The Wellness Kitchenista


Physician Assistant, Certified Culinary Medicine Specialist, AAPA Nutrition Fellow, TV Host, On-Air Guest Expert, Emmy Award Winner

Jessica’s social media content is relatable and easy to understand – plus, she makes everything fun! Her posts have encouraged me to try new recipes – and I’ve learned a lot about various wellness topics through the resources she recommends. I love seeing her posts and videos in my feeds! 

Jennifer M.




The Wellness Kitchenista Workshop

What is Culinary Medicine?

Culinary Medicine is a practice that combines science-based nutrition principles, medical interventions, and culinary arts. 

As a physician assistant, I’ve seen firsthand how powerful and influential our daily lifestyle choices are on chronic disease, quality of life, mental health, and lasting wellness.

Understanding how food may affect you and which foods are right for you, given your health history and wellness goals, empowers you to take an active role in your own health and wellness. 

The field of culinary medicine has been steadily growing in popularity. There are various programs throughout the country geared to educating practitioners on how best to support and guide patients through the tenets of culinary medicine. In 2019, Jessica completed her certification as a Certified Culinary Medicine Specialist from the Goldring Center for Culinary Medicine at Tulane University, now the American College of Culinary Medicine.

Using this certification and 14+ years of clinical practice as a physician assistant, Jessica educates and inspires individuals through The Wellness Kitchenista platform.

What is The Wellness Kitchenista?

Led by Jessica DeLuise, MHS, PA-C, CCMS, The Wellness Kitchenista is an inspiring and educational platform. Our mission is to share tools, tips, and ideas with our community through:

  • cooking classes and workshops
  • live events 
  • free resources 
  • recipes
  • shopping lists
  • CPR training
  • content creator and speaker workshops
  • social media community
  • and MORE!
What is MyPlate?

MyPlate is an easy-to-follow diagram created by the USDA in 2011. MyPlate replaced the previously used ‘food pyramid.’ This diagram offers guidance to Americans for building a nutrient-dense meal with quality ingredients. In addition to the USDA, both Harvard University and The American Diabetes Association have their own plate diagrams and guidance. 

I hear so much about people eating gluten-free. Is it something I should consider?

You may have heard friends or colleagues state they are eating a “gluten-free” diet … or have seen entire grocery store sections or restaurant menus dedicated to gluten-free items. And you may wonder, ‘Should I be eating a gluten free diet?’ 

Here is what you need to know. 

First, what the heck is gluten? Gluten is a protein found in a variety of grains, such as wheat or barley. Items that contain gluten include malt, breads, cakes, desserts, food thickeners or additives, protein bars, crackers, seasoning blends, condiments, and many others. Gluten may even be present by cross contamination with gluten-containing items on restaurant work surfaces and deep fryers. 

In my experience, elimination of gluten from the diet is usually due to one of two main reasons. First, in an effort to reduce or resolve symptoms someone may be experiencing. Or second, because there is a misunderstanding about gluten-containing items and the effect they may have on weight gain or health status. I will explain both below in a little more detail and then offer some ways I can support you. 

Reactions to gluten are very real. For some people, gluten may trigger symptoms of bloating, upset stomach, migraine headaches, and even as severe as intestinal damage in those who have Celiac disease. If you experience any symptoms you believe may be related to gluten or are otherwise unexplained, you should seek medical attention as soon as possible. I have outlined three reactions you may experience to gluten below. 

If you are not experiencing symptoms, but rather, have chosen to eliminate or are considering eliminating gluten – keep reading. In my experience, the protein gluten has become synonymous with “processed food.” To that end, many people believe that items without gluten are better for overall wellness. Additionally, many people assume because it is gluten-free, it is also free from carbohydrates, additives, or sugar. This is not the case! Let’s look at gluten-free pasta as an example. Per cup of standard, wheat spaghetti, there are 200 calories, 1g fat, 42g carbs, 2g fiber, 2g sugar, and 7g protein. In the gluten-free variety from the same company, where corn is used instead of wheat, there are 190 calories, 1g fat, 44g carbs, 2g fiber, 0 sugar, and 4g protein. You can see the nutrition profiles are quite similar. This tends to be similar with other gluten-free items as well. Also, gluten-free cookies, cakes, or snacks still contain refined fats and sugars. “Gluten-free” does not necessarily equal “better for you.” But, if you decide to switch from refined pasta and bread to a whole grain variety in an attempt to include more whole foods in your diet – WONDERFUL! According to an article by Harvard Health, as compared to refined grains, whole grains provide more fiber, B vitamins, and antioxidants. 

Three Common Gluten-Related Reactions:  

  1. Celiac Disease – Celiac disease is an autoimmune disease. This means the body is triggered by gluten and creates an immune response directed toward one’s own tissues. Celiac disease is the only autoimmune disease with a known trigger. Symptoms of celiac disease vary and can present differently. They include stomach pain, bloating, change in bowel movements, headaches, infertility, low nutrition, body aches, amongst others. A serum blood test and a small bowel biopsy are the most accurate forms of diagnosis. Prolonged and untreated celiac disease can cause damage to the intestinal lining. Treatment is patient specific and may include nutrition supplementation and removing gluten from the diet. There are many trusted organizations, like Beyond Celiac, that have great resources and info pages. 
  2. Wheat Allergy – A wheat allergy is an allergic reaction to wheat proteins. This allergic reaction is histamine-mediated, similar to other foods allergies like peanuts or shellfish. Treatment includes avoidance of wheat and may include carrying an EpiPen in the event there is allergen exposure. 
  3. Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity – This gluten reaction may be the most confusing of all! Some individuals report reactions when eating gluten but it isn’t autoimmune or allergy mediated. We don’t actually know why this is but have a few hypotheses. (1) It may be a symptom of irritable or inflammatory bowel disease. (2) It could be a reaction to another ingredient in the food item. (3) It may be an intolerance to modern day wheat strains, that are faster growing to serve food markets. (4) It could be from a shortened length of production of breads due to quick-rising yeast that doesn’t allow gluten and other proteins to break down. (5) There may be added herbicides and pesticides.

I always advise to speak with your health care practitioner before you make any changes.

What are some tips to make eating at restaurants more healthful without depriving myself?

Here are a few tactics I use when I eat at restaurants:

  1. I make sure it isn’t my first meal of the day! Many people fast all day long in anticipation for the meal, then end up overindulging at dinner. I have breakfast and lunch and drink enough water throughout the day so I am not ravenous when I arrive at the restaurant. 
  2. I limit alcohol consumption. One drink for women and two drinks for men per day is the limit we recommend as practitioners to otherwise healthy individuals over the age of 21 years. Anything more increases risk for disease or side effects. Additionally, alcohol limits your inhibitions, making it more difficult to listen to your body’s hunger and fullness cues. Always discuss how much alcohol consumption is right for you with your healthcare practitioner.
  3. If I order an appetizer, I try to choose broth-based soups, garden salads, or lean protein, like a seared ahi tuna. These items contain fiber, lean protein, vegetables, and antioxidants so I know I am getting nutritious items! Additionally, veggies and soups have water that hydrate me and stave hunger pangs, so I can then enjoy my meal and eat with more mindfulness and intention. 
  4. I ask for olive oil and vinegar instead of dressing, which is often laden with processed oils, sodium, added sugar, or other preservatives and additives. I enjoy it just as much (I’ve been known to drink the vinegar at the bottom of the bowl at home!) If you prefer dressing, ask the restaurant to add your dressing on the side. Add 1-2 tbsp and toss together. Studies show when you toss the dressing into the salad, rather than dunking with each bite, overall you use less dressing! 
  5. For my main meal, I often look for the main protein to be grilled, baked, broiled, or seared, as opposed to fried. If I really want something fried, I go for it because it isn’t something that I eat on a regular basis. In my opinion, it’s all about moderation and feeling satisfied, not restricted.
  6. Instead of mashed or creamed potatoes, I opt for a baked potato. I find the butter and cream added to previous preparations tends to sit ‘heavily’ in my belly and causes me some GI upset, which is a no-no at a business dinner! Instead, I eat carbohydrates in their whole food form and add butter and salt at the table. It isn’t about resurrection but rather knowing what makes me feel energized and satisfied! 
  7. When dinner arrives, I remember mindful eating practices and I listen to my body. For me, the portions at restaurants are HUGE and way more than I can comfortably eat. So I generally eat half. If, after that, I listen to my body and still feel hungry, I will eat more. But usually, I feel satisfied and comfortable, so I wrap the other half to go. Then I have leftovers for lunch the next day!
  8. After dinner, I like to enjoy a cup of coffee or tea. This ritual feels like a “close” to a meal. If I am craving something sweet, I often split a dessert. Half of anything chocolate is good for my sweet tooth! If there isn’t someone to split with or it’s a professional meeting, I use the ‘eat half-listen to my body-eat or wrap the rest’ method, just like with dinner. 
  9. I never beat myself up. The thing is, life is LIFE! Of course, I try my best to make choices I know my physical body will love, but it is also important to indulge my mental health. No matter what I decide to eat, I eat it and MOVE ON. I don’t ruminate about it or feel guilty. NO WAY! I am healthy and I feel good. All I can do is my best. RIGHT?? RIGHT!

Your individual choices should be discussed with your healthcare practitioner.

Definitely. I encounter may people who complain about bloating. The tricky part is that even though bloating is very common, it is not very specific. This means there are multiple causes for bloating, including potential fatal causes – keep reading!

I often recommend starting with a food diary. This exercise alone can sometimes help you tease out the cause for bloating. If you can’t discern the cause on your own, then you will at least have some information to bring to a dietitian or healthcare practitioner. In the diary, it is important to log EVERYTHING: food intake, chewing gum, drinks, sleep, stress level, bowel movements – everything! All of this will be pertinent to figuring out the cause of the bloating. 

Some common food causes of bloating may be food intolerance or sensitivity, IBS, stress, irregular bowel movements, sleep disturbances, artificial sweeteners, menses, or eating processed foods. Bloating may also be a sign of something more severe, like inflammatory bowel disease, liver disease, or even certain cancers. It is important never to brush off bloating as “no big deal.” If it is, in fact, no big deal, let a professional tell you so after a full evaluation and examination. SAFETY FIRST!


Be the first to know about a new recipe creation, details for the next fun event or class and get your monthly dose of The Wellness Kitchenista!

The Wellness Kitchenista, Jessica DeLuise, MHS, , PA-C, CCMS

Enter your info below to download your FREE Pantry List & Cookbook!

Privacy Policy