a note to my nephew

this last weekend my aunts hosted an absolutely beautiful baby shower for my sissiebear and nephew! it was so fun, so adorable, and the food was SO good. it’s starting to seem real now that the baby is on his way–any day! i can’t wait to finally meet this little guy. so….i thought i would write him a note so he can someday read how excited we were to meet our very first nephew.

dear little man,

when we first heard you were on your way, it’s hard to describe what we felt. we were shocked, and excited, beyond happy, and a little anxious for your arrival. we have prayed and prayed that every step of your journey here would be perfect.

with just a few weeks to go, there are so many things we are wondering:  how big are you? what color are your eyes? who will you look most like? and most importantly, when will you get here??! you are already completely perfect in every way in our book, and we are incredibly thankful for you every single day.

little man, we want you to know how much we already love you. uncle and i have said countless prayers for you, and have laughed and cried thinking of all the fun that we will have with you when you arrive. we dream of the day we can snuggle you up in our arms, give you smooches, and try to make you laugh. you are so so special to us already, and i want you to know how much you are already loved. we already can’t imagine life before you.

 and just remember: you can do anything you want when you’re with us! we will never say ‘no’ to you! :) (just don’t tell mom!)

so stay warm and toasty little man! it’s cold out here!…..but you will discover that soon enough!

we love you forever-ever.

xoxoxxo aunty and uncle

here are some pictures from the baby shower too! yay baby!!!




my aunties, cousins, and sister, and her mother in law! love these women.

my aunties, cousins, and sister, and her mother in law! love these women.


i’m really excited for him to arrive, can you tell??!

*sigh* my little sister is having a baby. i can't believe it! love you so much!

*sigh* my little sister is having a baby. i can’t believe it! love you so much!

how cute is this? mini cinnamon rolls, mini bagels with smoked salmon, mini yogurt parfaits, mini donut holes, mini quiches, mini spinach puffs, mini muffins, zucchini bread, and white chocolate dipped pretzels! yeah. yum.

how cute is this? mini cinnamon rolls, mini bagels with smoked salmon, mini yogurt parfaits, mini donut holes, mini quiches, mini spinach puffs, mini muffins, zucchini bread, and white chocolate dipped pretzels! yeah. yum.

we strung little baby clothes with little clothes pins for window decoration! how adorable!

we strung little baby clothes with little clothes pins for window decoration! how adorable!

understated and adorable fireplace decor.

understated and adorable fireplace decor.

life changer thursday: summer’s story

hello again! here comes another addition to our ‘life changer thursday’ routine! these first three posts have been about health and diet, however, starting next week, we will be branching into the fields of marriage/online dating, missionary work, faith, adoption, and much more!  thank you for all the feedback about these posts! it’s nice to know that people appreciate them :)

so here is summer’s story about taking control of her family’s health. she and her husband cory are the proud parents of ashur and tyson (whom you will see a LOT of on our blog…we love them…a LOT.), they are some of the most intentional, driven, and dedicated people we know. summer has been the single driving motivation and support behind the plerg health turnaround, and she creates most of the yummy recipes featured here. all of that to say, summ really knows what she’s talking about, and has done a ton of research into the world of natural food and medicine. nothing should be taken as a prescription (disclaimer here: we are not doctors…duh.) but the knowledge base of this girl is insane.

summer was nice enough to mention too, if you have any follow up questions for her, please leave them in the comment section of this post or email me directly, and she will respond to those as well.

enjoy! learn! and happy almost weekend!

summer’s story:

First of all, I want to say thank you to Leah for her enormous heart, and her desire to educate others on all things health, relationships, and just plain old life stuff. You are leaving your mark on this world, and for that I thank you.
With that being said…when Leah asked me to write this blog I had no idea it would be so hard…I have written and deleted my opening line to this thing four times now, and I’m kinda irritated with myself for trying to be so formal and “blog savvy” as I write this.  So screw it.  I am going to write as the thoughts sound in my head, and hopefully you all will learn something along the way.
My husband and I have been married for 6 years and have two beautiful boys.  Ashur, our 3 year old, and Tyson, our 2 year old are the reason I am sitting down writing this blog to you today.
Two years ago I had taken Ashur to his one year appointment. It was just a regular old check up, but it actually ended up being a life changing appointment for our family.  I remember very clearly leaving the doctor’s office feeling frustrated, hopeless, and very defeated.  When I had asked her about preventative care for the common sicknesses most kids experience throughout the year she said…and I quote, “these next few years you will be sick more than you ever have, and Ashur will too, and that is just part of the process of kids growing up in this stage of life.”  Well there you have it.  Don’t bother preventing your kids from getting sick because…well…you just can’t.
To make a long story short I simply did not accept that my family was going to be sick all the time during this stage of growing our family.  One thing you need to know about me…I am extremely passionate about food and the effects, both positive and negative, it has on not only us as humans but on the planet as a whole. (I have been a plant based eater for over 5 years now along with my husband.)  What I have found through years of research is that we can, in fact, prevent and even reverse sickness altogether.  To get there initially sounded, quite honestly, like a lot of work…but I would argue, so is taking care of a family that is sick all the time! It all seemed too good to be true, but what I discovered has changed my family’s life.
My oldest son Ashur just turned 3 in September and has never been sick.  Let me say that again….he is 3 and has NEVER BEEN SICK.  He has been exposed to every sickness that goes around, and regularly attends day care at the gym, preschool, nursery at our church and lots and lots of play dates.  Our second son Tyson who will be 2 in January, was hospitalized at 2 months of age with a severe fever and an infection that kept us in the hospital for 4 days.  However at that age sickness like that is not something we could have prevented with diet, as he had not started solid food yet.  Since then he has yet to be sick.  I say all this to give mothers out there hope that through discipline, consistency, and the right tools, we can take control of our families health.
I will give you a few examples of things we have done in our kids’ diet that I believe deserve all the credit to their health.  Number one…eating whole, plant based foods.  Number two…my boys never ever get sugar outside of fruit.  Number three, know what foods and supplements are preventative to specific illnesses and incorporate those into their diet at the appropriate time…for example, during the fall when sicknesses start to emerge I increase the boys vitamin D dosage as well as adding coconut oil to their diet for its antiviral, antibacterial and anti-fungal properties (coconut oil is a huge part of their regular, daily diet as well).  When the stomach flu is going around I give them “Braggs”organic apple cider vinegar (it is important that the label reads “with the mother”) to increase their stomach acid therefore enabling them to kill off a virus before they get sick.  We also give our boys a probiotic regularly to build up the good bacteria in their gut, as well as a multi mineral/multivitamin daily.  These are just a few of the things we do, but from my experience they are the “big ones”.  I will quickly add that brand names and the manufacturing companies I listed above matter greatly, so do your research!
Here’s the deal: My kids eat food off the floor in public places, they share sippy cups with friends, and outside of bath times their hands never get washed…my point is…I am not a ‘germaphobe’ or paranoid about my kids getting germs from others…I simply believe that our kids can be exposed to sicknesses and not get sick due to our diet and supplemental support. ( I am not a doctor, and it is important to know and understand what, why, and how much you are giving your children.) But be your own advocate! Trust your instincts as a mother and see where it leads you! This is one path, but I believe there are many ways to end up with the same result.
Honestly, I could keep writing about this topic but I promised Leah I’d keep it brief;)
Good luck and know that I am rooting for you!

house update: the holidays are upon us!

the holidays are officially upon us here in plergville! we had a wonderful thanksgiving with our families here at our house….despite pauly and i getting what i can only assume was a flu bug of some sort.. but our families are amazing, and a good time was still had by all….i think. :)

sunday was the first night we were both feeling better so we decided to decorate the house for christmas!  i. (insert deep, manish voice) LOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOVE to decorate for christmas. and this being the first christmas in our new house we are/were extra pretty darn excited about it. *cue ‘josh groban holidays’ on pandora, hot cider, and every possible bulb, light, ribbon, and ornament we could find from the move.  here’s what we’ve done so far….and by so far i mean…i have yet to ‘just happen upon’ pier one and see what’s what.

(not great picture quality…this girl is asking for a real camera from santa this year…any suggestions on a good one??)

happy holidays!!

i took a little wreath and filled the center with a hurricane, candle and of course more cranberries! i think it's kinda cute..

i took a little wreath and filled the center with a hurricane, candle and of course more cranberries! i think it’s kinda cute..

it's the year of the 'ball' for our tree this year. i think we counted over 200 on the tree this year..

it’s the year of the ‘ball’ for our tree this year. i think we counted over 200 on the tree this year..

our little stockings.

our little stockings and antique sleigh

i went a little cranberry crazy this year, but i love the pop of color!

i went a little cranberry crazy this year, but i love the pop of color!

my mom picked up this adorable sparkly tree for me at west elm while she was here. sparkles are to christmas as air to life--necessary.

my mom picked up this adorable sparkly tree for me at west elm while she was here. sparkles are to christmas as air to life–necessary.

we are officially adults

it’s finally happened. at 28 and 29 years of age, pauly and i have officially entered adulthood. this year we hosted our very first thanksgiving. we planned out the menu, contacted family on what to bring, bought the turkey, and then, just to keep things really real….we both got the flu.


Nine people staying at our house, 15 coming for thanksgiving lunch, and that’s when mother nature ( i like to blame her during hard times..) decided to play a cruel joke on the plergs. she’s such a b*&%@.

and so…just like that….all hopes and dreams of feeling like a true adult were out the window and i cried for my mommy… who thankfully was just down the hall, and she, along with my aunts and mother in law took the reigns and made it a great day. thank. you. GOD. for family.

i will never forgot this first thanksgiving in our new house…..for all sorts of reasons….. but we got better quick, and still managed to have an awesome time with everyone. we have so SO much to be thankful for.

i didn’t get too many pictures due to feeling under the weather, but here’s a peek at how it went!

grandma grace and our cousin jillayne. two of my favs.

grandma grace and our cousin jillayne. two of my favs.

finally a kitchen where we all fit!

finally a kitchen where we all fit!

the spread! and this was just the appetizer table!

the spread! and this was just the appetizer table!

friday my cousins, aunt, and i went to macy's 8th floor winter wonderland! it was magical.

friday my cousins, aunt, and i went to macy’s 8th floor winter wonderland! it was magical.

and then we turned all the amazing leftovers into thanksgiving pizza. yeah. it was a good idea.

and then we turned all the amazing leftovers into thanksgiving pizza. yeah. it was a good idea.

life changer thursday (a day early!): angel’s story

hello friends! so, this installment of ‘life changer thursday’ is coming at ya a day early, but i figured with thanksgiving just around the corner (ie: tomorrow!) this would be a great way to start off the holiday! my friend angel so graciously agreed to share her incredible story with us and let me tell you, it’s truly inspirational. so enjoy today! eat lots of yummy foods tomorrow, and be blessed and inspired by angel’s story! happy thanksgiving!

angel’s story:
Since this is “Life Changer Thursday” here on Treasure and Heart, I thought I would share my story- and what I am most thankful for!
From July 2012 to June 2013 I suffered three miscarriages. My experience was a little different than the average infertility or recurrent miscarriage case. I have two healthy children whom were conceived easily. Both pregnancies were problem free, and both babies were born very healthy.  I could not figure out why my body wasn’t cooperating this time around. I would get more frustrated and weary as each month passed and each pregnancy ended. I was begging God for answers, praying for peace, trying to see the good, all while wrapping my head around the reality. It was a long year.
As a little back story, (hang on, this will all tie together at the end, I promise!) shortly after my almost three year old daughter (and youngest child), Veda, was born I was having heart palpitations. They were bothering me enough to where I made an appointment to see a doctor. Or…. my husband was sick of my complaining so he forced me see a doctor. :) The EKG and the 48 hours of heart monitoring came back normal. Even though I still had the palpitations I felt more at ease knowing the test results didn’t show any red flags.
As time passed I eventually decided to ask my chiropractor about my irregular heart beats. Dr. Josh suggested that he check my adrenal glands because stressed adrenal glands can cause irregular heart beats. Sure enough, they were stressed. He explained that the adrenal glands can become fatigued from physical stress, emotional stress, or intestinal stress (which would be like your body dealing with a food allergy). I just chalked the fatigued glands up to emotional and physical stress, as I was a new mother of two kids under two, not sleeping enough and having a lot to stress about. I took the cortisol supplement to repair my glands, and not only did my heart beats go back to normal, but a huge chunk of energy, that I didn’t know was missing, came back as well.
Problem solved. Maybe…
Fast forward to June 2012 my husband and I decided that we wanted to expand our family with another baby. To our surprise things were not happening as we had hoped and planned. Eleven months, two chemical pregnancies and one early miscarriage later we were both devastated and stumped.
After I experienced my first chemical pregnancy, followed by a miscarried at 7 weeks I met with an OB. I knew something wasn’t right. He first insisted both losses were flukes, but to keep me happy he offered to do a dye test. This is where they insert dye into the uterus to check for blockages or polyps. The fertilized egg could have been attaching to a polyp and not surviving which would have explained the losses. He also prescribed me progesterone (unfortunately, without doing any blood work to see if my levels were in fact low). Well, the dye test came back normal and the progesterone just made me really sick.
After the third loss, another chemical pregnancy, I went back in to see the OB. This time even more confused. The Dr. didn’t really know what to make of it, but ended up prescribing me Clomid (What?!). I decided not to take the prescription (I figured I’d just end up miscarrying multiples!) and went to a recurrent miscarriage specialist who offered a lot more help. She arranged more testing to check for blood clotting diseases, chromosomal defects, thyroid issues and low progesterone. All came back normal except for the thyroid.
The specialist had me see my family doctor regarding the thyroid labs. It wasn’t that my thyroid was just off, it was oddly off. Let’s just say one of my levels was so low that the doctor was questioning cancer. But seeing as I had no symptoms which would have included: drastic weight loss, swollen thyroid gland, anxiety, trouble sleeping, racing heart, he concluded that the lab results must have been wrong and suggest I retest.
The second lab results came back and although my thyroid stimulating hormone wasn’t as low, it was still low. With all of my other levels of my thyroid in normal range the doctor didn’t know what to make of it so he referred me an endocrinologist.
In the mean time I had been doing my own research. Of course, Google can either be a huge blessing or just create a ball of anxiety as I self diagnosed every little ailment I’ve ever experienced. I will say, I did not find any situations just like mine, but there were enough anecdotes about women suffering infertility due to gluten intolerances that I decided to omit gluten from my diet for a few months just as a last resort, plus I wasn’t able to get in to see the endocrinologist for 6 weeks anyway.
Two weeks after I cut out gluten (which, yes, I did have shaky withdrawals, it was nuts!) I decided to contact my chiropractor again and just get his take on my situation. And boy am I glad I asked for his help, but that he did!
Right away he confirmed I needed to stop eating gluten. He then explained:
“Your thyroid is like a canary in the mine, it’s the first gland that typically malfunctions when something is wrong in the body.  Over 50% of thyroid problems are autoimmune in nature, meaning they are caused when your immune system mistakes your thyroid cells for a foreign invader.  This most often occurs through a process called cellular mimicry in which the protein sequence of your thyroid cells looks similar to a food or pathogen you’ve become allergic to.  The offending allergen or pathogen can also create a situation where it binds to the thyroid turning it on or tuning it off.  
How this can relate to maintaining a viable pregnancy:
The last case I’ve heard of that reminds me of your situation was one of a gluten allergy causing miscarriages.  Not only was the female having thyroid issues but she was also undergoing autoimmune attack on her tissues of pregnancy because they share a protein sequence similar to the gluten molecule (anti-endometrial antibodies).
Ok, yes! things were starting to make sense. Maybe I wasn’t dying of cancer after all. The heart palpitations, the thyroid, the miscarriages, it was all coming together. Full circle, baby!
It takes the body 4-6 weeks to rid itself of gluten and often times up to six months (depending on the damage gluten has already done in the body) for everything to level out (thyroid, intestinal damage, etc..). Four weeks after going gluten free I got pregnant.
Hip hip horray!
I could tell this was different than the previous three positive pregnancy tests I had taken. The second line on the pregnancy test was dark and I started to actually feel pregnant around week five. This is the only time I totally welcomed and was excited about nausea and fatigue!
Now I am 18 weeks pregnant with a healthy baby. And my thyroid levels have all normalized.
This is a happy ending for us and for that I am so grateful. I really am. But I can’t help but be sad that this information is almost nowhere to be found for other struggling women. The specialist, the midwives, the OB, the family doctor  were oblivious to gluten even being an option for the wacky thyroid or the miscarriages. It makes me sad to know that the three losses could have easily been prevented, and even more sad to know that there are probably many other frustrated women out there who do not have answers.
My hope and prayer is that this information gets out and in turn women who are suffering from unexplained infertility or miscarriages at least get informed and tested for a gluten sensitivity. (As a side note, celiac disease and gluten sensitivity are not the same. You could pass the celiac blood test and still have a gluten sensitivity). Also, I totally understand that there are a number of reasons as to why women struggle to get pregnant or stay pregnant and gluten may only make up a small percent, BUT, if I can help one person it would make my long journey that much more worth it!
The moral of this story is…a lot of things… but mainly take care of your body and be your own biggest advocate. I choose to see the good in this because I know that although God didn’t take those babies from me, He does not waste a single experience. Had I not figured out and done something about my gluten sensitivity, I could have not only had a longer string of miscarriages, but also a long road ahead of me of health problems. And now with Leah opening up her blog to a friend who has a story to tell, I hope that you or someone you know will benefit from this information. Then that would be a season of suffering not wasted!

but what do you eat?!…vegan parmesan cheese, that’s what

a LOT of people have been asking me “okay, but what do you eat?!”  valid. and really, i don’t know most of the time…. honestly, most of the stuff i post on here is on our weekly dinner menu, but over the next few weeks i am going to try to take pictures of my meals as a sort of  food diary  so both of us can see what my diet consists of…..minus thanksgiving because no one should eat as much pie as i will on thursday….or at least no one should document it… :) so if you don’t follow me yet on instagram, now’s the time to do it!

okay, so.. YOU GUYS. OMG.  this parmesan cheese is RIDICULOUS! i got the recipe from my friend’s mom yesterday, and have been eating it literally by the spoonful ever since.  if you are looking for a delicious topping for…..well….anything….this magic little concoction is it!  its delish on eggs, pasta, as a soup topper, by itself… it’s easy, tastes great, and is waaaaaaaaaaay (listen) WAY better for you than whatever we are made to believe is in the green shaker bottle of parmesan from the grocery store. just. try. this!


1/2 cup raw brazil nuts

1 clove of garlic

2 T nutritional yeast (okay don’t give up on this right here bc you don’t know what this is. you can find it at most grocery stores in the health food section and it’s amazing. it’s chock full of B vitamins and it has a cheesy flavor that is really delish. i use it to make healthy mac and ‘cheese’, but that will be for another day..)

1/2 tsp salt

how to:

place all ingredients in a food processor and blend until it looks like bread crumbs. i store mine in the fridge and it keep for at least 2 weeks…if i don’t eat it all first.

fyi: in a pinch i have used other nuts, like almonds, but brazil nuts are the best, if possible.

i could eat this every. single. day.

i could eat this every. single. day.

you'll love it! i promise.

you’ll love it! i promise.


house update: one picture at a time…

okay okay…i promise to have a whole SLEW of pictures for you to see of the ol’ homestead sometime soon, but for now…i am only getting one room  area done at a time. today’s installment: the dining room……aaaaannd it’s still missing some chairs….but it’s all i got for ya folks, sorry.

this weekend will  take  more pictures of the bedrooms, bathrooms, kitchen, and office..i will….i will….i will…. it’s actually good motivation for me to get this place in shape…..

happy weekend!

we LOVE the chairs we found from world market! and the bench was free from friends! win. win.

we LOVE the chairs we found from world market! and the bench was free from friends! win. win.

ok this has nothing to do with the house but pauly gave me a housewarming present and i had to share it. monogrammed pj's from j crew...and the sweetest card ever. he's THEEE best.

ok this has nothing to do with the house but pauly gave me a housewarming present and i had to share it. monogrammed pj’s from j crew…and the sweetest card ever. he’s THEEE best.

not great quality, but..come on......i mean...come on......

not great quality, but..come on……i mean…come on……

creamy homestyle pot pie

i mean, let’s get real: is there anything more comforting than pot pie? it’s warm, it’s creamy, it’s just delish in a dish. and lucky for you, this one’s good for you! :) so eat to your heart’s content. well. be reasonable. moderation is always the key. but really. go hog-wild. this is perfect for the holidays too! A nice big scoop of creamy pot pie goes well with any thanksgiving meal!


1 butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and diced

1-2 sweet potatoes, peeled and diced

3-4 redskin potatoes unpeeled and diced

1 large white onion chopped

1 cup chopped carrots

2 medium zuchinni chopped

5-6 garlic cloves, quartered

2 tbs garlic powder

4-6 tbs olive oil

salt and pepper to taste

frozen gluten free pie crust, thawed ( i like the ‘immaculate’ brand-actually it’s sold at target!)


2 cups almond milk

1/2 c. white or wheat flour (or for a gluten free option use 1/4 to 1/2 cup of cornstarch dissolved in water to create a paste then add to milk)

2 tbs garlic powder

1 vegetarian bullion cube

salt and pepper to taste

how to:

preheat oven to 400 degrees

in a large glass baking dish, or two baking pans, combine butternut squash, sweet potatoes, redskin potatoes, onion, carrots, zucchini, and garlic. cover in olive oil, garlic powder, salt and pepper and toss together, making sure all the veggies are coated. bake for 45 minutes or until all veggies are soft and starting to brown.


over medium heat, whisk milk, flour, garlic powder, bullion cube, salt and pepper together until free of lumps. allow to thicken over medium heat for 2-3 minutes, or until thick, adding more flour/cornstarch  if needed to thicken into a creamy sauce.

when veggies are done roasting and still warm, pour sauce over veggies and top with thawed pie crust. (if veggies were roasted on two baking sheets, pour all veggies into one glass baking dish first).  i usually need to roll the dough a little further to fit the pan and cover the veggies completely.

bake according to the pie crust directions, until the crust is golden brown. serve warm!

yes. it is as good as it looks...... even better.

ah. sweet comfort.

and a close up of the goodness, for good measure...

and a close up of the goodness, for good measure…

life changer thursday: eleanor’s story

guest post! guest post! GUEST POST!!  i am SO excited to announce a new event happening on my blog! “life changer thursday” will be a reoccurring event here….until i run out of guest posters! :)  this will be a chance for friends, family, strangers, to post about how making a change in their life, well….changed their life! it may be in the food department, exercise, seeing a really great therapist (all advice welcome!!), dating, marriage, kids, or any other event or change that has made a positive impact in your life. i just want this to be a time where people are encouraged and motivated, and i think hearing other peoples’ stories can be so powerful.  so to start, my friend eleanor has volunteered to get things going! she has an incredible story of overcoming her chronic illness, and i can’t wait to share it with you! be inspired! and if you have an inspiring or life changing story to tell, email me! treasureandheart@gmail.com

so without further ado:  eleanor’s story: 

Question: Have you ever really, I mean really looked at all the choices there are in the local grocery store? Let’s even just say, for cereal (yeah, that’s right, cereal)? Stores reserve an ENTIRE aisle just for cereal. And I mean a looooong aisle too, not your tiny-pack-everything-into-one-aisle-Trader-Joes-style aisle. We are talking about an aisle so long you have to squint to see the end. Now, imagine looking through all those boxes and trying to find just one box that doesn’t have sugar in it. I dare you. Double dare. Before we continue here, let me explain my story:

My healthy food lifestyle story, (yes that is a fancy way of saying ‘diet’), is really, truly, a life change. Not a fad, or a number I was trying to reach on that horrible scale I never should have bought, but a big change, a hard change, and the best change I ever made.

I don’t really know where to start, so let me just put you right into the thick of my thoughts or else this might turn into a novel:

I have always been an active, healthy person.   I grew-up in a house where we made all our own meals, there was never a pop in the fridge or cookies in a cookie jar (were cookie jars real or was it just a song?). We were the “co-op grocery store” shoppers, the “homemade bread” kind of family. But, then I went to college. Cafeteria food entered my world, and I LOVED it. King size rice crispy bars 24/7, late night Mac and Cheese, and of course as a poor college kid I didn’t want to spend more than $40 at the grocery store every two week, if I could help it.  Well, as a result, my stomach started to ache. You know, just the usual ache here and there, the once in a while ache from stuffing my stomach so full I could burst, or the occasional ache of a balloon in the stomach. This is normal right? That is what I thought for years. Until…Drum roll……

I had a baby. Now don’t get me wrong, he is the cutest little blue eyed baby the world ever did see! But, well, he gave me Chronic Hives. Babies do that sometimes (something to look forward to, those of you who don’t yet have kids!).  I’ve known moms who have ended up needing glasses after being pregnant, moms whose hair turned curly, and even moms who were blessed with perfect skin after the blessed event (I hate these women!) Aaaaaand, then there was me. I was blessed with Chronic Hives. Never heard of such a thing? Yeah, me neither, until I finally went into an allergist to solve my “hive mystery”. I had been breaking out in hives EVERY NIGHT for 4 months all over my stomach, legs, back, and arms after my sweet boy was born.  Go ahead, Google Chronic Hives, it is legit.  Overall, unfortunately, my doctor didn’t have any good answers or advice on how to help me aside from taking drugs, which I wasn’t a fan of since I was breastfeeding. Frustrated and defeated, I called my mom for help (she is a research queen). She read that Chronic Hives can be caused by such triggers as certain types of foods, stress, lack of sleep, and exhaustion. Oh yeah, did I mention I just had a baby? Stress, lack of sleep….it all started making sense.  But the biggest trigger for me was FOOD.

FOOD. I was tired of breaking out in hives. I needed to change my food choices.  I took a deep breath, and then a REALLY deep breath, and cut out ALL sugars (with the exception of honey) ALL processed foods and ALL grains. Now listen: the first 3 weeks were horrible. I love to eat, and I now felt hungry every second of the day. I did eat, I ate all the time, but my body wasn’t satisfied. My body and mind were going through sugar withdrawals, grain withdrawals, Trader-Joe’s-dark-chocolate-sea-salt-covered-almond withdrawals! But I had to do this. I was tired of my skin feeling like fire every night. And before I knew it, there it was: the light at the end of the tunnel! And it was BRIGHT! My hives stopped. And on top of that, even more exciting things started to happen. My stomach seemed to disappear, as in, I couldn’t feel any more aches, no more bloating, no more uncomfortable ‘jean button popping after meals’ kind of thing. My energy stayed up throughout the day. WOW, it was amazing, and still is amazing. Sometimes I take the plunge and enjoy that big glass of sugary red wine or a mouth-watering piece of truffle chocolate cake but the aftermath always reminds me of why I made my lifestyle change. Uncomfortable aches, itchy skin, sleepy eyes and food cravings, be gone! I am now fueling my body for the long haul.

So I started off talking about cereal, but I could replace “cereal” with “t.v. dinners”, “bags of chips”, “frozen pizzas”, “Hamburger Helper”, or any and all of the processed foods that tempt us daily.  We are in a country where sugar and processed foods are in every food aisle we walk down. As for me, I am sticking to the perimeter of the grocery store where most of the real food lies, and am loving my hive free skin, my ache free stomach and knowing that I am fueling my body with the good stuff that will keep me healthy!  You too, have this same ability to only consume foods that are REAL, in their most natural form, but it is not always easy. Most rewarding things in life aren’t easy, and are usually the hardest to achieve. But that’s what makes it SO rewarding.

So ladies and gents you now know why I finally changed my lifestyle, starting with food. A lot of good info goes in one ear and out the other, but our ‘instant gratification button’ we Americans have just won’t cut it when it comes to health. It takes time. But feeling good over the course of your life, is time well spent.

yes, i really do believe this

it’s been super stressful around here lately….packing, cleaning, moving, unpacking, more cleaning….’discussions’ with the builders on trim colors, furniture shopping….*sigh*. all good, all fun, all such blessings, but all stressful for me. and my body doesn’t handle stress well.

as a sufferer with IBD, crohns, or colitis, you may well know that stress can be a MAJOR trigger when it comes to our delicate G.I.’s.  and for me, it most definitely is just that. usually, my symptoms or a ‘flare’ will happen after a stressful time period. for example, when we packed up, moved across the country, lived in a new city, paul was in graduate school, i had to find a new job, quitting my first job there, finding a new job, being the sole provider for us while pauly was in school, hoping he would find a job, waiting on call backs from his interviews, and then packing up and moving back across the country: no flares. totally symptom free. it was glorious. but then…living back home where we are familiar with everything and everyone and love every inch of this state and our home: one of my worst flares to date. …..makes total sense….(read: WTF?!!)

if you have read my previous posts on my battle with UC you will know it was then (right after we moved back to MN) that i sought out natural medicine to help calm my symptoms and heal my colon. it was also at this time (a little before we moved back, actually) that i got really serious about my diet. i decided to try becoming a vegetarian because i had read that often times UC sufferers do well with cutting out meat (fatty, red meat especially). these meats are hard for anyone’s colon to break down and digest, but with UC-ers it’s extra taxing on our guts. ……and you know…it really worked. i noticed a LOT fewer stomach aches and pains, i slept MUCH better, and i just felt really good. it was then that this thought popped into my head: “huh…maybe what i put into my body…..(wait for it…) actually affects how i feel…….” (insert angelic chorus!) and i am not kidding when i say that this thought has changed my life. (and pauly’s…but we will get to that later…)

through the support of some friends, i really started to dig into the idea healing myself with healthy food (and natural medicine).  i started paying more attention to how i felt after eating certain foods, and then started adjusting my diet accordingly. now listen: i said i started paying attention, meaning, i did NOT overnight become a vegan. just to be extra clear. this has been a lifestyle change, and one in which, i am still in process. but this slow life change (notice i did not say ‘diet’) has led to other areas of ‘health-seeking’, if you will. i started seeing a natural pathologist for my flares, and found out exercising on the regular is actually a good thing too….(who knew…) one good healthy choice begets, another good healthy choice, begets another and so on and so on…

so now on days when i eat cookies and don’t work out, i know 1) this isn’t how most of my days go, so i don’t need to beat myself up about it 2) i know what healthy choices to make to get myself back on track and 3) i can look back and see how far i’ve come as motivation to keep going. but again: at first i did beat myself up for making poor eating choices..i didn’t have any idea what healthy choices to make to get on track…and i couldn’t look back on any progress to keep going…. all i could do at the beginning is make the next healthy choice. sometimes only one a day.  (or, let’s get real, sometimes none a day….hello PMS?!)

so, anyway… what i have been learning lately (over the past 2 years or so..) is that life causes stress, yes. but junky foods stress my body too. and food stress, as well as environmental stress, is proving to have the same affect on my UC and really my body in general…..does that make sense?

so when people ask me (and  a LOT of people do) ‘do you really think your diet is linked to your symptoms?’ or ‘do you really think your diet helps alleviate your flares?’ my answer is always: ‘without a doubt. i really do believe that.’

so get out there and eat something delicious and nutritious! for the health of it!

amen and amen.

amen and amen.