I’m Ba-ack!

I have been laying low from Living Grainlessly for a while since life threw me a real curve ball. My wife, Karen, was in a car accident which left us focusing more on healing and less on blogging. Although I lost momentum and had to get used to all of the changes brought on by the car accident, I still kept my website active because I knew, in my heart, I would get back to blogging and recipe sharing at some point. So here I am!

Here’s an update…

We retired in September from 18 years of foster parenting, my heart still feels a little heavy about that, but I am ok. Fostering has been my life’s passion but all good things must come to an end. If you are interested in fostering, I highly recommend this challenging yet rewarding undertaking. I truly never regretted fostering a day in my life, that is in spite of the hard days that inevitably come with this experience. 

In 2011, along with the changes I had made to my diet I was also experiencing the effects of professional burnout. 

Healthguide.org offers this definition “Burnout is a state of emotional, physical, and mental exhaustion caused by excessive and prolonged stress. It occurs when you feel overwhelmed, emotionally drained, and unable to meet constant demands… Eventually, you may feel like you have nothing more to give.”

Yup that was me back in 2011 and it’s no surprise because at the time I was parenting 9 children (a mixture between my biological children, my step children, and my foster children).

Fast forward to 2017, I had an epiphany that confirmed I had undergone a powerful transformation, it was then that I decided to share my journey with others. 

I knew my impending retirement was closing in on me and so why not honour the closing of one chapter and the beginning of another by writing a book?

The book is about my deepest personal experiences with restoring health and recovering from burnout (AKA adrenal fatigue), I captured this in the hopes of encouraging other people onto a path of healing and inspiration.

This is SO exciting and, admittedly, a little nervous (healthy nervous). The nervous is basically hoping someone other than my mom buys my book haha. The book is called Helping Effortlesslyand will be made available at all major retailers really soon (guessing early December 2018). What a great way to ring in the new year with the birth of a new book! 

If you want to know a little more about the book check THIS out.

2019 is going to be a great year. 

I have already begun testing some new recipes that you are going to LOVE and I will start the new year with some healthy posts to get everyone on-track after the holiday fun. 

I will also be starting a 30 day “Whole 30” detox which will begin Monday January 14th, 2019. For those who want to participate consider joining the Facebook group called Whole 30 – Jenn Bruer this is a group where we share recipes and inspiration to cleanse from the inevitable indulgence over the holidays.  

P.S. in addition to this food related blog I will also have an author website JennBruer.com up and running soon which will have content that will be less food related.

I am happy to be back to blogging 🙂 

Jenn B


I Shouldn’t Need to “Research” Just to Grocery Shop!

By Jenn Bruer

I am volunteering for this amazing new project called Paleo Toronto Organization. This is the same organization that will be hosting the Primal Symposium 2015 in Canada! I have been working non-stop for days trying to promote it. That is, between swimming, mini-golfing, trips to the library, and of course a small amount of yelling at the kids to stop fighting! It’s our Canadian “March-Break” so things are busy to-say-the-least. My friend asked me this morning “why are you working so hard on this project?”. Here’s my answer:

I want my children to grow up in a world that is different to the one I have grown up in. I want my children to eat a grain-free HEALTHY diet when they grow up. I need my children not to live in world where fears of losing limbs due to diabetic amputation is common. I don’t want them to have to struggle in the ways that I do, and have, just to bring REAL FOOD to the table. Some days, I feel like I need a scientific text book just to grocery shop!!! Thank God I have science geeks like The Paleo Mom and Chris Kresser to make things easier on me! But let’s face it, something is wrong with that, I shouldn’t need to RESEARCH before GROCERY SHOPPING! (yeah I know I am yelling, it’s March-Break, I am entitled)

Something has to change, you can’t dispute that! Right now, finding non-toxic food is a feat, it shouldn’t be! I want our thoughts and values as a society to grow to the point that we value food and the things that we put into our bodies. We need to get to a place where food is respected. We need to respect our farmers the way we do our CEO’s of high powered corporations! Help by supporting your local farmer, ask your grocery stores to stock non-toxic food, purchase books, “like” pages, find new recipes, chat about this at your next social event,  BE the change. The more this FOOD MOVEMENT grows, the more easily available healthy-REAL foods will become. But first it has to be important to us.

And THAT is why I work with all of my heart to spread the message: food heals.

Update

This is a post I wrote back in 2014, luckily the food movement has grown and there is so much more education and awareness going around. Thanks in part to food advocates like Vani Hari of The Food Babe. We need people like Vani to fight the good fight on our behalf.

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Toxic Moderation

toxicmoderationBy Jenn Bruer

Wikipedia: moderation is the process of eliminating or lessening extremes.

Come on, admit it, we’ve become a society full of extremes, a society that suffers from a moderation imbalance. From our XL Double-Double Tim Horton’s coffee first thing in the morning to our late night BBQ-chicken-wing-sour-cream Frito-Lay addiction (I just created that flavour :-)). We are raising our children, not just as witness to this over-indulgence, but many children are already full-on participants, sipping on sugar-laden caffeinated lattes, having ice-filled glasses of Coke, and dipping *franken* nuggets in “sauce”. Moderation is no longer.

This is what moderation once meant to me:

I used to be healthy (said with a tone of sarcasm). When I gave birth to my babies I wanted to end the cycle of obesity, so I taught them appropriate “moderate” food rules… I purchased only whole wheat bread; I served mac & cheese only once or twice a month; I limited our McDonald’s intake to only once a week because – even then – I knew that McDonald’s was not healthy; when I placed the order for my kids I didn’t go all-out like other families and order from the “adult menu”; for my little ones, I ordered happy meals with chocolate milk and NEVER pop (that’s what we Canadians call “soda”) because Chocolate milk at least has some nutritional value; I limited their treats to one serving (about three cookies, or a big bowl of chips) per evening.

When I was 20 I drank 5 Diet Cokes daily, then I realised that was bad so I limited to one can a day, then I realised that was bad so I limited only to once on the weekend, then, I had an epiphany, and thought “That shit is a neurotoxin. Should I really be consuming this even in moderation?” The answer is NO, man! Toxic shit should just not be consumed. Period.

Since moderation really is relative, what IS moderation? One could say that the scenario above IS moderation; I think we can do better! YOU can do better.

“On average, in 2004, Canadians consumed 110.0 grams of sugar a day, the equivalent of 26 teaspoons.” We may not be able to get this to the perfect equation that our ancestors did (the cavemen the cavepeople). Surely we can aim for better.

This is what moderation in my household now means, and it’s still not perfect but I think it’s a step up from my once SAD (Standard American Diet) way of life.

I never, ever purchase McDonald’s anymore for my children. I won’t ever give McDonald’s a penny, I don’t want to fund such a mockery of food. Plus the whole toxic epiphany that I had still applies here. When I reach for fast food, it’s usually from my own freezer; whole foods that I’ve prepped ahead and frozen for such occasions (e.g. Grainless Salmon Patties). But since I am not perfect there will be times when I need to reach for something fast, when that happens (rarely but it happens) I reach for gluten-free pizza, not perfect but the lesser of two evils perhaps. I limit the kids to one drink-box (pure juice) per day and the rest is water. I realise that even one juice per day is probably a bad idea (full of sugar) but this is where we are at right now. I still give my kids a “treat” in the evenings but it’s a treat made at home usually sweetened with honey or banana like my banana bread, or some dark chocolate or potato chips made WITHOUT vegetable oil. Ideally “treats” shouldn’t have to be given daily, they SHOULD be a weekly thing, but for now that would look and feel depriving according to our current societal standards.

Until of course our idea of moderation begins to change. But just to be clear the moderation rule doesn’t apply to toxic-shit!


Sugar is the new cholesterol

By Jenn Bruer 

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When I tell people that cholesterol is good for them, I get a whole bunch of different reactions but the two most common ones are anger and confusion. When someone is angry, I am always shocked. I am a Child and Youth Counsellor, that is my profession, that is what I do, day in, day out. I am a Food Coach because I believe I have a place in life to help re-educate people, to prevent illness in our world. I don’t get paid to talk about how cholesterol is good for them, why are they getting angry at me?

When I finally made my way over from the dark side (haha) I looked back and I could see the people that I love over there….I wanted them to come and join me. That’s the reason I am a Food Coach. I need my blog on my Living Grainlessly website to become more “popular” so that people will follow suit.

Funny enough, the information that I now live by is a) not new anymore, and b) not hard to understand at all. So here are some things I’ve learned in basic terms…

Cholesterol is a great thing; without it we would die instantly. Our body actually manufactures its own cholesterol. Lowering our cholesterol levels via drugs is a dumb idea – yeah, that’s right, putting our nation on Statin drugs to lower cholesterol is dumb. I know, I know, I can hear you saying “But, Jenn, I’m different, my father died a young man because of heart disease, I have to be careful and I don’t want to follow in his foot steps. Plus, Jenn, cholesterol actually forms a plaque around your arteries and that can cause a heart attack so I need to lower my cholesterol to avoid this”. I have heard this over and over and over again.Let me set the record straight. Cholesterol can and does form plaque around the arterial walls, but just as you can’t blame fire fighters for starting a fire merely because they were at the scene when you saw the fire, you can no longer blame cholesterol for merely being present at the scene. Cholesterol is present at the scene, cholesterol was merely trying to put out a fire. What fire you ask? The inflammation that was and is occurring right now around your arterial wall. Your body uses cholesterol to replace cells, to heal damage and calm inflammation. So if your body is developing cholesterol around the arteries, it’s because you have INFLAMMATION ( yes I am yelling).Why do we have inflammation? We have inflammation for a number of reasons but the biggest culprits are sugar, vegetable oils, and trans-fats. When we eat sugar we effect our hormones (namely insulin) and we send our body into an inflammatory frenzy. Vegetable oils have increased our omega 6’s (inflammatory). Trans-fats are a poison to our body that cause inflammation, but also raise the bad cholesterol and lower the good cholesterol. Put trans-fats and sugar together (think Twinkie-ish 7-11 foods) and we’re basically a ticking time bomb for a heart attack.Ask yourself this: “Do people around me seem to be getting sicker or healthier?” The truth is they’re getting sicker and it’s because we’re following BAD advise, we’re avoiding healthy foods like eggs and eating BAD foods like cereal. OMG yes, cereal. The name of my website is Living Grainlessly – get it?The basic concept of change is this: take everything you ever thought was true and do the complete bloody opposite – then you should be okay. Well, except vegetables, for now, they are still healthy – if they are Non-GMO, organic, and from a local sustainable farm :-).

I am being playful, but the truth is, this re-learning is hard and confusing. But please, do not give up! I need to believe that I can evoke a change. Right now someone is having a heart attack; that someone could be a person that ate low-fat, ran everyday, and now could die, leaving their loved ones confused. I have to believe that somewhere, someone with type-2 diabetes will NOT lose their leg because they chose to re-think things. Spread the message… Cholesterol is not the bad guy. Sugar is!


Community

By Jenn Bruer

“Every person is defined by the communities she belongs to.” Orson Scott Card

There was a point in my journey to Living Grainlessly when I realised that social events were a challenge, so I would avoid them, and that often left me feeling depressed, deprived, and isolated. Social events in my life always involved foods filled with sugar, grains, and gluten, all of which left me feeCommunityling pretty horrible, not to mention that it induced binging. It would often take me weeks to recover as I dealt with outrageous sugar cravings, acne, mood swings etc.

So what was I supposed to do? Never go to a social event again?

That’s when I knew something had to give! So I joined a local “meet-up” group called “Tor-Paleo” and I met a whole bunch of other people that eat just like me. I no longer feel so isolated.

Yesterday my wife and I hosted a paleo pot-luck at our home with the Toronto Paleo group; this social event was different from the other ones in my life, and for that I am so grateful. None of the foods were filled with sugar, grains OR gluten! It was wonderful to partake in a guilt-free feast surrounded by like-minded, kind, interesting and accepting people.

The other social events, though – filled with sugary treats – will always be there. Here are some tips I’ve created for myself that have  prevented me from falling (too far) off the wagon and staying ONTRACK:

  • O: Order a glass of water; this will make you feel full and keep away your sugar cravings.
  • N: Get back on track again the Next Meal. NOT on Monday or on the 1st of the next month! Those excuses are just enabling you to binge until you “restart”… and you know it!
  • T: Take a grainless dish to the event, like a fruit or veggie tray.
  • R: Raise your hand and say “no thank you”. And if that doesn’t work, tell the food-pushers that you are allergic – it stops them in their tracks every-time!
  • A: Always eat before you go! Fill up on salad and a source of protein that you know will stretch over the course of the event.
  • C: If all else fails… Cheat. Just don’t self deprecate; remember that you usually do well with your food choices, and that this is just a day “out of routine”. Always remember the 80/20 rule. If you’re good 80% of the time, you’re doing awesome.
  • K: Keep a couple squares of 80% dark chocolate in your “back pocket”; they are filled with saturated fat and very satiating. Go ahead, TRY to have too much…it’s pretty hard to eat too much 80% dark chocolate – it’s that rich!

The need to feel a part of “community” is something I know very well. I am happy to say that I now have two new communities; a community of other grainless folk with the Tor-Paleo, and a growing community of people out here in cyber space who have shown me support in my need to shout out loud that FOOD can change your health 🙂