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Dealing with Stress

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Stress is a normal response to dealing with changes and challenges in daily life. In the short term, stress can help you perform better under pressure, but constant stress can pose problems for your health, wellness and quality of life. Stress causes the release of cortisol, the stress hormone, as well as adrenaline, which influences your blood pressure, heart rate, eating habits, sleep patterns, blood sugar levels, fat metabolism and your ability to fight-off illness. Long term stress can also increase your risk of heart attack or stroke and contribute to depression.

Triggers of stress can sometimes seem trivial, the effects stress has on our bodies are not. Stress can leave us feeling uncomfortable, sick, or even in pain, and finding ways to manage it are crucial in maintaining a healthy lifestyle.


Exercise is one of the most important, economical and easiest things you can do to combat stress. It might seem contradictory but putting your body through physical stress through exercise can relieve mental stress. The benefits are strongest when you exercise regularly. Exercise lowers your body’s stress hormones — such as cortisol — in the long run. It also helps release endorphins, which are chemicals that improve your mood and act as natural painkillers. Exercise can also improve your sleep quality, which can be negatively affected by stress and anxiety. When you exercise regularly, you may feel more competent and confident in your body, which in turn promotes mental wellbeing.

Try to find a physical activity you enjoy, such as walking, dancing, lifting weights or yoga. Activities that involve repetitive movements of large muscle groups can be particularly stress relieving.


One way to handle stress is to write things down. While recording what you’re stressed about is one approach, another is jotting down what you’re grateful for. It’s important to focus your thoughts on what’s positive in your life rather than thinking about the things that stress you out and give you anxiety.

Just let your thoughts flow on paper — or computer screen. Once you’re done, you can toss out what you wrote or save it to reflect on later.

Get Organized

Another way to take control of your stress is to stay on top of your priorities and stop procrastinating. Getting organized can eliminate the stress of scrambling to catch up.  Get in the habit of making a to-do list organized by priority. Give yourself realistic deadlines and work your way down the list.

Work on the things that need your immediate attention, and give yourself a deadline to get the little things done.

Say No

If we’ve learned anything from 2020, it’s that not all stressors are within your control. Take control over the parts of your life that you can change and are causing you stress. One way to do this may be to say “no” more often. Juggling too many responsibilities can leave you feeling overwhelmed. Be selective of what you take on.

Saying yes may seem like an easy way to keep the peace, prevent conflicts and get the job done right. But it may actually cause you internal conflict, which can lead to stress, anger, resentment and even the desire to exact revenge. And that’s not a very calm and peaceful reaction.

Get Physical

According to studies cuddling, kissing, hugging and sex can all help relieve stress. Positive touch can help release oxytocin and lower cortisol. This can help lower blood pressure and heart rate, both of which are physical symptoms of stress.

Get Professional Help

If new stressors are challenging your ability to cope or if self-care measures just aren’t relieving your stress, you may need to look for reinforcements in the form of therapy or counseling. Therapy also may be a good idea if you feel overwhelmed or trapped, if you worry excessively, or if you have trouble carrying out daily routines or meeting responsibilities at work, home or school.

Professional counselors or therapists can help you identify sources of your stress and learn new coping tool.

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TDC NutritionistDealing with Stress

Irritable Bowel Syndrome

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IBS: Overview, Symptoms, Treatments, Diet & More

IBS is the number one diagnosed condition by gastroenterologists. Gas, bloating, stomach distension, diarrhea and constipation; if you suffer from one or more of these symptoms periodically or on a chronic basis then you may have Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). You are not alone. Up to 23% of the world’s population has IBS.

What is Irritable Bowel Syndrome?

Irritable Bowel Syndrome affects the small intestine and the large intestine (colon) in terms of digestive muscle movement and sensitivity to food, gas, and stools. IBS is a type of condition called a “functional gut disorder”, which means the digestive organs look normal to a doctor but the nerves and muscles are not functioning properly.

What are Symptoms of IBS?

  • Upper abdominal pain and discomfort (dyspepsia)
  • Gas, gas pains, bloating, and stomach distension
  • Sense of early fullness after eating
  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea, constipation or incomplete emptying of the bowels (or a mix of these)
  • Generally, relief is felt after a bowel movement
  • Fatigue is a common non-digestive symptom

You may suffer from one or more of these symptoms on a periodic or chronic basis. You may feel fantastic one day and then feel poorly the next. Your symptoms may change over time. Keep in mind that everyone experiences IBS differently. This makes it difficult to diagnose and hard to treat.

Symptoms such as blood in the stool, fever, and unintended weight loss are not symptoms associated with IBS and should be addressed with a physician.

IBS is a symptom-based condition. Because symptoms of IBS are also symptoms of other gastrointestinal conditions, your physician may rule out other possible medical conditions such as Celiac disease, inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), endometriosis, cancer, food intolerances, and food allergies, to name a few. Your doctor may utilize a blood test, stool test, x-ray and colonoscopy to rule out other conditions.

The criteria for diagnosing IBS per the American College of Gastroenterology include abdominal pain or discomfort in association with altered bowel movements over the course of 3 months.

There are three types of IBS:

  • IBS – D, which the predominant symptom is diarrhea
  • IBS – C, which the predominant symptom is constipation
  • IBS – M, which the predominant symptoms are mixed diarrhea and constipation

If you have IBS-D or IBS-M and have had gastroenteritis from food poisoning or traveler’s diarrhea in the past, this may be the cause of your IBS. A new blood test may be able to help your doctor more confidently diagnose you with IBS and rule out Celiac disease or IBD. Ask your doctor about IBS Detex from Quest Diagnostics or IBSChek from Commonwealth Diagnostics International.

The cause of IBS is not completely understood. Possible causes include genetics, prior gastrointestinal infection or injury to the digestive track. Factors influencing IBS may include:

  • Altered motility – This describes abnormal slowing down or speeding up of the muscular contractions in the digestive tract.
  • Visceral hypersensitivity – When we eat, our stomach naturally distends as it fills with food and beverage. In some with IBS, stomach distension can register in the brain as pain.
  • Post-infection reactivity –A bout of traveler’s diarrhea, food poisoning or the flu, can cause short-term or long-term alterations in how the digestive system functions. This is known as post-infectious IBS.
  • Brain-gut communication – The brain and gut communicate via the vagus nerve and alterations in hormones, neurotransmitters and gut bacteria can disrupt the vital messages.
  • Changes to gut bacteria – Our digestive tract is home to trillions of friendly bacteria. They play a big role in digestion as well as with immune, hormone and brain function.
  • Bacterial overgrowth – Studies have shown that up to 78% of those with IBS could have SIBO or Small Intestinal Bacteria Overgrowth. Many of the symptoms of SIBO are the same as IBS so you may want to be tested and treated, if necessary.
  • Food allergies and sensitivities – The top food allergens that account for 90% of all food allergies include dairy, eggs, fish/shellfish, tree nuts/peanuts, wheat and soy. Examples of food sensitivities include non-celiac gluten-sensitivity, histamine intolerance, nightshade intolerance, etc.
  • Carbohydrate malabsorption – Most people with IBS respond well to a low-FODMAP diet, which limits fermentable carbohydrates.
  • Abnormal serotonin regulation – Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that is commonly known as our body’s mood stabilizer. It is mostly found in the gut and has a role in digestion, sleep and mental health. Studies show that those with IBS-C have low levels of serotonin while those with IBS-D have high levels.

Those with IBS may have other chronic conditions such as:

  • Acid reflux or GERD
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Headaches
  • Backaches
  • Mental health disorders like anxiety and depression

What Triggers IBS Symptoms?

Food is one of the main triggers via food sensitivities, food intolerances or visceral hypersensitivity. Other triggers may include:

  • Big meals
  • Meals high in fat
  • Caffeine
  • Alcohol
  • Coffee
  • Stress
  • Gastrointestinal infections
  • Menstrual cycle – hormonal changes can affect digestive function

Since IBS is not defined by one set of symptoms and triggers may differ for each person, there are a variety of treatments.

Dietary Recommendations

Food, meal size and meal frequency can affect IBS symptoms. The first stage of dietary changes often include the following recommendations:

  • Regular meal times – Studies show that erratic meal times can affect motility and therefore cause symptoms. Eat three meals a day (and snack as needed) on a regular basis. Avoid skipping meals, which can lead to increased hunger and overeating.
  • Avoid big meals – Large meals can lead to IBS symptoms including bloating, gas and abdominal pain.
  • Limit alcohol – Alcohol is known as a gastric irritant. It can alter motility, affect nutrient absorption and potentially increase intestinal permeability (aka “leaky gut”).
  • Limit caffeine – Caffeine can increase gastric acid levels and can have a laxative effect in certain people. Caffeine can be found in coffee, tea, energy drinks and dark chocolate.
  • Watch for spicy foods – Spicy food may aggravate acid reflux for some people. A chemical compound in red peppers can increase motility.
  • Assess fat intake – Some of those with IBS report increased symptoms with higher fat intake. Studies are not conclusive that fat can adversely affect IBS so an individual assessment may be necessary.
  • Fiber – For some people with IBS, fiber can exacerbate symptoms of abdominal pain, bloating and belly distension. Studies have shown that flaxseeds can help with IBS-C. It’s not clear what the optimal level of fiber is and may require experimentation with gradually increasing fiber in the diet.
  • Fluids – Your body and your digestive tract need fluid to function optimally. Water and non-caffeinated herbal teas are ideal options. Avoid carbonated beverages like beer, seltzer, and soda since they have been reported to cause IBS symptoms.

The Low-FODMAP Diet

Studies have shown that the low-FODMAP diet can improve symptoms in up to 2/3 of those with IBS. Many will see relief in about two weeks but for some, it may take up to four weeks. The low-FODMAP diet is a short-term elimination diet that limits fermentable carbohydrates. Foods are then reintroduced in a systemized manner in order to determine which carbohydrates trigger symptoms. This is a complex diet and it’s best to work with a nutritionist in order to ensure proper implementation and food challenges.

Mind-Body Therapies – Since stress often triggers IBS symptoms, cognitive behavioral therapy, hypnosis and relaxation techniques may be effective.

Exercise – Moving keeps your digestive tract moving! Studies have shown that low to moderate levels of exercise can reduce IBS symptoms, promote increased clearance of gas and improve constipation. Think brisk walking, hiking, bike riding, swimming, etc. Also, yoga has been shown to improve IBS symptoms by improving GI function and decreasing levels of stress. Keep in mind that vigorous exercise like running may worsen IBS symptoms.

Medication – Doctors may prescribe medications that help alleviate specific symptoms and/or medications that help regulate serotonin levels.

Probiotics –High quality scientific research of probiotic use for IBS found that probiotics can reduce abdominal pain and improve symptoms such as abdominal distention, bloating, flatulence, and altered bowel movements.


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TDC NutritionistIrritable Bowel Syndrome

Exercising 3-4x a week is great to help with detoxification. Sweat, exhalation, urine and bowel elimination help to detoxify the body and eliminate toxins.

Exercise Regularly

Working With a Nutritionist

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Are you curious about what working with a nutritionist is like?

A nutrition counseling session may never be like getting a massage, but it doesn’t have to be torture, either. A good nutrition consultation shouldn’t feel like a lecture about what you should be doing, and you shouldn’t feel as though you’re being scolded or judged on your eating habits, either. Rather, your nutritionist will take the time to listen closely and to understand where you are right now in terms of your lifestyle and diet, and work with you to help achieve your goals.

Nutrition counseling can be done by a certified nutrition consultant or a registered dietitian (RD). Both nutritionists and RDs are qualified to create individual action plans to help you adopt a healthier lifestyle.

Who Can Benefit from a Nutrition Consult?

Lots of people can benefit from working with a nutritionist, for many different reasons – whether you need a complete diet overhaul, are looking to manage a medical condition, want to fine-tune your food choices, or get inspiration for new, healthy recipes. It’s best to book a nutrition consultation after a check-up with your primary care provider. That can help inform whether you have any specific conditions that can be addressed with nutrition, such as elevated blood sugar or cholesterol, or blood pressure issues.

While some clients come in for a nutrition consultation to learn more about how their food choices affect their health, others end up visiting us at their doctor’s suggestion. The following are just a few of the conditions that can benefit specifically from dietary interventions:

  • Heart disease
  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol
  • Allergies
  • Diabetes and pre-diabetic conditions
  • Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
  • Celiac disease
  • Obesity or overweight
  • Pregnancy

What to Expect During Your First Appointment

During your first appointment we’ll ask about your goals, objectives, and reasons for wanting to see a nutritionist. We’ll review your medical history, including any medications and supplements you’re currently taking. Then we’ll delve into your lifestyle to get a sense of your stress levels, sleep patterns, energy levels, exercise, and gastrointestinal function.

It will be helpful for to you write down everything you ate in the 24 hours prior to the appointment (or better yet, a food diary of two to three days’ worth of meals and snacks). With that guidance, we can begin to discuss your dietary preferences and cooking habits, and identify trouble spots, like skipping breakfast or late-night snacking. From there, we’ll develop some initial pointers to help you start eating healthier.

How Many Appointments Will I Need?

Most clients come in for two to three sessions. If you’re ready to learn and incorporate some simple changes into your diet and lifestyle, that’s often enough to set you on the right course. But some people like the accountability of setting up monthly consults until they feel in control of — and comfortable with — their new habits. It’s not unusual for patients to schedule a refresher a year or two after the initial consult to review their goals or for help getting back on track.

Is a Nutritionist Covered by Health Insurance?

More often than not, the service isn’t covered by health insurance, but it’s worth calling your insurance provider to see whether nutrition counseling is a benefit on your plan. Nutrition counseling can be a very cost-effective investment in your long-term health. If better nutrition enables you to lower your blood pressure or cholesterol, or get your weight in check, it can potentially save you thousands of dollars in medications and other care down the road.

Will I Have to Stop Eating Everything I Love?

Absolutely not! A nutrition consult is a partnership. Nutritionists don’t just tell you what to do to improve your diet; we can also help you set and achieve your health goals. We work flexibly, starting with changes that will have the most impact, and incorporating routines that make the most sense for your lifestyle. The idea is to create a plan that puts you back in the driver’s seat and on the road to better health.



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TDC NutritionistWorking With a Nutritionist

Guacamole Recipe

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(Serves 4)

3 medium avocados

1 small tomato, chopped and drained

2 green onions, chopped fine

1/2 cup yellow onions, diced

1 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 lemon or 1 lime, juiced

1/4 tsp cayenne or chilli powder, or 1 small jalapeño, chopped finely, seeds removed

1/4 tsp salt or to taste


Mash avocados in a bowl and mix in other ingredients. Serve cold with chips and salsa or with vegetables. 

Add water and lemon to make an avocado salad dressing in blender. 

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TDC NutritionistGuacamole Recipe

How to Make Coconut Quinoa

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Coconut Quinoa is super easy to make! You only need 4 ingredients to create a fluffy and slightly sweet batch of quinoa. The ratio to cook quinoa is generally 1:2 (1 cup of quinoa to 2 cups of coconut milk).


To prepare the quinoa, place coconut milk, water, maple syrup, and quinoa in a sauce pan and bring it to a boil over high heat.

Next, turn the heat to low, cover the saucepan and let the quinoa cook for about 20 minutes or until the quinoa is cooked!


Remove the quinoa from the heat and serve immediately or let the quinoa cool completely before storing it in a meal prep container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. It’s perfect for meal prep throughout the week!

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TDC NutritionistHow to Make Coconut Quinoa

Getting Back on Track After the Holidays

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Remember when a big holiday feast was one day? Nowadays with “friendsmas” and fridges full of leftovers, it’s a week-long of sugar-sweetened potatoes, full-fat cheeses, and treats that can increase cravings and derail healthy eating for a week leading up to the new year. Unfortunately, the damage goes deeper than just increased cravings. Overdoing the starch and sugar can elevate baseline fasting blood sugar for days after the week’s festivities.

Risks of elevated blood glucose.

Elevated fasting blood glucose is linked to an increased risk of Alzheimer’s, metabolic syndrome, and pre-diabetes along with elevated triglycerides and cholesterol. But you don’t even need to hit pre-diabetic glucose numbers (100 and 126 mg/dl.) to put yourself at risk. A review of all of the pre-diabetic and diabetic scientific research confirmed that even elevated blood sugar in the normal range puts you at risk for heart disease, stroke, kidney damage, nerve damage, dementia, and cancer. The normal fasting glucose range is considered 80 to 100 mg/dl., but the risks start as low as 90mg/dl.

Luckily, there are steps you can take to mitigate your blood sugar response. Use these tips today or throughout the holiday season to get a mini-boost of health and hormone balancing.

Wake up and hydrate.

Wake up and drink two large glasses of water to help flush out your system and lower blood glucose levels. It’s especially important if you have been drinking alcohol and might be dehydrated. When you’re dehydrated, the volume of blood decreases, and the blood glucose remains the same, meaning you have more concentrated blood sugar. Drinking water (we recommend 2L) can increase blood volume and decrease glucose concentration.

Move your body!

Start your morning after your feast with a fasted workout to help bring glucose levels down. Intermittent fasting is a great way to mitigate your hormonal responses throughout the season (without giving up on indulgences) and adding in a workout increases the benefits (if you want help figuring out the best type of intermittent fasting for your body,our nutritionist can recommend a few for you).Pick your favorite workout and get moving to burn up stored glycogen in your muscles and bring down elevated blood glucose. No need to HIIT your way back into balance (a gentle yoga flow is fine), but movement is mandatory to burn up elevated glucose.

Sip back into balance.

Shut down lingering cravings post-holiday with a protein-, fat-, and fiber-based green smoothie! Protein, fat and fiber all support blood sugar balance by slowing the absorption rate of glucose.

Unfortunately, one of the side effects of high blood glucose is increased hunger, so a protein-, fat-, and fiber-based meal can not only lower cravings but also satisfies cravings by calming over eight hunger hormones in the body.

Don’t blend up a smoothie loaded with fruit and dates along with the protein, or you will be defeating the purpose of it. The goal is to go low-sugar and low-starch to bring elevated glucose down.

Sugar-detox Smoothie


  • ¼ avocado
  • 2 tablespoons chia or flaxseeds
  • 1 small cucumber (Persian cucumber if available)
  • ¼ cup fresh mint leaves
  • 1 handful of spinach
  • 1 lemon, freshly juiced
  • 1 scoop vanilla protein powder
  • 2 cups unsweetened nut milk


Add all ingredients to a blender, and blend until smooth. Enjoy!

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Befriending Anxiety

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Fear is helpful in a moment of threat, when it helps us immediately fight, flee, freeze, or faint and play dead. Anxiety, on the other hand, is not helpful. Anxiety is a condition of being fearful of an imagined future or threat. It has become a blanket term—a catchall container for worry, fear, dread, anticipation, and raw nerves. Many of us are anxious, overwhelmed by life’s constant demands and input. But far too many of us are not aware that we have the inner resources to meet anxiety compassionately and skillfully.

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Jennifer Freed, PhD, and Deborah Eden TullBefriending Anxiety

How to Befriend Your Ruminating Mind

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Sometimes we don’t even know it’s happening: We go from one thought to the next, innocently mulling over an issue. Maybe you’re debating whether a text you received from a friend was off-tone, or maybe you’re making calculated decisions about your next career move. Your mind can’t really help itself. It’s completely natural. It’s your mind’s job to think thoughts. But then you find yourself churning over the same issue again and again, and it’s ruining your focus, souring your mood, and interrupting your sleep—which means you might be ruminating yourself into a lather.

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Nina Purewal and Kate PetriwHow to Befriend Your Ruminating Mind

Body, Mind, Spirit, and Soul

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The Body

There are times we all feel like our body must be a liar—when we get a big pimple right before an important date or when we bloat before a black-tie event or a high school reunion. Or maybe when we melt inside looking at a picture of the person we’re no longer with and really wish we weren’t feeling that way. In those moments, we long to believe our body is a traitor.

The truth is your body cannot lie. It is always going to be truthful—it knows no other way. Its sole purpose is to take care of you and work hard on your behalf. Our body is constantly giving us signals to let us know what’s off or amiss. That pimple? It could be your body signaling that your hormones are off or that your new face cream isn’t a good fit for your skin, or it could be an emotional message for you to be kind to and accepting of yourself.

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adminBody, Mind, Spirit, and Soul