5 Easy Ways To Get More Good Bugs Into & Onto Your Body!

1. Stop killing them all the time!

We are constantly showering / washing all our external microbes off & using all kinds of microbe-killers & things that mess with our internal & external ecosystems. Antibacterial hand wash, antibiotics, mouthwash, deodorant, facial cleansers, shampoo, feminine hygiene products, make-up etc – all great & useful products (I’m not saying never shower or use deodorant) but we need to be aware that these things can seriously mess with our natural microbes. Use ‘hygiene’ products minimally – not just out of habit (think of being ‘clean’ as being covered in a healthy microbial population more so than being completely sanitised). You are much less likely to get an infection when you have loads of harmless microbes all over you to protect you from baddies (a stripped, clean slate will just give any baddies that come along free reign to multiply). Opt for gentle, chemical free, plant-based alternatives to harsh chemical products that claim to destroy 99.5% of bacteria for a certain period (many toothpastes, deodorants & hand washes claim such things).

2. Expose yourself, inside & outside the house.

Open the windows every day, let the air into your home, or better still – get out into nature! Get dirty, sandy, muddy, salty, leafy, furry – get some new natural bugs into your ecosystem. Nature is full of great microbes that we’ve evolved with, we know how to handle them & they can help us in many cases. Google ‘hookworm & coeliac disease’ – trials are showing very positive results – everyone wants to keep their parasites as they feel healthier & any accidental gluten ingestion is less problematic. Also read about peanut allergy & probiotics, an area of study promising to help kids who live in fear of accidentally coming into contact with nuts. Probiotics & hay fever, fermented foods & anxiety…even babies growing up with pets (or grubby older siblings) are healthier than those raised in more ‘clean’ homes. The key is that when you have a baby, you want something that carries dirt & microbes into your house daily to keep your bubs immune system occupied. Put down the sanitiser, let the dog in, & kick the toddlers off the i-pad to go & play mud-pies!!)

3. Eat them. Organic fruit & veggies fresh from garden to mouth = more ‘buggy’ (in a good way)!

These will deliver not just better nutrition & less toxicity, but also a heap of healthy microbes as a bonus…not so when you’re eating produce grown with artificial fertilisers & sprayed with chemicals, then transported & left sitting in cold storage (sometimes for months) before it gets to your plate. If you’ve never been a green thumb, try growing just a tiny garden with salad greens & herbs – even start with a pot / planter box. If you just don’t wanna grow anything yourself, get to your local farmer’s markets or organic produce store regularly.

4. The big guns. Regularly consume foods that contain live bacteria.

Quality yoghurts, aged cheeses, kefir, sauerkraut, kimchi, kombucha,…this stuff is alive with bugs that produce amazing & helpful substances for our gut & body, while helping us to breakdown the things that they’re fermenting (so we can digest more easily & extract more nutrition). If you’re sensitive to fermented foods / probiotics then start very slowly, you may notice some ‘turbulence’ (sometimes an increase in gas) when you introduce more of these into your system, like when you suddenly increase fibre.

5. Change the environment = change the bacterial balance.

You can very quickly alter your gut bacterial population by changing what you eat each day. We know that many helpful gut bugs thrive on fibre – veggies, fruit, nuts, seeds, legumes, whole ancient grains…these all provide fodder for your good guys. Feed the goodies & they’ll begin to multiply & crowd out the baddies. Your baddies (the gut bugs that make you less healthy in general) love to eat sugars & refined carbohydrates – that’s one reason you may crave these foods – the more of these carb-munchers you have, the more sugar you’ll want. It’s your gut bugs demanding a regular intake of what they need to survive. Making initial changes to your diet can be really hard, but once you’re well into the change it will feel hard to go back – your gut bugs want you to keep feeding them their favourites. Your dominant belly bugs are a product of what you’ve been consistently eating, so if you’re a sugar feind, they’ll strongly resist a change to a high veggie / low sugar diet, but in the end (once you’ve balanced them out) they will actually help you stay healthy).

Love to get your feedback in the comments below – how hard has it been for you to change your gut bacterial balance, & what helped most?

Jeanie x

Gut Health for Athletes

We know our diet impacts our body composition & our energy levels.

It’s well recognised that athletes do better when they eat better. We all do – any human being that has to ‘do stuff’ feels & functions better when they’re well fed & digesting optimally – athletes just do more demanding ‘stuff’ with their bodies, so you notice any lack of energy or drop in performance much more easily! Especially with elite athletes in the public eye, though those guys will normally have some sort of nutrition expert to help them with their diet.

So – food definitely influences your performance from a nutrition perspective (i.e, supporting muscle recovery with regular / enough good quality protein, getting all the vitamins, minerals & trace elements you need to make your cells & systems work optimally etc), but what you eat will also dramatically influence your gut…

What about my gut?  Who cares?

I don’t use my gut to run / swim / play rugby / lift weights / cycle / climb / hit a ball…what’s the big deal, I’ll just keep taking my pre-workout powder for energy & protein powder for my muscles (gut, phhht – stupid gut-obsessed naturopaths!!).

It can be hard work getting athletes to prioritise their gut!!!…unless they know the following:

 

You Are Not What You EAT…You Are What You ABSORB!

Your gut is directly responsible for the nutrients you absorb from your food. You can be eating the best diet in the world, full of vitamins, minerals, protein, good fats, antioxidant etc, but if your gut is not in great shape, absorption of those nutrients may not be happening optimally – you may as well be dining on Maccas! (Well not really – but you’ll be wasting money & time on quality food prep if it’s not getting digested fully & ending up in your cells)!

Optimal absorption of nutrients happens when you have plenty of good microbes (in the right balance) in your gut to help with the breakdown of food that you’re eating. Your gut is not just an empty hollow tube – it should be like an ‘internal ecosystem’ – bustling with activity & life, in a dynamic state of balance, like a rainforest or even an internal composting system.

The problem is, most people have more of a desert (or a garden full of nasty weeds) than a rainforest these days, because:

  1. The helpful bacteria we need are getting wiped out every single time we take a course of antibiotics (this has been happening for generations now). One of the big reasons that kids today seem much less ‘robust’ & more reactive / intolerant to foods than their grandparents is that their guts are ‘broken’ from the start, as the microbial population passed down from mum was substandard to begin with! They cannot digest properly, their immune system won’t work properly (your gut health pretty much IS your immune system).
  2. We tend to eat waaay too much refined carbohydrate based food (sugar in all its disguises & refined grain products) which feed the ‘baddies’ & cause them to multiply too quickly, crowding out the ‘goodies’. This is one huge reason that we get ‘diet-related’ diseases like diabetes & obesity & many of the inflammatory illnesses (anything ending in ‘itis’) – it’s not only the effect the sugars have on our blood glucose, but the fact that they dramatically influence our gut balance & create a massive amount of systemic inflammation. I speak to people every week about gut health, weight loss & disease – it’s so common for people to improve their gut & lose kilo’s of ‘inflammatory’ weight they’d been carrying, & all of a sudden fix a ‘chronic inflammatory illness’ they were not expecting to ever recover from.
  3. Our food & our environment are full of chemicals – i.e. preservatives, sweeteners, flavours, additives – these are unnatural & have no place in a natural ecosystem like your gut – but they’re getting in there & messing with things if your diet isn’t clean. Then think of all the chemicals used in the soil for growing our food, the chemicals in everyday medications (even things like the pill that many women don’t even think twice about swallowing can impact your gut bugs significantly) & the chemicals in our personal care products (toothpaste, soaps, sunscreens, deodorants, make-up, hair products…it can all end up inside your body, your skin is absorbent – & those teeny tiny creatures are sensitive & easily disrupted).

So…just be mindful that you are a walking natural ecosystem. When your internal ecosystem is in balance, you’re gonna feel so much more energetic, & also much better mentally (athletes know that victory often happens first in the mind!)

On The Way Through:

When nutritious, non-inflammatory foods are travelling through your digestive system (your balanced rainforest ecosystem) they need to go ‘not too fast, not too slow’ – so that you have plenty of time to break everything down properly & for the nutrients to get from your gut into your bloodstream, that way you’ll really be ‘getting the most out of your food’. Too much fibre means things will move through you too quickly & you don’t get time to absorb some of the nutrients. Too little fibre & you’re going to have ‘excess baggage’ sitting around in your bowel, festering (& not fermenting properly as there’s not enough food for your good microbes). A slow-moving colon will also be releasing a steady stream of toxins into your bloodstream that can cause all kinds of trouble & make you feel literally ‘like shit’. Ever had anyone tell you ‘You look like shit!?’ People use these sayings all the time, & I wonder – did they originate when someone noticed that people tend to look & feel terrible when they’re constipated?

Getting your protein, carbs & fat is crucial – but so is optimising your fibre intake (if you want your gut to actually absorb all the goodness you’re pouring down there!) Your gut bugs actually make some amazing substances out of the fibre that we humans cannot digest (look up short chain fatty acids, they are our own anti-inflammatories & a great byproduct of fibre fermentation). Your gut bugs even manufacture some vitamins – including some B vitamins that are crucial for energy production.

Your Gut = Your Immune System.

Most of your body’s defence system resides in your gut. That’s right – you’ll get sicker more often (& stay sick longer) when your gut is out of whack, & when you take care of your gut you should notice a huge improvement in your immune system. We need our immune system to be ready, waiting to react immediately to anything that threatens us – but we don’t want it to become ‘trigger-happy’ & start reacting & attacking things inappropriately (that’s what can happen with things like asthma, eczema, hayfever, & all the autoimmune illnesses). And guess what – all the aforementioned illnesses can be improved / eliminated by balancing the gut. It’s all about your gut bugs & your gut lining. You wanna look after both – they look after you! They are your best buddies when travelling for competitions, as a strong gut ecosystem with a healthy gut lining is much more difficult for unfamiliar ‘bad bugs’ to infiltrate & take hold.

As an athlete, your gut-immune system relationship needs extra special care & attention.

Athletes have different gut microbial populations to the more sedentary general public (in a good way). An athlete’s gut bugs are more diverse than couch potatoes (more like rainforests), but extreme or endurance exercise (as in competitions & long or intense training sessions) can really hurt your gut – & it literally does hurt. Many athletes (esp endurance athletes) suffer from abdominal discomfort, nausea, cramping & diarrhoea during hard training or events. This happens because blood flow is directed away from the gut to the places that need it more (like your heart, lungs, muscles & skin), & the gut lining actually can become inflamed, damaged & ‘leaky’ during these times, allowing stuff into your bloodstream that’s not supposed to get in (which can cause systemic inflammation, not good). When you’re inflamed / injured, as an athlete you just wanna get back into training ASAP, so you might be tempted to take some nurofen for an injury – don’t! NSAID’s  will damage your gut lining further, they’ll make it even leakier – allowing more inflammatory substances into your bloodstream (nice way to ensure nurofen sales stay strong I guess)!!

The ‘Gut-Muscle Axis’.

Yes – apparently there is such a thing! You’ve probably heard all about the ‘gut-brain’ axis, the ‘gut-skin’ axis & the gut immune connection – but, I have a feeling we’re going to hear a whole lot more about the ‘gut-muscle axis’ in the near future. Your gut influences your metabolism, the energy that you can extract from your food & your body composition (more muscles or more fat). 2 people can eat the exact same meal, yet their blood glucose response & the total calories they extract from that meal can be very different, depending on what is going on in their gut. That explains those skinny bitches who can eat anything!! and for the guys trying to get huge eating loads of calories – maybe you need to focus on your gut! And it’s not just your gut that influences your metabolism, your exercise patterns actually influence your gut microbes too – it can be a bit of a cycle (sedentary lifestyle cultivates couch potato gut bugs, leads to insulin resistance & accumulation of fat, leads to less inclination to exercise etc etc). This area of research is still quite young, but it will be huge. Imagine the magic bullet probiotic-based weightloss pills that are currently under development!!

Gut tips for athletes:

  • Work out what fibrous foods work best for your gut, i.e. Low FODMAP, gluten free etc).
  • Modify your intake of fibre to suit your body around competitions. Some avoid eating too much fibre the day of competition & 1-2 days leading up to the event (but make sure to get plenty during the normal days. This will be different for everyone, find your best strategy.
  • Figure out your food sensitivities (e.g., dairy, gluten – these are the big 2 culprits, & I recommend that everyone who’s unsure tries a GF & DF period to see how they respond).
  • Avoid sugar alcohols (sweeteners found in sugar-free drinks / gels / energy products – names like sorbitol, mannitol & xylitol). These are known to mess with your gut bugs & can cause diarrhoea, cramps, bloating etc.
  • Avoid NSAIDs / nurofen / any Ibuprofen products as these make your gut leaky.
  • A Low FODMAP diet is generally well tolerated if you suffer from IBS, try going Low FODMAP during training & if it feels good for you, in the lead up to an event.
  • Drink plenty! Dehydration = bad news for your gut (& the rest of you!)
  • Be mindful of your gut-immune system connection & your gut lining – especially look after it before / during / after long or intense training sessions & competitions.

If you have any questions or experiences you’d like to share please post a comment below or send me an email anytime – I reply to every email :-)

Jeanie
jeanie@goodmix.com.au 

Get Up & Go Breakfast Ideas!

What’s for breakfast? Make it yummy, make it healthy & make it the night before (more time for morning exercise = start the day amazingly)! Get up early, move your body, & then feed it well. Trust me – you’ll feel a million bucks if you can make this a habit!  Post Australia Day = no more partying or holiday laziness, it’s time to get into some healthy routines for an awesome 2018!

Get organised!

Avoid the crazy morning rush (& excuses for not exercising & eating well) with pre-made, portable breakfast jars. You can make a few on a Sunday night & then – no breakfast prep Mon Tues or Wed, yay! Leaves plenty of time for your morning exercise (this is not an excuse to sleep in)!  Plan a morning walk / run / surf / gym or yoga session or whatever you enjoy & then help make it happen by prepping breakfast for the household the night before, getting an early night & setting that alarm to make some ‘movement time’!

Goodness in a Jar!

An activated Blend11 parfait is so filling you won’t be reaching for that muffin / bar / snack mid-morning. These breakfast jars are full of enzymes, good fats, plant protein, diverse fibre & all the other good bits like polyphenols, phytosterols, antioxidants, vitamins, minerals & trace elements. The gut health benefits of having a regular diverse fibre intake can be incredible – just read some of these Facebook reviews

Eat Later?

These are perfect if you have to get up really early for work, or if you’re trying the ‘intermittent fasting’ thing (where you break the nightly fast a little later in the day to give your gut & metabolism a longer rest from constant eating). You can use any recycled jar & just keep them in the fridge, ready to grab quickly & throw into an esky / cold bag as you head out the door.

Fresh market fruit combos to try with your Blend11:

Peach & mango – team with natural unsweetened coconut yoghurt (or use half vanilla & half greek dairy yoghurt if the kids are really picky / still addicted to sugar / don’t like coconut). Just mix the yoghurts without them seeing you, & they’ll never know you’ve just halved their morning sugar intake!
Passionfruit & banana (again, awesome with natural unsweetened coconut or greek yoghurt). Mix your passionfruit & banana together so the banana doesn’t go brown.
Berries, fresh or frozen: strawberries, blackberries, blueberries, raspberries, mulberries – all yum, esp with Pure n Free chocolate coconut yoghurt! (Amazing breakfast + dessert overlap)! Also delish with unsweetened yoghurt.
Red plum, cherry & red grape (again – amazing with choc coconut yoghurt!)
Apple or pear with cinnamon (awesome with a dollop of coconut or greek yoghurt).

**If your gut is a bit funny with any of the above fruits, it might be the FODMAP’s they contain. FODMAP’s are pesky carbohydrates that can turn a normal flat comfortable tummy into a bloated painful spasmodic irregular wreck in minutes – in quite a lot of IBS people! Good to know your fruity FODMAP’s if you suffer from IBS – for a small fee you can download the Monash University App from the app store, there is a fruit list in there (as well as all the other foods too)!  Blend11 is low FODMAP – just needs the right ingredients to go with it if you’re sensitive.

If you have some combos to share I’d love to feature them (recipes need to use goodMix products to get published in the recipe section ;-)
jeanie@goodmix.com.au

How Many Poos Should I Be Doing Each Day?

So we at goodMix are all for talking crap – it’s what we do best! And some of our customers have great questions that warrant a public answer (you know – the question that everyone is wondering about but is too scared to actually askthe question that everyone is wondering about but is too scared to actually ask). Here’s my best answer (sorry my answers always seem to be long) to one of these poo FAQ’s, received again via email this week!

Q: “I’m in good health, just wondering how many poos should I be doing in a day?”

A: Depends on lots of factors – including…

How many times you’ve eaten that day (or more relevantly the previous day or 3, as it takes a while for food to get all the way from entry to exit).

i.e. if you’ve been bedridden with the flu & not really eating for days, you may easily go a week with no poo action whilst recovering. Same situation when fasting. This is totally normal as your digestive system will slow almost to a standstill, & take a while to get back to normal once you’re eating regularly again.

Volume & quality of food you ate, & how much fibre that food contained.

A person eating KFC & Macca’s burgers 3x daily washed down with energy drinks will be unlikely to produce any healthy poos, as there’s nothing much in these ‘foods’ to support your gut bugs, whereas a person consuming a variety of fresh, natural, whole plant foods that agree with them will have sufficient fibre intake to support a thriving & diverse ecosystem of gut microbes who literally help your gut to produce good healthy poos. A huge percentage of your poo is actually gut bugs (yup, it’s alive – a bit freaky when you think about it!!) The rest is mostly made up of fibre & water. Fibre & fluid provide the building blocks of healthy poos, & your gut bugs are like the builders (sorry any builders reading for the comparison). Anyway – when things are ‘not happening’, it can be due to not enough or poor quality building materials coming in, or maybe there is a problem with the builders (they’ve been wiped out with a bout of gastro or a course of antibiotics, there may be a party going on in there with too many of the wrong bugs hindering the building process, or the building site (your gut) needs some maintenance to make it all work properly again.

Past health history, especially related to your brain & nervous system, hormones, gut, liver, previous medications esp antibiotics.

Everything in your body is connected, & just as your gut health influences other body systems, your other body systems influence the workings of your gut. Ie – if you’ve had a brain or spinal injury (or an illness that has affected the nerve supply to your bowel), it’s expected that nothing will work as it should – regular poo production & movement may need a lot of assistance. Even if you’re just feeling stressed out, your nervous system spends too much time in ‘fight or flight’ mode instead of in ‘rest & digest’ mode – so you will have sub-optimal digestion & subsequent poo production as all of your energy has been diverted away from your digestive system. Your hormones can also affect your gut function & your poos – ladies know this, many experience constipation a day or 2 before periods & then the floodgates open with the flow, & so many 50 plus ladies have told me that ‘everything changed’ when they became menopausal. Your liver & gallbladder function can directly influence your bowel function as well, as bile secreted by the liver is a natural laxative (we secrete more bile when we eat, especially when we eat fatty foods). Sometimes people can experience constipation whilst eating a low fat diet, & strict low fat diets can actually be a cause of gallstones forming (not enough bile movement).

How much water you’ve been drinking / the fluid content of your foods.

We need to be hydrated for digestion to work, & everything comes to a bit of a grinding halt when we don’t drink enough. Drinking too much fluid with meals is not a good idea though, try to drink most of your fluids in between your food ideally.

If you’ve been very sedentary or very active.

When we move, it stimulates our digestive system to move too (our body knows that when we’re active, we’re using up our food energy, so it hurries everything along & makes room for more incoming nourishment). When we’re sedentary, everything (including digestive processes & our metabolism) slows right down.

What medication you’ve used lately / chemicals in your food & environment.

Some medications cause digestive symptoms directly, & some cause them indirectly. If you are at all concerned, ask your Dr or pharmacist if it’s possible that your meds may be making you constipated, giving you diarrhoea or making you feel bloated / uncomfortable. And try to eat organically as much as possible, your gut bugs tend not to like chemicals (they may be tested safe for humans but their impact on our gut bugs hasn’t been taken into account). As a general rule, more chemicals going in to your tummy = less good gut bugs = less good poos.

Stress levels.

You’ll notice a big difference in how many poos you do daily / weekly when stressed vs relaxed, but it can go either way or even alternate. People who normally go regularly & without drama can suddenly become uncomfortably constipated or ‘get the runs’ when highly stressed. Most people with IBS know only too well that when they’re stressed out, their gut symptoms are always much worse. Keep calm & poo well (that could be a fridge magnet).

Being Away From Home.

There is nothing quite like the comfort of your own home loo. People who are forced to use work bathrooms / public bathrooms etc, or cannot go easily on the job throughout the day are at high risk for developing poo problems. It can even start as young as pre-school. I often speak to mums who’s little kids decide ‘I only do poos at home, not at kindy’. Arrgh!! This is something you need to sort out quickly, as it can rapidly escalate into a situation where the child becomes badly backed up, & pooing hurts – so they hold it in cos it hurts, & so on. I have heard from one market mum that this happened in her kindy aged child, to the point where she needed to be hospitalised with a ‘mass the size of a coconut’ blocking things up & she was ‘vomiting faeces’. Yup, true story. Poor little thing went through such an ordeal (narrowly avoided surgery) but now poos happily ever after with a little help from her Blend11. Kids (& adults) need to get comfortable pooing away from home – women especially have issues on holidays (take your Blend11 with you every trip, many now do) & don’t be shy, if ya gotta go – GO!

Your Constitution & Baseline Metabolism.

How your metabolism processes things – some people are just ‘fast’ & some ‘slow’ at digesting / metabolising & pushing everything through their system. It may be a case of ‘always have been always will be’ some people seem to be born fast or slow – this can just be your constitutional tendency, but it can also be related to thyroid function (an underactive thyroid will make you slower, overactive will make you move things faster – neither is good, you wanna be somewhere in the middle ‘just right’). Check thyroid if you’re a too fast or too slow type for no obvious reason.

So…let’s just say you’re spending plenty of time at home, you’re not overly stressed, you don’t take meds, you’re eating plenty of fibre, you exercise, you’re thyroid is sweet & you’re well hydrated. How many poos should you be producing daily?  

I speak to a lot of people about their poos each week & this is my conclusion (just my opinion – not saying it’s correct, just my thoughts based on what I’ve learned & heard so far).

There are variations of what can be considered ‘healthy’ & normal with regards to ‘poos per day’, just as there are with many other bodily functions. How fast should my hair or nails grow? How fast should my heart beat? How many hours should I sleep each night? We’re all a bit different, & there are many healthy people, who don’t all work in exactly the same way. I think there is a ‘spectrum’ of healthy.

But in general – a relatively healthy human with a plant-rich diet that works well for them & an optimally functioning gut should be producing & eliminating between 1 & 3 well formed, easy to pass stools daily (with some days that aren’t normal due to changes in routine / food / illness / stress etc). I know many of you reading this are thinking ‘I would kill for daily, regular, well-formed easy to pass poos!! Those who already have them, you should feel truly blessed, I actually think you are in the minority these days! I chat to Blend11 addicts who used to only ‘go’ every 2 weeks & are now going twice daily (rejoice) or those who were bloated, in pain & very irregular with loose stools that now feel much more comfortable & at ease. To go from unpredictable to regular can literally be life-changing!

You don’t have to be perfect every day / every week, but in general – 1 to 3 daily would seem normal & healthy to me, & no stress if you miss the occasional day due to circumstances / stress – just don’t make it a habit. The main indicators for healthy toilet habits are – does your tummy feel comfortable or do you often feel discomfort / pain? Do you need to strain or is going to the loo painful or very urgent / too fast? These are more important to me than ‘the numbers’. Quality over quantity. Some people brag about how many poos they do daily, but remember you can go overboard too – if everything is being pushed through your digestive system too quickly, that leaves less time for absorption of valuable nutrients along the way. Too many poos (esp if they are on the loose side) can indicate food intolerances as well. You want the transit time to be not too fast, not too slow, & poos to be not too hard or too soft. Goldilocks poos!

In general – to speed & soften things up, use more fibre, water & exercise – to slow things down & firm them up, remove possible irritants (gluten, dairy, alcohol, FODMAP’s, caffeine etc), use some gentle fibre (low FODMAP ideally) & be calm / take time to relax. And in both circumstances – get a check up if concerned! Work your way backwards from ‘the best poos ever’ & you’ll find a happy & healthy gut – one of the foundations for overall  good health – if your poos aren’t good, neither will your insides be!

Love to hear some more numbers! What’s your average daily range? Do you feel awesome but fall outside what is considered normal / healthy? What changes have you made to your poo frequency & how? What is it that completely throws things out for you? Write a comment below or send me an email :-)

Jeanie
jeanie@goodmix.com.au 

 

 

Seven of the Worst Things You Can Do For Your Gut Health!

Let’s face it – we’ve seriously messed our collective gut health up over the last 50 years – excessive use of antibiotics & other medications, chemicals in our food, overconsumption of refined & junky ‘food’, lack of exposure to environmental microbes, high stress levels, huge rates of caesarean births & not enough breastfeeding…no wonder we’re all such a mess!! So whilst the damage is already done, there are a few things we can do to avoid making things worse – & maybe even improve the situation!

If you’re trying to get your dysfunctional & unhappy gut back to some kind of balance – here are 5 things NOT to do (& what to do instead).

Eat Lots Of Sugar & Pseudo Sugar:

Consume lollies, desserts, soft drinks, juices & sweet treats regularly. These are the favourite foods of some of the ‘baddies’ that live in our guts. These microbes love sugars & need them to survive. When you eat too much, they grow like crazy & actually compete with & kill off our helpful microbes that keep us feeling happy & healthy. They also communicate with our brain & demand that we seek out more of this type of food (they need it to survive remember) – one reason why sugar cravings can be so darn hard to ignore!! And – just a heads up, you can’t replace sugar with artificial sweeteners & expect to have a happy tummy (or lose any weight), these are some of the worst things you can put in your gut, responsible for loads of digestive discomfort, bloating & gas. They’re also mega addictive & will still screw with your blood sugar & make you fat – there’s no place for them in a healthy diet, sorry all you Pepsi Max & Diet Coke addicts!

The fix

The good news is that you can take back some control once you’re aware what’s going on. You’ll need mental strength & determination to give up your sweets cold turkey, but it is the best way I believe, as it takes the least time to really feel free (amazing feeling, so worth it). At the same time, make an effort to increase your fibre (get it from veggies, legumes if tolerated, brown rice etc – not so much fruit while you’re quitting as these are still quite sugary, just use lower sugar fruits like blueberries & raspberries). You can reintroduce small quantities of fruits & even quality dark chocolate (low sugar) once you’ve got things under control & are more aware of how sugars effect your gut, your mood & your cravings. Avoid all sweeteners, refined, natural & artificial – you’re retraining your tastebuds, your gut & your blood sugar metabolism. Make sure you include loads of healthy fats & regular protein as these will help you feel full & satisfied (you’ll still be craving sugar, expect it to be really tough – but fat, fibre & protein are your friends)! PondWater (or any quality product with a good dose of aloe vera) can be a useful helper here to improve your insulin sensitivity & also to help soothe & nourish your inflamed gut. Google ‘aloe vera / diabetes’ & you’ll find some pretty awesome results from aloe given to folks with varying degrees of insulin resistance.

Be A Carbaholic Gluten Glutton:

Eat lots of bread, pasta, cakes, cereals, pastries, crumbed foods etc. These types of carbs are really just sugar arranged differently (they feed your bad bugs & get converted into blood glucose extremely quickly in your system, so will contribute to insulin resistance & abdominal fat storage, your sweet cravings & your gut symptoms). Also – these foods all contain gluten if made from wheat, rye or barley – & gluten is one of the most problematic foods for our gut-lining (we have tiny holes that let nutrients into our bloodstream from our gut, but when we eat gluten constantly it makes these holes bigger (leaky gut) so they start to let all kinds of bigger bits into our bloodstream, things that aren’t supposed to end up in there & these can cause our immune system to become excessively reactive. You may not think gluten effects you – but if you suffer from any of the following & would prefer not to – it’s definitely worth looking into: bloating, fluid retention, abdominal pain, reflux, nausea, diarrhoea, constipation, weight gain / loss, fatigue, anaemia, rashes, joint pain, brain fog, anxiety, depression, behavioural disturbances, headaches, autoimmune problems…you can even have coeliac disease & be completely asymptomatic as well – I believe it should be something everyone is routinely checked for.

The fix

Just try 6 weeks with no gluten in your diet. You will generally lose a few kgs of fat & fluid as a bonus, & you’ll also be forced to find healthier (less refined carb) solutions to meals & snacks. Ie instead of a sandwich or wrap for lunch you’ll  just have the salad & protein (meat / fish / legumes / nuts / seeds). Instead of cereal for breakfast (who still eats that stuff anyway) you can use a nutritious soaked seed blend with yoghurt (Blend11 or NeoBlend are good options – sorry, shameless plug), or have a smoothie with plenty of good fats, protein & fibre (throw some seed blend in there). DO NOT just go looking for gluten free versions of your bread, pasta, cakes, cereal, pastries & crumbed foods – many of these can be very unhealthy – full of additives & even higher in refined carbs than their gluten containing versions! Ask advice for some good replacements in your local healthfood store (there are some great gluten free products & then there are some really, really ordinary ones)! I speak to sooo many people each week who just feel better when they avoid gluten, you never know if you’re one of them unless you give it a good trial. I used to think the whole gluten intolerance thing was a load of crap too, but it’s not.

Be A Stress Head:

Surround yourself with mess & chaos, take on more than you can handle, say yes to everything, overthink, take on responsibility for other people’s issues, worry about everything, drink copious amounts of coffee to cope with your workload, sleep minimally & never take a break…if this describes you & you’re not feeling 100% right in the guts THAT IS ONLY STAGE ONE, YOU’RE HEADED FOR MUCH WORSE!  If you’re constantly stressed, your digestion won’t happen properly, & your gut will give you trouble – which will contribute to your anxiety & stress levels, it’s a vicious cycle that will lead you to an eventual train wreck!

The fix

If you’re not coping, SEEK HELP. Change things. You have choices, you can always change your circumstances, your mindset & your actions. When we’re stressed out, our digestive system shuts down (it’s not ideal to be eating or defecating during fight or flight moments, so our hormones divert circulation & energy away from the gut & towards muscles used to fight or flee).Counselling, meditation, yoga, massage, exercise, talking things through with friends (or even strangers), scheduling regular short ’me time’ & longer periods off, away from the things that are constantly causing you mental angst – wether those things are your job, your kids, your partner, your relatives, your home environment. Do the things that you enjoy & that take your focus away from your stressed-out headspace. For some people that may be a sport, it could be art, gardening, walking in nature, playing or listening to music, whatever floats your boat (sailing is also a good one). You can eat all the quinoa & kale you like but if you’re a mess upstairs, you’ll be a mess downstairs too.

Keep Milking It:

Eat cereal & milk for breakfast, cheese & crackers for morning tea, creamy pasta for lunch, a yoghurt smoothie for afternoon tea & ice-cream after your dinner. Helloo – dairy overload!  Calves need cows milk to survive & thrive, we actually don’t (despite what the dairy industry tells us, sorry dairy farmers). Not everyone feels crappy eating dairy – but A LOT of people do, it is one of the most common gut disruptors (right up there with gluten & sugar – these are the first 3 to quit / minimise if your gut is out of whack). Some people find they’re ok with some dairy products but not with others – i.e. A2 dairy can be less reactive, as can goats or sheeps milk products, & yoghurt & butter are generally better tolerated than milk, cheese & ice-cream. Cheeses can also vary a lot, depending on the casein content, the production method & the microbes they contain.  

The fix

If you never have, try avoiding all dairy products for a minimum of 3 weeks & see if you notice an improvement in your gut symptoms. This is an especially good idea if you have previously suffered from eczema or asthma or have them running in your family, also hayfever, recurring ear infections, sinus problems & excessive mucous production can be a giveaway. There are so many great dairy free options readily available these days – coconut yoghurt, all kinds of nut milks, spreads, cheeses & ice-creams. Just remember you can overdo these & I would avoid the soy options (soy is another of our top gut enemies!). Also be aware of quality – many dairy replacement products will contain a whole list of crap that you don’t wanna ingest either – look for simple & natural ingredient labels & observe how you feel when you eat them, just because they are dairy free does not mean they’ll be good for you. If you’ve never tried it, & your gut is giving you grief – do the dairy free experiment. You may notice nothing much, or it could be life-changing. If you are reacting, you may be able to reintroduce some types of dairy or use it minimally after some gut rehabilitation – but you may feel so much better you just prefer to go without.

Be A Party Animal:

Drink several beers each evening & then several more on the weekends! They don’t call it a ‘beer gut’ for nothing – think about it.  Even keen beer drinkers will admit to it making them feel bloated & uncomfortable, but – like any pleasurable addiction – the discomfort has to get pretty severe before it becomes worth avoiding the source of pleasure. And it’s not just beer – any excessive amount of alcohol will damage your gut, I’ve actually spoken to quite a few people over the years who’ve developed a food intolerance right after a ‘huge weekend’ (likely cause: microbial devastation & gut barrier damage leading to leaky gut & consequent immune hyper-reactivity). And whilst you’re invincible when you’re young, trust me – there are many people in their 30’s, 40’s & 50’s suffering with some of the worst gut conditions who would love to be able to press rewind & take better care of themselves / drink less in their younger party years.

The fix

Sorry to be boring, but moderation / minimisation is the go here. Some current research says that we can probably enjoy a daily small glass of quality red wine (emphasise glass, not bottle) & we’ll not be damaging our gut (there’s actually some polyphenol benefits for our microbes). And you might be less stressed too. If your gut already says no to alcohol, keep avoiding it, & don’t start drinking red wine now just for the polyphenols. If you do drink, keep it minimal to maintain a happy gut. If you accidentally slip up – take some probiotics, turmeric, aloe vera, slippery elm powder, stay off the gluten / dairy / sugar etc & be sure to catch up on any missed sleep. Teach yourself other ways to destress, socialise & have fun – don’t revolve your weekly fun times around alcohol.

Just Keep On Shovelling It In:

Eat really early, eat realy late, eat large meals, eat snacks in between meals, eat desserts, have a midnight snack, drink more ‘food’ in liquid form…just keep pouring food down your throat constantly. OK so here’s a big clue – the word ‘breakfast’. We are supposed to have a fasting period, then we break that with some food the next day (the idea is to give your gut a good rest & some time to recuperate from the days work, clean up any mess & be ready to start all over agin the next day). Consider that we used to go to sleep at dark or soon after & rise at dawn or soon after…that should leave a pretty good time for sleeping & no food (24hr fast food joints & service stations were not an option). Many people just get up early for work everyday, eat food without exercising first & then continue eating at short intervals throughout the day, until their late night sweet treat with a cuppa at 9 or 10pm. If you’re waking at 5 & eating breakfast, then going to bed at 10pm after eating something late – that leaves approx 9hrs downtime for your gut. Many experts are now saying that we do much better with a longer fasting period (13-16hrs), & less continual grazing for good gut health.

The fix

Many find their gut (& the rest of their body) feels much happier when they adopt an ‘intermittent fasting’ approach – you can still eat plenty, you just have a smaller window of the day when you eat, & a longer fasting period to allow your gut & liver to really have a proper rest. This can also be a great approach if you need to lose weight or improve your insulin sensitivity. Try it by eating your dinner a bit earlier (& no snacks afterwards – unsweetened herbal tea ok), then getting up in the morning (& doing some exercise ideally), waiting until you’re actually really hungry until you first eat – i.e. try dinner at 6.30pm, then don’t eat until after 9am the next day, or even see if you feel fine until a bit later. This will be easier if you are having plenty of good fats, fibre & protein & keeping your sugars to an absolute minimum (sugar makes you feel hungry all the time).

Take Antibiotics Every Time You Get Sick:

Go to your Dr demanding antibiotics at the first sign of every rash, sore throat, cough or sniffle, so the family won’t need to take too long off work / school / daycare recovering. Believe it or not, this still happens all too often in Australia – GPs feel pressured / trapped into prescribing antibiotics when they won’t be necessary or even beneficial. Uneducated patients still request them frequently (worried parents are often guilty here) & they don’t realise that opting for a course of antibiotics will actually make them or their child MUCH more likely to catch the next infection going around – their immune system will be severely compromised as well as their gut health. There are many adults who’s gut health is still recovering from the antibiotics of their youth. Australian kids are prescribed more antibiotics than most of the world: Parents be warned!

The fix

Focus on prevention & you should very rarely need antibiotics (there are some exceptions to this rule, but this is true for most of us in reasonable health).The best course of action for most childhood (& adulthood) infections is to support the patient (at home, for as long as necessary) while it runs its course, whilst being in regular contact with your health professional whenever concerned. Just make sure your health professional is not a trigger-happy antibiotic prescriber (thankfully these are becoming less common now)!

So…I’m sure we’re all guilty of at least one of these gut sins – I totally am. There are definitely a few more things I haven’t listed too (like not eating enough fibre of course, but I kinda mention that a lot normally!). I’d love to hear what you find is your worst gut enemy too!?

Jeanie

jeanie@goodmix.com.au

“I’m Gonna Get Healthy This Year’! Yeah Yeah…

“I’m gonna get healthy this year’! Yeah yeah, you say that every January!

You start out all gung-ho, but the new year motivation – a result of your Christmas overindulgence – only lasts until around Australia Day, or maybe Easter if you’re lucky!

So many diet plans are annoyingly complex & unsustainable, meaning you get results for a few weeks (IF you can figure out the system & incorporate it into your lifestyle), but then eventually it becomes all too hard & you chuck in the towel – deciding that ‘healthy is way too hard, the benefits aren’t worth the time, effort & sacrifices’.

This year – just keep it simple, & keep it up!

Remember the 4 easy pointers below (post-it note to yourself on the mirror) & stick to them for the entire year! The key to making healthy changes is being really consistent with something sustainable. You won’t suddenly get healthy from doing a hardcore, 2 week new year’s detox. It is a great kick-start, but it’s ultimately the little everyday things, repeated consistently that will shape your health over the year & for the rest of your life.

  1. Eat Clean: Decrease your processed food intake. (Ie additives, artificials, crappy fats & refined sugar & carbs).
  2. More Green: Add in 1 green drink daily & increase your green veggies. (Even the best of us could use a top up, & for the worst of us this could literally be life or death)!
  3. Less Screen: Decrease your screen time. (Sedentary = not sexy, cancel your social accounts for a while if you have to!)
  4. Be Keen: Get involved with others, join a class, take some lessons! Hang out with healthy folks – make getting healthy fun, not a chore! Think martial arts, dance, yoga, Pilates, surfing, stand-up paddle boarding, skateboarding, cycling, kayaking, running, rock climbing, walking, gardening, bushwalking…there are sooo many things you could try! Just sign up for one & get into it!

…if you follow these 4 simple pointers in 2018, you’ll see awesome results…but for those needing a bit of a kickstart…

GRAB THIS BUNDLE DEAL

Some gut, liver detox & metabolic support will give you a huge head-start with your efforts – esp post silly season! And as an extra BONUS we’ll chuck in FREE SHIPPING (expires 26th January 2018), so get the Bundle Deal and at the checkout apply coupon code: Pondytime

  

Humans – They’re Just Like Pot Plants

Humans, like plants have a few basic needs, & when they’re not met properly, we can start to suffer from ‘failure to thrive’. We get out of balance, start to look a bit sad & become susceptible to all kinds of diseases, depending on our weak areas / our constitution & the types of stressors effecting us. Just like plants when their needs for water, soil nutrients, sunshine etc are not being met – they stop thriving.

I wonder – are we using our time, energy & research dollars efficiently, searching for a ‘cure’ for every individual disease that effects us?  Or are we better off approaching human disease from another angle: ‘why are so many things going wrong here, how do we better care for & strengthen the ‘human plants’ in this ‘earth garden’?

Think about a garden. In that garden is a plant, which is not doing so well – it looks unhealthy, maybe not dying but definitely not thriving. What do you (as the gardener) do? You go through a checklist in your head – what are the basic needs of this plant? The right amount of water & sunlight, the right temperature range, humidity, soil / potting mix suitable the individual plant, a pot big enough to provide space for the root system, maybe some mulch on the top to keep the moisture levels more even & ensure good soil health & structure, check there are no obvious signs of infestation or attack from bugs…usually this kind of checklist will give you some ideas & actions to take to help you nurture the plant back to the thriving, beautiful life form it wants to be, instead of a weak, fragile, barely ’surviving’ plant. Humans are not that different.

I believe when dealing with chronic disease, a health professional should think like a gardener. When a human is ‘not thriving’, there should be a checklist to go through at first instance, aimed at strengthening & balancing the human, before medication is employed.  You don’t automatically spray a pot plant that isn’t thriving with chemicals, yet that is often the medical approach to chronic illness! Chemical meds are commonly the first (or only option) when you’re under the care of a hospital / gp.  Obviously – in some severe acute illnesses / injuries, you need to go straight in with intensive pharmaceutical intervention & support. But in most chronic cases, you can get the ailing human back on track, & headed towards thriving, by making a few adjustments…

Here’s a health checklist to go through when you or a family member are not thriving! These are ‘stressors’ that can usually be removed / changed to support the health of the organism – it can be just like moving a pot plant into a sunnier spot!.

Air:

Fresh air! It seems like a pretty obvious human need, but sadly it’s getting hard to come by. You may think – ‘oh I’m fine, I live in the relatively unpolluted Australia’. Maybe…but what if you cycle, walk or jog along a busy road daily? Or your job requires you to be in places with poor air quality for much of the day – i.e. you work as a nail technician or a factory hand in a dusty manufacturing shed? Or you’re a painter? Humans breathing poor quality air can expect to suffer more from hay fever, asthma & other respiratory symptoms (as you’d expect), as well as many other complaints you may not have expected, as pollutants in the air can end up reaching your bloodstream through your lungs. Cancers, cognitive issues, headaches, premature babies & low birth weights, plus many more health issues you wouldn’t think – can be caused or aggravated by breathing too much polluted air.  Solution: everybody move to the country or wear a mask? Just be aware that if you are exposed to excess air pollution, it could be impacting your health – definitely your respiratory system, but also other things. Consider a move &/or change of job if you suspect this is true for you.

Water:

Another of our most basic physical needs, it makes up such a huge part of us – a healthy human should be somewhere around 60% water. When water is in short supply you start to droop – acute dehydration is fairly obvious – but chronic, mild dehydration can cause symptoms like headaches, constipation, skin problems, plus many many more. . 

Get a water bottle you love, fill it with clean filtered water daily & drink up. Especially remember to hydrate after being physically active, when the weather is hot & when you’re out in a drying wind. The same as your garden needs more or less water, depending on the conditions – your water requirements are not static. 2L a day is just an average! 

Nutrients:

Nutrients are the building blocks of all living organisms (yep, plants & humans). The ’substances that provide nourishment essential for the maintenance of life & for growth’. Just like plants need nutrients in the right balance from their soil, humans need a balanced supply of nutrients from their food to build & repair body tissue, make new cells, enzymes, hormones, neurotransmitters, maintain normal metabolism & make sure everything is working properly. Things go wrong in plants & humans when nutrients are deficient or unbalanced. Ie humans with not enough iron or B12 to make healthy red blood cells can become lethargic, unable to function well physically as their red blood cells cannot properly deliver oxygen to cells. Many illnesses are known to be caused by nutrient deficiencies, & almost certainly there are many more that we’re unaware of.  Nutrient requirements can vary hugely from person to person, depending on ethnicity, genetic makeup / constitution, metabolism, gut function & microbial populations, climate, lifestyle, lifestage etc.  What works for one person may not work for the next, the same as a waterlily has some different nutrient requirements to a rose bush. The sad thing today is that whilst we have an abundance of food in Australia, much of that food is very nutrient deficient.

Microbial ecosystem:

Plants, animals & humans are like ‘mini planets’, each supporting their own ecosystem of many other life forms, hopefully living in a balanced & harmonious state. Your personal ecosystem can cause you health problems if it’s out of whack. One of the most obvious places to see microbial imbalance is the skin – living in tropical environments you can get all kinds of skin overgrowths due to the humidity, in adolescents with suddenly oily skin you can see an overgrowth of oil-loving, acne-causing bacteria. You can easily get itchy fungal imbalances in warm, damp crevices like armpits, under boobs, the groin area etc. Of course, broad spectrum antibiotics are the big one – these are devastating to our bacterial friends, wreaking havoc on the gut. Always remember that you’re a walking ecosystem, & be mindful of doing things that can unbalance your microbial life – i.e. using antibiotics necessarily, strong antibacterial washes, antifungals – anything that is powerful enough to use as a treatment can also potentially cause microbial imbalances. Opt for the gentler, more natural skin & personal care products, bathe ‘less rigorously’ use minimal products, eat organic, use natural cleaning products, & always question your Dr on the relevance of medication – sure it may be ‘safe with no known side effects’ but what about for your microbes? 

Environmental stressors:

We humans have spread across this entire planet with her many different climates – we’re pretty tolerant of the extremes because we’ve designed clothing, bedding, shelter & temperature control appliances to help us feel comfortable anywhere. But think about preference – are you a cactus or a moss? Prefer dry or damp? Do you feel happiest / more energetic in cold weather – or do you function best in the warmer months? Where do you choose for holidays? Some people seem constitutionally better suited to cool places, whereas others prefer warmth.  I’ve spoken to many people who’s arthritis / asthma / depression got much better or even resolved after a change of climate, or who ‘got sick’ immediately after they relocated.

 

…so there are a few more points to add to this checklist, but you get the idea – remember you’re just a part of nature too, consider that next time you’re feeling a little wilted :)

 

5 Health Tips From a Naturopath

Sometimes we need to look ‘outside the box’ – here are 5 things that can help you get healthier…

1. Listen To Your Body – Don’t Ignore it:

Some people get themselves into really big trouble because they ignore their body when it’s gently whispering that something is wrong. Ie – that itchy rash that you slathered with cortisone cream isn’t necessarily ‘better’ or ‘fixed’ just because it’s gone away now. The conditions in your body that created / gave rise to that rash are very likely still present, & you’ve made no attempt to change what you’re doing – just whacked some cream on to ‘make the noise go away’. That usually won’t be the last of it – often that rash will reappear somewhere else, worse than before – or you’ll get some other symptom (which may seem completely unrelated) popping up.

Symptoms are best treated as signals to pay greater attention to your health & make a change, not as annoyances to just remove ASAP. You can even use ongoing mild symptoms as a gauge to monitor where you’re at, & to help judge if a change you’ve made has been a good one for you. Respect your body’s attempts to communicate with you – if you ignore the whispers, you’ll have to deal with some shouting later on!

2. Diagnosis & Treatment – Shop Around, Get a Few Opinions:

Always get a 2nd (even a 3rd, 4th & 5th) opinion when a Dr recommends medication or surgery, or any invasive treatment that comes with its own set of risks &/or side effects. I speak to sooo many people who’re medicated unnecessarily, who’ve undergone surgery when other options would have been better. These are not decisions to take lightly, this is your body & you have the right to question your practitioner & get another opinion or 3 if you feel even slightly uneasy about the recommendations being given. I’m not suggesting that you ignore the diagnosis & recommendations of your practitioner, just putting it out there that different practitioners will have different approaches, different training, different experience & different tools to work with your issues. And no Dr has all the answers. You don’t have to go with the first piece of advice you’re given.  

3. Diet – Be Open to Change, Be Flexible:

Nobody really knows what diet is the best one for you – despite what they might say! But if you’re not feeling 100% on your current diet, it makes sense to try something different.  There are a lot of people who feel great on a vegan diet, a lot who feel better on a paleo diet, some just need to steer clear of dairy or gluten…some seem to thrive on the blood type diet…& then those who felt great for a while on some diet or other then slipped for no apparent reason.  

We really only know the tip of the iceberg about how our gut works, the way we digest & assimilate nutrients & the interactions between the gut microbiome & our brain & immune system. My personal feeling is that we need to remain open & flexible to try different approaches when we’re ‘out of whack’. You can find negatives in almost every single food if you look (even many vegetables), so don’t freak out when you read / hear something negative about one of your faves that you thought was healthy – maybe it does have some unhealthy bits, but often the overall effect is a good one when you take into account all the good bits!

4. Look After Your Emotions – They’re Much More Powerful Than You Think:

It doesn’t matter how healthy & balanced your diet is, or how active you are if you’re feeling unbalanced emotionally. Negative feelings can absolutely cause you to become unwell, especially anything that goes on for too long without you recognising it, addressing it & working through it. Things like strong sadness, grief, loneliness, anger, work or relationship stress.  We all have our challenges & stresses, we wouldn’t appreciate the ups if there were no downs – but, if there’s something in your life that is a constant niggle or a big loud disturbance to your mental-emotional wellbeing, it needs to be dealt with as a priority! Don’t set the expectation that you should be a completely zen monk-like human being, but if you’re placing all the focus on diet & exercise, & wondering why you’re not seeing results – look into the mental-emotional side of things. If you’re not laughing, playing, connecting, learning, challenging yourself, relaxing…doing whatever it is that feels most nourishing to your soul – do something about that today!! And if there’s an obvious stressor that is affecting you strongly, do something about that today too. Sometimes you just need to change the way you’re thinking about it, sometimes you need to make big scary changes.

5. Nature – Get Amongst It! You Were Designed To!:

So easy in this crazy concrete day & age to go for days / weeks without spending time immersed in (or even in contact with) nature. If you live & work in an apartment in the middle of a giant city, & have little downtime – it can be especially hard. A few ideas to help you ‘stay connected’:

  • Open your windows (unless your area is quite polluted, let the sunshine & outside air into your home – it will bring in loads of natural & healthy microbes & prevent your indoor environment from stagnating & growing toxic mould). This might not be appropriate in springtime if you’re suffering a hayfever flare, but for everyone else – open up!
  • Plant indoor plants (they can help filter & oxygenate your inside air, they attract healthy microbes & they brighten up your space). Ask at your local nursery for plants that are happy inside in pots, it doesn’t suit them all!
  • Start a veggie garden – even if it’s only a few herbs in pots on the balcony! Gardening is a proven antidepressant, it can be quite meditative & very satisfying – plus you get all those lovely dirt microbes when you work on it & when you incorporate your uber-fresh produce into a meal.
  • Head to the beach, lake, park, forest, farm etc in your downtime. Breathe deeply, hug trees, play in the mud, pat the animals, roll in the leaves / sand, swim & don’t rinse too quickly…get covered in microbes from healthy natural ecosystems! You’ll give your immune system something to do, & introduce some ‘old friends’ (microbes we evolved with) into your personal microbiome.
  • Get a pet. Yes, they drop hair all over the place & walk dirt from outside into your home, & lick the kid’s faces – but that actually makes your space healthier! Get over the grubbiness & embrace your messy pet. They make you healthier in many other ways too (studies actually show that pet owners are happier & healthier). Remember that as you’re sweeping hair & picking up poo :)
  • Buy farm fresh organic fruit & veg (shop at the markets), or grow some of your own. Plants taken fresh from a healthy organic soil ecosystem have a completely different microbiome than those grown on a chemical soaked conventional farm in chemically fertilised soil. Chemicals kill things / interrupt ecosystems. Even if the produce looks & tastes the same, you’re not getting the same good bugs with it. And bugs can have a huge impact on your health. It’s a good thing when you see a slug on the lettuce you’ve just bought…it means the food you’re eating supports life & that a living creature has chosen to eat it / make it’s home there…it’s much more scary if you never find creatures in your food!

…it’s not ALL about diet, exercise & supplements…these have their place, but they aren’t the only things to consider! Tell me what you’ve found to be the biggest health challenge, or the most unexpected healing tool you’ve figured out? Leave a comment below or send me an email.

Jeanie Xx
jeanie@goodmix.com.au

Suffering From Blend11 Boredom??

Feeling great in the gut but getting tired of the ‘same old same old’ Blend11 breakfast?? Don’t let your bowel-boosting tonic get boring!!

Check these recipes out! Our creative customers have shown us that Blend11 is pretty damn versatile! From smoothies to salads, as a topping for porridge, acai bowls or even sprinkled over eggs! In with your regular muesli as a booster, served with something sweet for dessert……made into healthy breads, bars, balls, cakes, slices….you’re limited only by your imagination (ok maybe your budget & bowel tolerance come into it a bit too)! But definitely don’t settle for boring!

Try one of these next time you’re in a food rut!

 

 

CAULIFLOWER, PUMPKIN, PINENUT & PAPRIKA SALAD

Winter or not, bring warmth to your table with this epic salad. It makes a sensational side… accompanied by grilled wild caught fish, this Cauliflower salad is also rather complete in itself!

 

Thai Peanut Pesto

The Blend11 is so versitle and  adds some serious dense macro nutrients to this pesto!!

 

Best Ever BLEND11 Bread 

A tweak on the amazing My New Roots ‘Life Changing Loaf of Bread’ recipe using goodMix’s Blend11

 

Raw Jaffa Mud Cake

 

Muscle Building Smoothie

This smoothie recipe is filling, high in protein & good fats, plenty of carbs, with maca & Brazils as a special boost for the blokes. Make a choc version by adding a few teaspoons of raw cacao powder.

 

‘Best Poos Ever’ – Bircher

Prunes, pears, prebiotic fibre, cinnamon, probiotic yoghurt…if this combo doesn’t move things along gently, nothing will!

And here’s a new recipe idea! 

Breakkie-brunch Jars.

Healthy breakkie on top, morning tea treat on the bottom. You can eat the top for breakfast, then screw the lid back on & keep the bottom for morning tea! Make a few of these on Sunday evening, ready to start the work week off with breakfast & morning tea sorted! Or maybe these could be your perfect ‘post-workout jars’?

23 Things That Could Be Keeping You Fat

This list is by no means exhaustive, just a few observations that may bring you closer to figuring out your own fat loss puzzle.

1) Not addressing hormone issues.

Get your thyroid / cortisol / blood sugar etc tested. Book in to see a naturopath or GP who specialises in or has a good track record of helping people with metabolic problems. They will normally advertise the fact that they specialise or can help you with weightloss, hormonal issues, thyroid problems etc. Males also need to check testosterone, esp if over 40. 

2) Not addressing food sensitivities / gut-immune activation.

Many people will notice significant weight loss, as well as  decreased bloating / fluid retention & systemic inflammation (it’s literally like watching someone shrinking) when they figure out & start to avoid their food intolerances. The most common offenders are wheat & dairy (great idea to try a 6 week no wheat & dairy trial & just observe your body’s reaction) but there can be many other food intolerances as well – like nuts, soy, corn, eggs etc. You’ll have loads more energy for exercising too if your immune system isn’t expending so much on being reactive & intolerant!

3) Eating too many ‘healthy sugars’ after quitting regular. 

Most people can’t eat raw paleo brownies & vegan ice-cream washed down with large bottles of cold pressed fruit juice every day & stay skinny. These ‘healthier versions’ of regular treats can still mess with your metabolism & cause you to pack on the pounds if you’re not careful. Some options are much better than others, look for higher protein / good fats & fibre, & less refined sweeteners, & treat ‘raw treats’ with respect! Watch your serving sizes & consume these treats ideally before or after a workout or doing something active like gardening or cleaning (not while laying on the couch before bedtime!)

4) Excess Fruit.

Too much fruit – esp in one sitting = too much sugar in one hit. It still gets converted into fat by your liver, like other sugars. By the time you’re halfway through a big glass of juice, you’re topping up your fat). If you love your fruit – choose the more of the high fibre, lower sugar types – ie berries (great option as they’re also high in gut-healthy, weightloss promoting polyphenols).

5) Not managing your stress

Your stress hormones cause your metabolism to switch to fat storage mode. Plus – many people cope with stress by eating comfort foods.

6) Consistently getting poor sleep

Same problem as being stressed – your metabolism switches to insulin resistance & fat storage, plus you’ll wake up feeling less like exercising.  

7) Too much beer

A beer belly is not called a beer belly for nothing – switch from 3 beers after work to a glass of red, or find the lowest carb option.

8) Too much alcohol in general.

You’ll eat more crap & exercise less in general if you’re a heavy drinker. For better health (mental & physical) & fat loss outcomes  –  stick to minimal drinking. A max of 1 glass of red daily for the ladies & 2 for the blokes is the current ‘expert’ consensus. If you’re currently a daily drinker, & struggle with weight – quit for a few weeks & see what happens. Every drink you don’t have adds up calorie wise.

9) Filling up before you’re empty.

Eating breakfast before using your morning ‘fat-burning window’ is a recipe for slow & steady weight gain.  First thing in the morning when you wake up is the best time to burn your fat stores. Don’t eat anything if you’re just doing low intensity exercise like walking, if doing something very taxing you may be better off having something small & easily digestible (i.e. a little fruit) just prior to starting (so you don’t go into stress mode when exercising – see what feels best for you). 

10) Eating dessert often.

You’ve just eaten a meal, you should be full…but still you’re not ‘satisfied?’ A delicious fat & sugar bomb after a meal can double your calorie intake, without adding any extra nutrition – & mean you’ll store the excess energy on your belly / hips / butt / arms / chin. If you’re always craving something sweet after a meal, get into the habit of having a small piece of dark choc or some nuts & berries instead if you must. Make sure your meal has enough fat, protein & fibre to be satisfying & sustaining. If you’re ‘being good’ & ordering the salad instead of the steak & chips, yet you’re always left hungry afterwards, you’re kidding yourself. Just order the steak, but lose the chips & ask for veg & salad instead.   

11) Drinking your calories.

People tend not to count a glass of milk,  juice, soft drink, beer, wine, tea or coffee (with sugar & milk) as ‘food’. These are all just liquid food. You often sip on things like these throughout the day, providing a constant stream of excess ‘fuel’ to prevent you from burning any fat – ever. You will only burn fat when there is no available glucose in your bloodstream. Choose herb teas, plain water, sparkling water with lemon / lime, protein shakes post workout, black coffee pre workout…& be conscious that when you do have an alcoholic  drink, your lowest calorie option will be a spirit with sparkling water (ie a vodka lime & soda).

12) Trying to operate with inadequate protein.

If you’re working your muscles you need to also feed & support them, otherwise your body is forced to break itself down in order to keep working. Your metabolism is not the only thing that will suffer if your protein intake is too low – you’ll also notice it in your skin hair & nails, your immune system & your mental health.

13) Being scared of muscle building.

So many people –  especially females, work their guts out exercising in ways that are not efficient at muscle building, & then give up when weightloss results are too slow.  Switch the focus to more efficient muscle-building exercises, & you’ll build heaps of little ‘fat burning machines’ all over your body & get much quicker toning results. Ladies, you won’t end up looking like a bloke if you start to lift a few weights – you don’t have the hormones for it!  Guys know how hard it can be to get huge muscles, they generally do have the hormones (& they’re trying)!

14) Food timing 

Some people find the weight miraculously falls off them when they start to have breakfast later or dinner earlier, so have a play around with your daily feed times. Ie intermittent fasting will increase your ‘akkermansia’ gut bugs, which seem to help push your metabolism away from the insulin resistant / diabetic state into a much healthier state.  

15) Going gluten free without considering food quality.

Junk food is still junk food, even if it’s gluten free. Going GF onto processed crap will not make you healthier or skinnier.  Crap is crap, whether it’s GF crap or not. Many GF foods (i.e. breads, pastas, cakes, bars, flours etc) are actually much higher in refined carbs (which convert straight into sugar once you eat them), than their gluten-filled but whole-grain alternatives. There is research showing that going GF can make you more prone to diabetes, obesity etc – this is why (not because gluten is protective or healthy – but because GF processed foods can often make you fatter than gluten-containing processed foods). Basically – if you just replace regular junk food with GF junk food, you’ll likely end up more insulin resistant & fatter. Be careful – GF does NOT always equal healthier.

16) Bread.

So yummy, so addictive, so easy, so practical, & it’s everywhere. Minimise it, & choose something unrefined, sprouted, GF & not too tasty! Overconsumption of bread is the enemy of weightloss for so many. Best options are generally found in the fridge in your local health store. Ie a sprouted buckwheat loaf is one of my faves. Chop slices thin, use them for toast & pile them high with super-nutritious fillings like eggs, avocado, hommous, tomato, mushrooms, asparagus, salmon, pesto, sprouts, nut butters…don’t make bread the main part of your snack or meal – use the minimum amount to carry your other good foods.

17) Being too busy / failing to prepare.

I’m totally guilty! You know what makes you fat, you know what you should be eating through the day but you forget / don’t make the time to shop for it, prepare it, carry it with you – so you end up eating sub-optimally through your own lack of forward-thinking & organisation. Write reminders & lists, set your phone, allow time, wake up earlier…get it together & you’ll see results!

18) Chronic constipation.

Some people are literally carrying around kilo’s of crap everywhere they go (along with a not-so-healthy gut microbiome). Focus on your gut health to optimise daily elimination, decrease gut-immune system activated inflammation & decrease the reabsorption of toxins from your overloaded bowel.

19) Unhealthy friends.

The people you hang out with can heavily influence your weight – think about it. You share your food & drink habits, your recipes, your cafe & restaurant outings, your social occasions & parties – even your excuses & attitudes to fitness – with your mates. Ask yourself “is this person likely to be my friend or my enemy on a health & weightloss journey?” You may need to have a heart-to-heart chat with a few mates or explain why you’ll be giving upcoming outings a miss. Or – ask them to help you out / join you. If they’re just not sharing your desire to get healthier, you might need to distance yourself for a while, until you’re confident you’ve really settled into some unshakeable & strong healthy habits.  

20) Environment / lifestyle.

You’ll need some serious changes or coping strategies if you’re working in a doughnut shop & you get unlimited staff freebies, if you love pies & have to walk past a bakery to get to & from work…if your apartment is on top of a sweet-smelling pizza shop…if your job involves 8hrs daily in front of a computer or behind a wheel…if your cousin owns a cake shop & delivers the surplus to you each week…if your work has a friday drinks or take away treat each week…  So many times, you can figure out little things that are totally sabotaging your efforts & figure out ways to change them.

21) Hydration.

Many times when you feel ‘hungry’ you’re actually just thirsty. Drink plenty throughout the day, take a bottle everywhere you go.

22) Make some trolley / shopping basket rules.

If it doesn’t get put into your trolley, it has less chance of getting into your fridge, & even less chance of getting into your belly & onto your hips. Just walk past, keep walking (even if the Tim Tams are half price – they are not welcome in your basket).  Avoid the junk food aisles where you can, ask family members to hide things that derail you (properly)!

23) Medication.

Ask your Dr or pharmacist if your meds could be influencing  your weight  (often they do), & if there’s a possibility to change something. Book into a holistic GP, or find a pharmacy with a naturopath who can work with your pharmacist & GP to find ways to better support your efforts.

 

I hope you found some useful info to help you with your weightloss – it’s the question that just keeps coming up, over & over. So many are struggling & the answer is not the same for everyone!  Love to hear what you’ve found most useful in your journey?

Is Australia Moving in a Healthy Direction?

I’m assuming that everyone reading our weekly newsletter is into preventative healthcare in some way, & potentially using complementary therapies like naturopathy / homeopathy / massage / etc as part of their long-term health strategy. Many of you even invest in private health insurance that includes an ‘extras’ policy to help keep these expenses manageable as they arise.

I’m assuming you’re all aware & unimpressed by the recent announcement made by the Australian government to delete some of our favourite natural therapies from the list covered by private health insurance companies on the grounds that:

‘’A review undertaken by the former Commonwealth Chief Medical Officer found there is no clear evidence demonstrating the efficacy of the listed natural therapies:” and “Removing coverage for the listed natural therapies will ensure taxpayer funds are expended appropriately and not directed to therapies lacking evidence”.

The ‘listed natural therapies’ are listed below, & will no longer be covered by your extras policy from April 1st 2019 :(

  1. Alexander technique
  2. Aromatherapy
  3. Bowen therapy
  4. Buteyko
  5. Feldenkrais
  6. Herbalism
  7. Homeopathy
  8. Iridology
  9. Kinesiology
  10. Naturopathy
  11. Pilates
  12. Reflexology
  13. Rolfing
  14. Shiatsu
  15. Tai chi
  16. Yoga

Yes, ridiculous I know – click to read it yourself here 

The reasoning is that the cost to tax payers cannot be justified by the proven efficacy of these treatments. I am not an expert in all of the above modalities, but I know enough to know that the above statements are NOT in the long-term best interests of the Australian tax payer at all!!

Efficacious or not?

Like you I’m sure, I personally know many, many people (& am one myself) who’s health has improved dramatically using therapies from the above list. These improvements (in myself, my friends, family & acquaintances) have led to: the avoidance of chronic disease; giving up expensive (tax-payer funded) medication; avoiding (tax payer funded) dr’s appointments, surgery & hospitalisation; plus other very expensive (& tax payer funded) treatments for end stage diseases.

Therapies You Can Measure Easily…

I get it – you can easily measure the ‘efficacy’ of surgery, hospital care & many pharmaceutical medications. You get admitted to hospital with cancer, you have surgery to remove it & the cancer is gone, you ‘recover’ (debatable) in hospital with the help of some medication & return home without cancer. Easy to see & measure the effects of these. But…

And Those You Can’t…

It’s not so easy to prove that a visit or 3 to your local naturopath has prevented you from developing a list of (very expensive) long term chronic diseases. Look at type 2 diabetes, obesity & arthritis – a classic, common trio that we’ll use as an example. This costly combo is just one example of what is completely preventable with early intervention from a switched on natural therapist – a naturopath is much more qualified to give dietary / lifestyle advice than most GP’s.  Many people currently undergoing surgery / taking high doses of medication / unable to work to full capacity due to these chronic diseases would not be in this position had they been under the care of a naturopath as well as a GP 20 yrs ago & started to eat differently & exercise properly rather than just being given a list of meds to swallow, as was standard medical practice in Australia back then.

First – Do No Harm

This is a promise made by every Dr as part of the Hippocratic Oath, & unfortunately broken all too often with the horrendous side effects of medications relied upon, often unnecessarily. We must factor into the expense equation the huge cost to taxpayers of looking after people with ‘iatrogenic disease’. Look it up – ‘iatrogenic disease’ means sickness ’due to the activity of a physician or therapy’, i.e. people who have gotten sicker as a result of their therapist & their treatments. This is extremely common under the modern medical system with its over-reliance on chemical medications with undesirable side effects, but much less so with the gentler ‘listed natural therapies’. Choose pilates for your sore back instead of pain relief meds & avoid the unpleasant side effects (& ongoing dodgy back!!)  But if you can’t claim for the pilates – you’re more likely to just use the NSAID’S & end up with a damaged gut & all the fun after-effects of that!

As I write this, the local radio news playing in the background informs me that “modern day Australians have a long life expectancy, somewhere around 80 yrs, yet on average will spend 10 YEARS OF IT SICK IN BED!!

According to federal treasurer Scott Morrison “We have the third highest life expectancy in the OECD at 82.8 years, but also spend the most years in ill-health. An entire decade, on average, spent on the sick bed. If we had the same level of ‘healthy’ life expectancy as Singapore, Australians would on average live 2.6 years longer.

We have reduced smoking and car accident deaths, but we have one of the highest obesity rates in the world.

We have decreasing rates of disability, but 17.5% of Australians have mental or behavioural problems and we have a suicide rate that is double the rate of the best performing countries.”

Timing! It’s pretty clear with those sad statistics that our current health system is a little ‘off the mark’. The standard Aussie healthcare system (get sick, see a Dr, get some pharmaceuticals / surgery) is something that intelligent Australians are moving away from in droves. They are seeking alternatives not because they are tree-hugging lunatics who love to throw their money away purchasing ‘ineffective treatments’, but because they can clearly see the stupidity of the current system & are looking for something else! Even if they have to pay a LOT more for them – they still want alternatives!

The changes to the private health care system will not only make life harder for us Aussies who are committed to using preventative health care for our families, it will also impact many natural therapy practitioners, their small businesses  & the training institutions & colleges they studied through. We’ll see less Aussies choosing to study in the natural health field & start up their own practice. It’s already expensive to see a naturopath (in comparison to a tax payer funded GP visit to be prescribed tax payer funded meds), that to take away the small rebates currently offered may rule it out as an option for many & make it less viable for practitioners as a business / career choice.

Here’s just one submissions (from the CMA) opposing the changes, submitted in 2013 – a good case but obviously not good enough:

http://www.health.gov.au/internet/main/publishing.nsf/content/submission4

The funniest thing is this – the government is trying to encourage more young Aussies to take out private health insurance….so they’ve cleverly axed many of the options that younger Aussies are choosing to use for their healthcare needs, removing some of the very reasons they would wish to purchase an extras policy for – go figure (??)

To me, this move is like investing in more (very expensive) ambulances to keep sending to the bottom of the cliff, while actively removing the protective fencing & warning signs from the top of the cliff!!

The ones who really benefit from this situation are not the Aussie tax payers, but (of course) pharmaceutical companies. They are pretty great at finding new ways to make sure their profits are secure, even when consumer trust is rapidly & continually waning. Just keep making the ‘alternative options’ more difficult / more expensive, & people will be more inclined to depend only upon the pharmaceutical system.

Anyway that’s my rant !!

I’m actually sure that quite a few Australians are intelligent enough to continue to seek preventative healthcare from practitioners that they trust & will pay the extra for it regardless. It’s just unfair that they still have to fork out their tax dollars for the people who didn’t bother to read the warning signs, or climbed over the fences anyway.

If you think this is a bad idea – click and have your say! http://www.atms.com.au/support-natural-medicine/ 

As always please leave me a comment or send me your thoughts via email – I’d love to hear them.

Jeanie Xx
jeanie@goodmix.com.au

Hiding Veggies! Handy Tips for Fussy Eaters

With so many cheap processed foods trying to sabotage our shopping trolleys, the constant role of us parents is to find new ways to sneak healthy foods (particularly veggies) into our family’s food! Some kids are super-fussy, & it seems all they want to eat is sausages, chips & crackers! I don’t advise you to ‘just let them grow out of it’, as in my experience – kids who are allowed to get away with eating just sausages & chips as kids often continue to do so, & they don’t get used to the tastes & textures of vegetables & salads the way kids who are brought up on them daily do. You either do the introductory work when your kids are young, or they will pay the price for it later with ongoing fussiness, nutrient deficiencies & the health issues that arise from them. Getting veggies in can be hard work at times, but it will pay off – & there are many ways to sneak things in / introduce gradually so it’s not too scary!

It’s not only the kids who experience trouble with eating their veggies, I actually speak to quite a few adults who are definitely old enough to realise that they should be eating more veggies, but still really struggle with textures / tastes & do not eat very many at all! Because they find it so difficult to eat veggies themselves – they’re unable to enforce good vegetable-eating habits in the kids, so the issue gets passed down & compounded!

Here’s a few easy & inexpensive dishes, perfect for getting more veggies into the ‘average Aussie family’ diet. You’ll notice most of these dinners use mince as a base – reason is it’s inexpensive & kids are generally pretty good with it, plus it’s an easy texture that allows you to hide a lot of veg in it. You can experiment with beef, chicken, lamb, kangaroo or pork. Make it free range & grass fed wherever you possibly can (ask your butcher or farmer at the markets!) I ethically agree with & have experimented myself with both a vegetarian & vegan diet in the past, but I do feel that for rapidly growing kids, some animal protein & fats are important & very useful nutritionally. Just look for & support the producers who operate on a small scale & treat their animals with more care, & incorporate loads of veggies & plant foods in so that meat isn’t playing the starring dietary role, but is there in smaller quantities to supply the nutritional bits that plants don’t cover.

Meatballs / Patties

Better option for BBQ’s than the kid-favourite sausages, as you can pack them full of veggies! The secret is to chop everything really finely, or use a processor / blender. Into your mince you can add add onion, garlic, fresh herbs (i.e. basil, oregano, chives, rosemary, mint, curry plant), carrot, celery, mushroom, capsicum, zucchini. Just watch the water content with the wetter veggies (you may need to squeeze the water out of grated zucchini  for example). I generally add in something absorbent like chia meal or chia flour (ask in your health store) to help bind the patties & soak up any excess moisture from the tonne of veggies. You can also add in some seaweed flakes (i.e. dulse or kelp) to sneakily boost nutrition, salt & pepper & some dried herbs & spices like cumin, thyme or sage.

Bolognaise

A quick & easy option for most families – yet there is a big nutritional difference between the average ‘pasta-meat-sauce’ spaghetti bol & a veggie packed healthy version! To maximise your veg intake, start with onion, garlic & mushroom (all finely chopped). Fry these & then add finely chopped celery, carrot, capsicum, zucchini, & even beetroot. Add in some leafy greens, seaweed flakes, herbs (basil, oregano, rosemary all work well), & then mix all of this into your cooked mince, along with some plain chopped tomatoes or tomato sauce (I use molasses as a mineral-rich sweetener / flavour booster & salt & pepper). I’ll often just eat this without the pasta, but the kids miss it! You can use GF pasta or even some ‘courgette’ / spiralled zucchini noodles. Serve with some simple raw greens or a salad, & some grated cheese to top if desired.

Lasagne

Same veggies as the bolognaise. Chopped finely – this is just the bolognaise brew arranged with layers of sauce / cheese / pasta! You can use GF sheets or finely sliced pumpkin as the ‘pasta’ layers too.

Shepherd’s Pie

All of the same bolognaise veggies will work here too, & you can incorporate some sneaky tinned asparagus into the sauce (blend it in), & throw in some frozen peas. I often use a mix of cauliflower or sweet potato in with the mashed potato topping, & you can throw some green / brown lentils into the mince part – or even use these instead of the meat. You can use things like salt & pepper, tomato paste, mustard, molasses & herbs / spices / natural sauces to make it flavoursome.

Mexican

Great crowd-pleaser to introduce some legumes! Soak some black beans overnight, then rinse & drain them before boiling until soft. Or you can use canned if you’re not good at planning! I use a combo of whole beans & some of the canned refried beans. These can be added in after you’ve cooked up the rest of the mix, which can be your meat (if using, you can easily make a great vego mexican brew with just the beans & veg) plus finely chopped onion, garlic, celery, carrot, broccoli / cauliflower, zucchini…whatever. You can use molasses as a sweetener, plus salt, pepper, cumin, turmeric (not too much or it gets bitter) & coriander to make it taste ‘Mexican’! Serve with guacamole (mashed avo with lemon / lime juice, salt, pepper & garlic) & fresh coriander / shallots on top.

Rice Paper Wraps

Onion & garlic, add in some ginger for the Asian flavour, or whatever Asian style paste / herbs you like – i.e. coriander, basil, mint, lime juice, tamari…just fry the mince with the garlic / ginger / spices / paste, add finely chopped veggies / herbs, & have some others raw & grated on the table when you serve up. You can have several bowls for different people to choose their own additions, & some dipping sauce. Or instead of Asian style, try a rosemary & garlic lamb mince with yoghurt, mint & cucumber dressing. You can find the wraps in the asian section of the supermarket, & you just need to dip them into hot water to make them soft enough to wrap (requires a little practice, small children will need help making theirs).

Wedges

A great winter hot veggie snack. Sweet potato & potato, homemade & oven baked. You can coat in some tapioca starch & spices to get them really crispy / crunchy. Cook in macadamia or coconut oil, & serve with yummy dips (see below!)

Dips

You can hide a lot of veggies (& probiotic yoghurt / healthy olive oil) in dips. Cooked sweet potato & pumpkin, cucumber, herbs, avocado, semi dried tomato, beetroot, olives etc – & we think of dips as party or snack food, so tend not to be on the lookout for veggies! Google veggie dips or any of the above-mentioned veggies with dip & you’ll find recipes. Also – they are nice & smooth, & generally there are crackers to be had with them – so veggie dips can be a winner for veggie-shy people! 

Wraps

You can find some half-decent GF wraps in the supermarkets now. Bundle up a heap of healthy fillings with some kind of yummy dressing. Meat / cheese – whatever other fillings you / the kids like, to go with the veggies. Think avocado, hommous etc. 

Omelettes

Mushroom, tomato, onion, herbs like rosemary, parsley & thyme, baby spinach & shredded kale…just start of with a few teeny tiny bits & you can increase as they get used to the ‘bits’.

Quiches

Same as omelettes – start with a few bits & increase as they get used to the new tastes / textures.

Pies

You can add some veggies chunk style, & some hidden, finely blended into the pie ‘sauce’. Top pies with mashed & seasoned veggies.

Coleslaw

This can be a good one as most veggie-fussy types like mayonnaise / creamy dressings. You can make a basic coleslaw with just shredded cabbage & carrot, or add in shallots / raw onion, celery, kale, capsicum, grated beetroot, parsley etc. Kids usually like a little grated cheese in there too.

Beetroot Salad

Use the fine holes on your grater, to grate a large raw beetroot with 2 medium carrots. ‘Dress’ with some fresh grated / juiced pineapple & / or orange, & add in some desiccated coconut & currants if desired. Amazing sweet & juicy side salad that many kids & adults like, & a great way to introduce raw beetroot to those who’ve never tried it.

Potato Salad

I like to add boiled eggs into potato salad to balance the carbs with some protein / fats. You can add finely chopped shallots / chives, raw onion, parsley, celery, frozen peas….potato salad is great for resistant starch (the carbs turn into this when cooked & cooled down). Resistant starch is good food for your gut bacteria.

Fried Rice

You can use quinoa too (or a mixture) & use leftover meats or veggies in here. I use shredded fried eggs, free range nitrate free bacon, or chicken leftovers, onion, garlic, ginger, turmeric, shallots, carrot, corn, frozen peas, capsicum, broccoli, cauliflower (chopped up into tiny bits). 

Mash

You can sneak cauliflower into your mashed potato, use lots of butter & salt & pepper to flavour, & garlic, chives or parsley are also yum in mash. You can add cooked broccoli & carrots into sweet potato / pumpkin mash…mash makes textures less of an issue so you may have luck with some different veggies incorporated in this way.

Pesto

Herbs are super-nutritious like veggies (often even more so) but can be expensive. It’s great to grow a few in the garden / pots. You can make amazing fresh pesto using basil & baby spinach, parmesan, olive oil, salt & pepper, lemon juice & garlic. This pesto can also be used to flavour other veggies. It goes great with roasted sweet potato chunks, or in a salad.

Spinach & Feta Pies

Kids love greens hidden in cheese! Most people love mini spinach & feta pies. Use a cupcake / muffin tray to bake a heap of these – great way to get some greens & protein in if dairy is well tolerated. Basil is awesome in these.

Platters / Finger Food

Olives, carrot, celery, capsicum, cucumber, cherry tomatoes, snow peas, sugar snaps, beans….you can make great healthy platters using veggies. Just combine with things you already like i.e. cheeses, nuts, crackers, dips etc. Finger food / platters are very kid-friendly & they’ll be able to experiment carefully with a little encouragement.

Green Smoothies

Pineapple / banana / papaw / mango / kiwi / apple / pear etc can be the ‘sweetness’ to make a glass full of raw green veggies yummier! Celery tops, cucumber, baby spinach, kale etc can all be blended up into drinks – many people find drinking their veggies is actually easier than eating them!

Red Smoothies

You can make an amazing, vibrant red smoothie using raspberries, watermelon, dragon fruit & beetroot. This is just cool for kids because it is SOO bright red. Pink grapefruit & ginger are nice flavours in this too.

Juices

Some people can’t handle the thick, fibrous texture of smoothies with veggies in them. Juice can be a great way to get used to the different veggie tastes, without having to deal with the textures at the same time! Try small amounts of spinach, kale, cucumber, carrot, beetroot, ginger, turmeric etc – using familiar things like apple, mandarin, pineapple & orange to sweeten / mask.

Cakes

You can make quite a few cool cakes with veggies win them. The obvious one is carrot cake, but google chocolate beetroot or zucchini cake, black bean brownies…you can actually sneak veggies into cakes & sweet treats!

Raw Carrot Cake

I hope you find some of these tips useful, & I’d love to know your thoughts, struggles or even your own tips! Just leave a comment below or send me an email !

Jeanie Xx
jeanie@goodmix.com.au