To be, or not to be.. Gluten Free

Did you know that only about 1% of us need to be on a gluten free diet? The main reason is because of an autoimmune disorder called Celiac Disease.

Most people do not have to worry about gluten and SHOULD eat whole grains as part of a balanced diet.

Now I personally know many people will argue with me on this point and have many things to say about cutting out gluten. But I got my research about this topic from an article from Jillian Michaels. And I’m sorry, but she’s pretty much my Role Model and I look to her for advice (Not personally.. .ahahah I wish!!)

She states that in recent reports the gluten free market in North America was $4.2 billion!!! There are other reports out there that indicate that healthy people are spending their money on gluten free products that they don’t need.

I know when I go grocery shopping I see all these products everywhere I go. What’s gluten? Why do people try and stay away from it? Read below.

Gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley, and rye, and it’s a common protein source and processed food filler. In fact, you’ll find it in many foods, medications, and everyday items — not just your bread and cookies. Other foods like cereal, soy sauce, whey products, alcoholic beverages, such as beer, and even beauty products, such as lip balms, may also have gluten in them too.

There are some people — about 1 in 100 — who suffer from an autoimmune disorder called celiac disease whose small intestines cannot process gluten properly and it causes a serious response in their digestive system. Unless you have celiac disease or are allergic to gluten, going gluten-free will not give you no additional health benefits.
I know there are many people out there that experience bloating, cramping, headaches or some sort of other discomfort after ingesting foods that contain gluten. 

This would be a matter of having a gluten allergy or non-celiac gluten sensitivity. In this case, talk to your doctor!! This would be a case where you may want to avoid products with gluten in them!

HOWEVER, guess what? The average person will not get any additional health benefits by going Gluten Free. These products may even be less healthy unfortunately. There was a study that was done here in Canada regarding gluten free and regular grocery items. They compared 56 ordinary grocery items and gluten free products. What was the outcome? It’s crazy. The gluten free products were a whopping 242% pricier than the gluten containing versions!!

Believe it or not, gluten is NOT harmful to your health and guess what? It is not making you gain weight. I know it’s easier to think that Gluten Free products are a better alternative, but you’re wrong. (I KNOW, how dare I tell you you’re Gluten is found in many whole grain foods that have a wide range of vitamins, minerals and fibre that are very important to a health diet.

People who eat 3 servings of whole grains a day are 30% less likely to develop type 2 diabetes. The best way to control your body sugar levels throughout the day and to avoid diabetes, you need to have the right mix of healthy carbs!!

Whole grains are also the vehicle for many of nature’s disease fighters, like phytochemicals (Wth is that? Phytochemicals are chemical compounds that occur naturally in plants. Some are responsible for color and other organoleptic properties, such as the deep purple of blueberries and the smell of garlic.) Without these foods, we’d be prone to cancer, heart disease, and more. So when you’re cutting out gluten for no real reason, you’re losing all of the nutritional benefits found in foods with gluten.

Gluten-free foods aren’t better for your health. Don’t be fooled — gluten-free doesn’t automatically mean “low calorie” or “healthy.” In fact, gluten-free foods are not only more expensive, but full of extra calories and sugars to make up for taste and texture when alternative products are swapped. They also tend to have less fibre than their gluten-containing counterparts. Unless people are careful, a gluten-free diet can lack essential nutrients since a lot of the gluten-free products tend to be low in B vitamins, calcium, iron, zinc, and magnesium. Another rule of thumb, don’t confuse “gluten free” with “low carbohydrate,” some gluten-free pastas are actually higher in carbohydrates than regular pasta.

Weight loss comes from balanced, healthy diets — gluten free or not. When you’re trying to lose weight, the key is to make conscious choices about eating whole, real foods and getting produce without pesticides, and meat without hormones and antibiotics. If you need to go gluten-free, consult your doctor or a nutritionist to determine the best eating plan for your lifestyle, but in general, select more fruits, vegetables, lean meat and more naturally gluten-free grains, like brown rice or quinoa. Also, keep in mind that some gluten-free foods can be processed in factories that also process gluten foods leading to cross contamination.

If you want to lose weight, you shouldn’t cut out an entire nutrient in your diet, such as gluten. Save money and focus on creating a calorie deficit while eating a variety of organic, nutritious foods and exercising regularly in order to maintain a healthy lifestyle.

Hope this helped you if you have been back and forth whether or not to go gluten free!
Have a wonderful Monday!



What do Healthy People Do?

Sometimes when I’m at the gym I find myself wondering how these healthy people get to look like they do and how they do what they do.  Obviously they are in on some sort of secret right?  I know they must all starve themselves, surround themselves with each other so they all can be just as glamorous as the other…

Like how did Bob Harper and Jillian Michaels get to look the way they do?  They’re rich and famous, they obviously have paid for personal trainers, surgeries and botox, right?

I’m constantly in awe of all these healthy people that I see in the media, at the gym and in public.  I’m constantly trying to come up with a new trick or way to lose weight and look good.

So just listen to me when I say this, listen closely… THEY. WORK. HARD.

They eat clean.  These people workout.  These people CARE about their bodies.  They know that this is their only body they’ll live in.. so why not make it the healthiest..

So forget what I said about me being in awe of these people and wondering how they get to their healthy body weights…. Because I KNOW!!! So let’s talk a little…Here’s a few real facts on what exactly these healthy people do —

Numero Uno – Healthy people go to the gym regularly!! YUP! I’m sorry, but you’re just going to have to get up and move.  Get off the couch, get out of bed…  It doesn’t matter if it’s a walk around the block, a bike ride to the store or a swim at the local swimming pool (indoor or out).. all that matters is that you get up and move.

Number TWO:  They LIFT!

Yup – move over ARNOLD, Danielle’s in town!!  Healthy individuals lift weights, they run, they go to the local Zumba or Body Pump class.. pretty much – they move their asses and they PUMP IT UP!!!


That’s right.. you don’t have to live off of crackers and water..

So yes.. the healthy people eat!!!  And guess what?  They actually eat quite a bit.  When you’re working out you’re going to need to eat even more.  You need to eat more to ensure that you replenish your body to help get your muscles sexy and strong!!

Clap, clap QUATTRO!!! I will say this slowly…. they… don’t…eat… PROCESSED foods!!

So when you’re having a sweet craving, I would suggest NOT to reach for the 100 calorie snack pack — Grab a fruit!! Healthy individuals reach for unprocessed, natural foods.  So guess what will be your best friends?  Fruits, veggies and protein!!


So believe it or not eager beavers, your body needs to rest!!!! You need a good solid 6-8 hours of sleep a day – I know, our bodies are needy for rest.. Oh those selfish bastards!!

6. Healthy people do all this stuff consistently.

CONSISTENCY IS KEY!! Yes, I’m sorry to burst your bubble.  But if you want results, guess what?? WORK HARD EVERYDAY!! Trust me, I am the worst at this.  I will get motivated for a few days and then BOOM! I’m not back at the gym for 2 weeks – Yah, I know I suck. I need to practice what I preach.. but whatever!! I’m trying to make a point.  Healthy individuals eat, sleep, breathe HEALTHY LIVING.  These guys don’t just go to the gym when they’re feeling inspired.

They go when they want to sleep… they go when they would rather be out shopping, partying or watching their favourite shows.  Why the hell do they do this?  Because the view it as something their body needs…

Oh.. and guess what?  They consistently eat well..   their food journals don’t look like a crazy roller coaster of food choices.

7. Healthy people listen to and embrace their body.

This is simple, take care of your damn body.  LOVE your body… love yourself.  Take care of every part of your body and every curve.  Because really, self-loathing is so totally not in right now.  Your body makes you UNIQUE!  And that’s why people love you for YOU!!

#8 – Mmmmmm COOKIES: Yes, healthy individuals TREAT themselves:

My last point I’ll give you the good news…. HAVE A COOKIE!!!! mmmmmm chocolate chip cookies from Tim Hortons…..So these healthy individuals indulge in occasional treats and they DONT feel bad about it.

So… here’s the thing my lovelies, these healthy individuals that you strive to be like IS achievable.  Just fuel your body with healthy choices, get your butt doing squats and go run around the block.  And also, please ensure you give your body the rest it deserves.

You CAN do this, and I know you will!!

Have a wonderful weekend!!

-Danielle Michelle

How to get started!

How do you get started? It looks like you already have. The simple fact is that you can change your life by changing your mind. Nothing is impossible for the willing mind! We all have the power to gain control of our lives, reach our goals, and live our dreams. The challenge is locating, nurturing, and believing in your ability to do so.

You’ve worked out before, and you have some experience with eating right. But now you’re ready to take things up a notch and get the body you’ve always wanted. Here’s what you should do:

1. Clean the crap out of your cupboards.So you think you know how to eat healthfully? Let’s see…how many boxes of crackers and bags of chips do you have lying around? How often do you cook white rice or refined pasta? Processed foods contain more endocrine disruptors (Endocrine disruptors are chemicals that may interfere with the body’s endocrine system and produce adverse developmental, reproductive, neurological, and immune effects in humans) than you can shake a stick at, and youwant them out of your life.

2. Replace it with whole foods. Fresh, whole foods like vegetables, fruits, lean meats, low-fat dairy products, and whole grains should be the focus of your diet.

3. Get on board with strength training. Let me guess: Whenever you’ve tried to lose weight in the past, you’ve done cardio…and more cardio, and more cardio. Cardio is great (in fact, I encourage it as “extra credit” toward weight loss), but it doesn’t help you maintain metabolism-boosting muscle and it doesn’t burn as many calories as circuit-training.

4. Know your target heart rate. To get the maximum calorie burn in the shortest possible time, I recommend exercising at a high intensity — 85 percent of your maximum heart rate.  To find out your target heart rate just visit this site:

5. Keep track of what you eat. The formula for weight loss is simple: You need to burn more calories than you eat. That means you need to be aware of how many calories you put into your body so you can stay on track. I personally keep a food diary.  I record everything that goes in my mouth.  Pretty much if you eat it, record it.  I like the old fashion way, just writing it in a food journal, but I know many people who use Apps on their smart phones.  Apps such as “My Fitness Pal” and “Lose It”  Both these apps have thousands of foods that have already been added with their nutrition information.

6. Evaluate your habits. If you’ve tried to lose weight before but weren’t successful, ask yourself what was standing in your way. Are you an emotional eater? Do you take an all-or-nothing approach that sets you up for failure?  What I’ve done in the past is keep record of when you eat when NOT hungry.  I mean, if you get stressed out and find that you’re turning to food, write it down.  Write down the date/time and how you’re currently feeling.  This will help you realize how you’re feeling when you turn to food.  It’ll help evaluate if you’re actually hungry or if you’re hunger is triggered by something else.

The first thing you need to understand is how your emotions and your behaviors affect your weight. You need to commit all your mental resources toward change. Learn how to take control of negative self-image and poor self-esteem through journaling, positive affirmations, visualization, and behavior-modification techniques. It’s also important to build a support system and communicate with your family and friends so they know what you need and how best to support you. Identify temptations and “trigger foods” (foods that you have a hard time controlling) in your life so you can modify your daily routine and behavior. Next, you must learn how and what to eat. Learn how to make healthier choices and find out what the right types of foods are for your individual metabolism. Then educate yourself about calories. How many is your body burning daily? How many are in the foods you are eating? How many do you burn when you exercise? Starting to get the picture? Weight loss is simple math. A pound is 3,500 calories — so to lose a pound you will need to burn 3,500 calories more than you take in. It’s “calories in” versus “calories out.”

This is where the exercise comes in. Exercise is the best way to get those “calories out” and burn fat. Get yourself acquainted with exercise. Find out the most effective ways to work out in order to burn the most calories. It’s also important to learn where your heart rate should be when doing resistance training and cardio, the proper form and purpose for each exercise you perform, and how to modify and progress your fitness routine to prevent plateau.


What exactly are processed foods?

Processed foods are a major contributor to weight gain, and they can harm your health in many ways, which is why it is imperative that you know how to spot them and avoid them.

Processed food is anything that has been altered from its natural state. It can be fruit that has been canned and blasted with chemical preservatives to make it last longer; it can be dehydrated fruits or vegetables, canned soda, or oils that have been chemically altered (hydrogenated) to increase their shelf life and enhance their flavor. It’s also those pesky refined grains. Regardless of how they are used, most of the time these processed foods have been stripped of a large part of their true nutritional content. Some processed foods, however — like frozen or prechopped veggies — can be a godsend, saving us time when cooking. They may not be as ideal as food bought in season from a local farmers’ market, but I’m a realist, and whole processed foods help us walk the right path to healthier lives.

The bad processed foods are those that are made with refined grains, vegetable oils, and added sugar. The thing about processed foods is that they can be harmful in many different ways. For example, you might think you’re eating healthy by having a salad with bottled fat-free ranch dressing, and you’d never even think about the fact that the dressing contains chemical flavor enhancers, such as MSG. Nonorganic processed meats often contain sodium nitrate and nitrite, which may contribute to colon cancer and metabolic syndrome. But you probably don’t think about that as you patiently wait for your number to be called at the deli counter. Are you starting to see the big picture?

The reality is, it’s a lot easier to talk about avoiding processed foods than to actually avoid them! Look at it positively: Eating more whole foods means eating the things we were meant to eat in the first place — things that have a real life and have a “mother.” We should be eating fresh fruits, vegetables, organic lean meats, organic dairy, and whole grains. All that other stuff is full of empty calories that will do nothing but hinder our ability to reach a state of maximum health and wellness.

If you shop at an all-organic market or food co-op, you’re already taking a step in the right direction; however, you still need to look out for processed foods. Check the labels on all the foods you buy. If you see any ingredients that look questionable, don’t buy the food! If you see an unpronounceable list of ingredients that look like gibberish, put the item back on the shelf! Go with foods that are truly natural and contain minimal ingredients. More specifically, don’t buy anything containing:

  • Anything not 100 percent whole wheat
  • Trans fats or hydrogenated oils
  • Corn syrup or high-fructose corn syrup
  • A chemical
  • MSG
  • Butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA)
  • Sodium nitrate or nitrite
  • Sodium benzoate
  • Potassium benzoate

15 of the WORST “Diet Tips”

Came across this article on the MSN website.  Found it pretty interesting, thought I’d share.

Here are 15 of the worst diet tips you can believe:

1. Fat makes you fat!!: Fats in chips, cookies, and greasy foods can increase cholesterol and your risk for certain diseases. But good fats, like nuts, avocados, and salmon, protect your heart and support your overall health

2. Stop snacking to lose weight. Eating in small, frequent amounts is a great way to curb hunger, control portion sizes, and make better nutritional choices, says Mike Clancy, CDN, a personal trainer at David Barton’s Gym in New York City. ‘Smarter snacks like nuts, fruits, and yogurt will keep your energy levels high throughout the day.’

3. A calorie is a calorie—and you should count them. ‘Not all calories are the same,’ says Clancy. ‘The type of calories, the timing of the calories, and the quality of the calories can significantly alter the effect of the calories on the body,’ he says. ‘Food creates reactions within our bodies and the type of food you eat is an important component in diets.’

For example, 50 calories of an apple will cause a different internal reaction than 50 calories of cheesecake, says Clancy. ‘The quality of the calories is also important because the chemicals, hormones, and general byproducts that are found within processed food effects the absorption of real nutrients.’ Quality calories are nutrient dense, like spinach. Calories that don’t contain any nutrients—also known as ’empty’ calories—are like the ones found in French fries.

Bottom line: Calories are important for understanding portion control, but they’re not the only factor in good nutrition, says Clancy.

4. Load up on protein.

Why that’s BS: Sorry, caveman lovers: eating lots of protein is not the key to healthy weight loss. Why? The body needs three macronutrients: Protein, carbohydrates, and fat, says Rania Batayneh, MPH, a nutritionist and author of the forthcoming The One One One Diet (published by Rodale, which also publishes Prevention), and focusing exclusively on protein for weight loss makes no sense. ‘You not only deprive your body of fibre and other antioxidants found in healthy carbohydrates—whole grains, fruits, and veggies—but you also run the risk of eating too much fat in your diet which can lead to high cholesterol and triglycerides.”

5. You burn more calories working out on an empty stomach.

Why that’s BS: Working out with or without food in your stomach doesn’t affect calorie burn—but skipping meals before sweat sessions may result in muscle loss, finds a study published in the Strength and Conditioning Journal. And before you settle for a sports drink, know this: While a quick sip of sugar energizes your muscles, the drink’s other artificial additives can be harmful to your health, says Sanda Moldovan, DDS, MS, CNS, a diplomat of the American Academy of Periodontology.

Instead, go for naturally sweet fruit, like bananas, peaches, and mangos before your sweat session. Or try an ounce of dark chocolate for the same caffeine fix you get from a half cup of coffee. ‘Chocolate also contains feel-good substances, called neurotransmitters, which are the same release during a ‘runner’s high,’ ‘ says Moldova

6. Eat every 2 hours to rev your metabolism.

Why that’s BS: Going four or five (or even eight!) hours between normally-sized meals will not make your metabolism slow down, says Monica Reinagel, MS, a nutritionist based in Baltimore. ‘Eating more frequently may help stave off hunger, which can help you fight temptation. But if you want to do this, you have to be careful to keep your meals and snacks really small,’ she says. ‘Otherwise, eating every 2 hours can simply lead to taking in too many calories over the course of the day.’

7. Swear off forbidden foods.

Why that’s BS: ‘We tend to be in ‘all or nothing’ mode when we diet and never seem to find a middle ground,’ says Batayneh. ‘You have to realize that you can’t have pizza, French fries, and chocolate cake all in the same day, but—with careful planning—you can enjoy these foods when they are presented to you. Just don’t go for seconds and share if you can.’ In fact, research shows that moderately indulging in ‘forbidden foods’ is what keeps people from bingeing on the stuff.

8. Drink your fruits and veggies.

Why that’s BS: While shoving five servings of fruits and vegetables into a juicer seems like a simple and efficient way to get the daily recommended amounts, it comes at a cost, says Batayneh. ‘Unfortunately, juicing fruits and vegetables removes one of their most valuable components: fibre. Found in the pulp, skin and seeds, fibre’s list of benefits ranges from filling you up to maintaining stable blood sugar levels.’ If you’re juicing more sweet stuff (fruit and carrots) than green stuff you’re also going to seriously spike your sugar. (Some juicers allow you to keep in the pulp, so that’s another option.)

9. Eat as few calories as possible.

Why that’s BS: ‘Ugh, awful tip,’ says Chrissy Carroll, MPH, RD, founder of Inspired Wellness Solutions, LLC. ‘When you cut your calories too low, your body acts as if it’s going into starvation mode and your metabolism slows down.’ But a reasonable goal, adds Carroll, is to cut approximately 500 calories each day through diet and exercise, which will lead to a healthy rate of weight loss of one pound per week

10. Say no to nuts.

Why that’s BS: Yes, nuts are calorie dense, but that doesn’t mean they can’t—or shouldn’t—easily be incorporated into a healthy diet when eaten in proper portions, says Carroll. A 2011 study in the Journal of The American College of Nutrition backs this up, with researchers finding that nut consumers, especially tree-nut consumers (think almonds, pecans and pistachios) had a lower BMI and smaller waist circumference compared to non-consumers.

Your move: remove a less nutrient-dense food from your meal plan and incorporate heart-healthy nuts instead.

11. Schedule regular detoxes.

Why that’s BS: ‘Your digestive system, kidneys, and liver are all actually fairly amazing at ‘detoxing’ your body on a regular basis,’ says Carroll. ‘There’s no need for special cleanses or juices.”

12. Eschew fatty egg yolks.

Why that’s BS: Let’s crack this case for good: A study from the University of Connecticut found that eating dietary cholesterol through egg yolks can actually boost a person’s HDL, or ‘good,’ cholesterol. ‘Compared to egg whites, which offer nothing more than protein, the egg yolk contains 100% of the carotenoids, essential fatty acids, vitamins A, E, D, and K,’ says Batayneh. ‘They also contain choline, which boosts brain and liver health, as well as reduces inflammation.’

In a way, eggs are the perfect food, says Kristin Kirkpatrick, MS, RD, manager of wellness nutrition services for the Cleveland Clinic Wellness Institute. ‘Enjoying them in moderation—less than 4 to 6 per week—is a perfectly healthy option.’

13. Your burn more calories eating your food raw.

Why that’s BS: ‘Many studies show that cooking method—heating, grilling, and microwaving, etc—makes a nutritional difference,’ says Kirkpatrick. ‘So while some food may be best eaten raw, that’s not the case for all foods.’

Oh, and if the whole myth about ‘negative calories’ (you know, the dubious idea that just the act of eating certain foods burns more calories then you actually take in from those foods) draws you to raw foods, think again. ‘Some foods do require more energy to digest than others, but to live on these so called ‘negative calorie foods’ results in unsustainable weight loss and can also slow your metabolism down, as well as break down muscle,’ says Batayneh

14. Too much sugary fruit makes you fat.

Why that’s BS: The sugar in fruit is not what makes you fat, since it’s unprocessed sugar found in its most natural state, says Psota. ‘Also, cutting fruit out of your diet is a poor choice because of all the fibre that you would be missing. Fibre keeps you full and the nutrients in the fruit nourish your body, which far outweighs the concern of natural sugar that you are consuming when eating, say, an apple.’

15. Chew mint gum to eat less.

Why that’s BS: Not to burst your bubble, but the lingering taste of mint can actually reduce the palatability of healthy food, finds researchers from the University of Buffalo. That means that when you spit the gum out and go for a snack, that candy bar’s likely to look—and taste—a lot more appealing than a carrot.