On Consistency + Self Care

“It’s been a while since I’ve posted.” Have you read that one before on here? I always feel so guilty when it’s months between posts but I’m often not sure what to write about. Everyone makes dinner, works hard, is balancing a million things. Instagram, if anything, has turned into my little scrapbook. A much easier (and lazier) way of sharing than actually taking the time to sit down, focus, and write.

A blog is such a strange medium when the intent isn’t for it to be a full time gig. The last thing I want to do is produce content for the sake of content. Over the last few weeks I’ve revisited old posts to get a sense of theme and purpose. Also, to get motivated to write and develop more. In a lot of my writing, specifically around this season, two main themes emerge: self-care and consistency.

Self care, especially as a new mom, is critical. I would argue, even more so when you’re working full time. When I was pregnant with Ben, I wrote about slowing down and making time for my pregnancy. Now that I’m a mother, I realize that I need to slow down and make time for me. Time for myself outside of Ben, outside of being a wife, outside of work. I’m sure it sounds selfish to some but I’m learning that without self fulfillment and alone time, there is no quality time with the baby. Almost eight months into motherhood, it makes sense to revisit the conversation.

me and ben.jpg

As a full-time working mama, it’s super easy to slide into a bizarre routine of taking care of everything and everyone except yourself. I say “bizarre” very intentionally. When you take a minute to really think it through - making yourself your own last priority is insane. This is not to say that baby doesn’t come first. Not at all. I’m just learning that I don’t need to come last. It’s so easy to fall into coasting on old and unhealthy behavior. After all, it’s what comes most naturally. For me, that’s keeping busy with a million little things that I insist “have to get done right now!”. Then the big things get all muddled and all over the place. With all that, time to recharge rarely enters the equation. Clearly, not a sustainable solution. This is all to say, it hit me like a ton of bricks that making time for myself is a “to-do” as worthy as vacuuming and doing dishes.

When I first returned to work, a friend told me that I will very quickly fall into a rhythm of “burning the candle at both ends”. This is dangerous territory. Another mentioned how every working mother hits a point in the first six months where she will, “feel like she’s absolutely shit at both - work and motherhood". I’ve found each of these statements to be one hundred percent true. Work is full time and motherhood is full time. Instead of fully focusing on playing with Ben, I am thinking about the next ten things that need to be cleaned or finished. The day to day feels like a hamster wheel. I am so burned out. Again. Time for a full stop.

So, this is where consistency comes in. Resolving to practice the things I’ve written about. Consistency around making time for things outside of to-do lists. Prioritizing and actually carving out time for things I want to do. Summed up, all recharging means making time for just me. Nothing else.

In my next post, my resolutions, made before the New Year because that’s just a date. The holiday break is just a few days away. What better time than that to deep dive into some reflection and self care?

i sat down to write this and drank a latte by myself last week. felt like freaking champ.

i sat down to write this and drank a latte by myself last week. felt like freaking champ.

New Year, Food Resolutions

I make New Year's resolutions every single year. I always buy a fresh planner and on the first page scribble down my goals and plans for the year. I am excited by the idea of change and my resolutions for the first few weeks become the focus of my life. Unfortunately and without fail, by mid-February they fly out of my head. I get busy, stressed, distracted, you name it. Resolutions were meant to be broken. This year, I've decided to make a big change in how I put together my yearly plan for habit shifts. Instead of writing down general goals I'm fleshing them out, one by one, on this site. I want to be accountable in both my actions and my writing.

Full disclosure: I'm not really on the vegan/gluten-free/cooking-only-with-vegetables/organic -everything train. Shocker, I know. I cook based on a sliding scale of healthy and predominantly focus on what's most affordable. I've never really stopped to read labels or check how many additives are in my marinara sauce or frozen waffles. My approach to food is what I would consider totally average. If nothing else, I am an emotional eater and cook. Bad mood means meatballs and pasta. Great mood means chia seed pudding for breakfast, apples and carrots for a snack, and then lasagna for dinner. On a bad day I'm Nigella Lawson, sneaking to the fridge before bedtime for a scrumptious snack. A good day looks a bit more like Ina Garten with nice olive oil and cheese assortments. Oh, I also stress eat fruit. I'll reach for four nectarines over a chocolate bar any day of the week but the sugar content is off the charts either way.

Last month, however, my mentality totally shifted. It honestly felt like it happened overnight. I've been between jobs, spending a full month at home feeling a bit depressed, not particularly motivated, and eating all the pasta. Guess what happened next? I gained weight, felt sluggish, and even more depressed. So, I decided that when we got back from the holidays I would change the way I eat,  starting with the elimination of as much sugar, dairy, and processed foods as possible. Not because I feel sad for the cows (animal cruelty is an important issue, but this is not a politically driven post) and not because I think the sugar industry is evil (even though, guys, I think it might be). I am cutting back on these items because when I drink too much milk and put mozzarella on my salad, my stomach hurts. Sugar makes me cranky and forces my stretchy pants to become even stretchier. Also, the more I read about additives in foods the less I have faith that my future babies won't come out with four eyes.

This doesn't mean the mission statement of With a Grain of Salt is changing. I'm not going to start promoting all organic, all gluten-free, all anything. I firmly believe that - to a certain degree-  your budget should not affect the kind of food you are able to cook. There is a huge problem with food deserts and lack of fresh ingredients in many communities but this blog does not make it's purpose to address those issues. I want to be more accountable in the kind of recipes and food I promote on this page while sticking to the original mission statement.

Discussion, recipes, and tips about a realistic approach to living a healthy, sustainable life on a budget of money and time.

All of this is to say that I am making a conscious choice to pay better attention to what I'm putting into my body. I wasn't unhealthy before - my diet has always included plenty of fruits and vegetables- but I want to be even better. Call it a New Year's resolution, if you will. I prefer thinking of it as a logical step in the process of becoming a healthier and stronger woman.

pro/prebiotics without the pretty penny

http://www.optibacprobiotics.co.uk/blog/2014/04/probiotics-vs-antibiotics-wrong-question.html   

http://www.optibacprobiotics.co.uk/blog/2014/04/probiotics-vs-antibiotics-wrong-question.html

 

 

I never thought I would be led astray by a doctor named Muffy. 

Unfortunately, the last month has found me fighting the debilitating consequences of being misprescribed and not properly warned of the effects of a medicine called Clindamycin. An antiparasitic, usually prescribed for people with very serious parasitic infections, I was given this as treatment for a very normal and natural bacterial overgrowth. After taking the pills for almost the full dose I started feeling intense stomach cramping, dizziness, and nausea. I couldn't hold down small bites of bland, solid food or water for almost 16 days. Lots of research led me to discover that taking Clindamycin is effectively akin to staging a full blown nuclear attack on the flora and natural ecosystem of your digestive tract. To put it simply, the good bacteria is wiped out and the (very resistant) bad bacteria gets free reign. In many cases, it can lead to very serious lifelong diseases such as colitis. Thanks, Muffy.

A thorough consultation with a gastroenterologist is what helped me discover the benefits of probiotics and prebiotics. These bacteria naturally occur in our digestive tracts and are what help our systems function properly. The latter, prebiotics,  are the "foods" that feed and encourage the good bacteria, probiotics, in our intestinal tracts. (Check out handy article that I used to learn more about probiotic bacteria here.)

In order to get my digestive system into a pre-poisoned state I was told to consume as many of these good GI bacteria as I could get my hands on. No less than 2000 live strains at least two times a day.

A trip to the natural foods store quickly opened my eyes to how expensive this supremely healthy bacteria can be. A pack of four pills can go for as much as $50 - not at all realistic for my budget! Thus, I started doing research on probiotic rich foods that I could use to supplement what I couldn't afford to give my body in pill form.

I hope the following lists help anyone else who finds themselves in such a predicament.. 

Probiotic Rich Foods

  • Kefir : a fermented dairy/water based beverage, the most powerful and direct way to consume probiotic organisms.
  • Stoneyfield Yogurt I found this is the best as it has a great selection of flavors, no hormones, often on sale, and has 3 live strains of bacteria.
  • Miso : fermented soy beans made into a paste, delicious in broth or stir-fry
  • Tempeh : also a product of fermented soybeans, great in stir-fry.
  • Oatmeal : just add butter!
  • Kombucha : over 50 strains of bacteria in this delicious beverage.

Prebiotic Rich Foods

  • Carrots : especially fresh carrot juice does amazing things for the stomach lining.
  • Leeks : raw or lightly sautéed with olive oil. 
  • Banana : incredible benefits for the lining of the stomach and in prebiotic content. 
  • Brussels Sprout : lightly sauteed or roasted in the oven for 15 min at 400F.
  • Beans : soy, pinto, kidney.
  • Asparagus : raw or lightly sautéed.
  • Honey : Love it on my oatmeal and toast BUT I believe it is best consumed in stick form. Tons of flavors in bulk available here!

 

P.S. The very serious diet I have had to adhere to over the last month has meant few allowed foods and lots of experimentation. Kefir, not surprisingly, has been one of the most used items in my kitchen. I've put it over granola, mixed it with fruit, and added it to my buckwheat to try and "spice" things up. Later this week I will post a recipe for a fantastic cold Russian soup whose base is Kefir that is quick, easy,  inexpensive, full of nutrients, and incredibly delicious. Stay tuned!