Q & A Thursday: What to Do When You're Sick This Season

I'm sick? Why GOD?! WHY?!


Ugh, I’m sick. That’s pretty much all I can think about right now. I keep asking myself, “How did his happen? Will I ever feel good again? I don’t even remember what it felt like to be healthy!” So as these thoughts spiraled, I had an epiphany: Since we’re in the belly of the beast (holiday season/cold season/super-stress season), I would answer my own question: Why am I sick? <cough, cough>



Even if we ate the healthiest foods, and exercised appropriately, we may still get sick. Why? Because nutrition and physical activity are only 2 of the 5 Pillars that keep us healthy, happy, and productive. We often forget that relationships, career, and personal philosophy are important areas for us to focus on for our health. Unfortunately, our immune function is smarter than we are. Our bodies know what they need, even though we often forget or ignore it.

Speaking of immune function, there are many things that actually suppress or prevent it from operating at optimal levels.


Things That Suppress Immune Function:

  • Alcohol
  • Smoking
  • Refined sugar and flour products
  • Hydrogenated fats and oils
  • Artificial sweeteners, food dyes and preservatives
  • Stress
  • Excess exercise
  • Not enough exercise
  • Unhappy feelings and thoughts
  • A negative attitude towards life
  • Feeling trapped in a situation
  • Unexpressed emotions or emotions being expressed in an unhealthy way

That sounds like a lot, especially during this time of year, but don’t fret! All is not lost! 


Things That Boost Our Immune Function:

  • 8-10 hours of sleep per day
  • A moderate amount of exercise
  • Yoga
  • Walking
  • Appropriate levels of activity
  • A Positive attitude about life
  • Job satisfaction
  • Loving relationships
  • Doing something that personally satisfies you every day
  • Expressing emotions in a healthy way
  • Pets


When I’m sick, I notice my sugar cravings skyrocket as my body is searching for extra energy.  I’d be lying if I said I didn’t indulge a bit more when I’m sick. The truth is that I’m less likely to do the work to prep and cook my food and I am more likely to order delivery or dig into my chocolate stash.

Knowing this about myself, I decided to prepare by ordering Fresh Direct (grocery delivery for those of you who don’t live in the Northeast!) and stock up on ingredients for easy stir-frys and soups.

There are so many foods that help to strengthen our immune system. Here are a few I had on hand or purchased to prepare myself for hibernation.


 Foods That Help to Strengthen Our Immune Function:

  • Citrus fruits
  • Berries (also to curb my sugar cravings)
  • Dark leafy greens
  • Flax, coconut, and olive oil
  • Brown rice & quinoa
  • Root vegetables (also to give me healthy carbs without the sugar spike!)
  • Spices such as: thyme, oregano, garlic, ginger, clove, basil, rosemary, onion, and turmeric
  • And without fail, I’m drinking 8 glasses of water or herbal tea!


My last tip for conquering sickness this season is “chicken soup for the soul.” No, not those books my mom always gives me (though I do like some of them).

Read books, watch movies, meditate, and do other things that you actually enjoy doing, but never let yourself indulge in. This is your time to nourish your soul by grounding your energy and focusing on self-love. Chances are, that’s why you got sick in the first place!

Personally, I’m rereading Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban :)

And, on a more literal note, have some soup! Here is one of my favorite recipes and one that I’ll be making tonight! Thanks Whole Foods for this one!


Better than Chicken Soup



Serves 4 to 6
This immune-boosting soup is made with a virtual garden of powerful ingredients that contain beneficial nutrients for your immune system.


1 small yellow onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, sliced
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
8 fresh shiitake mushrooms, stemmed and sliced
4 cups low-sodium mushroom, vegetable or chicken broth
1 1/2 cups julienned fresh kale
1 cup cubed butternut squash
2 tablespoons grated fresh ginger
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
6 thin slices astragalus root (optional)
Juice of 1 fresh lemon
1 teaspoon miso


In a sauce pot over medium-high heat, saute onion and garlic in oil 3 minutes. Add turmeric and mushrooms. Saute 2 minutes. Add broth, kale, squash, ginger, cayenne and astragalus. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer 15 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool slightly, add lemon juice and miso (adding miso when still very hot will diminish its probiotic benefits). Cover and let sit 5 minutes before serving.

Nutrition (in case you care-which you shouldn’t)

Per serving: 90 calories (5 from fat), 0.5 g total fat, 0g saturated fat, 0mg cholesterol, 160mg sodium, 19g total carbohydrate (6g dietary fiber, 5g sugar), 2g protein


What are your remedies for seasonal sickness? Share in the Comments Section Below!

Thanksgiving Week Survival: Game Day Training Plan


Huzzah! It's part 2 of your Thanksgiving training plan!

Since self-care is the route of sanity, here are 8 tips to prepare yourself for Thanksgiving with your loved ones. If you missed yesterday’s post on shifting your attitude to gratitude, it isn’t too late! Check it out so you can walk into family time without a loaded gun.


1. Start off on the right foot.

Meditate in the morning and go through yesterday’s gratitude list.


2. Get at least 20 min of cardio in.

I’m not telling you to do this to create a calorie deficiency so you can justify more pie (though it will do that too!), but it’e essential for elevating your mood.


3. Don’t show up on an empty stomach.

Have something beforehand that you can feel good about like green juice or a smoothie. Once your nutrients are in, it’ll be easier to avoid the carb & sugar guilt you may feel at the end of the day. Plus, one good thing leads to another. Starting off healthy sets you up for success.


4. Go Green.

Load up on all the green things you want, even if it’s loaded in butter and flavored with bacon. Yummers!


5. Drink more water.

This isn’t just a diet tip to get full so you eat less (though it will do that), but your brain needs to be hydrated or you will be anxious, depressed, and moody. Does that sound like a recipe for success? Not so much. As you may know you need half your weight in ounces of water per day.  So if you weigh 140 pounds, you need 70 ounces (or roughly 8 3/4) glasses) Sure, that sounds like a lot, but it’s better than feeling moody all day. Don’t just wait for tomorrow to start doing this, start now!


6. Own your shit.

When you feel yourself going from 0-60, remember what’s your shit and what’s their shit. Read here to learn more.


7. Stay present.

This applies to everything. We tend to look for patterns to make sense of the world. It’s how we keep ourselves safe. For one day, I invite you to let go of that. Sure, your sister never helps with the cooking, but don’t bring up the past to her or to yourself.  Look at things as an isolated incident. Staying present also means not rehashing old arguments. Let it go for today, even if you haven't truly let it go.

And, when it comes to food, staying present means thinking about your current bite and not the next stuffing-turkey-cranberry pile up bite you are excited to create. Asian cultures say you should chew your food 20 times, that’s nice, but unlikely.  I’m shooting for 10 chews per bite. Not only will you get full faster, but it will aid digestion and ease the inevitable food coma to come.


8. Time Out.

On the big day, don’t be afraid to take a time out. Go for a walk, hold a cute baby, play with a puppy, or go to the kids table and make one of those awesome hand-traced turkeys like you did as a kid.


Happy Thanksgiving! Let me know how it goes in the Comments section!


Q & A Thursday: What are Processed Foods?



know processed foods are bad for me, but seriously, what are they?



We hear a lot about how processed foods are the devil, but we rarely talk about what they ACTUALLY are. So let's take a few minutes and clear this up! To some extent, everything we eat is processed. The difference is how it is processed. Normal food processing is what we do at home when we’re cooking it, and that’s all good. However, the bad kind of processing is the stuff made in large factories that use crazy heating and cooling and chemical alteration to create the product.  Most of these are Frankenstein-like derivatives of corn and soy. They can be found in soda, candy, deli meat, etc. So even though you may think you’re eating something healthy, the nutrition content is severely minimized during this process.  Through the excessive heating and cooling processes, which are required in order to give processed foods extended shelf lives, vital nutrients are greatly diminished.  For example, the excessive blanching of veggies causes water-soluble vitamins like vitamin B to fall out.  Ultimately, over-processed foods aren’t nutritionally dense.

They are like empty calories: You need to eat a lot of it to get any nutritional benefit.

Let’s take a look at an unlikely example:


The Frozen Veggie bag. Congrats! You decided to eat veggies, mom would be proud! What mom doesn’t know is that when large food corporations distribute massive amounts of veggies, there is a huge risk of food-borne illness. (remember the spinach scare?!) To combat this, they heat the veggies to crazy-high temps to kill bacteria that would cause them to rot. They then add chemicals to make it last even longer and to add “flavor.” 

My advice: reserve that bag of peas for shin splints.


Processed foods are bad for two reasons:

1. They are lacking nutritionally. 

2. They have additives.


You saw evidence of #1 above. Now lets look at additives.

To add back in the flavor that was lost during the processing, manufacturers add a variety of substances. We’ve all heard of trans-fats (hydrogenated fats) that are used in things like peanut butter and old school Oreos. (Why didn’t they ever think to stuff Oreos with peanut butter?) Anyway, adding transfat helps the product to last longer and maintain a smooth consistency. The downside? Longer shelf life = Higher LDL cholesterol + Higher risk of heart disease. No thanks!

I could go on and on about this forever, but I’ll just leave you with this table instead:

Screen Shot 2013-11-21 at 10.40.00 AM.png


Perhaps one of the most famous stories of processed food is the infamous “Pink Slime.” Chances are you’ve heard of the fast food scandal and immediately regretted your late night trip to McDonald’s.  Check out awesome video to learn more about how it’s made. Thanks, Jamie Oliver!

In a perfect world where we were constantly full of self-love, we'd never eat anything that's processed this way.

But, we're humans. Nobody expects you to be perfect.

The 3 best solutions to minimize our intake of the bad stuff is to:

1. Meditate- Duh! Connecting with yourself helps everything.

2. Exercise- Connecting with your body makes you want to feed it the good stuff.

3. Crowd-out- Add in enough of the good stuff (greens, veggies, water) and your body will no longer crave the bad stuff. 

But seriously, cut the crap. It makes a big difference :) 

What are ways you've decreased your intake of processed foods?

Share it below!