Popular Phrases That Don’t Support Whole Body Health

If we’re going to partner with our bodies for whole body healing, we need to understand that the way we choose to talk to our bodies about our choices of nourishment impacts the way we digest and utilize nutrients. A body in stress won’t digest! Our thoughts pave the way for everything that happens on an intercellular level. If we are stressed about our food choices, it alters the way we digest.

Does what you put into your body impact your health? Of course! But what you tell yourself about your food and your body determines if you can access “rest and digest,” which is important for healing and restoration.

During a meal, we want to be relaxed, filled with gratitude, and completely present in our bodies to load our senses with the pleasure-filled experience of eating.

I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again. Food is not just fuel. Food is comfort, healing, information, and nourishment on so many levels.

Continue reading “Popular Phrases That Don’t Support Whole Body Health”

Artificial Sweeteners and Cancer: What’s the Connection?

Breaking news: A HUGE study, published in March 2022, showed that people who consumed high amounts of aspartame were associated with a 22% higher risk of developing breast cancer and 15% higher risk of developing obesity-related cancers. Other sweeteners that were included in the study were sucralose (Splenda) and acesulfame potassium, though 58% of the participants consumed aspartame.

The cohort study was initiated in France in 2009, and looked at the diet of 102,685 people. It’s important to note that almost all of the participants consumed less than the government-recommended allowable daily intake… so it’s not like they were consuming it all day long, all the time. Even a small amount seemed to make a difference in health outcomes.

Artificial sweeteners can be found in:

  • Gum
  • Diet drinks
  • Light yogurt
  • Pedialyte
  • Microwave popcorn
  • Whole wheat bread and English muffins
  • “Carb balance” tortillas
  • Some protein powders and health bars (including Pure Protein and Quest)
  • Sugar free candy
  • Sugar free coffee syrups
  • Energy drinks
  • Sugar free ice cream and other desserts

Aspartame has long been linked to tumors in mice, but other artificial sweeteners (including Splenda/sucralose) are also linked to depression, anxiety, ADHD, cognitive decline, insulin resistance, weight gain, cardiovascular disease, and microbial imbalances (which affect everything else).

Continue reading “Artificial Sweeteners and Cancer: What’s the Connection?”

Favorite Foods for Brain Health

I love supporting my mental health through nutrients from food. When I stopped dieting and started focusing on ADDING colorful variety and nutrient density, it was a much needed mindset change.

This helped me to learn to listen to my body’s needs, instead of viewing my body as a project I needed to perfect and relying on diet and food companies’ marketing instead of my own intuition.

I spent many years choosing food items with the marketing phrases “diet,” “reduced fat,” “low fat,” “low calorie,” and “sugar free,” never knowing that those things were harming my mental health.

It has been so freeing to find what nourishes my unique body and not being enslaved to anyone else’s rules. These three categories (protein, veggies, and fiber) are things I have learned make me feel great when I include them every day!

What are your must haves? My guess is yours might look different than mine, which is a beautiful, bioindividual thing!

The Benefits of Carbs for Your Brain

To carb or not to carb? It seems it is always the debate in nutrition these days.

Yes, we need carbs, and carbs support our mental health.

The top benefits of carbohydrates for mental health are:

  1. They feed good gut bugs and create a more diverse microbiome.
  2. They help us sleep better!
  3. They improve mood health.
  4. They keep stress hormones in check.

Continue reading “The Benefits of Carbs for Your Brain”

The Items I Always Include on My Grocery List

Every week, usually Thursday or Friday, my husband and I plan our meals for the following week. We choose three meals, without a specific day in mind when we’ll make them, which gives us room for leftovers or unexpected events. We are pretty flexible, loosely scheduled people – so this works for us.

While the meals vary because I can’t have the same thing every week for dinner, there are some items on our list that don’t change. Since I like to leave wiggle room for the unexpected, there are pantry and fridge stocking items that I always try to include – just in case.

What follows are the items I make sure to have present as much as possible. They’re in no particular order, but I may have saved the best for last. 🙂

Continue reading “The Items I Always Include on My Grocery List”

Why Cutting Calories Creates Long-term Chaos

Are you cutting calories to lose weight?

A recent groundbreaking study, authored by 17 experts in the field, was published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition called, “The Carbohydrate-insulin Model: a Physiological Perspective on the Obesity Pandemic.”

This study highlights these important areas:

  • An excess of calories doesn’t cause fat storage.
  • Caloric restriction often decreases metabolic rate and increases hunger.
  • What the energy source is made up of makes a difference in how the body digests and utilizes it,
  • Processed, easily digestible carbohydrates signal a cascade of hormonal and metabolic shifts that lead to fat storage and HUNGER.

The Energy Balance model has always stated that when you consume more calories (energy) than what you expend, you will store fat. What we are learning (and seeing in real time) is that it isn’t so much the calorie quantity as it is the quality. WHAT you consume will cause metabolic changes in the body, because not all calories are alike. A chronic restriction of calories alone can cause your basal metabolic rate to decrease, while driving the body weight “set point” up.

Restricting calories and consuming a lot of foods with a high glycemic load causes your body to absorb glucose quickly while also decreasing metabolic fuel concentration so soon afterward that your brain then believes it is depleted of energy sources (called “cellular semistarvation”) and will soon elicit hunger and cravings, so that the cycle keeps perpetuating. Whew! This requires a lot of work on your body’s part!

I don’t share this to stress anyone out. If you’ve been reading my blog or listening to my podcast, I don’t do the diet thing. But I do want to encourage people to partner with their bodies in order to find a place of healing and wholeness. The best way to lighten the stress load from a nutritional standpoint is to focus on whole food sources that are fiber-rich and help assist the glucose response.

Continue reading “Why Cutting Calories Creates Long-term Chaos”

Tips for Kids’ Back-to-School Anxiety

It’s back to school time – which means a time of heightened anxiety for some kids.

There are so many supportive tools to help with a “brain that is always awake” (to quote one of my children, when explaining his overactive, sensitive mind).

Because our calming neurotransmitters are formed in the gut, optimizing nutrition makes a huge impact on brain health, so it’s a bottom-up approach as well as top-down. Remember – if your child isn’t getting or digesting protein well, he or she may not be making the neurotransmitters they need for calming/stress relief. So sometimes a little support can help, but nutrition is key!

There are so many safe, evidence-based tools to help our children thrive during times of anxiety.

Continue reading “Tips for Kids’ Back-to-School Anxiety”

Five Triggers for Anxiety (That Your Doctor Might Not Tell You About)

What’s Behind Your Anxiety?

If you struggle with anxiety or depression, you know it affects your entire life. It affects how you move (or don’t move), your concentration, your ability to sleep, your interactions with others, even your bathroom habits. Because anxiety is on the rise, and won’t be going anywhere anytime soon, I want to share some little-known triggers for anxiety that you may not be hearing about from anyone else!

Like everything I share, remember that your body’s response to food or internal/external stressors is individual to YOU. What is a trigger for one person might not be a trigger for you. Being aware of how your unique body responds to this world is only something you can determine.

Five triggers for your anxiety that your doctor might not tell you about: 

  1. Artificial sweeteners and dyes – not only do they disrupt nervous system function, but sucralose decreases beneficial gut bacteria and aspartame increases anxiety and depression (just another reason to lay off the Diet Coke). Sweeteners can also negatively impact blood sugar – which can increase panic attacks! Food dyes may trigger “mind-storms,” which are issues with the brain’s wiring or electrical activity. No bueno!
  2. Too much screen time – blue light from screens can suppress the hormone melatonin which is needed for restful sleep. Screens can also disrupt the calming neurotransmitter Gaba, along with serotonin – the happy one.
  3. Magnesium deficiency – magnesium calms your nervous system and prevents the creation of excess cortisol, the stress hormone. Some call it “nature’s Xanax.” It’s needed for just about every process in the body. It’s found in nuts, seeds, legumes, and leafy greens, but it’s also an inexpensive supplement! Two of my favorite formulations are the Plexus one, here, or Nutritional Frontiers, here.
  4. Excess caffeine – a little is fine, but too much can stimulate the fight or flight response and trigger racing thoughts, or even panic attacks. Some people metabolize it slower than others, so keep that in mind when you have your afternoon coffee or tea break – your mind might be racing at 1 am!
  5. Stored trauma that hasn’t been addressed – trauma can keep our bodies in that constant fight or flight state, which can lead to poor sleep, inability to concentrate, and panic attacks. Fortunately, there are a wide range of trauma therapies, and many mind-body strategies available to help your body unlock trauma and heal! EMDR and EFT (tapping) are two of the most popular. The wellness center I work with has some amazing trauma therapists and resources here.

Honorable mention:
Blood sugar issues: when we’re riding that blood sugar roller coaster it can cause all sorts of poor mental health symptoms. Limit sugar consumption to limit the swing. Consume plenty of fiber-rich vegetables, brain-boosting fats and quality protein with each meal. Many times we fail to fill up on necessary nutrients so we stay hungry, reaching for quick fix glucose fuel and perpetuating the cycle of brain fog and hunger.

Poor digestion: If you can’t digest protein, you can’t make the neurotransmitters needed for mental health. Period. You know that old saying, “you are what you eat?” It’s not true. It should be, “You are what you are able to digest.” When we can’t create serotonin from our food nutrients, we can’t access melatonin either, which affects mood AND sleep. Taking digestive enzymes and working on gut health can help, something I love helping people with!

The next round of Feast 2 Fast, an online coaching group that pairs science-based nutrition principles with timeless spiritual truth to reset your mind, body, and soul starts May 3. Join the wait list here – or contact me directly for more coaching options!

You Are What You Think

img_6249

And let me take that further. You are what you think about what you eat.

Every thought you think is a chemical messenger that sends signals to the rest of your body. Your body doesn’t know the difference between a real threat or a perceived threat.

Let that sink in. The physical effect of a negative thought, whether it is reality or not, will have a negative impact on your entire body.

If you’re stressing about every bite you take and how many calories or points it is – your body will only hear “I am stressed and fearful.”

If you’re beating yourself up for a bad macro ratio, or you didn’t put the right amounts in the right colored containers, your body will hear, “She’s freaking out, time to activate survival mode.” Your digestion will suffer, and so will your hormonal health, blood pressure, and much more – including your immune system. (Psst – if you don’t believe me, look up the studies on psychoneuroimmunology – it’s pretty fascinating)

Change the way you talk about your body. Change the way you talk about your food. Your body is on your side, and will pick up on the signals you send it.

Eat what nourishes you, and be grateful for all the processes your body incorporates to keep you healthy and safe! Toxic thoughts are toxic for your body. It’s time to change the script you read to yourself every day!

For more on this, check out my various coaching programs!

Should You Practice Fasting?

Should you try fasting this year?

That’s a hot topic question right now!

Fasting is a practice that has been implemented for thousands of years for a variety of reasons. It isn’t a dieting trend, though it is often misunderstood as another weight loss quick fix. While there are plenty health experts promoting it as a great option to bring balance to your body, optimize insulin sensitivity and support digestion, there are others who treat fasting as if it’s a type of starvation tool that will lead to an eating disorder.

This is why fasting must be addressed with an individualized approach – what I teach in my Feast 2 Fast program!

Most people can benefit from different types of fasts, whether it is a true water fast, or fat fast, or even a bone broth fast. It is a good way to improve your health, and it can be a beneficial spiritual discipline as well.

The majority of studies on the trendy 16:8 style of intermittent fasting have been done on men and postmenopausal women, so it’s important for women who still have a menstrual cycle to nourish hormones and not restrict food too much at all cycle phases. That can really backfire and cause stress to your body!

My advice? Start with a 12 hour fast. Everyone can benefit from a 12 hour break between their last meal and first meal. And hey – if you’re sleeping 8 hours at night most of your fasting will happen then, which makes it even easier!

Want to make fasting work for you, while also learning how to incorporate more nutrient density into your real life? Join my four week Feast 2 Fast program that starts January 4!

This program is one of the most science-based approaches to health I have seen! But we don’t just target physical health; that’s secondary. Every day you will receive nourishment for your soul in the form of a short devotional. We even meet weekly on Zoom to individualize our approaches to even more!

For more details, and to sign up, click here

Past Participants Say This:

“Through Feast 2 Fast I learned to listen to the natural cues from my body. After years of dieting I had stopped listening to the natural cues like hunger. Feast 2 Fast slowed me down and forced me to listen and learn what is best for my body and not just follow it because some ‘diet’ tells me it’s right. It literally brought joy back to my relationship with food!!” – Jen

“The feast to fast program allowed me to stop and really think about the way food affects me. It was truly like a reset and I now feel more in-tune with my body and mind! I lost a lot more weight than I expected and gained confidence in my ability to listen to my body!! That is priceless!” – Laura

Join the program here!