The Most Selfish Profession

Natalie-15

In the onslaught of recent events, nurses have endured a wide variety of reactions. While nurses have been getting a lot of criticism in the media and press, we’ve also experienced an overwhelming amount of support from others inside and outside the profession. Enjoy this bit of satire to lighten the mood and thank all those nurses who take the selfless route every time and make us proud. It’s not easy, although some might say it is. #nursesfornina

Ask anyone and they would identify nursing as the most selfish and lazy profession. As nurses, we often neglect our duties for hours, play on the Internet, and essentially waste as much time on the clock as possible. We linger around the water cooler, making up gossip about various coworkers and management, lacking any kind of impetus to do real work. We glance back at our patients from time to time but there’s really no rush, right? They can manage on their own in a prone bed on an oscillator ventilator in a sedation coma. We take bathroom breaks with regular frequency, go out to eat for lunch (and stretch out the hour into two), and leave early on Fridays if we want. In reality, we don’t take our job too seriously.

There’s no sense of urgency or immediacy. It’s essentially the most-stress free job you could have. You don’t need to pay close attention as you complete an assessment or titrate a pressor. The arterial line probably isn’t reading correctly anyway. Just recycle that manual BP of 55/32. That acute change in mental status? Most likely he just didn’t get enough sleep last night. You say you’re allergic to this type of antibiotic? I’m sure you’ll be fine, take some deep breaths. You can rationalize almost any finding. The alarms are so considerate and only go off when there’s a true emergency, not every two seconds, waking my finally-sleeping patient. In fact, if you silence the alarm quickly, it’s like that short run of V-Tach never even happened.

You’ll never get caught up in a frustrating debacle for a simple miscalculation on a narcotic flowsheet that happened three shifts before you got to the patient. It was an honest mistake and I’m sure they will eventually figure out who didn’t do their math correctly or how the computer malfunctioned. It’s not like your career is at stake or anything. It’s almost impossible to get fired from a nursing job.

We lack true responsibilities and act accordingly. We sleep in past the alarm, roll out of bed and into work whenever we feel like it, definitely never at the crack of dawn or for an entire night shift.  We take the words “on call” very nonchalantly and drink away the night at a bar, shrugging off the possibility that we might have to go into work. It’s really not that important that I stay clear-headed for my job. We would never sacrifice a day off to come in to help the unit when we’re short staffed. We don’t stay late or come in early for a fellow coworker who wants to see her daughter off to her first prom. In short, it’s my time and I’ll keep it that way.

I flippantly observe my agitated, helpless patients and shrug at them with an unconcerned look that simply says, “good luck.” I passively carry out physician orders, ignoring words like “stat” or “asap” or “critical.” I never move at more than a snail’s pace. I blindly follow the orders I receive rather than questioning the first year resident’s decisions. I don’t ask questions or advocate for my patient but follow the relaxed approach, letting fate take its course. I’ve never reminded a physician to put my restraints back on my agitated vented patient. That would be too much effort.

We absolutely never take risks. We avoid the places that no one wants to go. We would never sacrifice our own health and wellbeing for someone we don’t even know, especially with the possibility of contracting a life-threatening illness. If someone coughs on me, I’m out the door, never to return. You’re on your own. We’re always treated by others with respect and are the last to be blamed in a controversial incident. I’ve never heard a nasty nurse joke or a colorless pun about my job. I sleep well at night knowing all of this.

I’ve never wanted to shout profanity at the person from the lab. Pause. I’ve never wanted to shout profanity at the person from the lab.

I have never met an unkind family member. Even those who are feverishly scribbling down my every move are gracious and appreciative. They would never threaten me or shout at me or tell me I’m incompetent as I run myself ragged trying to save their family member’s life. They always understand the reasons why I do the things I do and hardly ever bring up some ridiculous google article and force me to read it at the bedside. In fact, I absolutely love the fact that WebMD lists cancer and stroke as a symptom for every common ailment. It makes my life so much easier. Each family brings me cookies and flowers and commends me to the CEO of the hospital as the best nurse who has ever worked at the bedside.

I’m affirmed daily, well-rested, and carry an extremely low amount of stress. I’m essentially getting paid to be awesome at watching a monitor. Don’t be fooled, this job is cush and I get paid WAY beyond what I deserve. I don’t understand anyone who says this job is hard.

Now to anyone who has ever been a nurse, known a nurse, worked with a nurse, been related to a nurse, etc- you know all of this is a satirical spin on nursing life that is mostly untrue, (while I still encourage nurses to take excellent care of their patients and not make narcotic errors). And that’s why it’s funny. If you’re a nurse, you understand many of these misconceptions and can relate to the frequent frustrations with a sense of humor.

As nurses, we work tirelessly day after day enduring long shifts, little to no time for breaks, and thankless patients. I’ve had to go to the bathroom for hours but held it as we went to STAT CT or did one bedside procedure after another. I’ve had patients spit, slap, push, curse, vomit on and berate me. I’ve had to call the police on several family members for getting too aggressive in the ICU. I work weekends and holidays despite the fact that I would love to be with my own family. I endure the monotony of first year residents with a smile on my face, trying to help them not kill anyone. There are many, many frustrating aspects of nursing but if all the bad outweighed the good, then why would we do it?

Because of supportive coworkers. Because of kind families who really do bring cookies. Because of the satisfaction of seeing the patient who was on his death bed walk back in the door months later. Because, despite the satire, it is a great job to have if you want a family and flexibility. Because we have a unique opportunity to permanently impact someone else’s life. Because we signed up for a level of selflessness that proves to be extremely rewarding. Because of a million more reasons that make the job worth it.

Our commitment and fortitude has been put to the test lately and we’ve come out stronger than before, sticking up for each other and advocating for ourselves. It makes me proud of this profession, and it should make you proud too. #supportthescrubs

Why do you love being a nurse? Why do you continue to sacrifice for the patients and families? Why should we be proud of our profession?

A Nurse’s Thoughts on the Ebola Crisis

Natalie-8

I don’t think anyone will dispute the fact that the Ebola epidemic has become a global crisis. With throngs of people dying in West Africa everyday with horrific symptoms, the virus spreading across borders and oceans, and a widespread underlying feeling of panic, this nightmare of a disease has come to life in the daylight.

With many recent, widely-popular films and TV shows like World War Z and The Walking Dead, we imagined the thought of a worldwide plague simply as a thrilling, and generally unrealistic, fantasy (excluding the true fact that zombies don’t exist, despite what some fans might say). We indulged in escapist entertainment without concern because those people on the screen are only actors and, in our minds, a worldwide pandemic isn’t possible to such a degree in our modern world. While entertainment isn’t inherently bad, we’ve insulated ourselves in this instance from believing that our media mimics reality.

With our digestion in recent years of media disillusionment, we’ve finally had a wake-up call and the Ebola virus epidemic has provoked a variety of reactions from general unease to sheer panic and terror. In our house, we’ve responded with humor, not out of a calloused lack of sympathy, but as a way to diffuse my own fears. We watched the entire first episode of this season of Homeland trying to identify all the times someone could’ve contracted Ebola from Carrie, the main character. We had soup the other night and I got several versions of “Ebola what?” (a bowl of what?) from my husband. Yet despite the lightening effect of humor, I’ve found myself struggling over my opinions and emotions because I see the virus from several various perspectives.

As a human, or global citizen if you want to use that term, I grieve for the people of the affected areas of Africa with my whole heart. Having watched a substantial amount of media coverage from the West African infected locations, it pains me immensely to see such suffering and death. No matter who you are, seeing such a deplorable disease ravage innocent people and result in such catastrophic demise is not only unnerving but appalling. It strikes our innate human core of compassion and invokes a feeling of solidarity with those who share our species, despite their location in the world. Those people, those children, didn’t ask for Ebola. They didn’t sign up to die this way, yet disease is a part of a broken world and tragedy befalls all of us at some point, in some way. This same feeling of human congruency is why people donate money to the Red Cross or volunteer to help during disasters or pray for people they will never meet. It sparks a basic human concern and people respond in a variety of degrees. And I don’t think we should ignore those tinges of compassion but give money, provide support, and pray for those countries and people. Because is my life any more valuable than those who have died in Africa? Absolutely not. We have to stick together globally on this.

As a human, I’m so proud of the healthcare and aid workers who journeyed into those countries, fully aware of the high likelihood of contracting the disease. They took that innate sense of compassion and translated it into action and some of them nearly lost their lives for it. I’m not saying that everyone needs to buy hazmat suits and jump on a plane to the infected countries (actually unless you work for the CDC, please don’t do that!). But I want to point out the fact that those workers who chose that route did so for the betterment of humanity, along with various other personal reasons. How often in our modern day and age do people do things for the betterment of humanity at large? While selflessness has not gone completely dormant in our modern day, my opinion is that this type of sacrifice is truly rare. For one person to sacrifice their life for another, especially a person they’ve never met and who cannot offer them anything in return, is truly marvelous. It is a testament to the reality that glimpses of redemption still exist in a dying world.

As a nurse, I’m also so proud of the healthcare professionals here in the US who have volunteered to care for the infected patients. With the same sacrificial and altruistic motivations, they willingly put on a gown, booties, gloves, hat, mask, and goggles in the proper order countless times a day in order to help save the life of a person they’ve never met, with the acknowledged risks being high. While we have more control over the hospital environment, better equipment and medications, and less of a threat of contracting the disease, the same questions would cross your mind if someone asked you to walk into that room and clean up that patient’s vomit. Even if everyone in the world told me that I had NO chance of contracting Ebola using proper precautions, it would cause me to think twice. Yet those doctors, nurses, and other hospital workers set aside their own concern for self and are giving those patients the best care they can because that’s what healthcare professionals do: care for the needy. I’m proud to be a part of such a group of people with empathy that expands beyond professional obligation to true humanitarian concern along with a unique brand of courage and bravery.

As a nurse, I will admit a fear of being exposed to an infected patient, especially since the disease popped up in my own backyard of Dallas, Texas. But the reality is that people walk in the door everyday and we have no idea what deleterious organisms they are harboring, what active TB they are coughing on us, or what set of symptoms will quickly prove to be the flu. We take that chance everyday, recognizing that the nature of our profession puts us at a higher risk for contracting a communicable disease. But does that stop me from coming to work? No. Does it cause me to use proper hand hygiene often? Most definitely yes. I can’t fret over those risks a millions of times a day because it would prevent me from being able to do my job.

As an expectant mom, I find myself experiencing a whole other layer of complicated emotions in this conundrum and I won’t deny an elevated level of fear. If it was just me, I wouldn’t be as concerned for myself, realizing that my adult body or my husband’s body has the ability to fight off infection should I contract the disease. However, with this tiny baby in my belly, moving and kicking and taking all my calories, I’ve found myself starkly more protective. It’s not just me anymore. There’s a dependent little person relying on me to care for it- and I will at all costs. Even though I’ve never met this baby, have no idea what it’s face will look like, and haven’t picked out it’s name yet, I will adamantly and even desperately do everything I can to keep this baby healthy and alive. And it makes me more hesitant than I would normally be about this type of threat.

But the bottom line of all these emotions, opinions, and arguments is that we can’t ultimately control the outcomes. Hear me out. We can use proper precautions; we can quarantine those exposed to infected victims; we can send every capable healthcare worker to West Africa armed with hazmat suits but at the end of the day, life is unpredictable. It just takes one person to slip through the cracks and the epidemic starts all over again. I don’t say this to discourage you but actually to provide a perspective that has proved helpful to me. If we assume we have complete control of every aspect, we are foolish and arrogant. Ask anyone who has ever been in an unexpected car wreck and they will tell you they didn’t intend to get in an accident that day. Life is unpredictable and many times that proves exciting for us. Anything is possible; tomorrow is a new day; Life is a box of chocolate and you never know what you’re going to get. If life was strictly an algorithm with reliable outcomes, we would be insanely bored. We weren’t wired to function that way. On the other hand, sometimes life is unpredictable in a harmful way with tragedy and loss inherent to human existence. We happen to find ourselves on the scary side of the coin in this particular predicament.

As much as I fear for the life of my unborn child or my husband’s life or my own life, I can’t become paralyzed by overwhelming fear of the unknown. That’s a debilitating thought that would prevent me from being able to go about the routines of daily life. I can acknowledge that wisdom demands that I wash my hands frequently and stay alert for any suspicious symptoms. But I can also rest in the fact that I’m not in control of the world but God (in my Christian worldview) controls the fate of all people.

As a human, I can grieve and pray and donate funds to help get care to those in need. I can take pride in those who have sacrificed for others and try to live my own life more sacrificially in my daily routines. As a nurse I can wash my hands a million times a day and then rest in the fact that the outcome is ultimately outside my control. As a soon-to-be-mom I can pray for the health of this baby and then surrender my fears.

And I encourage you to do the same. Don’t succumb to overwhelming fear but recognize the frailty of your life and live sacrificially today. This moment is the only thing we are guaranteed.

And please, don’t forget to wash your hands.

Italian Adventures

IMG_3548

 

We’re finally back from Italy and I couldn’t help but share a few photos from the trip! In the true spirit of “when in Rome,” we ate a whole spectrum of tasty fare including some Paleo-approved and some not Paleo-approved dishes. (We can all agree that delicious dairy and sugar infused gelato is a necessary pregnancy exception). Fortunately, I’ve continued to have entirely no symptoms besides routine pregnancy ailments like fatigue, nasal congestion, and a generic lack of cooking enthusiasm. Enjoy this tiny snapshot of our baby moon vacation to Venice, Florence, and Rome!

 

IMG_3561IMG_3544

IMG_3595

P1100985P1100982

IMG_3599P1110003

P1110006

P1110024P1110027

P1110073

P1110117

P1110143IMG_3614P1110221

P1110250P1110276

IMG_3670

Pregnancy and Paleo- First Trimester

DSC_1339You might’ve noticed I haven’t been blogging, instagramming or cooking much for the past three months. Normally, I would consider this a personal failure, a deviation from many of our routines and my personal goals. But something changed over this summer, something that has completed altered everything, and I consider it the biggest blessing of our lives.

Months of nausea, extreme fatigue, sensitivity to smells, irrational emotions, and a whole host of other completely strange changes to my body would not normally be something to celebrate. My inability to cook entirely, and some days even open the fridge, has severely hindered our daily routines and left us eating out for, let’s be honest, at least two months straight now. I’ve deviated from Paleo in such drastic ways that I would’ve totally judged myself looking in from the outside as a complete hypocrite. I’ve devoured bread, ice cream, macaroni and cheese, pizza, and dirty dirty Mexican food. I went six weeks without working out completely. For several weeks, I took two naps a day on my days home from work. I’ve succumbed to a level of laziness I never before thought possible, returned halfway to a diet I never thought I would embrace again, and haven’t regretted one minute of it.

All for the sake of this little life growing inside me.

The secret is out. We’re having a baby Bridges coming in March!

We’re overjoyed at our growing family! Although the past several months have come with some new challenges, we’ve gotten to soak in the promise of a new baby and celebrate with our families as we all prepare for this little nugget’s arrival. Now it’s time to announce it to all of you and hope you’ll forgive me for my relative silence.

If you’ve never been pregnant as you read this post you might judge me for my dietary relapses. And I will let you. You can sit there with that smug, self-righteous grin on your face wallowing in your dietary superiority for as long as you would like. But know that one day you or your spouse will be pregnant and you will take it all back. That disgusted look will morph into one of empathy and understanding. You will finally relate to the primary modality of the first trimester of pregnancy: Survival.

Compared to many women, my symptoms have been moderate. Thankfully, I haven’t vomited and I don’t take that for granted considering how horrible that portion of pregnancy can be for many women. I have, however, had major food aversions (including most meats and vegetables) and many days simply hated food altogether. I was scrolling through my past Instagram feed a month ago and thought to myself, “I used to enjoy this,” with a mystified expression on my face. On top of not desiring any of my previous Paleo foods, even the idea of cooking churned my stomach.

I have craved many non-Paleo foods and at first I indulged hesitantly. I had a bite of bread or a few pretzels or a small dose of frozen yogurt and as I remained symptom-free and experienced relief from my nausea with those foods, I got more daring. Since the immune system essentially shuts down during pregnancy to allow for the growth of a foreign being in your body, many women with autoimmune disease experience little to no symptoms during pregnancy and even manage to eat previously off-limit foods without any of the usual ramifications. Fortunately for me, that is the case.

I’ve visited restaurants I never thought I would patronize ever again and commented to Seth one night as we walked into the dirty Mexican joint that I felt like we were about to rob a bank. Talk about concurrent food guilt and exhilaration. Mostly I’ve tried to stay within the realm of “healthy” when going out but the cravings were sometimes overwhelming and surprisingly intense. For example, I’ve gone to La Madeleine at least once a week and gotten tomato basil soup with a Caesar salad (a restaurant I was never particularly obsessed with before). On several occasions I have been so ravenously hungry that I ate my meal in the car in the parking lot of the restaurant, not even making it home with my to-go container. Survival.

Now don’t get me wrong: I fully intend to return to my strict Paleo diet after the baby comes. Even now at the beginning of my second trimester I’m trying to return to mostly Paleo fare. It’s been an interesting mental battle over my eating choices because ideologically, I’m still very much against refined sugar and grains. I hold fast to my conviction they are deleterious for you, especially if you have autoimmune disease. But in the midst of this tumultuous new journey I’ve gotten so desperate at times that I would pick anything that I thought I could choke down. Again, survival mode kicks in as you’re trying to focus on anything besides the fact that you want to vomit.

This summer has been full of fun changes and our life looks almost completely different from several months ago. We suffered through the arduous house buying process and finally reaped the reward by purchasing our first home! Then we completely remodeled the kitchen, giving me the most beautiful kitchen in the world (I’ll do a full blog post on that soon) that I have yet to really use with all the cooking aversion. Then in the midst of all those changes, we found out that I was pregnant! Thankfully, we have a place to house this child and a kitchen to cook all kinds of yummy organic fare for this belly nugget.

DSC_1349

 

Sneak peek photo of the new kitchen!

Despite being overwhelmed at times, feeling unprepared, and wondering how we will measure up as parents, I feel genuinely thankful. God has given us a healthy baby so far and met all of our needs. Plus, I truly believe it’s God’s grace to allow me to eat whatever I’m craving during this crazy time period. It just goes to show that you never really know what’s ahead of you. And that’s what makes life so very fun.

Now that I’m back on the cooking bandwagon, you’ll hear more of me from a blogging standpoint. Keep on the lookout for some amazing Italy photos as we leave for Europe in a few days with our little stowaway! Also, check out these two newly-released cookbooks that have already blown my mind: The Paleo Mom’s The Paleo Approach Cookbook and Danielle Walker’s Meals Made Simple. I can’t wait to get back in the kitchen!

Please, Ignore the Rules

Dear family member,

I hope you show up high today! From the moment I see your glazed face, I’m instantly trying to dissect your personal cocktail, whatever combination of goodies you ingested this morning to construct your altered demeanor. Alcohol and meth? Cocaine and opiates? Every last Xanax you had in the medicine cabinet? Did you just take four more pills while I was trying to talk to you? Go ahead.

I hope you come drunk at nine in the morning and try to swing at someone. I’m just anxiously awaiting calling the cops on you and escorting you out of the hospital. Maybe you’ll just make a huge scene yelling at your brother in the hallway or perhaps you’ll threaten to murder your sister-in-law, or maybe you’ll threaten the bedside nurse, my favorite outburst of all. I’ll just turn around and walk away as you call each other crack head prostitutes in front of all the other people in the hallway. It’s no problem for me to call the police to look through the other visitor’s purse to make sure she doesn’t really have a gun like you say. Thanks for putting me through all that trouble.

I realize you hate your entire family. I realize you must surely be the only sane one. I believe you when you say they’re all out to get your money or the patient’s money or the crack money. I totally understand when you make a ridiculous scene over the twenty six dollars that the patient came in with in their wallet. Naturally, someone stole all of your money right before you arrived and you haven’t got a dollar to your name. You’re the distant cousin-in-law but of course it’s your right to have it because you’ve got things to take care of.

I absolutely condone you laying all over the ICU patient in the bed like this is a hotel room that you can inhabit in an inappropriate manner. Enough said.

It’s just a hospital for goodness sake! It’s no different from your local convenience store. There’s no need for decorum or rule-following or respect. Spit on the floor or ask me if you can use the patient’s bedside cup as a dip cup. Try to convince me that it’s sanitary for you to live at the hospital for a week and sleep on the floor in the waiting area. Let your one-year old baby crawl around licking the dirty floor in the hallway. Better yet, try to smuggle in your small child several times after I’ve told you not to.

Let me just say, I believe you when you say you are the Medical Power of Attorney. Yeah, you can’t find the paperwork right now, but let’s just forget about that little formality and let you make an end-of-life decision for your estranged brother’s aunt. It’s not like the whole affair is a legal process that I have to follow. The document must’ve just gotten lost and consequently you’ll be the one to get her cash when she dies. Makes perfect sense to me.

Sure I’ll call your parole officer and tell him where you’ve been for the past three days, even though you haven’t been here.

You’re right! Yelling at me will only help me find your husband’s lost dentures more quickly!

We can totally overlook the fact that your current wife, your ex-wife, your girlfriend and your baby mama are all taking punches at each other in the hallway. I realize that’s not your problem and I understand how you can be ignorant to how that all happened in the first place. Legal matters like being married are hard to remember.

Of course you realize this is a satirical representation of some of the crazy things that happen between patients and family members (although I’ve personally witnessed all of these outbursts). Obviously, all of the above scenarios burden and sadden me and I wish such drama didn’t exist, both for my sanity and for the people in those situations. And since this is the Internet and people don’t quite understand the fullness of satire and might think me merely rude and unsympathetic, let me explain.

No one’s family is perfect. Even your neighbor who seems to have it all together has a drug addiction problem or a psychotic parent or an estranged relationship with a sibling. There’s no perfect family and while some people believe in (or desperately hope for) the mythical Normal Rockwall experience, it’s an elusive dream that will inevitably escape them. Don’t feel bad when your family has these issues. Don’t be embarrassed when you have a skeleton that causes you pain or you’re the one who can’t seem to get along with the rest of them. Hopefully it makes you feel better that you’re not the only one. Or you might be the crazy one.

Drug and alcohol addiction is also an all-too real dividing force no matter your race, socioeconomic status, where you live, or the type of environment you grew up in. A boatload of Xanax seems to show up in people’s pockets far too often regardless of which college they attended. Addiction gets messy and causes problems and damages relationships.

The satire here is that people often ignore hospital decorum, which is a loosely relative but understandable set of rules. I would say “intuitive” to some points because, “Please don’t arrive under the influence of alcohol or illegal drugs” isn’t on my list of welcome rules when a family member first arrives (yet maybe it should be). Sometimes, I can easily understand their preoccupation as their teenage son was just brought in from a severe car accident and they can’t contain their emotions. I’ve seen people yell, threaten, cajole and manipulate during those ultimately stressful moments and we’re all willing to overlook those due to the situation. The human mind and emotions can only handle so much stress before limitations start to seep through the cracks.

On those other occasions, when people are simply misbehaving, I ask them to leave their drama at home, or in the hallway, or in the parking lot. We’re busy trying to take care of your family member and don’t have time to referee your quarrels. I ask them nicely to come back sober another day or beg them on the phone to come see their dying mother. I politely explain the rules and expect them to abide by them. The patients need the respect of a proper ICU stay and the families sometimes need boundaries and appropriate limitations. Everyone deserves a unique level of sympathy during such a time and we do our best to make that happen.

So as much as I joke about all the ridiculous encounters I’ve had with family members, most are kind and appropriate and helpful. They are thankful and appreciative of what we’re doing to sustain their family member’s life. And regardless of their background, amount of hospital experience or financial status, love and boundaries are often synonymous. Let us help you, just like we’re helping them.

Natalie-8

Cookbook Review: The Dairy-Free Ice Cream Cookbook

DSC_1345

Congratulations summer, you’ve met your delicious counterpart.

Kelly Brozyna, aka The Spunky Coconut, has been inventing delicious dairy-free, grain-free, and Paleo recipes for years now and I believe her most recent cookbook is the ultimate culmination of all her efforts! Kelly started delving into the alternate nutrition realm after her family fell prey to several diagnoses, including ADD, celiac, and autism. Isn’t it amazing how many of the health revolutions started with desperate mothers trying to find a way to heal their family members? By figuring out ways to make healthier versions of popular recipes devoid of refined sugars and flours, Kelly uses a plethora of alternative ingredients and creative mechanisms to provide her fans with tasty treats. She recently came out with her fourth cookbook, The Dairy-Free Ice Cream Cookbook and it’s exploded in popularity. While Kelly’s talents are definitely not limited to the frozen treat category, I believe she has some of the best ice cream recipes out there for three reasons: simplicity, creativity, and of course, flavor.

DSC_1341Coffee ice cream from her book

Simplicity: I don’t know about you, but I love the slower pace of summer. Fresh fruits and vegetables, summer salads, and simple light desserts grab my attention during the hot summer months here in Texas. And as much as I love cooking, I don’t want the homemade ice cream-making process to last all day. When it’s hot (it’s been 103 here in Dallas this week!) and I don’t feel like slaving away in the kitchen, I turn to my classic recipes that combine a few simple ingredients and a cold dessert always sits at the top of the list. When I first opened The Dairy-Free Ice Cream Cookbook, I was beyond relieved to see that Kelly has made it simple and straight-forward. She gives you instructions on how to make the process run smoothly, lists her favorite equipment, and uses only a few ingredients in each recipes- most of which you might already have in a Paleo kitchen. Coconut milk? Check. Cocoa powder? Check. Dates? You can pretty much already make any recipe on a whim and the only facilitating piece you need is the ice cream maker itself. Compared to some of the other Paleo ice cream recipes out there that require multiple trips in and out of the freezer, Kelly has fashioned her recipes so that you can make a batch in only a few hours with relatively little effort.

DSC_1364Frozen Mint Chocolate Whoopie Pies from her book

Creativity: When you finally took the plunge and committed yourself to an un-processed food lifestyle, did you ever think you would eat Brownie Batter ice cream again? How about Mocha Almond Fudge or Gingerbread Cookie Dough or a “Peanut Butter” Chocolate ice cream cake? And have you ever even heard of flavors like Fried Banana or Honeysuckle or Persimmon Sorbet? Yeah, I haven’t either. Do I even need to elaborate further on this point? I have a huge amount of respect for those inspired people who take their recipes to the next level, the level that propels them from “good” to “great” and I think Kelly has accomplished that in this book. Just check out the endless flavor list and you’ll agree.

DSC_1323

Brownie Batter ice cream from her book

Flavor: I test the strength of a Paleo recipe by feeding it to non-Paleo eaters and gauging their reactions. Since I consider it my personal goal to convince people that eating healthy doesn’t mean losing flavor, I often experiment with treats on others and ask for opinions (people other than my husband who, after seeing all the dishes piled up in the sink and the distraught look on my face, will gladly say anything is superb). I made the frozen mint chocolate whoopie pies for our home group weekend getaway and they were a hit! I’m looking forward to moving into our new house with our new kitchen so that I can host bigger gatherings and continue my social experiment and brain-washing further (muah-ha-ha). Seriously, these homemade ice creams taste better than any store-bought brand and are so much healthier for you than that giant waffle cone stuffed with three thick flavors at Cold Stone. (Kelly has a waffle cone bowl recipe too!)

If you’re looking for an easy way to make a summer treat with little effort that will satisfy even the harshest dessert critic, start with The Dairy Free Ice Cream Cookbook. I promise you won’t be disappointed! Let’s just say I’m not putting down this book anytime soon.

DSC_1392

All photos belong to me and if you want to see more tasty food photos, follow me on IG!

Human Problem-Solving Experts

Natalie-15

We’re all familiar with the insane nursing shift, the one that brought a TV shows worth of drama and unexpected catastrophe all before you ate lunch that day, the one you won’t soon forget. While many patients and situations follow conventional patterns, humans, the business of healthcare, are inherently unpredictable and often choose to exercise that distinctive quality at the seemingly most inconvenient moment. The range of disturbances can vary from a minor disruption like a patient vomiting in the middle of shift report to a random line of V-Fib resulting in a messy code and a tragic death. We can’t control our patients or foresee the various ways they surprise us on a daily basis and so we learn to evolve in our profession in order to maintain our sanity. As nurses, we become intimately accustomed to the frantic and indeterminable pace of life in our unit and come to expect the unexpected. It’s always better to be prepared for the worst.

Humans aren’t programmable like a computer or machine. They don’t fit a mold and for the most part, can only be generalized in the broadest fashion. Each one is unique from the start and only develop more idiosyncracies along the way including mental problems, chronic conditions, and self-care deficits. People are literally constantly moving and changing as cells duplicate and die, babies are formed and grow, and cellular mutations arise. With so many actions and reactions occurring in people’s bodies every second, it’s not surprising that we often hear unexpected news or detect a suddenly abnormal lab value. It’s actually amazing that so many aspects of our nature go according to plan.

We are all too familiar with our own changes as we have a growth spurt or detect a new wrinkle or realize we can’t run as quickly as we used to as a teenager. Because we understand the human condition personally and because we’ve been wired to respond to challenges with solutions, we can define ourselves as nurses as human problem-solving experts. Sometimes I think nearly everything I do in a twelve-hour shift is responding to one problem after another.

As nurses, we learn to input new information, form a plan of action, and adapt to the changes. A nurse with honed critical thinking skills, the seasoned ability to process information quickly and respond correctly, is worth his or her weight in gold. Many brand-new physicians owe their success (and prevention of killing someone) in their first years of practice to such aptly observant and smart nurses.

As a novice nurse right out of school, you probably don’t already possess those critical thinking skills. Those specific talents can be taught to some degree but are mostly developed and refined through experience. After working for five years on your unit, you now know how to easily handle a situation that would’ve sent you into a panic attack your first several months. Compared to your innocent days, you now know how to talk to difficult patients and get them to comply with a suppository. You’ve inherently absorbed the ability to manage predicaments that would’ve sent you to the bathroom crying previously. Like any profession, nursing hopefully follows an upward curve, with more experience leading to more knowledge and better patient care.

When I first started in the ICU, I was terrified of starting an IV line, mostly because I hadn’t gotten much experience in nursing school. After a few epic failures at the cost of my patients, a kind coworker pulled me aside and showed me where I was operating in error and how to insert the catheter effectively. Thankful for his instruction, I gained a skill that had otherwise been obtuse to me. Months later, I was struggling to keep my patient’s IV line patent as he kept bending his arms and thrashing about in the bed. Rather than trying to insert another line somewhere besides the crook of his arm or use a more effective restraint, I sat at the bedside encouraging him to remain still and restarting the pump every few minutes like a well-qualified babysitter. Even later in my career, I received a patient with absolutely horrible veins, attempted several sticks, then stopped completely, paging the doctor to inform him that I needed more advanced access.

Can you see the progression? As with any job where you start from the bottom, you learn basic skills then develop more eloquent ways of using them to solve your problems. In the beginning, I wouldn’t have recognized that my patient with horrendous veins needed a central line rather than sticking him ten or twelve times. I didn’t have the mental and physical resources to come up with an alternative solution that would’ve proven more beneficial for both my patient and me. I was green and nervous and now I would like to say I’m much more confident, although you’ll never know all the answers. There’s always room to learn.

One particular day will stand in infamy in my mind. I was new, inexperienced and submerged deep in a host of problems much too complex for me at the time.

I received an admission from the ED, a teenager who had swallowed a bottle of pills in a desperate but ineffective attempt at attention. While they had intubated him downstairs and pumped his stomach full of thick, black charcoal to absorb the overload of medications, the tubes and lines only agitated him more. He came up thrashing about, yanking at the restraints with all his available strength and looking at me with manic eyes. With the help of my coworkers, we managed to stifle him with more IV medications and he drifted off into a sedated sleep. Not quite trusting him, I frantically charted an assessment, keeping one eye on his four soft restraints.

Then I turned to my patient in the opposite room.

In the midst of the drama with the teenager I had almost forgotten the depth and magnitude of pain throbbing at the next bedside. A man had suffered a stroke, one that the doctors deemed “incompatible with life.” They offered no surgical option and no medication could be tried. As the pressures built up in his brain, the life was literally being squeezed out of him. And we were all helpless to do anything about it.

His family wailed at the bedside. They laid hands on him, pleading with God for a miracle, some sign of a chance. They wrestled hope desperately, trying to catch it before it slipped away completely. As I tiptoed around the room, trying to be quiet and respectful, more visitors arrived. Then more, and then more. I believe the entire church had stuffed themselves between the cloth curtains as I stood innocuously outside of the room. I wanted to give them their privacy and give the patient the respect owed to a dying man. So I let them gather and pray and didn’t interrupt.

Meanwhile, my teenager awoke in a fury. Banging his hands and legs against the bed, he raised his head up and I saw the inevitable with awful dread. With a thrust of his stomach, he began spewing black charcoal out of his mouth, out his NG tube and onto the bed like a scene out of a horror film. The black spread everywhere instantly as we rushed towards him, trying to keep him from hurting himself. An IV came out along the way and blood entered into the mix. As my coworkers and I grabbed at any available flying limb, one nurse clamped down on my arm with her bloody glove, gripping it with all her strength.

“Yeah, that’s my arm, not his.”

“Oh sorry! That’s gross.”

I washed my arm as someone gave him more medications.

Directly opposite, my dying patient’s family members grew louder and louder, wailing and screaming and beseeching God. Someone started chanting in another language and my coworkers stared at me. I was afraid someone was going to produce a snake out of a purse. With one hand still on my teenager, I panicked, unsure of how to proceed. The disruption was growing to a disturbing level and I felt solely responsible.

My teenager vomited black charcoal violently, staining the room with the mess.

The family members yelled and shrieked at an unmanageable volume.

There was too much noise, too much overstimulation!

And I simply stood in the hallway between the two rooms, literally helpless against the situation. I couldn’t help but laugh, as I truly didn’t know how to handle two such dramatic instances at once. How did I get myself here? What did I sign up for in taking this job? And could you ever imagine such a horrible day as this one?

My manager heard the commotion and came out of her office. After glancing between my patients, she immediately called the charge nurse and someone came to relieve me. It was three in the afternoon and I hadn’t eaten lunch or gone to the bathroom since the start of my shift. She jumped into action, knowing intuitively what I didn’t. She had the benefit of experience that was still foreign and vague to me. I had problems that, with my limited knowledge, I couldn’t solve on my own. I needed help and thankfully, found it at the hands of those around me.

We’ve all had those overwhelming days, those stories you will tell at family gatherings for years to come. We’ve gone home and cried, or called in the next day, unable to face it again in the midst of our exhaustion. We’ve thought maybe we were crazy in signing up for this profession. No one said it was going to be easy. No one said it would come naturally. But as the years and months pass, as we grow more proficient at managing the insanity around us, we become better people, better nurses. We learn to solve problems of every shape and size and do it well.

And as a concurrent benefit, you’ll always have a good story to tell, those stories you will never forget.

Product Review: Kombucha!

DSC_1360

After getting tired of routine beverages like water, tea, and sparkling water, I wanted a liquid treat. I wanted something out of the ordinary that would be good for me, unlike sodas and sugary lemonades or teas. I had heard a fair amount about Kombucha from others in the Paleo world but was hesitant to give it a try, mostly because the “floaties” in the bottom of the bottle sent shivers up my spine. But in the spirit of culinary bravery, I decided to overcome my own personal fears and dive right into the world of Kombucha. Hopefully by the end of this post, you’ll understand why it’s good for you, tasty and a great probiotic alternative to commercial drinks. People also claim a whole host of health benefits like improved digestion, increased immunity and even greater energy, although these anecdotal claims have yet to be substantiated by medical research.

Let’s start at the beginning. What actually is Kombucha? It’s a fermented drink composed of tea, sugar, yeast, and bacteria. Some may refer to it as Kombucha mushroom tea because the “mother” SCOBY resembles a mushroom, but it’s not, simply a compilation of bacteria and yeast. The “floaties” you will see at the bottom of the jar are products of the main bacterial culture called a SCOBY, an acronym for symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast. The Paleo Mom defines Kombucha as, “a sparking, fermented, probiotic-rich beverage,” and advocates for eating or drinking some kind of probiotic food daily (The Paleo Approach, 228).

th-5 A SCOBY. Although it looks gross, keep reading!

When I first started my intestinal investigation soon after my diagnosis, I had a set of blood food allergy tests run. Now, while many scientific experts don’t consider those tests to be very accurate due to the variation of opinions regarding their reliability, I did test for positive reactions to both baker’s and brewer’s yeast and I instantly resonated with those findings. These are the types of yeasts found in bread, beer, wine and much more. At the time, those were the foods that caused me the most discord so I immediately eliminated them and experienced much symptom relief. From that time on, I was very wary of both yeast and sugars, because an unbalanced amount of yeast in your gut feeds off of complex carbohydrates, like sugars. Anytime I ate any sugar, wheat, yeast, gluten or complex carb, I felt miserable. After following a strict SCD elimination diet for over a month and adding in probiotic foods like homemade yogurt, I began to see improvements in my gut. While the intricacies of my intestinal healing are lengthy, I believe now I’ve restored myself to a healthy gut balance, which now allows me much more freedom in what I eat and drink.

Needless to say when I thought about trying Kombucha, I was wary because of both the sugar and yeast. I don’t tolerate table sugar well at all and try to avoid it at all costs, both for the general health benefits and for my sensitive gut. And I haven’t eaten a bite of anything with yeast in it for years now. However, after doing some research, I learned that the types of yeast commonly used to brew Kombucha are not the same strains that cause intestinal yeast overgrowth. In fact, the Paleo Mom says, “eating foods that contain Saccharomyces boulardii or other beneficial yeast does not increase the likelihood of getting a yeast infection or overgrowth (a common misnomer). In fact, eating beneficial yeast can help treat a yeast infection.” The Paleo Approach, 224. And the fermentation process breaks down much of the sugar, thus limiting it’s effect on your gut.

However, a word of caution. If you are having a plethora of gut problems and suspect bacterial and yeast overgrowth, it is wise to avoid probiotic foods until after a few weeks on an elimination diet and then add them back very slowly, only a teaspoon at a time. If you’ve healed yourself from any leaky gut issues or don’t have any current problems, go ahead with trying some Kombucha!

Another word of caution: the fermentation process does produce a tiny amount of alcohol as a byproduct. If you’re pregnant, have an alcohol sensitivity, or have a compromised immune system, it may be best to avoid Kombucha. Most medical personnel don’t recommend any alcohol or unpasteurized bacteria during pregnancy so better safe than sorry. If you want more information, read this post from The Food Renegade regarding pregnancy and Kombucha.

You can make Kombucha at home and can buy kits online. While it’s safe when made correctly, you have to ensure that you follow the directions strictly to prevent any unsafe bacteria that could make you sick. As long as you abide by the instructions, you should do well. For a great tutorial, see this post from the Kitchn.

I tried several different brands and flavors over a period of time, trying to find my personal favorite. Since Kombucha’s popularity has sky-rocketed lately, you can find commercial brews in refrigerated cases at many health food stores. While a bottle isn’t cheap (usually $4-5), I believe the health benefits make up for the cost. If you want it for cheaper, consider making it yourself at home.

All the brands listed below are organic. I did not receive any compensation for writing this post so you know my opinions are true! Here we go:

th Live Soda  Austin, Texas. When I first tried the Pure Doctor flavor, I immediately looked at the bottle, wondering if somehow I had picked up a Dr. Pepper soda instead. Truly, it tastes amazingly similar to the commercial drink and would be a great alternative for someone trying to wean themselves off of sugary sodas. Since I’m not used to so much sweetness anymore, it was too much for me. While all the flavors are delicious, I would pick up the Living Limon flavor instead (It has Stevia so keep reading labels if you don’t do alternative sweeteners).

th-1 Buddah’s Brew Austin, Texas. The Pineapple Super Greens is a completely unique flavor that is both delicious and healthy and instantly captured my attention. They also make rotating seasonal flavors in mason jars, which is pretty cool, you have to admit.

 

 

th-2Holy Kombucha Fort Worth, Texas. You have to try the Blood Orange flavor. Seriously. It’s yummy and fizzy and totally defies any construct of your tastebuds.

 

th-3 Synergy GT’s Kombucha I tried the Lavender flavor because it struck me as unique and different but I didn’t like it as much as I thought I would. On the other hand, I also tried the Strawberry Serenity and I think it was my favorite flavor out of all the Kombucha flavors I tried (I’m a crazy strawberry fan so that’s not surprising!) Syngery makes several different variations of Kombucha, some with a lighter feel, so try them all and pick which type you like best.

 

th-4 Kevita I picked the Hibiscus Berry daily cleanse and savored it for a while. Since Kevita has a ton of different types of drinks, including organic coconut sparkling water!, I will be buying more of these!

If you’re new to the world of probiotic foods and drinks, I hope this post gives you a better understanding of why you should consider braving a new beverage. If you’re a seasoned Kombucha veteran, leave a comment and tell me which flavor is your favorite!

Sources: The Paleo Mom website and her book The Paleo Approach.

For the Love of the People

Natalie-12

Most people don’t go into the profession of nursing for the fame or fortune. Instead, we do it because of that nagging altruistic feeling that settles in our gut. We do it because we’ve seen suffering or suffered ourselves and seek to enter into the depths of those tragedies and triumphs. We do it for the lost, the broken, the hurting, the lonely and the tormented. We clean up horrors beyond your imagination and deal with angry, yelling family members, simply seeking an outlet for their grief manifested in rage. We get up earlier than most, work longer days than many, and rely on relatively few “thank you’s.” We do it not for ourselves, but for the love of the people.

At my urban hospital, I see the indigent and abandoned, those who are plagued by mental illness, chronic disease, and substance abuse. I deal with people who ignore their physician’s instructions, landing them back in the hospital time after time. I am intimately acquainted with those ignorant of the healthcare system, those who, despite all of our pleading, let their family members live out the rest of their days in a hollow existence, loitering in the void between life and death with little quality of life. I am forced to ponder obtuse ethical questions, deal with impossible situations, and to be brutally honest, at times linger in resentment and callousness. I am compelled to wrestle with those questions for days afterwards, trying to come up with a better solution for unmanageable issues. Sometimes I leave confused at the disadvantaged, out of pity wondering, “how did you get here?”

I’m not trying to get political here and rant about the problems inherent to our healthcare system. There are many positives and negatives and I will leave that discussion to people far more educated and opinionated than me. The point I’m trying to make, the thesis of this examination, is that lives are valuable. If we didn’t believe that, we wouldn’t work so hard to protect them, heal them, restore them, or guide them gently into death.

An older African-American woman randomly contracted a very rare and very fatal disease, one that was already leading her towards the light. She was no longer conscious, not able to talk or eat on her own, and couldn’t move. She lay in the bed with tubes and machines that would accompany her to her death.

Having seen many such cases in my career, personally I wouldn’t want the remainder of my unconscious existence with a terminal condition to be constituted of lab draws and ventilators and feeding tubes. I would want to go quickly and in peace and I would desire the same for my family members. But people don’t always make the decision you would.

This woman’s family decided to keep her alive in her vegetative state in the vain hope that she might wake up. Despite all our education, consoling, and pleading, they remained unchanged. That woman would live out the rest of her life in an uncomfortable intensive care and the reality of the decision, the heartbreak of it, got under my skin.

As healthcare professionals we can educate and encourage people in what we deem as the right direction, but we can’t force their hand. There are many frustrating moments where we lament the choices made, but it’s not our mother or father or husband. Up to a point, we can’t control people’s final decisions and sometimes that drives me mad. This particular case haunted me as I ruminated over the injustice of such an existence. Not that I’m always right, but from a personal standpoint, it killed me to watch her waste away in the bed, her body literally decomposing before us. I had tried my best and the family decided to follow another path than I would’ve chosen.

On those particularly trying days with particularly sticky situations, you wonder if it’s all worth it, if this job that seems to suck the compassion and strength right out of you, is a calling or a masochistic inkling. Did you trick yourself into believing that you were truly making a difference? Did you fall prey to some propaganda scheme that propped up your hopes of changing the world and the people in it? Those days can make you question whether your sense of kindness has evaporated over the relentless twelve hour shifts and all that remains is a solely a romantic notion to make you feel better.

A young woman in her forties put a gun to her head and pulled the trigger, trying to silence years of Bipolar disorder and alcoholism. She left behind two young children who would never grow up to know their mother. Her father, an older man marked with years of abuse himself, looked up at me tearfully and said, “she was a sweetheart when she wasn’t drinking.” We proceeded to have a mournful but cathartic conversation about her hobbies, her favorite time of year, the people’s lives she had touched in love.

“I’ve been sober for thirty three years now,” he said, wiping away a tear from his face. “I wish she could’ve done the same. Now she’s in the hands of God.” We hugged and both shed a few tears and remained together in silence as the family prepared for her imminent death.

In contrast on those days, as I hold the hand of a mourning father, I remember that the hope that seemed so far buried, does not lie dormant. I recall the reasons why I chose this crazy career in the first place. It wasn’t for my own self-satisfaction necessarily or to go home at night and never have to deal with those frustrating and painful emotions. I knew going into this job that it wouldn’t be the easiest or most convenient career. I do it for the love of the people.

We simply believe lives are valuable, both those of our patients and families and we seek to help them through some of the most difficult moments. Someone holds your hand and thanks you for saving their life. A former patient walks back in the door months later, almost fully recovered from a traumatic brain injury. A parent cries with joy when their child starts to follow commands, and you cry with them. You see firsthand the fruits of your toiled labor, the labor that you never really expected a return on. It’s simply a gracious gift.

Whether you deal with an indigent or wealthy population, the educated or illiterate, the consciencious or the apathetic, the words you speak and the acts of your hands do not go unnoticed. There are still many aspects of healthcare that frustrate me, choices that seem to defy logical sense, and poorly managed decision-making situtations that result in grevious ends. Like any career or profession, it’s not perfect and the cracks with always remain.

But despite the day, frustrating or invigorating, happy or sad, meaningful or banal, people are cared for and lives saved. In the end, both the patient or family and me benefit from our exchange, trading meaning from the situation to make sense of life’s curve balls. And it will always be worth it.

After all, it’s all for the love of the people.

 

Whole 30

th-1With all the media popularity recently, you’ve probably heard of a diet and lifestyle approach coined the Whole 30. Creators Dallas and Melissa Hartwig refer to the plan as a “powerful 30-day nutritional reset,” and it has exploded in popularity as people have seen dramatic results. Many people have found the outlined plan very effective for losing weight, reducing disease and gaining a healthier lifestyle and food perspective. The book It Starts With Food outlines the reasoning behind the 30 day plan, the logistics, meal plans, shopping guides and a whole host of other resources to get you prepared and through the thirty days successfully.

Everyone comes to dietary crossroads for a different reason. Some want to lose weight, some reduce disease, and others to understand their bodies better. The Whole 30 addresses all those needs. By eliminating a whole host of inflammatory foods and those that cause cravings, the Whole 30 plan helps to heal your body from any imbalances as well as banish that after-dinner sweet tooth. Many people realize (or don’t even recognize) that they have an improper and unbalanced relationship with food, meaning you are a slave to your food rather than being in control of your habits. The 30 day “reset” helps you to take charge of your eating routines for the better.

For people who are just beginning to learn about dietary changes, they might find this all a little overwhelming. Eliminating all sugars, grains and dairy for a whole month? No way. Five years ago it would’ve seemed daunting to me and even after we changed our diet for the sake of my health, I threw some pretty spectacular tantrums from time to time so I can relate. You can read my UC story here. For people who are already familiar with Paleo or other similar ways of eating, they don’t have as far to come and may enjoy the additional challenges of the Whole 30. To make getting started really simple, they provide you with easy steps in this post. There are a couple of simple admonitions that the Hartwigs endorse for sticking to the Whole 30 plan:

  • Absolutely no cheating! To use a quote from their book, “Beating cancer is hard. Birthing a baby is hard. Losing a parent is hard. Drinking your coffee black. Is. Not. Hard.” Even a little bite or sip of any of the outlawed foods can send you back into cycles of cravings and destroy all your hard work. Stick with it!
  • Stay off the scale. The Whole 30 doesn’t require you to count calories or input everything you eat into an online calculator. It’s about eating real, healthy food, not focusing on the pounds.
  • It will require some effort. Because most dishes you order at any restaurant are not Whole 30 approved, you will have to eat the majority of your meals at home and learn to cook. Since fresh fruits and vegetables do not magically appear on your doorstep, you will need to plan meals weekly and make shopping lists. Don’t just wander into the grocery store unarmed and uneducated or you will likely fall into some erroneous patterns.
  • The majority of your meals should consist of healthy meats and vegetables with fruits as part of the meal occasionally (not as a snack). Snacks should include protein and fats (not just fruits or veggies). Eat three meals a day and avoid snacking if at all possible. You can find a whole list of other recommendations in the provided Whole 30 resources.

DSC_1310

 

Pictured above: Coconut curry vegetables

Yes for Whole 30:

  • Meats and seafood (preferably organic, grass-fed or wild-caught)
  • Vegetables
  • Occasional fruit
  • Clarified butter or ghee
  • Healthy fats like olive or coconut oil
  • Coffee (only one or two cups/day with no dairy or added sugar)

No for Whole 30:

  • Sugars-natural or artificial (including white sugar, honey, agave, maple syrup, Splenda, stevia and others.)
  • Alcohol (not even for cooking)
  • Grains (including traditional grains like wheat, oats buckwheat and also quinoa and rice)
  • Legumes (including all kinds of beans, chickpeas, peanuts, soy or tofu)
  • Dairy (including cow goat or sheep products.) Clarified butter IS allowed.
  • Starchy vegetables (including white potatoes and corn)
  • “Paleo treats” including sweet treats made Paleo-friendly like pancakes, waffles, muffins, brownies, ice cream and cakes.
  • Additives, nitrates, unnatural preservatives and other nefarious ingredients. If you don’t recognize the names on the label, you should probably put it back on the shelf.

There are some simple exceptions listed here

While I’ve done a modified version of the autoimmune Whole 30 in the past, I wanted to try a traditional Whole 30 to help control and eliminate my sugar cravings. Lately, I can’t go to bed after dinner without a sweet treat and find myself absently eating Paleo sugary desserts without being able to resist. Since I don’t want to be held hostage by my eating habits, I’m starting on this journey to get another perspective on my relationship with food. While I’ve spent an enormous amount of time researching ways to heal my Ulcerative Colitis, I haven’t done much soul searching on how I deal with food cravings.

We already eat very close to the Whole 30 plan, having modified my nutritional needs over the past two years in hopes of reducing disease. But I believe there’s always more to learn and we should never grown complacent so I’m ready to try another route. Needless to say, I’m excited for the next month and I’m sharing this information with all of you because I truly believe it is a very effective way to become a healthier person! My blogger friend Andrea is a HUGE Whole 30 proponent and you can read more about her Whole 30 experiences on her blog Loubiesandlulu.

This is simply my personal summary of Whole 30 and you can find all the details on the Whole 30 website and in the book It Starts With Food. Especially if all of this seems foreign and you’re new to this way of eating, I would highly suggest getting the book (it’s not only very knowledge-based but also funny and inspiriting. Good luck!

DSC_1306

Watermelon spritzer: frozen watermelon juice, carbonated water and lime juice.