Top 5 healthy eating challenges

by: Ali B, RD

After discussing weight loss and eating patterns with hundreds of clients and patients over the past few years, I have found that there are many common obstacles to success. It is easier to plan ways to be successful with dieting if you can identify challenges you may run into.


Parties/special occasions. Unfortunately, many social gatherings revolve around food and drink. Whether you are at a restaurant for happy hour or a friend’s BBQ, you are likely to run into some food challenges. What can you do to prevent a total disaster? Plan ahead, of course! Here are some of my favorite tips/tricks:

  • Eat before you leave for the event. If you arrive on an empty stomach you’re more likely to eat whatever is convenient and sounds good which, let’s be honest, is never the best choice. If you eat before you leave you are more likely to make wiser decisions when it comes to food.
  • If it’s appropriate, bring an appetizer or side dish. This way, you will have at least one healthy option you can depend on for the evening.
  • Monitor your alcohol intake. It’s no secret that alcohol is full of calories and bad decisions :). Think about it, the more you drink the more likely you are to eat greasy food or go back for seconds.
  • Exercise before heading out the door. Having a healthy relationship with food means realizing you aren’t going to eat “perfectly” all the time. If you are trying to lose weight and know there will be healthy eating challenges in the future, burn some of those expected calories at the gym before you get to the event.


Accountability. This is probably the #1 reason people make appointments with me. They know what to do and how to do it, but they have no one to keep them accountable so their good intentions fall through the cracks. I find that people are more successful when they create a weekly goal and check in with someone every three days to report on their progress towards that goal. So find a buddy, have regular appointments with a dietitian, or use social media to help keep you on track.


Stress and lack of sleep. For most of us, stress is hard to avoid. Unfortunately, stress can lead to weight retention (or gain) due to the hormones it causes our bodies to release. In addition, when we are stressed we tend to choose unhealthy convenience foods. A side effect of being stressed out is skimping on the amount of sleep we get each night. Not getting enough sleep causes a decrease in metabolism (AKA fewer calories burnt during the day). Here are a few tips for managing stress and improving your sleep habits.

  • Find something that relaxes you. For some people, it’s meditating and yoga, for others it’s journaling. When I’m stressed, a 15-minute walk and well-crafted to-do list takes all my worries away.
  • Perfect the art of meal prep. When you have healthy food prepared in your refrigerator/freezer, you are more likely to choose good options when you are tired and stressed out. Don’t have time to make your own food? Look for a meal delivery company like Feed Your Vitality to prepare healthy food and deliver it to your home.
  • Cortisol is one of the hormones our bodies release when we are stressed. Read here for 7 ways to reduce cortisol and get your weight loss moving in the right direction.
  • Establish a routine. If you are able to predict what your day is going to look like you will be less stressed about what is coming, and may even create a normal bed time. Start out by writing down what you think each day will look like, and then live it out!


Slow results. A lot of people lose motivation when the pounds are coming off more slowly than expected. I always like to remind people that the number on the scale is not important. Do your pants fit better? Is it less challenging to walk up the stairs to your office? Is it easier to get out of bed in the morning? There are many more ways to measure your quality of life and overall health than your weight. Pay attention to some other parameters and keep up the good work! Your weight will follow suit.


Lack of time. If you are a parent, work too many hours, have a busy social life, or all of the above you may find it difficult to eat healthy and/or exercise. I always like to remind people of their priorities. If your health begins to suffer you may not be able to keep up with all of these demands.

  • Put meal prep and workouts on your calendar, and stick to them like any other meeting. I personally like to plan all my workouts and cooking times at the beginning of the week and fill in the rest of my schedule around it.
  • Utilize some of your spare time. If you only have 30 minutes one evening to cook, use that time to chop vegetables and prepare marinades. Use 45 minutes the next evening to get food in the oven. Put meals together if you have 20 minutes before work.
  • Use your time with loved ones to cook delicious meals. My girlfriends and I have recently gotten into the habit of cooking dinner before going out for the weekend. I always throw in some extra veggies and protein so I can put them in containers and have some food for the beginning of the following week. When you can get your kids involved in mixing sauces and seasoning foods, they not only have a blast but enjoy eating the final product a bit more (win-win).
  • Check out this blog post for other ways I stay healthy when I’m crazy busy.


Learning to identify your “problem” areas and creating a plan in advance can help you on your road to success. Are there any other obstacles that get in the way of your healthy eating?


Let’s Talk About Salt

by: Ali Brown, RD, LD

Salt is a substance made of 40% sodium and 60% chloride. It has been around for thousands of years and and has been used for much more than flavoring food.

At one time, salt was so valuable that Ancient Greeks used it as a form of currency. In fact, the word salary comes from the Latin phrase salarium argentum, meaning “salt money”.

Salt was used for preserving food before canning, freezing, and refrigeration became common practice.

Salt has received a bad reputation over the past decade, due to its correlation with high blood pressure. However, sodium plays an important role in our bodies and we simply can’t live without it. The mineral is used to maintain proper fluid balance, regulate blood pressure, and make muscles (including the heart) relax.


The 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Healthy Americans advise individuals to eat no more than 2300 mg of sodium, or approximately 1 tsp of salt, each day. People who are at risk for heart disease and hypertension have further restrictions and are recommended to eat less than 1500 mg per day. Unfortunately, the average intake is about 3400 mg (almost 50% more than the recommendation).

So where is all this sodium coming from? Only 5-10% of sodium comes out of your salt shaker at home. Approximately 10% is found naturally in food. The rest is added to food during processing. Sodium can be found in foods that aren’t as obvious as pretzels and popcorn. You can find it in bread, pasta, canned foods, lunch meat, and sauces. For example, 1 teaspoon of hot sauce has 190 mg of sodium. While that doesn’t sound like a lot, consider this. Using 1/2 cup of the same hot sauce contributes 4560 mg of sodium to your diet – almost double the daily recommendation! An easy solution for this is to make your own dips and sauces. See my favorite hot sauce recipe below.

DIY Hot Sauce


  • 18 fresh cayenne or jalapeno peppers
  • 1-1/2 cups vinegar
  • 2 tsp minced garlic


  1. Remove the ends and seeds of the peppers
  2. Put all ingredients in a saucepan over medium-high heat until boiling. Reduce heat and allow to simmer for 25 minutes.
  3. Move the ingredients to a food processor and pulse until smooth.
  4. Add back to the saucepan and simmer for 15 minutes.


Tips for reducing intake

  • Eat more fresh foods and less processed foods. Processed foods have salt added to them to extend their shelf life.
  • Drain and rinse canned foods whenever possible. This can reduce the sodium content of foods by more than 40%.
  • Stay away from low-fat products. When food manufacturers take fat out of a food, they look for other ways to make it taste good. This usually means adding salt or sugar.
  • Taste your food BEFORE using the salt shaker. A lot of people put salt on their food before knowing whether it needs it or not. Often times, food tastes just fine without the added sodium.
  • Read food labels! Products can have a wide variety of sodium levels in them. For example, crackers can have anywhere from 25 to 270 mg of sodium per serving. Find products with less sodium to keep on hand.
  • Use herbs and spices to season your food. I cannot talk enough about this! You can grow your own herbs at home, which are pretty to look at, freshen up your food, and make cooking a little more fun. Fill your spice rack with a variety of spices – and use them! Not only can you make food taste great without adding salt, but you can completely change the flavors of a dish that may have been getting boring. See below for my favorite spice blend and marinade.

Savory Spice Blend

  • 2-1/2 Tbsp paprika
  • 1 Tbsp kosher salt
  • 2 Tbsp garlic powder
  • 1 Tbsp pepper
  • 1 Tbsp onion powder
  • 1 Tbsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 Tbsp oregano
  • 1 Tbsp thyme

Lemon Pepper Marinade

  • 1 Tbsp lemon zest
  • 3 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 3 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp minced garlic
  • 1 Tbsp cracked black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt

Nutrition Coaching

If you have ever had a conversation with Feed Your Vitality owner, Ashley Nanney, you likely know that our priority is to assist individuals in their journey to better health. We like to do that in any way possible, the most common being meal preparation and delivery. We have seen many successes from our customers including, but not limited to, weight loss, disease management, and improved energy.


cover-jpgWe strive to support people even when they choose to do their own cooking (more power to you!). For years we have offered cooking demonstrations, tips and tricks classes, and cookbooks to help you be successful at home. Another option for customers is one-on-one nutrition coaching services. Nutrition coaching is one of our most recent services and is perfect for people looking for guidance and support in reaching their goals. Our registered dietitian, Ali, sits down with each client and gets to know them through a behavior analysis, nutrition assessment, and food record. After learning more about the person, she identifies barriers to their success and creates an individualized plan to reach health goals. Follow-up visits are all about assessing progress, identifying challenges, adjusting goals, and diving deeper into the health journey.

64b8709e0ba1c2bcc06e34ea1eb0edb1Ali is currently finishing her master’s degree in nutrition and exercise science at Southeast Missouri State University. Her specialties include weight loss, food allergies, and eating disorders. Some of Ali’s major successes include a 25-pound weight loss, elimination of diabetes medication, and decreased social anxiety when it comes to eating in public.

If you think nutrition coaching could be right for you, feel free to reach out to us using the information below!

Phone: 314-910-3324

How to choose a nutrition supplement

by: Ali B, RD

It seems like everyone I talk to these days is taking a supplement of some type, whether it be a multivitamin, protein supplement, or omega-3. Talking about it with people can make you second guess whether you too need the supplement or if you are fine without it. Here are some general guidelines that can assist in choosing the right supplement for you.


Decide if you need it. I always laugh when I talk to athletes who want to start taking a protein supplement. A 170-pound athlete needs approximately 90 grams of protein per day (more or less depending on their sport). This amount of protein is high for the average person and can be met by consuming 6 ounces of chicken, 3 eggs, 1 cup of milk, and 2 tablespoons of peanut butter. It is not unrealistic for someone to eat this much protein a day, eliminating the need for supplementation.

A general rule of thumb: if you can get nutrients through food, do it! If you are having trouble with that, consider supplementing.


Determine the supplement safety. Supplements are strange products because they are not regulated by the FDA like food is. Because of this, supplement manufacturers are not held accountable for the ingredients and safety of supplements (yikes!). To learn more about that, watch this John Oliver video that explains some flaws of the supplement industry. I like to look up supplements at, the Public Health & Safety Organization’s website. They analyze supplements to ensure the claims on the bottles are true and that all ingredients inside the container are listed on the label. If these requirements are met, the product will receive an NSF safety certification. Their website is easy to use – you can search for a supplement (e.g. “probiotic”), and the website will list their certified products.


Talk to your doctor. This is especially important if you have a medical condition or prescription. Some supplements may have side effects that can worsen your condition, while others may alter the effectiveness of certain medications. If you have an upcoming surgery or dental procedure, make sure to disclose that you are taking a supplement when you schedule the appointment –you may be asked to stop taking the product for 1-3 weeks prior to prevent side effects like excessive bleeding.


Is there a maximum dose? While rare, some nutrients can cause negative side effects when used in excess. For example, large amounts of omega-3 fatty acids are linked to colon cancer, vitamin A deficiency (think poor eye health), and vitamin D deficiency (weakened calcium absorption). Unless recommended by your doctor, never take more than the manufacturer’s recommended dose.

Healthier chili recipe

by: Ali B, RD

In my house, chili is a hearty comfort food consumed in the fall and winter months. While chili isn’t necessarily bad for you, some bowls can add up to over 700 calories after toppings are added. While working with clients who are following detox diets we found that chili can be part of a healthy diet!

A few tips for keeping your chili “lean” include:

  • Watching your toppings: high-fat toppings like sour cream and cheese should be limited (or avoided if you can’t resist the temptation). There are plenty of other add-ins that can bring variety to your chili. Check out a few of our favorites here.
  • Choose a lean meat: at Feed Your Vitality we use 97% lean ground beef. Choose the leanest meat you can find at the store, or make sure to remove the fat from your pan before using.
  • Cut carbs: you can GREATLY reduce the carb content in your chili by eliminating the beans. We often have customers tell us that they don’t even miss the beans in our hearty chili.

Here is a basic chili recipe that has 165 calories per serving and can be eaten even on the most strict phases of diet plans.


Chili Con Carne

Yield: 4 servings


  • 1 pound lean ground beef (97/3 if possible)
  • 1/4 cup chopped onion
  • 1 Tablespoon + 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 Tablespoon + 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 6 cups diced tomatoes with juice (canned tomatoes are fine to use, just make sure there is no sugar added)
  • salt and pepper, to taste


  1. Brown beef with onions and spices over medium-high heat.
    Tip: if you do not have lean meat, brown the meat in a separate pan and drain before adding to onions.
  2. Reduce heat to medium, add tomatoes, and mix thoroughly.
  3. Simmer for 1 hour and adjust seasonings to taste.

Again, for more variety try including some of our favorite add-ins, listed here. Foods that are incorporated into the dish can be added with the tomatoes to simmer. Toppings should be added when the chili is served.


Smoky Butternut Chili – includes butternut squash, green chilies, and smoked paprika. Topped with green onion.


Turkey Chili – made with lean ground turkey instead of beef. Incorporates sweet potato, roasted poblano peppers, roasted red peppers, lime juice, and Mexican seasoning.

Sweet treats you can enjoy on a paleo diet

by: Ali B, RD, LD

If you’re anything like me, your sweet tooth will never be a thing of the past. At least once (or twice, or three times) a week I get a craving for something sweet. My typical go-to is a piece of fruit, but sometimes that just doesn’t do the trick. I’m a pretty lazy cook, so it took me a while to find sweet snacks that are quick and easy to make. Here are 6 of my favorite paleo-friendly sweet treats.


Dessert bullet. I refer to my dessert bullet multiple times a week in conversation and use it nearly as much. If you don’t know what a dessert bullet is, check out our blog post explaining it. A simple banana with a little vanilla extract has been my staple lately and has stopped the urge to drive through Dairy Queen on multiple occasions. I think my favorite part is that it requires no preparation. All you need is a bag of frozen fruit (which I keep on hand anyway) and the machine.untitled


Baked apples. Before we get too far, let me disclose that this is a Feed Your Vitality recipe from the SHAPE/hCG line. The photo below is borrowed from FYV, and an official recipe can be found in Ashley Nanney’s “SHAPE ReClaimed: Simple Recipes for Phase 1”. I make this regularly at home when I’m wishing for something “apple pie-esque”, but I truly can’t make it taste as delicious as the team at FYV.


All you need is an apple, cinnamon, stevia, apple pie spice, and orange juice. FYV also uses cloves and cinnamon sticks, but I don’t typically have those on hand at home.

All you need to do is cut the apple in half and remove the core. In a small bowl mix about 1/4 cup orange juice, cinnamon, apple pie spice, and stevia to taste. Top the apple with the mixture, wrap in foil, and bake at 350 F for 10-15 minutes.

A variation of this includes cutting the apple into small chunks, marinading with the orange juice and seasonings, and topping with Nut Thins (or any other gluten-free/dairy-free cracker) before baking. This adds a great crunch to the dessert. The apple can also be replaced with a grapefruit, peach, or any other fruit you desire.


Muffin in a jar. This is a delicious and EASY dessert to make when you are craving a cake or muffin. Simply get a coffee mug and mix together 1/4 cup flaxseed, 1/2 tsp baking powder, 2 Tbsp stevia (powder), 1 tsp cinnamon, 1 egg, 1 tsp applesauce, and 1/4 cup of your favorite fruit (I chose peaches). Once the ingredients are thoroughly mixed, put the mug in the microwave for 1 minute. Be careful when you take the muffin out of the microwave because it will probably be hot. Let it sit for 1 minute and enjoy!untitled


Substitute sugar for anti-inflammatory sweeteners. 
One way I squash my sweet tooth in the winter is by adding honey to hot tea. (Plus, drinking tea is much better when you have a cute tea infuser like this one).

You can also swap out sugar in your classic recipes for one of these paleo-friendly sweeteners and use almond flour in place of all-purpose flour!


Smoothies or “milkshakes”. This is another time when keeping frozen fruit handy can help with your sweet tooth. Make a smoothie by blending together frozen fruit and almond milk. (Tip: add carrots for a sweet serving of veggies). I’ve also created a faux-milkshake by mixing frozen strawberries, almond milk, and a bit of coconut milk. The coconut milk gives the shake a creamy texture, similar to what ice cream would provide. untitled



20170131_142149Larabars. Yep, the pre-packaged energy bar is both paleo-friendly and satisfying. Their ingredients include dates, almonds, and whatever ingredients needed for each flavor. For example, the apple pie Larabar has dates, almonds, apples, walnuts, raisins, and cinnamon. The banana bread Larabar has almonds, dates, and bananas. Individual Larabars can be expensive (more than $1 each), but I just found a box of 18 at Sam’s for $5.50.


Do you have any other “sweet staples” that are good for those following a paleo diet? Leave suggestions in the comments below!


52 anti-inflammatory diet tips

by: Ali B, RD, LD

Anyone starting a paleo/anti-inflammatory diet can tell you that it’s not easy work. Since we opened six years ago, Feed Your Vitality has had a mission to help you reach your health goals in any way possible. If you follow us on social media, you may have noticed that our new year’s resolution for 2016 was to post 1 anti-inflammatory diet tip each week for the whole year. It took a little work, but we were successful! Here’s a compilation of all 52 tips:

  1. Don’t let yourself get hungry. It’s no secret that we tend to make poor food decisions on an empty stomach. Eat regular meals and keep snacks on hand everywhere you are – almonds in your car, fruit on your desk, chopped veggies in your fridge, and pumpkin seeds in your bag. When you stay full on good, healthy food you are more likely to be successful.
  2. Spice up your life! Food tastes much better when seasoned properly. Not only that but adding new spices to meals will add some variety to dishes that may have been getting repetitive.
  3. Never skip breakfast. Your mother always told you that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Research has shown that people who eat breakfast tend to eat fewer calories and fat during the day than those who opt out of a morning meal. If you are rushed for time try making breakfast the night before or having a Feed Your Vitality meal on your way to work. Check out this blog post for breakfast ideas for when you’re on the run.
  4. Try new recipes. There’s nothing better than finding a recipe you’ve never tried before! You can find thousands of anti-inflammatory recipes online. Try something new once a month to keep yourself excited to eat healthy food.
  5. Make adaptations to menu items so they fit your meal requirements. We know hat it’s impossible to eat every meal at home. Plan ahead and find substitutions that can be made so that going out doesn’t have to be a setback. Here are a few suggestions:
    1. Take the bun and cheese off your sandwich and substitute broccoli for fries.
    2. Order an “unwich” at Jimmy Johns – your favorite sub held together by a lettuce wrap instead of bread.
  6. Don’t let setbacks ruin your progress. Mistakes are inevitable. Our advice: get over it ASAP! Don’t let one bad meal or snack ruin an otherwise healthy day (or week). Get back on track and make your next meal count.
  7. Embrace variety. The worst diet mistake people make is falling into a strict routine. Chicken and vegetables for dinner every night can get old pretty quickly, which can make falling into old habits easy and tempting. Add variety to your diet by preparing your food different ways, trying new recipes, or experimenting with a piece of produce you’re unfamiliar with.
  8. Don’t focus on the numbers. When you are eating healthy you usually expect to lose weight – and most of the time you will. Don’t get caught up on the scale. Your weight can fluctuate for dozens of reasons, and you shouldn’t get discouraged because you’re at a plateau or gained a few pounds. The important part is how you feel. Since you’ve started this lifestyle you probably notice that you have more energy, less gastrointestinal irritation, and fewer allergy symptoms.
  9. Remember why you started. We all know that following an anti-inflammatory diet can be challenging at times. But remember why you started in the first place. Make a list of reasons you began and a list of the benefits you have reaped. Keep these reasons handy, so that whenever you’re second-guessing yourself you have a reminder of how important this lifestyle is to you.
  10. Find a support system. Let someone know what you’re doing and why. Your loved ones will probably have questions, which may be irritating to explain over and over again. However, once people understand what you are up to, you will have a great group of people to share recipes and talk about your challenges with.
  11. Be mindful. When you eat, eat. Don’t watch TV, read a book, talk on the phone, or write an email. Pay attention to what you are eating. Notice the flavors. Look for cues that you are full, or acknowledge that you need more.
  12. Shop in the perimeter of the store. This is where all of the fresh, unprocessed food is stored. Though many processed foods are not allowed under anti-inflammatory guidelines, some are. However, we want to minimize our intake of those foods and focus on fresh protein and produce.
  13. Learn how to make anti-inflammatory baked goods. Let’s face it, we can’t completely get rid of a sweet tooth. Instead of eating inflammatory products, make your own anti-inflammatory ones! There are thousands of recipes online food cookies. cakes, muffins, and pastries that follow all of the anti-inflammatory guidelines. Check out our Living Apple Pie recipe here.
  14. Save money by growing your own food. If you have a small amount of land, or even a few pots, you can grow some of your own produce at home. Simply go to a local hardware store, nursery, or anywhere else that sells produce or seeds. Plant them in the ground or a pot, water them regularly and enjoy the end product.
  15. Be proactive. Be smart and plan ahead when it comes to what you are eating. If you know you are going to a social gathering, make your own appetizer or side dish that is anti-inflammatory. Here are some of our favorite “game day” dishes.
  16. Eat omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 fats help the body fight inflammation and reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke. Sources of omega-3 fatty acids include nut and fish oils, fatty fish, flax seed, chia seeds, pumpkin seeds, and canola oil.
  17. Read ingredient lists. You simply cannot know if a packaged food is allowed under anti-inflammatory guidelines unless you read the food label and ingredient list. Look for foods that are free of gluten, beans, soy, dairy, added sugars, and corn.
  18. Prepare your meals in advance. If you have a few hours free during the week or over the weekend, use that time to prepare your meals in advance. Grill multiple chicken breasts, prepare salads, boil eggs, cut vegetables, and do whatever else you can in advance. That way, when your week gets busy you will still have healthy meals available. Here is a guide to making 5 meals in 1 hour.
  19. Make popsicles. Summer months are perfect for a cold, sweet treat. Unfortunately, many popsicles and other frozen treats have ingredients that cause inflammation. Our solution? Make your own! Blend some fresh fruit and almond milk, put them into popsicle molds, and place them in the freezer overnight or until solid.
  20. Second-guess your condiments. Ketchup, BBQ sauce, mayonnaise, and other condiments are something we don’t usually give much thought to. However, most of these foods usually have gluten or added sugar as a filler. Check the labels on the condiments in your refrigerator. If yours have these ingredients, look for a brand that is anti-inflammatory or make your own!
  21. Add some variety to your beverages. Our bodies require a lot of water to function properly. Unfortunately, it can be difficult to drink the recommended amount. Try adding flavored Stevia to tap water, seltzer water, or club soda. Just make sure the carbonated beverages are free of added sugars and artificial sweeteners.
  22. Grow your own herbs. You can grow herbs in a pot in your home, on your patio, or in the ground. Their seeds can be purchased inexpensively and each plant produces much more than you can imagine. Use them fresh when you can. Before they go bad, freeze them in ice trays with olive oil. Transfer them to a plastic bag after they are frozen and use in your cooking all year.
  23. Eat your calcium. Dairy products can cause inflammation, making them restricted on an anti-inflammatory diet. It is important that we still get calcium in our diets to prevent osteoporosis. Food sources of calcium include almonds, kale, broccoli, molasses, salmon, figs, chia seeds, and collard greens. Get ideas for dairy-free calcium sources here.
  24. Do physical activity. It’s true that an anti-inflammatory diet reduces the risk of chronic disease. Unfortunately, that doesn’t give us a reason not to exercise. It is recommended that all adults get 150 minutes of physical activity each week.
  25. Know when to buy organically. Deciding when to purchase organic can be tricky! An organization called the Environmental Working Group put together a list of produce that typically contains the highest amounts of pesticides. These foods should be purchased organically whenever possible and include apples, celery, cherries, cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, grapes, nectarines, peaches, spinach, strawberries, sweet bell peppers, and tomatoes.
  26. Think outside the box. Use a zucchini boat instead of a taco shell to avoid the inflammatory properties of tortillas and provide your body with anti-oxidants found in the vegetable. Cut the zucchini in half and hollow it out with a spoon before filling it with ground meat, lettuce, salsa, and your other favorite toppings!
  27. Rethink the way you prepare vegetables. Butter and salt may make your veggies taste delicious, but this is not always the best preparation method. Try adding olive oil and lemon pepper or fresh herbs to your vegetables to reduce sodium and add healthy fats to your meal.
  28. Use social media as a tool. Over the years, social media’s impact on our lives has grown. Why not use it to your advantage? Follow pages that support the anti-inflammatory lifestyle, share great recipes, post photos of your favorite dishes, and share your success with others.
  29. Choose your booze wisely. Unless you have celiac disease, most liquors are allowed under anti-inflammatory guidelines because the distillation process removes the majority of gluten from the product. Make sure your mixers are low-calorie and do not contain added sugars. Good options include unsweetened tea, 100% fruit juice, or club soda. If this isn’t enough variety for you, use SweetLeaf Stevia drops mixed with seltzer water. Available flavors include cola, lemon, chocolate, orange, and root beer. Check out our gluten-free guide to alcohol.
  30. But also, drink in moderation. Just because alcohol is allowed under anti-inflammatory guidelines does not mean that you should be drinking large amounts of it. Not only does alcohol contain calories, but it may lead to over-consumption of poor food choices.
  31. Join a class. It can be difficult to stay on track with an exercise program. Keep yourself excited to workout by joining a group fitness class such as kickboxing, water aerobics, Zumba, or yoga.
  32. Keep frozen meals on hand. It’s no secret that life often gets in the way of our good intentions. Don’t let your busy schedule keep you from a healthy lifestyle. Keep a few healthy meals in your freezer so that you can stick to your diet even on the craziest of days.
  33. Question yourself. there are many reasons that we go to grab a snack. Sometimes we are bored, stressed, or just have a desire to eat. Before you take a bite, ask yourself why you are eating. Are you hungry? Or is your snacking just impulsive? If you find that you’re not actually hungry, opt for a glass of water, iced tea, or seltzer water.
  34. Fruit is nature’s dessert. We often think of fruit as only a snack item. Don’t forget that flavors can be manipulated to make a delicious dessert. Try cutting up a peach, topping it with chopped almonds, and putting it in the oven until golden-brown. Or slice an apple, top with cinnamon, and microwave for 45-seconds. Find out how to turn frozen fruit into delicious “ice cream” here.
  35. Bring your lunch. OK, this may make you feel like you’re taking a trip back to high school, but studies have shown that people who eat their lunch out of the office eat more calories and fat than those who bring their lunch.
  36. Stay hydrated. Water is an important part of your diet! It helps regulate your body temperature, flush out toxins, lubricate joints, and is a component of blood. Drinking enough water will ensure these functions are working, and will even fill you up (which may prevent over-eating).
  37. Focus on what you CAN have. Turns out there are a lot of foods that cause inflammation, which makes an anti-inflammatory diet seem pretty restrictive. Instead of focusing on what you can’t have, focus on what you can have. Make a list of your favorite foods that are part of an anti-inflammatory diet and eat them frequently.
  38. Make a list. Think about what your favorite anti-inflammatory dishes are. Got them? Write them down and put your list somewhere that can easily be found. Make these foods regularly! When you eat your favorite meals you feel satisfied, which can make you realize that this is not just a diet, but a lifestyle change.
  39. Go to the farmer’s market. There are many benefits of shopping at the farmer’s market including:
    1. You get to meet the people growing your food – some farmers will give discounts to loyal customers
    2. The prices are great
    3. You know your food is fresh
    4. It’s FUN
    5. You may end up eating food you never would have thought to buy before
  40. Buy a new cookbook. There’s a little bit of excitement that comes with getting something new, especially a cookbook. Try new recipes, get some insight from the author, and enjoy a delicious meal you’ve never had before. You can get our “30-Day Anti-Inflammatory Challenge” here.
  41. Host a dinner party. Going out with friends can be difficult, especially when you are sitting with someone who is not as dedicated to their health as you. Instead of going out, have your friends come over for dinner. Make your favorite anti-inflammatory meal and dessert!
  42. Utilize marinades. Marinating your food can be a simple way to add great flavors to a dish. One idea? Marinate diced chicken in a mixture of dijon mustard, lemon juice, thyme, salt, and pepper. Put the chicken on skewers with vegetables and put them on the grill.
  43. Catch some zzz’s. Lack of sleep is associated with hunger and weight gain. When we don’t get enough sleep, our hunger hormones get off-balanced. The hormone that makes us feel hungry is increased by as much as 15%, while the hormone that makes us feel satisfied is decreased by 15%.
  44. Don’t make it difficult. You can do things the hard way or the easy way. You have enough going on in your life – your food should be one of the easy things. Don’t spend time counting your calories or grams of fat. Instead, focus on what foods you are consuming. Strive to eat a variety of colorful, nutritious food. Check out these tips on how to sneak more veggies into your diet.
  45. Don’t use food as a reward. You absolutely need to recognize your accomplishments in life – big and small. Just use rewards other than food. Using food as a reward may be a trigger for overeating or making poor choices. Try treating yourself to a movie, going on a trip, or visiting a park with a loved one instead.
  46. Know your s***. Ok, so you follow an anti-inflammatory diet. Great job! Do you know why you eliminated grains, soy, dairy, corn, beans, and refined sugar? If not, you have some research to do! To be successful, you need to know what these foods can do to you and why you shouldn’t go back to eating them.
  47. It’s ok to adjust the diet. The purpose of the anti-inflammatory diet is to decrease inflammation throughout your body. It actually does a phenomenal job of doing so. However, it isn’t an all or nothing approach. If you simply can’t live without peanut butter, cheese, or sweet n low, that’s ok. Incorporate small amounts of these foods, but stay true to the rest of the guidelines.
  48. Be realistic. Don’t set unreasonable expectations for yourself. Just like you won’t gain 5 pounds overnight, you won’t lose them either. Unfortunately, it’s going to take some time to see results. If you are expecting weight loss and don’t see it right away, don’t beat yourself up.
  49. Tomorrow is a new day. Slip-ups are inevitable. Don’t beat yourself up over it. Remember that just like one great meal won’t make you thin, one bad meal won’t make you fat. Remember to drink water to help your body flush out toxins and get back on track as soon as possible.
  50. Find accountability. There are many ways to be held accountable for following through on your lifestyle plans. You can keep a food journal, enroll a friend or family member to ask about your progress, or join an online support group. Whatever your method, make sure you are held accountable for following through with your plans.
  51. Don’t deprive yourself. One of the signs that your diet is going to be successful is that is can adapt to your life. If you are constantly feeling deprived of your favorite foods, the likelihood of being able to follow anti-inflammatory guidelines for life is very small. To be more successful, try the 80/20 rule or personalize the guidelines to fit your needs.
  52. Eat more! Yep, you can EAT MORE while being on a diet. The top 10 anti-inflammatory foods that you should eat the most include:
    1. Almonds
    2. Blueberries
    3. Broccoli
    4. Brussels sprouts
    5. Flaxseed
    6. Green tea
    7. Herbs and spices
    8. Mushrooms
    9. Onions
    10. Salmon


Do you have any other tricks that keep you on track? Put them in the comments below.

How I made 5 meals in 1 hour

By: Ali Brown, RD, LD

One common thing people tell me is that having healthy, homemade meals is inconvenient and time-consuming. While this can be true, it doesn’t have to be! I want to share with you how I took 1 hour of my day, and had 5 healthy meals available for the week. You can certainly double what I did to make 10 meals, or quadruple it to have meals for your family.

Below you will see exact amounts for the ingredients that I used, but I want to stress that these amounts can be changed to accommodate your taste preferences and availability of foods. This menu is designed to be paleo-friendly, but you can easily add non-paleo items such as cheese and sour cream to accommodate your personal eating habits. I have made suggestions under each recipe for ways to make them approved for SHAPE ReClaimed.


  • 2 pounds ground meat of choice (the leaner the better)
  • 1 large piece of romaine
  • Spinach (2-1/4 cups, or use 2 cups of shredded cabbage)
  • Seasoning
    • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
    • 1 teaspoon onion powder
    • 2 teaspoons seasoned salt
    • 1 teaspoon pepper
    • 1 teaspoon cumin
    • 1 Tablespoon basil
    • 1 teaspoon crushed red peppers
  • 4 slices avocado
  • 1 cup diced onion
  • 1 zucchini
  • 1 whole + ½ cup diced bell pepper
  • ¾ cup diced tomato
  • 1 sweet potato
  • 1 jalapeno or about 5 canned jalapeno slices
  • 8 black olives
  • 1 cup tomato sauce
  • ½ cup salsa
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil


Let’s get started! We are making:

  1. Tacos
  2. Sloppy Joes
  3. Stuffed peppers
  4. Taco salad
  5. “Spaghetti”

A time-saving tip that will help here is to dice or cut all of your veggies when you bring them home from the store. This not only helps put these meals together quicker, but can also make grabbing veggies for a snack a lot easier.



The only protein source we are using is ground meat – I used beef, but you can use turkey, chicken, or pork if you prefer. I technically use 1-1/4 pounds of meat, but I am browning 2 pounds to make it easy. Once the meat is browned, add 1 cup of water, 1 teaspoon of garlic powder, 1 teaspoon onion powder, 2 teaspoons seasoned salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper.  Simmer the meat for about 10 minutes, or until most of the water is gone.

I bought 4 pounds of meat and set 2 aside to make a meatloaf. I put the meatloaf together while the meat was browning and it was in the oven while I was putting the meals together.



Not than any of these meals are difficult to put together, but this one may be the easiest to put together. Simply tear a large piece of romaine off the head and stuff it with meat, salsa, and whatever veggies you like best! I used 4oz ground meat, 1/4 cup diced tomato, 1/4 cup onion, 4 black olives, and 2 Tablespoons of salsa. For reheating purposes, it is best to store the meat in a separate container than the veggies.

Though romaine is a great substitute for a tortilla, you can also use a baked bell pepper or a napa cabbage wrap!

** To make this approved for SHAPE ReClaimed, omit the black olives and make sure the salsa is homemade or free of “natural flavors” and sugar.



Sloppy Joes

Step 1 in creating this meal is to make your ground meat “sloppy”. I do this by sautéing 1/4 cup of onion and 1/4 cup of bell pepper in 1/2 Tablespoon of olive oil until the onion is translucent. Add 1/2 cup tomato sauce and 1 teaspoon cumin until hot. Add 4oz ground beef to the mixture and let it simmer to soak up the sauce. Add more tomato sauce if you like yours a little more messy.

I serve sloppy joes inside a “baked” sweet potato. Since I’m lazy, I cook my potato in the microwave. There are great directions here but basically, all you need to do is wash your sweet potato, poke holes in it with a fork, wrap it in a wet paper towel, and microwave it for 6 minutes, flipping halfway through. If you have a big sweet potato you’ll need to microwave it for longer.

For reheating purposes, it is best to cut the sweet potato into smaller pieces (or mash it) before serving.

** To make this approved for SHAPE ReClaimed, sauté your veggies in chicken broth or balsamic vinegar. Omit the sweet potato and replace it with sautéed bell peppers, spiralized zucchini, or riced cauliflower.



Stuffed Peppers

Yum! One of my favorite dishes. Sauté 1/4 cup onion and a little bit of garlic in 1/2 Tablespoon of olive oil until the onion is translucent. On low heat mix in 1/4 cup diced tomato, 1/4 cup chopped spinach, 4 ounces of ground meat, and 1 Tablespoon of basil until hot. If you aren’t following paleo guidelines, brown rice or quinoa is a great addition to this mix.

Take the top off of the pepper and stuff the mixture inside (if you have too much filling, set it aside and serve with the pepper). Put the pepper in a 350 degree oven for 15 minutes.

Tip: If your pepper is too tall or wide for your storage container, cut it up and eat a slice with every bite of meat.

** To make this approved for SHAPE ReClaimed, sauté your onion in chicken broth or balsamic vinegar.



Taco Salad

Yet another easy recipe! Simply put 2 cups of washed spinach (or lettuce/cabbage of your choice) in a container. Top with 4 ounces of ground meat and your favorite veggies. I used 1/4 cup diced tomato, 1/4 cup onion, 2 slices of avocado, 4 black olives, 1/4 cup bell pepper, and 5 slices of canned jalapenos. Use ¼ cup (or more) of salsa as dressing. If you like a little crunch on your salad, add a few crushed nut thin crackers.

Tip: Store your meat in a separate container to make reheating easy!

** To make this approved for SHAPE ReClaimed, omit the black olive and avocado (depending on your practitioner recommendations).




Ah! A great classic recipe! Simply spiralize a zucchini (I got my spiralizer for $4.99 on Amazon) and heat in the microwave for 1 minute (2 minutes if you’re going to eat right away). Top with ½ cup tomato sauce, 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper, and 4 ounces of ground meat. If you’re going to eat this right away, heat up the tomato sauce and crushed red pepper in a pot.



So there you have it – 5 meals in about an hour! If you have more time, you can pull some of the meat aside prior to cooking and make a meatloaf, burgers, or meatballs!

Paleo “Potato” Salad

One thing many people (including myself) tend to miss when going paleo is potato salad. This is especially true during the summer months when “barbeque season” is in full swing. Last year, for Feed Your Vitality’s 4th of July Family Feast we had a great paleo-approved barbeque featuring “potato” salad made with turnips. We fed it to a group of employees, spouses, and kids – and it received a stamp of approval from all! Follow the recipe below to enjoy this “potato” salad at home.

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Paleo “Potato” Salad


  • 2-1/2 pounds turnips
  • 4 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1 Tablespoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons pepper
  • 1 Tablespoon minced garlic
  • 3/4 cup bacon crumbles (or 1/2 pound cooked and diced bacon)
  • 1/4 pound green onion


Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Peel turnips and cut into bite-sized pieces. Coat with 2 Tablespoons of olive oil and put into a baking dish. Bake until turnips become soft, approximately 30 minutes, mixing halfway through. Set aside to cool.

In a bowl, whisk together 2 Tablespoons olive oil, apple cider vinegar, honey, salt, pepper, and garlic. Once the ingredients are well mixed add bacon crumbles, cooled turnips, and green onion. Mix well and serve cold.

Best Paleo Breakfast Ideas for People on the Run

The hardest part of being paleo is breakfast. Growing up, I constantly ate cereal and milk, toast, or yogurt for breakfast. Then I learned about paleo. I love eggs, but scrambled eggs and omelets don’t give much of a variety when it comes to my favorite meal of the day. Not to mention, most of the time I’m in my car on the way to the gym or work when I need to eat breakfast. I had to sit down and do some serious brainstorming about what I could eat in the AM when I am in a hurry. Here are my favorites:


Banana and almond butter “sandwich”

I thought of this tasty breakfast during my running days. Nothing keeps you full during a workout quite like the delicious combination of banana and nut butter. All you have to do is cut a banana in half lengthwise, put a little almond butter on each half, and stick it back together. (Note: the more nut butter on the banana, the messier this breakfast is.)


Egg muffins

Yep. I just said I was sick of omelets and scrambled eggs. But these egg muffins are easy to eat in the car and are a simple way to pack veggies into your day.

All you need to do is whisk 12 eggs, salt, pepper, and about 1-1/2 cups of chopped veggies of choice (I like spinach, jalapenos, tomatoes, and onion) in a bowl. If you like your veggies more tender, sauté them in a pan with olive oil for about 3 minutes before adding to the mixture. Spray a large muffin tin with non-stick spray or olive oil, and fill the tins until they are ¾ of the way full. Put them in an oven that has been pre-heated to 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes, or until they are golden brown.

These can stay in your refrigerator for about a week. They are wonderful reheated in the microwave, but are also fine served cold if you are in a hurry!


Trail mix

This is the easiest breakfast ever! All you need to do is take a handful of almonds, a handful of cashews, half a handful of craisins, and half a handful of EnjoyLife brand chocolate chips and mix them together. You can put this together in the morning or the night before you want to eat it, or make a large batch at the beginning of the week. Feel free to change up the nuts and dried fruit to your favorites!


“Chicken salad”

Okay, this isn’t really a “breakfast” item… but anything you eat in the morning counts as breakfast, right? This chicken salad is quick and easy – all you need is leftover chicken, an avocado, and salsa!

Take a leftover chicken breast (or bake/grill/sauté one if you’re feeling ambitious) and shred it with a fork. Mix it into a mashed avocado and stir in some salsa for flavor.

Voila! You’ve made yourself breakfast in less than 5 minutes. When I’m in a hurry I like to put the combination into Tupperware or the avocado skins so I can eat it with a plastic spoon in the car




Feed Your Vitality Muffins

I always like to keep a few Feed Your Vitality muffins in my freezer. Not only are they delicious, but they defrost in the microwave in less than a minute. The variety of flavors are delicious and they are packed with 10-14 grams of protein, keeping me full all the way until lunch time (a difficult feat).


I also always keep Larabars and beef/turkey jerky on hand for when I’m in a hurry to get somewhere and barely have time to brush my teeth, much less make breakfast.


Do you have any breakfast items that you turn to when you’re in a hurry?