Okay, so if you read my most recent post on my health update, you know that I recently started seeing a new primary care doctor. So far she has been great and I am super positive about my switch. One of the things I really like about her approach, is that she really strives to see the bigger picture, instead of just focusing on all symptoms separately. This is so critical when you are dealing with autoimmune diseases since they manifest so differently in everybody and their symptoms can be tricky to pin down. I wanted to share a conversation that we had because, number one, I really liked how she approached it, and number two, this advice may be able to help other IBD sufferers. Full disclosure, I am not a medical professional, or qualified to give any medical advice. What I can do, is share my experience in hopes that it may inspire you to have similar conversations with your doctor.
Our main discussion was around a few concerns I have had over the past few months, related to weird symptoms I was experiencing. I couldn't tell if these were related to Crohn's symptoms, medication side effects, or some other issue entirely. I had been getting headaches as well as spikes in my blood pressure pretty frequently. Usually my BP runs pretty normal and stably, I've been hooked up to vital machines every six weeks for the past four-ish years so I know. I had exams, blood work, EKGs, the whole nine yards done, but no one could figure out what was going on. Everyone was assuming these were due to my anxiety, which could be the case some times, but honestly I feel like my anxiety has been more in control over the past few months than it has ever been. Things weren't adding up.
My new doctor and I started having conversations around this and we uncovered the almost annoyingly simple answer. In my frustration I ranted about how my Crohn's symptoms being better the past few months, obviously not gone entirely, but things have been under control. I went on about how conscious I was about taking care of my body when my symptoms were bad and how I don't understand why something else seems to be wrong now. Then the question of how much water I was drinking came up. Of course I make sure to stay hydrated! When my Crohn's is bad I actually HAVE TO pay attention to my hydration at all times to make sure I don't end up in the hospital. Things started to click together as I explained my diligent hydration routine. I realized that since my Crohn's symptoms have been better, my avoidance of dehydration had slipped to the back of my mind. When I was doing a physical activity or out in the sun I was always careful to pack a DripDrop packet and track my water intake, but as far as day to day, for some reason I guess since I wasn't losing as much water due to my symptoms, all was well. This is NOT THE CASE. My symptoms aren't gone completely so I am still at a higher risk of dehydration, but I was acting like this wasn't even a factor anymore.
As we pieced this together I honestly felt like an idiot. She explained how your blood pressure can be seriously impacted by dehydration and I needed to make sure that was a priority even if I was seemingly feeling fine. She was convinced that the chronic dehydration I had recently been unknowingly experiencing was the cause for my blood pressure spikes. I was cracking myself up with how crazy this sounded after I went through all of these tests and freaked myself out to no end. "I have a partnership with the best Oral Rehydration Solution company out there. I drink them whenever I work out or am outside or am sick." I was literally yelling at myself in her office. "Well start not just drinking them when you think you 'need' to. Start drinking one per day at least and two in the summer." My doctor literally just prescribed me DripDrop to fix my BP and headache issues.....
Over the past six weeks or so, I've been taking her advice and making sure I am being way more conscious of my water intake and making sure I am adding DripDrop to my water at least once per day. I also have been diligent about the one glass of champagne to one glass of water ratio rule, which I am very proud of. Go. Me. Miraculously my headaches have improved and my blood pressure has been way more normal. Wow.
So what did I learn from this story and why am I sharing it. One, I am thankful I have a doctor that actually thought of chronic dehydration instead if just trying to prescribe me an unnecessary pill. Two, sometimes the seemingly more simple answer is the right one. Three, just because you are feeling okay doesn't mean you can slack on your usual care and precautions. Last thing, I was really excited to share this story because DripDrop genuinely has helped me so much. I know I talk about DripDrop often and how it is a product I am proud to be a partner to. But I also know in the world of social media where bloggers are promoting products all the time it is hard to tell what is authentic and what isn't. I like being able to share a story like this, where you can see how DripDrop truly is a part of my health protocol. It isn't just part of an Instagram post, or a blog post. This isn't just a lifestyle product I am taking cute photos of (although, yes, I think they are very cute). This is a product that changes lives and saves lives. And I am very proud to work with them.
The incoming of summer sunshine reminded me that I was overdue for my annual dermatology appointment. I made an appointment to be seen this Friday and have a nice skin check up to make sure all is well. I never used to put much thought into skin abnormalities because the chances of it being skin cancer seemed so far fetched to me. This was seriously naive behavior considering both of my grandfathers have a history of skin cancer and in college I was visiting the tanning bed like it was my second home. Bad. Idea.
As I took more of an interest in skincare I realized how horribly I was ruining my skin by baking it in the sun. I started lathering up with SPF instead of tanning oil and called it a healthier lifestyle. Once I was diagnosed with Crohn’s, my awareness of the risks of skin cancer heightened. The more research I did, the more I understood the link between Crohn’s and skin cancer. The immunosuppressants us with Crohn’s are often on, can highly increase the likelihood of skin cancer. While the exact reason for this link is not 100% explained yet, the correlation can’t be ignored.
I started lathering SPF 50 all over my face, neck, and hands on the daily. I started covering up my scalp while on walks with my dogs. And I started spending a whole lot more time under the umbrella while on the beach. The risk of skin cancer is not worth a balmy glow I can easily get from a bronzing lotion. Even if you are not at a high risk for skin cancer, the sun is the most damaging thing to your skin. Is it worth getting prematurely wrinkled? I vote no.
All things in the table here, I am a firm believer in regular dermatology evaluations, especially if you have an autoimmune disease/ are on immunosuppressants. No matter how much you do to protect your skin now, you can never be 100% immune to the dangerous effects of UV rays, and sadly, the damage you have done can contribute to problems you may face now or in the future.
Obviously none of us are perfect. There have been days I forget my SPF and there are days I’ve spent too much time in the sun in favor of a good time with friends. I’m not saying you can never allow your skin see the light of day because, let’s get real, that’s super unrealistic. What I am saying though, is that you can do your best to 1. protect your skin and 2. do your due diligence with check ups.
Hopefully I’ll be reporting back after my appointment tomorrow with good news of no skin concerns. Until then, I wanted to leave you all with a few kick ass sunscreen recommendations. These are a few of my favorite products that infuse my love of skincare with the responsibility of protecting my skin.
Drop me a comment and let me know your SPF loaded product recommendations. I’m always in for a good new product to try.
Photo by: Madison Short
If you haven’t read my post yet about my journey to more anti-inflammatory eating, definitely do so. It was the launching point for my new experimental dive into cooking, which you may have seen on my Instagram stories. While I’m not a total pro, yet, I’m really proud of how far I have come in the cooking game.
I’ve been working with Sue Levy, from Savory Living, on little behavior changes that I can implement in my life that can make a big impact on my health. I’ve been in tune with my body and what feels good for me, so that I can actually customize what I’m eating in order to feel the best I can. Sue has been helping to walk me through these little changes and helping me learn how to cook so that I can own the knowledge of what I’m eating. The whole program is online and takes less than an hour or so a week so it was easy for me to add into my already crazy schedule. Sue and I can communicate through the website directly so it is super efficient and she can give me advice and direction as I am working through recipes and new foods, day by day.
Throughout these first few weeks so far, I have gained a lot of confidence in my cooking abilities for the first time in my life and I have realized how delicious the food I’m able to make. It took me 27 years to take an interest in cooking because it took me until now to have someone explain it to me in a way that clicked with my brain.
Sue introduced me to this really cool concept called flavor balancing. It’s all about adding elements to your dish that are acidic, sweet, salty, and bitter until it tastes like a balanced and artful combination. This really demystified things for me because it reminded me of any other artful practice like interior design or fashion. It is all about balancing all of the elements of a room or an outfit so that one piece doesn’t overpower another. If you find you are decorating a room with a lot of heavy pieces, you need to add in some airy, textural accessories to balance it out. That is the same with food.
This was a crazy realization for me to the point that I called my mom to explain how making dinner was like designing a room. The confidence built since I felt like I had almost a secret formula that would make my food taste good. After I got the flavor balancing concept down, Sue gave me her holy grail of flavor balancing…. Her global cuisine flavor chart which basically teaches you what to balance to create any type of flavor you are craving. For example, if you want to make something with a Greek flavor profile, her guide literally lists exactly the different items you can mix from each flavor category to create a perfect dish. It also tells you exactly what proteins, fats, veggies, and herbs to add in. It is basically a formula that you can’t mess up for making great tasting dishes. She also has a lot of other guides that are formulated in this same way, like her guide to making your own vinaigrette at home which, in case you were wondering, I totally nailed. There are also videos that you can follow along to, so really, I couldn’t mess this up.
I just can’t fathom that it took me so long to learn to look at cooking this way but I am so thankful that I finally “get it”. It has also made my grocery shopping and meal planning so much easier. A little hack on how I’ve been planning out meals lately is, I pick a flavor profile that I want to focus on that week and I buy the herbs, vegetables, protein, and fat that fit with that “formula”. It’s nice because I can mix and match the ingredients, I know that they actually go together, and I can create different meals with the same core ingredients. This has actually saved us money because before I would find a random recipe online, buy all of the ingredients, use them once, and they’d go bad. Now I’m actually using our food to its full potential and appreciating the many ways in which I can incorporate it into a meal.
Here is an example… last week we were in the mood for some French flavors so we stocked our house with the essentials.
Now that I’m experimenting more with flavors, I’m realizing what I like, as well as new combinations. I improvised a meal to surprise Matt the other night - scallops pan seared in butter/garlic and seasoned with parsley, salt, pepper, lemon. I baked asparagus and seasoned it with salt, pepper, and some parmesan cheese on top. I’m learning that no matter what the flavor profile, I pretty much like parmesan and garlic with almost everything. The meal was a hit and I was, not going to lie, super impressed with myself.
I’m going to continue to share these meals I am making…. Like tonight’s, shrimp scampi with broccoli and gluten free red lentil pasta. I’m not sharing to show off, okay maybe I am a little, but I love sharing how easy these concepts are and how I’ve been implementing them into my life. I wish I would have had this “I get it” moment years ago so I’m shouting it out to everyone I know!
This was only the second session of the program and I just started the third this past week. Each session is teaching me new skills to build on top of each other. This week I’m working on crowding my diet with greens and learning how to cook said greens properly. This is a must needed skill for IBD sufferers because leafy green veggies can be hard to handle if they aren’t cooked. As I’m adding onto my skills in the kitchen, not only am I feeling more confident but I am feeling better physically and mentally, and I’m saving money.
I was on the phone with Sue on Saturday raving about all of these things she has taught me. We chatted for almost an hour about this and she just is a wealth of knowledge about these tips to create lifestyle habits that support the best you. I’m SO excited, because she offered to get on a 20 minute call with any Crohnically Blonde readers who are in need of some of some of these personalized tips. She is offering to do this totally for free which is incredible! Shoot me and email or message on Instagram if you want to schedule a call with her and I can send you her link to do so! If you do chat with her I can’t wait to hear your thoughts on her tips and the passion she has about helping others!
Stay tuned for more of my cooking adventures…..
Having a suppressed immune system during flu season makes interacting with any human being feel like you are playing russian roulette with your health. Last year was the worst flu season I had experienced ever. I got the flu shot and still ended up with the flu. Twice. I spent a seriously huge chunk of my winter trying to get over being sick. I actually did a post about the remedies I found had worked. At least if I was going to spend that much time under the weather, I was able to gather some good tips to pass on.
This year my focus has been on taking preventative measures to make sure I don’t have a repeat performance of flu season 2018. Between how busy I have been recently and already having to take extra “down time” because of my Crohn’s, being out of commission for an extra week is incredibly inconvenient. This season I have seen success with a few tricks I’ve picked up over this past year. It is only February so while we aren’t out of the woods yet, I’ve at least made it this far and wanted to share. I have rounded up my “Essential Top 5” tricks for getting through flu season, including some products that have been a total game changers for me.
1. Stay hydrated with DripDrop
Adding a packet of DripDrop to your water everyday is a super simple way to load up on Vitamin C and make sure you are keeping your body hydrated. Staying hydrated is so important for keeping your immune system strong and moving toxins out of your body and vitamin c is the holy grail of immune system boosting tricks. DripDrop is an oral rehydration solution that treats and prevents dehydration. I make sure to have a packet of DripDrop added into my water to sip throughout the morning. It tastes really delicious too, so it feels like you are giving yourself a little treat. I’ve been doing this for the past couple of months and I have also noticed a difference in my energy levels, improvement in my skin, and best yet, I have stayed pretty free from nasty cold weather viruses!
The more I researched why staying hydrated is so important, I’m thought, well duh, how did I not put this together before. Think about when you go to the hospital… what is the first thing they do pretty much every time? Hook you up to an IV to get you hydrated. The fact that I can basically give myself all of the benefits from an IV everyday without the needles or hospital stays, is pretty game changing*. I like DripDrop specifically because the drink mix isn’t loaded with unnecessary sugars, it packs a ton of vitamin C into just one serving, and it works so quickly. My favorite flavor is the watermelon, it also turns your water pink so, pretty on brand, right? You can get the multi-flavor pack (here) so you can sample all three flavors and see what your favorite is.
2. Take your vitamins
Similarly to staying hydrated, I have been making sure that my body has all of the vitamins it needs so I can stay as healthy as possible. Traditionally I am not a big vitamin fan because they usually mess up my stomach and aren’t worth the hassle. For the past few months I’ve been trying Ritual Vitamins and have been loving them. They include everything you need in one capsule so you don’t have to lug around 5 different vitamin bottles in your purse. They also taste great because they are infused with peppermint essential oil and they don’t upset my stomach. Win. Win.
3. Consistently get a good night sleep
Being sleep deprived is your immune system’s number one enemy. It is important to make sure that during “sick season” you are giving yourself ample time to sleep at night and make sure to maximize those precious hours by getting to sleep quickly. This hasn’t always been a strong suit of mine but I have been working on meditating before bed, scheduling a “bed time” for myself (and abiding by it), and limiting blue light exposure before bed. Everyone has different tricks that help them sleep but being in a routine has really helped my body become more aware of when it is supposed to be snoozing. I recommend the Headspace and Relax Melodies apps for meditation and start about 20-30 minutes before you actually want to be asleep. Both apps have a lot of different options so there is something to help everyone drift off into slumber.
4. Manage your stress levels
This is the number one thing my gastro always tells me, keep my stress levels in check to help keep my body well. This is another work in progress for me but I’ve seen a lot of relief by managing the expectations I have for myself and the expectations I set with others. I used to always be nervous to say no to an activity or social event. Now, no is a response I give a lot and it is for the better. I also have recently been auditing my calendar to make sure that everything I’m doing is adding value to my life. Through doing this I’ve been able to cut out unnecessary tasks and use that time to relax instead and make sure I’m giving my body the down time it needs.
Part of stress management for me also includes staying active. Keeping a strict workout routine is difficult when there are so many surprises your body can throw at you. Crohn’s flare, aching joints, a random fever out of nowhere…. Just a few things that like to get in the way. I like to make sure that even if I can’t do something intense I am being active in some way. Two of my favorite ways to keep my body moving are doing yoga at home and taking my dogs for walks. Both are not strenuous and don’t put extra stress on my body but keep me active and give me time to clear my head.
5. Sometimes you have to play offense
While most of my tips are about heightening your body’s defenses, sometimes you have to play offense when it comes to protecting your immune system. During this time of year I always carry hand sanitizer, a hospital mask, and sanitation wipes. I especially do this for when I travel because you are in contact with so many people and so many potentially germ ridden surfaces. Making sure you are keeping your surroundings clean is important and allows you to proactively handle germs.
Hopefully these tips were helpful and you can implement them before “sick season” is over and get through flu free. If you have any questions specifically about the products or apps I recommend, shoot me a message.
Now about to go sip a big cup of DripDrop, watermelon flavor, please, and watch The Bachelor.
Photos by Madison Short ;; Jacket by AmyScripts
*2003 study shows no difference in effectiveness between ORS & IV.
I received this product for free for testing purposes but all opinions are my own.
Food and I have always had a love/hate relationship. I feel like that’s sadly too often the case in people with IBD. Throw constantly working to stay in recovery from an eating disorder and you’ve leveled up to a status that “It’s Complicated” can’t even begin to cover.
Over the years I’ve tried a plethora of food related remedies to help with my digestive issues and seen plenty of nutritionists for both that and my eating disorder. I’ve tried the keto diet, low FODMAP diet, removing dairy/gluten, liquid diets, Chinese herbs…. a lot of things. Some of them have stuck, like I now know what foods don’t agree with me, but I don’t feel like I’ve developed a truly sustainable and enjoyable way of eating. Plus, I still have a variety of issues leading back to autoimmune and inflammatory problems and I still have no way to fix those things.
Over the years I’ve developed such a stress surrounding food and meals. What is going to make me sick? Will this make me gain weight (on top of the weight I’ve gained from my medications)? Is this food really good for me? How the heck do I actually even cook something properly? I am a hot mess when it comes to anything in the kitchen.
I’ve had such a stress around food preparation that I never really learned how to cook. Like, I’m really, really not great at it. Matt doesn’t even want me to cook our Sunbasket deliveries alone because he’s concerned for my safety. I wish I was kidding. I love enjoying good food though; I get that part. The marriage of flavors, the textures, the balance. Creating a successful dish is just like putting together a well-designed room or outfit. It is a science and an art, just one that my heart has never been behind.
I never made it a priority to learn how to properly cook for or fuel myself because I have always just gotten by with my half-assed attempts. My life has been so busy that there was always an excuse as to why cooking simply wasn’t for me. It is funny how you can make all of the excuses when it involves you, but when it involves others the game changes. Let me explain……
Sue from Savory Living reached out to me to connect about her unique online experience. The goal is to help you eat right for your body in a way that is customized to you and lifestyle. At first I was skeptical because I can’t tell you HOW many people have reached out to me telling me that their special diets or products would cure my Crohn’s Disease. That a shake would rebalance my immune system. That eating only raw vegetables would revive my digestive system. The list goes on and on and I always called bullshit, especially after all of the years of desperately trying whatever I could.
I looked into Sue’s company, Savory Living and I was pretty impressed. Savory Living is an online experience that, in 12 sessions, helps you develop healthier habits that YOU choose, teaches you how to cook food that is good for you, tastes good, and gives you the “why” behind adding in those certain foods. It is focused on mindfulness around what makes you feel good, showing up and committing to yourself, and ADDING good foods to your plate instead of focusing on elimination. The program slowly guides you to make small changes over time so that you don’t feel overwhelmed. Baby steps to set you up for success. I am ALL about this and have tried to do this for myself but the thought of what the heck I’m supposed to eat gets too daunting and I run out of the grocery store in a cold sweat.
I had a long call with Sue and we connected immediately. Hearing her story of how she’s thriving as a mom and entrepreneur, and crushing a rare disease that was determined to hold her back, was super inspiring. She explained how she made lifestyle changes for herself (and her family!) that really stuck and helped to create a drastically healthier life and an increasingly good prognosis for her health conditions. By the end of our conversation I was in awe of how much she really just wants to share her knowledge and experience in order to help others who were suffering from chronic ailments.
As she walked me through the program I was really drawn to how education focused it is. The whole goal of the program is to help you discover how to eat right for you (getting anti-inflammatory eating to solve the issues you are experiencing) and to guide you through the change to make it easy, manageable, and fun. Then she hit me with something that SHOOK ME….Sue explained that we teach our kids how to walk and talk and read and write but we never teach them how to eat.
THIS. RIGHT. HERE. Is what got me. If I don’t learn how to have a healthy relationship with food and figure out how to best fuel my body, how would I be able to teach my kids? The thought of leading my future children down the complicated food path I have traveled completely horrified me. This thought played over in my brain all day after our conversation.
So here I am. I have finally committed to learning a bit more about food, food preparation, and the “why” behind what we put in our bodies. I am starting an online program with Savory Living in hopes of creating a better lifestyle that I can pass onto my future kids and my family.
The program is a total of 12 sessions with two weeks in between to implement your new tricks. During those two weeks you implement three different changes to your life that are positive and trackable. You log what you are eating each day in the Savory Living portal so that you can be aware of any correlations the food you eat is having with your body, mood, energy level, etc. The classes are only 25 minute long videos which are easy to digest (haha get it….) and to the point, plus there is a ton of food ideas, cooking content, and other resources that you can explore. It is super interactive and personally I can’t wait to try out the recipe videos! You also have a coach who is helping to hold you accountable and advise you as you go through the program. This means a built-in person to help you if you are having a grocery store meltdown. Sorry in advance, Sue.
I am hopeful that educating myself more on food and nutrition instead of turning a blind eye, because it’s just too stressful to think of, will help me to feel better physically and mentally. I am hoping what I learn can help me adapt my lifestyle and feel excited about eating and cooking instead of treating those actions like a dreadful chore.
As I go through the programI am going to share my thoughts with you, as well as some bits and pieces of knowledge I’m getting. I’m going to track how I feel as I implement these lifestyle changes and you can come along on this journey with me. Since each program takes a full two weeks, I’ll be posting a “check in” every month or so to track progress and see how things are going.
One of my intentions I set for the year was to be more mindful and I am excited that this program and support are going to help me be more informed about what I am putting in my body and more mindful of how those things make me feel. As always, if you have any questions as I start the Savory Living program, drop me a message, and make sure to follow along via Instagram for even more updates along the way.
Being dehydrated has always been a sad and annoying complication of having Crohn’s Disease. Through vomiting and diarrhea you are pretty much always losing valuable fluids that your body needs to function and, when you are feeling under the weather, forcing yourself to drink the high volume of water that your body needs can be hard and honestly downright painful.
I have struggled with this issue for years and it gets even worse when I am working out! I love being active but when I am dehydrated and lethargic it is difficult to get moving. There have been times that when I do get my butt to a workout class I’ve almost passed out because I’ve had Crohn’s issues the night before and my body isn’t refueled/re hydrated enough to handle a workout.
I’ve dabbled in a few re-hydration methods and finally found something I can proudly advocate for. DripDrop is an oral re-hydration solution that is so easy to use and I can carry it in my purse at all times. Its a powder that comes in little packets (for either 8oz or 16oz servings). You just add the powder into your water and, boom, you have an electrolyte drink. Now I know when you hear electrolyte drink you are thinking about some nasty, sugary sports drink but this is NOT the case. It tastes great (my current favorite is the berry flavor) but isn’t loaded with added sugars. This is also ideal for people with sensitive stomachs because you know those sugars are not our friends. Basically this stuff re-hydrates your body super quickly by only have to drink 8-16oz of water instead of two to three times that amount.
You know I am skeptical about products and especially ones that claim to help with Crohn’s related issues but let me tell you I’ve tried this stuff and I am an actual fan. It works quicker than any other re-hydration drink I’ve tried and doesn’t upset my stomach. I also really love that it has 110% of your daily recommended Vitamin C because, let’s be real, when you have Crohn’s your immune system sucks so we need all of the Vitamin C we can get.
I love the idea of this being such an easy thing to add into your daily routine. Like you can throw it in your purse… there is no excuse why you can’t use DripDrop. It is already on my packing list for my two upcoming trips because flying gets me super dehydrated which then leaves me landing in my final destination with a killer headache and skin that looks like the Sahara desert.
While I started loving this product because of the benefits for my Crohn’s related issues, I since, have been loving the other benefits as well. Staying hydrated can give you some gorgeous glowing skin… something I rarely have had despite my skincare product obsession, now to be changed by my new found hydration routine. I’ll keep you posted on this one…
Last thing, you all also know I love to have a glass or two of rosé from time to time. I am not 21 anymore so after about two glasses I feel my skin drying up like a sad prune and my insides reminding me of how horrendous they will feel the next day. Cue DripDrop because if you drink this before bed on a night of indulging you are number one, super responsible, and number two, will wake up feeling fresh despite the rosé. If you aren’t one for a proactive approach and you’ve already been cursed by a hangover, it is all good. Pop some in your drink in the AM and you are good to go.
I am telling you guys, this stuff is a life saver and whether it is because I am having a Crohn’s flare or because I had one too many spicy margaritas, I am here for it, I am about it, and I recommend it. That being said, in honor of Crohn’s and Colitis Awareness Week, I am doing a special giveaway with DripDrop! The winner will receive two boxes of DripDrop sticks and a super cute DripDrop bag. To enter, head to my Instagram and check out the post of my pink water for details.
What flavor are you excited to try?!
The holiday season is upon us which means you are looking for gifts to give to the special people in your lives. I love consulting gift guides of my favorite bloggers to get some ideas especially when it comes to buying for my sisters and friends. I wanted to kick off my series of gift guides with one that is near and dear to my heart.... a Spoonie Gift Guide!
If you are someone living with a chronic illness you know there are some really special comforts in life that truly are some of the best gifts. There may not be a magic pill you can gift to someone who has a chronic illness that will make it all better, but there are plenty of gifts you can give that can help reduce anxiety, create a more comfortable way to relax, and provide a bit of luxury to a day of self care.
You can shop my picks below so you can treat the spoonie in your life this holiday season (or yourself... alway appropriate to treat yourself). I also have included some brief descriptions, giving you the scoop on why these are the perfect gifts!
1. slip Silk Pillow Case - When you aren't feeling so hot it's no secret that you can spend a lot of time in bed. Having a luxurious pillow case can make you feel at least a bit pampered while you are getting your beauty sleep. The numerous benefits for your skin and hair simply by switching to this pillow case can make you feel like you are treating yourself while you snooze.
2. Herbivore Detox Bath Salts - Baths are won of my favorite ways to unwind after a long day and they help a lot with chronic joint and muscle pain. I also love how cute this jar is because you will actually want it to be displayed in your bathroom.
3. slip Silk Sleep Mask - I never understood the hype around sleep masks until I wanted to sleep in a bright doctors office. Game. Changed. This is a gem to someone who is constantly exhausted.
4. Audible Membership - Audible is the gift that keeps on giving. It allows you to consume content straight through your earbuds in a relaxing way. When you are nauseous or have a migraine the last thing you want to do is read a book or look at a screen. Audible solves all of these problems and is also a great companion for when you are getting infusions or suffering through a long wait at the doctor's office.
5. Pajama Set - Feeling cute and put together goes a long when when it comes to mindset and morale. Even if your hot date this weekend consists of Netlixing by yourself it feels good to get a little fancy in these adorable (but still ultra comfy) pajamas.
6. Earbuds - This goes hand in hand with the Audible Membership. Listening to books, podcasts, or music can be a great distraction during medical procedures or when you just aren't feeling great and need to take your mind somewhere else. Also, great to wear when you don't feel like speaking to any other humans.
7. Mask Frenzy by Peter Thomas Roth - Masks are another great way to practice self care. This set has all of the greatest highs from PTR but isn't necessarily something you can justify spending the money on yourself. This is a special gift that will remind the spoonie in your life to spend a little extra time treating themselves.
8. Gravity Blanket- These are proven to help with anxiety and insomnia which are two things many spoonies experience. Who doesn't want the gift of better sleep?
9. Teddy Bear Faux Fur Bath Robes - Again, sometimes its nice to feel pampered without having to leave your home.
10. Acupressure Mat - These are out of this world when it goes to helping decrease muscle pain and discomfort. They are are proven to help lover anxiety.
Did I miss anything? Let me know what else you would add to the list.
Also, stay tuned for my next gift guide coming soon.
Going into a holiday that is pretty much solely revolved around food can feel like a real nightmare for someone who has IBD. The Thanksgiving table is an uncharted war zone full of things that could potentially set your digestive system into full SOS mode, not to mention the exhaustion of having to actually speak to humans all day, oh and did I mention a limited number of shared bathrooms. Yikes.
My family is always extremely accommodating and supportive of my dietary needs and medical situation which is a relief but even so, I still experience a variety of road blocks throughout Turkey Day. I figured if I am running into these issues, I cannot be alone in my struggle. We are getting it all out here on the table (no pun intended)… all of the annoying things about this food focused holiday. Actually feel free to share this with your family/relatives so they know what you are going through. Never fear though, I will also supply you with some tips on how I get through the day and actually end up having a pretty enjoyable time.
The first issue with Thanksgiving, or really eating at anyone’s house where you did not prepare the food, is how are you supposed to know the actual ingredients of what you are eating? Grandma might say that her dish is gluten free until she realizes that whoops there were bread crumbs in there, do those have gluten? and BOOM your whole day goes to shit. Literally. Or there are the other types of people who know what is in their dish but INSIST you try it anyway. Like I get that your corn pudding was pinned 700 times on Pinterest but that STILL does not change the fact that me and corn are not friends. I don’t see you asking the person with a shellfish allergy to “just taste” your crab dip because its “that good”. Just because my reaction doesn’t involved an epi-pen doesn’t mean it doesn’t count. And to be honest, I still may also end up in the hospital. Re: the last time I though quinoa was a good idea.
As I mentioned before, my family is really good about being accommodating with dietary restrictions. Even still, I can’t always predict that the dishes that on paper meet all of my requirements still won’t make me sick. It could be a spice or an oil that I sets me off, or maybe a specific vegetable that I don’t normally eat. Or honestly it could be anything under the sun that my body just decides to hate that day. Either way, you can try as hard as you want to avoid things that will make you sick but at the end of the day there are no guarantees.
At that point you are stuck out of your house, utilizing a common bathroom, and still having to speak to people despite feeling horrible. Not a great situation. Side note here really quick: this is all assuming you are going elsewhere to celebrate Thanksgiving. If you are hosting it at your house, damn girl, good for you. I can barely figure out how to make my Sunbasket deliveries so I am not with you there but like I said, good for you. So back to the situation where you are sick and have one bathroom and have to talk to people. Sneaking away for a 20 minute bathroom break can be a good excuse to get some downtime from the fam but I also would rather spend that hiatus hiding in a closet somewhere, strolling around the backyard, or literally anywhere but one of the common bathrooms.
Even if you make it through the day without any digestive melt downs it can just be a really exhausting day. Between prepping food, catching up with family, and having little to no time for yourself, it can take a toll on you even if you love being around your family and are having a great time. Over exerting yourself around the holidays can be hard to avoid because you are just really so excited to spend time with your loved ones and celebrate.
So now you’re reading this, nodding your head, and wishing someone had a magic pill to make your Thanksgiving digestive drama go away. Well I don’t have that (because TBH science isn’t my strong suit) but I do have some suggestions based on what I incorporate into my own life and a whole lot of research (aka years of trial and error).
I try and set aside “downtime” every holiday… including Thanksgiving. I usually do this by creating a tradition out of it. No one messes with traditions. For example, on Thanksgiving morning instead of jumping right into big groups and festivities I watch the parades with my mom and my sister. This gives us all time to relax and ease into our day. It allows us to spend time with each other but also not be “on” having to really socialize. We are all on the same page with this one. Maybe you make a new tradition for yourself that revolves around being home at 6pm and getting a start on Christmas movie watching. Relaxing, festive, and still fun.
Next up… Bring your own food if you are concerned. To be full disclosure, I’ve heard mixed reviews on this. Some hosts says its super rude to bring your own meal. Some say THANK YOU because they don’t have to deal with your dietary restrictions and risk being the one that sends you into a shit storm. I personally think this is totally fine and you are actually doing your host a favor. As long as you are messaging it properly that you are doing this because you value spending time with everyone so much and want to make sure you are feeling your best to do so, then I think its perfectly appropriate. Bring a nice bottle of wine to share with everyone and one as a host gift and you should be good to go.
In addition to bringing your own meal, or instead of if the thought of rolling into dinner with your own lunchbox is giving you anxiety, at least bring a dish to share that you know you can eat. By doing this you are sharing the love and contributing to the dinner but you are also hedging your bets because you know there is at least one thing YOU made and YOU can eat. This is also a fun opportunity to show your family that your “weird” diet can still yield some really delicious recipes. And hey, if no one else is into your gluten free stuffing, you will get all the leftovers to yourself. Win, win.
Last piece of advice, and actually my favorite, is to make the holiday not about the food. I know this sounds absurd and impossible especially when we are talking about Thanksgiving. It is doable though. Think about what are the other things you can enjoy and celebrate about the holiday. Thanksgiving… you are (most likely) off of work, you are spending time with people you love, you get to wear a cute outfit, this is a perfect excuse to force your significant other to take corny Instagram photos with you… or dress your dogs up in turkey costumes… maybe that is just me. What I am trying to say is there are plenty of things to look forward to about the day that are non food related. Parades, football, getting ready to Black Friday shop, or literally just celebrating you have a day to not be at work. I don’t care what it is but there has to be something that gets you excited that has nothing to do with turkey.
I know all of this is way easier said than done and the holidays can be a tricky time. Try and hang in there, enjoy what you can, and accept when it’s time to tap out early to binge watch Hallmark Christmas movies. There is NOTHING wrong with that.
If you followed my blog/social media before Crohnically Blonde became what it is today, you know that fashion was a large portion of the content I shared (before I even knew “content” was a thing). I have always loved fashion – cue the years of me curating a huge book of magazine clipping inspiration in high school. In college I had a brief stint in fashion school in NYC which was my teenage dream and came back home without a degree but with exposure to a new platform to curate my inspiration. Tumblr. This was in 2009 when social media was just really at the very beginning of becoming a thing. A blogger was not yet an accepted job title, and a fashion influencer was not what we know it as today. I started sharing my own personal styling and outfits on my new blog on Tumblr and eventually Wordpress. Fashion has always been something that I have loved as a part of my life. I love putting together looks, I love sharing my inspiration with others, and I actually feel high off of finding a great deal on a designer piece.
When I started Crohnically Blonde I was in not a great place as far as body image or self-esteem. Crohn’s was ripping apart my body (actually pretty literally), I didn’t have control of my weight or how my body looked thanks to the medications I was on, and I honestly was happy to live in my comfiest sweatpants every day. The last thing that crossed my mind was sharing photos of me wearing things for the world to see, drawing attention to this body I had no control over. In the past, I was used to wearing whatever I wanted and not having to forgo trends based on my bloated stomach or weirdly unexplainable weight I was putting on in weird places. Fashion, as much as I loved it, was also the least of my worries at the time.
As an outsider looking in you probably would have no idea that I have struggled so much with this over the past three years. I come to work in my cute LOFT shirts and stretchy Old Navy pants that my friend so sweetly calls my “mom pants” and there is NOTHING WRONG WITH THAT. I have figured out a “uniform” that makes me feel comfortable in my own skin for the most part which is what I wear out to social events. I stopped experimenting with styles and just sticking to safe because that is the way I would feel comfortable and draw the least attention.
This really doesn’t seem like that big of a deal, I know. But to me it really was because I was missing out on something that used to be such a big passion for me. I had come to terms with the fact that I was never going to have my pre Crohn’s body back and I should appreciate that this is what I had to work with. I should appreciate how much my body does to fight and keep it going instead of shaming it for looking “weird” here and there. The thing is, I had PERSONALLY come to terms with this but then I spent hours scrolling through Instagram comparing myself to every girl to post and outfit photo and sending myself into a panic that I could NEVER put myself in THIS body out there like that.
I know, again, to some people this may seem ridiculous. To me it is not. At this point I’m in eating disorder recovery and dealing with a body that does its own thing health wise so I am on every level feeling absolutely out of control. At the same time as much as I hate myself for not looking like and Instagram model, I hate myself for caring and letting that hold me back. I preach authenticity and am all about owning your body especially through the lifetime struggle of ED recovery. I preach these things, empower others to do them, but yet, I am terrified to post a photo of me in an outfit.
As I’ve grown in my blogging journey and participated in more events and photoshoots I have come to realize that I have to stop letting this hold me back. When you break it down I am literally NOT participating in something I am passionate about and that I love because I am scared of… what? Comparison? Judgement? Both not things that I can’t stand to be the reason I shy away from something I enjoy.
So here we are and I will continue to share with you all. I want you to know that behind that outfit photo there is purpose and meaning for me posting it. Not only am I genuinely excited to, again, share my fashion journey but I am also excited to hopefully show someone else that just because you aren’t meeting your ridiculous standard of perfection you should still go for it, put yourself out there, and don’t let it hold you back. I also hope that you all will take away from what I share that to me fashion is about feeling confident in what you are wearing and learning how to dress for your body in a way that works for you and makes you feel great. I’m sharing the real dirty deets on what I am wearing (stretchy jeans and all) because that is what is real and authentically me. So enjoy and I hope this will inspire you to continue on this never ending journey of finding self-confidence with me.
I'm really, really excited that you will be able to keep up with all of my favorite looks via LIKEtoKNOW.it (here!) or download the app! I have been a huge LTKI fan for years so I am thrilled to finally be able to use the platform to share my personal style and finds.
Photo by Jade Nikkole Photography
First off, if you haven't read my post from last week on Sprouts, STOP AND GO NOW.
Seriously, if you live in the Ellicott City/Baltimore/ surrounding area this news is a life changer. Sprouts is opening their first Maryland location in Ellicott City and they have just about everything you could ask for when it comes to catering to dietary restrictions, trying to eat healthy, or just putting delicious food on the table for your family. Oh, and its ALL super cost effective and in one place. Very efficient. I am already a fan.
As if I wasn't already excited enough about Sprouts coming to the area they totally HOOKED IT UP and sent me some delicious (all gluten free) Sprouts brand products to try. Can I just say…. They pretty much read my mind/taste buds/ stalked my Instagram or they are just super lucky and got it right with all of my favorite things. Not only did they send me some tried and try essentials: dijon mustard, almond butter, olive oil cooking spray, honey; but they also sent me some delicious snacks to try that were right up my alley.
A few of my favorites were:
Chocolate Coconut Rolls - They're a great gluten free sweet treat that’s light and easy to pack as a snack for work or on the go. I also am a real big coconut advocate so that played a lot into my love for these.
Organic Popcorn with Himalayan Sea Salt and Coconut Oil- Popcorn is one of those things that once I start eating I literally cannot stop. Like it is a problem. Its one of my favorite snacks and sometimes the only way to keep myself awake during a movie. Not kidding with that one. This stuff actually has a movie theater popcorn taste without all of the butter and stomach aches.
Organic Ghost Pepper Salsa- I love spicy things, I love Mexican food. I love salsa of any and all types. When I was in Key West years ago I insisted on going to a hot sauce tasting so I could try ghost pepper sauce. Very spicy. And I loved it. This salsa is probably one of the best salsas I have tasted and definitely the best one I've had not in a restaurant. It isn't so spicy that it burns your mouth but it has a great kick at the end that. I cannot wait to try this on taco salads to add some heat and I will most definitely be serving this at my next game night.
On top of the staples and yummy new snacks they sent me some of the Sprouts body wash and hand soap to try. They are both lavender scented which is super calming. Both are non drying and even my husband approved.
This last product is a MUST HAVE in my household. I literally use it for everything so when I got a new jar I danced around my kitchen. Seriously. COCONUT OIL. Not only do I use it every time I cook, I also use it as part of my daily beauty routine. This is a whole other post in and of itself but I use it for wiping off my makeup, moisturizing my skin, and cleaning/moisturizing my lash extensions. I always like to have a jar in the kitchen and on my makeup table 24/7. This needs to be your first purchase when you walk into Sprouts if you aren't on the coconut oil train yet. Then the Ghost Pepper Salsa….
Let me go on the record here and say, you will find no shortage of Sprouts Brand products (there are over 2,000 different kinds) and they are always adding new items to try. The best part is they have a ton of options that are natural and organic, as well as gluten free, vegan, and non- GMO.
As I experiment more with these products I will share some more of my favorites and recipes but for now you can find recipes and tips at SproutsBrand.com.
So I know I started this post talking about how not only great but also affordable Sprouts is. I have got you covered on even more deals so you have literally no excuse not to try all of the deliciousness that they have to offer.
First off, the Grand Opening deals at Sprouts Ellicott City are going to be out of control. On March 14th (opening day) the first 200 shoppers to checkout will receive 20% off of their total purchase, every 15th shopper will receive a coupon book, plus there will be samples and free reusable bag available to all shoppers!
If you can't make it in for the Grand Opening you still have time to save during the opening weekend. On Saturday (3/17) the first 200 customers to checkout will receive coupons for five free deli items. On Sunday (3/18) upon checkout, every 15th customer will receive $5 off their next purchase of $15 or more.
The Grand Opening isn't the only time you can save, which I am super thankful for since I probably will be there at least twice a week. More than a third of the store is rumored to be on promotion at any given time so you are already set up for budget success.
Three of the ways that I will be keeping up with promotions are:
Sprouts Mobile App - With the app you can clip coupons on your phone and easily scan your custom barcode during checkout to apply them.
Deals of the Month- You can access this flyer easily online. It highlights all of the 2,000 plus products that are on sale so you can proactively plan your grocery list/ meals for the week based on what deals are going on before you get to the store!
Weekly E-Circular- You can subscribe to this online to hear about the weekly deals and sign up for the eNewsletter to be the first to hear about special sales and promotions going on at the Ellicott City location.
If were being honest, usually specialty food stores are not cost effective so the fact that Sprouts actually focuses on providing these great savings is so refreshing. No matter what your budget is, everyone deserves to be able to eat good quality food that promotes a healthy lifestyle.
I am so excited for Sprouts to open in my area so I can continue trying their products and sharing my favorite finds with ya'll. I also have the pleasure of checking out the new location for their Grand Opening Party next week so I will be sharing all of the details and giving you the inside scoop.
If you are in an area where you are lucky enough to already have a Sprouts, let me know all of your favorite things and things I should try. If not, let me know which of the products I mentioned you are looking forward to trying.
Blonde babe. Maryland native. Crohn's crushing puppy mother to two sweet rescues.
Welcome to my unfiltered commentary on crushing chronic illness in your 20's and everything that goes along with that.