Wednesday, May 18, 2016

I Know Everything and Nothing About Ulcerative Colitis

In honor of World IBD Day today, I wanted to share some advice about what has helped me over the years with anyone who is newly diagnosed or struggling with IBD on a regular basis. Nearly 5 years after my own diagnosis, I still don’t have all the answers, but I’m more than happy to share my experience with the hope of it helping others.


Find a doctor who you trust and respect – This is always my #1 piece of advice to those who ask me about IBD. About a year after being diagnosed, I switched GI doctors because my first one was a total d-bag. Ugh, he was awful. Now, I’m totally obsessed with my current GI doctor and only have wonderful things to say about him. I respect him so much and trust that he has my best interests in mind. He’s compassionate, caring, and pretty funny, which, of course, helps navigate this crappy disease.

Speaking of trusting my doctor…

Inquire about Entyvio – Oooooh, how I fought biologics. I know I’ve said this before, but my poor doctor… and poor Mal. I was so resistant to trying Remicade and tried so many things to avoid it. I was on Remicade for a little over a year, but when it stopped working, my doctor was PUMPED to put me on Entyvio. I still remember many months ago when Entyvio was first approved, he was giddy with excitement, so it was an easy decision for me. For anyone struggling with UC, I highly recommend asking your doctor about Entyvio. It’s gut-specific, so it doesn’t have the same side effects as other biologics and, supposedly, it works better. It’s sometimes tricky to get the drug approved by health insurance because you have to fail another biologic first, but if you’re in this boat, don’t give up after an insurance denial. Keep trying and don’t take no for an answer. You are your best health advocate!


Try a more plant-based diet – As mentioned above, I know everything and nothing about IBD, but after trying EVERY diet out there, I finally tried a more plant-based diet last Fall and had some improvement in my symptoms. I know everyone is different with regard to diet, so I suggest trying everything and anything to see what works for you, but most plant-based diets are anti-inflammatory, which is essential to calming down the immune system.

IMG_3468 (800x600)

Along the same lines…

Avoid Polyunsaturated Fats (PUFAs) in your diet– All of the information out there about dietary fat is so confusing… eat more fat, eat less fat, eat only “healthy” fats, but what are those exactly? I’m still trying to make sense of it all, but, from what I understand, limiting PUFAs, which can increase inflammation, is the best way to get a handle on the omega 3:6 balance. PUFAs are in everything, so Nicole has me watching my daily consumption and limiting them as much as possible. She recommends consuming only 6-10 grams per day, which gives me a little wiggle room for living a “normal life,” so I can eat my favorite foods and dine out every once in a while. (FYI: I use Cron-O-Meter to keep track.) Nicole says it can take months, even years, depending on what you eat, of course, to balance out the omega-6s in your body, so it’s a constant work in progress. More info on PUFAs: Ulcerative Colitis and Dietary PUFAs, Are All PUFA Bad? and The Biggest Dietary Change In American History.

Speaking of Nicole…

Find a GOOD Registered Dietitian to address nutritional deficiencies – This is super important since IBD folks do not absorb nutrients well because of their compromised digestive system, and it’s a bummer than not more traditional doctors recommend it. And what I mean by “good” is a RD who constantly seeks out new information, questions what the media tells them, and doesn’t regurgitate standard recommendations. I’m lucky to have found Nicole. She’s smart. She’s real. She cares a lot. She’s the first health professional that really took the time to understand what was going on with my disease and related symptoms. She asked me a zillion questions during our initial consult, but only because she wanted to get the full scope of what was going on. Now, we’re working to balance my hormones while addressing various related nutritional deficiencies, both of which can be affect UC symptoms. (FYI: Nicole had me do a mineral analysis test and the results were super interesting. It was also really affordable unlike a lot of tests out there nowadays.) So, remember those insane night sweats that I used to get? After just 2.5 months of working with Nicole, they are SO MUCH BETTER, almost non-existent. Even though they’re likely related to hormones, there’s a strong link between hormones (progesterone) and IBD inflammation, so I’m hoping my UC symptoms will continue to improve.

Incorporate collagen into your diet – It’s such an easy thing to do (it mixes well into both hot and cold liquids) and helps to promote healthy digestion. I add a serving to my iced coffee every morning as well as a orange juice + seltzer combo in the afternoons/evenings.


Read 10% Happier – As you probably remember, 10% Happier made a huge impact on my life, and I’ve sung it’s praises on CNC many times in the past. If you have issues with anxiety or sleep, which often go hand-in-hand with IBD, I highly recommend it.

Question of the Day

IBD peeps: What has helped improve your symptoms over the years?

Want to get involved? Consider:

  • Joining your local CCFA chapter to take action throughout the year
  • Spreading the word about #WorldIBDDay on Facebook or Twitter
  • Wearing purple today
  • Donating to help CCFA scientists find better treatments and cures

from Carrots 'N' Cake

1000 Life Hacks

1000 Life Hacks via Juicing/Smoothies/Waters

Photo | 1000 Life Ha

Photo | 1000 Life Hacks | Bloglovin’ via Juicing/Smoothies/Waters

12 Essential Tips for Primal Women

12 Essential Tips for Primal Women FinalLook: I’m a man. I’ve lived a different experience than the average woman, with totally different equipment and different concentrations of hormones coursing through my body. But I have a daughter and a wife and a good head on my shoulders that’s spent the last 30 years thinking about health, nutrition, and fitness for humans, so I have a few things to offer.

So let’s get right down to today’s post. What follows are 12 tips for Primal women. Or any woman, really.

(Men, too: if some of the things mentioned in today’s post aren’t working for you, and the tips seem to apply, go for it!)

1. You don’t have to fast (and maybe shouldn’t)

Amidst the growing acceptance of intermittent fasting as a legitimate tool for healthy aging and weight loss emerges the realization that men and women may respond to it differently. Whereas in men the response to fasting is usually positive, it’s more mixed in women. For instance:

One study found that while IF improved insulin sensitivity in male subjects, female subjects saw no such improvement and actually experienced worse glucose tolerance.

In another, obese men and women dropped body fat, body weight, blood pressure, total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, and triglycercides on a fasting regimen. Healthy people may have different responses. Perimenopausal women were also excluded from the study.

And most recently, researchers found that women respond negatively to an energy deficit induced by fasting but positively to one induced by exercise.

Women can fast, but the conditions for success are narrower. If you want to try fasting, you may have success with shorter fasting periods (skip a meal instead of two), less frequent fasting (once a week or every two weeks).

2. You need to lift

Everyone needs to lift, but no one needs to lift more than women who’ve spent their whole lives avoiding it after hearing that lifting will make them “bulky.” Chances are, they haven’t lifted. Chances are even if they’ve managed to get into the gym with the intent of lifting, little niggling doubts remain and increase the chance they’ll veer away from the weight room toward the spin class. Or they actually lift but stick to baby weights rather than barbells. Lifting won’t make you bulky (unless you’re taking exogenous substances that render your hormonal profile more similar to a man’s). Lifting will:

Improve your bone density (osteoporosis hits women harder than men).

Improve fat burning.

Increase lean mass.

There’s no reason not to lift.

3. Your “ideal” body fat percentage is higher than you think

Women carry more fat on average than men. They just do. And when you look at a healthy woman’s body, her true body fat percentage is likely higher than you think. For a man, 12-15% body fat is healthy, while for women the healthiest (in general; everything is relative and there are always exceptions) body fat level is 18-25%.

So when you get your body fat tested and it’s 25% or even higher, don’t freak out. You carry weight differently than men. What’s high for a man may be completely normal for you. A woman can look about as lean as a guy but have far more body fat as a percentage of overall weight. This can cause anxiety—those cover models look like they’re 12% body fat but are actually closer to 20%—but it shouldn’t.

4. Junk in the trunk might be treasure

For many women it’s completely natural to have a higher body fat level and accumulate more fat in the gluteofemoral region–the hips, butt, and thighs–because that’s where women store DHA for future baby brain construction. That’s probably why gluteofemoral fat is notoriously stubborn and hard to burn – because it’s a reliable, secure way to store an important nutrient (DHA) that’s often scarce during pregnancy. In fact, having that kind of fat is actually a sign of good metabolic health.

Embrace your lower body fat, since it correlates strongly with health.

5. Don’t try to eat as much as the guys

It’s not just an illusion that many men seem to be able to eat whatever they want without gaining an ounce. Men are generally larger, with more muscle mass. Just to stay at their normal weight they require more calories. They can get away with more calories. But since women are smaller in general (fair warning: I’m going to be doing a lot of generalizing because it produces actionable advice for the most people), they can’t. But that food is so good and your husband is enjoying so much more of it. Unfair? Sure. So be sure to pop him one next time he’s not looking in retribution (not really though).

Being Primal usually takes care of the “inadvertent calorie reduction” thing pretty well, but not always. Be aware that you don’t need to keep up with your husband/boyfriend/guy friends/etc at dinner. And make sure you’re eating nutrient dense foods. Since you have fewer calories to “work with,” you need to make the most of the ones you eat.

6. Beware the female athlete triad

When women combine heavy, intense training with undereating, they may develop the “female athlete triad“: disordered eating, osteoporosis, amenorrhea. If all that sounds extreme, it is but it isn’t; the triad is shockingly common among adolescent and young adult female athletes.

Don’t train too hard. Don’t eat too little. Avoid doing both concurrently, or else your bone, reproductive, and psychological health can suffer.

7. Don’t diet too hard

I know, I know. There’s all this seemingly conflicting information being strewn about. Don’t eat too much. Don’t eat too little! Don’t exercise too much! That’s just the reality, though: in general, women can’t get away with as many metabolic perturbations as men. Whereas men can skip a day or two’s meals and actually come out leaner, healthier, and happier, women often respond negatively to the same stimulus. Men can train really hard and it takes a while for the negative effects to accumulate (remember, I did it for decades before enough was enough); women usually can’t. And men can usually get away with more restrictive diets, like eating very-low carb or super low-calorie for extended periods. In my experience, women usually can’t.

So be aware of all that. Eat the food. When losing weight, which really means “losing fat,” sometimes you need to eat a little more than you think.

8. Get your calcium (and the nutrients necessary to absorb and utilize it)

Across their lives, women have a higher risk of osteoporosis than men. There are a lot of reasons why this discrepancy may exist, but a major one is inadequate calcium intake. Women need more calcium than men.

If you tolerate it, full-fat dairy is a fantastic source of calcium. Highly bioavailable and comes packaged with lots of other nutrients that help it absorb properly.

Leafy greens are pretty good sources of calcium, but I wouldn’t rely on them for the entirety of your calcium intake.

Bone-in small fish, like canned sardines, give tons of calcium. And like the dairy, canned fish comes with many other important nutrients.

9. You might need a few more carbs

The Primal Blueprint recommends quite a varied range of carbohydrate intake. While detractors like to focus on the “low-carb” part of things, I’ve always said that eating around 150 grams of carbs per day is perfectly sustainable, healthy, and sufficiently low-carb. And a sizable portion of my female readers, friends, and clients all seem to do better toward the upper end of that range, in the 100-150 grams per day tier. Many do great on lower amounts, too.

Just don’t think you have to go ketogenic, or avoid berries, or count the carbs in spinach.

10. Get a handle on stress

Much of the research has been in animals, but the bulk of it suggests that females are more susceptible to the negative effects of stress than men. In female mice, chronic stress has a greater chance to cause depression. Girls appear to be more sensitive to the negative psychological effects of child abuse. Overall, females have a greater potential for dysregulated “stress reactivity” in response to stressors and show higher rates of stress-related disorders.

Even “physical” stress, like the oxidative damage caused by exposure to airborne pollution, is more potent in women than men. Female smokers, for instance, show evidence of more oxidative damage than equivalent male smokers.

11. Get your sleep

A recent study found that inadequate sleep was more likely to cause “psychological distress and greater feelings of hostility, depression, and anger” in women than men.

Once again, it’s not fair. It can’t be ignored, though.

12. Watch your iron intake after menopause

For most of your life, you’ve got a built-in iron regulator: your period. Every month, you lose a little iron. You may have even needed to focus on getting more iron to account for the iron lost through menstruation. And through certain phases of life, like pregnancy, your iron needs are higher.

But after you stop getting your period, you’re no longer losing iron. You’re accumulating it, just like men do. And while it may be a confluence of factors, increased iron may be partially responsible for the overall increase in health problems that typically ensue with menopause. If you’re no longer shedding iron regularly, check out all the ways you can use your diet and other lifestyle habits to regulate your iron intake and absorption.

That’s it for today, everyone. It’s not an exhaustive list by any means. I’m sure I’ve missed some things, so now it’s your turn to help out down below.

Women: what tips, tricks, and practices have you found indispensable for your Primal journey?

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from Mark's Daily Apple

New Potatoes with 5-Minute Mint Pesto

New spring potatoes are deliciously in season now, but the shining star in this recipe is mint.

Even if you have a black thumb, you can grow this versatile herb. A small pot of mint on any sunny windowsill is almost impossible to kill. In fact, if you do happen to have a little plot of garden soil, do not plant mint; it will take over your garden like a weed. Always plant mint in a container.

Fresh mint is magic in the kitchen. You can:

  • Toss whole or torn leaves into salads
  • Pair it with peas for a classic combo; serve mixed into brown rice
  • Make Vietnamese noodles or a banh mi sandwich with fish sauce and mint
  • Flavor your water without added sugar or artificial sweeteners

Or make this 5-Minute Mint Pesto. It comes together in no time and perks up new spring potatoes, pasta, turkey sandwiches and even scrambled eggs. I like my pesto chunky, so this recipe uses less oil than most — and lots of herbs. Mint is a powerhouse of flavor, so it’s balanced by quite a lot of fresh parsley and tangy, salty Parmesan cheese.

And when it comes to nutrition, the general rule about leafy green plants is this: The more flavor, the more antioxidants. Powerfully potent or bitter flavor compounds in plants are part of their defense system from predators; these bold compounds are in the form of strong plant-based antioxidants. (Antioxidants help strengthen the human immune system.) Think boldly flavored Swiss chard, Brussels sprouts, arugula, and strong herbs like mint. Bottom line: Potent plants contain potent antioxidants. So try growing or buying fresh mint; you’ll be adding flavor and antioxidants to your meals.


New Potatoes with 5-Minute Mint Pesto

Makes about 8 servings



2 1/2 pounds small golden- or red-skinned potatoes

1 cup fresh mint leaves

3 cups fresh parsley leaves

2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped

1/4 cup shelled dry-roasted pistachios

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

¼ teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 cup (2 ounces) freshly grated Parmesan cheese



  1. If potatoes are larger than about 1 inch in diameter, cut potatoes into 1-inch cubes. (Do not peel.) Place in a medium pot. Add cold water to cover; bring to a boil. Lower heat to medium and cook 12 minutes or until barely fork-tender. Drain water.
  2. Meanwhile, place mint, parsley, garlic, pistachios, oil and salt in food processor; process until finely minced. Place in a large bowl. Stir in cheese until blended.
  3. Toss pesto with warm or room-temperature potatoes.



  • Very lightly pack herbs into measuring cups (otherwise the proportions will be slightly off). But the beauty of this pesto is that you can always add a bit more of a favorite ingredient.
  • Do not overprocess the pesto; if you do, the color will be dull green instead of bright.


Per serving (1/8 of recipe): Calories 231; Fat 8 g (Saturated 2 g); Sodium 148 mg; Carbohydrate 32 g; Fiber 4 g; Sugars 2 g; Protein 7 g

Serena Ball, M.S., R.D., is a registered dietitian nutritionist. She blogs at sharing tips and tricks to help readers find cooking shortcuts for making healthy, homemade meals. Her recipes are created with families in mind.


from Healthy Eats – Food Network Healthy Living Blog

8 Staple Smoothies T

8 Staple Smoothies That You Should Know How to Make: click through for these awesome, yet simple, smoothie recipes. Back To Her Roots via Smoothies and Juicing Recipes

Crispy Tofu Sticks

Foodblog (7 of 10)

I promised you all this simple tofu recipe! It’s super cheap (yay tofu!), relatively easy and quite delicious! Panko is such a great ingredient and so is tofu – both are so versatile.

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You can adjust the seasonings to taste in this recipe. I used an herby seasoned salt, but any kind of herbs and spices combo that you fancy would do.

Mazen first had these at Matt’s house, and when Matt reported that Mazen had loved his “tofu cheese sticks”, I made them for him again the next week. While he didn’t love them as much when I made them (he always eats better for Matt!) he still liked them and ate a few. We are sloooowwwwly emerging out of the super-picky toddler stage. One day at a time!

Foodblog (1 of 1)

Here’s the general gist of the recipe:

Foodblog (1 of 10)

Slice the drained and dried tofu into strips, like French fries:

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Then dip the strips in egg and then panko mix to coat.

Foodblog (2 of 10)

Coat the bottom of a pan in safflower oil and then panfry the sticks until they are golden brown, (about 5 minutes per side.)

Foodblog (4 of 10)

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Serve plain with ketchup (or tartar sauce! Or a yogurt dipping sauce! Or any other kind of sauce!) or over a salad with some pimento cheese, like I did : )

Foodblog (10 of 10)

Crispy Tofu Sticks


Ingredients (Serves 2-4)

  • 1 block extra firm tofu
  • ~2 cups plain panko bread crumbs
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 tsp each of salt and herbs (to taste!)
  • Enough safflower oil to cover the bottom of a pan


  1. Slice tofu into half-inch sticks.
  2. Beat eggs in a shallow bowl.
  3. Combine panko, salt and a few teaspoons of the herbs of your choice in another bowl.
  4. Heat enough safflower oil to cover the bottom of a pan on medium-high heat.
  5. Dip tofu sticks in egg and then roll them in panko.
  6. Fry in oil until golden brown, about 5 minutes per side.
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Crispy Tofu Sticks

from Kath Eats Real Food

How To Hone Your Kitchen Knives

Keeping your knives in top condition is critical. You would never expect a dentist to repair your teeth with badly maintained tools, and so it is for a chef or home cook. Keeping your knife sharp… Read more →

from The Gracious Pantry