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olol-the-perfect-diet

The Perfect Diet

So here it goes.  A moment of truth…and shame.  Since I was about 15 years old I’ve been a chronic dieter.  And as a result, I’ve done a lot of damage to my body by depriving it of the essential healthy fats and other nutrients that it needed to be nourished.  And even worse, an imbalanced body like mine was utterly unable to support the healthy mind and spirit needed to really love myself.  The worst damage was done in the time leading up to my wedding when I began a 1000 calorie a day diet.  If I’d been just eating big bowls of vegetables and lightly steamed greens it might not even have been so bad, but I wasn’t.  I was incorporating the nutrition-less, empty calorie ‘diet’ foods like Weight Watchers meals and diet sodas.  And the awful thing, was that after 9 months of eating like this, depriving my body of any nourishment, I was exhausted, mentally and physically, and I wasn’t really losing that much weight.  I struggled to keep up my exercise routines because I had no energy.  I think I lost around 12 pounds in total.  I went to see a dietician at my local GP practice and her “sage” professional advice, after looking at my diet diary was to swap butter and olive oil for margarine and suggested that perhaps I should reduce my diet to 900 calories.  Yep, you heard it.  She wanted me to remove the small amount of healthy essential fat I actually WAS getting in my diet and replace it with toxic, hydrogenated, free-radical spread…I mean margarine.  Even I knew that was wrong, so I ignored her and continued with what I was doing.  It was only later, after the wedding and honeymoon, when I started thinking about wanting to become pregnant that things really changed and I realised the damage I had done to myself through deprivation dieting.

And now I’m ready to share with you the perfect diet.  Are you ready?  Here it is………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….there is no perfect diet.

There is a perfect diet for you, but there is no perfect diet that will work for all of us.  And here’s why.  It’s really complicated.  It’s because, get ready for it, we’re not the same person.  That’s right.  I’m not you and you’re not your neighbour John, or Sally who works at the supermarket.

Do I wish that we could all use the same diet and exercise formula and get the same results?  Yes, of course I do.  But genetics doesn’t work that way.  We each have different DNA (aside from identical twins, but even they express those genes in different ways) and so we don’t all have the same number of genes.  There is no perfect or ideal number of genes, so its not a competition.  But it does mean that some of us may lack enzymes which are essential for different body processes.  (Bear with me here, this will come back around to diet.)  You may have heard of the MTHFR, COMT or BRCA genes.  MTHFR and COMT enzymes are essential for methylation, which is used to control gene expression.  Women who lack these genes will have difficulty becoming pregnant and maintaining pregnancies.  On the other hand, the BRCA genes are tumour suppressing proteins and Angelina Jolie made the BRCA I & II genes famous when she had prophylactic surgery undertaken to remove her breast tissue, ovaries and fallopian tubes because of her high genetic risk for getting this cancer.  So what I’m getting at here, is that we don’t all process the world around us in the same way.  And we have to love our bodies for what they are.  The lack of this gene or that gene doesn’t make us imperfect, but it does make us realise that we may have to take certain precautions to avoid higher risks for foods, toxins and lifestyles which our bodies are simply unable to handle.  For me, the incorporation of a moderate amount of healthy, organic full fat dairy, like non-homogenised milk and raw butter, was incredibly important to feeling good again.

Okay, so I started eating healthfully again.  I got skinny right?  Wrong.  I started eating normally for like the first time in years, and my body had no. clue. what. to. do.  I mean I’d basically been telling my body – in prehistoric terms – that I was going through a time of famine and so when it started getting a normal amount of food, and I’m talking like 1500-1700 calories here, it thanked the god of rain for sending it a time of plenty and it decided to store every calorie it could.  As fat.  Yay.  But the good news was that all this healthy food I was now eating allowed me to maintain a really healthy pregnancy and produce a really healthy baby.

So a year and a half on postpartum, no I’m not skinny.  I’m not where I’d like to be, but I’m okay with how I look.  I fit into my size 8 jeans and that will do for the time being.  I’m still breastfeeding my daughter and I’m grateful to my body for all its been through and for the beautiful daughter its given me and still helps to nourish.  I continue to support my  thyroid health through diet and the use of therapeutic essential oils, and that is helping me enormously now.  So I guess what I’m saying is that I’ve very slowly found the diet that is right for me.  And actually, it isn’t a diet at all.  I’ve learned that I can’t eat too many sugars (argh!), one cup of coffee a day does me good (but more than that doesn’t) and that I am one of those people who can eat full fat dairy but that I definitely can’t process gluten (as much as I like to tell myself I can when I see a croissant winking at me from the bakery window).  However, for you, dairy may not be your friend.  Or you may not be able to tolerate coffee at all.  Some people have issues with one of their liver enzymes and can even build up high levels of mercury from eating something as simple as salmon, whereas the next person processes it perfectly well.  Juicing diets and green smoothies could actually do you a lot of damage if your thyroid isn’t functioning optimally.  And I haven’t even touched on how your gut flora fits in to all of this.  The list goes on.  Bodies are funny old things, aren’t they?

There is an easy and shorter – but more expensive – way to learn all of this about yourself.  You can get genetic testing done and enlist the help of a reputable nutritional therapist.  They can help you to understand your test results and to recommend bespoke  adjustments to your diet and lifestyle which will support what your individual body is able to do, and to avoid what it isn’t able to do.

I’m sorry that I wasn’t able to tell you that a Slim Fast shake is the perfect diet solution for you.  But its not.  Not for anyone.  And the one bit of generic advice I can give everyone is to get the toxic chemicals out of your food, cleaning and skincare regimens.  Eat organic, biodynamic or non-sprayed foods.  Use natural skincare.  Clean your home and office with natural cleaning products.  (They work just as well, by the way, and they cost less.)  Yes, we do have livers and yes, livers were designed to remove toxins from our bodies, but no one’s liver was designed to handle the amount of chemicals we eat, breathe and slather onto our skin every day in today’s world.

So whether you choose to go the slow route of figuring out the right diet for you, like I did (and continue to do), or if you opt for a faster route with the support of a nutritional therapist, I hope that above all you prioritise learning to love yourself and love your beautiful body.  I found the support of my Young Living essential oils incredibly helpful in both an emotional and physical capacity over the last 9 months of this process.  But I guess what I’m saying is be gentle with yourself, be kind to yourself, eat beautiful foods and move in ways that make you happy.

MeredithYoga_B&W_004

Yoga Inspired Tips for Keeping Cool

This week we are featuring a guest blog post from another mama in my local area, Meredith Gunderson.  Not only is she another expat living in London, like me, but she’s also an essential oil lover and is a full-time yoga teacher at Meredith Yoga & Mindful Living.

 

OLOL Yoga August 2016

 

We become more free-range, finding ourselves at the seashore, in a field, by a fire, among friends & family. Yet, we also still have laundry to do, phone calls to be made, people to get along with and so forth.  Also, going free-range often involves long journeys on planes, trains and automobiles and time spent away from our home, bed & predictable conveniences.

So as we quite rightly are drawn out to make the most of the seasonal light, warmth, landscape and bonhomie spirit…it’s useful to be aware – summer life can get a little overheated. Sunburn, hot sweaty agitated faces…we know them well.

With overheating comes a drain of joy, stubbornness and irritable fatigue. The key is to keep your cool, don’t go 110%…seek a cool-girl 80% effort vibe. Show up, chill out and keep your cool with these 9 ayurvedic and yogic inspired tips…

How NOT to overheat your summer:

1. Don’t over commit. Give yourself the compassionate gift of ample time for tasks and transit – rushing sucks.  asic, I know, but mantra worthy too. Get real about how long things take and what is and isn’t important and you will have plenty of time to enjoy your summer.

2. Listen more, talk less. Talking is heating and listening is a free gift you can give that is always appreciated and often healing.

3. Exercise your eyes in wide open spaces, look deep into the distance – into sea, sky and stars – this creates a magical mix of humility and wonder.

4. Stay out of direct afternoon sun, take your sunbaths in the morning.

5. Keep cool with essential oils – a few drops or lavender & peppermint with water in a little spray bottle feels unbelievably delicious and cooling plus the bugs don’t like lavender.

6. Chill out with some meditation…even if it’s just for a few minutes or a few breaths – place your awareness on your breath. Don’t worry if your mind wanders, that what minds do…just gently, with as much kindness as you can muster up, escort your attention back to your breath. Don’t worry whether you are doing it “right”.  Suspend judgement and just do it and it will work its magic.

7. Practice self care. Make time for quiet me-time so you can be grounded & fully present with others.

8. Take it easy on the yoga mat. Your presence there is much more important than an instagram-able yoga pose. For a quick happy body yoga sequence, try out my free 12 minute guided yoga practice recording HERE.

9. If you don’t automatically link your movements to your breath in your yoga practice, NOW is the time to start. Inhale to create space, exhale to use the space and cozy into the space. This will create an internal flow of energy and also totally refresh the mind.

 

foaming hand soap

Homemade Antibacterial Foaming Handsoap

I love DIY personal care and home care recipes because, as the name of my blog kind of implies, I don’t like using toxic chemicals around myself and my family.  Its not just an ‘in principle’ kind of a thing either for me.  Conventional cleaning products make my throat swell up and I get really seriously fatigued.  So making my own stuff is both fun and helps me feel at my best all the time.

However…its got to work.  I hate natural products that don’t work.

One product I do love is Dr Bronner’s liquid Castile soap, but when I’ve put it into soap dispensers in the past, it shoots out, straight past your hand onto your nice clean shirt (your houseguests will love this), and after a few days, it clogs up in the pump nozzle.

So I adapted this great recipe for DIY foaming hand soap from the Homemade Mommy’s blog and adjusted it to suit my love of rich, foamy and delicious smelling moisturising hand soap.  Anyone who knows me, knows how much I love my essential oils and the Thieves oil I use in here isn’t just nice smelling (its that too!) but its antibacterial and it actually supports your immune system rather than systematically destroying it like the commercial antibacterial soaps do.*  Here’s where I get my Thieves oil, but if you like you can make a version of it yourself.  Or, you can use any essential oil or essential oil blend you like, such as lavender, orange, peppermint or tea tree.  Keep in mind the antibacterial qualities will depend on the essential oil you’re using.

PicMonkey Collage

Ingredients:

  • 1/3 cup liquid unscented Castile soap (such as Dr Bronners)
  • 2/3 cup filtered water
  • 1/4 tsp essential oil

heres the stuff you'll need

Now, here’s where it gets really complicated.  Blend all the ingredients together and pour it into your foaming hand soap dispenser.  The one I got is from Interdesign and I ordered it from Amazon.  I need to double the above recipe to fill my dispenser.

You’re done.

foamy

*Commercial antibacterial soaps and hand gels target all your bacteria, including your good bacteria.  This weakens your immune system, leaving ‘gaps’ for bad bacteria to take the place of the good bacteria you’ve killed off.

Five Practical Uses for Essential Oils

While most people have at least a few essential oils they love, a lot of people just don’t know how to use them in everyday life.  And these days there are really wonderful quality essential oils which are both therapeutic and food grade, so you can do more with them and safely use them in your home, on your body and you can eat some of them too!

I’m a pretty crunchy mama and I like to keep my house and body as free of toxic chemicals as possible.  I also very much admire the zero waste lifestyle and I try to apply these principles where I can by making my own home cleaning and personal hygiene products.  But they can be…well, a bit bland….and by adding some high quality essential oils they become so much more pleasant.  Remember – they’re not just smells, essential oils are chemicals in their own rights and have various properties to make your homemade products so much more effective.  In many cases, more effective than their toxic commercial counterparts.

So I thought I’d share my top 5 practical uses for essential oils in everyday living.

1. Toothpaste

I know, I know, who makes their own toothpaste?  I’ve spent a lot of money on a lot of cruddy toothpastes with ‘green’ credentials.  First of all, they’re expensive.  They don’t have that great mouth feel of foam that we get from Colgate and Crest, they don’t taste of candy canes and they don’t make your teeth any whiter or cleaner feeling.  And quite frankly this one shares two of those qualities.  It doesn’t taste of candy because there’s no sugar (or fake sugar) in it and it doesn’t foam up.  But what it does do is make my teeth feel and look the cleanest they have ever felt and its pretty inexpensive to make.  So, I’m sharing the YouTube video that I followed for my recipe.  (You can add in activated charcoal for even more whitening properties!)  When making this toothpaste I recommend only using a food grade peppermint essential oil, such as Young Living or DoTerra.  Please don’t just go out to your local health food store and buy what’s on their shelf.  Its really not the same thing.

2. Face Moisturiser

I believe in growing old gracefully…but not for a few more years, please.  In the meanwhile I use the anti-aging power combo of Frankincense essential oil and rosehip oil.  Frankincense promotes healthy cell regeneration and keeps existing cells and tissues healthy and rosehip oil is full of anti-oxidants (lycopene, beta-carotene and vitamin C) which prevent free radical damage as well as essential fatty acids omegas 3,6 and 9 which repair and regenerate damaged skin tissue.  I dispense my rosehip oil into a dropper bottle and place 4-5 drops on my hand each morning.  Into that I drop 1-2 drops of Frankincense essential oil.  I rub my hands together and spread it over my face and neck.  It makes me smell gorgeous too!

Why not coconut oil, you say?  I thought coconut oil was the answer to everything?  Well this is one time when I don’t think coconut oil is the answer.  Coconut oil scores a 3 on the comedogenic scale, whereas rosehip oil only scores a 1.  That means coconut oil is going to clog your pores a lot more.  Which doesn’t really help with the whole anti-aging thing.

3. Floor Cleaner 

There are fantastic natural all purpose household cleaners which already contain the essential oils in them, such as Thieves cleaner and probably Melaleuca make one too.  However, I live in the UK where Thieves cleaner can often run out of stock (literally there’s none available at the moment) and its also a bit pricy.  So I make my own floor cleaner using heavily watered down organic Alma Household Cleaning concentrate (I’m not sponsored by them or anything…I just really like this cleaner!) combined with 5-8 drops of Thieves essential oil to it and store it in a heavy duty spray bottle.  I have a three storey house filled with all antique wooden floor boards, and I spray ahead of me as I follow behind with the microfibre mop and my floor boards shine and smell like Christmas from the Thieves oil.  (You can recreate this oil by blending clove, lemon, cinnamon, eucalyptus and rosemary essential oils…but its easier to buy it already made up!)

*Update:  Since writing this article I have now got my hands on a bottle of the Thieves Household Cleaner.  It is amazing!

4. Fabric Softener

This is a really easy one!  Pour 6 Tbs white vinegar into a measuring jug, add 3-4 drops of essential oil and 1 Tbs of baking soda.  Let the fizz settle down then pour into the fabric softener tray of your washing machine.  I change the essential oil I use depending on the season and I use lavender for the baby’s clothing and bedding.  (Remember to add the essential oil to the vinegar before the baking soda.  After you add the baking soda, the oil won’t sit on top of the vinegar anymore and you won’t get oil spots on your stuff!)

5. Vacuum Scent

This is another easy one!  Just take a cotton ball and drop 4-5 drops of your favourite essential oil on it.  I like fresh citrus smells like orange and grapefruit.  Just vacuum the cotton ball straight into your vacuum cylinder and as it goes ’round and ’round and heats up, it fills your home with scent while you’re vacuuming!

By now you’ve probably realised that there’s very little that baking soda, vinegar and coconut oil can’t do!  I hope you enjoy de-toxifying your life a little bit by trying even just one of these ideas!

Disclaimer: The contents found on OurLittleOrganicLife.com not intended to diagnose, treat or cure. If you have concerns, please contact a doctor before altering your health care routine.