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4 Reasons Why You Should Cut Back On Sugar

4 Reasons Why You Should Cut Back On Sugar

When you look up proper nutrition, you will often see that you should cut back on sugar. There are actually a lot of reasons to reduce your sugar intake, from saving your teeth to actually boosting your immune system. Here are the top four reasons you should consider cutting back on your sugar intake.

1. You Can Lose Weight

Naturally, one of the top reasons to cut back on your sugar intake is because it can help you lose weight. Sugar contains quite a lot of calories just in a very small amount, so whether you are adding sugar to your foods or you are buying food with sugar already in it, it is going to add more fat and calories, which then causes you to gain weight. When you start reducing just your sugar intake, you will notice that you begin losing weight, almost without even trying. Cutting down on sugar helps to lower your body fat as well, making it easier for you to lose weight and get fit as desired.

2. Sugar Doesn’t Contain Nutrients

While sugar can be good for adding flavor to certain dishes, it doesn’t have any nutrients that your body needs. You won’t be missing out on important vitamins and minerals just by cutting out sugar. They are the epitome of empty calories, since you are adding to the calories of your dishes, without actually adding any nutrients whatsoever. Not to mention that foods containing a lot of sugar tend to be less nutritious because sugar is a major component, such as with sweets and desserts. Drinks with sugar, such as fruit juice and soft drinks, have so much sugar they don’t have much else that will be good for you.

3. It’s Better for Your Immune System

Cutting back on sugar can also help give your immune system a nice little boost. Sugar actually adds to inflammation in your body and can make it harder to fight off infections. It lowers your immune system, which then leads to a high risk of the cold, flu, and other similar illnesses. Sugar in your diet can also lead to high blood pressure, which is another component of damaging your immune system.

4. You Can Have Better Concentration

Too much sugar in your diet can also slow down your nervous system, which affects your brain and your ability to focus and concentrate. When you don’t have a lot of sugar in your system, you may notice that your energy rises, and as that happens, so does your brain capacity. So when you are experiencing that low blood sugar slump around 3 pm, don’t reach for the candy bar, go for protein/complex carbs/healthy fat combo instead. Good examples would be turkey and avocado on whole grain toast or a plain Greek yogurt with macadamia nuts and fresh fruit with a drizzle of honey.

And make sure you start off your day with a good hearty breakfast. You know you’ve heard that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. It’s TRUE but you must choose whole grains with protein and healthy fats not your carb loaded breakfast cereals. Good examples would be crunchy almond butter on whole grain bread, a bowl of steel cut oats with almond milk, fruit and chopped nuts, or fried egg with avocado on whole grain toast to help you feel plugged-in till lunch.

Take It in Small Steps

Changing habits (like breaking free from sugar) can be super hard to do all at once. I’m a big fan of changing habits through small sustainable actions. So the best place to start is by replacing unhealthy sugar with natural sugar. I think we all know white sugar is really, really unhealthy for us. So what can you have instead? My suggestions are dates (not date sugar), pure maple syrup, raw honey or black strap molasses. All of these are natural foods that have not been processed and they provide valuable nutrients in addition to natural sweetness. Keep in mind if you are diabetic or pre-diabetic, they still impact your blood sugar levels so please use in moderation. Dates are an excellent option as they provide lots of fiber that helps to regulate the blood sugar.

The next time you are making a dish that requires white sugar, try swapping the white sugar with pure maple syrup or honey. You can use his conversion chart to know how much to use. It is not usually a 1-for-1 measure swap.

Let me know how the switch is going and what recipes you’ve tried swapping sugars for. Leave a comment below or post in the Facebook group.

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Mindfulness and Heart Health

Mindfulness and Heart Health

Have you ever been so engaged in something that you love to do that you completely lost track of time? You were so present and attentive to a creative activity that everything else seemed to just fade away. In those moments of authentic joy, you experienced mindfulness.

Mindfulness is being completely aware of the present moment, focusing solely on being where you are and attending only to what is right in front of you. So many of us live in psychological time, meaning we are either dwelling on our past or considering our future, while completely neglecting what is real – our now!

There are many ways to deliberately cultivate mindfulness. Meditation is an excellent tool for achieving and maintaining optimal physical, mental, and emotional health. Meditation has been shown to lower stress levels, increase energy, inspire greater creativity, and enhance mental clarity. It has even been scientifically proven to lower the risk of addiction, depression, eating disorders, and anxiety!

Research has also found that people who consistently cultivate mindfulness through meditation improve their heart health and are substantially less likely to have cardiovascular issues, including heart disease, heart attacks, and strokes. With February having a focus on Valentine’s Day, why not give your own heart a little extra love and attention and cultivate mindfulness in your life through meditation for optimal health!

As with everything, bio-individuality plays a role as there are countless practices available. Experiment with a variety of meditations and find what works best for you. Remember that what works for you at one time may not work at a different time, so it’s important to be open and flexible to change.

Here are a few practices to improve mindfulness, heart health, and overall well-being. Feel free to experiment with one or more to see what resonates with you!

1. Mindfulness Meditation – The Body Scan

One way to practice mindfulness is doing a body scan. Simply sit or lie on your back with your eyes closed. Start by noticing your breath and bringing your full attention to its natural flow. Then gently bring your awareness to the sensations in your body – the temperature, tingling or buzzing in your hands, constriction in certain muscles, or the feeling of your weight being held by the floor or chair. Then, very gradually, focus your attention on each part of your body, scanning from your toes, legs, and pelvic region up to your stomach, chest, back, arms, hands, neck, and head. Without having any agenda or expectation, focus your full attention on each body part, becoming more and more mindful and relaxed.

2. Well-Being Meditation – Meditation for the Heart

Another way to cultivate mindfulness is through a heart meditation. For this one, sit or lie comfortably and bring your awareness to your heart. See what arises. Gently notice your breath as it moves in and out of your heart center. As you focus on your breath and become more relaxed, ask your heart what it would like to share with you. Then simply listen without expectation or judgment. If you don’t hear any response from your heart, that’s okay, too! Just continue to focus on your heart center and follow your breath as it flows in and out of this area.

3. Breathing Meditation – 4-7-8 Breath

Using breathing exercises to focus on the breath can help cultivate mindfulness and support heart health. One great breathing exercise is the 4-7-8 breath. Inhale through your nose for four counts, hold the breath in for seven counts, and then release it for eight counts. Repeat this cycle of breath three to five times. Notice how it helps slow down your breath, which slows down the heart rate and supports deeper relaxation. (This form of breath work isn’t recommended if you are pregnant or have high blood pressure).

If you find yourself dwelling on the past, stuck in regret and guilt, or anticipating the future, lost in worry and anxiety, then cultivating mindfulness could be beneficial! Enjoy these exercises or experiment with your own mindfulness practices to guide you back to the present moment. Cultivating mindfulness is a practice and takes consistency, patience, and compassion – so be easy with yourself! Remember, not only will you be creating relaxation for your heart, but you will enhance the quality of your life by being fully attentive to the richness of your NOW!

How will you create mindfulness and love your own heart this Valentine’s season?  Leave a comment below or post in the Facebook group.

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Healthy Changes to Your Diet in the Winter

Healthy Changes to Your Diet in the Winter

As the temperature drops, our nutritional needs change. Except for winter-sports enthusiasts, people become less physically active. After all, when it’s cold and snowy outside, even a trip to a neighborhood grocery store is a daunting task. And with the advent of cold and flu season, staying healthy takes a bit more effort. What’s more, nutrition-packed fruits and vegetables that were plentiful during the summer may be in short supply—and take a bigger chunk out of our wallets.

However, there are many delicious and affordable ways to ensure proper nutrition during the dark days of winter. These tips will help you maintain optimum health and please your palate at the same time.

Go for Beans

There are many varieties of legumes, including garbanzo beans (aka chickpeas), lentils, lima beans, and pinto beans. These hearty foods have something in common: they are fiber and protein powerhouses. Beans can be added to stews and soups, served in salads, and cooked and eaten by themselves. To reduce gassiness, soak them in water for six to eight hours and rinse before preparing.  For a quick 20-minute meal, check out my Cuban Black Beans & Kale recipe.

Try Some Spuds

Potatoes have an undeserved bad reputation for their starch content. However, they are chock full of vital nutrients. One potato provides hefty amounts of immunity-boosting vitamins B6 and C, fiber and folate, essential for the proper development of unborn babies. Purple potatoes are a great source of antioxidant with a variety of benefits ranging from keeping heart disease at bay to reducing inflammation. Adding carrots, parsnips, turnips, and other roots vegetables to mashed potatoes is a delicious way to include vegetables in a wintertime diet.

Talk Turkey

This bird is not for Thanksgiving only. Low in calories and high in protein, it’s a natural in sandwiches, soup, salads, stir-fry, and by itself.

Include Winter Squash

Spaghetti, acorn, and butternut are only a few types of this colorful, tasty, nutritious vegetable. Winter squash is low-calorie and rich in fiber, vitamin A, folic acid, and vitamin C. Acorn squash also has vitamin B1, B6, and magnesium. And butternut squash is a powerhouse of vitamins A and C.  Add a little grass-fed butter, applesauce, maple syrup or cinnamon to infuse some flavor.

Add Some Greens and Reds

Chard, collards, and kale flourish in winter; frosty weather can reduce kale’s bitter taste. With healthy amounts of vitamins C, A, and K—and plenty of folate in escarole, mustard greens, and collards—leafy greens can keep people’s immune systems in good shape. Red cabbage, a cousin of kale, contains few calories and lots of vitamin A, plus zeaxanthin and lutein, phytochemicals so important for eye health as people age.

Don’t Forget Fruit

Citrus fruit is loaded with vitamin C. Grapefruit, oranges, and their cousins are also excellent sources of all-important flavonoids, known to raise HDL cholesterol (the good kind), reduce LDL cholesterol, and lower triglyceride levels. And if you have not yet tried pomegranates, you may want to add it to your daily regimen. It contains more antioxidants than any other kind. Studies show that pomegranate may help prevent free radicals from doing damage—and increase the flow of blood to the heart in patients whose tickers do not receive sufficient oxygen because of blocked arteries.

By adding these good-tasting and nutritious foods to the menu, you can ensure that you and your family will weather the chilly season.

What dishes do you plan to make that this article inspired?  Leave a comment below or post in the Facebook group.

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Local FARMacy Corner: Wilson Dowell Farms

Local FARMacy Corner: Wilson Dowell Farms

The more I learn about the importance of quality food; the more I am convinced that we should all be buying our meats and produce from our local farmers.

Did you know that factory-farmed meats actually trigger disease and inflammation within our body? Most of the meats sold in grocery stores come from factory farms (places where large numbers of livestock are raised indoors in crowded conditions intended to maximize production at minimal cost). These feedlots pollute nearby air and water, increase the risk of pathogens like E. coli and salmonella; fuel the growth of antibiotic-resistant bacteria (called superbugs) through antibiotic overuse and cause cancer through the use of chemical toxins and added hormones.

Not to mention the energy that is passed from the animal to humans. Animals living in the inhumane conditions of factory farms cause great stress on the animals. When stress is short-term, temporary changes in chemistry within the meat make the meat tough and cause it to lose flavor. But if stress persists for an extended period of time, the changes are even worse. The persistent high acidity in the meat will deplete the meat of nutrition.

One solution to this huge health and environmental problem is buying local and pasture-raised grass-fed beef. Grass-fed meat is nutritionally superior to factory-farmed meats. Grass-fed meat contains higher levels of omega-3s and lower levels of omega-6s which means that the meat is much less inflammatory to our bodies than factory-farmed meats. High levels of omega-3 are also good for heart and brain health. Grass-fed meats also contain higher levels of critical nutrients like B vitamins, vitamin E, antioxidants and minerals such as potassium, phosphorus, zinc and iron. Pasture-raised grass-fed meat is significantly healthier than factory-farmed meat so, if you are consuming meats in your diet, consider buying from your local farmer.

In my series: Local FARMacy Corner, you learn about the local farmers I meet who are applying sustainable, humanely-raised and organic farming practices to their crops and livestock.

This month’s post introduces Wilson Dowell Farms – a multi-generational, family farm located in Owings, MD (Calvert County) across the street from Northern High School. Kristen and Jason Leavitt are the fourth generation owners who have been operating this 320-acre family farm for the past 10 years. Although the farm was started as a tobacco farm by Jason’s great grandfather back in 1939, they have always had cattle on the farm. Jason’s mom and family helped transition the farm from traditional methods to more sustainable farming practices.

In addition to operating this family farm, Jason is employed at a local engineering firm for the last 15 years which has given him phenomenal insight and knowledge on zoning, regulation and how our County Government works.  Jason also resides as the President of the Calvert County Farm Bureau, a local organization that promotes and protects Maryland agriculture and rural life.

Jason and Kristen have approximately 75 cattle at this time that graze on most of the 320 acres and are grass-fed most of the year and fed hay and alfalfa pellets during the winter months. Their cattle are mix of Angus, Hereford, and Charolais and are born and raised on the farm.

They select their high quality pigs and Kiko goats to be pasture-raised and finished on the farm also. All meats are processed at a USDA-inspected butcher facility, individually packaged, vacuum sealed and flash frozen at the peak of freshness.

I’m excited to share Wilson Dowell Farms with you. Give them a call at 703-899-6380 if you want to place an order for whole, half, quarter or individual cuts. They care deeply about providing the best quality beef, pork and goat to you to support your good health.

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3 Steps to Reach Your Big Goal

3 Steps to Reach Your Big Goal

You have big goals and dreams, and it’s so important to keep them in mind as you go through your daily life. It’s also crucial to take specific, high-leverage action weekly to make them a reality.

What’s your biggest goal and/or dream in this moment? Write it down now.

One of the ways you can turn your goals into reality is through the power of visualization.

Yep, it’s exactly what it sounds like – visualizing exactly what you want and letting yourself feel it through all of your senses.

Using visualization to fulfill your desires is far from a new or esoteric concept.

Ever fantasize about your upcoming vacation or relive an ecstatic experience from the past?

Creating those mental pictures is a natural and powerful element of the human mind – leverage it!

Focusing on what you want increases motivation, self-confidence, and mood. It also leads to behavioral changes that will shorten the time it takes to reach your goals.

Visualization has been used in meditation for centuries and has even proven to enhance performance in professional athletes. If it works for Olympic athletes, it’s probably worth a try to see if it works for you.

Ready to test it out?

Take these three simple steps now to visualize with intention:

1. Create an image in your mind of what you want. Connect with your innermost desires for true fulfillment and happiness. Be honest with yourself. What do you really want?

2. Be specific. Imagine any physical sensations, scents, sounds, the presence of others, and any other details relevant to your ideal future.

3. Visualize often. It’s best to visualize as you’re falling asleep and when you first wake up in the morning. This helps your body recognize your goals as achievable and second nature.

What goal do you want to make a reality through visualization? Share in the comments below or post in my Facebook group!

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Set an Intention, Not a Resolution

Set an Intention, Not a Resolution

Is it almost the New Year already? It seems like just yesterday we were setting resolutions, hopeful about accomplishing new goals and making positive changes in our lives.

But while we often do our best to stay focused, resolutions don’t often pan out the way we’d like. We lose steam by the end of January, and then endure guilt and shame at having abandoned our own desires.

The problem? Resolutions are too specific. They work for short-term goals such as going for a run today, but don’t have the sustaining power you really need to keep up your motivation all year long. Resolutions also tend to focus on fixing flaws rather than addressing something deeper. Think about it, the resolution of losing weight implies you are currently overweight, the resolution of getting a better job reminds you that you’re currently miserable in the one you have, and even something like “traveling more” can trigger self-criticism at having a lack of adventure in your existing life. No wonder they don’t work, they’re nagging reminders of our shortcomings!

If resolutions haven’t proven effective for you in the past, then it’s time to try a new approach.

Set an intention, instead.

Unlike a resolution, which is a promise you make to yourself, an intention is a mindset. It’s less specific than something like exercising 3 times a week, but it’s also more connected to the core of what you really want, and therefore leaves you more open to fulfilling that in a variety of ways.

Here are examples of resolutions:

  • Meditate 5 times a week for 10 minutes each
  • Avoid junk food
  • Reconnect with an old hobby

And here are their corresponding intentions:

  • Develop a calm mind
  • Live more healthfully
  • Make more time for creativity and play

The difference is subtle, but it’s just enough to shift how your actions unfold.

To use the first example, developing a calm mind could certainly include meditating 5 times a week, but it also leaves you open to all sorts of possibilities that contribute to the same effect, thereby leaving you far less bored (or likely to quit trying) as the year goes on. Developing a calm mind could manifest as a class you take, spending more time in nature, reading some books on wisdom traditions, re-evaluating your relationships, etc. By not limiting yourself to one specific method, you open yourself up to a range of possibilities and increase your chances of ultimately reaching that deeper goal – sometimes through surprising ways.

Give it a try this year and see how it goes. At the very least you’ll take a break from resolutions and might discover that you don’t even miss them!

What’s your intention for the new year? Share in the comments below or post in my Facebook group!

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Why Gratitude is the Secret Sauce to Health

Why Gratitude is the Secret Sauce to Health

It’s never a bad time to pause and feel gratitude for everything you have in your life. The holiday’s are a perfect time to take a minute to remember what we are grateful for.

Gratitude is the foundation of health, because when you appreciate the simple things – like the breeze on your face or the fact that you’re simply alive – it’s much easier to make positive changes toward even better health.

When you’re stressed about your imperfect health and beating yourself up about not being good enough, you send your body into a stressed state, causing you to release the hormone cortisol.

This makes you feel anxious and irritable, and it’s much more likely that you’ll order a large fries and chocolate milkshake instead of a nice, hearty, vegetable-centric dish.

When you’re feeling relaxed and grateful for how far you’ve come on your health journey, you’re much more likely to make good choices.

So, what makes you feel grateful?

Answering this simple question can shift your mood in seconds. Feeling thankful for what you already have creates a positive ripple effect in your life, making it way less likely you’ll dwell on perceived shortcomings.

It’s easy to take for granted a happy marriage, nurturing friendships, good health, or even the roof over your head, but these aspects of life sustain you every day.

Taking a moment to acknowledge and appreciate what’s good in your life does wonders for your well-being.

In fact, studies have shown that a regular gratitude practice can improve your happiness by as much as 25 percent, and keeping a gratitude journal for as little as three weeks can result in better sleep and more energy. Happiness leads to healthiness, since the production of feel-good hormones like serotonin support all bodily functions, including digestion.

You can start your own gratitude practice with something as simple as saying an affirmation each day.

Try this simple one: I’m grateful for my health and the health of my loved ones.

What will you do to express your gratitude this holiday season?  Leave a comment below or post in the Facebook group.

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Natural Remedies for Cold and Flu Season

Natural Remedies for Cold and Flu Season

Feeling under the weather? When the temperatures drop, we tend to spend more time indoors, get less sunshine and fresh air, and consume more indulgent, comfort foods. This combination leads to a higher exposure to airborne organisms and decreased immunity, which means you’re more likely to catch a cold or flu.

But don’t be too quick to jump to over-the-counter solutions unless it’s absolutely necessary. Nature is chock full of remedies that can help you boost your immunity and alleviate symptoms of sickness.

Here are 4 natural foods and remedies that will help you get through cold and flu season:

Garlic
Raw garlic is an everyday superfood that should be included in daily meals to keep your immune system strong. It’s an anti-viral, anti-bacterial, anti-fungal powerhouse! In fact, one study found that consuming a garlic supplement every day reduced the number of colds by 63%, and even those who did get a cold had it last just an average of 1.5 days. Garlic is also full of vitamins, minerals, and fiber for overall health. Chop it up and sprinkle it on something every day, whether you’re sick or not!

Apple Cider Vinegar, Lemon, Honey, Ginger, and Water
This remedy is great for coughs or sore throats, and should be consumed like a tea. Boil some hot water, add a capful of apple cider vinegar, a squeeze of fresh lemon, ½ a teaspoon of raw honey, and some sliced fresh ginger. The combination of acidity, B-vitamins, Vitamin C, and the general cocktail of immunity-boosting compounds will soothe irritation and help your body begin to recover. The warmth and mild sweetness will also soothe your soul and help you rest while keeping you hydrated.

Oil of Oregano
This is most effective if taken right after exposure or at the first sign of a cold. It can also help to relieve sinus congestion when combined with steaming hot water and inhaled deeply. Oil of Oregano is available at many health food stores and is a powerful anti-microbial that can stop viruses and bacteria from proliferating.

Coconut Oil and Peppermint/Eucalyptus Essential Oil
This makes a great chest rub if your lungs are feeling sore and your sinuses aren’t clear. Combine a dollop of coconut oil with a few drops of peppermint and/or eucalyptus oil and rub it on your chest or back before going to sleep. The soothing massage will relieve some of the physical discomfort while the essential oils can help clear your breathing passages as you inhale the oils while sleeping.

Additional ways to reduce the severity and duration of colds:

  • Use a humidifier in your bedroom
  • Blow your nose regularly to eliminate germs quickly
  • Stay hydrated
  • Just rest, don’t try to multitask
  • Reduce sugar – it lowers immunity
  • Eat nutrient-dense foods like eggs, kale, or beans

What’s your go-to natural cold remedy? Share in the comments below!

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Heal Your Pet Like Yourself

Heal Your Pet Like Yourself

My dog, Amber, is 15 years old now. We got her as a puppy for our son when he was 8. We felt that was a good age for our son to have his first dog to care for. Having had several dogs while I was growing up, I raised our dog like mine were raised by my parents. We fed them typical dry dog food and sometimes canned dog food but it wasn’t the kind of high quality dog food we have out on the market today. Back then I’m sure we wouldn’t have even given them the highest quality food because we didn’t know what we know today. And then there were the table scraps. We always fed our family dogs table scraps (didn’t everyone do that back then?). So that’s what we did for Amber … some Sundays, she even got bacon grease on her dry food. She LOVED her Sunday breakfasts.

Two years ago, Amber was diagnosed first with pancreatitis and then diabetes. After doing some research and speaking to the Vet about how she developed this disease, we discovered that she got it the same way humans do … poor diet. So that set my husband on a quest to figure out what was so poor about her diet. It turns out EVERYTHING … the dry dog food was filled with additives, by-products and grains that are not good for consumption. Dogs are carnivores which means they survive on meat (not by-products which can mean ground up poultry parts and grains). And then add to that the dinner scraps (which sometimes contained the grease drippings and sauces our foods were cooked in) and you have a recipe for bringing on diabetes.

That’s when it ‘hit home’ for me … food has the ability to create health or create disease … for dogs and for humans. So my life’s work two years ago became focused on how to feed my dog food that would heal her.

We started by dutifully following the advice of our Vet and fed her Hill’s Science Diet, the #1 Veterinarian Recommended dog food. I figured if my Vet was recommending it, it must be good food. But Amber’s blood glucose numbers were extremely high and we had great difficulty getting those numbers to come down. The Vet suggested that we increase her insulin and so we did … about 6 times over the course of 2 months. Amber wasn’t getting better, she was losing weight and looking so unhealthy. So my husband again researched what ingredients were in her high quality dog food and, even though it had better ingredients in it, the first two were listed as “Brown Rice, Brewers Rice” which indicated to us that this was a carb-rich food. By the way, did you know that pet food labeling does not provide us with the carb calculations? According to Coast & Range, “Dogs have no nutritional requirement for carbohydrates, yet dog food is loaded with carbs because they are cheap fillers. Carbohydrates, especially starchy carbs, have been linked to health problems in dogs (like obesity and diabetes). Unlike in human food, pet food companies aren’t required to disclose the carbohydrate levels in their foods.” Once we did the calculations, our Hill’s Science Diet dog food had a carb ratio of 54%! No wonder Amber wasn’t getting better, her body was fighting to heal from the very problematic foods a human diabetic would be told to stay off of in order to get better.

So why would a highly trained professional not know this information? Well I found it is because Veterinarians are not trained in nutrition (just like our medically trained doctors are not). And I also found out that big pet food companies influence Vet students while they are in school and convince them to sell their products (and Veterinarians may even receive kick-backs for the food they sell).

If you find that your fur baby dog has developed diabetes, do yourself a favor and join Facebook groups that specialize in canine or feline diabetes. It will save your pet’s life. I learned so much about canine diabetes in these groups that were run by experienced Vets who have/had diabetic pets of their own. They took their medical training knowledge, paired it with nutrition that they learned outside of Vet school training, and joined forces with other pet owners who are passionate about giving our diabetic sugar babies the quality of life they deserve. I learned to trust my intuition that their advice made more sense than the advice of my own Vet.

After lots of experimenting with foods, both store bought and homemade, it turns out that my sugar baby loves home cooked meals so this mama whips up a batch of ground turkey and vegetable stew every 3 days to give my dog the nutrition and pleasure she so deserves. We also supplement with a vitamin chew daily to supplement what might be lacking in her meals.

Below is my latest recipe that Amber loves. * Disclaimer: this recipe has not been analyzed for nutritional value by any diabetic nutritionist. My goal was to find a way to feed her whole foods that would heal her body, help her gain weight, build her strength and prolong her life with quality living. I believe we have achieved that.

Turkey and Vegetable Stew

3 lbs ground turkey, lean
6 oz frozen chopped collard greens
7.5 oz (1/2 can) 100% pure pumpkin
4 oz beef liver
1 ½ cups no sodium chicken stock *
2 cans Nulo Freestyle Salmon & Chickpea, canned dog food

Add all ingredients to a crockpot except the Nulo canned food, cook on high for up to 3 hours. Chop and mix occasionally to break up the ground turkey.

Once the stew is cooked and blended, turn off the crockpot and let cool. Add the 2 cans of Nulo Freestyle to the mix. (At one time, Amber liked eating this canned food but once she rejected it, I didn’t want to waste it so I now add it to her stew and she loves it again).

* Ideally I would use bone broth as it is rich in minerals that support the immune system and contains healing compounds like collagen, glutamine, glycine and proline. The collagen in bone broth heals your gut lining and reduces intestinal inflammation.

Just as a cautious warning from ASPCA Poison Control Center, please never feed your pet the following ingredients; they have the potential to be poisonous to his/her system:

  • onions
  • garlic
  • chives
  • chocolate
  • raisins
  • grapes
  • xylitol
  • avocado
  • coffee, tea (caffeine)
  • nuts
  • alcohol
  • citris
  • coconut and coconut oil
  • yeast dough

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6 Natural Ways to Reduce Anxiety

6 Natural Ways to Reduce Anxiety

You wake up at 3 am with your heart racing. You have a pit in your stomach. You feel restless, light-headed, and hot. Your mind starts to race, and before you know it, you’re worrying about the list of things that need to be done tomorrow. Though mind and body reactions may vary, these symptoms are often an indication of anxiety.

According to the Mayo Clinic, occasional anxiety is normal, but those with anxiety disorders experience powerful, excessive, and constant worry and fear about normal circumstances. Anxiety disorders can involve episodes of intense fear, resulting in a panic attack, and these feelings can often interfere with everyday life.

While anxiety can require medication and professional intervention, there are natural ways that may help calm you when those jittery feelings come on. Check out our natural anti-anxiety remedies below.

Chamomile

This popular herb is a go-to for calming. In fact, one study found that those with generalized anxiety disorder who took chamomile supplements had a significant decrease in symptoms of anxiety. Brew yourself a cup of tea at night or opt for a chamomile supplement.

Exercise

Have you ever experienced a “runner’s high,” the sense of mental clarity and calmness you feel after vigorous exercise? Aside from its physical health benefits, exercise can act as an immediate and long-term antidote to depression and anxiety. Physical exercise also produces endorphins, which are chemicals in the brain that act as natural painkillers. For an extra boost of relaxation, head to the sauna after your workout – the warming sensation can impact the neural circuits that control your mood, including those that affect serotonin.

Meditate

When you’re anxious, it can feel like your brain is constantly racing. A great way to calm anxiety and quiet your mind is through meditation. Meditation focuses on replacing chaotic, anxious thoughts with a sense of calm and mindfulness. If you’re new to meditation, try a guided meditation app, such as Headspace, Calm, or Aura.

Aromatherapy

Aromatherapy is the practice of inhaling the scent of essential oils to improve overall well-being; it’s a great option for anxiety relief and relaxation. Those who use essential oils find they help with sleep and mood as well as reducing heart rate and blood pressure. While each essential oil has its own use and effect, bergamot, lavender, clary sage, grapefruit, and ylang-ylang are great options to calm anxiety.

Eat…the right way

It can be tempting to reach for comfort foods when you’re anxious, but there are actually ways to nourish your body that will reduce uneasy feelings. Low blood sugar, dehydration, and the chemicals in processed foods can alter mood in some people, so it’s important to take note of how you feel after eating them. It can be helpful to hydrate, cut back on processed foods, and eat a healthy diet of complex carbohydrates, fruits, vegetables, and lean proteins. Try incorporating sources of omega-3s, like salmon, canned tuna, or walnuts, into your diet. Evidence suggests that omega-3 fatty acids can lessen symptoms of anxiety and increase mood by decreasing levels of adrenaline and cortisol.

Get outside

If you feel a pang of anxiety in the middle of the workday, take a 15-minute break for some sunshine!  Aside from removing yourself from what may be a stress-inducing environment, increased vitamin D levels can decrease symptoms of anxiety and depression. And while you’re at it, bump up those endorphins by taking a brisk walk around the block.

While natural remedies may ease symptoms of anxiety, if feelings and symptoms of anxiety are getting in the way of your work, relationships, or everyday life, it’s important to seek a professional opinion.

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