Crown Point, IN

September 28, 2023

Why You Can’t Stop Eating Junk Food

“Who ate all these chips?!” You look around and, alas, not even a dog to blame. Oops. It’s not your fault.  If you’ve had this experience—r

September 21, 2023

Harvesting the Balance of Autumn

September 23rd ushers in the autumn equinox, a time when day and night are in perfect balance. It also opens the official season of cozy sweaters, pum

September 14, 2023

More Brain-Boosting Foods

Last week I shared a list of brain-boosting foods with the promise of more to come. Here are some additional foods that you may choose to include in y

September 7, 2023

Ten Brain-Boosting Foods

Thank you for the many recommendations of farm stands with tasty corn on the cob. Mr. Non-Compliant happened to be in the vicinity of VanDerGriends Fa

August 31, 2023

Mr. Non-Compliant’s Unwavering Passion for…Corn

Mr. Non-Compliant LOVES corn on the cob. Since the corn season is rather brief, I do my best to oblige him with this indulgence. And as my dear cousin

August 24, 2023

Tips for a Sluggish Thyroid

Lately, I’ve been getting lots of questions about the little gland known as the thyroid. It seems to be underperforming for many of you. Hypothyroid

August 17, 2023

Healthy Anytime Toast

Since my encounter with bar food last week, I’ve been focused on eating more plants. I came across this idea to enjoy “toast” and get more veggi

August 10, 2023

Confessions from The Antler

What does one eat when in a bar? Bar food, of course. The bar options: The Brown Bear vs. The Antler: Horniest Bar Around (There were deer heads with

August 3, 2023

6 Ways to Enjoy a Staycation at Home

August. Already. Is summer slipping by too quickly? Feel as though you’ve not experienced enough lazy days? Can’t manage to get away for one reaso

July 26, 2023

The Wonder of Apricots

When I think about the abundant fruits of summer, apricots make the list. Although some of you may not be fans, I ask that you consider giving this da

Six Tips to Make Gardening Easy and Fun

Depending on where you live, it may be time to plant a garden.

We are now frost free in Northwest Indiana. Allegedly.

We’ll see…

The rule of green thumbs around here is that it’s safe to plant after Mother’s Day. 

Grateful for the warm days of late and hoping that the sun sticks around.

Whether you have a green thumb or not, a generous area to plant a garden or only a patio, are a seasoned gardener or a rookie, here are a few tips to help inspire you and cheer you on to gardening greatness.

Tip #1

Gardening is supposed to be fun and relaxing. If any of these ideas cause you to cringe because it’s “one more thing to do,” then become good buddies with someone who always grows too many tomatoes and cucumbers. You’ll enjoy fresh produce without the stress. Or visit your local farmers market.

Tip #2

If you’re new to gardening and aren’t sure what to plant, consider growing a few herbs in containers. Fresh herbs add a delicious twist to salads, dressings, and recipes. They’re easy and attractive. Common herbs to grow: basil, parsley, rosemary, cilantro, chives, thyme, sage, mint (this one spreads and comes back every year, so it’s a good idea to only grow it in a pot).

 Tip #3

Seeds take several weeks to get off to a good start. Serious gardeners plant seeds indoors in the early spring so that they can move the plants to the soil once it’s warm. If that’s not you (it’s not me either) plant seedlings from a garden center that are already big enough to distinguish from the weeds.

Tip #4

Choose vegetables that you enjoy eating and maybe one that you are not familiar with. Last year I grew okra for the first time and was fascinated by the way the vegetable grew from a beautiful flower. Remember to get your hands in the dirt to promote a diverse gut microbiome. (We need good “bugs” in our intestinal tract.)

 Tip #5

Good container vegetables include tomatoes, peas, potatoes, zucchini and squash, lettuce and salad greens, peppers, cucumbers, radishes, arugula, eggplant. Of course, these will also do well in a garden bed. Full sun (6-8 hours of direct sunlight) is recommended for most herbs, vegetables, and fruits. 

Tip #6

Doing is better than perfect. When we lived on the farm, my dad planted a HUGE garden and to my recollection, it was always garden magazine worthy. My garden is not that way. It makes me happy and it’s “good enough.” Garden your way, whether you have an acre of vegetables planted—or one patio container with a tomato plant.

Having fresh food just outside your door is a healthy treat. Enjoy this beautiful time of year, weeds, and all.

Much love,
Health Coach Carol

 “There are no gardening mistakes, only experiments.” – Janet Kilburn Phillips

What the Heck Do I Eat?

With all the conflicting information on what to eat, what not to eat, and how to eat it, this is what I know for sure.

Foods that are healthy for you may not be so healthy for your friend. Or vice versa.

The tricky part is figuring out the “best way to eat” plan for you.

I’ve spent some time studying the role our genes play in this, and it’s fascinating stuff.

It’s also rather complicated.

Add in your personal gut microbiome, current health status, taste preferences, and it gets even more interesting. (“Interesting” is code for “Are you kidding me?”)

For example, fermented foods, such as sauerkraut, yogurt, kimchi, and kombucha, are good to add to the diet for increasing diversity of the “good bugs” in our intestinal tract. 

This is true for lots of people. However, there are folks with a genetic makeup or food sensitivity that do not tolerate them.

Have you ever wondered why some people can drink one cup of coffee and be like the Energizer Bunny, and others can go to sleep after consuming a pot?

Some of this may be due to a caffeine tolerance/addiction. Conversely, some people carry a gene that indicates that they are slow caffeine metabolizers.

I bet we all have loved ones who think that they can handle lots of coffee, yet they probably don’t handle it as well as they’d like to believe. A few names come to mind here… 🙂

Nuts and seeds are good for some, not for others.

Same goes for dairy, grains, and even spinach.

An aside: Foods high in oxalate (spinach is such a food) may contribute to certain types of kidney stones in susceptible individuals. They may do well to be mindful of high oxalate foods and eat smaller amounts. The downside is that these are nutritionally dense foods, and to eliminate them completely kicks out lots of benefits.

Genes can even indicate if you would feel better eating more fat, carbs, or protein. People who thrive on a higher fat intake are probably the Keto lovers.

It’s complicated.

At any rate, as I’ve stated in previous posts, one way of eating is not right for everyone. I am even more convinced of this today. 

As I experiment on myself to figure this out, Mr. Non-Compliant has suggested that I go on the show “Naked and Afraid.”

He thinks I would at least be able to find water, and perhaps a gluten-free, dairy-free, egg-free branch to gnaw on.

He’s a prize. I’m not doing it.

Instead, I’m working my way through a course to better understand how genetics add a missing puzzle piece to living our best life. (I may one day offer this as another service to help my clients.) It’s a better use of my time than hunting in the wild, getting sunburn, and driving a complete stranger crazy.

Besides, he’d go off the rails with his non-compliant eating if I were gone for 3 weeks.

Cheers to the great mysteries of life,
Health Coach Carol

“As with most preferences, health risks, and genetic traits, there are many complex, interrelated factors. There is almost never one single gene that inevitably leads to a given result.”—”Genetics: The Universe Within”

What to Do When Your Healthy Habits Go by the Wayside

It happens.

To everyone.

You do well week after week. You have a regular exercise program, a meal and snack plan that provides good energy and sleep, and the stress level feels tolerable.

Even your social scene is just right.

Then, the bottom falls out.   

A loved one gets sick, you lose your job, your gym closes, the world feels like it’s falling apart—or at least your world.

The stability you had in your life vanished due to one or more circumstances beyond your control. 


And with the loss of stability went all your good habits. You lose focus. You lose drive. There’s no motivation around to bring you back.

Your days are suddenly filled with frequent drive-thru meals, few or no workout days, poor sleep, and more anxiety than peace.

Here’s the good news: You’re not broken.

Rather, your foundation of sleep, stress management, and recovery skills may not be strong enough to support your nutrition and fitness.

Solution: Make a list of some (5-minute) activities you could do in your week to make you feel as though you’re taking positive steps for your health.

The simpler, the better. Like, set out a glass to remind you to have a drink of water in the morning.

Or, set your sneakers by the front door to help you remember to take a 5-minute walk.

Choose one of them to get started. Do that thing. Then choose another. Build on your bright spots. Remember that this is about progression, not perfection. It’s not an all or none sport.

Allow your ACTION to drive your behavior, rather than waiting for motivation to kick in.

Here’s a Bright Spots Tracker to help you.

Celebrate every win. When we feel good about what we are accomplishing, we tend to draw more of that into our lives, despite what the world unexpectedly throws in our path. 

Need a little help? Email me and we’ll work out a plan together.

Cheers to you,
Health Coach Carol

“Right now, only THIS moment matters. Every single day, every hour, even every minute, you can wipe the slate clean and move forward.”—Krista Scott-Dixon

Dirt is Good

Last week I wrote about Forest Bathing—immersing yourself in nature and using all your senses to benefit your health in every way.

This week, I’m heading outdoors to play in the dirt.

Dirt is good. Keep reading to learn WHY.

Your gut houses at least 70% of your immune system. It is loaded (hopefully) with good bacteria (bugs) to fight off disease.

It may also (probably) be home to some bad bacteria.   

All the bacteria in your gut are known as the microbiome.

Any imbalance, whether too few good or too many bad, is not ideal. Gut disturbances can lead to a variety of issues such as allergies, autoimmune diseases, mood disorders, brain fog, weight issues, arthritis, dementia, cancer, and pretty much any undesirable health condition.

Gut imbalances may be caused from:

  1. Poor diet
  2. Medication overuse
  3. Infections
  4. Toxic overload
  5. Inadequate digestive enzymes
  6. Stress

The process of determining the current state of your gut health requires testing to learn which bacteria are out of normal range. Specific treatment is based on the results.

If you’re not feeling quite up to par, or are experiencing some chronic health conditions, testing may be a path you’d like to pursue. (If this is you, let me know and I’ll refer you to a gut health expert.)

In the meantime, here are some ways you can begin TODAY to improve your gut health. (Maybe choose ONE to start.)

  1. Get in the garden. Put your hands in the dirt instead of always wearing gloves. This will help improve the diversity in your microbiome. We’ve gotten a bit crazy with antibacterial soaps and hand sanitizers. It’s good to play in the dirt. No pesticides.
  2. Vary your diet, eat whole foods, and add a new fruit or vegetable each week.
  3. Find a way to relax, especially when enjoying your food.
  4. Exercise—in moderation. Too much is as problematic as too little.
  5. Get plenty of sleep.
  6. Take time to de-stress.
  7. Kick out added sugar and processed foods.
  8. Get your carbohydrates from vegetables and fruits instead of pasta, bread, and sweets.

I’m working on improving my microbiome as I write. This week I’ve been eating dandelion greens. They have a slightly bitter taste; however, the health benefits include improved digestion, increased bone density, body detoxifier, reduced inflammation.

And no, I did not pick them from my yard. I went foraging at Whole Foods. No chemicals allowed on the greens.

Add dandelion greens to a salad, sauté or braise them, add to soups, stews, or smoothies.

Have fun feeding your “good” bugs this week!

Much love,
Health Coach Carol

“All Disease begins in the gut.”—Hippocrates