Chinese lunar New Year–A Second Chance to get your New Year’s


year of the snake


 It’s about a month into the New Year. Do you already wish you had a do-over for your New Year’s Resolutions?

If so, you’re in luck. You do.

February 10th is the Chinese lunar New Year. The celebration of the New Year, the Spring Festival, is China’s longest and most important holiday. Because it is based on a different calendar, it falls on a different date between January 21 and February 20 every year.


You can think of Spring Festival as Christmas and New Year all rolled into one. Just like our holiday season, it’s a time of celebration, visiting family and friends, giving gifts and preparing for the next year.


Chinese Lunar New Year: Spring Festival

In China, there are many New Year’s traditions during the 15-day Spring Festival. Many people clean their homes to sweep away the past year and usher in the next. Oftentimes family members travel home for a visit.


Children receive red envelopes, called hóngbo in Mandarin, filled with money from their relatives. 


People hang red lanterns outside their homes to bring happiness and good luck. On Chinese New Year’s Eve families gather for a huge meal and enjoy “lucky” foods together. And, of course, there are fireworks.

The Chinese zodiac has 12 years in its 
cycle, each one represented by an animal; 2013 is the Year of the Snake. Astrologers say that people born in the Year of the Snake are wise but enigmatic. They are very intuitive and size up situations well, but say little. 


Snakes are refined; they like to dress well and are usually financially secure. They are intense and passionate in relationships, but can become jealous and suspicious. Snakes prefer a calm, stress-free environment.


Recommit to Your New Year’s Resolutions

The Chinese do not traditionally make New Year’s Resolutions like we do in the west, however this is a good time to reflect on the goals you set a month ago. Are you keeping your New Year’s resolutions?

If you’re having trouble, maybe it’s time to take a lesson from the Snakes. Take a quiet moment and reflect on what is stopping you. Do you need to get serious? Do you need additional support? Are your goals genuine –do you want to do them or do you think you should do them? Why hav
en’t you kept your New Year’s Resolutions?

If your resolutions include improving your health in 2013, I can help you with that. Give me a call and we can arrange an appointment for anything from a tune-up to weight control to mood balancing.

If you need to make a deeper commitment to your resolutions, take a moment and think about what you need to do to keep them. Write down 3 easy action steps.


…and do them. Now.

Use the Chinese lunar New Year as a do-over. Commit to your New Year’s resolutions.

Gong Xi Fa Cái. Happy New Year. 


Which diet is right for you?


fruit ring

Frequently I am asked what diet do I recommend. With all the million of diets out there no wonder there is so much confusion. Carbs, no carbs, gluten free, diary free, weighing, measuring or counting calories. It’s mind blogging! 
Here are some simple steps to find out what diet works best for you;

1. Can you you sustain this diet as a lifestyle?  Any change in your diet should be for the long haul not just a week or two to fit in a new pair of jeans.

2. Do you want to count points or calories for the rest of your life? Many people want the structure telling them what to do every step of the way and that’s fine but many don’t.
3. Look at the food you will be eating. Can afford it, do you like it enough to eat it forever?  If you are eating gluten free just to loose weight but know you can’t give up bread, you may need to move to another diet.
4. Can you be on the diet while traveling or going out to dinner with friends? Again, this is a lifestyle change and traveling and eating out are part of life.
5. How many fresh fruits and vegetables, good fats, are in this diet? Getting away from the foods that caused you to become overweight and unhealthy in the first place need to avoided completely.  Even though there is a Fast Food Diet out there, we will not even consider that here. Understanding what” healthy food” means is vital in maintaining a healthy lifestyle. 400 calories of Doritos is much different than 400 calories of fresh fruits and vegetables and understanding why is half the battle.

6. Is this diet something the whole family can participate in? If you are meal planning and cooking for anyone besides yourself, this will be an issue and probably more expensive. And to be honest do your children need the extra cookie, crackers and junk food in the house?

The key to any weight loss is again looking at it as a long term lifestyle change and not as a short term quick fix. Learning to pick healthy foods, drinking at least 64 oz of water daily, moving more is the foundation for any diet. Good luck and let either Sarah or myself know of we can help you in anyway.

Be Well,


Living Gluten Free

During nutrition consultation I conduct, I often hear that people follow a reasonable diet and exercise plan but they still can not manage to loose weight. The usual suspect… gluten.

The damage gluten can do to those with an intolerance (celiacs) or even those with a sensitivity is vast. It’s known to cause hormonal imbalances, damage the gut and lead to wright gain through inflammation. Here are seven ways eating gluten can make you fat:

1. Leaky gut is basically when little openings (Intestinal permeability) occur along the intestinal wall and bacteria is allowed to pass through creating an immune response. Symptoms include fatigue, bloating, and these contribute to weight gain. Intestinal permeability is also increased in skin conditions such as psoriasis and atopic eczema.

2. Inflammation. Consuming gluten can trigger the inflammatory response in any tissue. As you may already know, chronic inflammation is not your friend. Besides contributing to nearly every chronic inflammation is known to contribute to every disease you can imagine. A few examples are, diabetes cancer, IBS and heart disease.This inflammation response can create a number of other problems that stall fat loss. Fatigue, high cortisol levels and poor metabolism just to list a few.

3. Insulin resistance. Yes, we have discussed this before. Many processed gluten-containing foods have a high glycemic load which will elevate blood sugar levels which inhibits your bodies capability of maintain insulin homeostasis, i.e. regulate blood sugar.

4. Leptin resistance. Leptin is a hormone that alerts the brain when you’re full. This means you’re less likely to reach for That second serving. But when you become leptin resistant, your brain doesn’t “hear” leptin’s message to put the brakes on the buffet, putting you at risk for overeating and weight gain. Those sassy sugar-binding proteins that cause insulin resistance, may also create leptin resistance.

5. Cravings. Ever find yourself uncontrollably eating a box of crackers or reaching for a third slice of buttered toast? Yes you say… well ironically, the foods you’re most reactive to are the ones you crave the most. How can this be? The body reacts to these intolerant foods by creating an addictive narcotic called opioid endorphins. Like a drug, it gives a feeling of euphoria when you eat these foods, and in turn you crave them. Then, you guessed it, you gain more weight!

6. Blocks nutrient absorption. Gluten in known to inhibit nutrient absorption. Gluten-triggered permeability inhibits your gut from absorbing nutrients and making vitamin B-12. In addition, the indigestible components in gluten and other whole grains are considered an anti-nutrient because they bind to nutrients and reduce their bioavailability.

7. Effects thyroid function. You can increase your chances for autoimmune disease when you constantly eat gluten. Why? Many people who have been unsuccessful at losing weight due often has issues due to thyroid disease. People with the most common type of thyroid disease have 12 times the rate of gluten intolerance as the general population does. Consequently, those struggling with their weight should consider a gluten free diet along with assessment of thyroid status.”

So now what? Are you ready to take the next step and see if a gluten free diet is the right choice for you? The only true way to test sensitivity is an elimination diet. Basically, you remove gluten in all forms, from your diet for at least 6 weeks. After this time, you may reintroduce gluten products and see how your body “reacts”. Personally, I’ve noticed a huge change in energy levels and digestive issues. When I eat gluten laced products I feel instantly ill. Headache, sinus congestion and digestion pain.

Here are a few links to get you started on your gluten free challenge.

Meal planning:
Eating Well Gluten Free Meal Plan


Vegan GF meal plan at Feed Me, I’m cranky

Gluten Free Goddess has amazing recipes

Great info on all things gluten free at

As with any diet, stick with whole foods, veggies, fruits and lean proteins. Use caution with grains as they may contain gluten. Aside from the obvious forbidden gluten foods, breads, cakes, cookies etc, I recommend avoiding all processed GF foods, GF mixes and fast food. Many processed GF products contain high glycemic starches which equal empty calories. Think “whole food”

Set your goals and record your progress!

In good health,
~ Sarah


The basics on Gluten


ImageGluten Free is the new trendy catch phrase you see everywhere. Unfortunately manufactures are putting “Gluten Free” on everything including a can of tomatoes of all places! With so much misinformation out there, I will attempt to explain the basics of why gluten is harmful.

What is Gluten?

Gluten (from the Latin gluten, “glue”) is a protein composite found in foods processed from wheat and related grain species, including rye, spelt and barley. Gluten gives elasticity to dough, helping it raise and keeps it shape and often gives the final chewy texture

Gluten is often present is beer and soy sauce and can be used as a stabilizing agent is more unexpected food products such as ice cream and ketchup.

Why is it so harmful?

A review paper in the The England Journal of Medicine listed 55 “diseases” that can be caused by eating gluten. These include:


Osteoporosis                                       Irritable Bowel disease

Inflammatory Bowel disease                Anemia

Cancer                                                 Fatigue

Canker Sores                                      Rheumatoid Arthritis

Lupus                                                  Multiple Sclerosis

Many other autoimmune disease


Gluten can also be linked to many psychiatric and neurological diseases including anxiety, depression, schizophrenia, dementia, migraines, epilepsy and neuropathy (nerve damage).

Gluten sensitivity is actually an autoimmune disease that creates inflammation throughout the body, with wide-ranging effects across all organ systems including your brain, heart, joints, digestive tracts and more.

Of course, that does not mean that ALL cases of depression or autoimmune disease or any of these other chronic issues are caused by gluten in everyone—however it is important to look for it if you have any chronic illness.                  

Gluten sensitivity is actually an autoimmune disease that creates inflammation throughout the body, with wide-ranging effects across all organ systems including your brain, heart, joints, digestive tracts and more.

By failing to identify gluten sensitivity and celiac disease, we create needless suffering for millions of Americans. Health problems caused by gluten sensitivity cannot be treated with medication. They can only be resolved by eliminating 100% of the gluten from your diet.

So now you see, that piece of bread may not be so wholesome after all! Consider giving up gluten to find out if gluten may be the hidden cause of your health problem.

Be well,




Food Fraud

Eating a healthy, whole food diet is challenging in this country. Ironically, as one of the wealthiest nations in the world, we have some of the WORST food available. We know our food over processed, GMO laden, contaminated with a plethora of chemicals and additives. Enter a new breed of evil, unscrupulous companies illegally cutting a primary ingredient with something less expensive in order to reduce costs. Some companies are even trying to scam you by selling you something that is not even the food listed!

New scientific examination by the non-profit food fraud detectives the U.S. Pharmacopeial Convention (USP), discovered rising numbers of fake ingredients in products from olive oil to spices to fruit juice.

In a new database to be released Wednesday, and obtained exclusively by ABC News today, USP warns consumers, the FDA and manufacturers that the amount of food fraud they found is up by 60 percent this year.

So what is food fraud? Well, it’s exactly what the name implies. It’s companies labeling food one way, but the contents are completely different.

7 Most Fraudulent Foods

Olive Oil
Researchers found that olive oil, even the extra-virgin kind, is the most adulterated food. It is usually cut by hazelnut oil. (Sound good to any nut-allergy sufferers out there?) Other imposter oils include corn oil, sunflower oil, peanut oil, vegetable oil, soybean oil, palm oil, and walnut oil.

Buy organic

If you think that milk in your coffee comes from a cow, you might be mistaken. Sheep’s milk has been found to be cut with bovine milk, and buffalo milk with goat-antelope milk. Milk was even cut with something called “fake milk”: oil, urea, detergent, caustic soda, sugar, salt, and skim milk powder.

Buy local. Buy organic.

Honey has been a sweetener of choice for millennia. It’s packed with healing antioxidants that has many benefits. But it’s also one of the most common fraudsters. It’s not uncommon to find sugar syrup, corn syrup, fructose, glucose, high-fructose corn syrup, beet sugar, and “honey from a non-authentic geographic origin” in that bottle—rendering it what we’ll call not-honey. Some honey is also likely laced with illegal Chinese antibiotics and heavy metals, according to Food Safety News. Not only do you have to worry about what someone added to your honey but how the honey was made. Most honey companies routinely feed their hives HFCS!!! Crazy…I highly recommend this documentary, Vanishing of the Bees.
Find a local beekeeper and choose raw honey.

Saffron is the world’s most expensive spice, so it’s not surprising that it’s on this list. What is a surprise is the stuff its mixed with it. Scientists have found glycerin, sandalwood dust, tartrazine (a yellow dye linked to hyperactivity in children and lupus); barium sulfate (a fluid mainly used in oil well drilling); and borax.

Buy organic from a well known, responsible company.

Orange Juice
Orange juice tested has shown to contain illegal fungicide along with unlisted lemon juice, mandarin juice, grapefruit juice, high fructose corn syrup, paprika extract, and beet sugar. Yum.

Juice your own! More vitamins and enzymes in fresh juice.

Researchers have found roasted corn, ground roasted barley, and even roasted ground parchment. Adulterants in instant coffee include; chicory, cereals, caramel, more parchment, starch, malt, and figs.

Buy from a local cafe that roasts their own beans.

Apple Juice
Apple juice is often blended with grape juice, high fructose corn syrup, pear juice, pineapple juice, raisin sweetener, fig juice, fructose, and malic acid have all been detected in apple juice.

If you MUST have apple juice, get a juicer.

Case in point. A few weeks ago I was listening to This American Life on NPR. The theme, doppelgängers. A reporter from the radio show heard a story he couldn’t believe was true — that hog rectum was sometimes used as imitation calamari and served to unsuspecting diners. So he looked into it himself.

Despite a source in the story reporting first-hand knowledge of the alleged switch , there’s some debate over whether hog parts could pass as squid. So staff from the show went to the market, fried some up and served it. Most of the people who tried it couldn’t tell the difference between the hog parts and squid.

I’ve since read that this was a hoax and that the imitation calamari was just an urban legend. Personally, I’m not buying it not do I trust industrial meat processing plants.

Tuesday, the United States Pharmacopeial Convention released report that listed a number of fraudulent foods. Seafood was one of the biggest offenders.

Something Fishy is Going On…
The fish escolar, often fraudulently mislabeled as white tuna or butterfish (*Escolar is banned in Italy and Japan. Other countries have issued advisories on the trade and consumption of this fish. Escolar has high content of waxy esters that is likely to cause a special form of food poisoning called gempylotoxism or gempylid fish poisoning.) it appears that fish mislabeling has taken over NYC restaurants.


Oceana, an ocean conservation group, found mislabeled fish in all 16 sushi restaurants its researchers visited. Yet fish fraud was rampant at all sorts of New York venues. Thirty-nine percent of the samples taken from non-sushi restaurants were mislabeled, in addition to 40 percent of those bought at small fish markets and 12 percent of those purchased at major grocery chains.

What are we to do???
Five hundred prominent chefs and restaurateurs recently sent Congress a petition on the issue. Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) wrote a letter asking for action on the issue from the FDA, and this past summer Reps. Edward Markey (D-Mass.), Barney Frank (D-Mass.) and Walter Jones (R-N.C.) introduced the proposed Safety And Fraud Enforcement for Seafood (SAFE Seafood) Act, which Oceana argues would cut down significantly on mislabeled fish. Sadly, when I checked it appeared the bill was dead and referred to committee.

Knowledge is power and your dollar is your vote. Choosing to use local and organic products will only increase demand and grow the industry. Always ask questions when ordering at restaurants and buying groceries.

Just when you thought it was safe to go grocery shopping…DAH DA DAAAAAH!

In good health
~ Sarah