But they're just so little and bite-sized! Until you've had one of each and the an extra one or two of your faves. It's difficult for those of us with sweet teeth at this time of year but I've come up with a couple of substitutions that might help to curb the temptations.
Chocolate Avocado Pudding
2 tsp cocoa powder
1 tbsp honey
1 tbsp almond milk (or whatever milk you've got)
1/4 tsp vanilla extract (optional)
Mash all ingredients together until smooth. You'll never know you're getting in your good polyunsaturated fats and antioxidants!
Peanut Butter Cup Smoothie
1 scoop unflavoured or chocolate protein powder
1 tbsp peanut butter
1 tbsp honey
2 tsp cocoa powder
1 cup almond milk
Blend all ingredients together. Helloooo sweet treat!
2 apples, thinly sliced horizontally
Brown sugar (optional)
Lay apple slices in a single layer on a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Lightly sprinkle with cinnamon and brown sugar. Bake on low (about 200F) for about an hour or until dried out.
For the candy lovers, try some of the following:
Low-dose chewable Vitamin C tablets (be aware of loose stools!)
Bake your pumpkin seeds with sprinkled brown sugar
Kale chips (for the salt lovers)
1 bunch kale (Dirty Dozen so go organic!)
Wash and break apart the kale leaves, discarding the chunky stem. Toss in a bowl with olive oil to coat, parmesan, and salt. Bake at 350F for 8-10 minutes, watching carefully as they can burn fast.
A little more work than dipping into the candy bag but hopefully these substitutes will let you indulge in a few rather than a lot! Happy Halloween!
Food allergies and sensitivities are hot topics these days, with gluten grabbing most of the attention. Let’s clarify what these terms mean, how they can affect your health, and, most importantly, what to do about it.
Getting the terminology right.
Let’s start with an allergy as it pops into our minds. When you’re allergic to something, whether it’s itchy watery eyes, immediate rashes, or your throat feels funny and closes up (eek!), this is an immediate reaction caused by the antibody immunoglobulin E (or IgE antibody). When you get the skin scratch test done as you see here, this is what they’re looking for.
A food allergy can present with symptoms hours to days after you come in contact or ingest the problematic food and can vary immensely in severity, which makes them hard to pin down. Symptoms range from digestive upset and IBS-like symptoms, to headaches, rashes, weight gain, asthma, and chronic sinusitis… to name just a few. The antibodies responsible are different from those above, and are called immunoglobulin G (or IgG antibody).
A sensitivity is lower down on the severity scale and can bug your immune system just enough that it causes some inflammation and tips things in a symptom-producing, not-so-fun direction. The inflammation that occurs in the gut (from a sensitivity or allergy) can damage the intestinal lining and let in other immune complexes through the loosened cellular junctions. If you’ve heard the term “leaky gut”, this is how that comes to be.
Note: Celiac is a whole other ballgame. This is a specific immune reaction to gluten that flattens out the little fingers in your small intestine that are used to absorb nutrients, leaving a drastically decreased surface area for absorption and hence, a whole lot of problems. You need a specific test for this, the most definitive being intestinal biopsy.
How do I find out what’s going on?
Food sensitivity blood testing will test for IgG antibodies, though some can run combination tests of IgG and IgE. Accuracy of these results are still controversial and it’s best to have a conversation with your Naturopathic Doctor about if this approach is right for you. It involves a few drops of blood from a finger-prick, but is quite pricey.
Elimination diet is the other method which is more work on the patient’s behalf for the first couple of days. This involves removing offending foods and reintroducing them to see if symptoms return. Just so you know, you’ll have to do this anyway following the blood test for whatever comes up positive.
And then what do I do about it?
I usually recommend starting with cutting out the big 5 offenders in the diet for 3 weeks: gluten, dairy, eggs, soy, and corn. If the problem seems to have a hormonally-influenced picture, meat comes out as well or is switched to strictly organic. What I often see here is improvement of symptoms on some level. And isn’t that the most important?
We then tweak which foods seem to be causing the problem by removing and reintroducing specific suspicious foods based on history and symptoms. The key is to wait about a week before changing anything that you’ve reintroduced and to do it one at a time (i.e. no pizza!) because, as you now know, we’re looking for delayed reactions.
If there’s significant reactions or if inflammation may have caused some damage, we need to discuss a bit heftier of a protocol in terms of gut healing and inflammation control.
In addition to feeling much better, most people find they can tolerate small doses of the offending foods once everything’s calmed down. And that means that most people, including me, don’t have to live without cheese.
An incredibly common concern that I treat is back pain. Low back, upper back, mid back - it doesn't matter! Steroid injections are the usual go-to along with pain medications for life that have their own side effects with long-term use. Is there any other way to live comfortably? Yes.
Acupuncture is one of the first-line treatments that I use. Hate needles? No worries. We'll talk about other options momentarily. Acupuncture for back pain has research behind it. It's shown to be as effective as other alternative therapies, such as TENS or massage. I use a combination approach which involves the insertion of acupuncture needles locally as well as points that, in Chinese medicine, help to relieve back pain as well. I almost always connect the microcurrent to the local needles which helps aid healing and relieve pain. This allows an electrical current to pass between the needles which enhances the way the cells function, helping to speed the healing process as well as relax tense muscles.
If you're not up for the needles, we can work around that using things like cupping, massage, or microcurrent and TENS machines with sticky pads instead of needles. As I mentioned earlier, the research shows these work as well.
Whether or not you opt for acupuncture, be prepared for homework. Core strength is an integral part of easing low back pain. The principle behind this is simple: a strong core takes the load off the spine and spinal muscles. Those abs aren't just for washing laundry.
The tip: Activating the core muscles that count is a bit tricky, so here's how to tell if you're working the right ones. The "6-pack" rectus abdominis is not the one we're going for. Find the front pointy bit of your hip bone and roll off the front of it into your belly muscles. You'll find if you do a simple crunch, that part remains squishy, but when you pull your belly button in and try and make your waist as small as possible, that little part contracts. The core exercises you do, should contract that squishy part, or the transverse abdominis. The best ones are the yoga plank moves (front, side, reverse).
The workouts: Pilates is a great one to add into your rotation because of it's amazing core-strengthening, though you want to be careful not to aggravate injury. Yoga or any kind of gentle stretching has been shown effective for back pain specifically. Always listen to your body and let pain be your guide. If it hurts, don't try to be the hero.