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Why you may be getting bloated after a healthy, “clean” meal….

I’m still bloated, and I have cut out dairy, gluten, wheat and refined sugar… now what?” Words I hear often. There are so many things at play when it comes to our complicated but wonderful digestive system. I recommend keeping a symptoms diary for at least two weeks if bloating is a serious concern, noting what you eat and when you become bloated (take strict note of the time between food consumption and onset of symptoms). This is important to not only identify what triggers you, but which part of the gastrointestinal tract (GIT) requires attention. You will likely need to provide this information to a qualified nutritionist or naturopath to really understand your digestive issues. However, first, take the below points into consideration and give a few of the tips a go! You might surprise yourself with how easy it is to fix up those bloating woes with just a few simple tweaks 🙂

  1. You might be eating too fast and not be chewing enough – there are no more teeth past the mouth! We must chew, chew, chew to not only break down our food so it can fit through our GIT, but also to wake up those ever important digestive enzymes that actually begin digestion. Without these in full swing, bloating is guaranteed. It goes without saying (but I’ll say it anyway ;)) that this also causes over-eating, another common contributing factor to bloating, discussed below. Tips: Always sit down for your meal/snack and set a timer on your phone for 20 minutes, this is how long you should be eating for! Aim to chew each mouthful 10-20 times. Place knife and fork down between bites. Try to drink water away from meals not with meals, again, so as not to dilute those critical digestive enzymes.

  1. You might be stressed or distracted – when we are distracted or emotionally strained, the digestive system is not at full capacity. This is because it is busy doing other things that seem more pressing at the time. This is also a scenario where you are likely to over-eat and under-chew. Use the tips from above to really slow down and focus on the delicious, abundant, nutritious plate in front of you, and put away your phone! If stress is an issue, take several deep belly breaths before commencing your meal, and channel your energy into honing in on the senses – the sight, smell and taste of your food!

  1. Your stomach acid might be low – whilst we wont our bodies (blood) to be nice and alkaline, our stomach requires a different pH that is actually acidic. Contrary to popular belief, indigestion is usually the result of inadequate stomach acid (hydrochloric acid – HCI), not high! The reason you may experience a burning sensation is because the stomach is sending the food back up as it cannot digest it, bringing with it some of that HCI which whilst not acidic enough, is still acidic when compared to other areas of the body. Interestingly, low stomach acid might not only cause bloating, but also, more acidic blood (not a good thing!). Tips: To increase HCI consume things like lemon water first thing in the morning, and incorporate fermented foods such as saurkraut/kimchi, kefir, unpasturised miso etc. A shot of apple cider vinegar or mixing it in water 15 mins prior to meals should also do the trick!

  1. You have difficulty digesting fats – fats can take a long time to digest. Couple that, with a “sluggish” liver, which is crucial in processing fatty foods (bile production), and you have a recipe for tummy trouble. If your stools are particularly “greasy”, this be indicated. Tips: Try nurturing your liver through consuming things like bitter greens (dandelion leaves, rocket, endive, radicchio) apple cider vinegar and cooked cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, kale, brussels sprouts). You could drink some liver-loving teas like dandelion root/leaves, milk thistle or nettle, and drink warm lemon water each morning. Avoid excessive alcohol and caffeine, deep-fried food, processed food, artificial sweeteners/flavours and unnecessary medication/supplements.

  1. Portion distortion – perhaps your simply eating too much. Excess food consumption can definitely lead to discomfort, especially if you are eating a variety of foods which require different digestive enzymes to break down (this is a theory, but there is some evidence to suggest this can cause a “traffic jam” in the GIT. Look into “Food Combining” if interested). Tips: You could follow some food combining rules here. One I like to follow is consuming fruit mostly alone, or at least first thing in the morning. Alternatively, smaller meals, more frequently, could help some people really sensitive to larger portions. Eating slowly so you register when you are indeed full is a simple but effective tip. Again, consuming liquids away from meals, particularly large ones, is helpful.

  1. You might have an intolerance to something else, or aren’t reading labels correctly and are accidentally consuming some of the usual culprits – consider allergy/intolerance testing, consulting with a healthcare practitioner.

Why I skip/skimp on Oil + 7 simple Salad Dressings

The biggest misconception about salads is that they are always, always healthy. Well, this isn’t always the case. They are certainly a step in the right direction, if they actually include greens in them – I have seen white pasta/cous-cous/rice lathered in dairy with a few minuscule herbs or potatoes thrown in, being dubbed a salad. Not exactly!

An area so many of us get lost in is salad dressings. Firstly, because the store-bought or cafe-ordered ones are usually overrun by oils of varying quality, excessive sugar, preservatives, artificial ingredients etc. which can turn your otherwise healthy meal on its head. And secondly, I believe, we are all looking to oil as they key ingredient.

So, why am I not such a big fan of oil? Yes, even the extra-virgin, organic, cold-pressed type…

Well put simply, oil is not a whole-food. It is the fatty part, extracted from what was once a whole food – the olive, the macadamia nut, the coconut etc. Thus, it is processed. It is also extremely energy dense. All the other nutrients from the plant have been thrown away – protein, carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals, fibre, and water – leaving nothing but energy-dense, fat. Wholefoods are usually buffered by fibre and water, to naturally portion control for us, but extracted foods like oil, are not. And with all that density, there really is little nutrition – as mentioned, a lot of it is discarded, and what remains is omega-3 fatty acids, valuable, but not necessary if you consume a healthy, wholefood diet which naturally contains it anyway. So whilst I believe in consuming healthy fats for our cardiovascular health, brain, skin, mood, immune system etc. I just see oil as excessive and unnecessary, and often the missing piece to the puzzle when someone is struggling to loose weight but is following an otherwise healthy, wholefood diet.

As Dr McDougall describes:

“…there are adverse effects from consuming free oils, when added from a bottle to meals or taken as pills.  The most obvious adverse effect is people gain weight when they eat even so-called “healthy oils,” like olive oil. When 54 obese women in a Mediterranean country were studied, these women were found to be following a diet low in carbohydrates (35% of the calories) and high in fats (43% of the calories).  Of the total calories from fat, 55% came from olive oil.   My point: a Mediterranean diet which is loaded with olive oil, rather than fruits and vegetables, will make you fat… the heart benefits of a Mediterranean diet are due to it being a nearly vegetarian diet… Avoiding free vegetable oils is the last important hurdle for people seeking better health…

As such, I much prefer perfectly packaged, wholefood healthy fat options like nuts, seeds and avocados. They are far tastier too! When it comes to cooking, I use a light spray, 1/4 tsp, or simply a splash of water or tamari.

So, when making salad dressings, I prefer to skip or skimp on the oil, and favour delicious, wholefood ingredients. Here are some easy concoctions you can shake together in a jar, no fancy equipment required. Plain and simple, but tasty as ever!

Miso Tamari: 1/2 lemon or lime (juiced), 1 tbsp Apple Cider Vinegar, 1 tbsp tamari, 1 tsp unpasturised miso paste, 1 tsp sesame oil (optional), pinch of chili flakes (optional);

Lemon Dijon: 1 lemon (juiced), 1 tbsp Dijon mustard, 1 tbsp Apple Cider Vinegar, 1 tsp extra virgin olive oil or maple syrup (optional), cracked black pepper;

Lemon Tahini: 1 lemon (juiced), 1 tbsp tahini, 1 tbsp ACV, splash or two of filtered water, ground pepper, 1/2 tsp cumin or turmeric (optional);

Nutritious Creamy Citrus: 1 lemon (juiced), 2 tbsp nutritional yeast, 1 tbsp ACV, 1 tsp dulse, a pinch of chili or cayenne (optional);

Passion-fruit Lime: 2 passion-fruits, 1 lime (juiced), 1/2 tsp maple syrup, 1/2 tsp dijon mustard;

Apple Almond: 1/4 cup unsweetened apple sauce, 3 tbsp ACV, 1 level tbsp almond butter, 1 tsp maple syrup (optional), pinch cinnamon.

Miso Tahini: 1 lemon (juiced), 1/3 cup warm water, 3 tbsp tahini, 1 tbsp unpasturised miso paste, 1 tsp tamari.

IMG_1429

Key ingredients to have on hand: dijon mustard (look for ones with no added sugar or preservatives), Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV), lemons, limes, passionfruits, unpasturised miso paste, nutritional yeast, dulse flakes, tahini, almond butter, unsweetened apple sauce, tamari, maple syrup, herbs and spices.

 

DIY: KOMBUCHA

Hi guys!

I thought I would share with you how I make my Kombucha at home. I’m always snap-chatting it away as I brew a new batch (showing you my many SCOBY’s), and have received a few questions regarding my process. What’s interesting about my DIY Buch is that I actually grew my SCOBY myself 🙂 But let’s backtrack for a min, because I am sure some of you are looking at me through the screen like “SCOBY?” “KOMBUCHA?!”…. so first things first….

Kombucha is made from sweetened fermented tea and has a well-known and impressive list of health benefits. Most of these are centered around it’s probiotic effect on gut health. Probiotics (meaning “for life”) promote the growth of friendly bacteria in your gut, critical for good digestion, nutrient absorption, disease prevention and even mood stability. You can take actual probiotic capsules daily, however it is also of benefit to consume probiotic-rich foods. These are generally fermented e.g. kombucha, kefir, saurkraut, kim chi, miso etc.

Ok, so now let’s clear up some misconceptions about Kombucha that might have people red-flagging it:

THE SUGAR:

If you have followed me for a while now, you know that I’m virtually sugar-free, particularly I avoid refined sugar. However the sugar that kombucha calls for is actually consumed by the SCOBY during fermentation. Yes… it needs food too! Unfortunately, there is no sugar-free way around this, so save your stevia/xylitol for baking and just accept that you are not actually consuming 1 cup of pure sugar! I have found that raw sugar tastes the best, but white, brown, cane and apparently coconut sugar also work. The taste will vary.

THE CAFFEINE:

You do need to use a tea that contains some caffeine, hence why herbal teas won’t work. But don’t worry, as with the sugar, the caffeine is, for the most part, transformed during the fermentation process.

THE SCOBY: (look at the tea-toweled covered jar in my pic- See that thing floating toward the middle? There it is!)

I get it, a “Symbiotic Culture of Bacteria and Yeast” sounds and looks less than desirable, but you need to understand that this is where all the goodness comes from. I’m not asking you to slice it all up and toss it in a salad, which some people do by the way, but just know that it serves a purpose and don’t let it scare you off the good stuff. The SCOBY also multiplies pretty much every time you brew a new batch! So you will have a clean new one each week or so, and you can either let it layer upon layer, or throw out a few of the old ones as you go.

THE ALCOHOL:

Kombucha does contain a little alcohol, due to the fermentation process, it is uslaly less than 1%.

THE FIZZ:

During fermentation, kombucha becomes naturally carbonated, giving it a little fizz. You can take this a step further with a second ferment, which I explain below. Note, it is unlikely going to taste as fizzy as the store-bought varieties, as some of them actually do carbonate their bottles of ‘buch.

THE FLOATIES:

It’s OK to consume the “floaties” in your brew!! These are little bits of the SCOBY floating around, offering you the healthful benefits that comes with Kombucha. I admit, big ones are a bit of a shock, but for the most part, you don’t even notice the little guys 🙂

 

I first fell in love with Kombucha in the USA, where they had a fabulous, low-sugar brand called GT’ Kombucha. It proved really hard for me to find a brand I liked back home in Australia, which motivated me to start researching how to DIY it.

I first tried using the SCOBY from a friend, which was a baby one from the original SCOBY she received from another friend. You see, SCOBY’s are either passed down between kombucha lovers, or sold online (BUT! I have a better way, see below). Anyway, that first batch wasn’t my cup of tea 😉 so I almost gave up. When I finally found a brand in Sydney that I liked (Tonicka, for all you Sydney-siders wondering), I decided to try to grow my own from it. Let me explain how!

What you’ll need:

Step 1 – Create the SCOBY

Tools & Ingredients:

  • 1 cup store-bought ORIGINAL Kombucha (best if organic, best if you have tried it and liked the taste, and will not work if flavoured);
  • 1 medium jar
  • 1 tea towel
  • 1 elastic band

Method:

Simply consume the kombucha, leaving just 1 cup liquid. Place that cup of liquid into a jar, cover it with a tea towel and secure with elastic band, and leave in a shaded part of your kitchen for approximately one month.

By the one month mark, the “floaties” all band together, feed off the kombucha and form a unified thin “film” at the top of the jar. This is your SCOBY!

Step 2 – Brew

Tools & Ingredients:

  • Your SCOBY
  • Kettle
  • 1 LARGE bowl
  • 1 LARGE jar (3-4L)
  • Plastic (not metal) tongs, the SCOBY doesn’t like metal
  • Tea towel
  • Elastic band
  • 8 organic tea bags – I prefer Green Tea
  • 1 cup organic sugar – I prefer raw sugar
  • 1 cup store-bought ORIGINAL Kombucha 

Method:

Boil the kettle with around 3-3.5L of water, depending on how much your kettle holds. I do two batches of 1.7L, making the total 3.4L.

Place the sugar and tea bags in your large bowl.

Pour boiling water over the tea and sugar and allow the bowl to stand overnight or for at least several hours, until cooled to room temperature.

Remove tea bags.

Pour sweetened tea into your large jar.

Use tongs to place your newly formed SCOBY into the jar, and 1 cup of store-bought kombucha.

Cover with a tea towel, secure with an elastic band, and let it sit on you kitchen bench out of direct sunlight for 7-10 days (I taste-test to determine this length, for me I like the 8-9 day mark).

Step 3 – Second ferment:

Tools & Ingredients:

  • Plastic (not metal) tongs, the SCOBY doesn’t like metal
  • 3 Glass “milk” bottles
  • Funnel
  • Flavour additions – lemon, ginger, turmeric, berries, mint

Method:

Remove the SCOBY with the plastic tongs and place it into a ceramic bowl (note, NO metal).

Place the funnel into one of the milk bottles, and pour the brew into the milk bottle until about 3/4 full. Seal with the milk bottle lid, and set aside.

Repeat process until almost all the brew is gone and your bottles are ¾ full each. Note, leave at least 1 cup of brew for your next batch.

This is the step you could add some flavour, and then strain/remove the flavours before putting in the fridge.

Repeat Step 2 and brew a second batch with 1 cup from previous batch, tea and sugar, allowing to cool before transferring to the SCOBY jar, where it ferments for the next week etc. etc.

Keep your milk bottles on the kitchen batch for a further 2-3 days for the second ferment.

Place in the fridge when ready, and consume as you like.

I hope this was helpful and it has inspired you to make your own buch! If your SCOBY starts to look a little funky, it might mean the environment around it has changed. Bare in mind that changes can often be fine, so I would just google it and see if someone has experienced a similar situation. Also, if you are new, I would start slow- no need to go drinking a full bottle daily! I like to have it in my fridge regularly for a sweet alternative to soda and a refreshing alternative to tea. I have a few sips here and there, and go through phases of having 1 cup every other day.

Brew & enjoy!

Sami xx

 

 

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