How I Travel Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free, Soy-Free
& Sugar-Free

Travel Gluten-free

After living with numerous chronic illnesses for over a decade, I’ve become the best co-pilot to bring along on any trip.

We all know how tough it can be to eat healthy while traveling; add food allergies or intolerances to your trip and it can seem even harder. Aside from the endless packing and lingering jet-lag the last thing you want to do is spend hours in the kitchen preparing healthy food for your trip.

However, there are endless options for organic, whole foods that can keep you satisfied until you reach your destination. Eating naturally gluten, dairy, soy and sugar-free is easier than you think; all fruits, vegetables and quality proteins such as nuts, seeds, chicken, turkey, eggs and hummus are great options. Take some almond butter in a sealable container with a few whole grain rice cakes to enjoy as a snack during your trip. Or make your own trail mix with raw nuts and seeds such as walnuts, almonds, cashews, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds and more!

You can also carry along a baggie of organic ground flaxseeds, chia seeds and hemp seeds to sprinkle on your salads or coconut yogurt for an added boost of protein when you’re in the airport, on the plane or when you reach your destination. I’ve found it can be difficult to find organic animal protein when I travel, so I carry these three anti-inflammatory seeds to help me get a protein boost when I can’t find a piece of organic chicken.

It only takes a few minutes to prepare a handful of nibbles that you can enjoy whether you are traveling via foot, car, plane or boat.  Here are some quick and easy snack ideas to make the most out of your healthy travels. (more…)

Posted by on Jul 31, 2015 | 0 Comments

The Organic Effect – What Really Happens When You Switch To Organic Food

Eating Organic Food

Want to know what happens in your body when you switch from eating conventional food to organic? Watch this powerful 90 second video.

The study was conducted by the Swedish Environmental Research Institute IVL, and the full report is available here:

A family that doesn’t buy organic because of the cost eats only organic for two weeks.  In this 90 second video, the impact will astound you.

We need to refinance and restructure our food system. Instead of using taxpayer resources to finance a food system that has been genetically engineered to withstand increasing doses of herbicides, insecticides and pesticides, let’s refinance and structure a food system that makes organic food affordable to all who want it.

Posted by on Jul 30, 2015 | 0 Comments

You Might Be Eating Sugar And Not Even Know It

By Be Well Health Coach Jenny Sansouci

Are you eating more sugar than you think you are? If you’re trying to cut down on (or eliminate) sugar, it may not be as simple as it sounds. Sugar seems to sneak into virtually every processed food, and often under code names that don’t explicitly say “sugar.”

There are a lot of health reasons to cut down on your added sugar intake — check out these 20 Ways To Get Sugar Out Of Your Life.

If you’re using sweeteners, we always recommend the least processed sweeteners possible – raw honey, pure maple syrup and stevia are among our favorites. And above all, a fresh piece of fruit is truly the best way to indulge in a little sweetness. If you free yourself from added sugars, you’ll find that fruit tastes incredibly sweet on its own.

In the meantime, here are a few names sugar hides behind. Get familiar, and don’t be fooled by these sweet-sounding disguises! While some are better for you than others (some of them are way more processed than others), they still act like sugar in your body.

Just a Few of the Many Names for Sugar

  • Evaporated Cane Juice
  • Brown Rice Syrup
  • Agave
  • Barley Malt
  • Beet Sugar
  • Blackstrap Molasses
  • Brown Sugar
  • Cane Juice
  • Coconut Sugar
  • Turbinado Sugar
  • Honey
  • Maple Syrup
  • Malodextrin
  • Lactose
  • Maltose
  • Corn Syrup
  • Corn Syrup Solids
  • High Fructose Corn Syrup
  • Invert sugar
  • Crystalline Fructose
  • Date Sugar
  • Demara Sugar
  • Muscavado Sugar
  • Raw Sugar
  • Glucose
  • Fructose

The good news is this: if you’re focusing on eating whole foods as they’re found in nature, and you aren’t eating processed foods from a package, your risk of eating these pesky hidden sugars is way less. Make it easier on yourself – go for the real foods, and you won’t have to do any of this sugar-finding detective work!

Posted by on Jul 28, 2015 | 0 Comments

Damon Gameau Discusses His New Movie “That Sugar Film”

That Sugar Film
An interview with Australian actor, Damon Gameau, who went on a journey to discover the bitter truth about sugar. In his excellent new movie, That Sugar Film, he documents the effects of a high sugar diet on a healthy body, consuming only foods that are commonly perceived as ‘healthy’. I highly recommend it!!!

Dr L: Tell us, what was your ‘game changing’ moment that inspired you to create a documentary about sugar?

Damon: I remember discussing the idea with friends and we were really struggling to come up with an idea for the narrative of the film. How would we tell the story? I was in a supermarket and picked up a can of tomato soup and saw that it had 8 teaspoons of sugar in it. I thought ‘I wonder what would happen if Idid an experiment eating only the ‘hidden’ sugar in foods that most people wouldn’t be unaware of?’ It just rolled on from there..

Dr L: You subjected yourself to 40 teaspoons of sugar for 60 days, was this hard to do?

Damon: Surprisingly not, which is sad to say. I kept a food diary of my entire 60 days of sugar eating madness which is up on our website so people can see how simple it was. Considering my cereal, low fat yoghurt and apple juice had me at 20 teaspoons just for breakfast, it wasn’t difficult to find another 20 teaspoons for the rest of the day.

Dr L: The sugar you ate was from perceived ‘healthy foods’ at the supermarket – is that right?

Damon: That’s right, so the rules were that I had to eat 40 teaspoons a day, which is what the average Australian is eating between the age of 19 and 30, of sucrose or fructose but it had to be found in perceived ‘healthy foods’. So, no chocolate, ice cream, lollies or soft drink. The sugar was mainly coming from low fat yoghurt, granola bars, cereals, sports drinks, vitamin waters and condiments.

Dr L: What did a typical day of eating look like whilst on the sugary experiment? (more…)

Posted by on Jul 27, 2015 | 0 Comments

The Ugly Side of Manicures and Pedicures

Manicure and Pedicure
This article originally appeared on
For many women, the beauty of a manicure and pedicure comes at a terrible price. Although those who are on the receiving end of these beauty treatments face some health risks, the price is mostly paid by those who provide these salon services, and the cost can include devastating health problems and even death. In addition, the women often are forced to work excessively long hours, without pay during training, and below minimum wage once they are hired.

Currently there are few published scientific studies showing the relationship between the use of nail products by salon workers and health problems, but the anecdotal evidence is horrifying. A new report in the New York Times related the personal stories of manicurists who have suffered from unusually high rates of a wide variety of health ailments, ranging from respiratory and skin conditions to miscarriages, birth defects, low-birth weight infants, Hodgkin’s disease, leukemia, and a form of cancer called multiple myeloma.

The ugly side of manicures and pedicures is not limited to the United States. North of the border, a CTV News story commented on the New York report. Anne Rochon Ford, co-director of National Network on Environment and Women’s Health, said “The degree of the problem, as far as we know, is comparable here. We can’t say for sure how bad the situation is.”

Why is this happening? One reason is that the manufacturers of nail salon products are not required by federal law to reveal safety information with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). In fact, the FDA states that “Cosmetic products and ingredients do not need FDA premarket approval with the exception of color additives,” and “the law also does not require cosmetic companies to share their safety information with the FDA.”

Basically, cosmetics makers are free to market whatever they want. If anyone questions the integrity of their nail products, as was done by a coalition in California, the cosmetic industry has stepped in and blocked those efforts.

In the meantime, the manicurists, who are often women from Vietnam, the Philippines, Asia, and South and Central America, are exposed to high levels of chemical fumes and solvents as they paint, polish, and file nails of clients day after day. These worker see doctors and complain about an inability to breathe, constant nose bleeds, painful throats, skin disorders, fungal infections, warts, and persistent coughs.

In addition, there are repeated reports of miscarriages, children born with significant developmental problems, and other maternal complications among women who work as manicurists. A study in the International Archives of Occupational and Environmental Health recently reported on the impact of chemical exposure among women working as manicurists and cosmetologists in California. The authors noted an association for small for gestational age among Vietnamese manicurists when compared with other working women. In addition, there was an increased risk of gestational diabetes and placentia previa when compared with the general population.

Toxic Nail Products

In a nail salon safety publication published by the Environmental Protection Agency, there is a list of 20 common nail product ingredients that are known to cause health problems. Seventeen of those ingredients are associated with respiratory problems, such as asthma-like symptoms. In a study of nearly 1,900 manicurists, cosmeticians, cosmetologists, and barbers in Colorado, researchers found that application of artificial nails (as well as hairstyling and shaving) were associated with a nearly threefold increased risk of developing asthma.

In addition, other symptoms associated with these nail product ingredients include shortness of breath, burning throat, labored breathing, and cough. Most of the ingredients are known to cause headache, eye and skin irritation, and dizziness, and several are carcinogens. Of the known toxins, three are especially hazardous to nail salon workers.

Dibutyl phthalate: This chemical is used in nail polish and other items to make nails pliable. Overexposure to this toxin can irritate the eyes, upper respiratory tract, and stomach, while prolonged exposure can have a negative impact on human reproduction and development. Although dibutyl phthalate is banned in cosmetics in the European Union and will soon be prohibited in Australia, it is still allowed in the United States. Dibutyl phthalate has been associated with reproductive disorders. A study in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine noted that manicurists can reduce their exposure to this toxin by wearing gloves.

Toluene: This solvent helps nail polish go on smoothly, but its health hazards are anything but. The Food and Drug Administration notes that toluene overexposure can irritate the eyes and nose and cause weakness, confusion, dizziness, headache, dilated pupils, runny eyes, insomnia, rash, exhaustion, numbness and/or tingling, muscle fatigue, and abnormal feelings of euphoria. More serious overexposure can damage the liver and kidneys and have a negative impact on the developing fetus.

Formaldehyde: It’s likely no coincidence that this chemical, which is used in embalming and as a hardening ingredient in nail products, also has been named as a human carcinogen by the National Toxicology Program in the United States. The European Union has banned it from cosmetics by 2016, but formaldehyde is still used in the United States.

The cosmetics industry insists these ingredients are not dangerous. When considering the three main toxins just mentioned, Lisa Powers, a spokeswoman for the Personal Care Products Council, insisted that they “have been found to be safe under current conditions of use in the United States.”

The cosmetics industry has strongly lobbied Congress to prevent regulation of their products, and so far they have been successful. Even the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, the federal agency that determines chemical exposure levels in the workplace, has stated that manicurists are not exposed to excessive levels of chemicals. Health experts, however, say the set limits are not strong enough and that workers are still working in dangerous conditions

Who Is Helping the Nail Salon Workers?

Although the EPA has issued guidelines for Protecting the Health of Nail Salon Workers, salons are not required to follow them. Each individual state also has requirements from its cosmetology board and/or state health department. However, nail salons can easily ignore or get around these requirements.

Some of the recommendations from the EPA include the use of masks, gloves, and eye protection by manicurists. It’s easy to understand why salon owners would not want their manicurists to don these protective items when taking care of clients! Yet these recommendations also are fair warning that clients who frequent these establishments are placing themselves in danger as well, although to a lesser extent.

One solution (which I do on a weekly basis) is to bring all of your own nontoxic nail care products to the salon. Simply explain to the manicurist and salon owner that you prefer to be treated with your own products. I bring everything from nail polish remover, nail polish, top coat, base coat, and hand lotion. Sure, sometimes I meet some resistance, but it’s a small price to pay to get the chemicals out. You can check out the Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep project and Campaign for Safe Cosmetics for some safe nail products.

Efforts to get nail salons to follow safer practices has not been very successful. In California, for example, an attempt to ban dibutyl phthalate from cosmetics sold or made in the state was eventually shot down because of lobbying by the cosmetics companies. A much-watered down bill passed that requires cosmetic manufacturers to reveal certain hazardous chemicals to the California Department of Public Health. But what is being done for the workers?

Soon after the release of the New York Times article about the serious health problems among manicurists, New York State Governor Andrew M. Cuomo ordered a new, multiagency task force to begin investigating salons in the state. New regulations are being put into place that will protect manicurists from the environmental toxins in their workplaces.

While Gov. Cuomo’s efforts can be applauded, they also need to be duplicated by other states and then enforced. Changes also need to be made in the cosmetic industry to eliminate the use of health-damaging ingredients to help protect the health of consumers and especially the women who work in nail salons everywhere.

Posted by on Jul 24, 2015 | 3 Comments

Why The Power of Kindness Is Good For Everyone

Power of Kindness
Reprinted with permission from Experience Life Magazine.
Written by Elizabeth Millard

How being good to others can be good for you.

Treating other people well isn’t just good for your karma. It’s good for your health and vitality, too.

Psychology researcher Barbara Fredrickson, PhD, author of Love 2.0: Creating Happiness and Health in Moments of Connection, studies how “micro-moments” of connection with others, like sharing a smile or expressing concern, improve emotional resilience, boost the immune system, and reduce susceptibility to depression and anxiety.

In Fredrickson’s view, our psyches need affirmative human connection in much the same way that our bodies need wholesome food.

“Moments of uplifting positive emotions function like nutrients for creativity, growth, and health,” she says.

Still, while none of us wakes with the intention to curse other drivers, snap at our kids, or shame our employees, we do — more often than anyone likes.

And according to psychologist Elisha Goldstein, PhD, author of Uncovering Happiness: Overcoming Depression with Mindfulness and Self-Compassion, this may be because our brains contain a “negativity bias,” which favors cautious, fear-based thoughts over generous, positive ones.

We’ve evolved this defense mechanism to protect us from lurking danger, he notes, but it doesn’t protect our relationships very well. And in our fast-paced culture, where we compete for everything from parking spaces to pay raises, our primal survival behaviors are triggered routinely.

“We live in a kind of fundamental scarcity,” explains Kristi Nelson, executive director of A Network for Grateful Living, a nonprofit that promotes gratitude practice. “That sense of scarcity tends to run our lives.”

It also leads to perpetual rushing, which only makes matters worse. In Nelson’s view, the “preoccupation with always getting somewhere and getting more” drives an unhealthy tendency toward self-focus. We start to believe “it’s me or them.” All the time.

Under this kind of pressure, the very idea of being kind — keeping the needs and feelings of others in mind, showing care and empathy — can start to seem like a luxury at best. At worst, it just seems foolish.

Yet the act of focusing on others can reduce our eat-or-be-eaten anxieties. And in the process, it may actually improve our health and well-being.

In 2013 Fredrickson conducted a six-week study at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill that tested the effects of meditation on stress. Instead of focusing on a mantra or the sound of the breath, participants were instructed to meditate on compassionate thoughts toward themselves and others — including people they did not like.

After six weeks, participants were tested for the effects of their practice on the vagus nerve, a cerebral nerve that stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system to regulate digestion and cardiovascular health. In participants who reported an increase in positive feelings and social connections, “vagal tone” was also improved.

And kindness does get easier with practice. When we’re good to others, says Goldstein, our mental habits of scarcity, negativity, and rigidity begin to shift. We become less and less worried about getting our share.

Interested in encouraging that positive shift within yourself? Here are eight simple ways to begin. (more…)

Posted by on Jul 23, 2015 | 0 Comments

You Have To Take Antibiotics, Now What?

By Be Well Health Coach Katrine van Wyk

I try to avoid taking antibiotics as best as I can. Yet, sometimes antibiotics are lifesaving and necessary. Antibiotics unfortunately do not pick and choose – they take out everything in their path — including the good gut flora your body needs to support long-term health. Here are some tips for what to do during and after a course of antibiotics to help your gut flora flourish again.


Probiotics are beneficial microbes that populate our gut. These good bacteria are crucial for our overall health and wellbeing, so take them seriously and repopulate your gut with these regularly with both food and supplements. When your body gets hit with a dose of antibiotics – supplement with a high-dose probiotic and make it a point to take them as far apart from your antibiotic dose as possible. Look for probiotics that deliver 20-50 billion IU’s per dose and contain a combination of different strains of Lactobacillus and Bifidobacteria. Continue taking it for a month or more after finishing the antibiotics.

Good Yeast

Take a daily supplement of Saccharomyces Boulardii, a good yeast, to help prevent any overgrowth of bad yeast like Candida after the course of antibiotics. In the Be Well store, you can find this as Mycoflora.

Fermented Food

Fermented foods contain plenty of good bacteria for the gut and are generally really well absorbed too. Try sauerkraut (raw!), kimchi, kefir and beet kvass and include it in your daily diet. (more…)

Posted by on Jul 21, 2015 | 0 Comments

Reversing Type 2 Diabetes Starts With Ignoring the Guidelines

Great TEDx talk by Obesity expert, Dr Sarah Hallberg on how our guidelines for treating Diabetes are totally incorrect, and if one wants to reverse Diabetes, one starts by ignoring the guidelines. 

Posted by on Jul 20, 2015 | 1 Comments

5 Sugar-free Desserts To Sweeten Your Summer Party

By Be Well Health Coach Kerry Bajaj

If you’re living the Be Well lifestyle and on the journey of cutting out refined sugar, you may be running into one stumbling block: what to do about birthday celebrations?  In our culture, it seems unthinkable to have anything but a beautifully decorated cake with lots of frosting for a birthday.  But, there is another way!  Here are 5 gorgeous desserts that are worthy of a summer birthday celebration. This way, you can have your cake and eat it too — without weight gain or a sugar hangover.
Raw Cashew Dreamcake

Raw Cashew Dreamcake

I’ve made this Raw Cashew Dreamcake recipe many times for special occasions and it’s always a big hit! The pink and white layers look so elegant and this dreamcake is delicious.

Watermelon “Cake”

Check out this Paleo Watermelon Cake from!  There are many variations on this theme if you search for “watermelon fruit cake” on Pinterest. You can also find simpler recipes that only use fruit, without the coconut frosting.

Raw Chocolate Raspberry Mini Fudge Cake

For the chocolate lovers out there, I’ve got you covered!  Here’s a Raw Chocolate Raspberry Fudge Cake. We don’t recommend agave, so I would use honey instead for this recipe.

Strawberry Rhubarb Icebox Pie

I love the simple, seasonal list of ingredients for this Strawberry Rhubarb Icebox Pie. Perfect for a summer celebration!

Key Lime Pie

I absolutely love using avocado as a base for desserts. I’ve also made this Key Lime Pie recipe and it does not disappoint! This recipe calls for ⅓ to ½ cup of honey – I always add less, and taste and add a bit of stevia if I feel it’s necessary.


Posted by on Jul 17, 2015 | 0 Comments

7 Skin Care Ingredients That Sound Toxic But Are Actually Safe and Clean

Safe Skincare
We’ve come a long way in the skin care industry. We now know that a lot of the chemical ingredients we’ve used for decades can be harsh, damaging, and sometimes even toxic. We’re turning to more natural, plant-sourced ingredients that truly nourish and protect skin without the potential side effects.

Sometimes we can go overboard in our zeal for what’s “natural,” though, and end up avoiding ingredients that are actually beneficial to skin.

The following seven ingredients, for example, sound like chemicals that could be bad for you, but are actually perfectly safe and beneficial to use. If you see these on your ingredient list, you can rest easy that they won’t hurt you.

Not All Chemicals are Bad

The truth is that most every ingredient can have a difficult-to-pronounce, chemical sounding name. Even jojoba oil is known as Simmondsia chinensis scientifically. “Ascorbic acid” is another name for vitamin C, and different forms of vitamin E are called “tocopherols” or “tocotrienols.”

We can break most anything down to a chemical formula. Even water is H2O, right? So though on the whole, long, crazy chemical names signal potential “danger” to the ingredient-conscious consumer, there are a few that when you see them, you can scan right past them, knowing they won’t hurt you—and may even be good for your skin.

Here are seven of those toxic-sounding but safe ingredients.

  1. MSM (Methylsulfonylmethane)

Scary long name aside, this is a special biological sulfur found in plants, soils, fruits, vegetables, fish, eggs, meats, and milk. It’s also found naturally in humans. Chemical name, but natural compound.

You may have seen it in joint supplements, as it’s been found in some studies (along with glucosamine) to help ease arthritis pain. MSM for skin? Turns out when it’s applied topically it penetrates deeply to help encourage hydration. It also has a natural anti-inflammatory effect—good for irritated and sensitive skin.

  1. Hyaluronic Acid

This is another substance that occurs naturally in the human body. A type of carbohydrate (made up of simple sugars), it binds to water and helps to lubricate eyes, joints, muscles, and yes, skin. That’s why you’ll find it most often in anti-aging and moisturizing products.

  1. Xanthan Gum

This ingredient is another carbohydrate made through fermentation. Manufacturers use sugar from soy, wheat, dairy, or corn, and add a particular type of bacteria called Xanthomonas campetris. The result is a slimy substance that helps to thicken and emulsify skin care formulas.

Even though it may not sound very appetizing, remember that things like beer, sauerkraut, and other everyday items are made through similar fermentation processes. Those who are gluten-sensitive may want to be careful that the source of the xanthan gum isn’t wheat, but there are manufacturers who have made the decision to use only gluten-free and non-GMO-sourced xanthan gum. Otherwise, this one is harmless in skin care. In foods, it can cause digestive upset in some sensitive people. (more…)

Posted by on Jul 16, 2015 | 0 Comments