Digestive Balance

How does one achieve balanced digestion? I think we’ve all read a million and one tips out there—on the internet, in magazines, in various books. We’ve also heard a million different things from our doctors, the news, and of course, from Dr. Oz. But what is best for overall health and digestion? Truthfully, there is no one answer because everyone is so vastly different. What I would recommend for one person might be the total opposite for the next. Listed below are 10 very basic recommendations. Do keep in mind, however, that if you have any specific health problems, even these tips might not be quite right for you. For example, if you have a history of diverticulitis, Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, Celiac disease, or IBS, these tips might need to be tweaked.

I also do believe (at least in part) in various “diets” when it comes to digestive health, and I generally pull tidbits from different mythologies. Some helpful tips can be found in Ayurveda medicine, the blood type diet, low FODMAP eating, etc. So for each individual, recommendations will vary.

SO with all that in mind, here are 10 basic tips for healthier digestion…

1.) Warm water – Drink about 10 ounces of very warm water first thing in the morning (do this before anything else.) Simply run your tap water until it becomes warm, fill a glass, and chug away. Also, drink room temperaflaxture water rather than cold water throughout the day. Cold water can slow and aggravate the digestive process.

2.) Eat seeds and bran regularly – flax seeds, chia seeds, wheat bran, oat bran. You don’t need both every day, but try to get some of each here and there. For example, add chia seeds to a smoothie, sprinkle bran over your cereal, mix ground flax into your oatmeal, sprinkle any of these over a salad or mix into a rice dish.

3.) Eat more produce! Many health professionals recommend that you eat at least 3 servings of vegetables and 2 servings of fruit, daily. I would say to start there as your goal, and then increase, as you can. Obviously, the more, the better. Snack on veggies, add vegetables to your morning eggs, have a salad with lunch and dinner, have fruit at breakfast or as a snack. Plant-based diets are best, so begin your meals by planning what plant foods you’ll be having. And you’d be surprised what prunes and/or warm prune juice can do for you! (Or maybe you wouldn’t be surprised… I guess that one’s obvious.)

no-dairy14.) Avoid dairy. This is somewhat controversial. Being someone who LOVES dairy, it’s a hard one for me. I have read studies that have shown that children with chronic idiopathic constipation had tremendous success when the only dietary element that changed was the elimination of all dairy. In general, I would say avoid dairy if you struggle with gut problems (chronic constipation or diarrhea.) If you love dairy as much as I do, then treat yourself once in a while, but don’t consume it regularly. If you’re having bowel problems, give up dairy for a period of time to see if it helps.

And no, we don’t need dairy to get enough calcium and vitamin D. However, if you were getting most of your calcium and vitamin D from dairy, then you will need to be sure that you find other sources on a daily basis or take a supplement. (Dark leafy greens, fortified soy/almond milk, canned salmon, almonds, dried figs, tofu, soybeans, fatty fish, egg yolks.)

5.) Move your beautiful body! If your body isn’t moving, your digestion probably isn’t moving, either. Get walking, dancing, biking, jogging…whatever. It may also be helpful for you to take a *light* walk following meals for about 10-15 minutes. Do not go running right after you eat or do any stressful activity. That will compromise digestion; however, a very light stroll with a loved one may be beneficial.

6.) Practice yoga. You don’t have to take a yoga class every day, but it may be helpful for you to do a few specific yoga poses on a regular basis to aid in your digestive process. There are specific poses that would be recommended for you depending on your personal digestive process, such as constipation vs diarrhea vs heartburn, or a combination or 2 or all 3

of those. Yoga also does wonders for those of you who tend to hold stress in your digestive tract—or anywhere in your body for that matter!

7.) Practice deep breathing. Every cell of your body needs oxygen. Regular exercise and yoga help to bring oxygen throughout your body. Deep breathing exercises also help. Be conscious and aware of your breath, and practice Ujayi breath (as one does in yoga practice.)

8.) Create flavor profiles of food that work for you and your body. It’s hard for me to recommend just one type of flavor or food because everyone’s body is quite different. For example, if you tend to be constipated, I would suggest that you add warming spices to your diet, such as cumin and cinnamon. If you struggle with diarrhea, you may benefit from cooling flavors, such as fennel and cilantro.

9.) Try the squatty potty… I know it might seem silly at first, but I do think that it can benefit many people who struggle with bowel issues.

10.) Eat at roughly the same times each day. Your schedule is bound to change to some degree, but completely skipping meals or have an incredibly erratic schedule will place stress on digestion. Your work schedule may be variable, which I understand; I’ve been there, but do your best to keep your meal times within a 2-3 hour window. So most days, have breakfast between 6-8AM, lunch between 12-2PM, and dinner between 6-8PM.

And finally, to keep it all simple, be sure to get enough of the healthy versions of the 5-F’sfiber, fluid, fat, fitness, and fun :) Fiber in the form of whole grains, produce, nuts and seeds; fluid in the form of water; fat in the form of olive oil, ghee, coconut oil, sesame oil, nuts, seeds, nut butters, avocado, olives; fitness in whatever way you and your body enjoy; and fun because without fun, we’d all be a ball of unhealthy, imbalanced stress!

Happy eating, happy pooping :-D

New Year’s Resolutions

I’ve never been a big fan of New Year’s Resolutions, but it seems as though, the older I get, the more I like them. I think that, for me, they’re not just about the new year; they’re also about my next year, as my birthday is shortly after the 1st of the year. And now that I’ll be entering my thirties, it’s time to make some goals :)


So without censoring myself, here are my “New Year’s Resolutions”…

1.) Commit to yoga and meditation

I need to make these a priority in my heart and soul, not just in time.  Yoga is daily practice that helps the mind and body.  Meditation can mean so many different things, so I have a wide window of choices—sitting in stillness and silence, mantras and positive focus, listening to calming music with the focus on only 1 thought, watching the sun rise or set, starring at the stars and Universe, etc.

2.) Prioritize and stick to boundaries

I tend to work too many hours, and no matter how many times I tell myself that I am not overworking, I do. I need to work towards setting boundaries so that I can meet my own personal goals. I need to commit to working out in the mornings, otherwise, I get stuck at work and sacrifice my own health.

3.) Cook and bake more

I need to do more of what I love—what makes me feel happiest in my skin. And for me, that’s cooking and baking. I’ve always loved being in the kitchen, ever since I was a tiny tot. I started really helping out around the age of 4; I grew up in the kitchen, mixing, concocting, creating, baking.

4.) Make friendships

This is hard one. In 2014, I moved 1200 miles away from most of my friends and family. I’ve moved before—but this time, it feels even harder to make friends. I haven’t made real friends in the 9 months that I’ve been living here. I’m not sure how to accomplish this goal, but I suppose I just need to be more open, more spontaneous, less fearful of what others are thinking of me.

5.) BLOG more!

I’ve struggled with this one for various reasons—not prioritizing at work, simply not making the time, being so rundown that I can’t focus long enough to contemplate a post. I need to focus on writing freely without the personal expectations. Let it flow and let it be.

6.) Speaking of which, I need to write more in general.

7.) Body acceptance

Of course I struggle to some degree, just like everyone else.

8.) Stop comparing self to others

For some reason, I think I do this more now than I did even a year ago. Moving to Florida has somehow made me feel even more self-conscience. Maybe it’s my job, my loneliness, my lack of personal support/friends, the gym I go to. Whatever it is, I need to STOP. Some ideas for how to stop include: more positive thinking, having mantras, recognizing and redirecting thought patterns.

9.) LOVE MORE :) Myself, others, and the world around us!

So there’s my honest list. What are yours?

Whole Food Eating

Let me begin by stating: I’m not a fan of the “clean eating” trend that has swept across our country, globe, Internet, and blogosphere. That being said, I am obviously a fan of whole food eating. Please refer to blog title. Is there a difference, you ask, between “clean” eating and “whole food” eating? Well, by George, yes, I answer! Personally, I equate “clean” eating with “good” eating. If your food is not clean, then it must be dirty in some way—or bad, wrong. I disagree with labeling food as good or bad, so that’s why I tend to disagree with the clean trend/fad. I believe that it can make one think a little too hard about their food choices—is this product clean, clean enough, too many ingredients, too few, too many carbs, too little protein, too much sugar? I think that when we place a heavy emphasis on a weighted word, such as “clean,” we inadvertently place a moral connotation to the word, the food, and more importantly and dangerously—ourselves. Now, I also don’t want you to think that I believe we need to eat “whole” food 100% of the time, so don’t get me wrong there, either. But, I do think that we should strive for more of a whole food based diet. This is for maaaaaaany reasons. So, let me get started on my ‘splanin!

I would like to speak to the mental health aspect of whole food eating. I think that we rely far too heavily on food labels. When nutrition labeleverything we eat has a label, how can we resist reading it, especially when we are told that we ought to be reading and scrutinizing the label of every product on the grocery store shelves? And yes, some people do need to pay attention to food labels, if they are buying food that has a label. However, if we choose foods that don’t even have a label to begin with, then perhaps we are altogether better off. For example, if you buy canned beans, you should read the label to ensure that you are purchasing a lower sodium or no-salt added product. On the other hand, if you purchase dried beans and you cook them yourself, there is no need for a label at all. In fact, most people who regularly look at food labels are often looking at (and obsessing over) calories, fat, carbohydrates, and sugar. And that, my lovely readers, is just not necessary.

“Oh now wait,” you proclaim! “What about those who are overweight or obese or who have high blood pressure and need to watch sodium intake or whatever else?!” Well, truthfully, if you eat a whole food diet and you understand serving sizes and portions, you don’t need to read labels—you don’t need to count every calorie or gram of fat. For those of you who obsess over each calorie and gram of fat, I very much think you could benefit from letting go of that obsession, as well. I certainly don’t mean that in a harsh way; on the contrary, I feel for your struggle and I relate in many ways.

reading labelsMany of us scrutinize labels–which product has more calories, fat, sugar, sodium?  If you’re comparing two products, sometimes it’s hard to not scrutinize the labels, and we’re taught that this is what we ought to be doing!  The government has placed a great emphasis on label reading, and they have recently made nutrition labels larger and bolder.  They have been successful in moving label-reading into the restaurant world, as well.  Now, not only are we label-reading in the grocery store aisles, but when we’re looking at menu labels while trying to enjoy an evening or lunch out with friends/family.  We have placed such an emphasis on labels that we have forgotten that labels are VERY new in the world of nutrition and eating.  It wasn’t until 1990 that the Nutrition Labeling and Education Act (NLEA) was passed.  This act required that all packaged foods have nutrition labels.  It also stated that all health claims must be consistent with terms defined by the Secretary of Health and Human Services, such as “low fat” or “low sodium.”  And in 1991, the act further explained that the labels must list the “most important” nutrients in an easy-to-follow format.  And here is when we really began scrutinizing food labels.  Truthfully, the move toward more food labeling began in 1980, when the USDA Food and Nutrition Information Center (FNIC) published the 1980 Dietary Guidelines for Americans.  These guidelines emphasized various “healthy” behaviors, such as maintaining an “ideal” weight.  Also, these guidelines stated that we ought to avoid too much dietary fat, saturated fat, cholesterol, sugar, and sodium.

According to NationalEatingDisorders.org, the incidence of bulimia in women aged 10-39 tripled between the years 1988 and 1993.  According to TheEatingDisorderFoundation.org, in 1970 the average age a girl started dieting was 14; however, by 1990 the average age dropped to 8.  Hmm, that seems odd now, doesn’t it?  During the years that we began emphasizing “healthy” eating habits and label reading, we saw spikes in dieting behaviors and eating disorders.  So maybe label-reading isn’t the healthiest practice, after all.

A whole food diet will absolutely still contain some food labels, but it will contain many less. Eating carbohydrates in the form of starchy vegetables, fruits, fresh dairy, and products purchased in bulk (rice, quinoa, barley, millet, polenta, rolled oats, buckwheat groats, etc.) allows you eliminate MANY labels from your home cabinets. Purchasing animal proteins from local butcher shops, fish markets, and eggs from neighbors with hens or local farms eliminates more labels. And eating more plant-based proteins also eliminates labels, such as beans, legumes, and hemp seeds. Consuming fats in their natural form eliminates yet more labels—nuts, seeds, flax, chia all from the bulk bins, and olives from the olive bar, fresh nut butters, avocado, and fresh whole milk cheese and yogurt from local farms.

By getting the labels out of our homes, we establish a healthier relationship with food and its nutrients. The human body needs macronutrients (carbohydrate, protein, and fat) to survive, along with many vitamins and minerals. When we spend so much time evaluating whether a food has X number of calories or X grams of fat or sugar, we are completely forgetting about what is in the food that we truly need. For example, what do we know about peanut butter right away without even referring to a label? That per 2 tablespoons, there’s roughly 190-200 calories and probably 15-16 grams of fat. If you’re a young female, I can almost guarantee that you knew that answer right away. But what nutrients are in the peanut butter that your body craves and needs to live to its fullest potential while fighting off early aging and disease? How about vitamin E, niacin, choline, potassium, phosphorus, magnesium, copper, zinc, and omega-6 fatty acids.

Photo credit: PsychologyToday.com

Photo credit: PsychologyToday.com

THIS is what whole food eating does. It helps us to nourish our bodies and minds while working towards letting go of unnecessary obsessions over grams and calories. When we feed our bodies right, we are not deprived or over-indulged. Your body can give you more information than any food label ever could. Living without the label is a great step toward intuitive eating and the mind-body connection. Whole food eating forces us to eat natural foods while letting go of obsessions over counting what’s in the food, such as carbs, fat, and sugar. I urge everyone to get rid of as many labels as you can. If there a no-label option, choose it. Try it out and see how it effects you and your mind-body connection.

Date and Nut Balls

I firmly believe in the necessity of ending most meals with a little tasty treat.  Often, I simply eat a glob of nut butter because well, why not?  Other times, I get a square of 72-85% dark chocolate and top it with a glob of nut butter.  Why?  Well, why not?  But then sometimes I want something sweet.  And that’s why these Date and Nut Balls are the perfect endnote to any balanced (or unbalanced) meal!

They are suuuuuper-duper easy to make.  However, if you don’t have a food processor of some sort, you may not be quite equipped to whip these up.  Basically, all the ingredients get tossed into the food processor, you wiz it up, you form your balls. Voila!


¾ cup pitted dates (I used whole dates, pitted)

½ teaspoon vanilla extract

1/16 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder

2 tablespoons unsweetened shredded coconut

1/3 cup nuts (any kind you like—almonds, cashews, pecans, walnuts)

1 tablespoon nut butter (I used sunflower seed butter)

1 tablespoon dehydrated peanut butter (I use Betty Lou’s Just Great Powdered Peanut Butter)


• Put the dates into a food processor, blend until they are mostly broken up.

• Add the rest of the ingredients to the processor bowl, blend until everything forms a good dough.  It might look a little dry, but that’s okay.

• Remove the blade from the processor and set aside – you don’t want to cut yourself! (Trust me on this one…)

• Form the mixture into balls by simply taking a few teaspoons full and pressing the mixture into balls.  The warmth of your hands will help the balls to form.

• These balls stay fresh for a long time!  Just keep them in an airtight container and they’re shelf-stable for a while.  I’ve kept them for up to a month and they’ve been just great.

Date & Nut Balls with Shredded Coconut

Date & Nut Balls with Shredded Coconut

I often enjoy one after lunch :)

I often enjoy one after lunch :)

A New Introduction

I’ve been away from the blogging community for quite some time. As you may know from previous posts, I moved and began a new job, which has taken some getting used to. Additionally, I’m currently taking an online class.

So, let’s start off on a new page, with a new beginning, and let’s get to know each other again. I’m Kate. I’m a New Englander who has found herself residing in the horridly humid depths of Orlando, Florida; and might I add, not by my own choice, but by my husband’s choice whom I happen to adore. His career is in hospitality/hotel management. Obviously that industry is booming here in the tourist capital of the U.S. of A. So alas, here we are.

I’m a registered dietitian currently working in an acute clinical hospital. I have a varied background, including long-term care, food service, school nutrition, retail dietetics, and a splash of sports nutrition. I LOVE cooking, which has been the case since I was about 4 years old. My family assumed my career would be devoted to food because it’s been my passion my entire life.

I am a firm believer in eating balanced, whole food—not “clean” eating, per se, but real food eating. Avoiding most foods that are processed and pre-made, but also allowing yourself to be free to enjoy a treat here and there. I believe in eating food that nourishes the soul, the spirit, the body, and the mind. I believe in fun fitness, as I like to call it. For years, I spent hours upon hours slaving in the gym. And for most of the time, I hated it! I’ve finally begun to learn that being healthy and fit isn’t about doing something you have to do; it can truly be about doing the things that you love to do. I’ve learned that I love biking, hiking, pilates, yoga, rollerblading, kettlebell workouts…and I’m learning more each day!

I also believe in positive body image. The internet (including every social media site) is flooded with posts and pictures of “perfect” bodies that are tiny, tight, and toned. We all have very different bodies. You’re going to find people who will try to tell you that if you eat “this meal plan” and you follow “these workouts,” you’ll have a 6-pack in 4-8 weeks. I’m not one of those people.  Health is on the inside, not the outside.

I want to help people attain healthy living within their own life. Healthy living doesn’t look the same for everybody, and every body doesn’t look the same at its healthiest state. Healthy living isn’t just about eating right and exercising. It’s also about accepting your body, who you are, learning to balance, letting go of what isn’t needed, sleeping soundly, getting ahold of your anxiety, laughing and loving etc. Most importantly, healthy living is about living! And if you’re devoted to achieving the perfect anything, you’re probably not living life to its fullest.

So here’s my little welcome back post, as well as a new get-to-know-me post. I have quite a few post ideas, so you’ll be seeing more of me :)