Portion Distortion: Bacon

Bacon! Everybody loves bacon! A staple for breakfast in the USA, but is it healthy and are you consuming the proper portion size?

I chose a popular bacon brand. I won’t share the name, but it is a common brand, non organic, and not low sodium or low fat. Before I talk about the portion size and what the label says, I read an article the other day that the organization that regulates food labels in the USA allows for up to 20% error in the actual nutrition info. So, keep that in mind when I go over the nutrition info.

The proper portion size of bacon is 2 strips, for this particular brand, but I have purchased some that say 3 strips. Of those 2 strips of bacon, there is 90 calories, but it could be as much as 108 calories per 2 slices. Fat per 2 slices is 7 g or 11% of your daily intake, but it could be as high as 8.5 g. 2 slices contains 13% of your saturated fat intake for a whole day, just 2 slices. Cholesterol is 20 mg but could be up to 24 mg. Sodium for those 2 slices is 350 mg per the label, but again can be up to 420 mg actually. Protein is 7 g for 2 slices, but with the margin of error could be 8.4 g per 2 slices.

If you are consuming more than the recommended portion size of 2 slices, you can easily figure out how much you will be consuming. This is just for breakfast. If you have CKD, High Blood Pressure, or Heart Disease, you can easily see how bacon can be your nemesis. Now don’t get me wrong I love a good BLT now and then. It doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy bacon in your diet. It just means you have to stick to the portion size on the label and account for it in your daily requirements.

If you would like to learn more about portion control, chronic disease management etc, use the contact form at the end of this post to message me. All new clients get their first month of coaching for just 25 dollars.



Burger Fervor

OK, fervor may not be the correct word in this context, but it sounds cool, lol. August 27th is National Burger Day! Hamburgers are a huge part of the American food culture. But, apparently it is a global food item. The video below will show a quick and unique history of the Hamburger.

If you have CKD, Diabetes or any other chronic illness where a hamburger may not be something you should eat all the time, there are ways to still enjoy a burger without harming your health.

Here are some ways to make a burger healthier for different dietary needs:

1- Make a burger slider. Sliders are much smaller than a standard hamburger which can be anywhere from 6-12 ounces in size. I make my burgers in 2 to 3 ounce sizes. If you must eat a burger out, see if they offer a slider option, if not only eat half and take the rest home for another meal.

2- The bun is super important for a hamburger. I personally like whole grain sandwich thins, as my burger bun. Try to choose organic, non white bun options. If you are stage 4 or 5 CKD then you will want white flour buns. If you are Diabetic choose low carb options of buns, and low fat for Cardiac Disease. Try to get the lowest sodium per serving as you can. If you absolutely are low carb simply put your burger in a bowl with lettuce, pickles, cheese and some Thousand Island dressing, and you have a Big Mac in a bowl.

3- Use more mustard and less Catsup. Mustard is naturally salty tasting but has little to no sodium. Add fresh Basil leaves to give it a lovely peppery taste.

4- Choose a low sodium cheese such as Swiss for your burger. Go for organic. Not all Swiss cheese brands are low sodium. Baby Swiss is higher in sodium, but I like Sargento as it is one of the lowest sodium cheeses I can find.

5- If you absolutely want a full size burger, add black beans, corn half and half ground beef to your burger. Or use ground turkey and half black beans or corn.

6- Add lots of veggies to your burger such as tomato, lettuce, and onions. Don’t forget some pickles though they are generally higher in sodium.

7- Choose grass fed beef if you can, with the lowest fat percentage possible, and let your burger stand on a plate with a paper towel to absorb some of the fat after cooking. Then put it on your burger bun. Grilling meat over a high heat flame in some studies shows it causes a chemical reaction that can be cancerous. If you are concerned about opt to grill over a lower heat with less flame.

You can still enjoy food holidays. Just be Mindful how you choose your ingredients, and then prepare the food.

Health Buddy Melissa is a Holistic Health Coach, Mindfulness Practitioner, Nurse, Reiki Practitioner and more. If you would like to learn more about any of my Health Coaching plans, click here. Use the contact form at the end of this post to contact me for a free meet and greet, to establish your goals and see if you would like to use my services.


chocolate is good for your kidneys?

I have not written about herbs, spices or essential oils much since completing my Herbalism certificate. I am going to be doing more of it, though. Chocolate is not an herb, but by definition it is a spice with medicinal properties.

Is it possible that chocolate is good for your kidneys and your heart? Sort of. Most chocolate purchased at your local store would probably not fit this category as it has tons of added sugars and fat. But the Cocoa Bean contains something magical called Flavinols. Flavinols improve blood circulation thereby improving circulation to both the heart and the kidneys. Most chocolate purchased in your local store have been stripped in the processing plant of flavinols. But, the good news is there are some companies that make flavinol rich dark chocolate. You do have to read the label, and I would pick the drink mix because the snack bars have lots of sugars and fats in them. But, if you want a healthy ish kind of take a long snack the bars on occasion can work. Milk chocolate has little to no flavinols, and white chocolate has none. If you have never eaten dark chocolate it can be bitter and takes some getting used to. I would probably use the powder in a smoothie, or you could put it in a protein shake. Dark chocolate has quite a bit of protein, so again watch your serving size. If you need to watch your phosphorus levels chocolate may not be a good option, but talk to your doctor if it can be a once in a while treat. I have provided a bunch of links below with information on studies of flavinols in chocolate, and how they can help Heart Disease and Kidney Disease. Like anything else, moderation is a good mantra. You don’t want to overdo flavinols anymore than anything else.

If you have Kidney Disease, Heart Disease, or any chronic illness, use the contact form at the bottom of this page to message me for a free meet and greet to learn how a Holistic Health Coach can help you manage. You can also email me directly at melissa@healthbuddymelissa.coach You can see all of my Health Buddy plans, here.






Sweet, Sweet Basil!

Happy Sunday, everyone! I hope all is well with my readers. Today is Self Care Sunday. So, why am I talking about Basil? Well for a couple of reasons. One, part of self care is eating good nutritious foods. Two, also part of self care is relaxation and self confidence. Both of these can come from growing a garden of your own. I am not good at growing summer crops. I have tried, I suck! Namely because I simply don’t have the time to water and fertilize as a summer garden requires here in Florida. I am quite good at growing flowers, and herbs, though. I think I will try a winter garden. My local store had no seeds at all. I am assuming due to Covid people are growing a lot of their own food, as there is always tons of seeds this time of year.

Basil is so super easy to grow and care for. It is delicious and nutritious. I must make a note here. If you have CKD Basil is a green, and greens are high in potassium. You do only need to eat very small amounts of Basil to get tons of flavor, but be sure and speak to your doctor about proper amounts if you have issues with potassium. Also if you are on Warfarin, Coumadin or other blood thinners, Basil is very high in Vitamin K which can counteract your blood thinners. Again, speak with your doctor or pharmacist about consuming greens and how much.

If you live in cold climates, Basil likes 70 degrees or warmer, simply grow your Basil indoors. I have quite a bit of Basil right now, so I will freeze some for smoothies, or cooking. Some people put it in water, or oil in ice cube trays and freeze it. I just chop it up and freeze it. If you are trying to decrease your sodium intake, Basil is a wonderful herb to add tons of flavor in very small amounts. There are other varieties but I like the Sweet Basil the best.

Basil is high in Vitamin K, Iron, Magnesium and others too. It has little to no calories at all, and no sodium. Even though it does have about 16mg of potassium per 2 tbsp chopped, it is lower than many other leafy greens.

Below are 2 links for your reading pleasure, and some videos about caring for and growing Basil. As I said it is very easy to grow and care for. You can even give it as gifts if you get a ton of it. I have added a link for Basil Essential Oil. Be sure and read about safety before using it.

I find gardening very relaxing. There is something about feeling the earth in your hands. As your plant grows and you gain confidence you can try other plants in your food garden. Amazon has several books on growing plants in pots, if you can not have a garden in the ground. If you would like to learn more about my Health Coaching services use the contact form at the end of the post to message me.



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Can Covid 19 be spread via cigarette smoke?

Keeping with the theme for this week, Covid 19, can it be spread via cigarette or vaping smoke?

So, it appears that yes it can. It makes perfect sense to me that if singing, or simply talking can spread Covid 19 than obviously smoking or vaping could spread it. It appears vaping is worse as the vapor smoke can travel much further than cigarette smoke. You obviously are not wearing a mask when you smoke or vape. It is just one more thing to keep in the back of your mind as you try to avoid catching Covid 19.

Below is one reading link, and several videos for you to view on this subject. If you would like to quit smoking, and would like to use my Health Coaching services to help you quit, use the contact form at the end of this post to message me. Or, leave me a comment with your contact info.



oleander and oleandrin: What you should know

This is not exactly what I intended to talk about today, but with it all over the news I figured I would.

Let me start by saying I have a certificate in Herbalism, and essential oils are a derivative of herbs. I like essential oils, or the few that I am familiar with and have been tested and peer reviewed. Also, let me say that most essential oils have limited to no testing on humans for either safety or efficacy, especially for people who already have underlying illnesses. That is why people should never take herbal supplements or essential oils without discussing it with their doctor first. You think because it comes from a plant it must be safe. This is the furthest thing from the truth.

Oleander is a flowering plant. All parts of this plant are toxic, but traditional cultural medicines have used it for various health issues. The main issue with it is toxic to the heart. I won’t go into big terms, you can read the article below, from Drugs.com but it has similar effects to Digoxin a cardiac medication that slows and strengthens the heart. Digoxin has been used for years, but it has a very narrow window to toxicity which can be deadly. It requires lab work and being followed by a doctor to be sure the dose is not too much. Oleander is also toxic to the liver and the kidneys.

So, why am I talking about it? If you follow the news you may have noticed a lot of hub bub about something called Oleandrin, which is some form of derivative of the Oleander plant. It is being pushed by a particular business man as a supposed or purported treatment for Coronavirus. There has not been, apparently, or that I could find of this being tested in animals or humans. It was tested in test tubes and apparently did kill viruses, but also it is true that lots of things kill a virus in a test tube but have no effect in animals or humans.

The only purpose of this post is to bring awareness to the topic, and to caution my readers against using any herb, botanical product, or essential oil to cure Covid 19 or any other disease, without discussing it with a trained medical doctor. Wearing a face mask, handwashing and social distancing are proven to help prevent Covid 19.

Read about Oleander at Drugs.com

Be smart, be safe!


Why is Covid 19 Causing Damage to the Kidneys?

All this week I will be dedicating time to discussions of why Covid 19 is attacking the kidneys, according to scientists.

What the Fructose!

If you read this blog then you know I have had my own struggles with weight loss especially since reaching menopause. You also know I promote organic foods, when possible, and decreasing sugar. So, if you read my post from the other day about sugar being addicting then you got a good feel for the science. However, more explanation is needed especially when it comes to Fructose and sneaky names for sugar on food labels. Not only should you check for how many added sugars there are foods you buy in the supermarket, but also at the ingredients on each label. If you are having a hard time losing weight, or have Type 2 Diabetes, Pre-Diabetes, or Metabolic Syndrome, watch all of the videos below and learn about Fructose, High Fructose Corn Syrup, added sugars and how the body metabolizes sugars. You may have to pick your jaw up off the floor. None of them are long, and if you are at a high risk for Cardiac Disease pay particular attention to how high sugar amounts are leading to Cardiac Disease. This is not a paid post and I get no credit for sharing the videos. They are to help my readers learn.

There is one link, here, and the video is awesome, but be sure to read it all too. Do it last, though, after the other videos. It will make more sense.


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Is sugar Evil and Addicting?

Happy Tuesday! Is sugar evil and addicting? I don’t think sugar in and of itself can be considered evil. However, the food industry can be.

Did you know sugar is 8 times more addicting than cocaine? How would I know such a thing? Because they did a study, and you can learn about that study in the video below.

Why am I even bringing this up? Well for one thing this is a Holistic Health Coaching blog, and I am the owner. While I am certainly no one to say my nutrition status is perfect, but I choose to continue to learn and improve to be the healthiest I can be. A couple of years ago my son took Writing course at his college, but the book they used was about food. Weird right? Well, he moved out last weekend and I found the book when going through his items. It is quite a good read. It is called Food Matters and I will be using it for a Nutrition course I am making for my 16 year old daughter. I will be using a lot of the writing topics on this blog. I intended to write about Heart Health and sugar. But, it seemed better to start with a more thorough video explaining how sugar is used by the food industry in processed foods to get us all hooked on their products. The video is not short, but he does explain it in very easy terms exactly how added sugars are making us fat and unhealthy.

Have you ever read a food label. I read them all the time, but never really paid attention to sugars. Why? I don’t know. I guess because I was more interested in protein and sodium levels due to having CKD. But, as I learn about added sugars, and the deleterious effects on health, I have started to pay more attention to sugars on labels. Look at the image below. I did not buy this food item for this post. It is always in my pantry because my kids and even my husband loves them. They are Poptarts, or toaster pastries, doesn’t matter they are all basically the same. Look at the label. Do you see where it says sugars? It says 30 grams of sugar per serving with 29 of them being added sugars. That is 58% of your daily recommended sugar intake for 2 pastries. That is insane! Plus that is only one meal and some people eat these as a snack. Plus these added sugars are in the form of Fructose or High Fructose Corn Syrup that the body does not digest properly and is very addictive according to the video and other studies.

Plus, did you know there are over 60 names for sugar that are not sugar to trick you into not knowing your eating sugar? Here is a list

The video was created by the Institute for Responsible Nutrition, and this is not a paid post by them. Stanford Health Care created the video it appears as that is where the doctor is from. But, I am looking into their options for promoting their cause. Check out their website. They have some pretty great stuff.

#eatrealfood is their slogan. Have you ever heard the saying, if your food needs a label it probably isn’t real? That is one way to start deciding how to choose healthier foods.

Now, I am not saying this is easy, or will be easy. Changing food addictions are extremely difficult, and if you live in a rural area where there are no real grocery stores it makes it even harder. You could grow your own food. I really stink at that, and you may have limited space. It doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try or give up. Making the healthiest food choices you can, even if it isn’t the best, is the best place to start. It is even harder when you have a family that may not be as committed to change as you are, or even friends. Be more determined for success than they are to make you fail.

If you would like to work with me to help you start your journey to healthier eating, message me at melissa@healthybuddymelissa.coach or use the contact form at the end of this post to email me. I offer a free online meet and greet.

Don’t forget there is still plenty of time to sign up for my August Healthy Kidney Class on Facebook. Go here. It is completely free, and I do at as volunteer service. I still have three spots open.


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Hip Flexibility, Balance and a 20 min indoor walk

First a couple of reminders. 1- Don’t forget about my virtual Kidney Health class. It is a Facebook event, and there are still 4 spots left. Click here to go to the event page and sign up. I am still offering a one month coaching plan for just 25 dollars for new clients. Don’t miss this opportunity. If you would like to ask me questions about these or any topics on this blog, you can email me at melissa@healthbuddymelissa,coach or use the contact form at the end of each post to message me.

Part of being physically fit is being flexible and having good balance. People always assume fitness is all about strength and weight loss. That is simply not true. People who lift heavy weights obviously are very strong. But, that doesn’t mean they would have good flexibility or balance. They may, but they may not. People who do aerobics to lose weight, may not have flexibility, strength or balance. Our bodies are a whole system and we should be treating it as such. With that said I am not one for spending hours doing exercise. That just makes me hungry, lol. By picking and choosing my workouts I can get the most bang for my efforts.

Two things that I do to build strength, rather than lifting weights, are three days a week I do 20 push ups and 20 full sit ups. The other two days I do a 30 second plank or longer if I can. I very rarely lift weights anymore.

I have the Fiton app, it is free. I really only use it for targeting certain body areas. I loathe lunges so I avoid workouts that require them. The image below is from the hip flexibility and balance program I did this morning. I actually could only do half as my hips were on fire. I will be using this one until I master it. Try Fiton in your app store. I think you will like it.

This time of year it is very hot in Florida. I do a lot of indoor walking. The video below is one of my favorites. She has simple steps, but you still sweat and move fast. Check it out.


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