I'm Overcoming an Undiagnosed Eating Disorder....

**PLEASE NOTE THAT I’M DEALING WITH MY UNDIAGNOSED EATING DISORDER & NOT LETTING IT GET TO A POINT OF NO RETURN. Honestly, some days are worse than others. I wrote this in the hopes that it helps someone else in a similar situation. I’ve always told you I’ve be open & transparent with you, so here goes!

Growing up, I was always self-conscious about the way I looked.

In high school, I got a little heavier and by senior year, I knew I had to make a change. So, I lost weight, but there were days when I just didn’t think I was skinny enough.

I’ve carried that mentality ever since and I didn’t know why I felt this way - until I started attending Institute for Integrative Nutrition and found out I had an undiagnosed eating disorder.

That means I never binged or purged or did any self-conflicting damage, I would just tell myself that I wasn’t good enough and I could only eat a certain amount of calories. If I ate too much, I would NEED to work it off. If I didn’t, I would feel like absolute crap. I tried to change my mindset, but nothing worked.

Then, I got pregnant and KNEW if I did not change, I would be hurting my child.

I was nervous though because I knew my mind would creep in and potentially take over.

The first trimester was hard. Every time I would eat more than I usually do, my mind would say, “no, no, no you’re not allowed to eat that much.” I tried to fight what my mind was saying, but somehow, I couldn’t fight the urge to want to listen. Gosh, I was PETRIFIED of gaining weight. Every time I thought about gaining a pound or so, I would cringe.

“You are growing a freaking person inside of you, Hope, you need to stop,” my husband would remind me. Then, there was my mother who told me the same followed by one of my friends. And, I KNEW I had to listen.

I knew I was blessed because so many women cannot get pregnant and I was privileged enough to get pregnant, so I had to stop wasting my time on such a stupid matter. At the same time, I knew it was psychological and if I needed to seek help, now was the time to do so.

When my 2nd trimester began, my mindset started to change and I felt differently. Instead of constantly worrying about the amount of food I was consuming, I focused on my growing baby. I’m not saying I’m completely “over” it, but I’d definitely feel better about myself and am happy about being pregnant.

** Please note that there was NEVER a time I put my growing baby in danger due to my mind. I ate when I was hungry, but never overdid it.

If you’re struggling with an undiagnosed eating disorder that you had no idea you had, please talk to someone! Do not be afraid to ask for help or pretend that everything is okay.

I knew that if it got to a point where it was affecting my everyday routine and my life in general, I would seek help but at this time, I can handle it on my own and know how to talk myself out of feeling like I need to eat less. I’m NOT going to endanger my growing child just because my mind is telling me not to eat “too much.”

Here are a few things to keep in mind:

  1. Pay attention to your triggers. Does eating certain foods make you feel bad about yourself? Does a certain friend or family member make you feel about about yourself? Stay away from them because you DO NOT NEED that negative energy!

  2. You’re binge eating and then throwing up. RED Flag! It’s not normal, so you should probably find someone to talk to about why you’re doing this in the first place.

  3. If the thought of gaining weight concerns you, then you may want to seek help!

There are always people around to talk to. If you don’t feel comfortable talking to a therapist YET, feel free to reach out to friends, family or a holistic health coach!

Being Mindful

Most of us spend our entire lives living in the past or future.

We start thinking, “how could I have changed the scenario” instead of focusing on the present. We get lost thinking so many thoughts that we don’t concentrate on what’s happening NOW. And, I’m guilty of doing this because on my drive to work, all I can think about is how I think my day will pan out instead of focusing on the trees, plants, landmarks and the other cars surrounding me. I also get so lost into thinking what I need to do after work, what tasks I need to get done at work and what I’m having for dinner.

Here’s the thing: you can train your mind to start thinking in the moment. It won’t be easy because our mind often wanders., but it’s definitely feasible.

So, next time you’re eating, pay attention to the taste, how the texture feels, how it feels in your mouth and how much chewing it takes.

Next time you’re driving, pay attention to the cars, scenery and your overall surroundings.

Next time you’re washing your hands, pay attention to how your hands feel, the temperature of the water and how the soap feels in your hands.

Just learn how to be more mindful and stop trying to figure out what your next move is. We need to focus on our breathe and learn how to concentrate on what’s happening NOW.

If you’d like to schedule a FREE HEALTH CONSULTATION, CLICK ON THE LEARN MORE BUTTON BELOW 👇

Unhealthy vs Healthy Carbs

When it came to carbs, I used to be obsessed with only eating carbs for one meal a day. Typically, my lunch would consist of a bagel with peanut butter, salty and sweet snack. But, then later on, I might indulge in a bag of chips. It was mostly empty calories that would fill me up for a bit and then, I’d just end up getting hungry a few hours later because it never held me over.

I would often write down exactly what I’d eat just to avoid carb overload.

All I heard was CARBS MAKE YOU FAT! And, I listened because here I was trying to stick to one meal of carbs a day, which by the way the bagel was processed with added sugar, but I really wasn’t paying attention. I wasn’t researching healthy vs unhealthy carbs.

So, when I started going to the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, I learned the difference between the two. You know you hear so many different perspectives about nutrition when it comes to the media, magazines and society. First we hear carbs are the enemy and then all of a sudden, we hear, oh actually carbs make you lose weight, which is what everyone wants to hear.

But, honestly, it’s based on the individual and not every single person gains weight from carbs, not to mention, there is a difference between unhealthy and healthy carbs.

HEALTHY CARBS include:
✔️ Whole grain bread
✔️ brown rice
✔️ quinoa
✔️ oatmeal
✔️ beans
✔️ sweet potato

UNHEALTHY CARBS include:

✔️processed pastries
✔️cookies
✔️white bread
✔️potato chips
✔️white rice
✔️ candy
✔️ sugary cereal

I mean, it’s not going to kill you if you consume a donut once a while. My tip is NOT to deprive yourself because you’ll end up binging later on, which will be worse than actually eating it in the first place. Just know that carbs give you energy, You NEED carbs to keep you going and you shouldn’t be afraid of them. You need them in order to feel full. So, next time you start thinking, “maybe I shouldn’t eat this, remember this article!” Refer to it whenever you need to. And, as always, I’m here if you need me!

If you’d like to schedule a FREE HEALTH CONSULTATION, CLICK ON THE LEARN MORE BUTTON BELOW 👇

Want to know my story?

“We’re not going to conduct an allergy test because it wouldn’t make sense after hearing your symptoms,” said the doctor.

Okay.

Again, another dead end. I was back where I started and felt rather frustrated.

Over the last 6 years, I’ve gone to a total of 7 gastroenterologists. The issue I was having stemmed back to high school. I would eat a dairy product and feel my stomach start to gurgle and then gas would rear its ugly head and I couldn’t let it out because I was in school and felt embarrassed, so there I was spending the whole day keeping it in until I was able to release it. By the time, I let loose, my stomach had already felt like shit and I just didn’t get it.

I tried to avoid dairy, but then it started happening when I ate random food such as pasta sauce, pasta, sandwiches, etc.

In college, it got worse and that’s around the time I told my mother, who took me to a gastro. I’d describe my issues, they’d ask me a few questions, give me a pill and I went on my way. Did those pills work? Hell no!

So, I went to another one and they recommended a cat-scan and an ultrasound and found that I had an ovarian cyst, which they removed. “We’re hoping that that’s the issue,” said my doctor. So was I!

But, unfortunately, it wasn’t. I continued to suffer. I dealt with it for years and then went to see someone else, who gave me another dose of pills. OH, yay!

In 2015, I moved to Tennessee and went to see another gastro, who suggested I eliminate red meat from my diet. And, she was the ONLY doctor who suggested food being the healer, not medicine. A few months later, I went to another gastro, who asked me if I’ve ever had a colonoscopy. Nope! But, I was willing to try it.

They found NOTHING!

It was as if I was a rare medical case because NO ONE could figure out what I had. Someone suggested possibly a slight case of Irritable Bowel Syndrome, but she wasn’t sure.

When I went on a cruise for my honeymoon, I saw a nutritionist, who put me on an elimination diet. To my surprise, it helped a little bit. He explained that I had many toxins and chemicals in my body and told me to stick to these certain foods to see if my symptoms disappeared. They didn’t totally, but my stomach felt so much better!

In 2018, I started IIN and learned so much about elimination diets and how food IS medicine. Looking back had I known that I should have changed my diet instead of listening to the doctor, I might have gotten rid of my stomach problems. BUT, you live and you learn.

Have a similar experience? Let’s chat: adashofhopee@gmail.com!

Would you ever consider going on an elimination diet?

FU, stomach

FU, stomach.

That’s why I say almost on a daily basis to my stomach whenever I feel nauseous or feel like I need to eat before I pass out. You see, I’ve had a sensitive stomach for years. That means, if I eat certain foods that will make me want to sit in the bathroom all day or don’t eat a certain amount of food per day, I’m screwed. In order to get my stomach working properly, there are specific things I need to do.

Firstly, if I eat a meal with a lot of grains, I’ll feel full, but at the same time, I’ll still be hungry. Let me specify that the days I eat a bowl of quinoa + veggies and I’m at work, it just sort of sits at the bottom of my stomach making me want more foods. But, I’m not really hungry. It’s annoying. The only way I can cure my stomach is if I walk. My office isn’t very big, so that’s sort of an issue. However, if I eat that same meal at home and get adequate amount of exercise, I’m fine. Ugh.

Also, let’s say I eat an apple at 3 and don’t eat dinner until 7:00, my stomach will HATE me. Reason being my stomach does not like apples. It will indicate that it will be bothering me the rest of the evening whether I like it or not. Hate you, tummy. I’ve been living with this for a while and wanted to disclose this information because I told you I would be transparent, real and genuine when it comes to discussing my life. If you’re living with a sensitive stomach, I’m here to tell you I’m here for you.

All those times you had to head to the bathroom in a social situation, I get it. How about the times you feel as if you need to pass gas, but your co-worker is in your office talking about something you don’t care about. How about not wanting to complain when you’re starving, but the food won’t be ready for another hour and there are NO snacks around. What about when you thought you brought an extra granola bar, when in fact it’s nowhere in sight. Or, how about when you do make it to the bathroom and three of your co-workers are gabbing about their husbands and you really have to go #2? They stand in front of the mirror giggling, meanwhile it’s just about ready to plop. TMI? Yeah, it’s embarrassing, but it’s reality for us. This is something we need to live with on either a daily, weekly or monthly basis and it’s time to talk about it.

It’s time to stop hiding and finally come forward. It happens to the best of us. And, I can help you - you can trust me when I say I know how you feel. I understand 100% and if you need an ear, please send me an email: adashofhopee@gmail.com.

"Fitting Out"

I learned the concept “fitting out” at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition. Basically, what it means is instead of trying to fit in with the crowd, you should stand out because we’ve taught our brains to be wired unlike the average person. We don’t see the world in the same way the average person sees it.

I’ve witnessed it myself, especially at my last job where the women would emphasize how healthy they were while in reality they were either eating smaller portions or TV dinners they deemed “healthy.” But, it’s not their fault because they were never educated about health + wellness. Not to mention, there’s different theories that emerge all the time in the media, magazines, TV, etc. They definitely do not think the same way I do and that’s okay. But, I guess I’m scared to “fit out” because I want to be accepted. And, the confusion lays in that sometimes I crave attention and other times I just want to bury myself underneath the surface. I guess it all depends on how the day is going.

But, IIN encourages you to be different and proud. They teach this theory because it’s important to embrace who you are instead of being someone you’re not. And, the average person does not spend 3-4 hours at a grocery store looking at the ingredients or looking up recipes for their upcoming grocery list or plan out in their head what their breakfast, lunch and dinner looks like like I do.

“Fitting out” is about saying NO when you’re offered food you don’t normally eat just so you don’t look weird. Yup, that’s me though. Today I ate a slice of dominos pizza despite the fact that I would never be caught dead eating that because it’s so unhealthy. But, no one gets it and I should have spoken up and said politely, “no, thank you,” but I just wanted to fit in with everyone else despite the fact that I knew how unhealthy and bad that piece of pizza was for me, but I kept on eating it.

It’s hard. But, you know what, this concept is about celebrating the fact that I’m different than most people. People may label me as “picky,” but it’s really the fact that I care about what I put in my body. I’m sorry that you don’t care what foods you eat on a daily basis, but I do and I need to respect myself enough to say NO. I need to accept myself as I am. I’m proud of who I am and where I’ve come from and at the end of the day, that should be all that matters. I need to stop hiding who I am and just be ME. And, today I want YOU to be yourself.

Charleston on a Budget

This is a sponsored post.

Charleston, SC is known for its historic charm, well-preserved architecture and history as well as its restaurants. It's a clean city where you feel safe walking around at night and during the day. Most people think going to Charleston will break their bank, but if you find inexpensive activities and restaurants to eat at, you'll be well below your budget.

I'm a health and wellness guru, so when I travel to Charleston, I look for healthy places to eat and activities that exercise the body and the mind. Sure, you can walk around downtown Charleston, but you need transportation to actually get you there. This is where Lowcountry Valet & Shuttle Co. comes to mind. 

                                               Image from Lowcountry Valet & Shuttle Company

                                               Image from Lowcountry Valet & Shuttle Company

Whether you're celebrating an accomplishment, a girls weekend or a bachelorette party, this shuttle service is at your disposal. Why should you feel the need to worry about who is driving, where to park and who will be the designated driver at the end of the evening? Lowcountry has you covered on all accounts and not to mention, they’re budget-friendly!

If you're unaware of the things Charleston has to offer, I got you covered! Not only have I compiled a list of my favorite healthy restaurants, I'm also going to suggest some activities to do while you're there.

I'm obsessed with trying new healthy foods. Before I visit an area, I always do my research on what restaurants I NEED to check out. I love supporting local businesses and tend to stay away from chain restaurants. 

1) Basic Kitchen. Whether you’re in the mood for brunch or dinner, this restaurant has plenty of options! With menu items such as Avocado toast, salmon salad, granola bowl, thai spiced turkey burger, beet burger, you won’t be disappointed. If you’re vegan or can’t eat gluten, they also offer alternatives for you.

2) Verde. Craving salad? Head to this hot spot and create your own. Want a wrap instead? They also offer create your own wraps. You pick your base, add protein, cheese, dressing and additional ingredients. It’s a simple and healthy lunch that will fill you up.

3) Five Loaves Café. If you’re in the mood for a good sandwich, head to this café. They even allow you to pick the type of bread you want. The soups are made fresh daily. The best aspects of this café are they utilize locally sourced ingredients, antibiotic free turkey and chicken, nitrate free bacon, cage free and pasteurized eggs.

4) Beech. Acai bowls are the craze right now, so Beech should be your go-to if you’re looking for a pick me up. If you’re craving something a bit heavier, opt for one of their poke bowls. There are plenty of items to choose from and you’ll honesty want to try them all.

5)  Butcher & Bee. This place prides themselves on making everything from scratch. From their pastries, ice cream, coffee and tea, salads, sandwiches to their desserts, all their items are delicious. Have I tried all of their menu items? Not yet!

Even if you try 2 out of the five restaurants I listed above, you won’t be sorry. And, when you’re done with eating an amazing meal, Lowcountry is there to pick you up and drive you to your next adventure.

Rent one of their classic, traditional or modern cars and ride in style. Whatever mood you’re in Lowcountry has your back!

Next, I’m going to move into some activities you HAVE to try. Not all of these activities are health and wellness-based. Some of them are more so scenic.

1) Charleston Tea Plantation. Do you like hot and iced tea? You’ll definitely want to check out Charleston Tea Plantation. It’s the only plantation in the country. Grab your friends and learn about the history of this plantation. Not to mention, you get free iced and hot tea and can buy souvenirs in their shop.

2) Folly Beach. Want to lounge by the beach? Bring some sunscreen, your favorite bathing suit and your favorite girls along with a bottle of champagne and relax at the beach. If you’re in the mood for a workout, there are plenty of exercises you can do to burn some calories. But, if you’re just looking to chill, just bring the essentials.

3) Patriots Point. Do you like history? If so, you’ll love this museum. Learn more about World War II and the Vitenam War. While this might not be an ideal activity for a girls trip, it’s definitely worth checking out if you’re a history nut.

4) Angel Oak Tree. This tree is said to be 400- 500 years old and is a live southern oak. Take a cameo with your and your best gal pals. It’s worth the drive, it’s free and it’s a must see while in Charleston.

5) Still Soul Studio. Take a class at this studio and work off that brunch. Their classes are definitely budget-friendly and will get your heart rate up. If you’re looking for more of a relaxation session, try their Meditation classes.

You’ll need a service to pick you up and drop you off between the beach, museum and sweating your butt off, so if you’re looking for excellent service, quality prices and a service that fits your needs, give Lowcountry a call today!

My Top 5 Favorite Restaurants Serving Homemade Food in Greenville

Greenville is definitely a foodie city with tons of local restaurants that purchase local ingredients and serve their customers a plate full of just plain good food. I've been here a little over a year and I feel like I haven't even touched the surface. There are still so many more towns and restaurants I want to explore. in SC.

I mean, it's not like I haven't tried some of the CORE restaurants that are often talked about. I mean, Farm Fresh Fast. Need I say more? If you haven't heard of it, you need to go asap. I've even included it on my list below (and you'll find out why!) 

So, if you're as obsessed with the food scene as I am, then you'll visit their hot spots ASAP! 

1. Tupelo Honey Cafe. Why do I love this restaurant so much? In addition to their amazing food, I love the feel of the interior. When I went there a few months ago, I ordered AND devoured my Southern BLT, which was made of Apple cider bacon, dijonnaise, lettuce, tomato, and hot honey. I absolutely love honey and it was the ideal addition to this delectable sandwich. The chicken was crispy and you could tell by its appearance that it was made with care. It wasn’t soggy or overcooked. The honey added a nice sweetness to the meal. Not to mention, the French fries were crisp to perfection and tasted hand-cut instead of served heated from a frozen bag. It's a local staple that you must hit up!

IMG_20180318_105525.jpg

2. Farm Fresh Fast. Recently, FFF created these vegan protein donuts that are actually healthy called Doughnuts Done Right. A healthy donut? Have you heard such a thing? I have not. But, they're also gluten-free, farm-to-table and the best part is... they're locally sourced. On their restaurant menu, they serve items such as a Shroom Swiss Burger, Buffalo Chicken Quesadilla, Spicy Pulled Chicken Wrap and something that sounds rather intriguing Toasted Chicken Bacon Ranch Wrap. The best part about that particular sandwich - for me at least - is it's turkey bacon! So, now that I just made your mouth water, visit FFF asap!

31754556_1624570194325790_9046426475250581504_o.jpg

3. Smoke on the Water. We went to Smoke on my hubby's birthday and not only was their food delicious, our waiter was extremely accommodating. I ordered the Crab Cake Po Boy sandwich with fries while my husband ordered a steak. It was seriously heaven on a plate and the best thing is, all their food is made from scratch. From homemade sauce, an assortment of desserts, sandwiches, burgers, seafood, beef to soups and salads, Smoke has something for everyone. 

4. Grill Marks. If you l-o-v-e burgers, you need to try Grill Marks at the Haywood Mall or Downtown Greenville. I'm not a beef person, but on occasion, I might give in and eat one of their homemade burgers with various toppings. It was honestly THE best burger I've ever eaten and their milkshakes are heaven in a glass. And, oh, I forgot about their fries: crisped to perfection with the right amount of salt. And, if you're not in the mood for a burger, they also have salads and other sandwiches you can try. But, if you're going there for lunch, I recommend grabbing yourself a burger.

5.  LTO Burger Bar. Speaking of burgers, LTO is another one of my favorite burger joints. But, they obviously don't just serve burgers, they also serve tacos, sandwiches, soups, salads, and appetizers that are out of their world. When my hubby and I went there, we ordered their PRETZEL POWER app, which was hot buttered pretzels, grainy mustard, and smoked gouda queso. Obviously I didn't have the queso, but the grainy mustard hit the spot. While I was there, I ordered the Fried Chicken Club, which was a buttermilk-soaked fried chicken breast with shaved ham, bacon, creole mustard aioli served with hand-cut fries. Again, you could tell this crispy piece of chicken was made from scratch and sprinkled with love. The combination between the chicken, bacon, ham and mustard satisfied my craving for something a tad sweet and salty. It was honestly like biting in a small piece of heaven. Is that too extreme? Well, I’m just being honest! 

No matter what restaurant you visit, you won't be sorry! And, if you try all of them, I won't judge!

Why I Chose A Healthier Lifestyle

Two years ago, when we went on our honeymoon, we met two nutritionists who changed our perspective on what we put in our bodies. We were told that most people do not take the time to read food labels on the back on items. If we wanted to lose a few inches and reduce the toxins in our body, we needed to follow this diet for a few months. 

So, we abided.

For a few months straight for breakfast we ate hard-boiled eggs, chose lunch and dinners items such as salad, whole grains and avoided certain foods such as molasses and citric acid. BTW - did you know that citric acid is one of the main ingredients in some of the foods we consume day in and day out? I didn't - until I met with that nutritionists a few years ago.

That's why I opted for a healthier lifestyle. That's why I check ingredients in the foods I eat, That's why I only order from scratch-made, local restaurants around the Upstate.  That's why I bring my lunch to work every day. That's why I'd rather sit across from my husband at our kitchen table eating a home-cooked meal than go out to eat. That's why I'd rather spend 2 1/2 hours in a grocery store making sure I know exactly what I'm putting in my body.

When I wasn't educated about the foods I ate, I'd often bad about my choices and myself in general. Whenever my co-workers order food, I usually always say no because the places they choose are fast food joints or places that serve processed foods.

Now, if you like processed foods, I'm not trying to put you down or change the way you eat. I'm simply stating why I've opted to choose a healthier lifestyle. Processed foods make me feel crappy. Processed foods make me feel hungry, yet empty at the same time. 

And, if you'd like to challenge yourself, instead of grabbing a quick burger at Mickey D's, why not make you and your family a burger. In my opinion, it will be healthier + better for you! Not to mention, you can add all the fixings you want and know what's IN your food.

Let me know your favorite foods to cook!