Cancer Prevention with a Healthful Lifestyle

Modified from my original post on

According to the American Cancer Institute, in 2015 an estimated 1,658,370 new cancer cases will be diagnosed with 589,000 dying from the disease in the United States.  National expenditures for cancer care in the United States totaled nearly $125 billion in 2010 and could reach $156 billion in 2020.

Cancer though, is not an inevitable consequence of aging and life. The World Health Organization reports that at least 1/3 of cancer incidences are preventable. As a Registered Dietitian, I travel to several large nutrition and exercise physiology conferences each year, and in multiple instances have heard oncologists speak, reporting they believe up to 50% of cancer cases in the US are preventable through lifestyle modification. As shown by the American Institute for Cancer Research below, 1/3 of Breast cancer incidences are preventable and up to 50% of colon cancer incidences.


As a Registered Dietitian, I truly believe that real food is medicine. While the $37 billion supplement industry convinces many that high doses of nutrients and compounds will solve or prevent health problems, many times they are accelerating disease or bringing about health concerns. With degrees in both nutrition and exercise physiology, I also recognize though that one must have an active lifestyle with a healthful diet to achieve optimal health. As our nation has become more developed Americans have become less healthy, with the majority of deaths being attributed to chronic disease.

While medical technology is saving many people through cancer screenings and treatments, wouldn’t it be great to prevent needing treatment in the first place? We hear of antioxidants in the media as if they are some magic potion that we can only get in a bottle or pill at a health food store. These compounds come from the foods that have always been on this earth and should be the foundation of our food intake. Making changes to your current eating pattern is not as hard as it sounds, but education on not only how to change, but why to change is necessary to have the motivation to transform your current habits.

As we raise awareness of cancer and support research for a cure in October, let us also raise awareness of and practice the eating habits that can prevent this terrible disease! I will be presenting “10 Tips to Reduce your Cancer Risk” at The Newtown Athletic Club on October 22 at 7 PM. The NAC makes all seminars free to the community. The seminar will cover how antioxidants fight the development of and progression of cancer as well as how to boost intake of antioxidant nutrients with simple diet and lifestyle changes.

Reserve your spot here!


Broccoli and Cabbage Slaw Recipe and intro Expo East Review

My Expo East reviews have been a long time coming (okay, so only 1.5 weeks). There was just so much to catch up on last week after the trade show and conference! Plus I didn’t want to just start posting products without having tried them and there are only so many times to eat in a day!

It was my first time at the expo so I was obviously very excited. There was so much to take in that after two days I was spent! I don’t know how people are there for 4, especially those in booths -cheers to you!

I was thrilled that I purchased the Superpass which allowed me into extra educational sessions on Thursday and Friday. The keynote speakers had such energy and enthusiasm. They were so optimistic about our food system and the environment in a time where many people feel like giving up. Thursday’s keynote was given by former MSBNC host and current sustainability entrepreneur Dylan Ratigan – really cool and motivated guy! Friday morning’s keynote was given by Joel Salatin, a farmer and author who was featured in Food Inc. Even more interesting and enlightening were the small sessions I attended where I heard former Stonyfield CEO and current driver of the Just Label It campaign, advocating for GMO labeling in the US. The first session he spoke in was led by Colin O’Neil from the Center for Food Safety and in addition to Gary, a panel updating on national and state legislation included Marni Karlin of the Organic Trade Association and Tara Cook-Littman of Citizens for GMO labeling. Hearing them speak provided clarity on some of the confusion surrounding the state legislation on GMO labeling as well as updates from other states. After this session, while some of the information was repeated, I stayed to hear Gary’s next session “The Reason we need GMO Labeling”. For all he is doing for the perceived “food fight”, he is SO optimistic and really inspires me to focus my energy in what I want to promote more of rather than on topics I am against. This relates to all areas of my practice, not just the tiny bit where I educate on the food system.

Enough from the neRD side of me (more sessions to be covered in another post) – let’s talk about the foodie side! Here are a few of the products that caught my eye on the floor. I’ll share some others that I have more review type info on in posts in the next couple of weeks!

We will start with spice! While I love the Organicville sriracha brand to pour all over everything, having it already in hummus def makes life easier (even though I like to make my own hummus every week). Or you can pick up BAO Fermented brand hot sauce. Spicy and good for my gut? Woohoo! They have delicious Kombucha too!

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When the holidays hit in a few month, these are the peppermint patties you need in your life. Ditch York and pick up Seely’s mint patties or even more pure and my style, Eating Evolved brand mint coconut patties. The only ingredients are: Organic Coconut, Organic Cacao, Organic Cacao Butter, Organic Coconut Sugar, Organic Peppermint Oil. KJRD Approval is a NO BRAINER!
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A couple of fun products are below. The first is a coconut spread made out of just coconut oil and coconut sugar. SO delicious and can be added to anything that you want a hint of sweetness on. The second picture below is Baobab fruit. Yes, that is a fruit and yes it was even the first time I saw it! Out of it they make a powder which I found similar to maca root powder. It does contain a large amount of vitamin C but the current “superfood” claims are that its antioxidants are energizing, support the skin, support immune health, and detox the liver. We will see what research has to say about that in a few years! In the meantime, it can be a flavorful addition to smoothies I suppose.

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Finally, my favorite convenience meal on the floor comes from Sweet Earth brand. Typically I am not a fan of frozen sandwiches and burritos but these vegan or vegetarian convenience meals (or veggie burgers and meat alternatives) are made with simple ingredients and are not packed with sodium! YAY! While I don’t recommend eating the products everyday, it can be a good emergency breakfast after a weekend away or when you’re low on sleep and need every last minute in the morning.


Now for some recipe inspiration!

Yesterday I was throwing together a quick stir fry w/ the typical garlic, onion, broccoli, carrots, cabbage, edamame and spices that I always use. It was also over quinoa which you can’t even see in the photo below cause I prefer all the veggies! I decided though to pull out the Temple Turmeric beverage (with anti-inflammation spices) I had gotten at expo and use it for some flavor, nutrition, and to replace water to keep the veggies from sticking to the pan. While I don’t my calories daily, I am not one to drink them, so 185 for a beverage is a lot for me. This was a great way to use about 1/3 cup of the product – now I need to add it to other dishes to use the rest of the bottle!

After making the stir fry I still had cabbage left over as well as the fresh broccoli stalks. I figured a new slaw would be fun so I grabbed some carrots and walnuts, got out the food processor and this recipe was born!

Creamy Broccoli and Cabbage Slaw (GF, V, DF)


2 broccoli stalks
1/3 medium purple cabbage
2 med-large carrots
1/4 cup walnuts (preferably roasted)
3 Tbsp tahini
3 tbsp red wine vinegar
1 tbsp honey
Pepper and salt to taste

-Add the cabbage, broccoli stalks and carrots to your food processor. It is helpful to chop them slightly beforehand and depending on the size of your machine, 2 rounds may be necessary.
-Pulse until you have fine shreds of the veggies
-Add vegetables to a glass bowl
-Drizzle tahini, vinegar, and honey over the top of the minced veggies
-Stir with a rubber spatula well until all of the vegetables are coated
-Chop walnuts finely and mix in with black pepper and salt
-Serve as a yummy side dish or afternoon snack!
Purple Cabbage is a great source of antioxidant anthocyanins and sinigrin, both researched to have anti-cancer properties. For vitamins, you receive a great amount of A, K, C and B6. Manganese and potassium are among many minerals cabbage provides. Overall there is a great anti-inflammatory and gut health benefit from cabbage too, due to not only the antioxidants but also the fiber this food provides.

Broccoli Stems/Stalks contain more vitamin C than citrus fruits and are a good source of fiber. You’ll also receive calcium, magnesium and potassium from this part of the veggie.

Carrots are most known for the role in eye health. This is because they have a high content of Vitamin A and other phytochemical carotenoids which not only support your eyes but also skin, hair and antioxidant systems. They are also high in Vitamins C & K and the mineral potassium.

Walnuts have been pinned as the most heart healthy nut by many researchers due to their high omega-3 content (discussed here at and their vitamin E and antioxidant phytochemical content. Omega-3′s support heart health by helping to regulate inflammation, Vitamin E is heart healthy by protecting cells and fatty substances in the body, and the phenols present are thought to support a healthy metabolism and healthy blood vessels.

Due to its natural sugar content honey is a great sports nutrition aid as discussed in this Runner’s World article. When purchasing real nectar or clover honey, especially local to your region, honey is also great for the immune system. And your mom didn’t add honey to tea when you were sick for no reason; it is an excellent cough suppressant. See more on its nutritional benefits at the National Honey Board. *Be careful what you purchase though as a report revealed most store bought honey isn’t real honey and the pollen, which has immune benefits, is removed (more info here).

Spaghetti Squash with Plum Tomato and Lentil Bolognese

It is my favorite food season of the year! Early-mid September in eastern PA we now have a great mix of fall foods (squash and apples for example) while still being able to benefit from summer produce such as tomatoes! I purchased my first spaghetti squash of the season but also still have an abundance of tomatoes and basil growing in our backyard so a classic Italian spaghetti squash dish was in the works. This meal, unfortunately though, provides no protein so adding lentils to the mix was perfect. My last Italian style spaghetti squash post is pretty simple using white beans, but I know my husband loves a good bolognese and lentils give much more of that texture. Plus, they are more rich in many minerals including iron.

The best part about this dish is that it took me next to no time to prepare when I had a few hours at home. With spaghetti squash in the oven I chopped the ingredients for the sauce and tossed them into the crockpot. With the squash out of the oven I had time for laundry and grading assignments. Then I added lentils and seasonings to the slow cooker to let cook while I was at the NAC providing nutrition classes for members. When Tim and I got home, dinner (and today’s lunch) was ready to go!

Spaghetti Squash with Plum Tomato and Lentil Bolognese (GF, V, DF)

Ingredients (see below for beneficial properties of these ingredients):

1 Medium Spaghetti Squash
4-5 cloves garlic, minced (less if you don’t LOVE this flavor like me)
1 Medium yellow onion, diced
4-5 cups chopped plum tomatoes
1 Cup dried green lentils
2 Cups water + 2 tbsp tomato paste or 2 Cups no sodium tomato sauce
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil (or 1/2 tbsp dried)
1/2 Tbsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried parsley
1 tsp crushed red pepper
Salt & ground black pepper to taste


-Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F
-Take your spaghetti squash and carefully cut in half lengthwise. The first cut may seem difficult but once the knife is in its a lot easier to cut the rest of the squash.
-Dig out the seeds & pulp (you can save seeds for the roasted seed recipe)
-Place face down on a baking dish and cook for 30 minutes. When the squash is done you should easily be able to stick a fork in through the skin.
-Remove it from the oven & carefully flip so the flesh side is up.
-With a fork, you’ll basically want to “rake” from one side to the other to remove the “spaghetti”.
spaghetti squash

-While spaghetti squash is in the oven, mince garlic, dice onions and tomatoes,
and chop any fresh herbs.
-Add to crockpot on high heat for 2 hours.

-After 2 hours, when mixture becomes more liquid in texture, add 1 Cup of lentils and spices.
-Maintain high heat an additional 4 hours.

Portion the spaghetti squash into bowls and top with ample amounts of bolognese! While the volume may seem high, calories are not, so feel free to add a high quality parmesan or asiago (preferably raw and grass fed) and if dairy free, some cashew cheese or nutritional yeast. A side salad or green veggie is also recommended :)

If you are looking for other spaghetti squash recipes, it is super versatile so I have posted several. Try my Mexican style spaghetti squash if you’re in a fiesta mood or my walnut avocado pesto over spaghetti squash with peas.

Do you have any other fun and nutritious spaghetti squash recipes you enjoy? Please share!

Real Ingredients with Real Health Benefits:

Spaghetti Squash isn’t going to provide you with tons of one specific nutrient but it will contribute a balanced amount of most vitamins and minerals to your diet especially Vitamins C & B6. What shines for spaghetti squash is the fiber & healthy carbohydrate content as well as the carotenoid antioxidants.

Lentils don’t get as much attention as they should as they provide more protein and iron than beans and are often easier on the GI tract. You’ll get lots of B-vitamins from this legume, especially thiamin and folate. They’re also a great source of choline, potassium and many minerals. Lentils are high in both insoluble and soluble fiber; soluble being the type that helps reduce blood cholesterol levels and keep you feeling full. Green and black lentils provide much more fiber than red.

Tomatoes pack in lots of Vitamins A, C, and the important fluid balance mineral Potassium. They are well known in terms of phytochemical content for their lycopene which is known for reducing risk of prostate cancer. This was one of the first phytochemicals that really made a name for itself. It is often forgotten that tomatoes also provide other carotenoids and flavonoids such as quercitin.

Basil is a great source of vitamin K as well as some iron, calcium, and Vitamin A. The phytochemicals in basil have been found to be anti-inflammatory, heart healthy, and anti-bacterial.

Garlic provides the phytochemicals allicin and sulfides which are linked to improved immunity and respiratory health.

Onions are a good source of Vitamins C & B6, folate and even provide potassium & magnesium. Onions are also packed with phytochemicals  known to promote cardiovascular and respiratory health.

Why Say Bye to Summer? Bake Some Zucchini!

Why does labor day make everyone bid farewell to summer and start eating and drinking only pumpkin containing foods? In Newtown, PA it is going to be 95 degrees and there is still an abundance of zucchini. So while everyone else is blogging about pumpkin, I am going to support everyone trying to hold on to summer as well as anyone that still has a pile of zucchini to use! If you’re getting sick of zoodles & zucchini bread try this quick gluten and dairy free baked zucchini I threw together this past week.

1 lb zucchini (organic or non-GMO verified), sliced thin and halved or quartered
1/2 Cup nutritional yeast, like Bob’s red mill brand
1/4 Cup organic flax seed, ground
1 tbsp italian seasoning or choice fresh herbs, chopped
olive oil to drizzle


Set oven to 375 degrees
Mix nutritional yeast, flax and herbs together
Lightly drizzle the bottom of a glass or ceramic baking dish with olive or avocado oil
Lay zucchini on the dish and sprinkle mixture over top. Continue to layer like this until you’ve used up all of the zucchini.

Bake in the oven at 375 degrees for about 30 minutes.

When removed from heat, the zucchini should be cooked through and tender while the topping should be slightly crispy.

Plate as a side dish, add to a cooked whole grain, or throw on top of a salad and enjoy!

What is your favorite way to use zucchini? I love to hear of new creative recipes, too!

Stress Management Monday – 3rd Edition – Sugar

I am sure you have heard plenty of horrible things about sugar before, maybe even seen a few documentaries. I enjoy a good cupcake, or the sugary frosting in particular, every once in a while. Brownies are kind of awesome too. I also love love love fruit and have 2-3 servings a day. However, I don’t believe soda has a place in most people’s diets and even advocate for making juice an every once in a while thing. Why? Because blood sugar impacts how you feel.

You may be the same way and think you “never eat sugar”. I once had a student do their diet analysis project in my course and come to me saying since they “don’t eat any sugar” the “software is inaccurate”. They just didn’t know about all the hidden sugar they were taking in. More on that below.

Our body works very hard to keep our blood sugar within the normal range. Those predisposed to hypoglycemia may dip below this range slightly and those with Type I or who have developed Type II diabetes more often experience levels above the higher end of the range (with dips occasionally as well). Even without these conditions, the ever so sugary American diet causes a roller coaster of ups and downs within that normal range that can impact how we feel and what we choose to eat or drink throughout the day.

We have hormones that we release to try to regulate our blood sugar and other hormones (messengers) that regulate our mood and energy levels. The key is that they are all a network that communicate with and impact one another. When we eat sugar, or even just overly processed grains that contain no fiber, our blood sugar rises more quickly than when we consume other nutrients. This quick, high rise, causes an over-release of dopamine, that feel good hormone I mentioned in the 2nd edition when discussing caffeine. Every once in a while this is okay but, when we consume too much of these foods we over activate our dopamine and serotonin responses, and then may start to mess with its normal production the rest of the day without sugar present. What could this mean then? Releasing less of the feel good hormones the rest of the day. People also experience blood sugar dips that promote stress producing hormone release, a consequence to sugar or processed carbohydrate intake. I also spoke about them in the 2nd edition; epinephrine and cortisol.

While some out there may say there is inconclusive research here (some being mostly the sugar soda, and processed food industries), research has linked sugar to depression, anxiety, anger, mood disorders, memory problems, and even skin problems. The more sugar that is consumed, the worse our mood gets in one of these ways or another, and unfortunately the more sugar we end up craving. Why? Well we have trained our body with excess consumption to think that sugar is how to release dopamine which makes us feel good temporarily. It really is similar to addiction whether it be an alcohol, drug or even exercise addiction.

So how do we reduce this intake without adding even more stress to our life? Slowly. Sure you can try “going cold turkey” but I find that can make people even more moody and for some more likely to binge on sugar later.

Sugar: Too Much of a Sweet Thing #CSPI

The American Heart Association has maximum recommendations sugar intake for adults. Per the American Heart Association, females should limit intake to no more than 6 tsp per day and men 9. What does that equate to? 25 grams for women and 36 grams for men. As shown above, CSPI has shown the average American unknowingly consumes closer to 23 teaspoons per day. I see it first hand in those diet analysis projects I referenced above where students are taking in well over 200 grams a day at times. The World Health Organization also has recommendations for reducing sugar. Check out the panel on a 12 ounce can of soda and you’ll see a whopping 39 grams. In one serving. Done for the day plus eating into tomorrow’s quota. That yogurt you are eating and thinking is a healthy snack? It may have up to 30 grams in a 6 ounces serving. Between the different varieties (greek, whole milk, non fat) the lactose makes up 6-14 grams of the sugar in yogurt which is not considered added, but you’re still getting 3-4 extra teaspoons in that little container. My Well and Good email this morning offered a story about someones mood and fatigue responses to added sugar from cereals and yogurts rather than cookies and ice cream.

Here are tips for swapping out sugary substances or improving our blood sugar response to it:

-Swap 1 soda a day for a seltzer. La Croix brand lime flavor has been key to success for several clients!
-Reduce the sugar in your coffee by half
-Water down your juice with water until you only need a splash of juice for flavor
-Try Siggi’s brand yogurt instead of your current flavored fave
-Start reading ingredient lists. If the only possible source of sugar is fruit, not so bad. If you’re seeing sugar added where it doesn’t belong, find a different brand. Your pasta sauce and peanut butter don’t need added sugar!
-Choose more whole grains. And don’t just trust the front of the package. It can say “100% whole grain” and still contain high fructose corn syrup or “evaporated cane juice”, the new fancy way to say “sugar”.
-Don’t put a health halo over granola. Read its labels too.
-Add vanilla extract for a sweet taste without the sugar when baking or making oats.
-Reduce the sugar in baking recipes by 1/3.
-Love maple syrup or even the dreaded “pancake syrup” that packs over 50 grams in a 1/4 cup serving? Try what I’ve been telling a lot of clients lately and make a berry syrup from 100% fruit instead. It only takes 5-7 minutes!

Add 1 cup choice frozen berries to a pan over medium heat. Let heat 3-4 minutes and smash with a spatula. Let reduce another 2-3 minutes. For extra flavor add a splash of vanilla extract or a touch of 100% pure maple syrup. Pour over your healthiest pancake or waffle recipe. (Here are a couple of ideas: buckwheat pancakes & almond flour pancakes)

-Eat protein, fiber, and even a little healthy fat when eating sugar. You might be thinking that you want to trade calories from your meal or snack for the sugary option, but if you eat protein and some veggies for dinner before the sugar cookie, at least you will absorb it more slowly, resulting in a better blood sugar response to it!

Happy Monday!

Hungryroot Plant Based Meal Delivery – Review and Discount Code

After returning from California, I immediately traveled to CT for a friend’s wedding and didn’t arrive back home in PA until late Sunday night. We had a few odds and ends to eat on Monday and I was thrilled when a client rescheduled on Tuesday so that I could make it to the grocery store. While I could have made a meal, I was overjoyed when this package was on my doorstep when I got home from shopping!


What is Hungryroot?

Hungry root is a new whole foods meal delivery company. The catch is that the meals still need to be prepared… but it only take 7 minutes (if that)! Root vegetables (hence the name) are the base of the meal and you add in the plant based sauces, seasonings and toppings that come with the dish. In just 5 minutes in a pan or microwave, dinner is ready. The meals are chef designed and are all under 500 calories counting the chicken if you order it too. If not, you can add in your own shrimp, egg, beans, or tofu, which is what I plan to do when I order more in the future! The meals are all non-GMO and gluten free as well.

I will be honest that when I opened the packages I thought the small containers of sauces and toppings seemed small. By the end I learned you can’t let the packaging fool you! Hungryroot had offered to send me two meals to try so that I could see if it was something I wanted to suggest or recommend to those I deliver nutrition information to {like you on this blog ;) }. I don’t remember who chose what but between Tim and I we went with turnip noodles and pesto as well as carrot noodles and a sriracha peanut sauce. While all meals come without chicken to begin, you can add free range chicken when ordering. I did not eat the chicken but ordered it so that Tim could try for my poultry eating clientele and followers.

For our trial, I opened the packages, heated up a dash of avocado oil in a pan, and added the root veggies. I stirred and two minutes later added the other ingredients.

did screw up with the carrot dish though and forgot to add the homemade chimichurri while cooking, so I had to stir it in at the end. Can’t say it would have tasted any different if I added it sooner but it did contribute to how pretty the dish looked as you can see below!

First, pictured below is the turnip noodles with toasted walnut pesto, shredded carrots and chopped walnuts. So pretty!

The pesto was the perfect blend of sweet with a little bite of basil/garlic spice. The turnips were savory and had a hearty texture which I liked. Admittedly this is my first time having turnip noodles – total win! Even though the noodles didn’t look heavily coated with the sauce the flavor was powerful but not overpowering.

Here we have the carrot noodle dish with homemade sriracha peanut sauce and a peanut, cilantro, mint & lime chimichurri and pickled daikon radish. It sounds like it belongs on a high quality restaurant menu and tastes like it too!

he carrot noodles had a more fine texture than the turnips but I liked them just the same. I LOVE sriracha and can put it on anything so I knew I would like the sauce. However, this sauce gave a little bit of heat but had so many other great flavors balancing it out too. I couldn’t taste the mint much in the chimichurri but there was a slight sweetness that complimented the sriracha sauce well.

Tim’s was impressed with the chicken. He said it was crispy on the outside but tender inside, with a texture and taste as if it was just grilled. As mentioned above, you can easily cook and egg or some shrimp in the time the noodles are cooking and top with them for protein. I think tofu would also be good but since I like it well done, would take more time.

SO overall, we were impressed by Hungryroot. I was definitely full and I didn’t eat any of the chicken and also didn’t add another protein since I had a late afternoon snack. The flavor was amazing and the food was REAL! I recommend having these meals on hand when you know there is a busy week ahead, or even to take to work once in a while since they are microwavable too. If you are using a meal delivery system like Nutri-systems, go to their website and read your ingredient lists. Compare them to those on the Hungryroot site. You’ll be getting much better quality food and nutrition with this type of meal and you will be taking a small amount of time to prep the food. I think this is where most meal delivery programs go wrong. You cannot promote weight loss and healthy living in a sustainable way unless the person is making the effort to prepare a little and actually change their environment, habits and lifestyle.

Want to try Hungryroot yourself? Head over to their website and enter the code Kelly20 for 20% off your purchase. It is not a first time only code so you can keep using it for future purchases too.  I plan to get 20% off of the beet and sweet potato noodle dishes next – I’ll let you know how they are over on insta! Let me know how you like the meals too!!

Stress Management Monday – 2nd Edition

Happy Monday!

Wait…. really? Before you read on, go to google, type in “Happy Monday”, and see how many images pop up with coffee. Is that really what our happiness depends on for the week?!

Who woke up this morning and was thinking about coffee before their eyes were completely opened? Anyone out there craving that “jolt” mid-afternoon? As much as you want to convince yourself that you need it, those feelings should not be your norm. No doubt there are some health benefits associated with coffee, but not in the quantity that many Americans are consuming it, and not that large of benefits to let it run our lives. For my second stress management post (and for the next two weeks) I am zeroing in on the effects of caffeine and stress hormones.

My worst coffee addiction was in grad school. I will never forget my food service rotation at Niagara falls. Waking up before the sun was up to drive there from my East Amherst, NY apartment wasn’t the only problem. I despise hospital food service (no offense if that is your career, its just not for me) and would go from there to afternoon classes, and then drive to coach swimming at night. It was the end of the first semester and finals were at the end of the rotation so studying was clearly taking up big chunks of time too. Additionally, the only way I knew to manage stress then was exercise so I tried to carve time out for that too. So, sleep? What sleep? This is also the time in my life when I had my first anxiety attack. I didn’t make the connection then but now looking back, I was probably drinking over a pot of coffee each day, was not sleeping, and was never seeing the light of day while in Buffalo (a later post will touch on Vitamin D and hormones). Thank God I never tried energy drinks!

Now, I advocate to all my clients, students and seminar attendees to pleas please please have a tall glass of water first thing in the morning. Then sip throughout the day to prevent thirst. Water alone should be energizing for your body and mind. Caffeine gives that jolt to many people but doesn’t necessarily offer a real energy that the body should ride on all day. Think caffeine doesn’t effect you and that you just like the taste? Can you have an espresso and within minutes “fall asleep”? Well then, try going without it! Are you afraid of headaches, shakiness, etc? If someone you knew couldn’t stop drinking alcohol, doing drugs or smoking because of headaches, shakiness and irritability, you would likely say they needed to kill that addiction.

We tend to gravitate towards coffee for its caffeine which impacts serotonin and dopamine. They can be referred to as “feel good” hormones. Studies have shown serotonin to either be released in higher amounts in repsonse to caffeine intake or, for its receptors to be more sensitive to it, taking more up. If the body gets used to the above, it may not release enough serotonin or receptors may not be sensitive enough to the serotonin the rest of the day. You may also hear about caffeine stressing out your adrenal glands. I have heard this for years, ever since I saw a Naturopathic Doctor in high school. Now knowing more about hormones it makes more sense but still, researchers aren’t finding the direct links between caffeine and this gland. What we do know though is that those adrenal glands release epinephrine (adrenaline) and cortisol, now well known as the “stress hormone”. When caffeine consumption is high, the release of those hormones is more constant. We need to release both of these hormones in small amounts but when the release becomes chronic, the body feels chronically stressed as adrenaline can promote anxiety and cortisol, overall stress and altered blood sugar levels. In addition, caffeine increases blood pressure, which for some people can induce feelings of anxiety on its own.

Now back to those who think they are no longer impacted by their caffeine consumption and can just drink it all day long: a study testing caffeine’s effects on cortisol showed that after 5 days without caffeine, its consumption significantly increased cortisol. In those that did not go without caffeine, a morning dose did not increase cortisol but that it did at other points throughout the day. Another study showed that consumption of caffeine at 0, 3 hours prior, and 6 hours prior to bed all were significantly associated with sleep disruption versus a placebo. Sadly, even if you feel that the sleep you are getting is enough, it may just be what you are “used to”. We also have research showing how lack of sleep drives up cortisol, stress and anxiety levels too.

I have been preaching to others for awhile now to cut out caffeine a couple of times a year. It can help you realize if caffeine is influencing your stress levels, sleep patterns and mood at all. Maybe you are someone that is not impacted by its consumption but without taking it out of your life for a few weeks, you will never know! Sure you may feel more stressed for a couple of days without it as you go through withdrawal, but remember that is a sign that your body really needs to learn to do without!

Stress Management Monday 2nd Edition: caffeine

After enjoying a cup this morning (above), which usually is my last of the day anyway, I am going two weeks coffee free. I will turn to tea to fill my mugs that have positive quotes and motivating mantras to start my day. The last time I did this was during lent this past spring and now as I am paying attention to stress levels more being more intuitive to my body’s needs, I feel I am due for another reset. I personally know it impacts my sleep if I have too much, and often notice my sleep improves even when not having just my one cup in the morning. The last time I went coffee free, I actually felt more energetic! You won’t know how it is impacting your life and health if you don’t try. I invite you to cut out caffeine with me now, or pick a time in the near future that you know you can commit to the coffee free challenge.

Tips for removing caffeine:

-Drink enough water. Water alone is necessary for adequate metabolism, energy levels and even appetite control. Start your day off with H2O!

-Have green tea if you are going through withdrawal. It provides less caffeine and can help you wean off.

-Eat a balanced breakfast. Be sure your breakfast includes fiber, protein and preferably a fruit or vegetable. Fiber and protein shouldn’t come from supplements, processed shakes or fiber fortified cereals or muffins though. Use whole grains and real food protein sources. Oatmeal with nuts, seeds and fruit is a good option or you could have plain yogurt or cottage cheese as a protein source with fruit as a carbohydrate. An egg and veggie scramble with a side of berries can do the trick too. Having this morning balance is great for your energy levels, blood sugar and hormones throughout the day!

Try cacao or maca. Either can be found in powder form via navita’s naturals or many other brands. Instead of cocoa which is typically alkalized and processed to the point where nutrient content is impacted, cacao can give you the taste of chocolate that makes you feel good when added to oats, yogurt or a smoothie, but also have health benefits to support your heart. Maca is speculated to stabilize hormones and increase energy but also has somewhat of a sweet flavor and can be added to the same foods I mention above.

Consider spirulina, especially the Energy Bits brand. I have a post on why here.

Finally, I’d like to leave you with some thoughts from a MD who teaches women how to balance their hormones naturally. Her article “Are you addicted to stress” was just posted via .

I’ll update on insta @eatreallivewell but let me know how your caffeine free journey is going too!