awareness, clean eating, health

Trust your gut!

“This is a product-provided, sponsored conversation that contains affiliate links. All opinions, text and experiences are my own. VSL#3 is a medical food and must be used under medical supervision.”

Hi friends! I hope all is well and you are enjoying your week! Today I want to talk about something that most of us don’t want to bring up but it’s something that is WAY too important not to discuss. Your gut health.

Chances are you know someone that suffers from IBS, ulcerative colitis or ileal pouch, or maybe you are the one suffering from one of these gastro issues. I personally know firsthand the pain and discomfort that these issues can bring into someone’s life. I have suffered from IBS for quite sometime and there have been days that I have been hunched over in pain from excessive bloat and extreme cramping. I went through dark, painful days where I thought I would never be able to live or eat normally again.

Did you know:

  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is a serious GI issue that affects the large intestine (colon) and commonly causes cramping, abdominal pain, bloating, gas, diarrhea and constipation; there is no cure or known cause for IBS.
  • Up to 20% of U.S. adults have IBS symptoms. More women than men are diagnosed with IBS but many never seek medical help for it.
  • Ulcerative colitis is a chronic disease that causes inflammation and sores, called ulcers, in the inner lining of the large intestine, which includes the colon and the rectum. The inflammation causes erosion of the lining of the colon, leading to bleeding, production of pus, diarrhea, and severe abdominal discomfort.
  • Ulcerative colitis affects more than 1 in every 1,000 Americans and mostly starts between the ages of 15 and 30.

As a nutritionist I knew there was more to it than stuffing a bunch of prescription pills down my throat and hoping for the best. I knew that I needed to start listening and trusting my gut! But how? Where to start? I did a TON of research on gut nutrition and gut bacteria. I started eliminating foods and drinks to find what foods were triggering my symptoms. And I also started adding probiotics into my diet – something that I had never taken or knew a whole lot about.

Probiotics can be found in fermented foods such as pickles or sauerkraut and in pill form. While many people are familiar with the general term “probiotics,” most do not understand the importance of knowing which specific strain of organism should be used for which specific disease or condition. It is suggested that adults should take at least one billion cells (also called colony-forming units or CFU’s) daily.

Ok, so where can you find a trusted and high quality probiotic? Right here!

VSL#3 is a high-potency probiotic medical food that is clinically proven in the dietary management of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), ulcerative colitis (UC) and ileal pouch. It is a proprietary formulation of a mix of 8 strains of live lactic acid bacteria, making it one of the few probiotics with this many strains. VSL#3 is at least 10 times more potent than the average probiotic!

They are gluten-free, Kosher and Halal certified. VSL#3 differs from other probiotics in that it is a medical food, not a supplement, and therefore must be used under medical supervision. VSL#3 is available at your local pharmacy. Please ask your pharmacist for VSL#3 as it is kept behind the pharmacy counter in the refrigerator.

I know for a fact that adding probiotics to my daily routine, along with eliminating trigger foods and eating fresh, whole foods has dramatically changed my gut health! If you are suffering and you are unsure where to go or how to treat it, I highly encourage you to talk with your doctor about adding VSL#3 into your life!

For more information about the high-potency probiotic medical food, VSL#3, that is clinically proven in the dietary management of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), ulcerative colitis (UC) and ileal pouch, visit Use the current coupon code “Doctor” to use at checkout on to receive $5 off your next purchase!

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Let’s chat!

Do you have any gastro issues?

Do you currently use a probiotic?

VSL#3® is a high potency probiotic medical food that’s clinically proven in the dietary management of IBS, ulcerative colitis, and ileal pouch. To learn more visit and LIKE the brand on Facebook.

This is a product-provided, sponsored conversation that contains affiliate links. All opinions, text and experiences are my own. VSL#3 is a medical food and must be used under medical supervision.

clean eating, health, life, self help

What is your number 1 tip for living a healthy life?

This is the number 1 question I receive when I start working with people: I need to start living a healthier life but I don’t know how or where to start!

This is a loaded question because living a healthier life isn’t always and shouldn’t be centered around your weight or what you eat. It should encompass everything you do – from self-love, your relationships, your habits, your career, your happiness, along with your health, diet and relationship with food. Your body, mind and soul all need to be synched together for optimal radiance!



Continue reading “What is your number 1 tip for living a healthy life?”

clean eating, health, vegan

Clean Eating Mama Mailbox – Vegan and Clean Eating

I recently became vegan, approximately 4 weeks ago. I am also hoping to transition to clean eating. I have found it very difficult to find a clean eating meal plan for vegans. All are for vegetarians. I am a busy mom and would like to find something I can pick up and follow, without a lot of hassle. Also a resource that might have suggested substitutions. For example, I do not like tofu at all. I also can’t stand sweet potatoes. And the a few meal plans I found were heavy in both.
Any suggestions?

First, let me just extend a HUGE congratulations to you and your new vegan journey! I hope you are enjoying it so far!
Starting anything new can come with a lot of questions and doubt which can lead to frustration. I have been eating vegan and clean for over four years and I STILL get frustrated at times – it’s very normal!
My view on Clean Eating has always been “Eat from the Earth”. Food should be consumed in its most natural state – no chemicals, un-processed, whole and mostly raw. I find it is so much easier to eat clean by being a vegan. But it wasn’t easy at first. You have to train your mind, stomach and body to eat a certain way and eventually it will become a habit that you wont even need to think about. For the first few years of being vegetarian and vegan I was eating my fair share of faux meat products, which are not that healthy for you. But it was a good transition substitute for me. It allowed me to fight my cravings while I was learning to cook and eat differently. Now I don’t crave the taste of meat at all and I don’t need faux meat. Not even tofu.
A typical day looks like this:
Breakfast: An apple with nut butter
Lunch: A salad OR a protein shake
Snack: handful of almonds with some raw crackers OR hummus with vegetables
Dinner: A cooked grain like quinoa, roasted vegetables (onion, brussel sprouts, carrots, cauliflower, garlic) and maybe some beans.

You will be constantly learning as you go. You will find what your body needs to survive and which foods make you feel strong, powerful and healthy. I have learned that a very high raw diet is best for my body. I LOVE bread and pasta but my body doesn’t. So I avoid it – the sick feeling is not worth it. I suggest keeping a food journal and documenting your food and the mood and feelings it gives you.
Most important, be easy on yourself. You are not perfect. Life and food should be enjoyed, not looked at negatively. This is NOT a diet, it’s a way of life. The transition should be slow, easy and enjoyable.
I wanted to include the vegan food pyramid. I think it is a great learning tool for those that are just starting out to eat vegan.
If you have any questions please feel free to leave them in the comments below or shoot me a email!
Healthy Eating!


5 Tips to Lower Your Blood Pressure Naturally

I received this article in my email from Bastyr College and I thought they were very good tips! Enjoy!

Has your doctor or pharmacist told you your blood pressure is too high? Elevated blood pressure, also known as hypertension, is two or more blood pressure readings greater than 140 mmHg systolic (top number) or greater than 90 mmHg diastolic (bottom number). Try these easy steps to lowering your blood pressure through diet and lifestyle:

  • Low-Salt Diet 8.25salt
    Minimize consumption of restaurant foods and packaged foods, including canned soups and frozen entrees, which may be high in sodium. Read food labels and eat less than 1,500 milligrams of sodium each day, or about 3.75 grams or 2/3 teaspoon of table salt. Leave the salt shaker behind and be creative with herbs and spices. Explore ways to enhance the taste of foods with salt-free flavors such as lemon, garlic, ginger, sage, rosemary, thyme and curry.
  • Moderate Physical Activity Increase physical activity to 30 to 60 minutes a day. Remember that every little bit counts, including taking the stairs, walking around the block on breaks, parking farther away in the parking lot, or getting off at an earlier bus stop. If you are overweight, a loss of 10 pounds can help lower your blood pressure. It is always a good idea to schedule a physical exam with your doctor before starting an exercise program.
  • Moderate Alcohol Intake and No Smoking Avoid smoking and excess alcohol as these can increase your blood pressure. Substitute with delicious nonalcoholic fruit drinks and herbal teas such as hibiscus tea, pomegranate juice and green tea.
  • Stress Reduction Find calming ways to decrease your stress and blood pressure through deep breathing, meditation, counseling, yoga or qigong.
  • Eat More Fruits and Vegetables WFM Fruits and vegetables provide great sources of blood pressure-lowering nutrients such as potassium and magnesium. Magnesium-rich foods include black beans, okra, spinach, pumpkin seeds and squash seeds. Unless you have kidney disease, you should increase consumption of foods high in potassium such as apricots, bananas, beets, Brussels sprouts and cantaloupe.

These simple dietary and lifestyle changes are safe and effective ways to lower your blood pressure. Uncontrolled hypertension puts you at an increased risk for heart attack, heart failure, stroke, kidney damage and blindness.
Marisa Pellegrini, ND, naturopathic physician and resident at Bastyr Center.

awareness, health, local, market

Your local market


The sun is shining! It’s time to shed the sweaters and coats — and maybe a few extra pounds too! What better way to do it than with a visit to your local farmers or produce market.

When you become involved in the "buy local" movement, you’re supporting farmers and families in your community and your local economy. It’s also an opportunity to go green and refresh your healthy eating habits. Here are some tips to get you started:

  1. Find what’s local. It’s as easy as typing "farmers market" into a search engine. You’ll find markets plus nearby farmers who sell their products, locations where you can pick your own and information on CSAs. What’s a CSA? It stands for community supported agriculture, and it’s an arrangement with local farmers for weekly deliveries of produce. Want an even easier first step? Next time you hit the grocery store ask if they feature local produce.
  2. Pay a visit. Get up and go — to the farm, the farmers market or even a roadside produce stand. You’ll find fruits, vegetables, herbs, nuts, poultry, meat, cheeses, eggs, syrups, honey, and even flowers, soaps and crafts.
  3. Make a plan. I scope out the products and then plan my meals. Just this past weekend, I found salad greens (leaf lettuce, spinach, romaine), onions, herbs and tomatoes. I also picked up some eggs. We have a local baker too — so I bought some great whole-grain bread.

Using local foods inspires me to prepare healthy, plant-based meals that are low in calories and high in nutrients. I also feel good about supporting people in our community who make their living on the land. It’s a win-win. We eat healthier — and help our local farmers, economy and environment.

Remember to bring your reusable bags for easy shopping! I use these bags and love them!



awareness, health, work

5 tips to succeed in eating healthy at work

For those of you trying to eat healthy can have some difficulty in keeping this up at your workplace. More often than not, the work pressure can mean that you skip your lunch or eat excessively as you work. Erratic eating habit along with eating anything that’s served up at the office canteen can seriously jeopardize your efforts at eating nutritious food. It is so easy to forget the meal hours especially in a stressful job area. Here are 5 tips on how you can still eat healthy at your workplace.

1. Bring your own homemade food

The office will be the last place where you can have a balanced, nutritious lunch or snacks so watch out and be well prepared. You can combat this by bringing in your own meal from home which naturally will be prepared according to your requirement. You can use the leftover chicken salad from dinner to prepare sandwich for your lunch. Always include some fruits and vegetables into your lunch box to balance out your main meat or chicken meal. This way you are accountable for what you eat, as well as aware of how much calories went into the lunch box. When you eat from the office canteen there is no track of how much sugar, fats and carbohydrates are going into your system.

2. Keep healthy snacks at work

Eating healthy is just not about lunch only but those munchies in between your coffee break. Why not load up on some healthy nuts, fruits and yoghurt in the refrigerator as these are suitably light but can still sustain you throughout the day. This also helps you to stay away from the vending machines for those tempting treats.

3. Control the portion of intake

Vary the kind of food you want to take to work but make them out in small portions, so that you can still eat throughout the day without minding the calories. These can come in the form of fruit salad, cereals and yoghurt which can be taken in small portions throughout the day.

4. Be conscious of what’s really healthy

Try to educate yourself on the nutritional values that you can derive from each food item or the harm it can cause you. Besides, do not go for those sodas and carbonated drinks but rather drink fresh water and sugar free iced tea. Study your menu balance and try to stick through with your plan, and avoiding all those food that’s out of your list.

5. Eat away from your desk

The worst place to eat at work is at your desk which can be a multiple distraction for concentrating on your food. You also lose track of how much portion you are eating and may consume more while still busy doing your work. When eating food, it is always nice to focus on what you are eating, savoring the flavor and enjoying the meal. Try to go to a secluded corner or take a seat in the park nearby where you can relax for the hour.


These few tips can make all the difference in your eating habit at work in a healthy and nutritious way. You can start off with this healthy practice if you have not already done so and you will begin to feel the benefits within no time.

About the author: Diana Maria is a blogger by profession. She loves writing on technology and luxury. Beside this she’s fond of books. Recently an article on Genetically Modified Foods attracted her attention. These days she is busy in writing an article on Patio Sets.

clean eating, health, weight loss

Be in charge!

Gaining control of your weight loss- conquering the obstacles that can sabotage your goals

imageWhen we start a new adventure or journey, the level of excitement can often fade. Those feelings can be replaced by levels of stress, shock, loneliness or simply just being overwhelmed. It’s up to you to gain that control back and help yourself back on your feet.

Don’t ever feel like you are alone – Because you’re not! Often times we don’t succeed on our weight loss journey because there is not enough support to help us through the tough and difficult times. Join support groups in your area, get involved on online weight loss forums and participate in beginner classes at your local gym or recreation center. Take the initiative to approach someone that you have been eyeing, seeing if they would like a work out partner. Chances are they have been thinking the same thing but too shy to approach anyone!

Keep a food and mood journal – Track your way to better health, one piece of food at a time. This is important for two reasons: The first reason helps to channel weak spots in your diet. Do you notice that you HAVE to have something sweet during stressful times or during the last 2 hours before you go home for the day? Learn to avoid these weak spots before they even start and plan more effectively. Instead of a candy bar have a few pieces of dark chocolate and a juicy piece of fruit.
imageThe second reason is for you to be able to listen to your inner voice. Feel guilty about writing down those cookies you ate? Write your emotion down! Journaling your mood is just as important. Looking back and reviewing how you felt before and after you ate something can be a wonderful learning lesson and help you look at the positive rather than the negative.
Tip – Don’t feel like you can “write” a journal? Use blogs instead! Carry your camera around and quickly snap pictures of your food. Free online blogging sites make it easy for you to upload photos and quickly write some text. You can share your blog site with friends and family, too. Gain instant support and connect with other like minded individuals!

Learn to cook all over again – See a recipe in a magazine but not sure if you can re-create it? Or worse yet, will it even taste good? We all get comfortable in the kitchen cooking the same meals over and over. This is failure waiting to happen because our taste buds quickly become bored. Cooking with others is a wonderful way to learn new techniques and ingredients. Get a group of friends together and take cooking lessons from each other, featuring healthy meals. If you want to splurge a bit you can also look for event centers offering cooking nights for a fee. Learn from skilled chefs, take notes, ask questions and have fun!

Eat seasonally and locally – Nothing is worse than sitting down to a healthy salad and not imagebeing able to taste it. Or looking forward to a juicy apple for it to be mealy. It really can dampen an appetite in a hurry. Store bought produce has been sitting in a cold storage, for who knows how long, before it reaches your kitchen. Buying local produce from a stand or farmers market helps eliminate the middle man, leaving you with delicious and edible fruits and vegetables that you can actually look forward to enjoying! Straight from the fields to you is a healthy way to embrace Mother Earth and it’s offerings. It’s also one of the greenest ways to shop as there is less of an impact on our environment.

Take control of your dreams today. You have the tools to help get over the slumps and humps, bringing you right back to your feet. Keep walking forward and don’t ever look back!


child obesity, clean eating, family, health

Eating Clean with Children

Question of the day: What are some really good starting out eating clean recipes for toddlers and family of 4?
Clean Eating is not as daunting or difficult as it may seem. In fact, once you start living this life style and slowly changing your eating, clean eating helps to simplify your meal time!
basket Now remember – clean eating has many definitions depending on who you ask. To me it simply means: To eat from the Earth. But can it really be that simple while still pleasing a family of 4?
Yes. But transition slowly. Introduce new foods at every meal, and help your family become educated about their food choices. By showing them hard facts about the ever so “popular” foods they are used to consuming they will start to appreciate the simplistic foods we all often forget about. Like carrots, beets, baby spinach and beans.
When a person wants to start eating clean, the first piece of advice I give them is to make sure you have enough information. Read and research until you are blue in the face! This will help anyone understand that Eating Clean is not a diet. It’s a lifestyle change. It’s not about deprivation, counting calories or having cheat days. Clean Eating changes the way you look at food, and helps you to understand that healthy, wholesome food is as much of a necessity in our life as the air we breath and the water we drink. dietYou can read my entire Clean Eating Philosophy here.
I love Tosca Reno’s books. They are much more than cookbooks; they are a guide to help this journey be painless and enjoyable! She describes the foods we should be eating and the poisons we need to be eliminating. You will be surprised at how easy the recipes are, how delicious they can taste and how simple this way of life is.
Kids can be the worst critiques, though. Believe me, I know first hand! A few simple moves can warm your children to the idea of no more fast food and (gasp) more veggies!

  • Get them involved. Help them create the grocery list or give them a few items of their own to shop for. Children love to help! and the more they are involved the better they will be willing to accept something new.
  • Inspire the “little chef” inside of them. Look through cook books, have your child pick a recipe, then get cooking! You will be surprised at what your child really does or doesn’t like as far as food. When they make choices and decisions that shows them you have trust in them, and they will feel proud that they were able to help feed the entire family.

I hope these small suggestions help your new journey to eat healthier! I wish you the best of luck and years full of good eats!


2012 goals, clean eating, health, weight loss

Be food smart!

Now that 2012 is upon us, “diets” and “weight loss” are the number one Googled item – no surprise there! Instead of going on a strict diet try eating cleaner and smarter.
This is why “diets” do not work. It is all about lifestyle changes – changes for life! I wanted to share some of my go-to ways to think healthy and eat healthy, and to cut out unwanted calories and change unhealthy techniques. These techniques are for everyone – meat eaters, vegetarians and vegans. 

1. Eat your protein during breakfast. Eggs, Greek style yogurt, tofu or beans will help your energy level and reduce your cravings during the day.
2. Changing the way you cook. Instead of sautéing or frying, try poaching, steaming or roasting.
3. Substitutions are a great alternative to cooking. Use plain Greek style yogurt instead of sour cream, mustard or hummus instead of mayo, and lean ham or turkey bacon instead of pork bacon.
4. Think before you drink. You can easily drink more calories than you know. Drink seltzer water with citrus (orange, lemon, lime), use non-fat milk in your coffee and lattes, STOP the soda, and if you must drink juice, make it be 100% juice with no added sugar.
5. Check your portion size!  Eat on smaller plates to help cut down on over plating and portion out your plate with this ratio: 1/4 meat/protein 1/4 carb 1/2 vegetable. Also visualize your helpings: protein should be a deck of cards, starch should be a tennis ball and eat as much veggies/fruit as you like.
6. Measure your olive oil instead of “winging it”. You don’t need as much as you may think.
7. Reduce over all meat consumption by subbing with beans or tofu. Although you can buy lean meat, subbing 1-2 nights a week can help get more variety in your everyday diet.
8. Think ordering a salad is a “safe” choice? Salads can easily be just as unhealthy as a burger with fries! Order salads with dressing on the side, cut down on croutons and cheese. Use baby spinach instead of lettuce and add raw nuts for texture and healthy fat.
9. Add fat free flavor. Using a lot of herbs when cooking cuts down on the use of oils and sauces. Experiment by using basil, rosemary, thyme, parsley, red pepper flakes or anything that catches your eye.
10. Fill up on fiber. Eat plenty of beans, legumes and whole grains throughout the day to maintain your energy levels and helps keep you full longer.
11. Snack a better snack. Avoid cookies and chips and replace them with carrot sticks with hummus, fruit, nuts and low fat cheese.
12. Smarten up your soup. Broth soups are generally lower in calories and a good choice when you are craving comfort food. Steer clear of the cream based soups as they are loaded with calories and fat.
13. Take time to eat. It can take up to 30 minutes before you realize your are getting full. Sit, relax and enjoy your meal for once.
14. Don’t ever deny yourself. If you want dessert, enjoy! Just keep your portion size in check. Try enjoying a few pieces of dark chocolate with fruit for a great ending to any meal.

Losing weight can be a struggle but the more tools you have, the easier it will be. Good luck and HAPPY NEW YEAR!


awareness, cl, clean eating, health

Feed your brain!

Choosing the right foods to feed and nourish your brain are a fundamental element in living a healthy life. Increase your mental agility and improve your memory by choosing the right foods and helping your brain function better. Below are some great foods that help memory, strength and over all health. If you are already eating clean then you should already be feeding your brain the healthful way!

Opt for wholegrain food image
Walk into a room and forget why you’re there? Forget already what this article’s about? Make sure you’re eating a diet rich in a mix of wholegrain foods such as cereals, wheatbran, wheatgerm and wholewheat pasta. One study found that women who increased their folic acid, vitamin B12 and vitamin B6 intake showed an improvement in recalling information compared to women who were not taking a supplement.

Binge on blueberries Research from Tufts University in the United States and published in the Journal of Neuroscience suggests that blueberry extract can improve short term memory loss. Widely available, so there’s no excuse!

Eat more tomatoes

Tomatoes are high in lycopene - a powerful antioxidant There is good evidence to suggest that lycopene, a powerful antioxidant found in tomatoes, could help protect against the kind of free radical damage to cells which occurs in the development of dementia, particularly Alzheimer’s.

Add vitality with vitamins
Folic acid and vitamin B12 help prevent homocysteine from building up in the body – levels of which have been found to be higher in people who have Alzheimer’s.
Fortified cereals are a great source of B12 and also contain complex carbohydrates which release energy over a long period and will keep you more mentally alert throughout the day.

Feast on blackberries and boost levels of vitamin C Get a blackcurrant boost
Vitamin C has long been thought to have the power to increase mental agility. One of the best sources of this vital vitamin is blackcurrants.

Pick up pumpkin seeds
Just a handful a day is all you need to get your recommended daily amount of zinc, vital for enhancing memory and thinking skills.

Bet on broccoli A great source of vitamin K, which is known to enhance cognitive function and improve brainpower.

Sage helps improve memory Sprinkle on sage
Sage has long had a reputation for improving memory and although most studies focus on sage as an essential oil, it could be worth adding fresh sage to your diet, too.

Go nuts
A study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology suggests that a good intake of vitamin E might help to prevent poor memory. Nuts are a great source of vitamin E along with leafy green vegetables, seeds, eggs, brown rice and wholegrains.

Brainpower supplements
Two supplements are causing excitement within the medical world. The first Eye Q, a blend of high grade marine fish oil and evening primrose oil, is thought to boost brainpower in children. A study by Durham County Council and Mansfield College, Oxford, concluded that 40 per cent of the children sampled improved both their reading skills and attention spans when taking the supplements.

The second is called Ethos Endymion, which contains L-Carnosine, a strong antioxidant which appears to have dramatic results for a number of conditions: cataracts, improving skin tone, speeding up wound healing, and protecting the brain from plaque formation that may lead to senility and Alzheimer’s. L-Carnosine is found in chicken and lean red meat so this powder supplement could be especially useful for veggies

Article found on GoodFood