5 Healthy Meals to Make with Your Instant Pot

Spaghetti Squash with Chicken Sausage Meat Sauce

Recipe Adapted from: Keto In an Instant Cookbook By Stacey Crawford


  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 lb chicken Italian sausage
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped yellow onion
  • 28 oz can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 1/2 tbsp Italian seasoning blend
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp dried parsley
  • 1/2 tsp fine grind sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1/3 cup chicken broth
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 3 lb spaghetti squash washed and dried
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 1/2 tbsp grated parmesean cheese
  • 1 tbsp fresh basil ribbons (optional)


  1. Select Sauté (Normal). Once the pot is hot, add the olive oil, chicken sausage, garlic, and onions. Sauté, stirring continuously, for about 5 minutes or until the chicken is cooked.
  2. Add the crushed tomatoes, Italian seasoning, garlic powder, parsley, sea salt, black pepper, and chicken broth to the pot. Using a wooden spoon, stir and scrape the bottom of the pot to loosen any browned bits. Add the bay leaf.
  3. Using a paring knife, pierce the spaghetti squash 4 or 5 times on each side to create holes for venting the steam. Place the squash in the pot and on top of the sauce.
  4. Cover, lock the lid, and flip the steam release handle to the sealing position. Select Manual or Pressure Cook (High) and set the cook time for 8 minutes. When the cook time is complete, allow the pressure to release naturally for 20 minutes and then quick release the remaining pressure.
  5. Open the lid. Using a slotted spoon, carefully transfer the squash to a cutting board and set aside to cool.
  6. Add the tomato paste to the pot and stir. Select Sauté (Less or Low), replace the lid, and let the sauce simmer for 6 minutes.
  7. While the sauce is simmering, slice the cooled squash in half and use a spoon to scoop out the seeds. Using a fork, scrape the flesh to create the noodles.
  8. Transfer the noodles to a colander to drain, pressing down on the noodles with paper towels to expel any excess moisture. Transfer the noodles to a serving platter.
  9. Remove and discard the bay leaf. Ladle the sauce over top of the noodles and garnish with the Parmesan and basil ribbons (if using). Serve warm. Makes 6 servings.

Nutrition Information:
Calories: 230
Fat: 12g
Net carbs: 9g
Protein: 19g

Bone Broth

Credit: Laine Greenawalt, MS, RDN, LDN


  • 3-4lb chicken or beef bones
  • 2 medium carrots, scrubbed and cut in half
  • 1 medium parsnip, scrubbed and into large chunks
  • 3 celery ribs, with ends and leaves
  • 1 large yellow onion, quartered with skin and root end intact
  • 6 cloves of garlic, lightly crushed
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 8–10 peppercorns
  • Handful of fresh sage, rosemary, thyme and/or parsley
  • 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 4-5 cups Water
  • Sea salt to taste


  1. Place bones, vegetables, aromatics, peppercorns, herbs and vinegar into the pot of the Instant Pot.
  2. Add enough water to just cover the bones and vegetables in the pot.
  3. Place lid on Instant Pot and lock into place.
  4. Select ‘Manual’ setting and adjust the time to 120 minutes. When cooking is done, allow pressure to release naturally (10-20 minutes).
  5. Release any residual pressure using the vent valve before removing the lid.
  6. Strain the broth into a large bowl to separate the liquid from the solids.
  7. Transfer broth to glass jars with lids, leaving the lids off until the broth has cooled enough to be refrigerated, usually 1.5-2 hours. Makes 3 quarts of broth.

Steel Cut Oats

Recipe Credit: Cooking Light


  • 2 cups water
  • 2 cups fat-free milk
  • 2 cups steel cut oats
  • 1/2 cup dried cherries, coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 5 tablespoons light brown sugar, divided
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 3 tablespoons toasted chopped pecans


  1. Stir together water, milk, oats, cherries, and kosher salt in bowl of a 6-quart programmable electric pressure cooker, such as an Instant Pot. Cover Instant Pot, and fasten lid. Lock and seal steam valve. Set to HIGH pressure for 4 minutes. (The pot will take about 15 minutes to come up to pressure before the cooking program begins.) When cooking program ends, carefully release pressure by turning Pressure Release to VENT. (Steam is fully released when pressure valve drops.) Remove lid.
  2. Stir oats to incorporate any liquid on top; stir in 4 tablespoons brown sugar, butter, vanilla, and cinnamon until fully incorporated. Spoon about 3/4 cup oatmeal in each of 6 bowls. Sprinkle evenly with pecans and remaining 1 tablespoon brown sugar. Serve immediately.

Nutrition Information: Calories 357 Fat 8g Protein 10g Carbohydrate 63g

Vegetarian Chili

Recipe Credit: McCormick


  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 1 medium red bell pepper seeded and chopped
  • 1 medium yellow onion chopped
  • 1 large sweet potato cut into 1/2 inch chunks (about 2 cups)
  • 1 cup Water
  • 1 can black beans drained and rinsed, 15 1/2 ounces
  • 1 can diced tomatoes undrained, 14 1/2 ounces
  • 1 cup frozen whole kernel corn
  • 1 package McCormick® Original Chili Seasoning Mix


  1. Heat oil in Instant Pot on SAUTÉ function. Place pepper and onion in pot. Cook and stir 3 minutes. Add sweet potatoes; cook and stir 2 minutes. Add water. Stir in beans, tomatoes, corn and Seasoning Mix. Close lid. Set Valve to Seal.
  2. Select PRESSURE COOK (MANUAL); cook 7 minutes on HIGH PRESSURE. When done, quick-release the pressure. Open the lid once pressure inside the pot is completely released. (Check manufacturer’s manual for safe operating instructions.) Makes 6 servings.

Coconut-Blueberry Chia Pudding

Recipe Credit: The Healthy Meal Prep Instant Pot Cookbook by Carrie Forrest


  • 14 oz full fat coconut milk 1 can
  • 1 cup Water
  • 12 oz frozen blueberries 1 bag
  • 1 cup chia seeds
  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup pure maple syrup
  • 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • fresh berries for garnish (optional)


  1. Combine the coconut milk, water, blueberries, chia seeds, oats, maple syrup, and vanilla extract in the inner pot.
  2. Lock the lid into place. Select Pressure Cook or Manual; set the pressure to High and the time to 3 minutes. Make sure the steam release knob is in the sealed position. After cooking, naturally release the pressure for 5 minutes, then quick release any remaining pressure.
  3. Unlock and remove the lid. Pour the pudding into individual serving cups and refrigerate until it sets, about 1 hour. Serve cold garnished with berries, or cover tightly and refrigerate for up to 4 days. Makes 8 servings.

Nutrition Information: Calories: 390 Fat: 24g Carbohydrates: 42g Protein: 8g

Click the link for tips on how to use your instant pot to reduce waste:


Meeting & Exceeding Expectations: How To “Hack” Yourself for Success

Have you ever set a New Year’s resolution that you gave up on by February? Or have you ever disregarded a task simply because a spouse asked you to it, in a form of silent rebellion? Do you get frustrated with loved ones, friends, or clients that set goals for themselves and fail to keep them, time after time?

We do not all respond the same way to expectations, but we do see trends that allow us to group ourselves into different tendencies. Recently, some of the Case Specific team got together to read a book called The Four Tendencies by Gretchen Rubin. This book showed us one way to categorize ourselves based on how we respond to expectations, whether they be internal or external. Almost everyone falls into one of these categories: Obliger, Questioner, Upholder, or Rebel. Go ahead and take the quiz now to find out which you are: https://quiz.gretchenrubin.com/ We would definitely recommend the book, but here is a little explanation about what each tendency:


Are you always on time for lunch dates and meetings, but have a hard time sticking to waking up early and working out? You might be an Obliger. Obligers are great at meeting outward expectations (i.e. the expectations of others), but struggle to meet their goals when the only person counting on them is themselves. This is the most common tendency.

Obligers make great leaders and are regarded highly by their bosses, peers, and friends. They are very trustworthy and reliable. The downside of being on obliger is that they can get frustrated with themselves when they fail at their own internal expectations, largely because they are putting others needs before their own. The best way to “hack” this trait is to give yourself external accountability to meet your own internal goals. This might be an app like RateMyDay, keeping a food log that you plan on showing to your dietitian at your next appointment, or even just having a running buddy. Be careful not to put too many external expectations on yourself though. Obligers can easily experience burnout, and may go into what is called “Obliger Rebellion”. This is when Obligers feel so burdened from external expectations that they act in total defiance, often to the surprise of those around them. Focus on the goals that are most important to you, Obliger, and remember that saying “no” to one thing, allows you to say “yes” to something more important to you.


Do you set goals for yourself, and follow them without much struggle? Do you follow instructions to a T, even when they don’t seem to make much sense? You might be an Upholder. Upholders are great at meeting both internal and external expectations. This is because they value them equally. Upholders like rules and structure, and often struggle when there aren’t clear expectations set for them. They are very disciplined – even sometimes when it doesn’t make sense to be. They may not understand why it is difficult for others to meet expectations, when it comes so easily to them.

Change and ambiguity can both be difficult for Upholders. A way to “hack” coping with change could be to use that change (maybe its a new job, or moving to a new city) to start a new habit. Maybe its meditating every day, or maybe its something else. Schedule this new habit for a specific time of the day, and monitor this habit to track your consistency. This approach will give you a sense of structure and control, and can be very satisfying for an Upholder. Learn to be patient with the non-Upholders in your life. Upholders are a rare breed! Understanding the other tendencies will help you better know how to engage with others in a successful way.


In school did you sometimes ignore homework assignments when you felt that they were unnecessary? Do you like to explore all the possible options before making a decision? You might be a Questioner. A Questioner always does what they think is best. They need logical answers before taking action.

Questioners are great researchers and litigators, and are famous for asking “Why?” As kids, Questioners are often told that they ask too many questions. Instead of telling a Questioner, “Because I said so,” it would be better to give them a good reason for completing a task. If you give them a reason, they are much more likely to do it! Questioners sometimes experience what is called “analysis paralysis”, which is when the need for so much information makes it difficult for them to make a decision.

The best way to start a new habit as a Questioner is first establishing a solid purpose for this habit. Make it a useful habit, not just a habit for habit’s sake. Maybe losing weight feels pointless, but when you think about how much easier it will be to play with your kids without feeling tired, you will be more inclined to push forward. Get a FitBit or AppleWatch to track your progess. Getting more information about how your habit is progressing will make you more likely to stick to it.


Have you ever been about to take out the trash, but then your roommate asks you to do it, making you instantly not want to? Do you appreciate a less structured work environment? Does a morning routine sound unbearable and monotonous to you? You might be a Rebel.

Rebels are the least common tendency. Rebels tend to reject both inner and outer expectations, and even get a thrill from it. They like to do things their own way, on their own schedule. They don’t like being told way to do, and have a strong sense of identity. Rebels can often get frustrated by their own rebellious ways, especially when it interferes with getting things done.

Rebels do their best when they feel like they are being true to themselves. If they identify as a loving partner or parent, they will act in a way that affirms that identity by treating their partner or children with love and care. The revel in uniqueness, so an exercise habit like rock climbing or even pole dancing will get them to express their rebel spirit while getting a workout. Rebels do things because they want to do them. If a Rebel can tell themselves that they want to complete a certain task, they are much more likely to do it.

After taking the quiz associated with the book, we found out something interesting: among the Case Specific team, we have representation from all four tendencies! This affects how we exist in our personal and professional lives, how we engage with clients and each other, and how we reach our goals. We realized that our differences are what make us such a great team. Meet the different tendencies and how they have learned to “hack” their tendency to set them up for success:

Shannon, the Obliger

My name is Shannon and I’m an obliger! There’s a good chance I’m talking to fellow obligers, since that is the largest of the 4 tendency categories. In the past couple of months I’ve learned to own/hack my tendency and it really has changed my life! Let me explain. I am really good at helping other people, from family members, to friends to clients. I put others first and always have, you may even describe me as a peacekeeper or a people pleaser. I just want everyone to be happy! It really wasn’t until I learned about my obliger tendency that I was, first annoyed, but then delightfully aware of how to manipulate the tendency to my benefit. I was first irritated to learn I’m obliger. Why? Well it just doesn’t seem fair that it is literally my nature to not be able to help myself without external accountability, but yet I can meet the needs of anyone and anything around me (most of the time). But I was relieved to learn why I had been increasingly and increasingly feeling burned out and low energy in certain areas of my life. I was SO excited that there was a solution and that vicious cycle would halt it’s giant snowball effect in my life. 

Thankfully I have a lot of really good long term HABITS when it comes to food, health and wellness. So even with my obliger tendency it affected more of my emotional and mental health and energy rather than my physical health. I realized I was not making enough time for rejuvenating, relaxing, replenishing activities on a DAILY basis. Yes, daily, that is what it takes for us obligers to stop feeling like we are in the backseat and our crazy busy life is in the front seat. Daily reading, daily journaling, daily mid-day walks, daily singing, daily creativity, etc., I started doing something rejuvenating every day. You see, myself like many other obligers, never thought these things were “productive” so they never make it on the to-do list. However, including these things daily in the past several months have made me so much more productive. 

As a dietitian, I truly think my tendency is a blessing. I am able to better connect with the majority of my clients because I can really relate to what they are struggling with when they are falling short when trying to help themselves. I have been able to give examples from my own life and my clients tend to resonate with my examples. I explain to them how I have hacked my tendency and encourage them that they can too. Together we make a plan to include actual, realistic external accountability to accompany each of their goals. Whether it is a habit forming streak tracking app, a detailed food log, check-in appointments, accountability charts and gold star stickers, strategizing an accountability/buddy system with a close person in their life, etc., my clients are able to see how if they go outside of themselves for accountability, they can end up helping themselves in ways they never thought they could do. 

Allison, the Upholder

Hi! My name is Allison, and I have the upholder tendency. As a dietitian, it gives me satisfaction when others complete their goals/tasks that I set out for them. I find great desire in pushing my clients to help them reach their goals. As an upholder, I dislike making mistakes or letting others down. This makes me a better practitioner by staying up to date on the research and preparing to see a client before they come into the office. I think of myself as reliable and want my clients to feel they can trust me and count on me for help, guidance, and answers to problems they are having. 
Things I have to be aware of and the weaknesses this tendency creates is that sometimes it is hard for me to understand why someone can’t do something I am asking them to do. I notice more now when I am being impatient when clients don’t meet expectations I have set for them. Learning more about this tendency has allowed me to be more compassionate and find solutions for my clients who are struggling to meet our goals. I find such satisfaction in my personal life by living through a schedule and keeping commitments and goals I set for myself, but sometimes it’s hard for me to understand why others can’t do the same. This book has been eye opening to learn more about how others function and help me look at situations differently.

Andrew, The Questioner

Andrew here! When I first heard about this book, I dismissed it, and initially assumed it was an illegitimate measure of a person. I even told one of our teammates, “I think I am all the tendencies in different circumstances”. When the author stated in her Questioner chapter that “…Questioners question everything, and are likely to doubt the tendencies themselves, often thinking they do not fit into one specific tendency…” all I could do was laugh. It suddenly all made sense. My entire life spent subconsciously resisting everything that was commonly done, popular, or trending, always being more interested in my own path than what everyone else does, and my habit of hyper analyzing all decisions from every angle before coming to a conclusion. I was right that I have a tendency to uphold, obligate myself, and rebel, but only if I question it first and come to my own conclusion. Once I come to that conclusion, good luck stopping me (hence the unbreakable workout habits I uphold, my willingness to obligate 55 hours per week to helping other people one on one, or my rebellion from iphones and traditional beach vacations).

In many ways my tendency has nudged me to pursue the world of self-employment and build a private practice, online business and multiple business additions. Entrepreneur and Nutrition expert is a path that allows me to ask the most questions and come to my own conclusions. It has also allowed me to speak to nutrition with autonomy and set me up to focus on helping people using information I have intensely studied. With some obvious benefits, this tendency is equally responsible for my need to compare the neurotic details on two equally priced $8.00 items on amazon. It is also why I unintentionally drive people nuts when they ask my opinion and along with the desired simple reply I feel compelled to supply them with an essay style explanation of my reasoning (other questioners actually appreciate this). I have noticed that many of the people closest to me are questioners as well, particularly those I talk to most often. Our conversations flow logically, and the topics are always completely investigated by the time we are done, but others find us verbose.

Professionally, my need for thorough explanation has allowed me to be a great unbiased critic of research studies, conventional health advice, and emerging diet trends. Clients will often note my “knowledge” which may in part be due to my need to explain what I say. I have to work to intentionally simplify my comments to obligers and upholders to keep their attention and engage them. I have learned over the years to assess each clients desired level of detail, and supply that as needed. My desire to question things and come to a logical conclusion often makes me a naturally great fit for other questioners as well as rebels. The more we know about ourselves, the better we can help others!

Laine, the Rebel

At first, I was surprised to learn I fell into the rebel category, but the more I pay attention to my actions, the more I understand it. While I don’t overtly feel that I rebel against suggestions, I am likely to think I know a better way to complete a task and generally have to learn things on my own time, in my own way. When I need to get something done, I present myself with two choices – both actions that need to be completed. This way I feel like I have a choice while still being productive. For example, I could either fold laundry or do the dishes. Another strategy is to frame it as a challenge, e.g. You can’t get this task done in X amount of time. This motivates me to prove myself wrong. I think rebels really benefit from tying actions to their sense of self. If you view yourself as someone who is active, healthy, and happy, then it’s much easier to take the steps to make it so!

Green Veggie Orzo Salad

Not only is this pasta salad delicious, it’s rich in nutrients and will keep you satisfied for hours! (makes 8 servings)

recipe inspired by and adapted from Gimme Some Oven blog recipe: Herb-Lovers Lemony Orzo Salad (Link: https://www.gimmesomeoven.com/herb-lovers-lemony-orzo-salad/ )


  • 1 12 oz box whole wheat orzo (can also use other types of pasta or lentil/chick pea pasta)
  • 1 bunch fresh broccoli, rinsed and chopped into little stalks
  • 1/2 bunch fresh asparagus (I used about 15 stalks)
  • 1 15 oz can garbanzo beans (drained and rinsed)
  • 2 cups fresh baby spinach, chopped
  • 1 large cucumber diced
  • 3-4 Tablespoons of lemon juice (or the juice of 2 lemons)
  • 1 cup basil and 1 cup mint, chopped coarsely
  • 1/2 red onion, diced finely
  • 1/2 cup feta cheese
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste


  1. Cook whole wheat orzo (other other type of pasta) al dente per directions on the box. 3-4 minutes before the pasta is done, toss asparagus in the pot with the pasta to blanch.
  2. Take asparagus out with tongs and toss in ice bath, removing after a minute or so.
  3. Strain and rinse pasta, allowing to cool.
  4. In a large frying pan, saute broccoli with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil for roughly 5-7 minutes (should still be relatively firm).
  5. Toss together ingredients and season with salt and pepper to taste!

Nutrition Information

Calories: 405

Carbohydrates: 51g

Protein: 15g

Fat: 9g

Please, Don’t Call Me “Trainer”: Understanding Credentials in the Fitness Industry

By: Jeremiah Rowe, BS, CSCS, CPPS

I’m not writing this article to bash personal trainers out there. There are a lot who know their craft extremely well and offer incredible training. I have immense respect for anyone who goes above and beyond the minimal requirements to make sure he or she is offering a quality service. I do, however, want to differentiate between personal trainers (certified or not) and strength and conditioning coaches. Let me explain.

Personal training is currently not guided by any standards. I can think of 10+ organizations that offer their own personal training certification. Some of these are very high-quality programs that require months of preparation and background knowledge. Some offer an online course that you can read up on for a few hours and take an open book test and get your certificate in the mail a week or 2 later. Then you can go down to your local commercial gym, show them your piece of paper, and be on your way to training clients. The latter is the path taken by a vast majority of the personal trainers that I see.

Now, these trainers can give you a workout. They can make you sweat and maybe even throw up! Maybe you see some fat loss or muscle gain with them, and that’s great! However, are they able to walk you through an assessment that reveals physical limitations or areas of weakness? Can they modify exercises to work around injuries or joint disorders such as osteoarthritis? In most cases, I’d confidently say no. I’ve seen people who live rather unhealthy lives suddenly get interested in exercise, lose some weight over the course of a few months, and suddenly they’re a personal trainer taking clients. They know only what they learned for their own successes and use that as their only guide for training clients. A lot of this can be blamed on the rise of social media; online access has given under qualified people a voice that they probably shouldn’t have, and that’s scary when it comes to exercise.

Now, Let’s talk strength and conditioning. It would be irresponsible for me to ignore the fact that there are still several organizations that certify strength coaches. There will always be competition in that area. And I’m not saying that certifications are the end-all, be-all of athletic performance, either, as experience holds the most value. I’ll review my own experience with getting certified to set an example. Most would consider the “gold standard” certification of strength and conditioning to be the Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) from the National Strength and Conditioning Association. (NSCA). This is the route that I took when selecting a certification. Why? For one, it’s the most widely recognized by any hiring organization that cares. Everywhere you look for a job in the field, you can bet that this will be a minimum requirement for the position. Second, gaining your CSCS has certain prerequisites, like a bachelor’s degree. The standard for this is currently any bachelor’s degree (which is changing to only a strength coaching-related degree from an accredited college as of 2030). Third, it’s HARD TO GET. It took me 3-4 times starting to study, stopping, starting again, and over a year of dedicated studying before I was able to read/outline/study the entire 500+ page textbook and take my test. The result is me having that piece of paper (and a sticker!!!) that tells people I’m qualified. Rewarding; but still not enough to convince me that anyone who passes this can be a qualified coach.

That leads me into my third point, and what I feel is the most important differentiation between a personal trainer and a strength and conditioning coach. I’ve found over time in the strength and conditioning field that it’s highly intertwined with sports medicine. Many of the top strength coaches in the industry were previously physical therapists, physical therapist assistants, or follow and absorb information from top PTs like a sponge. I love the idea of creating a training environment that helps correct aches, pains, and injuries, while building muscle and gaining strength. It’s not rare to eliminate an issue that a client may assume will be with them for life in a few short weeks/months of intelligently programmed strength training. I’ve had clients show up to me with arthritic knees, herniated disks, low back pain, etc., and after a few weeks of training they tell me that their pain is completely (or mostly) gone. I LOVE that. After all, this industry exists to help people improve their quality and longevity of life. Having a client tell you what you’ve been doing with them is making drastic changes is incredibly rewarding. It is also a good opportunity to remind the client that THEY are the one putting in the work and fixing the problem. I’m just here to guide them. That is an empowering feeling for a client; finding out that they can take control of their life and minimize their chronic pain.

The problem is that, quite frankly, the vast majority of personal trainers don’t have the depth of knowledge to begin making those kinds of changes. It takes years of learning, practicing on yourself, and continuing education to get to a level of professional competence like that. It’s a never-ending learning process, and one that, even after my own 13 years of training, I’m still just beginning to grasp. A good coach will actively pursue furthering his or her education, always trying to learn new techniques, and give clients the best opportunity to improve, and learn. In my opinion, any less effort and self-discipline than that is simply unacceptable. So please, don’t call me a trainer. I’m a coach.

Jeremiah is the Lead Personal Trainer and Head Fitness Coach of Case Specific Wellness



Trying to Lose 10 Pounds by Memorial Day? Let’s Stop Right There.

Written By: Devon Kroesche, CSN Social Media Intern

Written By: Devon Kroesche, CSN Social Media Intern


Memorial Day Weekend is less than a week away, and many of us are packing our bags and headed to the beach for the first time in quite a while. Others may have plans for a backyard BBQ and pool party with friends. This unearths a wave of mixed emotions: the obvious excitement for a weekend getaway from the daily grind, and perhaps some lingering anxiety about donning a swimsuit and revealing your “beach body”. (more…)

Sleep and Your Waistline


Why adopting an “I’ll sleep when I’m dead” mentality is negatively affecting your weight (and a bunch of other things).

We’ve all heard about the importance of diet and exercise on health and performance, but did you realize sleep is just as important? With schedules that are packed with work, school, social and family obligations, (the list goes on), sleep often feels like an afterthought. You know, that thing you get to when everything else on the checklist gets done? But having good sleep habits allows our bodies to recover, promotes hormonal balance, results in improved focus and increased ability to handle stress (both mental and physical). Poor sleep habits, on the other hand, can result in fatigue, reduced performance, higher body fat percentage (2), hormonal imbalance (12,13) and increased risk for illness and injury (1).  According to the CDC, over 1/3 of American adults sleep less than 6 hours a night on average (the recommended minimum is 7 hours per night to keep potential health problems in check.) Recently, a major review found that shortened sleep (less than 6 hours per night) resulted in an increased likelihood of obesity in both children (89%) and adults (55%). Another study found that when restricted to 5 hours of sleep for 5 nights, participants gained an average of 1.8 pounds (4). Now imagine if that happens more than just five nights out of the year.

How can it have such an impact?


Tired of yo-yo dieting? Let’s try something new… This might be tough to hear, but diets don’t work.

As you may be aware, increased body weight is associated with an increased risk for many diseases, however, there is no well-established proof that higher body weights cause diseases.

In fact, weight cycling (often seen with dieting/yo-yo dietiting) may more likely be a causative factor in the development of diseases (insulin resistance, hypertension, dyslipidemia) than weight or BMI alone.

Research suggests that behavior change may play a greater role in health improvement in the absence of weight loss.

Not only can taking the focus off of weight feel empowering, but it has also been shown to significantly improve psychological & behavioral outcomes, particularly in improvements in self-esteem & eating behaviors. Health indicators such as blood pressure & cholesterol levels have also shown improvements with behavior changes regardless of weight loss.

Still not convinced? Let’s look at one of the largest & longest dietary intervention clinical trials– The Women’s Health Initiative. In this clinical trial, 20,000 women maintained a low-fat, reduced calorie diet & increased their activity levels, however after almost 8 years, there was no significant change in weight from the starting point. In fact, abdominal fat (measured by waist circumference) slightly increased.

We do not fail diets. Diets fail us.

Along with lowering our self-esteem, dieting may increase the risk of:

  • Weight gain / regain
  • Hypertension
  • High cholesterol levels
  • Osteoporosis
  • Decreased muscle mass / metabolism
  • Stress, anxiety & depression
  • Body dissatisfaction & preoccupation
  • Disordered eating / eating disorder behaviors
  • Social isolation
  • Devaluing of health promoting behaviors

You have the power to achieve health & well being independent of your weight.

I challenge you to re-think dieting this year and instead put your energy toward developing self-care & pro-health behaviors that leave you feeling good about yourself & your body!

At Case Specific Nutrition, we pride ourselves on offering individualized care to each of our clients. Are you ready to take a new approach? Email me at dietitiankaley@gmail.com to set up a consultation!



“Weight science: evaluating the evidence for a paradigm shift” by Linda Bacon and Lucy Aphramor

“The Weight-Inclusive versus Weight-Normative Approach to Health: Evaluating the Evidence for Prioritizing Well-Being over Weight Loss” by Tracy Tylka, Rachel Annunziato, Deb Bungard, et.al.


Ditch the Detox Diet!

With the coming New Year, you’re probably thinking about what diet & exercise resolutions to make this year. You are also sure to see countless “detox” diets & cleanses popping up all over the internet.

This year, instead of opting for a restrictive, potentially counterproductive “detox diet” support your body’s natural detoxification pathways via liver, kidneys & digestive tract with the following tips from a dietitian:

Include more plant based foods:

These foods contain antioxidants, B-vitamins & fiber help support our body’s natural detoxification processes.

  • Antioxidant rich foods: Berries, nuts, seeds, leafy greens, orange veggies, coffee, tea, dark chocolate & spices such as cinnamon
  • B-Vitamin rich foods: Whole grains, beans, fruits & veggies
  • Fiber rich foods: Beans, legumes & cruciferous veggies (broccoli, cauliflower, brussels, cabbage)

Aim for ½ of your plate to be filled with a variety of veggies. Add fruit to breakfast, a snack or dessert – 1-2 servings per day is a good goal.

Build a wholesome plate:

Including veggies, protein, complex carbs & healthy fats at meal times will help promote satiety & energy levels that keep you going until your next meal!

Drink more water:

Staying properly hydrated allows your kidneys to remove waste products from your body via urine

Fluid recommendations vary from person to person- in general, you can estimate by dividing your body weight by 2.

Moderate alcohol intake:

Excessive alcohol intake can be taxing and damaging on your liver & kidneys. Moderate alcohol consumption is defined as up to 1 drink per day for women & up to 2 drinks per day for men. A note on red wine: Red wine contains polyphenols (antioxidants that help prevent cellular damage which can lead to heart disease & cancer.) If you choose to consume alcohol, including a 5 oz glass of red wine with dinner may have some protective effects.

Get enough sleep:

Sleep is the time for our body’s to rest, repair & recover. Adequate sleep promotes cardiovascular, kidney health, immune health & healthy weight (by balancing our hunger hormones ghrelin & leptin) as well as our insulin levels (the hormone responsible for healthy blood sugar levels.) Adults over the age of 18 require 7-9 hrs of sleep per night.

Move your body:

Not only can regular physical activity help support cardiovascular health, blood sugar control, bone health, mental function & sense of wellbeing, but it is also essential for regular bowel movements (one of our bodies detox methods!) Adults should aim for a minimum of 150 minutes of exercise per week. 

Clean up your social media:

Although social media does not directly impact our physical health, it can have an impact on our self-esteem, mood & overall sense of well-being. If you’re currently following accounts that make you feel less-than or poorly about your self & self-image, it may be time to replace those accounts with ones that bring you joy & enhance your life!


Healthy Holiday Guide: A Realistic Approach To Prevent Holiday Weight Gain

Student Spotlight by Therezia Alchoufete 

  1. Make Realistic Goals
  • Eat in moderation – recognize foods high in saturated fat, sugar, and sodium and avoid over-eating.
  • Don’t deprive yourself of family favorites – enjoy treats, but watch portion sizes.
  1. Find Time For Exercise
  • Incorporate physical activity into holiday chores – running the vacuum burns calories!
  • Take a walk daily – even if that means walking around the mall as you finish your gift shopping.
  1. Plan For Parties
  • Try to eat a healthy snack prior to going to the party to avoid over-eating
  • Avoid items that are high in salt or sugar, such as cheese dip and cocktails – liquid calories do count!
  1. Treat Yourself
  • Make time for sleep, family and friends – this will decrease stress and keep your metabolism going strong.
  • Avoid over-booking your schedule – the holidays can be busy, but leave free time for relaxation.
  1. Create Healthy Traditions
  • Cook with the family and let everyone choose a favorite recipe.
  • Modify recipe ingredients to choose low fat & low sodium options when possible.
  • Don’t change family favorites – instead, use portion control to eat in moderation.