Mama Cathy’s Well-Balanced transformation

Mama Cathy’s Well-Balanced transformation

Cathy Passeun, aka Mama Cathy, is an inspirational woman. When we lived in Arizona she frequently climbed Shaw butte – A solid 3 mile hike uphill in the desert. When I was in middle school she went to grad school and completed a masters degree. When I was in high school she chose self-employment to have more freedom in her schedule and spend quality time with her teenage daughter (brave, right?!). She has bought and sold houses and investment property. She teaches yoga and stays actively involved in her church as a believer in Jesus Christ. The word you are looking for is multifaceted. 

When my mom got above her desired weight range earlier this year she became motivated to get it in check, and lucky enough she has a dietitian daughter. 

Mama Cathy is preoccupied with knowing how long it takes her to do certain tasks. For instance, she discovered it takes 7 minutes to empty the dishwasher – now when she’s contemplating if there is enough time she knows it’s just 7 minutes. Recently, in an effort to include more energy during the day my mom started including a whole grain English muffin and a microwave scrambled egg at breakfast (did you know this is a thing?!). One day, for fun she timed how long it took to prepare and eat this meal, which she discovered totaled 16 minutes – 3 minutes to cook and 13 to eat. Now she knows how to (1) make a simple, healthy and well-balanced breakfast and (2) block time for breakfast, which is important for her weight-loss goals. (see note from Mama Cathy below!) 

I’m not trying to call her out; however, my mom is no stranger to fast food restaurants.  As a busy executive for JDRF she is often on the road for business. Going to a sit-down restaurant is not always an option so occasionally Wendy’s, Taco Bell or aother drive-thru comes in handy. Last week while running around town, Mom realized she forgot to eat breakfast before leaving home. While driving by McDonald’s she noticed a grocery store in the same shopping center and passed the drive-thru to go pick up hard-boiled eggs and an apple to give her the protein and complex carbohydrates for energy to last through the morning.  

For as long as I remember my mom has always been a walker, but in more recent years I’ve discovered she loves taking classes. Forever a student, she enjoys the community and encouragement in the group fitness setting. Now Mom signs up for water aerobics at the community center and looks forward to her workout and whirlpool time every Monday and Wednesday evening. 

I’m so proud of my mom for many reasons, but this year I am especially proud of the commitment she made to her health. She inspires me and I hope has inspired you too! 

Food for thought:

It can be overwhelming when you try to change your diet and lifestyle. Fortunately, you are part of the Well-Balanced Tribe who wants to encourage and support your healthy choices. 

What is 1 day-to-day habit you can work on this week? ___________________________

How can you make it fun (like combining exercise with the whirlpool fun!)?


Note from Mama Cathy: 2 thoughts – breakfast takes 16 minutes because I’m also making a fresh made shake that I put in a travel mug and take to work with me. While I’m cooking my breakfast I’m also making my midmorning healthy snack. Also, just so folks know change can take a while-it took me six months of being on Weight Watchers to get to this point with my food.

It didn’t happen all at once it and it certainly doesn’t happen quickly and it doesn’t happen in the span of an hour show. It’s something where I believe little changes incorporated overtime are really what add up to the difference.

Saturday Morning Pumpkin Muffins

Saturday Morning Pumpkin Muffins

Staying in your pajamas a little longer, watching cartoons, and snuggling on the couch… all reasons I love Saturday mornings. It is a sunny but cool day here in Durham and the perfect fall day for pumpkin muffins. We had these as a mid morning snack and they really hit the spot!

This recipe is modified from this post over at The Kitchn. They make a point to use the individual spices instead of the premixed pumpkin pie spice. They also remind you that the recipe calls for plain pumpkin puree not the sweetened pumpkin pie mix in a can.


Saturday Morning Pumpkin Muffins

  • 1 3/4 cups white whole wheat flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon allspice
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 1/3 cups light brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 1/3 cups pumpkin purée (one 15 oz can)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  1. Heat the oven to 350°F.
  2. Prepare a 12-cup muffin pan (or two 6-cup muffins pans) with liners, or skip the liners and just grease the cups.
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, allspice, and salt. Set aside.
  4. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or in a large mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, 1 to 2 minutes.
  5. Add the eggs one at a time, beating after adding each one.
  6. Add the pumpkin purée and vanilla extract.
  7. Stir in half the dry ingredients, mixing until just combined. Add the second half. Do not overmix.
  8. Spoon the batter into the prepared muffin cups so they are 3/4 of the way full.
  9. Bake for 18 to 22 minutes, until a tester comes out with few crumbs.
  10. Let the muffins cool enough to handle. Enjoy!!
Baked Goods, Breakfast, Snacks

What I did with all the Halloween candy

What I did with all the Halloween candy

I love fall. The weather is cooler, the leaves change color and it’s the perfect time to get outside. Not to mention it marks the beginning of many celebrations and holidays to come…which is a wonderful thing and a challenging thing all at once.

Halloween is the first celebration of the season and boy was that fun! Don’t you just love seeing kids in their costumes all giddy for candy? And walking past all the houses with spooky decorations?

Of course, my 3-year-old wanted to be Elsa and my little guy was an adorable dragon. They did a great job of collecting tons of goodies in their plastic pumpkin buckets, but now I am dealing with the aftermath.

elsa dragon

Candy on the brain. It’s all my little Elsa wants in the morning and in the afternoon and before bed. She sees that plastic bucket and she wants to consume all the candies! If you give her one she asks for “one more” and then “one more.”

Can you blame her? I can’t. She is just like her mom. I see the candy sitting out and I grab a piece. Then I think to myself, ” maybe just one more.” I am not a good moderator with chocolate and cookies. I do much better if it’s out of sight, out of mind.

So here is my 2 part strategy for the Halloween candy stash.

  1. I created a game board that I titled LIFE IS SWEET. I found a poster board and wrote the rules of the game: (1) Be sweet. (2) Be grateful. (3) Enjoy a sweet treat. I taped/glued on 30 paper cups and let my little girl pick out 30 of her favorite pieces of candy which she then put in each cup.  I covered the cups with a square of tissue paper labeled 1-30. Now every day in November after we recall the ways in which she was sweet that day – for instance, being a good friend, listening to mom and dad, being kind to her brother – and say out loud one thing she is thankful for she can enjoy a treat. (By the way, the two things she is grateful for so far are candy and macaroni and cheese! Ha!)
  2. I put the rest out of sight so it can be out of mind. I froze the rest of the chocolate candy to pull out on special occasions throughout the next 10 to 12 months or when the dire craving hits. The non-chocolate candy went in the cabinet.

I’m hopeful that the 2-part strategy will eliminate the desire to overindulge and create a fun element to enjoying the candy over time.

Food for thought:

Are you a moderator or an abstainer when it comes to Halloween candy? How about other holiday treats?

What strategies can you use to make it easier to avoid overindulging when ______ is present in abundance?

A trip to the State Fair: 5 lessons in self-care

A trip to the State Fair: 5 lessons in self-care

Monday, October 31st

Farm animals… Check

Meat on a stick… Check

Flying acrobatic dogs… Check

Deep fried dough… Check

All signs point to a fun-filled experience at the North Carolina State fair. One thing I didn’t expect to get from the experience was a wonderful opportunity to practice mindfulness and self-care. While walking through crowds of people from all over the state it would have been easy to get annoyed or frustrated every time a stranger ran into me or cut us off in mid-stride. Instead, I noticed how my mind responded to each encounter. See a few of these insights below.

Lessons learned at the fair:

  1. I really don’t enjoy big crowds anymore – My dad has been saying this for years and I used to think he was kind of lame. Now I respect his decision because frankly hanging out with a lot of other people – especially strangers – can be sort of exhausting.
  1. I should always pack a lunch – even just a peanut butter jelly sandwich. I know, I know lucy-bananathe food is half the fun at the fair. However, knowing that I have something well-balanced on hand and not being subject to the deep-fried, calorie dense fluff gives me the peace of mind to make a mindful and delicious decision (like a frozen chocolate covered banana!) in the face of too many choices.
  1. Staying well hydrated is imperative. I should always fill up my water when I have the opportunity because the next water fountain might be broken.
  1. Practice mental health exercises before, during, and after. I need to do 30 minutes of exercise such as a brisk walk or short jog before potentially stressful or draining events. Exercise is my form of mental health, maybe for you relaxing includes reading a good book, doing crafts, or talking to a friend.
  1. Stay in the moment. Appreciate humanity. Take pictures and smile because you’re having fun. Don’t let one person stepping on your toes (literally or figuratively!) ruin the rest of the experience.

Food for thought:

What are some of your self-care truths? You can discover this by filling in the blank:

I feel most peaceful and happy when: _____________________________________________________.

When are you not taking caring of yourself?

I feel overwhelmed and irritable when: ____________________________________________________.

With the holidays rapidly approaching, I encourage each of you to list at least 3 ways you can take care of yourself during this festive and fun-filled season.

  1. _____________________________________
  2. _____________________________________
  3. _____________________________________
  4. Bubble bath at least 1x/week
  5. Getting a great book to read when I need to relax
The trouble with counting calories

The trouble with counting calories

Calories, calories, calories. So important, yet so frustrating. We know eating more calories than we burn will cause weight gain, right? So, why don’t we all just track our calories daily and everyone will be at a healthy, happy weight? Simple! America’s weight problems SOLVED!

You and I know it’s not that simple. If this method worked, Lucy and I would need to start looking for another job.

Calories aren’t everything. Eating a low-calorie diet does not equate to eating healthy. If you are on the twinkie diet, a fast food diet or possibly a fad diet, you may be malnourished. Plus your body reacts differently to a 100 calorie cookie compared to 100 calories of fruits or vegetables.  Processed foods can signal your body to store fat, while whole and natural foods can help you burn fat AND feel more satisfied.

At some point in your well-balanced journey, you might wonder how many calories you need and seek guidance getting there. You may find it helpful to keep track of your calorie intake for a few days. Monitoring how many calories we eat can help us maintain or lose weight in the short term, it can waste valuable time and energy in the long term.

Recently, two of my clients came to realize this truth. For a few days, calorie counting was a great opportunity to see part of the puzzle.  It was a good experiment. But it was only a small part of their puzzle and it had its downfalls. They were finding themselves thinking about food all the time, obsessing over the calorie counts, and feeling anxiety about it all day long. That’s no way to live.

We can help you figure out how many calories you need but more importantly we help you figure out how to eat well balanced without being a slave to daily calorie counting.


Rather than focusing time and energy on counting calories, take a step back and look at the whole picture. Spend more time and energy on preparing home-made food,  slowly enjoying your food, balancing your plate and filling it with mostly natural or plant-based foods, taking care of yourself and managing your stress.

No PhD required!

No PhD required!

Monday, Oct 24th


I often have people bring me food containers to determine if it’s a healthy option or not. You may have seen or heard that the FDA is working on redefining the term healthy on food labels due to an ongoing battle with Kind Bars.

Here’s the quick and simple Well-Balanced Way to know if you are making a healthy choice:

  1. Can you read, pronounce and explain all the ingredients on the ingredients list? 

Polydextrose, soy lecithin, anhydrous milk fat, glycerin, hydrolyzed gelatin… These are just a few ingredients found in the Atkins Advantage Bar.

A good guideline for the ingredients issue,  can you explain to a 3-year old where it came from and why it is in your food? See Mindfulness starts here – thinking about the entire process.

  1. How many ingredients does it include?

I made an interesting discovering while looking at a label for lightly salted dry roasted peanuts – you’re thinking it’s peanuts and salt, right? Yea, plus the 13 other ingredients to add flavor and shelf-life. Yikes!


  1. How big is the portion size?

Portion size is at the very top of the label because it’s super important! Some companies still use an unusually small portion size (I’m looking at you ice cream containers) that many people do not follow. The consumer assumes they are doing great because “it’s only 220 calories per serving!” Nevermind, that they polished off the entire pint and now that 220 calories has turned into an extra 880 calories. WOW! 


  1. What is the sodium content?

This is more important for some than others, especially if you have salt-sensitive hypertension (high blood pressure). Most of us would benefit by decreasing our sodium intake; however, at Well-Balanced Nutrition we want you to season your foods! The amount of salt added at restaurants and fast food chains will almost always be significantly more than what you prepare at home. 

  1. What’s the goal?

Is this a snack or a meal? If you have not had the pleasure of playing Lucy’s game good vs better it’s important to note there is no “bad food.

There are good choices and better choices. Of course, I’m not encouraging cookies for breakfast, but that may be better than going hungry. A better choice than cookies is whole wheat toast, peanut butter, and a piece of fruit. 

Food for thought:

Is your food really as healthy as the label claims? There may be more to the story than they want you as the consumer to know. Now you have more tools and knowledge to arm yourself for your next trip to the grocery store! 


List the top 3 foods you will compare next time you go grocery shopping:

  1. _______________________________
  2. _______________________________
  3. _______________________________


Mindfulness starts here – thinking about the entire process

Mindfulness starts here – thinking about the entire process

One of the very nicest things about life is the way we must regularly stop whatever it is we are doing and devote our attention to eating. -L. Pavorotti

Crumbs fell on my desk… It’s about 10:30 am and I was listening to the audio version of the Blue Zones Solutions, a book by Dan Buettner on the secrets to longevity. In my ear, I heard Buettner tell stories about 5 different communities where the majority of the people live long lives free of afflictions like heart disease, obesity, cancer, and diabetes.

I was learning about the lives of centenarians who were still vibrant and full of life. Each one of them had their own unique story – full of  tragic moments and triumphant ones. When it came to the question of what they ate to live such healthy lives, the answer varied a bit but there was one thing I noticed they all had in common. Food wasn’t something they got at the grocery store or a restaurant. Food was an integral part of their everyday lives. From planting a seed, harvesting the fruit, to soaking the beans, food was something they cultivated from the ground up. They were fully involved in the entire process.

Here I was mindlessly snacking to tame my mid-morning hunger. As I looked down at the fallen crumbs on my desk, I thought of how far removed most Americans, including myself, have come from the entire process. We eat several times without having to do any of the growing, the tending, the harvesting or even the preparing of the food. We just consume without thinking twice about who, what, when, where and how this food came to be sitting in front of us. In fact, food is so much of an afterthought in our culture. Everything else is more important and food is sometimes the last thing we think about. Convenience and multitasking have somehow become things we value most and this left me wondering how we can make our way back to the mindset that food is worth our time, effort and appreciation because food gives us life.

There is something to be said about being connected to where our food comes from, having a hand in preparing it and sitting down to mindfully enjoy it. It was something that just came naturally to these centenarians. I think it can come to us all naturally if we just tune in a little more. We can grow some of our own food, get to know and buy from our local farmers, stop and think about the work that went into our food when someone else grows and prepares it, and focus on eating it.  While it was only one component in the lives of the centenarians, it is an important one that we can learn from. It’s really where mindfullness begins.

So, I turned off the audiobook. Looked at my granola bar and savored that last few bites. Food is a wonderful thing. It sustains us and nourishes us. It gives us the fuel we need to move, love, think and serve. Any small step we can take toward participating in the entire process is worthy of our time and effort.

What can you do today or this week to be more mindful of your food? Here are just a few ideas to get you thinking.

  • Plant some kale or lettuce in a container for the cool months ahead.
  • Get to know a farmer from your farmer’s market this weekend or sign up for a CSA or produce box.
  • Prep some meals in advance this weekend and get family and friends involved in the process
  • __________________________________
  • __________________________________





How are you feeding your mind?

How are you feeding your mind?

Monday, October 17, 2016 

As your favorite dietitians, Kristen and I strive to give you lots of motivation, inspiration, and information to eat and live well-balanced. It is our goal to fill, not just your inbox, but your mind and wellness toolbox with plenty of resources and ideas to live a healthy and fulfilled life.


In the height of the election season, I cannot get used to what each of us is subjected to daily – if not hourly – with all the news, social media, and other interferences constantly bombarding us with negative messaging.


Politics aside, I’d like to speak about how you feed your mind. Aside from your weekly Motivational Monday and Wellness Wednesday articles how are you choosing to input information into this computer system we call our minds? Darren Hardy says it best in a recent Darren Daily episode that likens our brains to a Google search.  The search engine is only as good as the information available – do you have enough reliable information on living well in your database?


I am always seeking to further develop my personal growth and continue to improve myself. I choose to listen to podcasts such as EntreLeadership that build me up and feed my mind with new and motivating ideas to be a better leader. I enjoy reading books like Farmacology that provide information to using food as medicine. I attend Grace Church as a regular reminder of how to continue to grow spiritually.


Food for thought:

Here’s your chance to put this to practical application. Take a moment to list your common media diet (such as what news you watch or read, what social media you enjoy, or what radio stations or podcasts you’re listening to)

  1. ____________________________   ________
  2. ____________________________   ________
  3. ____________________________   ________


Next rank each one on a scale 1 to 5 – 1 being “junk food” for the brain and 5 include thoughtful, well-balanced resources or information.

For example, Snapchat is on my list and I’d give it a 2, because realistically that is fluff in helping me reach my personal development goals (but it’s so much fun!)


Bonus points! Take a moment to list two or three resources you would like to utilize to reach your own personal goals


  1. ______________________________________
  2. ______________________________________
  3. ______________________________________


Eat like a dietitian – a few secrets from a day in the life!

Eat like a dietitian – a few secrets from a day in the life!

Monday, October 10, 2016

On occasion, I get the surprising question in the middle of a client session “well, what do you eat?!” It’s human nature to be curious – plus most people figure out early on that I’m an open book. 

I had the opportunity to order and take lunch to our new office (yay!!!) to share with my lovely business partner, Kristen, and our small business lawyer, Richard Bobholz, a couple weeks ago. I noticed a few things that make us dietitians unique in our eating habits. 

During lunch, Kristen pulled out the BBQ chicken from City Barbecue, which was probably about 10 to 12 ounces. Seriously y’all, this chicken breast was the same size as her head!

As dietitians, we do not assume the portion at the restaurant is one serving size. Everyone needs a different amount of energy each day, but most people are satisfied by 3-6 ounces of protein per meal. 

Don’t forget the sides! Before picking up lunch, I was on the phone reading Kristen the long list of side options, including but not limited to coleslaw, french fries, baked beans, hush puppies, etc. Our lawyer picked baked beans and mac & cheese; meanwhile, the dietitian got coleslaw and green beans. To break it down, Kristen’s plate was covered with half vegetables and a more personalized serving of chicken. (She also enjoyed some of the Texas toast included!) 

We may not eat much, but we do eat often! During lunch, Richard mentioned he had not eaten anything for over 7 hours because he got busy during the workday.  Kristen and I sighed as we both would have passed out or become quite hangry. There is no magic formula to eating 3 times versus 6 small meals, but I know first hand if I wait too long in between eating I’m much more likely to overindulge and much less likely to gravitate toward healthy foods

Food for thought

There is not a one-size-fits-all diet – different approaches work for different bodies. There are, however, lots of little things each of us can do to make well-balanced choices every day.

Let us know in the comments below how you eat like a dietitian! 

The Miracle Medicine You Need to Know About and How to Make a Habit Stick

The Miracle Medicine You Need to Know About and How to Make a Habit Stick

Do you know about this SIMPLE way of improving your overall well-being? There is one medicine that when taken regularly is proven to…

  • Be an effective antidepressant in mild to moderate cases of depression
  • Protect an aging brain against memory loss and dementia
  • Defend your heart against heart disease and stroke
  • Lower your bad (LDL) cholesterol while increasing good (HDL) cholesterol
  • Keep your blood pressure in check
  • Slash your risk of diabetes, asthma and some cancers
  • Increase bone density and help prevent osteoporosis
  • Support Vitamin D levels
  • Boost your circulation and increase oxygen supply to the brain
  • Increase muscle mass and tone
  • Burn more calories

Now you might expect this medicine to cost you a fortune. I hate to tell you this but insurance does not cover it at this time. Lucky for you and me… this medicine doesn’t cost a thing.

walkingSo what is this medicine?

Walking. That’s right. The simple act of putting one foot in front of the other is proven to improve our well-being in many, many ways. All those benefits sound great, right!? So, why aren’t we all hitting the pavement more often? Although it requires no equipment or gym membership, walking just isn’t as easy as swallowing a pill. It takes a little more effort. That’s why I am sharing Peggy’s story with you today.

For her, walking went from a chore to “I can do more!’

Peggy was noticing that her weight was starting to creep up and results from a recent doctor’s visit prompted her to think about incorporating exercise into her days. She had tried going to the gym, taking group exercise classes, and doing exercise at home on her own. Nothing seemed to stick. She knew that exercise would help her cut back on medications, but it was always such a chore.

Then she made it a goal to walk one mile outdoors most days of the week. Sometimes she would think to herself, ‘if I can’t walk a mile, I might as well not walk at all.’ She didn’t realize it then, but this was a limiting belief that was getting in her way. One day she had a “lightbulb moment” when she read this quote: “It doesn’t matter how slow you go, as long as you do not stop.” It was then that she realized if she were to make walking a regular habit, she would need to do it nearly every day, even if her walk was short. She started walking 15 minutes at first and built her way up to 30-40 minutes most days of the week. Ten weeks later, walking is part of her routine, and she doesn’t feel right without her morning stroll.

mom“The first 2 weeks were the hardest. It wasn’t easy to get out there and get going. But once I started walking, I would feel the benefits and that motivated me to continue. Some days, I surprise myself. I’ll get out there for a short walk but then I end up going further then I planned! So to others I would say, “It’s okay to start small.” Just get out and be consistent. – Peggy Cole


Food for Thought

The moral of her story is this: You need to build momentum to make a new habit stick. The only way to build momentum is to get out there and go  – no matter how slow, how short or how sloppy the result. Simply get out there consistently. Once you’ve done it a few times, you’ll feel motivated to keep going and before you know it you’ve built a habit.