The Autoimmune Fix

I leap to the opportunity to listen to Dr. Tom O’Bryan, DC, CCN, DACBN speak. When his most recent book came out, “The Autoimmune Fix,” I grabbed a copy and had a hard time putting it down. This book is a well-written, scientifically-sound, explanation about how to stop the hidden autoimmune damage that keeps you sick, fat and tired before it turns into a disease.

Even someone with an autoimmune disease for over 25 years (me!), and as a nutrition expert, there were heaps I learned. A few stats I noted include:

  • The premier neurologist in the world specializing in the impact of gluten sensitivity on the brain, with or without celiac disease, is Mario Hadjivassiliou, MD, who believe gluten sensitivity is associated with autoimmune disease and that celiac disease is the just manifestation of it. What does this mean? Gluten sensitivity is something to be taken so seriously.
  • Gluten sensitivity is an initiator to many systemic autoimmune diseases; this doesn’t mean everyone with an autoimmune disease has a gluten sensitivity, but there is a very high correlation. Applying this stat to my practice in helping 100s of clients, all of them have felt better on a gluten free diet. This doesn’t mean wheat bread is equally exchanged for gluten free bread. Real food is encouraged.
  • Dr. O’Bryan has shared some valuable articles: “The Conundrum of Gluten Sensitivity and Autoimmunity – What Tests Are Often Wrong,” and a bonus guide, “The Hidden Sources of Gluten, ” at
  • Many people with the genes for celiac disease or non-celiac wheat sensitivity may lead their entire lives without ever developing the symptoms of the disease. For some, the symptoms are immediately apparent, where others it take years or decades to appear. Some are able to eat gluten filled foods until symptoms arise and they have lost their oral tolerance, activating the genes, producing antibodies, leading to developing the disease. Researchers have also found that celiac has doubled every 15 years. This is tough, but the great news is it shows that we can control our own health. If we know the mechanism by wich a disease develops, it gives us the chance to reverse engineer the direction we’re going and move toward a higher level of health.
  • “Throughout life, the most profound influences in health, vitality, and function are not the doctors you see or the drugs, surgery, or other therapy you’ve undertaken. The most profound influences are the cumulative effects of the decisions you make about your diet and your lifestyle, and how those decisions affect the expression of your genes.” – Jeffrey Bland, PhD
  • It takes 17 years for the latest research to trickle down to clinical practice. New research about the autoimmune spectrum is coming out every day, but most doctors don’t simply have the time to read it.
  • Patients with Hashimoto’s thyroid disease can reduce their dose of thyroid hormone medication (with their doctor’s permission, of course) by 49 percent by eliminating gluten from their diet.*
  • When Infants are high risk for type 1 diabetes (from a family history), parents are advised to avoid feeding their baby all cow’s milk products for the first year of life. The reason is the vulnerability to produce islet cell antibodies if you are sensitive to milk.
  • If a problem is sensed, it’s advised to get a Multiple Autoimmune Reactivity Screening done. If a doctor won’t do the test, one can be ordered from
  • More than 80% of all processed foods, such as vegetable oils and breakfast cereals, contain genetic modified ingredients.
  • To watch a powerful video and learn more about gut health and how the microbiome works, go to


C. Virili et al. “Atypical Celiac Disease as Cause of Increased Need for Thyroxine: A Systemic Study,” Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism 97, no3 (Mar 2012) E419-22.

Gaining Knowledge – Losing Pounds

Prahran Mkt - AustraliaMost recently I posted an article written by a business counterpart about his 2 month journey on weight loss. Granted he is a Personal Trainer, you’d think he’d constantly be in top shape, yet, like Alex, I too have goals for my health including the number on the scale (and note, I like measurements more than a scale number).

My newest role as a mom is the best thing that could ever happen to me as a person. As many parents out there can agree, being a mom/dad can be trying, but this position brings so much joy and compassion in my life. On the flip side, going through a pregnancy and gaining 28 pounds; could have been more as Dex was born at 38 weeks, I have become a better dietitian and nutrition counselor trying to lose the weight. My biggest surprise is my impatience with how slowly it’s coming off. But the truth be told, this pace allows my body to adjust at a healthy, natural rate, and allows me to understand what habits are worth holding onto for a lifetime.

So 6 months and 1 week later I am at my pre-pregnancy weight and I thought I’d share some of the methods I used to get here.

1. SMART Goal

I defined my goal (and wrote it down! Often!), decided how I would keep myself on task, ensuring things moved in the right direction weighing-in every Monday. I picked Monday to make sure I never went “off my rocker” with beverages and food on the weekend. As well, every Monday weigh-in wasn’t always a loss. Furthermore, if I knew, just by the way I felt, I wasn’t going to see a lower number on the scale, I’d skip/delay that weigh-in. No need to do so, as it would leave a negative impression on my day, and I’d wait (no pun intended) until about Wednesday. I also broke my goal down. I wanted to lose 38 pounds (I was near my heaviest before getting pregnant), but my weekly goal was 1 pound a week. Ideally I wanted more, but realistically, it wasn’t happening without me feeling deprived and hungry.

2. Tracking My Macros

I befriended MyFitnessPal to not count calories, but to understand how my macronutrient (fat, protein, carbohydrate) ratios were measuring. Through the process I learned that eating more carbs (35-38% or around 100 grams a day; excluding non-starchy vegetables) and less fat (about 30%) worked best for my goal. Interesting, as I came to learn this by eating intuitively. I wanted more carbs (fruit, black rice, root vegetables) and less often craved grassfed beef or higher fat proteins. Before getting pregnant, I always aimed for uber low carb (about 50 grams a day), thinking it was my best method for maintaining weight. In this journey, I tried to keep low carb in mind, but to look at myself more individually to assess what was going to work for my goal. And not to brush over protein – I had about 1 gram of protein per pound of my current weight.

3. New Recipes & Hunger

It is not uncommon for me to create a personal meal plan. I’d think about what foods were appealing at the time and I’d create meals plugging them into Fitclick or MyFitnessPal. I definitely sourced Pinterest for inspiration and bought recipe books. I took it a step further too; putting sticky notes on recipes I planned to trial each week (when time allowed). I know, as soon as I get bored with my food, I reach for more food for satisfaction rather than to fulfill hunger. My solution here, as you can see, is to mix things up, and excite my palate with different flavors and meals. One thing important to note is I use my meal plans as a template; never did/do I follow it 100%. Overall, my meals are consistent throughout the week, and come the following 7 days, I change my ingredients/grocery list. Every night, I asses how hungry I feel. If I am rather hungry after dinner, I know this was a symptom of not eating enough during the day. This often happened, and one thing that has made the biggest difference, is with my high protein and vegetable lunch, I’ve added a small piece of fruit, rounding out the meal. I would not have been able to come to this conclusion if I didn’t track some of my meals. Bottom line, a food journal can be so powerful for healthy eating and assessing what works for weight loss.

4. Appreciating the Journey

To say the least, losing weight is not my favorite hobby. Indeed, one needs to enjoy the journey, as losing weight surely doesn’t have a deadline nor ends once we hit our goal weight. My real goal is striving for health, and clearly as I lose numbers on the scale, I am gaining insight on how to own my journey and be a better dietitian, counseling others in a similar process. Every day counts, and some day we will take two steps forward, and other days one step back. In the end it’s the trend that matters.

Cheers to you and good health,


What’s Your Goal

What’s your New Year’s Resolution? Don’t have one? No worries; I am not sure I like them anyway. Surely they are motivating (initially), but seeking a better self shouldn’t be captivated only one time a year. Nonetheless, let’s get healthier before we get caught up in what others are doing since January 1.

My first question is – what do you want to be different from this winter to the next? More energy, a different dress size, a faster paced mile, more reps on your weight lifting routine? What in your health could be better?

Whatever your goal is, write it down. One effective place to write your goal is getting a dry erase marker and writing the goal on your bathroom mirror.

Next think why it’s important. This WHY is so crucial. It’s going to be your ongoing motivation.

Now go back and look at what your goal is and assess whether it’s intimidating to initiate or easy enough to start NOW. If you can’t do something for your goal today, break that goal down to something smaller, with a lesser barrier of entry to begin.

Next, draft a plan to reach this small milestone within the week, and in the next week, reassess your goal and set your standards higher to inch closer to the main objective.

Overall, it’s hard to know where we are headed if we don’t know what we are truly trying to go after.

If you need any help, feel free to email me at [email protected],com. As well, I have also added another service which includes assessing a 3-5 day food log, where I provide insight and tactics of what someone needs to do reach a set goal. Sometimes accountability is all you need! Let me be your coach this month. I promise to play nice.

Cheers to you and good health,


Make 2014 Your Healthiest Year (With These 5 Tips)

Tis the season for us to think about personal goals and health initiatives. Before you decide where you want to go, understand where you have been by asking yourself these questions:

Where would you love to be at the end of 2014? How could your life be better? How could you feel more in control of your health? This vision you conjure – hold onto it, and believe you can reach it. Why would you accept anything less? Make it your intention and your reason why your goal is important. Make it your motivation each day, and celebrate every day and choice that will get you there.

Below are some of my top tips as an expert in the field of health and wellness. Above all, you know yourself the best, and do not set a goal that is too far out of reach. Making a small goal, and updating it weekly or bi-weekly facilitates initiating action.

Cheers to you and good health this year and beyond!

1. Hydrate

Sounds so simple, yet, many of us are not drinking enough (filtered) water. Funny enough, I recently went to an Integrative Medicine doctor last week and explained a few things about myself, and while anticipating to hear the doc prescribe me a supplement or herb, he said, one part of health is as simple as drinking ample amounts of water.

Drink half of your weight in ounces. Drinking enough water will help your body remove waste (detox), keep your joints fluid and muscles hydrated, provide mental clarity, and your skin looking young. One practice to help you reach a hydration goal is to have a handy water bottle on hand, like this one. The straw is helpful in making the drinking process quick and easy.

2. Nurture Your Gut

Digestion problems cause inflammation, and inflammation can cause our bodies to go into fat storage mode, and even worse, disease. The first steps to nurturing your gut is to remove irritating foods (GMOs, gluten, soy, vegetable oils, pasteurized dairy, perhaps non-sprouted legumes and grains) and add in superfoods to repair your gut like bone broth. To progress the healing process further, you also want to reinoculate your digestive tract with specific food and supplements like  fermented vegetables, coconut oil and probiotics. Gut health is getting notice and information on this will be trending in 2014.

3. Avoid Vegetable and Man-Made Oils

One thing you won’t be able to read on a food label for vegetable oils (including canola oil) and margarine is the inflammatory status. Bluntly, they are not doing your health any favors. Opt for better fats such as coconut oil, palm oil, grassfed butter for cooking, and olive oil, avocado oil, macadamia nut oil, sesame oil, walnut oil for cold uses. Like the fact you can fight fire with fire, we can fight fat by eating fat. Fat is essential for our health due to its healing properties, use to increase nutrient absorption and assistance in detoxing our liver. Make sure to have some sort of fat on your plate at each meal, and equally important, the right kind of fat.

4. Plan

I don’t think I can state it enough, “if we fail to plan, we plan to fail.” Mapping out some meals each week makes eating nutrient-dense food a lot easier. I request clients to take a look at their schedule each week, understand how often they will eat home, work, etc, and plan foods to make on a Sunday afternoon, so the meal prep during the week is quick and easy. I surely do this too. I boil some eggs, or make a crust-less quiche, I bake some sort of squash, chop up some raw vegetables for dips and salads and often have something brewing in the slow-cooker. If you need some recipe inspiration, I have a nice collection going on Pinterest.

5. Moderation

Perhaps my favorite tip: moderation. While working hard on your diet, fitness, career, relationships, etc, find a balance in enjoying things like a spa treatment, book/magazine, coffee date, glass of wine, or something I haven’t mentioned but you love. Being healthy is a balancing act, and not about deprivation nor perfection. Work hard, play hard and enjoy the moment at hand.


My Superfood Superlist

When I first start working with clients, I look at what they are eating and assess if their meals and weekly intake is balanced. From there, I recommend things to remove/add to their routine, then address the quality of the ingredients they are eating, tweak their macronutrients to best, and most quickly, reach their goals and finally we discuss superfoods. The magical thing about superfoods is they target inflammation in our bodies. Inflammation is defined as a biological response of cells to a stimuli, and chronic inflammation can lead to disease. So basically inflammation is the body’s attempt to self-protection and causes of inflammation include, but not limited to: low grade food sensitivities, an imbalance of gut bacteria (do you take a probiotic?), stress, environmental toxins (mercury, lead, etc), constant dehydration, lifestyle (sleep deprivation, inactivity) and certain foods (caffeine, sugar, oils (canola, cottonseed, sunflower, safflower oils), poor quality dairy, conventional meat, alcohol, grains, food additives) and the list can go on. Please note though, some inflammation is good. Too much is clearly bad.

I can continue to cover how to we have an overload of inflammation in our body’s, yet, my takeaway is to focus on good things you can eat daily, optimizing our health. When we focus on the good and healthy things to add to our diet and lifestyle, there isn’t a need (or as much of a need) to focus on what we need to take away.

Enlisted are a few of my favorite superfoods. What superfoods do you consume?

Cocoa Nibs

Why and how to consume? Cocoa nibs are very satisfying, especially if your senses are just after a chocolate taste or your body is in need of magnesium. Yet, cocoa nibs do have a bitter edge. For this reason, to get a chocolate craving satisfied I mix them either with some nuts/seeds and or coconut flakes, which all mix well in Greek yogurt. As you may know, cacao is a nutrient-powerhouse containing over 300 compounds including: protein, fat, carbohydrates, fiber, iron, zinc, copper, chromium (appetite control and insulin sensitizer) calcium, flavanols (antioxidants, known to lower blood pressure and cholesterol), sulfur (strong nails/hair) and magnesium (muscle relaxant and strong bones). If you eat cocoa nibs, or dark chocolate, you want to ensure it’s organic to avoid chemicals from irradiation and spraying of chemicals which are standard practice in growing cacao beans.

“Every study on chocolate is pointing to the same conclusion: there is something in chocolate that is really good for us. That something is the raw cocoa bean, the nut that all chocolate is made from. The cocoa bean has always been and will always be Nature’s #1 weight loss and high-energy food. Cocoa beans are probably the best kept secret in the entire history of food.”
— David Wolfe, co-author of Naked Chocolate: The Astonishing Truth About The World’s Greatest Food.

Chia Seeds

Why and how to consume? Chia seeds provide protein, fat and fiber to our diet, and one of my favorite perks, is they help us detox. To reap the fullest benefits, soak chia seeds overnight in either water, almond milk or coconut milk. I often add the end product to my morning smoothie or I mix in some berries and have it for an afternoon snack. Chia seeds provide satiety, absorbing 12 times their weight and expand in our stomachs. Chia seeds are good for our hearts and bones, providing a dose of calcium ebgs for an alternative to milk.

Maca Powder

Why and how to consume? I stumbled upon maca powder when doing some research for fertility and fatigue/low energy. Wow, was I impressed. Coming from the radish family, maca is touted to aid stamina, support immunity, increase vitality, balance sex hormones (PMS/PCOS/menopause) including an increase in sex drive and enhances memory. I most enjoy this nutty-flavored powder with my morning smoothie, but it can also be added to soups or just water. Maca includes 55 phyto-chemicals, including vitamins B1, B2, B12, and Vitamin C, zinc. It has amino acids, calcium and phosphorus as well.

Brewer’s Yeast

Why and how to consume? Known for its content of B vitamins, chromium and protein, aids in blood sugar control, relieves diarrhea, cold/flu, PMS and skin issues. The easiest way to consume Brewer’s Yeast for me is in my smoothie. Can you tell I like smoothies? I aim to have 2-3 a week, at a minimum. You can also mix Brewer’s Yeast in your eggs.

Shredded Coconut & Coconut Oil

Why and how to consume? Coconut flakes are great by themselves, used as a core ingredient in a homemade trail mix, mixed into Greek yogurt with berries and more. Coconut oil, along with grass-fed butter is the preferred fat to cook with at high heat. Coconut flakes have a nice helping of fiber and both flakes and oil contain medium chain triglycerides, lauric acid, among other nutrients. Overall, coconut has so many health benefits including weight loss my friends. One study out of the Journal of Nutrition suggests that we can expend more calories digesting medium-chain triglycerides (coconut) than digesting long-chain fatty acids (found in almonds, avocados, olive oil). Want to know more? I enjoy this write-up by Dr Mercola.

Grass-fed Butter

Why and how to consume? The difference between regular butter, even organic butter compared to grass-fed butter (I’ll name drop – Kerrygold is my favorite) is substantial. When Dr. Weston Price studied native diets in the 1930’s he found that butter was a staple in the diets of many supremely healthy peoples. Do you find it shocking that butter is America’s best source of absorbable vitamin A? Even more, butter contains a number of anti-oxidants that protect against free radicals that damage and weaken the arteries. Yup, Grandma was right – eat (grass-fed) butter to protect your heart. Butter protects against cancer, arthritis, osteoporosis, low thyroid and more. As for how to consume, I am not sure I need to explain this one, do I? Grass-fed butter is richer in the fat soluble vitamins (A, D, E, K), lauric acid and has vitamin K2. Grass-fed butter is also the best source of conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), which aids in weight loss/weight management and targets cancer prevention.


Why and how to consume? Kombucha is a slightly sweet, carbonated fermented tea. You can make your own, yet, I find it most realistic to purchase a bottle every trip I make to a nutrition/specialty store, such as Whole Foods. The Ancient Chinese called Kombucha the “Immortal Health Elixer” for its health benefits containing organic acids, active enzymes, amino acids and polyphenol antioxidants. Kombucha improves joint pain, immunity, digestion and, again my favorite, helps cleanse the body.

Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV)

Why and how to consume? One, you can start the day with a shot of it, or you can add it to water with some lemon and honey. The most common way I find myself using it (besides cleaning my house) is on m salad. Please note, unfiltered is what you want to look for when buying a bottle. The unfiltered version has a wealth of vitamins, minerals and acetic acid. Acetic acid helps control appetite, increase insulin sensitivity, and helps decrease fat storage. I can’t fail to mention the alkaline benefits of ACV. Many foods and stress cause the pH of our body to be more acidic, which isn’t favorable.ACV can help combat this.


Lead Contamination in Cocoa and Cocoa Products: Isotopic Evidence of Global Contamination (

Journal of the American Dietetic Association: Cocoa and Chocolate Flavonoids – Implications for Cardiovascular Health

The Journal of Nutrition: Plasma LDL and HDL Cholesterol and Oxidized LDL Concentrations are Altered in Normo- and Hypercholesterolemic Humans After Intake of Different Levels of Cocoa Powder

Yu, L. J., & Jin, W. W. (2004). Study on nutritional components and the anti-fatigue effects of dry powder of maca (Lepidium meyenii). Food Science25(2), 164-166.

Cicero, A. F. G., Piacente, S., Plaza, A., Sala, E., Arletti, R., & Pizza, C. (2002). Hexanic Maca extract improves rat sexual performance more effectively than methanolic and chloroformic Maca extracts. Andrologia34(3), 177-179.

Dini, I., Tenore, G. C., & Dini, A. (2002). Glucosinolates from maca (Lepidium meyenii). Biochemical systematics and ecology30(11), 1087-1090.

Price, Weston, DDS Nutrition and Physical Degeneration, 1945, Price Pottenger Nutrition Foundation, Inc., La Mesa, California


Today, my boy is 5 weeks old. Holy cow, how did this time fly by so quickly?


IMG_7885Nonetheless, as many new moms suggest, I am so in love with my baby, Declan (we call him Dex). No doubt, being a mom has its’ moments, but the smiles, cuddles and new role is indescribable.

Already, embracing this new family dynamic, I have learned heaps – from honing in on personal strengths (and understanding my weaknesses) and streamlining my outlook on priorities, health and more. Of course, with any situation I am presented with, my wheels begin to turn on how to grow stronger, regarding wellness, and how to apply my observations into my nutrition practice. Indeed at 3 weeks postpartum, I have continued to meet with clients. Granted I am not working as many hours right away, yet, if I can balance it all, I want to continue my love of helping people with their health goals. As well, now that I am on the other side of my pregnancy, I have similar goals as my patients to shed some weight, all while taking care of myself.

Often enough, internally I find myself echoing recommendations I preach to clients, including:

  • Be patient with the process. Whatever goal you are trying to achieve – weight loss, new eating habits, etc, the results will not come overnight, within or week (or 5!). Striving for a set objective comes with a journey, and along the way, aim to make the best choices, stay positive and assess progress routinely. 
  • Love the skin you are in. When we love ourselves, rather than criticize ourselves, we become more confident and determined.
  • Consistency is key. Try to not make too many changes as once – as well, eating on a routine helps us understand how much food our bodies need. Thus can prevent overeating, especially in the night hours. If I, or a client, find myself ravenous at night, it’s quite possible too little food is consumed during the day.
  • Make small, realistic goals. For example, my priority is to eat healthy and maintain optimal blood sugar control, providing the best nutrition for Dex, as well as, to make sure the scale is going down, not up, during the process. Over the last 10 months, I gained 35 pounds, and I don’t want or intend to make it a goal to lose all the weight by my 6 week appointment with the doctor or sooner. If this was the case, I would merely set myself up for failure, and I would have to take obscene measures to even try to get there. So my solution is to have a daily goal to consume a certain amount of produce, protein and water and to ensure my measures are going in the right direction weekly.
  • Treat myself. It’s important, no matter how busy we get, to have small weekly or monthly treats for ourselves. And this does not include food; I am suggesting personal enjoyments like getting my nails done, or buying a favorite magazine, booking a massage, etc. Health isn’t only about how much we eat and/or move. There is SOOO much more to it.

This list can easily continue but I am happy to be on the same page as many of my clients, and will continue to be once I hit my goal. Maintaining optimal health is not a breeze. Wherever I stand with my goals, I need to address a plan. “If we fail to plan, we plan to fail,” and this is true starting with a grocery list to ensure we plan balanced meals.

I am enjoying my new motherly role and look forward to continue to grow as a person and a more impactful dietitian.

What tactics do you layout to meet your health goals? Do you have any feedback on how you achieved your latest personal initiative?

Feedback is always welcomed!


Using the Paleo Diet to Manage Type 1 Diabetes & Hypothyroid

alexiskimphotoMost recently I have conversed with some lovely individuals about how we use diet to stabilize blood sugars. Today, I have captured a Q & A with Alexis to inspire others to focus on diet to gain health.

How long have you had diabetes? I was diagnosed in 2012 at the age of 28.  I had gestational diabetes with my daughter the year before and when I initially found out they insisted I was Type 2 (even though both of my uncles found out they were Type 1 in their 30s).  They wanted me to take medication as a Type 2 but after 3 weeks of having blood sugars in the 200s and 300s I insisted they put me on an insulin regimen. More bloodwork was done and type 1 diabetes was confirmed along with hypothyroid. Haven’t looked back since

What eating regime have you found to be most helpful in managing stable blood sugars and how did you come to find this diet? I was extremely proactive about managing my diabetes after I found out. Sure I was upset at first but at the time I had a 2 ½ year old and a 1 year old and all I could think of was how horrible it would be for me to leave my children with no mom. I discovered paleo early on by doing online research and intentions to keep carbs to a minimum.  My A1c went from 8.3 when diagnosed to 5.5 in just a few months. If that’s not proof I don’t know what is!

What main improvements in your health have you observed, diabetic-related or not? Overall health has improved. I have much better mental clarity.  I feel less moody and irritable. I also notice a difference in my hair, skin and nails. I have tons of baby hair growing and I no longer have strange ridges in my nails. After being diagnosed I also discovered that I am definitely gluten intolerant and cannot eat legumes.  I used to think I had acne in high school but in retrospect it was these things manifesting themselves. My skin is perfectly clear after going paleo. Paleo has also helped me maintain my weight. I weighed 103 when diagnosed and looked very malnourished. I gained some weight back but have been able to maintain it by eating this way. I also have to add that my dental health has improved ten fold. After many years of terrible dental visits I haven’t had one cavity and in fact, the last time I went for a cleaning my dentist said my teeth were so clean he didn’t even need to clean them!

Do you find the diet realistic and something to maintain long term? Would you recommend it to others managing their diabetes? I don’t consider paleo a diet. It is a lifestyle. In my case I had been eating and doing things a certain way for 28 years and then all of a sudden was told that I had to change. I was forced to make a change because of my diabetes and I consider that a blessing but others who want to make a change without being forced to may have difficulty in the beginning. With that said, after small steps, it is definitely realistic and easy to maintain long term. I recommend this way of eating to everyone not just diabetics. It is my opinion that if it is good for a diabetic then it is probably good for you too!

What does a typical day of food look like to you? I am so lucky to be married to a Korean man! I love Korean food, especially authentic Korean food. My mother in law is one of the last generations to ferment her own kimchi (not just cabbage either, this woman knows how to ferment ANYTHING).  She also ferments her own soybean paste which is a lost art even in Korea these days. We eat some sort of soup at least once everyday. My kids really like Korean seaweed soups and bone broth. My favorite dish is Korean style braised pork belly (super easy!). I never take a grocery list to the market. I buy what looks good or is in season and then I work with that. In general as my mother in law has taught me, I try to cook with what I have without having a structured menu. My carbs mainly come from vegetables unless I treat and have some roasted sweet potato.

What is the best thing about the diet? The best thing about eating this way for me is the mental clarity and amazing amount of energy I now have. I feel so much more alive like I am actually living after eating this way. One can take being diagnosed as diabetic as an early death sentence but managing my diabetes this way makes me feel so much more appreciative and satisfied with the life I am living.

Any tips for someone getting started on this type of diet? The first book I read was Mark Sisson’s the Primal Blueprint. I loved that it was written simple enough for everyone to understand. When it is easy for us to understand it is much easier for us to make a change. Also, it is easy to want to feel like you need to dive right in, but really what helped me in the beginning was taking small baby steps. For example, at first, I didn’t eat rice (blasphemous in a Korean house!). I still would have a piece of bread but no rice. Then, no more bread, after that, no oatmeal,. then eliminated grains, then legumes, then I started focusing on the quality of meat I was eating, etc.  If I hadn’t done it that way I am sure I would have felt overwhelmed and deprived.  At some point I decided on what number of carbs I wanted to eat everyday as well. That definitely helped the transition.

Anything in addition you’d like to say? There is a lot of misconceptions about what paleo is. It is more about what it is not.  It is also not one size fits all and others should keep in mind that there is an experimentation period. I believe this is necessary. You have to eat everything and then listen to your body. It may say “I don’t like that but I love this!”  Although the word paleo is often used I personally like to use the word primal. If you look up the word primal in the dictionary it also means important. And that is what my health and well being is to me! I have created this beta website to encourage this health movement to grow!

Another T1 DM Using the Paleo Lifestyle to Manage Blood Sugars

photoI had the pleasure to connect with Shelby Hughes, a fellow type 1 diabetic, to talk about the great use of a paleo lifestyle to gain health, and more so find more ease in controlling blood sugars. Have a look at our conversation and please share if you have found similar things in your diet transition.

How long have you had diabetes? I was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes in 2008 at age 39 years old. Originally I was diagnosed with Type 2, but after changing my diet, taking oral medication and performing daily exercise wasn’t helping my blood sugars, I had additional lab work that confirmed I had the antibodies for Type 1.

What eating regime have you found to be most helpful in managing stable blood sugars and how did you come to find this diet? When I was first diagnosed with diabetes, I researched online and found that many diabetics (both Type 1 and 2) had been successful following a low carb diet. When I switched to this type of diet, I did see improvement in my blood sugars. However, I was not able to maintain a low-carb lifestyle for a long period of time. Eventually I “fell off the low-carb wagon” and started eating a Standard American Diet again. My blood sugars were always on a rollercoaster!  In January 2013, after hearing about the Paleo and Primal lifestyle from an online friend with diabetes, I decided I would try a Paleo framework for eating. Initially I was going to do it for just two weeks. After two weeks, I noticed that my blood sugars were AMAZINGLY stable. I didn’t have lows, I didn’t have highs. I never looked back!

What main improvements in your health have you observed, diabetic-related or not? Besides having very stable blood sugars (I can literally count on one hand the number BOTH lows and highs I’ve had since starting eating within the Primal/Paleo framework. My sleep has improved (I was having terrible issues with insomnia last fall, before changing my diet). I have lost weight, but I think that’s mainly because I’m staying within or just below my caloric requirements and I’ve increased my exercise. But I do have tons of energy. I was never a runner, EVER, but I completed my first 5K in March and I’m training now for a 10K. In fact, I never liked exercising at all, but now it’s like I HAVE to move my body or I feel like I’m going to crawl out of my skin! Other changes I’ve noticed are that my skin breaks out less and I don’t get mouth ulcers (I was getting them weekly before I made the changes).

Do you find the diet realistic and something to maintain long term? Would you recommend it to others managing their diabetes? I honestly believe this is a lifestyle I can manage long term. There are so many good Paleo substitutes for my favorite “comfort foods” that I just don’t feel like I’m missing out. I make cauliflower crust for my pizza, I make muffins with almond and coconut flour, I make “pasta” with spaghetti squash or zucchini “noodles”. Many people think that Paleo or Primal means “low carb” but it doesn’t have to! I eat tons of fruit and starchy vegetables like butternut squash and sweet potatoes. I am definitely eating carbs! And it’s funny…I’ve noticed that fruit and starchy veggies don’t spike my blood sugar like grains do. I won’t say that I’ll never eat another grain in my life…there may be a special occasion that warrants it! But since I love how I feel and love how stable my blood sugar is, it’s just not worth it to me to change back to eating a Standard American Diet.

What does a typical day of food look like to you? I’m a creature of habit, so I like to eat the same thing a lot of times.

Breakfast:  Green smoothie with fruits and veggies, a hardboiled egg, and bacon.

Lunch: a big (I mean big!) salad with grilled chicken, avocado, artichoke hearts, eggs, bacon, tomatoes, raisins, nuts, seeds, mushrooms, cucumbers, balsamic and olive oil dressing, and a nut flour muffin and fresh fruit.

Dinner: some kind of meat (pork, chicken, shellfish, beef), some kind of green vegetable (leafy greens or Brussels sprouts – usually whatever is fresh from the farmer’s market or available from our CSA bag) and some kind of starchy veggie or “grain-like” food – roasted butternut squash, acorn squash “fritters”, sweet potatoes, or maybe cauliflower “breadsticks.” I’m not really a “dessert” person, but I do drink a glass or two of red wine before dinner each night.

What is the best thing about the diet? One of the best things is that you can pretty much eat anywhere and get something that falls within the framework. When I first started, I had to go out of town for work and stay at a hotel. Of course that means eating out every meal. But you can get a big salad pretty much anywhere, and you can always ask that your “burger” or whatever be served without a bun. Of course now when I travel I plan ahead and pack snacks that can be meals: hardboiled eggs, homemade beef jerky, kale chips, homemade “larabars”, fruit, nuts, seeds, etc.

Any tips for someone getting started on this type of diet? Before I started, I bought the cookbook “Practical Paleo” by Diane Sanfilippo.  It has the most beautiful full page pictures of food and some great recipes. I bought the book and decided I would make something from it each week. Next thing I knew I had tried several new foods that my husband and I both loved, and it was easy to transition to the next step of eliminating grains. I also used many blogs on the internet – you can google any food and add the keywords “paleo” or “primal” and get tons of great recipes. Mark’s Daily Apple is another great resource for people wanting more information.

Anything in addition you’d like to say? I think some people get the wrong idea about the Paleo or Primal framework because like with all things, there are extremists out in the land of the internet. Also, depending on the source, different people have different ideas about what is “paleo” and what is not. I think that there is no black and white answer…it’s not about “what the cavemen ate,” it’s about nourishing your body with foods that you love and that help your body perform at its very best.

Thanks for sharing your insight Shelby! Perhaps your story will inspire others to seek change and gain health.

Cheers to you and good health,


Input from Crossfit Owner, Low Carber Managing his Type 1 Diabetes – @Type1CrossFit

I had the pleasure in the last year to cross paths with Eric Pelletier, thanks to social media, and am thankful to see someone also living with type 1 diabetes and not being afraid to push their themselves physically and mentally to be in the best care of their ability. Today’s post captures an interview with Eric, and can be helpful to many others looking for inspiration and understanding on adapting to a healthy lifestyle for stable blood sugars and an optimal quality of life. Thank you for your time Eric!

Please tell us a little about yourself. From your social media updates, I see you are eating rather low carb and perhaps playing with some intermittent fasting (IF)?

You are correct I am still dabbling in IF and trying to maintain ketosis regularly. I also own Type 1 CrossFit in Wheeling, IL so it makes for a badass platform!

A little bit about me? Well I was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes at 28 days old. I am 26 now. For most of my life I was spoon fed a traditional diet (Food Pyramid) and put on an insulin sliding scales to maintain blood sugar levels. As a kid and through high school I was not very athletic; bowling. I was always afraid of what would happen if I went to hard and did not know how to manage my blood sugar levels.

Fast forward a few years, I began working at Naval Station Great Lakes in the Fitness Center and in this location I was introduced to CrossFit. When I heard about it I went home and read What Is Fitness and Foundations and it was like a light bulb clicked on. I was hooked as what I was reading made so much sense. Low carbohydrate diets, coupled with high skill movements, performed in a fashion that maximized results. Yep. I was hooked. 4 years later I am currently located at 9 Huntington Lane, Wheeling, Il, 60090 with Type 1 CrossFit.

What diets or food plans have you tried to control you blood sugar, and what has been the easiest and most successful? Why?

The easiest and most successful program sits beautifully inside my Diabetes management brainchild, but it is a diet void of food allergies or sensitivities, a diet that ensures maximum insulin sensitivity, and optimizes nutrient intake. If I remove things that cause problems in blood glucose levels/are inflammatory, minimize insulin needs, and eat vitamin and mineral rich foods, I don’t see how ANY case of diabetes is hard to manage. Think about this.

You only get one or a zero. Do you eat vegetables at every meal? Do you eat protein at every meal? Do you eat fat at every meal? Do you limit carbohydrates to post workout, primarily? Have you eliminated potentially problematic foods to see what happens? If you said no to any of these things, you are not doing what you could to optimize your health.

Personally I have also played with intermittent fasting as I find it quite fun, and very good at returning insulin sensitivity after maybe a tough training cycle or a bad eating day.

When you do intense workouts, such as Crossfit, how do you stabilize your blood sugar. Do you eat before/after and what do you do with your insulin dosages?

In my gym I always have juice on hand and insulin around. For me, as long as my blood sugar is in a good range, depending on what the workout is will depend on how I take care of it. Very short couplets get a nasty spike, so I bolus pre workout. Longer (15+) get a spike and then a drop so I will pace at about 80% and make sure to test immediately after to ensure I don’t drop too bad. Strength and skill pieces cause a drop due to the lack of “balls to the wall intensity.”

When you eat or have eaten a ketogenic-like diet, how is your insulin sensitivity affected?

Eating a ketogenic diet or IF, my insulin sensitivity is amazing! Here is a beautiful analogy! Spray perfume in a room and at first you smell it really strong right? After a few minutes you lose the sensitivity to smell it. In order to re-sensitize you have to either spray MORE or leave the room. In the case of the diabetic, MORE means more insulin which leads to fat gain, heart issues, and potentially many more issues. The other option is the remove the need to produce or TAKE insulin. Absence makes the heart grow fonder, and in this case, growing fonder means increasing sensitivity  Your body doesn’t realized the potency of what it had (good or bad) until it’s gone.

Before anyone else that has type 1 diabetes attempts a ketogenic diet, what do you first recommend before jumping in? For example, move to a moderately low-carb diet, and then tinker into ketosis, etc?

Be aware, your basal needs will drop DRAMATICALLY! Your body is at a baseline requirement level in relation to the current diet you have and what you are doing. If you make a dramatic change, it only stands to reason that your insulin needs need to change as well. I notice in online communities that this idea is overlooked. If your baseline levels are running lower (hypo), doesn’t it make sense to reduces your baseline insulin? Yes. My recommendation is to first and foremost, remove some potentially problematic foods. Wheat or dairy at first, and if you are eating sugar as a regular part of your diet, and not as a requirement to maintain a normal blood sugar, address that too. Remove one thing, adjust insulin, and repeat.

Kelly: As a dietitian working with many other patients with diabetes, changes need to be adapted slowly. It’s too hard to generalize what to do on a website, as we are all coming from different places. Work with a healthcare professional when making such changes. And of course, I am always happy to help. 

As for food groups or ingredients, are there any certain things you avoid, such as gluten, soy, dairy, etc? How does the avoidance or inclusion of certain foods help manage your blood sugars?

Gluten is terrible. End of story. Dairy, even with no carbs in it (cheese) causes a huge spike. I also find that if I have a big meal with virtually no carbohydrates (save veggies) I have an automatic increase in insulin sensitivity, and by default, lower blood sugars.

Kelly: I want to also add, in case anyone with type 1 diabetes is reading this post, overall this is general information. When eating a low carb diet, which may not include many carbs per meal, you still need to cover your meal for protein can convert into sugar. Please work with your team, myself included, to assess what the best protocol is for you.

How have your labs changed since adjusting your diet to low-carb?

My labs have improved greatly. At one point in my life I have hit 11 on my A1C. Recently I was at 6.5. not too bad for a lifer with this!

Some final thoughts:

Fix your food first. Do not fall victim to the idea that exercise will fix it all. If you eat poorly so as to induce inflammation, insulin insensitivity, and lack vital nutrients, you do not need to exercise. It may actually make it all SO MUCH WORSE.

Ask yourself this, why are you eating so many carbohydrates when the result is the need for insulin. Insulin managements and blood glucose management are the hallmark of BOTH cases of Diabetes. Why would you eat in a way that induces complications to that maintenance  That’s like being allergic to bees and kicking a bee hive. Not only is it crazy to do, but it does NOTHING to improve your health.

Where to find Eric:
@Type1CrossFit (soon to be /type1crossfit)
Email: [email protected]

Fermented Foods – Probiotics – Immunity

I help many educated people with their diets, yet, very few of my clients come to me already taking probiotics. The awareness on the importance of taking probiotics or eating a diet including fermented foods is low. More than half of our immune system is in our digestive (GI) tract, which encompasses healthy bugs preventing the overgrowth of bacteria and yeasts. So what does this mean, and who should be intrigued by this information?


For most of us, our diets are low in foods with live and active cultures (yogurt, kefir, kimchi, and sauerkraut) and these foods help to maintain optimal levels of beneficial bacteria in our digestive system. If the levels of good bacteria drop, so does our immune system and we are more likely to get sick. Besides the fact we can become more susceptible to a cold/flu, an optimal level of healthy bugs in our gut also allow us to be our healthiest person.

Circa 1990s, research established probiotics can help treat several gastrointestinal illnesses, delay the development of allergies in children, and help women treat and prevent vaginal and urinary infections.

Enhancing diets with fermented foods/probiotic supplements clients can:

  • aid digestion
  • strengthen immunity
  • fight obesity (in post-par-tam women and patients who went through a weight loss surgery)
  • treat diarrhea in infants and children, specifically antibiotic associated diarrhea (please note, you never want to take a probiotic while taking an antibiotic. You want to take a probiotic immediately after the antibiotic is finished)
  • treat Crohn’s, ulcerative colitis or irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
  • enhance nutrient absorption
  • manage allergies. One study, specifically, found a relationship that when pregnant women took an probiitoc their child was less likely to have ezcema by 30%.

A physician at Johns Hopkins, Dr. Mullin, suggests the future may lie in concocting specific probiotics for people based upon their individual needs and microbiomes.

Recommendations for maintaining a healthy gut:

  • Avoid situations and events that are mentally stressful and overtly physically stressful
  • Avoid the need for antibiotics, the best you can
  • Maintain a healthy diet, and avoid irritant foods (for many this includes gluten containing grains, dairy and/or legumes)
  • Take a daily probiotic (I recommend products from Standard Process including ProSynbiotic. I have been taking their supplements including ProSynbiotic and have noticed a remarkable difference. I overall feel better, sense more ease controlling my blood sugars and have more energy)

Overall, if you are interested in adding a probiotic to your diet, understand not all supplements are equal, including probiotics. Contact a health professional to understand what supplements are most appropriate for you.

Small changes to diet and lifestyle can completely change our quality of life. Advocate for your health and seek for results. It takes 66 days for something to become a habit and 100 days to sense the results. Be patient and enjoy the journey.

Cheers to you and good health,




The Harvard Medical School Family Guide

Dotterud K, et al. Probiotics to prevent allergic disease. Brit J Dermatol, 2010

Bailey M, Dowd S. Stressor Exposure Disrupts Commensal Microbial Populations. Inf and Immun April 2010; 78(4): 1509-19

Holdeman L. Good I. Human Fecal Flora: Variation and Possible Effect of Emotional Stress. App Env Microbiol Mar 1976;21(3):369-75.