Thursday, July 31, 2014

Treating Gestational Diabetes Naturally

Treating Gestational Diabetes Naturally

Guest Post, By: Leslie Vandever

You’re around halfway through your pregnancy when your doctor informs you that your most recent blood tests show that you have gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM).

“How will this affect my baby?” you wonder after you’ve recovered from the initial shock. “Will I have to take medicine for it?” Which makes you question “how will that affect my baby?” And “how can I keep both of us healthy?”

Like other forms of diabetes, GDM causes insulin resistance. Insulin is the substance that unlocks the cells so they can take in blood sugar (glucose) for energy. In GDM, the placenta, the living membrane that transfers nutrients, blood, and water from the mother to the infant, produces certain hormones that interfere with how insulin works. The result is that the cells can’t get the vital fuel they need to function properly.

To counteract this, during pregnancy the mother’s body naturally produces about three times as much insulin as normal to keep her blood sugar—and her baby’s—under control.

But in about 5 percent of all pregnant women, even that isn’t enough. The unused glucose builds up in the bloodstream, and eventually, it can threaten the health of the mother and her baby. Doctors usually test for GDM around the 24th week of pregnancy, when the unused blood glucose builds up to a detectible level.

The good news? Up to 90 percent of women diagnosed with gestational diabetes are able to control it simply and naturally by eating well and getting regular exercise.

How Diet Combats GDM
Your body converts the foods you eat into glucose for use as fuel. Different foods convert in different ways. Simple carbohydrates convert quickly: sugar, high fructose corn syrup, foods made from white flour such as white bread, pastas, and cereals, and white rice. When you eat these foods, there’s a rapid surge of glucose throughout the body for use as quick, short-term energy.

That glucose surge can, however, quickly overwhelm the body’s ability to produce enough insulin to take care of it. Some of it is stored for later use in the liver, and some of it in the form of fat. A lot of glucose stays in the bloodstream, too, eventually causing serious damage.

Fruit, vegetables, and whole-grain foods are complex carbohydrates. They also convert into glucose, but they contain a lot of fiber, which slows the digestion process down considerably. This allows only a gradual trickle of glucose into the bloodstream. Your body is much better able to use all of it efficiently.

So, a healthy GDM diet is balanced, rich in vegetables and fruits, whole grain breads, pastas and cereals; proteins like eggs, milk, yogurt, and cheese; brown rice, beans and legumes; and lean meats such as chicken, and in limited amounts, fish.

Reserve sugary drinks, snacks, and desserts as very rare treats.

And What About That Exercise?
Every move you make requires fuel in the form of glucose. Your body burns more of it, faster, when you exercise regularly. It doesn’t have to be strenuous exercise. A jaunty 30-minute walk, four days a week, will work just fine (though you can do more if you want). You can even break it into two, 15-minute walks each day if you like. You can also go to the gym, swim, do water exercises, dance, hike, or ride a bike. Do what you enjoy so it’ll be easier to stick to and turn into a habit.

Combining a healthy, low-carb diet with daily or near-daily exercise may be all you need to keep your blood glucose under control—and both you and your developing baby healthy—in spite of GDM.

For more health-related information, click here.

Leslie Vandever is a professional journalist and freelance writer with more than 25 years of experience. She lives in the foothills of Northern California.


Friday, June 20, 2014

Food Addiction: It IS a Spiritual Battle

I realize it's been 15-months since my last post. And you have my deepest apologies. Hopefully, I haven't lost all of my readers, as you're the inspiration for my blog.

The past 15-months have been a roller coaster.

I have been completely overwhelmed with all that life groups, kids activities, homeschooling, play dates, homeschool co-op, health management, maintaining relationships, baptisms, birthdays, holidays, date nights, All Things New ministry obligations, etc. WHEW!

But, the biggest things have, quiet honestly, knocked me down for quite some time. It's no secret that my youngest has been a challenge from the day she was born. She's nearing her 3rd birthday and is still my strong-willed, challenging child. In April 2013 I had a 5th surgery for endometriosis, in which endometriosis was now found on my bladder and other "new" areas. This surgery brought me very little relief, so I tried out pelvic floor physical therapy. That didn't help, either. So, after many different Dr's opinions, it's been suspected that I have adenomyosis and a partial hysterectomy is schedule at the CEC in Atlanta, GA for next month. Emotionally, I've been completely drained. To top this off, our dog (almost 10-years old) got sick this past August and within 36 hours passed away. My oldest daughter (who is 7) had a horrible time with it. We dealt with anxiety and depression from her and sought out professional help for her. She is doing much better now, thankfully.

All of this to say, I lost myself...for a long time. And to cope with everything, I turned to what I So, I've also been battling my food addictions once again.

However, I've been meeting with two amazing women from my homeschool co-op and we've been going through the book, "Made to Crave." Between the book and my friends, I feel like I'm FINALLY getting back to who I was meant to be, who God says that I am... Healed, Healthy and Whole. They helped me see that food addiction is not all about me and my choices and lack of self-control, which I had been believing. Food addiction IS a spiritual battle! Check out some of these verses that I found today and will be standing on:

1 Corinthians 10:13 - No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.

2 Peter 2:9 - ...the Lord knows how to rescue the godly men from trials...

Ephesians 6:11 - Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.

Hebrews 2:18 - For in that he himself has suffered being tempted, he is able to succor them that are tempted.

See??? It's a spiritual battle! I have written each of these verses on notecards and I will be carrying them around with me, as my "armor." Below are the verses that really spoke deeply to me. I'll comment after each one, so you can see why.

Luke 4:13 - When the devil had finished all this tempting, he left him until an opportune time

Doesn't that just get you fired up??? It makes me so MAD!!! The devil waits around to tempt us at an opportune time. When we're at our weakest, he pounces, like a roaring lion! What a coward! I don't know about you, but this is enough to make me NOT want to eat that donut, cookie, or anything else I shouldn't be putting in my body!

James 1:13 - When tempted, no one should say, "God is tempting me." For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death. Don't be deceived.

The thing that stood out to me in this verse, is that it's first our own evil desires that the enemy uses to tempt us. (But, I WANT that cupcake!) The enemy then drags us away and entices us. What can happen here is this...we can stop! We still have power! We can call upon God and Jesus to "succor" us and to "rescue" us from this! However, once desire has planted itself, it gives birth to sin. We eat the darned cupcake. We give into the lie. And once we do that, it only leads to death. Death being weight gain, health problems, self-esteem issues, body image issues, or perhaps death itself if we give into our unhealthy desires too many times for too many years. "DON'T BE DECEIVED!"

James 1:12 - Blessed is the man that endures temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord has promised to them that love him.

I love this. Here's our number one reason to resist the temptation...God's promises. There's a reward. You will receive the crown of LIFE! Amen!

James 4:7 - Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you

Here's your game plan, people. RESIST. Resisting = the devil fleeing. Resisting = the craving fleeing. Resisting = success. Resisting = strength. Resisting = victory!

So, what am I eating?

I recalled the prayer cabin years ago, when I asked God what I was supposed to eat. His response was this:

"I provided everything to physically nourish you - tea, spices, fruits, vegetables, etc. in nature. When man starts messing with stuff and tries to create things better, it causes problems. Just like the story of Adam and Eve. The humans were deceived into thinking they knew better. Stick with me and my creations and you'll be fine."

I'm still formulating what exactly that means, when it comes to things like meat, grains and dairy. But, for now, I'm going to be sticking to non-processed foods as much as possible. I am also keeping a food journal so I can see how my body is reacting to certain foods, so I know which ones to avoid since every person's body is different.

So, what's your game plan? Do you struggle with food addiction and temptation? What works for you to succeed against them?

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Winter Cold Got You Down?

Who's over winter? ---> this girl <---

I feel like someone in my family has been sick almost every other week this winter. And just when the promise of spring was dangling all around me, I woke up to this yesterday morning:

Cruel. Cruel joke.

The good thing about being sick this winter though (cause you know, I always have to find the "bright side" of things) is that I've had plenty of opportunities to find natural remedies to cure the common cold. And remedies I did find. I've only gotten two colds this winter (that I can remember) and both times, it was over within 2 days using these remedies. Now, anytime I feel like a sore throat is coming on, or a tickle in my nose begins, I jump on these remedies. I don't even know how many colds I've completely avoided, just by doing these simple things! Oh, and most of them are kid-safe, too!

TIU's Get Well Smoothie
This smoothie is delicious! The only thing I recommend is that if you're diabetic, then cut this recipe in half. There are too many carbs in one-sitting in the full recipe. Also, add in the optional protein powder to help stabilize your blood sugars.

Umcka Children's Cold Care
This homeopathic cold syrup is supposed to "shorten the duration of common colds, brochial infections & sinus infections". It's supposed to reduce the severity of the cough, congestions & sore throats. It won't make your kids drowsy, either! It's safe for ages 2 and up. The only thing I don't like about it, is that it's got some maltodextrin in it, but given the other cold care products on the market for our children, this is one of the best.

Honey/Cinnamon Cough Suppresant
Make sure your honey is truly raw when making this recipe. Only raw honey has the benefits that honey can offer. Also, a note when giving this to kids: it can be a bit spicy from the cinnamon, so if they have a hard time with it, add a bit more honey to dilute it. But, my extremely picky kids had no trouble with this.

1 tsp raw honey
1/4 tsp cinnamon

Mix together. Eat.

Peppermint & Eucalyptus Essential Oils
Essential Oils can be used for so many great things! Make sure you are getting a good quality essential oil. Here's a great article on what to look for when searching for essential oils.

  • Both can be added to a vaporizer while you sleep
  • 1 drop of Peppermint can be added to each foot. Cover with a sock. Sleep.
  • 1 drop of Peppermint can be added to your temples or the front of your forehead to help relieve a sinus headache.
  • 1 drop of Eucalyptus can be rubbed on your chest to help you breathe better while you sleep.

"Melatonin is produced naturally in your body and helps maintain healthy sleep patterns as well as antioxidant and immune activities." We love this product in your house, cold or not. We all occasionally have issues with sleep and this product is safe and effective and keeps you from feeling drowsy the next day.

Fruit-Infused Water
Strawberries and Oranges are a great source of Vitamin C. Instead of giving your kids sugar-laden juice (which will actually make their illness worse and last longer), stick some fruit in their water and get them to drink, drink, drink!

Never underestimate the power of water! Water flushes toxins and bacteria out of the body, so the theory is: the more you drink, the faster you'll feel better. So, drink up!

Oil of Oregano
Oil of Oregano is said to "protect against pathogenic microbes, including bacteria, yeast, fungi and parasites". It also, "provides antioxidant protection" and "reduces inflammation" as well as "relieves seasonal allergies". I'm not going to lie, even though this product is "blended in a 1:4 ratio w/organic, cold-pressed, extra virgin olive oil", this stuff is POTENT! I've tried it in smoothies. It ruins the smoothie. I've tried it on skin. You smell like oregano. The best way to get this sucker down? Put 4 drops under your tongue and wait for the warming sensation. Then, chase with water! Though it's unpleasant to take, I swear it does the trick to take care of my cold!

Emergen-C Immune Support
Embergen-C "provides key nutrients your body needs like Vitamin C, Vitamin D, zinc and a proprietary immune complex." I love this product, but there are a few "other ingredients" that I am not so enthused about. For now, this product does the trick to give me those added immune support and vitamins that my body needs to fight a cold fast!

Readers: What are some of your favorite natural ways to overcome a cold?

Monday, March 18, 2013

Crazy Sexy Kitchen

I recently watched the documentary Crazy Sexy Cancer and instantly felt a connection with Kris' story. While my condition probably won't kill me, there is still no cure. And I've felt led to seek natural methods to try to get relief (and medical methods only when necessary). I became further intrigued and decided to check out her cookbook, Crazy Sexy Kitchen, from the library.

The first thing that I'll say about this cookbook is that, overall, I've loved almost every recipe that I've tried. And they are incredibly healthy! Below, I'm going to share a couple of my favorites with you.

Shredded Kale & Carrots 
with Almond Butter Dressing
This recipe is listed in the cookbook as a "Side Dish", but I eat a bigger helping and eat it as my main dish. The dressing has a sweet flavor and the salad has a tangy flavor. Together they are sooo delicious!

Almond Butter Dressing:
1/4 c almond butter
1/2 tsp lemon juice
1/4 c dates, pitted
1/2 c purified water
1 clove fresh garlic
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 tsp cardamom powder
1/4 tsp black pepper

Place all ingredients in a high-speed blender such as a Vitamix, and process on high until the dates have fully broken down into a thick, smooth, and creamy dressing.

Kale & Carrot Salad:
1 bunch lacinato kale (a.k.a. dinosaur kale)
1.5 carrots
1/2 c sliced celery
3/4 c hemp seeds
1/4 c thinly sliced scallions
1/2 c tightly packed fresh parsley, minced
1/4 c tightly packed fresh cilantro, minced
1/4 c tightly packed fresh mint, minced
1/4 c raisins

In a food processor fitted with the slicing disc, run whole leaves of washed and dry-spun kale through the machine, stem and all.

Switch out slicing disc for shredder disc and process carrots.

To serve: Place all ingredients in a bowl along with 3/4 c dressing, and massage and toss gently until the dressing is evenly distributed. (I added a tablespoon or two of more dressing to my bowl, right before eating it).


Walnut Falafel 
with Garlic Tahini Dressing
"Crazy Sexy Kitchen's falafel will fill you up, although it's much lighter and healthier than the traditional fried version. These are great wrapped in a collard leaf, stuffed in a pita, or on top of a salad." ~Crazy Sexy Kitchen

Note: I don't own a dehydrator (yet) so I tried the oven recipe. Mine didn't cook at the 250-degrees, so after cooking them at that temperature for the full 35 minutes, I upped the heat to about 300-degrees and kept checking them every 5-10 minutes.

Walnut Falafels:
1 cup raw almonds, soaked for a few hours or overnight in water, to soften
1 cup raw walnuts, soaked for a few hours or overnight in water, to soften
2 dates, pitted
3/4 cup sesame seeds, finely ground
1/2 cup minced parsley
1/4 cup minced cilantro
3 cloves garlic, minced
3T minced fresh oregano
2T olive oil
2T lemon juice
1/2 T cumin powder
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 tsp sea salt
5-6 leaves of butter lettuce

If using oven, preheat to 250-degrees-F. In a Champion Juicer or other juicer with a solid plate, homogenize the almonds, walnuts, and dates to a thick puree. Alternatively you could use food processor to puree until fine as possible. In mixing bowl, add remaining ingredients (except butter lettuce) to the nut puree and mix by hand. When thoroughly mixed, form a ball and pressing with your thumb in center. Dehydrate for 3-4 hours in dehydrator at 115-degrees-F or in the oven at 250-degrees-F for 30-35 minutes. Once the walnut falafel is crisp and/or golden if using oven, serve 4-5 on a bed of butter lettuce or your favorite delicate greens with Garlic Tahini Dressing.

I served mine by filling a coconut wrap with 2 falafels, mixed greens and drizzled with Garlic Tahini Dressing.

Garlic Tahini Dressing:
3/4 c tahini, raw or roasted
1.25 c water
3 cloves garlic
3T lemon juice
1T toasted sesame oil
2.5T tamari*
1.5T nutritional yeast (optional)

*I used coconut aminos, for a soy-free option.

In a high-speed blender, blend all ingredients until smooth.


Now, go check out this cookbook!

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Product Review: Balance, a PMS & Menopause Relief

AnuMed-Intl contacted me awhile back asking if I was interested in trying out a few of their products. I will be doing posts here and there to let you know about how their products tested out. Today, I'd like to share a review of their product called Balance, a PMS & Menopause Relief.

I wasn't comfortable trying out this product myself, because I'm pretty reluctant to try anything my Nautropath hasn't personally recommended for me. However, a friend of mine had just gone through a hysterectomy and was having some trouble with some of the symptoms that accompany that procedure. So, I asked her if she'd be willing to try the product and write the review and she agreed. So, consider this a guest post, by my friend, Nikki.


Due to my fight with stage 4 endometriosis I had a radical hysterectomy within the same month of my 40th birthday. I got a bottle of Balance before my surgery to try since I wouldn't be on hormone replacement pills. I know hysterectomies are quite common nowadays, however "common" isn't a word us Endo sisters are graced with. It was a long surgery, with a long hospital stay, followed with a long recovery time; over 10 weeks, to be exact.

I started getting hot flashes about 6 days after surgery with weeks 3-9 being the worst. They came on strong; about 10-15 flashes a day, ranging between 10 seconds to 25 minutes long.  At night it brought its evil friends, night sweats and insomnia.

Honestly, I was afraid and intimidated of this bottle at first.  I think if we are all honest with ourselves, we all know that sometimes these brown bottles contain nasty smelling/ tasting things (can I tell you a trick? Put a stick or two of mint gum in the bottle and B vitamins don't smell like B vitamins. Thanks to that idea from pinterest)! Or, maybe like my fish oils will make me burp nasty tasting burps? All I knew was that I didn't want to deal with yet another unpleasant thing! I was maxed out and over stimulated in this area of not being in control of my body! On top of being in pain, stuck to the only comfortable spot I could find at the moment which was the living room chair, sweating as my body was regulating my hormones, or lack there of, my hair in a pony, still in my comfortable yoga pants....again.

I gave myself a good pep talk and read the directions...

I had no idea I ate or drank so much, or should I say, so often. It's a bit challenging to take it when you should because my hot flashes (my biggest complaint) happened so sporadically.  However, when I could try it, I was pleasantly surprised it didn't taste bad at all! And it worked okay, too!

Did it completely take away my hot flashes and reduce my ravenous appetite? No, not completely.  However, it was a weapon that came with hope and provided comfort and relief. And it sure was nice knowing there are these little goodies out there when we need them. I know my body was thrown into this "stage of life", so it was bound to be a pretty bumpy ride.
It really was nice to have this bottle by my side.

Would I recommend it?  Yes!!
Is it worth the money?  Yes!!
Am I glad I tried it!  You bet!!

Thank you for the opportunity to try your item and please let me know if you have any questions.  I'll do my best to answer them.


Sunday, March 10, 2013

Battle of the Bulge

According to the American Heart Association, about one in three American kids and teens is overweight or obese today, nearly triple the rate in 1963. A new report by the Trust for America's Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation advises that if adult obesity rates continue on their current trajectories, by 2030, 13 states could have rates above 60 percent; 39 states above 50 percent; and all 50 states above 44 percent.

A study published in the International Journal of Obesity, based on research at 10 universities, points to the use of hormones in factory meat production as a major reason for this trend. Pesticides are another culprit; the average American is exposed to 10 to 13 different types each day via food, beverages and drinking water, and nine of the 10 most commonly used are endocrine disrupters linked to weight gain. Genetically modified U.S. food crops are also sprayed heavily with biocides. Findings presented at the 2007 annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science linked bisphenol A (BPA) - an industrial chemical contained in plastic soda, drinking and baby bottles - with abnormal estrogen function.

To win the battle of the bulge, Americans need to eat balanced diets and exercise regularly, but additional steps can further help: choose organic, grass-fed meat instead of corn-fed; use glass instead of plastic containers for beverages and food storage; avoid canned food unless the label states BPA-free; and consume yogurt daily or take a high-quality probiotic to help restore healthy intestinal flora.

The above article was written in the Natural Awakenings magazine, Twin Cities Edition, March 2013.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Guest Post: How to Ease Back Into Exercise After Surgery

Hello fellow readers of Foodie4Healing!

My name is Amber Ellison Walker. I'm a personal trainer working in the Minneapolis area. My husband, Jesse, and I run I Think I Can Fitness; a business that specializes in at home personal training. We believe that making peace with our bodies is the necessary starting point for fitness and health. This overarching theme guides our approach to working with clients.

Everyone on this earth is beautiful. This is not to say that we shouldn't work hard to improve our level of health and fitness. We should! But I think you'll find this a much easier task if you are not berating yourself the whole time.

I'm a big fan of Amy's blog. So when Amy reached out to me with questions about how to start exercising again after surgery and calf injury, I was more than happy to respond. This post is based on my response to Amy's questions about her injury. Amy and I thought this information would be useful to others in similar situations. So, away we go!

Amy: How should I ease back into exercise after my surgery?

Do just that! Ease into it! Be good to yourself. Push yourself a little bit more each day, but be very careful. Listen to your body.

In particular, I would start with walking, then walking with short runs interspersed, then slow runs, then shorter runs at your normal speed, then full length runs at your normal speed. Again, listen attentively to your body as you do this.

Amy: How do I know if it's a pain to push through or if it's a pain to pay attention to?

In general I don't recommend pushing through pain. There are a few specific situations (generally during and after a comprehensive rehabilitative physical therapy series) when pushing into pain is a good choice.

For the most part, however, pain means our body is trying to tell us something. When you know the cause and reason for the pain sometimes the only option is to "push" through it. I tell people that a fleeting pain can be ignored as long as it doesn't reoccur consistently. A pain that does not lessen as you continue to workout must be listened to (as in, go seek an expert's opinion). A pain that gets worse as you workout means you need to stop immediately.

Also I think it is important to learn to distinguish between the general discomfort of working out and pain that could mean injury. Working out, running, and all forms of physical exercise carry with them a dull and low-level discomfort. This is fine! It is when pain becomes specific to one area of the body, is recurring, and/or not getting better as you exercise that you should be particularly careful.

Amy: Would working with a heart rate monitor be good idea to keep from overdoing it?

I don't think a heart rate monitor sounds like the right solution for you. It would give information, but that information is about your heart not your calf. You need to listen to the parts of your body that are actually hurting. If you weren't dealing with a calf injury but simply rebuilding your exercise base after a long break, I would consider working with a heart rate monitor.

On a side note, our bodies are designed to be exquisitely informative about muscle injuries. Sometimes we need the help of medical equipment to rule out more serious problems. But I believe that the sensory information we get from our bodies is often much more useful than technological measurements. You can glean all the information a heart rate monitor offers and more by simply paying attention to the sensations of your body.

Amy: How often should I have rest days?

Rest days are important. Rest 1 day in 7 at least. Now a rest day simply means that you are not pushing yourself. Going for walks or playing physical games with the kids is fine. Again, make peace with you body. Give it some time to relax, have fun, and not be goal-oriented. Teach your body that physical activity can feel great and doesn't always need to be regimented.

After a surgery you may want more than one day of rest per week. This is completely ok! At first you may feel like you are taking rest days very often, don't worry it will be temporary.

A final note about exercise after Surgery:

Part of learning not to wage war on our bodies is learning to have patience. Don't be greedy. Don't be vain. Have considered expectations.

Most of us aren't going to look like the twenty-something models that inhabit fitness industry advertising. But this doesn't diminish the beauty of your body one bit. You may not be able to look like the latest fitness poster child who has been tanned and photoshopped to sell fitness products.  But, with good habits, you can be fit, healthy, energetic, and attractive.

This attitude toward exercise and your body is doubly important when you are in that delicate time after a surgery or recovering from an injury.


I love to help people adopt great fitness habits. If you have any fitness questions I'd be happy to talk with you about them. You can reach me on twitter, facebook, my blog, or via e-mail at