eating disorder

To Eat or Not to Eat…That Used To Be The Question

I was the girl who was never afraid of food till high school hit. Till it hit me so hard in the face, if I wanted to be like everyone else, I must look like everyone else. By everyone else I mean the popular girls. You know the blonde, 110 pounds (or under), wearing several coats of mascara, type of gal. In order to fit in to this genre, I began to learn my first diet, started to grow out my bangs, get rid of my spare tire around the middle, and learn to put on some Cover Girl. High school is where my eating disorder and negative body image began….

Grab the calculator, grab the scale, grab the fat free cheese, make sure it’s fat free. Grab the frozen veggies, only measure out 1 serving. No butter. No seasoning. Just steam them. It’s WAY better this way. Let’s see…there’s 30 calories in 1 piece of fat free cheese, 30 calories in my broccoli, this chicken breast says 180. Is that accurate? Gosh I hope so. My meal adds up to be…240 calories. Perfect! No more. No less. Now time to exercise. Let’s go downstairs and walk on the treadmill and AT LEAST burn my calories off from dinner.

These are some of the things that would go through my head when I would start to eat. It’s a tid-bit of my 10-year battle of dealing with an eating disorder. Constantly crunching numbers, weighing out my portions, and being obsessive about exercise. Always worrying about my food, often times not eating for a couple days, weighing myself constantly, and feeling angry/exhausted with the world. I’d even hide food under the bed, at least till my parents went to sleep to make them think I’d ate dinner. I scrape it out in the garbage, cover it up, and go back to bed. Wearing a size zero was all that was on my mind.

Do you know anyone like this? Eating disorders are not joke. They cause you to fear food, have low self-esteem, become obsessive, just to name a few side-effects…For this post, I wanted to share with you a bit of my own experience dealing with an eating disorder because I know what those lonely nights, dark days, constantly exercising, and compulsive thoughts feel like. But overcoming an eating disorder is possible. I’ve been recovered for 4 years going strong, and know it’s totally possible for you to recover too!



Kayla Douthitt




Kayla Douthitt, health coach and owner of Wisdom ‘N Wellness, is a 4-year recovered anorexia and binge eating survivor. She now helps women suffering from negative body image/self-esteem find their way through intuitive eating and holistic health practices. Her health coaching style is private, one on one phone calls, and full of gratitude. She believes strongly in healing from the inside out.

Kayla offers a FREE 1-hour Self-Love Discovery Call for those interested in starting their journey and #ForRealzFriday newsletter to get a weekly dose of inspiration.  

For more info on Kayla’s health coaching services check out her website here, and give her a like on Facebook and Instagram.


Wait, Coconut Oil is BAD for You?

The AHA (American Heart Association) recently published an article claiming that coconut oil is not part of healthy eating habits. This announcement has come as a surprise to many that consider coconut oil to be a healthy alternative to other food items like butter or margarine. If you search enough, articles about the wonders of coconut oil range from weight loss, heart health, skin moisturizer, and even hair conditioner. So why has the AHA come out and made these claims telling individuals to avoid coconut oil? How can a natural food item be detrimental to one’s health? Let’s look more closely into the AHA’s claims on coconut oil.


The claim the AHA is making is actually fairly simple; they are stating the fact that coconut oil is high in saturated fat. Yes, that is very true. Saturated fat is often referred to as the “bad fat,” while unsaturated fat is often known as the “good fat”. The container of organic coconut oil I have contains 14 grams of total fat, which is made up of 13 grams of saturated fat and only 1 gram of unsaturated fat. That is a large proportion of saturated fat.


Fats Impact on Heart Health

Saturated fat is considered “bad” because it has often showed in scientific tests to raise the LDL (Low density lipoprotein) cholesterol in the body. When the LDL cholesterol is much higher than the HDL (High density lipoprotein) cholesterol, which raises the risk of heart disease. This can result in plaque building up in the lining of blood vessels. If the plaque interrupts the flow of blood enough, then a heart attack can occur. If some of the plaque breaks off and travels through the bloodstream, it can cause a stroke.


Possible Benefits of Coconut Oil

It may seem fairly cut and dry that coconut oil is bad, but some coconut oil advocates are not convinced, stating that the type of saturated fat in coconut oil is still actually good for them. Look at any container of coconut oil and it will likely boast that it is high in MCT’s (Medium chain triglycerides) and high in lauric acid. This starts to get into the area of chemistry, but the question remains, is coconut oil bad for you?


Personally, I enjoy the taste of coconut oil but I would recommend it in moderation. Do I believe it is a miracle food that should be cooked with and slathered on many of your meals? Not really. If you use coconut oil for hair or skin care, feel free to continue as it will not impact your health negatively. Foods that have large amounts of saturated fat like coconut oil have been shown to negatively impact heart health, a particular area of health I study closely. Will future research give us a definitive answer on this coconut question? Possibly. I would not say to cut out coconut oil altogether from your diet, but from the current research, I would say it is best to use it sparingly.



CHES, ACE Health Coach, AFPA Nutrition & Wellness Consultant


2 Simple Ways for a Healthier 4th of July

The 4th of July is synonymous with gathering alongside friends and family, fireworks, and grilling. As with most holidays, greasy foods, lots of beer, and lounging around are common with 4th of July celebrations. There are options you have to keep this holiday healthier better food options and physical activity.


Be Active

The 4th of July is a time to be spent with friends and loved ones. But that does not mean you have to be setting around all day/ Take advantage of the summer weather and everyone being together. Maybe it is a friendly game of football in the backyard or running around with a soccer ball at the park. Whatever your group of finds fun and gets everyone active is a great idea.


Grilling is Not Just for Meat

When it comes to grilling, everyone has their favorite foods. Steak, hotdogs, hamburgers, bratwursts, etc. But the grill is not just for the meats. There are quite a number of vegetables, and even some fruits that are great options when cooked on the grill. Corn on the cob is not uncommon to have grilled, but try zucchini, portobello mushrooms, and my personal favorite, asparagus. They all taste great on their own and are easy to flavor for your desired taste. Portobello mushrooms make a great meatless substitute for a hamburger. For a little sweetness, add some fruit on the grill. Pineapple, cantaloupe, and peaches help add variety to your grilled meals with a smoky, sweet flavor. So clear some space on the grill for the fruits and vegetables to make your meals healthier and more flavorful.


It does not take drastic changes to make your holidays healthier. Keeping active and adding fruits and vegetables to your cookouts can help stay in shape and avoid putting on unwanted weight. Make sure to have some water alongside your beer or soda to stay hydrated on these warm summer days. Give some of these small changes a try and enjoy your 4th of July holiday.



CHES, ACE Health Coach, AFPA Nutrition & Wellness Consultant


Healthy Substitutions for Salt (Part 2)

This week, we continue to look at alternative ways to keep meals flavorful while cutting back on the salt. In part 1, we covered 3 different ways to add healthy flavor alternatives to your meals. Today, let’s look at three more options available to you.



If you like a little heat with your meals, then cayenne pepper is a great option. It can be purchased in small bottles as cayenne powder or cayenne flakes. Cayenne pepper can be strong; make sure to start with a small amount at first in order to see how much you prefer. Add a pinch to soups and dips to enhance flavor or as a marinade to meat dishes. Studies have shown that cayenne pepper may act as a useful vasodilator, which helps expand your blood vessels. The result is a decrease in blood pressure helping to preserve heart health.



Turmeric is a spice that comes in powder form and is known for its distinct orange yellow color. It is popular in Asian, Middle Eastern, and northern African dishes. Turmeric is used to flavor rice, curry dishes, and can be combined with ginger when added to meat dishes. It has recently been touted as one of the best spices to add into healthy eating habits. Studies have shown that turmeric may be one of the best anti-inflammatory aids and may improve the health of the inner lining of blood vessels.



There are a wide array of vinegars with a variety of flavors that can be used to flavor your foods. Most vinegars have 3 to 4 milligrams of sodium per tablespoon, which is quite low. The most popular versions of vinegar for flavoring are balsamic vinegar, red wine vinegar, and a mix of vinegar and olive oil. Vinegar can be added to sauces, used as a topping, or used as a side garnish. Some studies have shown that vinegars may assist to improve insulin resistance and are high in certain antioxidants.


Now, when you think about “eating healthy”, it doesn’t have to be boring or flavorless. There are many more options to flavor your foods out there, not just salt. Obviously, there will be certain flavorings you will like and some you will not enjoy. Give them a try and see which flavorings you can add to your eating habits.



CHES, ACE Health Coach, AFPA Nutrition & Wellness Consultant


Healthy Substitutions for Salt (Part 1)

When a client begins to consider ideas to improve their eating habits, I often hear they will need to cut back on a few food items that they normally consume. One of those is salt, a food item that is often used to make food taste better but is recommended to be kept low in our daily eating habits because excess salt can lead to higher blood pressure levels. When salt is reduced, some individuals worry their food will be boring, mundane, and flavorless. Thankfully, that is not the case. Let’s look into a few items you can use to enjoy your meals while making a change towards healthier eating habits.



A great replacement for salt to add flavor to meals. Different types of citrus and zests exist, so there are multiple options available. Orange, lime, and lemon all fall under the citrus family. They can be purchased in their bottled extract form or can be squeezed directly onto food in their natural state. Not only are salt levels lowered, but adding citrus to foods will increase your intake of vitamin C, potassium, and B vitamins. If you enjoy a light, sour zest flavor, then citrus is a great option.



Garlic and garlic powder can also be used as a salt substitute. It has a pungent taste but becomes much weaker tasting when cooked. It can be diced and put directly on foods, or you may choose to use a small bottle of garlic powder to flavor foods. I recommend avoiding garlic salt as it is a mix of garlic powder and salt, but mostly salt. Garlic has been shown to also have health benefits. Studies have shown that doses of garlic help thin blood and reduce risk of stroke. Garlic is also a good source of manganese, vitamin B6, and vitamin C.



Ginger is a unique spice known for its trademark flavor. It has a mild spicy flavor, but also a hint of sweetness. Fresh ginger has less of a spicy flavor and is sweeter. Ginger is traditionally used in Asian dishes but by no means is limited to just that. It can be used to sweeten seafood dishes and add flavor to chicken meals. Ginger is also a good source of vitamin B6, magnesium, and manganese. Studies have shown that ginger has properties that assist in reducing inflammation.


These are just some options available that can be used to give your food more flavor when trying to reduce your salt intake. Next week we will go over three more items you can use in place of salt to avoid boring and flavorless meals.



CHES, ACE Health Coach, AFPA Nutrition & Wellness Consultant


Nutrition & Exercise Myths

It can be easy to confuse what exactly are the best foods to eat or exercises to do. There is an abundance of information available online that can both aid and impede the ability to understand the best ways to live a healthy lifestyle. Different sources you find may even contradict each other. Let’s set the record straight on some common misconceptions and myths in the nutrition and exercise world.


Eggs are Very Bad for Your Cholesterol

The yolk of an egg is high in cholesterol, and that is where the confusion begins. For this reason, eggs were thought of as a food that should be absolutely avoided to have good cholesterol. Later it was found that cholesterol in food does not impact your own cholesterol as much as it was once thought. It is easy to see how this myth was perpetuated for so long. The main dietary culprit of poor cholesterol levels is saturated fats which cause your body to produce more cholesterol. Feel free to have an egg or two in the morning without the worry of damaging your health.


No Pain, No Gain

When exercising, whether it be cardio or strength exercise, it is not uncommon to feel soreness in your muscles after working out. This is especially true of individuals new to exercise. Pain should never be a part of the equation. Pain in your joints during or after exercise is a sign that your form is incorrect or you are trying to lift too heavy of weight. This can cause both short term and long term injuries if not corrected. If you experience these types of pain, try to decrease the intensity of your workout and focus on having the best form possible. Avoid the pain, get the gains.


Sports Drinks are the Best Drink During/After Exercise

Watching commercials and reading ads online would lead you to believe that sports drinks like Gatorade or Powerade would be the absolute best drink to have while in the middle of physical activity. In reality, these drinks are more or less glorified Kool-Aid. These drinks do contain the three electrolytes, Potassium, Magnesium, and Sodium, which are depleted in the body through exertion and sweat. Advertising can make it seem that electrolytes need to be replenished much more often than they actually do. The best source of hydration, of course, is water and it has none of the sugar.


There is a lot of confusion for multiple different reasons when it comes to a wide variety of health topics. The main goal of my blogs is to give my readers a better sense of what they can do to live a healthy lifestyle. With so much information available, especially online, try to take the advice of respected, experienced, and reputable professionals. This way, you will be able to understand and control your own health.



CHES, ACE Health Coach, AFPA Nutrition & Wellness Consultant


Benefits of Proper Water Intake

At some point in your life, you have been told to drink more water because it is “good for you”, but why exactly is it good? The true benefits of adequate water intake are often overlooked by most people. Humans are made mostly of water, and without proper hydration, many key functions of the body would simply not be possible. Proper water intake has a direct effect on our daily lives and our overall health.


Lack of proper water intake can lead to dehydration, feeling faint, and mental fogginess. Proper water intake helps regulate your body temperature, flush waste from your body, and transport nutrients via the bloodstream. How much water does the body need to properly function and avoid negative side effects? There are a few highly regarded recommendations for daily water intake that include eight 8-ounce glasses a day (64 ounces). Another recommendation suggests drinking half your body weight (pounds) in ounces of water a day. Outside factors also play into your daily water that should be considered. The climate in which you live can come into play because people living in hot climates will need to drink more water to regulate body temperature and replace water lost sweating. Also, your level of physical activity effects your daily hydration needs due to water lost with extra internal functions and sweating.


It is nice to know that adequate water intake is good for your health, but you may wonder how it will affect you on a daily basis. Personally, increasing my water intake had a huge impact on my daily life. As a teenager, I would have three cans of soda a day, but decided to cut it out and replace it with just water. I was surprised by the results. Instead of feeling hyperactive, I felt even-keeled. Instead of having issues staying awake during the day and issues falling asleep, I was able to be awake, focused, and energetic while also being able to fall asleep well at night. For me, once I felt the results it has been a major focus to keep my water intake high. Water is a key building block of life, so do not be surprised if you see improvements to your energy levels, mood, skin, or sleep.


Whether adding more water throughout the day or replacing other beverages, adding an appropriate amount of water to your lifestyle can make a major difference. Think about where you can add water into your own day. First thing in the morning, between meals, or after physical activity are all great times to make improvements. Give it a try and find what works best for you.



CHES, ACE Health Coach, AFPA Nutrition & Wellness Consultant


Making Smart Choices When Snacking

Snacking gets a bad reputation from the health industry sometimes, but that really should not be the case. I think most of us understand that eating ice cream and cookies right before we go to bed is not productive towards an overall healthy lifestyle. However, snacks absolutely do have a place in a healthy lifestyle and can be great when worked in properly. Snacking can be a great tool to reduce hunger between meals, improve energy levels, and keep meal portions in check. There are three key factors to focus on for healthy snacking: when you are snacking, what you are snacking on, and how much you are having for your snack.


When Are You Snacking?

From my experience, people do not think about when they eat their snacks, they just eat whenever they are hungry. Often people have snacks late in the evening, which is usually is not the best time since there will be little time to work off those extra calories. This is especially a problem when trying to watch your weight. It is generally best to fit a healthier snack earlier in the day while most people are more active. It also can help to cut back on the urge to snack late at night.


What Are You Snacking On?

Anything can technically be eaten throughout your day as a snack. Picking the better available options is going to help you improve your overall health. Fruits, vegetables, nuts, granola, and hummus are all great options. Generally, snacks high in protein and fiber will keep you satisfied and satiated throughout the day. A snack of complex carbohydrates before physical activity can be appropriate to make sure you have the energy for your exercise. In contrast, snacks like crackers, most granola/protein bars (often glorified candy bars), and dried fruits loaded with sugar are foods some people may perceive as a good choice.


How Much Are you Snacking On?

Snacking a little is alright, but what if I told you portion size is important for higher quality snacks as well? I am a big fan of snacking on nuts because they are high in fiber, protein, and healthy fats. Remember that both fats, saturated and unsaturated, are fairly high in calories. One gram of fat is nine calories, while a gram of carbohydrates or protein is just four calories. This means the calories can rack up quickly when eating nuts, sunflower seeds, peanut butter, or to a lesser extent, hummus. Be mindful of the appropriate portion size on the label if you are trying to watch your weight. For items such as chips, ice cream, and pretzels, try using a smaller bowl to decrease the size of your portions.


Snacking is absolutely part of a healthy diet but it is important to do it intelligently. Try working in small snacks throughout the day to see what exactly works best for you. Remember, the more active you are, the more appropriate it is to work in more snacking. It will help keep your energy up, your hunger low, and more satisfied throughout your day.



CHES, ACE Health Coach, AFPA Nutrition & Wellness Consultant


Natural Foods to Improve Blood Pressure

Heart disease is the number one cause of death worldwide. One of the largest causes of heart disease is due to long term high blood pressure. In my last blog, I addressed the issues that high blood pressure can cause and what foods can increase your risk of high blood pressure. Today we will focus on natural foods that may improve blood pressure that are simple to add to most anyone’s eating habits.



One of my personal favorite spices is cinnamon, due not only to its great flavor but also to its perceived health benefits. Early studies have shown it’s a natural source to assist in managing high blood pressure. It has shown to improve systolic blood pressure (blood pressure when the heart is contracting) and, to a lesser extent, diastolic blood pressure (blood pressure when the heart is between beats). Greater improvements were seen in people with Type I & Type II diabetes (Akilen).


Beet Juice

Studies have shown that beet juice can also assist in improving blood pressure. The nitrate in the beet juice is converted within the body into nitrite, which helps vasodilate (widen) blood vessels that reduce overall blood pressure. Beet juice has been shown to be part of a ‘”natural’ low-cost approach for the treatment of some cardiovascular disease” (Webb). The particular study showed improvement in one to two hours after volunteers ingested beet juice. The study used two cups of beet juice before each test, so consuming enough juice in an ordinary day seems quite reasonable.


Cayenne Pepper

Another spice that studies have shown may improve blood pressure is cayenne pepper. It contains a natural chemical compound called capsaicin that promotes vasodilation as well as improvements in sodium retention, both of which lead to improved blood pressure (McCarty). About a half teaspoon of cayenne pepper in water can help improve blood flow and assist in removing excess sodium from the body. Cayenne pepper can be used on a wide variety of foods to add flavor and assist in improved heart health.


Making a change to improve your dietary health and heart health does not have to be difficult. All of these items can be easily added to most regular dietary habits. Cinnamon and cayenne pepper can be added to food items or just combined with water to drink. Beet juice can be had with a meal or between meals. Small, simple changes and additions can make an impact, improve your overall health, and assist in managing healthy blood pressure.


CHES, ACE Health Coach, AFPA Nutrition & Wellness Consultant



  1. Akilen, Pimlott, Tsiami, Robinson N. “Effect of short-term administration of cinnamon on blood pressure in patients with prediabetes and type 2 diabetes.” October 23, 2013. Vol 29, Issue 10.


  1. McCarty, Dinicolantonio, O’Keefe. “Capsaicin May Have Important Potential for Promoting Vascular and Metabolic Health.” June 17, 2015.


  1. Webb, Patel, Loukogeorgakis, Okorie, Aboud, Misra, Rashid, Miall, Deanfield, Benjamin, MacAllister, Hobbs, Ahluwalia. “Acute Blood Pressure Lowering, Vasoprotective, and Antiplatelet Properties of Dietary Nitrate via Bioconversion to Nitrite.” February 20, 2008.

sodium blood pressure

Managing your Health by Managing your Sodium Intake

Keeping blood pressure in check can be easier said than done because it is very easy to over-consume sodium on an average day. Roughly 75 million American adults have high blood pressure. High blood pressure is a major contributor to stroke and heart disease. In college I often had to rewrite diets as part of classwork and I always noticed that sodium was the hardest to improve because so many foods are high in sodium. Making a change to reduce sodium in your eating habits can be overwhelming. You may wonder why it is important to keep your sodium levels in check; let’s find out.


Sodium is needed in the body to function properly; after all, it is one of the electrolytes.  Sodium assists in muscle contraction and proper functioning of the nervous system. If your body has too little sodium, you may feel tired, lightheaded, or mentally foggy. Unfortunately, it is incredibly easy to consume far too much sodium on a daily basis. Some studies show the lowest amount of sodium with which a person can still function is around 500 milligrams (mg) per day (Thalheimer). That is roughly around two servings of canned beans.


The average American consumes over 3,000 mg of sodium a day, which is well above the recommended limit of 2,000 mg a day (Mayo Clinic). Sodium causes the body to retain water, so when a person consumes large amounts of sodium, it causes their heart to pump more liquid in their bloodstream. Simply, the heart is forced to work harder, which results in increased blood pressure. Therefore the heart gets overworked and wears out more quickly.


Certain foods are high in sodium, and it is important to limit them. Canned foods, frozen meals, boxed foods, and many restaurant items are often high in sodium. Sodium keeps food from spoiling quickly and gives it a longer shelf life. This is why high levels of sodium are added to these types of foods during processing. Fresh foods are always going to be a better option for lower levels of sodium. Flash frozen bags of fruits and vegetables are also fine options. Also, foods high in potassium are great options because potassium helps balance fluids by flushing excess sodium from your body (Myers).


As I mentioned earlier, it can be tough to improve sodium levels in the beginning. It seems that everywhere you turn, foods are packed with sodium. A good way to start is to focus on making a few small changes initially and build off of that. More food is processed today than at any time in the past. Excessive sodium increases blood pressure, known as the “silent killer” because it usually does not have obvious effects until a serious medical event occurs. If your blood pressure is higher than the doctor would like use some of this information to get yourself on the right track.



CHES, ACE Health Coach, AFPA Nutrition & Wellness Consultant





  1.  Get the Facts: Sodium and the Dietary Guidelines. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. April 2016.
  2. Myers, Jasmine. “What Does Potassium Do For Your Body?” what-does-potassium-do-body.  Accessed February 22, 2017.
  3. Thalheimer, Judith. “Spotlight On Sodium: How Much Is Too Much, and How Little Is Too Little.” Today’s Dietician. Nov 2014: Pg 26.
  1. Sodium: How to Tame Your Salt Habit. Mayo Clinic. April 16, 2016.