Food Articles

Cronometer – Food Logging

i currently serve on the faculty at 3 universities (including Johns Hopkins University) so I respect data-driven recommendations. One of my best tools for gathering nutrition data is Cronometer, which states it is “the most accurate, comprehensive nutrition tracking app on earth” and I would agree. My nutrition clients are asked to track their food using Cronometer – I’d say this puts me squarely into the category of “tough love” practitioner. If you’d like to learn more, I invite you to view my Cronometer tutorial on YouTube:
I started BrainFood Nutrition because I’m passionate about helping others optimize their health using the power of nutrition. As faculty at Johns Hopkins University I’m fortunate to have access to the latest nutritional research, and my mission is to help you by sharing best practices, tips, and tricks I’ve learned through research and my own clinical experience.

Fermented superfoods shopping guide

My colleague Ryan Hetrick (Director of the soon-to-be released autism documentary Restoring Balance) recently posted a video shopping guide for probiotic superfoods.
Many of these fermented superfoods can be made cheaply at home. However if you’ve never consumed them before, you might want to try the store-bought versions first.
• Coconut water kefir – popularized in The Body Ecology Diet by Donna Gates
• Be cautious of Kombucha – contains yeast strains/alcohol that might not be a good fit for young children and/or those with candida issues
• Coconut Yogurt (such as Cocoyo)
Buy organic, unpasteurized, in glass bottles:
• Apple Cider Vinegar
• Coconut Vinegar
• Sauerkraut
At any rate, please remember to go low-and-slow when introducing new fermented foods. Start with a small taste, then gradually work your way up to larger portions.
Please remember that no matter your dreams or obstacles, you have the power to change your child’s life. I sincerely hope our resources can help you do just that.
Gates, D., & Schatz, L. (2011). The body ecology diet: Recovering your health and rebuilding your immunity. Atlanta, GA: B.E.D. Publications.

How Can I Get My Kids to Eat More Vegetables?

Many of my private coaching clients reveal to me that their children eat low-to-no vegetables. This concerns me because it sets the child up for numerous vitamin deficiencies. Furthermore, a low-fiber diet leads to constipation.
How much produce should my child be eating? 
According to the USDA (MyPlate, 2018) a 4-year-old child should be consuming 2 cups of vegetables, and 1.5 cups of fruit per day. A GAPS patient (who is not eating grains) might want to eat even a bit more veggies than that. I shot a quick 2 minute video to help you do just that!
Please remember that no matter your dreams or obstacles, you have the power to change your child’s life. I sincerely hope our resources can help you do just that.
United States Department of Agriculture, MyPlate. Available at

Folate (Vitamin B9)


Folate (Vitamin B9) is essential for numerous functions in the human body, and many autistic and ADHD children are low in this essential nutrient. I hope you find this video to be useful and informative.

If you’d like to have a hard copy, you may download Folate PowerPoint Slides (PDF).

Please remember that no matter your dreams or obstacles, you have the power to change your child’s life. I sincerely hope our resources can help you do just that.

Can I eat chocolate on the GAPS diet?


Although the SCD list disallows chocolate, here is a quote from Dr. Natasha’s FAQ page:

“When can cocoa be introduced?”

“Cocoa is SCD illegal. However, I find that many people can start having it occasionally on the Full GAPS Diet, once the digestive symptoms are gone. Find pure organic cocoa powder. Mixing the powder with some honey and [raw A2 milk, homemade] sour cream makes a delicious dessert, and you can add it to your [raw A2 milk] homemade ice cream or cakes. After trying it for the first time, observe your patient for any reactions. Cocoa is very rich in magnesium and some essential amino acids and, unless your digestive system is not ready for it, there is no need to avoid it.”

Author Baden Lashkov (The GAPS Guide) says this in her blog post Pure Cocoa – Tried and True? where she asks folks who are eating GAPS/SCD to comment if they can tolerate cocoa powder. Some can & some can’t. I’d say it’s OK to try if you don’t have any current digestive issues.

How Can I Avoid Glyphosate-Residues? Certification is here!

Tractor spraying Roundup
Tractor spraying Roundup on young crops.

Roundup is the trade-name for glyphosate, an herbicide used as a weed killer and as desiccant (drying agent) in grain harvesting. Many choose to avoid this chemical in their diets to avoid potential health risks and until now, the best one could do was to buy organic (which prohibits glyphosate from being sprayed directly on the crop).

glyphosate_free_sealBut what about glyphosate residue? This can happen from spray-drift, or pollination from bees, or animals consuming glyphosate-containing feed, or manure spread as fertilizer upon fields. I’m happy to say that glyphosate-free certification is now available from The Detox Project.

Heavenly-Organics-HoneyHeavenly Organics (purveyors of wild-sourced honey) is one of the first companies to acquire this certification. I have spoken personally with their staff and I’m impressed with their commitment to eco-friendly honey harvesting which brings income to remote farmers in India and preserves ancient forests. The farmers sustainably harvest from the hives after sunset (while the bees are calm) and therefore they don’t need to use smoke while harvesting. The glyphosate-free certification is one more reason to buy from this excellent company.

Avocado-Oil-Chosen-FoodsAnother company utilizing this new certification is Chosen Foods for its avocado oil products. I’m a big fan of avocado oil because of its high smoke point – it is stable up to 500°F. I now use olive oil only for salad dressing, and instead use avocado oil for high heat applications such as broiling, barbecuing, sautéing and stir-frying.

Please remember that no matter your dreams or obstacles, you have the power to change your child’s life. I sincerely hope our resources can help you do just that.

GMOs and Roundup are bad for your health

GMO corn
GMO corn

GMO (Genetically Modified Organisms) / GE (Genetically Engineered) foods are lab-created by altering the genetic code of a plant or animal. For example GMO corn contains Bt toxin. A recent study (Mesnage et al., 2012) showed that consuming Bt corn can cause gut permeability or “leaky gut”. When your gut becomes permeable everything that you eat leaks directly into your bloodstream, which can result in food allergies and food intolerances. Children are more prone to the dangerous effects of leaky gut and dysbiosis.

Tractor spraying Roundup
Tractor spraying Roundup on young crops

Roundup is the trade name of Monsanto’s glyphosate-containing herbicide. GMO crops are engineered to withstand Roundup spraying, which theoretically kills weeds but spares the crop. Unfortunately this means there are traces of Roundup in foods made from these crops. When humans consume Roundup it disrupts the microbiome in our guts (via the shikimate pathway), and disrupts other microbes in our bodies. Since the human body lives in partnership with microbes – to digest our food, make amino acids, and much more – this disruption of the human microbiome can damage our health. U.S. scientists Samsel & Seneff showed that glyphosate inhibits cytochrome P450 (CYP) enzymes which are necessary for crucial processes including the detoxification of xenobiotics [toxins], synthesizing amino acids [proteins], and to transport sulfate in the bloodstream.

What crops are GMO? In the U.S. more than 90% of all corn, soy, and cotton are GMO. Other approved food crops include canola, papaya, sugar beets, alfalfa, and summer squash.

GMO or Organic Farming
Choose Organic Farming

Since “You are what you eat” be sure to purchase organic produce in order to avoid GMOs and Roundup exposure. You will also want to purchase organic animal products, because “You are what your animal eats” too. (organic animal products are fed organic feed)

Here are additional resources if you’d like to learn more:
The Ultimate Guide to GMOs – free eBook
GMOs Revealed – 9-part Docuseries

Please remember that no matter your dreams or obstacles, you have the power to change your child’s life. I sincerely hope our resources can help you do just that.


Mesnage, R., Clair, E., Gress, S., Then, C., Székács, A., & Séralini, G. (2012). Cytotoxicity on human cells of Cry1Ab and Cry1Ac Bt insecticidal toxins alone or with a glyphosate-based herbicide. Journal Of Applied Toxicology, 33(7), 695-699.

Samsel, A., & Seneff, S. (2013). Glyphosate’s Suppression of Cytochrome P450 Enzymes and Amino Acid Biosynthesis by the Gut Microbiome: Pathways to Modern Diseases. Entropy, 15(4), 1416-1463.

Food & Behavior Research Study


On British TV show “The Food Hospital”, dietician Lucy Jones and physician Dr. Gio Miletto conducted this research study which showed how food affects behavior. Schoolchildren in Britain aged 5 – 9 attended a party and were split into two groups:
Group 1 was fed healthy options such as apple slices, carrot sticks, hummus, etc. and drank water.
Group 2 received the usual party fare: candy, potato chips, and soda, which contained sugar, artificial coloring, and other additives (food additives in European countries are assigned “E numbers” which are then printed on packaging).

The children’s ability to follow instructions, concentrate, and remember information was then measured as they played party games, and their mean/aggressive/hyper behaviors were carefully recorded. The healthy food group performed 48% better on the game tasks, and had SIGNIFICANTLY less mean/aggressive/hyper behaviors.

At the conclusion of the experiment, several parents were interviewed. The parents were surprised at the big difference in behavior that could be triggered by something as simple as “party food”. Unfortunately many children consume this type of food on a daily basis from their school cafeteria, unwittingly contributing to a worsening of their ADHD and aggressive behaviors. Perhaps we could all learn from this creative experiment and strive to feed our children nutrient-dense foods to ensure their success in and out of the classroom.


The Food Hospital. BBC (2011). 4.


Unrefined Sea Salt

celtic_sea_saltHigh quality sea salt is vital to health and well-being. I recently had the pleasure of meeting with Selina DeLangre, the owner of Celtic Sea Salt. We discussed the importance of using unprocessed, whole salt which leaves the naturally occurring, essential minerals intact. She assured me that absolutely no additives are added, nor anything removed from the salt that would alter it. Also Selina told me how she personally goes to each harvesting site around the world to inspect their harvesting and purity practices.

When I asked Selina her opinion on the differences between Himalayan Salt and Celtic Sea Salt, she pointed out that Himalayan salt is a mined product, whereas Celtic Sea Salt is a sustainable, living, harvested product.

salt_your_way_to_healthA great book to learn more about salt: Salt Your Way to Health by David Brownstein, M.D.

Got (raw) milk?

milkMany autistic/ADD children react poorly to milk products because of

  1. inability to digest lactose
  2. opiate effect of casein
  3. high rate of IgG allergy to dairy

However if you decide that your child’s gut has reached a sufficient point of healing and you’d like to give dairy a try, here is some food for thought:

Many nutrition experts do not recommend drinking pasteurized milk of any kind – ever. Once milk has been pasteurized it’s pretty much “dead,” and offers little in terms of real nutritional value to anyone. (Whether you show signs of intolerance to milk or not.)

Valuable enzymes are destroyed, vitamins (such as A, C, B6 and B12) are diminished, fragile milk proteins are radically transformed from health nurturing to unnatural amino acid configurations that can actually worsen your health. Finally the eradication of beneficial bacteria through the pasteurization process actually ends up promoting pathogens.

The healthy alternative to pasteurized milk is unpasteurized milk, also known as “raw milk”. It is an outstanding source of nutrients including beneficial bacteria such as lactobacillus acidophilus, vitamins and enzymes, and is one of the finest sources of calcium available.

However, many moms I’ve spoken to are “freaked out” about drinking unpasteurized milk, thinking it’s dirty or unsafe. I can personally attest that I’ve consumed exclusively raw milk products for over 6 years, with zero problems. HOWEVER, it is important to get your raw milk from a trusted source. Ask your friends for referrals, and go visit the farm. Is it clean? Are the cows fed exclusively grass, out in a big pasture? Or are they fed grain, confined to small pens or barns, and standing around in their own poop? After what I’ve learned about Big Ag, I wouldn’t dream of drinking pasteurized milk purchased “sight unseen” from the grocery store.

It is important to also note that different breeds of cows yield different milk. “A1” cows are “newer” breeds that experienced a mutation of a particular amino acid (histadine) some 5,000 years ago. Unfortunately, A1 cows include the black and white breeds like Holsteins (and Friesians) that are the most popular breeds in North America. A1 milk contains BCM7 – a powerful opiate that can have a detrimental impact on your body. Histidine only weakly holds on to BCM 7, so it is liberated in the GI tract of animals and humans who drink A1 cow milk.

“A2” cows are the older breeds that do not have this mutation. The amino acid proline in A2 milk has a strong bond to the opiate BCM7, which helps keep it from being released. The older cow breeds, such as Jersey, Guernsey, Asian and African are primarily A2. (However, take note that the milk from A2 cows has been tested and shown to still contain some liberated BCM7.) Goats and sheep also produce the healthier A2 type milk.

You will likely need to find a small local farmer to provide your family with a source of raw A2 milk. Where I live the Amish community is a great resource. You may also find info through or local Weston A. Price chapters Some families have so much difficulty in finding raw milk, they opt to keep their own goat (or Jersey cow) in their backyard.

On GAPS we are only allowed “milk” if it has been fermented into yogurt or kefir. The fermentation process consumes the lactose (milk sugar) which is problematic to GAPS patients. (We cannot cook with yogurt because this essentially pasteurizes it.)

Technically the SCD and GAPS both “allow” hard aged cheeses (because the lactose is consumed during the aging process). However I would advise against them unless they are made with raw milk, and therefore I do not cook with them.

Remember that yogurt, kefir, and hard cheeses made with raw milk still contain casein. If you child cannot tolerate casein, then these products won’t work for you.


The one exception to “don’t heat your dairy” is ghee (clarified butter). Since butter contains no lactose, and we remove the milk solids while making ghee, we are allowed to cook with ghee. It has a high smoking point, so ghee is a perfect oil to cook with.