Sample Letter to Friends, Family and Colleagues

Many of my clients struggle with situations in which they find themselves having to refuse or resist sweets all around them as they try cut sugar out of their diets for good. This can be hard and awkward for them and can feel like a strain on relationships. I wrote up this sample letter that you can modify to letter writingmeet your needs if you find yourself in the same situation. Imagine if everyone sent out a similar letter – we could change the culture!

Dear friends, family and colleagues,

I’m so thankful for the ways that you have shown me love over the years. For some of you, one of these ways was sharing food you loved with me, including special desserts. Unfortunately, my health and weight have brought me to make the decision to stay away from sweets most of the time going forward. To be clear, I’m not going on a diet. I’m changing the way I eat for life, to ensure my health and longevity. This is very important to me, so I want to share it with you so that you can best support me in my goals.

Going forward, I want to suggest some other ways that you could share your love with me and support me in my efforts. If you’re wanting to give me something sweet or share something sweet for a potluck or a family gathering, fresh fruit would be awesome. I’m also open to eating desserts that do not have added sugar. Some alternative sweeteners that work for me are xylitol (replaces sugar 1:1), Steevia, erythritol, and monk fruit extract. And of course this doesn’t mean that you can’t bring regular desserts for other people to eat. I just don’t want you to be offended if you don’t see me partaking.

And another way that you could support me is by not offering traditional sweets or desserts to me, as it currently is a difficult temptation for me. Another way you could support me is by hiding any sweets or candy that you typically keep out on your desk or in your home when I’m visiting. Or if you have leftover sweets, it would make it much easier for me if you didn’t leave them uncovered in a public place or announce their existence over group emails. I’m guessing I’m probably not the only one trying to cut back on sweets!

Thank you for your support in my health efforts! ​

Golden Roasted Cauliflower

Golden Roasted Cauliflower
Golden Roasted Cauliflower

One of my favorite vegetable side dish recipes – I could eat half a head of cauliflower at a sitting this is so yummy.

Serves 4-6 as a side dish. 15 minutes prep; 40 minutes cooking time.

​1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp. ground cumin
2 tsp. turmeric
1-2 tsp. crushed red pepper (depending on your tolerance for spiciness)
1/2 tsp. salt
1 head cauliflower, cut into 1-inch florets (reserve the core for the next recipe)

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. In a large bowl, combine oil, cumin, turmeric, crushed red pepper and salt. Mix then add the cauliflower pieces and toss to coat.

2. Spread cauliflower evenly on a cookie sheet so that all of it touches the pan.

3. Put on the bottom shelf of the oven and cook for 20 minutes.

4. Take out and turn each piece over.

5. Put back on bottom shelf of oven for 15-20 more minutes until each piece looks cooked through and nicely browned.

Caulifower Almond Patties

Cauliflower Almond Patties
Cauliflower Almond Patties

Makes 3-4 patties. 23 minutes.

Last night while I was going to sleep, I thought up these patties as a way to incorporate more vegetables and nutrition in my bread. They’re gluten-free, quick and simple to make and have a chewy and toothsome feel that’s very satisfying. They can serve as a base to an open-face sandwich, the way I did above with sauteed arugula and zucchini slices with pesto, or even as a pizza base.

1/2 cup almond meal
1/4 cup arrowroot starch
One cauliflower core, shredded
1/8 tsp. salt
1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
3 tbsp. water (add one by one until you get a good consistency)

1. Combine all ingredients except water, then add water tablespoon by tablespoon to get a good consistency, adding more if necessary. It should hold together without being runny.

2. Heat a nonstick pan on medium and add about 1/2 tbsp. avocado or other high-temperature tolerant oil. Put a scoop of batter in the pan and push and spread it into a patty shape (the size of a kaiser roll). Cook for 2-3 minutes per side until golden brown. Add more oil for each one as necessary. ​​

1 in 3 Americans Has Prediabetes

9 out of 10 Don’t Know It

According to the CDC, one in three Americans has prediabetes, where blood sugar levels are higher than normal, but not high enough yet to be diagnosed as type 2 diabetes.

Unfortunately, 90% of people don’t know they have it. Prediabetes puts you at increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes, heart disease, stroke, cancer, Alzheimer’s and dementia. 
If you eat any sugary foods on a regular basis, the next time you have a physical, be sure to ask your doctor to measure your hemoglobin A1C levels. Levels between 5.7 and 6.4 indicate prediabetes. However even levels considered normal (between 5.3 and 5.6) are correlated with increased rates of brain shrinkage and dementia. So if you find that your levels are too high, it’s time to decrease your intake of added sugar.
Helping people break the sugar habit is one of my specialties, so if you need help, you can reach me at lindsey@highdeserthealthcoaching.com. We can chat for as long as you need and you can see whether coaching might be helpful/useful for you or not. Nothing to lose, drop me a line! ( :

The Perfect Stool – My New Podcast

The Perfect Stool podcast photoI have exciting news to share! The first episode of my new podcast has just been published and you can access it now on Apple podcasts, Stitcher or your favorite podcast app! Or you can just play it from your computer.

It’s called The Perfect Stool: Understanding and Healing the Gut Microbiome. If you’re suffering from gut problems from bloating to acid reflux, IBS to stomach pain, this podcast if for you! I interview functional and integrative medicine professionals, patients and scientists about the gut microbiome, the current state of research and how you can apply it to your life.

And if you’ve never heard of a fecal transplant, boy are you in for a surprise when you hear what people are doing to heal themselves! You’ll also learn about the gut microbiome’s influence not just on digestive health, but on cardiovascular health, mental health (including anxiety, depression, ADHD and autism), autoimmune diseases, skin conditions and overweight/obesity.

So please look for “The Perfect Stool” on your favorite podcasting app, and if you like it, review it and share it with your friends and family!

Cyberweek 2018 Coaching and Cleanse Discounts

In celebration of Cyberweek, I’m offering the following deals (for new clients only):

$25 off a 14-day Total Body Reset Cleanse

$50 off a 4-week Weight Loss Jump Start Coaching Program

$100 off a 12-week Weight Loss Coaching Program

To qualify for these discounts, you must schedule your initial consultation by November 30th, pay for your program this year and schedule the start of your program by January 15th.

To set up an initial consultation or for more information, please call Lindsey at (216) 337-9344 or e-mail lindsey@highdeserthealthcoaching.com.

Happy Cyberweek!

Good Chocolate Choices for Autoimmune Health

In honor of Halloween, which is tomorrow, I wanted to share with you my favorite finds for healthier chocolate choices. As far as candy goes, dark Chocolate Barchocolate is probably your most healthy option. And while I’m a firm advocate for eliminating as much added sugar as possible, I find that sometimes I just want that square or two of dark chocolate after dinner to finish off my meal and tell my body that it’s done eating, which is much better than a big dessert!

And there are some health benefits to chocolate, including it being a powerful source of antioxidants; raising good HDL cholesterol; and possibly reducing heart disease risk, improving blood flow and lowering blood pressure. But let’s not kid ourselves, at the end of the day, it’s still candy and has added sugars, so the key is moderation, and if you can’t limit yourself to a square or two, best to abstain completely.

And if you suffer from autoimmune disorders like I do and have to avoid dairy or soy like me (or are lactose-intolerant or vegan), you’ll find that most brands of chocolate contain soy lecithin and many contain milk, especially for lower percentage cacao bars (I usually shoot for at least 70% cacao, although the dark chocolate mint one below is 67%). So two of my current favorites that have no soy or dairy (or gluten) are the Theo’s Sea Salt 70% Dark Chocolate and the Equal Exchange Dark Chocolate Mint bars. Both are organic, fair trade, rich and delicious.

     

In terms of sugar-free chocolate, I tried one bar made with xylitol, but it just didn’t have the rich quality that makes chocolate so irresistible. There is one brand of chocolate that is made with steevia and no sugar, Lily’s, but I’m not a huge fan of steevia due to the aftertaste and they have soy. But for those of you who like steevia and have no issue with soy, these bars or chocolate chips are a great choices.

      

And my favorite gluten-, soy- and dairy-free chocolate chips are the Enjoy Life dark chocolate chips:

So on Halloween if you go ahead and indulge, indulge responsibly on high quality, delicious chocolate. Don’t waste your stomach space or the calories on low quality, oversweetened, cheap candy!

Sugar is the Enemy

SugarIf you’ve been struggling to lose weight and keep it off, sugar is most likely the enemy.

One study found that people whose urine tests showed higher sugar consumption levels over three years were 54% more likely to be overweight than those who were objectively shown to be eating the least sugar in their diet.

The crazy thing is that you may not even realize you’re eating it. A University of North Carolina study found that 60% of packaged foods bought in the U.S. contained added sugar.

How to avoid added sugar?

  1. Check labels closely – first for the amount of total sugars, then the ingredients list (see list of sugar names below).
  2. Try to choose foods with no or negligible amounts of sugar (1-2 grams) unless the food contains dairy or large amounts of fruit, both of which contain naturally occurring sugars.
  3. For sweetened foods like cereals or granola bars:
    grams of sugar – grams of fiber should be < 3 grams of sugar
  4. Check online menus of favorite restaurants to pick lowest sugar options.

Here are some common names for sugar you may not be familiar with:

Agave nectar
Barley malt
Beet sugar
Blackstrap molasses
Brown rice syrup
Brown sugar
Buttered syrup
Cane juice crystals
Cane sugar
Caramel
Carob syrup
Castor sugar
Coconut sugar
Confectioner’s sugar (powdered sugar)
Corn syrup
Corn syrup solids
Date sugar
Demerara sugar
Dextrin
Dextrose
Diastatic malt
D-ribose
Ethyl maltol
Evaporated cane juice
Florida crystals
Fructose
Fruit juice
Fruit juice concentrate
Galactose
Glucose
Golden sugar
Golden syrup
Grape sugar
High-fructose corn syrup
Honey
Icing sugar
Invert sugar
Lactose
Malt syrup
Maltodextrin
Maltose
Maple syrup
Molasses
Muscovado sugar
Panela sugar
Raw sugar
Refiner’s syrup
Rice syrup
Sorghum syrup
Sucanat
Sucrose
Treacle sugar
Turbinado sugar
Yellow sugar

If you’re struggling to kick the sugar habit, I’d love to help you! Set up a free 60-minute consultation to help you understand what’s keeping you from kicking the sugar habit and/or meeting your weight loss goals.

If you’d like to reduce your business’ health care costs by helping your employees kick the sugar habit, I’d love to give a free talk at your workplace on “How and Why to Kick the Sugar Habit“.​

Gluten-Free Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins – Healthy, moist and delicious!

Gluten, dairy, soy and guilt free (and very low in sugar). Makes 12-14 small muffins. 

Gluten, sugar, dairy and soy are 4 of the most common irritants to people Autoimmune Banana Chocolate Chip Muffinssuffering from Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis and other autoimmune conditions. This recipe is designed to be very low in added sugar (about 2 grams per muffin) and is free of the main ingredients that irritate the guts and brains of people with autoimmune conditions.

½ cup xylitol (low-calorie, low-glycemic sweetener)
½ cup avocado oil
2 eggs
2 mashed ripe bananas
½ cup coconut cream or full fat coconut milk (from a can, not milk for drinking)
1 tsp. vanilla
3/4 cup almond flour
3/4 cup gluten-free flour
1 tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. salt
1/3 bag Enjoy Life dark chocolate chips
2 tbsp. chia seeds

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray muffin tins with oil. Beat sugar and oil. Add eggs, bananas, coconut milk or cream and vanilla and mix with beaters. Mix flours, baking soda, and salt then add. Beat just until dry ingredients are moistened. Stir in chocolate chips. Pour batter into muffin tins then sprinkle each one with chia seeds. Cook for 18-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Enjoy guilt-free – just don’t overindulge – xylitol can have a mild laxative effect at high doses.

How long can you last on your own?

In 2013, the Daily Mail reported that the average woman’s diet (in the U.K.) lasted five weeks, two days and 43 minutes. That was the point at which most women gave up.

I’ve tried dieting and also gave up. The longest probably lasted about 2 months. The depressing thing was that with each successive diet, the weight Dietseemed to come back on more quickly than the previous time and I ended up weighing more each time! Then research came out indicating that the reason you gain back more weight is that your body readjusts its baseline and requires not just fewer calories because it’s maintaining a smaller body, but even fewer than that because it wants to protect itself from loss. I finally realized the damage I was doing with dieting.

What I needed was permanent lifestyle and diet changes, not a diet. It took the support of my partner from my health coaching program to plan for, implement and follow through on those changes in a way I never could before. It took more than 5 weeks. When I did, the baby belly I had held onto since the birth of my son (in 2003) melted away (14 years later) without any effort and without restricting calories. I always eat now until I’m satisfied and love the food I eat. I no longer crave sugar. I can look a piece of commercial white flour, sugar-laden, gluten-filled cake in the eye and feel no regret whatsoever about not eating it. I still enjoy sweets – but sweets I bake at home with healthy ingredients and safe sweeteners that won’t raise my blood sugar or put me at risk of cancer.

Habit change is difficult in the context of a busy life and other priorities. Investing in health coaching is not just about information, although that is important. It’s investing in someone to keep you accountable over an extended period of time as you make those permanent changes. Many of us try but fail on our own. This recent article on Medium: “I Lost 86 Pounds and Learned a Few Things” supports that conclusion. In that case, it was a personal trainer that keep him accountable. The important part was that someone was keeping the author accountable.

If you think you may need help staying accountable as you make the changes that will lead to permanent weight loss,  please reach out and set up a free 1-hour consultation. You have nothing to lose . . . but weight.

 

Should I give up gluten or is it just a fad?

First, not everyone should give up gluten – for many it is a fad! There are many good reasons to give it up, however.Bread photo

The single most important would be if you tested positive for celiac disease. However, that’s only a very small percentage of people (about 1%).

The second would be if you notice a sensitivity to it. Common symptoms include foggy brain, depression, ADHD-like behavior, abdominal pain, bloating, diarrhea, constipation, headaches, bone or joint pain and chronic fatigue. If you have these symptoms, a guided elimination diet is one tool I use to help my clients determine if gluten may be at the root of their symptoms.

Another important reason to give up gluten is if you have an autoimmune condition such as Lupus, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Hashimoto’s, Multiple Sclerosis or many others. Gluten triggers the release of zonulin, which causes a loosening of the tight junctions in your intestinal wall to, creating intestinal permeability or leaky gut. This allows proteins, toxins, partially digested food and microbes to pass out of your intestines and into your bloodstream, triggering an immune reaction. Gluten also causes inflammation, which is a precursor to autoimmune diseases. When your system is overloaded with inflammation and frequent overstimulation of your immune system, it begins to attack indiscriminately, often targeting your own tissues, which is what autoimmune diseases are.

In addition, the gluten molecule resembles your body’s own tissues, particularly your thyroid, confusing your immune system. So when gluten is eaten, it attacks both the gluten and your own cells. Casein, the protein in dairy, is also similar in form to gluten and can also trigger similar confusion and autoimmune disease.

Giving up a food that forms the base of your diet can seem impossible, scary or just not fun. Part of my work is to help you determine the foods and recipes that you both love and that help you feel your best so that you can focus more on what you can eat rather than what you can’t eat.

If you need help with an elimination diet to find the root cause of your unexplained symptoms, or you want help improving your autoimmune condition naturally, I can set up an individualized program for you. E-mail me for more information. I work with clients all over the country.