Category Archives: Food

An easy 10-minute home cooked meal

What if it were possible to create a healthy home-cooked meal for 4 people in about 10 minutes? And what if that meal cost you about $10? (I mean for the whole thing, not per person.) Would that be of interest to you?

Well, I thought I would share with you my top strategy for making a fast, healthy meal. But instead of writing about it, I made a video.

Check it out here!

And let me know what you think.

Do you have any super-ninja “I didn’t plan anything but don’t want to spend money on takeout” tips? Share them in the comments below.

Two Brazil Nuts a Day …

In this post, I’m continuing to focus on thyroid health. Earlier in the month we covered the effect of toxins and food sensitivities on your thyroid (if you missed those, let me know!). Today I want to talk to you about an important mineral that has a huge impact on your health: Selenium.

Not only does selenium protect us against many health problems associated with the aging process, but selenium is vitally important for thyroid function.

If you are deficient in selenium, your thyroid will have to work harder to produce its hormones, and your body will have more difficulty converting those hormones into a form that your cells can use. This is because selenium is a chief component of the molecules that are necessary for the body to be able to create and use thyroid hormones.

And selenium deficiency is becoming more and more common, for several reasons.

1. The concentration of selenium in our food sources depends on how much selenium is present in the soils where the food is produced. As our soils are getting more and more depleted, the concentrations in foods are decreasing.

2. It’s not just about how much selenium is in the food that you swallow – it’s how much selenium your body actually absorbs that matters. Our ability to absorb nutrients naturally diminishes as we age. And digestive issues (especially those related to chronic stress) inhibit the absorption of minerals.

My favorite way to get the selenium I need? Brazil nuts. They are rich in selenium. Just 2 nuts a day and you’re good to go.

Support your thyroid: try adding Brazil nuts to your routine.

Next week’s email will wrap up our focus on thyroid health. I’ve saved the most impactful factor for last! (of course)

Until then, enjoy your Brazil nuts!

Mind over lunch: Using the gut in your brain to boost digestion

It seems every day we are learning more and more about how our gut, commonly referred to now as our “second brain”, communicates with our brain, influencing our mood, our mental health, and more.

But what’s still not getting a lot of attention is the reverse, what I call the “second gut”: the gut that’s in your brain. I’m talking about the influence your mind has on digestion and nutrient assimilation, and consequently on your hunger, cravings, and overall relationship with food.

So in honor of Mindfulness Day, September 12, I want to share with you how your brain affects digestion, and how you can use that to your advantage.

Attention and the Cephalic Phase Digestive Response (the CPDR)

If you’re like most people, you don’t give too much thought to eating. In fact, you’re probably engaged in some other activity while “eating on the side”.

If this is you, then you are missing out.

Research estimates that 30-40% of our digestive capacity comes from paying attention.[1] Digestion actually starts in your brain. Your Cephalic Phase Digestive Response (CPDR, where cephalic means “of your head”) combines catalogued information about the food you are eating with input from chemical receptors on the tongue and in the oral cavity to prime your digestive system for what’s coming. The CPDR initiates secretion of digestive enzymes needed to handle the incoming food.

If your attention is elsewhere while you eat, that is, if you are multitasking, you’re not fully engaging your CPDR, which means your digestion is operating at about 60-70% of capacity. Your body will not absorb nutrients as efficiently, which can lead to increased hunger and cravings, as your body tries to get the nutrients it needs.

In addition, hunger later on is influenced by our perception and experience of what we ate.[2] Experimental evidence suggests that people’s hunger levels are better predicted by their memory of how much food they ate rather than by how much they’d actually eaten.  But if you aren’t paying attention when you eat, you won’t remember.

In other words, by paying attention – by being present and mindful when you eat – you will digest and assimilate nutrients more efficiently, and your appetite will be satisfied.

Your thoughts influence digestion too!

What kinds of thoughts, beliefs, and emotions do you bring to the table?

Your mind is extremely powerful. Your thoughts create your experience, including your eating experience. And your thoughts influence digestion.

If you are thinking stressful thoughts while you eat, whether it’s because you choose to discuss the day’s challenges or the news, or because you have an embattled relationship with food such that the very act of eating brings up thoughts like “This food will make me fat,” “I shouldn’t be eating this,” “I wish I didn’t have to eat at all,” “I hate this bland diet food,” your digestion will be impacted.

Think of stress and digestive power as being in opposition: the more stressed you are, the weaker your digestion will be. By thinking negative thoughts that trigger stress in your body, digestion and nutrient absorption are diminished.

Enter the skeptic: but there can’t be all that much of an effect here, right?

Well, think about the placebo effect. It’s estimated that 35-45% of all prescription drugs may owe their effectiveness to the placebo effect, and the percentage is even higher for over-the-counter medications.[3] In one very powerful study [4], subjects given a placebo but told they were testing a new chemotherapy treatment actually experienced hair loss. To quote Marc David [1: p. 125]

“If the power of the mind is strong enough to make our hair fall out when taking a placebo, what do you think happens when we think to ourselves: ‘This cake is fattening’?”

You’ve probably heard of the mind’s ability to heal the body. Why is it so far-fetched to acknowledge the mind’s ability to empower digestion?

So next time you sit down to eat a meal, be mindful of the experience and think positively about how the food is going to nourish and energize your body. Perhaps say a prayer or grace or give thanks for the food that is before you. After all, thoughts of gratitude and appreciation will help you relax and put you into the state for optimal digestion and nutrient assimilation. I doubt that’s the original intention of saying grace before a meal, but if doing so can have that effect, why not?

 

[1] David, Marc, 2005, “The Slow Down Diet: Eating for Pleasure, Energy, and Weight Loss”. Rochester, VT: Healing Arts Press. 

[2] Brunstrom, Burn, Sell, Collingwood, Rogers, Wilkinson, Hinton, Maynard, Ferriday, 2012. “Episodic Memory and Appetite Regulation in Humans”. PLOS ONE, December 5, 2012.

[3] “Placebo—The Hidden Asset in Healing”, in Investigations. Institute of Noetic Sciences Research Bulletin 2, no. 14. 1985.

[4] Fielding, J.W., 1983. “Adjunct Chemotherapy in Operable Gastric Cancer,” World Journal of Surgery 7, no. 3.

Are food sensitivities disrupting your thyroid?

I want to again talk about your thyroid. Why? Well, thyroid dysfunction is one of the most misunderstood conditions in the medical community. As a result, it’s often mismanaged and under-treated. The thyroid is a vital gland that every cell in the body needs in order to function optimally. Currently, there are approximately 300 million people, worldwide who experience thyroid issues and half of them are unaware.

Last week, I shared how environmental toxins can disrupt thyroid function and what you can do about it.

This week I want to focus on food.

Food is the strongest ally we have when it comes to making significant shifts in health. With eating being one of the most repetitive activities you do several times in a day, it’s also a pathway to compromising your body if you consistently eat foods that do not agree with it.

I’m talking about food sensitivities.

Food sensitivities are a large contributor to hormone imbalance and disruption in the body. Common foods that people show sensitivities towards include gluten, dairy, soy, eggs, corn, nightshade fruits and vegetables. Of course, everyone is bio-individually unique, and you can be sensitive to pretty much any food.

Here’s the thing. There’s no reliable medical test for food sensitivities.

Let me be more specific. There are tests that can tell you:

  • Yes, you are allergic* to this food.
  • Yes, you are sensitive to this food.

What medical tests cannot tell you is what you really want to know:

  • No, you are not sensitive to this food.

The only way to really know whether you are sensitive to a particular food is to use your own body as a guide and conduct what’s called an elimination / reintroduction experiment: you eliminate the suspect food from your diet for at least 7 days, and then reintroduce it slowly while monitoring for symptoms. This kind of experiment is best conducted under the guidance of someone who understands and is experienced in how to do this and what to watch for.

This is precisely what my 14 Day Mind-Body Reset Challenge does.

I shared about this challenge last week, and congrats to those of you who already signed up and took advantage of early bird pricing – which ends TODAY!

This challenge is designed to help you figure out what foods you may be sensitive to. It also provides a pathway for your system to detox, heal, and restore your baseline of well-being.

Best of all: you come away from it having learned a protocol that you can then repeat on your own at any time.

I put myself through this protocol a couple times a year. I love it because I get to eat whole foods that make me feel great. And each time I challenge myself to find new, delicious recipes to use not only during the challenge but as part of my regular routine (my recent find: “Smoky Garlic Quinoa Stir-Fry”).

I invite you to visit this page to learn more about the challenge. Make sure you check out the testimonials, because while I know the challenge has yielded profound results for many people, I also know you won’t just take my word for it.

Honestly, you owe it to yourself to try this challenge – to discover how good you can really feel!

p.s., I also offer a private 1:1 version of the challenge that we can customize to meet your needs and your schedule. If you’re interested, contact me!

September is all about the Thyroid!

Welcome to September! Lots of good things happening this month, including the first day of fall, and the return of all things pumpkin – in just about every food imaginable.

September is also National Thyroid Cancer Awareness month.

Thyroid health is an issue that is near and dear to my heart. So many of my clients and friends suffer from thyroid dysfunction. I guess that’s not surprising, since about 300 million people worldwide are experiencing thyroid issues, half of which are undiagnosed. And women are more susceptible to thyroid irregularities, and thyroid cancer, than are men.

Your thyroid plays such a big role in your overall health. Symptoms of thyroid dysfunction are all over the place – unexpected weight change, lack of energy, foggy brain, difficulty sleeping, feeling cold, thinning hair, dry skin, depression, anxiety, and more. Yup, it affects lots of things.

That’s why my emails this month are going to focus on what you can do to keep your thyroid healthy, or improve its health if you are experiencing some degree of dysfunction.

One of the major influences on thyroid health is toxic load. More and more evidence suggests that thyroid problems can be caused or exacerbated by toxins in our environment, such as chemicals like chlorine and fluoride in our drinking water; pesticides, hormones, and other chemicals and preservatives in our food; toxins in cleaning and self-care products; environmental pollutants; air fresheners; and more.

Yes, there are a lot of toxins in today’s world. The good news is that our body is equipped to handle at least some level of toxicity. The better news is that there are some simple changes you can make to decrease the toxic load on your body.

1. Improve the quality of water that goes in and on your body. This includes drinking water and bathing water. Try to get a good filter for your drinking water, and avoid drinking plastic bottled water as much as you can. You can also get filters for your shower. You are looking to filter out chlorine, bromine, and fluoride, as these chemicals can interfere with thyroid function.

2. Up your food quality. Begin by using the Dirty Dozen & Clean Fifteen lists (also available as an app) to prioritize which foods you purchase in organic form in order to reduce your pesticide intake. Also look for meat products that are free of hormones and antibiotics and fish sources that are low in mercury.

3. Choose less toxic personal care products. Start by swapping out your 3-5 most used items, for example, shampoo/conditioner, body wash/soaps, lotions, makeup, deodorant. Check out the app “Think Dirty”. It has many common products broken down into their ingredients and categorized by toxicity level.

4. Switch conventional household cleaning products to non-toxic alternatives.

I suggest you focus on making small shifts in one of these areas at a time.

If you’d like some additional support in detoxing both body and mind, I’m running my popular 14 Day Mind Body Reset Challenge starting September 13. This challenge combines a whole-food cleansing elimination-reintegration protocol with body and mind practices to release toxins and excess bloat from your tissues, reset your digestive system and appetite, and renew your baseline of well-being. You owe it to yourself to check it out!

Stay tuned: in upcoming emails, I’ll reveal another major factor that affects thyroid health and what you can do about it, plus two key nutrients your thyroid needs and how to get them.

Until then…

Let’s Talk … Thyroid!

Did you know: about 300 million people worldwide are experiencing thyroid issues – and half of them don’t even know it!

And women are 10 times more susceptible to thyroid irregularities than are men!

Your thyroid gland plays such a big role in your overall health. Symptoms of thyroid dysfunction are all over the place – unexpected weight change, lack of energy, foggy brain, difficulty sleeping, feeling cold, thinning hair, dry skin, depression, anxiety, and more. Yeah, it affects lots of things.

Traditional medicine detects thyroid dysfunction using a standard blood test measure. Depending on the results, you may then be placed on thyroid medication to adjust the amount of thyroid hormones in your body. There are two major drawbacks to this approach:

  • The standard blood test measure only detects thyroid dysfunction when it has reached a certain stage. It does not detect early thyroid abnormalities.
  • Thyroid medications treat the symptom; they do not address the cause.

Most often when there is a thyroid challenge, it stems from other areas of the body also being out of balance. By restoring this balance, we can improve your thyroid health.

I’m so excited that I am now able to offer a program designed to do just that – restore balance and create the optimal environment for your thyroid to THRIVE!

Introducing the …

Thyroid Health Transformation Program!

Who is this program for?

  • Anyone who has been diagnosed with a thyroid issue, is currently taking thyroid medication, and is looking to improve their thyroid health naturally
  • Anyone who is experiencing the symptoms of a thyroid issue but has not been been placed on thyroid medication

Why this program?

This program was co-created with Dr. Marcelle Pick (OB/GYN, NP, IFM Certified Practitioner), who has been practicing functional medicine for 30 years.

The program combines Dr. Pick’s thyroid health protocol with powerful coaching methods to create an experience uniquely designed to address your thyroid health in a way that’s never been possible before. In this program, you will:

  • Learn how to make yourself a priority within the context of your busy lifestyle
  • Take charge of your life and your health without compromising everything else
  • Learn how to eat to support healthy thyroid function
  • Identify and remove toxins that affect your thyroid health
  • Build stress resilience and practice stress reduction techniques
  • Turn new healthy habits into behaviors that last

Most importantly, as a participant in this program, I offer you a safe environment where you can fully express yourself, perhaps in a way you have never been able to before. I will be there to support you, to challenge you, to stretch you into being the best YOU possible.

 

How does this program work?

When you enroll in the Thyroid Health Transformation program, you receive:

  • Twelve weekly, private 60 minute coaching sessions with yours truly. During these coaching calls, I share curated information and customized coaching exercises designed to accelerate your results and help you achieve major breakthroughs.
  • Communication between appointments via email and/or Facebook message.
  • Two emergency 15 minute calls, in case you get stuck and aren’t sure what to do. (And you get to decide what counts as an emergency.)
  • Customized curated done-for-you materials such as checklists, handouts, exercises, and more. This program doesn’t exist to give you MORE information, it exists to give you CURATED information. What this means is that you can expect to receive information that is relevant, practical, and actionable, so that you can stay out of overwhelm and in action.

I’m interested. What’s my next step?

Easy – let’s talk to see if this program really is right for you! Just click this link to schedule a call.

To your health,

Dawn

8 Healthy On-The-Go Snacks

I’m happy to share some really healthy snacks that you can eat on-the-go and guilt-free!

But first, why am I talking about healthy on-the-go snacks?

Well, let’s face it. Our modern lives get so busy, and that makes it hard to find time to suss out a healthy snack.

But that doesn’t mean you have to compromise your health by settling for Twinkies or the like from a vending machine!

What’s important about healthy snacking?

Healthy snacks are important for those in-between meal moments because they:

  • Sustain your energy from meal to meal
  • Stabilize your blood sugar
  • Keep your mood steady and focus sharp

How do I know what to look out for in healthy, on-the-go snacks?

Here are some great snacking options:

  1. Nuts—an excellent source of high protein, healthy fat, and other nutrients. Look for raw or dry roasted and stay away from nuts with additives like vegetable oil and salt as these can turn rancid if they sit in a bag in a store. Mixed nuts are a great choice – look for a mixture that includes Brazil nuts. Brazil nuts are an excellent source of selenium, an important nutrient that many of us are deficient in. (By the way, did you know that peanuts and cashews aren’t actually nuts? Peanuts are legumes, and cashews are seeds, which brings us to…)
  2. Seeds—pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds are good sources of vegetable protein. Look for raw seeds wherever possible. You can find them in the bulk food section.
  3. Fruit—packed with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Look for organic fruit like bananas packed with potassium and oranges loaded with Vitamin C. Combine your fruit with nuts or nut butters for an added health boost.
  4. Yogurt—high in protein and a good source of healthy fats. Look for plain, full fat, organic yogurt and avoid ones that contain artificial flavors or sweeteners. Add some cinnamon and/or berries for a pleasure boost.
  5. Hard boiled eggs—good source of protein and healthy fat that will keep your blood sugars level. Boil them the night before and throw a couple in your bag.
  6. Peanut butter or nut butter sandwich—also high in protein and stabilizes blood sugar. Look for a nut butter brand that is organic or free of additives, and use a bread that is minimally processed – sprouted grain bread is my bread of choice.
  7. Energy bars—potentially a much healthier and nutritious alternative to chocolate bars, but quality varies widely! Avoid brands with soy protein isolate and look for brands that contain over 10 grams of protein (whey, hemp, or pea, for example). Watch for added sugars, flavorings, and preservatives! Use my secret cravings formula: carbs – protein – fiber <= 10 (5 is even better!). If the bar satisfies my cravings formula, it won’t send you on a blood sugar roller coaster ride. Or make my no-bake protein bars!
  8. Raw veggies—slices of raw veggies are loaded with vitamins and minerals. Choose organic veggies where possible and cut the morning of to maintain their maximum nutrients instead of buying pre-cut slices in a bag. Pair up with some hummus or guacamole for added flavor and fun.

What do I do now?

If you want to make sure that you’re eating healthy on a regular basis, or you have questions about whether you should be snacking and if so when, then click here now to schedule a time to talk with me 1-on-1. I can help you sort this out so you look and feel great!

To your health!

Got Stress?

Got stress?
 
Who doesn’t?
 
In my coaching practice, stress management is a big focus. Why? Well, stress affects your eating habits, digestion, appetite, sleep, mood, energy, and so much more. I want my clients to regularly operate from a place where they are maximizing their digestion and metabolism, experiencing healthy mood and appetite, and are able to make calm, empowering decisions about their health on a moment-to-moment, day-to-day basis.
 
I take a 3-layered approach to stress management:
 
  1. Build Resilience, in mind and body, to reduce the effects of stress.
     
  2. Shift Reactivity, that is, shift your mindset to you react in a stressful manner less often.
     
  3. Promote Release through tools that help you release stress readily when it does occur.

In this post, I want to focus on the base of the pyramid: resilience. Here are some ways you can build stress resilience.

  • Mind Body Nutrition: Proper nutrition is key to stress resilience. But proper nutrition goes beyond what we eat, which is where most people focus. I believe focusing on the how, when, where, who, and why of eating are just as important, and my clients’ results support that. If you want to learn more, message me or check out my course Empower Your Relationship With Food.
     
  • Meditation: A regular meditation practice can contribute greatly to improving your stress resilience. Meditation is not difficult, but it is a practice. You need to stick with it for a while to reap the benefits. There are so many tools and resources out there to help you get started. One of my favorites is the Zen 12 meditation program, because it uses ‘brainwave’ sounds to shift you into a state of total relaxation and give you an hour’s worth of meditation in just 12 minutes.
     
  • —Movement helps release stress energy trapped in your system. The key here is to engage in movement that you enjoy, whatever that might look like for you. For some, this may involve intense exercise, for others, it may involve practices like yoga or tai chi. Movement could be walking, dancing, working around the house, gardening. But watch out – you can increase your stress through over-exercising, or through engaging in movement activities that you really don’t like. So experiment and find out what resonates with you. And create some variety!
     
  • Sleep quality. Poor sleep is a stress on your system. Getting quality sleep is key to creating stress resilience. That’s when your body performs the majority of its detox and repair functions, in order to get your body ready to face a new day.

—Other practices that can build stress resistance include: being in nature, play (whatever that means to you – could be playing sports or games, playing with children, playing with pets), exploring your creativity, journaling – keeping a gratitude journal, for example.

Two products that form a regular part of my stress resilience protocol are:

  • EMRO Quantum energy Stress Relief discs – like acupuncture without needles, these non-transdermal, non-medicinal discs help balance your body’s energy so that you experience less stress.
  • Isagenix Ionix Supreme: this nutrient-rich tonic, featuring a blend of Adaptogens, helps balance and normalize the body’s systems while protecting against the negative effects of stress.

If you are interested in learning more about either of these products, email me!

I’d love to hear from you: what do you do to cultivate stress resilience? Comment on this post or email me. I’ll collect your responses to feature in a future post.

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