Nutrition and Lifestyle Factors to Help Decrease Breast Cancer Risk

October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. This topic is very personal to me because, while there is not one thing we can do to prevent breast cancer, there are many things we can do to help reduce our risk. Early detection and treatment is critical, and therefore the practice of regular mammograms and self-exams are essential. When it comes to nutrition and lifestyle choices, there are many things we can do to decrease risk.

This month I am sharing a practical but very realistic guide on what you can start implementing today to decrease your risk of Breast Cancer. Read and share it with your loved ones! Tell me what you plan to implement to "fight" breast cancer!

1. Exercise. Participating in regular physical activity can help decrease estrogen levels, which can decrease the risk for breast cancer.

How to incorporate: For those who don’t enjoy traditional forms of exercise such as walking, jogging, or participating in a structured fitness program, here are a few alternatives that will still have your heart pumping (and actually may be way more fun!)

  • Sign up for a dance class. Zumba, ballroom dancing, hip-hop, and ballet are all forms of exercise just not in a traditional format.

  • Schedule 30 minutes a few times a week to play outside with children or grandchildren.

  • Playing an old fashion game of kickball or soccer will certainly get the heart pumping and will be creating lasting memories.

  • Wear a pedometer and just challenge yourself to 10,000 steps per day – that is like walking 3 miles! Once reaching the 10,000 steps per day goal, increase it to 12,000, then 15,000. The little extra steps will really make a difference and you won’t even need the gym.

2. Eat a serving of beans or lentils at least twice a week.

How to incorporate: One night a week swap the traditional meat and potatoes dinner for beans and rice (preferably brown). Make this interesting by cooking white beans, lentil stew, split pea soup, and red beans and rice. No need to negate the health benefits of beans by adding high fat processed meats to the pot; instead try going vegetarian one night a week. For the second serving of beans try serving black beans, lima beans, or black-eyed peas as a side dish to the family meal.

3. Increase fruit and vegetable intake. By eating a variety of fruits and vegetables instead of focusing on just one food, the total nutrition profile is increased. Research has found a positive correlation between a decrease in breast cancer risk and an increase in the following vitamins and minerals: vitamin D, C, A, and E, and calcium – just to name a few.

How to incorporate: The best way to incorporate this breast cancer-fighting tip is to think about the plate as a rainbow. Start the day with a antioxidant and fiber-packed blueberry shake, for lunch have a color full tossed salad with broccoli, yellow squash, tomatoes, garbanzo beans, and topped with salmon and for dinner set a goal to have at least 3 different colors of foods onto your plate (i.e. sweet potatoes, broccoli, black beans, red, yellow and green bell pepper stir fry).

4. Increase the intake of monounsaturated fats and include more omega-3 fatty acids into the diet.

How to incorporate: Include more legumes, nuts, and seeds, baked seafood, canola oil, walnuts, flaxseeds into the daily food routine. Add fresh ground flaxseeds to a breakfast smoothie, opt to eat more seafood and less red meat, try snacking on nuts and seeds instead of traditional packaged foods.

More Cancer-Fighting Tips:

  • Avoid tobacco

  • Decrease high-fat foods and meat intake

  • Increase fiber intake

  • Limit alcohol

  • Including a daily garlic supplement may be beneficial

  • Eat soy and soy products in moderation

  • One study found that breastfeeding for more than two years may reduce breast cancer risk by half

For additional guidance and support on creating an anti-inflammation, breast cancer-protective diet then contact me today!

Probiotics 101: What They Are and When to Use

Probiotics are live bacteria and yeasts similar to the microorganisms that naturally live in your gut. They help promote a healthy bacteria balance in the gut by counteracting unhealthy gut bacteria from a poor diet, inflammation, antibiotics, and illnesses. Probiotics help restore the natural balance of gut bacteria.

When it comes to probiotics, scientists have discovered there’s a wide variety of different types and therefore, probiotics are differentiated by the strain of bacteria. If you’ve ever looked for a probiotic, you’ve probably been a little overwhelmed and confused with the long and complicated names. There is a good chance you’ve said something like, “I was told to take a probiotic, but what does Lactobacillus acidophilus or Bifidobacteria longum even mean?”

In an effort to help simplify things, I’m sharing a few common strains of probiotics, what ailments they treat, and where to find them.

Lactobacillus acidophilus (L. acidophilus)

Primary Purpose:

  • Digestion and overall general health. L. acidophilus helps break down sugars such as lactose, into lactic acid. It is also known for protecting against harmful germs.

May also help:

  • Reduce cholesterol

  • Improve symptoms associated with chronic fatigue syndrome

  • Prevent or reduce diarrhea

  • Improve symptoms of IBS

  • Treat and prevent vaginal yeast infections

  • Boost immune system

Found in: Naturally found in fermented foods such as sauerkraut, miso, and tempeh. Commonly added to foods such as cheese and yogurt. Can also be found in a supplement.

Lactobacillus rhamnosus (L. rhamnosus)

Primary purpose:

  • Prevent and treat a variety of types of diarrhea, specifically antibiotic-related diarrhea.

May also help:

  • Relieve symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)

  • Improve overall gut health

  • Protect against cavities due to the antimicrobial properties.

Found in: Supplements and often added to dairy products such as yogurt, cheese, and milk.

Lactobacillus casei (L. casei)

Primary Purpose:

  • Prevent and treat diarrhea, including infectious diarrhea, traveler’s diarrhea and diarrhea associated with taking antibiotics.

May also help:

  • Reduce symptoms of other digestive issues such as constipation, Crohn's disease, IBD (inflammatory bowel disease), IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) and ulcerative colitis.

Found in: Fermented foods such as yogurt, milk, and cheese. Also found in supplements.

Bifidobacteria longum (B. longum)

Primary Purpose:

  • Boost immune system

May also help:

  • Decrease inflammation

  • Decrease cholesterol

  • Improve gut health

  • Boost brain function

  • Improves mood

Found in: Naturally found in fermented foods such as sauerkraut, yogurt, kefir, kombucha, tempeh, and miso.

Saccharomyces boulardii (S. boulardii)

Primary Purpose:

  • Treating rotaviral diarrhea in children and diarrhea caused by antibiotics.

May also help:

  • Acne

  • Diarrhea caused by “bad” bacteria overgrowth in adult

  • Traveler’s diarrhea

  • Diarrhea associated with tube feeding

Found in: S. Boulardii is actually yeast and easiest to take in the over-the-counter supplement form. Can also be found in African fermented foods such as kenkey, ogi, and amasi.

Why Does My Stomach Hurt?

Bloating, gas, cramps, stomach aches, and pains are conditions that I’m all too familiar with hearing about from my clients. Many clients schedule an appointment to help figure out what’s causing their issues. They wonder if it’s related to food or maybe something even more severe.

The term gastritis is used in the medical profession to refer to inflammation, irritation or erosion of the lining of the stomach. Symptoms of gastritis include: abdominal bloating, abdominal pain, indigestion, hiccups, vomiting, and loss of appetite. Usually, when a client is talking to me about stomach issues, they are describing one or all of the above.

In most of my newsletters, I focus on the positive things first. I like you to know what you CAN do to change your health and well-being. However, I also believe knowledge is power. Being aware and informed on what’s hurting your gut is just as important as knowing how you can heal and repair it.

Here are a few of the most common nutrition and lifestyle factors that contribute to stomach pains such as: bloating, gas, nausea, loss of appetite, heartburn and more.

  • Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs). While there is a time to take NSAIDs, they are not intended for long term use. Side effects can include: heartburn, gas, stomach pain, feeling bloated, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and constipation. If you experience any of these symptoms, discuss with your physician and treatment team. Common NSAIDs including: aspirin, Celebrex, Voltaren, ibuprofen, Motrin, Advil, Aleve, and Naprosyn.

  • Sugar and Refined Flours. Excessive intake of sugar and refined flour can cause inflammation in the body and promote the growth of unhealthy gut bacteria.

  • Alcohol. Alcohol, even small to modest amounts, causes your stomach to produce more acid than usual. Over time, this can cause inflammation of the stomach lining and lead to gastritis.

  • Excessive Coffee Consumption. Not only is coffee high in caffeine, but it’s also acidic, causing the stomach to produce hydrochloric acid (HCL), which can contribute to heartburn and indigestion. If you find yourself experiencing some of these issues, reduce or eliminate coffee intake until symptoms subside.

  • Stress. While stress does not actually cause gastritis, it can make things worse. It is important to find healthy ways to manage stress throughout life.

    While there is no magic wand to cure stomach troubles, there are several food and lifestyle choices that can trigger an unsettled gut. This month, I’m sharing what foods can damage the lining of your gut as well as some simple and realistic solutions to help heal and repair. If you have been wondering if it’s your food or maybe something more serious causing your chronic stomach issues, let’s schedule a consult!

5 Small Changes that Equate to BIG Results

Start and end your day with a mindfulness practice. This could be a 10 minute morning meditation, a midday walk in nature and 5 minutes of writing a gratitude list at night. This simple practice, will help set the tone for your day, bringing mindfulness and attention to task that need to be done, in order to reach the goals you set.

  1. Reduce excess and minimize your living and work environment by decluttering. This simple change can help you shift from living in a state of overwhelm to a more focused and on intentional state of living. Donate what you don’t use, organize your space, and reduce clutter and noise around you. With a clear space, you will be able to better focus on the goals you have set for yourself.

  2. Indulge in a technology detox. There is no doubt that technology can make life easier. However the constant chatter from social media and emails can add more clutter to your headspace, distracting you from the tasks essential to reach your goals. Take a tech break and re-assess where you are in relation to your goals. When you re-introduce technology back from your “detox”, observe your social media feeds and email inbox. Does the content on your screen inspire and motivate you? Or does it leave you feeling negative, searching for comparison, and welcoming self - doubt?

  3. Aim to eat fruit or vegetables at every meal. This is a sure way to start and end your day with good nutrition and balanced meals. The American diet is usually low in fiber, micronutrients, and vitamins and minerals that are offered in vegetables. If you focus every meal on making sure you get in at least one vegetable and fruit you’ll increase these important components and reduce the amount of processed foods.

  4. Leave two bites behind. If weight loss is one of your goals and the idea of eating smaller portions makes you feel like you are on another “diet”, start with simply leaving 2 bites behind at your meals. This simple small change will really add up to a decrease in overall calorie intake and over time, you will see and feel the results!Reaching a new goal does not have to be complex or complicated, but goals do need to be set with intention, and action will be required daily to reach that goal. Start your day with a simple mindful practice to set your intention and remember your WHY. Need a strategy session to map out how you can achieve your goal? Contact me today!

5 Health Positive Ways to Kick Off 4th of July

  1. Start by Being Active: Kick off your holiday by starting your day with a walk, run, bike ride, or swim. Holidays are a great time to get active with friends and family members. Not only will a workout jumpstart your metabolism, but you can also use that time to connect and catch up with a quality conversation!

  2. Drink More Water: Regardless of where you live, July is hot! Be sure to drink plenty of water to keep your body hydrated and prevent overheating. The best way to monitor your hydration is through the color of your urine. Dark yellow urine means you need more H2O, whereas pale yellow urine means your body is most likely adequately hydrated.

  3. Savor Seasonal Foods: Tis the season to enjoy fresh summer produce! A few of my favorite July produce include eggplant, corn, avocado, mango, strawberries, pineapple, green peas, watermelon, and zucchini. The number of meals, snacks, side dishes, and desserts that can be made with these foods are endless. Forget snacking on chips and store-bought cookies! And instead, sink your teeth into some savory foods from mother nature’s summer crops.

  4. Keep Cold Food Cold and Warm Food Warm: There is nothing worse than getting a bout of food poisoning from a summer BBQ to ruin your vacation. With an increase in outdoor temperatures during the summer months, we usually see a spike in food-borne illnesses. The warm temperature creates the perfect environment for bacteria that cause food poisoning. The most important thing you can do to combat this is to make sure that cold foods stay cold and warm foods stay warm.

  5. Wear Sunscreen: If enjoying the outdoors is part of your July 4th plans, then wearing sunscreen is essential to having a healthy holiday. Wear a broad-spectrum sunscreen with at least 30 SPF and make sure to reapply often. Take the extra step and wear a hat, sunglasses and maybe even a rash guard for extra protection.

What Does Organic Mean?

The USDA National Organic Program (NOP) defines organic as follows:
Organic food is produced by farmers who emphasize the use of renewable resources and the conservation of soil and water to enhance environmental quality for future generations. Organic meat, poultry, eggs, and dairy products come from animals that are given no antibiotics or growth hormones. Organic food is produced without using most conventional pesticides; fertilizers made with synthetic ingredients or sewage sludge; bioengineering; or ionizing radiation. Before a product can be labeled "organic," a Government-approved certifier inspects the farm where the food is grown to make sure the farmer is following all the rules necessary to meet USDA organic standards. Companies that handle or process organic food before it gets to your local supermarket or restaurant must be certified, too.

There are four categories of labels relating to the product being “organic”: 

  • “100% Organic” means the product contains all organic ingredients, with the exception of salt and water as these are not certifiable. These products cannot be affected by the “big three”: irradiated, contains genetically engineered organisms (GEO’s), or grown with sewage sludge fertilizer.

  • If the label only says, “Organic,” 95% of the ingredients in the product are organically grown.

  • A label that says, “Made with Organic....,” means that 70% of the ingredients within the product are organic. The “big three” rules apply here, for the 70% organic ingredients as well as the 30% non-organic. The supplier may list up to 3 ingredients that are organic on the front of the label.

  • Labels that list organic ingredients on the side panel of the package contain less than 70% organic ingredients. There can be no organic claims on the front of the label. The “big three” are allowed to be in the non-organic ingredients.

Summer Guide to Lifestyle Medicine

Lifestyle Medicine is a new buzz word in the world of health and wellness, and while the term might be new, the principles of Lifestyle Medicine are things nutrition and wellness experts have been preaching for years. According to the American College of Lifestyle Medicine, Lifestyle Medicine is the use of evidence-based lifestyle therapeutic approaches, such as a plant-predominant dietary lifestyle, regular physical activity, adequate sleep, stress management, avoiding the use of risking substances and pursuing other non-drug modalities, to treat, and prevent chronic disease. 

This month I’m sharing why the summer is the perfect opportunity to embrace Lifestyle Medicine and how you can incorporate these principles into your day to day routine! With Lifestyle Medicine, you’re empowered to take charge of your own health.

Summer Guide to Lifestyle Medicine

Why wait till September or January to start thinking about changing your nutrition and health habits, when you can start today? The summer is actually the perfect opportunity to embrace Lifestyle Medicine and start implementing new habits. Listed below are some easy things you can start doing today and reaping the health and wellness benefits.

  • Eat Seasonal Produce. The cornerstone principle of Lifestyle Medicine is to eat a plant-predominant diet consisting of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, beans, lentils, peas, nuts, and seeds. The summer months are filled with produce harvested in their prime including sweet corn, ripe tomatoes, juicy berries, and more. Take advantage of this season to create new lifestyle habits by eating more seasonal produce. Here are a few ideas to get started: mix in spinach, tomatoes, and peppers into your eggs, enjoy fresh fruit and challenge yourself to add more plants to your meals by cooking with at least three different vegetables.

  • Sign Up for a Summer Rec League. Summer is the perfect season to sign up for a new sport. While you may love watching a good baseball game on a summer evening, there is nothing like playing the game! No need to let your skill level, age, or your busy schedule hold you back. As I like to say, where there is a will, there is always a way! Check out your local rec center and see what adult leagues are offered. From volleyball to softball to pickleball to kickball there is bound to be something that fits your skill level and schedule. If participating in summer sports does not interest you then sign up for a local running club. The key is to not only find something you enjoy but also has a set schedule of practices and events to show up and participate!

  • Maintain a Consistent Sleep Schedule. Avoid letting the temptation of long summer days, lack of school schedule and vacation mindset result in late nights. While late nights catching up with friends is okay to do every now and then, it is not a healthy habit for the long term. Sleep is not only important for your mental and physical health but also for . healing and repair of your muscles, tissues, and more. Chronic sleep deficiency is linked to increased risk for heart disease, high blood pressure, and diabetes as well as mental health issues such as anxiety and depression.

  • Create White Space In Your Schedule. Stress management is an essential component of Lifestyle Medicine. One thing I’ve observed working with clients is that not having enough time or having too much to do is a big contributor to stress. The summer is the perfect time to address this. Where can you create white space in your schedule to do less? White space, also known as free time, is just as important for your physical and mental well-being as staying active and engaged in physical and social activities. Take the challenge and see where can you create a little more white space in your schedule? How does extra free time help with your overall stress levels? How can you keep this white space protected for your foreseeable future?

  • Soak Up Sunshine! The sun is one of the best ways to get vitamin D, the nutrient essential for bone health and fighting depression, just to name a few. While it is important to wear sunscreen when spending time outdoors and sunscreen will inhibit some vitamin D absorption. However, you will still get some of the benefits. The more time you spend outdoors the more your body will be able to absorb this nutrient over time. Sunshine is also very good for your overall mental and emotional wellbeing. Whenever spending time outdoors be sure to follow the sunscreen guidelines from your physician.

  • Be Mindful of Summer Drinking. Summer can be a challenge for people who’ve struggled with alcohol and other substance abuse issues. Be mindful not to fall into the habit of drinking a few cocktails or glasses of wine during the summer nights on a regular basis. And if you’ve already kicked the habit (like stopped smoking, recreational drug use, or reduced alcohol consumption), don’t fall back into it. If this has been a struggle for you in the past, know that the simple act of self-awareness of what, when and where your struggles are is huge. The next step is to create a support system and plan on how you will not revert to old habits. Lifestyle Medicine is avoiding the use of risking substances because the effects on your overall health and well-being are serious and can be life-threatening.

5 Reasons Not to Go on a Diet

Before diving into all the reasons to stop dieting, let’s clarify the difference between a diet and dieting. 

According to Merriam Webster dictionary, diet is defined as food and drink regularly provided or consumed; habitual nourishment; the kind and amount of food prescribed for a person or animal for a special reason. Whereas the act of dieting is defined as: to cause to take food; to cause to eat and drink sparingly or according to prescribed rules.

The dieting mentality is associated with a variety of physical and emotional health risk that won’t lead to lasting weight loss and in the long run, could be more detrimental to your health. This month I’m sharing a few reasons not to go on a diet and how you can shift typical diet mentality thoughts into creating a healthy relationship with your daily diet, ultimately creating a healthy lifestyle. 

Here are the reasons:

  1. Dieting actually leads to weight gain. As counterintuitive as it sounds, dieters are more likely to gain weight after the diet than non-dieters. Dieting (aka restricting), triggers an increase in stress hormones which is also linked to weight gain. The rules and restrictions that come with diets have you ignoring and suppressing your body’s natural hunger cues. Over time, this can make you more vulnerable to binge eating and less intuitive about listening to your body’s internal hunger and fullness cues that help naturally regulate weight.

  2. Dieting can slow down your metabolism. Restricting calorie intake can lead to weight loss, however, the drop is due more to a loss in metabolically active muscle mass than actual fat loss. By losing muscle, there is a decrease in the amount of energy the body needs to maintain its weight, meaning a slower metabolism. A slow metabolism burns fewer calories at rest and therefore you have to eat less to avoid gaining weight.

  3. Dieting often means numbers trump nutrition. When following a diet, you are often most concerned about calories than anything else. This leads to eating foods based off a number rather than actual nutrition, and let’s face it, not all calories are created equal. A hundred calories of Swedish fish isn’t the same as a hundred calories of Greek yogurt and fresh berries. Foods labeled as “reduced-fat” often means more sugar or other additives to make it palatable. Taking out the fat means taking out some of the flavors, and eating foods with less flavor often leads to consuming more to feel satisfied. By just focusing on calories, you lose sight of the nutrition your body needs. However, eating a balanced diet takes into account the nutrition that is essential for regulating hormones, fighting diseases, managing cravings, and giving your body energy to thrive.

  4. Dieting sets off a self-shaming cycle. Beyond the negative physical and health consequences, dieting can have a negative impact on your psychological health and wellbeing. You start your new plan feeling good and optimistic that these rules and restrictions will help you reach their goals. During the first week, you lose a few pounds and you are motivated this will continue. Then you hit a plateau, the scale does not budge. You begin to feel frustrated that your weight is not changing as fast as promised or expected. This leads to feeling upset and maybe a little depressed, feelings of deprivation start to creep in and eventually you give up. You eat something “off limits” from the diet rules, this leads to a binge followed by feelings of despair, shame, and frustration. These feelings lead back to the cycle of dieting -> deprivation -> overeating -> feelings of shame and unworthiness. Over time this cycle can be extremely detrimental to your mental and physical health and this is a big reason diets don’t work!

  5. Dieting can lead to eating disorders and disordered eating. “Diets” have you depending on rules telling you what, when, and how much to eat. While this works for a short period of time, eventually you will fall off the diet. Falling off your diet intensifies the feelings of guilt and shame, which contributes to the cycle of restricting, purging, bingeing or excessive exercise. Over time this can develop into a serious eating disorder, leaving you with long term disordered eating habits. Other side effects of dieting include increased risk of depression, decrease in self-esteem, emotional distress and more weight gain.

Eggs...To EAT or NOT TO EAT?

Dear Confused Client,

Let me begin by saying thank you for reaching out and seeking my advice on this topic. Please know you are not the only one confused, the latest study about eggs and their impact on heart health has left many people asking: “Are eggs good or bad for me?” I hope my response helps you understand how to apply the study findings to your own life.

On March 15, 2019, the journal JAMA released a study, Associations of Dietary Cholesterol or Egg Consumption With Incident Cardiovascular Disease and Mortality. This study found that eating three to four eggs per week was linked to a 6 percent increase in a person's risk of developing heart disease and an 8 percent increase in their risk of dying from any cause during the study period, compared with not eating eggs.

The initial shock that consumers (along with health and nutrition experts) felt is understandable. Since 2016, when the new Dietary Guidelines for Americans were released and the recommendation on limiting eggs because of cholesterol was dropped, we (as a society) have been on an egg-cellent egg cooking, egg consuming journey. (*Note, when I reference the term “we” I am referring to our general society and how “we” have perceived nutrition information or misinformation.)

However, before the 2016 report was released, there was a general consensus among consumers and many health experts that consuming too many eggs or other foods high in cholesterol was associated with an increased risk of heart disease. Nutrition and health experts recommended limiting egg consumption to 3 - 4 egg yolks a week.

With the surge in diet trends such as low carb, paleo and keto - along with the new “green light” to eat more eggs, we did what we do best - we assumed that if there is no limit on eggs, then more must be better! We stopped eating eggs in moderation and instead began to eat eggs for breakfast, at lunch and dinner. New food trends emerged serving fried eggs on salad, burger, pizzas and more. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Americans are now consuming 280 eggs per person per year, which is significantly more than consumed a decade ago.

I am sharing this to say I don’t believe eggs are bad or need to be avoided, as they do provide a variety of nutrients such as protein, essential amino acids, iron, and choline. However, this also doesn’t mean they should be consumed in unlimited quantities. There has been a lot of research published on this topic and the general consensus finds that low to moderate egg consumption (about 3 - 4 yolks per week) is not associated with an increase in heart attack or stroke.

At the end of the day, the full spectrum of your nutrition and lifestyle habits matter and will impact long-term health and disease. Eat more plant-based foods, limit animal products, eat more fiber-rich foods (from plant-based sources) reduce added sugars in the diet, if you drink alcohol, drink in moderation and participate in regular physical activity.

Please remember we can also set up an appointment to discuss in further detail and customize a nutrition plan to maximize your health.



Daily Mantra: "I am Enough"

Here is a list of short mantras you can repeat to yourself to empower yourself to love yourself just as you are.

  • I am perfectly imperfect. My imperfections make me unique in this world. I embrace my imperfections and embrace the imperfections of my loved ones.

  • I choose my path. My path may include bumps, uphill climbs, and even a few detours, but these obstacles make me stronger and wiser as I continue on the journey.

  • I choose to be grateful for all of it.

  • I have done enough for today and I did the best I could today.

  • I have everything I need.

  • I am worthy of love. I am worthy of being cherished by others.

  • My gifts are worth sharing with others.

  • I will not compare myself to my family or friends, I am on my own journey.

  • I will walk my path and support my loved ones as they walk their path.

  • I am strong enough to handle whatever is given to me.

  • I trust that I will find the strength within me to do what I need to do if an obstacle feels too overwhelming for me.

  • I am tougher and braver than I appear.

  • I got this!

  • I am enough.

Beyond a Sweet Treat: 7 Perks of Dark Chocolate

Beyond simply tasting delicious, a dose of dark chocolate adds a variety of health perks that are sure to have your body (and taste buds) thanking you! The good-for-you properties actually come from the minerals and antioxidants found in the cocoa, hence why the darker the chocolate (think 70% or higher), the better for your health. 

7 Perks of Dark Chocolate

1. Enhances Brain Function.
 Yup, it’s true - a small dose of dark chocolate may help you think better. Dark chocolate is naturally rich in the stimulants caffeine and theobromine, two compounds that can add a short term boost to overall brain function. Theobromine has been found to improve focus, concentration and visual processing of information. Dark chocolate may also improve blood flow to the brain.

2. Rich in Antioxidants including Polyphenols, Flavanols, and Catechins. The darker the chocolate, the more antioxidant power, which means the more perks for your health!

3. Decreases Cancer Risk. The antioxidants found in dark chocolate have been found to neutralize free radicals that increase the risk of cancer. Therefore, enjoying a dose of dark chocolate can help decrease cancer risk.

4. Improved Heart Health. Researchers have linked the flavonols in cocoa to decreasing cholesterol levels, blood pressure and arterial plaque.

5. Lowers Blood Pressure. The flavanols in chocolate have been found to support the production of nitric oxide, which in turn helps relax blood vessels and improve blood flow.

6. Mood-Boosting. This one comes as no surprise, but there is scientific evidence that supports the fact that dark chocolate really does make people happier. Not only does it add a sweet treat, but it will help boost endorphins, lifting your mood.

7. Bonus Nutrients. While dark chocolate doesn't provide a significant amount of essential nutrients, it is rich in iron, fiber, copper, magnesium, zinc and phosphorus.

And don’t forget there is no BAD food. Everything can be enjoyed in moderation.

Tips for Creating Healthy Dining Habits

  1. Fill up on fiber and lean protein. 

    A meal high in protein and fiber can help keep you satisfied and prevent overeating. Use the Fast Casual Cheat Sheet in this newsletter, to help identify best meals to fill you up!

  2. Be stingy with the extras. 

    Things like bacon, cheese, mayo, and salad dressings will not only add to your food bill but also add unnecessary calories and fat to your meal.

  3. Watch out for the sneaky salad toppings. 

    While salads can be a nutrient-packed meal, they can also be higher in calories, fat and sodium than a hamburger. Fancy toppings like cheese, bacon, salad dressing, dried fruit, nuts, and croutons can really add up.

  4. Substitute sides. 

    Most restaurants default to serving fries, chips, onion rings, bread or mashed potatoes as their side. Often these are eaten out of habit and not because you are really hungry and need the extra food. Ask if you can substitute the high-calorie side dish with a side salad and light dressing, steamed veggies, baked sweet potato or a fresh fruit cup.

  5. Embrace the flavors of baked, broiled, grilled chicken or roasted lean meats.

    Avoid fried and battered foods as they are high in calorie, fat and sodium. By shifting your mindset to embrace the flavors of baked, broiled, grilled chicken or roasted lean meats you are opening yourself to a new relationship with food.

Yes, you can enjoy the Holiday Season eating healthy!

The holidays are a time for family, friends, good food and creating great memories. Our schedules are filled with shopping, decorating, and holiday party hopping. The busy days can make it challenging to maintain healthy exercise and sleep habits, making it easy to turn to food for a quick energy rush or comfort when feeling sad or lonely. 

When you combine lack of sleep with skipped workouts and poor food choices, it is easy to see why so many people complain of weight gain over the holidays. However, with a few simple strategies, you can fend off the unwanted holiday weight gain and prevent unhealthy habits from sabotaging the season!

Here are some of my favorite tips:

#1 Sip on soup. Soup is a low energy dense food, which means it provides fewer calories per gram - therefore you can eat a nice serving of soup, relatively low in calories. Having a cup of broth-based soup before a meal can help fill you up, so you don't overindulge in higher-calorie foods.

Bonus Tip: eat soup 30 minutes before your main meal to let your stomach register your food, helping to eat smaller portions of the more calorie-dense foods being served.

#2 Move away from the munchies. When socializing, avoid positioning yourself close to the appetizer and hors-d'oeuvre spread. This will not only help keep you more engaged in the conversation, but you will also not be tempted to eat between every other word. By stepping away from the food, you can focus on the people you are with.

Bonus Tip: When you eat, serve yourself on a plate. Think about the food you are eating, enjoy the smell, taste, and flavors of the meals. When talking, talk.

#3 Stock up on healthy foods. Prepare for your success by planning in advance. Be aware that life will get busy, you will get hungry, and your body will need food to function. Therefore, empower yourself by stocking up on nutritious and portable foods you can stash in your desk, car, gym bag, briefcase or purse.

Bonus Tip: Avoid going shopping or to a party on an empty stomach. Keep office goodies out of view or in an inconvenient location.

#4 Delay satisfaction. What should you do if you are at an office party? Instead of depriving yourself, which will probably lead to overindulging later, take it home for later. Often times delaying satisfaction can lead to realizing you did not need another serving or save it for when you can you can slow down and savor it.

Bonus Tip: Allow yourself to be more flexible this time of year. By giving yourself permission to savor holiday foods you'll be less likely to overeat and binge when your favorite foods are offered to you.

#5 Maintain a health and wellness journal. Food journaling has long been known as one of the most useful tools for helping people manage their weight. However, sometimes a food journal can get mentally exhausting if you are only thinking about the calories you consumed. Instead, shift the focus to health and wellness journaling. Track sleep habits, physical activity, mindful food moments, holiday joy, and if you choose to track food intake, pay attention to hunger and fullness cues along with your enjoyment of the foods.

Bonus Tip: Use the journal to explore what makes you feel both mentally and physically healthy.

Happy Holiday Season!!!

Yours in health,


Healthy Habits To Better Blood Sugar

 Make a new holiday tradition...
Instead of crashing on the couch before AND after your holiday feast, create a healthier tradition by encouraging your family and friends to get outside and play a game of football or frisbee together. You could also simply take a walk with your family to prevent those spikes in blood sugar when eating larger amounts of food. Research has shown that routine physical activity can help to improve blood glucose levels and even lessen your need for insulin or oral diabetes medications. Remember, the more you move, the less spikes you will have!
Additional perks of exercise:

  • Increased level of good cholesterol (HDL)

  • Leaner, stronger muscles

  • Stronger bones

  • More energy

  • Improved mood

  • Lower blood pressure

  • Weight management

  • Better sleep

  • Stress management

Don't Let Halloween Treats Scare You Into An Unhealthy Obsession

Halloween is here and there are savory and sweet treats everywhere. It is becoming more and more common for people to make comments about “healthy” and “unhealthy” food everyday - from the media, to your family, friends, and everyone in between. As a nutrition expert, I understand and agree with some of these comments. However, living a healthy and balanced life also means learning to enjoy food while also enjoying the experience of being with friends and family.

Heading into any social situation, especially during Halloween time, can sometimes be a little scary if you have struggled with food issues, disordered eating, or your inner food police screaming “eat this, not that”. If you have suffered from an eating disorder, you know these words and situations can trigger you back into old habits and behaviors, if you are not equipped both mentally and physically. This issue is designed, to help you enjoy the tricks and treats of the seasons without letting the food police creep into your life and take control of the fun!

Here are a three things you can start doing today to keep yourself mentally and physically strong while not getting spooked about all the “food rules” you may read about. 

  1. Avoid skipping meals. Whether it's breakfast lunch dinner snacks skipping meals is a surefire way to find yourself in a place you might eating beyond comfort a popular Halloween treat. Everyone, every once in awhile, will find themselves in a situation where they may overeat, remember you're human. However, as part of recovery, it important to practice self-care and fuel properly throughout the day. When you fuel right throughout the day, you are equipping yourself to go to a social gathering feeling satisfied and not deprived. Practicing this step can help enjoy the event while also helping you stop eating beyond comfort.

  2. Taste your treats. When deciding to enjoy a Halloween treat, like your favorite candy, cookie, or chips and dip, take the time to actually taste what you're about to eat. If you're eating out of boredom, stress or pure mindlessness this is not the time to grab that peanut butter cup. Instead wait to enjoy your treat when you have the time to sit down, taste & savor it - without any guilt!

  3. Don’t be scared to serve it up. Instead nibbling on random Halloween candy and treat throughout the evening, make a conscious decision on what you want to eat. After you make the conscious decision on what you actually want, then take the next step and serve yourself a portion on a plate. Once you have served your portion, find a place where you can sit, taste, and enjoy your food. This simple act of conscious eating will help you stay in tune with your body. As you are eating, refer back to step #2 and make sure to taste your treats...without any guilt!

Does this issue make you want to discover how you can make peace with food and enjoy more guilt free social situations? Contact me and let’s explore working together!

Inflammation and nutrition


Inflammation is a hot topic in the world of health and nutrition. It’s the body’s natural response to an infection or injury. Without it our body would not be able to heal. However, inflammation that persists—known as chronic inflammation—plays a role in serious illnesses such as obesity, heart disease, diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease and many types of cancer. Thankfully healthy food choices among other lifestyle choices can reduce risk of developing chronic inflammation. 
There may not be one super food to cure chronic inflammation, but a healthy and varied diet can boost the body’s immune system and reduce inflammatory stress. 

Although diet is important in fighting inflammation, other lifestyle choices that reduce risk of chronic inflammation include: maintaining a healthy weight, getting plenty of sleep and engaging in regular physical activity.

This month I’m sharing foods and spices that help fight inflammation. This month, eat well to feel great!

Enjoy all the autumn harvest has to offer by incorporating seasonal produce and spices into meals, all while fighting inflammation!
Cranberries contain phytonutrients shown to have anti-inflammatory effects on the cardiovascular system and digestive tract. Sprinkle a handful of dried cranberries in your morning oatmeal or mix with roasted nuts for a quick healthy snack.
Sweet Potatoes
Sweet potatoes have high amounts of antioxidants—beta-carotene, vitamin E and vitamin C—that have anti-inflammatory benefits. Try roasting sweet potatoes in the oven and drizzling with honey or maple syrup for a warm fall dessert.
Apples are plentiful in fall and have been shown to reduce inflammation through their polyphenol content. They’re great on their own for a quick grab and go snack or are delicious baked with cinnamon sprinkled on top.
The magnesium found in dates has been linked to reduced blood pressure and has anti-inflammatory benefits. Dates are naturally sweet and are great used in baking as an alternative sweetener or an elegant appetizer stuffed with cheese or nuts.
Pumpkin is one of the best sources of alpha- and beta-carotene, which gives pumpkin its orange hue. The seeds are a good source of alpha-linolenic acid, known to fight inflammation. Toast pumpkin seeds in the oven and drizzle with olive oil, sprinkled with sea salt for a delicious fall snack.
Pecans are a traditional fall staple, rich in magnesium and are known to have anti-inflammatory benefits. Pecans are great in salads or as a topping on hot cereal. Toasting pecans enhances their flavor.
Turnip Greens
The greens of this root veggie are an excellent source of vitamin K and omega-3 fatty acids, both known as anti-inflammatory nutrients. Turnip greens are great sautéed or drizzled with a vinaigrette dressing.

 Ginger contains potent anti-inflammatory compounds called gingerols shown to help fight inflammation. Fresh ginger root can be used in teas, baked goods and most commonly in Asian and Indian dishes. Try adding freshly grated ginger to sautéed veggies or rice to spice up any dish.
Eugenol is the main active compound found in allspice, which has been shown to decrease inflammation within the body. Allspice is a warming spice and has the flavors of cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg and pepper. Sprinkle over roasted butternut squash drizzled with olive oil for an easy side dish.
Cloves also contain the compound eugenol. Cloves are a versatile spice and is commonly used in fall recipes, from drinks to meat dishes.
Cinnamon contains compounds with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that may reduce the risk of cellular damage and chronic disease. Use in place of sugar in your morning coffee or tea for an alternative sweetener.

Is social media negatively impacting your health?


Here’s some ways that social media might be negatively impacting your health.

FOMO - the fear of missing out. While we all occasionally experience this in our day-to-day lives, Facebook only further feeds into your fear of being left out of the loop. Your need to stay connected is one of the reasons social media is so pervasive in the first place. You want to know what your peers are up to. An incredibly common phenomenon, FOMO can leave you feeling inferior to your peers and dissatisfied with your own life. FOMO means that you are spending more time than we realize scrolling through your Facebook feed instead of putting forth the effort to enjoy and improve our own life.

This leads us into the next reason why Facebook is more harmful than most people realize:

Facebook gives you a glimpse into the lives of your peers - the restaurants they eat at, the cars they drive, and the clothes they wear. It can be easy to fall into the trap of comparing your life to the image that people present on social media. However, it’s important to remember that most people strive to present their best selves on social media. It’s easy to post the good things and leave out the bad. So next time you find yourself envying one of your Facebook friends, here’s a good tip: take a step back from the screen, take a deep breath, and write yourself a quick list of things you’re thankful for. There’s probably more things on there than you realize.

Addictive Screens
Let’s face it, spending too much time staring at a screen is just plain bad for your health. Spending a lot time on Facebook or on the computer in general can cause serious health issues. From eye strain to bad posture to simply encouraging a sedentary lifestyle, these are all serious risks from spending too much time online. Of course, like anything, moderation is key so if you can’t quite go cold turkey with social media, try to limit your time browsing social media.

5 Ways to Step Away From the Screen

Limiting your social media usage can be a hard habit to break. Instead of simply cutting yourself off from the web, consciously replace your screen time with healthier activities. Your body and mind will thank you.

  1. Go Outside. Put down your phone, slip on a pair of tennis shoes, and head outside for a breath of fresh air. Whether taking a walk around the block or sitting in your backyard and taking in the views, being outdoors is great for your mental health (and the research agrees).

  2. Clean. Although cleaning might be a task you dread, research has shown it’s great for your mental health. Instead of browsing Facebook, take some time each day to declutter your space. Put in a pair of headphones, turn on some music, and get cleaning!

  3. Journal. Taking the time to sit down and reflect on your thoughts and emotions is a great way to improve your mental health, especially in today’s hectic world. Writing down your feelings is a great way to find gratitude in what you have rather than what you don’t.

  4. Call up a Friend. Instead of using Facebook to stay connected, call up a friend to hang out instead. Meeting face-to-face over a cup of coffee is a far better way to stay in touch than liking each other’s statuses every now and then.

  5. Exercise. Trade in 30 minutes of Facebook time for a physical activity: Take a trip to the gym, go for a swim, or ride your bike. Staying active is a fantastic way to keep your mind off social media.

Making peace with your weight

Making peace with your weight

Health at Every Size®: The New Peace Movement

Health at Every Size is very simply, it acknowledges that good health can best be realized independent from considerations of size. It supports people of all sizes in addressing health directly by adopting healthy behaviors.”- Linda Bacon, PhD.

The Health at Every Size® (HAES) definition of a healthy weight would be the weight at which individuals settle as they move toward a more fulfilling and meaningful lifestyle—one that includes eating in an unrestrained manner guided by internal cues and participating in enjoyable, reasonable, and sustainable levels of physical activity. This supports a holistic view of health, with a focus on feeling good about yourself, eating well in a natural and relaxed way, and being comfortably active.

For the HAES belief, thin does not necessarily indicate health and beauty, nor is fat indicative of unhealthiness or being unappealing. The creators of these beliefs believe the differences in our body shapes and sizes and our preferences for food and physical activity are what lead to our uniqueness.

Begin your journey towards loving your body:

  • Make peace with food

  • Eat in response to hunger and internal cues

  • Avoid dieting and overly restricting foods

  • Think of all foods as part of a balanced diet with variety and moderation

  • Accept that there will be times when you eat more than necessary for enjoyment or social reasons, and do so without guilt

Want to learn more? Read the HAES book or check out the HAES website at