Is Using Social Media Healthy?

Do you do any of the following?

- Have your phone out on the table at meals 

-  Have the desire to know where your phone is at all times

- Respond to texts/emails while you are in the company of other people. 

- Find yourself checking your phone compulsively

- Spend time when you first wake up on social media

Yes?  Hm....then read on.....

Recently, I went to Cuba for a week, and outside of enjoying all the great art and salsa dancing, one thing I did NOT miss was being on the internet.  I just got used to going around without my phone, and I didn't really miss being connected.  Of course it helped being in a beautiful place that was incredibly stimulating, but I was transported to a life before the craze of smart phones and I felt...  pretty darn free.  

If you are like me, you are quite attached to your smartphone.  I use the excuse that I use social media for my business, which I do, but I also spend endless hours scrolling through my facebook and instagram feeds and reading random articles, like how many celebrities don't use make up, and I also get to see all of the vacations and baby pictures of friends and acquaintances, which is actually something I appreciate.  It's not all bad.  However, it was the last thing I did at night, and the first thing I did in the morning.  And those behaviors I listed at the top?  I'm totally, 100% guilty of doing all of them. 

In Cuba, it takes some effort to get online.  You have to go to a hotel, buy a card, log in.  I checked facebook a few times down there, and every time, I realized that I didn't really need to know anything that was on there.  Did this ADD to my life?  I started to also realize that it was TAKING AWAY from giving my full attention to things.  When I find myself checking email when I'm with my friends, or mindlessly scrolling through while I'm eating...  there's a behavior here that's not in my best interest. 

Since I've returned, I've taken facebook off my phone, and it's incredible the retraining I have to do.  There is an incredible pull to check my phone, and it turns out there's a physiological reason for it.  

The unpredictability of when we will receive a text, or a like, or a share, kicks our dopamine release into high gear.  Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that is one of our feel good chemicals. Dopamine helps us seek out rewards again and again.  Every time we see a text, or a like, we receive a little dopamine release.  Dopamine also helps us to anticipate these little pings from our phone, so you find yourself checking your phone repeatedly to see if someone contacted you...  it makes sense right?  

There are many studies out there that link social media use to depression, a few I've linked below.  There was an interesting article in the New Yorker, differentiating between the difference between actively and passively engaging in social media, facebook in particular.  The article described a greater sense of loneliness when passively scrolling through content, and an enhancement of mood when people were actively engaged.   I think this is an important point to make, and the constant access to facebook was just making me more of a passive user.

So enough!  I want to make a change!  Here are some behaviors I'm working on: 

1)  Putting my phone on airplane mode at night so I'm not subject to pinging and distractions while I'm snoozing (you could also argue that you are not being exposed to radiation...check out the EWG latest release on the dangers of cellphone) 

2) Taking facebook and the most egregious time wasters off my phone.  I still see benefits from using social media, but I can easily access these sites from my computer.  I don't need access all day, every day.  

3) Putting my phone away during meals and friend hang out times.  There's no need for me to check messages and answer emails when I'm doing self care time, which includes eating meals and spending quality time with friends.  Plus, it feels rude when other people are texting or on their phones when we are hanging out.  I don't want to do that to others.  

4)  Consider doing a media challenge!  I had a client do a media break, which included watching TV and being on her phone after she came home from work that I think is a great idea.  (You know who you are!  Shout out!) 

5)  Remember what we used to do BEFORE social media?  Reading a book maybe?  Practicing music, knitting, going for a hike.  Think of all the things you feel like you don't have time for... and start doing them.  

So far, despite the cravings I have to check my phone, I'm really enjoying being on social media less.  Last Monday I went to go see free music at the Starline Social Club in Oakland... live music!  What a treat!  There really is a LOT to do out there, so let's get back to doing it.

Do you have a trick or an activity that you'd like to get back to when you decide to take a break from social media?  Share with us in the comments below!  

Happy Nourishing all....






Show Some Love to Your Gut Bacteria with Fermented Foods

When you hear the word ‘fermented,’ your mouth probably doesn’t start to water. It sounds a little funky, and you have more than likely left some fruit or vegetables in a container for too long… and witnessed a fermentation process begin. Despite the not so appetizing word, fermented foods have AMAZING benefits and can be a delicious addition to your everyday diet.

Fermentation (more specifically, lacto fermentation) is a process in which natural bacteria feeds on the sugar and starch in a particular food and converts it into lactic acid. This process not only preserves the food, but it also produces a bouquet of super beneficial enzymes, vitamins, Omega-3 fatty acids, and various strains of probiotic bacteria. Lactic acid inhibits putrefying bacteria and encourages the proliferation of live, beneficial bacteria. From an animated perspective, think of it this way: the consumption of fermented foods infuses our body with healthy, living microorganisms that instantly get to work realigning our bodies. Sounds a little strange, doesn’t it? 

When ingested, these bacterial colonies start to populate the intestinal track and essentially train the immune system. From recolonizing the digestive track with health bacteria (creating a happy, healthy gut) to keeping our flora balanced, fermented foods result in a whole body wellness.

Historically, fermented foods have been an important part of nutrition in many cultures around the world. Sauerkraut is a favorite in Germany, Kimchi in Korea, and in other parts of Europe, sourdough bread is made from naturally fermented dough. Even the ancient Greeks understood the benefits of this transformational process and often referred to it as ‘alchemy.’ As an important part of traditional diets, modern studies have begun to again focus on the plethora of benefits and many people are integrating these foods back into their regular diet.

There are a lot these foods you can get at your local market, and just as many that you can make at home. The process really just requires attention being paid to using the right ingredients and keeping everything clean (to avoid introduction of unwanted, harmful bacteria). When buying, be sure to pay attention to the fermentation process and avoid any commercialized versions. Additionally, try to cut out sugar as much as possible (want to Kick the Sugar with us?), for it feeds the bacteria we want to get rid of.

As you embark on your journey towards a traditional diet, you’ll notice that this transition is multi-faceted. Don’t let that overwhelm you. In the Nourished Belly Diet, Tammy talks about the different levels of participation when moving to a whole-foods, traditional diet. Take it steps that are comfortable for you, and experiment with different foods and pairings. As you increase your fermented food intake, you’ll notice a happy, healthy belly.

Written by Ashley Green 


Weston A Price Foundation: Lacto Fermentation

The Nourished Kitchen: Fermented Foods for Gut Health

What We Can Learn From Traditional Diets

My first introduction to the Weston A Price philosophy was through the book, Nourishing Traditions, by Sally Fallon Morell. It was one of the first books I read on nutrition about 10 years ago, and everything that was in that book was fascinating. It’s a great overview of basic nutrition as well, which at the time, really blew my mind (as is my book!) As I moved to California, I began noticing Nourishing Traditions in multiple kitchens, and began to explore the literature that the Weston A Price foundation put out. During my time in nutrition school, I also had the luck of apprenticing at Three Stone Hearth, a community supported kitchen in Berkeley that specifically follows the Weston A Price philosophy when they prepare their foods. I personally don’t follow EVERYTHING (they love raw milk, and while I love it too, I can’t drink that much or no one will like me). It’s definitely worthwhile to learn a bit more about Weston A Price’s life and work. Here we go. What you are about to read is the research that Nourished Belly Intern, Ashley Green, put together! Amazing job Ashley!

Dr. Weston A Price, a Cleveland dentist, began a journey to discover the factors responsible for good dental health. What was discovered, led to so much more.

For over 10 years, Price traveled around the world to isolated, indigenous communities. Through personal investigation, he studied these populations, yet to be touched by Western culture, and observed their dental health in alignment with their overall health. His studies led to the conclusion that poor dental health (conditions like deformed dental arches, cavities, and decay) resulted from nutrition deficiencies rather than genetic defects. His findings also showed the vast differences in overall health characteristics between these populations and those of Western culture. Freedom from degenerative ills, healthy bodies, emotional stability, and flourishing reproductive health, was a significant departure from what he saw in populations of Western culture. He often looked at generations that had left to live in cities, and saw that many of the degenerative diseases would take root once a person had taken on a western way of eating.

So what are the main principles of the Weston A Price Philosophy? Still suggested and practiced today, the main principles of following a traditional diet and lifestyle suggest that you follow these principles throughout your day to day life.

In summary, traditional diets focus on three key components:

  • Significant consumption of organic animal proteins, fats, and dairy products. The typical fat content ranges between 30-80%, and comes from the animal fats that provide essential nutrients, difficult to obtain from other sources.
  • Avoid all processed and refined foods. Sugars, artificial additives, hydrogenated vegetable oils, pasteurized milk, white flour, and canned foods.
  • Consumption of natural, whole foods- vegetables, tropical fruits, and seeds, grains, and nuts that are soaked, sprouted, or fermented to decrease the naturally occurring anti-nutrients and reap the most nutritional benefit.

As with any practice or philosophy, there comes adversity and skepticism. The findings and publications of the Weston A Price Foundation have been scrutinized by varying professionals in the health and wellness field. Arguments over what a healthy diet consists of, dangers of particular practices, and comparisons with what the US Department of Agriculture recommends in their proposed Dietary guidelines, all lead to health conscious individuals battling with themselves over who and what to believe.

So do we assume this lifestyle?

One very important thing to understand, is that no health practice comes in a one size fits all. Every individual is different. There are factors from the environment, genetics, etc., that determine how our bodies work and what works best for them. When choosing a lifestyle practice, whatever it may be, it is important to recognize that adaptation is key. Any diet or practice can be adjusted to fit the needs of your body.

The Weston A Price Foundation does offer a dietary plan, following the ideals of Dr. Price, that features four main food groups- animal foods, grains, legumes, and nuts. Healthy 4 Life recognizes the different levels of macronutrients (fats, carbohydrates, and proteins) that each individual may need. Adapting a new diet of lifestyle comes in steps. It does not happen overnight. As you begin such a journey, start one thing at time, whether it be the introduction of something new or the removal of something else. Ask questions, research and educate yourself further, and most importantly, listen to what your body is telling you.

Great reminder Ashley! Ask us any questions you have on social media, you can find us @thenourishedbelly on instagram and facebook.



The Weston A Price Foundation. (2013).

Price, Weston A. MS., D.D.S., F.A.G.D  (1939). Nutrition and Physical Degeneration: A Comparison of Primitive and Modern Diets and Their Effects. Medical Book Department of Harper & Brothers. NY, London.


Your Own Nutrition Coaching Business: Honing Your Craft

It was four years ago this month that I graduated Holistic Nutrition School at Bauman College and began my own nutrition practice!! Snaps for me!   I seem to remember my beginnings with fondness, but then I realize that I have severe memory lapses, and have forgotten all of the crazy times that I felt completely lost, or fell prey to feeling like I was a failure (like two years ago when my dad earnestly looked me in the eye and said, “maaaaaaybe it’s time you start looking for a real job??”), or had a client that I felt that I couldn’t reach.

These past four years have been full of growth; a time to hone my craft and also figure out my own entrepreneurial path, and figure out the logistics of owning my own business! Yikes.  A LOT. So much so, that as I’m writing this I realize this is more than just one blog post!  We’ll have to break this into parts folks……

First:  Honing the Nutrition Coaching Craft

Holistic Nutrition itself is pretty straightforward.  Educating, especially since I have a teaching background, is much like lesson planning for the adult.  Coaching people, however, is another thing entirely. How do you get someone to be excited about putting in work to overhaul their life?  It’s not a simple pill to pop, nor can you just do it once and done.  It’s a complete change (at least for some people) in lifestyle and how people look at their health.  I did take a coaching course, which helped a lot, but I learned the most from doing the work.  The most important lesson is to LISTEN. What did this person need right then? More information?  Less information?  A recipe?  A book?  Encouragement to go to the grocery store?  Snaps? A kick in the pants?  What did they need that was going to help them incorporate a few steps over the next couple of weeks?  Ask questions to help clarify. Stop yourself from giving too many suggestions, the best coaching is with inception.  The clients figure things out on their own, and it’s immediately more powerful.

Of course, along the way I have also had to figure out the type of person I work the best with, which of course isn't everybody.  I realized that I wasn’t a drill sergeant; some people want someone to hold their feet the fire, but that just isn’t my personality. I am much more of a gentle cheerleader, but I’ve still had to develop the side of myself that can say to the person…wtf?  Let’s move forward already! Ultimately,  it’s up to the client how quickly they take things on, and the quicker you deal with what’s stopping you from making change, then the more progress you make.  It sounds simple, but at the same time, I can understand why it isn’t.  That’s where the coaching comes really handy.  Plus, after 4 years, I’ve become a lot better at feeling out someone the first time we speak if it’s going to be a good experience for both us…  most of the time I call it right, but I’m still learning.

Another part was to get REAL with what inspired me.  I mean, this is the fun part of the job.  What is it about food and nutrition that I really like to do???  I HATE calorie counting for people (cause that just sucks the joy out of eating), or telling them what to eat at every hour of the day.  This for me, takes the self discovery away.  What I DO love is playing around and exploring in the kitchen, and showing people that it is easy to make a simple delicious meal, and to put my own self care up at the top of my priority list.  What inspires me is what I like to inspire in others.

The last thing I want to share here is that I had to learn to value what I was doing, and my own time.  Working as an elementary school teacher, I had an extremely low monetary value to my time.  (Which is also bull sh*t, because teaching is an incredibly complex craft and a LOT went into learning it, but as a society, we just don’t value education.  But we value lawyers at hundreds upon hundreds an hour, right? Where’s the middle ground? Expertise is expertise, is it not?)  As I got into the work, I began to see that what I was doing was incredibly valuable.  I mean, honestly, nutrition and self care can change your entire life!   Giving people the tools to then go on their own and learn how to best thrive is the sh*t, and people love you for it!  Which, I admit, feels pretty darn good.

So….Wahoo!  #gettingthere

Keep on the lookout for the next anniversary blog post, which I’ll talk about figuring out my own entrepreneurial path.

Happy Nourishing until then,


Looking for an Alternative to Tampons?

This post might SEEM like it’s for humans who have vaginas, and it IS…..but it’s for EVERYONE, because this is an important thing for ALL of us to know.  In this post, I talk very candidly about my own menstruation, which is what half our population goes through every month, so don’t be surprised.  

In my mission to reduce my waste, something that I have been researching for myself is how I take care of my monthly visitor, without adding to the landfill.  Pads and tampons go into our landfills, take a lot of resources to make, and are expensive!  Plus many of them are made with chemicals (and some are made with rayon..which is not natural) that I would prefer to not have so close to my body.

One site, states that American women ages 12-54, bought 111 maxipads and 66 tampons in ONE YEAR.  In 2014 it was a $3 Billion industry!  That means people are making bank off of our bodies.  According to Ann Borowski (whose thesis is linked below), a woman using tampons spends $2000 on them over her lifetime.  

Personally, tampons are too absorbent (leaving things very dry down there), pads aren’t very breathable or comfortable, and I really hate creating ALL this waste that goes into the landfill every month. A lot of tampon applicators are PLASTIC, and honestly, applicators are completely unnecessary.  Your finger works VERY well, and we should know for our health, how everything feels up there.  

So what should you use instead?  I haven’t used EVERYTHING, but this is what I’ve tried:

Washable Pads: I’ve used Glad Rags before, but I’m sure there are other brands.  These are washable pads, that come with inserts on your heavier days.  I don’t love these, primarily because they are a bit bulky.  I rinse them out with cold water (hot water will make the proteins stick to the material) and then wash them with my regular clothes.  

Sea Sponges:  I used these for a long time, and still use them as part of my period practice.  You have to be completely ok with your own blood, because you get very intimate with it when you rinse the sponge out in the sink, and put it back in.  Which is a practice I advocate for.  You should know what a healthy period looks like for you; what color your blood is, and if you are clotting.  What I like about sponges is that they are simple to use, are very easy to insert, and don’t dry me out like tampons do.  You simply wet them in warm water and they will become very soft, and then you insert it with your finger.  They will leak when they are full, and rinsing them out can sometimes be interesting when you are in a public bathroom.  I have before warned people that I’m coming out with my full sponge, and people have politely turned their backs.  So, it’s possible.  But when you have to use a portable potty…it’s sometimes messy and you need a water bottle with you!  

Diva Cup:  I’m starting to be a bigger fan of the diva cup.  This is a silicone cup that you can insert (it does take a little practice), and it even has measurements inside so you know how much blood you are losing!  What I like about the Diva Cup is that it’s easier to use in public.  You don’t necessarily need a sink, you can just dump contents into the toilet and re-insert it.  

I feel MUCH better about not contributing waste from my period, and honestly, these products feel better in my body.  They will save you a lot of $ down the line as well.  These three products are by far not the only reusable menstruation products out there, so if you’ve used another, please comment!

Feel free to ask any questions, and remember, being healthy is not just about what you eat, but it’s about everything you choose to have in your environment, and I would venture to say that what you put up your yoohaw should be as clean and toxin free as possible.  

Happy Nourishing!  


Interesting thesis about sustainable trends and sanitary pad/tampons industry.

P.S. The first book that I read which first told me about sea sponges, AND taught be how to track my menstrual cycle is called Cunt, by Inga Muscio….I highly recommend it!

(Full disclosure…  I do get a kick back from Amazon if you buy from any of the links here.  However, I’m always a fan of buying things from locally owned stores, so you can also just use the link to see what the product looks like!)

The Difference Between Compostable and Biodegradable

Part of Nourished Belly Living and The Nourished Belly Diet is trying to get rid of plastics use, and boy….it’s difficult and not to mention confusing.  I sometimes feel overwhelmed at even trying to cut out plastics when I go to Costco or Trader Joe’s and see the enormous amount of plastic that is used to cover EVERYTHING.   There are a lot of resources out there talking about the dangers of plastic, from the enormous amount of plastic bottles that are filling up our landfills, to all the bits of plastic that make it into the stomachs of birds, to the floating islands of plastics that are swimming through our oceans, so I’m not going to go into that here.  

Maybe you are on a quest, like me, to find out what things we can use that will cause less impact on the earth.  Unfortunately, it’s a little confusing with so many things parading around as “biodegradable” and or “made from corn.”  So besides using LESS plastic (which really, is step one. Do you really need that plastic bag?), what should you look for?  

Ideally we want things to be certified compostable.  This means that the material will degrade quickly and not compromise the quality of the compost.  For our intents and purposes in the Bay Area, we want to know if we can put it into the green bin, because if something is compostable, it’s supposed to break down in city municipal composting centers.  We in the Bay are lucky cause we have them, including the fact that we have city compost pick up!  (Yay Bay Area!)

Look for something that is certified compostable (BPI and Vincotte are companies that certify) and you can also go to this link for a list of companies that have been third party tested to meet national standards….

Don’t just buy something because it says biodegradable.  Often these products are conventional plastics mixed with something plant based.  Once you’ve mixed these substances, they can’t be unmixed, and they can’t even be recycled. So, they are only good for the landfill...which is a DAGGER in the heart for someone who wanted to buy something better for the earth.  I know.  I've been there. 

So where should you buy your compostable stuff?  Here are a few companies I’ve looked at:

Companies and products I support: 

  1. World Centric:  According to their website, they donate 25% of their profits to charity, their products are BPI certified, and some are Vincotte certified (compostable at home).  They also seem to have a social justice and environmental justice side, and also talk about fair trade.  I have personally used their products for events, and like them.  
  2. Bio Bags:  I pretty much see this brand everywhere, including Costco.  They are BPI certified, and have a pretty thorough and informational website.  They are a small company that focuses on creating compostable bags...I like that.  
  3. Ecosafe:  Also an informative website.  BPI certified.  I like that they have a mission of diverting food waste from landfills, and it seems like they have other programs in place to try to make it sustainable.  I have never used their products before, but I like what they have to say.

Only if there's no better option:

  1. Bag to Nature: They are BPI certified, but honestly, from their website, they don’t seem to CARE.  Bag to Nature is one of the many product lines that this company owns, so I would think that this is more of a “how can we increase our profits with what the market wants,”  than actually caring about their product.  Of course, this is completely my opinion!
  2. Popular brands:  Brands like Glad (owned by Clorox) and Ziplock (owned by SC Johnson) are getting into the compostable market, which is overall, a good thing.  In terms of who I will support with my consumer dollars, however, I’m more likely to support companies that have an overall mission of saving the environment, not companies whose main products are plastics and other not great for you home products.  Just sayin’.  

A friend asked me how much I knew about the manufacturing side of compostable bags, and to be honest, that information was a little harder to find.  If you happen to know more about that, please comment and share your knowledge!  

Let’s leave this article with some thoughts on how we can reduce our plastic use in general, and if we need to get single use products, think about getting ones that are compostable :)

Remember...True Nourishment is MORE than what we put into our's the environment around us.

Happy Nourishing,





How to Cut Kale

Many clients ask me how to cook kale, and what I love about not just kale, but all greens, is that they are so simple!  Really.  Just a quick sauté and done!  One of my favorite ways to cut kale is a quick chiffonade.  You get these thin beautiful ribbons, and they add a little sophistication to a quick meal!  But enough!  Watch the video and try this at home!

Are Your Clothes Toxic?

Holistic Fashion (1)

Holistic Fashion (1)

When we think of clean living, we think of eating organic foods, drinking filtered water, and paring down our beauty regimens.  Recently, my friend Etch, who worked in the apparel industry blew my MIND with some education on chemicals used to make synthetic fabrics, and as I researched, I realized that this is something that we ALL should keep on our radar. Especially for those of us that are immunocompromised, taking out environmental toxins is an important step to healing and staying healthy.

First of all, think about how snuggly we are with our clothes.  They rest right against our skins, we sleep in them, we swaddle our newborns in them.  If you remember from a previous blog post about beauty products, you’ll remember that our skin is super absorbent.  It’s our largest organ, and is very much where we can absorb many toxins if we aren’t careful.  When it comes to beauty products, it’s best to wear only what you can eat.  So, let’s take a closer look at what we are actually doing when we shop for new clothes.

When it comes to clothes, here are some questions to think about:

How Were My Clothes Made?

SO…..think about fabric, dyes, and processing.  There are natural fibers like cotton, silk, wool, linen, hemp and cashmere that are natural and biodegrade in the environment.  If you are thinking that these fabrics are more expensive, you’re right! For the process that it takes to make the fabric and spin it into clothing, it’s no wonder that it’s not MORE expensive!  The organic fabric industry is small, but the more demand there is the bigger and cheaper things will be for consumers.

But why should you care about how your clothes are made?  This is a big topic, but one aspect is that non organic cotton is one of the most heavily sprayed crops, and this Huffington Post article does a really nice job of breaking conventional cotton facts down. Then there are synthetic fabrics like nylon, polyester, acrylic, and rayon.  They all are heavily processed (after all, we are MAKING fibers from synthetic materials, sometimes from petrochemicals) and are produced with scary chemicals.  The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (niosh) suggests that propelyne oxide (which is used to make polyester) be labeled as an occupational hazard since it meets requirements to be considered a potential occupational carcinogen. WHAT?!?  Plus these fabrics are not biodegradable.  Imagine...your spanx are here for eternity!

Wait, there’s more...  dyes and chemical treatments.  Synthetic dyes, just like artificial food coloring, can also be unhealthy.  That wrinkle free blouse?  That could formaldehyde, which you’ve heard of from preserving corpses, and I’ll let the National Cancer Institute tell you more about why it’s dangerous for those of us still living.

Where Was it Made?

As consumers, it’s always important for us to think about who is actually making what we buy.  This is a whole other topic of where clothes are made and by who, and what conditions they work in, and how much they get paid.  We've all heard of sweatshops, and maybe you heard of that Bangladeshi factory burning down in 2013 that killed 112 workers.  So, this is actually something that is a big deal.  If I can, I always like to see that things are made here in the US, or buy clothing that is Fair Trade.  Here’s a great article if you want to read more about working conditions of garment laborers.

How do I Take Care of it?

How you take care of your clothes plays a large role in whether or not you are adding chemicals to your clothing.  85% of dry cleaners use a chemical called perchloroethylene that is “likely to be carcinogenic.”  No thanks.  Dryer sheets are also full of chemicals and all the ones in the Environmental Working Group’s Healthy Cleaning Database ( (which is a GREAT resource) are rated either D’s or F’s.  I've stopped using dryer sheets, and when I had more space I really liked it when I could dry my clothes on the line.  (Energy efficient!)  And the less synthetic clothing you have, the less need you have for dryer sheets.  There are things you can buy that are reusable though, like these wool dyer balls.

Food for thought.  It’s sometimes overwhelming to think off all the things we need to do to try and live cleanly in our polluted world, but every small thing you do makes a difference. With the help of my friend Etch, we've come up with some important ideas to start cleaning up your wardrobe and your cleaning routines.  There’s no time like the present to start building up your clean living habits!


A lovely conversation with my friend Etch

6 Tips to Help You Make Successful Habit Changes

Our lovely contributing writer, Stephanie

I LOOOOOVE talking about changing habits, and I love talking about them with down to earth colleagues that have great suggestions and thoughts around transforming habits and creating a life that supports health and expands it!  I'm super excited to offer this guest blog post by Stephanie C.N...she's a fellow Capoeirista, NLP practitioner and just amazing person.  Check out her suggestions! Shift Happens: 6 Tips To Help You Make Successful Habit Changes

As you probably already know your habits and rituals truly make up the foundation of your life. Everything you think, say, do and feel from the moment you wake up until you go to sleep at night, is creating your life experience. Your habits either help you move in the direction of your desired life, or they hinder you on your path toward success. It is no wonder that there is a whole self help industry dedicated to helping people create change and achieve success in all parts of life.

For many the idea of changing a habit still seems difficult and complicated. The main stream media has  taught us that changing our habits is a long, painful, and difficult process. However, if the steps toward habit change are approached in small increments and with commitment and focus, then shifts can happen instantly and with ease.

No matter how big or small your life changes feel, it is important to believe in yourself and remember that change is possible in any area of your life. Follow these tips below when beginning your journey toward transformation:

  1. Take responsibility for your own outcomes in life. In order to make any changes in your life you must first understand that you are responsible for all of the results and outcomes in your life. No one is doing  it for you and it's not other people’s fault you haven't accomplished your goals. Nobody thinks for you, nobody feels for you, and nobody takes actions for you. Embrace the power of being in control of your own life.
  1. Make a new action plan and do it (even when it gets hard). If something has not worked for you in the past try something new and see if it works better. Try a different workout, a different approach to relationships, a different diet or a different job. There are endless strategies out there to help you make major changes to any part of your life, find the one that works best for you. Write out a plan with your actions steps and precise goals. This will help guide you in your transformation.
  1. Start small. Making small changes at first is much more effective and manageable.  Your new rituals and habits will feel foreign at first so it is important that you set yourself up for success and not give up. Integrating a larger shift too fast could feel overwhelming to your system. Most changes that really last won't feel very drastic. It’s the small changes over time that will add up and lead you toward your bigger vision in the long run.
  1. Trust your intuition and focus on what feels good. The point of life is to feel good and have fun! Seek out the things that make you feel good. This will help to change the tone of your life and set you on a path toward shifting your outlook and perspective. The more you follow what feels good to you, the easier it will be to seize the right opportunities. The universe will unfold in magical and synchronistic ways for you, but you must pay attention.
  1. Create accountability.  Finding a way to create accountability is one of the best ways to integrate new habits. Find a workout buddy, join a support group, make a public announcement or find another way to hold yourself accountable to your new rituals. If you know others are watching or holding you accountable you are less likely to skip or make excuses for your new habits.
  1. Fake it 'til you make it. Act as if you have already achieved the change you want to see. Embody it, talk about it, feel it and think like the person who has already achieved those goals. This will help you get there faster. Start today.

Remember anything is possible. Relax and be gentle with yourself.  Be determined, committed and fierce. Time is precious so start creating small shifts in your habits today. Here is to your best life ever!

Stephanie C.N. is a life coach with a background in hypnotherapy and NLP. She blogs about wellness and self improvement here and runs an online membership program called Align With Wellness. You can read more about her and contact her.

Stress and You Part 2: Stress and Immunity

No Stress (1)It always seems that we come down with something at the worst possible times… before a big test, a presentation at work, an event or special day. We cross our fingers, pay close attention to our hand washing techniques, and are sure to drink an extra-large glass of orange juice during these times. Despite our gallant efforts, we still end up sick. Why? Believe it or not, our state of mind and stress play a huge role in how healthy we are. There is actually an entire concentration of science dedicated to studying the relationship between stress and our immunity- psychoneuroimmunology. When we are under stress our body is incapable of functioning at its highest potential. Think of it this way- when our bodies are in that fight or flight mode we are in a heightened state of emotion. Our bodies are working harder in a sense “protect” us, so all of our non essential functions power down; including our immunity!  All we need at the moment is to be able to run from that tiger, which is a bigger threat than the possible far away future of getting sick.  So when we are stressed, we are in essence turning off our immune system.  This also means that when we want to heal, our recovery time can take longer as well!

It is important that we manage stress to avoid these complications. Heart disease, cancer, heart attack- studies show these can all be induced by chronic stress. When our immune system is compromised our overall health is greatly affected and if you need a brush up on why stress can halt your weight loss efforts, read here.  We simply lose the desire to make conscious health choices, stay active, and feel happy.

Manage Stress Before it Makes You Sick.

- Take time each day to unwind and find inner peace. Whether it’s by diving into a good book, trying a new local spot with a friend, or taking an extra lap on your run, find something that you can make your “go to” when you become stressed. Having a conscious plan to address stress when it first begins will greatly decrease the impact on your immunity.

- As mentioned in part one of the Stress and You series, avoid foods and drinks that stimulate stress. Items high in caffeine and sugar cause havoc on the body and put us in a artificially amped up state.  I once went swimming after drinking coffee...and I was like a robot...  nonstop! I also was hyper aware that the energy almost wasn't my own!  So steer clear of these stimulants and if consumed, do so in moderation.

- Pay regular attention to your body’s messages. If you feel yourself getting overwhelmed or stress starting to develop, assess your current situation. What may be triggering these feelings? What can you do to address them? Start to put yourself in control of your reactions in order to inhibit them from manifesting into something more detrimental.

If You Do Get Sick, Pay Close Attention to Keep Stress at a Minimum.

- Rest, but don’t baby yourself. When we are sick we immediately want to curl up on the couch and wait out the storm. While it is important to rest and replenish, too much nurturing can actually cause more harm. Engage in low energy activities that are stimulating to the mind- do a puzzle, read a book, etc. Keep your mind active while still getting the rest you need.

- Take a bath! Baths are great for managing stress and super helpful to help kick out those germs when we are sick. Take a warm bath with a few drops of essential oils such as lavender or eucalyptus to naturally calm your body.

- Sleep!

Sleep will not only help you get better quicker, but feeling well rested is one of the number one ways to prevent stressful days.

The importance of managing our stress levels is great on a day to day basis, but is especially important when faced with illness or injury. Try using the different stress management techniques as often as possible to implement as a normal routine!

Written by Ashley Green and Tammy Chang for The Nourished Belly

Sources: American Pyschological Association. Stress Weakens the Immune System. Retrieved from

Seinberg, S. The Sweet 16 of Holistic Stress Reduction. Retrieved from

Stress Series Part 1: Stress and Weight Loss

As a nutrition and health coach, most people come to me to lose weight and get healthy. Many of them exercise regularly, and after working together, their outlook on food dramatically improves, and some lose weight and feel great!  Others who make all these changes, however, have a harder time, and for the most part, the stressful way we live our lives is the answer. I live in the Bay Area, which in my opinion is the greatest place on earth.  There's a million and one things to do, amazing friends, and work opportunities to explore.  But this urban life, despite its excitement is stressful.  And not just bad stressful...  there's a good kind of stress called Eustress, which you experience when you are excited about something, and then DISstress, when sh*t hits the fan and it keeps you up at night with worry.

Stress itself is a naturally occurring psychological response. When faced with a situation that we feel inadequate, unsafe, or as though we may lose something, our bodies go into a fight or flight mode. We either face the situation up front or attempt to avoid it at all costs. Neuroscientist and author of “Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers”, Robert Sapolsky, explains that stress is anything in the external world that knocks ourselves out of homeostatic balance. Sapolsky points out that unlike other mammals, we turn on our stress response for things it is not scientifically designed for… emotions, memories, feelings, etc. We have an anticipatory response to stress we think we might experience, which when not managed well can become chronic and lead to a variety of additional health problems.

As a part of a series, Stress and You, we are going to focus on three major areas in which stress can negatively impact our overall health: Stress and Weight

Stress and Immunity

Stress and Mental Health

All three of these aspects of overall health are connected. When one area is affected, a snowball effect can occur and lead to trouble in others. Understanding the impact of stress on our bodies and the importance of and proper ways of managing it is key to leading a healthy lifestyle.

Stress and You Part 1: Stress and Weight

Imagine a time where you came home from a stressful day at work or after handling a stressful situation. What did you do? Did you reach for that comfort food you’ve been craving while you let yourself cool down and unwind? What about in the long run… despite your exercise and nutritional habits are you struggling to lose weight or even notice yourself gaining?

All of this… while typical, is avoidable. Unfortunately, our bodies do not differentiate amongst different stressors. Stress is stress and regardless leads to negative health issues. Pamela Peeke, MD, author of “Body of Life for Women”, says stress can actually be one of the biggest barriers of maintaining a healthy weight. When stress occurs, our bodies release hormones that can upset our chemical balance. Adrenaline is what gives you that burst of energy to either fight or flee from the situation. In response to adrenaline, our bodies’ release the hormone cortisol, which raises our blood sugar.  Which in turn sets off our insulin response, which is our fat storage hormone!  Vicious cycle, right?

A stressful day also can stop you from making good decisions.  In a simple experiment at Stanford, volunteers were either asked to remember either two numbers or 7 numbers, then offered a piece of chocolate cake or fruit salad afterwards.  Those that had to remember 7 numbers were TWICE as likely to reach for the chocolate cake!   So it makes sense right? That when you've had a long stressful day working, you are MUCH MORE LIKELY to reach for something sweet.

So how do we manage stress and its influence on our eating habits?

- Try to avoid snacking as a method of coping with stress. Despite what your body may tell you, eating will not alleviate stress. Temporarily it may sooth the feeling, but will only lead to more stress down the road. Get active. When stressed, take a walk, hit the gym, do yoga. Getting up and moving will release other hormones that will counteract the ones creating the desire to snack. Focus your mind on something other than the stressor in question. Tackle your to do list to enable that sense of accomplishment or go for a run. You hold the power- so show stress who’s boss!

- Pay attention to the foods and drinks you are consuming. Avoid stimulants that can fuel stress. We may not realize it, but there are plenty of foods and drinks that only further fuel our stress levels. Alcohol, fast food, coffee, and soda are some of the most common triggers. While we may think of some of these as “comfort” foods, they actually end up making things worse.

- If you do snack, make selections that fight stress. Believe it or not, there are wonderful super-foods that actually fight stress and can bring relief. The foods that we normally crave may serve as a temporary anesthetic , but some foods have calming chemical properties.

  • Foods high in folic acid or B vitamins such as asparagus and avocados help create serotonin, a chemical that directly impacts moods in a positive way.
  • Almonds provide a plethora of vitamins such as Vitamin C and E that are proven to fight stress while still satisfying those crunchy cravings.
  • As mentioned above, Vitamin C is a major stress fighter and can be found in blueberries, oranges, etc. Mix these nutrient rich fruits with some cottage cheese for a soothing snack.
  • Drink calming teas!  Chamomile, Rosemary, Asian Ginseng, Ashwaganda, Holy Basil (Tulsi), and Licorice Root are all part of a group of herbs call Adaptogens that help the body deal with stress.

The most important thing to look at is your LIFE!  What can you say no to?  Where are your self care boundaries?

It's time to really think about these things...because no matter what you do, even if you exercise like crazy, and you eat extremely well, too much stress will sabotage you EVERY. SINGLE. TIME.  Think about it!

Written by Ashley Green and Tammy Chang for The Nourished Belly

Sources: Sapolsky, R. (1994). Why Zebra’s Don’t Get Ulcers: The Acclaimed Guide to Stress, Stress-Related Diseases, and Coping. New York, NY: Holt Paperbacks.

Peeke, P. (2009). Body of Life for Women: A Women’s Plan for Physical and Mental Transformation. Holtzbrinck Publishers.

Whole Living. Good Mood Foods that Reduce Stress. Retrieved from

Why is Sleep Important?

"I'll just watch one more episode... .""I'll catch up on sleep during the weekend." "I have so much to do. I'll sleep when I retire!"

These thoughts are too often in our daily narratives...  Due to our busy lives, many of us place sleep at the bottom of our list of priorities and never give it a second thought.  When an endless to-do list is running through our minds, why would we use up precious time to sleep?

Then we wonder why we crave sugar (want to kick sugar with us?), why our colds stick around, and why that bit of belly fat just won't go away.  Sleep is the single most important behavior that humans experience. When consistently sleep deprived, a multitude of  health issues can affect our overall well-being.  We need to place sleep as one of our top priorities to ensure a healthy body and mind.

Today, the majority of us get 5 hours or less of sleep each night.   Most of us are walking around consistently sleep deprived.

"How do I know if I am sleep deprived?"

When suffering from sleep deprivation, your body will tell you. You just have to listen and watch for the signs. One key thing to look for is whether or not you are experiencing micro sleeps. Essentially, your body is telling you it needs to rest, and when this issue is not addressed you may start to experience involuntary moments of sleep. Micro-sleeps can happen at the worst times! During a meeting, during a lecture, even during a conversation with a friend... we feel our head start to nod and are usually awakened by a concerned co-worker or peer... or even the start of drool down our cheek. Definitely embarrassing, these micro sleeps can also be extremely dangerous and even fatal. It has been reported that 31 percent of drivers have fallen asleep (micro sleep) at the wheel. These micro sleeps also lead to poor judgment. If at the wrong time, a micro sleep can put us and anyone around us in great danger.

Unfortunately, what do most of us do when we can’t shake the Zzzz's? We resort to some type of stimulant to "wake us up." Coffee, energy drinks, supplements, nicotine, etc. The list could go on and on. Stimulants fuel the awakened state of the mind and it becomes hyperactive. Essentially, we trick our brains into thinking that it is time to be awake and we disrupt the electrical functions of our brains.  We then have trouble falling asleep at night, and some of us rely on depressants, such as alcohol or sleeping aids to fall asleep; however these sedate us rather than induce healthy sleep. Only further damage occurs from here, and yet we follow the same patterns day after day.

Poor quality and lack of sleep leads to a plethora of unwanted side effects. Poor memory, poor creativity, and irritability are just a few. Aside from side effects,  improper sleeping habits can lead to weight gain, trigger our stress response, and affect our delicate hormone balance.  There are at least 10 different hormones and neurotransmitters in the brain that function improperly when we don't sleep enough. These hormone shifts lead to changes in our appetite, fertility, mental health, etc. It's no wonder we aren't the friendliest people when we are tired... everything is irregularly wired!

Healthy sleeping patterns can help prevent all of those side effects and health issues plus more. While we sleep, three major functions occur:

  1. Restoration. While we sleep, our brain rebuilds and restores the body's energy sources. It works to prepare our body for the next day’s work, ensuring that it is properly fueled and functioning.
  2. Energy Conservation.  Going along with restoring our energy sources, our body conserves energy while we sleep. This way our body is not running on empty throughout the day!
  3. Memory Processing and Consolidation. Just as any organ in the body, waste needs to be cleared out in order to ensure proper function. While we sleep cerebrospinal fluid flows through our brain, flushing out these products. A good way to think of it is as your kitchen. What would happen if you stopped cleaning your kitchen for a month? Dishes would pile up, bacteria would grow. Eventually, it would be come unlivable. Cleaning the kitchen makes space, protects from infections, etc., just as our brains do while we sleep.

"So, what can I do?"

There are many things we can do to ensure we get the proper amount and quality of sleep that our bodies need.

1)  Listen to your body! Our bodies have a unique way of letting us know when we need sleep. Pay attention to those moments when you feel exceptionally fatigued, can’t seem to focus, or you notice changes in your mood, stress levels, and overall health. Plan your day to ensure you can get to sleep by a decent time or allow yourself to take a nap in between activities. The more hours of sleep that you can get before midnight, the better!

2)  Take some time to wind down: Prior to going to sleep, chill for a bit! Turn off electronics which excite the brain and seek darkness. Avoid those late night urges to watch television in bed or scroll through the internet on your iPad or phone. Our brains register this light as daytime which stimulates them and prohibiting rest.  So instead, dim the lights about an hour before you plan to go to sleep. Use this time to allow your body to adjust and begin to calm down.

3)  Make the room slightly chilly:  Sleeping in a slightly cool and dark room is the best practice for quality sleep.

4) Watch your sugar and caffeine intake: Especially late in the day.  As we get older as well, our ability to process caffeine diminishes, so you might to be able to drink as much caffeine as you used to.

5) Have a warm beverage!  Go for a cup of chamomile tea or warm milk, both of which work natural magic on our bodies and promote healthy sleep.

6)  Take a little magnesium!  Magnesium is one of the few supplements that have studies to back up its effectiveness.  200 to 400 mg of magnesium citrate or glycinate before bed can help relax the nervous system and muscles.

7)  Make the room pitch black.  Cover all those blinking lights, better yet, unplug all those blinking lights.  If you don't have heavy curtains, it's time to invest in some.  Ideally, you shouldn't be able to see your hand in front of your face!  Even slight light has been shown to hinder melatonin production, which helps us to sleep and to restore.

All in all, pay attention to your body’s needs. Sleep is just as important as exercise and proper nutrition. It is together, that these activities ensure the highest level of health and overall wellness! Written by Ashley Green and Tammy Chang for The Nourished Belly Sources: Main, E. (2014). 9 Foods to Help You Sleep: These Food Cures Will Get You Back to Your Zzzs. Organic Gardening. Retrieved from,0 Foster, R. (2013). Why Do We Sleep? TED Talks. Retrieved from Wiley, T. S., Formbly, B. (2000). Lights Out: Sleep, Sugar, and Survival. New York, NY: Pocket Books.

Eat This: Tomatoes

In every session with my clients, we always have a Food of the Day that is based on what specifically the client is working on, and the season.  Before summer ends, I want to make SURE I talk about tomatoes.   YES!  Tomato plants love hot days and the hot days give us nice, big, plump tomatoes.  They are found in cuisines all over the world, but they are originally native to Western South America. Tomatoes are known for their high vitamin C and high antioxidant content.  Specifically they get a lot of buzz for an antioxidant called lycopene. Lycopene is in the carotenoid family and is shown to  be cancer protective for at least prostrate and breast cancer, excellent for heart health, and helpful for keeping blood vessels strong and healthy.  Lycopene has also been shown to be more absorbable after it's heated.  (Which is a great reason to make tomato sauce!)

I always, however, recommend clients to have a mix of raw and cooked tomatoes.  Raw tomatoes have an excellent vitamin C content, especially in that jelly around the seeds, so don’t throw that away!

Another wonder about tomatoes is that they contain glutamates, which are natural flavor enhancers.  You might have heard of glutamates because of MSG, or Mono Sodium Glutamate.  MSG is a flavor enhancer that fits my definition of a processed food:  you can't make it in your own kitchen.  So, I prefer to add naturally occurring glutamates to my dishes.  Tomatoes!  Excellent!  In they go.  Other foods that include natural glutamates are mushrooms, anchovies, parmesan cheese, and of course, bacon!

Tomatoes are also part of the nightshade family, which includes peppers, potatoes, eggplant, and cayenne to name a few.  Some find they are sensitive to nightshades, and for those with arthritis, it is advised to cut them out to see if symptoms improve.

Choose firm tomatoes with bright green stems, and buying them straight from the farmers market ensures freshness and taste.  Store tomatoes at room temperature, for putting them in the refrigerator will make them mealy.  If buying them canned, which is a fine choice when they aren't in season, make sure your cans say BPA free (BPA is a chemical added to can linings that can disrupt hormones), or buy them in glass jars.

My Most Recent Tomato Obsession: Gazpacho

Gazpacho originated from the Andalusia region of Spain, and is a soup, usually with a tomato base, that is served cold.   It has now evolved to take on many different forms, and it’s my recent summertime obsession. It is extremely refreshing to have on hot summer days.


Serves 2

2 cups tomatoes

1 large cucumber

1 large red pepper

1 cup loosely packed basil

2 cloves raw garlic

1 T balsamic or wine vinegar

2 T extra virgin olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste


1)   Throw all ingredients into a blender, or place in a deep bowl and use an immersion blender.  Blend.

2)   Salt and pepper to taste!

3)   Serve with toast or crackers, or hard boiled eggs!

Are Your Beauty Products Safe?

Our skin is amaaaaaazing. Did you know that your skin is your body’s largest organ? It’s basically a dynamic protective barrier, literally wrapping and stretching itself around our entire body, and functions as our first line of defense against toxins in our environment. Skin contains nerve endings, sweat glands for detoxification, hair follicles, and blood vessels. It regulates our body temperature, helps us prevent illness, and even makes much-needed vitamin D. It also absorbs just about everything that we put on it.

Think of all the products that you use to take care of yourself.  Do you know if your beauty products are safe?

Picture this. You wake up bright and early.  You hop in the shower, one eye open, and grab your favorite shampoo. You squeeze it into your palm- it smells great. You inhale the scent and you feel yourself waking up already. What you may not realize is the reason it smells so fruity and refreshing is because of a host of “secret” and untested chemicals grouped under the ingredient, “fragrance,” but more on that later. You then lather it onto your scalp, and it feels so rich and fluffy. The cause: sodium lauryl sulfate. You’ve read it a thousand times on the back of your bottle, but don’t quite realize that it can combine with other chemicals to form carcinogens and lead to kidney and respiratory damage.

It’s time for your face and body wash. Your washed skin does feel a little tight since you’ve stripped your natural oils away, but you know it just means you’re that much cleaner, right? What you don’t know is that the parabens in your wash, which are put in there to stave off bacteria and mold that may form as it sits in your shower, actually mimic your estrogen and have been found in samples of breast cancer tumors. At this point, you dry off, step out and find yourself hesitant to reach for your antiperspirant/deodorant. Good call.

Here are some commonly used chemicals with harmful or completely ambiguous track records, along with some of the products in which they are most commonly found that we use every day. These ingredients have been noted as carcinogens, hormone disruptors, skin, eye and lung irritants, and have been linked to conditions such as allergies, ADHD, respiratory distress, infertility, organ damage, developmental damage in fetuses, and the toxic list goes on.


Where to look for it

Parabens (beginning with propyl-, isopropyl-, butyl-, and isobutyl-)

Makeup, body wash, deodorant, shampoo, facial cleanser, after shave


Cologne, perfume, shampoo, body wash, moisturizers, diaper cream, after shave

Laurel/Laureth Sulfate

Shampoo, body wash, baby cleansers, mascara

FD&C colors

Almost all beauty and skin products

Triclosan and Triclocarbon

Soap, antibacterial gel, deodorant, toothpaste


Shampoo, conditioner, nail polish, eye shadow, soap, chemical hair straighteners


Hair color products, nail polish treatments, soap

Propylene Glycol

Moisturizers, sunscreen, makeup, hair spray, shampoo, conditioners

Retinol, Retinyl Palmitate, Retinyl Acetate

(vitamin A products)

Sunscreen, lotion, facial skin care, lip products

PEG/ceteareth/ polyethylene

Shaving cream, after shave

 It’s scary to think about it, but important to understand, that cosmetics and skincare products are completely unregulated in our country. Many times, there are chemicals and ingredients that we freely use, several times a day, over and over, that are actually BANNED by the governments of several other countries. Meanwhile, our FDA does not give them a second glance.

Thankfully, there are organizations like the Environmental Working Group (EWG) who have made it their mission to increase consumer awareness of these exact chemicals and thousands more.  Check out their awesome SkinDeep database at and download their SkinDeep app if you have a smart phone. If I’m picking up a product at the drugstore, I can simply scan its barcode into the app and it pulls up what I need to know about its ingredients and their safety rating. Otherwise, I can do a quick search of their database online and find out a ton of information on product toxicity and what I should be looking to buy instead.

Also, check out this video by the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics for a quick summary of all of this information. It’s great to share with family and friends to get them thinking about the products they use every day in their homes!

So, here's some homework.  Read the label on the back of every beauty and hygiene product that you use on a regular basis.  It's important to know if your beauty products are safe.  Remember, scanning your product labels for toxins is just as important to your health as reading your food labels. It’s all going in.  Our next post will talk about some great alternatives for taking care of our skin in a truly nourishing way.  Stay tuned!

Contributing Writer: Du'aa Elnoory


Why Should I Go Gluten Free?

My entire life, I would often end the day with belly that looked like it belonged to someone at least 4 months pregnant.  Ugh.  It really didn't make me want to go out, or put my jeans on.  I still go through life preferring to wear tights and dresses because I remember this phase of my life.  And it happens still, but now I know why:  I'm sensitive to gluten.

So, let’s talk gluten. What is it? Gluten is a component of the grains wheat, rye and barley. If your body is intolerant of gluten, it’s actually reacting to gliadin, a protein within gluten. Severity of this intolerance ranges from a mild gluten sensitivity, to full-blow celiac disease, an autoimmune disorder where your body basically attacks itself every time you eat gluten. In the short-term, sensitivities and celiac can translate into constantly feeling bloated, fatigued, irritated, foggy, or constipated, among over 300 (you read that right!) other symptoms, or it can mean having no noticeable symptoms whatsoever. In the long-run, it can mean the slow flattening and deterioration of your small intestine’s nutrient-absorbing villi, which translates to passing up nutrients that your body REALLY needs and reabsorbing toxins, leading to inflammation, deficiencies, other autoimmune diseases, and infertility. Not fun.

It’s estimated that 1 in 133 people in the U.S. are genetically predisposed to celiac, and about 18 million others are suffering from a gluten sensitivity. The worst part is that MOST of these people are walking around undiagnosed or even misdiagnosed with another disease or issue! Oh, and it runs in families.  So, if a family member has one or the other, chances are you do too, even if your symptoms are totally different. Have I piqued your interest yet? If you’ve been feeling yucky, or I’ve planted a seed of doubt, take this short quiz from the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness to figure out if it’s worth a trip to your doctor to get tested for celiac disease.

Unfortunately, those with just a gluten sensitivity (after having eliminated celiac as a possibility, of course) can’t get clinically diagnosed simply for the fact there is no test for it yet. This makes it that much more important for you to listen to your body and to be your own health advocate.

So, tell me, why should I go gluten free?

The good news is that the harmful effects of a sensitivity can be completely reversed with a gluten-free diet because of your body’s remarkable ability to heal, and you may start to feel it immediately. An elimination diet can be an important way for you to figure out if you have a sensitivity to gluten, simply by seeing how you feel after you’ve taken it out of your diet. I have clients who, after going gluten-free for just a week, have woken up feeling refreshed, as if a cloud has been lifted, and others who have completely reversed their headaches, cramping, bloating, diarrhea, irritability, or whatever was ailing them. Many pounds have been lost simply by going off gluten since it forces to avoid some of the most fattening, processed foods.   Everyone, however, is different.

One reason why you might want to go gluten free, is if you have any thyroid issues, digestive issues, or your children are having behavioral issues and attention deficit issues at school, it could be worth taking out gluten and seeing if things improve.  Many people find that it helps.

We do however, need to know what foods and food products contain gluten.

Take a look at this list of foods that contain gluten. Does anything surprise you?

  • Beer, ale
  • Barley
  • Broth, bouillon powder/cubes
  • Brown rice syrup
  • Bulgur
  • Commercial soups and salad dressings
  • Couscous
  • Breads, cereals, pastas
  • Imitation seafood
  • Cakes, pies, cookies
  • Processed meats
  • Soy sauce
  • Seitan
  • Wheat starch
  • Pizza
  • Mac and cheese
  • Seasonings
  • Marinades, gravies
  • Rye-containing products
  • Vegetarian meat substitutes
  • Flavored rice-packaged products

Alternatively, here is a list of gluten-free foods (assuming they have not been contaminated with gluten during processing and are free of gluten-containing ingredients).

  • Fruits and vegetables
  • Dried beans
  • Lentils
  • Amaranth
  • Cassava, millet
  • Grits, corn, cornmeal
  • Quinoa
  • Oatmeal (gluten-free- Bob’s Red Mill is certified gluten free)
  • Fats
  • Fresh meats, fish
  • Rice, wild rice
  • Eggs
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Seaweed
  • Polenta
  • Cheese (not processed)
  • Popcorn
  • Milk

Do you see a trend?

In general, the more processed a food is, the higher the likelihood that it will have an ingredient that contains gluten or an ingredient that has been cross-contaminated with gluten-containing grains. So if you’re identifying with any of these symptoms, and want to explore whether gluten could be at the root of your ailment, here are some ground rules to eating a gluten-free diet.

Ground Rules for a Gluten Free Diet

1. Avoid gluten-containing foods, the obvious and the not-so-obvious. Clearly, anything with wheat, barley, rye is off-limits. But did you know that pasta, couscous and seitan are derivatives? Malt vinegar? Here is a great article identifying ingredients to look for on packages when you’re out shopping:

2. Focus on foods that are naturally gluten-free! There is NO shortage of nutritious, filling foods here that you already love, and your body will thank you. Just because a package says gluten free does NOT mean it’s healthy….it still could be incredibly processed.  Read the labels!

Quinoa, rice, potatoes, and vegetables are perfectly safe. If wheat flour was previously a pantry staple, you’ll be happy to know there are a ton of natural alternatives:

  • almond meal flour
  • coconut meal flour
  • pea flour
  • potato flour
  • garbanzo bean flour
  • millet

3. At the supermarket, look for items that are certified Gluten-Free with an accredited label. Just because an item is labeled wheat-free doesn’t mean it’s necessarily gluten-free, so be an educated shopper! Thankfully, there are several organizations out there that take it upon themselves to certify products, more so in recent years.

The NFCA highly endorses the Canadian-based GFCP for their process, whose symbol looks like this:

4. Download your free copy of this comprehensive gluten-free diet guide from the NFCA here:

 5. Check out online gluten-free recipe blogs! There are SO many, and you can shop around to find your favorites. Here is a great list compiled by

Try it for a week. You’ll find yourself eating a lot of fruits, vegetables, meats, poultry, fish, beans and legumes. Whole foods! You won’t be hungry, and your late-night delivery pizza cravings just may disappear (which is a good thing, regardless). It will also take practice reading labels and finding gluten-free alternatives to your favorite foods, but once you get the hang of it and realize how much better you feel, you’ll wonder how you ate any other way. Source:  Brown, Judith E.  (2011) Nutrition Through the Life Cycle.  Belmont. Wadsworth Cengage Learning.

Source:  Brown, Judith E.  (2011) Nutrition Through the Life Cycle.  Belmont. Wadsworth Cengage Learning.

Contributing writer: Duaa Elnoory for The Nourished Belly

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