Wellness begins with the recognition that our body is a whole system. Everything we do affects us. Our physical health is directly impacted by what we ingest and put on our skin. Our mental health has a lot to do with what we consume, and keeping stress levels in check is imperative. I believe that spiritual health also impacts our well-being. Deep within each of us is a desire to feel loved. Making choices that are loving toward ourselves is the first step in the process of bringing us into mind/body/spirit alignment.
Now grab a cup of coffee or cacao and brace yourself for a myriad of information ranging from farming practices to just how yummy eating healthy food can be.
It’s time to go back to the way humans have thrived for generations prior to the industrialization of food. I don’t buy into diets, fads, or trendy new books on how to lose weight. After 30 years of trying different things and never feeling satisfied, I discovered that our bodies function best when we eat nourishing foods. At almost 40, I’m happier with myself than I’ve ever been. I got to this point by eating plenty of good fats, tons of produce, and animal products raised in open fields. Eating this way has resulted in consistent weight, higher energy levels, a clear mind, and the knowledge that I’m giving my body what it needs. I know I’m exactly as I should be.
When it comes to food, we are all a little different. What works well for some may cause discomfort and even illness in others. My intention with this information is to be as inclusive as possible, and to simply share what I’ve found to be Truth. Food, like skincare, speaks a language that our bodies either do or don’t understand. The body’s response—whether positive or negative—and our willingness to listen is the first step to healing and harmonizing.
This guide is a blueprint for making healthy changes that will lead to wellness. You can move slowly and do this over time, or you can throw everything out and start fresh. Both are good, and a step in the right direction. Keep reading to dig a little deeper.
Note: This information is by no means a comprehensive list; it’s meant to serve as a starting point.
Some of the most inflammatory foods are dairy, gluten, and refined sugars. If you’re facing serious health or skin issues, eliminating these things entirely and incorporating a living probiotic into a diet full of fresh organic produce and good fats will significantly contribute to the healing process.
Produce is by far the most important part of a healthy diet! Eat any and all fruits and vegetables as long as they’re grown without the use of pesticides. Buy from small, local, independent farms or stores you know hold a high standard. Organic certification is expensive so small farms sometimes just can’t afford it. What’s most important is that the produce you buy is unsprayed and whenever possible, local. Another great way to boost the nutritional value of your produce is to grow it yourself. You can start small, with a planter full of herbs, or plant some things you love to eat in a raised bed. No matter how you do it, make sure to ‘eat the rainbow’ because your body thrives on variety.
The human body needs living foods. Organic and local produce is LIFE. If local isn’t available to you, most likely you can find organic. Pesticides are just no good. They’re damaging to us, and they’re devastating to the soil. The life is in the soil—vitamins and minerals—and this is one of the reasons that big agriculture in this country is wreaking havoc on the land. Monocropping, or monoculture farming is the practice of planting the same crop on the same land year after year. This approach produces higher yields, which is cost-effective, but leads to an almost complete depletion of nutrients in the soil (therefore the food), due in no small part to the abundance of pesticides sprayed on these crops.
One alternative approach is something called biodynamic farming. Treating animals, crops, and soil as a single system, much in the way our bodies are a system. Biodynamic farming practices are intended to “restore, maintain and enhance ecological harmony.” For example, when we plant complementary crops near one another, certain plants can act as a deterrent to pests, protecting neighboring crops. Cows move through and graze on grass, they fertilize the soil, followed by chickens and so on. The yields are smaller with this approach to farming, but the resulting richness of the soil, and nutrient density of the foods produced is far more than anything you’ll find at a conventional grocer.
Grains are wonderful but they must be prepared carefully in order to unlock their valuable nutrient content.
All purpose flour
100% whole wheat flour
White whole wheat
Modern wheat is in everything, and aside from eliminating refined sugars from your diet, this will prove to be the most challenging. Embrace that, and know that you will experience wonderful things once this is out of your life.
Other ancient grains low in gluten content
Tip: Grains should be soaked, sprouted when you can find it, or sprout the grains yourself.
Eating real sourdough bread is a great replacement for many bread products because it’s had a long fermentation which breaks down the antinutrients and aids in digestibility.
All grains, nuts, and seeds contain toxic antinutrients that block the absorption of vitamins and minerals. Changing the way we prepare and eat these is one of the hardest things for people. I get it, but there’s a way to still enjoy your bread and pasta! Choosing sourdough, making pasta from einkorn flour at home, or choosing an alternative pasta made from quinoa.
Gluten-free diets are all the rage. Unfortunately, gluten-free packaged foods have problematic ingredients intended to mimic the gluten in wheat. I recommend against replacing traditional gluten foods with processed gluten-free foods, and instead, beginning to look at what you consider ‘nourishing foods’ in a new way.
Here’s one way to properly prepare oats:
Soak oats overnight in warm water with a little bit of whey or milk kefir.
After 7–24 hours, cook on the stove top (this takes less than 5 minutes when soaked).
Add plenty of grass-fed butter or cream*, maple syrup if desired, and enjoy!
The result? A densely nutritious food that without being soaked could have caused digestive upset with little to no available nutrients. *A good fat is necessary for proper absorption of vitamins and minerals! Use grass-fed butter liberally.
Baking and eliminating refined flours
I used to make my own sourdough bread from a starter (a living culture) using rye flour. I used hard red winter wheat bought in bulk and would then soak, sprout, dehydrate, and grind it into flour myself. I did this for years. I LOVE homemade sourdough bread. If I were on death row I would request a loaf, a toaster, grass-fed butter, and local raw honey. I would eat the whole thing and die—full of happiness. If you’re keen on mastering the art of making bread, this is the way to go. You don’t have to be a maniac like me and do all of it. You can purchase a sourdough starter and use flour from the store.
It’s a spiritual act, making bread. But it takes patience, tenacity, and desire.
If you do bake at home, track down Einkorn flour online. It’s an ancient grain grown in Europe, so not a product of monoculture farming. It’s much lower in gluten content than wheat found in the states, therefore has less of a likelihood of leading to gut and digestive issues. Knowing now how I love bread, you’ll understand how committed I am to feeling great when I share that I no longer eat it. Once or twice a year I’ll eat a cookie or cupcake made with einkorn flour, but I choose feeling wonderful over the bread indulgence these days.
This is why the 80/20 rule. I understand that this kind of information can be overwhelming, and maybe even off-putting. That is not my goal. I want you to have some of the information necessary to drive you toward live-giving foods, but I also want you to feel that making healthy choices is accessible and even surprisingly easy.
If you bake at home
Soaking whole nuts, grains, beans, and seeds, takes them from being indigestible, and transforms them into a nutrient-dense food full of enzymes and minerals. Bake by incorporating these into your recipes, and if you use flour make sure it’s organic. Better yet, use Einkorn flour in a 1:1 ratio. You can even find sprouted Einkorn flour online.
If you buy from the store
It might take a little searching, but you will find real sourdough bread and even sprouted breads on the shelves of many natural grocery stores. You may want to eliminate crackers, muffins, and pasta made with refined flours. Avoiding refined flours is one of the most effective ways to reduce inflammation in the body.
Eliminating refined flours from your diet may be hard at first. It’s everywhere, which is all the more reason to stop eating it. It isn’t doing good things for your gut, mental clarity, energy levels, or skin.
All conventional non-organic dairy products
Low and nonfat milks
Corn and soy-fed dairy (the label should always read grass-fed)
Important: Ultra-pasteurized milk products have a shelf-life of several months, and insects won’t touch them. In this state, they are no longer considered food.
Non-homogenized grass-fed cows milk and cream (raw if possible), always full-fat and organic, and goats milk products from a trusted source.
Those with sensitivities to dairy can often tolerate ghee, clarified butter, and fermented milk products such as milk kefir.
It can be difficult to find grass-fed yogurt, and when you do, it may contain refined sugar. This always boggles my mind. However, goats milk yogurt is great if you can’t find grass-fed cow’s milk yogurt, and even whole organic yogurt (not grass-fed) containing living cultures is okay, but if yogurt is your breakfast every morning and you can find grass-fed, use that.
Plain yogurt is best so you can add your own healthy sweetener and avoid refined sugars.
With what I know of the almond industry I wouldn’t choose almond milk. Cashew milk, hemp seed milk, and hazelnut milk are my favorites. Avoid soy like the plague. Rice milk is acceptable, however with all of these, if you buy them from the store they’re going to contain extra ingredients you might want to avoid. If you have a vitamix and a nut milk bag, they’re darn easy to make at home.
Eating healthily is far from denying ourselves delicious food. It’s about changing the way we see food. Replace store bought lite whipped cream with grass-fed heavy cream and take three minutes to whip it yourself. This takes something naughty and turns it into a nourishing and delicious treat with zero guilt. Add it to your coffee, serve it to your kids with organic berries. Good fats satisfy, and our bodies know exactly what to do with them.
Dairy is a big business. You may not like some of what I’m about to say, but hear me out. If you’ve gotten this far I’m guessing you want to know the truth about food and you have an inkling you’ve been misguided. When I started on this path I was in shock as I discovered how money was the driving force behind nearly all of what we’ve been programmed to think about food. This is the start of stripping away all of that and looking honestly at what our bodies need.
As I mentioned at the top of this page, dairy can be an inflammatory food for some. A lot of the issues with dairy are a direct result of the industry and its methods of production. Like with grains, studies show that many cultures throughout history thrived on grass-fed, whole, raw milks. If you can find a local dairy, or if you have access to a natural food store that carries grass-fed, raw, organic milk, that is the milk to buy.
All dairy should be grass-fed. Cows that are fed corn and soy are eating a diet that isn’t natural to them, in addition to those crops almost certainly being grown from soil that is void of all nutrients. In some cases conventional dairies have been known to fatten cows up on a diet of skittles, or worse.
Resources: I’m a big fan of Sally Fallon and The Weston A. Price Foundation. There is a wealth of information on the Weston A. Price website for more on this topic.
This one is easy. Cage free means nothing. Natural means nothing. The only eggs you want are pastured, organic, non-GMO, vegetarian fed, and free from corn and soy.
If you live in a small town buy them from the farmer’s market, or better yet, your neighbor. If you’re curious about owning chickens, I’ve done it. The eggs were the most delicious I’ve ever had and keeping chickens is fun and didn’t require too much work.
I’m deeply saddened by the state of animal agriculture in this country. If you’re against eating meat, I get it. If you do eat meat but you want to be more conscious of what you’re eating and how it’s produced read this section.
Conventionally raised meats:
Chicken or any fowl
Organic fowl raised without antibiotics or hormones and allowed to roam freely outside where they eat insects and grasses exposed to sunlight.
Wild-caught fish (use caution due to high levels of heavy metals—and now plastics—in our oceans).
Grass-fed and finished local beef raised in a humane environment.
Wild game, and don’t forget to include organ meats and marrow when you eat these good meats.
There are many beef farmers in this country who take a respectful approach to animal agriculture. I found one in my area and once a year purchase 1/4 of a cow and store it in the freezer.
One of the healthiest most nutritious foods you can make with very little hands on time is bone broth. I have huge jars of this stored in my freezer and at the first sign of illness in my family, I thaw one out and start feeding it to everyone.
“Faster, fatter, bigger, cheaper.” That’s the motto in modern animal agriculture. Just sit with that for a minute.
Eating conventional meats is not only detrimental to our own health, but also to the health of the environment. Animal waste emits hundreds of harmful gasses and it’s a huge business, which equates to power. When produce is recalled for E. coli outbreaks, the source is generally irrigation runoff from animal agriculture. But, it’s the spinach we hear about, not the meat industry. This is no accident. Because of the use of antibiotics and hormones, many chickens develop cancers. These meats are rarely discarded. This list could be exhaustive, and I haven’t even addressed the treatment of these animals.
We can do better.
With every dollar we spend, we cast our vote in favor of big agriculture or small, local, and ethically driven farmers. No matter where you are in this process, asking questions is key. If you feel overwhelmed or don’t understand something on a label, or if you’re not sure about the meat at a restaurant, ask. You’ll learn that people want to help. If enough people ask the local coffee shop if their milk is organic, eventually they may start offering it.
I eat meat, but I buy it in a way that I can feel good about. I support local, I care deeply about the process, and I take time when I prepare it.
All of these sugars are refined or cut with other ingredients. They’re lacking minerals, so our bodies treat them as a poison which causes inflammation. They’re in everything, so have patience with yourself as you learn to get them out of your life for good.
Replace with (organic):
Coconut sugar (replace with this in a 1:1 ratio for white sugar)
Raw local honey
Grade A dark amber maple syrup
Some people like stevia, although I find it has an unpleasant aftertaste reminiscent of diet soda. But, you do you.
Health begins and ends in the gut. We need to eat fermented foods and drink fermented beverages in order to propagate our intestinal flora with beneficial bacteria. There are several easy ways to do this, and many delicious, slightly more involved ways. Below are the things I do that are easy.
Living probiotics (buy from a natural grocery store in the refrigerated section and keep them refrigerated) take daily.
Truly fermented sauerkraut, pickles, kimchi, kombucha, kefir, and if you’re feeling adventurous, look up the recipe for fermented beet kvass. Arguably the healthiest drink on the planet.
Salt and fat
I love salt. I put it on everything. I use Redmond Real Salt because it hasn’t been refined and still contains minerals. Minerals communicate to our bodies where to deliver nutrients. They say to reduce salt intake, but they’re talking about white iodized table salt.
It’s no wonder there are so many diet fads when real foods have been refined to the point that our bodies no longer understand them.
Did you know that fat slows the absorption of nutrients, allowing us to feel fuller, longer? I guess that’s why trendy diets I tried over the years never left me feeling satisfied. Fat feeds our brains and our bodies in the most glorious way. I never felt fit until I started eating fat. The icing on the cake (homemade organic cream cheese frosting, of course) is that I’m healthier and in better shape now than I was 20 years ago.
Avoiding inflammatory foods
One of the problems with our current culture is that we eat foods that are highly inflammatory. We don’t prepare grains for proper digestion, we refine the minerals out of our foods, we pasteurize and homogenize, and we rarely-if ever-consume fermented foods and beverages. Our bodies respond to refined foods like they’re poison, triggering an inflammatory response; a healthy response intended to rid our bodies of the invader. The problem is, our food culture is full of these foods, leading to an epidemic of chronic inflammation, disorders, and disease.
I used to believe that fat made us fat. Like many who shopped next to me at the local food cooperatives, I thought soy was a good alternative to cow’s milk and I knew nothing about grains or sugars. I chose organic when possible, and although I never ate reduced-fat processed foods, I didn’t understand how completely damaging the modern western diet is.
Like with most things, you can get closest to the truth when you follow the money. The revolving door of corruption and greed that dominates the relationship between huge corporations and government agencies, who’s primary obligation it is to protect us, is astounding. I encourage you to do your own research in this area.
Where to shop (and how)
Farmer’s markets are amazing because you can speak to the people who grow your food. The next best thing would be your local food cooperative. If neither of those are available, a larger chain like Natural Grocers or Whole foods is a good option. Maybe you can’t buy your whole grocery list at these places because of cost, but produce alone is probably doable. I shop at three different grocers (plus farmer’s markets) for the things I need.
Trader Joe’s is a good source for some things. They say they don’t allow GMOs and hopefully that’s true. If you can’t get produce at any of the above listed places, Trader Joe’s is an okay option as long as you buy from the organic section. They have a ton of processed foods, most of which contain refined sugar and wheat, so I’d avoid all that. But you can find sprouted bread, raw organic nuts and seeds, some grass-fed cheeses, goats milk yogurt, kombucha, and organic frozen produce.
Many conventional grocery stores now have a natural food section and an organic produce section as well.
A great way to know you’re buying healthy food is to shop small and local and memorize a few things about what shouldn’t be on an ingredient label. You can save yourself a lot of heartache by shopping at farmers markets, your local co-op, and health food stores. These are the places I’ve shopped for 15 years, and still, about 1/2 of their offerings contain harmful ingredients. However, businesses like these hold a standard that makes them the first line of defense in your shopping experience, thus, eliminating a lot of the most troublesome offenders.
A note about GMOs
GMOs (genetically modified organisms) are a hot topic. These altered foods are tested on us and are not labeled. You know you’re eating GMO free foods when they have the NON-GMO PROJECT certification, which should be found on the front label of processed foods. If you shop at conventional markets, I doubt you will see this certification much at all. However, this certification doesn’t mean the food is safe. Even non-GMO products can contain meat that has been raised on growth steroids and antibiotics. Conventionally grown produce with residue from ‘biosolids’ essentially, toxic sewage waste, can be Non-GMO. Yes, there is actually a practice in conventional farming in the US of fertilizing crops with sewage. The safest way to ensure you aren’t eating these things is to always buy certified ORGANIC (unless of course you’re buying direct from a local farm and you know they don’t employ such methods).
A few of my favorite things
We’re all bio-individual. No one diet will fit every person’s needs. Despite that fact, I’ve listed the foods and supplements I eat regularly that make me feel great.
It took me 36 years to dial in what works best for my body. Many who have found what works for them subscribe to the 80/20 rule. I’m in the camp of 90/10 if only because I have two young children and don’t find myself eating out at restaurants much these days. The numbers refer to a balancing act between making healthy choices and veering off course. Having naughty things on occasion is great. We miss the point if we can’t have grace for ourselves, allowing our ‘life of wellness’ to become a point of stress. I have limited time, and although I find it more comfortable now to spend money on organic foods, I’ve been doing this for a decade, and I made it happen even when at times it was a financial strain. It’s about priorities. We focus on, make time for, and spend money on the things that matter to us. Food is an investment in yourself. It’s health insurance, and it’s worth every penny.
Note: When I reference the 80/20 rule, I don’t mean fast food. In no world is that ever going to be considered part of a life of wellness. The 20% ‘naughty’ is in reference to things like refined grains and sugar (lava cake at a party), one too many cocktails, or a burger and fries at a place you know uses conventional meat and rancid oils for deep frying. Sounds really bad, and it is if these foods form the foundation of your diet. But if your foundation is organic food rich in vitamins and minerals, you’ve armed your body with the defense mechanisms to deal with small detours here and there.
Here are a few of my favorite things (all organic):
Every kind of produce, especially while in season, and local whenever possible
My morning cereal without fail (ingredients listed below)
Cacao in my morning drink (I quit coffee years ago because of the jitters)
Meats that are ethically raised and always pastured and organic (most to least: chicken, wild-caught fish, beef, wild game)
Grass-fed whole organic and local milk (raw when I won’t be heating it), grass-fed butter, grass-fed raw cream, very rarely I will enjoy a fancy cheese
Rice. It took me years to realize that rice is fine for me. I eat rice several times a week with a huge serving of sauteed vegetables and either some chicken or an egg on top and tons of fresh herbs!
Sprouted seeds and nuts for an easy snack
Plantain chips as a cheating snack
When I want a treat and I don’t feel like making homemade ice cream or pudding, I LOVE sprouted JEM NUT BUTTERS. If you don’t know about these yet, get some asap. Sold online and probably in your local health food store. Scoop it straight out of the jar for a scrumptious, guilt-free treat
Garden Of Live living probiotic daily
Many different fermented vegetables
Vitamin D3 & K2 (together)
Vital Earth Minerals daily added to my huge water bottle
Organic turmeric supplement (anti-inflammatory)
Berkey filtered water (about 100 oz per day)
I’ve found that beans, most grains, and cheese cause me problems so I avoid them. Sometimes I veer off course in the interest of having fun, and that’s absolutely fine. I live this way so I can feel good. Having grace for slight deviations is something I’ve learned with age.
Nutritious foods to make
Bones have been prepared and consumed in various forms by cultures throughout history. They’re full of silicon, sulphur, and phosphorous, trace minerals, glucosamine and chondroitin sulphates, unadulterated gelatin which helps with cartilage, bones, and joints, skin, digestive tract, and muscles including the heart.
Here’s how I make it:
You can freeze chicken carcasses from dinners over several months, then put them in a big pot of ice water with carrots, celery, onion, and a splash of apple cider vinegar (you can also use a slow cooker).
Bring to a boil, skim the foam off the top, cover, and let simmer for 24-72 hours.
In the last hour of cooking, throw in a bunch or two of italian parsley.
Strain, cool, then freeze. This makes an excellent base for nourishing soups, liquid for cooking rice, or even a meal in itself.
Warm the broth, then add green onion, avocado, brewers yeast, and mineral salt for a nutritious and delicious snack or meal!
I make a nettle infusion once a week. I source dried organic nettles in bulk from a farm in the Pacific Northwest. Quality is key. Don’t purchase your herbs online unless you’re buying directly from the farm.
Here’s how I make it:
Place 2–3 ounces of dried nettles in a two-quart jar and pour boiling water over the top.
Stir with a wooden spoon, top off with water and cap tightly.
Allow to sit on the counter 4–12 hours.
Strain, then place in the fridge and consume over the next 5 days.
Note: Capping the jar means you’re trapping in all the steam, allowing the nutrients to remain in the liquid rather than evaporating away.
You can add honey and drink as a sweet tea, or consume as-is, which I’ve come to love. The herbal taste of this densely nutritious plant has grown on me. Even my four year old loves it, and frequently demonstrates just how fast it makes her by taking sips and then running around the house at lightning speed!
Bee’s Bootcamp Cereal
I’ve posted about this extensively on Instagram. What’s funny about this, is that despite all my advice about soaking grains, I don’t soak this cereal. I eat it raw. I know… However, in my defense, the purpose of this cereal is to provide slow-release energy (oats + fat from whole milk) and encourage regularity. This is a topic I haven’t touched on here, but it’s one of the most important aspects of health. Proper and frequent elimination. The best way to get toxins out of our bodies is to visit the restroom regularly. Otherwise, they escape through our sweat glands, which means they’ve visited every organ in our body on the way out. This cereal is delicious and nutritious and it makes you feel energized and full for a very long time.
I don’t measure the ingredients, but I’ve listed them in order of most to least. All ingredients are organic and raw.
Shredded coconut (unsweetened)
Flax seeds (always whole as flax meal tends to go rancid quickly)
Tip: Store all seeds and nuts in the fridge or freezer to help prevent rancidity.
Mix everything together and store in jars in your fridge. I eat two handfuls every morning with raw, grass-fed, full-fat organic milk, and sometimes I add a banana.
This way of eating opens up a whole world of opportunities! You can make delicious desserts that you can feel great about. You can go out and try restaurants that otherwise might not have been on your radar. You can expand your horizons by shopping at places where people are living a conscious and intentional life.
And there’s more…
Take a look at the cleaning products under your sink. It’s a great way to eliminate unnecessary toxins in the home. Buy cleaning products at your local health food store, and use baking soda and vinegar for everything from laundry to bathrooms. Use natural laundry detergents (I use Country Save), freshen your home using essential oil diffusers, burning white sage and palo santo, and open the doors and windows regularly to let the fresh air inside.
We spend half of our lives in bed. Unfortunately, beds and bedding these days are full of toxins. Did you know that wool is naturally fire retardant, anti-microbial, highly absorbent, and temperature regulating? Beds made of standard foam and fire retardants off-gas for many years and we just don’t want to breathe that in. Beds made with natural latex, wool, and organic cotton last for a long time and are so much better for us. I’ve used bedding made of linen and organic cotton, latex pillows, kapok, buckwheat hulls, and wool for years.
Just recently I started experiencing a lot of back pain. After careful research I found that one of the best beds for spine alignment is one that’s been used by the Japanese for thousands of years: a genuine shikibuton on tatami mats. 100% organic wool and cotton, no springs, no chemicals. I have a natural latex topper, an organic wool mattress pad, and 100% linen sheets, a heavy wool comforter, and a linen duvet. I’m now getting the best sleep of my life, pain free!
If you’re reading this you’re already aware that skin is our largest organ. Using clean skincare is just as important as eating real, organic food. Exposing your skin to real sunshine daily is also a boon to health. If you know you’ll be in the sun for more than 15 minutes, using a non-nano zinc oxide sunscreen is important. I love Josh Rosebrook Tinted Nutrient Day Cream for the face, and Raw Elements or Badger Balm for the body.
It used to be that the only alternative to toxic department store makeup was the highly ineffective makeup found at the hippie grocer. Gone are the days. The clean beauty world is full of makeup brands that perform as well as and in some cases, better than their conventional counterparts. I love my makeup. I don’t wear a ton, but I’m big on eyeliner, brow fill and gel, highlighters, and mascara. My absolute favorite foundation is Gressa Minimalist Corrective Serum Foundation. Plus, many natural skincare and makeup brands are women owned and run. Bonus.
Thank you for being curious, for loving yourself, and for making choices that will change this world for future generations.
All my love,