Saturday, June 30, 2012

Salt: Friend or Foe?

English: Table salt under magnification Българ...
 Table salt under magnification (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Salt has a bad reputation, most of us are aware that excessive salt (sodium) intake can lead to the development of high blood pressure, but salt plays a vital role in the physiology of our bodies. Sodium is so important to our bodies that we have a specific sensor on our tongues that can detect sodium. Salt  is crucial for maintaining every cell in your system, it permeates the fluid between the cells (extracellular fluid), while potassium exists inside the cells in the intracellular fluid. Sodium and potassium need to remain in dynamic balance so nutrients and waste can exchange across cell membranes. In addition to being a component of extracellular fluid, sodium is also a vital component of our blood and lymphatic fluid. In order to digest protein, you need salt since it is necessary for the production of hydrochloric acid, which is a digestive enzyme in the stomach. Your cells actually pump sodium out and potassium in via “sodium-potassium pump”, this pump is found in the membranes of all cells in your body. One of the most important functions of this pump is in preventing the swelling of your cells, if sodium is not pumped out, water will accumulate within the cell causing it to swell and burst.  The sodium-potassium pump is also important in maintaining the acid-base balance and in healthy kidney function. Sodium and potassium are required in the proper functioning of our nerves and the contraction of our muscles. Without salt our bodies would cease to function properly.
Refined salt (table salt) is two mineral salts, sodium (Na+) and chloride (Cl-) together with other chemicals like anti-caking agents ( sodium aluminosilicate or alumino-calcium silicate ). These anti-caking agents are sources of aluminum, a toxic metal that has been associated in the development of Alzheimer’s disease. Bleaches are often used in the refining process and more than 60 trace minerals and essential macro-nutrients, except the sodium and chloride, are stripped out. None of these chemicals work with our biochemistry and add additional problems with their use. When salt is isolated from its organic whole (refined) excessive concentrations of sodium and chloride can cause mineral and fluid imbalances in the body and can lead to health problems like hypertension, and anemia.
A low-salt or no salt diet is also not advised since it can lead to:
  • High blood pressure
  • Accelerated aging, cellular degeneration, biochemical starvation
  • Adrenal fatigue
  • Heart Attack (valves can tear and lacerate)
  • Dehydration (Salt helps the body maintain water needed for the fluid systems)
  • Kidney and liver problems
Our bodies need salt, but how much? According to the Sodium Counter (Pocket Books, 1993), the average American’s salt intake is 2-3 teaspoons a day. While this may not sound like much, it provides 4,000-6,000 mg of sodium (About double the FDA’s maximum RDA of 2,400 mg).  Salt is so prevalent in processed foods, getting salt out of your diet and controlling your intake isn’t as simple as passing up the salt shaker. Snacks like chips, crackers, and popcorn are obviously salted but so are foods like bread, cereal, and salad dressings. In order to really reduce your salt intake you have to read the labels of the foods you are eating. As a rule of thumb: focus on buying foods that have 140 mg of sodium or less per serving.
Ann Louise Gittleman from her book, Get the Salt Out, 501 Simple Ways to Cut the Salt Out of Any Diet, has these ten tips for removing the unhealthy salt from your diet:
  1. Avoid processed foods as much as possible. Products that come in packages and cans are designed for long shelf-life and are the #1 source of salt in our diets. Additionally, these processed foods often contain sodium additives and preservatives, sugar, and hydrogenated fats, all of which are linked to common health problems. For your optimal health, your top priority should be removing these refined, processed, fake foods. EAT REAL FOOD!
  2. Nature designed foods that are perfect for our bodies, low in sodium and filled with nutrients. Fresh plant foods and unprocessed animal foods fit this definition; all others do not. Therefore, choosing foods low in sodium is relatively easy: when in doubt, opt for the more natural choice (ideally organic).
  3. Use unrefined sea salt instead of common table salt in your salt shaker. The kind of salt you use is just as important as the amount of salt you use. Common table salt is harmful; it does not dissolve in the body and tends to build up. Unrefined sea salt is “good” salt that the body can readily use for the many functions sodium is needed for in our bodies.
  4. Use only the amount of salt that is right for you. Sensitivity to salt, even the “good” kind, is an individual response. Some of us can tolerate moderate amounts easily while others do better with very little. LISTEN TO YOUR BODY.
  5. Eliminate or reduce, the amount of salt used in cooking. Salt added during cooking accounts for 45% of the sodium we consume and is not tasted as well as salt added after cooking. Use natural salt at the table (which accounts for only 5% of our sodium intake), but eliminate or reduce salt from your recipes.
  6. Become a consumer-savvy food detective, seek out products that are low in sodium or have no salt added. An unsalted products substituted for a salted ingredient may reduce your sodium intake by hundreds or thousands or milligrams, in one meal alone.
  7. To add flavor to your recipes use salt-free seasonings like, garlic, herbs and spices.
  8. Use naturally salty, but still nutritious, foods like unprocessed cheese and reduced-sodium tamari (in small amounts) to add flavor while cooking.
  9. Eat at least 5 servings of fruits and veggies each day. Fresh fruits and veggies are high in potassium, which helps to counteract too much salt in the diet.
  10. Eat for taste and good nutrition, not just taste alone. Our taste for salt has far exceeded our need. Food manufacturers and restaurants frequently take advantage of our taste for salt, making profits off of poor-quality, nutrient deficient but heavily salted foods. Remember: your taste for salt can lesson, but your fundamental requirements for nutrients have to be met each and every day. A diet high in salty, processed foods can simply not meet our nutritional requirements.
There is a lot of information about nutrition and what is the best way to eat, but the single best thing you can do to reduce your sodium intake and eat a more nutritious diet is to eliminate as many processed foods as possible. Foods closest to their natural state are most nutritious. The real food movement is gaining popularity, when people become educated on what the food they are eating is really doing to their health, the decision to eat whole, natural foods seems to be a logical conclusion.  If you would like more information on the real food movement click here.
As always if you have questions, leave a comment or send me an email, I am here to help!
Do you have any tips for reducing sodium in the diet, do you have information to add?Leave a comment! The more we share information, the more complete our understanding can be.

Gittleman, A., Get the Salt Out, 501 Simple Ways to Cut the Salt Out of Any Diet, Three River Press, 1996
Jones, A. & Trattler, R., Better Health through Natural Healing, How to Get Well  Without Drugs or Surgery (2nd Ed.), Hinkler Books, 2001.
Murray, M. & Pizzorno, J., The Encyclopedia of Healing FoodsAtria Books, 2005.
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Sunday, June 24, 2012

Meatless Monday Recipe: Layered Taco Salad


This recipe comes from the Meatless Monday website and can be found here.
Peppers, avocado, and black olives are a delight with this taco salad recipe that gets better with every layer. This salad is perfect to serve to big groups alongside corn chips or just scoop out a serving straight from the baking dish. This recipe comes to us from Ashley of Holistic Movements.

Serves 8
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 1 green bell pepper
  • 3 tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 head leaf lettuce, washed and sliced into thin strips
  • 1 2.25 oz can sliced black olives, drained
  • 1 16 oz can vegetarian refried beans
  • 1 cup light sour cream (or try Fat Free Plain Greek Yogurt)
  • 1/3-1/2 package taco seasoning
  • 1/2 lime
  • 3 avocados
  • 1 cup cheddar cheese
Mash avocados and set aside.
Combine sour cream with 1/3 to 1/2 packet of taco seasoning (to taste) and juice from ½ lime.
Using a spatula, spread the can of refried beans inside the bottom of a glass baking dish.
Layer the mashed avocados in the baking dish.
Follow avocados with a layer of the sour cream mixture.
Spread all the diced peppers, tomatoes, and sliced black olives on top of the sour cream. Reserve a few tablespoons lettuce to garnish each plate. Layer the rest of the lettuce on top of the vegetables and olives so the lettuce covers the whole dish.
Sprinkle shredded Mexican cheese on top to complete the dish.
Place a handful of lettuce on each plate, and then scoop out the salad like you would a dip.
12345 (10 votes, average: 3.70 out of 5)
Nutrition Information
Layered Taco Salad
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Friday, June 22, 2012

Do you suffer from seasonal allergies? Try this simple remedy

The warm weather is here, everything is in bloom, a beautiful sight, but not if you suffer from hay fever or seasonal allergies. Personally, I always turn to natural remedies before conventional medicines, due to my tendency to have allergic reactions to medications. A useful remedy for allergy sufferers is eating local honey. Honey? Yes, honey, but it has to be local, raw honey. Eating local honey will sensitize you to pollens in the area and remedy your hay fever and its’ symptoms.  Add some organic, unfiltered apple cider vinegar and you will help restore balance to your body and reduce the reaction to the allergens.
Honey bee with filled pollen baskets. Honey bee with filled pollen baskets. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Seasonal-Allergy Tonic

  • 2 Tbsp. Local raw honey
  • 2 Tbsp.  Organic, Unfiltered Apple Cider Vinegar (I use Bragg brand)
  • warm water
Mix all ingredients together and drink, particularly useful during hay fever season, or when experiencing symptoms.

Caution: Pregnant women should not eat unpasteurized honey and it should only be given sparingly to children.  However as long as you buy cold-pressed honey it retains it healing properties, heated honey contains additives and loses its healing properties.

Have you had any success with this remedy? Do you have any questions? Leave a comment, I am here to help.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Wellness Challenge #1: Meatless Monday


As mentioned in earlier posts, limiting your intake of meat is a wonderful way to start eating a more nutritional diet.  Average Americans consume 8 oz. of meat a day, which is 45% higher than the amount recommended by the USDA.  In general, eating  less meat can help you reduce your risk of PREVENTABLE diseases such as, cancer, cardiovascular disease, as well as obesity which often leads to diabetes. If you are not ready to go vegetarian completely, Meatless Mondays is a great place to start incorporating more plant based foods into your diet.  Meatless Mondays is an international movement aiming to help people reduce their meat consumption by 15% in order to improve their personal health, but to also improve the health of the planet. From the environmental perspective, production of meat-based diets requires 3 times the water, 13 times the fertilizer, and 1.5 times the .pesticide than production of vegetarian diets. Additionally, the land required to produce meat protein is 10 times that required for producing plant protein.
Starting the week off meatless also allows you to start the week focusing on your health. Why Monday? According to, the Monday campaigns, It’s the January of the week, the perfect time for a fresh start. People are more likely to begin exercising, start a diet or quit smoking on Monday than any other day. It’s a call to action built into every calendar – 52 chances a year to live a longer, healthier life! Visit the Meatless Monday website, to sign the Meatless Monday pledge and access additional recipes and resources. I don’t expect everyone will become a vegetarian & personally I enjoy meat, but committing to one day a week of not eating meat is a realistic way to start making better nutritional choices for you and your family.
If you would like to figure out how much protein is recommended for you to have a day, multiply your weight ( in pounds) by .36 grams, the answer will be the amount of protein (in grams) you require each day. Plant sources of protein that provide 4-6 grams of protein include, cooked beans, peas, or lentils ( 1/2 cup), tofu or tempeh ( 1/2 cup), nut butter ( 2 Tbsp.), nuts (1/4 cup), tahini (2 tbsp. ), or meat analogue (soy, 1 oz.).

Suggestions for Planning Vegetarian Meals:

  • Choose a variety of foods, including whole grains, veggies, fruits, legumes, nuts, seeds and if desired, eggs, and/or dairy products.
  • Minimize intake of processed foods that are high in refined sugar, white flour and fat.
  • Eat a rainbow of fruits and veggies.
  • Use dairy and eggs in moderation.
Sundays will be the day I spotlight a vegetarian meal to give us all some Meatless Monday inspiration, so submit your favorite vegetarian recipes, to Our health is our responsibility, and we all can make more nutritional choices in our diets, why not start here?
Questions? Have you already gone meatless? Leave a comment!

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Friday, June 15, 2012

Food for thought...

What If

by Oriah Mountain Dreamer
English: Contemplation
English: Contemplation (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

WHAT doesn't matter what you do, but how you do whatever you do?
HOW WOULD this change what you choose to do with your life?

WHAT could be more fully present and open -hearted working as a cashier in the corner store, able to really see and be with the people who come into the store, than you are when you are striving to do what you hope or think will make a more important contribution to the world and the lives of those you love?
HOW WOULD this change how you want to spend your precious time on this earth?

WHAT IF...your contribution to the world and the fulfillment of your own happiness is not dependent upon discovering a better mathod of prayer or technique of meditiation, not dependant upon reading the right book or attending the right seminar, but upon really seeing and deeply appreciating yourself and the world as they are right now?
HOW WOULD this affect your search for spiritual development?

WHAT IF...there is no need to change, no need to try to transform yourself into someone who is more compassionate, more present, more loving, or wise?
HOW WOULD this affect all the places in your life where you are endlessly trying to be better?

WHAT IF...the task is simply to unfold, to become who you already are in your essential nature- gentle, compassionate and capable of living fully and passionately present?
HOW WOULD this effect how you feel when you wake up in the morning?

WHAT IF...who you essentially are right now is all that you are ever going to be?
HOW WOULD this affect how you feel about your future?

WHAT IF... the essence of who you are and always has been is enough?
HOW WOULD this effect how you see and feel about your past?

WHAT IF...the question is not why am I so infrequently the person I really want to be, but why do I so infrequently want to be the person I really am?
HOW WOULD this change what you think you have to learn?

WHAT IF...becoming who and what we truly are happens not through striving and trying but by recognizing and receiving the people and places and practices that offer us the warmth of encouragement we need to unfold?
HOW WOULD this shape your choices about how to spend today?
(Oriah Mountain Dreamer is also the author of The Invitation and The Dance: Moving to the Rhythms of Your True Self )

While I was in college, one of my professors gave this to the class and it really resonated with me. In life we have so many choices to make and expectations to live up to (many of which are not even our own!) that we lose the connection we have with our inner self. My hopes with this site along with my wellness consulting business is that I can help you reconnect with your true self. There are so many experts and people telling you that there is a secret to living a happy, enjoyable life, but in reality the secret to a happy life is you, you are the only expert about your life and how to enjoy it.
How are you going to enjoy your life? It's up to you to decide!
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Thursday, June 14, 2012

Journey (Photo credit: aepoc)
We have stories to tell, stories that provide wisdom about the journey of life.  What more have we to give one another than our “truth” about our human adventure as honestly and as openly as we know how? – Rabbi Saul Rubin

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Friday, June 8, 2012

Evaluate Where You Are

This step in the process was probably the hardest for me but it was also the most revealing.  We all know there are areas that are in obvious need of an overhaul, but often we allow all the daily responsibilities to distract us from the goals we really want to achieve. In the Getting Started section, you clarified what is important to you, now it is time to really look at how you have been spending your time and how the lifestyle your living is going to help or hinder you from reaching your goals. Be aware of your current attitudes and behaviors if you want to progress towards meeting your goals.

Exercise 3.1:
  1. Write down all the things that you are doing well, list all positive behaviors that do not need to change and that support the achievement of your goals.
  2. Refer to your list of value/ priorities that you completed in step one, write down ways that you could be doing better in each of the areas.
  3. List all the behaviors that need stopped completely since they only hinder you from completing your goals and living the life you want.
  4. List behaviors, habits, or attitudes that you would like to improve on.
  5. What behaviors or habits do I need to spend less time and energy on?
  6. How is my behavior, habits, or attitudes contributing to the negative things and situations in my life?
This exercise helps you become self-aware of how you have been contributing to your own success or lack thereof.

Exercise 3.2:
  1. Keep a time log for the next 3-5 days. Maintain your log in real-time, do not try to estimate how long you spent on each task at the end of the day since this leads to emissions and inaccuracy. Be thorough and include how long you spend on things like grooming, the internet (whether at work or at home), returning phone calls, cooking, spending time with family or watching t.v.
  2. After you have completed the time log for 3-5 days, review it. Was there anything that surprised you about how you spent your time? Is the way you spend your time supportive of the achievement of your goals? Are you spending your time doing things that you decided were important priorities?  This was the most revealing step in this process for me, it really made me aware that despite what I told myself, in actuality I was spending very little time on things that I had decided were a priority and tons of time not really accomplishing anything.
  3. Decide where you need to devote more time and energy. What activities will you streamline or delegate so that you have more time to focus on what’s important? Are there any activities that could be replaced or discontinued all together? What times of day are you most  or least productive? Are you spending time doing things that are in complete opposition to your values or priorities?  How much time are you wasting?
  4. How can you change the way you spend your time in order to support  your goals?  What behaviors  can you change in order to support the achievement of your goals?
  5. Make a list of immediate changes you are willing to make in the way that you spend your time in order to get you from where you are to where you want to be.
Be honest with yourself about the attitudes and behaviors that have been holding you back from enjoying the life you want. Hopefully after completing the exercises you see that the way your life is now is directly proportional to your attitudes and behaviors as well as the way you spend your time. You have a solid foundation on which to start changing your life into the life you have always imagined.
At this point in my journey I was aware where I needed to make changes and I could no longer convince myself that I was just a victim of circumstance. I had made all the good and bad decisions that had led to this very moment, now was the time that I could take this new-found knowledge and start my personal metamorphosis, or I could decide that being where I want may take too much effort. It is up to you what you do with your life, the changes start happening when you have the courage to change.  Only you can decide what is important to you and how to spend your time,  make that decision and accept all the consequences that follow, good or bad.  Take responsibility,  you have created this life and only you can decide where to go next.

Goals: Get from where you are to where you want to be

A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.
         – Lao-Tzu,Chinese philosopher (604 BC – 531 BC)


In the previous step you defined your priorities, which are the values or ideals that you would like to shape your life. In this step you are going to get specific on what you want to accomplish. In order to bring alignment to your life refer to your list of values/priorities to help guide you in defining your goals.
Before you complete your set of goals ask yourself these important questions…
  • Are you willing to devote a lot of time and energy to accomplish this goal? Or is it more of a dream that you hope just falls in your lap?
  • Is it achievable? Have you been specific enough so you know when you have accomplished your goal? Have you given yourself a realistic timeline to complete this goal? Have you stated a goal or just an idea? For example,instead of saying, go back to school, state, I will enroll at (name of institution) by June 17, 2012. You can always modify your goals as you learn new information.
  • Is this goal stated positively? For example, instead of, quit overeating, say, I will focus on eating a healthy and nutritious diet. Always state your goals in a positive way, the point is not to beat yourself up but to give you a concrete objective to work towards.
  • Are your goals in balance with your priorities? Have you set goals in all the different areas you listed as very important? You want to have balanced goals in order to have a balanced life. For example, if you stated health, family and career were your highest priorities but your goals focus solely on career, then you can also set goals that will encompass your priorities of family and health. Balancing your goals will discussed further in the next section.
  • Does this goal make me grow as a person? It is important that your goals take you out of your comfort zone, when you do things that make you uncomfortable, you master new skills, meet new people, and gain self-confidence. If you want a more enjoyable life, you have  to do things differently. In fact, Dr. Edwin Locke found during his research in the 1960’s that, specific and more difficult goals led to better task performance than easy or vague goals.

You Have to Start Somewhere

Making sustainable lifestyle changes is hard work, and until you are truly committed to making real changes you will find yourself sliding back into those old comfy (& often unhealthy) habits. When I began acknowledging that my life was in a very sad state and no where close to where I had hoped , I began looking for answers, I tried setting goals but they never seemed to get any closer to being realized, I read, I tried visualization, I was adrift. It seemed  I would follow one step forward with three steps backwards, I yearned for change. “WHY ME?”, I wondered what I had done wrong to deserve such trials.
Then one day I was reading about the 12 Laws of Karma and something in me realized it was me that needed to make changes if I ever expected anything in my life to change. If you would like to read more on the 12 laws of Karma,  Raven Emrys does a great job of explaining it here. You don’t have to believe in karma to understand the universal truth that our surroundings mirror what is going on inside of us and the universe will continue to put us in certain situations until we learn the lessons that make us change.
The first step in this process is tough and sometimes even painful (it’s hard to admit not so awesome stuff about yourself). It is always easier to blame someone or something else for your troubles, being honest with yourself takes the effort. There is no magic formula that will give you the answers you seek or the life you want, but there is also no reason you can’t start evaluating where you are and how to get where you want .





Exercise 1.1:
  1. Make a list of your priorities (examples: health/fitness, family, finances, happiness, career, learning, community service, spirituality/ faith).
Exercise 1.2:
  1. Relax. Close your eyes and imagine yourself in your favorite place many years from now when you are in the twilight years of your life. Reflect on your life from this vantage point. What are you most grateful for? What did you accomplish? What are your most treasured experiences? What is your favorite way to spend your time? List your answers on a separate piece of paper, be as thorough as possible. May be done alone or with a partner.
  2. Relax. Close your eyes and imagine you are back in your favorite place, but instead of being in the twilight of your life it is present day and you have just learned you have terminal cancer and have been given six months to live. What do you want to experience, accomplish, change or have, now that you have this additional information. List your answers on a separate sheet  of paper. May be done alone or with a partner.
  3. Now compare your two sets of answers, did your priorities change? Often when threatened with a terminal illness, perspectives shift and the things that are truly important to us emerge.
  4. Save your two lists of answers from this exercise, you need them for future exercises.
Exercise 1.3:
  1. Take the lists you developed in exercise two and order them from least to most important. This information will help you when having to make an important decision.
This is your starting point, now you can focus on setting goals that are in-line with your priorities and values.

Thursday, June 7, 2012


"The most important changes do not happen around us, they happen within us."    -Ellice Campbell

 Enlightened Lotus Wellness was founded  on the ideal that everyone has the power to shape their  life as they see fit. Everyone can and should enjoy their life. No one can tell you how to love your life, that is something you must decide for yourself. Are you enjoying yours? Do you wake up excited to face the new day? If so, GREAT!! If not, why? What is stopping you from enjoying your life? Only You have the answers and only You can change your life. Our goal here at Enlightened Lotus is to help you figure out the best version of your life and help you get there. Unsure of where to start? Check out our Get Started page for tips and exercises to help you decide the changes you need to make in order to start enjoying the best version of your life possible. Once you have a plan browse our other pages for information and ideas on Diet & Nutrition, Lifestyle, Mind over Matter, or Inspiration & Motivation.

 Being well is not just the absence of illness, but finding your own unique balance of body, mind & soul. 

Ellice Campbell

Founder of Enlightened Lotus Wellness

I am passionate about changing the way the world approaches wellness while promoting self empowerment.  In order to enjoy real wellness we have to take responsibility for the choices we make, look at our failures as opportunities for growth, and become self aware. I strives to provide you with the tools and techniques that will help you find your own personal version of wellness. Just like the lotus, we may come from murky beginnings but we have the innate ability to rise above and blossom. 
While earning my Bachelor of Science degree in Alternative Medicine from Everglades University, I decided to focus my efforts on educating others on how they can lead happier, healthier lives. My mission became to use my creativity, knowledge and compassion to inspire others to joyfully foster their own version of a wonderful life. I do NOT diagnose or treat conditions, I help you to restore the body, mind, and soul to the balance and harmony it was intended to enjoy. Life does not have to be a struggle, when you are honest with yourself about where you are and where you want to go, when you become aware of the attitudes and behaviors that helped or hurt you, and you commit to changing your life, anything is possible! 

Contact Us

If you would like more information about Enlightened Lotus Wellness and the services we offer, or to schedule your personal wellness consultation, please send an email to: