Meal Plan Monday: PCOS Style

Well, I learned my lesson last week in regards to not taking the time to plan and prep healthy meals and snacks. So this week, I am back on track. It’s so crazy that, when you take the time to plan and prepare ahead, you feel like you have tons of groceries in the house, and lots of foods to choose from when you need a quick bite. But you can have the exact same groceries in the house, and NOT plan ahead, and feel like there is NOTHING to eat!

I spent the weekend getting myself physically and mentally prepared for the week ahead in every way I could think of. I cleaned the house, which felt like a big accomplishment. I prepped our meals and snacks, also an accomplishment, and Andrew, Bonnie and I even spent some time outside together. It’s amazing what that can do for your mood! The weather here has been awesome the past several days, and we are taking full advantage while we can.

But back to food…

Here are our dinner plans for the week:

Monday

Meat and veggie Paleo chili (I made and froze a big batch of this several weeks ago. So glad I did!)

Tuesday

Baked flounder (seasoned simply with salt, pepper, and rubbed sage) warm brussels sprouts salad, low-roasted sweet potatoes

Wednesday

An easy garden salad topped with grilled chicken, leftover brussels sprouts, hardboiled eggs, and oil and vinegar

Thursday

Grilled chicken (here is a good recipe) with asparagus and low-roasted sweet potatoes

Friday

Eat out. It’s our Friday thing lately.

Saturday

Spaghetti (using zucchini noodles and homemade sauce)

Sunday

We usually have a big meal after church on Sundays, so dinner is small and laid-back…. leftovers, sammies, whatever.

If our dinner menu seems a bit redundant, that’s because it is! We eat the same things a lot for several weeks before switching it up again. It helps me have less mental clutter (if that’s even a real term) and it helps simplify planning, shopping, and prepping. Since neither Andrew nor I are major foodies, we don’t mind a bit of repetition.

Onto lunch: 

And breakfast: 

  • REAL oatmeal for Andrew (not the sugary packages stuff)
  • Greek yogurt and granola (for Andrew also) If you want a grain free, homemade granola recipe, you can find one here.
  • Scrambled eggs (scrambled in coconut oil)
  • Homemade nut and seed bars

Snacks:

  • Larabars or
  • Nut and seed bars
  • Bananas/apples with peanut butter
  • Carrots and guacamole

Food Prep: 

Prepping meals has been a struggle lately. Partly because of time, but also because our kitchen is not designed well, and is unenjoyable to be in for any extended amount of time. The rental we are moving into in several weeks has a much more updated kitchen, and I am hoping that will be enough to get me a little more motivated when it comes to cooking!

  • Cook chicken
  • Make or thaw spaghetti sauce
  • Slice sweet potato for fries
  • Low-roast 3 or 4 sweet potatoes (so we can just heat them when we are ready for them.)
  • Make tuna salad
  • Make chicken salad
  • Make nut and seed bars (recipe to come eventually!)
  • Hard-boil several eggs
  • Scramble several eggs
  • Make a loaf of homemade bread (for Andrew)
  • Clean and chop brussels sprouts and asparagus

So there is our week in terms of food! Nothing fancy, but it certainly works for us. Now, if only someone else would go shopping for the food, and MAKE the food… and just let me eat it! (: I am not sure which I enjoy less: the shopping or the prepping…

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Even after typing this whole post, and thinking about all these good-for-me foods, all I am actually thinking right now is, “Man, I could really go for a bag of candy corn. Like, right this second.”

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PCOS Diet in a Pinch

I started babysitting Luke this week. His parents have become such good friends of ours, and I feel so thankful to have their family in our lives. Luke is only five weeks younger than Bonnie, so I know they will become fast friends! Although, right now they are pretty oblivious of one another!

Overall, the week went really well… much better than I expected. But I did not have lots of time on my hands for cleaning, cooking, or doing anything other than tending to babies! By halfway through the week I really wished I had taken more time to clean, and to prepare meals/snacks over the weekend.

But I made it work, and thought I’d share some of my quick snacks and meals that have kept me going all week!

1) Bananas with melted almond butter

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2) KIND bars

You can buy them, of course, (these are my fave) or if you’re feeling really ambitious, you can make your own:

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3) Carrots dipped in guacamole

Of course, pretty much any veggie dipped in guacamole would work. We just happened to have a surplus of carrots. And I will dip just about anything in guacamole!

Another great, quick lunch option would have been an avocado with salt and pepper sprinkled on top. It doesn’t get much easier than that! Unfortunately, I did not have any fresh avocado this week, so pre-made guac was the obvious alternative.

4) My super easy/quick/cheap/yummy nut and seed bars, whose recipe and picture I will post soon. Okay… maybe not soon, but eventually. It’s officially on my “to do” list, although that doesn’t mean much these days!

5) LaraBars

AKA: My favorite snack ever. You can buy them in bulk, if you dare. For a protein boost, you can also buy the Larabar ALT bars, which I also love. They do contain grains though, which I am currently not eating. BUT… they make the ALT in pumpkin pie flavor. Can you say “yum?”

My favorite flavors are the butter pecan, key lime pie, blueberry muffin, lemon, banana nut, cherry pie… I could continue. They are all so good (except the coconut cream pie. I don’t care for that one, which is ironic since I normally love coconut.)

Since Larabars contain so few ingredients, they are very simple to make at home too. I usually eat them store-bought lately, since my meal/snack planning has been poor. Here, here, and here are some good guides/recipes for making them homemade if you prefer!

Since Larabars contain fruit, they are higher in sugar than many other quick snacks, so one bar a day is plenty. That being said, I will admit there was one day this week when I literally lived off of them. I think I had FOUR in a single day! Don’t follow my example there though…

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Now that I know how hectic it can be with two babies who are only five weeks apart in age, I will be much more intentional about preparing for next week’s meals and snacks.

Finally, let me just say that Tiffany and I have some wonderful, precious, sweet babies. There were a few rough moments and hours this week, but overall, I could not have asked for a better first week with Luke!

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Four Months with Bonnie

 

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Well, we’ve had some very strange developments over the last month, some great, and some not so great…

Bonnie can roll from her back to her tummy, although I’ve only seen her do it once, and she’s not done it again since. She can grab things with her hands, and she puts everything straight into her mouth!

Unfortunately, she will no longer take a bottle. She HATES bottles, and no matter how hungry she is, she just will not touch them. I am happy to feed her the old fashioned way since I am with her all the time anyway, but with our next baby, I will be more intentional about teaching him/her how to take a bottle. I am still loving breastfeeding, and plan on continuing for as long as possible.

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Bonnie is so strong, and loves trying to sit up, although she still has a long way to go! She also loves to do stand practice, and of course, she still loves her baths. She does not like riding in the car at all. She’s not much of a cryer, but she screams and sobs every single time she is in her carseat. It breaks my heart every time, which means we spend LOTS of days at home, without going anywhere!

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Bonnie started sleeping through the night when she was about six and a half weeks old. She kept that up for several weeks, but a few weeks ago, she suddenly stopped sleeping through the night, and wakes up once during the night more often than not. This started happening right after I stopped eating grains. So I am wondering if she’s just getting hungry more often than when I was eating grains. She has definitely been eating more frequently during both the day and night. I am trying to be intentional about eating lots of protein and fat to see if that helps, but even still, her sleeping through the night is sporadic. She weighed in last week at a whopping 16 pounds, so I know she is still getting plenty to eat!
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In addition to not sleeping through the night regularly, she’s also resisting sleep when bedtime rolls around, which is a new development. After some persistent Googling, I’ve started working on breaking her of that so it does not become a habit.

The combination of Bonnie’s not wanting to go to bed, and then waking up in the middle of the night has left me more tired than usual! She’s been such a wonderful sleeper overall (until now) that I never really experienced that exhaustion that I’ve heard other new moms talk about.

But I am feeling it now! (:

Tired, but happy!!!

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Catching Up

Quite unintentionally, I have really let the blog go by the way-side recently. Life just gets so busy so fast, and by the time I have the time to sit down at the computer in the evening, I feel spent… And like I don’t have much to say that would be worth reading.

Even though I feel tired at the end of each day, I feel so full and fulfilled. Spending my days with Bonnie is absolutely amazing. It is so fun watching her learn and grow. The quick pace at which she is changing reminds me that all of life is so brief, and so precious. So even on the days when I feel tired or defeated, I am so thankful for this season of our family’s life.

And speaking of being thankful… Is it seriously almost time to start preparing for Thanksgiving?!? What??? Until a few weeks ago, Andrew and I had been planning on hosting a small Thanksgiving at our house (he has class the day beforenThanksgiving, and works the day after, so going out of town does not seem wise.) But our lease ends shortly after Thanksgiving, and it looks like we will be moving… Again!

Long story.

But I am actually excited about it, even though the process is a little daunting. I have never moved with a four month old, so we will see how it goes! We have already started looking for boxes, and I am gearing up to get the show on the road, and stay put this time, until it is time to go back to Nashville, of course.

Anyway, depending on when the move actually happens, we may or may not be hosting Thanksgiving. My family has always been very laid back about Thanksgiving dinners, so I am not going to get too worked up over it. At least not yet! One day at a time…

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Photo Update

This is just a quick post to affirm that we are all alive and well in my neck of the woods. Andrew is back in school this week, and we are all getting acclimated to his new schedule. We so enjoyed his week off last week, and loved spending time with both his family and mine.

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We had beautiful weather all week, and spent lots of time outside.

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We went to Cheekwood Gardens in Nashville, and spent a beautiful fall morning there!

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It’s so hard to believe that our sweet girl is nearly four months old. She is getting SO HEAVY!!!

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We are back in Georgia now, and missing the cool, fall weather. And of course we are missing our families, but Andrew is over the halfway hump in school, and I am believing that the next two years are going to be the best so far!

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Seven Down, Seven to Go

Andrew just finished his 7th quarter of chiropractic school. He had lab finals last week, and lecture finals this week. It has been a long, hard two weeks, to say the least. I am SO GLAD it’s behind us. And we are one quarter closer to going back home to Nashville. Praise Jesus for getting us this far!

Since Andrew has all of next week off from school (although not off from work) I am taking a week-long break from the blog to spend time with my family.

Before saying farewell for the week, I thought I’d share some of my favorite recipes from the week, since I did not share my meal plan with you all on Monday (instead, I shared a giveaway, which you can still enter by hopping over to Jessi’s blog.)

1) Andrew and I both loved these low-roasted sweet potatoes:

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2) Tuna salad with apples and pumpkin seeds. This has been my go-to lunch a couple days this week. I would happily eat it EVERY day, except that the experts tell us we should only eat tuna a couple times a week…

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3) I really wanted an easy pumpkin bread recipe that I could throw together with ingredients I had on hand. I ended up going with this cinnamon raisin pumpkin bread recipe. I will definitely be making this recipe again. Probably, like, tomorrow, since this loaf will likely be long gone by then. Seriously. It’s that good.

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Grain-free diet for PCOS

Exactly ten days ago, after being inspired by a friend, I decided to stop eating grains. I’m always trying things that I think might increase my energy, help my focus, help me reach my happy weight, decrease bloat, and of course, improve my PCOS symptoms. I’ve tried cutting gluten out of my diet twice over the past several years, and both times I came to the conclusion that, although I noticed small improvements, the tiny improvements were not worth the big lifestyle change.

Cutting out grains has crossed my mind before, especially in light of having PCOS, but I’ve always dismissed the idea, thinking it was unrealistic. For some reason, (and maybe it was a God-thing) when Calista mentioned that she and her husband had decided to cut out grains, something in my mind just clicked, and I thought, “That is not an unrealistic goal. If she can do it, there is no reason I can’t at least give it a try.”

I really think everyone has an ideal diet that works best for their own bodies and minds. And I’ve struggled with finding my perfect diet over the past many years. But, I am here to say, with certainty, that I HAVE FOUND IT.

It’s about time.

I feel incredible, both physically and mentally… better than I have felt during any other time in my adult life. And it’s only been ten days.

My daily energy slumps that usually roll around by 2 or 3 pm seem to be gone, or at worse, greatly improved. I’m thinking this must also mean that my blood sugar levels are more stable, which makes sense since carbs can exacerbate this, and grains = carbs.

More accurately, for women with PCOS: If our diets are rich in grains and carbohydrates, they can overstimulate the pancreas’s production of insulin, and contribute to our problems of insulin resistance and other PCOS symptoms. Plus, consuming too many calories from carbohydrates in the presence of high levels of insulin is associated with increased fat storage (aka: weight gain.) Furthermore, some researchers believe that 85% of women with PCOS are gluten intolerant. Whether you are intolerant to gluten or not, a grain-free diet could still help improve insulin resistance.

But don’t our bodies need carbs? Of course! So I have been eating lots of starchy vegetables, and eating fruit. You could also get carbs from legumes, but my husband won’t eat most legumes, so I don’t buy them. Dairy is another source of carbohydrates, but I have not had any dairy in the past couple of weeks either. And I really don’t miss it the way I thought I would.

As I said before, I think there is an ideal diet for everyone, and eliminating grains may not be for you. If you think it’s something you might like to try, here are a few PCOS success stories to help get you motivated:

It’s only been ten days since I cut grains out of my diet completely. Since I know that’s not much time, I will give you all another update in a few more weeks. And I am hopeful that the best is yet to come!

Oh, and the icing in the cake…. My MASSIVE sweet tooth has all but disappeared. I never thought I would be able to say those words, so that alone is huge.

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The PCOS Diet Plan: A Giveaway

A long while back, I read the book The PCOS Diet Plan, by Hillary Wright. I even wrote a little blog post about it, which you can find here. The book is great because it provides practical, easy-to-follow suggestions and guidelines for healthy eating and lifestyle habits. All of the information can be a bit overwhelming if you read too much of the book at once, but if you take it bit by bit, and take the author’s suggestions bit by bit, you will find that her ideas really are doable and beneficial.

Here is a quick sample of what you will find in the book:

Rules for a happy PCOS plate:

  • Cover half the plate with non-starchy vegetables (ex: salad, or vegetable soup.)
  • Cover 25% of the plate with lean protein.
  • Cover the remaining 25% of the plate with a high-quality starch.
  • Include two servings of healthy fat per meal (ex: a pat of butter.)

In honor of September being PCOS Awareness Month, a friend and fellow PCOS blogger, Jessi, over at Life Abundant, is hosting a giveaway, and the winner will receive a copy of The PCOS Diet Plan. The book has been so helpful to her and to me. And I think there is something in this book for every woman who wants to learn more about managing her PCOS naturally, and achieving the highest possible quality of life. I recommend that everyone with PCOS read it, whether you were just diagnosed recently, and wanting to learn things for the first time, or you were diagnosed ages ago and just need something to help you get motivated and inspired to take charge of your health again.

So, if you’d like a chance to win a copy of the book FOR FREE, head on over to Jessi’s blog. There are several ways you can enter, and of course, be sure to spread the word to anyone you know of who might benefit from the book! The giveaway will be open for a week, and Jessi will announce the winner on her blog on September 29th.

Click on the picture below to be re-directed to Life Abundant, and to enter the giveaway!

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PCOS Awareness

We know all about PCOS. We spend the month of September being even more aware of PCOS than usual, and making sure that others are aware of it too.

That’s all fine and good.

But there are a few things that we need to make PCOS aware of too.

PCOS needs to be aware that we have…

Doctors who are really smart. 

Support systems that are really incredible. 

Bodies that are still amazing, in spite of PCOS. 

And a God who is really BIG. 

And while we are busy being aware of PCOS this month, let’s not forget these things ourselves! Let’s spend this month praising our God, because we were fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14). God’s works are wonderful… our bodies are wonderful.

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PCOS Awareness: Essential Oils for PCOS

Even though essential oils seem to be all the rage these days, I only started learning about them when I was pregnant with Bonnie. And I did not start using them regularly until the end of my pregnancy and after she was born. While I was pregnant I did lots of research on essential oils for newborns, babies, and children. When I was so ready for Bonnie to get here, I did research on using essential oils to help induce labor, and of course, using essential oils during labor and delivery. But I did not think about researching the use of essential oils for PCOS until after Bonnie was born.

Someone asked me recently if I know much about the use of essential oils for infertility, so even though I’m still wrapping my head around it, and don’t quite understand the ins and outs of using oils for PCOS, I thought I’d share what little bit I have learned! If you have additional question, or want more information, just click on the resource links at the bottom of this post. I have a feeling the women who wrote the original articles/posts know much more than I do! (:

It’s important to note that, if you are going to use essential oils for healing purposes, they need to be medicinal rather than synthetic. Synthetic oils cost less, but they do not have medicinal qualities.

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Lavender- used for stress relief and relaxation

Geranium- used for hormone normalization and as an antidepressant

Use a combination of these two oils to create a detox bath: 

  • 2 C. Epsom salt (helpful because the magnesium it contains absorbs through the skin, which can create a calming effect)
  • 1.2 c. baking soda
  • 10 drops lavender
  • 5 drops geranium

When used properly, lavender and geranium can also be used to aid in fertility. Simply combine the following oils in 4 ounces of a carrier oil (such as Vitamin E oil, for example) and rub them on your tummy for a fertility blend: 

  • 10 drops Clary Sage (uterine tonic)
  • 10 drops Sweet Fennel (regulate menstrual cycle; may help reduce hormone fluctuation)
  • 7 drops Geranium (uterine and ovarian tonic)
  • 3 drops Lavender (circulatory stimulant)
  • 3 drops Rose (relaxes the uterus)

Along with infertility, hair loss is also something that many women with PCOS struggle with. If this is you, I highly recommend THIS BLOG. But for now, here is an essential oil blend for hair loss: 

  • 3 drops Thyme
  • 3 drops Lavender
  • 3 drops Rosemary
  • 3 drops Sage
  • 3 drops Cedarwood
  • 1/8 c. grapeseed oil
  • 1/8 c. jojoba oil

In addition to the oils listed above, I’ve read that frankincense can be used for the treatment of, or prevention of, fibroid cysts. Frankincense can also help balance the endocrine system. It’s easy to use too! Just put two or three drops under your tongue every morning and night.

I have also seen this Progessence Plus Serum floating around the internet lately, and am completely intrigued after reading a few testimonials. Apparently, this is a serum derived from wild yams, combined with Vitamin E, frankincense, bergamot, and peppermint essential oils, to help balance and improve progesterone levels in the body.

Click here for a Progessence Plus success story. 

According to this post,  everyone with PCOS should use Progessence Plus, along with EndoFlex, and Ocotea. 

EndoFlex is a blend of essential oil blend that helps balance and nourish the endocrine system. It contains geranium, spearmint, sage, myrtle, nutmeg, and German chamomile.

Ocotea can help stabilize insulin levels. This particular blend sounds incredible when it comes to leveling blood sugar.

Bear in mind that I’ve not tried all of these oils and blends myself yet, so I don’t have any experience with how well they do or do not work. But I say, anything is worth a shot!

References:

http://pcosdiva.com/2013/02/ask-amy-essential-oils-and-pcos/

http://essentialsurvival.org/3-must-have-essential-oils-for-pcos/

http://frontierblessings.com/2013/07/essential-oils-for-pcos/

http://www.drfostersessentials.com/store/Q_polycystic.php

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