Healthy Body

An Interview with the ‘Posture Guru of Silicon Valley’

January 8, 2019
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She begins her day with a warm bath. Then, she brushes her teeth while strengthening her gluteus medius muscles (one leg, upper teeth; the other leg, lower teeth), followed by flossing, accomplished while balancing a bean bag on her head. Next, three rounds of sun salutations, followed by foam rolling to mobilize her thoracic spine and L5-S1 juncture. Finally, she takes a big glass of warm lemon water to her Gokhale chair (a chair with soft rubbery nubs on the back that helps to stretch the spine and a seat that gently slopes forward to encourage pelvic tilt while sitting) and makes calls to her team members in India and Germany.

Her name is Esther Gokhale. Her job is to improve the world’s posture.

Years of research in Brazil, India, and Portugal, along with her studies at the Aplomb® Institute in Paris led her to develop the Gokhale Method, a unique, systematic approach to help people find their bodies’ way back to pain-free living. She has taught at some of the world's most powerful corporations (Google, Facebook, IDEO), presented at conferences like TEDx, Weston Price Foundation Conference, and PrimalCon, has consulted trainers of the San Francisco 49ers along with several Stanford sports teams, and has an impressive client list that includes the likes of YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki and Matt Drudge of the Drudge Report. In May 2013, The New York Times gave her the appropriate title of “The Posture Guru of Silicon Valley”.

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I came across Esther as most people do — in pain and after exhausting all resources. Five years ago, I pulled out my back and found that I had a herniated disc. Since then, I’ve sought the help of an orthopedic surgeon, a physical therapist, three chiropractors, and three acupuncturists. Some helped, others didn’t. Whatever I did, inevitably, the pain would come back.

The most recent back-pull occurred the day after Thanksgiving. I was helping my husband move a couch and there it went. A small pang at first, and eventually it grew until every move I made twinged with pain. First, I bawled. Then, I took my usual action. I found a chiropractor and an acupuncturist, and started wearing my "Back Buddy" (a belted bean bag you heat in the microwave) around the house like a little old lady. But somewhere in the process, I realized that by doing so, I was practicing the definition of crazy — doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

And then it hit me: Why is it that I am so quick to take my health into my own hands when it comes to nutrition and wellness, but when it comes to my back and muscles I constantly consult outside help?

Is it possible that there’s something I could proactively be doing to make all this pain go away?

According to Esther, the answer is yes. Esther is not here to massage your muscles, crack your bones, or stick needles into you (though she is certified as an acupuncturist). She doesn’t want you to have to depend on her or anybody on a regular basis to resolve your pain. Her goal is to empower you to take those changes into her own hands. How?

Posture.

Yes, the solution to back pain (and shoulder pain and leg pain) is posture. We, as a modern society, are not doing it right. We’re not sitting right, we’re not standing right, we’re not laying right, and we’re not walking right.

Who is? Ubong tribesmen in Borneo, fishermen in Portugal, brickmakers, carpenters, and mothers in West Africa. Countries that have not been affected by modern conveniences. She has spent years traveling and studying these people who practice perfect posture and who don’t have back pain — even though many of them perform what we would consider to be back-breaking work.

I reached out to Esther on a whim, after attending one of her free live video chat seminars. I had half-heartedly signed up, assuming it would be a sales-pushy presentation (If you sign up today, I'll knock 50% off my e-course!), but hoping to learn something from it. Instead, I found Esther, along with about 20 other attendees live in a group chat. There she was, answering individual peoples' questions about their aches and pains, doing everything she could to assist them on the spot.

This is a daily habit of hers. Helping people for free. Who is this woman? I took a long shot to see if she would be interested in being featured on Healthy Stacey. Not only did she say yes. Esther graciously gave me an hour of her time talking about everything from how to affect our children's posture to the unusual symptoms that result from bad posture (PMS, IBS, hemmheroids – no way!). She even answered a few questions that you, my readers, submitted to me prior to this interview (scroll to the end for those answers). If you really want to understand Esther’s methods, I highly recommend her book, “8 Steps to a Pain-Free Back.” But for a brief peek into Esther’s world, please join me in my interview with “The Posture Guru of Silicon Valley.”

———–

Me: Your book involves some pretty detailed descriptions of how we all can change our posture for the better. As somebody who was in a lot of pain, I impatiently wanted answers right away. For my readers who have not read your book, what is the best metaphor or visual you have for explaining to people how to position themselves on a daily basis?

Esther: Picture a ready position instead of parked position. Or picture the image of a Greek statue or a baby standing. It’s much more athletic and poised.

Me: If you could choose one thing that the majority of people are doing wrong when it comes to their posture, what would it be?

Esther: Swaying their backs because we’ve been encouraged to do that. Tucking their pelvis in is another.

Note: Esther explains her book that we’ve been misdirected when it comes to posture. Most physicians advise that an “S” curve is ideal posture. But Esther’s research shows that a “J” curve is best. It's what you'll see in the people of the aformentioned cultures, as well as in Leonardo Da Vinci drawings and Greek statues.This misinformation has led physians to encourage tucking of the pelvis and to create the bottom of the “S.”

Me: As a new mom, I’ve been following a more natural movement philosophy for my daughter, inspired by the teachings of RIE (don’t sit your kid up; wait until they sit up on their own; don’t help your kid walk; let them walk themselves, etc). What do you suggest we do with our babies and toddlers to help them develop correct posture from day one?

Esther: I think the notion of not supporting your child is not a possibility. You’re holding them and interacting with the material world whether you like it or not. In modern Western society, everybody is…

What’s more important is healthy support rather than unhealthy support. (There are) baby apparatuses that should not exist — the bouncing chairs, the walkers, etc. They put inappropriate pressure on the pelvis and tuck them in.

(Of course), there’s a balance to be struck. They have to go in a car and you want them to be safe. (That said), all the car seats are miserably designed. The emphasis needs to be on (marketers) understanding basic principles. Not just proliferating material stuff for commercial interest.​

Monisha White (Esther's daughter, an intelligent, well-informed woman who works for The Gokhale Method happened to be in the room and stepped in when she heard this question): I went to the ancestral health symposium, and the natural movement philosophy you mentioned is very (in line with) the Gokhale Method. We need to inspire babies to move naturally. Esther always says, you don’t want them to wear shoes. Let their feet learn to develop naturally on their own.  

Same thing with baby bouncers. If they put them in a bouncer, they don’t learn to use their stabilizers. People and parents will play a role. (It’s okay to) give a hand and help them build on their progression…You are going to be supporting them. The floors, the walls, they are all supports.

Me: What are common problems that people suffer from that they would not know are related to bad posture?

Esther: A lot of pelvic floor issues, urinary incontinence, prolapse, bad 'plumbing,' hemorrhoids, doing kegels to hold things up. Digestive issues – IBS, chronic constipation. PMS from having a tucked pelvis, insufficient volume, unnatural blood supply, and insufficient nerve supply for all the pubic organs. Depression. A 2017 study showed a link between depression and posture. Breathing challenges from not having adequate chest architecture.

Me: How do you feel about alternative treatments such as chiropractors? Cupping? Acupuncture? Physical therapy?

Esther: There’s lot of value in a lot of alternative and conventional methods. (But) I think they show up as being very middling in effectiveness for back pain. Let me show you something…

Esther proceeded to take me to a crowdsourcing website called healthoutcome.org. Here, different treatments are rated by people in their effectiveness.

If you look at how effective most treatments are, middling is what I would say. More people say treatment worsened than improved for back exercises. This correlates with studies. Gohkale Method is 4.4 out of 5. What the other approaches are missing is teaching them how to use their bodies. If people do the same things that caused the problems in the first place, why would it work that well? It doesn’t. People are trained with a mindset and a set of tools. They’re not trained to expand beyond. What we represent is a paradigm shift in many ways.

Reader Questions:

Reader: Walking while using a laptop, it’s a thing. That is how the author of Gone Girl spends her day: slow walk on treadmill with raised desk, writing. I did a version, but I got back pain from the slight leaning forward using the laptop. I guess I would ask (what she thinks) about these new ways to introduce activity to these typically sedentary tasks?

Esther: It’s important to take what’s good and not throw out the baby with the bathwater. What’s important to keep is mechanics. Movement is very important. Right now I’m doing Samba. (She literally was Samba dancing while we video chatted :)). That’s very possible with certain tasks. When you’re on the phone, you could be walking around. I think it’s important to take breaks regularly. We’ve designed posture pauses. Waking the body up and challenging it. I think it’s nice to have a variety.

There’s research showing that standing all day causes increased risk of hospitalization due to varicose veins, and fine motor skills and creative thought does not happen as well.  I think it’s important to have variety and physical breaks.

I don’t agree with statements like the “Best position is the rest position.” Or "Sitting is evil." It’s thinking that everything is so bad that we have to keep running away from it. It’s all good if it’s done skillfully and in moderation. You don’t need much, but a good chair is nice. It’s important to sit some. It gives rest. It’s the best position for thinking. Lying down is an underrepresented, healthy position that should be threaded throughout day. You need a variety.

Reader: Do the posture bras really work?? Or what can she recommend?

Esther: In general, support can be helpful if they are used as reminders. It’s fine to use them. It’s limited in how helpful it can be if you’re going to be a passive participant. It can have some downside. The best is if you use it as a reminder and as a safety net. (I don’t have any experience with posture bras), but I'm currently writing a blog post about a back belt. I bought a bunch of them and tested them out.

Keep an eye out for that on Esther's blog.

Reader: How do you maintain healthy standing posture and prevent a sore back when your baby is half the size of you? 

Esther: You learn to carry them on your back. African style with a piece of cloth. It’s some investment, but that is the most important thing I learned in child rearing. I used a cloth.

Reader: I sometimes think my wallet is what causing my back pains… literally my physical wallet and the hump of it I sit on daily… is there truth to this ??

Esther: (There) can be. It’s pressing on the point of departure from the sciatic nerve from the pelvis. If you don’t have that much musculature there, you could be pressing directly where the sciatic nerve exits the pelvis. That can cause sciatic pain because it’s introducing asymmetry. Having a large amount of stuff in your pockets can throw a wrench in what’s a finely tuned structure.

———-

Alrighty! That's all she wrote. What did you think? Did you learn anything new? For me, it's an entirely new way of looking at myself and the world around me. It's the first time that I've expanded my definition of "healthy" beyond food and exercise. I plan to write more on this topic — How should we sit? Stand? Lie? How can we work it into our daily routines? Comment below if you're interested in learning more, or if you have questions you'd like answered.

Much Love,

HealthyStaceySignature

 

 

 

Healthy Mind

Increasing Milk Supply: The Point is Moo

October 28, 2018
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Joey: If he doesn't like you, then this is all just a moo point.

Rachel: Huh. A moo point?

Joey: Yeah, it's like a cow's opinion, you know, it just doesn't matter. It's "moo".

 

Breastfeeding is wonderful for the body, but terrible for the mind…if you struggle with milk supply. We, as moms, are willing to go through crazy lengths for our babies — especially when it comes to nourishing them with the precious (said in the voice of Gollum) breastmilk. But how far is too far? 

I thought I was one of the lucky ones. I’d heard about how hard it can be to breastfeed. Being the paranoid person that I am, I even consulted a lactation consultant before Charley was born just in case I had issues.

But the moment she latched on, I thought, “I did it. I’m a breastfeeding mama! From here on out, it’s smooth sailing.”

PSYCH.

That all changed when I went on a 3 day trip (without Charley) when she was 7 1/2 months. 

Even though I brought three pumps — my electric pump and two handheld pumps for when I was on the go. Even though I dutifully pumped every 3-4 hours at the expense of leaving the fun, and a good night’s sleep. And even though I went so far as to pump in the bathroom bar at the rooftop of the W, only to have a drunk girl walk in on me and a long line of other drunk girls staring me down, wondering why I was hogging the stall for so long…

My supply STILL plummeted.

I got back from my trip, SO excited to hold my girl in my arms again and nurse her to sleep. But to my dismay, the milk would not come. She nursed and nursed and nursed, and finally got very tired of waiting (read: cried and thrashed for 15 minutes), and gave up on me.

I was crushed.

But I was determined not to give up. I would crack the code and get it back. And I was willing to try ANYTHING.

Thus began my dark journey down the “Low Milk Supply” black hole. Here are the 12 things I attempted to get it back up, and the one thing that really worked.

1. Consult a Lactation Consultant

Lactation Consultants are the holy grail of breastfeeding assistance. These women know their stuff and they're amazingly knowledgable…when it comes to early breastfeeding. But when I came to them with my issue, they were kind of stumped. So you've never had a problem before? Nope. And you pumped every 3 hours when you left? Yep. Then it should come back. Just pump more. 

Three different consultants and three variations on the same answer later, I thought I was a lost cause. Overall, not a great experience. It only made me want to take matters into my own hands. Next!

2. Take a nursing vacation

Of all the tips I was given, this one cracks me up the most. A nursing vacation means that you spend the day in bed with your baby, ideally shirtless (for skin-to-skin contact), cuddling and snuggling till your heart is — and your breasts are — full. Maybe this works with a younger, non-crawling baby. MAYBE. But I know few people in this day and age who have the patience (and time) to snuggle all day long. Nonetheless, I tried it. It was cute for about three minutes. And then Charley booked it to the end of the bed and I had to catch her mid-air. After about 12 more tries of this, I gave up. Overall, the whole experience reminded me of when I tried to meditate and only got more anxiety about the fact that I wasn’t relaxing.

3. Pump on one side while she feeds on the other

When you pump on one side, inevitably, milk will come out on the other. So I figured, why don't I just manually pump one boob, while she's nursing on the other, and the milk will come out faster. BRILLIANT…in theory. Yes, it is possible to help her get milk out this way. But when you're trying to pump with one hand, and hold your baby in the other, you realize you have no hands left to keep her from kicking and grabbing the pump. Overall, this was a very stressful experience. Fail.

4. Feed her a bottle, then follow with the breast

Part of the problem with continuing to put in the “demand” for the milk, is that my girl had worn out her patience with waiting for my let-down. After all, for three days, all she got was the bottle from her dad. When I would try to nurse her, she’d get restless after a minute or two when nothing came out — and eventually she’d get REALLY pissed and refuse to take the breast at all. One solution is to start with a bottle (with half of what she needs), and then switch to the breast when she’s less restless. This actually did work to an extent. Not only was she less stressed, but the pressure was also off me to “produce.” The more relaxed I was, the sooner my milk came. I call this a semi-win. It didn't solve the whole problem, and sometimes I think she would get frustrated and confused why there were so many "nipples" coming at her at once and just give up all together. But overall, a good tip to try.

5. Take Rescue Remedy

This is another way of saying RELAX. Too much stress can lead to problems with let-down, a dive in milk supply, and early weaning. Check, check, and check! I felt like I was stuck in this vicious cycle. The less milk I produced, the more I stressed, and the less milk I produced. Enter Rescue Remedy. A blend of flower essences concocted by a doctor to help you deal with stress. This product was a recommendation from a lactation consultant, and though it was on the pricier side, I figured – I can always use something to help me stress less, right? Meh. I'm a big believer in essential oils and herbs for better health, but maybe I needed something a little stronger in this situation. Plus, adding one more thing to my pre-feeding routine ironically stressed me out. Ha.

6. Eat oatmeal (and other galactagogues)

Oh, the oatmeal. I really put the “ish” in Paleo-ish during this oh-so-stressful time. Everybody and their mother will tell you that oatmeal will help with your milk supply. It’s what they call a galactagogue. A food that is meant to increase milk supply. So I ate it. I ate it with flaxseed (also a galactagogue). With brewer’s yeast (galactagoguge). With fennel (galactagoguge). With almonds (galactagogue). I ate it cold. I ate it baked into cookies. Every day. Sometimes two times a day.

Other galactaoguges that I did not put in my oatmeal, but did eat frequently include: dark leafy greens, garlic, chickpeas, nuts and seeds, ginger, papaya, cumin seeds, anise seeds, and turmeric (source).

I never actually measured my output with and without oatmeal, so I can’t say for sure whether it did or did not work. But my guess is that it has more of a placebo effect than an actual effect. It calmed me to make my galactagogues concoction every morning. It made me feel like I had some sort of control over the situation.

7. Drink a Guinness

Ha! I know this should probably be in the galactagogues category, but it was such a rock bottom moment in my milk recession that I had to give it its own number. As you know, I generally follow a Paleo diet. I let things slide here and there, but typically beer is not one of those things. But when your doctor tells you to drink a Guinness and relax, you figure it’s a damn good excuse to drink one. The barley in beer is a polysaccharide — a carbohydrate that stimulates prolactin (that key hormone that stimulates milk production) (source). Not to mention, there’s yeast in beer, which is — surprise! — a galactagogue.  

As soon as I figured this out, I threw Charley in the Ergobaby and marched over to Mariano’s to pick up a case of beer. I called my husband on the way there and told him that we’re drinking Guinness tonight (he was very supportive).

That night, I sat there with my pump sucking the little milk I had left out of me, with a Guinness in one hand and a bowl of oatmeal in the other. Honestly, the whole thing felt weird to me. Alcohol and breastfeeding are not supposed to go hand in hand. And it wasn’t nearly as satisfying as I thought it would be. It seems as though this girl agrees with me.

8. Take Supplements

Just like foods, certain supplements are reported to have a positive effect on your milk supply. The most popular one is fenugreek. Head to Target or any major grocery store and you’ll probably find this or this on the shelves. I bought both of them. And then a lactation consultant told me to watch out for fenugreek because it could also have the opposite effect on milk supply. Are you serious?

I immediately stopped taking them, and looked for alternative options. That's when a friend told me about this store in Chicago that specializes in breastfeeding moms (Ya. A WHOLE store). The nicest woman showed me to the holy grail of supplements called Liquid Gold that so many of her customers “Swear by!” She was the first piece of positive news I’d heard yet. I hung on to her every word when she told of the countless other mamas coming back and thanking her for their large boost in milk supply.

Oh boy! I thought. This is it. This is what’s going to get me back on track. I started taking the recommended two tablets, three times a day, went to their website (hilarious, great marketing), and ordered the other two supplements that they sell — each one a different combination of herbs, intended on working better for different people.

I waited seven days to see a result. And still, no dice. I switched it up to the Pump Princess, hoping this particular concoction would have a better effect on me. Still nothing. Not to mention the fact that I tested my milk while taking these and was appalled by the herby-dirty taste it took on from taking these supplements. I pushed them to the back of my medicine cabinet and hoped they would serve me on the next go-round.

9. Avoid Certain Foods

Just as galactagoues have a reputation for increasing milk supply, other foods have a reputation to decrease it. On that sh*t list is:

  • Parsley
  • Peppermint
  • Spearmint (watch out for Altoids!)
  • Sage
  • Oregano
  • Cabbage leaves (works wonders for engorgement, but obviously avoid if your supply is low)
  • Beer (contradictory to #5, I know).

As somebody who uses herbs liberally in her everyday cooking, I got real simple and stuck to salt and pepper. In addition, I said goodbye to my favorite hummus (sage being one of its ingredients), avoided peppermint tea, and donated the leftover Guinness to my husband. Did this make a difference? Probably not. It just added to my stress level, feeling like I had to constantly watch what I ate.

10. Go to an acupuncturist

I’m a big believer in acupuncture. It has helped me through serious back pain, anxiety, and possibly even improved my fertility. As the practice is meant to improve blood flow, it made sense to me that it could help move other fluid (milk) through my body. Not to mention, acupuncture can also help with anxiety — which I believe was having a big impact on my supply as well.

I walked into my acupuncturist office like a bat out of hell. I was talking a million miles a minute, but I wasn’t saying much. She, of course, stayed completely calm throughout my explanation. And before I knew it, I was lying on her table with pins in my ears, my back, and my shoulders. Within minutes, I entered a tranquil state. I was so relaxed that I convinced myself she must’ve slipped drugs into my waiting room tea. 

I returned back home, dazed and confused, with Chinese medicine and an essential oil tincture in my purse. I was instructed to break the herbal capsules into hot water and drink it as a tea three times a day. The oil, I was to rub on my breasts before breastfeeding.

The results? The acupuncture did indeed help to relax me. And if I could’ve gone regularly, I believe could’ve helped in the long run. But unfortunately, insurance still has not gotten around to covering alternative treatments such as Chinese medicine, so weekly visits were out of the question. I did not notice an increase in my milk supply with the herbs, so my acupuncturist upped the ante and gave me something a little more potent. I took it dutifully three times a day.

Fast forward three weeks after me obsessing over my Chinese tea (I had anxiety if I didn’t have it because I truly believed my milk supply would disappear if I stopped drinking it), and I realized that the attachment was getting a little out of hand. When I ran out the third time, I didn’t make the 15-minute trek to my acupuncturist to get a refill. I was slowly letting go…

11. Power Pump

This was the mother of all tips. But it was also a Mother something-else. My good friend who had struggled with breastfeeding from day one had tried every trick in the book. When I came to her desperate for help, she sent me this link, and warned me:  it works, but it is a soul sucking activity. She was right.

Power pumping is meant to mimic cluster feeding. In other words, pump, stop, pump again, stop, pump again, etc. You do this for an hour, following the schedule 20 minutes on, 10 minutes off, 10 minutes on, 10 minutes off, 10 minutes on.

As much as I hate pumping, I was willing to try anything at this point. At first, I went a little crazy, and aimed for two power pumping sessions a day. After about 4 days, I saw results. Real results. I’m talking a three ounce difference. I was addicted. So I kept at it. After a week I cut the morning power pump out, but continued doing the evening one after she went to bed. I would join my husband on the couch and we’d watch TV with the “eh eh eh eh” of the Medela in the background…for FIVE MONTHS straight.

Long story short. It works. But it’s an un-sustainable soul-sucking practice that no one should do as long as I did.

12. Let go

When my supply dropped, I did not take it well (obviously). I found myself forgetting to breathe on most days. I woke up every morning hoping for full, leaky boobs, and would cry when I saw small, deflated ones. And after a particularly rough night when Charley refused to take milk from me, my husband found me on the kitchen floor curled up into a ball, rocking back and forth, bawling my eyes out.

I perceived my milk supply as part of my identity as a mother — it was how Charley and I bonded. No matter how moody she was, nursing was always a calm, happy time. Before she was eating solids, I was literally her only source of food. And she ate every two hours so I had serious anxiety about ever leaving her for longer than that time.

I did not know how to be a mother to Charley without breastfeeding. 

Sometimes, though, you need to hit rock bottom to get back up again. After weeks and weeks of wallowing, self-pity, and self-doubt, I stopped. Because I realized that I was making this all about me, and not about Charley. I had to be strong for her. So that's what I did. Every time the milk wouldn't come, I would just repeat over and over "Be strong for Charley." 

Today, I am happy to report I am pump-free, supplement-free, oatmeal-free, and carefree (when it comes to breastfeeding, that is). Charley now takes a formula I am very happy to give her in place of my milk (It's base is Mt. Capra goat milk, but essentially is a recipe that I make myself using these ingredients).

Here's the kicker. We're still breastfeeding five months later. Not very often. Just enough to put her to bed at night and sometimes to nap during the day. I can't believe I still have milk without doing any of the afformentioned things. If this experience has taught me anything, it's listen to your body. It knows what it's supposed to do.

I share this becuase I hope somebody out there reads this, realizes how CRAZY one could go trying to "get your supply back," and lets go a whole lot sooner than I did. Maybe you lose your supply, maybe you don't. Whatever happens, it's going to be okay.

Much Love,

HealthyStaceySignature

Vitamin Food

January 15, 2018
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BrazilNuts_650

Tell me what you see when you look at this picture. Nuts? Brazil nuts? Nope. WRONG. These are my selenium vitamins.

I've never been one for vitamins and supplements. From a young age I absolutely hated swallowing pills. It took me at least 137 tries to gulp a multi-vitamin down, no matter how much water I downed it with. 

Fast forward to today, and I'm still not a big fan. I can do it if I have to — and I did when it came time to take prenatal vitamins. But as far as my nutrition routine goes, I'm all about food as vitamins rather than choking down horse pills. 

That’s why every morning, I look forward to my “vitamin routine.” I very rarely let a day go by without consuming these foods in some shape or form every day. You know what they say, "Two brazil nuts a day keeps the doctor away!"

Captain Obvious PSA: I am NOT a medical professional. This vitamin routine is my opinion based on my own experience and should not be taken for medical advice.

2 Brazil Nuts

I consider myself a bit of a nut connoisseur. Macadamia nuts, almonds, walnuts, pistachios — I am crazy for them all (note how I did NOT go for the easy pun there; I can do better). 

Brazil nuts are not quite as popular as your average almond or walnut, but that's because they are totally under-appreciated. They're big, crunchy, buttery, and happen to be ridiculously good for you. I love taking these right after I swallow down my prenatal vitamins as a bit of motivation at the end of the hard-to-swallow rainbow. One Brazil nut has 90 micrograms of selenium, or 129 percent of the daily intake recommended by the U.S. government. 

This helps with…

  • Hormone Balance
  • Skin and Breast Cancer protection
  • Heavy metal protection (particularly mercury — what you get from eating a lot of fish)

Source

1 Slice of Liverwurst

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I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Liver is one of the best things you can eat for your health. You could literally eat a slice of liverwurst or a few bites of liver and onions a day and get nearly as many nutrients as a multi-vitamin, plus do wonders for your digestive system and hormones. I love getting already prepared liverwurst from US Wellness Meats because it prevents me from having to make it from scratch (not pleasant, as you can imagine).

A 3.5-ounce serving of liverwurst sausage contains 6.4 milligrams of iron. Men need 8 milligrams of iron a day; women need 18 milligrams. It also provides 14 grams of protein, 2.3 milligrams of zinc, and 4.3 milligrams of B vitamin niacin.

All this helps with…

  • Healthy red blood cell count
  • More energy
  • A healthy immune system
  • A healthy nervous system

Source

 

2 Pasture-Raised Eggs

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An egg is like that kid in school that was so easy going and likable that everybody could hang with him. My day has not begun until I've eaten at least two eggs. I like them over easy, covered in sautéed kale, and topped with avocado and a couple leftover sweet potato fries. It’s heaven. I promise. But the key to making sure they are really contributing to your health is to get them pasture-raised. Which has become a whole lot easier since Vital Farms made them widely available. 

Hens that are free to graze on pasture have significantly higher levels of Omega-3 and Vitamin E (as much as 200%) to caged hens. In one study, a pasture-raised egg versus an organic egg produced:

  • 1/3 less cholesterol
  • 1/4 less saturated fat
  • 2/3 more vitamin A
  • 2 times more omega-3 fatty acids
  • 3 times more vitamin E
  • 7 times more beta carotene
  • 3-6 times more vitamin D

Source

1 Teaspoon of Camu Camu (in my yogurt or a smoothie)

I must admit, the first time I tried Camu Camu, it was because I got it for free from a work project and I was NOT impressed. I added an entire tablespoon to my smoothie thinking — Oh it's pink, so it probably tastes like pink Starbursts! WRONG. Camu Camu is very sour and not something you want to go around eating by the spoonful. However, this wonder food contains as much as 60 times vitamin C than that of an orange. It also includes amino acids and phytochemicals and minerals that can help the body in a variety of ways.

I highly recommend putting no more than a teaspoon in your smoothie or yogurt and making sure to fill it up with other delicious fruits and toppings to off-set the sour face. Real convincing, I know. But come cold and flu season when you find that your cold is lasting half as long as everybody else, you'll thank me for the increased immunity as well as these benefits…

  • Decreased inflammation
  • Improved gum health
  • Improved eye health
  • Improved mood

Source

1 Heaping Spoonful of Fermented Food (sauerkraut, carrots, kefir, pickles, etc.)

FermentedCarrots_650

Fermented food has been the missing link in our diets for the last hundred plus years. Somewhere along the line, the food makers decided to skip the natural fermentation process and start preserving pickles and sauerkraut in vinegar instead. But with this shortcut, you lose their best benefit — probiotics. I'm sure we've all hopped on the probiotic bandwagon at some point or another, but I'm telling you, getting them through food is always going to be your best bet.

Food like sauerkraut, kimchi, kefir, and fermented carrots contain vitamins, minearal, and phytonutrients that are more bioavailable to the body. Plus, when you switch up the types of fermented food and eat a variety on a regular basis (rather than take the same pill every day), you provide the body with a cross-section of probiotic strains. A probiotic food such as sauerkraut provides high levels of fiber and significant levels of vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin K, and B vitamins.

All of this helps with:

  • Enhanced digestion
  • Increased blood circulation
  • Improved heart health
  • Improved energy
  • Strong immune system
  • Strong bones
  • Reduced cholesterol
  • And inflammation elimination

Source

What do you consider your "vitamin food?" Comment below, shoot me an email or hit me up on Instagram!

Much Love,

HealthyStaceySignature

Paleo Fast Food + US Wellness Meats Featured Chef + Giveaway (YAY!)

November 30, 2017
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Before I get to my chit chatting, I'm going to guess you saw "Giveaway" in the title and might want to cut straight to the chase. Here's the deal. I'm December's US Wellness Meats Featured Chef and we're running a contest together until December 10th (Woohoo!). Sign up to win ALL OF THIS STUFF from US Wellness Meats at the link below. 

HEALTHY HAPPY HOLIDAY FEATURED CHEF PRIZE PACK


In May of this year I decided to send an email to one of my favorite companies to tell them how much I love their products. I had just put in an order with them and was thinking how much easier they had made my life by making grass-fed meat and bones (for my broth!) so much more accessible (Why do I care about grass-fed? I explain here). Much to my surprise, they emailed me back thanking me, and also with a special request:

Would I be their featured chef for December?

Umm, YES! I thought. Is that a rhetorical question? At the time I was still only 5 months pregnant and had no idea how life would be for me come December. 

LiverSaladsPaleo_HealthyStacey

When their marketing representative emailed me in November with a reminder — it was time for me to write my post — I may have had a heart attack. With a 6-week old baby who would not nap for more than 15 minutes, and me going on little to no sleep, how could I possibly find the time to write a post and create recipes for them? For the first time in my life, I truly understood what my readers mean when they tell me that they DO NOT HAVE TIME TO MAKE PALEO FOOD. 

SkilletMeal_Paleo_HealthyStaceyFastFood

Before Charley arrived, I had only myself to take care of. I had no idea how much time I spent in the kitchen tinkering with recipes and making complicated meals until I didn't have it anymore.

I am now the proud parent to a beautiful, rambunctious, curious, curly-haired, smushy-faced 2-month old. I’m going to state the obvious here, but I am madly in love with her and I can’t imagine life without her in it now. As expected, my whole world has been turned upside-down and priorities look very different than they did just a few months ago.

YogurtParfait_PaleoFastFood_HealthyStacey

Every waking moment is spent feeding her, changing her diapers, changing her (poopy, spit-uppy) clothes, tickling her, smiling with her, shhhh-ing her, rocking her, bouncing her, and loving on my Charley girl.

YolkyEggs_HealthyStacey_PaleoFastFood

Come breakfast or lunch time, I’m waiting for just the right moment to throw something on a pan or in a bowl, and shove it down my (very hungry) throat. I’m not saying that I’m resorting to McDonald’s drive-thru runs or Lean Cuisines (no judgement if you do). I still put eating whole, unprocessed food very high on my list of priorities — not to mention that I’m breastfeeding which means what I eat, Charley eats. But what I needed was to simplify.

BoneBrothPaleoFastFood_HealthyStacey

I pulled it together and got US Wellness Meats their recipes, using some of my favorites from past posts. In fact, their beef liverwurst was the perfect thing to work with because it literally takes no cooking at all, but gives me the nutrients of three different organ meats and it's DELICIOUS.

You can see the post here (eek, my head looks HUGE as the header). But this little exercise also made me think about the kind of cook I need to be at this time in my life. I can no longer be the spend-hours-in-the-kitchen type of cook. But that doesn't mean I have to stop cooking all together. 

So I started taking all the last-minute recipe searching, marinade-ing, spice mixing, and time-intensive meals out of the equation. I finally realized that this is a time for fast food. Or at least, faster food. All I ask is that my meals are Paleo-ish, comforting, and satisfying. But they should all take 15 minutes or less to cook. I searched the interwebs looking for such a guide, but could not find one. So I created my own.

I give you…

My Paleo-Friendly Fast Food Cheat Sheet

PROTEINS:

Pork Chop or Loin
Cook Time: 5-8 minutes per side on the stove top (depending on how well done you like it)
Method:

  1. Season with Salt
  2. Turn pan to medium-high heat and let sizzle on side 1 for about 5 minutes
  3. Turn over and put temperature reader in pork until it reads 145 (medium rare) to 160 (well done).
  4. Let rest for 3 minutes before serving.

Optional: Before cooking, add Dijon mustard and sprinkle seasonings of choice (thyme, oregano, cumin, paprika, etc.) on top of sauce.

 

Ground Meats (Beef/Lamb/Chicken/Turkey/Pork/Bison)

Cook Time: 5-10 minutes depending on meat

  1. Heat pan on high until sizzling, and plop meat in pan (I usually avoid adding fat because it creates so much on its own)
  2. Add in seasonings (cumin, cayenne, chipotle powder, etc.) + salt, chop up into small chunks with spatula, turning over frequently; turn pan down to medium heat
  3. Cook until you no longer see pink; season to taste.

 

Fish

Cook Time: About 10 minutes (rule of thumb is to cook about 10 minutes per inch of fish, turning it halfway through cooking; internal temperature of 145 degrees

Method:

  1. Season your fish with salt and pepper (other seasonings welcome, such as dill, tarragon, cumin, parsley, basil, etc.)
  2. Heat your skillet over high heat, add fat of choice
  3. Lower heat before you plop fish on and let sizzle for 2-5 minutes per side (see rule of thumb above).

 

Yolky Eggs

Cook Time: 5-8 minutes

Method: 

  1. Heat pan till sizzling and add fat of coice
  2. Crack egg over pan and let sizzle for approximately 3 minutes
  3. Sprinkle salt and cover pan with lid. TURN OFF burner and let sit for 2 minutes (I like my egg yolk runny, but let it sit longer if you want a more solid egg yolk)

 

Bone Broth

Cook Time: 2 minutes (re-heating)

Method: 

  1. Re-heat homemade (see my recipe here) or store-bought broth on stove or in microwave
  2. Add leftover meat, chop up vegetables, wilt in spinach…or just drink it straight with a sprinkling of salt and seasonings of your choice

 

Liverwurst Sausage

Cook Time: 0 minutes

Method:

  1. Slice into thin circles and use it to top salads, eggs or crackers. No need to cook.

*Note: I recognize that this one is not easily available at most stores so I highly recommend ordering it from US Wellness Meats. All of their meat is grass-fed and finally gives us a way to get this incredibly nutrient-dense food into our diets easily and quickly. This Liverwurst is a mixture of grass-fed beef, liver, heart, and kidney. DAMN. That is a whole lotta healthy.

 

Sardines

Cook Time: 0 minutes

Method:

  1. Throw canned sardines with extra virgin olive oil (ideally, wild caught) on a big bowl of lettuce – I like this brand.
  2. Add chopped veggies (if you have time)
  3. Toss with lemon juice and sprinkle salt.

 

Smoked Salmon

Cook Time: 0 minutes

Method:

  1. Take it out of the package and toss it on a big plate of greens 
  2. Toss with lemon juice and sprinkle salt.

 

VEGETABLES
Asparagus

Cook Time: 4-5 minutes

Method:

  1. Drizzle with avocado oil/ghee/coconut oil/olive oil
  2. Sprinkle with salt
  3. Put in oven at 425 for a quick flash of heat — just enough to get it hot and crunchy

 

Bed of Greens

Cook Time: 0 minutes

Method:

  1. Literally lay your protein over a bed or a big bowl of greens.
  2. Drizzle olive oil and lemon juice.
  3. Sprinkle salt. Done.

 

Broccolini (unlike broccoli, it's ready to cook – no chopping required) 

Cook Time: 5-10 minutes

Method:

  1. Heat up large pan on medium-high heat, once it’s sizzling add fat of choice
  2. Toss in broccolini with plenty of room for them to breath
  3. Sprinkle with salt
  4. Stir fry on high heat until desired doneness (less time = more crunchy).

 

Baby Bok Choy

Cook Time: 2-3 minutes

Method:

  1. Slice baby bok choy into strips,
  2. Sauté on pan at medium-high heat
  3. Sprinkle with salt

 

Much Love,

HealthyStaceySignature