Migraine Relief Diet

If you have struggled with headache or migraine, you might want to learn more about the Migraine Relief Diet. Using an approach that limits dependence on pain medication (which makes headaches worse from rebound migraine), you also benefit your overall health from the advantages a whole foods, mostly plant based diet can provide.

Factors that Contribute to Migraine

Eating whole foods, mostly plants can help with headache relief!

Numerous factors can contribute to the onset of migraines and headaches. Fasting or dehydration as well as stress, hormonal changes, physical exertion, abrupt lifestyle changes, medications, environmental factors, and dietary food habits may play a role. Participation in relaxation activities (stress management) and adequate rest can be helpful in reducing occurrence and/or severity of migraines and headaches. Keeping a food journal or a migraine diary will help to determine if certain food(s) are a trigger.

The “Dirty Dozen”

Foods that cause migraines or headaches are dairy, meat, eggs, chocolate, wheat, corn, citrus fruits, apples, onions, tomatoes, nuts, and bananas.

One great resource is from the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, who advocate a plant based approach to migraine relief.  Check it out here.

Would you like a FREE listing of the foods to avoid and embrace if you are eating for migraine/headache relief? Request it HERE.

Need some help with headache relief?  Contact Lisa Schmidt, THE Mindful Nutritionist, for a complimentary consultation.  Helping people with issues related to food, mood, and mindfulness, Lisa is a Scottsdale, Arizona based dietitian nutritionist and counselor specializing in lifestyle change.  She embraces whole foods plant based eating, yoga and meditation, and other stress management approaches to help with food and ease.  Lisa meets with clients in her Scottsdale office, and around the world through a telemedicine portal. Contact Lisa today for your free consultation.

Feeding the Holiday Blues

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The holiday blues are common.  Did you know you can actually change your mental state through the right combination of healthful foods? Follow these tips to feed the holiday blues.

Depression and anxiety are complex conditions that must be diagnosed by a qualified health care practitioner. Often, however, the dietary component of mental illness is overlooked. Food sensitivities, or vitamin and mineral deficiencies may worsen the symptoms of depression and anxiety. Following a few dietary guidelines, in combination with other prescribed treatments, may help to relieve symptoms.

Dietary guidelines that may help to relieve depression:

  • Follow a diet plan that prevents hypoglycemia (e.g. eliminate refined sugar, alcohol, caffeine and tobacco; eat 4 – 6 small meals throughout the day; eat plenty of dietary fiber.
  • An elimination or rotation diet will help to decide whether or not you have sensitivities to particular foods.

Helpful Foods:

  • Foods high in omega-3 fatty acids for growth and repair of nervous tissue: nut, seed, cold water fish (salmon, halibut, mackerel) and vegetable oils (safflower, walnut, sunflower, flax seed), evening primrose oil (500 mg/3 times per day).
  • Foods rich in vitamin B6 – needed for normal brain function: Brewer’s yeast, bok choy, spinach, banana, potato, whole grains.
  • Foods rich in tryptophan – precursor to neurotransmitter serotonin: white turkey meat, milk, nuts, eggs, fish.
  • Liver cleansing foods – proper liver function helps to regulate blood sugar: garlic, onions, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, brussell sprouts, beets, carrots, artichokes, lemons, parsnips, dandelion greens, watercress, burdock root.
  • Magnesium rich foods – important for nerve conduction: seeds, legumes, dark green leafy vegetables, soy products, almonds, pecans, cashews, wheat bran, meats.

Foods to Avoid:

  • Tobacco, alcohol, caffeine, artificial sweeteners
  • Refined sugar and processed foods
  • Be aware of your specific food sensitivities

Try a meal or snack with fiber-rich complex carbohydrates and low-fat protein!

Tofu Salad

with Cajun Spice Dressing

6 tablespoons Cajun Spice seasoning blend 1 pound firm- style tofu or Tempeh*
1/2 cup vinaigrette dressing
4 cups organic salad greens including:
dandelion greens, watercress, arugula, baby kale, romaine, spinach 1/2 cup organic shredded carrot
1/3 cup thinly sliced fennel
1/4 cup thinly sliced red onion
1-2 tablespoons canola oil

  1. Drain tofu, cut into 1/2-inch thick slices, press briefly with paper towel to absorb excess water. If using tempeh, simply slice tempeh into 1/2-inch strips.
  2. Measure 5 tablespoons of spice mixture into shallow bowl; dip tofu/tempeh in spice mixture to evenly coat; transfer to a dry plate. Cover and chill 30 minutes.
  3. Combine remaining spice mixture with vinaigrette dressing. Blend well; let stand 15 minutes.
  4. Preheat heavy skillet. Lightly coat with vegetable oil. Pan fry tofu/tempeh for 4 – 5 minutes on each side or until lightly browned.
  5. Arrange salad greens on serving plate. Arrange tofu/tempeh evenly over greens. Garnish each salad with carrot, fennel, and red onion. Top each with two tablespoons dressing.

*Tofu and tempeh are good sources of magnesium. Deficiencies in magnesium have been linked to depression, irritability and confusion.

For Assistance with your own personalized nutrition program, contact THE Mindful Nutritionist, Lisa Schmidt, MS, CN. Scottsdale, Phoenix, and Virtual appointments available. (P) 480.675.4568  (email) lisa@lisaschmidtcounseling.com.

Should We Put Obese Kids On A Diet?

Help your kids feel great in their bodies by encouraging healthful exercise!

Help your kids feel great in their bodies by encouraging healthful exercise!  (Source: UConn Rudd Center for Food Policy & Obesity.)

I get calls from parents all the time interested in hiring me to help put their obese kids on a diet.  My approach has always been and continues to be encouraging family education and health changes.  Overweight and obese kids raise alarm bells.  It is as if we cannot notice our own problems so we over focus on our kids. Some parents are not interested in this “family first” approach even when they are overweight.  Rather, the child becomes the “identified patient” in the family where parental issues with food, eating and body weight roll onto the child.  What do other experts in the field recommend?

Dr. Yoni Freedhoff, a Canadian obesity researcher and physician writes the amazing Weighty Matters blog.  He wrote in 2010 about treating children for obesity and his concerns include damaging the child’s self-esteem and body image.  Imagine what it feels like for a child who needs an entire team of adult experts. Doctors and dietitians who are by their actions sending this message: “kid, you’re so fat you need a village to help you.”

My own observation working with kids under age 10 and shared by Dr. Freedhoff is they lack the sufficient emotional and cognitive developmental tool set to understand treatment and make independent changes.  Writes Dr. Freedhoff: “the cause of obese kids are parents who have enabled the behaviors that led their kids to need help in the first place.  The second big issue is the all-encompassing food environment in which we all live.”

Case in point:  ME.

As a young single mother of an overweight child, I had my own issues with food, eating and nourishment.  In particular, I loved to eat sweets, cool and creamy foods when under stress.  Oh, and I was under stress all the time! It was the 90’s and we were all obsessed with fat.  So, thinking I was a good mom worried about my kid’s weight, I overfed my son highly processed “fat free” foods that were loaded with sugar, artificial ingredients like dyes and “natural” flavors.  Things like Fruit Rollups, Juice Boxes, Snackwell’s Cookies.  From birth, my son was 99th percentile for weight and 25th percentile for height, which I now know might be due to my own poor eating habits while pregnant.  When my son was 5, I remarried an amazing man who had a history of healthy eating. Living in the San Francisco Bay area, we chose an alternative practitioner to help us (and my son) with his severe behavioral issues diagnosed as ADHD.  Her cornerstone of treatment were dietary changes:  more protein in the morning for breakfast versus a bowl of cereal and fat-free milk and juice, the elimination of all cow’s milk dairy products, artificial ingredients and dyes, and the wider reliance on whole, fresh foods.  Lots of plants.  Lots of real food. No cake or candy at school, no soda, no juice boxes.  And guess what?  I had to change too.  The family got on the plan together, we began building healthy breakfast, lunches and dinners and learning more about food and nourishment.  The interdisciplinary approach became a family team approach, and we worked on environmental issues (school birthday parties, time with friends) together.  While other little boys were going on Ritalin, our son was drinking homemade dairy free vegetarian protein smoothies.  His behavior transformed in front of our eyes and his excess weight melted away.  Here is what he is up to today.

Let’s face it – our experience is not usual.  Most adults have trouble with nutritional compliance and struggle with the change process required to lose weight.  It is hard work!

If you are worried about your kid’s weight, address your own weight first – or as a family together.  Here are some ideas for how to celebrate Childhood Obesity Awareness Month:

  • Talk with your child’s school about introducing or enhancing nutritional education. Focus on “energy balance” (calories in) and encourage them to spread this approach throughout the curriculum.
  • Demand that your schools post calories on menus.
  • Get rid of the highly processed garbage that schools make available, or worse yet, sell to raise money inside your child’s school.
  • Encourage mandatory cooking courses for kids which parents can attend.
  • Advocate for your children’s health by encouraging elected officials to ban all advertising targeting children.
  • Require and insist that restaurants post calories for all menu items, especially restaurants that claim to be healthy (are you listening, Flower Child??).
  • Encourage healthy activity, focusing on joy, not competition.
  • If your young adult child is in college, have them take my course, Sustainable Living and Mindful Eating (SWU 351).  Offered on the ground and online through Arizona State University, students are experiencing transformational growth in their relationship with food, eating, stress management and sustainability.  Or, buy the book and read it together as a family!

Let me know if I can help.  Your health, and your children’s future depend upon this investment of time.  Aren’t they worth it?  Aren’t you?

Your Diet and Breast Cancer – What’s your risk??

Sesame Kale

Your Diet and Breast Cancer – eat to improve your recovery, prevent a relapse, protect from illness

In recognition of National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, we focus in October on the second-most common cancer among women in the United States. In 2015 alone, an estimated 200,000 new cases of breast cancer will be diagnosed, and 50,000 U.S. women are expected to die from the disease. However, in the same year more than 2.5 million will survive due to improved treatment outcomes.

Factors that affect cancer risk

While there are many factors that influence your chance of getting cancer, scientists believe nutrition has a major impact. Over 30 years ago, the National Research Council published a report called Diet, Nutrition, and Cancer, showing the evidence then available linking specific dietary factors to cancer of the breast and other organs. Research since then has only confirmed the strong connection between diet, cancer and survival outcomes.

Breast Cancer by Geography

For instance, in Asian countries such as Japan, we see low rates of breast cancer, while Western countries have cancer rates that are many times higher. The protective difference is thought to be the traditional Japanese diet, which is low in fat and primarily plant-based. By comparison, the standard American diet is centered on animal products, leading Americans to overeat fat and under consume other important nutrients. Diets that are low in animal fat but high in fiber, carbohydrates and vitamin A seem to help cancer prognosis. For reasons that are not entirely clear, vegetables and fruits, and the vitamins they contain, help keep the cells of the body in better working order. Vegetables and fruits are not only important to help to prevent cancer, but also to improve outcomes following treatment.

Foods that Prevent Cancer

While no one food can prevent or cure cancer, the combination of foods you choose to eat seems to make a difference. Experts recommend a predominantly plant-based diet including a variety of vegetables, fruits and whole grains. A plant-based diet means eating mostly foods that come from plants: vegetables, fruits, nuts, grains and beans. Plant-based foods are cancer-fighting powerhouses because they have less fat, more fiber and more cancer-fighting nutrients. These three elements work together in a synergistic way, supporting your immune system and helping your body fight off and recover from cancer.

Shifting to a more plant-based diet is simple!

Choose unprocessed foods, close to their original form. For a visual reminder, think of filling a plate at least two-thirds full of whole grains, beans, vegetables and fruit.

Use these tips to enjoy more plant-based foods:

  • Breakfast: Add fruit and a few seeds or nuts to whole grain breakfast cereal  such as oatmeal.
  • Lunch: Eat a big salad filled with beans, peas and combinations of veggies. Pile extra lettuce and tomato (plus any other veggies you can!) on sandwiches. Choose whole grain bread. Enjoy a side of veggies: Suggestions include carrots, sauerkraut and cherry tomatoes.
  • Snacks: Choose fresh fruit and vegetables. Grab an apple or banana for snacking. Raw veggies such as carrots, celery, cucumbers, jicama and peppers are excellent with a dip such as hummus. Make trail mix with nuts, seeds and a little dried fruit, and eat in modest amounts (suggested serving ¼ cup).
  • Dinner: Add fresh or frozen veggies to pasta sauce or rice dishes.  Or top a baked potato with broccoli and low-fat yogurt, sautéed veggies or salsa. Replace creamy pasta sauces with sautéed vegetables or tomato sauce made with healthy olive oil.
  • Dessert: Choose fresh fruit topped with Greek yogurt drizzled with maple syrup. A single square of dark chocolate is a healthy indulgence!

Enjoy this easy recipe featuring cancer-fighting dark green leafy kale, which is loaded with vitamins, minerals and fiber. Plus, you’ll get added flavor from garlic, sea vegetables and sesame oil, which also are powerful cancer preventers. Enjoy this recipe hot or chilled.

Sesame Kale

1 large bunch kale
2 cloves minced garlic
2 teaspoons sesame seed oil
2 tablespoons water
1 teaspoon reduced-sodium soy sauce
2 teaspoons toasted organic sesame seeds
1/8 cup dried sea vegetables (optional)

Prepare sea vegetables per package directions. Mince garlic. Wash kale, strip the leaves from the spines and tear into bite-size pieces. Heat sesame oil to medium; add garlic and sauté until lightly browned.  Add kale, sea vegetables, water and soy sauce and cook until kale is just wilted, approximately 2 minutes. Be sure not to overcook. Add sesame seeds and serve.

Nutrition information: Calories per serving (1 cup): 181; Total Fat 12.6g; Sodium 311 mg; Total Carbohydrates 14.8 g; Protein 5.0 g; Dietary Fiber 2.9 g; Sugars 2.2 g; provides 181% daily RDA for Vitamin A; 24% Calcium.

The healing power of plants

“Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food”–HippocratesThe Healing Power of Plants

The father of modern medicine scribed these words nearly 2,500 years ago. The words of Hippocrates have been used to communicate how a connection with nature through a relationship with food can provide health benefits far beyond any other type of “prescription”. Seen through this lens, eating is an intimate way to extract life-sustaining energy from Mother Nature. 

Sustainable Living & Mindful Eating

Cover photoHow do you want to spend the rest of your life?  Whether its traveling, spending time with your loved ones, living out your passions, or even climbing Mt. Everest, what you eat and how you eat can help you get there.  It also can help the planet, too!  

What is Mindfulness?

Mindfulness is paying attention to the present moment without judgment.  Here is a cool way to learn more about it and why it’s important:

Thank you Scottsdale!!

Welcome to Scottsdale!

Two years ago today, my husband Ed, my son Melvin, and Ed’s brother Bill Schmidt loaded up a U-Haul truck with all of our worldly possessions and we moved from Bellevue, Washington to Scottsdale, Arizona.

It’s been an eventful two years!  I’ve successfully launched my own Nutrition and Health Counseling private practice, Mindful Benefits.  Located at the 101 and Shea Boulevard in Scottsdale, I have helped people of all ages navigate challenges related to choosing food in the right amounts in order to support a healthy weight using mindful eating.  The secret to mindful eating couldn’t be easier….

Chew Your Food!

As a Certified Nutritionist, one of the things I remind my clients is to thoroughly chew their food. Chewing Improves Digestion Why is chewing so important?  One reason is because physically chewing food in your mouth begins the process of digestion by breaking down larger pieces of food into smaller particles.  Swallowing smaller pieces of food takes pressure off of the esophagus, making the act of swallowing more efficient.  Chewing also releases saliva, which has digestive enzymes.  The release of enzymes into the throat and stomach begins the process of digestion. Chewing helps with IBS, and other digestive problems.

What purpose does your disordered eating serve?

Have you ever considered what purpose your eating pattern serves?  Any type of disordered eating pattern, whether it is restricting food intake (a “diet”),

meditation calms the mind

Sit ten minutes a day and find some headspace

counting calories obsessively, counting fat grams, avoiding entire categories of food (dreaded “gluten”,  “carbs”, or “sugar” are three examples), overeating past the point of satisfaction, throwing up, compensatory behaviors like laxatives or exercising to extreme – all of these patterns are your relationship to food.  And your relationship, like any other relationship, serves a purpose in your life.

What would you be doing with your life if you weren’t spending all of your time counting calories?  Hating yourself?  Wishing you were something – anything other than you think you are?  How much time are you spending each day with thoughts about food, feeding, body size & weight?  Most importantly, what would you be thinking and feeling if your mind wasn’t occupied with thoughts about food and your body?