Kate The Tomato

Kate The Tomato

I woke up yesterday morning with a plan already set: time to get serious about being healthier.

Now, this isn’t a new plan for me, really. I’ve had this plan all written out – even printed out [twice]- but well, you know how it goes… I’ll start tomorrow.

I have a lot of excuses in my mind, but none of them are that I don’t know what to do. I do know what to do. That’s the thing. I’ve been much healthier at other points in my life. I have always been an exerciser, a runner (a slow runner, but a runner none the less), and someone who likes healthy foods. I have not been a good sleeper and in the last few years I have had a lot of stress, but I know what to do about those things. Maybe, like some of you, I have read a lot of books on food and health and wellness. I’ve had a lot of conversations about these things. But, honestly, in the past year or so, I just haven’t done much of what I know how to do.

So anyway, yesterday I got up and drank a bunch of water and while I was making breakfast, I decided to take some vitamins. I took my usual prenatal (for nursing lest any of you think I am crazy enough to be pregnant again!) and garlic. One of the recent times I had decided I was seriously ready to live healthier, I got a bunch of vitamins and green cleaning supplies, etc. While my plain eggs were cooking, I raided the medicine cabinet. I found some items I had used before and got those out and then I saw an unopened bottle of B-3 vitamins.

Having read that a lot of women don’t get enough B-vitamins and protein, I barely looked at the bottle before popping one into my mouth. After all a month ago I did a lot of research and I thought that was one of the bottles I purchased then. After all, it was unopened....

My thoughts went about that far, before the eggs needed dealt with. I finished my eggs and grapefruit a short while later and was jonesing for some coffee, so I made decaf. I started to put the dishes away when I felt my face getting hot. It felt like that time when I was in middle school and got a perm and reacted bad to the chemicals on my head…. but then the living room needed picked up. So I did that and then I realized my legs were getting hot. Not just warm from moving around, but like hot-fire hot... like a blow torch had just been ignited somewhere between my pant leg and my skin. I felt my leg, it was hot to the touch.

I went into the half bath and looked in the mirror. I looked like I had spent a week at the beach with no sunscreen.

I immediately thought about the B-3 vitamins. I ran into the kitchen and grabbed the bottle which clearly read:

WARNING: B-3 (Niacin) may cause flushing, tingling, and skin reddening, particularly on an empty stomach”

Flushing is a nice way to put it, I thought. Not a second later, David (who was working from home) and my brother Ben (who is wiring the addition) stepped into the house. I don’t remember what I said, but it something to the effect of “look at me! I am as red as a tomato!” to which they both laughed and nodded. I laughed too just before telling David he was in charge of the baby for awhile. I needed to get in a cold bathtub. “Are you really that hot?”

I didn’t even bother to answer.

I reclined in the bathtub, feeling like someone who had spent a week at the beach with no sunscreen. I was miserable.  Then I started to feel antsy. What if I had overdosed? I started searching online thanks to the google app on my phone. After reading a few articles I learned some important things… like, I had taken 500mg, but I should’ve taken like, 100mg. Oops. And B-3 is most often used to increase circulation, which explained why I could almost feel the blood pulsing through my veins and why I was red (capillaries are expanded with B-3). One article made a big point of saying that medicine containing Niacin should never be consumed by pregnant or nursing women because it is a “class C” substance. Grrreaat... hadn’t even thought about that. So, then I searched “Niacin + breastmilk” to find nearly every website said you should contact your doctor. So, I did that. I called the nurse answer line and left a message.

Then I started to panic and tried to remind myself that :

“Niacin flushing is completely harmless. If experiencing a reaction, drink a lot of water and relax.”

[Thanks, Google]

Just when I started to relax I remembered a couple other things that made it impossible.

“Contact your doctor immediately if the whites of your eyes turn yellow”…

I jumped out of the bathtub and stared into the mirror. They looked white… (relief). Wait, maybe they do look a little yellow (panic)…or was that just because my skin was so stinking red that they looked a little yellow? I had to literally tell myself to calm down before I hyperventilated. I got back into the bathtub, breathing like I was going to give birth, and then I remembered from some message board a woman had said her reaction lasted 2 hrs.

I wanted to cry.

Instead I got out of the bathtub, told myself to be a big girl, and laid down in bed. The cool sheets almost hurt my stinging legs. I watched an episode of Monk on my laptop, trying to laugh at my own extreme reactions to things. It helped a little.

Then Adler started to cry. I hadn’t heard back from the doctor, so I decided to be safe I would have to pump off some milk. Luckily I had never gotten rid of the sample formula the hospital sent home with us. And for the first time ever as a mother, I made a bottle of formula and fed it to my baby. I felt sad too… isn’t that silly? At least the sadness kept me from wondering if the formula would hurt his tummy (which, thank God, it didn’t).

He fell back asleep and I tried. I felt dizzy and sick to my stomach. Then, about , (yes, wait for it…) 2 hours later I felt my skin getting cooler. I checked the mirror and sure enough, the redness was paling into pink and in some places almost a normal skin color.


Some five hours later I got a call from the nurse saying it was okay to nurse Adler. Um, thanks. Guess all my worrying was for nothing. Surprise, surprise.

So the morals of the story are read labels, whatever you do, don’t panic!, and don’t bother calling the nurse hotline if you need an answer now.

Lesson learned.



  1. I too am trying to get healthier, and I haven’t even birthed a kid yet! Sigh. Actually I’m trying to get healthy SO I can birth a child. Double sigh. Your anecdote lifted my spirits though! I too usually panic and fear the worst with things like this. I’m glad everything was OK in the end. :-)

    • Curious to hear what you are trying in your quest to get healthier… ? Pregnancy is a good reason to get healthy…good for you!

      • The easier reply would be what haven’t I tried…lol. I gained some weight after getting married. Everyone said it was all that contentedness, and it probably was. I lost 40lbs on weight watchers pre-marriage and kept it off for a long time, but then life changed and I fell far off that wagon. I’ve tried to get back on several times, but for some reason I just can’t get it together. I am almost done reading Made to Crave, and it has been a really great read/kick in the pants so far. I did the Daniel fast last week to give myself a kick start and it went well. This week…not so much.

        • I read a REALLY interesting book, Jillian Michaels “Master Your Metabolism”. It’s not a diet book…she explains why women gain and lose weight and then sets for a really simple plan, eat 4x a day every 4 hours and then there’s a list.

          Breakfast: pick one thing from list A and one thing from list B [something like that]

          Might be worth checking it out.

          [plus I do think contentedness can make you gain weight :) ]

          • I have actually read that book! I asked for it for Christmas and finally finished it a couple of months ago. After reading that book I got rid of all of our household cleaners, changed my lotion & toothpaste, stopped wearing perfume, bought a bunch of Pyrex and stopped putting plastic in the dishwasher, and I need to find new makeup! I need to go back through it because originally I felt discouraged by the food plan. I remember it being really restrictive, but after doing the Daniel fast it may seem like a walk in the park.

            Contentedness can make you a bit lazy :-) I found out last year I have some medical reasons for the difficult time I have with loosing weight, but their solution is birth control or meds that give me horrible headaches. No thank you! I want to find a good naturopathic doctor that may have some solutions in addition to my diet that may help.

    • I’m doing the same thing. Since I’m diabetic it was recommended I drop weight before we try for a baby. It’s so hard! I’ve reduced my calorie intake to ~1200/day and exercise 45-60 minutes before work. There’s no alternative though, we want to be able to have a healthy one…plenty of hard work ahead. I found it’s best to get exercise done first thing in the morning.

  2. That was really funny (pry not to you). Sounds like something i’d do.

    • no it was funny to me too…. afterwards

  3. I have to confess, I laughed, right out loud at this post. Your misery = my humor. Horrible. But, seeing as how you were blogging about the whole incident, I knew you were ok, and somehow that equated to my being able to laugh.

    Take care of yourself momma (insert my personal trainer voice here). The healthier you are, the better able you will be to take care of all those boys in your life, and you will have more energy for it too :)

  4. and now you can laugh because I can’t spell my own name…niiice

    • Chelel or Chelle : *grin* You made me laugh… yes, I was laughing when I wrote this. I can be such an over-reactor!

      I am realizing how much I do need to take care of myself… the energy required for 2 boys is so much more than one! And, I had a hard time with depression after Cohen and this time I haven’t been depressed but I just don’t feel like myself…not sad, just “off”. I feel happy most of the time, but little things will get on my nerves like never before…just weird stuff. I have been off dairy (I have long thought I had an allergy to it) for a couple of days now and I feel so different already!!! My skin is clearing up and I feel so much calmer. Seriously, I know that sounds weird, but even David has noticed. I think I am done with dairy for good.

  5. Hello Kate,

    Thanks for blogging this. I have been getting UTI’s in the past year. The meds they put me on made me sick to my stomach due to an allergic reaction. Now that i lost enough weight, (which i dont weigh as much as i use to) How do i gain it back? I know your not a health expert or anything but i just want to know. My fiance and I were talking about it and he said i should go see a doctor or go see a health expert. How do you do it?

    • Rebecca,

      I can’t say I’ve ever struggled with needing to GAIN weight. My suggestion is to add more protein and healthy fats to your diet if you need to gain (like nuts, avocados, etc) If you are really unable to get up to a healthy weight, I do think its a good idea to talk to your doctor. You might also try adding whey to milkshakes a couple of times a day.

  6. Kate,

    This was really hilarious! Yup, as soon as you said B-3 I said that’s Niacin – hot flash city!!! :)

    I am huge into nutrition, (trying to get into exercise consistently – I can’t run and that’s a long story – but I was a ballerina for 7 years and took other dance classes and *love* dance. So I’ve been trying to workout by dancing (DWTS DVD’s) in my living room, coupled with pilates.) Anyway, after I had three miscarriages, I had tests done and one of my many things to “fix” was that I had elevated lipoprotein-A (I won’t go into that explaination) but I had to take baby aspirin during pregnancy because of it. My OB’s were never able to exactly tell me what it was and I wasn’t ever to really find much info. about it online. Ironically it wasn’t until *after* I was done having kids that I read the book, “The Optimal Health Revolution” by Duke Johnson, MD where it explains exactly what it is. Basically, I am at more than double the risk for heart disease and if my HDL cholesterol (the good one) is low, I am at 8.3 times the risk!!! Needless to say, I go out of my way to eat healthy (heart healthy) and one of the recommendations for elevated lp(a) is to take niacin. (We eat as organic as we can, only use EVOO or canola oil, avoid sweets, low sodium, whole wheats, and I try to get 5-9 servings of fruits & veggies per day, etc.)

    I basically put myself on a meal plan that is easy and works for me. Breakfast is oatmeal with flax seeds & cinnamon and sweetened with Truvia and/or real maple syrup, plus a whole banana and a cup of yerba mate. Lunch is a salad – loaded with veggies and sometimes beans and usually if we had leftovers from supper the night before, I have a small serving, and lemonade sweetened with Stevia. Supper is something that is both healthy and can satisfy my picky eater husband & oldest daughter! My favorite snack right now is Wasa brand whole grain crispbread smeared with Nutella & fruit! Or I made up a recipe for what I call “Organic Whole-grain Chocolate Peanut Butter Cinnamon Flax Muffins”. (Using Stevia and a little organic brown sugar). They are YUMMY- my kids go through them like candy. Also, unless it’s a special occasion, I don’t eat dessert. Instead, I finish my meal with ONE Hershey’s dark choc. w/almond Nugget! PERFECT!!! After the kids are in bed, I usually have a small handfull of walnuts and then a bowl of plain Greek yogurt with honey, mini choc. chips and fruit. I sip hot teas throughout the day as well. My favorites are Earl Gray, black orange & spice, white peach, green jasmine, and spiced chai yerba mate. (I use Truvia or a brand of Stevia to sweeten most everything now, because besides just reading about how bad the artificial sweeteners are, my body has physical reactions to them. I get very scary heart palpatations from Splenda (sucralose). Aspartame also does things to me that aren’t nice.)

    Anyway, I *highly* recommend that book I mentioned – it is my health “Bible”. I have gone to conferences and heard this doctor speak. He is on the cutting edge, frontline of proactive health care. Dr. Oz has even asked for his input! My husband and I have owned our own direct selling business since 1998 where we use and sell only “green” & organic products for home, health and self. Dr. Duke and the Nutrilite Health Institute is behind the vitamins and supplements that we use. Our supplements are the only ones that are made from whole foods on company-owned organic farms in the world!

    All that to say that the first time I bought Niacin, I didn’t know about the “flushing” that could happen and I almost went to the ER because I didn’t know what was happening! Then I read the label and figured it out. I also googled it and then I threw away the bottle and went out and got a bottle that specifically says “Non-flushing” on it. Those were fine! :)

    I share your passion for health & wellness and the “gift” of overreaction and researching things on your own. (BTW, just another side-note on vitamin B, taking vitamin B-6 is what corrected my luteal phase defect – it keeps my ovulation earlier and my cycle on schedule! AND it is a metabolism booster. It’s my “magic little pill”!)


    • I am going to have to re-read this comment a few times, lots of good info :) Thanks for the book recommendation. I will check it out!

  7. I love Wasa, also! My go-to dessert is Wasa with chocolate almond butter. I love how the crispbread can be made to eat something at any time in the day!

    I actually do some work with the brand and if you are a Wasa fan you may be interested in knowing they do weekly #WasaWednesday product giveaways on Twitter. Check it out and tell your followers! @Wasa_NA.

  8. Today, while I was at work, my sister stole my apple ipad and tested to see if it can survive a 30 foot drop, just so she can be a youtube sensation. My apple ipad is now broken and she has 83 views. I know this is entirely off topic but I had to share it with someone! daadgfdebgbe

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