healthy lifestyle

Food Allergies vs. Sensitivities

In the past few years there’s been a lot of talk about food allergies and more recently food sensitivities. With many popular diets eliminating common allergens, you may be wondering if you need to remove these foods from your diet. In this post I’m going to explain the difference between food allergies and food sensitivities. I’m also going to share my experience with testing for food sensitivities and the effects I felt after changing my diet.

Food Allergy

An allergic reaction to food occurs when we consume something that our body perceives as a threat. This causes the immune system to respond by producing antibodies. Antibodies work by removing harmful molecules from the body. The symptoms of an allergic reaction occur quickly after ingesting an allergen and can be severe. This is because the amount of antibodies increases rapidly; IgE antibodies. For example someone with a peanut allergy accidentally eats some granola that contains peanut. Within minutes their throat may begin to tighten, they might develop hives, or their lips, tongue, and face may swell.

Food allergies Signs/Symptoms

  • Skin reactions
    • Lips, tongue, and face swell
    • Itchy eyes
    • Hives
    • Rash
  • Respiratory tract reactions
    • Swelling, itching, tightness in the throat
    • Shortness of breath
    • Dry cough
    • Runny nose
    • Wheezing
  • Digestive tract reactions
    • Abdominal cramps
    • Nausea
    • Vomiting
    • Diarrhea

Food Sensitivity

When you have a food sensitivity, the body responds in a similar way, by releasing antibodies, however different ones; IgG and IgA. Compared to an allergic reaction the symptoms of a food sensitivity occur slowly, this is because the amount of antibodies increases over hours and can remain elevated for a longer period of time. Someone with a sensitivity to dairy can drink a glass of milk and feel fine, until a few hours later, when they might feel bloated, gassy, or tired.

Food Sensitivity Signs/Symptoms

  • IBS
  • Migrains
  • Rashes
  • Asthma
  • Chronic fatigue

For a more in-depth explanation of food allergies/sensitivities this article  does a great job at breaking it all down in a easy to understand way.

Here is my experience and reason for being tested for food sensitivities. I have had acne most of my life, a pimple here or there is no big deal. However, a little over a year ago my face was breaking out badly. I’m talking painful cystic acne and more white pustules than I had ever experienced. I feel like I have done just about everything to get it under control over the years; cut out dairy, take antibiotics, apply numerous prescription/non-prescription creams, gels, spot treatments, and masks. During this time of terrible breakouts I was reminded of a fellow RD who spoke about her experience with developing acne as an adult. Ultimately she found out she had a sensitivity to almonds, and when she removed almonds from her diet her skin cleared up. It made me wonder if there was a something in my diet that could be contributing to my skin issues.

I found a functional medicine practitioner and was tested for food sensitivities; IgG and IgA antibodies. My blood was tested against over 100 foods. Once I got the results I was very surprised to learn that many of the foods I ate on a regular basis I was sensitive to; dairy, eggs, blueberries, and soy to name a few. I was overwhelmed with this information and sad I could no longer drink blueberry, banana, kale smoothies. After the initial shock wore off I slowly removed the foods I have a sensitivity to from my diet. Soon after doing this I noticed I was less bloated and gassy than ever before. I also realized what foods made me feel that way to begin with, dairy I’m looking at you! I did see a modest improvement in my skin and as it turned out my skin issues ran deeper than food sensitivities alone. When I did the food sensitivity testing I also checked my hormone levels, which told a different story and was more closely tied to my skin issues. A whole other topic for another day.

If you experience any of the above food sensitivity symptoms it may be worth for you find a professional and get tested. What I enjoyed most about this experience was learning something new about my body and seeing how it responded to the changes I made.

*Removing certain foods/food groups from your diet can cause nutrient deficiencies. It is important to speak with a health professional; MD, NP, RD when removing a food/food groups from your diet to formulate a plan to ensure you are getting the necessary nutrients you body needs to function at its best.

FNCE Swag- My Favorite Items

I have been in Chicago this past week attending the Food & Nutrition Conference & Expo (FNCE). It is the annual conference for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, the largest organization of food and nutrition professionals. This year was my first time attending FNCE. Overall it was a great experience. I learned some new things that I am excited to put in to practice and tried a bunch of new products. Below is a review of my favorite items I received from the expo.

1. U of A Nutritional Sciences tote bag

The University of Arizona had a booth at FNCE  promoting their Nutritional Science program; the program I received my Bachelors of Science in. #Beardown.

2. Hemp Hearts

Hemp seeds are a favorite of mine to top yogurt, salads, and ice cream with. They are a great plant based source of omega-3s and protein, they’re also a good source of fiber.

3. Scharffen Berger Dark Chocolates

Good quality dark chocolate, enough said.

4. Sun-Maid Sour Watermelon Raisins

My favorite candy is sour patch kids, but I rarely eat them because they are so sugary. These raisins satisfy my taste buds because they are sour and sweet and the best part is they contain no added sugar! Watermelon is a new flavor coming out soon, they are currently available in Sour Lemon and Sour Strawberry.

5.  Rhythm Beet Chips and Kale Seeds

I love snacks like these beet chips, because the only ingredient is beets! They are baked, not fried and incredibly tasty. I also like they they gave out seeds to grow your own kale.

6. Sunsweet Prunes

Prunes made it to my favorites list after going to an educational session on prunes ability to inhibit bone resorption! Bone resorption is when bone is broken down and the minerals are released int o the blood stream, which can lead to osteoporosis. Research suggests eating 100 grams (about 12 prunes) per day for 6 months to 1 year can increase bone density in men and women. Prunes can also preserve bond density, subjects were tested 5 years after the intervention of 100gm prunes/d; subjects did not continue to eat prunes in the 5 year period.

7. Crazy Richard’s Powdered Peanut Butter and Nut Butter Mixing Spatula

 I am definitely a fan of powdered peanut butter, except most brands add sugar, but not Crazy Richard’s! They’re 100% Peanut Powder only has 1 ingredient, peanuts. The PB plus has added B vitamins and antioxidants designed for physically active individuals. They were also giving out a handy spatula to stir nut butter. It works so much better than a knife when mixing a newly opened jar of nut butter!

8. Nuts-Almonds, Walnuts, Pistachios

Nuts are one of my go to snacks because they contain fat, protein, and fiber. 3 things guaranteed to get you to your next meal without feeling famished.

9. That’s it bars

These bars are another great on the go snack with a small ingredient list and a good source of fiber!

10.  GoMacro bar

I have seen these bars at Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, and Sprouts, but never tried them before. As far as bars go their nutritional stats are not bad, they taste pretty good, and have a chewy/crispy texture. They are also coming out with some new fruit and nut bars.

11. Vital Protein Collagen Peptides and Bone Broth Collagen

 I love, love, love collagen! I’ve been taking the collagen peptides for a few months now and I’m hooked. I have noticed that my hair grows faster and it helped me heal from a ligament strain. I’ve been told that my skin looks firmer too! I bought a container of the bone broth collagen and look forward to incorporating it in to my diet. These stick packs are great for traveling.



Yoga is one of my favorite forms of exercise. It has many benefits and is a great compliment to strength and cardiovascular training. There are also many types of yoga, providing something for everyone.

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I have been practicing yoga for the past 8 years with power yoga being my method of choice. I love it because it engages your mind, body, and spirit and never fails to make me feel great or put me in a better mood. When practicing it is one of the only times I am able to fully clear my mind and let go of every thought.

Benefits of Yoga

  • Increased flexibility
  • Increased strength
  • Improved posture
  • Improved lung capacity
  • Stress reduction

Types of Yoga-these are just a few, there are many more

  • Hatha- The foundation of all yoga styles. It incorporates postures, breathing, and meditation.
  • Bikram- Practiced in a heated room, which promotes flexibility, detoxification, and the prevention of injuries.
  • Kundalini- Thought to be the yoga of awareness it focuses on the breath and movement to awaken the energy at the base of the spine to travel up through the 7 chakras.
  • Power- A faster paced practice where one pose flows in to the next, creating an aerobic workout.
  • Restorative- A method to passively let muscles relax buy using/lying on blocks, blankets, and bolsters

As with all activities there is the risk of injury when practicing yoga. It is important to listen to your body and know your own limitations to prevent injury when doing physical activity. In yoga there is the potential to over stretch or strain muscles.  Also if you have a preexisting condition such as severe osteoporosis or are pregnant consulting your doctor before beginning a yoga practice is advised.

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Downhill Running Technique

If you are like me, you love to run, despite the wear and tear it can put on your body. In this post I am going to highlight downhill running technique. Utilizing the proper technique can minimize the impact on joints and help prevent injury.

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When running downhill

  • Lean slightly forward keeping your body perpendicular to the ground.
  • Land on the balls of your feet with your knees bent. This will reduce impact on the knees.
  • Take quick steps minimizing contact with the ground.
  • Shorten your stride. This will help you to stay in control.
  • Engage your core to help with stability.

A Healthy Diet While On Vacation

Today I have a guest author for this post. Cole Mill wrote a great guide for maintaining your healthy lifestyle while on vacation. What follows are tips for keeping your diet on  track, while still enjoying your trip.

Whether it is the call of the glorious sunshine on a distant beach, or the allure of endless shopping adventures in an exotic city, vacations recharge the soul. Yet holidays do come with some side effects. Besides the dreaded workout the credit card can endure, eating healthy is not always easy when traveling with your family. You work all year so that you will look stunning in your swimwear; the last thing you want is to unravel all your hard work. Here are some tips to help avoid packing on the pounds during your next vacation.

Healthy Eating


If you are flying across the globe it is wise to check out the menus offered by the airline. Most companies offer this information online and they allow you to make dietary requests. However, short flights may not offer this service, so have a nutritious meal before the flight to avoid making poor choices. Another tip is to travel with protein bars/drinks, almonds, fresh fruit or other healthy snacks.  During layovers, walk the restaurant areas at the terminal and find good, healthy options such as salads and baked chicken or even fruit cups. Taking the time to walk around will not only help find better choices, but it is a good way to get the blood circulating in your legs.

At the Hotel                                                                        

When you arrive at your hotel, limit your exposure to temptations. Refusing the key to the mini-bar is one way you can prevent sudden urges for sweet or salty snacks. Your credit card will thank you too. Take a few moments to find a nearby health store or market. Stocking up on a variety of healthy snacks will make it easier for you to stay on track. Walking to the store is a good way to combat jet lag too. Instant soups or oatmeal are very easy to prepare with hot water from a coffee maker. If you feel the need to order room service, most hotels will be happy to accommodate your healthy choices, so be very specific about your order.

Continental Breakfast

Continental Breakfasts can be great for healthy eating or terrible depending how you approach them. Stay away from the high sugar items like cereals and muffins. Eat as much fruit as you want. Choose low-fat yogurt, oatmeal and even hard-boiled eggs. And when possible, try to choose whole grain varieties of breads and bagels. These options are full of dietary fiber, protein and complex carbohydrates that will keep you full and feeling great.

Finding Healthy Restaurants

Most restaurants have their menus online, so make the effort to explore what they offer. Plan your meal before you go so that you can avoid temptation.  Decide on your meal before you sit down and decline the menu when offered.  In addition, share meals, order off the lunch menus and don’t feel like you have to finish a meal just because that is what is served.  It’s often tempting because taking leftovers is not always an option.  Leave the extra food on your plate so that it is not ultimately on your waist. I have found reading reviews from other travelers to be extremely helpful in that they provide unbiased and honest opinions. I recently scoured the Internet and found a great site called Gogobot that helped me find a health conscious hotel as well as restaurants in Sin City. I pulled up a list of reviews for Las Vegas hotels regarding their services as well as the restaurants in the area. A tool like this allows you to maintain your healthy lifestyle by avoiding the ever so tempting buffets. Avoiding the  “all-you-can-eat” establishments is crucial. Fish restaurants and salad bars offer a range of healthy options. A small snack such as an apple, before going out to eat will help you to push away the breadbasket.

Reading Menus

Learning how to decipher the riddle of menu-speak will have you avoiding diet trap. Look for high-fiber, multigrain, and whole wheat breads to determine the healthy options at restaurants. Choose lean cuts of meat that are baked, boiled, grilled or roasted. Look for fresh salads that come with vinaigrette dressings. Vegetables should be steamed or stir-fired.  Light or reduced sauces are a better option for sauces or gravies.  By all means avoid battered or deep-fried foods. Do not opt for creamy or enriched sauces and be careful with cheeses and stuffed items.

It is easy to become swept up in the excitement of the vacation. But by taking care of your body, you will not only look good, you will continue to feel great. Downloading a calorie tracker for your phone can help you keep a watchful eye on your diet. Drink plenty of water, watch your alcohol consumption and eat good nutritious meals. Your post-vacation body will be thankful for all your efforts.

Enjoy your vacation!  Stay active and make the vacation about the company, sites and activities, instead of the food.

Visit Cole’s blog for more information on staying healthy!

Dijon Salmon Wrap

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Dijon Salmon

4 3-4oz Salmon Fillets, skin on

4 Tbs Dijon Mustard

Salt and Pepper

Panko Bread Crumbs


Preheat oven to 400°F

Place salmon, skin side down , on baking sheet

Top each piece of salmon with 1 tablespoon of Dijon mustard, spread mustard to cover filet

Season with salt and pepper

Top each filet with panko bead crumbs and bake for 15 minutes, or until salmon easily flakes.

Dijon Salmon Wrap

1 Ezekiel Whole Grain Tortilla

1 Tbs Dijon mustard

6 Leaves-Swiss Chard (or any leafy greens)

1 Medium Tomato, sliced

1 4 oz Salmon Filet, cut in half


Layer all ingredients on tortilla, wrap, and enjoy!

Snack Time

Snack time is as important as breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Snacks are something to keep you satisfied until your next meal. The composition of your snack is important because you want to avoid low blood sugar and feeling hungry. For example eating an apple and 1 oz of almonds is a good snack. It has carbohydrates to maintain blood sugar levels plus fat, protein, and fiber for satiation.

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Another great option for a snack is fruit/vegetable juice and chia seeds. The juice provides the carbohydrate and the chia seeds provide healthy fats, protein and fiber. You can also add avocado to vegetable juice, in stead of chia seeds for fat and fiber. Or to make this snack more hearty/satisfying try adding protein powder. Because it is a snack I would only add 10-15 gms of protein.

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One of my favorite snacks when I’m craving something sweet is non-fat cottage cheese sprinkled with pistachios and drizzled with honey. Again there is the combination of carbohydrate, fat, and protein. This snack will satisfy your sweet tooth so you don’t reach for the cookies.

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Give Back

Living a healthy lifestyle is not only about proper nutrition and fitness, it also involves giving back and helping others. To me a healthy lifestyle is cohesion between the mind, body, and soul connection.

One of the ways I like to give back is by donating blood. Donating blood is one of the easiest ways to help someone else. The only thing it requires is about an hour of your time, which can help save someone’s life. Knowing this is the greatest personal benefit.

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I am so grateful for my body, everything that I am able/capable of doing, and that I am healthy. Yesterday I reached the 1/2 gallon donor mark and I’m not stopping there!

What do you do to help/give back to others?

Post Workout

I previously posted about post workout recovery. The following recipe is for my current favorite shake to have after a hard workout. I do not always have a shake after working out, eating real food and getting nutrients from the source is the best option. Also not all post recovery shakes need to be this hearty, because it is functioning as a meal and is consumed after a hard/strenuous workout it has higher calories, fat and protein content.



14oz Chocolate Coconut Water

1 scoop Egg White Protein-I used Jay Robb Vanilla

1/4 cup Uncooked Oats

1 medium Banana

1 Tbs Very green-Trader Joe’s

1 Tbs Chia Seeds

1 Tbs Peanut Butter

Blend all ingredients and enjoy!

Calories 615

Total Fat 10gm

Cholesterol 0gm

Sodium 598mg

Potassium 1607mg

Carbohydrate 78gm

Fiber 11gm

Protein 35gm



Change is hard, especially when you have decided to change the way you eat. Eating healthy seems daunting and many people are not sure how to go about it. I recommend starting with small changes and gradually increasing or adding more changes to your life. What and how much you change depends on your goals.

This post is for individuals who want to change their eating habits, but don’t have the time to cook healthy meals. The solution to this is being prepared. When you have healthy food readily available it makes eating healthy easier. Being prepared sets you up for success.

Meal preparation can be done any day of the week that best fits your schedule.

I like to bake chicken, sweet potatoes, cook oatmeal, rice, lentils, and quinoa in advance so when lunch and dinner come up all I have to do is add vegetables.

When cooking grains I like to make a lot and freeze half of what I make for another time.



Pictured above is baked chili chicken tenders and baked sweet potatoes.

1. Set oven to 400°F

2. Wash, dry, pierce sweet potatoes with a fork, and wrap individually in foil.

3. Place wrapped sweet potatoes on a baking sheet and place in the oven. For large/medium sized potatoes bake for 40-45 minutes.

4. Line a second baking sheet with foil and place raw chicken tenders on baking sheet.

5. Drizzle chicken tenders with olive oil and season to your liking. (This week I used cayenne pepper, ancho chili powder, and smoked paprika)

6. Use your hands to coat chicken tenders with oil and seasoning, evenly space tenders on baking sheet and place in the oven.

7. Cook chicken tenders 7-8 minutes.

Now I have protein and complex carbohydrates for multiple meals in the future and accomplished this in less than an hour.

You can also be cooking your grains on the stove at the same time your chicken and sweet potatoes are in the oven. Streamline the process to what works best for you.