My Experience with an Upper Cervical Care Chiropractor as a Chiari 1 Malformation Patient

Pictured: My stage 2 degenerative disk disease in my neck. Also visible in this photo, my four titanium dental implants. 

I’ve spent more time than I’d like to admit within the past couple of years watching self-proclaimed yogis, fit chicks, and the like flipping their bodies upside down and throwing their legs up in all kinds of cool positions on social media. Although I really wanted to be able to do that kind of thing, a big part of me knew I’d never really be able to, but I couldn’t put my finger on why. Call it intuition.

Back in Sept of 2017, just about 6 months ago, I had a supine MRI that showed Chiari Malformation. I forget how the report was worded, but it basically said my cerebellar tonsils extended into my foramen magnum. It also noted that a diagnosis of Chiari could not be made by the technician reading my MRI. I’m not sure if it was the wording of the report or just the fact that I knew I had a mold-related autoimmune disorder that already explained all of my neurological symptoms, but for whatever reason I decided the Chiari discovery was incidental and insignificant to my recovery.

Fast forward 6 months-ish

I have come a really long way in my recovery from the mold-related autoimmune disorder, but I still had many of the neurological symptoms. At my mother’s behest, I finally broke down and asked my ARNP to order an upright MRI. According to a study published recently, a large percentage of people who’ve experienced neck trauma in automobile accidents showed Chiari Malformation on an upright MRI when a supine MRI did not provide evidence of Chiari, although the Chiari was there. I have been in at least 5 car accidents with neck/head injuries (I used to fall asleep all of the time while driving). Therefore, it seemed like a good idea to get an image of it in the upright position. The upright MRI showed an 8mm Chiari 1 Malformation. After reading as much scientific literature as possible and talking with as many other Chiarians as I can find, I had a pretty big suspicion that some of my neurological symptoms could be attributed to Chiari. It’s not as simple as the severity of symptoms being positively correlated with the length of the Chiari, though. It’s more about the size of your foramen magnum compared to your Chiari Malformation and how much room there is to accommodate it. That’s something you have to see a Chiari specialist to be able to determine.

Here’s where things get a little fuzzy, though.

Chiari 1 is typically considered something that you were susceptible your whole life, if you have it. It’s probably been there, smaller, and asymptomatic for years, in most Chiari patients. Typically, symptoms show up when it grows too large for your foramen magnum and begins to create pressure on your brain stem or is otherwise aggravated. There are many documented causes for that. The most common is head/neck trauma such in the form of whiplash from a car accident. Another lesser known cause is toxin exposure. Neurotoxins (such as mycotoxins from mold) are found in the cerebral spinal fluid of your brain’s lymphatic system. Toxins can also exacerbate Ehlers Danlos Syndrome (EDS), a connective tissue disorder that often precedes or is comorbid with Chiari Malformation. The more severe the connective tissue disorder gets, the worse my cerebellar tonsils herniate meaning that my Chiari Malformation becomes more severe, theoretically.

Instead of sending me to a Chiari specialist (usually a neurosurgeon) my ARNP referred me to an upper cervical specialist to see if there was a way to address my unresolved symptoms without neurosurgery (the usual treatment for Chiari). Therefore, I have not seen a Chiari specialist, yet.

The main point of this post is to explain what an upper cervical specialist is and my experience so far with one.

At my very first appointment, I knew I would be having x-rays taken and speaking with the upper cervical specialist. Originally, my belief was that this specialist could not possibly help me. Patients with EDS and Chiari are typically advised not to receive treatment from any chiropractor, and an upper cervical specialist is technically a chiropractor. By the time the day of the appointment was upon me, I had decided to go into the appointment without any real expectations. I just wanted to be present, go with the flow, and take it all in. I’d been doing even more investigation into the usual treatment for Chiari and I was really unsure whether or not I was willing to risk having decompression surgery or try my best to find an alternative to highly invasive neurosurgery. According to the internet, there is no alternative. Either way, there is no cure. Only a possibility that I might be able to halt further permanent nerve damage. In my mind, the alternative/cure has either not yet been discovered or is some well-kept secret that I am determined to find.

Let’s talk about the first visit, though. I was mentally unprepared to fill-out questionnaire after questionnaire regarding my pain level, location of my pain, restricted range of movement, and how it all affects my daily life. That’s all pretty difficult to face head on, especially when you’ve been experiencing these issues for decades. Prior to seeing the upper cervical specialist, if someone had asked me if I had chronic pain or fibromyalgia I would have said “no, I’m fortunate in that sense”. In fact, I’m almost certain I have said that exact phrase in relation to chronic pain. We can probably all agree that no one wants to be confined to a life of constant pain.

After completing these forms, though, it dawned on me that I have chronic pain. On a scale of 1 to 5, all of my responses were a 5, which was most severe/most limiting. Perhaps this was all part of some sales tactic to persuade me into believing that I was in desperate need of the chiropractor’s help. Either way, I had gained an awareness of my daily pain that I had never even considered. When the chiropractor called me back to sit down and speak with her, I was not feeling well at all. This was all transpiring on a rougher than usual day after having to go 2 days without taking the one medication I take for inflammation, Low Dose Naltrexone (future blog post on this to come). I must have sounded like such a sad case, because the specialist was unsure and a little skeptical sounding that she would even be able to help me. When it was all said and done she assured me that she would stay late and comb through my images in hopes of finding something she could help me with.

The technique used by upper cervical specialists is NOT considered high-velocity, low-amplitude (like a normal chiropractor that makes large, swift adjustments), and is performed with the aid of something called the Laney Instrument. The Laney Instrument is essentially a gun-shaped tool that has a small blunt attachment on the end of it. You lay on your side, the chiropractor tweaks your position so that you are aligned in a certain manner, and then the instrument is used to gently nudge what felt like the transverse process of the C2 cervical vertebrae.  Perhaps the description “gently nudge” minimizes the force of the physical impact a bit too much. It really rather knocks your vertebrae, rather than nudging it. The specialist does that a couple of times then sits you back up and tests your cervical range of motion, again, usually proclaiming that your body has taken the treatment well. At least, that was my experience.

Pictured: The Laney Instrument used by my chiropractor/upper cervical specialist along with some other tool she uses to systematically align my body for adjustment. 

I’m not going to lie… after just 3 or 4 treatments, my range of motion had changed dramatically. When I first began driving my previous car (a Honda Fit) I believed that the Fit had a huge blind spot, despite the frame being nothing but windows. After being adjusted I realized that I was the one with the blind spot. With my new range of movement, I no longer feared switching lanes as I always had before. The treatment was definitely providing me with a benefit, but it seemed to also be giving me some new and worsening symptoms. After every treatment, I would get a metallic taste in my mouth within just a couple of minutes of returning to the upright position. Within another 10 – 20 minutes I had really intense nausea. Later that same day, I would also experience an hour or so of blurred vision with this feeling of being unable to focus my eyes no matter how hard I tried.

I think now is a good time to mention that this treatment has never been recommended for a patient whose symptoms were attributed to Chiari Malformation. In the scientific literature, this type of treatment can be performed on someone with Chiari, but is only done when the patient’s symptoms are believed to originate from a non-Chiari source. In my case, the upper cervical specialist found that I have stage 2 degenerative disc disease in my neck. She did not say as much, but it is now my understanding that she probably believed my symptoms were a result of the degenerative disc disease, and not Chiari. I like to think that, at least, because she would otherwise have no clinical or scientific basis to have initiated treatment with me. I should also mention that there has never been a reported case of a Chiari patient experiencing any lasting negative effects of treatment. There have, however, been cases reported where a Chiari patient completed extensive treatment and did not experience any significant decrease in symptoms. The full treatment plan comes to $3,700 (with a 10% discount if paid upfront), so you can imagine how upsetting it would be to waist valuable resources on an intervention and it not work.

I have not experienced any reduction in frequency or severity of Chiari symptoms since starting treatment with the upper cervical specialist. It’s safe to say I have experienced worsening symptoms, though. Although I do have better range of motion in my neck, that was not a Chiari symptom. According to the specialist, the nerves running from my neck to the rest of my body are being pinched and squeezed leading to all of my symptoms. In peer-reviewed case studies, Chiari patients whose symptoms were not attributed to Chiari experienced relief of all symptoms within the first couple of treatments. It stands to reason that if I’ve experienced range of motion improvement already, then my nerves should be under less distress. Why was I not having improvements in other symptom areas? Why was I having that strange cascade of symptoms directly after being adjusted with the Laney Instrument?

The better question is, why isn’t my upper cervical specialist concerned when I inform her of the new symptoms? Within the days following initiation of this treatment plan, I felt like my Chiari had worsened, in general. I experienced more positional/postural headaches, more dizziness, and more intermittent bouts of nausea even on non-treatment days, dehydration, insomnia, and memory deficits. I’m no stranger to a detox reaction, but this didn’t exactly feel like a detox reaction. After calling the specialist’s office to explain this, I was almost coerced into coming back in for more treatment. Either the specialist and her office staff know something I don’t, or they’re walking the fine line of malpractice in the name of financial profit.

Antidotal evidence of my fellow Chiarian friends suggests that this particular treatment, like any chiropractic treatment, is unsafe and can lead to mini strokes, paralysis, and even death. The literature doesn’t exactly support that in regards to this specific technique; however, it is pretty well documented that traditional chiropractic care does carry those risks for Chiari patients. I’m a big believer in listening to your intuition and to your body’s response to outside stimuli, including medical treatment. I’ve been receiving all kinds of treatment for my health issues for decades. Really, since I was 4 or 5 years old I’ve been subjected to naturopathic practitioners and their methods for healing the chronically ill. I have experienced great success as well as great disappointment with treatment, over the years. I also have a deeply rooted skepticism of Western medicine practitioners. Most MD’s I’ve seen have done more harm to me than good.

I really wanted this treatment to be the alternative to surgery that I’ve been searching for.

Chiari neurosurgery can consist of several components, depending on the neurosurgeon’s expertise. Decompression is the term used to describe a procedure called a craniotomy, which sometimes includes a laminectomy, as well. In other words, part of the patient’s skull is removed and their cerebellar tonsils are resected. After which a stretchy patch is placed over the area that was affected. This patch can be derived from cadaver tissue, your own tissue harvested from elsewhere on your body, or it can be sourced from another animal. There is also a technique used for Chiarians called shunting in which a shunt is placed to drain cerebral spinal fluid from the brain. Other surgical interventions include having a “blood patch” placed to stop a cerebral spinal fluid leak.

As you can see, the standard treatment for Chiari Malformation is anything but standard. It’s highly nuanced and complicated and involves removing part of, not only your skull, but also part of your brain. There are many options and many opportunities for problems to arise. Only a Chiari specialist neurosurgeon can be trusted to the surgery, and there are very few in the US. Here’s the real kicker- like I touched on earlier, none of these surgeries are intended to reduce the patient’s symptoms. Say what? That’s right. The incidence of symptom improvement following surgery is 75%, but the intended purpose of the surgery is to minimize or prevent further nerve damage, not improve existing symptoms. While preventing further nerve damage sounds great, a 25% chance I’m going to feel just as bad (or worse according to many who have undergone shunting and/or decompression) is a scary prospect. Some recover from surgery within a matter of days, and other years. Some describe their post-surgery improvement as having their life back, while others have had to have multiple successive neurosurgeries and are in far more pain than before.

The bottom line is this: I believe that upper cervical specialists and their technique can really help some patients. I would even refer my own clients to see an upper cervical specialist if I felt it might be helpful. The issue I have is that I truly believe it is not what I should be doing, right now. I have just received a referral to see a Chiari specialist neurosurgeon in Orlando, Fl (Dr. Trumble), and I feel that I need to hear his professional opinion before continuing treatment. He may tell me to go ahead and continue treatment with the chiropractor, but more than likely he will inform me of the risks to Chiari patients and advise against it. Before I can see the specialist, though, I have to have a full spine MRI. My ARNP has written a prescription for the next (and hopefully last MRI for a while), and as soon as I work up the nerve to subject myself to that kind of torture, once more, I’ll be ready to see the specialist.

If you have any chronic health problems, and you know for a fact that you do not have a Chiari Malformation, I highly recommend finding an upper cervical specialist in your area. I would even recommend mine to anyone in the Tampa Bay Area, to be honest. She and her office staff have seemed a bit pushy, in my case, but I believe they just truly think they can help me and they don’t want to see me lose the benefit of treatment by stopping or being inconsistent.

A big part of why I share my experiences is to help others who are faced with the same issues as me. Another big part, though, is that I love feedback from anyone interested in helping me expand my knowledge or even just your opinion on my approach. This journey is a process, and the more people I connect with along the way the better. Please drop me a line in the comments section or by email ( or find me on Instagram (@Experimental_Betty) or Facebook (Experimental Betty).


Update on My Health Journey

Pictured: My mother and I on Christmas Day in our matching dresses that we got a month earlier in Athens, Ga for my birthday. In just one month’s time I went from feeling completely awful and basically bed ridden for a couple of days to feeling amazing. Just one month prior I was reacting to everything in my environment, left and right. I barely even made it through Thanksgiving, and actually had to fly home early on Thanksgiving night. Fast forward to Christmas and I couldn’t have felt better. I had almost forgotten how awesome that feels. 

What I’m Doing Now That Is Working

I’ve been feeling a lot better the past couple of weeks. That’s coming off the heels of a really bad set-back over the Thanksgiving holiday. Within one month I was feeling not only like myself, but a healthier than usual version of myself. Since the end of October I have been undergoing an aggressive treatment plan for Chronic Inflammatory Response Syndrome- water damaged building (CIRS-WDB). I’ll get technical here and there for those readers of mine who are also experiencing CIRS and are familiar with the nitty gritty of the various treatment protocols and lab tests. I’ll try to keep the technical stuff to a minimum and explore that in a separate post. This is just going to serve as an overview of what has changed and what is actually moving the needle for me.

The Evolution of My Treatment Protocol

After being seen by Dr. Minkoff’s advanced registered nurse practitioner (ARNP), Jennifer Baer, at Lifeworks Wellness Center in Clearwater, Fl I decided to move forward with the expensive treatment plan she prescribed to me. The grand total was about $12,000 due upfront for a 10% discount or pay out of pocket as you go. About $5,000 of that actually went towards diagnostic testing. Another $1,000 or so would have gone towards having a PICC line placed; however, since my veins have never been a problem I talked the care coordinator into allowing me to forgo the PICC line under the condition that I would be required to have it and required to pay for an attempted IV if the nurse was ever unable to stick me. Another good little chunk of that sum went towards supplements that were prescribed by Jennifer.

The initial consult with Jennifer was truly exactly what I had always wanted from a doctor’s visit. It was self-pay and about $300, but she spent almost 2 hours with me. We did muscle testing that confirmed every single one of my suspicions about my health picture independent of me telling Jennifer. She also retrieved a drop of blood from my finger tip via lancet puncture and mounted it on a slide. She showed me under the microscope (projected onto her computer screen) little parasites flickering away in my blood, sticky blood cells that clumped together, and little flecks of undigested food that had permeated my gut lining (I actually believe what we were seeing was lipopolysaccharide particles, but sort of kind of same difference, I guess).

Everything Jennifer said was really right on the money in terms what I had come up with on my own over the past decade of trying to sort out my health issues virtually almost completely on my own. I was so impressed that I left her office determined to come up with $12,000 within a couple of weeks’ time so that I could get started ASAP.

When I put my mind to achieving a goal, especially related to my health and well-being, there’s no stopping me. I got the money (partly thanks to a sweet friend who loaned more than half of it to me) and started the testing. Their office requires you to finish all of the testing before you can begin treatment, for obvious reasons- you need a quantifiable baseline. There was a urine collection for vitamins and minerals and other metabolites, nasal swap for multi-antibiotic resistant coagulase negative staph (MARCoNS), 3 day stool sample, blood draw for comprehensive metabolic panal, and 4 part saliva collection for hormone level detection. There was also some energetic type testing performed to determine what organ systems in my body were weakest as well as possible food sensitivities.

Once that was done, it was time for 3x/week in-office treatments + a strict supplementation regimen. At home, I was taking things to heal my gut, binders to detox my gut, Bolouke (an enzyme that greatly helps people with Lyme and other biotoxin illnesses), a homeopathic for healing my small intestine, a homeopathic for Epstein Barre Virus (EBV), Monestary of herbs for EBV, and VRM 4 + Wo oil for parasites. I was also instructed to continue the supplements was already taking beforehand which included KappArest, krill oil, Thorne Basic Nutrients III without copper and iron, vitamin k2 as MK-7, l-carnitine, Probiota 12, Perfect Amino among other things that were taken on a less consistent basis.

The in-office treatment consisted of 3x/week intravenous infusion of ozone (two different kinds), Meyer’s Cocktail, and glutathione. I was also sentenced to ozone infused far infrared sauna 30 minutes, 2x/week. Then some allergy elimination and something called the MAS MAT which was a mat that sent electric pulses through my body to try and change the frequency of my cells vibrations to be that of a more healthful and natural state. I reacted poorly to the MAS MAT, and not really at all to the allergy elimination. If you are familiar with CIRS then you already know that our food sensitivities originate from low melanocyte stimulating hormone (MSH) and consequently low vasoactive intestinal peptide (VIP), not blocked meridians as this technique was designed to address.

I consistently did the IV’s and the sauna as well as the at-home supplement regimen for about 6 weeks (give or take the weeks that the office was closed for the holidays and weeks that I was detoxing too hard to make it to my treatments 3x in one week). By Thanksgiving I felt like it was probably not a great idea to travel, but my parents had already booked my flight to Athens, Ga so I felt like it was worth a shot. I picked out an Air BnB for us to stay in and crossed my fingers that is wasn’t moldy (long story short, but my parents’ house may have been one of the things that made me sick in the first place so I’m afraid to return there even after the major remediation they did). A day before the trip I had opened a bag of sweaters that had been packed away from three moves ago (people with CIRS-WDB will know that moving 3 times in year is par for the course). I live in Florida, so I rarely need sweaters, but Georgia is another story. I felt the exposure immediately when I opened that bag, even though I had washed everything in there more than twice in hot water and borax. Some mycotoxins and some fabrics just cannot be remediated, which is why I typically leave everything to be donated or picked over by friends or thrown out when I move. Items that have lived in mold will never be safe for me, again. I washed the sweaters again, twice, in hot water and borax. I still reacted to them. I packed them in my bag even, just out of wishful thinking. The day of my flight I put on one of the sweaters and reacted again, so I begrudgingly admitted defeat and changed clothes then unpacked the other sweaters to leave them behind in a trash bag in the laundry room.

Needless to say, I started that trip out on the wrong foot. The whole trip ended up being one reaction to my environment after another. It was painful to suffer in silence from the first 15 minutes of being in my parents’ car with them all the way up until the second to last day when I couldn’t hold it in anymore. I finally broke down the night before the last night at the Air BnB. I couldn’t sleep all night and just anxiously tossed and turned wrecked with sadness and fear over having to wake up and tell my parents’ that I had a beautiful time with them, but I needed to leave early. They took it well and changed my flight, and we cut our trip short. The following week was hell, though. That’s the worst part about reacting. You feel bad immediately, but you know it’s not even anywhere near as bad as you’re going to feel in the coming days and weeks. There’s a cascade of biological events that take place and 3 days after exposure is when things start to really get bad.

As soon as the doctor’s office opened up after Thanksgiving it was back to the salt mines for me. I diligently attended my IV and sauna sessions, as well as upping my detox protocol at home with Welchol, Cholestyramine, charcoal, clay, modified citrus pectin, and Cholestpure. I threw everything I could at it. A month later I was feeling the same as I did pre-Thanksgiving, which was good, but that still wasn’t where I wanted to be. I was about to travel for Christmas and couldn’t imagine that going well. About a week before my flight out of Tampa for Christmas I started feeling even better, though.

What Changed?

Up until this point I had assumed that some of my other peripheral diagnoses were relatively unimportant in the shadow of CIRS. Mold exposure was the only obvious thing that tanked my health time and time again; therefore, why would I consider anything else as integral to me healing? I had pretty much always known that my mom and I have Ehler’s Danlos Syndrome (EDS), but my mom’s diagnosis was shaky, at best, and not from a geneticist. My self-diagnosis was based off of her shaky, unofficial diagnosis. We are very “bendy” people and we always get random injuries that never heal and we can’t always pinpoint where they came from or even when they occurred. I swear I have a stretched ligament from when I was 10 years old that never healed, despite physical therapy. I’ve rolled my ankles and sprained my wrists several times. When I taught more than 1x/week barre, my back was always getting messed up and the chiropractor only made it worse.

I had an MRI, back in September, to determine the extent of the neurological damage and the etiology of it. The MRI technician used NeuroQuant software to determine that my areas of atrophy and hypertrophy were an 8/8 match for damaged caused by mycotoxin exposure. I had 0 indications of damage caused by Lyme disease, therefore pretty much ruling out Lyme as a comorbidity (later when Jennifer muscle tested me for Lyme I was also negative, not to mention I had a negative Western Blot two years ago, as well). The technician ran a separate MRI with contrast to also rule out multiple sclerosis (MS), since the symptoms for CIRS and MS are identical. The contrast MRI did show something, but not MS- Chiari Malformation.

At the time Chiari seemed like the least of my problems, especially considering the only treatment is BRAIN SURGERY. Uh… hard pass. I went about treating CIRS aggressively. After 6-ish weeks, though, I wasn’t feeling as well as I felt like I should have been. I had treated parasites, EBV, ozoned the crap out of blood and skin, and through intermittent fasting had lost fat and gained muscle. It was time to investigate what could be holding me back, still. Chiari came back to my mind as did EDS. I googled a treatment for EDS and came up with fractionated aloe vera juice. I also requested Jennifer order and upright MRI to confirm Chiari, since the kind of MRI I had in October cannot actually be used to diagnose Chiari. I had the upright MRI and it was confirmed that I have Chiari type 1 with a herniation greater than 5mm, but the exact measurement was not noted in the report.

The Silver Bullet(s)

I added a few things to my day-to-day supplement regimen in light of the new results (after throwing a mild pity party when my genetic testing confirmed EDS and I joined Facebook support groups for EDS and Chiari that made it seem like my life, as I knew it, was completely over and would never improve- only get worse).

  1. PQQ (Bulletproof brand Unfair Advantage; 4 ampules daily)
  2. Fractionated aloe vera juice (2 oz daily)
  3. Liposomal Vitamin C Plus (Seeking Health brand; 1 tsp mixed with the aloe juice)
  4. Restore (1 tsp on empty stomach right after my thyroid meds in the morning, then before each meal)
  5. Probiota 12 (directly following Restore 3x daily)

*I had discontinued my probiotic while taking the anti-parasitic herbs, so I was just restarting it, not necessarily adding it

  1. Vitamin D3 (10,000 IU)
  2. Magnesium L-threonate (NeuroMag from Life Extension; 3 caps 1x daily)
  3. Vitamin E (mixed tocopherals 400mg additional to what’s in my multivitamin)

*I added extra vitamin D, E, and magnesium because my urinalysis results finally came in (6 weeks later) and I was low in all three

  1. L-lysine (500mg 1x daily)
  2. Decaf Bulletproof Coffee + 4 tbsp grass-fed butter + 1-3 tsp brain octane oil (at least 1x daily in place of a meal)
  3. Xlear + Argentyn 23 (for MARCoNS; 2 sprays Xlear + 1 spray Argentyn 23; each nostril 3x daily)

What a difference all of that made! I see now that I am 90% healed from CIRS. My MARCoNS swab was positive, although the antibiotic resistance was relatively low in that it was only resistant to two antibiotics. However, having unsuccessfully tried BEG spray in the past, the Xlear and Argentyn 23 route seemed like a good course of treatment, and it was what Jennifer recommended. At first, I tried a higher dose and was having a HERX-like reaction, so I backed off and managed the lower dose well. I have not had follow up CIRS blood work to see what improvements I’ve made with MMP-9, MSH, and TGF beta-1, although when Lifeworks reopens after the holidays I plan to request a lab slip to find out.

All in all, I think my remaining issues are the MARCoNS eradication, which could take a few months, as well as EDS and Chiari. Apparently, just using fractionated aloe juice is enough to put some people’s EDS into remission, although I think it probably depends on severity. My Chiari is a result of EDS and was worsened by CIRS. The only treatment for Chiari is surgery. Judging by what neurological symptoms still remain after my almost completely successful treatment of CIRS, I would say that Chiari is actually responsible for 50% of all of my symptoms- neurological and otherwise.

What Now?

Chiari Malformation is, essentially, when your connective tissues are weakened by something like EDS and through force of gravity, toxin exposure, and trauma the tonsils of the brain herniate into the spinal column. The cerebral spinal fluid (CSF) builds up because the herniation is blocking your brain’s lymphatic flow. The only treatments for this include neuro surgery to remove part of your skull (decompression), and neuro surgery to place a shunt that can drain the CSF. These are highly invasive surgeries with a high rate of complication, and a relatively low rate of symptom resolution, from everything I can tell. In other words, the surgery doesn’t actually fix you. Why have it then? It may prevent permanent nerve damage, paralysis, and death from occurring later on. That’s exciting stuff, right? I found one of the very last pieces to the puzzle, but the treatment (there is no cure) is not exactly a treatment by most people’s standards.

My friends keep asking me if I found out whether or not I need surgery, and that’s my fault for presenting the situation as a question of whether or not surgery would be necessary. Surgery is necessary, but it’s not like it’s mandatory. It’s like if you were diagnosed with cancer and the doctor prescribed a treatment of surgery or chemotherapy or radiation. There is no cure, those are the treatments, but you don’t necessarily have to do what has been recommended.

Are there viable alternatives? I haven’t quite put the idea to rest, yet, but the general scientific consensus is that there is no alternative. Jennifer referred me to a chiropractor who does a special technique that is supposed to provide some symptom relieve for Chiari, and I have a consult scheduled for January. Typically, people with EDS and/or Chiari are advised never to see chiropractors. This technique is not that of a normal chiropractor, though, and there is no popping, twisting, or jerking involved. The treatment would start out being 2x/week at $55 per session. This is a highly specialized technique that most chiropractors aren’t trained to perform. Therefore, if you consider spending $110 every week for the rest of your life, taking sick leave from work 2 days per week every day for the rest of your life, and only living within close proximity to one of these special chiropractors for the rest of your life a feasible option, then, yes, there might be a possible alternative to surgery.

In Conclusion

This next month, I’m hopefully going to get some follow-up blood work done, so that I can compare my progress in a quantifiable way. I’d like to, not only see the updated CIRS labs, but also my bioavailable copper, and copper/zinc ratio. I’ve been working on balancing my minerals for almost as long as I’ve been working on curing my CIRS.

I’ll also hopefully continue to improve on my new at-home supplement protocol. I’ll continue intermittent fasting and decaf Bulletproof coffee (which I can now tolerate, whereas before treatment I could not). I no longer have debilitating food sensitivities or a compulsion to overeat, so I plan to continue to implore moderation and continue the ketogenic/paleo eating pattern with occasional indulgences like a little bit of dairy, chocolate and nut butters. I plan to continue working out 1-2x/ week, but now I will be mindful of the movements Chiarians are advised to avoid.

At some point during spring semester I will (hopefully) start back with my clinical rotations of my dietetic internship. That means I will have to deal with stress, and I’m a little intimidated. I’m also feeling optimistic, though. As long as my environment is relatively mold-free I think I can do this. I have actually started to miss being in the clinical space and having the structure of a “job”. Within the past couple of weeks, especially, I’ve been feeling like I can get back out into the world like someone without any disability.

I didn’t really mention it earlier, but my Christmas travel went off without a hitch. I sat near the front of the plane, used pressure reducing ear plugs, and a neck pillow and my head didn’t feel like it was going to explode! That’s huge! Those were tips I gleaned from a blog about Chiari. I’m pretty sure I was exposed to mold, but I didn’t react much if any. I drank a lot of wine with my girlfriends one night and was minimally hungover. I ate cheese, had an entire night of insomnia, and was overstimulated to the max bouncing from gracious friend’s house to gracious friend’s house (since I couldn’t go to my parents’ house because of the reactivity issue), and still felt totally fine. The day after I returned home from my trip was a little rough, but all things considered it was a pleasant surprise. I can travel again! If I can travel again, then surely I can work/intern again.

I’m tired of being a shut-in. I’m so over having to pass on making new friends and going out to eat or never going on dates. I’m more than ready to run more than a couple errands in one day without regretting it. I’ve put in the hard work, invested the cash, and now I’m finally seeing a light at the end of this tunnel. I say this tunnel, because I know there will be another tunnel after this one. I’m just hoping for a little more blue sky in between, this time.


{No} Sugar Cookies w/ Royal Icing

Sugar cookies were always a part of my family’s Christmas tradition, growing-up. Not just baking them, but also decorating them. We had so much fun cutting them out in all kinds of holiday-themed shapes, and then putting our unique flare on them with all different colors of sugary icing. The flavor and texture was just out of this world!

Truly, nothing tastes more like Christmas, to me, than these cookies. Since my family has always been vegetarian, Christmas dinner wasn’t about ham or anything like that. We always had tofu pot pie, but that was what we had at Thanksgiving, too. Tofu pot pie is probably my favorite dish my mother made during my childhood, but it’s what Thanksgiving tastes like; not so much Christmas. These cookies, though… these cookies were what Christmas was all about.

Baking and decorating Christmas cookies was always a time when our family could swarm the dining room or kitchen island and laugh and feel merry. No matter what ages we all were, my brothers and I could put aside our sibling tensions for a few hours and playful poke fun at each others’ frosting skills and distasteful color preferences.

Being the artist in the family, as well as the bonafide black sheep, cookie decorating was my time to show off. Unlike my brothers, there were no black and green striped stars or blue Santas with rainbow sprinkles on my side of the table.

That’s not to say my piping skills are anything more than amateur, though. As you can see above I could benefit from logging a few hours of practice, still. Alas, until now I have had no motivation to practice, since I would not be caught dead eating the sugar cookies or icing from childhood. Back then I wasn’t sick so the 80/20 rule that works for everyone else, worked just fine for me, as well.

One time a year, it was completely fine and normal, and dare I say healthy for me to indulge in some sugar cookies. Now, though, my 80/20 rule cannot account for the damage such an indulgence would result in.

Instead, I am going to share with you my new version of the old Christmas cookies with icing. These guys are completely sugar-free, paleo-inspired, (aside from ghee in the cookies) they are dairy-free, and they fit well into a ketogenic eating pattern w/ less than 5 net carbs per serving. And, no, a serving is not just one cookie… it’s TWO!



  • 2 cups Bob’s Red Mill Paleo Pastry Flour
  • 1/3 cup Lakanto Gold Granulated Monk Fruit Sweetener
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup ghee or coconut oil
  • 1/8-1/4 cup IMO syrup (I use Fiberyum brand because it’s sourced from tapioca which makes it Paleo-compliant. Other brands are sourced from corn)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract


  • 3 cups powdered/confectioners style xylitol (I made my own by using a coffee grinder to finely grind granulated birch xylitol, then added 1/8-1/4 cup Fiberyum IMO powder and 1/8 cup arrowroot. If you do this, make sure your xylitol is all really finely ground. If it’s not ground finely enough, the icing will look granulated.)
  • 1/4 of a lemon (juice only)
  • 2 large egg whites


  1. Pre-heat the oven to 320 degrees. Melt the ghee or coconut oil and pour over the pastry flour in medium bowl. Add all other ingredients and mix well.
  2. On a parchment paper lined cutting board, roll dough into ball. Then place a second sheet of parchment paper over the dough and smoosh flat until only 1/4″ thick.
  3. Cut the cookie dough out into shapes. You can get creative and use cookie cutters or you can do like I did and use the rim of drinking glass to cut out circles.
  4. Place the cookies on a parchment paper lined cookie sheet and bake for about 10 min or until golden brown.
  5. Remove from heat and cool completely before icing.
  6. In a small-medium glass bowl use a hand mixer to beat the egg whites on low until frothy.
  7. Add in the lemon juice, then 1/4 cup of the powdered xylitol mixture.
  8. Increase the speed to high and slowly add the remaining amount of the powdered xylitol.
  9. Mix on high for about 5 minutes until stiff peaks form.
  10. Separate the icing into as many bowls as different colors you would like.
  11. I used India Tree natural food coloring to make a light blue, and then I used plain white as well, so I only had two bags of icing.
    1. note: pastel colors are your best bet when using this kind of food coloring. I tried to make a red, but it turned out hot pink and too thin to do anything with.
  12. Then, using a spoon, transfer the icing into plastic storage bags and squeeze the icing all the way almost to the tip of one corner.
  13. Cut a tiny whole the size of the tip of a felt pen out of the corner.
  14. Pipe your icing in whatever design you desire!
  15. Store in the refrigerator or eat them all right then and there.

*Raw egg whites are not suitable for consumption by the elderly or those with compromised immune systems. To make this recipe without egg whites, you can use meringue powder; although, that would make them not Paleo. You can also try mixing the icing in a glass bowl of a double broiler and on low-medium heat slowly beat the eggs adding the sweetener little by little. The lemon juice does help to stabilize the egg whites, and so would cream of tartar.

**If you want to opt for a low lectin version of this recipe, use my original recipe for {No} Sugar Cookies, which is yucca based, instead of a nut-based flour. It will be slightly higher in net carbs, but still grain-free, and just as easy to make. For holiday cookie purposes, I would omit the maple extract in this recipe. These cookies will also have a more delicate, light texture compared to the version with the Paleo pastry flour.

No Cow Protein Cookies!!!!!

Guess what I just discovered! A pre-packaged cookie that I can eat without any issues!!!

I’m so stoked about this that I have to share about it. For a couple of years now I’ve been trying out various protein bars to find one that works really well for my body and health picture. In order for a protein bar to make it into regular rotation in my diet it has to have a few key qualities.

  1. It cannot contain inulin. As I’ve said before in previous posts, inulin is a pre-biotic fiber that most people tolerate well. It has many benefits, but I do not tolerate it at all. The other version of pre-biotic fiber used in protein bars that I do tolerate is called isomalto-oligosaccharide fiber, which can be derived from either corn or tapioca.
  2. It must have very high fiber and very low carbohydrate The theory of net carbs is that you can subtract the amount of fiber and sugar alcohol from the amount of carbohydrates and get the “true” carbohydrate content of the food. There is no scientific evidence that supports this theory; however, as long as the total carbs are less than 20g, I have found that, for me personally, a low net carb calculation does reflect how well-tolerated the carbohydrates will be.
  3. No sugar. I value my gut health, my skin health, my cardiovascular health, my reproductive health, plus I want to stay in ketosis. For that reason, the only sugar in my diet comes from vegetables and berries. You will never catch me knowingly eating something with added sugar, and I check my food stringently.
  4. It needs to be dairy-free or if it contains dairy, it needs to be only grass-fed whey concentrate. Dairy is inflammatory to me. The only reason I make an exception for grass-fed whey concentrate is because consuming it has been shown to increase your body’s glutathione production. Glutathione is your body’s most prevalent and powerful anti-oxidant.
  5. There can absolutely be no artificial sweeteners. There are too many good alternatives to things like sucralose and saccharine for me to risk my health consuming them, instead. They’ve been linked, in research, to the development of certain symptoms and higher risk for certain chronic diseases. Stevia, monk fruit, xylitol, and erythritol are all better options.
  6. It’s also important to me that it be gluten-free. I’m one of those nut jobs who believes that gluten-containing foods should be consumed sparingly.
  7. Let’s be real… it has to taste like dessert. The only time I’m going to eat a protein bar is when I’m on the road or when I want something that feels like dessert.

So, out of all of the millions of protein bars I’ve tried, what is the closest I’ve found to meeting all of those parameters?

No Cow Bars!

And guess what… now they make a protein cookie! Yep, that’s right. It is dairy-free, added sugar-free, no artificial sweeteners, doesn’t contain inulin, is high fiber/low carbohydrate, gluten-free, and it tastes like dessert. That means I have something, finally, (that I don’t have to bake myself) that I can throw in my handbag or suitcase and have ready when/if I have an insatiable cookie craving.

(Don’t act like you don’t know what I’m talking about.)

We’ve all been there. You are waiting at the terminal to board your flight, or walking through the mall, or just stressed the f*#k out at 3:00pm. You have two choices (until now): you can suffer through it and will-power your way past your craving or you can give-in and suffer later after you’ve eaten a 42g sugar, 60g carbohydrate, gluten-filled time bomb.

I’m not saying I can replace a healthy meal with one of these protein cookies. I wouldn’t even go as far as to say I would comfortable eating them every week. The point is, my 80/20 rule looks different than it would for someone who is not living with chronic disease. There is no 20% of the time that’s safe for me to eat an actual sugary, gluten-containing cookie. The systemic inflammation, pain, and cost/effort it would take to heal from something like that would simply not be worth the minor sugar high from it.

However, I am human and I do need something to treat myself with 20% of the time. Enter No Cow Protein cookie . They have every flavor you could want: chocolate chip, double chocolate chip, snickerdoodle, and peanut butter. You can find them on Amazon with free prime shipping, or you can do what I did and go to the Vitamin Shoppe and pick up one of each flavor to try while you’re waiting on your Amazon order to arrive.

I’m already brainstorming ways to use these guys in semi-homemade sugar-free desserts. So keep an eye out for some exciting new ways to use these “cookies”.

Before I let you run off to try one for yourself, I just quickly wanted to do a quick comparison to another popular “keto” protein cookie on the market. The Know Foods cookies are probably the most similar to these No Cow cookies. The problem, for me, with the Know cookies is that it actually has over 40g of carbohydrates and it uses Enjoy Life chocolate chips, which contain sugar. The Know brand claims that the kind of sugar they use, allulose, does not impact blood sugar nor is recognized by the body as a carbohydrate. Anecdotal evidence of pre- and post-consumption blood sugar readings suggest otherwise. Know foods claims that you can subtract the allulose grams (listed as grams of sugar on their nutrition label) from the carbohydrates, and then also subtract the grams of fiber and sugar alcohol and you will get the low net carb count of 4g. Until the net carb theory is proven, though, this is just too far of leap of faith for me.

The No Cow Protein Cookie (snickerdoodle flavor) lists 18 g carbohydrates, 7 g fiber, and 7 g sugar alcohol (erythritol). That also leaves 4g net carb, but it’s just a more reasonable leap of faith to go from <20 g carbs to 4 g carbs vs. Know brand going from >40 g carbs to 4 g carbs. Like I mentioned at the beginning of my article, the only time the net carb theory seems to be an accurate gauge of how my body will receive a food’s carbohydrate content is if the original carbohydrate count is <20 g. There is just no amount of fiber or sugar alcohol that can balance out >40 g of carbohydrate, for me. Yes, you can half the Know cookie and get roughly 20 g carbs, before the net carb calculation, and they are slightly bigger cookies to begin with than the No Cow brand. However, who wants to shove a half-eaten, open cookie down into their handbag to save for later?

The bottom line is that the No Cow Protein cookie win my seal of approval for a “20% of the time” indulgence. They are still going to be somewhat inflammatory because they do contain grains and their source of soluble plant fiber (isomalto-oligosaccharide) is corn, which are both high in lectins. They are still a pre-packaged, not fresh treat. Having said that, they beat the pants off of any of the alternatives, as far as I’m concerned!

Avocado Chocolate Pudding {sugar-free, keto}

It’s still hard for me to believe that, in Florida, strawberries, avocados, and coconuts are all in season during the winter. Well, honestly, it’s not winter here at all, but it is December. I’m from North Georgia, and December is hot chocolate weather, not strawberry season.

Luckily for all of us, here in Florida, we get to make this delicious, simple, ketogenic dessert out of things we can pick up fresh from our local farmers. Below you’ll find a list of some of my favorite seasonal produce for December, in Florida. You’ll also find the recipe to this Avocado Chocolate Pudding at the bottom of the sheet. I only used about 1 tbsp of cocoa powder, just because I am a little bit sensitive to dark chocolate. Although cocoa’s high polyphenol count is said to beneficial to health, some people have a little trouble processing it (AKA sometimes it gives me migraines).

If you like it rich and dark, then go for it and add 2 or even 3 tbsp cocoa powder! You can also add any liquid sweetener you prefer if you don’t mind it not being ketogenic. Other options include coconut whipped cream for garnish or using coconut cream instead of dairy-free milk. I used Milkadamia, which is unsweetened macadamia nut milk. I even made one with a paleo crust in the bottom. I used the shortbread cookie recipe from my previous post for the Best Ever Holiday Bars . Get creative and let me know your feedback!

Best Ever Holiday Bars {grain-free, sugar-free, low-carb}

     Who here loooooves 7 Layer Bars or shortbread cookies, or chocolate? What about caramel?

Ok, now show of hands for everyone who wants the satisfaction of indulging in one of those sweet treats around the holiday season? Is it even the holidays if you don’t eat a rich dessert after your big holiday meal?

How about you have your cake (or 7 Layer Bar, as the case may be) and eat it too?

These keto-friendly, paleo-ish, grain-free/gluten-free, AND sugar-free Best Ever Holiday Bars are where it’s at!

My family celebrates Christmas, although I was raised agnostic. It doesn’t prevent us from enjoying the Christian spirit and spreading around good will and cheer. I was also raised vegetarian and my family is now vegan (except for me). Again, it does not stop us from enjoying the holiday staples during meal time.

Our holiday meals consist of collards, sweet potatoes, deviled eggs (for me) and turkey (for me), cranberry sauce, vegan/gluten-free mac & cheese (for everyone except me), and my mother’s famed tofu pot pie… the running MVP of Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner.

For dessert, my mother usually makes a double dark chocolate vegan layer cake w/ chocolate tofu mousse topped with chocolate ganache. There is also usually a sweet potato pie and pecan pie and maybe even some sort of vegan oat bars (raspberry or chocolate/coconut).

This year I was commissioned to make my own Betty-friendly dessert since all of the above contain sugar and grains. For my keto-ish dessert I decided to combine some of my favorite things: shortcake, macadamia nut butter, and keto chocolate.

The convenience factor of being able to cut these into bars and pack them in my carry-on bag inspired what ended up being the best dessert I have ever made. No joke!

Don’t believe me? Try it for yourself!



  • 2 cups paleo flour mix (I used Bob’s Red Mill)
  • 1/3 C coconut oil (refined, medium heat)
  • 1/8 C grass-fed ghee
  • 1 tsp almond extract
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/3 C Lakanto gold granulated sweetener


  • 1/2 C sprouted raw unsweetened macadamia nut butter (unsalted, if salted then omit added salt below)
  • 1/4 tsp pink salt
  • 1/3 cup Lakanto maple syrup
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Chocolate Layer

  • 1/2 C – 1 C sugar-free chocolate (Lakanto brand is my pick because they use tapioca IMO fiber instead of inulin. Inulin has the same prebiotic benefits, but I do not tolerate it. Other sugar-free chocolate bar/chip brands use inulin. If you’re not sensitive to it, then use whatever brand you prefer. Lakanto brand chocolate bars are a little bit harder to find.)


  • 1/2 C cocoa butter
  • 1 1/8 C cacao powder
  • 1/8 C IMO powder or sunflower lecithin powder
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 dropper-fulls of liquid stevia (alcohol-free)


  1. Melt coconut oil and ghee for the shortcake. Mix all dry ingredients for shortcake in medium bowl, then add melted fats. Add extracts and stir until well combined. Spread evenly into parchment paper lined glass 8×8 pan and press into bottom. Bake @ 350 degrees for 20-30 minutes. Remove and cool on counter, then transfer to refrigerator.
  2. Mix all ingredients and melt on very low heat over the stove. Pour evenly onto the shortcake layer and return to refrigerator for 30 minutes, then move to freezer for 30 more minutes, at least.
  3. If using store-bought chocolate, melt on low heat in double broiler until 90% melted, then remove from heat and stir vigorously until completely melted. If making your own chocolate, melt cocoa butter in double broiler on very low heat until 90% melted. Remove from heat and stir vigorously until the remaining 10% is melted, as well. Stir in all other chocolate layer ingredients. Pour evenly onto completely chilled caramel layer. Return to chill in either the refrigerator or freezer. If chilling in the freezer, remove after 30 min – 1 hour as and place in refrigerator. If you store chocolate in the freezer you run the risk of it losing some of its rich flavor.
  4. Once completely chilled, remove and cut into bars. These travel very well and do not necessarily require constant refrigeration. Mine stayed un-refrigerated for 3-4 hours at a time and survived well.
  5. Enjoy with friends and family! They won’t even know they are eating something sugar-free and grain-free.

Pumpkin Spice Fat Bombs {dairy-free}

Who is still pumped about pumpkin and cinnamon flavored everything? If you’re trying to stay in ketosis, like me, you probably take every opportunity to consume healthy fats. With this pumpkin spice fat bomb recipe, you can have your cake and eat it too!

For these fat bombs I use one of my favorite delicate and aromatic healthy fats- cocoa butter. It’s a little bit like pumpkin spice white chocolate, but without all of the sugar and other ingredients that make white chocolate a “every once in a while” food, instead of a ketogenic snack. I eat these things all day long, sometimes, especially when fasting.


  • 1/2 cup cocoa butter
  • 1/3 cup isomalto-oligosaccharide powder
  • 10 drops liquid stevia
  • 1 tsp almond extract
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 3 scoops powdered MCT oil (optional) or 1 tbsp liquid MCT oil or you can use BOTH!


  1. Melt cocoa butter over low heat in a double broiler
  2. Once melted 3/4 of the way, remove from heat and stir vigorously until the remaining cocoa butter is melted
  3. Add all other ingredients and stir again until completely mixed
  4. Pour into chocolate molds, lined cupcake tins, or into small pan lined with parchment paper (to make a “bark”)
  5. Chill in freezer for 20-30 mintues
  6. Remove from freezer, pop out of molds and place into glass storage container
  7. Store in refrigerator
  8. After fat bombs have been tempered by spending about an hour in the refrigerator, you can store you fat bombs at room temperature, although they will become somewhat soft

For more fat bombs and everything else cyclical keto and IF, head on over to the side bar and click on the Instagram button to follow my daily journey!

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins {grain-free, sugar-free}

Good morning, Autumn! I’ve been expecting you, thanks for stopping by 🙂 First order of business: break out the pumpkin pie spice.

I’ve been sugar-free and grain-free for a long time, and one of the most exciting things is finding new healthy sugar-free sweeteners. I’m talking about stevia, erythritol and xylitol sweetened things. One thing I haven’t been able to find, until now, is a good maple syrup. A few weeks ago I discovered Lakanto maple syrup! That’s the same brand that makes a sugar-free chocolate bar that can be found in grocery stores and DOES NOT use inulin (inulin doesn’t like me, but if you tolerate it, it has great prebiotic value). Lakanto’s chocolate bars use tapioca fiber. I know because when I saw “vegetable fiber” listed in the ingredients, I called the manufacturer and asked. I use a lot of tapioca fiber in my treats. It has great prebiotic value, like inulin, but is made of isomalto-oligosaccharides.

I decided to do something different for this recipe post and add a little more value for my readers, because ya’ll rock and you deserve it. For those living in Florida (or nearby), below is a list of seasonal produce for October! You’ll also find the recipe for these yummy muffins at the bottom! Feel free to share it!

PS. If you are vegan, go ahead and omit the eggs and sub in coconut oil for the ghee. I made mine without eggs and they were a little dense, but still great!

How to Know When to Advocate for Your Well-being

I’ve been dealing with chronic illness my whole life. Until being diagnosed, though, I felt a duty to myself and the people around me to push as hard as everyone else. The golden rule in a working class family is to work hard. My dad retired early, partly due to the insane number of sick days he had saved up from never taking sick leave (although, I have to disclose that he didn’t get sick often anyway). My mom, bless her heart, has always had aches and pains and other semi-minor issues that she diligently worked through, because of her sense of duty to her family.

So the question is: How do you know when to push through like everyone else and when to take a break, make a change, or just simply start a conversation because of your health challenges?

I almost hesitate to speak to this topic, because I am still sorting out the answer for myself. However, I do have quite a bit of experience in this space. I’ve lived through times when I didn’t speak up and wish that I had, later, and I’ve lived through times when I did advocate for myself for better or for worse. All things considered, I have learned from my experiences, and that’s what I plan to share.

Situations in Which You Might Consider Advocating For Yourself

  1. Work or home environment that gives a reaction (for me, it’s usually mold or EMF pollution)
  2. Factors preventing you from getting adequate quality sleep
  3. Emotionally unhealthy situations/people
  4. Unnecessary or harmful level of stress
  5. Lack of adequate recovery time after illness or flare of chronic illness
  6. Feeling as though if you do not take a break, your health will decline

The thing is, in order to fill other people’s lives with utility, service and meaning, you have to first have a reserve to pull from. If your reserve is empty or running low then you have to ask yourself if any of those situations apply to you. Let’s say one of those situations does apply… how do you know if you’re at the point where action is necessary?

How Do You Know it’s Time to Take Action?

  1. A solution to the problem exists

When presenting a problem to an employer, partner, spouse, etc it is important to have a solution in mind. If you don’t currently have a solution to offer, unless your health situation is dyer and requires immediate action, wait. However, even if the solution is one that puts strain on you and/or others involved, it’s still a solution, and it may be the right time to bring it up.

  1. Timing

Do you feel like in order to get the best outcome it’s now or never? If the answer is “yes”, I would follow your intuition. In my experience, any time that I felt a window of opportunity and ignored it, I later came to regret not taking the bull by the horns. For instance, if your environment is making you sick and know you’re going to have to take action if you want to change that, go ahead and proactively decide what verbiage you’re going to use when the opportunity to bring it up presents itself. You don’t want to be caught off-guard by an impromptu meeting with your boss or the right moment with your spouse/partner and just blurt out whatever emotionally charged feelings you have about the situation. Be ready for the right timing, if you know that change is imminent.

I have found it helpful in the past to even set a deadline for myself. Ask yourself, realistically when will my prime window of opportunity to bring this up start to close? Also, mentally prepare a response for when your boss or whoever asks how things are going. If you’re in a new role, that is likely going to be happening in the foreseeable future. If you’re chronically ill or are recovering from a recent illness, that others are already aware of, you can bet that someone is going to ask how you’re doing. They won’t be expecting a lengthy response, but what you DO NOT want to do is shrug off the situation or minimize it even though it is likely your instinct to. Go ahead and prepare a casual response that isn’t too “heavy” for small talk, but still doesn’t leave out room for future discussion when the timing is right. Or better yet, use that opportunity to say something like “actually I’ve been wanting to discuss that with you whenever you get a chance”. I emphasize again, though, the importance of having your elevator pitch at the ready in case that person says that now is a good time to discuss it.

  1. You feel good about it

If you feel like jumping to action is the only route to avoiding further health problems or healing your current issues, that’s a pretty obvious sign to go for it. If your solution is a good one, you have the support of loved ones, and you feel the only thing left to do is rip off the bandage- do it. If you wait, things could change, and then who knows whether or not you’ll feel as good about your solution or timing.

  1. The risk of being complacent outweighs the risk of speaking up

This may seem silly, but make some lists of pro’s and con’s. Or consult someone you trust, like a priest or loved one who seems to always know what to do/say. Another idea is ask yourself “why”? My mom was the first person to teach me about this method. You just get out a pen and paper and keep asking yourself why until you’ve reached some sort of closure. The original version of this is to ask yourself “why” 7 times. After 7 answers to “why”, you should have a better idea of the true risk of keeping quiet vs. advocating for your health.

Other ideas include things that are not rooted in science, but may bring you some insight if you tend towards the spiritual side. For instance, the I Ching is the Chinese philosophy that all change is good. The idea is that you use the I Ching book and methodology to uncover the answer to your dilemma. I have used this method before when faced with the prospect of change and it provided invaluable insight into my problem. It’s been years since I’ve consulted the I Ching, but from what I remember you take about 50 small wooden dowels and drop them on the floor. Then you pick them up and place them between your fingers in a pattern while thinking your question to yourself the entire time. Although it may seem like your pattern is developing randomly, because you are contemplating a change that needs to happen, the pattern you end up with will correlate to a passage in the I Ching book. You read the passage and it should have some meaning.

  1. There is no foreseeable end to your suffering

Last, but not least, this is the real deal breaker for staying quiet and pushing through. There are some situations you may feel that you can push through, but if there’s no end in sight what are pushing through towards? The answer is that you aren’t pushing through you’re just pushing yourself to disaster. If you know change has to happen, but there is no way that’s going to happen without you speaking up, then you better start devising your plan of action. On the other hand, if the situation that is impacting your health negatively is temporary, ask yourself how long you can reasonably stand it. Depending on the nature and severity of the problem the answer to that question could be one more day or it could be one more week, or it could be another year or two until you find the right solution.

Some situations are more dyer than others. An emotionally harmful boss is something most people would rate as being able to wait a little while before taking action. However, if you’re in a moldy or otherwise toxic environment consider taking immediate action (which starts with devising a solution, finding your words, and asking for time to discuss it with whoever).

The Take-away

Albert Einstein once said something to the effect of “you can either choose to believe the universe is working against you or for you”. I heard that recently in a podcast interview with the creator or Quest Nutrition.  I think that’s a good filter through which to view your situation if something is negatively impacting your health and you aren’t sure what to do. I urge you approach the situation as though everyone wants you to be healthy and happy; the solution is out there somewhere and you’re going to find it and everything is going to be alright! DON’T let yourself get stuck on negative feelings or feelings of blame. Just move forward.

Grain-free Cassava Flour Waffles w/ Fresh Berry Compote

This week I had been eating through a large batch of Dave Asprey’s Vanilla Get Some Ice Cream that I whipped up to serve as a quick easy bite that contains a HUGE portion of healthy fats and some un-oxidized protein from raw eggs. All the while reminiscing about the brownie sunday I used to love from Steak n Shake.

So for days now I’ve been dreaming of smothering this healthy ice cream in a mixed berry compote. Now that my community nutrition rotation is over, I decided what better way to celebrate than to make my day dream a reality?

Since the ice cream recipe is not my own and I follow the original instructions to a T, I won’t include that here, but you can Google “get some ice cream” if you wish to make this a part of your dish.

Below is the recipe for the cassava flour waffles, followed by the recipe for the mixed berry compote.


  • 1/2 cassava flour (I was finally able to find Otto’s brand locally at Whole Foods)
  • 3 egg whites
  • 1 whole egg
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tbsp syrup sweetener of your choice (I chose IMO syrup + 1-2 dropper-fulls of liquid stevia)
  • 1/4 cup melted coconut oil (I used refined so as not to add any flavor from the coconut oil)
  • 1/4 cup grass-fed collagen powder (I was also finally able to find Bulletproof brand in the protein supplement section of Whole Foods, this week!)


  • Whisk together eggs, salt, sweetener, and collagen powder
  • Melt coconut oil
  • Mix all other ingredients in with whisked egg mixture, then add the coconut oil as well
  • If using a mini waffle iron, scoop about 1/8-1/4 cup of mixture into waffle iron that has been pre-heated on medium (if there is a temperature control) and let cook for about 5 minutes, but check after 3 minutes
  • Once golden brown, remove with tongs and plate

For the fresh berry compote…


  • 1/2 cup – 1 cup mixed fresh berries of choice (I used blueberries, strawberries, and blackberries because the raspberries at Whole Foods were not organic. Otherwise I think raspberries would have really been perfect)
  • 2 tbsp sugar-free granulated sweetener (I used Lactanto Golden Monk Fruit sweetener, but birch xylitol or erythritol would have worked just as well. Of course if you wanted to use a natural sugar-containing sweetener like coconut sugar, honey, or maple syrup that would also give the right result, just not sugar-free)
  • 1 tsp tapioca starch
  • 2 tbsp orange or lemon juice (optional)


  • Slice strawberries into thin vertical slices
  • Add all berries to sauce pot over medium heat
  • Add granulated sweetener
  • If using citrus fruit juice, add that now as well
  • Allow to cook down for about 5-10 minutes while stirring occasionally
  • Once some liquid has formed in the pot and the berries have begun to soften, add in the tapioca starch and stir well until dissolved
  • Continue to cook mixture for about 3 more minutes until it has thickened
  • Remove from heat and serve over plain buttered waffles or with some Vanilla Get Some Ice Cream like I did!

If you enjoyed my thoughtful and allergen-free creation, you should follow me on Instagram @Experimental_Betty for more things like this!

And, as always, please feel free to drop me a line below with any questions you have 🙂