Recipe: Brownie Overnight Oats

Dietitian confessions go both ways. While we’re often the ones people ‘confess’ to about eating certain junk foods, we also like to purify our minds and souls by relating our dietary ‘sins’.

You may remember that we have really loved ice cream throughout our lives, even to the point where travels to Italy were less about the architecture and more about finding the perfect gelateria (true story), but we didn’t reveal that we also grew up making (read: eating) brownies. Heaven on a dessert plate would be the two served together – brownie a la mode style. Hell would be making us choose only one to have at our last dessert. Obviously, it would be a real Sophie’s Choice situation.

As we’ve ventured into finding healthier forms of ice cream (done and done), we’ve done the same for brownies (check out our black bean version). But to have brownies for breakfast? Well, that required a little extra dietary finesse…and so we’ve created a decadent, yet healthy, version of eating brownies for the first meal of the day, or even as a snack for when sugar cravings strike. Care to partake? Here’s the recipe:

Disclosure: some of the links below are affiliate links or discount codes, meaning, at no additional cost to you, if you click through an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may make a commission.

Prep time: 5 minutes

Servings: 2

Ingredients

1 cup organic rolled oats

1 banana, mashed

1 cup non-dairy almond or hazelnut milk (DIY almond milk or the ready-made hazelnut version)

3 tbsp cocoa or cacao powder

2 tbsp chopped nuts (e.g. pecan, walnut, macademia) or nut butter

2 tbsp cacao nibs or 85% chocolate chips, optional

1 tbsp chia seeds

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Instructions

Stir together rolled oats, cocoa/cacao powder and chia seeds in a mason jar or other container with a lid. Add nuts, nibs/chocolate chips, banana, non-dairy milk, cinnamon and vanilla extract. Seal the lid and shake vigorously for about 15 seconds. Place in fridge overnight. The next morning, top with chocolate chips and/or fresh berries if you’d like. Enjoy!

Put your Money where your Mouth is

Don’t actually eat money. It’s gross, illegal, and most likely has traces of cocaine.

What we really mean is to take actions in support of your statements of opinion or belief.

There’s a saying, “show me your friends and I’ll tell you who you are.” Our friends are a reflection of who we are or who we want to be. Guess what? The same could be said for food choices and how we spend money.

And, in this case, we invite you to be curious: where do you spend your money and why?

Just as a food diary can help us make many connections, including what we eat and why, a money audit can illuminate the reasons behind why you spend money and areas where the expenditures may or may not be in your best interest.

Take a look at your most recent receipts and credit card statements. Beyond the utilities, gasoline, and other necessary expenditures, what do you see?

Multiple instances of Tim Horton’s/Starbucks/McDonald’s or other restaurant visits?

Gym membership?

Cases of wine?

During this audit, reflect on your purchases. Do they support your purported beliefs? Are you comfortable with what you see?

We all spend money on what we value.

For some, it’s Louis Vuitton handbags or flashy cars. It’s the convenience and instant-gratification of fast food. Maybe it’s paying tuition for an education or for children’s braces.

Look at where your dollars go, for it will show you what you truly value.

No one buys mascara for the coloring and lengthening of their lashes. Mascara represents how we want to feel (beautiful, attractive) and what we want to have (confidence, love).

Look at all your purchases this way. What does the Land Rover, kale, or Diet Coke represent? What does it do for you?

Is it an investment? Is it aligned with your values?

We’ve done our own audit. Curious to see? Here are top expenditures (outside of paying for housing and Uncle Sam, of course):

1. Health – luckily not medical bills; we’re talking about preventative, joyful ways of bringing in delicious and nutritious foods, quality water & supplements, organic skincare, and self-care practices that keep us healthy (e.g. online yoga; pre-COVID massages and acupuncture). Why is this a value? We heartily agree with Emerson, “the first wealth is health.” We’ve been on the other side of health and it’s painful and not pretty.

It’s not just for us. If we’re not healthy, we can’t inspire and lead others to victory. So, this is a priority.

2. Education – there’s a reason we were in college for 10+ years…we love and value learning! As an ‘eternal student’ it’s not just formal education we’ve invested in. Our money flows into books, courses and certifications in everything related to health and nutrition – including herbalism, mindset, life coaching. Once again, our investment in ourselves here pays dividends to our families, community, and clients nationwide! Another core value is to acquire knowledge, wisely distill and teach best practices to our clients.

3. Support – this is a tricky one because of our (recovering) perfectionist mindset. The idea that we *should* DIY in all areas, including growth in personal and professional areas, isn’t really helpful to us anymore (though it did serve a purpose in early days of being a freshly-minted, deeply-in-debt dietitian). The biggest change we’ve made here is not wasting time burning the midnight oil and constantly information-gathering through watching webinars and reading books while being paralyzed, wondering how best to take action. We’ve hired multiple coaches this year for personal and professional development. Why?

Just like our clients, we don’t want to ride the cheap, smelly Struggle Bus for long hours to reach our destination only to arrive irritable, confused, and burnt out. Instead, we’re willing to pay more to fly first-class in order to arrive faster and to have a more luxury experience (seats that convert into beds, food from culinary experts) that leaves us refreshed, clear-headed, and ready for adventure.

Though we’ve consistently had a health coach since 2006, this year we’ve invested in TWO. Why? Because as our business has grown and we serve more clients, from a deeper and higher level, we need to ensure we are also nourishing ourselves with sleep, food, and mindfulness practices so that we keep our ‘glow’ and energy up. These investments in professional experts yield short-term benefits and, continuously compounded, provide long-term advantages.

Anyone looking at our financial statements would be able to tell that these are our top values.

Where did your dollar bills land?

Gently explore your money audit, without judgment. Choose one thing to improve. Tell us: how will YOU put your money where your mouth is?

She’s a Superstar!

Have you ever felt hopeless over a health condition? Or believed that the weight gain and symptoms you were experiencing were random or just ‘a part of the aging process’? It’s time to challenge these thoughts; there is hope in exploring one of the last modalities often turned to – nutrition – and yet, as you’ll read below, it played a huge part in healing, weight loss, and improving blood sugar regulation. It has been a pleasure in helping Sherri uncover common, ‘healthy’ foods that were tied to some uncomfortable and distressing symptoms.

“The symptoms in my throat have improved, including getting rid of the globus feeling and acid reflux symptoms. I have lost 45 pounds, have more energy, and I’m having fewer neurological symptoms. I feel healthier overall and I feel like I am making better food choices and have fewer unhealthy food issues like stress-eating or over-indulging in unhealthy foods. I went from having a 7.1 A1C to a 5.6 A1C without any medications just diet and increased steps a day. 🙂

I like the fact that you truly listen and that you believe me when I describe my symptoms. I also feel like you care about me and want me to succeed. I think you are creative and empowering and I enjoy talking with you.

I feel like I have embraced trying foods I may have never considered before. Aside from arugula and kale, I didn’t eat many greens. I also would have never known about certain high-fiber foods or the importance of looking for non-GMO and organic foods. I also never considered how much better I would feel eating gluten-free.

I tell everyone I know that working with a dietician was what helped me feel better. Last time I saw my doctor he told me keep working with the dietician because it’s working. :)”

Thanks for all you do!!

– Sherri G.

Columbus, OH

———–

Superstar Sherri has met her 6 month goals and has really taken her MRT Food Sensitivity test results and LEAP protocol to heart. She expressed early on how her problems with her throat were threatening to ruin her relationship with food. Though it wasn’t easy, tracking symptoms in her food diary and following her LEAP protocol helped her figure out how to ‘reset’ when things went wrong, and to see foods that were ‘friendly’ to her. We didn’t just talk about food though – we explored personal hygiene products for damaging ingredients and even air quality in the home (radon is an issue in Ohio). As Sherri said in our most recent session, “it confirms that I didn’t need a pill, I just needed a change in my lifestyle. We are killing ourselves with the food we eat.” Luckily, we can also help our bodies heal with the foods we eat.

Ready to look at your health issues and goals with a 4-dimensional approach? Schedule your complimentary, 20-minute Discovery Call.

💧 Is Your Water Safe? 🥤

isyourwatersafe

With many resolutions around improving health in the new year, one of the specific goals people mention is to “drink more water.” While that is a foundational aspect, you might want to consider first the quality of the water you’re drinking before you increase the quantity. Why?

Water’s unique properties and qualities are what make it essential to us. It helps the human body use minerals and nutrients so that we can:

  • Digest food and eliminate waste products
  • Oxygenate our blood
  • Manufacture hormones and neurotransmitters in the brain
  • Lubricate our joints as well as protect our brain and spinal cords.

Water is essential for the body’s tiny cells so that they can grow and perform their specialized functions.

The human body’s percentage of water will vary due to age, sex, and body composition. Babies and toddlers have higher percentages of water (65-78%) than adult males (60%) and females (55%). Obese individuals bodies will be a lower percentage of water, because fat tissue doesn’t contain as much of it as lean tissue does.

Water Drinking Guidelines

How much water your body needs will depend upon your age, sex, activity level, and living location (you’ll likely need to drink more water in the desert of Arizona than Alaska). On average, men are advised to get 3 liters of water per day and women 2.2 liters; however, remember that all of this doesn’t have to come from drinking it, as we can also get water from some of the foods we eat.

Too much water can cause minerals imbalances and disrupted sleep. Too little can lead to feelings of hunger and sugar cravings and can cause dehydration, fatigue, poor digestion, skin breakouts, and headaches.

So now we know why water is so important to our bodies and roughly the percentage of water our bodies contain. We also understand the importance of hydration; however, have you considered what you’re hydrating with? If it’s with tap water, bottled, a lightly purified version, or something fancier and carbonated, you’ll want to read on.

Water Safety & Quality

While we’d all like to believe that the water coming out of our faucets is from the purest of mountain springs, that simply is not the case. As you’ll see, the water we drink is fraught with potential peril.

Tap water is the most readily available source, but it may not always be the safest option. While some cities have very good purification systems, others may leave traces of chlorination byproducts, agricultural runoff, lead, chemicals and bacteria.

As a starting point, research your city’s Consumer Confidence Report; it is distributed each year by the Environmental Protection Agency. It may not have all the information you’d want to see, but it can alert you to get further testing and to see if additional home water purification is imperative.

Should I be concerned if my water has fluoride in it?

Even though there’s a ‘legal limit’ to set for fluoride, the water you drink, especially from the tap, may contain 5x more than what is healthy.  It’s tempting to think that fluoride is regulated by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) and therefore has undergone the same testing that medicine do; however, it is isn’t regulated by the FDA and hasn’t been rigorously tested. Stay tuned and check out Fluoride: Cavities & Hypothyroidism to learn more.

Some things to know about our water if you’re living in Columbus, Ohio:

  1. Remember the movie Erin Brockovich? Guess what, we have had the same cancer-causing chemical  in our water.
  2. This year, The Columbus Dispatch revealed the highest ‘forever chemical’ content found in our water sample was perfluorobutyrate (PFBA) at 4.8 parts per trillion.

What to do if you want Safer Water

Disclosure: some of the links below are affiliate links or discount codes, meaning, at no additional cost to you, if you click through an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may make a commission.

Since it seems easier to control what you do with the water inside of your home than to enact city- and state-wide change, here are some options to consider:

1. Distilled water. Distillation is a process consisting of boiling water which has been found to remove impurities and toxins. However, some believe the naturally occurring minerals in non-distilled water are beneficial to our health.

2. Bottled water. Most homes get their water from their local water supply company (others often use well water) and, if they aren’t drinking the tap water, they are buying cases of bottled water. Is that really safer? Sometimes bottled water is not from a spring, but it’s tap water that has been purified. Also, there is the issue of plastics leaching into the water and the environmental impact. You may want to consider if the company who is selling your bottled water fits your values (vote with your dollars accordingly).

3. Carbon filters. The carbon filter in many of the refrigerators and pitchers people use will clean up some of the chlorine and improve taste and odor. That’s about it though; these filters don’t typically remove the chemicals and heavy metals that can be present.

4. Reverse osmosis filtration. This is the next step up, and one of the best options. There’s typically a pre-filter to remove sediment and then the reverse osmosis membrane has such tiny holes that only pure water can get through. There are options for re-mineralizing water and alkalizing it through ion-exchange. See the RKIN Reverse-osmosis water filtration systems we tested and use in this video. The counter top version is great for portability; for larger families, the whole-house reverse osmosis system is a good option. Remember to get 10% off your order.

Bottom line

Water filters can help remove contaminants and environmental toxins that enter our water systems.

Keep in mind, it’s easier to remove contaminants from the water we drink than it is to remove them once they’ve been absorbed and assimilated into the body.

One of the simplest actions we can take is to ensure we are drinking high-quality water, and enough of it.

Minimalism vs. Essentialism for 2021

What do you think when you hear the word “minimalism”? A way of life only for hipsters traveling the world with their laptops and backpacks? People living in tiny homes? It may surprise you to learn that, for one to be a minimalist, it doesn’t require you to be a cool-hat-wearing twenty-something, own less than 200 items or make YouTube videos about minimizing your closet.

Perhaps you can relate. If your twenties were all about trying new hobbies, identities, styles and outfits, there’s a good chance that you’ve accumulated *things* to go along with those. What happens in your 30s and 40s? If you’ve chosen a mate, had kids, have a steady job, and have settled into who and where you are right now, there is a good chance you’re surrounded by annoying or aspirational reminders of who you once were. Ten years ago you may have been dating a rock climber and, at the time, you needed the gear. Same goes for things you once loved but don’t anymore – rollerblading, embroidery patterns, cookbooks with laborious recipes, the guitar sitting in the corner – and make you feel guilty. That size 2 little black dress looked great on you during your dancing days, but now that you’ve gained 20 lbs, it hangs around waiting for you to be able to wear it again. One day.

Part of the problem which our possessions is that we have become inured to their presence. We don’t *see* the rollerblades we’ve passed in the garage over a thousand times. It’s like we have blinders on and so, in a way, minimalism is about bringing awareness back to what we own and why. It also encourages us not to delay and procrastinate in making decisions for some designated time ‘in the future.’

The average household is said to have over 300,000 items; does that seem accurate to you? Do you feel it is a bit excessive? Maybe it’s time to put your house on a diet.

While we’ve stopped short of counting everything we own, over the past 6 years or so, we’ve counted and cataloged our way through purges of household items (with questions such as: “do two people in a household really need 45 glasses/cups/mugs?”). For this year, one of our goals was to remove 2020 items from our household – roughly 168 items each month. Every single item was written down to help keep track and to see if we actually regretted removing it from the household.

Surprise! Most of it is not missed at all – not our third spatula, the ill-fitting shirt, knick-knacks, expired supplements or makeup. The beauty is that each room is easier to keep tidy and clean. The clothes in the closet have space to breathe and don’t fall on top of the person looking to get dressed.

Minimalism and essentialism are both related to intentional living. Where they differ is operating in the physical versus mental realms of life improvement.

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DIY Hippie Granola

Mr. Chef recently ordered granola and seeing it was a reminder of how we miss the crunchy grain-seed-sweet mixture of it all. What we don’t miss are ingredients that include questionable vegetable oil sources and excess sugar. The good news is that it’s possible to have the best of both worlds – a delectable, crunchable mixture AND have it be higher in fiber and protein from ethical, whole food sources. We made a fresh batch today and are sharing the recipe with you. Go with the flow and have some granola-y, groovy mornings. Can you dig it?

Prep time: 15 minutes, cook time: 40-45 minutes

Makes about 6 cups

Ingredients

2 1/2 cups rolled oats

2 cups chopped (or sliced) almonds

1 cup shredded coconut

1/2 cup maple syrup

1/2 cup olive oil

1/2 cup dried fruit such as raisins or goji berries

1/4 cup hemp seeds

2 Tbsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp salt

Instructions

Preheat oven to 275 degrees Fahrenheit. Mix oats, almonds, coconut, cinnamon, and salt in a large bowl then add olive oil and maple syrup. Use rimmed baking sheet and spread mixture out evenly. Bake about 40-45 minutes, stirring every 10-15 minutes, until golden and toasted. About 30 minutes in, add hemp seeds and goji berries to bake for the last 10 minutes. Allow to cool completely and transfer to airtight container. It should keep (if the delicious granola even makes it this long :D) for about 2 weeks.

Water Wars: Bugs & Politics

In 2017, 5.3 billion people drank water from safe sources – meaning local water sources that were readily available and free from contaminants, while 2.2 billion people were drinking from water sources that weren’t managed safely.

The following numbers are provided by the World Health Organization (WHO) regarding water sources and accessibility:

1.4 billion people have basic services, meaning an improved water source located within a round trip of 30 minutes & 206 million people with limited services, or an improved water source requiring more than 30 minutes to collect water

435 million people taking water from unprotected wells and springs & 144 million people collecting untreated surface water from lakes, ponds, rivers and streams.

Drinking water that is not treated properly and poor sanitation practices is associated with several diseases including cholera, diarrhea, dysentery, hepatitis A, typhoid and polio. Let’s take a look at this more specifically. What’s in the water that can lead to disease?

Cholera– caused by ingesting Vibrio cholerae found in water or food items that have been contaminated by feces from a person infected with Cholera. Cholera can also result from eating raw or undercooked shellfish.

Rotavirus is the leading cause of diarrhea. Most of the germs that cause diarrhea are spread through drinking water or eating food contaminated with feces.

Dysentery – often caused by Shigella species (bacillary dysentery) or Entamoeba histolytica (amoebic dysentery), dysentery can be diagnosed when an individual is exposed to water and food that has been contaminated by with feces. Additionally, a person can be diagnosed with dysentery when touching human or animal feces without washing their hands in an appropriate manner.

Hepatitis A – a disease characterized by inflammation of the liver, it is caused by eating food or water contaminated with feces. Moreover, Hepatitis A can be caused by inadequate sanitation and poor personal hygiene.

Typhoid Fever – caused by Salmonella typhi bacteria, this is a significant health threat for children in developing nations. Although it is rare in countries with modern water quality improvement infrastructures in place, typhoid can also spread through contaminated food and water or through close contact with an infected individual.

Polio – yet another illness that can result from water and food contaminated with feces. It can also be passed through direct contact with someone who has the virus already. Untreated polio can lead to nerve injury and ultimately paralysis. Polio has largely been eradicated in the world due to modern medicine.

Global & Local

Surely safe drinking water is largely an issue in for other countries; the U.S. doesn’t have these problems, right? Wrong! 4.32 million cases of acute gastrointestinal illness occur each year due to drinking water from public drinking water systems. This number does not include the number of illnesses that arise out of private wells, recreational water, etc.

There is still a lot of research being done to understand the full extent of waterborne illness in our country. Waterborne illness symptoms look different depending on the virus or bacteria involved, including gastrointestinal symptoms (vomiting, diarrhea, stomachache), respiratory illness (coughing, shortness of breath, pneumonia), wound infections, and infections involving the ears, eyes, and skin. With that said, research about water quality are of the utmost importance. Our adult bodies consist of 60% water, and we need water to survive.

Water Politics

At a certain point, there may not be enough water to sustain life on this planet. Governments and corporations have been working together and suggesting that water privatization is the best solution for this problem. Is it? Maybe. Maybe not. As more public sources of water are sold or ‘rented out’ to corporations, some are sounding alarms. Water is a precious commodity and, as a commodity, its price can fluctuate. Corporations may be able to raise prices on this essential nutrient and control who is able to obtain it. In other words, water may end up going to the highest bidder. On the this side of the debate are also those who say that water is a human right and should be universally available, not just for those at a higher income level.

Chocolate & Banana Nice Cream 🍨

My guilty pleasure recently has been Ben & Jerry’s The Tonight Dough” our early morning client mentioned. “I think I need to break up with it though. I love the flavor but I don’t like how it makes me feel afterwards.”

We get it. Sometimes the foods we love taste good on the tongue and then hit us a bit later with a painful stomachache or bloating. Since we are on Team Ice Cream, we have learned to find, and make, better options.

It may be late summer, but it’s never too late for ice cream, in our humble opinion. What’s even better is when the ice cream loves you back – and for clients with lactose-intolerance or dairy protein sensitivity, or those who just want a healthier option, this is a recipe for you.

Oh, and for those of you who remember Smucker’s Magic Shell – you can have your own chocolate syrup that transforms into a crispy topping. Ready, set, let’s make!

Ingredients

1.5 bananas (ripe bananas are sweeter)

1/4 cup cashews

1/2 tbsp of maple syrup (optional)

3/4 ounce of chocolate (a few squares, depending on the brand)

Dash of sea salt

Instructions

Peel the ripe bananas and stick them in a bag and into the freezer. It will take about 12 hours for it to fully freeze, so this will either have to be planned in advance or keep a nice stock of peeled bananas for when the craving strikes. Stick chocolate pieces in a double boiler to melt down. When the bananas are frozen, put them into the blender along with cashews, and maple syrup. Blend until smooth, crystalline consistency. Transfer to a bowl and carefully pour melted chocolate on top. Sprinkle a dash of sea salt and enjoy this decadent dessert!

In the Client Spotlight

client spotlight of recognition

“I was a little nervous that maybe you wouldn’t be very patient or understanding if I struggled with making some of the changes to my diet and lifestyle. Luckily, that hasn’t been the case at all!

  • I have lost weight
  • I have improved my body composition
  • I have not had any more kidney stones *knock on wood*

I don’t dread seeing you like I would dread going to the doctor. You’re very friendly and easy to talk to! You’re extremely knowledgeable and I like that you give me background information about the foods. The recipes you give me are always quick, easy, and yummy! You’re also very understanding if I struggle with a certain area and try to come up with new ways to approach it that might work better for me. You’re also interested in aspects of my life outside of food.”

Results:

  • I’m trying all kinds of new foods and recipes!
  • I’m doing a better job at seeing connections between the foods I eat and how I feel after eating them
  • I’m more conscious of food labels. Even though something might look healthy or be vegan it might actually be loaded with sugar, etc.
  • I’m better about getting in bed early.
  • I’m doing a better job at handling skepticism about my vegan diet from others.
  • I’m more informed about a variety of issues such as GMOs and political intervention in the food industry
  • I have developed new methods of handling my stress.

“I think many people are uninformed or misinformed about nutrition. Obviously, many people struggle with weight. I’ve been spending more time at the hospital recently because of my kidney stones and I’m always surprised by how many people are there. It definitely makes me wonder if some of their issues could have been prevented/improved by making different dietary choices. I think many lives could be improved by seeing a dietitian rather than just automatically turning to medication or just accepting their situation and not doing anything at all.

I would recommend YOU in particular because I think you’re really fun, knowledgeable, down-to-earth, and you really care about your clients!

If they [people] allow themselves to be open to new experiences and are receptive to your advice then this can really be life-changing! This is a great way to invest in yourself – this experience has really added a lot of value to my life!

You’re just all-around awesome and I’ve really enjoyed working with you!”

H.R., Foundations of Health Graduate


Update:

We followed up with this amazing client and our work together from two years ago. Here’s what she wrote:

“I’m happy to report that I still haven’t had any more kidney stone incidents and rarely get sick anymore! I think both are mainly attributable to my healthier eating habits so I’m very thankful for you helping me find my way with that :)”

She has really made our work together the foundation of her life and is reaping the benefits, years later. This is a beautiful part of our mission of empowering others to live at a higher level. We are grateful for the trust you put in us and the process.

Blame it on the Alcohol?

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Image source: pixabay.com

Jamie Foxx’s song “Blame it” encourages blaming alcohol for all ruined relationships, unsafe situations, and perceived enhancement of other’s attractiveness. Outside of the many issues and poor decisions can that can result from a night of boozing, including a high credit card bill, higher risk for accidents, and even a 2am Taco Bell run…there are more. During Covid-19, some are hitting the wine and beer harder.

Let’s review the basics: alcohol interferes with communication between nerve cells and all other cells in the body. Moderation (the amount considered to not contribute to any major health concerns) for the average woman is defined by the CDC as not more than one drink per day and for the average man as not having more than two.

A study published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics asserts, “there has been an increase in the proportion of US adults who drink on any given day and an increase in calories consumed from alcoholic beverages when drinking occurs.”

What effect is this having on us from a weight loss perspective? Or a liver-health one?

Now we appreciate the humor some of you bring to our appointments:

“I think I’m drinking enough water. There’s water in beer, right?”

“I’m not too concerned. It’s called a liver, not a die-er”

“Wine-o? Maybe; I prefer ‘wine-yes'”

With alcoholic beverages being among the top five contributors to total caloric intake among US adults, this is something we need to talk about. But beyond calories, here are more reasons to explore your relationship with alcohol:

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