The Well Girl

Tips for a Life Well-Lived

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It Doesn’t Matter What We Eat?

My husband is a physician, and yesterday he forwarded me an article from his weekly journal update.  I then opened my daily update from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics to find the same article.  The article, newly released by the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), is a review of successful weight-loss statistics.  They found that the most powerful indicator of long-term weight loss was not WHAT diet the subjects followed, but how well they adhered to it.  They summarized that there should be less focus on what the “ideal” diet is (low-fat, low-carb, etc), and more focus on adherence: lifestyle changes, exercise habits, portion control, and understanding hunger.  There is a summary of the article here:

I couldn’t agree more that long-term adherence is going to be important for anyone who needs to keep weight off.  However, I don’t think we can extrapolate that to mean that it doesn’t matter what diet people follow.  The researchers themselves even listed “avoiding high-calorie, fatty foods” as one of the important adherence tactics.  Well…isn’t that a diet that could be debated?  Most of us who follow Paleo don’t avoid fat at all….and many lose weight.  And I will say I’ve been able to adhere to Paleo for almost 2 years because I feel good eating this way.  I can assure you people don’t usually feel good on a low-calorie or extremely low-carbohydrate diet.  I really believe the nutrients we use to fuel our body have more importance than simply how they reflect on the scale – and the content of them is important in my option. What do you think?  It doesn’t matter what we eat as long as we find a way to lose weight and stick with it forever?  Or there is an ideal diet? 

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Calcium in Paleo Kids and Kombucha Travel

Well, what’s going on with this blog?  I started the program to become a Registered Dietitian back in May and it’s been busy!  So far, my classes haven’t dissuaded me at all from an ancestral diet philosophy.  I haven’t been hypnotized to believe in the “food pyramid” or “my plate” but I have learned a lot of interesting things about human physiology and how it relates to our diets.  I’ve even found some material that agreed well with paleo/primal eating but clearly the government-sanctioned diet advice still has a long way to go.

Anyway, one thing I have been thinking about lately is calcium and children.  I’ve tracked my calcium on a paleo diet several times and found that I was meeting requirements.  However, my 21-month old toddler doesn’t eat dark, leafy greens very much.  I’ve been reading about the importance of calcium in children’s diets and started to wonder if paleo kids really are getting enough calcium without dairy.  I tracked Evan’s diet for a couple of days and found that he wasn’t getting much.  I know the theory that the paleo diet creates an alkaline body chemistry that favors calcium absorption (thus, requiring less), but I was still concerned.  There was A LOT of controversy last week when the Weston A. Price newsletter was released bashing the paleo diet.  Although I agree with most of the criticism of that article (read the comments), I do think the author made some good points about calcium in children’s diets on paleo.  She noticed the same potential problem in her article, if you scroll to the bottom myth: the WAPF diet is like the paleo diet.  So, I’ve been experimenting with giving Evan fermented dairy (plain, full-fat yogurt and cheese).  He’s been tolerating it really well so I plan to continue.  Other paleo parents, paleo followers?  Your thoughts?

Speaking of fermented foods, our kombucha scoby has undergone some travel.  We moved to Turkey about three weeks ago.  Our scoby sat in the fridge at my parent’s house for about 4 weeks before being mailed across the world to us this week.  I then put it in the fridge for a day, then brewed a batch of kombucha and added the scoby today.  Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to find a glass jar yet so I’m using plastic for now.  Do you think it survived and will continue to produce good kombucha?  I’ll update you in a couple of weeks but at least it looks good:

Did it survive the trip?

Did it survive the trip?

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Mother’s Day Gift From a Toddler – Flower Vase

Here’s a quick gift our toddler “made” for his grandmas for Mother’s Day.  Evan is 18 months so I obviously helped a lot but hopefully they will love that he made parts of it. 


First I had Evan finger paint a large paper:


Next, I painted the inside of the mason jars with acrylic paint.  I put the jars in the oven at 175 degrees for 60 min to speed the drying.  Then, I had Evan put hand prints on the jars with a different paint color:

ImageI made a flower-shaped template and used it to trace flowers on the back of the finger painting, then cut them out:

ImageFinally, I cut some styrofoam blocks to fit in the jars, cut some pipe cleaners in half, taped them to the flowers, and inserted them into the vases.  I added some ribbon also, but you could leave it off or add a tag.  Lots of options with this one!

ImageEnjoy, and Happy Mother’s Day!

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Paleo Toddler Meal – and Strategy!

I definitely can’t claim to have a 100% perfectly paleo toddler.  If you’ve tried to feed one of these creatures you know the challenges.  For example, a melt-down in the grocery store there other day ended up with me frantically opening a box of fruit snacks and feeding them to him.  Do I get points for the fact that they were organic?  Let’s not even talk about holidays.

I do try my best, and would like to share ideas for anyone that’s trying to go paleo with a toddler.  Here’s lunch from today – what he ate of what I gave him :)

  • 2 oz left-over chicken breast, cubed, with about 1T almond butter spread on the pieces
  • 2 cherry tomatoes
  • 2 halved, roasted brussels sprouts
  • 1 slice dill pickle
  • 2 small tangerines
  • water

I’ve also started a new strategy with feedings.  I was feeding him little bites of food until he was full.  This would usually go some thing like him rejecting the healthy paleo food I cooked, and me compromising and giving him something paleo-ish like deli meat.  And fruit.  So much fruit.  Now I get his whole meal prepared on his tray, just what we’re eating.  I give him his whole meal and nothing else.  He’s been eating way more variety this way.


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The Worth of Breastfeeding

Hey, so it’s been a little busy.  I was accepted into a program to be a registered dietitian and have been busy getting that set up.  Although registered dietitians are taught to follow/teach the USDA-sanctioned food pyramid, which is not Paleo, I’m still excited.  Why?  Registered dietitians are the trusted nutrition leaders, and most jobs related to coaching nutrition require the RD credential.  I’ve been inspired by some Paleo RDs.  I’d like to gain the scientific understanding of the human body that comes with RD training, and use the credential to share Paleo in professional settings.  Anyway, more to come on that. 

So, breastfeeding – I chose to breastfeed Evan because of all the health benefits.  The health risks associated with cow’s milk (also the primary ingredient in most infant formula), made breastfeeding especially important to me.  I had my share of problems – supply issues, pain for 9 weeks, plugged ducts, exhausting night feedings to 12 months, and travel apart from Evan of up to 3 weeks.  Have you ever overnighted an ice chest of frozen breast milk?  It’s nice and awkward.  I was working full time until Evan was 12 months, so there’s the every-day pain of figuring out how to pump at work.  Oh, did I mention I was flying with the Air Force during that time?  I’ve pumped on planes, in parking lots, in tents in the middle of no-where, in public restrooms, while driving(!) the list goes on.  If you’ve been a pumping, working mom I’ll bet you hear me on this.

Anyway, breastfeeding brought with it an unexpected benefit – a bond that was incredibly important to me.  It seemed to ease the hurt of working and being separated so much.  I had read about this “bond” before Evan was born but kind of blew it off as something I wouldn’t care about.  Boy was I wrong.  In fact, it’s made weaning really tough.  If you’re thinking about breastfeeding, beware – you struggle to get it going and then you struggle again when it’s time to stop.

I’m down to one feeding per day (morning).  I’ve been dreading skipping it, then having to deal with a crabby 18-month old all morning.  Yesterday I skipped it.  Evan didn’t seem to care.  I was so sad.  Ugh, these kids – you can’t win sometimes. 

Overall, I’m not trying to make breastfeeding sound like a bad idea.  Quite the opposite.  Why do mom’s put up with all this extra work and emotional turmoil?  Because it’s so, so worth it.  To see your child thrive and know you’ve given them your best is just the greatest thing in the world.


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The Best Kombutcha Bottles

So, I’ve been making my own Kombutcha for several months now.  I’ve found that the type of bottles I use can either make the process super simple or super annoying.  First, I tried using beer bottles.  We had the appliance you need to attach bottle tops but it’s pretty difficult to do by yourself.  Plus, the bottles were a little small for my preference. 

Next I tried mason/preserving jars.  I used both pint and half-pint size.  These were easy to clean and seal but I found that the tops would rust before I could re-use them.  I also had some issues with leaking. 

Finally, I got some 16-oz E-Z cap bottles.  These are amazing.  They seal well and easily.  They wash easily (dishwasher).  They’re glass so I don’t have to worry about the chemicals in plastic.  I get a great carbonation by bottling with 1.5 oz juice and filling to within 1-2″ of the top.  I wait 3 days before refrigerating. 


The one down side to these is the cost.  I need 13 bottles for 2 gallons of kombutcha, plus a few extras for between batches.  They usually come in one-dozen boxes.  If you’re just starting out with Kombutcha you might want to hold off on these.  If you decide to stick with it, I think they’re totally worth the investment.  Just consider the usual cost of a bottle of commercial Kombutcha – about $4 each. 

Have you tried another bottling option that works well?

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6 Weeks off Artificial Sweeteners – Complete!

I’ve been “paleo” for 15 months now but, until recently, hadn’t kicked a bad artificial sweetener habit.  I just don’t really like plain water, but I’ve never wanted the calories and health risks of sugary drinks.  So, for years I drank zero-calorie flavored waters, teas, sodas, you name it. 

I’ve done a lot of research on artificial sweeteners.  In my opinion the research is mixed.  You will find some studies that show no harm.  On the other hand, there are some studies showing they do cause weight gain.  There is no shortage of scary stories about neurological effects and cancer.  Overall I reasoned that our bodies aren’t designed to digest these unnatural chemicals.  If nothing else it must put extra stress on our liver and/or kidneys.  I decided to give it a 6-week break.

It wasn’t easy to give up sugar-free syrup in my Starbucks coffee, Diet Coke, and Splenda in my iced tea.  Not to mention sugar-free Vitamin Waters, Sobes, Diet Snapple, etc. etc.  But, you know what?  It did get easier with time.  Six weeks in I do feel like I crave sweets less.  There is a theory that drinking artificial sweeteners causes you to release digestive enzymes, in-turn causing you to crave more sugar.  I’m not sure if that’s true but I did notice that I was able to eat way less fruit lately.  In turn, eating less fruit has allowed me to lose a few pounds.  I’m also less nervous about the long-term health effects I’m causing by drinking artificial chemicals.

So, what do I drink?  I have a really hard time drinking straight glasses of water, so I froze a bunch of lemon juice in ice cube trays.  I add a cube of that to my water.  I do drink one cup of coffee each morning, sometimes with a little honey.  Side note: putting ANY sugar/calories such as honey in my drinks used to really freak me out, but doing so instead of drinking artificial sweeteners has actually resulted in LOSING a little weight.  Interesting.  I drink about 2 cups of home-made Kombutcha during the day, and also brew a couple cups of tea each day.  If I’m out and want a special treat I get a coconut water instead of diet soda.  Again, calories!  But honestly, I practice moderation and it hasn’t caused me to gain weight.  Overall, I’m happier and feel healthier without artificial sweeteners so I plan to keep them out of my diet now that I’ve broken the habit. 

What about Stevia?  Stevia is a no-calorie sweetener taken from a real plant so some people don’t consider it an artificial sweetener.  I would drink Stevia over any other artificial sweeteners but I still plan to avoid it.  It’s still a processed food that isn’t a natural part of the human diet (think Paleo principles). 

Do you drink artificial sweeteners?  Try giving it a break and you might be surprised how you feel.


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