Category Archives: Uncategorized

Roasted Veggies and Fish

Roasted Root Vegetable Medley

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  • Chop carrots, radishes, turnips, potatoes, kohlrabi, and beets. Add 1 whole head of garlic (do not chop). Mix all with olive oil, rosemary sprigs, salt/pepper to taste.
  • Place in oven, uncovered for 40-45 minutes until veggies are soft and start to brown. Serve hot!

Simple Fish

  • Mix 1/4 diced onion, 1-2 Tbsp garlic, 4 Tbsp chopped cilantro, juice from 2 lemons, 1 Tbsp olive oil, salt/pepper to taste.
  • Place White Roughy fillets in pan. Add the sauce over the fillets.
  • Place in oven at 350 degrees for 10-15 minutes or until fish flakes easily.

The Wheat Series- Part 4: Wheat and Your Mind

In the other blog posts in this series (read Part 1, 2, and 3) , we have seen how wheat can affect our blood sugar, metabolism, and immune system. In this post I wanted to discuss something that was VERY surprising to me when I first learned about it, how much gluten can affect our minds.

I was a psychology major in college (before I went back to school to become a dietitian) and my interest in psychology and health remains (I even thought about doing a PhD in health  psychology). I have seen that many patients struggling with mental illnesses (bipolar disorder, anxiety, depression, etc), who also had issues with diet and weight. I would say that when I worked with the pre-gastric bypass population about 50% (or maybe even more ) of those patients struggled at some point with anxiety, depression, or other psychological disorders. I always thought that the mental issue was affecting the diet (overeating, under eating, binges, sugar cravings, etc), and never really thought that maybe the diet was contributing to the mental illness. That is until I heard Nora Gedgaudas speak at the Ancestral Health Symposium. Nora’s talk discussed how blood sugar regulation is key regulating the endocrine and nervous system, controlling our hormones, emotions and behavior. Surges in blood sugar are destabilizing because of the effect it has on insulin, leptin, and other hormones, stimulating over-arousal and exacerbating anxiety-related issues. Remember the effect that wheat has on our blood sugar due to its high content of amylopectin?

But, its not just the blood sugar surges that contribute to the mood swings, depression, anxiety, etc, its the actual gluten itself. Gluten polypeptides have been found to penetrate the blood-brain barrier. Once gluten is in the brain, it attaches to morphine receptors, the same as opiates. It has also been found that the drug naloxone (used to reverse the action of heroin and other opiates) blocks the binding of gluten to the brain’s morphine receptors. When naloxone was given to “normal” subjects (blocking the opiate effect of gluten), they consumed approximately 400 fewer calories from carbohydrate sources. Consumption of wheat can therefore lead to a mild feeling of euphoria and  when it is not consumed, people can experience withdrawal.

Nora, in her practice, has seen significant improvement in mental illnesses by using a gluten-free, Paleo diet approach in combination with therapy and biofeedback. If you are struggling with depression/anxiety or other mental issues, it may be worth a shot. For more information, there are several testimonials about anxiety, depression, and the Paleo diet on Robb Wolf’s site.

Healing Waters of São Lourenço

We all know that it’s a good idea to drink water. Water has no calories and is extremely nourishing for our bodies.  Dehydration can lead to weight gain, slowing of the metabolism, and cause you to eat more. But, did you know certain types of water have the potential to heal?

Over the last few years I have been hearing more and more about the benefits of these “special” waters. To be honest, I never really gave it much thought. I have heard of certain people swear by water with special properties like Kangen water or “Smart” water.  I have heard all sorts of claims about this water reversing kidney disease or helping with weight loss. I can`t really vouch for any of those potential benefits, but it is worth investigating. The problem is that some of these water systems will cost you an arm and a leg.

This weekend, I got to experience healing water first hand in the city of São Lourenço, Minas Gerais in Brazil practically for free. São Lourenço is just one of several cities that contains a “water park”.When I first heard “water park” I thought we were going to a place like “Wet n Wild” with slides and a lazy river (what a small world concept I have sometimes), but that was not what I found at all. This was a beautiful, several acre park with a bunch of fountains with water available to DRINK. Mineral water with special properties and nutrients to heal a variety of ailments.

These waters of Minas Gerais (a state in Brazil) were discovered at the beginning of the 18th century when slaves found that sick cattle improved after drinking the water. It has been a popular tourist destination ever since.  Minas Gerais is known for it’s soil being very rich in a variety of minerals, therefore its not surprising to find that the water coming from the ground also contains a significant number of minerals. There are six different cities with healing water known collectively as “circuito das águas” (water circuit). These citeis are: Araxá, Cambuquira, Caxambu, Lambari, Poços de Caldas e São Lourenço. Depending on the city, the water has different properties.

The water parks are beautiful to visit, even if you don’t drink the water. They are filled with walking trails, beautiful lakes, and lots of wild life (I even saw a wild donkey and several monkeys!). In the city of Araxá there is an area of black mud of volcanic origin that you can rub on your skin. Most of the water parks contain some type of spa where you can have treatments with the water itself or mineral-rich mud. If anything, just the relaxation you will experience in visiting this place will be healing enough!

Here are some of the benefits of the mineral waters that have been studied and identified:

1. Fluoridated: indicated for tooth and bone health

2. Radioactive: indicated for dissolving renal and billiary stones, helps with digestion, can be used as a laxative

3. Carbonated (naturally): diuretic and aids digestion, can also help with arterial hypertension

4. Sodium bicarbonate: indicated for people with stomach related illnesses like gastritis, ulcers, hepatits, and diabetes

5. Alkaline (usually with calcium or magnesium)- aids in natural digestion

6. Multiple minerals– indicated for skin hydration, liver intoxiation, elevated uric acid, urinary infections, allergies, and fatigue.

You can taste any of the water for free if you pay to get into the park (only R$5 or about $2.50 US). You should bring a cup or container with you, although they sell them for R$1 ( $.50 US) at the park itself.

It is widely known here in Brazil, that people who visit these cities in the water circuit, all experience a miracle. It may not be a healing miracle from the water, but the miracle of relaxation and peace. Many of the people in the city use the water as a from of medication and find significant benefit from drinking it on a regular basis. There are several anecdotal stories of people who were able to cure gout, stomach issues, and other illness just by drinking the water. There are even several doctors in the cities who use these waters to help heal patients. Who knows maybe the solution to several chronic illnesses is easier than we think?


Several years ago I weighed just under 350lbs, I came to Ana after losing a portion on my own through fad diets and weight watchers. But I was stuck and in bad need to help break this vicious weight cycle. Ana started having me keep a food/mood journal to jot down the good, the bad and sometimes ugly things I was feeling and doing to my body. Each week we would meet and discuss a new element towards healthy eating and successful weight loss. I would turn in my Food/Mood Journal and receive feedback and support.

The biggest thing I learned about myself was that I was not eating enough. I was restricting my caloric intake too drastically and relying on prepackaged meals to help me reach my weight goals. I learned from Ana that starving myself and depriving myself of essential nutrition was not the true answer to successful weight loss.

As painful as it was for this old dog to learn new tricks, I did with Ana’s expertise and wonderfully innovative ideas. I began to eat more than I had ever done in months past, I continued with my exercise and the pounds finally started to melt away. I am happy to say the tools Ana has taught me have really satisfying rewards towards achieving long term weight loss. I have 180lbs lost and just had my first baby. All of this would not be possible without the support of Ana.

Forever Grateful,
Jessica B.

My name is Charletta and I am a General manager of a restaurant. I struggled with my weight all of my adult life. I tried diets, pills & starvation. Nothing worked,  I would lose some and gain back more. On July 29, 08 I was told I was morbidly obese.  I was shocked. I knew I was big but I was beautiful and happy. I was 279 lbs with a BMI of 49. I had sleep apnea, my body hurt so bad at times I would cry and I had borderline high blood pressure. I was offered a weight loss program which would be a 6 month class 1 time a week for a hour. I was desperate and figured what do I have to lose?  On Sept 9, 2008 I had my first class with Ana Johnson. She was the nutritionist assigned to my group. She was young and really not what I expected. Ana was very forward, open, and honest. Ana’s approach is the best as she has the knowledge and desire to help. Ana talked about food diaries (if you bite it write it). Ana gave me the knowledge and direction to achieve and maintain permanent weight loss. Every class I listened, learned, and lost. My first week I lost 7 lbs and by the end of my 6 month class I had lost almost 60 lbs and my BMI was 38.  I was starting to live life and not watch life happen. I am truly blessed to have been saved by Ana. I would recommend her and her knowledge to anybody who need or wanted guidance in health and nutrition. She saved my life. It has been over 3 years since Ana has been my nutritionist she gave me the tools to lose weight and keep it off I am now 143 lbs and my BMI is 25. Three years later I can still call her for guidance and she always helps me get back on the right track.


Genetically Modified Foods

In case you don’t live in California, Proposition 37, the mandatory labeling of genetically modified food, did not pass in the last election. This was a surprise to many of us in the nutrition/health industry because we didn’t understand why people wouldn’t want to know if their food was genetically modified. Overall, there were two issues with the election. First, there was a big ad campaign on TV that talked about how all the grocery prices would go up. In this economy, no one wants to pay more for groceries! Second, it is unclear if people understand why it’s important to know if food is genetically modified. Here are some important points on genetically modified foods (GMOs):

  • There are over 40 plant varieties in the US that are genetically modified. The US produces 68% of the GMO crops in the world.
  • GMOs have been changed in a laboratory to have certain desirable traits such as resistance to pesticides, improved nutrition, or better appearance.
  • Mostly found in processed foods in the US, most whole fruits and vegetables are not genetically modified. 54% of the soybeans grown in the US are genetically modified.
  • GMOs may cause harm to other organisms and disrupt certain ecosystems. For example, pollen from GMO corn will kill a monarch caterpillar.
  • Plant genes can transfer from one plant to another. There is a fear that the GMO plants will transfer their pesticide-resistant genes to other plants, causing weeds to become resistant, leading to the formation of “super weeds” that cannot be controlled.
  • Increasing levels and severity of allergies to peanuts and other foods in children has been linked to GMO crops.
  • GMO crops have not been tested for long-term consumption and potential effects on human health.
  • GMOs are modified so that the plants are sterile and cannot reproduce. This forces farmers to purchase new seeds yearly.

Several countries have either completely banned GMOs or have labeling requirements so that consumers can make their own decisions. Although GMOs can help solve important world-wide problems, more research needs to be done on the potential long-term effect on human and environmental health.

The 2 Day Diet Giveaway!

Great news! The great people at Random House, who send me books to review from time to time, sent me an EXTRA copy of the new book “The 2 Day Diet” by Dr. Michelle Harvey and Professor Tony Howell. An extra copy for me to give away to my readers! Woot!

The 2 day diet is based on the principle of intermittent fasting/dieting. You can read more about that in my blog I wrote for HUM Nutrition here. This principle basically says cut your calories low on a few days a week to balance out what you do the rest of the week. Now, this won’t balance out a terrible diet the rest of the week, but the authors of this book don’t recommend you going crazy on the 5 non-diet days. Instead, they recommend you follow a Mediterranean diet for the 5 days. Great advice!

Anyway, whoever wants the extra copy and wants to learn more about the 2 day diet, comment below. I will choose a winner at random on July 10 and announce it on the blog. Good luck!


Welcome to Whole Life Diets!

Whole Life Diets mission is to create a new, more powerful way to use nutrition to improve your whole life in order to achieve complete wellness. My goal is to provide clients with the tools and support to help them identify the habits that are preventing them from living the healthy and fulfilling life they truly want.

My story

As a Registered Dietitian and Certified Diabetes Educator I am in a unique position to help clients make permanent changes in their lives. I have extensive professional experience in both clinical nutrition practice and nutritional counseling.  My love for helping others started in high school when I was a volunteer for a “teens counseling teens” suicide hotline. After completing a degree in psychology from UCLA, I felt that I wanted to focus on helping people in a tangible way in order to truly see the changes they were making in their lives. I have combined my experience in psychology with my degree and expertise as a Registered Dietitian in order to help hundreds of clients achieve their goals. My mission is use all of my experience to bring you innovative nutrition information to help you achieve whole life wellness.

The RDN and AND

Most of you non-RDs probably don’t know, but the American Dietetic Association recently changed its name to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND). This change didn’t really make sense to me because I feel like it sounds like a school now with the word “academy” in the title. Then, this month on National Registered Dietitian day, they also decided that RDs (Registered Dietitians) can also start using the title RDN (Registered Dietitian Nutritionist). I think the RDN is ok because half the people I work with want to call me a nutritionist anyway. So, now I no longer have to correct them. Great!

The purpose of this post is not to update you on the pointless name changes, but to discuss something that has been really upsetting me lately in my profession. AND has done a good job of promoting RDs as “THE” experts in nutrition and dietetics. In terms of clinical nutrition, in the US, RDs are the only ones who can practice medical nutrition therapy in hospitals, nursing homes, and long-term care facilities. RDs do have a specific set of training and skills which is standardized and determined by the Commission for Dietetic Registration. This standardization gives RDs a lot of job flexibility in that they are eligible to do a variety of different jobs including clinical nutrition, food service, and community nutrition. I am happy with those options, as I know that with my RD license I will always have a job. Awesome for RDs!

But, it has come to my attention that although AND has promoted the RD as the nutrition expert and the CDR has standardized our qualifications and education, AND is now (and has been for awhile) doing us as nutrition professionals a great disservice. One of the primary reason I am not a member of AND (other than it is expensive and I don’t see the real benefit), is the fact that they gladly accept corporate sponsorship from companies like PepsiCo and McDonald’s. Companies like this are allowed to sponsor continuing education units and lectures at the annual AND meeting. Coca-cola particularly has been allowed to give presentations regarding how sugar is “not that bad” and provide RDs with information like this (I particularly enjoy the part where they say that increased sugar intake cannot be linked to obesity…WHAT???). In a recent article, an RD was discussing how McDonald’s breakfast (the SUPER high sugar oatmeal) is a healthy choice. I will challenge you to eat the oatmeal and see how you feel a few hours later, my bet is that you will be STARVING and looking for more carbs. How is this a good thing? Not to mention how excess sugar and carbohydrates are the primary cause of the obesity epidemic, this clip from the movie Fat Head explains it beautifully.

I think RDs need to stand together and take back their organization. I don’t think its bad for RDs to work for these corporations, as maybe they can promote positive change, but I think our message needs to be clear. Real food = good nutrition. Fake food (filled with chemicals, sugar, trans fats) will NEVER be an ideal diet for humans. There is NO man-made food that can replace the nutrition provided by locally grown, organic fruits, vegetables, and grass-fed meats. It may be idealistic to think everyone can eat this way, but RDs and other nutrition professionals are determined and smart enough to figure out ways to impact real change in our food systems, especially if we take back our organization and start a real conversation without the influence of corporate sponsorship. If you are an RD, consider joining the Facebook group “Dietitians for Professional Integrity” to learn more.

Product Review: Orgain

I am always on the look out for new products to try out. Of course patients are always asking me about products, but its hard to stay on top of so many.  A friend of mine gave me a new meal-replacement shake that she wanted me to test out. Its called “Orgain” and claims to be an organic, high protein, nutritional drink.  She gave me the chocolate protein flavor to try and she has been using both flavors (chocolate/vanilla) as a meal replacement for after workouts or as a snack. Orgain was developed by a doctor who was undergoing cancer treatment. He used this product to help stay healthy and maintain his weight during treatment.

There are several things I like about the product. First, its gluten free. Not that their would be any reason for there to be gluten in the product to begin with. Also the taste was pretty good. I used it as a meal replacement for breakfast and was not hungry at all until lunch (I did pair it with a banana).

It is sweetened with brown rice dextrin, cane juice, and brown rice syrup. But, because of those ingredients, it is pretty high in carbohydrates (32g of carbs, 13g of those are added sugar). You need to get the sweet taste from somewhere and I would rather have it be real sugar than the fake stuff. Some of the other “low carb” drinks are sweetened with Nutri-sweet or Splenda. If you are going to have something sweet, its definitely better to have the real stuff.

I was pretty impressed with the amount of antioxidants included in the product. There are 130mg worth of antioxidants from fruits and vegetables in the product. The equivalent of 10 servings of fruits and vegetables. Of course, you can’t just drink this and not eat your fruits/veggies! It is NOT a replacement of those foods it just adds to it!

I wish it had more protein. Maybe 20g of protein and a little less carbohydrate. It would be 2 servings worth of carbs for a diabetic, but it does have enough protein (16g) to balance out the effect of those carbs.

The main issue that people may have with the product is the cost. It is $3-4 per 11oz box. The cheapest I found it online was $3.22. I think thats pretty expensive for something you are going to drink every day (if you are going to use it that way), it would cost you over $100 a month! That’s probably 3/4 of what I spend on food for the month! (I eat for free at the hospital where I work, 2 meals per day).

Ok, so who should drink this stuff?  First, I would use it with my hospitalized patients. I think it is slightly better than the Ensure/Boost products usually recommended for patients who can’t eat much food. It definitely has less sugar and more protein than those products. If you are going through cancer treatment or have a lack of appetite for whatever reason, using this product could help get you some much needed protein and vitamins.

Orgain could also be used as a meal replacement for weight loss, but I would use it sparingly. Liquid food is not a good idea for losing weight, but if its between drinking this product or having nothing at all, its better to have something. If you are not trying to lose weight and only want to gain muscle, try adding some fruit/protein powder to it and use it as a base for a smoothie after a weight lifting workout. So, overall, I would recommend this product to people looking for some type of shake or meal replacement. It is a little expensive, but it can be worth it to try to maintain strength or for a easy post workout shake or meal replacement! Enjoy!

Coffee Creamer

I am going to make a confession, there is nothing that I love more than Coffee Mate coffee creamer.  Even when I was eating almost 100% Paleo, I still had an occasional weakness for Hazelnut creamer.  Now that I am on a tight budget, regular Starbucks trips are out of the question, but I don’t miss Starbucks because I have allowed myself Hazelnut creamer instead. Hey, I’m saving money right?  I am completely and totally aware that the 3rd ingredient is “partially hydrogenated…oil”. Partially hydrogenated = trans fat, which is increasing inflammation in my body and is basically like eating plastic. Terrible! I also see the long list of other ingredients, none of which are good for me. But, what is a girl on a budget to do?

Coffee Mate Ingredients


Coffee Mate Natural Bliss Creamer

Enter a “better” (not fantastic) solution today! The new “Natural Bliss” creamers by Coffee Mate. Check out the difference in the ingredients: NONFAT MILK, HEAVY CREAM, SUGAR, NATURAL FLAVOR.  That’s it!!! 4 ingredients!! I had seen it advertised on TV recently, so I decided to check it out at the store today since I was feeling guilty about my daily creamer consumption. I was ecstatic to see a short ingredient list and no trans fat! The only SMALL problem I have with it is the “natural flavor” part of the list. Natural flavors is a code word the food industry uses so it doesn’t have to spell out exactly what the ingredient is (usually a bunch of chemicals used to give foods flavors, that are not tested for safety). If you want to read more about natural flavors check out an article I wrote about it here. Anyway, I think I am a convert to the new Natural Bliss Coffee Mate. I know it’s not making me healthier, but I think overall it’s probably not hurting me that much. Plus, I think the happiness that delicious cup of coffee gives me every morning probably evens out any harm. Drink up!