You Are What You Eat – or ARE You?


You’ve all heard the expression you are what you eat.  But I like to say you are what you absorb.  The vast majority of people have issues with their gut.  Years of eating processed foods, foods exposed to toxins from pesticides and pollution, or eating allergen containing foods can all lead to problems with the gut making it difficult for your body to digest and breakdown foods and absorb the required nutrients.

What exactly is digestion and absorption?  Digestion is the process in which your body breaks down the food you eat into smaller components that can be absorbed.  Absorption is the transferring of the food components into the bloodstream to be circulated to all parts of the body.


Causes of Poor Absorption


  • Low stomach acid – low stomach acid is caused by stress, diet that is high in meat and refined grains, chlorinated water, antacids, coffee and nicotine.
  • Dysbiosis – an imbalance of the “good” and “bad” bacteria in the gut. Dysbiosis is caused by a high sugar diet, antibiotic usage, birth control pill, steroid medications.
  • Dehydration – water is a necessary component of breaking down food particles.


What You Can Do


Luckily, the body wants to repair itself and we can help our bodies become better at digesting and absorbing foods again.  Here’s what you do:


Foods to Eat:

-fresh squeezed lemon juice and water first thing in the morning

-whole foods as much as possible

-lots of brightly coloured fruits and vegetables

-probiotic foods daily

-protein at all 3 meals



Foods to Avoid/Decrease:

-wheat and wheat containing products

-dairy products

-sugar and products containing sugar (high fructose corn syrup etc)

-processed foods

-additives, preservatives, dyes, artificial ingredients




Also, avoid eating when you are rushed, stressed or upset and try not to eat too close to bedtime.  Taking these steps can ensure that you are making the most of the food that you put into your body and can set yourself up for optimal health.

Practicing Kindess

Practicing Kindness

My whole life I was taught to be kind to others, to think about how my actions would make someone feel and that once words are spoken they can never be taken back.  This is sound advice, and I have heard myself say these very same words to my own two kids over the years.

Lately there have been lots of movements involving kindness – and this is a very good thing – I’m all for it. However, I think one very important aspect of kindness is often overlooked – practicing SELF kindness.  I don’t know about you but I wasn’t taught to take care of me, to speak kindly to me, to be patient and express gratitude for myself.  If anything, the message I have received from the world all my life is the opposite.  Strive to be better, to be more, to achieve more, buy more, look better…The impossible standards of perfection we have all been exposed to through media have only increased over the years.  Not only are there airbrushed and edited photos in magazines, there are apps for our phones to make regular people appear more “perfect” – whatever that means to them.

It’s taken a lot of self-reflection and some very wise people to get the message through to me that being kind to myself is not being selfish or narcissistic.  It is not being self-indulgent or any other negative word I can conjure up for myself.  Taking care of me and showing kindness to myself is where it should all begin.

“You can’t pour from an empty cup”, is something I’m sure we’ve all heard.  But do we listen?  When you look at your old jeans that you no longer fit, when you didn’t score as high on your exam as you hoped, when your child has a meltdown, when you haven’t cleaned your bathroom in over a week – what are you saying to yourself?  “Ugh, I’ve gained so much weight I’m too fat for these jeans!” or “I’m not smart enough for this class” or “I must be doing something wrong for my child to act like this!” and “I am useless, I can’t even keep up with my housework!”.  I know those are my go to thoughts.

If we are gentle with ourselves and extend the same kindness to ourselves that we do to others beautiful things can happen.  We drop that impossible standard of perfection.  We begin to forgive ourselves for our shortcomings and when we can do that for ourselves, it becomes even easier to extend that same grace to others.

Striving for perfection is a dangerous game.  Don’t confuse it with the healthy trying to do your best – this is different.  Perfectionists set themselves up for failure.  EVERY. TIME.  It is simply impossible to be perfect.  Striving for perfection hampers our success because we hold ourselves back from opportunities sometimes because we are afraid what we do/say/are might not be perfect.  Our deep fear of failing or making mistakes or disappointing someone or ourselves holds us back.

But what if we forgave ourselves for being imperfect?  Embraced our mistakes as learning opportunities?  What if we showed ourselves some kindness?  Wouldn’t that be something.

Paleo “Butter” Chicken

I don’t know about you – but I absolutely LOVE Indian food.  The combination of spices just makes my mouth water even thinking about it!  And the lovely aroma that fills the house when everything simmers on the stove….heavenly.

While I love Indian food, I don’t always love how it makes me feel.  I follow the Paleo diet fairly consistently and as such, don’t cook with dairy – which makes it difficult to make butter chicken by following all of the recipes you can find online.  After years of tweaking recipes found online and by trial and error in my own kitchen, I have come up with the best dairy free butter chicken recipe (seriously, it is the BEST).  It is flavourful, it is creamy, it is rich and the combination of the spices is delicious.

Without further ado, here is the recipe!

butter chicken

What you need:
2 tsp avocado oil (or extra virgin olive oil)
8 boneless chicken thighs (breasts taste delicious in this recipe, too!)
1 tbsp garam masala
1/2 white onion, finely diced
3-4 cloves of garlic, minced
1-2 tsp fresh ginger, grated
2 1/2 tsp curry powder
1 1/2 tsp cumin
1 1/2 tsp dried coriander
1/2 tsp ground turmeric
1/2-1 tsp cayenne
1/8 tsp cinnamon
3 cups tomato sauce
2 medium sized sweet potatoes, peeled and diced
1 small head of cauliflower (cut into florets)
1 can of coconut milk (400ml)
pinch of salt and pepper
4-5 dashes of tobasco (if you like things hot!)

What you do:

  1. Preheat oven to 365 degrees.
  2. While it is heating, wash and cut sweet potatoes, cauliflower, onion and prepare garlic and ginger.
  3. Place chicken thighs (or breasts) on baking sheet and sprinkle both sides with garam masala.  If using breasts, cut them in half.
  4. Cook chicken 20-25 minutes.
  5. While chicken is cooking, preheat skillet over medium high and add in avocado or olive oil.  Once hot, add onion and sauce 5-7 minutes until it softens.  Then, add garlic, ginger, curry, coriander, cumin, turmeric and cayenne and stir until fragrant (about 30 sec).
  6. Add tomato sauce and sweet potatoes.  Cover and simmer for 8-10 minutes until sweet potato starts to soften.
  7. By now chicken should be done in oven.  Take it out and cut it into bite sized pieces.
  8. Pour coconut milk into skillet and nestle chicken and cauliflower in.  Cover and cook until cauliflower softens, about 7-8 minutes).
  9. Add cinnamon and tobasco and stir to mix.
  10. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  11. ENJOY!  This tastes delicious on it’s own or served over cauliflower rice or regular rice if you eat grains.

Please leave me a note in comments if you try the recipe and let me know what you think!

Does eating fat make you fat?

What’s the Deal With Fat:

Low-fat, no fat, fat free…the supermarkets are flooded with products announcing one way or another that their product is fat free and therefore making shoppers think it’s healthy.  Or is it?  Why has fat gotten such a bad rap?

For years all fat was lumped into the same category and said to raise cholesterol, increase risk of cardiovascular disease, cancer, high blood pressure and more!

While it’s true that not all fats are healthy, and in fact, some (like trans fats) should be avoided, fat is an essential macronutrient that our bodies depend on for many, many things.  So how do you know which fats to eat and which you should ignore?  And why do our bodies require fat anyways?

Why We Need Fat:

Most of the fat we need is made by our bodies, but there are some fats our bodies cannot make – we can only get these fats by eating them or through supplementation.  These fats are called “essential” fats because it is essential that we get them from food. Essential fatty acids (EFAs) include Omega-3 fats (found in foods such as fish and flax seed) and Omega-6 fats (found in foods such as nuts and seeds).  These are the parent oils these other fatty acids can be made from.  EFAs are components of the cell membranes, hormones and the nervous system – they are crucial to the regulation of emotions and mood, brain function and nerve impulses.

What EFAs Do:

•Speed up metabolism in those who are sedentary or obese
•Required in the making of neurotransmitters, for making all hormones and for healthy brain function and mental clarity
•Required for proper functioning of the immune system (activates T cells)
•Regulate the action of insulin
•Important for growth of blood vessels
•Keep the skin and other tissues supple and lubricated
•Are a human growth factor – stimulate growth
•Help us recover from fatigue
•Part of our DNA
•Facilitate oxygen transfer into cells
•Provide energy! Fat provides more energy than even protein or carbs
•Act as carriers for fat soluble vitamins in the body like vitamins A, D, E and K

When Fats Become Bad:

Hydrogenation of oils lowers the quality of oils and converts some of the unsaturated
fatty acids into trans fats.  Trans fats increase blood cholesterol and LDL (bad) cholesterol and increase the risk of atherosclerosis which is hardening of the arteries. Trans fats can displace essential fatty acids in our system, which can cause an alteration of cell membrane function. Trans fats in the heart and the smooth muscle might be a factor in the development of cardiovascular disease.  Examples of trans fats are: deep fried foods, margarine, essentially any soft spreadable fats.

The Bottom Line:

Now that we know healthy fat is actually our friend, what should we be eating?  Sources of healthy fat include fish, nuts, olive and coconut oils, avocados and avocado oil, nuts and seeds.  Along with all the benefits listed above, healthy fats also provide our bodies with loads of energy and help us stay feeling full longer – even more reasons to make sure this powerful macronutrient is included in every meal.


The Journey to Health

Figuring out what to eat can seem like an overwhelming task for many people.  There is so much conflicting information out there it is no wonder many people are afraid to make a change.  Headlines change daily, each one contradicting the one before.  Eating well shouldn’t have to be complicated.

Keeping it it simple has been the motto that works for me and many of my clients.  You don’t need to spend hours prepping a dish with 75 different ingredients that you may only use once and then have take up space in your spice cupboard.  Keeping it simple means this to me:  eat real food.  That’s it.  Avoid packaged and processed and refined and bleached and dyed and mechanically separated.  Eat vegetables (and lots of them!), eat fruit (and a variety of them!), eat whole grains and lean cuts of meat.  Choose healthy fats from whole sources such as avocados and nuts and seeds.  And once you get the hang of that, get creative with spices and cooking methods.

Keeping it simple doesn’t mean making it boring.

Sometimes the smallest step in the right direction ends up being the biggest step of your life.  Tip toe if you must, but take the step .