How to test for food sensitivities

Food sensitivities are becoming so much more prevalent in our world. I equate that to most people eating frankenfoods filled with garbage, an unhealthy gut, and too much stress… but those are blog posts for another time.

There are a few ways to test for food sensitivities. There is no test that is 100% accurate but there are better some testing methods that are better than others.

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1. Elimination diet

This one is the hardest one because it require some serious work and consistency to accomplish but in my mind there is no test that can out perform this “test.” What you do is you take a food or a group of foods and you eliminate them for a set period of time say 30 days or more - this protocol time would be highly individual. Then you reintroduce foods one by one and SLOWLY. Slowly being the keyword here. Reactions to foods can be immediate to up to 72 hours after you ingest the food so you must be patient and be on high alert for any types of symptoms which I will discuss in a later post.

Pros: Free, could be more accurate depending on how in-tune with your body and compliant you are.

Cons: Takes more work, takes more time

2. MRT food sensitivity test.

This is the one i run in my practice. There are different kinds of food allergies and sensitivities.

If someone has a true food allergy they will most likely know it. Something like nuts, bees, etc and they would get hives of have trouble breathing. This test would not be testing for these types of reactions.

The MRT is testing for delayed hypersensitivities. These types of sensitivities are hard to pinpoint because like I mentioned earlier reactions can take up to 72 hours to show up. and they may show up in unexpected ways that you wont associate with eating a specific food. This is where testing vs an elimination diet is helpful. If you want to get a simple blood draw and get results back for 170 foods, species, chemicals, etc FAST then this option could be for you. This is the option i recommend to my clients who want answers now.

Pros: faster, could skip a lot of trial and error to get results faster

Cons: not 100% accurate (no food sensitivity test is!), Costs $

Which option would you choose?

Tips for traveling with Food Sensitivities

Traveling is hard for me - finding places that are gluten free, dairy free, and corn free is HARD!  But I really enjoy travel soooo I figure out how to make it work with my food restrictions. I really have to prep myself for any sort of trip I take. Things I have to do while planning and before I leave -

  1. Pack snacks - lots of them.  

    1. This could include meat sticks, nut butter packets, tuna pouches, pre-cut veggies, lunch meat, or pre-made meals in a small cooler if i know i will have a refrigerator where I will be staying.

  2. I google gluten free/ vegan places to eat near where i will be staying. Depending on the city this can be difficult.

    1. PRO TIP: I have found that vegan places tend to have a really good grip on food sensitivities and know how important proper food handling is!

  3. Tell people you will be traveling with or who you will be meeting with about your food restrictions. This helps everyone plan ahead!

  4. Go to the grocery store when you arrive at your location. If you cant travel with certain types of foods grab them when you land!

  5. Book yourself a place that allows yourself to cook your own meals. Like an Airbnb or VRBO.


Traveling to countries that don't speak English is a whole other ballgame. You will have to do a lot more research when it comes to where to eat and what to eat.

  1. I write down my food allergies in the language of the country I am visiting.

  2. I try to stay at a place that would allow me to cook at least one meal a day. So i would pack lots of non perishables and try to find other things at a local market or grocery store.

  3. I try to be flexible and gracious.

    1. Most people are very willing to help if they can understand my needs.

    2. I also understand that I will not be able to eat at every restaurant and that's ok. This is where you need to be flexible and eat one of the snacks I packed and just roll with it.


My #1 Rule I always follow: It’s better to be safe than sorry. If I think I will get sick from the food I would rather pass on the food and be hungry than get sick and be out for the count the rest of the trip.

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Top Meal Prep Tips

Prepping food is a lifesaver for people who are busy, on a budget, don’t like doing dishes, or are on a healing protocol. So basically everyone can benefit from meal prepping. 

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There are so many ways to meal prep some people prep full meals (batch cooking) or you could just prep components and mix and match meals. There are benefits to both.

If you prep a couple of meals on a Sunday or Monday you should have enough food for the week or you can always prep 2x per week to allow for a bit more variety. Time spent prepping for me is usually an 90 min to 2 hours per week.  As you get better at prepping you should be able to get down to this depending on how much food you need to prep! Less dishes during the week is always a win for me! 


Ways to prep and eat full meals:

First, if you batch cook big meals you make one recipe and eat it multiple times. Some people like this option better because you can rotate through different yummy recipes vs just components to build your own meal. This is also nice if you are burned out on a specific meals - keeps things interesting every week. 

Batch cook eat the meals throughout the week (examples): 

  • Fritatta
  • Salads in jars
  • Beef with broccoli
  • Big batch of chili
  • Meatloaf
  • The recipe options are endless for this option

Pre-make things them freeze for the right time to reheat (examples):

  • Breakfast burritos
  • Soups

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Ways to prep components:

I like this option but I have but I have also been doing this for years. I like the simplicity of the components to build a meal into something else. This approach lets you add spices and sauces to allow for what you are feeling right then. Spices make everything!

Always have ready to eat proteins

  • I like to always have some sort of cooked ground meat, usually turkey in the fridge ready to eat. This meat stays for a few days in the fridge and I don’t have to worry about it.
  • All cuts of beef are another good option for prep. Steak, ground, roast, etc.
  • Chicken can get dry but if you don’t mind that then go for it
  • Pork - can get dry depending on the cut but another good option
  • Fish - this one is hard. I don’t like prepping fish i don’t think it reheats well the next day. And I think it smells FUNKY, fast. I spring for the canned fish like tuna and salmon vs fresh when I am considering it for prep.  

Always have veggies on hand - they don’t need to be cooked!

  • Rule of thumb always stock up on veggies when you are at the store. Some veggies that can be eaten raw in a pinch!  
  • Veggies like carrots, broccoli, brussel sprouts, onions, etc are great prepped but can be eaten raw too.
  • Veggies like leafy greens, herbs, etc. that don’t need to be cooked are easy to just toss on a plate. Be sure to get “pre- washed” greens!
  • If you are cooking up your veggies I have found roasting them is the easiest, least time consuming way. Chop up your veggies, drizzle avocado oil, sprinkle sea salt on top then put in an oven @400 degrees until the veggies are soft. 

Keeping carbohydrates on hand. This one is easy!

  • I really only prep a couple types of cabs potatoes (sweet and white) and rice/ rice pasta.
  • Potatoes I bake those like a do the veggies I just mentioned above.
  • For rice I most times make it fresh because I personally don’t like stale rice.
  • Rice pasta I will make a big pot of pasta and eat it through the week with a meat sauce or something else. Other simple carbs you can keep on hand - FRUIT!
  • You can cut the larger fruits up and store in the fridge for a least a few days. Other fruits already come in natures packaging!
  • There are tons of different carbohydrate options - feel free to get creative here. These foods are just what work for me. 

Fats to prep

  • You can’t really prep fats there are a couple of things you can make but most of the fats will come from sauces or salad dressings, cooking oils, avocados, nuts and nut butters, coconut milk, fat from fattier cuts of meat, full fat dairy etc.

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How long can you keep meal prepped food in the fridge / freezer?

  • I would not keep prepped food in the fridge for longer than a week. If you think you are getting close to the end of its life definitely smell it before you reheat. No need to get sick from spoiled food. Nobody has time for that.  
  • As far as frozen foods go I would 6 months - 1 year would be fine in proper storage containers that wouldn’t allow for freezer burn.  

The bottom line: 

I know some people who don’t meal prep because they don’t like eating the same foods over and over again. That's 100% fine. Or they end up wasting ½ the food they prepped because they made too much. Prepping food is not for everyone and it takes some practice to get better at it. For me, the benefits outweigh the potential repetitiveness of prepping once eating multiple times. Less dishes, less time, less wanting to order takeout.

Find what works for you and roll with it!

 

Tips to Navigate the Grocery Store

I have always loved grocery shopping. I have no idea why, but it's my happy place. Park me at Whole Foods and I would be content for an afternoon.  Funny thing is, most people despise the grocery store. They see it as another errand to check off on their list. I never understood that but turns out people just don’t know what to buy!

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I have found most people that are in two camps:

1. They don’t know how to cook / hate cooking so they eat tv dinners, convenience foods, or takeout for 90% of their meals

OR

2. They try to plan every meal they will eat that week with a new recipe they found on Pinterest that has 8 bajillion ingredients

Neither of these are a recipe for success.

“So what do you buy at the grocery store,” I surprisingly get this question a LOT.

My answer is simple - real food. I don’t buy a lot of things in boxes or that are pre-made. I buy ingredients that become other things.

What most people don’t see is that making food from scratch can be faster than zapping something in the microwave! It's about education and actually doing it that's the hard part for people to grapple with.


Here is how you can navigate the store:

  1. Produce

  2. Meat

  3. Eggs / Dairy

  4. Aisles for specialty items


Now we can navigate these four areas further:

PRODUCE

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What is the first department you walk into when you enter a store? Produce I spend most of my time here.

I try to buy a variety of vegetables that will work for many different meals. Personally, I buy onions, carrots, broccoli, and beets everytime I go to the store because I know I will eat them.

Things like lettuce and mixed greens are good, BUT will you eat them or will they turn into mush in your crisper drawer? TIP: Be REAL with yourself - don't buy food you won’t eat. I try to avoid buying the tub of mixed greens in the winter because I know I don't crave salads when its cold.

Personally, I don't eat a lot of fruit. I don't crave it. I might buy some apples or something from time to time but i would rather eat a slice of gluten-free cake than fruit anyday. Again though, if you will eat the fruit then buy it. If it will rot on your counter than skip it.


PROTEIN

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After I leave the produce section, I make my way back to the meat and seafood section. I try to get a mixed bag of proteins. My hard and fast rule: meat quality over everything else. I will spend more for good meat →  Happy Animals = Better Meat.

  • Chicken - I will only buy the best quality chicken. Organic and free range / pasture-raised only. If I can't find that, I will pass. Meat quality is nowhere to skimp.
  • Beef/ Buffalo: Grass Fed - GRASS FINISHED beef. There is a difference.
  • Ground Turkey - Again, birds are generally treated poorly - I try to buy the best quality I can find. Organic and free range. Lately I have been buying my poultry online for the best quality! You don't have to do that, I’m a nut :)
  • Lamb - A great protein source if you can find a good quality lamb. I personally don't buy this because I can never cook it well.
  • Pork- Please find “pastured” pork. High-quality pork is hard to find in your typical grocery store. I typically skip it and buy online.
  • Game type meats - venison, elk, deer, etc. If you can find these - check the sourcing. Most people won’t find these in their typical grocery store.
  • Fish - Always wild-caught, never tilapia.

EGGS & DAIRY

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  • Pastured eggs are KING. They are readily available in most grocery stores. Or even better, get them from your neighbor that has chickens!
  • Ghee is something you can find in most places as well. Usually it’s in a jar in the baking aisle, but you may find it near the butter. It’s a casein-free butter. Ghee is great for those how possibly can’t do regular butter since all the milk solids have been removed leaving just the fat. Some people that sre very sensitive to dairy, like me, still cannot tolerate it. Which is a huge bummer!

I personally don’t eat dairy, but if you do, make sure the milk, butter, and cheese is full-fat and from grass-fed cows or animals that are eating their native diet. I drink almond milk or coconut milk. There are so many non-dairy alternatives for most dairy products these days.


Have you noticed we haven't gone down any aisles yet? All about the perimeter, baby!


HERBS & SPICES

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These can really bog you down if you are following a lot of recipes you find online. Plus they're not cheap!!!!

Things I always try to keep on hand:

  • High quality sea salt
  • Pepper
  • Onion powder
  • Garlic powder
  • Rosemary(fresh) 

These can literally go on any meal and you will be good.

Other spices are good - you will accumulate more as you go but don’t go buy 17 spices all at once - it’s overkill.


THE REST

I go down the aisles for a few specialty items such as:  

  • Rice
  • Oils and Vinegar
  • Tomato sauce (this is such a time saver)
  • Salsa
  • Frozen veggies
  • Sparkling water
  • Almond / Coconut flour

To sum up, My rules for food shopping:

  1. Buy things that can mix and match

  2. Recipe? Unless you are making something that requires very precise measurements then just #wingit on amounts

  3. Protein, fat, veggies, and sometimes carbs at EVERY MEAL (refer to rule#1)

  4. Buy foods you will eat, but also, be adventurous once in a while. 

If you still have questions or live in the Denver metro and want to do a grocery tour, I would be happy to help! Please reach out via my contact page.

What the Heck are "Macros" anyway?

"Macros" is a hot term right now - I feel like everyone is “tracking their macros” in order to hit their body composition goals. Which is great! But I think most people don’t even know what the heck a macro is. Well here is your answer is as few words as possible:

Macros are your Proteins, Fats, and Carbohydrates AND Water. They are basically how we classify calories.  

Proteins:

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-  Help build and maintain muscle

-  Help with DNA and RNA production

- Help make neurotransmitters such as serotonin, dopamine, etc -- very important for mental health

Foods that are mostly protein - animal meats, fish, seafood, bone broth  


Fats:

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Let’s just clear this up right here - consuming fat DOES NOT MAKE YOU FAT. Sugar and overeating makes you fat. Ok, moving along.

- Make up your hormones, cells, and keep you satiated

- Building blocks of cell membranes

- Our heart and brain’s preferred source of energy

- How we absorb the fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K into the body

 Foods that are mostly fats - nuts and nut butter, oils, coconut butter, avocado


Carbohydrates:

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- Quick energy source for the body

- Generally taste really good :)   

Foods that are mostly carbs  - rice, fruit, plantains, potatoes, squash, most starchy vegetables

Most vegetables fall into the carbohydrate category although most are “low carb.” I wouldn't consider most vegetables a source of high carb foods - other than starchy carbs such as potatoes, beets, plantains, etc.


Water:

SO important! And most people forget about it! Our bodies are 60+% water!!!!

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Signs of dehydration can include anything from depression, anxiety, fatigue, constipation, joint pain, headaches ... the list goes on.

The American population is chronically dehydrated. To make sure you are drinking enough water, you can take your body weight and divide it by two.

For example: A 140lb woman would need to be drinking 70oz of water. BUT if she drinks any diuretics such as coffee, tea, juice, milk, energy drinks she needs to drink 1.5x the amount of the diuretic in water to make up for the loss.

So, if this 140lb woman has an 8oz coffee with breakfast and a 10oz ice tea with lunch. That means she needs to drink 27 additional oz of water on top of the 70oz originally.

Most of us are NOT getting nearly that amount of good water.


Most foods aren't strictly one macro nutrient or another. They are generally a mix of one, two or all three macros.

Everyone will require a different macronutrient breakdown to feel optimal. There is no one size fits all Approach when it comes to macros. 

Top 5 Kitchen Essentials

Today I want to talk about my top 5 essential items in my personal kitchen! 

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You don’t have to have a fancy kitchen or fancy kitchen gadgets to get started cooking. A handful of staples is all you need. Plus as you get familiar with types of dishes you cook you can expand your collection from there.

1. KNIVES

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I use two different knives for most of my cutting. I sprung for some fancy options because I use both of these every. single. day. Sharp knives are essential for any kitchen - the sharper the better. Dull knives can actually be more dangerous than a sharp knife. Again, you don't need to spend a million dollars on knives but one or two nice options should last you a very long time with proper care.  

I have a short option for smaller foods like fruit or smaller veggies. And a larger knife  for things like onions and potatoes.


2. POTS AND PANS

I have invested in some nice pans throughout the years. I love All Clad Stainless steel ones because they have a lifetime warranty and they seem to distribute heat well. You don't have to invest in expensive pans to get started but here are the sizes and types I would recommend as essential. Sizing is key - I am generally only cooking for two people so massive pots and pans are something I don't need right now.  If you have a family you might want to size up or size down according to your needs.

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Small pot 3 quarts - this would be for sauces, pasta, rice, etc. It’s a great size for me when I cook for two. If you were trying to make soup or a big batch of something I would size up.

All clad frying pan with full sides This one is similar to the one I have. This pan is the workhorse of my kitchen. It gets used almost daily. You can make a good meat sauce, saute up some veggies, or even pan fry some steaks then finish them in the oven because this pan is oven safe!  I always try to use stainless steel pans vs. nonstick options. The nonstick coating has so many chemicals and crap in it that ends up in your food! #avoid

Cast Iron skillet: I try not to cook in this all the time because it can increase the iron in your body but if you are deficient you might add cooking in a cast iron pan a couple meals a week! They are fairly inexpensive. I used the Lodge Brand and they have treated me well. Hardest thing about cast iron pans is the maintenance. They are meant to be “seasoned” overt time so you are supposed to not wash the pan with soap. I will make another post about cast iron maintenance in the future. Great things about this type of pan is the even distribution of heat you can also cook with it on a stove top, oven, over the fire, etc.


3. Sheet pans

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I bought this pair from Williams-Sonoma a few years ago. I have a few larger pans if i'm roasting a massive amount of food but these are the perfect pans for day to day use.  


4. Garlic press

Garlic is life. End of story. BUT having your hands smell like garlic all night can be pretty aggressive. This garlic press is a much better option than most of the minced garlic I have seen is stores. Most of those pre-chopped varieties are swimming in some sort of crappy oil like soybean oil and probably has preservatives. You can mince it yourself for pennies and two minutes of your time!


5. Utensils

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There are a handful of utensils I use regularly. I like wood/ bamboo spoons a LOT. Why?  Maybe the way they feel in my hand or that its not plastic in my food? I don't know. I have a handful of ones like these that I have had forever! I use them almost every day. 

Other utensils that I would recommend would be a small pair of tongs.

A decent spatula - I personally have a plastic one and a stainless one. If you do have non stick cookware you will scratch it with the stainless option.

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Here you have it, my essentials. There are plenty of other things that can help with cooking like expensive Vitamix blenders, fancy electric pressure cookers (looking at you instant pot), and Kitchenaid mixers that just sit on your counter top for decoration. Do you really need those things to be a successful cook? No. If you’re just starting grab a couple of nice knives a few pots and pans and go from there, Eventually as you get better at cooking you might add more helpful items to your kitchen.