A Simple Thing, Profound Effects

Nutrition Nugget By Nancy Mehlert, MS


I wanted to remind you about a simple thing with profound effects: harmful oils in our food. In my opinion, it is one of our “big rocks” for reducing inflammation, preventing disease and improving health.  Yet you may be surprised how easily they can sneak back into your pantry, cabinets and refrigerator.  Strictly avoiding these has huge health benefits and can dramatically improve your lipid profile and reduce many factors for disease.  Watch out especially for salad dressings, hummus, mayonnaise, chips and snacks, restaurant food and fast food. Even brands that seem otherwise cleaner or healthier can have these harmful oils. If you see the words expeller pressed in front of the oil, it is slightly less refined.


Here’s why: These oils are highly processed and damaged. Your body has no good use for them. They interfere, obstruct and cause damage. They are often stored as garbage in your fat cells. They are well documented to cause inflammation, oxidative stress, elevation of LDL cholesterol levels, harm to endothelial cells lining your blood vessels, damage to gut bacteria, DNA damage and have glyphosate residues in them which harm your gut lining and increase permeability. [i]    You can see why we recommend total avoidance if at all possible.

Here are the oils to avoid:

  • Soybean oil
  • Sunflower oil
  • Safflower oil
  • Canola oil
  • Corn oil
  • Cottonseed oil
  • Hydrogenated oil
  • Refined Palm oil

Healthy oils are unrefined or gently refined without harmful chemicals such as hexane.  Better choices are olive oil, avocado oil, butter, ghee, beef tallow, duck fat, cocoa butter, macadamia nut oil, coconut oil, almond oil, unrefined palm oil and palm kernel oil.  Check out salad dressings and oils made by Primal Kitchen, Spectrum Brands and Chosen Foods as good examples of better choices.  Your body knows how to make good use of undamaged, natural oils.   There have been controversies and issues in the olive oil industry over the last decade, so our current recommendations are to stick with high quality olive oil made in the United States, Australia or Chile. Cobram Estate and Bragg olive oil are other reputable resources.  Mediterranean olive oils have been found to be contaminated and blended with many of the damaged oils listed above.  

Coconut Oil and Olive Oil Article

Audit your kitchen and take a simple step with profound effects for the entire family.

[i] https://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2019/01/07/replace-dangerous-oils-with-healthy-fats.aspx?utm_source=dnl&utm_medium=mail&ut



By |2019-01-17T13:35:31+00:00January 17th, 2019|General, NANCY’S NUTRITIONAL NUGGET|


This is a quote that I have found helpful in my journey and relationship with food and myself.  It has helped me to:

  • see boundaries as a way to love myself and know who I am and who I don’t want to be.
  • get comfortable reaching for a longer perspective, rather than be overcome with short term gratification.
  • be courageous and set some reasonable and needed boundaries for my life without concern for what others may think.

I hope you will take some time to read it a couple times, maybe even out loud.  May you find in it a nugget of encouragement or help for you or someone you love.   



“Boundaries, in a broad sense, are lines or things that mark a limit, bound, or border.  In a psychological sense, boundaries are the realization of our own person apart from others.  This sense of separateness forms the basis of personal identity.  It says what we are and what we are not, what we will choose and what we will not choose, what we will endure and what we will not endure, what we feel and what we will not feel, what we like and what we do not like, and what we want and what we do not want.  Boundaries, in short, define us.  In the same way that a physical boundary defines where a property line begins and ends, a psychological and spiritual boundary defines who we are and who we are not.”   Dr. Henry Cloud, Changes that Heal, Zondervan Publishing House, 1992.


May 2019 be a year of greater health, better relationships, meaningful work and daily gratitude.

Peace be with you.


By |2019-01-04T11:57:20+00:00January 4th, 2019|General, NANCY’S NUTRITIONAL NUGGET|

3 Sweet Options for Holiday Cooking

By Nancy Mehlert

It is always nice to be able to recommend new products that might simplify life, help children (small or big) eat better, or make things taste more like childhood memories. While nothing is perfect, these are reasonable for occasional use.  They are Non-GMO and made by companies that seem transparent.  They do not have MSG and are free of the most common allergens.


Lakanto Maple Flavored Syrup – a healthy replacement for maple syrup on pancakes or in recipes. Available online.


So Delicious Coconut Milk Coco Whip – Ideal for topping off pumpkin and pecan pie.






Swerve – A healthy choice sweetener made from Erythritol.  Non-GMO and vegan, this sweetener works as a cup for cup replacement for sugar in any recipe and can be used to caramelize and crystalize much like sugar.  It comes in white granular, brown sugar and confectioner’s sugar and is a great option for those who want to cook or bake without elevating insulin levels.


By |2018-11-19T13:34:26+00:00November 19th, 2018|NANCY’S NUTRITIONAL NUGGET|

13 Tips for Regret Free Holiday Eating

by Nancy Mehlert, MS

Most would agree that the Fall & Winter Holiday Season can be very challenging from a health and weight
perspective. The food fest can be seemingly delightful and delicious but can also bring negative
consequences, great temptation, and unwanted weight gain. Beginning a new year tired and digestively
distressed is not pleasant. Take heart! With a good strategy in place, you can enjoy the holidays
without the dreaded consequences.

Here are some tips to help you succeed:

    •  Halloween Candy- The Gateway Drug:  For starters, avoid allowing the candy fest during
      Halloween to start your downward spiral into sugar, cravings and overeating. Get the candy out
      of the house (better yet, don’t let it in at all) on November 1 and be determined to eat clean
      until Thanksgiving day. This alone can make a huge dent in the damage we can inflict on our
      health during this time of year.
    • Use the 80/20 Rule: Recognize that 80% of your nutrition choices need to be the clean
      foundation that your “cheating” rests on. Stay on track 80% of the time. This helps your body
      defend and protect from the 20% indulgence.
    • Attitude Matters: Choose a happy and cheerful attitude about your strategy. Enjoy your
      exceptions slowly, deliberately and happily while also finding contentedness as you eat
      healthfully most of the time.
    • Examine past years: You are familiar with the adage, “If you keep repeating the same behavior,
      you can expect the same results”. Identify what has derailed you in the past. Change the plan,
      alter the routine, stop participating in some of the events or situations that are troublesome for
      you. Start some new habits and traditions that foster a healthier approach.
    • Narrow the Scope: Not everything that looks good, tastes good or feels good – will afterwards. Check
      out buffet tables and food offerings carefully and determine what one item matters most to
      you. Be selective. Rather than dropping boundaries and rules for a week or a day, narrow that
      down to a specific meal time with a set duration of an hour or two. Then jump right back on
      track. Once you choose to enjoy an exception to the rule, savor it and refuse to impose guilt on
      yourself. Set boundaries and limit the frequency and quantity of your indulgence.
    • Abort: When you take a bite or sip of an indulgence, savor carefully to see if it is truly delightful.
      If not, abort the indulgence. After all, it isn’t worth it, right? (Yes, even if it means you toss it in
      the trash along with the money you just spent on it. This cathartic response makes you think
      more carefully next time. Throwing something away helps you to mentally part from it for
    • Order On Line: Walking in the grocery store can be fraught with temptations and eye candy. Stay
      focused on nutrient dense, quality foods by ordering on line and picking it up, curbside.
    • Create Bumper Days: Identify primary events where delectable food will be available and create
      clean bumper days around them. In other words, eat very clean and healthfully the days before
      and the days after the event. This is a good practice for Thanksgiving Day, for example.
    • Determine to Focus on Other Things: If you tend to get focused on food too much, you may
      want to intentionally choose and create ways to focus on some other things. Focus on
      thankfulness and keep a daily “Thankful Journal”. Focus on a specific family member you would like to love better
      and engage in acts of kindness to improve that relationship. Focus on serving others, taking a deeper faith walk, or
      learning to love and care for yourself better in every way.
    • Gather an accountability partner or two: Ask a friend, or your children or spouse to join in the effort to make wiser
      choices during the holidays. Working together as a family or group of friends can be very helpful and much more fun!
    • Plan to prepare healthier indulgences: Many favorite foods can be made in healthier ways.
      With planning, many foods can feel like an indulgence but truly be healthy. Look for ways to
      reduce sugar, wheat and carbohydrates while increasing nutrition, vegetables, healthy fats and
      fiber. Try to choose organic, Non-GMO foods, pasture raised meats and poultry, and sweeteners
      such as erythritol and monk fruit. Whole 30, Paleo and Keto cookbooks and on line posts can be
      helpful resources as is our newly revised and expanded Health Reset Protocol Cookbook. (Be
      sure to reserve your copy today!)
    • Check out new vendors such as Just Vanilla – A Free-from Bake Shop, justvanillaco.com, a new
      bakery in The Woodlands/Spring area that has dairy free, vegan and keto options for baked
      goods. When eating out, choose restaurants that specialize in cleaner options, such as True
      Foods in The Woodlands, Town Center.
    • Feel the reward of starting the new year without the need for guilt or a resolution to get back on track.

The Woodlands Institute for Health and Wellness is here to support you through this season. For help
with nutritional accountability, putting your strategy together or specific ideas that will help you
succeed, schedule an appointment with our Nutrition Specialist, Nancy Mehlert, MS.

Celebrate well, eat well, be well.

By |2018-10-30T05:22:01+00:00October 25th, 2018|General, NANCY’S NUTRITIONAL NUGGET|

The 1-2-3 to Feeding Your Brain

By Nancy Mehlert, MS

Here’s the 1-2-3 to feeding your brain:

#1 You need choline, a water soluble vitamin-like substance, essential to the brain.

Here are the foods to eat often so that you get plenty of choline for your brain:
• Vegetables – dark green veggies like swiss chard, asparagus, spinach, green peas, green beans, collard greens and bok choy. Also, cruciferous veggies such as broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage and cauliflower. Mushrooms are also a good source of choline.
• Fish – contains both choline and omega-3 oils. Sources include shrimp, scallops, tuna, salmon, sardines. Buy wild and source for sustainable.
• Meats and Eggs – pasture raised eggs, pasture raised chicken and turkey, and grass fed beef are all excellent sources of choline. You are what the animal you are eating ate, so buy good quality in which the animal consumed its natural diet.

#2 You need Omega-3 fats. They are neuroprotective and anti-inflammatory. The ones that really support your brain come from animal sources, specifically marine sources. There are Omega-3 fats in some plant foods (such as walnuts and flax), however they are not the Omegas that support and get into the brain.

So, in terms of brain health, ideal sources for Omega-3 fats include:
• Fish – especially wild-caught Alaskan salmon, anchovies, sardines, mackerel, and herring. Buy wild and source for sustainable.
• Omega-3 Fat Supplement – such as Krill Oil or Cod Liver Oil, sourced carefully for purity and quality.


#3 You need AIR – BREATHE DEEPLY – the brain demands more oxygen than any other organ in the body. If you are a shallow breather and/or don’t get much exercise, your brain is HUNGRY for oxygen. Breathe deeply often and get moving.

Eat well. Be well. Think clearly.

By |2018-10-01T07:35:41+00:00September 20th, 2018|General, NANCY’S NUTRITIONAL NUGGET|

Digestive Kindness and Patience

When we decide to move from one diet to another, it is important to make the change slowly over a period of one to two weeks. It may not seem like a big deal to move from omnivore to vegetarian, or processed food to whole food, or elect to dramatically increase fats while reducing protein, but the pancreas and gallbladder, the two organs responsible for making the enzymes needed to digest the food you eat, will be unprepared to handle the initial change.  Often a one time digestive discomfort is taken as a reason to not eat the food again, when all that is needed is a slower ramping up in quantity over time and perhaps a little digestive support.


Regardless of whether you are increasing fat, or adding meat to an otherwise vegetarian diet, a good way is to begin by adding in single bites or teaspoons.  One bite of chicken or fish, or one teaspoon of coconut oil, for example. The next day or so, if no digestive discomfort presents itself, increase again by another bite or another teaspoon. Each day, the pancreas and gallbladder will become aware of the greater need for different enzymes and begin to adjust accordingly.


The older we become, the less productive our pancreas and gallbladder can become, so it may be necessary at some point to use supplemental digestive enzymes every time you eat, or for heavier meals that include more fat and protein. Whole food has many of its own enzymes, so you may find that just eating real food (vs. processed and fast) dramatically improves your digestion and comfort after meals.


Be patient and kind to your body.

By |2018-09-05T10:54:34+00:00August 24th, 2018|General, NANCY’S NUTRITIONAL NUGGET|

Individualized Nutrition

By Nancy Mehlert, MS

As you scour the internet or  bookstore for the next NEW diet, please keep in mind that there isn’t one perfect diet for everyone.  We are each biochemically unique. Our lifestyles and abilities are unique. The goal should be to find a way of eating that works for you, your lifestyle, and contributes to providing you with optimal weight and health.  Below is a list of the many factors that will impact your ideal food choices, how and when you eat, as well as the macronutrient (protein, fat, and carbohydrates) content that might be right for you.

  • Digestive styles – efficiency or inefficiency with carbohydrates or proteins.
  • Metabolic rates – resting metabolic rates vary greatly among individuals and should be tested with a reliable medical device (TWIHW uses Metacheck)
  • Food sensitivities and allergies (both food and environmental)
  • Activity Level – which may be too little or too much depending on these other factors
  • Weight status – over, under or normal
  • Medical history – surgeries such as gallbladder removal, stomach lap bands, partial colon removal, as well as diseases such as thyroid, cardiovascular, and autoimmune diseases, cancer and metabolic syndrome, all have a direct impact on dietary approach
  • Emotional and social issues around food
  • Nutritional deficiencies
  • Genetic mutations
  • Age and stage of life
  • Toxic burden on the body
  • Stress level and status of adrenal health
  • Composition of microbiome (i.e. the balance of microbes in GI tract)


The latest fad diet could be a mistake for you. Choosing a vegetarian diet may be perfect or it might be problematic. Or 130 pounds may be a realistic goal weight for you or a totally unhealthy one. We are all unique, so seek your personal nutrition lifestyle for optimal health. If you are interested in discussing your nutrition lifestyle and want to work toward finding a healthy diet to maintain optimal health, call our office to schedule a nutrition consultation today.

By |2018-07-27T13:12:16+00:00July 25th, 2018|General, NANCY’S NUTRITIONAL NUGGET|

How to Hydrate Healthfully

  1. 1. Clean water has always been and remains the gold standard for hydration. For normal daily exercise and play in the sun, aim for 25-50% of body weight in ounces for adults and children.  For long periods in the heat, drink more and drink frequently.
  2. 2. Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables. Rich in both water and electrolytes, they are optimal hydrators that prevent cramping and assist with recovery.  Examples of good hydrating choices for summer outdoor activities include celery, watermelon, cucumber, kiwi, citrus fruits, carrot, pineapple, iceberg lettuce, tomato, berries, broccoli and cauliflower.
  3. 3. Add Sea Salt to water, fruits and vegetables. Sea salt will help to balance potassium levels, alkalize the body and support hydration.
  4. 4. Avoid typical sports drinks such as Gatorade, Powerade and Propel, just to name a few. They are full of sugar, phosphoric acid, food dyes, and artificial sweeteners. If you feel you must use something more than the options listed above, then opt for cleaner, healthier choices such as NUUN Hydration Effervescent Electrolyte tablets, Hi-Lyte™ or Lyteline™ Electrolyte products. These choices are clean and appropriate for endurance sport activities. They are non-GMO, gluten free, and sugar free.  Follow the instructions provided on the products.
By |2018-06-28T22:14:07+00:00June 20th, 2018|General, NANCY’S NUTRITIONAL NUGGET|

What Foods Contain Lectins

And What to Do About It

By Nancy Mehlert, MS


If you are reading this without first reading our main article, you may want to back up and read it to benefit from the more in depth introduction to lectins

Now, for anyone struggling to lose weight, dealing with autoimmunity or digestive issues, or simply frustrated with a stubborn health problem, then it is worth considering that lectins may be holding back your journey to better health.

Lectins are found in a wide variety of foods making it impossible to eat a lectin free diet. Not all lectins are bad (see Tip #5 below), however there are many lectins that are quite harmful, and there are some foods that contain high levels. It is important to think about the cumulative impact since you may be eating a combination of high lectin foods that result in considerable toxicity.

Foods with the Highest Lectin Content – Best Avoided

Corn – One of the very highest in lectin foods, corn lectins are also very resistant to heat and, therefore, are difficult to reduce through cooking.  Pervasive in the American food supply, corn is also genetically modified (unless organic) and one of the highest allergenic foods.

Corn-fed Meats: This includes most meats sold in grocery stores and restaurants. We are what we eat, and this applies to animals, too.  They are raised on corn and soy, two foods that are high in lectins. The purpose is to make them fat for market.  Lectins make us  humans fat, too.  The best way to avoid them is to buy certified grassfed meat. The American Grassfed Association is a good place to learn more. Look for “100% Grass Fed and Finished” on the label.

Casein A1 Milk[1]: Because of a genetic mutation in cow populations, some cows produce milk containing casein A1 protein, which is a lectin-like protein called beta-casomorphin. It attaches to the pancreas’ insulin-producing cells, prompting an immune attack on the pancreas of those who consume milk and cheeses from these cows.  Most cows today are casein A1 producers, and this is the milk and cheese found in store-bought dairy. Many who believe they are lactose intolerant are responding to the casein A1 in the milk. If you are going to consume dairy, opt for only casein A2 dairy products which come from goat, sheep, water buffaloes or specifically Belgian Blues, Guernsey, or Brown Swiss cow breeds. Holsteins are the most common breed and their milk is casein A1. Jersey cows may produce either, so checking the source and verifying is critical.

Peanuts and Cashews: Commonly called nuts, peanuts and cashews are legumes and both are very high in lectin content. The shell around the cashew is such an irritant that cashew workers must wear protective gloves to harvest them.  Cashews are in the same botanical family as poison ivy and dramatically increase inflammation[2].

Unfermented Soybean Products: Examples include tofu and edamame, the green soybean where lectins are highest and best avoided.  Traditionally fermented soy products such as miso or tempeh, if organic, have a much lower lectin content due to the fermentation.


High Lectin Foods to Eat Sparingly and Prepare Properly

Legumes: This pulse family includes any plant seed that is found in pods, such as peas, green beans, lentils, split peas, and all other beans (e.g. red kidney, black, white, garbanzo). Proper soaking and cooking, as well as choosing some of the lower lectin options like Great Northern beans, green beans and lentils, can make these a reasonable option when used sparingly. Most canned beans have not been soaked or cooked properly to reduce lectins. White kidney beans and soybeans are highest in lectins.

Grains: Just when we thought whole grains were best for us, we are learning that the lectins are highest in the outer sheath. Most earlier cultures seemed to understand that removing it made digestion easier. Traditionally, the Chinese, Japanese, and other Asian people have not been plagued with obesity, heart disease, and diabetes, yet they have been eating rice for thousands of years, always stripping away the hull where the lectins exist[3].  WGA or gliadin attached to gluten in wheat, oats, rye and barley are two other damaging grain lectins. Is it any surprise that many traditional European breads are made using the process of fermentation to make sourdough bread? The process of fermentation deactivates lectins. This traditional process is not used in bread manufacturing by the food industry.  There are many other health concerns when it comes to grains, such as pesticides and genetic modification.  Careful selection, preparation, and minimal consumption, however, make some grains a viable choice from time to time.

Nightshade Fruits and Vegetables: Included are tomatoes, potatoes (excluding sweet potatoes), eggplants, bell peppers, and goji berries among others. The highest lectin content is found in the skins and seeds, so simply peeling and deseeding can significantly reduce the lectin content, as well as reducing frequency and portion. Potato lectins are quite resistant to cooking and will only reduce by 50-60%.

Gourd Family Fruits: Normally called vegetables, the gourd family are fruits and include all squash varieties, pumpkin and zucchini. As with nightshades, some of these can be peeled and deseeded well and cooking will also help reduce lectins.


Preparation and Cooking Tips to Reduce Lectin Content

Research demonstrates that sprouting, fermenting, soaking overnight and cooking high lectin foods does dramatically reduce the lectin content, making them safe for most people. In addition to removing seeds and peel, here are some other tips to help reduce lectins.

Tip #1 – If you choose to eat beans, be sure to prepare and cook them properly, and NEVER eat raw or undercooked. They can have acute and toxic effects[4]. Be sure to soak beans in water for at least 12 hours before cooking, changing the water frequently. Rinse the beans well, discarding the water used for soaking. Cook for at least 15 minutes on HIGH heat, ideally using a pressure cooker like the InstaPot™.

Tip #2 – If consuming grains, keep in mind that the only way to make bread safe is to buy organic AND raise the bread using traditional methods of yeast or sourdough, which breaks down the gluten and other harmful lectins.  You would be hard pressed to find this in our grocery stores. You will need to make it yourself or purchase it from a traditional artisan bakery.

Tip #3 – Many beans, seeds and grains can be sprouted to deactivate lectins. There are some exceptions, such as alfalfa, where sprouting increases lectins. We recommend the cookbook, Nourishing Traditions, by Sally Fallon for all forms of traditional food preparation including sprouting, fermentation, and cooking methods that reduce harmful lectins.

Tip #4 – Consider investing in a pressure cooker.  Plant lectins are most effectively neutralized when cooked under pressure relatively quickly. This method is ideal for beans, legumes, quinoa and rice, for example.  Avoid slow cookers for plant foods, as they will increase lectin content because of the low temperature used.

Tip #5 -There are some safe lectins in many foods. The lowest lectin content options are asparagus, garlic, celery, mushrooms and onions. Cooked root vegetables like sweet potatoes, yucca and taro, along with leafy greens, cruciferous vegetables, avocados, olives and olive oil are all examples of healthy foods that do contain some lectins.  They can be eaten without restrictions.

Remember, while lectins can wreak havoc on health, it is not possible nor ideal to eliminate them from your diet.  The key is to identify the worst culprits, cut those out, and make sure you are preparing food in ways that minimize or reduce lectin content.  How strict you need to be will be determined by your health status, genetics and willingness to explore the possibility that lectins are standing in your way of better health.



[1] Gundry, Steven R., The Plant Paradox, (New York: HarperCollins, 2017), pg.32

[2] Gundry, Steven R., The Plant Paradox, (New York: HarperCollins, 2017), pg.209-210

[3] Gundry, Steven R., The Plant Paradox, (New York: HarperCollins, 2017), pg.45

[4] https://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2017/08/14/reduce-lectins-in-your-diet.aspx 

By |2018-09-25T10:10:39+00:00May 30th, 2018|Articles, General, NANCY’S NUTRITIONAL NUGGET|

Nutrition Nugget: Manitoba Harvest Hemp Heart Bites

Check It Out – Portable packaging, Dessert Cookie, Breakfast or Lunchbox treat…..

Every once in a while, I see some really great new products that I know our readers will want.  Here is one you need to check out:

Manitoba Harvest Hemp Heart Bites come in a larger bag or individual snack bags. I found them at HEB in the Healthy Living section next to the chia, hemp and dried berries shelf and they are also available on line at vitacost.com and thrivemarket.com. Do you remember Pecan Sandies? That is what these remind me of in texture and enjoyment but thankfully they are chock full of good nutrition. My favorite flavor is the Cinnamon and they work great with my morning tea as a breakfast. They come in chocolate and original too.  For 230 calories in the bag and 15 grams of healthy fat, 15 grams of carbohydrate, 3 of which are fiber and the modest but helpful 10 grams of protein, it makes for a well-rounded food to enjoy. They do contain sugar so those with allergies or trying to reduce sugar or lose weight, you may simply want to enjoy a smaller portion such as 2-4 of the cookie bites rather than the serving size, which is 10 pieces. That makes them great for everyone.

By |2018-04-16T09:39:00+00:00April 16th, 2018|General, NANCY’S NUTRITIONAL NUGGET|
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