Confused?… Where to Start with Your Diet

Confused?… Where to Start with Your Diet

It is extremely hard to navigate starting healthy diet when there is so much conflicting information floating around.  There are millions of TV shows, articles and social media posts that say, “Always do this” and “Never do that.”  It’s confusing.

At the NHCAA, we recognize that “always” and “never” are unrealistic.  We are all unique individuals with different genetics, lifestyles, and metabolic types.  That’s why our practitioners don’t give out cookie-cutter diet recommendations to each patient.  We help our patients discover their best diets by tracking their intake and making changes, monitoring results, and thus evolving their diets over time.

Even though there is no one-size-fits-all diet, we must start somewhere.  Everyone is unique, but there are some basic, natural laws that apply to food and your health.  These laws are as follows:

  • White refined sugar is inflammatory to the whole body and unhealthy for all.  
  • Eating too many carbohydrates puts stress on the metabolic system.
  • Chemical contaminants in food create a toxic burden in the body.
  • Rancid oils and processed fats inflame the cardiovascular system.

These 4 points form the foundation for starting a healthy diet.  If you are unsure of what dietary path to take, start with applying these 4 nutrition laws and expand from there until you get the results you are seeking.  

All NHCAA patients are recommended to start a low carb diet that consists of REAL food.  How low carb to go is the recommendation that is variable.  A low carb diet is typically no more than 125 grams of net carbs per day, but many people may need to go much lower than that to achieve results.

Regardless of what your health picture is, you should apply these datums to your food choices.  If you are confused about what you should do with your diet, then you should first make sure you are applying all of these principles and then, if you still need direction, you should consult with a practitioner at our office to help you figure out what changes will best support health in your body.

Your Holistic Pharmacist,

Dr. Amanda Childress, PharmD

Vegetarian Protein Ideas

Vegetarian Protein Ideas

Here at the NHCAA, we know that diet is key to good health. 

Typically we recommend a diet that consists primarily of high-quality meats, vegetables, and good fats- we do not recommend a vegan or vegetarian diet.  Although it is possible to do a meatless diet in a healthy fashion, it is very difficult to get adequate protein while simultaneously keeping carbohydrates low.

Even though we do not recommend a vegetarian diet, I do understand that for some individuals, vegetarianism or veganism can be a strong personal or religious conviction.  If you are one of those individuals, I highly encourage evaluating your macronutrients (macros).  How many carbohydrates are you consuming in a day in relation to your protein and fat intake? I also recommend you examine the sources of your protein.

The app we recommend for tracking macros is Cronometer.  

Cronometer is our app of choice because it is comprehensive and, most importantly, has a very accurate database.

An image of a spoon holding a generous amount of dry seeds.

The minimum protein I typically recommend is 60-80 grams per day while the maximum amount of carbohydrates I recommend is usually between 75-125 grams per day.  Fats should be enough to keep you satisfied and full, so you don’t need to snack (see my video Good Sources of Fat for more). Your diet can accommodate more or less fat depending on how many carbohydrates you are consuming (more fat if your carbs are lower and less if your carbs are higher).

Many vegetarians rely heavily on soy-based products to get their protein, as these products are protein dense.  I do not recommend soy as the basis of any diet.  Soy proteins are typically GMO (genetically modified organisms) and highly processed.  When consumed in high amounts, soy products can also negatively impact hormonal balance.  I also do not recommend mock meats because they often contain soy or gluten and are highly processed.

Getting enough protein while avoiding soy and keeping carbohydrates down on a Vegetarian or Vegan diet is tough!  There is less room for error on these diets.  Although balancing macros on these diets is a challenge, it is still possible.  I have created a list of higher protein items that can assist with a meatless diet. 


Hemp Hearts3 tbs9.471.414.6
Chia Seeds2 tbs419
Flax Meal2 tbs2.5646
Lentils0.5 cup9120.4
Pumpkin Seeds0.25 cup9215
Hummus0.5 cup9.51012
Banza Noodles2 oz 11303
Peanut Butter2 tbs7516
Ripple Milk- Unsweetened (pea)8 fl oz8<14.5
Kite Hill Greek Yogurt- Unsweetened (almond)11410
Great Northern Beans0.5 cup8.3140.5
Black Beans0.5 cup711.70.4
Green Peas0.5 cup870.3

This high-protein foods list was designed to fit both vegans and vegetarians. If you are a lacto-ovo vegetarian- eggs and some dairy, like Greek yogurt, can be great sources of protein as well.

Health is not a one size fits all concept, there are many pathways to health.  However, there are basic nutritional truths that apply to every person and every diet.  For good health, you need enough protein for tissue repair and muscle building, and you need to limit carbohydrates and sugars to keep inflammation down and the immune system balanced.  I hope these vegetarian protein ideas help you to find a better balance with your macros.

Your Holistic Pharmacist,

Dr. Amanda Childress, PharmD – Bio

5 Healthy, Happy Holiday Eating Tricks

5 Healthy, Happy Holiday Eating Tricks

It’s December, so here are 5 healthy, happy holiday eating tricks for you. The month is filled with shopping, hectic schedules, cooking, baking, parties, and gatherings (not 2020). However, it can be one of the busiest months of the year, but it can also be a lot of fun. For those of us on a nutritional program the trick is to stay on track with our eating habits even with the many snickerdoodles, peanut butter pinwheels, fruit cakes, cookies covered in every color and form of sugar imaginable, and gingerbread men that happen to cross our paths. My holiday gift to you is a list of healthy holiday eating tips to help you stay on track so you can enjoy the holidays without sacrificing your health. Learn about eating healthy during the holidays below!

during holidays eat nuts for protein to stay satiated

  • Eat protein throughout the day. I know you are busy and time-crunched, especially at this time of year. That’s what makes having protein in your system at least three times a day so crucial. It helps you to maintain your energy by keeping your blood sugar steady.  Being fueled by natural protein also makes it easier to turn down that slice of ho-ho cake when offered to you ever so sweetly by Aunt Dotty. If you are on the go, you can take a hard-boiled egg, a pack of nuts, or even some nitrate-free lunch meat along for the ride. I like to keep a protein bar in my purse in case I find myself in a pinch.
  • Put a new twist on old traditions. I get it, for most of us, there are certain foods that are an intricate part of the family tradition. Although you may be all right without it, cousin Billy Bob may not agree. Try making a healthier alternative that is gluten-free and has no refined sugar. Some good pie recipes use coconut flour and maple syrup or other healthier choices. Even though the delicious dessert you love may still be there, you will be able to turn to something delicious that won’t make you need to take a three-hour nap or have to wear your “eating pants.”
  • Create new traditions. In years past, my family didn’t have a lot of holiday traditions except to gather around a bunch of food and eat. I don’t think we are the only family that does this. Try planning other activities that are not entirely reliant on food. My family in recent years has started integrating other activities into the festivities that are not reliant on food, like playing games.

create new traditions for healthy holiday eating tricks

  • Bulk up on low carb indulgences: So if I’m at a gathering and there’s a table with lots of yummy food, I still eat like royalty. I focus on the meats, the veggie trays, and fruits. The nice thing about doing this instead of my old way of stacking up everything on the table is I maintain good energy, and I don’t feel bloated or yucky later…just happy.
  • If you can’t resist…compromise. Now that you are on your quest for better health and you have accepted the mission of getting off of sugar and eating low carb and thoroughly educated on the health consequences of making bad choices, you can laugh in the face of the demon sugar without batting an eyelash! Right? Right! Except for the times when you can’t. You are still human after all. If that happens, don’t throw all your hard work down the chute. If it’s something you really can’t resist and the siren sugar is singing your song from inside a decadent piece of chocolate chip cheesecake, eat a bite or 2 if you must, then put down the fork and walk away. You can feel good that you tasted it but also feel good that you exercised control not to eat the whole thing.

Getting through the holidays without having to get the “fat pants” out of the closet come January IS possible. I hope these tips help you to hold your own during the holiday season. Happy Holidays!

Yours in health,
Dr. Amanda Childress, Holistic PharmD

Read Dr. Amanda’s Bio

STOP Eating C.R.A.P.

STOP Eating C.R.A.P.

The moment you ring the New Year, you are bombarded with diets promising you miracle result, in records time.

Unfortunately, most of those diets aren’t even healthy but the contradicting recommendations can leave you very confused and overwhelmed.

At the Nutritional Healing Center of Ann Arbor, we believe that health starts with food. And since our practice is based on individualized care, your nutritional needs are unique to you. In fact, there are many easy ways to improve your diet.

So, what works for your neighbor, colleague or that health blogger, isn’t necessarily going to work for you. Even what worked for you in the past, might not work for you right now, because your health might have changed since then.

Does eating a healthy diet sound even more confusing now?

Don’t worry, I will keep it short, simple, and easy with ways to improve your diet:

You need to stop eating C.R.A.P.:

Conventional Food: High in herbicides and pesticide residues, cancer-causing, and hormone-disrupting chemicals. Your best bet is Organic and Non-GMO, if you can’t afford it fresh, make your way to the frozen aisle: organic frozen is better than fresh conventional produce.

Image of a man wearing a chemical safety suit and spraying fresh greens with pesticides.

For more info on the dangers of convention food check websites like Consumers Reports,, Beyond Pesticides.

Refined Carbohydrate: Also known as simple carbs, it includes sugar and any grains that have been altered from its original form in nature: pasta, flour, white rice, cereals, etc. They are stripped of all of the nutrients, these empty foods cause inflammation and rapid spikes in blood sugar and insulin levels. (1)

Vegetables, low glycemic fruits, and occasionally sprouted grains are well-tolerated carbohydrates by most people.

Artificial Additives: MSG (Monosodium glutamate), artificial sweeteners, artificial colorings, sodium nitrite, high fructose corn syrup, these are the most toxic and most common food additives. They have been linked to allergy reactions, inflammation inside the cell but also neurological behaviors; it may promote hyperactivity in children. (2)

Processed food: high in additives and preservatives, it’s any type of food that, has been through a series of alternations and turned into a packaged product.

Read the labels, make sure the ingredients are actual food you would recognize in nature, none of them belong to the list above.

The fewer ingredients, the better.

Bottom Line?

Stick to whole foods, that either comes from the soil or that has a mother.

Make sure every meal is filled with animal protein and healthy fat.

Buy from your local farmers, many companies like Aldi, Imperfect Foods, Brandless and Thrive Market are making organic and healthy options more accessible and affordable.

Dr. Taggy Bensaid, ND

Curious about what we do?
Book a Free Consult with me on March 10th! Call 734-302-7575

Salt (and Water) For Humans

Salt (and Water) For Humans

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The Human Body Is 70% Water!

Most Americans are dehydrated and don’t know it. In fact, in America, water is the number one nutritional deficiency. The body’s joints, discs, organs, muscles, and skin all rely on water to make them work properly. If you feel the “thirst” sensation, it means you’re already dehydrated.water-and-salt-vickers-2

Dehydration may be the cause of high blood pressure, and blood clots are often the result of thicker blood due to dehydration. Athletes are especially at a higher risk for dehydration and it will impair their ability to perform at peak levels, especially when exercising in a hot, humid environment. Learn how to stay hydrated all day below.

Salt is an important component of proper hydration.

Salt drives water into the cells (think, osmosis) instead of allowing the water to pool outside the cell walls producing swollen ankles and painful joints. Salt is a natural histamine, and pinches of salt followed by small drinks of water will stop excessive histamine production.

The salt used to help with hydration should contain 60-70 trace minerals (e.g. Celtic Sea Salt, Real Salt, or Himalayan Rock Salt) and should be taken in addition to the salt used in cooking and eating food. The salt may be added to the water directly or taken by mouth alone and followed by a small amount of water…just enough to get it down. This is one reason why you might drink salt water.

Here are a few pointers regarding proper hydration:

  1. For every 50 pounds of body weight, drink one quart of water.water-and-salt-vickers-3
  2. For each quart of water consumed, ingest ¼ teaspoon of sea salt.
  3. Stop drinking liquids ½ hour before consuming a meal and startup hydrating again 3 hours after the meal. Your food will digest better because your stomach acid won’t be diluted and neutralized!
  4. For every cup of a caffeinated drink consumed, the body loses two to three cups of water. For every cup of an alcoholic beverage consumed, the body loses three cups of water. Adjust your water/salt intake accordingly.
  5. One of the easiest cures for a hangover: proper hydration!

Dr. Joel Vickers