BPA free is good, right? No it isn’t…

A couple of years ago I replaced all plastic bottles by BPA-free ones. I had heard that BPA is estrogenic, can disrupt your hormones and make you gain weight – yikes! So I thought BPA free plastic bottles were a safe option. Right? No they’re probably not…

BPA stands for bisphenol-A and is a synthetic compound you will find in many plastics, as well as in the lining of canned food containers.

It exhibits what is called ‘estrogenic activity’ which means that it can disrupt the beautiful and intricate system of your hormones.

When more people became aware of this, the industry had to shift. And voilá: the BPA free plastic was born.

But alas, it turns out that bisphenol-A isn’t the only bisphenol in the family. Many manufacturers simply swapped one bisphenol for another and started using BPS or BPF. So BPA free plastic is not a safe option!

Now even small concentrations of BPS and BPF disrupt the function of your cells in a way similar to BPA. So, BPA-free bottles are not the solution. And not many people are aware of this and that’s tricky… Because when something says it’s ‘free’ we think it’s safe… and it’s not!

On top of that: BPA is still around: in for instance

  • Items packaged in plastic containers
  • Canned foods
  • Personal care products
  • Feminine hygiene products
  • Thermal printer receipts
  • CDs and DVDs
  • Household electronics
  • Eyeglass lenses
  • Sports equipment
  • Dental filling sealants
So what can you do?
Glass storage containers are safe than BPA free ones

Although eradicating Bisphenol completely may be impossible, there are some effective ways to reduce your exposure:

  • Avoid packaged foods: Eat mostly fresh, whole foods. Stay away from canned foods or foods packaged in plastic containers labeled with recycling numbers 3 or 7 or the letters “PC.” Make your own hummus from dried chickpeas in stead of a can!
  • Drink from glass or steel bottles: Buy liquids that come in glass bottles instead of plastic bottles or cans, and use glass baby bottles instead of plastic ones. Now all our water bottles AND my water filter are made from steel!
  • Stay away from BPA products: as much as possible, limit your contact with receipts, as these contain high levels of BPA.
  • Be selective with toys: Make sure that plastic toys you buy for your children are made from BPA-free material — especially for toys your little ones are likely to chew or suck on.
  • Don’t heat or microwave plastic: Microwave and store food in glass rather than plastic.
  • Buy powdered infant formula: Some experts recommend powders over liquids from BPA containers, as liquid is likely to absorb more BPA from the container.

Simple things to try first if you have bloating

Do you experience bloating? Do you feel full and heavy after eating? Have people asked you if you were pregnant (and you weren’t…) ? Would you love to get rid of the bloat?

If you have bloating, don’t immediately jump to medication, testing, supplements or restricting your diet.

There are some simple, obvious and often overlooked things you can do first if you want to get rid of bloating!

Get cooking

Did you know that something simple like cooking your own meals could actually help your digestion?

When your kitchen starts filling up with lovely aromas, your brain starts alerting your digestion that food is coming soon. It will send a message to your salivary glands, stomach, liver and pancreas to start producing all the digestive juices needed for proper break down and absorption.

Do you find cooking too time consuming and overwhelming? Have a look here for some really practical tips!

Sit down for a meal – without Netflix!

If you’re in a calm state your nervous system is in the parasympathetic state. You are in ‘rest and digest’ mode. Your body knows everything is safe, relaxes and focuses on sending more blood to your digestive organs.

However, when you are stressed, your body acts as if there’s danger. You think there’s no danger? It can’t differentiate between what you see on the news on tv and running for a tiger!

So even when you watch the news, play a competitive game or have a difficult conversation when you’re eating: your body immediately turns the switch to the sympathetic state. It sends more blood to your muscles, heart and lungs because you need to be able to jump up and run away. In dangerous situations it doesn’t make sense to focus on digestion.

Chew, chew, chew…

Chew your food

Are you someone who chews a few times and then swallows? Are you a fast eater?

Sadly enough, there are no teeth in your stomach. That means half digested food travels to the intestine – hello bloat!

So taking small bites, not eating in a rush and taking time to chew until liquid will help you to get rid of bloating

Try it out and let me know if it helps!

If it doesn’t help, schedule a free call to see if I can help you. Bloating is not just uncomfortable, it’s a red flag.

10 minute gut healing jam

I used to make tons of jam from the berries in my garden. I had a recipe that used only half the sugar. But that’s still a lot of sugar. So I stopped doing that. And was looking for a way to make jam without a lot of sugar.

Now I make small batches with any kind of fruit available and use chia seeds to thicken it into a delicious jam. And this jam actually helps to keep your gut functioning well.

Berries are just great. They are loaded with anti-oxidants, have a good amount of plant nutrients, minerals and fiber and they help fight inflammation. Plus: the beneficial bacteria in your gut thrive on them.

More fiber, less sugar

Chia seeds also pack a nutritional punch. Almost all their carbs are fiber, they have a decent amount of protein ánd are high in Omega 3 fatty acids. I have not tried this yet but I think you could use the cheaper linseeds as well. They are just as amazing. I do think you need to use them freshly ground, so not whole.

I really love making this make jam without a lot of sugar!

Are you looking for more recipes? I post a weekly recipe on my blog.

Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups of berries, any kind. They can be fresh or frozen
  • 2 tbps of chia seeds
  • 1-2 tbsp of unrefined sweetener (maple syrup or raw honey work well)
  • 1 tbsp of freshly squeezed lemon (optional, depending on the tartness of the fruit)

How to do it:

  1. Heat fruit in a small saucepan over medium heat, stirring until the fruit is heated through and begins to break down and bubble. 
  2. Use a spoon or potato masher to mash the fruit to your desired consistency.
  3. Stir in the chia seeds and lemon juice. 
  4. Now add your sweetener to taste – but in moderation. Start with 1 tablespoon.
  5. Remove from heat and let cool for a bit. The jam will get thicker!
  6. Give the jam another good stir.  Then serve or transfer to a jar
  7. It keeps for up to 1 week in the fridge or , up to 3 months in the freezer.

Are oats gluten free? Yes and no…

I noticed in my practice that there is some confusion about gluten free grains. Many people think that oats are gluten free. And that gluten free oats are more processed than normal oats. So let’s look into the question: are oats gluten free?

One of the first things I advise clients with digestive issues is to eliminate gluten. And many of them start feeling a lot better! But it can be confusing. And hard. Because the rest of the world eats gluten, gluten is in almost every processed food and gluten containing foods are a big part of our social life. Think birthday cake, tea and biscuits and beer…

So are oats gluten free or not?

Well, technically oats are a gluten free grain. But they are usually grown in fields where they grow oats and glutenous grains (like wheat, rye and barley) in rotation. Which means that when there are still wheat kernels on the field from last year, they will grow wheat plants between the oats. So the oat harvest will probably have quite a bit of wheat in it as well.

Then when the oats are processed in a factory, guess what else gets processed there? Loads of wheat.

So oats in themselves are gluten free but are contaminated with (mostly) wheat. Oats that are marked ‘gluten free’ are the same oats, but they are grown in fields where they don’t grow gluten containing grain and processed away from wheat.

So yay! You can still have your porridge in the morning if you’re following a gluten free protocol. As long as it explicitly says they are gluten free. The same for oatcakes, oat biscuits, oat bars etc. Want to make your own oat bars? Here’s a recipe!

Which is great because oats are a very nutritious grain. They’re a good source of fiber, trace minerals and even plant-based protein. Eating gluten-free oatmeal regularly is a good way to obtain B vitamins, iron, magnesium and selenium.

If you want to know more about how to shop safely for gluten free, have a look at my blog about 9 Tips for Gluten Free Shopping

Oat and banana (or pumpkin. or sweet potato) bars

Going gluten free meant we had to re-think our snacks. My husband Hugo works as a handyman and gets hungry very easily. If he doesn’t have a good snack on him he will grab something that doesn’t work for him and suffer later.

Oat and banana bars

These bars are free from gluten, dairy and refined sugar and easy to make. We love them and usually make a double batch because they tend to disappear quickly.

We make them with bananas, but they work with steamed or roasted squash or sweet potato as well.

Here’s the recipe:

Ingredients:
. 2 cups of (gluten free) oats
. 2 tbsp ground linseed
. 1½ tsp cinnamon
. ½ tsp ginger powder
. ¼ tsp grated nutmeg
. 1 tsp ground fennel
. ¼ tsp salt
. 2 mashed ripe bananas (or 1 cup of steamed or roasted and then pureed pumpkin or squash)
. ½ cup almond butter
. 1 tbsp coconut oil, melted
. 8 pitted medjoul dates
. 1 tsp vanilla extract
. 10 drops liquid stevia or 2 tbsp coconut sugar or date syrup, optional
. ½ cup raisins
. ½ cup walnuts (optional but very nice)

Oat and banana bars 2
How to do it:
. Cover the dates with hot water and let them soak for 10 minutes
. Mix the dry ingredients in a bowl (oats, linseed, spices, salt, raisins, nuts)
. Blend the wet ingredients with a fork or use a stick blender: (dates, water, bananas, almond butter, vanilla extract, coconut oil)
. Line a 20-20 cm square tray with baking paper and spread evenly
. Bake for 20 – 30 minutes on 180 degrees C
. Cut and cool on a cooling rack

Enjoy as a nutritious snack!

9 tips for gluten-free shopping


Have you seen the gluten free shelves in the supermarket expanding? Many people are aware of their gluten sensitivity or even have coeliac disease. And the gluten-free food industry is eagerly stepping in. Which doesn’t mean that gluten free products are necessarily healthy: they’re almost always highly processed and contain lots of sugar, soy and processed oils.

So what to do if you want or need to go an a healthy gluten free diet? Here are some tips to help you transition:

  1. Shop on the outside aisles of your supermarket. That’s where the healthy foods are usually located. So stock up on organic fruits and vegetables, lean meats and eggs among others.
  2. Read labels!  When you buy packaged foods, it’s important to understand what they contain.  Foods that include wheat, rye, spelt, barley, or kamut contain gluten. Also, look for words like “spices,” “flavoring,” “modified food starch,” “maltodextrin,” “glucose syrup,” and “citric acid.” These can all contain gluten.  Be sure to read the ingredients list and also the “contains” section of food labels.
  3. These are the grains you can eat: quinoa, teff, buckwheat, brown rice, millet and amaranth. If you want to try oats, look for the gluten free ones. They’re not more processed than the regular ones, just grown and rolled in a safe way.
  4. ‘Gluten-free’ doesn’t necessarily mean ‘healthy‘. Especially stay away from gluten-free cakes, sweets and biscuits. They contain often loads of sugar and processed flours and are low in nutrients.
  5. Don’t buy any ready-made sauces and dressings. Make your own so you make sure they are healthy and without any gluten, sugar or processed ingredients.
  6. Go back to the kitchen and prepare your own meals. Chopping your veg and preparing your meal is a great way to unwind from a busy day. And it’s a lot cheaper as well!
  7. Find some great websites and blogs. Cooking healthy and delicious meals is so much easier now with all the inspiration you can find online. I love the Deliciouslyella blog. Her recipes are also dairy and refined sugar free. Mynewroots  is another great and very creative one. And if you love baking and sweet treats, have a look at Livia’s kitchen. Start with two or three easy meals at first.  Once you feel comfortable, move of to more challenging or time-consuming recipes.
  8. Get prepping. Make a big pot of soup and freeze it in portions. Make a batch of your favorite snacks with a friend. So that when you’re tired or uninspired you won’t be reaching for the not-so-good stuff. You’ll find more ideas in my free Healthy Eating on the Go guide.
  9. Know which alcohol to avoid. Gluten-free alcohol includes cider, wine, sherry, spirits, port and liqueurs, but remember that beer, lagers, stouts and ales contain varying amounts of gluten.

Over to you! What are your top tips for going gluten free?