A Month of Wellness - Week 1
Updated: Jan 11
As I mentioned before, this challenge is not for the faint of heart. This is a demanding challenge, that, if followed, could help build a foundation for a better and healthier lifestyle. The building blocks and healthy habits that I have included are from my own personal research and were recommended by articles, blogs, and studies conducted by Doctors, scientists, nutritionists, trainers, and dietitians. The research and studies included have had positive results and feedback from thousands of people, and have personally worked for me and my family. I hope they will work for you also.
As a woman with autoimmune disease, dairy was the first thing I had to remove. Gluten and refined sugars were quick to follow. I now follow a complete Autoimmune protocol (AIP) diet and my Antinuclear antibodies (ANA) are completely under control. I have discovered what my sensitivities are and surprisingly there were quite a few things on the AIP list that I had no adverse reaction to. As long as I follow the restrictions of my diet, I am asymptomatic and feel fantastic. That is all I challenge you to- try to follow the challenge and remember to pay attention to how you feel as you begin to eliminate things off of the list. Everyone has to take this challenge at their own pace- no two bodies are the same. And remember- THIS IS NOT A DIET! Our goal here is WELLNESS- physically AND mentally.
As scary or impossible as it may seem, removing dairy, gluten, and sugar is a very obtainable goal. Dairy alternatives are readily available and as a product that is naturally higher in fat and calories, many people find that eliminating dairy actually helps them lose weight. Again- weight loss is NOT the goal of this challenge, however, it is a side effect that often comes with making healthier choices and building better habits.
Here are some fun facts about dairy that many people don't know.
EGGS ARE NOT DAIRY! I can not tell you how many times I have been asked that question. Dairy is limited to products that come from the milk of a cow, goat, sheep, or any other member of the Mammalia family. There are many diets that exclude eggs, one of which being the Vegan lifestyle- which happens to also exclude dairy from the menu. I believe that is where the confusion comes from. Dairy is not limited to milk, cheese, yogurt, and butter. It is found in MOST packaged potatoes, frozen meals, frozen foods (chicken tenders), boxed dinners, and canned soups. Check labels- there is usually a disclaimer under ingredients that will say "Contains wheat, contains milk, etc".
Educate yourself. Cook with coconut/ olive/ avocado oil or margarine that is made with either olive oil or avocado oil. There are plenty of Vegan options at most grocery stores, however, pay attention to ingredients as most of them are made with cashews and cannot be consumed by those with nut allergies. There are so many meal options- one of my favorites is Steak, a Baked potato, and steamed broccoli, or salmon with white rice and fresh blistered green beans. As long as you are using the non-dairy "butter" to cook everything, you are golden! Also- asian restaurants are usually places that you have LOTS of food options, as most of them cook with coconut milk instead of cows milk and use sesame and olive oils instead of butter. They also offer rice based product, which is a great alternative to gluten. Just make sure you ask!
Gluten free options are also readily available this day and age. You can find plenty of tortillas, breads, and pastas that are certified gluten free- just make sure they are dairy free also. There are PLENTY of cooking options that will leave you feeling fufilled without breaking your diet. My favorite is gluten free spaghetti ( I use rice pasta), lean ground meat (i use venison), and marinara/ tomato sauce that has no added refined sugars (i make my own and sub local honey).
Sugar free, is actually a little bit harder than it sounds. There are added refined or artificial sweeteners in EVERYTHING. But, make as much of an effort as you can. My go-to sweetener is honey - make sure it is local honey. Local honey means it is made by bees that are local to you. Those bee's are gathering the pollen and nectar from flowers and plants that your body is exposed to every day. This can help your body to create antibodies and help calm allergies caused by your environment. Manuka honey is a great option also- you can read all about it here. Other sugar alternatives can be found by following the link.
Eliminating Soda is definitely a challenge for those of us who are used to having an ice cold coke with our dinner. Sugar free soda water, sugar free teas, and natural juices are a much better alternative. Diet soda is an option, but according to thousands of studies, is believed to be just as bad for you. You can make your own decision and do your own research on this topic, however, eliminating sugar is first and foremost.
Lastly, I always want to reminding everyone that I am not a Doctor. Please remember this. All of my opinions are based on my own personal research of studies conducted by professionals. And, per the usual, remember to always consult with your primary care physician.*
I hope to see many of you choosing this challenge and very much hope to get feedback from those of you who do! If you ever have questions- always feel free to reach out! firstname.lastname@example.org
*This challenge may not be suitable for those with any previous medical history of mental or physical health disease and/or disorders. Please consult with your primary care physician.