Is Gluten Free Making You Fat?

Our founder, Elika Kormeili, has been gluten free for several years now. One thing she has noticed is that gluten free doesn’t always been healthy and definitely not “low fat”. In fact, when she first went gluten free she gained weight!

Everyone thinks that gluten free is the latest health fade. Honestly, we don’t recommend it if you don’t have to. The experience of biting into a warm slice of sourdough bread is something Elika longs for. Unless you have a health condition that requires gluten free, it’s not something for the faint at heart or the weak of will.

If you are going gluten free here about some suggestions to help you prevent weight gain in the process.
1) Don’t forget that gluten free doesn’t mean “eat everything else”. You still need to use self control and watch your portions and calorie intake.
2) Watch out for those hidden sugars. Many gluten free breads have added sugar, agave or fruit juice. These calories still count.
3) Unlike wheat bread, we have yet to find a “low calorie” gluten free bread. Most of these breads of many of brown rice or oats which make them very dense in calories. So again, be mindful of your intake.
4) Try eating more lean proteins, fresh vegetables and fruits instead of dense gluten free products.

Here is to your health!

Stress Heart Risks: New Studies Show How Stress Affects Cardiovascular Health

Stress can make your hair fall out and cause you to lose sleep, and it can also seriously impact your cardiovascular health. According to a recent article in the Huffington Post, there is new research about the impact stress has on cardiovascular health.

According to one study, elderly with elevated cortisol levels over a period of time were more likely to be at risk for cardiovascular disease, and they also were more likely to have a history of stroke, diabetes, peripheral arterial disease, and coronary heart disease. Dr ElisabethVan Rossum stated that “the data showed a clear link between chronically elevated cortisol levels and cardiovascular disease”.

 “In a very stressful situation [like unemployment], you can actually get a severe release of adrenaline and sympathetic nerve discharges that cause the heart to beat irregularly,” said John Higgins, MD, a sports cardiologist at the University of Texas Health Science Center in Houston.

Proof again that stress is bad. Are you burned out? Contact us to find out about our 14-Day Stress-Bursting Challenge. Your mind and body will thank you!

4 steps to prevent burnout

There is so much information out there about the negative impacts stress has on one’s health. From put your at risk for heart disease to impacting your sleep. Stress can do a number on your body. What can you do to prevent burning out?

Just like anyone is, Elika is under a lot of stress. Stress from multiple obligations and various deadlines. In fact, lately, Elika’s sleep was impacted by her stress and she began to notice the signs that her body is under too much stress.

Here is Elika’s 4 step burnout prevention prescription:
1) Identify what is causing worry/stress in your life.
2) Is it something you are not doing that needs to be done? If so, schedule some time in your calender now to make sure it gets done.
3) Establish appropriate boundaries to prevent those pesky “time thieves”.
4) Make sure to get adequate rest. Lack of sleep is also a stressor on the body.

Need some help getting through the rough patch? We are just a call/click away.

Did you try these steps? What was your experience?

If you want to be healthy for life, don’t exercise!

That’s right, you heard us-don’t exercise! Now, before you run and tell your personal trainer or your doctor that you don’t need to exercise-read this!

If you want to be healthy for a lifetime (more than just weight loss) then you need to defy the temporary role exercise  plays in your life.

The biggest factor in determining how long you will work toward getting yourself in shape is motivation. When we start a new exercise program, none of us plan on quiting. In time, it gets difficult to stay motivated, we begin to get bored! The problem is not determination or will power.
Many of us are not excited about the idea of “exercise”, we are excited about what comes with exercise (weight loss, a six pack, more energy, etc). As a result, we set ourselves up to fail from the start, we are bored before we begin.

Some people love running on the treadmill, but for some of us-it feels like a hamster wheel. The idea of exercise doesn’t seem “fun” or “natural” and we can come up with many things we would like to do instead. It’s a chore that most of us force ourselves into doing.

If this sounds like you, don’t exercise. Instead, find an activity that you enjoy. The trick is to find an activity that incorporates fitness into it.

Here are some examples:
1) Play a sport (that you enjoy)-maybe basketball, football, hockey or soccer. Get a few of your friends together and play. If your friends don’t enjoy it, you can find others to play with via Facebook or Craigslist.
2) Go hiking. Discover new trails and new scenic routes. The fresh air will do you wonders.
3) Just dance. It could be elegant or just jumping up and down, and being silly to music.
4) Go for a walk. Yes, it can be that simple.
5) Swimming can be especially fun on a hot day.

Now, we realize that FUN is in the eyes of the beholder. To one person walking may be recreational but for another it could be exercise. One person may enjoy dancing while another doesn’t. Whatever you do, YOU MUST ENJOY IT! No way around that, if you don’t enjoy it, then it feels like a chore and you won’t stick to it.

Remember, when you are enthusiastic and having fun, you will get consistency. Oh and if you are like us, you will need to switch activities ever now and again, so as to break the routine!


Healthy Living Begins At Home

September is a busy month, student’s go back to school, traffic gets more congested, it is Thryoid Cancer Awareness month and Childhood obesity awareness month.  Childhood obesity is no joke. It continues to be a serious problems in the United States.

At Center for Healthy and Happy Living, our Founder Elika Kormeili, understands that speciality diets are not just about food allergies, but also for overcoming obesity and diabetes. Did you know your diet can also impact your Thyroid? 
According to the Defeat Diabetes Foundation “over the past 30 years the prevalence of overweight children has tripled. One in three American children remains overweight or obese. More than 12 million young people, aged two to nineteen years, are considered obese. Obese 10-14 year olds have an 80% chance of being obese as adults”.
Doctors are diagnosing overweight children with Type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol and hypertension.

The statistics are frightening-but how did we get here?
Simply said it’s the result of poor diet and lack of physical activity. We live in a society where television and video games serve as backup babysitters in some homes. For many of us, the majority of our meals are eaten outside the home. We are constantly bombarded with advertising for unhealthy foods.

Obesity does not just lead to medical and physical health problems, it also impacts our emotional health. With obesity comes isolated, poor self-esteem, and depression.

So what do we do NOW?
1) First we need proper education. Both children and parents need to be educated about proper nutrition and the importance of physical activity.
2) Support for families to incorporate healthy lifestyle changes into their already overwhelming and busy lives.

At Center for Healthy and Happy Living, we believe that everyone WANTS to be at their best and to succeed, we also need support in reaching our goals. Education is a key factor. I often laugh at the irony that our cars come with an owner’s manual but our bodies and children don’t. Throughout our lifespan, we need to learn how to create a healthy lifestyle and it is a decison that we make, a goal that we re-declare everyday!

Ready to get started eating a healthier diet? Not sure where or how to get started? Give us a call. We can help you get off to a healthy start so that you don’t end up sabotaging your own health goals.


Healthy Eating On The Road (Food Allergy Friendly Advice)

At Center for Healthy and Happy Living, our clients, just like you are busy professionals, parents, and students. They frequently ask, Elika Kormeili, our resident food allergy therapist, how to eat healthy while away from home. We all have preferences for types of food we enjoy, however, when you are on a restricted diet (due to food allergies, diabetes, or even religious reasons) eating away from home can be especially anxiety provoking. Perhaps you travel for work, work in the field, are planning a vacation, or simply trying to survive a date, here are some suggestions just for you!

Twenty Tips For Healthy Eating On The Road:
1. Do your research. Find restaurants that offer healthy options on their menu. Call the restaurant or hotel in advance to see how they can accommodate your dietary needs. Most places will accommodate you if they have advance warning. If they can’t/won’t then don’t feel obligated to give them your business.

2. If there are certain foods /snacks that you love, pack them! Some examples are raw nuts, individual potions of nut butters, protein bars, 100 calorie packs and canned tuna in water.

3. Take dry food with you i.e. bread/pasta (especially if you have gluten or soy allergies). You can have the restaurant cook it for you.

4. Find a hotel with a kitchen or kitchenette and perhaps do some grocery shopping.

5. Tell the waiter not to bring chips or bread to the table: if you are starving you won’t make healthy food choices AND you will stuff yourself with bread/chips.

6. Instead of sugary sodas order iced tea or club soda with lime.

7. Have the server dilute your soda with club soda or mix regular soda with diet soda. The regular soda will stay on the bottom so if you drink it with a straw by the time you’re halfway through you won’t taste the difference.

8. If you insist on dessert-share it!

9. Eat slowly. That’s right this actually requires putting your utensils down.

10. Stay away from buffets and “all you can eat” places. Just because you can eat it all doesn’t mean you should.

11. Take the time to enjoy your meal. That means no multi-tasking. Do you actually remember the last time you tasted your food?

12. Stay away from anything that says fried, breaded, glazed or battered. Instead look for steamed, grilled or sautéed.

13. Leave some food on your plate. Despite that your parents taught you, those leftovers won’t do any good for the starving children in Africa.

14. Salad can be a calorie bomb! Lightened it up by skipping the dressing, or having dressing on the side. 

15. Remember you eat to live so don’t live to eat.

16. Use all your senses to make your meal a pleasant experience, that way your food isn’t your entertainment.

17. Be cautious of liquid calories: coffee, cocktails, and juices.

18. Try to have veggies at every meal.

19. Eat at least 1 hot meal everyday.

20. If it doesn’t taste the best-don’t ingest! Calories are calories even when they don’t taste good.

Bitter Sweet Surprises: Hidden Sugars and Your Health

At Center for Healthy and Happy Living, Elika Kormeili (the food allergy therapist), works with many individuals and families to effectively reduce and manage their sugar intake. Perhaps you know someone who is avoiding sugar for health reasons? Perhaps you are a person who needs to avoid sugar because of food allergies, diabetes, or sugar addictions. If so then you definately want to keep reading.

According to a recent LA Times article, the FDA wants to study how consumers will react to clearly labeling “hidden sugars” on nutrition labels.

It may take a while before this takes place. In the meanwhile, do you know where your sugar comes from? How savvy are you at identifying ‘hidden sugars’?

Step 1: Look at the ingredient list

Step 2: Avoid products that list sugars as one of the top 5 ingredients

Step 3: Natural sugar is okay i.e. fructose in fresh fruit and lactose in dairy products.

Here is a list of hidden sugars to watch out for:
corn syrup (any variation of it); dextrose; glucose; fructose; oligofructose; polydextrose; sucrose; maltose; maltol; D-manose
galactose; crystalline fructose; any type of syrup; “malt”; cane juice; cane sugar; evaporate cane juice; sugar alcohols such as maltitol, sorbitol, xylitol.

*To determine the calories you consume in sugar, multiple the grams of sugar by 4 (25g=100calories which is the daily recommended max by American Heart Association).

You can read the LA Times article here.

Are you ready to reduce your sugar intake and manage sugar cravings? Check out our Sweet Endings: Eliminate Sugar Cravings Package and find out how we can help you.

Ever wonder if you need strength training or cardio? What to eat before a workout?

Are you confused about your workout?

As a lifecoach helping people live healthier lives, Elika works with a lot of people who get confused between all the cardio hype and all the push for strength training. Then comes the confusion about what to eat and when. Is it carbs before a workout and protein after? Do you gulp down a not so tasty protein shake before a workout and then rush because you only have 15 minutes after your workout to have another protein shake? Well, Elika decided to ask someone that she trust, Anna Weiss. Elika also made sure Anna practices what she preaches (and trust me she does).

As a therapist and coach, Elika knows that many of us think that “I can never be that disciplined”, or “I will never be that toned”, or “sure easy for her to say-she probably doesn’t eat anyway” and our favorite “how can I have a life, go out to dinner, eat with my family while doing all this?” Need help challenging these self defeating thoughts? That’s where working with a life coach can help!

Changing your body is HARD! It does take commitment but so doesn’t have to be a  miserable process!

There is so much debate about cardio vs strength training-which is more effective for what? Is one better for weight loss? Why is it important to do both?
It is important to do both cardio and strength training. Cardiovascular exercise is very effective at burning calories, thus, along with a calorie deficit, one can lose body fat effectively. When beginning a weight loss program, it is good to start with cardio and calorie cutting to drop the pounds. The strength training is also important though. Muscle tissue takes energy to build and maintain, thus, one’s metabolism is raised. When you replace lean muscle mass for fat, you actually are making your body more efficient at burning calories. Lots of women skip the strength training when trying to lose weight because they don’t want to get “bulky”. Just look at the bikini competitors to see that lifting weights (in combination with cardio and smart eating), will create a nice, lean yet curvaceous figure.

How do you get past a plateau?
Plateaus occur when you do the same routine day in and day out. I see lots of people on the Elyptical at the gym everyday and their bodies don’t change month to month. In order to make changes, you need to mix it up. Do different body parts each day. Another important thing to keep in mind, and this is very important, most people don’t work out hard enough. If you want dramatic changes in your physique, you have to SWEAT. If you leave the gym looking pretty, you did not work out hard enough! Thirty minute light cardio workouts are better than nothing, but in order to see changes, you need too feel like you really worked out. Some people hate this feeling, but when you start seeing the results, that yucky feeling is replaced with a good endorphine rush and sense of accomplishment!

How do you find time to fit it in? How do you stay motivated?
You don’t FIND the time for exercise. You MAKE the time. It has to be a priority. I stay motivated because I feel so much better when I am in my best shape. I like the confidence it gives me. I like inspiring others to get started. I also like motivating other moms who think they can’t get their body back after having kids or that you have to stay in a cover-up by the pool because you’re 40!

Assuming you don’t want to be a bodybuilder but you want to lean out your body and strengthen it-is there exercises you recommend?A program that combines cardio with strengthening exercises works well for leaning out. Bootcamp-style classes, Crossfit, P90X are good examples of this. I really recommend weight lifting though. It doesn’t have to be heavy, just some resistance to build nice definition so that the body has nice curves as the fat comes off. Exercises I recommend are squats and lunges for the lower body. For the upper body, shoulders, biceps, triceps. These are good areas to focus on for the beginner. Women often complain to me that their arms are saggy. The lunges and squats are good for lifting and firming up the butt and thighs.

Given that muscles weigh more than fat-how should you track your success? Are measurements effective (i.e. your gluts get stronger and lift your butt would that in turn make your measurements increase?)
Many people (especially women) get their feedback from the scale. I really recommend shying away from your scale. It only measures your gravitational pull towards the Earth. Not how you look! Go by what you see in the mirror and how your clothes fit. A few months ago I noticed all my pants were big on me – in the waist and the butt. Now I notice the waist lines are big but the glutes are filling in and the butt area is getting snug. This gives me great feedback that all my effort to build glutes is working. My weight is probably the same or heavier. Doesn’t really matter. Some men and women may want a personal trainer to take before and after measurements and/or photos to track their progress.

What should you eat before a workout (other than protein shake)? What should you eat after?
About 3-6 hours before your workout, eat a meal consisting of complex carbohydrates and lean protein. One to two hours before, have some form of carbs, complex or simple, to give you energy during your workout. Drink plenty of water while exercising – about 8 oz for every 15 minutes of exercise. Some examples of good pre-workout meals are cottage cheese with fruit, a slice of whole wheat bread with almond or peanut butter, a bowl of all grain cereal with milk. Post workout meal should include some lean protein, like 6 oz of flank steak or chicken breast, about 4 oz of a complex carb like brown rice or quinoa, and a serving of veggies.

What do your meals look like in a typical day/week?
Well, I am on a body building diet, ie “clean diet”. It is very effective for leaning out and maintaining muscle mass. I eat six smaller meals a day that consist of very lean meats, whole grains, lots of fresh veggies like asparagus and spinach. I occasionally have a protein shake if I’m in a pinch for time and need post-workout protein. I drink about 3/4 to 1 gallon of water per day (keep in mind a sweat a lot from the intense workouts). I love non-fat Greek yogurt because you can get about 18 grams of protein for about 120 calories. I avoid cheese, most bread unless it’s whole wheat, granola and granola bars, pasta, and desserts. Also, anything that’s fried. I do allow myself one cheat meal per week.

What if you are eating out or eating with others? i.e. kids, husband, friends who do not have the same fitness goals?That tends to be tricky. In order to be successful, I pre-cook all my food for the week and freeze the meals in baggies. That way, I can cook for the family and ensure that I follow my diet. In restaurants, I will let myself have a cheat meal, or, if it’s not time for a cheat meal, I order a salad with low cal dressing and eat half of it. Most restaurants will let you substitute french fries for salad or fruit.

Anything else you would like to add?
When in doubt, consult a professional. Either a trainer or check out websites like There are many resources out there for any budget.

Thanks Anna for your input and inspiration! Feel free to show Anna some love and give her some support via Facebook Anna Weiss, NPC, Bikini Competitor.

Thyroid Health, Food Allergies and Weight Management

As a food allergy therapist, Elika frequently feels frustrated when her patients report that their doctors made adjustments to their thyroid medication based on labs instead of how the patient feels. The idea of treating the patient and not the disease can be puzzling for some physicians.

Weight loss is difficult enough. Ever have a hard time finding the energy to go about your day? Well, guess what your thyroid can make it even worse. A thyroid that is not working properly can affect your mood, your sleep and your weight.
Look out for unexplained changes in weight (the binge you try to forget does not count as “unexplained”).

Food allergies and food sensitivities could be contributing to your Thyroid health and your weight management.

Hypothyroidism is when your thyroid is not producing enough thyroid hormones. This results in weight gain in addition to it’s impact on your mood.

Hyperthyroidism is when they thyroid produces more hormones that the body needs. This results in unexpected weight loss or difficulty putting on weight.

If you or a loved one suspect a thyroid condition, please seek treatment. A great first step is blood work through your primary doctor. That may be sufficient for some of you. If you really want to show your thyroid who is boss. Find a great holistic health practioner. They are better at treating the whole person and not just the disease.

Do your research and find someone that is qualified and that you feel comfortable with. Chances are if you don’t believe in what they say then you won’t do as they instruct.

Also, please support others with thyroid conditions obtain quality healthcare. Many doctors are unable to diagnosis thyroid disorders and some have outdated knowledge of how to treat such patients. You can view and sign the petitition here.

Your partner in health and happiness.

5 Calorie Cutting Tips Even If You Have Food Allergies

Elika is not a fan of dieting, she prefers creating healthy lifestyles that you can maintain. That said, as a food allergy therapist, Elika appreciates that for health reason, some diets are healthy and effective. People frequently ask our founder, Elika Kormeili, about ways to cut calories and eat less. Here are a few tips that you can incorporate into your healthy lifestyle.
1) Use smaller plates:
Don’t knock it until you try it, many of us (myself included) grew up with the lesson that we have to clean our plates so why not use smaller plates?

2) Stay away from family style:
Don’t bring all the food to the table, if you insist on having seconds go to the kitchen and get some. If you are anything like me, you will be too lazy (this is where being lazy is to your advantage).

3) Don’t talk with your mouth full:
Ever tried carrying on a conversation during a meal? It’s difficult with your mouth full. Try some dinner time conversation, who knows you might learn something interesting.

4) Chew your food:
For all those you believe we can digest unchewed food, let me set the record straight-WE CAN’T. We don’t regurgitate our food so make sure that you chew it properly the first time and not just devour it whole.

5) Put the fork down:
Do you look like a starved prisoner while eating? Are you shoving the next bite of food into your food before you swallowed the last bite? Have no fear-your food won’t walk off your plate. So take your time, go ahead and put your fork down in between bites. Eating slower gives your body time to receive signals from your brain that you are full.