Are You Listening to Your Body? By Hope Placher PA-C, MMS


Screenshot 2015-12-30 11.44.08Those of you who know me know that I like food. No. Really, I love food. I love talking about food, I love preparing food and I really love it when someone brings me food. Outside of the occasional endorphin rush I experience while eating, my joy can sometimes be short lived. I am someone who has taken the long road to fully comprehend that when I don’t feel well after I eat, it’s not an accident.  My body is sending an obvious distress signal from the information I just deposited. Have you ever thought of food that way – as information? The best communication network that was ever created is our body.  In my humble opinion, many of the physical complaints that patients share with me every day can be traced back to what they are (or potentially are not) putting in their body.

A few years ago, my thoughts about food were quite simple. I ate because I was hungry. What I ate would be driven by my goal to maintain or achieve a particular weight. That was it. My personal context of food was more of a control gauge of a superficial image.  One of my mentors, Deanna Minich PhD, likes to say that your relationship with food says something about your relationship with you. When I thought of my relationship with food in that light, I was pretty disgusted with myself.  How one-dimensional could I get? At that time in my life, I was unable to connect the dots that my physical complaints: fatigue, headaches, bloating and diarrhea were not an accident. They were SOS signals from my body that the food I was putting in was doing way more than fluctuating my waistline. It was causing damage to my body and I needed to wake up and make a change. So I did. I decided to embrace that food IS medicine. I did food sensitivity testing. I followed an elimination diet. I became mindful and aware of what I put in my body. I became grateful for the food I am blessed to eat. I listened. My body spoke. I healed.

I share with you this story about my journey with food in the hope that it may resonate with some of you. My prayer for you in this New Year is that you grow in awareness and mindfulness of the beautiful gift that is your body. I could not be more excited to care for you in 2016!

To Your Health,

Hope Placher PA-C, MMS

Less is More-Embracing Minimalism By Dr. Michele Couri, MD, FACOG, ABIHM

Screenshot 2015-12-29 14.29.54Happy New Year to all our cherished patients and friends.  The promise of a new year brings a sense of renewal and offers a chance to finally make some resolutions that may actually provide sustainable change.  One area that I always vow to improve upon is one of personal organization. This is the year that I will succeed.   I recently read a couple of articles that spurred my interest.  The articles addressed the high cost of holding on to clutter and offered suggestions on how to become a minimalist.

I think that it is undisputable that we as Americans are obsessed with consumerism — to the point of it being pathologic.  The end result of our love affair with shopping and excessive buying is the dilemma of where to store all of our treasures once we bring them home.  Over time, our closets and cabinets start bursting at the seams, and then we resort to Rubbermaid containers.  These incredibly handy tubs allow us to continue to acquire goods to a point.  But then the inevitable happens.  We then run out of room to keep all our tubs at home.  So what do we do?  We rent storage units.  Just think how much money we spend on the mere storage of all of our “stuff”.  Thousands of dollars over a lifetime may be spent to house our personal belongings that we may not have even used or seen in over a decade.  Not to mention how much time we spend either shuffling all of our stuff or looking for it once it is packed away.  It is maddening.  1 in 11 American households rent a self-storage space and spend over $1,000 a year in rent.  If you rent a storage facility to store your excess belongings, you’re contributing to a $154 billion industry. The United States has upward of 50,000 storage facilities, more than five times the number of Starbucks.  (In 2013, Starbucks had 7,049 company-operated stores in the U.S.)   If you choose to store all your items at home, it costs an average of $10/square foot — that is approximately $20,000 for a 2,000 square foot home.

I cannot tell you how much time I have wasted looking for lost items because I had “packed them away” in storage only to completely frustrate myself because I never did find them when I really needed them.  So what have I done?  I have resorted to buying duplicates of what I was looking for originally.  How wasteful indeed.  The National Association of Professional Organizers reports we spend one year of our lives looking for lost items. Over the course of our lifetime, we will spend a total of 3,680 hours or 153 days searching for misplaced items.  The research found we lose up to nine items every day, with phones, keys, sunglasses and paperwork topping the list.   If we only buy what we truly need and not over-consume, we avoid this pitfall of having so much stuff that we no longer can manage it sensibly.  And, let’s not forget how much more housework is needed to manage, clean and organize all of our “stuff”.    According to the National Soap and Detergent Association, getting rid of clutter would eliminate 40 percent of housework in the average home.  So many of us store all our items in our garage at the expense of us not being able to park our cars within.  The U.S. Department of Energy reports that one-quarter of people with two-car garages have so much stuff stored in there that they can’t park a car.  Just think about our parents and grandparents who survived just fine with a single car garage.  Overall, they were not the generation that gorged themselves on excess consumption of material goods.  According to NPR, the average size of the American home has nearly tripled in size over the past 50 years.

What is behind the practice of unnecessary accumulation of goods?  Why do we feel this “need” to surround ourselves with excess material possessions?  Unfortunately, I truly believe that we rarely are content in life with what we have.  The art of being content is quite profound.  Being content is being happy with what one has and being completely fulfilled on the inside so that no void ever has to be filled with outside possessions.  Finding joy in and being sustained by a minimal amount of material possessions is rare these days.  I challenge you to adopt this new philosophy of minimalism in this New Year.

There are many books available to help us with organization and decluttering.   One book in particular is on my list of must-reads for 2016.  It is The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing by Marie Kondo.  This book was recommended to me by a colleague, and it looks like it may be life altering.  Kondo challenges you to ask yourself whether each object you have is achieving a purpose.  It is propelling you forward or holding you in the past?  Another great resource for teaching minimalistic philosophies is writer Joshua Becker, author of Simplify and Clutterfree with Kids.  His website is quite enlightening and is a great place to start for helpful hints on adopting this way of life.

According to Becker, we live in a society that breeds discontent by defining success as bigger homes, nicer cars and fuller closets.  Gratitude is the cure.  I would like to leave you with a challenge — in 2016, I encourage you to stop trying to impress others with all the objects that you own.  Rather, work very hard at inspiring others by the life that you lead.  I hope that your new year is filled with lots of love, laughter, and a very content heart.

To Your Health,

Dr. Couri



A New Year…A New You By Terry Polanin, MSN, APN

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And now let us welcome the New Year Full of things that have never been.” -Rainer Maria Rilke

As we begin the New Year, I am reminded of a book that I came across a few years ago when our three children were young, active, and we were busy! As I reflect on those wonderful years, I remember when I felt there were not enough hours in the day to get everything accomplished that I felt compelled to do—for my family, friends, church, schools, work, and clubs that we were happily involved with. I want to share some excerpts from the book, Simple Abundance: A Daybook of Comfort and Joy, by Sarah Breathnach, which helped me to put it all into perspective. The “busy life” many lead in the 21st century can be “all good”, but we must not forget to take care of ourselves. January is a time to reflect and re-gain “balance” in our lives. Time to find our “authentic selves” as Simple Abundance encourages.

“There are years that ask questions and years that answer.” -Zora Neale Hurston

As Sarah Breathnach so beautifully expresses: “New Year’s Day. A fresh start! A new chapter in life waiting to be written and new questions to be asked, embraced and loved. Take some quiet time for yourself to sit and reflect, to dream, to plan, and to believe in yourself. Take time to question and to begin to allow yourself time to find the answers to a more fulfilling life, caring for others, but also for your true self”.

“Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves. Do not seek the answers which cannot be given to you because you would not be able to live them and the point is to live everything. Live the questions now…” -German poet, Rainer Maria Rilke.

Simple Abundance provides a daily reflection and guide to growing yourself in the New, which will allow you to be the best you can be for those you care about. Sarah Breathnach has also authored a more recent book entitled, Moving On, which is also another helpful guide for anyone wanting to “reinvent” her life and the space where she lives. It’s about creating a “House of Belonging” and re-imagining the concept of home and our place in it for contentment and joy.

I would also like to encourage you, as you grow emotionally, to not forget the importance of healthy eating and daily physical activity. It will be very difficult to achieve peace and contentment if you do not embrace a healthier, more active lifestyle. If you need assistance with this, please contact our office. We have several new programs for Total Lifestyle by Couri (TLC™) and weight management programs, coordinated by our dietician/personal trainer Leslie Rusch-Bayer. It is often helpful to have support and guidance in your journey to a new you! Please enjoy the excerpts below by Simple Abundance: A Daybook of Comfort and Joy.

Cultivate gratitude.

Carve out an hour or even a minute for solitude.

Begin and end the day with prayer, meditation, or reflection.

Keep it simple.

Keep your home picked up.

Don’t overschedule.

Strive for realistic deadlines.

Never make a promise you can’t keep.

Allow an extra half hour for everything you do.

Create quiet surroundings at home and at work.

Go to bed at nine o’clock twice a week.

Always carry something interesting to read.

Breathe…deeply and often.

Move—walk, dance, run, and find a sport you enjoy.

Drink pure spring water…lots of it.

Eat only when hungry.

BE instead of DO.

Set aside one day a week for rest and renewal.

Laugh more often.

Luxuriate in your senses.

Always opt for comfort.

If you don’t love it, live without it.

Let Mother Nature nurture.

Don’t answer the phone during dinner. And, turn off the TV.

Stop trying to please everybody.

Start pleasing yourself.

Stay away from negative people.

Don’t squander precious resources: time, creative energy, and emotion.

Nurture friendships.

Don’t be afraid of your passion.

Approach problems as challenges.

Honor your aspirations.

Savor beauty.

Create boundaries.

For every “yes,” let there be a “no.”

Don’t worry…be happy. Remember that happiness is a living emotion.

Care for your soul.

Cherish your dreams.

Express love every single day.

Search for your authentic self until you find her.

We, at the Couri Center, wish you a very happy, healthy, fulfilling 2016,

Terry Polanin, MSN, APN

Family Nurse Practitioner






The Confusion on Caffeine By Leslie Rusch-Bayer, RD, LDN, CPT

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Are you one of those people who are not allowed to talk to anyone until you have had your morning cup of coffee? Are you considered a regular at the local Starbucks? Do you carry around exactly the correct amount of change for that emergency purchase of a Poplar Pop at the gas station? Do friends and family give you cases of your favorite pop for holidays and birthdays? You know who you are. You require caffeine daily, and sometimes in large amounts.

Caffeine has been a nutritional conundrum for a handful of years now. In the last ten years, caffeine has become a trendy product. It has been used to conquer lack of sleep, poor attention, headaches and believe or not, hangovers. This stimulant started its recent rise to the top with “energy drinks.” In 1997 Red Bull was the first energy drink to hit the market. Currently, most energy drinks choose to market their products as “dietary supplements.” The Food and Drug Administration does not review dietary supplements.

Interestingly enough, most energy drinks contain less caffeine that found in coffeehouse coffee. See table below.

Product Mg Caffeine Oz
Coke 34.5 mg 12 oz.
Mountain Dew 54 mg 12 oz.
Red Bull 80 mg 8.3 oz.
Monster/Rockstar 160 mg 16 oz.
Brewed Coffee 200 mg 12 oz.
Coffeehouse Coffee 320 mg 12 oz.
Wired X505 505 mg 24 oz.


Caffeine abuse has become a worry with many adolescents and children. Unfortunately, when caffeine is added to a product, it is unclear as to how the caffeine is going to react with not only the person, but also the other ingredients included in the product. Many energy drinks include B vitamins and taurine. When too much caffeine is consumed nausea, vomiting, high blood pressure, tremors or dizziness can occur. Many resources have asked that warning labels should be placed on such products. With the overall popularity behind energy drinks, you can imagine major food companies were ready to jump on the next caffeinated trend: caffeinated food.

Arma Energy Snx offers caffeinated potato chips that provide 70 mg of caffeine. Wired Waffles were a hit on the television show Shark Tank. Their waffles contained more caffeine than three Café Mochas. Interestingly enough, they cannot be purchased online anymore. Choco Mallows are caffeinated marshmallows that offer 100 mg of caffeine per piece. Wyatt’s Wired Maple syrup contains 84 mg caffeine per tablespoon. They even recommend drinking it right out of the container. Steem peanut butter is the newest addition to the caffeinated food family. Two tablespoons of peanut butter contain 170 mg of caffeine. On a single day in October this year, they had over 450 orders. The Steem Company does include a warning on their label…to animals. It reads, “DO NOT GIVE TO ANIMALS. EVER. Fun fact: a lot of domestic animals, like dogs and cats and birds, cannot digest caffeine properly and it can lead to SERIOUS health issues. We know that your dog loves peanut butter and we know you think it’d be hilarious to get him all jacked up and crazy, BUT DON’T. SERIOUSLY. IT WOULD NOT BE HILARIOUS. STEEM = PEOPLE FOOD.”

Making the matter even more confusing, all of these products include the words “All Natural” on their front label. The Food and Drug Administration have asked food producers to go easy when lacing their products with caffeine. As of now, there is no hard evidence to allow the FDA to cease production of these products. However, they are certainly watching with concerned eyes. Just recently, the PepsiCo has been interested in the caffeinated food market. When it comes to caffeine and processed caffeinated drinks and food, because of the unknown, please be cautious.

Instead of relying heavily on caffeinated beverages and foods, try incorporating a healthier lifestyle that includes 7-8 hours of sleep each night, proper stress management, a diet rich in nutrients and at least 30 minutes of moderate intensity most days of the week. If you feel as though caffeine is a must, try to stick with foods and beverages that contain caffeine naturally such as a green and black tea as well as chocolate.

Immune Boosting Spicy Coconut Tea Tonic

Screenshot 2015-12-29 11.34.21Ingredients:

1/2 cup full fat coconut milk

1/2 cup filtered water

1/4 teaspoon turmeric

1/4 teaspoon ground clove

1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

1/4 teaspoon vanilla

Dash cayenne

1 Rooibos teabag of choice

Optional Secret ingredient: One drop pure cinnamon essential oil

1 cinnamon stick, for serving


In a small saucepan, bring all ingredients (except cinnamon essential oil, if using) to a slow simmer. Let simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in cinnamon essential oil. Strain, if desired, or pour straight into a teacup to sip and enjoy.

Why it works:

This drink “is a robust combination of immunity boosting powerhouse ingredients that will help soothe inflammation and digestive discomfort. In addition, it will provide anti-bacterial, anti-microbial and anti-oxidant protection. It’s perfect to rev up your body’s natural fighting power. Plus, it’s absolutely delicious,” says holistic health coach, certified natural foods chef and founder of A Nourished Life, Shelley Hillesheim.