The Bucket Analogy

A few days ago I ate a piece of cake.

I know. Ground breaking.

I do have a point though so please bear with me.

As I watched the cake being sliced and passed around, it would have been all too easy for me to decline.

But the truth is, it looked really good. So in the spirit of celebration and sharing in the special milestone, I ate the cake.

And I felt fine.

No energy crash, no digestive discomfort, no desire for more sugar later on in the day (or the next), and no noticeable symptoms in my body (i.e. digestion, skin) the days following. Most importantly though – no drama or guilt associated with eating the cake.

I boil much of this down to having a relatively empty bucket.

If you’re wondering what the heck I’m talking about, allow me to explain.

Enter: The Bucket Analogy (in all its fine glory)

I learned this little gem many years back when I was first studying nutrition and holistic health, and if you’ve ever worked with me in my private coaching practice you’ve likely heard me reference it at some point or another because it serves as a beautiful illustration (in my opinion, anyways).

Okay, stay with me.

Your body is like a bucket…

To start, visualize a bucket with an out spout or “drain” at the bottom.

This one kind of works, but imagine a larger out spout at the bottom, or multiple out spouts.

Now imagine pouring water into this bucket.

As the bucket starts to fill up, the water naturally drains out the bottom of the bucket through the out spout.

It’s really quite a nifty little system actually, because in this case we’re not looking to accumulate water because we don’t want our buckets to become too heavy for us to carry around, nor do we want our buckets to overflow and spill all over the place.

From the day we are born and as we progress through life interfacing with the world around us, we continue to fill up our imaginary bucket with this imaginary water.

What is this imaginary water actually made up of?

So glad you asked ;)

The Contents of the Bucket (in a nutshell)

  • Allergens/Sensitivities (food, environmental)
  • Various Toxins (pollution, industrial, water, food)
  • Diet/Lifestyle choices
  • Infections (bacterial, viral, fungal, parasitic)
  • Stress (physical/emotional)
  • Trauma (past/present)
  • Genetics

So in other words, basically anything and everything that comes into our life experience can ultimately contribute to the content (and weight) of our bucket.

When we’re born, we enter this world with a relatively light load and then we start to fill’er up as we go about living our life (by the way we all have different size buckets – no two buckets are exactly alike!).

You would think babies are born with empty buckets, but according to the Environmental Working Group this isn’t quite the case. In one study there was an average of 200 industrial chemicals and pollutants found in the umbilical cord blood of newborn babies.

I know, frightening.

Don’t worry though, it’s not all doom and gloom.

This is where the 2nd part of the bucket analogy equation comes into effect.

Next up: The Out Spout, aka the Drainage System

Naturally we want to have an efficient and well-functioning drainage system in place so that our buckets can keep up with the demands of our world.

This “drainage system” is actually our body’s detoxification system and it’s comprised of all of the organs involved with processing and eliminating. This includes our lungs, skin, lymph, liver, kidneys, bowel and digestive system as a whole.

We eliminate through our breath, sweat, urine, and bowel movements (I know, sexy talk).

So what happens if our bucket starts to fill too rapidly and the drainage system can’t keep up?

We’ll have an overflow of course, or perhaps a flood in more extreme cases!

This spillage = your symptoms

The bucket (actually your body) literally can’t handle anymore and your symptoms start to spill out everywhere.

Speaking from a dietary perspective, this is why you might be able to handle varying amounts of “sensitive” foods throughout different periods in your life.

For example, maybe you can handle a little bit of wheat here and there without any noticeable symptoms, but as soon as you start eating it at breakfast, lunch and dinner, you may start noticing that you’re not feeling so hot.

Or you eat the cake, but then you go on to eat the ice cream and the doughnuts too. And drink all the wine. Oh, and you’re also dealing with some pretty heavy stuff in your life, and all of a sudden (or so it seems) you’ve gone and spilled your bucket all over the floor and no amount of mopping will stop the flood of symptoms.

This is of course a more obvious example but it demonstrates a great point: diet is rarely black or white.

Sometimes it’s not a question of having to eliminate a food completely from our lives, but just a matter of not overeating it (not rocket science, I know).

So as you can see there’s actually two critical parts of this bucket analogy that we need to address:

1) Those things that fill up our bucket (aka our bucket-fillers)

2) Making sure we have an efficient, and smooth-running drainage system that will ultimately keep up with what we’re throwing in

I know of course it’s not quite as straightforward and simple as I describe above.

Sure, there are those obvious bucket-fillers (i.e. cigarette smoke, alcohol, pollution), but there also inconspicuous ones too – like sneaky chemicals in our food, personal care products, and household cleaners, or even toxins our bodies produce internally. Even so-called healthy foods can create unpleasant symptoms based on the microbes in our gut, and until our gut health gets sorted out, we may have to limit certain foods that once gave us no issues at all.

Enter my role as a nutritionist.

Not only do I guide you in pinpointing and limiting all of those things that fill-up your bucket too rapidly, but maybe more importantly, I also help to ensure your “drainage system” is well-functioning, because I know that you’re not living in a hermetically sealed bubble closed off from the real world.

This is where diet, supplementation, fine-tuned digestion, and other lifestyle habits and practices come into play.

Because at the end of the day?

I’d love for you to be able to enjoy a piece of cake from time to time too without your whole world going up in flames.

I know, I know, a little bit dramatic, but it helps drive my point home.

When you’re really able to tune into your body and learn its language, you usually know when things are running smoothly, or when the bucket is fuller than ideal (relatively speaking, of course) and some changes need to be made in your life.

You can really only gauge the water-line based on how you’re feeling in this moment, on your lifestyle and dietary choices you’ve been consistently making, and by reading the language of your body.

Sometimes eating the cake might not be the best choice, there’s no arguing with that.

Other times it just feels right (Hint: if it is, you likely won’t have any feelings of guilt about it).

And on this particular day, for me, it did.

So I fully enjoyed it, and all is well in my world :)

 

Gentle Winter Cleanse (aka Digestive Reboot)

Feeling sluggish? Low energy? Bloated? Digestion not up to par? Trapped in a cycle of overeating?

If you feel like you need a little help in this area I’ve got just the prescription!

I call this a gentle winter cleanse, however, it’s really more of a digestive reboot or reset.

While cleansing is something that’s recognized as a great tool for the change of season, particularly spring and early autumn, you can still support your body’s natural built-in detox mechanisms all throughout the year by paying attention to what you’re eating, along with other lifestyle choices.

What I’m offering today though is a simple little protocol that you can put into action anytime or place whether you’re feeling sluggish or low on energy, or feeling like your digestion isn’t running as smoothly as it could be (i.e. you’re experiencing indigestion or bloating), or maybe you’ve found yourself in a pattern of overeating less than ideal foods and you’re having a hard time breaking the cycle.

This protocol can help you get back on the right track and give your digestion a rest, all while still providing your body nourishment.

You can follow this plan for as little as one day, but I suggest following it for at least 2 (or even 3) days for best results. This will depend on your current health status, lifestyle, and the intensity of the plan you wish to follow.

It’s really quite simple and you have full control over the menu.

Basic Guidelines

1) Consume any of the following during the protocol. Herbal teas, fresh vegetable juices, green-based smoothies, veggie broths, bone broths, and blended soups. You can pick and choose based on your preference. Unsweetened dairy alternatives are okay, as are seasonings for soup (i.e. sea salt, herbs, a drizzle of olive oil). You’re taking a break from: alcohol, flour, grain, meat, beans/legumes, nuts/seeds, and added sugar (with the exception of the optional raw honey I noted in the menu below), along with most other solid food.

2) You control the intensity. For example, consuming only fresh veggie juices and broths will be more cleansing (and intense) than blended smoothies and soups.

3) Drink plenty of pure water. Although this protocol is very hydrating already, be sure to drink pure water throughout the day. You can also sip on herbal teas and broths.

FAQ

Q. Can I still drink coffee?

A. This is the most commonly asked question! Ideally you will stick to herbal teas but I know that this one factor alone is one of the biggest excuses people give for not following it, or the reason why they will put it off for a more “convenient” time (I’ve fallen into this category many times too). So with that said you can still have one cup of coffee if you really want it (either taken black or with a splash of milk/cream or dairy alternative – NO sugar though). Although there may be many other reasons to take a break from coffee, since it’s technically a liquid you can still enjoy the digestive rest aspect of the protocol (unless of course it contributes towards digestive-related symptoms that you’re aware of – then avoid it).

Other Logistics

  • I personally stop taking all supplements during this protocol with the exception of a probiotic. You’ll have to decide what’s right for you. This does NOT apply to doctor prescribed medications.
  • Take into account your lifestyle and modify as necessary. For example, the last time I followed this I went for 5 days while keeping up with my regular busy work schedule, and workout routine (i.e. spinning classes and heavy weight-lifting). For this reason I added in some protein powder to my smoothie that I had post-workout. If you’re only following the protocol for one day this likely doesn’t apply to you – and if this is your first time following something similar then I would suggest more gentle exercise like walking and yoga.

Sample Menu

* Use all organic ingredients where possible

** Make quantities suitable for you (i.e. for soups you can always make bigger batches and store in the fridge)

Morning

Ginger tea with fresh lemon

Breakfast

Green Smoothie (2 handfuls of baby spinach, 1 chopped ripened Bosc pear, ½ ripened banana, ¼ avocado, ¼ tsp of grated ginger, a few sprigs of fresh mint + water for blending. Optional: add some lemon juice.)

Lunch

Broccoli Soup (Directions: steam broccoli florets until soft and then blend with a drizzle of olive oil, a pinch of sea salt, and water and/or veggie or bone broth. Reheat on stove as needed.)

Dinner

Leek and Potato Soup (Directions: simmer chopped up leek and potato in some water until soft, drain and transfer to blender. Blend with a drizzle of olive oil, pinch of sea salt, water and/or veggie or bone broth. Reheat on stove as needed.)

Night

Warm Golden Milk (1 cup of dairy alternative whisked w/ ½ tsp of turmeric powder. Heat on stove until hot but not boiling. Optional: small drizzle of raw honey is okay)

This sample menu is simply to give you some direction and inspiration. Follow a menu that suits your tastes and lifestyle using the allowable foods/liquids noted under the guidelines above.

Here’s an easy recipe for veggie broth that I posted on Instagram.

Here’s a link to homemade bone broth. You can make it in a slow cooker or stove top.

Here’s a recent juice recipe I made that’s nice for the wintertime (if you have a juicer!)

This is how I store my soups and broths.

Have questions?

Write them in the comments below and I’ll do my best to answer them!

xo Elaine

 

3 Tips for Juicing Wisely

3 Tips for Juicing Wisely

As the weather warms up and is beginning to feel a bit more like spring, I find myself getting back into my daily juicing routine.

There’s nothing like a fresh infusion of easily assimilated vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients to energize and nourish your body, while helping to protect it against premature aging and disease.

Incorporating juice into your diet is a great tool for giving your digestive system a much needed break so your cells can go to work detoxifying and repairing themselves.

To learn more about the wonderful health benefits of incorporating fresh vegetable juice into your routine, and grab some yummy juice recipes, make sure to read this post where I covered the topic extensively.

As I’ve become somewhat of a “veteran” juicer over the years, I realized that there are a few things about the way I juice that have become second nature to me, and might not be so obvious to people just starting out.

So today I want to share with you…

3 Tips for Juicing Wisely

1) Choose Organic

This is a time when you definitely want to opt for organics since you’re consuming the juice in concentrated amounts. Some of the most heavily sprayed, pesticide-laden produce are among the ones commonly juiced. For example, celery, cucumber, apples, and kale are on the Environmental Working Group’s Dirty Dozen list of most heavily sprayed produce. This is a handy guide to have in your back pocket when grocery shopping, especially if you’re on a budget, so you’ll definitely want to check it out if you haven’t already. If you’re going to use non-organic produce at least peel the skin off if possible – as in the case with cucumber and apples.

2) Juice Mainly Vegetables

While fruit can be a nice addition for added sweetness, especially as your palate adjusts to the taste of juiced greens, aim to make your juice predominately veggie-based with no more than 1/3 juice coming from fruit, or 3:1 veggies to fruit. Too much concentrated fruit sugar can cause blood sugar imbalances, not to mention it’s a major yeast-feeder. If you’re consuming mainly green juice with little-to-no fruit, you likely won’t have to worry about these issues. It’s when you’re juicing a lot of fruit and sweet vegetables like beets and carrots that problems can arise. Also remember that you can lower the glycemic index of any fruit or sweet veggie by cutting it with greens.

Most people can benefit from an all greens juice cut with lemon or just a little bit of apple. My average vegetable juice is usually a combination of celery, cucumber, leafy greens, ginger and lemon (as pictured above). I rarely juice fruit, except on occasion. If you already have blood sugar problems to begin with than this is the type of juice I recommend you stick with.

3) Drink it on an Empty Stomach

When you’re infusing your body with easily assimilated vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients, and enzymes, all of these healthful substances can go straight to work where they’re needed most repairing and detoxifying the cells of your body. That is until you impede the process by throwing food into the mix! Call me a juice snob but it always bewilders me when I see someone drinking their juice while eating a meal, because I know they’re not giving the juice a chance to work to its full healing potential. Not to mention that consuming large amounts of liquid with food is just a no-no in general.

Since juicing on an empty stomach is best, the ideal time for most people is in the morning before consuming solid food. Fresh vegetable juice is a great tool for breaking your overnight “fast” and extending your body’s cleansing capabilities, all while providing deep nourishment to the cells and tissues of the body. Once you consume your fresh juice try to wait at least 20 minutes before consuming anything else to reap the most benefit from your juice.

Don’t forget to check out this post to learn more about juicing, plus grab some delicious juice recipes!

Have a question about juicing? Ask me in the comments below!

All love,

Elaine

Don’t forget to schedule your complimentary, 20 minute “Get Acquainted” phone session with me if you’re looking for some extra guidance with your nutrition and healthy body goals.

If you’re not doing this then you’re not detoxing

Did you know that when people talk about detoxing or doing a “detox” program they usually end up overlooking one crucially important step?

You might recall me mentioning in my last blog post that in order to experience true detoxification the old waste matter must actually leave the body. People often get so caught up in the food aspect of detoxing that they fail to realize that what comes out of their body is just as important as what goes in!

Here’s the thing, you can change your diet, eat healthier, and drink fresh-pressed veggie juice until the cows come home, but if your body (i.e. bowel) isn’t keeping up with your daily intake then you’re eventually going to become “backed-up” with waste.

Overtime this leads the cells, tissues, and pathways (i.e. intestines) of the body to become clogged and congested. Couple that with the balmy 98.6 F temperature of your body and you can imagine how this accumulated waste can literally bake into your cells and tissues. Now consider years, even decades, of consuming and under-eliminating day-in and day-out and you start to get the bigger picture. Alas, unpleasant symptoms arise and your body starts to break down.

Now before we go any further, I’d like to take a moment to clarify a few important things. You see words like “detox” and “cleanse” are so commonly thrown around without second thought that it’s super easy to lose touch with what it all means.

So let me take a minute to answer a few important questions! Continue reading