Meal planning hacks for the rest of us

What’s the secret to meal planning? The secret is…. there is no secret.  You just do it.  MEAL. PLAN. EVERY. DAY.  There’s nothing inherently “sexy” about it, despite what those flashy instagram posts or blogs lead you to believe, but there are a few tricks to save you time and money. Eventually, you will get to the point where meal prep is just another chore like bathing or brushing your teeth (Am I inspiring you yet!)

IS MEAL PLANNING RIGHT FOR YOU?
You have to get to the point where you are sick and tired of being sick and tired.  The right nutrition will go a long way to improving your energy and health.  Great nutrition nourishes and heals the body.

HERE’S SOME TIPS TO SAVE YOU TIME:

  • Limit Variety During The Week To Save Time And Money. This means the core of what you eat everyday remains the same, but you can make changes to the seasonings or sides.  Core items in my diet include eggs, egg whites, wild Alaskan salmon, cod, chunk light tuna, sardines, or Tempeh. With every meal, I try and have a heaping of leafy greens or cruciferous vegetables. This could be anything from arugula and spinach salad, to roasted cauliflower and broccoli. Steamed kale and sautéed riced cauliflower is another great option.
  • Prep And Cook In Bulk On The Weekends.(or your least busy day). If Sunday is your meal prep day, then you’ll have to make sure your grocery shopping is done by the day before.  For me, this means I have to put the frozen fish in the refrigerator on Friday or Saturday in order for it to be thawed when I’m ready to cook it.
  • Have The Right Tools For The Right Job. You’ll need make sure your kitchen tools are easily accessible.  Tools that I use each week include a vegetable steamer, a toaster oven, an iron skillet, a large skillet, a baking stone, a Nutribullet and of course, a coffee maker.  Everything I use is stored strategically close to my cooking area.  In addition to cookware, an often neglected aspect of meal prep is Tupperware and a large insulated lunch bag.  Remember, you’ll be cooking anywhere from 2-5 servings to last you throughout the week and most of your meals won’t be eaten at home.  You’ll have to find a system that works for you.  For me this means I cook on Sundays and Tuesday evenings since I work Monday through Thursday.
  • Know your grocery store and get in and get out. Stick to your grocery list and try to avoid impulse purchases.  If you can limit variety, then your grocery shopping experience will be quick and easy because you’ll be eating the same core foods each week.  This recommendation is not a popular one, but unless you have extra time to plan, purchase and prepare a new menu each week, it’s really your best option.  The number one reason people don’t prepare their own meals is because of perceived lack of time.

SOME FINAL POINTERS—
The core of a healthy eating plan is one that emphasizes whole foods in their mostly natural state.  It should be low in added sugars, refined carbohydrates and saturated fat.  Feel free to go sugar-free, but don’t replace it with artificial sweeteners.  It’s worth mentioning that your meal plan should also be calorically balanced with the appropriate macro and micronutrients for your individual needs. This is your meal plan!

Don’t have time to cook?  No problem. Save time, energy and money and let our team of culinary professionals prepare your meals for you and your family.  Click here to order fresh, chef-prepared meals.  Order them just the way you like by visiting our website.

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Hidden Cues To Eating

Lifestyle Education Discussion:
“Hidden Cues To Eating”
“Why can’t I stop?” Have you ever repeated this question to yourself in an attempt to understand your eating behaviors? Of course you have. We all have. It’s a battle between what YOU WANT TO HAPPEN and what you ACTUALLY DO. It all comes down to food habits and food cues. It’s often said that nutrition is 20% science and 80% habit, so the question often is not “what,” but “how.” Let’s dig into this a little deeper.

A habit is a routine or behavior that is repeated regularly and tends to occur subconsciously. No question that habits are hard to break, and this is especially true with eating habits. Cues are anything in your internal or external environment that trigger you to a particular behavior. With food cues, they can originate internally, externally or arise in certain social situations. You will be familiar with the following:

– Eating at weddings, funerals and birthday’s
– Eating/drinking beer watching football games
– Overeating while watching TV
– Eating popcorn and drinking soda at a movie theater
– Eating at night (stressful day and unwinding with food)
– Mindless Eating at parties
– Eating candy from a coworkers desk
– Eating donuts or cookies left in a breakroom
– Eating out with coworkers at lunch
– Overeating at buffets
– Craving a whopper after seeing a Burger King commercial
– Stopping for a Krispy Kreme donut after seeing the “hot now” sign
– Eating for emotional reasons (stress, lonely, anxious, happy, sad, bored, angry, tired, etc)

When I’m working with individuals in a one-on-one setting it may be surprising to find that we spend little time discussing nutrition and “what” he/she should be eating. Instead, the majority of our energy is spent identifying habits and triggers. The focus of yesterday’s discussion was two-fold: Identify and recognize various cues to unhealthy eating habits and to understand how to replace those unwanted habits with habits that provide a positive reward for the brain. As we discussed yesterday, the brain loves reward. The more powerful the reward, the more difficult it is to break the habit. Hyperpalatable foods such as pizza, ice cream, junk food, etc stimulate the pleasure centers of the brain and provide a powerful reward (dopamine) that is hard to break. If you want to change the habit, you have to find an activity that provides a reward to the brain. The challenge is that eating junk food provides instant relief. Eating well and exercising produces more of a long-term, sustained reward. If you truly want to change your eating and exercising habits, you need to do so in a way that provides reward for the brain.

Some rewards of eating well and exercising:

– Improved energy
– Self confidence
– Disease prevention
– Look good
– Feel strong
– Empowered
– Shame-free
– Better sleep
– Getting off medications
– Cured depression/anxiety
– Improved immunity
– Glowing skin
– Increase mobility
– Freedom to live

I say this all the time, but weight loss isn’t about having more willpower or self-control. Instead, it’s about digging deep and understanding what motivates you. It’s about taking an inventory of your environment and then developing strategies that ensure success.

To the ladies and gentlemen that have made this work for them, please post your suggestions/experiences!

Sustainable Weight Loss

Once a quarter, we invite clients to speak about their successes with weight loss and lifestyle change. How do you define “success?”  Well, it turns out that weight loss success isn’t just about hitting a number on a scale.  It’s much deeper than that.

People who come to Nutrition Solutions have one thing in common–they’re desperate to get healthier.  And that’s about where you could draw the line on similarities.  Each person that comes in receives an individualized assessment and a personalized road map for achieving their health and weight loss goals. Why? Because each individual comes in with a unique identity that includes their goals, values, preferences, genetics, biology and so on.  We firmly believe that there is no one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to health and our interactions with clients reflect that.

In my role as a dietitian and certified personal trainer, I get to work intimately with clients. I get to know what they want, need, and what matters to them most. Nearly everyone that comes to work with us desires weight loss, but as soon as you scratch below the surface you’ll find that what they want is more personal and nuanced than that.  What clients really want is to return to a place of balance when they weren’t limited by their weight. Over and over I hear clients excited to be able to do basic things like bend over and tie shoes, or ride roller coasters with their kids.  People who get healthy for life realize that certain health choices don’t line up with their values and goals and they commit to the process of change.  This does not, however, mean they are perfect and that they don’t make mistakes.  It does mean that they don’t ever give up and they surround themselves with the right support.

Sustainable weight loss isn’t really about a number, but rather it’s about a lifestyle and a commitment to daily habits that fuel that lifestyle.  At Nutrition Solutions, our mission is to provide tools and professional support to aid in this lifestyle transformation. We have everything from medically supervised weight loss programs, to nutritional genetic testing, and everything in between. We even have a culinary team that will prepare your meals for you!  All of the tools and support are available to each individual at each step of their weight loss journey.

If you are interested in learning more about our programs and services, call us at (864) 676-1248 or simply visit our website for more information

Nutrition Solutions

 

Smart, Savvy Grocery Shopping

How much thought and planning goes into your grocery store experience? Do you stick to a grocery list or do you just “wing” it every time and hope for the best? The good news is that with a little understanding and planning, you can transform your health completely by stocking your kitchen with wholesome, nourishing foods. The opposite is also true; If you stock your kitchen with junk food and give no thought as to what you will eat, your health will suffer.

Let’s talk about confusion for a moment. Think about catchy buzzwords or phrases that grab your attention–  “High protein, low-carb, gluten-free, non-gmo, organic, made with whole grains, 100% natural, immune support.” What do all these terms really mean? Well, not much. They are just words that have been glossed up so you’ll by their product. The first step to becoming a savvy and smart shopper is simply an awareness that your food purchasing decisions are heavily influenced by external factors such as marketing, product placement, consumer trends, etc. Buyer Beware and be on the lookout for marketing ploys. Even the layout, the lighting and the smells at grocery stores may have been manufactured to encourage increased spending on junk food.

The second step involves sticking to a plan, or a shopping list, but how do you determine if a food is healthy or worthy to be in your cart? There are some general rules to follow:

  • Eat food in its mostly natural state. Begin the process of incorporating whole, REAL foods into your diet and phase out “food-like substances.” As a general rule, the majority of your food should have less than 5 ingredients.
  • Forget the packaging and look deeper. Peek at the Nutrition Facts Label and thoroughly read the ingredient list. Are the ingredients substances that you want in your body?
  • Is this food satisfying and nourishing, without being addictive?
  • Is this food high in sugar and salt? Hint: there are over 50 names for sugar. If you struggle with portion control or binge eating, engineered foods with the fat-salt-sugar combo may be nearly impossible to eat mindfully
  • Is this food a good investment for my health? Does it fit within my budget?

There is no one size fits all approach when it comes to meeting your nutrition needs and it’s important to consider your goals, preferences, genetics and lifestyle factors. So although I wholly believe in eating natural, REAL foods, keep this in mind when preparing your nutrition plan and most importantly, seek the support and advice of your registered dietitian or nutrition coach.  He or she can provide advice, as well as offer suggestions on tools and apps that may help with your grocery planning.

Smart Buys for Convenience:

Proteins

  • Chicken, Fish, Shrimp
  • Tuna, Salmon packages/cans
  • Tofu/Tempeh
  • Protein powder of choice
  • Egg whites
  • Eggs
  • Natural Nut Butters/Natural Peanut Butter
  • Protein bar of choice, low in sugar

Starches

  • Canned beans/lentils
  • Frozen Quinoa/Brown Rice
  • Steel Cut Oats
  • squash

Vegetables/Fruits

  • Frozen or Fresh Vegetables
  • Fresh or Frozen Fruit

Dairy

  • Plain, Lowfat yogurt
  • Lowfat dairy or unsweetened Almond or Soymilk
  • Low-fat Cheese Sticks

Miscellaneous

  • Sparkling water, La Croix, Club Soda or Unsweetened Tea
  • Herbs and Seasoning
  • Bragg’s Liquid Aminos or low sodium Tamari
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Nutritional Yeast

When you get home from the grocery store, make sure to set yourself up for success by prepping vegetables, fruits and healthy snacks for easy access. If you have the opportunity, try to attend a grocery shopping tour that’s held on the 3rd Wednesday of every month at 6pm.

Weight loss is a team sport

Let me share a secret about weight loss:  it’s not just about the diet, or even fitness for that matter.  So often people approach weight loss with the end goal in mind and they often assume that the journey there is simply a matter of finding the right diet and exercise routine.  Although in a simple sense that is ultimately true, this fails to appreciate the complexities and nuances involved.  For example, humans are hard-wired for pleasure and they seek out rewarding experiences.  If you can understand that basic principle, then it’s no wonder why many of us would prefer to binge on pizza rather than salmon and broccoli, and why a Netflix binge is almost always preferred to a challenging hike or run.  Never mind the consequences, we’re thinking about the here and now–the instant gratification.

If you want to lose weight and keep it off, you’ll have to look at your friends and family. Yep, that’s right.  Weight loss is about having the right support system and often this means you must make severe changes to your social networks.  Take a look at the top 5 people you spend the most time with.  Is it your partner, coworkers, friends or family?  What are their health habits?  Unfortunately, I have enough experience to know that most people trying to lose weight lack what I would consider a basic support system.  Support does not mean that your partner allows you to diet while they remain stuck in their own poor health habits.  Support means they are on their own health journey and are alongside to encourage you when you’re feeling down.

Weight loss is a team sport and shouldn’t be something you tackle on your own.  If you want to lose weight and keep it off, you’ll need the right team and you’ll need tons of practice.  Will you fumble?  Of course, but you will learn and eventually get to the point where you are leading by example.

Who do you need on your team and why?  Get clear about what you need and then get creative about building your support system.  We can help!  If you’re tired of yo-yo dieting and you’re looking for a real lifestyle change, give us a call or visit our website. https://nutritionsolutionsonline.com/

Getting Active & Staying Active

Monday Lifestyle Education Discussion:
“Getting Active & Staying Active”
Is there anyone who DOESN’T know that exercise and physical activity is great for your health? I am confident that everyone reading this post believes in the healing power of exercise. But having knowledge that something is good for you doesn’t naturally evolve into you ACTUALLY doing something about it.  What motivates one person to change, may not motivate another. To simply say that “exercise is good for you” rarely inspires someone to adopt an active lifestyle

So let me ask you: Do you engage in regular physical activity that improves your health? If yes, then why? If no, then why not? This is a simple question, but requires deep exploration of your personal values and goals. I’ll admit that the answers are often out of reach from our consciousness. We say we want health, but somehow our actions contradict our wishes. So what’s the solution? Let’s figure that out!

– Determine the WHY behind your exercise habits. What do you want it to accomplish for you? Improved energy, weight loss, alleviate anxiety/depression, improve strength, functional mobility?
– What are the pros and cons of adopting the exercise behavior? (An initial investment in time and energy is required but it pays off)
– What demotivates you? Lack of quick results? Fatigue? Lack of social support?

Some tips that help motivate and maintain motivation:
– Be clear about what you want to get out of exercise
– Get clear about what your intrinsic motivators are as well as demotivaters
– Closely look at the pros and cons of adopting the exercise behavior
– Jump right in! Don’t wait until everything is perfect or you will never get anywhere. Start with baby steps so that you can establish habits
– Find friends. Keep it social. You’re much more likely to stick with behavior, especially in the beginning, if you can join others
– Schedule it! No one has the excuse of saying “there’s not enough time.” Make it a priority and fit it in with your schedule. You may have to get creative
– Get creative with exercise. Think outside the box. No equipment necessary for workouts
– identify ways to increase movement throughout the day. Park far away. Walk or bike to the grocery, etc
– Aim for 30-60 minutes on most days. Include some strength training exercises

Being active is so much more than exercise.  It’s a daily commitment to move more and sit less, and that’s just a simple way to think of it. There’s 24 hours in the day, 7-8 for sleeping, and the rest?  Get moving!

Have you tried the You diet?

No doubt, you’ve tried countless diets over the years in an effort to shed a few pounds or to improve your health.  Fad diets are easy to spot once you know what to look for.  They speak to our need for control when everything is out of control.  Fad diets are an attractive option because they seem to make logical sense, that is, until you do some actual research from an unbiased source.  Here’s what you need to know:  THERE IS NO ONE SIZE FITS ALL WHEN IT COMES TO YOUR HEALTH.  There’s no magical formula that will get you the results you want.  You can’t follow your trainer’s diet and expect to get the same results.   The magic happens when you figure out what you need to be successful, but don’t think it all has to be done on your own.  It can be highly worth your time and money to seek the support of a registered dietitian as you work through the stages of change.

A sound nutritional plan will always include lots of vegetables, lean proteins and whole foods, while being low in sugar, refined carbohydrates and highly processed foods.  If you seek better health through better nutrition, you should know that the answer isn’t “out there.”  Instead, the answers you need lie within you—specifically, in the mass between your two ears.  The question often is not what should I eat, but rather how can I make it happen.  Diets fail for lack of proper planning and execution.

If that overly simplistic explanation doesn’t quite motivate you, there is another tool that can help.  Nutritional genetic testing looks at your individual genetic makeup which determines how you may respond to specific nutrients, diets and exercise strategies.  It’s called Nutrigenomix and it reinforces the idea that no one person responds equally to the same diet.  Instead of bouncing from one fad diet to the next, you can be tested and the results will be reviewed with you by a trained professional.  Likely this person will be a dietitian and they will counsel you on the appropriate nutrition and exercise strategies for you.  If you are interested in learning more about this testing, schedule and appointment by clicking here

Nutrition Solutions prides itself on providing personalized nutrition and health recommendations.  Call us to schedule a free assessment today (864) 676-1248

 

Change Your Eating Habits

What’s your eating style? Are you a stress eater, a convenience eater, or do you simply just have a difficult time with balanced portions? Most of us would answer “YES to the above.” There’s no guilt or shame in recognizing that you may be an emotional eater. We live under chronic stress in a food-abundant culture. As I always say, food is cheap, available and socially accepted as a way to enhance or soothe your emotions. The first step to changing any unwanted habits is to recognize the patterns.

Chronic Dieter

This person tends toward all or nothing thinking. They are either on the diet, or off the diet. They may use words like “bad” or “good” to describe their eating. “I’ll get back on track tomorrow… Or Monday.. Or after the holidays… Or once the kids go back to school… or when things settle down.” The reality is that we are all on the journey all the time. There is never a time when we are off track, and mistakes can be excellent teachers. Create a vision of yourself for next year, or 10 years from now. What do you see? If you desire health and quality of life, then make adjustments to your daily habits so that you will be healthy. If your goal is weight loss, then set your mind to it and make it happen. It’s not easy, but it’s not rocket science either.

Tips for the chronic dieter:

Get rid of the all or nothing, black and white thinking because it will weigh you down. Banish the word “diet” from your lexicon and instead focus on a tiny habits approach. Don’t major in the minors, but get serious about going after the low-lying fruit, e.g., worrying about gmo’s and gluten doesn’t matter much if you are overeating and not exercising.  Focus your energies instead on eating more vegetables, lean proteins and reducing intake of sugar in all of its forms (sugar, maple syrup, honey, coconut sugar, high-fructose corn syrup, etc).  Stay involved with Nutrition Solutions by coming to classes so you can continue to learn how to lose weight without being on a never-ending diet. The word for you is CONSISTENCY!

Emotional eater

This person uses food to cope with emotions. Whether happy or sad, stressed or angry, this person has learned that food can be a powerful way to alter their emotional state. Simply saying “no” to food without addressing the underlying emotion isn’t very helpful.  It’s not for a lack of willpower that these individuals stay stuck in unhealthy habits.  Eating habits start very early in life and so it’s likely that a person’s eating style has been ingrained for decades. Think about the way in which adults reward a toddler’s good behavior with a sweet treat. That child’s brain learns early on that savory foods are associated with feeling good.  The answer for emotional eating is to go after the root and address the underlying emotional source of overeating.

Tips for emotional eaters:

Identify alternative ways to cope with strong emotions. Instead of using food, try walking or exercise. Prayer, meditation, yoga and breathing exercises can be very helpful at reducing stress hormones. More than likely, a person will have to go deeper by restructuring their entire schedules so that they can live a more balanced life. You are in charge of creating the life you want and need. Come to the lifestyle group classes at Nutrition Solutions and draw strength from others by being supported.

Convenience Eater

This person’s eating habits are driven by a need for convenience. They have not created a space in their schedule for planning meals and snacks and so they rely on fast food and processed food products. They’ve outsourced the responsibility of deciding what to eat to corporations and as a result they eat high-calorie, heavily processed foods that ultimately makes them feel tired and sluggish.  Often times they skip meals or snacks and may eat only once or twice per day.

Tips for convenience eaters:

Plan ahead. Take pride in your body and all the ways it works for you.  Make the commitment to fuel it with high-quality foods. No one would think about putting economy-grade fuel into a Ferrari so don’t fuel your bodies with junk food.  Come to lifestyle group classes, particularly the ones pertaining to nutrition and meal prep. Attend as many grocery tours and cooking classes as you can so that you can develop skills necessary for meal planning.

The overeating health foodie

This person is knowledgeable about nutritious foods and they might describe themselves as eating very healthy. They tend to be well-read on recent trends in nutrition and they may even take pride in their meal planning and cooking skills, however, they simply just eat too much. This person also may not realize that even extremely “healthy” energy-dense foods must be eaten in moderation (olive oil, nut butters, and avocados for example).

Tips for the overeating foodie:

Practice using measuring tools and sticking to recommended serving sizes initially so that you can retrain your brain to understand what a balanced portion size is.  One tablespoon of Extra Virgin Olive Oil has 120 Calories. Two measly tablespoons of hummus contain about 50-60 calories.  Be aware of foods with health halo’s and nutritional buzzwords such as organic, gluten-free, natural, coconut oil, superfood, etc. Be on guard against marketing buzzwords and don’t assume it’s a free food just because you think it’s healthy.  In my opinion, raw and lightly steamed vegetables can be eaten without limitations, and in fact, it’s a good strategy to increase intake of fiber-rich foods due its effect on satiety (not to mention for the nutrition).

In general, changing eating habits is a process that occurs over time. It’s important to understand the internal and external factors that influence your eating decisions.  Healing your relationship with food requires planning, intention and mindfulness.  Put thought into what you will eat, how you will eat and with whom you will eat, but also make sure to employ balance.  Eating should be a pleasurable experience, but it should not feel out of control.  Check out thecenterformindfuleating.org and use some of their resources and tips to get you started.

 

Eat More Plants!

It seems we love our dietary extremes.

Contrary to what you may have heard, plant-based eating is not radical. In fact, eating plant-based doesn’t even necessarily mean you give up eating meat or animal products. My definition of plant-based eating is a diet that is centered around plant foods that may or may not be seasoned with meat or animal products.

A plant-based diet is one that focuses on plants–one that is plant-centric.  It’s exciting, colorful, tasty and with lots of texture.  It does not necessarily mean that someone adopting a more plant-based diet abstains from meat all together.  There are different types of plant-based diets ranging from Vegan (no animal products), to a more flexible approach such as the Flexitarian diet.  Often times I promote a Flexitarian pattern which seeks to incorporate more plant-based foods into your existing diet.  So instead of subtracting or cutting out, we focused on foods to add—a concept known as crowding out.

Benefits associated with plant-based diets are too many to mention, but here are the most notable:

  • Lower body weight, weight loss
  • Eat more, weigh less (plant-based diets are typically lower in calories)
  • Decrease risk of diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and other chronic diseases
  • Reversal of atherosclerosis
  • Reduced inflammation
  • Healthy gut microbiome
  • Reduced blood pressure
  • Reduce risk of cancer
  • Better brain health
  • Increased intake of important nutrients and fiber
  • Cost-saving

If you would like to learn more about the benefits associated with plant-based eating, visit http://www.nutritionfacts.org which is a website dedicated to providing evidence-based nutrition advice. Adopting a more plant-based diet is exciting and fun, but can undoubtedly be intimidating to some. Below are some practical and simple suggestions.  I’d encourage you to start gradually and build your culinary skills as you go.

 

 

 

Too busy to prepare your own plant-based meals?  Have our chef and culinary team do it for you! 

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Body Image and Self Esteem

Body image is the way you think or feel about your body—not necessarily how you look, but how you feel about the way you look or move in your body and it can be positive or negative.  Everyone has one.  It’s developed over time by many influences such as cultural beauty standards, life experiences, comments, media pressures and so on. If you struggle with maintaining a healthy body image, here are some practical ways to help:

  • Understand the difference between health and size. Health is not necessary about a number on a scale. Some people with a “normal” BMI are, in fact, unhealthy whereas others with an “overweight” BMI can be healthy.  Health and appearance are two difference things
  • Recognize true beauty, which is timeless. Health and confidence radiates beauty
  • Keep a list of your positive qualities that have nothing to do with your appearance. Perhaps you are kind, perhaps you are assertive, perhaps you have strong legs. Start a list and keep adding to that list
  • Get moving. Find creative ways to move your body in a way that makes you feel good
  • Always treat your body with respect and kindness. Always
  • Understand that your worth is not measured by the size of your waist or the number on the scale. If you are human, you are worthy and entitled to love
  • Honor your body for what it does
  • Talk through your issues with a trusted friend, a professional counselor or therapist
  • Commit to making positive health choices that will improve your self-confidence and feelings of empowerment
  • Understand that you are unique, with unique abilities, talents and a unique shape

Unfortunately, many individuals have struggled with a negative body image for so long that it’s hard to even know where to start. You may find it helpful to think back to a time in your youth when you were fearless and moved with ease, long before you had suffered any blows to your developing self-esteem.  Find ways to support this vision of the new, “old” you.  Regardless of how you feel, the real you is strong, healthy, beautiful and talented.  Connect with that and let it sink in deep.

At Nutrition Solutions, we believe in long-term support and comprehensive approaches.  If you’d like help with improving your body image and self-esteem, reach out and we’d love to connect you with a licensed professional counselor.

Nutrition Solutions