Welcome to Episode 5 of Season 4 of The PCOS Revolution Podcast
Kitchen Therapy With Food Blogger Kate Kordsmeier
In this episode, you’ll discover:
- How Kate healed her IBS, thyroid and PCOS symptoms with whole food recipes and simple lifestyle changes
- What being an international food writer taught her about moderation in living with PCOS
- Her 4-year plan for prepping for pregnancy after coming off birth control
- Kate’s favorite chemical-free skin product recommendations
To learn more about the PCOS Revolution Academy, click here!
Farrar Duro 0:01
Hi, I’m Farrar Duro and you’re listening to the PCOS Revolution podcast.
Well hello everyone and welcome back to the PCOS Revolution podcast. I’m here today with Kate Kordsmeier, she’s the founder of Root and Rebel which is a blog that she writes from her home in Atlanta, Georgia and she actually has PCOS herself. She is a food writer as well so I think that coming from her unique perspective she’s going to talk about some of the challenges she’s run into, she’s also a new mom and she is going to actually explain a little bit about how she’s addressed her PCOS throughout the years and what’s been really helpful for her. So, welcome Kate. Good to have you.
Kate Kordsmeier 0:48
Thank you. I’m so excited to be here.
Farrar Duro 0:51
We’ve been wanting to get you on for a while, so I’m glad that you’re here. Would you tell our audience a little bit about what’s been your involvement with your blog, and you know as far as it relates to PCOS and what made you want to write about it?
Kate Kordsmeier 1:05
Yeah, absolutely. So I was diagnosed with PCOS back in 2014 and I tried a few different ways to manage it more on the conventional side of things and nothing was really working and I was very frustrated and I read this book called woman code that was totally life changing for me and really helped me understand what PCOS really meant and what was happening in my body. That led me to searching for functional medicine practitioner who is familiar with PCOS and so I worked with her to kind of essentially heal my body of PCOS, reverse it naturally through holistic remedies and diet, getting rid of prescription medication and some of the other more conventional techniques that that have a lot of dangerous side effects. And so once I saw the transformation in my own body from these holistic remedies, I was just so amazed and blown away. And I felt like I needed to share this with the world and that if I was struggling with this, I’m sure other women were too so I started Root and Rebel to kind of share what I had learned and empower other women to heal their bodies naturally as well.
Farrar Duro 2:25
Your blog is amazing, you’ve worked with all kinds of magazines and newspapers such as the USA today, Cooking Light, Eating Well, and Travel Leisure. How has this been a shift for you as far as what you did before prior to getting diagnosed with PCOS and then now that you know kind of the right steps to take?
Kate Kordsmeier 2:49
Yeah, I was a restaurant reporter for national magazines for about eight years before I started Root and Rebel. It was literally my job to go travel the world and report back on the most delicious food. It was amazing, fun and I had a lot of great opportunities; but, ultimately it really was not good for my health and specifically for my PCOS. I slowly transitioned out of that career as I was working on Root and Rebel and growing blog until eventually I was able to make the blog my full time job and replace what my income as a journalist was, and then some and I’ve been doing the blog now full time for a couple years and I no longer freelance for those publications, but it was it was definitely a huge part of my life and it was a difficult transition of course, as any big career changes are. I’m really glad that I I made the switch
Farrar Duro 3:58
Did you know when you are traveling to all of these exotic locations and eating in restaurants that you had PCOS or was it difficult for you to maintain your weight with all the travel and all of that?
Kate Kordsmeier 4:11
It varied because I didn’t know that I had PCOS until 2014 and I had started doing this job back in 2008 so it was a long time of knowing that something was off but not knowing what it was exactly and a lot of that time I was on prescription hormonal birth control pills . A lot of my symptoms were kind of masked and it was impossible to figure out what was going on because my hormone levels were being synthetically altered and it was creating this just big mess. It wasn’t really until I came off the pill that I was able to connect the dots and see that, that lifestyle was not conducive to being healthy and managing my PCOS.
Farrar Duro 5:06
Right, I think that starts with that when you come off birth control, you realize like, no, this is how it is. You also had leaky gut syndrome as well, you were diagnosed with along with hypothyroidism. So that must have been difficult to being a food writer with IBS.
Kate Kordsmeier 5:30
Yes, exactly. There were many months in the beginning that I was really just down about it and like, what am I going to do? I loved my job and I didn’t want to have to make a change. I really worried like, how am I going to be able to do this, but there were also a lot of other things going on, both in my professional and personal life aside from my health that made it easier to make the switch and I was fortunate in that I’ve always been freelance and an independent consultant basically. So I set my own schedule and made my own hours and that kind of thing. It wasn’t like I had to stop 100% and make a complete career shift. I really transitioned slowly over the course of like a year and half where I was taking less freelance jobs and working more on the blog. Then like I said before, as the blog continued to grow, and I was really enjoying being in that space and helping other women with their PCOS and feeling much more myself, much more satisfied doing that kind of work so much more fulfilling for me than writing about restaurants. So that made it a lot easier and I slowly transitioned out of that job. I was lucky in that I was able to make that transition slowly and at the pace that worked best for me.
Farrar Duro 7:01
Now you recently had a baby, and I wondered about if you could share because you have something in your blog that said that you actually were able to conceive trying first time. Could you share a little bit about that experience and what made it so much easier for you than than it is for most women with PCOS?
Kate Kordsmeier 7:22
Yeah, it was something that I had worried about forever, I think even before I knew I had PCOS. I just know that so many women struggle with fertility and so I was always kind of scared. What if I do? Then especially after I was diagnosed with PCOS, and a lot of conventional doctors were telling me, “Yeah, you’re probably not going to be able to get pregnant, if you do, it’s going to take a long time, it’s going to be a really hard road.” I was just really anxious about it for years, but I went off the pill in 2014 and that was not to get pregnant, it was really more to see what my body would do naturally and get rid of synthetic hormones and try to heal the root cause. After I worked on doing that for a few years and at the end of 2017, my husband and I decided that we would try to get pregnant in the new year. It just so happened that the way that my cycle fell, I was ovulating right around Christmas. We were kind of doing that like trying but not trying thing like if it happens, we’ll see, but our plan was really to start in January to start officially trying. By January 11, I had a positive pregnancy test and I was amazed that it happened so easily and I 100% attribute it to all of the things I did over the previous years to regulate my hormones and just get my body into the healthiest place.
Farrar Duro 8:58
That’s awesome. I think that it’s so great when that happens. I know if you ever had problems with your cycles sinking up or you know, irregular cycles or anything like that, but a lot of times when we start to focus on foods that are healthy for us and getting an exercise routine going, supplements going and things that you did, I think, that really does go a long way. It’s not overnight but you weren’t trying to get pregnant overnight either.
Kate Kordsmeier 9:31
Yeah. And I’m so glad that I started working on it before I was ready to get pregnant because I can’t imagine. It’s so stressful just trying to get pregnant even if you’re perfectly healthy, if I was also trying to heal my body at that same time. It did take a while for me to get into a place where my cycles were regular and I was symptom free, I wasn’t having hormonal issues anymore. If I was trying to do that all at the same time as I was desperate to have a baby, I mean, I can just see it would be so stressful. It’s just that vicious cycle where stress impacts fertility. I just think I’m really, really glad and feel very lucky that I came into learning about PCOS when I did and was able to get my body into a place that was ready before I was really ready. So that when I was ready, it happened really quickly.
Farrar Duro 10:26
That’s awesome. So it took about three years, or you basically waited about three years unit you were off of birth control to actually start thinking about trying.
Kate Kordsmeier 10:37
I would say I was actually more like four years off birth control like beginning of 2014 and then got pregnant, the very end of 2017.
Farrar Duro 10:55
Could you give us a little bit of a picture of what your cycles looked like when you got off birth control?
Kate Kordsmeier 11:00
Oh, they were awful. It took me I think three months just to get my first cycle back after going off the pill, and I’ve been on the pill since I was 16. So it was a long time of having all of these synthetic hormones in my system. So I finally got my first period about two or three months after I went off the pill. And then from there for the next year, almost. It was very irregular, I would get it every 60 days every 75 days. It was like there was no rhyme or reason to it, and it was so frustrating just trying to get my cycles to regulate but eventually they did. I would say it took probably two years to get to a place where it was really regular. Then from there it was like my cycles were probably a little bit longer than most women’s like or the 28 day average that people talk about. I had cycles more like every 32 days but they were consistently every 32 days for about two years before I got pregnant.
Farrar Duro 12:15
That’s awesome. So that was without medications, in other words, no Metformin or anything, just diet, exercise, and supplements.
Kate Kordsmeier 12:25
Absolutely no prescription medications whatsoever. The only pills that I took were supplements and just changing my diet, my exercise and then detoxing the products that I used as well.
Farrar Duro 12:40
So let’s talk a little bit about your skincare routine because I’m curious to know you mentioned it in your blog to about basically like a detoxification of household products and beauty products that we have. We had actually a patient the other day asked you know what line of products would you recommend? That’s natural, so if you have any suggestions at all for for someone who wants to reduce toxic exposure? I know there’s there’s a lot of great brands out there that are more on the natural lines but sometimes it’s hard to pick one. So if you’ve had success with certain products, can you let us know what those are?
Kate Kordsmeier 13:21
Yeah, absolutely. There’s three lines that really stand out to me. Just in case anybody doesn’t know, I feel like I should preface it by saying that a lot of the products that we use on our skin, just personal care products, shampoo, body wash, makeup, skincare, all of that, they contain endocrine disruptors and fake estrogens and other harmful chemicals that can mimic estrogen body causing hormonal imbalances and leading to things like infertility. So it was really important to me especially because I was estrogen dominant to switch out the personal care products I was using to something that didn’t contain those harmful things and that helped me balance my hormones. The three lines that really stood out to me, the first is Beauty Counter and they are just an amazing company. They do incredible things with advocacy in regulating ingredient laws and things for the beauty industry. It’s a company I’m really proud I’m actually a consultant with them and and really proud to be a part of them, it’s such a incredible movement and they make awesome skincare and makeup and also they make my all time favorite sunscreen. They have a lot of different products but they are one of my favorites and they’re all very clean, non toxic, they don’t have any of those estrogens and endocrine disrupting chemicals, so love beauty counter. The second line is True Botanicals and they are little bit more expensive but they have a few different types for it based on your skin type but they have a clear line that’s for acne prone skin which I really struggled with acne especially on my cheeks and chin when my PCOS was really flaring up and their skincare line just completely transformed my skin, it was one of the few things that really worked so I love True Botanicals. The third one that is newer to me I just been using it within the last six months or so is Leahlani Skincare which is out of Hawaii and they make all of their products. They smell incredible but because of natural ingredients not because of artificial fragrance and they have a lot of really good hydrating, brightening and exfoliating products that I just loved using. They are such a treat.
Farrar Duro 16:03
Nice, I will provide the links to those in our show notes because we hadn’t really talked about skin that much I noticed this last past year on the podcast and it was something that I wanted to get into but since you mentioned it in your blog I thought we could bring it up and I am familiar definitely the Beauty Counter and I like their products. I’m gonna have to check out those other two because it sounds amazing. I just stuck to coconut oil for my moisturizer for body moisturizer anyway but for skincare and makeup line so always difficult sometimes to find like good sensitive sunscreen and that sort of thing that’s non toxic.
Kate Kordsmeier 16:38
Yeah it is especially hard to find products that really work because that’s the thing that I’m not willing to compromise. Just because a product is maybe crunchy or you know, it’s it’s lacking those ingredients, but is it actually effective? All three of those lines that I mentioned are really high performing, they are the same kind of quality you would get from like a Sephora type product they don’t feel like they’re you know too hippy dippy or anything. For me, I was addicted to Sephora and they’ve started coming out with some new lines that are more green and clean and that’s great but I really kind of moved away from shopping with them and now I’m pretty exclusive to Beauty Counter for makeup, and I like that the quality kind of matches like what you’re used to from those more higher end lines.
Farrar Duro 17:37
Very nice. The same with your cleaning products. Do you have any specific ones that you like? Do you like to make your own or what’s the best that you’ve seen as far as cleaning life?
Kate Kordsmeier 17:48
Yeah, great question. Cleaning products are another one that’s just amazing. These things I find that medicine and cleaning products are some of the most toxic products that we use and you would think it would be the opposite, that they’re there to make things better, healthier, and it’s crazy what is allowed to be put in them. I actually have a post on my website that’s called, My Current Green Cleaning Routine. I also have one that’s my Current Green Beauty Routine. Those are both great resources to check out what I’m currently using and loving. I do make a lot of my own cleaning products. So we have a ton of DIY recipes on blog. In terms of brands that if you aren’t into DIY and you want to buy something, I’m always trying out different different lines. One line that I’m trying right now is called Supernatural and it is one of these products that they send you these concentrates and you add them to water in a cleaning bottle and they smell so good, they’re all like essential oils and non toxic ingredients so there’s no bleach or ammonia. It’s really just gross what’s in their conventional products so I use those a lot. I also really like this company called Grove, they also do the concentrate option which I really like and they’ve got some clean products that I use a lot and then Better Life. I just buy these on Amazon and Better Life makes marble countertop spray so I use that in my kitchen and I also have some their bathroom cleaner and some other things like that. So yeah, those are kind of the three brands that I’m loving right now.
Farrar Duro 19:59
Definitely. I’ve played around with Doterra Purify essential oil, which you can make as a cleaner and also diffuse it and it’s just very versatile. I have been using that a little bit in spray bottles or sometimes just vinegar.
Kate Kordsmeier 20:14
Yeah, DIY recipes are just some vinegar and essential oils. You don’t need much. It’s kind of amazing when you realize what cleaning power things like vinegar and baking soda have. Even things like I use a dusting spray that I make is just olive oil and vinegar and it’s like salad dressing but it works super well on wood surfaces and like as a furniture polish. Really you can make so many of your own cleaning products just with things you have in your pantry well.
Farrar Duro 20:55
Definitely, we will have to go check that out on your blog. We will link to those and as far as getting back to diet, I think that you were speaking a little bit before the interview. We talked about how you really focused on an anti inflammatory diet, not so much a Ketogenic or specific paleo plan. How did you find that particular diet work for you and what the diet really consists of usually.
Kate Kordsmeier 21:29
Yeah so when I started going to this functional medicine doctor, she’s the one who recommended that I follow an anti-inflammatory diet and she was very careful to say, it’s not a diet in the traditional sense. It’s not keto or paleo or something like that. It’s really just sort of a general way of eating and it’s not super restrictive, which I think was really important for me because especially at the time I was still a food writer. It was like I can’t do some diet that’s going to cut out major food groups and I wouldn’t be able to do my job. I started reading this book called, Clean Cuisine by Ivy Larson and she was also another game changer for me. and really helps me understand what inflammation in the body is how it affects things like our hormones or digestion and why it’s important to eat more anti inflammatory foods and less pro inflammatory foods. So I would say the main takeaway and how I really tried to eat in my life is exactly that more good, less bad. I don’t cut out foods necessarily. I mean, of course, if you have an allergy or sensitivity that’s a different story. But if you don’t, and you’re like me, and you’re just trying to keep your hormones balanced and eat healthy and reduce inflammation, then I focused on getting the good into my diet, and I worry less about cutting out the bad, which happens naturally when you’re eating more good anyway. There’s just basically like the anti inflammatory foods that I just try to incorporate in every meal. When I do that, I feel my best.
Farrar Duro 23:21
Could you give us some examples of your favorite anti inflammatory foods?
Kate Kordsmeier 23:26
Yes. So I mean, the obvious starting places, fruits and vegetables, and it’s not the sexiest answer or what seems like oh, it’s the big secret but it truly is the number one thing eating a nutrient dense diet. I always say like eat the rainbow eat your colors. I try to get at least one if not two servings of fruits or vegetables in every meal so that makes it really easy to still eat delicious food but making sure you get all of your nutrients. A lot of women with PCOS have nutrient deficiencies. I know, personally, I was really low in vitamin D. Getting those nutrients is more important in my opinion than cutting out other foods. I start there. I really incorporate healthy fats into as many meals as I can as well. So lots of avocados, olive oil, nuts and seeds, salmon, things like that. I tried to get as many like fiber rich whole grains as I can. Grains are kind of a hot button issue of course, but for me eating things like non flower grains, especially things like quinoa, rice and those kinds of things that are naturally gluten free and really fiber rich has been important for me as well.
Farrar Duro 25:15
Restricted carbs can make you feel really tired so I know that there are lots of people who have a lot of success with low carb diets and keto but we try to say let’s focus on sustainability, focus on something you can do for life because PCOS doesn’t go away. The symptoms definitely go away but they can come back if you go off eating anti inflammatory foods, stop exercising, you’re not doing your supplements as well or not taking care of yourself. We see patients who have lost a lot of weight with with a specific type of diet and then sometimes we see the same patients come back six months later and they’ve gained everything back and I think it’s just it’s been really frustrating for us over the years. We watch our patients go through that and to see it happen over and over again. We just really made a decision that we don’t want to emphasize a fad diet, we want to really put something in place that is useful for life.
Kate Kordsmeier 26:17
That’s exactly my mentality as well and like you said, I think there is a place for some more specific or restrictive diets, like keto or something like that. But I think for the majority of people that finding that sustainable way of eating is in the long term going to be so much better for you and just even for your sanity. I mean, I think people really struggle with having to cut out so many food groups and and we need carbs. The one thing that I did cut out almost 100% was caffeine except from tea, and that I feel like made a bigger difference. I experimented, of course. So I did whole 30s and I’ve done different elimination diets and things where I see, okay, does cutting out grains or soy or this or that have an impact. The thing I found most was that caffeine really impacted me. I’ve since taken a few tests that like 23 and me that test your, like caffeine metabolism, basically, they’ve also come back saying that I don’t have a good one, that caffeine really does impact me more than other people. So I just switched to decaf coffee and guess what? Tastes exactly the same, and I don’t have to deal with the anxiety and the jitters and the adrenal dysfunction from having too much caffeine. That was one thing that I feel like made a bigger difference than cutting up food groups.
Farrar Duro 27:58
Definitely. Right. And the more we restrict sometimes you know that that can also play a part in depression and anxiety when we’re not also getting fatty acids, vitamins and nutrients for our body. I think that if you could recommend one of your personal habits that contributed the most to your success I know you already said cutting out caffeine but with you overcoming PCOS really, I mean, you have reversed it seems like a lot of things and been able to get pregnant easy and maintain your weight. What’s been one of your personal habits that’s really been the most important would you say?
Kate Kordsmeier 28:35
Oh, gosh, there’s so many that I feel like really did make a big impact without requiring a lot of sacrifice on my end. The first thing that comes to mind is doing hot yoga. That was something I used to be a very like high intensity exerciser. Or I feel like okay, I should go for a run or something. And a lot of these things can burn out our adrenals and raise our cortisol levels and things that impact our hormones and can make my PCOS flare up. When I started doing more gentle exercise that helped with my anxiety as well, that really made one of the biggest differences to me. Even on a superficial level as well, I felt like I’ve never been more in shape happy with my body and how, how strong I’ve been and that kind of thing then when I got into a regular practice.
Farrar Duro 29:36
Yoga is great for so many different things. I always say, give it a try at least even if it’s a DVD or videos that you’re watching on YouTube, but it just for a few minutes a day. It’s just hard for a lot of people to get into a routine especially when you’re working 40 hours and commuting, all kinds of stuff. Just a little bit of day I think is important and I really think that there’s sometimes a sense of helplessness with PCOS. I think you’ve given a lot of women hope that you can turn things around, it might not be overnight, it could take a few years sometimes, it takes a little work, but, now that you’ve kind of maintained everything, is it is it a little bit easier for you as far as just to implement some of these things?
Kate Kordsmeier 30:26
Yes, I’m so glad you said that because I was just thinking that that yes, it did take a while but it was so worth it, of course, and now I feel like I am so much more lacks about a lot of things that I was really intense about in the beginning. I’ve gotten to a place where I really understand my body so much better and I can catch things earlier and it’s just easier, it’s so much easier. I don’t have to be as strict or to maintain and it’s always easier to maintain than it is to heal, right and have to react. Just kind of being proactive is important and being proactive as much easier than having to be reactive.
Farrar Duro 31:18
It becomes part of you and you’re providing your kids with a great life you know, I mean as far as you’ve already done a lot of the groundwork. It’s kind of hard when you’re bringing a little one into the world and you have to think oh, there’s so much toxicity out there I mean with even the baby products are are pretty tough so like trying to green your nursery and do those things and choose the right foods and all that you kind of were greening along the way so it wasn’t a big you know, change I would think when you when you started to do that for postpartum in a way.
Kate Kordsmeier 31:56
Right yeah it does it because it’s much more apart of you and then it makes those kinds of things easier. You already have a lot of the knowledge that you need and you know a lot of the brands that are doing things right and putting health above profits and that kind of thing. So yeah, it definitely makes it easier and for any moms listening we have a lot of non toxic mom and baby resources on Root and Rebel as well. I have a Green Nursery Guide and my favorite baby products that kind of fit that bill. It’s just an ongoing process and it can be overwhelming and you can feel sometimes, like you said, just defeated or like, gosh, everything is toxic and there’s nothing good out there, but there is and once you kind of get into this world, they it becomes a lot easier.
Farrar Duro 32:51
Definitely. Well, thank you so much for sharing what is the best way our listeners can connect with you?
Kate Kordsmeier 32:56
I would just say to head over to the blog. It’s rootandrebel.com and you can also follow along on social media. I am pretty active on Instagram so I’m just @rootandrebel there and if anybody wants to talk to me about Beauty Counter or anything else PCOS related or otherwise they can just reach out to me via email which is listed on my blog but it’s just email@example.com.
Farrar Duro 33:20
Perfect, well thank you so much for taking time out to talk to us today and I really appreciate all the wisdom you shared with us I can’t wait to check out more articles on your blog to it’s amazing so so thanks everybody for listening. And for all of you, have a wonderful week. We’ll catch you next time. And that’s the end of this episode of the PCOS Revolution podcast. If you’ve enjoyed the show and want to help me spread the word about how women with PCOS and hormonal imbalances can lead happier, more healthier lives, please head over to iTunes and leave us a review they really do make a difference if you’d like to have a question answered on the show or would like to recommend a guests please go to floridacompletewellness.com/podcast. If you’re on social media you can follow me at facebook.com/floridacompletewellness and twitter.com/floridacomplete where I post a lot of interesting research,webinars and articles on our blog about really getting to the root of hormonal imbalances like PCOS so it’s a great way to stay in touch with the latest developments. Thanks so much for listening and see you soon.
About Our Guest:
Kate Kordsmeier, new mom and the founder of Root + Revel, was a full-time freelance food and travel writer and recipe developer who’s work appeared in over 125 magazines, newspapers and websites, including USA Today, EatingWell, Cooking Light, Travel + Leisure, Shape, FITNESS, Women’s Health, The Washington Post, Clean Eating, Vegetarian Times, Wine Enthusiast, SELF and Real Simple.
In October 2015, after being diagnosed with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS), Leaky Gut Syndrome (IBS), and hypothyroidism, and subsequently healing her symptoms naturally, she created Root + Revel. Though she’s a food writer and a food lover who believes strongly that life is not worth living without fried chicken, cheese and wine, she’s also seen firsthand the power of nutrition and how much the food we eat affects the way we feel. After her diagnosis, she was blown away by the rapid transformation she saw in her own body from simple, natural and holistic lifestyle changes.
Kate’s Links from This Episode:
- WomanCode by Alisa Viti
- Anti-Inflammatory Diet
- My Current Green Beauty Routine
- My Current Green Cleaning Routine
- True Botanicals
- Leahlanie Skincare
- Natural Mama + Baby Content
- Clean Cuisine: An 8-Week Anti-Inflammatory Diet that Will Change the Way You Age, Look & Feel by Ivy Larson
And, finally, please take a minute to leave us an honest review and rating on iTunes. They really help us out when it comes to the ranking of the show and I make it a point to read every single one of the reviews we get.
Thanks for listening!
To learn more about the brand new PCOS Revolution Academy, click here!
Disclaimer: The information in this podcast is intended for general audience only and is not intended to diagnose, treat or replace professional medical advice.