Madrona Nutrition and Fitness: Recipe and Nutrition Guide

Madrona Nutrition and Fitness:
Guide to Wellness through Holistic Diet
and Lifestyle

Rachel Fiske
Certified Holistic Nutrition Consultant,
Certified Personal Trainer

Monday, September 16, 2013

Response to NY Times Article: Breakfast or No Breakfast?

Last week while reading the news, I came across this New York Times article on the "breakfast myth." I'd encourage you to read it, but in summary, it discusses new studies/speculation coming out that the long held belief that eating breakfast promotes long term weight loss (or more successful weight management) is, in fact, a myth.

Interesting thought, and for a small percentage of the population, that may be true. However, I think they failed to consider some pretty important points.

In an ideal world, for a 100% healthy individual with totally regulated blood sugar and daily cortisol output, perfect gut health and hormonal balance, sure, skipping breakfast will likely not have an effect and is actually included in intermittent fasting routines of some wellness professionals such as Chris Kresser, L.Ac and functional medicine practitioner. However, the reality is that the majority of us do not fall into this category, and therefore may very likely feel ill effects of skipping breakfast and starting our day only with a cup of coffee. Also, the article failed to distinguish between different foods, which is an extremely important component to the breakfast debate.

So, what really constitutes a healthy breakfast?

The SAD (Standard American Diet) teaches us that beginning the day with a whole grain cereal makes a world of difference from your typical sugar cereal that most have come around to agree are not a great way to begin the day. However, even a bran or whole grain type of cereal, while it might be a touch better than the above mentioned choice, is still blasting the body with a carb-only breakfast and therefore not providing it with the essential nutrients (namely quality fats and proteins) that it needs to maintain stable blood sugar throughout the day (especially if we struggle with blood sugar ups/downs and other hormonal imbalances).

Again, if you are one of the lucky individuals who have top tier health and want to experiment with beginning your day sans breakfast, go for it! See how you feel. But, for the rest of us that may deal with that late afternoon energy crash, sugar cravings throughout the day, feeling really hungry only shortly after eating breakfast, and/or late night cravings...lets look at some good, quick, healthy breakfast options to support all of our body systems for the day to come:

  • 2 soft or hard boiled eggs with 1/2 an avocado sprinkled with sea salt/pepper.
  • Chicken or turkey sausage with a handful of spinach (or other greens), add some sauerkraut and avocado for healthy fat and probiotics.
  • Frittata. This is a great option to make ahead of time and eat throughout the week/on the go.
  • Dinner leftovers
  • Smoked salmon with tomato, cucumber, avocado
  • Coconut flour muffins
These are just a few ideas, but get creative! Begin trying to shift your idea of what "should be" breakfast, and think real, whole food. You will likely reap the benefits throughout the day to come.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Do You Have Hidden Food Allergies/Sensitivities??

As adults, we generally assume that by this point in our lives we know which foods we can and cannot eat both due to taste and potential food reactions. However, this is often NOT the case!

Food allergies and sensitivities are really tricky. Why? Well, for various reasons, number one being often times the signs and symptoms that we are reacting to a foods are not experienced as the typical symptoms that would come with food reactions; aka, gastrointestinal (GI). We assume that the feelings we would get from eating foods we are sensitive too would be the obvious: gas, bloating, stomach upset, diarrhea, etc. What we DON'T think of are the myriad of other quite-common symptom such as...

  • Fatigue, energy dips/spikes
  • Moodiness/Depression/Anxiety
  • Brain fog/poor memory
  • Insomnia
  • Increased cravings, particularly to the very foods you are sensitive to.
  • Inflammation/pain/joint pain and stiffness
  • Eczema/Acne
  • Headaches/Migraines
  • Seasonal allergies
  • Weight gain or weight loss resistance

...just to name a few! Lets take a look at how food allergies and sensitivities develop and what is actually happening in the body.


First of all, lets distinguish between the two. Allergies are typically easier to detect as they involve the presence of IgE antibodies. These are the ones that will more commonly show up on food allergy tests. Food sensitivities are more commonly undiagnosed as they are related to IgG antibodies, and will often not show up in testing. That is why taking food allergy testing at face value can be risky, as false negatives are quite common.

Both can be present due to heredity, a week immune system and/or nutritional deficiencies, and the most common way food sensitivities and full blown allergies are developed over time is through a reaction to the protein in a given food. For example, the casein in dairy and the gluten in wheat. Interestingly, you may be surprised to know that being lactose intolerant has nothing to do with a reaction to the casein (protein part) of dairy, but here you are reacting to and unable to break down the carbohydrate portion of food because the body lacks the enzyme lactase which breaks down lactose. This is why some people are fine with lactose free milk, because they are reacting to the lactose versus the casein. Two totally separate things!

We can react to any food; however, some of the most common include dairy, wheat, soy, corn, eggs, sugar, and peanuts. People who are extra sensitive to wheat also may experience reactions to all grains, both gluten and non gluten containing. 

What can happen over (typically) prolonged periods of time is the delicious sounding phenomenon of leaky gut syndrome. Yum. This is when a food (or potentially chemical and/or additive) irritant is entering the gut causing damage to the gut lining which is (ideally and if functioning properly) responsible for the filtration of nutrients into the blood stream, and therefore allowing undigested particles to pass through. When this happens, the body alerts the immune system to respond and launches an attack, which we then experience in the form of a food reaction. Again, this reaction can take the form of all of the symptoms mentioned above and many more...point being it is often NOT simply the easy to read GI discomfort you might assume!

It should be noted that while we will not discuss these other common contributors to leaky gut in this article, one may be experiencing impaired gut function also as a result of parasitic or bacterial infection, yeast overgrowth, chronic stress or nutrient deficiencies.


First, it is necessary to pinpoint your particular trigger foods. While you can definitely work with a healthcare professional to do some testing (again, keep in mind that many conventional doctors use lab companies that produce frequent false negatives, so seeking out a naturopath or other functional medicine practitioner is ideal), you can also undergo an elimination diet. This is the process of cutting out inflammatory foods that you may be reacting to for a certain amount of time (I suggest minimum 1 month, even better 2 months), and then reintroducing them one by one in a careful and specific manner that will give you the information you are looking for. Working with a professional can make this process much easier. Contact me directly if you are interested in my Elimination Diet/Sugar Detox Program, which comes with one on one guidance throughout the process.


Here are a few really interesting articles to check out for more info. As always, please contact me with any questions, and hope you are wrapping up a healthy and happy summer!