You should always choose organic for these foods

To eat organic or not.

It’s a personal decision — and a decision you probably feel strongly about.

You may be in the camp that thinks organic food is a waste of money and not necessary. Or you may be in the camp that wants all organic all the time. Perhaps you want to eat all organic, but cannot afford to.

Whatever your stance or situation, I have information that will interest you. It’s about pesticides and produce.

Allow me to introduce you to the concept of the Dirty Dozen.

The Dirty Dozen is a shopper’s guide to pesticides in produce. Each year, a list is complied and tells you the twelve produce items with the highest levels of pesticide residue. These are the foods that carry the highest health risks when eaten conventionally. Even when washed and peeled, these items have high pesticide loads.

And the pesticides found on the items on the Dirty Dozen list are associated with cancer, neurotoxicity, and reproductive/developmental toxicity.

Where does the pesticide data come from, you may ask? It comes straight from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).

Basically, the Dirty Dozen is a list of foods you should always choose organic. Whether you are all organic or super skeptical, these are the items you should choose organic.

What was on 2017’s Dirty Dozen list?

1. Strawberries

Delicious on their own, paired with dark chocolate, or part of a shortcake, these sweet and succulent berries are a summertime favorite.

Data from the USDA in 2014 and 2015 showed that 99% of strawberry samples contained at least one pesticide (and up to 21)!

2. Spinach

Spinach is a nutritional powerhouse — and something I eat daily. It’s great in salads, smoothies, and even added to soups.

What’s not so great? When your spinach contains dangerous pesticides.

In 2015, nearly all the USDA spinach samples contained significant levels of pesticides. Some samples contained more pesticide than considered legal and safe.

Play it safe and get your spinach organic — or even better grow your own at home!

3. Nectarines

Nectarines seem pretty innocent, right?

Unless you are eating organic, you may be fooled.

Nectarines contain trace pesticides linked to cancer, hormone disruption, and reproductive issues.

4. Apples


As a native Washingtonian, apples are a dietary staple for me. Golden Delicious, Pink Ladies, Honeycrisp, and Granny Smith’s are amongst my favorites.

I love apples with a side of tahini, peanut butter, or almond butter.

What I don’t want my apples with are harmful pesticides. That’s why I choose organic apples every time.

5. Peaches

A ripe and juicy peach is tough to beat.

So keep yourself safe by choosing organic peaches. Conventional peaches contain known carcinogens and neurotoxins.

6. Pears

Many of the items on the Dirty Dozen have been around for a few years.

Pears are the exception and are the new kid on the Dirty Dozen block.

The amount of residual pesticides found on these fibrous treats has more than doubled in the last seven years.

If you have a little one at home, be careful! Pear baby food samples sold in the US contained more pesticides than what can be legally sold in Europe.

7. Cherries

Life is a bowl of cherries . . .

Until you have a toxic one!

Over 60% of tested cherry samples contained boscalid, a pesticide that is a possible carcinogen. Nearly half of samples contained bifenthrin, which is associated with cancer, hormone disruption, and developmental issues.

8. Grapes

Grapes are one of the most popular fruits in America. They are a lovely summer treat. In fact, I freeze mine and grab a handful when my sweet tooth strikes.

What’s not so sweet is conventional grapes that are swimming in pesticides that are harmful to humans and bees. Half of grape samples contained imidacloprid - which is known to be highly toxic to bees. Other pesticides found on grapes are known to cause developmental and reproductive issues.

I call that sour grapes!

9. Celery


This crunchy vegetable is a staple of many recipes. In fact, my Southern friend says celery is part of the Holy Trinity of Cajun Cooking.

Cajun or not, if you are using celery regularly in you cooking go for organic. More than 60 pesticide residues were found on celery samples.

10. Tomatoes

You say toe-may-toe. I say toe-mah-toe.

Either way you say it, organic is the best option for tomatoes.

Over 30 pesticide residues were found on tomato samples— ranging from known carcinogens to neurotoxins.

11. Sweet bell peppers

Every time I buy produce, sweet bell peppers end up on my list. I use them in salads, soups, and stir fries.

If you choose conventional sweet bell peppers, you are exposing yourself (and those you feed) to over fifty pesticides.

Play it safe and go for organic on this one.

12. Potatoes

Whether you spell it potato or potatoe (a la Al Gore), potatoes should be organic.

Over 80% of potato samples had significant levels of the pesticide chlorpropham, which is toxic to bees. Other pesticides found on potatoes include known carcinogens and neurotoxins.  

From Information to Action

Now you know the Dirty Dozen and why you should avoid eating these foods if they are grown conventionally.

In case your memory isn’t photographic, have this post available (on your Smart phone or print out) the next time you go to the grocery store. Or you can download the free Dirty Dozen app on iTunes and have access to the list, which is updated annually.

Happy (& healthy) eating,



This 3 Minute Exercise Can Make You Eat Less While Still Feeling Satisfied

In my last post, I shared a cooking-free way to make your food more satisfying, tasty, & filling.

What was this technique?

Mindful eating.

Eating mindfully helps you eat less while still feeling satisfied. It also makes your food taste better.

Last week I shared specific ways for you to eat more mindfully.

Another way to mindful eating is to use eating as a meditation of sorts.

So I made a recording especially for you to help you in your mindful eating practice.

All you need is a raisin, a few minutes, and to hit the play button below.

Give it a try and let me know what you think!

The Raisin Exercise for Mindful Eating

People who’ve tried this tell me the exercise:

  • increased their enjoyment in eating
  • made eating more satisfying
  • gave them gratitude for the plants, farmers, and preparers of their food

So what are you waiting for? Give it a try! What do you have to lose?

In Health & Happiness,

do you want a cooking-free way to make your food more satisfying, tasty, & filling?

Who wants to eat less while feeling just as satisfied?

And who wants their food to taste better and be more satisfying?

Unless you are a masochist, my guess is you answered “Me!”

What if I could share a way for you to do this that did not require any cooking?

There is one simple, real, and freeing way to do this. Get ready . . .

Eat mindfully.

Americans often approach eating like a visit to a gas station. You try to find the cheapest option, quickly refuel while multi-tasking (talking on the phone, checking your email, washing your windows), and zip away to your next task. The process fulfills its purpose (refueling), but does not provide enjoyment, pleasure, or satisfaction.

Think about your eating. Is itdone quickly, while watching television, while working at your desk, in the car, or while walking? Do you view eating as a quick refueling or task on your agenda?

If you answered yes to any of those questions, you could use an eating makeover.

There is now a term when you consume food when it is not your primary focus. It is called “secondary eating” and Americans spend more time as Secondary Eaters than they do as Primary Eaters (i.e., less meals and more eating on the go or in front of the television). While we think we are gaining time andconvenience with secondary eating, we are actually losing.

When we eat without it being our primary focus:
    •    Our brains are less able to enjoy our food
    •    We lose the ability to fully taste and appreciate different flavors
    •    We have more difficulty telling when we are full

Truly I understand you lead busy and hectic lives. Being as efficient as possible is hardwired in many brains (especially mine).

But eating is not where our time saving should come from.

The average American spends 34 hours a week watching television. That’s just less than 5 hours a day. With the rise of mobile devices (hello iPhones and iPads), people are finding more time. In fact, five hours a day is the estimate. And somehow we don’t “have” time to eat or exercise.

Eating in front of the television or while working is tempting (even for me). But ask yourself, what can you gain by consciously eating?

You can more fully enjoy your meal, better understand when you are full, and likely eat less. All while feeling more satisfied. If I were selling a pill that did those things, I would be a millionaire.

Make eating a savor worthy experience.

To help combat the temptation of eating in front of the television, I offer you some suggestions.

1. Eat with others (family, friends, co-workers).

It’s more fun and the conversation will be stimulating. Plus studies show eating with others is linked to lower body weight.

2. Set the table.

Clear off your table if it has become your mail filing system, work space, or anything other than eating space. Put out your dinnerware and flatware.

3. Add some flowers.

Studies show food tastes better when there are flowers on the table. Plus, it makes eating feel special (as it should). Maybe even light a candle or two if you’re feeling crazy.

4. Enjoy each bite.

Chew your food and enjoy the texture, flavors, and smells you are experiencing.

5. Savor the moment.

Appreciate that you are exactly where you are meant to be, doing exactly what you were meant to do. Be present. Enjoy where you are.

From Information to Action

This post has been on my mind since the inception of A Better Way Wellness. With fall around the corner and holidays on the horizon, the time to share is right.

I challenge you, savor eating today.

Make your next meal a special and enjoyable experience. Savor and appreciate where you are.

In health & happiness,

Skye's 5-Minute Fresh Blueberry Salad

Farmers Markets are in full swing right now.

Which you know, I adore.

All the fresh produce, music, and sunshine — it’s completely my jam.

That’s why last week I shared the post Expert Farmers Market Shoppers Always Do These Things.

And to celebrate the season — and one of my favorite berries — I am sharing a wellness boosting Farmers Market salad.

I adore berries — especially blueberries. In season blueberries are tough to beat and are one of nature’s special treats – sweet, juicy, full of beneficial nutrients.

I have yet to meet someone who doesn’t care for a fresh and seasonal blueberry. Eat them plain as a light snack or dessert, add to smoothies for an extra boost, infuse them into lemonade for a summery refresher.

In terms of health benefits, blueberries are chock full -- anthocyanin, catechins, antioxidants (oh my!).

Remember my post on Eating Your Way to Calmness? Blueberries were featured.

And a great way to enjoy them is in freshly made salad!

This recipe was an unlikely discovery from a few years ago.

I had just flown back from a cross country speaking engagement and hadn’t been to the grocery store. Hungry and impatient, I wanted lunch immediately, if not sooner (I was verging on what my husband describes as hangry).

I looked in the fridge and only had a few supplies. Hmmm. Spinach. Blueberries. That, combined with my pantry staples, was enough to whip up something. I quickly chopped, stirred, and mixed.

When I sat to eat? Delicious! An accidental success (aren’t those the best kinds)? I liked it so much, I made it three days in a row.

The Recipe

P.S. Do you want to learn what expert Farmers Market shoppers always do? If so, check out this post!

Happy eating,

Expert Farmers Market Shoppers Always Do This (or how to win at the farmers market)

I’m a gal that loves a good Farmers Market.

Everything from the fresh produce to the friendly farmers to the seasonal offerings delights me. It’s the perfect kind of sensory overload.

Farmers Markets are incredible for many reasons . First, you get fresher produce (and fresher means more nutrients). Oftentimes, the food is grown organically. And if you do it right, you can get great deals and discounted prices.

Confession time: I used to suffer from Farmers Market Confusion.

All the produce would look amazing and I wanted to buy everything. But I never knew what to buy. What should I buy? How much do I need? Can I carry this all home?  Once I decided on my purchases, I would get home and realize I had a hodgepodge of produce that looked great, but had no idea what to do with it.
And a few weeks later, I often ended up having to waste some of my purchases.
Now I have a better plan of attack and want to share my Farmers Market Shopping Tips.

1.) Know your staples and purchase them.

For me, this means apples, snacking fruit, kale, spinach, greens, garlic, and onions. I also adore local raw honey (great for allergies) and find it is often much more affordable direct at the Farmer’s Market.

2.) Have a few recipe ideas before you go.

Having a few ideas on what you want to make can help guide your purchases.
Just be sure to leave this open to inspiration once you see the current offerings.

3.) Check out what is in season.

What’s in season will taste the best and likely have the best prices. Right now, my Farmers Markets are swimming with berries. This is the perfect time to stock up to make things immediately and to freeze.

Not sure what’s in season where you live?

I have two easy solutions for you.

The first (and most fun) is to check with the farmers. Strike up a conversation and learn from the experts.

The second is to use the free Sustainable Table website. Just enter your state and the month, hit go, and you have a comprehensive list of seasonal produce.

4.) Chat with the Farmers.

They know what produce of theirs is best right now. Plus, they can give you preparation ideas and background on how the plants were grown. I find most farmers are delighted to talk about their food – it's what they are passionate about.

5.) Try one new produce item each week.

Use the variety of offerings to your advantage.

Never cooked kohlrabi? Give it a go! Are collard greens new to your kitchen? Buy and try them!

Get creative and have fun. You and your family may be delightfully surprised!


Happy marketing,
Skye McKennon, PharmD, BCPS, GEI


You Need to Know THIS If You’re Trying to Avoid the Worst Fat for Your Health

I know you want to live a healthy and happy life. And I’m here to help.

That’s why I completely changed my post for this week to meet your needs.

Since last week’s post, I’ve received TONS of questions about the worst fat for your health (aka trans fat). For the record, I’m so glad you asked. Because this is SUCH an important topic.

Trans fats are so incredibly TOXIC to the body that I knew I needed to answer my most frequently asked questions.

As a recap, last week you learned ALL about trans fats. Why they are the WORST fat for your health,  common food sources, and how they hide in food. If you need a refresher, click here.

So today, I am answering YOUR questions and questions I commonly receive about trans fats in quick fire.

Q: Should I really care about trans fats?



Please care!

Are you catching my urgency here?

There is a large amount of high quality evidence showing trans fats lead to serious health problems.

This is not rumor or myth. If you want more information and studies, check out this post.

Q: Skye, if trans fats are so bad for you, why do companies use them?

This is an excellent question. Trans fats are used for several reasons.

One, they are cheap for food manufacturers.

Two, trans fats extend the shelf life of foods. Natural oils (such as olive or safflower) go rancid much faster. Using hydrogenated oils (aka trans fats) extends shelf life dramatically.

Three, trans fats give foods a desirable taste and texture. They allow liquid oils to be solid or semi-solid at room temperature (think margarine). They give nondairy creamers a creamy texture.

Four, trans fats used to deep-fry food can be reused multiple times before replacing. This means convenience and cost savings for manufacturers.

You can see, there are many reasons why a food manufacturer would want to use trans fats (but no good reasons for your health).

Q: Trans fats scare me! How can I make sure I avoid trans fats?

I hear you. Trans fats are scary.

The good news is you don’t need them AT ALL in your diet.

Some tips to avoid trans fats:

  • Shop the periphery of the store
  • Make your own food from scratch
  • Shop at retailers that are trans fats free (such as Whole Foods or PCC)

Q: Skye, I love non-dairy creamer in my coffee. Now I know my favorite one has partially hydrogenated cottonseed oil [a trans fat]. What can I use instead?

This is a tough one because I know people LOVE their French Vanilla, Hazelnut, or Irish Cream nondairy creamer.

Here are some ideas:

  • Use real half-and-half or cream. If you miss the flavoring, add some natural vanilla or almond extract.
  • Use coconut milk. Coconut milk is creamy, rich, and has a nice natural flavor.
  • Try the 365 brand of coffee creamers (sold at Whole Foods). They definitely have sugar and oil, but are trans fat free.
  • Drink your coffee black.
  • Ditch the coffee and opt for a healthier beverage. Try my matcha tea latte or turmeric latte recipes.

Note: It may take time to acclimate to your new coffee and creamer routine. Don’t give up! Give yourself a solid week or two to adjust.

Q: Dr. McKennon, I loved the trans fat information. But . . . crackers are my favorite snack food. Does this mean I can never have crackers again?


You can absolutely have crackers. Just avoid the ones that have trans fats.

Because I feel for you (and want you to still enjoy your favorite snack), I’m giving you a table of cracker substitutes.

Another great option is Simple Mills Almond Flour Crackers. These crackers are absolutely delicious and fine for gluten-free folks. You won’t miss the trans fat at all!

Q: I’m addicted to peanut butter. Do I have to give it up? Are there any brands of peanut butter that are free of trans fats?

You do NOT have to give up your peanut butter.

MANY commercial brands contain partially hydrogenated oils. The good news is manufactures are hearing the message: consumers don’t want trans fats! Therefore, many conventional brands are replacing the partially hydrogenated oils with fully hydrogenated oils.

My personal preference with food is to enjoy it in its most natural state. For peanut butter, this means I only want peanuts and maybe salt on my ingredient list.

As of today, the following options contain just peanuts and salt:

  • Adam’s Natural peanut butter (found at most grocers)
  • Trader Joe’s Organic peanut butter (found at Trader Joe’s)
  • 365 Organic peanut butter (found at Whole Foods)
  • Santa Cruz Organic peanut butter (found at health food stores and natural grocers)
  • Once Again peanut butter (found at health food stores and natural grocers)

Q: How can I avoid trans fats when eating out?

This is another good one. Eating out can be tricky — you don’t have access to ingredient lists and labels.

Here are some tips to minimize your chances of having trans fats:

  • Eat at trans fat free establishments
  • Ask your waiter or the chef if trans fats (or partially hydrogenated oils) are used
  • Avoid deep-fried foods (since many restaurants use partially hydrogenated oils in their fryers)
  • Stick to freshly prepared vegetables, legumes, and fruits

Q: Are there trans fats in animal products?


Animal products may contain naturally occurring trans fats. Items such as beef, lamb, and butterfat may contain trans fat.

There are not sufficient studies to determine if naturally occurring trans fat is as detrimental to health as man made (such as partially hydrogenated oils).

The safe bet would be to avoid all trans fat until more information is available.

Q: What kind of diet should I follow to avoid trans fats?

Have a diet rich in fresh vegetables, fruit, and legumes.

  • If you cook with oil, use naturally occurring oils that are unhydrogenated. Examples include olive oil, safflower oil, and sunflower oil.
  • Check labels for trans fat and partially hydrogenated oils. Avoid ALL products that contain either.
  • Stay away from commercially prepared cookies, crackers, pies, and cakes.

That wraps up the Q and A session on trans fats.

If you still have questions, please reach out! I’m always here for you.

Until next time,


The Absolute Worst Fat for Your Health and How to Decrease Your Risk of Heart Disease by 30%

You’ve heard of “good” fats and “bad” fats, right?

How about the worst fat ever?

The worst fat you can possibly eat is a trans fat.

Why? Trans fats are associated with serious health issues. Studies show trans fats are associated with:

Trans fats are manmade fats that wreck havoc on your body.

By simply reducing your intake of trans fats by 2%, you can decrease your risk of cardiovascular disease by 30%.

That is not a typo. A reduction of two percent leads to a decrease of almost one third.

Medically speaking, a 30% reduction in cardiovascular disease is HUGE. As in there are medications primarily used to reduce heart disease that do not have that large of an impact.

And a 2% decrease in trans fats? That is so tiny! And very achievable.

I’m going to tell you all about it and show you how to do it.

First, there are a few things you NEED to know.

1.) Trans fats hide in many foods.

Some sources of trans fats are more obvious.

  • Many margarines
  • Fried foods
  • Store bought baked goods (unless made with real butter)
  • Frozen pizzas

Trans fats, however, hide in foods you would not suspect.

  • Conventional crackers
  • Boxed cake and pancake mixes
  • Premade frosting
  • Frozen meals
  • Non dairy creamer
  • Conventional peanut butter
  • Microwave popcorn in butter flavor
  • Granola bars and snack bars
  • Refrigerated (or premade) dough

2. Trans fats can go by different names.  

Allow me to do some translation for you.
Partially hydrogenated = trans fat.
Trans fat = dangerous for your health.
Partially hydrogenated = dangerous for your health.

Think of partially hydrogenated as a fancier word for trans fat. It’s similar to calling an old, moldy, and dumpy apartment a “domicile with old world charm.” Either way you say it, it’s still bad news.

3.) Foods labeled with 0 grams of trans-fat can actually contain trans fats!

It’s true. The FDA allows foods that contain up to 0.5 grams of trans fats per serving to be labeled as having no trans fat. Pretty sneaky, huh?

The moral of this story? Don’t take the manufacturers word for it — check out trans fats details for yourself.

4.) You MUST check your food labels for trans fats and check ingredient lists for “partially hydrogenated” oils.

This is the only way to be confident the food you are buying does NOT contain trans fats.

Consider Ritz crackers, a very popular (and tasty) snack food.

The nutrition label says:


If you didn’t know any better, you would think Ritz crackers were free of trans fats.

But because you are a super savvy consumer, you know to search one step further.

You check the ingredients list and this is what you see:

Unbleached Enriched Flour (Wheat Flour, Niacin, Reduced Iron, Thiamine Mononitrate Vitamin B1, Riboflavin Vitamin B2, Folic Acid), Soybean Oil, Sugar, Partially Hydrogenated Cottonseed Oil, Salt, Leavening (Baking Soda and/or Calcium Phosphate), High Fructose Corn Syrup, Soy Lecithin, Malted Barley Flour, Natural Flavor.

Did you see that? Yep. Partially hydrogenated cottonseed oil.

So Ritz crackers, do indeed, contain trans fats.

5.) You should entirely eliminate trans fats from your diet.

There are very few things I will say to completely eliminate. Trans fats are one of them.

Trans fats have no unique health benefits, but a host of serious health detriments.

So seriously do yourself (and your body) a HUGE favor by avoiding trans fats completely.

From Learning to Life

I truly love learning, especially about health and wellness.

But information without real, transformative action doesn’t do much good.

So I challenge you to take this learning and translate it into real life.

What can you do right now — today — to decrease your intake of trans fats?

Perhaps you decide to switch from nondairy creamer to almond milk or real cream. Or you ditch your conventional peanut butter. Perhaps you take it further and have a kitchen clean out and dump anything with trans fats (or partially hydrogenated oils).

No matter how big or small your change, you will be doing your health a favor! Remember, just a 2% reduction in trans fat intake means a 30% reduction in heart disease.

In health and happiness,


A Gift, A Giveaway, and A One Year Anniversary


This week marks the one year anniversary of A Better Way Wellness.

One year ago, I listened. Listened to my intuition, to the small and persistent voice in my head. The voice telling me people like you

  • would benefit from my wellness struggles and solutions
  • desire a holistic approach to health and wellness
  • are tired of the traditional health model and are wary of questionable “health” information circulating online
  • are trying their best to be healthy, but are going about it the wrong way and not getting the results they desire.

There is a true need for holistic evidence-based health and wellness information.

And while I am far from perfect, I knew I was blessed with the experience and training to provide real, evidence-based, wellness information to guide you to a healthier, happier, and sustainable life.

This is why I committed to A Better Way Wellness. I committed to moving past my fears (do I have enough time to do this? will anyone actually read this? can i put myself out there?) to creating an online community for wellness.

For this first year, I committed to writing an e-book to teach the foundations of wellness, sending wellness newsletters and posting evidence-based content regularly.

Mission accomplished!

For this next year, there are some exciting developments in the works. Until I’m ready for these big reveals, I will share my commitments for the next year.

Here is what I promise:

  • To guide you toward a healthier and happier life.
  • To give you scientifically backed wellness information in an easily digestible form.
  • To serve as a holistic wellness resource for you.
  • To be available to answer your questions.


In honor of this anniversary, I want to provide you a gift.

This gift was created based on questions and feedback from readers like you, clients, and patients.

It’s something I seriously considered sharing with a larger media outlet.

But I knew deep down it was something I should share directly with you and our community of wellness and truth seekers.

This gift is something especially for you and of no cost.

If you already receive my newsletter, this gift was sent directly to you. If not, click here to access your special gift!


If you find value or learn any pearls (and I think you will) from my special gift, I ask you a sincere favor. I ask that you share it with at least two people you love. Two people that you want to bestow the gift of wellness upon.

It’s easy to share:

  1. Share the gift by email using this link.

  2. Send an email to your loved yourself and include the following link:

  3. Text your loved one the following link:

  4. Use the Share Button at the end of this post to Tweet.

If you share my gift with at least two people, please let me know. I want to enter you into a drawing for a 1:1 wellness mentoring session with me*.  You can enter the drawing here.

The drawing will end on August 16, 2017 and winner will be notified shortly after.

I’m so glad you’re part of this community so please accept my gift as a small token of my appreciation. And I want our little corner of the internet to reach everyone that wants a better, happier, and healthier life so please share the gift with anyone you care for.

With gratitude,

*One-on-one wellness mentoring is the perfect solution to feel healthier, happier, and freer. I take a holistic approach to wellness and together we will create a sustainable wellness plan personalized to you and your needs. You must have access to Skype or a US telephone number to my eligible for the one-on-one mentoring session.


If you are reading this, you probably have a job. If not, you wouldn’t be learning how to be happier at work.

Maybe you love your job. Maybe you despise it. Or perhaps you are somewhere between those two extremes. Or somedays you love it and others you despise it.

However it is you feel about your job, did you know having a job makes you happier than someone that is unemployed?

It’s the truth.

Wellbeing is higher in those with jobs compared to those who are unemployed.

Pretty cool, right?

But how do you become happier at work?

I’m going to tell you.

And so you know, this information comes from the 2017 World Happiness Report.

Select the Right Type of Work for You

What you do for work matters.

Some jobs are associated with higher levels of happiness and satisfaction.

Those with the highest reported levels of happiness were managers or executives. This is closely followed by professional workers, clerical or office workers, and service workers.

Those with the lowest levels of happiness? Farming, fishing, and forestry workers. Construction workers and miners closely followed.

So if you are dissatisfied by your work, consider this information before choosing a new direction.

Be Actively Engaged

According to the 2017 World Happiness Report, active engagement is extremely important to job satisfaction.

The more engaged you are in your job, the happier and more satisfied you are with it.

What does it mean to be actively engaged in your work?

Actively engaged workers are passionate about what they do and feel committed to their job or employers.

Disengaged workers are are “checked out” and put in time without much energy or passion.

According to a Gallup poll, only 30% of Americans are actively engaged in their work.

How do you get actively engaged? Change your mindset or change your responsibilities/job.

Negotiate for a Raise

Higher wages are predictive of greater wellbeing.

This goes counter to advice or graduation speeches you’ve heard.

But the facts are those in well-paying jobs tend to feel happier and more satisfied with their lives compared to those in lower income brackets.

This isn’t a purely linear relationship, though. The lower you are on the income spectrum, the more a raise will contribute to your wellness.

Likewise, the HIGHER you are on the income spectrum, the less a raise will contribute to your happiness.

This is a tricky subject, because you have to consider work-life satisfaction. A higher paying job that substantially increases your commute time or causes you to worry at home will leave you LESS happy. Read the next tip for more details.

Leave Work at Work

This is a fascinating one.

Even though you may be enticed with the idea of job-flexibility or work you can do from home, this may detract from your happiness.

If your job interferes with your ability to spend time with loved ones, your happiness level goes down.

If your job causes you to worry about work matters when you are off the clock, your happiness level goes down.

If your job leaves you too tired to enjoy non-work factions of life, your happiness decreases.

Volunteer for Variety & Learn Something New

Variety is more than the spice of life — it is a key to job satisfaction and happiness.

Those with jobs that entail variety and the need to learn new skills are generally more satisfied with their work AND their lives.

So volunteer to learn something new or take on a new project — your happiness may increase!

Take Control Over Your Day

Having control - or autonomy - over your work is a significant contributor to happiness.

If possible, exert control over your workday and your pace of work. Workers that do this have higher wellbeing outcomes.

Find Your Work Tribe

Keeping your nose to the grindstone and staying to yourself at work may result in less happiness.

The level of social support you receive at work is strongly predictive of wellbeing.

Finding social support, and even being a member of a union, can increase your happiness at work.

Work for Someone You Respect and Feel is Competent

Your boss has a big impact on your job happiness (some of you may be thinking “duh” on this one).

When you work for someone you respect and feel is competent, your work wellbeing increases. Bosses and supervisors make a HUGE impact on satisfaction.

Data aside, I can personally attest to the importance of this one. I’ve been lucky to have mostly wonderful bosses. And in those circumstances, my team and I were happy and thrived. I can think of one situation where this was not the case — where I did not feel confidence on my boss. Instead of my team thriving, we were unhappy, stressed out, and overall lacking in wellbeing.

Turn Information Into Action

Information is only so helpful — it is action that will transform your life.

So take inventory of your job and life. What changes can you initiate to make you happier at work?

Write one or two down and commit to incorporating them into your life.

The Happiness Series

Do you want to be happier?

If so, read parts 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5 of the happiness series!

Sending you health and happiness,

Mood Boosting Supplements that May Be Dangerous

Last week you read about supplements that can boost your mood.
I received encouraging comments on how much you appreciated the information.

Thank you for the comments and feedback. I love hearing from you!

I also received some great questions about other supplements that boost mood that I did not discuss.

You asked and I’m answering.

I want to take today to share WHY I did not include two particular supplements in my discussion.

It’s all due to safety.

Keep reading to learn about the two mood-boosting supplements that may be dangerous for you to use.

There is a common misconception that “natural products” and “supplements” are safe.

Some folks assume just because something comes from a plant or a health food store it is innately safe.

Newsflash: poison ivy, hemlock, and arsenic are all “natural” products that are most definitely UNSAFE for humans.

The reality is some supplements and natural products ARE safe while others can cause SERIOUS health problems.

It just depends on the product and its quality.

People ask me about supplement and natural product safety all the time.

When considering supplements, safety and effectiveness are my top priorities.

If something is unsafe, I don’t even consider using it. Or suggesting others use it.

And if something is not effective, I don’t waste my money (or anybody else’s) on it.

There are supplements that help boost mood, but are considered dangerous.

That’s right.

There are two supplements that have strong evidence to support they boost mood, but also strong evidence to suggest they may be dangerous to use.

Your health and safety is my top priority.

That is why I’m sharing all the details on why kava and St. John’s wort did not make my cut.

The first culprit is kava.

Kava is known to help with anxiety. Multiple studies show kava is superior to placebo and in some cases, even anti-anxiety medicine.

So kava meets the effectiveness criteria.

Safety, however, is another story.

Kava is associated with over 100 cases of liver toxicity — including the need for liver transplants and even death.

For this reason, kava was withdrawn from Canadian and European markets.

Canada and Germany have since lifted kava bans, however safety is still a concern.

Due to liver toxicity concerns, kava does not meet my safety criteria.

Even though there is reasonable evidence to show kava works, due to side effects it can be potentially dangerous.

The second culprit is St. John’s Wort

St. John’s wort is a flowering plant found in sunny, well-drained locations.

St. John’s wort has a wealth of evidence to show it helps with depression. Studies show it is superior to placebo and even commonly used depression medicines (such as SSRIs).

In fact, St. John’s wort is associated with FEWER side effects compared to standard anti-depressants.

So, you may be wondering, what’s the problem with St. John’s wort?

Great question.

St. John’s wort is associated with MANY serious interactions with certain medicines.

When used on its own, studies show St. John’s wort is safe when used for 12 weeks (and in some cases even longer).

What is unsafe is the drug interactions St. John’s wort has when used with other products.

The risk of interactions is so serious that St. John’s wort products were banned in France. Other countries require cautionary labeling on St. John’s wort products warning of serious interactions.

St. John’s wort can decrease the effectiveness of certain drugs.

Some examples include:

  • Oral contraceptives (aka birth control pills) - St. John’s wort decreases oral contraceptive levels and effectiveness, which can lead to unplanned pregnancy and breakthrough bleeding.
  • Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) medicines — St. John’s wort can decrease serum levels of HIV medicines, which can lead to treatment failure and resistance.
  • Seizure medicines — St. John’s wort may increase the metabolism of seizure medicines, which can result in loss of seizure control.
  • Anticoagulants or blood thinners — St. John’s wort can decrease the effectiveness of anticoagulants, which may lead to blood clots.

Despite the risk of drug interactions, many people still choose to use St. John’s wort.

And this is probably fine, so long as they disclose all medicines and supplements they are using to their healthcare providers.

The problem is when people do NOT let their providers know everything they are using.

If you want to try St. John’s wort, make sure you work with a healthcare provider to make sure you are using it safely.

I’m not opposed to using St. John’s wort. What I am opposed to is using it in an UNSAFE way.

Mood Boosting Supplements that May Be Dangerous

Happiness is important to us all and we know the main detractors from happiness in the Unites States are depression and anxiety.

You know there are supplements that can boost your happiness (see this post for more details).

There are other supplements that are effective, but can be dangerous.

Kava can cause serious liver damage and St. John’s wort can cause dangerous drug interactions when used incorrectly.

Now you know the good, the bad, and the potentially dangerous about kava and St. John’s wort.

Want More?

Are you looking for more information on happiness? Read parts 1, 2, 3, and 4 of the happiness series and be on the lookout for part 6.