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Questions to ask a mold testing company if you struggle with CIRS, Lyme, Multiple Chemical Sensitivity or Autoimmunity
Do you offer remediation?
You do not want a company to test for mold who also remediates it as they will benefit from you having mold. The best thing to do is work with a company who does the inspection and writes a remediation protocol, and will refer you to trustworthy companies in your area. If they say they both test and remediate, it’s a conflict of interest and you should continue looking elsewhere.
How long does your inspection take?
We live in a 970 square foot house and our inspection took three hours. According to the company we worked with, an inspection should take anywhere from 3-5 hours depending on the size of your home. Your inspector should initially walk the entire perimeter of your home, check for areas where there may be potential water intrusion, and then walk through your entire house looking for signs of water damage. They should also go in your crawl space and attic, if you have them.
How many of your clients have CIRS, Lyme, or Multiple Chemical Sensitivities?
You definitely want your home inspector to understand the consequences of mold on your health. When I called the inspection company I asked if they had heard CIRS and Multiple Chemical Sensitivity. The woman at the front desk said yes, but she wasn’t entirely confident answering all the questions I had. She connected me with one of their inspectors who said he was very familiar with these illnesses and that he would be personally coming to inspect our home because of that.
Have you heard of the ERMI and HERTSMI tests and do you perform them?
Just because mold doesn’t come back positive in an air sample doesn’t mean you’re not struggling from CIRS. The ERMI (Environmental Relative Moldiness Index) is the most recommended test by mold illness doctors. It examines the proteins in a dust sample for the genetic presence of 36 different types of molds and helps your specialist get an understanding of the history of mold in your home.
The HERTSMI is similar to the ERMI test, but it only looks for the presence of the top dangerous species of mold and is therefore less expensive.
If the specialist you’re speaking to is not familiar with these tests, it’s best to go elsewhere.
Is it okay if I shadow you as you walk around our property?
If they’re a good inspector and willing to do a thorough job, their answer will be yes. This isn’t just an inspection but an opportunity to educate. As your inspector walks around your home he/she should inform you where they see risk for water damage now or in the future and share their recommendations. If they don’t want you to follow it’s likely may rush the process.
Are you familiar with mycotoxins?
Mycotoxins are gasses produced by mold that are harmful to human (and animal) health. You want to make sure your mold inspector understands what they are and how important it is for you to reduce your exposure to them.
Do you test the HVAC system?
Your HVAC is a major contributor to your indoor air quality and should always be inspected and/or tested during a mold inspection.
DENVER MOLD SPECIALIST
If you’re in Denver and looking for a mold inspection company, we went with HS Scientific. At the time of writing this, their website is under construction but they can be reached at 720-295-6408.
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You think you have toxic mold, now what?
Toxic mold is increasingly problematic in our built environment. If you recently discovered mold in your home either visibly or through an over the counter air sample, you may be feeling overwhelmed by what next steps to take, especially if you think you’re one of the 28% of the population who are particularly susceptible to mold illness.
If you’ve been struggling with ongoing health issues and believe that mold is the root cause of them, these are some initial steps you can take to get on a healing path.
Leave the Moldy Environment
You cannot heal from toxic mold while your air quality is compromised. This doesn’t mean you have to be gone forever, but staying with a friend could be helpful while you are figuring out next steps.
This may seem a bit drastic, but people oftentimes begin to feel better as soon as they leave the mold environment. I personally felt symptoms of muscle cramping, food sensitivities, itchy skin, and difficulty sleeping subside within days. After being out of the home for 2.5 weeks, my skin would begin to itch and my joints would ache after re-entry to my mold contaminated home.
Call a Mold Specialist
While you’re out of the house, start researching mold specialists in your area. Consider joining a toxic mold support group on Facebook, like this one, to ask others for recommendations in your area.
When you’re searching for a mold specialist, it’s important to make sure they recognize the severity of your health issues and how mold can relate to them. I’ve put together this guide to help you ask the right questions in order to find a qualified mold specialist.
Purchase an Air Purifier
Before you go back into your home, purchase a high-quality air purifier that filters mold. There are several air purifiers on the market, but the one I purchased is called Molekule. The Molekule uses PECO (Photo Electrochemical Oxidation) to remove pollutants. This filter claims to destroy more pollutants than a traditional HEPA filter (commonly recommended for mold). The technology breaks down pollutants at a molecular level through a photocatalytic reaction and then the sanitized air goes back into the room.
After running the air purifier for a few days I stopped noticing itching sensations when I returned to my home. The Molekule takes 60 minutes to purify a 600 square foot area and can easily be transferred to another room thanks to the handle and light(ish) weight design. I keep it in the living room area until an hour before I go to bed, then transition it to our bedroom to purify the air while we sleep. Thus far it has been working really well.
If you’re interested in getting your own Molekule air, you can get $75 off by using this link.
After you purchase your air purifier, get it set up in your house for a couple days before you go back. Many people will experience noticeable improvements.
Contact a Physician Who Specializes in Mold Detoxification
Once you know (or think you know) you have mold illness, work on finding a physician who specializes in mold detoxification. My personal experience was that my local naturopath was not confident in treating mold + heavy metal toxicity so I was forced to go elsewhere. In my research, I found that the majority of mold specialists charge approximately $400 for the initial appointment and $200 for follow-ups. None of those costs include the functional tests required to determine if you have mold or other health issues (blood tests, urine tests, and hormone tests are recommended that can cost between $500 and $2,000). I am personally going to Nourish Medical Center in California because they were able to see me via video conferencing.
Fortunately, I am armed with several labs like blood work from the past four years, a recent heavy metals test, and a mycotoxin test. My advice to you is to get as much of this testing done before you go into your initial appointment so you don’t have to pay for more follow up visits. See if your current functional practitioner will help you order them!
This one is really hard, isn’t it? I’m sure you might feel like your whole life is unraveling right now, but I try to remind my clients and myself that sometimes things fall apart so they can fall together. It’s really hard to see the bright side of illness, but the only way you get out is through. Keep your chin up and put one foot in front of the other. At least you’re on the right path, you know? What if you had stayed in that toxic environment for even longer and developed more health issues? There’s always a silver lining if you let yourself find it, I promise.
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I promised I’d put together some information about my mold story and what I’m doing to heal from it, so here it goes:
I have been struggling with chronic health issues for the past four years. It started when my husband and I moved into an old home in Denver. I started losing my hair in patches, struggling with symptoms of PCOS and Endometriosis I had never had before, and chronic fatigue. I was diagnosed with Alopecia and Hashimotos and saw great results on the Autoimmune Paleo Protocol in reversing my antibodies. At the time, I was also diagnosed with SIBO, which was treated with two rounds of antibiotics, and the follow-up breath test came back negative.
In April of 2016 my husband and I moved into our very first home. It was a 1940’s fixer-upper that we were excited to renovate. There was a bit of obvious water damage in the bathroom, but we were assured by our home inspector that it wouldn’t be a big deal since we were planning to remodel anyway. He said nothing about mold and assured us, “this house has almost been here 100 years. It’s in great shape and will probably last another 100!” We went forward with the purchase without hesitation.
We lived in the house a couple months before we noticed the drywall in the bathroom was soggy. I pushed on it and it caused a hole that little gnats flew out of. We thought it was disgusting and started the remodel on our bathroom right away. What we found was the wall and the floor was completely rotted out due to a slow leak and needed to be replaced. Our contractor told us we just needed to spray down the studs with bleach in order to kill the mold. We did that, then put up drywall and tiled the walls floor to ceiling. All is well, right?
Fast forward to a couple years later. I went back to school to become a Nutritional Therapy Consultant, continued eating a paleo diet, lowered my thyroid antibodies to 35, stopped getting bald patches, and felt good enough emotionally to come off my antidepressants for the first time in 15 years. In a lot of ways, I was doing better than I ever had been. The only problem was I was my debilitating period cramps, fatigue, weight gain, and brain fog were back along with chronic yeast infections, male pattern balding, muscle cramping, and histamine issues. Many of these symptoms are associated with candida, so I ordered a stool test for it which came back negative. My functional doctor wanted to treat based on symptoms and I decided it couldn’t hurt to try.
I started my first round of prescription antifungals and a candida diet and noticed improvements. My weight began to drop, my brain fog started to subside, and my yeast infection symptoms mostly went away. Unfortunately, my hair loss, fatigue, and period pain continued, and as soon as I ran out of the antifungals my yeast symptoms returned. I talked to my doctor about these issues and she kept wanting me to go back on antifungals and stick to an extremely low carbohydrate diet. After six months on the diet, two rounds of prescription antifungals, and herbal antifungals inbetween it, I realized I wasn’t getting anywhere. My intuition was telling me I needed to dig deeper but I wanted to trust that my doctor knew what she was talking about.
Always trust your intuition. I decided to get tested for heavy metals and found I had high levels of lead and moderately high levels of aluminum and cadmium. We went to Home Depot to get a simple water test in order to determine if our water was the source. I asked the employee where the lead tests were and they accidentally took me over to the mold tests. I thought, you know what, maybe i should snage one of those as well. Thank goodness I did.
We took both of the tests home and found that not only was our water positive for lead, but our air sample had multiple colors of mold growing in it after 96 hours. After years of going to functional doctors, studying nutrition through the NTA and doing my own research in order to heal, I was heartbroken to have overlooked these possibilities as a root cause. Part of me thinks I just wasn’t ready to climb the mountain that is mold and heavy metal toxicity. I knew that if our home was the root cause of my illness, it could uproot our family and drain our finances.
My health is my foundation, though, and money means nothing if I’m not healthy enough to enjoy the things in my life it affords me. We’ve decided to move forward with functional doctors who specialize in mold, mold testing, and mold remediation. Head HERE to find out what steps I’m taking to start this process.
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What is Autoimmune Disease?
Autoimmune disease is complex and according to AARDA.org, it’s currently impacting 50 million Americans. Since autoimmune disease is grossly under diagnosed, it’s likely the number of people suffering from autoimmune disease is much higher.
Autoimmune disease occurs when our immune system targets healthy proteins within our bodies. Our bodies produce antibodies as a natural defense against foreign, harmful invaders like bacteria and viruses. When antibodies find an invader, they bind to it and a red flag is raised that signals to our immune system to attack it. This system works in most healthy bodies, but for people with autoimmune disease, the these antibodies get “confused” and latch onto healthy proteins. Antibodies that attack healthy proteins are referred to as autoantibodies and indicate a likelihood for developing autoimmunity.
The autoimmune disease people are diagnosed with depends on which proteins in their body are being attacked. I have hashimotos and alopecia, so my body attacks my thyroid and my hair follicles.
Whether or not we develop autoantibodies comes down to three major factors:
Genetics (thanks mom & dad)
Diet & Lifestyle
Today we’re going to focus on the diet & lifestyle piece. One thing nearly all autoimmune diseases have in common is something called intestinal permeability or “leaky gut,” which can oftentimes be reversed through diet and lifestyle changes.
What’s Leaky Gut?
When our guts are functioning properly, they act as a filter between the outside world and our bodies. As we digest food, it’s broken down into tiny particles of nutrients that are allowed through the gut barrier and into our blood stream. If our gut barrier is damaged (which is the case with leaky gut), microtears in the small intestine are able to let other substances cross into our bloodstreams. Undigested food, bacteria, toxins and other waste makes it through the barrier. Once in the bloodstream, the body sees it as a foreign invader and goes into protection mode. The immune system is ramped up and starts to attack the foreign particles.
If we’re genetically predisposed to autoimmune disease, our immune system produces autoantibodies when it’s responding to a threat. When leaky gut is present and foreign particles keep seeping into our bloodstream, the immune system is always firing and producing lots of autoantibodies. As time goes on, these autoantibodies cause damage to different parts of the body and that’s when autoimmune disease develops.
What contributes to leaky gut?
There are several ways a gut can become leaky, but below are some of the top contenders.
Eating an inflammatory diet (like the Standard American Diet)
Prescription drugs (like antibiotics, birth control and antidepressants)
Regular use of NSAIDS (like asprin)
Regular use of proton pump inhibitors (acid suppressers)
Infections (like h-pylori, norovirus and strep)
Regular exposure to toxins
Heavy alcohol use
How to tell if you have leaky gut?
If you have one or more of the below symptoms you may be struggling with leaky gut.
Achy joints or arthritis
Brain fog and headaches
Regular gas and bloating
Chronic constipation or diarrhea
Skin rashes like eczema, rosacea or psoriasis
aip is one of the best diets for healing leaky gut
The best way to get started healing leaky gut is by removing potentially inflammatory foods from your diet and increasing the amount of nutrient-dense, anti-inflammatory foods you’re consuming. The diet I use with my autoimmune clients to help heal and seal the gut is called the Autoimmune Protocol (AIP).
I’ve watched people heal through dietary changes countless times with clients, friends, and myself. There was also a recent study that points towards AIP as a healing modality for those with inflammatory bowel disease. This was huge news for the autoimmune community because most people look at us like we have a third eye when we talk about healing through diet and lifestyle changes.
Foods to remove on AIP:
Grains (including pseudo grains like amaranth, buckwheat, quinoa and chia)
Beans with edible pods (green beans and snow peas)
Processed veggie oils
Processed chemicals, preservatives and food stabilizers
Processed sugar and sugar alcohols
Foods to Include on AIP:
Grass fed and pasture raised meat
Wild caught seafood
Vegetables (besides nightshades)
Adequate amounts of water (click here to find out what that amount is for you)
I know the list of things you can’t eat is pretty overwhelming and that you might be thinking, “WTF, Whitney, how do I do this?” Lucky for you, I’ve dedicated a lot of blog space to helping people heal through dietary changes. There’s an entire section on Autoimmune Protocol recipes, a Free 7 Day AIP Meal Plan, and an AIP store.
If you look this over and still feel like you need some extra help getting started, you can apply to work with me for six weeks and make this transition easier.
Autoimmune disease doesn’t have to be a hopeless diagnosis. It’s possible to reverse your symptoms and live an incredible, full life. You just have to commit to making some changes. I believe in you!
WANT A PRINTABLE LIST OF ALL THE FOODS ALLOWED ON THE AUTOIMMUNE PALEO DIET? I’VE GOT YOU COVERED!
Yes, yes you should. There are tons of contaminants in drinking water and getting a water filter is going to benefit your overall health, especially if you’re working on healing or preventing autoimmune disease.
If you don’t have a high quality water filter you’re exposing yourself to all sorts of nasty shit in your drinking water. Chlorine, prescription drugs, bacteria, antibiotics, pesticides, glyphosate, industrial chemicals.. the list goes on. Many could have a negative impact on your health when you’re exposed to them on a regular basis.
I’ve known I needed a water filter for a while. First, I got the Aquagear pitcher, which is a great affordable option, but it was annoying to keep refilling it all day (#woeisme). I didn’t replace the filter when it ran out and started researching other water filters to buy. Most of them seemed really expensive and I wasn’t sure if I wanted to make the investment.. but the longer I waited, the more chemicals I was drinking.
When I was diagnosed with heavy metal toxicity I got my ass in gear and decided it was time to just spend the money on a filter. I had been reading about the Berkey for a while and went with that one.
The Berkey water filtration system has a carbon filter that helps remove most lead, arsenic, iron, mercury, chlorine, BPA, chloramine, pharmaceuticals, pesticides, and fluoride (when you get the additional fluoride attachment for $60 which I’m about to purchase for us).
I was excited when our Berkey arrived because I had seen tons of big name bloggers in the health and wellness community using theirs, and now I finally had one (does this mean I finally made it?!?). My husband and I got the Royal Berkey and put it together in about 30 minutes and filled it up. By the time we woke up in the morning we had 3.25 gallons of fresh, filtered water.
In all honesty, Denver drinking water tastes pretty good and I haven’t noticed a big change in the flavor of our water, but my guess is I’ll notice it after I add the additional fluoride attachments. Other people I’ve talked to in the autoimmune community noticed a huge change in the taste of their water with the Berkey, so I think it really just depends where you’re at.
The biggest draw for me with the Berkey is that each black filter comes with a lifespan of 3,000 gallons. That means if you’re using 3 gallons of water a day, it should last approximately 5 years. The fluoride filters need to be replaced a little more often, every 1,000 gallons, so they last approximately 11 months. Plus, the manufacturer warranty is 12 months on the system and PF-2 fluoride/arsenic filters and 2 years on black Berkey filters.
Overall, I’m really happy with my purchase and would absolutely recommend it to friends and family looking for a high quality filter. If you want to purchase one of your own, click the banner below and you’ll get 5% off your purchase!
According to the Dove Self Esteem Project, only 11 percent of girls worldwide wouIld call themselves beautiful and six in 10 girls avoid participating in life activities because of concerns about the way they look.
I can’t say I’m surprised. As a teen I spent my life buried deep in US Weekly magazines or sitting in front of the television. The only women I saw were thin, white women with perfect hair and glowing skin. If a fat woman was depicted there were always jokes at her expense (think Monica flashbacks in Friends) or the narrative revolved around women only being beautiful and lovable if they were thin (think Shallow Hal). Regular consumption of this media influenced my reality and made me feel like I had to be a stick thin, blonde, and beautiful in order to matter... and that's exactly what the marketing companies wanted. They wanted me to idolize the women I saw in the media so that I would buy products promising to help me look like them.
It worked. I obsessed over my appearance and felt like it was the only thing about me that mattered. I would post pictures of stick thin models on the walls of my room and in the cabinets of the kitchen. I’d buy hair dye, spend all my babysitting money on makeup and clothes, requested my mom buy diet coke and other low-fat products, and I would beat myself up any time I looked in the mirror because, even after all my focus and desperate attempts, I still didn’t fit mainstream beauty norms (side note: they’re unachievable for most of the population).
When I went to college I realized during a Women and the Media class that my self-doubt and self-hatred had been carefully cultivated by large corporations in order to make money. It was one of the most enraging and empowering experiences of my life. If I could understand and dissect where my body image issues were coming from, maybe I could reteach myself how to exist in this world... and that's exactly the mission I set out on.
Over the past decade I’ve somehow managed to repair my relationship with my body. Here are the things I've done in order to cultivate more self-love and body acceptance that you can start implementing in your own life TODAY.
1. STOP WATCHING TV/MOVIES WHERE FEMALES CHARACTERS LACK DEPTH AND/OR ARE SEEN AS SEX OBJECTS
For years the mainstream female character was white, kinda beautiful, kinda ditzy, only existed for male self-actualization, and was hyper sexualized and objectified. I'd love to say that's changed now that feminism has become more mainstream, but that's not exactly the case. I'll never forget how awful I felt watching Wolf of Wall Street a couple years ago. A lot of debate ensued over whether or not it was just an intentional, exaggerated display of misogyny or if women were blatantly being objectified for entertainment. Every time I had a discussion about this MEN were arguing the former while I was arguing the latter.. we're not surprised, right?
Anyway, that's when I decided to be more careful about the movies and TV shows I watched. I loved that Oceans 8 came out this year and had a diverse cast of women with many different body types, and that the film had nothing to do with the male gaze. I also just finished watching Russian Doll on Netflix, which had a diverse cast, strong female leads, a display of different types of sexuality (orgies, lesbians, and platonic kisses, OH MY!).
Through being more intentional about the films and television I’m watching, I’m no longer met with covert messages of women’s bodies being the only thing about them that matters.
2. STOP FOLLOWING PEOPLE ON INSTAGRAM WHO MAKE YOU FEEL SHITTY
Instagram is a great platform and I love that it’s dominated by female entraprenuers. What I don’t love is seeing is an abundance of before and after pictures as I scroll through my health and wellness feed, especially when there is a title like “my transformation” which is usually followed by a caption talking about how unhappy they were in the before aka fat picture and how much better their life is in the after.
These photos, while intended to provide “inspiration” always end up making me feel uncomfortable. I hate seeing women imply they became the woman they always wanted to be by hitting the gym and counting their macros. If you’ve achieved a level of happiness you hadn’t experienced before, it’s likely some other things went into that… like reading lots of books on development, listening to podcasts that help you put your mental AND physical health first, getting rid of toxic people, and probably some therapy, ya know? GIVE US THE WHOLE PICTURE, LADIES!
The other form of social media I’ve found that rubs me the wrong way is like 25 Instagram stories of someone working out at a fancy-ass, expensive cross-fit gym and acting like their ability to lift heavy things is supposed to be empowering for me.
For a while I’d watch these women’s stories and dig through their feeds (for much longer than I care to admit). I’d always end up feeling chewed up and spit out energetically. It took a while to realize their content wasn’t helping with my self-esteem. I reminded myself that, again, I get to choose what I consume. Sure, they aren’t sending the message that skinny is best, but the message I’m receiving is still about manipulating the female body into something it isn’t.
For me personally, I need to disengage from body centered content and focus on content that is more mind/body/spirit focused.
Some humble influencers I love to follow who make me feel GOOD on all levels:
NOTE: Accounts that make me feel good on Instagram may make you feel bad… find what works for you!
3. STOP MIRROR CHECKING
In high school I would look in the mirror at least 20 times before I left the house and that only got worse in college. I found that the more self-conscious I was about myself (appearance, intelligence, etc..) the more time I would spend looking in the mirror. I’d change clothes 10 times before finally deciding on something, or I’d collapse in my bed because I didn’t feel good enough about the way I looked to leave the house.
I got rid of my full-length mirror at the age of 27. Even though I understood why I didn’t like the way my body looked, it was hard to break old patterns of appearance-based self-criticism. This was one of the best things I ever did for my body, mind and spirit. I was sending a message to myself that my head-to-toe appearance was not important and I totally felt something shift in me.
I stopped wearing makeup every day, I stopped obsessing over my outfits and appearing to be fashionable. I stopped telling myself I was fat every time I looked in the mirror. Taking the focus away from my appearance allowed me to turn inward and start doing a deeper level of healing.
4. NOURISH YOUR SOUL
Holy shit. You guys, we spend our whole lives being told who we’re supposed to be and how we’re supposed to show up in this world. Most of us have no idea how to peel away the layers of other people’s expectations and sit with the person we truly are. In my late 20’s started attending women’s spirituality groups through Denver’s Insight Counseling Center that helped me shed the things that weren’t serving me.
One of the questions asked in the first class was “What brings you a childlike sense of joy?” Um, what? No one has ever asked me that! The exercise challenged me to revisit the things that made me happy as a child and start implementing them into my adult life.
At the time I was in the class my life felt kind of.. meh. I had a great husband and we did cool outdoorsy things on the weekend, but I hated my job and for the most part, I felt like I was just existing in this world. When I started to think about the things I was doing as a an adult to find joy, I realized a lot of those were shaped by what brought joy to other people and not me. I had become a chameleon of sorts.
When I was a little girl I loved coming up with business ideas (like turning a box into friendship bracelet store and selling them on the street), acting and singing, and doing things that sparked creativity. Once I began finding ways to bring those things into my life it changed everything. Within a couple months I was auditioning for the Vagina Monlogues and within eight months I had started a blog that highlighted my creativity in the kitchen.
Now I have my own business, I speak in front of thousands of people every day, and I get paid to be creative. I am so freaking filled up that the last thing I ever think about is whether or not my thighs look big or if people are going to think I’m pretty.
5. REFRAME THE WAY YOU THINK ABOUT YOUR BODY
Negative self-talk is a vicious cycle and most of us do it without even recognizing it. Take some time to write down 5-10 thoughts and feelings about your body and then REWRITE a positive affirmation next to them (you can use mine or come up with your own).
I am fat and therefore unlovable —> I am more than my body
My skin is disgusting —> I am perfect as I am
I hate my body —>I love and completely accept myself
We talk to ourselves more than we talk to anyone else. If we’re constantly spewing negative and hateful things then we’ll certainly be in a terrible place. You can’t heal your relationship with your body until you work on healing the conversations you have with yourself.
I’ve created some beautiful affirmations that you can print out, post around your house, and tape right in the center of your full-length mirror. There’s even a blank one so that you can add your own personal message.
Enter your email below to download these PRINTABLE affirmations!
Food journals are a tool I use with every client in my practice because they help tell a story. Through analyzing food and symptom journals I’m able to get a view of what my client’s relationship is like with food, how much they’re eating, and see patterns of how food and lifestyle is correlating with symptoms.
Some symptoms we look out for:
undigested food in stool
Symptoms can happen immediately or take a few days to present themselves.
Some things I have my clients focus on:
Nutrient density - I encourage my clients to eat the rainbow and include lots of fruits and vegetables in their meals throughout the day
Eating balanced meals - We work on a good balance of fats, carbs and proteins
Stress relief - There’s a strong link between the gut and the brain, and constant cortisol release can be taxing to the entire body. I ask my clients to implement stress relieving techniques (otherwise known as “self care”) like positive self talk, meditation, and gratitude journaling.
Water intake - Water is essential to our everyday function and dehydration can cause lots of symptoms in our bodies. In order to determine the proper amount of water you should be drinking, take your body weight and divide it by two. That number is the amount of ounces you should have each day. If you’re drinking diuretics (like coffee) then you multiple the amount of ounces of that drink by 1.5 and add it to the total water you should be drinking.
Movement - Depending on my clients physical abilities, I’ll encourage them to stretch, go for walks, and engage in 30 minutes of mildly rigorous exercise 4x/week to help reduce inflammation and improve digestion.
Even if you aren’t working with a nutritionist you can still look out for correlations between your food and symptoms.
I put together a food journal template for those of you who aren’t working with me, so that you still have access to one of the tools I’m using in my practice. The best thing about this printable, 7-day food journal template is that it provides space for meal planning, creating a grocery list, tracking your symptoms, supplements, exercise, water intake, and self-care, and has a spot for you to reflect on how the week went for you. Plus, as a little special Rooted in Healing touch, there are encouraging messages at the bottom of each page.
Ready to get more in touch with your body through your very own food journal? I put a lot of love into this template and I can’t wait to see you using it out in the real world! Enter your email below to put your health back in your own hands.
I didn’t realize how much I love traveling until I hit my mid 20’s. Coincidentally, that’s also when I started losing my hair in patches and had to start making some big lifestyle changes to grow it back. Over the years I’ve found ways to make traveling while on the Autoimmune Protocol and the Paleo diet doable for me and I wanted to share some of those tips with you.
ADJUST YOUR EXPECTATIONS
Things are different now. You can’t expect to travel the same way you once did and it’s important you come to terms with that before you take off on your journey. You may not see EVERYTHING but you’re going to see SOME things that you wouldn’t have seen otherwise. Embrace this and allow yourself to enjoy your new way of traveling.
GO ON A BEACH VACATION
I personally love, love, love city vacations so I’m surrounded by art, music and lots of unique shops and restaurants. That being said, when I was in the intense healing phase of my autoimmune disease, I would have never gone to a big city. They are draining and you usually need to walk everywhere you go. The whole point of a beach vacation is to rest and relax, so it’s perfect for those with autoimmune disease.
DO YOUR RESEARCH
Travel to cities you know focus on fresh and grilled foods. While we were in Spain there were plenty of places serving meat and vegetables, and I knew I could find something that wouldn’t make me feel awful. Along with that, take time to scour the internet for different restaurants in the city you’re visiting. Chances are you’ll find some with dishes that can be slightly modified to meet your requirements.
DON’T STAY IN HOTELS
My #1 recommendation to people wanting to travel on the Autoimmune Paleo Diet is to get an Air BNB or VRBO. These are typically stocked with pots and pans so you can cook for yourself. Head to a nearby market or grocery store and get food that complies with your diet. For fun, look up recipes you can eat that mirror the traditional food of the city you’re visiting.
MAKE YOUR TRIP LESS THAN A WEEK
I don’t recommend planning to travel for more than a week when you have an autoimmune disease. Travel can be stressful, draining, and if you’re anything like me, you push yourself to see everything possible. That can be exhausting and potentially trigger a flare, so forcing yourself to come home early is a good plan.
PLAN ACTIVITIES THAT AREN’T CENTERED AROUND FOOD
There is so much to do in cities that doesn’t have anything to do with food. Pack a compliant lunch at your Air BNB in the morning and head out on an adventure. Here are a couple non-food ideas:
Visit the most popular public parks in the area
Rent bicycles or a scooter to explore the city
Bring a sketchbook and draw what you see
Bring a notebook and write what you see
Explore an art gallery or history museum
Take an architecture tour
Go on a scavenger hunt for cool street art and take pictures of your favorites
Explore a local market
Head to the local library
Visit an an old church or cathedral
BUILD IN TIME FOR REST
It’s ESSENTIAL when you are traveling that you make space for breaks. If you’re struggling with autoimmune disease it’s likely you also struggle with fatigue. Set yourself up for success by planning out your day with several breaks. Stop at a coffee shop to read and people watch between activities in the morning and always head back to your accommodations for an afternoon nap.
PLAN TO HAVE DOWN TIME ONCE YOU GET HOME
No matter how careful you are when you travel it can be really taxing on your body. Don’t plan a deadline at work right after you get home nor to go out with friends every night. You’ll likely need a vacation from your vacation, and that’s totally okay. Give yourself some space and practice having grace for yourself as you bounce back.
When I first swapped from a vegan diet to an AIP diet it hit my bank account HARD. I used to spend roughly $60 a week on groceries for the two of us and that number more than doubled once I started preparing AIP recipes with organic veggies and free-range meat..
Transitioning to a healing lifestyle can feel socioeconomically prohibitive but it doesn’t always have to be. Over the years I’ve learned how to keep my grocery bill down to around $80-$100/week for two people and today I’m sharing how I do that.
If you have an extra $50-$60 consider purchasing a year-long membership at one of the following places:
COSTCO: They usually have fantastic deals on organic produce, high-quality meat, and lots of pantry staples. I love getting my coconut oil, olive oil, coconut aminos, collagen, and organic meat + produce there. ($55 MEMBERSHIP)
THRIVE: Thrive Market is an online wholesale store for health food. It’s perfect for purchasing pantry staple items and high-quality meat. The best part (at least for me) is that you don’t even have to leave your house. The prices are very similar to Costco but they have a wider variety. ($59.95 MEMBERSHIP, plus 25% off your first order by using this link)
Thrive Market also provides free memberships to families in need. You can look into their program if you are low income and apply here.
DON’T PURCHASE EVERYTHING ORGANIC
If you are in a financial bind it is not necessary to purchase 100% organic vegetables. Check out the Environmental Working Group’s Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen lists. These are compiled based on which non-organic vegetables are the most toxic and which are the least toxic each year. Do your best to avoid purchasing the Dirty Dozen non-organic. Also know that if you cannot afford to purchase organic, pasture-raised/grass-fed food, you can still achieve healing.
COOK AT HOME MORE
There is a restaurant in Denver I love to go to because they have grass-fed burgers and duck fat fries. It’s freaking delicious and I love the whole experience of going out to a restaurant. That being said, the burger is around $13 and the duck fat fries are $7. We share the fries so our total ends up being around $38 with tip. For that amount of money I could get 2 lbs of grass-fed beef at whole foods ($5.99/lb), six organic sweet potatoes ($1.69/lb), a whole jar of duck fat ($7.99), plus some organic lettuce and I would STILL be under the total it costs for my husband and I to go out. Plus, that amount of food could easily last the two of us for four + meals.
STOCK UP ON SALE ITEMS
When you are at the grocery store and see a good deal on meat or produce, buy extra and stock your freezer. I am constantly doing this with meat and frozen veggies.
START A GARDEN
This is by far the most cost-efficient way to have organic, fresh vegetables. We grow more expensive items in our garden like spaghetti squash, butternut squash, tomatoes, blueberries, and herbs, as well as some other fun things like zucchini, cucumbers, and cauliflower.
BUY IN BULK
Foods are oftentimes cheaper in bulk than they are when you purchase them in pre-packaged bags. Some cities have bulk stores or you can shop the bulk section of Whole Foods and Sprouts.
DON’T PURCHASE SPECIALTY FOODS
Things like Paleo Puffs, jerky, pre-made bone broth, dehydrated fruit, and sweet potato chips are all great convenience foods but they also cost more at the grocery store than fresh food. Consider making your own versions at home for way less!
BUY FROZEN VEGGIES
Frozen veggies are a great way to get healthy food at a lower cost. Trader Joe’s has a great selection. Just make sure the only ingredient is the vegetable.
PURCHASE CANNED GOODS
Purchasing chicken and fish canned is typically cheaper than fresh and it has a longer shelf life. These are great to stock up on when they go on sale! It’s best to make sure the fish is wild caught, the chicken is free-range or pasture raised, and the can is BPA free.
Most people are a little grossed out at the idea of eating the organs of animals but it’s an incredibly affordable way to get high-quality, nutrient-dense protein into your diet. Try fried chicken liver or pate to start!
SHOP MULTIPLE GROCERY STORES
This can get a little time consuming but check the Sunday paper for coupons and sale flyers for grocery stores and shop multiple places in order to get the best deals. Many stores also have apps you can download where you get exclusive deals. I use apps for King Soopers (or Kroger) and Whole Foods.
Those are my best practices for saving money on a healing diet. Have some of your own? Feel free to come tell me about them on my Instagram!
1. Cut your guest list
This is a hard one because I’m sure there are soooooooo many people you love. It’s a no brainer, though. More people means bigger party, means more money, means more planning, means more stress. Do yourself a favor and cut back.
My husband and I made a rule that NO ONE was invited to our party unless the other had met the person (we had to make an exception for his relatives in Israel and Australia, but that was IT). We likely hurt some people’s feelings, which totally sucks, but if your partner hasn’t met someone, how important are they REALLY in your adult life? Plus, if you haven’t seen someone in over five years, you’re going to want to catch up with them. Weddings aren’t the best place for that because you’re being pulled in a million directions. Trust me, your old pal will likely understand, especially if they’ve planned a wedding before.
2. Don’t go dress shopping in the middle of your elimination phase (unless you plan to be on that diet up until you get married)
OOPS. In January 2017 I started a SIBO diet. That meant no sugar, low carb, and low starch, which caused serious weight loss. I got skinny AF and it just so happened that was the only time my sister could come to Denver and go dress shopping with me. OOPS. We found a beautiful secondhand dress that was a bit over budget, but GORGEOUS… so I bought it. OOPS. Once I was feeling better, I started stress eating a lot of gluten-free food, particularly pizza (I LOVE YOU, PIZZERIA LOCALE). OOPS.
I went to get my dress fitted about 3 months out and it was uncomfortably tight. The friends who came with me told me it looked great, though, so I stuck with it. I assumed I would be able to work out a couple times a week and get the dress to fit comfortably again, so I left it at the seamstress until my next fitting.
Fast forward to two weeks before my wedding. I brought one of my no bullshit friends with me to see the dress. When I walked out of the fitting room, my boobs (which had grown QUITE a bit) were popping out of the dress. The zipper would come undone a little bit when I moved, and I was really uncomfortable. I looked in the mirror and burst into tears saying, “MY DAD CAN’T SEE ME LIKE THIS. LOOK AT MY BOOBS!” My friend looked at me, told the seamstress we were leaving, and drove me to the closest David’s Bridal to try on dresses for the next two hours. I cried the whole way there.
3. Stick to your protocol
Do your best to stick to your protocol while you’re in the midst of planning. Don’t get super stressed, yell out YOLO, and start guzzling down a Costco size pack of M&Ms. Not worth it. Make an effort to eat a well balanced, nutrient-dense diet that will support your body during the upcoming busy, stressful days.
When everyone is in town and you’re celebrating you can let loose a little bit, but do your best to get back on track as quickly as possible. I personally ended up suffering for quite some time (bloating, depression, major fatigue, hemorrhoids) after I binge drank my wedding week away and ate a ton of gluten-free pizza and refined sugar, and hardly slept because of the spike in adrenaline. Did I survive? You betcha. Did I suffer? Much more than I needed to. My advice to you is know your limits and stay within them. If I could do it over again, I would definitely try to adhere to a paleo diet until my wedding night and then immediately after.
If you don’t want to feel like shit, try to plan a paleo wedding. We opted for pizza because we had it on our first date and it has always, always been my favorite food. Most catering companies are willing to create whatever menu you want. You can also plan on having sugar-free mixed drinks and lots of Lacroix or San Pellegrino available. That way, if you can’t drink alcohol, the bartender can still make you a cute little mocktail.
4. Don’t go crazy with decorations and tiny details
The key to planning a wedding with an autoimmune disease is to SIMPLIFY. Consider opting for an outdoor wedding. Scenery is decoration enough so you won’t have to go crazy making the space look beautiful. The only decorations we had at our wedding were a couple signs, table assignments, some bud vases on the main tables and bar, and a little collage of photos we had taken throughout the years. This required WAY less planning, organizing, and ultimately caused less stress. REMEMBER: the majority of the people attending your wedding are NOT going to care how it looks. They just want to spend time with you and celebrate your love. If people judge you, that reflects poorly on their life, not on yours. Eff 'em!
5. ASK/PAY FOR HELP
I guarantee you have friends who are musicians, artists, master crafters, and master organizers. All of those will come in handy as you plan your wedding. Don’t feel weird about asking them to help because chances are they will want to be part of your special day. Here’s what we got help with:
Graphic Design: I am fortunate that one of my best friends in the whole world also happens to be a very talented graphic designer (check her out here). She was a freaking ROCK STAR at putting together programs, menus, hand painting signs and escort cards, and giving me general design direction. She’s brilliant.
Photography: One of my other good friends (Ahlia Photo) took flippin' gorgeous engagement shots and was a second shooter at our wedding (we wanted her to be able to party with us so we asked her not to take photos after the ceremony). It was nice that we didn’t have to stand around awkwardly with a photographer we weren't familiar with and be the center of attention. Since we love her (and she’s one of the most zen people around) she helped keep us calm and relaxed throughout the process.
Music: We used an iPod to DJ our wedding (it guaranteed we wouldn’t have to do the chicken dance or the cupid shuffle and saved us about 1k). Some of our friends helped us pick out songs and pressed “play” for big moments like our first dance (so much pressure!). She nailed it and we are eternally grateful to her that there wasn’t a long silence before we awkwardly danced in front of everyone we love.
Bridesmaid Dresses: In order to make my life easier, I sent my bridesmaids a paint swatch with the color dress I wanted them to wear and they all picked out their own. That took the pressure off me to find a dress that fit everyone’s body and budget. Pro-tip: send this color early and make sure you have a deadline 2 months before you actually want everyone to have their dress.
Wedding Coordinating: We also hired a day-of wedding planner. She helped corral the deliveries, caterers, wait staff, photographers, family, bartenders, handed out tips at the end of the night, packed up all our decorations, etc. (pro-tip, if a coordinator says her assistant will be running your wedding, make sure you meet with that assistant to see if it's a good fit before you sign a contract). She made sure the night ran smoothly so that my husband and I didn’t have to worry about any of that.
I wouldn't recommend the company we used, but if you’re looking for someone fantastic in the Denver area, I recommend Courtney at The Day Of. I’ve worked with her on other events (she was a guest at our wedding so she didn’t do coordinating for us that day) and she is a bundle of professional, organized, joy and really has her shit together (like gives everyone working on your wedding a schedule broken down into 5-15 minute increments so everything runs well).
6. It doesn't need to be perfect, it just needs to be yours
Your wedding does not need to be Pinterest perfect. I repeat, your wedding does not need to be Pinterest perfect. Practice letting go of this weird societal pressure to have an elaborate, expensive looking wedding and embrace what’s important… that you and your partner are making vows to love and support each other for the rest of your lives, surrounded by people who have always been there for you. Try to plan something that feels authentic to who you are as a couple because that will make decisions a lot easier.
I strongly suggest you make a list of the things that are most important to you about a wedding. This isn’t a list with “my flowers are gorgeous.” This list should include the spiritual components of your wedding like:
-marrying my best friend
-being surrounded by people I love
-dancing and having fun
Keep this list handy at all times. If you start getting wrapped up in the materialistic components of wedding planning, look at your list. Take some deep breaths. Close your eyes and imagine yourself having a blast doing all the things that are on there. That’s what matters.
7. Before you start planning, get stress reduction action plan together.
Stress can be a huge trigger for many of us with autoimmune disease. Check in with yourself regularly. If you find you’re feeling overwhelmed (which, like 99.9% of you will be at some point during the planning process), follow the action plan you set up for yourself before you start doing anything else. Those actions can include:
-taking a mental health day from work (if you are privileged enough to be able to do that)
-take a bath
-go on a walk
-cook a delicious meal
-hug someone (get their consent first….)
… or anything else that calms you down and brings you joy. Many cities have donation-based yoga and meditation classes if you can’t afford (me!) a regular membership or a $15-$20 drop-in fee.
That’s it! Those are the things I learned from planning my wedding with an autoimmune disease. It’s hard to balance your health and planning for one of the biggest events of your life, but I have the utmost faith that you’ll be able to pull this off. Keep your chin up!
I’m finding it hard to make social plans because my energy is so unpredictable, and it’s usually lower than I expect at some point during the day. I’ve just been avoiding making any plans at all, for fear of needing to cancel - which was happening a lot. I also don’t know how to make new friends for the same reason...how do you ever make plans without explaining what you’re going through? I’m a private person and don’t want to share my diagnosis as the reason I’m not like everyone else right now.
Dear Seeking a Social Life,
I can totally relate. I wouldn't leave the house when I was first diagnosed with my autoimmune disease. I never knew when I would go into what I call "zombie" mode with glazed over eyes and trouble keeping up with conversation. Here are a few things I've implemented to help me stay social and make new friends:
1. Meet with a nutritionist and functional doctor to start feeling better
I was on the Autoimmune Paleo Diet for close to three months before I started seeing my healthcare practitioners. They were impressed that I knew so much about leaky gut and surprised to find my inflammation and antibodies were still quite high. I stayed on the diet a while longer but my fatigue and bloating weren't going away. We decided to test for SIBO and that has been the single most beneficial thing I've done since starting my healing journey. Kicking SIBO's butt helped me get my energy back and allowed me to start hanging out with my friends again. I'm not saying you have SIBO, but if you're feeling chronically fatigued a functional doc and nutritionist can help you get to the root cause.
2. Be honest with people about where you're at
I know you said you're uncomfortable sharing your personal life with people. Part of creating deep, honest friendships is being vulnerable with others and sharing our gloomy parts. Your friends are less likely to be pissed about your last minute cancellation if you say something along the lines of "I really want to hang out with you, but my autoimmune disease is kicking my ass today. Would it be possible for us to reschedule?" or "Hey, I know I've been canceling our plans a lot lately. I would love to hang out with you but I'm really struggling to find energy to leave the house today. Would you be down to watch a movie on the couch with me and drink tea?" If you have cool friends, they aren't going to pitch a fit about how unreliable you are. They'll understand that you're struggling and want to be there for you.
3. Connect with others who have autoimmune diseases
You know you'll have things in common, right? I've used Instagram and Facebook as a way to make new friends who understand my struggle. I started by joining an Autoimmune Paleo Facebook Support Group in Denver. See if there's one in your area by going to the Autoimmune Community page on Autoimmune Wellness. My local chapter plans monthly potlucks. If you don't see a support group in your city, consider creating one. I've also connected with several people interested in holistic health by sending them a message on Instagram. I've met with a couple people for coffee and picked up the phone to chat with people across the country. One of them has been my go-to gal with all things related to Candida. I'll never forget when I texted her to see if she suffered from "itching" and she's like "are you talking girl parts?" YES, YES I WAS TALKING GIRL PARTS! Thank god I didn't have to explain that to her. Now we text all the time about business, blogging and nutrition.
4. Get over needing to please people
I understand not wanting to cancel on people, I truly do. I get stressed about the stress I know comes with doing things that overwhelm me, and then about how people will feel when I cancel on them. It can get so bad that I end up sobbing and feeling sorry for myself. Why didn't I just say no to begin with? Because I wanted people to feel like I was a good friend or that I was normal. Guess what? I don't identify as normal. I'm a 30-year-old woman who shows up to the party with kombucha and goes to bed before most 5th graders. How 'bout them apples?
I love the saying "you can't pour from an empty cup." If you want to be a good friend to others you have to start by being a good friend to your body. Listen to it! Draw it baths, give it supplements, feed it nourishing meals, and sleep when it asks you to sleep. Part of healing our autoimmune disease is softening our approach towards ourselves, accepting where we're at on our journey, and putting our healing first. If people don't want to invite you places because of that, fuck 'em. I promise you'll find your people. Start by taking care of yourself and shifting your mindset. You've got this.