Know What You’re Eating: The Dirty Dozen & The Clean Fifteen

Know What You’re Eating: The Dirty Dozen & The Clean Fifteen

Buying organic, is it really necessary? When it comes to produce, you will hear multiple opinions on how you should shop. Some say you should buy everything organic, and other’s say ‘organic’ is nothing more than a fad.

Neither are correct.

In 2013, The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) tested 3,015 samples of produce and it was found that close to 75% contained pesticide residues. The scary thing is that pesticides on the produce lasted even when the fruits and vegetables were washed.

Key Findings from the Environmental Working Group: 

  • 97-99% of apples, peaches and nectarines tested positive for one or more pesticide residues.
  • 1 grape sample and 1 bell pepper sample contained 15 or more pesticides.
  • Samples of peaches, nectarines, imported snap peas, and strawberries showed close to 13 different pesticides 
  • Avocado’s are the cleanest fruit; only 1% of avocado samples had any detectable pesticides
  • 89% of pineapple samples had limited detectable residues

The organically produced food sector makes up only 4% of all U.S food sales, however it has shown a two-fold increase in recent years as evidence such as what I mentioned above has emerged. USDA economists reported that organic fruit and vegetable sales soared from $5.4 billion to $15 billion in the past 9 years.


Based on the findings from The Environmental Working Group, they have created two lists to help consumers pick which foods they should buy organic, and which foods are safe to buy in the non-organic form. The Dirty Dozen, is a list of foods that have been found to contain the highest residues of pesticides and should be purchased organic as much as possible. The Clean Fifteen, is a list of foods that were found to have the lowest amounts of residues and it is suggested there is no need to buy these produce items organic.

clean 15 dirty dozen

Evidence is mixed on whether consuming pesticides is dangerous for our long-term health. Animal studies have shown that consuming certain pesticides can disrupt the endocrine and nervous systems. I know many people who have consumed non-organic foods their entire life and turned out fine, but foods were also raised and harvested much differently decades ago. If you can buy some foods organic, why take the risk?

You can find organic produce at almost any grocery store, and often times they have organic produce on sale for the same, if not lower prices than non-organic items. Another great source is at your local farmers market. I recommend scanning the sunday paper for coupons and deals at your local grocery store for organic produce on sale.

What do you think about organic vs. non-organic foods?

Share your thoughts below.

Live Well,





Emotional Eating 101

Emotional Eating 101

If there is one truth about humans, it is that we all experience emotions and we always will. They are a large part of who we are and how our lives are shaped. Sometimes emotions are positive, and other times they are negative, but both are essential to human survival and growth. Stress, fear, sadness, boredom, anger and loneliness are some examples of common negative emotions. Negative emotions aren’t always easy to process, and sometimes we turn to eating to suppress, or soothe these negative emotions rather than working through them.

Sound familiar? I know I have been there, and it is a very unpleasant experience which can greatly affect our health.

So why is emotional eating something people often due to soothe their stress?

Temporary boost in mood:

When you are stressed, your body is inundated with the stress hormone cortisol. Cortisol is often responsible for those intense cravings you have for fatty foods, sweet foods and simple carbohydrates when you are feeling overwhelmed. Our bodies begin craving these foods because they give us a temporary sense of comfort; you experience a short term boost in neurotransmitters and chemicals in your brain that lift your mood and soothe your nerves. The problem is, this isn’t actually solving or resolving any of your current stressors- it is a complete facade.

Emotional eating leads to a very unhealthy cycle. Whatever stress you are dealing with leads you to overeat, which then leads to feelings of guilt for overeating, which then leads you right back to more negative emotions-right where you started- and sometimes a few pounds heavier.


Eating can be a good way of “tuning-out”. We often deal with negative emotions by trying to ignore them or push them away by focusing our attention on something else. That something else is often food, because it is convenient, it tastes good, and many times we are taught food eases pain. Foods can even bring up happy memories we have from the past, such as eating chocolate chip cookies with your favorite grandparent growing up.

Now that we know a few reasons why we overeat when we’re feeling overly emotional, what can we do to get control of it?

Many times, emotional eating is actually a subconscious desire that can often become automatic in times of stress. Luckily, it is possible to break this habit! The key is to find healthier and more productive ways to calm our stress and soothe our pain. We must re-wire the brain to choose non-eating related behaviors to cope with stress.

 Step 1: Awareness

Since emotional eating can be something that occurs below our level of awareness, it can be extremely beneficial to begin keeping a journal such as the stress awareness journal. When you are feeling stressed or burdened by negative emotions, write it down on paper along with what you are inclined to do to ease that stress. Do you tend to stress eat when you are lonely? Is it maybe at the office when you are stressed working on a paper? Read over your journal entries and see if there are any patterns, or triggers you can identify.

Another tool that will help you become aware is using the hunger scale. If you are rating your hunger at a level of 1-3, you might be emotional eating rather than eating for fuel.

Step 2: Healthier ways to cope

Once you have become aware of the triggers and situations that are likely to cause you to emotional eat, it is important to replace the eating with a healthier behavior or practice. Below are some examples:

  • Take a walk. Get some fresh air and clear your mind everytime you get the urge to eat when you are not hungry
  • Journal. Keeping a journal can be a tremendous way to express your emotions so they don’t stay locked inside and then later surface as anger, sadness or anxiety
  • Drink black tea. Studies have shown drinking black tea can drop your cortisol levels by almost half!
  • Do a quick breathing exercise. Slowing down your breath is a proven way to reduce anxiety and calm your body. Close your eyes and just look at the darkness of your eyelids. Take a deep breath in and out. Count your inhales and exhales. Continue until you get to 10 breaths.
  • Give yourself a massage. Take your thumbs and place them at the base of your skull at the back of your neck. Gently rub this area to relieve tension.
  • Treat yourself! Schedule a time for you to get a professional massage, or do an activity that will help you to relax such as taking a bath, getting a pedicure or even taking a nap by the pool.
  • Turn on a funny movie. Nothing can ease stress like a good laugh- make it a point to go the movies (even if it is alone) or find one on TV.

Step 3: Practice makes perfect!

The next time you are craving food, test out one of the above techniques. I know it may not be what you are used to and may be extremely hard to not grab for the usual treat you navigate towards when you’re stressed, but like we mentioned before, it is all about breaking the cycle and re-wiring the brain to choose a healthier way to cope with stress. It will get easier!

Always here to help,


Unscrambaling the Myth: Eggs and heart health

Unscrambaling the Myth: Eggs and heart health

Eggs have taken a backseat in many people’s homes due to the high levels of dietary cholesterol they contain. Many of my patients tell me that they completely avoid egg yolks and only choose egg whites because of the cholesterol levels.

Well, I have great news for you egg-yolk lovers.

While it is true that eggs are high in dietary cholesterol (about 185 mg/egg), dietary cholesterol actually has much lower of an influence on your blood cholesterol levels than do trans fats, saturated fats, and even excessive sugar intake. Egg yolks can be a part of a healthy diet.

It is more likely the egg-accompanimants in the typical American breakfast-high sodium in the bacon, high saturated fat in the sausage and butter- are more closely tied to the elevated risk of heart disease.

For healthy people with normal cholesterol readings who are not diabetic:

Research published in the The Journal of the American Medical Association as well as Current Opinion in Clinical Nutrition and Metabolic Care found that moderate egg consumption of up to one egg each day (seven full eggs per weekdoes not increase the risk for heart disease in healthy individuals and may even decrease your risk of stroke.

Eggs contain nutrients such as vitamins B12, D, folate and riboflavin which can actually help lower the risk for heart disease.

This research however does not give the green light to consume four-egg omelets everyday; consuming more than one egg everyday, or seven yolks per week, may actually be harmful for your heart health later down the line. So stick to no more than 7 yolks per week.

For those with Diabetes, or people who have difficulty controlling their total and LDL cholesterol:

You may want to be cautious about egg yolks and limit consumption to no more than three yolks per week and stick to egg whites for the rest of your servings. Research found that for individuals with Diabetes, eating seven eggs per week increased risk for heart disease.

If you have Diabetes, high cholesterol or heart disease, it is best to limit your daily dietary cholesterol intake to no more than 200mg/day.

5 Unexpected Reasons You’re Not Losing Weight

5 Unexpected Reasons You’re Not Losing Weight

1. You’re not listening to your body

We have become over-reliant on the media and tools like food trackers, apps, diet plans and overly pushy trainers who tell us when to eat and exactly how much. We eat what we’re told to eat, even if we’re not hungry. Or, we just completely ignore what our body is telling us. Who has ever reached in for 5 whole wheat crackers and ate the whole box even though you weren’t even hungry?

 We completely lose touch with our bodies’ natural ability to tell us what it needs when we become over-reliant on technology and others to control our eating- which is one of the most basic and ingrained human functions for survival. It has taught us to distrust ourselves and our decisions.

 Here’s how your body works to control your appetite: Ghrelin, Leptin, Neuropeptide Y, Adiponectin and Cholecystokinin. These hormones are responsible for signaling hunger when we need fuel and signaling satiety when we’ve had enough. You were born with a natural “alarm” system, so why not use it?

THE FIX: Eat when you are hungry, and stop when you are 70% full

It’s really that simple.

Our bodies are much smarter than we give them credit for. I don’t care if you’ve heard someone tell you “eat 5 small meals a day, every day no matter what!” 1,000 times. Every person on this planet is different. The important thing to focus on is the quality of your food choices and what your meals consist of.

If you work out regularly, your appetite and metabolism are more likely to be higher than someone who is sedentary. So it is true that the more you work out, the more food you will need to fuel your body. Your body will adjust naturally, and send hunger pangs more frequently to tell you it’s time to fuel up.

For anyone who struggles with listening to your body signals, I have two recommendations:

A) A book called Intuitive Eating, by Evelyn Tribole

B) Begin using a hunger scale to track your appetite and satiety levels. As you do this, you will begin to learn how to recognize when your hunger levels tend to peak and how much food it takes for you to get full and fueled. To learn more about using a hunger scale, please click here

2. You’re overdoing it on “fat free” items

Fat free does not equal trouble free.

 Often when manufacturers take out fat from an item, the flavor goes with it. They will then restore the flavor by adding in sugar, salt, thickeners and flours which add empty calories.

 Fat is essential for health and weight loss.

 Certain fat’s such as linoleic acid (omega-6) and α-linolenic (omega-3) are essential nutrients that we must get from food. Without fat, we cannot digest, absorb or store Vitamins A, D, E and K.

 Healthy fats aid in weight loss by helping us stay full, longer. If we skimp on the fat, research shows we are more likely to consume excess sugar.

 THE FIX: Change your mindset to ‘good fats’ instead of ‘no fats’

The American Heart Association recommends consuming about 30% of your total calories from fat. For a typical 2,000 calorie/day diet, that comes out to about 67 grams.

Choose ‘good fats’:

  1. Monounsaturated Fats

Found in foods such as extra virgin olive oil, almonds, and avocado’s.

  1. Polyunsaturated Fats

Found in foods such as salmon, walnuts, tofu and soymilk.

 3. You’ve forgotten about water

You’ve had a crazy busy day, 5 o’clock has come around and you realize all you’ve had to drink today was your coffee this morning and a water bottle after lunch. It’s very easy to do, but such a weight loss no-no.

 According to a study by the CDC, only 22% of American’s get 8 cups or more of water per day.

Water doesn’t directly affect weight loss (as in it isn’t responsible for magically burning fat), but it does help with weight loss. Let me explain.

 Many people confuse thirst for hunger (which brings us back to point #1 above, getting to know our hunger signals). Often times we are really thirsty but we eat instead, thinking that it’s hunger knocking on our tummies.

 THE FIX: 8 cups per day, minimum 

Make it a point to drink 1 glass of water right when you wake up in the morning, and also drink 1 glass before every meal.

You should carry around a water bottle in your bag or purse that you can also refill throughout the day.

Another tip I have given people who use plastic throw-away water bottles is to use the same one all day and keep a tally mark on the bottle to track how much water you’ve had.

4. You pay with plastic

A study published in the Journal of Consumer Research found that when you buy your groceries with a credit card you are much more likely to purchase and consume unhealthy foods. This is not the first study that has shown credit cards influence a buyers behavior.

 Paying in cash is more “painful” and we experience the cost of our actions right then and there. You are more conscious with your money when you buy things with cash, and you are less likely to waste money by purchasing things you know aren’t good for you (unhealthy foods).

 THE FIX: Cash only for groceries 

Buy your groceries with cash and bring a shopping list .

Make your first grocery stop on the weekends your local farmers market. Often times they prefer cash, so it will be a good habit to start forming. You also can’t go too wrong at a farmers market where you are surrounded by fresh fruits, vegetables and organic dairy and eggs!

5. You sit still at work

You may workout 4 days a week for 60 minutes at the gym, but what are you doing the rest of the day?

Staying sedentary during the workday and drowning out in front of a computer does no good for our metabolism, our waist-line, our eyes OR our psychological well-being.

THE FIX: Get up every 60 minutes

It is important to keep ourselves active throughout the work day, even if its only a walk around the office 1 time per hour or switching between sitting and standing at our desks. Doing this will keep your metabolism running high and can burn anywhere from 75-250 extra calories during the day.


If you have any other weight loss barriers that you’ve encountered, let other readers know in the comments below!



The Fit Souls: Reborn

The Fit Souls: Reborn

Hello fellow fit souls!


I am very excited to announce that The Fit Souls is back in action and ready to continue sharing the love of health and wellness with all of our wonderful readers. 2015 has been a whirlwind of change, but without change, there can never be growth!

I am determined to help make our world a happier and healthier place, even if it’s one person at a time.

Thank you to our readers for being patient, and I promise that I will work harder than ever to provide you with the most up to date and helpful health and wellness information there is. Cheers to the rest of 2015- let’s do this!




Fall Time Produce Guide

Fall Time Produce Guide

It’s getting to be that time of the year when everything starts cooling down, (fall weather in the Bay Area where are you?) and you starts craving warm, tasty comfort food. As much as we would love a big bowl of pasta, we want to make sure we are putting healthy comfort foods in our bodies. The best way to do this is buying produce that are in season, aka all pumpkin everything!


Below is a list of our favorite produce that are the perfect pick at your grocery store right now. Thanks to Kate over at Cookie + Kate for an entire list of produce paired with yummy recipes!




1) Apples: Who doesn’t love apples and a little peanut butter or almond butter for a mid morning snack? Mhmmm! If  you’re wanting something on the sweeter side check out this recipe  for an Apple Tart for one!

2) Kale: If anyone knows me, they know my obsession with kale, Casey has jumped on the train with me but I can’t get enough of it. Especially home made kale chips with a little olive oil, and pepper for the winter time!



3)  Pumpkin: Who doesn’t love pumpkin?! Fall time and pumpkin go hand in hand, aka PSL in hand (but a healthy version of course!). Not only does pumpkin go great in these cookies, but it also is versatile and can be used in your morning oats or in a savory dish!

4) Peppers: I love raw bell peppers and hummus, I can eat it all day long. For those of you who would rather enjoy their bell peppers as a meal, a great option is stuffed bell peppers with quinoa and ground turkey!


5) Squash: Spaghetti squash is the way to go! Craving a bowl of pasta with turkey meatballs? Use spaghetti squash as an alternative to your favorite pasta dish for dinner!


Whats your favorite healthy fall time recipe? Let us know in the comments section! 

Forget the lies! Why low-carb diets will fail you.

Forget the lies! Why low-carb diets will fail you.

Many of you have probably talked to a friend who dropped a bunch of weight, and when asked how, they reply:

“Oh, I cut out carbs completely”.

Your first instinct is going to be to want to try that, right? Next question, how many of you have checked back with those friends months/years later to find they have gained back all the weight they lost, and possibly now weigh even more than what they started at?

If you want to lose weight rapidly to be “skinny for a week”, then yes a low-carb diet will work (with not so fun side effects). If you want to be FIT (build muscle and strength, maintain your weight loss, create a healthy lifestyle, build confidence-and feel GREAT while doing it..) then low carb is NOT for you.

a few weeks back we discussed why ALL diet’s fail but let’s look into the specifics of low-carb diets…


Why low-carb diets fail:

1) Most of the initial weight loss is water

-after 1 week on a low-carb diet the scale will definitely be lower. Unfortunately, it’s not pure fat loss you’re seeing yet. It’s mostly water weight you have lost. Glycogen (stored carbohydrates in the muscles and liver) bind to water molecules, so when the glycogen goes, the water goes too. 

P.S (when you do start to lose fat, there is a 90% chance your lean muscle mass is going to start to go with it too)


2) You will most likely gain all of the weight you lost back over time

-to maintain weight loss this “diet” won’t be temporary; experts agree that once you return to your normal eating habits and reintroduce carbohydrates into your life, the weight will come right back over time.

95 % of dieters will regain their lost weight within 1-5 years post-diet. 


2) low-carb diets impact cognitive (brain) function and ability

-20-25 % of your daily energy expenditure is from your brain, and it requires about 200-300 calories for fuel per day.

-your brain requires glucose (from carbohydrates) to run efficiently.

-depriving your brain of glucose as fuel will result in trouble concentrating, difficulty learning and foggy thinking (not to mention headaches, grogginess and irritability).


3) Your muscles require carbohydrates to strengthen and grow

-carbohydrates (in the form of stored glycogen) are your main source of fuel during a weight-training workout

-Once the workout is complete and you have depleted the musclular glycogen stores, it is crucial to recovery and muscle growth that you replace those stores with more glycogen (a.k.a consuming nutritious carbs!)


4) Low-carb diets are low in fiber and high in saturated fat and cholesterol

-this combination has been proven to significantly increase risk for intestinal problems, heart disease, and cancer.


5) Fruits are carbohydrates! You want to miss out vital nutrients?

-The USDA and other national/world health organizations recommend between 3-5 pieces of fruit a day to get your daily needs of vitamins and minerals.


Your body is an engine! Carbohydrates are the fuel that keep you happy, active and highly effective. If you want to lose weight succesfully, adapt a healthy lifestyle. Once again, and I will keep telling you, DIETS ARE NO GOOD!

….and YOU are beautiful, from the inside out. Don’t let anything compromise that! <3

XOXO, The Fit Souls


How to de-stress in 5 minutes or less

How to de-stress in 5 minutes or less

We’ve all experienced stress. The headaches, rapid heart rate, maybe a feeling of queasiness. Bottom line, it is no fun. 

So, what exactly is stress? And what’s happening in our bodies?

When we occur a stressful situation, our bodies react with a “flight or fight” response; during this response our bodies are flooded with stress hormones such as cortisol, which raises our heart rates, increases our breathing rates, and constrict our blood vessels. The end result is often anxiety, fatigue, headache and other unpleasant symptoms. Unfortunately, chronic stress can increase your risk for a heart attack and stroke. So let’s find out how we can kick stress in the BEEEEP!

So, how can we quickly combat stress when we’re starting to feel overwhelmed?

If you have 5 minutes, you have enough time to try one (or more) of these stress busting techniques.

1) Breathe

When we are stressed or anxious, the number one thing we can do is to slow down and calm our bodies through deep breathing . Close your eyes, inhale through your nose, and feel your belly fill with air. Slowly exhale the air through your mouth.  Focus your mind on the breath. Listening, feeling and understanding each breath as you inhale and exhale. Do this for 10 breaths.

Breathing exercises such as this one have been scientifically proven to to aid and heal some of our bodily systems that are harmed by stress.

2) Think Positive

When dealing with a mean person, a crazy deadline, or a screaming sleepless baby it might not be easy or seem natural to “think positive” in that moment. But that’s when it’s the most critical time. Turn whatever negative situation you are in that is negative into a positive one by focusing on how you may benefit from it in the long run from this, how you will get good karma, or that whatever doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger. What I like to do is verbally speak out loud to myself 10 things that I’m thankful for that many people don’t have, and often times, this puts the situation right back into perspective and I realize what I’m dealing with isn’t all that bad.

3) Walk away from the screen 

Scientific research has shown that staring at a computer screen for a long period of time s is associated with high stress, depression and even a hard time sleeping at night. Too often we sit in front of our computers for hours without taking a break. If that sounds like you, make sure to get up at least every 30 minutes and take a few minutes to focus your attention on something else.

Additionally, doctors recommend staying off the computer for at least 1 hour before you get to sleep.

4) Eat a banana (I’m serious!)

Bananas contain significant levels of potassium; which helps regulate blood pressure which rises during stressful situations. Research has shown that consuming potassium while stressed can not only help regulate blood pressure but also protect you from the negative side effects associated with stress.

5) Visualize

Close your eyes, continue breathing normally, and visualize a peaceful location. Maybe it’s a beach you’ve been to, maybe it’s the Eiffel Tower. Spend a few minutes visualizing the sensations you would feel while you were there. Can you feel the sand between your toes? Try it out and I promise by the time you open your eyes your mind will be more at ease.

What are your most effective ways of combating stress? Let us know in the comment section.

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Friday Faves: Healthy Snack Swaps

Friday Faves: Healthy Snack Swaps

Hey everyone!

If you’re like myself and 99% of the nation, I know how hectic the week can get……your boss is calling, the baby’s crying, or maybe you’re stuck in bumper to bumper traffic. It’s tempting to reach for a bag of chips or unhealthy snacks (p.s. let’s not forget the dangers of these & french fries), but why do that when you can have the same satisfaction and convenience with healthy choices! That’s where I come in….

For today’s #FridayFaves I’m going to share with you my FAVORITE mid-day snacks I can easily grab on the go!


1) Super 4 Snacks– by Lesser Evil Snacks


Gluten, yeast, wheat & corn free

no refined sugar, maltodextrin, GMO’s, or yeast extract

 3 delicious flavors! ( roasted red pepper, cheesy nacho,  kale & roasted garlic)

46 pieces are 110 calories, 3g fiber, 3g protein, – I KNOW amazing right?!

crunchy and satisfying! Great potato chip swap!

Sold at: Whole Foods & various stores. see website for details.

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2) Krave Jerky – by Krave

all-natural, gluten free & NO nitrites or preservatives! (rare for jerky)

8 signature flavors from spicy to sweet (they’re AMAZING!)

8-12 grams of protein per serving

50-70% lower in sodium than other jerky brands

sold at: Target, Safeway, Luckys, Whole Foods, Sprouts (pretty much everywhere)

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3) Rise Protein Bar –by rise


5 or less ingredients in every bar!

15-20g of protein in every bar!

Flavors: Crunchy Carob Chip, Sunflower Cinnamon, Almond Honey & Lemon Cashew

sold at: Whole Foods, Sprouts or online


Whats your favorite healthy on the go snack? Let us know in the comment section below!

Hump Day Motivation: words of wisdom that will get you through the week!

Hump Day Motivation: words of wisdom that will get you through the week!

Happy Hump Day! 5 motivational quotes to keep you going strong this week!

“The ones who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones that do.”


“Your time is limited, so do n’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of other’s opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition.”   

~Steve Jobs

“Go as far as you can see; when you get there, you’ll be able to see farther.”  

~ J.P. Morgan

 “The difference between a successful person and others is not a lack of strength, not a lack of knowledge, but rather a lack in will.”

 ~Vince Lombardi

” Things work out best for those who make the best of how things work out.”

 ~John Wooden

What’s your favorite quote? Let us know in the comment box below!