5 Reasons Why You Aren't Getting Enough Sleep

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If you feel like you are not getting a sleep on a regular basis, you are not alone. More than a third of adults nationwide don’t get the recommended eight hours of sleep regularly, according to the Center for Disease Control.

Low Quality Air and High Allergen Counts

If you find that you are having trouble breathing regularly while you sleep or waking up with sniffles, you might have issues with low quality air or high allergen counts in your room, especially if you allow your pets to sleep with you.

If you are struggling with air quality in your room, you can add an air purifier, and you can also add plants to your sleeping space. Plants turn the carbon dioxide that you breathe out into oxygen, making the air in your room much cleaner and higher quality, according to NASA.

Discomfort

Are you waking up with aches and pains all over? Or tossing and turning all night? Chances are, your bedding is not right for you, especially if that bedding is older.

Sleep scientists recommend buying a new mattress every 7 to 10 years, but almost nobody does this. However, you should, especially if you are having trouble sleeping. The older a mattress is, the less support it will give you while you sleep.

You should also replace your pillows at least once every two years to help give yourself a more comfortable bed, as well as avoid dust mites.

Distractions

If you are a fan of scrolling through your phone in bed, you should stop. The blue spectrum like that your phone emits tells your brain to wake up and pay attention to it, delaying the brain’s production of melatonin which tells your body to feel sleepy.

If you absolutely need to use your phone, turn on night mode to help avoid the blue light issues.

Late Night Snacks

If you have a habit of getting a cup of coffee on the way home from work or having a couple of glasses of wine with dinner, you could be disrupting your sleep without knowing it.

Caffeine can stay in your body and affect it for up to eight hours after ingestion. Alcohol may help you get to sleep at first, but it also causes you to have a more disturbed night’s rest, which isn’t ideal.

Plan your meals for 3 to 4 hours before bed so that you aren’t digesting your entire meal while you sleep.

Stress

If you find yourself counting your worries rather than counting sheep, stress is likely the reason that you are struggling to sleep. In fact, that loss of sleep might actually be contributing to your stress, creating a cycle of sleepless nights and stressful days. The longer you can sleep at one time, the more likely you are going to be able to deal with the stress of your day.

If you think that one or more of these reasons might be keeping you awake at night, bring in an expert to take a personalized look at your issues and help you sleep better, quickly.

Guest author’s bio! - Alicia Sanchez is a researcher for the sleep science hub Tuck.com with a specialty in health and wellness. A Nashville native, Alicia finds the sound of summer storms so soothing that she still sleeps with recorded rain on her white noise machine.   

Are Your Sleep Patterns Healthy?

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Many people consider their sleep patterns normal. Your current sleep pattern may be normal for you, but that does not mean it is good, or healthy. Do you have trouble falling asleep because your mind is racing? Do you wake up several times per night? Do you average <6 hours of sleep per night? Is it extremely hard to wake up each morning without some sort of jolt from your coffee pot or energy drink? If you answered yes, these are signs that your body is likely not getting the optimal recovery it needs each night. The cumulative effect of this insufficient rest over months and years can be causing your body to deteriorate faster than it should. The situation is more serious than we commonly give it credit for, and the value of restoring balance is more immeasurable than most of us realize.

COMMON CAUSES OF POOR SLEEP PATTERNS

1) Bad habits - This is number one because it is far too easy in our informational age to be in front of a screen (TV, phone, tablet, computer, or laptop) until right before you lay your head on the pillow. Screen time can be detrimental to sleep for a couple reasons. One is the blue light emitted from these screens actually disrupts your normal circadian rhythms and can make it very difficult to fall asleep. Another is dependent on the content. Too much stimulation can be taxing to your brain before bed. Take a mental inventory of your routine and consider a shift so that you have a couple hours before bed to wind down… away from blue light. Alternatively, consider getting some blue light blocking glasses or downloading programs on your devices that block blue light for you. Though it may seem obvious, it’s worth noting that a good, consistent bedtime is also important. You must allow yourself sufficient time in the bed.

2) Lack of Sunshine and Earth - This may stem mainly from our worldview but research is starting to back up the notion that need more interaction with nature. There are now over 20 published studies on the health benefits of touching the earth. Not just going for walk and breathing the air but literally putting bare skin on the earth. Leather moccasins will work too. One of the most common reports of those that start trying to “ground” more is better sleep and less pain. Sunshine goes hand in hand with “earthing” or “grounding.” Sleep quality has been linked to sufficient vitamin D and by far the best source of vitamin D is natural sunshine. Sunshine during daylight hours also helps our circadian rhythms stay healthy. Being inside with artificial light all day is far from natural. So kick your shoes off midday and go for a short walk outside in the sunshine if at all possible!

3) Medications - Commonly prescribed medications may be the culprit. Although there are many more, here is a list of several medications that have insomnia as a potential side effect:

1. Alpha-blockers (for blood pressure and prostate issues)
2. Beta-blockers (blood pressure medications)
3. Corticosteroids (used most often for anti-inflammatory purposes)
4. SSRI antidepressants (anxiety/depression medications)
5. ACE inhibitors (blood pressure medications)
6. ARBs (blood pressure medications)
7. Cholinesterase inhibitors (Alzheimer’s medications)
8. H1 antagonists (used for allergies)
9. Glucosamine/chondroitin (used for joint pains)
10. Statins (used for high cholesterol)

These are very common medications. If you are on any of these medications and struggle with sleep issues, then talk with your doctor about an alternative, or consider with your doctor whether it’s appropriate to wean off of it for a time to see how your sleep responds. I would recommend avoiding the common scenario of just adding another medication on top of this to help with the side effect of another medicine. That is a vicious cycle you would do well to avoid.

SUPPLEMENTs - proceed with caution

Melatonin is the most commonly used sleep supplement. But there is concern around overly using melatonin. We need to understand that it is a hormone. In some countries it is very tightly regulated because overuse can cause problems and imbalances in the body.

5-HTP and L-Tryptophan are also commonly used to help fall asleep. These supplements can be helpful temporarily but overuse can lead to imbalances in dopamine. Dopamine imbalances aren’t fun. Common symptoms of dopamine imbalance are anxiety, depression, lack of motivation and fatigue.

Our recommendation is focus on lifestyle changes first, as discussed above. If you are still having trouble with sleep, consider an E-Consult with us to let us put together a protocol to help you restore normal sleep patterns. We want to avoid causing more glitches while we work to fix existing problems. And if you suspect your sleep disturbance is much more complicated, then let’s dig deeper with a full Functional Medicine Consult and see what we can uncover.

Co-written by: Jake Duncan PA-C and Derek Lang D.O.

Beating Acne Without Medications

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Acne for many, including myself, can be such a significant issue in the adolescent years that it may leave some individuals with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. I remember having mental anguish and fear of breaking out before important events in high school. I tried every facial cleanser, soap, cream, ointment, and home remedy I could find with little to no help. Some products made it worse or left my skin feeling burnt. Numerous parents take it a step further and out of desperation seek out their medical doctor to get prescriptions that come with a host of adverse effects. The sad part of my story is that I never even considered a dietary change to see if food played any part. Of course hormones were also involved, but I just wanted a quick fix. Acne may follow people into their adult life as well and continue to torment them.

DANGERS IN MEDICATIONS

There are 2 main options for addressing acne from a medication perspective. One is antibiotics. The other is Accutane, AKA Isotretinoin. Antibiotics will ALWAYS leave the body compromised, even at a low dose. The digestive tract experiences a loss of diversity every time. It thereby loses its most important protective mechanism and its ability to properly digest and assimilate your nutrients. This is often not consciously detectable, and it is therefore a silent hit to your body’s immune system that can have ripple effects for years and even decades! I can’t understate this point. Antibiotics can save your life if you are septic or seriously compromised due to a bacterial infection, but when overused or used for things that are not life-threatening, they can do significant damage. As far as Accutane, what do you need to know about how dangerous it is? It has a black box warning about causing serious birth defects even at low levels for short periods of time. Women also must have thorough counseling, sign informed consent, take 2 separate pregnancy tests, and sign an oath to use 2 forms of birth control if physiologically able to get pregnant while taking this medication! WHAT!? Does that not send off alerts in your brain? It certainly should but we fully understand how distressing acne can be. I would have probably risked a lot if I was confident something would help clear my skin.

STEP WISE ALTERNATIVE APPROACH

While medications are one option, there are so many other intial steps before medications are even considered.

  • Step 1 - Food Cleanse- Step 1 should always be a dietary shift. Take out the most common foods promoting inflammation and hormonal imbalance for 30 days and see how your skin responds. These include grains, dairy, soy, and sugar. This may sound extreme but it’s sometimes a life-changer and it can happen in 1 month. See what type of headway you make. Consider a “whole30” diet if you are up for a challenge. Take pictures on Day 1 and Day 30 and watch what happens.

  • Step 2 - Stop the Product Madness- Stop the onslaught of facial products and scrubbing. Find a simple soap and gently wash your face 2-4x/week instead of 2-3x/day. We like the goat milk soap you can get in this bundle or by itself. There are only a few things we recommend putting on the face after this. One is a homeopathic blend from OHM Pharmacy called Acne Gel. It works well to calm inflammation and prevent further breakouts. Call the office if you would like us to order you some. The other option is a good colloidal silver like Argentyn 23’s First Aid Gel. Sovereign Silver is a good option as well, and you can find that at most health food stores. But remember this, acne is not from being dirty or not scrubbing your skin enough. It is coming from something deeper like hormonal imbalances, detox issues, or underlying inflammation that is just showing itself on the skin of those who are predisposed to it. Aloe vera gel and coconut oil are also helpful for some people if moisturizing is needed.

  • Step 3 - Sunshine. Make sure you are getting sun on your skin at least 15-20 minutes per day. This should not be too difficult, but depending on where you live and differing climates and work schedules, it may be more challenging for some than others.

  • Step 4 - Sweat. This may be a tough one for some people who don’t sweat easily or don’t live somewhere like Texas where breaking a sweat is common. Dry saunas are always a good option as well. This will help you get toxins out and open up the pores. Many times this has great benefits to the skin and your overall health.

  • Step 5 - Supplements. If you aren’t seeing massive shifts in skin health by this point with steps 1-4, consider an E-Consult with us to get some guided help. We have some homeopathic protocols combined with particular fish oils and detox support that are very effective in most cases when used alongside the lifestyle changes above.

YOUR JOURNEY

Let us finish with encouraging you. Skin issues and particularly acne can be emotionally distressing. It can feel like a curse. But in reality, our skin can be our biggest ally. It may seem strange for you to see it that way, but our skin can be a red flag when something is not right internally. If the above Steps don’t make a massive difference, consider doing a full Functional Medicine Consult with us and let’s do some lab testing to look deeper. This life is a journey and it’s easy to get bogged down by things like acne. But let’s embrace the journey and continue growing daily. Each challenge that presents itself is an opportunity for growth.

Co-written by:

Jake Duncan PA-C (Functional medicine)

Derek Lang D.O. (Family medicine)

Low T: Is Testosterone Replacement Therapy Your Only Option?

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Many men even in their twenties are experiencing hormonal imbalances due to a host of influences. Stress is the biggest destroyer of hormones. Often their is a combination of high stress, poor sleep, poor diet, and lack of physical activity and outdoor time which ALL will wreak havoc on the body, especially the hormonal system. It is no secret how important hormones are to the body. Men often (but not always) will start to lose muscle mass and gain fat while losing their drive and confidence. Drive is not just related to libido but our drive entails that deep force to accomplish things. Many men with very low testosterone surprisingly still keep their libido but others lose that as well and start to struggle with erectile dysfunction possibly stemming from a lack of confidence overall. Relationships often can be pressured because low testosterone in a man often leads to irritability and trouble managing stressful situations. A vicious cycle often ensues.

This problem is large in our culture. Most men know about it. Many have had their levels checked and either put on Testosterone Replacement Therapy (TRT) or given some general recommendations on how to try to increase it. TRT is often thought of as a long term plan because replacing testosterone for a significant amount of time (i.e. months to years) will shut down the feedback loop making it very difficult to restore the body’s natural production should you stop the hormone replacement. Make sense?

MY STORY

As a disclaimer, I treated my body wrong for MANY years and asked it to do things it wasn’t designed to do. When my muscles wouldn’t lift the amount of weight I wanted to lift, I forced it to with artificial hormones and ridiculous amounts of supplements and food. In my 30s, when the abuse of poor diet, poor rest, and poor stress management peaked, my body hurt and my hormones were tanked. I started TRT and did feel better. But 10-12 months later, I was sick of injections. Oral testosterone is terrible for the liver and pellets can be dangerous (in my humble opinion). Like my patients, I really desired to not be dependent on medications and to help my body restore normal function. But, at this point, I was afraid too much damage had been done to my feedback loop from replacing testosterone for too long. After a lot of research over a few months, I decided to take the plunge and find out if my hormonal balance could be restored despite the odds. Below are the highlights my journey over the past 18 months and the surprising lab results that keep getting better. Mind you, my low back has kept me from doing the high intensity workouts and heavy lifts that are proven to really stimulate natural hormone production. So this has been done with minimal workout intensity.

  • Intermittent Fasting - 16-20 hour daily fasts. I did this 3-5 days a week for the past 1-2 years. Good video introduction here to Intermittent Fasting.

  • Meditation/Rest/Grounding- these all go together. Building in rest is VITAL to life. The books that changed my life in this area are called Emotionally Healthy Spirituality by Scazzero and Sabbath by Muller. Daily and weekly restful rhythms are essential to my sanity and my hormones. Touching the earth (aka “Grounding or Earthing”) is also critical to healthy aging and recovery. Shoot for 60 mins/day with no shoes on the earth. Moccasins are an option for those with sensitive feet :).

  • Nutrient Dense diet- we stick with a paleo-ish type diet. Everyone will need different things here but basics are avoid processed food and stick with real food. And especially for hormonal balance stick with clean meat and dairy. Clean just implies it is free from hormones and antibiotics. Ideally look for “grass fed” sources. Isn’t it sad that it even needs a distinction? I digress. Also beer is not your friend if you want to restore your testosterone levels.

  • Exercise/Lifting- 3-4 days per week. I mostly did just push-ups, pull-ups, and jump squats. I wasn’t able to lift heavy or even really do the high intensity intervals that are best for boosting testosterone and growth hormone. The body does need a reason to make more hormones, so it needs some sort of resistance. I also just started hitting a heavy bag and love it. I’ll post future labs to show if it further increases testosterone levels in a few months.

  • Homeopathy and supplements- If you’re interested in the full protocol please consider doing an E-Consult with me so you can give me some information on yourself and how your Low T is playing out. Then I could personalize a protocol for you. But a good foundation includes a rich source of vitamin A, D and omega 3s like Cod Liver Oil and beef liver that contains strong B-vitamins, zinc, and bioavailable iron. A good form of magnesium is also an important foundation and can be taken internally or trans-dermally (through the skin) with oils or bath flakes.

MY LABS

February 2017- The beginning of my journey. Note: anything below 12 on free testosterone with any symptoms is considered low.

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February 2018- Doubled levels but free testosterone still below optimal levels.

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August 2018- Finally seeing the levels move into the optimal range!

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Your Story

So now you know you have options. No pressure. We are here to help if you want or need it. Get some basic labs with your PCP to have a baseline and then highly consider an E-Consult to get some further guidance and a specific protocol for helping you restore hormonal balance. Repeat your labs every few months to document your progress and adjust accordingly. You got this! Send us some feedback on things you find helpful along your journey.

Learn From My Mistakes

 Compliments of  Lillie Duncan

Compliments of Lillie Duncan

Learn From My Mistakes 


On my journey of self-awareness over the past couple years, I've been shocked by how poorly I dealt with life's challenges. Little things could send me into deep unrest in my soul. For those who have experienced this type of life imbalance, it can show itself with anxiety, tightness in the chest, depression, tight muscles, headaches, shortness of breath, rapid heart rate/palpitations, brain fog, fatigue, trouble sleeping and trouble within relationships in general. Here are few things I learned through a difficult season. 


Build In Rest

One of the eye-opening moments for me was learning about how crucial stopping and resting was. I mentioned a couple of books in the last newsletter that has revealed a missing vital component in my life. Specifically - a weekly Sabbath. By this I mean a 24 hour period of time that I intentionally stop working (paid and unpaid), rest (sometimes this looks like a nap or just playing on the ground with my kids), contemplating and delighting in God's creation. 

I have to intentionally slow down daily and weekly so that life's blessings don't pass me by without me even noticing them.  Embracing our limits as a blessing is a struggle but an absolute paradigm shift for many like myself. 


Breathe Deeply

Besides establishing some healthier rhythms of rest in my daily and weekly routine, I have also noticed that without intentionality, I don't take deep breaths. When I am constantly watching the clock to stay on task, it's as if my body is sensing it's always under pressure and therefore breathing naturally gets faster and shallower. 

When I use my "Sabbath breaks" each day to slow down my breathing and delight in God's creation, the internal unrest fades away. There are many good places to learn breath work for various purposes. I love Wim Hof's approach for really strengthening the immune system and nervous system coupled with cold therapies and meditation. But even without any professional breath training, just slowing down and taking 10-20 deep breathes a few times per day can be powerful. 

In a future newsletter, I will share my journey into meditation. The research on the health benefits of meditation are clear but as a Christian, I was fearful of meditation as it seemed to contradict my worldview at first glance. As I've studied God's Word and learned from others who have successfully implemented this practice into their lives, I am eager to continue growing in this vital area. 


Establish Healthy Boundaries

As a people pleaser, I would say "yes" when I wanted (and needed) to say "no". This led to me leading a life that was not my own but instead a life that others wanted me to lead. Obviously, this can lead to a lot of deep frustration and resentment toward those I am attempting to love and serve. Negative emotions like anxiety, fear, and resentment cause a bombardment of inflammatory cytokines to be released throughout the body in an attempt to combat or survive the situation. Not only does this leave feeling bad but it also causes a cascade of dysfunction throughout our physical biochemistry leaving our bodies in a compromised state. 

Realizing this false self I was living in has allowed me to start to establish healthier boundaries so that I can serve people more fully and without expectations of something in return.  It has been a challenge to realize that it is often more loving to say "no" until we can fully say "yes." The book that has had the most impact on me is literally called "Boundaries" by Cloud and Townsend. 

Please share this on to anyone you think may benefit. 

Humbly, 

Jake Duncan PA-C
Stewarding Life Wellness 

 

How to Find an Environmentally-Friendly Mattress

 photo credit:&nbsp;http://lillieduncan.com/

photo credit: http://lillieduncan.com/

Guest blog by Samantha Kent: Samantha (Sam) Kent is a researcher for SleepHelp.org. Her favorite writing topic is how getting enough sleep can improve your life. Currently residing in Boise, Idaho, she sleeps in a California King bed, often with a cat on her face. 

You spend nearly one-third of your life asleep in bed. While it may feel safe and cozy, many mattresses contain or are processed with chemicals that are harmful to your body. It may take a little more time and money to find an environmentally-friendly mattress, but you'll be able to rest easy knowing you're protecting your health and your family's wellbeing.

Learn the Language

Mattress retailers and manufacturers often put labels on their products that can be misleading. Many times, the labels apply to only one part or component of the mattress rather than the mattress as a whole. For example, the cotton used to make the mattress cover may have been grown and harvested without the use of pesticides or chemicals, so the mattress can be labeled as "organic" even though most of it is not natural.

At this time, there is not a governing organization to check claims of "natural," and "eco-friendly." Instead of relying on these labels, you'll need to check the materials used to make the mattress and look for certifications from independent organizations.

What Makes a Mattress Organic or Biodegradable?

Mattresses are a complex product made of several layers. You'll need to consider the materials used in the cover, comfort layers, and support core. You want to look for:

  • Natural Latex: Natural latex is used to make the only mattresses on the market that are both 95 percent organic and biodegradable. Although, it should be noted that the percentage of natural latex used in the mattress can vary by manufacturer and model. Natural latex mattresses contain a small amount of synthetic latex, which is derived from petrochemicals.

  • Plant-Based Polyurethane and Memory Foam:  Plant oils are used to make plant-based foams, reducing harmful chemical emissions.

  • Organic Fibers: Look for organic mattress covers made from cotton or wool.

  • Fire Socks: Fire socks made of wool, cotton, thistle, and Kevlar are safer than chemical flame retardants. While Kevlar isn't a natural material, no flame retardant chemicals are used in the manufacturing process.

Rely on Certifications

To find more information about the materials used to make mattresses, look for certifications from independent organizations. These groups monitor everything from the harvesting practices of the cotton used to make the mattress cover to the chemical emissions of the polyfoam. We’ve created a list of some of the most helpful certifications and what they monitor:

  • OEKO-TEX Standard 100: This certification comes from a group of 18 independent research and testing institutes in Europe and Japan. Only those products that do not exceed certain emission levels of harmful chemicals receive this certification. Amongst others, they check for emissions of volatile organic compounds (VOCs), formaldehyde, and other flame retardants.

  • CertiPUR-US: The CertiPUR-US certification is received after testing polyurethane foam for chemical emissions.

  • GREENGUARD: The GREENGUARD certification evaluates finished mattresses for VOC emissions. While the certification does mean lower emissions, it does not mean there won’t be some off-gassing when the mattress is removed from its packaging.

  • Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS): Both raw materials and their derivatives can receive the GOTS certification, which ensures that the product is 70 percent organic.

Are You Soul Tired?

 Image Courtesy of http://lillieduncan.com/

Image Courtesy of http://lillieduncan.com/

Are You Truly Resting? 


Most of us measure our amount of rest or need for rest in hours of sleep. Although sleep is critical for recovery and repair from each day's challenges, true rest is far beyond just merely time spent in slumber.  The Scripture talks often about rest outside of the context of sleep. This type of rest or "sabbath" is something most of us long for in our souls but don't really know how to experience. 

Many who are driven in life and desire to help others and excel in whatever they do can easily fall into a very dangerous rut. This rut is characterized by often feeling guilty if we aren't doing something productive. In Wayne Muller's book, "Sabbath," he says, " While many of us are terribly weary, we have come to associate tremendous guilt and shame with taking time to rest. Sabbath gives us permission; it commands us to stop." 

In another fantastic book called Emotionally Healthy Spirituality, Peter Scazzero describes it this way: "We listen to sermons and read books about slowing down and creating margin our lives. We read about the need to rest and recharge our batteries. Our workplaces offer seminars on increased productivity through replenishing ourselves. But we can't stop. And if we aren't busy, we feel guilty that we waste time and are not productive....It's like being addicted-- only it is not to drugs or alcohol but to tasks, to work, to doing. Any sense of rhythm in our daily, weekly, and yearly lives has been swallowed up in the blizzard of our lives." 

So what? What's the danger of living without resting? I think most of us know this but don't want to face it. We miss life. We miss the beauty that's right in front of us. We live with short fuses and almost anything can cause us to get irritable, anxious, depressed, and angry. We do violence to our own lives and bodies and do violence to everyone that comes in contact with our disoriented life. We have no space in our lives for people to be human. 

If this hits home with you, don't beat yourself up. We are already good at that and it only makes matters worse. Show yourself compassion. Dig into this. The 2 books mentioned above can literally save your life, restore your relationships, and return the joy back into your life, even when storms are all around. They can remind you that God sees you in your struggle and He loves you. He has given us several ropes to find our way back home. Grab hold and join me on this exciting, restful journey. 

~ Jake

What to Pack for School Lunches

Packing lunches for school is a necessity for the school year... but honestly something that we all kind of dread.

By the second month, it feels like we are packing the exact same thing every day! So here are some ideas we put together for you all. A lot of it is simple but can be helpful to have ideas, right? 

The first biggest tip we can share is to PREP for the week! 

Plan what lunches you want to prepare for the week and keep it simple. It's ok if you have the same foods for a whole week if you want- just switch it up the next week! 

Second, prep as much as you can in advance!

Cut up a ton of veggies to have ready to eat and store in glass mason jars or glass storage containers. This makes packing lunches and grabbing healthy snacks so much easier. 

When you are cooking dinner, grab some extra veggies and chop while you are cooking to have fresh things available all week. 

If you can, go ahead and divide and store other foods in small containers to put straight into the lunch box like chicken salads, sauces, trail mix, etc. 

Third, an easy rule for preparing lunches is to always include fat, fiber, and protein in meals.

This helps stabilize blood sugar levels and give kids balanced meals to have the most consistent energy and focus possible. 

Fiber:

-Carrots, celery, cucumber, bell pepper (easily prepped in advance!)

-Mini sweet bell peppers are ready to eat as-is

-Fruits: apple slices, grapes, oranges, berries, etc. 

-Hummus in individual snack packs (at Costco!) to pair with veggie sticks or gluten free crackers

-Dried fruits or raisins (check for sugar and sulfates or unwanted preservatives)

-Nuts (omit if nut-free classroom)

-Seeds 

-Pressed by Kindbars (at Costco); a nut free option, too!

-Larabars

-Gluten free or grainfree granola 

-Custom trail mix to your liking with coconut flakes, nuts, seeds, dried fruits, clean chocolate chips, etc. This is a GREAT way to get kids involved with packing their lunches and being excited about creating their own food!

-MamaChia squeeze pouches 

-GoGo squeeze pouches

-Pure Organics or Stretch Island fruit strips 

-Plantain chips

-Cassava chips

-Non-gmo air-popped popcorn (if you tolerate corn)

-The Good Bean Dried chickpeas (if you tolerate beans)

-Pickles (check for unwanted dyes and sugars; love the organic dill pickles from Trader Joe’s)

-Gluten free pasta with veggies and protein (nuts, seeds, or meat) Trader Joe's is our favorite price and flavor.

- Jackson's Honest chips 

 

Fat:

-Guacamole snack packs or tubs (Great prices at Costco)

-Justin's Almond butter snack packs: pair with carrot/celery sticks, or apple slices for the fiber.

-Trailmix has great fats as well!

-Chia seed pudding

-Avocado slices

-Grassfed/Organic/Raw cheese (if dairy is tolerated well)

-Simple Mills muffins (mixes are easy to make!)

 

Protein:

-Trail mix. (Pumpkin seeds are an amazing form of protein!)

-Simple Mills almond flour crackers,sprouted seed crackers (if nut free is required), or cookies.

-Organic turkey breast slices rolled by itself or with mayo or hummus spread

-Lettuce wrap with turkey and avocado slice

-Lettuce wraps with tomatoes, bacon for a breadless BLT

-Hard boiled eggs

-Deviled eggs or egg salad

-Chicken Salad with crackers

-Chicken tenders with sauce to dip

-Protein bars like RX bars and Primal Kitchen are favorites

-Unsweetened organic/grassfed yogurt with berries and granola

-Egg muffins- another great thing for kids to help make! 

-Smoothies store well in insulated thermos' and can be super nutrient dense and a fun treat! (Using collagen is a great protein source to add!)

Beautycounter: Safer Beauty & Personal Care Products

At Stewarding Life Wellness, we are passionate about living a healthy, balanced, and toxic-free lifestyle. We strive to eat healthy food that supports our health, we use safe cleaning products in our home, exercise, sleep well and meditate often. However, one thing that is easily overlooked in the pursuit of health are the cosmetics and personal care products we use daily such as lotions, soaps, deodorant, and make up.

Americans spend over 62 billion dollars every year on personal care products, and many of these are filled with toxic chemicals. Thousands of these chemicals are used without adequate testing or research done to identify the effects they have on us. The FDA does not require testing to approve chemicals used on humans, nor do they have the power to recall a product that could be dangerous. The European Union has banned nearly 1400 toxic chemicals from their cosmetic products. America has only banned or restricted 30.

Why are avoiding toxic chemicals so vitally important for our health?

It is easy to assume that, since we are only using these products on our hair or skin, that it isn’t affecting our health like food or supplements do. But did you know that your skin is the largest organ in the body, and that it absorbs these toxic chemicals in less than 26 seconds directly into the blood stream? Some of these chemicals have dangerous impacts on our body. Research has shown that toxins in our personal care products can contribute to cancer, infertility, hormone disruption, autoimmune diseases, rashes, and many other medical conditions.

We have found lots of healthy options that just don't work effectively - especially cosmetics! In our search for safe products, we were introduced to Beautycounter and have been very impressed. Beautycounter has extremely rigid third party testing, a "Never List" of over 1500 ingredients they never use, and the strictest heavy metal standards in the industry. Not only do we love the quality of their products, we also are impressed with their mission as a company. Below is a short video discussing their mission to provide safe products for their consumers:

One of my favorite things about these products is that they are high performing, and I have the comfort of knowing they are safe. My daughter has a lot of fun “dressing up like Mommy,” and I love being able to let her play with my make up with out being concerned about heavy metals or dangerous chemicals.

Some of my favorite products for our family are:

 

Charcoal bar
 

Charcoal helps to extract toxins from the skin and leaves it feeling smooth and clean. It is great for men, women, and teenagers!


Balancing Face Mask

I feel like I have been to a spa after using this. It leaves my skin feeling amazingly clean and rejuvenated. I have also used it on rashes and other skin irritants, and it helps tremendously in healing. This is fantastic for men and women!


Tinted foundation

This tinted foundation is amazing! I have never been a fan of liquid foundations because of how heavy and sticky they feel, but this one feels light and covers well. For a thicker coverage, you can also use this concealer pen


Baby products

 Children today are exposed to far more environmental toxins than we were as children. I am committed to minimizing the number of toxic chemicals that my children are exposed to at home during our daily routines. I have tried many baby products, but these are the best I have used! I use these products on my children every single day, and I use the baby oil on my own face every night before bed - it's that awesome!


It is so important to be mindful of the things we are putting IN our bodies, but also equally important to consider what we are putting ON our bodies. We believe in the importance of removing toxins from our lives, and would love to help you find the best products that will continue to support your best life. 

If you have any questions, please feel free to email our nutritionist, Stephanie. Stephanie@stewardinglifewellness.com.

Curb Your Sugar Cravings with this Delicious Smoothie

When you cut refined sugar out of your diet, what is the first thing you crave? I don’t know about you, but for me, it is chocolate. I’m not even much of a chocolate person, but I crave it when the sugar is gone.

Oftentimes, there are ways to curb our cravings without giving into unhealthy ways of eating again. That’s why I love this smoothie.

This Chocolate Almond Banana Smoothie is the perfect way to satisfy that sweet tooth and keep you cool and refreshed this summer. Made with almond butter, almond milk, cacao powder, and bananas, it almost tastes like a liquid peanut butter cup!

Ingredients:
1 cup almond milk
1 banana
2 tablespoons cacao powder
2 tablespoons almond butter
1 date
Dash of sea salt

To make this delicious smoothie, simply toss all of the following ingredients into your favorite high-powered blender, and blitz until smooth. If you’re feeling fancy, top with almond slivers and/or cacao nibs for some added crunch.

Almond milk is quickly becoming the favorite non-dairy milk product of the health conscious and lactose sensitive. Fortified almond milk contains many of the same nutrients as cow’s milk, without any of the effects of the lactose - and it has a fraction of the calories. Almond milk also contains no cholesterol or saturated fat.

You’ll notice that this recipe also calls for cacao powder. You may be asking yourself, “Couldn’t I just use cocoa powder instead of cacao powder? What’s the difference?” You could use the cocoa powder sitting in your pantry that you would typically use for baking, but you would be doing your body a disservice. While the two powders look identical, there is a vast nutritional difference.

Cocoa powder has been roasted at high temperatures, which removes the enzymes that actually makes chocolate (or cacao) healthy. Cacao powder is cold pressed, so it retains all of the healthy enzymes. By using cacao powder, you will feel a mood boost – as if you were eating a chocolate bar, without worrying about looking great in a swimsuit.

If you are trying to stay healthy, but can’t seem to shake that chocolate craving, this smoothie is sure to help.

Want fresh, chef-crafted smoothies to sip on this summer but don’t want to make them yourself?

Get a month of free smoothies when you sign up for a SAVOR meal delivery service from now until July 31. To get started, simply fill out a food questionnaire and mention this blog post!

 

Written by Savor Culinary Services | www.savorculinaryservices.com