Drinking and Toddling

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At 19 months old, E is showing signs of being ready to transition away from the final strongholds of his baby ways and fully embrace toddlerhood.

He won’t touch a sippy cup (c’mon, that’s for babies!). He loves regular cups, though.  If an adult drinks from one, E (predictably) wants to drink from it, too.  We are following his lead on this one, after purchasing and trying roughly 87,436 different sippy cups, straws, thermoses, transitional lids and every possible transitional todder drinking apparatus available. Yeah.  It took us a while to get the hint.

These kinds of transitions aren’t always ideal, and they are usually messy.  But it looks like we are skipping the sippy cup phase altogether and heading right towards regular cups as our go-to.  This undoubtedly means months of mopping up spills and changing clothes a few times a day while E masters his daredevil feat of drinking his water from a cup, because toddlers really are like tiny little drunk people.

EchoCup

Oh, and speaking of cups…

The makers of this ingenious little baby bath product are launching their next endeavor, the PhillUp. It’s a color coded plastic cup system for kiddos.  Each child chooses a different color cup, which also has a corresponding hook on a suction cup. The child uses the same cup ALL DAY LONG.  You can also hang them within children’s reach, so they become responsible for keeping track of their cup, and even filling it on their own.  Your little-littles might have a hard time hanging up the cup if there’s any liquid in it, but it could be a fun way to hone fine motor skills.  Potentially messy, but fun. This is ideal for older toddlers and kids.

While I would love to see a stainless steel version of this cup and more color options for larger families, I think this is a great start.  You can pre-order yours beginning today here.

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5 Healthy Holidays – Day Five : Avoiding the Sugar Meanies

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photo cred: foto76 on www.freedigitalphotos.net

 

You guys. It is so hard to resist sugar. This time of year, anyone would be crazy to not have a hard time. Unless they were born without a sweet tooth, but that’s like being born without a bicuspid or wisdom teeth. It almost never happens.

So, what gives? Well, sugar is basically like heroin to your brain. I’ve never used heroin, so I can’t say for sure what it’s like. But I can tell you that getting a hit of sugar makes everything better. Blissful. Euphoric, even. For about 10 minutes. And then everything goes haywire. I get moody, emotional, snarky, maybe even a little bitchy. Then my husband does something mildly annoying or my son won’t stop crying and then I just can’t cope. So, I eat more sugar to help me cope, which is the thing that made me unable to cope in the first place. It is a mean, terrible cycle and once I’m caught in it, I feel nearly powerless to get out. Turns out, there’s a reason for that. This study claims that sugar is even MORE addictive than heroin or cocaine. I believe it.

That’s great information, right? But how do we reduce our sugar intake over the holidays? Because the reality is this: sometimes not eating the sugar makes me grumpy and bitchy, too. But that’s my fault, not the sugar’s fault. I’m capable of saying no and still being a decent, respectful human being.  At least I’m pretty sure I am.

I’ve developed a few tricks over the years to deal with the sugar meanies (that’s what I’m labeling this condition). Here they are:

  • Eat a protein packed breakfast. Having a solid layer of protein to start your day out will greatly increase your chances of avoiding low blood sugar, which increases your ability to make good food choices and be a respectful human being. Sugar meanies = avoided.
  • Keep a protein snack with you at all times. I keep a bag of pumpkin seeds (shell on) with me all day. They are a perfect seasonal treat, and provide fiber, which helps me feel full, and protein to help keep my blood sugar stabilized until I can eat a proper, balanced meal. But let’s be honest here: sometimes I don’t even get the balanced meal because I forget to make it a priority. Protien-based snacks are the only way to go when that happens.
  • Don’t let sugar define your holidays. Discover the joy of savory seasonal foods. Make real food and you will feel full, satisfied, and stable.  Serve real food and everyone else will feel the same way.  Seriously.  Try it.  Fall in love with savory.
  • Bring a treat with you. How many times have you arrived at a party or gathering and found nothing you can eat? My fix for this is simple: bring something. Besides looking like a very thoughtful and contributive guest to your party host, you also receive the added benefit of having something to eat. It’s a total win for you and the party.
  • Drink lots of water. This is so hard to do, especially when we get busy. But this is so important! Many times, we confuse dehydration for hunger. 48 ounces of water is the bare minimum to consume during the day, but most folks need double that, especially when we are inside with the heat blasting. Forced heat dries us out much more quickly than we might realize. Shoot for 100 ounces of room temperature water a day! You’ll find your hunger curbed, and your skin will be soft as an added bonus.
  • Save sugar for last. You go to a party. You spot the decadent treats. You even see one that meets all of your weird dietary criteria. Say yes to it. But say yes after you’ve eaten all the veggies and protein you can handle and had at least a full glass of water. Then circle back around to the sweet thing that caught your eye and decide if you still want it. If you do, go for it. Enjoy it. Savor it. Then be done. Give yourself permission to have it, though. You might find that the act of giving yourself a choice is all you need to be able to say no. And if you do partake, you’ll have a tummy full of nutritious food to soften the sugar meanies.

If you’re still having a hard time wrapping your sugared brain around what savory (and slightly sweet) treats to make, head over to The Leaky Boob for a list of my favorite elimination diet recipes of 2014.

Healthy Holidays – Breathe

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Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

As Christmas draws near, I find it entirely too easy to make not-important-things of the utmost importance. Every year, it’s the same silly story. I get busy; I over commit; I hurry too much and connect too little. By the time Christmas day rolls around, I feel spent and let down. And it’s all by my own choosing.

This year, I’m doing things differently. I’ve decided to have a peaceful season, which means putting the things that are really important first. Like my family, my spiritual connection to the season and my own well-being, because those get shuffled to the bottom of the list way too easily. Belongings, activities, and the pressure to just keep doing more crowd out all the delicious wonderful magic of these few weeks.  I’m putting my foot down and will not allow that to happen for one more day this season.

So, here we begin. 10 days until Christmas. 10 ways to make this a connected, healthful season. 10 opportunities to enrich my experience by taking good care of this life I’ve been given.  And this life is really great.

So, here we go.

Breathe

Remember those old Lamaze birthing techniques? My mom certainly used them during labor with my older brother and me. They’re funny to re-enact, but breathing doesn’t get nearly enough credit for keeping our bodies in good shape.

You guys, I FORGET TO BREATHE. I mean, not completely. My reptilian brain won’t let that happen. But the experience of breathing. Pulling air into my body, not just my lungs. Feeling it from my brain all the way through my chest and abdomen then down to my toes. The delightful electricity of oxygen in m blood. I go all day without really connecting to my breath and at the end of it, I’m all wound up and exhausted and worn out. I’ve deprived my brain and body of optimal oxygenation and it shows.

I catch myself literally holding my breath. Survival instinct is driving my brain and body and therefore my decisions. Have you ever tried to make a reasonable, rational decision when you’re being chased by a ravenous mountain lion? Yeah, me either. But this is exactly what happens when we are stuck in our reptilian, disconnected, survival space.  We don’t consciously choose anything when the survival mechanism is engaged…we go with the flow, react, keep our hearts beating and lungs breathing.

We are wired to survive. Great. But survival isn’t enough.

The moment I breathe, and I mean really focus on the act of breathing, my entire outlook changes. The way I move, the way I communicate, the way I make important decisions…it all changes. Within seconds, I reconnect to my spirit, my lovespace, my ability to be present in this moment.  It’s like the autopilot that has been making all of my vital choices gets switched off and I switch on.

One of my favorite breath techniques that I share with most of my clients is the Observational Breath. It’s so simple, and I do it multiple times a day. Here is the technique:

Step One: Close your eyes and breathe.
Step Two: Become an observer of your breath coming in and leaving your body.
Step Three: Allow your body to regulate the air coming in and going out.
Step Four: Continue until you feel calm and connected and then stop.

The simplicity of observational breathing astounds me. Go ahead and try it. I promise to be here when you open your eyes.

The second breath is the Breath Of Joy. I’ve included a YouTube link, because this one is a bit more involved. My dearest friend brought this to me one day. It is invigorating and helps me get moving when I’m feeling the gentle tendrils of mild depression reaching out for me in the morning, or the post-lunch sluggishness knocking on my ass. (Note: If you have high blood pressure, this is not recommended.)

So, before we reach for smartphones or sugary treats or third cup of coffee…breathe first. Feel it in your belly, take it to your toes. Be in the moment and breathe through your instinct to leave it. Then decide what to do, decide what to say, and decide what next step you want to take.  You presence matters.

For more tips on handling stress during the holidays (or any days!) visit our friends over at The Leaky Boob.

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Image courtesy of artur84 at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 

Sunbutter Brownies

Photo of Sunbutter BrowniesOne of my nieces, C, has a wicked peanut allergy.  It’s the epi-pen-everywhere-she-goes kind of peanut allergy.  She’s dealt with it all of her 11 years, long before it was the popular allergy to have. C was my first exposure to the reality of how profoundly devastating food allergies can be. I vividly remember my sister-in-law cleaning out their pantry and offering me a box full of nuts and nut products. The gentle reminders via email or phone call from my brother about their new nut-free home before weekend visits and family vacations in an effort keep C safe.

At the time, I didn’t grasp how drastically every social interaction changed for my brother’s family the moment C’s allergy necessitated an epi pen. It was a very serious condition for such a tiny human to deal with, and although I was fully committed to keeping her safe, I still forgot to leave the cashews in the car sometimes or check the label on her treats to make sure they weren’t made in a facility that processed peanuts. Luckily, my brother, sis-in-law, and oldest niece were vigilant and wouldn’t let anything that even hinted at peanuts to cross the threshold. (As it turns out, it was crazy hard to find toddler treats processed in a peanut-free facility 10 years ago. Now, it’s a bit easier because food allergies are so prevalent. ) I wish I could go back to 20-something year-old Carrie and give her a good shake about the reality of food allergies, and the sonic effect families with food allergies experience.

In spite of her challenges, C has always had a resilient and sunny attitude, even when it meant missing out on a special treat or experience with her friends or big sister.  C bounces along, continually looking for the silver lining, sharing her bright energy and outlook with the world. I wanted to create something especially for C, since nuts of all kinds are off limits now, and her family is trying to cut back on sugar. She’s a total chocoholic (it runs in the family!). Of course you can always sub a different seed or nut butter, but these are so yummy, there’s no need!

Ingredients:

  • 1 16 oz jar of smooth sunbutter
  • 2 eggs
  • 
1 avocado (yep, you read that right) or 1/4 cup coconut oil…but it won’t be as good as the avocado.
  • 1 cup coconut crystals
  • 
1 Tbsp vanilla extract
20 drops liquid stevia
  • 
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 bar of 90% dark chocolate, chopped
  • 
pinch of salt

Directions:

  1. Mash the avocado until totally smooth. You can put it in the food processor if you’d like.
  2. Add sunbutter, vanilla extract, stevia, eggs, and blend VERY WELL.
  3. Combine baking powder, cocoa powder, salt, and erythritol in a separate bowl, then add to sunbutter mixture, mixing well.
  4. Press mixture into 9×13 glass baking dish, and spread evenly. (A smaller dish is fine, too.)
  5. Sprinkle dark chocolate chunks over the top of the batter.
  6. Bake at 325 degrees for about 30-40 minutes.
  7. Allow to cool for 30 minutes before cutting.