What My Holistic Counseling Practice Is All About

This short video gives a brief introduction to my work as a Certified Holistic Practitioner and my approach to working with clients.

What’s The Deal With Oat Milk? Is It Healthy Or Not?

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Before we get into the nitty gritty behind this explosive new (ish) health trend, let’s begin with this semi-insane fact:

There. Is. Now. An. Oat milk. Finder. Website.

Yes. It’s called Oatfinder. And it’s the brainchild of Oatly, the main oat milk supplier in the country. It helps consumers track down where to purchase this beloved elixir de rigueur, and because of this handy little tool, keeping Oatly stocked is becoming near impossible and causing baristas to break out into a light rash each time they have to tell a customer they’ve run out of oat milk for the day.

Though with a growing number of makers of oat milk – Oatly, Califa Farms, Mooala, Planet Oat, Pacific Foods, Dream, Silk, and Thrive Market (which not only makes its own plant-based drinks but is an online marketplace for their competitor’s products alongside their own)—your options are becoming more abundant by the day.

With demand so high, smaller coffee shops are struggling to keep up. And because of this frenzy, huge outlets like Peet’s Coffee and Starbucks are scrambling to meet the en-masse demand of their voracious customers, as the rate of oat milk production has yet to keep pace with American consumption. Since they still want in on the action, they’re slowly stocking oat milk in as many stores as they can.

Clearly, the public is loving oat milk’s creamy, frothy, non-dairy goodness, as well as its relatively low environmental impact; oat milk is much more eco-friendly than regular dairy milk and requires less water during production than almond milk. But while we’re pouring it into our coffee by the gallon, we have to ask—are all these oaty carbs just turning into sugar and sneakily making us gain weight?

Do we really want the truth?

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What Is Oat Milk, Like Specifically?

Oat milk is a plant-based, dairy-free, milk-alternative made of whole oats and water. The ingredients are so simple that making your own batch is, in theory, “easy”—assuming you’re handy with cheesecloth and have a spare few hours to devote to laboratory-level experiments, which include soaking whole oats in water for anywhere from 30 minutes to overnight, blending them, and pouring the mixture through a very fine colander or cheesecloth to separate the solids from the liquid. From there, you can get creative by adding cinnamon, vanilla extract, or nutmeg. See? So easy! But the reality is, 99.9999% of us will not be doing this “easy” process, and most of us will be purchasing it ready-made. So, are these cartons and cartons of oat milk we’re buying….actually good for us?

Is Oat Milk Healthy? JUST TELL ME.

Annoyingly, the answer depends on how and why you drink oat milk. But to sum it up…it’s fine? Oat milk is probably not going to cure any diseases or help you magically grow abs overnight, but it’s a perfectly good alternative to milk and other non-dairy milks, with its own set of benefits and drawbacks that vary per brand and ingredients.

Here’s the good news; oats are a great source of protein and minerals, and have been linked to a reduced risk of heart disease and lower cholesterol levels. Oats are also extremely high in fiber, which slows down the release of sugar into the bloodstream, making Oat Milk a healthy alternative for those with diabetes.

If you’re simply looking for a milk-alternative to splash into your morning coffee that’s vegan, soy-free, and nut-free, then you may not care how many vitamins, nutrients, or calories are crammed into a few ounces of oat milk. If you want to reap the benefits of the wholesomeness of the oats, then you can make your own at home, and not worry about any additives or flavorings.

But if your morning alt-milk latte is one of your favorite sources of vitamins and nutrients, then surprisingly, store-bought is your best bet as oat milk manufacturers like Oatly add vitamins A, B12, and D2, calcium, and riboflavin.

If you want to lose weight or just maintain a healthy weight, oat milk won’t exactly make you pack on the pounds, but it’s also not the most slimming alt-milk. Oat milk has slightly more carbs, fats, and calories than alternative milks like almond milk, and a similar nutritional profile to coconut milk. But since carbohydrates get broken down into sugar, you’re not getting a completely sugar-free drink.

Even though the sugar in unsweetened oat milk is naturally occurring (don’t even get us started on the sugar-bomb flavored varieties), we all know how too much sugar can lead to weight gain. So, if you’re trying to cut out carbs and lose weight, unsweetened almond milk still might be your best bet.

Carbs aren’t fully the axis of evil, though; the carbs in oat milk will break down into glucose and turned into energy. Once glucose is formed, the body can use the glucose for energy or turn it into glycogen, a substance found in the liver and muscles. And if there’s still more left over, which means you’ve taken in more carbs than you can burn, it gets converted to fat.

So just like anything with naturally occurring carbs, fats, and sugars, you don’t want to overdo it.

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So, What’s Up With All The Oil?

Though oat milk seems like it would be made of a perfect combination of only the most gorgeously filtered water on the planet and the healthiest organic oats in existence, the second ingredient in most store-bought Oat Milk is oil, usually canola/rapeseed or sunflower.

Oil is a common additive in oat milk that increases nutritional fats and improves the texture. Unfortunately, this is what makes Oat Milk so rich and highly frothable (and therefore, delicious). As baristas worldwide will attest to, almond milk has fallen out of favor because unlike oat milk, almond milk is too thin for a good foam, making latte art so difficult and so deeply uninstagrammable.

Canola oil, also known as culinary rapeseed oil (as opposed to industrial rapeseed oil; and why, god, why the name rapeseed?) is actually a pretty good source of vitamin E, is low in saturated fat (the bad fat) and is high in mono- and polyunsaturated fat (the good fats).

The bad news? Rapeseed oil, which canola oil derives from, is typically high in erucic acid, which in the 1970s was linked to heart problems. In the U.S., for an oil to be classified as “canola,” and not “rapeseed,” no more than 2% of its fatty acid profile can come from erucic acid (so canola oil should have less of the stuff linked to heart problems). In other parts of the world though, these oil names are used interchangeably, and both can be found in oat milk. Meaning sometimes, you might be getting the healthier “canola” oil, and other times, you’ll be getting the less-healthy “rapeseed.”

Oatly claims to use only non-GMO canola oil, which is arguably better than traditional rapeseed oil. Unfortunately, whether either of these oils will have negative, long-term effects on your health is still up for debate.

If this science-y discussion of canola oil, rapeseed oil, and erucic acid (which are all very unpleasant words) is turning you off your oat milk habit for good, don’t fret—it’s possible to find plenty of oat milk labels with just oats and water (and sometimes salt, too). Like this one from Trader Joe’s—hallelujah!

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Is Oat Milk Allergen-Free?

If you have a tree nut allergy, then the last few years of nut milk has probably been a frustrating time for you. Since allergies are a huge nightmare to live with, we’re thrilled to report that oat milk isn’t associated with any of the major allergens. Those allergic to dairy or lactose are obviously in the clear. Oat Milk is safe for basically everyone, as allergic reactions to oats are rare. In the event of an allergic reaction, however, it is commonly because of a protein found in oats called avenin.

What about gluten, though? For those with celiac disease, oats do not typically contain gluten. But since other gluten products can occasionally contaminate oats if they are processed in the same factory, you’ll probably want to double check to make sure the oat milk carton is labeled as “gluten-free” or “no gluten.”

Where’s The Oat Milk Trend Heading? 

For the near future, the answer to that question is up.

Sales for traditional dairy products are declining, while alternative milk choices are on the uptick. Between 2015 and 2018, American consumers spent $4.13 billion less on milk, while the dairy-alternative beverage businesses steadily rose. In fact, at the beginning of 2019, their sales reached $1.7 billion. It will be interesting to see what happens because although Almond Milk is lower in calories, carbs, and fat, it looks like it may get left in Oat Milk’s dust.

Our fave, and in fact The Best Oat Milk for your casual, “in the home” Oat Milk– one that tastes great in a simple iced coffee with no sugar, no added oil, and which froths up nicely in coffee and matcha lattes– is Planet Oat Original Unsweetened. Most coffee shops use Oatly “barista” blend, or Califa Farms, both of which are SO creamy and SO delicious, we feel wildly suspicious about their health benefits, and instead, choose to view these treats like an ice cream cone.

Or, as we say to our kids, a sometimes food.

[Article first published by The Candidly.]

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Tamara Jefferies MA is a freelance wellness writer and holistic counselor/coach based in Long Beach, CA. She has worked in the wellness field since 2005 and holds a Master’s in Somatic Psychology from John F. Kennedy University, several certifications in the specialization of trauma and trauma resolution, and is a certified yoga teacher and holistic practitioner offering transformational counseling to women.

Writing on topics that help women heal, grow, and live fulfilled and happy lives is her passion as is writing for wellness businesses, publications, and brands. She is a regular contributing writer to the wellness brand, The Candidly, and a Brand Ambassador to ADORAtherapy.

Contact her at info@growandthrivewellness.com for all your wellness writing or counseling needs.

Or just fill out the form below.

Be Well!

4 Super Easy Stretches To Help With Your COVID-19-Related Stress and Anxiety

(Article first published on The Candidly.)

Being cooped up in the house with few outlets for our stress and anxiety has us all on edge. We’re constantly learning how to balance productively working from home with educating our children with maintaining our relationships. It’s a lot. And with gyms and yoga studios closed because of the quarantine, our fitness routines have been totally thrown off schedule.

Add in our constantly terrifying news cycle, and you’ve got a recipe for frazzled nerves, stiff necks and shoulders, and tension headaches. Now, more than ever, managing stress is necessary to keep our immune systems functioning properly.

And while exercise, taking a walk, and limiting your news intake are just a few things you can do to stay sane right now, here’s another: stretch.

Yes, really.

Stretching might seem like a simple, semi-useless task we only ever seriously consider before or after working out. But stretching can do more than just prevent an exercise-induced muscle pull. It can actually be soothing. Think of that breath you take when coming out of a deep stretch—doesn’t it kind of feel like the first good breath you’ve taken in years (or months? weeks? How long has this thing been going on for now? Is time just an endless abyss?).

So here are four super easy stretches you can do right now, no equipment needed. You don’t even have to change out of your pajamas.

1. Seated, Forward Extension

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This stretch can be done seated with legs crossed or kneeling while sitting on your heels (if sitting cross-legged is uncomfortable). Once seated comfortably, take a deep breath in as you place your hands on the floor in front of you and slowly “walk” your fingertips away from your body as far as you can.

Not everyone can go all the way down to the floor, as in the photo, and that’s fine. Find your limit and stop there, taking long deep breaths. Let your head drop, relaxing your neck. After a few breaths, see if you can walk your fingertips a little further. Grip the floor with your fingers and feel the stretch down the sides of arms and the length of your back down to your hips.

Now, remaining low to the ground, walk your fingers to the left, leaning your torso to your left side. Go as far as you can to the left, then stop and breathe long and deep. Repeat on the other side.

Finally, with your torso still low, walk your hands back to the center and then slowly walk them back towards your body until you are again sitting upright. Take a deep breath. Exhale.

2. Seated, Spinal Twist

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To transition from sitting cross-legged or kneeling, stretch your legs out in front of you then bend your right leg in a sort of half-butterfly stretch, so that the outside of your leg rests on the ground, your knee is pointed outwards, and your foot is near the left inner thigh. Then bend your left leg so that the knee is pointing up at the ceiling and the bottom of the foot is flat on the floor. Scoot your right leg inwards, so that your right foot (still resting on the floor) is underneath the left knee, and then lift your left foot off the floor, take hold of the ankle, and bring your left foot to rest just outside of your right thigh. I know—that sounded incredibly complicated, but just try to mimic the leg placement in the photo above, if that’s easier.

Take a deep breath in and extend both arms up overhead. Exhale as you turn your torso to the left, bringing your right arm to rest in the space between your left knee and chest. You can bend the elbow (as pictured) or keep the arm straight.

Twist your torso completely and bring your left hand to the floor behind you. Look over your shoulder as far as is comfortable for your eyes and hold the posture. With each exhale, see if you can twist just a bit further.

To come out of the twist, slowly bring your head around first, then unwind the rest of your body. Shake out your legs and transition to the other side.

3. Seated, 1 Leg-Extended, Side Stretch

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Sit with your legs extended in front of you then open them as wide as is comfortable. When you feel a stretch in the groin, stop. Take a bend in your right knee and bring your foot to the inside of your left thigh.

Stretch both arms up overhead as you inhale, then exhale and bend at your hip toward your left leg. Stretch the left arm as far as it can go. If you can grab your toes, great. If not, no problem. Just let your hand rest on your shin. Stretch your right arm up and over your head as far as you can, extending your fingers toward your left foot until you feel the stretch along the side of your body down to your hip.

If you want to deepen the stretch, extend all the way over until you can grab your toes with your right hand. Believe me, it can be done. And if it doesn’t happen today, know that in time, with practice, your flexibility can increase and it can happen.

4. Forward-Fold

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This has to be the most beautiful and unsung hero of stretches. Simply stand up with your feet parallel to each other, hip-width apart, or with big toes touching, heels slightly apart, extend the arms overhead, take a deep breath in, and exhale as you bend forward at the hips, letting your torso come down and allowing your head to hang toward the floor. Breathe long deep breaths and hang out like a rag-doll. Alternatively, you can bend your arms and grab hold of opposite elbows and gently sway from side-to-side.

To experience different intensities of the stretch, gently shift your weight from your heels to the balls of your feet and back again. What I love about this stretch is how gravity helps you and the longer you stay in it the further down you can bend with the eventuality being that your forehead can touch your knees.

For those of you that just muttered ‘Yeah right,’ under your breath, I understand. Some of us have incredibly tight hamstrings that will forbid us from ever reaching the floor. Not a problem. You still get the benefit of the stretch just by allowing your body to hang and extending your fingers towards your toes. If you’d like to feel greater support during the stretch, do it while standing with your back to a wall and let the wall support you.

When you’re ready to come out of the stretch, do it slowly, slowly, slowly, rising up one vertebra at a time, with your head coming up last. If you rise too quickly, you’re likely to get a headrush and feel dizzy. Take a deep breath and feel the difference in your body.

Really savor each stretch. Take as much time as you can; I recommend staying in each stretch for a minimum of three breaths, which is what really works wonders on your stress and anxiety levels.  You’ll feel renewed and refreshed afterward. And maybe you’ll even feel motivated enough to change out of your pajamas.

But, no pressure.

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Tamara Jefferies MA, is a freelance wellness writer and holistic counselor/coach based in Long Beach, CA. She has worked in the wellness field since 2005 and holds a Master’s in Somatic Psychology from John F. Kennedy University, several certifications in the specialization of trauma and trauma resolution, and is a certified yoga teacher and holistic practitioner offering transformational counseling to women.

Writing on topics that help women heal, grow, and live fulfilled and happy lives is her passion as is writing for wellness businesses, publications, and brands. She is a regular contributing writer to the wellness brand, The Candidly and a Brand Ambassador to ADORAtherapy.

Contact her at info@growandthrivewellness.com for all your wellness writing or counseling needs.

Or just fill out the form below.

Be Well!

What do Wellness Writing and Holistic Counseling have in Common?

Answer: Me!

Hi, and thanks so much for visiting my site!

I’m Tamara, a wellness writer and certified holistic practitioner.

Who is this site for, you ask?

1. Wellness Professionals, Marketing Directors, and Editors

Are you a wellness professional interested in increasing your client-load and/or building relationships with new and existing clients? Could you use the specialized perspective of a fellow wellness professional who understands the mindset of those seeking your services?

OR

Are you heading up the marketing efforts of a healthcare or wellness industry brand and have deadlines staring you down, a staff that is already spread thin, and no bandwidth to take on one more writing project?

Whether you are a wellness professional in private practice, a marketing director, or an editor of a wellness brand, I can help you in creating relevant, engaging, and convincing content that increases engagement and converts leads into sales.

If you’re looking for someone who understands the importance of well-researched SEO optimized content, meeting deadlines, speed, and accuracy all the while delivering materials in your unique voice, contact me today for a free 30-minute consultation.

I’m here for your website content, landing pages, newsletters, email marketing, blogs, and article writing needs.

Let’s talk!

2. Women Seeking the Support of a Counselor or Coach

Transform Yourself from the inside out, even if counseling and therapy failed you in the past.

  • Work through the negative thoughts and move around the drama that has you stuck
  • Calms your fears and get back on track to navigate through anxiety to a better, more joyful place
  • Get past internal conflicts and see that you are a good, worthy person who deserves a life of joy and happiness
  • Peel away layers of old habits and learn new life skills and behavior modification techniques
  • Learn to love yourself and to forgive others

My heart has broken many times, as I sat with a woman in session and listened to how she spoke of herself; the precise words she used, all revealed the layers of low self-worth and even self-loathing.

My commitment is in helping you to see yourself and the wisdom, power, and joy that you hold within you.

Living with depression and anxiety can make those things feel distant. I can help you reclaim them and start living the life you want.

3. Readers Interested in Health and Wellness

I don’t think anyone would argue with me if I said that most of us want to live well and be well. That’s a given. The question is, ‘How?’ There is so much information out there, it’s easy to be overwhelmed.

That’s why I created a space to share wellness pieces that don’t get lost in the clutter and noise.

I’m here to share all things wellness that will help you grow and thrive!

 

Thanks again for visiting my site!

If you’re interested in my services, just fill out the form below, and I’ll do my best to get back to you within 24 hours.

HelloWellness – October’s Featured Wellness Biz

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About two weeks ago, I received an invitation via LinkedIn to a fundraiser benefiting the National Breast Cancer Foundation. That is how I first came to know of the very cool and relatively new wellness business HelloWellness.

HelloWellness, founded in 2017, hosted the Charity Fitness Festival LA this past Saturday. And on the same day, on the other side of the country, they also hosted a similar charity event in Manhattan.

The faces behind these fantastic events belong to Sarah Casden and Jenna Sands, two friends who saw a need to move influencers, brand sponsors, and their audiences out of the virtual world and into actual spaces where real connections can happen. So they started a business that creates wellness events in L.A., Boston, Chicago, and N.Y.–part social, part educational, all wellness.

The L.A. event was in the ultra-hip West-Hollywood hotel Andaz. From 10 am to 2 pm, in a spacious hall with floor to ceiling windows, people stretched, planked, and sweat on all-natural cork yoga mats provided by event sponsor, Corc Yoga.

There were 20-minute workouts throughout the day that were legit ass-kickers. After doing just one, my legs were shaking and my arms were like, ‘Okay, that’s enough.’

Right outside the event, you could enjoy the hotel’s rooftop pool, bar, and cabanas if you were so inclined. Grabbing an afternoon cocktail at a fitness event didn’t feel quite right, so I abstained. But any other day, I’d say that the rooftop bar is a winner.

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It was a great turn-out for the event – mostly millennials with a few Gen Xers (like myself) and a bit older thrown in the mix. Around the perimeter of the room, people took advantage of the HelloWellness Selfie Wall, organic juice samples, massage therapy, and spray tan stations.

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At some point, I introduced myself to the event manager, Alysia Pope, a bright, friendly, and quite fit young woman. She filled me in on upcoming events in the L.A. area which include a yoga session, a smoothie demo, and Q&A happening in November.

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That would be Alysia, Director of Events, in the pink.

Past events include topics such as, Financial Wellness; Sex, Sleep, and CBD; Love your gut: all things gut health; and The greatest wealth is mental health.

According to the founders, the idea behind HelloWellness is to build community and foster inclusivity.

After attending the event, I will say that they are living their mission.