Skin, digestion, and liver update

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If you’ve been following me for a while, you know that it’s been about a year since I’ve actively been trying to solve my stomach and clear my acne naturally. I’ve had them all my life, to some extent, but I had a blessed reprieve while pregnant back-to-back with my children from 2009-2011. Both issues resurfaced 2 years ago. Last January, I did the 30 day macrobiotic cleanse complete with probiotic superfood supplements. That did not work, unfortunately. Then I went to a naturopath who discovered that the issue was most likely my liver (and that my gut has become very averse to probiotics, which is why I reacted poorly to the probiotic-based cleanse). I then did a Paleo-ish cleanse for two weeks, followed by a liver detox. I felt good for about a week after that.

After about a month, the acne came back FULL FORCE.

In fact, my face is pretty flared up right now. I have had to switch back to the less-eco-friendly makeup options to cover up the severity of the breakouts. Honestly, I am kind of at the end of my rope here. I do NOT trust conventional Western medicine after that supposedly holistic doctor tried to give me an extremely harsh blood pressure medicine while telling me it was perfectly safe to use for acne. But I feel like I’ve also kind of exhausted the holistic options. Chiropractic, reflexology, essential oils, naturopathic treatment…?

I had to quit the probiotic supplementation because it was making me sick again, just like before. I took probiotic supplements for 2 months, which should have been more than enough time for the “detox effect” to subside. I actually got sicker and sicker the longer I took them.

On the bright side, my digestion hasn’t been too bad overall. Eating fast food twice on our trip home from Thanksgiving made me sick for about 2 days, but I think that’s probably to be expected. Since my two cleanses this year, I have been eating even more cleanly than ever, and any kind of change back to the Standard American Diet throws my body for a loop. But the acne is seriously OUT OF CONTROL. The Board & Batten Begin Again that I recommended in my Holiday Gift Guide has actually been very helpful in restoring some balance because it helps the damage heal faster and when I use it as a mask it restores moisture.

If you have any random suggestions, please throw them at me! And yes, I do oil pulling every day. I am taking Maca (which seems to help my skin, weirdly enough?) and I am taking a supplement recommended by my naturopath for my liver.

Liver detox by going semi-Paleo

Going semi-Paleo

I am excited to say that we are getting somewhere with the naturopath treatments for my stomach and skin. As I mentioned before, the issue seems to primarily be my liver, which has been treated holistically for a little over a month now. There have been flare-ups where I had very little energy and severe breakouts, but I’ve been feeling very normal for the past few weeks and had my third appointment yesterday. My liver readings are much better! In order to flush out possible gallbladder blockages remaining, I am going to do a 2 week liver detox cleanse.

All kinds of fun bodily things will happen at the end of the cleanse — it’s not called a “cleanse” for nothing! But we will ignore that and focus on the middle. I have been told to go off of dairy, all grains, and all sugar again, very similar to when I did my 30 day macrobiotic cleanse. The good thing about this one is that I can have fruit. I love fruit!

The biggest deal to me with this 2 week cleanse is that I am seriously considering the possibility that I might go back to eating meat for that time period.

It’s a big deal because I have been vegetarian since 2003. However, in the last year since learning of my son’s difficulties absorbing nutrients I have had to learn to cook more meat because he can get a lot of proteins through organic meats that he wasn’t able to absorb properly through soy, nuts, or beans. I’ve already written about what an adjustment it’s been to learn to cook meat, but I’m feeling slightly more comfortable with it now.

The fact is, I was “hangry” a good deal of the time when I was on my macrobiotic diet. With this liver cleanse, I will be drinking hemp protein several times a day, so that should help. Still, I think that without grains and dairy I am going to get the queasy feeling I had throughout those entire 30 days because my stomach never felt truly full. I am thinking maybe adding white meat to my diet will help with that.

I do still have moral qualms about meat, since we don’t have easy access to truly ethically treated chicken and pork. We have Whole Foods, but…I think we all know that’s probably the bare minimum of animal treatment accountability aside from the conventional grocery store. I probably just need to suck it up and drive the hour or so and pay half our paycheck for some happy chickens and pigs. I am sure I’ll blog more about that later.

As for now, I think I’ll be starting the cleanse on September 28, which should give me time to do some Paleo-ish meal planning.

Send me your favorite Paleo recipes, cookbooks, and products!

Packing with food intolerances

Packing for kids with food intolerances | Conscientious Confusion

Even though we are light years away from where we started on our journey with our naturopath for my son’s food intolerances, his body continues to attack certain foods and have trouble absorbing the nutrients from common foods. We’ve also had to do a lot of travel recently, and often spontaneously. I think this is the third time in two months that I’ve packed all our gear with less than a day’s notice. That sounds like a lot of time, but not when you consider that I wasn’t able to stop any of our previous social engagements/school/playgroups.

So, because I was packing again when I wrote this, here’s a list of the things we typically bring for our dairy free, gluten free boy:

  • shelf stable coconut milk or almond milk
  • gluten free snacks
  • dried fruit
  • squeezy food like these or these  (affiliate links & I know disposable is bad but we are looking to have to refrigerate as little as possible and if we use our Squooshi pouches, we have to refrigerate them)
  • peanuts
  • our homemade low-gluten bread (I use our wheat bread recipe but substitute part gluten-free flour)
  • probiotics (we all use these – affiliate link)
  • digestive enzymes (he uses these and I use these – both affiliate links)
  • cultured coconut milk yogurt (example here)
  • liquid vitamins, since he doesn’t absorb nutrients from the chewables (we use this one – affiliate link)

Aside from clothes and bathroom essentials, these are the things I throw into bags and insulated coolers when we travel. Piece of cake, right? (um, wait, we can’t really have cake regularly…)

How do you pack healthy easy snacks for your allergic or food intolerant family members?

2014 To Do List

I don’t do resolutions. I intend to live every day making conscious choices, so whatever I am doing, I have thought about it and already decided to do it or not do it. That is a lifestyle, not a one-time resolve that is going to fade by February.

2014 To Do List | Conscientious Confusion

2014 To Do list

1. Go to the dentist.

Seriously, I need to do this. It was on last year’s list and I never made it. I’m now a little over 3 years since my last visit. My teeth aren’t as white as I’d like them to be. The barrier is that we don’t have dental insurance so I’m going to be buying a Groupon, and I have to find a place that has availability during the hours that my kids are in preschool. It can be done, it just takes lots of calling ahead before buying.

2. Fix the paint in the half bath downstairs.

It’s embarrassing that we paid thousands of dollars for a painter who did stuff like this 2 years ago when we moved in:

bad paint job

I’ve located the paint and I should be able to fix this at some point.

3. Eliminate the part time jobs that do not generate income.

I have a bunch of part time jobs right now, some of which don’t actually pay and some that only pay sometimes (classes based on attendance, for example). I am wasting my energy and taking time away from my kids pointlessly if I am not getting paid. I will not say “yes” to things that do not compensate, and I will attempt to eliminate anything that is currently not profitable. I have a few commitments that I need to see through before this can be completely accomplished, so it might take the better part of the year to do.

4. Try to blog at least 3 times a week.

This year’s NaBloPoMo was much less painful than last year’s. I think I am more comfortable in my blogging niche now than I have been in the past. I have gained a lot of readers and THANK YOU! If I make a priority to blog immediately about the things that are on my mind I tend to a) blog more often and b) produce higher quality content. The barrier is being able to sit down and blog. I’ve tried to blog on the iPad, making it a more portable endeavor, but then I can’t access my pictures from iPhoto, since they are not accessible from outside our home WiFi. When I try to use the “real” computer at home, there are 1 million distractions and I can only get to that computer a few times a week. I’d love to blog while my kids are in preschool but they only go twice a week and one day is completely allocated to kids yoga all week and the other day is my errand day. Need to figure this out.

5. Address my health issues.

I blogged about my 30 days of Macrobiotic Eating here. It is an attempt to clear up my skin and help with my digestive issues. If that does not work to entirely clear things up, I am planning to go back to our naturopath. I tried Western medicine this past year and it was a horrible failure, so on to other things.

6. Keep up or even expand my personal yoga practice.

I have loved getting back into yoga and teaching children. In order to teach, however, we must learn and grow. I cannot teach what I am not learning, myself. So it is important for me to continue my own practice, either at home or at a studio.

It’s a short list this year, but I might add to it as we go along. These last few weeks with the kids at home and all the family here all the time have left me with little to no reflection time, so this list was put together hastily. I hope to reflect more fully on my 2014 intentions and add to this list within the next week.

What are your To Do’s for 2014?

2014 Macrobiotic Diet for 30 days: Ely Organics Miessence cleanse

NOTE: The Miessence products I’ll use in my cleanse were given to me by my friend Erin Ely of Ely Organics. She is running an awesome promotion right now on these products and I’d love if you’d take a look because I appreciate everything she’s doing to help me solve my health issues!

30 Days of Macrobiotic Eating | Conscientious Confusion

I’m not going to lie, I’m dreading January a little bit this year.

There are two things that I do not do:  New Year’s Resolutions and diets. I make a to do list each year. And I just eat well.

But there’s this issue with my digestive system and my skin, which I believe are connected. And I refuse to take ridiculously dangerous blood pressure medicine or the lifetime of low-dose antibiotics the dermatologist recommended.

So far, I’ve had limited success with supplements, essential oils, and reflexology at precise times in my monthly cycle. However, it’s probably time to bring the probiotics back in and do a little “reset” of what’s inside my gut.

I’ve talked before about the thought of doing a cleanse. I could never really convince myself to do it. But with the help of my friend Erin from Ely Organics, I’ve decided to commit to a regimen of specifically targeted organic superfoods and a macrobiotic diet geared to help bring my body back into balance from the inside. I’ll be doing this for approximately 30 days, (or until I fall off the wagon).

What is a macrobiotic diet?

According to Wikipedia:

A macrobiotic diet (or macrobiotics), is a dietary regimen which involves eating grains as a staple food, supplemented with other foods such as local vegetables, and avoiding the use of highly processed or refined foods and most animal products. Macrobiotics also addresses manner of eating, by recommending against overeating, and for chewing thoroughly.

More specifically, the percentages of foods are as follows, according to WikiHow:

  • 50% grains
  • 25% in-season vegetables
  • 10% protein
  • 5% soups
  • 5% sea vegetables
  • 5% nuts and fruits

How is this different from how I already eat?

Honestly, it’s not that much different from how I eat currently.

I found a chart on Hubpages describing a step-by-step process of transitioning to a macrobiotic diet:

Steps to a macrobiotic diet from http://emmamedu.hubpages.com/hub/How-to-Start-Macrobiotic-Diet-Step-by-Step

According to this chart, I already eat Step 6. I actually don’t use that much soy presently, because I am very aware that most soy is genetically modified (GMO). I like to avoid that. I actually do more beans and nuts than soy. But for the next 30 days, I can make a concerted effort to obtain only non-GMO soy products. It’s a little more expensive, but do-able short term.

What will I need to change to go fully macrobiotic?

Eliminating sugar/fruit. I don’t currently consume much refined sugar, but I do eat a lot of (organic) fruit, honey, and maple syrup or products containing those things. Apparently you can consumer brown rice syrup for sweetness, but it is strongly discouraged. One thing that I am very worried about is coconut milk. I do consume quite a few coconut products, and coconut milk in cartons does contain cane syrup (sugar). The idea is that I should be replacing my fruit and sweet consumption with green vegetables. I am not sure how this is going to go.

Eating slowly. Hahahahaha!! Whoever invented this diet did not have two preschoolers or live in Dallas, Texas. Yes, let me wait to chew 50 times before I tell my son to stop flinging water at my daughter at the table. And it’s super fun to listen to her screech for 5 minutes straight because she wants a napkin but I’m still chewing. In the time it takes to chew 50 times, my children can collectively ask 500 questions. Or the same question 500 times. Either way, it’s possible that I’ll go insane. I am seriously considering the possibility that I might only be able to eat when my children are asleep. Which, unfortunately, kinda makes the macrobiotic principle of “eat when you need food” impossible. Because if I need food and they’re awake, I can’t eat slowly.

No snacks on the go. In the macrobiotic diet, there are no “allowed” foods that can be carried in my purse or eaten on the go. I eat about 3 snacks a day right now because I am constantly hungry. I am not sure how this is going to work. Do I just ignore the fact that I’m hungry because I can’t cook some rice with seaweed and eat it slowly? I’m a little stumped on this one. I’m considering rice crackers, tahini, and dried nori. Right now I carry around mixed nuts and dried edamame but there is oil used in the roasting process that isn’t OK according to the macrobiotic diet.

Adding Miessence certified organic superfoods

To make up for gaps in nutrition and protein, and to help rebuild positive flora in my gut, I’ll be using the following Miessence certified organic superfoods.

Fast Tract: Gluten-free certified organic probiotic liquid. To re-colonize the gastrointestinal tract with the full spectrum of Lactobacillus (friendly) bacteria.
Usage: I was instructed to drink one 750mL bottle per week, which is around 3.6 oz per day.

InLiven: probiotic powder (dormant organisms until hydrated & activated). In-Liven certified organic probiotic is the result of over 20 years research and development. The bacteria are produced from fruits and vegetables and not fast-tracked from fecal matter. Contains significant enzymes, vital amino acids and a broad spectrum of essential nutrients (including plant proteins).
Usage: 3 teaspoons InLiven every day, total – take 1 teaspoon 30 minutes before a meal. Can be blended into a drink with 2 c. apple juice and strawberries, no banana.

Topical: Make a poultice using Fast Tract powder and InLiven liquid and apply to the face.

I’ll also be using Miessence skin care, and will do another post about that.