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Coming Into Alignment With Your Inner Seasons – SPRING EDITION

I love each season and what they each uniquely offer. Until recently I thought that was limited to the weather. It has been an incredible journey exploring the inner seasons of my life. They offer richness and depth and honors how we are all constantly changing.

Have you heard of inner seasons? They transcend biochemistry and allow us to align with our body and soul at a pace that feels divine and quite primal. Most of my exploration around this has come from the brilliant women at Red School and it compliments my work with hormones and health quite perfectly.

I love the concept of inner seasons. It feels like a huge missing piece in our lives and resonates with most of the women I am lucky enough to have in the Hormone Club, as we learn about how our hormones impact every aspect of our lives.

Our inner seasons give us permission and space to cycle through different phases: sometimes daily, sometimes monthly, definitely yearly, and over our lifetime if we are mindful about it.  They often align with our hormones, how they change, and how those changes impact every cell in our body, our mind, our nervous system, drive, and even our motivation and desire to engage with others. Our inner seasons invite us in to connect with ourselves, to honor ourselves and where we are right now, to have compassion for ourselves, and to appreciate the different energies and phases of our life.

Our modern world does not have a lot of space or even a pace for this. Our 24 hour days and 7 days a week schedules ask us to be the same each day. As females we are naturally cyclical. It is up to us to step up and honor these cycles, our own inner seasons.

I can guarantee you won’t regret it.

Our inner spring is a time of promise, it is exciting, we emerge from winter and sprout up ready to charge and plan for longer days ahead. It’s about possibility and  playfulness, we experiment, it’s about doing, exploring, discovering, and our focus is turning outward again as the light in the world grows brighter and days grow longer once again.

In relation to our monthly cycles, inner spring aligns with the 7-9 days after menstruation. This is the time estrogen is increasing. Estrogen is known as our people pleasing hormone. We are often naturally drawn out into the world, are busy planning, engaging, and starting to charge harder as we near ovulation (a different season).

In relation to our lifetime phases, inner spring aligns roughly with our mid teens through our 20s. The time we emerge from childhood, get out in the world, are still quite playful, experimental and full of promise for what’s to come.

I love sitting with the idea of inner seasons with myself. Getting curious about where I am right now, why I might be making certain decisions or feeling certain ways, and giving myself permission to be where I am and remember that it will change. I also love talking to my friends and my family about where they feel they are at and how it changes.

To nurture your inner spring it works well to sit quietly and consider what you want to grow more of in your life, as well as what you would like to let go of and melt away with the spring run off. It is a great time to load up on high vibration spring foods to support energy production at a cellular level and detoxification. It is a great time to reduce toxins coming in so we have more energy for other things. Take time to consider how you feel about the outer world getting brighter, louder, busier. Set boundaries around the new energy.

We don’t need to change our lives completely when we honor our inner seasons, but understanding the different energies helps us have compassion when our life is asking us one thing of us and we are feeling something quite different or helps us to lean in where we can and embrace the present season.

Does this resonate with you? Do you honor your inner seasons and how they show up at different times in your life?

Stay tuned for more on your inner summer, inner fall, and inner winter. And the coolest thing of all? We get a chance at a second round of each season after menopause. It is truly an empowering way to approach perimenopause and menopause, that is when we make space in our lives to honor the different seasons.

The Nourishing Spring Cleanse is all about SPRING. We embrace the foods, the herbs, the energy, and lifestyle practices that are all about spring. For me, when I take the time to honor each season in a new and appropriate way, it helps me feel better aligned and mindful in all areas of my life.


Janel Ferrin Andreson DNM, NC, FNLP

Janel is obsessed with helping people understand their body better, how it works, and how to impact it with food, lifestyle, nutrients, and herbs. Janel is a board certified nutrition consultant, a functional medicine nutritionist and a doctor of natural medicine. She integrates systems biology with nutrition and lifestyle to help people feel their best.

SPRING CLEANSE

Need Help Sleeping During The Holidays? Here Are A Few Tips-

Does anyone sleep like a baby during the holidays? You might after this!

With the extra holiday treats, rich foods, cocktails, emotional stressors, and holiday partys, sleep can definitely take a hit during the holidays (plus, let’s be honest, if you are in your mid 40s sleep is probably a challenge anyway).

Although the right remedy depends on what is driving sleep problems……….. I find most people can use some extra support during the holidays.   One of my favorite tools to use in this situation is herbs (but I have 10 other ideas below to check out too). 

Whether you make yourself a nightly cup of tea, or add herbal tinctures to water- herbs are a wonderful way to support better sleep, especially during the holidays or times of extra stress. 

What time is best to use sleep herbs?

The herbs listed here are powerful tools for helping relax into sleep, so enjoying them at the right time is key. I find these are best taken about 20-30 minutes before you want to go to bed. Alternatively, if you wake up in the middle of the night you can add herbal tinctures to a bit of water to help you fall right back to sleep.

What forms of herbs are best?

I love using dry herbs to make tea or adding liquid tinctures to my water, as opposed to herbs in capsules. Capsules work great too but I enjoy the simplicity on my digestive system, being close to bedtime, of taking them as tea or tincture. They are easier to assimilate and less work for the body to break down.

Making herbal tea to help ease into sleep-

Here is my favorite herbal sleep formula/recipe (herbs are in dried herb form but again you can use tinctures directly into water also)-

  • Chamomile (Matricaria chamomilla)- 3 parts (3 tsp)
  • Lemon Balm (Melissa officinalis)- 2 parts (2 tsp)
  • Passion flower (Passiflora incarnata)- 1 part (1 tsp)
  • Lavender (Lavendula agustifola)- 1 part (1 tsp)
  • Peppermint- 2 parts (2 tsp)
  • Catnip (Nepeta cataria)- 1 part (1 tsp)
  • Valerian Root (Valeriana officinalis)- 1/2 part (1/2 tsp

For the quantities listed here, you can either make a big pot/ jar of tea or store some dry herbs in a jar to use later and just scoop out what you need. Generally I like about 2 tbsp herb per cup of hot water water for a strong medicinal tea

Steep desired amount of herbs in hot water for about 8-10 minutes. Strain and enjoy! Zzzzzz

Any of these herbs in combination or on used on their own will support relaxing into sleep.  No need to stress about getting them all or in the exact amount. Only have chamomile? Great. Use that. I find valerian, kava, and passionflower most powerful.

I love getting my herbs from Mountain Rose Herbs or a local apothocary. We also have a great tea store here in Truckee, Cha Fine Teas, that has a yummy sleep tea blend too.

If simple is better for you- There are wonderful pre made blends from your local natural grocery store that contain some of these herbs, just try using 2 or 3 bags per cup to get a stronger, medicinal effect, when needed.

Check out my video about making herbal teas here.

Using tinctured herbs to support sleep

I love tinctures! They are easy to use, easy to absorb, and very effective.

About 20 minutes before you are wanting to go to sleep add 1-3 dropperfuls of herbal tinctures to a small glass of water and drink. Zzzzzzz. Additionally, if you wake up in the middle of the night these are my favorite tools to get back to sleep when your mind won’t stop racing.

Again, there are wonderful blends from company’s like Gaia Herbs, Wise Woman Herbals, or Herb Pharm. Use blends or single herbs but give them a try!

Some other tricks for getting good sleep during the holidays.

I love celebrating the holidays! But there are a few things I do to support my sleep even when I am eating and drinking and being merry. Usually it comes down to supporting my nervous system, balancing blood sugar, and setting clear boundaries. These become more important in our 40s/50s as hormones are changing. Some of the things I try to do, on top of using herbs, to support sleep (and energy and overall health) during the holidays are-

  1. Start the day with a protein rich breakfast to support blood sugar all day (especially with all the extra treats that come with the holiday!!) Protein helps us keep our blood sugar from swinging too high or too low. What swings up/down during the day will likely do the same at night, waking you up as a result.
  2. Never drink alcohol on an empty stomach (of course it’s best not to drink alcohol but if you do…). I make sure to have a meal rich in fat, fiber and protein before I start drinking and a big glass of water before each drink. This will slow the alcohol and sugar from entering your bloodstream too fast and keep you from drinking alcohol to quench your thirst.
  3. Avoid eating treats when I am hungry. Eat food first, treats after.
  4. Stop drinking alcohol after dinner. I know, it might sound hard but I find drinking soda, tea, or water after dinner helps a ton for feeling and sleeping better. It is always worth it. Alcohol may help you fall asleep but it will wake you up later.
  5. Go for a walk after dinner. This is such a fun tradition and so great for blood sugar and the nervous system.
  6. Set emotional boundaries- “Under-react to everything”- is a great holiday mantra. Try to stay at emotional “sea level” during the holiday. It is not the time to resolve family issues.
  7. Don’t be a martyr. Ask for help. Cooking, cleaning, organizing, everything. I will say it again, ask for help. Stress is sleeps rival
  8. Stop eating at least 3 hours before bed.
  9. Get outside and move your body, no matter how busy you are
  10. Guided imagery from apps like Breethe and Calm are very helpful for relaxing into sleep. Sometimes I like sleep stories, or guided imagery, or a body scan but my favorite is sleep hypnotherapy. All can be found on Breethe (and no, I do not get anything from them).
  11. A ‘protein pill’ before bed, meaning a half of a slice of turkey or a chunk of salmon or small handful of pumpkin seeds, a pill size, might be helpful. This is not an ideal way to eat but a small protein pill might support dysregulated blood sugar from extra holiday indulgences so you can stay asleep. You can give it a try and see how it works for you.

If your sleep challenges have more to do with hormones at midlife, well, you just must join me for The Hormone Club!

What do you do to support healthy sleep during the holidays? Or do you sleep like a baby?

Look for The Sleep Club coming soon!!!

If sleep is an issue for you all the time there is a lot you can do to resolve the underlying cause of poor sleep. But since the cause is different for everyone, the solution has to be different too. Here are a few questions to ask yourself to get thinking if sleep is something you struggle with regularly-

  1. Do I fall asleep okay?
  2. Do I stay asleep all night?
  3. Do I wake up feeling refreshed?
  4. If I am lying awake is it my mind or my body keeping me up?
  5. Is my room dark, cool, quiet, comfortable, electronic free, and do I like who I am sleeping next to?

Things that might be contributing to chronic sleep issues include-

  • stress and cortisol (stress hormone) dysregulation
  • blood sugar dysregulation (this applies to all humans, even athletes)
  • nutrient deficiencies such as magnesium or B6
  • estrogen and progesterone fluctuations
  • low melatonin (sleep hormone) production
  • gut dysbiosis (parasites, fungal overgrowths, lack of certain microbes associated with sleep, etc)
  • environment- cool, dark, quiet, no electronics, etc
  • lack of a sleep routine or set wake time
  • chronic pain
  • chronic inflammation
  • caffeine, especially with certain genetics
  • under or over exercising
  • and more

Having a hard time sleeping is a message from your body that something is off. Don’t make your body talk louder than it has to. Get curious! In the meantime, drink tea:). And for periodic sleep disturbances, try the list of 10 ideas above and see how you sleep. And join us for the Women’s Hormone Club, where we will be discussing sleep!! Do you think we know enough about our body and our hormones? I don’t! Read Fired Up Friday #4 about women, our hormones and how we need to know our body better than anyone!

Happy Holidays, Sleep well, XO Janel

Janel Ferrin Anderson FNLP, NC, DNM

Hello. Welcome to Mountain Rebalance. I am obsessed with helping people understand their body better and use food/lifestyle/herbs/nutrients to get their body to function optimally. I work with people 1 on 1 and in group settings.


CHeck out the Women’s Hormone Club

Fired Up Friday Series

#1 The Gap In Healthcare- We Are Missing A Huge Piece


#2 Total Body Burden. It’s All About Accumulation, Not Just One Root Cause.


#3 Please, Don’t Be A Good Patient


#4- Why The Hell Aren’t We Taught About Our Hormones, What’s Normal, And How We Can Impact Them?


Coming soon-

  • Is Expensive Functional Lab Testing Really Necessary?
  • Fad Diets – stop the madness!
  • Why the hell are people obsessed with the next easy quick fix solution?
  • Medical doc and holistic nutritionist dig in.

Janel Ferrin Anderson FNLP, NC, DNM

I am obsessed with science, helping people understand their body better, and educating people about how to use food, lifestyle, herbs and nutrients to optimize how they feel and function. If you know me you likely know that I can get fired up about things. These are some of them.

Fired Up Friday #4- Why The Hell Aren’t We Taught About Our Hormones, What’s Normal, And How We Can Impact Them??

This really fires me up.

As a mother of teen girls, a women going through perimenopause myself, and as a women’s health practitioner it blows my mind every day how much we don’t know and are not taught about our hormones.

Can you imagine if we were taught at a young age and throughout life how exactly our hormones change each month, how that impacts our body, our mood, our mind and our soul, what is normal and what is not normal symptom wise, how to understand what our body is saying, and can you imagine if we were taught from the get go how we can impact our hormones every day so we feel and look our best?

This is not rocket science.

This should be basic knowledge.

It is called body literacy or body intelligence and we deserve to know it.

Hormones are meant to fluctuate but we should not be suffering endlessly. Not monthly, not in puberty, not postpartum, not as we transition in perimenopause around our 40s, and Menopause to our wise years around our 50s on. There is so much we can do to impact these shifts, so we can lean into the rhythm and wisdom of these powerful hormones. And if we do not listen to symptoms or imbalances in our monthly cycle when we are younger, they will likely talk louder and louder as we make hormonal transitions as we age.

Our hormones are like canaries in the coal mine, they are the first to falter if something is off in our body. If we are having symptoms that are debilitating like cramping, heavy periods, headaches, aches, fatigue, insomnia, brain fog, anxiety, infertility, stubborn weight gain, low libido, skin issues, skipped periods, or other hormone related symptoms- these are messages that we need to pay attention to not just symptoms to cover up. Those symptoms might be common but they are not normal and they are telling you something, and they will talk louder if we do not listen.

Yes, of course there is a place for covering up symptoms so we don’t suffer but getting to the underlying root of what is driving those symptoms is typically not mysterious or out of our control. It is knowledge we all deserve to have. And it is something we can impact every day. If we listen to these messages and respond, they will not have to talk louder and louder (aka worse symptoms).

First, we need to understand how our hormones work monthly. Then we need to understand how they change as we get older. After we understand what is going on in our own body, and we learn what we can do to impact that, then we can choose to take clear and methodical steps to optimize how we feel and age at any age. We are in the driver’s seat of our hormone health and can take control of how we feel.

But we don’t have that choice if we are not taught this.

Why aren’t we taught this?

I am hell bent on helping women understand their body better and helping them to feel their best. I want to bridge the gap that is so sorely missing between women, their doctors, and their health (aka how they feel every day). That is why I am teaching the Women’s Hormone Club and why I am working with my daughters on a hormone project that I am stoked to release soon (stay tuned!!).

Our hormones are powerful. When they are not fluctuating optimally we likely feel like crap at different times of the month, depending what is off. When they are functioning optimally, and we can align with their different energies, our month can flow in ways that feel incredible. When functioning optimally, we can lean into estrogen, as it climbs during the first half of our cycle and we feel driven, social, and sharp. And then, when ovulation occurs, we can lean into progesterone, as it climbs during the second half of our cycle, and we might feel more creative, reflective, and internal at that time. As they both drop right before our period we might have cravings and feel a bit low as progesterone and estrogen are tied to brain neurotransmitters and insulin, our blood sugar hormone. As these hormones rise and fall our mood is impacted, our body, our brain, every part of us. It is empowering to feel these shifts and understand them. Choices we make everyday impact how these fluctuate and how we feel.

Chart from Functional Nutrition Alliance FXNA

The time to focus on your hormones is now, no matter how old you are. But it is definitely time in your late 30s and 40s to get things dialed so as you transition into menopause things go as smoothly as possible. You do have control over this and you don’t have to suffer. We can’t remove all the sensations but we can turn the dial. Body Literacy is power.

As we move through our 40s progesterone starts to decline first, automatically putting us at risk to all the symptoms that happen in estrogen dominance. Because it is largely about the relationship of these two hormones. So it is even more important than ever that things are functioning optimally. Following a drop in progesterone, estrogen starts to go all over the place before it settles at a lower level. Again, we want an optimal environment in our body as these shifts occur so we ease from one phase to another as much as possible. There is so much we can do to ease this transition. Again, knowledge is power and small efforts are everything.

This chart is from Lara Briden’s Brilliant book Hormone Repair Manual

Your gut matters. Food matters. Detox matters. Stress matters. Blood sugar matters. Poop matters. Muscles matter. Sleep matters. Inflammation matters.

What do you think? Have we been taught enough about our body? What it is saying? Are we trained to listen to it? And then know what steps to take to feel our best? No way. Not yet, but I am hopeful this is changing and hell bent on making this happen. I encourage you to join me in this effort. Stay tuned for more!

Janel Ferrin Anderson FNLP, NC, DNM

I am determined to help people understand their body better and help them make changes to impact their health. I see people one-on-one and in group settings both in Truckee and online. I practice truly holistic healthcare and team up with people who want to function their best.

https://mountainrebalance.com/?p=1366 Women’s Hormone CLub

Your Microbiome- Bite Sized Series

Tend to your microbiome and watch your health transform from your head to your toes

Research is continually showing that a balanced, rich, and robust microbiome is one of the major drivers of short term and long term health.

If I could only recommend one area for people to focus to ensure better overall health it would be on protecting and enhancing their microbiome. This is a core Foundation of Health.

Sometimes it feels overwhelming to me to even discuss the microbiome due to the fact that your microbiome is connected to every body system and cell in your body.

Your acute problem might be hormone imbalance, headaches, stubborn weight gain, chronic pain, insomnia, depression, fatigue, immune issues, skin rashes, boating, etc……………but the root cause could be in your gut and specifically, your microbiome.

I have found that no matter what you are trying to heal or repair or rebalance, addressing the microbiome will help everything function better. But this is no magic bullet because it actually takes time and sustainable small efforts, but the payoff is big.

To simplify things, we are going to take a ‘bite sized’ approach over time to look at the important roles of the microbiome and what you can do to protect your microbiome.

I will share 1 important function of the microbiome with 1 step you can take to optimize it at a time.

But before we go there……… The basics. Your microbiome is a unique ecosystem made of bacteria, fungi, viruses, and other microbes. We have far more microbes than we have human cells and they cover all the various parts of our body including our gut, skin, mouth, and lungs. These microbes dictate how we feel and how we function and how we age. The science around this is exploding right now as we learn about their important role in aging, energy, disease, autoimmunity, chronic symptoms, weight gain, hormone health, immune health, chronic inflammation and more.

NOTE- If one of these tips does not feel right, LISTEN TO YOUR BODY. It is usually NOT the new habit but instead the state of your gut. You may need to restore a microbial imbalance before you can use ideal tips. Moving slowly is always best.

Let’s dig in! 1 bite at a time.




#1- A Boundary

Bite Size #1- Your microbiome is a major guardian, protecting you from what enters your body.

According to Dr. Kiran Krishnan- Microbiologist at Microbiome Labs, Our gut is where we are most exposed to the outside world.  This is why most of our immune system resides here. 

Our digestive tract is actually considered OUTSIDE THE BODY.  
The guards that protect what is allowed to come into the body are the MICROBES in our MICROBIOME (and the mucus layer they directly impact). If there is an imbalance in your microbiome, there is not proper protection.   (1)

“If your microbiome is robust and diverse there is amazing protection and improvement in our health and wellness in the short term and long term” says Dr. Krishnan.  (2)

We want to absorb nutrients from our food but keep out harmful substances such as mold, viral toxins, bacterial toxins, environmental toxins, undigested foods, etc. 

When this barrier function is not working (aka leaky gut), we can absorb these substances and the result is chronic inflammation.  And the thing is, this chronic inflammation goes above and beyond digestive issues.   In this case we might see symptoms like- brain fog, achy joints, headaches, anxiety, depression, fatigue, and more inflammatory symptoms and disease progression associated with again. 

A leaky gut, which is the root of so many chronic issues, starts with an imbalance in the microbiome, the guards are down and the mucosal barrier is disrupted. And again, digestive issues are not even present in these situations yet, the gut is the root of the problem but the symptoms are elsewhere. 

I have heard this roughly likened to a castle wall (the thin layer of the gut wall) being guarded from invaders by soldiers standing guard (the microbes in your gut). When the guards are few in number, or are made of disruptive characters, invaders can easily get in and the wall is destroyed. The guards are VITAL.

One of the most harmful things that can move across the boundary from the gut into the body and cause problems in this situation are Endotoxins, or toxins made in the body.  These include LPS or lipopolysaccharides that are made from gram negative bacteria.  They belong in the gut but NOT in the bloodstream.  When they enter the body through a leaky gut from an imbalanced microbiome it becomes a highly toxic compound that acts as a root cause for hundreds of chronic illnesses says Dr. Krishnan.  And again, these are NOT digestive issues.  (2)

Tip #1- One way you can protect the health of your microbiome is to EAT A WIDE VARIETY OF FOODS, including all of the colors at every meal. Diversity is KEY as the different microbes eat different foods (think a variety of veggies, fruit, nuts, seeds, beans). Try new foods each week and enhance your microbiome.

Each of the different microbes in our gut feed off different foods. This is why a diverse diet is key to long term health above and beyond nutrient wise. Even if you eat a salad every day, change it up, get new veggies, add different nuts, seeds, fruits, fresh herbs, spices, healthy oils, clean proteins, etc. Download my rainbow food tool here to help.

REMEMBER- if eating a diverse diet does NOT feel right, get CURIOUS around what might be going on in your gut and your microbiome. You may need to rebalance your microbes first. (See my video here on HEAL vs IDEAL)




#2- Microbes make POSTBIOTICS that communicate with other parts of your body

Bitesize #2- POSTBIOTICS ARE FUNDAMENTAL FOR OVERALL HEALTH in all parts of the body, not just in the gut.

The friendly microbes in your gut feed off prebiotics and the result of this process are compounds called postbiotics.  These postbiotics, or compounds made by the microbes in your gut, are one important way the microbiome communicates directly with the immune system, the brain, the skin, our hormonal system, and every other cell in the body.  This is huge and we are learning more about this everyday as research in this area is growing fast. 

Short chain fatty acids (SCFA) are a type of postbiotic.  The one SCFA we hear a lot about is Butyrate. Butyrate is a POSTBIOTIC that is made when certain bacteria in the gut feed off certain fibers. You have to have the good bacteria and you have to feed them the right foods to get these postbiotics that we need for optimal health. 

Butyrate makes us more sensitive to insulin, it helps us to use fat for fuel, it feeds helpful microbes so they can grow, it talks directly to the immune system, and it is the main fuel for the gut wall so the gut can repair itself and provide a healthy boundary (7). 

Other postbiotics impact our neurotransmitters including serotonin, dopamine, tryptophan and influences our mood in this way.  Others impact the brain through the vagus nerve and there is a lot of research happening in that area now.  Other postbiotics include B vitamins, vitamin K, amino acids, and antimicrobials that keep harmful microbes from growing. Yes, the microbes in your gut make those!!(4).

There is growing evidence that certain postbiotics positively impact allergies, eczema, colic, defense against viruses, weight loss, joint pain, eye issues, heart disease, constipation, diarrhea and other IBS and IBD symptoms and may even have anti tumor properties (5,6).

We are continuing to learn a ton about postbiotics and how they important they are for our health and homeostasis. Make sure you have a healthy and diverse microbiome, that you are feeding those microbes well, and that you have the right environment for healthy microbes to grow- and boom, your body will make these essential postbiotics for you.

Tip #2- Tending to your microbiome is a bit like farming, you need to seed it, feed it, and provide the right environment for the good microbes to grow. When it comes to seeding the right microbes it is important to either eat fermented foods daily, such as sauerkraut, kefir, kimchi, miso, yogurt, or fermented veggies or take a researched and proven effective probiotic regularly (don’t waste your money with ones that do not have research behind them). I recommend people take specific probiotics a few months each year. Click here to see my favorites and 3 month microbiome protocol.

A short bit on stewed apples and short chain fatty acids

______________________________________________________________________________



#3- Female Hormonal Balance, Estrogen and The ESTROBOLOME

Bitesize #2 Your ESTROBOLOME impacts how much estrogen is in circulation in your body and in result influences how you feel month to month and during PUBERTY, POSTPARTUM, and PERIMENOPAUSE

Your gut is directly connected to your female hormones in several ways but one major way is through your ESTROBOLOME, which is part of your gut microbiome (7).            

This is some cool and simple science that relates to how you feel during your menstrual cycle each month AND how smoothly you transition from one hormonal phase into another (aka puberty, after having babies, perimenopause and menopause).    

In order to feel our best as women  we want estrogen in just the right amount at the right time.   Estrogen is made in many different areas of the body including in the ovaries. It is received all over the body (which is why we feely symptoms of estrogen imbalance all over our body) to do its many jobs. After, estrogen is detoxed in the liver and sent out with the bile to the gut to leave the system with our feces. The microbes that make up your estrobolome in your gut  impact how much estrogen moves out of your body and how much is reabsorbed back into the system, so how much estrogen you have at any given time.  It does this through making an enzyme (a postbiotic, see above) called betaglucaronidase that regulates how much estrogen is absorbed back into the bloodstream.  These microbes in your estrobolome also turn certain plant foods into phytoestrogens (plant estrogens) that help if there is too much estrogen or if there is too little estrogen (7).   

So the estrobolome  influences both if you are estrogen dominant or if you are low in estrogen, and in result influence all the symptoms that go along with those major imbalances (bloating, cramps, hot flashes, anxiety, sleep problems, tender breasts, etc).   

These microbes are incredible.   The Estrobolome is one thing we dig into and work on during the women’s hormone club every winter.       

You can actually test and see how robust and diverse your microbiome is, including seeing how your estrobolome is functioning. This is part of the Gut Zoomer at Vibrant Labs or the BiomeFx from Microbiome Labs, two labs that are doing incredible research into the gut microbiome.

Tip #3- One way to protect your microbiome is to set aside time every single to mindfully relax and reduce the stress coming in. Certain harmful bacteria only grow in a stressful environments and can cause a imbalance in your gut microbiome (growth of harmful microbes and inactivation of helpful microbes causing all sorts of downstream problems). So, start today, set aside at least 5 minutes every day for mindful relaxation- breathwork, guided imagery, walk quietly in nature, listen to a favorite calming song, take a bath, or………… Your Microbiome Will Thank You.



BITE SIZE #4 – The Microbiome and MOOD

“You simply cannot improve mood disorders without improving the gut. Your gut has at least 50% control over your mood” -Microbiologist and Microbiome expert Kiran Krishnan.

The new research around the microbiome and mood is the most exciting area of research to me right now.

The microbiome directly impacts your brain and mood, including anxiety, depression, stress response, brain inflammation, degenerative disease susceptibility, and day to day focus (9).

The gut talks directly to the brain and the brain also talks directly to the gut. We call that bi-directional communication. They impact each other. It goes both ways. This happens from the start of life all the way to the end of life. The more diverse your gut microbiome, especially with certain species, the better your mood and brain function. Did you know your gut is called your second brain?!

There are a lot of different ways that the microbiome specifically impacts mood but I am going to highlight just a few here.

  1. Your gut microbes impact your neurotransmitters a few different ways. Serotonin is your happy neurotransmitter, dopamine is all about feeling good and Gaba helps you to feel calm (10). Many of your neurotransmitters are made by microbes in your gut or influenced by them. Your gut microbes also impact how tryptophan convert to melatonin and serotonin. Furthermore on the flip side, there are specific microbes like Campylobacter that make neurotransmitters that actually create anxiety in your brain (10). You need the right microbes to get these neurotransmitters right.
  2. Your stress response and HPA axis is directly influenced by your gut microbes in a few different ways. When you have a diverse and robust microbiome you are able to return to calm quicker after any stress response (in other words, your microbes dictate how well you return back to rest/digest or if you stay in fight/flight after stress). Specific microbes in your gut are linked to a better stress response and less anxiety and depression by way of specific peptidoglycans (a post biotic) that the microbes make in your gut (9). This postbiotic was key to helping develop the brain and central nervous system in utero (so moms gut makes a difference). After birth this postbiotic is still important as research shows it helps reduce perceived stress and it also is what helps puts the brain into theta waves or ‘flow state’ (enhanced focus, reduced mental fatigue). It improves sleep and decreases cortisol. Wow!! I told you postbiotics were important and yes, we know what strains are important.
  3. LPS- Lipopolysaccharides are made by certain bacteria in your gut and do not cause a big problem when they stay in your gut (another postbiotic but this time a pesky one). However, when they leak through a leaky gut into the blood they are able to cross the blood brain barrier and increase neurotoxicity and brain inflammation and is a huge driver of all mood disorders(9). LPS in the brain also impacts how neurotransmitters like dopamine in the brain are received, it can block the receptor and this is huge for addiction (10). New research shows that LPS are also connected to alzheimers and parkinsons.

So, again, if you want to improve mood and brain function, don’t forget about your microbiome. And the cool thing, there is so much you can do!!!

Tip #4- Did you know that dirt actually helps improve the diversity of your microbiome. There is research that shows playing in the dirt can and does improve the diversity of your microbiome in your gut! That might look like organic gardening in your backyard, playing in the mud on a river trip, having a picnic out on the trail, doing yard work, climbing around rocks, building a fort out back, raking the leaves, or any way you can mess about on the earth/dirt (8). Yay! Play on.


BITESIZE #5- Your Microbiome Impacts How Well you DETOX AND CLEAR various toxins


Our modern world is full of substances we need to detoxify and clear out of our body. We are built to do this. However the amount of toxins we are exposed to has increased exponentially and can in increasingly challenging to keep up with. One way to support detoxification is by tending to our microbiome and making sure we have plenty of healthy bacteria and that we are feeding them well.

The healthy bacteria in our gut help to break down toxins in our body and eliminate them through our
stool. New research shows this is even helpful with the breakdown and excretion of heavy metals (11).

On the flip side, when we have unfriendly microbes in our gut they produce harmful metabolites that need to be broken down (detoxed) and add to the the detox burden in our body.

Establishing a healthy microbiome helps on boths sides of the coin, so to speak.

Tip #5- Reduce the number of unnecessary over the counter and prescription medications you take. Reducing the amount of harsh chemical cleaners and antimicrobials will also help.


STAY TUNED FOR MORE!!!!

Find my 4 month Microbiome support protocol probiotics/prebiotics here. I think most people could us a set 3 months each year to work on seeding and feeding their microbiome if they want to function and age their best.

References

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7677487/– Article on Mucus membrane as a barrier function and the importance of the microbiome
  2. https://healthmeans.com/talk/6406?currentTime=0 – Leaky Gut, Endotoxemia, Inflammation and Microbiome Reconditioning. Dr. Kiran Krishan
  3. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28956703/ – Research on the microbiome and the immune system
  4. https://www.health.harvard.edu/nutrition/what-are-postbiotics
  5. https://health.clevelandclinic.org/postbiotics/
  6. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/postbiotics#health-benefits
  7. BiomeFx Lab Interpretation Guide. https://static1.squarespace.com/static/5e8cc993f9169c7045248796/t/61730a83e0a05800d54c9c47/1634929286312/BFx+-+Interpretation+Guide-Digital.pdf
  8. Does soil microbiome contribute to gut microbiome? Pubmed article. PMID: 31450753
  9. The Gut-Brain Axis & the Psychobiome https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BexCxqoe1cE
  10. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ec53P3M7ksQ– Mood disorders and your gut

Janel Ferrin Anderson FNLP, NC, DNM

Hello and welcome! I am Janel and I am obsessed with the science around how the human body functions and what impacts it. I help people use food and lifestyle to feel their best and to support short term and long term health. There is always a way to optimize how our unique body functions. Get curious with me. Learn more about me here and learn about working with me here

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Let’s Talk Poop

We need to talk about poop.

Did you know that your poop holds a lot of information about your health and how your body is functioning? It is an indicator of health in a lot of ways.

We are not taught enough about how important our poops are and we certainly don’t talk about it enough (unless you work with me of course;)).

Our poop quality, quantity, frequency, form, shape, smell, color and feel tall us a lot about our health. Our poops and the health of our colon relate to our mental health, our immune health, our energy, hormones (both sex hormones and thyroid hormones), and more.

Poop is one of the 3 most important places to focus on when dealing with any and all health issues or goals. Weather you are dealing with cancer, sleep problems, mental health issues, autoimmune problems, energy needs, body aches, skin issues, menopause, headaches, etc – your poop needs to be addressed.

Want to know what the other 2 areas to address are no matter what your health issues or goals are? Poop, Sleep, and Blood Sugar. More on those to come.

For now, check out the Bristol Stool Chart here to help you begin to understand your poops. That’s right, every time you poop have a look. Record it even. Start noticing what impacts it. We are shooting for type 4.



So what are we looking for exactly?

  • Frequency
  • Color
  • Form
  • If there are any undigested food particles in it
  • How easy is it to wipe? Is it greasy? Sticky?
  • Does it feel like you fully evacuated it all?
  • How does it smell?

We want to poop every day, have it come out easily, with form, no undigested food particles, it should break off pretty easily, wipe easily, and feel like you got everything out. It should feel good and not take much time at all.

If you are NOT having these poops regularly, it is time to get curious and see what your body is telling you.


Here are a few things your poop might be telling you (this is not meant to treat or diagnose or substitute one on one medical care but instead is meant to educate. Consult your physician with any medical questions or concerns)- 

Color- Bilirubin is made from the breakdown of red blood cells and flows with bile, from the liver, to the gallbladder, and into the small intestine to be eliminated with your poop.  It is what colors your poop brown! If your poop is cream colored it might mean you have a liver/gallbladder issue.  Yellow poop might mean you have absorption problems.  Green is usually okay and often happens when people introduce a greens powder.  Black might mean you have blood up high in your small intestine while red might mean you have bleeding lower down in your large intestine.  Sometimes supplements color our poop too. 


Texture–  Consult your bristol stool chart.  We are aiming for soft  poop but with a solid form, might even be C shaped.  If it is rock or pebble shaped you are probably constipated and need to work on softening it up with liquids and fiber.  If your poop does not have a shape you have diarrhea and might need to investigate inflammation, poor digestion, food sensitivities, fake sugar consumption (or sugar alcohols), or more.  If your poop is fluffy, with small soft pieces you may have a hard time digesting fats.


Smell– Does your poop smell? The bacteria in our large intestine and what we feed it creates and changes the way our poop smells. 


Float– This might mean there is gas trapped in your poop.  Are you gassy too?  You might need support with digestive enzymes or rebalancing your gut microbiome. 


Food-  If there is undigested food in your stool it might mean that you need to chew more, need more digestive enzymes, or more stomach acid. Start by chewing more and breathing before you eat. Seriously! It’s magic.  I love using digestive bitters as well as a gentle way to boost digestive juices. No matter what you are eating if you are not digesting at and absorbing it you cannot use those nutrients as precursors to your other body systems.


Oily, or messy wiping, or sticking together (not a clean break)- This might mean you are having a hard time digesting fats.  Some people need to consider some liver/gall bladder support, bitters, enzymes, or ox bile.  Do you have your gallbladder? Track when this happens and what you might be eating that relates.


Transit Time and Frequency- How often are you pooping? This is really important. We want to poop 1-2 times a day every single day. After our liver detoxes substances such as hormones, toxins, etc they are sent out with our bile to our poop. We want them leaving our body in a timely manner. If you are not pooping 1-2 times and have slow moving bowels you might want to look into how your thyroid is functioning, food sensitivities, your microbiome diversity, and your water intake. If you are rushing to the bathroom in an emergency and having watery poops that is also something to get curious around. Do you have anxiety? Food sensitivities? Maybe lacking proper digestive juices? Get curious and track what you are eating and when you are pooping.


You can download my FOOD/MOOD/POOP form to help you start tracking your body and connecting some dots

So start being curious about your poop. Our gut health and our microbiome influence all of our body systems including our mental health, immune health, hormone health, how we age, and more. Perfecting your poops might be your ticket to feeling your best!

You can check out a talk I gave a few years ago about digestion here


Janel Ferrin Anderson FNLP, DNM, NC

Janel is a board certified nutritionist, a functional nutrition and lifestyle practitioner, and has a doctorate in natural medicine. Janel helps people understand their body and supports them by using food and lifestyle to optimize health.



Happy New Year and Happy Resilience in 2022

Who out there doesn’t want to be more resilient? I know I do. There is a lot we have control over and a lot we don’t have control over. Building resilience is one of the greatest things we can do for our health so we are better prepared for whatever is thrown at us.I would love to quickly share 5 of my favorite health promoting things with you as we move into the new year. And as always I would love to hear what your favorite new tools are for finding balanced health and RESILIENCE.


Number one

Simple Self Care- The more I learn about health and science the more I come back to how important the small boring daily habits are for longerm health (not the shiny expensive new tricks and hacks). These everyday self care things fill up our health account so we can draw on it later and put us in touch with our body/emotions/needs. Try focusing on simple self care this year instead of a fancy new year’s resolution. I really love this idea. What fills you up? What small things can add to your daily life? Pick one to start and do it. Some ideas include

  • 3 minutes of mindful breathing every single morning. Inhale to the count of 4 and exhale to the count of 4. After, consider how you want to feel today and say no to anything you can that does not bring you closer to that feeling.
  • A glass of water, lemon water, or apple cider vinegar water upon waking up every single day.
  • Take a walk everyday at lunch every day, even just 10 minutes.
  • Take 1 minute before you eat to stop, breath, smell, see, and be grateful for your food. Then eat slowly and chew mindfully.
  • A daily 10 minute stretching routine.
  • Spend 2 minutes every night before bed considering what you were grateful for in your day, even the hardest ones
  • Prioritize sleep. Seriously. Every night try for 7-8 of rejuvenating sleep. If you are not getting it find support. Start by setting a non negotiable bed time. For me its 9-10pm.

Which ones do you do or sound like something you could add? I would love to hear. I would love to hear how you feel after a month or 2 or 12 of doing these small things. You can find me on instagram or send an email.


Number two

Cheers! or not….. I love that so many people take January as a time to refrain from drinking. What a great ritual. I did this last year and really saw some big changes especially with my night sweats! I can’t believe I used to have them (they have disappeared due to several hormone balancing efforts but this had a big impact). Two of my favorite cocktail replacements are having fresh ginger, soda water, and stevia or a glass of soda water with natural bitters (Herb Pharm makes some great ones that I spray right in). Both are so simple and so yummy.

Later last year I found Dry Farm Wines and am thrilled to find out that I can have a glass of wine every now again and don’t have headaches or wake up in the night. It had been a long time since I enjoyed red wine and I am so happy to be able to do this every once in a while now. The trick is Dry Farm Wines only supplies wines that have no sugar, are all organic, have lower alcohol, no toxic additives, no sulfites, use wild native yeasts, and are paleo and keto friendly. Crazy awesome. I am so happy to have found them for an occasional glass of wine. They offer 100% money back if you don’t like it AND you can get a free bottle of wine with your first order if you use this link (dryfarmwines.com/MountainRebalance).So an alcohol-free or headache/sugar/toxin-free cheers to you


Number three

It is official, I have found my favorite gluten test. Vibrant Wellness offers an extremely intelligent, specific and detailed test in regards to gluten with about 40 markers involved. This includes separate proteins, peptides, non gluten components, gut permeability, inflammation, genetics and more. It has been a game changer for really understanding if/how gluten is impacting each individual’s body. Their prices go up in 2 weeks so if you are interested in finding out what is true for you give a shout. They offer other similar, incredibly intelligent testing for other foods like eggs, dairy, grains, gut health, neuro etc.


Number four

Using a continuous blood sugar monitor has been one of my favorite new ways to tap into my body and connect some dots. It has been an incredible way to see how I am reacting to different foods, intermittent fasting, how I react to drinking alcohol, stress, exercise, coffee, what might be waking me up at night and tapping into how it feels when I have low blood sugar (sleepy and anxious for me!). Because dis-regulated blood sugar, along with dis-regulated stress, are 2 things that disrupt hormone balance this is a powerful way to optimize hormones through perimenopause and menopause (plus with estrogen changes our blood sugar sensitivity changes too!!). I did it for 4 weeks and will periodically check in again during the year, if needed. Since I do not have diabetes it was not something my doctor was interested in and I paid with cash for the sensor which was $65. As a nutritionist and hormone specialist I can attest that it is incredible and empowering information if done alongside someone who can help interpret the information in a relevant way.


Number 5

Being someone who understands the world through systems I have always loved thinking into and digging deep into the intricacies of the Immune system and how our world impacts how it functions. Obviously, in our current state of affairs, this has only been magnified. I think I will write a love note this year for valentines day to the efforts of the immune system (did you read my love letter to my gut a few years back? Dorky fun there). There are a lot of wild claims out there about immune health. I have been continuously digging into the research and the physiology of it and have been careful not to make any big shiny claims. I will always be careful to assess the science without any other motivation. A few food/lifestyle things I am standing by is the importance of gut health (including digestive function and microbiome integrity) when it comes to supporting the immune system functioning optimally. I am standing by the importance of reducing chronic inflammation in the body to support the immune system functioning optimally. These both look different for everyone and some people need to do more work and digging to find what might be driving imbalances. I am standing behind eating foods that are loaded with nutrients that our immune system needs (think nuts, seeds, diverse colorful veggies, fruits, healthy fats, clean proteins). In times that a boost of immune nutrients is needed I am a fan of increasing those specific and researched nutrients for our family with supplements. This winter, in particular, we are including zinc, vitamin D3, vitamin K2, fish oil, probiotics, and bee propolis. You can check out some of my favorites here.


Wishing you all a year of resilience and love. Wildly, Janel

Please follow Mountain Rebalance on Instagram for recipes, research, hormone tidbits, digestion facts, endurance boosters, and other fun health related topics. I always appreciate referrals! Tell you family and friends about my offerings if you think they would benefit


Janel Ferrin Anderson FNLP DNM NC

Janel is passionate about helping people learn about their body and supporting them to use food, lifestyle, and nutrients to help their body function optimally.



Meaningful And Unconventional Holiday Gifts To Give Yourself And Loved Ones This Season. Leaning Into The Season

I love celebrating the season and the idea of giving but the pressure and hype of the winter holiday just doesn’t feel right to me.

So how can we take the good intention of giving, make it health promoting, slow things down, sprinkle on some cozy, and minimize the pressure?

First of all, feel free to make the holiday what you want it to be. What brings you joy? Do more of that. What brings you stress? Do less of that. You get to decide what you want your holiday to feel like.

Here are 14 unconventional but health promoting gifts that you can give yourself and others this holiday season to slow things down and bring back the warm and tender feelings of the winter holiday season.

  1. Quiet. This is number one because I think it is the most important and wonderful gift you can give yourself this holiday. I know there is not a lot of extra time in the day, I am realistic with 4 kids and two working parents. But even just 4 minutes in the morning or anytime can be magic. Pick a time of day. Light a candle, take a bath, take 5 rounds of breath or do a body scan. Whatever way you choose, choose to add some moments of quiet in your day this holiday starting today. Do you hear that? Me neither. Ahhhhhh.
  2. Tea. I really believe in the healing qualities of tea physically, emotionally and spiritually. Tea can bring so much to your life. Share a pot of tea with your family or friends or enjoy a cup by the fire by yourself. The nutrients in tea are wonderfully bioavailable or easy to absorb, and tea can bring ease and calm to a crazy day. Some favorites of mine to help relax include lemon balm, catnip, nettles, chamomile and motherwort.
  3. Dark. Bring it in. The pace of the holiday can be loud, bright, and busy. I invite you to welcome in the dark where you can. The winter is meant to be darker and a time of turning more inward and restoring. Truth is we need dark to help our circadian rhythm which is responsible for so much including metabolism and sleep. Try leaning into the dark by using more candles this time of year, keep the mornings a bit darker and the evenings darker too. Try keeping off the overhead lights a bit and see how that feels. If you need to be on electronics at night get a blue light filter for your computer or glasses to block out the blue light. The Circadian Code by Satchin Panda is a great read about how important our circadian rhythm is.
  4. Processing our stress is so important for overall health. This holiday explore a new way to process stress better. Try guided imagery, or meditation, or a body scan, tapping, or breath practice. There are classes, books, and apps to help. I love the simplicity of the Calm app, or the wonderful options at Sounds True but there are thousands of good ones out there including lovely community groups that meet regularly. Don’t overthink it, just try something.
  5. Get outside. Take a walk outside every single day this month. Yes, that is a gift to yourself. Even just 10 minutes is good. Listen to the sounds, notice the trees, the birds, the air, the sun, the smell, the ground underfoot. Or, if you want to connect with a friend ask them to meet you for walk but only if it brings you joy and peace. However you do it, alone or with a loved one, bundle up and get out there.
  6. Learn a new hobby. This can be so fun so think outside of the box. Maybe it is wood work, pottery, painting, parkour, dance, guitar, a new language, tai chi, etc. What have you always wanted to learn? Sign up! Buy yourself or loved ones some classes this holiday.
  7. Bring some art into your life. Maybe you can check out a new art exhibit with a friend, or a concert, or visit local art studios, or get tickets to the theatre, or get a good coffee table book of pictures of people around the world, or pick up some colored pencils and paper and color or draw or paint.
  8. Spend some time cooking this holiday. Either learn a new recipe, ask your friends or children to cook with you, or prepare some healing foods for yourself or loved ones. Ideas include sauerkraut, granola, juices, broths, elixirs, soups, energy balls, or sprouts. These foods make wonderful gifts too. Drop a juice off at a friends or package up some granola. Want support? Get yourself or a loved one a lifelong membership to the Healing Foods Club. Loads of videos, recipes, nutrient info and more. .
  9. Consider a charity to donate to and donate whatever you can, big or small. I like to think in terms of one local charity, one national charity and one international charity. What matters to you? Find a charity that makes a difference in that area and go for it. Ideas include women’s health, environmental issues, children, local shelters, protecting the wilderness, refugees.
  10. Explore your gut. If you have a bit more money to spend this holiday on yourself it might be fun to do a functional test to see what the condition of your gut is like. Since our current and longterm health is rooted in our gut it is fun to see what microbes are there, how they might be impacting our hormones, how we are digesting food, the integrity of our gut wall, if we have gut inflammation, etc.
  11. Clean products. The holiday is a great time to get yourself or loved ones some clean lotions or oils or soaps or scrubs, etc. The Environmental Working Group is a fabulous resource to find the cleanest products that will also support healthy hormone balance and cellular health in your body.
  12. Journal. Again, it often seems like we don’t have time to journal but it can be an incredibly helpful and rewarding ritual to journal each day. You don’t need to overthink it. Just sit down for 5 minutes and write whatever comes to your mind. Cozy up by the fire if you can or just at the kitchen table works too. The more you do it the easier it will become. The first step is getting yourself a journal. Wrap it up for yourself or just jump right in. The winter months bring a quieter and more reflective energy than the summer months. The winter is the perfect time to start or reignite your journaling practice.
  13. Be playful. So often as adults the holiday brings us stress and we forget to play. Play board games with loved ones, have snowball fights, go ice skating, make your own wreath, go sledding, make a snowman, have a bonfire outside and invite friends over to roast marshmallows, dress up and ski with your friends, etc. Whatever play looks like to you. Bring in some lighthearted joy this holiday.
  14. Sleep. Sleep is critical for our health and is often under valued during the busy holiday. Gift yourself a bedtime this year and stick to it. Create a lovely ritual around your sleep. Add a relaxing bath of lavender and sea salts before bed or start a worry journey to release any worries from the day before you go to bed. Make sure your room is cool and dark to get the best sleep and leave your phone far away from your bed, better yet in another room. If you want a great book on sleep check out Why We Sleep by Mathew Walker and look out for The Sleep Club!
  15. Books! We give books in my house on the Solstice. I love this sweet tradition. A couple of my favorite feel good books this year are Braiding Sweetgrass, Mirrors In The Earth, and Atlas of The Heart.

Happy holidays. I hope you enjoy some quiet, dark, cozy, and meaningful times this holiday with your loved ones. Spend some time thinking about how you want this holiday to feel. Set an intention. I would love to hear how you do this. Please share with us here or on instagram at @mountainrebalance.wellness

XO Janel


Janel Anderson FNLP NC DNM

It is my mission to help people understand their body better, how it works, how it changes, how it is impacted by our world and how we can improve symptoms and function while preventing future health issues. I use science, education, food, lifestyle, herbs, and nutrients, to shift the body towards better function. I focus on midlife mountain women but am happy to work with anyone. Learn more about me here


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The Best Gift You Can Give Your Kids? Teach Them To Cook

One of the most powerful ways to live a healthy and long life is to cook whole, real foods at home. It also happens to be delicious and low cost to boot. The sad thing, most of our kids are not learning to do this.

I am not going to lie and say it happens overnight nor is it a clean process, wink wink, but that day you come home from work to a hot and nourishing meal waiting for you will not disappoint, I promise.

There were some tears shed the first time I came home from work and carpools to my daughters home cooked meal waiting for me. Those tears in the moment were all about how much joy it brought me but really the magic is in knowing that she knows what makes a nutritious meal, knows how to make a grocery list, shop, and cook. The clean up? Well, when the kids cook at our house that usually falls on the rest of us. We certainly aren’t perfect.

Kids can start cooking as soon as they can stand and stir, gaining more independence as they get experience. By 3rd or 4th grade they can definitely start to get what makes a nutritious meal or snack (see below). In my experience, by middle school they can be planning meals, shopping, and cooking meals on their own. But moving slowly is important, and keeping it joyful. Whatever age they start is better than not starting. Jump in.

The first trick is teaching them what makes a healthy meal. This comes from day after day and year after year modeling with your own meals and asking them 1. What are you eating for protein? 2. What colorful veggies and fruit are you eating? and 3. What healthy fat have you included? The rest is just extras after these 3 parts. They will pick up on this and this is a gift upon itself to instill on them.

Another part involves giving them experience in the kitchen. There are times this has looked like world war 3 came through but it is worth it. First helping you with cooking/preparing dishes regularly. Then, letting them have at it. Let them start small, cooking or baking what they want but having the space and encouragement to keep at it, flop after flop, success after success, no matter. There can be a lot of joy here and also lessons about flexibility and having a plan B. Let them use the knives, the oven, the blender, whatever. You can be there guiding and supporting at the beginning.

Then there is making the grocery list and planning the meals. Let them help you pick meals for the week. Write them down and have them write out the grocery list as you dictate it at first, or have them make a list for the thing they are cooking. Showing them how to organize a grocery list into one column of pantry goods, one column of produce, and one column of fridge/freezer foods, or however you do it. Regardless, have them helping to write a list.

Another element is getting them comfortable at the market. Bring them along and have them pick things out, have their own list, push the cart, pick out produce, etc. Teach them to pay, bag, load the car, unload the bags and put them away. You can just make this normal.

Last but certainly not least is sitting around the table and enjoying the food. We are not going for perfect here. Whatever part of the meal they contribute is great. Show them gratitude for their efforts. Talk about what they enjoyed, what was hard, what they learned. And above all, eat up!

We have our kids pick a meal once a month, make the list, shop, and cook. At first there is a lot of hand holding and that is all good. Keep the kitchen joyful and playful. Flops and drops are okay. Then over time let the have more freedom and space to work on their own. Having 4 kids, this happened at different pace for each one. Some jumped right in and others need more support (emotionally and motivationally, 🥴). But it will happen and I truly believe it is the greatest gift we can them.

I grew up with the kitchen as the heartbeat of our house, as my mom says. We were always in there. We were never a sit-on-the-couch family but instead a stand or sit around the kitchen and someone was always cooking or baking something. It was fun, it was perhaps loud, but learning to touch, cook, and enjoy food was a central theme and seeped into our bones.

Today with phones and gaming, sports, binge watching- spending time together in the kitchen together offers a unique pace that can bring deep connection and joy. And lets not forget, health.

Below are my kids go to meals. We are currently compiling a packet for the Healing Foods Club with my kids favorite recipes to cook for dinner along with a kid friendly guide to how to build a meal. Check out the Healing Foods Club if you are interested in using your kitchen as a source of lifelong health.

Happy holidays, xo, Janel

Scarlett (middle school), her favorite meal to cook is herb baked chicken with onions and lemon, a greek salad with olives and cucumbers, and lemon garlic potatoes.

Levi (highschool), his favorite dinners to cook are pad thai and Japanese ramen bowls. We are working on filling in the veggies in these but they are scrumptious.

Gretal (4th grade) is more of a gourmet baker right now and helps me with side dishes for dinner. Her favorite thing to make is a gluten free strawberry cake roll (pictured and taken by her). It is currently my favorite dessert!! She is also mastering gluten free tiramisu. Yum. She also loves taking photos of the food and drinks she makes. I will find dozens of them on my phone😍

Clay (4th grade) is probably our least interested and least patient in the kitchen kiddo but he is working on it and can make a beautiful salad. He wants to master double stuffed potatoes. We are learning that if he can find a dish from a book he has read he is more interested. What do the Hobbits eat anyway?

Janel Ferrin Anderson FNLP, NC, DNM

Janel is a Functional Nutritionist,  a board certified holistic nutritionist, and a science based wellness educator out of Tahoe CA.   Janel is obsessed with helping people understand how their unique  body works and how nutrition and lifestyle impact their health.   Janel specializes in gut health,  hormone health and works with people who want to optimize how their body functions.  Janel explores what might be driving signs and symptoms instead of just covering them up.  She teaches several groups each year and also works one on one with clients.  When not working, Janel can usually be found cooking, reading, or playing hard outside and enjoying the pace of the wild. 


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