Homemade Bug Repellent: avoiding DEET this summer

It’s officially summertime and my family and I are gearing up for the four hour drive to our cabin in the interior of British Columbia. My kids get super excited about this trip each year (sometimes we manage it twice), and as I’m writing this, they’re literally bouncing off the walls. In fact, I’ll have to remember to clean them later. (The walls; not the kids. Although I guess cleaner kids would result in cleaner walls…)

Anyway, one of the items on my must-have list for the lake is bug spray. Mosquitos can make or break the trip, since both my husband and daughter swell with each and every bite and my daughter becomes miserable. But here’s the thing: I’m SO not into commercially preparations like OFF. They usually contain DEET, which is incredibly toxic.

So, I make my own. Wanna know how? (All of the following ingredients can be found at the health food store.)


  • 4 oz. distilled water
  • 3 oz. witch hazel
  • ½ tsp. vegetable glycerine
  • 50 drops of essential oil; choose from:
    • Lavender
    • Citronella
    • Lemon grass
    • Clove
    • Tea tree
    • Mint
    • Eucalyptus


Find an empty 8 oz. spray bottle. Fill half full of distilled water, and add rest of ingredients. Shake well, and apply generously to exposed skin. Shake before each use.

Happy children sitting on green grass outdoors in summer park

For those of you thinking that store-bought bug spray sounds easier; check this out:

“One of the most widely used ingredients in store-bought conventional bug sprays for personal use is N,N-Diethyl-m-toluamide, or DEET, as it’s commonly known. DEET, which is designed to repel, rather than kill, insects. DEET is used by an estimated one-third of the US population each year. Although DEET is approved by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), it is a known eye irritant and can cause rashes, soreness, or blistering when applied to the skin. Additionally, DEET has been linked to neurological problems; according to the EPA, at least 18 different cases of children suffering adverse neurological effects, as well as the deaths of two adults, have been associated with DEET. Researchers at Duke University Medical Center have found that DEET causes diffuse brain cell death and behavioral changes in rats.” [1][2]

So…seems like a no-brainer to me. I’m off to make the essential oil spray, and I’ll write all about how well it worked when I get back.

Adios, amigos! Have a great 10 days!


[2] http://wellnessmama.com/2565/homemade-bug-spray/

5 Signs of Good Health: what “healthy” truly looks like

Healthy woman

The definition of “healthy” is different for many of us. Some people believe health is what is attained once you’ve cut out carbs, and others feel that they’re healthy if they’re abstaining from processed sugar. But health is a broad term. Are you healthy if you aren’t currently diagnosed with a chronic disease? Does veganism equal health?

What exactly does is mean to be truly healthy?

Happy children sitting on green grass outdoors in summer park

The following points are what I’ve come up with, both during my own observations and experiences, as well as asking others this question. Here are what I consider to be five signs that you are really healthy:

  1. You consistently get 7-8 hours of sleep every night, and wake up feeling refreshed. Great, consistent sleep is a fabulous indicator of good health. It means your body is regulated, your cortisol levels and core body temperature are normal, and you have the ability to let your mind rest peacefully, which indicates low stress. If you can achieve amazing sleep, congratulations! If you fall into the category of those who can’t sleep, I can assure you, I’ve definitely been there. For me, there are 3 things that I’ve identified as being culprits here: alcohol consumption (if I have more than one glass of wine, sleep is up in the air), stress (overthinking things), and excitement (not calming down enough for your body to rest). Other things that can lead to bad sleep include eating right before bed (your body will buzz with the energy t takes to digest that snack), sleeping in a warm room, and too much light.
  2. You have energy throughout the entire day. No 3pm slump for you! How does one obtain this? Aside from having a decent sleep, it’s with food. Good food. Food that contains proper energy sources and the correct balance of nutrients to assist your body in lasting happily throughout the entire day. Real food—not a chocolate bar. A good tip: eat a light, healthy lunch (lettuce wraps or salad with wild salmon), and then grab a snack around 3 o’clock. A smoothie, homemade granola bar, or boiled egg with salsa and avocado are great examples.
  3. You’re moving your bowels in a healthy way at least once a day. Now, when I specify “healthy” here, I mean that your movements are effortless, quick, significant, and normal-looking. (Not loose.) If you’re feeling empty after visiting the washroom, that’s good. To achieve better bowel movements, try tracking how much insoluble fibre you ingest (you need this to sweep your colon clean), and make sure you’re drinking enough water. Foods that can make BMs subpar are dairy, too much heavy meat, heavy breads (especially if you’re sensitive to wheat or gluten), and too much sugar. For more information on how to obtain better digestive health, check out Happy Healthy Gut.
  4. Your skin is clear, and your hair and nails look good. Your skin is your largest organ, and what it looks like says a lot about your health. Same goes for your hair and nails. Dry, brittle nails and hair can signify dehydration, and peeling problems can represent vitamin deficiencies. For better skin, hair, and nails, try drinking more water and eating more vegetables. Cut down on processed sugar, and begin to look at your food as fuel for your body.
  5. You’re happy. Honestly, consistently, truly happy. Happiness is directly correlated with good health, and people who can honestly call themselves happy are typically healthy, too. The mind and body are completely connected, and a clear, calm mind will usually be accompanied by a healthy body. To achieve better happiness, try and make a list of everything that is in your life that makes you upset and stressed out. Either let it go (meaning get out of that unhappy relationship or find a better job), or make clear strides to improve the situation. Do it NOW—don’t wait.

Beautiful healthy Young Woman lying on the green grass

What I am trying to get at it this: you don’t have to weigh 120 pounds or love the Paleo diet or declare veganism as your new diet of choice to be healthy. Health is a complicated thing, but the points above will hopefully lead you in the right direction.


Top 5 Reasons to Attend a Book Signing This Weekend

Book Signing

Okay…I fully admit that I have a vested interest in people attending book signings. But I actually do have valid reasons why this activity should be on your weekend to-do list, which I’ll specify right now:

1- When’s the last time you set foot into a bookstore? Do you even know that they’re still around? Amazon and other sites like it have made online book buying super easy (which is great), but remember the feeling of actually being in a bookstore? I mean, call me a total nerd, but bookstores ROCK. They’re like a vortex of awesomeness. You can get lost for hours and won’t even feel guilty about it after. (As opposed to getting lost for hours on a Vegas casino floor.)

2- There’s something special about picking up a book because it’s got a rocking cover, flipping through the pages to find out what they feel like, checking out the author pic and/or bio, and collecting a bunch until you can weed out the ones you really want to read, while ditching the few you won’t on a random table somewhere. Doesn’t sound familiar? Yeah…I don’t do that, either. :/ An electronic reader has nothing on an actual book, and I will argue that until the day I die. We all spend so much of our time staring mindlessly at our computers, and laptops, and iPads and iPhones. How about just open an actual book. Seriously.

Reading Books Makes You Better

3- Authors are excited to have people talk to them. (We’ve spent far too much time talking to ourselves about our own book.) Even if you don’t want to talk about their book or you don’t plan on buying one, it’s fun to have a conversation with someone different. You can bet that a year of that author’s life was spent writing their book, it took an addition x-amount of months or years to sell it to a publisher, and another year for the publishing process to be complete. There is definitely something to talk about, even if it’s “have you ever written at 3:00am?” (The answer to which will always be a resounding YES.)

4- It makes for good conversation with your friends at dinner on Saturday night:

“So, what did you do today?”

“I attended a book signing. You?”

“Uh…I played Dragon City.”

See? You’re already looking smarter and cooler than John Smith over there. You’re welcome.

5- You’ll end up finding that perfect Father’s Day gift for your dad. It may not even be a book, but bookstores have other stuff, too, and it’s all awesome. ALL OF IT.

Happy Healthy Gut Cover Design

So, here’s the deal: I have a book signing this weekend for my new book, Happy Healthy Gut. It’s at the Chapters in Langley, BC from 2-5pm. If you live in the area, and you come see me there, and you sign up for my website, and you mention this blog post, I will not only sign it for you, I’ll buy it for you as well. You will get it FOR FREE. And we’ll both be happy and live happily ever after, too. (But not together. Because that might be weird.)

‘Til tomorrow, peeps. Peace.

Raising Disease-Free Children: is this possible?

Happy children sitting on green grass outdoors in summer park

Since I’m always really interested in preventative medicine (AKA: real food), this question is one bangs around my head every now and then. Diseases and disorders such as some cancers, type-2 diabetes, high blood pressure, gastrointestinal issues, acid reflux, and heart disease are all largely treatable—and preventable. Why wait until you’re feeling like crap and get the diagnosis to shape up? Why even wait until you’re in your 30’s and scared of following the same path as your mom or dad?

What if it were possible to start life with preventing these medical issues as a goal, right off the bat? What would this entail?

I started to really think about this, and the points below are what I’ve come up with. A “to-do” list of sorts for parents of children who want to see them remain as disease-free as possible for the rest of their lives. All of the diseases I mentioned above fall under the category of what Dr. T Colin Campbell calls “diseases of affluence.” This means that these medical issues are only really seen to the scale they are in North America and the United Kingdom. These areas of the world are affluent—we eat what we want, when we want, and we want it cheap, and we don’t want to work for it.

We also have no native ways of eating that hold any nutritional value, and so we end up eating a diet consisting mainly of animal protein, deep-fried potatoes, and soda. Gross.

Also? Largely, we’re inactive. We like to sit. This is a major problem for our generation, and we’re modelling it for our children. So…what to do?

pollan quote

Here are some ways you can help your children remain “western” disease-free:

  1. Practice good eating habits right away. Your children will notice and be more likely to copy you. Don’t just tell your child to eat more fruit—show them. Set a good example. And start when they’re young—even as early as birth. By eating a variety of great food, your baby will develop a palate that is conducive to enjoying whole foods.
  2. Teach them about food. Tell them why it’s important to eat enough fibre. Educate them on the differences between organic and non-organic produce. They won’t know unless you tell them. Talk about GMOs and the benefits of grass-fed food animals versus conventional factory-farmed ones. Take them to a farmer’s market every weekend and let them help you shop. Kids are naturally curious, and love to make connections.
  3. Model a fit lifestyle. Walk your children to school if you can, exercise in front of them, and make sure you talk about why this is important. Kids need to know that moving their bodies will make their bodies healthier. Take your child to a yoga class with you. Go swimming. Get excited about sports.
  4. Get outside regularly. Run around and explore and smell flowers and appreciate trees. Teach them that trees clean our air, and that it’s important to treat them with respect and be grateful.
  5. Limit screen time, and MODEL that behaviour. Staring at a screen means sitting down and zoning out. It should definitely be limited.

Blueberries, summer, child - Lovely girl with fresh blueberries

All of these suggestions lend to better health and illness prevention. Every child deserves a chance to be born healthy and remain that way. They also deserve parents that will grow old enough  to see their children’s children, and by following these tips, both you and your children can say you’ve done your best to decrease your chances of developing diseases of affluence.

And isn’t that what it’s all about?

Healthy and Hydrated for the Summer: what to feed your kids

Blueberries, summer, child - Lovely girl with fresh blueberries

Kids are weird. You can present food to them one way and they’ll balk, then stick a toothpick in it and call it something else and they love it. What the hell?! But knowing this can open doors to a whole new way of serving your picky eaters good food—and that’s what interests me.

Case in point? Watermelon. Give my oldest a slice of watermelon and there’s no way he’d eat it. But melon-ball the hell out of it and serve it in a dish? He’d totally go for it. This is the same kid who gags at the thought of eating a slice of cheddar cheese, but needs cream cheese on his bagels. He’s a 14-year-old conundrum.

Here are some ways to transform healthy foods so that your kids don’t get bored, and you don’t run out of inspiration. The goal is to keep them eating healthfully AND stay hydrated all summer long. Ready?

fruit popsicles

Make Popsicles. Blend any fruit, fresh or frozen, with water, coconut water, coconut milk, or organic yogurt (if your kid isn’t vegan) and make your own popsicles. My kids go for this all summer long, and I throw weird stuff in there. Kale, avocado, chia seeds, ground flax, and maca are a few of the extra goodies that I can hide in my frozen treats. Also, kids think green popsicles are cool, so try spinach, mint, basil…whatever floats your boat. Say goodbye to store-bought freezies—they’re gross and the wrappers end up everywhere but in the garbage. Make your own!

Put a toothpick in it. Seriously. They think it’s fancy. I can slice up apples, dip them in almond butter, and stick a toothpick in them, and my kids think they’re AMAZING. This might be restricted to my kids only, but try it and see what happens! It’s worth it.

strawberry flowers

Flavoured water. I am definitely NOT talking about purchasing vitamin water or Gatorade or anything else that’s artificially flavoured and coloured and contains heaps of added sugar. I’m talking about throwing cucumber slices, or mint leaves, or cranberries, or anything else you can think of in a pitcher of cold, filtered water. Kids love it! Who am I kidding—I love it. But they do too. So forget the juice and gross sports drinks—have your kiddies help you cut up fruit or whatever and flavour their water naturally.

Freeze fruit. That’s right—just freeze it. My kids eat blueberries WAY more if they’re frozen, and on a hot day, they hit the spot. Berries are great, and so are melons, peaches, and nectarines. Frozen fruit is healthy and can cool your little ones down. And it’s easy. So I’m in. ‘Cause I’m lazy.

Mini-veggie cups with hummus. Take a small jar, place a couple of tablespoons of hummus in the bottom, then stick carrot and celery sticks and long cucumber wedges into the cup so that they become little portable salads. Kids think they look cool, and they’re delicious!

Make fruit kabobs. Get some bamboo skewers, and slide on whatever cut-up pieces of fruit (or veggies!) that you have on hand. Again, this one’s like the toothpick theory: they might think that fruit salad sucks, but fruit on a stick? Hell, yeah! If you want to impress them even more, drizzle some dark chocolate over the fruit.

When in doubt, make a smoothie. Throw in water, fruit, veggies, oats, dates, honey, or anything else that might make it into your kids’ open mouths. They’re nutritious, hydrating, and just like the popsicles: you can hide stuff in there. Seriously. They’ll never know.

rhubarb smoothie

If you have any more suggestions, please share!

Sleeping Like a Baby: Not what it’s cracked up to be

Sleepy young woman in bed extending hand to alarm clock at home

The old adage “slept like a baby” always confused me. Is this phrase only used by people with no children? Because if you have kids, you must know that babies don’t sleep.

(Well, only in inconvenient times. Never when you want them to. )

I’ve been having trouble with staying asleep lately, and by “lately,” I mean the last year or so. I’ve kind of turned into a total insomniac, actually. I have no problem falling asleep, but I never seem to get into that deep sleep that everyone raves about. In fact, I’m exhausted just typing this. *Yawn…

My five-year-old daughter still wakes me up almost every night to chat or climb into my bed, or just relay some fun fact about yesterday’s goings-on (yesterday she saw an eagle, because that’s what you think about at 2am). She’s one of the reasons my sleep is so interrupted, but it’s interrupted even if she’s not there to wake me up.

I’ve tried things like Melatonin (gave me a crazy sleep hangover), taking warm baths before bed, making sure my bedroom is dark and cool. I’ve tried not eating before bed, not drinking caffeine after noon, and exercising regularly. I’ve tried stretching, meditation, and more. These are all normal suggestions for anyone suffering with sleep issues.

But here are some more, and these make up my latest list of things to try. (I’ll keep you posted.)

  • More magnesium. Up to 80% of North Americans are magnesium deficient[1], and this is directly related to sleep problems. (Fun fact: people with digestive issues often don’t absorb as much magnesium as they need to.) Juicing greens, and eating a varied whole food, plant-based diet can help greatly. Since I already do those things, I’m going to begin taking a supplement just to be sure. I also have a laboratory requisition to fill that will measure my magnesium and Vitamin D levels. Which brings me to:
  • Increased Vitamin D. This “vitamin” is actually a hormone, and is totally correlated with sleep. If you’re deficient (like most North Americans), it can lead to insomnia. You get Vitamin D from the sunshine and green leafy veggies, but you can also buy it in supplement form.
  • Going to bed later. You heard me: later. I’m so tired by nine that I usually crash a half-hour later. But if I’m planning on sleeping until 7am, I really should try and push my adolescent bedtime back to 10:30ish. I don’t need 10 hours of sleep—just better quality sleep.
  • Putting the kybosh on alcohol. (God, I love that word. Kybosh, not alcohol.) Alcohol, despite what people may think, is both a stimulant and a depressant.[2] It may make you feel sleepy, but it also increases your heart rate. This speedy effect makes it very hard for your body to regulate itself into a good sleep. So, bye-bye wine. (Yes, I’m THIS desperate for sleep.)
  • Cutting back on screen time. I’m an iPhone, iPad, laptop junkie. Apple loves me. But all that screen time can have a negative effect on sleep, because it suppresses melatonin.

For more tips on how to sleep better, visit HERE. In the meantime, let me know if you have any suggestions. 🙂


[1] http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2013/08/15/nutrients-better-sleep.aspx

[2] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21560041

Simple Dietary Advice in 7 Little Words



Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.

These three infamous lines from Michael Pollan’s Food Rules are a true example of simple dietary advice. While many think that there can’t be a ultra-easy solution that works for everybody where diets and healthy eating habits are concerned, Pollan has proved otherwise.

Shall we explore further?

Eat food. Although it may seem obvious (we obviously need to eat food), what Pollan really means, is eat real food. Not processed food, not food that has been genetically modified, and certainly not food that doesn’t contain the nutritional profile of actual food. When he recommends that we “eat food,” he means consume foods that are whole, nourishing, and not messed with. Foods like whole grains, beans, seeds, nuts, fruits, veggies, and responsibly grown animal products that have not been produced using antibiotics, GMO feed, and added growth hormones.

Not too much. Again, sounds obvious; and it is! But most of us don’t eat like that. The average daily recommendation for caloric intake is 2000 calories. However, the amount of calories you actually need depends a lot on how active you are. For the average female adult who is not very active, 2000 calories are probably too many.

Do you know how many calories you consume per day? Chances are it’s more than you need. To become aware of how many calories you’re consuming, you can download an app on your phone that provides you with that info. (There are lots.)

Mostly plants. Plant foods provide the very best absorbable nutrients, and are easily found un-processed. We need plants for many reasons. Three of these reasons are 1) we need the fibre to keep our bowels healthy, 2) the antioxidants in plants to provide us with protection from free radicals, and 3) the water in plants to provide us with adequate hydration. Most of the foods that you put in your body should be plant-based.

pollan quote

And with those 7 little words creating 3 simple rules, you get some food for thought.

Happy Sunday!

My Top 12 Observations of Highly Successful People

Successful People

First of all, I’ll admit that the inspiration for writing this post came from the book Hero, which I’m halfway through. When my mother-in-law gave this book to me for my birthday a couple of weeks ago, I didn’t know how much I’d be taking from it, and how motivating it would be! She’s amazing at giving gifts.


Because I’m currently in the throes of marketing my first book, I’ve been paying attention to both the words of wisdom and inspiration from that book (Hero; not my own), and also my husband’s podcasts. Or, to be more specific, the podcasts he listens to while he showers every morning. Once you get over how annoyingly loud they need to be in order for him to be able to hear clearly while being fully immersed in running water, you find that the content is actually pretty good.

And by “you” and mean “I.”

The podcasts are always presented by people who have achieved great success in their businesses, and since both my husband and I are in business for self (he’s a mortgage broker; I’m a freelance health and wellness writer), we both spend a lot of time trying to learn from other peoples’ failures and successes and overall experiences.

Let’s quickly define my current definition of “successful people,” in regards to business: I’m referring to those who manage to create something, and then flourish…people who not only do what they love, and what ignites fire within them, but are able to make a pretty decent living doing it. This is what I deem to be a successful business person.

Your definition might be different.

be good

This is what I have learned thus far; my top twelve observations of highly successful people:

1-      They believe in themselves. People who achieve success in their business know they have something to offer, and they don’t let other people’s opinions deter them from achieving what they know they’re capable of. They visualize themselves being successful, thereby never creating an excuse for failure. In order for others to believe in your product, you need to believe in it yourself.

2-      They’re passionate. I’m not talking about in the bedroom, though numerous studies have shown that more fulfilling sex coincides with higher career accomplishments.[1] Successful people are passionate about their product. They’re excited, and they convey that excitement to others thereby building a buzz.

3-      They have a willingness to work hard. Let’s face it: in order for your business to be preferred against someone else’s you’ve got to put in the effort. You get what you put into it, right? This handy little rule of thumb goes for almost everything: relationships, health, happiness, and…business.

4-      They dream BIG. Dreams of any size are great, but successful people aren’t afraid to dream bigger than the average Joe. Whereas most people might get deterred at the very thought of doing something scary, there are a small percentage of people who love a challenge, and possess the desire to do something that others won’t.

5-      They’re focused—and I’m talking unwavering focus. Success comes with sticking your nose to the grindstone—and leaving it there. Being dissuaded or distracted or becoming bored are not options.

6-      They set specific goals. This is an incredibly common practice for highly successful people. They know what they want, they give themselves a timeline, and they make sure they follow it to the end. Setting specific goals means that you can cross them off once they’re achieved—and this creates a powerful sense of accomplishment and fulfillment when that time arrives.

7-      They surround themselves with like-minded people. Hang with who you want to emulate. Right? If you’re in med school, hang out with doctors. If you’re patenting a product, make friends with people who have been there, done that. By surrounding yourself with people that have or have had similar dreams, you become instantly motivated and encouraged to follow through. There’s a writer’s conference that I go to every year, and I leave that function PUMPED UP. This is important.

8-      They’re open to criticism—and they can handle it. This is HUGE. Nobody and nothing is perfect, and sometimes we need to hear it. Being open to other people’s criticism means that you have an edge on your competition—you’re able to understand that not everyone thinks and feels the same way, and that knowledge can help you produce a better product or service. Which brings me to…

9-      They’re not afraid to tweak. People who do well in their endeavors aren’t afraid to edit their work for the better. Quality first, right?

10-  They love a challenge. I touched on this a bit already, but those who don’t like challenges quit pretty quickly, and determination seems to be a fairly common trait of successful people. Nobody’s handed their OWN success. They have to create it—and that can be challenging.

We Are What We Think

11-  They don’t try and BE other people—they realize that their uniqueness is what makes their ideas special and one-of-a-kind, and they use that to their advantage. The realization that you’ll never please everybody, and that there will always be haters is a big one. But it’s instrumental in your acceptance of yourself and your ideas. You don’t have to prove yourself to everyone—just be YOU.

12-  They pay attention to detail. This one may seem like a no-brainer, but details really matter. Details are what make your plan or vision or dream or product different from other people’s. It’s all in the details—and highly successful people know this.

Bonus observance? They take care of themselves. Highly successful people tend to eat better, exercise, consciously attempt to de-stress, and forgo smoking.

Maya Angelou has been quoted as saying “Success is liking yourself, liking what you do, and liking how you do it.”[2]

Amen, sister.

5 Digestive Health Dos and Don’ts

Bran Flakes

Digestive health seems like a very trendy topic these days. Not an exciting trend, like colourful Spanx or beanie caps (these ideas are why I’ll probably never be a trendsetter), but just a popular topic of discussion.

I absolutely believe that the entire body rides the ebb and flow of one’s digestive tract—if your gut’s off balance, your whole body and mind will be off, too. An unhealthy gut is correlated with psychological stress, insomnia, weight gain, chronic disease, and more. Who needs more motivation to keep our tummies happy and healthy than that?!

The following are my 5 digestive health dos and don’ts. They’re not complicated; just common sense.

The Dos:

1-      Drink alot of water and herbal teas. More than anything, your body needs to stay hydrated in order for all of our systems to be able to work properly. The human body is made of more than 70% water—so you need to replenish constantly.

2-      Eat your plant foods. I know—no surprise here. But vegetables and whole grains are absolutely crucial to great digestive health. Aside from being full of antioxidants (which fight free-radicals that contribute to abnormal cell division, ie: cancer), veggies are teeming with fibre. We need way more fibre than most of us consume. Fibre sweeps the colon clean, and regularity is the key to good digestive health. Which brings me to:

3-      Stay regular. If you don’t know the last time you had a bowel movement, then that’s a major problem. You should be moving your bowels at least once a day, optimally closer to 2 or 3 times. And they should be relatively large, easy, and painless.

4-      Take a daily probiotic. This extra influx of good bacteria makes a world of difference to the goings-on of your intestinal flora. Your gut is a place where bad bacteria should be eliminated—not permitted to run rampant. You need loads of good bacteria (probiotics) if you want to have a great-working gut.

5-      Relax. Deep, conscious breathing, adequate sleep (8 hours), exercise, and a good attitude all contribute to better digestive function.  The brain and gut are indeed connected—a calm mind will facilitate a calm tummy. So keep calm and…chill out!

The Don’ts:

1-      Don’t eat the wrong foods. Animal products (meat and dairy), processed food, sugar, and anything else that might piss off your intestinal tract are no-nos. Your digestive system has a tough time with these foods. By cutting them out, you give your gut a giant advantage.

2-      Don’t become chronically dehydrated. So many of us are, and our intestinal tract needs a lot of water to do its job. Don’t forget to drink water.

3-      Don’t be stagnant. If you drive to work, sit at a desk, drive home, then sit on your couch and watch TV all night, your tummy has no chance. You need to move in order for your food to move, too.

4-      Don’t think that it’s normal to only have a bowel movement twice a week. It’s not. (Well, in North America it probably is, but it definitely shouldn’t be.) What goes in, must come out. Remember that.

5-      Don’t be scared to go if you’re not at home. Get over it. Everyone goes, so just go. If you wait, you might miss the opportunity until tomorrow, and then it becomes compacted—and then you’re in trouble. Doing this regularly leads to chronic constipation, and diseases like diverticulitis and possibly even bowel cancer. I don’t mean to scare you, but it’s true.

I had to learn all of this the hard way, and if you’re reading this, you probably have, too. But if you’re still living on Oblivious Street, then please take these recommendations to heart. Your health and happiness is important, and the bowel has so much to do with that.

Happy Tuesday!