Trust Your Gut

Trust your gut



Each day we are faced with a plethora of decisions to make. Starting with the time we wake up, what we eat, where we go and what we do throughout the day, and finally what time we go to bed.

Many of these decisions are routine and don’t require much thought, except if you are struggling with a mental health disease, then every decision you make can literally be gut wrenching.

I mentioned in my “Happy New Year” post that there is a direct correlation between your brain and gut. I didn’t realize this until my own gut health was compromised.

What does your gut tell you?

My late husband, Larry, was a small business owner, and after he died, I was faced with having to make many decisions on my own. My confidante, most trusted partner was no longer here to help me figure out the next step. Whether it was personal decisions regarding our home, children, pets, etc. or business decisions, I found myself in a precarious position, the finality of each path I chose rested solely on my shoulders.

I was fortunate to have a good support system to guide me with information and listen as I jockeyed back and forth on what path to take. A common question many asked when I was undecided was, “what is your gut telling you?”

Funny, Larry and I used to say that to each other after weighing all the pros and cons. Ultimately, we relied on that feeling we get in the pit of our stomach when we’re about to take the plunge on an important decision. Have you relied on the feeling in your gut before? Does your decision give you relief, or make you feel more anxious?

What is your gut?

Your digestive tract: the mouth, esophagus, stomach, small and large intestines, colon, and rectum, is also known as your gut.

From the moment any particle enters the mouth it must follow this path. Along the way, the body will absorb certain elements, pass nutrients on to your liver, pancreas and gall bladder, any waste eventually makes its way out of your body through the rectum.

What I will focus on today is what lives inside your gut and what you put into your mouth will impact it for better or worse.

Your gut flora

Gut flora is a description commonly used to describe the complex microbiome living in your gut.  Inside this microbiome lives bacteria (good and bad) and other organisms that, in good health are harmonious and depend on one another to help digest what is put in your mouth.

Any imbalance will disrupt the microbiome and impact your immune system, leaving you open to contracting an illness or disease. Recent research has shown that an imbalance can lead to neurological disorders as well such as ADHD, Autism, Depression and Anxiety to name a few.

You may be wondering how in the world can your gut impact your mental health. I’ll cover some of this in this post and more in a later post.

Your second brain

Along with all the microbiomes in your gut, there are over 100 million neurons embedded in its wall. Now, when we talk about neurons, we are usually talking about the neurons in our brain and spinal cord, also known as our central nervous system (CNS).

Scientists all over the world are now referring to the gut as the 2nd brain in our body because it is now known that the gut has its own independent nervous system. The enteric nervous system (ENS) is a mesh-like network of neurons that lines the entire digestive tract.

How do you know if your gut is out of balance?

  • Experience digestive disorders; constipation, chronic diarrhea, leaky gut
  • Difficulties with Sleep – trouble falling or staying asleep
  • Allergies – food allergies are a common indication your gut flora is out of balance
  • Skin irritations such as eczema


What causes your gut to go out of balance?

  • High sugar diet, bad bacteria loves sugar
  • Over-use of anti-biotics
  • Too many processed foods
  • Living with constant stress (hello grief!)
  • Chemicals from smoking, drugs (prescribed, over the counter, opioids, etc.)
  • Too much alcohol (alcohol in moderation can be beneficial to the gut, but too much will negatively impact it)

Is all this information overwhelming?

There is so much information with respect to our gut and the impact it has on our health, that I will need to break it out into a couple of posts.

However, one area that most people can relate to is sleep, or lack thereof.

Approximately 90% of serotonin is made in the gut.

Serotonin has many functions in the body, one is sleep; specifically aiding one in falling asleep and staying asleep.

Serotonin is responsible for stimulating the parts of the brain that control sleep and waking. Whether you sleep or wake depends on what area is stimulated and which serotonin receptor is used. Any imbalance in your gut can greatly influence the production of serotonin needed for your body.

What can you do to improve your gut flora?   

  • Eat Whole Foods – processed foods contribute to the imbalance
  • Eat Foods that contain “good” bacteria (see below), such as yogurt or acidophilus milk
  • Get plenty of fiber in your diet with food
  • Eat fermented foods – Sauerkraut, Kimchi, Kombucha, Miso, Tempeh
  • Take probiotics and/or prebiotics


What is “good bacteria” aka, pro-biotics?


Trillions of good and bad bacteria live in your gut. As I’ve mentioned the key is to have a balance between the two. While the list of “good” bacteria is long and some are unique to each person, some common good bacteria amongst all of us are various strains of Bifidobacterium and lactobacillus. 


If you are choosing food with pro-biotics it will most likely contain one or both strains listed above.


While eating whole foods rich in pro-biotics is the best way to improve your gut flora, sometimes taking a pro-biotic capsule is necessary as well. Any time your immune system has been compromised, adding a pro-biotic to your daily routine can be very beneficial. As always, if you are taking medications please check with your medical doctor before taking any supplements.

Next time you have an important decision to make, weigh the pros and cons, then ask yourself, “what is my gut telling me?” And trust it!

Here’s to happy flora!

Many Blessings,



Kickin’ Plant Based Chili

Are you ready for some Football? It’s Superbowl Sunday!


In my book, football and comfort foods go hand-in-hand. Try this whole food, plant-based Chili, and you may never want to eat chili any other way.

Sure to satisfy the biggest meat eaters, this whole food, plant-based Chili will leave you wanting seconds and thirds!

It’s fairly simple to make, put all the ingredients in the crock pot in the morning and by dinner you’ll have a flavorful, hearty meal that’s great for Sunday night football or any occasion.

I’ve brought this Kickin’ Plant-based Chili to parties and received some rave reviews from meat eaters to vegetarians.

What did Chef Walt say? Definitely two thumbs up!

Servings: 4-6


1 Yellow Onion, diced

1 Green Pepper, seeded and diced

1 Jalapeno, seeded and diced

3 Cloves of Garlic, minced

2 cups Low-Sodium vegetable broth (use more if you it doesn’t cover all the ingredients)

2 15 oz. Cans of Black Beans (rinsed)

1 15 oz. Can Kidney Beans (rinsed)

1 14.5 oz. Can Fire Roasted Diced Tomatoes

1/2 Cup Red Potatoes, peeled and diced (a little more is ok)

3 Tablespoons Cumin Powder

3 – 4 Tablespoons Chili Powder

1 Tablespoon Cacao Powder

1 Tablespoon Pure Maple Syrup

Sea Salt and pepper to taste


You can add the following before serving:


1 Cup to 1 ½ Cups Quinoa, cooked

½ Cup Cilantro, chopped

Optional: Diced Avocado added as a topping when serving.




Sauté onion, green pepper, jalapeno and garlic using ¼ cup low sodium vegetable broth until onion is translucent. Transfer to crock pot and add the rest of the ingredients, except quinoa, cilantro and avocado.


Turn the crockpot on high for 6 hours. Toward the end add the quinoa and cilantro.


Serve with diced avocado.




Nutritional Benefits:


Beans offer the benefits of an array of vitamins and minerals, but they are mostly known as an excellent source of dietary fiber and protein. 

Bell Peppers:

Bell peppers come in a variety of colors also ranging in bitterness and sweetness. I enjoy cooking with a combination to enhance the flavors of so many foods. They are a very good source of Vitamin C, beta-carotene, vitamin K and vitamin B6. They’re also a good source of thiamine and folic acid.


Tomatoes are a low calorie food, packed with nutrients. They are an excellent source of Vitamin C and K. They are full of anti-cancer phytochemicals such as carotene (especially lycopene).


There are a variety of onions to choose from. They differ in size, color and taste. Each offers a slightly different flavor. For this recipe I chose red onions for their full, robust flavor. Onions are a good source of Vitamins C and B6, are a good source of folic acid and dietary fiber.


Garlic is an excellent source of Vitamin B6, good source of Vitamin C and contains numerous minerals such as: manganese, selenium, phosphorus, calcium, potassium, iron and copper.


Quinoa is actually a seed, not a grain, which makes it gluten free. Botanically it’s a relative of spinach, beets and chard.

Protein-rich it has all nine essential amino acids. Contains a high amount of fiber. Contains essential minerals: magnesium, phosphorus and potassium.


I leave the skin on my zucchini and add this vegetable to almost all my soups and chili. It’s contains a variety of vitamins and minerals, but the main ones are potassium and Vitamin A.

Cacao Powder:

The health benefits of the cacao bean are as follows:

  • Contain magnesium which is a major mineral needed for many functions in our bodies, like muscle and nerve function.
  • Contains fiber
  • Contains Iron

Contains flavonoids, a type of anti-oxidant that promotes general health and can help you to lower your risk of several diseases.

Maple Syrup:

Use real maple syrup, not the imitation pancake syrup, to reap nutritional benefits. Maple syrup is a very good source of the trace mineral manganese which is an essential cofactor in a number of enzymes used for energy production and antioxidant defenses. It’s also a good source of zinc. So while it’s a sweetener, it’s one of the most beneficial real sweeteners that I use regularly.


Avocados are a staple in my home and they are packed with nutrients. They are an excellent source of potassium and have an assortment of vitamins such as: B-vitamins, Vitamin A, and Vitamin E. One of the key benefits the avocado provides is it contains the essential fatty acids necessary for brain function, as well as growth and development. Our body can’t make essential fatty acids so it’s imperative we get these good fats by making healthy food choices!


Cilantro, also known as Coriander, is an herb and a spice. In Europe and Asia cilantro has a long history of use to aide in digestion, combat inflammation and help to lower cholesterol. 

Eating Whole Foods

Eating Whole Foods

Hi There,

In last week’s post, about feeding the body, mind and spirit, I shared a variety of topics with you, that I’ll be covering this year. Each topic is intended to feed the body, mind or spirit, with the intent to have a healthier and happier life.

I also had the pleasure last week of hosting an evening with quite a few moms who belong to the food & wine club at my son’s school. The focus for that evening was also nutrition and eating whole foods! I always feel blessed to be part of a community that is supportive, but I was overwhelmed with genuine interest and stories I heard that evening from many ladies. Common theme, we want to make better, informed decisions with respect to the food we eat.

Whole Foods, what the heck does that mean?

Another common question I heard that evening is, “what exactly is a whole food?” Is it about the store, Whole Foods? Not really, but you can understand where the store got its name! Whole Foods, in this post, is all about the food a person eats, which of course you can buy at Whole Foods.

Up until recently, not many people refer to what they eat as a whole food. There will be references made to their food being plant-based, dairy-free, gluten-free, paleo, etc. but a “whole food?”, not so much. Also, all mention of whole foods is not to be confused with the Whole Foods 30 diet, which is restrictive and only used for short-term (30 days) to help detect food allergies. Confused yet? Read further and I hope I’ll clear up any questions you may have.

So, what the heck is a whole food?

A whole food is found in its original state or in a state that has been the least altered. Whole foods are unprocessed, free of additives, flavorings, nitrates, etc.

Examples of Whole Foods:

  • All fresh fruits & vegetables
  • Frozen, canned or dried fruits and vegetables with no added sugar or preservatives
  • Fresh legumes, nuts and seeds
  • Whole grains such as wheat, corn, rice (brown), bulgur, barley, quinoa, sorghum, spelt, etc.
  • High quality animal products that don’t contain nitrites or antibiotics.


Least altered refers to way some whole foods are produced for consumption. Whole grains are hulled (removes the outer inedible layer) but the whole kernel: the bran, germ and endosperm, is left intact.

Unfortunately, many grains used in packaged goods have been milled, which removes the bran and the germ. The bran and the germ contain the best nutrient of the grain. They contain the fiber, vitamins and minerals. When the bran and germ are removed, what’s left is the pure carbohydrate, which so many people want to stay away from these days!

That’s why most breakfast cereals and store-bought breads contain words such as, “fortified”. At some point, the nutritional facts started getting displayed on the packaging, and manufacturers knew they had to get the nutrients they took out during the processing of the grain back into the end product, hence additives.

Is the whole equal to the sum of its parts?

There has been some controversy (food, and what to eat, is a hot topic these days!) and question as to whether foods made from whole ingredients, such as bread, is really a whole food. In my book, the answer is yes. The trouble with information today is you will find varying answers at both ends of the spectrum.

I’m all about finding better alternatives that are realistic so changes can be life changes, not changes simply to lose weight or get better numbers on your bloodwork. While both have merit, studies have shown once a person reaches a goal (for weight loss or lower cholesterol), they revert to habits that got them there in the first place.

A good example of using whole food ingredients would be using whole grains to make bread. True bread has a few simple ingredients: flour, water and yeast. However, most packaged, store bought breads contain way more than these 3 ingredients. Also, most don’t contain the whole grain, or if they do, there have been preservatives and additives mixed in to prevent the bread from going stale as it makes its way from the processing plant to the shelf at the grocery store to your home.

A better choice would be to get whole grain bread made fresh from the store or bakery that contain no added ingredients. Many grocery stores have a bakery department and bake fresh bread daily, there is no reason for preservatives or additives to be used since the distribution is straight from the store to the consumer. If the ingredients aren’t listed, as a consumer, you can always ask what’s in the bread. The store Whole Foods and some retailers such as Wildflower have full disclosure that the breads they make contain no additives or preservatives.

So, while some can argue bread may not technically be a “whole food”, I disagree. If the product you are purchasing or making is made from whole ingredients, and no additives or preservatives are used, I say go for it. You are better off choosing a product that is made from whole ingredients, than choosing one that contains additives and preservatives.

Benefits of whole foods:

  • Whole foods contain fiber which aids in digestion.
  • Whole foods contain phytochemicals, which are nutrients that help our bodies fight off many illnesses and diseases.
  • Whole foods are more nutrient dense than the foods that have been stripped of their original nutrient content.
  • Eating whole foods can improve your gut health (be sure to look for next weeks post about gut health)


Some of the obstacles to eating whole foods:

  • Time to prepare the recipe from scratch
  • Eating a variety of whole foods (not just one group)


How much of my plate should be from whole foods?

Ideally, 100% of the food you eat should be from whole foods. Realistically, that may not always happen. Our busy lives today can interfere with all the good intentions to eat only whole foods. Some nutrition consultants will say to follow the 80/20 or 90/10 rule, where 80/90% of your foods is from whole foods and the other 20/10% is for convenience.

I believe there is no magic percentage. Listen to your body. Pay attention to how you feel after you eat a meal with only whole foods, and then compare it to how you feel after eating a meal that is not made from all whole foods. Notice your energy levels, any inflammation, any digestive issues?

Each person is different, and each person will react differently to the foods they eat. My goal is to help you determines the best foods for YOU!

Here’s to eating whole foods one meal at a time.

Many Blessings,


P.S. Send me an email if you have more questions about whole foods.

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year!


I hope you enjoyed the past holiday season, I certainly did. It was great to have all three of my boys’ home and under the same roof. The bonus was having family and friends visit and getting to spend time hanging out.


While our conversations weaved in many directions, one particular topic that was discussed the most was food and the desire to eat better in 2020. Whether it’s to lose weight or to improve our health, healthy eating is at the forefront of most new year’s resolutions.  


This really excites me and has given me a direct path for 2020. As a certified nutrition health specialist, with more than 200 class-hours under my belt, I feel this is an area where I can at the very least, share the knowledge I’ve learned and eventually take it to another level. I’m still working on what that looks like: coaching, podcasts, you tube videos, etc., but I promise as I figure it out, you’ll be the first to know.



What does holistic mean?


Holistic means “whole” and through the classes I’ve taken- I’ve learned how food affects our total well-being (body, mind and spirit) and the impact it can have on our lives. Conversely, how we feel mentally and spiritually can greatly impact our food choices. Have you ever indulged when feeling stressed? Who hasn’t?


At the time my husband Larry died I really didn’t understand the physical impact grief was having on my body and my immune system. I truly thought grief was just an emotional issue to be dealt with through therapy and counseling. 


Mind-body connection


I was naïve to the mind-body connection. Meanwhile, grief took its toll on me- spiritually, emotionally and physically. My adrenal glands (the ones that regulate the flight or fight response) were in overdrive and this eventually impacted my immune system, my thyroid and my whole metabolism.


The grief I faced also brought anxiety and depression into my life. I truly believe if I hadn’t taken care of myself by eating a healthy diet and following many stress-reducing wellness techniques, both these conditions could have escalated to a dangerous level.


What to expect in 2020


Listening to family and close friends as they share their struggles with me has renewed my passion for sharing the knowledge and training I received to be a Certified Holistic Nutrition Specialist.


Of course, the newsletter this year will still cover grief and the life challenges I face, but the emphasis will be on holistic nutrition to benefit our body, mind and spirit.


Sneak preview


Below is a sneak preview of some of topics I plan to cover throughout the year. Some topics I’ve covered before, but I will revisit with more in depth information.  


Top five topics for a healthy body


  • Eat Whole Foods/ lots of Greens
  • Drink plenty of water
  • Limit Sugar
  • Pay attention to serving sizes and portions
  • Slow down, ENJOY your food


Top five topics for a healthy mind


  • Sleep – are you getting enough?
  • Move throughout the day
  • Healing herbs
  • State of Homeostasis
  • Homeopathic remedies


Top five topics for a healthy spirit


  • Meditation/Quiet Time
  • Affirmations
  • Faith/prayer
  • Practice Forgiveness
  • Letting Go


These are just a handful of topics I plan to cover. If there is a specific issue you would like me to focus on, please send an email to:


No matter what challenges you may be facing, we are going to help each other out to be the strongest, healthiest and happiest we can be!


Here’s to feeling our best in 2020!


Many Blessings,