The energy buzz supplement you didn’t realise you were taking.

coffee energy boos blog

If you’re tempted to skim this post and think it’s another post about the amount of hidden sugar in carrots, then before you click away I’d like to tell you this is NOT one of those waste of time articles which over dramatises the title. This is is an article about something more insidious and much, much harder to eliminate from your life.

This energy-drainer and balance de-railer is not something you eat or drink, it’s not something you buy from the supermarket and it’s not a hidden additive on a label you can look for. It is something you do. Something you create. It’s what I’ll call the “surrogate buzz”.

The “surrogate buzz”: a definition

In short it’s where you use the buzz from one thing to give you the energy boost to do something else. How you boost the waning interest of one project with the energy buzz that comes from starting a new one. Much like people use the buzz from coffee, energy drinks and sweet snacks to boost waning energy levels, the surrogate buzz has the same kind of effect, only it’s less obvious.

Am I being a bit melodramatic?

No, I’m really not. If you’ve cut out caffeine, and all the other stuff, and are left wondering “why on earth don’t I feel better?” then this article is for you. Constantly relying on the “surrogate buzz” depletes you. And if you’re unaware of it, or ignore it, you could be heading towards burnout (I know, because it’s happened to me and I see it happen to others, but as with many things, people tend to feel like they are invincible until something happens and they realise they’ve pushed their own boundaries too far for too long).

The environment “energy buzz”

It first “hit” me one day when I was out with a friend. The music was pumping so loudly I could feel the vibration through my body and my heart beat was speeding up with it, the room was packed and there was a definite “vibe” in the air. The lights in the room were dancing about like a night club. Only it wasn’t a night club. It was a business seminar that I’d gone along to keep my friend company for the day. I was surrounded by people in their late 20s to early 50s and it was 8am in a hotel conference room.

The host came on stage and through the course of the day told us (many times) how he’d consulted a behavioural scientist to create the “right vibe” to help the audience be receptive to the possibilities. That year I attended 3 more events which were really similar in set up. Each of them designed to manipulate the “buzz” through the environment. It was effective too, the music was loud and emotive with lyrics that “touched” you, the beat of the music and the general vibe was quite interesting and the energy in the room was palpable. The look on the faces of the participants who had been more than once were optimistic, determined, hopeful, enthusiastic.

What happens when the environmental energy buzz isn’t enough

The hosts in each of these situations were entrepreneur types and millionaires who obviously loved what they were doing, but interestingly, myself and the other naturopath watched the scenes like outsiders who weren’t under the trance. We noticed the speakers at these events downing energy drinks like water on a hot day. And although they were espousing the virtues of their “free” lifestyles, the physical signs of living that kind of lifestyle for years on end were showing. Mostly in the eyes. Make up can cover a lot but it’s really quite hard to make the eyes of a tired person look sparkly, unless they talk about something they love. When people talk about something they love, you’ll usually notice their eyes light up, their facial expression will change, and their “vibe” will shift and lift.

But these guys were tired, hence they were relying on the energy drinks because they didn’t get the same buzz just from being “there” any more. They now needed to have a crutch to boost their energy to get them through.

How this relates to the average person

Anyway, after this even it occurred to me how people buffer their waning energy levels by taking on something new that they love. Doing something you love gives you a sparkle in your eye, inspiration, joy, it’s a little adrenaline rush.You feel “alive” again and like there’s things to do, and things you can do and want to do again. And for someone with fading energy levels, the lure of that “call to creativity” can be exhilarating. For a brief time before you completely burn out your batteries, you have the feeling that you can do it all. Spend all day looking after the kids, work until 2 am after everyone goes to bed and rise at 6am and do it all over again – wihout coffee! You now have the time to do all the things you need to do, as well as all the things you want to do and feel you “should” do for “balance” (like meditate, yoga, make green drinks and whole food bliss balls, etc.).

But after a while the cracks start to show. Whether you:

  • gain weight,
  • feel exhausted
  • just can’t be the early riser you used to be.
  • lose your mojo for the project you took on

And once again, you find yourself day dreaming, you find new ideas for new projects springing into your mind. You feel like you have a new well of energy from the little adrenaline rush that comes from starting a new project and you surrogate the energy from that buzz to fuel what you’re trying to finish and to help you fulfill the responsibilities of the other things you already had on your to do list.

Is this where overwhelm begins?

It’s not uncommon for people to find themselves overwhelmed with too many things on their plate. They usually step into my clinic hoping for herbs or supplements, after having read articles about ginseng, magnesium, B vitamins, superfoods and many of the other wonder supplements. They are hoping to find a way to boost their energy levels. All of these things though are external and won’t help bring back the energy levels if the habits which are creating the feelings of fatigue are still in place (do you recall the leaky boat blog post?).

As someone who has been burnt out and as a creative who has done the surrogate energy thing (hello, online cooking show!) I can tell you that the answer is not in bringing more things in. It’s not just about cutting things out either (don’t get me wrong, I think cutting out coffee, and junk food is a good idea) but sometimes people get so fixated on eliminating all the chemicals, cooking everything from scratch (and feeling guilty when they can’t achieve these things) that it adds an extra stress in itself. After the initial buzz of learning about it all has come and gone, you’re left with the pressure to maintain yet another thing you’ve brought into your life, rather than trying to do the things that will make the most difference, and give you the most benefit for your effort.

So if you’re feeling tired – or just not as refreshed as you feel like you should eg. you’re waking tired, you’ve had holidays but feel like you need another, and you just can’t see any other holes that need plugging in your boat, then I’d like to invite you to take a really close look at your projects and responsibilities and to ask yourself where are you “robbing from Peter to give to Paul”? eg. Where are you using the energy from one situation to give to another which has lost it’s spark?

Did you start a new business because you found being a stay-at-home mum exhausting? Did you start a second business when the first stopped providing a buzz? Do you have many books half read? Eg. You’re losing interest in one and another catches your eye and you think, “ooh, must read about that now!” Perhaps it’s an e-course? Perhaps it’s buying clothes? Or renovating the house? What are the projects which give you the buzz?

I’d really love to hear from you, either comment below, or send me an email and let me know.

But isn’t getting a buzz from something you love doing – a good thing?

Generally yes, the problem with the long-term “surrogate buzz” users is that you tend to take on new projects that you haven’t really got time for, and before you’ve finished the existing ones. Also, if you get your buzz from “retail therapy” you’re spending your family’s financial resources too and all in all this can add more stress to your situation.

It’s a bit like a snowball, it starts off as a small thing, but compounds over time and if you’re not careful you can find yourself burnt out but still with a whole lot of responsibilities.

So how do we clear this up? Well it’s not as simple as just telling someone not to take on too many projects or giving them a supplement. As with many things in naturopathy, just realising you’ve been using a surrogate buzz is a great place to start.


I’m on a mission to find better ways to help people get and maintain their health over the long-term. If you’re on this journey too and would like some insights, info and inspiration along the way, enter your name and email address below and join my newsletter list and I’ll keep you in the loop.


The old “never well since” trick. It gets them every single time.

broken 1

How our “Millenium Falcon” trampoline looks after this weeks storms and heavy rain.

I’m about to embark on a “Sneaky Leaky Holes” series and I’ll be honest, it’s really hard to decide which leaky hole to tackle first. So after a chat with Glenys  (a fellow naturopath, and co-cook on Alternative Chef Kitchen) I thought I’d get all naturopathic about it and well, just start at the beginning.

When we’ve got clients in clinic with tricky health histories and convoluted stories, one of the best techniques I learned back in Naturopathy college is to figure out when and how it all began to unwind by asking if they have a “never well since” situation ( I learned about this in a book by Leo Galland called The Four Pillars of Healing).

When it comes to the convoluted story of my health journey, well I was definitely one of those people who “was never well since…”. For me, I’ve had a couple of “sinces”.

Chicken Pox

The first real “since” was when I got Chickenpox from a family friend who was battling shingles. I was 20 at the time and visiting people to pass out invitations to my 21st birthday (luckily the doctor deemed me to be safe for the public on the day of my actual party;-) I’d just began my Honours project at the time. Traditionally in science Honours is a bit of a “trial by fire” year where working crazy long hours in the hopes of getting a First Class Honours grade is what is expected in some laboratories (sadly, I worked in one of these). But, I was young, fit and healthy. I had some odd digestive issues going on, food sensitivities (like dairy) as well as things like menstrual pain (which a decade later I learned was endometriosis) and migraines. So lots of little niggly things which could have impacted on my energy levels, but I was young, 21 and into fitness and health. My best friend and I would wake up at 6am and either do an exercise video or walk down to the beach and back (about 3k round trip) before going to uni. I went to Flinders University which is a big campus, so there was a lot of walking once at uni involved too. I was doing karate (and I LOVED it). I was an early riser and a night owl (because I’m a book addict and I’d stay up late reading). I drank a lot of coffee back then, but otherwise, I rarely drank alcohol, and had a pretty healthy diet as I lived at home and my mum cooked a lot of traditional meals (we lived the Mediterranean diet!;-)

It turned out that my Honours year was a crazy stressful busy year for a few reasons.  My sister was getting married, and there were other stressful things happening within the department and with other students.

Passing up my Honours thesis (an 80 page document about my research project) was the culmination of late nights and stress because like in year 12 where “everything” hinges on the 1 grade, Honours feels much like that. If you got a crap honours mark, no one would hire you, and you wouldn’t be able to get a scholarship if you wanted to go on to do a PhD. The pressure was crazy.

I ended up having to re-format the thesis 3 times and had to pass in the thesis a day late (due to computer glitches that happened twice using the computer and printer of the head of department – who was also the honours co-ordinator).

I’d wake though the night for a week or so afterward thinking “Oh I’ve got to find the reference for that section of the literature review!” Or “Check I included the right image here” etc.

So looking back with what I know now, it doesn’t come as a surprise to me that the next year was a “sick year”. I caught a lot of colds, my digestive issues played up, and the general feeling of “broken” happened. I didn’t have the same amount of motivation or “gusto” that I had before Honours and before the Chicken Pox.

Glandular Fever

The story doesn’t end there. I’d pretty much recovered by the end of that year and was feeling more like “myself” again until I got Glandular Fever (Epstein Barr virus and CMV at the same time) when I was 25.

It had taken awhile for the Glandular Fever to be diagnosed. My housemade at the time and I had been feeling generally crap with a really sore throat. She’d been saying that she felt so tired she could have slept at her bench and I thought I must have been getting depressed or something because I’d never felt so low in energy in my life.

I’d seen my GP at the uni health clinic and he told me I just had a cold and to go home and drink chicken soup like everyone else. He said, “I could run a couple of tests, but that would just be wasting the governments time and money”. So I sheepishly walked out of the office with the antibiotics and went home feeling like I was a hypochondriac. That was until I began itching. So much so that I was developing bruises. My arms and thighs were covered with them and I looked like I’d been beaten up. My housemate was horrified and so I went to see a different doctor at the clinic who discovered I had Glandular Fever and some “minor liver damage” from the antibiotics.

So the year after I had glandular was another “sick” year. There were big moves around the laboratory and within the department and with my supervisors and I caught everything going around. and my period pain was getting worse again. I just felt completely terrible and depleted. I ended up in the doctors office in tears saying “I can’t take it any more, I’m getting sick all the time!” And luckily I had a good doctor who ran some tests but got me on a multi and some zinc (which I was low in).

About 6 months later the doctor had moved away and I’d continued to have menstrual problems and my housemate suggested I see a naturopath (and the rest  as you know because you’re reading this is history;-).

Sadly that’s not the end of my “since” story. I have a few more “never the same since” situations, including since working in a pharmacy and since having children.

The combination of sleep deprivation and general busy-ness is not something I bounce back from as quickly any more. There’s also the added reality that there is just less “me” time in a day (but I’ll talk about how that becomes a leaky hole and is a bit of a “robbing from Peter to give to Paul situation” in the next post).

So do you have a “never been well since” situation? If you do, and you’ve got some niggly health issues going on, I think it’s worth chatting with an integrative GP and or naturopath who can take the time to look at your health history as a whole for a better picture of how many “never the same since” situations you’ve had.

Scar tissue – the metaphor for this post

I also think it’s important to look at our bodies and how we deal with stresses from that “breaking” point or “never the same since” situation onwards a little differently (for example, I’m not 21 anymore, I’m almost 38 there are lots of things that don’t happen as well as they did 20 years ago, like recoveries from late nights for example!!).  So the image I go with in my mind when I think of this, is of scar tissue. You break, you heal, but the skin that heals isn’t the same as it was before. The younger you are, the better and quicker you heal. The older, or if there are some other things going on, you just don’t heal as well as you used to.

scar tissue blog

Scar tissue. Sometimes it heals well, sometimes not.

Cool as the body is, scar tissue is scar tissue, it’s not the original tissue. So our expectations of how we are going to be after we “heal” might need to be a bit different than before. And my feeling (and experience) has also been that if the tissue gets broken more than once well, it’s not going to take as much to break it the next time. It doesn’t mean you won’t heal, but I think it means we need to be more mindful of the things that can “break” us and avoid the ones we can, and learn how to give ourselves enough time to heal from the ones we cant.

Anyway, if you liked this post, or you know someone who it will resonate with, then by all means share it and forward it on. If this is your first time finding me and you’d like more insights, musings and thoughts about this long term health journey, then enter your name and email address below to join my mailing list and I’ll keep you in the loop:-)

When it comes to your health and lifestyle, do you have a leaky boat?

leaky boatAs a naturopath our approach to help improve health and quality of life is to look for things that are causing the problem (and the symptoms), rather than aiming to just remove the symptoms. eg. If you’re in a boat and the boat has holes in it and is filling with water, removing the water from the boat with a bucket is a short term solution. It’ll stop the boat from sinking only as long as you keep bucketing out the water.

So a naturopathic solution would look more like trying to plug the holes in the boat which are letting the water to come in, and if there’s someone making holes in the boat, to get them offboard pronto!

I always think of this as a boat analogy and this is the one I give my clients in clinic and that I visualise myself when I’m looking at my own life, but I’ve seen some other great analogies too, one by Dr. Dean Ornish, where he has doctors mopping up water from an over-flowing sink while the taps are turned on full, and another by Kristin Sweeting-Morelli in a course I did with her, which is a colander. For me though, I’ve always pictured a boat. Ever since my French housemate read me the  children’s book by Bridget Bardot called “Noonoah Le petit phoque blanc” (the little white seal) the expression on the face of the furrier killing the baby seals has stayed with me (seriously, you don’t even need to speak french to appreciate the book), sadly my drawing skills aren’t as powerful as the illustrator is for Bridget Bardot’s book but every time I think of “hole makers” I’ve got that image in my mind.

Anyway, go with the analogy that works for you, but for the purposes of understanding the things which could be contributing to your stress, fatigue and lack of time to make your health a priority, I’ll continue with the boat analogy.

So why would people rather bucket out water continuously than seal the holes or get rid of the hole maker?

In fact, when people realise how exhausting bucketing the water out over the long term will be, they tend to look for bigger buckets, or more complicated solutions like the health equivalent of automated pumps (fancy home exercise equipment, like tummy toning rollers, thigh squeezers, etc. or perhaps it’s a higher powered blender, a smaller blender, etc.). Few people look at plugging the holes and kindly ending the contract with the hole maker. Eg. asking themselves why there is no time to make a salad? Why don’t I feel like eating a salad? etc.

Why is that?

On the surface bucketing out the water seems like the less expensive option. It also has the added bonus of keeping things pretty much the same. No structural changes to the boat. No personnel changes (eg. no awkward conversations with the hole -maker) and no expensive equipment, skills or “down” time required to have the boat out of the water to fix it. There is also the illusion that it’s more efficient and cheaper to bucket out of the water (because you don’t have the down time or the time to find a better crew who aren’t going to make holes in the boat).

But the reality is that after a while, you’re going to get tired of bucketing out the water. Worst case scenario, you might not be able to bucket out enough water fast enough to prevent the boat sinking. Also, over time, the ongoing costs of the automated pump options (eg. supplements, trendy equipment etc.) also start to build up.

So if you’re going to make some changes to your health and lifestyle for real and lasting change, to get results that make a difference, you really need to change the things that are going to make a difference. Take out the hole makers, fix the holes, then put the boat back in the water.

A lot of trendy health, lifestyle and goal setting information has you bringing more buckets in, convincing you you need a bucket with different design (like an ergonomic handle), or buckets in different sizes, etc. But the problem will remain, as long as you’re bringing more things in rather than dealing with the cause your problem is still going to be there (especially if part of the problem is over-scheduling, saying “Yes” when you should be saying “no”, being too “busy” and feeling overwhelmed by clutter).

As I’ve mentioned previously, the problem with adding more things in to an already over-stuffed life means there’s less time and energy to make the changes that would really make a difference,

So in terms of health and lifestyle the kinds of things which are the metaphorical equivalent of a leaky boat include:

  • feeling too tired to live your life
  • feeling “unhappy”
  • feeling anxious
  • feeling stressed
  • feeling overwhelmed

The metaphorical equivalent of “getting a bigger bucket” are things which help you cope with your current situation  but don’t necessarily encourage you to change the things which are causing the stress, like:

  • supplements (or over the counter pharmaceuticals) without any actual lifestyle change
  • things you “add in” – like green smoothies and juices, extra exercise to burn off calories from junk food eaten daily rather than as a special occasion.
  • fancy home exercise equipment (you don’t use after awhile)
  • books or CDs for meditation or relaxation (you stop using after awhile)
  • “superfoods” you think you can add to a poor diet without making long term diet changes (a whole post on this one down the track).

In the analogy, the hole makers are things which “drain” you or cause your situation to keep happening. Or they are the things which keep making it hard to make lifestyle changes for the better eg:

  • friends that “use” you
  • friends that tempt you with smoking, drinking or junk food
  • family members (or friends) that are addicted to drama
  • being surrounded by clutter
  • having a never ending “to do” list (no time to cook healthily if you’re busy zipping around from one commitment to another)
  • having money stress
  • co-workers or bosses which make your life at work hard
  • doing a job you don’t enjoy
  • having an unreliable car, phone, etc.
  • being “busy”
  • over-scheduling
  • leaving things to the last minute
  • not seeing a qualified healthcare practitioner like a doctor to find out why you’re tired (there can be so many causes so if you’re feeling constantly tired make sure you see a qualified healthcare practitioner like a doctor and also a naturopath (to help with making the lifestyle and diet changes depending on what the cause of your fatigue is) instead of ignoring symptoms and hoping they’ll go away.

Sometimes it’s not easy to take out all the hole makers, or to take “the boat out of water” and  take the time out that you need to really “fix your boat”, eg either you work full time and your family needs your income, or you’ve got kids and there is no such thing as a sleep in. But that aside there are still a lot of things you can do to reduce the burden.

So here is your action item for today. If you’re feeling tired, stressed or overwhelmed and you’d like to get your health back on track, before we talk about the typical things like vitamin B, or iron, magnesium or any other individual nutrient, you need to look at your life objectively and suss out two things:

  1. Have you bought a bigger bucket? and
  2. What hole-makers do you have on your boat? If you’ve got some which aren’t on the list above feel free to mention them in the comments below.

It’s funny, but over my time in clinic I’ve witnessed many times the power of seemingly simple changes. The health benefits of plant-based and mostly plant-based diets, the benefits of clearing clutter and the benefits of going to bed earlier and drinking enough water. These things seem so simple they are often ignored for the more impressive looking and sounding supplements, exercise or kitchen equipment or analytical equipment. But those things don’t usually lead to long term change because you become reliant on external things and since the only thing which is consistent throughout your life is you, it makes sense to work on empowering yourself with knowledge and skills to adjust the boat and re-set the course if things go a bit wonky, you hit rough waters or something springs a leak (eg. your lifestyle changes, such as you start a family, change from a “regular” 9-5 job to shift work, you go from working for someone else to starting your own business or you have a family member move in with you, etc). This is why I believe that the most important thing is to teach people how to recognise when things are “off course” and to empower them with the knowledge and skills to “correct the course” themselves, so they’re not way-laid by bigger shinier buckets.

I’m on a mission to try to find ways to make this easier and more doable, so if you’re on that journey too and you’d like some company and fresh insights then enter your name and email address below and I’ll keep you in the loop:-)




Why do people find it so hard to “reduce stress”?

After a couple of very busy years and some curly turns on my personal health journey, I can honestly say that sitting down to write this email feels like coming home. The last time I wrote (back in May in 2015) I was finishing off the calcium blog post series and said that when I came back I intended to talk about stress. Why stress? Because it is insidious! It’s horrible stuff. I think it’s become one of those things we are a bit blase about nowadays. You know… you’re sitting in your doctors office and asking them “So why is my hair falling out?” and they reply after assessing your results which are “normal” even though your hair is falling out and they say “Could be stress.” And you think… Oh. right. Stress.

But you look at your life and think well… what is causing stress in my life?

  • my job? We need to pay our bills and retirement is looming so I cant just quit my job.
  • my friends? We love them but some may frustrate us with their addiction to drama and chaos. There can also be issues with betrayals (this kind of thing doesn’t just happen on The Bold and the Beautiful;-)
  • my family? Again, see my friends;-)
  • my relationship? Again see above;-)
  • my late nights? But if I sleep when the kids sleep I’ll never get any “awake time to myself”
  • my lack of exercise? I don’t have time to exercise (see above!)
  • the clutter in my house? I really want to clean but I have no time (see above!)

So what can I do to reduce my stress? You ask the doctor or you start to research it for yourself and you see things like meditation, yoga, tai chi, exercise in general and you think “but I don’t have  enough time in my day now to do the things I need to do and all these stress reducing activities cut into that time!”. And so in the end it all seems too hard to maintain for too long. So it becomes one of those causes that we “know” about but don’t really “do”.

Over the last few years (where my health has gone all over the place) I’ve questioned the logic of some of our clinical advice (as health care practitioners in general, both mainstream and natural health). There seem to be 2 options for advice and support from practitioners:

  • medications, supplements or herbs
  • lifestyle activities like mindfulness, exercise, yoga, tai chi, etc. and looking at things like relationships and work stress

Apart from suggesting someone looks for a new job or seeks relationship counseling or begins a regular exercise routine with a personal trainer – I don’t feel that we are really hitting the mark here.
All these things we are asking people to do to “reduce” stress are actually just adding more into an already over cluttered life.

Sure we can give some herbs to help reduce stress and help the body cope with stress better, or b vitamins etc. but are we just delaying the inevitable? Sometimes I have a bit of ambivalence and a bit of an ethical dilemma with supplementing to help give people more energy or cope with stress better when it’s clear they need some serious lifestyle changes (as my clients in clinic would understand). I question whether taking a herb or supplement is really helping us learn to reduce our stress or does it just give us more energy and help us struggle on with the massive load we’ve been carrying for a bit longer and delay the inevitable need for change?

The three long term stress pictures tend to go something like this:

  • poor health
  • burnout
  • burn out with poor health

Since one of our goals in naturopathy is to help find the causes that are driving poor health in our clients I think in recent years we haven’t looked back far enough. If you read this post of you’ve chatted with me in clinic, you’ll know that I think part of the problem is the heavy focus on the biochemistry, pharmacology and molecular biology nowadays. Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s great that naturopathy training is including this information (I have a B.Sc. majoring in biochemistry and molecular biology – so I am “pro” knowledge) my concern is that we’re starting to forget our “roots” as naturopaths which have an emphasis on diet and lifestyle and bringing those factors back in balance. I feel that too much emphasis nowadays is on identifying a molecular or biochemical cause for an imbalance but not looking at the whole person in front of you. Instead it’s : “oh you’ve got the MTHFR mutation” or “It’s adrenal fatigue”, or “PCOS” or something similar rather than, “But what is happening to make you get symptoms from this now what changed? When did it change? Why did it change? When did your body stop coping and start showing these symptoms?” (You’d have had the mutation all your life, so what has changed now to make it express itself?)

Rather than saying ” lack of exercise is the cause of your health problem, exercise more” we should be asking “Why is there not time to exercise in your current lifestyle?
Rather than saying ” lack of sleep is the cause of your health problem – you need to go to bed earlier” we should be asking “Why are you going to sleep so late every night?”
Rather than saying “You’re working yourself into the ground, you need a holiday” we should be asking “Why do you feel driven to work so hard all the time? What does working ‘give’ you that a holiday wouldn’t”.

Don’t get me wrong, supplements and herbs certainly have their time and place in clinic.  But my clients and I have a very long chat about the dilemma. Are they going to be making some big changes or are they just going to keep having herbs and not change anything – or worse, add more on their plate because of the energy boost they get?

I see it in myself, I see it with other practitioners, I see it in my friends and family I see it in my clients I see it in acquaintances. So many busy stressed out people. So many tired people. Why is this?

So I’ve spent the better part of the last 6-12 months really looking at my lifestyle for the things that are causing stress, looking at the things I find hard to change, can’t change or know I should, but haven’t been changing and looking at ways to reduce stress without adding more onto an already busy plate. Producing an online TV show, authoring, publishing, promoting and distributing my book keeps my days more than “full” and that’s without adding in children and clinic so I’ve developed a few theories about how and why we find it hard to “reduce” stress and how we might make it easier and create real change this year and I’ll talk about these more in the coming blog posts. Nutrition is important, but I think there are some more things getting in the way making it hard for people to really integrate this information into their lives for the long term. But more about that next time!

Do you resonate with my thoughts here? If yes, what resonates. If no, what doesn’t resonate? Have you been told to reduce stress? Did it work for you? How long did you maintain the changes for? I’d really love to hear from you.

Are you on the mailing list?  Getting healthy – and maintaining it over the long term is something which fascinates me and I’m on a mission to try to find ways to make this easier and more doable for people, so if you’re on that journey too and you’d like some company and fresh insights then enter your name and email address below and I’ll keep you in the loop:-)

The 5 reasons new year health resolutions fail.

It’s no secret. I think the biggest intellectual challenge for naturopaths (and health practitioners in general) nowadays is not in helping people get healthy  – but in helping them maintain the health that they gain after seeing us, through all the challenges and changes in their lives from that point onward.

Why? Because things change and new habits are hard enough to form under easy circumstances, let alone under challenging ones. Take New Year resolutions for example. Each year on the 1st of January, or some time soon after many people mentally prepare their “goal list” for the year. Generally it looks something like this:

  • lose weight in general (or the 25 kg of baby weight you gained from pregnancy)
  • get fit
  • be happier
  • reduce stress
  • get my energy back
  • sleep better
  • start a new business
  • cook only with whole foods (because all the preconception care you read about freaked you out about additives, also your friend who is a distributor for a multi-level-marketing health product company has freaked you out with all the nasty chemicals in cleaning products).
  • you want to create a journal about your journey as a mother,
  • make green smoothies each morning
  • start a daily gratitude diary or maybe a happiness jar.
  • start that regular meditation practice in the morning. Or yoga. Or maybe both.
  • try the new mediation colouring-in.
  • catch up  reading all the books you’ve accumulated over the last year and not read yet.
  • more “together” time with your partner
  • start a herb and veggie garden.
  • shop at the farmers market each week.
  • clear the clutter in the spare room or shed. Or both.
  • Save 10k for house renovations or a holiday. Or both.
  • Go on a date night with hubby once a month. Or week.

Not all these resolvers or resolutions are destined for success.  Some, sadly are destined for failure. If you’re wondering how you can tell, I’ve put together 5 reasons why some resolutions are more likely to fail than thrive.

1: You’re not ready to make that resolution yet.

Most of the resolutions on the list above require time and commitment to get underway. Generally one of the things which helps to make a new habit and lifestyle change is consistency. But there are certain times in your life where you just don’t have the extra time and energy or consistency in your schedule to commit to creating a new habit. For example, if you’ve just had a baby. Newborns have “routines” (and I use the word very loosely) that can change daily. My daughter didn’t have a regular day time schedule until she was 2.5. Despite our best efforts, we aimed for a consistent bed time and a consistent time to put her down for a nap during the day but beyond that, how long she slept varied. At one stage while I was studying to make the best of her day time nap which was 1 hour at best we decided to get a dishwasher so I could spend that after noon nap time studying instead of doing the lunch dishes. Two days later, my daughter started sleeping for 20 minutes and not re-settling. So bye bye study time. Things got even trickier when we had our son (the kids are 14 months apart) and while my daughter didn’t sleep through the day, my son didn’t sleep longer than 3 hours at all. Day  or night. And 3 hours was the longest sleep. We were both so exhausted and it was hard to build new things into our “routine” because there wasn’t really one. Afternoon playdates were discouraged because we had no idea how long the nap was going to go for (if it happened).

What about if you don’t have kids? What else could mean its not the right time? Well if you already have a massive commitment in your life eg. planning a long over seas holiday, a health crisis you’re in the middle of testing for, planning renovations on your house, changing jobs, or you’ve just started full time study while working full time, the chances are that these things will eventually cut in to the time you’d chiseled out for the new habit (eg. exercise or meditation) that you didn’t really want to do, you just felt like you should be doing it because hey – everyone knows that exercise and meditation are good for you. Right?

Reason 2: You’ve got too many resolutions

How does your new year resolution list look? Like this? FullSizeRender(4) or like this?



Having too many resolutions is a sure fire way to stress yourself out and sabotage your efforts. Changing habits and your lifestyle takes time, energy, focus and commitment. That’s why I try to limit the amount of “homework” I give my clients after a consult. Because based on my experience, when people are given more than 3 things to change at a time, the changes don’t tend to stick. It’s fine if they’ve got a sprint mindset – they can change everything for 2 weeks, but maintaining it over the course of a year or ten – much less common and much less successful. This is because change is paradoxically really hard and really easy (I’ll talk about this more in Reason 3: You’re focusing on the wrong thing). So while you can have more than one resolution (or goal) to achieve in a year, the secret to success is to try to focus on incorporating one at a time (and don’t bring in the next goal until you’ve got the first one down). Also trying to focus on too many goals (resolutions) at once is a lot like multi-tasking. After my personal experience with the crazy busy last few years I think Marie Forleo said it best in one of her videos: “Multi-tasking makes you fat and bald. Don’t do it.”

Reason 3: You’re focusing on the wrong thing

It’s funny, one of the reasons I left medical research to study naturopathy was because I wanted to help the whole person (and not just work with their fat cells), and to work in a more holistic way. But over the last 10 years since I started studying and since graduating, I’ve noticed a trend toward a strong focus on the biochemistry, molecular biology and pharmacology side of food and herbal medicine. Now I have 2 problems with this and I think it actually reflects the global problem we are having with obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease and other serious health concerns. I think people are focusing on the wrong thing. It’s a bit like missing the wood for the trees.

I believe some of the nutritional research being done today is redundant. It’s like it’s being done to find out what is the least we can do rather than finding a way to help people do what we already know works. We already know we should be eating more vegetables, whole foods including whole grains, legumes, nuts and seeds, drinking less or no alcohol or coffee, get enough sleep and do regular physical activity. If we cut out a lot of the crap and just began doing these things more, we’d reduce a lot of the need for some of the current research. People don’t need 10 million grams of nutraceutical “x” to reduce their risk of heart disease if they stop eating the crisps, soft drinks and takeaway pizza and burgers each day. It seems completely ridiculous to spend time on research to find out how much of neutraceutical x you need on top of a crap diet to reduce your risk of heart disease. Just cut out the crap. It’s not rocket science! (it’s nutrition!)  The other kind of research that confuses people are the kinds which have people focusing on the ideal proportion of macronutrients (fats vs carbs vs protein) instead of just getting people to eat food. What we already know from research: eat more veggies, fruit and wholegrains, seeds, nuts and legumes. Drink enough water, get enough sleep, exercise. So if you’re busy counting carbs – just bear in mind that while a low carb diet may help you lose weight – weight loss doesn’t necessarily always reflect good health.

Another reason practitioners in general might discuss the biochemistry side of things more nowadays is because of the belief that information helps to motivate people. But considering people still smoke, even though they know it’s bad for them, don’t exercise – even though they know it’s good for them, and still eat junk food – even though they know it’s bad for them we should probably re-visit this logic. While it might help a few people change their habits, there are many people it’s not enough to motivate actual change for. Also it’s not enough to just ‘know” the biochemistry about nutrition and health, you actually have to implement it. But it’s a lot harder because people don’t want to change their diet and lifestyle habits so instead they keep focussing on learning more rather than doing what they already know.

Reason 4: You’re basing your resolution on the wrong information in the first place.

You might have noticed there are a lot of experts online. It’s been my experience though that a lot of people don’t know how to weigh the information from the various “experts” (or how to tell if someone is actually an expert in more than their marketing). It’s not so much about being an academic snob, but more about actually understanding where your information is coming from and who your information is coming from. So when it comes to advice the information from a real expert (with academic education and years of clinical experience outweighs the enthusiast with personal experience only every single time.

Why  is that? Because when you’re an enthusiast, you only have an “n” of 1 to base your experience on. Also because you’ve never undergone any formal study your understanding of certain principles has never been objectively tested (think of it like teaching yourself a foreign language from a book. You might have the pronunciation wrong and in some languages that can make a big difference between what you think you’re reading hearing and saying and what you are relaying).  Academic education alone isn’t enough either to be a “real expert” because as you find when you move into clinic – there is the text book situation (eg. all women menstruate on day 14 of their 28 day cycle) and then there is real life. Where you see women who haven’t had a cycle in over a year, women who have 22 day cycles, and so many variations in between, women with delayed ovulation, women with luteal phase defects. So many different variations).

So following the wrong kind of advice might be hinging all your efforts on making green smoothies or cutting out gluten for weight loss, without realising that cutting out gluten doesn’t necessarily promote weight loss. Neither does adding coconut oil to everything.

Reason 5 Your goal is too vague

How on earth do you measure “happiness”. Some people will tell you money can’t buy it, others will tell you they get it from eating their favourite chocolate, or spending time with their loved ones. So if “being happier” is one of your goals this year or “being a better person” or “being a better parent, child, sibling, partner or friend” then take another look at that goal and ask yourself how you could actually achieve it and know that you’ve achieved it.

For example to be happier might be achieved by doing more things that make you feel happier through the year, like going to the movies with your partner, cooking a veggie roast with Glenys’ red wine reduction each Sunday or simply catching the sunset at the beach in summer. Reducing stress means looking at what is causing stress – eg. perhaps it’s being surrounded by clutter, perhaps it’s not knowing when your bills are due, perhaps it’s someone in your life creating drama, and so reducing stress might look a bit like tidying your desk, and writing on your calendar when your bills are due, or spending more time with people who don’t stress you out. If being a better parent was on the list, what would make you feel like you are being a better parent? Is it spending more quality 1:1 time with your kids? Having a cleaner house? Cooking more home cooked meals? What is it for you? If it’s spending more 1:1 time, then how are you going to achieve this practically? Are you going to get some scooters and go scooting with the kids after school? Or read them a longer story at bed time? Perhaps spend some time in the morning playing “mothers” with your daughter with her baby doll? Try to find some actions you can attach to the vague goal that you can record.

Final thoughts… for now

Out of all the reasons that resolutions and health goals fail number 5 and 2 are probably my “favourite” mostly because it demonstrates something which “should” be easy –  but people find it really really really tricky to integrate it in their life at all, let alone maintain it over the long term.  So I’ll share more of my thoughts on how to make this easier next week.

Did you resonate with this list? I’d love to hear what your biggest 3 goals you really want to achieve this year are and if you resonated with any of the 5 points when you’ve made resolutions previously.

Are you on the mailing list?  Getting healthy – and maintaining it over the long term is something which fascinates me and I’m on a mission to try to find ways to make this easier and more doable for people, so if you’re on that journey too and you’d like some company and fresh insights then enter your name and email address below and I’ll keep you in the loop:-)

The Calcium Consensus – How to minimise calcium losses

This is the final part in this calcium series, if you want to catch up – make sure you check out part 1. 35 Sources of calcium, part 2. Bioavailability, and part 3. The calcium controversy.

Now you are all caught up – let’s dive into part 4: The calcium consensus.

There are 3 broad categories of things that affect the calcium balance in your body:

  • The amount of calcium (and other nutrients which promote bone deposition) in the diet.
    • The type of calcium you’re eating
    • How well your body absorbs the nutrients (this depends on…)
      • The state of your gut (eg. Do you have something like celiac disease or some other food intolerance)
  • How many factors which promote excretion (loss of calcium) from the body are in your diet or lifestyle.
  • Your gender and age.

You can’t change your gender or your age. And we’ve discussed the controversies and point 1 previously both here and here. My preference when it comes to issues where there is some ambiguity about what to do is to go where there is a consensus eg. I ask the question: “what do all the people who disagree about … actually agree on?” and I take it from there. So when it comes to calcium, the common thing that the people who think you should supplement and the people who think you don’t need to supplement agree on are the things which enhance the absorption and or reduce absorption or increase excretion of calcium from the body.

These things are also more easy to identify.

From the sources I’ve researched the following factors are things which can influence calcium absorption and calcium losses.

calcium consensus2










You might notice the asterisk on the above table next to protein. Well, the protein thing is interesting. As far as I can gather from research it seems the main problem with protein is eating too much or not enough, so if you’re sticking to the RDI for protein you should be fine.

So what can you do to maximise your absorption and minimise your calcium losses?

The easiest things that you can change right now based on the above list is to:

  • avoid excessively salty foods in your diet (generally the most sodium in your diet is coming from eating out, junk foods, and packaged foods. The salt you sprinkle at the table is usually a relatively small amount of the total sodium in  your diet – so if you can minimise and cut down the salt you’re adding during cooking (sorry all the chef shows out there) and add a sprinkle at the table, you’ll be minimising the salt in your day.
  • reduce your caffeine intake (or even better- cut it out completely)
  • and reduce the phosphorus in your diet by taking the soft drinks out of your diet (if you want some good alternatives you could check out the ideas in this episode here).

In addition to the above, you can ensure you have good vitamin D levels (actually get this checked as just because you’re in the sun each day it doesn’t necessarily mean your levels will be right, especially if you follow the Slip Slop Slap guidelines). Also, make an effort to do some weight bearing exercise each day too as this can help with bone health and actively work toward reducing stress in your life. Now stress and stress reduction is a WHOLE separate discussion and as it’s something I’ve been thinking a lot about over the last few years (hello 2 kids in 2 years, completing study, starting a clinic, having my mother in law pass away and starting a web TV show… I feel diving into this topic is something that’s going to be relevant to more than a few people! So that wraps up our calcium discussion and our nutrients summaries for a little while (we’ll get back to these later in the year but there are some other things I want to chat about more before we come back to these) so expect a few more new discussions starting and coming your way soon if you’re on the newsletter list!


  • Davis,B., Melina, V. and Berry, R. (2010)Becoming Raw. The essential guide to raw vegan diets. Book Publishing Company, USA
  • Gropper, S., Smith, JL., Groff, JL. (2009) Advanced nutrition and human metabolism (international student edition)(5th Edn). Wordsworth, Cengage Learning USA.
  • Mangels, R., Messina, V. and Messina, M. (2011) The Dietician’s Guide to Vegetarian Diets: Issues and applications (4th Ed). Jones & Bartlett Learning USA.




The Calcium Controversy: To supplement or not…

This is the 3rd post in this calcium series, so if you want to catch the first 2 make sure you read this one and this one and then you’re all caught up! So now.. let’s get onto the calcium controversies – there are 2 main ones I’ve found and they are:

  • Whether you need to add extra calcium to your diet and
  • Whether you need dairy to get your calcium

Why does it matter?

Because wrong advice now isn’t something you’re going to find out about until later in your life. That’s why getting this right sooner rather than later– is important.

  • if you’re in your 30s you don’t want to miss out on the best bone density foundation years of your life,
  • if you are older, you want to reduce your losses to protect your independence and mobility as you age,
  • and if you’re pregnant or
  • taking care of the nutritional needs of kids you certainly don’t want to mess with their nutritional needs either.

So why does this controversy exist?

Well, I’m summarising the finding of research as discussed in my two my favourite text books for this matter (see reference list below):

  • There are studies which show that calcium intake isn’t protective against fractures
  • There are studies which indicate that calcium from dairy isn’t protective because the people eating the most dairy in the world also show the highest rate of osteoporosis.
  • There is a question about the actual bioavailability from calcium in the diet from various foods, not just in terms of the different types of calcium but also the efficiency of every ones intestines varies considerably as does the rate of excretion (the loss of calcium in your urine)
  • There is data which indicates that people from other countries don’t have the osteoporosis and hip fracture problems that countries like America and Australia do.
  • And there are researchers on both sides of the fence who disagree with each of these studies and findings.

NB, Defining what I mean by the term “Researcher”

When I use the word “researcher” I mean:

Scientists, doctors, dieticians, nutritionists, naturopaths or herbalists who conduct research which gets reviewed by other researchers. These academic researchers have in common a bachelor degree which includes basic sciences (biology, chemistry, biochemistry, physiology, molecular biology, etc.) followed by a research higher degree (eg. honours, masters and or PhD) and time spent in research (conducting research, writing papers, preparing literature reviews, attending conferences and presenting research at conferences).

The recommendations of the 2 main nutritional perspectives:

(1) Plant-based research and health professional recommendations

In the plant-based world there are various groups advocating different plant-based approaches for optimal health. The general consensus is that you can obtain enough calcium in your diet with a plant-based diet. Although there is some discussion about how much exactly is the amount you need to obtain from the diet. In terms of the RDI some vegan health care practitioners recommend eating fortified foods, while others believe that you don’t need to supplement, but can get enough calcium in your diet providing you’re eating enough calories (based on their interpretation of the research and looking at nutrition status in other countries in the world).

(2) Omnivorous health professional recommendations

In this group the recommendation is generally that you need to eat dairy in order to meet your daily calcium needs and if you don’t eat dairy you need to supplement and or consume fortified foods.

So what do you do?

Well if you have an allergy or an intolerance then it’s a no-brainer – clearly dairy is off the menu for you. (Although with an intolerance people have different amounts of the food they can cope with before their symptoms show up. There’s a good chance that this amount of food won’t be enough to meet the total dietary needs, so you need to look at other options).

But what about the people who don’t “have” to avoid it but “choose” to avoid it… eg. people who don’t have an intolerance or allergy but choose to avoid dairy for other health reasons (eg based on research demonstrating links between dairy and various health conditions) , and people like vegans who choose not to eat dairy due concerns for animal welfare?

What do they do?

Well I don’t have a clear answer for you.

My children and I have a dairy intolerance. While they can get away with the odd cupcake at a party, if we eat too much dairy we tend to get eczema flare ups and I find my kids tend to get tummy aches. But apart from cheese – which I don’t miss any more since finding some great plant-based options, I haven’t really eaten dairy since I was in high school because I just don’t like the smell or taste of milk, cream or ice cream).

So… from what I have read so far there is enough research to show that you aren’t doomed to a future of osteoporosis just because you follow a plant-based diet or can’t eat dairy (though bear in mind – if you eat junk food and don’t eat a lot of the whole foods that contain calcium and you don’t supplement  and there are some other factors in your diet and lifestyle (read the next post) then it’s unlikely you’re going to have adequate calcium in your diet and you could develop osteoporosis – and other health problems in the future) .

In our house – we buy a calcium enriched dairy free milk alternative. And each day we make an effort to eat a lot of whole foods which contain calcium (and other nutrients). I’ve tried supplementing in the past, but find I tolerate the fortified milk alternative better than the supplement – so that’s the current best solution in our lifestyle. Yours might be a different solution. If you make your own milk alternatives at home you could get an idea from this episode here on how to boost the calcium content of it

So what should you do? You should discuss this with your doctor and your qualified nutritional healthcare practitioner because there are a lot of factors that need to be taken into consideration:

  • Your particular health history (intolerances, tests you might have had – eg. bone mineral density etc. medications you might be taking etc.)
  • Your current health needs
  • Your age or life stage
  • and your current and past diet (what you eat and how much you eat)

Beyond the question of whether or not you should supplement – I think is a more important question – as there are 2 key parts to this calcium equation:

  1. What goes in (from diet, supplementation and the efficiency of your body to absorb that calcium which can be affected by the bioavailability of that calcium and the efficiency of your gut to absorb the calcium (or other nutrients) and the other issue-
  2. What goes out (calcium losses through excretion).

Rather thank focusing on the controversy – I prefer to look at the consensus. So next we talk about the calcium consensus which is how to reduce calcium losses and we’ll discuss that in the next post.



  • Davis,B., Melina, V. and Berry, R. (2010)Becoming Raw. The essential guide to raw vegan diets. Book Publishing Company, USA
  • Gropper, S., Smith, JL., Groff, JL. (2009) Advanced nutrition and human metabolism (international student edition)(5th Edn). Wordsworth, Cengage Learning USA.
  • Mangels, R., Messina, V. and Messina, M. (2011) The Dietician’s Guide to Vegetarian Diets: Issues and applications (4th Ed). Jones & Bartlett Learning USA.


Bioavailability, relative absorption and caclium

It’s been a little while since I began writing about nutrients on this blog as I’ve been busy with the kids, running a clinic and the biggest biggest project I’ve ever worked on in my life but finally I have some time to get back to this topic and so I thought I’d take this opportunity to finish off the story for those of you who have been patiently waiting:-)

So if you’re new here, you can catch up on the story here.

So what exactly is bioavailability? Bioavailability is the amount of a vitamin or mineral in a food that is actually taken up and able to be used by the body (Davis et al., 2010).

So if you want to picture this, I’ve got an analogy for you. Think of a car with child car seats installed. Say the car  technically can seat 5 adults, once you have 2 child-seats installed though, you can’t fit 5 adults anymore, only 3 as an adult can’t fit in child seat. In addition, having the car seat in makes it hard for the adult sitting in the back seat to get access to the middle seat as well. So in this example, the “bioavailability” (the bit you can use or that is accessible) is really only 3 adults.

Bioavailability is affected by a few things, when it comes to minerals in foods or supplements, they don’t usually exist in the free form, but generally in “complexes” where they are combined with other molecules eg. calcium with carbonate or phytate, an organic molecule which helps to bind minerals in plant based foods eg. in seeds, to hold the nutrients like a “bank” for when the seed is ready to grow – then certain things (like water) help to inactivate the phytate so it can release the minerals for germination.

When it comes to nutrition there are some things we can do to increase the bioavailability.

Such as:

  • Fermenting
  • Soaking
  • Cooking
  • Refining

While cooking and refining can help make minerals more bioavailable – the important thing to realise is that during cooking some of the vitamins are affected, and during refining, some of the inhibitors to absorption are lost as are some of the minerals.

To make matters more confusing there is also an issue of “relative bioavailability”. Meaning that because of the above factors (eg the “packaging” of the mineral) the mineral (in this case calcium) in different foods is absorbed differently. For example, you might have heard people say things like “cows milk has a lot of calcium in it but your body can’t do much with it” So while this is true, that the calcium in cows’ milk is less efficiently absorbed than the calcium in kale or broccoli, an important factor to realise is that for some people due to their age, taste buds or lifestyle, they might actually find it easier to eat say 50g of milk rather than 100g of kale.  A factor that is taken into account when dietary recommendations are considered. So be mindful when considering your diet that just because it is possible for someone to eat enough greens to get their calcium intake it doesn’t mean they actually do eat enough greens.

Putting this one more way, “consider your nutritional needs based on the lifestyle and diet you actually eat not the one you idealistically wish you did“.

So if you don’t actually eat broccoli, bok choy or kale – the relative absorption of the calcium in it is a moot point. Or if you eat it but only small amounts – then you still might not be meeting your nutritional needs. So you need to be a lot more mindful about the foods that you are eating given your own particular dietary needs and or choices.

So here is a little summary of the relative absorption of the amount of calcium found in various foods:

calcium bioavailability2






Another important factor when it comes to absorption – is the state of your gut. For example if you have food intolerances, then you’re going to be less efficient at absorbing nutrients as well, so it’s also an important factor to consider when looking at the amount of a food (or nutrient) in your diet and considering the topic of the next post – the calcium controversy about whether to supplement or not. In the mean time, if you have any questions about your own particular dietary needs, then you should discuss this with your doctor or appropriate nutritionally qualified health care professional.


  • Mangels, R., Messina, V. and Messina, M. (2011) The Dietician’s Guide to Vegetarian Diets: Issues and applications (4th Ed). Jones & Bartlett Learning USA.
  • Davis,B., Melina, V. and Berry, R. (2010) Becoming Raw. The essential guide to raw vegan diets. Book Publishing Company, USA
  • Gropper, S., Smith, JL., Groff, JL. (2009) Advanced nutrition and human metabolism (international student edition)(5th Edn). Wordsworth, Cengage Learning USA.

Musings about nutrition from a black and white photo challenge

My friend Sue tagged me  to be part of a 5 day black and white photo challenge. Prior to this, I hadn’t really taken many photos in black and white or added a black and white filter. I tend to be the type of person who sees all the shades of grey and colours in the spectrum. Anyway, this challenge brought with it some deeper musings about nutrition, memories and metamorphosis in the way I look at my work with plant-based nutriton and food intolerances.  Nutrition – especially when you deal with plant-based diets and food intolerances – isn’t black and white.

Memories: Day 1. This is a photo of my friend Karina’s microscope. Karina is another naturopath and she’s the co-creator of Bodhi Cleanse. 20 years ago I was doing a Bachelor of Science degree at Flinders University where I first learned how to use one of these. Later, after my degree while I was a higher degree candidate I also had part time work as a laboratory skills demonstrator to the new science students. So looking at this pic of Karina’s microscope brings back a lot of memories.

microscope b&w








Memories: Day 2: Back in my much-loved kitchen cooking some pumpkin soup for the family. I’ve been working on a HUGE project for the last 3 years. Ever since I created the Lisa White Naturopath facebook page and my original website, I have been working on this project. It’s almost time to share it with the world, but for now, this is where it all began. My lovely little kitchen. Creating some recipes for my kids and clients with food intolerances.









Musings: Day 3 Looking at nature up close is a bit like a Rorschach ink blot test. What do you see? I see 3 pairs of little feet all facing each other:-) I find Naturopathy is about 3 things. Looking at the details of my client’s lives, and then being able to step back and look at the big picture, and then lastly being able to see how all the bits fit together and which are the most important things to work on to help the client optimise their health.









Musings: Day 4. We love strawberries. Unfortunately they don’t always love my kids. I find if they have too many their behaviour goes a little wild. We did a low salicylate diet a few years ago and fortunately salicylates in general are not a problem for my kids, but in addition to our dairy intolerance, there are a few other “random” food reactions we have and these are one of them. Fortunately though, they’re intolerances rather than allergies so most of the time the kids still get to enjoy them, they just don’t eat loads of them and we mix them with other fruit. This is probably the only pic in the challenge that I think actually looks better in colour. But I love how the black and white makes it look abstract and more like a heart while the centre looks like the cross section of a blood vessel (or a rocket…. if you tilt your head to the left;-).

photo 3








Musings: Day 5. I’ve been thinking a lot about how things work. The mechanics of all the moving parts. And I just love this pic of my mums mouli. This one’s clocked up a lot of kilometres over the years:-) Mine’s somewhat shinier as (confession time) it’s never been used. Something I’m hoping to rectify over the next week:-)









Metamorphosis: It’s interesting, although these pictures are all black and white, I don’t think the answers to health and nutrition are. Especially when you’re dealing with food intolerances and plant-based diets. It’s taken me a little while to realise why I my diet doesn’t look like the textbook version of a typical plant-based diet that the experts I respect and look up to suggest.

It’s because there is no text book – not for the combinations of diet-styles and food intolerances I help people with. It’s not cookie -cutter or black and white.

It’s hard to have a purely plant-based diet when you react to foods like nuts, seeds, legumes, grains or vegetables.

It’s even harder when you react to more than one of these or combinations of various foods within each group.

Do you find it hard to find nutritional information or recipe books relevant to your dietary needs because of the combinations of food intolerances you have?

What combinations of food intolerances are you cooking for? Do you also follow a plant-based diet? I’d love to hear your thoughts, email me at or share your thoughts or experiences in the comments below. I want to create more resources for people like me, where there isn’t a text book for our diet style.



Thanks Sue from @suesownpics on instagram for tagging me in this challenge.




The importance of “making space” (and not filling it right back up again!)

I’ve been working through a challenge I set for myself at the beginning of spring – the Spring Pantry Challenge. The goal was to empty out a shelf of my pantry one at a time:

  • to remove the moths (which happen to love the whole foods I stock in there as much as I do. Little buggers!)
  • to tidy it all up – so I know what I have in there so I dont buy more (and waste it) unneccessarily
  • to save time when searching for things I thoguht I’d bought

Well, the simple little challenge became so much more.

It became a much bigger example of the challenges faced on a healthy journey when you’re trying to change your lifestyle (and diet) for the long term and so I thought I’d share some of those most important insights in a series here so you could apply them to your health journey too. Because as I say: “Getting healthy is one thing – maintaining it is another” and I am interested in the long term health journey.

So in this video I talk about “making space” and how important it is to be mindful of not immediately “filling it right back up again” – especially if you want long-lasting change.

Because too often I’ve heard the words “I dont know how this always gets so messy” or “I have no time!” (Sometimes its me saying them!) but then on looking closer, what I find is that although the person (or I) tidied out the shelf, or stopped doing something to make some free time, I was so unfortable with having that space – that I immediately filled it back up again with “stuff” either physical stuff (like more books on the book shelf;-) or things to do (books to write, videos to record, articles to research) thereby making me as busy as I was before.

So this video is a really special one. This stuff FASCINATES me. Over the years I’ve really come to realise that this “How to really change habits over the long term” (and all the other skills involved in the long term health journey) is more important than fancy biochemistry because all that knowledge in the world is completely useless if you are unable to actually apply it to your life every day for the long term.

SO enjoy the video!