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Holistic health coach Ami Patrick would rather focus on a “crowding in” philosophy for her clients instead of foods they can’t eat.

“So if I have a client who’s drinking five diet sodas a day, I don’t say, ‘Tomorrow you have to give up all of those sodas.’ I say, ‘Let’s crowd in water,’ and we’ll slowly build and slowly build and slowly build, and sometimes getting rid of the soda happens pretty quickly, because people start to feel better,” said Patrick, 38, of Youngstown, a former Weight Watchers coach who changed to a mostly vegan, gluten-free diet after struggling with digestive issues. She owns her own small business, Embody Health and Wellness (embodyhealthandwellness.com), and recently landed a job at the new Trader Joe’s in Amherst.

What are three foods to throw into the mix this holiday season?

Root vegetables, things like beets and yams and squash – all different kinds of squashes – and turnips and parsnips. When we crowd in more of those root vegetables, which are naturally sweet, it tends to take away some of those sweet cravings. Cacao, a 100 percent pure form of chocolate. It has more antioxidants than green tea and blueberries, red wine and pomegranates combined. It is amazing for your heart, it gives you wonderful energy and is very anti-inflammatory. It’s bitter, so you can use a natural sweetener with it, things like maple syrup, coconut sugar, raw honey. … I would say greens, too, things like kale, Swiss chard. When we incorporate greens, we get more alkaline and our bodies are more in balance. When we eat more in balance, we have less cravings, because cravings are messages to our body that something’s off.

What are the staples of your diet?

Lots and lots of vegetables and greens every day. I also love some of my super foods, my chia seeds or my flax seeds or my hemp seeds. They’re great for your essential fatty acids, which, as a vegetarian, are very important for me to incorporate. I like avocado and coconut for my healthy fats; and whole grains: oats and quinoa and rice. Basically, a whole foods-based diet,

– Scott Scanlon