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Maintaining Good Digestive Health While Camping

Maintain Good Digestive Health While Camping

For many of us, summertime means camping. In my family, we’re fortunate enough to own a cabin that’s shared between extended family members. Each summer, everyone is doled out their respective weeks, and we just got back from our initial 10 day getaway. The cabin in located in Green Lake, in 72 Mile, British Columbia.

It’s beautiful.

As someone who needs (and wants) to eat a certain way to maintain good digestive health, I’m often thrown off at our cabin. Travel plus convenience foods plus a shared washroom (there were nine of us to one bathroom) plus readily available alcohol at all hours of the day means that my gut typically gets thrown into a tailspin pretty quickly.

For the past couple of years, I’ve developed ways of making digestive health while at our cabin more realistic and sustainable, and wanted to share some tips with all of you. Here are 5 ways to keep your gut health while camping:

Bring Healthy Food

Camping might immediately bring about images of hot dogs and hamburgers and s’mores, but it doesn’t mean you actually have to eat those things. If your gut is touchy (like mine), then trying to maintain your current, regular diet is important. If you’re used to consuming daily smoothies, beans, and whole grains, then it’s fairly crucial to keep eating those things even while you’re away from your own home.

Assuming you won’t have to access to a kitchen (I’m pretty spoiled with this cabin thing), here’s my go-to list of foods to bring camping:

  1. Raw fruits and veggies
  2. Hummus
  3. Veggie burgers (use lettuce in place of a bun!)
  4. Homemade energy bars (teeming with fibre!)
  5. Oats for oatmeal
  6. Homemade chili (heat on a portable BBQ)
  7. Avocados (eat half at a time with salt and pepper)
  8. Pre-made chia pudding
  9. TONS of water

Which brings me to…

Drink a Ton of Water

If you’re camping, you should probably try and drink more water than you usually do, because you’re probably outside in the sun and will become dehydrated more easily. Booze does NOT replace water; water is very much needed to keep your insides healthy, hydrated, and properly lubricated.

Increase the Fibre

For those who suffer with IBS (like me), or any other chronic digestive issue, it’s pretty common for your body to decide to stop working properly with travel. Before I became more educated on the topic of IBS, I used to fly places and not have a bowel movement for a week.

Seriously.

So to keep your body in check and your bowel working, it’s a good idea to increase your fibre, water, and activity. It’s also important to pay attention: we might be distracted in our new surroundings, but if you receive any sort of signal that tells you it might be bathroom time, GO.

Incorporate NutraCleanse into Your Foods

NutraCleanse is a locally produced (well, local for me), high-fibre supplement that you can mix into anything. It’s not like over-the-counter laxatives; it’s whole and raw and healthy. It contains only 5 ingredients: flax seed, burdock root, fenugreek seeds, dandelion root, and psyllium husk. You can stir it into smoothies, yogurt, oatmeal, etc.

It’s a lifesaver.

If you’re currently taking Metamucil or any other comparable daily laxative, stop, and start taking NutraCleanse instead. For more information on this product, visit www.nutracleanse.biz.

Stay Active

This means don’t sit on your butt and drink beer all day. Walk, run, paddle board, swim, play games, water ski, hike, and do whatever you have to do to move your body. If you sit for a long weekend, your gut will respond to that by shutting down.

What kinds of tips do you have for me?! I’m always looking for better ways to love my body while on vacation, so anything you can think of is helpful. Leave your comment below, or find me on social and share.

For more ways to improve your digestive health, check out Happy Healthy Gut, available on Amazon, or in Chapters/Indigo and Barnes & Noble.

Happy Monday! xo

*Photo credit to Wild Honey Art House; recipe for this granola in Vegetarian Comfort Foods.

Recipes: Sneaky Smoothies

Morning, ya’ll! I don’t know about you, but I am a mother to two picky boys (and one not-so-picky girl), so I absolutely love to slip them foods they’d never consider eating on their own.

Mostly, I do this by making a lot of smoothies.

Nutrients that I feel my children don’t get enough of include plant-based protein, omega-3 fatty acids, and fibre. I also feel that they often don’t consume a wide enough variety of antioxidants. I mean, let’s be honest: when I ask them to eat the rainbow, they want Skittles.

Gross.

Here are my top ten foods to slip in smoothies, which make up the majority of nutrients I feel they would otherwise lack in their diets:

Beets

You can’t overdo these, but because beets are naturally sweet and produce a very pink smoothie, my kids are usually none the wiser. They’re high in fibre, antioxidants, and if you leave the peel on, they may be a good source of various vitamins and minerals.

Spinach

Again, don’t overdo it–and if you combine with blueberries, the result can look black and sludgy. Your best bet is to throw a small handful in with banana and pineapple to create a light green smoothie.

Kale

Same as spinach.

Granny Smith Apples

My kids generally find these apples pretty tart, which is why they prefer red ones. But in a smoothie, with the peel on? No problem! They’re a great source of fibre, with minimal naturally-occurring sugar.

Avocados

Just one half of an avocado in a smoothie can produce the same smooth consistency as Greek yogurt. Unlike Greek yogurt, these suckers are plant-based, and fantastic for skin, hair, and nails. They’re high in great fat, and provide calories to little ones who need them.

Hemp Hearts

These are tasteless in a smoothie, but provide high amounts of plant-based protein. They’re a way better choice than commercial protein powder. Which brings up to:

Vega

If you’re going to include protein powder in your child’s smoothies, use Vega. It’s hemp based, and is the best quality out there in terms of nutrition and clean ingredients.

Oats

Sound weird? It’s not! Oats are completely undetectable in smoothies, but provide fabulous plant-based protein. Oats are known for lowering blood sugar levels, and will make your child’s smoothie more filling.

NutraCleanse

This flax-based product is produced in Mission, BC, and is a total fibre powerhouse. The 5 ingredients are super quality, and it’s gluten-free. Adding 1/4 cup of NutraCleanse to your child’s smoothie every day can help their digestive health, as well as prevent future digestive issues.

Bee Pollen

If your wee one suffers from seasonal allergies, bee pollen could be a lifesaver. It doesn’t taste very good, which is why I sneak it into one smoothies. You only need about 1/2 tsp. every day to really keep hay fever at bay. It’s SUPER worth it.

And that’s it, folks! Good luck with your sneaky smoothies! Your kiddos will never know. xo

 

 

 

Why You Should Be Cooking with Beans

*Disclaimer: I will use the word “farty” in this blog post. I apologize ahead of time.

Beans

Beans, beans, the musical fruit, the more you eat, the more you toot. Right? NOOO! It doesn’t have to be that way. Don’t let beans have their way with you. You’re the boss, and they need to be put in their place.

Boss those beans around!

Why bother, you ask? Because beans are tiny gems of awesomeness that are high in fibre, protein, and a variety of other goodies. They’re a main staple in countries like Mexico–and others in South America–because they’re inexpensive, readily available, and super high in nutrients. They’re superstars, really.

Unfortunately, they get a bum rap. (Get it?) Beans can make some people feel bloated and gassy, so a lot of us choose to just ignore their amazingness altogether to avoid a potentially embarrassing situation in yoga class. Also, those suffering from digestive issues like IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) or Crohn’s disease may find that beans make their gut situations worse. But it doesn’t have to be that way!

There is actually a correct way to both prepare and cook beans. Beans have indigestible carbohydrates that need to be broken down by soaking. If you’re using beans from a can, then the trick is to rinse them very well, until all the bubbles are gone. Those bubbles are gas, and they make you farty. (See? Told you I’d use it.) No one wants to be farty. If you plan on cooking them after you rinse them, then your best bet is to add a bay leaf to whatever you’re cooking, whether it’s soup, stew, chili, or whatever. Bay absorbs the acid in the beans that add to the gas. Just don’t eat the leaf.

(Although I must admit that the thought of this makes me smile.)

If you’re cooking dried beans, then rinse them very well first, and soak them in a lot of water overnight. (The general rule is one cup of beans to three cups of water.) In the morning, strain them and rinse really well again. When you go to cook them, cook with a bay leaf for the reason explained above, but also skim off the bubbles that will form off the top after about an hour. Remember, those are farty bubbles. Also, make sure you cook the beans very well. Don’t leave them half-cooked.

So, in conclusion of Cooking with Beans 101 (because now you’ve now graduated Bean University), you rinse, you skim bubbles, and you cook with a bay leaf. Other gas-reducing spices include ginger, fennel, and cumin, so you could cook with those, too.

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!