Voted "Best OB-GYN" in Towne Lake, Woodstock and Canton Voted "Mom-Approved OBs" by Atlanta Parent magazine readers
Keep up with our
latest news & updates:

Category: Food

September 5, 2017
Dr. Haley photo

Dr. Haley

by James Haley, MD, FACOG, FPMRS

I have always had a personal interest in nutrition and fitness, and more so after I became a doctor and needed that knowledge to benefit my patients. After reading volumes of research on these subjects and hearing my patients’ struggles with weight gain, I came across nephrologist Dr. Jason Fung’s book, ‘The Obesity Code’.

Most of Dr. Fung’s patients are Type 2 diabetics, and he explains clearly how obesity is a problem due not to caloric intake, but to constant high levels of insulin in the body retained through frequent eating.

In short, Dr. Fung states that the more often you eat, refueling with snacks between meals, the longer your insulin levels remain elevated. Since insulin is a hormone that tells your body how much to eat and how much to burn, high insulin levels fool the body into thinking you are always hungry. Those messages cause you to eat more, and of course, gain weight.

How do you overcome this vicious circle?

1. Stop Snacking

This is the first step. Avoid especially the sugary and refined, processed foods which make your insulin levels spike and fall all day, perpetuating the cycle of hunger and sluggishness, making you think you’re hungry.

2. Stay Hydrated and Eat Well  

Drink plenty of water and eat healthy foods like vegetables, nuts, salads, fruit and protein-rich chicken and fish, which keep your insulin levels steady.

woman fasting fruit photo3. Fast

Fasting! The word may make you shudder. I’m not talking about a three-week, Gandhi-type fast. Dr. Fung suggests a “mini- fast”: going without breakfast. And yes, this goes against everything you’ve ever been told, that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. You don’t need to do it daily, but skipping breakfast gives your body about 14 hours of fasting from the night before. We need periods of time when we aren’t eating, when insulin can go down, leaving our bodies in energy burning mode. This one step will dramatically lower your insulin, which in turn acts to lower the body’s set weight. You’ll start to feel better, have more energy – and you may just get rid of that last, lingering ten pounds.

4. Consult Your Doctor

Fasting is never recommended for pregnant women, breastfeeding mothers, or people with certain diseases.

If you simply need a jump start to weight loss, try the mini-fasting route and let your body’s insulin levels drop to burn energy. You will be surprised at how much better you feel. Once you change your mindset about food, regulate your insulin, and time your meals, you will see many positive results. Whether you need to lose weight or not, you will definitely have more energy, and hopefully live a longer, healthier life.

To learn more about the other secret to regulating insulin for weight loss, read here.

January 18, 2017

An iron rich diet is important for women's health.Whether you currently suffer from a low iron or are at risk for an iron deficiency, you may want to begin introducing more iron into your diet.

Iron is elemental in helping transport oxygen throughout your body. Without a proper amount of iron in your daily life, you may wind up feeling some of the symptoms of iron deficiency. With the help of this article, you will learn how to add more iron into your diet safely.

You may be wondering if you have low iron. Take a look at some of the following symptoms to help determine if you have an iron deficiency.

  • Fatigue
  • Shortness of breath
  • Cold hands or feet
  • Dizziness
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Brittle nails and hair
  • Pale or ‘Sallow’ appearance
  • Pica (cravings for non-food items)

If any of these symptoms ring true for you, you might want to think about scheduling an appointment with your doctor. Many of these symptoms can mean multiple things so you should ask your doctor for a proper diagnosis. Talk to your OB-GYN about your concerns and any symptoms you may be having.

Who is at Risk for Iron Deficiency

While women are more likely to suffer from low iron than men, there are some women who are at a higher risk than others. The average woman between the ages of 14-50 should consume between 15mg and 18mg of iron on a daily basis. Use the below guide to determine if you are at a high risk for low iron levels.

Pregnant Women

Women who are pregnant need on average about twice as much iron in their bloodstream than non-pregnant women. A pregnant woman should consume 27mg of iron a day to cope with her growing fetus, and higher volume of blood levels.

Pregnant women who do not get enough iron on a daily basis are at a higher risk for a preterm birth or below-recommended weight for their little one.

Menstruating Women

Due to the loss of blood from your menstrual cycle, you may suffer from symptoms associated with low iron. Without proper iron levels throughout menstruation, you can deplete your irons stores causing month long fatigue. Introducing more iron into your diet during your period can keep iron stores built up.

Women who are menstruating should consume 18.9mg of iron and teenagers should consume 21.4mg during menstruation.

Women Before and After Surgery

Iron levels are critical to women going into surgery due to blood loss. If you plan to have surgery, your doctor may recommend adding more iron into your diet beforehand. Your doctor will likely continue to keep you on higher levels of iron than average until it is determined, your stores are built up enough.

Nutritional Tips to Safely Add Iron into Your Diet

While your doctor may recommend iron supplements, getting enough iron through your food is the safest option. Adding some of these minor dietary changes to your daily routine can have a significant impact on your life. You may begin to feel more energy almost immediately. You may also notice healthier hair, nails, and skin.

Below, you will find several tips on how to make minor dietary shifts to help improve and maintain your iron levels.

  • Don’t skip breakfast. Most of your daily iron is going to come from whole grain breakfast cereals with added iron.
  • Say hello to seafood. Clams, mussels, and oysters are filled with iron. Halibut, salmon, and tuna are also great sources of iron. When consuming fish that contains higher-mercury levels, stick to 12 ounces or less a week, especially if pregnant.
  • Introduce snacks loaded with iron into your daily diet, such as hummus or other bean dips. Add whole-grain crackers or bread for an added boost of iron.
  • Switch up your greens. When ordering a salad, choose one that has iron-rich greens such as spinach instead of iceberg or romaine.
  • Avoid drinking caffeinated beverages when consuming iron-rich foods. Caffeine can have adverse effects on how your body soaks in iron.
  • Add Vitamin C-rich foods such as oranges or tomatoes to the same meal as foods high in iron. Vitamin C can help your body absorb iron.

Final Thoughts

If you still have concerns about your iron levels, don’t hesitate to contact us. Your doctor may recommend making an appointment for further diagnosis of your symptoms.

November 1, 2016


It’s common knowledge that smoking, drinking or misusing drugs can be harmful to a growing fetus. It’s also becoming widely known that a proper prenatal diet is vitally important to a baby’s health and development.

We consider diet such an important factor in pre-pregnancy planning and prenatal care that we offer the options of both regular and holistic plant based prenatal nutrition information to all our patients. Our providers can help advise you on a regimen that works for you, based on your specific needs and preferences, even allowing for any budgetary limitations you may have. This service is available before, during, and after pregnancy.

Two of our physicians, Dr. Britton Crigler (MD, FACOG), and Dr. Kathryn Hale (MD, MPH, FACOG), are practicing vegans and pegans, respectively. Their expertise and input into prenatal holistic nutrition can prove invaluable should you choose to follow a plant based diet while pregnant.

What is Holistic Nutrition?

Holistic nutrition is eating foods that are as close to nature as possible. None of us would dream of walking into a lab, grabbing random test tubes, and drinking the contents. Yet, in essence, we do something similar to this every day by ingesting foods saturated in chemicals, additives and preservatives. Grocery store shelves bulge with genetically altered meat, produce, dry goods and beverages that make them look, sound, or taste more appealing.

The list of ingredients on most packaging has become so long that one almost needs a microscope to read the fine print. Even someone with 20/20 vision needs a PhD to decipher the multisyllabic contents on a box of crackers.

Your baby is completely dependent on you to provide her with the nourishment she needs to grow healthy and strong while she develops inside your body. Her bones, muscles, tissue and organs are sensitive to every bite you eat and every drop you drink, so if you opt for holistic nutrition, your baby also benefits from the purity of unprocessed, unrefined and organic food.

What’s the Difference Between a Vegetarian, Vegan and Pegan Diet?

A strict vegetarian diet consists of grains, seeds, nuts, vegetables and fruits, with no fish, meat, poultry, game or shellfish. In some cases, vegetarians will eat occasional dairy products and eggs, but emphasis in this diet is on the exclusion of all slaughtered animals. Less strict plant-based diets may include fish, dairy products, eggs and poultry. Most vegetarians exclude meat, but some include it infrequently.

A vegan diet is entirely plant based with no animal products. Emphasis is on seeds, nuts, fruits, grains and vegetables.

A pegan (paleo-vegan) low-glycemic diet consists of fruit, vegetables, meat, fish, and eggs. It omits dairy products, processed foods, grains, sugars and legumes.

Although these sound like contradictions of each other, they’re not. All three place importance on a natural plant based diet, and all are beneficial to good health, prenatal and otherwise. Though the pegan diet includes meat, it is in extremely limited quantities.

How Can Any of These Diets Help Me and My Baby?

Dr. Hale’s and Dr. Crigler’s diet regimens vary somewhat, but both stress the benefits of natural plant based nutrition to you and your baby. As a vegan, Dr. Crigler avoids meat completely and encourages eliminating it. He states:

“… A plant based diet has multiple benefits for women’s health…Even for our pregnant patients, a vegan or plant based diet free of dairy and meat can be very healthy for both baby and mother.”

As a pegan, Dr. Hale, who holds a plant based nutrition certificate, is not opposed to a scant quantity of organic meat or low toxin fish, but only considers inclusion of it as a second choice. Meatless pegan is her first. She also affirms:

“…Contrary to what many people think, pregnant women can be completely meat-free and get sufficient protein to support a healthy pregnancy…”

Both also agree that protein can be derived from other holistic sources.

Dr. Hale recommends taking B12 and DHEA if you opt for pegan. Dr. Crigler prescribes B12 and Vitamin D if you prefer vegan. These supplements round out a healthy regimen, supplying the body with everything it needs to maintain optimum prenatal performance.

Both are also in total agreement that vegan and paleo-vegan nutrition help prenatal and postnatal women in the following ways by:

    • Decreasing preeclampsia risk
    • Providing antioxidants
    • Producing more beneficial, purer breast milk
    • Preventing breast, colon and ovarian cancer
    • Minimizing incidents of allergies to your baby
    • Lowering exposure to additional or harmful hormones.

Holistic nutrition can also alleviate the symptoms of chronic conditions and diseases such as:

    • Endometriosis
    • Lupus
    • Acne
    • Irritable bowel syndrome
    • Heart disease
    • Type 2 diabetes
    • Constipation
    • Systemic inflammation
    • Polycystic ovarian syndrome
    • Heavy menstrual periods
    • Menstrual cramps.

Additionally, holistic nutrition has been known to enhance mental clarity, improve energy and help with weight loss.

Isn’t it Dangerous to Suddenly Change My Diet While Pregnant? Am I Not Eating for Two Now?

Pregnancy is one of the best times to address the subject of nutrition. In a sense, you are eating for two, but this doesn’t mean double the amount. It means that you have to fuel two growing bodies with the vitamins, minerals and nutrients they both need to remain healthy.

A developing fetus can not only sap your energy by absorbing all the ‘goodness’ it needs from the food you ingest, it can deprive you of what you need to remain strong and fit enough to handle all the physical, emotional, and hormonal changes that are going to happen during the next few months.

Proper nutrition replaces what the fetus depletes, preparing the two of you for the intensity of labor and delivery. Holistic nutrition counseling can help make the choices that are right for you.

For more information on high risk pregnancy, visit Northside Hospital Cherokee.

To schedule an appointment to discuss your needs, call 770.720.7733.

October 4, 2016

Vegans can have healthy pregnancy without adding animal products to their diets.A healthy pregnancy requires that mothers-to-be eat foods rich in vitamins and minerals to help support their growing baby. One of the first prenatal appointments with an obstetrician will include a discussion about what foods to eat or avoid in order to provide optimal nutrition for fetal growth. The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists suggests that pregnant women eat a well-rounded diet which should consist of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, dairy, and meat. However, for those whose diets stray from the five food groups, such as vegans, or vegetarians, they simply need to find other foods or supplements that will provide adequate nutrition for themselves and their babies.

Veganism is a dietary lifestyle which completely abstains from the consumption of animal products. A vegan’s diet eliminates: eggs, meat, dairy, honey, etc. It is not imperative for a vegan mother-to-be to include these food items in her diet because a 100% plant-based diet can include all the required nutrition a mom and baby need. A fundamental step is making sure to find alternative sources for the all-important vitamins and minerals needed to foster healthy development and less pregnancy complications.


No matter her dietary lifestyle, iodine is one of the essential minerals that a pregnant woman must consume. Iodine is important for proper thyroid function, and critical during pregnancy for fetal neurological development. The recommendation for pregnant women is 220 micrograms of iodine a day. Even a small deficiency can have a major impact on fetal development, which is why sources of iodine need to be included in consumption. Due to its use in the milking process, dairy can often be a main source of iodine intake for women. Instead of dairy, a vegan mother can add iodine to her diet by taking iodine supplements, eating fortified foods, or using iodized table salt.


Iron is a mineral often found in red meat. Iron deficiency anemia is a concern for pregnant vegans, unless they can find alternative sources for the mineral. The body requires at least 30 milligrams of iron daily during pregnancy to increase blood supply and foster a healthy fetus. In addition to possibly adding in iron supplements, pregnant vegans should be eating green leafy vegetables, whole grains, and dried beans daily to ensure necessary iron levels.


For vegans, sufficient calcium intake will be more tedious to acquire than simply drinking milk. 1,000 mg. are needed during pregnancy to help build healthy fetal bones and teeth. Vegans can turn to kale as a large source of calcium to add to their diet. Other top vegan calcium sources include: almonds, bok choy, turnip greens, or fortified foods such as soy milk, cereal or orange juice.

Vitamin B12:

When it comes to vitamins, one vitamin vital to pregnancy is Vitamin B12. Vegans do not naturally consume as much B12, because they abstain from eating animal products which are rich sources of the vitamin. Plant products do not contain a considerable amount of B12, but foods such as cereal are often fortified with the vitamin. Pregnant women are recommended to take 2.6 mcg. of B12 a day, and even slightly more when breastfeeding. B12 deficiency is life-threatening, so pregnant and breastfeeding vegans need to ensure that their levels are appropriate for pregnancy.

Vegan mothers should bring up any questions or concerns to their doctor when it comes to meeting the crucial vitamin and mineral intake during both pregnancy and breastfeeding. It is always recommended to not begin taking any additional vitamins or supplements without consulting a physician first. If a mom-to-be is struggling to reach these nutritional values, she may be put in touch with a nutritionist, who can assist in planning a suitable diet for the duration of pregnancy and breastfeeding. Having a baby changes everything; but moms don’t have to completely adjust their dietary lifestyles to keep themselves and their baby healthy.


August 5, 2016

Nutrition is an important part of pregnancy. It gives moms the opportunity to increase their intake of vitamins, minerals, and essential nutrients. This boosts their energy, helps their babies’ development, and can even improve some of the symptoms of pregnancy. But as important as what to eat when pregnant is a topic that’s decidedly less fun: what not to eat during pregnancy.

Foods to Avoid During Pregnancy

  • Raw meats. Raw or undercooked meat can carry all kinds of bacteria. Stay away from rare beef and poultry, sushi, uncooked hot dogs, and items that contain raw eggs, which may include salad dressings and sauces (be careful about Caesar salad dressing and aioli!), raw cookie dough, and desserts like tiramisu.
  • Other meats. Just because it’s cooked doesn’t mean that it’s safe. Expectant mothers should avoid eating deli meat, smoked seafood, fish containing mercury, refrigerated pate or meat spreads, and fresh meat that may have been exposed to pollutants.
  • Soft cheese. Some imported soft cheeses–including brie, feta, Camembert, and many Mexican quesos–are not made with pasteurized milk, which increases the risk of listeria. Love soft cheese? Read the label! If it was made with pasteurized milk, you’re free to satisfy your cravings.
  • Unpasteurized anything. Milk is the biggie, but moms-to-be should also avoid unpasteurized juices, especially ones bought from local farms.
  • Unwashed veggies. Vegetables provide essential nutrients for pregnant women and the babies they carry. Just make sure to wash them before digging in.
  • pregnant woman eating yogurtCaffeine. New studies show that small amounts of caffeine are okay later in pregnancy, but expectant mothers should keep a close eye on their caffeine intake. Try to avoid caffeine entirely during the first trimester. Consume no more than 200 mg per day later in your pregnancy, or you may increase your risk of miscarriage, premature birth, or low birth weight. (*Tips for pregnant women who consume caffeine: drink plenty of water, remember that decaf coffee contains caffeine, and look for hidden caffeine in protein bars, yogurt, and candy).
  • Alcohol. Most moms know not to drink alcohol during pregnancy, because it can lead to Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. But in today’s climate of “sure, that’s fine!” advice, it bears repeating: no matter what you see in the news, alcohol is a big no-no for moms-to-be.

Cherokee Women’s Health helps expectant mothers in Canton through the unique experience of pregnancy. For a personalized diet plan, advice on healthy eating and fitness during pregnancy, and other prenatal care, schedule an appointment with one of our certified physicians or midwives.

regnant Woman Eating Yogurt

June 23, 2016

Every woman gains weight during pregnancy. For some, this is a positive experience: the healthy glow and rounded figure are a badge of honor, broadcasting her good news to the world. For others, it’s a struggle: dealing with the stress of weight fluctuation on top of the other body changes pregnancy brings. But all moms share the same question: how much pregnancy weight gain is too much?

Healthy Weight Gain During Pregnancy
stepping on scaleThe amount of weight gained during pregnancy isn’t an abstract question. It can affect the health of both mother and child during gestation. Gaining too much weight contributes to postpartum weight retention, but gaining too little leads to inadequate birth weight of your infant. If you’re worried about weight gain, discuss it with your obstetrician or CNM. Your physician can give you an individual assessment to make sure you gain a healthy amount of weight during pregnancy. To get you started, here’s a handy chart from the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.

  • For underweight mothers (BMI of 18.5 or less), the recommended gain is 28-40 lb
  • For average weight women (18.5-24.9 BMI), there’s a recommended weight gain of 25-35 lb
  • For overweight (25-29.9 BMI) moms, doctors recommend a 15-25 lb weight gain
  • For obese mothers (30 BMI and higher), the recommended weight gain is 11-20 lb

How to Control Weight During Pregnancy
If you’re gaining too much or too little weight during pregnancy, ask your obstetrician about a personalized nutrition plan. Not only will a proper diet improve your weight gain, it will also provide necessary nutrients to you and your baby. Moms-to-be can also begin a pregnancy exercise routine to improve health and decrease the discomforts of pregnancy. Some conditions make exercising during pregnancy unsafe, so always speak to your doctor before starting a new fitness regimen.

Want to learn more about nutrition, fitness, and healthy weight gain during pregnancy? Visit Northside Hospital-Cherokee or make an appointment with one of our providers today at 770-720-7733

February 16, 2016

pregnant woman with heart

This February, Cherokee Women’s Health celebrates American Heart Health Month. After all, moms-to-be aren’t just keeping one heart healthy. From the first time you hear your baby’s heartbeat, your own is racing with anticipation, joy, and more than a few nerves. Keep your heart strong during pregnancy by taking care of your body and your health.

Nutrition During Pregnancy
Every pregnancy is different, and as a mom-to-be, you need your own, doctor-recommended diet to ensure you and your baby get all the nutrients you need. But refocusing on diet and exercise helps you maintain your weight, limit the effects of post-partum, and keep your baby growing strong.

Eat high fiber grains and nuts
Get plenty of omega-3 fatty acids from olive oil and pregnancy-safe fish like salmon
Avoid salt, which can increase blood pressure
Do several low-to-moderate intensity workouts each week, unless your doctor recommends rest
Avoid eating or drinking caffeine, which can cause irregular heartbeats

Avoid Consuming Caffeine
Caffeine increases your blood pressure and heart rate — bad news for both your pregnancy and your heart health. Not only can it lead to dehydration, caffeine crosses the placenta to your baby, who can’t yet metabolize it . Most women know to avoid major sources of caffeine like coffee during pregnancy, but you may not realize how many of your favorite craving snacks sneak caffeine into the mix.

Caffeine is found in:

  • Tea
  • Soda
  • Coffee (even decaf!)
  • Chocolate
  • Energy-enhancing foods and drinks (such as energy water or fortified foods)
  • Coffee or chocolate flavored ice cream
  • Some over-the-counter pain relievers like Excedrin

While it’s considered safe to consume small amounts of caffeine during pregnancy, it’s easy to lose track. Talk to your doctor about how much caffeine is safe for you and your baby during your pregnancy.

Heart Disease and Pregnancy
If you’ve ever been diagnosed with heart disease, high blood pressure, or have had cardiac symptoms such as chest pain, shortness of breath or palpitations, alert both your cardiologist and your OB-GYN. List all medications you’re taking, and make sure none of them will have adverse side effects on your baby’s development.

For more information on health during pregnancy, contact Cherokee Women’s Health.

Pregnancy Image

December 16, 2015

dr-hale-sunburst-pngTalking Veggies with Dr. Hale
We recently sat down with Dr. Hale to chat with her about her nutrition journey. Always a proponent of healthy eating, Dr. Hale began eating a plant-based diet last fall. She was enthusiastic about the positive results from her new eating habits, and shared the surprising connections between diet and “classic” female health issues, ranging from polycystic ovaries to adult acne, and even heavy, painful periods.

Pegan Dish PhotoThe Unhealthy Vegan – Go “Pegan”
Specifically, Dr. Hale’s diet can be referred to as a whole food, plant-based diet with an emphasis on whole grains, fruits, vegetables and legumes. “This is an important clarification,” she said, “because it is often confused with a vegan diet.” Her diet is not vegan; as vegan diets can still consist of a lot of processed, unhealthy foods.

A “pegan” diet is low glycemic, still high in vegetables and fruits, but allows for a small amount of high quality organic meats or low mercury, low toxin fish. Here, meat is used more as a condiment rather than the main feature. This is Dr. Hale’s second choice as an ideal diet. Her preference is still a completely plant based diet.

What advice would you give to others for transitioning to a plant-based diet?
The big thing is to consider food as medicine. (There’s lots of emerging evidence on this topic.) So if health is a priority, you need to be more attentive to what you’re putting into your body. If you try to have a more plant-forward diet (having more of your meals and more of your plate consist of vegetables), you are likelier to get a healthy dose of antioxidants and other things that help your body naturally detox.

Pegan Dish PhotoWhen I’m counseling patients about making a lifestyle change, I get them to look at lifestyle changes that will improve their health in the long-term.

When I was younger I had very heavy, painful periods. One of my main goals for transitioning to a plant based diet was to improve my periods as well as my overall health.

What are the benefits for women who choose to eat a plant-based diet?
While not everyone is guaranteed to have the same results, women with endometriosis can benefit from avoiding red meat and dairy as a means to reduce inflammation in their body. Many women with PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome) can improve their hormone balance through a low glycemic, plant based diet. A plant based diet is also a great strategy for achieving and maintaining a healthy weight. It also can reduce their risk for heart disease, which is the leading cause of death for women in the United States.

Are there any downsides to not eating meat?
I personally don’t think so. Contrary to what many people think, pregnant women can be completely meat-free and get sufficient protein to support a healthy pregnancy. They should, however, supplement with B12 and DHEA since these nutrients are harder to get naturally on a completely plant based diet.

dr-hale-running-picWhat are the first things you noticed happening to your body/mind after you changed your diet?
An increase in energy was the most noticeable change. Excess sugar sucks my mental clarity. Also, my menstrual flow wasn’t as heavy with hardly any cramps. As an added bonus I
also lost about 20-25 pounds.

How soon did you notice a difference after you switched up your diet?
In terms of my cycle, I noticed changes within a few months. A lot of people do notice that their skin clears up because you’re removing those inflammatory foods. That aspect for me has been a slower process since I’m working through multiple food sensitivities which I’ve learned also affects acne in adults.

How do you view your role for patients looking to make a dietary change?
I see my role as trying to help patients attain and maintain long-term health. Improving your nutrition is a way to be proactive about your health and do more than just depending on pills. I encourage patients to focus on the things they can add to make positive lifestyle changes rather than focusing on what they can’t have or do. Making small changes over time can help produce more sustainable change in the long term. This also helps fight an all-too-common diet “crash-and-burn.”

Do you have any suggestions on how to make the changes easier?

Having a buddy makes it easier. I have a certificate in Plant Based Nutrition through the T. Colin Campbell Center of Nutrition Studies that I feel equips me to support patients wanting to make positive changes in their diet. Dr. Crigler has many years of experience with a plant based diet so is also a good resource. There are also numerous resources available including websites, books, movies and more. While the New Year is a common time to make lifestyle changes, there is never a bad time to improve your health.

Below are a handful of resources that Dr. Hale recommends:

21daykickstart.org – free meal plans by the Physician Committee for Responsible Medicine in addition to numerous informative articles
Yum Universe – the blog that got Dr. Hale started with tasty plant based recipes
T. Colin Campbell Center for Nutrition Studies – articles, inspirational stories and recipes
The China Study – a book based on a landmark study in nutrition and disease.
Happy Herbivore encouraging blog and low-cost meal plans
Forks Over Knives – inspirational film, app and meal plans
Food Matters TV – hungry for change movie
Mark Hyman, MD – a proponent of the pegan diet
Plant Pure Nation – movie released earlier this year. You can join a “pod” in your area for support for your healthy lifestyle.

Dr. Hale on Vacation! Staying Healthy – Mind, Body and Soul
With all that hiking and fresh air, it’s clear to see that Dr. Hale not only talks the talk, she walks the walk!

Dr. Hale Vacation Photos



August 4, 2015

Dr. Hale talks about what inspired her to become an OB/GYN and what she feels is important in life.

Dr. Hale arrives with a glowing smile for her interview at the bakery Smallcakes, where she orders a gluten-free cupcake. She’s brought a colorful journal, a Whitney English Day Designer, the cover of which says “Life + Business + Creativity.” A glance at the pages reveals Dr. Hale’s closely written thoughts and ideas.

Question: When did you know you wanted to be a doctor? What was your inspiration?
Dr. Hale: My mom tells the story that when I was a young child, I said to her doctor, “When I grow up, I want to be a “obb-ta-trishun.”

I’ve always felt called to be a healer. My life took many turns, but eventually I ended up pursuing a combined MD/MPH (Masters in Public Health) degree at St. George’s University School of Medicine in Grenada, West Indies. I did half my clinical rotations in the United Kingdom and half in the U.S. I particularly enjoyed the U.K. Obstetric rotation where I primarily trained under midwives. I believe that influenced how I approach birth today.

Question: That’s so interesting, because I’ve heard you’re called “a gifted surgeon,” yet you have this streak that takes you into more holistic approaches. What got you started studying plant-based nutrition?
Dr. Hale: It was partly for myself. As a young woman I suffered with horrendous periods. My cycles had been controlled with oral contraceptives, however after getting married I began to research more natural solutions for menstrual health. I had a great deal of success with following a whole food plant-based diet. My experience motivated me to obtain more formal nutrition training to better equip patients to transform their health through diet.

Dr. Hale recently earned a certificate in Plant-Based Nutrition through the T. Colin Campbell Center for Nutrition Studies.

Dr. Hale recently earned a certificate in Plant-Based Nutrition through the T. Colin Campbell Center for Nutrition Studies.

Question: That’s a beautiful journal. What can you tell us about it?
Dr. Hale: This journal is really about working out who you are – what you believe, your values, and how you bring it into your life, day to day. When you’re on purpose, it reflects in the gifts you bring to your work and the people around you. For me, it’s very important that my purpose, my faith, my family, and my work all align. And that I communicate that in my words and actions. “Breathe in love, breathe out life”

An original personal motto Dr. Hale has posted in her office

An original personal motto Dr. Hale has posted in her office


Click here to learn more about Dr. Hale’s experience and credentials.

September 12, 2013

Last week we received a great question from a potential patient about different types of protein alternatives for vegetarians and vegans. This topic is especially pertinent for a handful of our OB/GYNs,  as Dr. Gandhi and Dr. Crigler are vegans and Dr. Litrel is striving to maintain a vegan diet. If you are looking for alternatives to animal-based proteins, whether it’s due to health reasons, personal beliefs or because you’re looking for alternatives due to pregnancy food aversions, never fear. There are plenty of great options to help keep your body healthy and strong. Here are a few of our favorites: woman-eating-fruit-salad

  • Whole grains – Surprise! Certain whole grains can also be a good source of protein. These include whole wheat, brown rice, whole-grain cereals, wild and brown rice, barley, bulgar, millet, couscous and quinoa. Here’s a little tip about quinoa: it contains more than 8 grams of protein per cup, including all nine essential amino acids that the body needs. For an added protein punch, add wheat germ or rolled oats to your recipes when baking,
  • Soy – Whether it comes in the form of soy milk, edamame (soybeans), or tofu, soy is an excellent source of protein. Foods made from soy contain some of the highest amounts of vegetarian protein.
  • Legumes –  Chock-full of protein legumes offer a variety of options in the form of split or green peas, soybeans, chickpeas, black beans, navy beans, kidney and pinto beans. Two cups of kidney beans, for example, contain about 26 grams of protein! And don’t forget the old standbys of peanuts and peanut butter.
  • Seeds – Sunflower seeds, poppy seeds and sesame seeds all contain protein. Sunflower seeds contain the most at 7.3 grams per quarter cup. Try topping a salad with sunflower or sesame seeds, or adding poppy seeds to a vinaigrette.

Whatever the reason for your diet preferences, the physicians at Cherokee Women’s Health are dedicated to help you find ways to get healthy and stay healthy. Don’t hesitate to let us know if you have questions about diet and healthy food options when you’re in our office for your next appointment.

1 2 »

Request a Consultation

Recent Posts



“Dr. Litrel was a fantastic doctor. I had my first exam with him, although at first I was skeptical about a male doctor for my GYN. But after I met him I’m glad I kept an open mind, and I couldn’t have dreamed up a better doctor. He cares about you as a person and not just a patient. The front desk ladies and nurses were very friendly and it’s a great office, very clean and not intimidating. I highly recommend Cherokee Women’s Health.”
– Vicki