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Monday, November 14, 2011

Tips to Avoid Holiday Weight Gain

Gaining weight during the holidays is common, but not inevitable. Plan ahead and avoid holiday weight gain by following these simple tips:

- Since stress can cause weight gain, manage stress by getting enough sleep and exercise to reduce stress and prevent stress eating.

- Watch portion sizes and eat favorite holiday foods, such as sugary cakes and cookies, in moderation.

- Limit alcohol to avoid too many extra calories. At parties, alternate alcoholic beverages with sparkling water with lemon.

- Avoid skipping meals, as this may lead to overeating later on, a slowdown in metabolism, and fatigue.

- Get an adequate amount of sleep, since lack of sleep makes it harder to resist fattening foods.

- Never go to parties hungry since it is easy to overeat when famished. Eat a small, nutritious snack before leaving for a party or drink a tall glass of water before hitting the buffet table.

- Prepare baked foods or holiday meals using natural sweeteners or lower-calorie and lower-fat versions of ingredients.

- Eat slowly at meals and wait at least 15 minutes before going back for a second helping. This gives the body enough time to feel satiated.

- Maintain a normal workout schedule to balance food intake and calorie burn. If time is an issue, consider shorter, more intense workouts.

Keep it fresh!
- Lauren

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Boost Your Immunity!

Achoo! Tis' the season of colds and flu viruses. A recent published in the British Medical Journal said that the best defense against the flu is good hygiene including washing your hands and covering your mouth and nose when you sneeze. In addition to good hygiene, it is important to keep your immune system in tip top shape! Follow these 10 quick tips to boost your immunity and stay healthy through this flu season:

1. Eat the rainbow! Stalking up on raw fruits and vegetables will give your body the anti-oxidants, vitamins, minerals, fiber and enzymes it needs to run smoothly. They will protect the cells of your body and turn you into a disease fighting machine. Aim towards 9-10 servings of fresh fruit and vegetables a day.

2. Step out into the sun and get some exercise! It’s great if you head to the gym daily for at least 30 minutes of cardio. Exercise is important for good health. But to boost your immune system while getting your cardio in, head to the great outdoors. Sadly, most Americans spend more than 80% of their day inside. Exercising outside in the fresh air will release endorphins and set your body on a natural high. The chilly weather will stimulate your thyroid gland and the added sunshine is important for Vitamin D levels…..

3. Start taking a multi-vitamin that includes sufficient amounts of Vitamin D. Recent studies have shown there are clear links between Vitamin D deficiency and obesity, insulin resistance, depression, certain cancers, heart disease, stroke, parathyroid problems and reduced immune function. Adult women need between 3000 and 5000 i.u's of D3 daily. For more information on Vitamin D deficiency in women see this article from Womentowomen.com.

4. Kick the sugar addiction. If there is one thing you can do that will boost your immune system it’s the reduction and elimination of refined, white sugar from your diet. On average, Americans eat more than 150 pounds of refined, white sugar each year or about ½ cup each day. Unfortunately, our bodies are not designed to digest that amount of sugar. Too much sugar overworks and exhausts our white blood cells and weakens the immune system. White blood cells need protein to function. Excess sugar in our diet means that protein in the diet will not be digested and assimilated properly leading to reduced white blood cell function! Try reducing your sugar intake by replacing refined sugars with natural sugar alternative including honey, maple syrup or agave nectar. Avoid artificial sweeteners as they are more toxic than refined cane sugar.

5. Eat your protein! The proper amount of protein is essential to promote cell production and support the immune system. Eating protein will also prevent loss of lean muscle mass as well as boost your energy. Protein does not have to come from animal products, there are great vegetarian sources of protein that include broccoli, nuts, seeds, tofu and spinach!

6. Get your sleep! Not getting enough sleep at night has been shown to trigger inflammatory response in the cells of the body. Cellular inflammation will aggravate autoimmune disorders, specifically in females. Even modest sleep deprivation can play a role in many immune disorders. Sleep is vitally important to maintain a healthy immune system.

7. Drink water! Staying hydrated is so important for your health! To find out how much water you need and ways to make water drinking enjoyable check out our previous blog entry, Glamorous Hydration.

8. Enjoy a cup of tea! Switch out that cup of coffee for a cup of green tea. Green tea is loaded with antioxidants that will help to strengthen your immune system. Not only will green tea boost your immune system but it lower your cholesterol and blood pressure, a great benefit to your heart health!

9. Add garlic! Garlic is a potent immune system booster. It is an anti-microbial agent that is effective against bacteria, viruses, fungi and parasites. Add fresh garlic to your salads, soups, sauces and sandwiches. To kick your immune system into high gear try this garlic immune booster shot: Juice together 4 cloves of garlic with a good sized chunk of ginger root, add a dash of cayenne and a table spoon of flax oil. It may not taste the best, but it will super charge your immune system!

10. Pamper yourself! Take time out for you. Treat yourself to one thing a week that will make you feel relaxed and loved. This could be as simple as hunkering down in your favorite chair to enjoy an hour of a new book, call a best friend who lives hours away, get a massage, taking a bubble bath or baking cookies. Taking time to nurture yourself and treat yourself to something special will reduce your stress level naturally boosting your immune system.

Following these 10 tips will help keep you happy and healthy throughout the fall and winter season.

Keep it Fresh!

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Trick or TREAT!

October is here and that means that everyone is already thinking about what they will dress up as on Halloween. Fall is one of my favorite times of year and Halloween is possibly my favorite holiday. I love that it inspires creativity and self expression and encourages families and communities to interact and celebrate together. It is a fun and exciting night, but it's focus unfortunately has become more about candy than anything else. Sure, trick-or-treating is a once-a-year adventure for kids but it ends with them gorging on chocolate and sweets for the next month...at least! Not the healthiest message to send to our kids.

You don't need to keep your kids from trick-or-treating or start lobbying your neighbors to hand out apples and boxes of raisins to keep your family from the fun. Instead, follow a few of these tricks to make sure your kids get a Halloween treat!

1) Let your kids choose a few of their favorite pieces of candy from their baskets and then donate the rest. Many local dentists will buy or swap candy at Halloween and donate it to troops overseas through Operation Gratitude. Halloween Candy Buy Back will help you find a participating dentist in your area!

2) Find recipes that use candy such as snickers, peanut butter cups and M&M's and have a bake sale with your creations. Let the kids have fun with you in the kitchen to get them excited about the alternative use for their goodies! Let them use the proceeds towards a new toy.

3) Make Halloween night about spending time together (Part 1)! After trick-or-treating host a pumpkin carving party for the family or neighbors. Roast the pumpkin seeds with your favorite spices or flavors as a healthy treat for kids to snack on instead of candy. (If you haven't joined our newsletter yet, our October Recipe will show you how! Sign up on sidebar of this site.)

4) Make Halloween night about spending time together (Part 2)! Go apple picking with the family the weekend before and use the apples to make healthier candy apples together on Halloween night. Use honey or brown rice syrup instead of corn syrup, or follow this raw recipe from Renegade Health:

Raw Caramel Apples

• 1 cup dates (pitted and unsoaked)
• 1/4 – 1/2 cup almond milk (or other nut milk of your choice)
• 1 teaspoon coconut oil (optional)
• 1 dash sea salt
• 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, or 1 inch vanilla bean, scraped
• 3-4 apples, depending on size


• Mix all ingredients in a blender until smooth.
• Start with 1/4 cup almond milk and add until consistency is such that apples can be dipped and the caramel sticks.
• Insert a popsicle stick into the center top of each apple.
• Dip in caramel sauce.
• Refrigerate until caramel solidifies

5) Avoid hiding candy and then using it as a reward when your kids help out around the house. This sends the wrong message. We should be encouraging children to make healthy choices because it makes them feel good, not allowing them to make poor choices so that they behave well. Instead offer them healthier alternatives such as fruit, trail mix or popcorn.

6) Use their collected candy in creative ways. Make gingerbread houses or ornaments with them for holiday decorations.

Keep it Fresh and Spooky!

- Jill

Monday, September 26, 2011

Keeping a Food Journal

If you are looking to loose weight or just make healthier choices for your body, keeping a food journal can be a powerful tool to assist you. Keeping track of what you are eating will help bring awareness to your eating habits and patterns. To keep track of meals, snacks and drinks that you consume, keep a small notepad in your purse, or keep a log on your phone, laptop or ipad.. whatever is most convenient for you to use throughout your day. You can even purchase food journals like the Diet Minder from book stores. The food diary process is designed to be fun and informative. It will help you recognize poor habits or foods that you react to and will help you find connections between what you eat and how you feel.

What to keep track of:
  • The Date
  • Time of day
  • What foods – What foods were eaten, how were they prepared and in what quantity. Be sure to include all ingredients. Be sure to include beverages and include misc items such as gum/candy.
  • Hunger level (on a scale of 0-5) at time of meal/snack
  • Meal situation – The place and activity surrounding meal/snack. Indicate home cooked versus eating out, etc.
  • Sensations – Indicate emotional and physical feelings, mood etc.
  • Indicate any medications or supplements you are taking and when
  • You can also include any physical exercise you do

The most important part of a food journal is noting how you feel physically and emotionally before, during and after each meal, snack or beverage. At first it may feel odd or you may not be sure what you are feeling. That is okay! Just write what you feel. Physical symptoms will be bodily sensations and may be a little bit easier to recognize than emotional ones.

Here are tips to get you started:

• Clues for physical imbalance: headaches, stomach pain, muscle cramps, coughing, fatigue, insomnia, restlessness, shakiness, muscle weakness, poor concentration, pallor.

• Clues for emotional imbalance: anxious, bored, scared, mad, sad, depressed, scattered, restless, irritable, agitated, hyper, guilt.

• Clues for physical balance: bright eyes, hunger, stamina, natural deep breathing, high energy, restful sleep, focus, alertness, strength, good attention span, clear complexion and good color.

• Clues for emotional balance: confident, excited, energized, humorous, happy, interested, focused, calm, relaxed, easygoing, patient.

Many people do not realize how much they eat until they start to write it all down. Try not to let the journal create negative feelings or feelings of guilt. Instead use it to hold yourself accountable for what you put in your mouth. If it helps, partner up with a friend and share your journals with each other at the end of each week. Sometimes knowing that someone else will read everything you’ve eaten is motivation enough to stick to healthy choices!

If you forget to write down a meal, just keep going. It’s all fine. Just keep writing!

Keep it Fresh!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Breaking The Habit

Habit. A settled or regular tendency or practice, especially one that is hard to give up. We all have habits, some good, some bad. I have a habit of cleaning and scrubbing all my produce before cooking it. Good habit, right? But I also have a habit of buying too much produce at once and throwing half of it away because it goes bad. Not so good habit.

We all have bad habits that we probably wish we could break. Some, like the above, aren't necessarily detrimental to our health, but others can definitely effect our well-being. For Instance, I also have a habit of buying a healthy snack, such as my favorite Mary's Sticks and Twigs, and eating the whole bag in one sitting. Yikes.

Making changes in our lives in order to improve our health and well being usually requires breaking some of our bad habits. Easier said than done, but let's face it, we could all use some improvement. So how do we give up our bad habits and trade them in for good ones, or at least better ones?

The first step is identifying the habits that you wish to change. Find habits that continuously hinder your health, happiness or well being. Any change we wish to make in our lives starts with and requires motivation. The general desire or willingness to do something. Only you have the power change yourself, but without the desire to precipitate change, success will be difficult.

Once you are ready to take action, follow these simple tips and you will be sure to succeed!

1) Lasting change takes time. Don't try to change all your bad habits at once, you will be sure to get overwhelmed and likely fail. Start with one and focus on making that one stick.

2) Be realistic. Chose to change things that are within your control, otherwise you can set yourself for disappointment and get discouraged.

3) Take baby steps. You may have more success by upgrading your bad habit to a less evil one first and then breaking it all together, rather than going cold turkey from the start.

4) Set goals. Make a list of the necessary steps to achieve your goal, and check them off as you reach them.

5) Stay motivated. Write yourself daily reminders and stick them on your mirror, refrigerator or some place you will constantly see them, especially in places where the bad habit is bound to occur.

6) Keep track of your progress. Keeping a journal each day can help you identify when and why you are having difficulty versus success. Take a few minutes each morning to write down your intentions for the day, and few minutes each evening to reflect on how you did.

7) Ask for help. We can't always do everything on our own. Don't be afraid to use your resources and ask for help!

8) Be grateful. Be aware of the others that have helped you reach your goals and express your gratitude.

9) Start today! Why put off til tomorrow, what you can do today. Procrastination will hinder your motivation and allows the opportunity for distraction.

So what are you waiting for? What bad habit will you start breaking today?

Keep it Fresh!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Back To School!

We all probably think, in some way or another, that we could be making healthier choices as far as our diet is concerned. And as much as we want ourselves to be healthy, we want even more to feed our children as healthy as possible. Our child's health is so important, because their young developing bodies are more vulnerable and therefore susceptible to illness. Feeding our kids a healthy, wholesome diet will not only help prevent sick days, but it will also be the most important thing we can do for their report cards. A healthy child will be focused, alert and attentive, allowing them to be at their utmost capacity to learn and perform their best! However, when our kids head off to school we relinquish the power to control everything they eat for a good part of the day. Therefore it is important to get them excited about making healthy choices and then send them off with healthy options so that we can feel confident that they will choose to eat the way we want them to.

Most of our schools unfortunately do not have healthy cafeteria options. Instead the cafeteria is an oasis of fried non-foods, baked goods, sugary sodas and juices. Get kids excited about bringing their lunch from home by providing them with fun ways to pack their lunch. Maybe it's a lunchbox with their favorite colors or characters. A great budget-friendly idea is to let them decorate brown paper bags anyway they want. This can also be a fun family arts and crafts hour each night before bedtime. Make it more eco-friendly by using recycled materials such as your paper grocery bags, or purchasing plain stainless steel canisters and containers that can be reused and decorating them instead. Sweeten the deal by surprising them with hand written notes, stickers or fun little games inside their lunch box.

Finding the time to prepare healthy meals and snacks for our children can be tough, especially for parents that work full time. However we don't want to sacrifice their health by being rushed to find something to send them off to school with. Make it easier on yourself by planning ahead. Set aside a half hour each Sunday evening, or whenever is best, to layout the kids' meals and snacks for the week. Also use this time to make anything that you can in advance. For example, make a batch of a healthy trail mix and separate it out into individual snack-size baggies. Involving the kids will get them more interested in what they are eating, and make them more apt to enjoy it!

Finding the right foods to feed our children can be even more difficult! Every child is going to be different, as far as what they like and are willing to eat. It is important to do your best while staying within realistic boundaries. All the effort in the world to prepare the healthiest meal possible is going to go to waste if your child is going to get to school and not eat it. Start with small, reasonable changes and work your way up. You will be surprised at how much your child will crave less junk foods and more healthy foods as they build healthier habits. In general, stick to healthy, natural, whole foods such as fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, healthy fats and whole grains. Avoid (as much as possible) hydrogenated oils, trans-fats and processed and refined packaged foods, especially those that contain lots of sugars, artificial colors and artificial flavorings!

Most importantly, nothing will feed our childrens' needs and nurture them as much as love! A home cooked or prepared meal will contain all the love and caring that you put into making it!

Keep It Fresh!
- Jill

Sunday, August 28, 2011

So, what exactly is a Holistic Health Counselor??

As many of you may know 3 Healthy Chicks, Lauren Forney, Terra Pfund and Jill Rizzi are graduates of the Institute for Integrative Nutrition and Board certified Holistic Health Counselors. That sounds very healthy and impressive, but what is the Institute for Integrative Nutrition and what exactly is a Board certified Health Counselor?

The Institute for Integrative Nutrition is the only nutrition school in the world that integrates all the different dietary theories—combining the knowledge of traditional philosophies with modern concepts like the USDA food pyramid, the glycemic index, the Zone and raw foods.

There are big differences between a traditional dietitian or nutritionist and Holistic Health Counselors. While nutrition is an extremely large component to Holistic Health Counseling, it is not the only aspect. Integrative nutrition and holistic health embraces as philosophy and a practical approach to well-being, that food is a secondary source of nourishment, while relationships, career, spirituality, and exercise are primary nourishments that sustain us more deeply.

Founder and director of the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, Joshua Rosenthal states, “You can eat all the broccoli in the world and still be unhappy and unhealthy because other aspects of your life aren’t balanced. When you are satisfied with your career, in a loving relationship, have a spiritual practice, and exercise on a regular basis, you will be more likely to make better decisions about the foods you eat.”

One of the most important aspects of holistic health counseling that 3 Healthy Chicks embrace is the concept of bioindividuality. 3 Healthy Chicks strongly believe that no one diet works for everyone. We take a yogic view to our counseling practice, in that we believe balance is the key to health and happiness. In each of our practices, Center Your Health, Sprouting Wellness and Keola Wellness we individually assist our clients in taking small, but proactive steps to create lasting changes.

As your Holistic Health Counselor 3 Healthy Chicks will work one on one with you to:

~ Set and accomplish goals
~ Explore new foods
~ Understand and reduce cravings
~ Increase your energy
~ Feel better in your body
~ Improve personal relationships
~ Follow your bliss!
~ Learn to love the life you live~

Imagine what your life would be like if you had clear thinking, energy and excitement every day! When was the last time you talked with someone about your health, or that of your child, and received the personal attention you deserve? It’s rare for anyone to get an hour to work on their nutrition and goals with a trained professional. As Holistic Health Counselors, 3 Healthy Chicks are here to create a supportive environment while we explore what really works for you.

Email us today at 3healthychicks@gmail.com to schedule your free health consultation and to find out more about taking small steps to lasting change.

Keep it Fresh!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

An apple a day...

Apples are good for you. You've heard it from the time you were a tiny kid... "An apple a day keeps the doctor away". But how do apples actually benefit your health?

Apples are a fat free, cholesterol free food, as well as a source of fiber. They are also a natural source of vitamin C, calcium, phosphorus and potassium. But it doesn’t stop there. Apples have also been shown to deliver antioxidants.

In addition to making a quick and easy snack, an apple is a great choice for providing fiber, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals into your diet. Its filling-but-not-fattening properties make it great for people of all ages, especially when grabbing a snack on-the-go is all you have time for.


1. Boost your immunity. Apples contain Vitamin C, which helps your immune system. People who lack Vitamin C in their diet have poor healing, bruise easily and may have bleeding gums.

2. Help prevent heart disease. Apples can prevent coronary heart disease and cardiovascular disease because they are rich in flavonoids., which are known for their antioxidant effects.

3. Make a great portable snack. Eating an apple when craving for candy or chocolate can make the desire disappear since apples in itself contain sugar, but gives you only a fraction of the calories from say, a packaged and processed snack.

4. Are cancer fighting! Apples help to prevent ALL cancers. Yay!

5. Lower cholesterol. Apples contain phenols, which have a double effect on cholesterol by reducing bad cholesterol and increasing good cholesterol. Apples prevent LDL cholesterol from turning into oxidized LDL, a very dangerous form of bad cholesterol, which can be deadly.

6. Keep your teeth healthy. Apples prevent tooth decay, which is an infection that seriously damages the structure of your teeth caused primarily by bacteria. The juice of the apples has properties that can kill up to 80% of bacteria. The tough skin also cleans your teeth by scraping away plaque!

7. Contain 20% of your daily fiber. Apples are high in fiber, which help to keep your colon healthy along with keeping you "regular."

Keep it Fresh!
- Lauren

Monday, August 22, 2011

Tulsi Tea - Holy Basil

During my first trip to India in 2009, I was introduced to Tulsi tea, also known as 'holy basil' tea. I was told to drink it each day I was there to keep my immune system strong. Apparently, it worked because I remained healthy throughout and following my trip. I brought some back with me and have been hooked ever since! Luckily, Organic India makes a delicious line of Tulsi tea's that you can find here at all health food stores, and even in some supermarkets. I swear by the original flavor, but they have many different kinds. My favorite flavor is the Honey Chamomile all summer long, then I fall in love with the Orange Mint during the Fall and enjoy the Vanilla Creme when it's colder. My tastes clearly change with the seasons! If you see a box the next time you're food shopping, give it a try! Read below for all of the wonderful health benefits of this holy basil tea.

About Tulsi Tea

Tulsi tea, which originated in India thousands of years ago, is known for its rich antioxidant and adaptogenic properties that are known to promote wellness by building the body’s immune system, reducing stress and promoting mental clarity. It is recognized as one of India's most sacred herbs because of its health benefits and healing properties. Tulsi Tea's antioxidants protect cells from the damage caused by free radicals that facilitate the cause and progression of various types of diseases. Also referred to as holy basil tea, this herbal brew’s adaptogens serve as powerful anti-stress agents that protect your body from a wide range of health concerns. The adaptogens guard against and deal with physical, chemical, environmental, and emotional factors that produce high levels of stress that compromise physical and mental health.

Potential Health Benefits of Tulsi Tea

· Strengthens the immune system, promotes longevity and enhances well-being.

· Promotes heart health by lowering cholesterol and high blood pressure.

· Reduces the negative physical and psychological effects of stress.

· Increases the body’s efficiency in using oxygen, which improves stamina, strength and endurance.

· Promotes respiratory health.

· Helps with digestion and gastrointestinal problems.

· Neutralizes dangerous biochemicals that contribute to cancer, degenerative diseases and premature aging.

· Facilitates healthy liver function.

· Reduces cell and tissue damage from sun rays, radiation therapy and other radiation sources.

· Relieves inflammation from arthritis and other diseases.

· Helps fight infections.

Keep it fresh!
- Lauren

Monday, August 15, 2011

A Healthy Chick Moment of Yoga: Four Paths of Yoga

Yoga means Union. Union between the individual self and the Universal Self; union between Body-Mind-Spirit. Yoga is not just a system of physical exercises. It is a classical system of personal development of body, mind, spirit. There are four main paths to attain this Union which brings health, happiness and peace of mind: Karma Yoga, Bhakti Yoga, Raja Yoga (Hatha Yoga) and Jnana Yoga. Each path is suited to a different temperament or approach to life. All the paths lead ultimately to the same goal. The lessons of each path need to be integrated if true wisdom is to be attained.

1. Karma Yoga, The Path of Action

By acting selflessly, without thought of personal gain or reward, and by detaching from the fruits of actions and instead offering them to God, the Karma Yogi purifies the heart and sublimates the ego.

2. Bhakti Yoga, The Path of Devotion

Through prayer, worship and ritual, the Bhakti Yogi surrenders to God, channeling and transmuting emotions into unconditional love or devotion. Chanting or singing the praises of God form a substantial part of Bhakti Yoga.

3. Raja Yoga and Hatha Yoga

This path is often called Ashtanga, or eight-limbed yoga. It is the path of body, breath and mind control, and meditation. Hatha yoga is part of Raja yoga. It offers a systematic method for controlling the waves of thought. The chief practice of Raja Yoga is meditation. When body and energy are under control, meditation comes naturally.

4. Jnana Yoga, The Yoga of Knowledge

This is vedantic meditation and self-enquiry. Requiring tremendous strength of will and intellect, the Jnana Yogi uses intellect to inquire into his or her own true nature and into the nature of reality. Before practicing Jnana Yoga, the aspirant needs to have integrated the lessons of the other yogic paths - for without selflessness and love of God, strength of body and mind, the search for self-realization can become mere idle speculation.

Keep it Fresh!

- Lauren

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Lava Lamp Belly - Lactose Intolerance

Back in High School, I remember explaining to my doctor that my stomach felt like a lava lamp each and every day. He laughed at my explanation, but it was the truth! Each day I had pockets of gas painfully churning inside me due to all of the dairy products I was consuming. Luckily, he suggested a week off of dairy products only to find that I was indeed lactose intolerant. Lactose intolerance, also called lactase deficiency, means you aren't able to fully digest the milk sugar (lactose) in dairy products. It's usually not dangerous, but symptoms of lactose intolerance can be uncomfortable.

The problem behind lactose intolerance is a deficiency of lactase — an enzyme produced by the lining of your small intestine. Many people have low levels of lactase, but most don't experience signs and symptoms. Only people with both low lactase levels who also have associated signs and symptoms have, by definition, lactose intolerance.

Being diagnosed with lactose intolerance was devastating for me at that age, but I've learned to make healthier decisions with dairy free options as well as obtaining important nutrients from natural foods.

Interestingly enough, there are three types of lactose intolerance:

1. Normal result of aging for some people (primary lactose intolerance) 

Normally, your body produces large amounts of lactase at birth and during early childhood, when milk is the primary source of nutrition. Usually your lactase production decreases as your diet becomes more varied and less reliant on milk. This gradual decline may lead to symptoms of lactose intolerance.

2. Result of illness or injury (secondary lactose intolerance) 

This form of lactose intolerance occurs when your small intestine decreases lactase production after an illness, surgery or injury to your small intestine. It can occur as a result of intestinal diseases, such as celiac disease, gastroenteritis and an inflammatory bowel disease like Crohn's disease. Treatment of the underlying disorder may restore lactase levels and improve signs and symptoms, though it can take time.

3. Condition you're born with (congenital lactose intolerance) 

It's possible, but very rare, for babies to be born with lactose intolerance caused by a complete absence of lactase activity. This disorder is passed from generation to generation in a pattern of inheritance called autosomal recessive. This means that both the mother and the father must pass on the defective form of the gene for a child to be affected. Infants with congenital lactose intolerance are intolerant of the lactose in their mothers' breast milk and have diarrhea from birth. These babies require lactose-free infant formulas.

There's currently no way to boost your body's production of the lactase enzyme. People with lactose intolerance usually find relief from signs and symptoms by reducing the amount of dairy products they eat and using special products made for people with this condition.

1. Eat fewer dairy products 

This is the best bet for people with lactose intolerance to reduce their signs and symptoms. There is an argument that those who avoid milk will end up being deficient in multiple nutrients including (but not limited to) calcium, B Vitamins, protein, Vitamin D, copper and zinc. This is plain silly and if you're eating a balanced diet there's no need for milk. The line of reasoning has been created by those in the dairy industry with the main threat being a decrease in calcium consumption. Calcium is found in many other foods, such as almonds, book choy broccoli, canned salmon, kale, milk substitutes (oat, almond, rice, hemp or soy milk), oranges, pinto beans, rhubarb, spinach or tofu.

2. Experiment with an assortment of dairy products
Not all dairy products have the same amount of lactose. For example, hard cheeses, such as Swiss or cheddar, have small amounts of lactose and generally cause no symptoms. You may well be able to tolerate cultured milk products, such as yogurt, because the bacteria used in the culturing process naturally produce the enzyme that breaks down lactose.

3. Watching out for hidden lactose
Milk and lactose are often added to prepared foods, such as cereal, instant soups, salad dressings, nondairy creamers, processed meats and baking mixes. Check nutrition labels for milk and lactose in the ingredient list. Also look for other words that indicate lactose, such as whey, milk byproducts, fat-free dry milk powder and dry milk solids. Lactose is also used in medications. Tell your pharmacist if you have lactose intolerance.

4. Use caution if you choose to eat dairy products
It may not be necessary to completely avoid dairy foods. Most people with lactose intolerance can enjoy some milk products without symptoms. You may even be able to increase your tolerance to dairy products by gradually introducing them into your diet.

5. Consume probiotics

Probiotics are living organisms present in your intestines that help maintain a healthy digestive system. Probiotics are also available as active or "live" cultures in some yogurts and as supplements in capsule form. Probiotics can be found in many fermented foods such as sauerkraut, raw kombucha tea, miso or tempeh. These are sometimes used for gastrointestinal conditions such as diarrhea and irritable bowel syndrome. They may also help your body digest lactose. Probiotics are a safe and easy way to help lactose intolerance as well as keep your digestive system healthy.

6. Use lactase enzyme tablets or drops
Over-the-counter tablets or drops containing the lactase enzyme may help you digest dairy products. You can take tablets just before a meal or snack. Or the drops can be added to a carton of organic milk. Not everyone with lactose intolerance is helped by these products. I keep Lactaid pills with me wherever I go just in case I'm out and a food contains a little dairy.

Are you lactose intolerant?
The signs and symptoms of lactose intolerance usually begin 30 minutes to two hours after eating or drinking foods that contain lactose. Common signs and symptoms include:
- Diarrhea
- Nausea
- Abdominal cramps
- Bloating
- Gas

Symptoms are usually mild, but they may sometimes be severe. Let me know if you have any questions regarding lactose intolerance (I'm pushing over 15 years now). I would love to share some dairy-free alternatives with you or hear some of your own below!
Keep it fresh!
- Lauren

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Bringing Balance to the Workplace Through Yoga

Babies are born yogis. When we were younger we were all able to pull our toes up by our ears and simply laugh. Then we grew, we aged, we got injured and we began carrying stress on our back, shoulders, and neck. Our bodies became tighter, muscles grew stiff and we lost our balance.

Yoga helps create a sense of union in body, mind and spirit. It brings us balance.

The Physical benefits: Creates a toned, flexible, and strong body. Improves respiration, energy, and vitality. Helps to maintain a balanced metabolism. Promotes cardio and circulatory health. Relieves pain. Helps you look and feel younger than your age. Improves your athletic performance.

The Mental benefits: Helps you relax and handle stressful situations more easily. Teachesyou how to quiet the mind so you can focus your energy where you want it to go - into a difficult yoga pose, on the tennis court or golf course, or in the office. Encourages positive thoughts and self-acceptance.

The Spiritual benefits: Builds awareness of your body, your feelings, the world around you, the needs of others. Promotes an interdependence between mind, body, and spirit. Helps you live the concept of "oneness."

Yoga in the workplace has the added benefits of boosting energy, reducing work related stress, relieving office chair back pain, all of which add up to happier employees and increased productivity. But for the most part, the evidence of the benefits of yoga is anecdotal. They range from the simple "I can touch my toes again" to "it helped me handle my stress." A former student and corporate client in West Patterson said, “I enjoy yoga at the office because it is convenient. By practicing it in the work environment, I can relate the relaxation techniques to my job. I find that I am a better employee when I practice yoga, I can ‘go with the flow’, rather than waste time and energy fighting changes. Especially in today’s business environment, the pace is fast and ever changing.”

The great thing about yoga is, you don’t have to be able to touch your toes to do it. Anyone can do yoga-no matter how young or old you are, whether you're a couch potato or a professional athlete. Size and fitness level do not matter because there are modifications for every yoga pose. The idea is to explore your limits, not strive for some pretzel-like perfection.

If you work in the Metro Park area, you can check out a class at Metro Park Wellness located at 99 Wood Ave South, Iselin, NJ. Classes are offered on Monday, Wednesday and Thursday at 12:15 – 1:00pm and 1:15 – 2:00pm on the 8th Floor. It's a $10 drop in and yoga mats are provided. Simply wear comfortable clothing that allows you to move. Just remember one thing: the purpose of yoga isn’t to tie you in knots; it’s to untie the knots you already have and bring balance back to the body.

Keep it Fresh!


Friday, June 10, 2011

Glamorous Hydration!!

There’s no ifs, ands or buts about it…you need to drink water to stay fit and healthy. It’s estimated that up to 70% of our body is made up of water! Our blood is mostly water and our muscles and brains contain lots of water. We need water to assimilate vitamins and nutrients into our body, to transport oxygen to nourish our cells, to remove waste and to protect our organs and joints! Without water our bodies cannot function properly. Water is also in our lymph (nodes and fluids) so the amount of water in our body directly affects our immune system. If you want to boost your immunity, stay hydrated!

Oftentimes we don’t realize that the symptoms we’re feeling are the result of dehydration. Symptoms of dehydration can include chronic joint and muscle pain, lower back pain, headaches and even constipation. If there is a strong odor or color to your urine it’s a big indication that we’re not giving our body enough water! Our bodies needed the water long before we started to feel thirsty.

For years people have followed the old adage that one should have 8, 16oz glasses of water per day. This may seem like a lot. For some it may be too much, for others too little, it all depends on the person. Size and activity levels should be taken into account. We lose water through every day activity including urination, sweating and even respiration. The more active you are, the more water you will lose, therefore the more water you need to take in!

We have found that a good estimate is to divide your weight by half to give you the number of ounces of water your body needs. For example, if you weigh 140 pounds, you should drink at least 70oz (around 8 glasses). The water equation is complicated by variables! For ever 20 minutes you exercise you should add another 8oz. If you’re having an adult alcoholic beverage, you should have at least equal the amount of water (hangover prevention!). If you live in a hot, dry climate, add another two glasses!

Up to 20% of your water intake will come from the foods you eat. The rest must come from the beverages you drink. If your head is spinning trying to figure out the perfect amount… take a breath. Better yet, take a sip of your water and relax! We have a few tips that will help you up your water intake without even realizing your doing it!

~ Ditch the soda pop and energy drinks. While carbonated beverages and energy drinks contain water, they also contain high levels of caffeine, sugar and sodium. Not only are these drinks packed with empty calories that we don’t need, but the high levels of caffeine causes dehydration! If you drink a caffeinated beverage, tack on another 2 glasses of water to make up for it!

~ Give it a kick! Spice up your water with a hint of flavor. Flavored waters are all the rage these days. We say, “why waste the money when you can make your own?” Fill up a pitcher with water and add orange, mint, cucumber, lemon or lime to give it a kick! Experiment with favor combinations! One of my favorites is orange and clove!

~ Switch out your java for herbal tea.
I know this one may be tough for you die hard coffee drinkers….but again with the caffeine! There are so many great herbal tea flavor options out there. You can drink it hot with a lemon or steep the tea and pour it over ice! Just be sure that the herbal tea you choose isn’t a diuretic! Diuretics trick your body into thinking you have more water than we need…thus resulting in the need to drink more water!!

~ Add some bubbly and feel like a rock star! Try sparkling water with a splash of juice (my favorite is pomegranate) with a twist of lime. This is a delicious bubbly daytime cocktail that will make you feel like a rock star!

~ Get funky with some sexy style! Seriously, ditch the plastic water bottles. They’re bad for the environment and how sexy is BPA? You got it, it’s not! BPA has been shown to interfere with reproductive development in animals and has been linked to diabetes in humans! But we still drink out of it? Preposterous! Shell out the $30 to buy a new Sigg bottle or other BPA free reusable bottle. I personally have a collection of Sigg bottles to choose from depending on my outfit and mood! You can even go to Café Press and design your own!

~ Get glamorous!!!!!!!!! If you are anything like 3 Healthy Chicks, you have cabinets filled with amazing stem ware. Beautiful wine goblets, snappy martini glasses and frosty pint glasses lifted from your favorite college joint. Who says they have to be filled with wine, vodka or beer? They’re fabulous glasses and there’s no reason for them to be collecting dust in your china cabinet! Dust off that hand painted (non-toxic!) martini glass and have some H2O on the rocks with a twist of lime and sprig of mint! Hell, put on your favorite Jersey Girl, Joan Rivers style sunglasses and embrace the healthy rock star that you are.

Cocktails before noon? Definitely!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Chew Your Food

We live in a fast paced world. People are on the go, multi-tasking, planning and thinking ahead. In a busy world, people also eat on the go; in the car, at their desks, standing up, walking down the street, barely taking the time to enjoy their meal. When we eat quickly, we tend to eat more, therefore consuming more calories.

 Digestion begins in the mouth. Slowing down to completely chew your food, allows the release of digestive enzymes that break down food and greater assimilation of nutrients. Whole foods, especially whole grains, must be mixed with saliva and chewed until they become liquid to release their full nutritional value. Because digestion becomes so efficient when you chew your food thoroughly, your body will begin to feel wonderfully light. To get into the habit of chewing correctly, try counting the chews in each bite, aiming for 30 to 50 times. It helps if you put your fork down between bites.

 The New York Times reported on a few scientific studies to support the claim that eating slowly is a method for consuming fewer calories. Who could imagine that losing weight is as simple as taking a few more minutes to slow down and eat what is already on your plate?

5 Tips to Slow Down at Meal Time:

  1. Take 3 deep breaths before your meal.

  1. Place your fork down between each bite, or use chopsticks to eat.

  1. Chew your food at least 30-50 times before swallowing.

  1. Savor the flavors and textures that are happening in your mouth.

  1. Eat in a calm, relaxed atmosphere as often as possible.
Keep it fresh!
- Lauren

Information adapted from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Lower Cholesterol, Naturally

How's your cholesterol? The good news is that lowering your cholesterol down to a safer level could be easier than you think. In fact, with simple lifestyle modifications people often see significant reductions in cholesterol within six weeks.

Get going right now, with these 10 easy, all natural tips:

Get Moving

Whether your goal is to lower your cholesterol, shed some extra pounds, or both, regular exercise can help you get there. I’m not talking about high-intensity workouts, either, though boosting your intensity can elevate HDL (“good”) cholesterol. Walking and other, more moderate physical activities are good for your heart, too. Walking is one of the simplest, safest and least expensive LDL-lowering strategies. Walking just 30 minutes a day protects the heart by increasing the size of LDL particles (bigger is better), decreasing inflammation and targeting dangerous belly fat. Just remember to pick up the pace, because faster is better for health and longevity. Whichever activity (or activities) you choose, just make sure you're doing it for 30 minutes at least 5 days a week.

Shed a Few Pounds

If you weigh more than you should, slimming down may produce a significant drop in your cholesterol level. In fact, shedding just 5 to 10 pounds may be enough to improve your cholesterol level. If you’re making sure to fit in some workouts into your daily routine, you’ll already be on your way to shedding a few pounds!

Limit Animal Products

In general, cutting your dietary saturated fats will lower cholesterol. Peanut butter, avocados, olive and canola oils, and most nuts are mostly monounsaturated fat (fat that can help lower LDL and triglycerides while raising HDL). It's a much healthier choice than saturated fat, found primarily in animal products--meats, butter, full-fat milk and cheese. Saturated fat can elevate your cholesterol level more than anything else you might eat.

Eat More Fiber, Particularly Beans

Fruits & vegetables, including whole grains, are good sources not only of heart-healthy antioxidants but also cholesterol-lowering dietary fiber. Soluble fiber, in particular, can help lower cholesterol. It acts like a sponge to absorb cholesterol in the digestive tract.

Except for your morning wheat bran, no food is more fiber-rich than beans. And beans are especially high in cholesterol-lowering soluble fiber. Eating a cup of any type of beans a day-particularly kidney, navy, pinto, black, chickpea, or butter beans-can lower cholesterol by as much as 10 percent in 6 weeks.

Soluble fiber forms a gel in water that helps bind acids and cholesterol in the intestinal tract, preventing their re-absorption into the body. This may be why soluble fiber helps to lower cholesterol levels (and decreases the risk of heart disease). Soluble fiber is also found in oats and oat bran, barley, brown rice, beans, apples, carrots, and most other fruits and vegetables.

Keep your cupboards stocked with canned beans of all kinds: black, white, kidney, fat-free refried, etc. You'll always have the makings of a delicious, healthful dinner on hand. Beans add protein and fiber to any dish and can be used in salads, stuffed baked potatoes, veggie chili, or pureed for sandwich spreads. And since they come in cans, beans are handy to use. But remember to rinse canned beans first--they're packed in a high-sodium liquid.

Savor Dark Organic Chocolate

Want to help your heart the next time you indulge in chocolate candy? Choose the dark (at least 70% or more), organic kind. Compared to milk chocolate, it has more than three times as many antioxidants. These flavonoid antioxidants work to keep blood platelets from sticking together and may even help keep your arteries unclogged. Unfortunately, white chocolate has no flavonoids at all. Savor one small square each day, for your health!

Eat Apples

An apple a day keeps the cardiologist away. They serve up a cholesterol-lowering fiber called pectin. Another ingredient in apples, called polyphenols, functions as a strong antioxidant and prompts the liver to clear LDL cholesterol. Eating the apple skin ensures the highest level of antioxidant intake.

Drink Green

Research in both animals and humans has shown that green tea contains compounds that can help lower LDL cholesterol. Green tea is available in a variety of different flavors for you to find one that suits your taste buds!

Eat Garlic

Garlic is a regular chemical factory, with lots of active ingredients that not only lower LDL, but also function as powerful antioxidants and blood thinners. Garlic lowers LDL by dampening the activity of the main cholesterol-producing enzyme in the liver. Eating as little as a clove a day has been shown to rev up the body’s ability to dissolve blood clots, which can precipitate a heart attack by sealing off plaque-filled arteries.

Eat Flaxseeds

Flaxseeds are a wonderful plant source of omega-3 anti-inflammatory fats, a plus in countering the inflammatory disorder atherosclerosis. Two other components of flaxseeds actually target LDL cholesterol: lignan and fiber. Lignans are hormone-like plant chemicals that function as powerful antioxidants and dampen the actions of two key cholesterol-producing enzymes. Be sure to eat only ground flaxseeds, or else their thick coating inhibits digestion. Keep flaxseeds (ground or whole) in the refrigerator or freezer to prevent spoiling.

Don’t Smoke

Smoking lowers levels of HDL "good" cholesterol and is a major risk factor for heart disease.

WAIT: Check This Out!!!!

Andrea Beaman just posted a really interesting article on her website called The Cholesterol Myth. It's interesting and definitely worth giving a quick read. She talks about the importance of cholesterol as well as certain factors that may be contributing to high cholesterol levels. I LOVE her!!!!!!

Keep it fresh!
- Lauren

Friday, June 3, 2011

Cha Cha Cha CHIA!!

Yes, chia seeds as in the ones that grow chia pets! These super seeds are jam packed with nothing but nutritious goodness. Next time you're at your local health food store, be sure to grab a bag of chia seeds to start incorporating them into your meals.

Dr. Andrew Weil, explains the benefits of chia seeds wonderfully here: Chia is an edible seed that comes from the desert plant Salvia hispanica, a member of the mint family that grows abundantly in southern Mexico. You may have seen chia sprouts growing on the novelty planters called Chia Pets, but historically, the seeds have been the most important part of the plant. In pre-Columbian times they were a main component of the Aztec and Mayan diets and were the basic survival ration of Aztec warriors. I've read that one tablespoon was believed to sustain an individual for 24 hours. The Aztecs also used chia medicinally to stimulate saliva flow and to relieve joint pain and sore skin.

Chia is very rich in omega-3 fatty acids, even more so than flax seeds. And it has another advantage over flax: chia is so rich in antioxidants that the seeds don't deteriorate and can be stored for long periods without becoming rancid. And, unlike flax, they do not have to be ground to make their nutrients available to the body. Chia seeds also provide fiber (25 grams give you 6.9 grams of fiber) as well as calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, manganese, copper, iron, molybdenum, niacin, and zinc.

Another advantage: when added to water and allowed to sit for 30 minutes, chia forms a gel. Researchers suggest that this reaction also takes place in the stomach, slowing the process by which digestive enzymes break down carbohydrates and convert them into sugar.
Chia is undergoing something of a renaissance after centuries of neglect. It was a major crop in central Mexico between 1500 and 900 B.C. and was still cultivated well into the 16th century, AD, but after the Spanish conquest, authorities banned it because of its close association with Aztec religion (Indians used the seeds as offerings in rituals). Until recently, chia was produced by only a few small growers, but commercial production has resumed in Latin America, and you can now buy the seeds online and in health food stores.

Because of its nutritional value and stability, chia is already being added to a range of foods. Research has shown that adding it to chicken feed makes for eggs rich in omega-3s. Feeding chia to chickens enriches their meat with omega-3s; fed to cattle chia enriches milk with omega-3s. Chia can also be added to commercially prepared infant formulas, baby foods, baked goods, nutrition bars, yogurt, and other foods. Another bonus: insects don't like the chia plant so it is easier to find organically grown varieties.

Information adapted from Andrew Weil, M.D.

Chia has a nutlike flavor. You can mix seeds in water and add lime or lemon juice and sugar to make a drink known in Mexico and Central America as "chia fresca," (see my altered recipe below). As with ground flax seeds, you can sprinkle ground or whole chia seeds on cereal, in yogurt or salads, eat them as a snack, or grind them and mix them with flour when making muffins or other baked goods. I find them tasty, easy, and an interesting addition to my diet.

Here are some other fun facts about chia seeds:

Easily digestible. You do not need to grind the chia seeds to digest it. It is a relatively easy to digest seed, whereas flax seeds are not. Often, one has to grind flax seeds to be able to process them in their digestive system. That is not the case with chia seeds.

Nutritious. Chia seed provides ample calcium and protein to your tissues. The seeds are also rich in boron, which helps the body assimilate and use calcium. The nutrients also support proper brain functioning.

Water loving seeds. The chia seeds are great for athletes because they are highly hydrophilic. Being hydrophilic means it absorbs large amounts of water. Chia Seeds can absorb over 10 times their weight in water making them a great enhancer in hydrating our bodies. They absorb the water we drink holding it in our system longer.

Slimming and trimming. The chia seed gels when becoming wet and this gel, when in our digestive systems, helps prevent some of the food, hence calories that we eat from getting absorbed into our system. This blockage of calorie absorption makes the chia seed a great diet helper. Eating the seeds also helps dieters by making them feel fuller faster so they will be less hungry!

Cleansing. Chia seeds provide antioxidant activity
Chia is a great addition to a detoxification program. Chia seeds are high in fiber and in healthy oils making them an excellent addition to many detox programs.

Versatile and mild tasting. Mix Chia seeds into yogurt, sprinkle them on cereal in the morning, add to salads, or even add them to your baking. There are many ways to add chia seeds into your daily routine!

'Coconut Lime Chia Fresca'

2 tsp chia seeds
2 cups coconut water
juice of half a lime

Combine all ingredients in a glass and stir to combine. Let rest for ten minutes. Stir once more and set aside for ten minutes longer. Serve chilled. (Serves 1-2)

Healthy benefits: electrolytes, minerals, omega 3’s, dietary fiber and low-sugar!

Keep it fresh!
- Lauren

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Play more, Eat less....

Remember when you were a child and you got so wrapped up in playing, imagining or creating that you didn't want to stop when it was time to eat? Do you remember leaving your meal half-finshed to run off and continue playing? Children innately understand that food is secondary to what is most nutritious and primary in life: fun and play.

As adults we seem to have lost our instinct to prioritize play. In our busy world, with its emphasis on work and responsibility, to be healthy and balanced we must work on more than just our bodies; we must feed our hearts, minds and spirits.

Have you noticed that when your body, mind and spirit are engaged in a creative project or happy relationship, your reliance on food seems to decrease? Likewise, when you are unsatisfied with your relationship, your job or other areas of your life, you may depend on food to cheer, soothe or numb you. When your life is out of balance, no amount of food can feed you where you truly need nourishment. The food that we eat is very important for health and balance, but what really feeds us---a full and fulfilling life --doesn't come on a plate.

What is fun for you? What makes you light up? What excites you? Make time for it this week. Even if you don't have much free time for fun, try approaching a "serious" activity with an attitude of play. This can greatly reduce stress and anxiety and bring more pleasure to your day. Take your focus off food, try adding more fun into your life and watch the magic unfold!!

Keep it Fresh!

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Natural Allergy Relief

If you are one of the 35 million Americans that suffer each year during the pollen season, this article is for you! Seasonal allergies tend to occur during the spring and fall, when pollen and ragweed are at their peak. Each season, those who deal with allergies are often desperate for ANY solution to their suffering. Below is a more natural approach to relief instead of over the counter or prescription drugs.

Some of you may be familiar with Dr. Andrew Weil. He is one of the leading physicians in the health and wellness field right now. He is the author of several best-selling health and nutrition books including Spontaneous Healing, Eight Weeks to Optimum Health, Eating Well for Optimum Health and the cookbook The Healthy Kitchen. Dr. Weil is a graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Medical School, is Clinical Professor of Medicine at the University of Arizona and director of the Program in Integrative Medicine at that institution.

Being a proponent of holistic and integrative nutrition, Dr. Weil is not a great fan of antihistamines, which don't change the allergic process but merely block its expression. He says that steroid nasal inhalers used for treatment of hay fever and other seasonal allergies can be very effective, but some of the steroids are bound to get into the rest of the body and these hormones weaken the immune system. His preference among conventional treatments is the non-prescription drug cromolyn sodium (Nasalcrom Nasal Solution). It works and is nontoxic. If that doesn't help, you may have to try a steroid nasal spray such as Vancensae, preferably for a limited time.

Dr. Weil also recommends trying some lifestyle modifications. All allergies have the potential to disappear if you make changes in both lifestyle and your mental state. Here are some of his suggestions:

Skip on the milk. Follow a low-protein diet and try to eliminate milk and milk products. Excessive protein can irritate the immune system and keep it in a state of over activity. The protein in cow's milk is a frequent offender.

Get hypnotized! Try hypnosis, which can lessen or completely prevent allergic reactions and facilitate the immune system's unlearning of its pointless habits (in this case, an inappropriate response to pollen, dust, mold or animal hair or other substances that cannot really hurt us).

Chill out. Consider whether stress impacts your allergy and, if so, take steps to reduce it. Dr. Weil has seen long-standing, severe seasonal allergies disappear when people switched jobs, left a relationship or otherwise eliminated a source of stress.

Dust-proof your home. Dust-proof your bedroom by eliminating wall-to-wall carpets, down-filled blankets, feather pillows and other dust catchers. Encase your mattress in an airtight, dust-proof plastic cover; dust your furniture with a damp cloth; and damp-mop floors regularly to pick up dust.

Get a HEPA filter. Consider buying an air filter. Dr. Weil recommends a HEPA (high-efficiency particulate air) filter, which removes particles in the air by forcing it through screens containing microscopic pores. These devices work well and aren't too expensive. Get one for the main rooms in your house, or move one from room to room regularly. Avoid air-filtering equipment that generates ozone (HEPA filters don't).

Invest in a neti pot. What could be simpler than rinsing away allergens with saltwater? Neti pots have been used in India for thousands of years to flush the sinuses and keep them clear. It’s an idea that takes some getting used to for most Westerners, but it’s a bit like using nasal spray. A little douse of saltwater can rinse away those prickly pollen grains and help treat allergies and other forms of sinus congestion. Refer to my old blog post regarding the neti pot for more information.

Ask your doctor about quercetin. A natural plant-derived compound called a bioflavonoid, quercetin helps stabilize mast cells and prevents them from releasing histamine. Quercetin also is a natural antioxidant that helps mop up molecules called free radicals that cause cell damage, which can lead to cancer. Citrus fruits, onions, apples, parsley, tea, tomatoes, broccoli, lettuce and wine are naturally high in quercetin, but allergy sufferers will most likely need to use supplements to build up enough of this compound to prevent attacks. The recommended dosage is about 1,000 milligrams a day, taken between meals. It’s best to start treatment six weeks before allergy season. Those with liver disease shouldn’t use quercetin, so please consult your doctor before using this or any other supplement — especially if you are pregnant or nursing.

Eat allergy fighting foods. A recent health study found that participants who ate foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids were less likely to suffer allergy symptoms than those who didn’t regularly eat these foods. Omega-3s help fight inflammation and can be found in cold-water fish, walnuts and flaxseed oil, as well as grass-fed meat and eggs.

To help keep airways clear when pollen counts are high, add a dash of horseradish, chili peppers or hot mustard to your food — all act as natural, temporary decongestants. It’s also a good idea to avoid foods that you’re slightly allergic to until the air clears. Fighting off allergies can render the body hypersensitive to those foods, causing more severe reactions than usual.

Hopefully you will find some, if not a lot of relief from one or more of the suggestions above. My favorite thing to do during this season is to drink a cup of hot water first thing in the morning with nothing in it. The steam helps to relieve any congestion in my sinuses. Best wishes for a sniffle-free Spring for you!

Keep it fresh!
- Lauren