Gut Health and Fermented Foods Course: 31st March 2019 #ad

**Disclaimer: I am co-hosting this gut health and fermented foods course, which is why I am declaring it an ad. For my full disclosure policy, click here.**

Do you have a plan to keep healthy, especially over the colder months? If the answer is no, and you know deep down your diet could do with a bit of a kick up the bum, then I think you need my top three tips.

gut health and fermented foods

Eat mostly real food

Real foods are ingredients in their natural state – fruit, veggies, meat, fish, eggs, unprocessed dairy and plenty of probiotic rich fermented food and drink (more on that in point three). A real food diet essentially means making your own meals from scratch. I understand how daunting this sounds to many, but if you want to eat your way to better health, it’s absolutely non-negotiable.

Mark Sisson, author of the Primal Blueprint and phenomenally successful website Mark’s Daily Apple, advocates eating like a saint for 80% of the time and allowing ourselves 20% leeway. I started coming away from processed food and refined sugar in 2007, went paleo in 2012, and followed the gut healing GAPS diet in 2014. Nowadays I run at around 90% awesome diet, 10% leeway. As I’m insulin resistant, because of my PCOS, this works really well for my body. Everyone is different of course, and for many people 80/20 is optimum.

Be honest about your relationship with sugar

gut health and fermented foods

I don’t have all the answers, just my own personal experience. It took me going through the GAPS Intro Diet to properly ditch my sugar cravings, and I can now go an entire week without having anything sweet. No fruit, no chocolate, no naturally sweetened puddings, nothing. If we’re entertaining, or going to friends for lunch, I’ll make dessert (such as these brownies, or this caramel slice), but I don’t feel the need to eat sweet things every day like I did prior to 2014.

None of us are able to, or are going to want to, eat perfectly, which is fine, because none of us are perfect. We do, however, have a massive problem with the way society views food in the main. We were duped, and sold the idea that fat was bad. We were told for many years that we should be eating low fat foods because they were healthy. In actual fact, they are full of sugar and sweeteners, because when you remove the fat from food you also take away most of the flavour.

Of course, now we know that sugar consumption contributes to a whole host of health problems, but largely society is addicted to the stuff. So what is the solution?

Bombard your gut with fermented foods to help the good bacteria flourish 

The only way to know exactly what we’re putting into our bodies, is by getting in the kitchen and making our own food. There is no quick fix, but the good news is we can wholeheartedly reverse the damage caused by a poor diet with a great one. The way to make it enjoyable is to get into the right frame of mind.

gut health and fermented foods

Even when we are as time poor as most of us are, there are plenty of ways to incorporate healthy food into our busy schedules. They don’t get better than home made probiotics in the form of fermented veggies, kefir and kombucha.

In her fascinating book Cultured Food for Health, Donna Schwenk talks about the incredible health benefits to be gained by adding these three fermented food and drinks to our daily diets. Working in harmony with each other, they create billions of beneficial bacteria, and help with a multitude of ailments. These include: constipation, diarrhoea, acne, acid reflux, sleep issues, liver cleansing, adrenal support, candida, inflammation and food intolerance.

Knowing where to start when it comes to gut health and fermented foods can be overwhelming. Which is why myself and my very good friend Trish have created our comprehensive one day course. By the end of the day with us you’ll have learnt how to make kefir, kombucha, sauerkraut, sour cream and a sourdough bread starter. We’ll feed you a nourishing, home cooked lunch, and there will even be the chance to sample home made cider from foraged apples.

Check out the flyer below for all the info, and email us to secure your place on the course. Spaces are limited and getting booked up fast! 

gut health and fermented foods

Countdown to Christmas and Win Prizes Daily with the Fantastic Services Advent #ad

**Disclaimer: I have written this blog to advertise the Fantastic Services advent calendar as part of my brand ambassadorship. I am not being paid to write this piece, but my services are carried out by Fantastic in exchange for my honest reviews. Please click here for my full disclosure policy.**

If you like winning prizes, you’ll love the Fantastic Services Advent Calendar

Why should the kids have all the fun on the run up to Christmas? Every day between the first and twenty fourth of December, head over to Fantastic Services and click on the numbered door on the calendar, for your chance to win a prize. Best of luck!

Fantastic Services Advent

Oh Christmas tree

Fantastic have taken care of my family’s Christmas tree needs for two years in a row. I wrote an extensive review last year, but to summarise:

– Complete a simple online form, which will take you approx. 90 seconds
– Select which size real Christmas tree you would like (4 to 8 ft)
Fantastic Services advent– Fantastic will deliver your tree to your home (within the M25) on the day and time slot you choose
– Fantastic can decorate your tree, if you wish
– Fantastic can collect your tree during the first week of January for recycling, if you wish
– Click here for all the details

Let Fantastic take care of your Christmas pressies this year 

Anyone who read my piece on having a more eco Christmas knows how much I abhor pointless presents. Useful and/or meaningful gifts all the way here. And they don’t get much more useful than outsourcing your chores to Fantastic. I don’t know a single person who enjoys cleaning their house, or scrubbing their oven. Especially after entertaining over the festivities.

Fantastic are so more than just a team of cleaners though. They offer everything from house removals to furniture collections and assembly, to pest control, waste removal, handyman, gardening and so much more. You’d be hard pressed not to find something they could do in order to give your loved ones a break. I’m sure you would manage to put a smile on the grumpiest of grinches faces by giving them Fantastic gift vouchers on the 25th.

Exclusive discount and contact details 

Enter the code ‘MumTries’ for an exclusive discount, when making your booking with Fantastic. Please see below for their website and social media accounts:

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Turns Out (For Me, Aged 39) Early Menopause is a Lot Like Early Pregnancy

I’ve been convinced for the last year or so that I’m going through early menopause. This is also known as perimenopause, and can last for years. According to the medical world, the average age for women to go through the Big M is 51. Anything between 40-60 is considered within normal range, so at 39, it would appear I’m slightly ahead of the game. Now, of course, every woman is different, but for me, early menopause symptoms have been disconcertingly similar to early pregnancy. Here’s why…

early menopauseHormones

I have been ruled by my hormones since I started going through puberty. My periods were horrendous from the off. I’m not just talking a few cramps. I would bleed heavily, and pass huge blood clots. I would have to stay home from school several days each month, and lie on the sofa with my legs elevated.

Back then (1991) the standard response for girls with troublesome monthlies was to put them on the contraceptive pill. Yes, at twelve years old. No investigation into why it was happening, or any kind of natural remedy suggestions. Just pop these pills and forget about it. There are not enough facepalm emojis for how I feel about this now.

Goodness only knows what almost fifteen years on the pill did to my body, and is it any wonder my moods were all over the place? In all three of my pregnancies I was a lot more irritable than usual in the early days. Not surprisingly, PMT has always featured, but for the last year or so, I’ve averaged three days per cycle of feeling like a stark raving lunatic.

Lack of periods and sore boobs

For some very lucky ladies, their periods stopping will be the first indication of the menopause. A friend of mine, who is 52, said the only symptom she had was not having a period. I knew I’d never be so fortunate. Having suffered with heavy bleeding for almost thirty years, I always thought their absence would be 100% welcome. However, my first missed period came with sore boobs and sent me into a proper tailspin. The irrational voice inside my head was yelling “you are way too young for the menopause, you must be pregnant,” while the sane one shook their head knowingly. My husband and I are far too careful to be accidentally making babies. Well, mostly, anyway.

Apparently periods can come and go during the peri days, and you’re not officially classed as menopausal until you’ve gone an entire year without one. During the change they can be erratic and cycles can get longer. For me, my super heavy periods haven’t been nearly as heavy. I said to a friend recently that it feels like they are drying up. When they do appear, I only properly bleed for one day. Which compared with the past – four or five days of heavy bleeding and two days of light bleeding – adds weight to my theory.

early menopause

I’m not going to lie, a completely absent period is nerve wracking at my age. Why is it akin to early pregnancy? Well, there is a urine test you can do to measure your hormone levels. After you’ve peed on a stick, you can confirm the results with a blood test via the GP. Sound familiar, mamas?

Other noticeable symptoms

There is a huge list of symptoms and body changes that could be accounted for because you’re going through early menopause. Among which are: hot flushes, night sweats, insomnia, lack of libido, mood swings, anxiety, abdominal weight gain and needing the loo more often. These are all things I have been going through intermittently this past year, but also ticked all the boxes between my three pregnancies.

Pretty much the same health advice applies to the menopause as other conditions which affect our mental health. Don’t drink too much. Exercise regularly. Eat sensibly – avoiding refined sugar and processed food as much as possible. Thankfully I have been avoiding these things for many years, so I’m hoping this is helping my cause. You can check out my paleo recipes here if you like.

There are also various supplements which are recommended. I wrote a piece recently about naturally lowering cortisol, which you might find useful. For a more comprehensive piece about alleviating symptoms the natural way, check out this brilliant post from Dr. Axe.

early menopauseFuture gazing

I believe living with chronic stress has triggered early menopause for me, so it probably doesn’t come as a shock to hear that all these changes have put me in a reflective mood. Prior to having children, I said I’d have two or four. Kids in odd numbers just felt like a bad idea. After having three kids in four years though, I knew I was done having babies. Every now and then I’ve pondered the what ifs, but ultimately I am confident that more children in this particular family would be a terrible idea.

So I’ve come to three conclusions of late

  1. Davis number four will wholeheartedly be a fur baby.
  2. I refuse point blank to be scared of the menopause. In fact my current frame of mind is very similar to being told I was infertile at 27. I don’t take this shit lying down, trust me.
  3. I’m ready for the big M. It’s rather apt that it’s come early for me, as so much else in my life has. I certainly will not be missing my periods, and who knows, I might even fare up better hormonally after it’s all over? Stranger things have happened I guess.

Are you going through or have been through early menopause? Do you have any pearls of wisdom to pass on? I’m opening up comments on this page for anyone wishing to leave one. Big hugs ladies, let’s keep the conversation going! 

The Poverty Bandwagon

There’s a lot of noise being made about people jumping on the so-called poverty bandwagon. Apparently lots of highly successful, super affluent people had a tough start to life. Apparently they experienced poverty. Apparently they know the pain associated with the breadline. I say apparently because I am not them and cannot make comments on their lives. I can only talk about my own experiences and views on the world.

Poverty is no joke, and is all too real for too many. According to leading charities, 14 million people live in poverty in the UK. That’s approx. one in five of the population, which is made up of eight million working-age adults, four million children and two million pensioners. Eight million families living in poverty, where at least one person is in work. Think about that for one minute.

If you search #poverty on Instagram you’ll find over half a million posts. I honestly don’t have the words to articulate how I feel about this, but perhaps that’s part of the problem? Can everything in life really be summed up with a catchy, SEO optimised, Google friendly hashtag?

poverty bandwagon

Poverty and dysfunction don’t have to go hand in hand

I have spoken about my dysfunctional upbringing since my very first blog post on here in 2013. I never talk about my childhood to jump on the poverty bandwagon, or stay relevant. I talk about it because it still affects my day to day now. I do not know a single person, not one, who escaped a traumatic childhood without war wounds. How deep the scars run varies, but no-one gets away scot-free.

We can stick our broken pieces back together. We can have all the counselling in the world. We can write until we own the word catharsis. We can do everything in our power to break self-destructive behaviour cycles. Ultimately though, whether we like it or not, our past is a part of us. Making peace with it will help us heal, but it won’t erase the memories of it.

Dysfunction stems from not dealing with our demons and allowing them to overtake our lives. Dysfunction occurs regardless of the size of our bank accounts. None of us are immune to negative cycles turning into serious dysfunction. It’s up to us all to be self-aware enough to either stop things spiralling out of control, or admit when things have spiralled and seeking help.

Some of the kindest, most generous people I’ve had the privilege to know throughout the years have been dirt poor. Poverty doesn’t stop you from being a good, kind hearted person. Just as money doesn’t stop others from being mean spirited and unkind. We all have a moral compass and can choose to tune in or out to it.

Poverty certainly doesn’t stop us from being the best parents who ever walked the planet. Love is free of charge, after all.

poverty bandwagon

Lack of financial wellness

In April 2008 I had to declare bankruptcy. At the time it was a truly horrendous experience – degrading, humiliating and soul destroying. However, it forced me to take a long hard look at my relationship with money. Toxic doesn’t come close. No-one had ever taught me about financial wellness. I had zero idea of the impact on my mental health that being in debt from the day I could legally have a credit card would have.

Had I not gone bankrupt I might still have ridiculous and snobby views on buying things second hand. These days pretty much everything I buy comes from charity shops or selling sites. I’m not ashamed for my kids to wear clothes that have been kindly passed on to them, and they love knowing their friends wore it before them.

When I was a kid we had loan sharks who preyed on those with little cash to lend small amounts of money at extortionate rates. Nowadays they are on almost every high street in the form of pay day loans. I’ve often wondered how many are being kept in poverty because of them. That’s a whole other blog post though.

poverty bandwagon

Poverty is not glamorous 

Whilst I have never experienced living poverty as a parent, living through it as a child was very valid. Yes it was a different era, but no electricity or food in the cupboards on a regular basis was pretty tough going. Sleeping on floors at fifteen years old. Being exploited working underage. Having dirty old men ply me with booze and try to take advantage of me every week. Do I honestly think these things would have happened if I’d come from a “nice and wholesome” middle classed family? I doubt it very much indeed.

Right now, today, I live a comfortable life. I don’t have to stress about where my next £10 is coming from. Whose to say this will always be the case, though? I am all too aware that falling into poverty could happen to most of us. I’m not setting up a hashtag, or going on a crusade, but I will continue to donate to women’s refuges and food banks and hygiene banks. I’ll still take food to homeless people and carry on trying to help in any way I can. Be it spreading the word on social media about a crisis campaign or not buying Christmas presents and donating what I would have spent.

Great things can happen when people put their heads together

Scotland recently announced they would make sanitary products available for all students, let’s hope the rest of the UK follows suit. This incredible initiative would have never happened if girls and women had stayed silent about their situation, and carried on putting up and shutting up month after month.

There are success stories all over the internet. Of people who experienced temporary poverty and turned to their local community for support. When communities help their own, it builds lasting foundations. It helps get to the root cause of problems, so cycles can be broken.

There are some absolutely amazing people making noise for those less fortunate, in a non-patronising, non-IG filtered way. If you honestly want to help, start by opening your eyes, and taking a proper look. This A-Z guide of grass roots charities is a great place to start.

If you want to do something good, don’t jump on the poverty bandwagon with second hand stories and tenuous links. It pisses people off, and takes away from the truly needy. If everyone has had it “really really hard”, then how do we know who genuinely has?

**many thanks to Unsplash.com for the gorgeous, copyright free, free to download photos**

Gut Health and Fermented Foods Course (March 31st 2019)

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