Hello and welcome to week six of my series called the “Get Healthy and Happy Project”. The aim behind the series is to demonstrate that there are many and varied approaches to “healthy” eating and lifestyle. There’s no one-size fits all way to live – food choices included! The most important thing is just to do something to move towards finding a healthier and happier you.
If you missed my first post, each week I will be interviewing people I follow (and love!) in the “health & wellness” field. As you will see, each has a different take on diet but all are healthy and happy!
Who are you featuring this week?
This week in the series we have the awesome Caryn Hough, who is the creator of A Little Bag of Sunshine (new website coming soon!). She writes about interesting (and often unknown!) nutritional facts, health & wellness bits and bobs and creates the best recipes. I should add she is my “go-to” source of information when I need some guidance on food, beauty products etc. She also happens to be a gorgeous person inside and out – so please read and give her some love on Facebook and Instagram!
Ok enough gushing…enjoy her story – Caryn has included so much great info so well worth the read.
For those reading who don’t know you, tell us a little bit about yourself.
I’m currently living in Perth after recently relocating from Margaret River, I’m in my 2nd year of my Nutritional Medicine degree, which I absolutely love and I have also trained in Gourmet Raw Food preparation. I started A Little Bag of Sunshine as an outlet for me to share what I was learning in regards to health and nutrition as well as share raw and whole-food recipes.
I choose not to eat animals, wheat, refined sugar, gluten, soy and most dairy except the occasional organic cheese usually goats cheese. I choose to eat like this not because I have any allergies or intolerances but because I feel amazing eating a mostly plant based diet. I eat about 70% raw and I listen to my body and nourish it with life giving foods, foods that give me energy and make me feel alive – not weigh me down and send me to sleep.
I love being in the kitchen creating food and find it to be really meditative for me, it keeps me present and fully in the moment. I guess for me the recipes I share are a whole creative process, from picking and preparing my ingredients, styling the meal, photographing it to informing my readers about some of the nutritional benefits of each recipe I post, it just gives me the greatest joy, ha ha ha I feel like such a nerd!
Have you always had the same approach to your diet? If not, what was it that made you decide you needed to change your diet?
Wow, um no! Ha ha ha my diet has been a work in progress. In the past I was always on a diet, I drank diet soft drinks and everything was low fat, skinny this, diet that, now I wouldn’t go near anything with those labels in fact I avoid processed foods as much as possible. I encourage people to go full fat now, as the less our food has been tampered with the better.
I gave up eating meat about 8 1/2 years ago for ethical reasons, but I turned to soy which I now know was a gigantic mistake – because the majority of soy crops are genetically modified and the
phytoestrogens in soy which are known to mimic our own hormones once ingested can really disrupt our endocrine system, they also have the potential to cause breast cancer, infertility and thyroid issues so it’s just really nasty stuff even organic. I personally only ever eat organic fermented soy products such as miso, tempeh and tamari as the fermentation process changes the molecular structure to inhibit the phytic acid which is a naturally occurring anti nutrient but can cause a lot of health issues.
So once I had learnt about the dangers of soy it was like I had to start all over again with my diet as I’d been relying on pre-packaged soy burgers to get my protein, soy milk and the like, I thought I was only ingesting a small of soy about but when it came time to throw out everything in my kitchen that had soy in it I was really shocked at just how much of it was in everything. It really forced me to ask myself and really truly think, “Well now what do I eat?”
I think that was a really big turning point for me so I started educating myself about nutrition and gaining more of an interest in real foods (foods closest to the source) and I lost my fear for fat and started introducing the good fats back into my diet and that was when I really started thriving. That then ignited my hunger for knowledge and started me on my journey into health and into my degree.
How would you summarise your view on food now?
I keep my diet mainly to fresh plant foods lots and lots of greens, organic for the dirty dozen is essential. I eat eggs and seafood occasionally. I try to shop organic, local and sustainable for seafood. I also look for organic biodynamic eggs and I always enquire as to the living conditions and also the diet of the chickens, it many sound pedantic but most chickens (yes free range) are fed GMO soy as a part of their diet and if they are not fed soy then they can be fed crushed up meat meal, which for people who don’t eat meat is pretty gross! I stay away from wheat as its highly inflammatory for everyone and it just never made me feel good.
If a product has numbers and ingredients I can’t pronounce then I will not buy it, I rely on the I-phone app Chemical Maze when I go shopping and need to buy something that is packaged, it tells me what these numbers mean, some can be harmless, but most are detrimental to health. But it all comes down to taking the time to listen to your body when you eat to decide which foods are good for you personally as we are all individuals.
How do you feel now you have made your dietary changes?
I feel amazing, so much more alive and vibrating on a higher energetic frequency, my health is great and I rarely get sick. I have a friend I was staying with for a few months adopt my style of eating, she lost weight and just started thriving as well, it was awesome to see and makes me want to share my knowledge to help others feel and look incredible, which I will be doing through my Raw food workshops, Retreats and personal nutritional consultations and eating plans.
What do you do now that makes you feel really “happy”? Did you always know this made you happy? If not, how did you work that out?
I’m addicted to Hot Power Vinyasa at the Power Living Perth studios! Basically they added this style to their studios about 3 months ago. I went in to try it as I love Vinyasa style flow but didn’t realise it was hot (around 35 degrees), when they told me it was I said sorry and headed for the door, the owner talked me into trying it and I loved it. It makes me feel so good; I’ve always known yoga makes me happy – it makes me burst with gratitude and light. Recently I’ve had some massive energetic shifts and been through some huge life changes and I feel like yoga is helping me stay sane and get me through it as calmly and positively as possible, without it I don’t know where I’d be! Before nutrition, yoga was going to be my thing but it got pushed to the side for a while but I’m happy to say I will be completing my teacher training in 2015 and I can’t wait to be able to combine my two passions.
For someone who is looking to change their diet, how do you recommend they start?
I think the idea of adding in more healthier options – the crowding out theory is one of the best, start piling your plate with more fruits and vegetables and good fats, the more you eat this way, the less you’re going to want the junk you know is not good for you. Starting the day with a green juice is one of the best things you can do for yourself, make it palatable by adding a piece of fruit or two with lots of green veggies such as kale, cucumber and celery, add lemon and ginger for a zing with apple or pineapple, this is really alkalizing and disease cannot live in a alkaline environment.
If you’re really serious about change I would recommend starting with one small step at a time, if I had cut out meat, wheat, sugar, dairy, soy, gluten etc. all at once I think I would have gone crazy and probably not succeeded. So pick one thing and make a start. If you’re big on sugar I would start swapping the nasty processed stuff (white sugar, high fructose corn syrups, maple “flavoured” syrup) for more natural sugars such as raw honey, agave, stevia, coconut nectar, just trial a few and find a natural sweetener that you like and give it a chance, our palates can change and adapt to new tastes it just may take some time, be gentle with yourself and don’t give up.
Some other tips:
If you want to buy organic and are on a budget you can pick and choose from the dirty dozen clean fifteen – so only buy the dirty dozen organic and buy the rest conventional ( make sure you wash it), you can try to grow some of your own and also you could start a co-op in the neighborhood and swap foods which all saves money, eating organic doesn’t have to be expensive at all, it’s just the greedy supermarkets that mark the price up beyond ridiculous which makes it seem unattainable to most people.
Shop at your local farmers markets; ask the supplier questions such as if they use sprays and chemicals?
Wash your fruit and vegetables in apple cider vinegar and filtered water.
Add fermented foods into your diet every day they are full of wonderful gut healing probiotics. 1-2 tablespoons of fermented foods are the equivalent of a probiotic capsule which can be expensive. Making your own sauerkraut, kombucha drink or Kim chi is so economical and easy – give it a try.
Read labels, instead of just reading the nutrition panel, read the ingredients list, use an app like Chemical Maze to look up numbers listed on processed foods packets, drink a high quality filtered water free from fluoride.
All of these things are going to improve your health and make you feel amazing.
What’s your view on beauty and cleaning products – do you try to avoid chemicals? Any tips for someone looking to start doing the same?
I most definitely try to avoid chemicals; I’ve found Eco Store to be a great brand for the house that doesn’t break the bank. I use their dishwashing liquid, dishwasher powder balls, hand wash, laundry powder; I just find them a great brand. For toilet paper I love Who Gives A Crap! There are so many natural products you can use such which you may already have such as vinegar that do an amazing job as well and have antibacterial properties, you don’t need chemicals in your home and all these antibacterial hand-washes you see nowadays people applying them like crazy, we need bacteria especially children as it’s what builds up their immune system, let them play with the dog and get dirty in the garden it’s totally natural.
My beauty bag is a work in progress, see below for brand that I use, I’m still switching a lot of my make-up this takes time and is trial and error. Also you can make so many natural products like moisturiser, hair treatments, lip balms and toothpastes yourself, I’ll be featuring some of these recipes on my website!
My top picks for a low to no chemical beauty bag:
- Foundation /complexion– Bare minerals
- Face moisturizer – Mario Badescu peptide moisturizer for day, jojoba at night or avocado oil
- Cleanser- Neutrogena naturals, coconut oil, avocado oil
- Shampoo – Avalon Organics – peppermint
- Body wash – Eco tan, Eco store
- Conditioner – Organic selections
- Shaving cream – Avalon Organics
- Nail polish – Kester Black and Scotch naturals (the latter can be hard to get off though)
- Lip balm – organic paw paw, make your own with beeswax, cacao butter and coconut oil
- Hair treatment – Hello Hair
- Sunscreen – Eco Tan, Wot not
- Body moisturizer – Coconut oil, Avocado oil, Kora organics
- Toothpaste – Phyto Shield lemon myrtle
- Deodorant – coconut oil, eco tan
- Tampons – TOM Organic (think about this, this one is really important)
Thank you Caryn!
I hope everyone has enjoyed reading Caryn’s answers! Soooo much great information here…some good tips I’ll be taking on too. I’ll sum up this post with a quote from above:
“Our palates can change and adapt to new tastes it just may take some time, be gentle with yourself and don’t give up”
I hope you have been enjoying the series – I know I have loved hearing from so many different people on their version of healthy! Next week I will be featuring Jenine from Mums With Bubs Fitness.
And if you’re on Instagram don’t forget to add #healthierhappier to your pictures that show how you live “healthy and happy”!