Nicoise Salad

When we eat unhealthy foods, we know exactly what types of gastrointestinal symptoms to expect. The gas, bloating, cramps and other bathroom woes come as no surprise after an indulgent meal with a triple helping of overconsumption. But we often forget to consider the effects our food choices have on other bodily system, such as our brains.

Mental clarity is one of those things that often goes unappreciated until we have one of those frustrating days when feel as though we would lose our head if it wasn’t attached. But it’s important to understand that brain fog, mood swings and a decline in cognitive function can be a direct result of poor nutrition. In fact, the rapidly developing field of nutritional psychiatry, is finding promise in taking a nutritional approach in the prevention and treatment of mental health issues. 

Our brains work overtime, all day, everyday until death do us part. Weighing in at a mere 3 lbs, this hard working organ is responsible for burning approximately 20% of our daily caloric intake. If you expect it to work properly, you have to fuel it properly. So to help you support your little mastermind, I’ve created this super simple brain boosting Nicoise Salad. If you can hard-boil an egg, you’ve got all the skills needed to pull off this recipe. Even my junk-food junkie partner can tackle this one.

Here are a few reasons why your thinker is really going to love it:

Both tuna & eggs are great sources of complete proteins. They provide the body with the necessary amino acids for the production of neurotransmitters, the chemical messengers that send signals from one brain cell to another.

Egg yolks rank as one of the highest dietary sources of the important brain boosting nutrient, choline. It supports brain function by maintaining healthy cell membranes and as a precursor for the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, responsible for memory and concentration.

Tuna is also a great source of Omega 3 fatty acids, which are an essential component of cell membranes and play a vital role in cognitive function. If you want your brain to run like a well oiled machine, be sure to lubricate it with these beautiful healthy fats. 

This salad is a great combination of carbohydrates, fats, protein and is packed with nutrients thanks to all those vibrant colors. The best part: you can enjoy it in under 20 minutes and even make it ahead for fuss-free lunches.

Salad Nicoise
Serves 2
This super simple salad is a breeze to create and has some major brain boosting nutrients to keep you on top of your game. It's a perfect balance of carbohydrates, fats and protein to help you beat the mid-day slump.
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Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
10 min
Total Time
20 min
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
10 min
Total Time
20 min
  1. 1 head of romaine lettuce (or greens of choice)
  2. 1 handful of green beans (approx.20 beans)
  3. 2 eggs
  4. 1/2 cup shredded purple cabbage
  5. 10 cherry tomatoes, sliced
  6. 10 Olives
  7. 1/4 cup red onion, sliced
  8. 1 Can of Tuna (or salmon, anchovies, sardines)
For the dressing
  1. 2 Tbsp Olive oil
  2. 2 Tbsp Lemon Juice
  3. 1 Tbsp Dijon Mustard
  4. Pinch of salt & pepper to taste.
  1. In medium saucepan, bring 4 cups of water to a boil over high heat
  2. Add green beans and quickly blanche until tender (approx. 3 minutes)
  3. Remove green beans, run under cool water and set aside
  4. In the same pot, add eggs and reduce heat to medium-low
  5. Hard-boil eggs for 5-7 minutes (or longer to reach desired doneness)
  6. Once cooked, run eggs under cold water and set aside to cool
  7. Combine all other ingredients into a large salad bowl
  8. Once cooled, peel the eggs, slice into quarters and add to the bowl
For the Dressing
  1. Whisk all ingredients in a small bowl and drizzle over salad
  2. Enjoy!
Meghan Walker, ND

Women Gaming

Julie (not her real name) is mother of 2, community volunteer and a passionate supporter of local food initiatives. She recently came to see me because she was running into roadblocks managing her fatigue. She had been working with her medical doctor and specialists, but no one could uncover the “cause” of why she was feeling so run down. Admittedly, she felt like she was caught in a cycle on fatigue, anxiety and a sense of overwhelm. She felt ashamed of her fatigue and embarrassed by her anxiety. “I am a strong, intelligent women, with few, thankfully, real stressors in my life, why am I feeling this way?”

Julie’s story is not unique. Fatigue and anxiety are common complaints in my practice. For many, medication has become a common solution for managing the challenges of everyday life. While a pharmacological intervention may be required for some, the majority of patients in my practice are looking for an alternative solution. They aren’t looking to block the feeling of anxiety; they are looking for tools to overcome it.

Over the last twenty-five years, researchers have looked endlessly at tools to reduce the anxiety of children facing impending surgery. They have used medication, enabled parents to be present when kids are anesthetized and woken up – they have even let clowns accompany kids into the operating room. Not surprisingly, none of the interventions were particularly useful. What has proven effective at reducing pre and postoperative anxiety, was allowing kids to play handheld video games. Not only was the study successful, it showed that video games were in fact more successful at managing anxiety than the best available medications. The reason for this phenomenon is due to an effect called cognitive absorption. By focusing, intensely on something other than the impending surgery, patients avoided becoming upset or panicked.

Anxiety, like pain or cravings, works on the spotlight theory of attention – the more we focus on the problem, the worse it gets. Anxious thoughts fuel or perpetuate the physiological process and usually push the anxiety response from a place of assistance (think exam preparation) to a state of worry. Fear is a response to something that is actually going wrong (an important adaptive mechanism) whereas anxiety is a response to something that could go wrong. Video games were useful because they distracted the brain sufficiently that it shifted the spotlight and quelled the perpetuation of worry. In essence, the brain had better things to do than focus on potential (not real) outcomes.

Research has shown that game play can help to interrupt the cycle of anxiety because it breaks the cycle of attention. Even if we feel anxious while playing the game, we become too preoccupied to imagine the worst. Jane McGonical, the pioneer game creator and author of Super Better, not only cites the use of games for anxiety, but reviews the science behind the use of visual games like Candy Crush Saga for the reduction of cravings (promoting weight loss) and the use of Tetris for it’s ability to decrease the incidence of PTSD following exposure to traumatic events.

What fascinates me as a clinician is the emergence of new, and dare I say, fun tools, to combat a traditionally difficult and solitary set of symptoms. While cognitive behavioral therapy and other forms of mental health interventions are important clinical considerations, so too is the potential role of games.

What drives my work as a naturopathic doctor is ultimately helping people to build strong bodies and brains. I fundamentally believe that when people are well, they can change the world. Whether it is as a fully present parent, a CEO, teacher, aunt, uncle or community leader, we all have something to contribute – to leave behind. None of this is possible however if we are missing our health, and not just the absence of disease, but the mental and physical stamina to really fulfill our missions.

Julie recently returned to my office eager to share her success. Already quite active, our intervention included some work with her diet and vitamin D status, but most significantly, we added video games to her daily routine (20 minutes daily). She focused on games that required the use of strategy and that developed resilience. All in all, her energy improved and her anxiety waned. She is feeling like her old self again… albeit, with a slight skew towards the time she devotes daily to simply having fun.

My name is Heather Allen. I am a Holistic Nutritionist and I live with a junk food junkie.

Before my man and I shacked up, the phonebook was his cookbook, delivery drivers knew him by name and he had been living off pizza and takeout for almost half the time Stephen Harper was Prime minister.

I cook the majority of our meals because I love cooking! But there are some nights when I get home late, the last thing I want to do is whip up a healthy dinner when there is already a piping hot pizza on my table thanks to my man’s ‘trigger happy’ delivery dialing fingers. So yes, his eating habits may throw my healthy lifestyle a curveball now and then, but living with my pizza loving, cheese and cracker snacking man has taught me some pretty valuable lessons.

So if your partner is derailing your health goals, keep in mind my 7 Tips for Staying Healthy While Living With a Junk Food Junkie:

1. Honour yourself  First and foremost, remember why you’re doing it. Maybe you want boundless energy to play with your kids and conquer the world or maybe you’re trying to shed a few pounds. Whatever it may be, keep the end goal in mind. Visualize how amazing it will be to reach your goal. How will you feel? How will it look? How will it change your life? Keeping these things in mind will help keep you strong when faced with temptation.

2. Express yourself Sit down and let them know why it’s so important that they support you. Let them in on what your goals are and why you’re doing it. Also, make your house a no junk zone and ask them to keep their junk food stashed at the office.  *Open communication is extremely important in relationships, so if the thought of sitting down and expressing your feelings with your loved one makes you queasy, there may be larger issues to explore beyond what is going on in the kitchen.

3. Find healthy version of their favourite foods  This is one of the best ways to inspire your junkie to align with your goals. My man’s favourite foods are pizza and Indian food. Turns out my veggie loaded cauliflower crust pizza and degreased chickpea chana masala can easily keep him from dialing for delivery. Win win.

4. Get promiscuous  If your partner isn’t giving you the support you need, find it somewhere else. Join an online community that aligns with your goals, shack up with a fitness group or ask your pals for a pat on the back to help you keep going.

5. Get cozy in the kitchen Cooking is a lot more fun and a whole lot quicker when done in pairs. Show off your ninja cooking skills with your partner and maybe, just maybe, some of it will rub off on them and you’ll be coming home to healthy meals in no time.

6. Gather recipes – I used to get so annoyed when I got home hours after my man and there was no dinner in sight. But I realized that he wouldn’t cook simply because he didn’t know what to cook. So I armed him with the resources to make it easy. I bookmarked some simple recipes in my favourite cookbooks and printed out a stack of recipe cards for him to turn to when it’s his turn to whip up dinner.

7. Get educated – I found that once I understood the mechanisms behind why processed foods are so bad for us, it was easier for me to turn them down. I can now watch my man chow down on a bag of Doritos containing neurotoxic MSG and ADHD triggering Red Dye 40 without slobbering like a fool. Knowledge is power.

So now that you’ve started sipping smoothies and eating kale & quinoa salads, you might think it’s nasty that they love cheese slices and sandwich meat. But if you’re trying to get them on board with your goals, choose the high road and offer solutions rather than casting judgment. Keep in mind that this was your choice, not theirs. Inspire them to change using positivity rather than create resistance through ridicule and always, always stay true to yourself.

Lyme Disease

Last January we travelled to the Caribbean with my husband’s family. After much discussion and debate, we ended up in Barbados. The beaches were lovely, golf courses plentiful, but most important to the consideration of location, incident rates of Malaria and the lesser known Chikungunya were tempered relative to other vacation hot spots. While both conditions are serious and require prompt and appropriate medical care, neither were stirring me away or towards particular beach destinations.  In short, I was just not that worked up about it. I saw it as a controlled risk, one I was willing to take for the sake of my mental health and the opportunity to spend time on the beach (likely is a sprayed area) with my children.

While easily perceived as simply naïve, my tempered concern related to Malaria and Chikungunya were contextualized to a more pressing fear, much closer to home; Lyme disease. It is debilitating, it is poorly diagnosed and it is endemic in Ontario. Forget the drama of tropical mosquito nets and the debate over DEET, understanding Lyme disease and your risk SHOULD be included your vacation conversations this summer.

Lyme disease is becoming more rampant in it’s typical breeding ground in the North Western US as well as Canada. CDC reports indicate that the incidence of Lyme disease have increased by over 320% since 1993. Lyme disease is carried in ticks that were traditionally preyed upon by white mice. With increased clear cutting and a warming climate in areas further north, the ticks travelled rapidly on the backs of dear and found themselves inhabiting the grassy fields prevalent in the northern US and Canada. Lyme disease is transferred to humans when we are bit by a tick carrying Lyme. Lyme infected ticks are in fact transferring a bacteria called Borrelia burgdorferi, a potent little bug with a propensity to hide and mimic other common conditions.

What are the symptoms how is it treated? Scenario 1

The symptoms associated with Lyme depend on who you ask. Many common resources will mention, fever, body-aches, malaise, headaches, fatigue and the famous bulls-eye rash. If you are lucky, these are the symptoms you will develop. Luck is paramount, because a classic presentation usually leads to prompt treatment. While more and more physicians will acknowledge Lyme, there remains a subgroup that still “believe” that Lyme is not a condition found in Canada. Oh dear!

What are the symptoms how is it treated? Scenario 2

The more common situation is that people are bit by a tick and don’t notice. Or, they are bit by a tick and don’t develop any classic symptomology. Some resources suggest that up to 40% of infections do NOT develop the bulls-eye rash. For many of my patients, Lyme did not become part of their medical team’s discussion until they had received a battery of tests, seen a plethora of physicians and had exhausted all other possibilities. These people, many of whom are my patients, were given anti-depressants and referred to psychiatrists for “psychosomatic stress disorders.” Many eventually resorted to US physicians for assistance. For these patients, the joint pain, muscle aches, headaches, lack of energy, cardiovascular symptoms, neurological manifestations and chronic illness had become debilitating. Most of these individuals were eventually helped through the assistance of progressive and comprehensive testing from US labs and treatment in US facilities. These expenses were paid for out of pocket.

So why is Lyme not be tested and treated effectively in Canada? Great question. Ontario’s (actually Canada’s) testing for Lyme looks for a very limited profile of Borrelia burgdorferi and is riddled with false-negatives. While “Lyme-Literate” physicians are aware of this shortcoming, many GPs are not. Early detection is critical and the system, as it stands now, is not equipped to detect or treat new cases of Lyme with any significant reliability.

How do I protect myself?

Ticks LOVE long grass and wooded areas – the kind you would lose your ball in on an average day of golfing. The young deer ticks that cause Lyme are most active from mid-May to mid-August and are roughly the size of a poppy seed.

Here is what you need to know:

  1. If you do need to be in the woods or grass, ensure you are wearing long pants.
  2. Check your body and those of your kids and pets EVERY time you come in from having been outside.
  3. Check you legs after sitting on the ground in areas with long grass or against stone walls.
  4. Tie you hair back when gardening.
  5. If you suspect you have a tick, seek the assistance of a walk-in clinic or your doctor as soon as possible.
  6. If you have been experiencing chronic, undiagnosed symptoms such as numbness and tingling, joint pain, headaches or other unexplained symptoms, it may be worth consulting a Lyme literate physician.

I am not a worrier. My last irrational encounter with worry was after seeing jaws – I convinced myself for years that there were great white sharks lurking in Lake Muskoka. While this fear was eventually tempered, the evidence related to Lyme disease is continuing to grow. It is worrisome, it is political and it is not going away. Canada has a “Lyme Strategy” that most experts feel is vastly inadequate to deal with the scope and severity of the disease.

This is not meant to temper your vacation or desire to frolic in the long summer grass. It is meant to provide an ounce of prevention and awareness for a condition that deserves our respect. Play with awareness and have fun with the full body scans.

Share your comments, feedback or questions below.

About a year ago a patient told me she was putting butter in her coffee every morning. My jaw dropped. I thought that was the worst idea I had ever heard. Fast-forward 12 months. Not only have I tried the latest craze of “Bulletproof” coffee, I thoroughly enjoy it and understand why people feel so great. (dear patient, insert smile here.)

Now, before you think that this ND has fallen off the rails, let me provide some background on what this craziness is all about. [WARNING: conventional butter haters will be crawling in your skin]. While historically demonized, saturated fats are becoming increasingly understood to play an important role in our hormonal and brain health. The more we understand about these fats, the more we realize that the biochemistry is not as simple as whether or not something is saturated. The source of the saturated fat (think avocado vs. bacon grease) has a profound effect on the stability of the oil and it’s performance in our body. Science and common sense will attest to this difference.

Bulletproof coffee came about after the inventor, Dave Asprey, observed a significant spike in cognitive performance and energy levels after having butter added to his tea while travelling. He investigated the science and came up with his own version of the traditional drink by adding GRASS-FED butter to organic, low-mold coffee. According to Asprey, “Grass-fed butter is much healthier than other butter.  It doesn’t make cholesterol levels worse, it optimizes them!  Starting your day with grass-fed butter will give you lots of energy and it will give your body healthy fats that it will use to make cell walls and hormones.”

While I frequently opt for coconut oil instead of grass fed butter, the effects and flavor are the same – delicious creamy coffee and hours of focused brainpower.

I have been so impressed and excited by the work of Dave Asprey that I have started to carry his coffee and oils here in Canada. You can learn more about everything at and order some of your own through the Shop on my website.

If you are intrigued to try some buttery coffee for yourself, you MUST use organic, grass-fed butter. The only place I know to access this is through Brookers Meats. Incidentally, Brooker’s has an excellent assortment of organic meat…. Delivered right to your door.

Intrigued? Here are a few guidelines to keep in mind.

  1. Do not have buttered coffee daily if you are currently being treated for high cholesterol. Let’s talk about your unique case first.
  2. Do not drink caffeinated coffee if you are pregnancy (I feel like this should be obvious by now.)
  3. Do not drink buttered coffee and an additional large breakfast. A green smoothie will likely suffice, if you choose to have anything else at all. There are a lot of calories in the coffee, for many people, this is all they have.
  4. Do, have a small amount of protein (almond butter, cheese, nuts, etc) before having any coffee. It helps with blood sugar management.

Still scared? I’ve got lots of other options to help get you up and focused throughout the day. Stay tuned… more great brain powered options are coming in the weeks ahead.

Sleep is a big topic. For those who do it poorly, there is a critical awareness of the frustration and stress that can be caused by a bought of insomnia. In stark contrast, there are those who achieve a weird sense of accomplishment for surviving on as little sleep as possible. Regardless of the cause, as North Americans, we are sleeping 20% less than we were 40 years ago.  At either end of the spectrum, you need to fix your problem and you need to fix it fast.

Lack of healthy sleep (by choice, insomnia or a new baby) will wreak havoc on your system. It is a source of stress in an of itself and will directly contribute towards weight gain, inadequate focus, low-grade chronic inflammation and poor insulin sensitivity (pre-diabetes), among other things.

Sleep itself is complex. In fact, we are not yet certain of all of the functionality that sleep facilitates for the body. We do know, that more important than the total hours you sleep, is the depth and quality of your sleep’s cyclicity. For those who “need” 8-10 hours of sleep, or who sleep for that long and never feel refreshed, it is less likely that you need more sleep and more likely that you are someone who poorly cycles within they sleep you do get.

These 10 sleep hacks address both sleep depth and cycles:

  1. Lock out light. All light – real or artificial will interfere with your ability to produce Melatonin. Melatonin production shuts down when light hits the back of the retina. Use blackout curtains or a facemask and avoid, if possible, turning on the light when you get up to pee.
  2. Lose the phone. Increasing research suggests that Wi-Fi can impact brainwaves and most definitely, the associated light will disrupt your sleep. Err on the side of caution and move your cell phone away from your head at night. Before cell phones there were these amazing little devices called alarm clocks, get one (without a bright interface).
  3. Clenching? My holistic dentist, Dana Coulson, is obsessed with jaw clenchers. She is convinced that half of the insomnia we see in practice is due to consummate teeth clenchers. Stress and anxiety will only worsen this problem. Check in with your dentist or ask your partner if you are grinding your teeth at night.
  4. Lose technology before bed. Stop watching TV, checking Instagram or responding to email right before bed. All of these activities excite your sympathetic (fight or flight) component of your nervous system. This part of your nervous system was meant to keep you alive in face of roaming sabre tooth tigers. No one sleeps well with roaming tigers. Turn off technology.
  5. 1 tbsp of flax oil – One of the reasons people often wake up or are roused at night is due to dropping blood sugar. Try taking 1 tbsp of flax seed oil before you head to bed. It will help to stabilize blood sugar levels throughout the night (and hopefully prevent some night grazing).
  6. Create Routine – the opposite of your sympathetic nervous system is your parasympathetic nervous system, responsible for rest and repair. Creating a consistent bedtime routine will start to trigger parasympathetic dominance before your head hits the pillow. Tea, candles and a great novel (not self-help) are an excellent way to start.
  7. Supplementation – some, but not all people benefit from some gentle supplementation to help with sleep. Melatonin is a favourite of travellers or occasional insomniacs. It is important that your supplement of choice be treating the cause of the problem. If this is something you want to look at, we should sit down to discuss. As a word of caution, if you have a history of night terrors, melatonin has been known to make them worse.
  8. Exercise – no one goes to bed at night saying ‘I wish I hadn’t exercised today,’ and for good reason. Exercise has been shown to increase the depth and quality of sleep cyclicity. If you are a poor sleeper and not exercising, you are in for a real treat when you start moving your body.
  9. Magnesium – this incredible little mineral is masterful at helping the body to relax. Safe for everyone, taking some non-addictive magnesium before bed is an extremely helpful addition to your evening routine. Start with 250mg.
  10. Meditation – No, I am not talking about an hour each day in a silent lotus position. Research has shown that as little as 3 minutes of guided meditation daily can assist with the quality and depth of your sleep. Think you may need a little extra help. Check out the cool new meditation device, The Muse. It provides biofeedback to help you maintain your focus. Headspace is another great meditation training App that I frequently use with my patients.

Good sleep means good brain function, but it is not the whole picture. If you are interested in learning more about brain health and mental clarity, join me for a free webinar next Thursday, May 7th at 8pm.

People want to know how to be healthier, not through supplementation, but through lifestyle choices, am I right?

There is a time and place to push one’s physiology in a certain direction, to stop a disease process or override inflammation, but once we have those things under control, it is nice to coast a little bit – to reinforce the positive changes we have made with lifestyle choices that support optimal health.

My goal for everyone I work with is to optimize their performance. We are striving towards a goal that has one waking refreshed, eating without pain and thinking with clarity. Achieving this state does not require endless supplements, it requires consistent work. This past weekend I spent Saturday afternoon in a Kombucha making class. It was amazing. For those of you not familiar, Kombucha it is fermented black or green tea. Fermented foods, produced with the assistance of bacteria and yeast, are incredible for helping to maintain the normal healthy state of one’s microbiome (good bacteria in their body). Examples of fermented food include tempeh, kimchi and sauerkraut. For those looking to reduce their probiotic budget, or support their investment, fermented foods are an excellent choice.

In the spirit of healthy lifestyle choices, aka, doing it without supplements, I wanted to invite you to two upcoming opportunities.

Fitbit Community.

As many of you know I have a mild obsession with technology. With wearable devices available at reasonable rates, there are ample opportunities to begin to make movement more fun and accountable. For those of you who may be thinking of or using a Fitbit to track your steps and exercise, I have started an online Fitbit community, to help hold us accountable to one another. This group is open to everyone and accessible through the Fitbit Dashboard. (So far I am walking the least of anyone in the group. I need to get a move-on.)

Join our Fitbit Community.

Upcoming Webinar

I will be hosting an upcoming Webinar on May 7th called Banishing Brain fog…. Forever. This webinar is completely FREE and will serve as a lead-up to my up-coming May Detox… called Clarity Cleanse. (More on this next week)

Brain Fog or lack of mental clarity is a significant challenge to managing life and performing at your highest capacity. Whether you are a new mom or a busy executive, your lifestyle choices are either helping or hampering your symptoms. This FREE webinar will focus on:

The top 5 foods that contribute to brain fog
The best nutrition for optimal brain functionality
Lifestyle hacks to optimize focus and energy
Strategic supplementation to optimize your creative genius

May 7th, 8pm EST

Count Me In. I totally want to banish brain fog

I look forward to hearing about your adventures with Kombucha, watching you start to move with your Fitbit and joining us on May 7th for the Banishing Brain fog webinar.


There is something incredibly cruel about a naturopathic doctor who removes chocolate from someones diet just before Easter. Who would do such a thing. Have no fear my chocolate and sugar free friends…. my good friend and Holistic Nutritionist extraordinaire, Jesse Lane, has come to the rescue. Jesse originally introduced me to this recipe at Christmas time when we were filing an episode of Bright Almond TV. It is addictive and it can be modified for any season and occasion based on your preferred toppings. The best part – there is no sugar!

Carob Bark aka [Healthy] Candy Craving Bark

3/4 cup candy cane bits (or walnuts or whatever you want)

3/4 cup carob powder

2 Tbs Lacuma powder (you can leave this out. It is just a way to increase the vitamin C content)

1/8tsp stevia (the stevia should be raw or green. It will taste soon much better)

1/2 – 3/4 C Coconut oil (melted)

5-10 drops peppermint extract


1. Line a brownie pan with parchment paper

2. Mix carob, lacuna and stevia

3. Add peppermint oil (don’t include if you are using peppermint or candy cane pieces)

4. Add coconut oil

5. Top with candy canes, walnuts or your whatever

6. Freeze for 2 hours.

Store in the refrigerator.

You life will never be the same.

Apr 01

Digital Detox

Digital Detox

This cleanse is really the easiest thing I have ever done. I chose to do it while I was on vacation with my family, but it is equally amenable to a cooler, snowier climate. It helped me shed pounds, increase my focus and re-invigorate my passion for career and family. Do you want in?

Here is the general overview of a typical “cleanse” day. Following water and a quick workout, we ate breakfast, had a coffee and structured our day around the beach, lunch, and our children’s napping schedules. In the afternoon we sat by the pool, drank blender-based libations and read, real books, on paper. This routine repeated itself for a little over a week.

Given that all goods cleansing systems have acquired a name, I have called mine, Control-Alt-Delete. My beach cleanse was not defined by a deprivation of calories, it was hallmarked by the removal of technology. I unplugged. For up to 4 days at a time, I ignored email, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. I didn’t respond to texts and I pretended voicemail didn’t exist. At first it felt weird. I was a little bit light headed. As my body acclimatized to the change in mental demands, my brain became creative and my legs were inspired to get up and actually move. It was an incredible feeling.

The epidemic of sitting and screen time is not benign. According to a 2012 study in the Archives for Internal Medicine, occupational sitting is correlated to an increase in “all cause mortality.” In other words, the more time you spend in front of a screen, the higher your chances of dying from any or all forms of chronic disease. Just as most of us would think better of smoking in front of our children, turning off your phone and spending face-to-face time with your kids could be life changing for both of you.

Despite our consistent efforts to discredit the inconvenient association between children’s screen time and the development of obesity, metabolic syndrome and diabetes, the evidence suggests that all of these preventable diseases are highly correlated to children’s engagement with technology.

Regardless of the genre of your cleanse, the motivation to “start fresh” or re-set your lifestyle habits is profoundly impactful. The evidence around juice, coffee and whole-food cleansing is limited. The purported benefits however, may have more to do with the capacity to induce behavior change than to re-orient physiological processes. In their review of habit formation and lifestyle behavior change, the British Journal of General Practice noted that lifestyle changes (which includes screen time by the way), requires the pairing of behavior change with external cues. A simple example would be using the toilet and then washing your hands. In my own practice, the removal of unhealthy foods paired with the sense of motivation of having completed “the cleanse” nearly always leads to an increased desire to exercise or honor the body in a physical way. Physicality reinforces the sense of success and the juice and or food detox not only felt successful, it was successful in realigning the set point for healthy choices.

We each need to define the lifestyle habit that most significantly interrupts our capacity for healthy decision making. For me, a naturopathic doctor running a start-up, it was indeed the technology that needed the boot. So while my beach-inspired tech cleanse lacks the objective metrics to redefine public health policy, it has already inspired our family to limit our engagement with email, social media and television when we are hanging out together. Control – Alt – Delete, true to its name, has served as a critical re-orientation of my focus on family, physical movement and my career. Look out juice cleanses, I think I’m onto something.

So I was really hoping to kick the year off with something incredibly motivational, but instead, I want to send along something more pressing, a flu protection protocol. My patients and my family are falling victim to a nasty stomach flu that is circulating throughout North America and the GTA in particular. It appears to be indiscriminate to those who have received or not received the flu shot and my advice is relevant to everyone.

For everyone, including kids, I am recommending the following.


  1. Multi-strain probiotic (i.e more than just acidophilus). Take one with at least 25billion CFU
  1. Vitamin D – 2000i.u daily until spring. If you get sick, increase to 6000-8000i.u daily for up to 5 days.
  1. General immune support. I generally recommend Deep Immune (made by St. Francis Herb Farm). Follow the directions on the bottle. You can take this for up to 6 weeks.


  1. Multi-strain probiotic (kid version). Take one with at least 10billion CFU
  1. Vitamin D – 400-500i.u daily. If they get sick, increase to 1000-2000i.u daily for up to 5 days.
  1. General immune support. I generally recommend Deep Immune for Kids  (made by St. Francis Herb Farm). Follow the directions on the bottle. You can take this for up to 6 weeks.

If you get sick, pick up a bottle of Saccharomyces boulardii. This is a probiotic designed specifically for loose bowel movements. It works really well. For kids, open a capsule and dip the tip of a banana in it or put on yogurt (but generally avoid dairy with digestive upset).

Everything should be available at a local health food store or via my online apothecary. (passphrase: inspiredwell)

Welcome to 2015! It can only get better from here.

Wishing you happiness and good health for 2015.