Mommypotamus 2015-01-29T16:04:32Z http://www.mommypotamus.com/feed/atom/WordPress Heather http://www.mommypotamus.com <![CDATA[How To Make A Diffuser Bracelet For Essential Oils]]> http://www.mommypotamus.com/?p=32825 2015-01-29T16:04:32Z 2015-01-28T14:34:53Z What’s 6,000+ years old, known all around the world . . . and directly tied to your cerebral cortex? Why aromatherapy, of course. The first documented form of aromatherapy comes from ancient Egypt, where aromatic plants were infused into oil to produce perfumes and medicine. (source) As we talked about in my post about how to make diffuser necklaces, [&hellip

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how-to-make-a-diffuser-bracelet

What’s 6,000+ years old, known all around the world

. . . and directly tied to your cerebral cortex? Why aromatherapy, of course. The first documented form of aromatherapy comes from ancient Egypt, where aromatic plants were infused into oil to produce perfumes and medicine. (source)

As we talked about in my post about how to make diffuser necklaces, smells are not only linked to our cerebral cortex (which controls higher functions like cognitive performance, learning, and focus), but also to our limbic system. The limbic system is the intuitive part of our brain that holds our emotions and memories, which is why we can pick up a box of Crayola crayons and instantly be transported back to childhood.

Because of their ability to motivate and inspire us, stores often pipe in fragrances to put us in the mood to buy things. While I’m not a huge fan of that approach, especially considering how toxic synthetic fragrances are, I’m more than happy to use essential oils to motivate and inspire myself, help calm my children, and support health.

In this post I’m going to show you how to make a diffuser bracelet so that you can carry the benefits of essential oils wherever you go. But first, you’re probably wondering . . .

How do I use a diffuser bracelet?

To use your bracelet, place a small amount of essential oil on 1-3 of the clay beads. Make sure to apply the oil on the part of the bead that faces away from your skin. Because essential oils are very concentrated, it’s best to avoid applying them directly to skin undiluted except in very specific situations. For example, lavender can sometimes be helpful when applied neat to a small, minor burn.

Here’s my method: I place one drop of essential oil on a plate and dip the outside of each clay bead in it. When the smell fades I add more essential oil to the bracelet. Some oils have quite a bit of staying power and can last for several days, while others will fade more quickly.

diy-diffuser-bracelet

How To Make A Diffuser Bracelet For Essential Oils

Supplies

  • Air dry clay in the color of your choice – Find terra cotta here and white clay here
  • Decorative beads ( I used these Amazonite stone beads in the 14 mm size. They come in 15 inch strands.)
  • Small stamps (Optional – I used some alphabet letter stamps to add initials to my bracelets)
  • Memory coil (use the thickest possible coil that will fit through your beads)
  • Needle-nose pliers for jewelry (Mine are similar to this and worked fine, but these would work even better)
  • Wire cutters (like these)
  • Glue (Superglue or hot glue would work. Even clear Elmer’s might work)
  • Wax paper
  • Toothpicks or skewers (Optional, only needed if you are making beads)

Directions

how-to-make-clay-beads

Take a pinch of clay and roll it into a ball that is about the same size as your other beads.

homemade-clay-bead-tutorial

Using a toothpick or wooden skewer, poke a hole through the center of the bead. If desired, press gently with stamps to add design. I used some alphabet letters to add initials to the beads. Allow beads to dry for 24 – 48 hours.

how-to-make-diffuser-jewelry

Measure your wrist (or guesstimate wrist size if this is a gift). Then use the wire cutters to trim off a piece of memory coil for your bracelet. Make it a little longer than you think you need because the beads will slightly reduce the overall circumference of the inside of the bracelet.

aromatherapy-bracelet-diy

Now grab your needle-nose pliers and use the very tip of the plier to grab the very tip of the memory coil.

how-to-make-essential-oil-bracelet

Next, curl the coil into a small circle/oval.

essential-oil-bracelet-tutorial

This is what it should look like when you’re done.

aromatherapy-bracelet

String on your beads, adding the clay beads throughout.

diy-diffuser-jewelry

When all your beads have been added your bracelet should look something like this. Now use your needle-nose pliers to create a hook to go through the loop. For a bracelet situated like the one in the photo above, you’ll want to bend the wire down toward the table so that the loop easily and naturally slides through the loop.

IMG_1210

The first time I made these bracelets the memory wire was so thick that they held the beads in place when worn. However, the second set rolled around a little, so I placed a dab of glue between the clay beads and the beads that surround them. To make the glue discreet, I applied it toward the inside of the bracelet where the beads touch.  The glue prevents the beads from rolling around when worn. Elmer’s clear glue would might work, but we make our own craft glue so I didn’t have any on hand to test with. We keep superglue for emergencies, so that’s what I used.

IMG_1214

Care Instructions

Do not allow bracelet to come into contact with water.

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Heather http://www.mommypotamus.com <![CDATA[GIVEAWAY: Say Buh-Bye To Plastic Wrap With These Alternatives ($200 Value)]]> http://www.mommypotamus.com/?p=32830 2015-01-26T15:41:36Z 2015-01-26T15:41:36Z Sometimes real food gets a bum wrap. But it doesn’t have to! What do you get when your favorite cling wrap manufacturer replaces hormone disrupting PVC and DEPA chemicals in their formula? Most likely, just a new formula with different hormone disruptors. Unfortunately we’ll have to guess what those chemicals might be, because although many companies have recently reformulated, [&hellip

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bees-wrap-giveaway

Sometimes real food gets a bum wrap. But it doesn’t have to!

What do you get when your favorite cling wrap manufacturer replaces hormone disrupting PVC and DEPA chemicals in their formula? Most likely, just a new formula with different hormone disruptors. Unfortunately we’ll have to guess what those chemicals might be, because although many companies have recently reformulated, they’re not required to tell us what’s in their products.

What we do know for sure is that those mysterious chemicals leach into our food, and that’s just sad considering how hard we work to keep our food as chemical free as possible. But real food doesn’t have to get a bum wrap – if you’d like to ditch the toxic stuff but don’t want to make your own healthy versionn, this giveaway is for you. My friends at MightyNest have generously donated two “Say Buh-Bye To Plastic Wrap” kitchen makeovers totalling $100+ each!

Here’s what’s included:

Plus this adorable Mushroom Flour Sack Tea Towel made from organic cotton. My kitchen just got “the works” thanks to MightyNest, and I LOVE how much easier it’s made cleaning up after meals.

Why You’ll ♥ These Plastic Wrap Alternatives

giveaway-bees-wrap

You guys, Bees Wrap is the BEES KNEES. They’re reusable, and they hug bowls with just the right amount of cling thanks to a mix of organic cotton muslin, beeswax, jojoba oil and tree resin.

They’re perfect for wrapping snacks, fruit, veggies, cheese, bread and even bowls, and the beeswax + sandwich wrap can be sealed by winding a string around an embossed wooden button.

Oh, and have I mentioned how easy they are to care for? Just wash in cool water with mild dish soap and allow to air dry.

lekue-giveaway

Never heard of Lékué lids? Here’s what you need to know - they save you time washing dishes.

Made from food grade silicone, they can be used as a cover on pots to help retain heat after cooking, for leftovers, and for outdoor use to keep bugs away from food.

And while that’s great, lets get back to the “saving time washing dishes” part. Lékué lids form a vacuum seal that keeps food fresh, so you can make a pot of soup and pop it directly into the fridge instead of shlepping it into mason jars. Not only will you not have to dirty extra dishes, it makes reheating easier. Plus, they’re great for keeping salads and prepped veggies fresh.

lekue-vacuum-seal-lid

Just put the lid on and it forms a vacuum seal. That’s me lifting a full glass bowl by the lid :)

When you’re done with a lid, just run it through the dishwasher. Easy peasy.

Now, have you ever found yourself digging through a pile of jar lids because you can’t find the right size? Then you totally get the genius ofLékués’ stretchy lids. They fit a variety of sizes, including standard mason jars and that one wonky jar you can never find the lid for. They can even be wrapped over fruit and vegetable halves and some bowls, depending on which size you have.

Oh, and they have the same vacuum seal suction effect that helps keep your food super fresh. Pretty neat, huh?

plastic-wrap-replacement-giveaway

Ready To Say Buh-Bye To Plastic Wrap?

Enter via the widget below, and you’ll be entered to win one of TWO prizes valued at over $100 each. Mighty Nest will also give a $100 cash donation to each winners local school!

What’s your biggest obstacle to ditching plastic wrap?

Leave a comment and let us know!

This giveaway is sponsored by Mighty Nest, a company committed to helping families make simple changes for a healthier life. Thank you for supporting the companies I love, and allowing me to share them with you.

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Heather http://www.mommypotamus.com <![CDATA[How To Get Rid Of Static Cling Naturally]]> http://www.mommypotamus.com/?p=32804 2015-01-27T20:28:33Z 2015-01-23T19:49:14Z   Static Cling Is Really Useful Stuff . . . You can use it to do party tricks, shock family members like you did when you were little (remember footie pajamas?), and even turn your cat into a mobile wallet . . . But when it comes to laundry, static cling is decidedly not useful. [&hellip

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 get-rid-static-cling

Static Cling Is Really Useful Stuff . . .

You can use it to do party tricks, shock family members like you did when you were little (remember footie pajamas?), and even turn your cat into a mobile wallet . . .

static-cling-cat

But when it comes to laundry, static cling is decidedly not useful. No one likes prying each piece of clothing apart, only to have those pieces stick to them as they try to fold. And although running errands with your five year-old’s undies plastered to your back may make a great story, it’s better if it’s someone else’s story.

Obviously, it’s still preferable to using toxic dryer sheets, which according to this study contain many chemicals not disclosed on the label –  even some which are considered by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to have no known safe exposure level.

I’ve been using wool dryer balls to reduce static for a long time with great results, but depending on your climate that may not be enough. Fortunately, I have a tip that will help you get rid of static cling naturally!

Before I get to that, though, I want to mention one option that definitely works but may have a downside. Back when I was researching DIY Non-Toxic Cleaning Recipes, I learned that adding one or two plum-sized balls of tightly rolled aluminum foil virtually eliminates static for a lot of people. I haven’t tried it because:

A) I don’t have any foil on hand

B) I’m not sure how I feel about using it for this purpose. Tin foil leaches into food when heated, so my guess is that some of the aluminum would transfer to clothes. Is that a big deal? I think everyone had to decide for themselves.

If the tin foil option is not for you, I’ve got a tip from Sunny, a crunchy mama from my community back home who happens to have a chemistry chemistry degree and a healthy dose of curiosity.

static-cling-naturally

How To Get Rid Of Static Cling Naturally

Here’s the email Sunny sent me:

“We bought a salt lamp, so I had just been reading on the benefits when the weather turned colder here.  I was inspired to see if the same benefits of the lamp worked for our static problem in the clothes dryer, since we don’t use fabric softener or dryer sheets.  For years, we have just been living with the static.  Anyway, I put some rock salt (pink Himalayan) into a bouquet garni bag, threw it in the dryer and IT WORKS!  I would say our static is down 95%.  Even fleece coats are static free, but weirdly I have one maxi skirt that is still bad.  I’ll keep experimenting to see if I can figure that out.  But overall it is a win!”

Obviously, I had to know if it would work for me. Since the potami provide me with a nearly endless supply of test material, er, laundry, I got to work right away. I don’t usually have static issues thanks to my wool dryer balls, so I decided to leave them out for a load and test the salt method.

I put my fleece robe in the dryer with a load of clothes to create a nice, staticky mess, then added the salt bag to see if it would make a different. It totally did, though I had to wet the bag a little because moisture seems to bring out the anti-static properties of the salt. Thank you, Sunny!

For those of you who like step-by-step instructions, here you go:

Himalayan Sea Salt Bag For Laundry

Supplies

Directions

1. Place salt inside the bag and seal it. I was a little worried that the bag would open in the dryer so I tied the drawstrings together around the neck.

2. Place himalayan salt bag in with wet clothes and dry as normal. Remove laundry from dryer and set sachet aside for use with future loads.

Why does it work?

We know that “Static cling is when light objects, such as clothing, have opposite static charges. Our clothes have static cling because they were touching in a dry environment (the dryer) and they exchanged electrons. The object that lost electrons became positively charged while the object that gained electrons became negatively charged. And opposites, as we all know, attract.” (source)

Now I’m just guessing, but here’s my theory: When heat and moisture are present, Himalayan salt releases a negative charge. Maybe the presence of salt causes the overall atmosphere of the dryer to be primarily negatively charged, thus reducing or eliminating the “opposites attract” effect.

However it works, the important thing to know is that IT WORKS.

Happy laundry day, y’all!

Photocredit: Anomalous4

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Heather http://www.mommypotamus.com <![CDATA[Bread Pudding Recipe (Gluten-Free, Paleo)]]> http://www.mommypotamus.com/?p=32723 2015-01-22T04:34:54Z 2015-01-21T20:07:20Z Have you ever tried to make whipped cream . . . and accidentally made butter instead? Or attempted to create a grain-free version of your favorite bread pudding recipe and made bread soup instead? Oh . . . well . . . I did both of those things this week.  I also typed a “I CAN SEE YOU” into a public [&hellip

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gluten-free-bread-pudding

Have you ever tried to make whipped cream

. . . and accidentally made butter instead? Or attempted to create a grain-free version of your favorite bread pudding recipe and made bread soup instead? Oh . . . well . . . I did both of those things this week. 

I also typed a “I CAN SEE YOU” into a public webinar I was participating in. I meant to send it as a flirty Skype message to Daddypotamus, who was waiting for me outside a coffee shop, but instead I just creeped out a bunch of parents who wanted to learn about positive parenting techniques. So basically it was a normal week.  

Fortunately, Daddypotamus patiently ate his way through several batches of this gluten-free bread pudding until I got it just right. It’s rich, chock full of raisins and cinnamon, and delicious both hot and cold. Though you can serve it with whipped cream or drizzled in vanilla sauce (recipe below), it’s moist enough to enjoy on its own.

homemade-gluten-free-bread-pudding recipe

gluten-free-bread-pudding-recipe

Gluten-Free Bread Pudding Recipe

Ingredients

For the coconut flour bread:

To turn your coconut flour bread into bread pudding, you’ll need:

Special Equipment

1.5 – 2 quart covered baking dish or dutch oven (this Lodge Dutch oven would work)

Instructions

To make the coconut flour bread:

1. Preheat your oven to 350F

2. In a small bowl, whisk together coconut flour salt and baking powder.

3. In a separate medium bowl, whisk eggs, coconut oil/butter and milk together

4. Slowly add the flour mixture to the liquid and mix until there are no lumps. Pour mixture into a lightly oiled 8×8 inch baking pan and bake for about 30 minutes. You’ll know it’s ready when you can insert a toothpick into the center and it comes out clean.

To make your coconut flour bread into bread pudding.

For The Bread Pudding

1. Melt coconut oil/butter in a medium-sized pot over low heat. When fully melted, remove from heat and add cream, eggs, sucanat/coconut sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and vanilla. Whisk until thoroughly combined.

2. Add coconut flour bread to your baking dish/Dutch oven. Sprinkle raisins over the top and mix them in a little, then pour the liquid in. If needed, dunk your bread cubes until they are fully coated in liquid.

3. Bake at 350F for 1 hour – 1 hour 15 minutes, or until the pudding is set in the middle.

Vanilla Sauce

Ingredients

Directions

Place ingredients in a saucepan and stir over medium heat for 5 minutes. Set aside for 5 minutes, then pour on warm bread pudding.

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Heather http://www.mommypotamus.com <![CDATA[How To Make A Diffuser Necklace For Essential Oils]]> http://www.mommypotamus.com/?p=32521 2015-01-28T19:31:05Z 2015-01-19T16:58:42Z So, imagine you’re having lunch with a wild Bactrian camel . . . and the subject turns to which one of you has the more impressive olfactory capabilities. The camel tells you that he can smell water from 50 miles away, and you’re like “Eh, that’s cool, but I can wave this little bottle under [&hellip

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how-to-make-diffuser-necklace-essential-oils

So, imagine you’re having lunch with a wild Bactrian camel

. . . and the subject turns to which one of you has the more impressive olfactory capabilities. The camel tells you that he can smell water from 50 miles away, and you’re like “Eh, that’s cool, but I can wave this little bottle under my nose and stop a bad mood in its tracks, improve my memory, trigger a burst of creativity, and support my immune system.”

In my book, you totally win. Unlike other senses which are processed through the thalamus, our sense of smell has a direct line of access to the cerebral cortex. With this knowledge we can incorporate essential oils into our lives in a way that enhances cognitive performance, memory, focus and creativity. One study found that rosemary oil can increase memory by up to 75%, while this study found that it can improve both speed and accuracy during cognitive tasks.

But really, that’s not the most impressive part. Smells are also deeply interconnected with our limbic system – the part of ourselves that connects, feels, experiences intuition, inspires and motivates. Essential oils can help to soothe and calm us, or invigorate us and lift our mood.

As you may know, I’m currently working toward my aromatherapy certification. One of the things I have learned along the way is that people often discount the inhalation method of using essential oils, but it is often the best (and most effective!) method.

In this post I’m going to show you how to make a diffuser necklace so that you can carry the benefits of essential oils wherever you go.

But before we get to that, here’ s a preview of a tutorial for aromatherapy bracelets that I’ll be posting soon. I’m so excited to share it with you!

how-to-diffuser-bracelet

So how do I use a diffuser necklace?

Great question. Just apply 1-3 drops to the top of your diffuser necklace – the part that doesn’t touch your clothes when you put it on – and you’re ready to go. Refresh as needed. Some oils have quite a bit of staying power and can last for several days, while others will fade more quickly.

how-to-make-diffuser-necklace

How To Make An Essential Oil Diffuser Necklace

Supplies

  • Air dry clay in the color of your choice – Find terra cotta here and white clay here
  • Lid, cap or cookie cutter in the size and shape you want your pendant to be (I used a vodka bottle cap that I’d purchased to make homemade vanilla extract)
  • Straw or pen cap
  • Cording (I used 10 lb cording for the necklaces with decorative beads, and thicker 48 lb cording for those without. You can find 10 lb here, or you can buy them as a set with a few other types here)
  • Wax paper
  • Decorative beads (Optional – I used these Amazonite stone beads in the 14mm size. They come in 15 inch strands, so I used the leftovers to make a few aromatherapy bracelets)
  • Stamp (Optional, adds a bit of design. I used this stamp of old French writing to create mine.)
  • Toothpicks or skewers (Optional, only needed if you are making beads)
  • Fine grit sandpaper (Optional – Finished pieces have smoother edges with light sanding)
  • Superglue (Optional)

Directions

how-to-make-clay-diffuser-necklace

On a surface covered with wax paper, roll out your clay until it is about 1/4 inch thick.

how-to-make-a-clay-diffuser-necklace

If you notice air bubbles as you begin to roll, use a toothpick or wooden skewer to pop them and then continue on. Air bubbles are not a problem for air dry clay like they are with kiln-fired clay, but popping the air bubbles will result in a smoother surface to work with.

how-to-make-a-diffuser-necklace-for-essential-oils

Press lid, cap or cookie cutter into the clay to create your pendant shape.

how-to-make-a-clay-diffuser-necklace-for-essential-oils

Now add the hole that you will string your pendant with. For the larger holes pictured above we used a Sharpie pen cap with the clip bent so that it was out of the way . . .

diy-essential-oil-diffuser-necklace-tutorial

diy-diffuser-necklace

And for the smaller holes we used a straw . . .

homemade-diffuser-necklace

If you’re using a stamp to add design, now is the time to press it into the clay.

diffuser-necklace-stamp

We did some with and some without.

diffuser-necklace-tutorial

Peel away the clay from your pendant and allow it to dry for 1-2 days.

diffuser-necklace-how-to-make

When the pendant is dry, lightly sand away any rough edges.

homemade-essential-oil-necklace

Now it’s time to string your pendant. Decide what length you want it to be – since it doesn’t have a clasp you’ll want to make sure it will fit over your head. After you trim the amount of cord you’ll need, fold it in have and slip the middle of the cord through the back of the hole in the pendant to the front. You now have a loop.

diy-essential-oil-necklace

Then take the tail of the cord and slide it through the loop. Tighten as needed.

essential-oil-diffuser-necklace

If desired, add a bead for decoration. Because the holes in my beads were so small it was very difficult to thread two pieces of cord through. I threaded the first cord, then added a thin layer of superglue to the tip of the second cord and allowed it to harden. Once it was stiff I was able to thread it through.

Care Instructions

Do not allow necklace to come into contact with water.

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Heather http://www.mommypotamus.com <![CDATA[How To Make Wool Dryer Balls]]> http://www.mommypotamus.com/?p=32694 2015-01-23T12:40:00Z 2015-01-16T16:28:06Z Have you met the Laundry Fairy? I have, but at my house all she does is steal socks and dump loose change everywhere. Since she doesn’t actually do laundry, I have to find ways to keep things interesting all by myself. Set up message board for all the socks seeking sole mates? Check! Channel my inner science nerd [&hellip

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how to make wool dryer balls

Have you met the Laundry Fairy?

I have, but at my house all she does is steal socks and dump loose change everywhere. Since she doesn’t actually do laundry, I have to find ways to keep things interesting all by myself.

Set up message board for all the socks seeking sole mates? Check!

Channel my inner science nerd and develop recipes for homemade powdered laundry detergent and liquid detergent? Check!

Wash the same load of laundry three times because I keep forgetting it in the dryer? Umm, that’s not actually interesting at all. 

Fortunately, I’ve found a way to help my dryer keep up with my washer, thus eliminating those awkward times when you’re waiting to move a load over. They’re wool dryer balls. In this post I’m going to show you how to make them, but first you’re probably wondering why you’d want to.

(Pssst. I’m going to cover the benefits of wool dryer balls in just a minute, but first I want to let you know about a free mini-course dedicated to helping you discover your creative side. It’s only available for one more day, so register now!)

Benefits Of Wool Dryer Balls

Saves time and money – Each load is done faster, which reduces your energy costs. Plus unlike dryer sheets and fabric softener, they’re typically good for 1000+ loads of laundry.

Softens and fluffs without toxic chemicals – As I wrote about here, “when several top laundry products/ air fresheners were tested they were found to contain at least one chemical labeled as toxic or hazardous by federal law, including the active ingredient in paint thinner. (source)

Interestingly, none of the chemicals were listed on the label, and five of the six products emitted chemicals which are considered by the Environmental Protection Agency to have no safe exposure level.” Dryer balls naturally soften as the felted wool gently rubs against clothing fibers, and they fluff by separating clothes that would otherwise clump together.

Reduces static – If over time you notice that they’re not doing this as well, put them in a sock or pantyhose and run them through a wash cycle.

Doesn’t diminish towel absorbency + cloth diaper safe – Commercial fabric softeners coat fibers with a thin layer of chemicals, thus reducing the absorbency and performance of things like towels and cloth diapers. (source) Wool dryer balls soften without chemicals.

How Many Do I Need?

Wool dryer balls work by separating clothes so that warm air circulates better. The more you have the more pronounced the effects – faster drying time, softer clothes, less static cling, and lower energy usage. Some people use just two, while others use up to twelves for large loads. How many you use is really up to you.

I’m Not Feeling Crafty. Can I Buy Them Instead?

Yep. They’re pretty easy to make while watching a movie, but if you’d prefer to order some you can find them here.

 Save time and money, reduce static cling and ditch toxic fabric softeners with homemade wool dryer balls. Here's how to make them.

How To Make Wool Dryer Balls

Make 2-4 medium-sized dryer balls

Equipment

  • 1 – 2 skeins of 100% wool yarn (make sure the yarn is NOT washable, otherwise it won’t felt properly)
  • large-eyed felting needle or paint key (used to open paint cans – often free at hardware stores)
  • pantyhose

homemade-wool-dryer-balls

Step 1: Make a small “V” with your index and middle fingers, then wrap yarn around them 10- 15 times. Remove your fingers from the yarn.

wool-dryer-ball-tutorial

Step 2: Pinch the middle of the coiled yarn and wrap the center 10-15 times.

easy-homemade-wool-dryer-balls

Step 3: Continue wrapping until yarn forms a ball. Though it may seem more egg-shaped at first it will happen! Keep going until your dryer ball reaches the size you prefer. Mine are roughly the size of tennis balls.

wool-dryer-balls-with-essential-oils

Step 4: When the ball is about the size you want, thread the yarn through the needle and weave it over and under the exterior threads several times. Trim off any unused yarn.

If you don’t have a felting needle, you can use a paint key. Just slide the key under a few threads, then take the tail and wrap it around the tip of the key a few times before pulling it through. Do that several times so that the tail is woven in well, then trim off any unused yarn.

how-to-make-dryer-balls

Step 5: Place dryer balls in pantyhose, making sure to tie a knot between each one so they have their own separate compartments, then toss them in the washing machine and run through a hot cycle two or three times. Place in dryer and then remove from pantyhose. Voila, your dryer balls are ready!

How To Use Wool Dryer Balls

Simply toss them into the dryer with your wet clothes – that’s it! Or if you want to use them as a replacement for scented dryer sheets, here’s what you need to do:

Run your clothes through an entire dryer cycle with the dryer balls. When the clothes are dry, remove two of the dryer balls and place about 3-5 drops of essential oil on each of them. Toss them back in the dryer and turn it on for 10-15 minutes on a “no heat” cycle. Remove, fluff and fold!

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Heather http://www.mommypotamus.com <![CDATA[Get Kids To Listen Without Nagging, Reminding, Or Yelling (Free Webinar)]]> http://www.mommypotamus.com/?p=32705 2015-01-15T15:38:36Z 2015-01-14T05:12:44Z So, the universe emailed me last summer The potami had nearly broken the sound barrier with high-pitched whining that day, and I remember telling Daddypotamus that as much as I love real food e-courses, I wish someone would put together an online parenting class. Please tell me I am not alone in this. You guys, I adore [&hellip

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GKL-200 X 600_noBorder

So, the universe emailed me last summer

The potami had nearly broken the sound barrier with high-pitched whining that day, and I remember telling Daddypotamus that as much as I love real food e-courses, I wish someone would put together an online parenting class.

Please tell me I am not alone in this.

You guys, I adore my kids. They are hilarious, smart, cuddly balls of awesome. But it’s not all sunshine and roses, and there are days I reach into my parenting toolbox and wonder why it is full of old kombucha bottles instead of, you know, ACTUAL PARENTING TOOLS. Not that I don’t have any, but it’s a easier to sink a nail into the wall with a hammer than a spoon, you know? Having tools is good . . . having the appropriate tools for a particular situation is better. As the potami have gotten older, I’ve felt the need to add more tools, but I didn’t know where to start.

So there I was, practically begging for help . . .

And then – BOOM – I get an email from Amy McCready, founder of Positive Parenting Solutions & TODAY Show contributor. Amy offered me access to some of her training materials, and I jumped at the chance. After all, when you put it out there that you **really** want to take a parenting class and one arrives in your inbox, you take the class.

It was exactly what I needed. That’s why I’m thrilled to announce that I am partnering with Amy to offer a 2 FREE LIVE training webinars, and you’re invited!

If your children are between the ages of 2½ – 16 and your current parenting strategies aren’t working anymore, you don’t want to miss this. Amy will equip you with proven tools for your most frustrating discipline dilemmas, including the 5 R’s of Fair & Effective Consequences. This hour-long investment is absolutely worth the peace it will bring to your home.

2-PPS Webinar Image

Ready To Sign Up? Here’s How It Works

Join us NEXT TUESDAY, January 20 at either 1PM or 9PM EST. I will be hosting a real-time chat during both live webinars so we can connect.

The number of available spots is limited, so register early. Click here to save your spot.

Also, feel free to forward this to your friends if you think they’d be interested.

Sign Up Here → Free Webinar: Get Kids To Listen Without Nagging, Reminding, Or Yelling

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Heather http://www.mommypotamus.com <![CDATA[Homemade Liquid Laundry Detergent]]> http://www.mommypotamus.com/?p=32652 2015-01-21T21:13:30Z 2015-01-12T19:48:20Z Around here, normal is just a setting on the dryer We rub dirt in our armpits, formulate makeup from kitchen ingredients, and use a garden weed as our first aid ointment, but since we’re not nudists we also have to do laundry once in awhile. Or fifty times a day.  After years of using our powdered homemade [&hellip

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homemade-liquid-laundry-detergent-recipe

Around here, normal is just a setting on the dryer

We rub dirt in our armpits, formulate makeup from kitchen ingredients, and use a garden weed as our first aid ointment, but since we’re not nudists we also have to do laundry once in awhile. Or fifty times a day. 

After years of using our powdered homemade laundry detergent, I’m still just as in love with it as ever. Living on a farm gives me lots of opportunities to test its cleaning power, and it’s definitely up to the challenge. However, many of you have asked for a liquid laundry detergent recipe, so I decided to do a little research.

Though the phrase “just add water” may work for a lot of things – gremlins and sea monkeys for example – it turns out it doesn’t work for my powdered detergent. That’s because washing soda loses potency when suspended in water for more than a few days, and even borax versions don’t seem to have the staying power of their powdered counterparts.

So is there something that DOES work? Yes! I’ve recently been experimenting with a homemade shampoo derived from soap nuts, and though my hair care formula is not “there” yet I happened upon a FANTASTIC recipe for liquid laundry detergent.

soap-nut-liquid-laundry-detergent

But I heard they don’t work!

Soap “nuts” are actually berries that contain saponin – an all-natural detergent. They have been used to make soap for thousand of years in by many cultures, but you may have heard in crunchy circles that they’re duds.

That’s because unlike products with chemical foaming agents such as sodium lauryl sulfate – aka SLS, which has been linked to eye and skin irritation, organ toxicity, reproductive toxicity, and environmental toxicity –  they don’t produce a ton of suds. (source) Fortunately for us, those synthetic foaming agents are really just for show – we don’t need them to get clothes clean.

“After numerous generations and billions of dollars spent to teach you that suds equal cleaning, it is not easy for me to change that perception in a few sentences. Suds indicate the PRESENCE of a surfactant – most of which are chemical surfactants (like the infamous SLS). A surfactant is something that reduces water’s surface tension allowing the water it to break up dirt, grease and grime from fabrics (or anything). . . It improves cleaning results. It is also VERY rapidly consumed by the dirty substances (it’s doing its job). Standard detergents are formulated with additives that CONTINUE to produce suds – not because they are needed, but rather because you WANT to see them . . . . Continued sudsing is NOT required for effective cleaning – not at all. Today’s new HE washers prove this! They REQUIRE detergents that produce very little suds. Suds can actually damage an HE washer.” (Source: Soap Nuts Pro)

Or as Christopher Sicurella, founder of NaturOli, put it:

“Experiment and let the results speak for themselves . . . do not use suds as a barometer to gauge results. Results are determined when your laundry has dried. Does it look and smell clean and fresh? Is it soft and absorbent? This is where you gauge results. This is where it counts. I had to laugh one day as a woman explained her first experience with soap nuts. She said, “I felt like I was just washing in water.” But stood in amazement at the dirtiness of the water coming from a “not all that dirty” load of laundry. She was astonished at how fresh, clean and soft her laundry came out. (She’s another one who will never look back.)” (source)

So there it is: Money doesn’t grow on trees, but soap really does! And you can use it to clean and soften your laundry – how amazing is that?

Why make soap nuts into a liquid?

Are you wondering why you can’t just toss some soap berries into the wash? Well, you actually can, but there are a couple of catches:

  • Soap berries can be used for several washes, but you have to keep track of how many times each berry has been used and you need to store them properly between washes
  • If you’re washing in cold water you’ll need to soak the nuts in hot water for 5-10 minutes before adding them.
  • You also need to remove them before tossing clothes in the dryer

Personally, I was always accidentally throwing my soap nuts into the dryer or forgetting how many loads I’d done with them. I have other things to keep track of!

Soap nuts liquid is much more like traditional liquid laundry detergent, and it’s just easier in my opinion.

Will soap nuts stain my clothes?

Soap nut shells (which are pictured in this post) will not stain clothes at all. However, the seeds inside the soap nuts can stain. Make sure to only buy deseeded soap nuts. I like this brand.

Tips for getting the best results

  • Use a presoak cycle
  • Don’t overfill the washing machine – in order for dirt and grime to wash away the clothes need room to agitate
  • For whites, use an oxygen-based bleach such as Oxyclean Free to brighten.

Easy homemade liquid laundry detergent made from soap nuts. Great for regular laundry AND cloth diapers. #homemadelaundrydetergent

Homemade Liquid Laundry Detergent

Makes about 24 oz. detergent (about 12-14 loads)

Ingredients

  • 24 – 30 soap nuts (Quality can vary widely from company to company. I like this brand.)
  • 12 cups water
  • 1 teaspoon citric acid or 2 teaspoons salt (Optional. Helps to keep the liquid fresh longer. I use this non-GMO citric acid as a dishwashing rinse aid)
  • 16-20 drops essential oils (optional, I like to use lemon or tea tree)

Instructions

Add soap nuts and water to a pot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for about an hour. You’ll know your soap is ready when the soap berries are light tan or grey – that’s a sign that all the wonderful saponin has been extracted.

Allow the soap to cool and strain out the soap nuts. If you are adding citric acid or salt to extend the shelf life, this is the the point in the process to do that.

To add citric acid: Dissolve 1 teaspoon citric acid into 2 tablespoons hot water and add it to your homemade laundry soap.

To add salt: Dissolve 2 teaspoons salt into 3-4 tablespoons hot water and add it to your homemade laundry soap.

How To Use Soap Nuts Liquid Laundry Detergent

Shake before using. Generally, 2-4 tablespoons per load is a good rule of thumb. If your kids crawled through mud, use more. If it’s a small or light load, use less. You may also find that you need to increase the amount used if your water is very, VERY hard. However, in most cases 3-4 tablespoons should work well.

Shelf Life & Storage

Soap berries are just that – berries. When you make soap nut laundry detergent you are essentially making fruit juice. Of course, this kind of fruit is not edible, but it sure does clean well. As you may have guessed, like all fruit juices it will eventually ferment without a preservative. While that’s awesome for making wine, it’s not great for soap. How will you know if this has happened? It’s easy. Fresh soap nuts liquid has a “light apple juice” smell, while soap that has gone bad will smell sour. (source)

In other words, you’ll know. Below are some general shelf life and storage guidelines you may find helpful:

Store your soap nuts liquid in a clean, airtight jar out of direct sunlight. It will last for 1-2 weeks at room temperature, or about 3-5 weeks in the fridge. As described in the instructions above, you can add citric acid or salt to extend the life of your liquid. Sea salt will also work, though not quite as well.

Another option is to freeze the liquid in an ice cube tray and then toss a few cubes in per wash. This tray can hold 4 tablespoons of liquid per ice cube, which is handy.

FAQ’s

I have a high efficiency (HE) washer. Can I use this recipe?

Yep. It’s actually ideal because as mentioned above it’s a low sudsing formula.

I’m allergic to nuts. Can I use soap nuts?

Yes again. Soap nuts aren’t actually nuts – they’re berries.

Will This Work For Cloth Diapers?

Absolutely. “Soap nuts are wonderful for washing cloth diapers. Unlike chemical detergents, they will not clog the fabric causing the diaper to loose its absorbency and they will not cause diaper rash. In addition, soap nuts will clean and remove detergent residue from diapers.” (Source: NaturoliFind their soap nuts here)

Questions? Leave a comment below!

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Heather http://www.mommypotamus.com <![CDATA[Strawberry Shortcake Biscuits (Grain-Free, Dairy-Free)]]> http://www.mommypotamus.com/?p=32631 2015-01-21T21:06:33Z 2015-01-08T15:40:46Z Note From Mommypotamus: Today’s recipe for one of my favorite Southern comfort foods comes from Kelly of The Nourishing Home. It’s part of a collection of over 100 irresistible grain-free, dairy-free recipes from her new cookbook – Everyday Grain-Free Baking! From breads, biscuits and muffins to savory snacks and decadent treats, you’ll find step-by-step instructions, beautiful color photographs and [&hellip

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Strawberry Shortcake Biscuits

Note From Mommypotamus: Today’s recipe for one of my favorite Southern comfort foods comes from Kelly of The Nourishing Home. It’s part of a collection of over 100 irresistible grain-free, dairy-free recipes from her new cookbook – Everyday Grain-Free Baking!

From breads, biscuits and muffins to savory snacks and decadent treats, you’ll find step-by-step instructions, beautiful color photographs and helpful tips & tidbits to make all of your gluten-free baking adventures a delicious success! Click here for a sneak peek at Kelly’s beautiful new cookbook.

Growing up in the South, there was no shortage . . .

Of home-baked sugar-laden treats in our home. In fact, some of my most cherished childhood memories center round cooking, baking and enjoying Southern-style meals with family and friends.

So when I began my grain-free journey as a means of finding relief and healing from several chronic autoimmune conditions, I became passionate about finding delicious and healthy ways to transform those familiar favorite dishes from my childhood into delightful grain-free and refined-sugar-free creations that everyone can enjoy – whether or not they’re living gluten-free or grain-free.

This simple, yet decadent, strawberry shortcake recipe is one of my family’s favorite examples of how easy it is to transform a classic favorite into a healthy treat everyone loves. In fact, you have my promise that no one will even know it’s grain-free, unless of course, you tell them!

Plus, this recipe takes just minutes to make – simply top these beautiful biscuits with heaping spoonfuls of juicy strawberries and a dollop of homemade whipped coconut cream for a wholesome sweet treat that’s certain to bring a smile to everyone’s face.

Yet, if fresh or frozen strawberries aren’t available in your neck of the woods, there’s no need to fret. This is one delightful recipe that you can truly enjoy year-round. That’s because these tasty biscuits are perfect topped with virtually any fruit of your choice.

In the winter, when kiwi fruit is in peak season, there’s nothing as wonderful as topping these delightful biscuits with fresh sliced kiwi and bananas. And when summer arrives, we love to pile on fresh sliced peaches, or mounds of summer berries, such as raspberries and blackberries.

So whichever seasonal fruit tickles your fancy, I hope these special Southern-style shortcake biscuits become a cherished favorite in your home too!

This recipe is simple but AMAZING. If strawberries aren't in season, check out her suggestions for other fruits that go well with this recipe. #grainfree #paleodesserts #strawberryshortcake

everyday-grain-free-baking-cookbookStrawberry Shortcake Biscuits

Recipe reprinted with permission from Everyday Grain-Free Baking
Makes 6 Shortcakes

Ingredients

Shortcake Biscuits
2½ cups blanched almond flour
½ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon sea salt
¼ cup butter or coconut oil, melted
1 tablespoon pure honey
2 large eggs
¼ teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Strawberry Topping
1 pound fresh ripe strawberries (or thawed frozen berries)
1 tablespoon honey
Optional: Whipped Coconut Cream

Instructions

1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper; set aside.

2. For the Biscuits: In a small bowl, combine almond flour, baking soda, and salt. In a medium bowl, whisk together melted butter or coconut oil and honey until smooth. Add the eggs and vanilla, whisking together until well combined. Using a spoon, stir the dry mixture into the wet mixture until thoroughly combined. Place dough in fridge to cool about 10 minutes.

3. For the Strawberry Topping: Slice the strawberries and toss with honey. If using, prepare the whipped coconut cream. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

4. Once biscuit dough is chilled, scoop a large spoonful of batter into your hands and roll into a ball about the size of an apricot; repeat until you have made six. Place the dough balls on the parchment-lined baking sheet and gently flatten using the palm of your hand.

5. Bake about 15 minutes, until golden brown on top and a toothpick inserted into center comes out clean.

6. Split the warm biscuits in half and top with a couple of heaping spoonfuls of strawberry topping and a dollop of whipped coconut cream, if desired. A delightful treat for breakfast or dessert!

About Kelly

Kelly Smith The Nourishing HomeKelly Smith recently released her first published cookbook, Everyday Grain-Free Baking and is the author of the popular grain-free lifestyle blog, The Nourishing Home.

After struggling with several autoimmune-related health issues, Kelly turned to an unprocessed, gluten-free, grain-free diet for relief from chronic pain and digestive issues. As a result, she discovered improved health and wellness, and is now on a mission to transform everyday familiar favorites into nourishing grain-free meals the whole family will love, whether they’re living grain-free or not.

 

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Heather http://www.mommypotamus.com <![CDATA[Think Before You Drink: A Closer Look At Glucola]]> http://www.mommypotamus.com/?p=32616 2015-01-21T21:13:18Z 2015-01-07T02:09:59Z “Now, remember to eat lots of protein, missy” . . . and don’t forget those vegetables. Healthy fats are essential, of course, and don’t skip meals! You dutifully nod your head, and then look down at the bottle of glucola that’s just been handed to you. All of a sudden you’re in a “choose your own adventure” story. [&hellip

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gestational-diabetes-test

“Now, remember to eat lots of protein, missy”

. . . and don’t forget those vegetables. Healthy fats are essential, of course, and don’t skip meals! You dutifully nod your head, and then look down at the bottle of glucola that’s just been handed to you.

All of a sudden you’re in a “choose your own adventure” story. Which path will you take? What are the risks and benefits of this test?

Today I’m going to share my personal process in deciding whether or to take the oral glucose challenge test (OGCT). Please keep in mind that as I wrote in my posts on the vitamin K shot and Group B Strep, “Best Boo-Boo Kisser South Of Puckett’s Gas Station” is about as official as things get for me professionally.  I am not a doctor, this is not medical advice, and your decision is completely up to you. If you need some convincing on this, read my full disclaimer where I say it over and over again.

Okay, let’s jump in!

What is gestational diabetes?

Most doctors say we don’t really know why gestational diabetes happens, but there is a theory out there that makes a lot of sense to me personally, and it’s this:

Before modern conveniences like grocery stores, people ate what grew in their backyard. Our ancestors staples were sometimes starch heavy (like the maca root consumed by Peruvians), and other times they were more fat and protein-based (like the Inuit).

Our bodies do an amazing job adapting to whatever’s available, but there are certain things we all need to thrive. Glucose is a particularly essential nutrient for babies, but in some regions it can be scarce. According to this theory, our bodies adapted to the risk of scarcity by giving our babies preferential access to it during pregnancy.

How does that work? As Chris Kresser has observed, “Pregnant women are naturally insulin resistant.” In other words, increased insulin resistance is a “totally normal physiological mechanism” that increases throughout pregnancy. (source 1, source 2)

You see, normally when we eat carbs, they convert to glucose, which circulates in our blood. In response, our body releases insulin which pulls the glucose out of the blood and puts it into our cells, where it is used for energy. However, when we’re pregnant that insulin response is dampened, which essentially keeps more glucose in the blood so that it can be transferred to the baby through the placenta.

Unfortunately, sometimes blood sugar levels go too high, and that’s not good for mom or baby. It may be because we have access to more carbs/sugar than we used to historically, but other factors may play a role as well: stress, autoimmune issues and sleep deprivation for example. (source) When our blood sugar reaches unhealthy levels we have hyperglycemia, or gestational diabetes.

What are the complications of gestational diabetes?

Glucose is a nutrient that helps babies grow, so as you might imagine too much of it causes them to grow larger than normal for their gestational age. According to this study of over 25,000 women, the complications associated with gestational diabetes are:

  • Babies that are larger than normal for their gestational age. It’s important to note here that according to Dr. Brian M. Casey “70-80% of overgrown infants are born to women WITHOUT GDM [gestational diabetes].” (Source: Evidence Based Birth) So gestational diabetes is not the main cause of “big babies.”
  • Increased C-section rates
  • Shoulder dystocia or birth injury. Because baby is bigger than normal, their shoulders may get stuck in the birth canal during delivery.
  • Neonatal hypoglycemia (Low blood sugar)
  • Fetal hyperinsulinemia (A “condition in which there are excess levels of insulin circulating in the blood than expected relative to the level of glucose.” (source) In other words, the baby is used to receiving large amounts of glucose and has adjusted his/her insulin production accordingly. When the amount of glucose available drops after birth, the baby ends up with too much insulin.)
  • The need for neonatal intensive care
  • Newborn jaundice
  • Preeclampsia

Does GD increase the risk of infant death? No. According to the researchers, there is no association between gestational diabetes and infant deaths.

However, mothers who develop gestational diabetes do have an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes later in life. (source)

Am I at risk?

As Dr. Romm writes, “According to the American Dietetic Association, pregnant women with any of the following characteristics appear to be at increased risk of developing gestational diabetes; the risk increases when multiple risk factors are present:

  • Personal history of impaired glucose tolerance or gestational diabetes in a previous pregnancy
  • Member of one of the following ethnic groups, which have a high prevalence of type 2 diabetes: Hispanic American, African American, Native American, South or East Asian, Pacific Islander
  • Family history of diabetes, especially in first-degree relatives
  • Pre-pregnancy weight ≥110% of ideal body weight or BMI >30 kg/m2, significant weight gain in early adulthood and between pregnancies, or excessive gestational weight gain
  • Maternal age >25 years of age
  • Previous delivery of a baby >9 pounds (4.1 kg)
  • Previous unexplained perinatal loss or birth of a malformed infant
  • Maternal birth weight >9 pounds (4.1 kg) or <6 pounds (2.7 kg)
  • Glycosuria at the first prenatal visit
  • Medical condition/setting associated with development of diabetes, such as metabolic syndrome, polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), current use of glucocorticoids, hypertension”

Women who have the following characteristics are at low risk for gestational diabetes:

  • Less than 25 years old
  • Weight normal before pregnancy
  • Member of an ethnic group with a low prevalence of GDM (According to the Mayo Clinic, “women who are black, Hispanic, American Indian or Asian are more likely to develop gestational diabetes.”)
  • No known diabetes in first-degree relatives
  • No history of abnormal glucose tolerance
  • No history of poor obstetric outcome (Source: American Diabetes Association)

What are the signs and symptoms of gestational diabetes?

  • Sugar in urine (revealed in a test done in your doctor or midwife’s office)
  • Unusual thirst
  • Frequent urination
  • Fatigue
  • Nausea
  • Frequent infections of bladder, vagina and skin
  • Blurred vision

Obviously, some of these symptoms are common to pregnancy even without the presence of gestational diabetes, so they cannot be used exclusively to diagnose GD.

mystery-glucola-drink

So how do we test for gestational diabetes?

Normally, a woman is given “glucola”- a drink that sometimes contains an ingredient banned in other countries. The point of the test is to see how well a woman’s body handles and influx of 50 grams of glucose over the course of an hour, but obviously many women object to drinking it. If you’re considering glucola, here are some ingredients commonly found in the drink that you may want to research before deciding. . .

Common Ingredients In Glucola

Brominated vegetable oil 

This product, which is also approved as a flame retardant, is banned in the European and Japan.

According to Aviva Romm, a midwife and MD who specializes in the health and wellness of pregnant mamas, “Research has found that brominated flame retardants build up in the body and breast milk. BVO leaves residues that accumulate in body fat, the brain, the liver, and other organs. Studies in animals demonstrate that BVO is transferred from mother’s milk to the nursing infant. BVO has been associated with heart lesions, fatty changes in the liver, and impaired growth and behavioral development, and both animal and human studies have linked BVO to neurological problems, fertility problems, changes in thyroid hormones and precocious puberty.”

In addition, the vegetable oil of choice is often soybean, which is one of the top eight most common allergens.

Modified food starch 

Like autolyzed yeast extract and hydrolyzed protein, this is a cousin of MSG.

Food Dyes such as FD & C yellow #6, Red #40 

Chemical food dyes pose a “rainbow of risks” – cancer, hyperactivity, and more. Children seem to be especially vulnerable to them, and yet manufacturers still use them in products consumed by children (or in this case, babies). Well, not everywhere, of course. Manufacturers use natural food dyes in other countries because the risks of synthetic dyes are acknowledged there.

Dextrose 

This is corn sugar, which is most likely derived from GMO corn. Though it hasn’t yet made the top eight allergens, the number of individuals allergic to corn is rising.

“Natural” flavoring 

Though derived from natural sources, these flavorings are made in a lab. I guess we have different definitions of what natural means.

Other possible ingredients to look into: sodium hexametaphosphate, butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA), and sodium benzoate. (There are likely more, but this is the list I compiled after calling a diagnostic lab for help locating the ingredients in just one formula.)

Glucola is to cause side effects like nausea, vomiting, bloating, diarrhea, dizziness, headache and fatigue. (source) Just what everyone needs during pregnancy! Of course, we’re all going to weigh the pros and cons of this drink differently, but I think one of the most important questions to ask is . . .

How accurate is the gestational diabetes test, anyway?

A common misconception is that the oral glucose challenge test (OGCT) given to most women offers a definitive answer on whether or not gestational diabetes is present. In reality, it is a SCREENING test, not a DIAGNOSTIC test.

It has a 76% sensitivity rate, which means that for every 100 women that have gestational diabetes, the glucose screening test will only identify seventy-six. That means twenty-four pregnant moms will think everything is within range, when in fact they have elevated blood sugar levels. (source 1, source 2)

On the flipside, 24% of women who test positive for gestational diabetes don’t actually have it, so unless they insist on confirming with the oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT) they will be labeled as high risk for no reason and may be subject to unnecessary interventions and medical procedures.

Another problem with the OGCT/OGTT, is that “you could ‘fail’ a test in week 28 that you would have ‘passed’ had you taken it in week 24.” (17) This is because “blood glucose values rise as pregnancy advances, but no adjustments are made for this.” (source)

And not only does what week you take the test matter, what time of day can affect the result as well. This study found that our response to oral glucose is tied to our circadian rhythm, and unless our rhythm is impaired we will do better on the test at 8am rather than 4pm. As you can see, there are a lot of things that can sway the results.

Now let’s say a mama gets her test done as soon as it as offered, and she schedules the test for 8am. The test comes back positive and is confirmed with an OGTT. Is it really confirmed? That’s an interesting question, which we’ll explore in the next section.

I’m paleo and I failed the test. Why?

I’ve recently heard about several paleo moms failing the OGCT test, which I thought was odd. After all, hasn’t the paleo diet been shown to be very effective in managing (and even sometimes reversing) diabetes?

Though it’s impossible to know the details of every case or speak definitively without double blind studies, here’s why I think the OGCT test may not be a “one-size-fits-all” diagnostic tool:

As we talked about earlier, different societies have subsisted on different staples, some which were carb heavy (which would produce large amounts of glucose in the body) and some which were low carb (which would yield smaller amounts of glucose).

What if our bodies adapt our glucose tolerance to match our diet? We know that hyperinsulinemia (too much insulin) can occur when the body expects large amounts of glucose, prepares for large amounts of glucose, and then receives less glucose than expected. The body is anticipating future needs based on past food intake.

What if the opposite is also possible? For individuals who consume fewer sugar/carbs than the standard modern diet, wouldn’t the body adjust by producing less insulin based on expected glucose load? When those individuals are given 50 grams of glucose, should we expect their bodies to handle just like a person who eats a typical modern diet?

Or to pose this question in a more interesting way . . .

!kung-san-bushmen

What would happen if we gave African bushmen (and women) a bottle of glucola?

Thanks to neurobiologist and obesity researcher Dr. Stephan Guyenet, we know the answer to that question. In this post, he compares how well the Tukisenta of Papua New Guinea, African Bantu, Native Americans of central Brazil, and iKung African Bushmen handled the OGTT – the diagnostic glucose tolerance test.

The first three groups were given 100 grams of glucose (which is twice the amount given to pregnant women during the OGCT) and passed the test with flying colors. All three groups ate a diet that was very high in carbohydrates.

The last group – the iKung – typically eat a low-carb diet. When given just half the amount of glucose that the other groups received, they failed the test. Though the researchers said that they consumed adequate amounts of carbs prior to the test, Dr. Guyenet says:

“Acknowledging that prior carbohydrate intake may have played a role in the OGTT results of the San, [the researchers] made the following remark:

a retrospective dietary history (M. J. Konner, personal communication, 1971) indicated that the [San], in fact, consumed fairly large amounts of carbohydrate-rich vegetable food during the week before testing.

However, the dietary history was not provided, nor has it been published, so we have no way to assess the statement’s accuracy or what was meant by ‘fairly large amounts of carbohydrate-rich vegetable food.’ Given the fact that the San diet typically ranges from moderately low to very low in carbohydrate, I suspect they were not getting much carbohydrate as a percentage of calories. Looking at the nutritional value of the starchy root foods they typically eat in appendix D of The !Kung San: Men, Women and Work in a Foraging Society, they are fibrous and most contain a low concentration of starch compared to a potato for example. The investigators may have been misled by the volume of these foods eaten, not realizing that they are not as rich in carbohydrate as the starchy root crops they are more familiar with.

You can draw your own conclusions, but I think the high OGTT result of the San probably reflect a low habitual carbohydrate intake, and not pre-diabetes.” (source)

So what are we supposed to think about this? Personally, it makes sense to me that the first three tribes passed the OGTT test – they were healthy individuals whose bodies were used to handling significant quantities of glucose. From what we know, the iKung were also very healthy individuals, but their bodies were not used to large amounts of glucose. Does failing the test mean they were diabetic? I don’t think so. I think their bodies had just adapted their glucose tolerance to match their diet.

Some moms who failed the OGCT requested a different type of test to confirm or rule out gestational diabetes. In the cases I’ve read, it turned out they did not have gestational diabetes. More on the alternative test later on in this post.

Who should be tested? Can I refuse this test?

According to Dr. Romm, “Tests should be done on the basis of individual risk. It’s rare that a test needs to be universally done – meaning that everyone gets it, pretty much no matter what. And healthy women should not be bullied into getting tests, as many pregnant women report happens when the 24 week mark rolls around signaling their doctor or midwife that it’s time for glucose testing.”

The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) affirms an individualized approach, saying that their guidelines “should not be construed as dictating an exclusive course of treatment or procedure. Variations in practice may be warranted based on the needs of the individual patient, resources, and limitations unique to the institution or type of practice.” (source 1, source 2)

They also affirm your right to refuse the test if you wish to. In their own words, “Pregnant women’s autonomous decisions should be respected. Concerns about the impact of maternal decisions on fetal well-being should be discussed in the context of medical evidence and understood within the context of each woman’s broad social network, cultural beliefs, and values. In the absence of extraordinary circumstances, circumstances that, in fact, the Committee on Ethics cannot currently imagine, judicial authority should not be used to implement treatment regimens aimed at protecting the fetus, for such actions violate the pregnant woman’s autonomy.” (source)

What are the benefits of testing for gestational diabetes?

Obviously, the most important reason it that it may help identify gestational diabetes if present. The rate of diabetes – both in pregnant and non-pregnant individuals – is rising in our nation, and it’s definitely something we need to be aware of.

Something to keep in mind is that the recommended treatment for mild cases of gestational diabetes is typically to eat healthy, balanced meals (without going carb crazy), exercise, and monitor blood sugar. After evaluating their risk factors (or lack thereof), some people opt not to take the test because they have already made the two primary lifestyle changes that would be recommended.

What are the downsides of the OGCT test?

You could get a false negative, which could deprive you of helpful guidance in terms of nutrition and lifestyle. Or you could get a false positive, which would place you unnecessarily in a high-risk category. As patients, we need to be aware that a diagnosis of gestational diabetes can change the trajectory of our pregnancy. As Dr. Dekker writes, we “cannot underestimate the effect of ‘labeling’ women with GDM. The label of GDM has a profound effect on how healthcare providers treat women.”

Doctors tend to fear shoulder dystocia, which is associated with GD, so they are more likely to push for a c-section. They’re also more likely to recommend induction unnecessarily for a suspected “big baby,” which can result in a baby needing admission to the NICU. (As I mentioned earlier, 70-80% of “big babies” are born to moms without gestational diabetes.)

For this reason, I would personally would absolutely insist on confirming my diagnosis and discussing options thoroughly with my healthcare provider.

Why the oral glucose challenge test may not be a one-size-fits all diagnostic tool, and some natural alternatives to consider. #naturalpregnancy #naturalbirth #pregnancy #glucola

Are There Alternatives To Glucola?

Yes, there are. Here are some suggestions from Dr. Romm:

1.  “If you are in your first or early second trimester, consider a Hemoglobin A1C test. It is a simple blood test that doesn’t require you to ingest anything prior. While there is no set level that determines gestational diabetes (there are levels for non-pregnancy-related diabetes), done early enough in pregnancy it can determine whether you already had undetected diabetes before even becoming pregnant, and a level of 5.45% may be associated with gestational diabetes, in which case you can make dietary changes and wait until 24-28 weeks gestation, when the glucose challenge and GTT are typically done, and then decide whether to test.

2. Consider an excellent diet and random glucose testing. This just requires finger stick blood testing which can even be done by you at home, and is a commonly used alternative for women who can’t tolerate the Glucola. However, one test result alone is not enough to diagnose or rule out GDM, so you’ll want to work with your doctor or midwife to come up with a reasonable schedule for testing and assessing your results.

[Note from Mommypotamus: Several paleo mama have reported that after receiving a preliminary diagnosis of gestational diabetes from the OGCT test, they opted for this method rather than the OGTT and it was determined that they did not have diabetes.]

3. Consider ‘The Jelly Bean Test.’ This test, which has you eat 28 jelly beans, which also provide 50 grams of sugar, has been popular amongst midwives for decades, and now there are GMO-free and naturally-colored brands to choose from. While some data suggests that the results are not entirely as reliable as using the oral glucose test drinks, an article published in a major obstetrics journal states that jelly beans are a reliable alternative that are actually preferred by women and have fewer side effects.” (source)

[Note from Mommypotamus: Here is a link to the study mentioned. Depending on the jelly bean you may need to consume more or less. The point is to equal 50 grams. These instructions call for 28 Brach’s jelly beans, which would equal 54 grams of sugar according to this site. However, it seems that with these natural jelly beans, you’d need to eat 54 jelly beans to equal 50 grams of sugar.

What About Juice?

Orange, apple and other juices are a combination of glucose and fructose. Though both are simple sugars, fructose does not stimulate insulin the same way that glucose does. (source) Because the goal here is to measure the body’s insulin response to glucose and we’re not exactly sure how much is contained in a glass of juice, I think one of the other methods is likely to be more reliable.

jelly-bean-alternative-to-gestational-diabetes-test

What Did You Do, Mommypotamus?

Using juice instead of glucola, I did the challenge test during my first pregnancy. At first we thought I failed, but then we realized I consumed far more sugar I was supposed to. Oops! Once we sorted through all that, I passed with flying colors. Of course, later on I realized that juice may not be an appropriate substitute for glucola, so I don’t really consider that test valid.

With my next two pregnancies, I discussed my risk factors with my midwives. Other than being over twenty-five I have none at all. Given my medical history and lifestyle (which includes a mostly paleo diet with rice and potatoes added in), I opted out of testing. My urine samples were always negative for sugar during all three of my pregnancies. If I had been spilling sugar, of course I would have followed up with more testing.

My care providers were comfortable with my choice, and I personally didn’t feel the OGCT was accurate enough to rely on. (Especially since I don’t eat a modern super-high carb diet). I could have gone with at-home glucose monitoring, but given the fact that I had no symptoms associated with the condition, no sugar in my urine and no risk factors other than age it seemed like overkill. I gave birth to three healthy babies at home.

 Did you drink the glucola? Why or why not?

HHC Fan Final

Looking For More Info On Birth Choices?

Happy Healthy Child: A Holistic Approach is a DVD childbirth education course that shares insights from over 30 world-renowned OB/GYNs, midwives, pediatricians, scientists, psychologists, childbirth educators, sleep experts and lactation specialists that can help improve the birth experience and overall outcome mama’s and their babies.

If you read through this site much you’l find many of the same names mentioned – these are the people I turned to when I was researching things like routine ultrasounds, co-sleeping, natural birth and more. People like:

  • Dr. Bob Sears, who received his pediatric training at Harvard Medical School’s Children’s Hospital in Boston and The Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto — the largest children’s hospital in the world. Dr. Sears is the author of over 30 books on childcare and a fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the Royal College of Pediatricians.
  • Ina May Gaskin, who has been called “the mother of authentic midwifery
  • Dr. James McKenna, head of the University of Notre Dame’s Mother-Baby Behavioral Sleep LaboratoryThis post and this post are based on his work.
  • and Dr. Sarah Buckley, who was the first to make me dig deeper into routine ultrasounds

Topics covered include:

  • Optimal nutrition for you and your developing fetus (I did not agree with all the recommendations in this section. Beautiful Babies is a better resource for dietary recommendations in my opinion.)
  • The best ways to prepare for your labor and birth
  •  Building your birth team
  •  Overcoming the intensity of labor
  •  Common interventions and how to avoid the unnecessary ones
  •  Taking care of your new baby (bonding, breastfeeding, infant sleep, etc.)

(Read my full review here)

Photo credits: Sarah Gilbert, Charles Roffey and Amy

The post Think Before You Drink: A Closer Look At Glucola appeared first on Mommypotamus.

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