Got a bun in the oven?

No I’m not expecting, but I have a few close friends that are, so I wanted to share some information I learned through my coursework at Institute for Integrative Nutrition (IIN).

There is so much pregnancy information out there, and I can’t even begin to identify what the best, better or perfect book, author, or advice is. But, I can tell you that I really enjoyed what I learned from Nina Planck, food writer and farmer’s market entrepreneur. During one of my course modules, Nina, spoke for a few minutes about foods for pregnancy. I made sure to take good notes, as I figured they might come in handy at some point, and here we are!

My class notes are here, but of course these are only a summary. For far more details, I recommend reading her book, Real Food for Mother and Baby: The Fertility Diet, Eating For Two, and Baby’s First Foods. The fundamental premise of the book is sound: pregnant women’s diet should consist of mainly whole, unprocessed food. In fact, I think we can all agree that replacing the words “pregnant women” with any other word that describes the human species (and perhaps other species) would also hold true here.

If you want to get to know Nina a bit better, learn more about her food philosophy, and hear some of her advice and insights on food and fertility you can watch this video or read the transcript (it’s included on the site). Watch from minute 30:17 to 38:00 for pregnancy specific information.

Interestingly (although not surprising), while I was doing some research on what and how to eat while pregnant, I found a lot of the recommendations are the same as those provided for healthy eating. These include (and this is by no means comprehensive):

  • Drink plenty of fluids, primarily water
  • Incorporate ginger in the diet to subdue nausea and ease digestion
  • Drink 30 minutes before and/or after eating, as opposed to with food
  • Eat small meals throughout the day
  • Stick to vegetables, fruits and lean meats
  • Get plenty of omega-3s
  • Don’t over drink or overeat
  • Minimize heavy, greasy foods
  • Trust your stomach; not what others tell you works for them, as you may find certain habits work well for you & that you crave something that your body (and in this case, your baby) needs

And I’m out,

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What’s the avoidable cost of chronic disease in the U.S.? More than $1 trillion annually.

In 2007 the Milken Institute published a groundbreaking study on the economic and business burden of chronic disease in America. It was the first of its kind to quantify the avoidable costs if a serious effort were made to improve Americans’ health. According to the study, seven chronic diseases – cancer, diabetes, hypertension, stroke, heart disease, pulmonary conditions and mental illness – have a total impact on the economy of $1.3 trillion annually. Of this amount, $1.1 trillion represents the cost of lost productivity.

In 2014 they published an updated report “Checkup Time: Chronic Disease and Wellness in America” that looks at the economic burden of five out of seven of the diseases. Turns out, chronic disease costs were $28 billion greater than they had predicted. Aside from heart disease, for all other diseases, the number of reported cases rose beyond the projections, and actual treatment costs and productivity losses exceeded estimates.

So what does one do? You can read about it in the latest report. It also includes some recommendation to improve outcomes and reduce costs. On the bright side, there is a lot happening today, and there is also a lot of power in the hands of the individual. There are simple behavioral changes we can all make – eat well, sleep plenty, hydrate often, stay active, breath daily, manage stress, make time to do the things you love – albeit not always the easiest to consistently put into practice, but well worth it when you do.

There are several reasons why I prioritize my health, and the next time someone asks me how I stay motivated, I will add “because it also helps the economy.” :)

And I’m out,

Peace sign



How Food Affects Your Brain

If we want happier, smarter, more resilient, more productive people at work or at home, we have to create a brain that is wired to do so. We must feed our brains the fuel that allow it to operate at its max level. This starts by counting nutrients, not calories. Are you feeding your brain the nutrients it needs to thrive?

Why does what you eat impact your overall brain health? Well, probably because the human brain consumes 420 calories every single day. Just 2% of your body weight consumes 20% of everything you eat. Mood, anxiety, memory, focus, energy, sleep, learning agility, and more; all of these depend on the right brain chemistry. If we begin to consider food first, we are more likely to get that chemistry right.

So, how does one feed its brain with the right foods? This great talk by Dr. Drew Ramsey covers the importance of a well-nourished brain, and what nutrients and foods help to build a better brain. He also talks about a cool brain protein called BDNF, which is extra special because it enables the brain to grow, by producing more brain cells. When we are under stress and exposed to toxins in the environment, our brain cells are more apt to survive when exposed to BDNF. Unfortunately, the modern American diet has caused BDNF levels to go down. Time to make sure you are increasing, rather than decreasing, those levels.

Watch, learn and eat right.

And I’m out,
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Seaweed Chip Deliciousness

Following on from my recent post, I thought it only appropriate to share with you one of my favorite seaweed snacks at the moment – Ocean’s Halo Seaweed Chip. I personally LOVE the taste, and the crunch, but I am also very impressed by how nutrient rich these little chips are. Tasty and healthy! I can’t really ask for more. Try them out (if you haven’t already), and let me know what you favorite flavor is. I like a few flavors depending on what I am in the mood for. So far the front-runners are chili lime, sea salt, and hot & spicy. Oh and I just discovered you can get $1 off, so be sure to use the coupon!

And I’m out,
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What to do when you see weed

No, not the plant kind ;) I mean the sea kind! So, usually when I see seaweed, I buy and eat it, but I recently discovered disturbing ingredients in mainstream seaweed salad, which sparked my interest. Unfortunately, these ingredients make their way into other sushi dishes as well. This a big bummer…

I really like seaweed. It has whole host of benefits. I personally like the taste, but I also like that it makes my belly feel better, and provides me with a big punch of calcium. I hardly eat any dairy, so this is a big benefit for me. I feel cleansed and balanced, which is due to its toxic fighting and neutralizing properties.

So, here is the bad news. Mainstream seaweed salad (and other sushi ingredients), have several chemicals and additives, most notably food dyes. In the case of seaweed salad, you will find blue #1 (which has caused brain cancer in lab animals), and yellow #5 (which has the strongest link to severe allergic reactions). Furthermore, food dyes have been linked to numerous social and behavioral disorders in children and adolescents.

So what you thought was healthy, may not be. You can tell by simply looking at the food. Is it very bright green? Almost neon looking? Turns out, many restaurants and stores order their seaweed salad (and other products) in bulk from distribution companies who then deliver it pre-made. You can read about scary sushi ingredients here. I suppose I should have known there was food coloring, but I didn’t think about it until I read the back of the container.

Speaking of, this is a great example of how companies strategically call-out benefits on the front of packaging, while minimizing more harmful facts on the back (or bottom, or side).

So will I continue to eat seaweed salad and sushi? Yes, but I am going to be extra careful about where I eat and where I buy from. I would recommend asking the restaurant or store about the ingredients in their sushi.

And I’m out,
Peace sign

Trust in the Good, Trust in the Bad

I have a slight modification to my recent post on cultivating trust in one’s life. One of my best friends emailed me after reading my post, and told me she liked the post, and that she was trying to cultivate gratitude in her life. So, I wrote her back, and said, “Well why don’t you turn it into a gratitude box instead? Just write down things you are thankful for and slip it into the box.” She emailed me back and said “Okay, I will.”

Shortly after, I went through something kind of upsetting, and once it was over, I reminded myself to trust that all would be okay and to let it go, AND unexpectedly I also felt thankful. I was happy because of the immense support I had during the incident. So, I took out a piece of paper, and wrote “I am thankful for my friend, and her unconditional love, support and understanding,” and slipped it into my trust box.

When it comes to trust, I believe we need to trust in the good and the bad that happens in our lives. Often we fixate too much on the bad, and too little on the good, but it is unfair to give so much of our attention and energy towards the bad incidences. There is so much good that comes our way, and recognizing and appreciating that good is just as (if not more) important as letting go of or moving on from the bad.

SO, I would like to revise my trust box directions slightly, and suggest that you also use the box to practice gratitude. I started doing this, and have found that in times of strife, when I can also see the good, it helps boost my mood, calm my worries, and of course build my trust muscle even more! Also, it reminds me to be appreciative of all the good that I have in my life, which I admittedly tend to forget.

Here’s how it works:

  • On a small piece of paper, write down something good that happened recently or in the past, or something you are thankful for.
  • Then, fold the paper up, and put it into your trust box. Practice the act of identifying the good in your life, and appreciating the positive things that come your way.
  • Every day take time to write it down 1-3 things that went well, and put into the box to help build your trust muscle and to energize yourself.

And I’m out,
Peace sign