Your computer locks up…your smart phone freezes. What do you do? Simply reboot. You do not waste time agonizing over why this happened, you just reboot your device and keep going. So why waste time beating yourself up when you eat something that is not plant perfect? Does one bite of unhealthy food send you down the path of a week-long binge? STOP! REBOOT!

To get yourself moving forward again if you’ve gotten stuck along the way – all you need to do is increase the amount of vegetables, whole grains, beans and starchy vegetables you are eating. Start where you are, and increase the amounts of whole plant foods on your plate. The priority should be enjoying what you eat and increasing your consumption of whole plant foods while crowding out everything else.

With every bite you take you are moving yourself closer toward health or disease. Do not hesitate to make that next bite something that brings you closer to optimum health!

Plant Strong Spring Cleaning

Plant Strong Spring Cleaning

· What is something the body needs but never actually digests or absorbs?

         * What are 97% of Americans not getting enough of in their diets?

         * What has been referred to as the “garbage man” of the digestive system?


Fiber! Fiber! Fiber!

Fiber is the mostly indigestible material in food that stimulates the intestine to peristalsis. It is also referred to as bulk or roughage. The average person eating the Standard American Diet (SAD) of mostly processed foods is not able to meet even the minimal recommended amount of fiber.

The colon, or large intestine, is one of the body’s major organs of waste removal (in addition to the lungs, skin, kidneys and liver). Toxins, cholesterol, medications, and excess hormones which have been removed from your blood by your liver make their way to the intestines. These potential poisons are soaked up by fiber which escorts them from the body. Fiber essentially is the “garbage man” who removes the trash from your body.

What happens to these waste products if you are not eating enough fiber? In the absence of sufficient fiber many of these noxious substances are reabsorbed into the bloodstream.

In order to maintain good health, you need two types of fiber – soluble and insoluble.

· Soluble fiber dissolves in water and serves to slow digestion while lowering blood glucose and cholesterol levels. Foods rich in soluble fiber include citrus and other fruits, vegetables like carrots and peas, beans and grains such as oats.

· Insoluble fiber is not digested like other foods and that’s why it’s responsible for moving things through your system and therefore good for people who suffer from constipation. All plants, especially vegetables, wheat, wheat bran, rye, and brown rice are full of insoluble fiber.


Getting plenty of fiber in your diet also helps you control your weight, lower cholesterol, promote healthy blood sugar levels, and reduces the risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease and certain types of cancer.

Getting the minimum amount of daily dietary fiber, 40 grams, is quite simple. Remember whole plant foods are the only natural source of fiber. Animal foods contain no fiber. By avoiding processed foods and sticking to whole food, plant-based eating you will easily meet your fiber needs.

Never Leave Home Without it!

“Never leave Home Without It!” This slogan, used by a major credit card company, carries a significant message of insurance and protection. Let’s utilize this phrase as a mantra for plant-based living. Before becoming plant-based I never thought about packing extra food when I left the house. I could always stop at one of the many fast food restaurants or party stores and quell my hunger pangs. Now, I realize that those places do not sell real food. They sell “food like substances” that I do not consider as fuel for my now healthy body.

So what to do? I never leave home without my Plant Energy Pack (PEP). The contents of my PEP may vary from day to day. A good rule of thumb is to always pack more than you need. I once left home at 6:45 a.m. for a day of teaching and received a call to work as a dental hygienist immediately following my school day. My original 8-hour day turned into a 15-hour day, and I was thrilled to be able to keep my energy levels up with healthy plant-based food.

These are a few items that I consider necessities for my PEP.

* 12 – 16 oz. thermos for hot or cold drinks.

* 16 – 20 oz. soup thermos. This is not only for soup but casseroles, baked potatoes, etc.

* Small cooler with a freezer pack

Here is an example of what I have with me on an average day.

* Thermos of herbal tea

* Bottle of water

* Thermos of coffee

* Thermos of soup

* An assortment of carrot and celery sticks, hummus, grapes, apple, banana

* 1 oz. of walnuts

Remember that I do not have to eat all of this, but you can never go wrong by being prepared. Never leave home without it!

Flaxseeds: Nature's Tiny Powerhouses

Flaxseeds are an essential component of a daily meal plan designed for optimum health. Rich in omega 3 essential fatty acid (alpha linoleic acid) and lignans they have been shown in numerous studies to aid in the prevention and reversal of chronic diseases including breast cancer, prostate cancer, type 2 diabetes and hypertension.

Brown and golden flaxseed provide the same nutritional values. In order to absorb all of their beneficial nutrients whole flax seeds must be ground into meal. It is better to buy whole seeds and grind them at home versus buying it from the store. Once ground into flax meal their natural oils begin oxidizing. To slow this breakdown you may store the meal in the refrigerator or freezer.

Whole seeds retain their nutritional value for up to a year when stored in an airtight container at room temperature. I prefer to grind the seeds fresh daily. This can be done quickly and easily in an inexpensive coffee grinder.

Aim for 1-2 tablespoons of ground flax seed per day. A rounded tablespoon of whole seeds produces approximately 2 tablespoons of ground flax meal. It can then be added to any of your favorite foods or eaten by itself.

Health and Happiness,

Debby Knight Jones CHES
Director Health Education, PBNSG


You may have noticed the initials CHES after my name. No they don't have anything to do with that game that uses pieces such as bishop, rook, knight, and queen. CHES stands for certified health education specialist. So what is a certified health education specialist?

A certified health education specialist ( CHES) is an individual that works with communities and individuals to improve or maintain their health by engaging in behaviors that promote positive health. This professional is responsible for setting up and managing various programs aimed at bringing information on exercise nutrition and disease prevention to those who need it. It is their job to make sure that people receive the health resources that best benefit them and pertain to their personal situations and cultural norms.

Along my professional path I first received my bachelor's degree in health education from the University of Michigan. I then sat for the national credentialing exam in health education. This is a credential that must be maintained through obtaining continuing education credits on a yearly basis.

In my role as Director of Health Education for PBNSG I have had the opportunity along with Denise Kling-Pelto, PBNSG Culinary Curator, to develop and teach the ongoing Introductory Transition Class. This class is offered 1-2 times per month and is open to everyone with an interest in learning more about transitioning to a whole food plant-based lifestyle. If you have not taken advantage of this please check the event calendar and register for our next class. We promise you a fun and informative event!

If you have questions, please email me at

I look forward to hearing from you.

Health and Happiness,

Debby Knight Jones CHES

Director Health Education, PBNSG


What's Holding You Back?

                  What's Holding You Back?

Maybe you have watched the movie Forks Over Knives or read an article that mentions all of the wonderful outcomes of going plant-based. You have learned that studies have shown that many chronic diseases including cardiovascular disease, type II diabetes, and obesity can be prevented or reversed using a whole food plant-based diet . So what is holding you back from giving whole food plant-based eating a try?

You may think that you have to jump in 100%, and become plant-based overnight. This can sound like an insurmountable task, especially if you're still learning exactly what is involved in a whole food plant-based lifestyle. While working with those interested in a healthier lifestyle, I've found that the all or nothing approach is often the thing that  holds many back. There is one thing that I know for sure: if you do not take that first step you will never arrive at your destination of being the healthiest you.

Start by making small changes; explore transition strategies, cooking techniques, and meal plans; stock your pantry with good foods, and you're off to a healthy start. There is a wealth of information on websites like that will assist you on your journey to a whole food plant-based lifestyle. Surround yourself with like minded people. If there is not a support group in your area sign up with an online group. Do not wait for the perfect moment to begin.

Take that first step today!

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You are not alone... you can reach your goal!

Early 2012

Early 2012

I have, in the past, hesitated to share before and after pictures because some of the pictures can be painful for me to look at. Not only because I didn't like the way I looked when I was morbidly obese, but because looking at these pictures forced me to vividly remember the feelings of despair, and even at times, utter hopelessness that I experienced at that period in my life. However, after joining PBNSG, I resolved to share my own story in the hope that it can help and encourage others to see that they are not alone in their struggle and that nothing is hopeless.

Throughout my life, I have struggled with my weight. Over the years, I have tried what seems like a million different so-called diets. Like many others, with most of these fad diets, I experienced the rush of brief initial success, but ultimately, the crush of not only regaining the weight, but often gaining back even more, and as a result, my health suffered. I first bought Dr. McDougall's book The McDougall Program for Maximum Weight Loss when it was released in 1995. I followed it on again off for many years, and I dropped down from my heaviest weight of 225 lbs.(a very tight plus size 22) to in my 190's (plus size 18). The program worked, but no one else that I knew was plant-based and I didn't have the support to stay with it consistently. Then, two years ago, I was faced with a major health crisis of my own. Rising blood pressure had caused bleeding in the retina of my left eye leaving me with reduced and blurred vision. My hypertension was so severe that I was faced with potentially permanent vision loss and the growing risk of a suffering a stroke. I was terrified. I was placed on two types of blood pressure medications. Now, I faced the choice of living on medication for the rest of my life, and possibly still losing my sight and having a stroke or finally making a permanent change.

May 2013

May 2013

In January of 2013, I weighed almost 200 pounds, and was barely squeezing into plus sized 18 pants. The following May, I fully committed to following a plant based diet, incorporating exercise into my day, and focusing on completely transforming my life. In my search for answers, I was inspired and encouraged by many whole foods plant-based experts. I read the books, examined the research, and watched the videos of Dr. Caldwell B. Essystein Jr., Dr. John McDougall, Dr. Neal Barnard and many more. Lani Muelrath, a wonderful Plant-based health coach and advocate became my mentor. This has resulted in the loss of a 100 pounds, and more than 9 pants sizes so far. The weight is continuing to drop off. I don’t have a “goal weight” anymore. A large part of my transformation has been learning to listen to my own body, especially when it comes to differentiating between real hunger and the feeling of anxiety, stress or boredom. Even more importantly, my blood pressure is now normal with no medication. The ophthalmologist says he has never seen anything like this, but my eyesight has returned to normal. I have more physical energy and zest for life than I have had in very many years. I am now looking forward to living a very long and active life.

October 2013

October 2013

I am so happy that I didn’t let past defeats hold me back from trying again. I finally realized that in order to finally step out of the cycle of yo-yo dieting, the temporary fixes that lead to permanent problems, that this is different, not simply a diet that offers a band aid fix to a water main break but a lifestyle change. Feeling younger than I have in many years is another fantastic bonus of my lifestyle changes.

No more high blood pressure, no more ulcers, no more debilitating migraine headaches, and most incredibly, I've regained my sight. I feel and look better than I have in years. My goal is to share what has worked for me with others who also struggle with their weight and have health problems. I am excited to be working with Paul and the other board members of PBNSG to help those who are interested in successfully transitioning to a Whole Foods Plant-Based lifestyle.