Eat Clean….and Refresh Your Life!! Part 2

by Wendy Midgley, MEd, RD, LDN, CDE and Deb Brothers-Klezmer, BSN, RN-BC, CRRN, NCTMB

“Real Food Doesn’t HAVE Ingredients…..Real Food IS Ingredients.”          -Jamie Oliver, Chef-

In EATING CLEAN Part 1, we reviewed the philosophy of “Eating Clean”.   See:

In Part 2, we offer our Top Tips for Eating Clean. In Part 3, we will review food shopping lists, meal and snack ideas, sample menu ideas, and provide an extensive reference/resource list.

Deb and Wendy’s TOP TIPS and GUIDELINES:

  1. Limit processed foods high in sodium (from salt and sodium compounds like MSG—monosodium glutamate), sugar, fat, artificial colors and dyes, artificial sweeteners, sugar alcohols, nitrites, nitrates, and other chemicals and preservatives.
  2. Read ingredient lists on packaged foods.

If the list is long with too many ingredients you can’t pronounce, stay away! Do more home cooking, use high quality ingredients.   You can even make your own protein bars and shakes.

Did you know that petroleum derivatives are an ingredient in very common and popular candies?

Artificial food dyes used for coloring,  including: Yellow 5, Yellow 6 and Red 40—are in part derived from petroleum.

Several brands contain tert-Butylhydroquinone (a petroleum derivative).

Some studies have shown that a relationship exists between artificial dyes and hyperactivity in children.    Thanks to a long-standing outcry from parents and health care folks: several popular candy brands will no longer have artificial food dyes in 5 years! European countries are way ahead of us on this and have already banned them. At least changes are in the works. (

***Not everything from a box, bag or can is bad! Examples: baby organic spinach, organic herbal teas, and organic broths.***

  1. Look for organic, non-GMO varieties of canned, boxed or packaged foods. Some are better than others. For ex: organic, gluten-free cookies may be “organic” and “gluten-free’ but are high in sugars and carbs and not particularly healthy.  On the other hand:  frozen organic vegetables, with no salt or sauce added, are a good choice.
  2. Increase Veggie Intake

“With abundant variety, vegetables can easily become the star of your plate, increasing your good health and body’s immune system.” (from: ‘SuperFoods: Eat Your Way to Health and Longevity’. National Geographic, 2015).

Vegetables are high in vitamins, minerals, fiber, anti-oxidants and phytochemicals that help fight inflammation.

Vitamin A is essential for healthy vision and immune function (e.g., carrots, sweet potatoes).

Dark green vegetables such as spinach and kale—also contain Vitamin K, which (along with Vitamin D and calcium) helps keep bones healthy.

Many vegetables contain the mineral potassium, important for blood pressure, nerve function, fluid balance, and muscle contraction.

Vegetables high in potassium: spinach, Swiss chard, beet greens, kale, mushroom, sweet potato, Brussel sprouts.

Tomatoes contain a variety of vitamins and minerals as well as the anti-oxidant lycopene. Lycopene gives tomatoes their red color.  It is believed to be healthy for skin, heart, prostate health and even bone health.

Fiber offers many benefits. It can help us feel full. It is extremely important for gastrointestinal health. It may play a role in regulating blood sugar.

           “Fiber is a fierce secret weapon.” JJ Virgin

Many veggies are low in calories, so you can eat many without worrying about weight gain.

Fresh vegetables, straight from the farm, are “clean” especially when grown in organic local gardens. (Don’t forget to wash them!)

Recommended daily veggies amounts: 2½ to 3 cups. Raw, lightly steamed or sauteed, or as ingredients in omelets, soups and stews.

Increasing veggie intake, especially from green, alkalizing veggies,  will create a better acid-alkaline balance and a better blood/body pH.

  1. Include Fruit, 2-3 servings per day

Fruit is “nature’s candy”—naturally sweet from fructose, ‘fruit sugar’. Many fruits are also rich in potassium and vitamin C–important for a healthy immune system.

Fruits are also high in health-promoting, anti-inflammatory anti-oxidants and phytochemicals (contained in colors of fruits).

Fresh fruits are whole and unprocessed.  

FROZEN, NO Sugar Added is a good alternative to fresh fruit.

NOTE: Dried fruits often contain sulfites, which some people cannot tolerate.  (Reactions reported: asthma in those prone, general respiratory issues, gastrointestinal and cardiovascular reactions, headaches, hives.)  Another issue: It is easy to eat too much! (high in sugar).

Choose whole fruit over juice, including “natural juices.” Juices raise blood sugar more quickly than whole fruit; and don’t always contain all the properties of the original fruit.

NOTES: EXCESS fruit intake of any kind can be high in sugar—for those limiting carbohydrates. A good choice: BERRIES.  All berries are low in sugar and high in anti-oxidants and fiber!

Organic is the healthier choice for many fruits and veggies–due to high pesticide residues found in commonly eaten ones. Examples: strawberries, apples, celery. Some herbs like cilantro have also been found to be high in pesticides.

In other cases, “conventional” fruit and vegetable options are “OK”, due to lower pesticide residues.

Many “OK” conventional foods are ones that need to be peeled—for ex: pineapple. We may be just eating the insides and discarding the peel or rind (like cantaloupe).  However, we should thoroughly wash the outside before making any cuts. Slicing through a dirty peel can drag germs and pesticides into a fruit or vegetable.

***WASH ALL FRUITS and VEGETABLES (organic and inorganic) before eating.***

If you are consuming a lot of vegetables and fruits, it may be wise to allot some of your budget for ORGANIC and locally grown, in-season foods.

The EWG (Environmental Worker’s Group) has composed Lists of Fruits and Veggies Best to Buy Organic,   OR “OK” to buy conventional.

DIRTY DOZEN 2016: Recommend Buy Organic (in order of highest to lowest amounts of pesticides):

#1 Strawberries: highest pesticides in this report, #2 apples. Followed  by: nectarines, peaches, celery, grapes, cherries, spinach, tomatoes, sweet bell peppers, cherry tomatoes, cucumbers. 

Also of concern:

Imported snap peas, domestic blueberries, potatoes, hot peppers, chili peppers, lettuce, kale and collard greens, imported blueberries, green beans

CLEAN 15, OK to buy Conventional (in order of cleanest. Avocado is the cleanest this year!)

Avocado, sweet corn, pineapples, cabbage, sweet peas (frozen), onions, asparagus, mangos, papayas, kiwi, eggplant, honeydew melon, grapefruit, cantaloupe, cauliflower

For more information, go to:    Currently:   50 Foods listed with pesticide analysis.

  1. Try “Eating Naked” some days! This has nothing to do with your state of dress!! Rather, it refers to the idea of eating wholesome foods in a very SIMPLE state–without extra condiments and sauces (even healthy sauces.).  Eating Naked challenges us to appreciate the subtle nuances and flavors of healthy foods au naturel. “The Art of Eating Naked”

  1. Choose more healthy fats; cut down saturated fats

Do NOT cut out all fats! We need some for health.  For ex: Essential fatty acids (like “the omega 3’s”) are important for the brain, neurological functioning and night vision.

Choose more “good fats” (like “the MUFAS”:  i.e., monounsaturated fatty acids, as in extra virgin olive oil and avocados).  Also: fatty fish like salmon, sardines, and mackerel, and a variety of nuts and seeds, like flaxseeds, chia seeds.

“Good fats” are beneficial to your heart and may help raise good HDL cholesterol.

Avoid/Limit foods high in saturated fats. High saturated fat intake is associated with increased risk of heart disease.

Foods high in saturated fats:   butter, full fat cheeses, whole milk dairy products, fatty beef, lard (from pork), many processed deli meats, gravies, ice creams, cream, Crisco, many baked goods.

Saturated fats are typically solid at room temperature.

NOTE: Although coconut and coconut oil contain 40% saturated fats, many sources consider coconut to have beneficial attributes. For a thorough review of the coconut oil question, check out Dr. Mark Hyman’s recent review at:

Trans fats (a “bad fat”, from a synthetic fat structure) have been banned in the USA for food preparation. Typically, they were used in baked goods.

If you want fat for taste and satisfaction: top your salad with nuts or olives instead of cheese, use almond butter instead of cream cheese. Replace mayonnaise with sliced or mashed avocado or hummus.  Drizzle olive oil on salads or vegetables.  Add a bit of toasted sesame seed oil to a stir-fry dish.

  1. Avoid or Reduce Alcohol

Clean up what you drink. If you choose to consume alcohol, follow the recommendations—no more than 1 drink per day for women and no more than 2 for men.

One drink = 5 ounces wine, 1½ ounces hard liquor or 12 ounces beer.

According to the Blue Zone studies: a glass of wine per daytogether with a healthy diet, exercise, and positive social relationships—may increase health and longevity. ***

BLUE ZONE diet and lifestyle tenets are very much like the Mediterranean diet and lifestyle.

Blue zone website:

Book: Buettner, Dan.  The Blue Zones: 9 Lessons for Living Longer, from the People who Have Lived the Longest.

Alcohol dehydrates you. In excess, it is not good for the liver or for your complexion, and adds excess calories. Avoid mixed drinks with lots of added sugar.

Alcohol is contraindicated with many medications, such as:  statins, opioids, benzodiazepines, barbiturates, and warfarin (Coumadin). Check with your prescribing clinician to confirm the safety of alcohol in combination with your medications.

  1. Avoid Sugar and Sugar Substitutes

Minimize sweets like soda, candy, baked goods and sugar itself.  Choose plain yogurt (vs sugar added types), add your own fresh or frozen fruit. If you buy processed foods with sugar—make sure sugar is at the bottom of the list–which means it is not a major ingredient in that food.

Know all the varied names for sugar and sugar substitutes!

SUGARS: Sugar (white, brown, raw, cane, confectioner’s), beet sugar turbinado sugar, lactose, maltose, corn syrup, high fructose corn syrup.  Excess sugar carbs can also come from molasses, maple syrup, agave syrup or nectar, rice syrup, and even honey– if consumed in excess.

SUGAR SUBSTITUTES–chemically synthesized artificial products–are known by many names.

Examples: Sucralose, Splenda, Aspartame, NutraSweet, Acesulfame K, Ace K, Sweet and Low— to name a few.

Although the FDA proclaims these safe to use, there are many documented health problems associated with some of them, Aspartame, in particular: Aspartame has been linked with migraines, chronic headaches and neurological conditions.

Beware of natural “fruit essence waters.”   Most seltzers with fruit essence flavors use NO artificial sweeteners.  But some ‘fruit waters’ may be flavored with Sucralose (Splenda).

SUGAR ALCOHOLS (note the ‘ol’ at the end of the word) are made from sugars, and in that sense, are closer to ‘a natural substance’ than are artificial sugar substitutes. In fact, our own body produces sugar alcohols in normal metabolism.  Dentists recommend chewing gum flavored with xylitol, as it is safer for teeth.

Common names for sugar alcohols: sorbitol, mannitol, glycerol, xylitol, erythritol.  Glycerine is also in the sugar alcohol family. Sugar alcohols have ~½ the calories of sugar; they don’t create a significant rise in blood sugar.   They are considered generally “SAFE.”  However, sugar alcohols can cause a variety of gastrointestinal symptoms such as : bloating, belching, gas, loose stools or diarrhea.

STEVIA: Stevia is one of the more acceptable sugar substitutes– derived from the leaf of a plant. In excess, it can leave a bitter after-taste. Truvia is a combination of stevia and erythritol.

  1. Limit Salt Intake

Excess salt (the sodium part of salt) can promote an increase in blood pressure.  It can also promote fluid retention, for those so prone.

Sodium is necessary for body processes and cellular integrity.  However, many Americans eat considerably more than the recommended LIMIT of 2,300 mg of sodium per day which is = to 1 teaspoon of salt. For those with known blood pressure and heart issues—1500 mg/day is typically recommended (~2/3 teaspoon salt).

NOTE:  The average American consumes ~ 3,400 mg sodium per day. (some folks consume much more than that) due to high intake of processed foods, fast foods, and frequency of eating out.

Most packaged foods and restaurant foods contain excess sodium.

Lighter sodium versions of SOME processed foods can be quite good, like organic “lite soups” and broths by Pacific and Imagine.

Flavor food with herbs and spices, citrus, garlic and onions.  Do not use a salt shaker at the table, at home or when out.  If you must use a little salt: sea salts, Celtic salt, and pink Himalayan salt are known for containing  healthful mineralsHowever, sodium is still present!

11. Choose whole grains (vs processed, refined grains).

Whole grains include MORE NUTRIENTS and FIBER than refined ones because the bran and germ are not removed.

***“Rotate” your choices for more nutritional variety.***  

Healthiest Grains to Choose:

The following grains, in whole form, are nutrient dense, familiar, available, and tasty. They can be used as cereals, pilafs, soups, and in vegetarian mixed dishes. (Look for ORGANIC, NON-GMO and NON-GE forms).

  • Whole Rye:   A cereal grain that contains more nutrients per 100-calorie serving than any other whole grain. 4 x more fiber than whole wheat, contains ~50 % of daily iron recommendations.
  • Quinoa: Actually a seed, (vs grain) but widely considered/used as a grain. A good choice for vegans as it contains a more complete form of protein than other seeds/grains. It is high in vitamin E and calcium, low in fat, and gluten-free.
  • Oats: Can help stabilize blood sugar if in whole, unprocessed or steel-cut form–and portion-controlled. Some sources say oat fiber can help lower cholesterol.
  • Barley: A good source of fiber, selenium, phosphorous, copper and manganese.
  • Millet: A seed. (often used as birdseed!)  A good source of manganese, phosphorus and magnesium. 
  • Brown Rice:  Grain. A good source of manganese, selenium and magnesium. Also high in fiber.
  • Buckwheat (kasha): Technically a fruit seed, but used like a grain in cooking.  A go-to on gluten-free diets.
  • Spelt: Grain. A good source of manganese, copper and zinc. This grain causes fewer sensitivities in some people who are wheat-intolerant. (However, those with celiac disease should avoid all spelt.)
  •  Whole wheat : A popular grain rich in B vitamins, vitamin E and fiber. It’s also low in fat.   (also a major source of gluten)

 Re: CORN: In our opinion, CORN is not the best grain option. Many corn crops are from farms that use genetic engineering. If you eat corn, look for organic, GMO-free sources.

 Additional grains: 

  • Amaranth
  • Bulgur (cracked wheat)
  • Farro
  • Freekeh (a green wheat made into cereals)
  • Kamut
  • Teff
  • Wheat berries

To get the most health benefits, you can grow your own whole, sprouted grains.

Recommended daily grain amounts: 2 to 6 per day depending on calorie needs.   ½ cup cooked grain or 1 oz bread are = to 1 serving.

NOTES on GLUTEN (the protein component of wheat and other grains): Those with celiac disease MUST avoid all gluten-containing grains. (Those with “gluten-sensitivity” may want to avoid gluten, or at least do a rotation diet, re: gluten-containing grains).

AVOID: ALL wheats and wheat flours, including semolina and Eikhorn wheat, wheat berries, barley, rye, spelt, farina, farrow, kamut, triticale, rye and barley. (Avoid all products made from these ingredients– or where gluten is listed on a label)     (Corn is gluten-free).

Some folks with celiac disease tolerate oats grown under gluten-free conditions (i.e., no wheat fields close by–to contaminate the oats).

ALLOWED: Amaranth, arrowroot, brown rice, wild rice, buckwheat, quinoa, tapioca starch, teff. Wild rice also allowed.

12. Eat Less Meat (beef, pork, lamb, highly processed meats, deli meats, high nitrate bacons and sausages)

Choose more fish (see recommended lists below); organic chicken and turkey.

  • Eat less meat in order to limit excess saturated fat. (saturated fats–heart health link).
  • Some meats have other troubling attributes. It is common to treat livestock with antibiotics and steroids, and raise them on corn feed—which they would not normally eat.   Some research groups believe antibiotic-treated meat is increasing antibiotic resistance in humans who eat this meat.

  • Research shows a clear and convincing link between diets high in red meat and some cancers. Red meat itself contains compounds that break down into possible carcinogens (cancer-causing chemical) when cooked at high heat.
  • Processed meats like hot dogs, bacon, sausage, and cold cuts contain nitrites and nitrates–which have been likened to increased cancer risks.
  • The IARC (International Agency for Research on Cancer) recommends limiting red meats to no more than 18 oz. per week and totally avoiding processed meats.

  • Some sources consider beef an “estrogen disrupter” (a hormonal issue).
  • If you eat meat: choose grass-fed, steroid-free beef or bison and/or free range chicken and turkeys, raised on organic feed.
  • FISH CHOICES: Seek recommended fish from sustainable fish categories. “Sustainable fish”   refers to choices best for the ecological health of the ocean, as well as acceptable food.

Examples of BEST sustainable choices: Arctic char, bass, bluefish, farmed scallops, Canadian swordfish.   GOOD choices: haddock (from Georges Bank, Atlantic Ocean), blue crab, halibut, deep sea scallops, white albacore tuna. AVOID: Atlantic cod, Canadian pollock, Atlantic farmed-raised salmon.

NOTE: Atlantic COD is on the avoid list partly due to the fact that cod has been over-fished and the stock is depleted.

For more information on sustainable fishing, see: (MA and Northeast GUIDE).

Avoid/limit some fish due to high mercury content.

Some types of tuna and swordfish may be on the best choice list of “sustainable fish”; but may be high in mercury content and should be limited to consumption 2x/week.

Atlantic cod may be acceptable for eating safely–4 servings per month–mercury-wise; but as noted above–cod is over-fished. (In New England we are asked to eat less cod to replenish the codfish population.)

For information on mercury content of common fish, see:  (EWG)

Pregnant women should avoid all HIGH mercury fish.  However, fish, in general, is still recommended as a good food and nutrient source for pregnant women and the developing fetus.

Rules of Thumb: No raw fish. No undercooked fish

Avoid:   Shellfish. High mercury fish like shark, swordfish, King mackerel, tilefish (golden or white snapper); refrigerated smoked or pickled fish that’s unpasteurized.

Tuna: No more than 6 oz per week of canned solid white or albacore tuna

DO EAT up to 12 oz cooked, low mercury fish per week. For ex: salmon, pollock, trout.    (“10 Low Mercury Fish Safe for Pregnancy”)

  • Sara Gottfried MD’s protein recommendations for helping BALANCE HORMONES: fish like cod, salmon, halibut, mackerel, sardines; free range chicken, organic eggs
  • Recommended daily protein needs/day: 60-80 grams per day. A serving of meat, fish or poultry is ~3-4 ounces cooked (size of a deck of cards). 7 oz cooked protein per day provides 49 grams protein. Smaller amounts in dairy, grains, beans and even vegetables can complete remaining protein needs.
  • Eggs:   Recent advice is that we should not worry about eggs so much. Egg yolks DO contain cholesterol. But the idea that eggs, therefore cause heart disease, is blown way out of proportion. General inflammation is of more concern.   Eggs could contribute to inflammation due to the component: pro-inflammatory arachidonic acid, an omega 6 fatty acid.    (typical in eggs from chickens fed soy and corn—not a natural diet)

Organically fed eggs– from free range chickens and “barn chickens”– have more OMEGA 3’s; and arachidonic acid is less of an issue.

EGGs DO have a place in the diet. They are high in quality protein, choline, B vitamins, Vitamin A, lutein (good for eyes), Vitamin D, potassium, folate, and calcium.

ADVICE:   Buy eggs from, chickens who are free-range, organically fed, vaccine-free. Rotate eggs in your diet; don’t have them every day. Some people have allergies and gut intolerances to them and would be better to have them only 2-3 times per week vs daily

  • Proteins for vegans who eat no animal proteins: quinoa, peas, lentils, nuts, seeds: hempseed, sunflower, sesame, nut and seed butters, chia seeds, (GMO free tempeh, tofu, edamame if soy is tolerated) leafy greens Vegans need to put time into choosing foods wisely to ensure adequate protein intake.
  • Each week, serve some plant-based meals.
    • Garnish vegetable dishes with clean proteins, such as: grilled organic chicken strips or salmon.

13. Drink enough fluid and hydrate

  • In GENERAL: Drink 8-12   8 oz cups of water/fluids per day.
  • RULE of THUMB: Take your body weight in pounds, divide by 2 for total ounces recommended. Ex: Fluids for a 150 lb person = 150 divided by 2 = 75 oz, which translates to: ~ 9.5 glasses of water/day.
  • Besides water—we consume fluids from tea, soups, smoothies, and yogurt. Those who eat more vegetables and fruits, consume more fluid automatically—as these foods contain a higher % of water.

If you don’t like water—try flavoring it with lemon, lime, and grapefruit wedges, fresh mint leaves, fresh grated ginger, cucumber slices, and/or berries. Create your own favorite combinations!   Fill a pitcher with water and chosen ingredients, keep in the fridge for a few hours or overnight. (more detailed “recipes” in Part 3). For more flavored water ideas, check out:


  • Test Well Water 1 time per year (more often, if known contaminants).

  • Tap Water Tips (see references)   (re: Brita pitchers)

For more information on how to filter your water, check out:


14.  Make Your Food Attractive!

We ENJOY our meals more when foods appeal to us!  Attractive can mean simple, cut-up “naked” apple slices, OR a “clean meal” of many rainbow colors and textures. Stay tuned for Eating Clean Part 3.

We will cover Food Shopping Tips; Meal, Snack and Menu suggestions, as well as include several “cleansing water” recipes.

“You are what you eat.  So don’t be fast, cheap, easy or FAKE!”    –Author unknown”

Be Well!  

The Wellness Shifter Ladies

Deb and Wendy








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Eat Clean…..and Refresh your Life!! Part 1

by Wendy Midgley, MEd, RD, LDN, CDE and Deb Brothers-Klezmer, BSN, RN-BC, CRRN, NCTMB

“I really regret eating healthy today.” (said or thought by no one ever!)

“EATING CLEAN” is a popular term to describe a health-promoting way of eating. It embraces a philosophy re: food choices–and how to take better care of our bodies, and our lives in general.

MOTIVATIONS to “eat clean” range from: “I feel like crap (FLC syndrome!!), “tight jeans”, “food cravings out of control”, “I want to run a 5 K”, and “I am concerned about my long-term health.”

In Part 1 of EATING CLEAN, we explore the philosophy and possible benefits of “Eating Clean”.   In Part 2, we offer practical TIPS for Eating Clean.   Part 3 provides Meal and Snack IdeasFood Shopping Guidelines,  and an extensive reference list (books, websites).

There are many “eating clean” programs–which mean different things to different people. For some folks, it may simply be a 7-21 Day CLEAN Challenge. Ideally, 21 days is just the beginning of long-term nutritional changes and improvements.

***Eating Clean is not just a diet; it is a way of eating that takes time and practice to create and sustain.***

HOW IMPORTANT is it to ‘eat clean’? We will review how, and why, it can benefit us.


Eating MORE WHOLE FOODS like vegetables, fruits, some whole grains, plus choosing healthy proteins and healthy fats.
Choosing more organic and locally grown seasonal crops
Limiting intake of GMO (genetically modified organisms) and GE (genetically engineered) foods
Avoiding/limiting HIGHLY PROCESSED packaged foods laden with refined grains, sugars, salt, unhealthy fats, chemicals, dyes, artificial sweeteners, toxins, and preservatives. For some folks, it includes avoiding foods that may trigger food intolerance reactions.

***ORGANIC: When whole foods are certified USDA Organic, they are grown under strict regulations and contain fewer toxins, chemicals and pesticides.
USDA organic: 95% free of synthetic additives like pesticides, chemical fertilizers, dyes– and NOT processed using industrial solvents, irradiation or genetic engineering. The remaining 5% of ingredients must be items on an approved list.
Many foods claim to be organic, or contain some organic ingredients, but do not have the USDA seal. Some foods ARE highly organic but did not go through the USDA regulation process; therefore, cannot use the official seal.

***GMO (genetically modified organisms) refers to organisms and genetics from other species being introduced into food crops, particular large farm crops, like soy, without the public being notified.

GE (genetic engineering) is a broader term meaning that the original genetic template of a food has been altered in some way.

WHY and How Eating Clean has Health Benefits
Scientific explanation:
1. When we eat large amounts of processed foods: we consume excess chemicals, preservatives, toxins, and additives. Our bodies are challenged to nourish us, as well as keep up with detoxification.

This creates a heavy work load. The body cannot keep up with resulting INFLAMMATORY processes. The stage is set for INFLAMMATION.

What is Inflammation?     Inflammation occurs when the body rallies to defend itself against invading germs, or to heal damaged tissue.

Inflammation, in acute situations, saves our lives by helping us fend off disease-causing bacteria, viruses and pathogens. Once the job is done, inflammation should subside.

Inflammation is only a problem when it becomes a CHRONIC state. Scientists are discovering a link between heart attacks, diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, psychiatric illness and chronic low level inflammation.

Factors promoting chronic inflammation include: genetic predisposition, smoking, hypertension, stress, and poor diet.

RESULT:  AGING and DISEASE PROCESSES are ACCELERATED.  (“Health: The Fires Within”) (“Inflamed”)

2. When we “eat clean” and less processed— we consume fewer chemicals, preservatives, dyes, toxins, and additives. The body is better able to keep up with nutrient assimilation and detoxification. There is a lower work demand.

3. When we eat more WHOLE FOODS— we consume more natural fiber and varied nutrients, as well as antioxidants and phytochemicals—which help fight INFLAMMATION. We are better able to nourish our cells. We SLOW DOWN aging and disease processes.

4. “Eating Clean” diets tend to create a better acid-alkaline balance, and a healthier blood and body pH—which promotes health. (The “modern diet” tends to be too acid-producing. Clean diets include more alkaline foods (like green veggies), and fewer acid-producing sugars—thus bringing the pH into better balance.

A less proven scientific view:
Eating Clean is more in alignment with Nature, our DNA, genetics, and life force. To the vegan and vegetarian way of thinking: plant-based diets (particularly organic and locally grown foods) offer a more refined and energized life force, with fewer dense materials and toxins to digest, assimilate, and detoxify. Many vegans and vegetarians hold the belief that plant-based diets also better serve planetary ecological systems.


EATING CLEAN may include an initial CLEANSING DIET phase, (7-21 days duration.) A CLEANSING DIET may also be referred to as a DETOX or ELIMINATION Diet. There are MANY 21 day challenge and cleansing programs. Below is an excellent SAMPLE example: See chart from (programs for young moms and women 50+)

Cleansing Diet phases and Challenges vary in strictness.
–Some programs recommend limitation/avoidance of dairy products, or choosing only small amounts of organic dairy. “Eating Dairy” is an individual matter with controversial pros/cons.   Dairy is often considered pro-inflammatory and ‘mucus-producing’. Some folks are actually allergic to dairy protein (casein) and/or are lactose-intolerant. Lactose is milk sugar.
–Some allow coffee (organic), some don’t.
–It may be recommended to omit any of the following, short-term: all alcohol, citrus, corn, dairy products, eggs, eggplant, gluten, peanuts, peppers (sweet bell-orange, green, yellow, red), Jalapeno and chili peppers, potatoes, soy, and all sugar (from all sources), tomatoes, tree nuts, wheat.

***Individual food sensitivities should always be addressed. For those with celiac disease—gluten and wheat should be avoided 100%. ***

Eating Clean ALWAYS involves drinking adequate amounts of water and healthy fluids. We need fluids to stay hydrated for normal body processes and to flush our systems from toxins.
3. Diabetes Prevention and MANAGEMENT
5. Healthier gastrointestinal tract and function, due to including adequate fluids, foods that nourish the gut, and fewer foods (less sugar) that promote bacterial imbalance and overgrowth
6. Increased immune function: easier to fight viruses, “bugs’, and harmful bacteria
7. Normalization of hormonal Imbalances
10. Better joint function; less painful joints. (due to both weight loss and anti-inflammatory dietary components).
13. In feeling clearer: more in touch with SOUL and INTUITION.
14. For some: IMPROVED SLEEP
15. BETTER DENTAL HEALTH from eating more vegetables and eating less sugar.
16. Looking and feeling healthier, skin has a better GLOW.
17. Possible improvement in auto-immune conditions aggravated by poor diet (e.g. osteo-arthritis, Rheumatoid arthritis, and neurological conditions)
18. LONG-TERM HEALTH BENEFITS and Longevity –due to diet high in anti-oxidants and phytochemicals (natural in foods), consuming fewer chemicals, preservatives, and SUGAR; and drinking adequate fluids to flush out toxins.


We will continue with TIPs,  Food Shopping Guidelines, Meals and Snack Ideas, and Clean Water Tips and Recipes  in Parts 2  and Part 3 of Eating Clean.

Part 2 coming in 2 weeks!!!!

Until then, clean out your cupboards and fridge if need be, and start stocking up on healthier food choices!

Best Health to you!  Deb and Wendy





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Reclaim Your Vitality!

by Wendy Midgley, MEd, RD, LDN, CDE & Deb Brothers-Klezmer, BSN, RN-BC, CRRN, NCTMB

Vitality:  The state of being strong, active.  Energy.   The power of giving continuance of life—present in all living things.  “Vitality” comes from the Latin root vitalis:  “absolutely necessary or important; indispensable to the continuance of life.”     –The Oxford Dictionary–

In mid-Spring, we witness the natural ABUNDANCE and RENEWAL of NATURE. After a harsh winter, it is reassuring to see plants and flowers shooting up and birds singing loudly!   REBIRTH and VITALITY surround us.

And so, it is natural to check in with ourselves regarding our personal state of VITALITY.     How are we feeling?  How ALIVE are we feeling?    If we feel “low energy” or out of balance—do not  judge ourselves.    Rather, PRACTICE SELF-COMPASSION–and INTEND to reclaim our energy and vitality.

In this BLOG we review the nature and qualities of VITALITY and how we can increase it.

***Words associated with Vitality: abundance, active,  bright eyes, endless supply, endurance,  energy, exuberance, get-up-and-go, glowing, hardy, healthy, joy, life, light, openness, pep, physically strong, power, radiance, resilience,  strength, strong life force, thriving, vibrancy, vigor,  zest***

 Many factors contribute to feelings of vitality and vigor.   True, we are born with a certain level of vital energy— that seems boundless in children!!     We see this in the young of all species—in our own puppies and kittens, for example.

What happens to this natal level of energy over the years?     We lose some vitality due to aging; yet, there are those in their 90’s, up to age 100+, who are full of vitality!  Some “natural vitality” may be “due to genetics’; but  just as important are: how we live, how we think,  how we treat ourselves and others, and the choices we make.

***NOTE:  There are natural cycles in life–when we travel through loss, grief, confusion, and “stuckness.” Our energy may feel very low during these periods.   Let that be OK (even though we may not like it at all!).   We are called upon at such times to be willing to FEEL FULLY and to nurture RESILIENCY.  Great growth can happen during these cycles.  Know that new times will come–with a return of greater energy and higher level of integration.***

 To encourage optimum vitality NOW, we need to attend to:

  • BODY/Physical Health
  • MIND: Thoughts and Emotional Patterns
  • SPIRIT/Soul: Greater Purposes in Life


  • DIET: Eat more whole foods, more veggies. Avoid highly processed foods high in chemicals and preservatives.   Do not overdo on salt, sugar, alcohol, caffeine.
  • FLUIDS: Stay adequately hydrated.   LOW hydration can lead to FATIGUE!
  • PHYSICAL ACTIVITY: Move regularly. Short walks, long hikes, gardening, yard work, sports, dance, yoga, housework, Tai chi, Chi Gong. Just 20 minutes/day of walking can offer benefits—especially if out in Nature.

***NATURE offers a cleansing, balancing, invigorating effect on the body. Being in or near water, in forests, climbing hills and mountains–can do wonders for us.***

***“Nature is fuel for the soul,” says Richard Ryan, lead author and a professor of Psychology at the University of Rochester. “Often when we feel depleted we reach for a cup of coffee, but research suggests a better way to get energized is to connect with Nature,” he says.***

  • Get enough sleep. Our bodies do the most detoxing when we sleep. It is easier to deal with life’s challenges if we are well rested and well detoxed.
  • Practice conscious breath work. “Breath-related exercises can reduce excessive stress, INCREASE VITALITY, and help us live a fuller, healthier life.” (from the book:  Free Your Breath, Free Your Life, by Dennis Lewis).
  • Attend to medical and dental needs.
  • If you’re recovering from an illness—you may require extra rest. Even “just a bad cold” may be asking you to take it easier for a while, “Re-group.” Allow for it.
  • Clear your house of toxic chemicals and molds that can sap energy.


The MIND, and the Art of COMPASSION:

“Monkey mind” and endless self-chatter are part of human nature. However, many inner conversations contain judgment of self and others, negative self-talk, and re-hashing of “same ole, same ole” thought and emotional patterns (fear, shame, doubt, anger).

Judgment and “lower level emotions” are all big “downers,” draining our energy fields.    


  1. Practice POSITIVE SELF-TALK, and engage in POSITIVE CONVERSATIONS with OTHERS. Do not dwell on the negative, even though negativity will present itself.

***NEGATIVITY DRAINS VITALITY! Vitality is, in part, a state of mind.  Choose to turn up your vitality dial!***

NATIVE Cherokee story of 2 wolves:

Grandfather said:

“My son, the battle is between two ‘wolves’ inside us all.

One is evil. It is anger, envy, jealousy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.

The other is good. It is joy, peace, love, hope serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion and faith.”

The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather:

“Which wolf wins?”

The old Cherokee simply replied:  “The one that you feed.”


2.  Practice COMPASSION and LOVING KINDNESS towards self and towards others.

Compassion = deep awareness of the suffering of others, accompanied by the wish, and the actions taken, to relieve it. The ability to love together. Requires the capability of identifying with emotional states of others (and within our own selves). Compassion may induce feelings of kindness and forgiveness. We say: he/she has a compassionate heart. 

Interrupt habitual negative mind chatter by practicing: SELF-COMPASSION, as well as COMPASSION and LOVING KINDNESS towards others. This type of practice will help shift and release emotional patterns, raising our energy and VITALITY.

Mindful SELF-COMPASSION can be learned by anyone. It’s the practice of repeatedly evoking good will toward ourselves, especially when we’re suffering—cultivating the same desire that all living beings have to live happily and free from suffering. And as the Dalai Lama says, self-compassion is the first step toward compassion for others.” —Christopher Germer, PhD, clinical psychologist–

***With SELF-COMPASSION, we give ourselves the same kind of care we’d give a good friend.”   —Kristin Neff, PhD–

***In practicing compassion, we OPEN our HEARTS.  In “low times”, it is tempting to stay invisible, with a closed heart, hiding behind the scenes.   But in being more open of heart, more allowing “of what is”, and more visiblewe help each other THRIVE.***

“Studies show that compassion improves one’s focus, enjoyment, mental and emotional vigor.  Being on either the receiving end, or the giving end of compassionate behavior, has been shown to improve one’s well-being (and feelings of vitality).    The more vitality you have, the more able you are to achieve.  If you have vitality, you have the exuberance, the physical stamina, and mental and emotional vigor to pursue your vision and mission.”


We become more compassionate in steps. Be gentle with yourself in this process,  and don’t judge that you are not progressing fast enough!

Spiritual teacher Miranda MacPherson encourages us to seek “a compassionate relaxation of the learned teachings of the mind.”   (vs “purging them” all at once!)


SPIRIT/SOUL/Living a Purposeful Life

Having a purpose–whether small or large– imbues us with more vitality!   Your purpose– right now–may be caring for children, or perhaps it is ensuring that all seniors in town get a hot meal each day.  Your purpose may be on a large-scale–such as getting water to thousands of people during crises times.  Or it may mean–simply being a beacon of Light, Kindness, and Peace every day in your neighborhood (or silently at your work site.)

***Regular meditation, prayers and/or a particular religious practice may support you on your path, and shine some light on your purpose.***

***The greater our purposes benefit others, (as well as ourselves)—-the greater the degree of vitality and energy that comes back to us full circle.***

As human beings, it is important to have our feet well-grounded on Earth– but at the same time– be open to higher consciousness levels.

Keep the flow going!!    Walk a mystical path with practical feet!!

This Chi Gong image depicts that theme:  one hand facing towards Earth, the other raised upwards towards the Heavens.  This position encourages flow and connection.

Image result for heaven and earth Qigong image

A few more tidbits to help you re-charge (in no particular order!):

    • Minimize sensory overload. Turn off TVs and put away laptops and smart phones ½ to 1 hour earlier than usual each night.
    • Seek out, and RECEIVE, various sources of care and help when you need it. It is not weak to be a recipient of caring!
    • Modify your schedule to prevent over-commitment. It is OK to say No.
    • Reframe events and situations you must deal with—as learning or strengthening experiences.
    • Minimize environmental pollens and allergens.
    • Detox your house of old cleaning supplies. Use more natural products.
    • Clean up food allergens in your diet, esp. when you know certain foods are bothering you.
    • Have your Vitamin D level checked. Very low Vitamin D levels are associated with “brain fog” and difficulty focusing, also with decreased immunity. Vitamin D supplements may help.
    • Avoid tick infested areas (and tick-borne illnesses). Yes, walk outdoors–but be mindful of woods and grassy areas. Wear white and light-colored clothing. Use tick spray if necessary. Check clothes after walking or working in the yard.  (Try natural brands of tick spray: e.g. Green Mountain of Vermont; also check internet for home recipes. There are some scents that ticks just don’t like!)
    • Exfoliate your skin.
    • Socialize with those who makes you smile and laugh
    • Spend time with babies and pets.
    • Minimize time spent with those who drain your energy. Send compassion their way; but limit your time with them.
    • Let your leptin hormone sing!! (Leptin is a protein produced by fatty tissue and believed to regulate fat storage in the body–by suppressing appetite at appropriate times. To improve leptin action—eat a low glycemic,carb-controlled diet (improving insulin response), have your thyroid checked out, and GET ENOUGH SLEEP!
    • Cuddle up with your favorite pet or person and increase your oxytocin levels.
    • Toss out or give away, at least 10 things you don’t currently need.
    • Move daily—even walking an extra 10 minutes while out shopping.

In summary, this Spring is a perfect time to re-charge our batteries and restore our vitality reservoirs. We can start by being compassionate with our own selves.  COMPASSION alone will start to raise our energy and vitality.

We leave you with these thoughts from Buddhist teachings. The “Four Immeasureables” are:  Loving Kindness, Compassion, Sympathetic Joy, Non-Attachment.   “Practice them and you will become a refreshing source of VITALITY and HAPPINESS for others.” (as well as for yourself)

Wishing you a wonderful, revitalizing Spring!

The Wellness Shifter Ladies,

Deb and Wendy



  • Reclaim Your Vitality and Presence: Sensory Awareness as a Practice for Life by Charlotte Selver
  • The Mindful Path to Self-Compassion: Freeing Yourself from Destructive Thoughts and Emotions by Christopher Germer

WEBSITES:    Christopher Germer, PhD\  Dr. Sara Gottfried refers to Dr. Pedram Shojai.

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Strategies for Spring Cleaning: Mind and Body!

by Wendy Midgley, MEd, RD, LDN, CDE and Deb Brothers-Klezmer, BSN, RN-BC, CRRN, NCTMB

Enlightenment as true health may seem unattainable for so many of us, but getting rid of the poisons that Buddha spoke of (toxic emotions) could be, from this point of view, more urgent than anything we can do at the level of food, drink, and natural cleaning products.

 Only when freed of delusion, greed, and anger–can we return to an enlightened state in which we live with the knowledge that we already have everything we need. Only this will truly stop the rampant consumption of modern life.  

 Teachings of Alejandro Junger, MD from his book CLEAN: Remove, Restore, Rejuvenate–

Spring is almost here!!!   For folks such as ourselves (in MA), THIS Spring could not come soon enough.   Record snowfalls for Boston and Worcester beat out those of Alaska this winter!

March 20th 2015 ushers in the official start of Spring, and the Vernal Equinox—when the Sun is positioned above the equator–and day and night are about equal in length all over the world. This particular March 20th also includes a powerful solar eclipse.

And leading up to March 20th, the Earth has been blasted with intense geomagnetic activity from solar storms and solar flares (from active Sun spots).   Such solar energy can affect GPS devices and radio signals, as well as human beings who are sensitive to electromagnetic energy.

Another notable day this March is World Water Day March 22nd.  This day (EVERY March 22nd) was created by the United Nations in 1993. It is a day to celebrate water and to shine a spotlight on global water issues around the world.

                                             Water free to flow

***The human adult body is ~ 60% water and water is VITAL to our lives.***

SPRING invites us to review:

  • What NEW ASPECTS are needed for ourselves?
  • What “needs to go?”

 With the MANY powerful energies available this March—we are provided with perfect recipes and catalysts for initiating BIG changes. Symbols of new growth and creative opportunities abound!!

***Why not harness these energies and make some changes?***  

***Re-group, clean out ‘the sludge’, re-calibrate, push the RE-SET button, and RESTORE health and well-being.***

***CLEAN OUT old ways of thinking…… as well as CLEAN UP what we eat and drink.***

If your diet has not been perfect this winter, and you have not moved or exercised enough–you are not alone. If you have felt “bah humbug” too many days, no self-judgment!     Intend to begin again.



 –Practice Conscious Breathing. Breathe IN a thought, feeling, color, word or image that makes you feel good. Hold the breath for a minimum of 1-2 seconds to allow for oxygen and carbon dioxide to exchange.

 –Breathe OUT that which no longer fits who you currently are. (make sure your exhalation is longer time than your inhalation.)

–Observe any negative thoughts that may arise, with non-judgment. RATHER: Focus on what you are grateful for, what is pulling you in positive directions, what thoughts make your energy rise, light up,  and EXPAND (vs contract.)

Step out of DRAMA!   At home and at work. You can watch the show, but not be part of it.   Drama keeps us “fixed” and distracts us from moving ahead in life.   Protect your personal space. Press your DRAMA DELETE BUTTON!

 –If you are caught up in your own personal (inner self) drama “loops” and “triggers”, allow yourself 15 minutes per day to fully moan and groan (to yourself) about whatever bothers you. Then move on.

Clean out closets,  clean up clutter. Donate books, clean clothing,  and small appliances that work.  There are many “drive-up drop boxes” on major roads, available for books and clothing.


Review your prescribed and over the counter (OTC) medications, as well as nutritional and herbal supplements, with your MD or health care provider. Maybe it’s time for a modification.

CONSUME ADEQUATE FLUIDS. Stay hydrated!   Keeping in mind we are 60% water:   Fluids keep everything moving in our bodies (blood, lymph, nutrients, detox chemicals, tears, urine). Water provides the milieu for flushing out toxins.

Water and fluid needs vary from person to person. They also vary within the same person, depending on time or year, cold or hot temperatures, exercise, sweating, pregnancy, lactation, illness or disease.

A “common Rule of Thumb”:  Drink 6-8 cups (8 oz each) of fluids/day.

The Mayo Clinic recommends MORE:

  • AVERAGE MAN: 13 cups fluids per day (3 quarts plus 1 cup—or 3+ liter
  • AVERAGE WOMAN: 9 cups per day (2 quarts plus 1 cup—or 2+ liters)

Mayo Clinic also reminds us: on rare occasions, some folks drink too much water–which can affect electrolyte (sodium/potassium) balance.


  • If you eat a lot of leafy veggies, fruits, and soups:   you will increase your fluid intake.
  • Excess caffeine and alcohol intake can lead to dehydration and loss of nutrients.

MOVEMENT:  MOVE MORE in general.

Go outside, bundle up if still chilly. If you live in a warm area, work in your garden, do some yard work, play golf, swim, OR just walk more around the neighborhood.  Think about a new walking program or exercise class you may want to take.  Then take an action step towards that goal.


Recommendations for the average adult:  7-8 hours quality sleep per night.  Sleep needs vary amongst individuals.   Some people find they need less sleep in summer when more energizing sunlight hours are available.

If you have serious sleep issues: you may want to consult with a Sleep Disorder Specialist.   The quality of our sleep affects our health and our whole life!

RELAX!     What works for you?   Possibilities: Meditation, quiet time,  conscious breathing, getting lost in a good book, cooking, music, being in the garden, yoga or Tai Chi, getting in the hot tub? Swimming or boating. Hiking or biking in the countryside. Sitting near ocean or stream–listening to the movement of water. There are many options.

Pick 2-3 and EN-JOY them regularly.

Do something CREATIVE.

What “something new” could you try? A new hobby, day trips to favorite places, a new project that will benefit others,  as well as yourself.


As Dr. Junger explains in his book CLEAN–we need to remove foods and substances that aggravate our health and restore our intestinal balance and overall systems health– in order to feel rejuvenated again. It is possible!

–Clean out the refrigerator, freezer and cupboards of highly processed foods laden with flour, salt, sugars, and fats.    If items have old shelf dates, toss them out for sure. (Some sources say we shouldn’t even keep dried spices for more than 6 months!)

–Make space for MORE vegetables, fruits and organic products. Create room in the freezer as well as the refrigerator.

–If you like meats and animal products: buy free-range chicken, wild caught fish, and meats from grass-fed cows. Most of these options are now available at large chain supermarkets. (as well as places like Whole Foods Market)

–If you think dairy products and processed wheat items may bother your intestines–do a trial period of 2-3 weeks dairy-free and gluten-free.

Besides DAIRY and GLUTEN: common allergens/food sensitivities include EGGS, CORN, SOY, PEANUTS, and TREE NUTS. Individual allergies may include fish, shellfish, beans/legumes, sesame seeds/tahini, or even a particular fruit or specific vegetables. Some experts list SUGAR as a possible allergen.

For a good GUIDE to a trial ELIMINATION DIET: we suggest JJ Virgin’s books: The VIRGIN DIET and JJ Virgin’s Sugar Impact Diet (cookbooks available, too.)   Food Plans and Shopping LISTs are included in her books. Also check out her website:   Tips, Videos, Books and more.

–Some folks with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)–particularly symptoms such as gas, loose stools, cramping, abdominal pain)–may find benefit with a LOW FODMAPS diet.   With IBS–some common, otherwise healthy vegetables, (such as garlic and onion) may be major culprits in creating discomfort.

SEE: Kate Scarlata, RD’s BLOG and website for great ideas:

You may also want to check out the work of one of the following Health and Nutrition specialists.   Find a plan you resonate with, and use it as a guide.

  • Joel Fuhrman. NEW book: Eat to Live: 200 Delicious Nutrient-Rich Recipes for Fast and Sustained Weight Loss, Reversing Disease, and Lifelong Health. His 2014 book: The End of Dieting, How to Live for Life.   website:

 His focus is plant-based nutrition.   He does incorporate small amounts of meats, fish and poultry–for those who want/need these items.

But he believes most of us should focus on MORE vegetables. A HEALTHY vegetarian diet keeps us more alkaline (vs acidic.) Acid states are associated with increased inflammation and disease.

Dr. Fuhrman also has created a quality rating system, on a scale of 0-1000, for vegetables and other healthy (as well as not so healthy) foods. At the very top of this list is KALE (1000 score)  followed by COLLARD GREENS. At the bottom is cola (-0-, the lowest score), and corn chips (almost at the bottom).

  • Mark Hyman, MD  Numerous books. The Blood Sugar Solution: The UltraHealthy Program for Losing Weight, and accompanying cookbook:  The Blood Sugar Solution 10 Day Detox Diet Cookbook (and accompanying cookbook with more than 150 recipes). Also check out:
  • Kathy Madonna Swift. (Functional Medicine/Integrated Medicine dietitian) See her book: The Inside Tract: Your Good Gut Guide to Great Gastrointestinal Health) written with Gerard Mullin, MD, and her most recent book: The Swift Diet: 4 Weeks to Mend the Belly, Lose the Weight, and Get Rid of the Bloat.
  • If you want to follow a TOTALLY GRAIN-FREE DIET (also totally gluten-free) we suggest Diane Sanfilippo’s book: Practical Paleo: A Customized Approach to Health and A Whole Foods Lifestyle;  and her website:

 NOTE: Some people want to follow a deep cleansing, detox type diet–which CAN set the foundation for better eating and long-term health changes, long run. But if the approach is very severe and restrictive–and you are taking a number of medications or have serious health issues–be sure to consult your MD or personal care practitioner first.

***We can clean up our insides by EATING a HEALTHY DIET ON A REGULAR BASIS—the best cleansing diet of all!***

We leave you with these ideas for Healthy MEAL CHOICES and snacks.


  • Gluten-free hot and cold cereals: such as gluten-free oats with berries and chopped walnuts or almonds; gluten-free quinoa flakes, 100% rice krispies or rice chex, buckwheat flakes or cream of buckwheat.  Almond milk, coconut milk, or rice milk.  Fruit like blueberries, other berries
  • Organic yogurt with mixed berries 1-3x/week
  • Gluten-free toast or English muffin with almond butter of sunflower seed butter.
  • Organic eggs with spinach, peppers and/or other veggies, organic cheese (or no cheese)
  • A “green shake” made with with chopped up spinach or kale, berries, chia seeds, and almond milk
  • Leftover dinner foods: veggies and “clean proteins”


  • Rice bowl with veggies, chicken or shrimp
  • Tuna salad (no more than 2x/week–due to mercury)
  • Gluten-free pasta with chopped tomatoes, olive oil, fresh basil, pine nuts,  plus side of veggies
  • Quinoa sautéed with red pepper slices. Add pine nuts. Serve with grilled fish or chicken
  • Home-made turkey and black bean chili
  • Home-made stuffed peppers
  • Home-made soups and stews—with lots of vegetables
  • Large salads with spinach, baby kale, tomato, cukes, red onions, variety of other vegetables of your choice; 1 hard boiled egg or chicken or turkey or grilled fish for protein   Vinaigrette, or lemon and olive oil and herb dressing.

***Incorporate more FERMENTED items like sauerkraut, tempeh, and kimchi in your diet. Fermented foods provide digestive health benefits.***


  • Fresh fruit–especially the berries (blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, black raspberries) and local fruits in season.  (Best to buy organic berries.)
  • A few rice crackers with almond butter or other nut butter
  • Mini green shake: variety of green veggies and some fruit
  • 10-20 nuts
  • Kefir beverage
  • Small portion of leftover lunch or dinner food


  • SMALL STEPS, practiced regularly, can turn into long term habit changes.
  • Choose 1-2 areas to work on–most important to you–and make an ACTION PLAN.
  • Assess (honestly): What is my CONFIDENCE LEVEL to carry this action plan to completion?

YOUR confidence level NEEDS TO BE at least 7 out of 10. If lower than 7, re-write the plan to be more realistic. An individualized approach is KEY.

PERMANENT CHANGES TAKE TIME and continued practice.

It is likely that it will take at least 2-8 months FOR CHANGES TO BE more AUTOMATIC. So stay with it!.

Recommended book by James Clear: Transform Your Habits: The Science of How to Stick to Good Habits and Break Bad Ones. website:

Huffinton post article:

“The only way to get to (day) 500 is to start with day 1. So forget about the number and focus on doing the work.”      –James Clear–


We wish you an abundant, in-the-flow Spring , in all aspects of your Life!

Deb and Wendy

The Wellness Shifter Ladies 




(Breathe to Relax offers a portable stress management tool.)


  • (BOOK) Body Ecology by Donna Gates.

Excellent resource for gastrointestinal healing; practical suggestions for those who want to incorporate more naturally fermented foods in their diets






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Uplifting the Heart…..The POWER of POSITIVE Emotions, Feelings, and Words

by Wendy Midgley, MEd, RD, LDN, CDE and Deb Brothers-Klezmer, BSN, RN-BC, CRRN, NCTMB

“Hard words cannot touch a soft heart, but soft words can touch a hard heart. So choose carefully how you decide to speak to others.”  –Mufti—

In February—the month of Valentine’s Day and American Heart month—we share our thoughts for enhancing our heart’s well-being:  physically , as well as spiritually and emotionally.

The heart is a magnificent organ, vital to human and animal Life on this planet.   The physical heart is an exquisite pump, circulating oxygen and nutrients to all cells.  It is also a major communicator with the brain, contributing to its proper functioning.    The heart can flutter; it can hurt; it can skip a beat.   The heart can be monitored, scanned, and catheterized!

For centuries, the heart has been considered a seat of Love and Gratitude and of strong feeling states.  Cultures all around the world frequently place one or both hands on the heart when talking about someone or something that touches them deeply.  Just an image of a hand on the heart can send this message.

***Words, emotions and feelings can profoundly affect the condition of our hearts.***

Spiritual teachers discuss the heart’s constant, often quiet guidance—always there—should we choose to tune in.   For some folks– the heart is their special place for tapping into Intuition, Wisdom, and deep Inner Knowing.  The heart seems to have its own “mind”, its own brain.

***What does your heart tell you?   Sink deeply into your heart and ask it questions regarding important matters.***          

Although much is known about the heart, it also remains a Mystery in many ways! The heart is powerful beyond measure.

Those who are gifted to see “energy  fields” can view “light streams” and patterns emanating from a person’s  heart center–as well as from the entire body. Some of us may not see these “fields” but we often feel or sense them!  Leading edge scientists have been studying “the electromagnetic fields of the heart” (illustrated in this depiction below):

The Heart Has Its Own 'Brain' and Consciousness   “The Heart Has its Own Brain and Consciousness.”  IMAGE by by Rollin McCraty, Ph.D., Raymond Trevor Bradley, Ph.D. and Dana Tomasino, BA 



A research group called HeartMath has coined the phrase PSYCHO-PHYSIOLOGICAL COHERENCE– a state of optimal function–in regard to the heart.


Earlier CORRELATION studies have linked states of chronic anger and rage with increased incidence of heart attacks and heart disease in general.

HeartMath researchers demonstrate more specifically and scientifically how prolonged “negative emotions” can affect the heart adversely; whereas, more steady positive emotions create a more coherent heart wave rhythm.  

Our sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems are meant to work in tandem, in dynamic fashion, balancing each other. In states of chronic anger, rage, frustration and anxiety (fear), harmony does not exist. The top graph shows a person in a state of high stress—FRUSTRATION.   The bottom graph depicts a person feeling a more peaceful state–APPRECIATION.


(Note: in re: to coherence.   Two peoples’ ECG graphs ( EKGs) may look very similar—but COHERENCE graphs may differ significantly–depending on the prolonged emotions being experienced. COHERENCE graphs are depicting the difference in heart wave variability re: different types of emotions.)

HeartMath’s intervention and healing tools’ focus on “the INTENTIONAL GENERATION of a HEARTFELT POSITIVE EMOTIONAL STATE. Positive emotions appear to excite the system at its natural resonant frequency and thus enable coherence to emerge and to be maintained naturally.”  

***Breathing techniques can help— but KEY is the HEARTFELT POSITIVE EMOTIONAL STATE.***

The resulting PSYCHO-PHYSIOLOGICAL COHERENCE is characterized by increased order and harmony in both our psychological (mental and emotional) and physiological (bodily) processes. Our body and brain work better, we feel better, and we perform better.


How can we translate this research into DAILY CARE of the HEART?   In addition to the usual diet and lifestyle recommendations–we speak to the POWER of emotions, feelings and our choice of WORDS.


  • Eat well, and follow an ANTI-INFLAMMATORY diet. An anti-inflammatory diet is good for the entire body. INFLAMMATION is behind a large percentage of heart disease. See our POST: the-body/

  • Taking supplements such as a basic multivitamin/mineral containing all “the B’s” may be helpful.   Some cardiologists find that heart patients are low in the mineral magnesium.   A magnesium supplement of up to 320 mg (females) and up to 420 mg (males) per day may be recommended.

  • Drink plenty of water and fluids: 7-8+ cups/day
  • Exercise and move regularly.
  • Practice conscious breathing for relaxation.
  • Get enough rest and sleep.
  • Relax in whatever ways work for you. Meditation, prayer, “getting lost” in a favorite activity.

***VERY IMPORTANT:   RELEASE OLD EMOTIONAL PATTERNS that RE-PLAY and RE-PLAY. Learn what your triggers are and respond in a new way.***  Chronic stress and states of irritation and anger, rage, and fear cause the body to release increased adrenaline and cortisol–which are taxing on the heart. Get professional help with this if you need to in releasing negative emotions and patterns.

  • Have FUN. EN-JOY!


  • Choose POSITIVE WORDS to say to self and others. POSITIVE WORDS have a HIGHER VIBRATION and can UPLIFT us.   POSITIVE WORDS can move us into HIGHER FEELING states (e.g., Peace, Love, Joy, Compassion, Gratitude) which always vibrate higher.

***Saying positive words often–With a LOVING HEART–leads to more positive emotions and feelings—with results of a happier more coherent heart rhythm. ***

***Choose to say “negative words” less often! Forgive yourself if you say them sometimes.!***

Examples of positive words include:


                  ***How do you feel when you say these words?***

See the following link for over 1, 057 positive words!!!   A-Z!:

Just looking through this list can make us feel better!!  And perhaps you have a few words to add to the list!



“Don’t fight your negative thinking. Build a new model. Build your positive thinking by incorporating positive words into your awareness and your negative thinking will become obsolete.”    –Buckminster Fuller– 

Wishing you a happy, healthy, coherent heart!

The Wellness Shifter Ladies,

Deb and Wendy




  • The Emotion Code: How to Release Trapped Emotions for Abundant Health, Love and Happiness by Bradley Nelson
  • Words That Matter: A Little Book of Life Lessons –The Oprah Magazine—



See our previous posts for more on the nature of the heart— and fun tidbits about chocolate and the heart on

ALSO check out:



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Clean Up Your Eating Plan……Get Inspired…..Nourish your WHOLE SELF!!

by Wendy Midgley, MEd, RD, LDN, CDE and Deb Brothers-Klezmer,  BSN, RN-BC, CRRN, NCTMB

“If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude”. -Maya Angelou

Holidays behind, mid-January is a great time to fire up those intentions, if we haven’t already.  Or kick them up a notch, if we have already started!

In Massachusetts, we recently experienced the inauguration of our new Governor and Lieutenant Governor. Regardless of which party one supports:  we are INSPIRED with their CLEAR MESSAGE of:

  1. COMMIT to the NEW
  2. Roll up your sleeves, Dig in, and do FOCUSED WORK (Take Action)! 
  3. PARTNERSHIP (Engage in meaningful work with others, as well as with your best self!)

The word inauguration typically applies to Politics. But INAUGURATE also means: “to bring about the beginning of, to dedicate ceremoniously, and to observe formally the beginning of”.

***Why not INAUGURATE OURSELVES into a NEW CHAPTER and a HIGHER ORDER…..into the best NEW YOU?***

                           What inspirations are seeking to emerge?

                           Turn these INSPIRATIONS  into INTENTIONS.

 Instead of feeling “blue” or confined this winter season, we can make small changes NOW that lead to BIG SHIFTS by Spring!

  • Write down clearly what you want and WHAT YOU INTEND.
  • 1 to 2 small steps can be enough to raise our energy and lift our spirits! 
  • Look at yourself in the mirror and declare it so!



In the NUTRITION arena:

  1. Clean up your way of eating.   Cook more home-made meals, freeze extras in individual containers. Make delicious home-made soups and stews. (A soup recipe is included at end of BLOG. SOUP RECIPE Websites are included under REFERENCES)
  2. Clean out the fridge, kitchen cabinets and cupboards, Toss out “junk food,” unhealthy processed items, old spices and condiments, as well as mystery foods in the refrigerator and freezer. OPEN SPACE for new healthy foods.
  3. Stock healthy food items such as: fresh and frozen vegetables, whole grains, fruits including frozen berries and in-season citrus fruits, local apples; organic chicken and turkey, grass-fed beef, organic eggs, organic soup stocks, nuts and nuts butters, beans and lentils, organic protein powders, low-fat dairy products,  organic coconut and almond milks, natural herbs and flavorings.
  4. Drink plenty of fluids even if you don’t feel as thirsty as in hot weather. Include water, herbal and decaf teas, soups, vegetable juices, low-calorie almond and coconut milks, coconut water,  yogurt and yogurt beverages. Diets high in vegetables, especially green leafy vegetables, naturally include more fluid.

***Cleaning up our food choices results in cleaning up and cleaning out our insides–which results in numerous benefits:  better energy, weight loss, clearer thinking, increased immunity, improved sleeping.  ***

FOR more CLEANING up your NUTRITION ideas, check out:

  • JJ Virgin’s website . FREE website offers. BOOKS to purchase: The Virgin Diet, Sugar Impact Diet, and The Virgin Diet Cookbook. Focus: food sensitivities, healthy diet, weight loss, recipes.
  • THINspired. Book by Maria Schiavocampo. Healthy weight loss, tips on how to stop eating the trigger foods that derail us.
  • Dr. Oz’s Total 10 Plan. Points include: smaller meals/snacks throughout day. FOOD LIST includes lots of veggies, vegetable broths, some fruits, healthy snacks like kale and zucchini chips, roasted cauliflower and chickpeas. A good protein source at each meal. Recipes provided. Elimination of sugar, dairy, alcohol, processed foods. OK 1 cup regular coffee.  Don’t eat after 8 PM.


  1. Get plenty of rest and sleep. Take “cat naps”– if that suits you and you have time.

***Give in to planned relaxation and times of “taking it easy”. Make friends with Winter and hibernate a bit like the animals and vegetation!**

2. As well as rest: Stay Active by bundling up and taking walks outdoors, or bundling up and going to the gym! OR:  Put on your favorite exercise or yoga DVD and do your physical activity at home.

3. Take a Day Trip or Mini-Vacation to a new destination.

4.  Read a good book that INSPIRES, entertains and/or fascinates you!

5.  Meditate, pray, dream, enjoy quiet times.

6.  Listen to uplifting music. Light candles or diffuse aromatherapy into your home.

7.  Volunteer at a soup kitchen, for elderly or child services or other programs.


CLEANING out Storage areas:

  1. Clean out closets, bureaus, cupboards, shelves, and cabinets of old unnecessary “stuff!”
  2. Venture into the cellar (or garage or attic, if not too cold) and assess WHAT CAN GO! 

What do you really never wear? What books will you likely never read again? Will you ever use that old exercycle again?  Do you really need all those decorations and knick-knacks?

3.  Donate items (clean and in good shape).   Most towns have DROP BOXES for CLOTHING as well as for BOOKS.   You can also donate to favorite charities. For certain items and bulk pick-ups, organizations like GOOD WILL may come to your house to take it away. Here are 3 websites for information re: pick-up services:


A yummy soup recipes for you, Bon Appetit!

Turkey Italian Sausage and Vegetable Soup

 Prep time: 30 minutes;   Total time: 1 hour and 30 minutes. Serves: 6


  • 16 oz package of Sweet Italian Sausage (can also use turkey and chicken sausage; organic best)
  • 1 Tablespoon of olive oil
  • 2 large carrots cut into ¼ “ thick half moons, ~ 1.5 cups
  • 2 medium zucchinis cut into 1/4” thick half moons, ~1.5 cups
  • 4 celery stalks cut ¼” thick, ~1.5 cups
  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped medium, ~1.5 cups
  • 2 garlic cloves chopped fine
  • 14.5 oz can of diced tomatoes
  • 32 oz chicken or vegetable stock
  • 1 Tablespoon of thyme spice
  • ¼ cup orzo pasta (optional)
  • 2 cups fresh spinach
  • Salt and pepper
  • Freshly grated parmesan cheese for topping (optional)


  1. In a heavy bottom pot, heat 1 T. olive oil over medium high heat.  Add in the whole sausages and brown the outside ~ 5 minutes, turning every minute. Put the sausages aside on a plate.
  2. In the oil, add in the carrots, zucchini, celery and onions. Add in 1 teaspoon of salt and 1 teaspoon pepper (pepper to taste) . Cook over medium heat, scraping up any brown bits from the sausage on the bottom of the pot and stirring occasionally. Cook until onions turn translucent, about 10 minutes.
  3. While vegetables are cooking, slice the sausages a little more than ¼ “ thick. It is OK if they are still pink in the middle, they will continue cooking in the soup.
  4. When the onions have turned translucent and the vegetables have cooked through, add in the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Then add in the can of diced tomatoes, soup stock, sliced sausages and 1 Tablespoon of thyme. Cook over low heat, uncovered for 40 minutes.
  5. After the soup has cooked for 40 minutes, add in ¼ cup of orzo (optional). Stir and continue cooking for 15 minutes, uncovered.
  6. After the orzo had cooked for 15 minutes, add in 2 big handfuls of fresh spinach, stir to combine.
  7. Taste to see if it needs more salt and pepper.   (Depending on how spicy the sausages are–you will need more or less pepper.)
  8. Take the soup off heat and allow to sit for 5 minutes. After the soup has rested for 5 minutes– serve it topped with fresh parmesan cheese.
  9. Will keep in an air-tight container for 1 week in the fridge. Can be frozen for up to 6 months.

 NOTES:   Can be cooked in a slow cooker (see website below for more details.)

For gluten-free: leave out orzo,  or use ¼ cup rice instead. For low carbs: leave out both orzo and rice, and no other types of pasta either!


6 servings:   1 serving contains: 381 calories, 23 grams of carbs, 23 grams of protein,   22 grams of fat


“Being a positive thinker is not about ignoring reality in favor of aspirational thoughts. It is more about taking a proactive approach to your life, looking for effective ways to resolve conflict and coming up with creative solutions to problems.”    from “How to Become a Positive Thinker”  –Kendra Cherry

“Just Do It!!!   –Nike–


This Winter–NOURISH your WHOLE SELF: Body, Mind,  and Spirit!

Warm wishes to everyone,

The Wellness Shifter Ladies,

 Deb and Wendy




BOOKS on Whole Foods, “Clean” Eating:

  • CLEAN:  A Revolutionary Program to Restore the Body’s Natural Ability to Heal Itself by Alejandro Junger, MD.
  • CLEAN EATS.  Recipe book by Alejandro Junger, MD
  • Naked Calories by Mira Calton,  CN and Jayson Calton, PhD  (their focus: a whole foods diet is high in microminerals–which help promote both overall health and weight loss).
  • The Inside Tract:  Your Good Gut Guide to Great Digestive Health by Gerard Mullin, MD and Kathy Madonna Swift, RD
  • The Swift Diet:  4 Weeks to Mend the Belly, Lose the Weight and Get Rid of Bloat by Kathy Madonna Swift, RD
  • Whole:  Rethinking the Science of Nutrition by T. Colin Campbell, PhD


  • First Thing Every Morning.   a 2015 Calendar by Lewis Timberlake
  • How Rich People Think (book) by Steve Siebold   (how thoughts matter in attracting abundance)
  • Inspiration:  365 Days a Year  (book) by Zig Ziglar
  • Quote Me:  World’s Most Inspiring Words (book of inspirational quotes from famous people around the world)  by Uplifting Publications





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Wishing You a Happy, Healthy and Abundant 2015!

by Wendy Midgley, MEd, RD, LDN, CDE and Deb Brothers-Klezmer, BSN, RN-BC, CRRN, NCTMB

“Let us define something in 2015 that we will move toward with great force, skill and excellence. Let us seek to master something once more and we will find more flow, joy and power.”   by Brendan Burchard, author of The Motivation Manifesto

 As 2014 leaves and 2015 arrives, it is a perfect time to press “the RE-SET button” and create something NEW! Whether 2014 was “a great year,” “a mixed bag year”, or a “not so good a year”– we are all invited to re-envision our lives.

2015, in numerology circles, is “a number 8 year.”   The number 8 is described as one of Abundance, Infinite Possibility and Freedom.   Whether one believes in this or not, why not align oneself with these qualities!!??

And remember that ABUNDANCE is more than $$$.   When we notice the abundance that is all around us in Nature and in human hearts—we can more easily enter the Flow, and attract more of what we are seeking.

New Year’s Resolutions do not always “agree with us” because many of us have made them before and didn’t carry through on them!   However, we can always wipe our slates clean and start fresh.

In practicing new habits on a consistent basis, we create upgraded NEURO-WIRING in the brain that will help us sustain our new life patterns.

***Wouldn’t it be FREE-ING to go to a totally ‘neutral space’ and write a brand new chapter? ***


According to MJ Ryan, we can always start again and create a new pattern. She describes how to make peace with our brain’s wiring in her book: THIS YEAR I WILL: How to Finally Change a Habit, Keep a Resolution, or Make a Dream Come True.

Change experts agree that it is best to go for 1-2 small changes at a time.  Small changes can lead to BIG CHANGES over time.

“People can make remarkable changes in their lives by taking ONE SMALL STEP at a time. The day-to-day choices you make influence whether you maintain vitality as you age and develop (or don’t develop) life-shortening illnesses and disabling conditions like heart disease, diabetes, and high blood pressure.” –Harvard Medical School Report: Simple Changes, Big Rewards

BE SPECIFIC with your goal, BE REALISTIC, SET a PLAN. EXPECT SETBACKS and get back on track as soon as possible.

***SPECIFIC GOALS are more likely to lead to a change than are vague goals.***

                                  ***WRITE DOWN YOUR GOALS.***

***Creating a new chapter in life REQUIRES CHANGE, and an ALLOWING for the discomfort that typically accompanies the change process.***

***Sometimes during periods of inertia–we just have to get ourselves moving with 1 small change! Maybe take a class for simple FUN!   And then, more will come to us. ***

“I never saw a man who was good at making excuses who was good at anything else!”—Ben Franklin

“He who doesn’t move his feet will not fall. But he will also not move forward.” Gonzalo Arzuaga


In order to change: we need to feel a certain level of MOTIVATION. Many people say “I am just not motivated anymore.”   But we can all find SOMETHING that inspires us, that is asking for our attention, that is nudging us to share with others.   Just noticing WHAT LIGHTS US UP—can help us feel more motivated to take action. Action itself can create more motivation–which leads to another round of action.

Brendan Burchard addresses the MOTIVATION subject eloquently in his new bestseller: The Motivation Manifesto.   He describes how the soul really longs for MASTERY, whether our personalities think we are “retired” or not!

*** “Happiness lies not in the mere possession of money; it lies in the Joy of achievement, in the thrill of creative effort.”   –Franklin D. Roosevelt at his 1st Inaugural Address

To be motivated, there needs to be an inner drive, impulse, or intention that causes a person to act or move in a certain way. We need to have an incentive or a goal in mind.



What if you feel stuck and unclear re: what you are motivated to do, to move towards, or be?   You may feel your motivation has gone on permanent vacation!

Bring motivation back by noticing what LIGHTS YOU UP and INSPIRES YOU. What raises your energy? Commit to noticing these things.

For more focus: complete the following sentence—filling in words with whatever comes to mind:

I want::____________________________________________.

For example: I want to feel better physically, have more energy, feel happier, have more money, take more trips, lose weight, eat better, drink more water, drink less alcohol, complain less, give more compliments, sleep better, make new friends, be more accepting, get a new job, write a book, and so on…. It could be as simple as “I want Peace.”    Start with a blank piece of paper and write down whatever comes to mind in completing this sentence.

Some folks find it helpful to look at a Wheel of Life Chart in checking in with themselves. Many versions of this chart exist. LIFE ASPECTS include: Health and Well-Being, Relationships (family and friends), Significant other/Romance, Work/Career; Financial well-being; Relaxation and leisure /play; Spirituality,   and Community/Global service/Connectivity. We have included a chart by life coach Angus McLeod.

Wheel of Life      Check out Angus McLeod’s website for more information!

NOTE: What constitutes a BALANCED wheel of life varies from person to person, as each of us is unique.

If the Wheel of Life isn’t helpful, try a more simple approach, by reviewing how you are feeling physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.


  • Do I need more consistent physical activity?
  • Does my body want more water?
  • Do I need to clean up my diet: eat more greens, more organic, less sugar, fewer processed foods?
  • Do I need to work on my sleep habits?
  • Is it time for a vision exam or dental cleaning?


  • How is my overall attitude about Life?
  • Am I more optimistic than pessimistic?
  • What are my thought processes about conflicts or obstacles?
  • Can I reframe thoughts about troubling events into more manageable perspectives?


  • Am I in touch with my emotions,  or do I suppress them?  OR the opposite:
  • Am I overly reactive emotionally?
  • Do I repeatedly replay “old emotions” and “old tapes” when triggered by certain events or people? If so, maybe it is time to release some old patterns!!!   (DELETE, DELETE!!)

“I release all things from the past year (YEARS!) that have caused any negative attachment. I prepare and welcome new changes, new adventures, and new lessons. I welcome new opportunities to grow emotionally, mentally and spiritually.” –Author unknown.


  • Am I in touch with something, or a Source, much greater than my usual self?
  • How can I nurture an expanded state?   (e.g.: being in Nature, prayer/meditation, participating in activities where time disappears!)

To summarize our thoughts and processes here, we quote Brendan Burchard one more time, sharing his 5 Rules for the Game of LIFE:

  1. Have vision for your life.
  2. Believe in your ability to figure things out.
  3. Have fun making your dreams happen no matter how hard it gets…
  4. Be patient, but always persistent.
  5. Respect and love other people who are also playing this game of life.


We wish you the ability to combine and recombine existing internal circuits (knowledge, memories, skills) with NEW internal circuits (intuition, insights, and NEW CHOICES)— to create a year that serves you well, and provides you with abundant energy to chase your dreams!

Happy, healthy, abundant 2015

The Wellness Shifter Ladies!

Deb and Wendy





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