You Know You Should Eat Better But…

You Know You Should Eat Better But…


It is impossible to count the number of times someone has told me they know they should and that they want to eat better directly followed by the word “but.” Then there is a list of reasons why they have failed, why it doesn’t work for them, why they are frustrated. Eventually they often trail off into the idea that they are weak, bad or lack willpower.

None of that is what is actually going on. Your body is doing exactly what millions of years of evolution has taught it to do, eating as much as possible of what it believes is the highest quality calories to make sure you survive the next famine.

Of course, our food source has been taken hostage by an industry that only cares about the money causing our taste buds to no longer recognize real food. But there is hope. With a little knowledge and some awareness, you can wrestle back control. You body and your mind will thank you.

You Know You Should Eat Better But… No Time/Too Busy

This was a common excuse prior to the Covid-19 lockdown of 2020. With everyone home now, I’m hearing less of this excuse. However, I’m going to assume that it will come back once the world opens back up, so let’s go ahead and be preemptive in addressing it.

We have to get over the mindset that feeding ourselves is an inconvenience (a story made up and pushed on us by the food industry). Moving past that barrier is pretty straightforward once you understand the lies we've been told by those trying to profit from what we eat.

Feeding a family used to be seen as “women’s work” and not nearly as important as other types of work. When women entered the workforce, they were still expected to do the fulltime job of running the home. Big Food happily took advantage of the mainstream idea that “women’s work” was an annoyance and that food should be “convenient.”

With the convenience they offered, shelf life became important and nutrition became unimportant. You know how this story ends so I won’t belabor it.

Bottom line – you have to change the idea in your mind that feeding yourself and your family is inconvenient busy work. What you eat is one of the most important decisions you make every day. Make a point to make it a priority by ignoring the marketing pushed in your face when you are too busy to think about it.

Our Addiction to Distraction

With the ability to pull entertainment out of our pocket at any moment, few of us spend any time allowing our brain to just wander. It is thought of as a waste of time. If you’re feeling you are too overwhelmed to spend even a moment thinking about what you are eating, it could be caused by the never-ending stream of incoming information into your brain. The radio, the TV, your computer, your phone, Zoom meetings, books, papers, social media. It is all a constant barrage of incoming information.

And your brain gets addicted to it and wants more. If you’re like most people you have information coming in right up until you fall asleep and it starts again the moment you wake up. Do you eat scrolling through your phone or while on your computer? How do you expect to be able to “hear” your body tell you you’re full? You can’t. You’ll just eat until your plate is empty. And if it’s loaded with standard fare, you’ll have eaten entirely too much fat, sugar and salt and not nearly enough nutrients.

What if you curbed your addiction to distraction and took a moment to think about eating? Are you actually hungry? How hungry? Hungry for what? Is what you are about to eat nutritious fuel that will give you the energy you need AND increase your health and longevity? Or is it just junk to stuff in your mouth without thinking?

If you don’t stop to think about it there is no way you can make a choice, you’re too distracted.

Decision Exhaustion

You likely know that some of the most successful people in the world make an effort to limit the number of decisions they have to make every day. Some even going so far as wearing the same thing on a daily basis just to avoid thinking about clothing choices. Even for those of us who aren’t so important as be able to get away with wearing the same outfit day in and day out, we are still making upwards of 30,000 decisions a day. Assuming you sleep at least six hours, that means you are making 28 decisions a minute (how is that even possible?). While that seems unlikely, a Cornell study found we make about 225 decisions a day about food alone. Talk about exhausting!

When your brain gets tired of making decisions, you’re going to fall back on what is easy, quick, convenient and doesn’t require any thought. Which could be one of the reasons your healthy eating plan works great for breakfast and lunch but then completely falls apart by dinnertime.

Instead of trying to figure out what’s for dinner every night, make a big batch of one thing you can eat all week. You’d be surprised how you can make a different flavor every night with a single batch of beans and quinoa.

Emotional Eating

Negative emotions like sadness, stress, unhappiness and anxiety aren’t fun. Since eating releases pleasure chemicals in our brains, it’s easy to drown our sorrows under fat, sugar and salt. Eating ice cream and drinking alcohol is considered so normal after a break up, there are memes about it. And with everyone locked in their homes due to Covid-19, day drinking has become so normal it’s not even questioned anymore (that’s a little scary).

But what is really curious is we also eat when we are happy. Celebrations and holidays are associated with food: birthday cakes, fancy dinners, wedding receptions. When was the last time you got together with anyone and there wasn’t food involved? Any and all emotion, good, bad or indifferent, is a reason to put food, most likely processed sugar and fat, into our bodies.

There are A LOT of tips and tricks you can use to overcome emotional eating. Too many for me to do justice here. I am currently working on a short workshop called, “Stop Emotional Eating Without Giving Up Your Favorite Snacks” that will be of great help to you if you struggle with emotional eating. Make sure you are signed up to get our newsletter and you will be among the first to receive it when it becomes available.

The bottom line

There is one thing you can do now this is going to help you overcome all of these excuses. Start getting more nutrition in your body. The easiest way to do that is by incorporating more plants into your meals and reducing/eliminating empty calorie junk-foods.

People just like you are making that happen by being members of the Whole Food Muscle Club. Join today. You body is BEGGING to be healthy and we can help you do it.

Dr Robyn is a former competitive volleyball player turned psychologist with continuing education in nutrition. Russ is a former competitive bodybuilder and trainer on the Mr. Olympia Tour. They are the co-founders of Whole Food Muscle and the authors of How to Feed a Human The Whole Food Muscle Way. To work with them one on one to improve your health and fitness or to have them speak at your event or organization email them at

Spruce Up Your Lemonade

Spruce Up Your Lemonade

We’ve all heard of strawberry lemonade. But that’s so twenty years ago! Summer is on its way so let’s get creative with this favorite deck-sitting drink (you can add vodka or rum to any of these to make an adult version).

  1. Start with your basic lemonade. You can make it fresh-squeezed with sugar or honey or use Minute Maid. We don’t judge. (Truly, we have Minute Maid in the house.) If you want to get fancy, add lime juice.
  2. Make it strong if you want to add sparkling water at the end. Don’t add sparkling water before you’re done mixing or you’ll knock all the sparkle right out of it.
  3. Pick a flavor
    1. Ginger-cranberry – Add an inch or so of ginger root and a handful of frozen cranberries to your blender with your lemonade. Blend well. If you can leave it sit overnight, you’ll get even more flavor. I usually drink it with pulp in it because I like the extra flavor. But if you don’t like pulp, strain over ice.
    2. Mint – This works best with fresh mint and little time. Clip and rinse a few sprigs of mint, more if you’re making a big batch. Soak the mint in the lemonade overnight. Pull the sprigs out. Serve over ice. Don’t have time to wait, blend or shake well and strain.
    3. Pomegranate – The hardest part of this is getting the pomegranate open. Throw a handful of arils (the seeds) in the blender and blend. Strain if you don’t care for the grit. Serve over ice with a few arils to make it pretty.
    4. Basil – Same as the mint but with basil. You can make it slushy by using crushed ice or putting it in the freezer for a little while. Just don’t let it freeze solid!
    5. Jalapeño – Yep this is a thing and it’s actually REALLY good! Just be careful. It can get spicy really fast and the spice sneaks up on you. There are a couple of options – add fresh jaalapeños and lemonade to the blender and strain or soak them in the lemonade overnight. Or, get fancy and simmer the jalapenos in sugar water to make a spicy simple syrup. No matter how you do it, this will put hair on your chest!
    6. Fruit of your choice – any fruit can be used to make your lemonade more interesting. Blueberries, pineapple, mango, berries – whatever you like. Toss it in there. You can’t really go wrong.
    7. Fruit tea – The Arnold Palmer with a twist. Starbucks has passionfruit tea lemonade. You can certainly make any blend you like. Take whatever fruity tea you have in the house and mix it half and half with lemonade. You never know, you might discover the next “in” drink!
    8. Mix and match any of the above – Be brave. Ginger-mint would likely be really good. I don’t know that I’m brave enough to try ginger-jalapeño. But if you are, I want to hear about it!
  4. Add sparkling water if you like bubbles, give it a gentle stir and enjoy!

Do you have a favorite way to drink lemonade? Send us an email and let us know.

Want more recipes, ideas and health support? Join the Whole Food Muscle Club

Dr Robyn is a former competitive volleyball player turned psychologist with continuing education in nutrition. Russ is a former competitive bodybuilder and trainer on the Mr. Olympia Tour. They are the co-founders of Whole Food Muscle and the authors of How to Feed a Human The Whole Food Muscle Way. To work with them one on one to improve your health and fitness or to have them speak at your event or organization email them at

Pros and Cons of Microwaves – is using a microwave safe?

Pros and Cons of Microwaves – is using a microwave safe?

There are often heated (pun intended) conversations online about microwave use. One camp believes microwaving food sucks all the nutrients out of it. Another claims that microwave radiation causes brain cancer. And then there is the crowd saying microwaves are fine and everyone needs to get a grip.

Let’s look at the facts and you can decide for yourself if the ease and convenience of heating food in a microwave is right for you.

How microwaves work

The electromagnetic waves that microwaves use are actually called “microwaves.” They are longer than infrared but shorter than radio waves.

If you were using a microwave before turntables were added, you might remember biting into food that was scalding hot in some places and still cold in others. Cooking instructions used to tell you to rotate an item every 45 seconds to a minute.

The uneven nature of microwave cooking led to the incorrect belief that microwaves cook from the inside out. In reality they heat the place with the most liquid the fastest. Microwaves (the actual waves) cause water molecules to twist, which creates friction. You likely remember from physics class that friction = heat. With that understand it makes sense that the spots in food with more liquid would get hotter.

But why does rotating it help? It turns out that microwaves don’t travel very far and are easily disrupted. Since the waves don’t converge on the food from all directions, rotating it allows the microwaves to have direct access to more of the surface of the food.

Because of this uneven heating, many cooks prefer to only use a microwave to reheat fully cooked foods.

The downside (cons) of microwaves

Unhealthy food – The first thing we have to acknowledge is the huge numbers of horribly unhealthy food the “food” industry has created for microwaves. Fat, sugar and salt in the perfect Bliss Point hitting combination to make you crave more, even if you’re full.

How many commercials have you seen promoting kids feeding themselves using a microwave? Now think about what that food is. Pizza, cheese sticks, previously fried tortilla rollup things, fake butter slathered popcorn, cheese, cheese and more cheese. I couldn’t find anything suggesting kids pop some oatmeal, broccoli or peas in the microwave.

Issues with containers – There is no such thing as “microwave safe plastic.” Yes, even though TV dinners (are they still called that?) often have instructions telling you to leave the plastic in place to heat them. Heating plastic allows BPA and phthalates to leach into the food. No one wants a side of neurotoxin with dinner.

Glass allows microwaves to passthrough unimpeded to heat your food. But it is also really good at conducting heat. The hot contents will heat the glass and the glass will burn your hands. Even “microwaveable” stoneware gets hot when the food transfers heat. No doubt you’ve learned this by burning your fingers more than once. (To be fair – this is an issue with any type of cooking, not just microwaves.)

“Nuking food”

Isn’t it funny that slang for using the microwave is “nuking it?” But nuclear fusion has nothing to do with a microwave. The FDA requires that microwaves be sealed to prevent the waves (radiation) from leaking. As long as the seal, door and latch aren’t damaged, your microwave should be safe to use. They (the FDA) say if your microwave will run with the door open, stop using it. (I feel like that should go without saying. But they said it so, I’m sharing it.)

Risks of cooking meat

Obviously, we don’t recommend eating meat in general. But we know that some of our followers are in transition or are only partly plant-based. With that in mind, two things to consider.

Public health risk – because microwaves heat unevenly, using them to cook meat (taking it from raw to consumable) has some risk. If ALL of the meat is not heated to at least 140 degrees Fahrenheit the pathogens found in raw meats may not be killed.

Cancer causing compounds – You may know that pan-frying, baking and barbecuing meat creates cancer-causing HCAs (heterocyclic aromatic amines). A study published in 2015 by the Journal of Food Processing and Preservation found that microwaving it isn’t any better.

Nutrition Loss

A 2004 study compared cooking beans in a microwave versus a pressure cooker (no data on cooking them in a pot on the stove – which is what I do) found that the protein was 5% less digestible in the microwave cooked beans.

But a 2009 study found that microwaved vegetables retained their antioxidants as griddling (what is that?) and baking and more than boiling, frying or pressure-cooking. The differences were small. But the point is, microwaving wasn’t worse for nutrition value as many people argue.

Final thoughts

As long as you’re using a microwave to make and heat healthy foods, they are perfectly fine to use. We make oatmeal in ours every day. We also use it to heat frozen veggies and cook sweet potatoes. Of course, the choice to microwave or not is a personal one. As long as you’re eating mostly plants you really can’t go wrong.

Have you watched our new webinar yet? The No BS Guide to Succeeding (Forever) on a Plant-Based Diet is available for a limited time here

Dr Robyn is a former competitive volleyball player turned psychologist with continuing education in nutrition. Russ is a former competitive bodybuilder and trainer on the Mr. Olympia Tour. They are the co-founders of Whole Food Muscle and the authors of How to Feed a Human The Whole Food Muscle Way. To work with them one on one to improve your health and fitness or to have them speak at your event or organization email them at

Storing Fresh Produce for the Longest Shelf Life

Storing Fresh Produce for the Longest Shelf Life

We made a few adjustments like switching to frozen broccoli and putting apples in the fridge. But the reality is we are buying most of our fresh product in bulk. We needed to figure out how to be able to enjoy it for as long as possible. In addition to the cost and waste of having it go bad, if we have to throw anything away it means we have to go without until the next time we don our masks and venture out.

Here are a few things we have learned through trial and error and others I learned the easy way – research!

Storing Fresh Produce - leafy greens

Kale is by far the longest lasting dark green we’ve found. If you have the whole leaves you can trim the bottom off and put it in a jar of water like you would fresh flowers. Wilted leaves will perk back to the fresh crunchiness. The same is true of Swiss Chard and beet greens.

Even after it has been chopped, submerging kale in cold water can bring it back to life as long as it’s not slimy.

Speaking of slimy – that is one of my huge pet peeves with spinach. It seems to go slimy overnight. Everything I’ve read says you should wash it when you first get it home, let it dry completely and then store it in a plastic bag with 20 pinprick holes in it. Why 20? That’s what a University of California at Davis study found to work best. (Who funds studying this stuff?)

But, while that is what they have found to work best in the lab, we have not had good luck with it. We store spinach in the fridge in the container we bought it in and just try to use it before it gets gross. I know that’s not super helpful advice, but there it is.


If you’ve seen my video on how to chop onions without crying, you know that putting them in the fridge helps. However, keeping onions in the fridge long-term can cause them to lose some of their nutrient value (full disclosure, I sometimes do it anyway). Ideally, onions (and garlic) should be stored in a dark, cool place. Dark to keep them from sprouting and cool to keep them from rotting.

If you are going to use them for cooking, you can also chop and freeze onions. Put them in an airtight container or a freezer bag to keep them from making your whole freezer smell like onions. They can be put into soups, stews, casseroles or however you cook onions directly from the freezer. No need to thaw.

The same is true of all types of peppers.

Potatoes and sweet potatoes

Potatoes of all kinds should be stored in a dark, cool place for the same reason that onions are. However, do NOT store them with onions. The chemicals that onions release will tell your potatoes to sprout no matter how dark it is.

If your potatoes start to spout you can either plant them or you can cut the sprouts out and eat them. If a potato has gotten soft, wrinkly, smells “off” (most people describe it as a mold or mildew type smell) or is dripping liquid, it is more than passed its prime. It is done. Put it in the compost.

Storing Fresh Produce - Avocados

I’m be straight with you. We have given up buying avocados for now. The big box store where we buy things in bulk has clearly started refrigerating their avocados when they first arrive and then putting them out on the floor for sale later. Once an avocado is chilled it will never ripen into that pretty, evenly green goodness we all wish for when we cut it open. Instead you’ll get brown grossness mixed with unripe green rock-like spots. Avocados are too expensive to play that game.

But, if you have a place that doesn’t refrigerate them and you are still buying them, here’s the plan. If you are going to eat it today or tomorrow, buy a ripe one. The skin should be dark (not bright green) and it should be firm but have a tiny bit of give (like a softball versus a baseball). Store it on your counter but don’t forget about it! If you do it will be bad by day three.

If you want to eat them in five to seven days buy them green and pretty hard (baseball hard. If they are rock hard it may take more than a week for them to ripen). Store them in a dark corner of your counter and check on them every couple of days. When they reach the “softball” stage, either eat them or move them to the fridge. The fridge will slow the ripening process and give you another couple of days.

Good luck and may the force be with you.

Fresh herbs

Things like thyme, rosemary and mint are pretty resilient and can be stored in just about any container in the fridge. Parsley and cilantro are a little more finicky. Store them in the fridge but keep an eye on them for getting slimy if you keep them for more than five-ish days. I’ve had better luck with curly parsley than with the flat variety.

Basil is by far the most delicate of the herb family. Ideally, you should grow it in an herb garden or a pot in a sunny kitchen window and cut it right before you use it. If that’s not an option, you can trim the ends and store it standing up in a couple of inches of water. But it won’t keep that way for long. It will either get slimy or it will root (if it roots, plant it).

Note – if you put mint of any kind in water to “perk” it up and you forget about it, it will 100% grow roots. DO NOT throw them in your compost. You should never put mint scraps in your compost. It is a weed. It will grow. It will take over. You have been warned. (If you want to grow mint, put it in a pot and don’t let the tendrils touch the ground outside the pot.)

Storing Fresh Fruit - bananas

Bananas are best stored on the counter away from any other produce because the gas they give off causes other things to rapidly ripen or sprout. Everyone has had the experience of buying bananas green and before you get through the whole bunch, they are really riper than you’d like.

When bananas reach your ideal level of ripeness, you can move them to the fridge to extend that sweet spot for a couple of days. However, the peel will turn black. If that is off-putting to you, don’t put them in the fridge.

The other option is to freeze them. Bananas freeze amazingly well at any point in their ripeness life. Peel them, slice them and then freeze them in a single layer on parchment paper. Once they are hard, move them to an airtight container. They are great for making banana bread, nice-cream, putting in your oatmeal or eating them in anyway you like.

I always tell myself I am going to freeze bananas are their peak but it never happens. Inevitably, they get too ripe to eat before I freeze them. At that point they are only good for banana bread or nice cream. But there are worse things in life.

Side note for gardeners – if you soak banana peels in water for a few days the resulting “tea” is an amazing potassium reach fertilizer for your house plants or your garden.


Fruits like clementines, oranges, lemons and limes will be fine on your counter for a week or ten days. Just be sure to store them loose (not in a plastic bag) so air can circulate around them. Look at them regularly and immediately remove any fruit that is soft or molding (note – do not sniff moldy fruit. If it visually has mold on it there is no reason to put those spores in your nose).

To make them last a bit longer, they can be stored in the crisper drawer of your fridge. Just don’t forget to eat them! Sometimes out of sight means out of mind.

To chop or not to chop, that is the question

There is nothing that makes making a salad easier than having everything already prepped and ready to throw together. I have been known to chop entire heads of cabbage, multiple crowns of broccoli and several onions just for the sake of ease.

But there is a down side. Every open cell is leaking nutrients. This is also true of the pre-cut veggies you grab from the store.

You have to make a choice. If you won’t eat them if they aren’t already chopped, then chop them. Some nutrients in your belly is better than none. However, if you will use them regardless of them being already chopped, wait and chop them right before you eat them to retain as much of the goodness as possible.

We hope that your family is healthy and making the best of things right now. Hopefully these tips will allow you to buy in bulk and keep things fresh as long as possible.

If you haven’t had a chance to check out our new webinar, The No BS Guide to Succeeding (Forever) on a Plant-Based Diet, you can watch it here.

Dr Robyn is a former competitive volleyball player turned psychologist with continuing education in nutrition. Russ is a former competitive bodybuilder and trainer on the Mr. Olympia Tour. They are the co-founders of Whole Food Muscle and the authors of How to Feed a Human The Whole Food Muscle Way. To work with them one on one to improve your health and fitness or to have them speak at your event or organization email them at

DIY Cloth Face Mask. No sewing or elastic

DIY Cloth Face Mask. No sewing or elastic

Dr Robyn is a former competitive volleyball player turned psychologist with continuing education in nutrition. Russ is a former competitive bodybuilder and trainer on the Mr. Olympia Tour. They are the co-founders of Whole Food Muscle and the authors of How to Feed a Human The Whole Food Muscle Way. To work with them one on one to improve your health and fitness or to have them speak at your event or organization email them at

Stress Eating – Avoiding the Quarantine 15

Stress Eating – Avoiding the Quarantine 15

There have been a few memes going around about people gaining fifteen pounds while we are under a shelter-in-place order. They are funny, except that for a lot of people it is a real risk. This week I was asked to talk about how to manage stress eating in a Facebook group (video below). This article is based on my notes for that talk, with a few things added in that I have thought of since then.

What is Stress?

Stress is feeling responsible for something but not having the control to do anything about it. When this becomes overwhelming in a work environment we call it “burnout.” Right now many of us feel responsible for keeping ourselves and our family members safe while also feeling like we have to protect strangers from ourselves in case we have somehow been infected and don’t know it. It feels like we are fighting an invisible enemy but there is no actual battle going on.

What is Stress-Eating

Stress eating, also called emotional eating, is an unhealthy coping mechanism many of us use to self-sooth. This behavior often taught early in childhood. When a baby cries, we put a pacifier in its mouth. When a toddler is teething, we give them a teething ring to chew on. Children are often rewarded with sweet treats for good behavior.

Is it any wonder that as adults we want to put things in our mouths when we feel bad?

In addition, the rush of “happy” chemicals that flood our brain when we eat that perfect combination of salt, sugar and fat pushes the stress away for a few moments.

This combination of nature (how the brain works) and nurture (that we are taught to sooth emotions by putting things in our mouths) is the perfect set up for stress eating to become a habit.

What does stress do to our body?

Our caveman brain thinks we are going to be eaten by a lion. Cortisol (stress hormone) goes up. Digestion slows or even stops (who cares about digesting lunch if you are going to BE lunch) and your body starts to crave fast, easy energy to be burned to avoid the crisis. If the crisis is not short-term and the calories aren’t burned right away, they are stored for later use.

It’s a good system if you have to avoid being eaten. It doesn’t work as well when the crisis isn’t something you can run away from and is ongoing.

How to manage stress without using food

Move your body – do it with your kids

  • Laugh
  • Exercise
  • Dance
  • Walk
  • Tia chi/qigong
  • Shake – toddlers throw a tantrum. You don’t have to have a meltdown like that. Just bouncing your body while shaking your arms can burn stress away

Talk it out – clue your logical brain into what is going on

  • Out loud to yourself
  • To a friend – requires reciprocation and you might feel judged
  • To a professional – sometimes a stranger is easier to talk to than someone you know
  • Some pros are offering pay what you can phone, zoom, skype (I am currently offering pay-what-you can individual sessions to non-clients. Use the contact page to set up time to talk)
  • Small children can talk to their favorite stuffed animal

Write – have your kids write a story

  • Journal
  • Scrap paper that you can throw away
  • Shred or tear it up if you’re worried about someone else reading it
  • Just get it out


  • You can’t do it “wrong”
  • Online guided meditation
  • Z technique/Ziva technique

Get enough sleep, 

Good sleep hygiene

  • Bedtime alarm
  • Bedtime pattern
  • Dark room
  • Nothing but sleep, snuggling and sex in bed
  • People with a TV in the bedroom are less intimate
  • Continue to get up at the same time

Get a weighted blanket

If possible, have physical contact (only with the people who live in your house!)

  • Hug your kids
  • Hold hands
  • Snuggle on the couch
  • Have sex

Why we choose to eat junk

Our bodies are looking for quick energy. Processed junk food is the perfect source. A lot of the digestion work has already been done. The fiber is gone and the energy has been ground in to tiny pieces (think about the difference between a wheat berry and white flour), making it really easy for your body to get it from your GI tract and into your bloodstream quickly.

However, the fat, sugar and salt we crave for quick energy has almost no nutrition. Your body is going to keep saying you’re hungry because it’s looking for vitamins and minerals, not just empty energy. If you keep eating fat, sugar and salt, you can end up with a stomach that feels full (because it is) and still “feel” hungry.

How to avoid stress eating

  • Notice when you do it. You are most likely to stress eat in the evenings after you have used up all your willpower not yelling at your kids, remembering not to roll your eyes while on a video conference call and trying to figure out common core math.
  • Use your circadian rhythm to your advantage. Eat the bulk of your calories and nutrition for breakfast. When your body feels like your nutrition needs have been met, it is less likely to have you rummaging through the pantry at 8:30 at night.
  • Eat real food. Unprocessed plant-based foods are your friend. Beans, whole grains, root veggies (like sweet potatoes and carrots), greens, bulbs (garlic/onions), cruciferous veggies (broccoli/cauliflower), ginger, turmeric and fruits of all kinds.
  • Realize that snack foods are not a must. I know it feels like you need to have chips, cookies and whatever other snacks you like in the house. But you don’t. Like Chef AJ says, “In your house. In your mouth.” Don’t bring them in and you won’t eat them. Yes, this is even true if you have kids. They don’t need snacks either.
  • “I like crunchy food.” Eat a carrot. Don’t want to eat a carrot? It’s not the crunch you’re after. It’s the salt, sugar and fat. Be honest with yourself and adjust accordingly.

Reducing your stress is the best way to avoid stress eating. But, with all the uncertainly in the world right now, stress is a reality. So feed yourself well, make smart choices, and mitigate your stress with a few of the tips above.

We will get through this. Life will be different on the other side. But humans are nothing if not adaptable.

Stay healthy and be in touch if we can support you in anyway.


No other program gives you unlimited video coaching, complete library access and full-scale support for all things food, fasting, and fitness. Whether you need information, inspiration, or motivation we are here all the time, every time to help you improve in any way you need.

Dr Robyn is a former competitive volleyball player turned psychologist with continuing education in nutrition. Russ is a former competitive bodybuilder and trainer on the Mr. Olympia Tour. They are the co-founders of Whole Food Muscle and the authors of How to Feed a Human The Whole Food Muscle Way. To work with them one on one to improve your health and fitness or to have them speak at your event or organization email them at

Beets, Not Just for Athletes

Beets, Not Just for Athletes

Ahhh the lowly beet. It’s not really a food source most people consider when they think of staple foods. I rarely ate them when I was competing. Not because I didn’t like them, I do. I just - - didn’t. If I saw pickled beets on a salad bar, I would toss a few on my plate. And I used to like pickled beets with cottage cheese. I can still see the pink color everything turned.

Boy do I wish I’d known then what I know now. Being winded would have never been a limiting factor in my game. Hence athletes today use beets for “legal blood doping.”

But even if you aren’t an athlete, beets can do amazing things for your blood flow and reduce the oxygen cost of your cells (meaning they can do the same work with less oxygen). All of that means being less winded, even during daily tasks AND it means more oxygen to your brain. Wait, what? Yes. Eating beets can improve brain function too.

How beets work in the body

The nitrates in beets boost your body’s ability to produce nitric oxide. Nitric oxide, in turn allows your blood vessels to dilate properly and move more blood more quickly when it is needed.

This improves both physical and mental performance, separately and when needed together. It is interesting to note that these changes aren’t just in-the-moment. There is also improved neuroplasticity. Meaning older adults can make new connections in the brain similar to younger brains.

Beets and blood pressure

Another added bonus – eating beets or drinking beet juice naturally lowers blood pressure. Makes sense. If your blood vessels are more flexible your heart doesn’t have to work as hard to push the blood through them.

In my personal experience, when I eat beets regularly my top blood pressure number drops about 15 points and the bottom number about 7. Of course, that is the antidotal. But the science does support beets lowering blood pressure.

Beets and less sweating?

An additional observation on my part (no science on this one), eating beets seems to allow the body to cool itself better.

Hear me out on this.

Expanded blood vessels release more heat (hence your blood vessels constrict and your blood pressure goes up when you're cold).

It's not directly tied to sweating in the science and since sweat is related to heat dissipation not blood flow, I can't claim causation. However, there does seem to be a correlation.

So, if sweating and being too warm are reasons you don’t want to exercise – beets to the rescue.

Beets and blood medications

One word of caution I should add - if you are on blood thinners or blood pressure medication, be aware that healing your endothelial layer (the cells doing the work to make your blood vessels more flexible) by eating beets (and/or eliminating animal products) will lower your blood pressure and may reduce your need for the drugs. Continuing to take the drugs at the same level while also eating beets on a regular basis can cause lightheadedness or dizziness. If you experience this symptom, see your doctor about lowering your dosage. Do not change your medication intake without proper medical guidance.

How to eat beets

It seems there is no wrong way to add beets to your diet. We choose to eat them raw on salads, mostly because I’m too lazy to do anything else with them. I also like to drink beet juice. Russ is not really a fan.

The science seems to indicate that baked and pickled are just as good. We have a client who hates beets so he uses concentrated beet juice shots. He says they are still awful tasting, but at least it’s over quickly.

There is even such a thing as beet chips. Now I’m guessing they are made with oil and have added salt. I wouldn’t say they are a health food. If there is a “wrong” way to include beets in your diet, chip form might be it.

A word of awareness

The red color in beets does not get digested and it will show up in the toilet. Your urine may turn the color of apple juice, even if you are well hydrated. And you will see what looks like blood in your solid waste. Don’t worry. You didn’t suddenly start bleeding internally. That is just a side effect of eating beets.

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Dr Robyn is a former competitive volleyball player turned psychologist with continuing education in nutrition. Russ is a former competitive bodybuilder and trainer on the Mr. Olympia Tour. They are the co-founders of Whole Food Muscle and the authors of How to Feed a Human The Whole Food Muscle Way. To work with them one on one to improve your health and fitness or to have them speak at your event or organization email them at

The Risk of Lead in Bone Broth

The Risk of Lead in Bone Broth

Because of Covid-19/the novel coronavirus (nCoV) there has been A LOT of information online this week about how to stay healthy. If you haven’t gotten the memo – WASH YOUR HANDS!

One post I saw had a list of foods to keep your immune system strong. Garlic, ginger, turmeric and lemon where on the list along with a few fruits and veggies. I agree. Eat those things. They are good for you.

One kinda iffy thing on it was Manuka honey. I think it’s a stretch to call honey a health food. It acts exactly like sugar in your system. Since Manuka honey is from New Zealand and there is quite a bit of fraud in the honey industry, you can’t really be sure you’re even getting real honey, let alone that it’s Manuka honey. That said, there is some evidence that honey might help with allergies – IF (big if) you get local, raw honey. But keep in mind, if you take local, raw honey and put in hot tea - - you just cooked out all the benefits.

The only animal product on the list was bone broth. That absolutely floored me. No! Just no. Bone broth is not a health food!

Not wanting to start a war in the comments section on Facebook (it has been known to happen), I simply wrote, “Bone broth contains lead. I HIGHLY recommend against it.”

When I got the notification that someone had tagged me in their reply I thought, “Oh no. Here we go.” But I was pleasantly surprised.

The reply said, “Even organic grass fed?”

That is a perfectly fair question.

I replied as follows:

“Yes. All animals, including humans, store any ingested or inhaled lead in their bones to protect themselves from it.

Lead is in soil and atmosphere from when lead gasoline was a thing. This is substantially worse in anything from China because they had lead gas longer (I even recommend people avoid tea from China due to lead concerns).

Because feed animals are often fed the debris from slaughtering other animals (particularly true with chickens), the lead and banned antibiotics keep cycling from one generation to the next.

When the bones, cartilage and other scraps are boiled and/or soaked in acid to create broth, the lead is leached out. If humans drink it, their bodies have to filter it and it ends up in our bones. As we age, it can leach into our systems.

nce I understood the process it shocked me that it's even legal to sell bone broth as a food source. But big industry is in control of the government and everything is about the almighty dollar.”

Since bone broth is animal based (obviously), we wouldn’t recommend ingesting it anyway. But even if you are still eating an omnivore diet, bone broth should be a hard-pass for everyone.

We have also done videos about the lead risks of ingesting bone broth. To see those videos, sign into your Whole Food Muscle account and search “bone broth.” If you aren’t a member – go here to join for immediate access to all the exclusive content.


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Dr Robyn is a former competitive volleyball player turned psychologist with continuing education in nutrition. Russ is a former competitive bodybuilder and trainer on the Mr. Olympia Tour. They are the co-founders of Whole Food Muscle and the authors of How to Feed a Human The Whole Food Muscle Way. To work with them one on one to improve your health and fitness or to have them speak at your event or organization email them at

Are Natural Flavors Food?

Are Natural Flavors Food?

Are natural flavors food? When reading a list of ingredients, it’s pretty easy to skim right over “natural flavors.” It sounds so innocuous. It has the word “natural” and it’s just “flavor.” So how bad can it be?

Well, the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) in the US does have a code of regulations that stipulates what can be used to create “natural flavors.” (You can read it here if you are so inclined

The list includes: spices (although they may also be listed separately), fruit/fruit juice, vegetables/vegetable juice, dairy products (including fermented dairy like yogurt), meat, poultry, seafood or eggs.

I find it odd that poultry and seafood are listed separately from meat as they are all flesh. I did a quick search to try and find out what the FDA considers the difference. What I found was long lists of what the FDA does and doesn’t regulate and “safe handling” instructions for raw flesh products (my words so I didn’t have to type “meat, poultry and seafood” again).

Digging a little deeper I found this website:, (the following is a direct quote containing a quote):

“Regulations And Standards Under The Agricultural Marketing Act Of 1946 And The Egg Products Inspection Act; Part 54, Meats, Prepared Meats, And Meat Products (Grading, Certification, And Standards);Subpart A, Regulations; Definitions) the term Meat means “the edible part of the muscle of an animal, which is skeletal, or which is found in the tongue, in the diaphragm, in the heart, or in the esophagus, and which is intended for human food, with or without the accompanying and overlying fat and the portions of bone, skin, sinew, nerve, and blood vessels which normally accompany the muscle tissue and which are not separated from it in the process of dressing. This term does not include the muscle found in the lips, snout, or ears.””

I’m making the assumption that “meat” means the flesh, as defined above, of any mammal. But that is 100% an assumption on my part simply because they call out poultry and fish separately.

Now that we got that sorted, back to “natural flavors.”

This passage from the FDA site linked above was interesting to me: “Substances obtained by cutting, grinding, drying, pulping, or similar processing of tissues derived from fruit, vegetable, meat, fish, or poultry, e.g., powdered or granulated onions, garlic powder, and celery powder, are commonly understood by consumers to be food rather than flavor and shall be declared by their common or usual name.”

If I’m understanding correctly, if a whole food is part of the ingredients list it has to be called out individually. But if there is an extract, that can be bundled under “natural ingredients.”

Given that there are pages of information about natural flavors on the FDA website, you might be surprised to learn, as I was, that “natural flavor” doesn’t actually have a legal definition (learn more about that here  The only rule is that the flavor has to originally come from a plant or an animal, that doesn’t mean it wasn’t created in a lab. It only means that the chemical make up exists in nature.

In contrast, “artificial flavors” means the chemical make up was created to trick human taste buds into tasting a flavor that isn’t actually there.

But it’s not only artificial flavors that can fool the human brain. “Naturally” flavored watermelon candy tastes more like watermelon than an actual watermelon because of a compound from African violets (I wish I was making that up). It seems human taste buds are pretty easily fooled.

Are Natural Flavors Safe?

That is a valid question. You would think yes, since they are regulated by the FDA. But they aren’t really tested. The FDA designates everything under the “natural flavors” as GRAS (generally recognized as safe).

BUT there are no safety reviews for things labeled GRAS, they aren’t regulated and the manufactures get to decide what “safe” means. Here’s the kicker, the GRAS label also means that manufactures don’t even have to tell the FDA about a chemical as long as they (the manufacture) have decided it’s “safe.”

Are you feeling less then thrilled with the innocuous label “natural flavors” on food packaging? I know I am.

To answer the question I posed in the title of this post, Are Natural Flavors Food – My feeling is that they are not. “Food” should provide either energy in for form of calories or nutrition in the form of vitamins and minerals the human body needs to function. Real food, the way it comes out of the ground contains both. “Natural flavors” and “artificial flavors” contain neither.

How to Avoid Industry “Natural Flavors”

The easiest answer is stay away from processed and packaged food sources. Real food comes in amazing flavors that don’t require being pumped up to get you to enjoy them. Next best option, when you see “natural flavors” on an ingredients list, put it back on the shelf.

As a side note, if you are ethically vegan, you should always assume that “natural flavors” includes something derived from an animal. It might not be the case. But it could very well be.

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Arsenic in Rice

Arsenic in Rice

The argument has been made that a third of the population of the world eats rice as a staple so it must be safe to eat. But, just because lots of people do it, doesn’t mean it’s a good idea (just consider how many people eat the Standard American Diet).

It could also be said that arsenic is a naturally occurring compound in the earth and our bodies are pretty good at eliminating it through our urine. Both of those statements are true. However, arsenic-containing pesticides used to be common. And once arsenic is in the soil, it doesn’t go away. It’s also worth noting, that while low level exposure may not kill you outright, over the long term it has been shown to cause peripheral nerve damage, dementia, skin disorders, and neurological problems. Plus, it’s a human carcinogen. Not ideal.

You might be thinking, “But all food is grown in soil. If arsenic is in the soil, why are we only talking about rice?”

Rice is grown in a flooded rice paddy. Meaning most of the plant is directly exposed to the arsenic that is leached out of the soil and into the water. This is true whether it is organic or conventionally grown.

What kinds of rice contain arsenic?

All rice contains arsenic to one degree or another. You likely know that brown and black rice have more nutrients than white rice. But it is interesting to note that they also have higher levels of arsenic because the hull that has nutrients also has arsenic.

Even “wild rice” which isn’t actually rice, often contains arsenic. It just depends on the water in which it is grown.

How can you avoid arsenic in rice?

The easy answer is – just don’t eat rice. There are several other grains you can use very similarly: quinoa, teff, buckwheat, millet, amaranth, bulgur, barley, or even cauliflower rice.

But if you want to eat rice, there are a few things you can do to limit your exposure.

  • Look for organic basmati rice grown in California, India or Pakistan. It is worth noting here that close to half of the rice grown in the US comes from the south-central part of the country that used to grow primarily cotton. To fight the boll weevil beetle, farmers used lead and arsenic containing pesticides. These insecticides were banned in the 1980’s. But the arsenic is still in the soil and is now being sucked up by the rice being grown there.
  • Rinse your rice well before cooking it. It is even better to soak it for 48 hours, changing the water every 12 hours if possible. This also removes some of the nutritional value. But it is a price worth paying.
  • Cook the rice in extra water, up to ten cups of water for each cup of rice and pour off the extra water before serving.
  • Or, you can make your rice in a coffee maker by running hot water through it. You can see how that works here: here's how to get the arsenic out of your rice

Do rice products contain arsenic?

It is safe to assume that producers of rice products are NOT going through the trouble to soak, rinse or cook rice in a coffee maker. So, any rice-based products should be treated with the same eye for arsenic that rice is. This is a particularly relevant point for children, who are at greater risk for arsenic poisoning than adults.

Products to consider: baby cereal, rice milk, rice pasta, rice crackers, dieters favorite – rice cakes, brown rice syrup (look for this as an ingredient in things you wouldn’t expect to have rice) and anything labeled “gluten free” (rice is a very common ingredient when replacing wheat).

Do we worry about arsenic in rice?

We are not big rice eaters. We have a bag of brown rice we bought at Costco that I would bet is at least two years old (good thing rice doesn’t go bad as long as it’s kept dry and tightly sealed). Prior to researching for this article, I had never even considered rinsing, soaking or cooking rice 10:1 with water. But going forward I guess those are things I will think about.

I also will likely not buy more when it’s gone since we are just as happy to eat other types of grains instead.

The one place we do eat rice is when we go out for vegetable sushi. It’s not often, maybe once every month or two. As of this writing, that is something we are likely to continue to do.

If you would like to read what the CDC has to say about arsenic exposure (not just from rice), this article is useful.

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Dr Robyn is a former competitive volleyball player turned psychologist with continuing education in nutrition. Russ is a former competitive bodybuilder and trainer on the Mr. Olympia Tour. They are the co-founders of Whole Food Muscle and the authors of How to Feed a Human The Whole Food Muscle Way. To work with them one on one to improve your health and fitness or to have them speak at your event or organization email them at