Gluten-free does not equal healthy

I got a wonderful and thoughtful question from a blog reader last week, and I thought I’d answer it in a post because I am sure there are a handful of people that are confused about the same thing.

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I know there has been a lot of confusion over the past couple years about gluten free diets and whether or not they are healthy. Let me start by saying I have had my own experience eating gluten free and eating normally over the past few years, and have discovered that, for me, gluten free/paleo-ish is the healthiest way for me to eat for my health, digestion, and mental wellness. BUT, that does not mean that when we eat gluten-free, our diet is automatically healthier.

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One of my blog readers sent me a message last week stating that she saw that I eat gluten free, and that she tried going gluten free herself a few years ago but found that the gluten free breads, pastas, and mixes were all high in carbohydrates from rice and potato flours, and that they weren’t actually healthier. She wanted to know if she was right in thinking this and basically, what the deal is with gluten-free!

I’ll start by saying that this reader is SO smart to pick up on the fact that gluten free products are not healthier than their wheat flour counterparts. Just because a product is labeled gluten free does not mean it is healthier or a better alternative. And frankly, most of the time, it is higher in carbohydrates and sugar than the regular products. All foods are a mix of carbohydrates, protein, fat, and vitamins and minerals, so whether or not it has gluten in it does not change this fact.

Gluten is simply the protein found in wheat, and when people have allergies, they are typically reacting to the protein in a certain food. Gluten free products are substituted (most of the time) with rice flour or potato starch, plus are found to have even more sugar in them to make them taste good. They are still just has high (or higher) in carbohydrates, are often times devoid of fiber, and are still a treat. Gluten free cookies are still cookies, and gluten free pancakes are still pancakes.

 

 My favorite  paleo cookie recipe  from Against all Grain! And I still treat them just like regular cookies; a TREAT to be consumed sometimes. 

My favorite paleo cookie recipe from Against all Grain! And I still treat them just like regular cookies; a TREAT to be consumed sometimes. 

Now, that doesn’t mean that you can’t enjoy these foods. I love gluten free toast from Trader Joe’s and Pamela’s gluten free pancake and baking mix! But these gluten free treats should still be treated as TREATS. They should be eaten just as often as you would eat a regular pancake or regular cookie. Not an everyday food, but a sometimes food.

So be a savvy shopper. Just because something is labeled gluten free doesn’t mean that we can have bowls and bowls of gluten free pasta and still think that’s a “healthy” food choice.

And if you want to go gluten free, the best thing to do is replace your usual breads, pastas, or cookies, with plants. THAT is the healthiest way to go gluten free. So instead of having a hamburger, have a lettuce wrap with an additional side salad. Instead of having a cookie with your salad, have some more vegetables on the side or some fruit.

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And most importantly, if you don’t have negative symptoms from eating gluten, there is no reason for you to go gluten free. Yes, gluten is inflammatory over all, and I don’t think there is any harm in cutting it out (if done right like I mentioned above, with the addition of plants). BUT if you don't experience any negative side effects from consuming gluten, there is no need to cut it from your diet. It won’t automatically make you healthier, especially if you are still consuming gluten free noodles, cookies, pancakes, and more.

I personally gravitate towards a gluten free diet because it helps me with my digestion issues and my anxiety. I even tried to incorporate some back into my diet as recently as last week (kodiak pancakes are a favorite of mine!) and starting feeling those similar symptoms return. For me, I have a clear reaction to consuming gluten, which is why I avoid it unless a food is absolutely worth it (and trust me, it rarely is worth it for me!) But just because I eat a gluten free diet does NOT automatically mean I am healthy. I eat a ton of vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, lean protein, and gluten free grains from time to time, along with those occasional gluten free/paleo treats, and all of that contributes to a healthy diet.

I hope this helps you become more aware of your food choices too and learn to be a detective in the grocery store and not just fall for any marketing that is slapped on our food products nowadays. The more we know, the better we do. And if you all have any more questions, please send them in! I love answering these types of questions I get, so please don’t hesitate!

Have a great Thursday, everyone!

 

 

Friday Favorites & Updates

Hello friends! Long time no chat! It's been exactly a month since I've blogged. I've had every intention of keeping up with this place, but with being a working momma and Emma getting more mobile every day, it's been hard to carve out time to consistently blog. It's still such as passion of mine though, so I promise to be more consistent! Anything YOU all would like to see more of in this space? I'd appreciate any ideas in the comments below!

I thought I'd share a few of my favorite things that have been on my heart and mind this past month...starting with the best cake smash ever!

1. Emma's cake smash.

Emma thoroughly enjoyed her cake on her first birthday! It was a simple white cake with vanilla frosting and we let her go at it for a couple minutes and then swiftly took it away.

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And yes, it was a full sugar, full flour, totally regular cake. I didn't make anything sugar-free or organic or anything like that because the truth of the matter is (from the research I've done and children I've worked with), when you restrict a child, they are even more likely to rebel and do things that you don't want them to do. She eats healthy vegetables, proteins, and whole grains 99% of the time and I want her to have a healthy relationship towards treats from the very beginning; starting with the fact that treats are "sometimes" foods, and not "everyday foods" and that it's ok to have a treat on your birthday, then move on with your life.

2. Birthday trip to Disneyland

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We took Emma to Disneyland the Monday after her birthday and we had a BLAST! She slept for the first two hours which gave my hubby and I sweet time to walk around, grab coffee, and reminisce about our days at Disneyland when we were dating and just married. Disneyland holds a special place in my heart, and now it's even more special to be able to enjoy it with my little tribe!

3. Being Brave

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I grabbed this book on a whim at Target and I am so glad I did. Almost every devotional, Bible verse, or motivational quote I've read lately has been on the concept of being brave. Think God is trying to tell me something? All that to say, I highly recommend this book!

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4. Cauliflower gnocchi from Trader Joe's.

This stuff has been blowing up my Instagram feed for weeks, so I finally decided to give in and try it. Oh. My. Gosh. WE LOVED IT! Even my husband who needs meat with practically every meal, thoroughly enjoyed this. We used a pesto cream sauce (literally combined a 1/2 cup lite Alfredo with 1 tsp of pesto and mixed it well). Such a good meal and I'll be definitely grabbing a few bags next time I hit up TJ's!

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5. Kodiak Cakes.

A box of these protein pancakes have been sitting in my pantry for a couple weeks. I finally made them and they were SO good! And all you do is mix the mix with water, so easy! I added a dash of cinnamon to the batter too, because cinnamon. These complemented my spinach scramble nicely and kept me full for quite a while! I highly recommend!

 

I hope you all have had a great week and can pick at least 5 things you are grateful for and are "favorites" in your life! It's always good to have a positive mindset and look for the joy and blessings in our life verses only focusing on what may be stressing us out! Have a great weekend and blessed Mother's Day to all you mommas out there! Not gonne lie, we are rockstars!

Focusing on the FEELING of Healthy Living

Many of us need to find a certain motivation to help us stick to healthy lifestyle. What helps some people is the scale, size of your jeans, an accountability buddy, or looking good for an upcoming event. But, I do believe one of the most powerful motivators is focusing on how you FEEL when you move your body and nourish yourself.

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Numbers don't always tell us the whole truth. Sure, the scale is a pretty good indicator of your relationship with gravity (insert eye roll), but it doesn't tell you anything about how much muscle you've built, how many vegetables you've eaten, or how hard you've worked to get to a place where healthy living is your default.

Lately, what has been motivating me is focusing on how I feel after I choose a nourishing food vs. a not so nourishing food. Or even how I feel just eating one cookie vs. five cookies. Healthy living doesn't have to be all or nothing, but if most of your food choices are fruits, vegetables, healthy fats, and good sources of protein, the rest falls into place. The occasional treats take care of themselves, and you will FEEL healthy, strong, and energetic.

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So if you aren't seeing the progress you'd like to on the scale, or can't fit into that favorite pair of jeans quite yet, focus on how you FEEL after a day of healthy eating and moving your body. Write down what comes to your mind to remind yourself of how PROUD you are of your efforts. And let that be enough, because trust me, that feeling can carry you through the times when you want to go off the trails, and the way you feel BECAUSE of your healthy choices can help you go from one good decision to the next!

Set Goals to Grow

It's the beginning of a new month...and you know what that means. It's time to set some goals and dream big for the new month. You can really set goals any time and any day, but there is just something about the freshness of a new month that makes it seem like anything is possible.

I get asked VERY frequently about how I stay motivated, how I set goals, and how I actually achieve them. To be honest, I am a natural list and goal maker. I love making lists and dreaming big, then crossing things off. But I do believe that you can work at becoming this type of person too, even if it is not your natural inclination. You just have to find a way that works for you!

Because the reality is, if you aren't setting goals and working towards them, you aren't growing as a person, which is SO important. We should always be transforming and learning and growing into the person God has created us to be. My mom always says, "there is no destination in life when you are finally done and 'mastered' at something, it's all about the journey." She's a teacher, so it makes sense that she would instill in me that the journey is where all the learning happens. Much of the time, the goal is not as important as the person you BECOME while on the journey to achieving that goal.

If you need help getting started on goal setting, read this post I wrote at the beginning of the year. You can set goals for different areas in your life and focus down your priorities in this way. But what I'm trying to get at here is that if you want to grow as a person, goal setting is crucial, and stretching and growing yourself every day is exciting and empowering.

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I heard this quote this morning and it really fired me up: "a rubber band is useless unless it is stretched." I don't want to be useless in this life of mine. God has given me potential, just like He has given YOU all potential as well. So don't sit back on the sidelines of your life. Make things happen, go after your goals, whether they are career-focused, health-focused, financially-focused, or really anything!

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And most importantly, once you vision and dream up your goals, WRITE THEM DOWN. Writing down your goals is soooooo powerful. Research shows that you are more likely to achieve your goals if you write them down. And that means more growth, more empowerment, and more confidence being instilled in you that you actually CAN achieve what you set out to do.

What are some of your goals for this new month? In what areas do you want to grow and stretch? Start dreaming big and thinking OUTSIDE of the box, because you were made for MORE, and God has a lot in store for you! If you've wanted to get healthy, start now! (and I can help!). If you want to save money, make a budget and set goals for how much you want to save each month. If you want to get a promotion, meet with your boss and ask what you can start doing now to set yourself up for your dream job. If you want to write a book, write tpday, even if it is just ONE page...just get started! Whatever it is, set your goals and dreams, write them down, then watch the person you become while on the journey to achieving those goals. Trust me, it's SO worth it to live a life of growth and living into the person God created you to be!

Day in the Life of a Grace-filled Mommy

Well hello there! I hope you all are having a great start to your week. Emma and I have had a crazy but oh so wonderful day, so I thought I’d share with the hopes of inspiring other Mommas out there too! 

Our day started out pretty normal, I woke up, spent time with Jesus, worked out and showered. Then Emma woke up, we nursed, then came downstairs for play time/coffee time for Mommy. 

 Yes, I wore Christmas socks today. Because they make me happy. And happiness is a good, good thing. 

Yes, I wore Christmas socks today. Because they make me happy. And happiness is a good, good thing. 

Emma has been LOVING eating our food lately. Over the weekend, we went out to breakfast and she had my scrambled eggs, hash browns, and gluten free pancakes, for lunch she had beans, rice, and chicken taco meat with salsa, then for dinner she enjoyed our tilapia, rice, and butternut squash. She's been an eating machine and we are loving just giving her food off our plates and watching her explore! This morning she had scrambled eggs and steel cut oats. I had the same, but dressed up my oats a bit to make them like carrot cake oats...shredded carrots, pecans, cinnamon, and coconut oil! 

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We started getting Emma on a routine/schedule in January, and since then she's done beautifully! But, today was just....OFF. She usually goes down for her morning nap around 9/9:15 but it was 10:30 and she was still cranky and awake. So I put her in the car and drove out to meet my nutrition counseling client a bit early, and she knocked out in the car. She slept for our entire session which was PERFECT, then woke up before we headed home.

We got back home after a quick Trader Joe's run, and I meal prepped while Emma snacked on some butternut squash. I made gluten free spaghetti with meat sauce in the instant pot (easiest thing ever...google how!) plus an Armenian casserole dish called Tava...basically a ton of veggies with beef and spices! Hoping all three of us will be enjoying these all week long!

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And then....the crankiness started. 

She seemed sleepy, so we tried for a nap again but that just resulted in big ugly tears (from both of us), so I resorted to some Little Baby Bum on Netflix to calm her down, then some play time in her jumper. Then, we tried for a nap again, and that ended in more tears. So I just nursed her to sleep (which I haven't done in weeks!) and just placed her in her crib at 3:15pm, made myself coffee (yes, at 3:15 in the AFTERNOON, don't judge), and plopped down on the couch.

Even though the day was not going as planned, she gave me some sweet giggles and smiles before finally napping, and that just made my heart explode with joy. I've been worried all day about why she won't sleep, worried about our "schedule" and nursing her to sleep, and wondering if she's in pain. But, God always shows me the joys of motherhood when I start getting exhausted and wonder what I'm doing wrong.

Why isn't she sleeping? Why is she crying? Is she in pain? Gosh, I wish she could tell me what's wrong so I could make it better! My hubby better not get home from work tired because I NEED HIS HELP.

All of these thoughts went through my mind (and possibly in a text to my husband...low point), before she started giggling and smiling at me while playing. And then, my heart melted, and I remembered what a JOY it is to be a mom, even though it is the hardest thing I've ever done.

Unknowns have always been hard for me, and in motherhood, everything becomes a guessing game, and you wonder if you are doing it right or if you are missing some HUGE need your child has. But this is where grace comes in, and I would be a wreck without it! God's grace has been so present with me today, but really, it's always present. But maybe I'm just not present enough to experience it?

God never leaves us, but how many times are we distracted with our anxieties, worries, and chores, that we miss out on His grace, love, and kindness poured out over us? I'll be the first to admit, I'm a multitasking, type A perfectionist, and most of the time I'm thinking about 3-5 things at once. I don't "have time" to bask in God's grace, but His grace is what I need the most. Especially on days like this! So that's what I did today. I took a moment and thanked God for this life, for those sweet smiles and giggles, and for His grace that covers all my frustrations and anxieties. 

After a 1.5 hour nap (hallelujah!), Emma woke up happy as a clam! I had a snack of an apple with some nuts, and then we had some play time!

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She reallllly enjoyed the spaghetti I made and gobbled it up while we ate chicken verde & green beans! 

 

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Excuse the terrible lighting, but the meal was tastier than it looks! Promise! 

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I also had some carrots & hummus while I cleaned up because I still felt a bit hungry. It’s so important to listen to your hunger cues! 

The rest of the night will probably consist of playtime, nursing, bath time, stories, and putting Emma to bed! And then promptly knocking out myself. Every night I tell myself I’ll watch a movie or paint my nails once she sleeps, but I end up wanting sleep above everything else! Any other moms relate??  

Thank you for listening to my banter and revelations about just how much GRACE is needed in this motherhood journey. I hope you can pause today and let God’s grace wash over you, too!   

 

Why I'm not running accountability groups anymore

As many of you know, I am a registered dietitian, but I've also been a Beachbody coach for a few years. I love Beachbody's workout programs, and I can honestly say that the programs are what have helped me get in shape and stay in shape post-baby. At-home workouts are my saving grace as a mom! I get to workout at home, pause when Emma needs me or #momlife gets in the way, then press play and continue on. I've built muscle, gained strength, lost weight, and have gained so much confidence though Beachbody and their programs!

I used to run monthly accountability groups, but I decided that for now, I am pressing pause on these groups. There are a few reasons why, so I though I'd explain a bit in this post to clarify what I am doing and how you can work with me moving forward! 

1. My private practice: In addition to being a Beachbody coach, I have my own private practice as a registered dietitian. My heart and my passion are with this business and my clients that meet with me one-on-one, which is why I have not been running accountability groups lately. I have been pouring into and focusing on my private practice clients, and my heart has been filled with so much joy and fulfillment! Working with these women (mostly moms) has been firing me up to help us moms learn how to self-care though healthy eating and nourishing ourselves. So if you are a mom, I want to help YOU figure out how to care for your family by caring for YOURSELF first! This is what my private sessions with these women are all about! Making it easy for us moms to put ourselves first, pour into our cup, and then pour into our families as better, stronger versions of ourselves. If you want a community to join that will help you feel supported, I am launching the brand new Happy Whole Moms groups on Facebook! Click here to join! 

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2. Individualized meal plans: As a dietitian, I firmly believe that there is no one size fits all when it comes to getting healthy. With my private practice clients, I evaluate where they are in their current health, and make a plan based on their individual goals and needs. I love the freedom and knowledge that I have as a dietitian because I am able to tailor-make a plan for each client that I meet with. While I love the 21 day fix container system (aka portion fix) which is the meal plan Beachbody uses, and have even helped me balance out my own meals, I know that this may not work for everyone! Each person has different dietary needs, sources of motivation, and methods of eating that work well for them. I help my one-on-one clients figure this out for themselves, and with that, they gain a powerful tool in their health journey to ensure success for themselves!

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3. Long term accountability: Lastly, I wanted to provide a way to have long-term accountability with my clients as their personal dietitian. My accountability groups ran for 3-4 weeks, and then many clients fell off the wagon and went back to their own unhealthy habits. My Supercharged Accountability packages that I offer though my private practice services give you 2 or 4 months of accountability with me as your cheerleader, friends, source of nutrition knowledge, and dose of inspiration. I started offering these packages around the new year and already see a difference in the clients that purchased and have been working with me since then. 

All that to say, I am still a Beachbody coach and am more than willing to help guide you and encourage you if you want to pick a workout program and ask questions about what Beachbody has to offer. I am simply no longer running my "virtual bootcamps" aka accountability groups, because my energy and focus has been shifting towards my private practice clients and providing longer term accountability in their health journey. If you want to know more about my private practice services, I am hosting free, 15 minute discovery calls where we can chat and see which of my services would work best for your lifestyle! Contact me here to schedule our call!

I can't wait to get to know more of you out there, work closely with you to help you care for yourself and reach your goals, and watch you THRIVE as a mama!