Where did the name Downshiftology come from?

In the early stage of my wellness journey (about a year before I started this blog) I was visiting doctors left, right and center. And before every doctor visit I’d research and study all there was to know about that physician’s specialty. I learned about gastroenterology, endocrinology, neurology, dermatology, pathology and so on. A lot of “ologies.”

But what benefited me the most (after going gluten-free) was something quite simple. Slowing the heck down! Reducing stress, getting good sleep, eating simple, fresh food and prioritizing a little self-care love. Essentially, downshifting my life. So I thought, why not come up with a new “ology?” One that everybody can study, practice and leverage for a happier, healthier life. Thus, Downshiftology was born.

Today, as this blog has grown, it’s morphed into so much more: food + travel + lifestyle + wellness.

What autoimmune diseases do you have?

I have been diagnosed with four autoimmune diseases – Celiac, Hashimotos, Psoriasis and Endometriosis.

What type of diet do you eat?

After much trial and error, I’ve found that the best diet for me is one that’s veggie heavy, prioritizes good quality proteins (from both animal and plant sources) and includes healthy fats and carbs. It’s a whole food approach. As a Celiac, I’m always 100% gluten-free, but I also feel better when limiting refined sugars and certain grains.

The big “take away” is that no one diet suits everybody. We all have unique genes, immune systems and microbiomes (gut bacteria). So what works wonders for me may not work for you. That’s why I’m a huge proponent of listening to your body, working with your doctor and nutritionist, and making food modifications based on what makes you feel your absolute best!

You can read more about my approach to food and lifestyle on my philosophy page.

The recipes listed on my website are healthy, wholesome and naturally gluten-free. But I also believe in balance and life enjoyment, especially when traveling. Because, well, gelato.

Do you have a cookbook?

I sure do! I spent three years developing and testing recipes for my Healthy Meal Prep cookbook. So I was thrilled when it became a national bestseller! Seeing Downshifter’s (what we call our lovely community) photos from around the world whipping up my cookbook recipes in their own kitchens has been a true delight.

How do you eat when you travel?

Great question! For those with autoimmune diseases, particularly Celiac, I’m not gonna lie – traveling does add a level of complexity. But let’s think for a second what the alternative is? To not travel? To stay at home and never venture out? Oh, no. That’s simply not an option for me.

It’s in my blood to explore. To experience new cultures, see amazing sights and meet amazing people. And above all else, traveling is how I combine so many of the things that make me happy – food, physical activity, nature and adventure.

That’s why I’ve written the ebook Roaming Free: A Whole Food Approach to Traveling the World Healthy, Happy and Gluten-Free.

Do your autoimmune symptoms flare when traveling?

No, quite the opposite. When I’m on vacation my autoimmune symptoms are always at their lowest levels. Another reason that travel is my “happy place.” When you’re happy, calm, well rested and loving life your immune system often retreats from it’s “heightened alert” status and functions optimally. I’ve heard similar stories from friends with autoimmune issues and studies confirm this. Escaping the stressors of daily life and seeking a change in scenery can have a profound and positive impact on your wellness.

Can I substitute ingredients in your recipes?

Of course – I’m all for experimenting in the kitchen and you should definitely swap out any ingredients that don’t fit your dietary habits. But do keep in mind that I’ve spent long hours developing and testing my recipes with the ingredients listed. So if you want to substitute certain ingredients, give it a go! I can’t guarantee the same results, but I’ll keep my fingers crossed for you.

Is gluten (and/or dairy, sugar, grains, etc) bad for everyone?

I believe strongly in the concept of bioindividuality – that means that we’re all different based on our genes, microbiome (gut bacteria), lifestyle, ancestry, environment, and more. There is no “one size fits all” diet. If there was, someone would be making a heck of a lot of money (and doctors would finally agree on what’s healthy).

I do believe that conventional wheat, as it’s currently produced and harvested with herbicides like glyphosate, is generally not healthy (whether you’re celiac or not). Organic, grass-fed dairy may be tolerated by some – and it’s something that I have small amounts of. Grains, especially organic, ancient grains may be tolerated more broadly, assuming you have great gut health. I do eat white rice, buckwheat (which is not wheat) and gluten-free oats on occasion. But if you’ve had a leaky gut, autoimmune issues, etc…you may find that certain grains are difficult to digest and/or trigger symptoms. Again, it’s very individual. I always recommend working with your doctor and nutritionist.

What kitchen tools do you recommend for someone just starting a healthy diet?

I love my kitchen appliances, gadgets and tools. Yes, some of these are an investment, but so is your health, right? Remember that adopting a real foods diet is the most important thing. From there, you can invest in quality tools as you become more comfortable in your kitchen.

These are the kitchen tools I use most frequently:

  • Vitamix (for smoothies, soups, raw cheesecake and more!)
  • Food Processor (for chopping nuts, pureeing fruits, making cauliflower rice and more!)
  • Spiralizer (for zucchini noodles, carrot noodles, sweet potatoes and more!)
  • Slow Cooker (for stews, rotisserie chicken, pulled pork and more! )
  • Mandoline (for sweet potato “toast,” veggie slices, tomato slices and more!)
  • Stand Mixer (for making dough, desserts, cakes and more!)

You can find a complete list of the kitchen tools, gadgets, and cookware I use on the Shop page on my website.

I also have a YouTube channel with tons of videos that show not only how to use these tools, but also how to cook a variety of my favorite and most popular recipes. So make sure to subscribe!