10 Things Every Woman Needs to Know Before Giving Birth

Lucky for me, two of my closest girlfriends had babies the same year Vienna was born. 2015 felt like the year of babies – at least in my social circle! Many things my girlfriends went through, I went through too. Of course, every woman’s experience is unique, but the similarities helped me through some of the more challenging times, whether it was figuring out breastfeeding, how to care for my lady parts post-pregnancy or discussing the challenges of pooping. Even though some of these convos weren’t always the most joyous, it comforted me to know that my friends were going through the same things I was. 


After speaking with my girlfriends and other mama acquaintances, I gathered the top 10 things every woman should know before giving birth. I had many moments in the first few months of Vienna’s life where I thought to myself “if I only knew this when I was pregnant.”

I’m sure all you mamas out there could add to this list, so I would LOVE for you to post your experiences in the comments section below to grow this list and help other mamas!

This top 10 list contains some things I learned from others before giving birth, and some that I learned along the way from other mamas and my own experiences. However, I wish that I knew all of the things on this list before giving birth, because I would have done some things differently. For one, I would have seen my pelvic floor physiotherapist before giving birth. 

Top 10 Things Every Woman Should Know Before Giving Birth

1. See a pelvic floor physiotherapist who can assess you and advise on the proper way to strengthen your pelvic floor. This should ideally happen before you even become pregnant, but if not, while you’re pregnant. Most women see a physiotherapist once baby has arrived when they have problems, but you can get ahead of it and hopefully prevent any pelvic floor issues if you see one earlier. You can read about Vanessa’s journey to pelvic health and some tips to ensure a speedier recovery .

2. Prepare your vagina-care (aka “lady-part love” kit) with the essentials once you are 30-plus weeks along. Your body needs as much care and attention as your baby. From “padsicles” to witch hazel, get your lady part love-kit ready because the last thing you want to be doing at 3am while breastfeeding and feeling very sleep-deprived is soaking pads in witch hazel. 


3. Skip the “birth plan.” I can just see my type-A readers losing their mind over this one! Don’t worry though, keep reading. What I mean by “skipping” the birth plan is that you should have a wish list, but be open to change for the birth of your baby. Many women get very hung up on having things go a certain way – such as having a natural childbirth – and then it doesn’t go the way they planned. You can’t really “plan” a birth because you can’t look into a crystal ball and know everything that is going to happen. Whether you have a midwife or an ob/gyn, make sure they are aware of your wishes for pain relief and other important decisions you may need to make while in labour, but don’t get too hung up on your plan. This is why a “wishlist” is a much better option. 

4. Hire a doula, if budget allows. A doula is a birth companion and can also be an important post-birth support. Doulas provide non-medical physical and emotional support. If you are familiar with my birthing story, I had a doula, and this helped me have a natural birthing experience. I couldn’t have done it without my support team, which including my incredible doula, my husband Walker, and my midwives. 

5. Be willing to ask for help. Building on the previous point, support is absolutely essential when your beautiful baby arrives! For many women it’s simply not a reality to have your partner at your beck and call, especially if they have a full-time job. Of course, every woman’s experience will be different, but most women have trouble walking around and no woman should be on her feet for too long after delivery making dinner, doing dishes, etc. You’ve got a baby to look after and a vagina that needs to heal. Lean on family and friends (literally) – that’s what they are there for. Or hire a doula to support you after your baby’s birth. When others ask you if you need anything, say yes. 


6. Have some ready-made meals. I can’t tell you the number of mamas that tell me they ate takeout for the first three months of their babe’s life. This is both costly and probably not very healthy. While the last thing you want to be doing it is cooking when you’ve got a three-week-old, you do need to make sure you eat nourishing meals to help heal your body and produce healthy, nutrient-dense breast milk. A few weeks before your babe arrives, make meals ahead of time and freeze them. Here are some great meal and snack ideas you can easily freeze and enjoy when your beautiful bundle arrives:

7. Take it one moment at a time. When I was first thinking about this point, I wrote “take it one day at a time.” Then, after chatting with my girlfriend Candice (who has a new blog about exclusively pumping) she said “take it one moment at a time.” She’s so right. Every moment with a newborn is different. So when you feel frustrated and doubtful you can, for example, get your crying babe to sleep, know that the next moment can and will change. Nothing is permanent with a newborn and this is a good thing. Your love is the only thing that is permanent. ❤


8. Coconut oil is your new best friend, so stock up! Coconut oil is pretty much the only product I use on Vienna on a daily basis. Since she was born, I’ve slathered her bum with coconut oil at every single diaper change. I also slather her with oil after a bath. Coconut oil is anti-fungal and anti-bacterial, which is great for preventing and helping to treat diaper rash.  

9. Buy a good nursing bra before you start nursing. I speak from experience here. I didn’t buy any nursing bras because I got hand-me-downs. While I appreciate the hand-me-downs, my boobs were way too small for the bras I was given, and I didn’t realize nipple chafing I was experiencing was due in part to having the wrong size nursing bra. I couldn’t even have a thin sheet touch my nipples the first six weeks! Looking back, I can’t believe I tortured myself further with the wrong size bra. I ended up buying Bravado wireless nursing bras. I have three of them, and they are the most comfortable bras I’ve ever had. 

10. Have a referral on hand for a lactation consultant and a chiropractor. There are many experts that can help you ease into mamahood. Nursing was really tough for me in the beginning, so having experts was essential for my success in breastfeeding. A chiropractor may not be the first health expert you think of when it comes to breastfeeding, but my chiro was instrumental in helping to adjust Vienna so she could latch better. Here are some great tips from my chiropractor Dr. Aliya. 

Now that you’ve read my top 10 list, what do you think? If you’ve got some great tips to add, please post them in the comments section below. I would love to keep this list growing!

Joy McCarthy

Joy McCarthy is the vibrant Holistic Nutritionist behind Joyous Health. Author of JOYOUS HEALTH: Eat & Live Well without Dieting, professional speaker, nutrition expert on Global’s Morning Show, Faculty Member at Institute of Holistic Nutrition and co-creator of Eat Well Feel Well. Read more…



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Tips to Stay Healthy While Traveling

Walker and I have been on vacation visiting my father-in-law Axel for the past couple of weeks in Wörthersee, Austria, where he lives. You may have heard of Wörthersee before if you are a triathlete because they have an Ironman race here every summer, or if you’re a skiier because the big mountains are only about a 40 minute drive from here. This is the view from Axel’s deck. 

Worthersee Austria

I love coming to Austria not just because we get to hang out with Axel but also because it is so incredibly lush and beautiful. It actually reminds me a lot of the Okanagan Valley in British Columbia, but the Euro version!


While we are on vacation I (we) still maintain our daily health habits, such as exercising. We’ve been going for daily power-walks every morning and I’ve been doing yoga too. And I always have my camera ready because I love to take photos on my iPhone. In fact, I’ve got over 13,000 photos on my phone – eek! This photo was taken on one of our powerwalks. We stopped to sit on a bench so I could nurse Vienna. 


I also make sure we eat plenty of whole foods, as you can see in the photo below. But yes, Walker’s had his fill of traditional Austrian schnitzel. I ate a delicious summer salad with pumpkin seed–crusted local chicken and pumpkin oil (my new obsession!). Even in the small Austrian villages, you can find healthy options at restaurants. 

Joy in Austria

Every time we go out to eat, I bring Vienna’s food with me. I find Europe (especially Austria) has an abundance of farmers’ markets. It seems every day there is a farmers market, and lucky for me, there is a lot of local food available right now – ’tis the season! This means I can still buy the basics and make Vienna’s food, but I did bring some Love Child and Baby Gourmet packets with me. Vienna also loves these teething cookies called Teefies. These take her a while to eat, which means she can hang out in restaurants a little longer 🙂 

We were literally eating at a castle in the photo below. Vienna was having spinach, sweet potato and hemp hearts, and I shared some chicken with her. By the way, how cute is that little chair? I have found that most high chairs at restaurants are too big and flimsy. We brought this high chair with us on vacation because it attaches to the table. The brand is Guzzie and Guss. 

Joy in Austria

We also take our supplements with us and make sleep a priority. But you’ll find out more about my favourite health habits in the video below. Please join me on my morning powerwalk in Austria as I share my essential health habits while traveling!

Sure, it can be easy to just take a vacation from your health habits if you choose to, but why would you want to?

For me, healthy is a lifestyle and when I take care of myself I feel my best.

That being said, do not aim for perfection. If you’re going to indulge now and then, just make sure it’s the best quality! I’ve had my share of apple strudel, and now that we are in Vienna, I will be sure to have sacher torte (an authentic Viennese cake). I always do my research to find out where the locals go for the most authentic experience because I want the real deal!


Of course, if you have gotten off track, it’s never too late to get back on track and I’ve got some great tips in this video.

If you’re interested in seeing more trip pics, then check out my Snapchat (my handle is joyoushealth) or find me on Instagram. 

I’m writing this from the hotel room in Vienna while Vienna sleeps. We arrived here yesterday and, as you probably guessed, Vienna was named after my favourite city! The photo below is from my Snapchat, so I apologize that the quality isn’t the greatest, but I love it 🙂 


What are your healthy essentials while travelling? Share them with me in the comments below!

Happy travels!


Joy McCarthy

Joy McCarthy is the vibrant Holistic Nutritionist behind Joyous Health. Author of JOYOUS HEALTH: Eat & Live Well without Dieting, professional speaker, nutrition expert on Global’s Morning Show, Faculty Member at Institute of Holistic Nutrition and co-creator of Eat Well Feel Well. Read more…


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The Joyous Fitbit Challenge

By now I’m sure you’ve heard of them. They go by many names: fitness tracker, Fitbit, wearables, pedometer, Apple Watch, and can range in price from a few dollars to several hundred. While functions and abilities vary throughout the price range, at the core of it all, the goal of owning one is to motivate the wearer to be healthy.

Full disclosure: I personally was always very skeptical of these type of devices. My opinion was that they were gimmicky and after a week of use, the shine would wear off and it would end up in a dusty drawer along with my other poor purchase decisions (like my astronaut pen – I never did need to write anything upside down).

As time went on however, and the popularity of Fitbits and other similar gadgets increased, friends, family and even colleagues in the health space started using them and raving about how they’re helping them stay motivated, moving and well … healthy.

So based on the glowing recommendations, Joy, Kate and myself bought Fitbits (the Fitbits were not given to us) and embarked on a 30-day challenge to dive in a test it for ourselves. My personal motivation was to see whether it would motivate me to move more throughout the day, as I was finding myself sitting too much, for too long without breaks.

 Fitbit Challenge-05032

As a pretty active person, sitting for long periods of time wasn’t something I was very used to, and it was starting to take its toll with my back feeling weaker, my hips tighter and all of the other negative health affects associated with sitting (which is why they call it the new smoking).

So how did we like our Fitbits? In short – we were all big fans.

(For a detailed review of features/functions, scroll down as Kate goes pretty in-depth)

The big difference for me was awareness. Between hourly movement reminders, tracking my steps, and a feature that lets you challenge other friends to see who can step the most, I really found it made a difference in my level of awareness of what I was doing, or more often not doing.

In fact, Joy and I would find ourselves looking for ways to get more our steps in our day, even if it meant fitting in another walk, an extra session at the gym, or simply walking around our condo in circles like a couple of idiots :) As it turns out, this little piece of technology made a big difference in our day-to-day routines; a difference that continues almost three months later …


A photo posted by Joy McCarthy (@joyoushealth) on May 31, 2016 at 2:22pm PDT


Except for Joy. She’s lost two Fitbits off her wrist (or as she puts it – they fell off), so if anyone from Fitbit is reading this, she would love another Alta (size small, turquoise band) as seen above. Thanks!

Now I’m going to hand it over to our resident tech nerd Kate. Since one of her favourite things to do (both professionally and recreationally) is to test gadgets and software to their breaking points, I’ll let her breakdown the functions and features of the Fibit she tested for you.

Kate’s Fitbit Flex Review

It’s probably safe to say that I’m the biggest tech and data nerd at Joyous HQ. I’m also the kind of person who gets grumpy if they don’t get their requisite amount of physical activity every day. Put these two factors together and I’m pretty much Fitbit’s ideal customer.

I decided to put the Fitbit Flex through its paces by tracking everything the Flex was capable of tracking (different Fitbit models can gather different types of data). So aside from the usual number of steps, distance and calories burned each day, I also tracked my workouts, sleep patterns, how much water I drank every day, and I set a weight loss goal for myself (combination of tracking weight and calories consumed).

Key Features

The usual steps, distance and daily calories burned are no-brainers to track, as are sleep patterns. Just wear the Fitbit (yes, even when you’re sleeping) and it takes care of the rest, syncing the data wirelessly to your smartphone so you can see your stats. I loved collecting all the data, and was kind of blown away how many kilometers I rack up on a daily basis just doing errands. The app is super-intuitive and easy to interpret. All of your data is displayed in attractive-looking charts with modifiable date ranges to look at your progress over time. (I use an iPhone, but I had a peek at the Android app on my husband’s phone, and it looks just as good). Also, there are badges. I do love a good bit of gamification, and Fitbit’s ability to allow me to cheer and/or taunt my friends and co-workers on their daily step counts, as well as send me the occasional badge informing me I have walked the equivalent of the length of the London Underground makes fitness tracking just that little bit more fun.

Exercise Tracking and Logging

Workouts are also pretty easy to track. If running, walking or hiking is your thing, just press “track,” select one of those three activities and get moving. Fitbit and GPS will do the rest. I really like having little maps of my runs. (I may have used one or two to humblebrag on Facebook, sorry. It seems to be an unavoidable runner bad habit.) If workout classes where you don’t really log kilometers are your thing, you use the log function and select your activity and the length of time. It’s not as precise as the track function, but it’ll give you a ballpark figure for calories burned. I used this to log my yoga and barre classes as well as swimming laps.

Speaking of swimming laps, this brings me to one of my few beefs with the Fitbit: it’s not waterproof. Fitbit claims their trackers are splashproof and rainproof (I’ve run with mine in the rain, and that claim holds up), but unlike fitness tracker makers like Misfit (which even has a version designed with swimming in mind), you can’t use it to track laps of the pool, you’ve got to count them yourself and input the data afterward. Since counting laps is my least favourite part of pooltime, this was kind of a downer.

My other concern about the Fitbit also has to do with its exercise tracking function, and that has to do with its accuracy. Now, the Flex doesn’t have a heart rate monitor, unlike some of the fancier Fitbit models, so I realize that there’s only so much accuracy that can be expected. However, when I tracked a single run with both the Fitbit and my usual training app on my phone, I always came up with a noticeable difference in how many calories I burned, often by over 100 calories. Since the Fitbit number was always higher, I’d really like it to be the right one, but I’m skeptical. I know I’m just not that fast a runner.

Food and Water Intake Tracking

And speaking of calories, I also played around with the food tracking function. The library of foods Fitbit has stored in its database is huge. It was extremely rare that I had to enter custom food data in there myself and do my own calorie math, so it’s a pretty solid tool of calorie tracking is part of your wellness regimen.

But there’s a downside to this ease that I can’t ignore. Part of the reason calorie counting has never been part of the Joyous Health philosophy is that it’s way too easy to get obsessed with numbers, and nothing kills your enjoyment of food faster than having to do a whole bunch of math and then feel bad about how you’re over your calorie count for that day. This app speeds up the guilt process by turning my cute little plate icon an angry shade of red once I go over my allotted calorie count for the day. Not so joyous. If you know that this sort of tracking leaves you feeling anxious, rather than empowered, you might want to skip this feature.

I am totally down with the water tracking feature, though! I also love that there are quick add options for a glass of water, a bottle, or a large bottle so that you can log water intake with a single touch. I knew I was bad about drinking enough water, but I didn’t realize how bad until I started keeping track. Counting steps is great, but Fitbit’s greatest contribution to my health is to make me better at staying hydrated!

Kate’s Final Thoughts

Overall, the Fitbit Flex is a great entry-level tracker, and if you’re looking for something to just track daily steps, sleep and eating patterns, it should do just fine. But if you’re a swimmer, or are looking for something with pinpoint accuracy to track hardcore workouts, you might want to look at something specifically targeted at athletes.

Walker’s Final Throughts

So what’s my big takeaway? For many of us, technology is unavoidable. The more we find ourselves connected with technology, the more important it becomes to find a way to leverage it to help us improve, if not simply maintain, our health. In the case of the Fitbit, it satisfied that requirement step by step.

Walker Jordan

Walker knows the ins and outs of running a successful business. The owner of a boutique health and wellness studio which he sold in 2011, Walker now oversees growth and strategy, runs day-to-day operations and manages new business for Joyous Health. He is the most organized person we know! He has a love of shiny fast cars and he can make Brussels sprouts taste like heaven.

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Guest Post: Kale Crunch Salad

Kale Crunch Salad is one of my one of my most addictive salad recipes. I think it’s because the toasted, crispy chickpeas gives you the crunchy texture that our bodies crave from chips, and other fried foods. However, with this recipe, your crunchy cravings can be cured in a healthy way! I know a lot of people are skeptical about using kale in a salad, but I promise this fresh dish will turn you into a kale lover! The creamy dressing compliments the chickpea crunch, and the avocado adds those healthy fats that our body needs.

Local kale will be plentiful at the farmer’s market until the fall. It is a fabulous dark leafy green to incorporate into your salads because it is packed with antioxidants. Antioxidants help reduce inflammation and has been shown to have a protective effect against sunburns. If you plan on spending the day outside in the sun at the beach, pack this salad!

Kale Crunch Salad
2016-06-22 17:21:08

For the salad
  1. 1 can chickpeas, drained, rinsed and patted dry
  2. 3 Tbsp sesame seeds
  3. 3 Tbsp sunflower seeds
  4. 3 Tbsp pumpkin seeds
  5. 3 Tbsp coconut oil, melted
  6. 1 tsp cumin
  7. 1 tsp garlic powder
  8. 1/2 tsp coriander, whole
  9. 1/2 tsp pepper
  10. 1/2 tsp paprika
  11. 1/4 tsp turmeric
  12. 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  13. 1 large head kale, stems removed and chopped/torn into bit sized pieces
  14. 2 avocados, diced
For the dressing
  1. 3/4 cups raw cashews or ¾ cup sesame seeds for a nut free version
  2. 2 garlic cloves
  3. 3/4 cup tahini
  4. 2 tsp white miso paste
  5. 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
  6. 1 Tbsp lemon juice (1/4 a lemon)
  7. 2 tsp nutritional yeast
  8. 3 Tbsp coconut oil, melted
  9. 1/2 cup water
  10. 2 tsp tamari
  11. 1 tsp pepper
  1. Preheat the oven to 400F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silpat.
  2. In a large bowl mix the chickpeas, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, 3 Tbsp melted coconut oil, cumin, garlic powder, coriander, pepper, paprika, turmeric and cayenne pepper. Spread out on the baking sheet and cook for 30-40 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes.
  3. Place the cashews (or sesame seeds for a nut free version) and garlic in a food processor and pulse until minced. Add the remaining dressing ingredients and blend until smooth. The dressing will be much thicker than regular salad dressing.
  4. In a large bowl massage dressing into the kale. Top with the avocado and sprinkle with the crispy chickpea and seed mixture.
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What’s your favourite food to bring with you on a fun-in-the-sun picnic? Share it with us in the comments below!

Jesse Lane Lee

Jesse Lane Lee, BSc, CNP is a cheerful Holistic Nutritionist, motivating speaker, cookbook author, and founder of JesseLaneWellness.com. On her website she shares holistically delicious recipes for free and hosts interactive live online cooking classes. She is the author Jesse Lane Wellness Cookbook Healthy Dairy Free Desserts which contains over 30 healthy dessert recipes with vibrant pictures. Jesse Lane will teach your how to have your chocolate without pudding on weight with her 15 page Guide to Natural Sugar Substitutes. Get it for FREE at http://ift.tt/22Ccs6A

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Top Foods to Reduce Pain Naturally

The word “inflammation” comes from the Latin inflammo, meaning “I set alight,” or “I ignite.” And if you’ve ever experienced the redness and burning sensations that go with inflammation (and we all have at some point), it’s easy to see that this condition is aptly named.

Inflammation is what makes pain, well, painful. It’s not that your body has masochistic tendencies, though.

Inflammation happens when your immune system spots a problem, like an injury, damaged cells, foreign bacteria, or virus, and tries to destroy the problem-causing agent before it has a chance to cause more damage.

For more about the mechanisms that make inflammation work, check out this post.

Think of inflammation like a brushfire. Sometimes, controlled burns are necessary to get rid of old, dead material and provide nutrients that new life needs to grow. It’s part of the natural revitalization process. But sometimes, those fires can get out of control and end up causing damage to previously healthy areas.

Inflammation works a lot like that. It starts innocently enough, your body notices a problem and tries to take care of it. Most of the time, the fire of inflammation (and the pain that goes with it) burns out on its own. But sometimes, your immune system is either unable to take care of the problem on its own, or it starts to go wild – like an out-of-control brushfire – and spread. Causing burning pain and inflammation wherever it migrates to. If left unchecked, long-term inflammation can lead to a wide variety of health concerns and conditions, everything from asthma to arthritis, depending on where the inflammation is located.

So what do you do when something’s on fire? You call in the fire brigade, who will have tons of tools and substances designed to help put out fires. And that’s exactly what you do with painful inflammation. It takes more than a bucket or two of water to put out pain’s inflammation-induced fires.

Fortunately, there are plenty of natural painkillers and inflammation-fighters hiding in foods you may already have in your kitchen!

In my video, I talk about these foods to help fight inflammation as well as what might be causing inflammation and pain in the first place. As you know, I’m all about natural health supplements too, so I’ve got a perfect recommendation for you to help stop pain in it’s tracks and get to the root of your inflammation and pain so it never comes back!

Iced Turmeric-Ginger Latte-04768


  • Ginger fights pain and inflammation on two different fronts. It can stop inflammation before it ever starts by inhibiting the formation of inflammatory compounds in your body, and it has anti-inflammatory effects that can help reverse the inflammation process once it starts.
  • These anti-inflammatory compounds are called, aptly enough, gingerols.
  • Ginger’s no newcomer to the natural painkiller scene. It’s been mentioned in ancient Chinese, Indian and Middle Eastern writings for its medicinal, as well as its culinary, benefits.
  • Studies have shown that people with osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis have less pain and increased mobility when they consume ginger regularly.

My Iced Turmeric Ginger Latte is the perfect way to adapt the spicy heat of ginger to cooling summer beverages!



  • Pineapples are a super-rich source of vitamin C, which helps fight the free radical damage that contributes to the joint pain and disability that can accompany osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.
  • The stem and core of the pineapple fruit contain a complex mixture of substances known as bromelain.
  • Bromelain has been linked to reductions in excessive inflammation and excessive cogulation of the blood, and even reduced growth of certain types of tumors when taken as a dietary supplement.
  • Many fruits and veggies start to lose nutrients the moment you pick them, but not pineapple! If chilled, even cut fruit retains many of its nutrients for at least six days.
  • Neat pineapple factoid: a pineapple is not a single fruit, but a composite of many flowers whose individual fruitlets fuse together around a central core. Those little spiny “eyes” on the pineapple’s surface? Those are the individual fruitlets!

To add a taste of the tropics to your next BBQ, check out my recipe video for Juicy Chicken Burgers with Pineapple Salsa.


Salmon and Sardines

  • It’s the high concentration of anti-inflammatory omega-3 essential fatty acids that make cold-water fatty fish like salmon and sardines effective pain-fighting foods.
  • Omega-3s may reduce risk of inflammatory-related chronic diseases, such as heart disease, cancer, and arthritis.
  • You can also get omega-3s from plant sources, but cold-water fatty fish contains the EPA and DHA forms of omega-3s that are easiest for your body to use.
  • While you can get bioavailable omega-3s from a wide variety of fish, I suggest salmon and sardines because smaller fish like these have lower concentrations of toxins, like mercury, than larger fish like swordfish and tuna, and are easier to fish in sustainable ways.
  • Having enough anti-inflammatory omega-3s in your diet helps balance out the levels of pro-inflammatory omega-6 EFAs (which are found in more foods).

Make omega-3s the main course in this restaurant-worthy Baked Lemon-Pepper Salmon with “Cream” Sauce recipe from my Joyous Health book!



  • Garlic is one of the oldest cultivated plants. We’ve been growing it for over 5,000 years!
  • Garlic is rich in sulfur-containing compounds that give it its distinctive smell, but also its health benefits.
  • These sulfur-containing compounds help protect you against both inflammation and oxidative stress.
  • Once you’ve chopped or crushed your garlic, let it sit for a few minutes before cooking or adding other ingredients. This will allow those sulfur-containing compounds to fully activate so they’re more effective!
  • For more on the health benefits of garlic, check out this post.

Pair garlic with wild mushrooms in this soup recipe to double up on the immune-boosting benefits!

Avocado Half-2


  • Yes, the avocado is fatty, but it is mostly monounsaturated (healthy) fats. And remember, it’s not fat that makes you fat. Sugar does.
  • Avocado is a perfectly balanced food! it’s got healthy fat, fibre and protein!
  • Avocados even have a special type of fats (phytosterols) that provide important anti-inflammatory benefits to our body systems.
  • These phytosterols are anti-inflammatory, but avocados pack even more pain-fighting power in with other anti-inflammatory nutrients like carotenoids, catechins and procyanidins.

Avocado makes a wonderfully creamy base for dairy-free desserts like this Key Lime Avocado Tart.

Fortunately there are natural supplements made from whole foods that work extremely effectively at reducing pain.

The important thing to remember is that not all natural supplements are created equally. Ever heard of natural eggshell membrane? Sometimes referred to as NEM? Only Genuine Health products carry Biovaflex, a form of NEM.

What is BiovaFlex?

It is a natural health ingredient found in egg membrane that includes collagen, elastin, desmosine, isodesmosine, glucosamine and chondroitin. In a nutshell, it improves cartilage strength and elasticity helping to joints to be more mobile without pain.  

For mild joint pain, I would recommend fast joint care+ which of course contains Biovaflex. And more severe pain and osteoarthiris, Genuine Health has fast arthritis relief+ which also contains Avovida (from avocados) and Bromelain (from pineapple) which are proven to increase that joint space while the BiovaFlex builds the cartilage back.  They also have fast pain relief+ which is a great alternative to everyday pain medication and works in as little as two hours for headaches and cramps.  All using whole food based ingredients!

You can learn more about these supplements I recommend for natural pain relief natural supplementation here.   

Foods that reduce pain_GH Pain Relief-04867

As I mentioned in my video, I truly hope these recommendations help to reduce your pain. For even more foods that fight inflammation, check out this post!

Wishing you a pain-free, joyous day!


Joy McCarthy

Joy McCarthy is the vibrant Holistic Nutritionist behind Joyous Health. Author of JOYOUS HEALTH: Eat & Live Well without Dieting, professional speaker, nutrition expert on Global’s Morning Show, Faculty Member at Institute of Holistic Nutrition and co-creator of Eat Well Feel Well. Read more…

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Take (or Make) a Dip This Summer!

Summer is the season of impromptu picnics, dinners on patios and all sorts of other outdoor eating occasions!

Dips are the perfect thing to take to these al fresco eating events because they’re easy to make, easy to transport, and some recipes don’t even need you to turn on the stove or oven (a serious bonus on hot summer days)!

These dip recipes pair perfectly with crunchy, fresh veggies; crispy crackers (Mary’s Gone Crackers is a favourite brand of mine), or homemade flatbreads like my Almond Rosemary recipe or homemade crackers like my Rosemary Buckwheat ones

Sweet Pea Hemp Dip with Mint

Sweet Pea Hemp Dip with Mint

This gorgeous green dip has sweet peas and fresh mint to thank not only for its pretty hue, but also for its wonderfully refreshing flavour. The hemp hearts give it an interesting pesto-like texture and a healthy dose of anti-inflammatory, healing omega-3 fats.

Beet Cashew Dip

Beet Cashew Dip

Beets are quite possibly the great love of my nutritional life! I love the deep magenta hue they give everything they touch (including my fingers, the cutting board, etc.). They also add a big dose of detoxifying fibre. The cashews make this dip super creamy, even though there’s not the tiniest bit of dairy in this recipe!

Sweet Potato Hummus


I adore hummus! This Mediterranean staple is, thanks to its base of chickpeas, full of fiber and protein. But plain old hummus can get boring and just so, well, beige. I’ve started adding sweet potato to my hummus to brighten up the colour and add a little bit of sweetness. Thanks to the carotenoids that give sweet potatoes their bright orangeness, this hummus also has a big dose of skin and eye–health boosting nutrients!

Lemon Basil Pesto

Lemon Basil Spinach Pesto-04117

Pesto is one of the most versatile dips out there! It’s great as a dip, but also works as a sandwich spread or as a pizza sauce. The basil that gives pesto its signature taste is a fantastic blood-builder as a rich source of folate and a great plant-based source of iron.

What’s your favourite thing to bring to a summer picnic? Let me know in the comments below!

Joy McCarthy

Joy McCarthy is the vibrant Holistic Nutritionist behind Joyous Health. Author of JOYOUS HEALTH: Eat & Live Well without Dieting, professional speaker, nutrition expert on Global’s Morning Show, Faculty Member at Institute of Holistic Nutrition and co-creator of Eat Well Feel Well. Read more…

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Back It Up: Why Constipation Happens

Pardon my language, but s#@% talk isn’t always a bad thing; in fact sometimes it’s necessary. We’re experiencing an epidemic of constipation here in North America and if no one talks about it, it’s only going to get worse.

So let’s get the conversation started!

Popping laxatives only masks the symptoms, and may even irritate your digestive tract further. When you address the root cause of the constipation, you’ll – ahem – clear the way to joyous digestive health.

Here are some of the main reasons constipation happens:

Too Much Sugar

Refined sugars can help feed the bad bacteria in your gut so that they can outnumber the beneficial bacteria we need to keep the digestive process running smoothly.

Not Enough Fibre

Fibre is perhaps the most important nutrient when it comes to digestive health. It adds bulk to your stool, which helps keep things moving through your colon.

Not Enough Water

But all that fibre needs water to work. Hard stools are harder to pass, and water keeps things softer to prevent straining when you need to go to the bathroom.

Too Many Laxatives

If you’ve been taking lots of laxatives to cope with constipation, it’s possible for your body to get used to the laxatives. When this happens, your digestive system may get sluggish without the laxatives to urge it along. Don’t worry, it is possible to “retrain” your bowels to get back to a regular pace, but it might take some time.

Too Much Stress

Your digestive system is your “second brain” and contains hundreds of millions of nerve, so it makes sense that stress would affect your digestion. When you’re stressed, your nervous system stops blood flow to your digestive system and decreases digestive secretions, effectively shutting the digestive process down. If you’re not digesting, you’re not pooping.

Food Allergies and Sensitivities

Even if you’re eating super clean and feeling super mellow, constipation might still happen. If this is the case, it might be time to look into whether you’ve got any food allergies or sensitivities. IgG food sensitivities in particular can affect the digestive system, resulting in constipation, bloating, cramps and nausea. Any food can cause an allergy or sensitivity, but common ones include wheat and other gluten-containing grains, dairy, eggs, nuts and shellfish.


Remember that constipation is a symptom that something’s not right, so if you’ve ruled out all of the above causes and are still feeling backed up, it’s time to talk to your healthcare practitioner, because true health isn’t just about making symptoms disappear, it’s about addressing the root cause of those symptoms so they don’t have a chance to come back.

So let’s keep the constipation conversation going so that we can all keep comfortably, erm, going. ;)

Joy McCarthy

Joy McCarthy is the vibrant Holistic Nutritionist behind Joyous Health. Author of JOYOUS HEALTH: Eat & Live Well without Dieting, professional speaker, nutrition expert on Global’s Morning Show, Faculty Member at Institute of Holistic Nutrition and co-creator of Eat Well Feel Well. Read more…

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