I made it through the first week of my food sensitivity elimination diet! I found the second half of the week a little more challenging as I started getting a little bored with the 25 foods I was allowed. Still, it was interesting to get creative and I’ve had plenty to eat.

The biggest challenge came on Saturday, day 6, when we hosted our book group meeting. Our group focuses on food and eating even more than the book, and everyone brings something to share – so I knew I’d be surrounded by tempting foods.

My strategy was to make enough things I could eat so that I’d be satisfied. It worked very well. Can’t say I wasn’t tempted, but it wasn’t hard to stick to my allowed foods.

For starters, I made a punch blend with pure pineapple and orange juice, mint water and plain sparkling water. The juice was diluted by at least 50%, reducing the sugar content, and the sparkling water made it festive.

I also made myself some corn tortilla chips by soaking plain corn tortillas (only corn and a trace of lime), slicing them and then baking (350 degrees for about 30 minutes). They come out pretty good, and were good to scoop my homemade “hummus” (pinto beans, tahini, cumin, cayenne and onion thinned with a little sesame seed oil and OJ).

Since beef is one of my low reactive foods, we barbequed London broil (marinated in pineapple juice and soy sauce). And I made a buckwheat groat salad, similar to the rye salad I described in the last post. 

So far the buckwheat salad is the only thing that hasn’t turned out very well. I’m just not fond of buckwheat. It is bland and gelatinous. The rye berries make a better salad, but a couple bookgroup members avoid gluten, so buckwheat was the better choice. 

Ironically, I’m sensitive to several gluten-free grains like rice and quinoa (although I think I’ll be able to eat a small portion eventually), millet and amaranth.

I even made a dessert I could eat: 1 cup sesame seeds, 1 cup chopped walnuts and 3-4 tablespoons honey. The ingredients are heated in a saucepan to soften the honey and stirred until well mixed, then pressed into an 8 in square pan. I forgot to cut into squares while warm, but they cut just fine after being refrigerated. They were surprisingly good! Store them in the refrigerator to keep them firm.

One of my friends brought steamed asparagus for me (after reading my last blog post! Thanks Deborah!), and cantaloupe. So I had a good meal, even if I couldn’t eat all the other stuff.
There were two things I found really interesting. I usually eat too much at meals like this, but not this time. I had very normal portion sizes and felt satisfied. Eliminating half the foods available really did help me eat a reasonable amount.

The other thing that amazed me was how energetic I felt at the end of the day. I thoroughly enjoy our group – and I’m usually pretty tired by the time we finish. This time I enjoyed it just as much, but wasn’t tired. I always thought it was the fun and excitement that made me tired, but now I suspect that it is really the wine and overeating.
So now I’ve started into phase 2 of the elimination diet, and I can add one new food each day. Yesterday I added goat milk (which I ate in the form of goat cheese), and today I’m adding potatoes. Tomorrow it will be mushrooms.

The process continues on like this for a month – I’ll keep adding one new food a day, from a list that keeps expanding as I move into phases 3 through 5. After that I can start adding foods that were untested.

The reason for adding things slowly is that if something upsets my gut, I’ll know what it is. So far I’m a little suspicious of fresh pineapple, but it might be too much fresh fruit in general. With such a limited diet, it is easy to eat more of a thing then I normally would.

I’m even drinking some juice – which is normally rare. Mostly I’m using juice (often with sparkling water) as an interesting drink when I can’t have a glass of wine with Bill.

Eventually I’ll get back to a pretty normal diet – with a few exceptions (my reactive foods). I can’t quite picture my long term diet yet. Maybe it’s just as good, because for now my main job is to keep noticing how different foods feel to my gut.

For those of you that have been on elimination diets or special diets, you already know what it’s like. For me this has been a valuable experience getting to see what it is like first hand. Hope you can take some ideas from the post that will work for you!

Find more nutrition information, my Mindful Eating CD, and my monthly newsletter on my website:  http://healthyhabitscoach.com.  Eat well!


I’ve just finished training to work with food sensitivities. I thought it would be helpful to start with myself – so I’ve started an elimination diet for my own food sensitivities.

I’m actually on day four now. Two weeks ago I got my blood tested for 120 foods and 30 chemicals. I got my results a week later, last Friday. I’m sensitive to several foods that I eat on a regular basis, which is not surprising.

I’m not strongly reactive to anything, but have moderate sensitivity to rice, quinoa, eggs, cows milk, watermelon, green pepper, yellow squash, and several other foods. I have sensitivity to several chemicals too, including ibuprophen, potassium nitrates (found naturally in many greens) and sodium sulfites (found in wine and my beloved balsamic vinegar). I’m hoping I can eventually add back in most greens – but time will tell.

It is an odd cluster of foods and chemicals. I suspected I had food sensitivities because my gut bacteria have been out of balance since getting sick 10 years ago in the Himalayas, and even with a healthy diet and probiotics, I’ve not been able to heal my gut.

The way the program works, is that after taking the blood test, I got a printout of all the foods and chemicals tested with the level of reactivity for each one. The first step is “phase 1” of an elimination diet where I only eat 24 foods (the ones with the lowest sensitivity in each food category) for a week.

It has been sort of a fun challenge. I like making up different menus and recipes using the allowed ingredients. And I’ve liked the chance to try some different things that I don’t typically eat. It is hard when I get hungry for something and then remember I can’t have it.

One example of a new food is cream of buckwheat for breakfast. My three allowed grains are buckwheat, corn and rye. So the cream of buckwheat makes a nice cooked cereal. I’ve also been having some cornflakes for breakfast – something I would normally never do due to the low fiber content. But it is a safe food on a limited list, so I’m eating them!

Last night I cooked some rye berries and made a salad with my other allowed ingredients: peas, asparagus, onion, crushed pineapple, walnuts, avocado, mint and sesame seeds. Bill accused me of adding just about all my allowed foods – and he wasn’t far off. I made a dressing with sesame oil, white vinegar and orange juice. It was really good. The rye berries are a lot like wheat berries.

I felt better immediately when I started the diet, but I notice that I am relapsing with some of my symptoms for days 3 and 4. This is typical – people often feel worse before they feel better. The food sensitivities generate compounds that attack the foods as “foreigners” and it is those compounds that cause symptoms like bloating, diarrhea and migraines. Even once I stop eating the trigger foods, it takes awhile to clear them from my body.

I’ve lost 3 pounds already. This also is common. Bloating and inflammation increase fluid retention, so as that decreases I release the water. I’m told some people drop 10 – 11 pounds of water weight.

Most people feel really good about a week into the program – so I should be doing better in a couple of days.

At the end of the first week, I can start adding foods from “phase 2” – one new food per day. So it will take while before I’m back to a more normal type of diet. Going slow like this gives the gut a chance to heal. By starting with the least reactive foods, it gives me a chance to really tell how individual foods affect me.

This program is something that I’ve been trained and certified to offer. I’m getting the direct experience myself now, so I can really see how it works first hand.

My clients often tell me that something they eat is making them sick, and they don’t know what it is. So here is a way to tell. I’ll be writing more about my own experience and about the program itself. In the meantime, contact me if you’d like to know more: kathy@healthyhabitscoach.com

Note: this program is called LEAP, and does MRT or Mediator Release Testing
Find more nutrition information, my Mindful Eating CD, and my monthly newsletter on my website:  http://healthyhabitscoach.com.  Eat well!

Celiac disease is an autoimmune condition in which gluten (found in wheat, barley and rye) is not tolerated.

When I learned about celiac disease 30 years ago, we thought it was a childhood disease found in children with “failure to thrive”. Now we know it can show up at any age, and while some people do lose weight, others have trouble losing weight with it.

The symptoms vary, and some people don’t have symptoms at all. Here is a list of the most common types of symptoms associated with celiac:

Bloating, gas and/or abdominal pain
Hard to flush, bulky or loose stools
Diarrhea or constipation
Nausea and vomiting
Indigestion/reflux (heartburn)
Fatigue and weakness
Itchy skin rash
Tingling or numbness in hands and feet
Discolored teeth or loss of enamel
Mouth ulcers (canker sores)
Joint pain
Easy bruising of the skin
Edema (swelling) of the hands and feet
Migraine headaches
Irritability or behavior changes
Significant unexplained weight loss
Missed menstrual periods
Infertility, recurrent miscarriages
Lactose intolerance
Iron, folate and/or vitamin B12 deficiency
Other vitamin and mineral deficiencies (A,D,E,K,calcium)
Fractures or thin bones
Elevated liver enzymes

In children: irritability and behavioral changes
Concentration and learning difficulties
Poor weight gain (and short stature)
Delayed puberty
Dental enamel abnormalities

Many of these symptoms can be caused by other things, but if you have any of them I think it is worth considering the possibility of celiac and testing for it. If nothing else, think of it as at least ruling it out.

There are a number of conditions associated with celiac that also are a good reason to test:

Osteoporosis or osteopenia
Dermatitis herpetiformis
Type 1 diabetes
Thyroid disease
Sjogren’s disease
Juvenile idiopathic arthritis
Irritable bowel syndrome
Intestinal cancer
Peripheral neuropathy
Down syndrome
Turner syndrome
Williams syndrome

If you have one autoimmune disease, you have a higher risk of having other autoimmune conditions.

My sources for the symptoms and related conditions are the NFCA (National Foundation for Celiac Awareness) and Gluten Free Diet by Shelley Case.

My newsletter will be coming out soon with more information about celiac disease.

Find more nutrition information, my Mindful Eating CD, and my monthly newsletter on my website:  http://healthyhabitscoach.com.  Eat well!

I often post salad recipes and my April newsletter is all about salads. But what if salads hurt your gut? It happens.

There are times when we just can’t tolerate healthy foods we love like fruits and vegetables. This is a typical symptom of Irritable Bowel Syndrome and other GI problems.

I tolerate raw vegetables most of the time, but every once in a while I go through a period that I need to eat only cooked veggies. During those periods, raw veggies just don’t feel right in my gut.

Even when I can’t eat raw vegetables, I still enjoy salads. I just lightly steam the veggies first. It’s surprisingly good. A friend makes a wonderful cabbage and kale salad with the greens lightly cooked.

The inability to tolerate raw vegetables is usually a sign that something is going on. Possibilities include  food allergies or sensitivities, intestinal inflammation, or bacterial imbalance – and there are things you can do about it!

If you don’t know what is going on with your gut (and it is more common than you may think), schedule an appointment with your healthcare provider. Gastroenterologists and Dietitians specializing in digestive health (like me!) are good choices.

Find more nutrition information, my Mindful Eating CD, and my monthly newsletter on my website:  http://healthyhabitscoach.com.  Eat well!

I like to think I’m famous (in my circle of friends)  for my delicious salads. The options are endless and offer a fun and healthy palate for creativity. I enjoy adding things that you don’t expect to find in a salad.

You can use any base for a salad. Here I use a variety of greens (but no lettuce!) I recently posted a salad using beets as a base and other options include black or white beans, sweet potatoes, wheat berries, quinoa, brown rice or whole wheat pasta. The possibilities are endless.

I also frequently make what I call chopped salads: a variety of vegetables which may only include some thinly sliced greens (often kale) for accent. This post features a green salad with a twist.

This is a salad that I made recently for my bookgroup. I usually use pretty bowls, but for this I was making too much to fit in them so I used one of my metal mixing bowls. The inside was still gorgeous.

Healthy Mixed Greens Salad
Spinach, rinsed and roughly chopped
Cabbage, thinly sliced (a combination of red and green is nice)
Radicchio, thinly sliced
Kale, thinly sliced (lacinato is nice, but any kind will work)
¼  small Red onion, thinly sliced
1 stock Celery, thinly sliced
1 carrot and ½ turnip: thinly sliced or julienned with a mandolin
1 orange, peeled and diced
¼ cup slivered almonds
¼ cup feta cheese, crumbled
Optional: 1 cup cooked wheatberries
¼ cup Balsamic Vinaigrette dressing

Fill a big bowl halfway with the various greens (around 6-8 cups), add the other ingredients and toss.

The beauty of using some combination of these greens is that the salad will still be good the next day.  Arugula and/or mustard greens would also be nice if you enjoy a little bite. The turnip gives it a little spice, similar to radishes.

I love the combination of oranges and almonds in a salad this time of year. The wheatberries will make it a heartier salad and add interest. Cook them in a rice cooker or on top of the stove: 1 cup wheatberries to 3 ½ – 4 cups water. Allow 2 hours to cook, but if cooking on the stovetop, check sooner. They freeze well, so make a batch to have on hand!

As time goes on, I find I tend to chop my salads in smaller pieces than is typical. I like the way the flavors blend this way. There are foods that I enjoy when thinly sliced, like the onions and turnips, that I don’t like when in big chunks.




Balsamic Vinaigrette
2/3 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
½ teaspoon honey or agave – optional

Other optional extras: garlic, shallots, dried herbs.

You can also make this lower fat by making it half-and-half oil and vinegar. Try replacing part of the vinegar with lemon juice to soften the acid flavor.

Find more nutrition information, my Mindful Eating CD, and my monthly newsletter on my website:  http://healthyhabitscoach.com.  Eat well!

This is one of those salads that whispered to me. I had beets in the refrigerator that needed to be cooked. While they were cooking, the other ingredients assembled themselves in my mind. I just did as they suggested, and it was good!

Beet and Orange Salad
2 medium-sized beets, cooked and chopped
½ red onion, thinly sliced
1 stock celery, thinly sliced
1 orange, peeled and chopped
1 oz feta cheese, crumbled
1 Tablespoon chopped walnuts
2-3 tablespoons of Balsamic Vinaigrette dressing

Mix all the ingredients and enjoy.

You can buy precooked beets now at Trader Joes, or you can easily cook them yourself by boiling, roasting or cooking in the pressure cooker. One easy technique is to scrub and trim the beet, wrap in foil and bake until a knife goes into it easily (timing depends on size, allow 45 – 60 minutes).

I use the pressure cooker, and cook medium size beets for 15 minutes. The beet is easy to peel as it cools, but I leave the skin on for the extra nutrients.

While the beets were cooking, I chopped the other ingredients – starting with the onions, which I let marinate in the salad dressing. I added the beets while they were still hot, stirred and served.

One thing I did differently this time was to chop everything, including the beets, fairly small. I like this technique because it blends the flavors really well. The salad is probably prettier with big chunks, but I like the taste better with smaller pieces.

Another consideration about the appearance is the way the beet juice makes everything red. You could probably avoid this by mixing everything but the beets together and spooning the mixture over the chopped beets. Or you could use yellow beets. I don’t mind the discoloration, so I just mixed it all together.

Find more nutrition information, my Mindful Eating CD, and my monthly newsletter on my website:  http://healthyhabitscoach.com.  Eat well!

I’m big on making To-Do lists, but even those can get overwhelming at times. One of the best stress-busters I know is to sit down first thing in the morning and set priorities for the day.

I like to do this first thing, with a cup of tea and while I’m waking up. When it’s cold I wrap up in a warm shawl and feel cozy in the early morning.

I’ve heard it done in different ways. A good approach is to list the 3 top things you hope to accomplish for the day. They should be realistic. Sometimes they will be a single task, or they can be an amount of time spent on a larger project.

For example, I work on my newsletter for an hour a day for several days. It’s not something I expect to do all at once, so I specify the amount of time I spend on a given day.

I have trouble limiting myself to the 3 items, so I tend to look at my available unscheduled time and list morning activities and afternoon activities. When I’m really worried about fitting everything in, I make a timeline.

I get stressed because I usually expect to get more accomplished in a day than is possible. By organizing my time and priorities, I can be more realistic. Then I can relax and enjoy what I’m doing, knowing how it will fit together.

Some days the plan won’t work at all – things come up that take precedence. That is fine. That’s life. Still, it gives me something to come back to when things settle down.

Since stress affects both our food choices and our health, it’s helpful to have a variety of tools to help tame it!

Find more nutrition information, my Mindful Eating CD, and my monthly newsletter on my website:  http://healthyhabitscoach.com.  Eat well!