Photos by Kate Robinson Photography

Happy Monday! We hosted our second Open House panel last week with an amazing group of health and wellness experts. It was fantastic to have a wealth of knowledge all in one place, and we want to share key learnings with those of you who weren’t able to attend or tune in on Instagram Live. Read on below for five major takeaways!

From L to R: Morgan Pruet, Erin O’Leary Stewart, Caroline Knapp, Dr. Elyse Cho, Estela Cockrell

1. You Know Your Body Better Than Anyone

Thanks to the internet and social media, there is an overload of information available on health and wellness trends, including a lot of do’s and don’ts. Juice cleanses, Keto, soy, celery juice, plant-based diets — it’s hard to keep up! We were really interested to learn from our panelists what wellness myths they would like to see busted and what rules of thumb we should be following.

The panelists were aligned on a common belief of trusting your own body and what feels right to you. Be in tune with how certain foods, exercises, wellness routines, etc. make you feel. Do you feel tired or bloated after eating gluten? Does dairy upset your stomach? Does caffeine make you feel anxious? Check in with your body regularly and maybe start a wellness journal.

This practice of self awareness applies to being pregnant as well. While you should of course consult a medical professional about health concerns and best practices while pregnant, it’s important to listen to your body and what feels best for you.

Ultimately, there is not one right path for everyone, so we should listen to our intuition and take what we read on the internet with a grain of salt.

2. Good Anxiety Vs. Bad Anxiety

Anxiety is a word that gets thrown around a lot these days. Many of us are in fast-paced jobs trying to manage work, family, and personal goals, which can feel overwhelming. We asked counselor Morgan Pruet, LPC-I how to determine if we should seek professional help for our anxiety, or if our anxiety is under control.  Morgan explained to the audience that we have good anxiety and bad anxiety. Good anxiety is when our gut instinct kicks in and lets us know if we are in danger, and bad anxiety is when we feel like everyday events are life threatening — for example, a traffic jam, a test, an interview, etc.

There are many types of therapy practices to help with anxiety, one of which is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). CBT is a solution-oriented practice that helps patients get to the root of anxious thoughts and overcome them. If you are struggling with anxiety that is interrupting your daily life and abilities, do some research on which type of therapy would be best for you, and don’t hesitate to confide in your family and close friends. For more advice on mental health and how to talk about it, check out this post.

3.  Clean Products: Where to Start

There is a movement right now to transition away from harmful chemicals that sneak into our everyday products, such as household cleaners, soap, shampoo, makeup, baby products, and the list goes on. The thought of throwing away every single product in our beauty cabinet and switching to all clean products is a bit intimating, so we asked Switch2Pure founder Estela Cockrell which 5 products we should start with:

Deodorant – Normal deodorants are made with aluminum and other harmful chemicals; with your armpits being in such close proximity to your lymphatic system and chest, it’s important to swap your deodorant for a clean brand to help avoid cancer.

Shampoo and Conditioner – Your scalp’s absorption rate is about 4x more than your forearms, meaning your head is taking in a lot of the shampoo and conditioner you use, so opt for a nontoxic brand.

Lipstick – Over your lifetime, you could eat 4+ pounds of lipstick! So make sure you’re choosing a nontoxic brand.

Mascara – Typical mascaras are made with chemicals that can cause your eyelashes to fall out as well as irritations and pain to your eyes.

Lotion / Body Oil – Your skin absorbs chemicals from the products you use, so if you apply a daily lotion or oil over your whole body, make sure it is nontoxic!

4. What Exactly is a Midwife

Having a doula or a midwife is a wellness trend that is on the rise. There are various levels of midwifery certification, but the midwife on our panel Dr. Elyse Cho is a Certified Nurse Midwife, meaning she is a registered nurse who also received a master’s degrees in nurse midwifery. She not only helps with the delivery of babies, but also sees nonpregnant patients for general women’s wellness exams and continues to see patients after they have given birth. Dr. Cho works in tandem with an OBGYN doctor at Women’s Memorial Hermann Memorial City. In other words, you can elect to have a midwife in addition to a doctor. Benefits to having a midwife include personalized guidance throughout your pregnancy and while giving birth. Oftentimes doctors are only in the delivery room briefly, so it’s comforting to have a familiar face to talk you through the process. This is especially appealing to women who have decided to deliver unmedicated, as a midwife can help coach you through breathing and delivery techniques.

5. Food As Medicine

More and more research is showing how much food affects our overall health, and can even have healing properties. We heard from DEFINE foods Founder Erin O’Leary Stewart and Switch2Pure founder Estela Cockrell about their struggles with debilitating food allergies and autoimmune disorders that led them to clean up their diets which completely transformed their lives. Both of their companies are devoted to sharing their personal journeys and learnings with others who may be experiencing their own health struggles that could be cured by eating clean foods and potentially eliminating some (like dairy and gluten). While the panelists fully recognize the importance of traditional medicine, they have also experienced firsthand the healing power that food can have — from curing a common cold to an autoimmune disease.

Do you have any health and wellness follow up questions for our panelists? Leave them in the comments below!