Recent Lecture: Taking Control of Mood Disorders with Nutrition

I recently gave an invited guest lecture for Orthomolecular Health about the use of nutrition in the treatment of mood disorders. The one hour talk explored the science and research surrounding the relationship between what we eat and how we feel.

A recording of the talk is available here if you'd like to check it out: resources/taking-control-of-mood-disorders/

If you know someone affected by a mental health concern, pass along the link to them as well.

**Note: the Orthomolecular Health Website is currently undegoing updates and this presentation is temporarily unavailable.  I will update the link as soon as it's available again.  Apologies for any inconvenience!

Back to the Sidewalk

It’s the time of year when most people’s New Year’s resolutions are a distant memory.  But that’s actually totally fine! Because the great things about health resolutions is that you can come back to them time and time again – in fact this may actually help you to succeed in the long run. 

When I’m working with patients to develop a meditation practice, a common concern that I hear is that people get very frustrated or angry when their mind wanders.  I encourage them to keep an analogy in mind.  Have you ever seen a brand new puppy go on its first walk? The owner will clip on the leash, set it down on the side walk and expect the puppy to move in a forward direction.  But what does it do? Wanders one way to smell a fire hydrant, wander the other way after a squirrel.  And what does the owner do? Yell at the puppy? Tell the puppy it’s dumb, or bad at walking? No, because the puppy is just starting the process of learning to walk on a leash and it’s in the puppy’s nature to wander.  So we gently guide it back to the sidewalk and encourage it to try again.  We are patients and gentle. 

I encourage people to use the same gentleness with themselves when starting a medication practice.  It’s in the mind’s nature to wander and it is inevitable.  It doesn’t mean the person is bad at meditation.  They just need to return the focus to the breath each time they notice that the mind has wandered. 

And this can apply to any aspect of health too.  Many of us have been excited to start a new diet strategy, workout routine, supplement or change in our lifestyle but simply fall off the wagon.  And that’s ok, it happens! What’s important is that we are gentle with ourselves and encourage ourselves to try again.  I was recently watching a documentary on addiction and a man who is now a successful recovery coach to other addicts mentioned that he went to rehab 26 times before he was able to stay sober! That’s a lot of times! But the great news is that he didn’t give up, even after the 25th time. He kept trying.

Sticking with resolutions and health strategies is hard.  But we don’t have to be hard on ourselves if we don’t make the change right away.  Just come back to the sidewalk as many times as you need to.

5 Awesome Lessons from Bear

Bear, Bernese Mountain Dog, Berner

As some of you may know, this summer I got a puppy and named him Bear.  He’s got a huge heart so my original goal was to train him to work as a therapy dog.  While I had all sort of great intentions of what I would teach him, it turned out that he taught me (or reminded me!) of quite a few really important things about health and wellbeing. 

  1. We feel better when we move around outdoors.  Have you ever seen a dog that’s been stuck in doors in one spot all day? They’re not very happy! Often irritable, cranky, agitated or unhappy.  I think this applies to humans too! None of us are at our best when stuck inside at a desk all day or on our couch all evening.  Having a pup forces me to walk several times per day and I have to say that I feel better because of it!
  2. Experience their emotions in the moment.  Dogs don’t seem to have very long memories.  If you step on their tail or give them the best treat ever they show an emotional response but about 10 minutes later, it passes.  Dogs don’t hold a grudge or ruminate or live in memory of the past.  They experience an emotion, it passes and then they are present for whatever happens next. 
  3. Physical contact. Dogs crave contact from their human companions.  This might be a pat on the head a back scratch or just sitting at our feet.  Humans need physical contact too.  It releases oxytocin which makes us feel good, there’s a ton of research on this topic! Today make an effort to shake someone’s hand or give them a hug. 
  4. Be with the people you are with.  With all of our modern technology it’s easy to be in the same room as someone but not really BE with them because we are totally engaged with our phones, tablets or laptops.  Luckily this summer and fall I’ve had a reminder of that.  When I’m at home with Bear and ignoring him for technology, he reminds me with a whimper or a nudge. 
  5. Play.  Lastly, Bear is happiest when he’s being silly, running around or battling in tug of war.  Adults need to play too sometimes: dance like no one is watching, make a mess, let the inner child out.  It’s good for our stress levels and allows us to relax from the pressure of being serious all the time. 

Bonus: I’m borrowing this one from an incredibly moving short film about a dog named Denali.  (Click here to check it out).  "People can learn a lot from dogs. When someone you love walks through the door (even if it happens 5 times a day) you should go totally insane with joy."

Animals have a lot of wisdom to share with us if we pay attention.  Whether it’s engaging with your own pet, visiting a pet you know, visiting a park or zoo see if you can spend some time with animals.  Or just reflect on which of these simple lessons you could take away.

Upcoming Presentation: Taking Control of Mood Disorders with Nutrition

I'm excited to announce that I will be the keynote speaker at an upcoming event hosted by the Canadian Society for Orthomolecular Medicine. I will be presenting a lecture called Taking Control of Mood Disorders with Nutrition. Attendees will learn about the cases of depression as well as diet, supplement and lifestyle approaches to improving mental health. I will share a wealth of research studies that support these approaches and help you to understand why they work. If you, or someone you know is affected by depression, I'd love for you to join us for an evening of education.

Event Details: Thursday November 26th, 7:00-8:30pm

Location: University of Toronto FitzGerald Building, Room 103 150 College Street, Toronto

Click here to register or share this post with a friend.

For more information:, email:, or call 416 733 2117

Make Stress Your Friend

Sounds crazy right? You’ve probably heard that stress makes you sick! And that our goal is to get rid of it! I recently watched an interesting TED talk that demonstrated why stress is actually beneficial; however, it depends how we think about the stress.

The body’s stress response is actually preparing us to responds to challenging situation – the elevated heart rate sends blood to your muscles for physical action and the release of hormones encourages you to seek out support from others and support those around you. Interestingly, studies show that people who do not perceive stress as harmful are not effected by the negative health consequences of the stress! So the goal may not actually be to get rid of stress but rather to see it differently.

Mindfulness is one tool that helps us to see stress in a different way. It allows us to be with the stress in a gentler, more accepting way rather than trying to fight against or get rid of the stress (which can sometimes add to our suffering!). We can learn mindfulness through meditation practices and other exercises. To get started working with mindfulness consider joining the upcoming class (click here for details!) or speaking to Dr. Monique about resources and books to get started. Also, check out the full TED talk video by clicking here. Or a great TED talk on Mindfulness

Image courtesy of stockimages at


A quick note to say "Thank you" to those of you who contacted your MPP or signed the petition in support of Naturopathic Doctors in Ontario! I really appreciated your support. The exciting update is that NDs have moved under the Regulated Health Professional Act - the same piece of legislature that governs 25 health professions including Medical Doctors in Ontario, bringing collaborative, integrative care one step closer.

Photo credit:

Recipe of the Month: Home-made Popsicles!

It's hot out there! You want to cool down and enjoy a delicious treat. Rather than reaching for the ice cream or store-bought popsicles (that are just made of sugar, water and artificial colouring), try making your own! It's easy and fun. Kids love making them too.

Here are some great recipe ideas but use your own creative juices too. Try including fruit for anti-oxidants and fiber, protein powder or Greek yogurt for protein or coconut water for electrolytes.  Fruit can be pureed or left whole or added as 100% fruit juice.  For a creamy consistency without dairy try coconut milk. If you feeling brave you could also sneek in some pureed veggies like beets, carrots or greens for added colour and vitamin content. 

Have fun and enjoy!


The Most POPULAR Salad

Have you heard someone raving about the superfood salad you can get in a bag at the grocery store?  Every time I hear some start with “there’s this amazing salad I bought…” I know exactly what they talking about! The good news is that it’s actually PHENOMENALLY nutritious! But on the other hand it’s kind of pricey and who knows how long it’s been in the bag for.  I tried the real one a couple of times and have since experimented with making my own.  Here’s my take on it:

Salad Ingredients

2 cups of shredded raw Brussel sprouts

1 cup of shredded green cabbage

1 cup of julienned broccoli stems

2 cups of thinly sliced kale

3 green onions, finely sliced

½ cup pumpkin seeds, preferably toasted

½ cup dried cranberries

Your favourite vinaigrette salad dressing


Chop all vegetables as described.  The Brussel Sprouts, broccoli stems and cabbage can be chopped quickly using a mandolin (click here for more info) or by hand.  To slice the kale very thinly, stack several leaves, roll them tightly and slice with a sharp knife.  Add toppings.  Add dressing (the bag version uses a creamy poppy seed dressing, I used Paul Newman’s Oil and Vinegar but you can certainly make your own or use your favorite bottled version).  I recommend adding the dressing about 1 hour before eating to soften the kale. Enjoy!


Butter chicken (without the butter!)

I love Indian food but it doesn’t always agree with me.  This version of the classic dish Butter Chicken is lighter but has all the flavour and beneficial herbs and spices of the authentic dish.  And compared to the canned versions available, it’ free of preservatives and additives.  Very warming for a cold winter day!


  • 2 tbsp grapeseed oil
  • 2 large onions, chopped
  • 2 tbsp finely chopped garlic
  • 2 tbsp finely chopped ginger
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 tbsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tbsp garam masala
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 lb boneless chicken breast, cubed
  • 1 cup of milk or milk-alternative (I use plain almond milk)


On high heat add oil and onions and saute until golden brown.  Add garlic and ginger, reduce heat to medium and cook 2 minutes.  Add tomato paste and cumin seeds and cook 30 seconds. 

Reduce heat to low and add garam masala, brown sugar, turmeric and salt and cook for 2 minutes.  Add chicken and cook 5 to 7 minutes.  Add milk and cook until chicken is fully done, about 5 minutes. 

Serve with brown rice and a variety of vegetables. 

Modified from “Bal’s No-Butter Chicken Recipe” in her fantastic cookbook “Everyday Indian”

Making Veggies Exciting!

Have a hard time getting in your vegetables?

We all know the health benefits of eating vegetables.  Massive studies have shown incredible results such as a 44% reduction in cancer and 38% reduction in strokes when comparing 5+ veggie and fruit servings to 1 serving. But sometime steamed carrots and green beans can be boring or plain – I hear you!

The good news is that they don’t have to be! There are tons of ways to make vegetables interesting and great tasting. 

  1. Change the way you shape them

For Christmas this year I got a fantastic kitchen gadget that I LOVE! It’s called a spiralizer and it turns round vegetables into curly ribbons.  The above photo includes an exciting salad topped with spiral beets and cucumbers as well as some zucchini pasta that has a fraction of the carbohydrates of regular spaghetti.  This tool also works with carrots, kohl rabi and sweet potato.

  1. Add interesting textures

I often recommend a fabulous cook book written by local ND Carol Morley: Delicious Detox.  My favourite recipe is the Crunchy Broccoli.  Preheat the oven to 500o and soak 1 head of broccoli florets in water for 5 minutes.  Drain and add 2 Tbsp ground flax seeds, 2 Tbsp sesame seeds, 3 Tbsp olive oil and salt and pepper to taste.  Mix thoroughly, spread on a baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes.  Enjoy!    

  1. Add interesting flavours

The world of herbs and spices has no bounds.  And the great news is that herb and spices have a MULTITUDE of nutritional benefits – from fighting inflammation and cancer to boosting immune function.  Experiment with turmeric, garlic, ginger, cumin, coriander, basil, thyme, rosemary and more! Check out the bulk barn for inspiration.

  1. Make combinations

Many people eating a healthy diet come to dread salads as something boring.  But there are so many possibilities! Start with some leafy greens – if iceberg or romaine are feeling old, try the bright flavours of arugula or water cress; for more texture thinly slice kale or swiss chard (just make sure to add the dressing early to allow harder leaves to soften).   Add a variety of colour with beets, carrots, red cabbage, onions, cucumbers.  And if you don’t have a spiralizer, try grating the hard vegetables or using a potato peeler to make carrot ribbons.  And top it off with something fun – some dried fruit (like cranberries or gogi berries), nuts and seeds and a delicious dressing.

Veggies are the powerhouses of the world of nutrition and with a few simple strategies you can make them fun and exciting parts of every meal.