best thing, if you’re concerned, is to ask your healthcare professional to do a blood test and make a recommendation about how much vitamin in supplement form is right for you. Your healthcare practitioner may recommend higher amounts of vitamin D supplementation for a short time while under their care.

The Problem with Obesity

It is worth noting that the obesity pandemic that only continues to get worse year on year is another reason why sufficient Vitamin D levels are such a growing concern.

Because Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin, this means Vitamin D will seek out fat in the body. The more overweight a person is, the higher chance that Vitamin D will be absorbed into fat cells and NOT absorbed into blood circulation. When Vitamin D levels are low in the blood, this results in a Vitamin D deficiency.

If you needed one more reason to focus on achieving a healthy weight loss, this should definitely be it!


Conclusion:

Vitamin D is an essential fat-soluble vitamin which many people have a hard time maintaining adequate levels of. There are three ways to get enough vitamin D: sun exposure, through certain foods, and in supplements.

I’ve given you some ideas how you can get the recommended minimum 1000 IU of vitamin D daily.

If you’re concerned, it’s best to request a blood test that tests your vitamin D levels to be sure what’s right for you. Always take supplements as directed.

I’m going to leave you now with a Vitamin-D rich, tasty dinner recipe….but first….

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Ok, now back to that recipe!….

Recipe (vitamin D): Super-Simple Grilled Salmon

Serves 4

4 wild salmon fillets

1 bunch asparagus

1/4 tsp sea salt

1/4 black pepper

1/4 tsp dried parsley

1/4 tsp. dried dill

4 tbsp olive oil

Preheat the oven broiler and raise the oven rack. Place parchment paper on a baking sheet and place fish on top, skin-side down. Surround with a single layer of asparagus.

Sprinkle the fish and asparagus with sea salt, pepper, parsley, and dill. Drizzle with olive oil.

Broil for 8-10 minutes until fish flakes easily with a fork.

Serve & enjoy!

Tip: Serve with a side of rice or quinoa.

References:

http://thewellnessbusinesshub.com/yes-nutrient-deficiencies-heres-proof-can/

http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/fn-an/nutrition/reference/table/ref_vitam_tbl-eng.php

https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminD-HealthProfessional/

http://www.precisionnutrition.com/all-about-vitamin-d

https://authoritynutrition.com/vitamin-d-101/

http://neurotrition.ca/blog/brain-food-essentials-sardines

You Are What You Absorb! Not Just What You Eat!

It was like playing detective! I loved investigating their symptoms and digging deep into their dietary habits to figure out why they were experiencing their symptoms.

In my experience, it is usually because of one of the following primary reasons:

1. Toxicity within the body (too much of a bad thing)

2. Nutrient deficiencies (not enough of a good thing)

In the majority of cases, both of these imbalances are the result of a poor diet, toxic lifestyle and/or chronic stress over a significantly long period of time.

You are what you eat right?

But how do you explain consistent toxicity and/or nutrient deficiencies if you have recently transitioned from a poor diet to eating more clean, nutritious foods?

The answer usually lies in the state of your gut health BEFORE you decided to transition to eating cleaner and living healthier.

In this scenario, it is more a case of “you are what you absorb!”

If your gut health is struggling because of an overgrowth of bad bacteria and your intestinal lining is inflamed and porous, two things are likely happening:

1. You are likely struggling to absorb all of those healthy nutrients from the clean, nutritious foods you are eating; and,

2. You are likely absorbing more toxins into the bloodstream such as undigested food particles, bad bacteria, yeast and other foreign invaders.

When these two situations are allowed to happen, inflammation becomes rampant, food sensitivities start to appear and autoimmune conditions develop.

Plus, the liver becomes stressed with the overwhelming task of detoxification leaving you feeling exhausted, with out-of-control blood levels. Blood-sugar levels, cholesterol levels and hormone levels all become unbalanced and we then open ourselves up to even bigger health issues.

What About the Health of the Small Intestine?

You’ve probably already tried a probiotic supplement or eating more probiotic foods to try and improve the health of your large intestine (your colon/bowels) so you can get rid of excessive gas and constipation or diarrhea right? Because we know that this is where most of bad bacteria resides.

But, what about the health of the small intestine that is located just before it in the digestive tract? An area that typically has a low bacteria count in comparison to the large intestine? The truth is, this is where the serious business of nutrient absorption happens before the waste products are sent through to the large intestine or bowel to be expelled. So you can probably imagine, it’s not a good thing if the good bacteria levels in this critical stretch of digestive highway fall out of balance. When this happens it is often referred to as “SIBO” which stands for Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth. Microorganisms that are allowed to grow out of control in the small intestine end up damaging the cells lining the intestinal wall. This then results in a condition known as leaky gut or intestinal permeability which you’ve probably heard me talk about before. This, in turn, impairs the digestive process and leads to the two scenarios I first presented you with earlier in this blog post. The most common symptoms of SIBO are:

  • Malabsorption issues and malnutrition
  • Weight loss (or gain)
  • Nausea and/or vomiting
  • Abdominal bloating or distention
  • Abdominal pain or discomfort
  • Acid reflux or heartburn (GERD)
  • Excessive gas or belching
  • Constipation and/or diarrhea
  • Fatigue
  • Skin issues like rashes, acne, eczema and rosacea
  • Aches & pains, especially joint pain

As mentioned, one of the biggest concerns with SIBO is that essential nutrients, protein, carbohydrates and fats aren’t being properly absorbed, causing deficiencies of iron, vitamin B12, calcium and in the fat-soluble vitamins: A, D, E and K.

Who is at risk of SIBO?

​Celiac disease is associated with an increased risk for developing SIBO, and can be of particular concern, as it disturbs gut motility leading to poor functioning of the small intestine. Another common condition associated with SIBO is Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). In fact, studies have found that SIBO occurs simultaneously in more than half of all cases of IBS. It has even been reported that successful elimination of bacterial overgrowth in the small intestine resolves symptoms of IBS too. The use of certain medications, including immunosuppressant medications, and proton pump inhibitors (acid reflux medications) as well as heavy metal toxicity, low stomach acid, inflammatory diets, and as I mentioned above, stress – are all thought to be contributors as well.

How can you tell if you have SIBO?

Medical practitioners can test for SIBO by asking patients to drink a sugar-containing drink and then measuring the gases they exhale. If there is too much bad bacteria, excess gases such as hydrogen and/or methane will be produced. It should be noted that the reliability of this test is considered less than ideal, but it’s one of the only methods available at this time. So if you think you have SIBO what can you do about it?

Most holistic health practitioners suggest following a strict dietary protocol that focuses on low-FODMAP, anti-inflammatory, prebiotic foods for at least 4 weeks alongside implementation of certain lifestyle changes. This may include:

  • Herbal “antibiotics”, (oregano oil, tea-tree oil, etc.)
  • Stress management (relaxation techniques, deep breathing, yoga, meditation, etc.)
  • Repopulating the good bacteria using probiotic supplements

In more severe or persistent cases, a prescription antibiotic may be needed to get the overgrowth under control. But then probiotics should definitely be reintroduced after the course of antibiotics is complete to help repopulate the good bacteria that was wiped out along with the bad bacteria. If you want to learn more about how you can re-balance your gut health using a proven, 3 phase, 6 step methodology called The ERASER Method, click HERE and schedule your free strategy session and find 0ut more.

Fancy a tasty recipe to make your very own bone broth? Bone broth is absolutely LOADED with minerals and collagen to help heal the gut lining and reduce inflammation. I always make up a batch most weekends after we have finished our typical English roast Sunday dinner using my chicken carcass as the base. Here is another one using beef marrow bones…..you can add bone broth to soups, stews or even drink it on it’s own! SIBO-Friendly Slow Cooker Bone Broth

Ingredients:

* Note: no onions, leeks or garlic as these are considered High-FODMAP 🙂

  • 2 lbs beef marrow bones, thawed, organic if possible
  • 3 large carrots, unpeeled
  • 1/2 medium celery root
  • combination of fresh “antibacterial” herbs: few sprigs of each – rosemary, oregano & thyme
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 Tb apple cider vinegar, unpasteurized
  • ¼ – ½ tsp himalayan pink or sea salt
  • Water (dilute to preference)

How to prepare:

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F
  2. Wash and chop veggies into large pieces – large enough that they won’t turn to mush.
  3. Place your bones onto a baking sheet and place into the oven. Cook for 30 minutes.
  4. Tie your herb sprigs into a bundle with cooking-safe string.
  5. Once your bones have roasted, pull them out of the oven and put them directly into a slow cooker. Add the veggies and the herb bundle into the cooker with the bones.
  6. Fill a 6-quart slow cooker with fresh water up to about ¾ inch under the rim. Add the bay leaves, ACV and salt.
  7. Cook in your pot on low; you should have a gentle, rolling boil after an hour or so.
  8. Remove the herbs after about 4 hours, otherwise your broth may look strange from the colors seeping out!
  9. Remove the veggies once they’re very soft, but not yet mushy.
  10. Let the bones cook for a total of 12-48 hours. Strain the broth, let cool a bit, and store in glass jars for up to ONE WEEK in your fridge. You can also freeze the broth if you don’t use it right away.

The appearance of a gel-like substance (natural gelatin) is normal and desired – enjoy the gut-friendly goodness!

Is Your Gut Leaking?

Ever wondered why all of a sudden your body doesn’t seem to tolerate your favourite foods well? How unfair is it that some of your favourite foods can make you feel so terrible? Why is that? Well if your gut is leaking, this might be why your favourite foods are starting to irritate you more than satisfy you! Leaky gut is also known as increased intestinal permeability. It’s when the cells lining our intestines (our gut) separate leaving large holes. These cells are supposed to be tightly connected to make sure only appropriate nutrients can get into the bloodstream and to keep other not so friendly things out.

When the intestinal cells weaken ad begin to separate, this allows the gut lining to “leak” allowing damaged proteins, undigested food particles, toxins, bacteria and other waste products into the bloodstream where they don’t belong. When substances that shouldn’t be there get into our bloodstream through the leaks in our gut, our immune system goes into overdrive. This is because these particles that leaked out look very similar to other foreign invaders such as viruses and bacteria so our immune system is simply doing its job…..to attack with an inflammatory response which is our body’s primary healing mechanism. This inflammatory response is what causes painful stomach flare ups and other symptoms associated with a food allergy or a food intolerance/sensitivity.

Leaky gut has been linked with a number of health issues including food allergies, celiac disease, autoimmune diseases (e.g., Inflammatory Bowel Disease, Hashimoto’s, asthma, type 1 diabetes, acne, eczema), joint pain, and neurological problems (e.g., multiple sclerosis). Some research shows that leaky gut might contribute to or worsen these conditions. While some of our gut permeability may have a genetic factor, there are lifestyle habits that contribute as well. Too much sugar or alcohol, and not enough fibre can make things worse. Even certain compounds in foods (e.g., gluten, lectins, casein, fructose) and food additives (e.g., MSG) can weaken tight junctions.

Now the good news is a leaky gut can be fixed! All we need to do is follow a 3-phase methodology I call the ERASER method:

Phase 1: Elimination & Rest

Phase 2: Add in and Soothe

Phase 3: Elimination (Secondary) and Reintroduce

(Spoiler Alert! This is the exact same methodology I teach in The Gut Recovery Programme!

Let’s take a closer look at this methodology:

Phase 1. Elimination & Rest:

There are certain foods that irritate the gut or can cause those loosened junctions to get even looser. These foods need to be eliminated from the diet for several weeks in order to allow the digestive organs to take a load off, rest and start to recover. Some of these irritants include:

  • Foods that you know you’re allergic to
  • Foods with added sugar
  • Foods containing MSG, soy and other artificial additives/preservatives
  • Foods with sugar alcohols and artificial sweeteners (e.g., sorbitol)
  • Gluten-containing grains (e.g., wheat, rye)
  • White, refined foods (white flour, white bread, white pasta, white rice)
  • Dairy (which contains casein & lactose)
  • Excessive alcohol
  • Yeast/fungus (ie; mushrooms)
  • Beef/pork
  • Eggs

It’s a good idea to reduce these foods and if leaky gut is a confirmed issue for you, avoid them until the leaky gut has been addressed.

Phase 2. Add back in and Soothe:

There are also a lot of foods that support gut health, including the intestinal cells themselves, and our friendly gut microbes. Many of these also reduce inflammation which helps to soothe and heal the intestinal lining as it recovers from month, potentially even years of constant irritation. These types of foods include:

  • Probiotic-rich fermented foods (e.g., sauerkraut, kimchi)
  • Prebiotic fibre-rich foods which help our gut microbes produce butyrate (e.g., leafy greens, vegetables, fruit, nuts, seeds)
  • Glutamine-rich foods (e.g., bone broth, chicken, fish)
  • Zinc-rich foods (e.g., shellfish, nuts, seeds, lentils, beans)
  • Quercetin-rich foods (e.g., lemons, limes, oranges, apples, onions)
  • Indole-rich foods (e.g., broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, mustard greens)

In addition, there are certain food supplements and herbs that can help to further heal and re-balance the gut which will help to improve digestion overall. These foods include:

  • Curcumin-rich Turmeric
  • Calendula
  • Fennel
  • Slippery Elm
  • Marshmallow Root
  • Ginger
  • DGL (deglycyrrhised licorice)
  • Aloe vera gel

Phase 3. Elimination (Secondary) and Reintroduction:

The final stage may not always be necessary for everyone but is certainly worth consideration. After several weeks of removing the most common irritants and allowing the gut to heal and re-balance, most people tend to feel a lot better. But for some, their uncomfortable, sometimes even painful symptoms may persist. This is when you need to dive deeper! It might be that your body is struggling to digest even some healthy foods that in most people don’t cause a problem. Foods like fruit, beans, legumes, multi-grains, fish, nuts, seeds, etc.

Remember no two bodies are the same and we all have different levels and variety of enzymes, bacteria and stomach acid. All of which are essential for optimum digestion and absorption. Significant imbalances in any of these elements could be the reason why you are still struggling with some foods….even the healthy ones! If this is the case, secondary elimination is your best approach. This is where you now take the time to eliminate and then re-introduce one food at a time from your diet to help you identify the trigger food. Using a journal to track what you are eating and how you feel is a key strategy that will help you a lot!

Now, unfortunately it’s not just what you eat that can affect your gut. Other lifestyle habits can have an impact too. Try:

  • Eating slower and chewing better to help break down food more efficiently
  • Eating when hungry, and stopping when satisfied
  • Going to the bathroom when you need to (don’t hold it for longer than necessary)
  • Getting more high-quality sleep
  • Better stress management

So in conclusion, to help keep our guts (and our bodies) in optimal condition, there are a lot of foods we should eat (and lots we should reduce). Sticking with nutrient-dense unprocessed foods is always a good plan, whether you have gut issues, other concerns, or feel completely healthy. And, don’t forget the importance of a healthy lifestyle like good eating habits, sleep, and stress management.

Take a look at this yummy, powerhouse side dish you will want to serve up for dinner this week!

Recipe: Turmeric Greens (Serves 4)

Ingredients:

2 bunches leafy greens (kale, chard, collards), washed and chopped

2 tbsp olive oil

Juice of 1 lemon

½ tsp turmeric

2 dashes salt and pepper Instructions:

  1. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat.
  2. Add the greens and a splash of water.
  3. Sauté until the greens start to wilt.
  4. Remove from heat and sprinkle with lemon juice, turmeric, salt and pepper.
  5. Serve & enjoy!

Are you limiting your own health success?

Back in 2009 when I was struggling with post-natal depression after the birth of my daughter, I quickly adopted a very negative view of the world. My glass was half empty, I had an excuse for everything and everything that was going wrong in my life was someone else’s fault. I was struggling to lose the baby weight, I had zero energy and I was slowly pulling away from my friends and family preferring to wallow in my own self-pity.

Now of course, feeling this way is part and parcel of suffering from depression. However I chose to use this as my excuse to not even TRY to make other positive changes to help get my health back on track. It took me another year along with counselling and anti-depressant medication to get my condition under control enough to start seeing things differently. And when I did, things started to change.

I had now entered the winning belief cycle!

But unfortunately, for some people, this negative way of thinking and self-sabotage is more deep-rooted and not necessary down to a mental illness such as depression. And it is this negativity that leads to self-limiting beliefs that are often not true but hold them back from every even TRYING to commit to making positive changes. A little self-criticism is a normal shared human mental pattern, and can even be healthy for the most part. But, we can also just as easily open the door to that overly vocal “Negative Nelly” voice in our head; especially if you feel you have tried and tried again only to end up not reaching your goals. However, if your negative voice is preventing you from doing what you want or need to do in your life, then it has to get booted back out the door. This kind of mental chatter has no right to set up shop in your mind.

Deeply held negative beliefs, especially when they’re firmly rooted in your unconscious, stress you out, damage relationships and can greatly limit your potential for health and happiness. If you’re sick of having the same old conversation with Negative Nelly, then be sure to try some of the ideas I’ve outlined in this article on how you can shift away from this damaging mindset, and finally release yourself of these limiting beliefs.

What are limiting beliefs?

Limiting beliefs are the little, but persistent voices that convince you that you can’t be or do or have something due to a perceived inadequacy in some area of your life or personality. Your Negative Nelly narrative usually goes something like this: I won’t ever be able to lose weight and keep it off… I can’t do a food elimination diet, I’ll get too hungry and bored… I don’t have enough willpower to stick to a plan right now… I don’t deserve to be happy… And, one really common one that comes up for many people… I am not good enough. Let’s change up the narrative you may have been having with yourself for a very long time!

Overcoming negative self-talk and releasing limiting beliefs

Your limiting decisions have shaped everything you do, and they have likely prevented you from seeing opportunities and maybe even discouraged you from trying some things at all. The good news is that it’s totally possible to permanently change a long-held belief — even the ones that are lifelong. You only perceive what you believe, so your beliefs shape the very world you live in. But, when your limiting beliefs come into question, your whole world can experience a shift for the better.

Here are a few ideas to help you silence your inner critic for good!

When you find yourself feeling “stuck”, or repeatedly spinning your wheels on the same speed bumps that life might be throwing your way, it’s always a great idea to seek out the help and guidance of a life coach, counsellor or therapist. In addition to that, there are several things you can do on your own, in your own time and space…

→ The first step to releasing limiting beliefs is to shift your thinking into AWARENESS

Time to bring those dis-empowering thoughts out of hiding! Once you do that, know that you have choice. However, just simply being aware or having knowledge of them is not enough, it’s just the first step. You must understand and truly believe that you have a choice about how to react to stressful situations.

→ Possible thinking, not just positive thinking Your mind is a powerful thing, and when you fill it with thoughts of what’s possible (not just positive), your mindset will start to shift. When you believe something IS possible, you will notice options and opportunities coming up for you that would simply not have be noticed if you did not believe it was possible. With repetition, your positive feelings will intensify, the new neural connections will strengthen, and you’ll start to notice just how awesome this new “win” really feels! Reminding yourself often of these little wins can further shift your mindset and help you embrace the bright side of your perceived “failures” or shortcomings. It also helps to simply accept that you are perfectly imperfect, just the way you are!

→ If you wouldn’t say it to your friend, don’t say it to yourself

Your limiting beliefs are assumptions you make about reality that often aren’t true. They aren’t helpful, and they certainly don’t serve you or the goals you want to achieve. Ask yourself: would I say these negative, hurtful and unsupportive words to a friend? If the answer is no, then DON’T say them to yourself!

→ Adopting empowering beliefs

“It is not my job to please everyone else.” “Just be me. There will never be anyone else like me.” To swap out your limiting belief with a more empowering one, you’ll need to play a little mind game: Convince yourself that the value you thought you were getting from the former limiting belief isn’t worthwhile, and that your new empowering belief can serve to fill this void.

→ Take some time and space that’s all yours

Ensure that you are creating space in your life for these new empowering beliefs. Take action and get into the habit of using your new beliefs as often as possible until they begin to feel comfortable, familiar and routine to you. Just remember – you have the ability to harness the power of the possible! Overcoming negative self-talk and releasing yourself of limiting beliefs takes commitment, introspection and a good dose of self-confidence to make the necessary changes stick. There’s the old saying that we view ourselves through a much harsher lens than the rest of world does. So, let’s try to bring our own lens back into focus. If you are now feeling more positive and ready to start putting yourself first, book your free clarity call here and let’s see how I can help. I will only share recommendations with you based on exactly what I think you need. And then the decision is yours….

And whilst you are waiting for your call with me, why not try this guilt-free comfort food dinner recipe 🙂

Recipe: Positively Paleo Pie (comfort food without the guilt!)

Ingredients:

Savory bottom layer:

1.25 lbs ground meat (free range preferable)

½ medium onion, chopped

4 large garlic cloves, minced

1 medium carrot, shredded

1 medium zucchini, shredded (not peeled)

1 Tb extra virgin olive oil

1 – 1½ tsp Himalayan pink salt or Celtic grey sea salt

1 tsp chilli powder

½ tsp cumin

Mashed cauliflower topping:

2 small (or 1 large) cauliflower heads

5-6 large roasted garlic cloves

½ – 1 tsp salt

Optional top layer:

½ cup shredded or crumbled organic, whole milk cheese (your choice!)

Instructions: How to prepare bottom layer:

  1. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat, and sauté onion + garlic until tender. Add the carrot + zucchini, cook until they start to soften.
  2. Add the ground meat, salt, and spices. Cook until the meat is browned, and very little moisture remains.

How to prepare cauliflower:

  1. Chop the cauliflower heads into small chunks, and steam until they soften – when a fork can easily pierce. Add the steamed cauliflower, roasted garlic and salt to a food processor. On low setting, puree until smooth. It may be necessary to use the tamper if you have one.

Assemble the pie:

  1. To assemble your Positively Paleo Pie, distribute the meat mixture evenly in the bottom of an 8-inch baking dish. Spread cauliflower mixture over the top, and bake for 25 minutes. If you’re adding the optional cheese top layer, sprinkle the cheese on top after you bake it, and then broil it until the cheese turns slightly brown (~3 minutes more in the oven).

Enjoy!

Are You in the Right Mindset for a Health Change?

We are constantly inundated with nutrition tips, exercise strategies, diet plans and ever emerging weight loss and health trends. Some work, most don’t….at least not long-term. But there is another very important element when it comes to diving into a health improvement or weight loss regime that often doesn’t get the attention it deserves….and it is one of the most popular underlying reasons why the more stressed and busy we are, the more difficult it is to reach our health goals.

Our mindset!

Mindset is simply the story we keep telling ourselves in our head. It’s our attitude towards the different elements of our life and our inner belief whether something is achievable or not. The bad news is, if we don’t take control of our mindset, it can derail us from reaching our goals very quickly. But the great news is, we have TOTAL CONTROL over our mindset. We have the power to adopt a positive mindset over a negative one. It takes practice but it will be so worth it!

More and more research is showing that the health of our mindset is one of the most accurate predictors of the future health of our body and mind. Without the right mindset, any health improvement or weight loss change will constantly feel like you are pushing a boulder up a very steep hill!

Here’s a quick story about a fascinating study. Researchers at Stanford University looked at a bunch of people’s different states of health and their nutrition and lifestyle habits. What they found was that the people who thought they were a lot less active had a higher risk of death than the general public. And, they also had up to 71% higher risk of death than people who thought they were more active. Even if they actually weren’t less active! How is this even possible that people who simply believed they were less active had higher risks, even if it wasn’t true? Well there are a couple of likely reasons….

One is that perhaps if we feel like we’re less active, within our mind we are not happy with our efforts and we feel down on ourselves which results in feeling stressed. And we know that stress isn’t good for our mental or physical health. We all likely know someone who has had to fight a serious illness, perhaps cancer right? Think about how often important it is that these people adopt a positive attitude towards their treatment and their survival. I was one of those people!

At the young age of 26 I had to undergo a rigorous treatment regimen for Hodgkins Lymphoma, an aggressive form of cancer which thankfully has a high cure rate. My oncologists, nurses, family and friends all imprinted on me the importance of “staying positive”. And I did. As difficult as that journey was, and as vulnerable as the experience made me feel, I chose to wake up every day and “think positive” that my treatment would work as planned and I would one day get my health and life back.

Which I did! I 100% believe that, in addition to the amazing care I received, my unwavering positive mindset helped to keep my body strong, keep my stress hormones under control and ultimately aided my recovery.

Second, there may be a bit of a “self-fulfilling prophecy” at play. Often when we tell ourselves something over and over, even if it isn’t true at the time, we end up manifesting it become a reality. This highlights the power of the mind-body connection where the body embodies what the mind visualizes. Similar to how our mind tells our gut when it needs to prepare for digestion when our mind starts thinking about devouring that next, tasty meal. Researchers don’t fully understand all the reasons why or how this works although more and more research is coming out to back up this connection the more we learn exactly how the body works.

So, if you are looking for some extra motivation to get you into the right mindset to stick to a health improvement or weight loss regime, let me give you a couple of strategies to help you do just that.

Positive Mindset Strategy #1 – Aim for “good enough”

It is next to impossible to always eat perfectly seven days a week. If you are constantly obsessing over the quality and quantity of everything you eat or drink, you are not doing yourself any favours. This type of constant perfectionism wreaks havoc on your stress hormones which can lead to binge eating and feeling unnecessary guilt and shame. Yes, you want to be AWARE of what and how you should be eating and living but if you have the occasional slip up here and there, let it go! Remember the 80/20 rule! Do your best the majority of the time but allow yourself room to slip up on the rare occasion. Your mind will appreciate the flexibility to be human and this will help keep your mindset in the right place to succeed. Focus on getting healthier by making better nutrition choices and building better lifestyle habits ONE STEP AT A TIME. Health improvement and natural, sustainable weight loss needs to be viewed as a marathon, not a sprint! So, instead of having a black and white approach where everything is good or bad, try aiming for “good enough” to empower yourself to make better choices, instead of perfect choices.

Positive Mindset Strategy #2 – Stop making trade-offs

How many of you have followed a diet that promises a “treat day”?

When you try to earn a gluttonous weekend by eating clean during the week, you’re making a trade-off, you’re telling yourself that, as long as you’re good most of the week, you can go wild on the weekend. Unfortunately that kind of thinking is not good for your health mindset because it is jumping from one extreme to the other. You’re controlling what you do all week, and possibly thinking about how to indulge over the weekend. Without realizing it you are branding eating healthy as “punishment” and going wild on the weekend as a “reward”.

Unfortunately, we see this mentality even when raising our children. How often do you hear a parent say to her child, “if you eat your vegetables, you can have ice-cream for dessert.”?

What we are essentially teaching our children is that vegetables are the enemy and ice-cream and sugary treats are our friend. Neither our children or ourselves should adopt this mindset. Because when we do, it will make it all the more difficult to believe that eating healthy can also make you happy. Instead you want to live as though you’re trying to do well every single day. Like you care about your health and wellness. You’re doing your best, and that’s “good enough”.

In summary, our health mindset can be a powerful tool to achieve healthy, sustainable weight loss and long-term mental and physical health. There’s a proven mind-body connection that research can measure and continues to evidence. Thinking positively, and dropping the black/white and good/bad labels, can help you reach your health goals.

So ask yourself, what is YOUR health mindset? Which of these tips resonate with you the most? How are you going to implement them in your life?

Here’s a simple but refreshing beverage recipe you may also want to try!

Recipe (Morning mindset refresher): Chia Lemon Water (Serves 1)

1 tbsp chia seeds

½ lemon, sliced

Water

Instructions: Add the chia seeds & lemon to your favourite water bottle. Fill to top with water. Serve & enjoy!

Tip: Shake before drinking.

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