Eating Out, Be Well Style

Eating Out

By Be Well Health Coach Jackie Damboragian

When you start to change your eating choices and habits, eating out can be a point of confusion for many. We see this all the time with patients at the office—they want to stick to their food plan because they’re feeling great, but they also want to be able to enjoy eating out with others and not feel like they are sabotaging their hard efforts. While it is helpful to pick a restaurant you know serves high-quality food, it’s not always possible to steer the ship.

In general, we recommend focusing your plate on roasted or grilled fish or animal protein, healthy fats like olives and avocados, and vegetables. For those of you on the Be Well Cleanse, you’ll find our cleanse-friendly tips below.  


Go for the fajitas (shrimp, chicken, or beef) with salsa and guacamole, but leave the tortillas alone. You can add rice and beans on the side.

Cleanse tip: Keep it simple and get a salad (you can always ask for a double salad if it’s too small) with grilled chicken or shrimp, topped with avocado.


Steer clear of any dishes with heavy sauces and spicy rolls; instead, opt for the simple sushi like a salmon avocado roll, yellowfin roll, or any basic roll of your choice. Choose tamari, which is a gluten-free soy sauce, if they offer it.

Cleanse tip: Since you’re avoiding grains on the cleanse, opt for naruto rolls, which are wrapped in cucumber instead of rice.


You want to be sure to skip anything cheesy, fried, or breaded. Choose dishes like roasted chicken and brussels sprouts, grilled fish and asparagus, and shrimp cocktail.

Cleanse tip: Choose any type of fish or animal protein you’d like, and pair it with vegetables and/or salad.


We certainly recommend avoiding the pasta and any fried options. Instead, opt for grilled or roasted fish or meat, a salad, and a side of sautéed vegetables such as spinach or broccoli rabe. I’ll often order an appetizer of mussels marinara and pair it with a salad and veggies to make a complete meal.

Cleanse tip: Get simply prepared grilled fish with a salad and sautéed vegetables.

I find it really helpful to scope out the menu before I get to a restaurant and decide on what may work best. It can really help to take any worry out of your dining experience. Oh, and if you’re feeling like dessert, go for fruit!

Posted by on Jun 28, 2016 | 0 Comments

Bug Off, Buddy: 6 Ways to Avoid Mosquito Bites

Avoid Mosquito Bites
Mosquitoes. This year the prospect of getting bitten is more unappealing than ever, particularly with increased awareness of and rising concerns over the diseases mosquitoes can transmit, like Zika, West Nile, dengue, etc. Even if it’s just those itchy bites that we’re all too familiar with, the fewer mosquitoes feasting on us the better. So, how to make yourself a less appealing prospect to the little buggers? While there’s no one perfect path to a bite-free summer, you can fight back in a variety of ways without having to poison yourself in the process. This season, try a few of our healthier mosquito-repelling tips, and send those nasty creatures elsewhere to dine.

1. Mosquitoes Love Some People More Than Others

If you’re one of those people who always seem to get bitten, it’s because you’ve got what they want, namely blood, and if you’ve got type O, studies indicate you’ll likely be the most popular guest at the mosquito buffet, compared to those with types A or B running through their veins. So all you type Os out there might want to ramp up your repellent efforts, particularly this summer.

2. Mosquitoes Like A Little Heavy Breathing

To attract mosquitoes, simply exhale. They’ll be able to pick up your scent—from up to 150 feet away—using the carbon dioxide you’re exhaling as a sort of dinner bell calling them to the table. Granted, holding our collective breath for the summer isn’t an option, but heading inside during peak hours is, so limit outdoor activities during mosquito-biting prime time.

3. Mosquitoes Like You Dirty, Sweaty, And Perfumed

The more scent you’ve got, the easier it is for mosquitoes to find you and take a bite. They’re attracted to all sorts of fragrances, from the ones we spray on ourselves to the ones we waft after intense exercise, like lactic acid, assorted bacteria, ammonia, and so on. So, if you’re out sweating round the track on a steamy summer day, hit the showers as quickly as possible so you don’t attract a stinging crowd. Another tip? If you tend to get bitten a lot, you may also want to lay off the brewskis—mosquitoes are attracted, for reasons not totally understood, to beer drinkers. (more…)

Posted by on Jun 27, 2016 | 1 Comments

Healthy Habits for Summer Skin

Summer Skin
There are a few lifestyle changes I make every year when summer starts. We all want to look and feel our best during the summer months, and my little mental checklist makes me feel at least a little more in control and prepared during swimsuit season. Here’s my list of healthy habits for summer-ready skin from head to toe.

Infrared Sauna

It’s relaxing, makes you drip sweat (and toxins!), and helps your skin glow. Need I say more? Infrared saunas also help to relax your muscles and improve circulation. Lately, after my workouts, I’ve been stopping by a little spot near my house that has one, and I’m quickly becoming addicted. My muscles aren’t as sore, my eyes and skin look healthier, I’m more relaxed, and most important, l just feel better overall.

Research has shown infrared saunas to help balance cortisol, your body’s primary stress hormone. They also go a long way toward relieving tension and relaxing your muscles. Plus, the heat generated by an infrared sauna will cause your core temperature to increase, which can also lead to an increased heart rate—the same increase in heart rate that you experience when exercising. Infrared saunas can penetrate the skin more deeply, increase metabolic rate, and help the body burn anywhere from 200 to 600 calories in a half-hour session! I know…sign you up?

That’s not all: These saunas will also improve skin tone and reduce signs of aging by stimulating better circulation, blood flow, and increased collagen production—all of which improve the look and health of your skin. The last thing you’d want to do after your sauna is apply skin care products that contain the toxins you just sweated out, so thank goodness for nontoxic Drunk Elephant! The C-Firma Day Serum contains anti-aging ChronoPeptide, which transforms into vitamin D and mimics the vitamin D we get through sun exposure. Which means, you guessed it: The infrared sauna and Drunk Elephant make quite the duo when it comes to fighting the signs of aging!

Dry Brushing

When I first heard about dry brushing I was intrigued, but I just couldn’t see myself taking the time to do something like that every day. It wasn’t until my husband gave me a gift certificate for a massage on my birthday that I finally decided to go for it and buy a dry brush while I was there. The woman who sold it to me said it would take care of everything from exfoliation to cellulite reduction. It sounded a little too good to be true, so I went home and did some research. As it turns out, dry brushing is the real deal. Our skin, the largest organ, is responsible for 10 to 15 percent of detox elimination, so dry brushing gives your kidneys and liver a break by helping the skin regenerate more efficiently. It helps to smooth and tone your skin, rid your body of dead skin cells, and boost circulation. And yes, it truly does help to reduce the appearance of cellulite. Suddenly, finding three minutes a day doesn’t seem like too much to ask, right? Happy brushing! (more…)

Posted by on Jun 24, 2016 | 0 Comments

10 Hacks for Better Living

Life Hacks
As a holistic psychiatrist, I would love for my patients to forage for wild greens in an old-growth forest and meditate an hour a day. But I practice in New York City, so most of my patients push back on that plan and say they can dedicate about 90 seconds per day toward wellness. To help out, I’ve identified a few life “hacks” that pack the most bang for your buck. Give some of these a try, and you’ll be feeling better with minimal effort.

1. Stand Up For Two Minutes Every Hour

Sitting is toxic. The healthiest people in the world have never been on an elliptical—they’re just a little bit active all day long. Even if you sit at a desk, approximate an active lifestyle by building micro activity into your day. Walk to the bathroom every hour, stand up to change the channel, take the stairs, or just stand up and sit back down after a minute. Any movement at all will be much better than uninterrupted sitting.

2. Get A Squatty Potty

Humans evolved squatting to poop. Sitting to have a bowel movement is a recent phenomenon, and I feel it contributes to modern gastrointestinal woes like constipation, IBS, and hemorrhoids. The Squatty Potty is safe, affordable, and potentially life-changing. This is my favorite kind of medicine, and I recommend it to everyone.

Step 1: Go to www.squattypotty.com, and pay about $25 for a 9” Squatty Potty.

Step 2: Experience the revelation of an effortless and complete evacuation.

Step 3 (the hardest step): Explain to curious houseguests what that stool is in your bathroom.

3. Eat Real Food

What’s the right diet: paleo, Mediterranean, vegan, raw? In a world of conflicting research and opinions, here’s a simple way to think about the right way to eat: Eat real food and avoid fake food. Full stop. Pay less attention to the parade of contradictory headlines—fat is bad, butter is good, carbs are bad, eggs cause heart disease (oops, now they’re healthy)…. From now on, just ask yourself: Is it real food? And a good follow-up question is: How do I feel when I eat this? Pay special attention to foods marketed as health foods. Is it real food? Probably not.

4. Count Chemicals, Not Calories

You may hear experts say a calorie is a calorie. Wrong. What you eat affects your hunger, satiety, metabolism, gut flora, insulin sensitivity, fat distribution, inflammation, and stress levels. Diet soda, with zero calories, is much more likely to send you on the path toward metabolic syndrome than a piece of grass-fed steak or veggies doused in olive oil. Chris Kresser put this best: “Count chemicals, not calories,” and you’ll make the right choice. (more…)

Posted by on Jun 23, 2016 | 2 Comments

What’s the Story with Dairy?

By Be Well Health Coach Amanda Carney

Here at Be Well, we believe that there is not one diet that is right for everyone, which means we encourage patients to get curious about how certain foods make them feel to determine if they work well with their body. Although not all foods follow this individualized plan (things like gluten and sugar are generally no-nos), dairy is one of the foods we spend time talking about with patients, and that is because there are a few things to consider when deciding if dairy is a good choice.

Not All Dairy Is Created Equal

Choosing good-quality dairy is incredibly important, not only because it is richer in nutrients, but also because it doesn’t contain all of the hormones and antibiotics that factory-farmed dairy contains. Things such as growth hormones and antibiotics used in conventional farming methods are transferred over to us when we eat such products, which can lead to hormone imbalance, a compromised microbiome, and systemic inflammation.

Good-quality dairy can include local dairy products found at your farmers’ market, such as sheep-milk yogurt and raw goat cheese. It may also include grass-fed butter and ghee, organic cheeses, and unsweetened kefir. These types of foods are a good source of healthy fat and protein and can make up part of a healthy diet.

When it is an option, we always recommend choosing full-fat dairy products that have not been sweetened. Sheep- and goat-milk dairy is generally easier for the body to digest when compared to cow-milk products.

Dairy Is A Common Food Sensitivity

One of the best ways to determine if dairy is a good choice for you is to cut it out for two weeks and then reintroduce it, watching to see if you have any reactions. If dairy is a problem for you, you may feel some digestive upset, such as bloating, gas, or heartburn, or you may notice that your stool is loose and you have the need to run to the bathroom. Other sensitivities may include stomach pains, headaches, skin irritations, or feeling fatigued. (more…)

Posted by on Jun 21, 2016 | 0 Comments

8 Ways to Fight Jet Lag

jet lag
One of summertime’s greatest joys? Travel to faraway places. One of its biggest headaches (other than the TSA lines)? Jet lag. It’s the traveler’s equivalent of a hangover, with the main difference being that you probably had no fun getting it, and the pain will last longer than the alcohol-induced kind. And why does jet lag still have such power over us? Well, for starters, rapid time-zone hopping is something our species has been doing for only a matter of decades, so few (if any) of us have fully adapted to this body clock–disrupting aspect of the miracle of flight (and it may take a very long time before anybody does). While jet lag is irritating and enervating, keep in mind it’s simply the body’s way of telling us that we’re far away from home and our rhythms are out of sync with the local time. So how to help close the gap and tame jet lag’s disruptive effects? Grab your eyeshades and consider the following jet-lag wisdom:

Let The Sunshine In, Strategically

Our circadian rhythms, aka our internal clock, impact a myriad of essential bodily functions, such as blood pressure, when we sleep, when we wake, when hormones (like melatonin) are released, when we poop, and so on. So when we cross multiple time zones, our internal clock—which takes its cues from internal and external factors like light, darkness, temperature, etc.—needs time to adapt to the new location. Research has shown that controlling your light exposure before, during, and after you fly can help speed the process. But keep in mind, westbound travelers will adjust more quickly than eastbound, and the over-40 set tend to get hit harder due to age-related melatonin-level dips. On the other hand, jet lag seems to have less impact on regular exercisers, so maintain your fitness routine at home and away.

Pick Your Plan

A week or two before you go, you may want to try your own body clock–shifting experiment by adjusting your bedtime and rising time by a few hours to start closing the time-zone gap. For example, if you’re headed east from NYC to Western Europe, try moving bedtime and rising time up by an hour or two over the course of several days prior to departure. If you’re headed west and hopping more than three time zones, you may want to try delaying bedtime and rising time. For those who prefer a more rigorous approach or are crossing numerous time zones, there’s Jet Lag Rooster, which generates free step-by-step, customized jet lag–prevention plans, plus suggests best times for bright light exposure based on your usual sleep times, flight length, time of year, and home and destination locations. Another option many travelers swear by, is the simple but austere (for some), Anti–Jet Lag Fast, which involves not eating at all for 12 to 16 hours before breakfast time in the new time zone.

Before You Go, Put The Brakes On Stress

Easier said than done, but try to start your trip in as relaxed a physical and mental state as possible. No matter what age you are, air travel is a physical stressor, so be kind to your body in the week or so prior to departure. Get more rest, eat healthy and clean, get a massage, spend time in the sauna at the gym, and ramp up your meditation practice to prep the body for the challenges ahead. Maintain your usual exercise routine, but downshift just a bit so as to prevent overtaxing the energy reserves you’ll need to tap into as your journey begins. (more…)

Posted by on Jun 20, 2016 | 0 Comments

Movement: Can You Read the Signs?

It’s time to move.

It doesn’t matter if you are reading this from your bed or your chair or from the line outside of your favorite lunch spot.

The time is now, because any time, really, is the time to move.

I didn’t learn this until a few years ago when a yoga studio opened nearby. I had never been to a gym, nor had I ever dedicated myself to any kind of exercise. But I guess it could be said that I saw a sign. Literally. It was hanging in a nearby shopping center, and I stopped in for a class schedule. It took me three more months until I signed up, but I finally made it to my first class.

I didn’t know that day would be the first day that I would start moving and never stop. I had no idea when I unrolled my mat that the practice would completely energize me, setting my wheels in motion from that day forward.

Everyone is eligible to reap the benefits of yoga. You don’t have to be flexible or muscular or have a certain body type; rather, you just have to be willing to try. There’s no question that your body will benefit, and, by default, so will your mind and spirit.

So start looking around now for your sign to move. Maybe this post is your sign! Or maybe your sign has been inside you all along, and you just can’t see it. For each of us is walking around with seven of them, and they can come into view at any time. All it takes is a little movement.   

Yoga teaches us about seven chakras, or energy centers, located along the spine. Energy moves through our bodies, and if all is going well spiritually, physically, and emotionally, each center spins in a wheel-like fashion, and our energy flows smoothly. We feel good! But when life presents its inevitable challenges, our energy centers become blocked, and it’s the yoga poses that get them spinning smoothly again.

Even if you are doubtful about these energy centers, there’s no denying that it feels better to move. Maybe it’s not something you can put your finger on, but movement shifts our perspective, clears our minds, and strengthens our bodies.

The following list outlines the benefits of the practice, as framed by the chakras. (more…)

Posted by on Jun 17, 2016 | 0 Comments

Are “Natural” Deodorants Safe and Nontoxic?

In my private consulting work, I often encounter frustrated clients who are in search of natural deodorant that really works.

You probably know that conventional deodorant and antiperspirants contain ingredients that may come with health risks; these include phthalates in the fragrance blend, parabens as preservatives, aluminum chlorohydrate to block your sweat glands, triclosan for antibacterial action, propylene glycol to soften the product, and talc to sop up wetness.

While all of these ingredients are linked with human health problems, they also are part of what make conventional deodorants so effective! So if you’ve finally found a natural or organic deodorant that’s actually keeping you from sweating and/or smelling, you probably plan to use it forever.

Nontoxic Deodorant Is Important

The good news is that anything you get in a health food store is almost certainly better than what you’d get in a drugstore. The bad news is that some “natural” deodorants aren’t entirely natural, and even those that are might contain concerning ingredients—after all, just because something comes from nature doesn’t necessarily mean it’s safe (think arsenic or tobacco!).

In general, I’m concerned about deodorant and antiperspirant because we usually apply these products every day and leave them on for long periods of time. Also, more of the product’s ingredients can penetrate the skin thanks to little nicks left behind after shaving.

What To Avoid In Natural Deodorant

When shopping for a natural, nontoxic deodorant, here’s what you want to stay away from:

1) Fragrance. As with many other skin care products, “fragrance” or “parfum” is often the most concerning ingredient in deodorant, as it’s generally a clue to the presence of hormone-disrupting phthalates. Not all “natural” deodorants use natural fragrance, and even phthalate-free deodorants often contain synthetic fragrances, which have unknown phthalate replacements in them. Your best bet is to always opt for unscented deodorants or those that specify that they are scented only with 100 percent natural essential oils.

2) Propylene glycol. A softening agent linked to cancer and reproductive damage, propylene glycol is surprisingly found in many natural deodorants. The good news is that there are a growing number of brands that don’t contain propylene glycol, so this ingredient is easy enough to avoid. (more…)

Posted by on Jun 16, 2016 | 3 Comments

Be Well Team’s Favorite Supplements

Supplements enhance and support the benefits of a healthy diet. While we all have our go-to supplement regimens, we interviewed the Be Well Health Coaches to find out their favorite Be Well supplements.

Laura: Glutathione

Often called the master antioxidant, glutathione is an immune booster that supports healthy aging and detoxification. Given our exposure to environmental toxins and pollutants as well as stress, medications, and other toxins (alcohol, anyone?), our liver is under incredible pressure and needs all the help it can get. In addition to maintaining a clean diet and avoiding pesticides and other chemicals, supplementing with S-acetyl glutathione is one of the easiest ways to support our body’s overall detoxification, which is why I take my two capsules daily!

Amanda: Fish Oil

After learning about its many health benefits, I have been incorporating fish oil in my daily supplement regimen for years. The high dose of omega-3 fatty acids helps the body in many different ways, including strengthening the immune system, supporting a healthy brain, fighting inflammation and disease in the body, and nourishing the skin.

Alexandra: GI Herbal

GI Herbal is a natural antimicrobial that supports healthy gastrointestinal microbial balance. It kills off the bad bacteria in the gut to help restore balance. If I’m feeling bloated or my stomach is feeling “off,” this supplement provides a good reset. It’s also handy to take while traveling to ward off foreign bacteria. And it’s one of the key supplements of the Be Well Cleanse!

Jackie: Probiotic

A daily probiotic is a great way to support my digestion and gut health—a healthy gut is an essential foundation for overall vitality and wellness in the body. Probiotics are also great for immunity and the absorption of certain vitamins such as B and K.

Courtney: Magnesium

I’m very active and find magnesium helpful to relax aching, tense muscles. It’s an important mineral, responsible for over 300 different chemical reactions in the body including helping to regulate cortisol levels and sleep and sustaining the health of your heart.

Katrine: Vitamin D3

Allover immunity and well-being. It’s one of the most important supplements because so many people are low on it, and it’s so easy to test and monitor your levels.

Posted by on Jun 14, 2016 | 0 Comments

7 Tips for Healthy Eating at Summer Gatherings

Healthy Eating

Summertime and the living is easy—but for some, it’s the eating that can be hard. For those who are new to eating food with the goal of health and sustainable wellness, the summertime gathering season can feel like a minefield of food-related challenges and temptations. So, how to eat well and navigate party-time wisely when you have no control over the menu? Here are a few tips to make eating well this summer a veritable piece of cake:

1. Eat First, Party Later

Whether you’re watching your weight, are on an elimination diet, or are simply trying to eat as healthily as possible, get in the habit of eating first, before heading out to summer gatherings. Have a filling smoothie or light meal topped with a tablespoon of hunger-curbing chia seeds to help ensure you don’t arrive at the event ravenous and overdo it on not-so-healthy “party foods.”

2. Pass On The Passed Hors D’oeuvres

Mini-quiches. Pigs-in-blankets. Feta and spinach spanakopita. Mac ’n’ cheese balls. Bacon-wrapped anything. All are pretty typical cocktail-hour nibbles. A couple of these mindlessly nibbled before the main event are an easy way to derail a healthy diet—so keep your distance and resist the urge to graze your way through cocktail hour as you wait for the meal to be served. Can’t resist the premeal noshing? Then arrive late, when hors d’oeuvres service is tailing off (if not finished altogether).

3. Help Out With A Healthy Contribution

For more casual backyard affairs, offer to bring a tray of something delicious (and healthy). You’ll be helping out the host, you’ll boost your rep as a gracious guest—and best of all, you’ll be ensuring that there’ll be a nutritious alternative for you and like-minded eaters to enjoy, with no extra hassle for the host. Think nutrient-dense treats like marinated olives with feta cheese, tuna-stuffed cherry peppers, cut veggies, hummus, leafy greens or lettuce wraps, etc. (more…)

Posted by on Jun 13, 2016 | 0 Comments