Elimination Diets and Food Sensitivities

Hi there! Recently in one of my Institute of Integrative Nutrition course we covered autoimmune disorders and food sensitivities. There is scientific studies that have closely linked certain foods and food sensitivities to autoimmune disorders. The main culprits were listed as gluten, dairy, eggs, soy, and corn. My course explained that these 5 foods have been known to cause inflammation in the body and increased inflammation can lead to autoimmune disorders.

When i was 15 or 16 I started to have issues with my right eye. It became red, light sensitive, with blurry vision, and pain. All of these symptoms came within 7 days and I was diagnosed with viral pink eye by three different doctors but the medication was not working so my mom demanded we see an eye doctor. The eye doctor took one look and diagnosed me with Uveitis which is medical jargon for inflammation in the eye. Uveitis can be caused three different ways, the first being trauma to the eyes, the second being an autoimmune disorder, and the third is simply unidentified causes. At that time I revealed I took at least 4 advil a day to help with my back pain that we had assumed had come from carrying my backpack around all day. At that point the eye doctor took more blood tests and it was revealed that I had a gene that is linked to the autoimmune system so I was referred to a rheumatologist. At that appointment I was fine but the next day I woke up and could not walk because my ankles had swollen the size of lacrosse or tennis balls. When we called the doctor she diagnosed me with juvenile arthritis. From there I was placed on multiple medications to suppress my immune system which I am still on today. It was supposed to be around a 7 year journey to get better and off the medications but we have hit the 7 year mark and we are just now slowly getting off the medications. This background is the reason I found the food sensitivities and inflammation lecture so fascinating.

The lecture suggested people try an elimination diet where you cut out all 5 of the foods for three weeks and then slowly re-incorporate them back into your diet one at a time. I thought that would not be too difficult and I eat a lot of soy and gluten products so I would be interested to know if I feel better without them. I made a mock meal plan and am now in the middle of the second week of the elimination diet. I honestly did not think it would be this hard. I really want tacos for some reason and it has taken all my strength not to break. However, I am hopeful to see how it works out. I will also post the meals that I had eaten during the elimination diet at one point.

Have you guys ever completed an elimination diet or found out you have a food sensitivity? Let me know in the comments below.


Life Update

Hey guys! I just wanted to write this post to apologize. I had plans for this blog and I have not followed through on them. Recently, I have not been posting and the things that I have posted have not been up to my standard. Therefore, I want to apologize for not following through on my commitment to this blog. I am going to start posting again and spend more time on writing content that I approve of. I still want to explore food, fitness, and wellness. I also want to be more transparent about my life and my fitness journey so far. I appreciate all of your understanding as I figure out the best way to run this blog.




Wellness Wednesday: Tech Detox

Good Morning! Today’s post will be a wrap up about a wellness challenge I completed over the last 30 days. I stumbled upon the audiobook, How to Break Up with Your Phone: The 30 Day Plan to Take Back Your Life by Catherine Price. In this audiobook, it talks about the side effects of technology use and the recent discovery of how addicting technology has become. I really enjoyed this book because it literally gave you a task each day that was a step to break away from technology. It is aimed towards phones but I also used it as a way to spend less time on screens in general.

At first I did not think I had a problem with technology but the second she said we would be deleting social media apps from our phones I immediately in my mind denied I had a problem and became worked up about deleting social media apps.  Throughout the 30 days we were assigned small tasks to work on throughout the day and the following weeks such as tracking your phone usage with an app and then comparing the results to how much you thought you used your phone. Another thing we did was rearrange the way our apps were shown on our screen so that only useful apps appeared and you had to go looking for apps that made you lose track of time or start scrolling mindlessly. All of these tasks were leading up to taking a 24-48 hour break from all types of screens. I chose to do a 24 hour period from a Friday evening to Sunday Morning. During which time I cleaned and organized a large portion of my apartment and then spent the rest of my time enjoying the Harry Potter series.

Throughout this process of slowly “breaking up” with technology I have come to appreciate the simple things. For instance, I love reading books and I used to spend a full day of doing nothing but binge reading a good series. Then I went to college during the height of Netflix and Hulu binging and I do not think I read a single book for pleasure. Simply because I would instantly turn to technology to amuse myself. It also made me realize that if I want to truly make changes towards a more balanced, healthy lifestyle I need to stop relying on technology for so much and start paying attention to the world around me. I enjoyed spending time away from technology so I have a goal to take 24 hours off of all technology, minus phone calls, each week or at the very least every other week. It was fun to think of all the different things I could do with my time that I never seem to have time for because I spend all of my time at work on the computer and then at home on the computer and in between that time or during my “breaks” I would be on my phone.

Overall, I realized I definitely had a problem and am still working on expanding my hobbies and my entertainment to things outside of technology related activities. I would recommend you try a technology detox or at the very least download an app that tracks your usage in the background so you can get an accurate idea of how much time you spend on your phone, it may surprise you. Comment below how much time you think you spend on your phone or computer not related to a job.


Munchie Monday: April Recipe Test

This month my coworkers picked two recipes for me from a random cookbook I own. This month they picked one savory main dish and a dessert. The main dish was the mac n cheese dish from The Vegan Bible. The recipe requires the following ingredients:

  • Elbow noodles
  • Chopped onion
  • Chopped red bell pepper
  • Chopped celery
  • Nutritional yeast
  • Flour
  • Garlic powder
  • Onion powder
  • Dairy free milk
  • Mustard
  • Hot pepper sauce
  • Paprika

Overall, the recipe was super easy to make, probably the easiest vegan mac n cheese I have ever made without processed ingredients. Basically you mix the seasonings with the diary free milk in a saucepan until in thickens into a cheese sauce. You add the cheese sauce to the cooked elbow noodles and mix in the chopped veggies. It tasted really good and creamy but I definitely think I would double the cheese sauce to noodles because I like it saucy. I will say that while it made enough to last a whole week by the end of the week it was not as appetizing. I really did not want to eat it at the end of the week.

The dessert recipe was a chocolate chip banana bread from the Gluten Free Vegan Baking cookbook. It requires the following ingredients:

  • Vegan butter
  • Gluten free flour
  • Baking powder
  • Baking soda
  • Brown sugar
  • Vegan chocolate chips
  • Chopped almonds
  • Ripe bananas
  • Almond milk
  • Canola oil
  • Almond extract

Like most dessert recipes you combine the dry ingredients and then the wet then pour into the pan to cook. It was easy to make but difficult to cook through fully. The outside of the bread was finished cooking fairly quickly while the middle was not. I had to put it back in the oven several times because the middle wasn’t cooked. Even when I thought it was fully cooked when I went to cut it into slices for my coworkers the middle was not done and the rest was falling apart. It ended up being a hot mess, however, it did taste good. If I ever made it again I might try adding a flax egg or something to keep it together more. Overall, it was a good week and I definitely think I could play around more with the mac n cheese to fit my tastes better.

Comment below what cookbooks you love to use?


March Favorites

It’s a little late but here are some of my favorite things from the month of March!

  1. Herbalife Protein Cookie Dough: Towards the end of this month someone came up with the idea of using our Herbalife protein powder to create a mock cookie dough. It is supposed to be a meal replacement but I have found that cutting the recipe in half and having it as a dessert at the end of the night is amazing. It is a healthy substitute for cookies or ice cream and it can be made within a few seconds.
  2. Trader Joe’s: This month I have tried many of Trader Joe’s vegan options such as their vegan queso and soyrizo. I have been obsessed and keep going back to get more and more. I think their vegan options are amazing and most of my meals this month have focused around them.
  3. Harry Potter: This month I have been trying to read as much of the Harry Potter series since my friends said it was necessary. I never read them as a child so my friends insisted it was a must. I have been spending most of my free time reading them and I am more motivated than ever to finish the series after this month.
  4. Netflix Date with Friends: For the month of March, a friend and I have started to have netflix dates where we meet at one of our apartments and watch Gilmore Girls together while eating yummy vegan snacks. It has been a very relaxing way to catch up with each other and I truly hope they continue.
  5. Cat Cuddles: My cat Elle has been very cuddly this month so I have been making it a priority to cuddle with her every morning and every night before bed. It always helps me relax after a stressful day and it helps my cat stay well adjusted to her new location.

Munchie Monday: Electric Cheetah Review

Happy Monday! Today’s Munchie Monday is a restaurant review! A friend and I spent a Saturday hanging out downtown Grand Rapids and wanted to try Electric Cheetah because it is a hyped up restaurant in our area. Nearly every college kid has been there and highly recommends it. We both have dietary restrictions, I am vegan and she is gluten free and mostly diary free. The menu had several gluten free options clearly labeled as well as vegetarian options also labeled. However, there were no clearly labeled vegan options. This was because they did not have a single vegan option on the menu which is strange because their “sister” restaurant has at least 2 vegan options everyday. I examined the menu and found that I could get a vegetarian salad without the cheese and even add tofu for an added price while remaining vegan. I considered doing that as well except for the cost. The salad was $13 as is and to add a small amount of tofu would have cost an additional $6. I typically do not eat salads and I never order them from restaurants because I think if I am going out to eat and spending what I spend for a weeks worth of groceries in one meal it should be something I don’t or can’t make at home. With that said I ended up ordering a side of french fries that was half regular fries and half sweet potato fries. Usually I don’t mind ordering just a side of fries at fast food restaurants but at this point in time I kind of expect sit down restaurants to have at least more than one side that is vegan or can be made vegan. I will state that we did not look up the menu before hand so it is entirely my own fault for not having many options but as this is a review I would have to say I would not go back and I do not think it was worth the prices. Let me know what your favorite restaurant is down below!


Fit Friday: Barre Wrap Up

Good Morning and Happy Friday! We have made it through another month:) This is my wrap up and first impressions from completing one month of Barre classes. I completed all of my classes at a local studio 10 minutes from my apartment called Studio Barre. I attended 4 classes per week in the evenings. I found the classes challenging because the positions feel unnatural and it took all of my focus to remain in the correct form. The movements and positions you do cause your entire body to shake and it feels as though you are going to collapse if you remain in that position any longer. With that said I have enjoyed Barre because it is difficult and you can feel the muscles working but you typically don’t sweat too much.

The community at the studio I attend is wonderful which is the part that I love the most. The instructors know every students names and are so knowledgeable about the body. They always come around and correct your form if you are not doing something exactly right and make suggestions to alter the movements if your are injured or your muscles are straining. The studio also offers workshops every few months to its members to get more detailed instructions on how to keep the correct form. I went to their most recent workshop and it was excellent! I learned so much but it was also the harder then any class I’ve taken so far. My muscles were shaking and sore within the first two minutes. They focused on what you are supposed to do with your muscles without any equipment that way when you add equipment back into it you get the most out of your workout. Overall, I highly recommend checking out a local barre class! The only thing I would be interested in is if there are other formats of barre classes. I even signed up for a monthly membership to keep going! Let me know if you have any recommendations for what fitness classes I should try next.

Since this is a new month it is time for a new fitness challenge! I loved Barre so much that I intend to keep going at least two or three times a week. On top of that I have decided to focus my efforts on training for a 5k this month since I made running several of my yearly goals. In order to afford to keep doing this challenge, I have cancelled my Planet Fitness and Orange Theory memberships. I have almost the whole month of April left at Planet Fitness so I will be using the gym to train for a 5k and since it is getting nicer outside I am hoping to train outside as well. Once those memberships fully expire, I intend to join a local gym that offers unlimited group classes as well in the monthly membership. That way I can use the group classes over the next few months for this challenge. Comment below if you have any suggestions or tips for beginner runners.


Munchie Monday: Taco Salad Recipes

Hi and welcome back to Life in Progress! Recently I made a ridiculously good Taco Salad so i figured i would briefly share how I made it! Below are the ingredients I used.

  • Brown Rice
  • Dried Black Beans
  • Frozen Organic Corn
  • 1 Yellow Onion
  • 1 Head of Romaine Lettuce
  • 1 bag of Spinach
  • Trader Joe’s Soyrizo
  • Trader Joe’s Fiesta Cashew Queso Dip
  • Trader Joe’s Chili Lime Seasoning
  • Cilantro
  • Garlic Powder
  • Onion Powder
  • Salt

Basically, I combined the brown rice, corn, half the onion (chopped), and the seasonings in a rice cooker and cooked those for an hour stirring occasionally. While that cooked I added 1 cup of the dried and rinsed black beans to a pot of boiling water and reduced it to a simmer and covered it. I let that simmer until there was almost no liquid left and then proceeded to season it to my preference and mash the black beans to create homemade refried black beans. While the black beans simmered in a skillet I fried up half of the onion in a splash of olive oil with some minced garlic. Once the onions were almost translucent I added in half of the Trader Joe’s Soyrizo and let it cook through. Once it was cooked through and my rice mixture was finished I through it together and mixed well. I set that aside to cool before storing it in the fridge. While waiting, I rinsed a whole bag of spinach and a head of romaine lettuce. Once rinsed i roughly chopped them and set aside in a bowl for easy access.

I stored everything in separate containers so I could construct the taco salad to my liking each day. I started with about a cup of greens as the base, topped with two spoonfuls of the rice and soyrizo mixture. Then I finished it off with a small scoop of the homemade black beans and Trader Joe’s Fiesta Cashew Queso Dip. I would heat it in the microwave at work for about a minute and then throughly stir to combined all the ingredients. This meal was so good I could eat it for an entire additional week if I had more. The only downside I would say is that the homemade refried black beans took all day to simmer down and that was after they had been soaked overnight in water. I will definitely be making this recipe again, maybe even adding more veggies to it. I figured I would share since it was quick, easy, and healthy. Let me know if you’ve ever made taco salad and how it differs from mine!


Superfood Review

Hello and Welcome to Wellness Wednesday! Today I will be reviewing a superfoods blend I recently purchased to increase my overall health. I decided to try the Amazing Grass Green Superfood blend. It comes in a powder that is supposed to last for 30 days. You add one scoop to water, juice or smoothie once a day. I chose the Green Superfood blend mainly because it contained spirulina, chlorella, maca, and a pre and probiotic as well as many other superfoods. I was specifically looking for spirulina, which is a form of bacteria that is high in nutrients and supports immune health. Chlorella is a form of green algae that is known to clear out toxins from your body. I also wanted a pre and probiotic to support gut health. This particular blend had all that and more. I decided to try the berry flavor thinking it would mesh well with smoothies if need be. I have been taking the blend every morning for the past 2 weeks and it is disgusting. It comes out a swampy green color and does not dissolve well. It has a faint taste of berries but mostly just burns my throat. I have resorted to mixing in some crystal light so I can actually drink it. I have tried it in a smoothie once or twice which did help conceal the flavor but not completely. There was still an undertone of ick that I cannot identify. I have noticed that my gut health might be improving because TMI ALERT I have been going to the bathroom more regularly. Overall, I think it is working but it tastes disgusting so I would maybe try it in different flavors.


Fit Friday: Barre Update

Hello and Happy Friday! Today’s post is going to be an update on my experience taking barre classes. I signed up for Barre classes at a local studio called Studio Barre when they were running a special. It was a 3-week new member unlimited class membership for $59 plus the cost of grip socks. I signed up in person and they were super helpful about talking me through all the options and asking me what my goals are. They even have a cute boutique in the lobby of the studio as well with workout gear including grip socks which is where I got mine.

I started taking classes that weekend and I definitely felt out of place my first class. I was lucky and there was another new student in class the same day so we shared the feeling of awkwardness. The instructor Mel got us set up with the equipment we would need for that class and explained what equipment you would need to grab every class. Once we had our equipment she asked us about our experience with Barre classes or lack thereof. Then she proceeded to explain what the fundamentals of Barre are. She explained that Barre is tiny, targeted movements that focused on one particular muscle to strengthen. She said the main movement of their Barre class is called a “tuck” which is where you squeeze your bellybutton in towards your hips and push your hips forward to align the spine and create a straight back. Simple enough, that move was easy for me to grasp after watching her demo. Then she moved onto explaining what the “seat” was which is the muscles right under your butt on the back of your thigh. Basically you use tiny movements and your mind-body connection to move the muscles in your “seat”. This one is harder to grasp for me because it is not as obvious as the other movements. You have to really focus on what part of your body is squeezing while keeping up with the tiny movements as well. I have taken 8 classes so far and I still feel that I have not fully grasped how to properly work your “seat”.

With that being said I have really enjoyed taking this Barre classes. We start with a warm-up that works your arms and shoulders and then move on to working thighs then seats and then butt and end with abs. I have not experienced a class that I did not shake or feel sore or want to quit in the middle of a movement. Throughout the whole workout, start to finish, you feel your muscles working and know you’re going to be sore. The workouts are difficult but low impact which causes less sweating and is easier on my joints. I still have four more classes to take but I do recommend you try at least 10 classes of Barre because it is a whole different type of workout. I always thought you had to be going 100% all out about to puke to be working out or exercising properly but this has shown me that is not the case.

The studio I attend is also a great community. After I attended my first class they sent me a hand written card welcoming me and offering assistance if I had any questions. Every instructor or front desk attendant knows everyone’s names and things about their life. This is the first place I actually feel a part of a community and not just another membership fee.

Have you ever tried Barre? If you have what did you think of it? Let me know in the comments below and keep an eye out for more posts next week!