The Science of Sugar


Let's have a science lesson and as a bonus you'll get a delicious recipe!
This smoothie is packed with goodness in flavor and nutrition but is it healthy?

It contains 717 calories, 14 grams of fat, 133 grams of carbohydrates, and 34 grams of protein. It also contains 69 grams of sugar but only 8 are added sugar, 28 grams of fiber, and various vitamins and minerals including vitamins A, B6, C, iron, calcium, and magnesium. So is it healthy or is that way too many calories, carbohydrates, and sugar?


First off, while this could be one very large and filling meal (yes a smoothie) due to its volume and richness (it tastes pretty much like a dessert) and the amount of calories and fiber, I believe it would be difficult to drink this in one sitting. It would be best to enjoy two-thirds of it as a meal and the rest for a snack later or share it with a friend as a small meal or a quite filling snack. Okay, now onto the science!

The National Academy of Sciences set the Acceptable Daily Macronutrient Range (ADMR) for a 1,800 calorie diet as approximately 55 grams of fat, 245 grams of carbohydrates, 100 grams of protein, 26 grams of fiber, and 0-30 grams of added sugar. The reason the grams of added sugar starts with zero is because added sugar serves no physiological purpose in our body and therefore we do not need any. However, added sugar is in so many things that it is known we will all have some throughout our day but the fewer added sugars we consume the better! So while I wish this recipe had zero added sugars, the fact that it only has 8 grams is not a concern. But what about the other 61 grams of natural sugar, isn't that too much?! In short, no... but if you would like a brief lesson on natural sugars keep reading!

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Natural sugars, such as the 42 grams from the bananas and the 18 grams from the dates in this smoothie recipe, come in a package that also includes water, minerals, vitamins, and most importantly fiber! The fiber helps to slow the absorption of the sugar in our bloodstream. Because the sugar is more slowly absorbed our body has time to use the sugar appropriately and as it is needed to fuel and energize our body. When we have added sugars, which are often found in processed sugary foods without much nutrient value or fiber, we get a surge of sugar in our bloodstream and because there is more than is needed to fuel our body our liver converts the excess sugar into triglycerides and then the triglycerides are stored in our fat cells. This makes our fat cells fatter and therefore us fatter. So because foods that contain natural sugars also contain fiber, foods like bananas are able to be used as energy rather than stored as fat. While there is a lot of sugar in this smoothie it is mostly naturally occurring and therefore will not result in the same unfavorable consequences (increased risk of obesity, diabetes, and heart disease) as having too much added sugar. Do you want to test out the science? Enjoy two bananas and see how you feel and later enjoy one Butterfinger candy bar and see how you feel. Each has 28 grams of sugar and approximately the same amount of calories, however, one will leave you with a short-term sugar high but not nutritionally or calorically satisfied while the other will be sweet and delicious but also calorically and nutritionally filling. When a food keeps you satisfied and full for several hours it is a good indication that it was full of fiber. I personally would be happy to enjoy two bananas for breakfast and would stay full throughout most of the morning. A Butterfinger bar, however, could not be considered a meal for me and more than likely would just leave me craving more sweet treats. Two bananas could be enjoyed as a small meal and allow you to wait awhile for your next while the a Butterfinger would only add weight to your hips and thighs!

Bonus fun fact – many studies are now showing that cinnamon also helps to slow the absorption of sugar in your bloodstream! I bet you could guess what other ingredients are in this smoothie.

Enough about sugar though, what about all the other macronutrients? Well, if you enjoyed a half or two-thirds serving of this recipe for breakfast and had a sensible lunch and dinner you could very easily fall within the National Academy of Sciences ADMR. But for fun let's say you went smoothie crazy and just wanted three of these smoothies to enjoy as your meals. The 2,151 calories you would enjoy from three smoothies fall perfectly within the recommended calories per day for a woman or man, which is 1,600–3,000. The protein, fat, and carbohydrates, would fall very close to if not right within the ADMR.

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Fat would be just slightly (6 grams) less, which is not a concern but if you are an athlete or a man and therefore should be on the higher end of all of these ranges then I may recommend adding 3 tablespoons of hemp seeds to the below recipe, which would not only add some extra fat but also protein and calories. Carbohydrates would be just a bit high, however, with a fiber intake of 84 grams from the three smoothies the slightly higher carbohydrates and natural sugars would not be an issue and would not cause a sugar spike in your bloodstream but instead keep you energized and fueled throughout the day! Now remember to drink plenty of water throughout your day because although fiber is great for various reasons including helping to keep you regular, too much fiber without enough water can well… clog you up a bit. This recipe alone adds 3 cups of water but remember to drink plenty more!

So there you go, a few fun facts and an awesome science lesson for your Friday! You now are fully informed on sugar, fiber, and the recommended and healthy ranges of all of your macronutrients. You have a gained the information now use it! Remember to read labels so that you know what you are putting into your body! Or abundantly enjoy a diet full of fresh fruits and vegetables! You don't even have to try hard or make complicated recipes and you can easily fall right within the ADMR. Cheers!

Banana Peanut Buster Parfait
3 frozen bananas
1.5 cups unsweetened almond milk
3 cups water
4 dates
2 tablespoons raw cacao powder
8 tablespoons PBfit
2 teaspoons cinnamon

This is a decadently delicious smoothie recipe. If you like things a bit less sweet than I recommend omitting the dates and perhaps using 2 tablespoons of natural peanut butter instead of the PBfit. If you have a sweet tooth this recipe is perfect just the way it is or to kick it up a notch use only one cup of water to get an even thicker consistency and then freeze and serve as chocolate peanut butter ice cream! Enjoy!

The three C's of love!

Here's a little Flashback Friday for you (although it is currently a few minutes after midnight). I wrote this in October 2013, a few months into dating Kyle and just after the "I love you" but well before engagement and marriage. I thought it was interesting to reread over it, had a few good points to remember, and was very fitting since Valentine's Day is right around the corner. Enjoy!

I’ve been told that if you do not make a conscious decision and effort to have a relationship different than your parents, you will follow in their footsteps- whether good or bad. I only believe this to be partially true. I believe relationships (dating, exclusively dating, boyfriend/girlfriend, or marriage) all require thoughtful decisions and daily effort but I believe many more relationships than just your parents’ influence you. I have seen good relationships and I have seen bad relationships. I have been a part of good relationships and I have been a part of bad relationships. I in no way am saying I am an authority on relationships but for my twenty-nine years of life and seven committed relationships I believe I have gained a bit of experience and therefore some knowledge. In my current relationship we often discuss how important it is to have good communication. Kyle is hands down the best communicator I have ever dated and it has been an essential part of our relationship. So I started thinking, what are other important qualities of a relationship? My answer- Three C’s of a successful relationship: Chemistry, Communication, and Compromise.


Chemistry is essential because without it a relationship would never begin. You must be attracted to each other. You must be drawn to talk to one another. You must give each other butterflies and warm fuzzies. Within chemistry there must also be connection because with only an initial “I think she’s hot let me go talk to her” there may be a beginning but shortly thereafter there would be an end. Your connection cannot simply be physical; that is part of it but it must be deeper. A deeper connection means you are strengthened as an individual by being with your special someone. They may make you feel grounded or full of life but either way you know you are better by being with them. And here’s the kicker- you must do the same for them.


A relationship is hard work. You must learn the other person’s preferences as well as their buttons to stay far away from. And although you may one day hope to find that “perfect” person for you, I guarantee you they will not be able to perfectly read your mind. If you do not communicate your likes and dislikes, your baggage and hurts, your history but also your hopes for the future how is your special someone supposed to know? It is hard but I believe necessary to open up, be vulnerable, and honest. Communication not only helps in cultivating the relationship but is also crucial in it’s longevity. This is because miscommunication is the downfall of most relationships. Think back to some of your biggest fights… can you even remember what started it? Many times a fight develops because one person took something the other said or did in a way not intended. The hurt feelings are not expressed and fester within often exploding out at a less than opportune time. One is thought of as insensitive and the other as passive and snippy. These petty arguments build and over time leave both parties feeling frustrated and tired. The relationship is no longer life-giving but now taxing and depleting. All this because one was not able to say “Hey, what did you mean by {insert off-color but maybe innocent comment}?” If it was innocent then the fight is over before it ever started and if it was not innocent… well, then that is probably something you two should talk about.


When having the “talks” that come with good communication you must realize you are not always right and your way is not always the best or only way. Remember to be kind a patient, always being more about love than you are about judgment. Step into the other person’s shoes and walk around a bit. Try to understand why their belief is different than yours or better yet use their belief as the starting point and try to see why yours is different. I am not saying that because you are not always right that you are always wrong. Just like everything else in life, a relationship is about balance. It will take time to find your balance and practice to keep it but along the way remember to be gentle- with others and yourself. We all have reasons for our beliefs and when they are simply disregarded in an argument we feel empty and disrespected. Instead of disregarding an opinion, try to understand it. Thoughtfully explain your side and be patient as your love tries to understand it. Hopefully with all the love, kindness, gentleness, and understanding floating around a conclusion will be made- your love will agree with you, or you with them, or maybe you will meet somewhere in the middle.


So there they are, the Three C’s of a successful relationship: Chemistry, Communication, and Compromise. Chemistry provides the initial spark, communication gives the relationship depth, and compromise keeps both feeling heard and loved. A relationship is hard work but a good relationship- the love, joy, giggles, belly laughs, hugs, sweetness, and peace- is so worth it!

09/18/13- Happy Birthday to me :)

10/13/13- Merrell 5K

10/26/13- Sleepy Beauty and Prince Phillip My Cup

12/14/13- 1st annual ugly Christmas sweater party

05/04/14- dance performance

05/05/14- 1 year anniversary- Cinco de Mayo dinner :)

07/20/14- Engagement! California trip

07/21/14- Wine country bike tour

07/22/14- Red woods hike

10/22/14- pumpkin carving

12/27/14- Skiing in Colorado (Happy Birthday Faith!)

03/07/15- Engagement photo shoot

05/22/15- Wedding day

Love him, our chemistry, communication, and compromises :)

Go Green!

Which color is missing most from the standard American diet?! Green!

Why do we care?!

Well, according to the National Cancer Institute cruciferous vegetables, which include arugula, kale, collard greens, broccoli, and Brussels sprouts “are rich in nutrients, including several carotenoids (beta-carotene, lutein, zeaxanthin); vitamins C, E, and K; folate; and minerals. They also are a good fiber source.” These delicious green vegetables once cooked and/or digested produce biologically active compounds such as indoles and isothiocyanates that “have been found to inhibit the development of cancer in several organs in rats and mice, including the bladder, breast, colon, liver, lung, and stomach.” How do these compounds help prevent cancer? Well, laboratory studies done in vivo (in animals) and in vitro (in petri dishes) have found they “help protect cells from DNA damage, inactivate carcinogens, have antiviral and antibacterial effects, have anti-inflammatory effects, can induce [cancer] cell death (apoptosis), and inhibit tumor blood vessel formation (angiogenesis) and tumor cell migration (needed for metastasis).” The link between cruciferous vegetables and cancer prevention in humans is weaker but some believe this is simply because there are other variables such as exercise, lifestyle, and genetics at play as well as the fact that it is much harder to accurately know a person’s diet and vegetable consumption. So long, scientific ramble aside, I would say it is definitely beneficial to eat more greens! Here are three tips to help you do just that!

1) Join the smoothie revolution! Enjoy a smoothie 3-5 times a week and remember that the beauty is within. This means that a smoothie of strawberries and bananas is going to be much prettier than when you add in a couple handfuls of spinach. Although it may look slightly brown/green, your body will thank you for the added vitamins and minerals. You can check out some of my favorite smoothies here. If you find one you love or simply need an accountability partner join me in posting smoothie selfies on my Facebook page!



2) Go green! I encourage you to 75% of time swap out the fried sides for some green goodness. This goes for both meals made at home and enjoyed at restaurants. I know we all love French fries but this simple change can add a wealth of beneficial micronutrients that increase your health while decreasing your waistline. Do you need some inspiration? See what choices I make daily on my Facebook page!


3) Start a love affair with salads! I love salads, really, I do. The colors, textures, flavors, mmm mmm, all so good. Try to enjoy an abundantly colorful and flavorful salad weekly. This does not mean one with fried chicken, croutons, cheese, and low-fat Ranch dressing but instead one made with arugula, spinach, tomato, cucumber, avocado, fresh basil, a drizzle of olive oil, and a dash of salt and pepper. Break the notion that the only place for a salad is on the side and enjoy it as your meal, your entire meal. This means you must make your salads large! I’m talking what you think would be for a family of four is just for you. Eat until your little heart is content. For examples you can check out my FacebookYoutube, or for my seven favorite salad recipes check out "Refresh- a 14-day food & mood makeover"!


Now get out there and enjoy your greens!

Happy 100th Birthday!

As I often do, I found myself exploring the world last night. Through the eyes of my Macbook I was able to visit Okinawa, Japan; Sardinia, Italy; Loma Linda, California; Nicoya Peninsula, Costa Rica; and my favorite Ikaria, Greece!


These five areas of the world are unique because they are all home to an unusually large population of centenarians or people who have lived to 100 years of age. Now, you may say “No way I want to live that long!” but hear me out. These people are not old and frail with seventeen medications taken daily and Alzheimer’s knocking at their door. No, these individuals are vibrant and energetic. They are happy, they have community, and purpose. They are not eating only kale in hopes to live another year. Instead most credit their age to the clean air, good wine, or as one 101 year old woman said they simply forget to die. That takes the saying “time flies when you are having fun” to a whole new level! They enjoy life and age becomes just a number.

As I read more I became inspired by the simple joys of their day. As explained in the The New York Times Magazine article, they would “wake naturally, work in the garden, have a late lunch, [and] take a nap. At sunset, they either visited neighbors or neighbors visited them.” If you live in Ikaria “at day’s end, you’ll share a cup of the seasonal herbal tea with your neighbor because that’s what he’s serving. Several glasses of wine may follow the tea, but you’ll drink them in the company of good friends. On Sunday, you’ll attend church, and you’ll fast before Orthodox feast days. Even if you’re antisocial, you’ll never be entirely alone. Your neighbors will cajole you out of your house for the village festival to eat your portion of goat meat.”


What other food do these centenarians enjoy? In general they recommend you:

  • “Stop eating when your stomach is 80 percent full to avoid weight gain.
  • Eat the smallest meal of the day in the late afternoon or evening.
  • Eat mostly plants, especially beans. And eat meat rarely, in small portions of 3 to 4 ounces. [Centenarians] eat portions this size just five times a month, on average.
  • Drink alcohol moderately and regularly, i.e. 1-2 glasses a day.”

So take home message- sleep in, work, rest, relax, eat good food, drink good wine, don’t stress over silly stuff, and enjoy simple, precious things like time with family and friends. Even if you’re not looking to live to the ripe old age of 100 these are still some great lessons to learn from your elders!


What are your thoughts? Which of the areas above seem most like home to you? Leave your comments below!

The healthiest latte ever!

I really like sweet things. I suppose that could be seen as a downfall as a Health Coach (one who should be perfect and healthy and make all the "right" decisions 100% of the time... yeah right) but I see it more as a positive. I like sweet things and so I try to come up with creative, healthful, sweet recipes.  

This drink is warm, slightly sweet, and VERY rich. It would be great on a cold winter night when you are looking for something to make you warm, cozy, and satisfy your sweet tooth.

Turmeric Latte


1 cup coconut milk 

1/2-1 cup water

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp turmeric

1/8 tsp nutmeg

Dash of cayenne pepper

Honey to taste

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Directions- Mix all the ingredients together except the water. Warm over low heat until spices are fully incorporated into the coconut milk. Add warmed water until you get your desired consistency. I added 1/2 cup of water, which gave it the richness of eggnog but the spices tasted more like a chia latte with a turmeric spin.

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So, why is this more healthful than say a traditional latte? Many of the ingredients are healthful (like the cinnamon, honey, and coconut milk) but the star of the latte is the turmeric! Due to its anti-inflammatory properties, turmeric is helpful in treating arthritis, asthma, and possibly even Alzheimer’s disease. There is also a lot of positive research looking at how turmeric may be beneficial in preventing and/or fighting cancerous cells. It also has anti-bacterial, anti-viral, and anti-fungal properties, which are helpful in fighting off a cough, cold, or possibly the flu. With all these benefits I am more than willing to add a dash here and there of turmeric and if it is into something sweet... even better :)

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Balance- eating healthy on a budget!

Everything in life is a balancing act. The two aspects of myself I have been balancing lately are my desire to eat and use the most natural and highest quality foods and products with my frugality. I fully believe in eating organically, hormone/steroid-free, and non-GMO (genetically modified organisms). Although the pesticides on one apple may not be a lot, I do not like the idea of how much we get over a lifetime of eating conventional foods. I do not want to be the guinea pig in discovering what the long-term effects are of pesticides and GMO. I believe God has given us bodies that usually work really well by themselves and I do not want to add hormones and steroids to His design However, natural, organic, free-range, and grass-fed are all key words in helping the price of products to rise.

In general, I have decided that the quality of food outweighs the added cost to purchase it. I have gotten very good about buying good quality foods for my home. Eating out can be a bit of an issue because I know the vast majority of places I eat are not organic and I do not always make the best food choices (enter the doughnuts brought in to my office yesterday). However, I am a happier person when enjoying meals with friends and family and not being so fussy about restaurants. Happiness makes me less stressed and healthier, so for now eating out is not such an issue. When my frugality starts to outweigh my food choices is when something is free.

A friend offers me a cookie… I am going to eat it (probably more than one) even if I am not hungry and know I do not need the sugar. Case in point- when flying home from vacation last month the flight attendant asked for my drink preference and I had no hesitation asking for water. I enjoy water and really did not want a soda. However, when she handed me the bag of pretzels I gladly accepted. I know pretzels are empty calories and I was not even hungry but I ate them because… well, they were free. Isn’t that silly?! I value quality foods and therefore spend more on them but when offered an airplane-sized bag of pretzels I could not politely decline. Just because something is free and therefore better for my pocket book does not mean it is better for my body. I need to be okay declining or (I cannot believe I am typing this) throwing something away that does not add to my health. 

I recently went to dinner with my husband. I filled up on the bread and salad, so when my meal came I literally had one bite. It was not the worse meal choice (cheese tortellini with spinach, artichokes, and tomatoes in a cream sauce) but it was not my usual.


Instead of throwing away the leftovers, I ate them as lunch for the next two days. Two years ago I would think I was doing great to pay for one meal but eat for three meals. Now, I think I ate pasta as lunch for two days when I really didn’t want it and normally would have had a beautiful, colorful, and tasty salad. I really do enjoy salads and I know the nutrients in them are great for my body but since I had leftovers I ate them. Maybe next time I should ask for a smaller portion- enjoy the pasta when out and choosing to eat it but not when I am simply eating it because it is there and free.  Again, I need to realize that just because the meal has already been paid for and just because I have leftovers doesn’t mean I need to eat them all. Throwing them away and making a salad with the organic produce I bought is okay and perhaps better (even though while I type this it still makes me cringe to think of throwing away food).  This realization- valuing the quality of all the food I choose to eat over getting a deal- is part of my continued journey as a person and Health Coach. I must be patient with myself and realize we are all growing and transforming, figuring out what works best for us and what are our limits. I want the best within a budget. Bit by bit I will figure out this balancing act!

Recipe video! Black Bean Burger & Parsnip Fries!

Such a flavorful recipe! I always make a big batch and eat them for a few days. Any leftovers can go in my Best every Burrito bowl recipe (also on YouTube)!

Start with either two cans of black beans or to make your own soak 1 cup of dried beans in water for 12 hours. Then rinse and cover with 6 cups of hot water. Add half an onion and 5-8 mashed cloves of garlic and bring to a boil. Simmer with lid on for 2 hours or until beans are tender.

To cooked black beans add 2/3 cup cooked sweet corn, 1/2 cup sauteed mushrooms & onions, 1/2 cup bread crumbs, 1 tsp each of garlic powder, cumin, & chili power, & salt & pepper to taste.

Form mixture into eight burgers and then sauté in 1 tablespoon of coconut oil until warmed through and browned on each side.

Top with you favorite toppings and enjoy!

For parsnip fries, slice two large parsnips and bake in a light coating of coconut oil for 20 minutes at 350 degrees.

Cravings! The top 5 reasons we have them and how to overcome them

Cravings- we all have them but what are we supposed to do with them. Do we eat the chocolate cake or say no? Many people view cravings as weakness, but really they are important messages from your stomach or heart to your brain. Cravings are not random. There are reasons we crave certain foods. When you have a craving, analyze it. Ask yourself, what does my body want and why? If the food is something your body truly needs, then eat it. If not, try to find a healthier alternative and figure out what “primary food” your body needs. Primary foods are the things that nourish you but are not found on your plate such as relationships, a rewarding career, a fulfilling spiritual life, movement, joy, and restfulness.

If you do decide to eat the chocolate cake, eat it and then move on. Don’t carry your cravings with you. Do not feel bad. Do not beat yourself up. We are all on a journey, a journey that begins with becoming more aware. More aware of what you crave and why. With more attuned awareness you may realize you’re craving the cake because you had a bad day at work and really just need to talk to a friend. Call a friend, vent, and see if your craving subsides. If you still feel like you must have the cake, have some, pay attention to how it makes you feel, catalog those insights, and move on. Here are five other reasons for cravings-

1. Water. Most Americans are chronically dehydrated. Lack of water sends a message to your brain that you are thirsty and on the verge of dehydration. Dehydration can manifest as a mild hunger, so the first thing to do when you get a craving is drink a full glass of water.

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2. Lack of nutrients. If the body has inadequate nutrients, it will produce odd cravings. If you do not have enough quality fats, proteins, and carbohydrates you can crave sugar. Inadequate minerals (from foods like dark leafy greens) can cause salt cravings. Try your best to eat fresh, colorful, whole foods, which will help to minimize these cravings and ensure you are not overfed but undernourished.

3. Childhood nostalgia. Often the foods we grew up enjoying we still enjoy today. Try to discover if is it truly the food you love or the feeling and memory it evokes. Have fun and experiment with more healthful versions that still contain all the same great flavors.

4. Like craves like. Often times, cravings come from foods that we have recently eaten. The more you eat something the more you crave it. Funny thing is, you can cause yourself to crave chocolate or crave salads. Be careful with certain foods like cheese and sugar because they have addictive properties that cause biological responses in the body, which result in cravings (give it a try- eat some sugar, wait, and see that you crave it later that day or the next). Try to eat the not-so-healthful foods less and you will crave them less.

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5. Seasonal. Many people rave about the benefits of eating seasonally but believe it or not your body actually craves different foods at different times of the year. In the spring, people crave detoxifying foods like leafy greens, berries, and citrus. During hot summer days people crave cooling foods like fresh fruit, vegetables, and ice cream. The fall brings cravings for grounding foods like squash, onions, nuts and sweets (thanks to Halloween and Thanksgiving). During winter, many crave warming foods like meat, roasted vegetables, soups, and warm spices like cinnamon and nutmeg. Enjoy these cravings. Paying attention to the seasons is a great way to eat a variety of foods throughout the year.

15 ways to instantly be happier!

1) Smile. The simple act will make you happier and if you give one you will often receive one.

2) Be kind- the more random the better. Hold the door for someone, talk with the check out lady at the grocery store, smile at a stranger, or even better compliment a stranger.

3) Leave inspirational quotes or little notes of kindness (you are beautiful, you are loved, check you out gorgeous) on the mirror in a public restroom, in a library book, or in a textbook. You will get continuous joy knowing you made the day of someone you’ll never meet.

4) Listen to music.

5) Be creative- take photographs, scrapbook, paint, journal, or my all time favorite- DANCE!


6) Make a homemade version that is better than store-bought- cookies, cheesecake, raw desserts, makeup, laundry detergent, etc…

7) Celebrate the small victories! If you finished a book, did well on a test, cleaned the bathroom (or just the tub), fixed the sink, or made a delicious dinner… give yourself an attaboy!

8) Breathe. Take four deep breaths (in through your nose and out through your mouth), relax, and simply be.


9) Be silent. This does not mean it is quiet but that you are quiet. Drive with the windows down and radio off, close your eyes and take a deep breath before beginning your work day, or sit silently in your car for a moment before you head home.

10) Enjoy nature- walk around your neighborhood, go on a hike, do work outside, or catch a sunrise or sunset. Look around and enjoy.


11) Stretch- in the morning or before bed.

12) Enjoy beautiful and delicious foods- the fresher the food and more vibrant the colors, the better you will feel.

Simple salad

13) Splurge every once in a while- sleep in or eat the cupcake.

14) Surround yourself with beautiful people- and I mean beautiful on the inside. Be with those you want to be more like. Take time to talk to them and more importantly listen to them.

15) Reach out and touch someone. In a relationship? Hold hands or give/get a massage. For a friend? Give a pat on the back or a hug.