If you follow me on Snapchat, you know I’ve been posting there about my day to day meals. I’ve shared a lot about what I’ve done over the last year to educate myself on gut health and hormone imbalance, and I received so many questions asking for tips on how to create affordable healthy meals, what small changes can be made for big differences, and my go-to recipes. I’ve also learned so much from you guys! Every time I post about what I’m trying to do for myself, I always get messages with tips and tricks from other people, too, so I thought I’d round up all the information I have and put it here for everyone to reference!
The first big change I made when I was looking to start improving my gut health was trying to cut out as much processed food as possible, especially where I felt like it wasn’t necessary. Listen, I still love my favorite chips and snacks, and I indulge in them when I need a fix. I know what I’m getting myself into when I eat a bag of hot Cheetos. What I didn’t know was that some of the things I was eating to try and be “healthier” were actually secret culprits behind digestive issues. A big one I shared on Snapchat was my almond milk. I prefer the taste of almond milk in my coffee and started using it a couple years back, but I didn’t know that a lot of commercial brand almond milks are full of preservatives and gums that can really disrupt your digestive system. I have tried my best to steer clear of nut milks with high levels of sugar, gums, and preservatives, and my favorite brands are Three Trees & Malk, because they are made with organic almonds, salt, and water. I also have been trying to cut soda out of my diet because of the different chemicals it contains, and the high levels of added sugar that can seriously mess with your insulin levels. I still love a little drink and carbonation, so I have largely switched to Poppi sodas. My favorite is the strawberry lemonade flavor. It is the perfect fix I need when I’m craving a soda!
WHAT DO YOU MEAT
The other thing I have really tried to pay attention to is purchasing quality meat. I am an O blood type, and I try to eat for my blood type in the sense that I eat a largely protein-based diet. I still get my daily nutrients and eat balanced meals with carbs and veggies, but the majority of my meal portions are allocated to beef, chicken, and fish. My parents did a really good job of feeding us only non-GMO meats growing up, and as I’ve gotten older I really try to do that for myself as well. As a woman, introducing additional hormones into my system never goes well for me. I have spent a lot of time trying to regulate my cycle and pay attention to what my body needs during each phase (more on this later), and additional hormones through animal bi-products are something I try to avoid whenever I can. I usually purchase grass-fed, organic beef because cattle that is grass-fed are more nutrient-dense than cattle who are corn-fed. When I’m buying chicken, I look for free-range, organic chicken (and eggs!) Because they contain more Omega-3 and live more humanely.
As for my fish, I look for wild-caught (not farmed) fish. I posted about this to Snapchat, but I especially pay attention to wild-caught vs. farm raised when buying salmon, because salmon that is farm raised is typically fed a diet of corn, and because they aren’t eating shrimp and krill, they aren’t naturally pink. Farmed salmon is then artificially dyed pink to match the wild caught, and is full of red dye 40. Meat is another secret culprit I found in terms of hiding things within food that’s supposed to be “healthy,” so I do my best to choose meats that don’t contain extra hormones or chemicals!
Another thing I’ve tried to be really conscious of in terms of consumption is where my water is coming from. A lot of tap water in the US is treated with harsh chemicals like chlorine and bleach, effectively stripping it of all the minerals our body needs to properly use the water. Beyond that, it can contain high levels of fluoride, plus, a lot of nasty bacteria lives in old pipes and contaminates our tap water before it even reaches our cups. I try to drink spring water as much as possible because it isn’t chemically treated and still contains the essential minerals I need. My favorite is Mountain Valley Spring water, which I buy in cases from my local market. When I can’t drink spring water, I try to at least not drink out of plastic bottles, especially if they’ve been in the sun, because this releases micro-plastics that can seriously affect health, especially female fertility.
HOW I LOVE BEING A WOMAN
A huge part of my health journey has been understanding my cycle more. For years I felt really out of tune with my body, especially when it came to my hormones and period. I love this instagram post from Nourish With Tillie, who thoughtfully breaks down each phase of the female reproductive cycle to understand what our bodies need during each. I love the way she lays out the emotional status, appetite, energy levels, and how we can use this information to map our diets and exercise to maximize nutrient consumption and workouts in line with our cycle. For example, when I’m on my period, I stay away from high-impact exercise and stick to pilates, walking, or swimming. I limit sugar and inflammatory foods and up my red meat consumption! I highly recommend studying your cycle and finding a routine that works for you. It has helped me balance my hormones and consistently feel better throughout the month! Pro tip: I also stopped taking ibuprofen because I felt like it wasn’t working for me. Now, I take Boiron’s Cyclease Cramps Meltaway Tablets along with Organic Healthy Cycle Raspberry Leaf Tea to help with cramps, fatigue, and mood balance!
HEALTHY, BUT MAKE IT AFFORDABLE
Last week, after I posted myfavorite holistic habits, I received a ton of questions about how to create meals that were healthy but still affordable, and here is what I will say: Your health is a long term investment. I prioritize wellness because I would rather spend a few extra dollars on organic food now than thousands on advanced medical care later. That said, there are definitely ways to create affordable, healthy meals, and my followers on Snapchat were super helpful with this! I love to shop at Trader Joe’s because I am most often shopping and cooking for two people. They have great portion sizes and my boyfriend and I split the cost of those meals which makes it more affordable. However, one of my Snapchat followers let me know that Aldi is a great option for affordable, organic food. Also, in researching Aldi, I found they are actually under the same parent company as Trader Joe’s, meaning a lot of the food is coming from the same place! If you don’t have an Aldi near you, Costco also has great organic meat options that you can buy in bulk and freeze or meal prep! I try to structure my meals around a protein, one to two veggies, and a starch like sweet potatoes, rice, or quinoa. I love to change up the flavors of my meals with different sauces or marinades so even when I meal prep, I don’t find my meals boring or bland. Get creative with your cooking! Experiment with different flavors and seasonings that will keep you wanting to come back to your kitchen instead of spending $35 eating out (which is still fun to do every now and then, but not as affordable as eating at home!).
I think the most important thing to remember is to integrate these habits slowly! It took me about a year to get to this point. Don’t bite off too much at once or you’ll likely feel overwhelmed, be it financially or just because your body is craving its old habits. Be patient with yourself, do what you can, and know that even small changes have the power to make big differences.
I’m thinking about sharing more of my cooking content on here and on Snapchat/YouTube, so make sure if you have any requests for recipes to DM me on Snapchat or Instagram and mention this blog!! You can also email me at email@example.com <3