Category Archives: Nutrition and Health

Healthy Eating Made Easy-Nutrition 101

Healthy Eating Made Easy

The subject of healthy eating can get very complex, given the shift in dietary trends, and changing nutritional guidelines. Regardless of nutritional beliefs and dietary preferences, using the 5R rule can help make eating well simple and easy. The 5 Rs of eating well are as follows- Keep it Real; Reduce Exposure to Chemicals, Reduce Sugar Intake, Remove Trans Fats and Ramp up the Phytos.

Healthy Eating Rule #1- Keep it Real

Whole foods are nutrient dense foods from nature. These are foods whose nutritional value has not been diminished by refining or processing. These include fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and minimally processed dairy, eggs and meat. It is best to consume animal products from animals who were free to roam on grass and exposed to sunshine as opposed to the ones raised in confined animal feeding operations (CAFO)

Processed foods lack the enzymes that are found in fresh fruits and vegetables. Fruit juice that has been pasteurized, and fortified with artificial Vitamin C is different from fruit juice from a fresh squeezed orange. Fresh squeezed juice retains not only the natural Vitamin C but also all the synergistic flavanoids needed for the proper absorption and assimilation of Vitamin C.  Processed foods are laden with chemicals and artificial ingredients along with added sugar and salt. These play a major role in contributing towards chronic illness such as Cancer, Heart Disease, Diabetes, and Obesity.

Dr. Hyman has rightly observed- “Why do we believe that we can feed our bodies manufactured, nutrient depleted, food like substances, empty of all life and yet remain healthy? How did we come to believe that industrial chemicals and processing could replace what nature produces?”

Shopping at a Farmers Market, or the produce section of the grocery store will help keep most of your meal menu real.

Healthy Eating Rule #2- Reduce Chemical and Pesticide Exposure

The easiest way to eat well is to eat clean. Reduce processed, artificial, and chemical laden food-like substances and pesticide exposure. The complications of overly busy lifestyles tempt us towards convenience- the bait used by the food industry.  So, what can we do for those times when avoiding processed foods is not an option?

If we know what to look for, we can avoid the onslaught of chemicals commonly found in foods by becoming an avid label reader. Some brands are opting out of artificial colors, flavors, preservatives. The list of dirty dozen additives to avoid  has been published by the EWG and you can access it here- .

While grocery shopping, the simplest practice to adopt is to read the ingredient list always. Remember to avoid the food product if sugar is listed as one of the top three ingredients, if the ingredient list is long (more than three or four ingredients) and if it is hard to pronounce the ingredient names.

The best way to avoid high levels of pesticide exposure is to buy local, seasonal, and organic when possible. The dirty dozen produce list (published by are the ones with the highest levels of pesticide residue and are better purchased organic. The list for 2017 includes – Strawberries, apples, potatoes, grapes, nectarines, spinach, peaches, pears, cherries, celery, tomatoes, and hot peppers. For meats and dairy eggs choose organic or pasture raised as much as possible. Avoid processed meats which often contain nitrates and nitrites, which increase the risk for developing cancer.

Healthy Eating Rule #3- Remove or Reduce Sugar

Weight gain and insulin resistance, and other complications that arise from diabetes such as kidney failure, and blindness, can all be attributed to higher blood sugar levels. However, this is not the only problem that sugar poses. Did you know that post high sugar consumption, the immune system can remain depressed for up to 5 hours, making us more prone to infections?

Sugar can sneak in to our diets very easily. It turns out that condiments and sugary beverages-sodas and fruit juices are the major culprit. A can of soda alone (39g or ten tsp) exceeds the allowed dietary sugar intake per day (9 tsp for men and 6 tsp for women) for non-diabetic adults. Consider replacing sodas with kombucha drinks which are both fizzy and digestive tonic, loaded with gut friendly probiotics. Consider diluting fruit juices with water. If you have diabetes, please consider removing these completely or consult with your nutritionist for options. Always read all labels on cereals, breads and condiments and salad dressings, fruit yogurts-choosing <5grams per serving when possible. Avoid artificial sweeteners, although stevia and honey are ok to use sparingly.

Healthy Eating Rule #4- Remove Trans Fats

Trans fats aka partially hydrogenated or hydrogenated oils are commonly found in chips, cookies, fried and packaged foods. The FDA does not require trans-fat labels if the food contains less than 0.5gram/serving. Therefore, reading the ingredient list on packaged foods is important. Remove any foods from your kitchen cabinet that contains hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils- margarine and coffee creamers being the worst offenders.

According to a recent Harvard Health publication, “there never was any good evidence that using margarine instead of butter cut the chances of having a heart attack or developing heart disease. Making the switch was a well intentioned guess, given that margarine had less saturated fat than butter, but it overlooked the dangers of trans fats.” ( Indeed, butter from grass fed cows, can be a very nutrient dense food. However, just like any other fat, portion control is always a good idea.

Extra virgin cold pressed olive oil is still the oil of choice for sautéing. For high temperature cooking coconut oil, grass fed cow butter, ghee, sesame oil, peanut oils and more recently avocado oil may be better choices.  It is best to avoid high temperature cooking, such as frying, as it produces free radicals which are agents of inflammation. Refined vegetable oils are also best avoided as they have not only been stripped of nutrition value but often produce higher levels of free radicals when heated.

Healthy Eating rule #5-Ramp up Phytos

Phytos also known as phytochemicals or phytonutrients are compounds found in plants that protect the plant from disease and have the same effect on humans when consumed. These compounds are key in fighting inflammation and are your single most ally in warding off disease and delaying degenerative ageing processes.

Phytos give fruits and vegetables their deep rich colors and these natural colors.  The easiest way to include these in your diet is to remember 3S- Salads, Smoothies and Spices. If you have diabetes, consuming fruit smoothies can cause a spike in sugar levels. Consider adding some fiber or healthy fats like nuts or flax or pumpkin seeds to your smoothies, along with greens and apples.

In Conclusion

“Every time you eat or drink, you are feeding disease or fighting it.” -Heather Morgan. The food we eat is intimately tied to the quality of our life and health. What is going to be at the end of your fork today?

An egg A Day- How to Read Egg Carton Labels

An Egg a Day and How To Decode Labels on the Carton

Barring any allergies, an egg can be a very nutritionally dense food. A recently published study, out of the University of Finland may bring some hope for egg-lovers. The study shows that an egg a day did not have a significant effect on blood cholesterol levels of genetically susceptible individuals. You can read the study byclicking here.

If you are on a egg-restricted diet, we suggest you check in with your physician, nutritionist or other healthcare provider. Otherwise, go ahead and enjoy this nutritionally dense food. If you are introducing this into your diet for the first time, do not forget to check with your doctor or pharmacist to be sure it does not interfere with your medications.

Egg Labels

When buying eggs, the labels on the cartons can be very confusing ranging from Farm Fresh to Cage Free to Free Range. Additional labels include All Natural, Organic, Certified Humane, Pasture-Raised and Pasteurized…the list goes on. There is an excellent article ion breaking down the different labels and the details of what each one means.You can read it here.
So which one should you buy? My preference is to buy Organic or Certified Humane or Pasture-Raised (different from pasteurized) or better yet, from your  local Farmer’s Market. Many regular grocery stores (not just Whole Foods:)) carries these with prices anywhere from $4-$6/dozen. The extra$$ it costs to avoid the hormone/antiobiotic containing eggs from conventional brands,will pay for itself over time:) There is also the chance that you may fall for the taste of these “non-conventional/industrially raised” eggs. Who said healthy cannot be yummy? So enjoy that egg but know what you are getting.

Epigenetics- How Food Impacts Your DNA

What is Epigenetics?

Epigenetics is the study, in the field of genetics, of cellular and physiological phenotypic trait variations that are caused by external or environmental factors that switch genes on and off and affect how cells read genes instead of being caused by changes in the DNA sequence. (wikipedia)

How Does Food Impact your DNA?

Your DNA can be impacted by the food you eat. To find out more watch the video interview below with Dr. David Perlmutter, renowned neurologist.

What we put in our mouth can have a far greater impact than we realize.

Hope you enjoy this video. Another great resource to check out is the book, Pottengers Prophecy : How Food Resets Genes for Wellness or Illness by Gray Graham.

Cheers to healthy eating:)

NSAIDS and Your Heart

NSAIDS and Heart Attack Warning

NSAIDS can cause heart attacks. The FDA has recently strengthened its warning against ibuprofen/NSAIDS now stating that they indeed increase your chances of having a heart attack or stroke as opposed to their previous stand that it may cause the same.

Watch this Video to find out more!

What Can You Do?

If you suffer from chronic pain, please consult your physician to determine the lowest possible dosage for the shortest possible time. These medications are common over the counter but need to be taken with caution and discretion. Using other wellness modalities like nutrition, exercise, acupuncture etc can also help reduce chronic pain flare ups.

In general always consider using at least two lifestyle modifications for every pill that you take. This will help cut back on how many pills you need and lower your medical costs as well. You can refer to my blog post on pills and skills. Always work closely with your doctor when it comes to medications!!




Calories or chemicals

Are you counting Calories or Chemicals? As health conscious individuals, we have been conditioned to count calories only, but are we paying attention to chemicals that are sabotaging our health and well-being?

Among other issues, food additives have been linked to obesity, digestive problems, ADD and cancer. How many of us are paying attention to food labels, ingredients lists?

I am not a fan of processed foods and would advocate never eating anything for which you have to read the label but there are times that we may need to (not a perfect world, right?) The busy holiday season is a perfect example.  Even with the best of planning and cooking, we may be tempted to grab some stuff “out of a box” or buy precooked thanksgiving/ Christmas meals. It is for those times we need to be armed with education to make the right decision. When preparing your own meals, for fruits and veggies choose, locals, seasonal and organic as much as possible. For meats choose pasture raised, organic when possible.

For any “food like” food out of a box please make sure to read labels and choose the brands with the shortest possible list and ingredient names you can pronounce.

How to Lose Weight in 5 Simple Steps

Do you want to learn how to lose weight and keep it off? Have you starved yourself, lost some weight and then gained it all back? Tried yo-yo dieting and failed? Are you tired of counting calories? What about trying a bunch of different types diets and then plateaued? Although some of these diets work well for some people, when it comes to weight loss, there is NO magic bullet that can substitute for a healthy lifestyle.

In this post I will show you how to lose weight in 5 Simple Steps   using a holistic approach to weight loss that also brings the additional benefit of overall health and well-being.

  1. Avoid Processed Foods and Eat WHOLE Foods

The chemicals and additives in processed foods add up quickly. These toxins if not eliminated successfully, are stored in fat cells leading to weight gain. High fructose corn syrup and artificial sweeteners like aspartame (found in diet foods and drinks) found in many processed foods, also contributes to weight gain. You can click here to read about HFCS and its associated risks and link to obesity and diabetes. The surest way to gain weight is to rely on fast foods and convenient foods even if you are counting calories. The chemical additives are enough to make you gain weight and to create a cycle of constant eating (some of these chemicals keep us from satiating creating a constant feeling of hunger). Avoiding processed foods is possible with the help of meal planning. You can read about it in my blog post here. If you need additional help with meal planning you may also contact us at


  1. Avoid Sodas and Fruit Juices and Hydrate Yourself

Ensure proper hydration by drinking clean filtered water not from a plastic container, if possible We need to drink at least half (in oz) our body weight (in lbs.). Although drinking water is good for you, do not over do this. Some people have been known to actually dehydrate from drinking too much water (it affects your body’s electrolyte balance). Chugging down your daily quota of water intake at one time is not going to help either. Sip it throughout the day.

Avoiding plastic containers will also reduce your exposure to BPA which has also been implicated in weight gain. Avoid sodas and packaged fruit juices both of which lead to huge insulin spikes which result in subsequent weight gain. A can of soda contains ~39g of sugar. The allowed amount of sugar per day by the World Health Organization is less than 25g. A can of soda is almost double that and results in huge insulin spikes. Additional contribution to both obesity and diabetes from the High Fructose Corn Syrup, often used to sweeten sodas, does not help. Ditch the soda! Try to drink water flavored with organic berries instead. Many people are taking to Kombucha and sparkling water to help control their cravings for soda. I like to drink water with lemon instead of soda. If you cannot drink plain water, try these for now. Whatever you do, ditch that soda! Properly hydrating is key to controlling sugar cravings that contribute to excess calories and insulin spikes.


  1. Balance Your Blood Sugars

Eat Low on the Glycemic Index ( avoiding foods that are high on glycemic index will help control insulin spikes that lead to both diabetes and obesity. The Harvard Medical School lists the GI for most common fruits, veggies and other foods. You can click here to find out more.

  1. Eat Healthy Fats and Avoid Low Fat and Trans Fats

Eat healthy fats like organic grass fed butter, coconut oil, avocados, organic extra virgin cold pressed olive oil, walnuts and almonds and other organic nuts and seeds like flax seed and wild caught salmon (omega 3). Low fat foods are laden with sugar and in fact contribute to weight gain. Avoid cooking with vegetable oils which turn into trans- fats upon heating. Even packaged foods that say zero trans fats have at least 0.5 g or less trans fats per serving. An excellent resource on how healthy fats promote weight loss is the book by Ann Louise Gittleman, “Eat Fat Lost Weight” and the “Fat Flush Plan”. Healthy fats help satiate and chewing your food well has the same effect-optimizes digestion to provide proper nutrient absorption which has a role in controlling cravings and hunger (among other benefits, I can do an entire blog post on the benefits of chewing your food). For our weight loss purposes, properly chewing is a helpful tool. At least 30 chews per bite but at least do half of that!

  1. Sleep, Relax and Exercise

Don’t forget the importance of adequate sleep and exercise and to keep stress at bay. The stress hormone cortisol can pile on belly fat. Meditating and praying, deep breathing, journaling, talking to your best friend, going on nature walks will all help reduce stress.

All the above lifestyle changes will provide your body with all the raw materials it needs to keep you healthy and at an optimum weight. Skinny is not healthy either. You can find our the % body fat that is optimum for healthy individuals by accessing this comprehensive guide from Sports Fitness Advisor by clicking here.

Ideally the waist circumference should measure <40inches for men and <35 inches for women.

Most of us can benefit from following the above lifestyle recommendations. Some people will notice a huge difference just from giving up the sodas and sugary snacks alone. Because of our unique individual body types, some people may see results in as little as a week where others of us may not get past the point that we would like to overcome in our weight loss journey. If you feel like you have put your best foot forward and are not seeing the results you want, it may be time to consult with a practitioner that can guide you better. Often times, there are hormonal imbalances that need to be addressed. However, there is no substitute for a adopting a healthy lifestyle. It can only help!

If you need additional help with implementing these lifestyle skills, do not hesitate to contact us at (919) 964-0363 or e-mail us at ( We will be happy to serve you by tailoring out health coaching to best meet your needs.

I would love to hear your thoughts, any additional tips you have to share! Let us know how these suggestions work out for you!

Cholesterol and Statin Drugs

If you are on statin drugs for lowering cholesterol, it may behoove you to consider supplementation with CoQ10 according to a recent research study. You can click here to read more. This study describes How Statin drugs stimulate atherosclerosis. The FDA has also expanded advice on statin risks. Also, while considering supplements, pay attention to quality. The list of inactive ingredients often contain colors and dyes as well as preservatives (especially questionable is the polysorbate class of additives which are probable carcinogen). Steer clear of these.

Given the risks associated with these drugs and the fact that high cholesterol levels are often due to lifestyle factors, it makes sense to commit ourselves to a lifestyle that supports healthy cholesterol levels. If you are on these medications, please consider implementing the following “skills” to help reduce your need for these statin drugs.

-a diet rich in fiber and low in sugars ( ironically “low fat” foods are often laden with sugar)

-eat whole foods which are as close to nature as possible. Eat organic when possible. You can get a “Guide to buying organic fruits and vegetables” by either entering your e-mail on our home page, optin section or from the Environmental Working Group.

-quit smoking and avoid second hand smoke

-replace vegetable oils with healthier alternatives like organic extra virgin olive oil for sauteing. Avoid fried foods altogether.

-avoid processed foods and fast foods


-stress reduction through whatever strategy works best for you-meditation, journalling, sitting or walking in nature, spending time with your best friend etc.

If you are on statin drugs, please do NOT simply quit cold turkey. You must work with your physician as you begin to modify your lifestyle and have your cholesterol levels checked periodically (you and your physician can determine how often). Let your physician adjust your dosage as they deem fit. Your part is to commit to a healthier lifestyle and work closely with your physician.

Any lifestyle modifications, when consistently followed, may lead to reduction (or elimination) of your medication.

Invest in self care and which has the wonderful side effect of lower medical bills and a improved quality of life.



Pills and Skills Model of Health Care

The Pills and Skills Model of Healthcare

Self care is the best health care. World renowned physician, Dr. William Sears proposes the “Pills and Skills” health care model. This model requires that we partner with our physician to take charge of our health. The partnership begins with a shift in paradigm in the case of both the physician and the patient. The doctor must ask, “What can I advise?” instead of “What can I prescribe?” The patient must ask, “What can I do?” instead of “What can I take?”

We must resolve to implement at least two skills for every pill that we take. We do not replace the pills with the skills but add the skills to our lifestyle and medication routine. For example, if you are on blood pressure meds, without throwing out your meds, two skills you can implement are cutting back on caffeine and processed foods (that are very high in sodium) and do moderate exercise consistently. In the same way cutting back processed and refined carbs and including more fiber rich foods as well as exercise can help reduce cholesterol levels. Be aware that for every skill you choose to implement in a committed and consistent manner, your dosage of medicine may need to be reduced!! Hence, the importance of partnering with your doctor and periodically monitoring your blood levels.  This health care model will help reduce your medical bills in the long run.

Remember 2 skills for every pill. HEALTH CARE should be about SELF CARE


Healthy Snacks “on the go”

I am sharing some of my favorite “on the go” healthy snacks today. Barring any food intolerances or allergies, these can be a quick and healthy fix for those hunger pangs, in between meals. When faced with hunger pangs, I have often been tempted to grab the most sugary snack available. However, with a little planning ahead and stocking up on my “on the go”  healthy snacks  helps me grab the right kind of snack when I need it. For those of you who work away from home, it helps to store some of these (like nuts) in your office desk 🙂

A low glycemic fruit (such as medium sized apple) with a little bit (1/4-1/2 tsp organic peanut butter)

  1. Nuts! Nuts! Nuts!:) Walnuts and almonds make a great snack mix. Of course, I don’t drown myself in these. A few, usually are enough to satisfy. If you have a nut allergy, try chia or pumpkin or sunflower seeds.
  2. Greek yogurt (which has higher protein content than regular yogurt, preferably organic)
  3. Carrot and/or celery with hummus
  4. Dark chocolate (do not over do this!)                                                                                                                                                                                             Caution: Fruits in general are healthy but can cause issues in people with blood sugar regulation issues (diabetes, hypoglycemia, metabolic syndrome, obesity). Adding some nuts or nut butter to a controlled portion size fruit may help buffer the situation. When on snacking fruits such as apples, choosing organic advisable. The Environmental Working Group reports high pesticide levels in conventional apples. The Harvard Medical School Publication below lists the glycemic index/glycemic load of fruits, vegetables and other foods.

If you have a sugar craving during snack time, try to sprinkle a little cinnamon in your snack and see if that helps.

Your healthy snack ideas are welcome too!

Meal Planning Tips

Healthy Eating without Burning a Hole in Your Pocket is possible using this simple tool-meal planning.

“The food you eat can be either the safest and most powerful form of medicine, or the slowest form of poison.” (Ann Wigmore) With a little bit of planning, food can be medicine indeed with some $$$ savings as a side effect:)

In this post, I break down meal planning into 3 simple steps. Investing some time upfront on this will go a long way to save your health and your $$$. This project can be fun and once you invest the time initially, weekly planning will take hardly any time! Of course, it doesn’t have to be weekly. Some like to do it one month at a time. I like to do it weeklyJ

Step 1

Make a list of all the Vegetables, Fruits, Grains, Meats and Snack options that you enjoy and make sure to include as many as you can to give yourself more options (in case you get bored). For example, my list of veggies has avocadoes, bell peppers, Brussel sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, celery, carrots, tomatoes, onions, okra, garlic, peas, beets, eggplant, squashes, leafy greens, sweet potatoes and so on…

My list of fruits include: Berries, apples, mangoes, papaya, grapes, oranges, cantaloupe, honey dew, water melon, peaches, lemons, pear and pineapple. Again, your list may look different. Choose organic or local produce, when possible.

My list of snacks includes-carrots and celery with humus, nuts, apple and nut butters

Your list in each category can certainly be longer/different.

My list of grains: Qunioa, brown rice, multi grain flour (avoid if allergic to gluten). Also, I soak all my grains and lentils prior to cooking-easy on digestionJ If you choose Paleo, you can skip the grains.

My list of meats is very short-pasture raised chicken and salmon or cod fish. Yours can be much longer-just make sure to get meats from a quality source (preferably local farmer or co-op/grass fed).


The next step is to identify recipes around the foods on your list. This may be the most challenging part for some of us. Never fear. Time to call mom or grandma for family favorite secrets J You may also search your local library for cook books or the internet-google and pinterest- of course! This step may take the longest. Personally, it is the one I enjoy the most. However, if you are pressed for time check out The above site provides an overview of all the different websites which will help you create recipes from ingredients. For those who prefer Paleo, you can check out

The thing to be sure when following recipes, is that we make healthy substitutions, when possible. Ex: replace margarine or PAM cooking spray with grass fed butter or extra virgin olive oil or extra virgin coconut oil (organic where possible). Another healthy substitution is quinoa or brown rice for white rice. Whatever you do, make sure it is something you will enjoy eating. Let us not forget to eat for pleasure as well-Remember healthy does not have to mean boring!

Step 3

Use blank meal planning templates (pinterest and google gives you a variety to choose from) or better yet there are meal planning apps like Meal Board ( as well as sample meal plans at


Eat organic or local, when possible. Not all our fruits and vegetables need to be purchased organic. The Environmental Working Dozen publishes a list of the “dirty dozen” each year. These are high in pesticide and should be purchased organic. They renew the list every year. The “dirty dozen” for 2015 from the EWG is as follows- apples, peaches, nectarines, berries, grapes, celery, spinach/kale, cucumbers, sweet bell peppers, cherry tomatoes, snap peas, potatoes. These should be purchased organic when possible. Sometimes organic frozen is cheaper than the fresh. I have found this to be true especially of berries (unless the fresh ones are on sale). Do not forget to like the Facebook page of some organic brands to gain access to coupons. When possible purchase quality meats as well. Elizabeth Wilson (financial coach, debt management) has some tips for doing this without breaking the bankJ Her blog post has some great money saving tips!!

Meal planning using these three simple steps should ease some of the stress of preparing meals at home. If you are not used to cooking your meals, start with the simplest recipes possible ( My personal favorite is the chickpea cucumber salad with organic yogurt on the side.

Remember that change takes time. Baby steps are never a waste. Start somewhere. Bulk cooking with a friend over the weekend and storing in a freezer can help you get off to a reasonable start.

Your suggestions, thoughts and comments are welcome!



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