Relief for Adolescent and Adult Anxiety

February 27, 2021

Anxiety is something everyone from children to adults deal with. Did you know you can relieve your anxiety by making sure your body is getting the proper nutrients it needs? Listen in as two nutritionists discuss natural ways to treat anxiety without medication.

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DARLENE: Welcome to Dishing Up Nutrition brought to you by Nutritional Weight and Wellness. I'm Darlene Kvist. And for my career, I'm a Certified Nutrition Specialist and a Licensed Nutritionist. And personally I'm a mother of two and a grandmother of four.


DARLENE: You know, and then there's Bella. Bella is my little dog and she's my master.

JENNIFER: Sweet Bella.

DARLENE: You know, I've been a licensed nutritionist since 1996 when the state of Minnesota required any and all nutritionists and dietitians to be licensed. And that means continuing education credits every year, which I always am pleased to do.

JENNIFER: You sure do.

DARLENE: You know, I'm delighted to join you all this morning to talk about how nutrition affects our mental health. And if you've been noticing in the paper or on newscasts, it is a big problem right now. So this show and podcast is very timely because the president of the University of Minnesota just announced its first ever system-wide student health initiative. Now, Jennifer is going to talk a little bit more about that health initiative. So good morning to you, ma’am.

JENNIFER: Good morning Dar. It is a delight to be back in the studio with you. It's been a few years.

DARLENE: Yes it has.

JENNIFER: It has. Yeah. And this show sure is timely. Now this health initiative is the University of Minnesota’s effort to expand research and outreach on the issues of depression, anxiety, and other areas of mental health, and also to create new campus support for the students over the next three years. You know, this is getting serious, isn't it, Dar?

DARLENE: It is. It’s very serious. So here's another interesting fact coming out of the National Institute of Health. You know, when we're putting together these shows, we're always looking at some of the newer research. And they found that young adults ages 18 to 25 have the highest prevalence of mental illness at about 29%. And just kind of think about that. That's almost 30%. And I always think, well, that's close to 33% and that's like one-third of that age group or one out of three people in that age group are having some mental health challenges right now.

JENNIFER: Yeah. That's staggering. Today Dar and I will address how good nutrition can help reduce anxiety for both adolescents and adults.

DARLENE: And you know, why do we have Jennifer on the show today? Because she's lived it.

JENNIFER: I sure have.

DARLENE: Go ahead. I won't interrupt again.

JENNIFER: From a very young age. So if you or a family member is having panic attacks or generalized anxiety, or maybe you can't sleep due to worry and anxiety.

DARLENE: We hear that a lot.

JENNIFER: We do. Or maybe you have trouble focusing or completing tasks or perhaps you have constipation all of the time, or maybe you have diarrhea all the time.

DARLENE: It’s kind of like diarrhea often.

JENNIFER: Yes it is for people who are anxious; absolutely. Perhaps it switches back and forth due to that anxiety. We also, some people call it IBS. You know, Dar, I could go on and on describing behavioral signs of anxiety and I'm sure listeners out there have their list of symptoms that they deal with. I am personally familiar, like Dar said, with many of these symptoms, symptoms of anxiety because I experienced anxiety even as a small child, and struggled with stomach aches and couldn't sleep. You know, my poor mom, here she has a toddler; two and a half year old, and she believes she's having a baby and it ends up being twins. And she didn't know because ultrasounds weren’t a thing back then.

DARLENE: Oh my gosh.



JENNIFER: And then here, I'm this colicky baby and I'm a very anxious child and had it been me having the babies, I would have thought, wow, I just have a needy child. I wouldn't have recognized…

DARLENE: I think that's probably what a lot of people thought. It’s just a needy child.

JENNIFER: Definitely. So I want to share my story with you today because I think it may help so many of our listeners. My name is Jennifer Anthony and I…

DARLENE: You used to have a different name.

JENNIFER: I did. It was Jennifer Schmid. So some listeners, if you recognize my voice, yes I was Jennifer Schmid. Now I'm happily married. And now I'm Jennifer Anthony.

DARLENE: Sounds great.

JENNIFER: Yes. And I've lived through many health problems over my lifetime. And again, some listeners who recognize my voice have heard my health conditions, my past health conditions. And so what I have found is that what I eat can either make my symptoms worse. Or when I eat the correct foods for my body and brain, I can be free of these symptoms, free of anxiety, free of depression, free of gut pain, free of  osteoporosis and free of those sleepless nights. You know Dar, it's good to be free.

DARLENE: You know, it's so interesting, because you just said, when you eat the right foods for your body, now they might not necessarily be the right foods for somebody else.

JENNIFER: That’s right.

DARLENE: So that's why we have to really look at people individually. And that's kind of what we do when we're working with people.

JENNIFER: Yes, it's not a one size fits all approach.

DARLENE: Nope. So everyone has heard the saying “you are what you eat”. And Dr. Amen, a well-known psychiatrist and author said, “If you eat a junk food diet, you'll have a junk food mind that is less capable of thinking quick, sharp decision-making and you'll have more anxiety.”

JENNIFER: That's right.

DARLENE: Isn't that interesting?

JENNIFER: Very interesting.

DARLENE: So you know, everyone feels nervous from time to time. And honestly, most of us on Dishing Up Nutrition are nervous every time we step up to this mic.

JENNIFER: That's right.

DARLENE: And people can usually hear it at the beginning. And being nervous is different than being anxious.

JENNIFER: It really is.

DARLENE: Because nervous is just for fleeting moment.

JENNIFER: It's fleeting. It's maybe butterflies versus that debilitating anxiety that can overwhelm you or even that feeling of hopelessness.

DARLENE: And you've been there.

JENNIFER: I have. I certainly have. When anxiety starts to hold you back in your daily life, whether it being work, school or relationships, then it's time to find some solutions. My anxiety affected my work and it affected everything in my life. So I tried different modalities: psychological counseling. I tried medication. I even tried over-exercising and it didn't work; very limited results. And it was at that, you know, around the time I had hit rock bottom, that's when I had my, I had had two emergency intestinal surgeries in 2012, followed, followed by a diagnosis of osteoporosis. That was my moment. You know, Dar, I was a hot mess. And I had been listening to Dishing Up Nutrition for many, many years, almost since the very first show.


JENNIFER: And I decided…

DARLENE: I was very nervous then.

JENNIFER: Oh were you? That didn't come, I couldn't hear it.

DARLENE: I fake it well.

JENNIFER: So I decided to give nutrition a try. I met with a dietitian at Nutritional Weight and Wellness, and she helped me change my eating choices. And you know what? It changed my life. In fact, I would say it saved my life because at that time I had also stopped absorbing food.

DARLENE: So not only your anxiety. You had osteoporosis.


DARLENE: You had serious intestinal problems.


DARLENE: So, you had a lot of health challenges.

JENNIFER: I had a lot of health challenges.

DARLENE: So according to the National Institute of Mental Health, anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the U.S. You know, during the pandemic, about four in 10 adults now in the U.S. report symptoms of anxiety. Before we got hit with this pandemic, it was one in 10 reported symptoms of anxiety. So as you just heard, looking at those numbers, we really have an anxiety problem on our hands.

JENNIFER: We sure do.

DARLENE: So if you or a family member is struggling with anxiety, I suggest that you take a careful look at what you're eating. You may be thinking, “How can food affect my thinking?” Well, food can affect your thinking and your ability to handle stress. And we're getting stress thrown at us every day.


DARLENE: So I always tell clients that the brain needs nutrition and it needs nutrients. And a lot of people don't even think about the brain needing nutrients.

JENNIFER: No, it's a new concept.

DARLENE: So we have to kind of start to think, “How am I going to feed my brain so that I can start to think right and have less anxiety.” So today, Jennifer and I want to walk you through some very, very important biochemical steps that you can implement into your daily life. It's all about food and what to eat and when to eat so that you can have less anxiety. And I think Jennifer's telling me it's time for break.

JENNIFER: Yes, it is.

DARLENE: Okay. So you're listening to Dishing Up Nutrition brought to you by my Nutritional Weight and Wellness. You know, I'm Darlene Kvist. And I am in studio with Jennifer Anthony, who is sharing how she recovered from a serious anxiety disorder when she learned to eat what foods to eat to support her nervous system and what foods to avoid, because they were causing high anxiety for her. And we'll be back in a minute.


JENNIFER: Welcome back to Dishing Up Nutrition. You may have noticed that since the onset of COVID-19 you're tossing and turning more throughout the night. Perhaps even before the stress of the pandemic, you were not able to sleep seven and a half to eight hours most nights. And now it's even more of a challenge. Did you know that lack of sleep increases your risk of obesity and even diabetes? Lack of sleep can affect your cholesterol numbers? I think that's a surprise for most listeners.

DARLENE: Oh I think so too.

JENNIFER: Lack of sleep can also increase your anxiety. And I think a lot of people can relate to that. And for some people, just taking 400 milligrams of Magnesium Glycinate before bed is all that's necessary to get a solid night's sleep.

DARLENE: I never go without my 400 milligrams of magnesium before I go to… I think all of us on staff.

JENNIFER: Yeah. For others, it's a much more complex and challenging problem.

DARLENE: It certainly is.

JENNIFER: Yes. When my friends ask me questions about sleep, I always advise them what worked for me. And that is to make an appointment with one of our Nutritional Weight and Wellness nutritionists or dietitians. They have answers for you. If you are experiencing challenges with your sleep, call (651) 699-3438 and set up an appointment with, with a sleep expert.

DARLENE: So, you know, we were talking before break about what to eat and when to eat to kind of help manage your anxiety. And I think it's really great to have you on, Jennifer, because you have lived it. And you're not a nutritionist.


DARLENE: But you have a very busy career.


DARLENE: So if you can do it, other people can do it.

JENNIFER: Oh, absolutely. If I can do it, anybody can do it.

DARLENE: So, what do you do? What's one of the first things that you do that is just a must?

JENNIFER: Well, a must for me is I found the first habit to set my brain on the right path is to eat breakfast every day. And so the first thing I do after I get out of bed is I drink 14 ounces of water. I want to hydrate. I have been sleeping all night.

DARLENE: Your brain needs water.

JENNIFER: It does need lots of water. And then I like to eat breakfast about a half hour of waking up. Why? Because my brain needs the nutrients and food to turn on or wake up my brain to help it work properly.

DARLENE: So just that one thing: eat.


DARLENE: Eat breakfast.

JENNIFER: Eat breakfast; makes a world of difference.

DARLENE: So here's something else is interesting. Research studies upon research studies upon research studies link a poor diet to high levels of anxiety. So what do we need to eat to have an anti-anxiety diet? What does that research mean? What does it, what are they, what is an anti-anxiety diet? Well, let me tell you. An anti-anxiety diet has an overreaching focus on blood sugar management. And then you say, “What does that mean when I say blood sugar management?” You might be asking, “What does that mean?” You know, so Jennifer and I are going to kind of talk the focus on foods in an anti-anxiety diet that, you know it, first of all, it focuses on eating frequently. And we need to eat frequently to balance our blood sugar.

JENNIFER: That's right.

DARLENE: That's so critical.

JENNIFER: It is critical. So when I had my first appointment at Nutritional Weight Wellness, my nutritionist emphasized blood sugar balance. And I didn't really understand the concept completely.

DARLENE: It takes a long time for people.

JENNIFER: It does. Yeah. It's science. I didn't really understand the concept completely, but she wrote out an eating plan for me to follow and recommended that I eat every three hours in balance to keep my blood sugar numbers in a normal range. And she explained to me that when I skip a meal or snack and my blood sugar goes too low for my body and brain, I can easily feel anxious. And again, she said to eat every three hours and, you know, Dar, we kept it simple. It can be overwhelming going from a way of eating to completely changing that way of eating.

DARLENE: Yes, it can.

JENNIFER: It can. So we kept it simple and, and eased into it. And it made it a lot easier.

DARLENE: It‘s not easy when you have a very busy work schedule to make sure that you eat every… it’s a challenge.

JENNIFER: It is a challenge. And I know we talked to people every day that, “Oh, I forgot to eat today.” You know, people get busy. So what does that look like? Eating two to four ounces of animal protein; so it would be like two ounces at snacks; four ounces at meals. And what do I mean by animal protein? Things like steak, chicken, fish, eggs, protein, even protein powder. And then two to three cups of cooked vegetables. And I stress cooked because they're easier to digest. And for me having the two intestinal surgeries, I need to do that. And then cooking those vegetables, sautéing them, or even roasting them in a tablespoon of fat; adding that tablespoon of fat every time I eat; things like butter, coconut oil, ghee, avocado oil. And you know what? It worked. It changed my life dramatically. Dar, tell listeners why it worked.

DARLENE: Well, Jennifer, your eating plan worked because our brain needs glucose or sugar to function. And that's something I don't think a lot of people realize. You know, our brain only needs the correct amount of glucose; not too much and not too little.

JENNIFER: Just the right amount.

DARLENE: So here's an example: if you eat vegetables and some fruit, that really contains the exact amount of sugar or glucose that your brain needs, but if you eat a big bowl of cereal or a bagel that would result in too much glucose or sugar.

JENNIFER: Yeah. And that reminds me of a book, Always Hungry. And the author said a quote that I love. And that is, “If you eat a bowl of cornflakes with no sugar added, or if you eat a bowl of sugar with no cornflakes added, your body's not going to know the difference below, below the neck.”

DARLENE: Oh, that's interesting. Yes. So again, if you eat just fat, so maybe you just grabbed a tablespoon of cream cheese, that wouldn't be enough glucose. So your brain would not get turned on to deal with the stress that we're all dealing with right now.

JENNIFER: That’s right. My nutritionist taught me that an anti-anxiety diet with a focus on eating two to four ounces of animal protein, for instance, like for a breakfast that would look like two eggs sautéed in butter with spinach and maybe a half cup of sweet potatoes is a great meal. That would be a great way to start my day and manage my anxiety. And you know, maybe your teen doesn't like fried eggs. Well, how's this for an idea? How about a breakfast of egg salad or even chicken salad with avocado slices along with a side of sliced red peppers, celery slices and homemade sweet potato wedges? I think that sounds delicious.


JENNIFER: And I think for people that are short on time, perhaps maybe a protein shake, and we've got a lot of great recipes on our website. And that's something you can pre-make, have them in the freezer and thaw them out each day.

DARLENE: So you can have a chocolate one. You can have a strawberry one.


DARLENE: Doesn't matter. So here's another favorite breakfast that many of my clients like. They make this recipe, our homemade chicken salad.

JENNIFER: It's really good.

DARLENE: And they just put that on a slice of rye bread; 100 percent rye. And rye bread is better than white bread or wheat bread because it is designed to balance our blood sugar.

JENNIFER: That's right.

DARLENE: Isn't that interesting? I always find that fascinating. Now I know if you're gluten sensitive, well, you can't do that.

JENNIFER: That's right.

DARLENE: You have to do sweet potatoes, but that's okay

JENNIFER: It is okay. And I know that that rye, that really dense German rye is what we're talking about here.


JENNIFER: Yeah. It's definitely a better choice. And for some reason, my blood sugar is sensitive and it's hard to keep it balanced.

DARLENE: I think that's not uncommon, Jennifer. I think for a lot of people that have more of an anxiety type of chemistry, they have very sensitive blood sugars.

JENNIFER: I think, yeah, you're absolutely right. So I need to focus on eating and not skipping meals or snacks. You know, I don't want to be hungry. I certainly don't want to be “hangry”. I don't want my blood sugar to get too low so I eat on a schedule. Actually, by the time I'm hungry, it's kind of too late. My blood sugar or blood glucose level’s too low. And I'm already at that high anxiety level.

DARLENE: You know, that's interesting, Jennifer. If you look back at diets, historically, they always, so many of them have said, you know, “Don't eat until you're hungry.”

JENNIFER: That's right. Listen to your, yup.

DARLENE: And when I was reading some research many, many, many, many, many years ago, it said when, it's just like what you said.


DARLENE: When your blood sugar is, is, when you're hungry, your blood sugar is already too low. So you have to eat to protect your blood sugar.

JENNIFER: You do. And to keep that anxiety level at bay.

DARLENE: So is that meaning that we should probably go to break?


DARLENE: Okay. So you're listening to Dishing Up Nutrition. As I was preparing for this show, I looked over some recent research from the National Institute of Health about using the probiotic, bifidobacteria reduced anxiety and depression. The study participants suffering from chronic stress and anxiety reported feeling less anxious and had better moods after taking three bifido bacteria.


JENNIFER: Welcome back to Dishing Up Nutrition. Not only did I struggle with anxiety, but I was also diagnosed with osteoporosis at age of 38.

DARLENE: Oh my gosh.

JENNIFER: I know; so young. I was concerned because I didn't want to break a hip bone in the future and end up in a nursing home. I learned that even chronic sleep loss can lead to lower bone density and eventually to osteoporosis. In a recent test on my bones, I'm happy to tell you that I no longer have osteoporosis.

DARLENE: Isn’t that perfect?

JENNIFER: Yeah. It's reversible.


JENNIFER: And I now have normal bone density. So how did I do that? How did I rebuild my bones? By eating real food.

DARLENE: And staying away from sugar.

JENNIFER: And staying away from sugar, along with a special bone building supplement called Key Osteo Plus. And if you have questions about bone health, call (651) 699-3438, and we will gladly answer any questions you may have about Key Osteo Plus or any of the other supplements that we're going to talk about today.

DARLENE: So, you know, Jennifer, before we went on break, we were talking about this research out of the National Institute of Health that said that when people added the probiotic, bifidobacteria, you know, two or three times a day, that their anxiety and depression decreased and got much more manageable. And so what I usually, and I've been doing this for a number of years, and I think people get tired of me saying, do bifidobacteria, do bifidobacteria, because it has such an influence on our body. And it affects our health of our small intestinal tract. And that's where you break down all your food and that's where you get your, actually you, you make your neurotransmitters down there.

JENNIFER: Yes. And you know…

DARLENE: Some of the chemistry that, as nutritionists we know.

JENNIFER: That's right.

DARLENE: And we've studied, but most people don't know that.

JENNIFER: That's right. It was a game changer for me. And you know, I've heard that bifido is nature's Prozac.

DARLENE: Right. And we first get it when we're breastfed.

JENNIFER: That's right. 70% of our good bacteria should be that bifidobacteria.

DARLENE: Right. It's so critical. And what an easy thing to do is to add that, you know, maybe 10, 15 minutes before you eat so that it gets to work.

JENNIFER: That's right.

DARLENE: So where are we then now? What I was going to mention is that, you know, we were talking about blood sugar and you know, when, when we're counseling clients with some mental health issues, whatever they might be, we always suggest eating at least four times a day, maybe five, maybe six. You probably have to eat six.

JENNIFER: Yeah. We're all so individual. We all have different nutritional needs.

DARLENE: And so we always include some protein, some animal protein, some vegetables, and some healthy, natural fat. And it's really, really, really important to avoid man-made fats and high sugar processed carbs. You know, think about what is a high sugar processed carb? A Pop-Tart.

JENNIFER: Yeah. That's a good example.

DARLENE: Yeah. So after working with clients for maybe about 40 years, I've come to realize the most of those dealing with chronic health problems or anxiety or depression problems need very simple directions and easy to make meals and snacks to help them get the nutrients into their cells so they can start feeling well again. So they, they have some energy to cook more complex meals. So I try to go simple, easy foods to make and eat is the answer.

JENNIFER: It is the answer. And you can make delicious, simple meals that are absolutely delicious, like in our Weight and Wellness cookbook. It's really about all about planning, prepping, getting into that new habit or routine. And I've been doing this now for nine years and it's…

DARLENE: You always have to think about it.

JENNIFER: Yeah. Yeah.

DARLENE: It doesn't come easy.

JENNIFER: It doesn't come easy, but it does eventually, once you keep doing it…

DARLENE: It becomes a routine; part of your life.

JENNIFER: That's right.

DARLENE: This is the way you do things. I agree with you.

JENNIFER: Yeah. And then, then you don't have that worry and anxiety over, when am I going to eat? What am I going to eat?

DARLENE: It's right there. It's already made.

JENNIFER: Exactly. So to get over my anxiety disorder, I needed to take my nutrition plan to the next level, because I had an anxious gut. I needed to change my gut health and heal my gut in order to change my moods and anxiety level.

DARLENE: That’s a new word; a new way to think about anxiety. It's an anxious gut.

JENNIFER: That's right.

DARLENE: And I think a lot of people can relate to that.

JENNIFER: That gut/brain connection.

DARLENE: Right. There are actually many studies showing the gut/brain connection and the relationship between the intestinal microbiome and mental health. You know, these studies have been around for years and I'm happy to say because I've been around for years, I've probably read them all. So finally, there is more awareness that our brain is actually connected to our gut. People are starting to realize it.

JENNIFER: There's so much research out there on that. And a study coming out of Canada 10 years ago in 2011…

DARLENE: See? 10 years ago.

JENNIFER: 10 years we've known this at least. …show that the gut can communicate with the brain and affect behavior and can certainly affect anxiety levels. And I had a lot of anxiety bugs and we might call that bad bacteria. And that contributes to that anxiety. My nutritionist shared that I needed to add probiotic foods.

DARLENE: Which would be like something like sauerkraut.

JENNIFER: Yes, sauerkraut, cultured yogurt, you know, pickles. Some people love those. Kimchi if you like it spicy. And really needed to add those and supplements to change my microbiome and intestinal health. Now, remember I was a colicky baby. I didn't sleep well. I had gut pain. In general, I was a miserable baby. My poor mom.

DARLENE: And she had twins.

JENNIFER: And she had twins and a toddler. So yeah, when the intestinal tract lacks that good bacteria, that beneficial bacteria, you just cannot digest foods well, which leads to symptoms like gas, heartburn, more diarrhea or constipation. More importantly, without beneficial bacteria, you cannot produce your brain chemicals, also known as neurotransmitters, which is why my nutritionist added bifidobacteria to my daily regimen. So I would take two to three capsules before each meal. Sometimes I would do the powder form because that would be absorbed a little bit better. That would be in water about a half a teaspoon to a teaspoon. And I would always include that animal protein in those meals. And you know what? I felt better almost immediately. In fact, I was feeling better, Dar, in about 10 days after changing my eating.

DARLENE: Wow, that's great.


DARLENE: And you had a lot of issues going on. You know, I think Jennifer, this is such a new concept for so many people. Let's kind of go back over, you know, we, you, cause you said we need good bacteria to produce our brain chemicals. Who would ever have thought that?


DARLENE: Because you know, where are we, where do we make these neurotransmitters, our brain chemicals?

JENNIFER: Well, I think a lot of people think you make them in your brain, but you don't. 90% of your serotonin is made in your small intestinal tract.

DARLENE: Isn't that amazing?


DARLENE: But then you start to think about, you know, I think we think about neurotransmitters, but we also think about other brain chemicals: those that affect people's memory.


DARLENE: So if you are having gut problems, you might also be having memory problems.

JENNIFER: Definitely.

DARLENE: Now wouldn't that be a simple solution? I know because I'm older, a lot older, keeping my memory is so important to me.


DARLENE: And I think it is for most people as they grow older, because if you lose your memory, you lose everything.

JENNIFER: You do. You absolutely do.

DARLENE: So getting your gut in order and healthy, so you can make those brain chemicals. It's just so important.

JENNIFER: It is very important.

DARLENE: So, you know, the whole gut brain connection is really rather complex, but doable.

JENNIFER: It is doable.

DARLENE: So let's break it down so everyone can understand it. You know, we really, when we're working with people, we really believe this thing that's called nutrition education because I think people have to understand why they're making these changes. So it's easy, you know, once you understand, then you can do it.

JENNIFER: Yes. You need to know the why.

DARLENE: So again, let me explain this one more time. You know, when your small intestinal tract has bifidobacteria, you can actually break down and digest your foods. Now that doesn't necessarily just mean, you know, making your neurotransmitter. It makes your B12.

JENNIFER: It does also make your B vitamins.

DARLENE: …which is important for your memory and mood. You know, the protein you eat actually breaks down into amino acids, which then makes the brain chemicals; that neurotransmitter, serotonin, like Jennifer just explained. And we're needing to go to break here. So you're listening to Dishing Up Nutrition. I'd like to share a story about a teenage girl who I worked with about seven years ago. You know, her anxiety, and this is a true story. Her anxiety level was so high she could not make herself go to school. You know, her mother did not want to resort to medication because she had tried that with an older daughter and it didn't have very good results. So what we did, we slowly changed her diet. And after about six months of eating real food in balance and taking some bifidobacteria, she was able to go back to school.


DARLENE: It wasn't easy, but she was able to do it. And just recently I've learned that she graduated from college and is moving to California for her first professional job.

JENNIFER: That is excellent.

DARLENE: Yes, it took some time and several appointments and a mom that was really supportive, but now she's a healthy and happy young adult. So real food, some help with understanding how important food is worked.

JENNIFER: It sure did. That's a great success story; the power of eating real food in balance.

DARLENE: Yes. So we'll be back in a minute.


JENNIFER: Welcome back to Dishing Up Nutrition. It is no surprise that since the pandemic started over a year ago, many people have gained weight. An easy way to get back to healthy eating and away from the ice cream, the cookies, the chips, the beer, the cocktails, is to take a Nutrition for Weight Loss series. We have two dates available for this series starting next week, starting Monday, March 1st and Wednesday, March 3rd. And the classes are filling up fast. All of are taught in a Zoom format so you don't have to leave your home. This is a real food plan. No starvation, no pre-packaged, processed foods and it's a lot of fun, and done in a, in a good group setting. So give us a call at (651) 699-3438 to sign up, or you can also sign up online at

DARLENE: You know, in these classes, also, Jennifer, I think I try to emphasize all the time that we're working on people's health, overall health.


DARLENE: And so it might be, they'd be working on their anxiety or on their depression or on their aches and pains or whatever, because real food influences all those things.

JENNIFER: That's right. And the weight loss is just a secondary benefit to what other things are healing.

DARLENE: So kind of to wrap up their show today, Jennifer, we were, you were, you made a lot of changes.


DARLENE: And you're, you're feeling great. You know, so maybe let's, let's kind of talk all about some of these changes.


DARLENE: So give, give a, some kind of ideas of, oh, you know, what you did and how you did it; and some of those things.

JENNIFER: Sure. Well, you know, all of these changes don't happen overnight.

DARLENE: No, they don't.

JENNIFER: They don't, but you can change your brain when you change your nutrition, when you change what you're putting in your mouth every day.

DARLENE: That's a concept that's hard for people to understand.

JENNIFER: Yeah, definitely.

DARLENE: But it works.

JENNIFER: It does work. When I was in a treatment center, I was given kind of a one size fits all eating plan that contained a lot of sugar and processed carbohydrates. And that's a lot of what I craved, a lot of what I wanted to eat.

DARLENE: Of course.

JENNIFER: And that kind of sent my anxiety off the charts. And it also created a lot of gut symptoms like we talked about earlier; the bloating and things like that. When I made my nutritional counseling appointment nine years ago at Nutritional Weight and Wellness, I was so tired of anxiety. I was ready to do anything to climb out of that deep well of fear, including changing my nutrition to change my life.

DARLENE: And sometimes it takes that being down in the hole.

JENNIFER: Hitting that rock bottom.


JENNIFER: Because of the ongoing stress due to the pandemic, we need to eat better for our brain health, for immune function and to minimize our anxiety of the unknown. At first, I saw my nutritionist every other week and to this day, I still check in with my nutritionist every few months.

DARLENE: So Jennifer, you still go and…

JENNIFER: I do. I do. I still need that support.

DARLENE: Because it’s so important for you.

JENNIFER:  It's so important for me. And there's, you know, health issues that pop up, or maybe I want to tweak my eating plan a bit. Maybe I want to get some more ideas because I'm such in a busy, intense job, you know, how can I…

DARLENE: You do. I mean, you have, you have a very intense job.

JENNIFER: Yes. And so I need to focus on eating every three hours. So food breaks are a must for me. So what does that look like?

DARLENE: Go ahead. Let’s find out.

JENNIFER: Yeah, well, I, I always pre-plan lunches, so I, I make food in batches and I'll bring that leftover lunch. And for snacks, I mentioned earlier about the pre-made protein shakes. Those are very easy. And when I'm busy and I don't have the time to really sit down and chew my food well, that's a really good option for something quick.

DARLENE: You know, I was thinking, you know, teachers, you know, they, they, they could do that easily, which in your job, you can do it. I mean, it's, yeah.

JENNIFER: It can be done. It absolutely can be done. I really like those Epic bars, the meat bars that we sell. Those are great. The almond butter packs or cashew butter packs. Those are great too for a healthy fat. Yeah. There's, I have a lot of ideas. And I like to change it up too a lot and get a good variety in as well.

DARLENE: So got any other ideas for us?

JENNIFER: Well, I could maybe go through how I meal plan. I really like to have a day of grocery shopping for the meals that I'm, you know, the, the ingredients in the recipes that I'm making along with different snacks and things like that. I really like to do an egg bake or that crustless quiche that's in our cookbook and just have that just to warm up a piece in the morning. And that makes it really easy, because I do like a warm breakfast. And then, I will have lunches already pre-made and then for dinners, I'll have, different proteins on hand that I might already cook in bulk ahead of time; might roast up a bunch of vegetables; things like that. So I always have something easy to mix together and warm up.

DARLENE: So it's, you know, when people start to thinking about this, it's, you have to cook two or three meals at one time at one time. It's sort of like, like what you call batch cooking or cook in volumes so that you can always take something for lunch or, you know, if you get home late from work, you've got it, you know.

JENNIFER: And also take a day to prep, ingredients, to chop vegetables, to do things like that. And that way, when you go to make the recipe, it's kind of like cooking show style where, where you're just throwing things in. And that makes it easier too.

DARLENE: So, you know, the other day, because I was feeling a little tired, but I needed really good food, I had already cut up everything for a stir fry.

JENNIFER: Very nice.

DARLENE: So all I had to do is cut up the chicken breast and it came out just great. And it was so simple, you know, I had dinner ready in probably five, 10 minutes, you know, you know, I had onion, garlic in it; tasted great. Easy to do. But these things for people that have never been eating this way…

JENNIFER: That's right.

DARLENE: You have to go one step at a time.

JENNIFER: You do. And start out easy.

DARLENE: But then as they start to feel better, then they're willing to do more.

JENNIFER: Yeah. Yeah. And it can be a lot of fun. It definitely can be a lot of fun. Before I made my appointment to get nutritional help, I had been eating lots of carbohydrates and as little fat as possible.

DARLENE: And that's kind of typical for a lot of people.

JENNIFER: Especially coming from that era, era of low-fat, no fat.

DARLENE: Yep. Exactly.

JENNIFER: You know, I ate very little protein, but I sure ate a lot of sugar. Yeah, I sure did though. It wasn't my job or the relationships I had at the time creating my anxiety. It was what I was eating. So I changed my diet because I wanted to get rid of my anxiety. It was hard giving up some old food friends; the licorice, the fat-free cookies, the fat-free fruit flavored yogurt. Yogurt pretzels were another thing I would eat a lot, but being free of anxiety was so much more rewarding than any sweet treat. And you know what, Dar, I don't miss it.

DARLENE: Yeah. And you know, but you probably did at first. You know, it's, it's a habit that in your body, your cells had gotten used to that, that sugar. And you kind of like that little bit of sugar high that you got.

JENNIFER: Absolutely. I did mourn it in the beginning. That's for sure. I did miss it.

DARLENE: But then, you know, after you have eaten this way of balance, your cells adjust to that and they're not really craving that sugar any longer.

JENNIFER: That's right.

DARLENE: And so it isn't like you're on a diet.

JENNIFER: No, it's not a diet at all. I don't crave those foods anymore.

DARLENE: Right. And it is not the way you probably grew up. I mean, I don't, you know, I, you know, your mom had three little kids and was your mom working?

DARLENE: Yeah, she worked a full-time job. And so, yeah, it's hard to make a lot of meals.

DARLENE: So what might, might, what might be a meal that you, or something that you went to when you were a little kid, like a three-year-old? What would you be eating?

JENNIFER: Well, I’d go for the chips. I remember after school, I'd go for the chips, cookies; things like that, usually processed foods.

DARLENE: And that ended up making you more anxious.

JENNIFER: That's right. It definitely contributed to that.

DARLENE: So we really appreciate you listening today. We hope you've got some ideas as far as how to manage your own anxiety and your teen's anxiety. So our goal at Nutritional Weight and Wellness is to help each and every person experience better health through eating real food. You know, it is such a simple idea, but it's a powerful message. So eating real food is life changing, and it's been great working with you, Jennifer. And thanks everyone for listening to me.

JENNIFER: It's been great working with you Dar, too. Thank you so much.

DARLENE: Alright.


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