An Interview with Health Coach and Gluten Specialist Lisa Vasile

I am very excited to share some insight and information about eating a gluten free diet and living a healthy life from Lisa Vasile, Health Coach and Nurse Practitioner with over 20 years experience. Lisa is the creator of 4Betterhealth, a business she started to validate her clients and empower them to overcome their frustrations of not feeling well and fears of a present health condition or family history might mean for them.

She has a passion for helping people find solutions when told “nothing is wrong with you” and offers tips and tricks for a truly healthy lifestyle, focusing on all aspects of a client’s life and how they can drastically decrease the potential for cancer, heart attacks, or loss of jobs due to being ill and having to take time off from work. Lisa graciously agreed to share insight to why people may want to trial or need to live gluten free, her own journey with Celiac Disease, how nutrition can impact life (for good or for bad) and includes some great resources for teaching children about Celiac Disease and Gluten Intolerance too!

-You are a Nurse Practioner and a health coach and creator of 4BetterHealth. Tell us about your typical day. Is it all ‘gluten free’ or do you work with other needs?

I work with clients who are searching 4 Better Health. As an allopathically trained RN/NP we are taught diagnose and manage symptoms… but even years ago I always wanted to know “But why?” “What causes it?” “Isn’t there a way to prevent or reverse this?” and that lead me to a more holistic approach – finding why – and the passion with health coaching to help others find the WHY and HOW.

More than half the clients come to me because they want to lose weight but after working with me for a while realize that their weight is a reflection of their health. In working with me, clients are able to decrease cholesterol, high blood pressure and over the counter pills. Many don’t know they have an intolerance and after a while we trial removing specific foods and they feel better than ever.

People don’t pay attention to their eating, stress and self medicating habits. Millions of people in America are taking over the counter medications for heartburn, diarrhea, bloating, constipation, headaches, insomnia, arthritis pain, anemia and allergies and my job is to show them that a headache is not the body telling you “I am running low on tylenol or anemia is a low iron supplement level…please refill me”. The body is trying to give a signal that something is out of whack and I have the honor of helping them figure out the CAUSE not just manage a symptom.

My clients range from 28 to 65. 

One client was referred to me because she was told by a gastroenterologist, gynecologist, allergist and PCP that nothing was wrong with her but she had daily abdominal pain, bloating and excessive fatigue.

Another wanted to lose weight and after 4 months has lost 15 pounds, reversed her prediabeties, cholesterol, insomnia and heartburn.

Another was putting her daughter on a gluten free diet for short term memory issues (after testing that “nothing was wrong with her”) and we did a pantry makeover and gluten free grocery shopping/label reading.

I have many clients who just want to know how to shop and overcome packaging label misconceptions that are interrupting their health goals.
I also teach wellness advantage seminars to community groups and work with the school’s Wellness Policy in the goal of making an impact on school lunches, vending machines and helping people learn how to make foods available for those with allergies.

-You have celiac disease. What was it like to finally have that diagnosis?

Well, honestly? My first thought was “No more beer?!!”  haha

Seriously, I was so validated after a lifetime of constipation, rectal bleeding, heartburn, headaches, horrible fatigue, and infertility. I am 5’8″ and graduated high school weighing 115 pounds. I was told my whole life I had “Irritable bowels”.

I went completely gluten free and within a week ALL OF MY SYMPTOMS were gone! That was soooo exciting to me. I can give blood now without the use of iron supplements! For anyone who has had a lifetime of constipation, heartburn and headaches; they will fully understand why even now – 5 years later I am so thankful. 

I am thankful I don’t have to take medications or over the counter medications such as iron or stool softeners which can cause other problems – all I have to do is eat alittle different!! =)

I have accidentally eaten gluten about 2 times a year (we call that “being glutened”- haha).  It is usually from cross contamination and my body will tell me loud and clear with heart racing, days of brain fog and unbearable GI symptoms.

-And this runs in families?

Celiac is an autoimmune and can only be triggered if a person has the gene for it. Many people have the gene, but the body must have something happen to decide to ‘fight’ (build antibodies) against itself when gluten (the protein found in wheat, rye, and barley) is introduced to the system. So, yes. Celiac is an allergy and is genetic therefore runs in families…. about 1:110 people have Celiac. Sadly 97% are undiagnosed.  That is a lot of people who could prevent more autoimmune, medications, cancers, diabetes, etc.

Since my diagnosis, my NP office has diagnosed over 20 people and 2 other staff live GF with reversal of symptoms.

One for Joint pain and swelling (see inflammation below) and one who takes 4 OTC medications for ulcers, heartburn, bloating, and constipation and has monthly B12 shots low B12 and nueropathy. She also had an endoscopy result of “appearance of celiac damage but negative for celiac” and her GI said “your tests were negative” with no push to trial a GF diet =(

HOWEVER, Very important is to remember that people can have a gluten INTOLERANCE without having an allergy, antibodies or endoscopic changes. (my coworkers)

Humans actually do not have the enzymes necessary to process & metabolize gluten (we are not cows). But, over the years our bodies have adapted to tolerate and break down the grains. Unfortunately, many people have intolerance exhibited by skin disorders, bloating, brain fog, ADD/ADHD, GI symptoms, migraines, low iron, B12, neuropathies, joint pain, infertility, osteoporosis, and once they take out gluten – their symptoms vanish.

-Whats the best way to start removing glutens from one’s diet?

Easiest and cheapest would be to shop the perimeter of the store. Fruits, veggies, meats, dairy (however, some people have so much damage they need to remove casein for a few months until their gut heals) and eggs.
Read all spices/condiments in the cabinet and fridge – the labels should have a disclaimer of the 5 major allergens: Milk, Soy, Nuts, Wheat and Fish…. this does not include barley or rye- so read the INGREDIENTS.

There are soooooooo many Gluten free (GF) options now in all grocery stores. Those tend to cost a bit more, so I encourage my clients to find what they like and order it on (using the free shipping membership).

Breakfast: egg, fruit, protein smoothie, GF oatmeal (oats are naturally GF but usually grown and processed on the same fields/machines as the other grains – so it is best to find a GF oatmeal), GF cereal

Snacks: nuts, fruit, hard boiled eggs, humus, nutbutter and celery or apples, yogurt and gluten free crackers or protein bars.

lunch: gluten free rollup/tortilla with sandwich meats stated to be GF, rice & beans, salads with chickpea/beans/tofu/meat (*ensure salad dressing is GF).

Dinner: any meat, veggies, rice, quinoa, potato, sweet potato, corn, GF pasta, bread, taco shells, etc.
-Have you ever encountered any naysayers? Sometimes people can be doubtful an issue with gluten or food allergies are real. What do you say to someone that thinks its “all in your head”?

OH YES! my inlaws. 1 of my daughters has celiac (allergy) but the other 2 have ADD (intolerance). It isn’t that they don’t love our kids… it is truly a matter of understanding why gluten is an enemy in our kids’ bodies. It is reminding them that if the body is intolerant it can cause other autoimmunes, allergies, menstrual problems, infertility, nueropathies and cancer.

Even our pediatrician was surprised I put them all on a GF diet saying “Good luck with that- it’s alot easier to give Ritalin for ADD”…. we left that doctor.

-What was the best advice you personally received when removing gluten from your diet?

Actually, I didn’t get any. One of the reasons I am so passionate about education and sharing what I have learned and encourage people to be EMPOWERED by the diagnosis! We get to control our fate with a fork instead of injections or pill bottles! =)

My sister was diagnosed about 2 months before me and was amazing. We had been working together to help her, so I learned a lot.

I got the opposite from my PCP, the Gastroenterologist and Nutritionist they sent me to.  I heard “Its really hard”. “Most everyone cheats”. “Its really expensive”

My advice to others; “Empower yourself!” Don’t let others tell you that you can’t do something. It really is NOT hard. It is a learning curve, there is planning and preparation but feeling better and helping your body to work better – and being proactive/preventing chronic illness is an amazing gift!

-What advice do you give to people just starting out?

One step at a time.

start with the shopping tips I gave.

Google is amazing.  If you are questioning if a food is GF simply type in your food item such as: “Paul Newman Ranch, Gluten Free” in google and you will almost always find your answer.

Write a list of foods you love and find a GF alternative

DONT over eat – many people gorge themselves with the GF foods because “they can have this”.

Write a list of ‘every day’ foods and find GF alternatives

Write a list of favorite meals and recipes and adapt using GF ingredients.

Read labels (*soy sauce/terryaki sauce often has wheat)

Have snacks with you in the car/when you go to friends houses… It isn’t their job to know how or be prepared to know what you can eat and sometimes a well meaning friend thinks they understand but uses a spice, cross contaminates accidently or serves hummus and tortilla chips and offers you this because they ‘saw the hummus package said gluten free’.

Your home is gluten free. How do you and your kids handle eating foods at special events like a child’s birthday party or an event at school?

We bring it and luckily my kids are old enough to say ‘I can’t have that’.

With toddlers who take what they want  – I would bring all their foods and stay with my child.

-How do you teach your children about gluten and celiac disease?

I talked to them at length and reeducated daily.

There are books online:,r:8,s:59&tx=82&ty=88,+gluten+free&um=1&hl=en&sa=N&qscrl=1&nord=1&rlz=1T4TSNP_enUS460US460&biw=1239&bih=558&tbm=isch&tbnid=HhZae-TGoMoBYM:&imgrefurl=,r:14,s:132

-What are your favorite go-to gluten free foods?


humus and nut thin crackers, mary’s gone crackers or veggies


apple and peanut butter

fruit or cut up veggies

tortilla chips with salsa or guac

meals – pretty much anything can be made GF

-Gluten has been in the news a lot lately- what do you think about people choosing this lifestyle because they think its the newest ‘fad diet’?

Well, there are a lot of ‘fad’ diets- one of my patients recently even told me they were doing the “17 day” diet???

A GF diet, however, is not a diet- especially not one that will expedite weight loss.

The only thing that may help jumpstart weight loss is the decrease in readily processed foods with wheat, rye and barley (crackers, bagels, muffins, cookies, cake, etc) and it is not possible to grab a bagel at Dunkin, scone at Starbucks or hamburg at Mc’D’s. Those should places and foods should be avoided anyway if someone wants to lose weight. 

I have seen some people eat a GF diet to decrease bloating before an event… to me if they are doing it to fit in a dress for a big event and it works; they are gluten intolerant and should keep eating that way.

if someone is gluten intolerant or celiac and they have to eat GF; GF foods are no less in calorie in fat- and many times (as stated before) people over eat because “I can eat this” or they start metabolizing and absorbing the foods which cause weight gain.

-Say its my birthday, and I can’t eat gluten, someone asks me ‘Can’t you ‘cheat’ just one time?

 NO! not with celiac. This is a recipe for more autoimmune (M.S., Thyroid, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Lupus, Psoriasis) and cancer.  It is imperative that a celiac be gluten free and their antibodies stay in ‘normal’ range. Perhaps with gluten intolerance – yet they will pay for it (similar to people who eat the buffalo wings or cheesecake even though they know they will have bloating and hearburn later).

-What do you tell clients first when they need to stop eating glutens? Do they ever resist with denial? What turns them around?

There is a saying that “Food and diet is more personal and harder to change than politics or religion combined”.  I would agree 1,000% with that statement.

It is something we learn from birth and all ‘celebrations’ revolve around food.

It is a hard change (which is why ‘diets’ don’t work).

It is a life style change and depending on culture, age and support from loved ones – it is a journey which requires motivation, persistance, trial & error and education.

Usually symptoms resolving (or backfiring) are validating to people and keeps them on track.

It is important for people to understand that one autoimmune increases the risk of others. Inflammation is caused by the body with autoimmune responses. Inflammation leads to many chronic illnesses such as cancer, heart disease, stroke, migraines, high blood pressure, dementia, infertility, etc.

-Do you recommend any special techniques to prevent cross- contamination at home? Or do you recommend the entire family eats gluten free?
This would be for a celiac?  Most people who are gluten intolerant don’t have symptoms if they have microscopic cross contamination… Celiacs would and do. This is a learning process.

Everyone in the family must be on board if they aren’t all GF.

My husband still has his gluten bread, cereal and pasta… everything else in the house is GF. When we were first learning he used a separate counter…. but now he is very careful never to put his food (uses a plate), never puts his forks, knifes, etc on the counter, keeps his bread on a counter in a plastic bag. If you have someone who is not GF – they can’t use the same spoon to stir their pasta and the GF pasta – nor can they use your pans.

 On that note – when someone in the house has to be GF, it is advised that the kitchen have a makeover…. steel pans only (no more telflon – especially if they had been used with gluten in the past), all plastic bowls, baking dishes, plastic spatulas, toasters need to be replaced.

Peanut butter, butter, jelly, etc which may have a knife going in and out of GF and gluten foods should be separated and labeled.

If there is someone who won’t be eating GF, the pans, utensils, etc they use should be labeled – or if only one person is GF, their things should be labeled. (unless someone is only using steel which the gluten will not stick to and can be placed in the dishwasher.)

-What about eating out?

Thankfully, most restaurants (not fast food) know about gluten these days. Some much better than others.

depending how sensitive someone is – I would suggest they not go out for the first month until they are more confident in the learning curve.

Salads with a grilled meat or fish or beans are usually fine dependent upon the seasonings on the protein and if the grill is cleaned before the GF meal is prepared.  Salad dressings are hard, too. If the restaurant has a CHEF who went to culinary school (not a cook who was trained to make dishes for that restaurant) they will understand GF cooking and be able to read labels on dressings or tell the waitress whether something is GF and/or can be prepared as such.

 Bottom line is to MAKE SURE the wait staff really understands that this is an ALLERGY and if they seem confused (like “oh yeah, that’s mikl?) ask for the manager or leave that restaurant.
Some well know restaurants that offer GF menus:

Legal Seafood, Bugaboo Creek, Outback steakhouse, Boston Beer Company, Olive garden, PF changs, 99, Longhorn’s, Uno’s, Bertucci’s

There are great resources for gluten free eating out:,

-What budget friendly ideas do you suggest for gluten free meals? Some specialty GF items can get expensive!
Yes it can be, however, premade GF foods are much more than if you make your own.

Order packaged foods online – I use Amazon. Market basket offers an array of GF foods for cheaper.

Keep in mind – most of the ingredients in the GF foods tend to be higher quality. It is refreshing to know that a Celiac is putting nutrients instead of foreign ingredients into their system which can lead to more inflammation and autoimmune.

As I say to my clients and patients “Pay now with higher quality food instead of foods loaded with chemicals; or pay later with medications loaded with chemicals and higher medical bills”.

– Even though I try to maintain a healthy diet, up until I made the switch to gluten-free, even my normal go- to foods like veggies and hummus, or clementines looked and tasted unappealing, and I was rarely truly ‘hungry’, despite watching calorie intake. Now they’re back to being delicious, my stomach is growling for every meal and I’m seriously thirsty. What gives? Is my body just ‘normalizing’?

This is a normal reaction when your body and gut are healing.

I usually suggest people take a probiotic to help them heal their guts as their bodies transition. Those are safe with pregnancy and nursing.

When I coach clients  – even those who are trying to lose weight – I never talk about calories.

I start with boosting their water with a MINIMUM of 7-8 a day.

I encourage adding fruits & veggies – especially greens (at least 7-8 a day), higher quality grains (Quinoa is a great GF grain loaded with nutrients and protein), and more beans. I have a bunch of yummy recipes on my website all of which can be adapted to GF diet.

This always helps with hunger due to the higher fiber, hunger, and healing.

I dont know about you, but I really enjoyed what Lisa has to say! You can learn more about the services Lisa offers at her website,


Holiday Wishlist

In the spirit of the holidays, I’m putting together my wishlist. I have a real list, mostly some easy things I really wish I was doing for myself since I became a mom of two. I also have an I-wish-this-was-real-List: the one I’ll fulfill myself once the Lottery Commission straightens themselves out and finally gives me my Jackpot (I’m patient but seriously, if I was running that place, I’d have won a long time ago. Really). I also have a list for Bella, since she’s four months old, I would be the one using the majority of things for her, so its really a natural extension of my list, right?

We’ll start with the Dream List, the stuff I’m not really asking for or going to get anytime soon, but it couldn’t hurt to at least write them down. Without further ado…
-a treadmill, elliptical trainer, spinning bike, or one of those treadclimber things. Or all of them. The baby weight’s gotta come off somehow and it is going to start snowing at some point. And don’t give me a gym membership unless you plan on watching the kids and getting Bella to take a bottle.
– I’m going to need a nice room for that equipment.
– Might as well make that a house, because the room would have to be attached to something. Nothing crazy, just something with a yard and not near loud, smelly neighbors. I’m all set with apartment living.
– A super nice, pillow top, king sized mattress, and boxspring,
– A nice computer, preferably a laptop, suited well for my digital photos. All my pictures are stored on their SD chips (compact but easy to lose). I’d love to be able to organize and edit them easier and even do little slideshows!
– Let’s throw in a nice digital SLR camera while we’re at it. Although my Blackberry takes okay-quality pictures…
– A bigger car. Silly me, Bella wasn’t on my radar when I traded the gas guzzling Yukon in for the cute little Impreza, which was ‘just enough’. Now we’re cramming all four of us into a car where Bella’s carseat base barely fits. Oops. We all make choices that end up not being the best I guess.
– Jax keeps asking if we can have a wedding. Like, he asks my grandmother if she’ll babysit him so his mommy and daddy can get married sometime, and then go on a honeymoon “someplace nice”. I’m all for us getting married, apparently our ability to plan really sucks! But by now its sort of a moot point, isn’t it? I’d feel awfully silly spending money like that for a dream wedding, especially since I’m wishing I could have a bigger car and a nice house. But then again, I do think every girl wants her dream day of being a princess, right? Right.
– While we’re on that subject, something sparkly wouldn’t hurt. Just no gold. I. Do. NOT. Like. Gold. (This ones next to impossible because I like to hold onto the money, and the money’s not going to me for something to wear on my hand. Nope.)

Okay. On to the REAL wishlist. This one’s far more realistic and what I’d really like. Since I fell into the ‘don’t do nice things for myself’ trap ages ago, and added two kiddos on top of that, I’m finding it super easy not to feel good about myself. SO, I’m making an early resolution for the new year of taking care of myself. From a parenting perspective, the kiddos DO always come first, BUT I need to be doing some things for me, to be a happy mommy/ wifey/ girlfriend. So here goes:
– some nice smelling perfume. Maybe a lotion, or something light. I can’t stand heavy scents but like something pretty.
– a great haircut. If I am trying to avoid the look of a frumpy lady with two little ones, my hair is NOT helping. Enough said.
– a REAL date night. We haven’t had a night out, just us, in maybe a year. Really!! And whoever offers to let us have a date night, it’d be awesome if you could miraculously get Bells to take a bottle. She’s not too interested in them at all, ugh.
– If the weather is at all cooperative, I would like to take a walk everyday. Especially cathartic would be to get time to take the dog out for a walk and to leave the baby at home, seeing as how strollers are tricky in the winter. Really, it’d be pretty awesome to get a nice walk outside everyday, with the baby or not. Lately I’ve really sucked about going on walks, and its not helping with my moods or that ever-stuck baby weight I keep wishing I’d drop.
– A 3 month subscription to Weight Watchers Online. You get the theme here, I’m sure.
– A nice workout outfit or two that will also be cold weather friendly. I have the jackets, but some new ‘activewear’ that’s slightly stylish would be cool.

That’s really it for me, so the rest is things for the little girl. If you don’t cloth diaper, you might not get what some things are, but trust me, they’re all good:
– a diaper sprayer. Really, just trust me on this.
– a gift certificate to Cotton Babies ( Their BumGenius are out in new colors I’d love to add to the stash (Mirror, Dazzle, Sassy, and Lovelace. Fun, right!?)
– Minky inserts (6 or 8 ) from Fuzzibunz ( They’re awesome!
– Cloth Diaper friendly rash cream, like from Earth Mama Angel Baby or California Baby (regular creams cause repelling issues which equals wet baby leak mess). She doesn’t really get rashes, but every once in a while she wakes up with some redness and some cream could be handy.
– A Baltic amber teething necklace from Inspired by Finn.
– A couple fun toys for her. I’ve tried hard not to over-accumulate for the little girl, Jax always had so much stuff we barely used. So just a couple.

All in all, not too crazy of a wishlist. We may as well throw in that I wish Jax wasn’t asking for blasters and army men, but he’s drawn to them like its nobody’s business. So, with the exception of legos, let’s all try to give him some gifts that are crafty and fun to do activities, over more plastic he’ll just add to the pile and lose interest in five minutes later, mmmmkay? Mmkay.

The Baby Weight

“THE BABY WEIGHT: aka Thank Goodness My Jeans Are Loose But Don’t Kick That Old Lady!”

The other night I tucked Bella into her sling and we went to the restaurant for ladies’ night- fun! Except among the ladies I saw one lady in particular, an older grandmotherly type who has trouble saying the right thing. The kind of lady you’ve known forever, part endearing and part Oh MY. We’ll call her M. Lately when I see M, the greeting I get has been “SO. How much weight have you lost?” I always respond once with a “What? I’m sorry?” As if I didn’t hear her (looking around for SOMEONE to save me), and M snarks again, “how much weight have you lost? Since the baby? Didnt your doctor weigh you at your last checkup?” No hello’s, no how are you’s, not even the ‘how’s the baby’ greeting you grow used to hearing as a hello with a new little one in tow.
Ugh. First, I should say its humiliating to even admit I feel so awful about the baby weight- why would I want to draw any more attention to the size of my ass, really? Its not a topic I like to address with others, I’m just too self conscious. I let it sit silently as I work it off. I would never be the girl standing in a dress asking ‘do I look fat in this?’. What if someone told me I really did look fat!! The horror. Its hard to face your body after having a baby, it took a long time for me to be friends with my post baby body after Jax. And this time around with Bella, I’m consciously working on letting myself take time and let it be. I’m not going to torture myself to lose it.
Yes, I’ll work on it, no one wants mush forever, but I’ll take advantage of breastfeeding’s edge, and I’ll plan on just working on adding more activity into my day. Maybe I’ll actually take the adage ‘9 months on, 9 months off’ to heart. Or, maybe I’ll lose patience, and decide marathon training is for me (not likely). The point is, its none of M’s business!
So, having said that, it leaves me feeling pretty crappy when I get asked this question by M. Why? What if she thinks I put too much on? I didn’t. What if I look like I havn’t lost enough? What is she fishing for? What on earth am I supposed to say? Why the —- does it matter to her anyways? Now the gloves are about to come off.
I take a deep breath and remind myself, ‘She’s old- if I kick her in the shins, other people might side with her’. Then I tell her I have no idea. I don’t have a scale. “You don’t have a scale!?” M snarks. No, no scale. Not anymore. “But your doctor would have weighed you at your checkup, what did HE say?” Well now M has picked a fight.
I tell her I don’t have an OB, we see a Midwife who is absolutely wonderful. And since that visit was 6 weeks ago, and lasted 10 minutes, it wouldn’t matter that they hadn’t tortured me by putting me up to standing on a scale. And I’ve told you, M, that I see a midwife. I told you several times. (Insert ‘Senile Bitch’ insult here) Besides, if M must know, my post partum visit went like this: how are you? Great!! Breastfeeding going well? Yup!! Great. Any questions? Nope! Okay, we’re all set then. (And then we got to the all important midwifey chit chat we all look forward to with midwives)
The long story short is, not many women enjoy their bodies postpartum. There are freaks of nature- sorry- some lucky women, that you could hardly tell they ever had a baby 6 weeks out. I’m not one of them. I can be quoted verbatim as “I never want to have another baby because I’m too scared of getting fat all over again!” Well, another one I’ve had. Thankfully part of the design plan is to provide for plenty of energy for breastfeeding- and its a perfect system to see your baby grow and be nurtured by your body.
Taking my time and being kind to myself is definitely a learning process. I can be patient about some things, but honestly, this one is hard. The good and the bad is that there’s little control over how our bodies grow our babies and the after effects. We can eat perfectly healthy to help them develop well, and we can breastfeed them as Nature intended, while sitting on Nature’s comfortably padded ass. If the only lesson I learn from all this is how to hold back from kicking old ladies in the shins, so be it. In the meantime, I’ll eat healthy, nurture my daughter, and maybe I’ll tone my kicking muscles up a bit.