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Freedom Kitchen for Kids with Lisa Jendza

Back when I was a teacher, there was so much I wanted to share with my students about health and nutrition. However, there simply was not enough room in my science curriculum to be able to squeeze in all the lessons I wanted to impart.

Between state standards and the limited amount of time kids actually spend in science or health class, it’s no surprise that we’re not teaching children what they need to know about nutrition. By the time they get to be adults, they may already be dealing with ailments and trying to reverse the effects of their eating habits.

What if we teach children about healthy eating from the start instead of waiting until an illness or disease develops? That’s the thinking behind Lisa Jendza’s Freedom Kitchen Kids program, which offers family-friendly cooking classes. Through the program, kids learn not only how to cook, but also how to take care of themselves and make healthy choices.

As my guest on a recent podcast, Lisa filled me in on the program and how it’s teaching children the joy of creating in the kitchen and the importance of self-care. “When it comes to our kids, we’re having a lot of conversations now about reversing ailments,” says Lisa, “but yet we’re not talking to the kids about preventing them.”

Freedom Kitchen Kids is the program we all needed growing up—and one that can have a real impact on kids’ health as they mature. Instead of teaching about dieting or eliminating foods, it’s about finding healthy swaps and learning the difference between real and processed foods.

Going Beyond the Food Pyramid

If you’re looking for readily available information on healthy eating to share with kids, you might think it’s a safe bet to rely on the Food Pyramid or the more recent MyPlate initiative. However, says Lisa, these dietary guidelines fall short of addressing our nutritional needs.

For example, MyPlate doesn’t account for healthy fats—and, in general, MyPlate doesn’t account for potentially inflammatory ingredients like gluten and lactose that may be problematic for some people.

“So it is up to parents and people like you to educate our kids so that they know that we need to start with real foods,” says Lisa. That means helping your children find real-food alternatives to the brightly colored boxes of processed foods they see at eye level in the grocery store.

The Solution? Get Cooking

So how do you teach your kids about healthy eating? Cook with your kids.

Lisa’s cooking classes offer a fun way to educate children on the health benefits of real foods. Show them that these foods can be delicious, too, and you’ll instill in them a love of eating for their health—so that when they grow up and leave the nest, they’ll carry the lessons with them for life.

Metabolically speaking, you’re doing your kids a great service when you teach them to eat healthily—not only now, but later on down the road. Instead of having to undo years of bad eating habits in middle age, they’ll be set up for success from the start. You’re also passing along generational health to our future leaders, teachers, police officers, and other members of society.

“The beautiful thing to me is that the kids become empowered and they become personally responsible,” says Lisa. “And they’re proud of that. They take pride. They’re not looking then for someone to cook for them or take care of them. They actually want to cook for their family.”

Be sure to check out Lisa’s website at freedomkitchenkids.com to learn more about her virtual classroom and other resources for parents and educators.

How Do Stress and Blood Sugar Affect Your Thyroid?

I consider myself to be somewhat of a data nerd, so it’s no surprise that I recently decided to start wearing a continuous glucose monitor (CGM). I find that it gives me a clear picture of what’s going on inside my body, according to what I’m eating, as well as what I can do to improve my health.

The device itself is fairly unobtrusive. It attaches to the back of my arm and continuously reads my blood sugar, or glucose, using an app on my phone.

For the most part, the CGM has reinforced what I already knew as far as how blood sugar and stress affect the thyroid. That’s the focus of this article, so I won’t go into all the details of this whole three-month process that I’m going through.

The reason I want to focus on blood sugar and stress specifically is that oftentimes, people don’t even realize they’re stressed.

They say everything’s fine with their marriage or their finances, but when you dig deeper, it’s clear they’re impacted by stress in other ways. For example, maybe they’re taking care of an elderly family member or a child with a disability. The day-to-day of handling other stressors has become so commonplace that they don’t even realize how much they’re impacted by stress.

My Encounter With Acute Stress

I saw this phenomenon in action recently. I had not been feeling well, and I didn’t connect the dots to identify stress as the root cause—because again, sometimes stressors creep in without us realizing it.

With the CGM, it has shown me how different stresses impact my body, even outside of what I’m eating. In my case, I was experiencing a situational stress related to my daughter’s upcoming travels, which would take her to Spain. Even though I was excited and happy for her (I love adventure, too!), I was also stressed about my daughter leaving for another country for four months.

And I know discussed before that when you have a thyroid condition, stress absolutely impacts the function of the thyroid. Symptoms I noticed included poor-quality sleep and cravings for sugary or carby foods. In addition, the CGM reflected how much my blood sugar was affected by stress.

To date, I had had a good blood-sugar response to whatever foods I was eating. A good response means that when you eat, your blood sugar goes up and then gradually goes back down as your body absorbs it into its cells. Well, that process had been a lot slower for me.

And then the anxious person in me started thinking, “Oh my gosh, I’m going to start to be pre-diabetic. And now I’m going to have to worry about that and deal with that on top of the thyroid issues.”

Meanwhile, my blood sugars were way higher the whole entire night when I should have been sleeping. That alone kept me a little more alert, preventing me from getting high-quality, restorative or muscle sleep.

I thought I was managing everything just fine, dealing with this anticipation of my child leaving the country for four months—but biochemically, the numbers told a different story.

Stress Management Is Key

This is why it is so important for everyone to have some kind of daily practice for managing stress. No, you don’t have to wear a glucose monitor if you don’t want to, but here’s what I do recommend:

  • Eat whole foods.
  • Eliminate processed foods as much as possible.
  • Eat at regular times.
  • Tune in to what’s going on in your life and how stress might be impacting your body.
  • Develop a daily practice of mindfulness or calming activities, such as journaling, prayer, meditation, or even just five or 10 minutes of quiet with no phone or television.
  • Incorporate a quick 10-minute walk after lunch or dinner to help stabilize your blood sugar.

I’ll admit it was a little hard at the airport, saying farewell to my daughter when she left for Spain. Although I realized that logically, she’d be back in four months, I also felt emotional in the moment.

Wearing the CGM has helped me be aware of these kinds of stressors, because ultimately, it can manifest as trauma living in the body. With or without a CGM, when you can begin to recognize triggers for your stress, you can develop a plan for mitigating the stress response—both in the moment and the next time a stressor rears its not-so-pretty head.

Be sure to sign up for a free guide to fight fatigue with five easy ways to conquer your sleep and banish fatigue for good by clicking on this link.

The 5 Stages of Dealing with Hypothyroidism

If you feel like you might be struggling with thyroid issues, I know it can be a lonely and frustrating feeling. It doesn’t have to be that way, however.

By shedding light on the five stages of dealing with hypothyroidism, I hope to convey that there is help for your symptoms. It’s possible to come out on the other side feeling healthier, stronger, and more like yourself again.

Stage Zero

This is where there is nothing in your wheelhouse that would suggest you have a thyroid condition. You might feel tired. You might have a little bit of depression or sadness, or just a feeling that all is not right in your world.

You might be a little bit anxious here and there. Maybe your weight doesn’t come off as easily as it used to. And then you think, “I just need more willpower” or “I’m getting older.”

On the other hand, when these issues are happening routinely, there could be something connected to your dysregulated or dysfunctional thyroid gland way before a diagnosis even happens. Note that this stage can last a really long time, and it looks a bit different for everyone.

Stage 1

This is where your fatigue becomes more of a regular routine—to where you actually think, “Gosh, I might be depressed, or I might actually have anxiety.”

You start to exercise more. But you notice you’re still struggling with your weight.

“So, I will just reduce more calories,” you think. You start putting your calories and exercise expenditures into some kind of app, maybe to the point of disordered eating—adding to your feelings of anxiety and depression.

It becomes a vicious cycle. And you also might notice that you’re getting sick more often.

Stage 2

Now you finally seek out help, because you have some awareness that all of this isn’t normal. Hoping for a thyroid diagnosis, you get tested, and your doctor runs various labs. Everything comes back “normal,” and they brush off your feelings, saying this is just what happens when we age.

Oh, and by the way, there’s a medication for that—antidepressants, anti-anxieties, weight loss medications, medications to deal with blood sugar imbalance. You name it.

The problem, though, is the meds don’t actually deal with the root cause of what is going on, and you’re not even aware of what that might be.

Stage 3

You keep struggling. You become more of everything that I’ve already mentioned: more depressed, more anxious, more dissatisfied with your body composition.

You might crave more. You might exercise more but feel more tired from that. You aren’t able to manage stress very well.

At this point, you might get diagnosed with:

  • A gut health disorder or an autoimmune condition like celiac disease
  • Clinical depression, meaning another antidepressant
  • Anemia, and you start taking over-the-counter iron, leading to side effects like nausea and constipation

Stage 4

You go back to the doctor. At this point, you might be on several medications. Maybe you finally find someone who will actually test more than just one thyroid marker. If you’re lucky, you’ll get a full panel.

You might finally get a diagnosis of hypothyroidism with an option to take medication. Maybe you decline because you don’t want to take more meds. Then your symptoms worsen.

You might end up with an autoimmune thyroid condition called Hashimoto’s. So you start taking the medication that you got from your thyroid diagnosis, and you begin to feel a little bit better. Eventually, it’s not doing the trick because you have not dealt with all of the other things that go into supporting the thyroid gland.

Stage 5

When you find someone like me who will actually help you, this is stage five. Here’s where you will finally get the help you need to overcome thyroid fatigue, depression, anxiety, and lack of motivation.

And whatever you’ve told yourself, you don’t have to restrict calories. You don’t have to over-exercise to get your energy back. You don’t necessarily need to be on an antidepressant or anti-anxiety medication.

I’m not saying you should never be on those medications. I’m saying that in order to overcome the symptoms that you’ve been struggling with for 10 or 20 years, we have to dig deep to get to those root causes.

I invested in someone who actually understood what I was going through and told me that what I was feeling was legitimate. Within a short amount of time, the light at the end of the tunnel became brighter and brighter and brighter.

Out of all the things I’ve said, I want you to know that there is hope. With my help, you can emerge feeling amazing and live a full, energetic life once again.

Be sure to sign up for a free guide to fight fatigue with five easy ways to conquer your sleep and banish fatigue for good by clicking on this link.

Top 5 Issues Thyroid Patients Deal With and What To Do About It

When you’re dealing with thyroid issues, it can be quite frustrating. I’ve talked to so many people who have just given up. We’re told that fatigue, weight gain, depression, anxiety, and feelings of hopelessness are “fine” because there are meds for all of that, and most of us have tried all of them at one time or another.Yet they rarely work in the long term, and it just keeps us on this hamster wheel, a vicious cycle that never gets resolved.In my experience of recovering from thyroid cancer and now absent a thyroid gland, I have no choice but to take medications. I’m grateful I have that option, but meds aren’t the only answer if you have a thyroid condition.Here’s a look at the top five issues you might be dealing with as a thyroid patient and what you can do about them.

FatigueYou might think it’s just normal to feel exhausted all the time, especially if you lead a busy life with a job, kids, household responsibilities, and so on. You might explain it away that you’re tired because you’re constantly running around.The fatigue associated with thyroid conditions is different from feeling tired after a busy day, however. It’s debilitating, like the feeling you might have while pregnant (for those of you who can relate to that). Your body is constantly tired and in pain.
Weight Gain

For someone with a thyroid condition, the typical “calories in, calories out” model of weight loss and maintenance doesn’t work. Exercising to burn calories, tracking every gram of food, and obsessing over calorie counts never worked for me, and I would venture to guess it’s not working for you either.Anybody who’s ever relied on this old model might think they can burn fat either by reducing caloric intake and/or through exercise. This method does not work for all, however, and you might have found yourself frustrated when the weight doesn’t budge even when you’re diligent.Poor Gut Health

Most of the people I work with have major issues with acid reflux, constipation, bloating, diarrhea, or some combination of these issues. It’s common for thyroid patients to struggle with digestive upset and lack of absorption of nutrients due to low stomach acid.Oftentimes, people take over-the-counter medications to mitigate these symptoms. Over time, their body grows dependent on OTC meds, and they’re afraid to stop taking them because when they do, symptoms return.No one has ever advised them to change how they’re eating in order to resolve the underlying issues. Well, let me be the one to say there are better options than taking OTC meds for the rest of your life.

Depression and Anxiety

Also common among thyroid patients is depression and anxiety. Some people present more depressed with low energy and feelings of hopelessness. Others are more anxious, tired, wired, worried, and even panicked.Now, we all know there are times in life when we have reasons to be more anxious or depressed. What I’m talking about is long-term, chronic feelings of depression and anxiety. Like fatigue, it can also be debilitating.

Aches and Pains

Aches and pains could present as headaches or pain in the feet, knees, or just muscles in general. What I see clinically and biochemically is a cluster of nutrients that are deficient, stemming from gut health, inflammation, lifestyle factors, certain foods, and medications. Those deficiencies just lead to more and more of these symptoms.Side note: Some people may try to combat the anxiety, stress, and pain they feel by drinking alcohol, but alcohol makes matters worse and inhibits thyroid function.

Finding Solutions

If you try to resolve all of these issues at once, you may get overwhelmed and quit. So the first thing you can do when dealing with one or all of these issues is to find someone who actually wants to help you get to the root cause of your symptoms.That’s how I work with people. I look at what we can do to support everything underlying so that you can actually resolve your symptoms and come out on the other side, feeling like you were supposed to feel.No, you don’t have to give in to your symptoms as though they’re some kind of “new normal,” nor can you simply order a wellness test online and think you’re going to figure it out on your own. It takes the patience and guidance of someone like me who’s lived what you’re going through or has helped people like you.Aside from that, here are some basics I recommend incorporating into your life:

●     Add meditation into your life. Start with five minutes a day, and stick with it.
●     Move away from eating processed foods, and focus more on whole foods as much as you possibly can.
●     Eat your macros in balance. Start by making sure you get ample amounts of protein at each meal, a good 4 to 6 ounces.

 

If you follow these tips, you should notice a big difference in two weeks’ time. Don’t feel like you have to do it all, but start somewhere, and you will start to regain balance and normalize.Care to get on a call to talk more? Schedule your FREE Thyroid Breakthrough Session today by clicking here.

How Does Alcohol Affect Thyroid Function?

It’s safe to say that over the past couple of years, people may have been reaching for alcohol more often than usual. Whether due to boredom, anxiety due to the pandemic, or the celebration of a return to in-person gatherings, the drinks have been flowing.

Unfortunately, along with that, there’s the potential for anxiety, depression, decreased thyroid functioning, and other health issues.

While drinking in moderation can work for some people, it can also be problematic under certain circumstances. If you’re struggling with autoimmune thyroid issues, for example, alcohol isn’t going to be your friend. It’s also not helpful if you have undue stress in your life, in which case alcohol may make matters worse.

Why Alcohol and Thyroid Don’t Mix

Alcohol directly affects what’s called the hypothalamus pituitary axis, aka HPA. People who consume alcohol on a regular basis are directly affecting this pathway, messing with important brain chemicals like serotonin and dopamine. In time, because our bodily systems are interconnected, chronic alcohol consumption can negatively impact your thyroid.

So if you’re having a glass of wine as you cook dinner or enjoying a glass among friends, how much is too much?

It depends. If you suspect you’re experiencing the negative effects of alcohol, including anxiety, depression, or an underperforming thyroid, it might be beneficial to cut out alcohol, at least for now. Let’s take a closer look at why.

Alcohol Is a Known Toxin

Alcohol, whose key intoxicating ingredient is ethanol, is known to have a direct, toxic effect on the thyroid gland. Consider for a moment that one of the treatment options for thyroid cancer is ethanol ablation, which can kill off the part of the thyroid gland that is not functioning well.

That should tell you something, right?

So if you are someone who is struggling with getting your thyroid optimized, medications leveled, and symptoms in check, you would do well to avoid alcohol, even in moderation. Although ironically, moderate alcohol consumption can actually reduce thyroid cancer risk, you might want to avoid drinking until you can get your thyroid optimized.

So what can you do instead of popping the cork? I’ve got five tips:

1. Remove alcohol completely to get to the root of your thyroid problems.

When we drink, the alcohol has to be processed by the liver, and in part, so do your thyroid hormones. Your liver will prioritize processing alcohol and eliminating the toxin from your system over hormone conversion. This means your hormone conversion will be put on the back burner for several hours after drinking alcohol.

2. Work to improve your liver health.

Fill your plate with healthy, whole foods, with a focus on colorful, antioxidant-rich plant foods that help with detoxification. Add turmeric to your foods, combined with black pepper to aid absorption. Oh, and drink filtered water.

3. Do a specific liver detoxification/gut health protocol.

I’m not talking about a colon cleanse here; a safe, carefully designed detoxification will help you clean out your body and improve gut health so you can start from scratch. I guarantee if you clean up your liver and the foods you’re eating, a lot of your symptoms will start to fall away.

4. Carefully experiment with alcohol.

I’m never going to be one to say that no one should ever drink alcohol again, because that’s not realistic for a lot of people. Barring any addiction issues, you may wish to experiment with alcohol to add it back.

However, you need to pay close attention to how alcohol impacts your sleep, your day-to-day functioning, and other factors. How did you recover the next day? What kind of alcohol were you drinking?

5. Use better quality alcohol.

Organic wines and clear liquors are slightly better options than, say, non-organic wines that have additives or drinks that contain added sugars. Vodka and soda with lime is a better choice than vodka with a sugary mixer, for example. With sugary drinks, you’re not only processing the alcohol, but also the fructose, putting extra load on your liver.

Really, it’s a matter of trial and error, and then sticking with what makes you feel the best. For some people, drinking a couple of times a week isn’t a big deal, but for others, it’s too much.

In part, it’s a matter of building new habits that support your thyroid and overall health. If you regularly consume alcohol and you’re experiencing signs of thyroid dysfunction, such as brain fog, anxiety, depression, or poor gut health, consider abstaining for a while. You might just find that you feel so amazing, you no longer crave that nightly drink.

Be sure to sign up for a free guide to fight fatigue with five easy ways to conquer your sleep and banish fatigue for good by clicking on this link.