When a Nutritionist May Help More Than a Doctor

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Ever since I got sick in Spain four years ago, my digestive system has not been the same. For a while, I treated it on my own by cutting out food groups such as dairy. Slowly, there were other foods I was having trouble tolerating and I started to notice my digestive issues would affect my mental state, energy levels, and overall immunity.

My experience working with a Gastroenterologist.

I knew it was time to see an expert so I scheduled a few appointments with a GI doctor. I went through a few tests and procedures but nothing concrete came out of them so my doctor was adamant on doing more tests to find the real issue.

She was really looking for a serious IBD like Crohn’s, Celiacs, etc. and she was looking for all the right reasons. However, my gut feeling (no pun intended) was telling me that we may need to take a step back as the issue may be a bit more subtle.

I wanted to talk about lifestyle changes and diet modifications before I went through more invasive procedures but the one time my doctor and I discussed nutrition, all she did was hand me a list of 50 foods I should try eliminating from my diet (aka a low FODMAPs) diet. I was so overwhelmed and discouraged.

I felt like it was time to consult a nutritionist.

When I finally began seeing a nutritionist.

There’s so much information out there on nutritionist and it’s hard to find someone who is right for your personal goals. Luckily one of my friends recommended me to see Mary Vance in San Francisco. While researching Mary’s practice, I could tell Mary was extremely passionate and well-informed about holistic nutrition. She even listed on how she helps people overcome digestive issues so I could tell she was the right person for me.

The first step to working with Mary was to fill out a detailed questionnaire about diet, symptoms, lifestyle, and mental health.All of these factors can affect the gut and she really wanted to see the big picture. I spilled my heart while answering her questions because all of it seem so fitting in terms of what I was going through.

The biggest contrast between working with a doctor vs. a nutritionist is the time you get the spend with the two. A visit with my doctor would be no longer than 10-15 minutes. My first visit with Mary was an hour and a half long! Nutritionists can take more time to get deep and truly understand what can be causing the issue. I’ve learned that gut health is complicated and there is no cure that fits all.

The Initial Remedy

I’ve been instructed to cut out coffee, dairy, gluten, and soy for at least a month to reduce inflammation. I was skeptical about cutting out gluten because I had always assumed for the general population, gluten-free diets were a fad. But I was ready to listen to almost anything to feel better.

Mary knows what she’s talking about because I am already starting to see a difference in my gut health. It’s only been a few weeks and sure I’m not feeling perfect yet, but I feel like I’m getting one step closer to the truth and to finding the right balance for myself.

When I wrote my last post on anxiety and my health problems a lot of you told me how you were able to relate. I’ll definitely keep you all updated with my progress in the hope of providing you a little bit of guidance!

*A nutritionist is a great addition to a doctor but please consult your doctor first if you are experiencing health issues. Please note my opinions and experiences may differ from your own – there’s no one perfect solution!

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My Kind of Retail Therapy: Whole Foods

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Hi all!

How was everyone’s weekend? Mine was great! I went to a music festival in San Francisco, Outside Lands, all weekend with my boyfriend and some friends. It was a bit exhausting but it felt great being able to disconnect from my regular routine. Oh I also got to see one of my favorite artists EVER, Lana Del Rey :D.

Soo I’m working on another more thoughtful, raw post but I need some time before I can fully write it. Honestly I can’t really figure out how to vocalize how I feel….my words haven’t caught up to my mind yet. But anyways, it will happen in due time!

What I can share is that I have had more than a couple of bad days these past few months and I’ve need different outlets to brighten my mood. Sometimes it’s yoga or a nice walk, but other times good-old retail therapy seems to do the trick.

My kind of retail therapy does not include shoes, clothes, or handbags, but rather a few fun snacks from Whole Foods. I don’t shop there on a weekly basis but I like to treat myself to quirky vegan, gluten-free, healthier treats occasionally.

Here’s a few things from my shopping “haul” last week (I’ve wanted to use that word ever since I saw Blair Fowler doing them on YouTube 10 years ago).

Whole Foods Haul

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    1. Harmless Harvest Raw Coconut Water – I discovered this coconut water a couple of years ago at Whole Foods and it’s now my favorite packaged coconut water! For a while I could only find them at Whole Foods but luckily they are available at many more places now.
    2. I Heart Keenwah Quinoa Puffs – I tried these puffs our Chicago office and I was addicted instantly. They are a local Chicago brand so I wasn’t sure if I would be able to find them here but luckily Whole Foods carries the brand!
    3. Veggie Fresh Rolls – These look very pretty but were a tad bit dry. Will try making my own version at home soon.
    4. Grindstone Bakery Chocolate Chip Cookie – Hmm this cookie is a bit mealy and dry but still enjoyable (probably because it had chocolate). Though calories are not a huge deal for me and I was a bit surprised the cookie is over 500 calories. I’m sure they are nutrient dense!
    5. Kite Hill Vegan Cheese – nothing compares to the real thing, but Kite Hill makes a good alternative.

Any recommendations on what I should try next?

P.S. I’m doing a fun ab-challenge on Instagram for the month of August. Follow along if you aren’t already 🙂

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Kruti Shah Shares Her Experience with an Eating Disorder

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Today, I want to share the story of a lovely young woman, Kruti Shah. I stumbled upon her Instagram and I was instantly hooked to her beautiful pictures and recipes. After scrolling through her feed, I saw she shared a few personal details: she is recovering from an eating disorder. I thought it was really brave of her to share intimate details about her personal life, and I wanted to know a bit more.

By opening up, Kruti hopes to break the stigma around mental health that exists especially in the South Asian community.

+Introduce Yourself!

KS: Hi everyone! My name is Kruti Shah and I was born and raised in Southern California. Currently, I’m a preschool teacher and volunteer on the side with children with early developmental delays. My goal is to work in healthcare as an Occupational Therapist. Recently, I’ve tapped into my passion of cooking with my food blog, which can be found on Instagram, where I share recipes and healthy eats. It’s become one of my favorite hobbies to be able to connect and inspire so many individuals.

+Why did you start your food instagram?

KS: I started my food blog on my personal account to share recipes and healthy eats with my friends and family, however it has grown way more than I anticipated. If it wasn’t for Instagram, I would not have stumbled upon an amazing company called Wear Your Label, where their goal is to end the stigma around mental health. I’m so thankful for the connections I’ve made through Instagram, it’s opened up so many new friendships for me, and it’s been amazing to know that I have such a strong support system especially throughout recovery.

+Do you mind sharing a bit more about your struggles with ED?

KS: I’ve struggled with an eating disorder for quite some time now, although I’ve gotten much better, I still don’t know what full recovery means, I just know that I’m headed in the right direction. I was 14 when I first looked in the mirror and thought I wasn’t worthy, I wasn’t pretty enough, and I hated the way I looked. I began to cut calories, exercise more, and almost always went to sleep hungry.

I’ve come a long way since my initial days, and I know the journey for me is still in progress, but I could not be more proud of where I am today. I’m learning to not fear food, find a balance, and most of all cultivate self-love.

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+How was it like sharing what you were going through with friends & family? I imagine it must have been hard.

KS: Sharing my story with family and friends initially gave me great anxiety, and it wasn’t something I felt comfortable discussing. However throughout the years, I’ve learned to own my story, and not allow my struggle to define who I am. I’ve always felt judged for the way I look and the way I eat, but I’m learning to ignore those judgments, and just do me.

+Did you end up getting professional health?

KS: I did receive professional help with the encouragement of my brother. I always thought that I could recover on my own, and I did not need help from anyone, but I hit a point in my life where I realized that I can’t do it alone anymore, it was exhausting. Also, I was discouraged to seek help again because of the judgment/stigma around seeing a psychologist, but I moved past that it has been one of the best decisions.

+Ok, turning to a fun question now! What’s your favorite nourishing (or healthy) meal?

KS: Avocado toast, no doubt! I used to be so afraid of eating “fats,” nut butters, oils, avocado, but now I can’t live without any of them! I love how creative you can get with such a simple combination of smashed avocado on toast and the toppings are endless!

 

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+Do you have any advice for women struggling with an eating disorder?

KS: Don’t be afraid to ask for help. One of my biggest struggles was opening up and sharing my story with family and friends, but it is so important to find a strong support system. It can be scary, but the constant support and encouragement I’ve received has helped me tremendously. It is easy to hide behind a wall and feel alone, but remember that you never are.

There are so many others who are struggling as well, and there are a number of resources to help you find a way out. I don’t know what full recovery looks like, but I know that I’m working towards it, and I’ve made so much progress. For anyone struggling, always look at how far you’ve come, and remember that you’re not alone.

+Last question! What’s a motto/mantra you live by?

KS: As cliché as it may seem, I tell myself everyday that “everything happens for a reason.” I am trying to see my eating disorder in a positive light, and I know without ED I would not be where I am today. I’ve been fortunate to connect with so many wonderful individuals, and most importantly I’ve grown and learned so much about myself. Our vulnerabilities are our greatest strengths, and ED has helped me understand that.

—-

I know this topic isn’t as light-hearted as my previous posts but being health is a lot more than just your physical state, your mental state is equally if not more important. I’m so thankful that Kruti took some time to share her story.

*photo credit: Kelsey Schroeder

A Healthy Guide to New York City

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I wish I could live in New York for the summer; the city is perfect for a couple of months: there’s so much to do and most importantly, so much to eat!

Instead of searching for the best bagels, pizza, and street-food in New York City, I’m usually on the hunt for trendy healthy spots. It’s so satisfying finding food that is yummy AND good for you.

I barely scratch the surface with this list but hopefully it gives you an idea of a few places to check out next time you’re in the city. If you live there, I would love suggestions for future visits!

Where to eat in New York City:

Two Hands Cafe: I was walking to work one day and stumbled upon Two Hands cafe. Their bowls and breakfast items are made for Instagram and their waiters are pretty cute :).

The Butcher’s Daughter: A open and airy juice shop and cafe. I’ve only tried their juices but they were delicious.

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Van Leeuwen Ice Cream: All right ice cream may not be the healthiest option out there but I was so excited to find a place with good vegan ice cream. I tried their vegan dark chocolate ice cream with vegan chocolate syrup and it tasted heavenly!

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By CHLOE: I was blown away by how busy this restaurant gets. No matter at what time you go, there is a line out the door. The avocado pesto pasta & mac and cheese were good but what really hit the spot were the vegan desserts. I’ll definitely come back when I’m craving cupcakes!

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Hu Kitchen: Paleo-friendly casual dining spot with snacks, meals, and juices. I’ve tried the almond crusted chicken and chia seed pudding and enjoyed them both.

Can someone send me back to New York please? I would really love some vegan ice cream right about now!

Raw Turmeric Latte (Vegan)

Hi friends!

It feels good to finally get back to the blog! I took a long hiatus while traveling these past couple of weeks and I’m so ready to be back. Today, I’ll be sharing a a raw turmeric milk recipe :D.

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I originally shared this recipe on Brown Girl Magazine but I also want to share a version of the same recipe here under a different name.

This raw turmeric milk tastes just like thandai (a traditional indian beverage) but it’s way more healthy! I was inspired to create this recipe after trying the turmeric milk at Project Juice. I was obsessed with it immediately but I knew I could recreate it at a much lower cost (FYI I talk about my thoughts on the turmeric milk trend here).

Ingredients:

1 cup of almonds, soaked overnight
4 cups of water
5 medjool dates
2-3 cardamom pods, ground
1 tsp of turmeric powder
½ tsp of cinnamon
Dash of black pepper
Pinch of saffron

Instructions:

    1. Place your almonds in a large bowl and fill it with water. Soak them overnight to allow them to sprout. I’ve read that this helps neutralize phytic acid and helps release an enzyme that helps with digestion.
    2. The next morning add your almonds and about a cup of water to your blender and start pulsing. I like to add the water a little at a time to gauge the creaminess of the milk.
    3. Blend the rest of the ingredients while slowly adding more water.
    4. Strain the mixture using a cheese cloth or nut milk bag over a large pot or bowl.
    5. Pour the milk back into the blender to help serve.
    6. Add some ice & garnish with crushed cardamom and a pinch of saffron!

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You can use the leftover almond meal to make a lighter version of the thandai by adding it back to the blender with more water. Or you can use it to top off your oatmeal, add it to a dessert, or like me, eat it plain.

The turmeric milk should stay good for up to a week refrigerated! It’s so good you have to try it out!

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raw turmeric latte made with homemade almond milk. Sweetened with dates

Coconut Cream Chia Seed Pudding (Dairy-Free)

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The chia seed pudding trend has been going strong for the past couple of years, but have you guys tried it with dairy-free coconut cream?

GAME CHANGER.

I’ve recently became obsessed with coconut cream – I want to put it on everything and eat it by the spoon. It’s so rich but still nutritious – I love it.

This chia seed pudding makes a great healthy dessert option. The recipe requires just a little bit of prep, but it’s super simple to follow. Trust me, I’m not one to create complicated recipes.

Serving Size: 4
Prep Time: 10 mins to prepare, 8 hours to chill 

Ingredients

Chia seed pudding:
1 cup almond milk (sweetened or unsweetened)
1 cup coconut milk, unsweetened
1/2 cup chia seeds
1 tsp of raw honey or maple syrup

Coconut cream:
1 can of coconut milk
1 tsp of honey or maple syrup – optional
Sprinkles & mint to garnish -optional

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Directions:

For the chia seed pudding:

In a medium bowl or glass container, stir together almond milk, coconut milk and chia seeds. Cover with plastic wrap or lid and let it chill in the refrigerator for at least three hours. But since I’m making the coconut cream too, I let it chill overnight. Before serving, stir pudding again.

For the coconut cream:

Before we get into how to make coconut cream, make sure you get the right coconut milk. Don’t get the one in the refrigeration section with the almond milk, and other dairy products but rather, get a full fat coconut milk that you use to cook.

I’ve heard some brands of coconut milk whip better than others but i honestly I haven’t experimented much. I found this helpful guide on which coconut brands are the best for coconut cream.

Refrigerate the can of coconut milk overnight. In the morning, open the can and scoop out the solid part (the coconut cream) into a large bowl. Discard the remaining liquid portion.

Using an electric mixer, add the honey/maple syrup if you’d like and whip the coconut cream until the texture is smoothy and creamy. I tried using a hand beater and it worked, but an electric mixer would yield better results.

Top the chia seed pudding with the coconut cream! You can refrigerate and save for later but the coconut cream will no longer be a whipped texture. If you let it out in room temperature though for a few minutes, it softens up a bit.

Enjoy 🙂

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