This post comes at a good time – right after our homes have been plagued with glorious Easter chocolate… if only we didn’t consume SO much of it and if only it didn’t CALL to us as it sits leftover and forgotten in our children’s baskets.

This is probably one of the top questions I hear from my clients - they want to know WHY their sugar cravings are so strong and what to do about it. We've all heard that sugar is "addictive" and we've talked about the impact of sugar on brain chemicals here but did you know that you can make some lifestyle, nutrition and supplement changes to help balance your brain chemistry and reduce sugar cravings? 


Let’s discuss some surefire ways to get your sugar cravings under control. Some of these are obvious and others may be a new concept for you.

We will start with some of the most obvious tips. These may sound insignificant but I can assure you, they will make a huge difference in whether or not you’re back at that candy dish at the office or the basket full of chocolate in your home.

1. Eat on a regular schedule and include protein with all meals and snacks. 
We’ve all had those moments where we allow our blood sugar levels to plummet and as a result we make poor nutrition choices (hello jelly beans). Would you believe me if I told you that we make those poor nutrition choices because the blood flow to our brain is actually REDUCED when our blood sugar levels are low?

If we let our blood sugar levels drop below optimal levels (you will likely feel tired, irritable and/or dizzy) it is a protection mechanism for our body to crave simple carbohydrates. Simple carbohydrates will bring our blood sugar level up high and fast, exactly what our body thinks we need at this time. The issues with these cravings are that we typically don’t go for something naturally sweet like a piece of fruit, we instead go for something highly processed made with large amounts of refined sugar.

One study that demonstrates how stabilizing blood sugar levels reduces the urge to consume carbohydrate-rich foods focuses on women dealing with bulimia. 20 research subjects were put on a sugar stabilizing diet and within 3 weeks all 20 women had stopped binging (Dalvit-McPhillips, 1984).

One of the best ways to combat these low blood sugar levels is to eat on a regular schedule and to include protein at every meal and snack. Protein helps to keep you fuller longer and slows the release of sugar into the bloodstream. Let’s put this into practice – instead of choosing JUST a piece of fruit for a snack add some nuts, nut butter, a hardboiled egg or some leftover meat from your last meal. This combination of carbohydrate and protein will help keep your blood sugar levels stable longer.


2. Eat 25-45 grams of fiber per day.
Fruits, vegetables and whole, unprocessed grains contain fiber but one of my favorite ways to get fiber in is by incorporating chia seeds in my diet on a regular basis. Let's look at the nutrition profile for chia seeds and why they're such a great addition to your nutrition plan.

1 ounce (approximately 2 tablespoons) of chia seeds contains the following nutrients:
• 11 grams fiber (throw 2 tablespoons of chia seeds in your smoothie and you’re almost half way to your daily goal!)
• 4.7 grams protein
• 9 grams fat
• 178.9 mg calcium (18% of your recommended daily intake)
• Excellent source of antioxidants (we talked about antioxidants and health here)

Chia seeds absorb over 10 times their weight in fluid (1) making them extremely filling, as they form a gel in our bodies when we eat them. The research linking chia seed consumption and weight loss is limited right now but including chia seeds in your diet on a regular basis is going to be extremely advantageous to your health.

Chia seeds also act as a prebiotic (food for the beneficial bacteria living in our intestines). We must supply nutritious food for these good bugs in order to keep them thriving.

I recommend adding 2 tablespoons of chia seeds in your smoothie or to your yogurt daily for optimal benefits. You can buy chia seeds at most grocery stores (likely in the "natural foods" section).


3. Spice things up!
Adding cinnamon to your food can actually help you to stabilize your blood sugar levels and prevent the spike (and subsequent plummet) in your blood sugar levels after a carbohydrate-rich meal. Research shows that cinnamon can reduce blood sugar levels by 3-5%, which is comparable to older generations of diabetic medications (2).

The type of cinnamon you use matters. Most cinnamon that we find in the grocery store is Cassia cinnamon and can cause liver toxicity in large doses (I do not recommend doing the cinnamon challenge – the European Food Safety Authority suggests that 1 teaspoon is a daily maximum of Cassia cinnamon for people sensitive to a component of cassia cinnamon called coumarin). The cinnamon you want to purchase if you are trying to stabilize your blood sugar levels is ceylon cinnamon. You can find ceylon cinnamon at most health food stores.


4. Get quality sleep. We’ve discussed the importance of sleep for weight loss and carbohydrate cravings over and over again. Haven’t read these posts yet? Check them out here and here.


5. Be sure you’re taking a vitamin D supplement – especially if your sun exposure is limited. When Vitamin D levels are low, levels of ghrelin (the hormone that tells us we're hungry) is affected making us feel hungrier more often, which leads to excess consumption (3). Read more about vitamin D here


6. Adequate omega-3 intake. As we’ve discussed previously when we’ve covered inflammation, regular intake of a good quality omega-3 supplement is key in keeping inflammation under control. Omega-3 fats are beneficial fats for our brain and they also play a role in insulin (our storage hormone that we produce when we consume carbohydrates) control.


7. Chromium picolinate. Chromium picolinate has been shown to reduce cravings for fat and carbohydrates. In one double-blind placebo-controlled study, study subjects supplemented with 1000 mcg of chromium picolinate daily for a two-month period. Compared to the placebo group, the subjects supplementing with chromium picolinate had a decrease in appetite and fewer fat cravings (Anton, 2008).


If you’re following all of the tips above and still not getting any relief, your sugar cravings may stem from an imbalance in brain chemicals due to suboptimal gut health. Our gut is literally our second brain and without a healthy gut, the balance of our brain chemicals suffers.

Without getting too deep into the chemistry, let’s look at what may be beneficial. Remember – do not begin taking any supplements without consulting your physician or pharmacist. Supplements can interact with various medications. Please also be sure to take a pharmaceutical grade supplement to ensure you are actually getting what is written on the label.


8. Supplementing with l-glutamine and a good quality probiotic. L-glutamine is an amino acid that plays a major role in healing the gut lining. Taking l-glutamine and a good quality probiotic are the first steps in healing the gut and establishing a thriving population of good gut bacteria.

How does gut health impact our sugar cravings you may ask? Well, believe it or not, sugar cravings can be caused by a simple imbalance in brain chemicals and because it is in our gut that many of these brain chemicals are produced, our gut health is imperative if we want to balance our brain chemistry to combat cravings. An example of this is serotonin – serotonin is an excitatory neurotransmitter that reduces our appetite and most of our serotonin is produced in the gut. Many obese patients have lower levels of serotonin than non-obese patients, meaning that the obese patients will have a more difficult time controlling their appetite than the non-obese patients (4). If we want to have adequate serotonin production, we must have good gut health.

When taking a probiotic, I recommend taking it at the end of the day with your last meal (read more about probiotics here). Your current health status will determine the dosage of l-glutamine (I recommend working with an integrative dietitian or naturopath to determine dosage). 

I hope these tips are helpful and will assist you in combating the post-Easter sugar cravings.

Still have sugar cravings? Whip up these DELICIOUS refined sugar-free brownies . Thanks so much for reading. If this information was helpful please share ☺

Yours in Health,



Dalvit-McPhillips S. A dietary approach to bulimia. Physiol Behav 1984;33:769-775

Anton SD, et al. Effects of chromium picolinate on food intake and satiety. Diabetes Technol Ther. 2008;10(5):405-12.

Docherty JP, et al. A double-blind, placebo-controlled, exploratory trial of chromium picolinate in atypical depression: effect on carbohydrate craving. J Psychiatr Pract. 2005 Sep;11(5):302-14.

I hate to toot my own horn... but I must say, these are very likely the BEST whole food treat I've ever made! It took 3 batches to get it perfect (and the taste testing process was tough) but I think it is finally ready to be shared (oh the things I do for you guys)!

These brownies have a peanut butter cup twist and will make your tastebuds dance with delight! The best part? They are completely free of refined white sugar and are also gluten free AND dairy free (for my food sensitivity sufferers and die-hard primal eaters out there).

[yumprint-recipe id='25']

Q: Will drinking 2 litres of water per day help me lose weight?


We hear all of the time “you need to drink lots of water in order to lose weight”… but why? And what's "lots"? Why should you be carrying your water bottle (glass or stainless steel please) around with you during the day? Today we are going to dive into the topic of water and weight loss and hopefully clear up any confusion.

Like every other health and nutrition topic, there are mixed views on this issue. Some say that the moisture content of our food is high enough and we don't need to focus on water consumption but simply drink when we are thirsty. Others say that if we don't drink enough there is no way our fat cells can break down (a process called lipolysis) and as a result we cannot lose any weight. 


Let’s look at the research:

It is important to note: Consumption of unsweetened (non-caloric) beverages did NOT have a benefit similar to water. Take home: Drinking 2 liters of diet soda, diet iced tea, etc. does not produce the same benefit as drinking “plain” water.

Although these studies seem promising as to why it is important that consume more than 1 liter of water per day, these studies do not demonstrate causation. As we’ve talked about in previous posts, it is difficult to control every aspect of a subject’s diet in a study for an extended time period. Methods of gathering data in these studies were typically a 24-hour recall on a scheduled basis (i.e. 2-months, 6-months, 12-months.)

Due to the nature of the study that would be needed to prove causation (that drinking more water actually CAUSED weight loss – regardless of how minute) this may be the most accurate research we can conduct at this time.

Although we cannot say with 100% certainty that drinking more water (approximately 2 liters per day) will have added benefit in terms of weight loss we do know that it could likely be beneficial and will not hinder weight loss.



I recommend that my clients consume 2 liters of water per day for two reasons:

First, we often mistake thirst for hunger (I’m sure you’ve all heard of this before). Have you ever experienced cravings for foods like grapes or a juicy apple? This is very likely a signal that your body is really craving hydration. You can often tell whether it’s a food or water craving based solely on the foods you’re craving. If you’re craving salty chips, it is unlikely that you’re really craving water since the moisture content of chips is extremely miniscule. Next time you have a craving, drink 500 ml of cold water and wait 20 minutes. This is often the key to feeling satisfied.

If we are focused on consuming 2 liters of water per day, we are likely replacing sugar-sweetened or non-caloric beverages (this includes Mio, Crystal Light and any of those drink mixes) in our diet with water. Replacing sugar-sweetened beverages with water will absolutely result in a decrease in body weight over time but what about non-caloric beverages? Many non-caloric beverages (i.e. diet drinks) are sweetened with artificial sweeteners, which can have a major impact on our population of good gut bacteria. If you remember from this post, having a robust population of good bacteria in our gut is extremely important if we are trying to maintain a healthy weight.

Tip: I don't typically recommend that any of my clients with digestive disorders drink water with their meals. Drinking water with meals can hinder the digestive process in many people due to its impact on digestive enzymes. Keep your liquid consumption to 30 minutes prior to or 30 minutes following a meal for optimal digestion.


Added Bonuses

In case you needed another reason to stay hydrated - Hydration status is linked tightly to mood. If you remember from this post, studies show that even slight dehydration can increase feelings of depression in some people.

We must also remember that the major ways our body detoxes is through urination, defecation and sweating - all which rely on adequate hydration levels to occur. If we are not drinking enough water (and the "enough" can be different for many people depending on climate, activity level, etc.) these detox pathways are hindered, which can lead to suboptimal health status. You will want your urine to be a light yellow color - not clear or dark yellow. It may sound crazy but monitoring the color of your urine can be a simple and effective way of monitoring your hydration status!

How much water do you drink each day? Share in the comments below. And don't forget - if you have any questions that you'd like to be answered, please don't hesitate to submit them here!


Yours in Health,


Part of the reason why people feel so confused when it comes to nutrition and what they should eat for optimal wellness is because there are SO many myths out there that just won't die. Today I want to go through 5 of the top myths I hear in my practice and discuss WHY they must be busted! 

  1. Eating Too Much Protein Is Bad For Your Kidneys

This belief has been engrained in us for a long time – too much protein is bad for your kidneys. A high protein diet is only bad for your kidneys IF you already have kidney disease. When our body metabolizes protein there is more waste product that must be filtered through the kidneys (compared to fat and carbohydrate) and this is where the strain on our kidneys comes from. However, if your kidneys are functioning normally you do not need to worry!

This is an important myth to bust because higher protein diets can be very helpful for people looking to lose weight. The Recommended Dietary Allowance for protein for adults is 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of bodyweight, which in my experience with clients is far too low. Protein has the highest thermic effect (meaning we actually BURN calories digesting it) and it has the highest satiety factor (meaning we feel fuller longer). So doesn’t it make sense that we should capitalize on this and increase our protein intake when trying to lose weight (1)? 

Current evidence is now suggesting that a range of 1.2-1.6 grams of protein per kilogram of bodyweight per day for adults is more of an ideal target in order to achieve optimal health. So unless you have kidney disease, forget about this myth and include a protein-rich food source with all of your meals and snacks to stay full, increase the thermic effect of your food and maintain your lean muscle mass while losing fat (2).


  1. Eating Fat Will Make You Fat

This is a myth that has come into the media spotlight in the last year. We have been brainwashed into thinking that consuming fat in our foods will turn directly into fat on our bodies, however this is not the case at all (so please stop ordering your skim milk latte – see more about dairy fat here).

This war on dietary fat started in the 1960s when a University of Minnesota physiologist named Ancel Keys published an analysis “proving” the link between dietary fat consumption and heart disease. The unfortunate truth about this analysis (that we later learned) was that Keys had selected the data for his study that supported his hypothesis rather than including all the available data (this worked out to be data from 6 countries instead of the 22 countries available).

In terms of fat intake and health we just need to look at the type of fat we are consuming. It is agreed upon by everyone that trans fats are not good for us. Trans fats on the label appear as “partially hydrogenated oil” – and I bet you’ve seen this in your peanut butter (along with icing sugar and some other not-so-healthy ingredients). If you replace your traditional oil and sugar-added peanut butter for natural peanut butter (ingredients: peanuts) you can avoid this nasty trans fat.

Saturated fats like butter and coconut oil have also been demonized in the past, however these fats are perfectly fine and I recommend using coconut oil and butter or clarified butter for cooking regularly.

The healthiest fats are omega-3 fats, which are very anti-inflammatory in our body. Remember – inflammation is the building block of many chronic diseases so including foods that can decrease inflammation in the body is extremely helpful (read more about inflammation and food here). Some great sources of omega-3 fats are fatty fish like salmon, herring, mackerel and trout. Tip: make sure your salmon is wild caught Pacific salmon – these fish are fed their natural diet (including omega-3-rich algae) versus farmed Atlantic salmon, which are often fed fish pellets containing genetically modified corn and soy.

Long story short, fat IS healthy for us and without adequate amounts of dietary fat we would run into many health problems. Dietary fat plays many key roles in our body, including:

I recommend including the right types of fat in every meal for optimal health and getting rid of any and all “fat-free” products in your home.


  1. Exercise More And Eat Less To Lose Weight

Weight loss is 80% nutrition and only 20% exercise. I recommend that my clients exercise for all of the great benefits exercise has on the body but weight loss is not one of them. Believe it or not, for some of my clients I don’t recommend exercising at all (leisure walks and gentle stretching not included).

Exercise can be helpful for so many people, however if we lead an already stressful lifestyle, exercise can do more harm than good. When we exercise intensely it puts stress on the body. If we are already stressed and our cortisol (stress hormone) levels are high then exercise can just drive our cortisol production even higher!

A chronic low calorie diet also puts stress on the body. Remember, the number one priority our body has is to keep us alive. When we restrict calories far below what our body needs to function optimally, it causes a great deal of stress and this can also raise our cortisol levels leading to more fat storage as a protection mechanism.

So let’s put the two together: let’s eat LESS and exercise MORE to achieve our goal weight. This sounds like a huge cortisol bomb to me. Instead, eat MORE of the good stuff that your body needs to function optimally and make exercise FUN and only do it when you’re in a relaxed state (hint: you are not relaxed at 5 am after 6 hours of sleep – don’t worry – I’ve been there and done that so you don’t have to).


  1. Animal Protein Is Unhealthy

The studies that we’ve heard outlined in popular news headlines are all epidemiological in nature (what the heck does that mean?). These epidemiological studies look at large numbers of people to determine whether or not there is any association between their diet and their risk of dying or developing a health condition after a certain number of years.

Epidemiological studies should only be used to form a hypothesis – they do NOT determine causation. If you were a participant in this study you would receive something that’s called a “food frequency questionnaire” every few months/years to fill out. Food frequency questionnaires look like this:


I don’t know about you, but I can hardly remember what I ate two days ago so I definitely couldn’t tell you how many times I’ve eaten something in the past 3-6 months or even worse, the last year! We are unable to perform a randomized controlled trial with a group of humans (half fed animal fats and half fed vegetable fats) in order to measure their health status long-term because this is extremely unethical. So at this time this is the best technique for determining whether or not a relationship exists between dietary patterns and various health conditions but it definitely does NOT determine causation.

What we have to remember is that the QUALITY of the animal fat matters and this adds another level of complexity to this nutrition myth. The saying “you are what you eat” really comes into play with the animals we eat. Animals are only as nutritious as the food they eat – meaning if the cows we eat are fed a feed of genetically modified corn it is not going to be nearly as nutritious as would be a cow fed its natural diet of grass. We will talk more about grass-fed versus grain-fed in a future post but for now just remember, grass-fed beef or pasture-raised animals are much healthier than conventionally farmed animals. Tip: If you are eating a good quality meat from a grass-fed cow, eating the fat is absolutely fine and healthy for us. If you're eating a piece of meat from a grain-fed cow, I recommend trimming off some of the fat. Again, we will discuss why in a future post.


  1. Eating Eggs Is Bad For Your Heart

It is true that eggs contain cholesterol, but the impact of the dietary cholesterol in eggs on our blood cholesterol is negligible and there is no legitimate link between dietary cholesterol and the incidence of heart disease.

The truth is, our liver makes 3-6 times more cholesterol than we can get from eating eggs.

Cholesterol has been demonized for so long and the reality of the situation is that we NEED cholesterol for optimal health.

Some of the major roles of cholesterol in the body include:

Worried about your blood cholesterol levels? Instead of worrying about eggs, take these steps to improve your blood work:

I hope our discussion today helps you bust some of these popular nutrition myths and you can make some changes in your diet today to start optimizing your health. 


Yours in Health,


Who doesn't love the combination of peanut butter, banana and chocolate? These muffins are extremely simple and delicious. They are a great mix of healthy ingredients with a touch of sweet making them the perfect treat for people of all ages! 

So many of my clients are sensitive to gluten and/or dairy meaning they typically avoid muffins at all costs. However, this recipe is 100% gluten and dairy free making it a great option for many of my clients and any of you out there who are also living with food sensitivities. Remember - if your goal is weight loss and you're constantly consuming foods you're sensitive to (and thus increasing inflammation in the body), weight loss will be extremely difficult!

Prepare a batch of these muffins this weekend and let me know what you think in the comments below!

[yumprint-recipe id='23']

Probiotics have been named the future of preventive medicine and disease treatment. Over 100 trillion microbes live in your intestines right now and they are responsible for so many beneficial processes within our bodies, from proper digestion to boosting our immune system.

What Are Probiotics?

Probiotics are non-disease causing bacteria that live in our intestines. They produce vitamins (B6, B12 and K2), short chain fatty acids, aid in digestion and absorption of our food (including minerals magnesium, calcium and iron) and help prevent inflammation and infection (fighting off bad bacteria like Salmonella and E. coli).

The more strains (types) of bacteria you have in your gut, the better.

In our intestines there is a constant battle between the good and bad gut bacteria and the key is for the good bacteria to always outnumber the bad bacteria. When there are more bad bacteria than good bacteria in our intestines we have something called gut dysbiosis. Gut dysbiosis can lead to many issues, which we will discuss later. 

Two major known benefits of probiotics are digestive health and immune support but research is emerging in the area of probiotics and obesity. We will cover digestive health separately in the next couple of weeks so for today we will just focus on immunity and obesity. 


Over 70% of our immune system is housed in our gut. This immune system is called GALT, which stands for gut-associated lymphoid tissue and it works by helping to protect the body from invasion of bad bacteria.

If you’re prone to developing urinary tract infections, eczema or allergies, a good quality probiotic can help. The good gut bacteria form a sort of shield that prevents pathogens from adhering to the intestinal wall, which helps to keep us healthy.

Let’s look at some of the data:

Bugs and Obesity

Studies have already demonstrated that the intestinal flora of obese individuals differs from that of thin people. One hypothesis for this relationship is linked to consumption of dietary fibre, suggesting that thin individuals consume more fibre than overweight individuals. Foods containing large amounts of fibre (prebiotics) act as food for good gut bacteria so naturally, if we consume more prebiotics we are going to be able to better support a robust population of good gut bacteria and in turn, starve off the bad. As we discussed last week, a diet high in sugar feeds bad bacteria and starves the good.

Another hypothesis is linked to the relationship between an imbalance of good and bad gut bacteria and inflammation. As we discussed last week, inflammation often causes a halt in weight loss and can even promote weight gain through insulin resistance.

A third hypothesis is that our gut bacteria can influence glucose and fat metabolism, which directly impacts our weight and likelihood of becoming obese (1). 

“According to Angelo Tremblay, probiotics may act by altering the permeability of the intestinal wall. By keeping certain proinflammatory molecules from entering the bloodstream, they might help prevent the chain reaction that leads to glucose intolerance, type 2 diabetes, and obesity.” (2)

The number of human studies linking probiotic intake to obesity is limited at this time, however it is a promising area of research and the relationship will only continue to get clearer.

What Do I Need To Look For?

Remember – not all probiotics are created equal. Probiotics can contain many different strains and number of colony forming units (CFUs). There is no magic number for amounts of CFUs in a probiotic but some researchers believe you need a minimum of 2 billion CFUs for at least a 2 week period in order to get maximum benefits. 

On the label you will want to look for

  1. Genus (ex. Bifidobacterium)
  2. Species (ex. longum)
  3. Strain designation (often a combination of letters or numbers)

If there are just two words (ex. Bifidobacterium longum) with no strain designation afterwards, it could be any one type of hundreds of bacteria. This is often a red flag when choosing a probiotic because it demonstrates that the company is either unaware of which particular strains exist in the supplement or they do not realize the importance of distinguishing the strain.

You’re going to want to choose a probiotic that is multi-strain. Some of the most popular probiotics in supplements today are:

Lactobacillis acidophilus (this bacteria readily colonizes on the intestinal wall and supports nutrient absorption and assists with digestion)

Bifidobacterium longum (this bacteria helps maintain the integrity of the gut lining – remember, inflammation occurs when foreign particles crosses the gut barrier and enter the bloodstream) *Fun Fact: This is one of the first strains of bacteria to colonize after birth.

Bifidobacterium bifidum (this bacteria is essential for the proper breakdown of carbohydrates, fats and protein)

*Tip: For all you travellers out there – look for a probiotic containing Lactobacillis rhamnosus to help prevent travellers diarrhea.

What Your Physician Hasn’t Told You

This is an unfair generalization however when my clients have been on antibiotics, I would estimate that 95% of them had no idea that it would be beneficial to take a probiotic following their course of antibiotics. With the frequency of antibiotic use in the world today, a probiotic protocol following a course of antibiotics has GOT to be put into place.

Recommendation: Consume a serving of fermented foods daily for a good maintenance dose of probiotics. After a course of antibiotics consume a good quality, multi-strain probiotic for at least two weeks after finishing the treatment.

Caution: Probiotics should not be taken by anyone who is immunocompromised. Please consult your physician before taking a probiotic.

Want To Know How You're Doing?

Believe it or not, you can actually send a sample to the American Gut Project for a full analysis of your gut microbes through stool analysis. With the population of your gut bacteria playing such a huge role in our health, why not see what's actually going on in there? 


Hope you found today's post informative. Keep checking back - over the next few weeks we will go over everything you need to know about housing a robust population of beneficial bacteria!


Yours in Health,


So many of us pop anti-inflammatory drugs like Advil and Tylenol on a daily basis but what if the true solution was sitting in our fridge? If you suffer from achy joints, arthritis or frequent headaches this post is especially important for you!

We often think of inflammation as only occurring when we have an injury or arthritis but most of us are walking around with low-grade inflammation all the time. Inflammation occurs when our immune system attacks what it determines as foreign invaders in our body. This inflammation should only last a short period of time and then our body should return to normal, however because of our diet and lifestyle habits sometimes this inflammation does not go away.

Chronic inflammation is the building block of many chronic diseases including type 2 diabetes, cancer, heart disease and autoimmune conditions.


Foods That Promote Inflammation In Our Bodies



This one probably doesn't come as much of a shocker. Sugar comes in many different forms and can be called so many different names but the sugar that I am talking about here is the white, refined sugar that is added to the foods we eat. The best way to limit or avoid added sugar in foods is to read the ingredient list. There will be naturally occurring sugars in fruits, vegetables and dairy products so sometimes just looking at the nutrition facts label will not allows us to determine whether or not a food contains added sugar or if the sugar on the label is simply from the fruits, vegetables or dairy products that the food contains.


The many names of sugar

If you remember from my previous post on reducing sugar intake, there are many “code names” often used by food manufacturers to “trick” consumers into thinking the sugar that their product contains is “healthy” or that there is no added sugar at all.

Here are some of the names that are often used for sugar. Keep these names in mind when you’re reading ingredient lists.

Agave nectar, molasses, cane sugar, confectioner’s sugar, date sugar, diastatic malt, florida crystals, galactose, golden syrup, icing sugar, maltodextrin, muscovado, refiner’s syrup, barbados sugar, brown sugar, caramel, corn syrup, demerara sugar, diatase, fructose, glucose, grape sugar, invert sugar, maltose, raw organic sugar, rice syrup, treacle, barley malt, buttered syrup, carob syrup, corn syrup solids, dextren, ethyl maltol, fruit juice, glucose solids, high-fructose corn syrup, maple syrup, panocha, sorghum syrup, turbinado sugar, beet sugar, cane juice crystals, castor sugar, crystalline fructose, dextrose, evaporated cane juice, fruit juice concentrate, golden sugar, honey, malt syrup, molasses, raw sugar, sucrose, yellow sugar


Trans fats 

Trans fats are the man made fats that use to be more frequently used in processed foods. Luckily, trans fats are now considered by the FDA to be harmful to our health and therefore they have been removed from many of our food products.


Damaged Fats

Make sure you’re using the right oils for cooking and that you’re using a good QUALITY omega-3 supplement if you're not consuming enough from fatty, cold water fish. When we consume damaged fat it causes inflammation in the body (this includes omega-3 supplements). Recent research has shown that 4 out of 7 omega-3 supplements sold in Canada contained damaged fats. This is why it is critical to ensure that your supplements come from a reputable company whose supplements are undergoing regular testing (preferably by a third party). 


Underlying Food Sensitivities

This is one of the major causes of inflammation I see with my clients. This inflammation usually manifests itself as achy joints and headaches and the biggest food culprits are typically gluten and dairy. If you try removing the foods that contribute to inflammation in the body and increase your intake of anti-inflammatory foods but still experience some symptoms of inflammation I recommend eliminating foods containing gluten and dairy for two weeks and reassess how you feel.


Foods That Reduce Inflammation In Our Bodies



Tomatoes contain something called lycopene. Lycopene is a powerful antioxidant meaning it has the ability to combat free radicals in the body which otherwise would cause damage to other cells in our body. Food fact: the bioavailability of nutrients in most foods decreases when cooked (think: vitamin C is damaged by heat); however for tomatoes it is the opposite. When we cook tomatoes the bioavailability of lycopene actually increases.


Omega-3 Fats

Food sources of omega-3 fats include fatty fish (salmon, mackerel, trout, sardines, tuna, herring), walnuts, flaxseed, pumpkin seeds and chia seeds to name a few.

As we’ve discussed in a previous post, balancing the ratio of omega-6 fats and omega-3 fats in our diet is key. Omega-6 fats are pro-inflammatory fats and omega-3 fats are anti-inflammatory fats. The ideal ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 fats in our body is between 1:1 and 4:1. This ratio should keep us in an anti-inflammatory state and will help to prevent some of the chronic diseases listed above. However, most of us are walking around with an omega 3:omega 6 ratio of 1:15 meaning we are dealing with low-grade inflammation all of the time. This type of chronic inflammation puts us at higher risk of developing unwanted disease.

Chia seeds have been very popular in the media today and for good reason – this little seed is a nutritional powerhouse. Chia seeds contain the plant form of omega-3 fats and they are a great source of antioxidants. Flaxseeds, pumpkin seeds, chia seeds and walnuts contain the omega-3 fat called alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) that is converted into the useable fatty acids eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). Unfortunately, the conversion of ALA to EPA and DHA is estimated to be less than 5% in healthy individuals. Food fact: Flaxseeds MUST be ground in order to digest and absorb any of the healthy fats. The oil in flaxseeds is easily damaged by heat, air and light. I recommend storing ground flaxseed in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

Recommended daily intake: In general, 1-3 grams of good quality omega-3 fatty acids per day is a good starting place (3 ounces of wild salmon delivers about 2 grams of omega-3 fat). According to American Family Physician omega-3 doses of 3 grams or more per day has been found effective at reducing morning stiffness and the number of joints that are tender or swollen in individuals with rheumatoid arthritis. Remember - choose a high quality omega-3 supplement to avoid the inflammation-causing side effect of consuming damaged fats. I like the brand NutraSea and recommend it regularly to my clients. 



Don’t fear the long word – anthocyanins are water-soluble flavonoids pigments that give the bright red-orange to blue-violet colors to fruits and vegetables. Research suggests that the health benefits of anthocyanins goes beyond the fact that they contain a significant amount of antioxidants and that some unidentified chemical properties make them potent anti-inflammatory foods (1).

Anthocyanin-rich fruits and vegetables include berries, red and purple grapes, cherries, red wine, eggplant, blood oranges, black plumbs and red cabbage.

Food fact: Red wines are higher in antioxidants (anthocyanins) than white wines because the anthocyanin is mostly found in the skin of the grape, which is used in the fermentation process when making red wine but not when making white.


Spice Up Your Life

Some of the most potent anti-inflammatory spices include turmeric, cinnamon, cayenne, black pepper and ginger. These spices have been used in ancient times as medicine for reducing inflammation and preventing illness. The research is not strong enough right now to suggest dosage recommendations so for right now just keep these spices on hand as easy additions to any meal! Food fact: When using turmeric for it's anti-inflammatory properties, add black pepper as well to increase absorption.

Do you have any other tips or tricks you use to combat inflammation naturally? Share them in the comments below.

Thanks so much for reading!


Yours in Health,



Earlier this week we talked about using food as medicine to help decrease feelings of anxiety and depression (see that post here). Today we will continue the discussion by touching on foods that can increase anxiety/depression and lifestyle changes we can make to help decrease these feelings. Remember, food affects SO much more than we often give it credit for. We can become overly reliant on medications to "cure" us of these ailments but looking to diet and lifestyle FIRST is always going to be our best bet. 

Foods that can increase Anxiety


Caffeine has been shown to decrease levels of serotonin in the brain, causing us to become irritable and depressed. If that wasn’t enough, caffeine can also disrupt our sleep cycles, putting more stress on the body and affecting our gut bacteria balance.

Caffeine is also a diuretic, meaning it causes more frequent urination and as a result, we can become dehydrated. Dehydration, no matter how little, can cause depression so it is important to ensure we maintain a good hydration status.

Refined Sugar

Not only does refined sugar affect our balance of good and bad bacteria in the gut but it also causes our blood sugar levels to look like a roller coaster with high highs and low lows. Refined sugar is absorbed quickly into the blood stream and causes a temporary surge in energy levels by elevating our blood sugar. Remember: what goes up comes down just as fast and we are left feeling fatigued and irritable.


When we are anxious it can seem as though alcohol eases stress but unfortunately this is not the case long term. Alcohol is a depressant as well as a diuretic, which makes it a double whammy on our mood.

Tip: If you are drinking, be sure to stay well hydrated and consume lots of foods containing B vitamins (see here for my post on B vitamins) to help combat the negative effects of alcohol consumption on mood. Drinking alcohol leaches B vitamins from our body and they come out in our urine. To help prevent low levels of B vitamins in the body, be sure to replenish regularly using good food sources.

Lifestyle Changes to Help Decrease Anxiety/Depression


Lux Lighting

Exposure to bright light has the ability to increase our serotonin levels without using any drugs. This is especially useful in people who live with Seasonal Affective Disorder (which is defined as "depression associated with late autumn and winter and thought to be caused by a lack of light").

"Bright light works by stimulating cells in the retina that connect to the hypothalamus, a part of the brain that helps control circadian rhythms. Activating the hypothalamus at a certain time every day can restore a normal circadian rhythm and thus banish seasonal symptoms.

Light therapy entails sitting close to a special “light box” for 30 minutes a day, usually as soon after waking up as possible. These boxes provide 10,000 lux (“lux” is a measure of light intensity). That’s about 100 times brighter than usual indoor lighting; a bright sunny day is 50,000 lux or more. You need to have your eyes open, but don’t look at the light. Many people use the time to read a newspaper, book, or magazine, or catch up on work.” (1)

Check out this link for some light box devices that you can incorporate into your day from October to April when the amount of daylight we are exposed to is diminished significantly.


Exercise is probably one of the last things you want to do when you’re feeling anxious or depressed however 15 to 20 minutes of moderate exercise (think: dancing to the radio or going for a walk) can do wonders for mood enhancement.


I challenge you all this week to give up white refined starches (white bread, pasta, rice, cookies, cakes, etc.) and perform 15 minutes of walking daily. Doing this will help to stabilize your blood sugar levels and prevent those highs and lows that we can experience when we consume simple carbohydrates and live a sedentary life.

If you decide to adopt these two changes, at the end of the week I want you to take note of how you’re feeling. This is a very valuable challenge, especially at this time of year, as Canadian and Northern U.S. winters can be long and dark.

This concludes Part 2. I hope you've found these tips helpful and you are able to apply them to your day-to-day life. 

Remember, if you've found this information useful, I would SO appreciate a share on social media. Please see the Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest links at the top of each article. 

Thanks so much again for reading!


Yours in Health,


These ribs have got to be the BEST ribs I've ever made - they fall off the bone and are absolutely delicious! One of the greatest things about this recipe is that it contains NO store bought BBQ sauce or ketchup (which we all know - many brands contain a lot of added sugar or even worse - high fructose corn syrup). Throw these in your slow cooker this weekend - you will not be disappointed! 

[yumprint-recipe id='22'] 

Did you know that in 2013, an estimated 3 million Canadians (that is a whopping 11.6%) aged 18 years and older reported having an anxiety or mood disorder?

Did you also know that you can help combat anxiety and depression using changes to your diet and lifestyle?

In order to make this topic a little more manageable, I have broken it up into "part 1" and "part 2". Today in Part 1 we will go through some of the most important nutrients needed to fight anxiety and depression then in Part 2 we will discuss foods that can contribute to feelings of depression and anxiety and how we can help reduce these feelings using diet and lifestyle. 


This amino acid became famous for it’s presence in turkey and has gotten all of the blame for the "post-turkey coma" experienced after most major holiday dinners.

Tryptophan is a precursor to serotonin, which is a neurotransmitter that helps us feel calm.

There are many foods high in tryptophan, including:

  1. Eggs (and yes, please eat the yolks!)
  2. Pineapple
  3. Nuts and seeds 
  4. Cheese
  5. Turkey
  6. Salmon

However, there is some debate as to whether or not tryptophan is able to cross the blood-brain barrier (tryptophan must compete with other amino acids in the body for absorption into the brain). Luckily, we can help to increase the amount of tryptophan absorbed by eating foods rich in tryptophan with foods containing complex carbohydrates.

What would this look like? This could be turkey or salmon served with a side of roasted sweet potato (complex carbohydrate) or nuts and seeds served as a snack with a side of fruit (complex carbohydrate). When we consume carbohydrates our pancreas produces insulin. Insulin is our storage hormone and it allows amino acids to be absorbed into the muscles and other areas of the body. This leaves tryptophan (another amino acid) behind in the “amino acid pool”, making it more likely that it will be absorbed across the blood-brain barrier.

In Summary: Pair foods rich in tryptophan with foods containing complex carbohydrates in order to get the maximum calming benefit.

B Vitamins

Studies have demonstrated a relationship between B vitamins and mood. B vitamin deficiencies can trigger symptoms of depression in some individuals. I always recommend a food first approach, so see my post here for a list of foods rich in B vitamins.


Omega-3 fatty acids

We touched briefly on omega-3 fatty acids when we talked about inflammation in the body last week but did you know that these fatty acids also enhance our mood? Some studies have shown that patients who took omega-3 fatty acid supplements in addition to their antidepressants improved more than those patients who did not take omega-3 supplements. We can find omega-3 fatty acids (DHA and EPA – the useable form of this fat) in fatty fish such as salmon, trout, herring, mackerel, sardines, tuna and anchovies. Don’t get this confused with the omega-3 fats found in plant sources such as ground flaxseed, chia seeds and flaxseed oil (this type of omega-3 fat is called ALA). In order to get the same health benefits we receive when we eat fatty fish we must convert the ALA into the useable form DHA and EPA. Don’t be fooled though, the conversion rate in a healthy individual is less than 5%. In conclusion, I don’t recommend relying on plant sources of omega-3 as the only source of omega-3 fats in your diet. If you are vegan and refuse to consume a fish-based supplement, I recommend NutraVege, an omega-3 supplement derived from the echium plant and algae.


Norepinephrine and dopamine are neurotransmitters that carry impulses between nerve cells. Higher levels of these neurotransmitters have been shown to improve mental energy and alterness. Protein in our diet helps to stimulate the production of norepinephrine and dopamine. See this post on hormones and brain chemicals and their affect on our weight.

Serotonin and food

As we've discussed earlier, serotonin is our calming "feel good" chemical. Did you know that most of the serotonin we have in our body is actually produced in the gut? In order to get the maximum serotonin production within the gut, it must be healthy. Hippocrates said "All disease begins in the gut" and is that ever true. Not only our physical health but our mental health is impacted by the state of our gut.

What positively impacts our population of good gut bacteria?


We will discuss probiotic benefits in detail in a future post, however we must touch on them today when discussing using food as medicine for treating depression and anxiety. Research in the area of the gut microbiome (the good gut bugs in our large intestine) is exploding and we are learning more and more about the incredible benefits of hosting a robust population of good gut bacteria.

Researchers working with mice have determined that by disrupting the normal bacterial content of the gut by introducing antibiotics, changes in the mice behaviour occurs with the mice becoming anxious. Along with this change in behaviour, there was also an increase in Brain Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF), which has been linked to anxiety and drepression (1).

Some of my favourite ways to incorporate probiotics into my diet is through food. My absolute favourite way is through drinking a fermented coconut water called Kevita. This retails for $3.99-5.99 and we can now get it at our major supermarket (hello mainstream). I recommend drinking 1/2 of a bottle at one time and ensuring it is always refrigerated. To get a variety of strains of probiotics, kefir, raw sauerkraut and fermented pickles are all great sources as well!

What negatively impacts our population of good gut bacteria?


This is the obvious one. Antibiotics are used to kill harmful bacteria in the body but they often wipe out some of our good bacteria as well. After a course of antibiotics it is critical that you adopt a probiotic regimen for at least 2 weeks following the last dose of antibiotic.


Stress levels can negatively impact the population of our good gut bacteria as well. This stress does not have to be mental stress alone. Stress could also stem from lack of sleep, poor nutrition or too much exercise. The gut/brain connection is a two-way street: the gut can impact the brain and the brain can impact the gut. This connection has been demonstrated time and time again in our rodent friends (2).

Birth Control Pills

This one may come as a shocker since most women are or have been on birth control pills at some point in their lives. Taking these "innocent" little pills can also alter the population of good gut bacteria in our digestive tract.

Processed Foods

Believe it or not, foods containing processed sugars can lead to imbalances between the good and bad gut bacteria we have. These processed sugars feed the “bad” bacteria and starve the good (vegetables rich in prebiotics – think: garlic, onion, asparagus) feed our good bacteria. When we include these processed sugar-containg foods in our diet more frequently we put ourselves at risk of developing an imbalance in bad versus good bacteria (called gut dysbiosis).

That concludes Part 1 of this topic. Please tune in for Part 2 coming later this week where we will talk about foods to eliminate or reduce to help decrease anxiety/depression and diet and lifestyle changes we can make to help us feel better.

If you find this information useful please share this site with your family and friends. It is through organic means that I hope to grow my followers and you, my readers, are my biggest helpers in this! 

Thanks so much for tuning in guys! 

Yours in Health,


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The contents of this website are for informational purposes only. It is not intended to offer personal medical advice, diagnose health problems or for treatment purposes. It is not a substitute for medical advice provided by a licensed and qualified health professional.
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