Healthy Eating & Nutrition Blog

Welcome to Dianne Rishikof's healthy eating and nutrition blog. Check back frequently for weight loss tips, advice for healthy nutrition and therapeutic diet plans, delicious recipes and other cutting-edge functional medicine nutrition tips. If you would like to receive notifications via email when this blog is updated, simply enter your email address in the Blog Subscribe form to your right.

Body Love

When we think about our bodies, we focus on how we look. When we focus on how we look, we usually focus on what we don’t like.

It is certainly a step in a positive direction to notice and appreciate what we do like about our appearance. Instead of zooming in on our saggy butt, we love our beautiful eyes. But this is not the body love I am talking about here.

We need to shift out of the appearance mindset altogether.

How does your body serve you?

It’s time to give your body the due respect it deserves for all it does for you. Your body is your home. It is also your vehicle for getting around in the world. It is an intricate machine that performs incredibly complicated biochemical processes millions of times, every single second of every day. (I can lend you my anatomy and physiology textbook if you don’t believe me).
Without your body, you couldn’t do anything.  You couldn’t walk, see, write, hug, laugh, hear music, or taste delicious food.

Every moment, your body is working for you. Even if you have a chronic illness or disability, there are still millions of things your body is doing right, all the time. It rises to the challenge this world puts on it. It surmounts obstacles and tries its best despite not always being fed the optimal fuel.

Aging also brings out negative feelings about appearance. But aging is just wear and tear, evidence of a life lived and a job well done.

Your body carries you. It allows you to participate in life. You only get one, so take care of it.

Healthy Snacks for Kids

One of the leading nutritionists for kids, Jill Castle, has released another masterpiece: The Healthy Snack Planner for Kids. 

You know that smart, strategic, nourishing, well-timed snacks are better than grazing on junk all day. But HOW do you plan smart snacks for your kids? She answers this question and as well as many others. How many snacks should your child eat? When and where should they eat them? What foods make healthy snacks? The most common snack mistakes that parents make. And she provides a snack planner to help you step by step. Plus there are 85 snack ideas in the back!

Get your copy here.

A weight loss plan as unique as your genes

There are a lot of sensible weight loss recommendations (and many non-sensible ones). I have a lot of success helping people lose weight thru cutting sugar and processed starch and raising their protein and healthy fats. If that doesn’t work, I dig deeper and look at their stress hormones, insulin sensitivity, thyroid function and various other medical reasons for lack of weight loss. If that doesn’t work, now I have another trick up my sleeve: genetics.

I have started using GxSlim by Genetic Direction. Through testing your DNA, we find out how your body processes foods and deals with exercise. Then we can develop weight loss recommendations based on your unique genetic profile.

There are 7 components that are discovered through this test:

  1. if your body is resistant to losing weight
  2. how well your body is able to process carbohydrates in your diet
  3. how much body fat you can lose through cardio exercise
  4. how well your body is able to absorb folate
  5. how sensitive your body is to the amount of fat in your diet
  6. how your body responds to strength training
  7. how sensitive your body is to the amount of protein in your diet

This can show us which kinds of foods you should or shouldn’t eat and how you should exercise to optimize your weight loss. Very exciting stuff!

Lyme Disease, what you haven’t heard


When you or your child gets a tick bite, fear goes straight to your heart. As well it should. Because some tick bites lead to Lyme disease. Lyme disease is caused by the bacteria borellia burgdorferi and it can wreak havoc on any and every part of your body, especially your gut and your immune system.

The symptoms of Lyme are widespread, and typically antibiotics are presented as the main and sole solution. Doctors hand out a prescription and send you on your way with no guidance on the healing. While antibiotics are necessary, they don’t provide a whole systems approach to recovery, which you definitely need. Additionally, antibiotics leave your microbiome in bad shape, and with a taxed immune system (from the Lyme), you won’t be able to fight out any bad yeast that cropped up during antibiotic treatment.

What does it look like?

It’s necessary to recognize the signs and symptoms of Lyme, as they are vast and could be masked under other diagnoses.

Early symptoms

  • bull’s eye type rash
  • fever and or chills
  • headache
  • stiff neck
  • painful muscles or joints
  • fatigue
  • swollen glands
  • symptoms can appear within 3-30 days after the bite

Advanced symptoms

  • fatigue (systemic exertion intolerance disease)
  • migratory joint and muscular pain
  • neck and shoulder stiffness
  • daily persistent headaches
  • neuropathies
  • tingling and numbness
  • disordered sleep
  • recurrent flu-like symptoms
  • cognitive dysfunction
  • mood and psychiatric dysfunctions
  • increased sensitivity to foods, smells, light and noise

Because the symptoms are so widespread, it makes sense that Lyme disease has a systemic burden, including ongoing inflammation, immune system exhaustion, cellular oxidative stress, and neurotoxin release.

What to do?

It is hopeful to know that the symptoms of Lyme can be attenuated through different lifestyle, diet, and supplemental protocols.

Sleep should be addressed within a holistic approach to Lyme disease. Sleep disturbances and chronic fatigue are prevalent with Lyme. And sleep is so necessary for healing and building the immune system up.

  • Arrange your schedule to allow for 8 hours of sleep.
  • Practicing good sleep hygiene is important: not using screens for a couple hours before bed, making sure you go to bed at the same time every night and sleeping in a cool dark room.
  • If falling asleep or staying asleep is a problem, there are numerous natural sleep aids: melatonin, passionflower, lemon balm, or GABA precursors.

Stress management is essential. External stress can further the stress inside your body and prevent recovery.

  • Meditation
  • Down time
  • Laughter
  • Deep breaths, taken throughout the day

Diet: the goals of being to reduce inflammation, rebuild the immune system, improve gut health (repair after the pathogens and antibiotics), and nourish the person.

  • Eat whole foods
  • Avoid high sugar and fat foods, such as processed starches, candy and junk food, fried foods
  • Increase intake of fresh vegetables, fruits, and grains
  • Choose organic when possible
  • Eat more anti-inflammatory foods (plant based, omega-3 fatty acids, Mediterranean diet)
  • Repopulate the gut with probiotic rich fermented foods (contraindicated in some people)
  • Address food sensitivities, such as gluten and dairy, as all food sensitivities can increase inflammation, weaken the immune system and worse Lyme symptoms

For gut health, we might need to kill off any yeast or other pathogens that are present. (There are many options for this, but I don’t recommend trying them without supervision from a qualified practitioner.) Then also heal the gut lining from any injury from the Lyme or other pathogens as well as reinoculate with probiotics.

Supplementation should be utilized in order to address and TREAT poor immune function, chronic fatigue, neurological symptoms, muscle spasms, joint pain, and gut and hormonal imbalances.

Some ideas to decrease overall inflammation and inhibit pro-inflammatory cytokine production:

  • Curcumin/turmeric
  • Quercetin
  • EPA/DHA (omega 3 fatty acids or fish oil)
  • Alpha lipoic acid
  • Tart cherry juice
  • Antioxidants
  • Coconut oil
  • Green tea

Some ideas to address chronic fatigue or neurological symptoms and boost general immune health:

  • High quality multivitamin
  • Co-Enzyme Q10
  • Acetyl L-Carnitine
  • Vitamin B Complex (with activated Bs)
  • Gamma linolenic acid (GLA)
  • Omega 3 EFA fish oil
  • Alpha lipoic acid
  • Magnesium

Here is a testimonial from a client of mine. She came to me, feeling like crap, after the doctor had put her on numerous rounds of antibiotics for the Lyme:

“My sophomore year of high school I was diagnosed with Lyme’s Disease. This led to multiple rounds of doxycycline and amoxicillin along with my 5 year battle of joint pain, fatigue, and the ever present stomach issues. I finally began seeking help, and was led to Dianne. She put me on a treatment plan, for the lifetime of stress my body’s been under due to the high amounts of antibiotics I had been on, and quickly began rebuilding my gut. Alongside the supplements Dianne recommended, I changed my diet and almost immediately began feeling a change! Within three months I felt like a new person. I have a new lease on life that I had never experienced before and began living a life without fearing of the pain that was coming. I am now studying abroad in France and have the freedom from suffering with fatigue, pain, or digestive issues.”

As you can see a functional approach to Lyme is much more comprehensive than what you will get from the doctor alone. Antibiotics kill the Lyme but don’t support the healing or clean up the mess that the Lyme (or the antibiotics themselves) created.

2 Things That Get Rid of Allergies

This time of year, every one of my clients starts their session with “My allergies are horrible, what do you recommend”

There are many natural anti-histamines, allowing for relief from allergies without the horrible side effects that the medicines bring.

There are two products I really like:

HistaEze by Designs for Health

This product has stinging nettle, an anti-inflammatory allergy remedy that has stood the test of time through centuries. It also has quercetin, a natural anti-histamine and mast cell stabilizer. It also contains Vitamin C. These ingredients, plus a couple others, balance your immune response during allergy season.

AllQlear by Integrative Therapeutics

This product is actually chewable, so it is fast acting anti-histamine relief. It is made from quail eggs to stabilize mast cells (which release histamine).

If you are miserable, you can try both. They have different ingredients so you wouldn’t be getting double the ingredients, just double the relief.

Both of these are high quality 3rd party tested supplements that can’t be found in stores, but can be bought online through a practitioner’s dispensary. Click here to set up an account and shop!

And this post wouldn’t be complete without mentioning the gut. Allergies are linked to the microbiome. So cleaning up your gut and regulating your immune system would help too!

Wondering how to end your binge eating habit?

Do you have secret issues with food?

I find that a lot of people do, but this is one area where I am not trained enough to help. I often find myself telling my clients that I will fix their gut and weight and fatigue and whatever else but “sorry, I can’t help with binge eating habits”. Well now, I’ve found a resource to recommend.

My friend and colleague Julie Latz is the expert on teaching people how to stop binge eating and putting an end to sneaking and hiding food. She has a free e-book on how to stop binge eating.

It’s jam packed with great insights about…

  • How to handle the out of control feeling you have around food without dieting
  • How to finally lose weight without an ounce of willpower
  • Why eating your trigger foods is actually crucial to stop binge eating

Key # 5 really did surprise me!

You can download your copy here.

She also has a great 8 week program, with daily support. Start with the free ebook and see if it speaks to you! Enjoy!

Foods that are good for the GUT


The digestive tract houses 100 trillion microbes. This is referred to as the microbiome. These bugs have tremendous influence over our health and mood. We hope that in our microbiome there are more good than bad bugs. Simply put, if the bugs are good we are healthy and happy, if they are bad we suffer. There isn’t a health condition to which the microbiome isn’t linked. Seriously. (some examples: anxiety/depression, ADHD, Autism, IBS, IBD, Parkinson’s, Chronic Fatigue, Fibromyalgia, All autoimmune diseases, eczema/psoriasis). If you have a health condition, your gut may need a full overhaul, not just probiotics and prebiotics as outlined below.

Most of us have heard of probiotics. The research on probiotics is overwhelmingly strong and positive. You can ingest probiotics in a pill form. This is a good option for anyone. But especially those who have histamine intolerance or Candida overgrowth or some other condition where eating fermented foods is a bad idea. Make sure your probiotic is a reputable brand (which guarantees to have in it what it says it has in it). The best brands can be bought through Wellevate, create an account and shop away!

In this blog post I wanted to just touch upon the foods that are good for our microbiome.

Fermented foods:

Fermented foods have probiotics in them. Some foods were produced with live probiotics (such as yogurt), make sure these say “active live cultures”. Some foods are fermented with whatever wild bacteria are on the original vegetable (sauerkraut). These need to be found in the refrigerated section and not be pasteurized.

Examples of fermented foods:

  • acidophilus milk
  • buttermilk
  • cheese (aged)
  • fermented meats
  • fermented vegetables
  • fermented grains
  • kefir
  • kimchi
  • kombucha
  • kvass
  • miso
  • natto
  • pickled vegetables (raw)
  • raw vinegars
  • sauerkraut
  • sour cream
  • tempeh
  • yogurt (plain, no added sugar, active cultures)

Prebiotic foods

Prebiotics are fibers that feed the beneficial probiotics in your gut. These are helpful to feed the good so they can proliferate. Sometimes prebiotics are added to foods (bars, probiotic supplements, etc). These are:  galactooligosaccharides (GOS), fructooligosaccharides (FOS), oligofructose (OF), chicory fiber, or inulin.

Foods we find prebiotics in:

  • Asparagus
  • Apples
  • artichokes
  • banana
  • berries
  • black beans
  • cherries
  • dandelion greens
  • chicory root
  • chickpeas
  • eggplant
  • endive
  • flaxseeds
  • garlic
  • honey
  • jerusalem artichokes (sunchokes)
  • jicama
  • kefir
  • kiwis
  • leafy greens
  • leeks
  • legumes
  • lentils
  • mangoes
  • oatmeal
  • onions
  • peas
  • pears
  • quinoa
  • radicchio
  • tomatoes
  • white beans
  • whole grains
  • yogurt


These are chemical compunds that come from plants. They are used by your gut bacteria to make beneficial substances. These chemical compounds have names such as flavanones, isoflavones, flavonols, anthocyanins, flavones.

Foods that we find them in:

  • cloves
  • cocoa powder
  • flaxseed meal
  • dried sage
  • berries
  • pomegranate
  • apples
  • hazelnut
  • dried peppermint
  • dried rosemary, dried thyme
  • grapes
  • capers
  • pecan
  • celery seed
  • dark chocolate (70% or higher)
  • chestnut
  • black olives
  • plums
  • lemons
  • tea

How many of these can you eat on a regular basis?


Taco Seasoning

Tacos are a weekly meal in our house. At first I used any old “taco spice” envelope. Tasted good, and who knows what is in it. Then I looked at the ingredients and was horrified at all the sugar and chemicals. So I switched to a spice envelope from Whole foods. Still a little sugar but improvement nonetheless. Then one day I learned I am yeast sensitive. I can’t eat yeast, and that’s an ingredient in the envelope. So now I make my own. It is cheaper and healthier. Plus, it is kid approved, despite having no sugar.

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp cumin

1/2  tsp cayenne pepper

1/2 tsp paprika

2 tsp chili powder

1 tsp onion powder

1 tsp garlic powder

1 tsp corn starch

Brown 1.5 pounds of grass fed ground beef. Add the powder and 2 tablespoons of water and mix.

An email made me cry

While I invest my attention and experience in every client, some of the stories that I hear from prospective clients can strike me deep in my heart. By the time some people reach out to me, they have endured frustrating and confusing symptoms with misdiagnoses and misdirected treatment efforts.

The following story affected me especially deeply. I share it now because I suspect that there are many others out there who may be facing similar struggles. To anyone out there who finds that this story resonates with your own, I say to you, things can get better. (shared with permission)

It started with an email from someone seeking my services: “I’m 17 and have a plethora of digestive issues and am in desperate need of a nutritionist who understands and actually believes in poor gut health. I have read your website and you seem like the PERFECT fit, I could really use your help to help put me out of my misery.” In all the emails that I receive from prospective clients, it is always striking how each one has a unique story to tell. What struck me about this one is that she was so young and so committed to getting the help that she desperately needs. I replied with my usual details (hours, rates, etc) and never heard back from her. That happens sometimes, as people just aren’t ready.

A couple of weeks went by, and I decided to follow up. I might not have, except she seemed so ready and like such an ideal client for my services. This time she did respond, thanking me for checking in. Then she told me why she had not responded the first time:

She said that she wished she could come see me, but her parents don’t believe in leaky gut. Since she was still a legal minor, they had legal authority over her medical care. So, until she turned 18, she would have to suffer. I replied that we didn’t have to use the term leaky gut.

She replied: “I was avoiding gluten and dairy and eating more veggies in order to try to heal my gut” (she had done some homework!). Unfortunately, her parents remained resistant to the concept of leaky gut and any attempts to treat it with dietary management. So, they took her to her pediatrician, who was equally appalled at this treatment plan. He referred her to the hospital, where she was “diagnosed with an eating disorder”. Her parents and the doctor were convinced that “leaky gut isn’t real”. Their response was to force her to eat gluten and dairy at every meal, even though these were the very foods that she told them were “inflaming [her] gut even more”.

In hearing her story, I was heartbroken. This smart and resourceful girl was stuck in a tragic dilemma. Not only would she be forced to suffer until she was 18; but, by that point, she would be so much further down the gut pathology road that it was pretty likely her gut would sustain some significant damage, damage that could be avoided or reduced by preventative treatment.

I replied that I was so sorry to hear about her dilemma, and I wished her the absolute best. I was tempted to send her all the published research articles I have on leaky gut. Instead I just told her that intestinal permeability (the proper term for leaky gut) is real. If she or her parents were to search that term on the National Institute of Health’s pub med website, 22,000 research articles would come up. I just left it at that. Was I defending against what felt like a professional criticism (by her parents and the doctor)? Or was I wisely planting a seed? Both.

Only a couple of hours later I received another email from her: “I believe I just made an impact on my parents. You gave me an idea with what you said about pub med. I took this idea and put all of my research into a document and presented this document to my parents (over 50 pages worth of research, I might add!). They were astonished by all of the science that backs this up, and they are now willing to have your support!! I am amazed and feel such a wave of relief.”

A story that began with heartbreak was transformed into triumph.

It is such a shame that many doctors aren’t interested in learning what’s new since medical school. Some doctors are so entrenched in conventional professional thinking that they dismiss any new treatment paradigms that do not fit within those conventions. Yet there are patients who are getting sicker and sicker, and conventional medicine is unable to help them. The lucky patients have the courage, the determination, or the resourcefulness to seek out alternative treatments. Those are the ones who find someone like me, and get well. But what about the rest? While that question saddens me, this story gives so much hope, because it shows how the research is out there. More and more professionals are learning about intestinal permeability, and that knowledge will eventually seep into the mainstream. This story proves that open-minded people who examine the research do actually change their opinions on leaky gut! So I will end by repeating my earlier point: to anyone out there who finds that this story resonates with your own, I say to you, things can get better.

Is Chronic Fatigue “all in your head?”

Chronic Fatigue SyndromeFor years conventional doctors told people that their chronic fatigue was all in their head. Finally two years ago an official diagnosis (with criteria) was created in the US. Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) or myalgic Encephalomyelitis (ME) is debilitating exhaustion, for no ‘apparent’ reason. The validation of this diagnosis is a huge step in the right direction, yet there is still no test or official treatment for CFS.

Those of us in the functional nutrition world have been successfully treating fatigue with diet and supplements. By targeting the mitochondria, the powerhouse of the cell, we are able to boost a patient’s energy levels. Other treatments include improving the function of the gut and boosting the immune system, also by using diet and supplements. These approaches work wonders for most people with fatigue.

Now, new research is emerging that shows the people with CFS have a dysfunction in a certain cell receptor. There is a genetic alteration in the code for the TRPM3 receptor. This receptor facilitates the transfer of calcium through the cell wall. According to preliminary research, people with CFS have fewer functioning TRPM3 receptors preventing sufficient amounts of calcium from entering the cell causing depressed cell function. This discovery is in the early stages, and more research is needed, but this is a big relief to those who have been previously dismissed by conventional doctors and who are in desperate need of a new solution.