This week, LOVE GOODLY sits down with wellness blogger Jen – founder and creator of Cuddles and Chaos. We find out how this “real life mom from the suburbs of New York City” navigates through her daily life and her tips on going gluten free!
What is the biggest challenge you face balancing family, work, and personal health?
When you think of balance when it comes to yoga or surfing or tight rope walking, it’s actually constant motion. Lots of tiny little movements to compensate and keep everything from tipping too far in one direction or another. Balance in our lives is no different, but somehow we aren’t conditioned to think of it the same way.
My biggest problem is beating myself up when I’m tipping too far in one direction instead of just taking a deep breath and trying to refocus and adjust my priorities.
What advice do you have for other mothers trying to balance these areas in their lives?
Give yourself a break. No matter what social media tells you, no one has their shit completely together. We’re all just doing the best we can. Some days, your kids are going to need every last bit of attention you’ve got. Your work and sanity might suffer that day, but as long as you keep realigning, everything will be ok. The universe will not implode. The earth will keep spinning.
And if things don’t feel right? Make a change. This bit of encouragement from Dallas Clayton is one of my favorite things to turn to when I start to feel overwhelmed: Make a list of things that make you happy. Make a list of things you do every day. Compare the lists. Adjust accordingly.
Share with us your top three wellness tips.
1. It’s not all or nothing. I don’t know about you, but the second I have a moment of weakness, I’m ready to throw in the towel and dive face first into a bowl of chocolate. When you do something that doesn’t contribute to your wellness, you should acknowledge it, think about how you can react differently to the situation next time, and let it go. The same is true for trying to make positive changes for your wellness. You don’t have to do it all at once. Start small and build off of that. I’ve been trying to do that with my monthly wellness challenges.
2. Hydrate. Until recently I was admittedly terrible at making sure I drank enough water throughout the day. But I challenged myself to focus on it one month (and I tracked my progress to make sure I wasn’t lying to myself) and my skin is clearer, I have more energy and less headaches. I feel like a new woman!
3. Self-care is essential. As a mom, it’s easy to put myself last. I have small humans who rely on me for so much. But if you don’t take care of yourself, everyone will suffer. You can’t give your all when you’re a shell of a human. This means getting sleep. It means setting time aside to exercise. It means carving out pockets of time to do things that you love and to do it in peace.
Has being gluten free changed other areas in your life?
Going gluten free made me much more aware of my body. It’s amazing to see symptoms that you weren’t even fully aware of (like bloating, skin issues, and brain fog) disappear when you remove foods that don’t agree with you. It’s made me pay closer attention to the other foods that I eat and how they affect me. It also made me pay closer attention to my skin care products and how they affect me. Reading Skin Cleanse by Adina Grigore of SW Basics drove that point home even harder.
What is your favorite new gluten free food or recipe?
I was always a big fan of pasta. Since I haven’t found many gluten free pastas that taste like the real deal (especially texturally), I’ve gone the veggie route. I’m absolutely obsessed with zucchini noodles with pesto or hummus. It’s not the same as pasta, but I’m ok with that now. I also really like brown rice salads, especially in the summer months. We make them similar to pasta salads with lots of fresh veggies. We just sub brown rice for pasta.
What is the hardest thing about being gluten free, e.g. eating out, explaining to friends?
The hardest thing for me has been tuning out other people’s opinions. I gave up gluten after bloodwork came back inconclusive for celiac. My doctor said I might have a sensitivity to it and suggested I eliminate it from my diet for a few weeks. It’s my life. I should be able to do what makes me feel good. But people like to spout their opinions. People have told me that gluten sensitivities are made up or accused me of jumping on a weight loss fad bandwagon (nevermind that weight loss was never the reason behind it). I’ve even had waiters spout off about how everyone thinks bread is evil now.
What advice do you have for people transitioning to a gluten free lifestyle?
Google is your best friend. For real. It’s insane how many things have gluten hidden inside them (from spices to soy sauce to things that get cross contaminated, like oats). When I first started, I Googled everything. I also make sure to check out menus before I go to restaurants. Many places clearly list their gluten free options now.
Shop LOVE GOODLY’s favorite Gluten free products here!