The Last Year 

Well it’ been over a year since my last blog!! 😱 I thought I would have restarted a month or two after Oleena was born but with building a house, doing the bookwork for my husbands electrical business, training in Educational Kinesiology and raising two small kids, it just didn’t happen.

The blog started as a way for me to share what I have learnt about the digestive health. It actually made me accountable in those final few (and most important) weeks of my pregnancy with Oleena. I continued with a dairy, sugar and gluten free diet for the first few months of Oleenas life with me breastfeeding and this all seemed to have paid off. I introduced new foods into my diet while breastfeeding and Oleena had no adverse reactions. Then when introducing foods to her, I chose to hold off on gluten and dairy until after 6 months when I believe her stomach was strong enough, and sure enough she didn’t have any major reactions- only minor changes in her diaper which is totally normal when they are processing new foods. It could have been the diet, delaying introduction or different genetic make-up (or it could be all the factors combined) that has resulted in Oleena having significantly better food tolerance than Finlay.

As mentioned something else I have been up to over the last year is training in Educational Kinesiology ‘Brain Gym®. This stemmed from my introduction into DoTerra oils when I was looking into natural healing. Being a teacher and graduate of Sport Science, Brain Gym® has been a very natural progression and combines all my passions together.

Now that I am a qualified Brain Gym® Consultant I am turning my passion into a business and can work one on one or small group sessions helping people heal their body, mind and spirit and assist them to achieve their goals. I will be launching my business ‘Embody Family Wellness’ in the new year and you will see I have changed the website accordingly.

I will continue to discuss and share information on nutrition and digestive health but will also be including information on Brain Gym®, brain and body functioning… Encompassing whole body well-being!

Michele xox

Essential Oils

A few months ago my lovely friend Leissa introduced me to the world of DoTerra Essential Oils. The oils were the product I had been searching for since having Finlay. Whenever he was unwell with a snuffly nose, teething or had a temperature, my husbands first response was always “Do you want me to go to the chemist and get some…” Which was my husband only wanting to do the best for Finlay. However, I would wait until absolutely necessary to give him the medicine because I just didn’t feel it was the ‘right’ thing to do (my version of wanting to do the best for Finlay too).

Now I have this amazing resource of oils that not only help with fixing ailments but work as a preventative measure as well, which has been very empowering. My main priority has been for healing & wellness for Finlay. For example, there is an oil blend called Digestzen which has been extremely beneficial for improving his digestive system. The oils can replace beauty products, medicines and chemicals for cleaning in your home. Overall this is going to help everyone’s health and well being with less toxins getting in our bodies!

DoTerra oils are ‘pure, potent and effective’. The quality of DoTerra oils means they can be used aromatically and topically but they can also be used internally! Every morning I start the day with a large glass of water with a drop of lemon oil 😋 I’ve made my own tooth paste which Finlay can also use without me worrying about the chemicals 😁 The uses for the oils are endless.

When the Docs Win Out

Natural remedies can work wonders but a time can come when medical intervention has to be taken. Which is why I’ve been a bit quiet… 

In 2007 I was diagnosed with a mild / uncommon autoimmune disease- Autoimmune Thrombocytopenia. Which means I have a low platelet count which can impact on the bloods ability to clot. I can bruise easily and it can make you feel tired because your immune system is being constantly challenged. The doctors told me there was nothing I could do about it, just take steroids if my platelet count becomes very low. I rarely get sick so just saw it as a flaw in my body. It had little impact on my life and as my platelet count stayed a consistent number, I went on as usual.

A low platelet count does have its impact on pregnancy though. Specifically in the birth process, if your blood does not clot effectively there could be implications. They also won’t administer an epidural if platelets are too low because it can increase the usual risks of epidurals. Towards the end of my pregnancy with Finlay my platelets were dropping so in the final 3 weeks steroids were prescribed to stabilise my platelet count.

Over the last 2 years I have learnt how my diet lead to me developing the autoimmune disease. Despite all my best efforts I am here again… last week (2 weeks before due date) my platelets had dropped by 20 which is fairly significant. So as much as I was trying to avoid it, I’m having to take steroids again. I guess this is just part of how my body deals with growing a baby- especially in these final weeks when their demands increase. At least this time around I can start taking better steps so that there isn’t as much damage done.

This means a step up in my diet, more probiotics and lots of bouncing on the fit ball in the hope baby comes early and means less time on the steroids😉 I’ll be eating mostly cooked vegetables and meats as this will be gentle on my digestive system. No grains and maintaining no refined sugar. I’ll still be including my daily green smoothie and fermented vegetables though for a bit of raw goodness.

One thing I’m excited to be adding back into my diet is my breakfast veggie bowl! When I was on GAPS I couldn’t eat meat for breakfast, it just doesn’t seem right! So here is something I made up and it actually tastes like breakfast- I think it’s because of the avo & basil but either way it is honestly really tasty! 

Breakfast Vege bowl (ingredients for one serve).

  • 1 carrot thinly sliced (I use the side of the cheese grater)
  • 1/3 zucchini thinly sliced
  • Handful of spinach leaves
  • A few basil leaves shredded
  • ¼ to ½ avocado
  • 300 -400mls of chicken broth.

Instructions:

Bring broth to boil, add carrots and then bring back to a gentle simmer. Start timer for 12 minutes, then when timer gets to 3 minutes add the zucchini. Ensure pot stays at a gentle simmer rather than over cooking. When timer is finished take off the heat and add the spinach leaves, basil and avocado. Serve with a large teaspoon of ghee (or butter) and put the remaining broth in a cup for the yummiest of teas!

Staying positive and focused on being as healthy as possible… Only a few more days to go now 😊

Fantastic Ferments

Our top three game changers have been chicken broth, fermented veggies and ghee. Game changers because of the health benefits we received from including them in our diet and also for their tastiness! Today I’m talking about fermented veggies.

Information and recipes are from Sally Fallons ‘Nourishing traditions’.

The process of fermented vegetables and fruits, has been around forever. It is how our ancestors preserved foods to have them available all year round without the use of freezers or canning machines. Lactobacilli (lactic acid producing bacteria) are found on the surface of all living things, especially on leaves and roots of plants growing near the ground. Through preserving / fermenting, lactobacilli multiplies. This enhances digestibility and increases vitamin levels, enzymes, antibiotic and anti-carcinogenic substances.

If you are taking a probiotic that is great but the added bonus of fermented vegetables is that they travel further down the digestive system (unlike the powder substance of a probiotic which is absorbed earlier in the digestive tract).

So I hope I have convinced you to give fermented veggies a try! Fermented veggies are great to add to your plate when eating meat (to aid in digestion of the meat). Do not heat fermented veggies otherwise it will destroy all the good bacteria.

Below are 2 recipes that I use. The recipes call for whey- whey is the watery liquid at the top of your yogurt- if you are going to use this, make sure it is strained so it is just the liquid and there are no the milk solids). If this isn’t available you can use an additional tablespoon of sea salt. I use real deal sea salt for this- ‘Salt of the Earth, Hand Harvested Coarse Celtic Sea Salt). It is not beautiful and white but it hasn’t been processed at all…

Sauerkraut

  • 1 medium cabbage, cored & shredded
  • 1 tablespoon on sea salt
  • 4 tablespoons of whey (or additional tablespoon of sea salt).

Add all ingredients to a bowl, mix and then pound with a wooden pounder for 10 minutes to release the juices. I have found adding the cabbage straight into the mason jar a bit at a time and then pounding makes it easier, again you just add more cabbage when the juices start to be released.

Cover tightly. If there is room in the jar the air will turn the top part brown so I usually stuff the top with the outer leaves of the cabbage so there is as little air as possible. Then you can leave it on the bench for 3 days (or longer during winter). Gas can build up in the process so once or twice open the top to let the gas out, before transferring it into the fridge.

Beet Kvass


  • 12 medium beets
  • Seeds from cardamom pods (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon of sea salt
  • 4 tablespoons of whey (or additional tablespoon of sea salt)
  • 1 cup of filtered water

Peel and cut beets into julienne strips or use the cheese slicer on a grater, (do not grate the beets though as this releases too much juice and will produce alcohol rather than lactic acid). Place beets in mason jar and push down slightly with wooden pounder. Combine remaining ingredients and pour over beets. The top of the beets should be at least 1 inch below the top of the jar. Cover tightly, leave on the bench for 3 days (or longer in winter) before transferring to the fridge. (Above picture includes grated carrot as an extra).

Both of these recipes require practise (did for me anyway)… The beets can produce a scum on the top, I scoop this out or wipe with paper towel daily. Generally ferments are pretty hardy and forgiving. That being said, I do stick to these easy, safe options but there are so many other varieties out there. So if you are more adventurous with your ferments and try something that works well, please let me know!!

Banishing the Bad Guys

Your body needs a balance of good and bad bacteria to function optimally. If there is too much bad bacteria, illness and disease can set in. There are a few different ways to get rid of bad bacteria and increase the good bacteria. 

With the assistance of a naturopath, Finlay and I followed the FODMAP diet in order to have our systems rebalanced. We both had the addition of some supplements / natural remedies, as well as the correct selection of probiotics. There are many strains of probiotics out there and it is important that the right one is used for these circumstances.

So what is the FODMAP diet? FODMAP stands for Fermentable, Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides and Polyols, these are molecules found in the food we eat. These molecules can be poorly absorbed by some people. For example some foods can cause water retention – slowing things down in the digestive system. Then other foods can cause the water to be drawn out and expelled – speeding things up. These symptoms are similar to that of Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) which is why the FODMAPs diet is also used to treat IBS.

There is an initial stage of six weeks where the diet is quite strict, followed by another six weeks with more additions to the died and increased amounts of the ‘allowed’ vegetables. Following the diet meant another major shift to our diet, taking out foods that are high in FODMAPs. There was a limit or total ban on vegetables that I had become confident in cooking, like cauliflower, onions, peas (Finlays most favourite food in the world at the time) and pumpkin (my favourite). I had to learn about preparing, cooking and including vegetables like bok choy, silver beet and radishes into our diets?!?! On a positive, I now have a much wider range of variety and a healthy balance of different vegetables as well as other foods.

After the diet was finished we continued with the natural remedies and probiotics. I could honestly say and feel that we were clearing through the path of healing. It is such a good feeling when you know that your body is working as it should be!

See this link for some examples of foods from the FODMAPs Diet: http://www.med.monash.edu/cecs/gastro/fodmap/low-high.html

And for healthy individuals: high fibre, high prebiotic food diet (to promote the growth of good bacteria): http://www.med.monash.edu/cecs/gastro/prebiotic/

It’s All About Bacteria

Last blog I discussed the GAPS diet and how successful it was for Finlay in healing so that new foods could be tolerated. I had been through a thorough detox and no longer breastfeeding so we were all eating a more normal, Paleo inspired diet. I had also started introducing A2 milk for Finlay as I was being told at his check-ups he should be having more dairy for his calcium intake. He wasn’t having any real obvious reactions but his stools were a bit loose (excuse the details :-/). Personally I had noticed my digestive system had not returned to ‘normal’ either. So I went to see the naturopath about this.

Whilst with the naturopath Finlay was playing around and slapping / tapping his head, she asked if he usually did that, to which I replied yes. At this point I feel the need to mention Finlay is a totally normal, happy, well behaved child 😉 We just thought it was something he did to amuse us / for attention. It turns out children banging their heads can be a symptom that they have a bad bacteria overgrowth!!

Some facts about the digestive system:

  • We are all walking ecosystems made up of microbiomes (small communities on microbes), collections of good and bad bacteria all over our body.
  • If you could remove all of the bacteria in one person’s digestive system, the whole lot would probably weigh about 1 kg.
  • During the process of child birth a baby takes in its mothers good and bad bacteria. See this link for a general understanding: http://www.wired.com/2014/04/missing-microbes-antibiotic-resistance-birth/ For a US research paper on the topic: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3110651/
  • The small intestine is where most digestion and nutrient absorption takes place. A balance of good and bad bacteria is required to help this function.
  • Due to alcohol, highly processed foods, antibiotics and other medications or toxins, good bacteria can be replaced with bad bacteria.
  • Bad bacteria over growth can spread from the large intestine up to the small intestine causing symptoms of IBS as the bacteria responds differently to different foods for example starchy / non starchy foods. This is called SIBO – Small Intestinal Bacteria Overgrowth.

During the final 3 weeks of pregnancy I had to take steroids. The steroids, along with my mainly processed food diet, meant I didn’t have much in the way of good bacteria. Poor little Finlay had started out life already with an imbalance of bad bacteria.

Although the GAPS diet had been a great detox for me and healing on the stomach lining for both Finlay and I, it turned out we had been eating a lot of the foods that feed the bad bacteria. For example honey, mango, pumpkin and broccoli featured heavily on a daily basis for us. This resulted in us both having this SIBO. I’m not saying if you eat these foods you’ll have SIBO but if you had a bad bacteria overgrowth to start with, lots of these foods would not help.

There are different ways of dealing with bad bacteria overgrowth and I will get into this over future blogs. But for now the take away message is: If there is any aspect of your health, or your child’s that you feel isn’t quite right I encourage you to try and work it out. Our bodies are amazing at coping and adapting which makes it very easy for our minds to think everything is okay!

Simple Chicken Bone Broth Recipe

I had a couple of requests for a bone broth recipe, so here’s what I use. I do this weekly so try to keep it as easy as possible.

  • 2 or 3 free range chicken carcases
  • 1 large onion quartered
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 tablespoon of rock sea salt or Himalayan rock salt
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar, or other vinegar (acidic nature draws minerals out of chicken bones)
  • 3 or 4 carrots cut into chunks
  • 2 sticks of celery cut into chunks
  • 5 or so sprigs of parsley (added in final 10 minutes increases calcium content)

Put all the ingredients (except parsley) in a large pot and fill with filtered water. Bring to a slow boil and then reduce to lowest temperature. ‘Scum’ will rise to the top, scoop this out. Then it’s all good to be left over night (can do it for up to 24 hours if you wish). In the morning add the parsley 10 minutes before turning it off. Once cooled pour and store into large glass jars with a decent seal so broth stays fresh for the week. I’ve broken so many glass jars because I don’t wait for it to cool enough! A layer of fat will develop on the top when refrigerated, it is okay to include this when reheating (wouldn’t recommend it if you don’t use free range chicken though as the toxins are stored in the fat).

Note: You can be flexible with the types and amounts of vegetables and herbs you use, these amounts seem to be the best flavour for us. You can also use a whole chicken instead and then pick the meat off for an easy meal.

Heat up, sip and enjoy 🙂