Below are some resources that I hope you'll find helpful on your quest for better health (I know they've helped me!). I'll be continually adding things to this list, so check back periodically for updates. :)
P.S. Some of these links are affiliate links - that means that I do make a small commission if you decide to purchase through these links (no extra cost to you either way). The commission that I earn allows me to provide you with tons of info/expertise free of charge without the annoyance of unsightly ads. Also, all of the opinions provided are my own - I don't recommend anything that I don't use or believe in.
Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon
Nourishing Traditions is not just a cookbook; it's a wealth of knowledge of encyclopedic proportions (except, this is an encyclopedia that you'll actually use). This 674-page-mammoth's overarching theme revolves around traditional food preparation techniques and it explains why deviating from these traditional preparations have added to the dramatic decline in health in America. Chronic health conditions are running rampant and if you're unfortunate enough to have first-hand experience with this (or know someone who does), Nourishing Traditions can be a life-saver. Learn how to prepare a wide variety of foods, including foods that would otherwise be difficult to digest (like grains, beans, and dairy), and see just how amazing a nourished body can feel.
Wild Fermentation and The Art of Fermentation by Sandor Katz
To piggy-back on Nourishing Traditions, the books by Sandor Katz dive into the world of ferments (fermentation is one type of traditional food preparation method that Sally Fallon discusses in Nourishing Traditions).
The benefits of fermentation are widespread - fermented foods are essentially foods that are pre-digested by microflora (I know, gross to think about) and this pre-digestion makes it easier for your body to absorb nutrients from food. When you eat fermented foods, you're also eating those little microbes, which can provide benefits to your body in and of themselves.
Microbes can strengthen your immune system, help protect you from harmful pathogens, and they can even influence whether certain genes in your body are turned on or off. Studies have shown that the microbiota from healthy individuals vs. folks with chronic health issues appear vastly different (there are even huge differences in the microbiota between folks who are carrying around a lot of excess body weight compared to those who aren't).
When it comes to probiotics, I often recommend fermented foods over supplements (unless you're sensitive to certain amines that increase in concentration as foods age). The problem with supplements is that most of these probiotics are created in an artificial environment and, like many things in the nutrition world, the further you get from a natural/wholesome state, the less benefits are generally inferred. Also, it just makes sense that you'd want to expose yourself to those good microbes in their natural state because:
- The manmade environment of a lab is more likely to produce an array of microbes that aren't normally found together in nature, which potentially lowers the effectiveness of those probiotics and could potentially lead to imbalances in your microbiota
- There are many, MANY strains of probiotics out there that have yet to be discovered/studied... so you're more likely to miss out on beneficial microbes that aren't included in supplements yet are found in nature (and, again, could lead to imbalances in your microbiota... especially if your supplement only contains a couple different strains)
- Many supplements don't contain anywhere near the amount of probiotics that they claim they do and many may contain contaminants that could be potentially harmful
- Many probiotics may only stay in your system for a short amount of time, so if you're relying on supplements to get your fix, you'll need to continue taking them to have continued benefit (which really adds up $$$)
- Just like with nutrients, it's best to get your probiotics from a food source whenever possible as there's more that we don't know than what we do know, plus it's almost always safer and more economical to ingest foods than supplements
If you want to add some homemade ferments to your life (which you totally should!), you can't really go wrong with any of the books by Sandor Katz. Wild Fermentation and The Art of Fermentation are Katz's most popular books, with Wild Fermentation being more of an intro to fermentation and The Art of Fermentation taking on more of an in-depth look.
The Art of Natural Cheesemaking by David Asher
While we're on the subject of ferments, cheese has gotta be one of my favorite products of fermentation (mmmm... cheese). If you've ever looked into cheesemaking, you've probably come across the cheesemaking kits and have fumbled through the many different options for cultures that pair with the particular types of cheeses that you'd like to make. While I commend companies for making these kits available and allowing folks to try their hand at cheesemaking, the kits can really add up in cost and they always felt too calculated and artificial to me. There's got to be a better way, amIright?!
What I love about The Art of Natural Cheesemaking is that the author employs natural/traditional methods of making cheese instead of relying on kits (this speaks to the homesteader within me)... and let me tell you: handmade cheeses are far superior to mass-produced cheeses found in the grocery store. David Asher did an amazing job writing The Art of Natural Cheesemaking - the instructions are detailed and the photos are gorgeous; he's also made the act of cheesemaking much more approachable. Highly recommended whether you're a cheese snob, a beginner or wannabe cheesemaker, or you're just curious about how the various types of cheeses are made.
The Nourished Kitchen by Jennifer McGruther
Similar to Nourishing Traditions, The Nourished Kitchen is a cookbook that's aimed at the traditional foods lifestyle. Jennifer McGruther makes traditional cooking extremely approachable and I particularly love the use of story-telling interweaved throughout her book. Most importantly: her recipes are amazing!
Yes, some of the recipes are kind of out there (pickled tongue, anyone?), but that's actually something that I appreciate about this book.
For years, we Americans have put ourselves into this small culinary box (filled with chicken breasts, ground beef, and the like, no doubt), but there's a whole wide world out there chock-full of mouthwatering creations (and, like I tell my food sensitivity clients, the more reliant you are on the same old foods day in and day out, the higher the likelihood you'll develop sensitivities to those foods... so start adding some variety ASAP).
For meat-based dishes, I also appreciate the use of less-common cuts (like liver, kidney, tongue, and heart) because, to me, you are better honoring that animal's life by utilizing as much of it as possible (not to mention, the different cuts of meat offer a completely different composition of nutrients to provide you with more well-rounded nourishment).
If you're not into these unconventional ingredients, don't worry: there are still plenty of delicious recipes featuring ingredients that are very commonly used and easy to procure. I strongly urge you, though, to push the boundaries a bit and try some things that you never thought you would (approach cooking with an open mind). Hell, dedicate one night a week to a date night filled with playful food experimentation (I didn't mean for that to sound dirty, but I guess it did hahaha). Who knows? Maybe you'll develop a taste for that pickled tongue. ;)
Intuitive Eating by Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch
If you're no stranger to the never-ending cycle of dieting, Intuitive Eating is an awesome resource to have in your arsenal. In Intuitive Eating, the authors explain why dieting fails you (it's not you, it's the diet--trust me) and how you can build a better relationship with your body and with food.
Learn how to recognize those hunger and fullness cues that you've been soooo good at ignoring and learn how to finally put an end to emotional eating. Have dozens of old dieting rule books collecting dust on the shelf? A bon fire may be in your not-so-distant future. ;)
Stress Detox by Amanda Austin
And of course, I have to mention my own book (shameless plug). In Stress Detox, I explore the ways in which stress affects the body as well as the many different forms of stressors that add to the burden your body has been forced to carry. From emotional stressors to food-based stressors and even sleep- and toxin-based stressors, you'll receive an actionable plan on how to regain health and reclaim your life.
Chronic stress (especially of the emotional variety) is something that can really hold you back in just about every area of your life... and it's something that can sabotage even the best of intentions. Addressing nutrition without addressing the other stressors that are eating away at you will end up feeling like a futile war. So, please, please, please don't discount just how much of an impact that stress can have on your life.
(resources to get you moving)
Love the workouts, don't love the Bikini Body Mommy name (but I digress). Briana from Bikini Body Mommy has a nice selection of FREE workouts available on her site (you can also access them directly on her YouTube channel). In addition to the free content, Briana offers paid options that include an ab series, couples series, pre- and post-natal series, among others.
Briana has personally gone through fitness transformations of her own while being a mommy to 4 kiddos... she's also gone through periods of weight gains and losses (mainly thanks to pregnancy) just like the rest of us, so she's an actual human who faces many of the same types of obstacles you and I face.
The free fitness challenges are in 90-day cycles where each week consists of 6 workout days and 1 day of rest (but you can adapt the workouts to whatever schedule works best for you). Since Briana is a busy mommy, she sympathizes with the time constraints most people face in today's hustle and bustle culture - most of her workouts can be completed in under 20 minutes (yay!). You also don't have to have tons of expensive equipment in order to get the most out of her workouts - all you need is a pair of weights, a yoga mat, and a chair. I also like that she doesn't just focus on weight and uses other measures of success (like fitness tests).
Beachbody also has a nice selection of quality workouts - there's something for everyone. I think the first Beachbody workout that I invested in was Turbo Jam... and, a decade later, it's still one of my favorites. What can I say? The dance-y quasi-kickboxing speaks to me.
Of course, Beachbody does offer the ever-popular INSANITY, T25, and other intense programs (if you're just starting out, go with something lower intensity first and gradually work up to the more difficult stuff - if you don't, you risk injuring yourself).
Physical activity has benefits that are far-reaching (waaaaay beyond helping you get into those skinny jeans) - it can help with mood, sleep, detoxification, reduce risks of developing certain health conditions... plus having strength and stamina can help you feel more empowered. You don't have to participate in a structured workout program to get or stay fit. At the end of the day, you should choose an activity that gets you moving that you actually enjoy (otherwise, you're less likely to continue being active).
Participating in an activity that gets you outdoors can offer benefits beyond those of physical activity alone. Many people trap themselves in buildings for most hours of the day and there's no doubt that being indoors all the time can offer some of its own health risks (such as a lack of vitamin D production from insufficient sun exposure, overstimulation by technology, indoor air pollution, etc). Just connecting with nature on a regular basis can do wonderful things for your body and mind.
Walk, hike, run around with the kids or dog, go swimming, climb some rocks, go skiing, hop on a bike, strap on some rollerblades... just do something that gets you out and about (bonus points if you include a buddy).