Bundle of the Week – Gluten & Grain Free

by Tiffany in Book Reviews

grain free bundle

The ebook bundle of the week is right up my alley and I am fairly excited about it. The theme is gluten and grain free and it includes 5 wonderful ebooks. For only $7.40 you get the following: Against the Grain, Beyond Grain & Dairy, The Grain-Free Snacker, Best of the Grain Free Meal Plans, Gluten Free and Good for You.

If you are curious about going grain free or want to try and eat fewer grains and gluten then these books are an excellent resource. I like to download these books to my Dropbox and then read them on my tablet in the evenings. Plus I can take the books with me “virtually” if I have to go sit in a line at the DMV. I didn’t use to be a big ebook person but I am officially converted! Enjoy!


Paleo for Health – Don’t Be a Hater

by Tiffany in Healthy Eating

Landscape with sheeps,cows.Vector paper art

I was motivated to write this post after a headline popped up on my Facebook feed today that declared the Paleo diet to be “pathetic”. The article went on to state a few reasons why paleo isn’t the end all be all that everyone seems to think it is and most of them were either incorrect or just plain unfair. I get it! If you love your rice and sourdough bread then I understand why you are sick to death of hearing about paleo and why that slice of bread in your hand is B-A-D. You don’t want to hear it, I get it. I have been there and I am sure many other paleo/primal folks were too. Giving up grains in our current “grainaholic” society is hard. That is not a sufficient reason to be hating on paleo though. There is frankly a lot to love about this way of eating and unlike some other militant foodie groups (that I will not call out by name) you aren’t thrown out of the club if you stray and eat some rice with your sushi.

Paleo might not be the end all be all of diets but for many, it comes pretty darn close. People see health improvements while on a variety of diets because they typically have some of the same things in common, the removal of some unhealthy food choices. This is why someone on Atkins and someone on a raw food diet can both see health improvements, because they both eliminate some things that detract from, and not enhance, our health.

I have tried many diets over the years (and at length) and nothing…not vegan, not vegetarian, not raw, not traditional WAPF, nothing changed my health for the better more so than paleo. I felt like something stuck to the bottom of a shoe on a vegan diet but I felt pretty good on a vegetarian diet. I also felt pretty good eating high raw and even better eating a traditional diet. I had to redefine what good felt like after going paleo…it was THAT pronounced and positive. Call it “pathetic” if you want but you won’t be convincing me any time soon that paleo is some kind of fad and that I have been dooped.

A common myth that surrounds paleo is that it is low carb and therefore unhealthy and ketogenic. Paleo is not low carb. Why perpetuate this flawed thinking? Paleo can be low carb if a person chooses to eat that way but it is not inherently so. I can eat lots of carbs on a paleo diet and I do….I just don’t need to get those carbs from grains and bread. I actually like carbs that have some real nutrition thank you very much. Veggies, greens, and fruit…can’t go wrong there. If my weekly menu plan does not include enough of these items then I get creative and fall back on the green smoothies I grew to love in my raw food days. I do what I have to do to get the nutrients I need. I do not sit back and let my health go to pot in the name of diet and thankfully paleo is a lot more sensible than that. In general, paleo foodies eat lots of carbs. Taste the rainbow…

Colorful vegetables and fruits

Another argument against paleo is that it is a myth to think humans have an optimal diet. It is true that humans evolved in very different manners and grew to eat different foods based upon what was available in their specific locale. Yes, humans adapted to eat different foods to survive. Does it follow though, that the foods they adapted to be able to even stomach suddenly become optimal for their health? Say what?? Uhm…no. Many humans have adapted and evolved so that they can eat grains, gluten, and dairy, yet that does not mean they are or ever will be optimal for good health. It just means we as a species have become better able to tolerate substandard food and much of these tolerances “evolved” because they provided us with a survival advantage in times of shortage or when the best foods were not available. These subpar foods did not evolve into healthy and nutritious foods. The nutrient profiles show us what the optimal foods are and eating other things just because we have built up a tolerance throughout the generations previous does not make those choices healthy or optimal.

Okay, what else is currently said about the caveman diet? Oh yes, it is elitist and expensive. Well, it can be…expensive that is. I have to say that I do not find it to be elitist. You ARE what you EAT. Of course we prefer the grassfed, nutrient dense, and healthy food over the factory farmed, diseased, and nutrient lacking food that is available in mass quantities at grocery stores. Is it really elitist to take a look at the two and choose the better one? I think not. I have only ever seen experts recommend the better quality foods, not insist that you give up if you cannot afford them. There are no paleo police out there keen on making you feel like dirt if your chicken came from Tyson. The attitude is that you do the best you can do with what you have.  It CAN be pricey. Yet, so is being sick and unhealthy. I had plenty of doctor bills while on vegan, vegetarian, and even WAPF diets. I now think of paleo food and my CrossFit gym memberships as additional health insurance premiums.

Lastly there is the argument that we are all different and we all need different foods at different times in our lives. Sure, I can agree. Though I cannot really agree that we have strong NEEDS for foods that lack in nutrient density and contain anti-nutrients so that we cannot even access the small amounts of nutrition they have…grains I am talking about you. We may like them and we may crave them but that speaks more to their addictive nature than it does true need. Paleo foodies usually follow an 80/20 or 90/10 rule to make exceptions for times when they want these foods. These exceptions are usually treats or compromises in social situations, not because bad food is actually needed.

This is one of the reasons I LOVE the paleo community, they are not militant like so many other diet dictocrats. I did 80/20 for a year but found that it was a little too slippery a slope for me and after doing The Whole 30 I went to 90/10 or less.  It’s all about finding what works for you. You may just find, as I did, that paleo feels so good that you find what works is a bit stricter than you ever thought you would go. It’s not a fad diet and if done right it is completely healthy. Don’t let the rantings of grain obsessed detractors sway you away from trying it.

To your health!


My Paleo Update and The Whole30

by Tiffany in Book Reviews, Healthy Eating

It has been a little over a year now since I decided to eschew my vegetarian diet and go paleo. It was just before Thanksgiving when I dived into the book Wheat Belly and in fact I was reading it before and after our Thanksgiving meal at my parent’s house. I felt like every paragraph was a revelation and I couldn’t wait to begin what I felt would be a brave new life journey. I wanted to see if going paleo would help with some nagging health issues that a plant based diet was having no success with. At that point I had already tried vegan, vegetarian, macrobiotic, raw, and a WAPF traditional foods diet. I didn’t try these for a few weeks and then cry about how they didn’t work out. I gave some of these a couple years, a year minimum usually.

I felt best on a raw diet or a traditional foods diet but none of them seemed to provide exactly what I was looking for. I am not even sure what I WAS looking for but I knew that I wasn’t sleeping well, I had too much visceral (belly) fat, I was hungry all the time, I had wicked cravings for junky food, and my hormones were not working as they should. After reading up on paleo it seemed to explain why I still had these nagging health issues. One month in I was hooked and now one year later I am still hooked and gung ho. I don’t think I ever quite knew what it felt like to feel good, I mean REALLY good until I dropped the grains and legumes. I didn’t even realize that I had been constantly bloated until that time either. For me that was normal…the way I felt every day. Now I know better and it is all thanks to a paleo/primal diet. I lost three pants sizes, my skin cleared up, I went all year with no ear or sinus infections (I had 2-3 each year throughout previous years), my thyroid issues improved, my energy levels skyrocketed, and I gained lots of muscle mass.

This diet experiment worked so well that is has now become my way of life. Yet at around the one year mark I had to admit that I didn’t go far enough. Instead of going full on paleo I went primal instead which allows for dairy products. I didn’t want to give up my yogurt and kefir (clarified butter is paleo and not a problem).

I also started out strictly primal and then eventually allowed myself to adopt the 80/20 rule that so many paleo/primal folks endorse….80% paleo/primal and 20% not. This became a problem for me because once I started eating that 20% I didn’t want to stop there. These foods were typically processed and/or filled with grains or added sugar. One of my 20% allowances was diet soda too and I KNEW that dose of artificial sweeteners was wreaking havoc on my hormones but this stuff was ADDICTING. Giving myself that 20% break did me no favors. I was a crack addict who felt that I could sneak in a hit now and then and be okay since it wasn’t an every day thing.

When my paleo anniversary came around I decided that I was on the right track. I did indeed find I what I was looking for in the caveman diet but I needed to bite the bullet and try it without the dairy and without that 20%. It was with this knowledge that I picked up a copy of It Starts with Food: Discover the Whole30 and Change Your Life in Unexpected Ways.

This book is every bit as ground breaking and life changing as Wheat Belly. I couldn’t put it down and had to keep reading bits and pieces aloud to my husband because it was just to darn important and I had to share. It has lots of science but it is broken down into easy to understand concepts. Some parts reminded me of  the movie Osmosis Jones. If you haven’t seen it you are really missing out! It’s a cartoon about the workings of your inner body and some of the ways in which bodily functions are described in this book are reminiscent of the clever way that immunity, illness, and inflammation is shown in the movie. Want to know what a leaky gut is and why it is bad?? You will know after you read this book.

The book essentially goes through the functions and processes of four of your body’s hormones and how the food you eat directly impacts those functions. Some of the effects you may see and feel right away. Others are relatively silent but the damage is still being done. I knew the basics of all of it but this book really linked it together in ways I had not quite grasped. It also discusses the psychological effects of the food we are eating and how our body is sending signals to eat the wrong types of foods and making us crave them. Either by design or by accident ( I go with the former) the food industry has found a way to make our own bodies turn against us and crave the worst foods by creating foods that activate the aforementioned hormones. The damage being done is devastating…obesity, depression, fibromyalgia, thyroid disorders, insulin resistance, IBS, lupus, diabetes, horrible cravings, allergies, autoimmune disorders, and all manner of disease. Genetics may load the gun if you have a predisposition to some of this stuff but it really is your choice to pull the trigger or not and certain food choices pull that trigger.

The book makes a great case for why certain foods are making us sick and what we can do. The Whole30 is essentially a strict paleo plan and I knew that going in but it was still great to get a refresher course in why we need to avoid grains, legumes, soy, and a variety of other popular foods. There are four different criteria they use to decide which foods need to go. All the foods eaten during the 30 days have to create a healthy psychological response, a healthy hormonal response, support a healthy gut, and support immune function and minimize inflammation. The foods on the no list all fail to meet these criteria. They may fail on one count (dairy) or all four (grains, sugar). Either way you avoid those foods for the duration of the program.

The book has numerous personal stories from people who have done it to provide a little more incentive but I think the way you begin to feel even in the earliest days are incentive enough.  I am looking forward to finishing my 30 days and reporting back but it is my goal to be strict paleo from here on out and avoid all dairy. I also plan to quit that 20% rule because even that 20% is enough to mess with my hormones and wreak all sorts of havoc.

I think 2013 is going to be a very good year!


Bulu Box Giveaway! Superior Vitamins and Supplements

by Tiffany in Tidbits

I have made it no secret that I adore the idea of subscription boxes with monthly goodies. I have tried many of them, mostly related to healthy food products and eco friendly products. Each month it feels like you have been given a wonderful gift (even though you bought the boxes) and going through them and trying everything is super exciting and fun. It is also a great way to try products sample sizes affordably and see how you like them before you buy certain products at full price. I have discovered lots of great stuff because of these box subscription services… tooth powder, shampoo, herbal soaps, snacks foods, and many other goodies.

That said I have long wanted to try a Bulu Box and crazily enough have yet to drop the hammer on that one. I guess it is because I am so picky about food (no grains) and supplements (high quality only) and don’t want to be disappointed but I seriously have to try this one. It is the first box subscription dedicated to superior vitamins and supplements for men and women and with how expensive many of these products are (my fave fish oil is $60+ per tiny bottle!) this is an awesome way to get to try some new products without breaking the bank. They are also supposed to be superior products so none of the crap you find on clearance at big box stores.

About Bulu Box

The Bulu Box is the perfect example of try before you buy. Each month you are subscribed you will get a box with samples to try, along with coupons and discount codes for full-size products.  Try 4 to 5 nutritional samples monthly before you buy and discover what works best for you and your body. Watch the video to learn more.

Right now you can GET YOUR FIRST BOX FREE! All you do is sign up at Bulu box and use the code 1FREEBOX and your first month will be free. You can cancel anytime but you might want to stick around and check it out because I have heard that they have had some pretty worthwhile boxes.


The Prizes

1 year Gift Subscription ($120 value) AND a 1 year subscription ($120 value)… winner will get a 1 year subscription and can give a 1 year subscription to a friend.

Perfect Giveaway right before the Holidays…you have a gift to give a friend!!

The Giveaway will open up on 11/28 at 12:01 am EST and Close on 12/12 at 11:59 pm EST. Enter via the Rafflecopter below. Good Luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Blogs are not responsible for prize fulfillment. Sponsor will be sending the prize. Winning entrant will be emailed and be given 48 hours to respond before another reader is chosen. Giveaway is open to US residents only. Complete giveaway terms and conditions.


TGIF! Illness, Hospitals, & Good Books

by Tiffany in Tidbits

Have a great weekend all! I will be taking it very easy myself because I was knocked onto my tush this week by a cold. I haven’t been sick in quite a long while and my good streak was abruptly ended by a week and a half of bad eating. I had it coming. Life got busy with school graduation parties, a visit from an out of country relative, and a local blogger event. I ended up eating only 50-60% paleo and had grain based meals several times, plus a dessert here and there. All the grains and sugar did me no favors and I will remember this next time I think that having that bread is no big deal. I only managed to get to CrossFit one day this week and that is a big freakin deal! I just feel totally off when I can’t exercise. :(

On the plus side though my baby graduated from preschool and will enter Kindergarten next year. He won a box of Whoppers (the candy) and a Whopper Award for being the biggest story teller. His teacher (whom he loves) also told us how devastated she is by the idea that he won’t be in her class anymore. We get that a lot actually. His future school already has two therapists vying for who gets to work with him. Even with all his issues (autism) he is just the sweetest and most fun child ever. It makes it hard to instruct him because you don’t want to make him focus when he is telling these grand and ridiculously funny stories. I hope and pray he will continue to get teachers who find him so endearing and fun and not get some old grouch who thinks he needs to have that stomped out of him.

I also enjoyed a visit from my big brother who is in the States visiting from his home in Indonesia. He is with the State Department and is in DC for a spell before he moves to Islamabad, Pakistan. It is always nice to catch up with him since I so rarely see him. I adore both of my brothers and am actually taking my younger brother with me to BlogHer 12 in New York City (August).

Which reminds of how excited I am getting about attending my first BlogHer!! Woot! Though lately the #Blogher12 hashtag on Twitter has been making me anxious because its a lot of women trying to sell themselves to brands, begging to get into private parties, and throwing tantrums when they don’t get in. I would say it feels like highschool but wouldn’t know since I didn’t attend highschool personally. I skipped two years, earned my diploma, and went right into college and the first two years I did at home since I had a full time job at 14. At any rate I think I just need to focus on all the lovely ladies I am dying to see (and there are many) and not worry so much about the circus that I feel Blogher 12 will almost certainly be.

In other blogging news I went to a local blogger event this past weekend here in Columbus, Ohio for the new Nationwide Children’s Hospital. It was an amazing place. Much of it was designed by folks who also design children’s museums so it was kinda like Disneyland in many aspects. Beautiful!

I hope my kids never have to go there but I also really respect this organization since they treated my oldest at 5 years old and they were the ones who finally diagnosed him with epilepsy. It was also refreshing to be able to actually have your sick child stay at the best hospital system in the state with the required specialists. In Arizona my son was hospitalized twice and BOTH times Phoenix Children’s was full and not able to take him.

I must also confess that I kinda love hospitals. Sounds weird, I know but I was pre-med before I got pregnant with my first and decided I needed to aim lower with my career goals. I used to read books like this, about interns and medical residencies, just for fun. I find it all fascinating and exciting. I was also impressed with how eco friendly they are. Recycling bins in the patient rooms, LED lights, LEED certified power station and research facilities. They are also a sugar free beverage facility which means you cannot buy sugary soda or juice in that hospital anywhere (even vending machines) and they have better choices for food too. In addition to their cafeteria where every single item has the nutritional info and allergy info (gluten, nuts, etc.) on large overhead screens there is also a whole foods chinese place. I think this is pretty awesome because the OSU heart hospital downtown actually has a McDonalds inside of it. Epic fail.

Anyway it was nice to tour the hospital, meet some local bloggers, and do a Q&A with some of their doctors, one of whom was an autism expert. We also got lunch and a bag of hospital branded swag… a reusable cup, mouse pad, band-aid dispenser, journal, etc. It was nice, practical stuff. You can see the Flickr photos of the event here. I am in a few of them. And yes, that is a car inside the hospital. It is for teens and young adults who need to learn or re-learn how to drive after being disabled in some way.

Nationwide Children's Hospital Exclusive Blogger Event (Sneak Preview of New Hospital)

So that was my week…

What I am Reading: 

For fiction I read BitterBlue, the sequel to Graceling and the companion to Fire. Amazing! All three of these books should be on everyone’s must read list.

I also read Insurgent the sequel to Divergent. Very, very good book and series though the end confused me. I feel like it went right over my head so if anyone has read it and can explain the significance I would much appreciate it.

For non-fiction I read Plastic Free by my bloggy friend Beth. It is beyond awesome! It really makes you take a hard look at all the plastic in your life and what you can do to reduce that. This is one area I plan to concentrate on more in 2013 and this book will be a huge help.

I am also uber excited by the announcement that a new MaryJane Butters book is coming out about Glamping which is Glamour+Camping. I am the type who likes to eat lobster and crab legs by the campfire and sleep in a tent trailer so I totally get “Glamping”.

Have a great weekend!