Eczema Diet, Food Obsession, & Mental Health

You Are Strong
I wanted to write this blog because I think it’s so important to start replacing negative thoughts related to food with uplifting ones that promote healing. The eczema diet can be tricky because of its nature of being an elimination diet. When you have to continue the elimination diet for months it can start getting you into a headspace of overthinking. You may even develop a food phobia where you are afraid of foods causing you pain. I want to begin by telling you that this is very normal. The first step to changing these beliefs is to acknowledge them fully. I want you to write down all of the food fears you are tossing around your mind at this time.

Examples:
”I am afraid that if I love eating too much I might get carried away and eat the wrong foods out of excitement”
”My fear is that I will never love vegetables”
”Every food I eat makes me afraid that my skin will react”

Next Step
From there our goal is to rewrite those fears into mantras you can repeat in your head to replace the fears. Let me show you how to do this with the first example. You can try to rethink that fear but thinking “I am excited about my skin healing so I am conscious of my eating habits.” If that still feels too restrictive for you then try “I love my body and mistakes are okay.” Now you try! Grab your journal and try this exercise.

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The Mental Aspect of Healing
Stress is a massive contributor to leaky gut. Leaky gut means that you have intestinal permeability. That means that there are micro holes in your gut lining which let food particles and bacteria into your blood stream causing immune system issues. Leaky gut can be caused by gluten, dairy, refined sugar, bad bacteria, and STRESS.

Whether this stress comes from school, family, work, or food fears doesn’t matter. Stress is stress and we need to get your mind in a positive position.

Stress Reducing Methods
This might sound strange but I figured out a visual representation of how my mind feels when I am overwhelmed. Image a thin flame in the air but with a wall to the left and the right of it. For me the flame represents my inner love. (See image below). In the second image you see smoke around the flame. Imagine that the smoke is the stress and chaos in your mind. Breathe in and let all of your bad thoughts into the room. When you breathe out imagine all the smoke leaving the room (image 3). If you still feel the bad energy keep filling and releasing the room of smoke until your inner love can breathe.

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Another way to reduce stress about food is to seek help. My friend recommended listening to a podcast called Dear Body by Jessi Jean where she teaches you how to battle food obsession and rewire your brain. One thing she mentions is being present with your food when you eat so that it becomes more satisfying. If you are anything like me than you may have eczema because of your sugar addiction and overeating habits. This method works really nicely for people who have similar issues. You will lose the feeling of lack and have less of an urge to overeat.

My last piece of advice is to eat with people you love. Chose someone who is won’t judge you for your limited diet but makes you feel great just for being there. Creating a support system is amazing.

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Last Words
Healing is beautiful and food is powerful. Your health is number one. You will have to discover your balance between eating habits and stress levels. Be sure you are eating enough and most importantly give yourself love.

Good luck healing, my friends!

Chana Masala (Eczema Friendly) Recipe

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INGREDIENTS:
1 c of dry basmati rice
1 c of chickpeas
1/2 c chopped white/yellow onion
2 tbsp avocado oil (sub for algae oil or olive oil)
1/2 jar of Mom’s tomato sauce

Pinch of fresh cilantro (optional)

Seasoning:

1 tbsp coriander

1/2 tbsp cardamom

1/2 tbsp black pepper

1 tsp fennel seed

1 tsp mustard

1 tsp clove

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Follow box directions for making basmati rice. Cook, and put to the side for later.

  2. Chop the onions, heat a pan on medium and add the avocado oil. When the oil heats up, add onions and tomato sauce.

  3. When the onions look more transparent, transfer mixture into a blender and blend until smooth

  4. Return this to the pan and continue cooking on medium heat. Meanwhile rinse the chickpeas and remove their soft shell (optional). Add them to the mixture

  5. Add seasoning, 1 cup of water, and cook for 15 minutes. Optional: Pour contents back into the blender and mince until chickpeas are smaller (watch video below)

  6. Put back onto the stove and cook until desired thickness after water cooks off.

  7. Heat the rice in the microwave, plate it, pour the Chana Masala over the rice, top with cilantro, and serve!

Note: Add some seasoning, taste test, then add more. Everyone likes more or less spices

Paleo Spaghetti & Bison Meatballs

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INGREDIENTS:

Meatballs:
1 lb of ground bison
1 c of mushrooms
1/4 c chopped leek
1/4 c chopped green onion
Optional:
Parmela Creamery cashew cheese
1/8 c of chopped spinach

Spaghetti:
1 package kelp noodles
1/2 jar of Mom’s tomato sauce
3 tbsp baking soda
1/4 c vinegar or lemon juice

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Put ground bison in a bowl and mash with a spatula, then preheat oven to 350

  2. Finely chop the mushrooms, green onion & leek, then stir it into the ground bison

  3. Once combined, oil a baking sheet with 1 tbsp of coconut oil

  4. Roll about 2 tbsps of the meatball mixture into your hands and place onto the pan

  5. Cook the meatballs for 15 minutes

  6. Check to see in they are done by slicing one open with a knife and checking for red

PART 2

  1. Rinse kelp noodles and put them into a bowl

  2. Pour the baking soda and acid (vinegar or lemon juice) into the bowl and stir into the noodles

  3. The noodles should make a sizzle sound and that means they are processing. Check on them in 10 minutes to see if they are softer.

  4. Rinse the baking soda and acid off the noodles

  5. Mix in the tomato sauce and top with meatballs

  6. Enjoy!

Traveling Miami with Food Allergies

Introduction

Sometimes it can be challenging to travel when you have food allergies. This is the first blog in Traveling with Food Allergies Series. I hope this can inspire you to travel and help you leave your food fears at home.

I have an autoimmune disorder called atopic dermatitis aka eczema. I was able to reverse it using diet and lifestyle. Part of this is consistently avoid what I call FREDG foods. This stands for fried foods, refined sugar, eggs, dairy and gluten. These food avoidances make eating while traveling a bit challenging. Don’t fear, though, I have figured it all out!

If you live in a country that has Whole Foods then you are in luck. My biggest tip is to stay in a hotel or AirBnB within minutes of a health food store with a good “bar” food. That means that there are typically sections of health food stores with hot food or salad making stations. I typically get the same things when I eat at places like this.

Items I look for:
Cooked white basmati rice (found in pressure cookers near the hot bar in Whole Foods)
No salt added, wild caught sardines, salmon, or low mercury tuna found in the canned meat section
Make my own salad with chickpeas, carrots, cabbage, greens, celery, and/or beets
Avocados
Rice cakes (Lundberg brand)
Naked Beet Chips by Rhythm Superfoods
Siete tortillas or chips
Free range chicken breast by Urban Remedy (San Diego, CA)
Roasted sweet potatoes or butternut squash (cooked in olive oil not canola oil)

Another of my biggest tips is to go on google or HappyCow.com and look for raw vegan restaurants in the area you are in. The majority of raw vegan restaurants are gluten free & refined sugar free. You can count on them being dairy free and egg free for sure.


Miami

Trip Overview:

My boyfriend and I flew into Ft Lauderdale (1 hour North of Miami) because we took a cheap airline called Allegiant. We took the Brightline Train into downtown Miami from there which is a beautiful, affordable means of transportation. Instead of renting a car we used Uber and Lyft to get around. We stayed in Biscayne Park but traveled into the main attractions of Miami like Downtown, Coconut Grove, and Miami Beach. We mostly ate at Whole Foods, Choices Cafe, and occasionally sushi restaurants.

Where I stayed:
https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/24209328?source_impression_id=p3_1560383507_KC8GwTXbEWXjMwTg

I stayed in Biscayne Park in a little AirBnB which is located in North Miami. There is a Whole Foods less than 10 minutes away by car. I don’t recommend walking this area. Some neighborhoods are safe but others can make you feel uneasy. There are a couple of beaches within 15-20 minutes of that area. What I wish I did differently was stay in an AirBnb in Coconut Grove (South of Downtown Miami).

Where I ate:
https://choicescafe.com/home/menu/

I took this trip with my boyfriend and we found Choices Cafe in Coconut Grove to be our holy grail. We became obsessed with the gluten free pancakes with cashew cheese and blueberries. (Seriously order those!) If you have an intolerance to soy then I recommend chatting with the very friendly staff there about this allergy because I know that the cashew cheese probably contains soy. We were also able to order a bowl (featured below) which had black beans, avocado, cashew cheese, tahini sauce, plantains, and greens. The staff here is incredible and really helpful! Keep in mind that this is a vegan restaurant so your choices of sweetener will be agave or maple syrup. Sorry, no honey this time. The majority of the time we only felt safe making our own food. This is why our AirBnB was great because we had a full kitchen. My boyfriend always brings his steamer on trips so we can throw our dinner in there, steam for 20 minutes, and eat!

There is also a Fresh Market not a far walk away. We wish that we stayed in Coconut Grove to be closer to these stores. Not only that but you can take the train from there into downtown which has a Whole Foods.

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Mistakes

I ended up making the mistake of eating at a sushi restaurant on one of the main roads in Downtown Miami. I say it was a mistake because I am usually a good judge of restaurants. I can usually tell if they have clean ingredients and seem willing to help out with allergies. I had ordered a roll without tempura flakes (gluten & fried) and expressed my allergy to gluten. Without knowing I ended up eating two pieces of that roll which I realized, horrified. that it still had tempura flakes in it. We ended up getting our meal for free after expressing that the roll was wrong and included an ingredient that I was allergic to. While the restaurant was kind enough to do this, it still scared me that someone with celiac could have came there and eaten and had a serious issue after eating there.

Good luck with your travels, friends!

Say Goodbye to Sunburn

Introduction

I cannot believe I stubbled upon one of the coolest discoveries of my life. My story goes very similarly to most people who write about sunburn. I naturally have a lighter skin tone because of my Irish heritage. Most summers I have a massive burn from a trip to the beach that ends up turning into a light tan but mostly peels off. I am a stubborn individual that refuses to believe that there isn’t a fix to this yearly burn. I have had burns so bad that I developed a few moles with black dots in them that are potentially cancerous. Thankfully my diet has kept me safe and reversed those issues a few times.

Research

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Go check out my previous blog “Battle Sunburn Naturally” to understand how this all started. I had gone on vacation for 2 days to a beach and ended up with lobster red skin on my face, shoulders, chest, and back. I have tried time and time again to understand how to protect my body from harmful rays. Some of my research led me down an unsuccessful path to find products to increase the amount of melanin my body produces. After digging and digging I tried a new approach. Now, I swear I have no idea how I stumbled upon this one but I discovered a supplement called polypodium leucotomos which is primarily an extract of a fern found in Central America. After reading this research paper, I was skeptical but willing to try it. This paper explains that if an adult takes this supplement twice a day for 60 days then it prevents sunburn. Sounds strange, I know.

Results

I cannot believe how well this worked. Honestly, I am giddy every time I go into the sun now. Two weeks after taking this supplement I went to Florida with my mom on vacation. I kid you not I had no burn in sight. I only got a little bronzed. My mom, however, ended up with a pretty nasty burn on most of her body that is still bothering her weeks later. Some time after this trip, I made another trip to Miami, Florida. If you don’t know about Florida, let me tell you, it is one of the hottest places in the USA. It is easy to burn and end up with skin cancer after living in this state. Guess what friends, still no burns. My boyfriend with a much darker skin tone than me even burned after this trip.

I don’t know the long term affects of taking this supplement so stay tuned as I keep using it during America’s hot seasons this year. If you are interested in purchasing check out this link.

Get Saucy! Eczema Friendly Sauces

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All the sauces you will learn about are gluten free, vegan, refined sugar free and inflammatory oil free. How does it get better than that? When you are healing autoimmune disorders it’s important to stay away from foods that cause inflammation. I created the acronym FREDG to address which foods to avoid. Fried foods, Refined sugar, Eggs, Dairy and Gluten.

KETCHUP

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Primal Kitchen Ketchup

This ketchup is a perfect replacement void of toxic coloring and sugar. This isn’t safe until stage 3 though so be careful. Tomatoes aren’t my favorite food because they are nightshade vegetables. These can be inflammatory so this should enjoyed in moderation.

Ingredients:
Organic Tomato Concentrate, Organic Balsamic, Less than 2% of Salt, Organic Onion Powder, Organic Garlic Powder, Organic Spices



MAYO

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Sir Kensington’s Fabanaise

Who doesn’t love dip?! I use this eczema safe mayo to create amazing dips for my sweet potato fries, tortilla chips, or even broccoli florets. One of my favorite dips to create is to mix 1 tbsp of the Primal Kitchen Ketchup with 3 tbsp of mayo. When you heal your eczema you can add some chili powder to create a spicy mayo like you find in Japanese restaurants. The mayo itself is safe for stage 2 and forward.


SPICY STUFF

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The New Primal Buffalo Sauce

Delicious and spicy! While not okay for the early stages of healing you can get away with making buffalo cauliflower with this sauce in stage 3! What an awesome snack.

Siete Hot Sauce

With four different flavors you can never get bored of this hot sauce! Spicy foods are high in salicylates so please use this in moderation. Try using milk thistle to manage your liver health if you are wanting to eat spicy foods.


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Coconut Aminos

Do you miss soy sauce? Soy sauce typically contains wheat (gluten) and way too much sodium. This is a great alternative. It does taste sweeter than typically soy sauce but after a while you will be dipping your sushi in this. This is safe for stage 2 and forward.


SAUCES ARE FUN

Healing eczema can be difficult. The eczema healing diet can be boring. These sauces can help you spice up your food. If you are in stage 1, be patient. Keep healing and keep up your spirits!

Best of luck friends.

xo xo Michelle

Battle Sunburn Naturally

Let’s work with nature. Let’s learn to heal with it rather than against it.
— Michelle
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How I Got Burnt

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I recently went to the beach with my boyfriend and had a wonderful weekend. However, I thought I was invincible. I am one of those people that rarely trusts brands and since learning how toxic sunscreen is I decided to go without it. Boy, was I mistaken. I ended up with pretty burnt shoulders, chest, and face.

Still being just as stubborn as not wearing sunscreen I decided to develop my own sunburn relief routine. I will have to say I have been quite successful. My roommate (after 1 day) told me “Wow! You look so much better than yesterday, you look tanned and glowing.”


The Routine

I have been rotating between a bunch of different products. I created an apple cider vinegar solution: 2 tbsp acv, 1 cup water, peppermint essential oil, lavender essential oil. I apply this to bare skin. Then I switch between two other options. I created a bentonite clay mask by mixing the powder with water. I left this on my face nearly all day and by night I was tanned instead of burnt. I am not sure if you can tell how much more red my skin was underneath the clay mask (left photo) vs how it looked hours later but it sure felt better! On the rest of my body I used vitamin E oil mixed with chamomile essential oil. That night I switched. It is a long strange process but it seemed to really work.

Another thing you can do is use diet to heal the skin with antioxidants. Specifically astaxanthin found in salmon! I did eat salmon during for dinner the first day of healing so that might have helped too!

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Creating Homemade Sunscreen

Sunscreens are some of the most toxic products on the market because most of them contain oxybenzone. This substance is no good for your health. The primary ingredient that blocks harmful UV rays is called zinc oxide. I decided that instead of trusting other companies to provide me a safe sunscreen I would try making some myself. I ordered some from Amazon and am starting to experiment. My current combination is zinc oxide, vitamin E, and chamomile essential oil. I don’t have the ratios right yet because it leaves a terrible white cast. I will need to research how much zinc oxide I need to provide protection from the rays.


Prevention

Of course using a homemade sunscreen is a great idea when preventing sunburn but I have an additional idea! I purchased an antioxidant called polypodium leucotomos which research shows can prevent sunburn. You are supposed to take one 240mg supplement twice a day and by 60 days you should be able to fight off sun damage. I will let you know how this adventure goes!

Eczema Friendly Snacks

It can be frustrating to eat to heal eczema. It can be plain boring some times. While I want to encourage you all not to over-snack or over-eat as it makes eczema worse (see this video) I wanted provide some snacks you can eat. I highly encourage you to eat them in moderation so your eczema will not flare.

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Featured above are Siren Protein Bites which are pretty new! They are only really stage 3 friendly but they are sure tasty! My favorite are the lemon poppyseed and of course the cookie dough ones.


Snack Puffs


Paleo Puffs

This flavor is eczema friendly because it is not actually cheese! These are super fun and crunchy. They are a little bit addictive so be careful. You might be able to get away with a few in stage 1 but I suggest waiting until stage 2. These are even a great snack for kids as a healthy grain free option.

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Sweet Potato Puffs

This brand provides alternative chip options. I like that they don’t use damaging oils like canola oil or safflower oil to make their products. I am not the biggest fan of nightshade vegetables like simple potatoes (white potatoes, purple potatoes) but I am a huge fan of sweet potatoes which are actually not a nightshade. Sweet potatoes are a root vegetable high in vitamin A.


Protein Bars


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Collagen Bars 

These collagen bars by bulletproof are delicious with a fun crumby texture. I will say these are not the cleanest products I have ever come across but the benefit could potentially out weigh the bad. Because these bars contain collagen they are actually helping your body heal. Do not over consume these. One or two a week should be your limit. They come in many flavors but stick to the vanilla and fudge ones if you are in stage 1 or 2. Once you make it to stage 3 you can have the other fun flavors.


Garden of Life Bars

I am a huge fan of Garden of Life but they recently got sold to Nestle. As the years progress we should watch to see if the ingredients change. For now, I still enjoy these bars a lot. They are safe for stage 2 and up. They have a chocolate coating on them and are absolutely delicious. Limit to two per week.

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These are some really fun goodies to eat. I will probably end up making a part 2 or even making this a blog series. Stay tuned!

Remember,

Enjoy in moderation.

Decadent Coconut Dessert

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INGREDIENTS:

Chocolate:
2 tbsp coconut oil 
1 tbsp choc chips
1 tbsp carob powder

Inside of the Cup:
2 tbsp coconut butter
2 tbsp tahini
1/4 tbsp maple syrup
Sprinkle stevia 
3 tbsp gluten free flour

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Melt coconut oil in the microwave

  2. Use the heat of the hot coconut oil to melt the chocolate chips

  3. Stir in the carob powder

  4. Line 3 mini muffin tins

  5. Divide half of this liquid between three mini muffin tins (fill less than halfway)

  6. Freeze

PART 2

  1. Blend or mix together all of the “inside the cup” ingredients to form a dough

  2. Take the chocolate out of the freezer

  3. Make little patties out of the dough so it fits on top of the chocolate with a little room around it so that the two layers of chocolate can connect

  4. Pour remaining chocolate over the patties and freeze

  5. Once it is frozen, enjoy!!!

Gut Healing Super Soup

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INGREDIENTS:
1 cup bone broth
2 cup filtered water
2 cup of cabbage
1.5 cup of beets
0.25 cup leeks
0.5 cup of mushrooms
0.25 cup shaved brussel sprouts
Seasoning: garlic, sea salt, ginger, thyme

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Put bone broth + 1 cup of water in a pan, put on medium heat

  2. Add cabbage and beets (they need to be cooked longest), cook for 7 minutes

  3. Add a second cup of water + leeks, cook for 5 minutes or until cabbage is tender

  4. Add in the seasonings (you choose how much to add based on taste)

  5. Add the rest of the ingredients and cook until all ingredients are heated through

  6. Serve

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Banana Coconut Pie

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INGREDIENTS:

Crust
1/2 c Walnuts
1 tbsp Peanut butter
1/2 tbsp Flax seeds
3 tbsp Coconut oil

Filling
1 Frozen banana
1/4 c Walnuts
1/2 tbsp Flax seeds 
3 tbsp Coconut butter 
1/2 scoop Garden of Life Vanilla Protein powder
1/2 c Vanilla milk
3 tbsp Chocolate chips (optional)

Top Layer
3 tbsp Coconut oil
1/2 c Lilys chocolate chips 

DIRECTIONS:
1. Blend crust ingredients until crumbs, do not over blend.
2. Pack crust onto bottom of serving dish
3. Blend walnuts, coconut butter, flax seeds, and chocolate chips until smooth
4. Add frozen banana, protein powder, and milk
5. Pour on top of crust and put in the freezer for 1 hour
6. Melt chocolate chips and coconut oil for the top layer using the double boiler method. Let it cool for a few minutes
7. Pour chocolate mixture on top of the frozen filling.
8. Freeze for 30 more minutes to let the top layer harden

To serve, let it defrost for 30 minutes

Victory Spice Cookies

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Finally, victory!!! It took me 7 attempts to make the perfect pumpkin spice chocolate chip cookie. They spread like normal cookies, they have the texture of gooey bakery cookies, and they have plenty of flavor. The best part is they are: refined sugar free, egg free, dairy free, (vegan), grain free and gluten free. WOW! It was tough making them. Some of the previous recipes I created were too puffy or too round or too cakey. This is the perfect cookie. All ingredients will be linked so they can be purchased on amazon!

INGREDIENTS:

1 1/2 cups of Red Mill Paleo Baking Flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp ground sea salt
1/2 cup pumpkin puree
1 “Egg Replacer
1 cup sucanat brown sugar
1/4 cup maple syrup
1 tbsp avocado oil (for pan)
1/2 tsp pumpkin spice

DIRECTIONS:
1. Dry ingredients: In a small mixing bowl combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, spice
2. Wet ingredients: In a large mixing bowl combine pumpkin puree, vanilla, egg, sugar, and maple syrup
3. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit
4. Slowly mix in the dry ingredients into the wet
5. “Grease” the baking sheet (pan) with avocado oil
6. Use an ice cream scoop (mine has a scraper) to put the dough onto the pan
7. Bake for 15 minutes (check it at 10 mins, then at 15) cookies should be golden brown with dark brown edges
8. Scream for joy because you made amazing cookies!

Healing Elixir

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Want a magic remedy for just about every sickness? This smoothie is a combination of adaptogenic foods, immune boosting powders, protein, and healthy fats.

1 cup of frozen avocado
1 tsp Greener Grasses (shown below)
1 tsp Mushroom Powder (shown below)
1 tbsp coconut cream
2 cups of plant based unsweetened milk
1/4 cup of coconut milk
1 tsp camu camu powder
1 tsp maca powder
1/2 scoop Garden of Life Protein Powder
1/2 packet vanilla bone broth by Ancient Nutrition

Carob Chip Brownies

Carob is a very interesting cousin of chocolate. It is kind of like berries and chocolate mixed. If you are wanting to cut back on chocolate and slowly replace it with carob (great for people with autoimmune diseases such as eczema, asthma, allergies) then this is a good start. This recipe still uses cocoa powder but the more used to carob you get you get start doing half carob powder half cocoa and then eventually just carob. Here is the carob powder I order off of Amazon. 

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5 Calorie Noodle Hack

How amazing would life be if you could eat pasta without feeling bloated, heavy, and guilty? It can be!! I am literally amazed at the magic of kelp noodles. They are basically sea vegetables you can buy in noodle form. They are super silly when they come out of the package because if you eat them raw (which you can) they are squeaky and crunch in your mouth. That is because they need to be processed with baking soda and lemon to turn into beautiful ramen-like squiggles. Check out the video below to see how to process the kelp noodles. Below that I have a recipe for vegan, gluten-free, cheesy "ramen" noodles.


DELICIOUS CHEESY "RAMEN" NOODLES

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Main Ingredients:
Kelp noodles (can find at Whole Foods)
Grape tomatoes
Spinach

Sauce:
2 tbsp nutritional yeast
1 tbsp gluten-free soy sauce
1 tbsp dijon mustard
1 tbsp water
Mix together all the ingredients in a small bowl

Method:
1. Process the kelp noodles (like the video demonstrates)
2. Create the sauce
3. Plate the noodles
4. Place spinach around the noodles and the grape tomatoes on that
5. Place the sauce on top of the noodles or mix everything together

How to Heal Eczema Fast

December 11th, 2017 I posted a video on YouTube called "How to Reduce your Eczema in 3 Hours" (Shown to the left). I made this video out of frustration with dealing with eczema and wanted to show people what I did to reduce the appearance of it. However, this was 4 days before I developed SEVERE eczema, read tons of books, did tons of research.

I find myself in June 2018 a little nervous about how many people are watching it. The majority of my tips are helpful like wearing cotton gloves to bed to prevent scratching or wearing softer material clothes like satin. I get nervous at the part where I was drinking green tea. I feel that way because down to the cellular level green tea (caffeine) is a compound that makes eczema worse. It is because it creates an imbalanced immune system. This is bad for you because your immune cells can't figure out what is an intruder, hence why you get eczema, your skin thinks it is harmful....which is crazy! Not only do you have to avoid eating harmful foods like gluten dairy and fried foods but once you learn what foods have compounds that affect your immune system it develops into a whole 'nother monster. 

That is the exact reason I want to work, as a health coach, with those with eczema because it is a hard thing to deal with alone. I hope so much that in making this blog post and creating an updated video that people with start to develop a tool-chest for fighting eczema.

So here is my updated new video:

How My Hardest Moments Inspired Me To Become A Health Coach

I have an autoimmune disorder. I fully and holistically healed my eczema, allergies, and slight bouts of asthma through dietary changes. In the process I learned down to the cellular level what was happening to my body so that I could understand how and why it was healing. I developed my own diet that is designed to heal quickly, and it worked for me and has helped others. I went from painful, red, itchy skin to beautiful healing skin in under a month. Here is my eczema story:

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Everyone’s experience with eczema is different. Flare-ups can be a lifelong battle, or you may develop it in adulthood out of seemingly nowhere. For me, my symptoms started when I was a child. While I don’t remember this, my mom told me that on my fourth birthday I was running around with eczema over nearly my whole body. My parents thought I was allergic to oak trees because logically to them I would have little outbreaks of eczema only during the fall. This demonstrates not only how confusing eczema is to the person with it but also to their loved ones. When I was six I was diagnosed with dyshidrotic eczema and was prescribed bactroban, a cortisol topical steroid. In school I remember being so embarrassed by rashes on my hands that would crack and bleed, because the other kids and teachers couldn’t understand why it happened to me.

GRAPHIC CONTENT AHEAD, for those with severe eczema I know you understand. Years later in middle school I had the worst of the worst, and managing my eczema was a daily battle. My legs were absolutely covered. I used to itch them in my sleep which led to oozing bleeding spores all over.I have this very vivid memory of being in gym class and having to change into my gym shorts. I wasn’t a very self-conscious kid so when people would ask me what was on my legs, I would just explain it was eczema. But! During this particular day, I could feel the infected areas oozing down my legs. I couldn’t stand it anymore and I didn’t feel as though other people should have to look at my legs so I changed and sat out of gym class that day. This was also the time in my life that I would wake up with my legs stuck to the sheets waiting for me to peel them off the dried blood and ooze. The only way I knew how to treat this was by applying a topical steroid then wrapping my legs in saran wrap while I slept. It was  incredibly uncomfortable... but worked. I was very lucky to not go through TSW (topical steroid withdrawal) and this is because I used the cream pretty sparingly.

In the years since then I have got a few patches on my legs and arms but flare-ups were always temporary and didn’t cause me much harm. In college I started a paleo-based eating regimen which made my body feel great, and even completed the Whole30 diet in June 2017. Nothing could beat Fall 2017, though, which I am calling “the unravelling of my careful eating.”  I am setting the scene for how most people end up with a horrible eczema flare up:. Poor eating habits + Stress = Eczema. I had just gone through a pretty emotional time in my life and coped the way I usually do, by emotionally eating. We’re talking a pint of ice cream a week, plus eating cheese and bagels and all sorts of things that were very unlike me. Despite recently completing the Whole30 and how good it had felt, I quickly relapsed into bad habits because of how rebellious I felt. In August I made a pretty huge move to another state.

Cue a horrible eczema flare-up. By December of 2017 my flare-up grew from a few patches on my arms to taking over my arms, reaching my hands, and breakouts on my legs. I have honestly never been in more pain in my whole life. The worst part was healthy foods like berries and spinach were causing me the most pain! Through tons of trial and error with what I ate and reading the science behind why my favorite foods were causing me pain, I was able to find foods that allowed me to control my eczema symptoms. By March 2018, I had control over my skin again, and I finally felt like myself! In the end, this flare-up was a huge blessing and I learned so much. In the process of managing my eczema I  started helping a few girls that found my story on the internet and guess what, they healed too. After seeing their skin transform, it dawned on me that I was really helping people. I knew for a fact that becoming a health coach would let me reach more people. I want nothing more than to guide people through transitioning to healthy lifestyles that result in less pain, and more living.

 

Sugar Sugar, oh....Honey Honey

Okay! It is time to break down sugar. Literally. Different sugars break down differently in our bodies. That's what makes certain sugars more or less bad for you. I had originally intended to write one massive blog post on all the sugars but as I researched more and more types of sugar popped up for me to research. So today I am sticking with discussing SUGARCANE 

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Chemistry & Research

So this section of the reading is a little bit more dry than the others but if you need to know the "Whys" behind it all please read it. If you want to know "Whats the point?" Please skip to the section Conclusion

To the left are the chemical make ups of the main types of sugars (not including sugar alcohols and sugar substitutes) 

 

Glucose

"Glucose a simple monosaccharide sugar, is one of the most important carbohydrates and is used as a source of energy in animals and plants. Glucose is one of the main products of photosynthesis and starts respiration. The natural form (D-glucose) is also referred to as dextrose, especially in the food industry." (World of Molecules)

  • Regulates the hormone insulin.

  • Insulin controls two other hormones: ghrelin & leptin which regulate your appetite. 

  • Ghrelin tells your body you are hungry and Leptin tells your body when to stop eating.

  • Ghrelin stops being released when insulin is present telling you that you are not hungry. 

  • Simultaneously leptin kicks in wen insulin is present to tell you that you are full.

Fructose, unlike glucose, doesn't release insulin so therefore it won't signal to your body when you are full. This is why you wonder how you can eat candy bars on candy bars and never feel full.

Insulin helps sugars be absorbed into your bloodstream so without it fructose goes straight to your liver.The liver converts fructose directly into fat or eventually glucose. While glucose spikes blood sugar levels and causes insulin secretions. Since fructose is metabolized in the liver, it is important to not consume too much as it puts much stress on your liver and intestines. 

When fructose is turned into fat, it turns into visceral fat (surrounding your organs) "tummy fat"  Tummy fat is known to cause health problems like type 2 diabetes and heart disease. It is also been found to affect the heart by growing the heart muscle. Do not be confused I will explain all of this! The goal is to not avoid sugar, in fact our brain needs 130g of glucose per day. Our bodies can metabolize small amounts of fructose too. It is when we consume large amounts of these chemicals that there becomes a problem.

Sucrose: 

The chemical bond on glucose and fructose. This takes longer for your body to break down since it requires your small intestine to separate the bond. 

From Sugarcane

The process: Sugarcane is harvested (leaving the base of the plant since sugar cane is a renewable resource and can regrow from the left over base of the stalk.) The harvested plant then is cut into strips and a HUGE roller crushes it which creates a liquidy mess of crushed plant lol. This mess it cleaned up by having the fibers removed from the liquid. It is then chemically clarified (leaving pure sucrose). This liquid then goes into a container to be heated to evaporate liquid until it forms crystals. The crystals are removed from the liquid (1) and dried by being spun in a turbine. What is left is sugar granules. This is the basic explanation but this process varies depending on the type of sugar:


(These are listed in order of how processed they are.)

Sucanat: Reverse a few steps in the process and stop right before the liquid is chemically clarified. Take the strained liquid (when we removed the sugarcane fibers) and we are now going to boil this. From there it is paddled (yes paddled) until the crystals are formed. This results in a chemical makeup of all three: sucrose primarily, glucose, and fructose. This holds some nutrients that sugarcane has.

(1) Molasses: Or (blackstrap molasses) Okay, go back to the original process. When the crystals are removed from the liquid…..that liquid, that’s molasses. It is then left to allow some moisture to leave and what is left is a thick dark syrup. Molasses has some of the nutrients left in it.

Turbinado, Cane Sugar, Sugar in the Raw, Demerara sugar: All the same thing. The name turbinado is derived from the process of drying the crystals using a turbine. It holds some nutrients such as small traces (very small traces, less than sucanat and molasses) of potassium, iron, magnesium, & calcium. Raw cane sugar typically still has some molasses in it which gives it the brown color. This typically has more moisture in it and technically has less calories than white sugar per gram because of the moisture.

 

Basically the whole process described above.  

 

White Granulated Sugar: This is what most people mean when they say the word sugar.

So take the raw cane sugar from the last description and get ready for refinement! They take the raw cane sugar and add a warm syrup to it to dissolve the molasses from it. This is then spun in a turbine again to remove the dissolved molasses and syrup from the sugar crystals. These crystals are removed from the “second molasses” and melted down. It then goes through two more processes which are carbonization and decolorization to make the liquid as pure sucrose as possible. This liquid is then boiled to evaporate the liquid then dried with hot air. What is left, my friends, is white granulated sugar. Even processes for you?

 

Brown Sugar: Combination of molasses and white granulated sugar. The difference between light brown sugar and dark brown sugar is the amount of molasses added to it. The darker, the "better" it is for you. Brown sugar has still been through the complete processing cycle so it contains the harmful chemicals as white sugar does.

 

Okay now I am going to throw you guys through a loop by bringing up Sugarbeets. Over 50% of white granulated sugar in the USA is made from sugarbeets. It goes through basically the same processes except instead of sugarcane, it is beets that are sliced, smashed, and chemically processed. “Some beet sugar brands you might recognize are: Crystal Sugar, Holly Sugar, Western Sugar, Big Chief Sugar, Pioneer Sugar, White Satin, and Spreckels Sugar.” (American Sugar Beet)

Conclusion

All of these sugars typically have an equal amount of sucrose. Which means our body metabolizes each of these equally. If you want to use a cane sugar based sweetener your best bet is Sucanat which contains the most nutrients from the sugarcane and even a little fiber. Your next best bet is molasses. Staying away from the highly processed white granulated sugar and brown sugar is a good idea. Our bodies don't need to consume something so chemically processed. 

Thanks for reading and stay tuned for more information on other sweeteners like honey, coconut sugar, agave, corn syrup and many more. I will be comparing all of these to tell my readers what the best sweeteners are aka the least harmful to our bodies.

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-Michelle Mills

For more follow me on instagram @ pretty_nutritious

Resources:

http://healthland.time.com/2012/02/29/better-than-sugar-5-natural-sweeteners-demystified/

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EP_fgp7zYKk

https://www.worldofmolecules.com/foods/glucose.htm

http://www.sugarindustrybiotechcouncil.org/sugar-beet-faq

http://www.scientificpsychic.com/fitness/artificial-sweeteners.html

https://paleoleap.com/sugar-and-paleo/

https://authoritynutrition.com/6-healthy-sugars-that-can-kill-you/

http://butterbeliever.com/is-honey-really-healthier-than-sugar/

https://www.healthcentral.com/article/the-carbohydrate-brain-fuel-myth

http://naturalsociety.com/newly-discovered-side-effect-of-high-fructose-corn-syrup-is-alarming/

https://acsundergrad.wordpress.com/2013/02/06/high-fructose-corn-syrup-vs-sugar/