What is a Health Coach? (Month Two at Integrative Nutrition)

Credit: "Yoga" by artzsamui from freedigitalphotos.net

Find Balance with a Health Coach …….. Credit: “Yoga” by artzsamui from freedigitalphotos.net

Have you ever been super excited about something and just wanted to scream it from the rooftops? Maybe you lost the last five pounds you had been working on or improved the speed of your 5K? This is how I feel about being a student at Integrative Nutrition right now. This past month alone, we have studied raw, vegan, macrobiotic and whole foods ways of eating. We have also learned about superfoods, eastern vs. western approaches to medicine, listening to your intuition, and entrepreneurship. At times, I feel as though I can’t possibly take in enough information and other times my brain is too full for anything else! But explaining to others exactly what my ‘job’ will entail is a bit tricky…

It might actually be easier to tell you what a health coach is NOT:

1. A Health Coach is not a doctor, yet might be able to help you find a ‘cure’ for the issues you might be having. Headaches, digestion issues, joint pain? Often these issues are tied to a reaction you are having to certain foods. A health coach is there to help you discover the connection between the two and could help alleviate some of your health concerns.

2. A Health Coach is not a dietitian, but I will be able to help you find the foods that work best for your body and lifestyle. Maybe you would like to eat more veggies, but have no idea where to start. I will be able to help you with discovering new foods and recipes. I can even head to the grocery store or farmers’ market with you to give you support!

3. A Health Coach is not a personal trainer, though I will be able to help you add physical activity to fit your schedule and needs. I can help you find which activities really work for your body type and personality. Like to workout with someone or alone? In the morning or at night when the kids are asleep? We can get there.

4. A Health Coach is not a magician, but I will be able to help simplify healthy living and assist you in creating more balance in your life. Are you over-booked and over-tired? Do you meet everyone else’s needs but forget to care for yourself? I’ve been there and you can move beyond that.

From the Integrative Nutrition website:

What is a Health Coach?

A Health Coach is a wellness authority and supportive mentor who motivates individuals to cultivate positive health choices. Health Coaches educate and support clients to achieve their health goals through lifestyle and behavior adjustments. Proper health coach training programs and health coach certification ensure that Health Coaches know how to work with diverse groups of people and equips them with the tools necessary to best fit the needs of their clients.

“Chronic diseases such as obesity, hypertension, and diabetes wreck our quality of life and cost a fortune. In recent years, a new and intriguing concept has emerged in the prevention and treatment of chronic illness: the health coach.” –CBS News, October 2009


“The primary objectives of health coaching are to educate the patient regarding self health management and to encourage patients in taking a more proactive role in staying healthy.”-Medical Economics, Nov 2010

So, yes. I am excited to work with others to develop healthier lifestyles and families. I am completely motivated to work on my own health issues so that I will be more knowledgeable about how to help others with theirs. But am I ready right now? Not yet. I have sooooo much more knowledge to fit in my brain and still more balance to seek 🙂


The Gluten Summit – A Recap

the Gluten Summit pic

Back in November, I came upon a webinar series called The Gluten Summit, presented by Dr. Tom O’Bryan, also known as theDr.com. During the week-long series, I was amazed by the 29 world-renowned doctors, scientists, researchers, etc. Not only were they bringing to light the vast world of research that explains Celiac disease, but they were broadcasting to the medical community and world that gluten sensitivities were not only very real, but much more dangerous and deadly than I had ever imagined. If you wish to order the series, click here for information.

This weekend, theDr.com presented a follow-up webinar entitled, “The Gluten Summit: Now That We Know, Where Do We Go?” It was a 90-minute, very technical look at Celiac disease and gluten related disorders and what to do if you suspect you might be affected by them. Here are the highlights I took from the talk:

– Auto-immunity issues all have a common source: Inflammation. Yet our medical community treats them all differently based on which part of the body is being effected. The list of auto-immune disorders is extensive, containing over 100 disorders, which include everything from rheumatoid arthritis to multiple sclerosis. Certain doctors on the panel, Dr. David Perlmutter in particular, would argue that issues like Alzheimer’s and ADHD should be on the list, as well.

-There are 3 things that must be present in the body for the development of an auto-immune disorder. 1-Genetic vulnerability (a weak link in the chain); 2-Environmental triggers (a loss of tolerance to certain foods or toxins- the worst offender is gluten); 3-Intestinal permeability (a leaky gut – discovered by Dr. Alessio Fasano).

-The umbrella term “Gluten-Related Disorders” can be used to used, but there are really 4 key issues that people have with gluten. 1-Celiac disease (now effects about 1/100 people); 2-Non-celiac gluten sensitivity (about 20/100 people); 3-Wheat allergy (just to wheat specifically); 4-Non-immune nutritional deficiency (body is starving because it can’t take in any nutrients).

-If you suspect you have a gluten-related disorder (you feel better when you don’t have it), you should be tested for gluten sensitivity. The problem is, the best test for Celiac disease is Transglutaminase IgA — but it still gives FALSE NEGATIVES 7 out of 10 times!!! It is only positive if you are at the end stages of the disease, meaning there is tremendous damage to your intestines. And what’s worse is that many doctor’s order tests that are even less accurate! Yet, he orders the test, tells you it is negative, and you go on with having your health issues, thinking that you must not be effected by gluten because the test said so! So what do you do? Talk to your doctor about ordering one of the following (some insurance companies will cover if your doctor orders them, though you can order directly from the companies):

– From Cyrex Labs: MUST DO: ARRAY 2: tests for Intestinal Permeability; AND ARRAY 3: tests for 10 peptides of gluten; IF YOU CAN AFFORD IT, ARRAY 5: tests for predictive auto-immunity, includes testing for 24 tissues in the body to look for elevated antibodies AND/OR ARRAY 4: Cross-reactivity test; looks for reactions to other common food sensitivities such as: dairy, rice, corn, quinoa, potato, rye, barley, egg, soybean, etc. These are common foods that people turn to on a gluten free diet. Click here for a comprehensive look at each test.

– From ALCAT labs for those not in the United States: Premium Comprehensive testing panel, includes the gene test for Celiac Disease (which is about 93% accurate).

– If you have multiple food sensitivities (like me!), you have intestinal permeability.

– To get a comprehensive look at your health issues, fill out the Medical Symptom Questionnaire (MSQ). It will help you have a clear picture of your health and will give you a starting place in your discussion with your doctor. (Dr. O’Bryan recommended filling out the questionnaire now and then 3-4 months into a new eating protocol, to measure your progress).

Dr. Mark Houston talked about link between gluten sensitivity and heart disease. He stated that 50% of people who have a heart attack do NOT have elevated cholesterol. SpectraCell Labs does a test called the LPP- Lipoprotein Particle Profile Test that he recommends. Click here if you want more info.

-Celiacs have a much higher early mortality rate than non-celiacs, with or without a gluten free diet. You must first STOP consuming gluten, but you must also look at proper nutrition over a long time period (you didn’t get into this condition overnight, and you won’t get out of it that quickly either).

-If you can work with a doctor that has worked with gluten sensitivities before, the process will be much smoother. Click here for a doctor that has been certified as a Gluten Practitioner. If you haven’t, it is your job to ask them to listen to you and learn along with you. There is a world of research about gluten disorders.

-Once you have established the proper diet for yourself, you must heal your gut lining (this is the step I am on). Dr. O’Bryan helped NuMedica design the Gluten Sensitivity Packs and other products to support your healing during the first year. He recommends the packs, tri-flora probiotics, GI Restore, Vitamin D3 (drops) and PRP Balance Spray. All of these products can be found on his website.

Juicer or blender?

Here is an article posted by Erin at Lifesource Natural Foods, one of my favorite places to shop!

Newsletter Article: Juicing 101

Juice by jamjar

In this busy world it can sometimes be a struggle to eat the recommended servings of fruits and vegetables. Juicing offers a highly efficient way to consume large amounts of produce and will leave you feeling incredible. While “juice fasts” do have their pros and cons, there is no arguing that incorporating a freshly made glass of organic juice into your daily routine is beneficial for everyone.

Juice GlassesSo, what makes juicing so great? Juicers break down the cell walls in vegetables and fruits releasing their nutrients, which the body can then absorb directly into the bloodstream. This gives you an almost instant energy boost since you don’t have to wait for digestion. “Green juices” made up of green produce such as celery, cucumbers, and leafy greens supply chlorophyll which helps digestion, neutralizes toxins, and supports liver health. Fresh juice helps promote a healthy alkaline pH in the body and an alkaline body may be less likely to suffer from chronic disease. Most importantly, veggies are full of micronutrients that our bodies need for healthy cell function and antioxidants that clean up toxic by-products and prevent cell damage.

There are two main types of juicers: centrifugal and masticating. Centrifugal juicers shred veggies and fruit with a blade to create a pulp, which is then expelled through a chute in the back. They easily handle whole fruits and veggies, but aren’t great with leafy greens and are unable to juice wheat grass. Centrifugal juicers generally cost less than masticating, but they do come with drawbacks. The highspeed blade heats up juice destroying some of the enzymes and nutrients. They also produce a wet pulp, which means not all of the juice is being extracted.

PulpThere are two types of masticating juicers: single auger and twin auger. The single gear chews up the vegetables and fruit breaking down the fibers and cell walls. The twin auger crushes the produce between two interlocking gears at a slower speed. While masticating juicers are pricier, they are excellent for juicing leafy greens and wheat grass and they produce a much drier pulp. Masticating juicers can also be used for creating nut butters, sorbet and pasta. Both of the juicers we carry at LifeSource are of the masticating variety. The Champion Juicer is a single gear and the Omega 8005 is a twin gear.

Never is it more important to use organics than when juicing. Since the whole fruit and vegetable is being used, any pesticides or chemicals lurking on the skin will go into the juice and be transported straight to your blood stream. Especially watch out for the “dirty dozen,” a list compiled by Environmental Working Group of the 12 most contaminated foods: apples, celery, leafy greens (such as spinach, kale, and collard greens), peaches, strawberries, domestic blueberries, nectarines, sweet bell peppers, cherries, potatoes, imported grapes, and lettuce.

BlenderIntrigued, but not sure you’re ready to invest in a juicer? With a little added effort you can effectively make juice with your blender. You’ll want to pre-chop your veggies before adding them, and of course make sure you peel citrus and remove any seeds or stones from fruit. Add about a cup of water to your concoction and blend. Next, place a tea towel or cheese cloth over a deep bowl and pour your mixture. Once the majority of the liquid has drained twist the towel and squeeze out the remaining juice.

Now that you’re ready to try juicing here are a few tips to help you along your journey. Make only what you can drink since fresh squeezed juice can develop harmful bacteria when stored for long periods of time and the enzymes start to break down surprisingly quickly. Save time by prepping fruits and veggies and storing them in your fridge until you’re ready to use them.

It’s tempting to mix in a wide variety of fruits and vegetables when you first start juicing. This can lead to some pretty interesting tasting juices! Three seems to be the magic number. You can throw in some herbs such as cilantro or parsley for variety or a little bit of peeled ginger for a kick. Stick to one type of fruit for sweetness. Too many fruits quickly add up to higher calories and sugar content.

Don’t throw away all that precious pulp either! Recipes using juicer pulp abound on the internet. You can store pulp in the refrigerator for up to 12 hours or freeze it until you’re ready to use it. Add pulp to baked goods such as muffins or pancakes. Mix it into veggie dips, sauces or soup, or puree it to make fruit leather. One clever idea I ran across was mixing the pulp with honey or another type of binder, rolling into balls and dehydrating for a healthy hiking snack. I’ve included a recipe for pulp crackers.

Juicing is a great way to get a quick boost of nutrients, but if you don’t have the time or equipment to try it at home, smoothies can be a great alternative. Not only do smoothies provide the same micronutrients as green juices, but the added fiber can help you stay full longer and slows the absorption of sugar into the blood stream, keeping your blood sugars more level. You can also easily add other healthy supplements into smoothies such as protein powders, spirulina, maca powder, Omega-3 oil and chia seeds. Don’t forget to add the greens! I like spinach because it blends really well and is surprisingly sweet, chard and kale are good options too. Cucumbers add a light, refreshing twist to a smoothie and puree well. Even unconventional vegetables such as beets, broccoli and lettuce are great additions.

Recipes from this article:

Green Juice:

  • 2 green apple
  • 1 inch knob ginger
  • 6 large stalks celery
  • 1 cucumber
  • 1 bunch of parsley
  • 1 bunch of kale
  • 1/2 lemon (with peel, if organic)

SmoothieErin’s Superfood Smoothie

  • 1 or 2 generous handfuls of spinach
  • 1 cup frozen blueberries
  • 1 frozen banana
  • 2 scoops of protein powder
  • 2 or 3 Tbsp. coconut butter
  • 2 Tbsp. chia seeds
  • 2 Tbsp. cacao nibs
  • 1 Tbsp. cacao powder
  • 1 Tbsp. maca powder
  • 1 cup unsweetened almond milk

Books, eating and healing…The China Study


I love books. I love to read. I guess that’s a good thing, since I teach 6-year-olds to read for a living. 🙂 But seriously, when I was little I loved that I could dive into a book and live in another time or place. I loved the adventures that came in books and couldn’t wait to read what happened next.

While I can still get lost in a good work of fiction, my love of books these days has helped me change my life. Eckhart Tolle helped me see life in an entirely different way in A New Earth, thank you Oprah! Dr. Greene’s Collaborative Problem Solving approach in The Explosive Child helped me see children’s minds in a different light and taught me how to help children work through the toughest problems. Dr. Furman’s book, Eat to Live, reminded me of the purpose of food and brought me to a better understanding of what a relationship with food should be like.

Recently, I began reading The China Study by Dr. T. Colin Campbell, and I know that it is going to be my next ‘game changer’. Dr. Furman had cited and discussed much of Campbell’s research in Eat to Live. It was also the focus of the documentary Forks Over Knives, so it wasn’t entirely new to me (click here to see an interview with Dr. Campbell on The Dr. Oz Show). But the depth of the research, conducted over three decades in many parts of rural China, is astounding.

The following is from www.thechinastudy.com:

Americans spend far more, per capita, on health care than any other society in the world and yet two-thirds of Americans are overweight. As trendy diets and weight-loss frenzy sweep the nation, more than 15 million Americans have diabetes and our children are increasingly falling prey to a form of diabetes that used to be seen only in adults. If we’re obsessed with being thin more so than ever before, why are Americans stricken with chronic illnesses, such as heart disease, as much as we were 30 years ago?

It all comes down to three things: breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

In The China Study, Dr. T. Colin Campbell, Professor Emeritus at Cornell University, details the connection between nutrition and heart disease, diabetes and cancer. Recognized as the most comprehensive nutritional study ever conducted on the relationship between diet and the risk of developing disease, The China Study cuts through the haze of misinformation and examines the source of nutritional confusion produced by government entities, lobbies, and opportunistic scientists.

The China Study, a national bestseller co-authored by Dr. Campbell and his son, Thomas M. Campbell, MD, has sold more than 750,000 copies since it was first published in 2005. It is the foundation upon which a nationwide plant-based diet movement is based. The China Study presents a clear and concise message of hope as it dispels a multitude of health myths and misinformation.

The science is clear. If you want to be healthy, change your diet.

The book is long…and full of medical facts and study statistics. It is not light bedtime reading. If you want the 10 most important facts learned from the book, click here.

Besides all of the great information about what we should eat, what made me react most strongly was the realization that this research has been available to the medical community for years. The research regarding turning cancer on and off with changes to diet were made public in the early 80’s (if I am remembering right), yet others scoffed at the idea. There was, and still is, fear that if the medical community supports such notions, the ‘health industry’ might collapse. It seems to me that a ‘health industry’ (and I use that term lightly) that is built upon pharmaceuticals and not on scientific research, is a sad one to put our trust into and might need to be rebuilt. If my knee and leg issues of the past year have taught me anything, it is that doctors do not heal you. You must take your health into your own hands and heal yourself. (I’m now getting off the soapbox….)

Basically, food matters…a lot. For whatever reason, my son and I both have food allergies, so we have been forced to confront this reality. But for those of you without that push, you have to find another reason to commit to eating for your health. Try a few of the recipes on the recipe page to see what healthy eating can be like (I would personally recommend the almond joy bars, almond butter chews or veggie tacos as a start). I promise that I have real children that would love to run to McDonalds, just like any others. But we don’t, and they are starting to crave healthier options and complain when things are “too sweet”. Would I have thought that would ever happen a year ago? No. Good luck to you, and if I can support you in any way, let me know!

Have you read the China Study or watched Forks Over Knives? What were your takeaways? Did you change anything about your diet as a result? Let me know in the comments below.