Foods That Are Giving You A Headache


Stress and tension can be a serious trigger for all headache sufferers. An easy solution for headaches is addressing the muscles that get tight in the neck and jaw. My treatments of choice always include Active Release Technique, chiropractic, and acupuncture.

When those treatments help but just don’t do the trick, we must look at foods and the reactions to the food we put into our bodies. In my clinical practice, food can be a direct trigger causing headaches for many of my patients.

For those of you that are skeptical thinking “how can something I eat cause a headache?”, here’s some food for thought. The over-the-counter medications we take, without a second thought, goes through your stomach to help you feel better. Food behaves the same way.

Food is the fuel we need to survive. When we put the wrong fuel in the tank, things start to go wrong and break down. Here is a list of foods that can trigger headaches and some simple explanations of why.

Common Headache Triggers

  • Alcohol (most commonly wine, because of sulfites and preservatives). Alcohol causes the body to dehydrate, which is a known trigger for headaches.
  • Caffeinated drinks (coffees, tea, and sodas). Many people do not process caffeine well, which may trigger headaches. Plus, the artificial sweeteners used in these beverages may be the cause for some people.
  • Artificial sweeteners and “sugar-free” products. Organic stevia is an exception if it does not contain additives and comes from natural sources.
  • Chocolate
  • Beans, as most beans contain tannins.
  • Thyramine is a natural amino acid that aids in blood regulation. When consuming too much, or for more sensitive individuals, any thyramine can trigger headache.
  • Foods that contain Thyramine: Peanut butter, nuts, bananas, citrus fruit, dairy products (more potent in aged cheese), wine, figs, chicken liver, smoked fish, fermented products (olives, pickles, vinegar, soy sauce, etc), processed meats, pickled foods, onions.
  • MSG. We must be very careful with this one as “healthy” foods can contain MSG in them too. For example many veggie burgers use msg to enhance their flavor. When looking at ingredients, MSG is also known as hydrolyzed vegetable protein and maltodextrin. Many cold and rainy days we want to run to the corner and grab a soup – make sure they are freshly made without any “powders” as most soup powders do contain some form of MSG.
  • Nitrates. This is a tricky one, because it can disguise itself very well. They are freely added to packaged foods all over the country as they are not regulated by the FDA. Obvious nitrites to avoid:
  • Deli meat/cold cuts, ham, bacon, sausage, hot dogs, smoked fish. Yes even the expensive salami’s have nitrate so please be weary when you eat them.

We can be sensitive to one, some, all or none of these triggers. The best way to find out is to eliminate all these things for 2-3 weeks and slowly re-introduce them into your diet while monitoring symptoms. We want to keep in mind that these food sensitivities can trigger pain instantly or have a delayed onset by up to 48 hrs. Always speak to a healthcare provider to rule out any underlying issues.

Posted by on Mar 13, 2015| 1 Comments

Be Well Kitchen:
Vegan Spinach Almond Pesto Recipe

Spinach Pesto

Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free, Soy-Free & Vegan
Makes 1 cup

This Cleanse-friendly pesto is incredibly versatile and can be used as a sauce or a dip!  Serve this at your next dinner party to really wow your guests or use it to liven up almost any dish!

You Will Need

  • 4 cups organic baby spinach
  • ¼ cup slivered raw, organic almonds
  • 4 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 large organic garlic clove
  • Sea salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste


In a food processor, pulse ingredients until it forms a pesto consistency – smooth yet a little chunky if desired. Serve with gluten-free toast, flax cracker, or veggie sticks.

Posted by on Mar 12, 2015| 0 Comments

Fearless Health

Fearless Health

Reprinted with permission from Experience Life Magazine
Written by Jill Metzler Patton

Worrying excessively about our well-being can do us more harm than good. Here’s how to keep your health concerns in perspective.

Most nights of the week, my family and I sit down to colorful, plant-powered dinners. But every so often, I tuck into a grilled bratwurst and a tall beer instead. And I savor them.

Ironically, it was my breast-cancer diagnosis five years ago that inspired me to relish such occasional indulgences rather than wondering whether they would kill me.

Before I got cancer, my healthy choices were hardly motivated by a life-embracing perspective. I thought of kale and collard greens less as vegetables than as talismans to ward off evil. I rarely noticed the present moment because I was too busy fretting about the future.

My list of health worries was long and scary: cancer, the heart disease that runs in my family, high blood pressure, diabetes, dementia, and any number of other maladies that might befall me if I strayed even slightly from the path of diet-and-lifestyle perfection.

Ironically, coming face to face with a real health crisis — instead of just obsessing about the potential catastrophes in my head — actually helped me understand and release some of my fear.

Coming to terms with my diagnosis, I knew I wanted to be well, but I realized that I also wanted to live more boldly and joyfully than I had been.

My attitude of self-denial may have reduced certain risks, but it obviously hadn’t (and couldn’t have) eliminated them all. When I took a good look at what had been motivating my choices, I realized that if I wanted to more fully enjoy the life I was fighting so hard to protect, I’d need to adjust my mindset.

Falling into overly rigid thinking or fear-motivated priorities about health isn’t good for anyone. What’s worked better for me is redefining my notions of what it means to be well.

Here’s some of what that shift in perspective has taught me. If you’re inclined toward worry about your own health, perhaps these suggestions can help you find a saner headspace, too.

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Posted by on Mar 10, 2015| 3 Comments

Fragrance Stinks!
4 Reasons to Stop Using Scented Products

Perfume Stinks

I get it. We all like to smell nice. In fact there’s a multi-billion dollar industry dedicated to insuring that we do. We can smell like line-dried sheets, spring flowers, mountain streams if we so choose, but perhaps there’s a reason we don’t naturally smell like any of them. And perhaps we’re not meant to, at least not in the chemically-drenched way it’s being done today.

Seven days a week, most people douse their bodies in synthetic fragrances and perfumes. And we’re not just talking about an occasional spritz of perfume or cologne. We’re talking daily, multiple exposures to toxic chemical compounds that make up the synthetic fragrances found in just about every product imaginable, including cosmetics, personal care products, household cleaners, air-fresheners, deodorizers, laundry detergents, dryer sheets and so on. While they may smell nice, their effects are anything but. Here’s why I think everyone should step out from under the fragrance cloud:

1. Fragrances Don’t Stay on the Surface – They Go Deep

When you lather-up or spray down body and home with scented products, your body absorbs many of the chemicals through the skin, nose and mouth. Though it might not seem like a big deal, keep in mind, each chemical you inadvertently ingest has an effect on the body and it’s rarely good. Your body then has to work hard to filter out as many of the toxins as it can, but some are tough to eliminate, while others can hang around for the long-haul. Either way, all those toxins building up over time can trigger trouble.

2. A Rose by Any Other Name….

These days, the word “fragrance” is essentially a euphemism for the nearly 4,000 or so different chemical ingredients that can wind up in your scented products. Most “fragrances” are synthetic, petroleum-based and toxic to our bodies, capable of triggering skin problems, allergies, respiratory difficulties, hormonal, metabolic and thyroid problems, even certain cancers and neurological damage. Simply put, we know that exposure to the chemicals in fragrances and scented products undermine health. Furthermore, there are those who theorize that long-term exposure to some of these chemicals may also be connected to the development of brain disorders like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, though the link has not been pinned down just yet.  In the meantime though, my advice is, better safe than sorry, so quit spritzing and give scented products the boot.

3. Fragrances Are Mysterious Chemical Cocktails

Identifying individual chemicals that make up a particular fragrance is, unfortunately, virtually impossible for consumers. Why? Because manufacturers aren’t required to list every ingredient in their proprietary fragrance brews. Instead of being called out on the label, questionable ingredients get to hide behind the word “fragrance.” So as far as the maker is concerned, it’s all good. Like the catch-all phrase, “natural flavors” that often appears on processed food labels, “fragrance” is used to similar effect, keeping corporate secrets safe and consumers at risk. And that just stinks.

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Posted by on Mar 09, 2015| 1 Comments

5 Ways To Eat More Mindfully

Mindful Eating
By Be Well Health Coach Amanda Carney

When I first learned about mindful eating, I was a bit intimidated – being someone who loved to eat and typically ravaged my meals, I was a little scared of actually sitting down with my food and taking my time to eat it.  But as I began incorporating small steps like chewing and deep breathing, my relationship with food quickly began to change.  Not only was I choosing whole, healthy foods, but I was actually learning HOW I should be eating them, which helped me create an awareness that allowed me to tune into the needs of my body and listen to which foods and portion sizes made me feel best.

Whether you have just begun experimenting with mindful eating or have been at it for quite some time, here are 5 ways that you can deepen your relationship with the food you are eating and become more mindful as you sit down for every meal or snack.

1. Focus on Your Food

This might sound obvious, but I can’t tell you how many people, clients and friends struggle to actually focus on their food while they are eating (myself included!).  Often people pay attention to their phones, watch tv or even do work at their desk while they should be fully enjoying their meal.  When you are engaged in other activities while eating, you can miss out on feeling satisfied from your meal, which usually leaves you looking for something else to eat shortly after you’re done eating.

At your next meal, try eating without any distractions.  Put down your phone, turn off the tv and/or enjoy your lunch somewhere other than at your desk.  Look at the food you are about to eat.  Where did it come from?  How many beings were involved in getting it to your plate?  What flavors do you notice?  How does it smell? Keeping the focus on your food will help you notice how much you are eating and will also allow you to feel more satisfied.

2. Sit Down

Living in a culture that is constantly on the run, we often need a reminder to sit down and relax while we eat, which is how our bodies were built to digest.  When we are eating on the run, our bodies are in “fight or flight” mode, which slows down our digestive process because energy is needed elsewhere.  Constantly being in this state while we are eating is when we can see things like indigestion, heartburn and constipation begin to arise.

Sit down.  Relax.  Focus on the food in front of you.  Smell it.  Taste it.  Enjoy it!  You will be more in tune with how much food you actually need while supporting your body in efficient digestion.

3. Breathe

Tuning into our breath can be a quick and effective way to come back into the present moment and tune into our body, making deep breathing is a wonderful tool to utilize throughout your day, especially while you are eating.  I like to try and take 3 deep breaths before enjoying a meal.  This allows me to take a pause, check out how my body is feeling and really pay attention to the food I am about to eat.

Taking a few deep breaths also calms the body and the mind, which reduces stress and strengthens the digestive process.

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Posted by on Mar 06, 2015| 0 Comments

Be Well Kitchen: Shredded Chicken and Napa Cabbage Salad Recipe

Shredded Chicken Salad
By Be Well Health Coach Katrine van Wyk From Her Book “Best Green Eats Ever”

Photo by Patryce Bak

This salad is inspired by my favorite Vietnamese salad. It is simple, without too many crazy ingredients, yet it tastes so exotic and delicious. The secret is in the dressing…

Ingredients (Serves 4 – Paleo, Gluten-Free)

  • 1-1/2  cup chicken – use leftovers from a rotisserie or roast chicken, or some sliced, grilled chicken breast
  • 1 head Napa cabbage, washed well and sliced into strips
  • ½ red or orange pepper
  • 1 carrot
  • 1/3 cup cilantro leaves
  • 3 spring onions
  • 1/3 cup cashews, roughly chopped
  • 1 tbsp chia seeds


  • ¼ cup fish sauce
  • 1 tbsp grated ginger
  • 1 chili, seeds removed, thinly sliced (optional – add just to your own spice preference)
  • 1 clove garlic, grated
  • 2 tbsp lime juice
  • ¼ cup water
  • 2 tsp coconut sugar or syrup


  1. Mix all the dressing ingredients together in a bowl or jar and set aside.
  2. With your fingers, shred the chicken into bite sized pieces or, if you’re using grilled breasts, slice the breasts thin. Drizzle the chicken with ¼ cup of the dressing and set aside.
  3. Cut up your salad ingredients and add them to a large mixing bowl. Pour the remaining dressing over and toss everything together well.
  4. Add in the chicken and chia seeds. Give it another toss and serve.
Posted by on Mar 05, 2015| 1 Comments

A Pediatrician Shares Some Invaluable Lessons For Parents


This article initially appeared on

After 25 years practicing pediatrics, and caring for thousands of children, I’ve noticed some patterns that offer me a deeper vision of health. I’d like to share some of those invaluable lessons with parents.

1. Growth and Development Are Not a Race

These days we’re in such a rush to grow up. In our mechanized, post-industrial world of speed and efficiency, we’ve forgotten that life is a process of ripening. To get good fruit, you need to nourish strong roots. Pay attention to the ground that supports your child’s life: Go for a walk with your child, eat with your child, play together, tell him a story about your experiences as a child.

2. Creating Family Traditions Encourages Strong Roots and a Healthy Life

This takes time and practice. Personal traditions are sacred because they promote exchanges that strengthen bonds of love and intimacy and build the kind of confidence that will carry your child through this world.

3. We Grow in Cycles

There is a rhythm and pulse to each child’s life— sometimes fast and intense, sometimes slow and quiet. Just as each spring brings a renewed sense of appreciation for life, each stage of a child’s life is a time of new discovery and wonder. After all, learning is not just a process of accruing information. It’s the process of transforming our ideas, and sometimes this requires forgetting in order to see with fresh eyes. Some children will take a step backward before making a giant leap forward.

Growing in cycles means that we don’t get just one chance to learn something. The same lesson will offer itself up to us again and again as we pass through the seasons of our lives. There is deep forgiveness in this way of understanding childhood, which I find takes the pressure off parents to “get it right” the first time.

4. Encouragement Is Not the Same as Indulgence

We are not in the business of raising little kings and queens. Kings don’t do well in our society. Recent studies have shown that indulgence actually weakens your child’s powers to survive, deflating motivation and diminishing feelings of success.

Encouragement means putting courage in your child, not doing things for him. Create a supportive context that will open up a path without pushing your child down it. Unconditional love is the scaffolding that encourages your child to take chances, to experiment, and to fail without judgment. Sometimes being an encouraging presence in your child’s life means standing a little off in the background, there to offer a compassionate hand when circumstances call for it, but trusting in his innate ingenuity.

There is spaciousness in encouragement. Indulgence, on the other hand, limits freedom by inflating a child’s sense of entitlement and reducing the patience needed to work through obstacles when he doesn’t instantly get his way. Indulgence leads to small-minded thinking.

5. Pushing Your Buttons is a Spiritual Practice & Children Are Our Spiritual Teachers

You don’t need an expensive spiritual retreat to become enlightened. Your little sage-teacher is right in front of you, offering you true wisdom free of charge!

Children watch our every move when they’re little, studying our inconsistencies as they try to figure out this crazy world. And they will call you on it. When a child pushes your buttons, remember: They are your buttons, not hers. Take the time to listen to what your child is trying to teach you. One of the secrets of parenthood is our willingness to transform ourselves out of love for our child. When you’re willing to look at your buttons, you open up a deeper self-awareness that is transformative for both you and your child.

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Posted by on Mar 03, 2015| 0 Comments

12 Tips for Your Next Digital Detox

Digital Addiction

Hunched over the laptop after work? Phone tucked under your pillow at night? Glued to the Ipad on the train in the morning? You might be a good candidate for a digital detox. Even if you don’t get twitchy when your gadgets start running out of juice, and aren’t troubled by eyestrain, headaches or neck problems, it still might be time for a digital diet. By periodically unplugging, you can start reclaiming the real life experiences that all those gadgets steal from us daily, albeit with our full permission. Sure, cutting digital consumption may sting a bit at first, but reconnecting with the people and things in life that really matter will allow your body, soul and mind to soar far higher than another peek at the long-range weather forecast ever will. Sound interesting? Willing to give it a whirl? Here’s where to start:

Cut the Cord and Reboot on National Unplugging Day, March 6, 2015!

Try this digital detox crash course: go cold turkey! Join like-minded folks everywhere who will be unplugging their digital devices for The National Day of Unplugging (NDU) – and hopefully not sharing the news digitally until after the fact. For the uninitiated, the NDU is a 24-hour power-down period that will last from sundown to sundown, starting the evening of Friday, March 6. Inspired by the traditional notion of the Sabbath, or day of rest, NDU participants will pledge to carve out at least this one day to unwind, unplug, relax, reflect, get outdoors, and connect with loved ones.

Bring in the Cavalry

If you, or perhaps those close to you, feel you may be on the verge of crossing into digital addiction, don’t get testy, get help. In the past year or two, an entire industry has emerged to help the over-connected dial-down their digital reliance. There are digital detox courses and camps, books and seminars, and even facilities with treatment programs akin to those originally designed for substance abuse. Yes, all that connectivity can come at a high price, but a least now there are help and treatment options, as well as apps (!) to help cut the digital cord – to a point we presume.

Send in the Clowns

As you start warming up to the idea of digital detoxing, you’ll need to re-learn how to entertain yourself without the glow of a screen. Or take a step the Zen direction and learn how to not entertain yourself at all. Instead, learn how to be still and quiet the mind. Meditation, without the help of an app, is a great way to clear your head, as is simply “spacing out.” Refresh your brain by giving it a few moments throughout the day to wander, to take in the surroundings and appreciate where you are in the moment in the real world, not the digital one.

Hello Darkness, My Old Friend

In the evenings, saying “lights out” – and actually meaning it – has never been more important. You simply must create a nightly digital sundown to support your physical and mental health. Think screens before bed aren’t really that big a deal? Harvard researchers would tell you otherwise: they recently found that those infernal machines we love so much can disrupt melatonin production, sleep quality and mood. Consequently, our constant connectivity can cause us to sleep less and poorly which over time can encourage the development of a host of life-altering health problems. To help your body achieve the rest it needs, embrace the darkness – as in detox nightly, simply by banishing all electronics from the bedroom.

Free Your Mind, the Rest Will Follow

How to give your brain, eyes, wrists and fingers a much-needed rest? Step away from the blue-light-beaming screen and go old school: pen and paper every now and then! It may seem strange at first, but doing so will give your exhausted faculties a workout different from what they’ve grown accustomed to – and may help develop a few new neural pathways to boot. Make notes, doodle during dull meetings, write a love song or start sketching – whatever moves you. Using pen and paper instead of feverishly typing and tapping can help liberate body and soul, giving you a sense of physical and mental freedom the digital world cannot.

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Posted by on Mar 02, 2015| 0 Comments

Our Favorite Natural Deodorants

Underarm Deodorant

By Be Well Health Coach Katrine van Wyk

The quest to find the best (or even just a good) natural deodorant is ongoing here at the Be Well offices. We all want to avoid the nasty chemicals found in most conventional deodorants, but we also want to smell fresh and feel clean and dry!

Before we get into our favorite options, let’s just review some of the ingredients to AVOID when you’re in the deodorant aisle.


This metal is used in deodorants to inhibit your pores from releasing perspiration – that’s why it’s called anti-perspirant! Aluminum will stay in the body, accumulates over time and has been linked to breast cancer in some studies.

Propylene Glycol

Did you know that this common ingredient in so many beauty products was developed as an anti-freeze? It is a common skin irritant and allergen and should be avoided.


This is a petrochemical, meaning it’s derived from petroleum, and found in pretty much all conventional cosmetics. It has many names including propyparaben, mineral oil, paraffin oil etc. Parabens are endocrine disruptors.


This anti-bacterial chemical often found in soaps and hand sanitizers is also an endocrine disruptor, even when only used in a low dose.

If you’re curious if the deodorant you’re using is safe, check it out in the Skin Deep Database by the Environmental Working Group (EWG).

Here are some of the Be Well Coaches favorite natural deodorants. Please let us know what yours is!


I use Crystal roll-on deodorant – the Lavender & White Tea scent. I love it! I’ve used it for years. I do carry it with me just in case, but I rarely have to re-apply unless it’s after a workout or something. I’ve tried a few other natural deodorants in the past, but none of them ever seemed to work well. Once I found this I’ve never had any reason to switch! I like the roll-on aspect of it too.

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Posted by on Feb 27, 2015| 10 Comments

Why You Should Put Olive Oil On Everything

Olive Oil

Reprinted with permission from Organic Authority.

There are plenty of olive oil benefits. But this latest one may surprise you.

Olive oil is prized for its good fats that support heart and brain health. A good grassy, fruity olive oil is also valued for its incredibly rich and robust flavor. But can it also offer protection against the damage caused by genetically modified foods? A new study says yes.

Research has found GMOs, along with the pesticides and herbicides used on genetically modified crops, can cause a number of health problems including developmental and reproductive issuesmetabolic disorders and DNA damage. They’ve even been linked to cancer.

But in the latest study, published in the journal Nutrients, rats fed a diet of GMO soybean oil and extra virgin olive oil showed less DNA damage to their spleens from the GMO soybean oil than those not given the olive oil.

“We can conclude that adding EV olive oil to the diet of rats appears effective in inhibiting oxidative damage and may act as a protective agent against chronic diseases such as liver fibrosis, hyperlipidemia and diabetes,” the researchers noted.

“In addition, EV olive oil may also have a protective function against carcinogenic processes. Further clinical studies are therefore required to determine whether the observations observed in our study translate to human conditions and illnesses,” they added.

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Posted by on Feb 26, 2015| 2 Comments