Tag Archives: Gut Health

6 Years Ago & Grateful

This past weekend TJ had a moment of frustration about his allergies. It was the first time in 6.5 years of his life that he had spoken up and said that sometimes he gets frustrated. He is currently still allergic to dairy, eggs and peanuts. He went on to explain that he knows dairy is in a lot of foods. So he vented and we listened. Then we came up with a game plan for what new recipes we could try that were safe and yummy for all of us. That made him happy and so excited.

It was both heartbreaking and precious. But we also agreed we needed to continue to pray and believe that one day he would outgrow more, if not ALL of them. And trust me… we believe!

The next day as I was scrolling on my social media page, I saw a memory of TJ from 6 years ago. Those cozy, adorable pajamas were ones I could never forget. Instantly, I was brought back to that late afternoon. It was the last picture I had taken right before his first allergic and anaphylactic reaction…

6 years ago…

I remember it like it was yesterday …

It was a snowy, December evening when I gave him that tiny spoonful of yogurt for the first time.

I remember the highest level of fear I have ever felt. I remember the terrifying ride in the ambulance that had no epi-pen jr. in it. I remember holding an oxygen mask over his face, praying that he would continue to cry because… crying meant he was still breathing!

But I also remember 45 minutes later and being so thankful to have gotten there in time.

I remember the doctors in the emergency room being so comforting …

I also remember the triumph…

I also remember watching TJ’s resilience that those 21 food allergies could not erase. I remember his smile…

I remember his smile when he saw us standing there.

Back then I used to say, “I’ll be happy when …”

… all the allergies are gone …


… when I have more money…


… when I get to go to Disney World with my kids…

But then I see their smiles…

Then I saw his smile…

And I read God’s word more and more and I realized joy is not something we wait for.

Joy is a gift from the Lord.

So I celebrate the allergy count dropping from 21 food allergies to 3. I celebrate the here and the now because God is here and now. And He is always working!

“I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.”
‭‭John‬ ‭15:11‬ ‭NIV‬‬

So I am grateful. I am joyful. I am hopeful.

Right here and right now.

A Healthy, Happy Home

Creating a healthy home has always been one of my greatest goals.  Even before kids, I considered myself healthy. However, it wasn’t until after TJ’s diagnosis that I began to see past some of my old ways of health to an even more natural way. It really opened my eyes to a world that I was not seeing clearly beforehand.   I thought I was healthy before that: I worked out every day and ate a low fat, lean diet, splurging on the weekends of course.   (Yes, I had fallen terribly for the fat free fad….oh how I had been wrong!) So to say the least, it was a huge wake up call when I took on the elimination diet for TJ and started to read more about food system.  I learned about true health by following and listening to people like Robyn O’Brien.
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While I still have a ways to go, we have come far.

Once again, I am NOT a doctor. Just a mama, wife, teacher, friend, Jesus lover, writer trying to figure out how to embrace the mess… (See disclaimer below)

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Over the past years, we have learned some go-to tips to assist our family’s health, and propel it forward…
  1. Prayer – This may sound repetitive throughout my posts, but good! It should be! The power of prayer cannot be defined.   We have truly seen it transform our health and you can too! There is no special way, time, or place. Just pray
  2. Rest – There was a time I would have told you that the r in propelling your health was to run daily.  However, as much as I still love to run each morning, getting enough sleep and rest has proven to be much more beneficial.
  3. Oils – Aside from healthy cooking oils and those in our diet like olive and coconut, essential oils have empowered our house.  It took me many years and a thousand questions (Thanks Mary for your patience!) before I actually bought my first premium starter kit from Young Living.   It’s been three years now since then and oils are now part of our daily routines.  They helped us toss out our unhealthy candles, became a friend to our immune systems, and eliminated so many unnecessary chemicals that our house once carried.We diffuse them, roller ball them up, bathe with them, make lotion using them, and even clean with them! With oils, it is important to always find a high quality brand! (Want more information on oils? Send me an email to theartofamessyhouse@gmail.com or comment below. And stay tuned for future posts.)untitled design (34)
  4. Probiotics – We saw a lot of doctors after TJ had his first reaction.  Unless necessary, I would NOT recommend doing that. Seeing a lot of doctors leads to lots of conflicting advice and one crazed Mama…or Dada.   Anyways, one recommendation that every single doctor during that time suggested was to use a good probiotic.   We went with UltraFlora Balance by Metagenics after two of them suggested that one. TJ and Madison have both used it since before they were one years old just in a reduced form. It was also what I used throughout my pregnancy with Madison. Sometimes, I switch it up too for myself with good high quality, trusted brands.
  5. Elderberry – This is very new to me this year.   During flu season last year, I read a lot about elderberry and purchased an organic brand of it.   However, it was stored away until this past Christmas when TJ got the stomach bug the night before Christmas Eve! (One of my worst nightmares!) So, we tore open that bottle and have been using it since whenever someone in the family has a compromised immune system. Next up…to try to make our own.
  6. Love – All you need is a little TLC… tender loving care, they say.  But the reality is sometimes, people are hard to love.  Sometimes, it just feels good to vent about something or someone..to burn off that steam exploded inside.   It’s healthy too… but the healthiest I have ever felt was when I began to more easily let go up “the drama,” “the negativity,” and even the people who are just plan “mean” … and focus on love. Hug more, kiss those dirty cheeks more and say “I love you” out of routine. Stop fixating on what’s wrong; challenge yourself to see the good in the picture instead. Walk away from the hate; embrace the love.


In addition to these ways we PROPEL our health, I also chew a clove of garlic at the first sign of a sore throat.   (I had to add this today as I am feeling under the weather and needed a morning clove.) It is not for everyone and I am sure that I do not need to tell you, it does not have the greatest taste.. or smell.  I didn’t add it to our list because I am the only one who uses this as my kids are too young to force allium sativum on them, and Timmy is not a fan of the technique.  No kissing tonight hun!

So there’s my mnemonic device for health, PROPEL!  The ELA teacher in me at work…the believer at heart. It’s not cliche.  It’s real.


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Even though we still get hit by viruses, we breath easier knowing that we have resources that help propel our health past the always lingering season of germs and mess.

Disclaimer: This blog is a personal blog and used as a way of sharing and connecting with other readers. The posts, articles, and stories shared on the site are meant as a source of encouragement. In this challenging world of food allergies, motherhood, and life, I have found reaching out to other parents and people in my shoes to be extremely resourceful and inspiring. Therefore, I want to give back and do the same. I am not a doctor; therefore, the information on my blog is not intended as medical advice so as always, please consult with your doctor.

Steps to Kill Hidden Bad Bugs in Your Gut

In recent months, I have become very interested in the gut health of my family.   It is an area that I not only find fascinating, but also empowering when I find other ways to improve it.   While it may sound silly to some, I truly believe that this is where some of our focus needs to go when improving the overall health of our family.   With that being said, check out the following article and smile on to “good bugs” with us…


Source: http://drhyman.com/

Gut Restoration

The Microbiome

Another interesting article about the benefits of restoring one’s gut health.   Check it out and continue to smile on with us…


The Microbiome is Science’s Hot New Kid

Source: http://www.thedailybeast.com/

Gut Restoration

TIPSy TUESDAYS: Probiotics & Prebiotics

Since I have been trying to restore my gut health, this week’s tips are all about probiotics and prebiotics.   Please note my disclaimer though for I am not a doctor.  Also, if you have anything to add on this area, please feel free to comment and add information.

Disclaimer: This blog is a personal blog and used as a way of sharing and connecting with other readers. The posts, articles, and stories shared on the site are meant as a source of encouragement. In this challenging world of food allergies, I have found reaching out to other parents and people in my shoes to be extremely resourceful and inspiring. Therefore, I want to give back and do the same. The information on my blog is not intended as medical advice so as always, please consult with your doctor.

The more and more I research and ask people about food allergies and health in general, the more and more I continue to hear about the benefits of adding probiotics to our diets. Whether you have food allergies or not, there is a lot of information out there stating the importance of having a healthy gut. I know that I need to continue to find ways to restore healthy bacteria in my own. Even though I have no food allergies, I do have some sensitivities to certain foods like yogurt and regular cow’s milk.

To add, one of the common theories of how to outgrow and/or prevent food allergies is to restore one’s gut by increasing the healthy bacteria in it.   To do this, we add allergen-free probiotics twice a day to my son’s sippy cups.  In addition, I have started to take a probiotic too and added some probiotic foods into my daily diet.

Since our goal is to strength our immune systems and improve our overall digestion, we are always looking for “gut-friendly” foods to help add good bacteria into our systems.

The Basics

What are probiotics? Probiotics are “good” bacteria that control the growth of unhealthy bacteria in order to keep your digestive system strong.

What are prebiotics? Prebiotics are food for probitoics.  They cannot be digested by the human body; however, benefit it immensely.

Probiotics and prebiotics work together to help build and maintain a healthy digestive system and immune system.


  1. Kefir
  2. Kombucha
  3. Miso
  4. Sauerkraut
  5. Yogurt
  6. Tempeh
  7. Sour Pickles
  8. Kimchi
  9. Sourdough bread
  10. Soft cheeses like Gouda
  11. Fermented meat, fish, and eggs
  12. Cultured condiments
  13. Pickled fruits and vegetables


“Although all prebiotics are fiber, not all fiber is prebiotic.”

– Cited from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3705355/

Vegetables such as:

  1. Raw Jerusalem artichokes
  2. Raw chicory
  3. Raw garlic
  4. Raw or cooked onion
  5. Raw leek
  6. Raw dandelion greens
  7. Asparagus
  8. Beetroot
  9. Fennel bulb
  10. Peas (green and snow)
  11. Sweetcorn
  12. Cabbage
  13. Brussels sprouts
  14. Cauliflower
  15. Collard greens
  16. Kale
  17. Radish
  18. Rutabaga

Grains such as:

  1. Rye bread & crackers
  2. Barley
  3. Pasta
  4. Gnocchi
  5. Wheat bread and bran
  6. Oats
  7. Couscous

Fruits include:

  1. Pomegranate
  2. Watermelon
  3. Apples
  4. Bananas
  5. Nectarines
  6. White Peaches

Legumes include:

  1. Chickpeas
  2. Lentils
  3. Soybeans
  4. Beans

Nuts include:

  1. Cashews
  2. Pistachio

Helpful Probiotic Sources:





Helpful Prebiotic Sources:




Working to restore and maintain our gut health, we smile on with a little extra good bacteria today and every day for now on…

_Hope if everybody runs, you'' choose to stay...(2)

TIPSY TUESDAYS – Discover Your Own Ps of Life

Planning and organizing are both tasks that I have always been adept at and thoroughly enjoy.  In fact, once the parent of one of my student’s asked me if I would consider organizing her entire house and life. Ha! I declined although the request intrigued me.

However, motherhood and my experience so far with my son’s food allergies have taught me that beyond planning, there are four Ps far more crucial to our lives right now than my written lists.

Disclaimer: This blog is a personal blog and used as a way of sharing and connecting with other readers. The posts, articles, and stories shared on the site are meant as a source of encouragement. In this challenging world of food allergies, I have found reaching out to other parents and people in my shoes to be extremely resourceful and inspiring. Therefore, I want to give back and do the same. The information on my blog is not intended as medical advice so as always, please consult with your doctor.

Now here are our 4 Ps….

1) Probiotics

Last winter, when I first started reaching out to allergists, nutritionists, and other moms with children with multiple food allergies, the amount of conflicting information and guidance was overwhelming.  While I know that was my own fault in seeking too many opinions, it was what I felt was right in those early months. In doing this, it did allow me to find some common denominators.   One of the recommendations that most people made was starting TJ on a dairy-free, gluten-free probiotic once a day.

Although it is not proven, the theory behind probiotics and food allergies is that they help to build up a person’s digestive and immune systems, restoring good bacteria in the gut. While gut health is important for many reasons, it is my understanding that this is also the area of the body that needs to be restored to help outgrow and prevent food allergies. Around 12 months, we increased my son’s daily intake from 1 to 2 Culturelle (dairy-free, gluten-free) probiotic packets a day. (Of course only after TJ’s doctors recommended it.)

See my Culturelle post here: Favorite Finds Friday – Culturelle Probiotics


Now, that I have shifted some of my focus also to my own gut health.  I too take probiotics.   Therefore, probiotics have become quite an important P in our lives. While most other aspects of this world of food allergies still confuse me, for some reason probiotics bring me comfort and hope in our future and health.


(Once again I am not a doctor and these are my own personal opinions and experiences.   Please consult with your doctor before trying anything.)

2) Proactive Patience

I have been through many phases already since my son’s anaphylactic reaction.

From a phase of guilt & self-blame…

To one of intense fear…

Then to some depression and anxiety…

To another phase of overwhelming fear…

Then to a season of false hope (Although putting all of my energy in believing he would outgrow his allergies by 12 months was irrational, it was what I needed to do at that time to get out of my crazy funk.) …

To frustration again…

Then back to anxiety and fear again until….I knew I needed to stop this…

That is when the summer came and I started to really work on controlling my thinking.   Like I have previously written about a couple times, I worked on retraining my brain.  Gradually, it started to work and I entered a new phase of being proactively patient.  When my son’s wheat oral food challenge was cancelled the day before due to his ear infection and could not be rescheduled for another five months, I had a realization. I finally accepted that it is and has never been about my timing, but instead it’s all about God’s.   Therefore, while remaining TJ’s biggest advocate, I must have patience and savor these days even though it is not according to my own plans.

3) Perseverance

Great works are performed not by strength but by perseverance.

Like I posted in Worry-Free Wednesdays: Perseverance Defines Strength,

“I am far from the smartest…far from the strongest…far from the most talented….far from the most successful …far from the absolute best at anything…However, the driving force that has always been present in my life throughout all the ups and downs is my perseverance.   If I teach my son one lesson in this world, I hope it is the will to persevere no matter what because with that anything is possible.”

Don’t get me wrong, the days are quite challenging sometimes and we are always on guard.  The reality is that we cannot control everything that happens to us and the cards we have been dealt. However, what we can control is our reaction to those cards and the choice we have to truly live with them.   Therefore, we persevere and smile on because perseverance moves mountains and defines strength…

4) Prayer


Last but certainly not the least, prayer has been greatly renewed in me throughout this experience.   Not only do I pray with my son on the way to work/day care each morning and at night together as a family, I also stop and thank God first after anything remarkable.  On the other hand, on the tough days and in the most difficult moments, I stop and praise Him for all that He has done for us and ask him for guidance because I cannot do this alone.

For example, when TJ ate his first waffle (allergy-free of course) I teared up and knelt down, praising God for this.  I now see our life through different lenses of faith. We are beyond blessed and lucky for reasons that no allergy….or ten…can take away from us.

With that being said, I feel a different sense of inspiration at times that I have ever felt before.  Often, it comes as I am writing, driving, listening to music, or first thing in the morning. I know that it is during those moments that God is working through me and answering my prayers. It’s almost impossible to describe through words…I just feel it…

As I conclude this week’s TIPSy TUESDAY, I realize that my tips were a bit different than usual.    I believe that everyone needs to find their own personal Ps of life and what works for them.

Search for those moments when you feel inspired and act on them right then and there. During those other times when you hear your intuition speaking to you, don’t talk yourself out of it.  Instead, act boldly. I truly believe we all experience those moments, but how many of us act on them.   Drop your daily agendas and embrace the present. I am far from perfect with this but learning it step by step…moment by moment.  Proactively patient, we pray and persevere with probiotics in our diets and smiles on our faces enjoying today but believing in tomorrow’s possibilities…

tj cartoon

“…Hope is what we crave,
And that will never change
So I stand and wait
I need a drop of grace
To carry me today,
A simple song to say
Hope is what we crave
I need a drop of grace
It’s written on my soul:
Hope’s what we crave…”

“Crave” by For King & Country



Vitamin D & Food Allergies

Here are some interesting reads regarding a possible correlation between food allergies and Vitamin D.

Vitamin D & Food Allergies

Source: http://www.aaaai.org/home.aspx

Vitamin D, The Gut & Food Allergies

Source: http://www.abc.net.au/health/default.htm


The study below discusses the possible effects of sun exposure in the early months of infancy.  It focuses on research reporting that there may be a risk factor for developing food allergies based on the month a person is born. Check out the abstract here.

Sun exposure inversely related to food sensitization during infancy.


Because of all of these articles directly or indirectly point to the importance of Vitamin D, I thought it would be best to end this post with links that can help increase this essential nutrient in our diets.


Source: https://ods.od.nih.gov/

Eight Ways to Get More Vitamin D into Your Diet

Source: http://www.everydayhealth.com/

More conscious of the amount of Vitamin D is our diets, we smile on to enjoying the rest of the weekend…

Vitamin D& Food Allergies

Understanding Your Own Microbiome

Here is another article regarding the topic of gut restoration and health. Check it out and let us know your thoughts.  Smiling on to a happy Monday…

The Microbiome Diet: Evolving Past Paleo

Source: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/healthy-living/

Gut Restoration

Restoring Health with Sauerkraut?

Whether you have food allergies or not, there is a lot of information out there stating the importance of having a healthy gut. I know that I need to continue to find ways to restore healthy bacteria in my own. Even though I have no food allergies, I do have some sensitivities to certain foods like yogurt and regular cow’s milk.

Below are two articles I found very informative about sauerkraut and its health benefits. Once again, sharing is caring so we smile on to a great Monday…

Is Sauerkraut Better Than Probiotics in the Store?

Source: http://www.livestrong.com/

Benefits of Sauerkraut

Source: http://www.mnn.com/

Gut Restoration(1)

The Importance Of Bacteria Exposure To Prevent Eczema

Since this is a topic that I am beyond interested in, I wanted to share this post about bacteria exposure and gut health. Check it out and smile on with us…

Our Eczema Story

As a child, we all played in the dirt. And we just rinsed ourselves off under the garden hose. Our parents didn’t use antibacterial wipes on things before we played with them and they certainly didn’t have antibacterial stations around the office (or factory back then).

Our obsession with keeping everything so clean has come back to bite us. Our bodies actually need exposure to bugs to grow strong immune systems. And our immune system needs to be strong to ensure we are healthy. Weak immune systems can cause all sorts of health issues and diseases, one of which we have discovered is eczema.

Check out this ABC News article titled “Study shows bacteria could prevent eczema“, where there is a very good discussion on this topic, as well as gut health which is equally important and can equally cause all sorts of health issues if it is not…

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