How to change to healthy eating

???????????????????????????????If you made (and broke), a resolution to lose weight this year (and every other year for the past ten) it is time to look at what needs to change in order to break the cycle.

Have you ever learned to play an instrument or a sport?

Did you expect to perfect your sport or instrument in the first week or month?

Of course not.

Did you berate yourself when you didn’t understand how to play a specific piece or didn’t learn a skill in the first few coaching sessions?

No, you needed time to learn how to play. You had to practice, put in the time. You had to learn from your mistakes.

Did you require the help of a coach or a teacher?

Very likely. Why do you think that is?

A coach or teacher is an expert in her field. She knows what mistakes are common, and how to motivate us to continue to learn. We need coaching to teach us the things we find difficult.

When we learned to play an instrument or sport we devoted time to practice. We learned from trial and error. We asked our coach or teacher many questions along the way.

Did we quit after the first week because we couldn’t play like Mozart? Did we quit after a month of playing our sport because we couldn’t bend it like Beckham?

No, that’s silly. It takes time to learn.

Learning how to eat in a healthy way is no different from learning how to play an instrument or a sport. Unfortunately, we feel we should already know how to eat. It should be natural. There is so much information out there. We should be able to learn it all from the internet.

Do you think you could learn to play volleyball by watching Youtube videos? No, we all need some guidance.

Healthy eating takes devoted kitchen time. It takes skills to deal with emotional eating and all sorts of other obstacles. Guidance for healthy eating means getting correct nutrition information from a professional who understands the concept. It means having someone to check in with so that you can learn from your mistakes and not feel like a failure. If you are ready to take the journey to healthy eating, please contact me using the form below or email



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10 Ways to Reduce Stress and Restart the Healing Process

christmas blog pictureThere are many books that connect physical health to emotional and spiritual health. See Louise Hay’s, You Can Heal Your Life, Dr. Gabor Mate’s, When the Body Says No, and Dr. Lissa Rankin’s, Mind over Medicine: Scientific Proof that You Can Heal Yourself. All these books identify one of the leading causes of illness as the stress response.

It is commonly accepted that stress is connected to heart disease, depression, anxiety, and autoimmune disease. When I asked my new rheumatologist, why now, why me, what makes me different from other people who have the gene but don’t develop AS, she said doctors think it’s related to relentless stress.

In a talk about the placebo effect, Lissa Rankin states that on average, we have fifty stress responses per day, (I can attest to that!) and that people who hate their jobs or who are in toxic relationships have more like one hundred. Every time we have a stress response, our bodies’ natural self-healing abilities don’t work.

So, if life is stressful what is it that I can do to reduce my stress reaction and restart my healing processes? What do I have control over? How can I reduce stress in the face of a scary diagnosis or a worrying situation?

One thing I have control over is how I think about what happen in my life. I’m not going to pretend I don’t feel what I feel but I can confront the thoughts, which tell me I’m not worthy, I don’t deserve to be happy, I was born to be sick, and the good old standard, I’m a fraud. Where do I start?

Here are my top 10 daily stress reducers:

1) Walk outside and enjoy Nature’s wonder and abundance, even in the city!
2) Meditate, laugh and seek joy.
3) Do everything that elicits a “Hell, yes!” and do nothing that isn’t a “Hell, yes!”
4) Listen to uplifting affirming music and inspirational talks. Watch movies and shows that make you smile and laugh.
5) Surround yourself with friends especially when you get the lonelies. Reach out.
6) Tell a new story of how wonderful life is and appreciate everything in your now.
7) Counter negative thoughts with more self-soothing, nurturing thoughts.
8) Don’t pay attention to what anyone else thinks about your life. You are responsible for only your happiness.
9) When angry don’t add to it by dredging up the past. Pivot as soon as you can and choose the next forgiving thought.
10) Give up trying to control what anyone else says, does, or thinks. Changing how you think and feel is the only thing in your control.

In short, I am learning to love and accept myself and that is reducing my stress. As my stress declines, so do the symptoms of the autoimmune disease I have been diagnosed with. I have nothing to lose by reducing stress and absolutely everything to gain. How about you? How do you deal (or not deal) with the stress in your life?

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Hope and Healing

clouds_of_love- number 2Last winter I was diagnosed with a chronic inflammatory disease called Ankolosing Spondylosis (AS). It was a harrowing experience for me, going through all the tests, pokes, and prods to find out what was wrong. I was prescribed one of the strongest immune suppressants to control and hopefully stop the progression of the condition. After months of disturbing reactions and a traumatic parting of the ways with my rheumatologist (who suggested the side effects were in my head), my only choice was to listen to a wisdom deep inside. I don’t know about you but I’ve been living in my body for my entire life and I know when it’s telling me something is wrong.

Eventually, I was able to convey my perceptions to a different rheumatologist; this one listened to me and sent me to a neurologist who agreed that the medication was damaging the nerves in my hands and feet. What is strange is my inner being knew it all along. I can’t tell you how important hope becomes when your favourite doctor says there is nothing more she can do, either take the immune suppressants or suffer with AS for the rest of your life. I had to ask myself a hard question. What is the best thing for Kelly?

Consulting Dr. Google might be the worst thing you can do when faced with a debilitating illness. The risk of seeking advice from the internet is that people tend to post the worst-case scenarios and there is a great deal of fear mongering regarding medications and treatments. Also, there are many “snake oil” sellers promising to cure what ails you. Still, I wanted information, and mostly I needed hope.

I searched for and found a group of people with AS who are having success treating themselves with holistic medicine and nutrition on a website called I was interested to find many stories about a carbohydrate specific diet that not only put the writers’ AS into remission it consequently gave them their lives back. The diet is not a cure, rather it is a specific way of eating that decreases inflammation and in my case stops my immune system from attacking my healthy cells. This website provided me with my first glimmer of hope.

By adhering to the diet for these last many months I am learning what triggers flare-ups of the AS symptoms, stress being number one. But I am now able to hope for a long and active life. A year after the initial diagnosis I realize that the most important aspect of my healing has been listening to my inner being, opening my mind to the part I play in my overall healing and health.

What is your inner being telling you?

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Craving Change™ The Non-diet approach to weight loss

Woman with grapefruit photoAs you may know, I’ve been using a non-diet approach in my practice for some time. At first, I was apprehensive, because basically, I grew up on a diet. I was placed on my first 1000 kcal diet at 9 years of age when a family doctor said, “Oh Kelly, you just enjoy the good things too much. Here is a diet plan for you to follow for the next 3 weeks.” Care to guess how long this diet lasted? I vaguely remember adhering to it for half a day.

The worst part was I beat myself up for not being able to stick to the diet. And from then on, I was either on or off a diet, and always thinking about food, or ways to undo the ‘damage’ of overeating. I’m certain some of you relate.  If you are a chronic dieter, you may find some of the following statements true:

  • When you think of weight loss, you feel hopeless.
  • You feel compelled to eat even when you’re not hungry.
  • You’ve tried every diet on the planet and nothing works.
  • You feel guilty for eating ‘bad’ foods.

So, what is a non-diet approach to weight loss? And how does it work? Isn’t it just another trick to get us on yet another diet?

Firstly, let me tell you what the non-diet approach is not.

It is not calorie counting, weighing and measuring your food, or setting unrealistic goals. Nor is it a temporary solution. It does not focus on how you eat but why you eat the way you do, and exactly what you can do about it.

For the last four weeks, I’ve been teaching a non-diet program called, Craving Change. It’s been wonderful to see my clients change their attitude toward food. The first part of the program focuses on why it’s so difficult to change ourselves in the North American obesogenic environment. This may not seem important but when you look at how food is marketed, and the factors that influence what people eat, you are actually given an incredible tool. Knowledge, in this case, is the tool. Knowing you can significantly change factors in your environment, changes the way you interact with food. 

The beginning of the program also discusses internal factors such as uncomfortable thought patterns, the inability to set boundaries, and situational factors that trigger uncomfortable eating. The next sessions of Craving Change™ are the most transformative. We discuss over fourteen strategies both during class sessions, and as homework.  I teach a variety of techniques to help participants change problematic eating patterns.

As I said, I was apprehensive about this approach until I saw the incredible transformation in the behaviour and well-being of my clients. I love seeing participants light up in class while sharing their experience with new strategies. It all takes time and persistence but I’ve seen clients make major changes within a three week program.

I ask clients how much time they think they’ve spent counting calories, trying new diets, beating themselves up, hating their bodies, and waging war with food?  They usually reply with eye-rolls and words like: eternity, forever, my entire life. The strategies I teach in our sessions do not take an eternity to learn but they do take practice.

Please complete this form for more information. 

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Sweet Pea Soap Company Cares about Your Hormone Health

Hormone-Havoc-Free-Workshop-300x300Recently I met with Denise Grosdanof from the Sweet Pea Soap Company. She is a small business owner who takes pride in providing healthy natural soap and body products to her community. As a dietitian who specializes in hormone health, I was very interested in The Sweet Pea Soap Company.  Most of the women I see are trying to navigate through some sort of hormone imbalance, which is manifesting itself through symptoms like weight gain, insomnia, hot flushes, fatigue, etc.  An imbalance of estrogen to progesterone in women causes a host of symptoms that even some of our Medical Doctors do not understand (see my blog post). There are many reasons why these hormonal imbalances occur in mid-life but one of the main culprits in North America is the bombardment of estrogen-like chemicals called XenoEstrogens.

XenoEstrogens are chemicals that mimic the effect of estrogen. One of my instructions to new clients is to remove chemical estrogens from their homes and bodies. XenoEstrogens are dangerous because they disrupt hormones and may cause cancer. Hormone expert, Lorna Vanderhaeghe, states that “XenoEstrogens cause breast cancer, uterine cancer, fibrocystic breast disease, ovarian cysts, endometriosis, premature sexual development, uterine fibromas, heavy periods, infertility and in men benign prostatic hypertrophy and prostate cancer”.

It is important to understand that our bodies will absorb XenoEstrogens from pesticides and herbicides. We also absorb XenoEstrogens from plastics. When plastic breaks down from sunlight, including  plastic used in water bottles, baby bottles, and plastics used to pack foods, Bisphenol-A is released. Originally used for synthetic estrogen replacement, Bisphenol-A causes hormone havoc in both women and men. Other sources to avoid include plastic wrap (especially in the microwave), cleaning chemicals, and cosmetics containing XenoEstrogens.

Cosmetics, Soaps, Creams

I can’t emphasize enough how important it is to use clean cosmetics, soaps and creams.  Anything absorbed through the skin is ten times more concentrated than an oral dose.  Preservatives used in skin lotions, shampoos, and body lotions including methyl paraben, ethyl paraben, proply paraben, and butyl paraben have been proven to have estrogenic properties.  Avoiding XenoEstrogens is very important for our hormonal health.

When I was introduced to the Sweet Pea Soap Company, I was excited to learn that all their products are made with natural ingredients containing none of the above ingredients. The Sweet Pea Soap Company website says, “All of our soaps are made with olive oil and other natural ingredients like essential oils. These oils are not found in store bought soaps, and that’s the main reason these handmade soaps are so nurturing to the skin. You can use these soaps with confidence, knowing they are all made with earth-friendly, all-natural ingredients.” Hurray, for an ethical company that wants to provide you with the healthiest of ingredients!

If you are suffering from the symptoms of hormone havoc, I encourage you to come out to the free information day at the Sweet Pea Soap Company, Saturday February 8th at 3:00 p.m. when I will be speaking about hormone health and what we can do to make changes to obtain hormone balance.  I look forward to meeting you there.



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Ongoing support for lasting change

bowl of cherries2014 is the beginning of my fourth year in private practice. Yay, me! I’ve discovered so much from the wonderful women who entrust me with their health concerns. The most important lesson I’ve learned is that making, and sticking to, dietary changes is incredibly difficult for most of us and especially difficult for women who feel vulnerable due to the hormonal disruptions associated with perimenopause. It seems that food, once a source of great comfort, becomes our enemy.

Recently I was diagnosed with a rare genetic rheumatic arthritis and a dietary restriction was advised. In spite of my training as a Registered Dietitian, this diet challenged me, severely. I needed the support of a community of fellow sufferers, daily pep talks, and tons of cooking, shopping, and food preparation advice. I could not have made the changes alone, and most days I still struggle to adhere to the diet.

I think of my clients, and I know my own experience is a validation of my working theory that dietary changes require ongoing support. Heck, if dietary changes were easy, there wouldn’t be a multi-billion dollar diet industry. Even with the motivation of a pain-free body, I still find it a challenge to resist the foods that can send my body into a reactive tizzy.

It makes no sense for me to advise women on dietary changes and then abandon them to the misinformation and unhealthy advice in the media, on the internet, and from well meaning friends and family. I want my clients to rediscover their vitality and to rejuvenate their lives, to live freely and happily without pain, sleeplessness, fatigue, or feeling terrible about their bodies. I want to see success in all my Nutrigals.

During the perimenopausal years, not all women suffer from sleepless nights, hot flushes, mood swings, stubborn weight gain, or early waking insomnia, but many do. If you are one of these women, you may have talked to your doctor and been dismissed with a pat on the head or with a packet of birth control pills. Many doctors erroneously believe, despite evidence to the contrary, that perimenopausal symptoms are caused by a deficiency of estrogen, when in fact the converse appears to be the case. See: In light of this misconception, many doctors prescribe estrogen, which exacerbates perimenopausal symptoms. Perimenopause is a time when a woman’s diet affects not only her current hormonal condition but affects also her future skeletal health, it needs to be taken seriously.

Sure, perimenopause ends, eventually, and menopause occurs, but there is no need to suffer through perimenopause (which can last ten years or more) alone or without relief. I look forward to an epoch when MDs are enlightened as to the benefits of bio-identical hormone treatment and in the meantime, I continue to help women control their hormones through dietary changes.

What I’ve realized over the last three years is that the women who most successfully and effectively incorporate my recommendations are women who keep in touch with me after their initial set of sessions. Some of these women join my Nutrigal Pal groups, some phone, or email for advice, and some come back in for further counselling. The ongoing support and feedback has a lasting positive effect. Symptoms disappear, weight is lost, and smiles return. A new study confirms this.

I don’t expect perfection from my clients. In fact, I expect imperfection. We’re human; I don’t consider it a failure or a weakness to binge or to lapse on our diets. And I wonder if the reason I didn’t hear again from some clients is that they feared I would judge them or scold them. The biggest regret of my first years in practice is not reaching out more to women who fell silent under my care. But I seek to rectify that now. I am scouring my records for women who may still need my on-going support and advice.

Nutrition is so simple, and yet so complex. We are inundated by a choice of foods, vitamins, herbs, supplements, and diets. My job is to help my clients navigate the endless ocean of options. Together we assess our priorities and the most cost-effective method of achieving symptom relief. Having a Registered Dietitian at your disposal, to help with decisions, also saves a great deal of frustration and expense.

In my fourth year, I have changed how I structure my interactions and also my fees so that clients can be assured of lasting relief from symptoms and more long term health, no matter how long it takes. Instead of a package of 6 or 8 sessions, I now offer clients ongoing support. This new structure consists of my customary assessment sessions but a slower and more thorough unrolling of the dietary change recommendations. Working with my clients in this approach, I develop with them a new relationship with food. After the initial changes are in place, we continue to meet, either in groups or one on one, and we stay in touch by phone or email. With this model, my clients are assured of my ongoing support while dietary changes become permanent in their lives.

When clients achieve relief from symptoms and a return of their regular energy and zest for life their friends and relatives notice. Over the years, I’ve received many referrals this way. In other words, my happy long-term clients are an effective form of advertising. This steady stream of clients allows me to concentrate on staying abreast of the latest research about nutrition, diet, and hormone health. Happy, successful clients are the best way for me to build my practice, and I am committed to them for 2014 and beyond.

Getting to know like-minded practitioners and business owners over the first few years of my practice has been amazing. Together we share a wealth of experience and information with our clients through combined workshops, presentations, and other offerings. I look forward to sharing with my clients many exciting events in the coming year.

If you would like to know more about me, and how I can work for you in your life, please let me know by filling in this 

and I will be in touch as soon as possible.

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Nutrigal’s Top 4 Tips for Holiday Socializing

  1. xmas banquet tableWhen I’m invited to a get-together, my tendency is to starve myself the day of because I know I will eat ten thousand calories at the buffet. Terrible idea! When I starve myself, I end up eating far more than I want to, and eating foods I regret later like those deep-fried tasteless thingys. I’ve learned to eat regularly and sensibly on the day of the party to take the edge off my appetite and empower a bit of restraint.
  2.  When I arrive at a party, the first thing I do is grab a glass of sparkling water and wander around for a while. I find someone with whom I’m comfortable and I take a few minutes to relax. I used to eat mindlessly to deal with the stress of a social gathering, standing by the table nibbling and grazing, and worrying. But now I give myself a half hour to settle before I even visit the buffet.
  3. And then I indulge mindfully. I choose foods I really love. If I bite in and it’s not the fabulous sensation I expect, I leave it and choose something else. And no, I don’t put it back on the serving platter. I give myself permission to eat only foods I love.
  4. After too many nights of socializing, I throw myself a pajama party. I get in my comfy-cozies, light some candles, dim the overhead, and enjoy the twinkle-lights in the greenery. I put on some nice music and savour a simple but tasty dinner, all by myself. Afterward I settle in and watch my favourite holiday movie. If I need a snack, and you know I will, I pour myself a bowl of raspberries and enjoy them with some dark chocolate and a few nuts.xmas elf

How about you? How do you cope with the parties and luncheons and family get-togethers?

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Without your symptoms who would you be and what would you do?

couch sleeperWhen was the last time you woke up bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, eager to face the day with an abundance of energy? When did you last sleep soundly through the night not waking up at 4 a.m. to the glowing light of your alarm clock?  When were you last comfortable in your body, not dreading some hot flash from Hell in the middle of a meeting?

If you are like many women, the navigation through mid-life is anything but smooth. The transition often starts with a niggling discontent; perhaps you want to leave your marriage, or take a trip away from your children or parents. Or it may show up as free-floating anxiety about your job that lately seems too much to handle. Many women don’t recognize or talk about the psychic turmoil of early menopause – the crying jags, or the heart palpitations, the relentless stress. A lot of women chalk it up to being tired and believe it will yield to a head-on assault, a new exercise or diet regime.

You may find yourself waking early worrying about things you have no control over but you cannot seem to shut your brain off and get back to sleep. Perhaps it’s worse and you’re waking up five times a night feeling like a furnace is raging in your body. Waking bleary-eyed the next day you guzzle coffee and while dressing you notice your clothes are fitting just a little snugger, just a little more uncomfortable each day. You drag yourself to work and curse not getting to the gym again but you know the fatigue won’t permit it.  You’re stuck in a rut and you wonder why your body is betraying you?

You probably don’t talk about the other alarming symptoms – the unwanted hair growth, the low sex drive, the buzzing head pressure, the depression. Fed up you might take a trip to your doctor with an intuition that something is wrong. You leave 30 minutes later with what you already knew. You’ve hit menopause. It’s a natural part of life. Every woman goes through it. Get used to it. Your doctor may have offered antidepressants, or perhaps you received the sensational advice to exercise more and eat less. You leave disheartened, feeling helpless, frustrated, and alone.

Now let’s go back to the original question. Who would you be and what would you do without your symptoms? If you had your energy back? If you slept soundly and made it through an entire day without a single hot flash, or anxiety? If you didn’t crave carbohydrates or feel guilty about everything you put in your mouth?

When we suffer from symptoms, we are unable to concentrate on anything else. Our symptoms become who we are. Imagine if you had someone to guide you through your mid-life transformation and help you relieve your symptoms. It can happen and it will prepare you for the next best part of your life. There are simple nutritional solutions to the symptoms many women suffer in mid-life but these solutions are not always easy to put into practice. Of course, we know we should eat properly but there are so many choices of food nowadays and who has the time? What if there is a family to feed or we need to eat on the run? I can help you put it all together. Get your life back, rejuvenate, revitalize. Then who would you be, and what would you do?


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The Stigma of Emotional Eating

girls whisperPeople share with me that they are afraid to recommend Nutrigal Pals to a friend because it may mean they are commenting on their friend’s weight or body size. Rest assured, emotional eaters come in all shapes and sizes. Everyone eats emotionally from time to time but in the chronic emotional eater’s case it has lead to a painful and destructive cycle of emotional, binge eating followed by restricting and dieting.

Nutrigal Pal groups practice acceptance and love on all levels. These groups are about learning a new way to look at our lives, food, and our bodies.

Emotional eaters are binge eaters; they eat to self-soothe when life is rough; they eat compulsively or mindlessly; and some emotional eaters, when they’re upset, they don’t eat at all. Some emotional eaters qualify by hyper-focusing on their body size, shape, or weight; or by dieting compulsively. Many women tell me they’ve lost and gained the same 20 pounds over and over during their lifetime. All of these types struggle with the way they use food when they experience difficult emotions. Nutrigal Pal groups explore ways to regulate our emotions and reduce our stress by learning new skills in a supportive group setting.

As a facilitator and member of Nutrigal Pals I don’t instruct clients to eat this and restrict that or to count calories. In fact it’s not about food at all; it’s about our relationship to food. This is also not a dieting or weight loss program. Rather Nutrigal Pals is for women who desire and choose to:

  • understand why diets don’t work for them and how to make permanent changes
  • discover their internal cues for when, what, and how much to eat
  • find out how to eat the foods they love without feelings of guilt or shame
  • stop obsessing about food and weight and explore new life choices

Nutrigal Pals is for women who are “done with dietingand are committed to breaking the cycle of emotional eating. It is for women that want to learn not only what is happening to them and why, but how to do things differently in order to make real and lasting changes. This is a group for women that want to make peace with their relationship to food. Nutrigal Pals is a unique group. It is for women that want to learn healthier eating habits and/or who want to quit binge-eating.

If you know of someone who might benefit from this group, please go ahead and pass this article along to them. Being an emotional eater is nothing to be ashamed or embarrassed about. You are not alone.


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Fear of Hunger

apple hand black nailsIt’s been a year since I began running Nutrigal Pals Support Groups for emotional eating. What I gain from the women in the group is just as valuable as the information I discover from experts in the field. On the topic of hunger my Nutrigal Pals report that they don’t trust their bodies and for the most part they try to avoid feeling hungry. What I’ve learned is that some of us subconsciously fear hunger.

One of the mindful-eating strategies I teach is simply to eat when you feel hungry and stop when you feel full. It seems simple enough, but what If you are afraid of your body’s signals? Some women have said to me jokingly, “If I eat when I’m hungry I’ll be eating all the time”. Many of us have internalized the belief that dieting, i.e. regulating and restricting, is the correct way to eat and live. This means if we allow ourselves to just eat because we’re hungry we will be out of control and never stop eating and blow up into gigantic, unlovable women.

This false belief is hinged on another: that our body shape and size determines our success in life, our lovability and ultimately our survival. This mentality launches the battle of our self against our body. We struggle a lifetime to deny the message (hunger) our body sends us. Our bodies request food and our minds respond with yet another diet. We treat our bodies with bad parenting practices: judging, comparing, ignoring, ridiculing, and torturing. At some point in our lives we learn to stop listening to our bodies; to wage war with our hunger, and to follow another’s battle plan for achieving an ideal clothing size or a number on a scale. The impetus to follow is we believe we will be more lovable, more acceptable, and therefore our survival will be ensured.

It’s no wonder we don’t trust our bodies or their signals of hunger or satiation, however the fact is our bodies get hungry, we feed them, and they are satisfied. The piece we need to learn, and it can be learned, is to differentiate between physical hunger and emotional or spiritual hunger. Physical hunger is not insatiable. When we learn to become quiet and listen we will hear our body saying, “Thank you, I’ve had enough.” Nothing to fear.

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