Boosting Your Kids Immunity Even Mid Winter

This article appeared for Paleo on the Go

We’re in the middle of cold and flu season and most of us would be willing to do anything to boost our immune system, and even more to boost those of our kids. If you’ve kids then you might feel that you live in a Petri dish – but you or your kids simply cannot get sick just by being in contact with someone who is (although that certainly doesn’t help). Only a sick body can get sick, so if you keep your child boosted and healthy they will have a much greater chance of dealing with the viruses and bacteria that they come in contact with. And prevention would be awesome but that was months ago! So how do we build immune function in our children and create the highest resistance to infection possible mid winter? Supplements? Foods?


We can boost our kids immunity even mid winter by activating their immune systems and encouraging resistance through a healthy diet, adequate sleep, maintaining exercise even in the winter, and using nutritional supplements. Simple right? But a lot of this advice is belly up to what we’ve been lead to believe!
Before we get started though, let’s go back to the first sentence: we’re in the middle of cold and flu season? Flu is not a season. It’s an inability to adapt due to increased sugar intake and stress combined with decreased sun exposure and water intake. And that’s exactly the steps we need to activate our kids immune systems and encourage resistance.
Sugar and stress: it’s all a mess
You could go as far as detoxing your little sugar monsters but really decreasing our kids’ sugar intake and stress can be as simple as transitioning them to a whole food diet. Note transitioning: not expecting your kids to eat like angels all the time but likewise not giving into eating sugary processed refined things most of the time either. Feeding kids as we currently do just isn’t good enough, in fact it’s stressful on their bodies.
Nutrient density in whole foods is made for winter! Think about the foods you feel like in winter: curries (think turmeric), casseroles (think slow cooked meats and sneaky veggies), soups (bone broths and more sneaky veggies) and ‘heavier’ breakfasts like pancakes. There’s a reason: your body knows what it needs. But just how much so in winter, what exactly is enough to boost immunity?
– In winter, we should be focused on getting our kids to eat BUTTER with a side of broccoli instead of the other way around! Not only will this increase vitamin/mineral absorption from the veggies they actually do eat, it will provide the kind of fat soluble vitamins that help develop beautiful straight teeth, strong bodies and good dispositions.
– Butter and free range eggs (use organic sources) will help maintain necessary levels of vitamin A particularly. The beta-carotene form of vitamin A from vegetable sources is not absorbed as well as retinoid forms from animal sources and a supplement of beta-carotene will need at least 10 times the dose of beta-carotene compared to a retinoid vitamin A supplement (e.g. from fish oil). Combine the two and cook some colorful root veggies in duck lard. They’re great as is with a roast or steak, in salads, or blend with eggs and cacao for chocolate breakfast pancakes (maybe ease up on the garlic in the night before cooking if that’s your plan)
– Choosing grass fed pastured mess are the best for your child. And slow cooking not only saves you time but protects these precious proteins from high heat. try adding turmeric to curries for added anti inflammatory powers this winter alongside those preserved amino acids from slow cooked meats you’ve also had the time to sit down and relax or play with your kids instead of cooking that night!
– Even tho it’s winter encourage kids to eat lots of fruits in season in winter. In fact they should be given as a child’s only source of sugar where possible and if not try sugar detoxing them this winter. A whole foods diet will provide the best support for maintaining healthy cellular function in kids. But this can be a challenge for many kids who crave foods that are processed and sweet and they sure have opportunities to eat these foods in their daily lives! But young kids will eat what’s offered so remember, processed and sweet can not offered!
Let kids be their own guide
– Sometimes we just don’t feel like a big meal, or a big meal of meat, or veggies for that matter. Let your kids be the guide to what they want – and true they will try and get away with what they can initially but everyone discovers what they want and chooses what they need in the end has happy consequences. This was actual results of a study!
– Kids’ favorite meals in winter can be the best opportunity to increase nutrient density for immune boosting. Try a chicken pot pie, paleo tarts, or plantain pancakes maybe with a big dollop of grass fed butter, maple syrup and cinnamon, the latter being a natural insulin moderator, which alongside the healthy fats in the butter, will slow down any sugar spike from that little bit of maple syrup.


Children need vitamin D for bone growth and development. So do babies developing in the womb. This is because vitamin D helps us absorb calcium. And while kids won’t get enough vitamin D from food alone, food with lots of vitamin D can add to the vitamin D your child gets from sunshine.
Vitamin D foods, not vitamin D added foods

Foods naturally containing vitamin D include fresh fatty fish (salmon, herring, mackerel and sardines), mushrooms, liver and egg yolks. However, foods that have vitamin D added to them are something to be avoided! These include margarine, some low-fat milk and dairy products. Even infant formula contains added vitamin D.

Be sun smart

Spending too long in the sun isn’t good for your skin, so it’s important to use sun protection. During summer, especially between 10 am and 4 pm, make sure your child stays safe in the sun with sunscreen, a hat, sunglasses, clothing that keeps the sun off and access to plenty of shade.

In winter, none of us really get enough sunshine so try and get some on your face at least once a day. Consider vitamin D3 supplementation too, particularly in lower sunlight areas like Northern America.

Water intake: even more so in winter 
In summer we’re hot, we sweat, we get thirsty. Generally we drink to replace fluids in summer, even kids. But breathing in cold air in winter needs warming before being used in our lungs, which has a water cost that doesn’t even figure in the summer equation. Summer or winter (or spring or fall for that matter!) adults and kids should make sure they get enough water for normal body function.
– Get 1/2 your body weight in water a day with a pinch of salt in each glass
– Try making your own bone broth or purchase instead of coffee. It’s no wonder our body craves warm beverages and soups in winter and the nutrients of this giving drink will love you back.
– Limit coffee and tea, soda and juices. Water is water and none of these even come close to hydrating you, in fact they cost you in water with the sugars they contain which require insulin transport in your blood, done so in water!
– With babies and kids look at the amount of wet diapers or pee times. The yellower pee, the more dehydrated your little ones so get them to drink up
Adequate sleep (the forgotten stress even in kids)
Maintaining exercise even in the winter, and using nutritional supplements – or therapeutic levels of foods containing natural supplements – we know our bodies will over use in winter might seem obvious pointers for immune boosting throughout winter. But sleep or lack thereof can be just as important a stress removal. So just how do we help kids realize there’s times for running around like a mad person and other times for slowing down (apart from empathy and our own actions of course!).
– Start scheduling a regular wake-up time in school times. Everyone should wind down at night – maybe reading or chatting near bed with lights dimmed which is calming and sets the mind for sleep. Turn off electronic screens at least 60 minutes before bedtime. Avoid caffeine and sugary drinks, particularly in the second half of the day. Oh and just because I need it myself I’ll say it again, lead by example and you’ll only all benefit!

One final word: don’t worry if your kids get sick, only if they’re sick all the time. In fact be more concerned if they don’t get sick from time to time, but that’s a whole other article. This winter just remember, all stress summates: sugar, stress itself, lack of sleep, lack of water and sunlight to name a few. But these are also the areas we can all work on in winter to help boost our kids immunity. Nutrition is the key to good health. Most of the time we reach for vitamins and supplements in winter dreading what is to come, but research has particularly queried their absorption in kids. Nutrient dense whole foods, however, are something you can choose to immune boost your kids this ‘season’. Oh and of course a paleo meal service can provide your immune boosting food, ready made so you can relax and wind down to hibernate this winter like all the other animals in the animal kingdom.

This article appeared for Paleo on the Go

Intuitively, most moms know that what they eat will have a significant impact on their developing fetus. Researchers agree those 9 months of pregnancy are the most consequential months of our lives, permanently influencing the wiring of our brain and the functions of our heart and liver. Special preconception and pregnancy diets especially in traditional cultures have always emphasized eating foods that are particularly rich in certain nutrients known to promote healthy growth and development.

No mom wants to do anything that might risk the health of her future child. But when the information you get from well-meaning doctors and nutritionists isn’t up to date, that’s what’s happening. We’re seeing childhood obesity, diabetes, allergies and asthma. Not to mention a growing society of children with behavioral issues.

Not surprisingly, during pregnancy your body has increased nutritional needs. This makes sense because you’re now eating for more than one. It’s probably what led us to the old adage “eating for two”. However, the old saying isn’t entirely correct. Your body does need more quality macronutrients (carbs, fats, proteins and water) and micronutrients (calcium, folate, and iron) during pregnancy. Except the ones you actually need might not be what you’ve heard.


Here’s five nutrition myths that every expecting mother should know. The take home message is simply to trust that real food is optimal in pregnancy. Any “expert” who tries to convince you that you need fortified cereal, must avoid some of nature’s most nutrient-dense foods and should go low fat while you watch your weight during pregnancy, hasn’t dug deep enough into the research.


A baby’s brain is 70% fat so limiting mom’s dietary fat means limiting baby brain development. In fact high-fat foods (especially of animal origin) have always been central to reproductive health in traditional cultures. Examples of these foods include foods eggs, organ meats, tallow, and fatty fish. They provide an abundance of vitamins A, D, E, and K and omega-3, DHA, that are needed in higher amounts during pregnancy.

Restricting fat limits your (and more importantly your baby’s) access to these nutrients. The classic advice to “eat lean meat” ends up limiting the quantity of glycine in the diet, an amino acid that is critical for normal cardiovascular development and tissue development in a growing baby. The primary sources of glycine are the skin, bones, and connective tissue of meat, poultry, and fish. So, enjoy the crisp skin on your chicken, relish some yummy pulled pork, and don’t trim the fat off your steak.

Clearly, the whole idea of eating a low-fat diet, pregnant or not, is not founded on solid scientific evidence.


Eating for two is physically impossible. With an ever-increasing sized baby on board, all of your organs are being squashed under your ribs. There’s simply not the room to eat more than you normally would. Eating nutrient dense food is really the only way to get the energetic nutrients you and the baby need during pregnancy.

However, this doesn’t mean cutting carbs either! The truth is that nothing is good or bad just in or out of balance and too many carbs or calories is going to make things out of balance whether you’re pregnant or not.

If you’re going to count anything while pregnant count nutrients! As parents we become, if not already, conscious of lowering our sugar intake more than ever during pregnancy. Leveling out our macronutrient intake instead of going high carb during pregnancy means lowering your sugar intake.


A few decades ago, doctors actually encouraged mothers to consume liver throughout pregnancy. Nowadays we’re often warned against it because liver is high in vitamin A. Studies on synthetic vitamin A (from supplements) show that too much can lead to birth defects. So, following that simple logic, liver should be avoided. Unless considering the one third of pregnant women don’t consume enough vitamin A. So, eating liver for them would actually be hugely beneficial. What’s the right way to go?

It turns out that food-sourced vitamin A does not have the same toxicity as synthetic vitamin A supplements, especially when it’s consumed with adequate vitamin D and vitamin K, both of which happen to be found in liver. Liver is also rich in choline, which is necessary for normal brain and eye development and the prevention of neural tube defects. In addition, liver boasts high levels of folate, all the B vitamins, iron, zinc, and more. It’s quite literally like eating your prenatal vitamins!


Thinking it’s best to stay out of the sun while pregnant? Think again.  It’s hard not to consider the importance of sunlight when you’re thinking about the importance of vitamin D. The nutritional therapist in me immediately thinks about the importance of vitamin D for normalizing your cholesterol levels. Considering the link between your cholesterol levels and breast milk, the milk from a healthy mother has about 50 to 60 percent of its energy (kilocalories) as fat. The cholesterol in human milk supplies an infant with close to six times the amount most adults consume from their food. Vitamin D plays a role in lung development, protecting the newborn and probably a much larger role in fetal development than currently understood due to its interaction with vitamin A.


One of the main dietary recommendations accompanying a low fat diet when pregnant concerns the avoidance of fish. Honestly, I’d probably agree for fish higher up the food chain who are more likely to contain mercury like shark, orange roughy, swordfish and ling. Unborn babies are most sensitive to the effects of mercury, particularly during the third and fourth months of gestation. So, mom’s avoiding eating fish that contain high levels of mercury makes sense. But complete avoidance of fish makes no sense, especially during pregnancy.

Fish are especially nutrient dense in essential omega 3 fatty acids. These are essential because our bodies cannot make these fats although we need them in our diet. It turns out the conversion of ALA to DHA in humans is incredibly poor. Plus, if your diet is high in omega-6 (which happens to be concentrated in seeds, nuts, and vegetable oils where you obtain ALA which a lot of us have been adhering to following advice toward these oils), this conversion rate drops.

Interestingly a diet high in saturated fat, however, improves this conversion rate, but the truth is… no matter what, you cannot provide enough DHA for your growing baby if you do not eat DHA directly. The best source of DHA, by far, is fish as described above. If you do not eat fish, you can take fish oil, cod liver oil, or algae oil to obtain DHA. You’ll also find smaller amounts of DHA in eggs from pastured chickens and meat from pasture-raised or grass-fed animals (but only if you eat the yolks and fattier cuts of meat).


So, if you feel good basing your diet on pasture-raised meats (including organ meat), eggs, wild-caught fish, a variety of vegetables, nuts, seeds, some fruit (and maybe some grass-fed dairy if that works with your body), rest assured, you are providing your baby with optimal nutrition! You’ll also ensure the quality of your breast milk and while baby gets first dibs on your nutrient supply, you’ll be looking after the both of you.

Why Vegetarian Isn’t Healthiest For Kids
 This article appeared for Paleo on the Go


Is being vegetarian healthy for your kids? With all the food information out there on toxins in our foods, food processing, preservatives, coloring, high heating, packaging, low salt or low sugar, fat free or gluten free, no carbs, high proteins, surely diets based on plant based food are best right? Actually no. When we look at the science behind what our bodies need, a plant based diet couldn’t be worse for optimal nourishment, especially of a growing baby or child. 

Despite arguments to the contrary, the fact remains that we humans are omnivores. We can eat- and thrive- on most anything edible. The exact proportions of animal vs. vegetable food that we consume varies from person to person as we’re as unique on the inside as well as out. When we look to history and traditional people (who weren’t subject to most if not all our current illnesses) it’s almost impossible to point to a society or a culture that has thrived and prospered without eating any animal products. Even apparently vegetarian cultures like the Masai eat blood and oftentimes plagues provided an abundance of insects that could be dried for later dining in times of need for any population living off the land. (The only group I can think of that does it successfully is Tibetian monks, and then they don’t reproduce). All this considered, kids are still another matter and when their nutrient needs are considered, plants alone will not do it. 

Plant based diets might sound perfectly ‘natural’ but many plants have mineral blockers, enzyme inhibitors, protein digestion blockers, poorly absorbed minerals, digestive irritants, are often inflammatory, tend to be high in sugars and nearly always deficient in nutrients critical for growth and development. 



Then diets free of animal foods include low levels of, or less available nutrients, such as: 

– vitamins A and D (fat soluble activators), resulting in poor mineral use

– body ready essential fatty acids – AA EPA DHA – necessary for brain and cognitive development, immune support and anti-inflammation

– CoQ10, necessary for fighting free radicals and aiding cardiovascular health

– cholesterol, necessary for brain development and cellular communication

– body-ready B6 for several conversions of happiness neurotransmitters and detox pathway. B6 helps B12 and folic acid convert harmful homocysteine – a risk factor for cardiovascular disease

– B12 – you simply can’t absorb a reasonable amount of bioavailable B12 from plant foods – and soy further increases the need for b12, and because vitamin B12 is found only in animal source foods, strict vegetarianism has long been associated with a greater risk of deficiency of this vitamin. 

– body-ready zinc and iron. Heme iron, the most absorbable form of iron, is found only in animal foods. 

– the amino acids (the smallest building block of animal proteins) carnitine, taurine and carnosine, necessary for fighting free radicals inflammation and helpful for cardiovascular health, aiding in fat metabolism and cellular energy production and protecting the eyes and brain.


Several researchers have found that animal foods are so important in ensuring proper growth, height, strength and intelligence, they actually conclude it unhealthy not to include animal foods in children’s diets. We agree that anyone who values their health should be against factory farming. However, we still need to strongly recommend parents provide the best quality animal foods available for feeding their babies at this critical age. Get your animal foods from pastured farms and you will be supporting animal husbandry that is humane, healthy and the happiest for the animals. Plus, you’ll be supplying superior nutrient content for your child. In fact, reasonable amounts of grass-fed meat, wild fish, free-range eggs and other non-contaminated animal protein sources consumed as part of a diet high in fiber with vegetables, fruits and omega-3 fats, aren’t associated with any bad outcomes at all. 


vegetarianMost wise experts agree that there is no single diet that is best for everyone, so a vegetarian/vegan diet may work for some, but not the majority; most people will achieve better health if some high quality animal proteins are included in their diet. With the cost of ethical meat being slightly higher than the norm, probably means if more people purchased their meat based on ethics they might also consume less meat and add more plant based meals into their diet. That ‘s something one would assume vegetarians and vegans would encourage? Nothing is good or bad, just in or out of balance, and mostly that balance is a quality decision! Those decisions are especially important when it comes to kids!

Ultimately, you must listen to your body as it can provide you with information about what type of diet is best for you. However, if you’re truly caring for your kids at the most critically developing time of their lives, including high quality animal proteins as part of their balanced diet can be one of the biggest gifts of health you could give them. 

Why Are We Drawn To Foods That Harm Us?
 This article appeared for Paleo on the Go


why are we drawn to foods that harm usYou’ve probably heard that an elimination diet is one of the best ways to discover if you’re allergic or sensitive to certain foods. You simply stop eating those foods for about three weeks to three months before reintroducing them to decide if you’re going to eat them ever again. However, the notion that we might not know we’re allergic or sensitive to a food until we stop eating it sounds may be a little hard to fathom!

Unfortunately, most of the things we love are often convenient – processed, packaged, throw together meals. The downfall with these meals is that the biggest portions are bread, pasta or rice. Let’s stop there for a moment. When did foods stop being about enjoyment and start being quick, filling meals just to get the job done?

Actually, it’s this relegating food from ‘priority’ to ‘inconvenience’ that we can draw from to see why this is not an elaborate plan against food pleasure. Simply put, food reactions cause the body stress. The body responds by producing endorphins, which are in the opiate family along with morphine. Opiates make us feel good, so we end up craving and consuming more of these same foods in an effort to get more of these addictive, “happy” chemicals. This then feeds the food sensitivity reactions that lead to more addictive chemicals… and we embark on a continual cycle of craving and reacting. Sugar and gluten are probably the worst culprits! But before going into cravings and what they mean for your body’s needs there’s one step we often overlook: most of us have really poor stomach acid and subsequent digestion.


There is a simple table following you can scroll to right now for a simple this for that food craving for deficiency solution. But really the place to start is your digestion. Even if you eat a diet rich in the most nutrient dense whole foods there is on offer, if you can’t digest them then that’s what they’re going to be the next morning either still in your tummy causing you discomfort or in your toilet bowl if you’ve managed to keep things moving. Because the key to optimal digestion is optimal stomach acid: acidic enough to move food through from your stomach for the next meal and get all the nutrients out to be used where they’re needed in your body so they’re not just leftovers that end up in your toilet bowl.

And low stomach acid is more of an issue than ever before because we’re snacking constantly on highly addictive and sugary foods which drain our acid supplies, antacids, watching cooking and thinking about food too much. Dieting in itself lowers your stomach acid! Stomach acid is just something we’ve either tried to prevent or we’ve over used and it’s time to start nourishing it back to self regulatory usefulness.


The simplest way that you can kick start the production of your own stomach acid by really taking the time to be conscious about what you’re eating, enjoying each mouthful, its taste and flavor and how great it makes you feel as it satiates your appetite. And eating three wholesome meals a day and avoiding the need to snack regularly. Squeezing naturally occurring acids such as lemon or lime over your food or drinking a tsp of concentrated raw apple cider vinegar before or during meals can also assist in the process of getting your food broken right down to its really useful and absorbable components.  There are also some inexpensive natural acid supplements on the market in the form of HCl capsules which can be purchased from many well-reputed health stores.


Antacids are commonly taken to neutralize the stomach after its acidic contents have ‘fluxed’ back up into the esophagus and ‘burned’ its lining (the heartburn sensation).  Ironically, this situation occurs when the stomach isn’t acidic enough in the first place to completely digest the food within, so it gets trapped in there for longer where it putrefies and expands, and is regurgitated back out through the incoming valve. So sure they work to put out the fire but then you’re adding even more to the problem with even less acidity you now have to swallow. They are not a long term solution!


  1. Lack of nutrient density
  • Inadequate Dietary Fats – Our bodies require plenty of healthy saturated fats for proper function of the nerves, brain, hormones, immune system and metabolism. When we consume enough saturated fats, we produce a hormone in the stomach that signals we’ve eaten enough. Depriving our bodies of enough saturated fats can lead to cravings for more food, even though we’ve already satisfied our caloric needs. Crave sugar? Try a dab of a healthy fat and see how it calms that impulse.
  • Inadequate Nutrient Absorption – With un-mediated autoimmunity, the irritated, out-of-balance gut environment frequently can’t support proper nutrient absorption. When we don’t assimilate food well, or don’t eat nutrient-dense food, our body craves extra food in the attempt to fill in the nutritional blanks. We don’t always crave the correct foods, though, and can end up reaching for something that doesn’t support our health.
  • Inadequate B Vitamins – We need a high amount of beneficial gut bacteria to make the B vitamins; with the small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) common in autoimmunity, we frequently see a lack of these bacteria, which leads to an inability to produce enough Vitamin B6. B6 is necessary for making serotonin… and a lack of serotonin can result in a craving for sugar.
  • Thirst – Thirst can manifest as a craving for concentrated carbohydrates. If you crave carbs, drink 8-12 ounces of fresh filtered water, wait 20 minutes and see if you still have the craving.
  1. Sugar cravings
  • Blood sugar balance – When we consume excess sugars, the body quickly releases extra insulin to help balance blood sugar by transporting glucose into the cells. Afterwards, the blood sugar can drop too low again, resulting in a craving for more sugar, repeating the cycle. Chronic highs and lows of blood sugar can result in insulin resistance, where the body gets tired of the roller-coaster and can’t absorb glucose properly into the cells.
  • Unfriendly bacteria, candida and other parasites – An overgrowth of yeast, fungi and bad bacteria in the intestinal tract is common in people with chronic illness and autoimmunity. These critters live on sugar, and increase our desire for sugar and carbs. Other intestinal parasites also love sugar, creating sugar cravings.
  • Sugar and brain neurotransmitters – Sugar consumption artificially stimulates the brain to produce dopamine, the “pleasure neurotransmitter”. Afterwards, dopamine levels drop and we can start to feel a bit “down”. We crave this pleasant, feel-good feeling again…and go for the sugar



As you can see, maintaining stable blood sugar is critical for avoiding food cravings. Some good tools for keeping blood sugar stable:

  1. Protein helps balance blood sugar; inadequate protein intake can trigger sugar cravings.
  2. Always have a protein- and fat-strong breakfast, with a minimum of sugars. This helps set the blood glucose on an even footing for the day, avoiding the mid-afternoon crash where all you want is caffeine and sugar. Avoid fruits before lunch for added stability.
  3. Avoid all processed carbs and sugar, and keep natural sugars to a minimum.
  4. When you crave sugar, try drinking water, or eat a snack strong in protein and fat.

It’s true that not all food cravings are misdirected. Sometimes we really need a nutrient our body tells us to eat. When we’re out of balance, it’s harder to know if a craving is healthy. As you heal your gut lining, repair nutrient deficiencies, and stabilize your blood sugar, your judgment of food cravings is likely to improve. A good gauge is a calm knowing, not a desperation, for a certain food or food group. When in doubt, take protein and fat.

Is it the saltiness of potato chips, the cool creaminess of ice cream, or the rich flavor of chocolate? Whatever you’re longing for, it may be your body’s way of letting you know you’re missing valuable nutrients. Here’s how to decode your cravings.



One last thing. The less you eat an allergenic food the more it affects you. Sounds a lot like another reason to not eliminate those foods you love from your diet right? The less gluten the more a gluten blow out hurts your insides. The less sugar the more of a sugar high and then low low low you experience. They’re not pretty. But food sensitivity like these are not so different to our body’s cravings for food deficiencies: the more inflammation padding the space between the food you’ve just swallowed, your parietal cells which secrete stomach acid and the tight junctures the digested nutrients pass through to your bloodstream to be used, the less nutrients your body gets. Which means the more dis-ease your body experiences. Yet it’s still nutrient deficient!

Fresh vs Frozen: It’s All About the Nutrients

This article appeared for Paleo on the Go


There’s so much focus on eating nutrient dense whole foods, staying away from processed and getting as close to nature as possible. So when it comes to the question if fresh or frozen produce is better for you, the answer for most people is simple: it’s fresh of course! Right?

Picking veggies from your own garden is the optimal situation but this isn’t the case for most of the United States. As it stands, most of us don’t even get in the recommended daily intake of our vegetables. Typically we only eat one-third of what’s recommended (three servings instead of nine) of fruits and vegetables in a day. When it comes to situations like this, then a vegetable in any form is better than no vegetable at all. Whether fresh is better [than frozen] depends on how fresh the veggies actually are when you buy them [fresh or frozen].

As winter approaches, fresh produce can be limited—or more expensive—in much of the country, which forces many of us to turn to canned or frozen options. While canned vegetables tend to lose a lot of nutrients during the preservation process (notable exceptions include tomatoes and pumpkin), frozen vegetables may be even healthier than some of the fresh produce sold in supermarkets. Why? Fruits and vegetables chosen for freezing tend to be processed at their peak ripeness, a time when—as a general rule—they are most nutrient-packed.



The fresh fruits and vegetables lining your produce aisle are typically picked before they are able to reach their peak ripeness. This gives distributors a cushion of time to ship it across the country and to get it on your shelves before they fully ripen. While this helps to ensure the availability of appealing-looking produce, it also gives those fruits and vegetables less time to develop a full spectrum of vitamins and minerals. Additionally, most produce must travel long distances to reach their final destination, being exposed to varying amounts of heat and light along the way. This may diminish or degrade some of the more sensitive vitamins in the produce.

Fresh fruits and vegetables also produce enzymes which cause a natural ripening, accompanied by a gradual loss of color, flavor and nutrients after harvest. This means that as soon as that produce is picked, it naturally starts to decay. While each vitamin and mineral have their own sensitivities, as a whole, fresh fruits and vegetables tend to lose nutrients up until they are eaten. Accordingly, fresh, local produce eaten soon after harvest and properly stored at cool temperatures between harvest and consumption are ideal for maximum nutrient content. It’s the water soluble vitamins including vitamin C and some of the B vitamins that tend to be lost from our fresh produce the longer the veggies hangs around, arguably some of the most needed especially in winter.


Frozen vegetables are usually flash frozen very soon after they are picked. Special machinery is used to get the produce to 0°F in minutes. The nutrients are “frozen in” during this process, meaning you can quite easily have more vitamins in a frozen vegetable than in its ‘fresh’ counterpart.

So frozen can be a better option, particularly where produce has to travel a long way. Produce chosen for freezing tends to be picked at their peak ripeness, a time when (as a general rule) they are the most nutrient-packed. After harvest, they are processed immediately, minimizing the time for nutrient loss. The freezing process entails blanching the produce in hot water or steam to kill any bacteria and to halt the food-degrading enzymes. While some water-soluble vitamins, such as vitamin C and B, are sensitive to this and may be partially degraded or lost, frozen fruit and vegetables generally keep a majority of their nutritive value when processed. Therefore, the subsequent flash-freezing locks the produce in a relatively nutrient-rich state.

Proper storage is critical when maintaining the nutrient content of frozen produce. Excessive oxidation can cause the loss of some additional nutrients over time, so the longer it sits in the freezer, the less it will provide overall. However, in general, produce handled properly and frozen promptly after harvest can be just as nutritious as fresh produce that has been held many days after harvest.


There is more to fruit and veggies than just vitamins. Let’s not forget about fiber, the cooking process, or just getting any veggies at all!

One of the biggest reasons we eat fruit and veggies is to absorb fiber. The fiber content doesn’t deteriorate easily which means that week-old fresh veggies still have value despite lowered vitamin levels.

How you cook your veggies is far more important than whether they are fresh or frozen. Regardless of whether you are cooking fresh or frozen veggies, use as little water as you can and cook them for a short time. Steaming veggies are much better options than boiling. Boiling veggies in a large amount of water for a long time provides less nutrients in the finished meal.

Here are some points to consider when you’re weighing up the pros and cons of fresh vs.frozen veggies:


  • Can taste better than frozen.
  • Usually has a better texture.
  • If you’ve picked it straight from the garden, it will be bursting with nutrients.
  • But produce can be more than a week old by the time we eat it.


  • Many nutrients are ‘frozen in’ soon after picking.
  • Convenience – can store for months.
  • Allows us to have veggies and fruit that are out of season
  • Adds variety to our diet.
  • After defrosting, veggies can have a soggy texture, because ice crystals damage the vegetable cell walls.
  • Vegetables with high water content – such as bok choy or lettuce – do not freeze well.


If you are doing a weekly shop, buy some fresh veggies and some frozen.If you can, shop two or three times a week for your fresh veggies so that they don’t spend too long in the fridge at home. Otherwise, try starting the week by eating the fresh veggies and end it by eating the frozen.

If you don’t have time to buy or cook your veggies you have options as well. Why not try a Paleo Meal Delivery Service: the benefitswill probably surprise you in more ways that you think.

The bottom line is that the health and nutritional value of all foods, fresh or frozen, depends on source and processing.

Sugar’s Effects on Your Body
This article appeared for Paleo on the Go

Sure there’s a big and mounting case against sugar. We’re each being encouraged to lower it or take it out. Don’t add that extra into your coffee or don’t choose that piece of fruit it’s higher in sugar than other alternatives. Never before in the history of mankind have we needed to lower blood sugar. It was recently when we started consuming almost 72 pounds of sugar each year. Yup, sugar intake all adds up.

Here’s the truth. We have a primitive need for sugar. Before food was placed on supermarket shelves, restaurants, cafes and lunch menus, we had to go and find it all for ourselves. Our brains are naturally wired to seek ripe, seasonal foods that are naturally sweeter. The same wiring lets us know when a food is spoiled or if it’s poisonous! Sweetness in food was a marker for edibility in primitive times.

While so many diseases are being blamed on sugar – diabetes, cancer, autoimmunity, metabolic syndrome, hormonal issues – with good reason. Sugar has been shown to have a few pluses: stimulating appetite to regain weight, or lowering stress levels for a better night’s sleep. However, that isn’t across the board. Some of us have to avoid sugar and make sure to consume a high (good) fat snack before bed so we’re not waking in the middle of the night from a hypoglycemic episode. The fact simply stated, sugar is complicated. It affects each of us differently!


However, the one thing that remains the same across the board is that excess sugar is toxic. Note the word excess. It’s toxic when it’s no longer balanced. There’s another problem. It’s not just that we’re eating too much, it’s also that, sugar isn’t just sugar . We’re living busy lives. This means our stress levels are flooding our bodies with more blood glucose.

The one thing we each have in common to do is our blood sugar regulation systems. Blood glucose is controlled by three systems in the body: two to raise it, namely insulin and cortisol; one to lower it, glycogen. That’s twice as many to raise our blood sugar as to lower! Sugar is the preferred fuel of our muscles and our brain. Our bodies are wired to encourage its use, to raise our blood glucose to make it as readily available as needed.

Also we can make sugar from other food macronutrients – fats and proteins – an inherent capability of each of our bodies. It’s just that we’ve flooded our bodies with sugar that these systems have become null and void. If you’re body is trained as it’s meant to, to be fat burner you can also easily burn sugar. So it all boils down to your body. What type of burner are you? Are you a slave to food, eating every couple of hours, constantly snacking, hangry when you miss a meal or are made to wait longer for a meal? Or perhaps you’re a fat burner, with good amounts of healthy fats in each meal, that your body is readily able to digest and use, alongside pastured proteins like grass fed meats, where you’ll easily go more than a couple of hours if not missing a meal without stressing over where your next meal is coming from.


It’s true. We need sugar but we eat too much. How do you know what’s too much for you and how your body deals with sugar? Here’s some things can do to start today:


Just cut out the sugar, whether you call it a detox or not. Do it for three weeks. This is the time it takes to form a habit and replace the cells of your stomach lining so they’ll be ready to pull the good nutrients from your nutrient dense meals. In addition, the bad bugs in your colon (we’re actually outnumbered 10000:1 by our bugs) thrive on sugar. So you’ll be doing your immune health a big favor too. But what exactly are you cutting out?  It’s added sugar of course, the white stuff, but also honey, maple syrup and all the sweeteners. Don’t eat bread, pasta, rice, legumes.  This is a good time to try Paleo if you haven’t. A Paleo Meal Plan can help get you there too. It’s also a good habit to try to destress at this point in time. Remember, stress raises blood glucose levels.


Make sure you eat each macronutrient at each meal. Each meal should include carbs, proteins and fats. Carbs don’t mean bread, rice or pasta. We’re talking about the leafy green carbs. Include veggies at every meal, even for breakfast. Your liver, now relieved of the excess sugar work, will thank you for the fiber and phytonutrients.

The amount of sugar we eat these days is most certainly in excess. But it’s important to remember that sugars are an essential part of our body’s makeup. It’s up to you to see how sugar is affecting your body and that goes from your next meal to the stress levels in your life or the sleep quality you’re getting.

How to Commit to Healing with Food

 This article appeared for Paleo on the Go

With 2017 approaching, new year‘s resolutions are inevitable. What was your biggest health triumph of 2016? Your smartest health decision? Chances are you’re thinking in terms of the food choices you made. 

We all know the adage that “food can be medicine” so that falls in line with being healthy. Which means it can be as simple as healing with food. Add to that you’ve already got everything you need to go to the next step and beyond because your body is designed to heal itself. 


How to Commit to Healing with FoodIf you cut your hand – it will heal itself, unless you deliberately put dirt in, right up to the point of serious disease: your body will heal itself unless you keep putting dirt in it. Get my point? All we have to do is stop putting (metaphorical) dirt in ourselves and we’ll be on our way.

There is no shortage of dramatic stories of people recovering from their health woes thanks to food, and if you read my bio, you’d probably put me in with them: give the body the right food and environment (oh and the wonders of life saving brain surgery to allow me to even contemplate any of this!) and it will heal itself. 

While it certainly gives motivation, you don’t need an illness to see how changing what you eat can give you more energy, help you maintain a healthy body weight, and sharpen your mental focus. Here’s three simple strategies for committing to healing with food. 


How to Commit to Healing with Food1. CUT PROCESSED AND PACKAGED FOOD 

You read this everywhere in health blogs now. Eating processed you’re confusing your body by giving it things it wasn’t design to eat: weird numbers, colors, fats that are changed (trans) and of course, dreaded amounts of sugar. Read further and you’ll see that convenience doesn’t have to mean processed or unhealthy. PS. There’s even an easy ‘cheat’ on top of that too. 

There’s nothing much else to say here. Just cut them out of your life. For good. 


The toughest of us can go three weeks without food. However, not the majority. Most of us probably three hours and we start getting hangry. Whatever time records you can pass, it really boils down to what you eat, and what you should eat if you no longer want to be a slave to food. 

Knowing what to eat has become a pretty hard business, especially with so much conflicting information out there telling us what’s right. No wonder we’d sooner turn to ‘superfoods‘ to lift us out of energy slumps and sugar highs. But what if instead we focused on getting more of what our bodies need, when we need it? You probably know the three macronutrients: carbs, fats, and proteins. What we need to relearn and teach ourselves is that their importance lies in the order listed and that we include them in each meal. Not only does one help the other digest and assimilate nutrients your body needs but each has a role to play in rebuilding your body.


Fats have been the (erroneous) devils of our diet for the last 30 years and we need to bring them back and improve our ability to digest them. They’re what every membrane in our body is made of, which goes on to make every cell (and chemicals like hormones and neurotransmitters), tissue, organ and system. You’re brain is 70% fat and your heart’s major fuel is fat. We need fat! Just remember we’re talking healthy fats here.



Proteins are our building blocks for muscle and other tissues, and they work alongside fats. In fact, you’ll notice they occur together in nature. Protein is one of the key macronutrients to look for when sourcing whole foods. The goal is to get them as close to how they occur in nature and this is how we our bodies were originally intended to eat them (farm to table). I’m talking eggs for instance, and not only on Sundays, and heaven forbid, never just the whites. Also the quality of your meats and serving them with the fats found naturally attached. Consider getting produce from a good source as well. Your food should be pastured and organic without antibiotics. 



Lastly are carbs, perhaps the biggest swear word in nutrition at the moment. But we need lots of these, in the form of green leafy veggies, and as many different kinds as we can. A good rule of thumb is to limit the more sugary versions, like starches, and fruits to one a day a week. 

Now that we know that information the next big question to answer is how much is enough? Instead of reaching for a sugary snack to lift you then a calming glass of vino to calm you, there’s actually a magic ratio to start you off. 



The magic ratio is a principle of eating 40:30:30 (carbs: fats: proteins), basically thirds on your plate. How do you know how much to eat? Do you just keep going until you’re full? Do you limit yourself to just one plate? What about smaller plates? The best thing about eliminating convenience packaged and processed foods, is filling up first on what we need then later on what we want if there’s room. Using the 40:30:30 (carbs: fats: proteins) principle as a start, you can work out what feels best for your body and what is enough for you.



How do you plan each meal? Most of us start with a protein, like chicken or a steak, maybe with some veggies on the side. Is it working? How’s your energy, weight, satiation? 

What If instead you started planning around the veggies you’re going to have, then the fats you’ll use to cook and serve them, like butter or coconut oil, and perhaps how you’ll dress them, like olive, avocado or macadamia oil, and finally that side of chicken or steak you’ll add at the end. You’ll be amazed at the new cooking inspiration and energy (that’s health!) your food can give you. My family call them sneaky veggies and we plan this way to make sure we get them into every meal, even breakfast. 

How to Commit to Healing with Food


Ok, so you just don’t have time to cook from scratch, or even every meal? Luckily you’re reading this blog on the website of a paleo meal delivery service which is a great way to help you commit. Paleo itself gets you eating the basics, removing the most processed of our foods (grains and dairy). Paleo ensures most of us automatically digest a lot better if we just commit to the lifestyle. Paleo allows us to become more aware of what we’re eating which is the key. You’ll notice how what you eat effects your body. This helps your body to start doing what it’s made to do – heal itself.

There’s overwhelming evidence of the healing power of food (and the disease provoking of poor food). You can’t overstate the role of food in good health, so thereI just said it again. Diet is the single best way to get and stay well. Even in the short term, dietary changes can shrink the plaque on artery walls, laying off soy can relieve premenstrual issues, as can going without gluten end the need for heartburn medications. Your grocery list is indeed the foundation of where feeling good starts. 

So now for 2017, what health advice would you like to give yourself? What would most like to change about your health? Inspiration is the greatest place to start in committing to anything, and maybe this coming year you can start in the kitchen: a healthy kitchen as a healthy you!

When to Use a Paleo Meal Delivery Service This article appeared for Paleo on the Go


Meals are just not what they used to be: maybe we’re more active, busier (planned or unexpectedly), or the daily grind just gets in the way. We just don’t always have the luxury of time to prepare our meals or sit around a table and eat them together anymore.


Fresh tomato, onion, jalapeno and cilantro sit on a paleo tortilla and is topped with fried eggs. Our huevos rancheros are the best way to start your day.

Food is not what it used to be either. Just take a look around your local supermarket, where substituting real ingredients with unnatural concoctions that can build up in your system, cause allergies, can taste bad and make you reliant (or addicted) to their products.

What hasn’t changed? Your body’s need for real, unprocessed food in order to thrive. With all the changes in our food system and society,  we sometimes forget we are stuck with our pre-historic DNA.

A meal delivery service is the perfect way to ensure that you always have uninterrupted access to real, unprocessed, Paleo food no matter what life throws at you.


AIP Beef pot pie is one of our favorite paleo comfort foods.

Paleo on the Go meals, chef prepared, premade paleo meals, cooked and delivered to your door, are perhaps the most convenient way to eliminate processed food from your diet in your busier life. These are real whole food meals cooked to perfection by experienced chefs passionate about good food. Here’s a just a few reasons to use a Paleo meal delivery service:


  1. Breakfast
  2. Comfort food cravings
  3. Emergencies are better dealt with by eating real food rather than fast foods.
  4. To get meals you just don’t want to take the time to cook
  5. Those busy days when you just can’t catch your breath and the last thing you want to do is cook
  6. Your new girlfriend is coming to dinner and you want to cook for her to impress her
  7. A friend in hospital who needs and deserves the best (who eats hospital food anyway?)
  8. Your in-laws are coming to dinner and you can’t cook or don’t want to test a new recipe they may hate
  9. Chef prepared meals that mean you can have the best without wasting ingredients you may not use again
  10. Travel and still stay true to your healthy ideals
  11. Big work commitments or projects you know will have you running late home
  12. Lunches at work, either to stop you from getting a quick take out in a rush, or to make sure your work seminar is well catered for.
  13. Entertaining the easy and healthy way
  14. Gym night to reward your body for the hard work it’s put in
  15. Even date night, because good food is surely hearty in more ways than one
  16. Weight loss from eating well for your body, done for you
  17. Improved energy from eating food your body thrives on, easily
  18. Less time cooking, more time for living
  19. A weekly assurance you’re gonna start off on the right track eating for your health or keeping a few extra POTG meals in your freezer as a powerful strategy for sticking with your dietary priorities when life tries to get in the way
  20. A sneaky one off to reward yourself for all your cooking and prepping the very way your Paleo meal will also deliver
  21. When you consider ingredients and awareness of your health and good digestion and health follows.

Paleo pulled pork

There are loads of reasons to use a Paleo Meal Delivery Service. Perhaps the biggest reason is simply nourish, thrive, repeat. If you eat more of the good stuff, there’s no room left for the bad stuff!

5 Quick Tips for a Fast Paleo Breakfast on the Go

This article appeared for Paleo on the Go

To start, an article advising quick tips for breakfast should be a quick read right? So I’ll keep it simple and get to the facts.


Breakfast is one of the biggest challenges that people struggle with when they go Paleo. No oatmeal? No granola? No toast? Nope, and there’s a good reason behind eliminating those grains. The truth is starting the morning with grains could set you up for a blood sugar roller coaster for the entire day resulting in ill fated moods, concentration nightmares, cravings, energy slumps, and the emergence of a “hangry” monster you didn’t know existed.


Breakfast is the first meal we consume after having fasted through the night and it’s the one chance we have to pack in energy and nutrients to start the day on the right foot. It’s a break in that fast. Paleo is about giving your body a break from processed foods. Paleo breakfast really is the meal of champions. Breakfast should also be pleasurable. Pleasure is perhaps the biggest nutrient missing from our plates, especially at breakfast when we’re too rushed to think about food. To be honest, rushing is a digestion nightmare on it’s own because your brain needs to be relaxed to trigger it in the first place. Many people choose to go Paleo to better their health and often their plan starts at breakfast but remember that the best breakfast is the one you can digest.

A fast paleo breakfast is simple, thanks to this nifty list of pointers put together by our writers here at Paleo on the Go.5 TIPS FOR A SUCCESSFUL, FAST PALEO BREAKFAST ON THE GO

In our current active lifestyles, there is a possibility that breakfast can be fast and good for you. So here’s 5 quick tips:


  1. Make it Painless. Paleo breakfast ideas are the first thing everyone looks for after starting Paleo. Make it painless by planning out your breakfasts for the weekdays, Monday-Friday at least.


  1. Make It Ahead of Time. If you can find some time, try cooking some quick breakfasts and freezing them. That way you can just thaw, eat and go. Or take it with you.
  • Breakfast frittata muffins are great on the go breakfast snacks packed with protein and fat when they’re made the Paleo way.
  • Try keeping a few extra Paleo on the Go meals in your freezer as a powerful strategy for sticking with your dietary priorities when life tries to get in the way


  1. Make Enough for Leftovers. Leftovers shouldn’t be the things you dread. You’re more creative than you give yourself credit for. So, make enough to have leftovers and make something creative with the leftovers.
  1. Last night’s stir fry is a complete breakfast with an omelet cut into strips Asian style, served with coconut aminos as a soy sauce alternative.
  2. Leftover sweet potato slices are great slider ‘buns’ for a breaky burger
  3. Leftover root vegetables like beets and carrots are great the next day in pancakes.  Hold the garlic if that’s your plan.


  1. Make it Simple. Breakfast doesn’t need to be elaborate to be healthy and tasty at once.
  • Poach some eggs over a salad
  • Bacon and eggs can be as simple as it gets.
  • Breaky beet bowl is one of my personal favorites.
  • Apple cinnamon or strawberry tarts are simple too and they take minimal prep. Plus, you can take them on the go with you. Just remember to slow down enough to digest the yummy food you’re taking with you properly.


  1. Don’t Let Brain Fog Takeover – Sometimes in the morning it’s too easy to stand foggy-headed in front of the fridge thinking there is nothing to eat, or that there’s no time to cook.  Hopefully, the breakfast ideas above will save you on those days. Or just have a few pancakes on hand. That’s always a great option right?  You can mix these with fruit, protein and fat.

The traveling mom’s guide to a whole food baby

 This article appeared for Paleo on the Go

As Aussies living in the USA, we tend to travel a lot. The USA just has so many awesome places to see. We have a 17 month old who eats what we eat. (Well, actually we eat what he eats to make sure he’s getting all he needs when he’s doing the most growing of his life.) So, traveling really means we’re on the lookout for the very best for him and us at every turn! Here are some tips to make traveling a little bit easier on our body and minds.


Air travel and food is really all about digestion under pressure: time deadlines, waiting, and not to mention the changes in pressure at 40,000 feet.

The good news is you’ll be sitting and relaxing on the flight. However, air travel can be pretty hard on your digestion. Enhance your it by including bitter foods like leafy greens and fresh lemon in filtered water. Herbs and spices such as dandelion, peppermint and ginger are also fantastic. These enhance the production of bile, which increases stomach acid allowing you to break down your food more effectively. Then, make sure to avoid inflammatory foods such as wheat, gluten, milk, refined sugar, alcohol and coffee, which can aggravate your digestive system and the healing process. Try Matcha green tea; it’s loaded with antioxidants and kinder to your digestive system than your morning coffee.  Be sure to take probiotics and/or eat fermented foods to promote healthy gut bacteria i.e. kefir, kombucha tea, yoghurt, sauerkraut, kimchi and fermented vegetables. Avoid processed and eat fresh and natural foods. And not going to bed on a full tummy goes for the plane too: eat light.

If you don’t want to pack your own, there’s always Paleo meal delivery services with healthy pre-made travel friendly options. The AIP menu is probably a great place to select from  because with the stresses of traveling mean you’ll be healing in advance. Try Apple Cinnamon Paleo Tarts (remembering you’re missing your veggies but it’s only one meal ok?), 48 Hour Brewed Bone Broth (freeze portions in your baby’s food container), and Plantain Pancakes (with the added benefit of apple cider vinegar for digestion but also doubling as a bread-like food for finger food eating on the plane: just add raw cheese, almond butter, apple slices or all!



Sleeping is a biggy for everyone. Try and book flights that coordinate with nap and bedtime, which isn’t easy considering lay overs or long haul flights. Onboard, signal nap time with either a bassinet (under 25pd/11kg) which you need to pre organize before the day. Or, bring a king sized pillow to drape over your knees. Saturdays and Tuesday’s seem the best days for travel (you’ll have a better chance of there being extra seats next to you).

It’s tempting to push for the timezone you’re aiming for, but sleepiness is better addressed from where you’re coming from. On arrival try and set the clock for the new times. Get the first sunlight into yours and bub’s eyes and just push naps back to ‘normal’ 15-30 mins a day as you can.  You’ll catchup eventually. Hormones and cravings are out of control with a lack of and mixed-up sleep schedule, so snap it back into rhythm as soon as you can to avoid sugar cravings and highs and lows and overstimulation compounding your over tiredness.



Airport security can be interesting with baby food and breast milk. Hopefully you can read between the lines there that sometimes it’s easy (‘that’s breast milk it’s fine’) and sometimes downright frustrating ‘we’re going to have to test each bottle’!). Freeze your bottles beforehand because then they’re fine to go through security untested! Try and also freeze water with a pinch of sea salt (natural Gatorade for optimal absorption) and grass fed organic bone broth.


The more hydrated your are on board the plane, added pressure and all, the more likely you are to avoid travel colon; babies too.



Getting movement on the plane isn’t about your PR or sweat out cardio workout. DVT prevention and exercises that go with it are pretty much in everyone’s back seat pocket. But general movement of your arms over your head, stretching whatever feels tight especially your bent sitting posture like the front of your hips, opening your chest and deep breathing is a must for everyone, even babies. And the best way to achieve that is also a social one when walking up and down the aisle you’ll find: everyone loves a cute (smiling not crying) toddler.


Screen time creates notable changes in brain chemistry – most notably in the release of dopamine and specifically in kids. It’s easy and convenient.  And it’s not always a bad thing. No matter how convenient, educational, or mood-enhancing computers and other devices may be, experts agree that although screen time isn’t bad in and of itself, there needs to be a limit. And that limit needs to apply a lot on planes especially if you want them to nap (so you can too!). Setting boundaries will also help parents become a little more creative in the mean time; Ice cubes are particularly enthralling for toddlers as is filling their own water bottles, tray table and window flap opening (though your neighbors might disagree!) and seat pocket reading.



Traveling is more than food when considering the whole food baby. It’s digestion under pressure, hydration, sleep and naps scheduled as much as you can, movement and creative approaches to entertainment. You might all enjoy the trip better if you follow some or all of these tips!