Can My Symptoms Actually Be a Food Intolerance?


Can My Symptoms Actually Be a Food Intolerance?

Food intolerance or “sensitivities” can affect you in so many ways.

And they’re a lot more common than most people think.

We are not talking about anaphylaxis or immediate allergic reactions that involve an immune response. Those can be serious and life-threatening.  If you have any allergies, you need to steer clear of any traces of foods you are allergic to, and speak with your doctor or pharmacist about emergency medication, if necessary.

What we are talking about today, is an intolerance, meaning you do not tolerate a specific food very well and it causes immediate or chronic symptoms anywhere in the body. Symptoms can take hours or even days to show themselves. And symptoms can be located just about anywhere in the body.

This is what makes them so tricky to identify.


Symptoms of food intolerance’s:

There are some common food intolerance’s that have immediate and terribly painful gastrointestinal symptoms, such as lactose intolerance or celiac disease. These can cause stomach pain, gas, bloating, and/or diarrhea; symptoms can start immediately after eating lactose or gluten.

On the other hand, other more insidious symptoms may not be linked to foods in an obvious way.

Symptoms like:

  • Chronic muscle or joint pain
  • Sweating, or increased heart rate or blood pressure
  • Headaches or migraines
  • Exhaustion after a good night’s sleep
  • Autoimmune conditions like Hashimoto’s or rheumatoid arthritis
  • Rashes or eczema
  • Inability to concentrate or feeling like your brain is “foggy”
  • Shortness of breath

If your body has trouble digesting specific foods, it can affect your hormones, metabolism, or even cause inflammation and result in any of the symptoms listed above. And these can affect any (or all) parts of the body, not just your gastrointestinal system.


How to prevent these intolerance’s:

The main thing you can do is to figure out which foods or drinks you may be reacting to and stop ingesting them.

We know, we know…this sounds so simple, and yet it can be SO HARD.

The best way to identify your food/drink triggers is to eliminate them.

Yup, get rid of those offending foods/drinks. All traces of them, for four full weeks and monitor your symptoms.

Coach Shannon actually did a 28 day elimination program and gradually reintroduced foods to her system and was able to track a few of the offenders – the main culprit for her was certain types of dairy and processed soy products.

She spent the first seven days to ween off of the food and drink: alcohol, sugar, soy, dairy, and gluten.  She then spent two weeks not eating or drinking any of them at all. Then on week 4 re-introduced on of the foods on one a day then removed it again, and repeated until all were introduced.  We found that she only had issues when some dairy and processed soy products were reintroduced.

You are welcome to try this as well, you’ll see if things get better, then you need to decide whether it’s worth it to stop ingesting them, or if you want to slowly introduce them back one at a time while still looking out to see if/when symptoms return.


Or you can start here if eliminating two of the most common food intolerance’s:

Here are two of the most common triggers of food intolerance’s:

  • Lactose (in dairy – eliminate altogether, or look for a “lactose-free” label – try nut or coconut milk instead).
  • Gluten (in wheat, rye, and other common grains – look for a “gluten-free” label – try gluten-free grains like rice, quinoa & gluten-free oats).

Like you know this is by no means a complete list, but it’s a good place to start if you don’t want to eliminate the five that Coach Shannon did because lactose intolerance is thought to affect up to 75% of people, while “non-celiac gluten sensitivity” can affect up to 13% of people.

So, if you can eliminate all traces of lactose and gluten for three to four weeks, it can help in confirming whether either or both of these, are a source of your symptoms.

Yes, dairy and grains are a part of many government-recommended food guidelines, but you absolutely can get all of the nutrients you need if you focus on replacing them with nutrient-dense foods.

A reliable way to monitor how you feel after eating certain foods is to track it. After every meal or snack, write down the foods you ate, and any symptoms so you can more easily spot trends.

In the e-mail we sent you there is a link for a download for a free copy of our Weekly Diet Diary/Food Journal to help you track, just click on the link and save to your desktop.

And, as mentioned earlier, symptoms may not start immediately following a meal. You may find, for example, that you wake up with a headache the morning after eating bananas.

You might be surprised what links you can find if you track your food and symptoms well!

IMPORTANT NOTE: When you eliminate something, you need to make sure it’s not hiding in other foods, or the whole point of eliminating it for a few weeks is lost. Restaurant food, packaged foods, and sauces or dressings are notorious for adding ingredients that you’d never think are there.

You know that sugar hides in almost everything, but did you also know that wheat is often added to processed meats and soy sauce, and lactose can even be found in some medications or supplements?

When in doubt you HAVE to ask the server in a restaurant about hidden ingredients, read labels, and consider cooking from scratch.


What if it doesn’t work?

If eliminating these two common food intolerance’s doesn’t work, then you can go one step further to eliminate all dairy (even lactose-free) and all grains (even gluten-free) for four weeks.

Keep in mind, you may need to see a qualified healthcare practitioner for help, and that’s OK. We don’t want you to continue suffering if you don’t have to!


Thank you,




How to Feed Your Brain


The Gut-Brain Connection: How To Feed Your Brain

If there was ever a call for “digestive health,” this is it!

Yes, it’s true. Your gut is considered your “second brain.”

There is no denying it anymore.

And because of the new scientific discoveries about the vagus nerve, the enteric nervous system, and the amazing influence your gut microbes can have, it’s no wonder what you eat feeds not only your body but can directly affect your brain.

We find it amazing but not too surprising.

What exactly is the “gut-brain connection.”

Well, it’s very complex, and to be honest, we’re still learning so much about it in our studies

There seem to be multiple things working together.


Things like:

● The vagus nerve that links the gut directly to the brain;

● The “enteric nervous system” (A.K.A. “second brain) that helps the complex intricacies of digestion flow with little to no involvement from the actual brain;

● The massive amount of neurotransmitters produced by the gut;

● The huge part of the immune system that is in the gut, but can travel throughout the body; and,

● The interactions and messages sent by the gut microbes.


This is complex. And amazing, if you ask us.

We’ll briefly touch on these areas, and end off with a delicious recipe from Coach Shannon (of course!)


Vagus nerve

There is a nerve that runs directly from the gut to the brain.

And after reading this so far, you’ll probably get a sense of which direction 90% of the transmission is…

Not from your brain to your gut (which is what we used to think), but from your gut up to your brain!

The enteric nervous system and neurotransmitters

Would you believe us if we told you that the gut has more nerves than your spinal cord?

We knew you would!

And that’s why it’s referred to as the “second brain.”

And, if you think about it, controlling the complex process of digestion (i.e. digestive enzymes, absorption of nutrients, the flow of food, etc.) should probably be done pretty “smartly”…don’t you think?

Guess how these nerves speak to each other, and to other cells? By chemical messengers called “neurotransmitters.”

In fact, many of the neurotransmitters that have a strong effect on our mood are made in the gut! e.g. a whopping 95% of serotonin is made in your gut, not in your brain!


The immune system of the gut

Because eating and drinking is a huge portal where disease-causing critters can get into your body, it makes total sense that much of our defense system would be located there too, right?

Seventy-five percent of our immune system is in our gut!

And you know that the immune cells can move throughout the entire body and cause inflammation just about anywhere, right?

Well, if they’re “activated” by something in the gut, they can potentially wreak havoc anywhere in the body. Including the potential to cause inflammation in the brain.


Gut microbes

Your friendly neighborhood gut residents. You have billions of those little guys happily living in your gut. And they do amazing things like help you digest certain foods, make certain vitamins, and even help regulate inflammation!

But more and more evidence is showing that changes in your gut microbiota can impact your mood, and even other, more serious, mental health issues.

How do these all work together for brain health?

The honest answer to how these things all work together is that we really don’t know just yet. More and more studies are being done to learn more.

But one thing is becoming clear. A healthy gut goes hand-in-hand with a healthy brain!


So, how do you feed your brain?

Of course, a variety of minimally-processed, nutrient-dense foods is required, because no nutrients work alone.

But two things that you many consider eating more of are fiber and omega-3 fats. Fiber (in fruits, veggies, nuts & seeds) help to feed your awesome gut microbes. And omega-3 fats (in fatty fish, walnuts, algae, and seeds like flax, chia, and hemp) are well-know inflammation-lowering brain boosters.


Recipe (Gut food fibre, Brain food omega-3):

Blueberry Hemp Overnight Oats


1 cup blueberries (fresh or frozen)
1 cup oats (gluten-free)
2 scoops Vanilla protein powder
1 cup almond milk
1 tablespoon chia seeds
2 tablespoons hemp seeds
½ teaspoon cinnamon
1 banana, sliced
¼ cup chopped walnuts


1. Blend blueberries in the food processor until smooth.
2. Mix blueberries, oats, protein powder, almond milk, chia seeds, hemp seeds in a bowl with a lid. Let set in fridge overnight.
3. Split into two bowls and top with cinnamon, banana, and walnuts.

Serves 2

Serve & enjoy!

Tip: Your gut microbes love to eat the fiber in the blueberries, oats, seeds, and nuts. Meanwhile, your brain loves the omega-3 fats in the seeds and nuts.

Dedicated to your success,





Five Fat-Loss Friendly Snacks You Will Love


The words “weight-loss” and “snacks” often appear in the same sentence.

But that might also bring thoughts of “tasteless,” “cardboard,” and “completely unsatisfying.”


Let me give you our best weight-loss friendly snacks that aren’t just nutritious but also delicious!

What’s our criteria you ask?

They have to be nutrient-dense whole foods where a little goes a long way;  foods that contain protein and/or fiber.


1 – Nuts

It’s true – nuts contain calories and fat, but they are NOT fattening if you eat them in the right amounts.

Well, I’m not talking about the “honey roasted” ones, of course. I know for a fact they are fattening, I used to eat honey roasted every day when I was overweight.

Studies show that people who eat nuts tend to be healthier and leaner.

By the way, nuts also contain protein and fiber, which means a small amount can go pretty far in terms of filling you up. Not to mention the vitamins and minerals you can get from nuts.

Did you know that almonds have been shown to help with weight loss? At least 10% of the fat in them is not absorbed by the body, and almonds can also help to boost your metabolism!

Tip: Put a handful of unsalted/unsweetened nuts into a small container and throw it in your purse or bag. Great to have on hand when you get hungry.


2 – Fresh Fruit

As with nuts, studies show that people who tend to eat more fruit, tend to be healthier. (I’m sure you’re not too surprised!)

Yes, fresh fruit contains sugar, but whole fruits (I’m not talking juice or sweetened dried fruit) also contain a fair bit of water and fiber; not to mention their nutritional value with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. And fresh fruit is low in calories.

Fiber is something that not only helps to fill you up (known as the “satiety factor”) but also helps to slow the release of the fruit sugar into your bloodstream and reduce the notorious “blood sugar spike.”


Try a variety of fruit (apples, pears, berries, etc.) and pair that with a handful of nuts, cottage cheese, or 1 ounce of cheese.

Tip: Can’t do fresh? Try frozen and make a mini smoothie with unsweetened almond milk, scoop of protein powder and handful of berries!


3 – Chia seeds

This is one of my personal favorites…

Chia is not only high in fiber (I mean HIGH in fiber), but it also contains protein and omega-3 fatty acids (yes THOSE omega-3s!). As well as antioxidants, calcium, and magnesium.

Can you see how awesome these tiny guys are?

They also absorb a lot of liquid, so by soaking them for a few minutes, they make a thick pudding (that is delicious and fills you up).

Tip: Put two tablespoons in a bowl with ½ cup of nut milk and blend in high speed blender. Refrigerate overnight then the next day top with some berries, ½ teaspoon of chopped walnuts,  and/or cinnamon and enjoy! (makes a delicious pudding!)


4 – Hard Boiled eggs 

Eggs are packed with nutrition and most of it is in the yolk.

They contain a lot of high-quality protein and a good amount of vitamins and minerals.

And recent research shows that the cholesterol in the yolks is NOT associated with high elevated cholesterol or heart disease risk.

Yup, you read that right!

Tip: Boil a bunch of eggs and keep them in your fridge for a super-quick (and nutritious) snack! Eat them with a handful of veggies (i.e. carrots, celery, and cauliflower) are all great choices.


5 – Vegetables

We don’t need to tell you how great these are for you, but just maybe we need to sell you on the delicious “snackability” of these nutrition powerhouses.

Veggies contain fiber and water to help fill you up, and you don’t need me to tell you about their vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, right?

You can easily open a bag of baby carrots and/or cherry tomatoes and give them a quick rinse (they’re already bite-sized).  Another fun snack can be almond butter on celery!

Tip: Use a bit of dip and spice them up if you like it! How about trying my new hummus recipe below?



Go ahead and try one, or more, of these healthy snacks. Prepare them the night before if you need to. They will not be “tasteless,” like “cardboard,” or “completely unsatisfying.”


Recipe (Vegetable Dip): Hummus

Makes about 2 cups

Tasty Sesame Hummus

  • 1  can chickpeas (garbanzo beans), drained & rinsed
  • ⅓ cup tahini
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 2 tbsp sesame oil
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 dash salt
  • 1 dash pepper


  1. Put all ingredients into a food processor and blend until smooth. You may need to thin it out with a bit of water, so add it 1 or 2 tablespoons at a time and blend. Serve & enjoy!

Tip: Don’t like sesame? Use an avocado in place of the tahini, and olive oil in place of the sesame oil. Mix it up a little – and if you like “heat” add in a few jalapenos!


Dedicated to your success,




How healthy is your visit to the bathroom?


 Is Your Poop Healthy?


Yes, we are very serious! (And don’t you sometimes wonder anyway?)

You already know that your poop can reflect your physical, and sometimes even emotional, health.

You may get constipation or have diarrhea when you eat something that “doesn’t agree with you,” or when you’re super-nervous about something.

And what about fiber and water? If you’re not getting enough, it’ll probably show in your poop.

What about the all-important gut microbes? If they’re not happy, it’ll probably show in your poop.


Here’s a trivia question for you:

Did you know there is an “official” standard for poop?

There actually is a university-created chart! One that is used to help diagnose conditions like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)


Meet the Bristol Stool Scale

The Bristol Stool Scale was created at the prestigious University of Bristol in the UK back in 1997.

You can see the chart here.

The scale breaks down type of poop into seven different categories ranging from type 1 which is very constipated, to type 7 which is diarrhea:

1 – Separate hard lumps (very constipated).

2 – Lumpy and sausage-like (slightly constipated).

3 – Sausage shaped with cracks in the surface (normal)

4 – Smooth, soft sausage (normal).

5 – Soft blobs with clear-cut edges (lacking fiber).

6 – Mushy consistency with ragged edges (inflammation).

7 – Liquid consistency with no solid pieces (inflammation).


Other “poop” factors to consider

You probably guessed that the shapes described in the Bristol Stool Scale are not the only thing to consider for poop health.

Think about how often you go. At least once per day, up to 3 times per day is pretty good. Less than one, or more than three can mean there is something going on.

What about how hard you have to try to go? You want it to be as effortless as possible.

And the color? It should be brown from the bile that you need to break down the fats you ingest.

And if it’s green after a day of massive veggies, or red after that large glass of beet juice, you’re just fine.

But if you see an abnormal color, like red or even black, that you can’t explain based on what you ate or drank in the last day or two, you probably want to get that checked out.


What do you do when you have “imperfect” poo?

Well, the first thing to consider is how imperfect it is, and how often it is like that? Once in a while, things aren’t going to be perfect, and that’s A-OK.

If you know you need to get more fiber or water, then try increasing that.

If you haven’t had enough probiotic foods, then try getting more of them.

If you’re super-stressed, then try deep breathing, meditating, or having a warm Epson salt bath.


Remember the two most basic pieces of nutrition advice:

  • First, eat a variety of nutrient-dense, minimally processed foods, including fruits & veggies (and their “fibrous” skins, wherever possible). The fiber in these is not only helpful for pushing food through your gut, but they also feed those millions of amazing helpful critters that live there (your friendly gut microbes.)
  • The second piece of advice is to eat slowly, and mindfully, chewing thoroughly.

These are good habits for anyone and everyone, even when you have perfect poop!

Of course, long-term issues might require a more thorough review with a qualified health care practitioner. Don’t suffer from poop issues for too long before seeking help.

Dedicated to your success,




Do you or someone you love get hot flashes?


 Learn tips on how to help reduce them Naturally

It is very typical to get hot flashes at night while you are sleeping.

Do your hot flashes set the bed on fire (but not in a good way)?

Mine have definitely decreased over the years as I began to notice the foods, beverages, and emotions that triggered them. I’ve worked at incorporating many of the tips below into my daily routine so I can help mitigate them as much as I can and feel so much better as a result.

First here is a little bit of information on why hot flashes occur so we can try to effect the root cause of these hormonal symptoms.


What causes hot flashes?

As you can imagine it’s all about hormonal balance (or imbalance).

During the menstruating years your estrogen allows for your ovaries to respond when “luteinizing hormone” (LH) says to release those eggs every month.

When it gets to the point where your estrogen levels start dropping (i.e. perimenopause) those ovaries start to simply ignore the LH.

And guess what your body’s response to this is?

It releases adrenaline!

Hot flashes are one of the most common complaints of menopause, as the periods of intense heat, warm skin, and sweating are uncomfortable. This causes your body to heat up for a few minutes until it cools itself back down.


What triggers hot flashes?

You may have already identified some of the triggers of your hot flashes as I have.

Perhaps they’re related to the food and drinks you consume (e.g. coffee, sugar, citrus fruit, large meals).   But did you also know that dairy products, red meat, and spicy foods rank among the top triggers of severe hot flashes?.

Maybe they’re related to lifestyle factors (e.g. stress, alcohol, smoking, certain medications or intense exercise – yes intense exercise can induce a hot flash).

Or maybe they get worse as your weight slowly climbs (higher BMI)?

Did you know that some menopausal women who lost weight were able to eliminate their hot flashes?


Now, let’s reduce those hot flash triggers naturally, shall we?


Food #1 – Flax

Flax contains a “phytoestrogen” named “lignan”.  Phyto (plant) estrogens are thought to help our bodies better balance hormones by mimicking them and binding to certain hormone receptors.

Flax also contains fiber and omega-3 essential fatty acids.  Both are powerhouses for better gut and heart health, additional benefit and an excellent source of fat.

But here’s where it gets interesting.

One study looked at thousands of women who experienced at least 14 hot flashes per week.  Researchers had them add four tablespoons of flax meal to their day.

Yes, just four tablespoons.

After 6 weeks the number of hot flashes they had dropped in half and the intensity of those hot flashes dropped by more than half!

Scientists think that’s due mostly to the lignan content of flax seeds.

That’s a pretty powerful food!

It’s also fairly easy to increase your intake of flax.  You can add one or two tablespoons into your smoothie or sprinkle it on just about anything (breakfast, salad, nut butters, etc.).  Not to mention how easy it is to add to your baking.  (Hint, see recipe below).

Coach Shannon’s Tip:  Flax seeds should be ground up in order to get most of their benefits because much of the healthy compounds in them are securely stored beneath the hard outer shell. You can purchase them whole and store them in the freezer then grind them right before serving. We use a coffee grinder for ease.


Food #2  – Protein

Our bodies involve complicated balance of hormones that are greatly affected by our environment and the foods that we ingest. Healthy hormonal and emotional balance can be achieved by ingesting healthy foods.

These nutritious foods can provide not only good information for our bodies—it supplies all the raw materials your neuroendocrine (nerve–hormone).

Coach Shannon’s Tip: Protein is one of the raw materials required to make and balance hormones, so it is wise to include some with each meal and snack that you eat.


Food #3 – Water

OK, maybe this is not a food but a beverage – please hear me out because it is so very important.

When you get hot flashes you’re losing more water than you normally would.  Similarly to when you exercise.

Make sure you replace those critical fluids by drinking enough water.  A good habit is to make sure that you don’t get to the point of feeling overly thirsty by keeping a bottle, glass, or cup beside you all day long for frequent sips.

Water is definitely something to add (or increase) to your daily intake when you’re experiencing hot flashes.  We strongly recommend that you get in at a minimum half your body weight in ounces of water and eventually increase it to 2/3rds your body weight.

Coach Shannon’s Tip: Remember decaffeinated teas can support your water intake, we know some people have difficulty drinking enough water, so look for ways that you can get it into your day.  In the Smoothie & Juicing Guide that we are giving away in the Be Better You Facebook Coaching Group – Coach Shannon also had several water recipes to help elevate the boredom with regular water.  (p.s. the coaching group is free – everyone is welcome to join – click the link)


There are just three things you should do if you experience hot flashes: increase your intake of both flax, protein and water. We will spend more time this month learning how we can positively change menopause symptoms for a better quality of life.

Recipe (flax): Strawberry, Banana & Mango Smoothie

In this tasty recipe from – they combine Greek yogurt and nut butter boost protein, and ground flaxseed adds omega-3s in this fresh fruit smoothie recipe. Use frozen fruit if you like a frosty smoothie.


  • 1 cup hulled strawberries, fresh or frozen
  • ½ medium banana
  • ½ cup diced mango, fresh or frozen
  • ½ cup nonfat plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 tablespoon natural nut butter, such as cashew or almond
  • 1 tablespoon ground flaxseed (flaxmeal)
  • ¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ cup water


Combine strawberries, banana, mango, yogurt, nut butter, flaxmeal, vanilla and a water in a blender. Puree until smooth.

Serve & Enjoy!

*Tip:  You can blend flax and/or oats to make your own freshly ground flax meal or oat flour.

Dedicated to your success,