The Health Disrupter Journal from The Allergista!

The Allergista is one of my favorite bloggers, and I’ve talked about her many times on here. She was kind enough to reach out to me to give me a chance to try out her health disrupter journal and share it with you guys!

Now, I have a confession to make: she asked me to do this a looooong time ago. Like, months ago. And I have not adjusted well to keeping up with blogging and parenting a 1 year old. Add journaling on top of that and I majorly failed. But I wanted to complete the journal before writing this post, so… here we are, months too late but honest!

So this isn’t my first health-journaling rodeo. I’ve kept a diary of what I eat and my digestive reactions before, and I’ve also tried out a few apps to track symptoms along with diet, sleep, and other things. I have a love-hate relationship with journaling this way. It’s great because it’s shown me patterns in my health, and helped me to discern what foods/habits cause my pain to flare up, or cause my IBS to get bad. But it’s really hard, at least for me. The first few days go well. I’m excited and write down everything in detail. But after that… life happens. I try to jot down some notes at the end of the day, usually while half-asleep, and soon I miss entire days.

And of course, when I do get sick, journaling is hardest of all, and also most crucial. So this is a huge challenge for me. The great thing about journaling is that even small bursts can be helpful in solving health mysteries. So with the Allergista’s health disruptor journal, that’s exactly what I did. I journaled for a week or two at a time, then took a hiatus. Not by design, but because that’s kinda just how it happened. But I still solved some of my own health mysteries.

The journal has four basic parts: a daily log, a weekly notes section, a weekly summary of symptoms, and a monthly calendar. To be honest, I didn’t use the monthly calendar much, but only because I have another one that I keep all my appointments and life notes on. I know in this day and age, most people don’t have a monthly paper calendar posted up anymore, so this would probably be more useful to someone who didn’t have another system in place.

The daily log is set up for allergies, but is easily adapted to chronicle chronic pain or gastrointestinal problems. The only section I didn’t use much was logging skin problems, since that’s pretty exclusive to tracking allergies. But I liked the tally system of giving each symptom a number and totaling it. The higher the number, the “worse” a day is symptom-wise. This is great because when you’re in a flare, you can feel like “oh I’ve felt horrible all week” but looking at the numbers you can see that there are days where even though you have symptoms, you’re feeling a little better. That can be really encouraging, especially in a long flare.

I like the body location symptom tracker. I’m a very visual person, and I like to doodle, so it was fun and also informative. I could see pain “make its rounds” so to speak. I like that a lot.

Finally, the notes section. At first, this was the biggest chore, mostly because I was unsure what to put there. But I ended up using it as my place to pose questions and come up with hypothesis. I could look back at previous weeks and see if I’d proven my ideas or answered any questions.

The biggest health mystery this journal helped me solve actually had to do with anxiety. When I have a panic attack, it almost exclusively happens at night. My anxiety keeps me awake, and eventually builds until I’m sweating, pacing, and generally loosing my mind. I found out through journaling that there are two things that I thought were helping me that were actually contributing to my panic attacks.

One was drinking. I had gotten into a bad habit of always having a glass of wine at dinner or bedtime most nights, thinking it helped me relax. It kind of did, but on nights when I didn’t drink I was much more likely to sleep well. Stopping this habit didn’t completely eliminate my anxiety attacks, but it helped a LOT.

Second was reading. Yeah, the thing EVERYONE tells you to do when you can’t sleep! I adore reading, and I read paper books with no irritating backlights to disrupt my sleep cycle. But I think I must love it a little too much. I noticed I tended to have trouble sleeping after reading, and noticed that I get a little too into books to relax. I stay awake thinking about the book (especially suspenseful ones) and end up in the anxiety zone. Now, I’m careful to only read either books I’ve read before or calm, non-suspense/mystery/adventure books before bed if I read at all.

So what’s my final verdict? Health journals are great, and the Allergista’s is one of the best I’ve tried! If you’re like me and can only journal in spurts, remember that it’s better than nothing and you can still benefit from what you learn from it. I highly recommend this one for it’s organization, it’s tracking tools like tallying and body diagramming, and it’s coverage of all areas you need to track in an easy format. You can download it by clicking

HERE!

I hope you all check it out and give journaling a try if you haven’t already. You’ll be surprised what you can learn! Plus, if you have an attentive doctor, they may like to look over it and help you find patterns and give you advice.

Also, don’t forget to enter the #SPOONIERAGECOMICCONTEST! There are free prizes to win and I’ll let you in on a secret: there’s not much competition right now. So enter today! Google “rage comic maker,” choose your favorite, then create a comic that has something to do with health, chronic illness, allergies, doctors, medicine, or anything in between! Then upload it to twitter or instagram with the hashtag #spoonieragecomiccontest.

Can’t wait to see what you come up with!

Guest Post: 5 Things You Didn’t Know About Breastpumping

Hey everyone! Today I want to welcome Natalie from MaternityAtHome.com! She’s got some great info here on breast pumping, which is great general health info but especially important for chronically ill mothers who may need to pump in order to stay on a medication schedule or accommodate a sick day or hospital stay. Check it out, and be sure to visit her blog and show her some love!

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5 Things You Didn’t Know About Breastpumping

Motherhood is a perplexing but otherwise extraordinary experience for most women. There are so many things you need to do, and attaining the knowledge for each and every thing is just something that will elude you.

One scenario that almost always plays out after giving birth is the choice between breastfeeding or breastpumping. They both have their pros and cons, but there are some hidden gems within pumping that most new mother’s don’t know about and that might just push you towards making that decision much easier.

With that said, let’s take a look at 5 things that you likely don’t know about breast pumping and how they affect your daily life as a new mother.

  1. You have more time to rest: Breast pumping is not just for the on-the-go mother who is limited by a career. Stay-at-home mothers can also reap the benefits of breast pumping too. New mothers need their me-time, and a breast pump can be the perfect solution for racking in those extra minutes of sleep, or chores around the home.

    By using a breast pump that is actually good, stay-at-home mothers can rely on their stock of breast milk to ensure a well-fed newborn. Having a supply of breast milk is also especially important for premature babies or multiples, who may require extra attention in the home.

  2. Others can connect with your baby too: Using a breast pump can give your loved ones a chance to connect with your baby as well. Breast pumping can give you the rest you need, but can also be a way for your significant other, or other family members to develop a healthy relationship with your little one.

    You will appreciate the small acts of kindness others show by helping you with feeding! Imagine the happiness your baby will be bringing to yourself, and those around you. Your bundle of joy can bring happiness to everyone.

  3. You can monitor a baby’s eating habits: This is another major benefit of breast pumping that you may not have known. Every baby is different, including your soon-to-be newborn. It’s important to keep track of how often and how much your baby is eating and growing on a daily basis. The amount of milk each mother can store varies from woman to woman. By using a breast pump, you can actually monitor the intake of your baby’s feeding frenzies to their smaller snack times.

    Breast pumping and feeding your baby this way will give you the most insight on how your little one is doing. Don’t become frustrated if eating patterns you have found begin to change, this could be a good sign your baby is growing and on track to start solid foods.

  4. An emergency supply can be a savior: In rare instances, after surgery, while taking medications, or during illness, you may not be able to breastfeed. You should find out all of the information you can from your doctor, to continue to breastfeed when you or your baby is sick. Having expressed milk saved in the freezer for unforeseen circumstances will help you and your baby immensely.

    While this may not be a common occurrence, having a mother’s breastmilk on hand can be more nutritionally beneficial than relying on formula in times of need. Breast milk can be stored in the freezer for up to 2 weeks.

  5. Breast milk is healthier than formula: Breast milk vs. Formula…many new mothers struggle with the idea of giving their baby breast milk versus formula. While formula is a quick fix for those who may be unable to produce enough breast milk, using a breast pump can build up a supply of vitamins, nutrients, and antibodies your baby needs from your breast milk!

    There’s a long list of benefits your baby can receive from your own breast milk, and as a mother you have a unique formula perfect for your growing baby. Nothing can compare to the beautiful benefits of a mother’s own breast milk, and a breast pump can be the perfect solution for having all your baby needs right at your fingertips right when your baby needs it.

There you have it. These 5 things really make breast pumping an appealing option for new mothers over breastfeeding and formula. When it comes to your baby’s health, it is better to stay natural and give them that has worked for thousands of years, so breast pumping is the ideal in between option that takes advantage of both breastfeeding and using formula.

Reshare: Illness Saved My Sex Life

I’ve been seeing a lot of buzz on twitter and other blogs I follow about sex in relation to illness. I’m really glad people are talking about this because it can be a very difficult thing to navigate!

I wanted to take a minute to reshare a post I did a while ago for Hearing Elmo titled “Illness Saved My Sex Life” since it’s a hot topic right now. CLICK HERE to read it and keep the conversation going!

I know my blog has been a ghost town for a while. I’m still trying to figure out this whole “getting anything done with an infant in the house” thing. Hopefully this reshare and my last post about Linus and his blanket will tide you over while I work on some exciting things for you including a review of a really cool tool from The Allergista!

Stay tuned…

Emily Dudensing, RDN, LD: What a Dietitian Can Do For You

The holidays are a time for family, so today’s interview is with my cousin Emily! Emily is a registered dietitian nutritionist and her advice has really helped improve a lot of my symptoms from both endometriosis and IBS.

We go way back.We go way back.

Now, I know it’s the holidays and you’re probably thinking “don’t give me the “eat right” spiel now, I’m already in the middle of a Starbucks holiday drink and these gingerbread men are literally hot out of the oven, just let me live!” I feel you. The good news is that this isn’t a post that’s going to make you feel guilty or that’s going to insist you make kale gingerbread men this year or anything like that.

This post is about dietitians, a medical professional that you may not have thought to seek out. My doctors will often tell me to “focus on eating healthy meals” or “try less dairy” or “you need more protein,” but they’ve never referred me to a dietitian. I have no idea why! Chatting with Emily gave me specifics on what to eat and why. She gave me tools to use instead of blanket statements like “eat right.” We all know what food is “healthy” and what food isn’t, but most of us don’t know what foods do what for our systems.

But enough about what a dietitian has done for me. What can a dietitian do for you?

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Emily, what exactly is a dietitian/nutritionist?

Registered dietitian nutritionists (RDN) are food and nutrition experts who help navigate and apply the science of nutrition into practical practices for a healthy lifestyle. To become an RDN, one must complete a 4-year Bachelor Degree in Nutrition and Dietetics or Master’s program from an accredited University followed by or joined with an extensive 1,200+ hour dietetic internship. Once this education is complete, we sit for the registration examination. Passing this allows us to obtain the credentials, RDN.

*Quick side note: It is important to note that “nutritionist” and “dietitian” are not always interchangeable. If the above requirements have not been met, one cannot label themselves a dietitian. When choosing a healthcare provider, it is important to identify background education and credentials to ensure you receive adequate, science-based information.

What made you decide to become one?

When I began college, I really started to get into cooking, physical activity, health, etc. As I explored various career options I learned about registered dietitians and what the job entailed. I realized I could make a living doing something I love and help others!

Since then, I have truly come to appreciate the practicality of nutrition and health. It applies to every living being! I love helping individuals and families navigate the sometimes confusing world of food and nutrition, and making the best choices for their lifestyle!

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Who can benefit from working with a dietitian?

Anyone who consumes food can benefit from working with a dietitian! But in all seriousness, whether it is a mom who wants to make sure she is providing balanced meals for her family, an individual with weight loss goals, or maybe even someone who is on a tube feeding or experiencing gastrointestinal issues, a dietitian can be a huge benefit!

How can someone find a dietitian? (Do you need referrals, insurance, etc?)

A great resource for finding an RDN in your area is to visit: http://www.eatright.org/find-an-expert

All practices may be different, at Lemond Nutrition we receive a large number of referrals from doctors, however, it is not required. Individuals may contact us on their own and we will have an appointment set up. In regards to insurance, again, all practices are different. At Lemond Nutrition, we do accept insurance. It is best to contact the dietitian/company you plan to work with and ask what their set-up and requirements are.

How can a dietitian help someone with a chronic illness that isn’t digestive-system-based?

As I am sure anyone with a chronic illness or certain disease state can attest to, there is not usually a “one-size-fits-all” treatment or diet that will magically work across the spectrum. Meeting with an RDN allows individuals to discuss their lifestyle and eating habits, letting the dietitian make adjustments or additions as they see fit for that particular person in lines with the most current science-based practices. Dietitians can assess macro and micronutrient intake to ensure all nutritional requirements are met, eliminating any nutritional shortfalls.

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What kind of difference can diet make that medication can’t? Can diet replace other treatments in some cases?

Food is powerful! Just as an example- let’s look at those with high blood pressure or elevated cholesterol levels. While some are more prone to these conditions genetically, nutrition therapy put into practice has shown that consistent modifications in diet and lifestyle can lower cholesterol and blood pressure and the impending risks that come with those conditions. While medication absolutely has a role in treating certain illnesses and conditions, it is important to not underestimate the value and importance of taking care of our bodies with a healthy diet and lifestyle.

Is a dietitian just for extreme diets, like gluten-free, sugar-free, paleo, etc?

That is a great question! Short answer- absolutely not! Dietitians can assist those wanting to increase vegetable intake or help a child who is a picky eater, all the way to those with extreme food allergies or rare/specific nutritional needs.

How has being a dietitian impacted your own life/diet?

As a dietitian, I constantly think about food- which is a good and a bad thing! I strive to practice what I preach. Most recently, being a dietitian has impacted the way I feed my son, Denton, who is one and a half. He is a toddler, so naturally he has occasional picky eating tendencies or prefers the sweeter, less nourishing options. Rather than focusing on one certain food or food group, I make efforts to provide balanced and nourishing meals daily. I follow the MyPlate meal set up at each meal, exposing him to fruits, vegetables, whole grains, etc. Anything we miss at meals, we incorporate into snacks.

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What’s your favorite part of your job?

Without a doubt, my favorite part of being a dietitian is working with clients from all walks of life. No client is ever the same as the next, so it is always exciting and challenging to individualize nutrition therapy to that particular person. I love hearing their stories and joining in on their journey to the healthiest version of themselves- physically/nutritionally, spiritually, emotionally!

What do you wish more people knew about your job?

For me personally, I wish more people understood the thought process and the importance of science-based nutrition therapy for every part of the life cycle. I think there is sometimes a fear associated with food and worry that a dietitian is going to restrict food or limit food groups.

As a dietitian, my goal is to show people what they CAN eat, rather than focusing on what they CANNOT eat, no matter the circumstance! I want people to enjoy food and enjoy life to their fullest potential.

Emily works with Lemond Nutrition (lemondnutrition.com) – be sure to check out their website and blog for tons of useful info on diet and nutrition!

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Guest Post: A Bit About Prostate Health

Today I’m welcoming Sunil Kumar of Planet Ayurvida. This is a list of facts and tips for prostate health and awareness – it’s a bit different than my usual content here but it’s nice to have some specifics for my menfolk readers! So without further ado, here’s…

A Bit About the Prostate Continue reading