Overcoming Daily Obstacles

I don’t know about you guys, but when it comes to food the daily struggle is real. I stopped eating for about 8 months at the beginning of college and ended up lighter than I had been in middle school. I was extremely underweight and unhealthy. Thankfully I discovered food again and with some trial and error, I am now a pretty healthy person.

What people don’t see is the struggle that goes on in my mind and in my heart every day. I don’t walk past a mirror without checking to see if I “look skinny” and I don’t drink chocolate milk without thinking to myself I just messed up big time (Yes I’m drinking chocolate milk right now). This might not seem so bad, but these types of thoughts and habits are consistent and can leave me feeling like I am little to no value in this world. It sounds dramatic, but whatever your struggle may be, it is easy to get to a place like this.

For quite a long time I tried to work through this problem on my own which sparked my interest in health and wellness. I focused on changing my mindset, my diet, my sleep pattern and I relied on Instagram as a focal point to remind me what I wanted from this life with God as an afterthought.

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Even as I began to progress and make positive changes I suffered in my attempt to become my own source of stability. Even with loves ones supporting me I realized you can’t stabilize your life all by yourself. This is not to say that people can’t heal and begin to do better with the help of other and a positive mindset. What I am saying is the only way to truly overcome these obstacles in life is to lean on the Lord Jesus Christ. Proverbs 3:5 says we should “Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.” and in 1 Peter 5:7 it says “Casting all anxieties on him, because he cares for you”…Did you see that last part there? He actually CARES for you.

We all face a daily struggle, and no matter how different they are each is extremely real and extremely difficult to overcome. I do not want to learn to live with mine, but I want to fight and change the way I think and feel every day so that I can focus on what is truly important. The only way I have experienced true relief from my burdens is when I am focused on God. He is the one who has brought me to a place where I can love myself, where I can take the voices of failure and replace them with rejoicing in the life he has blessed me with.

The next time you feel yourself in a situation where your daily struggle seems to become a heavier burden every day take a look into why you are feeling that way. Take a look at what you have been spending the most time on and what you have been prioritizing.

I know that for me it’s when life gets busy and there’s not enough time in the day for God. When I don’t read my bible when I don’t spend time in prayer or keep the burdens on my heart to myself. I struggle when I choose my own strength instead of looking to God for his help.

Thank you so much for stopping in and I can’t wait to talk to you guys again!

Thanks again!

-Sonya Peacocke

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Enjoy the Small Victories

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I don’t know about you guys, but when it comes to accomplishing goals I go 110%, up until about the half way point. For example, I started an eight week fitness program and the first four weeks were fantastic, but the last four have been a struggle. It’s not that my body can’t do it, but it’s my mind that tells me to stop. I haven’t seen or felt the drastic change so I try to tell myself it’s not working or I decide to neglect a workout because I convince myself I have too much to do. Of course this is all while I lay on the floor watching IG stories on how to make Halloween cakes…It is a good trait to think big, but when I don’t see the big change immediately I give up, thankfully I have my husband to keep me grounded when it comes to these things.

He constantly reminds me that in order to get where you want to be, your confidence is going to drop and spike and you have to push through. What you’re passionate about will drive you to learn more so you can overcome the down slopes and keep moving forward. And in order to see the big results I have to give it time, effort and consistency without letting the fear of failure or inability getting in the way.  

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A big part of what gets in the way of doing these things is not recognizing all the little victories along the way. Think about having a clean house. You don’t just pull out the dust pan and brush, stand there for an hour and poof your house is clean. You have to individually approach each part of the house. When the floors are cleaned you move on to the windows, and from there the messy drawer, and so on.  You would not have a clean house with all the small victories of different areas of the house. It is the same for our lives, weather your looking to get healthy, change your habits, improve relationships, etc. It’s not going to happen overnight, but when you take time to appreciate the little victories you will come to see the value in what you are doing.

If you feel unmotivated to finish or even star working towards a goal, take some time to journal some of the little victories that have helped get you this far. You might be surprised at how many victories you have accomplished that have helped you reach that point.

After you write down your accomplishments take some time to make a list of small victories you would like to accomplish to help you work towards your goal. This will help you get excited and help you to see as you go along just how much ability to accomplish what you set your mind on! 

Give it a go and let me know what you guys think!

Thanks again for stopping by!

-Sonya Peacocke

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Healthy Tips // Monday Motivation

I don’t know about you guys but I have my fair share of struggles when it comes to eating in a way that helps my body thrive. Thankfully I have some wins in there as well and since this is a page where you guys can come to find encouragement and helpful tips I figured why not dive into some of the ways I am working to better myself and work through my struggles.

SO here we go, a little look into the day to day life of someone looking to improve and facing the #strugglebus just like you!

First of all let’s check out a positive change

·         Sipping vs. Gulping

Recently I have become aware of the fact that even though I drink enough water its usually because I guzzle down half or even all of my 32oz tumbler of water after not touching it for hours. This makes me feel bloated and sick to my stomach like I just ate a whole thanksgiving spread. It’s one of those aha moments where you think that even though you’re getting a bad result from a habit, you’re still technically doing what you’re supposed to do. In this situation it’s getting enough water, but in reality flooding your system isn’t much better than getting less than what you’re supposed to.

In order to stop the bad habit I am working on consuming as much water as needed, but through sipping my water throughout the entirety of the day. This helps your body absorb what it needs without the constant urge to pee everything out…   

For me I haven’t done anything too fancy to change the habit except for make myself accountable by telling you guys about it here. Since accountability is how I work this for me is perfect, but if you’re looking for something more tangible think about getting a water bottle with ounce markers to tell you how much you have been drinking. Soma fancy ones have time slots as well to help you along your way!

Here’s a negative shift

·         Sugar vs too much Sugar

Okay, so my body is extremely sensitive to things like sugar, caffeine, medicine, smells, etc. My mom was an angel as the smell of bug spray made me burst into tears, sugar made me a crazed hyper thing and medicine usually made me feel like crap.

It only makes sense that in my older age of 23 that nothing has changed except for the fact that I can control myself a little better. That being said I have recently lost the will to keep my sugar & caffeine addiction at bay, especially late at night. 

One of my problems is that I have filled the house with more sugary treats than low sugar treats. For example I have had a healthy supply vegan chocolate, fudgsicle, ice cream and cake…yeah not a good environment for the one who does not have much will power. SO this week I am making sure to have on have treats on hand that are filled with nutrients, low in sugar, and still super tasty!  

 

Here’s a sneaky recipe for one of my favorite treats that fit the criteria!

 

Sugar free Vegan Chocolate Parfait 

Ingredients

·         1 serving coconut or almond milk yogurt. 

·         1Tbsp. cocoa powder

·         ½ tsp. unrefined stevia powder 

·         ¼ cup frozen raspberries

·         1tbsp. chia seeds 

·         Pinch of salt

·         Gluten free granola (find the recipe here! https://www.sonyasopencupboard.com/recipes-1/3/4/2018/5-ingredient-gluten-free-granola)

Mix everything together in a mason jar for that authentic hipster look and top it off with my 5 ingredient gluten free granola if you really want to get fancy.  

So without further adu here’s to a week of sipping water and keeping the sugar at bay!  

Thanks for reading!

-Sonya Peacocke

Believe in Yourself

I don't know about you guys but when it comes to goals and aspirations, I am not one to allow myself to go for it. I often times find myself over the moon excited about an idea, just for the voice in my head to tell me it can't be done. This, of course, keeps me in the "safe zone" where I don't have to try anything new or have the opportunity to fail. I didn't realize that even though I try to steer clear of failure this "safe zone" of mine was causing me to fail.  

Without even realizing it, my fear and lack of confidence were holding me back from some of the most fulfilling work I could ever imagine. This blog has been proof of just that, as I have always had a passion for helping people as well as health and wellness. Even though I had the passion for it, it took me a whole 2 years to even start my own blog and another 6 months to actually create the content! Now that I am here I find it hard to remember what exactly held me back and why that even though at the moment I knew what I wanted, I didn't go for it. 

I believe it might have been a combination of things that held me back, but I want to discuss the two that made the most impact in stopping me from going for what I wanted.

Permission:

My mother-in-law recently brought up the fact that often times we don't give ourselves permission to do the things we want. We make excuses such as we can't afford the time, money, or energy. We also tend to think of investing in ourselves as something that is selfish, when in fact it is not! This is not to say that being self-absorbed is the goal here, but it is allowing yourself to recognize yourself as a person. A person who, like everyone else has needs, both physical and emotional. These needs are not always serious, but they are simple. You need joy in your life, you need something that drives you to do better, you need relaxation as well as discipline, etc.

Next time you feel as though you are not giving yourself permission to do what you want, take a step back and evaluate. "Is it pleasing to God?", "is it beneficially to myself and those around me?", "will doing this help me to be a better version of myself?”  These questions will help you understand how you need to make your decision.  

Confidence: 

When I think of confidence I tend to put it into the negative aspect of human traits. I think of people who are unaware of their surroundings who think of only themselves, but my husband has proved me wrong. True confidence includes having the bravery to fail and the will to try again, it is knowing that you are capable of anything as long as you keep working at it. Confidence helps you to focus on the truth and tune out the lies you tell yourself. I definitely am one to assume a low confidence level, but it something that once you recognize its presence you can work to build it up. 

Next time you feel a lack of confidence look at everything around you. Every simple object in your house had a creator whose idea probably seemed crazy to most people at the time. Thankfully they had confidence and to just go for it and now here you are today with their invention sitting in your home.  Let yourself know that anyone can accomplish big things, but it all depends on you!

Do you feel like you are allowing yourself to take those crazy ideas and run with them? The next time that great idea comes to mind, look into it and see if it really is a crazy idea. You might be surprised at what you find yourself accomplishing once you give yourself permission and show some confidence in your abilities!  

Thank you guys for reading & I hope you enjoyed! 

See you next time! 

Sonya Peacocke 

 

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Stop Feeling Overwhelmed

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I don’t know about you guys, but lately I have been feeling a little bit overwhelmed. Maybe it’s the summer coming to a somber end where events wrap up and we look forward to bringing routines back into play. To me this is almost like a January 2.0 where you’re trying to wrap up from the holidays and realize you have a million and one things to accomplish. Silly things and big things that have somehow been neglected, but now stare you down as they wait to be accomplished. For me this includes paperwork, folding laundry (instead of leaving it in a big pile on the floor…), planning out meals, blog posts, etc.  

Thankfully we go through this seasons like this fairly often so we have to learn more each time, right? This season I have learned a few important things that I felt I should share even though you guys are probably way ahead of me on the productivity train…Even so here are my tips and tricks for working through times in life where things are crazy and all you want to do is get things back on track!  

1)      Set Obtainable Goals

To start out, an important part of getting back on track with life is to set yourself up for success. This means set goals, but don’t set them so high that they are impossible to accomplish, leading to a disheartening feeling that it can’t be done.   

For example I tell myself the whole house needs a deep clean on a Sunday, while also wanting to workout, finish a blog post and spend time with my family. This is OBVIOUSLY too much work, but honestly I have attempted this goal before, and yes I have failed…SO don’t set yourself up for failure, but set yourself up for success!

This leads to my next few tips.

2)      Start Small

So when I decided that I needed to set more obtainable goals I still felt overwhelmed by everything that needed to be accomplished. Instead of freaking out (which I started to do), I took a step back and just focused on the little things. I cleaned my hairbrush, which is no big deal, but seeing that clean and neat helped me to feel accomplish and get a little taste of satisfaction that comes along with order and cleanliness. 

After this small thing I moved on to cleaning the dishes, making the bed, etc. and before I knew it the house was clean enough that I didn’t feel overwhelmed and I could move on to my next task with ease.

3)      Show Yourself Some Grace  

I have a really hard time with this one, as I never take the time to appreciate the work I have accomplished and move on to the overwhelming feeling that I need to do more. If I find myself in this situation I again take a step back and take a good look at what I have done.

If you have a hard time doing this I suggest taking a break in between tasks to do something calming such as going for a walk, listening to happy music, having a conversation with a loved one. This helps to put your day into perspective as well as break your tasks up so that you actually can see the progress you have made! 

4)      Be Patient

Your life will not be organized overnight and that you’re going to have to be patient. What helped me is knowing how many weeks left of school I had. Because I knew when my time would free up more after school I allowed myself to do what I could within the minimal amount of time I had without giving up my sanity. This helped me to minimize stress help me stayed focused on the task at hand. 

Overall these tips and tricks have helped me to manage stress and be encouraged seeing that I can accomplish more than I thought I could with more grace than ever thought possible!

I hope that you guys enjoy this post, and that is will help you enjoy whatever season in life you are in, no matter how busy!   

Until next time!

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-Sonya

Stop Emotional Eating

Emotional Eating

I don’t know about you guys, but when it comes to how I snack it all comes down to emotions. I say snack because eating three balanced meals a day is easy. I look forward to my smoothie breakfast, my salad for lunch and my hot meal for dinner. This is all good and well until I look in-between the lines, where I see the secret snacking and quick bites of food here and there. Then there is the “I AM SO STRESSED THAT I NEED THIS CHOCOLATE ANYTHING TO RELAX AT NIGHT”….Yeah so maybe that’s a bit dramatic, but maybe it’s not…?   

I find that I eat when I am disappointed or proud of myself, I eat when I am bored, when I feel happy or sad and for any other occasion in between. This is not to say that all is lost and I have no way of changing the way I eat. The real situation is that I have the power to change my habits and rituals, but that it takes time effort and a willingness to do what it takes despite how scary it feels.  

Eating in general is an extremely emotional experience that is often tied with memories and feeling of guilt, pleasure, pain, etc. This emotional experienced paired with a life that encourages mindless eating can wreak havoc on personal goals health wise. We don’t only have to deal with the emotional aspect, but that food is at the ready for us 24/7 and opens the opportunity to easily eat on the run  or while we are preoccupied. I don’t know about you, but the opportunity to sit for half hour to enjoy a meal is a rarity and the busy lives we lead don’t exactly encourage creating homemade nutrient dense meals.

The problem we face here is the loss of connection with food as well as with our emotions, we can however work towards improvement. Here is a good starting point to become a more intuitive eater in order to stop the emotional roller coaster of eating in-between.

·         Start a Journal.

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Yes I understand you might have heard this before, and it is daunting thinking about tracking the food you consume, but let’s take a step back and look at this tool a little differently.

If you feel like it is too overwhelming, start out with journaling 2-4 days per week. With your journal entries don’t just focus on food, but focus mainly on how you were feeling, whether or not you were actually hungry, and in what setting you were eating in. If this is confusing here’s an example from my own personal journal.

“…Today I entered the kitchen tired and slightly dehydrated. It was an hour past when I normally ate lunch and had worked out that morning. I felt happy and confident from my accomplishments that day. Once I opened the fridge I grabbed ingredients for a salad and then proceeded to instead toast some bread and ate an egg sandwich, two slices of cheese and half of my salad. In between I snacked on random bits and pieces from the meal as well…”

This might seem like a lot of detail, but it helps you to determine the situation you put yourself in around food and how easy it was to go off track. I could have gone for lunch an hour early to prepare a well-rounded meal and focus more on taking the time to sit down and eat.

This tool helps your brain to connect the dots and realize when you are choosing to eat based on emotion or hunger.

Now Emotional eating is not something to be ashamed of or worth giving up over, it is a struggle that even though it is small, still causes harm. Instead of giving into the temptation of something familiar, work on becoming uncomfortable. Start a journal and make a plan to stop the bad habits and create new ones. The more you take the time to understand why you are turning to food the more power you have.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t want food to be my safety net, rather I want it to be a tool. A tool to help me stay healthy and active with my children and family. I want to put aside my obsession with food and instead God with worshiping him rather than food and allowing Him to have the control rather than passing it over to myself. I want a life that is simple and pleasing to God, where I don’t have the overwhelming focus of food to distract me from the life He has lead me to lead.  

This week I was reading in Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 and found it an encouragement to remember the importance of the process…

 “For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted; a time to kill and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; a time to weep and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; a time to seek, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away; a time to tear down, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; a time to love, and a time to hate; a time for war, and a time for peace.”

Hope you all have a lovely week! 

-Sonya

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Sleep Health // Bedtime Routine

Sleep Health.

I don’t know about you guy, but when it comes to sleep I am not always the best at keeping a routine. Whenever I start to get into a bad sleep schedule everything is thrown off. First of all I am a morning person, so when I don’t get to bed on time, aka ten o’clock I’m a mess.

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I know that my body can make it for about a week of bad sleep habits and then it doesn’t know what to do anymore. This results in feeling sleepy at five pm, craving all the chocolate then eating all the chocolate, staying up till midnight, lying awake for another hour, forcing myself to wake up early to work out and then starting the whole cycle over again (Takes huge breath*)…As you can see it’s not that conducive to a healthy mind or body.

When this happens the results have a negative impact on my day to day life as well as my health. I start to look at workouts like they are beyond my capabilities and not worth the effort. Compensation for the lack of energy comes in the form of eating turning to richer and higher carb meals I would usually avoid. Since I work a nine to five I need the time in the evening to get some personal things done, but am at that point running low on energy. This influences me to eat more and also to eat chocolate which has a lot of caffeine. This wakes me up and keeps me up until about midnight or later. After that the whole cycle begins again and tends to be a discouragement.

I’m pretty sure that just by reading this you can perfectly define the word crazy because every time I put myself in a bad sleep habit I expect a different result. There are so many situations that can end like this, and in all honesty if my biggest problem is sleep, then so be it. At the same time I want to be able to jump back and regain good habits because it helps set the course for the big things in life.  

And so in light of the fact that my sleep habits need to be cleaned up a bit here is some of my favorite ways to make for a better night sleep!

·         About an hour before bed treat yourself to caffeine free tea. My favorite is Rooibos! Oh, and skip on the sugar, you don’t want anything stimulating before bed.

·         Turn off all bright lights and use soft yellow light such as salt lamps or twinkle lights.

·         Wash face & Brush teeth with warm water.  

·         Use lavender oil on your face, neck, pillow or diffuser. I like to use it on my face as a moisturizer by diluting 1-2 drops with almond oil.

·         Read a book and skip on the screen time. If I do watch a show or use my phone I make sure to give myself at least 30 minutes before bed that is screen free.

·         Chose something to pamper yourself. One of my favorite ways to pamper myself is to put balm on my feet. It offers a quick massage and allows me to relax, especially since my job requires for me to stand all day.  

·         Drink 8oz of water right before bed. If you are dehydrated your body will actually struggle to fall asleep and who really loves the feeling of waking up in the middle of the night to dying of thirst anyway?

Hopefully these tips will help you improve your sleep habits! Let me know what you think and what are some of your favorite ways to unwind and relax for bed!

Thanks again for reading,

Sonya

Eating Healthy During the Holidays // 4th of July

Staying on track during a Holiday// 4th Of July

I don’t know about you but holidays are my absolute favorite, not only because of the party but because it’s a time to fill your life with people and food you love! The sad part about it is that for several years I found myself miserable when it came to big events because the food would cause so much stress. I have always ether gone to the extreme of avoiding everything except the veggie platter or to the opposite end of the spectrum where I eat everything including the food I don’t want. Seems crazy, I know, but this was the reality.

As you guys might now I started the Candida cleanse again about three weeks ago in June, fully aware that 4th of July was right around the corner. 4th of July is bigger than Christmas here in Florida, so there’s a lot of opportunity to fall into my old habits, but I wanted this 4th of July to be different. I didn’t want to feel regret or like I missed out on anything while also being content.

I decided for the sake of breaking the cycle I would approach things differently. I would chose my absolute favorite healthy foods and treat myself to them in moderation, I would try to stay hydrated and allow myself a little wiggle room to enjoy some things that were not allowed on the candida cleanse, but wouldn’t cause any turmoil. Instead of choosing healthy options that stuck strictly to the diet I would eat things than bent the rules. The catch was that in bending the rules I would be content to stop there. I wouldn’t feel the urge to go overboard or be too controlling and overall I think I achieved just that.

Here is a little recap to show you what I decided to eat and avoid, but more importantly the MINDSET that I kept through the whole day.  

·         Coffee was a go for the morning and I paired it with Gluten Free toast. One slice with egg, bacon smashed avocado and the other with homemade sunflower butter and cacao nibs.

·         Lunch was a frozen banana smoothie bowl

-          Banana

-          Sunflower Butter

-          Chocolate Protein

-          Ice

-          Almond Milk

·         Snacks consisted of several cucumbers and carrot sticks as well as fruit such as watermelon and blueberries. I also had a few things like Gluten Free pretzels and homemade cookie dough bites that were not candida approved, but helped me to avoid eating chips and other foods that would have bothered my stomach.

·         While everyone sipped on beer and mixed drinks I stuck to fancy water, aka a splash of Pomegranate Bai with water and cucumbers. I also enjoyed a Hard Kombucha and La Croix sparkling water.

·         Dinner was nether here, nor there I had a few different small meals after lunch but they were mainly salads and then pulled chicken as well.

 

Overall the say was a success both with food and with family and I look forward to taking what I have learned and applying it to every future gathering!

 

Happy 4th of July! I hope you guys had a great one!

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Working With Candida

I don’t know about you guys, but after a week of being more conscious about what I am eating and cutting out the added sugar I feel pretty good. Not only have I stopped feeling bloated and in pain I have been able to enjoy my food more.

I actually find that when I have the freedom to eat whatever I eat the same thing all the time. Ever since I started cutting out sugar and going back to the candida cleanse I have been eating more unique foods and trying out recipes I have been wanting to try, but haven’t. For example, I usually have the same smoothie every morning for breakfast. Instead I have swapped to oatmeal and different kinds of smoothies with less fruit and more veggies!

I have also noticed myself researching more as to what foods can disrupt the digestive system. I know, sounds super fun, but honestly it’s something I am really interested in. Over the last few months I have lost some interest in researching gut healthy foods, but now find myself interest in it all again! It has helped motivate me not to give up on the Candida diet and to also learn as much as I can from the experience.  

This is what I want to encourage you to do as well. If you are starting the Candida diet or any other specialized was of eating, do your research and get interested in what’s actually going on in your body. Ask questions, follow others who are going through the same thing and get excited about it because knowledge is a powerful thing. It helps you understand why you need to work hard and why it is so worth it!

Thank so much for checking out my blog and I will see you again next week!

-Sonya 

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Candida Cleanse // MY CANDIDA STORY

I don’t know about you guys, but lately, I have been feeling a little out of the ordinary, and not in the good kind of way.

First off, I have been noticing a change in my skin, it tends to break out more than I would appreciate and I have also noticed dry patches on my scalp. Secondly, I have noticed a decline in how I feel after eating or drinking anything. Now I have discovered that I have been consuming certain foods that really disrupt the digestive system, but even without those foods I still am feeling sickly after every meal. 

Along with the skin and the gut issues I have felt under the weather which is not normal for me, and it is more than just allergies. My body has become more fatigued and my mood has been in the dumpsters, which is not a pleasant place to be, especially if you’re my husband (sorry Dan). 

There have been several factors leading up to me feeling like this, like the fact that I was on antibiotics a few weeks ago and that I have been neglecting to work on managing stress levels in my life. Managing stress is a huge part of feeling your best because your body can function the way it was meant to without any hindrances. Oh yeah and of course I have been going heavy on the sugar lately, or maybe more like the last few months. I am all for #TREATYOURSELF, but sometimes it’s good to remember that with everything there needs to be a balance. Treating yourself doesn’t have to happen with every meal, and it can also take the form of something other than sugar. 

Therefore I have decided to embark on another Candida Diet, where I will avoid almost all sugar except in the form of a little fruit. I will also be sticking to m normal no gluten or dairy and work on focusing on foods to help aid in treating candida overgrowth. I am not a health professional, but I know my body and I trust in doing the candida cleanse where I will not be attempting anything to harm or put my body in danger. There will be no under eating and no deprivation, just a shift in the foods I choose to consume.

I want to be an encouragement to whoever might be struggling with candida, or even a change in diet. At times it can feel lonely and difficult, but this is me telling you it is SO worth it in the end. The struggle is #REAL, but the rewards for sticking with it are worth every bit of hard work.

Let me know what you might be facing health wise and how you are approaching changing your lifestyle and habits! 

Pst* Follow my Instagram @sonyas_open_cupboard for more encouragement and daily content in what I am doing for this candida cleanse!

How to spice things up when changing your diet.

Spice Things up//Make the switch easy! 


I don’t know about you guys but for me swapping over to a whole new way of eating was pretty daunting. After I learned I had candida I had to give up all sugar, gluten, dairy which made my meal choices seem pretty bland and to tell you the truth they were. 
In saying this they were bland because I had no idea what I was doing when it came to preparing gluten, dairy, and sugar-free food. I had never experimented with spices or herbs, I had no idea how to use condiments other than ketchup and didn’t know how adding textures and contrasting flavors could really make a dish awesome! I began with eating plain oats, plain chicken, and millet with some greens, smoothies that contained mostly ice…It was the farthest from tasty that you could get. I realized that if I was going to survive three months of that I decided things had to get interesting. 


At this time I also moved in with my sister and her family who enjoyed cooking meals that use strong spices and herbs such as curries, smoked meats, jambalayas, etc. It was good I moved in with them because I was not the only one who had to figure out how to make family meals sugar, dairy and gluten-free. It became a challenge for us all, figuring out how to substitute and what new things we could create to replicate the meal so that we could all enjoy it. 
We discovered the beauty of pairing organic mustard with sauerkraut and that adding fresh cilantro and mashed avocado was the perfect substitute for salad dressing. We found recipes to make things like granola, cornbread, pancakes, cookies, etc. I found out that cheddar cheese or buttered bread is not the only way to make a dish taste good, it’s the way you prepare the food. 

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Some of my all-time favorite foods are because of the great experiments we would have with new meals! If you find the idea of changing the way you eat daunting, remember that even though the beginning might leave you with a bad taste in your mouth, as long as you keep trying it WILL get better! 

Here are some of my favorite things to spice up my meals without sacrificing my health! 

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•    Mustard: Make sure to buy organic and check the label
•    Sauerkraut: I like to combine this with mustard and add it in salads, eat it plain. 
•    Kimchi
•    Turmeric
•    Cumin  
•    Cinnamon
•    Nutritional Yeast: This is great sprinkled on eggs or even popcorn to get that cheesy taste! 
•    Artisan Oils and Vinegar: You can always find these at your local farmers market or health food store! Some of my favorites are garlic olive oil and fruit-infused balsamic
•    Fresh Herbs: Cilantro and rosemary and mint are my favorites. All three can be used in ether savory or sweet dishes! 
•    Bay leaves: great flavor to add to soups and jambalayas
•    Bamboo Shoots
•    Cocoa powder: This is my favorite way to make things like  oatmeal, smoothies, chia seed pudding, etc. much more interesting
•    Pink Salt and Freshly cracked peppercorn: I couldn’t come all this way and not give mention to what Good salt and pepper can accomplish in a dish!  

Let me know what are some of your favorite ways to make healthy food that much more exciting!  

Sincerely, 

Sonya  

TRAVEL

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Traveling
Recently I jetted off to Cali for a fantastic getaway with my sisters, the trip in itself was wonderful but one thing I struggled with was my digestion. I attempted to eat healthy the whole time, but found that some of the key habits in my day to day life I didn’t uphold and that made all the difference.

My first mistake was not drinking enough water. I lost my water bottle due to an attempt at going through security with it filled with water (whoops). Since I didn’t have my water bottle I didn’t drink half as much as I needed.

I also am a big fan of coffee but don’t drink it that often, but of course this was vacation so I decided to enjoy a few cups a day. Now some people drink it to help their uh…digestion, but let me tell you I did nothing but throw things off. That being said I enjoyed every 1st 2nd & 3rd coffee run of the day because it was quality time with my sisters, and something that I would have regretted to miss out on.  

Besides the lack of water and increase of coffee I found that I began to eat a lot more things I normally avoid. Things like corn, processed sugar, soy, coffee, etc. these foods can be okay for some people, but for people with extremely sensitive tummies such as myself, they can really wreak havoc.

Overall it took me about a week to not feel like my stomach was going crazy and to recover from the jet lag. This trip was a tester for myself as I have another upcoming trip where I will be traveling for much longer and in a place where all the food is completely different (any guesses?).

My plan for keeping everything good is to first stick to SIMPLE foods a few days before traveling and afterwards. Things that I know are simple and good for me such as probiotic rich foods, steamed vegetables, low amounts of sugar etc.

I will also be investing in another water bottle that is easy to carry around and MAKE SURE not to lose it…Along with this I will try to keep focused on drinking more as it is easy to forget while traveling.

On the plane I will attempt to fast for the length of the flight. Flying in itself can mess with your digestive system, and to add in the complimentary “roast beef” dinner just doesn’t equal a good time.  

This has all been a type of experiment and though it wasn’t that much fun dealing with the aftermath, I am excited to put what I have learned to the test and update you after the next attempt at traveling!

Until next time,

Sonya

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HEALTHY FOOD SWAP

 

One of the biggest disappointment’s n my life was learning that my body couldn’t handle dairy or gluten. Thankfully I learned about them year’s apart so it wasn’t as hard of a blow, but it wasn’t that easy. When I learned I couldn’t have dairy I went from drinking about one and a half gallons of milk a week to nothing. Then when I was told about gluten I was consuming toast regularly and had a new found love for the taste of beer ( Even though I could only drink about half a beer…). To say the least both transitions were worth it, but very difficult. 

This is why I am here to help you along the way of transitioning from gluten and dairy to ah…none. 

#1: FIND GOOD PRODUCTS

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Within the last few years there have been SO MANY new products that offer dairy and gluten free options. This being said a lot of these companies have a list of ingredients longer than your to do list. Therefore; it’s important to do your research when it comes to pre-packages foods, choosing carefully, while keeping in mind that you won’t always be eating perfectly.

#2: KNOW THE BASICS

You want to become aware of what type of foods go where. When I went gluten free I wasn’t actually aware that beer had gluten in it or that French fries are most times coated in flour during their cooking process. I had no clue until LAST WEEK that Nutella contained dairy. It’s really slightly embarrassing when I learn about foods I thought would be okay, but really just bring my stomach to tears. Therefore; don’t feel embarrassed if you have to ask at a restaurant, double check the label or google things like “does shampoo contain gluten?”, because honestly we have all been there. It’s a learning process so think of it like a research project where the outcome is less stress and a happy body!  

#3: USE SOCIAL MEDIA TO YOUR ADVANTAGE

There is a never ending stream of information on the internet, but one of my favorite ways I came to understand what type of foods I should eat and what I should avoid came through social media. I relied on bloggers who had been through the process, Pinterest for all the recipe inspiration and Instagram to help get me excited about the new way of eating.

Trust me, if you’re ever feeling down about any food allergies look up hashtags like #dairyfree, #glutenfree, #soyfree, etc. and your feed will be flooded with beautiful food that makes you forget about that slice of wonder bread.   

#4: FIND OUT WHAT YOU LIKE

After you take to social media and you see everyone and feasting on something like sweet potato toast or banana ice cream give it a go, but keep in mind that you don’t have to love it just because everyone else does. Personally I love avocado and find it a perfect substitute for mayo in my tuna salad but for others they can’t stand the taste. Don’t feel the need to try to force a food that you dislike just because it seems o be the only option. It’s your own diet and you have to create food that you love and are willing to skip the gluten and dairy for.

#5: CLEAN HOUSE AND SWAP OVER

The most important change is swapping out the foods you have laying around your house, especially snacks. If you are trying to eliminate gluten, but you always have that bag of honey mustard pretzels staring you down then out they should go. That doesn’t mean don’t replace them, because there are several brands that make gluten free pretzels.

The goal though, is to not replace everything with the same recreated product, It’s about changing around the way you eat. If you don’t have gluten free honey mustard pretzels on hand oh well, you can enjoy those carrots and hummus just as much!

#6: GET ENOUGH NUTRIENTS

This is the final and probably most vital tip because when it comes to eliminating foods. It is so easy to feel like something is missing in out diet if you don’t fill the void with something else. This is a great opportunity to find some awesome new healthy whole foods that will satisfy your hunger and leave you nourished.

For example, I gave up coffee for quite some time and I found that the ritual of having a hot drink in the morning leaving me feeling like I had missed out. That’s when I started drinking green tea lattes instead! Not only is green tea packed with antioxidants it also offers the boost of caffeine that does not deplete my body, but energizes and sustains it. So find some good prepackaged foods, but try to keep the main focus on what nutrient dense foods you can incorporate!

Okay so now that you have the ground rules I’ll show you some of my favorite swaps I have made in my own diet. Not just for gluten and dairy but also for other products that offer little nutrient value.

SWAPS

Pretzels – Gluten Free Pretzels

Protein Bars – R.X. Bars

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Cereal – Homemade Granola

Potato Chips – Kale Chips

Fries – Baked Sweet potato fries

Sour Cream – Avocado, Mashed

Wraps – Giant Romaine or Collard leaves

Flour – Buckwheat, Coconut, Millet, Almond flour  

Ice Cream – Blended frozen fruit (I love to use bananas as the base)

Peanut Butter – Almond or sunflower butter

Cheese – Nutritional Yeast

Whipped Cream – Whipped coconut cream

Refined Sugar – Dates, Honey, Maple syrup

Canola Oil – Coconut oil

Toast – Gluten free Ezekiel Bread

Butter – Ghee

Yogurt – Coconut Yogurt

Dips – Hummus

Milk – Almond, Coconut, or Hemp milk  

 

Hope you guys enjoyed the post, and let me know what your tips are for swapping out foods!

 

Sincerely,

Sonya

Balancing a Social Life & Healthy Eating

I don’t know about you guys, but for me I have had a hard time balancing a social life and healthy eating. Back in the days where I was counting calories I would simply order seltzer water and lime because it was free and low calorie! A win-win for sure, or so I thought. Now don’t get me wrong, seltzer water and lime tastes great, but not ideal for a meal replacement which is exactly what I was using it for.

After ending my days of calorie counting I found myself overloading on all the food that I wasn’t able to have beforehand and grew accustomed to over eating. This led to a different reason to be stressed, because I couldn’t stop myself from eating until I was almost sick. This meant that the whole time leading up to eating and afterwards I would be consumed with the thoughts of food rather than enjoying the time spent with the people I love.  

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After a few years of trial and error I have come to a point where I have a better understanding of how much I need to eat and how I should be eating. I know that I’m not facing my last real meal for a few days, or that I am eating a food I have put in the “don’t touch” category. I can stop at one plate of food, but I also feel free to go for seconds without guilt. I know now that if my friends want to go out for a treat I won’t shut them down. I am okay if there’s nothing on the menu for me because I will plan ahead with snacks and order a seltzer with lime because it’s delicious.  

This being said, I still have many struggles when it comes to food, but because I have put my faith in God he has strengthened me to keep moving forward. Lately I have been reading a devotional created by Cambria Joy and two verses have really captured my attention. In Matthew 11:28 it says “come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” and Philippians 4:6-7, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.”

Even though I still fight it, I have decided to let God be in control of my life. It has taken quite a bit of time, effort, and tears, but through it all God has been my strength.

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If you find yourself stuck in an unhealthy mindset when it comes to food, take it to the Lord and read through Philippians 4:4-13. Search the bible for encouragement and pray for strength, it is only through God and his grace that you will find complete healing!

Now go enjoy an evening out at a restaurant with friends or a date night in with your favorite treats and I will do the same!

Sincerely,

Sonya

Don't Starve // Eat Food

Eating food is better than starving.

I don’t know about you guys, but I have struggled with the idea that starving is better than eating food. This is a viewpoint that came to life as a young adult and is something I still struggle with today.  

It started in high school when I began to be conscious of what I was eating. This was in a sense great because I had a good relationship with food and a simple mindset to become a healthier person. Unfortunately, it morphed into something much bigger than I thought possible without even realizing. During high school, I maintained a healthy weight, but once I graduated and the stress of holding down a job and paying for school I lost both weight and understanding of what healthy looks like. Originally it was the feeling of losing control of my life and the desperate search for what I could still hold on to. Instead of looking for the Lord for Guidance and stability, I tried to fix things myself. I began to control the one thing I knew I could and that was what I put in my body. I began to cut out foods, restrict calories, exercised obsessively, took water pills, and binge-watch dieting shows in my free time. In the midst of it all, I actually developed a fascination for anorexia because I thought I was better than them. It also gave me confidence knowing I had some "cracked the code", and therefore validated my behavior.

After a year of going hungry, I found myself unhappy in several areas of life. I was losing weight and acing my classes, but I had begun to look sickly, my temper and stress were out of control, my relationships began to strain and I struggles to find Joy in life. 

In order to combat the pain I was feeling, I began to treat myself to eating exactly what I wanted and however much I wanted. Now going from eating minimal amounts of food to excessive amounts can take its toll. As I began to gain weight I felt like a failure, I was more anxious and full of fear. The only way I was able to get through this time in my life was to look to God for forgiveness and His grace in my life. I knew what I was doing was wrong and in order to change the direction of my life I needed to rely 100% on God. In no way was this transition easy, and I still struggle today, but I thankfully have the Lord to guide me and lift me up in my time of weakness. 

Though I still struggle with thoughts of whether or not to eat, downloading and deleting fitness apps, and feeling the urge to work out every single day and assuring myself at meal time that I don’t have to gorge myself. I know that I am free to eat whenever I please and whatever I please. I now know that

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·         Food is not the enemy

·         The feeling of fullness should not cause guilt

·         & it’s better to build a foundation on the Lord rather than a scale.

Matthew 24-27

 

Pst* Shout out to Cambria Joy who inspired me to write this blog post!

Everyday Fitness

I don’t know about you but when it comes to fitness I don’t like to live by the rules. Not that the rules are bad, they just aren’t for me. Let me explain…

For me working out is something that I want to fit into my day to day life without a second thought. I want it to be something that brings me joy and appreciation for what my body is able to do. This was my hope from the beginning of my fitness journey, but when I began to look into “getting fit” everyone seemed to be selling me something. If it wasn’t a gym membership it was a workout program, energy drinks, etc. An endless amount of consumer products to “help” me reach my goal.

Thankfully I was stingy with my money and not willing to fork over $300 for a Mr. Muscle body sculpting class and had to become a little more resourceful. I found out that I was more willing to work out if it meant the chance to get outside and hated the idea of working out in a building full of the bodies of sweaty strangers.

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For me, it is motivating to know that when I wake up in the morning I can choose to go for a walk or smash out a HIIT routine, not because I am being told to do it, but because I want to do it. The idea that fitness is something that can be tailored to you as an individual is so satisfying in that you get the choice in how you work out.  

That is not to say that workout routines are bad, or that gyms should never be entered, it’s about learning how to make fitness something that works for you. It is important to learn about how you are motivated, what energizes you, and what brings you the most joy. When you discover what works for you, integrating it into your daily life will become a breeze.

 For me, it was the simple act of saving money and spending time outside that helped me to shape what works for me. No matter what your personal style of working out is, or how you get yourself motivated, do it because you are enjoying it, not because someone is telling you that it has to be done a certain way.

Make sure that fitness is one of your favorite hobbies and not your favorite chore.

 

Thanks again for stopping by!

 

Sincerely,

Sonya  

Becoming a Morning Person

6 Steps to a Better Morning!

I don’t know about you guys but for me, mornings are a crucial part of my day. Since I am a morning person, if my attempt at morning is rolling out of bed late I will probably crash and burn in about 2 hours. I Love having a schedule where I wake up early enough to read my bible, get a good workout in, and prepare a healthy breakfast and lunch. This way, I am prepared for what craziness lies ahead in my day.

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Though I love to wake up early, it is not the easiest thing to get a handle on. Thankfully I have come to learn a few tips that help me to wake up and get going.

So here’s the low down on the 6:00...6:30am start to your day!

Tip #1: Set ONE alarm

It’s good to do this because when you hit the snooze button you are dozing off in between or on your phone which actually makes it harder to get out of bed and feel alert.

Tip#2: Keep Water right next to your bed

Drinking water immediately after waking up helps you to feel alert and more awake. This is just a small benefit though, when you take into consideration the fact that drinking water first thing in the morning helps to boost metabolism, detoxifies the body, and strengthens the immune system!

Tip#3: Start your day without your phone

 Personally I use my phone for my workouts, but I try to first read my Bible or journal and also try to step outside to get fresh air before my workout.

Tip#4: Get Moving!

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Some people like myself thrive off of morning workouts, because by the time it gets to 5pm the most movement I want to accomplish is a walk or bike ride. If you are not like me and find you have more effective workouts in the evening then instead take the time to go on a leisurely walk or do some yoga. This helps to get your blood pumping, aids in digestion, and adds a little boost to your metabolism.

Tip#5: Apple Cider Vinegar.

I have found that starting my day with breakfast doesn’t sit well, so instead I chose to drink apple cider vinegar before my normal meal. Apple Cider Vinegar is great way to get in some healthy probiotics while reducing sugar cravings, detoxes the body, and aids in digestion.

There are several ways you can enjoy ACV, I recently have discovered adding drops of grapefruit essential oil as well as lemon to sweeten things up!

Tip#6: Skip the Caffeine.

If you don’t have any problems with caffeine than go for some matcha, but for me I have found that as long as I keep my breakfast full of nutrient dense foods and I stay hydrated I don’t have a need for caffeine. The benefit of this is not relying on stimulants to keep you going, and avoiding that mid-day slump caffeine introduces us to.

BONUS TIP* Find a music playlist you love and play it every morning, and pretty soon your brain will associate the music with waking up. SO keep the Jams going and you might find yourself feeling a little bit cheerier.

Now that you guys are equipped and ready to start your morning with these hacks, give them a go and let me know which one is your favorite!

CREATIVITY

Learning to create.

I don’t know about you guys, but as a child I would always receive a ribbon for my homemade crafts at the town fair…For real though, do you ever miss the days where your biggest accomplishment of the day was carving a pumpkin, making paper sailboats, or painting rocks?

For a little while there I thought I was past this stage and needed to focus on productivity rather than creativity. Thankfully, both my husband and I come from families filled with artist and abstract thinkers so it was hard to let go of the days of macaroni art. I found myself going through the motions of keeping the house clean, working, and cooking, without the satisfaction of simply enjoying my day.

I found myself craving all the craft supplies and spending hours in hobby lobby without buying anything unless it was “practical”. In all honesty life became a little boring and I wasn’t quite sure what to make of it.  One day Instead of resisting the childlike urge to make collages, I grabbed some magazines and dove right into a collage making session. I also downloaded the Sims, sought out DIY decorations and new ways to cook. I found myself drawing again and after a little while I had a new found confidence in myself. I not only was confident in what I could create, but I was confident in my ability to grow and improve!  

Once I had allowed myself to enjoy the creative process I began to venture out into bigger things. This is when I managed the courage to dive into food photography on my Instagram page, which then grew into the creation of this blog! Thought it might not seem exciting, this is something I have wanted for a long time, but never had the courage or confidence in myself to begin.

SO the next time you feel yourself wanting to spend a few minutes or hours creating something, then do it. Acknowledge that creating is as important as an adult, as it is as a child.

Psst* what was your favorite craft as a child?

For me it was nail art and all the collages, which drove my neat freak father crazy most days. This is why I usually hid the mess under the couch! Sorry Pa, Love you!

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Quitting Coffee For Balanced Hormones

Quitting Coffee

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I don’t know about you guys, but my longest relationship has been with coffee. Even before I met Daniel my dad would give me a petite cup filled with just enough coffee to dip my cinnamon toast in. Over the years coffee has brought a lot of energy and delight, but last year I began to realize that what it started to put my body through was not worth it.

It all started once Daniel moved to America and we began married life together. Stress was high as we were trying to figure out how to maneuver through life together. Though I would try to get the day going on a high note I would continuously be met with an over sensitive & emotional me that felt like the world was crashing to an end every day around 1 pm.

 Now I know you might be thinking that is seems normal when it comes to stressful situations, but the problem was that it wasn’t getting any better. This is when I started to question the root cause and discovered to amazing qualities of hormones. After some research I found that coffee was one of the main culprits behind it all.  

What I came to discover is that coffee can take a toll on the female body through its effects on blood sugar, stress hormones, and your gut!  One of the best articles I could have read is Alissa Vitti’s blog post, 3 Secret Reasons Why Women Should Not Drink Coffee. She explains exactly what goes on in the FEMALE body when it comes to caffeine.  

I know what you may be thinking, how can you possibly give up the sweet nectar of life that you get to experience each morning? Well what worked for me was going cold turkey for about two months and then enjoying it solely on the weekends. I also try to stick to a few Rules I have made for myself that have made the experience much more joyful

·         Rule #1: Make sure the days I do drink coffee involves a lot of movement.

I know from experience that being highly caffeinated while sitting in a church pew for a few hours is enough to drive anyone crazy. 

·         Rule #2: Make sure you actually WANT a cup of coffee.

If it’s the day you normally have coffee and you are not feeling it than don’t force it! There have been days where I drink it just for the fact that today is my only chance, but that tends to lead to me feeling not so great. Respect and listen to what your body is telling you, if you’re not feeling it than don’t drink it.

·         Rule #3: Don’t skimp out!

I am spoiled in this category because Daniel actually makes me coffee, meaning he roasts, grinds and creates the perfect Chemex drip coffee for me. I know you might not have a Daniel in your life, but you do have amazon where you can pick up green beans if you want to attempt roasting, a Chemex coffee maker, a coffee grinder and you’re good to go. By doing this you can avoid drinking stale coffee which means you don’t miss out on the awesome antioxidants coffee has to offer. Drinking fresh coffee has less acidity than stale coffee and is a lot easier on your tummy!

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Now that I stick to these “Rules” I feel like I can take on any day life decides to throw at me without the need for coffee. There’s no 1pm crash, anxiety, mood swings (from coffee at least), and I find myself enjoying coffee even more than I did before!

Always remember that it’s never about deprivation, it is only about caring for the body that God has entrusted to you!  

Pssst** Here are some sneaky Ideas to replace that everyday cup of coffee!

·         Matcha Tea

·         Turmeric Latte

·         Healthy Hot Chocolate

·         Lemon Water

·         Rooibos tea

Allisa VItti’s 3 Reasons Why Women Shouldn’t Drink Coffee

https://www.floliving.com/3-reasons-why-women-cant-drink-coffee/

 

 

 

What do you eat?

What do you eat?

A lot of times people ask me things like why can’t you eat that? Are you vegan, or gluten free? Do you only eat healthy food? What happens if you do eat something you’re allergic to...I can tell you now, bad things happen.

I am asked all of these quite often but the one I get the most is, “what can you eat?”

The beauty of this question is that I always get a reminder of all the amazing foods I can eat and probably wouldn’t have ever heard of if I hadn’t had all these sensitivities. In all actuality I probably eat more variety than the average person because of it. I find myself filling my plate with new veggies, nut butters, plant based proteins, spices and combinations that would have never peaked my interest if it had not been for all the “limitations” to my diet.

If you don’t believe me, or if you find yourself facing similar limitations and don’t know what to do, here are some of my favorite foods that I would have never discovered!

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·         Nutritional Yeast: Can be used as a seasoning for a cheesy taste and can also be used to make vegan mac n’ cheese

·         Quinoa & Millet: Perfect source of healthy carbs and protein. Use for a rice replacement in soups, salads, chili, etc.

·         Almond, Cashew, or Coconut Milk: Replace milk with these bad boys to get a hardy dose of healthy fats as well as cutting down your sugar intake.

·         Gluten free Oats: Perfect in creating your favorite version of granola or blend and use as a replacement for flour in baking.

·         Turmeric: Perfect spice to aid in lowering inflammation in the body and adds excellent flavor and color to any dish!

·         Apple Cider Vinegar: I drink this in the morning to aid in digestion but ACV is also amazing on top of salads. Cut out the sugar and oil and trade you normal olive oil and balsamic for ACV and lemon juice.

·         Matcha: Use in replacement of coffee if you find yourself addicted and feeling crummy. I would find myself feeling the effects of caffeine in the form of depression and anxiety whereas Matcha provides energy as well as antioxidants without the side effects.

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·         Dates & Figs: Use these for a snack that boost energy or use in baking raw vegan cakes for a perfect caramel flavor.

·         Rooibos Tea: Not only is this a great night snack, it aids in digestion and provides antioxidants that are more than welcome!

·         Flax Crackers: A new found recipe that am already in love with! They offer your daily serving of flax while keeping the crunchy texture of regular crackers. Perfect for hummus or any of your favorite dips!

This is only a small fraction in the variety of foods that I do eat and enjoy. No matter what allergies, or sensitivities you have remember that there is a world of different foods out there for you. It’s not a limitation, but simply an option to find new favorites!