It is said that 80% of how your skin looks on the outside depends on your health inside. In other words, you can slather on the most expensive creams in the world and nothing will give you glowing skin without eating healthy foods and maintaining the good bacteria in your gut.

So what should you eat to enhance your summer glow? Let’s skip the obvious foods like dark leafy greens, salmon, walnuts, and blueberries, and focus on a few of our favorite foods that you may not have on your shopping list.

Raw Organic Unrefined Coconut Oil. There are so many benefits to coconut oil. We use it on our skin as lotion as well as in our coffee and cooking. Coconut oil is made up of predominately medium chain fatty acids or triglycerides. When used on the skin, these fats help keep the moisture in. The lauric acid in coconut oil has antimicrobial properties that protect you from infections inside and out. Our oldest sister, Kate, introduced us to the coconut oil coffee. (See recipe) Blending coconut oil with your coffee will boost your energy and has been shown to rev the metabolism. Plus it tastes great!

Kombucha and Fermented Foods. If you want clear skin, you need a healthy gut. A study out of the American Academy of Dermatology showed an improvement in skin prone to acne and rosacea with daily probiotic use. If you are not ready to take a probiotic, there are plenty of foods and drinks out there that are rich in beneficial bacteria, enzymes, and amino acids. We are lucky to have some delicious local organic kombuchas in Charlotte like Lenny Boy, which you can buy in many local stores. Also, naturally fermented foods like Bubbies sauerkraut and pickles are excellent to help improve the good bacteria in your gut.

Acai berries. You may often hear the words antioxidant rich when it comes to products that claim to keep your skin looking younger. We need antioxidants to neutralize the free radicals we breathe, which cause us to age. The good news is you can fight the free radicals at their source and eat your way to younger skin. Acai berries are found in the Amazon and are known to be a rich source of antioxdants (two times as much as blueberries), omegas and fiber. We love making Acai bowls (see recipe) for an antioxidant rich pick me up in the afternoon.

Goji berries. These tart little berries from the Himalayas pack more vitamin C than oranges and more beta-carotene than carrots. Our Trail Mix (see recipe) will pack a 1-2 glowing punch with goji berries and pumpkin seeds. Pumpkin seeds contain Zinc, which help maintain collagen.

Ultra Premium Olive Oil. We recently had a chance to meet with the owner of Pour Olive, Sophie Jones, and learn all about olive oils. We knew olive oil was good for you because of the monounsaturated fats, but we had no idea about the difference between all the olive oils on the market. In a nutshell, cold pressed ultra premium olive is what you are looking for when it comes to major health benefits. These olive oils will be 100% olive oil and not mixed with other unhealthy oils. Also, the fresher the olive oil, the higher the polyphenols (a.k.a. antioxidants) and the better to cook with and consume.


Coconut Oil Coffee

1 cup coffee
1 tablespoon organic unrefined coconut oil
1 teaspoon vanilla

Add all ingredients to a blender and blend until combined and frothy.

Acai Bowl
Makes 2 Bowls

1/2 cup frozen blueberries
1/2 banana
2 tablespoons acai powder
1/2 cup almond milk or coconut water
Handful of ice
Put all ingredients in a blender. You want to keep a thicker consistency so you can scoop it with a spoon so don't run your blender too long or you will have an acai smoothie (not a bad thing).

To make it creamier try adding one of the following:
1/2 avocado
2 tablespoons hemp seeds
1 tablespoon sunbutter

Optional Toppings:
Fresh berries
Sliced banana
Unsweetened coconut flakes
Dark chocolate chips
Pumpkin seeds

Superfood Trail Mix

1 cup pumpkin seeds
1 cup sunflower seeds
1/2 cup goji berries
1/2 cup unsweetened coconut flakes

Place all ingredients in a bowl and toss together. Place in an airtight container and store in the refrigerator for a longer shelf life. Great snack for on the go!

It’s an old cliché that women hate spiders. I mean, come on. We’re tougher than that. I don’t like spiders, per se, but I can think of much scarier things (like doing laundry after my husband’s boot camp workout, or running out of coffee, or realizing all three of my sons are unaccounted for in the house—and being way too quiet). But spider veins? The fear is real. I have a decent set of legs, and I’ve seen the spider veins spreading across my mother’s once-perfect stems. Tiny little bluish and reddish lines, splaying like tiny, jagged spider webs across her thighs and calves. She’s far from vain, but those spider veins bother her. Especially when shorts season (not to mention bathing suit season) rolls around. But fear not, ladies. Read on for the facts—AND the not-so-scary remedy.

1. Crossing your legs and wearing high heels does not cause vein issues. Fortunately, those are just old wives tales, and we don’t all have to subject ourselves to orthopedic shoes. But prolonged sitting or standing can cause worsening of spider or varicose veins, so keep it moving, sister.

2. …but genetics do. So this does not bode well for me. But spider veins can come from one or both sides of the proverbial family tree, and it’s not uncommon for them to skip a generation.

3. Exercise does help. The healthier and more active you are, the better. As if we needed another reason to hit the gym. Simply put, exercise keeps the blood moving. It’s good for leg strength and circulation, as well as vein strength.

4. Men get them too. It’s true that spider veins are more common in women, but men aren’t far behind. Our male counterparts, however, are less likely to seek treatment.

5. Spider veins and varicose veins are not the same thing. Spider veins are usually harmless. They appear as small, thin, red or blue lines beneath the skin’s surface and resemble spider webs or tree branches. Varicose veins, on the other hand, are the result of weak or damaged valves in the veins. They appear “ropey” and thick, twisting and turning beneath the skin. They can be quite painful, and they can indicate more serious health problems.

6. There are no DIY solutions to spider veins. No lotions or ointments or magic potions will help. After all, spider veins are not a skin problem. They are a vein problem.
Now prepare yourself for the kicker:

7. Even though spider veins are rarely a serious health problem, they can do a number on your self-image. Life is short, ladies. We shouldn’t let spider veins keep us from wearing the clothes we want or participating in the activities we enjoy. Especially when there is a non-invasive procedure that doesn’t involve scalpels or long recovery times or scary words like “vein stripping.”


Sclerotherapy is the most common treatment for spider veins and non-painful varicose veins. An interventional radiologist nurse simply injects a liquid solution into the spider vein, causing the vein walls to swell, stick together and seal shut. It cuts off the blood supply, and the vein fades within a few weeks’ time. The average patient requires three to six sessions, each lasting about 30 minutes. Quick and painless—no anesthesia needed. And most patients return to normal activity right after each treatment. It’s that simple. You can even drive yourself to and from the appointments.

So if you fear spider veins, don’t. But if you have spider veins and you’re tired of covering them up, make the call. Find out if you’re a candidate for sclerotherapy. All it takes is a simple ultrasound. If you find you’re not a candidate, it could be that underlying varicose veins are the root of your problem. In such cases, EVLT (Endovenous Laser Treatment) is the recommended course of treatment. EVLT is a quick, minimally invasive procedure that cuts off blood supply to the underlying varicose veins, rerouting blood to healthier veins. No anesthesia is required, and the procedure has a 95% success rate.

Whether sclerotherapy or EVLT is right for you, make sure you choose a group that specializes in vein treatments, like Charlotte Radiology. They’re one of the largest and most progressive radiology practices in the nation, and they employ ONLY board-certified, subspecialized radiologists. So give it a shot, and start planning your post-treatment shopping spree now.

For more information on sclerotherapy or to make an appointment, visit

I love a good adventure and studying the Raw Diet movement has been just that: a compelling journey where diet is truly 100 percent a way of life. It reminds me of summer days growing up on our farm where in-season, local produce was a way of life and very often my whole dinner plate. We always had a plate full of color and, as any good raw foodie would say, “A plate full of life.”

 I began my research taking notes from raw enthusiasts like Natalie Rose who explained her love for raw: “When we drink our green juices and eat our raw salad and leave out harmful stuff that blocks our life force, we can be kids of summer forever.”

Now don’t you want to try raw?

With claims like this and others ranging from improved skin/hair, new energy, improved digestion to curing cancer, one can’t help but notice and be tempted to take a big sip of the raw Kool-Aid and let the journey begin. I am clearly not alone in my desire to go more raw, with the Wall Street Journal recently reporting in 2012 alone a 71 percent increase in US sales of raw juice extractors. This reflects what is very often the first step in a more raw, vegan-based diet: juices and smoothies. In Charlotte, it is clear the appetite for raw cuisine is growing; restaurants, food trucks, juicers and now even grocery stores are gearing up to meet the rawist’s demand.

What is the Raw Diet and is it REALLY good for YOU?

The Raw Diet is simply a plant-based vegan diet where nothing is cooked over a temperature of 105°-115°. (Rawists have differing opinions on exact temp.)

Typically foods are non GMO, organic and preferably fresh. A strict raw diet is based on a foundation of vegetables, fruits, nuts, sea vegetables, sprouts, seeds, herbs and nutritional yeast. Food is not cooked, but often dehydrated, chopped, pureed and fblended with lots of spices and natural flavors. Recipes are often delicious and usually light.

It is described to me as a “way of life that incorporates vibrant organic foods prepared in their natural state.” The Raw Diet health claims include, but are not limited to, “prevention and reversal of signs of aging and chronic disease, boosts energy levels, improves skin and hair and eliminates inflammation, arthritis, allergies and chronic

pain.” Much of the healing and health is attributed to the more active raw enzymes that foods contain when not cooked above 105°-115°.

What are the risks?

The precautions of eating a raw food diet are based on an increased risk of bacterial contamination and some believe it is impossible to meet calorie and nutrient needs with only raw vegan foods. On any commercial raw juice bottle, you will find a warning label that states that because the juices are not pasteurized, they may contain harmful bacteria.

When discussing a raw food diet with Dr. Russ Greenfield, well-known and respected integrative health MD, he stated clearly via email that he was not in favor of a 100 percent Raw Food Diet though he supports eating lots of raw fruits and vegetables and encourages a more vegetarianbased diet. He believes lightly steaming vegetables can increase their percentage of certain nutrients and clinical studies support this statement. Greenfield also cautioned against using a raw diet as treatment for any “given malady.”

Dr. Jim Boyd, a trusted and experienced oncologist, agreed with Greenfield’s views and added that most of his cancer patients are encouraged to avoid any raw food during treatment due to their compromised immunity and increased risk of infection. Are you 100 percent raw?

That was my next question to one of my favorite cousins Sarah Mangold, now a Hawaiian Raw Foodie, wife and mother of three. Sarah encapsulates the youth, energy and conviction of the Raw Diet philosophy. After completing a degree with the Graff Academy of Raw Food Education, Sarah became a certified raw vegan chef who teaches classes, coaches healthy lifestyles and shares recipes/tips on her site,

Her story is one of healing and restored energy, which she credits to “simply reducing toxicity and adding powerful raw food nutrition that includes more active enzymes that are lost when we cook foods.”

Though Sarah confirms that she is NOT 100 percent raw, her belief is that more raw and less processed is the way of life for her and for many.

Similar to Sarah’s experience is that of Scott Harris, owner of Viva Raw, and a super nice guy who is also NOT 100 percent raw, but believes his body was able to “come alive again drinking raw juice presses” along with multifaceted lifestyle changes that included detox therapies, intensive exercise and starting a company that he is passionate about–Viva Raw. His mission is clearly stated on each Viva Raw juice label: “Embrace the Raw Revolution.”

My final stop on this raw journey was Luna’s Living Kitchen (LLK), which is best described as Charlotte’s Mecca for raw clean food. “An organic mostly raw restaurant,” LLK has been serving up vegan cuisine with Juliana Luna at the helm for three years. I geared up for our meeting, envisioning a militant rawist saying, “You must Eat RAW or Die!” This was not the case at all. I met with a very different kind of individual, petite and beautiful. Juli’s warm and gracious spirit left me just wanting to know more about the raw way of life. She models the diet by her walk and with few words.

South-American born, Juli moved to the US with a growing career in hospitality management. She was suffering from poor health, fatigue and unbalanced digestion.

With her new husband’s encouragement, she gradually left a meat-based processed food diet to become more vegetarian and then vegan and finally raw. Quick to avoid labels of any kind, Juli describes herself as self-educated and with one mission: to build a greater community of health, not to preach or prescribe any one diet.

She eats mostly raw, but admits to enjoying cooked grains with dinner and is even considering some wild seafood. She stresses the importance of fresh, organic produce from a diverse group of farmers and supplements her vegan diet with fresh raw vegetable/fruit juice presses throughout the day. She believes these juices are able to “uniquely retain the vitamins, nutrients and enzymes natural in whole fruits and vegetables.”

Does it have to be raw?

These days, everyone wants to tell you how to eat and usually the diets are strict, controlling and laced with guilt. But there can be a middle ground here. For my patients who want to begin a more raw lifestyle, I encourage the following five steps.*

1. Start simple. Add one raw fruit/vegetable medley per meal and snack. This can be done with a raw juice/smoothie in the morning, the addition of a fresh salad with lunch, and another juice/smoothie in the afternoon. Finish the day by adding a large chopped vegetable salad to a smaller main meal. The key here is fresh organic produce and a variety of fruits and vegetables.

2. Experiment with a more vegetarian diet. A new wonderful cookbook to help with this is Plenty. I am providing a delicious, almost raw Sea Kelp and Eggplant recipe that my kind new neighbors shared recently—see the bottom of this page.

If you don’t know where to begin, try eating out first; let the experts show you how good vegetarian can taste.

3. Build a community for support. When we have friends, family and coworkers coming beside us in new healthier ways to eat, it creates the wind behind our sail to keep it up and to make it more fun.

4. Dig into the many raw resources out there. My favorite raw websites with recipes include, but are hardly limited to, and Whole Foods and EarthFare have wonderful raw juice presses as well as Viva Raw. Eat lunch at Luna’s Living Kitchen.

5. Take a class. Whole Foods recently provided a class on raw foods with 40 in attendance. Learn the basics and try one new recipe a week.

Remember: True health is a balance for each individual to discover. All the best in your pursuit.

Barret C. Butler is a registered dietitian with her Masters in Public Health from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. She is a private nutrition practitioner specializing in the treatment of adult weight management, childhood obesity, abnormal eating dynamics and family wellness. Families Together For Wellness has been her private nutrition intervention and educational approach for the last six years. Butler is the dietitian at Signature HealthCare and Presbyterian Executive Health and provides nutrition seminars for the Cornwell Center and Reid’s Fine Foods.



Eggplant and Mango with Kelp Noodles.

From: Plenty by Yotam Ottolenghi


½ cup of rice vinegar

3 TB of turbinado sugar

½ teaspoon of sea salt

2 garlic cloves crushed

½ fresh red chili, finely chopped

1 teaspoon of toasted sesame oil

grated zest and juice of one lime

1 cup of sunflower oil (can use less)

2 eggplants, cut into ¾ inch dice

8 – 9 ounces of kelp noodles (Whole Foods refrigerator section)

1 large ripe mango, diced

1 2/3 cups of basil leaves

2 ½ cups of cilantro leaves, chopped

½ of a red onion


In a small saucepan gently warm the vinegar, sugar and salt for 1 minute, just until the sugar dissolves. Remove from the heat and add the garlic, chile, and sesame oil.

Allow to cool, then add the lime zest and juice.

Heat up the sunflower oil in a large pan, and sautee the eggplant in three to four batches. Once golden remove to a colander, sprinkle with salt and leave to drain.

Follow kelp noodles prep with water and draining. Can cut into smaller noodles.

In a mixing bowl, toss noodles with dressing, mango, eggplant, half the herbs and onion. Can leave for an hour or two before serving.


A working mom’s guide to good nutrition on a budget

My local, organic, expensive cheese stopped being a priority. “Budget” became the family mantra and a greater pressure to find nutrient-dense whole foods for less was hanging around. I was frustrated to realize that my family was not entitled to each new and healthy product that I discovered. My thought was: “It’s good for us and so we will have it.” Well, no, not always.

As many of you know, hard knocks create great adventures if you are willing to get moving, stop whining and, as a friend suggested, “put on your big-girl pants and do what you’ve got to do.” And so I tried. I understand we all have different budgets. Each of our shoes pinch us in a different place and so I hope in sharing guiding principles of good, basic nutrition, some favorite, well-priced grocery staples, and one of my favorite three-minute meals under $20, you will find helpful suggestions for your own situation.

To begin planning around a tighter budget, I defined “needs” versus “wants.” I outlined what nutritional principles would create the healthy foundation that my family needed and avoid the extra “wants” that would have me spending unnecessarily.

Nutritional “needs”

Whether you are single, newly married, have a large or small family, or work in or out of the house, these nutritional habits will keep you healthier for a lifetime. Make them key priorities when you consider your shopping needs.
1. Nutritional balance. Balance each meal with a complex carbohydrate (the majority being fruits and vegetables), a complete protein and little to no saturated and trans fats. A balance of these three nutrients regulates your blood sugars, lowers the rise of insulin and keeps concentration and energy levels at a high. From my husband’s and my work demands to the children’s school and sports activities, this is No. 1.

2. Unprocessed foods 80 percent of the time. No fake sugar, tub margarines, Cheez-Its, Fruit Roll-Ups, etc. The most nutrient-dense foods should be in the pantry or on the table. Along with a higher percentage of vitamins and minerals, clinical studies show that there is a more rapid release of the hormone Leptin when you eat whole, high-fiber foods. This means that you feel fuller faster.

3. A fruit or a vegetable at every meal. Fresh, frozen, often organic (use the Dirty Dozen Pesticide list to guide you here) and local when in season. If your budget is super tight, use a lot of frozen.

4. Good taste. Children (yours or mine) won’t eat what doesn’t taste good. So a priority is to find healthy, inexpensive and tasty foods. This is where you can spend a bit more on certain items. It doesn’t matter whether you buy Fage yogurt at Costco or Whole Foods; it tastes the same. But an egg is different. Eggs are so good for kids and adults, as they are filled with biotin, choline and a complete protein. And eggs are not expensive.

5. Quick and simple. This is a top priority. Figure out how much time you can devote to cooking and start planning. If you have time for gardening and canning, go for it. If you have limited time, shoot for easy, one-dish meals that allow you to use canned tomatoes, fresh salsas, beans, frozen vegetables and lean meats. Chop and prep ahead on the weekends and look online for dishes like chicken adobo, vegetarian Sloppy Joes, grilled wild seafood, quiche or anything in the crockpot.

Once you have defined your nutritional needs, it’s time to go shopping and compare. I’m not a coupon clipper or weekly special hunter, so my staples are the ones that are always low-priced. Of course, if I run into the Harris Teeter and they are having a two for one special of organic lettuces, well then I am happy to oblige.

Many items, hands-down, are the least expensive at Trader Joe’s. They are able to offer a volume discount that even Super Walmart and the local farmer’s market can rarely beat. However, keep in mind that not all of Trader Joe’s items are organic and, unfortunately, they’re not local. Let your principles come into play.

Where my “wants” fit my “needs”
1. Trader Joe’s:for organic frozen fruits and vegetables, plus organic milk, yogurts and cheeses. Here, I’ll toss some Hemp Protein, protein bars and almond milk blends into my cart too.
2. The farmer’s market: for local, in-season goods.

3. Whole Foods:for canned vegetables and legumes. The store’s prices are competitive in the market for legumes, rice, wheatberry, farro and my favorite Italian Pomi Tomatoes.

4. Harris Teeter:my favorite stop for teas, Turbinado sugar, spices and my Morning Glory smoothie with unsweetened Ghirardelli natural cocoa.

5. Reid’s Fine Foods:for eggs. The place carries three of the local, most exquisite eggs that I can find.
6. Super Walmart: great when I need to get Whole Wheat Lance Peanut Butter Crackers, steel-cut oats and some of the Morning Star frozen vegetarian products that I keep for backup in the freezer.

7. Costco: for wild seafood and organic, grass-fed beef and chicken breasts. They offer many wonderful, frozen, wild choices – the family regular being the Wild Salmon Burgers.

Your mission
The possibilities of healthy meal planning are endless and I give you this small sampling of products in hopes that you will begin your own search-and-rescue mission for good food and fair prices. They are out there. And remember: true health is a balance for each individual to discover. Establish your own nutritional “needs” versus “wants” list and let these guide your weekly shopping. All the best in your pursuit.

Barret C. Butler is a registered dietitian with her Masters in Public Health from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. She is a private nutrition practitioner specializing in the treatment of adult weight management, childhood obesity, abnormal eating dynamics and family wellness. Families Together For Wellness has been her private nutrition intervention and educational approach for the last six years. Butler is the dietitian at Signature HealthCare and Presbyterian Executive Health and provides nutrition seminars for the Cornwell Center and Reid’s Fine Foods.

We are hungry for a good fast. There is nothing new under the sun and fasting takes the cake. Denying yourself food is one of the oldest and most common rituals of self denial, protest, spiritual awakening and now to achieve the ultimate cleanse. It is so sexy too and provides the bragging rights of a true Spartan. What consumer in the United States could deny all of this?

To read about the virtues of fasting, you would have to be dull of soul not to be intrigued and downright smitten by some good old starvation.Kathie Swift, MS RD LDN, writes: “A short-term fast can increase your vitality, improve brain function, and even treat conditions like inflammatory bowel disease or rheumatoid arthritis. The National Institute of Aging interprets recent studies of the effects of intermittent fasting as being able to “protect the brain against some of the worst effects of Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and other ailments.”

Popular fasts to choose from

The selection of popular fasts to choose from are voluminous. The two that seem to be gathering the most attention and acclaim are raw juice fasts and 8-hour intermittent fasting. Both have their cheering section and both need more clinical research to stand on. The raw juice advocates state that these fasts are not for weight loss but to provide a “nutritional cleanse and to give your digestive tract a rest and to allow your body to eliminate toxins.” They believe that “freed of pulp and fiber, juiced vegetables deliver a fresh, super concentrated supply of nutrients to cells and tissues with minimum transit time compared with solids. Your bloodstream easily absorbs all of those minerals, vitamins and enzymes, giving your gastrointestinal tract a vacation.”

The Raw Juice Fast establishment began with companies such as the Pressed Juicery in California and the Blue Print Cleanse out of New York City. In Charlotte and the Triangle area it is taking flight with Viva Raw, Luna’s Living Kitchen and Triangle Raw, all of which offer raw pressed juices and some deliver.

The 8-Hour and Intermittent Fast experts claim that by eating in shorter bouts of the day, you are increasing your body’s ability to use fat as an energy source. A study published in Cell Metabolism showed obesity risk reduction in mice who ate food only in 8-hour increments.

American Journal of Clinical Nutrition has similar supporting evidence that suggests that concentrating any food intake into 8 hours of the day allows your metabolism to crank up and burn more calories throughout the whole day. It seems, “the longer you feed, the lazier your metabolism becomes.”
Even with these words of encouragement, starting in 2013 I still had my doubts about beginning any fast. Frederick Buechner puts it best to me: “If there is no room for doubt, there is no room for me.”

The fast adventure begins
So I created my own fast experiment and let my inner scientist rule. I began by picking a raw juice fast. I met with Scott Harris of Viva Raw and learned about his company, method, produce and the Viva Raw Three Day Raw Juice Cleanse. The cleanse begins before you start drinking his vegetable/fruit presses by stopping all caffeine and alcohol two days before the cleanse. Then you are to drink only the Viva Raw Juices (seven, 12-ounce servings of a variety of vegan specialties) for three days.

Next, my study population. I asked 10 adventurous friends to join me and promised that I would host a celebratory dinner when done if they would drink, participate and document their results.And so, 2013 began with a three-day raw juice cleanse. I instructed my study group that water, herbal teas and an avocado could be added to our low calorie stringent fast. I begged them to get a doctor’s approval and little to no exercise because I knew we were heading into low calorie territory.

Did we make it? Well, we all survived. Only half of the group was were successful, meaning they completed without eating off of the plan. The results were interesting. For those who completed it, all shared results of better sleep, bouts of incredible energy, clarity of mind, and all lost at least three pounds. Overall, I found it difficult because I love my coffee, warm and crunchy food, and I missed exercising every day.An unexpected challenge that I hadn’t prepared for was making dinner for my family. So if you want to try a fast and you are cooking for many, pick up some wholesome pre-cooked meals at Good Kitchen or one of your favorite local groceries such as Reids. Then hit the sack early while your family dines away. Overall, I did find it surprising how clear my thinking was on day two and three of the fast and liked the lightness and ease of not worrying about my meals.

Should we all do this? Maybe, maybe not. The juices are not pasteurized and I always support plans that the whole family can follow. The clinical studies are still lacking and I also believe in individualized nutrition, so it’s hard to recommend that these fasts will work for all.

So how do we proceed? I have created an outline of my favorite foundational types of fasts — taking the best of the best and not moving ahead of the science to support our best healthy efforts.

The best fasts of all
The Whole Foods Fast
Try eating only whole foods for three days and then keep going. Prepare foods as close to their natural state. Fill your days with vegetables, fruits, fiber rich whole grains, nuts, seeds, local eggs, steamed, grilled organic and wild fish, meat and poultry. If you want to enjoy fresh juice presses, try adding them to this diet in place of vitamin/mineral supplements.

The 8-10 Hour Fast
This means eat healthy whole food meals with balanced carbohydrate, proteins and fats all within an eight-to-10-hour period. It is that easy.

The No-Grains-at-Dinner Fast
I love this one too. Continue with a whole foods based meal plan, but enjoy your grains at breakfast, lunch and with an afternoon snack. At dinner, have two to three types of vegetables and organic meat and poultry, and wild fish. You will go to bed feeling lighter and I have gotten feedback that patients are sleeping better with this type of fast.

The Excuses Fast
Stop the excuses and start exercising every day. Reduced incidence of illness, better moods, improved metabolism, and reduced risk of every chronic disease out there. You know it, so do it. Start exercising.Remember the prize of healthy eating is not only normalized weight, blood sugar balance, reduced risk of chronic disease, and more energy; it is also the ability to focus on becoming the individual you are called to be. If your food begins to control you and obsession gets in the way, the joy of healthy eating is lost and disorder becomes the name of the game. True health is a balance for each individual to discover.
All the best in your pursuit.

Barret C. Butler is a registered dietitian with her Masters in Public Health from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. She is a private nutrition practitioner specializing in the treatment of adult weight management, childhood obesity, abnormal eating dynamics and family wellness. Families Together For Wellness has been her private nutrition intervention and educational approach for the last six years. Butler is the dietitian at Signature HealthCare and provides nutrition seminars for the Cornwell Center and Reid’s Fine Foods.

As you celebrate and maneuver through the next month of holidays, open the gift of exercise and all of its benefits early this year. The season where exercise is most often left off the list is actually the perfect time to change your workout perspective and regimen.

Recent clinical studies have added more credence to the fundamental benefits of exercise and to the idea that new regimens result in better physical outcomes. For example, an hour-long jog on the treadmill is being replaced with high-intensity training interspersed with intervals of training that are shorter and more mentally engaging.

Whether you swim laps at a more rigorous pace – with minute breaks in between – use heavier weights and new routines for strength training, or sprint or walk circuits, less time in more concentrated exercise is showing better results for fat loss, muscle gain and metabolism boosts.

The clinical research is showing, more definitively than ever, that making time for exercise is a key part of a healthy lifestyle. A recent study more strongly supported exercise’s ability to improve our stress response and decrease anxiety. Need I say more than “Happy holidays?” Yes, a little muscle burn and shazam – more “Happy” for every kind soul you meet.

Along with attaining a better mood, we all want to burn a few more calories to at least neutralize the gift basket that just might land at our door. According to a study out of the University of Colorado, participants were able to burn an extra 200 calories in as little time as 2.5-minute intervals when charging through intense circuits of high anaerobic training. Some exercise in a shorter amount of time means less guilt and, it seems, more calories burned; now we can all sample the homemade cheese straws without being kicked to the curb by the Carb Police.

Not only can prioritizing exercise allow you to enjoy the holidays more, but it can allow you to live to enjoy more holidays. Increased life expectancy and reduced cancer-related deaths were the outcomes of a Taiwanese clinical trial showing that 15 minutes of exercise a day is being linked to longer life and better health.

Taking all of this into account, we may be convinced that exercise is a must. But the question is how to incorporate it when you are stuck at Uncle Ed’s with family members and with no “Insanity” tape in the stocking. How about a game of “capture the flag” or flag football for all? Or soccer with Granny?

I tried “capture the flag” last Christmas Day and it served as my introduction to the interval workout. There I was with the group, looking for a way to gather with friends and shed some energy. We found a field and took off in over-zealous sprinting and strategizing with equal teams of adults and kids. Ten minutes into the competition, a few of the adults laughingly agreed that next year we needed to invite more families with slower kids!

I found myself using all of my sprinting and agility skills from when I played a season of basketball in the eighth grade as I chased down the 11-year-old lacrosse star who had just stolen our flag. It was exhilarating, exhausting and a lot of fun. I found myself tired, hungry and sore – what was going on here?

Now I see – our game was a type of interval workout incorporating muscle confusion, anaerobic bouts of sprinting and then rest, full-on intense intervals during which I had to concentrate and move. Exercise physiologists are defining this form of workout, whether on a track, in a gym or in the pool, as the key to significant “metabolic disturbances” that allow you to burn significant calories both during and after exercise in recovery.

So the holidays are upon us. Enjoy them. Make each day count. And for exercise – do what you’ve got to do and don’t forget to stretch.

Barret C. Butler is a registered dietitian with her Masters in Public Health from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. She is a private nutrition practitioner specializing in the treatment of adult weight management, childhood obesity, abnormal eating dynamics and family wellness. Families Together For Wellness has been her private nutrition intervention and educational approach for the last six years. Butler is the dietitian at Signature HealthCare and provides nutrition seminars for the Cornwell Center and Reid’s Fine Foods.

Page 1 of 2