Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Tips for Surviving an Elimination Diet on Vacation

We’re off to Florida this morning, so I figured it would be the perfect time to share this blog post with tips for surviving an elimination diet on vacation. Not that I’m doing any sort of elimination diet right now, BUT I know them all too well. I have taken many trips away when I had a restricted diet, and it’s not all that enjoyable. Of course, the thought of having to give up some of your favorite foods, especially while on vacation, is definitely a scary one for most people! However, as hard as an elimination diet may be, it certainly has the potential to be very beneficial in the long run. If you choose to embark on an elimination diet (removing processed foods, ones you have allergies or sensitivities to, and other harmful substances like chemicals) with a vacation on the horizon, you know how important compliance is in order to start the process of healing from the inside out. If you happen to be one of these people, you know it’s not always easy, especially if you’re trying to live a “normal” life. That’s why I put together these tips for surviving an elimination diet on vacation.

Personally, I haven’t had too many issues making changes to my diet when I’m cooking and eating in the comfort of my own home. But when I’m dining out or socializing with family and friends at events and parties, it’s not always easy to stick to a restrictive diet. Then, taking it one step further and adding a vacation or extended period of time where you don’t have complete control over your food choices is even tougher, but not impossible. If there’s a will, there’s a way! While I’m not doing a “traditional” elimination diet anymore, my diet is still somewhat restricted with regard to what I eat on a regular basis (i.e. wheat, eggs). That said, here are some tips for surviving an elimination diet on vacation!

tips for surviving an elimination diet on vacation

There’s no doubt that making the decision to start and stick to an elimination diet is hard, which is why I hope these tips for surviving an elimination diet on vacation are really helpful to you. As someone who’s struggled with finding the root cause of several health issues such as ulcerative colitis, eczema, acne, and hormonal imbalances, I’ve tried my fair share of elimination diet protocols, such as the LEAP Diet and AIP. I’ve also experimented with removing standalone foods such as eggs, dairy, and gluten in an effort to pinpoint the culprit. 

While some elimination diets are more strict than others, all have some level of restriction that needs to be adhered to for a specified period of time in order to really reap the rewards and insights into the way your body reacts to certain foods. Once you’ve abstained from eating these potentially aggravating foods for the prescribed length of time, you then slowly reintroduce them to see if one or any of the foods trigger a negative reaction. The reason you reintroduce slowly is that if you were to begin eating ALL the foods at once, it would be difficult to pinpoint which one caused a reaction. In this way, an elimination diet can actually run a bit longer than the specified time period, making planning exactly the best time to start one a little difficult. I mean, you need to live your life too! 

While we can do our best to begin an elimination diet during a month where we don’t have any pre-planned events or travel, there is always the potential for last-minute birthday parties, weekends away, and other random get-togethers. I don’t know about you, but I have no interest in turning down fun plans in the name of a diet, even if it’s health-related. Elimination diets can be tough, yes, but isolating yourself from all the people and activities you love would only make it that much harder. The mind and body are highly interconnected, so I really believe your overall happiness surrounding a diet is super important too. Plus, sometimes you just can’t wait for the “right time,” if such a thing even exists!

With summer in full swing now, many of you are probably gearing up for a vacation. While adhering to any diet (elimination or not) can be difficult while traveling, it’s definitely not impossible. I have plenty of firsthand experience with what goes into successfully sticking to a diet while traveling, which is why I want to share these tips for surviving an elimination diet on vacation. This is definitely one of those situations where the saying “fail to plan, plan to fail” rings true. But with a little preparation, you can successfully stick to your guns and enjoy your time away without feeling deprived or worrying that you won’t be able to adhere to your protocol. Below are a few tips for surviving an elimination diet on vacation to help you plan. And remember – when it’s all said and done, vacation is way less about the food you eat than it as about the experiences you have, the people you spend it with, and the memories you make! I hope you find these tips for surviving an elimination diet on vacation helpful!

Tips for surviving an elimination diet on vacation

Always be prepared

The week leading up to a vacation can be stressful in and of itself with all the packing, picking up last-minute items, coordinating plans, and wrapping up work. But dedicating a grocery trip or an hour or two of prep for your travel days can make a world of difference. Whether traveling by train, plane, or car, I often find the days that I have the least predictability and control over my diet during vacation are the days I am on the road or in the air. Travel is stressful and unpredictable no matter which way you slice it, and when we’re tired and stressed, snacks and meals often happen solely based on what’s available and convenient. So do yourself a favor and plan specifically for your travel days. If your driving, invest in a cooler that will keep cold items fresh so you’re not just living off of snacks, or plan a route that will have diet-friendly options along the way. If you’re flying, especially if it’s a longer flight, pack a substantial, TSA-friendly meal (you’d be surprised what you can get through!) in addition to snacks. Trust me, in the event of traffic or a delayed flight, you will be glad that you did. Focus on nutrient density, and keeping a balance of protein, carbs, and fat even if you’re not tracking macros. Hearty nut butter packets paired with a dense fruit like a banana and a protein like Greek yogurt will keep you fuller a lot longer than just the banana alone. The last thing you need is a blood sugar crash or being hangry while traveling! 

Once you’re in the full swing of your trip, don’t let staying prepared fall to the wayside. Vacations usually mean long days out and about, and the only thing worse than being struck with a case of the hangries is realizing that you don’t have any available options that will work with your diet.  The more hungry (and grumpy) you get, the more likely it is that you will cave into whatever is available to you. Keep one (even two) diet-friendly, non-perishable snacks on you at all times. Better yet, if you know you will be away from home-base or access to fresh food for a while, it’s best to preemptively eat a little something before leaving even if you’re not super hungry. Pro tip: Schedule a grocery delivery to arrive at your destination as soon as you do to save yourself a trip to the grocery store. Then, you’ll have plenty of healthy foods at your finger tips! 

Focus on what you CAN have, not what you can’t

It’s so easy to feel down or discouraged by the list of off-limit foods, especially if it’s your first time trying an elimination diet. That’s why it’s important to remind yourself that it’s only temporary and to focus on the awesome list of flavorful foods that you CAN eat! Nowadays you can find tasty ideas for pretty much any type of elimination diet – everything from recipes online that will keep the list of foods feeling fresh and keep you from tastebud burnout. And who knows? Maybe you will even keep these recipe ideas in rotation long after the elimination period has ended! You can likely find tons of diet-friendly substitutions for whatever your craving – all it takes is an open mind and a little creativity. When I’m really struggling with what I “can’t have,” changing my mindset to what I “can have” always puts things into perspective. It’s definitely one of my go-tos when it comes to my favorite tips for surviving an elimination diet on vacation that’s most helpful! 

Most elimination diets will have a strict no alcohol rule… and for good reason! But the drinks can definitely flow while on vacation, and it’s easy to feel like your missing out on the fun. Just remember that no vacation was ever made better by a hangover! As much as I love my wine, I also love starting the day feeling fresh and energized – and that doesn’t really go hand in hand after several days of boozing. It’s hard at first, but once the good times start rolling, you will realize you don’t need alcohol to enjoy yourself. In fact, you might even find yourself enjoying your trip even more without it. You will be more excited and energized to really enjoy your vacation activities (sunrise hike, anyone?). And if you’re worried about people being pushy and offering you drinks, I find that keeping good sparkling water with a lime wedge in hand fends off any questions! Here are some additional tips for staying on track and still having fun this summer

tips for surviving an elimination diet on vacation or on the beach

Stay in a place with a kitchen, and go grocery shopping when you arrive

When selecting accommodations, seek out an Airbnb or house rental that will give you access to a fridge and kitchen if it works with your plans. (Be sure to schedule a grocery delivery!) If that’s not possible (and no sweat if it isn’t), there are several hotels that have small kitchen units with a stove, fridge, and microwave. And if all else fails, almost all hotels will be able to provide you with a mini-fridge! This is often the key to success when it comes to my top tips for surviving an elimination diet on vacation! 

Scope out diet-friendly grocery stores ahead of time and plan to make a pit-stop shortly after you arrive. A local Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, or smaller natural grocer is a great option that will likely have food you can stock up on – and not just for yourself, but for the whole family. Pro tip: Eating some of your meals at home will actually make your vacation more budget-friendly! I like to pick one or two breakfasts that I can eat on repeat throughout the trip. I often go with rice cakes or gluten-free bread with nut butter and sliced banana or fresh berries on top. It’s easy, delicious, and nutritious! I also stock up on items such as pre-cut veggies, whole fruit, snack bars, nut butter packets, and a plant-based protein powder or collagen to add to my morning iced coffee. 

If we have a full kitchen, we often eat a few lunches and dinners at home as well. If you’re staying with other family or friends, offer to make a diet-friendly side-dish (or even a main) that everyone will love. It doesn’t need to be anything fancy – often the simplest meals (meat, non-starchy veggies, cooking fat, and herbs and spices) are the most delicious and flavorful. No one will even know that they are part of a diet plan! And when you do cook, make sure that you make enough for leftovers. These will come in super handy when you need something in a pinch!

If someone else is cooking, don’t feel bad about making special requests. When we were in Arizona last year, each family was responsible for making dinner one night of the week. I felt bad about asking for substitutions, like zucchini noodles instead of pasta, but everyone was more than willing to accommodate – no big deal! Plus, everyone ended up loving many of my ingredient swaps! 

Scope out restaurants ahead of time

One of the most common tips for surviving an elimination diet on vacation is to peruse the menu of a restaurant ahead of time. Take it one step further by checking out restaurants at your location ahead of time, leaving making a last-minute decision out of the equation. Scope out their menus to see if they offer anything diet-friendly or close enough to it that you can make an easy swap. Don’t be shy about calling restaurants ahead of time to discuss your needs and the substitutions they can offer. Most restaurants are more than happy to accommodate. A good rule of thumb is to look for an entree that offers meat and a non-starchy or starchy veggie side. (I’m always a fan of big salads!) From there, it’s easy to make substitutions like forgoing the bread or asking for the food to be cooked in certain oils. If all else fails, order a simple garden salad with a choice of grilled or steamed protein and dressing on the side. You can also simply ask if they can prepare a meat and a veggie for you, rather than modifying existing menu items.

And lastly…

No one cares!

And I mean this in the nicest way possible! 🙂 Talk yourself out of any self-consciousness you have regarding your elimination diet in the same way you’d handle self-consciousness at the gym. You’re too busy focusing on yourself to pay attention to anyone else, right? It’s the same situation, even more so on vacation when friends and family are just excited to have a blast together. Of course, they will support you, but it won’t be a huge deal. If you do get questions, but don’t feel like jumping into an explanation, simply say that you are eating a specific diet for medical reasons. It’s usually reason enough to shut down any (however well-meaning) prying down! Your choices are for YOU, and you shouldn’t feel the need to explain yourself to anyone. Keep these tips for surviving an elimination diet on vacation top of mind and you do YOU!

When it comes down to it, elimination diets are more a mental challenge than anything else. Just like with other challenges, if you believe in yourself and do what you can to prepare, you will be successful. Diets are difficult to stick to in any situation, more so during travel, but it’s not totally impossible by any means. Do the best you can, and don’t let anything stop you from enjoying your well-deserved time off with family and friends. There’s no room for stress – it’s a vacation, after all! I hope these tips for surviving an elimination diet on vacation helpful to you, your lifestyle, and goals. If you try any of them or have any to add, please share below in the comment section! 

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The 5 Best Adaptogens for Stress Reduction

Dr. Jason Fung is stopping by the blog today to share a bit about using adaptogens for stress. Enjoy, everybody—and be sure to share any questions you have on the comment board. 

“Adaptogens.” Something about the word is reminiscent of Transformers—you know, those robots that look like a normal automobile or airplane—and then turn into something so much more powerful.

In truth, adaptogens aren’t that different from Transformers. They look like normal herbs, roots, and mushrooms. You’ll perhaps even recognize some of the adaptogens discussed in this article and will have eaten them before.

But adaptogens aren’t just normal plants and mushrooms. Research tells us that adaptogens can transform us into people who are less affected by stress.(1)

And, in the modern world, being less stressed certainly sounds like a superpower, right?

So, let’s take a research-based look at how adaptogens work and which ones you might try. We’ll focus in particular on the best adaptogens for stress reduction.

How It Works: Taking Adaptogens for Stress Reduction

It could be that you’re physically stressed from exercise, worn out from fighting off an illness, or emotionally stressed by a work-life balance issue. In any of these situations, adaptogens can help reduce cortisol levels, balance your hormones, and leave you feeling calmer.

In short, adaptogens help with stress reduction because they increase your tolerance for stress.

The reason adaptogens can assist with a broad range of stressors has to do with the mechanism by which they reduce stress. Rather than going to the specific site of our stress—an injured body part or rush hour traffic (wouldn’t that be nice?)—they go to work on our hypothalamus, pituitary, and adrenal glands. These are the parts of our anatomy that signal and respond to stress.

As a result of this interaction, our “fight or flight” response is less likely to be triggered by every little thing that is happening in our day. And our overall cortisol levels are less likely to skyrocket in response to modern-day stresses that don’t actually deserve a physical response (back to that rush hour traffic).

Conversely, chronically high stress levels—and chronically high cortisol—can lead to adrenal fatigue, digestive issues, and even premature aging. So, the fact that adaptogens can reduce stress is important on a physical level, not just an emotional one. Reducing stress can keep us younger and healthier.

5 Adaptogens That Will Help You with Stress Reduction

So, how do you go about incorporating adaptogens into your diet or supplement regimen? It’s actually pretty easy, and you will recognize some of the names of the adaptogens below. While all adaptogens will reduce your body’s stress response, they each have their own special qualities and methods for attacking stress.

Let’s discuss five adaptogens that you can easily get ahold of and why they might be a great addition to your daily health routine.

1. Chaga Mushroom

Chaga comes first in this list because of its broad spectrum of benefits. Chaga has been used for hundreds of years in a variety of Eastern European countries and may even have been used as far back as Roman times.

It is extremely high in antioxidants and is therefore known for its anti-aging properties. These same antioxidants may be behind chaga’s traditional use as a cancer treatment, as well.(2)

But chaga’s ability to boost the immune system (3) also means it has the benefit of stress reduction. How many of us have experienced the two-fronted attack of stress and illness? Don’t you always come down with the flu or a cold at the worst possible time? A 2011 study demonstrated that mice treated with chaga had an increased ability to fend off viruses and bacteria.(4)

2. Ginseng

This knobby looking root is one of the adaptogens you’re more likely to already be familiar with. Ginseng has trended in and out of fashion in the Western world, but in Traditional Chinese Medicine it has long been a powerful tool for reducing stress, anxiety, and mental fatigue.

There are many recent studies available that demonstrate ginseng’s status as one of the powerful adaptogens for stress reduction. Here are just a few:

  • A 2003 study on rats found ginseng to be an effective strategy against chronic stress.(5)
  • A 2010 study on a group of thirty human volunteers showed ginseng improved calmness.(6)
  • A 2013 meta-analysis of both human and animal studies found ginseng to be an effective “actoprotector,” which means it can increase mental and physical performance. The meta-analysis authors suggested ginseng deserved further research regarding its ability to influence mental work capacity.(7)

Note: because ginseng can also be a natural energy-booster, it can be an effective way to kick a caffeine habit and switch to something more beneficial.

3. Reishi Mushroom

Reishi mushrooms have been used therapeutically for over two thousand years because of the multitude of benefits this mushroom imparts.

In China, reishi mushrooms are considered to symbolize “success, well-being, divine power, and longevity.” (8) On a more practical level, reishi mushrooms are a good source of all nine essential amino acids. (9) This means reishi can assist with muscle growth and recovery, hormonal balance, antibody production, and more—all things that can help us recover from stress and fight it off to begin with.

Reishi has also proven effective in fighting fatigue from various sources. A 2005 study conducted on neurasthenia sufferers—a condition that results in chronic fatigue, irritability, headaches, and more—found consuming reishi resulted in a significant improvement in their symptoms. (10) Another human study found reishi reduced fatigue and improved quality of life in breast cancer patients. (11)

4. Rhodiola Rosea

The adaptogens in rhodiola come from the roots of the plant. Rhodiola is good both for regulating mood and improving cognitive function.

A 2008 study published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine demonstrated that participants experienced a significant improvement in their generalized anxiety disorder. (12) And a 2009 study from the Journal of Ethnopharmacology (conducted in a laboratory and using neither humans nor animals) showed that rhodiola roots possessed “potent anti-depressant activity” due to its ability as an MAO inhibitor. (13)

For the most effectiveness, take rhodiola first thing in the morning before you eat.

5. Ashwagandha

While this root has long been prescribed in India for a wide range of issues—everything from inflammation to insomnia—modern science does indeed back up ashwagandha’s claims to positively impact our stress level.

According to a study published in the Indian Journal of Psychological Medicine, study participants’ serum cortisol levels were “substantially reduced.” (14) In this study, participants took 300 mg of high-concentration full-spectrum ashwagandha extract twice a day for sixty days.


As you can see from the diversity of the research, adaptogens are not a simple substance—but their benefits are simple to understand. By improving our immune system, reducing our cortisol, boosting our brain function, and reducing our anxiety, these seemingly “normal” herbs, roots, and mushrooms can drastically reduce our everyday stress levels.

An easy (and delicious) way to give adaptogens a try in your life is with Pique’s TCM Elixirs:

The Chaga Energy Elixir is a perfect way to begin your day. Blended with N.American ginseng and burdock root, it boosts brain function and energy—and is a great alternative to caffeine. (Or you can add it to your coffee or tea, if you’d like!)

The Reishi Calm Elixir is a great way to complete your day. Drinking it in the evenings can help you wind down from work while it also supports your immune system, combats stress, and regulates your mood.

No matter which adaptogens for stress reduction you decide to try, get ready to feel less anxious and more balanced. Both science and traditional medicines tell us this is true. It’s amazing how many benefits such a simple substance can bring to our lives.

Thanks again to Dr. Jason Fung for his post today. Questions about adaptogens for stress management? Share them below. Have a great week, everybody.


1. https://ift.tt/2gSEtcG

2. https://ift.tt/32fqXoL

3. https://ift.tt/2NIFhmE

4. https://ift.tt/2tytwo8

5. https://ift.tt/2NFGjzv

6. https://ift.tt/2dIKZDA

7. https://ift.tt/2n7g6ZK

8. https://ift.tt/2e49c4R

9. https://ift.tt/2NJGry5

10. https://ift.tt/2fqBR4k

11. https://ift.tt/2sbtApV

12. https://ift.tt/2gWLGHe

13. https://ift.tt/2NHhDqw

14. https://ift.tt/2cx9Fbs


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You Can’t Have It All

you can't have it all // katheats.com

Today I’d like to revisit a topic I first wrote about five years ago: The Boxed Lunch, Or You Can’t Have It All. I’ve been thinking a lot about this concept of mindful eating at special occasions (or everyday occasions!) lately as I find myself once again mindlessly (that’s the key word!) partaking in all of the courses – apps, drinks, a big dinner, dessert. Because it is normal. Because everyone else is doing it. Because I’m a grown up and it’s fun to partake.

I previously wrote:


It hadn’t occurred to me that one should choose which of those foods and drinks to have on a special occasion. As an adult, I figured everyone was supposed to have little of everything.

This was my healthy tipping point and the start of the path to reaching a normal, healthy weight over a year later. It was the start of more mindful eating.

What my aunt said is true: if you do have appetizers, the bread basket, a few cocktails, a rich entrĂ©e and dessert, you’re absolutely going to eat more than your body needs in one evening.

I think everyone should regularly overeat.

It’s part of enjoying life. But “regularly” is dependent on the squiggly line effect. And what defines a special occasion? What happens if “regularly” is every weekend? Twice a week? Every night? I am thankful to have great friends who throw lots of parties. I have the opportunity to overindulge quite often and that is a privilege. But if we’re being honest, it means that every other night can’t be a special occasion.

I’m still up a little bit of weight since having Birch. And per the squiggly line, I need my downs to happen more than my ups if I want that to change. Lately I’ve felt like there have been a lot of ups, even on weeknights at home. I can’t remember the last time I didn’t have at least something small for dessert. Lunch dessert has become a thing. I look for any reason to celebrate, and that often involves food and drink.

Weight Change Starts With The Extras

I have long thought about my own diet that my weight goes up and down not because of what I’m eating for my three meals but based on what I’m adding to those meals. My meals are generally pretty balanced, nutrient dense, and consistent. But my snacks, drinks, desserts, apps, etc. is what tends to fluctuate depending on what’s going on and what habits I am in at home. Weeks when I don’t snack much or have any good desserts in the house feel very healthy and vice versa.

So my goal over the next few months is to focus on the extras. Everything that goes in between meals, on top of meals, and after meals. I need to learn to say “no thank you” to extras that I’m not totally craving and choose some – but not all – to fully enjoy.

You can have it all, just not all at once.

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Air Fryer Chicken Breast Recipe

This air fryer chicken breast recipe is stuffed full of delicious yumminess!

Air fryer recipes are becoming more popular these days, and for good reason. Particularly with those who enjoy clean eating foods and foods lower in fat. Air fryers are small enough to sit on your counter, and you can make delicious foods that are normally deep-fried with a fraction of the oil. Foods such as cheese sticks or fish n’ chips.

This chicken from this Air Fryer Chicken Breast Recipe still sits in the air fryer basket after just finishing the cooking cycle. Two cooked breasts sit in the basket, ready to serve.


It’s a countertop appliance that cooks pretty much exactly like a convection oven, except with a bit more “force”. The quick movement of the air circulated by the fan should mimic the crispiness of a deep fried food. Is it exactly the same result? No, not exactly. But it gets close in most cases. And considering the small amount of oil needed for most foods, it’s a far healthier option than deep frying. However, you will rarely achieve that perfect outer crisp that only a deep fryer can provide. But it’s still very tasty food that is far healthier. Plus, it’s smaller than most convection ovens which can be a bonus for counter space, but a negative for larger foods. That being said, you can buy air fryers large enough to fit a whole chicken.

The whole chicken breasts, just cooked, in this Air Fryer Chicken Breast Recipe.


As with most things, it all depends on how you use it! Basically, it’s a great way to enjoy foods that would normally be deep-fried, just without all the deep frying. It would probably be comparable to cooking something in a skillet with minimal oil. And again, it will all depend on how much oil you actually use for cooking. (In this case, just three teaspoons divided into 4 servings!)

A half of a chicken breast sits, cut side visible, on a cutting board. You can see the tomato and cheese in the middle of the breast.


Unlike a deep fryer, you do not put oil into an air fryer. Rather, you spray small amounts of oil onto the food itself just to keep it from drying out. But there is no place for oil storage, just a “basket” where you put the food in. It has holes on the bottom to keep the air flowing freely. Never cover those holes completely or your food won’t cook properly.

And overhead view of this, just cooked, Air Fryer Chicken Breast Recipe.

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Air Fryer Chicken Breast Recipe

A delicious main course straight from your air fryer! Note: Preheating is optional, I did not do it. If you decide to preheat it, set temperature at 360 degrees Fahrenheit and preheat for 3 minutes. Check the cooked chicken at 25 minutes if preheating and cook up to 3 minutes more as needed.

  • 3 tsp. olive oil
  • 8 oz. chicken breasts ((2 breasts, butterflied))
  • 1/2 tsp. dried thyme
  • 1 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1 tsp. dried basil
  • 1/2 tsp. salt ((or to your liking))
  • 1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
  • 4 oz. mozzarella cheese ((1 oz. slices, cut in half to fit))
  • 2 medium tomatoes ((sliced))
  • 8 medium fresh basil leaves ((plus more for garnish))
  1. Pat dry chicken breasts with paper towels and discard the paper towels.

  2. Rub olive oil over the chicken breasts.

  3. Add seasonings, and massage chicken to coat all of it with seasonings.

  4. Open chicken breasts, line 4 slices (2, halved), and top with about 4 slices of tomatoes and 4 basil leaves.

  5. Close chicken and seal with 4 toothpicks at the edges of chicken breasts.

  6. Repeat with other chicken breast.

  7. Spray Air Fryer basket with olive oil spray.

  8. Layer in chicken. Spray the top of chicken with olive oil spray for a beautiful golden color.

  9. Set the temperature to 360 degrees Fahrenheit and the timer for 28 minutes.

  10. When timer goes off, remove chicken from baskets, and remove toothpicks before serving.

  11. Garnish with chopped basil.

  12. Serve.

    Please note that the nutrition data given here is a ballpark figure. Exact data is not possible. The servings are set at 4. However, this could easily be 2 servings if you’re hungry.

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